window-moon-eclipse

Here’s the window I’ve been repairing. If it looks a little spooky that’s because I photographed it during an eclipse of the Moon. Do you remember that? The 3rd March, 2007. It was quite something. For about half an hour the Moon turned red. People on the streets of Hither Green panicked. I remember one old man running down the street, shouting at people to stay indoors, saying there were Vampire Nazis parading the streets of Lewisham and they were heading our way. One young child cried, and an image of Jesus appeared in her left eye. Another old lady who lives next door looked up at the Moon and said “isn’t it lovely.”

At least, this is how I like to remember it.

Repairing windows is one of those things you can take the time to do when you have no work. It’s a shame really, because if I had work I wouldn’t have the time. And if I didn’t have the time I’d be able to pay a window man. Me being out of work is putting a glazier out of work. Aren’t times hard.

Here’s how to repair a window.

  • Remove some bits of wood so you can get the window out. Carry it into the garden and then look at it for a while wondering what to do next.
  • Have a cup of tea and do the Guardian crossword (the quick one that takes all day).
  • Look at the window. Laugh, because once placed flat on the ground it has ceased to be useful as a window; unless you like looking at grass. Decide you do like looking at grass. Then hack at it with a variety of tools from a box, all of which have proper and fancy names, none of which you know.
  • Smash, smash, smash glass.
  • Pick bits of glass out of your hand.
  • Hack away at old putty. See bits of rotten wood fall away too and wonder what to do next.
  • Splash wood hardener about as if it was going out of fashion. Sniff it too.
  • Take a break. Do The Mirror crossword.
  • More wood hardener. More splashing. Realise that wood hardener is a sort of glue, and wonder how to get it off your clothes and your fingers.
  • Put all the smashed glass in newspaper and then in a black bin bag. Pick bits of glass out of your hands.
  • Pick up the black bin bag, letting the loose shards cut through the thin plastic, falling to the floor.
  • You’re familiar with the next part… pick up, deal with blood etc.
  • Measure the window, taking off 3mm so the glass will fit in nicely.
  • Go to the glaziers. Buy a piece of glass. Say “Yes. I used to be on Saturday morning TV” and when asked what are you up to these days say “repairing windows”.
  • Try and get the glass back home without breaking it.
  • See if the glass fits.
  • Weep with joy when it does.
  • Take a break. Go on Twitter. Make cheap comments about wood hardening. See the people Twitter back, asking if you are stressed.
  • Tap in some nails to hold the glass in place.
  • Then the fun part. Truly. Putting the putty in. Did you know that putty is like putty in your hands? The putty parts great. Enjoy it.
  • Put the window back.
  • Tidy up. In bare feet.
  • Pick tiny shards of glass out of your bleeding feet.
  • In about six weeks time take the window out again and paint the putty.
  • Forget to do this.

I hope this helps anyone thinking of trying to repair a window. Oh, and I know it’s windmills but when it first went through my head as I tried to think of a title for this post, I heard windows.

And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space

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The Informers

July 24, 2009

the-informers-posterEveryone’s got it in for The Informers. And the chances are they’re right. But there was something about this film that meant I had to see it. Not just because I’ve got my cinema pass allowing me to see as much rubbish as I can, all for £16.50 a month. It was something to do with the casting, the 80’s, the soundtrack, the writer.

The film kicks off with New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84) by Simple Minds. At that point I was already gving it 5 stars. And look at the cast; Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder, Chris Isaak and um, Rhys Ifans. And Bret Easton Ellis; an author who can make me laugh out loud and then, as he did with American Pyscho, make me put down a book and not be able to pick it up again for a good three days.

I like Easton Ellis and his washed out eighties nostalgia thing. Look at that poster; greed,sex, youth, and a ghost of a blank statue; a replicant heading to Cardiff to kiss Captain Jack.

The 80’s of Easton Ellis is something I know nothing of, other than from his books and his films. I wasn’t greedy, sex was hard and my youth? Well, I dressed it up in the clothes of old men. I was what became known in the 90’s as a shoegazer, but in the eighties we were just slopey kids in our dads coats. So, glamorous people taking drugs and having wasted sex were sort of appealing. And I think that’s the Easton Ellis joy; have your cake and eat it; be appealing, be appalling. Celebrate and condemn. Bret Easton Ellis makes me feel like I lived in an 80’s that I never actually lived in. If I try really hard, I can even convince myself I once went out with Kim Basinger.

Kim Basinger, Billy Bob Thornton, Mickey Rourke. These are people I’d happily watch in anything. I’d watch them eat chips. But in this film, in this film where they really should shine, they’re wasted. Particularly Mickey. He’s one of the greats, and he’s back on the scene. He’s the nearest we’ve got to a next generation Bogart. But in this, he’s just mucking around in some sub sub-plot, kidnapping a kid for reasons that are never made clear. I can see why people are starting to use Mickey again, but I think it’s for the wrong reason; it’s because he comes with his own costume.

