Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Happy Feet


An Emperor Penguin

Wahey! A happy story. I know I've spent some time talking about some pretty grim things. In the real world I’m actually fairly cheerful, ask anyone. I really am. But this year, maybe because the media likes to make a fuss, or maybe because it’s just been an inexplicably awful year in which barely a week goes by in which something truly awful happens and lots of people die.

Just this week we’ve had a massive hurricane that’s ripped up most of the Bahamas and plonked all of the debris down in Central Park and Libyans are still finding dead people. In a year of very horrifying events, both man-made and designed by nature, it seems strange that the Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami/nuclear fallout issues were only a couple of months ago and that Japan is on it’s 6th Prime Minister in 5 years. That seems like ages ago, and so because I started off by saying that this was going to be a happy story I’m going to get on with that instead of reminding you all about why 2011 has been quite so depressing.

The good news story is a nature story, and no it’s not a polar bear eating a posh student, although I did see a picture of a polar bear climbing down a cliff because it was trying to eat some guillemot eggs in the Russian bit of the Arctic Circle. Neither is the story about a shark biting a man in half on his honeymoon, because those are quite bad stories and this is supposed to be a happy and cheery blogpost.

What I’m going to tell you about is the humble and plucky tale of a very lost Emperor Penguin. Emperor Penguins live in the Antarctic, for any geography dunce that’s the cold, white bit at the bottom of a globe (which is a small version of the Earth). This particular Emperor Penguin, who is now known as Happy Feet, got very lost, so lost that he was on the wrong continent when he hit dry land.
Almost certainly wearing ladies underwear.

Happy Feet isn’t the most lost thing that I know about, I did recently hear about a Syrian truck driver who was trying his best to deliver a cargo, probably of humus and dates, to Gibraltar. He started off in the best of spirits and as is the way with truck drivers everywhere this probably involved wearing ladies underwear but that is mere speculation.

Everything was probably going quite well until Syrian Joe probably reached Italy or thereabouts, but he was making that age-old, rookie mistake of paying too much attention to his satnav, because after crossing the Italian border and finding himself in France, a quick glance out of his cab window would have alerted him to the fact that he was heading North, and not South, like he should have been going if he wanted to get to Gibraltar.

Perhaps Syrian Joe was on his way to Grimsby College?
To cut a long story short, the hapless trucker ended up on the North coast of England, near Grimsby. For any non-British folk reading Grimsby is a medium sized fishing town on the East coast, it has a port and fishing boats and, as the Syrian trucker found out, a beach. Which is where some locals stopped him, as he was being guided towards the North Sea by a satnav that thought Gibraltar Point and a gloopy bit of beach and marshland (that is quite a pleasant nature reserve with many species of wildfowl, butterfly and other such countryside creatures) between Grimsby and Skegness were the same thing.

So that dude just about beats our Emperor Penguin hero in the very lost stakes, and to be fair to Happy Feet he is a bird, and he doesn’t have a triangulated variant to guide him to where he’s supposed to be, and if he did have a triangulated variant to guide him to where he was supposed to be he couldn’t use it anyway, because he’s a bird, a very plucky and determined bird.

About two months ago Happy Feet washed up on a beach in New Zealand, stunned locals looked on and gasped as Happy Feet tried to adapt to his new home, by mistakenly eating sand that he thought was snow and having to have his stomach pumped like a teenager on a Friday night alcopop jaunt in Luton. Happy Feet was more than 700 miles off course, Peka Peka beach is a long, long way from Antarctica.

Scotland
I live in Coventry, which is in the very middle of England and if I walked in any direction for 700 miles my feet would get wet at some point. I could walk past Dublin and be out of the other side of Ireland, I could easily be in France, or Holland, or if I went in a very straight line, and I was one of those Ghost Pirates from Pirates Of The Caribbean, I could be in Spain, Norway, Switzerland or even fucking Prague.

If Happy Feet had have done what Forrest Gump did in the movie of the same name and gone for a run across America and had started in New York he would have easily passed Grand Rapids, Michigan or Nova Scotia, the silly, lost bird could have made it all the way to Chicago, Illinois. 
New Zealand

Happy Feet made an epic journey, he went a fucking long way, only to end up in New Zealand. Like those guys who go on annual Rugby and Cricket tours during the winter with the Barmy Army and find themselves in a place that looks a lot like Scotland in the 1970s. For any confused types there is a way to tell Scotland and New Zealand apart, Scotland has cows, New Zealand has sheep. 
A Cow

But all is well for our furry Antarctic, temporarily displaced, friend because he has been recovering from his arduous transoceanic journey in hospital, well a zoo. Wellington Zoo to be precise. The little chap may have braved the long distance swim, the freezing Southern Ocean and killer whales but he did make it to dry land and he is also now well enough to be taken home, in his own custom made box.

A Sheep
He’s quite a lucky penguin because when a monkey fell off a ship in the 19th century and washed up on a beach in Hartlepool, in Northern England the local thickos mistook the poor creature for a French spy sent by Napoleon and hung the thing. Which is why Hartlepool United are comically known as the Monkey Hangers, because they were a bit stupid and barbaric, it’s also the only thing that Hartlepool is famous for, which is why there’s now a plan to twin it with New Zealand, (there isn’t, that was a joke).
An Idiot's Guide to an Emperor Penguin

But Happy Feet is now in his special crate on a ship back home. Seeing him home safe is Wellington Zoo vet, Dr Lisa Argilla, who has been looking after the poor bird since he came ashore and who has been overseeing Happy Feet’s recovery. Argilla described how Happy Feet’s coping with his long voyage home “He is curious and keeps trying to get out of his crate so he can go and jump in the ocean. I think he can smell the sea air as he seems to be doing a lot of sniffing as well.”
See, I told you it was a happy story.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Series 8


How often do we see someone write a great series and then follow it up with a succession of utter guff? Well, what did the creators of Father Ted do next? What about the creators of Friends or Arrested Development? Unfortunately I know the answer to those questions and they’re not good. So, how do you follow up the most successful American sitcom ever? With the best American sitcom ever… obviously!

After Seinfeld, Larry David eventually turned his attention to Curb Your Enthusiasm, writing seven series between 2000 and 2010. Whilst the show was initially clunky and difficult to watch it quickly morphed into a laugh out loud romp as the actors became more accustomed to the improvised format (one which has since been endlessly copied).

