Vinter Vonderland

December 24, 2009

When I was a child I was in The Curse of the Werewolf. No, not the Oliver Reed/Hammer horror one. It was a musical we did at school and I played the chief of police, Otto someone. A madman with an uncontrollable false arm; his real one ripped off by a werewolf, the new false one unable to stop sieg heiling. It was Dr. Strangelove in a Salford comprehensive. I had to do a German accent, and it was as good as the one you can do when you read out this post title. I also sang a song (again with a German accent- tricky that one) called Don’t be a Silly Sceptic. Why didn’t I realise the young Germanpast-me was trying to give the old future current-me some life lesson I have since chosen to ignore?

These memories flooded back as I entered Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with my cousin Jessica and her son. There they go, up above, heading off.

I had these memories because, like my Inspector Otto, Winter Wonderland seems a little Germanic, but without going the whole hog. I think it’s maybe some kind of fair transported over from somewhere in Germany but I can’t be bothered checking (it’s Christmas Eve and there are presents to wrap). All the signs are in German. Well most. Occasionally you will see as small Exit sign hung over a larger Ausfahrt one.

Spuk was a bit of a giveaway. From a distance Jessica misread it. It gave us something to laugh about as a trapped pigeon battled against a plastic window as we ate chicken sausages in a knocked up Bavarian hut. I’d never had a chicken sausage before. It was, like most things in life, ok.

We didn’t go on Spuk. Don’t worry about the man hanging. It was a Ghost Train. Though trains and death and German theme parks could easily unsettle the most ignorant of Christmas tourists.

Here’s Wellenflug. No idea. No time to look it up. Attention! is maybe not the kindest or most sensitive way to get your… well… attention. It’s something about that exclamation mark that once again takes me back a few decades. But I was charmed by the grammar, making me once again feel at home with my most naturalistic of German performances way back in the late 70’s. Don’t be a silly sceptic you’ll never get on/ Don’t be a disbeliever it’s not any fun.

When my friends Claire and Jimmy heard I was going to Winter Wonderland they told me to read AA Gill’s review. I haven’t. I know he won’t like it. And I’m scared he’ll be really funny about it and make me feel unworthy and useless, even though no one really reads this and no one pays me anything for anything.

No! I won’t read AA Gill. He shot a monkey! (Yes, yes, I know, but monkey’s a nicer and funnier word than ape)*. So, he shoots a monkey for the hell of it and I’m going to be all self righteous and declare that I have never shot a monkey and how dare he! I bet he wandered around Winter Wonderland shooting  Germans.

Here’s the deal: it’s a little bit rubbish. It’s very expensive. Cheapest ride for the young ones, the most basic of rides, £2. Dearest ride £68.43. Maybe.

But the staff were nice. And at Christmas, with the kids, that’s a good thing.

Happy Christmas one and all. x

* Doh! It was a monkey all along. See comments below and thanks to Jonathan for helping out.

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Broadstairs in the snow

December 22, 2009

My daughter is dating David Platt and I’m not happy.

For those who know me you know I believe Coronation Street to be real. For those who don’t know me, you’ll most likely think I’m just being funny, or weird, or perverse. But the great thing about beliefs is that that’s all you need. Reason goes out of the window. I believe Coronation Street is real… so there!

And psycho David Platt is going out with my daughter!

My daughter is Kirsty Leigh Porter.

Kirsty Leigh Porter (pic courtesy of Holy Soap)

Kirsty was only my daughter for a day. Trev and myself were writing for a show called My Spy Family. Kirsty played Marcy Desmond, and in one of our episodes, The Quiz Night Affair, I played her father Mr Desmond. He was a wild haired weirdo. I didn’t have to do much. Just turn up.

But now she’s changed her name to Zoe and is slowly creeping into Corrie as bloody Platt’s girlfriend. I’m going to have to put my foot down.

Crate Expectations

December 21, 2009

Ok, it’s not a great picture, but I shouldn’t have taken it in the first place. That’s because we’re in the dark here and there should be no light. I used no flash, but there would have still been a faint orange glow from the autofocus. Sorry Tate Modern. And I apologise sincerely for this post’s poor title (though I like it… so not that sincere… but sorry anyways pun-haters).

This is the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern. And there’s always something worth seeing, whether it’s a big red horn or a large crack in the floor. Oh, I know my art and the right terms.

The large crack was called Shibboleth. I’d come across that word once before, in an episode of The West Wing. I had an understanding of sorts; that the word was a test, the right pronunciation showing whether or not you belonged to a certain tribe or another. At the heart of the West Wing Episode and the crack in the floor there is something being conveyed about racism and intolerance.

