Thursday, 25 September 2014

Stick Them Up "Punks" It's The Antiques Roadshow

As you may or may not know, the Antiques Roadshow is filmed all over the country. This is no good to me, as I live in the South East, specifically the outskirts of London and therefore I have a misguided assumption that everything interesting should happen near me.

So when I heard that the "Roadshow" was coming to the mighty Walthamstow aka E17 and the visit coincided with my birthday, well the weekend afterwards, I thought, well I have to go. It would be RUDE not to.

So I did.

I didn't take any antiques with me, mainly because I don't have any. I pondered the possibility of asking around, seeing if anyone had anything they wanted me to take, but common sense prevailed and I didn't bother.

Joining the queue slightly back from a man in a Swans t-shirt and massive ginger beard made my thoughts alternate between "gosh the audience has changed" to "blooming  hipsters innit" at the drop of a hat.

After realising that we didn't have to queue as we hadn't bought anything we were allowed to join the revelling antique fans, and mill freely. Here are some highlights (and lowlights)

1. A man serving coffee out of the back of a can. He had a wide stance.

2. When it is shown on telly, you may see me, awkwardly laughing as a funeral urn is inspected.

3. No Munn.

4. The queues man! You should have seen them! I was so glad I didn't bring anything to be appraised.

5. They do the valuation twice, if your stuff looks good they bring the cameras over.

6. Fiona Bruce did a bit to camera where I'm in the crowd. I muttered in a disdainful manner, "that looks like an antique biscuit" only to be absolutely correct.

7. You can't buy a commerative paperweight. 

8. Walthamstow town hall is an amazing looking place.

9. A lot of people bring paintings. Or is it just that paintings are easily recognised.

10. The kind of people you see wandering around are EXACTLY as you might imagine— although the Swans t-shirt was unexpected.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Extract From A Work In Progress

"So many things in the modern world have secret, hidden meanings," he said.

"Like what?" I said. I could accept some of what he was saying, true, but some of this stuff seemed to fantastic to be true.

"Roundabouts," he said. "They are almost without exception built on sites of long-established evil. The roundabout was always there, long before it was actually built."

I decided to show off some of my local knowledge at this point: "I know the first roundabout in Britain was built in Letchworth Garden City."

"Very true," he said. "This is why I avoid going there. Very ancient things lurk there. Things not to be invoked."

"What do you make Milton Keynes?" I asked. "Lots of roundabouts there. Including, if memory serves, a 'magic' one."

"Oh you must never go to Milton Keynes!" he said.

I was shocked at his vehemence: "Because of the ancient evils that lurk there now manifesting themselves as roundabouts?"

"No," he replied. "It's just really fucking boring there."

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Triple Action

Apparently William S Burroughs used to keep a notebook where the pages were divided into three.

1. What you are seeing/hearing
2. What you are thinking
3. What you are reading

I like this idea, although it sounds very tricky in theory. Must give it a go.

On the other hand Buckminster supposedly wore three wristwatches* which were set to the following times:

1. Where you started from
2. Where you are going 
3. The time at home 

It's hard to believe anyone in this day and age was bother with writing right across a notebook page or having one watch in, like some kind of LOSER.

* I do like the term "wristwatch". It sounds so overdone. Like saying "omnibus" for "bus" and so on.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Thick of It

Searching through my folders, I discovered a graph I did ages ago showing, for some reason, the age of the actor playing "Doctor Who"* since the show started. The other chart I did at the same time showing the difference in age between Terry Wogan and his female Children in Need co-presenter remains lost to the ages.

So I did what anyone would do. I updated it. It has a rather pleasing symmetry to it now, I'm sure you'll agree. (click to make larger, natch)

Bit late, if I'd done this I could have been famous with this. Well internet famous. Well probably not even that, truth be told, but there you go.

* Yeah, yeah I know.

Saturday, 1 June 2013


I was just reading David Runciman's review of Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher (there's a sentence with what feels like too much punctuation for its own good) in the London Review of Books.*

Apparently Thatcher didn't like the Jews very much until she became the MP for Finchley and then she found out she actually rather liked them.