Well, series 8 premiered in the US on the 10th of July this year and I’m pleased to say that it’s worth the near two year wait. The season opens with an episode titled The Divorce and features Susie Essman in full swing as the long suffering wife of Jeff, Larry’s Manager. Her dinner party tirade is amongst the all time highlights of TV let alone Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Leon & Larry

Rest assured, the series continues apace with The Safe House providing plenty of its own hilarious moments as Larry inadvertently screws over Richard Lewis… again. J.B. Smoove also makes a welcome return as Leon Black and we receive a disturbing insight into the dynamic between him and Larry. You’ll still be laughing by the time you get to episode three, Palestinian Chicken. Anne Bedian guest stars as Shara, the seductive, foul mouthed Palestinian that catches Larry’s eye. The dirty talk during the sex scene between the two had me in tears.

I doubt the whole season can keep up to this impossibly high standard but if anyone can pull it off it’s Larry David. I haven’t seen an air date for series eight in the UK yet so you’ll have to be content to watch old episodes on More 4 or buy the first seven series on DVD. Do it now!

Monday, 29 August 2011

The 8 Words of Ash – Changeling


Ashley decided to take a look at Clint Eastwood’s 2008 drama Changeling. Based on actual events in 1928 Los Angeles the film tells the story of Christine Collins, an Oscar nominated role for Angelina Jolie, as a mother who’s son disappears. What did you make of it Ash?

Not Eastwood’s finest, a looong journey to nowhere

The film centres on the Wineville Chicken Coop kidnap & murder case and, as such, is a fairly depressing affair. Whilst it wasn’t exactly a box office smash Changeling received a great deal of critical acclaim, missing out on the Palme d’Or by just two votes. At almost two and a half hours, it’s a long and sometimes difficult watch, but a good film none the less. 

Sunday, 28 August 2011

So You’ve Passed Your GCSEs, Now What?


If you don't fuck up your exams,
these guys will likely do it for you.

A week or so ago I had a conversation with the boss-lady herself Adam about writing about exam results and whether or not I thought that schoolkids today were very clever because they kept boosting the A-grade pass rate for A-Levels and GCSEs or whether I thought that today’s teens were mostly thicko clots and that exams were too easy.

As you’ve seen I didn’t write about that, partly because I just don’t know, partly because our loyal readers in Singapore, Hong Kong and the US don’t want to hear about that and partly because I found it boring. I’m sure you’re all quite relieved to hear this, but just in case there are any of today’s excitable British schoolchildren out there, who have chosen to read this instead of looting a branch of Currys or watching Lee Nelson on BBC3 then I’ll throw you a bone, you can thank me later. What I’m going to do is tell schoolkids what they should do next, and try to explain why. It’s important that you get this right because if you get in wrong you’ll regret it for the rest of what will be a very boring, frustrating and unfulfilled life.

Ok, so, you’re 16, you’ve got the unopened envelope in your hands, you’re maybe with 3 or 4 of your friends because you all want to open the envelope with your grades in together, because you are very good friends and you want to share the moment with your buddies, and also because if you do well you can gloat a bit.

Now you all open your envelopes, it’s quite tense now, you don’t want to look at the most important bit of paper with your name on since your dad registered you as being alive and got you a birth certificate just in case you haven’t done very well.

You take a peak at the piece of paper, you see the exciting swooshy logo from the examination board who conducted and marked the exams you took, it’s really tense now. You scroll down, you see your grades, “PHEW!!!” it’s ok, because you’ve just got 2 As, 3 Bs and 2 Cs, and the Cs were in Religious Education and Woodwork and it’s fine because you didn’t bother putting the effort into those things because two years ago they made you choose and 1 year 11 months and 29 days ago you realised you made the wrong choice and should have chosen French and Art instead.

But you’re happy because you did well, certainly no worse than your friends and a lot better than the blubbering Kylie over there who got 1 C, 3 Ds and an F and is currently in the middle of something that may be a panic attack or may be a full blown mental breakdown. Ho hum, never mind. I’m smart and I never really liked Kylie because she was always being slutty and better at flirting with boys than you.

Kylie, being slutty... again!
But you’re smart so we’ll move on, what you should do right now is take a moment out of being thrilled at doing well and look around at all your class chums and see if your 2 As, 3 Bs and 2 Cs is much better than all of their results, if everyone else, apart from Kylie obviously, is looking as happy as you are then that's good because your school friends are a good bunch and it’s nice to see them do well. But it’s also bad, because what your As, 3 Bs and 2 Cs actually mean is that you are average, very average. If you multiply the amount of kids in your school by the amount of other schools in just your town/city then and you assume that most schools look like this right now that means you’re very average indeed, and if you multiply it by the amount of school kids doing this right now in the whole country what you are is exactly the same as them, or very average.

Plus, even though you think that these exam results confirm that you’re really clever, and that you know lots of things you’re wrong, you know virtually nothing. 

What you’ve just done is spend 11 years being processed by the state, you’ve been trained to remember just enough facts and pieces of information to be able to sit down for 2 or 3 hours and try to copy them onto a piece of paper, and the last two years all you’ve really done is have all of that hammered into you, relentlessly.
 
This has also been done by teachers who on average have more than 30 kids in their classes at any given day, who consider themselves to be overworked and under extreme pressure and you’d be lucky if they could pick you out of a police line up such is your anonymous influence in their world of essay marking and drinking themselves to sleep at night because they, instead of teaching, really wanted to be a writer or something of that sort and teaching was only going to be for a year or two while they got some money together but now they’ve been doing it for 6 or 7 years and have a pension and mortgage and a car loan and they’re stuck. Stuck with people like you, who they resent, because you’re them only 10 or 15 years ago and they see the potential you have to not slip into the same stupid mistake that they did, they also don’t really care about you being a smart and clever “individual” because each and every school is marked as good, middle, bad or very shit by the average exam pass grade. All you are is a tiny dot in the average statistic that proves the school did A) quite well, and therefore the teachers have a party and keep their job or B) shit, which means they will still go and get drunk but it’ll be sad drunk, because that pension fund I was on about may well start to get a gap of payments into it in the not to distant future.

This isn’t really their fault, the system has decided that you are a measurable statistic but because the pool for the statistic is so large you don’t register as an individual but as a number that produced some numbers and those numbers (your 2 As, 3 Bs and 2 Cs) mean that the school that you go to did either better or worse than last year. If they did better that’s good for the school, it keeps the school rozzers off their backs for the next 12 months, although it does mean that even though the school did well, and so did you, that you’re very average.

