2.031 Bad Plannering

There are many problems in the world at the moment. Recessions, collapsing economies, war, murder. You know, that kind of thing. But there’s something worse than that. Something far, far worse.

Getting down to less than 10% on the Sky Planner.

If you ask us, we’ll tell you that we don’t watch that much. There’s very little that we watch. We will tell you that. We would basically lie to your faces.

I could throw out a list of things that we watch. It would be massive. It would include things like New Girl, NCIS, Modern Family, Suits, Harry’s Law, Rizzolli and Isles and Castle. That’s not the complete list, that’s just the first few things I could think of. There’s more. A lot more.

We probably watch, in fact, more things than there is time to watch in our lifetimes. And if that wasn’t enough, we’ve now got into things like Mud Men, Pawn Stars and Storage Wars because I, accidentally, ventured past the Discovery Channel – normally the threshold of our channel selections (apart from the cartoons, and the radio stations) – and found a marathon of Storage Wars. A whole day dedicated to shows about four people buying storage lockers full of stuff. That’s all it is. But it’s strangely addictive. As is Pawn Stars. And then that has a spin-off series, focusing on the guy who does the restorations. And don’t even get me started on American Pickers. Or the fact that we now seem to be addicted to the Great British Bake Off as well – although at least that’s not on, so we do get some respite.

This weekend, as we stared at the diminishing digits highlighting our available space, we took drastic action. We deleted things. Things we had watched some off, recorded the whole series of and decided that – because it had been cancelled in the US – we weren’t that bothered for. We had to get ruthless. We had to clear some space and it was the best way to do it. So we did. And now it’s gone. If it’s ever shown again we’ll probably watch it, but until then it’s gone.

And then we started watching the earliest thing remaining in the planner.

It was an episode of The Defenders (yes, I know it’s been cancelled in the US and should have been deleted but it’s really quite entertaining). It was a good episode. Full of laughs and drama. It was very enjoyable.

As I fast-forwarded through the adverts, however, my eyes fell across one that scared me. Not because of the content but because of the age.

It was from June.

I assume it was June last year. It’s hard to tell. I’m basing that on the fact that I’m fairly sure the Defenders was on last year.

Well, I say fairly sure. I’m a percentage sure that’s slightly larger than the available space in our planner.


2.030 Thunderbirds Are Go

On Friday, once we’d made it in after the train of fear, I stayed up for a little bit. I thought I’d just have a sit down, read a bit more of my book and then go to sleep. Unfortunately, I put the TV on and flicked through the channels. And I stumbled across Sky Family. And Thunderbirds. The movie, that is. Not the puppet-based series.

I went to see the film, when it first came out, in the cinema next to the Reading Football Ground (don’t ask me anymore than that – it’s football, I’ll draw a blank). It was a very strange complex – it may not even still be there. In fact, judging by the fact that whenever I visited there it was always next to empty, I’d be surprised if it is still in business. I love Thunderbirds – it captured my imagination when I was a kid, and again during it’s surge in popularity in the 90s. I drew the line at building myself a Tracy Island out of shoe boxes and  papier mache. Even now, if I happen to stumbled across it on a satellite channel I’ll stop and watch it – despite the fact that I’ve seen the episodes so many times. So when we went to see the film I was really looking forward to it. Not as much as the group of people sitting in front of us who – when the theme music started – began to dance like loons but I was definitely all over it like Ryan Giggs at a Big Brother Eviction Night.

I enjoyed the film. I enjoyed the little nods to the source material. I enjoyed the occasional puppet appearance – the hands on the controls having marionette wires, Brains – while under the Hood’s control – walking like a puppet, that kind of thing. And I enjoyed it again, in the wee small hours of Saturday morning. Evidenced by the fact that I watched it all the way to the end.

And that’s when I discovered that Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical is in it. Someone told me she’s in High School Musical, obviously, as I am a boy and would not have watched High School Musical or the two sequels. And definitely not more than once. Obviously. I spent a good portion of the time watching the film on Friday night thinking “I know that face. I know her from somewhere.” I started to think that it was our Gabrielle, but then I kind of talked myself out of it. I’d recently done a similar thing with Poppy Montgomery, from Without A Trace, being in Unforgettable but with red hair, where I knew who it was but couldn’t work it out, so I wasn’t convinced that my face-recognition skills were actually up to scratch.

I was so determined to find out that I was right that I was even willing to endure the theme song performed by Busted – the boy band responsible for the most songs based around teenage wank fantasies – to check the credits and make sure it actually was her.

I suffer for my art.

2.029 The 22.10 From Leeds

After Showstopper on Friday night we headed for the train station to make our way home. We’ve come home by train after gigs and the like before, and it’s been a nice quiet ride where we can just chill out – at least one of us can fall asleep while the other reads a book – and reflect on a great night.

Obviously we’ve never done it on a Friday night before.

It was only just after 10pm when we caught the train but by Jimminy there we some strange people about.#

There were a couple who were thrown out of First Class for not having First Class tickets. A perfectly viable reason to be ejected from the luxury of having a lamp on your table and an antimacassar on the back of your seat to soak up any head sweat. But throughout the rest of the journey they kept referring to the fact that they’d been shunned by the Upper Classes – most of the time claiming that if they were in First Class they would already be home. Because, as everyone knows, one of the benefits of First Class – other than an “at seat refreshment service” is the fact that it can travel in time.

