Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm Thinking Of Setting Up A Whole Separate M&S Blog, Actually


The lovely Mr BC and I are in the living room, comparing our respective diets.

Me: I have a banana every day for lunch. And I used to have M&S Fruit and Nut Selection, but they seem to have discontinued it, probably because of the grub. So now I have something called Cranberry Surprise. At least I think it's called that.

Mr BC: What's the surprise?

Me (not listening): It might be called Cranberry Explosion.

Mr BC: Yes, that would be a surprise.

Me: The thing is, though, it has a picture of the cranberries on the front, and it says 'not actual size'. But when you tip them out, it turns out they are actually that size.

Mr BC: ...

Me: And that's another thing, on the picture it says 'serving suggestion', but it's just a picture of some cranberries on a table.

Mr BC: I bought a tin of plum tomatoes once, and it had a picture on it of some plum tomatoes in a bowl, and it said 'serving suggestion'. But it was just some plum tomatoes in a bowl.

Me: M&S don't even bother with a bowl. They're just, like, 'tip them on to the table'.

Mr BC: At least they didn't suggest you just tip them on to the floor.

Me: Or into the bin.

Mr BC: They should do that. 'Serving suggestion', and a picture of some cranberries in a bin.

Me: That would be quite nihilistic.

Mr BC: Yes.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Blame M&S

Last night I dreamed that I was Twiggy's housekeeper.

I knew Twiggy was hiding something from me, but I didn't know what it was. But when Twiggy sent me out on an errand, I hid behind the curtains and saw that she was hiding something in her hand.

Then I woke up.

Dreams are rubbish.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pedants' Corner

In which I pick holes in things other people have said, with arrant disregard for whether or not the totality of the stuff the other person said is wise, clever, funny, interesting, heartwarming or otherwise Good.

EXHIBIT 1: The Guardian Film & Music supplement, yesterday:
New Yorkers Okkervil River's fourth album is the first that really hits home, but it's so good, you want to go back to the others to make sure you haven't missed out...blah blah...FOUR STARS.

ITEM: Okkervil River are not from New York, they are from Austin. But I'll let David Peschek off because of the four stars, and for his description of Will Sheff as 'a gothic Ray Davies'.

EXHIBIT 2: The Independent Travel Supplement, today:
I emerged from the mobile cocoon of the Durness bus, which flopped to a halt at the end of the long haul from Inverness. Five hours' worth of human breath and perspiration had formed an early autumnal mist on the vehicle's windows. Outside, an early autumnal fog was doing its best to smother and smooth the roughest edge of the world, but the acute serrations of mainland Britain's most distant shore cut through the gloom with the sharpness of diamonds.

ITEM: 'mainland Britain's most distant shore'? Most distant from what, exactly? Durness isn't very distant at all from Tain, or Thurso, or Wick. Brighton beach is a more distant shore than Durness if you're in Glasgow. Oh, let me guess - you meant 'distant from London'. Blimey, it's a good thing no one outside the capital reads the papers, isn't it, Simon Calder? Next time, try 'northernmost', or if you really want to make me happy, 'most septentrional'.

EXHIBIT 3: New US teen soap Gossip Girl, a 'preview' of which was 'mysteriously' 'delivered' to Quinquireme Towers this morning:

Mr BC: That's the dad.

Me: That can't be the dad, he only looks about the same age as us, he can't have teenage kids, that's not right.

Mr BC: No, that is the dad.

Me: He can't possibly be old enough! Look him up on IMDB!

Mr BC: It says he's 38.

Me: Tch. These American dramas are *so* unlifelike.

I suddenly remember that my bestest friend from school, the lovely Smat, has a fourteen-year old daughter, and fall strangely silent.

My Interesting Life

It was brought to my attention by Annie Rhiannon that I had not blogged for some time.

Here then is a quick roundup of things that happened during my blogworld absence:

1. Visitors from Cornwall came, intent on spotting celebrities in That London. Within 48 hours they had racked up Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Noel Gallagher, Dustin Hoffman and Jodie Kidd, most of them in the organic wholefood supermarket in Kensington. Not to be outdone, Mr BC and I went to Sainsbury's and saw Rula Lenska. Chiswick is a hotbed of A-list stardom and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

2. I had an email from an informant, informing me that the informant had seen Peter Serafinowicz's brother in the High Road Brasserie, and that he looked just like Peter Serafinowicz (the brother, not the informant).

