Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fear of a Blank Planet

Next year, blog titles will be surreal rather than 99% relating to the music I'm listening to.

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I don't know if stopping smoking has made my tolerance for alcohol unimaginable, but I drank two bottles of Shiraz last night - 13½% - in about 6 hours and woke up this morning with a slight ache behind the eyes. I didn't even feel remotely drunk, apart from during Doctor Who, when I could quite easily have gone to sleep. However, I'm not sure it was the wine that was making me sleepy; the wife's verdict of last night's episode was quite succinct. Shit.

I've always struggled with DW X-Mas specials; I tend to feel stuffed, half-pissed and sleepy, therefore can never remember much about them at all. Last night I was very alert, having not stuffed myself and still only ¾ of a way through my first bottle of red. Yet the sleep wanted to come, despite it looking pretty amazing. It suffered from several things - a naff story, a poor shark and not enough Amy Pond. It was, a big disappointment and that seems to fit in nicely with my opinion of Moffat's run so far - so no surprises there.

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I remember when Christmas Day TV was the highlight of the year. Now it's pretty much a load of gnarly old wank. Our TV was on pretty early; we watched bits of Singin' in the Rain, then it got turned off and I put on Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas CD and then Classic FM for some carols. We then took the dogs for a walk, came home saw a bit of the Ronnie Corbett tribute thing, which was slightly disappointing, but the Egg's Box £3.60 gag was stupendous!

Then it was the Who crap, followed by a repeat of Tuesday's Top Gear and then, what has been the highlight of this festive season for us so far, we finished watching the last 3 episodes of Misfits (although we still have the Christmas special to watch tonight). This has been a quite brilliant TV series, which we missed when it was first on and I decided on a whim to download both series last week. We have watched 3 episodes a night for the last 4 nights and have found very little to fault it (and even the faults we found were counterbalanced by the superb scripts and the increasingly dark tone the series has taken).

It has been described as Heroes crossed with Skins, but that is actually damning it with faint praise. Heroes was pretty much shit and after watching Misfits, Skins is nothing like what real teenagers are like. Misfits is quite a brilliant observation of what kids are really like in today's world; Skins thinks it is, but is obviously written by older adults who think they know what its like to be an adolescent. There is so much in Misfits that makes you want to cringe or can't actually believe, but it has a ring of truth around it that, the at times far too melodramatic, Skins is missing. Robert Sheehan as the fuckwitted immortal Nathan is a revelation, while Iwan Rheon as the creepy Simon is a far better character than you imagine he's going to be. In fact, over 12 episodes, the writer has developed these characters so well it is no wonder it won a BAFTA. It's also a bit rude, both verbally and sexually and has gone from being essentially a bit of a comedy to a dark and nasty thing.

I cannot recommend it more.

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We've got a pretty busy week coming up, which is why we did our usual thing of making sure that Chez Hall is a no-go zone for the big day and the Boxing one. We have a full house on Tuesday and Thursday, we're out on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and then we'll have a few days to recuperate before we both go back to work.

My return to work is going to be unusual; mainly because I won't know how long I'll be there before I become a victim of the austerity drive. In reality, it might be a strange return to work in many ways; for starters, I'll be in a new office with new colleagues to get to know; I have nearly 20 days holiday to take before the beginning of March, I have a staggered return to work, so I'll be part time for nearly a month and then I might be out of a job by March anyhow. So, going back to work might not be so much as going back to work, more like winding things up at work...

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I did a semi-Samaritan act on Christmas Eve. I was sitting in my office getting ready to go to bed when I heard a strange noise out front. It sounded exactly like what it was, a man blowing into his hands to warm them up. I did a sort of double take, to be honest, because the rather big man standing under the lamp post out front was wearing just a T shirt and was obviously very, very drunk. I watched him stagger down the road, slip on the ice and land on his arse, struggle to get to his feet and then lean on a car and do the same blowing into his hands as he did outside my house. He looked cold and quite worse for wear. Someone over the road, leaned out of their window and asked him if he was all right, but he waved them away and waddled down the icy street a bit more.

By this time I had gone to the spare bedroom to follow his progress as it offers a better view of the street. The guy who leant out of his window was gone and the drunk was lurching further down the street. He slipped again, this time grabbing the wing mirror of a parked white van and managed to keep himself on his feet. He blew into his hands again, shook his head and started off again. He rounded the corner at the end of our part of the road and went over again. This time he didn't get up as quick and looked in distress. I had just got out of the bath and the temperature was -8 outside. I wasn't about to go out in it, but I decided that perhaps the police should be made aware. I would have hated to discover that a frozen body was found on Christmas Day just round the corner from my house.

I called the local nick and spoke to an officer who sounded so full of seasonal good will I thought perhaps his children had all been murdered by a paedophile. "Not a lot we can do about it, sir."
"What if he dies of hypothermia?"
"That'll teach him to go out and get drunk without wearing the appropriate winter clothing."
"Well, I thought you'd better know, as I would feel guilty if his frozen body was found and no one informed you." This seemed to stir some form of humanity in the man.
"I'll inform the local patrol car, perhaps they can take a drive round your way, see if there's any sign of him."

I've not heard of anyone found dead on my road or around it.

But, spare a thought for the family of the Bristol woman, Joanna Yeates whose body was found yesterday. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, that family, the woman's fiancée and people who knew her will probably never view Christmas in the same light ever again.

Also, Elisabeth Beresford, the creator of the Wombles, has died. Expect Mike Batt and Bernard Cribbins to lead the tributes!

★ ★

Early days, but waking up this morning to discover that England had humiliated the Aussies by bowling them out for 98 and then managing to race to 157 for 0 was a great way to kick Boxing Day off. Hopefully they will wrap this test up PDQ and retain the Ashes. Just the tonic for the end of a crap year!


  1. You're wrong about Moffatt, Who, and last night's episode, but you're spot on about Misfits.

    (And by extension, you're right about Skins, and isn't it creepy how the TV journos fall over themselves loving it, grown adults getting so much enjoyment out of a show about children having sex. Brr.)

  2. So, K, the fact that the Who special looked great but made no sense at all means I'm wrong?
    What was the purpose of having all those people on ice, especially Jenkins (as she only had 7 days left to live); there was no purpose for it, they were not making Gambon any money, they were taking up space and there was no explanation for it.
    There wasn't enough Amy Pond in it and all she did was echo the sentiments of the Doctor. Rory might not have been in it at all. Why a shark? Why not a monster?
    Moffatt seems to have decided that the one major rule of Who, that time cannot be changed, has to go, so that he can tinker around with all manner of things. The Time Lords raison detre was to observe not to tinker - which made the Doctor different from them, but even he never changed time, always stating that it caused paradoxes. Tenant made a big issue of this with Billie Piper in the episode with her father.
    Plus, various people have mentioned other real plot problems with the Xmas special, but it is already disappearing from my memory because it was *that* memorable. If I can remember any more I'll let you know :)