Saturday, 27 August 2011

'he gets all the other parts I'm up for'

In the questionnaire interview in the back of the current Radio Times, Alexander Armstrong says this in answer to 'Who would play you in a film of your life?': 'I'd like Hugh Bonneville to play that part. He gets all the other parts I'm up for; that's why I've had to go into presenting.'

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

'guga doesn't go off'

In a blog post on the guga hunt on the Angus Nicolson blog, this made me laugh:
'"Guga doesn't go off", as a wag said, "It's already off".'

11 out of 45

In Brian Wilson's WHFP column of 22 July on the phone hacking scandal - only a month ago! - he says, 'The extent of the relationship between the police and Murdoch's finest is mind-blowing. We learn that 11 out of 45 staff in the "public relations" department of Scotland Yard were former News International employees, some of them on secondment.'

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

argentinian welsh speaker

That phenomenon [Welsh emigration to Patagonia] led to the bizarre peculiarity of an Argentine from Patagonia, Gabriel Heinze of Manchester United, becoming not only the sole Welsh speaker at Old Trafford (which must have caused Ryan Giggs some embarrassment), but also in 2006 the first Welsh speaker to play at the World Cup finals since the boys from the valleys last got that far in 1958.
- Roger Hutchinson, WHFP, 22 April, reviewing Return to Patagonia by Greta MacKenzie.

changed view of the police

This week's Time Out (18-24 August) has a set of post-riot articles, including one on the police by Tony Thompson which said, 'For too long, the Met have been considered to be the enemy, but last week many Londoners realised that the only thing standing between them and the loss of their homes or livelihoods was a thin blue line of police officers.'

Saturday, 20 August 2011

aig agus aon

... It looks as if Man United have the league title pretty well sewn up as it is, though surprisingly few people have so far cottoned on that the club's continuing success is down to their sponsoring Gaelic three-letter words on their shirts.

AIG helped them to a European title, and now AON seems to be working pretty well. Whichever way you look at it, you can't deny the global reach of such branding. See, these Bord na Gaidhlig boys and girls are much smarter than we thought they were at school. Wonder what the next chosen word is going to be?
- The Square Fellow, WHFP's TV review column, 22 April

the competitive nature of the scottish premier league

On the opening weekend of the Scottish premier league season Rangers drew on Saturday and Celtic won on Sunday. The report of the Celtic match in the Guardian on the Monday (which I read in a cafe in Fort William eating a full Scottish for lunch) described this as Celtic taking the early initiative in the race for the title. How depressing is that, that it's such a two-horse race that you can say that after the first match of the season?

Doing some shelf-tidying just now, here's something which has been lying there for a year, how the Dundee Utd correspondent answered the 'How will you do?' question in the When Saturday Comes 2010-11 season preview: 'Celtic have an inexperienced manager and Rangers have sold half their team. Third.' (They came fourth.) I think it was around then that I was amazed to learn, if I remember it rightly, that because of their financial situation Rangers hadn't signed any players for something like eighteen months. And still guaranteed top two.

'and now with the book'

I remember distinctly when watching this sketch on French and Saunders when it originally went out thinking how great it was and how it was an awful shame that it was transient and would never be seen again (and I kept a good memory of it through the years - I remembered Mark King's bit particularly, for some reason), but here it is: the Easy Tunes for Guitar court case. I sought it out a while ago when Simon Brint - the half of Raw Sex who wasn't Rowland Rivron - died. (I saw RS once at the Edinburgh Festival.)

Belly dancing and medieval role play: civil servants' favourite websites

Civil servants are using Whitehall computers to make thousands of visits to websites about belly dancing, medieval role play, and cricket, according to new figures.
- Daily Telegraph, 29 July

brian wilson blog

Brian Wilson's WHFP columns are now being blogged - and I think past ones being uploaded too - here.

Friday, 19 August 2011

'a record we are all destined not to recall'

I thought this was very good, from the Radio Times preview of tonight's Rob Brydon show: 'Will Young is in the studio too, and proves to be a good foil for Edna [Everage], although their duet on Something Stupid by Frank and Nancy Sinatra is rather hampered by Edna visibly not recalling the song. Young returns later to perform his new single Jealousy, a record we are all destined not to recall.'

Thursday, 18 August 2011

sarf london shopping list

I was looking at my shopping list this afternoon and wondering why I'd written 'weapons' on it. Eventually I worked out I'd written 'wee pens'.

more educated = more or less religious?