3. I retrieved a cat from SE27.

4. LC and I sold something we'd made* to a very big company, which made us happy. Capitalism rocks.

5. I watched Mr BC play Bioshock. At no point did he exclaim 'that's what you get for messing with the J-man!', but it can only be a matter of time.

6. The television broke. No one was unduly bothered.

7. I attended an event about how no one in the television industry knows what's going on any more. A man from Channel 4 said the channel had run out of money** and had asked the government for help. A scuffle broke out in the audience. It was a bit like the last days of the Roman Empire, but with free canapés.

8. I offered to be interviewed for an online magazine on the subject of fear of public speaking. The thought of talking to the journalist is making me anxious.

* When I say 'we' made it, what I mean is LC made it, while I hovered behind his shoulder making helpful suggestions like 'I think the logo should be bigger'. I am very much the Pointy-Haired Boss to LC's Dilbert.

** My commitment to factual accuracy and editorial integrity compels me to add that this may be a slight exaggeration. Although it might go some way towards explaining this (the bit about the sitcom, not the bit about the mobile phone).

UPDATE: In accordance with my new editorial policy of 'telling lies then correcting them in the footnotes', I should acknowledge that my informant points out that Peter Serafinowicz's brother didn't look 'like Peter Serafinowicz' so much as like 'what you would expect Peter Serafinowicz's brother to look like'.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Think It's All Over

My cousin is staying at Quinquireme Towers this week.

Me: Ooh, how's that website of yours going?

Cousin: Oh, that. Well it turned out that one of the developers was sick of social networking, so he didn't want to do it any more. And then it turned out that Facebook had the same sort of application already, so there wasn't any point.

Me: Oh dear. So what are you going to do instead?

Cousin: I'm going to become a lawyer.

Full-time score at the end of the Second Dotcom Boom: Facebook 1 (Zuckerberg 07), Everyone Else 0.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Earwigs: Less Worrying Than You Thought, But Not Much

Elegantly drawing together a couple of recent blog themes, my colleague D. instant-messaged me today to say he had opened a new carton of apple juice and found a live earwig inside the lid.

'Was it male or female?', was my immediate - and possibly not entirely relevant - response.

D. didn't know, as it was 'only small', so we looked it up in Wikipedia, where we discovered the following rigorous scientific data:

The name earwig comes from Old English eare "ear" and wicga "insect". It is fancifully related to the notion that earwigs burrow into the brains of humans through the ear and therein lay their eggs. This belief, however, is false. Nevertheless, being exploratory and omnivorous, earwigs probably do crawl into the human ear; even if they are only looking for a humid crevice in which to hide, such behavior provides a memorable basis for the name.

So there you have it: earwigs 'probably' do get in your ear, but not to lay eggs or anything.

That's all right then.

NEXT WEEK: Cottage pie 'probably made of cottages'.

Friday, September 07, 2007

West End Final

In late breaking news, it appears I have passed the Rupert Murdoch Test and have been judged aesthetically pleasing enough for the Times, who are coming to take my photo on Monday.

My image consultant advises me to "pull a 'terrified, vulnerable yet strong and empowered face". I expect I will manage the first bit.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


The lovely Mr BC and I are dining in Pizza Express in Chiswick. A young man comes in to order a takeaway, wearing jeans that are really quite daringly tight for W4. Then he goes away again. Presently:

MR BC: That was a hobbit.

ME: Hmm?

MR BC: That was Merry. Or Pippin.

ME: Oh gosh, yes, so it was! It was him out of -

MR BC: Lost.

ME: I was going to say Hetty Wainthropp Investigates.

MR BC: That's him. Dominic, er, Thing.

ME: Yes.



MR BC and PATROCLUS in bed, drinking tea.

MR BC: ...and we saw a hobbit.

ME: Ooh yes, I'd forgotten about that! I'm going to write a blog post about it. Something about collecting the whole set, in various chain restaurants in Chiswick. I'm going to look out for Elijah Wood in Zizzi's, that sort of thing. I'm not sure I'd recognise them all, though.

MR BC: You could recognise them from the tattoos.

ME: What tattoos?

MR BC: They got tattoos at the end of The Fellowship Of The Ring.

ME: In Rivendell? I don't remember that bit.

MR BC: (pityingly) In real life. All nine of them, they got tattooed with a 9, in Elvish, when they finished filming.

ME: Nine? I was only collecting four hobbits!

MR BC: Only John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli, didn't want a tattoo, so his stunt double got it instead. But his stunt double doesn't look anything like him, so he'd be harder to spot.