But,  when I go to the Tate Modern I don’t think like that. I see a big crack, and I hop from side to side and then try and stick my foot as far down as it will go. It’s fun. Then I read about Shibboleth, the work of art, and I become thoughtful. But not for long. I’m not sure you should have to read about a work of art to understand it. Sure, it helps. It Illuminates. But the reading and the experiencing seem like separate things.

That’s how I felt when I was in the big metal box yesterday. I just wanted to leap in, into the darkness, and run around.

It’s called How It Is. It’s by the Polish artist Miroslaw Balka. It’s a… Oh, why should I try to describe it when the Tate’s website does it so much better:

Hovering somewhere between sculpture and architecture, on 2 metre stilts, it stands 13 metres high and 30 metres long. Visitors can walk underneath it, listening to the echoing sound of footsteps on steel, or enter via a ramp into a pitch black interior, creating a sense of unease.

I wasn’t uneasy. I was happy and excited. I loved it. It’s a huge metal box that you just vanish into. No edges, no end, until you bump into them in the darkness. It’s so huge I couldn’t help but make a cheap joke in there about feeling like a midget illegal immigrant. I shouldn’t have of course, because when you read again, you read that the work has been inspired by such realities. And, like Shibboleth, the work is associated with the darker moments of recent history and the terrible crimes race can commit against race.

I’m going to stop reading.

The work is great fun. Go and see it. Or not, since you will be in the darkest place you have ever been.

Go and see it. Run into it. Be daring. Go in as far as you can, til you hit a wall you never knew was there. Then kiss someone. Or kick someone. Or go boo.

Me and the Santas

December 13, 2009

Last year I bumped into the mass Santas, by accident, in Leicester Square. You can see me with them here. This year I bumped into the mass Santas, by accident, in Trafalgar Square.

I walked out of Charing Cross station straight into a streaming Strand of Santas. I followed them to the Square, and then I just wandered and mingled and snapped away. Mass Santas are a friendly bunch. They wish you a Happy Christmas and they give you gold coins. But not real gold. Inside is chocolate. Oh, and they like to throw sprouts around. They arrive with sprouts on stalks, pluck them off, and hurl them at each other. Some Santas drink, some smoke. One was smoking a fancy cigarette; perhaps a North Pole special. They dance and kiss and hug, and no one tries to stop them.

Who knows where they come from? Maybe the North Pole. Maybe Facebook.

I stopped by a policeman to ask. He was so young he looked like a little toy figure Santa may bring you to go with your Duplo village. Except he wasn’t that young. He was old enough to know me. Last year I was asked if I was “the man who worked with animals”. This policeman asked me if I used to be on Magpie! Cheeky bastard! How old did he think I was? Sorry… not cheeky bastard. He was very nice. As were all of the three police officers I could see there. They obviously trust the Santas to behave. And, to be the fair, the drunken one who dropped his bottle of beer and smashed it, did do his best to scoot the bits away into a corner with his black-booted foot.

Well done Santas for entertaining yourselves and us.

24 is real

December 8, 2009

I’m sorry blog. I’ve neglected you. Sure, I had an excuse for a few weeks. I was ill. But I’m back in the land of the breathing now. Sorry Mummified Fox. You deserve better and I will try harder.

But for now, to try and get going again, three random things.

Random thing one. When you go to Muffin Break– and don’t pretend you don’t, because you do- when you go to Muffin Break do you ever wonder where all the soup signs go when they aren’t needed? I know I do. And this last weekend, down in Muffin Break in Lewisham, I spied the answer.

Where the soup signs hide

I was sat on the near side of this central well when I saw the soup signs, hiding, cowering together in a corner. Or maybe they had broken free from the barber pole style danger tape. Who knows? I wasn’t trying to surreptitiously photograph an arse, or an old lady. Honest. I just felt a bit of humanity might help the picture.

Random thing two. We have a new road. Look! Here’s what a road looks like without cars on it.

The Road

Course, the cars are back now, waiting at the edges. Cats crawl under them and foxes duck and dive around them. occasionally, a car might move, and there’ll be another on standby, waiting to pounce and take its place.

Random thing three. I forget that Jack Bauer once visited Hither Green. It’s true. Everyday I go to my local newsagents and buy the guardian and The Mirror. (I say everyday, but today I betrayed The Mirror and bought The Sun, just because they had a Tiger Woods porn star story on the cover- I then had so little interest in the story I forgot to read it. Porn, it’s so ephemeral isn’t it).

Anyways, so, yes, Jack Bauer. A few years back he was in the area and he has some connection with the people who own the newsagents, and he called in, and he signed some photos for them, and they are on display in the shop. They’re signed Kiefer Sutherland, but I know it’s Jack Bauer.

I’ve seen enough of 24 to convince myself it, and Jack, are real. And if you dare claim otherwise I will set Tony Almeida (the only terrorist to be named after a poncey theatre) on to you.