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Thursday, March 23, 2006

March Musings

I owe UWN belkin54g a very large drink at a pub of his choice for all the free rides i've had off his link.

Traffic fines: much hullabaloo in the press about the ridiculous state of parking fines:

  • Folks possessing valid passes but the wretched meter maids simply not bothering to look.
  • The confusing signage being such that one has no idea *what*'s allowed and what not. I shall snap one such example round the corner from here and post it in Flickr.
  • Meter warden! What an appalling trade that is, attracting the dregs of society, presumably those unable to pass the entrance exam for prison screw. Down there with the developers responsible for ravaging lovely Bainbridge.

    Medical: Registered with a local doctor on the excellent - and free - National Health Service and took in all my docs relating to my cancer op, PSA scores etc. Was checked over by a *gorgeous* blonde S'th Efrikan who took weight and height (neither of us knew our metrics, giggle) and blood pressure, the latter being wayy too high and having also caused concern to my lovely Doc Madsen back in V Mason.

    Making flirty polite chat, I asked to be reminded what those 2 numbers actually mean ... much (and very fetching) humming and haah'ing and deep blushing and confession she didn't actually know, but could furnish me with a raft of literature. I said *I* now felt embarrassed and to please not bother with the light reading.

    Poor lady, she looked on the verge of tears, into which she'll no doubt burst on getting home and flinging herself into her man's arms (lucky bastard).

    Such a hypocrite, I am: had she been a right boot with a conk like Sarah Jessica "Aard" Varker, I'd have no doubt donned my icy voice and be pillorying the poor cow in this post.

    TV: so good to see all these wrinklie males on the Box, dishing the news or even presenting shows:

  • Michael Parkinson *still* around, still coasting on his bluff Barnsley boy act, still  one of the worst interviewers for vanity deafness to his guests.

    Was once in an elevator - White City? - and MP got in with photographer Don McCullin whose book Mrs Busker had edited. I engaged DMcC in genial chat, he remembered Steph, and it was all good, cept for Parkie who refused to accept I wasnt some groupie. It was only Don's politeness that kept the chat going.

    Got my revenge. Not that Parkinson's ego-trip show was right for my authors but when a researcher phoned up offering the privilege of an author appearing on his dreadful show, I courteously cut her short with a refusal; no particular reason, just that I wasnt making a scribbler of that standing traipse out to the wilds of London just to be constantly interrupted by someone who wouldn't have read the book in the first place.

    Totally bogus: Incapable of spotting where not to interrupt, clearly under the impression that *he* is the one we've tuned in to see and hear.

    Noel Edmonds: last i knew of Noel he was a hot DJ, now hosting a watered down version of "Deal or No Deal" but with none of Mandel's command or slightly threatening presence. I can't stop giggling at his time-warp bouffant coiffure, altho i have to concede he's kept his tum and double chin in check.

    Richard and Judy
    : a rather famous and long-serving duo, i gather, but suffering from Parkinson's disease of not listening to their guests and certainly not doing their homework. Poor John Hurt's patience must have been tested today when he turned up to talk about his "Shooting Dogs" Rwanda flick and had to correct every second reference to his family background or distinguished thespian career.

    The Judy element: marvelously haggard old thing, no effort to hide it. My god, she'd have been put out to pasture aeons back in the youth-obsessed US of A. Viva l'anciennes!

    Estate agents: big exposé on BBC 1's unmissable "Whistleblower" programme tonight, starring the foxy Anna Adams and equally fetching Claudia Schiffer-lookalike colleague, Emma Clarke, both of whom went underground for a few months to work for these low-lifers, notably property wheeler-dealers, Foxtons.

    Natch, being so cute, Ms Adams' pic is front page of the Evening Standard under the guise of announcing this public service exposé but really just to flog more papers with a half-page pic of bébé majeure Adams.

    Actually, a remarkable and brave accomplishment that has me worrying less about legal actions taking against Mesdemoiselles Adams et Clarke than actual physical aggro from the exposed. Duude! I almost felt sorry for the villains and their aghast emotions as the watched the program and realised up with what consummate expertise they'd been stitched.

    Hilarious finale as shocked and innocent denials were read out from the culprit companies, distancing themselves from the hapless types caught on camera as if this wholesale lying wasn't embedded company culture.

    Indeed, I wish it could be shown worldwide because I have no doubt that such sharp practices have been adopted internationally wherever another seller/buyer sucker is born.

    Retaliation: My strongest emotion as the credits rolled was worry for the safety of the journalists and informants involved. It's a rough business and there'll be a mark out on the whistleblowers, not this week or next week but some time in the future when the brouhaha has blown down and the Beeb's minders have been called off watching Adams' et co's backs.

    There were just such suspicious "accidents" in Hong Kong following a deep cover ferret job into a midlevels property scam on unsuspecting ex-pats. No one brought to justice, of course, and the attackers dismissed as random coolie thugs on an excess of Tsing Tao.

    I feel like sending a congratulatory email to all concerned.

    To more pleasant matters, repeats of "The Office" are enhancing TV viewing hours. Just before I left BI, I watched some pleading program on TV with the US cast wondering how the script would go. Don't make me laugh - what on earth makes them think that the *American* scribblers have the faintest idea of where to steer the show? They've ripped a feeble ride on the UK original and are now left high and dry in their bankruptcy of understanding or inspiration.

    My commissioned piece way back on the first screening has been scrapped in favour of an even longer assessment now that I'm back in Blighty and with even ruder comments on the show as a whole. More lolly, to boot.

    What goes round: you cock up "The Office", we make a pig's breakfast of "Deal".

