Waiting For Wickes

May 31, 2015

There’s only one place to be at twenty to ten on a Sunday morning.

The car park of the Huddersfield branch of Wickes.

It doesn’t open until 10, but we didn’t let that deter us from leaving far too early to get there. No, we arrived and drove all the way up to almost in front of the doors and just sat and waited. I think it’s safe to say I have never been so mortified in my life. I mean, yeah, I’ve been to places before they opened before. But not a Wickes. Wickes is like a grubbier version of B&Q in my eyes – it’s DIY but it’s DIY pre-coated in grime for your convenience. Look like you’ve been working hard by transferring the muck from the product to your clothes. It’s that kind of place.

Anyway, we were twenty minutes early.

So we sat there. And, surprisingly, more and more people turned up. Apparently it really is the place to be on a Sunday.

Although mainly if you’re very, very old and wearing comfortable shoes.

One man pulled up and got of his car accompanied by a dog, which he then proceeded to exercise in the car park, throwing a ball around for it. I’m not sure if he’d been told to take the dog out and thought that it was a prime excuse to go to Wickes and buy some mucky wood or what, but there he was bouncing a ball around the car park while his dog ran around doing its best not to be runover by the constant stream of cars filled with people who were all too early for Wickes.

And when the shutters did go up at 10, it was like a bloody stampede. It was as if someone had found a herd of cattle and thrown a stick of dynamite behind them. Just a beige-tinged rush to the door as millons of old people flocked like moths to a flame, all clad in their decorating jumpers and black shoes. We had to try and avoid being caught up in this Sanatogen-fueled tsunami. If we’d opened the car door at the wrong time we could have hooked an elderly person in comfortable slacks.

It makes the people who travel on the bus look normal…

And that’s really saying somethng.


The Doctor Who One

May 30, 2015

So, the Doctor Who thing.

Yeah, it was great.

I mean, its UK run has finished now, so whatever I say here isn’t going to change whether or not you went to see it. So lets just say it was great and leave it at that. Yeah?




It’s a weird thing, music. It has the power to make you feel quite emotional, or excited or whatever, with just some variations in the way that the air molecules vibrate around an instrument. It’s a truly powerful medium. And one that can sometimes go unnoticed.

Music has been a big part of the new Doctor Who since it popped back onto our screens in 2005. It’s always been there, and you know some of the music without really thinking about it. The Doctors all have a different theme, for example, as do the companions. But even when you know that music exists, it’s still under layers of visual action and dialogue. It sometimes goes unnoticed and unappreciated.

So what the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular did was focus on the music, accompanied by the appearance of various show monsters and footage from the show – minus the dialogue – running on a big screen. Oh and the amazing voice of Elin Manahan Thomas who, its fair to say, has a fantastic set of pipes on her. And there’s no greater praise than that.

What became apparent quite early on was how well the music fit with what was happening on screen. For example, each of the compainions – Rose, Martha, Donna and Amy – have a different tune that goes with them. Donna’s, for example, is a more jokey, light-hearted tune compared to, say, Martha’s which carried more gravitas (get me, eh) because it accompanies her when she travels the world to tell tales of the Doctor and save him from being Gallifrey’s premier Dobby The House Elf impersonator. Without the dialogue you realise how well the music fits. And also that it really takes very little for you cry at Rose’s departure and the bit in Bad Wolf Bay. Which then makes you hope they don’t show either Amy falling victim to the Weeping Angel or her return just prior to Eleven’s regeneration because, frankly, I was pissed wet through with rain and my handkerchief was already sodden. It couldn’t have handled the tears.

We were too far away to really get the full wonder of the monsters up close. But we could see them tromping around the stage area, mingling with the crowds. Daleks, Cybermen, Silurians, Ood, Judoon… all of them moving around scaring people left, right and centre. And the Foretold – the death-bringing mummy from the recent series – actually made a girl get up and squeeze her way down the aisle she was on so she would be safe from its clutches.

But it was a seriously great show. Peter Davison was lovely presenting it – and very funny with it with his playful jabs at Colin Baker and the other Doctor in his family. Ben Foster’s conducting was brlliant. I think. I don’t know. I know nothing about conducting. But it looked like he was doing a good job. And I’ve already said that Elin Manahan Thomas’ pipes were right up there.

It was a great night. I don’t think anyone left there disappointed, or underwhelmed. And if they did they were probably dead inside.

A Very Radio 4 Audience

May 29, 2015

The thing about a Radio 4 audience is…

Well, one of the things is that they are not a blog about the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular. Let’s try for that tomorrow. For real this time. But this isn’t about that. This is about this.

So, the thing about a Radio 4 audience is they are very distinct. You would know a Radio 4 audience if you found yourself in one. There’s something about that particular audience that just resonates Radio 4. Even if you were a Luddite who had never listened to Radio 4 in ¬†your life – in which case you should because there are amazing thngs on there (and The Archers) – you would still know you were in a room full of like-minded souls.

For example, only a Radio 4 audience oozes politeness out of every pore. I had to stand up several times during intervals and such like, to let people filter in and out of the row. Every single person apologised for making me stand up. I don’t mind. I like row ends because I can stretch my legs out. So I’m used to standing up. It’s not a big deal, really. And it certainly doesn’t need copious apologies. Or an urging to sit back down because it “looks like they’ll be awhile” as one husband described the wait for his wife to stop chuntering. I might not look it (I do) but I’m a Radio 4 audience too. We are one. We are legion. It’s all good.

