Monday, June 23, 2008

Normal Service Will Be Interrupted As Soon As Possible

After weeks wandering in the wilderness - doing bugger all that I can tell - my sense of humour seems to be returning home. I've missed it. I have actually had a couple of cartoon ideas that nearly struck me as funny over the last couple of days. At least one of them made Merriol almost smile. (This is like getting a standing ovation from total strangers.) Tonight I drew one up. My first cartoon for weeks. It's nice to be back. Unfortunately we're going away on holiday at the end of the week and will have no internet access for at least seven days! (Big deep breaths! It will be alright... It's only a week... it's only a week...) So I'm just going to have to keep them as scribbles in the notebook for a bit longer.

Oh God! - A whole WEEK!

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm As Tired As a Sheep

Let me introduce you to one of my favourite books*:

Tokyo Style
ISBN 7636-1510-6

Whenever I get depressed by the state of this house, or pissed off by pictures of people's perfect 'desirable homes' in the Interior Design Porn sections of the newspapers: 'Designers Tarquin and Jocasta's spacious town house ticks all the right fashion boxes but retains a traditional family feel', I go look at his book. I have no idea why it was written, or what it's about - all the text is in Japanese - but it cheers me up no end.
It's a small book (150mm x 100mm) and contains some 250 pages of full colour pictures of some of the messiest, most lived in, and cluttered interiors I have ever seen. Rooms stuffed to the gunwales with unmade beds, sinks full of unwashed pots, and piles and piles and piles of STUFF.

I love it. It is a truly inspiring work.

I found it - or Merriol found it, we still arm wrestle about who actually owns this book - in a charity shop in Fort William. No idea how or why it got to the Highlands of Scotland, and was then abandoned by it's previous owner, but I'm glad it did. Just like I have no idea how an ancient Boots Randolph LP came to be tucked in between all the usual 80s easy-listening, middle of the road dreck that usually fills their boxes today. I bought it knowing, in my eclectic little manner, that Boots Randolph was responsible for one of the greatest bits of trash music ever. The immortal Yakkity Sax, a piece of music that can make anything funny. (It convinced the world that Benny Hill was funny for years.)

The LP is now resting in pride of place on top of one of my piles and piles of stuff.

*Or, more precisely, reintroduce you; I mentioned it in the blog last November.

Monday, June 16, 2008


For some time now I have been wrestling with the problem of why I like bad movies so much. I do actually spend a lot of time thinking about this - usually as I'm watching Joan Collins being chased round the Everglades by giant, radioactive ants, or Italians from outer-space delivering incomprehensibly ill-translated techno-bollocks at each other - and, from time to time, I do come to some conclusions which seem to make some sort of sense - none of which I seem to be able to communicate to people without their eyes starting to glaze over. People just don't get it, no matter how well I explain my current idea about the Cult of the Bad to them.

I suspect the world may be divided into those that get it and those that don't. Just like the way the world is divided into those people who are able to roll their tongues*, or taste phenylthiocarbamide. It's a genetic thing. You can or you can't. You're either in one camp or the other.

There's no middle ground but how do you tell the two camps apart?

I think I have finally found a litmus test: if you don't find William Shatner's version of Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man dangerously funny, then we've got very different genes.



I had one of those weird minor cultural divide moments the other day. A neighbour's child was round at our house to play, she's a classmate of Holly's and the only Polish girl in the school. I don't know how long her family have been in the UK but her English is good (a bit odd at times) and far better than her parents'. The girls all played for a while, and as it was getting near tea time I cooked and invited her to stay to eat with us. No problem. I made a big stir-fry with noodles and everyone had great fun eating with chopsticks and making a mess. After most of the food had eventually disappeared into them and I realised they were still hungry I thought I'd better produce some pudding.

Me: What do you fancy, girls?

Holly: Yoghurts!

Me: We haven't got any yoghurts - sorry. You had the last ones for lunch.

Daisy: Cake!

Me: I'm not making cake from scratch now... (Inspiration!) How about bananas and custard?

Holly and Daisy: Yummy! Bananas and Custard! Bananas and Custard! We want Bananas and Custard!

I turned to our guest:

Me:Do you like Bananas and Custard?


Her: What's Bananas and Custard?

Me: Erm. It's bananas... with custard on top?

Holly: (helpfully) Sliced bananas!

Me: Yes, sliced bananas... with... custard... on top.


Her: What's 'custard'?

When I'm bored and in the middle of whatever tedious housework needs done, I play games. The current favourite is:

What The Hell Are They Talking About?

This a game played when listening to Radio 4 and works best when you've joined a programme a few minutes in. The object is to guess what the people in the studio are talking about before one of the hosts of the programme helpfully says: "If you've just joined us, you are listening to The Blah Blah Show with me: Blah Blah, and my guests Blah, Blah, and Blah - today we are discussing Blah-blah-blah."

The best programme to do this with is In Our Time, in which Lord Bragg and various worthies from academia discuss such things as: "The Court of Rudolf II - the lost powerhouse of Renaissance ideas", "Trofim Lysenko - Joseph Stalin's chief geneticist", or "Abelard and Heloise - love, sex and theology in 12th century Paris".

Even after they've told me what they're talking about I still haven't got a clue half the time.

A variation I have played for years involves missing the first couple of minutes of Desert Island Discs and trying to work out who the guest is.

And there's the perennial favourite of counting the characters in the Archers (it's always seven per episode) and trying to guess who the last one is going to be before they appear.

Other games are played with other radio stations:
  • Radio 2: How Long Can I Actually Stand to Listen It? (ie before they play Gerry Rafferty's hideous Baker Street again - usually about 20 minutes.)
  • Radio 3: How Long can the announcers go without mentioning Benjamin Britten or the Aldeburgh Festival? (Answer: Not long.)
  • Radio Nevis: How long is it before one of their idiot announcers stumble over a common two syllable word.
  • WMFU ( How long can I listen before I hear something I have heard before. (This one can go on for days).

Sorry for the long hiatus / gap / pause, whatever you want to call it but, to tell you the truth, I haven't felt much like Blogging recently because I seem to have:
A. Mislaid my sense of humour somewhere (small reward if found).
B. Done my back in.
Neither one of which on its own would preclude me from sitting and typing whatever drivel comes into my head like I normally do, but the combination has somehow stopped me from doing much at all over the last couple of weeks.

Sorry about that.

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