But if the school got worse average grades than last year, then that looks bad and the school might get inspected by Her Majesties Inspectorate Of Schools and someone with a clipboard, a pocket full of pencils, a frown and his travelling expense paid for him/her might tell your teacher off for being not very good at his or her job. Bad news all round.

Sorry, is that a bit heavy. I know you’re supposed to be happy because of that nice piece of paper in your hand. You’ve done well, go and buy yourself a Cornetto and come back because no one else will tell you what I’m about to tell you and if you don’t want to end up bitter and weepy like your teacher then you should pay attention.

So where does all of this unexpected gloom leave you, well essentially it leaves you in the same boat as about 300,000 other students up and down the country? It leaves you with options. You have three main options to choose from at the moment and I’m going to explain why none of them are particularly good.

One of your options is to take your GCSEs and try to impress someone enough to give you a job, this sounds good. You’ll be earning money and that’s also good because money buys petrol, clothes, holidays and most importantly beer. But what will you be giving up for that money to buy petrol, clothes, holidays and most importantly beer.

There are several problems with the “getting a job” option, the chief amongst which is that having a job is shit, especially when you’re 16. You’ll earn about 1p per hour above minimum wage, if you’re lucky and, unless you want to be a brain surgeon, rocket scientist, marine biologist, in a band, a footballer or something equally exotic and fun packed, every other job that you might consider is going to be boring and will involve you working more hours than you think are in a day.

Football, a glamorous career choice. 
The people you work with will at times think you’re thick, lazy and useless, they will patronise you and they will give you menial tasks to perform and you’re expected to show suitable appreciation for this dollop of shit task that you’ve been given, because as someone will explain to you, there’s a recession on and thousands of other kids are unemployed and they’d give their right arm to be where you are, which will be spending 8hrs going through mouldy boxes of old, useless paperwork and shredding the contents, going out in the rain to get everyone else’s lunch because they’re too fat and lazy to wander the thirty seconds to the deli themselves or dealing with idiot members of the public who upon seeing a fresh faced youngster in attention will assume you’re thick as shit and treat you as such.

But that assumes you get a job relatively quickly, for the privilege of getting this “superb chance to improve your skills and gain valuable experience in a real work place environment” you’ll have to scrummage around with lots and lots of other school leavers who all want the same job as you, a job that sucks remember.
But if you do apply for a job you’ll be applying to someone who will get 50 applications for the one job he/she has available and it doesn’t matter how many quirky fonts or bright colours you use in your CV, you’ll still have roughly the same grades as the 49 other kids who applied, so you have to go through an interview which will make your arsecrack sweat and you’ll feel sick and nervous and horrid, which isn’t fun, and then after that you’ll have to wait for days to find out if you’ve got the terrible job that you applied for.
But you might get lucky, you might get the job. Yay! We get to go buy beer and shoes. No, not yay.
No. Because what you’ve just done is get a job that sucks, you’ll be making people who don’t really like you or won’t speak to you tea, opening mail in the morning and putting stamps on mail in the evening, serving “people”, being treated like an idiot or crying.

Because at 16 years old, despite you thinking that your GCSE results mean you think you’re very clever, you actually know nothing and you’re not really of any use to anyone. I’m not saying this to be mean or because in my day teenagers were smarter, they weren’t. Teenagers, whatever year or decade it is, will always assume they’re clever and they will always be a barely legible halfwit, I was.

Wanky dishwater
So what you’ll be doing is menial office based tasks or working in a shop. Both of these things suck, offices are very boring places, they are mostly populated by people who take their tiny, pointless part in the world too seriously and listen to Coldplay or at a push The Kings Of Leon, neither of which are cool. You will have to listen to HeartFM and you will get to do lots of boring things while you’re doing it.

But, what if I choose the 2nd option, that thing you said about working in a shop, you might ask. Well, that sucks even worse, because you’ll have to work every single day, that means Saturdays, Sundays, Bank Holidays, Christmas Eve, New Years Eve and if you’re really unlucky Boxing Day as well. Plus you’ll be a mixture of bored, annoyed and moaned at. You’ll also have to deal with people, and you think that’s ok, right? Wrong.

So far the only people you’ve really met are your friends, other kids, teachers and your parents and because you’re a teenager, and therefore still allowed to throw a tantrum to get your own way, you think that people are A) nice B) your parents or C) minging.

Well, that’s not strictly true. People are mostly bastard coated bastards with a bastard filling and the ones you meet in your shop will be the biggest bastards of all. You will be expected to smile all day, even though you’re not American or on drugs.

You will be expected to know everything, even if it’s your first day and you haven’t quite familiarised yourself with all of what’s going on yet.

You will meet some very rude or very stupid or very rude and stupid people, almost every hour and they will blame you for them being rude and/or stupid and being unable to work out how a shop actually works. These people will make your life miserable and they won’t care about you or your feelings and will swear and be mean and rude and it’ll be your fault, and there’s nothing you can do about that. Even if you really want to poke the rude idiot in the eye, and let’s face it they will deserve it, you can’t. You just have to smile and take it.

So none of that sounds like very much fun, because it isn’t. And now you don’t want to get one of those sucky jobs I’ve just told you about. And good for you, you shouldn’t want one.

Fear not, because you still have other options so, it’s not all bad news. Well? It still sort of is.
You could learn a trade, which sounds fun. You’ll be getting your hands dirty but you’re good with your hands so you don’t mind, you decide to train to be a mechanic or a plumber or maybe an electrician. Good for you, people will always need things fixing.

There are many branches of these trades to choose from and the world is a big place, if you put your mind to it and work hard you could go and work in Dubai or on film sets in Hollywood. But, it’s not as easy as it looks, those things are hard to get right, and if you do them wrong a house might fall down or something might catch on fire. Plus, you’re 16 and you struggle to get out of bed for the end of Jeremy Kyle let alone getting a 7:00am bus to a freezing cold building site or the further education college that’s on the other side of town.
Who knows? You might like the lugging heavy things about and the back breaking work and the fact that it’s a lot harder than it looks and the fact that you will have to do 3 or 4 more years of this grinding, life-sapping, spirit crushing, ball aching horseshit before anyone lets you anywhere near a real spanner, chisel or spirit level.

Dunce
You could end up being the guy who freezes his dangler off for no other reason than you were the one that ended up working on a road gang and it’s your turn to hold the Stop traffic sign, and it’s December and snowing and everyone else in the road gang has wisely taken shelter in the little hut with a Tomato Cup-A-Soup and a cheap porn mag.

