Saturday, August 25, 2007


Saturday afternoon, I went to the cinema to see "The Simpsons Movie" with my nephew - almost as much of a Simpsons fan as I. 30 year age difference between us, but we were both laughing (me with a chesty rumble as I have a cold at the moment) at much the same things for much the same reasons. There were a couple of moments when the question "What does that mean?" could be heard, but he answered me politely...
We stayed until the very end of the credits, which was an adventure for him - it was the first time he had been the last person in a cinema and he was thrilled by the experience - especially when he saw the various bits in the credits (and in the soundtrack) that "We're the only people who have seen" He (and I) have been waiting ages for this film - he saw the trailer at (I think) the Wallace & Gromit film when it came out and has been asking me ever since to tell him when it was coming out. Now, of course, he wants to know when the sequel is due out... And all because of one word said by one of the main characters in a credits sequence!
On the way home, he kept on singing the "SpiderPig" song. No-one else in the family quite understands why he and I love The Simpsons as much as we doo, but then they gave up on me when I first got into Star Trek, and he's following a similar path with Star Wars (you could say he is my young Padawan...)
Now, of course, it's "When is the DVD coming out and can I get it for Christmas?"

Said by both of us at the same time, to the bemused stare of his father/my brother, who came to pick us up from the cinema.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Sound of His Voice

(DS9 fans will get the paraphrase of an excellent Season 7 episode!)
My speaking voice isn't that hot. I've discovered that there is a slightly sibilant tone, and I sound way more 'Esturary' than I thought. The reason I've suddenly realised this is that I have been recording a podcast covering Non-Sport trading cards (one of my many collecting/hoarding activities!)
I suspect this is something that happens to everyone the first time they hear a recording of their voice - I had the idea that my voice was posher, clear and well enunciated; now I understand why some people have problems understanding what I say!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Samantha Live!

Well, I'm back from the Clue recording and it went about as swimmingly as it could have! There are pictures, but the ones taken in the theatre are decidedly blurry, due to the zoom on my camera not being sufficient, me not being used to the various settings on the thing and the fact that one of the ushers was a little too strict about the 'No photography' thing. Still, I'll post a couple at the end.

Now, if you don't want to know who the guest panellist was until you hear the radio broadcast (in June), look away now.

Stephen Fry.

Stephen Flippin' Marvellous Fry

Sir Stephen of the Fry-ness.

Result! I was hoping for Jeremy Hardy (given we were at the home of the English National Opera, that would have been apt) by Sir Fry-ness was a more than acceptable alternative, given the fact that I'm a huge fan (and even wrote a letter to him, to which he wrote a really nice reply!)

Anyway, to start at the beginning - I got into London at around 11am and proceeded to Mornington Crescent as something of a pilgrimage (I thought it appropriate - after all, I would, hopefully, be watching a game that night and so seing the place for real would be the perfect start to the day)

On the platform, having just got off the Northern Line train.

I went up to street level (by lift - MC is one of the few remaining Tube stations with lift access), went through the ticket gates and saw - rain. Chucking it down, it was. Luckily, I had my brolly, so I dived out, and crossed the road to take the following pictures:

The Station from the pub doorway opposite (umbrella framing device entirely my own!)

A slightly damp me in front of the station - the thinning hair is purely a trick of the light (he wrote hopefully...)

I went back into the station, having first noticed the statue in the pedestrial area in front of the station:Closer inspection reveals it to be of Richard Cobden (link to Wikipedia)

What I forgot to do, of course, was take a picture of the Blue Plaque erected in the memory of Willie Rushton (mainly because it wasn't until searching Wikipedia for the Richard Cobden link above that I realised there WAS a Blue Plaque! Rats! - that means another trip in due course...)

I re-entered the station to continue my journey around town (pausing only to take more pictures of myself:

That's the last of the pictures of me, I promise)

I killed a few hours at the British Museum (which was heaving - unsurprisingly, given it was a Bank Holiday Monday and it was still raining) and Oxford Street (where I found a die-cast Dalek keyring is, of all places, Marks and Spencer - my local branch had a few before Christmas, but I hadn't bought one because I was hoping for reductions in the January sale - of course, no Dalek keyrings were in the sale) I did hope to find the Dalek Egg Cup M&S did for Easter, but no luck.

Eventually, I went off to King's Cross station to meet up with my friend, and (after a most enjoyable Indian meal near Charing Cross Road) we walked over to the London Coluseum. Huge crowd assembled in front of the theatre - a good mix of ages, which slightly surprised me (though it really shouldn't have done) . On a counter in the lobby were SIGNED copies of Humphrey Lyttleton's anecdotal memoirs "It Just Occurred to me - The Thoughts of Chairman Humph" ( for sale - so I bought one.

Entering the auditorium, and finding our seats, on stage were the tables covered in a BBC Radio 4 sheet, and (at the back) a piano:

A mirky pic I know, but you can just make out that there are 6 microphones - two each for the teams, one for Humph and one for - yes - Samantha! So, the rumours that Samantha is a completely imaginary entity can be dashed right now - what other proof does one need? :)

Jon Naismith came on stage and did a little 'warm-up', telling a pretty awful joke that made the audience laugh in much the way you'd expect a pretty awful joke to do - he asked for a show of hands to see who in the audience were first timers to a recording and it appeared to me that almost the entire audience were newbies! (that audience, by the way, was in the region of 2400 - according to Naismith, the largest audience (not including the radio listeners) they had yet performed to - I'm proud to be a part of Clue history!)
Next, Naismith introduced the teams; huge cheer after every name, and a seriously huge cheer for Fry. Next came Colin Sell and finally, Humphrey himself. Samantha was slightly delayed, attending to a few personal matters at the back.

