Friday, April 28, 2006

Croydon Acid Madness!

I watched the Russian supernatural thriller ‘Nightwatch’ last night. What a bonkers film. The lead character drinks blood, which gives him hallucinogenic visions, to track vampires. His only weapon is a torch. It’s like an infinitely superior ‘Underworld’ on acid.

Possibly due to Moscow’s architectural resemblance to Croydon, the film set me to reminiscing about my acid trips in that noble town. There were a few that I remember fondly. Shooting up my friend Adam’s parents’ house with a BB gun before really believing I was Travis Bickle and nearly shooting him is still a vivid memory.

Another incident is more sobering in retrospect (certainly not at the time). Adam and I had both popped a Strawberry and went to a pub that I forget the name of (although I do remember that it was located in the shadow of a large flyover). Our game that night was ‘don’t tell anyone we’re on acid! Let’s see if they guess! What a giggle!’

During the course of the evening, we ended up chatting to a friend of a friend, a really nice girl whose name I also forget (although I do remember she was dark-haired and pretty until the acid started making her look like a bit of a lizard/human hybrid). Of course, during conversation Adam and I were enjoying our secret and giving each other conspiratorial glances. Nobody’s caught on to the fact we’re out of our boxes! Hilarious!

At the end of the night this girl invited us back to her room in a fairly rundown shared flat. We trudged up there and sat down in her little bedroom, drinking coffee, still sharing our joke and acting normal with our hostess. She was getting increasingly flirtatious and it became obvious, even to us, that she thought the reason for our conspiratorial and jovial manner was because we were deciding which us would spend the night with her. She may have even though we planned to share her. Or was that a delusion? Who knows? Certainly not us! Adam and I were like aliens with brains the size of watermelons, visiting a strange human world, and we had no idea how to respond. All empathy has deserted us.

In the end, for some reason I can’t fathom, the conversation turned very serious. She confided in us, sharing the story of how her family was shattered by the death of her Nan, her parents divorcing, the whole situation ending in acrimony and heartbreak.

So how did Adam and I, the aliens from Planet LSD, respond? We looked at each and, for no reason whatsoever, laughed our heads off. The shame still pricks me. We left soon after, having taken a hammer to that woman’s fragile emotional state. And we still didn’t tell her we were tripping!

As we walked long miles to Wallington, amid trying to process the revelatory experience of eating Minstrels bought from a 24 hour garage, we talked about what had happened. Why hadn’t we told her? Would it have made her feel better or worse? To this day, I still don’t know.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Fonz debate

After I raised the possibility of the Fonz running for president, Steve emailed me poo-pooing the idea. Here are his comments:

“Yeah, the Fonz may have been cool… but look at Ritchie Cunningham! Ritchie’s dad was cooler than he was! And was The Fonz that cool? An inarticulate biker without a posse who never went on any road trips whose white t-shirt was always immaculately clean – very suspiciously so. No steady girlfriend…clean teeth…strange magnetism to Ritchie. See what I’m saying? I think Fonz was an early version of Will & Grace. Oh my God and Jennifer Jason Leigh! Ritchie and Grace are both gingers!”

If I attempt to ignore the fact that Steve has a disturbing knowledge of Will & Grace, I think what he’s saying is that Fonzie’s coolness was sanitised and fake. Or that he was a repressed homosexual.

Another alarming revelation is that my girlfriend used to fancy the Fonz. So now he’s a rival. Could my misty-eyed vision of a Fonz presidency be in tatters?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What if...The Fonz ran for President?


My friend Steve and I were discussing what has gone wrong for the USA. We both remember thinking America was dead cool as kids. Now I’m sure most of our generation consider it to be the country equivalent of a big sloppy dog turd outside their front door. You want to ignore its existence, but it’s so big and creating so much of a stink that you can’t.

I think the main reason kids in the ‘70s thought America was cool was because of the Fonz. Come on, who didn’t think Fonzie was cool? His anti-establishment rock-steady attitude, his leather jacket and his ‘aaaay’ thumbs-up sign thing. As a sexually curious but romantically unsuccessful male child, I was also impressed that the Fonz always had loads of birds on the go. So just imagine how wildly popular the USA would be now if the Fonz were president.