Oh, and I said dangler and some of you may be girls and think “hey, what about me? I haven’t got a dangler. I still want to be a plumber or a chippy.” Well despite what you may have seen on BBC3 or E4, the world hasn’t evolved quite as far as you’d have liked and you really shouldn’t be expecting anyone in the building industry to take you seriously, especially since the credit crunch kicked in and building projects are a lot more scarce than they used to be, your average builder is about as enlightened to the ways of equal opportunities as a I am to the point of Lee Nelson (see last blogpost for details).

So what else? Well there’s Uni. You could go there couldn’t you? Yes, you could, is the simple answer. But your friendly Tory-liberal coalition government think that you should pay £9,000 a year to go to university, for those not doing mathematics that’s £27,000 over a typical three year course. You can buy a brand new Ford Focus STI for that and still have change for two holidays and budgerigar, and lots of beer.

But, you might say, I don’t have to pay that back until after I’ve qualified and I’m earning money.

Well, that’s true, but it isn’t a grant, it’s a loan, loans gain interest. Interest is one of the things you’ll learn to love as you step out in the world, you may have thought maths was relatively easy at school but the maths that banks use to calculate interest will blow your tiny mind out of the top of your head.

Which all means that the student course debts you owe to the Chancellor won’t just be the £27,000 you borrowed to do the course that you did but the interest on that £27,000 as well. And, the longer you take to pay it back the more of it there will be, because of the magic of interest maths. You could end up paying well over 30 grand just to be at uni.

Which is a lot.

But it isn’t all. Because if you’re going to go you’ll want to do it right and you’ll want to go to a good university. You probably won’t get into Cambridge or Oxford but that’s no problem because they don’t really want you anyway and you wouldn’t really fit in.

You could go to the University of Warwick or Durham or somewhere slightly lower down the scale but still good none-the-less. Somewhere that won’t look bad at all on a CV, but everyone else is thinking this as well and the competition is very fierce just to get into even these uni’s, so if you’re still looking around at your school friends and they all look about as happy as you and you’re very average then you might have to think about how much of a beautiful and unique snowflake you really are and whether you’re smart enough to make it to Warwick, Durham or somewhere good. The next two years will be a lot of hard work, you’ll have to get those Bs up to As and cut out the Cs altogether, you can’t afford to get your choice of A-Level wrong either because you need to be building towards the a specific course and a definite goal to make sure you get the good place that you want.

But that means that you’re essentially committing yourself to something for at least the next five years. That’s a long time, it’s 1/3 of the life you’ve led now and it will have been a ¼ of your life by the time you finish. And that’s a lot.

It’s tough isn’t it?

But the fun’s only just starting, because you may not get into Warwick or Durham, you may get good grades, but just not good enough, and it doesn’t mean you’re not smart, it just means those places are tough to get into.

So you think, ok, I’ll go somewhere fun then, somewhere with some nightlife, and boys/girls.
Somewhere like Manchester, Newcastle or maybe even London. But it turns out that the thing you want to be when you graduate means that the best place you should go isn’t fun Manchester or boozy Newcastle but somewhere god-awful sounding like Stoke-on-Trent or Luton and you’re stuck there for 3years, which is shit!

Plus you don’t know how to cook so you’ll spend every lunch and teatime in a Scream pub eating burgers or pizza and thinking that this is actually fun. Until you graduate and realise that you have an additional loan from a bank that is quite large, because as well as the burgers and pizzas you had to pay rent, buy expensive text books and ring binders and a laptop and one of those pens that has four colours so you can make proper notes. You’ll also want a Hollister T-shirt to go dancing in and maybe you might get a girlfriend or a boyfriend who you really love and who you spent three years buying beer and fags and pizza/burgers for and so in the 3 years that you were at uni, you not only built up a debt to the chubby cheeked, posho Chancellor to the tune of 27+ grand but you also now owe a bank £15,000(approx) as well, which is a lot. And it sounds like it sucks.

So what to do?

Well, any of those things is a possibility. They all have their own positives and negatives, if I was choosing today I’d almost certainly plan to go to uni as my first choice, there’s girls, beer and not much pressure. You’ll meet new, interesting people, you’ll learn about living on your own and have fun, plus you’ll be more employable to people who pay more money for the jobs they need doing so although you give up 5 years worth of earning money you should make it back in the long run.
But if I were 16 right now, I wouldn’t be in a huge rush to go to uni straight away, I might well do two or three A-Levels, but instead of packing 5 straight years of studying into one life experience I’d be more tempted to spread it all out.

I’d probably go and see the world.

So that’s what I’d say to do, you’ll learn as much about yourself in the year you went travelling as you will working in a shitty job for 3 or even 4 years, you’ll be better able to cope with going away to uni when you got back as well.

I know the TV news makes the world look like it’s regularly on fire and a very scary place that is liable to explode at any time but there are some very wondrous places to go and see.

Go to India, Tibet, China or even somewhere you’ve never heard of like Bhutan or the Philippines and learn about a new culture.

Go to Brazil or Argentina or Chile or Costa Rica and see weird things and different people and a Llama.
Go to Australia or America or even Europe, go to Mardi Gras or the Rio Carnivale or a big gay pride parade in San Francisco or Sydney.

The world has many, many awesome things, Machu Pichu, great Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, those Japanese monkeys that bathe in hot springs.

See the World
Go on a safari or whale watching off Alaska. Go snowboarding in New Zealand or jet skiing in the Bahamas, rent a moped in Vietnam or go snorkelling in the Maldives, take a fucking train ride through Russia, or Central Europe or Africa.

Do something that expands your mind, opens your eyes to new cultures and leaves you awestruck.
Do it now while you’re still young and before you get kids and a mortgage and worry about council tax and phone bills and other stuff that makes you really think that this can’t be all that there is.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The 8 Words of Ash – Drive Angry


Written and Directed by Patrick Lussier, Drive Angry 3D was a box office catastrophe, failing even to recoup it’s budget. What’s Lussier’s reward for such abject failure? Well, 2012 has him rumoured to direct the Hellraiser remake as well as breathing new death into the Halloween franchise… so there’s a couple of films to avoid. Anyway Ashley, what did you think?

Shocking story, shocking acting, shocking effects, shockingly shite.

Not a glowing endorsement. Thomas Layer of the Toronto Times wasn’t quite so kind stating that the movie was “more evidence that Nicolas Cage is a monotone, uninspiring thespian whose films should be avoided at all costs”. Hmmm, I agree, with the exception of Con Air, watch that instead.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

What a ©untknuckle


I've noticed most of our reviews tend to be of things that we like so I'm delighted to say that Steve's blown that right out of the water after stumbling across BBC Three's 'Live at the Fringe'.

