Friday, 25 May 2007

The Point of Pantomime

What two things do Charlotte Church, Myleene Klass, Selma Hayek and Emma Bunton have in common with my wife? Well, neither Selma nor my wife have had a hideous and painful pop music career. Only Charlotte is Welsh. And, obviously, only one of them is stunningly beautiful and incredibly talented. But enough about my wife.

The first thing is that they are all about five months pregnant. Which is wonderful, of course, but which also proves that they were all at a bit of a loose end in December of last year. For the four of them I have actually named, this clearly means that they were not busy enough at the time. This is not surprising. They are all, nominally (as anyone who has seen The Charlotte Church Show will testify, very nominally) in the entertainment business. But if you are working in that world, there isn't a lot to do come December. All of the Christmas stuff is recorded months in advance. Christmas concerts are similarly booked far ahead. There's nothing for a D list celebrity to do but sit at home, twiddle her thumbs and - so it would seem - open her legs.

Unless, of course, she can get a job in pantomime.

Let us get one thing straight from the start, I have nothing at all against pantomime. It is a fine British institution which, like cricket, has the added virtue of being completely incomprehensible to most Americans. It can trace its history back for hundreds of years (no, I'm not going to explain it, don't you know how to use Google yet?). It also, very helpfully, keeps talented but cringemakingly dull comedians off our television screens. In fact, I doubt that the likes of Russ Abbott or Bobby Davro have done any other work for at least a decade, whilst I'll bet that it is only the prospect of playing the Good Fairy each December that keeps June Whitfield alive.

The second thing that all of these ladies have in common, then, is that none of them appeared in pantomime last Christmas. Which leads me to the last good thing about panto: It stops minor celebrities breeding.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

The world's most prescient teacher

Mornings. Who needs 'em? They only exist to ruin a perfectly good night's sleep. The world would be a better place if the working day started at 1pm and ended at about 4pm.

Or, at least, that's my opinion. There are some strange, perverted, souls out there who actually relish getting up early in the morning. They go running (ick), swimming (double ick) and even get into the office early (triple ick with carrot lumps in it). Who are these people and why do they want to torture themselves like this?

Even more puzzling is what these people get up to when they are doing all these bizarre acts. Clearly, entertainment is a bit thin on the ground at that time in the morning, largely due to the fact that all of the talented people are still in bed. Which leaves them a choice of children's TV (being up with the kids doesn't count as perverse, because you have so little choice in the matter, you might as well be a slave) or breakfast TV, or morning radio. So far as the latter is concerned, how anyone can listen to Nicky Campbell at 7am without wanting to throttle the smug Scottish scrote I don't kn... actually, that's a bad example, you want to throttle Nicky Campbell at any time of the day or night. Which leaves the huge stinking pile of excrement that is breakfast television.

Breakfast television. A concept as wrong as having Coco Pops for supper, only not as much fun. The worst thing about it is the presenters, all fakely cheerful, smiling away like they wouldn't rather be tucked up in bed, enjoying a spot of gentle self abuse. The uber-turd among these turds has to be Fiona Phillips, a woman who has made an entire career out of being a simpering nitwit. Seemingly unencumbered by anything remotely approaching a braincell, the mornings of millions have been ruined by the sight of this woman drooling over some minor celebrity, giggling as if their every utterance was the funniest thing she ever heard. Fair play to her, it is something of an achievement to be more irritating than the supremely smug Eammon Holmes, but it's not one you would want to put on your cv.

Fiona Phillips has been in the news a lot recently. Apparently, she was regularly spanked as a schoolgirl, despite - according to her - never doing anything wrong. [There are links to this story, but the sites carrying it are not necessarily the best for innocent eyes, so I'm not going to post those links here. If you want to find them, just google the name and the word 'slipper'. On your own head - or indeed rear - be it.]

La Phillips' claim to be entirely innocent in this rings especially hollow. For one thing, no teenager ever thinks they did anything wrong. But more importantly, perhaps this teacher had the gift of foresight. Maybe, just maybe, she was being spanked for her crimes yet to come.

A new way to read

My brother in law, Pat, has a blog of his own. I'd give you the url but, frankly, it's incomprehensible to anyone with an ordinary IQ. You see, Pat works for one of the world's biggest IT companies and the whole blog is written in some strange language understood only by higher beings and - possibly - the socially dyslexic.

(Actually, that's not quite true. I understood the post about coming home from holiday and deleting the contents of your inbox rather than read 1800 new messages - though you would think that an IT company would have a better spam filter)

You'll understand, then, why it was something of a surprise to discover that Pat had been reading one of my blogs. And I was even more surprised to discover that he kept reading it. Then I found out how he did it. Google have this thing called Google Reader, which I had never heard of. I don't understand how it works or anything like that, but if you go to you can set it up to automatically download your favourite sites every time they are updated. You can also get news and sports news, jokes and - though God knows why you would want this - an ice hockey blog.

All of which means that the truly masochistic can now get The Velvet Bear, Skiver's Gigs and You Called Your Kid WHAT? straight to their desktop every time I update them. And that my sister married a masochist.