‘Happy Days’ was part of a wave of cultural nostalgia venerating 50s America. This was perhaps because a very insecure post-Vietnam ’70s USA longed for the innocent certainties of the Eisenhower era (with all the McCarthyite oppression of communists removed, of course).

Now visualise this nostalgia taken to an extreme. Picture, if you will, an alternative history where the Fonz ran as Democratic candidate for President instead of Jimmy Carter. OK, I know that Arthur ‘The Fonz’ Fonzarelli is a fictional character played by Henry Winkler, but since when have Americans worried about such distinctions? Just look at how Arnie has exploited his Terminator persona.

So, anyway, Fonzie is elected by a landslide and implements his wise philosophy, often expounded in ‘Happy Days’ to the clueless ginger minger Richie Cunningham, as a political programme. Completely knackered economy? Remember how Fonzie would just punch the jukebox and it would work? Imagine he did the same on a Wall Street computer. Trouble with those Iranian fanatics? One click of the fingers would render them docile and all their women would be throwing off their burkhas and begging for a backie on Fonzie’s Harley.

After eight years of Fonzie’s brand of outsider liberalism (for surely he'd get a second term), I don’t think America would have voted in Bush Snr. And I’m damned sure they wouldn’t have put his son in power. I do, however, think Clinton would have been elected, especially as he has the same laidback style and similar success with the ladies as the Fonz.

In this alternative timeline, the USA continues to be the land of James Dean and Rock ‘n’ Roll, rather than Stealth Bombers and Extraordinary Rendition. Who could resist giving a double thumbs-up to that idea?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tube preggers update

Having grabbed the photo of the 'Baby on board' badge from Google, I found out that London Underground have actually introduced them. This is to provide a visual cue, helping women who are too shy to ask for a seat. Keen to get one for Em (even though it's pretty visually obvious she's with child), I rang the customer service number given on the TFL website. After a long automated message, I selected the option to speak to someone and I was simply cut off. Call terminated. If I were cynical I could almost believe London Underground were getting good PR without wanting to follow through with actions...

Seat selfishness shame

It’s the small things that improve the quality of life for everyone. This could, perhaps, involve not just throwing your McDonalds detritus from your car window (as I saw someone do yesterday), but actually bag it up and bin it at home. It could mean saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to a harassed Pakistani shopkeeper who’s probably had two armed robberies this week. It could also mean GIVING UP YOUR FUCKING SEAT ON THE TUBE to my heavily pregnant girlfriend.


The lack of civility in our capital city often gets me down, but this time it’s personal. I know that a seat on the Central Line at rush hour is gold-dust, but surely that doesn’t excuse such selfishness? I also know chivalry is dead, but it’s inexcusable that it’s men who are least likely to give up their seat.

I’ve travelled with Emily a few times and there’s certain depressing repetitious choreography to what happens:

1. Emily moves into the aisle between the seats to avoid being squashed in the area around the doors.
2. The lucky seatholders shiftily look up to see her pregnant state (which is massively obvious now).
3. They gutlessly avert their gaze, desperate to avoid catching Emily’s eye and being shamed into giving up their seat. The “oh, I was so into reading the brilliant ‘Green Room’ gossip column in my Metro that I didn’t realise there was a pregnant woman there!” tactic.
4. They look around them, hoping that someone else will give up their seat before they have to.
5. Sit back and relax – maybe she’ll get off at the next stop?

This never fails to infuriate me, so I now pipe up and explicitly ask “won’t anyone give up their seat for my pregnant girlfriend?” They rarely do, even then.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pregnancy is odd

Far from being ‘the most natural thing in the world’, I reckon being pregnant is the most UNNATURAL and bizarre thing in world. I just had an email from Emily saying:

“The baby has not stopped moving all morning and it feels like he's grown overnight - his little foot keeps ribbing me at the same time as his hands are hitting me right down in my pelvis! If I push or tickle his foot he moves his hand!”

