Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stella Street lives on

You may well remember the ingenious late 90s comedy Stella Street, in which John Sessions and Phil Cornwell created an imaginary suburban road that was populated solely by stars of stage and screen. If memory serves me correct, it was in Surbiton - also the setting for 70s eco-com The Good Life.

Anyway, thoughts of Stella Street came to mind when I heard about a demo to protest against the downgrading of a hospital in Chichester. Among the protesters was none other than Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who banged his head falling out of a tree in Fiji last year. I guess his attendance was the thing that made the protest newsworthy, but it was the detail of the story that actually made it funny. The aged rocker was joined by none other than Christopher Timothy, who famously starred as James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small. And according to the International Herald Tribune (http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/10/27/arts/EU-A-E-CEL-Britain-Rolling-Stones.php), even Patricia Routledge put in an appearance. I can picture it now. "The Bucket residence. Lady of the house defending the NHS..."

As fans of Stella Street will testify, all we needed was Jimmy Hill to turn up with a placard. And Jack Nicholson to nip down to the local Tesco and pick up some refreshments for the angry crowd.

It's all becoming clear

Have you seen that Dyson ad where they drop the vacuum cleaner from a great height as part of their testing process? No wonder my one doesn't work properly.

Just as well the Lib Dems have changed their leader

News arrives of the world's oldest living creature (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7066389.stm). He is a mollusc who was around in the time of Elizabeth I and he rejoices in the name of Ming. If this story had surfaced at the Lib Dem conference a few weeks ago, I suspect the sketch writers would have had a field day.

Didn't the ancient marine oddity have a play written about him during his early childhood?

It was called Clamlet.

Ok, I'll get my coat.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The tension mounts

Bank branches are useful. They are convenient. They may even be friendly, clean and attractive. They are never - repeat never - exciting. That's why I'm awaiting this new HSBC in Kingston, south London, with such eager anticipation.

Good 'eavens, it's Evan Evans

So good they named them twice. Evan Evans on tour in Vauxhall, south London. Snapped with my trusty Nokia 6300.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What's their game?

The spooks at GCHQ are apparently advertising for new recruits in gaming environments such as Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent (http://media.guardian.co.uk/advertising/story/0,,2193224,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=4).

I can just imagine the calibre of applicant that's likely to emerge.

As Russian bombers approach British airspace once again and al-qaeda 'chatter' buzzes via satellite phone from Pakistan, there will be an office full of people in Cheltenham who are too busy to notice. They'll be checking out the latest edition of Quake Wars and discussing whether Chuck Norris really did make an appearance with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon.

Is there anything on Dave, Dave?

My Virgin Media cable package now includes a channel called Dave + 1. This is surely post-modern branding taken to a new extreme and I do worry about where it's all going to lead.

"I'm sick of Dave. It's just repeats of Top Gear and QI. Couldn't we see if there's something on Chris? Or maybe try John + 1?"

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Some mistake, Shirley?

While I'm quite an admirer of former Labour Cabinet Minister Shirley Williams, the 66-year-old Liberal Democrat's take on the demise of Menzies Campbell is a tad naive.

"It is quite extraordinary to me," she said yesterday. "Churchill was far older than Menzies. Nobody complained about his age in those days, but they would now."

But can we really compare Ming to Churchill?

One was a bright lawyer and Olympic athlete from Glasgow, who built a fairly ordinary political career for himself. The other won the Second World War.

Shirley is the same age as Menzies, but would actually make a far more credible political leader. So dare I suggest that age doesn't have much to do with the price of tomatoes?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Warm and fat

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has warned that obesity may prove to be as big a crisis as climate change (see http://uk.news.yahoo.com/rtrs/20071014/tuk-uk-britain-obesity-fa6b408_2.html). I'm not entirely convinced by his line of reasoning, but I'm sure that obesity could make climate change worse. If we have more obese people, we won't be able to fit the same numbers of passengers in planes and this may lead to more flights and greater CO2 emissions. Also, there will more food in fridges, necessitating increased use of electricity.

On the other hand, if people find it difficult to squeeze into cars, we may find that our roads are less congested. So perhaps obesity is good for the environment? It's all so confusing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

20mg of polydimethyl siloxaine, twice a day

When you clear out your house, it's amazing the things you turn up. I genuinely have no idea about the origins of this photo. I don't have a wedding ring on, which means it's pre-1998, but beyond that, I'm at a complete loss. There are two possible explanations. One is that it was something to do with an ad campaign or concept that I'd helped to create. The other is that I worked for a few years as a junior doctor, but decided I wasn't cut out for medicine. As a result of the trauma of quitting my registrar's post, I suffered severe amnesia and now can't remember anything about it.

I look pretty severe, don't I? What happened to bedside manner?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I knew I'd find it somewhere

Washed and Ready to Eat's Phil Woodford with UK premier Gordon Brown, sometime in the mid 1990s. "In about twelve years, you'll be the Prime Minister," I said, with remarkable foresight. Or something like that. My memory's a bit hazy on the detail, but I'm sure we had a good chinwag.

