Saturday, November 28, 2009

DoomWatch Watch: The Inquest

Best Doomwatch ever. Forget your Plastic Eaters and your Rats, this one is just great.

Oh, it's dull and cheap, but that's its charm. For a start, it's Computer Colin's episode. In every single other episode he's just mumbled "Eckee thump, I'll run it through t'computer, but ee, I've got other work ta do, ya know," but finally they give him something to do, and he absolutely shines.

With every other member of the team on holiday or off filming, Quist summons Colin to the office. "It's a studio-based courtroom drama. I can't be bothered. Off you trot, old chap" and, with a face like a lovesick haddock, off Colin slouches to go and attend an inquest into a girl who died of rabies.

Since Colin is a man of considerable girth, this features quite the stockiest guest cast of any Doomwatch episode - the world's fattest coroner, the largest ever Lady Bountiful, and the widest ever man from the ministry. It's like a Slitheen convention!

Size isn't Colin's only asset - turns out he's a great actor, and you immediately wish that DoomWatch was just him and Quist solving science crimes like a grumpy Steed and Mrs Peel.

Setting almost the entire action in a country hotel allows the episode to really unwrap a complicated scientific mystery - what killed the girl? Was it really a rabid dog? Or was it a mutant tse-tse fly escaped from the local maverick scientist's lab?

Mary Lincoln from Sybil Hall - a solid dog-breeding gal decked out in Evans' country casuals range, carefully explains her solid theory that it was a mutated fly carrying a version of rabies. A theory that has the whole village on her side - because Science Is Wrong, and the government just want to kill their dogs, the swine.

It's up to Colin to quietly, patiently knock this down. Without test-tubes or a computer he just stands there and simply, and patiently explains the process of genetic manipulation and you just go "Coooo. I've actualy learned something. Blimey, this guy's great."

Just when you're turning against Mrs Lincoln, it turns out that the rabid dog came from her farm! Gasp! She was the evil one all along, not the Sinister Scientist!

Then, in another shift, it turns out that the dog came from Sinister Scientist's lab after all... so it was him! Only... he didn't know it had rabies. The dog was stolen from his lab by the genial pub landlord's son, and he's been keeping a whole pack of rabid hounds in a shed... and the kid's been bitten himself. So if anyone's evil, it's the kid - only he was simply misguided.

Just when you think this is the most morally complicated Doomwatch yet, up pops Quist wearing what can only be described as his Battle Dungarees. He's worked it out - the rabid dog was actualy procured for the scientist by the genial pub landlord - he's effectively killed one girl, and now his own son is ill. Case closed. The Villagers rush off to get their torches and pitchforks.

Time for Doomwatch to make a quick exit, but not before Quist, with his famous sensitivity, gets to say to the landlord "Well, you'd better hope we got to your son in time. Cheerio."

And then they're off. Whole thing utterly brilliant - neat idea, some solid explanation of science, great characters and a thumping good guest cast. More like this please.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sad Face

I remember once laughing at my friend Lee when he announced that he was stopping seeing someone because of "their appalling sex face".

You know what, I thought, surely it can never be that bad? I mean, I've seen a fair few, some of them quite 2012. There was Craig the Builder in Oxford who had a bed made out of an old car. His "moment of pleasure" was so extreme that it was like an epileptic fit, which means that I've been in an indoor car crash. It's true. The whole thing tipped over like a smart car in a hurricane and Craig landed on top of me still spasming like a landed trout with his foot stuck in the glove compartment.

But anyway, that's not my point. My point is that I could never quite see how anyone could manage to find a sex face so deeply appalling that they'd stop seeing someone... and then....

Well, I was dating this guy over the summer. And he was lovely. Cultured, smart, nice. Only he reminded me of someone. Just a bit. And especially when he was approaching lift off.

But I couldn't quite put my finger on it when I was putting my finger on it. There was definitely something familiar about him, but I just couldn't quite work out what. Until one day Lee asked me to describe him.

"Oh," I said, "He's like a sexy... a sexy... Martin Clunes."

Lee stared at me. And I suddenly realised the full horror of what I'd just said.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Online dating fail

I receive the following message this week from an 18 year old:

"Hi. I fancy a good seeing-to from an old man. U up for it?"


Saturday, November 21, 2009


I've had a slight cold this week. Which has been useful in that it's meant that I've been able to have a succession of days of mild lunchtime drinking (dunno why, but whenever I've got a cold, my body stops finding alcohol a struggle).

Yesterday I stomped around Brighton with friends, which was marvellous and a bit drunken and involved sitting in a bar working my way through the bespoke cocktail menu before getting on a train home. Why is Brighton so easy to get to but so hard to leave? Is there some kind of magnetic pull, or is it just that the trains are odd?

Anyway, brilliantly, I sat on the train back watching cluthing this:

It is, of course, wrong to assemble the Lego Christmas Toy Shop until December. But oh happy day!

Also on the train I watched the first episode of Fringe Series 2. By the end of Series 1, plucky Olivia Dunham still hadn't cracked a smile, lightened up, or done anything in the way of likeable or warm. She's got the screen presence of a wine cooler.

Without spoilers, series 2 opens with Olivia in hospital, and the regular cast getting on just fine without her. They've even got a new female FBI agent - she's perky, smart and sassy, is clearly fun to be around and likes the central heating on. She probably owns a shitload of cats.

By the end of the episode, it's clear that poor old Deadly Dull Dunham is on probation. When the rest of the cast catch up with her on hospital and deliver lines like "Oh it's great to see you're better" and "We really can't live without you" it's clear they're actually thinking the exact opposite. But will Agent Dunham learn her lesson quickly enough to save the show? Hmmn.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Waters of Arse

I got back from holiday to find my flat flooded by the toilet upstairs. It took me a while to notice, but I'm gradually discovering pots and pans in the kitchen cupboards full of strangely coloured water. Plus there's a smell - not a nice smell. It turns out, of course, that Camden don't particularly care about sorting this out, and neither do the two flats upstairs, each of them happily blaming the other.