The show started. I won't discuss all the rounds, or what songs were performed (though I will say that Stephen Fry got almost a standing ovation for his effort in "One Song To The Tune Of Another") but at one point, Humphrey made a comment about having celebrated his 86th birthday two weeks ago and Colin Sell struck up with the tune to "Happy Birthday", and the audience sang along. If you have never heard "Happy Birthday" sung by nearly 2400 people in a theatrical setting...

One round that didn't seem to do very well was an attempt at a "Life on Mars" spoof, which I suspect will either be dropped completely, or will be severely cut.

An interval followed (mad dash for the bar) then the second half, and the second week's show with the moment everyone had been waiting for - Mornington Crescent! This match involved a new Mornington Crescent computer game joining in - if it gets left in the broadcast edition, regular listeners will recognise the voice of the computer (and that's all I am saying)

A couple of pictures of the cast, though as stated above, they are not particularly good:

(L-R) Stephen Fry, Colin Sell, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Humphrey Lyttleton, Jon Naismith (Samantha had to slip off at this point to attend to an urgent call of nature), Graeme Garden and Barry Cryer.

And finally, a shot of the laser Display Board (I think being held by Samantha; a stagehand was having difficulties with it, and she had to pull it off):

It may be difficult to make out, but the display shows "Kingdom"...

So. I've seen Clue live. Would I do it again if I got the opportunity? Yes! Being in the presence of so many people all determined to heartily enjoy themselves, makes the whole experience 10 times more fun, being able to join in the traditional audience responses without having people in the home/office/bus look at you askance is a great relief! I may even try to get to the tour the cast is doing with Jeremy Hardy ( a sort of "Greatest Hits" - not for broadcast and being performed at a number of theatres in August and September, with the possibility of more dates next year)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

This time tomorrow...

...I'll be at the London Coluseum, ejnoying the early stages of an "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" recording. The time has dragged since I managed to get the tickets, and now the day is finally upon me. What to do before the show? Well, I'm meeting up with a friend and we're probably going for a curry beforehand (if you have the seats behind me, my apologies in advance!) but I'm not meeting him until late afternoon, so I have most of the day to kill. Suddenly, a light bulb appeared above my head (I know it did, I was it reflected in my monitor!) - a pilgrimage to that holiest of Clue holies, Mornington Crescent. I shall be going via Tower Hill, which may well leave me open to accusations of going deliberately into nip, but I don't care.
Yesterday, I planted some Tomatoes.
Tomorrow, I see Clue and visit a nondescript (probably) Tube station.
On Tuesday, I await the Gas Meter Man.
It's an exciting life I lead.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I'm Jolly I HAVE Got A Clue!

Woo-Hoo! I have been a fan of the BBC Radio 4 show "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue" for years, but have never, until now, been able to get tickets to a recording. Until now, that is! Either I haven't been around on the day, or I haven't been able to get through to the ticket office, or something has come up to prevent me from getting to hear the show, which stars Humphrey Littleton, Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graham Garden and, of course, the delectable (and near legendary)Samantha.
Full report after the recording in May. As long as something doesn't come up in the meantime of course...

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How to build up your DVD collection on a budget 2...

Previously in this blog, I wrote about the proliferation of 'free' DVD's given away with the UK National newspapers - well, they are still appearing (though not, perhaps, as frequently as before) - recent films include "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and the complete ITV adaptation of "Doctor Zhivago" starring Kiera Knightley.
Since that earlier post, there have been a lot more 'partworks'; sets that are built up over a number of weeks by collecting tokens published daily. The Sun/News of the World and The Daily Mule[1] are especially good for this - recently The Currant Bun did a series of "TV Heroes" (mostly the same old reruns of Frost, Prime Suspect and John Thaw episodes) and The Mule was running that stallwart of New Year Partwork magazines, a series of improving your body and mind discs (including Yoga, Pilates etc)
I've avoided those, concentrating on Films (which this year, in addition to the previously mentioned titles, have included "Nuns on The Run" and "Privates on Parade") I'm hoping for another couple of Carry On movies (and, perhaps, the one TV Christmas special the Daily Express hasn't so far released as a freebie!), one or more Hollywood classics, some more 'Art house' from The Independent and other interesting stuff that I wouldn't have bought but which Im more than happy to add to my collection for the cost of a newspaper!
The collection is now in excess of 100 discs - and I have actually watched some of them!

[1] Steve Bell 'If...' reference :)


First post of the new year! And its something relatively trivial, but it does show that good customer relations STILL exist!
Before Christmas, I bought a box of Twinings English Breakfast tea bags - partly because I had run out of the usual PG Tips (I had been given a big box the previous Christmas when there was a Wallace and Gromit heat sensitive mug!), partly because there was a special offer on the price in my local supermarket and mostly because it came with rather nice, free, metal tea caddy (and I'm a sucker for 'free' stuff) I like English Breakfast - it's a bit stronger and more tea-ish than the ordinary blended stuff.
Unfortunately, when I got it 'ome, I found that two bags were stuck to the bottom of the box - some of the packaging glue had leaked, and in trying to remove the bags, I tore them, spilling tea everywhere.
Later that evening, just in case they might be interested, I left a message on the Twinings website, suggesting they might want to check their gluing machine. I was emailed the next day, asking for my details and suggesting that I might be sent something back for my inconvenience. I was pleased to get the return email and, thinking I might get a couple of tea bags as replacements, thought no more of it. Last week, I got a hand signed letter from Twinings explaining the problem, apologising for the inconvenience and (again) mentioning that something would be sent to me - this week, the something arrived - two boxes of English Breakfast teabags! Woo Hoo!
I'll be writing a proper letter of thanks to Twinings, but I thought I'd mention it here (not that anyone reads this I suppose!) This is a company that responds to customer feedback and (as a result) encourages brand loyalty. Thanks Twinings!