Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Ronnies Diggs

The re runs of the Two Ronnies with the two old troopers adopting their familiar sitting-at-a news-desk posture whilst inviting the audience to share a nostalgic trip through their sketches is, I think, required viewing. Required viewing for the Little Britain generation to see where the root of this kind of humour is located. Required viewing for those who have forgotten how good they were.

Theirs was a weekly portfolio of sketches based on familiar characters with happily predictable attitudes based on their personality creations. Both capable of being funny and straight((ish) - there was seldom a stooge just different levels of ludicrousness)) and pastmasters at comic timing. One can marvel again at their exquisite vignettes of toe-curling irritation as one of them seeks to confuse and confound the other with clever wordplay and bumbling daffiness. And the comic-musicals, unmissable paeans to timing perfection, all dippy lyrics with a relevant leitmotif while dressed, typically, as scandalous tarts, outrageous washerwomen or scrubbery housewives.

Learn to live with it, The Two Ronnies rocked. And still do. In my humble, obviously.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Time Bored

Am I the only person who's completely underwhelmed by the new Doctor Who? The music is as great as ever and the idea is brilliant - anything vaguely to do with time travel gets my vote. Anything as utterly beguiling as the concept of shifting backwards and forwards in time cannot possible not fascinate and entertain. But Doctor Who just dosen't do it for me. It never really did.

From the grandfatherly bad tempered charms of the snow-haired William Hartnell and the avuncular nuttiness of piccolo playing Patrick Troughton representations, to the lisping thespy tones of Jon Pertwee and the maniac moodiness of hillarious scarf-wearing Tom Baker, (read his autobiography this man is strange),I can't quite get it.

Other Bakers came and went, together with the one(late insertion) Peter Davidson, who married lovely Sandra Dickinson, she who is immortalised (at least with me) as the recipient of the famous (at least to me) wrist-watch communication TV commercial with her Dr Who hubby: 'Put the dinner on honey (she trilled) I'll be home in twenny minutes!' Yeah, one day in the far far future we'll be able to do that. I think not I thought, I mused.

Even Sylvester McCoy notwithstanding his penchant for hammering 6 inch nails up his nose (in his Dr Who R and R time)never really reached me.

Perhaps I'm just to poe-faced to be able to meld together wackiness and time travel. I don't think they sit well with each other unless sublimely done as in the Back to the Future franchise.

I'm a fan of the wacky,and a definite fan of sci-fi,(which I hope dosen't make me a bad 'un) but,(I have to admit a little shame-faced), I'm probably irritated when I'm served up a mix of the two.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Turd in Your Ear

Although an obsession with toilet humour (not mine, theirs) hints at a life badly lived, I have to admit that the contributors to this site are a creative lot demonstrating no little ingenuity. The site's a clever idea too. Structured similar to more respectable versions of language and word lovers web sites (Ask Oxford it aint!), it has a large bank of words listed alphabetically giving it the appearance of a rather specialist dictionary, a word and phrase submission area together with a ranking system for readers giving it an interactive feel, and a Word of the Day award for those in seek of dubious plaudits.

Would be contributors should beware though, gutter slang maestros can be harsh judges when presented with a little clever word play (probably more appropriate here) with a coy mucky reference rather than the preferred vilely pictorial and obscenely graphic. The true afficionados are a critical bunch if you fail to measure up to their index of dirty talk and foul lexical semantics, if you fail to make explicit references with the required sexual and/or bodily-function undertones. On the rating scale my (weedy experimental) offerings rated two classed as 'average' (2 stars) one rated 'worth a chuckle' (three stars) and the rest awarded one star, sad to say therefore, universally condemned as 'crap.' I failed to reach 'classic' status with any of my inventions. A glance through the site will show you why this dosen't matter.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A Talent You Wouldn't Bank

Why is this man in the charts? Why is he necessary? The late, great, Barry White's memory is being insulted by this West Midlands Halifax Bank Clerk chancer, this completely untalented geek.
Why are we so taken in by the quirky? There will be youngsters out there who will never have heard of BW and will believe that this ... rendition, this, travesty, is new and catchy and worth owning. They and others (who should know better) will be happy, rather than seeking out the sublime original, to walk into a music shop and buy the badly done cover by this talentless imposter, this . . . ham who must wake up every day and thank God he's lucky.

