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Another random only-in-London moment…

Another random only-in-London moment…

I was outside my local food shop the other night when a woman came up to me and thrust £5 in my hand.

Alas, it was because she wanted me to go in and get her some organic chicken – with a strong emphasis on the word ORGANIC. She couldn’t go in as it would apparently mean tying her yapping dog up.

So being the nice chap that I am, I took her money, verified with her that the chicken was suitably organic, made my own purchases, and gave her her chicken on the way out. (How often do you get to say that?)

And as is always the way when one stranger in London reaches out to another, she had to justify and explain the whole thing. Apparently it was because her boyfriend had inconveniently invited someone round for dinner after a gym session, so she needed more meat. But then, she said, she was a veggie anyway… Why she didn’t tell her boyfriend to pick up something on the way home, I’m not sure.

The TARDIS can be a dangerous thing…

The TARDIS can be a dangerous thing…

TARDIS power isolator

After all, any device that, when blown up, destroys the universe should be treated with care.

So it’s very good to see the BBC are taking their responsibilities very seriously.

(Taken courtesy of the BBC, who invited me to a preview of their actual TARDIS studio tour, which you can now take in Cardiff till the end of August.)

Nostalgia is a dangerous thing

Nostalgia is a dangerous thing

A poster reminding BBC staff about the closure of BBC Television CentreAnyone who loves Britain’s televisual heritage will not have let the closure of BBC Television Centre go by without at least one sad thought of glorious days gone by, lamenting how the creative engine that kept the BBC going will now surely be lost, and how they will no longer find a home or see their friends and colleagues at the bar.

Forgive me for interrupting the nostalgia fest – and none of this is meant to dismiss the great work that went on there – but the two BBC chat’n’compilation programmes that look back at the great days of Television Centre have reminded me of one thing:

As a current BBC employee, there is no way I – or many people I know – would have even had a chance of a job there back in the 1970s. That’s not down to my skills or experience, but simply because my face would not have fit. The two programmes that looked back at Television Centre didn’t feature any non-white people on its various panels, and hardly any women compared to today’s television schedules. What, no room for Floella Benjamin or Lenny Henry on the comfy sofa?

To be fair, this in itself was symptomatic of 1960s/70s Britain, an era where any thought of diversity (by today’s definition) was a sci-fi dream as alien as anything from Doctor Who, but in the mass rose-tinted view of a simpler life where everyone was friends with everyone else, this seems to have been forgotten.

A similar delusion seems to have befallen some people as they realise our television heroes back then were as flawed as their British society counterparts. It’s apparently a shocking revelation in a new Doctor Who behind-the-scenes expose book (ironically written by the man who directed/produced one of the Television Centre tribute shows) that William Hartnell was racist, and senior members of the production team would sometimes use their oblique power of promise to extract sexual favours from fans.

Forgive me if I’m not shocked at the thought that a white British man in his 60s in the 1960s would not have been entirely comfortable with people from other races. Or that the casting couch phenomenon was alive and well in 1980s/90s Britain. As the Seventh Doctor once said in one of the spin-off novels: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

None of this is written to denigrate the creative genius that created moments of joy and laughter for millions of people (or indeed the distress of those on the wrong end of the power equation), but let’s not pretend it didn’t happen. And isn’t happening now.

London – the world-class city where you can’t get a takeaway on a Saturday night

London – the world-class city where you can’t get a takeaway on a Saturday night

Disney characters starvingOne of the many many reasons for living in London is that it’s meant to be a world-class city, the place people flock to.

Well, I hope they don’t want a simple takeaway delivered on a Saturday night because it seems nigh on impossible.

Our first choice was Sufi – a Persian restaurant round the corner rated by Jessie J and Time Out, amongst others. We’ve ordered from there before without any problems, but of course that was on a weeknight. We called them tonight, to be told they don’t deliver on a Saturday night.

Next stop, another Persian restaurant called The Piano in Chiswick. We ordered it via Hungry House seemingly without a problem – thirty minutes later, with our hunger pangs getting ever more desperate, we get an email only to be told they rejected our order without any explanation as to why. I really should have checked the website earlier – they manage to spell Persian wrong on their homepage. Seriously.

Ditching the notion of such exotic cuisine as Persian altogether, we thought we’d retreat to the safety of Chinese food. So tried to call the Drunken Tiger restaurant (great name, amiright?) in Shepherds’ Bush. After five minutes of them not answering their phone, we gave up.

We finally resorted to the tried and tested Seven Stars takeaway round the corner – really, we should have stuck with them from the start, because they took our order without any problem and it’ll arrive in thirty minutes. Fingers crossed.

