Cassandra’s Dream (2007)

Dear oh dear oh dear. What has happened to Woody Allen?

He’s turned into Bernard Matthews, that’s what. Except Mr Matthews takes rather unpalatable ingredients and fashions them into a product consumers are willing to swallow. In Mr Allen’s case, he has taken some rather good actors and mechanically reprocessed all the talent out of them.

Not since Dick Van Dyke swept London’s chimneys has a cinema audience been subjected to cockney accents so gratingly unconvincing as Ewan McGregor’s and Colin Farrell’s. They run like a thread through the whole movie which, apart from its value to film students as an exercise in how not to make films, has no redeeming features. Continue reading

Rice price not nice

The price of rice is rocketing worldwide. This is a very worrying trend, particularly for those countries where rice is a staple.

Here in the UK, there isn’t (yet) a shortage. But rice could completely disappear from supermarket shelves. Don’t believe me? It’s already happened with macaroni.

I don’t have the energy for this

I live in England, but I buy my electricity and gas from a French company. (I have just about got my head around this bizarre reality of modern times.) Yesterday I received a reply to a complaint I sent them two months ago. I had asked why we get visits by separate gas and electricity meter readers, with annoying frequency, when they give me (a) a ‘dual fuel’ discount and (b) Nectar points for reading my own meters. They said they didn’t read my meters, that was done by another company.

Before privatisation, the meters were read separately. After privatisation, the meters are read separately (by another company!). Nothing physically changed. All the cables and pipes are the same. Having different companies selling us energy is just an accounting construct to introduce competition. I understand that.

But what good has this change really done? Continue reading

Yeah butt no butt

Garden centres stock them in a range of sizes and colours. You can even get water butts like giant water bottles these days. A big plastic joke for the back garden. Or why not go the other way, and get one disguised as a section of stone wall?

You will need the accessories too, of course. A stand, and the adaptor bit that goes in the downpipe to collect all that precious water for your plants. So you can end up spending a bit of money and consuming a few kilos of plastic – but for what?
Continue reading

Eew! It’s Gordon Ramsay

The ubiquitous Gordon Ramsay redefined the term ‘foul-mouthed’ on his show ‘The F Word’ last night, feeding James Corden ‘Chinese delicacies’ such as chicken feet and fish eyeball. Shrieks of disgust from the lad’s family, of course.

But – hang on a minute – why exactly are certain animal parts disgusting? It’s purely cultural if these are indeed delicacies in some parts of the world. If you eat pig but not horse, liver but not brains, snails but not slugs, prawns but not cockroaches perhaps you can understand that vegetarians might be sickened by an entire show about preparing and eating animals – and not just by the cheap laugh section.

They keep moving the goalposts, but why?

Whilst watching Sale Sharks get trounced by London Irish 17-7 yesterday I wondered if anyone in the history of sport had ever actually moved the goalposts in order to gain an unfair advantage? “Hey ref! Are you blind? They have just moved the goalposts!”

There are probably more efficient and less conspicuous ways of cheating, one would have thought.

Body Worlds 4 Exhibition

WBP_Guitarrist_02Yesterday I went along – with some trepidation – to the special exhibition running at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. Dubbed ‘The Original Exhibition of Real Human Bodies’, it’s a fascinating revelation of human and animal anatomy.

The rather creepy looking Dr Gunther von Hagens has developed a way to embalm real corpses using plastic. Except they don’t look like corpses when he has finished posing them. Some are playing sport or even a game of poker. One tableau has a female cadaver lying on a slab. Leaning over her with her heart in his hand is a pathologist equally stripped of skin and fat to reveal his musculature and skeleton. Continue reading

Get up off the dirty floor!

I heard this admonishment in my head this morning – a sound bite from my childhood, triggered by the sight of someone sitting waiting for a bus with her feet in the gutter.

I think it says something about a person’s self-respect; if you don’t mind being on the pavement amongst the litter, chewing gum and dog shit then you don’t really care much about yourself. If you prefer getting your clothes damp and dirty instead of enduring a few minutes standing up then you must be quite lazy.
Continue reading

Sooty and Sweep – who knew?

I have an embarassing confession to make. I think it must be a world record. The penny has just dropped. Today I realised for the first time that the names of the glove puppets Sooty and Sweep are references to chimney sweeping!

How could I not make the connection? Well, I hope it’s because I first watched the Sooty Show when I was too young to realise their names were themed, as it were. They got categorised in my brain that way. Either that, or I have special needs.

I know people called April, May and June. I’m a Mark! In context, these names’ dual meanings aren’t intrusive – at least not to me. I don’t go ‘June – that’s the name of a month.’

I once knew someone called Mercedes. That was a bit strange.