Our Freeview box is quite old and a bit shafted these days, several of the buttons don’t work and the one’s that do don’t do their job very well and because of this rather annoying state of affairs I accidentally put BBC3 on last night at around midnight or thereabouts. This was my first error.

My second was not turning over straight away because if I had I wouldn’t have had to watch 30 seconds of an annoying little goblin posing as a comedian called Lee Nelson. The show was from a joint BBC3 and Radio1 stand-up set that had several acts and was hosted by Lee Nelson, so if you hung around long enough you’d have got bunches of tiny inserts from Nelson in between some people who may or may not have been funny. I don’t know who they were, or if they were funny because I didn’t hang around on BBC3 long enough to find out.

The schtick is that Mr Nelson poses (I assume poses) as a kind of urban Chav geezer who talks a “bit fick” and sounds like he’s a man of “da street”, assuming that street is outside a 24hr off-licence with semi-feral yoovs hanging around in clumps spitting, groping their own nutsacks and generally looking untidy.

Dappy from N-Dubz
Now I’m well aware that Lee Nelson isn’t aimed at me, as is the way with a lot of things on BBC3, and that teenagers might find his cheeky-chappy pastiche funny but I couldn’t stand it. It gave me a small idea of what it must have been like at Abu Ghraib prison when the nasty CIA operatives played endless hours of Barney the dinosaur music and John Denver tracks at prisoners and confirmed to me that I would be no use in a torture situation. All you’d need to do to wheedle intelligence out of me would be to play about a minute of a Lee Nelson set and I’d tell you that David Cameron wears ladies underwear if it meant that you turned it off.
Orville the Duck (with a friend
on his shoulder) 


There are several problems with Lee Nelson, chief amongst them being that he is painfully unfunny, imagine the Chuckle Brothers morphed together and blended with Orville and the Dappy from N-Dubz, chuck an oversized baseball hat on top and you have some idea of how irritating Lee Nelson is and how terrible he is at comedy.

His on-screen persona is blindingly irritating, to the point where you actually want to hurt yourself rather than watch it and his hi-pitched voice makes Joe Pasquale sound like the fucking Terminator.
All in all though I think I’d have to say that if this is the kind of thing the youth demographic is finding funny then I might have to start agreeing with those bore-a-thon Daily Mail types who keep insisting that educational standards are slipping despite the fact that every year new records are set for A-Level and GCSE results. Come on kids, you can’t all be this dumb.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The 8 Words of Ash – True Blood


As the fourth series heads towards its US climax Ashley takes a look at HBO’s multi-award winning vampire drama True Blood. The show tells the story of vampires and humans co-existing in a fictional Louisiana town called Bon Temps. Anna Paquin stars as waitress Sookie Stackhouse in the series based around Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries novels. Well Ashley, what did you think?

Bloody vampires and bloody sex = great night in.

True Blood is HBO’s most popular show since The Sporanos and has been renewed for a 12 episode fifth season. The first three series are available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray and series four is due to air in the UK in January.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Louie


Lately I’d have to admit that a lot of our output has been aimed squarely at the UK market, covering Cricket, the Riots, Vic & Bob, the BBC etc. so, here’s something that I stumbled upon that’s not yet available upon these shores. Louie is a sitcom written, directed, produced and starred in by acclaimed stand-up Louis C.K. Currently in it’s second series in the US on the FX network (home of the excellent Archer and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), Louie has already been picked up for a third season and C.K. has been nominated for two Emmys.

The show has received favourable comparisons to Seinfeld in terms of it’s format, clips of C.K. performing stand up routines written specifically for show and then acting out a story related to the skits. Louie is a single parent and the show follows him as he tries to bring up his two young daughters on his own. In the pilot episode Louis (who plays Louie) is a chaperone on a school trip with the bus driver from hell. The situation gets progressively worse until the point where Louie is forced to take decisive action.

Later in the episode we witness Louie’s attempt to get back into dating. Squirming is matched by laugh out loud moments as his hapless efforts see a rather unexpected getaway from the object of his affections. It’s only one episode but I’m already hooked and will be working my way through the 23 that have already aired in the US. It’s Seinfeld but only in an alternate reality, one where Jerry has no friends, is socially uncomfortable, is a failure and thankfully it’s also Seinfeld without the sampled bass riffs.

It’s unfair to compare Louie to Seinfeld, they’re completely different shows for completely different times and a completely different audience. Season one is available to buy on import, if you can get hold of it please have a look, it’s well worth your time and money.

What sort of a name is Mensch anyway?


And so I was going to write about Louise Mensch’s really rather spectacular attempt to make a late bid to steel Nadine Dorries silly arse of the year (talking nonsense category) for her recent dive into the political limelight. The first term member of parliament for Corby seems to think that because she has a popular mandate of less than 2,000 that she can make preposterous statements that A) make people feel sorry for Piers Morgan B) denounce social media as a fuel for anti-social behaviour despite being on it and seeing that it's nothing of the sort and C) making the worst sort of brown nosing comments about how David Cameron is the new and rosy cheeked saviour of the free world and rescuer of repressed people everywhere (obviously not including Syria, Bahrain, Tibet, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Burma or Iran but even Superman couldn’t be everywhere at once). All this helps her put herself forward as the greasiest pole licker of 2011, an award that will no doubt sit nicely next to her runners up spot for the silly arse of the year contest (I still think she’s made her run a little too late to unseat Dorries but she seems to have overtaken such fantastic shitmongers as Daniel Hannan, Sayeeda Warsi, Eric Pickles and “Fishy” Michael Gove so she’s not doing badly).

But I decided that I didn’t want to write about that, partly because she doesn’t need my help too boost her popularity drive and partly because she gave me a headache earlier because she looks weird and I find it hard to look at her slightly odd shaped head without squinting and viewing her from an uncomfortable angle.

I was then going to write about whether I’d rather be in Wolverhampton Wanderers position, played two games, won two games and top of the premier league, but having beaten Blackburn Rovers, a team who will be surely in and around the bottom three all season and the likeliest of the non-promoted teams to save one of either Norwich, Swansea or Queen’s Park Rangers from a quick return to the championship, and Fulham, a team who travel so badly that they’re due to play India at cricket in Mumbai next week just to give the Indians something to cheer about. Or whether I’d rather be in West Bromwich Albion’s shoes, having played two and lost two but got the two most difficult sides, Manchester United and Chelsea out of the way before the August Bank Holiday. But then I decided that I didn’t care about that either.

