Archives for category: TV
Let’s start with Sailors – Obviously refers to the one word that never gets a mention in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”. If you’ve read the book, then you’ll understand that “based on” means just that.  That’s not to say it’s not recognisable from the book – it does follow the same main plot points – but it’s been properly crafted together. 

Many people will have seen the 1970’s Alec Guinness TV series made by the BBC. This also is not that. While the TV series was excellent and followed the book far more closely. it did have it’s problems. By today’s standards it’s much harder viewing than the new Movie version – although that may well be in part due to it’s video-tape/film nature and the plot jumping around much like the book does.

They seem to have fixed all that stuff in this version.  It’s quite fun trying to guess what time period it’s set in. There are many pointers to the 70’s and 80’s, but you just can’t quite put your finger on it.  Of course it revolves around the cold war – so they’ve got the timing and the look just right. I loved it. Some people have claimed it to be a bit slow – I never noticed. I did however notice some vocal inflections from Gary Oldman (Smiley) which almost sounded like he was impersonating Alec Guinness. He got away with it though. It just serves to add further weight to his character.  

It also reads a bit like a who’s who of currently great British actors with appearances from John Hurt, Colin Firth, Mark Strong (more on him in a moment), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Tom Hardy (“Eames” in Inception – and soon to appear in the next batman – The Dark Knight Rises).

Some great set pieces – I particularly enjoyed Mark Strong’s visit to Budapest, the office Christmas party and the final scene at the army base – but you should watch it for yourself.  It’s rightly nominated for this years Oscars, and I hope it does well.  9/10

Drivers – refers to the new DVD release “Drive”. I’m not quite so keen on this, although I was riveted throughout. Ryan Gosling plays the lead, and I suspect he was pretty cheap to hire if he’s paid by the word.  He has very little to say throughout. The violence depicted is pretty extreme – and on occasion to much so.  That said, it’s an 18, and you can see why.

It tells the story of a Hollywood stuntman (part-time – I think he performs a stunt, just so we know he does that stuff) and mechanic (the other part of his time). when he’s not doing either of those things he’s a getaway driver for whoever wants to hire him. What I really enjoyed about it though, was the 80’s feel of LA.  I spent some time there in the 80’s and they show it much as I remembered it to be. 

A great 80’s feeling soundtrack and moody performances mean that I think this is likely to end up with a cult status, in the vein of Robert De Niro’s Taxi Driver (1979) or Christian Bale’s American Psycho (2000). Overall mostly watch-able – 8/10

The Irish Police – can only really mean one thing, “The Guard” as in the The Guarda. If you saw “In Bruges” (2008) with Brendan Gleeson and enjoyed it, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this too.  It’s not the same thing, with Mr Gleeson playing a good guy this time round, although the line between good and bad is equally well blurred.  There’s something about his hard Irish delivery that has comedy written all the way through it.  A good tight script helps it along and it’s a great bit of mobster style magic.  

A stand-out moment has to be the IRA Arms cache – both it’s discovery and it’s handover. Beautifully put together.

There’s also an appearance from Mark Strong as the Englishman. He likes Sharks. A much stronger character than that in TTSS, but also a lot darker of heart. Clearly an up and coming movie actor who is really starting to shine since his long stint in UK TV during the 90’s.

Thoroughly enjoyable black comedy – 8/10

And finally, an American Captain ?? – duh…Captain America: The first Avenger (in 3D).  Yes, you read that right. In 3D.  Some of you are aware I’ve recently aquired a 3D TV.  Like Dr Kermode, I too don’t really believe in 3D cinema.  It’s a bit of a gimmick, and more often than not adds absolutely nothing to the viewing experience of a film.

Anyone in the market for a new TV is going to be faced with the 3D option, which is almost becoming a standard for anything over 40-inches screen size. In the end, I went for “big is best” and chose the 55″ LG LED with Smart TV.  There’s a whole other post waiting to be written about that, so I’ll leave it for now.  However, what it has helped me to understand is that there may well be a future in 3D TV – as opposed to cinema. I’m already looking forward to the Olympics now – regardless of having tickets or not.