Of course, I’ve felt the boy kick and move, but it seems to be getting more like John Hurt in ‘Alien’ everyday. Let’s think about this – there’s a human being with a will of his own (and, it seems, an aerobics programme) INSIDE my girlfriend. What on earth is natural about that?!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Phone photos

I've just had a clear-out of photos from my Motorola Razr. I hate the phone and it's got a crap camera - but I really like the colours in these (after a bit of enhancement in iPhoto). Could the Razr be the Lomo of telephony?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Xbox 360 - reviews for crap gamers like me

Xbox used to my client, so I feel disloyal saying this – but where are the brilliant games for the 360, guys? Having forked out for a few Xbox 360 games since Christmas, I have to say that the problem with the console is the lack of good software. There hasn’t been one game where I thought: “Jesus, this is absolutely fucking brilliant!” and laughed with delight. That did happen with Halo on the old Xbox. It happened with quite a few PS2 games.

Here are my reviews of the games I’ve played so far. Please bear in mind I’d categorise myself as a casual gamer (in other words, I’m a bit crap).

Project Gotham Racing 3
Having bought into the hype (that I myself was helping to create in my ads for 360) and forking out for a HDTV to go with my 360, I was expecting great things from the graphics on this game. As usual the screenshots outshone the real in-game graphics. It looks polished, but not AMAZING. I also found the controls twitchy (I suppose others would say that’s a nod to realism) and I got bullied on Xbox Live by Americans who shunted me off the road at the first corner. Frustrating.

Burnout: Revenge
This is the game I’ve had the most fun with on the 360. Proper high-octane thrills. There’s something very cathartic about demolishing other cars at high speed or catching them with the explosion of your own crashed car. No realism whatsoever, but controls that were easy to get to grips with. The graphics were the closest to proper HD I’ve seen too.



Call of Duty 2
Loved this at first, especially the Xbox Live battles. However, the novelty of killing endless Germans palled midway through the North African campaign. Again, the graphics weren’t astounding – comparable to what you’d get on a decent PC.

King Kong
Ever tried to kill a velociraptor with a wooden spear? Well, it isn’t easy. As ammo for guns kept running out, I was continually reduced to chucking sticks at big hungry monsters. You won’t be surprised to learn that I died a lot. This game also looked exactly like what it was – a port meant for less powerful consoles. Not impressed.

Tomb Raider: Legend
Arrrgghhh – twitchy, random camera angles have killed me again! Aside from that flaw, moving Lara Croft around feels fluid and intuitive. The game also looks beautifully lush. I’ve only just started this game. So far, as you can probably tell, it’s 50% pleasure and 50% frustration.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Football Glory

It seems a bit inappropriate to include this after writing about murder, but what the fuck - I've got a satirical footballing bit of Photoshop magic in the gallery section of the Guardian Football site! Don't worry, I won't let fame go to my head.

My picture is entitled 'Deer Hunter' and it's the third one down. Click here to see it!

Psychopaths and Lord of the Rings

I was reading about the online trail left by Kevin Underwood, the chap in Oklahoma who murdered his 10 year old neighbour with the apparent intention of eating her. I’m not sure why this particular psychopath has attracted so much media attention. He hasn’t got the body-count or exotic habits that normally bring a twinkle to the eye of a jaundiced hack.



It’s perhaps his very ordinariness and the empty, humdrum nature of his existence that make his story so appealing. His banality has ensured his fame. He did a series of dead-end jobs; he didn’t have any close friends; he was dull and inoffensive.

His online life is pretty similar to most nerdy blokes in their twenties: he bought Lord of Rings DVDs from Amazon and had a blog where he mainly seems to have posted information cut and pasted from news services. His blog will now be one of the most popular on the web, of course.

The interesting thing for me is the way his online expression seems to reinforce the pointlessness of his life. And, in a way, the pointlessness of all our lives. The Lord of the Rings reference interested me, as it’s an epic tale of people (and Hobbits, admittedly) doing great deeds. The most epic deed we can expect to do in our everyday lives is to find a till at Tesco’s that hasn’t got a queue. Is there a yearning for the extraordinary in the consumption of fantasy fare like Lord of the Rings? A search for a meaning beyond consumerism?

It’s tragic for poor Jamie Rose Bolin that Underwood selfishly satisfied his yearning for meaning by killing her. This complete concentration on satisfying his own desires at the expense of a child's life is unforgivable. It is also, perhaps, the ultimate expression of modern capitalist culture, where self-gratification is the holy grail.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pie update!

I've just received this heartbreaking email from Kev:

Dear Tristan,

I was sat in the exact chair as the man in the picture in your blog yesterday when I saw a pie in the pie warmer.