Not amusing, but there we go. I'm having one of those weeks, really - nice things are ,erely the sandwich filling for the bread of bitterness, the jam in the pop tart of misery. So, I had a lovely holiday - and then come back to find my flat slighty pooey. Equally, the world's most attractive Slovakian comes round... and gives me his cold.

Cheeringly, though, last night I went out for drinks with the Perfectons, and they were as stunning as ever. One of them is currently saving Surry from environmental collapse (2012 for the home counties), the other is juggling server farm administration with starring in a ballet. He showed me the pictures on his iPhone, and my tiny heart broke just a little.

We were having a lovely evening - or, at least, they were ignoring my cold and telling me about their conquest of a Latvian Florist - cold, dead eyes of a killer, but fabulous and high-maintenance. I've asked for his details, as, now I've got a cat, I figure I could handle high-maintenance gays.

Anyway, suddenly a good-looking man lands face down on our table. He looks up at us, shrugs, apologises in French, and is then shoved out of the bar by a very drunk man who staggers up to us. "Excuse my friend!" he squawks. "That's Harry Potter! From the future! Which is why he's French!"

He explains that his tipsy friend is an actor who may, just may, have been cast in the last Harry Potter film as a grown-up Harry. Or, and this is where it got confusing, Harry Potter's grown-up hands. "Beautiful fingers," the drunk man sighed, "He does typing for me, but now he's getting proper work with those lovely hands. Bless him."

He pulled up a chair and joined us (why do drunks do this?). Clearly, sumo-throwing a Frenchman onto our table was his version of a calling card, and now he was going to tell us the story of his life. Or, at least, he coughed and said "I'm an entrepreneur."

This is a terrible thing to call yourself - I remember trying to rent out a box-room on the Abingdon Road 12 years ago and being surprised to receive a call from someone who said they were "An International Shipping Magnate". This is kind of in the same league.

But eventually he ran out of things to say, squeezed one of the Perfectons on the shoulder and staggered out into the night.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Note to self

If you *must* eye up men on the train, don't pick on the ones wearing a black tie.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Door to Door

I get back from leaving the cat in Plymouth so I can go on holiday and I find on my doorstep a complete DVD of After Henry and an nPower salesman.

Ordinarily, this raises my blood pressure to Telegraph-reading Colonel. But recently I've discovered I can exist in two states at the same time.

As an example: Both jealous when a friend gets a plum bit of work, and also skippily excited for them. I may be unable to pat my head and my stomach at the same time, but I can manage jealous delight.

And the same thing's just happened. On the one hand boiling fury that nPower are trying to sell me crappy electricity again. On the other hand, they've switched tactics and have sent round a seriously hot Greek student.

So I listen to his sales spiel, and remember a friend of mine from Leeds who had to try and sell utilities on an army base and regularly put out as an extra incentive to bored soldiers. And I think "hmmn, how desperate are nPower?"

Friday, November 06, 2009

Work displacement activity

I've run out of work. Honestly, genuinely run out of work. I'm waiting for feedback on about five different projects and to hear if another couple are commissioned. So, in the meantime, I am twiddling my thumbs.

It's maddening. It's like being on holiday without, you know, being on holiday. Reading a book feels like skiving rather than relaxing, and the only thing I can legitimately do is go to the gym, so I'm suddenly avoiding it like the plague. There are about three different left-over DIY projects I should be doing, but who really feels like sorting out hanging baskets in November?

So, instead, I keep finding myself in strange corners of London with gentlemen of leisure. You know, foreign students, music producers, IT consultants with a day off, bar men. We're a strange, shiftless bunch and, after a few days of it, I'm thinking "you know, honestly, I'd rather be playing around with Lego and working through all those DVDs I've always meant to watch". It's enormously exciting, and there's a certain joy to suddenly being in Croydon, but it's also... curiously pointless. I guess, like Loose Women and ebay, it's an obsession that only comes around when there's nothing else on.

Plus, I've come up with a new rule for internet dating: The keener they are to come over, the less likely. "I'm heading out now" means "I'm heading out never". It's the laid-back ones who are the low-hanging fruit.

Hanging out with afternoon vampires has a certain charm, though. Especially if they're reassuringly nutty. Take Eduardo the Spanish Programmer. His living room is full of games consoles. He's paused some driving game seemingly mid crash, and a giant steering wheel sits on the coffee table surrounded by condoms. "We play on the couch," he says. I've always worried about gays who "play". I guess it lacks the anglo-saxon brutality of some of the terms, but there's also that slight naffness ("We love to play together" ranks up there with "I don't bite, unless you want me to lol" in cyber-drabness).

It's like we have to make the extraordinary somehow boring - pausing an afternoon's gaming to order in a total stranger for sex - utterly natural. Of course, then Eduardo says something totally unnatural: "Please don't kiss me. I find two men kissing... I don't like it, yes?" And weirdly, I wonder if Nick Griffin would be pleased or not.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Pony tale

There's a running sketch in the new series of Armstrong and Miller about a suave man with a ponytail which induces nausea:

So anyway, there I am at the weekend in bed with an Italian, and I suddenly realise he's got a pony tail. This is a puzzler which sets three things off in my head.
  1. How did I not notice this before?
  2. It's really a very, very short pony tail, and honestly, I've shagged mullets from Swansea so this shouldn't be much worse, but somehow it really truly is.
  3. That Armstrong and Miller sketch.