Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Christmas has come, and The Bob is getting fat

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Huzzah! It’s Christmas!

‘Tis my favourite time of year. Two weeks of holiday, and nothing to do except eat, sleep, and make merry. Plenty of cheese, wine, roast meat, whisky, visiting friends, seeing family, opening presents, laughing, singing, and generally doing as one pleases. It makes me feel like I’m a rich Victorian gentleman who spends his days living the good life. But with better TV.

Of course, Christmas isn’t just about over-indulging - there is the religious aspect of course (but I leave that sort of thing to other people). For me it’s about TV Christmas specials (which are invariably slightly longer, slightly less good versions of all of your favourite shows), the complete anti-climax of who will be Christmas number one (being that the X-Factor winner could release a version of them humming the theme-tune to Animal Hospital and still be the highest selling single of the year); people complaining about the cold weather, the snow, and the ice; or the lack of all these things and the fact that it doesn’t feel festive without them (I’m entirely guilty of this). There are carols and Christmas pop songs, mince pies and mulled wine, parties, gatherings, and staying up so late you become nocturnal. Going back to your home town and bumping into people you haven’t seen for 12 years and trying to make conversation with them. News stories about last minute present buying, followed by news stories about Boxing Day sales ending in riots. The Queen’s Speech, classic films on the telly, fighting with siblings (”get out of my chair and stop eating my smoked salmon!”), and feeling guilty for not sending out Christmas cards again this year.

I love all of these things. There’s only one thing I really hate about Christmas - pantomime. I hate audience participation. I hate the embarrassing attempts to try and make them up-to-date by including jokes about current celebrities or the X-Factor (oh, I did that in the previous paragraph. Damn…) and using well-known songs of the day in an attempt to keep the kids interested (and it’s even worse when they try and change the words to fit the plot). Getting every soap star and g-list celebrity from across the globe to embarrass themselves for 2 months. The “comedy” comes via double-entendres worse than the worst bits of the worst Carry On film, weak references to current celebrities/films/events, men dressed as women, women dressed as men, and a couple of poor schmucks dressed like a horse.

I should point out that I enjoy a good musical, I can suspend my disbelief like the best of them, I’m a fan of good old-fashioned variety, and I love a good punning (as you may have noticed). But I find no enjoyment in a bad interpretation of a classic fairy story with easy jokes, bad music, and performances so mind meltingly poor it makes you want to watch River City just to experience some quality acing. And I’ll say it again - I hate audience participation.

Basically, I find Panto a horrific tradition that has nothing to do with Christmas, and has little to do with the season. It’s about being good to your fellow man, sleeping all day, drinking all night, and eating more cheese than should be allowed. Not comedy donkeys and cross-dressing.

Unless you get really drunk.

And yet I’m surprisingly good at triathalons…

Monday, November 17th, 2008

I’m a pedestrian.

I walk about 4 miles a day (to and from work) and I can walk a good way and at a fair old speed without getting tired. I enjoy my walk to and from work and it’s just about the only exercise I get.

But it’s more than that. Walking just about the only form of transport I derive any pleasure from. Put it this way:

  • I have aerophobia (I take valium on long flights to keep me calm…)
  • I don’t like long train or car journeys much (but then who does?)
  • Not a fan of boats
  • Hovercrafts - can’t really say one way or the other…
  • I can’t drive (failed 3 times when I was 17)
  • I can’t ride a bike
  • I can’t swim
  • I can only jog for about 6 metres before collapsing in a wheezing heap

Wow. When I look at it like that it’s pretty impressive. I suck.

Swimming is something that most mammals can do to an extent - I seem to remember in that episode of Quantum Leap when Sam was a chimp it was said that they can’t swim due to the way they’re built. There’s also probably some random mammals too (surely bats can’t swim?) but I’ll stick my neck out and say that most mammals wouldn’t drown. Swimming has been something creatures have been doing ever since, well, whatever it was we first evolved from first pulled on its amoebic bathing suit and hit the primordial ooze.

On the other hand, there are only a handful of chimps, a few dogs, and perhaps a squirrel or 2, who can ride bikes. And yet people are usually more shocked by my lack of pedal power rather than my absence of swimming skills. But to me the bike is just a thing people can do. Handy, yes, but it’s not necessary. The fact that I can’t swim could perhaps put me in peril one day, but something very strange would have to be going on when my only chance of survival involved me peddling for my life.