I enquired after it’s availability. Needless to say, after a ten minute wait the waiter returned saying the pie was unavailable. In reality I believe he had forgotten my request and returned only after realising the pie had been purchased by another customer.

I had a beef sandwich instead (which I waited 40 mins for). It was okay.

My misery continues.

I bid you good day.

Kevin

Pie rage!

As you’ll have probably guessed, this blog consists of the first thing that occurs to me when I start writing. The first thing that occurs to me this morning is that a Pret muffin probably wasn’t the best thing to eat if I’m serious about dieting.

Some bloke in Smiths - the joys of Google image search


Working in Farringdon is a curse for a boy who likes his food, as I do. There are just so many good eateries around here. I’ve gained a stone in weight since my previous agency moved here (my new workplace is just around the corner from my last).

The most damaging factor has been having Smiths of Smithfield around the corner. Curse that place and its bloody pies! (Not literally dripping in blood, although that may well be the next step for meat-loving foodies.)

Smiths’ pies are excellent – lovely pastry and substantial filling with delightful gravy. They’re also most sought after. The pies are generally sold out by 12.30pm, so you have to get there early. Sadly, most of the time we don’t. This has led to pie-rage incidents, generally involving my former art director Kev. The worst instance was when there were two pies left and we ordered just in time and then the waitress forgot our order and we had to WATCH SOMEONE ELSE EAT OUR PIES! You can imagine the fury we both felt. If Kev had been armed, he’d have gone on a killing frenzy, summarily executing the waitress and riddling the upstarts eating OUR pies with bullets. Luckily, he wasn’t armed and just complained so that we got free drinks. Hurrah!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Let's not forget Jesus


Been thinking about Easter Bank Holiday, DIY and Our Lord. If Jesus’ cross had been made by IKEA, I believe he’d have had a good chance of survival. For one thing, the Allen key always gets lost (I can picture the Roman centurion frantically searching for it amongst the packaging). For another, I doubt MDF with beech wood veneer could support an adult man’s weight.

As for the product name? Snöggikröss seems likely. Krucifix doesn't seem stupid enough...

Why DIY is dying

Apparently DIY (home improvement, as opposed to masturbation) is on the decline in this country. I have to say that although DIY was one of the things that made this country unique, its decline is no cause for sadness. I think we’ve always seen the European preference for getting a skilled tradesman in to do a job as being terribly decadent and lazy. Traditionally, us plucky Brits have preferred to masochistically maim ourselves and partially demolish our homes whilst trying to improve them.

Cowboys
There are a number of reasons for the decline. Possibly the most obvious is that there are now many comparatively cheap Eastern European builders, plumbers and electricians to do the job for us. British builders were, undoubtedly, unreliable, expensive and took the fucking piss. Thank god for EU expansion.

Mind you, I’m sure it won’t be long before these highly motivated Polish super-workers will be corrupted by the working culture here. They’ll put their prices up and see 60 tea-breaks an hour as the normal threshold of productivity.

Minging
The other factor is that DIY stores are fucking minging. I had to head down to B&Q in Leyton recently and it was the worst ‘brand experience’ I’ve ever had. Admittedly, Leyton Mills retail park is revolting in itself. I don’t think I’m being snobby when I say the demographic is primarily more ASBO than ABC1. But B&Q is in a league of its own. Surly ignorant staff, massive queues at the tills, merchandise scattered across the depressing cavernous space like the detritus left by Hurricane Katrina. Christ, it’s grim. The worse thing is that I know I’ll have to grudgingly go there again the next time I need something random like a chisel.

Bank Holiday nonsense
The final reason is that Bank Holidays are wasted doing DIY. I know this because I’ve just had a DIY Bank Holiday. The worst aspect was IKEA DIY. This is the pernicious Swedish evolution of the DIY ethic. I spent hours putting up wire curtain rails in the living room, with IKEA screws shearing off and IKEA steel cable piercing my flesh, only to find out we had bought the wrong kind of fucking curtains to go with the stupid contraption. I could have wept. I also think I may have introduced my children to a new lexicon of swear words, blasphemies and profanities.