I thought about writing about how the Libyan rebels march into Tripoli and the fact that 2011 has now seen four dictators in the Arab world deposed by popular uprisings seems a little like the fall of Communism and maybe the world will actually have a slightly more peaceful future but I’ve already cobbled together half a story of the fall of the Berlin Wall and so I may just stick it in with that and so I was back to square one again.

So essentially I’ve run out of things to say. Well at least things that I actually want to talk about as opposed to what’s been happening in the news over the weekend. I'm sure I’ll think of something, I usually do, but for now you’ll just have to read this and wait for something more inspired.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Save Tuffers (or at least the BBC)


So, it’s a Friday afternoon, I’m sitting writing this and listening to Test Match Special, (for the record Pietersen and Bell and keeping their end up so to speak and reinforcing England’s hard earned and thoroughly deserved, no.1 test cricket ranking). The sun’s shining, I’ve been out and had a couple of cheeky pints, my other half has been nice enough to bake a cake and the only tiny blot on the day is the fact that she’s just put the Dyson on and it’s slightly disturbing my tranquil mood, but on the whole things are going very well.
But back to Test Match Special, (for any non-colonial readers, Test Match Special is the BBC’s radio coverage of England’s cricket matches, in England it’s colloquially referred to as TMS and that’s what I’ll be calling it from now on).

Test Match Special is an excellent little example of the things that the BBC does very well, of course if you don’t like cricket it’s an irrelevance but that’s another good thing about the BBC, because if you don’t want to listen to a live cricket match there should be something in or on the BBC that you can watch or listen to that will be more your flavour of ice cream, and if there isn’t go out for a couple of hours, come back and there should be.

But the reason why the BBC is general, and TMS specifically in this case, is so good is because it’s made with a blend of wit, professionalism, knowledge, excellent broadcast standards and thought provoking, intelligent presenters.

So far today I’ve heard Dr. (yes, Doctor) Phil Tufnell (or Tuffers as he’s affectionately known) tell me that the Battersea Power Station is the largest brick built building in Europe, but that there’s a former monastery in Sri Lanka that is made of 98,000,000 bricks and is significantly bigger, curmudgeonly Yorkshireman Geoffrey Boycott extol the virtue of ginseng tea, and I’ve still got Jonathan (Aggers) Agnew interviewing the Prime Minister David Cameron to come, and apart from my little trip to the pub, I haven’t missed a ball. It also works because even though cricket test matches take 6hrs a day for 5 days to complete, there hasn’t been a hint of dead air or a lull in the chatter. I’m personally missing Henry “Blowers” Blofeld’s, commentary because he likes talking about passing buses and incumbent pigeons in between balls, but each to their own.
So it’s not just the fact that it keeps me up-to-date with ball-by-ball coverage of England beating everyone at cricket and being the best team in world cricket, because I could take the bullet and have SKY Sports installed and just watch the thing. I have nothing against SKY’s coverage of cricket from a quality point of view.

Former SKY Sports Football
Presenter Richard Keys
From my experience the SKY are as professional a sports broadcaster as there is, probably better than most, their coverage of football is the difference between day and night when you compare to the insipid way that ITV cover football.

They have changed the way Football, Rugby Union and Rugby League, American Football, speedway, darts, boxing and Cricket are viewed, and generally for the better, the SKY coverage of sport is innovative and designed to make the product more exciting and I’m not about to argue against that. It’s a fact that without SKY, some of these sports literally wouldn't exist, and if you’re a soccer fan, especially if your team play in the English Premiership, it’s thanks to SKY that you’re now watching the best league in Europe, a fair proportion of the best players in the world, in generally full, very safe, modern, comfortable stadiums. But none of that means I’m going to give any of my money to Rupert Murdoch.

So I’ll stick to TMS and just do without the pictures and that’s alright with me. The TMS coverage, like many things that the BBC does, is a distinct and unique product that you just don’t get from other broadcasters.
TMS emphasises what the BBC is world renowned for and what it does so well. It’s entertaining, professional, informative and the presenters that TMS use mix the coverage with a blend of experience, cheerful banter, knowledge of the sport they’re covering and utter quality.

Now I know that Geoffrey Boycott isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, he tends to rant and waffle a bit too much and can be a little bit reactionary for current tastes, but there’s no denying his experience and knowledge of his sport.

Phyllis Tufnell
Tuffers is renowned more for being a cheeky guy, when he played for England there was a hint he wasn’t always taking it quite so seriously, but he was England’s best spin bowler for more than 10 years, and holding a cricket bat like a twig and being a bit of larrikin it was just the way he was and you don’t play for England if you’re not a bit good, but he’s brought the casual style he played the game in into the commentary box, and is not out of place as a broadcaster, he’s certainly not filling a seat for someone else.

And then there’s Ashes winning captain Michael Vaughan, who, may not be quite as experienced as Boycott but it’s arguable that without him England wouldn’t be as good as they are now because it was during his tenure as skipper that fortunes genuinely started to change for the better.
But I don’t really want to bang on about TMS, because if you listen to it and like it then you already know and if you don’t you probably don’t care.

And so I’ll get onto something a little broader, the BBC as a thing. Certainly the BBC makes some utter shite, I suppose it has to chase ratings the same way as the commercial channels do and the silly and sad fact is that large parts of the British Television audience are a pig ignorant rabble who aren’t especially interested in having their mind expanded or to watch something interesting. The BBC does fodder telly just as well, (or as poorly) as ITV, channels 4 and 5 and such illustrious broadcasters like QVC and Dave.

But the fact that I think that the BBC makes dross or that other people watch it isn’t the point, if you want to watch cack on telly while you eat fish finger sandwiches then it’s fine by me. Because the BBC should make shows for people who want to watch cack. It should also make shows for pensioners, toddlers, teenagers, black people, Asian people, women, nuns and circus freaks if they pay the licence fee.

Rastamouse... No, seriously!
The fact that you could have at any point this year watched or listened to Dr Who, a Prom, extensive Glastonbury coverage, a grand prix, the Edinburgh Festival, Eastenders, Comic Relief, Rastamouse, The Wonders Of The Universe, one of 6 national radio stations, dozens of local radio stations, used the news channel to keep up with the Arab world being on fire, a new war in Libya, the News Of The World affair, the Japanese Tsunami, a Nazi going gun mental in Norway, the recent riots, a polar bear eat a teenager or a shark eat a man on his honeymoon. These things are just a small fraction of the output that the BBC produces each year and is the reason why we should all be saying no to any proposal from the government or from any of the anti-BBC media shouty faces from the Daily Mail, Express and Telegraph to cut the BBC’s budget, or to lose any of the channels that it currently uses to broadcast to us with.

