Archive for May 2010
I’ve never been BBC3′s biggest fan. Indeed, until a couple of years ago, there were precisely three shows I watched on there with any regularity, one of which got moved to a bigger channel (Torchwood) and one of the others (Pulling) got cancelled. The third show? Doctor Who Confidential, because who can get enough of Effects Supervisor Danny Hargreaves? Not me, I tell you, especially when he’s wearing shorts.
Odd proclivities aside, I only started to trust the channel as the home of anything other than short-lived comedies and ill-conceived documentaries when I decided to tune in to the pilot of a show written by someone who’d written for Doctor Who. Yes, well done there, spot a theme? Toby Whithouse wrote the episode ‘School Reunion’, featuring the return of one Sarah Jane Smith, so I trusted him to come up with something half decent. I watched the other pilots in pilot season out of curiosity, but while Toby’s pilot, for Being Human, utterly gripped me from the off, the rest were usual yoofy telly fare. I fit the channel’s age demographic, but “stuff too shit for E4″ doesn’t appeal.
Back to Being Human, then. If you haven’t seen the show by now, which has had two brilliant series and is now filming a third, go and Google it. It’s fantastic. But its pilot wasn’t initially chosen to go to series. One of the others, Phoo Action, got the nod. It was rubbish. However, lots of people had seen and loved the Being Human pilot, like me, and were talking about it online. Campaigning for it to be made properly. It didn’t look hopeful for a while, and then the BBC relented. They made some changes from the pilot, as is normal, but all to the good and we got our show. I can’t wait for series 3.
Now the Beeb are doing another pilot season on BBC3. They want it to be a testing ground for exciting new drama. If people watch in the same numbers that they do Being Human, this might actually happen and they’ll stop sending airheads to developing countries and making terrible sketch shows. Sometimes good, sensitive (but also appropriate to the age group) documentaries do turn up on there, it’s not all bad.
One of the shows in the 2010 pilot season is, you guessed it, written by somebody who has written for Doctor Who. In the interest of full disclosure, he is also a friend of mine. Regardless of these two facts, based on description, cast and trailer I would always have tuned in for…
Pulse is a medical horror drama (not like those Point Horror books I read as a teen, I promise), written by Paul Cornell. It stars such talented actors and top totty as Claire Foy (Little Dorrit), Stephen Campbell Moore (History Boys, Ashes To Ashes, my dreams…), Greg Chillin (nasty Owen in Being Human) and Ben Miles (Coupling) and promising gore, scifi, thrills and humour from the off. It will be shown on BBC3 at 9pm on June 3rd. Next Thursday.
The thing is, it’s a pilot. There’s no guarantee it will become a series. I want it to be, I need more good homegrown telly in my life and we need to nurture interesting drama. I trust Paul Cornell as a writer to produce something I want to watch. Did you see ‘Father’s Day’ or ‘Human Nature’ and ‘The Family Of Blood’, all episodes of Doctor Who? He wrote those. Drama might be expensive to make, but it’s my favourite type of television, so. The only way Pulse can become a series is if a) lots of people watch it and b) they tell everyone they like it. Online reaction got Being Human made. So count this as doing my bit, to get you to watch the pilot of Pulse. If you like it, tell people. Tweet, blog, whatever.
Here’s the trailer:
I know the long range forecasts say the temperature is going back to single (Celsius) digits by the end of next week, but I’ve been enjoying the taste of warmth over the past few days. No barbecues, promenades or lounger-action, just the windows open all day, summer clothes on and my limbs starting to stretch out. For some reason that happens to me as the thermometer rises. I get a few days of agony as my neck/shoulders/ankles/knees/wrists have a good old whinge, especially the arthritic bit of my neck, and I have to do a few physio exercises, but then everything elongates out and in my summer body I am taller, longer and stronger. I get more music made, take more pictures and dream more stories. Sometimes I go for a run… I look forward to moving one day in the next year or two to my town of choice and swimming every day.
I don’t really like answering the door during the day, unless I’m expecting a delivery. I work from home and however short the disruption, it always takes ages to get back into things. The callers never seem to turn up during a natural break.
This afternoon, somebody knocked really hard, though, and I could hear that they’d obviously yanked the gate open (if you aren’t careful, it scrapes on the ground), so I thought I might as well go down and see. I was going to have to shut the gate properly anyway, as yankers never bother. Most of them are pizza leaflet deliverers or people dropping around those bags that aren’t actually for charity, but for a “registered company” and they put that number in where you’d expect the registered charity number, to fool people that it’s a good cause. The charities themselves are usually very considerate and open and close the gate carefully.