Gnawed bones
The other DIY delight this weekend was beginning to sort out the garden. You’d think from the state of it that the last tenants were ‘The Hills Have Eyes’-style mutant Hillbillies. Only South African. My son keeps finding gnawed bones (he thinks they’re fossils) and fag butts are scattered liberally throughout the dead flower beds. There are also rusty old razors, snail-slimed socks, bits of electronic devices and the remnants of beer bottles. The perfect playground for my children. I’m going to have LOTS of fun clearing it out. Must head down to B&Q for a rake though…

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Ice Cube, Croydon and Sexual Guidance

Ice Cube always reminds me of Croydon. Back in the early '90s, my friend Blair Cowl (who lived in the leafy middle class estate of Forestdale, East Croydon) had ‘The Predator’ on tape. We used to sit in his bedroom when his parents were out, with the music blasting out. He was always prone to be a bit over the top, but he took a rare delight in quoting the outré lyrics of the chubby LA rapper. Obviously the extreme violence and swearing were a giggle for nice white boys like us.

Our favourite song was ‘It Was a Good Day’, a laidback number in which Cube recounts a delightful 24 hours where he didn’t have to kill anyone (“I didn't even have to use my A.K.”), eat pork (“momma cooked a breakfast with no hog”) or get stopped by the police (“Saw the police and they rolled right past me”). This is obviously a rare thing for Ice Cube – a bit like getting a seat on the tube and having no queue in Pret on the same day for me.



Just to top off his dream day, Ice also pulls “a girl been tryin’ to fuck since the 12th grade”. This is in the days before ‘Friends Reunited’, so it’s particularly impressive. This is where you wonder whether a generation of teenage white boys had their nascent sex lives wrecked by taking Ice Cube’s lyrics at face value. Particularly as the myth of black male potency is still current in white culture.

I’ll illustrate what I mean. Well, first of all his idea of a date is for her to puff a joint while he downs a beer and watches a bit of sport on telly (“The Lakers beat the Supersonics”). Then he gives her arse a bit of a grope (“felt on the big fat fanny”). Maybe the ladies in LA are particularly easily pleased, because before you know it they’re at it.

I do think Ice shows his feminist side here, as he’ll still make love to her despite the fact she’s on the blob (“Pulled out the jammy, and killed the punanny”). After this, I feel his understanding of female sexual pleasure is a little off-beam. He raps: “And my dick runs deep, so deep, so deep put her ass to sleep”. Oh dear, is he used to sending woman off to sleep with his lovemaking technique? Were there a whole load of lads out there who venerated Ice Cube and had complexes because their girlfriends weren’t nodding off as they banged them?

Mind you, having said that, after he wakes her up, his date doesn’t hesitate “to call Ice Cube the Top Gun”. So he must have been doing something right. Or perhaps she was being polite? Especially if she woke up to find him polishing his “nine” with a funny look on his face.

Sadly, the whole thing turns out to be a fantasy – an idealistic dream of what life should be. As we sat there in Blair’s suburban bolthole, it was a dream we couldn’t possibly relate to. After all, a nice pork sausage and bacon are the essential ingredients of any dream breakfast.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What a prick

Acupuncture: some needles hurt more than others. It is slightly discomforting to be riddled with punctures, but it definitely wasn’t as bad as the spine ‘pops’ the chiropractor inflicts upon you. Or the deep tissue massage you get from a physiotherapist for that matter.

The acupuncturist, Susan, was a lovely woman, with an amiable eccentricity. She had the kind of scattered-brained persona that didn’t undermine your confidence in her skills. She told me that the problem with my neck and shoulders is due to my gall bladder. This seems to beggar belief, but I’ll be interested to see if the Chinese view of the body is as valid as the West’s.

Any positive results? Well, my neck and shoulders seem a lot freer this morning, as Susan promised. Psychosomatic? As long as it works, I don’t get a shit.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Needles



Having a very busy day today, so I have to keep this brief. Visiting an acupuncturist for the first time this evening. Somewhat apprehensive, but it can’t be any worse than that chiropractor ‘popping’ business.

I’ll report back later on how it went…

Monday, April 10, 2006

Online community blues

I’m beginning to notice how modern existence – and, indeed social confidence – is affected by the actions of members of online communities. They’re beginning to have as much impact on one’s life as the other passengers on the tube or someone met in the pub. It’s something we have to get used to – all these people, in self-regulating techno-social bubbles, having an impact from a distance.