    Paul O'Grady: a simply awful presenter with an irritating provincial accent and gift for sending up homosexualists whose mannerisms and modes of speech he has studied and lampoons throughout the show. Very incorrect and very funny, altho' I'm surprised some queen hasn't leapt on stage and clouted him with her handbag. The queer-bashing palls after a while so i don't watch too much of O'Grady, even tho' he seems to be on daily. No accounting for my countrymen's tastes, what?

    Budget £: Much chatter about the impending Budget but all I care is that booze and fags will soar in price costing me even more to go to the grave. A tossup which'll give out first: lungs liver or bank balance. (Cough splutter wheeze; sound of uncorking Dubonnet bottle)

    In fact, I've been watching Gordon Brown deliver his Budget speech - first time I've hard his voice. Commanding Scottish burr. Just behind him, in full camera view, is the poodle Blair and next to him on the front bench someone who really should have been shunted to the back rows. The be-joweled and pasty-faced John Prescott looks a right nasty piece of work: totally out of shape, a physical horror, he has the doughy features of a drinker and a bully. What an embarrassment and liability he must be to the party faithful. Isn't his nickname something like 2 Jags for his garage of cars? I'm surprised he doesn't need something a bit bigger - which gives me a neat a segue into the gem of info' that those SUVs so favored and fumbled by foppish Bainbridge newcomers (and said to be taxed to buggery in the Chancellor's new budget) are known over here as "Chelsea Tractors".

    Apprentice: Talking of cock-ups, I must stop being snooty about American gaucheness with clever Brit progs because they - we - have our own version of The Apprentice and it surpasses badness in a truly ham-handed way.

    If there was even a glimmer of a spark of originality or improvisation to it, I could look on the bright side and compliment it for being a wan shadow of the Trump chef-d'oeuvre, but it is resoundingly without merit or humor or entertainment value at any level.

    The Trump part is played by a Yasser Arafat-lookalike, one Alan Sugar who strains sans success at a fashionable growly-bear gruffness. He has clearly been told to observe and learn from Trump but, like the equally bland and unconvincing Richard Branson (a rich balloonist involved with Virgin music and airlines), picked up none of DT's puffed-up popinjay presence or genius timing with self-parody.

    This being England, the glowering Sugar is flanked by colourless henchpersons of exceptional un-beauty and gaucheness and no more understanding of the camera (for which read 'audience') than their employer.

    I do hope the show comes over to the US for proper lampooning and mockery and a chance to redress the balance for all the derision *we* pour on Stateside bishes.

    The Apprentices: I see now that i had a huge advantage watching the Trump version: most US accents sound the same, saving me wasted time slotting them into various castes and backgrounds. No such luck with the grotty British entrepreneurs, out of whose mouths emerge the most bizarre voweling which I assume must once have been "language" but which by the time it reaches TV speakers would baffle even Professor Higgins.

    The task I watched involved setting up competing food stalls at a Thames-side festival, and an hilarious disaster they both made of it, ordering too much and cursing each other out and generally demonstrating good old British impotence in the arena of youthful biz battling.

    Producer Mark Burnett must have spotted the show gurgling down the sink hole because he'd cued Sugar to call for one from the men's team to lead the women and vice versa.

    Like cast-offs from the touring version of "No sex please, we're British", everybody immediately lost what little cool they'd been feigning and behaved as if aghast at "the birds and bees do *what*?". With none of the sleekness or glowing physical beauty of the American aspirants, I couldn't even fall back on ogling a flash of thigh or those magnificent unsagging breasts you grow over there - OK, there was a Scottish lady sporting a rather fine pair but one had to shade one's eyes from glimpsing her face which used up vital fingers needed elsewhere to plug ears from the accent.

    Newsnight: mustn't end on a Sugary sour note (the old fake)so I'll just add that there's an excellent hardhitting news prog fronted by a greyer but no less fierce Jeremy Paxman. Goodness, how one could do with someone like that over in the US but of course the Gnome would never allow it.

    Funny thing - I could swear I met and nattered with Paxman back in '95 over the PR for a book by or about him for the once-great house of Michael Joseph. It was flagging a bit even then so Lord knows what or where it is now; probably gobbled up by one of the conglomerates that did for teams like Heinemann or Seckers and its directors spending their pay-offs under sunnier climes.

    March 22

    Keys Freeze: 6 years' living in crime-free BI directly under the condo manager (and my very good buddy), i got into the bad habit of leaving my door unlocked and the keys just anywhere i couldn't find.

    Here if i walk out and the door slams, I am screwed.

    Cash in hand: bit of a furore over here ref peerages for cash. Labour party nailed bang to rights accepting £1M loans in place of declarable donation gifts.

    I'm walking up Kings Rd to the internet cafe, a quid for an hour, any denomination so i've sorted out a precise fistful of coins - 5p, 10p, 50p - when i bump into distinguished old journo pal. Sans thinking, i greet and shake his hand with my pawful of coins. Some go splattering across the pavement. Pal looks puzzled but recovers, "My dear chap, say no more. Name it and the peerage is yours."

    Jilbab: Country not totally gone to the multi-cultural dogs: schoolgirl banned for flouting uniform code by wearing that full-length jilbab garb to class. Takes school to court where the rule sensibly upheld. Pursues it to next legal rung where she's given benefit of the doubt.

    Doughty school sticks to guns and refers it to the Lords who still breathe the oxygen of sense and decree trhe 'bab jilted.

    Comment by Jill: disappointed but glad she got her cause the publicity. Ditto: save others wasting courts' time with this sort of nonsense.

    Alas, not the last we'll hear of this particular thin end of the ubi-cultural wedge.


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