Mollie Sugden’s Penis Extension

July 2nd, 2009

No, I’m not going to write any kind of glowing review. She wasn’t exactly a versatile or even charming actress. But she was mildly funny in a 1970s double entendre way.

She has died at age 86. Who knew she was still alive?

The one thing I remember was a few years ago… She was prosecuted for speeding in her Porsche. Yes. Her Porsche. Now while I’m hardly going to condone dangerous driving, I just love the juxtaposition. Go Old Lady, Go.

Right, who’s next in the dead pool? Margaret Thatcher, Stephen Hawking?

Multicultural food?

May 6th, 2009

I used to have a small chuckle passing a place in Glasgow called “Murphy’s Pakora Bar”. Wonderful. Food has always been at the forefront of multiculturalism: people like trying different foods, in new contexts.

Curries were accepted into British society far more quickly and readily than brown skinned bus drivers or doctors.

And we’ve always been happy to experiment with pizzas for example… Hawaiian Pizza?

So, now I’ve spotted there’s an “Indian Tapas” restaurant.

And it doesn’t even sound wrong any more, does it? In fact it’s quite appealling I think. Reminds me of… now, was it George’s father in “Seinfeld” who wished he could have a meal made just of starters [and reprised in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" perhaps?]

How big a house do you need?

May 4th, 2009

OK, let’s talk fantasy. Money no object, that sort of thing. You’d love a huge big house, a stately home, banquetting halls and enormous curved staircases, acres of beautiful well-tended gardens to wander in…

apethorpe hall

Apethorpe Hall

English Heritage is currently trying to sell Apethorpe Hall (there was a telly programme about it) – and they’re only asking for £4million. I say “only” because this is an utterly huge house, worth far far more than this.

Tempting, eh? (well, no of course not – who has that sort of money these days?) And of course the low price reflects the amount of renovation work necessary to make it inhabitable.

If you want to put in an offer, or simply look at more pictures, the estate agent is Smiths Gore.

I remember reading about Tony Banks (keyboard player in Genesis) and his 400 room house; can’t find any reference to this now, so maybe it was someone else. Anyway, my point remains. Four hundred rooms: what do you do with a house that size?

Sure you could hold enormous parties, and invite everyone you’d ever known to come and stay but, realistically, how often would you do that? Isn’t it the case that you’d hardly ever see most of the rooms? It would be a waste.

Aaron Spelling is infamous for having a gift wrapping room in his mansion.

The idea is genuinely appealling… the concept of having a music room, say, or a games room. A proper wine cellar. Or a specialised cinema. Or a crafts room where the soldering iron and glue and beads and sewing machine are always ready and available, never stashed in the loft or needing lifted off the top of the wardrobe. And wouldn’t it be convenient to have a room with a big available surface and cutters and ribbons and supplies of paper and tags and sellotape on dispenser rolls? A room to do a really good job of wrapping, instead of a rushed job with scissors on your knee and scraps of sticky tape stuck on the edge of the table.

And yet, there’s something a bit sterile and inhuman about this. Isn’t there something even more appealling about using the kitchen table? Moving the paint pots and kids’ homework aside to have dinner. A room where parent can cook while the drawings are being made. I knew some people who had a piano in the kitchen, a battered piano – but not unloved – with candlewax on it, paint, coffee rings and towel hooks screwed in the sides. And there was a tremendous atmosphere as someone did piano practise while Mum peeled potatoes and another child wrote in a jotter. Homely!

And I like going to the park on those sunny days where every bit of grass is filled with people: people having picnics, reading books, chatting, playing chess, sunbathing, doing Tai Chi… Wandering around your very own land would be an empty – and a bit spooky – experience. (Quite apart from wanting to spread the cost by sharing our park/garden spaces!)

This is why i like living in a city (and am not tempted by country life) : there’s people all around. It’s lively. You feel like part of something.

Why is sharing seen as such a Bad Thing? It seems odd to aspire to loneliness…

Countryside Code Animation

May 1st, 2009

This is fun: an Aardman animation to promote the country code.

Download it from here.

From the government’s countryside access site.

(Look out for that seagull with the carrier bag!)

Swine flu: now we blame the animals…

April 29th, 2009

Can’t work out whether to be terrified by the latest disease apparently sweeping the planet. Gordon Brown is going to write to us all this week, apparently. And there’s alarming suggestions by the WHO that “up to” 40% people will “be affected”. Is it all just hype and media excitement?

It strikes me that these pandemics used to be called things like Russian flu, Asian flu, Spanish flu, Hong Kong flu. But in these more enlightened times, would it seem racist to classify them by Where They Came From, is that the problem? So now we call these diseases Bird flu, Swine flu… Yeah, blame the animals, they won’t get offended!

Wee Planets

April 26th, 2009

I love these.

Seems to be quite a craze for them on flickr.

Info on how to do it here:

Or here:

I am working on one of Llandudno beach at the moment… once I settle on some decent stitching software.I think these would make great record covers!

Clive Anderson on class

April 22nd, 2009

Some years ago, I knew some Americans who came to live here. Not knowing anything about how to find a place to stay in Glasgow, they’d accepted whatever the agency sent them. They were overjoyed to find out they’d be living on an estate! …the Queen lives on an estate, doesn’t she? When it turned out to be a housing estate in the east end of Glasgow, they were less pleased.

Clive Anderson came up with a great quote in his “Chat Room” radio programme last week.

“The upper classes tend to be similar to the lower classes. There’s a sort of established theory… They gamble a lot, they drink a lot, they smash up things, they have lots of children, they marry young, they live on estates, they have guns.”

Excellent! So true…

This was in the context of a serious discussion about David Attenborough’s support of the Stop At Two campaign for population control. For more info:

RIP J G Ballard, author of “The Atrocity Exhibition”

April 19th, 2009

J G Ballard was 78 and had apparently been in poor health for some time. He died today.

I’ve never read “Empire of The Sun” nor ever been particularly attracted to it. But his early writing is outstanding. I’m particularly fond of “The Atrocity Exhibition” (a book I discovered by being a fan of Joy Division and wondering where they got that title from), “Crash” (which is far far more interesting and stimulating than the dreadful film which totally missed the point!), “Myths of the Near Future“, “Concrete Island”…

I liked his experimental styles, his brashness, his willingness to mix current affairs topics with speculative futures, the psychological themes and pushing the forms of fiction. A big influence on Jeff Noon and Will Self, I’d suggest.

So I’m off to reread some favourite stories from “Myths of the Near Future“.

Buy them from amazon: The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated (Flamingo Modern Classics), Myths of the Near Future, Crash

Jumpcut bites the dust

April 19th, 2009

I loved this bit of software:

Online video editing. Fab, though I never made as much use of it as I’d intended…

And now it’s going to shut down. Ho hum.

RIP Clement Freud

April 19th, 2009

Ah… another one bites the dust. One less of those Grand Old Men of British Radio: the lovable lively eccentrics.

In recent years, we’ve lost : John Peel, Ned Sherrin, Humphrey Lyttelton…

Is it too much to hope Nicholas Parsons keeps in good health for a bit longer?

So, for those who don’t know: Clement Freud was grandson of Sigmund, brother of Lucien, a renowned cook, a Liberal MP and radio broadcaster.

I knew him mainly for his droll dry wit on “Just A Minute” – a programme that appeals to me for its combination of Silliness and Pedantry. But apparently I was – as a very young child – present at a cookery demonstration of his and heckled in a very loud voice “Why is that man burning sausages?” To which he returned a hard stare.

One other thing to mention. According to popbitch, he was spotted at a Sonic Youth gig. No idea if this was corroborated, but I like to believe it’s true.