Naturally being the loon magnets that we are, the disgruntled f-ing and blinding non-First Class Couple ended up remarkably close to us. They probably would have been sitting with us if it hadn’t been for a girl who was having a really bad day. A bad life, in fact, if you listened to her. What we should have done is introduce her to the guy who was on the platform having a massive Facebook dilemma which he didn’t want everyone to know about and then proceeded to phone everyone. They’d have got on like two houses on fire. Like a semi-detached house on fire, I suppose.

The girl opposite us had just started a new job. It wasn’t great, by all accounts. But in six months she could be an assistant manager, and then a few months after that she could be a manager and then she could have her own office and – what the hell? We’re not even going under a bridge…

Yeah, she was on her phone a lot. And it kept dropping signal. And every time it dropped signal she would growl and theatrically flop forward onto the table like it was THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD EVER. And every time she growled, because she was sitting – somehow – diagonally (the direction, as opposed to where Harry Potter buys his books) she managed to kick me in the shins.

I’ll never complain about the ride to work again.

(Although that last comment is not legally binding)

2.028 Audience Watching

Last night we went to see the first Showstopper of the year at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. It was – as I’m sure you’ll have guessed by now – excellent – a moving tale of love, loss, sacrifice and happiness played out in the icy waters around Antarctica.

Considering I lived in Leeds while I was at University, and have caught buses from the bus station since then – actually sitting in the stand starting at the Playhouse – it’s not somewhere I’ve ever been before. But it was lovely. Really lovely. The theatre we were in was both large and intimate at the same time, which I was really impressed with. We were four rows back from the action – close enough to smell them – and while we were basking in the closeness to the stage, before the show started, we took the chance to look around the audience members.

Across the way was a woman we’d spotted earlier. Actually, it was hard not to spot her. She was dressed in a pink and black stripey dress. Not horizontal stripes, not vertical stripes. No, they were diagonal stripes. She, quite quickly, became known as Migraine Woman because continued exposure started to make your head hurt. And it was one of those things that, once you knew she was there, you couldn’t not look – a bit like when you find a spot and you can’t help but pick at it.

But, because this was Showstopper, you won’t be surprised to hear that we managed to sit close to people who didn’t get the fact that the show is improvised. You can get a leaflet when you go in which lists all the people who can be involved in the show at any one time – they cast is pulled together from a group of people, a bit like The Avengers, but funnier and with music – which also mentions that it would be impossible for the show not to be improvised. It makes it quite clear. Repeatedly.

I can, in a way, see why they can think that it’s not improvised. The guys work bloody well together – Pippa and Ruth are a force to be reckoned with when their powers are combined, for example – and the songs just seem to flow. But that’s because they’re bloody good at what they do, not because they’re standing backstage rapidly learning a script based on a couple of suggestions that people shout out.

But no matter what the audience say – everyone gets caught up in it. A woman made an excited noise when it was revealed that characters were getting married, we all boo-ed the baddies, we all went “oooooh” when the ultimate sacrifice was revealed. And we all left the theatre singing one of the songs.

Roll on the next time…

2.027 Spider-man, Spider-man

There’s a chance  that by the time you read this I’ll have developed superpowers.

Last night, I opted to get the bus home. There are two reasons for this:

a) It stops just around the corner from work
b) It means I don’t have a twenty-minute wait in Huddersfield between the train and the bus.

More often than not, if I look at my scatterplot of bus reliability, the bus is late or doesn’t turn up. This week, though, it’s been on time every day so rather than look a gift horse in the mouth I’m using it to shave twenty minutes off the time it takes to get home.

So, last night I was on the bus and, somewhere around Dewsbury, I felt something on my hand. I looked down and there was a spider, spinning a web off my arm. It was either spinning a web or it planned to cocoon me and dissolve my internal organs with its spit so it could drink me later. When I noticed the spider I did what any self-respecting person who discovers a spider on their hand while they’re riding home on the bus would do – I flicked it off my hand and onto someone else’s seat.

A little later on, though, I noticed that where the spider had walked on my hand it was actually quite tingly. So I figure that it’s pretty much a shoe-in that I’ll become some kind of superhero. Now, I have learnt from the gospels of Stan Lee that this won’t be obvious immediately and that it will take at least one sleep for the powers to manifest themselves. I’ve had that sleep. By the time you read this I might not need my glasses anymore, my eyesight miraculously improving overnight thanks to my spider encounter. And, naturally, you might see me placing my hands on the walls of tall buildings to see if I can climb them.

I am a little bit worried, though. I don’t own any lycra. Which, really, is for the best because mine is not a body you want to see encased in any kind of stretchy material. Imagine a woman with a fat arse in leggings, but all over my body. That’s what I’d look like. It would not be a pretty sight. Yes, it might strike fear into the heart of your average supervillain but it might also have them rolling around in the aisles, paralysed by laughter (not too paralysed that they couldn’t roll around).

But  I don’t own any lycra. When Peter Parker became Spider-man he happened to have some suitably coloured lycra lying around at home that he could fashion his suit from. I don’t have that. In fact, as far as materials go I think we’ve just got a couple of old curtains and maybe an old sheet we used as a dustsheet.

Plus, my tailoring skills are not that good so I’m fairly sure that once I go public with my powers and start wearing a costume I’ll look like a bit of a twat.