I said in my previous blog piece that there is a necessity for bureaucracy, I maybe should have added that I’m not against making bureaucracy leaner and easier to use. Just that bureaucracy isn’t the problem. Well, I’m not arguing that the BBC make the same quality and breadth of programming with a little less money per show, I’m sure savings can be made in many places at the BBC, and maybe that can be achieved without effecting the content of the shows and broadcasts that the BBC makes. After all, that is the important part of what the BBC does.

I have to admit that I don’t watch television a huge amount, it seemed to reach a peak when it made The Clangers, had brief rallies when it made Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, NYPD Blue, The Wire and Terrahawks but by and large its mostly a sea of slightly entertaining, occasionally funny, but usually turgid dross.

The only things I’ve watched on either BBC 1 or 2 in the last fortnight have been two episodes of the new series of Shooting Stars, which have been quite good, Vic and Bob seem back on form, I think they went on a little bit of a lull and were starting to become a parody of themselves in some of the more recent series but this new series is starting to shape up, unlike Ulrika Jonson’s neck, the film One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, which I enjoyed and Newsnight, it’s still more than I’ve watched on ITV in six months.

Typical Prom Crowd
And from that small list you may be asking why I’m banging on about the BBC, and why don’t I just shut up and let the BBC flop about in the mire like Channel5 and forget about it. Well, because I used a fair amount of the rest of the BBC. Along with two (a test match and a half at the moment) matches, I’ve listened to music on 6Music, interesting and funny shows on Radio 4, some soccer commentary on 5live, and if I hadn’t given up on my local football team I would, or could, have used the local BBC radio station to listen to their commentary on the three games they played last week.

I’ve also watched a bit of a Prom on BBC4, I could have also listened to it on Radio3, like I could do for all the Proms.

I’ve watched documentaries about impressionist painters, the architecture of the London Tube and a couple of episodes of American nursing TV comedy-drama Nurse Jackie on BB4, all of which were better than I’ve just made them sound.

Amy Sedaris,
easier to find a picture of than  Brother David
I’ve also listened to several free podcasts, one of Danny Baker’s go on Desert Island Discs, one was a David Sedaris live spoken word reading, (if you want something to read on the beach this summer you could do far worse than pick up a David Sedaris book, they’re funny, try one, I recommend When You Are Engulfed In Flames.) and one of a episode of Just A Minute that I’d missed. I think I’ve had my money’s worth this week.

But like I said, I’m not a toddler, a teenager, a woman, an OAP, I’m not black, or Asian. I don’t like a lot of modern pop music and despite watching a prom I’m not staggeringly fussed by classical music either. I don’t like costume dramas, I’ve only ever watched half an episode of Doctor Who, I really don't like Chris Moyles, Patrick Kielty, Alan Green or Richard Hammond, but because there are people out there that do those things then they are well catered for by the BBC, because the BBC makes as many products, for as many different people as it can. It does it well and it doesn’t get bothered by advert breaks, although if they can find a way to include that entertaining Old Spice add with the man on the horse (you know the one, “look diamonds, look at me”, that one.) that would be ok.

If you haven’t found anything to watch or listen to on the BBC this week then you really haven’t been trying hard enough, or you’re on holiday, or you live in a cave, and if you live in a cave, what are you doing reading this when you could be watching Top Of The Pops 1976 (actually don’t, 1976 was a bad year for music, fashion and haircuts if Top Of The Pops 1976 was anything to go by). If you were 12yrs old in 1976 and you’re being sneary about Swagger Jagger then shame on you.

Any broadcaster that has had a television series, hosted by Sir Patrick Moore, that talks about space and astronomy and has done for well over 50 years, is ok in my book.

Because in a week that’s seen Big Brother start on Richard Desmond’s god awful Channel5, and with ITV and Channel Four shunning the opportunity to make thought provoking, worthwhile, interesting television it seems to me more important than ever that we stick with a broadcaster who does.

But because this government seems hell bent on making the BBC make less shows, of less quality, and are using relatively small audience figures to make their case, and are requiring the BBC to spread itself ever thinner with every new round of budget negotiations, it seems even more important than ever to stick with the BBC and require it to keep its standard for quality, entertainment and education that makes it the best broadcaster in the world.
A £10 note, aka "a tenner".

If I have to pay an extra fiver, or even tenner, a year to keep the BBC making programmes that maintain that position then so be it, but the government shouldn’t presume that I don’t want to and should keep it’s nose out of the BBC and leave it be.

It appears, from my last two blogs that I’m anti-coalition, I’m not particularly, well I am, but if they could just stop doing and saying silly things then I could go back to blogging about nonsense like Panini stickers instead of whining about the things they keep doing wrong.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Doug Stanhope at the Leicester Square Theatre


From the crowd that was milling about as we took our seats in the cosy Leicester Square Theatre you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at the wrong gig. It was easily the most diverse crowd of people I’ve ever witnessed at any event, let alone to see such an acerbic stand-up comedian as Stanhope.

Whilst the show wasn’t sold out those that did turn up seemed thoroughly entertained throughout the 90 minute set. Stanhope berates his own show throughout the evening and constantly makes references alluding to the fact that he should have done his “funny material” or “the jokes that work”. If what we were treated to was Stanhope on an off-night this man should be selling out Wembley Stadium.

Stanhope patrols the stage like an early onset, hunchbacked, Parkinson’s disease suffer and at times I did fear for his mental health. Occasionally his mind seems to wander as he stops dead in mid-thought before stammering his way through to the next gag. At one point I genuinely thought that he’d had a complete mental breakdown but his repeated line turned out to be the set-up for one of the best lines in the set.

The seemingly disjointed delivery doesn’t detract from it at all, Stanhope gets his message across loud and clear and manages to impart his wisdom with a killer punchline. I cannot recommend this show enough, it’s thought provoking and funny, which reminds me, I must tell him about my idea for procreation licences. Stanhope’s run continues until the 3rd of September and there are still tickets available for most of the shows, click this link for further details. http://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/126514521/events

The 8 Words of Ash – Shooting Stars


Funny the first time... 18 long years ago.

That’s right, Shooting Stars, a relic of a different TV era, is back for what is now an eighth series. The once TV highlight now resembles those weird old blokes that still go to nightclubs and can’t give up on trying to be young. But, what do the youth of today think? Tell us Ash…

Forever hilarious, Vic unfortunately funnier, miss George though.