Clearing out the garage at Woodford Towers in advance of our impending move, I found a long-lost picture of a youthful Phil with none other than Gordon Brown. That is not me with a mullet. It's a shadow, as the picture was taken against a white backdrop. If you look carefully, it's the same with Gordon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Son of a b***h!

It's good news that the Judge in Kiefer Sutherland's recent drink-driving case understood the importance of the hit show 24. The 40-year-old Canadian actor's prison sentence is to be served at times that don't disrupt the production schedule of Day Seven(http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iVM98BW0ewK4rdnGZHf9Ss8iTKIwD8S63KF82).

Of course, if the unfortunate Sutherland did find himself confined at a time when he should be on set, he'd no doubt be able to take inspiration from his character, Federal Agent Jack Bauer of the CTU.

The Corrections Department official arrives with Sutherland's daily meal. But where's the prisoner? In a panic, the guard starts to search the cell, when suddenly he's jumped from behind. Two seconds later, the fugitive is free and using his carefully charged cell phone.

"Chloe, get me the co-ordinates for the lot at 20th Century Fox. Goddammit! I gotta be in make-up in twenty minutes!"

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Under the influence

How many influential people can there be in a city like London? If you'd asked me before yesterday, I'd have said about half a dozen tops. But having attended a posh do at the Design Museum hosted by the Evening Standard, I now understand the number to be 1,000 and the list to include luminaries such as metabolic detox guru Nish Joshi and aged revolutionary Vanessa Redgrave.

Smuggled into the event by an influential friend, I was served bubbly and salted asparagus tips and was able to shake hands with Tory mayoral hopeful Boris Johnson, who had a couple of minders in attendance in case he encountered any Liverpudlian gatecrashers. The museum was full of folk who would, under normal circumstances, be waiting in the Newsnight green room. Columnist Melanie Philips, for instance. Michael White of The Guardian. And that bleeding-heart lady from Liberty who thinks we've got a bit too tough in the war on terror.

The attendance of former Tory cabinet minister Peter Lilley suggests that the timescales for influence are somewhat fluid. I think he was indeed influential, but it was for a short period during 1993.

For some strange reason, I haven't yet been able to locate myself in the glossy brochure that was handed out to accompany the launch. Perhaps there's been an administrative oversight? I'll have another flick at lunch.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The election that never was

Oh dear.

David "Memory Man" Cameron 1-0 Gordon "Feartie" Brown

And it was an own goal. Cameron, although capable of stringing together some decent moves, wasn't able to put the ball in the back of the net. He needed wee Gordon to assist him.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Neigh, neigh and thrice neigh

If you click to enlarge this picture, you'll see that horses are quite fussy about their water these days. But not so fussy about the convoluted advertising campaigns that are used to promote it.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I'll do it tomorrow

Don't put off to tomorrow what you can do today. That's the message from a recent disciplinary hearing in which a solicitor was fined for sitting on a piece of work for ten years. The full details are here in The Times: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2547596.ece

I've just taken a call from my lawyer about a property sale. Unfortunately, it's confirming completion on a flat I sold in Finsbury Park in 1998.

Memory man won't be remembered

I sat through a fair bit of Diddy David Cameron's speech to the Conservative Party Conference yesterday afternoon.

It was a strange affair.

He'd memorised an hour's worth of material and delivered without autocue, but made a deliberate point of telling us at the outset that this is what he intended to do. Forget Iain Duncan-Smith's "Quiet Man". Here was the Memory Man in action. I half expected him to recite the telephone number of each member of the audience.

Trouble is, Dave, people don't actually care that you can remember your lines. They just look at you and think you won't be a patch on Gordon Brown if we find ourselves in a spot of bother. Like floods. Or terror attacks. Or Foot and Mouth. Or Bluetongue. Or runs on banks.

One nice touch in the speech was a reference to facebook, which signalled the toff from Notting Hill to be an ubercool man of the people. Dave claimed to have found a group on the social networking site that celebrated his "hottie" status. This is further evidence that facebook must be banned from all workplaces at the earliest possible opportunity, as it's clearly having a detrimental effect on people's brains.

Gordon Brown didn't mention facebook in his speech to the Labour Party Conference. But I guess people who are actually credible as Prime Ministers probably don't spend too much time poking their mates and writing on other people's walls.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Even brain surgery's not brain surgery any more

Britain's youngest female brain surgeon has pioneered a new technique that allows patients to go home on the day of their operation (see http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23414577-details/Have+brain+surgery+and+be+home+for+tea/article.do). What next? Building spaceships out of an Ikea flatpack? Just follow the instructions. It's not rocket science.

Reality TV latest

Coming soon to Living TV is a show called Dirty Cows, starring Tara Palmer Tomkinson. The attractive socialite is apparently going to help "Britain's most eligible - and handsome - young farmer" choose a potential mate from a gaggle of city girls. They'll be put through their paces on the farm, of course. Mucking out stables, milking cows and pinning up Bluetongue warning notices. The process will allow the sexy young Barleymow to get a feel for each lady's strengths.

Excuse me while I go out and shoot myself in both kneecaps with an abattoir stun gun.