Shred seven

January 27, 2010

I’m shredding.

It’s therapeutic. I think. It’s difficult to know.

I’ve just started reading and watching Dexter. It’s a difficult balancing act. Episode 1 is faithful to the first book. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, which I am a third of the way through. How should I get my next thrill? From the pages of a book or the bloody TV? I’m trying to keep ahead with the book, but it’s a close call.

And in the meantime, I am called, not by the Moon but by the Sun, to shred and shred. It could become a bad habit and so I am limiting myself to seven bags a day. For those who like specifics, they are mainly Co-op and Tesco bags. Of course this is bad; the bags could be re-used and the paper could be recycled. But who knows of any good habits?

Possibly shredding stops me from killing. It’s difficult to know. I’ve never wanted to kill, but know I’ve started shredding, what if I stop and a darker urge creeps in and takes over?

I’m not shredding everything. Only paper, and then mainly very very old contracts and stuff dating back to last century. Oh, and all the Trev and Simon ideas that have got nowhere. There’s a few of those, can you believe?

And sometimes I come across stuff that make me laugh or cry or sit in silence for fourteen minutes or jump or sneeze.

Look! Here’s the script from the Trev and Simon Rank Tour. This was a tour for the Rank Organisation, though it also describes the trek in many other ways.

We toured nightclubs, not theatres or cabaret venues. This is a common thing, normally done by celebrities or people from soaps, or, more likely these days, reality TV folk. What they’d do is turn up, look glamorous, sign autographs, hang around, maybe play a few records, cop off.

That’s it. And that would have been all we would have to have done. Except, it’s not really us. We’re not glamorous and we can barely think of ourselves as celebrities. We just about get away with thinking of ourselves as comedians, and so we felt it was our duty, our job, to at least try and put on a show.

So we’d troop out dressed as the Singing Corner, then, for a second set, as Mick McMax and Moon Monkey.

We must have been mad. Sometimes we wouldn’t get on for our first set until 1am. If we were lucky we’d get to do the first bit at midnight. This would be in a nightclub on what they called Student Night.  Known to everyone else as Tuesday.

On our very first one we attempted to do a set. We’d worked at it, written it, honed it… Well, ok, maybe not quite honed. But, you know, we’d written stuff, learnt stuff… well, ok, maybe not quite learnt. We’d familiarised ourselves with two twenty minute sets of business.

We come out and we’d face-

Well, anything from constant Swing Your Pants chanting, to a bunch of kids so young they wouldn’t have a clue who we were. They’d point and laugh and titter at our wigs, as if we were an actual act called The Singing Corner and were trying to pass off these wigs and beards as our own facial and headial hair.

It wasn’t without fun. Once we realised there was no point in trying to do comedy as we knew it we swapped our role for more that of gameshow hosts. We’d get some drunken kids up on stage and get them to do stupid things like swap each others clothes, hiding inside a giant duvet while we sang I Love My Shirt. It passed the time. And occasionally we saw someone’s arse.

This isn’t us.

Right, back to the shredding.

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Stupid stupid stupid

January 26, 2010

It’s taken me an age to track this down. Sometimes, in films, certain bits stand out when the rest of the movie disappears. All I can remember is stupid, stupid, stupid; a phrase that often goes through my head, usually aimed at myself.

I knew it was from some legal film. I knew it was a woman in a courtroom reading out a letter. Until tracking it down down, just now, I’d have stumped for A Civil Action with John Travolta. And I’d’ve been wrong. It’s The Rainmaker, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Clearly (to me) not as memorable as his other The films; The Godfather, The Godfather II, even The Godfather III and, of course, the Apocalypse Now one (ok, I cheat a little). But it had it’s moment. And here it is:

So it has stuck with me and I hear it often, in my head, with that flat somethin’ stoopid Sinatra intonation, telling me off; stoopid, stoopid, stoopid.

So what’s the stupidest thing I could do? Well, I’m still alive so I didn’t walk in front of a car or fall off a cliff or push my head up close to a bacon slicer. Instead I sat in the bar of a swanky hotel, and, needing to go to the toilet, decided it would be absolutely fine to leave my bags for less than the  minute it might take me to have a wee.

Altogether now; stupid, stupid, stupid.