I digress…  Captain America. A really nice surprise.  So much better than I expected. Marvel studios have done a great job of building the line up for the forth coming “Avengers” movie in May this year. The exception that proves the rule is most likely the Incredible Hulk, which I wasn’t quite so enamoured with. However, Iron man and Thor have also both been great movies and Capt’ A, is right up there with them.

Set during World War II it tells the story of Steve Rodgers, a weedy chap who is consistently rejected on his army applications. A German doctor has concocted a serum (as is the way with such stories) and Tony Stark’s dad shows up with some technical gubbins which combined help transform our protagonist into our hero.

I thought they did a great job. The whole 1940’s design feels right and the plot doesn’t loose it’s way or it’s interest as we chase down Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith from “The Matrix”). Some top quality CGI tricks help us believe that Chris Evans (no, not the one off the Radio – Johnny Storm in the “Fantastic Four”) can really be a 7-stone weakling. I don’t think we’ve seen this sort of CGI body-modelling before, but they’ve done a great job of it, and try as I migh, I couldn’t see the join (just like Eric Morecombe, who could also “Never see the join, Ern. I’m telling you, you’d never know it was a wig”)

Does it need 3D??  Well, probably not. I’m not sure there’s much that does need 3D, but, in a living room environment, it’s a lot more natural and believable than in a cinema.  I found myself not noticing the 3D-ness, and just being immersed in the movie. There are a couple of moments when the 3D sticks out and it almost breaks the rule of the fourth wall, but it was at no time offensive, or off-putting and certainly did not detract from my enjoyment of the film overall.

A good solid family fun action movie, that it just as good without the 3D – 8/10

What I’m really looking forward to is “Hugo” in 3D.  From what I’ve heard (Thatyou @wittertainment) and what I’ve read this is the movie that 3D was made for this time round.  It’s also massively tipped for the Oscars, but then it’s a film about film, so that and “The Artist” are set for a proper battle of the awards.

Hope that hasn’t bored you too much.
Until next time….

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Categories Movies, TV

Bleurr..ummphh! (Pirates, Mummies & Murderers)

That’s the sound of Monday.  All a bit of a flop this week. Things have not gone well for Pooh and I and interestingly this is through no fault of ours, but of some extremely unrealistic expectations of a few other members of the cast from elsewhere.  Ultimately we’re on hiding to nothing with this job – unless some wakes up and smells the coffee.

Somehow, in the midst of all this I’ve managed to pick up two deals that I’m covering for someone else and another one that I have to run with. I’ve asked for further detail which as yet is not forthcoming, so in true broken record style-ee, IIWII. Enough already.

Daughter returned unscathed from her dealings with the British legal system. The accused plead guilty in the end so she didn’t have to take the stand, but she did get to meet a few other rum sorts – including a murderer. She’s always interested in the bizarre and darker side of life – not too interested mind you, just enough to want to know enough to satisfy her curiosity. I still worry of course, but she displays excellent judgement of character for the most part. I’ve learned to “let go” a fair bit now. You have to let them have their own space to grow – even if they do occasionally poke around in the darker corners of the world. There was a further example of this later in the evening.

Last night’s dinner was tuna steak freshly caught from our local supermarket on my bike in the rain. What could be nicer?  Hard to believe that just over a week ago I was sitting around in shorts and t-shirts and 28 degrees of sunshine. Now winter has arrived properly and it’s cold, dark, wet and miserable. Halloween and fireworks just around the corner means that Christmas is only just behind them and at least there will be festive fun -somewhere amongst the misery. 

The other highlight from last night – and of “dark” interest to daughter – was provided by Channel 4. Mummifying Alan – Egypt’s Last Secret is a documentary following Dr. Stephen Buckley and Dr Joann Fletcher mummifying the body of Taxi driver, Alan Billis. (Torquay’s Tutankhamun) Engaging, fascinating and at times disturbing. It was Alan’s choice to donate his body to this experiment and his attitude towards it is best described by his own words:

“It’s just a shame I won’t be here to see the results. I love a good documentary”. 

I’m sorry he’s missed it to, because it’s really worth a watch. Amazing stuff.


Tuesday has landed and what’s to report?…  not a lot really, so a hunt around the Internet might bring up something a little more intriguing, and here’s some newsy type stuff….

