24 Aug 2012

No Brain Count

Shoeville's town council has a very long history of being utter pants, dating right back to the time of the Industrial Revolution when the fat controllers were...ahem..."persuaded" by rich landowners surrounding the town that having a mainline train station in the town and thus train tracks across their land was a bad idea, thus isolating the place for years until sense was seen and a branch line installed. To this day, Shoesville, a county town with a population of almost 200000 and the third largest town in the country remains marginalised when it comes to rail travel.

We no longer have a daily local paper and local news in print is courtesy of the free papers we get through our letter boxes, if you're in an area where these are delivered. We only get them intermittently at home, but at work, which is much closer to town centre, we get them every week. Glancing at the front page of today's Herald & Post I espy the headline "Council's five day wait to reveal fountain bug."

Not Tivoli
Those of you who know Shoesville will be aware of the magnificent plumes of water that rise to all of five feet out of the pavement at the bottom end of the Market Square. Magnificent, doncha think? The council paid almost £100000 for it too, dolts that they are, in an age where painful cuts are being made to essential services,

Anyway, the story under that headline relates to the council waiting five days before it told anyone that the reason they turned the fountain off on Tuesday 14th August was not, as they originally claimed, due to "strong winds", but actually because the results of tests on the water the previous day had revealed higher than normal traces of legionella and e-coli in the water! I can quite believe that there was no evil intent in this cock-up, as blundering idiocy is ingrained into our local leaders (no matter what their political persuasion, I hasten to add) like comedy is ingrained into Liverpool FC.

I was in town on the rather warm Monday when the tests were carried out and walked past the "fountain", where kids were messing about in the water as kids do, and I do recall walking directly through the fountain mist. So far I've not gone down with flu-like symptoms thank Thor, but God knows what the parents of those kids are going through!

13 Aug 2012


Well, the fat lady in the guise of Roger Daltrey sang, and it's all over. After overcoming my initial scepticism (it took until about Day 5) I found the thing a delight, and any killjoys who moan about money being better spent on shelter and succour for the fat or somesuch need a severe slapping. A nation deserves to let its hair down now and again, and to Hell with the consequences. I found myself watching sports I never had time for before, like eventing and even gymnastics. I draw the line at synchronised swimming which is simply plain daft, and at rhythmic gymnastics which seems to be ballet with hoops and ribbons; in fact Olympic ballet - why not?. The footy season is almost upon us but I've barely glanced at the transfer news, and only this morning found out we've sold Rodwell to Citeh, but frankly my dear, I don't give a damn...well at least for a week or so anyway.

It has to be said that the high points of the whole shebang outweighed a few minor low points by some distance, and even the low points were quite amusing, some of the time.

THE high point was that it made a nation suffering under the jackboots of Tory oppression forget their troubles for a fortnight and proud to be British in a non-jingoistic way, a rare occurrence indeed. Even the Sydney Morning Herald were moved to congratulate us "magnificent Pommey bastards" in their own inimitable style.

The French accusing our cyclists of having "magic wheels" was quite funny too, given that our wheels and those of a number of other teams were supplied by a French company. One of the cycling fraternity responded by saying the secret of our success in the velodrome was down to our wheels being "rounder" than theirs...:)

Denise Lewis destroying furniture as she screamed encouragement at Mo Farah was quite a sight...I think I'm in love.

Bloody irritating was the creeping use of the nouns medal, podium and legacy as verbs. Kill on sight with tooth and claw!

A tad squirm-inducing was watching Anglophile and true gent Michael Johnson look increasingly uncomfortable as national pride got the better of Denise Lewis, but more so Colin Jackson, who came out with some right bollocks at times. In a similar vein was a commentator telling the nation that Mo Farah (a lovely bloke) had just "shown the Africans how it's done" in the 10000 metres. Go figure!

Moving from being irritating to "so bad he's funny" was Trevor Nelson, who gave us all quote of the closing ceremony having spotted Gary Barlow and his mates on stage. I give you "Take That, the nation's favourite man-boy band"! Hirsute and only three foot six, the lot of 'em.

