Friday, 28 April 2017

Rushed Diagnosis.

I hope no-one informs whoever owns the rights of seasons five to eight of Diagnosis: Murder that they’re currently available on YouTube as, if they do, I could be scuppered when it comes to watching the latter half of my favourite hospital-based sleuthing series.

(Quincy comes second, due to pathology being pretty grim.)

I’ve written here before of my frustration regarding the airing habits of various channels with the programme. For a long time, Five USA were the culprits for constantly looping back to the first series instead of going past the end of season four; now CBS Action are facing my wrath, for doing the same with just the first two seasons. It’s as if they think no-one’s watching, which is a defeatist stance to take; how else is a highly-strung person like me supposed to relax without my daily dose of Dick Van Dyke? I can’t even buy the DVD Box Set, as it’s (1) stupidly expensive and (2) I’d need to invest in a multi-region DVD player; these things never help you out.

It was on a whim that my wife stumbled across the missing series on YouTube. I was delighted, and consequently have spent the last few evenings catching up on some of the programmes I’ve long missed. I know I’m playing with fire, as this isn’t the first time they’ve been available on YouTube to be deleted soon afterwards, but until that happens, I’m binge-watching as much as I can. I wonder whether if I switched my laptop, mobile and TV on together I could watch three episodes at once; needs must when the Devil drives, as they say. Just don’t go telling the authorizes, as I don’t think I can manage any longer without it; I need to see Barry Van Byke's beautifully chiselled face. 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Paint Pop.

I'd have liked the guy shouting Rick Astley's 'Please Don't Go' at the top of his voice whilst decorating the flat next door me today to go himself, if given the choice.

It’s not uncommon for people to moan about noisy neighbours, but this was the limit. The guy wasn’t singing, he was yelling, and he wasn’t shy about it either; he didn’t care that he was subjecting anyone within a two-mile radius to unconsenting Astley, or that he sounded atonal and unpleasant; he wanted the listener to know he was begging them to stay.

I hope there's no truth to the Stone Tape theory that some rooms store traumatic events and then replay them when the conditions are right as, if so, a future tenant could be subjected to close-encounter Eighties pop on a wet Spring day. Even Rick’s biggest fan wouldn’t want to hear his songs that loud, even if Astley himself was doing the decorating; to paraphrase one of his other hits, I thought he'd never give up. Hopefully the painter-decorator won’t have a similar comeback, as my eardrums won't survive it.

Petered Out.

My mood brightened considerably today when I read that Peter Lilley is standing down at the next election.

I have a natural dislike for politicians of the Tory persuasion - or politicians at all for the most part - but Lilley's a particularly unpleasant example, even when taking this into account. Just a quick look at his voting record reveals some particularly distasteful allegiances, having consistently voted against Gay rights, against raising welfare benefits and measures to prevent climate change to name just a few. He's a staunch supporter of leaving the EU and for a stricter asylum system that plays right into the hands of the Daily Mail contingent; in fact it’s hard to find anything he's done or the common good.

This was no surprise to me, having crossed paths with him briefly when Glyn and I reluctantly appeared in a sketch with him at a Hitchin Rotary event in 2008. I’ve covered it here before so I won’t go into too much detail, save to say that after helping him score points with the local electorate, he walked off the opposite side of the stage and left the building without saying goodbye or thanks; he’d got what he wanted from the evening and felt no need for basic etiquette or politeness.

The one saving grace from our misjudged collaboration was the sketch was built around The Who's Pictures of Lily; what better soundtrack than a song about masturbation when the man's clearly a wanker? It’s poetic justice, really.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


The Mostly Comedy website is about to have a massive overhaul, and not a moment too soon, I say.

The redesign was done by long-term Doggett & Ephgrave colleague and ex-Mostly doorman James Hingley, who’s done an excellent job of tidying things up while making it more interesting to look at. For a long while, we’ve let it slide (though not as much as the D&E site, which hasn’t been updated for years), so it will be nice to be back in action, making the most of the database of photographs we have since the club’s formation while also making it easier for us to sell more tickets; I’m amazed we’ve consistently sold as well as we have, when our website is often people’s first port-of-call and yet the last place to find the latest information.