Interesting. Perhaps it’s just me that doesn’t find it remotely amusing, save for Angelos. Anyway, you can watch Vic & Bob trot out the same old routine every Monday at 22:00 on BBC Two. I think I’d rather watch Non-Celebrity Big Brother & that really is saying something. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Fu©king Paperwork


And so last week, while the fires were still being put out and the world was being smashed to bits, I was watching a little bit of Newsnight to cheer myself up (not really, just for the facts). The civil disorder was still the freshest, hottest news and MPs, rozzers and reporters were still being dragged off the beach to deal with it, all in glorious 3D Technicolor. This was a day or so after the actual riots and because there weren’t as many exciting pictures of burning cars and angry mobs the emphasis had started to shift towards the wherevers and why-whats and who was to blames and the item in question involved a debate between unelected Tory windbag, spokesrobot Sayeeda Warsi and socially fresh, friend to the people (who I won’t send my own kids to school with), labourite Diane Abbot.

It was a largely dismal debate, full of the usual “it’s your fault, not my fault” and “You did this, and that’s why the country's on fire” points scoring that solves nothing and makes politicians look even further adrift of modern life and the people they’re supposed to represent.

I wasn’t paying very much attention, because if I wanted hysterical overreaction I’d have just gone round my dad’s house, but one thing did stick in the old grey matter. Baroness Warsi seemed to indicate that the police stood by and let the rioters break windows and set fires because it takes quite a lot of time to process a crim’.
She blamed Abbot, or rather the previous government for creating a tower of bureaucracy, she said that as the number of police had increased during Labours 13 years in charge, the total amount of hours of paperwork had gone up and the actual amount of arrests hadn’t really changed, despite the increase in resources and officers on the beat. She did not go on to say that over all crime rates are down, and that maybe not so many crimes were being committed but I could tell she meant to but just forgot.

But her general point went on to say that if the police were freed up from this never-ending paperwork and got back on the streets to keep us safe then there needn’t be any problem when the budget kicked in and thousands of police were thrown towards the dole queue, which I’m sure made them all feel better.

The jist being that, labour had created this silly mountain of paperwork and it was that which had affected police-on-the-street numbers. Essentially, paperwork is wasting time that the wooden tops could be using to arrest people and stopping riots. Which all sounds right. Doesn’t it?

I mean, more rozzer, must mean less crime, ergo, if you cut paperwork, you can do the same amount of crime fighting for less money, therefore making the Tory/Liberal Democrat budget cuts unfortunate but completely okay.

But, if you were walking down a road minding your own business and you got stopped by a policeman, (try to imagine you’re black, it seems a lot more likely that this will happen to you anyway) and that policeman said you were under arrest for a crime, you’d quite like him to write down what that crime was so that when you went to court justice was served and the facts were available to be accepted or disputed and you got a fair trial.

Likewise, if you’re house gets burgled, you’d quite like your stuff back and the person who did it caught. It’s a bit unlikely that the policeman is going to just remember the facts of the crime, he’s going to need to write it down.

Again, if you want to scramble a police helicopter, a sniffer dog, a crowd control horse or an armed response unit you’ll need to write that down, because if something goes wrong, to you, the dog, the horse or a member of the public, there is an account trail that tells you the reason why the horse, dog, guns or whatever were needed and so that there was evidence of what went wrong and who was to blame. For example, imagine you’re a swarthily tanned, Brazilian electrician who was minding his business and thinking maybe I’ll get the tube over to wherever and a dampener is put on your day by being shot and killed. It might be that paperwork is the only thing that sifts through the various accounts of the issue and gets the to the real reason why you were shot.

Paperwork, isn’t just a police thing, every part of the interaction we have with the state as a machine is controlled by paperwork. You feel sick, you go to the doctors, he says you need pills, he needs to give you paperwork so you can go to the chemist and get the right drugs. Or maybe you tripped and fell at work, maybe you were given the wrong ladder (you might be able to make a claim) and you hurt your knee and needed an operation.
You get a little postcard telling you to come to the hospital in maybe 4 weeks time (yeah right), more paperwork. You check in to the hospital and you’re greeted by a receptionist. She needs paying, so there’s paperwork and she checks that you’re you so there’s some more damned paperwork.

A nurse comes and takes you to a bed/room and tells you to get into one of the unflattering gowns, more paperwork, because someone had to clear the room of the last patient, change the sheets, send them to the laundry and get you a fresh gown and someone had to tell, the nurse that you’re you.

So she goes away and lets you get comfortable, and at some point later a doctor turns up and says we’ll be doing the op at 1400hrs after Mrs Whoever has had her new hip put in, and so you settle down but the whole thing had been paperworked so that the doctors and the nurses doing the operation know that it’s A) Mrs Whoever and then B) you. And just so there’s no mix up and so that the doctor knows not to stick his knife in your ear instead of your knee there’s more paperwork and just so the anaesthetist knows how to wake you up again at the end there’s yet more paperwork.

This is the same everywhere. When you send you’re kid to school you know that little Johnny is doing Maths at 0900hrs with Mr Smith, English with Mrs. Jones at 1000hrs, lunch from 1230, science at 1330hrs with Mr. Singh and PE a spot of late afternoon rounders with Miss. Simpson at 1500hrs and that they’ve all got the CRB check and haven’t been held at her majesties pleasure for crimes against fiddling with children.

If you pay council tax, get your bins emptied, use the library, get made unemployed, start a further education course, need your car tax renewed, your kid wants to go on a white-water rafting trip with the scouts or you just want a fire putting out, get married or die then there’s paperwork. Even if you get lost at sea, there’s fucking paperwork.

Hello.”
Yes, hi.”
Okay, my boat just capsized.”
Oh, that’s a shame. Where are you?”
“I’m not sure, we left the Isle Of Wight about 5 hours ago so we could be anywhere.”
Oh, well that’s going to be a problem.”
Oh, why?”
“Well we’d love to send a helicopter to have a scout around and look for you but the man who used to nip to Morrisons to fill up the chopper got made redundant and there’s no one to do that anymore so we don’t know if we’ve got any fuel because he dealt with all the paperwork.”
Oh, erm shit.”
Sorry.”
“Nevermind.”
Bye bye then. Good luck.”
You see, bureaucracy can be fatal. If you listen to the Tories it just might be. If you voted for them then it’s kind of your fault.
Fucking bureaucracy.