And Chris Isaak, he’s off in one of the other stories (this film wants to be a compendium but it’s like the smashed up pick n’ mix counter in a post apocalypse Woolworths) taking his son off on holiday to Hawaii. I love Chris Isaak (he swung his pants with me) but he acts like Mark Kermode on methadone; he’s Kurt Russell’s stunt double after one too many duff falls.

So, it’s not a good film. And it lacks the fun of The Rules of Attraction and American Psycho. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the film version of Lunar Park to get the old joker Bret back. A final plus point; it has Simple Minds and Wang Chung. And Men in Hats;

I say, we can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine

Everyone’s jumping to the defence of Arlene Phillips, but where were all these folks when my mum (and no doubt some of yours) were made to stop work when they reached 60? And wouldn’t you think most people would be glad to stop work as soon as they can, particularly if, like Arlene, you’ve made a bob or two? In most walks of life men are made to stop work at 65 and women at 60. There are a few exceptions; and the two most prominent seem to be showbusiness and politics.

Ageism is a weird one to pin down. Sexism? Racism? You know where you are with those two devils. You don’t suddenly become female as you get older (well, ok, some do, but you know what I mean). And unless you’re the departed Michael Jackson, you don’t change skin colour halfway through your life. No! Sexism and racism are evils that some have to battle for all their years on Earth, whereas ageism creeps up on us slowly, in the shape of the grim reaper (aka BBC controllers).

I was the “victim” of BBC ageism a few years back. We (Trev and myself) were approached to take part in BBC3’s Celebrity Scissorhands (a reality show for Children in Need where a bunch of idiot P-listers like myself are trained to become hairdressers). Trev, ever the wise one, didn’t have to think once. It was a no from him. But, surprisingly since people can only ever seem to think of as a couple, they were still interested in me. I’ll do anything as long as it doesn’t hurt or exploit anyone but myself. I have nothing to lose. Sure, it was for no pay, but no one was paying me for anything anyway. And it gets me out of the house, and it might be a bit of a laugh. Oh, and I learn a new trade, so at least I might be employable once I’m booted off.

I went and met the people from Endemol and we talked for two hours and they seemed keen. And they kept seeming keen, until a good few weeks later they got in touch to say they were very sorry. They wanted me, but BBC3 had the final say, and they said I was “too old.”

Oh well. It was only a barbers after all, and for no money. It’s hardly the jungle. And who knows? Maybe they were just trying to let me down gently. Maybe it wasn’t the truth. Maybe I’m too ugly for BBC3. Or too untalented. Or not celebrity enough.

A far more sinister side of ageism is how old people are treated by younger comedians now. A trend has developed for caricaturing oldies as incontinent. Particularly old women, who’ll gush all over the floor anytime, anywhere. But the joke seems to begin and end there. And now young people happily joke about old people smelling of wee. It’s a joke that’s taken as a truth.

And maybe that’s why Arlene had to go. Some daft producer, younger than you or I, got it into their head that Arlene might struggle to hold it all in. And then, before you know it, there’d be murder on the dancefloor.

Plinth pics

July 20, 2009

In town to see Bruno and Moon (there’s a double bill not to be sniffed at) I stopped by the Fourth Plinth a few times. Here’s what I saw.

Plinth-1

This robot guy rotated slowly, taking pictures of all around. He was an excellent replicant and thankfully not painted Covent Garden dirty silver.

The next participant wore many T-shirts, each with a different slogan or statement. He took them off one by one and threw them to the crowd. And some of the crowd were happy to wear them.

Plinth-2

Later, strolling drunkenly home, I saw a plinther ask his boyfriend Russ to marry him. Russ said yes and the crowd cheered.

Plinth-3

Gail’s gay dad

July 17, 2009

BloodYesterday I had time to kill and so I used my pay monthly film pass to go and see the entertainingly awful Blood; the last Vampire. I knew nothing about it and I know nothing of the anime original, so anime boffins out there, don’t give me a hard time. This is very much a Roy Walker style review, if you get my drift.

Go and see it. You won’t be disappointed. It’s truly rubbish. And it’s only 80 minutes long. You’ll find nothing new here. It’s your standard half vampire/half human schoolgirl takes on the baddy vampires type of stuff. It’s Buffy meets Blade. It’s Bluffy.

Here’s why you should see it. The film obviously couldn’t afford any big stars, so they’ve gone and got characters from English soaps to try and pretend they’re Hollywood big-shots. Look! There’s Larry Lamb (dad of George) from Triangle and Eastenders doing his best to be Jon Voight. And he does a good job. But it’s still Larry Lamb, dad of George, rather than Jon Voight, dad of Angelina.

