Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sher locks Homes

Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Homes, Lock Homes. Most fictional detectives’ names make a play on the ideas of security, or their personalities. Morse (code), Creek (up without a paddle), Frost(y) personality…er…well, it does fit in some cases - an old theory from an university lecturer...

As a big fan of Jeremy Brett’s Holmes (definitive) I was interested to see the new adaptation on Sunday on the Beeb. It was indeed very good. I particularly the rift on “three pipe problem” into “three patch problem”. Modern. 

There was also some nifty smartphone’s interaction, which was, well, even more modern. You can't beat the idea of someone very smart, working everything out very quickly from the facts, like, and brow beating those around him. I think we all like to imagine ourselves as a bit like that, as a slight git who calmly, unshakably brings order to a situation. But we aren't like that, are we?

 The plot was a bit manic, but it was set up well for the next two episodes, (liked the idea of Mycroft as a government stooge). London looked nice too, including the dirrrttttyy streets of Soho, and it'll be interesting to see whether the next two episodes keep up the popularity the show has had so far from critics and twitter people so far (my yardstick anyway).

Obligatory use of the word elementary in a piece about Sherlock. Although he never said "elementary, dear Watson", instead saying, "elementary". 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thoughts on returning from Latitude

There are many mediocre comics in the world: The comedy tent is always a good place to stop by and enjoy some, well, comedy, but this year there seemed to be a blight of utterly mediocre and downright boring comics on the stage. So many just churn out anecdotes “I swear this is true”, that aren’t really that funny, or just endlessly talk about their “embarrassing sex life” that it was quite painful to watch at times.

The winner of the young comic of the show award (name escapes me), did nothing but silly voices, terribly improv and even “I pretend to be French when approached by charity muggers! I’m mad I am!” It was awful.

And another thing, so many of them say, “I’m such a geek!”, as if this is what makes them so uniquely comic, but the thing is, we’re all geeks now. We all like Twitter, Facebook, all discuss mobile contracts, network coverage, our phones capabilities, we all look at random stuff on the internet, and all these other various things they think make them geeks (more or less). Stop saying it to endear us too you.

Also saw Josie Long doing some comedy musings in the literature tent on Saturday night, which was also pretty terrible. Just because someone is cute and whimsical doesn't mean what they say is funny, and the stuff she did was almost cringeworth. (A cartoon picture of Nye Bevan talking in a mad, screechy voice).

Saying all this, David O’Doherty on Friday afternoon was probably one of the funniest live comedy I’ve ever seen.

Musically, some bands I saw I hadn’t heard before but enjoyed were Chief, Schools of Seven Bells, and Midlake and also Temper Trap were surprisingly enjoyable. Saw lots of other bands, but these stuck in the mind most. Flo was good, but a tad over long, Vampire Weekend quite enjoyable, and Belle and Sebastian predictably cute and nice, but also fun and worked well for the festival’s vibe.

Sebastian Faulks is such a cliche of the quiet, well spoken, thoughtful English novelist it's unreal, but he is also interesting, so that saves him.

Although the news of what happened at the event was terrible I saw nothing bad happen anywhere else on the site of any description, and thought the security was as reasonable as necessray, i.e. not heavy handed or over the top, but suitably present at relevant points. But then again, after what happened, I'm probably wrong.

My hatred for festival food (over priced, bland, tasteless, and unfulfilling), got another layer of disgust this time when I got some mild poisoning during Saturday (from a burger or noodles, not sure), and was promptly ill later that night. Joyous.

Overall though, a fun weekend.

Monday, July 12, 2010


When did the Stag Do become a 'thing'. In the old days they were the night before the wedding right? A terrible idea, surely? Many a font must have been graced by unholy water (amongst other things) from green-faced grooms at the altar.

I experienced my first one this weekend. It was fun. It involved some beaching and footballing, and best of all some clay pigeon shooting (men eh?), and copious alcohol in between, as to be expected.

All this took place in the delightful surrounds of Bournemouth, a slightly terrifying seaside town, where an undercurrent of simmering violence and sexual frenzy felt ready to burst at every minute, perhaps explaining the proliferation of sex-chat cards in the town, more than I've ever seen anywhere in my life.