According to The Next Web, Netflix, the video rental/streaming company that have all the latest and greatest movies available online is finally coming to the UK next year.  Right now that’s too late for me, I’ve recently signed up with LoveFilm (part of Amazon) which I’m glad to report is quite excellent so far. That said I might jump ship once Netflix lands just because in other parts of the globe – namely America – its supported by Apple TV. But let’s just wait and see what the deal is first, after all they’ve just had a price hike in the US and customers had been voting with thier feet on it: Video rental firm Netflix loses customers over prices 

As for LoveFilm, I’ve taken the 14 quid a month package which entitles you to an unlimited number of DVD or BlueRay rentals (but only two at a time) and streaming to PS3, iPad, iPhone, Mac or PC. You can actually stream up to 3 different titles simultaneously (to different devices obviously). Streaming the latest releases means paying an extra 3 or 4 quid, but the back catalogue is almost as good as mine, so it’s impossible to be at a loss to watch anything in the Ball household now.

As a result I’ve caught up with few odds and ends of movies lately, most recent of which is “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”. This is the fourth in the series and quite possibly it’s turned a corner – though not necessarily completely. The first film in the franchise was a ripper. Great fun for everyone and thoroughly enjoyable. Sadly from there, it slipped downhill and gradually got worse and worse. That last effort was almost unwatchable – however, for the most part I quite enjoyed this one and while Johnny Depp churns out the same “Captain Jack” as always, the material he has to work with does feel a darn sight more snappier and thought out than part 2 or 3 did. Good stuff if your kids are fans and you’re looking for something for them to watch during half term.


That should cover my 750 words for today (838 to be precise). It seems that really is helping me.

Until next time. 

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Categories Cooking, Daughter, Movies, TV

Lion Streaming and a name by any other name….

First of all, streaming TV & Movies from OSX Lion to Apple TV (or apparently a Mac Mini, and probably anything else)….

I have an iMac which hosts my iTunes library on my home WiFi LAN. This has an external HDD that contains all the media files and usually streams quite happily across the LAN to my first generation Apple TV in the living room.  This setup has worked flawlessly for the past 3 or 4 years and all well and good.  

Since I’ve upgraded to OS X Lion, this hasn’t been quite so smooth.  In fact, any video streamed to the Apple TV seems to stutter and requires re-buffering every minute or so, making watching it almost impossible. In short – it’s become a useless brick.

Now, after some digging, reading of log files and testing of suggestions it appears I’ve found the culprit, who is none other than our good old desktop search friend “Spotlight”.  It appears that the spotlight indexing process is constantly mounting and unmounting the external HDD.  This in turn means that the content is unavailable to iTunes and thus un-streamable to the Apple TV.  Apple TV attempts to re-read the data which forces a mount of the HDD and all is well again until spotlight unmounts it again – about 30 seconds later.

The solution (for now) seems to be to switch of indexing of the external HDD. This can be done via System Preferences -> Spotlight -> Privacy and specifically excluding the drive (or drives).  Once that’s done, a quick reboot and everything is working as it should do.  I’m sure this is a short term fix until the wizards at Apple fix the problem with spotlight – but at least my ATV isn’t just a brick anymore.

I’m also considering an upgrade to a second generation Apple TV during my forthcoming US trip – but time will tell.

Now, on to my second point today….  A name…  Finally I’ve been suspended from Google+ for using my very well know nickname instead of my real name.  Seriously quite annoying.  This means the only way for me to continue using G+ is to come clean.  Very disappointing, but such is the way of things…..   What I can’t understand is why this is so important to Google?   As I’ve said before, outside of work, everyone but everyone knows me as Golfy (or Golfyball if you’re not into the whole brevity thing). 


I’m sure that one day, when G+ is truly opened to the masses I’ll be able to go back to my more well known name – but for now – I am who I am who am I ?

This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Categories Apple, Google, TV

It’s all about Philosophy in the end…

Around 4am I was awoken by a soft bleeping noise and a small flashing blue light. As the world came into focus in the eerie half light of pre-dawn, I realised that it was coming from my new pen. It’s a pen I’d been given by a random salesperson at Starfleet who was trying to get me interested in mobile phones at the time…  Badman will tell you all about it, he was there at the time. 