I’ll tell you what, though, if you want to hear what a room full of people’s arses clenching sounds like you want to be at a Jeremy Hardy gig when he drops the C-bomb.

Because he doesn’t do that on the News Quiz. There are no swears on the News Quiz. Those sorts of things are edited out. A Radio 4 audience doesn’t encounter language like that normally. Even in the most heated episodes of The Archers you’ll rarely rise above a “darn”. The Shipping Forecast, at its most extreme, just uses numbers. It’s simply not a word used on Radio 4. Which is a shame, because Ruth Bratt and Lucy Trodd have a lovely joke which will never ever surface on the station for that very reason.

Anyway, they might not here it much. And they might all clench their arses in fear of what hearing the word will do to them. But by jove (see, told you I was Radio 4) they bloody loved it.


May 28, 2015

I’m supposed to be writing about the Doctor Who thing.

But that isn’t going to happen tonight.

Yesterday, when I made the statement that it would be tonight I foolishly assumed that I would get a decent night’s sleep and not still be awake at 2am tossing, turning and listening to a girlfriend be violently ill. So instead of writing about the Doctor Who thing (which was awesome, that cannot be denied) I am going to go to bed and sleep the sleep of the damned until my alarm goes off tomorrow and the day begins afresh.

I’m not sure I can string enough coherent sentences together to make it through a long blog anyway, and tomorrow night I’m going to see Jeremy Hardy at the City Varieties so I need to be at least somewhere in the ball park of alert and awake for that because it’s really, really bad form if you fall asleep in a comedy gig. It is massively frowned upon. Not really in the spirit of the event and things of that nature.

So I’m sorry, dear reader, but you’re getting another crappy blog in which I moan about being tired.

And I am.

I am fricking knackered. I slept most of the way to and from work today. That’s never happened before. It’s a very weird sensation waking up on public transport and having to run your brain, rapidly, through the bus route to try and work out where you are. I don’t really enjoy it. And I don’t want to do it again tomorrow.

So bed wins out, I’m afraid.

I’ll try and get it written tomorrow.

Unless I’m asleep. Or it’s my turn to be violently ill. Which I really don’t want it to be.

A Very Short One

May 27, 2015

We’ve just got back from the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular.

It’s late, so I’m not really going to write about it until tomorrow, but know this. It was awesome. It is still awesome, in Newcastle and Glasgow.

Partly because I think it will take me until tomorrow to find out what the plural, or indeed the collective term, for more than one fez is. Because I really, really need that word.

But that’s it for tonight. Short and sweet.

Like a Sontaran dipped in sugar.

Yeah, We Call Him Buzz

May 26, 2015

There’s a news story on the sidebars of the BBC website which states that a man covered in bees has set a new World Record. If you click into the story, it goes on to say that the man was covered in 109kg of bees (which, frankly, is a ridiculous amount of bees) when he set the record.

It doesn’t say what the record is.

I assume it’s for being covered in more bees than is considered normal. But it might not be. He might have set a record for the most jumpers worn at once and the bees were just an incidental part of it all. Like he turned up covered in bees and someone said, “Hey, are you doing a bee-based record?” and he was quite offended because he just hangs out with 109kgs of bees for fun and is fed up of people assuming he’s really into wearing bees like clothes.

The thing with being covered iin a fuckton of bees is.. well, how do you get there. How does it start? You go around with one bee on your, maybe on your head or something, and before long you’re thinking about a second bee. Like with tattoos. I’ve heard people say – having no tattoos myself for fear of the fact that if I lost weight it would look like someone had drawn on a balloon that had then deflated – that once you’d had one you’re hooked. And it must be the same with bees. You’re up to bees, then three. Before you know it you’re stealing to fund your black market honey habits trying to entice more bees.

Your partner is getting suspicious because you’re coming home a little bit sticky, and what’s that? Pollen? On your collar? What they hell is going on? And then it spirals out of control and she leaves you and you turn to the hard stuff. You know, hornets and wasps, trying to get your fix of yellow and black stripy bastards…

And then before you know it you’re being celebrated because you’re cover in 109kg of bees.

It’s amazing how quickly these things get out of hand.


May 25, 2015

My parents came over today, for their customary monthly rant about living with my grandma. In the 39 months that this has been going on, my mother has started dropping F-bombs left, right and centre. It’s mind-blowing.

Anyway, they came over. We chatted for a while. They left.

And then I spent the next thirty minutes or so fending off a very affectionate cat called Toby.

I know. That sounds completely the opposite of what you’d think I’d do. After all, I am all for luring a cat into the house like a witch with a gingerbread house in a fairy story, but Toby is different. For starters, I know he’s called Toby because he has a collar, with his name on and a contact number. Were we to take Toby in, we’d have to remove the collar and, in some way, convince Toby’s real owners that some fate had befallen him which just left the collar, bloodied and torn. Or cut and covered in ketchup. Yes, cat blood smells of tomatoes. It’s a little known fact.

Toby pretty much wanted to come in. I had to stand on the doorstep like a bouncer, moving in front of him every time he sauntered too close to the door – which was open because we were trying to get a mewing Peppa back into the house. And failing. She stayed rigid on the grass, while Toby just more-or-less meandered in. And then just sat on the doorstep and wouldn’t leave. Liike a furry, meowing Jehovah’s Witness.

And then when we thought he had gone, he actually hadn’t, and came and sat on the fence. And tried to climb me and…

… well, had he not clearly already got an owner he’d be sitting on my lap as I typed this.