Paranoia
The tenacious defence of the Ray Mears page on Wikipedia was one example last week. I still find it bizarre that someone would give enough of a shit to protect Ray’s entry from cyber-vandals such as myself. Is EVERY page on Wikipedia guarded by an acolyte of some description? I see this as the online (and somewhat less lethal) equivalent of a paranoid householder sitting with his shotgun at the top of boobytrapped stairs, waiting for burglars to ‘make his day’. Yeh, I know that’s hyperbole…

Oedipal Schedipal
The next example of the impact of people online were American potty-mouths on Xbox Live. I went on there to play a spot of Burnout: Revenge and found that my opponents were US teenagers suggesting that they were going to anally penetrate each other’s mothers. Now, of course, the abuse wasn’t genuinely vicious, but as a 37 year old Englishman it’s a bit off-putting to have to listen to Midwest youth with MILF fantasies. The analogy is listening to teenagers swearing at each other whilst illicitly smoking weed on the top deck of the bus.

Playground
The third and final example is reading Emily’s pregnancy message boards on iVillage. The women on the boards organise themselves into cliques like little girls in the playground. Some have ‘private’ invitation-only MSN sites where they can share pictures of their bump or Bugaboo ‘travel system’ with other members of their clique. Some boards are populated by bullies who bitch about new ‘posters’. The other interesting element is the oppressive morality – one woman who spoke about an abortion was shouted down immediately.

Hmmm…
You’ll notice that, in order to understand online behaviour, I keep resorting to ‘real world’ analogies. With this in mind, my question is this: is the Internet leading to new social behaviour OR does it just replicate offline modes?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Wikipedia Zealotry Shock

You’d be astonished to discover that Hollywood hasn’t snapped me up after my phenomenal film synopses appeared on this blog yesterday. It would be easy for me to blame Ray Mears, but I’ll rise above that kind of small-mindedness.

Speaking of Ray, I visited his Wikipedia entry yesterday. I must admit it was purely to add a link to the page, pointing people to my Mears Apocalypse vision.

I’ve always wondered about the entries on Wikipedia. As they’re provided by members of the public and can added to by members of public, what’s to stop anyone from just making stuff up for fun? For instance, why not amend the entry on King Charles II to suggest he was married to a badger named Leonard? Or change the write-up on Jamie Oliver to say he’s a fat-tongued cock?

Well, I had my answer yesterday – the entries on Wikipedia are guarded by zealots with the devotion of 9th Century monks and the ferocity of Mastiffs. Almost as soon as I’d cheekily added the link to my blog, it was removed. I added it again to see what would happen. It was removed again. Someone was obviously watching the Ray Mears page like a fucking hawk.

Now, dear reader, you may wonder WHO THE FUCK would pay THAT much attention to the Ray Mears page on Wikipedia? Has the Cult of Ray already begun to recruit members BEFORE Armageddon? Or is it Ray himself, jealously protecting his precious public profile?

I fear it may be a mystery we never solve...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hollywood Here I Come!

I’ve decided to change career slightly and become the new Joe Eszterhas. I’ll be popping over to Hollywood soon to ‘pitch’ my movie ideas. As a father, my current idea is to update kid’s classic films to make them relevant to the youth of today. Here are the synopses so far:

Aladdin: Insurgent Assassin
Set in modern day Baghdad, Aladdin is an orphan street kid fighting for the insurgency. Brainwashed to become a suicide bomber by the evil Al Qaeda operative Jafar, he sets out to attack the Green Zone in laundry van packed with explosives. Luckily his detonator button turns out to be enchanted and, as he strokes it nervously, the Genie of the Detonator (Note to self: we probably couldn’t get Robin Williams – is Ray Mears free?) appears to fulfil his wishes.

After striking up a romance with Jasmin, the American ambassador’s daughter, Aladdin saves her from beheading live on Aljazeera after the Genie whittles him a rifle from some Yew wood.

Little Red Riding Hoodie
Set on an estate in modern Sheffield (should resonate with US filmgoers who remember ‘The Full Monty’), Little Red Riding Hoodie is a delinquent teenage shoplifter taking some stolen Temazepam to her grandmother across the estate. After being threatened by an ‘underwolf’ outside Chicken Cottage, she’s saved by a Community Support Officer named Bill Woodcutter (subtle reference to the original plot there). Sadly, when she arrives at her destination, she finds the 14 year old who attacked her has beaten her Gran to death (Note to self: hmm, maybe too strong for PG audience? Maybe he just ties her up and tortures her?) and is cross-dressing in her clothes.