The best bit about the website’s reworking is it will enable Glyn and I to update information easily from the comfort of our own homes without much additional effort. Previously, Glyn would have to do it, yet increasingly, he hasn’t had the time, while I tend to update the information everywhere else (WeGotTickets, Ents 24, Facebook and Twitter etc); now, we’ll both have equal access, meaning I can update line-up information at every source, without having to pass it on.

Thankfully, our excellent ticketing service-of-choice WeGotTickets has helped us sell so well over the years, thanks to its excellent cross-referencing and its user-friendliness, but having an up-to-date website will hopefully help us do even better while also doing less work - and who can say fairer than that?

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Man With One Brain.

According to Headspace, I’ve meditated 272 days in a row, which is no mean feat.

I’m proud of myself for sticking with it and, while I was practising most days anyway before downloading the app, its been an invaluable addition to my life, helping me train my mind to healthily approach any challenges I may be faced with from day to day.

I admit I was reticent to opt for a subscription-based service once my free trial had elapsed, despite finding those first few sessions useful. It’s funny how differently you can view paying for something that's slightly out of the norm; I wouldn’t flinch at spending a fiver a month on luxury or superfluous items such as chocolate, alcohol or magazines, yet committing the same amount to something that might benefit my well-being seemed too much; there was a sense of ‘would it be worth it?’ to the whole thing.

I can now state categorically that it was. Headspace has a huge resource of guided meditations tailored to all kind of situations that mean you could spend a whole year without listening to the same file twice. It’s also cheaper than going to classes, and while being guided by a teacher in person will always have the edge, it's certainly an excellent substitute. The exercise to aid sleep is worth the admission-fee alone, having knocked me out too many times to count.

That’s not to say that you have to meditate every day to benefit from it. While it’s gratifying to know I’ve been on a 272-day straight, it’s not a competition; I’m always allowed a day off. It’s good to practise as often as you can though - and, if meditation's something you been considering trying, Headspace is a brilliant place to start; I'm not on commission, by the way.

Sunday, 23 April 2017


Spare a thought for the producer who dreamt of working on a multi-platinum album, yet records the page-turning sound for an e-paper instead.

Surely no-one sets out to be responsible for that, yet someone has to do it. It’s like the people who photograph food for menus or zoom in on the winning lottery numbers when they come out of Guinevere; they provide a service of reasonable value that isn't something to aspire to. It must be hard to work on something so utterly mundane.

My ex-flatmate had a couple of jobs when we lived together that served a financial purpose, but were amusing in their dullness; something we both used to joke about. The Top Three were:

3) Packing mushrooms (he's allergic to them).
2) Stacking toilets.
1) Ironing snooker tables.

The top job was by definition the best. It was a door-to-door service, which meant driving from pool hall to pool hall, asking if they needed anything doing. I hope it wasn't commission-only as he can’t have had much uptake - and if he did, it's a thankless task: God knows how you get them on an ironing board anyway.

One thing I will say about the person who recorded the rustling for my local paper: they applied attention to detail to their work, as every few pages sound different, though it’s possible noticing this makes me the worse-off.

Saturday, 22 April 2017


One thing I like Paul McCartney for is his b-sides and his lesser-known work.

Sadly, a clichéd view of his solo material has formed over the years that does no justice to his huge back catalogue. At best, people tend to rate Wings 1973 album Band on the Run as a near-return to form of his unparalleled Beatles period, but after that, critique tends to fall silent, save the easy - and unreasonable - allusions to twee granny musak made by Lennon during the bitter early Seventies.

In reality, the last twenty years have seen a surprising array of top-quality albums that are regularly described as “his best work since Band on the Run”, whilst forgetting this same comment has been applied to nearly every release since 1997’s Flaming Pie. It’s normally his choice of singles that cloud the water, by not always being reflective of his current output.

While there are many songs I’d site as favourites, one popped in my mind that’s worth a mention: the lovely ‘She is So Beautiful’ from 2005. It was recorded during the sessions that produced the stunning Chaos and Creation in the Backyard album, but didn’t make the final cut, only being included on the Japanese version. It’s pretty with an undertone of sadness, much like me.