Study: More educated tend to be more religious, by some measures
People tend to become less religious as they become more educated, right? Not necessarily, according to a new study.
After analyzing data from a large national survey, University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist Philip Schwadel found that people actually tend to become more religious - by some definitions, at least - as they further their education.
“It all falls down to what you consider to be religious,” said Schwadel, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “If it’s simply attending religious services, then no. Highly educated people are not less religious; in fact, they’re more religious.”
“But if it’s saying the Bible is the literal word of God and saying that only one religion is the true religion, then they are less religious,” he continued. [continues]
- CNN, 11 August

Friday, 12 August 2011

you take me by the heart

Hearing Mickey by Toni Basil this morning, I was struck again by how the line 'you take me by the heart when you take me by the hand' sums up so well how love, unrequited or otherwise, can feel.

I don't say Chinn/Chapman were the first to put it like that, but there it is.

Of course the other thing I think about every time I hear the song is the scene in Wayne's World where they start singing it in the car before shamefacedly realising what they're doing.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

emperor and galilean

Last night we saw Emperor and Galilean by Ibsen at the National Theatre. It was the last night of the run, and the run was its first performance in the UK. I knew it had had mixed reviews, and we were able to get second row balcony tickets that morning. Before going I only read the Guardian review, and didn't read the programme in advance either. The comments on the Guardian review page especially were quite negative; Tweets I read were a mixture but more in favour, with some raving about it and several having seen it more than once (some said they left at the interval, more because of the length it seemed, which seemed odd). Reading the programme I see it was cut down from ten acts in two parts; it was edited down to four acts, started at 7, finished at 10.30; which is really not that long. It was also originally a 'closet play', like Peer Gynt and Brand, designed for being read rather than performed.

We both enjoyed it a lot. A historical drama of 4th century Roman Empire and Christianity. It was probably more interesting because we didn't know the details of the plot. Interesting ideas and history (some commenters seemed to find it laughable, as if they couldn't relate to any ideas or eras but their own, lacking interest or imagination). It was well acted, though from time to time you couldn't always hear all the dialogue very clearly. There was a big cast and some impressive set and stage work. Ian McDiarmid was the most famous actor in it (although I see we're going to see the main player, Andrew Scott, as Moriarty in Sherlock, which we have on our digibox).

Reviews from the first batch of Google hits. Guardian. Telegraph ('an almost unendurable bore' - we didn't find it boring). West End Whingers (some very unimpressed commenters). Independent. Daily Mail. There Ought To Be Clowns blog. What's On Stage. The Stage. Evening Standard. Official London Theatre interview with Andrew Scott. What's On Stage interview with Ian McDiarmid.

reviews of monday's prom

Some reviews (from the first few Google hits) of the prom concert we went to on Monday (Sibelius, Grieg, Nielsen; Stockholm Orchestra, Ott pianist, Oramo conductor). Guardian, Evening Standard, The Arts Desk (new to me, I think), Where's Runnicles blog (new to me - review off the radio). I'm all at sea with classical music reviews, really; I can't say that I agree or disagree with their analysis, because I can't analyse it myself.

true crime by margaret thatcher

I laughed in the library this afternoon. Someone had filed Statecraft by Margaret Thatcher in the True Crime section. Guessing it was the librarian with the elaborate tattoo on her calf would be stereotyping.

little things make a big difference

If it had been raining since Saturday the way it rained on me this morning, the main news story today would be England's woeful performance at Wembley last night.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

mark twain quote

This week's Rocking Vicar email quote:
"I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened." - Mark Twain

twenty-three-and-a-half pounds of damsons

Bethan spent the morning picking twenty-three-and-a-half pounds of damsons off the tree in our little garden. Very genteel. May come in handy sooner than expected since when she tried to do food shopping in the afternoon all the shops had closed early.

wsc soundalikes

The letters pages of the last couple of issues of When Saturday Comes have suggested the following soundalikes (speechwise):
- Joe Strummer and Roy Hodgson
- Jools Holland and Alf Ramsey
- Jack Dee and John Gregory

an unfair head start

Her large inner-city comprehensive school, attempting to accommodate the religious affiliations of seventeen different nationalities, had been content to instil the belief that racism was the greatest if not the only unforgivable sin, and that all faiths were equally valid - or invalid, as you chose to believe. The minority ones, their feasts and their ceremonies, received most attention, presumably on the grounds that Christianity had had an unfair head start and could be left to look after itself.
- PD James, A Certain Justice (p362, 1998 Penguin)

walworth road photos and videos, and other related links

Two videos from the same upper window in Walworth Road - looters and police vehicles.

Two Flickr sets from Walworth Road - looting and aftermath. A Mac set of looting and aftermath from roof and street level, which demonstrates some of the brazenness.