That’s ok. I can take it. Leave your comments.

See, maybe I have too much faith in human nature. What’s that I hear you all shouting in unison? Having faith in human nature is one thing, leaving your bags unattended in a public place in London is stupid, stupid, stupid.

Oh, who cares.

I had three bags; one with all my stuff in it, two full of presents. The robber only took my bag. And for that I thank him (I know it was a him because there was a witness).

The presents were for my girlfriend.

Ok. Big pause. That last sentence was a fair enough thing to write; they were presents for my girlfriend. There! I’ve written it again. It must be true. It seems I have a girlfriend.

Ok, so, if you’re reading this and you don’t know me, either personally or in my professional role as a former TV idiot, then what you’ve just read is no big deal. Everyone has girlfriends, wives, husbands, partners, children, pets.

If you do know me, then you most probably think I’m lying. I’ve made it up. I’m delusional.

If you don’t know me, but know who I am from the world of childrens’ TV, then you most probably think I’m gay.

Well, it’s true. That I have a girlfriend that is. Though at the age of 47 girlfriend just sounds silly. I asked my friend Claire if it was ok at my age to say girlfriend. She answered, Of course not; she’s your bird!

Partner‘s out of the question; it makes it sound like business, and whatever business we may or may not get up to, I doubt anyone’s going to make any money out of it. (I went to see Stewart Lee the other night and as I picked up the tickets the box office* asked me for the name of my partner- I was so shocked I almost said Trev).

No. Partner no way. Other options are either unrepeatable or silly. Although my lovely lady has a nice ring to it. Anyways, this is no big deal to you, dear reader, just me and her. Ok. just me. She is real. Honestly. But back to robbing and stupidity.

My robber got away with a nice bag bought for me as a present by my friend Sarah. And inside:

  • My Richard Hawley T-shirt (Christmas present from Andrea)
  • My glasses
  • Socks, underpants, a shirt
  • an umbrella
  • Two inhalers
  • An electric toothbrush
  • A beard trimmer
  • Some toiletries
  • Oh… and my camera

My camera is (was) old, doesn’t work too well and was £99 when I bought it. Still, it was my camera, and until someone gives me a job my blog will remain pretty photoless.

Other than that, good luck robber. Try making a bit of money out of the rest of the crap in there. I hope, just to make it all worthwhile, that you have asthma and a minor sight defect that matches mine. But I don’t want you to be a Richard Hawley fan. I want you to take that T-shirt and throw it into Truelove’s Gutter (no disrespect to you there Andrea, and your lovely present. It just feels like a romantic end for the T-shirt).

I was stupid, stupid, stupid. But I don’t care. I can’t afford not to care, but there we go. I don’t. Bye bag and things.

I checked my insurance policy. Things were looking good until I got to clause 8.1 or somesuch. We do not pay out for baggage left unattended unless it is in a locked room. What do you think we are? Stupid, stupid, stupid?

Clause 8.1.1 You’re the stupid one. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Ha ha ha!

Clause 8.1.2 You’re lucky he didn’t steal your willy whilst you had a wee, you stupid, stupid, stupid… thing.

Clause 8.1.3 We love insurees like you.

Who knows why the robber took the one bag and left the two bags of presents. Here’s my two top theories:

Theory 1: He didn’t want to draw attention to himself. He was seen, by the witness, to drop his gloves alongside my bag. He stooped to pick them up, and in the same movement scooped up my bag and swooped out of the exit. To pick up the other two bags would have involved clumsy movements and drawing attention to himself.

Theory 2: He saw they were bags of presents. He thought to himself; I’m a kindly robber and these are presents for his lovely lady. They’ve been apart over Christmas and the New Year, I have a heart, and I am only going to cause this man minor anguish by taking his bag and leaving the presents alone. I wish you both a good evening, and now I’m off, to see if I can get a quid off Wheezy Dave down the pub for a half-used Beclazone inhaler.

I’m opting for Theory 2.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I know.

I don’t care.

Me, looking like a robber, in Alcatraz

* Using Box Office and making it speak is, I think, an example of a synecdoche, like in the film. So, even though I am stupid, stupid, stupid, I can still show off and make out like I am not, sort of, even though I really wanted to write the Box Office person, cause it seems silly having a box office that can talk.