As it is, I’d thought no more of the pen, which at first sight is a non-descript disposable biro until this interruption to my sleep pattern. I staggered out of bed and over to the dresser where the pen was sat merrily chirping and flashing. On closer inspection, it appears there is a tiny LED inset next to the nib. As I put my finger over it, the pen clicks and a tiny aerial emerges from the other end, this time with a red flashing light on it. The light flashes red then green a few times and then becomes fixed green. It’s connected to something……

Suddenly my phone starts buzzing to alert me to an incoming call, and the caller ID ?  “Mission Headquarters at Starfleet (via your cheap pen)”. Uh oh!… Something’s going down.

Tentativly I answer the phone and hear the following message in a voice I don’t recognise: 

“Good morning Mr Ball. Sorry to disturb your sleep, but we have mission details for you and the Badman.  Your Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to turn 6 weeks worth of work into 2 starting immediately. As always, should you or any of your Starfleet force be caught or killed, the Christopher Robin will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Badman and Golfy. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds…..”

Oh for the love of wisdom!!! (see what I did there? – if not, read more greek). Instantly I recognise that we have a fundamental problem in need of studying and that dear reader is why, it’s all about philosophy in the end.   Well, that and this Wikipedia article:

I’m off to town with Mrs G our faithful chain driven steeds. It’s a bank holiday weekend, I’ve spoken with the Badman, we’ve exchanged emails and are making our position clear.

If we had the option I wouldn’t accept the mission, but then this is Mission Impossible and we are the best bear and tiger for the job…. erm, actually, the ONLY bear and tiger, but as I always say in times of trouble….. whatever.


Todays post was brought to you by the letters “F”, “E”, “C” and “K” and by the website:


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Categories Conspiracy, Movies, Mrs G, Starfleet, TV, Wikipedia

Once you put this on…

When I was a kid there was an advert on TV for Dulux weather shield paint. You might remember it. It featured an old fella in a flat cap struggling up a hillside with a tin of paint, a ladder and a spade. We saw him digging some turf and trowling some concrete or plaster. Then we saw him painting something on the ground. Eventually, the camera pulled back to reveal a freshly painted Dulux Dog (actually an old english sheep dog) on the hillside.

Part of the VoiceOver to this ad, which was in a sort of Yorkshire accent, went along the lines of “Goes on smooth, seems to shrug off weather, and if a jobs worth doing….”. Now don’t ask me why, for I know not the answer, but for some reason that snippet of audio from nineteen-eighty-something-or-other has stuck with me for my entire life.

Strange how odd moments do that, and I’m sure you have some of your own, but I digress (Just for a change -Ed)

My point is, that whenever I find myself three quarters of the way through a job that has become…. shall we say, boring… then I find myself thinking of that line. Yesterday was a good example of this with my garage clearance and tidying excercise in full swing. Hot and thirsty work, and so enevitably, boring….

I thought of the fella in the flat cap, and said “Goes on smooth, seems to shrug off weather”. To the casual observer, naturally I would have appeared to be an imbecile talking to himself. The problem with this, is that they weren’t there, so they don’t get it. Perhaps if I said the “if a jobs worth doing” bit instead, they might not look at me as if I was talking Chinese, but where’s the fun in that? One day I’ll say it in the company of someone who saw the ad and gets it. At that moment the ad will find it’s rightful place in history as a “cult TV ad”

This bizarre train of thought I was riding, led me to hunt high and low across the interweb with our friend the Google. The result is a revelation. The Dulux ad lives….

Now pay attention, there are lots of interesting historical facts about this clip, although I want you to see the Ad first.

Skip to 2 minutes 15 seconds and enjoy….

By now, you’ll almost certainly have watched the whole thing rather than just the ad in question, which means that at 3 minutes and 48 seconds you will also have seen one of the most iconic chocolate ads ever made. I say iconic, because dad’s up and down the country would just love watching them…. Can’t think why.

Of course kids loved watching them too (they have chocolate in them) but in my world of shrugging off weather, I managed to enjoy morphing the lyrics a little. Flakes in our our house consisted of “only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate (which), tastes like chocolate that’s been tasted before”… Really not nice.