James Cridland was mapping the riots on Googlemaps, and wrote an interesting blog post about doing so (especially interesting on reliability of sources). He's stopped updating it, but the Guardian are doing one now.

The Guardian's Dave Hill on Things I believe about the London riots.

Two tweets from Camberwell Blog today:
- Today has been a wonderful education in not believing 99% of what you read on Twitter.
- Looking at the damaged properties on Walworth Road: phone shops, loan shops, jewellers, pharmacy; this wasn't blind rage, it was theft.

A tweet from Damon Green today:
- Last night walworth road so chaotic. In daylight you see the method. Phone shops, pawn shops, betting shops, sportswear. Cleaned out.

Walworth Road relatively not too badly hit, really.

[Later:
An exchange on Facebook with Douglas on 7/8 August:
D: all quite in your part of London?
I: all quiet south of the river
D: Good. Pleased to hear it. I don't really understand London, as you know.
I: Well, when I say 'all quiet', it's all relative of course. There was a little local difficulty in Brixton, it turns out, but that's three whole stops away on the tube.
D: Ages away then. They were showing a picture on the telly that I thought looked like yours. But that might just be London.
I: Came across a fine Tweet just now, with a latest news update: 'Now it's kicking off in Hackney, starting to feel like a bizarre version of Mornington Crescent'
D: Several people today when asked what they did at the weekend responded: nipped down to London for a telly]

ill-informed theorising

Often, from snow to strikes to demos, you sense that people are secretly hoping for a bit of disruption and excitement. You don't get that feeling today; it's turned out to be dangerous, violent, pointless and most of all unpredictable, and people want it to be over.

promming and rioting

While the cherub's away the parents will play. Tonight we went to the Proms, promming in the gallery - Sibelius, Grieg, Nielsen. Adds a certain frisson when you're wondering if your shopping centre will be on fire when you return to Elephant & Castle from the Royal Albert Hall. It wasn't. It did make me feel a bit like French nobility at the time of the revolution.

It was Prom 33: Sibelius Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, Nielsen Symphony No. 4, 'Inextinguishable' - Alice Sara Ott piano, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Sakari Oramo conductor. We enjoyed it a lot. We had to queue for quite a while to get in, and stood to watch of course, which Bethan found harder work than me; I'm more used to standing for stuff. I'd much prefer the gallery to the arena, ground floor, as there's much less leaning opportunity there - most people are free-standing, as opposed to leaning on rail or wall or even sitting. We were right around at the left-hand end, in the second bay - you could see most of the orchestra, and the pianist from behind, and we were much closer to them than people more centrally who had a 'better view' but further away. I'd go back where we were again. I liked being above them, as you could see the patterns of movement in the strings especially as they played, like wind in fields of grass or grain.

On the way there I was saying to Bethan that the last time I'd been to the proms was 20 or 21 years ago, with Catherine Mackay, promming in the gallery. And strangely enough, while we were queueing who should we see but Catherine, going to join the queue, the end of which was well behind us by that time. I don't know if she got in; I took a turn around at the interval but didn't see her (though I did approach someone by mistake who I thought might be her but wasn't).

Lots of reporting on the rioting, of which there seems to be a lot more and ongoing this evening. Rioting doesn't seem the right word, really, since there's no 'cause' - they're just looting.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

how roman abramovich feels all the time

I often seem to pick up the When Saturday Comes with the new season guide (ie the September issue) in a motorway service station, usually because it coincides with a holiday (this time the return journey rather than the outward journey).

One comment I liked, in the Aldershot entry, their best moment from last season: 'A 2-1 victory at Cheltenham on the day I also won £5 on a scratchcard. Roman Abramovich must feel like that all the time.'

This year one of the questions asked of the team correspondents was their favourite moment from the last 25 years - WSC celebrating their 25th year - and it was striking the number who said promotion not into the division they are now but an earlier promotion into a lower-than-current division.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

changes at the coffee pot

When I was in the Coffee Pot in Stornoway yesterday it struck me that the most, perhaps only, significant way it had changed since I went there in my youth was that there were now no ashtrays on the tables.

[Later: I posted this on Facebook on the same day as this post, 6 August 2011. In comments, Douglas said, 'For me it was the puddles we created as our clothes drained onto the floor as we nursed our one cup of coffee.' I said (also answering someone else asking if I had my usual), 'My usual, yes, a mug of coffee, but without the secondary smoking. Sunny, so no puddles.'

other lives

Going back to Lewis stirs up many memories from childhood and youth. Seems like another life altogether. Took back this time some stuff from the loft including a diary I had no memory of, starting just before I left for university and covering the first year; sporadic, but long and detailed, entries. I've glanced at it and am frankly frightened to read it. University seems like yet another life altogether.