I’m sure biking in good exercise, but then so is walking. And, for that matter, so is boxing, bull-fighting, and buggery, and I’m hardly about to become a pugilist, Spanish, or go into showbusiness.

Just to make sure I don’t do anyone a disservice, the blame for this is entirely my own. I did get swimming lessons at school but never seemed to get to the point of taking off the water-wings (which was pretty embarrassing when I was 17 and doing Higher PE…) My parental units tried to get me to ride bikes without stabilisers, and my siblings all learned, but I was never very interested in such things. There was probably something good on TV.

Anyway, maybe now is the time to learn. Perhaps you all want to sponsor me to cycle 5 miles, or swim 10 lengths? (I have no idea how hard 10 lengths would be…) I’ll use the money raised to train up other mammals to ride bikes… just imagine: The Bob and his Amazing Mammals - On Bikes! We’d be a hit on ITV9…

Right, this post has taken a wrong turn somewhere. I was actually going to complain about people who don’t respect pedestrians, ie drivers, cyclists, and joggers. Especially large groups of runners who take up the entire pavement and force the rest of us onto the road. I’ve often been almost trampled by such people on my way home from work. Students by the looks of them.  Young, healthy and, as they’ve probably only been out of bed for 2 hours, full of energy. Lazy/lucky gits that they are.

As I hurried onto the roadside this evening to avoid the stampede, I wondered what would happen if I continued to walk along the middle of the pavement. Unfortunately they all tend to be taller than me so no doubt I’d get flattened. And I bet they’d all be really nice and apologetic about it too. Damn them all.

Maybe I’ll start taking the subway again. Much safer…

Things can only get similar

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Once again I seem to have failed to write anything for a few weeks, and once again I seem to be apologising for it. So sorry, once again, for my lack of posts. To make up for it I will write 9 posts a day, every day, for the next eight thousand years. Honest.

Anyway, the main reason for posting or not is whether or not I have something to say. And quite frankly right now there is plenty to be said about world events (and more to the point, the new series of Heroes has started - more on that later…).

The big issue at present is of course the slow and delicate collapse of capitalism. Or so the media would have us believe. I am not going to write lots about this as I definitely know less than many people about this subject and don’t want to waste your time…

Actually, I tried to write something but ended up with 8 of the most banal, obvious, and embarrassing simplistic paragraphs you’ve ever read, and I had to delete them before I vomited in self loathing. Read this article and you will get an idea of what I entirely failed to even approach in saying. I even tried to write a mocking paragraph about how rubbish they were and it was almost as bad. Let us not speak of this again children.

Instead… I’ll talk about the American election! Hey, no one else has said or written anything on this! I’m sure I’ll come up with plenty of original and witty comments. Honet.

The point has been raised a number of times over the past 8 years that once Mr Bush is no longer the Big Man, the political satirists are going to have a much tougher time. Now, I’ll lay my fairly obvious cards on the table and say that I do want Obama to win, but if he does The Daily Show won’t be nearly as good for the next 4 years. Or will it…

Remember back, if you will, to 1 May 1997. The sun seemed to be just that little bit brighter than it had been for the past 18 years, and most people thought it was shining out of the arse of a certain Mr Tony Blair. Please try and remember this without cynicism - we all* thought that this really was going to be a great thing, a new Britain, possibly even a New Britain. Things could only get Better, etc etc.

Let’s also remember that since then we’ve gained a minimum wage, devolution in Scotland and Wales, er… ASBOs? Um… they repealed the law that meant you could be hanged for treason or piracy. Er, I’m sure there were a few other good things that I was going to mention but I can’t remember what they are now. The Olympics? Please use the comment box below to help me out…

But my point is that if Obama gets the comfy seat in the Oval Office it won’t herald a new dawn of common sense and fairness, greater freedoms and equalities, less wars and terror, a world where all of mankind work together towards a glorious future, of countrymen lending others their ears… you get the point. I just don’t think it will make a huge difference, that’s all I’m saying. That’s the problem with democracy - we spend all this time choosing who to put in charge and then we just complain when they get it wrong. But as someone clever sort (Churchill no doubt) once said, Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried.

Anyway, at least things can’t get any worse. Unless we end up with a certain President Palin.

(* apart from the 3 people in Surrey who actually voted Tory that year)

Who will buy?