Also of note in this clip are the following facts. It’s from the 10th of June, 1984 just after the England v Brazil match, which England won 2-0. It also refers to Channel 4 showing the original logo for that then new station. It has an ad with the now super famous Hugh Laurie. It refers to the European elections of June the 14th and it has the “Central” TV network logo. Finally, and most importantly, its the ad break just before “Spitting Image”

As we’ve brought back everything else from the 80’s (Royal weddings, Conservative governments, Protests, Strikes and recessions) can we please, please, please bring back spitting image. It was the best use of rubber puppets to have a pop at he government that was ever made. But then, that’ll be the ICI Acrylic in it.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Categories TV

Tellybox Tantrums

No news this morning. Literally nothing. Switch on the TV and it just says “No or Bad Signal” emblazoned across the middle of it. How very tedious. It seems the BBC have packed up and gone home in our Freeview neck of the woods…

Ah! and then the little grey cells kick in and I can recall what has happened. It’s digital switchover day for the Ridge Hill transmitter (I am available for after dinner speaking should you find my topics of conversation as riveting as I can see they are!). All that’s needed is a quick retune and all should be well again. Not a bit of it!. What the ruddy-heck is occurring here? We have a couple of tellyboxes, so I go and have a fiddle with the other one to see if it’s unique to the first. Sure enough it shows the same initial problem – the disappearance of the BBC, but a retune of that one and everything is well. It’s starting to look like the problem could be with my 2005 model Humax.


Instead of giving up all hope though, let’s just give it the old “Full Factory Reset” on the off chance.. Press relevant menu option…. Hold Breath… Et Voila!!! Fixed. Sometimes technology is just too complicated even for itself.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Categories Tech, TV

Golfyball’s Austerity measures start here….

After my VAT ramblings and ravings yesterday, I very carelessly forgot to put my orange box back in the pile of oddments in the garage. So this morning finds me tripping over the damn thing, climbing on board and spouting on again.

Here I am carrying on where I left off.

….and another thing…. If austerity measures are good enough for the government, then they’re good enough for me!! I mean they should be concentrating on the tax evaders rather than penalising the tax payers, but two can play at that game. It’s now become my mission to re-examine every single expenditure I have and to reduce it where possible to see what can be saved without reducing my quality of living. This might be fun, and who knows we might both learn something.

My largest outgoing is a mortgage. Right now I can’t do much about this. It’s fixed rate and the redemption fee makes remortgaging prohibitive. It is actually my one biggest bug bear with the entire financial crisis. Interest rates are at an all time low and I’m saddled with almost 6%. On the plus side, I’ve only got another 6 months until the fixed period ends so you can expect interest rates to climb significantly by then. It’s just my luck.

Next item I’m going to tackle is the TV package. I’m a Sky World HD subscriber. Not so many moons ago this used to cost about 40 quid a month. Now with HD and our new friend “Mr 20% VA feckin T” thats climbed to in excess of £60 per month. It’s got to go. Obviously freeview is an option and is in fact what we have in the rest of the house (only having sky in the living room) but after much deliberation and research the answer for me is Freesat+ HD.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

The outlay in cost is going to be around £300, for a Humax Foxsat HD PVR but the saving is my Sky subscription fee every month. So 5 months will see it pay for itself, which means the real question is what’s the impact on the service itself? Over the last couple of months I’ve been paying close attention to what we watch which has helped me gauge what we need and it turns out that the impact to our viewing habits is almost nil, and in one case is actually improved.

Sky have over 30 HD channels and god knows how many other SD channels, but we regularly still only watch the major 5. Occasionally we dip into the sport, or movies, but generally speaking the Sky offerings themselves are pretty much neglected.

The beauty of the Freesat solution is what is can do that Sky can’t or simply will not. Sky are very possessive about content, even when it’s not theirs. With the Freesat box you can plug in external USB storage and copy recordings off the box for manipulation via a whole host of video editing applications. Furthermore, freesat now supports the BBC iPlayer, a beautiful piece of software that allows you to go back and watch any of the last 7 days BBC TV content on-demand, as well as a few other choice bits off BBC output. In the near future it will also have the ITV Player and 4OD which are essentially the same service but for both ITV and Channel 4.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

These services use the same front end interface for integration, but their content is delivered via your local broadband connection via a LAN connection on the back of the box. Yet more goodness awaits just around the corner with the launch of yet more HD channels beyond BBC One HD and ITV1 HD. The only downside I can see is the loss of 4HD which often has very watchable content and Sky News HD for when I want a more “News of the World” take on whatever is going on out there.

