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Ambivalent about Doctor Who

Ambivalent about Doctor Who

Ahhh, dear reader. I have a bit of a quandary – whether to run along the North Wales coast to see a big-screen screening of the premiere episode of new Doctor Who with David Tennant and Freema Agyeman seven hours before the rest of the UK – or to stay in bed and have a nice lie-in. I fear, I may choose the latter…

After all, around this time last year I was in Cardiff hob-nobbing with the press corps at the press preview of Doctor Who and writing Doctor Who preview-related gags for a newspaper. And now I’m not – and besides which, the press previews were in London yesterday.

Watching Doctor Who these days tends to bring up bitter-sweet memories and feelings these days. Whether it’s spotting old colleagues lurking in David Tennant’s fantastic video diaries, or just seeing a random Cardiff location masquerading as London or a foreign planet, it just keeps reminding me of my Cardiff and BBC days. Indeed, that’s partly the reason why I avoided Torchwood – in another universe, that could have been my web project, damn it!

But then I was never entirely happy there either, and a change in my life was well overdue. I think I’d have felt a lot better about it if I’d left by choice instead of having the decision thrust upon me. For the third time. Ah well…

Where Russell T Davies and I differ…

Where Russell T Davies and I differ…

I have two claims to fame regarding myself and new Doctor Who head honcho Russell T. Davies:

1. During a fire alarm, I had to walk behind him to the fire exit. He’s a very very tall man. (And no, I didn’t approach him. Being at work I’m sure the last thing he needed was a fanboy going on about Doctor Who and all that)

2. Like him, I was often to be found on a Friday night on the train leaving Cardiff for Manchester – although I never bumped into him on said train, and usually had to get off at Crewe.

However, it seems that Russell never liked the train journey. In this Telegraph interview, he described the journey as “Four hours of hell. It’s like Calcutta – sitting on a box of chickens with peasants hanging from the windows outside.”

This strikes me as rather strange, since it’s actually quite a pleasant rail journey. A peaceful four hours riding up the Welsh countryside, with none of the usual hassles of train journeys (changing trains, drunken hooligans) to worry about. Once the masses of commuters get off at Newport, it’s a very relaxing ride in which you can read books, play silly games, watch downloaded TV on your laptop, whatever. And I would have thought that busy man that he is, he’d relish the chance to spend three to four hours by himself catching up on the world without having the hassles of mobile phone coverage.

Ahh, train travel. I do rather miss it these days.

Why does it never snow on me?

Why does it never snow on me?

Long time readers of this blog (what, you’re still here ?!) may remember my eternal fascination with snow, and my eternal lament that it never seems to snow where *I* am.

Thus yet again, despite the fact that the rest of the country has been sent into panic mode and transport chaos, my little patch of North Wales has only received a very light dusting of less than one inch, at least according to my car. It’s not even enough to make a snowball, let alone a snowman or go sleighing. But this is enough to have closed some primary schools in the area, and to have earnt a blog post from Rhys.

The annoying thing is that around this time last year, there was a huge blanket of snow in the area – enough for the kids to go sleighing. Where was I? In South Wales, which was snow-free. And now that I’ve moved to where the snow is, Cardiff is covered in snow and up here, we’re not. Although when I was sent to Aberdeen a couple of weeks ago, it had just recovered from a small dusting of snow – which made for some most excellent pictures from the air. Shame they’re currently trapped on my phone.

The thing is, I love the snow because it makes everything look clean and pristine. Which is rather redundant in North Wales, because everything is clean and pristine anyway. So I’d much rather be in London when it’s snowing, just so I can see it clean for once. Ah well, maybe next time. Got any pics of London in the snow?

While I’m wishing on the snow gods, I’d like to drive in the snow – just once. So I can understand why everyone’s so scared of driving in it.

PS: Apologies for repeating the headline multiple times. It’s just too good a headline to waste!

Congratulations to an Eisteddfod winner!

Congratulations to an Eisteddfod winner!

Just a quick note to say congratulations to worldmegan, a mezzo-soprano and digital mate who came second in her Eisteddfod competition, at her first try over here in the homeland. Woo-hoo!