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Anyone who has ever lived with me, been round to my place, or indeed had me in their house, while watching TV will know that I have a tendency to hit the mute button during the advert breaks. In fact, tendency is perhaps not a strong enough word. A compulsion, an obsession, a sine qua non if you will.

I just can’t help it. Come the quarter hour and the remote will magically appear in my hand, finger poised to silence the dire warnings of the lack of car insurance, lady products, or appropriate dog food in our sorry little lives. For me though, as I can’t drive, am not and do not possess a lady, and don’t enjoy the taste of dog food, these are unnecessary interludes.

I fear that moaning about specific ads may become a semi-regular feature on here, as they really do make me want to curl up and buy (nothing, ever again), but here are some of the adverts that have caught my eye recently…

Stella Artois: They’ve finally dropped the “Reassuringly Expensive” thing, as that only works if it actually costs more than any other beer. Which it doesn’t. It’s also not very nice. And makes you want to beat up women (allegedly) hence why it is know as “wifebeater”. Allegedly.

Their new advert features all sorts of exciting medieval/fantasy style computer graphics and people in costumes, and even has a voice over by Patrick Stewart himself, telling us that Stella is from ye olde days and is made with only the traditional ingredients of water, hops, and er… the other ones.  He even promises the excitement of some sort of online game thing. So basically, all the things that would normally draw me in. But it’s Stella. Even if Patrick Stewart came round to my house to read The Lord of the Rings to me, recreated my favourite scenes from I, Claudius, and said “Make it so” when I offered him a cup of tea, I still wouldn’t drink Stella.

Well. okay, maybe if he did all of those things. But it would have to be all three…

Hovis: This features a wee boy with something of the Oliver about him buying a loaf of ye olde breade from ye olde shoppe. But, shock horror, when he walks outside it seems to be slightly less olde. There’s a horse and cart in the street, but when he goes round the corner there’s suddenly motorcar. And then there are some World War I soldiers obviously heading off to war. And then returning (although they have too many limbs if you ask me…)

Yon boy (whose clothes have changed somewhat) turns a corner to find some ruined buildings - yes, you’ve guessed it, he’s now reached World War II. This is followed by a street party and some giggling girls (the 60s?) and then, rather strangely, he wanders between a large group of policemen facing off against a group of strikers. Is that really the best way to depict the 70s? Well, I guess it’s better than him bumping into Slade…

He eventually gets home and is all modern n’ stuff. Great. The point of the advert is that Hovis still make bread the way they used to. Which is blatantly not true. First of all, it’s hard to imagine that it’s baked by hand, otherwise half the country would have to be employed in the process. Even more so, the machines they use now are no doubt faaar more efficient and hygienic than even 20 years ago. Which is a good thing for all concerned as it keeps prices lower.

But the main thing this advert says to me is “British life in the 20th Century was just completely awful and depressing”. If these were our defining moments then I hope we manage something a bit better this century.

The thing is, it’s actually all rather impressive as an advert, and probably is quite affective and effectual for most people. I’m just ye miserable olde cynic.

To learn about the worst of them all, read this here article, which is far more eloquent than I could ever manage. What really gets me is that it’s a pretty good service that shouldn’t be too hard to advertise with just the basic facts. But these are overshadowed by the Hucknell Horror.

However, an extra note on this would be that they have followed Ginger Mick up with… Mel B. It’s got all the same problems as the previous, including a last line spoken by the bearded one himself of “Well, I spiced up her life”. Really? Is that really what you wanted to say? Really? I would have gone with something like “At least all that TV should keep her mind off having Eddie Murphy’s baby.” I’d buy that for a dollar…

Scotland the Great (Britain)

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Well, it’s all over. I am indeed writing on my blog tonight (clearly) but there was no exercise biking whatsoever. Shocking…

While we’re talking about moving about (or not) I guess I should throw in my tuppence about the Olympics. So far, I’m actually rather enjoying the whole thing. I’ve watched some swimming, diving, canoing, gymnastic-swinging-like-a-crazed-monkey, and judo. Which is not bad considering I’ve been asleep or at work while most of it has been going on (and no, I’m not watching it on the sly at work - our computers don’t allow us to have such fun).