I know there are charitable donations tied up with the purchase of this single, but I'm still depressed by the whole thing. If you care enough, donate a sum to a worthy cause, and buy the original. Consider the rotund one and the way in which he soulfully growled out these well chosen, self penned lyrics, every word invested with its intended meaning, and tell me I'm wrong. They absolutely have to be sang by him. Sang by Barry White, who's a legend, not by Howard Brown, who's crap. Some things are just so.

Extract from You're The First, The Last, My Everything. By Barry White
(not by Howard Brown)

we got it together didn't we
nobody but you and me
we got it together baby
my first, my last, my everything and
the answer to all my dreams
you're my sun, my moon, my guiding star
my kind of wonderful, that's what you are

my first, my last, my everything
and the answer to all my dreams
you're my sun,
my moon,
my guiding star
my kind of wonderful,
that's what you are.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Friends Not Ignited

One of the boasts that modern health clubs often make is that you can “meet people and make friends” during your fitness sessions – your muscle pumping fixes, your aerobic machine obsessions - between the yanking, the squeezing, the dragging the hissing and the pishing, you can meet your soul mate or at least pass the time of day with another human being. I doubt this claim is true. The dud dud dud dud of stampeding feet pounding the treadmills registering a kind of thunderous harmony, the whirr-whirr of concept rowers, being rowed, nowhere The metallic thud of solid weight crashing down, its work over or a lift proving one too many or one too heavy. The cheesy loop of modern jaunty tunes pervading this production-less factory, aiming at making you do, what you are doing, faster, harder. These are guaranteed. But I’ve yet to experience anything which could be described as meeting like-minded people through the sharing of views and ideas, a useful measure used to describe the process of meeting people.

The mirrored walls are the nearest most there come to acknowledging a human shape. Exhausted glances at tired doppelgangers staring sweatily back is as sociable as it gets for most. The nearest they get to a ‘one to one.’

The only real exceptions to this worship of the self absorbed are a few fanatical and competing regulars precision handling loaded weights on little known muscle groups - places we mortals hardly know exist: 'G' on mate deeeshhh aaarrrrgh deeeshhh!!' 'yeah, nice one', and the desperate who want to be pals with the staff, who in return give the impression that customers like these are a bit of a nuisance. There are very few water cooler moments. Not even around the water cooler. Scarcely a smile of sympathetic recognition, no sense of a shared pain or an embarrassed hint at a pointless obsession. No kindred-like feelings, no community of spirits. No interest in anyone else.

People go there alone. But they don’t go there to meet people. They expect to be able to exercise in complete isolation. It’s as if they all carry a guilty secret which drives their real personalities underground. There is an invisible demarcation shield enveloping each individual. The normal posture is to stare into space between sessions rather than run the risk of accidental eye contact. Other exercisers are nothing but obstacles to this or that exercise machine. The unspoken etiquette, the turn taking code associated with conversation or flirtation with its repertoire of smiles and body language, are all sacrificed in favour of the swig from the bottle and the head–swaddle-waggle into the towel to indicate ‘I’m ready to move now, so should you be! ” Words or anything like them are never ever uttered. I don’t think health clubs with their emphasis on the self absorbed in pursuit of the elusive body perfect and dreams of eternal youth are necessarily places where people are on the look out for new chums.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


I intend that this will be the last time for a while I write about this. This being my realization that I am not quite as svelte as I was. It's unfortunate that each time I sit down to write something and enter pontification mode whilst wondering what to write about, I often seek out, regretfully, the rolls of excess fat that spill over my ever straining trouser belt. And I'm encouraged with feelings of dread (the terrible is always seductive) to clutch at either side of my stomach and squeeze- manipulate what I find. I'm feeling for a rippled tautness, I'm actually kneading two handfuls of strangely positioned dough. This often leads to rather more worrying behaviour, a tendency to shake them - the dough rolls - up and down as if I'm trying to reenact the motion of one of those strange vibrating massage belts they used to try to sell us back in the seventies:
" Just stand and relax and let the flabmaster loose the weight for you."At least I don't avoid the condition. I fumble around with it, gloomily. When I get dressed in the morning I strike naked poses in front of an unforgiving and unsympathetic mirror, wondering at my increasingly pear-shaped soft middle section and alarming cone-like teenage-girl teats. An act that I would imagine must seem to any passing peeper to be part coy-boy, part primping popinjay - but to me a physical lamentation a painful introspection of "how the heck did I come to look like this?"

