Tuesday, 15 February 2005

Dr Who

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‘Why the hell do you love this shitty program so much?’, I recall one of my friends saying as I stuck on my video of ‘Day of the Daleks’ for about the sixth time in as many weeks. I didn’t bother replying, the scenes of robotic monsters destroying Audley End house with ray guns spoke for themselves, and for a hyperactive twelve year old the format was perfect. Star Trek was distinctly sub-standard. The whole show was essentially an allegory for the Cold War, with the U.SS Enterprise cruising the galaxy in search of planets to purge with American values and show them ‘the Earth thing called kissing’. The Klingons represented the U.S.S.R, humourless aliens with Cornish pasties on their heads that one could respect but find it incredibly hard to co-exist with because of their warlike culture. The appearance of one on the bridge of the Enterprise in ‘The Next Generation’, reflected the new atmosphere of perestroika and glasnost (see also the speech at the end of ‘Rocky IV’, and ‘Red Heat’). The Vulcans seemed to represent the Europeans, beings full of wisdom and logic, but whom nobody ever listened to. The Romulans were the nations of Asia, whom no-one from the western world can ever really understand if Manga is anything to go by. The last time I watched one of those infernal cartoons, it featured a ‘penis monster’ with phallic tentacles, spaying semen everywhere and impaling innocent bystanders. I think that particular piece of ‘light entertainment’ proves once and for all that there is such a thing as an over-active imagination.

Doctor Who more reflected the British ‘Island’ mentality and the fear of invasion that belies our national xenophobia. The universe was full of menace, from alien races bent on destruction, giant maggots in coalmines, and the threat of nuclear annihilation from the squabbling superpowers. The shows premise was simple but effective, take a machine that can travel anywhere, one eccentric hero and a couple of gormless companions, and stick them in a claustrophobic environment with a monster. In black and white, the creaky sets and the piss-poor special effects were masked by the monochrome, and the episodes were able to convey the same sense of horror as serials like ‘Quatermass and the Pit’. With the transition into colour, the cracks were there for all to see, but somehow it didn’t matter a jot, watching aliens smash up seventies Britain was just too much fun.

And now to the new series. I didn’t get around to watching it for ages because Saturday night is normally reserved for cheap Stella and traipsing round the streets of Nottingham in search of a pub that stays open till one. When I finally did watch it, I had this to say

‘I don’t want to seem like a ‘fanboy’, that slightly sad being that rants on endlessly about ‘the inner meaning behind Star Trek episodes’ and who studiously memorises the script of each and every episode of their chosen T.V series. The fact is that I am like that, my brain is full of worthless information about the Tom Baker era and I wasted vast amounts of my teenage years reading the plots of every single episode. I’m not proud about it but I did. And now I feel incensed about an issue that I strongly doubt anyone else will care about: upon returning from lectures and settling down with the News of the World, I read the following and nearly spilt my coffee

“They’re the hardest baddies of all time of all time, but today we reveal just what’s inside the Daleks’ tough outer shell – a gooey, one eyed blob!. (big deal, that was revealed back in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ in the seventies). Things look bleak for the world in 2012 when the last surviving Dalek breaks loose from captivity, drains all power from the state of Utah and becomes a genius by memorising the Internet(!). As it goes on a killing rampage the doc and assistant Rose played by Billie Piper (worst piece of casting since Bonnie Langford) arrive by Tardis to do battle. But when Rose touches the Alien it soaks up her DNA and DEVELOPS FEELINGS(!!!!). An insider told us “It can’t last, but incredibly the Dalek stops exterminating and just sort of opens up to Rose”.

Dalek

When the F**k did Dr Who start turning into Dawson’s Creek. The Dalek is a British institution, it supposed to be the most evil being in the galaxy and convey a sense of menace in the way only a Neo-Nazi dustbin armed with a sink-plunger can. What next, cuddly Cybermen?, Sea Devils go through the menopause?, Davros has a mid-life crisis?. And how the hell can anything turn into a genius after memorising the internet. The net mostly consists of Porn, miss-information and turgid blogs where people post pretentious song lyrics and witter on about how ‘creative’, ‘artistic’ and ‘misunderstood’ they are (for a prime example of this, go here ). This is a situation that’s only going to get worse by 2012. Last week I had to put up with farting aliens with a vinegar allergy and the most improbable piece of hacking since ‘Independence Day’, and now pacifist Daleks. Much more of this and I’m going to smash up my T.V.’