It’s slightly annoying that we still seem to be hearing more about London 2012 than we are about Beijing 2008, but that’s the British media for you. The usual issue of Scottish people being British when they win has already raised its head too - David Florence was very much being called Florence of Great Britain today. Fairy nough really, that’s who he’s representing, but sometimes it’s rather irksome.

I actually have a slight problem with the whole national thing with The Games anyway. I can’t help but feel that it should be more about individual achievement rather than glory for your country. But this is probably all tied up with my whole hatred of Nationalism, which stems from studying too much 20th century history. But what with Russia and Georgia slogging it out over the past few days, and the general ill-feeling between China and America, it doesn’t seem very healthy to me to make it about the countries. Make it about the individuals and let them all join together in one big harmonious sporting mélange says I.

Is mélange the word I’m looking for? Never mind, moving on…

You don’t make films for your country (well, usually) or TV programmes. So why sport? You only make music for your country if it’s Eurovision, and that never ends well. Unless you’re ABBA or Cheryl Baker. Which you’re not.

I seem to have lost my thread entirely so I’ll end on a true story: One of my friends emailed me about my tea post yesterday, saying “I think tea drinking should included by [2012] - a true British past time. I could be in your “entourage” and be the guy that carries your tea leaves for you.”

I simply responded that he is more than welcome to be my tea caddy.

All too easy…

Tea for one, and one for tea

Monday, August 11th, 2008

I haven’t got round to writing anything in a while, but I’m back now. I’ve not really been away anywhere, it’s just that life got in the way briefly. Sorry faithful reader (and there is one of you). I won’t let it happen again. To make up for this I’m going to try and post something every night this week. I’m also going to try and use my exercise bike every night this week. Bets are on which will last longer…

Anyhoo, today I’ll tell you about one of my new favourite places, where I’ve been spending my time instead of sitting in front of my computer writing this nonsense.

Ladies and Gentle Ben, I give you Tchai Ovna, a pair of tea shops in Glasgow, although I’ve only been to the one in the West End. They serve over 80 types of tea from around the world (without even making the “Around the World in 80 Teas” joke) and have a fantastically detailed menu that describes not just the flavour, but the history and sometimes the effect, contained within the brew. For example,

It’s a really relaxed atmosphere - the first time I was there they had live citar music. Awesome. The West End branch has a lovely wooden porch out front where people smoke shisha pipes (whatever they are). Look at the website for more…

And they know what they’re doing as well. It’s not just a case of stick in some boiling water - different teas need different receptacles, temperatures, and infusing times.

I bought some as a gift for a friend and the waitress gave me some verbal instruction on how each should be prepared; for example the white tea should be made using water at 70 degrees centigrade. To get the water at this temperature, Tchai Ovna’s method is to boil it, then pour it between 2 Perspex jugs 4 times. That’s science kids.

Now I’m fussy about my tea. Very fussy. And it’s my life-blood. There is no other foodstuff that I would find as difficult to give up; this includes chocolate, meat, alcohol, and cheese (in that order, from easiest to give up to hardest). It’s not just the caffeine (although it is largely to do with it…), there’s a comfort factor about tea that I don’t get from anything else.

However, I’d rather drink instant coffee than suffer a cup of tea bag Typhoo, or overly-stewed Tetley. I use loose leaf tea, both at home and at work; in the former I use a pot and no strainer - I grew up with the leaves at the bottom of my cup. At work I have a wee, screw-top tub thing, with grills round the side that you can use to make single cups (or in my case pint mugs) of leaf tea - I guess you would call it a re-useable teabag if you wanted to address by name. I even have 3 types of leaf in my desk, Assam, Earl Gray, and Lapsang Souchong, which I mix according to my mood.

I’ve got to say at this point that while I’m really fussy about how I have my tea, I’m not snobbish or judgmental about how other people like their cuppa.

That said, I’m rather put off by being offered a “cuppa”, or a “brew”, which is about as snobbish as you get.

As I said earlier, for me, tea is about comfort and familiarity. It’s associated with childhood, home, safety, The Mother’s kitchen table. And therefore I usually try to make my cups of tea similar to what I drank as a kid. It’s a comfort factor. However, after I started sharing flats with folk who grew up in er… not in an Enid Blyton novel, I soon realised that some people preferred a tea bag dunked in hot water a few times to carefully measured, loose leaf tea, slowly infused, lovingly prepared, and poured after the milk.