Anyway, bloke and his mate, not particularly smart or well-dressed and sweating in the afternoon mugginess, were standing there. Bloke 1 asked if I’m a homeowner. Which I am, so I said so, but I also said I don’t buy anything door to door or accept advertising material. He tried to shove a leaflet in my face regardless, so I closed the door.
I saw him, through the frosted glass, dumping a leaflet for Virgo Home Improvements on my front step. I opened the door again and walked up to him and said “You can take your rubbish with you”.
He told me to f*ck off and started walking away to get away from me giving him the leaflet back, and his mate laughed.
I said “Get a proper job, instead of dropping leaflets outside people’s houses and swearing at them”. Not the cleverest thing to say, but I was narked by then.
He shouted as he kept walking “I have got a proper job, and a better house than you, you f*cking c*nt. Stupid f*cking c*nt”.
Half the street heard. I doubt he’ll have sold much down my road. My street is part housing association and part private ownership. The homeowners who are in during the day will have been about as impressed as I was with his “sales technique”. Particularly the ones who were walking back home from the primary school with their children at the time.
If you Google “Virgo Home Improvements”, who are a Bradford-based company, you will see that my experience with their staff is hardly uncommon. AVOID. Tell other people, too.
I don’t drink. I’m not a dry alcoholic, it’s got nothing to do with religion and I’m not remotely boring. I just don’t like feeling fuzzy around the edges (that and there are enough addicts in my family tree).
Now, I love me some sweet, fizzy pop under normal daytime circumstances. Bring on the Dr Pepper, Coke, Sprite, Red Bull. I like juices and smoothies, squashes and cordials. But on a night out, or with a meal, I want a grown-up drink that’s not too sweet. Unfortunately, most pubs, restaurants etc can only stretch beyond pop and juice to a syrupy J2O, or an overpriced tiny glass of Appletiser or Britvic 55. They’re juice, too, really. See also when you go to a party, BBQ etc. The only drinkable non-sweet non-booze is that which I bring myself, while everyone else glugs beer, wine, spirits and mixers. The best places serve something a bit different. Elderflower cordials, homemade ginger beers and lemonades…
My longterm commercially-available favourite has always been Fentimans (lack of apostrophe theirs) Ginger Beer – strong, with a peppery, citrusy edge and a chilli kick. I’m also very fond of the Curiosity Cola, and recent addition to the range Rose Lemonade. How can you not warm to a drink that tastes of Turkish Delight and warm summer evenings, but is also a bit tart? Delicious.
Recent additions to the favourites list include Marks & Spencer’s Soft Brews, which are brewed with hops and malty goodness. This reminds me of my beloved Julmust, which IKEA Leeds kept failing to have in stock during frequent visits last Christmas. Expect a longer post later in the year about that little beauty. The Soft Brews taste like light, fruity beers only without the booze. They even have a good head (arf!). The aftertaste is complex and the mouthfeel silky. I’m particularly keen on the Blackcurrant variety, but the Citrus and Apple are also gorgeous. I hope the idea takes off – I know smaller manufacturers have been doing something similar for a while, but it’d be nice to be able to walk into any pub, bar or supermarket and pick up a bottle of something like this that is its own thing, while recalling the taste and scent of a good ale. Low/no alcohol lager has little to recommend it for the never drinker, though drivers and those occasionally off the booze for medical reasons might go for it. The Soft Brews are interesting drinks in their own right, not weak copies.
Now to drinks that I want to try, but haven’t yet:
1) Rochester Dark Ginger. My love for botanical tastes such as ginger, liquorice, rose remains unabated and a “dark” drink appeals.
What it says on the tin, really.
I tend to tweet about politics quite a bit, as I tweet about most things that interest me, but livetweeting is something I personally got into accidentally last year. Yes, I know lots of people have been doing it for ages. It wasn’t a concerted effort, I just found that it was sometimes easier and less painful for my household if I watched X Factor up here in my studio, on the computer, rather than on the actual telly. I’ve been using TweetDeck’s marvellous columns function to manage my Twitter feeds for some time now, and, well, instead of the odd comment (which I’d made during, e.g. Eurovision) I found I was tweeting the whole way through each episode of the godawful competition, responding to many, many comments from others and being retweeted quite often. I don’t understand livetweeting good TV programmes where lots is happening, but the sort you talk through or where there’s a lot of waiting around…hell yeah.
So of course I ended up twitting my way through the UK General election. From 10pm on Thursday 6th May, when the exit polls came out and the BBC Election Night programme started, my tweeting picked up in earnest and I was at my screens until 3.45am, when I was starting to feel depressed, and started back up four hours later. Hero of the week, David “Dimbo” Dimbleby, became something of a fascination as he kept broadcasting right through to about 4pm on Friday, and continued to pop up in programmes until Tuesday night. He started to make the same sort of dazed, baffling comments that we all do when half asleep and looked like I felt – a wizened, overtired, overcaffeinated tortoise…but one with passion. His interactions with Paxman were worth the price of entry alone.