Of course, there is a little known (because Sky don’t really want you to know about it) offering from BskyB which enables you to watch all the “free-to-air” channels available on the platform. You need to have a free sky viewing card, which costs a mere £25. Sounds ideal doesn’t it? But there’s a catch. If you want to be able to record anything, you need a Sky+ subscription and that’s a tenner a month. Equally, you can’t move any of these recordings anywhere else. Seems stupid.

Put simply switching to FreeSat HD+ is a bit of a no-brainer and why I haven’t done it sooner is beyond me.

So that’s going to save me £720 per year and I’ve been making active noises about Amazon vouchers for birthday presents to help me fund the initial outlay for the box. Looking for a win-win situation here.

So what’s next to get the chop ??…. ah… my Tax Burden…. Tune in tomorrow. 🙂

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Categories BBC, Government, TV

And the winner is….

This evening sees the end, at least for another 9 months, of the terror that is the X-Factor. And thank heaven for that. So it’s not my honour, but perhaps my relief to announce the winner here and now, live on my blog so you can all get out and put a bet on to help top up your Christmas fund and not have to waste another two hours of your life sat in front of the telly. You won’t get that time back you know. Having said that the odds will be awful, so save your cash. Without further ado…
Really? Must we?… It’s like a sticking plaster on a hairy leg. Rip it off quick and the pain is harsh, but at least it’s short. In first place…. Simon “flat top blockhead high trousered v-neck t-shirted” Cowell.
You’ve got to hand it to him. This bloke is supposed to find new musical talent and get them noticed. That’s his job. What he’s done is turn his job into a TV show that makes millions.
Instead of him shuffling around the pubs and clubs of britain listening to acts in the hope of finding the next ‘big thing’ he’s convinced the acts to come to him. He’s let ITV film the entire process and persuaded the public that it’s not him deciding who is best, but them. Of course, if the public decide whose a good act, he has an instant popular artist before they’ve recorded a single track, or even signed a deal. The public are even paying to make the decision. Not only that but all the advertising for his new musical talent has been taken care of during the 3 month selection process. He’s now getting paid twice (at least) for just doing his job. Why don’t we all do this?
Well, the short answer is because it wouldn’t make very good television. But the long answer is, most of it’s already been done.
Take the two estate agents (Kirsty Conservative & Phil Tallchap) from ‘Location, location, location’ This is only ‘good’ (to use the term loosely) television because as a nation of nosey sods we get to look around other peoples houses, but again they are only doing their job of buying and selling houses.
There are countless (because I really can’t be arsed to count them all) TV chefs who instead of cooking food in restaurants, cook food on TV because the cameras are in their restaurants who are also busy getting paid twice. And with every TV series a chef does, a cookbook is sure to follow.
The book of the film of the t-shirt of the ashtray, of idea someone scratched on the back of an envelope while doing their day job and not actually working. In fact daytime TV seems to exist for these people along with Quincy (M.E.) and yet more Midsummer Murders. I know this because I looked at the schedules earlier in the week when writing about the revolting students… Sorry, I mean that the students that were revolting… Erm… Oh you know what I mean.
David Orange Dickinson the antiques dealer, more estate agents in ‘Homes under the hammer’ and a professional bear baiter – oops, I mean social worker, known as Jeremy Kyle. Its never ending, but the evil that is Cowell is most certainly thier king.
How do we get rid of him? We can’t vote him off. Or can we? There’s an Internet campaign to get “The Bird” (Have you heard the word about the bird?) to number one in the charts for Christmas so that Simon’s choice doesn’t. Well that must say something to the TV companies about how we feel about him?