I could write about this for evermore, but bloomin’ George Orwell beat me too it. Git.

Visit this site to see what he said. I’ll take his point one at a time, but you may want to skip to the end:

  1. Different teas for different purposes says I. See the Tchai Ovna website for more. But I guess the available teas were a bit different in 1946. Apparently there’d been a minor skirmish over the past few years.
  2. It depends what he means by small quantities. I do drink it by the pint, but it’s always a fresh pint…
  3. Almost certainly true, but I never usually bother. I blame my Mum, who never did this either.
  4. Indeed. This is one reason why I like having a pot - I can keep adding to the pot in front of my, so the tea in the cup gets stronger and stronger.
  5. Yup.
  6. Aye min. Apart from the bit about putting flames beneath the kettle (if it’s electric)
  7. Hmm… I don’t generally stir, but once again, The Mother never did this so I don’t.
  8. Does he mean a mug over a wee cup? Not sure, but my pint mugs are normal mug shaped, just bigger.
  9. “Pour the cream off the milk”? What? Get in the now Orwell!  Actually, that said, I would always use semi-skimmed as whole milk does what yer man there says and makes the tea taste funny.
  10. This is tricky. With a pot I go milk first as, given what i said above, you can always add more tea to taste. However, I genuinely notice a difference when the milk is poured onto the tea. I once heard that the Royal Family take the piss (extract one’s urine) from us commoners who add the milk first. But hey - I didn’t vote for them either…
  11. Absolutely Georgie-boy, couldn’t agree more. Once again, I’d rather go without tea than drink it with sugar (for the record, I usually put sugar in coffee…)

Aaaaaanyway, the point I am eventually going to get to is that it is indeed an individual preference. Much like most things in life in fact. It’s about what you grew up with, what is familiar, and what seems natural to you. It’s about what you want to get out of it; be that a caffeine fix, a hot drink, the tranquility of the ritual of making tea, or the feeling that you’re better than everyone else because you do things in a fancy way (I’m guilty of all the above of course, but I’ll only admit to the first 3).

Ultimately, my views on tea are the same as my views on religion - I’m probably not right, but I’m certainly more right than you are.

Neither seen nor heard…

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Hey kids! Do you hate adults? Do you find that they’re too happy and content in their own lives? Then why not try Annoying the Crap out of Them!

Yes, Annoying the Crap out of Them - the new fun game from Wee Shites ™, the company that brought you Life: Ruining it for Everyone Else and Your Parents and How to Break Them.

Annoying the Crap out of Them

is a 2 week course that will teach you all the skills you need to effectively ruin someone’s day. Key skills include screaming for no reason at inappropriate times, randomly hitting things off other things really loudly, and putting strangers off their food.Annoy your friends! Annoy your enemies! Yes, even your parents will find you insufferable when you know how to Annoying the Crap out of Them!


Harsh? Maybe. Fair. Oh yes indeedy. Twice this week I’ve to endure noisy children; once in the cinema and once on a train, and I feel the need to vent my spleen dear reader.

Okay, so maybe the cinema one was partly my fault. I went to see Wall:E on a Sunday afternoon, so there were always going to be loads of kids in there. Standard rule of cinema-going: if you want to avoid the screaming hordes while seeing a film rated lower than 15a, go to a late show.

However, this was worse than usual. I don’t mind a bit of random commentary from the kids - in fact it can be quite funny sometimes. When I went to see Spiderman 3, the moment Thomas Hayden Church appeared on-screen, loads of kids in the cinema said “It’s Sandman!” under their breath (even though at this point he wasn’t - he was just some bloke). They no doubt recognised him from all the merchandising and such like that they had been surrounded by for weeks before the film came out. “I hope he’s as cool as he looks on the side of my trainers/cereal box/mobile phone” they were probably thinking. The adults were probably thinking “Oh, it’s that bloke from Sideways - I hope this is as good.” I’m fairly sure both age groups were sorely disappointed…

Anyway, I will begrudgingly admit that kids have just as much right to be in cinemas as I do (although, they did pay less for their tickets for exactly the same film, same size of seat, same air…) But if they aren’t even going to watch the film then they should get the hell out!

