Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Quiet Carriage

Rattling home on Thursday night on the 18.03 out of Paddington I was sat in the Quiet Carriage, A, enjoying my book and the views when suddenly some woman started talking on her mobile phone. Very poor form.

Some old boy, sitting in the seat in front of me said very loudly and matter-of-factly to her, "This is the quiet carriage, you can't use your phone in here". She replied, "I'm talking to my children, I haven't spoken to them for three hours and I need to check if they're okay". "Well, that's all well and good but it doesn't put you above the rules, if everyone thought like that the system wouldn't work. Why don't you do what every one else does and take yourself to the section outside the carriage and make your call there". She replied about having been sat down for three hours and very tired, which made no sense but nevertheless ended her call.

About two stops later she stood up to get off and you could see she was still fuming. As she walked past him she said, "I hope you enjoy the rest of your journey you moaning old man (or words to that effect). I almost said to her, "He was right, you should have just gone outside like other people have been", but didn't.

Instead, I leaned forward through and seats and said to the man, "Good for you, you were spot on". He rolled his and said, "Well...", in an exesperated manner, as if dealing with such moronic persons was all part of his daily crusade against quiet carriage abusers.

You go old man, you tell 'em.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Killer squirels

Seem to be blogging about animals a lot lately, hmm.

Anyway, as a former Cornishman, I am well aware of the dangers of fat, unafraid seagulls swooping down and stealing food from your hand. It happens all the time.

In London this problem doesn't really exist. But I reckon it soon will but with seagulls being replaced by foot solider squirrels. They are becoming increasingly tame, and more than willing to take food from your hand (evidenced by the fat critter pictured, snapped by my brother.)

It won't be long before Metro or Evening Standard carries a story of a child being attacked by a squirrel that wanted its food. The revenge of Gaia.

I am the new James Lovelock and David Attenborough.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Snake in the park

London is a mad place. This is well known. It reaches absurd heights sometimes though, taking the sublime and rubbing it in the face of the ridiculous.

Today, a bright, cloudless, vapour trail-less day, a real spring day of the highest order and, like many in the city, I take myself to a park with a sickly, over-marketed cider in tow. Waiting for friends on the corner of the entrance to one of these green areas of the city I see coming towards me a young lad, maybe in his early twenties, carrying a massive python.

Yes, a snake. He'd chosen to visit a London park on a glorious sunny day with his pet python. As you do.

I mean, fair play, but why? Is it even legal to take a snake to a park?

Friday, April 16, 2010


I like bread. I bet you like bread. Everyone likes bread. Man shall live by bread alone, that's what God said, and I bet God likes bread. That is what he said right?

There was an interesting documentary on BBC4 last night before the election debate nonsense about the history of bread...wait, come back...honestly, it was really interesting; it's such a simple, everyday commodity but, like so many everyday things, it has a very interesting back story.

For instance, did you know, (if you're of a certain age you will), that in rationing times, the government forbade (WE FORBADE, they would intone to the nation), the selling of fresh bread to stop people eating too much of it? "Give 'em day old hard stuff and they'll only eat what they need," was their ration(ale). What a world it was.

Still, bread is expensive now. It's often £1.39 a loaf of squashed white or brown from a convenience store. I remember at Cardiff when it was 79p a loaf. I went to that Spar to buy that bread for three years and the women behind the till never acknowledged me as a regular, dammit.

I hate bread that doesn't fit in toaster and worse of all has a hole, that often runs through the entire piece of bread (i.e. each slice), up at the you know what I mean, it's hard to explain...that annoying hole at the top that breaks the bread in two. Drives me mad.

My favourites breads are browns, baguettes, olive bread but sometimes nothing beats a clean white bread sandwich with nothing but fresh cheddar cheese. Mmmmm, lunch time!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Weird life skills

I seem to have developed an amazing ability in my short time that I have lived in London. When a tube is heading down into a station I can just tell, somehow, that it will either be empty, moderately packed, busy, or absolutely rammed, before it even passes me.

There's just some air of knowing that is swept down in front of it. Maybe it's the speed it's moving, or the way other people on the platform behaviour, as if they too have this sense. Of course, you may say it's the time of day that makes these things obvious, but not so, as it can often happen at either rush hour(s), morning or evening.

But, this only really happens on the Victoria Line as it's the line I have commuted on for three years (nearly), so maybe I have just got very good at readings its mood.

Incidentally, I complained about a journey for the first time ever about three weeks ago and got a £1.80 reimbursement thing back from TFL, which was nice. If petty.

Anyone else got any good life skills they've developed, without any reasoning behind them?

Accidental bird watching

On Saturday while out enjoying the nice weather I got caught up in a bit of bird watching, by mistake. While I was waiting for my girlfriend and her friends to turn up I noticed a comorant standing guide over the river, and so decided to take a quick snap...which soon turned in to several more as said comorant did all he good to provide some good photo opportunities, including drafting in a friend of his to help. The results of this are below. He's called Albert, as it was right next to Albert Bridge. It was strangely fun. Click on images below to enlarge.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The man on the tube

So, there we were, rattling northwards on the rollercoaster line, aka Victoria, when a man appeared at the window. Not the windows that look on to the platform. No, the windows, the slits you may say, between the two carriages, where only the brave and the beggars dare walk.

