Archive for May, 2012


Sunday, May 27th, 2012

No sooner do I produce a blog about why I didn’t vote on BGT, than I’m now whacking one out about voting on Eurovision.

For my readers across t’pond who may not have experienced this annual phenomenon, it’s a song contest where the nations of Europe (and nowadays the former Soviet Union states, plus a few hangers-on) compete to produce the tackiest song: the “top” 26, as voted for in an excruciating series of semi-finals, get to occupy four and a half hours of prime time television across the continent, and then all nations (including those that didn’t make it to the final) take part in an arcane voting process where the more political nations vote for their friends and a few vote for what they thought was the best song. Although this year had an interesting twist – the national broadcaster of the winning nation has to pay to host next year’s spectacular, so in the current austere times there were a few nations doing their best NOT to win.

Anyway, this year’s feast of tat included Jedward singing for Ireland, Englebert Humperdinck for the United Kingdom, camp acts from a dozen nations (nothing wrong with camp, it’s a Eurovision standard), and some singing grannies from Russia who sang “Everybody dance, it’s a party for everyone” while baking buns on stage, and who, if they won, were going to give the prize money to save their church.

The maddest dance act of the night (and really the only dance act that lived up to the Eurovision norm) came from Moldova, and the campest was a Village People-esque group of Turkish sailors in capes.

Anyway, we couldn’t decide who to vote for, so as there were three of us – and it was only fifteen pees a go – we had three votes, one each for the grannies – because we thought they were fun; Moldova – because we wanted to see that dance act one more time, and Turkey – for more or less the same reason. In the end it didn’t make much difference, but it was exciting for a while!

And for no better reason than I can, here are those Moldovans…

The Grannies (not sure why, but the audio on this clip makes them sound a lot worse than they did on the night)…

And the Turks.

Dog Blog

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Unless you’ve been living down a hole in the ground – or restricting yourself to quality TV and ignoring all news sources – you must have noticed by now that Britain’s Got Talent (except for grammar, it would seem) has been won by a performing dog.

I’ve nothing against performing pooches as such – they offer better entertainment than impressionists or televised snooker, although only just – but Saturday night’s final of the series had at least three acts that would’ve been more worthy winners. In fact, only the uncoordinated gyrations of dance troupe NuSkool deserved the title less.

The unexpected result of Pudsey Pooch’s victory over acts that were clearly more talented and more entertaining is that I feel a bit guilty: I’ve never voted in BGT or any of its clones, but I have an uncomfortable feeling that Welsh choir Only Boys Aloud and opera singers Jonathan and Charlotte would have had a huge following among people just like me, who sat through the final just to see the two “class acts”, but would never have considered swelling Simon Cowell’s bank account by phoning in to vote. And in just the same way that sensible voters staying away led to the BNP getting seats in Europe, so our inaction has led to the two best acts to come out of the whole history of BGT taking second and third places to a dancing dog.

In a comment on someone else’s Facebook post on Sunday morning I said “The really scary thing is that the same people who vote on BGT are allowed to vote in elections”, but I really think the guilty ones here aren’t the BGT voters, it’s those of us who didn’t vote. And there’s a moral there for future political elections.

St Pancras

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

I mentioned in a recent post on The Facebook, “I truly loathe St Pancras railway station”

I know St Panc is a Marmite thing – you either love or hate it – and I suppose it all depends on what you look for in a railway station. When I pass through, I’m not looking for a ten-course fine dining experience or the chance to buy French groceries, and I’m certainly not in the market for tacky souvenirs of a tacky sports event that hasn’t happened yet, and I (and most Londoners) will be keeping clear of when it does.

When I’m on a railway station, the most I want to buy is a bacon roll and maybe a newspaper – but what I really want, and would gladly sacrifice the chance to buy anything for, is to be able to get from the station entrance (and in London, the Underground terminal) to the train as quickly as possible, with the minimum fuss. Whoever designed the refurbished StP was so fixated on making it a major experience that the only way to fit in all the shops and overpriced eateries was to put the platforms so far from the station access that by the time you get on the train, you’ve already walked halfway to where you were going.

Incidentally, you can get a decent bacon roll at St Panc, from the Camden Food Company by the upstairs platforms. Just don’t be in a hurry.

If the designers of this commuters’ nightmare want some ideas for what a railway station eatery should look like, they need to go back in time and visit Kings Cross before the recent “improvements”. They’ll find a lovely old inn called the Duke of Wellington, with reasonably priced food and free wi-fi…all gone now, of course, in the need for modernisation.

But my favourite railway station food place is the sushi bar at Paddington. Not for the food, although I do like sushi, but for the statue of Paddington Bear in the middle. Of course the fact that the statue is also a virtual geocache helps!

Loose End, and a Problem

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

One loose end that I forgot to mention after our Florrie Holly…and a valuable lesson for anyone coming home from temperatures in the high eighties…is that arriving at Gatwick at half past six on a Saturday morning in April, dressed in only T-shirt and shorts, probably isn’t a good idea.

That totally aside, I’ve spent the bank holiday weekend at the ancestral home of the family of Purple Fred (whom I love very much). Soon after we arrived, we were scanning the local paper for exciting “What’s On” items, and as well as a murder mystery play showing at a local theatre, we spotted an ad for the local MP’s constituency surgery. “Come and meet your local MP”, it announced, “and discuss your problems with him”. Now I don’t know what your instinctive reaction is, to an invitation like that, but I’ve always wanted to go along to one, and when he asks me what’s troubling me, say something like “My car misfires at about fifteen hundred revs, but when I take it to the garage they can’t find anything wrong”.

On this occasion we didn’t go to the MP’s surgery, but we did go to the theatre, where the murder mystery was jolly entertaining, and PF(WILVM) guessed the right murderer but the wrong reason, and I guessed the wrong murderer but the right reason – so neither of us won the bottle of wine. And then PF(WILVM) engaged the playwright in conversation, and came away with a catalogue of his plays available for other companies to perform.

The rest of the weekend was pretty good, too.

Oh, and if anyone has any ideas about my misfire I’d be pleased to hear them. It’s a Jeep diesel engine in pretty good nick, and the misfire around fifteen hundred is intermittent, and goes away completely above eighteen hundred revs.