On Sunday there was a family sitting a few seats along from me that consisted of 2 adults and 3 kids: one wee girl (I’d guess she was about 1-ish) didn’t even look at the screen and spent most of the time singing to herself; another slightly older girl seemed to be fairly quiet throughout, but eventually got taken outside by the father as she was crying. Finally, there was a boy of about 4 (at a guess) who said at one point “Mum, I don’t like this!” and later “Mum, I’m bored”. From my point of view the first of these was the worst - she was only 3 seats along from me and pretty much kept up as a secondary soundtrack for the whole film. ARGH! But it seems that the other two were hardly enamored to be there, and surely the parents weren’t enjoying the film either? I would have thought in that situation that at some point the parents would have realised that this was a lost cause and they were just ruining it for everyone else?

As you might have guessed (and hoped) from all this, I don’t have children myself. And yes, it’s easy for me to judge other people with their kids. So easy in fact that I’m going to do it again right now.

I was heading back to Glasgow from Aberdeen earlier in the week, slightly hungover and rather tired. The first hour or so was nice and peaceful, and I dozed away while listening to various things on my iPod. That is until Burt Raccoon woke up… Actually, that is until we got to Dundee.

A mother got on the train with her 2 kids, a boy and a girl of about 6 and 4 respectively (at a complete guess, but they may well have been younger). For a while they seemed to be sitting nicely (ie quietly) and doing, well, something. I didn’t really pay them any attention as I was still in my dreamland, being sung to sleep by Joni Mitchell (or somesuch). The first time I really noticed them was when they all started noisily tucking into various foodstuffs, which may well have contained large amounts of sugar. Or possibly cocaine. Whatever it was, trouble wasn’t far behind.

The first crime was the wee boy playing his Gameboy (DS) without any earphones, with the sound turned up (he was playing a Star Wars game as I could hear the Mos Eisley Cantina music). I myself have often played my own Gameboy (Advance) on trains and am ridiculously paranoid about making sure no one can hear the tinny music coming out of it. My annoyance wasn’t just that he has a DS and I don’t (I bet he has a Wii as well, the git) but the fact that the mother didn’t tell him to turn it down. As it turned out he only played it for about 5 minutes and then got bored…

The two kids started screaming, purely to annoy the mother. She reacted by hissing at them to be quiet, which just made them laugh more and scream all the louder. They then started hitting each other, and not just little play fighting, but what looked like full-on beatings. What was Super-Mum’s great way to handle this? By hitting them. Mmm… healthy rolemodels…

The kids didn’t really seem to care about this very much, and reacted against it by playing-up even more. This included more screaming, banging various things off the table and running up and down the aisle. The mother did some more hitting, shouting, and general exceptional parenting. This went on for about 45 minutes I reckon until we finally arrived back in the Weeg.

So let’s pass some judgement here. I guess in both stories it’s clearly the parents who were mostly at fault, and if I wasn’t such a coward then perhaps I would have said something in the cinema. I don’t think there was anything constructive I could have done on the train, and hey - they might all have turned on me (like I say, I’m a coward).

Still, especially in regard to the two on the train, let’s not go too easy on the little ones. While there is something to be said for nature and nurture, there’s also something to be said for just being a wee shite.

Rant over. Next week - why kittens and puppies should all fuck off and die.

Funny how?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

People of Britain, heed my warning! I’ve just had the misfortune of watching some of the worst TV comedy I’ve ever experienced. In fact, 2 of the worst TV comedies I’ve ever experienced. Not since that ITV sitcom, you know the one, it was on ITV and it was shite - yeah, that one - have I seen such horrifically base, uninspired, insipid, and all-round easy comedy.

The programmes in question were Since You’ve Been Gone - a Nicolas Lyndhurst vehicle in which is in its second series somehow - and Lab Rats - a new offering from BBC2. Both are “traditional” sitcoms; filmed on a set, with an audience (or at least a laughter track) and, well, a situation.

Come with me now reader as we travel back to those fateful meetings where these abortions of common taste were conceived…


[In a boardroom somewhere in London. Some Suits sit round a table]

“Right, the BBC want something new, something funny, yet something safe; different, but still appealing to a traditional BBC audience.”

“Great! Let’s make another series of My Family.”

“We are making another series of My Family. No, this has to be different. Fresh. Innovative”

“Hmmm… well, how about instead of a normal family… we do a sitcom with an dysfunctional family.”

“Yeah, like The Simpsons?”

“No no no, a weird family.”

“Yeah, like the Munsters? Or the Addams Family?”