The mild, unthinking anti-semitism of her early letters – she complained to Muriel of the ‘“tatty” tourists: Jews and novo [sic] riche’ she encountered in Madeira on her honeymoon – gave way to a strong admiration for her Jewish constituents, among whom she found many of the values she herself cherished. ‘My, they were good citizens,’ she later remarked, seeing Jews as ‘natural traders’ who managed ‘positively to get on by their own efforts’. 

This is clearly a possible solution for all kinds of prejudice which should be investigated by some kind of government agency. Are the politically correct brigade busy at the moment?

Or at the very least another idea for a documentary to add to the every increasing and teetering pile.

* the actual print version, mind, although it's available to read in full here.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


I do not like voicemail. It all seems to me a colossal waste of time. I'm not quite as bad as this person, but it's only a matter of time I feel.

My phone is on all the time. If someone rings me when I'm busy, or at work (of course I'm always busy when I'm at work this goes without saying etc etc) then I will get a missed call alert.

If I know the person, their number will be stored in my phone & I can call them back at the earliest opportunity.

If I don't know the number, then I won't answer, unless I'm expecting a call, because let's be honest, an unsolicited call is rarely going to be, well, solicited.

When I was job hunting, the recruitment agencies would call, it would go to voicemail & then they would leave a message*. Usually these messages were along the lines of "This is XXXX from XXXX, please call me back when you get the chance". 

My parents leave me long rambling voicemails which I never listen to, just call them back at the next opportunity. This works fine for me.

That covers my personal calls, but, as always, work is a whole different story. Generally speaking the person calling should know my email, or ring a group number, or someone else will pick up the phone. Inevitably the ones who manage not to tend to be the ones leaving an incomprehensible message, outside, near a loudspeaker, possibly with a thick accent. To add insult to injury the people who leave voicemail never have straightforward queries & always insist on describing them in full to the machine rather than insist I call back at the next opportunity, which is exceptionally annoying.  I'd set up a voicemail message saying, "my email is this, just send it there or call back later" if I were allowed. Unsurprisingly, I'm not.

I also hate leaving voicemail messages. I never ever bother with personal calls, but I'm supposed to at work to prove I called. For these I always try & be as succinct as possible, as above. I can't bear listening to my voice so I don't listen to the playback.

Doing this though, does make me wonder what the point is. I'm increasingly of the opinion that the best approach is: Don't bother with it people, there's much better ways to get in touch. Proof, were it needed, there's a little wiggly red line under every appearance above of the word "voicemail". 

* This could be a problem if their number came up as "unknown" on the phone & then I was out & about & they told me the number & I didn't have a pen, but that was my fault. Also, they'd often email me too which made my life easier & I could just take the number directly from the email.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Back in the heady days of 1997, my parents got cable TV. Satellite  having previously been resisted, presumably due to a combination of giving money to the sinister Murdoch-helmed empire and having a massive dish on the front the house.

Back in those days we didn't have the same number of compelling channels we do today. I think there were 60 or so, and a large number of those were foreign news channels. I recall particularly a Russian one. There was also, although this didn't last very long (I assume they were too expensive), CNN.

I'd never watched American news before although I did have a large number of judgmental and prejudiced ideas about what form and style it might take. These ideas turned out to be entirely correct (or I wouldn't have admitted to them just now) and I ended up watching it for amusement purposes*.

Now, the one thing I couldn't get all superior of was the provincial nature of the news, rarely was anything outside of the US covered. That's pretty much the same for our news here**, unless of course some British people happen to have been on holiday during the time that whatever news was occurring first occurred.

But since those days we now have rolling news on all channels, with those little tickers rolling along the bottom. The problem is often not much is happening so you end up with loads of coverage of a man outside a door and endlessly repeating himself.

Now I like the idea of endless grinding repetition, after all after a while it does start to get interesting*** but I can't bear to watch more than 1/2hr of news at any one time. Maybe that should be my next milestone.

* The best thing I was watched on CNN was their coverage of Lady Di's funeral. For some reason their insistence on referring to the M1 as simply "M1" really grated,

** Local news is amazing for this. When I grew up, the local news was inane to an astonishing degree, usually featuring a farmer in Wiltshire who was upset about something. When I moved to London, I assumed the local news would be packed full of excitement  but it fact it was just as bad although for "farmer" substitute "teacher" and for "Wiltshire" substitute "Willesden".

*** Zen innit. Or something. God, I've clearly been reading too much David Foster Wallace, far too many footnotes.