I began to understand areas of policy that had previously been very hazy in my sleepless state, and engaged in rigorous and thrilling debate with followers from across the voting spectrum. Especially as details of coalitions began to emerge – I started taking more breaks, but I kept up my tweets as the Cabinet was announced yesterday – and those with connections high up in the Liberal Democrats began musing on the concessions to be made. The BBC News channel became my constant companion.
Every story has a villain, and apart from the Tories themselves, ours was Nick Robinson for the BBC and his ridiculous Conservative bias, along with Kay Burley and Adam Boulton at Sky. It’s not just not being on “our side”, it’s the vast amount of nonsense spoken. We don’t elect prime ministers in the UK, we elect MPs. The Conservatives did not win. Proportional Representation is not a lunatic concept. Oh, and it is VERY funny when the entirety of the media starts to comment on the slashiness of the Clegg/Cameron relationship and people actually start to write fanfiction about the pair. The Downing Street garden press conference did look like a wedding reception, after all. Mpreg by Christmas (Google exists for the terms you may not understand).
Link to master list of Clegg/Cameron slash fan fiction: here
More bloggery tomorrow, including the excitement of Dimbotiem and what it felt like to livetweet this election nonsense. But for now, ARGH. I hope that Lib Dems don’t concede too much and the time under our Tory overlords is a) brief and b) not too painful. Oh and c) screws ‘em up so badly they genuinely become unelectable in future.
Bring on the Milihair as we enter Opposition.
This report is a little late, political and personal events getting in the way, but I went to two very different evening shopping events on Thursday 29th April in Leeds city centre.
The first was a Ladies’ Shopping Event at Paper Scissor Stone, as previously mentioned on this blog. Discounts on various brands, free sushi and champagne (I’m teetotal, but was thirsty so even I had some) and the private, RSVP only nature of this event appealed. The shop is attractively laid out, and so is the merchandise. Pictures tell the story far better than I ever could…
Note in the middle there those grey chinos I still <3 so much.
I took advantage of the generous discounts available to nab myself a Something Else skirt for summer.
Service came with a smile, and a fabulous Paper Scissor Stone tote bag designed by Tom Pratt.
I also enjoyed the sushi from Leeds’ very own urban farmshop-style deli, Sesame. Their vegetables come straight from RK Harris in Headingley (in my experience, always reliable, and brilliant prices) and fish from Harrogate-based seafood superstars Ramus Seafood Emporium, site of much drooling when I was a nipper and lived in the town. I have never tasted fresher or tastier tuna maki. Look out for a future feature on them, I want to go and try their entire range…
A contrasting experience came at my next stop, Urban Outfitters. They were also offering free drinks, not that I was able to obtain one, and goodie bags with every purchase. Unfortunately, they were victims of their own success. While I coveted madly a pair of brown boots and a small leather satchel, and was all set to purchase some very cute little ankle socks even on my limited budget, I arrived around halfway through the three hour event and the entire shop was essentially one giant queue. I browsed, with difficulty, then waited for 45 minutes in the ill-managed line, which spanned every department on both floors and the stairs, and then I gave up. It was sweet to see a girl reading among the chaos, and fun free manicures being provided.
Less sweet was UO’s attitude – when I logged on to the Facebook event page later that evening, some disappointed customers had made polite but upset comments on the event’s wall regarding the length of queues and running out of goodie bags. By the following morning, they had received messages from UO asking them to remove their comments (“We hope you appreciate that it was an extremely successful and busy event and in these situations it is difficult to fulfil all expectations of all customers who attend…We would ask that you remove your comments from the Facebook event site as they are detrimental to our company”) and offering little in the way of good will or incentive to shop there again. UO obviously clocked that they could remove the comments themselves, as they were gone by that evening, including those made by people who say they did not do as UO asked. Perhaps in future they should make these events invitation-only, or at least employ stewards to manage the queues and expectations, and offer some sort of discount for those who turn up and queue but ultimately miss out. At the very least, not issue “screw you” messages to customers keen enough on their shop to sign up to its fan page and queue at out of hours events, and never again attempt to control legitimate discourse about their company.
All looks uncertain at the moment. I stayed up ’til 3.45am and, after a restless night, woke fully at 7.45am. We probably won’t get an answer, or a government, today. If Cameron proposes a minority government, I truly hope he fails.
There must be electoral reform. There must be another election. There must be discussion, and probably compromise, and we must not lose the BBC or our public services. And I must get some form of sleep and return of brainpower before I blog the non-political things I want to talk about. Shopping and sweets seem less than important when I’m exhausted and have no idea what our government will be, nor for how long.