“No, I mean, an abnormal family structure. A family that, and I realise this is a bit out there, a family that isn’t made up from a mother and father and 2 or 3 children!!!”

[A shocked silence follows...]

“You mean, there’s something odd about the family? Maybe… they’re aliens!”


“Yeah, like Third Rock from the Sun.”

“Oh. How about… 2 mums living together?”

“Yeah, like Birds of a Feather? Or 80’s US sitcom Kate and Allie?”

“Oh. Then how about… there are 2 dads living together?

“Yeah, like in 80s US sitcom My Two Dads?”

“Right, so how about one dad looking after his kids on his own?”

“Yeah, like 90s US sitcom Blossom?”

“Sure, why not. We just need something extra… a foil for the dad to bounce off…”

“His wife?”

“Interesting, but I think that’s what we started with.”

“Hmmm… how about… his wife’s mother?”

“His mother-in-law? Brilliant! We’ve got it! With the mother-in-law, the dad, and the kids there could be all sorts of humourous misunderstanding due to the generation gap. Genius! That surely hasn’t been done before?”

“Right, we’ve only got 3 minutes before our next meeting, so let’s finish this off. The main guy is an everyman to appeal to the masses, we’ll get in Nick Lyndhurst or someone. But should we make his mother-in-law nice too?”

“Hey! I’ve got a great idea - let’s make her all stuck up and snooty. That would be hilarious!

“Great! And 2 kids, a boy and a girl for balance. Let’s make him wise-cracking and a bit geeky, and her a bit moany and slutty.”

“er… isn’t that the same as My Family again?”

“Yeah, but on one will notice as they’ll be too busy laughing at all the mother-in-law jokes. Wow… I really can’t believe that no one’s thought of this before…”


[It's now 2 minutes later. The same group of Suits are sitting round a different table...]

“Right, BBC2 are looking for a new sitcom. Any ideas?”

“Well, BBC2 viewers like things that are smart, but weird…”

“How about scientist geek types? They’re smart but weird?”

“Yeah, like in The IT Crowd or The Big Bang Theory?”

“Yes. Like in them. But it’s lunchtime now so it will have to do…”

Beetle bums

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Recently my flat seems to have been invaded by a small number of beetle-like creatures. Now, I’m not a big bug fan and I have a strange subconscious pecking order of fear built into my psyche. From least to most scary this roughly goes:

beetles, earwigs, and other ground-based wee insects,
daddy long legs (crane-flies)
bees and wasps,
butterflies and moths,
bigger spiders,
Aragog and Shelob having a “who can catch The Bob” contest.

There are perhaps a few things of note here. Flies don’t bother me at all; in fact, in a previous flat one of the rooms became infested with flies for a few weeks (it was actually my flatmates bedroom - not sure what she had hidden under the floorboards…) I didn’t find it disturbing in the slightest and my only worry was that all that free food might attract an entire legion of spiders. However, I am aware that flies carry many diseases, and generally don’t bode well for your general hygiene (seriously, what had she been doing in there?) But flies disturb me not.

Now Daddy Longlegs are surely just giant flying spiders, and that should be my worst nightmare (apart from the 50 foot tall Pat Butcher, eating everything in her path - but that’s another story…) But for some reason they don’t faze me in the slightest. Is it merely the number of legs? I’m I really afraid of those 2 extra arachnoid appendages? I think not.

Some, though not all, will be surprised to see butterflies and moths ahead of bees and wasps. Yes the latter pairing can sting you and it hurts like buggeration, but there’s something truly gross about moths and butterflies flapping in your face that really gets to me. Of course, butterflies get a good press purely because they are well dressed compared to most of the animal kingdom, but really they’re just moths with more money.

I won’t go into the whole spider thing for now as I’m sure it will come up again, but let’s just say that some of the most pathetic moments of my life have been caused by trying to dispose of, hiding from, or just generally worrying about spiders. For now all I’ll say is that even thinking about them gives my feet a cold sweat…

Anyhoo, I was talking beetles. I think I’ve made my point that I’m not particularly worried about beetles loitering around my bathroom if that’s where they really want to be. However, in the last few days they seem to be getting bigger and more frequent so I’ve taken to do the unnecessary thing of picking them up in a bit of bog (bug?) roll and flushing the poor bastards.