And who’s this sinister character who only gets one scene that doesn’t really make any sense? Why, it’s Gail’s gay dad from Coronation Street. You might also recognise Gail’s gay dad as the Nazi who wrestles with Harrison Ford atop a tank in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. We need more actors like Michael Byrne (Gail’s gay dad) and Ian Mckellen, who popped up in Corrie as dodgy novelist Mel Hutchwright. More actors who can play Nazis and mutants and wizards… and then pop into The Rovers for a pint.

And my favourite; Liam Cunningham. A fine Irish actor with many great performances behind him no doubt. But not this one. It’s not his fault. I’m guessing the producers asked for a Harvey Keitel type. Grizzly bearded, wearing a fedora and shades, he goes for the Harvey look but in the end comes across more like an Elvis Costello tribute act.

Liam Cunningham

This film is an 18 certificate. What on earth were the BBFC thinking? Ok, so a samurai sword pierces someone’s eye, but come on, you get that in your average episode of High School Musical. This film should be a 15 at the very very most. Ideally a U. It’s bloody, yes. But only in a bubbly CGI kind of way. The last thing Blood; the Last Vampire is, is a film for adults.

If you are unlike me and don’t have time to kill; if your time is precious; then avoid it. But if you like a laugh, go.

And if you like vampire films, but good ones, why not try these? Near Dark, 30 Days of Night and Let the Right One In.

Watch the trailer for Blood; the Last Vampire here. My favourite bit? The caption “from a producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.

Say what you see.

Twitter off… then on

July 15, 2009

A few months back I knew nothing of blogging, of Facebook, of Twitter. And, in my own depressed way, I was happy. Then I did a bit of writing for some site or other, and I had to learn how to well… do it. You know, make a page, put in pictures, all that stuff. The job fell apart when the funder of the site fell under his own hedge, and suddenly I found myself with a new skill and nowhere to put it.

So, I started this blog. That was last November. And I’ve enjoyed it, and I hope a few of you have enjoyed my ramblings. but it’s a slippery slope isn’t it. Then I was made to look at Facebook. Oh, it’ll help me get work people say, failing to realise that I am truly unemployable. Then it’s Twitter. And I feel myself sucked more and more into an age that still seems forty years ahead of me.

But guess what? I like Twitter. Used well it’s fun. Look at me rambling on here. How much more would you have enjoyed reading this if I was forced into compacting it all down into 140 characters? And there are lots of funny people out there and we all play funny games where we come up with funny film titles and funny songs and everyone has a good laugh. Find the right people to follow, and even if you don’t know them you’ll start knowing them soon enough. For someone like me it’s ideal. I’m hopeless at speaking to people in the flesh but in the Twitterworld we are all equal.

So, a piece of technology I liked. Until today. When I try to do my usual inane twitterings but I’m stopped. My account has been suspended. It’s being “investigated due to strange activity”. All my activity is strange! Last night I ate a tub of anchovies and a packet of Bombay Mix for my tea.

“If we have suspended your account mistakenly, please let us know.” Well, I have. And they’ll do their best to get back to me in 30 days.

Twitter off.

10pm update:

Twitter on.

Well, it didn’t take 30 days thankfully, so I can calm down now and relax, although I am still hurt by Twitter investigating me for strange activity.

They haven’t replied. I just reappeared. I think it’s all down to This is the No Show. Thanks for your intervention guys, and Twitterers, if you’re not following them @The_No_Show then you should.

RIP Rob

July 14, 2009

RIP-Rob

Hither Green is my local station. And this is Rob’s corner.  He sold The Big Issue (and had a cheeky sidline in secondhand Travelcards). The second bit may have been frowned upon by the staff at the station, but Rob was liked and he’d been a regular fixture here for a good few years now.

So it was upsetting to come across this today. It was nice to see that the train people had allowed, and contributed to, this small memorial. I stood there for a few minutes and thought about my times and encounters with Rob; the times I’d bought The Big Issue, or, more likely, given him money and not taken a copy; the times I’d see him in the pub by the station, called The Station; the times I’d taken a secondhand Travelcard, paying as much as I would for a legitimate ticket even though he only wanted two or three quid; the times I’d given him my no longer needed Travelcard; the times I’d just nodded; the times I’d ignored him.

A elderly woman joined me and we chatted briefly. We both agreed he was a nice bloke, and that he had his up and his down days. His up and his down months. Sometimes he looked like he was getting himself together. Other times he looked like he was falling apart. He clearly had a problem with drink and drugs. But you still give, because we’re all in this together, and though I’d rather he hadn’t wrecked himself I try not to judge. Recently, he hadn’t looked too good.

