Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Road safety pop quiz

If a busy road leading up to a roundabout had a pavement and underpass on one side and a narrow verge leading to a blind corner on the other, would you:

a) Use the pavement and underpass as God (in the form of Eastleigh Council) intended?
b) Walk in the road up to the roundabout, clamber awkwardly up the verge to get out of the way of the oncoming cars, and then decide that walking in the middle of the road makes more sense?

I just don't understand the woman I saw this evening who selected b. If a council is good enough to provide you with a safe option (and the underpass is very short, well-lit on a bright summer's evening, and not at all scary), why wouldn't you use it? Clearly time for a little bit of chlorine in her gene pool.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Norwch 5: Wycombe 2

After a disappointing 2:1 loss to Brentford (Brentford!) mid-week, we rebounded to a more promising victory over Wycombe. We now have Ian Culverhouse back at the club and a new manager in Paul Lambert. Let's hope he lasts longer than 2 weeks, unless his two predecessors.

Watching DVDs, old-skool-style

We've joined Blockbuster. Yes, I know -- we had a subscription to LoveFilm but let it lapse when it became clear we just weren't watching the DVDs quickly enough to make it worthwhile. It's really annoying to work out that the DVD you failed to send back cost about the same to rent as it would have done to buy. Boo! The problem, I think, is that you can put together a list of films that you want to watch at some point -- but they're not necessarily the films that you want to watch now. In contrast, popping round to Blockbuster on a Saturday evening means you can pick up the film that pushes your buttons at that point, as well as fish n' chips (or Indian, or Chinese, or pizza, or Thai). And, you have the pressure of having to return it in a short space of time, which ensures that you watch it immediately.

Last night, we rented Let The Right One In -- excellent. The blu-ray version meant the snowy Swedish landscapes were stunning, the children were suitably chilling, and there was nowhere near as much gore as I had feared; in fact, it was no worse than many episodes of Buffy. The only distractions, as always for us with Swedish films, were the architecture (the swimming pool! the metro station!) and the home furnishings. Yes, we really are that shallow. Highly recommended.

As the cats and I are on our own again for the next few days, I took advantage of Blockbuster's 4 for 10 quid offer and found three more films to watch over the next three days: Bottle Shock (Alan Rickman!!!), The Duchess (Ralph Fiennes!!!!), and Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (er, Frances McDormand!!!!). One this afternoon, one this evening, and one on Tuesday, drop the DVDs back on Wednesday before 10 p.m., and see what else is available. Nice.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Two decades

While reading a story about this year's record A level passes, I realized that it's exactly 20 years since I got my results. Which means I've been alive longer since I took them than before I took them. Which is ... scary.

Still, I'm glad. I'd hate to be a teenager again -- and I'd hate to be a teenager now. I'd like to think that our exams were harder (or marked more severely), but just passing them was seen as an achievement; you didn't need to have 10 A* at GCSE and 4 As at A level to be regarded as clever. And there certainly wasn't the pressure for places at university -- or the vast costs associated with attending. Yep. It's good to be 38.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Who killed Cock Robin?

"Who killed Cock Robin?" "I," said the Sparrow,
"With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin."*
"Who saw him die?" "I," said the Fly,
"With my little eye, I saw him die."**

One robin, two mice, and two pools of vomit. What a day.

*If by "Sparrow" you mean Nin and/or Shin and by "bow and arrow" you mean claws and teeth.

**Which would be me and PJ.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

TV shows we're watching

In our ongoing attempt to catch up on the TV we missed while in Amsterdam, we've been watching The Thick Of It -- BBC2's delightfully sweary "mockumentary" of government life. I know, I know: swearing isn't big and it isn't clever -- but this is just incredibly funny, and, scarily, seems like it would be incredibly accurate. We're going to watch In The Loop (the movie follow-up) tonight.

We're nearly at the end of Season 4 of The Wire, and full marks to the BBC for showing all the seasons so rapidly and consistently. It's still grim (and getting grimmer) but thought-provoking and challenging.

Better Off Ted is our palette cleanser after an episode of The Wire; it's a funny, biting look at life in a giant corporation -- Viridian Dynamics -- complete with worryingly realistic commercials for said corporation. As The Guardian said a few weeks ago, if you liked Arrested Development (oh, we did!), then you'll enjoy Better Off Ted. And it was right and we do.

Finally, Desperate Romantics. A few years ago, the Beeb had a series about The Impressionists, which was rather wooden and po-faced with laughable, expository dialogue. I was rather worried that DR would follow the same path, but it's much more tongue-in-cheek and thus lots of fun. Plus, Mark Heap as Charles Dickens! What's not to love?

Norwich 1: Exeter 1

Well, that's better -- I suppose. Given that we have but a temporary manager. However, I think our treatment of Bryan Gunn has been pretty shameful. We (and he) would have been far better served by letting him go at the end of last season, hiring a new manager, and then giving him our full support, rather than binning him just 10 days into the new season. An embarrassing situation all round.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Reading detectives

No, this isn't about detectives in fiction, which was PJ's initial take. This is a literary project, designed to uncover forgotten authors with links to or who took inspiration from five counties around the UK. I'm part of the Hampshire group -- on the trail of authors such as William Cobbett, Patrick Gale, and Otterbourne's most famous resident, Charlotte M. Yonge. It's good fun and is pushing me to broaden my reading habits and explore my adopted home.

Check us out here.