Not only is this unnecessary, but it’s given me a strange guilt. A quick check of Wikipedia tells me that estimates “put the total number of species [of beetles], described and undescribed, at between 5 and 8 million”. So who’s to know that what I’m flushing isn’t some very rare species, the weegius irnbrutus perhaps, with some amazing hang-over curing properties or some such. In fact, although I’ve not exactly studied them I’m pretty sure there are a few types kicking about; so who can say what effect I’m having on the ecosystem?

On the other hand, they’re on my land and I want rid of ‘em. Wikipedia also tells me that beetles, according to recent research, “may have entered the fossil record during the Lower Permian, about 265 to 300 million years ago.” So I reckon they’ll survive my wrath.

Two notes of interest: I didn’t like to mention it, but a couple of these beasties may well have been cockroaches. I blame my cleaner for not working hard enough…

I would also like to say how proud I am of making it through this entire post without making a single reference to the Fab Four. You don’t know how much effort it took.

Summertime (and the living is sleezy)

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Bloomin’ ‘eck - I can’t believe it’s July already! So much so that the last sentence originally read “I can’t believe it’s June already” until I realised I that wasn’t quite right.

So it’s definitely Summertime. While summer brings certain images to mind, invariably involving hot weather, this really isn’t the accurate anymore. It’s been raining in Glasgow for about a week (stopping only, for the sake of irony, during the “Rain Down” bit in Paranoid Android on Friday night) although I guess it always rains at this time of year. If both Wimbledon and Glastonbury are on at the same time, it has to rain. It’s tradition, or an old charter, or something.

Anyhoo, for me Summertime isn’t about the weather, it’s about the following:

Nothing good on TV. This happens for a couple of reasons; first of all, most of the quality America shows that run for 22/24 episodes per season start in January, and thus finish in May or June, until this year when the Writers’ Strike screwed things up even more. Equally, Dr Who finishes on Saturday (but more on that later…)

The second reason is the return of Big Brother - thus ultimately means that there is very little on C4 or E4 apart from repeats and spin-off shows. I must confess that I used to love Big Brother and watch it avidly, but I now find (and I’m sure you all think it too) that the people on it are such horrific examples of our nation/species/planet that it makes me want to become a Siberian yak from Mars. (hey… that’s not a bad idea for a cartoon…)

So summer means that you can’t even rely on the endless repeats of Friends or Scrubs when you’ve got nothing else to watch.
Putting on weight. I won’t ramble on about my weight loss (a few years ago now I lost 4 stone) but I now am fairly careful about what I eat. However, I find that I tend to put more on over the summer than at any other time (well, maybe not the week or so after Christmas when I can raid my mum’s fridge). I think this is caused by a mixture of it being too hot to exercise (what a great excuse) and I probably drink more. And I’m really greedy.

Thinking every day for a month: wow, I can’t believe how light it is at… I guess I’m a bit late with this one now as Midsummer has past, but I am just as guilty as lots of other people for making the completely banal comment above. Yes, it’s 11 in the evening and it’s not completely dark. Wow, that’s not happened every year previously. Come back here in October and I’ll no doubt be saying how much it annoys me when people say “I can’t believe how dark it is in the evenings”. We’ve all been on Earth for a few years now, and we should really be used to this phenomena by now.

Feeling even more guilty than usual about not leaving the house.
It’s alright when it’s cold outside, but on a beautiful summers evening I do feel bad that I’m stuck in front of my computer/TV instead of being outside interacting with real people. Oops.

Watching sport
. Most people (ie those who follow club football) are probably less interested in summer sports, but I seem to watch far more of it. First of all Euro 2008 was good (see previously on The Bob…), I’ve been following the tennis (especially via the wonders of the live text commentary on the BBC website) and I might, bizarrely for a Scottish person (who is able to change the channel or leave the room at any time), watch some cricket. I’ll also no doubt see bits of the Olympics, but that would be pushing it.

Hot girls. Now I don’t want to sound like a perve (although I fear it’s too late) but there just seem to be more attractive women about when the sun is shining. I realise this is partly because it means that they are wearing less, but let’s face it there are plenty of women around who should definitely wear more than they do. And even more men ( I don’t care how hot it gets, I’m never going to wander the streets with no top on…) But there really do seem to be more hotties per square mile than usual. Rather depressing actually…

So, my fine reader (and yes, there’s only one of you) what does Summertime mean to you?