The other things you should do… Dont vote on the show, never buy any music by any artist appearing on the show, or better yet, just stop watching. I know it’s difficult because we’re all so damn nosey, but you won’t die and you might actually learn something about real music. The next big problem is America. I’m sure I got this from wikileaks…

Just thank god we don’t live in the USA where the poor population are going to have the same… (I wanted to say television, but that would be unfair to John Logi Baird) …marketing machine foisted upon them. I’m off for Christmas lunch with me gran and the rest of the Wiltshire clan.
Enjoy your foggy Sunday and don’t watch the XFactor. Switch over and watch…. Oh god…. Really??? Strictly ???
Switch off the TV and go to the pub to drown your sorrows.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Categories Dining Out, Music, TV

Historic Pubs

108 years ago on the 16th of August 1902, a brand new pub opened up in Manchester. It was situated opposite Hardcastle’s Mill and named in honour of a well know local Lieutenant (Philip Ridley) after he came home safely from the second Boer War in South Africa. The Second Boer War erupted when diamonds and gold were discovered in Boer-controlled regions of the Transvaal.
Two of the more well known aspects of this war, were Robert Baden-Powell, (famous for starting up the scout movement – “Rover Scouting is a preparation for life, and also a pursuit for life.” – Baden-Powell, 1928.) who spent 217 days commanding the defence of the town of Mafeking.
Then there is The battle of Spion Kop in 1900. A Kop is the Dutch word for Hill, and most memorably used at “The Kop” at Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield ground, but it’s also been used at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane, Northampton Town’s County Ground Preston North End’s Deepdale, Leicester City’s Filbert St and later Walker’s Stadium, Coventry City’s Highfield Road, Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium, Woolwich Arsenal’s Manor Ground, Notts County’s Meadow Lane and Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park. After All, football is a kind of battle isn’t it.
Yet more connections to this area of Manchester exist. There’s another pub, “The Laughing Donkey” which can be found just around the corner from this one on “Omdurman Street” and Omdurman is a city in the east of Africa. In the “Battle of Omdurman” in 1898 (which actually took place in the nearby village of Kerreri), Lord Kitchener decisively defeated the Mahdist forces.  And there’s Inkerman Street named after the Battle of Inkerman in the Crimean war on the 5th of November 1854.
But back to the pub…   When it opened, the inaugural pints were pulled by the owner of the mill, Mr Charles Hardcastle ably assisted by Mabel Grimshaw. Mabel had inherited the entire street after Sir Humphrey Swinton passed away. Rumor has it that she was his mistress, hence her surprise acquisition upon the death of the local landowner. The Licensee was Jim Corbishley who previously ran a grocery shop. Jim and his wife Nellie ran the pub for 16 years until 1918 when it was taken on by George and Mary Diggins.
“Where is this going??” I hear you ask. “It’s not like Golfy to witter on aimlessly about such twaddle.  Oh, well, actually it, is… but that’s not the point”….  All I can say is “Bear with…”
George Diggins was a retired police sergeant and he and Mary ran the pub through the depression and right up until 1937 when they finally retired and moved off to Southport. It was at this point, that the most well known Landlady of all (at least in this establishment) moved in.
In 1937, the recently married Jack and Annie Walker took over. They were very happy here (for the most part) and when Jack sadly passed away in 1970, Annie was still to be found running the old place right up until 1983. Since then there’s been a whole host of Landlords and Land ladies… in the following order…
1983 – Fred Gee (Temporary Manager)
1984 – Billy Walker
1985 – Bet & Alec Gilroy
1995 – Jack and Vera Duckworth (with Alec Gilroy)
1998 – Natalie Barnes
2000 – Fred Elliott, Duggie Ferguson and Mike Baldwin
In 2006 the then Barmaid, Liz MacDonald took over with her son, Steve who ran the local Taxi firm and that is how things sit today.

So I’m sure by now, you know I’m blathering on about a fictional pub, The Rovers Return. It features in the long running british soap opera “Coronation Street” so named because the street was built in the year of the coronation of King Edward the VII (1902).  The pub was named after a real pub that existed in Shudehill, Withy Grove, Manchester and was named for the soldiers returning from the Boer War. It was knocked down in 1958.

This week, it’s on our TV screens every night in the form of the 50th Birthday celebrations for Coronation Street and what a storyline they’ve got!
I’m not one for soap operas in general, in fact I’d say they are an interesting form of escapism at best, and a total waste of time at worst. However, “Corrie” is the exception that proves the rule.
Eastenders is just arguing and misery, Brookside is who’s in bed with who and the odd murder, Emmerdale is…  well actually I have no idea, but it’s a poor cousin…  Corrie, is consistently funny, and that’s what keeps me coming back for a bit of a cheer up on a Monday, Wednesday & Friday unless there’s football on… or something else… It’s worked well for 50 years, so raise a glass of Newton and Ridley’s (long gone now that the pub is a Free House) and wish them all the best for another 50 years.