It was, as stated, fun, but the idea that I could potential go on 10 more of these, spending a lot of money each time, and possibly having to go abroad too, fills me with a vague sort of dread and ennui, but then, that's probably true of lots of things.

We stayed in a Premier Inn, it was surprisingly good.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Jim Beglin Phantom Voice Syndrome

Last night, during Holland's 3-2 win over Uruguay in the World Cup (a Football Manager style result if ever there was one) commentator Clive Tyldesley was forced to go without his commentating mate Jim Beglin, who was ill.

Strangely, ITV had no replacements for him, so Clive was alone, a single voice talking to the millions back at home (or possibly no-one at all). Even stranger, though, than this decision, was the fact that despite Beglin not being there to chip in with agreements or further "insights" I could still hear want he would have said.

Example, say a close offside, Tyldesley would say something like, "That's a tight call by the linesman", and there'd be silence. But I'd hear Beglin, in those dusky, back of the throat tones adding, "Oh, you know I think the linesman's got that one wrong Clive". I imagine many other viewers suffered from the Jim Beglin phantomn voice syndrome throughout the game too. Perhaps ITV were banking on this?

It worries me that I have, by only the age of 25, heard so many of Beglin's phrases when he is sat next to Clive for all those Champions League games, that my brain can conjure up his voice and his phrasings itself.

Anyone else get this sensation during the game?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

More books

Three books read over the holiday described below.

Ever After by Graham Swift. Having thoroughly enjoyed Waterland (recommended, highly) I noticed this book in my local Oxfam for £2 and splashed out. It was definitely worth it – a sad, somber, reflective book on life, art, religion and death, it covered the life of a university tutor, knowing he is something of a fraud, ruminating on the death of his wife, his mother, his step-father, and at the same time, researching an ancestor's fall from grace as he came to question the existence of God in the 1850s. Moving, well-written stuff.

The Noughties 2000-2009: A Decade That Changed the World by Tim Footman. A supposed reflection on the 2000s, this book was really little more than a list of different ways a theme of the decade was interpreted among the art world (X wrote book Y, Z produced film A, after event T and so on (can I use other letters like that?)), and the bare facts around the events of the decade – 9/11, global warming, globilisation, war on terror, financial collapse. Only the chapter on shopping, which contained some stomach turning quotations from a chief of Starbucks about why people go to Starbucks (i.e. for the 'experience maan'), was particularly illuminating

The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje: Possibly more famous from the film (that I've not seen, but may seek out now) this was a highly-lyrical and interesting novel set in Tuscany (where I was, how apt), at the end of WWII, detailing four strange individuals thrown together in a crumbling Italian villa, and their interactions with one another from shared pasts, and possible futures. Some very clever and original set pieces, and character back stories made the book very interesting, but the ending felt a tad rushed, a bit too instantly dramatic, when one character suddenly loses his sense of purpose on hearing of the atomic bomb drops in Japan. Still, worth reading.

Any thoughts on any of the above most welcome.

Horsing around in Italy

I was in Italy for the last few days. I saw the Palio in Siena, which was truly spectacular. Three laps of the Campo around which ten horse riders, from 17 of the cities districts or Contrada ride barebacked, in a mad race to be victorious for their people.

The emotions on display where utterly raw, with tears of despair and joy on the faces of all those involved, the winning jockey paraded aloft after the race, and celebrations going on past 3am (when my friend and I gave up for the night…)

For days up to the event there is singing, parades, singing, horse-blessings, singing, and practice Palios, all making for 70 seconds of sheer drama and excitement.

Siena itself, Palio or not, is also a spectacular place, full of narrow cobbled streets and towering walls where shops and houses intermingle with ramshackle brilliance.

From there we went to Florence, where it was 35 degrees without a breath of wind which was almost unbearable, but we still took it all in. A lovely place, no doubt, but a bit more touristy than Sienna and probably mostly doable in two days.

We flew Ryanair, but in truth it was absolutely fine: what'd you'd expect for flights to Europe and back for £60. No service to speak of, but just take off and landing, all you really want from a two hour flight. When we landed in Pisa they played an celebratory trumpet burst (over the speakers, not the captain himself), which was a bit of fun. Because it is worth celebrating a landing, is it not?