Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Boxing Day Monday

I am in the countryside. Nothing is happening. I have a cold, internet access is only possible by sitting in the driveway, the cat is somewhere in the roof, and the only thing on the telly is Midsomer Murders.

Plus no vodka or fags.

Seeing my folks is a bit like going to a health farm. And yet lovely.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Being Human and stuff.

Excitingly my Being Human novel comes out next February, and you can already buy it. It has Mitchell on the cover and features bingo. This is all you need to know. You can also buy the other books by the lovely Simon and Mark, or, naturally, watch the show in January.

In further exciting news, you can apparently pre-order a Doctor Who Audiobook by me from Amazon too.

Or, you can simply get on with wrapping Christmas Presents. Totally up to you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Eurostar Disaster

You absolutely must watch: The Chief Executive of Eurostar skewering himself on BBC News.

It's a truly awful performance. You've trapped thousands of terrified people in darkness for 15 freezing hours with no light, water, food, toilets or explanation. Your only approach is to utterly and completely apologise and then lock youself overnight in an unlit oven awash with baby vomit and the shit of strangers. And then apologise again.

Or, if you're Richard Brown, the hapless Eurostar head being thrown to the dogs you...
  • Make a fumbling apology with all the sincerity of "your call is important to us".
  • Weasel-shift the blame onto Eurotunnel.
  • Insist "We were well prepared, but... ah..." in the face of the evidence.
  • When told passengers heard a driver sobbing to look appalled.
  • When asked about compensation, loftily announce "That's what travel insurance is for".
  • Accidentally imply that the service has utterly collapsed.
  • And make the wonderful slip "When we re-doom service, er, resume..."

It's compelling television career suicide, a unique perfomance blending lofty disdain with "is-he-going-to-throw-up-from-fear?". There are times to abandon your careful media training and go for transparent honesty. Especially when you've clearly screwed up massively and are obviously as ill-at-ease as a cabinet minister caught nuts deep in a rent boy live on the GMTV sofa.

I've spent two years being smug that I live 200 yards from the Eurostar. It's massively improved the area and was, until the weekend, one of the loveliest trains ever not made out of Lego. But right now, it's something to be utterly ashamed of.

UPDATE: A fascinating post from Eurostar's social networking agency which explains that the company were ony really interested in things like Twitter for sales and marketing. Oh dear... Includes a "Hostage Execution" style video interview with Richard Brown.

Also some really horrible stories and analysis from the ground here.

I noticed that Mr Brown had been retired as a talking head by the time of the one o'clock news - after Eurotunnel published a press release saying "Don't try blaming this on us sunshine". Sadly, Brown is now back talking about "improving the winterisation of our train sets".

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weird spam

Going through my spam folder I found an invite to an "Adults Only Dating Site". Well yeah, I thought, I should hope so, otherwise everyone involved is gonna get in a whole lot of trouble.

Other than that, my spam folder contains a lot of offers from Waitrose and lonely married women. I'm wondering if I should put the two in touch?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cheap week

The nice thing about being a freelance is the merciful lack of Christmas Parties, the staggering shortage of late night cabs home, the wonderful dirth of let's-go-on-somewhere. It's been a cheap week, and god knows, I need one of those (why do personal finances, no matter how rosy, suddenly look scary in December?).

Last night I decided I was going to go out. It would be a treat. I'd had a day of cat-sitting which had not gone particularly well. In my head my cat would meet Lee's kitten and there'd be, I dunno, maybe they'd share food, or play cards.... but instead there was screaming and claws and hissing. The upside is discovering that, for a fat girl, my cat sure can run and fight. In some ways it was just like a Christmas party - you know, when the over-jolly PA suddenly realises someone is trying to steal her cab and goes for the offender, high heels in one hand, bottle of stolen chardonnay in the other.

Anyway, it was a cold evening and I was full of pastry and precisely zero portions of fresh fruit or vegetable. So I decided to go out. Just anywhere - after all, it's a Thursday, surely there's stuff to do in London on a Thursday? I checked - there was pretty much nothing on apart from a screening of 3D Avatar at the Camden Odeon and Boyz Magazine's pick-of-the-day which was the Christmas Party at The Hoist (mistletoe in unusual places). So, I decided I'd go to Islington for a drink.

And then I looked out of the window. It was snowing. Gordon Brown Snow (all the cold, none of the charm). So I put some coal on the fire, opened a bottle of wine, and watched Blakes 7. It was dreadful, but kind of marvellous.

But tonight. Oh yes, tonight I shall try, oh so very hard, to leave the flat.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Enviro-Lego

Lego are doing market research into going green. Which is brilliant and socially responsible etc - and some of the ideas are very nice - such as boats and log cabins with real wooden bricks. But then it all goes a bit mental. As in Marketing Department mental. Someone, somewhere forgot that Lego is FUN and a TOY:



Take the eco-tour yourself.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Google-Whacked

This may be the very last time I ever use the internet. The reason being that I met someone online who works for Google. And, if I cross them, then... no searching, no gmail, no blogger, no YouTube... If I'm lucky I might get a dial-up modem and Ask Jeeves.