If you missed Monday’s all action drama (hardly any comedy for a change), I’d recommend a catch up here:
Finally for those of you looking for Corrie resources online:

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Categories Comedy, History, TV

Give This…

I can’t let today go by without writing about a musical release.  I’m not known for going on about my musical tastes, probably because they are so wide and varied.  I’ve been known to find the tuneful delight in a ruler being twanged on the edge of a desk.  I’ve also been known to serve detention for enjoying such (and I quote) “Such a bleedin’ racket!” but that’s a whole other story from a galaxy far far away.

I’m sure those of you that have read any of my tweets around this time of year will also know that I’m practically forced at gunpoint to watch the x-factor because I live in a house with two women. Before I go any further, I have to set the record straight on that point.  They don’t force me to watch it.  I could walk away. But it brings out the worst rubber-necking gene in many of us, myself included.  It’s such a terrible car crash, that as you drive by from BBC2 to Channel 4 you really shouldn’t look at it.  But the fascination has a pull over you that can’t be denied.  I hate it for that very reason, that even my immense will power can’t seem to stop it happening. Such is the way of things.

Over the last 15 years or so – or there abouts, I’ve been a Robbie Williams fan. There, I said it. Truth be told, I still am. Pretty sure I’ve got every album he’s made – there are good ones and bad ones. I’ve consistently listened to the noise he’s made which are completely packed to the brim with irony and I have no doubt, that that fact alone, plays a large part in my enjoyment of his catalog of work.

Anyone who’s lived in the UK in that period of time will of heard of him, and of course of his erstwhile nemesis, Gary Barlow.  The two of them were in a boy band together back in the 90’s. Gary wrote the songs, Robbie danced about at the back and acted like a bit of a twit. The problem was, Robbie had talent which Gary wasn’t letting out. There were words, and a bust up. Around 1996, Robbie went solo and the boy band broke up. Mr Williams went on to become a household name around the world, while Mr Barlow’s star faded. But not for too long.

In 2006 the boy band reformed without Robbie and this time they found great success. Robbie was starting his fade and the boot appears to have shifted foot. And so began a levelling of sorts. The two of them evened out somewhat….

Finaly, the two kids (for that is all they were when they started this journey) have grown up. They’ve met, talked, chatted, confessed and forgiven and we’ve arrived at an interesting point in their joint history to date.  Robbie has split with himself, citing musical similarities and has trotted off to join a boy band. Only now – they’re not boys… now they’re mates.

Robbie and Gary have given us this (albeit in Robbie’s name) presumably as his final hurrah before he split himself up. The opening lyric is all telling: “Now there’s three versions of this story, yours and mine and then the truth.”  It all comes across a bit brokeback mountain, but there’s those lumps of irony again. Not allowed to embed the video, so if you want to watch it, you’ll have to go here: YouTube

I’m sure by now, you’ve figured out where I”m going. The clue is in the title after all, and if you even had a passing glance at the Simon Cowell show last night, then it’s obvious.

The flip side to Robbie’s offering is Take That.  I can’t say I was a fan, but since they refomed in 2006 there’s no denying they’ve had some cracking tunes. And now they’ve got Rob on board, clearly they’re persuading me… to the point that I’ve bought the new album (released today) and I can honestly say; I am loving it. Poptastic.

Without further ado – here’s a link to the first single ( and here’s the video (sorry about the advert)

And here’s a link to the Album (

Of course, I can’t just leave it there… oh no. The cynic in me has a few words to say on the subject. Robbie’s carreer has been on the wane, what he needs is something popular to get him back on track… Do you think his management went… hmmm….  how about reforming Take That?….

Well, do you know what?  I couldn’t care less and in my heart of hearts I sort of doubt that’s case anyway. They’re making good songs which in turn are making good money. With the X-Factor wanting to launch yet another boy band at us, the timing is just perfect, at least from my perspective. I don’t want to see Mr Cowell force any more of his road kill on us.

So if you’re stuck for a present at Christmas for your loved one, you could do far far worse than Give This…. or Take That.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Categories Music, TV