When I was much younger I had no such problem. On the contrary I was skinny, in fact, worryingly thin. Anyone with decently long fingers could easily make a ring between their middle finger and thumb and run their digit-made circle from my wrist to the top of my arm - I won't mention bicep I'm trying to keep this factual - and back again in a kind of twisted homage to the fairground game (no-ones feelings ever got hurt with the steady metal loop avoiding charged wire gag) without touching the sides.

In the days when the fashion was for tight fitting shirts - bagginess was completely uncool, mine billowed out from the back as if inflated. I could have been under water or doing a little freefall having elected to wear my best Ben Sherman for parachute day. All my clothes had to be adjusted - my shirts had to be administered with no little skill by my sister and her toy sewing machine, three darts either side of a giant centre pleat. They had the heavy duty seamstressed-stitched appearance of a parachute. My trousers all had monster 'v's cut into the back with the material drawn together like a bald man's scalp correction op in a vain effort to conform to the tight clothed style. It all now seems such a distant memory. I am now a fatty. At least comparatively so.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Shape Shifter

I have been bothered by my recent weight gain for a little while now. Not that long ago a bout of emotional stress brought about in me an alarming loss of weight causing concern to all who know me. Some of those people truly believed I had a life threatening disease. I was a forty year old man exhibiting a twenty year old’s body shape. Baggy-arsed jeans, underwear on partial show, (with none of the stylistic consciousness of the fashionista), protruding cheek bones, (yeah right – read on), loose collars that kind of thing. But I couldn’t carry it off. Who in their middle age can? The bone structure and skin tone just doesn’t allow for that kind of anomaly. Loosely layered and casually swaddled clothing in the 'getting on a bit' slim look, looks less trendy bohemian charity shop chic, more trampy ruffian charity shop skip. What passes as elegantly slender in the young can look like dangerous malnutrition and physical malady in those with older, less blooming features. Words like gaunt, sallow even emaciated were extracted from personal lexicons and uttered from the (almost) polite. The less polite preferred drug-raddled, terminally unwell, aids ridden for goodness sake! I learnt then - though I had little control of the events - that dramatic weight loss does no one any favours, except perhaps for the morbidly overweight. Only the young look good slim. That slim. Thin.

That was a few years ago, and, in truth before my stressful episode (such was the cause of my adipose-shed-fest), I was a little more of a porker than I would have wished. That would explain why I was, misguidedly, (though perhaps understandably) elated at the now newly exposed skinny man's six-pack, (revealed due to musculature arrangement imperatives and lack of normal surface fat rather than because of its impressively worked development.) Now, I'm a tad plumper again, put back what I lost and added a little interest. Soft belly, whither the six pack now, real or imagined, flabby chest (always a worry for those living though prime heart-attack years) and chin-sag. And if that's not enough, if the aesthetics of a once young body gone to seed is not enough, I've just had a cholesterol and blood pressure check - both of which made pretty grisly read outs. Time for a little lifestyle check.

It's not that I drink heavily, smoke too much or avoid physical exercise. On the contrary I drink little, rarely if ever smoke these days, eat very little fat and exercise (though perhaps not of late) quite a lot. Against that backdrop it's difficult to do a little tinkering. A tweak here, a minor adjustment there. Eat a little less of this, choose this over that, walk here, cycle there instead of taking the car. None of that would make any difference at all. I'm already living the life of someone who has made the adjustments, rung the changes and addressed the issues brought on by health and too many reflected mirror frights. Any changes I would have to make would need to be radical, huge - a complete behavioural makeover.

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