Friday, February 29, 2008

Rules of cinema #1

If Jason Statham* is in it, it's got a greater than 98% chance of being a shit film.

* - See also Ben Affleck, Nicolas Cage and one or two others.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Recent trips to the cinema (yes, No Country For Old Men is that good, but it takes a while for you to work out why that is so and Ellen Page was robbed in the best actress category at last night's Oscars) have seen us sit through the same set of adverts a number of times. I have a problem with the ad for the newly revamped Fiat 500. The strapline is 'you are. we car'.
What does that even mean?

Anyway, with the trend for updates of classics we've seen relaunched Minis, VW Beetles and the 500. This leaves just one. When will Citroen bring out a new 2CV?


Couldn't-make-it-up corner

Today I was working in Hull. I visited a Mr Codd.


After the fun of a 4th birthday party, debunking to the pub seemed a good idea. After a world tour of beer - first six drinks all from different continents, but couldn't find an Antarctic beer for some reason - including some Belgian Trappist monk type thingy, my sense of humour descends to the level of the puerile. Hence:

Colonel Urquart would no doubt approve.

My niece

Looking more like her great-grandmother every day, may I present my niece Matilda.

Taken at her big brother's 4th birthday party.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Defining Britishness

A debate raged for, literally, minutes on the radio the other day. Whose music defines Britain and Britishness more: Vaughan Williams or Edward Elgar. Oh, the agony of choice. The answer is, of course, neither. It's Half Man Half Biscuit.

A gift

A present for the shareholders of Northern Rock:

It's the moon on a stick, clearly something they've been after. The risks are made clear well before anyone invests in stocks and shares. Like the Railtrack shareholders before them, Northern Rock investors can go whistle.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

'Can we play you every week?'

So goes the popular chant at sporting events, as heard yesterday as York capitulated meekly against John Beck's Histon side - yes, that John Beck, and he still plays the same brand of hoof-it-forward-quick 'football'.
This annoys me, not just when opposition fans sing it about a team I support, but at all times. "No you can't play us every week", I want to sing back, "for that would make a mockery of the whole League system", but I've not found a tune that fits.

The only place it's appropriate is the Scilly Isles, but I bet it gets a bit tedious signing that at one another after the fifth round of league fixtures.

There's nothing more right wing than...

...a radio phone in. It doesn't even have to be the hateful John Gaunt in the chair for this maxim to be true. Whilst doing my rounds, I tend to listen to Radio 5 once the Today programme is finished, and one caller seriously suggested that bringing back public stoning was the best way to curb the excesses of modern youth.
Moreover, since when was it taken as fact that 'the youth' are such a problem? Surely, as Barbara Ellen in today's Observer points out, it's the crime factor that's the issue at stake, not the youth. The only other grouping together of crime in such a way that I can think of is 'blue collar' crime. Not much gets written about high-level shady financial dealings, even though it costs the average Joe a hell of a lot more than most other criminal activities, presumably because it doesn't generate such easy headlines as a teenager running amok might.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Unlikely headliner

Among the acts to top the bill at this year's Glastonbury festival, few expected to see Leonard Cohen among them. It's part of his first tour in about 15 years and out of necessity since he got ripped off.

It's a bit of a typically Glastonbury mix of performers, not that I'll be off of course. All that mud and students. Still, CSS are pretty good too.

Viva Cas Vegas

Going back to what I was saying about shitholes, today I was in Castleford. Unlike Harrogate, this place is quite obviously and unashamedly a shithole. One of only two places I've ever been anti-Semitically abused as well.
One lovely chap tried to set light to our Catalan flag. Nice of him, especially as it was being held by a trio of the most pleasant and polite local young lads who wanted to join us in our support for the Dragons. We won, incidentally. Not by being better than the home side. Good lord no. Instead, it was because we're 'cheating French bastards', at least according to a healthy number of local yokels.

The fair was in town as well. This got me to thinking. Is this the Cas version of the work-based diploma? Or is Cas the town where the fair goes when it's not polluting some other part of the country?

Friday, February 08, 2008

The ballad of Danny Allinson

Thanks to Jerry Chicken for this. I have the dubious honour of writing a meme with a difference. It's for someone made up. Made up, more specifically, by me.
The rules:
  • Introduce us to your character
  • post the rules on your blog
  • share six non-important things/ habits/ quirks about the fictional character
  • tag at least 3 people at the end of the post and link to their blogs
  • let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog
  • link to the person who tagged you
So here goes:

The day always started like this. He never intended it to, but it always did. Let's face it, All-Bran tastes like shit - he wouldn't even give the budgie that crap - and the well-intentioned cup of tea just never seemed as appealing as the four-pack of cheap unbranded lager from the local offy. And so Danny Allinson cracked open his first can of the day. It was half past eight.

