Wednesday, 22 October 2014

It's all a game

I don't know about you, but I don't play video games. I'd argue that they're a bit childish, but I like plenty of childish things: Bagpuss, Thunderbirds, The Muppets - I think they're all terrific, so that's not the problem. No, I think it's a combination of my lack of enthusiasm for anything resembling sport, and the fact these things ask you to overcome a machine in the name of entertainment. Whatever the reason, I have no interest in video games (or 'gaming' as I'm told it's called these days).

Monday, 20 October 2014

So sneer, so far

John Lydon invented punk rock and is the king of the punks. I know this because he told me. Actually he told me, my wife and about a hundred other people, as he was interviewed for his second autobiography ‘Anger Is An Energy’, at Sheffield’s Octagon on Wednesday night. And if it sounds like he talks some right old cobblers, you’d be understating the situation by some distance.

That’s not to say the erstwhile Johnny Rotten isn’t an interesting man, because he is. It couldn’t really be any other way. After all, he was the singer and focal point of one of Britain’s most important bands. The difficulty lies in getting him to speak sensibly on that most pertinent of topics. Admittedly, the evening’s host was way out of her depth – genial, but completely incapable of keeping her guest in order and on track. That said, even a heavyweight like Andrew Neil couldn’t wring much coherence from John the following night on the telly, so perhaps it’s a hopeless task whoever you happen to be.

Monday, 13 October 2014

The bottom half begone

Technology is now moving at such velocity that it is possible to feel nostalgic for the early years of a facility barely twenty years old. I’m referring to the World Wide Web – that sprawling anemone, whose tendrils reach hotels, cafes, bars and homes from the Sinai desert to the Arctic wastes.

Remember the way it used to be? Dialing into a screaming, wheezing modem, fingers crossed that a connection could be made and maintained for at least ten minutes. Watching the clock as minutes were added to the phone bill, and staring into CRT monitor as a graphics-heavy page loaded like a raindrop down a window?
True, it wasn’t a particularly convenient way to access the internet, but it did feel quite exciting; in the way our grandfathers were excited by the delicate process of tuning through the radiogram, anticipating the moment voices or music would crackle into the room.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The stupidity of crowds

In 1938, in the Yorkshire town of Halifax, two women complained they had been attacked by a man with bright shoe buckles, wielding a heavy mallet. Before long, further residents reported assaults by the same individual using knives and razors. Police travelled from London to investigate, but within a month, one victim admitted the wounds were self-inflicted; followed by almost all the others. The attacker, it seems, never existed.

October 1965, saw the schoolgirls of Blackburn Lancashire falling ill. It began with a handful of young women complaining of dizziness, then 85 girls were rushed to hospital having fainted. Some were convulsing, or gripped by uncontrollable chattering teeth. No cause was ever discovered; no pollution, chemical leak, disease or poisoning.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Scottish zombie attack

This is how it happened - or at least how I became involved. Scrolling through Twitter yesterday, I noticed a message which expressed alarm at real zombies being at large in real Scotland. It was followed by this link: - which I clicked.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

No thanks

I must be getting old. I'm still in my forties, but something fundamental has changed in the creative business; something I don't recognise and don't much like. I was a punk, when that was a thing, and I was certainly a truculent teenager, but for all of my adult life I've believed in common courtesy: saying (and writing) 'please' or 'thank you' when you're asking or receiving. These aren't disposable niceties reserved for fuddy-duddies, squares and maiden aunts, they're the very stuff of social interaction and mutual respect. And they're vanishing.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Park life

There’s a point in ELO’s ‘Turn To Stone’ where Jeff Lynne does a proto-rap. “Yes, I’m turnin’ to stone ‘cos you ain’t comin’ home / Why you ain’t comin’ home if I’m turnin’ to stone / You’ve been gone for so long and I can’t carry on / Yes, I’m turnin’, I’m turnin’, I’m turnin’ to stone”, it goes. A second after performing this in Hyde Park last Sunday, Lynne looked to the crowd, mouth agape, as if to say ‘I’m amazed that went so well’. It would be fair to say, this was Jeff’s reaction to the whole occasion.

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