Which brings us neatly to the closing ceremony. Does anyone apart from viewers in the home nation actually watch these things? I know it was my first and probably last go at this never ending mish-mash spectacle of pop culture. What anyone but a Brit would make of an overweight figure dressed as Batman, and his mate dressed as Robin emerging from a bright yellow "car" that appeared to have only three wheels, which then promptly disintegrated is anyone's guess.

The 'Oo (or perhaps they should now rename themselves The Two) ended the thing with My Generation which felt a bit odd coming as it did from two blokes in their late 60s singing to a crowd of athletes whose average age was less than half theirs. Another old geezer on show was Ray Davies proving that unlike Macca he can still hit the high notes and stay in tune. Worryingly though Ray seems to be sharing Paul's bottle of industrial strength hairdye. Preceding The Two were the Kaiser Chiefs doing a fair imitation of the modfathers on Pinball Wizard, the singer starting off standing on the back of the lead scooter moving at a pace at the head of a mod formation. Fair play to him, must've taken some nerve.

And Muse, what are they for? There they were with the backing of a full choir and a bleedin' orchestra, and you'd still be hard pushed to identify anything resembling a tune. Matt Bellamy (aka Frank Lampard Jr Jr) threw a lot of shapes and posed with his guitar, which was practically inaudible. When they appeared on the screen B says to me "Who are they?" and the only description I could come up with was "They're kinda like Queen but without the tunes or the sense of humour." And who should be next up but Freddie leading the crowd in a call and response from beyond the grave...ok, it was a video screen, but goose-bump inducing nonetheless. Soon, Mr Anita Dobson in his coat of many colours makes an appearance striding along doing his trademark Queen shredding (that's how you do it, Matt) that inevitably leads into We Will Rock You, vocal duties belted out with gusto by Jessie J, the best young 'un of the evening in my 'umble opinion, although Emeli Sandé gave her a close run for her money. I quite liked Tiny Tempah too...no, really! You can't beat a cheerful chirpy cockernee at a knees-up, after all!

Elbow did One Day Like This, and it was magnificent of course. What else? Oh yeah, the Spice Girls reformed for hopefully one night only. They made an awful pointless racket as they did first time round. I doubt Mrs Beckham has worked so hard in years. Please don't carry on. And Ed Sheeran sang a passable take of Wish You Were Here, backed by Nick Mason on drums and Mike "He's as much to blame for destroying Genesis as Collins" Rutherford on one note lead acoustic, and a bloke I didn't recognise on bass. At least Sheeran actually sang, unlike Annie Lennox who did some terrible miming to one of her forgettable ditties while pretending to be one those carvings on the prow of a nineteenth century warship. And I've forgotten Eric Idle (predictable but fun), and George Michael (why?), and some R'nB type called Santa Cruz or summat, who joined Tiny Tempah and Jesse J, the latter taking the lead vocal on a rug-cutting You Should Be Dancing, which gave Trevor Nelson another chance to shine, describing the 70s club-styled lighting during The Brothers Gibb's dancy-tune as being "a bit like a disco". He doesn't miss much, our Trev.

Oh yeah, there was One Direction, whose combined ages still fall five years short of Ray Davies'.

I've little time for the terribly overrated and unfunny Russell Brand, but compared to what was to follow, Brand's amateurish lip-synching to I Am The Walrus was a moment of inspired genius. OK, it didn't follow Brand exactly, but lowpoint of the evening had to be Liam Gallagher's whiny miserable monotone moaning that passed for singing on his group Beady Eye's rendering of that sub-sub-Beatles pastiche and nonsensical load of utter bollocks Wonderwall. Why millions upon millions bought Oasis' dreary uninspiring shite by the shedload has always mystified me, for I would rather lacerate my own eyeballs with a rancid tramp's freshly bitten fingernail and use old piss as a balm than have to put up with their dull and unimaginative outpourings ever again. Gawd, they even make Status Quo sound interesting.

Almost as if the producers were saying to the Manc moaner "this is how you do it" in a fashion similar to Queen following Muse, next up was a dance routine to ELO's Mr Blue Sky. Now, ELO, that's a proper career-long Beatles pastiche if ever I heard one!

After seventeen hours and forty three minutes it all ended with some catherine wheels, a few bangers, and a couple of sparklers, and we had been spared Coldplay in both the opening and closing ceremonies. One has to grateful for small mercies. And so to bed....