It wasn't always like this. The faded poster on the wall of the bedsit spoke of a British heavyweight title fight. He was 23 at the time, four years a pro, but it was a step too far and too soon. His opponent that night, Carl Lonergan, was nearly ten years his senior with twice the number of fights under his belt and gave him the mother of all beatings. Sure, Danny had tried to come back, but he was always 'that lad that got his head woven into the canvas against Lonergan'. After that, he was just a stepping stone for any other young fighter on the way up. He wanted to advise them, let them know what they were getting into. Tell them not to go anywhere near his manager when they'd beaten him.

His manager, Alan Crossley, was a grade A twat. Said he'd put all his prize money in a trust fund. What the fuck did Danny know about trust funds? Apart from the lack of trust that is, which he found out when Crossley legged it to Barmouth with the whole lot, leaving Danny penniless. He'd had an aversion to Wales since then.

He'd squeaked out a living on the doors in town, but once people got to know who he was, they'd all fancy a crack at him after ten pints. "Take him on his left Dave", he'd heard one bloke say. "He always drops his left, that's how Lonergan got him". The fury washed over him and seven months in Armley for ABH was the result. That was his door security career finished.

The benefits paid for the bedsit, a few cans of beer and the occasional packet of Old Holborn. He wasn't a big smoker, never had been, but a roll-up once in a while took the edge off that first drink of the day. Now and then, he'd have enough for some millet for the budgie. He could never work out how he came by that thing. Pointless bloody bird. He'd called it Adam Faith. It was his idea of irony.

The loss of the money was the start of it - the drinking. By that time, his legs had gone. He was no use as a fighter any more, not that he wanted to carry on. He'd had enough years before, but just kept going. One more. Just one more. It became a mantra to him, he'd said it so often to the wife. The wife... There's another story. Once the gravy train had stopped calling at Allinson Junction, she'd soon buggered off. She took the boy. No idea where he is now. Probably university age these days. Danny would have liked university. A different crowd to the lowlives he mixed with at that age. And he was smart, but that didn't matter much when his dad got ill. Money. That was what mattered and Danny knew that a lad who could punch could earn some, much more than the coal board were going to cough up. That was his dad's pun.

"Bugger this", he said to Adam Faith, swilling down the dregs of the can and heading for the bookies. Two hours and four races later, he'd done all his remaining money and was back within the four walls of the bedsit. He was sick in the sink. Grab another can. That should take the taste away. "How the fuck did this happen?". Adam Faith didn't reply, merely headbutting the small mirror Danny had found round by the chippy. "I looked after meself" Danny continued, scarcely noticing Adam Faith's indifference. "I liked school. I getting good marks until... well, you know". Adam Faith didn't know, or if he did, he wasn't letting on. Danny threw the can across the room. "It's all that bastard's fault!" he yelled. He could hear them downstairs, perturbed by the noise.

He went next door. Little Marco was about the closest thing he had to a friend. Marco was six and loved Adam Faith - the bird, that is - and would pop round sometimes to see him. "Look after him Marco", Danny told the young lad as he handed the cage over. He went back to the flat. He packed a bag. A change of clothes, a train timetable, an emergency can of lager and his dad's old hunting knife - the only thing he'd left Danny.

Tomorrow wouldn't start the same way. Tomorrow, he was off to Barmouth.


Was that six? I think so. I'll have to have a think about who to pass it on to.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The rugby starts today!

Huzzah! The rugby is back. It's been over the papers all week with special supplements and page after page dedicated to it.

Except it hasn't. This must be the lowest key launch of Super League of all time and whoever decided the date of today - the same date as that 6 nations bollocks starts - wants a slap. As does the person who decided that Leeds must start a week before anyone else. This is due to their participation in the World Club Challenge later in the month. What should happen is that everybody kicks off on the same day, giving us a proper launch and the World Club Challenge can have a blank weekend so that the whole Rugby League community can concentrate on what should be the biggest club game going, but is always treated as a bit of an afterthought.

Everything will be different when I'm in charge.

Still, at least The Guardian is giving Hull KR and Papua New Guinea legend-of-indeterminate-age Stanley Gene the kudos he is due.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Miles Kington

On Wednesday, Miles Kington died. 'Who he?', you may ask. Writer, jazz musician and inventor of Franglais, which has had a profound effect on my development.
Michael Bywater, writing in The Independent, for whom he wrote for many years, summed it up as best as anyone could.
Au revoir, Kilometres Kington. Merci pour les laughs.


This week, work took me to Hull. More specifically, I was on Bransholme for a while. As anyone will tell you, that place is a shithole. It has flat roofed pubs (see Jerry Chicken's archives for an explanation). It has serious social problems and horrible concrete prefabbed houses.
It. Is a shithole.
And today I was in Harrogate. I put it to you that Harrogate is also a shithole, but worse than Hull. The thing with Hull is that it's an obvious shithole. Everyone knows it's a shithole. The bigger problem with Harrogate is that it looks like it isn't a shithole and nobody that lives there thinks that it is. It's a middle-class ghetto. It's horrible.
Avoid Harrogate. It's worse than Hull because it won't admit that it's exactly the same.