Stewart Lee

January 24, 2010

I went to see Stewart Lee perform his latest show, If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One. This was a few nights ago. Last Wednesday. I’ve wanted to write about it. Not a review as such; I’m incapable, I’d get word-tied. I’ll leave the reviews to journalists like Nigel Pauley writing in the Daily Star. Here’s his take on one routine executed by the “posh comic”.

I’ve wanted to write about it but I’ve been unable to. I’ve put it off. And off. And off. And the reason is, I’m scared.

Not scared like as if Stewart Lee was a ghost or something; or a madman who might track me down and hurt me. I’m scared because he is so good. I almost have to stop thinking, because I know no matter how much I think, I will never be able to think like him. If I was a stand-up comedian I would see Stewart Lee and I would give up. There and then. I wouldn’t just give up stand-up comedy. I’d give up standing up. I’d give up moving. I’d devote myself to inertia. Nothing I could do would ever be as good and ………………………………………………. ………………………. …………….. …………………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………….. ……………………. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. ………………………………………………………………. See? I just can’t……………………………

…………write now.

I laughed out loud throughout the show.

That’s it. That’s my review.

I’ll continue waffling on though because I can and I have license to. My licence was granted to me by one of Lee and Herring. I can’t remember who now, because this was many years ago and I am old and………………………… …………………………………………………… ………………………………….. …………………………………………………………….. …………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………. ………………………………………hell

………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. ………………………………………………………….

……………………….did the following even happen?

They gave me the licence to write this because I have nothing to live up to. I can’t fail because I am starting from the standpoint of being an idiot.

I met them at a radio station. They had copies of their Fist Of Fun book with them. They kindly gave me a copy………………………………………

…………or did they? Did I steal it? Was it given to me by the radio host who may or may not have been Danny Baker? I can’t remember.

Somehow, I had the book. And I asked them to sign it. They did. They wrote, To Simon, You are an idiot, best wishes, Lee and Herring.

Maybe.

The To Simon, You are an idiot bit they definitely wrote. I’m not sure how they signed off. They may have put Stewart and Richard, or some variation. They may have written all the best or lots of love, or swing um pant or something. I don’t know. I can’t remember. I’d check, but the book’s in storage and going there brings me out in a sweat and reminds me of all the mistakes I’ve made in my life and drags me down and

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. …………………………………………………………………I wish my storage unit would disappear………………………………….. …………………………………………I’m paying money I don’t have for things I don’t need….. ……………………………

No! I need my Fist of Fun book.…………………………………………………………

It makes me laugh, still- Simon, You are an idiot – but I don’t know why. What did they mean? Am I an idiot? Is that good or bad? It’s got to be bad really, hasn’t it? But maybe it was a joke. Just a joke. But we’re all products of that weird thing from the past that was Alternative Comedy, and the one thing we all know is there’s no such thing as just a joke.

Stewart Lee. He tells a great joke about Richard Hammond. See the review above. It’s merciless and cruel and funny and true and hurtful and sometimes not true but still true. If I was Richard Hammond I would see it and be rendered inert.

I’ve searched the internet. I want to know what Richard Hammond thinks. There’s nothing. He’s inertiad by Lee. In the same way that Pasquale has been inertiad (I know there’s no such word. What do you take me for? An idiot? But I know what I mean. I think. I……………………………………………………. ………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………….it keeps happening

Pasquale. Watch Stewart Lee’s Pasquale routine. It’s there; on You Tube. I’m not putting up a link. Fear eats away. I’m not sure what Stewart would think. And that matters to me. But it’s there. Take a look. If you don’t laugh and laugh and laugh then maybe he’s not for you. I laugh and then I have no choice but to remain still and useless for at least an afternoon.

Pasquale must be inert. He’s never said How dare you, Lee! He’s kept quiet. There is no comeback to such a perfectly formed routine. Stewart Lee is a ninja………………………………………………………. …………………………………………………………………….. ……………………………………… …………………….. ……………….. ……………..now I’ve written that and it’s, it’s meaningless. Of course he’s not a ninja. He’s not even like a ninja, though he does tend to wear black. He’s more Mick McManus to Pasquale’s Jackie Pallo. Except Stewart and Joe’d never wrestle and……………………….. ……………………………………………… ……………………………………………though Bob Mortimer did once box Les Dennis

I really don’t know how to go on

Not much comedy makes me laugh. I like to laugh, it’s just that

………………….I’m not one of those comedians (I could just stop that there). I’m not one of those comedians who stroke their chins and nod and say that’s funny. If something’s funny, I laugh.