In the meantime, I shall continue terrifying the North Wales coast with my harmonious renditions of Calon Lan and Wrth ddychwel tuag adref, complete with Germanic thigh-slapping. No wonder it’s been raining lately!

Succumbing to Big Brother…

Succumbing to Big Brother…

Ever since I had to spend the summer of 2000 avidly watching and writing about Big Brother 1 (the one with Anna the lesbian nun, Nick the evil Brit and Craig the dumb-but-handsome plumber) for work purposes (oh that glamorous summer), I’ve mostly avoided Big Brother. Especially since it stopped becoming a vaguely interesting look at a cross-section of the British population and became a freak show.

However, this year, interest seems to have really peaked all around me. People keep sneaking into the office with the big TV to watch Big Brother 2006 – because there are two Welsh-language-speaking contestants on it. Although the Welsh gossip network has already informed me that Glyn is actually a nice, quiet and shy boy in real life – then again, I’m not too sure flamboyance would do you much good in Blaenau Ffestiniog.

In a hugely controversial move (well, controversial if you’re in Wales – the rest of the UK couldn’t give a monkeys I’d imagine), Big Brother stopped the two of them from speaking in Welsh (their natural language) to each other.

So there was I, quietly shaking my head at people trooping in and out of the big TV-office just because there happened to be two Welshlanguage-speakers on Big Brother. While secretly hating Lea – a former 22-stone woman who’s had multiple plastic surgery, apparently has the biggest boobs in the UK and says she hates fat people.

Then I get home for the weekend, where my sisters gleefully inform me that, of all things, a British-Chinese woman is a Big Brother contestant.

Bloody hell. Now this is progress. I’ve got no idea what she’s like – whether she’s a future Jane Goodey or a future Anna, but by Jove I’ll have to follow her progress, and probably vote for her to stay each time. If I ever find the time. 14 days till I have to move all my worldly belongings into a storage room and a front room!

And the top story in South East Wales is…

And the top story in South East Wales is…

Listening to the news on local station Red Dragon FM this morning, what was the top story?

None of those things. The top story on the 9am bulletin from Red Dragon FM was about the rise in teenagers going to self-tanning salons. Shock, horror.

You can argue it was an “exclusive” news story, but it’s hardly earth-shattering news. Unless you are only concerned about South Wales teenagers.

Oh, and I met Tom Cruise. But more on that tomorrow.

I'm a gagsmith!

I'm a gagsmith!

I’ve finally submitted my various pieces based from the Doctor Who press launch that I attended on Tuesday night. (And lo, Doctor Who 2006 is good. Oh yes. Tennant *is* the Doctor. And it’s old Who. and yet new Who. Together.)

The powerful editor-that-be wanted some gossippy pieces to go alongside the coverage – and I was unsure as to what material there could be gleamed from a relatively dull press night (no major celebs, minimal nipple count). but, blimey, working with a professional talented journalist does wonders for your copy. By the time we’d batted it back and forth, sending amendments and suggestions to each other’s copy, we’d unearthed a few sparkling gems of wit. Even if I do say so myself.

I’m not too sure how many of them will get used, but permit me the chance to blow my own trumpet for once, and you’ll be rolling down the aisle with these gags. Alright, maybe not but it might raise a smile.

(I did once intend to use a blog as a way to sharpen my comedy skills by trying to write one gag a week based on the news’ events. Might just try that again, as soon as I can start watching the news again!)

Another persistent bit of tabloid Who gossip doing the rounds is that Jordan (Peter Andre’s wife, not the middle eastern country) is set to join the cast. But writer Russell T Davies vetoed the idea in no uncertain terms in front of the 200 strong press pack. Perhaps he didn’t want to repeat himself – after all, the last series had plastic dummies taking over the world under the power of evil transmissions.

Annette Badland, who played an evil Slitheen masquerading as the Lord Mayor of Cardiff in the last series of Doctor Who, was spotted at the press launch, as was Nicholas Bourne, leader of the Conservative Group in the National Assembly for Wales. So watch out if there are suddenly plans to demolish Cardiff Castle in favour of a nuclear power station. Still, at least Nicholas had a golden ticket, which is more than we can say for the partner of another Welsh AM, heard loudly demanding entry to the screening. You’d think they’d have something better to do than watch an example of a much derided institution reinventing itself for a contemporary audience.