Certain things should not be tampered with, Nelson’s Column, the lyrics of ‘Jerusalem’, the Queen’s minge, the tax dodging status of elitist public schools– if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Monday, 14 February 2005

Careers, Catholicism and Crapness

Aren’t Careers advisers great?. I could have gone into that interview -having stopped on the way to butcher several small children, taken dangerous amounts of intravenous drugs in a bus shelter and pissed in a charity shop- confessed all to the man, and I still would have come out feeling all rosy and good about myself. I could have been Charles Manson, and the chap would still have said something like ‘you have great people skills’. Apparently I have ‘a fantastic academic record’, I ‘attend the best law school in the country’ and I managed to get an interview without having worked in a law firm, which shows that I have ‘great commercial experience’. We shall leave aside for a moment, the fact that I am a bit of a twat. The main thing I was told, is that for the purposes of job-hunting in the immediate future, I must cease to be the Humphrey Clarke we all know and loathe. I shall become a career focused professional, my life planned out with Prussian precision and my C.V brimming with invented positions of responsibility and business ‘buzzwords’ like ‘portfolio’ and ‘focused’. Things like my chronic fear of using the telephone, my tendency to slack off and my lack of serious ambition can be swept under the carpet, I am the personification of ‘Business’ once again.

Television really has gone downhill recently. Upon turning on the ‘Devils Device’ a couple of nights back I was confronted with the spectacle of a naked pre-op transsexual, with oversized breasts and a giant wedding tackle. The next scene in the program showed the member being sliced apart by plastic surgeons. Lets look up ‘entertainment’ in the dictionary shall we. Entertainment ,‘Something that amuses, pleases, or diverts’, isn’t it stretching the definition a bit to call seeing someone’s fruit and veg being cut up entertainment?. What’s next, one wonders, celebrity autopsies?, abattoir game shows?, televised badger baiting?. Maybe I should become the next Mary Whitehouse, and pen a series of letters to Channel Five, expressing my ‘outrage’ and ‘indignation’, although that would probably make me the very defintion of a self-righteous prick.

As I look back over my former entries, I see that I have been a bit harsh on poor old John Paul II, I mean just because someone takes a contrary position to you doesn’t mean you should rejoice in their death. I suspect I was irritated by the sickening amount of adulation poured in his direction from most of the world’s media, I felt similarly peeved when Diana died and became the patron saint of dysfunctional women. Now we have a pope who holds the same views and is intent on following the same policies as John Paul, and yet he is being scorned because he isn’t very charismatic. If the last pope was so great then what’s wrong with a carbon copy. As I think I’ve said elsewhere, I never understood why the Catholic Church can’t preach abstinence and say that use of barrier contraceptives is ok. In my opinion, condoms actually promote abstinence because the infernal things are so hard to get on. By the time you’ve extracted the instrument from its impregnable packaging and rolled it on, you have usually lost your erection, your dignity and, worst of all, the intended recipient has lost all interest. This is not only incredibly irritating but pretty sound theologically I’d imagine. Besides, casting my mind back to my Religious Instruction lessons, Onan’s sin appears to have been his failure to conduct the levirate, not the coitus interruptus. It seems ludicrous to be preaching abstinence to the Africans, a large number of whom are in the habit of walking round in not very much at all if the pseudo-pornographic National Geographic is anything to go by.

My School

My dad sent me to this Catholic School to put me off religion, and I found that most of their doctrines were unsound. During a classroom discussion we were informed by my R.I teacher (pictured below) that the theory of evolution was completely wrong. ‘But sir’, I piped up, ‘Its in all the scientific text books’. ‘Completely wrong’ the teacher sagely replied, ‘I mean if you took a squirrel and threw it in the ocean, then it wouldn’t just suddenly evolve gills and swim away would it’.

My R.I teacher

His argument was brilliant. To this day I get amusing images in my head of him standing on a boat and chucking squirrels in the sea to see if Darwin was really right. Being an atheist makes more sense to me. All you have to do is mock other peoples superstition, make belated comments occasionally about ‘believing in something’ to make you feel better about your steadily ebbing mortality, and then, miraculously find Jesus on your deathbed. Halleluiah.

I finally got to see the new series of Doctor Who last week and was horrified to discover it was full of flatulent aliens. Does anyone else find fart jokes chronically unfunny?. Maybe years of boarding school where I was perennially held down and farted on, have conditioned me to be un-amused by this form of humour. The expulsion of stomach gas from the rectal cavity, followed by an irritating noise, comic genius.