He wasn’t old. At least not the way I look at people now. He’d have been younger than me easily.

Rest in peace Rob. It was only today I found out your name.

Actually, Lewisham People’s Day, but you wouldn’t have thought it. And yes, I know, I should have put Lewisham Police Officer’s Day, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it, and so I didn’t.

This year it was Lewisham People’s Day’s 25th Anniversary. Hurray! It takes place at Mountsfield Park, just across the road from me (when I’m not housesitting in Finchley, as I am as I type) and I love it. So do the police apparently. Every year more and more of them come. And it can get a little confusing as every year more and more sellers turn up selling plastic novelty police helmets. And then there’s the private security firm hired to frisk us all as we go in. And they frisk everyone. The police liaised with the “young people of Lewisham” to see what could be done to make the day more harmonious. The kids understandably said “don’t just pick on us”. So, we all get picked on- sorry, searched, frisked. I briefly panicked as, just like at the airports, my asthma inhalers come under perplexed scrutiny. Lad-di-da. Today, Mountsfield Park has to be the safest place on Earth.

Queue Gardens

Queue Gardens

Here we all are, queueing to get in. My bag was searched, I was frisked. A security guard explained to a young mum ahead of me, “It’s to stop the gangs.” When I was young my second-ever 7″ single was I’m the Leader of the Gang (I am) by Gary Glitter. To this day I’m not sure how I feel about my lack of any kind of gang membership. Maybe a Lewisham posse’ll sign me up.

once inside we all had a fine old time. Including the police. Look! Here they are enjoying MC Grippah and Bizzman down at the Dance for Life stage.

Lewisham-People's-Day-2009-

Ok, so why so many police? Well, it seems most years the Day ends with a good old runaround. The kids runaround, the police chase them. Everyone just likes running around. It can be scary if you’re not part of the chasing game, but I don’t think it’s quite as bad as the Lewisham portrayed in my latest read, In the Dark by Mark Billingham. It’s a great and thrilling read, and I recommend it, though I’m not so sure he’s describing the Lewisham I live in; “The place felt like somewhere people would visit only if they had to; only if the life they endured behind their own four walls was close to intolerable”. Then again Mark, spot on!

But it’s not all frisking and pretend plastic police helmets. There’s real ale tents, food from all over the world, theatre, jazz, world music, performance, dancing, stalls… great stalls, like Lewisham Youth Theatre’s, which this year was excitingly placed opposite the Ageing Well Funclub.

And then there’s Sucker! Featuring my comedy partner, Trev Neal. They’ve played every Lewisham People’s Day since it all started 25 years ago. Maybe. Trev, Josh, David and Gianfranco played there unique South London punk underneath the Mountsfield Park bandstand. You’ll never have heard anything like Sucker. Imagine a band made up of Paul Weller, Joe Strummer, David Bowie and Silvio Berlusconi (how about that for a bit of casual racism… though Trev’s the Berlusconi one- oops, that was meant as a joke, though he is off to Sardinia for his hols).

Here they are in action. Not bad for a bunch of oldies.

Trev, Josh, Gianfranco and David aka Sucker

Trev, Josh, Gianfranco and David aka Sucker

Four snails and a chip

July 11, 2009

As I came back from Lewisham People’s Day (I’ll write about the day tomorrow), as I walked to Hither Green Station, I saw four snails eating a chip. Or maybe pushing it home. This was new for me. I’ve never seen this before. It’s possibly the most exciting thing I’ve seen since I saw a wasp battle a spider (the wasp won by eating the spider’s legs).

I stopped and looked on in wonder. There was no one around so I felt pretty cool about taking a snap. And then a woman turned the corner and walked towards me, just as I was in macro mode. I felt an urge to share the moment. She was impressed. She laughed. And as she walked away she turned back and said “Shame. Someone’ll not see them and stand on them.” She was quite likely right. There’s not much you can do in a situation like this to help a snail. You can’t shoo them along, as you would a cat. You can’t prod them, as you would a frog to make it hop out of danger. You can’t even pick them up without risking crunching their home to pieces. And even if you could do any of these things, what of the chip, their greatest and largest meal ever?

I hope they enjoyed their last supper.

Four-snails-and-a-chip

The Fourth Plinth

July 8, 2009

Plinth

the fourth plinth

I wandered through Leicester Square yesterday to take a look at the fourth plinth. For a hundred days the plinth will have a person on it. A different person every hour. That’s 2400 people. Here you can see one of them… if you look closely.

The art project is called One and Other. It’s by… well… 2400 different people. But the man behind it all is Anthony Gormley; the man who gave us the Angel of the North and the Peckham bollards. You can watch all the action live here 24 hours a day for the next 100 days.