Another persistent bit of tabloid Who gossip doing the rounds is that Jordan (Peter Andre’s wife, not the middle eastern country) is set to join the cast. But writer Russell T Davies vetoed the idea in no uncertain terms in front of the 200 strong press pack. Which is understandable. You can have farting aliens faking an alien invasion before destroying Big Ben, but having a former glamour model who marries a former pop star better known for his abs and banana diet, who then renews her wedding vows before the first year is even up would really break the bounds of believability.

Another persistent bit of tabloid Who gossip doing the rounds is that Jordan (Peter Andre’s wife, not the middle eastern country) is set to join the cast. But writer Russell T Davies vetoed the idea in no uncertain terms in front of the 200 strong press pack. Shame really – after all, the Doctor prides himself on changing appearance, body shape, companions and personality every couple of years.

Despairing at the state of Welsh media

Despairing at the state of Welsh media

When it happened the first time, I shrugged. The second time, I was amazed. The third time, I’m now just shaking my head at the sheer stupidity and insularity of some of the people who work in Welsh media.

First, there was Lowri Turner writing for Wales’ national newspaper on why gay people shouldn’t run the country.

What she says is bad enough, but then you have to query what on earth Ms. Turner is doing writing for Wales’ national newspaper in the first place. She’s a fashion journalist so it’s obviously not for political gravitas. She was born and bred in London, so by most definitions I wouldn’t say that she’s Welsh. So what on earth is she doing writing for them in the first place? It’d be like having professional Scotswoman Edith Bowman commenting on political issues for The Times.

Secondly, students. Bloody students. Specifically, the student editor of Cardiff’s student newspaper who took the brave decision to be the first UK publication to publish the very controversial Mohammed images. At quite possibly the biggest university in Wales. On a campus teeming with students from all walks of life. Including Muslims. In a city that has the biggest and oldest concentration of Muslim people in Wales. Leaving aside the issues of freedom of speech vs responsibility, it’s not a very sensible decision to make – even fellow student newspapers say so.

Thirdly, church newspaper editors. To illustrate a Welsh-language article about the shared ancestry of Christianity, Islam and Judaism from the Church of Wales, they again included one of the controversial Mohammed images. Resulting in the recall of 500 prints. Whoops.

Sadly, this time around, I’m less amazed than bemused. Familiarity breeds contempt.

When old childhood taunts come back to haunt you…

When old childhood taunts come back to haunt you…

In case you hadn’t noticed, today was St. David’s day – celebrating the patron saint of Wales. The Welsh population were duly recorded with a veritable orgy of celebratory events – the opening of the Senedd / National Assembly for Wales, a football match against Paraguay, and a one-hour documentary on the closest thing Wales had to a political leader, Owain Glyndwr – he presided over the Welsh Parliament in the 1400s.

Scanning the credits for the programme as it rolled up the screen, I caught the surname “Wong”. And for a giddy millisecond, I thought that, finally, someone with roughly the same name as me had made it in Welsh media. (I have very low ambitions).

Alas, no. It turns out that the name listed is for a Wyn “Wong” Davies. throughout my childhood, I heard many a joke around my surname, such as win-wong, that sort of thing. It’s one hell of a shame to see such a joke repeated on the premiere documentary from BBC Wales for St. David’s Day. and one has to ask – why? What was the point? How does someone *get* a nickname like that?

Or maybe I should just get a life, as friends of mine have said.

Why does it only ever so slightly snow on me?

Why does it only ever so slightly snow on me?

So I go to bed last night, resigned to seeing none of that glorious white stuff.

Until Anni rudely wakes me up via text at 6.30am to tell me to look out the window. Befuddled, I do – and see the glorious sight of snow falling down past my window into central Cardiff. Joy of joys – only tempered by the fact that since it’s bloody early, it’s still dark and the snow is illuminated by the orange street lights which makes it look, frankly, urine-stained.

By the time I actually emerge from my nice warm bed an hour ago, dawn has just broken through and Cardiff slowly awakes. The snow has stopped, but the sun is shining brightly and the snow has settled ever so briefly on the ground. Life looks beautiful in its stillness, and there are reports from Miss R of glorious snow in North Wales. So I ignore it all and go back to bed.

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