Sunday, 6 February 2005

Predictions

As I chewed miserably on my half cooked rice I pondered the irony that there are people in third world countries with far better diets than me. The reason for their suffering is that they are poverty stricken, and must walk many miles over a sun baked plain to fetch water and receive U.N handouts. The reason I am consuming such an unappetising meal is that I am too lazy to walk to Tescos. I could have stolen my flatmate’s food but decided against it, one must purge idolatry by suffering it’s consequences. Having replenished the meagre supplies in my cupboard this morning I have come to the conclusion that the George Foreman fat reducing grilling machine is a con. Since setting the damn thing up in my kitchen I have become consumed by irresistible urges for bacon toasties that I am too weak to resist. As a consequence, my fat intake has risen sharply, making the title of the product something of a misnomer. Tonight I shall reverse this trend of culinary incompetence by cooking a Tai stir-fry, and this time I’ll try not to burn the bloody vegetables.

I love it when people make appallingly wrong predictions. I recall listening to this audiotape about mysterious happenings and psychic prophecies back when I was a highly-strung pre-teen. Part of the narrative concerned a famous 16th century woman mystic, Mother Shipton, who had made hundreds of forecasts for future events, many of which had mysteriously come true. She was also famous for being unbelievably ugly, her nose was said to be "of disproportional length with many crooks and turnings.......her stature was larger than common, her body crooked and her face frightful", she had great goggling eyes and her wreck of a nose also gave off a faint luminosity. In the artists impression below she looks disturbingly like Nobby Holder.

Mother Shipton

One of her prophesies gave me the willies, an actress on the tape with an unnaturally deep voice whispered, ‘but beware, an end to the world will come, in nineteen hundred and ninety one’. Of course, now that I have a modicum of maturity I would be less inclined to swallow this bullshit uncritically and would realise that this lady had chosen the date 1991 for the end of the world, firstly because it happened to rhyme easily, and secondly because it was far enough in the future for her not to get any bad press for centuries. Back then however, it gave me the willies. At this point in life I was so superstitious that I was still sleeping with the covers over my head, because of a Sherlock Holmes story I had read where a snake is forced down a bell rope onto an unsuspecting victim, this might give some indication of my gullibility. Throughout 1991 I became extremely nervy and would peek nervously through the curtains in the belief the apocalypse would arrive at any moment. After all, I reasoned, didn’t the idea seem plausible?. If god were planning an apocalypse he wouldn’t have it on a year that was a round number like 2000, he would have it on a numerically boring year when no-one would be expecting it. In the event, the 1991 Judgment Day theory turned out to be the worst prediction since ‘it’ll all be over by Christmas’ in 1914 and I became a confirmed sceptic.

Last year, a friend of mine was insistent that scouse hostage Ken Bigley was working for Al Qaeda. ‘Think about it’ he would say, ‘in every video the hostage takers release he tells the British government to give in to their demands’, ‘he speaks Arabic and he has connections with the area, its extremely suspect, he’ll turn out to be an Al Qaeda agent, you wait and see’. When events proved him wrong he was unapologetic and next week was telling me the Nick Berg killing was faked by the F.B.I.

Often the most erroneous prediction you can make is ‘I don’t fancy staying out for long, so I’m only going for a couple of drinks’. Nothing proves this better than the story Richard told me about his mum’s birthday. Shopping for one’s parents is always difficult, but there are certain fail-safe gifts one can turn to if things get desperate. Having ferreted around in the bookshop for a while, Richard decided to get his mother a book on bird watching and began to walk back to his house to wrap it. Then his mobile rang, it was his mates inviting him down to the local drinking spot for a couple of pints. ‘What harm can a few beers do’, I imagine he thought and, bag in hand, he wandered off down the road. Eight pints later, and things had gone spectacularly wrong as they are wont to do in this scenario. When reaching the pub, it is extremely hard not to be seduced by the sirens of cheap Stella, good company and high sprits. Feeling nauseous, Richard picked up his bag and puked violently into it, all over the book. Unsurprisingly he was asked to leave the pub and staggered drunkenly back up the hill clutching his bag of vomit. Upon awaking, he discovered that he had fallen asleep in the woods next to a small stream. Horrified, he realised what he had done and inspected the bag and its disgusting contents. Then a moment of inspiration, he took the book out of the bag and washed the soiled pages off in the stream. Having dried it off on the radiator at home the book looked almost presentable and he decided to wrap it up and give it to his mother the following day. The situation had been rescued, and he remained in his mum’s good books until, one night, he came back smashed and woke her up at three in the morning to tell her he was going to convert to Islam.

This week I predict I shall get the majority of my morbidly dull project written. I predict that I shall become an expert in ‘the legal implications arising from the Higgs Report’, and that I shall learn how to cook food without ending up with stomach cramps and indigestion.