ME: This is all too difficult now. I think I'll just put up the Lord of the Rings video from Flight of the Conchords. It's funny.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Fame At Last, Fame At Last*

Fellow bloggers, it seems you (or rather, we) have an opportunity for unimaginable fame, fortune and celebrity.

As previously noted by Chuffy! in the comments of this post, BBC Radio 4 seems to be starting a new programme that will highlight good things from the blogosphere, compiled from suggestions that its blog-reading listeners send in.

The official BBC blurb goes something like this:

"The Blog Prog is a new weekly programme for Radio 4. It aims to set a new standard for radio production and its relationship with the audience. The 'Blog Prog' will distil the best and most challenging discussion and debate from the blogosphere. The half hour programme will also generate its own stories through its own blog & will open up the editorial process to take advantage of a well informed and blog savvy audience. At it's [sic - good thing they're not aiming to set a new standard for spelling and grammar, eh, hoho?] heart it's about how we take these ideas and this transform this online debate and personal testimony into arresting and thought provoking radio."

There is an almost completely indecipherable discussion thread about it here.

If any of you good readers work at the BBC and can explain exactly what's going on, it would be much appreciated. It looks like a nice opportunity to bring attention-worthy blog content to a wider audience, but I see no info about how to submit suggestions nor where to submit them to.

Apparently it's going to have its own blog as well, but I can't see any evidence of that yet either.

* Not for me personally, although a journalist from the Times emailed me today to say they might want to take my picture for an article they're doing, but they wanted to check what I look like first. I haven't heard back since I sent my photo, so perhaps I'm too hideous for the Murdoch Machine.

UPDATE: Occasional Poster of Comments reminded me that Radio 4 did a series about bloggers last year, featuring several of yer usual suspects. It made me think about how things have moved on, and about how the media drifted away from the blogging 'craze' and latched on to Second Life, and then Facebook. (Facebook!)

And then I actually, genuinely found myself thinking "people these days, on Facebook, they have all their entertainment provided for them, Movie Quiz application, Stripper Name application, Zombies and what have you...don't know they're *our* day we had to make our own entertainment, we had to make our own games, we didn't have anything provided for us...."

In our day! This was last year! Things are moving far too fast for my liking these days.

UPDATE 2: James from Miscellany Symposium reminds me that BBC Radio Five Live also has its own programme dedicated to blogs (and podcasts) called Blogs and Pods, which also rounds up interesting things from the blogosphere. And he was featured on it last night apparently, good work young sir.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

This Is Not A Blog Post Or Maybe

I once had a very long instant message conversation, which led almost directly to the end of my marriage.

At some point along the way, the interlocutor and I had an argument about whether lyrics or music were more important in the grand scheme of things. I reckoned lyrics, since in those days they were all I was really equipped to appreciate.

The interlocutor didn't think much of this. 'What if a song had great lyrics, but was musically rubbish?,' said he. 'Would you still buy it?'.

I reckoned yes. The interlocutor told me I had a lot to learn. This led into an argument about Badly Drawn Boy, and the next thing I knew my marriage was over and I was living on my own in Shepherd's Bush.

But I was reminded of that snippet of conversation today upon investigating Okkervil River's new album, The Stage Names. As previously advertised, this band have really quite fantastic lyrics that are really more like intensely intricate prose poems set to music, which is all very wonderful and everything, and they do also have some marvellous instrumentation, with trumpets and accordions and what-have-you, but I can't really be doing with singer Will Sheff's voice (and also his long face freaks me out, but that's face-ist, and anyway you can't see it when you're listening to the CD), and sometimes they start a song all promisingly alternative-y and alt-rock-y, but it all turns a bit mainstream rock by the end (see also Calexico's last album), or sometimes you think if only Will Sheff could growl a bit more and whine a bit less, then Okkervil River might be a bit like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds*, but the lyrics are brilliant.

Here's the opening song off The Stage Names; it exhibits most of the traits outlined above, but it has some excellent 'ooh ooh's in it. And great lyrics.

Okkervil River - Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe (mp3)

(Buy from Amazon)

I do really like them, though, despite their flaws. Although apparently their latest flaw is to be less flawed than they used to be. I don't know, tricky stuff, this indie music.

* Someone on iTunes has suggested that this album is more reminiscent of Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True, which makes a lot more sense (same sort of combination of pop melodies and wordplay and vitriol), especially as 'the' River have covered Elvis Costello in the past. This is why it's important never to listen to anything I say about music, as I know nothing.