You see, I had a cold. Now, I get cravings with colds. One day last week it was for Monster Munch. Couldn't have enough of it. This was followed by a craving for Keith (name has been changed in the vain hope that my gmail ads aren't suddenly all from Dignitas).

Poor Keith. We hadn't even met. But there was something about him... Through my lemsip haze he seemed genuine and exciting and romantic. Plus, worked for Google. I couldn't say "no". Well, I daren't say "no" - imagine having to go back to using Netscape Navigator 3.0...

Anyway, he seemed so lovely and I couldn't wait to meet up with him last Thursday. I was stuffed full of decongestant, higher than a kite, but very enthusiastic. But he postponed - "sorry, got to work late" - apparently Google had a crisis or had invaded Mars or something. So, I waited and waited. A quick message from him - "Still at work! Nightmare! Will call when I'm out. x". So I waited a bit longer. And then, eventually, I went to bed. He will call me eventually. I know this. For he is Keith and he works for Google. He knows where I live.

The next day I meet up with my slutty friend Joshua for lunch. "How's the love life?" he asks.
"Oh, goodness me," I blather, eyeing up the salad bar, "Well, it's early days yet, but I think I've met someone really exciting. He's ever so lovely. And, guess what, he's a manager at Google!"
"Really?" says Joshua. "Last night I shagged some guy from Google. His name was Keith."
Oh.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

DoomWatch Watch: Into the Dark and The Iron Doctor



These two episodes both spring from a similar premise - what happens when computers become involved in keeping someone alive?

In Into The Dark, Patrick Troughton's head explains that his pet computer alows him to live forever, a thinking brain in a rotting body and that's fine, thank you. Only Quist turns up and has a couple of chats, and Patrick Troughton decides he'd like to die after all (well, wouldn't you rather than sit in a room with Quist - the Gordon Brown of Science?).

There's a bit more to it, but it's mostly just an excuse for Quist and Troughton to run through a few quick acting exercises and then The End. Several other issues here get discarded along the way - toxic cargo on wartime shipwrecks, running a company from beyong the grave, but mostly it's just Troughton looking a bit ill and Quist doing thoughtful cardigan acting.

Meanwhile, The Iron Doctor tells us all about a hospital ward where the patients are being kept alive by a radical computer. Only - whoops - they accidentally bought in a military computer, and it's killing off the patients and waging war against hospital staff it doesn't like.

The whole episode is about tensions in the NHS, lining up Caring Doctor and Cuddly Matron against Sinister Administrator and his Battle Computer. Quist and Fay Chantry bumble around a bit, stumble on the truth after a few people have died, and then it's up to Grumpy Computer Colin to save the day with his screwdriver.

The episode is both duller and more exciting than you think it's going to be. It starts out as being about medical ethics (can we trust a computer to prolong life?) and then switches to red tape conspiracy before turning out to be "The hospital's run by a Dalek!".

There's a few little notes about Patient Confidentiality (all the old people on the ward are under constant CCTV) and, in an odd point, clearly the view out of the Sinister Administrator's window must be fascinating because every character spends most of their time on the set crossing over and peering through the slats of his Ventian Blind. I wonder what they're seeing - is it a geriatric being given a bed bath?

Friday, December 04, 2009

nPower

Good news: After much trial and error, I have now succeeded in getting nPower to add me to their "Marketing Suppression Database".

Bad news: So far they've sent me four letters telling me that they're no longer going to contact me again. The latest letter tells me they've tried to phone me several times to tell me they're not going to contact me, and can I instead phone them within 5 working days otherwise they may not be able to fulfil my request. I ring them and say "this is weirdly like a nightmare, isn't it?"

Next time I am dating, I shall behave more like nPower.

"Hi Ustvlad, I understand you said you would call me rather than me calling you, but I am just calling you to see if that is still the case. I'm sorry - would you just mind holding for a second while I call your details up? That's lovely *blast of Leona Lewis*. Now, let me just see - do you have a reference number to hand Ustvlad? No? Don't worry, we'll just set you up on the system. Bear with me, this won't take a moment. *blast of Jedward singing Jerusalem*...."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Prang

The other day a white van drove into me in the bus lane. I've spent ages worrying about getting knocked off my bike, but it wasn't actually that bad. My elbow and his wing mirror met at a reasonable speed. No bones broken, just a very loud snapping noise and a big bruise.

I get off my bike.

The white van stops.

The white van driver stops.

The white van driver gets out of his white van.

The white van driver walks around his van, carefully checking it for damages.

And only then does he look up from readjusting his wing mirror and say "you okay, mate?"

And that's when I start shouting at him.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

And, in other work


Very nicely, been asked to do a quick guide to Doctor Who for AOL. Have genuinely tried to make it a bit more fun than those awful "Tom Baker wore a scarf and had a robot dog" filler pieces you get.