Luckily Bill Woodcutter tracks the under-wolf down using the lad’s ankle-tag and arrests him. The villain is given 30 hours community service.

The Little Mercury Mermaid
Ariel, the Little Mermaid, is about to have adventures “under the sea” when she sadly dies from heavy metal poisoning. In his fury, King Triton hires a hotshot lawyer (Note to self: Tom Cruise may be too expensive – is Ray Mears free?) and enters into a protracted legal battle with the polluters. The case lasts 25 years and King Triton is harpooned by Japanese whalers before a verdict is reached. His lawyer, however, does create fire using some tinder made from seaweed.

Honey, I Shot the Kids
Eccentric inventer Rick Moranis becomes so sick of his wife’s incessant moaning about his inept contraptions that he shoots her and the kids with an assault rifle before turning the gun on himself. As the bullet tears through his brain, he fantasises an entire adventure where his children are turned into giants by his ‘size ray’ and run amok destroying Cleveland. Guilt can do that kind of thing to you.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Night of the Living Dead

Emily was up in Sheffield on a research expedition last night. Interviewing men about nuts of the dry roasted variety. This was an opportunity for me to have a night in on my own, which always feels like a great luxury. We’ve already established that I’m a sad fanboy, so it won’t come as a surprise that my twin pleasures were ‘Burnout: Revenge’ on the Xbox 360 and ‘Day of the Dead’, the old George A. Romero movie.

However, these distractions did not really fill the void left by Emily. Maybe I’m becoming sentimental, I do think that life’s pretty pointless when she’s not around. For a man with thoroughly juvenile foibles, maybe that’s what love is: your girlfriend being infinitely more desirable than electronic entertainment…

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ray Mears Extreme Apocalypse

Last night I watched Ray Mears, on a sojourn to a Belarusian forest, craft a spoon out of a bent log. He also made oil from birch bark and antiseptic soap from a weed. What a man he is – so entirely adapted to living off the land that he actually manages to stay quite tubby on it. He’s living evidence of just how many carbohydrates you can glean from the root of a bulrush.


I think it’s true to say that many useless city-folk like me admire Ray hugely. We like the fact that he’s got all these skills and he’s not a bonehead ex-SAS moustache. He’s a bit like us, in fact. We sit there on a Sunday night, after a weekend of shopping and watching DVDs, and imagine that we too could learn how to make rope from vine fibres. Indeed, he’s making a tidy living from conducting ‘bushcraft weekends’ for us to learn these skills.

The rule of Ray
I’m willing to go further in espousing my faith in Ray – I am willing to state that he will be King of Great Britain within ten years. Yes, you heard me right: Ray will reign as supreme overlord of these isles in a decade. This is my vision…

We all know that modern capitalist society is headed for oblivion. Our streets are overrun by feral children with rocket launchers; the oil’s going to run out; the climate is out of control; MRSA is killing us off in hospitals. Let’s face it – we’re fucked.

I think it’s all going to collapse faster than we think, a bit like a global version of the Easter Island apocalypse (thank you, Jared Diamond, for that example). Our flooded cities will erupt into an orgy of bloody violence as the supply chain breaks down and essential services evaporate.

When a civil society’s a memory and we’re chasing dogs around as dinner instead of popping a Tesco’s Finest meal into the microwave, who will we turn to amid the ruins? Who can lead us to salvation? Tony Blair? David Cameron? Ha, no! Their time will be past, lost in the rubble of Whitehall! No, it will be Ray – King Ray – who will be our Moses!

Tribal lore
Ray will emerge from the forest and organise us into a nature-loving tribal society. Armed only with our woodlore knives and ash-branch bows and arrows, we will learn to live from the bounty of the land.

Eventually, through the principle of survival of the fittest (or fattest in Ray’s case) we will be the most successful survivors of Armageddon. As we spread through Britain, those who oppose our peaceful way of life will be sacrificed, burnt alive in a giant wicker-Ray and their still-smoking flesh fed to our children.