I looked at him: his hair was long, unkempt, and it was flying madly around in the air that whooshed between the carriages. When we skidded to a brief halt at Green Park it became clear that he was drunk. Plastered. Hammered. The blasting air must have been cooling his alcohol-addled brain.

He drooled too. Twice. Long hanging trails of saliva falling downwards on to the tracks.
Every time we set off his hair would shoot out, leaving his carriage, entering ours, as it flailed madly in the air tunnels of the tube.

Then, at each stop, the slowing movement of the train saw his hair slowly return to its natural position of stuck firmly to his head, and then he’d opened his eyes, stare around with an inane grin on his face, checking where we were.

And it was Sunday night too, so I guess he had no job.

Walk on

About two months ago I interviewed Nat Severs as he passed through Cornwall as part of his epic walk around the entire coast of mainland Britain. So all of Wales, all of Scotland (look at the west coast, yeesh! So many inlets).
Nat's blog and photo diary has made for fun reading and it was great to be able to write about his epic walk. As you can see from the images attached, click to enlarge and read (just about), he's certainly looking the part of the lone walker, striding out each day to rack up 20 miles plus.
Have a read of the article if you wish to learn more, or visit his blog and slip his charities a little virtual something for his troubles.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Adding up

Caught Outnumbered last night, very good as ever. I think I actually prefer the adults to the children: you can sometimes see them both trying hard not to laugh such is the ridiculousness of the children's ad-libbing.

In fact, I fail to believe the amiable and likeable father played by the excellent Hugh Dennis is the same man who appears on the dire Mock the Week.

The scene in which Ben wanted a Tasmanian Devil eating a chicken in Trafalger Square was fantastic but the real laugh, for me at least, was the pay off for Dennis' character saying, "Well, that's the fourth plinth solved". Secondly, the scene in the bridge of HMS Belfast when he acted out the idea of the ship sinking was hilarious.

Have to say though, once the television is off, I am certainly glad they aren't my children, they would be bloody irritating to have to deal with.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Bragguns and Dragons

Started Melvin Bragg's Remember Me now, another 450+ page effort, seem to be going in for the long books this year, and it's quite enjoyable to do so, nice to really ease into a story and know you're in for a (hopefully) intricate and clever tale. As it's by Bragg I can sometimes here that leather-on-willow voice of English intelligence reading the sentences aloud. Which is disconcernting.

If I were a famous author I would go around on the tube and so forth looking for people reading my books, then I'd stand behind them and quietly say the words out loud they were reading. Be terrifying for them. Although, of course, they'd have to know the sound of my voice already, otherwise I'd just look like a nutter reading aloud words on the tube.

Also, on a completely unrelated note, I saw How to Train Your Dragon in 3D the other day. I do like 3D. It seems you need to put flying dragons into a 3D movie to make it fun, and to be honest I couldn't imagine something like A Single Man needing the 3D treatment. The idea of one hour thirty plus of Colin Firth looking morose in 3D is not something I would want.

Unless there was a massive dragon somewhere in the story as well.

Monday, April 05, 2010


I've always liked Jonathan Creek, not entirely sure why, but I suppose it must be mainly due to the intricacies of the plot and the infuriating plots that are unravelled by the end.

Writing a JC must be a case of plotting backwards from the ridiculous explanation to the set up at the beginning but this does mean that the story (as most mysteries do) lives and dies by its explanation.

Last night's had all the hallmarks of a good solid, spooky mystery but had to be explained with sudden last minute bits of information the audience had no access to until we were merely told about them. Other, better JC's involve the possibility of solving the mystery yourself, although of course you rarely do.

In other plotting news, I finished Midnight's Children yesterday and have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I seem to have read a lot of long books this year so far, which takes up more time in the way I do enjoy 'ploughing' through novels, but there is something very enjoyable about spending a long time really getting involved in a story, and satisfying about finishing it.

And, in a nice finish to a blog all about writing, this is my 500th blog post (500!). All these words, thoughts, ideas, ridiculousness, and not a penny to show for it! Ho hum.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

You don't get this on Final Score

Why Sky Sports News' coverage of the goals flying in around the country is the best in the country.

Chris' face is like that of a school boy who didn't mean to do something wrong but inadvertently did while the others laugh a genuine laugh not at him, but with him at the way he has so honestly admitted to missing a key piece of the action.

I've often said football's best moments are the comedy moments. Wonder goals and epic matches are obviously great too but the comedy from a missed open goal, a disastrous own goal, riotous crowd banter and chants and the overall joy of seeing a game that is so often at great pains to justify its own seriousness - the tactics, positioning, players ability to control the ball etc - undermine itself so frequently are often the best moments in the entire game.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Canoe Man!

A couple of years ago, when the story of John Darwin hit the headlines, it was with fascination that the truth of his 'disappearance' was discovered.

Three years on and I came to watch a dramatisation staring some actory types in the roles of John and Anne Darwin in which Anne was shown to be somewhat of an unwilling victim in the scheme, caught between love of her husband, and the despair of the situation, aware of the crime they were perpetrating.

It was a fascinating story at the time, and it still remains so. They planned it so well, fooled their own sons ("that's the part the public will despise you for" a journalist told Anne in the story), and then, at the last, fell apart when they agreed to be photographed and didn't look into the visa situation of Panama.

If this story were told as straight up fiction people would enjoy it but sigh, "well, what nonsense" but it's even more incredible that these things happen all the time. Trying to think of other amazing stories along these lines, any suggestions?