And now we’re starving and ready for bed at the same time. Not a great combo!

Things to make you go boomz

Things to make you go boomz

BassBoomzAnyone who knows me knows two things: I love gadgets, and am always looking to save some cash. This isn’t a bad thing, after all – gadgets make our lives more easy, and who wouldn’t want to save some money at the end of the day?

So when I was offered a chance to review the BassBoomz, a micro Bluetooth speaker that could replace space-hogging speakers and be far cheaper (at just £50 till the end of March with the discount code listed at the bottom), I jumped at it.

Seriously it’s tiny – it’s only half the length of a cell phone, fits easily in your pocket or some spare corner of your desk (or perched up on some books) and barely 5 cm across in width.

Yet this Bluetooth-enabled speaker packs a surprisingly serious punch of sound. When they say bass, they mean it – I was able to get sounds out of it that usually produced a cracking sound in my higher end speakers. I’ve now ditched my speakers and now just use this attached to my laptop or mobile phone!

Set up was a breeze; just make sure your devices (eg mobile, laptop, iPad) have their bluetooth on, and with two clicks of the mouse, you are ready to go anywhere in the house, or on the street. A line-in and mini USB port on the bassboomz ensures you can recharge on the go (no batteries required!) using a plug or your device without hassle. And the tough aluminium casing ensures it can take any knock in your bag without hassle – try that with your speakers at home!

Once that’s done, you can emulate rich Miami millionaires by simply choosing any song you like on your mobile phone, and suddenly it’s booming out of this tiny little speaker!

Overall, I am really impressed with Bassboomz, and can’t wait to try the next thing that comes up!

If this has tempted you, you can buy a BassBoomz for £49.99 (saving £30) by quoting discount code BBZ304616 at http://www.bassbuds.co.uk/bassboomz – give it a go for yourself!

(This post was sponsored by BassBoomz)

British v American young people, in a nutshell

British v American young people, in a nutshell

One in 10 young (British) people feel they cannot cope with day-to-day life – with those not in work, education or training more than twice as likely to feel this way – according to a Prince’s Trust survey.” – BBC News, 2 January 2013

… there has been a dramatic rise in the number of (American) students who describe themselves as being “above average” for academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability and self-confidence.” – BBC News, 4 January 2013

A BritCom blast from the past

A BritCom blast from the past

Back in the 1980s/1990s when I was very very interested in British comedy, I used to collect the odd scrapbook of newspaper/magazine articles of anything related to Blackadder et. al. This was mostly because this was pre-Internet, and I was stuck in mid-Wales and thus very much out of the loop. (Although ironically, I’m now living in West London, working for the BBC and still as out of the loop as ever. Who’s this Miranda woman?)

Fortunately, some kind person has seen fit to share their collection of articles from that time with the world by scanning it all in and posting it to that there Internet. So if you want to revisit articles about comedy gems from Absolutely to Whose Line Is It Anyway (by way of Alan Davies, Ardal O’Hanlon, Ben Elton, Blackadder, Comic Relief, Eddie Izzard, Frank Skinner, French and Saunders, Fry and Laurie, Harry Enfield, Have I Got News For You, Ian Hislop, Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Julian Clary, Monty Python, Paul Merton, Peter Cook, Private Eye, Rab C Nesbitt, Red Dwarf, Reeves and Mortimer, Richard Curtis, Rik Mayall,
Robbie Coltrane, Rory Bremner, Rowan Atkinson, Ruby Wax, Spitting Image, Steve Coogan, The Fast Show, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, The Young Ones / The Comic Strip Presents, Tony Slattery and Victoria Wood), pop along to this list of scans from tourmaline1973.

(Really ought to revive my British Comedy Library site one of these days)

(sings) Unfortunate YouTube banner advert of the week….

(sings) Unfortunate YouTube banner advert of the week….

Joke of the week

Joke of the week

A long time ago, I made a mental note to myself to try and formulate at least one joke a week. And as with most mental notes, promptly forgot about it. But I’ve come up with a rather geeky joke this week, and am inordinately chuffed by it. So, here goes:

Everything Everywhere are now to be called EE. When they diversify into tasty chewy snacks, it’ll be called EE Buy Gum.

Thank you, I’m here all week, do try the fish.

Asylum of the Daleks – hurried thoughts

Asylum of the Daleks – hurried thoughts

Asylum of the Daleks – fantastic great episode, and couldn’t sleep afterwards. But I can’t help thinking Moffat’s written a great mainstream-friendly episode that would have been better placed in the 2013 50th anniversary season instead.

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