Frankie Boyle can make me laugh. I’ll laugh out loud at his rudery on Mock the Week, though I have rarely laughed at the show. He’s gone now. Stewart Lee does a routine about Mock the Week, without naming the show, that again is so perfect, so formed, that all comedians on Mock

………………………………………..just stop

Comedy makes me laugh when, well, it’s funny but also when I feel that the comedian has no choice but to do and say what he or she is saying. They are compelled. It drives them. It is them. And we know it’s them, it’s all them, it’s not an act, it’s

……………………………….Stewart Lee, Johnny Vegas, Richard Herring, Frank Randle, Andy Kaufman

not Bill Hicks.

Have I gone too far? Have I proved  my idiocy? He’s never made me laugh. All comedians love him. He’s the comedian’s comedian. I’ve never got past 7 minutes. I feel I’m being lectured. He says funny things but he seems smug. He also famously said Do a commercial, you’re off the artistic roll call, every word you say is suspect, you’re a corporate whore and eh, end of story. That’s just some big mouth, clever enough to earn money doing what he loves, getting all self righteous. I did a commercial in 1995. I earned enough to buy a car, a Ford Fiesta. I’m still driving the same car. Bill Hicks can fuck off.

Stewart Lee is my Bill Hicks (even if he’d say the same about commercials, spit in my face and damn me to

…………………………………… ………………………………………………………….. …………………………………….. ……………………………It was only the one.

…………….It wasn’t even a commercial. It was an advert. I wasn’t and still am not clever enough to get by without them.  I’d do another if I was offered. I’ve got a 15 year old car and no home

………………………………………………………………………………………….I wouldn’t do one for guns or anything like that

……………………………or poison

……………………………………………………..or fascism

……….just sweets, or beer, or cheese, milk

………………………………..flowers

pets

……………………ciggies

Where was I?

Stewart Lee opened with a routine about Cafe Nero loyalty cards. Before getting into it he asked an audience member to name their favourite coffee franchise. The audience member said Starbucks.

I’d’ve said Muffin Break. I went there today. They have a loyalty card they hole punch instead of marking with ink. And you get a free coffee every five goes. Also, all their muffins are baked on the premises and the staff in the Lewisham branch are unglamorous and say hello and smile

…………………..maybe I can be the face of Muffin Break

….I’ve lost this post completely.

Fourth Row

January 14, 2010

I’m on a plane. An A319 plane fans. And, plane fans, you may have seen the title of the post and you may be laughing the laugh of a plane fan who knows what’s coming.

I’d booked my seats online; both for the two flights out from Gatwick to San Francisco (changing at Charlotte) and the two flights back to Heathrow, changing in Philadelphia. But those online things stand for, as my 7 year old nephew William might make up, jabba zazoo wack poo. So, when I check in and am given seat 87P (or 141T… all seats that don’t exist, but you get the drift) I have to ask nicely to see if I can get an aisle seat.

I like aisle seats. I can’t claim to have a condition, but I really get sweaty and confused and desperate if I’m trapped in. I’ll start to rock and hum to myself and, given time, I’ll punch out the window, climb out, and start eating the wing.

As I say, it’s not a condition, it’s not a phobia. When I have analysed this… thing… the only sense I can make of it is that it has been passed down through the genes of my mother, who didn’t like hiding in the cupboard under the stairs during the Blitz. That’ll be it. And it’s a thing I have, not a condition, not a phobia. A thing, nothing more.

Oh, and I’m not really a fan of watches, or belts, or shoelaces. When I go to events where they make you wear those wrist-straps that can only come off by snapping and that you need to wear to get in and out (like at Glastonbury or the Vauxhall Caravan Park Interleague Pool Competition) I have to have them loose enough to be able to slip over my wrists without snapping them. I can keep them on, but I have to know that if necessary I can get them off. Even if it means dislocating my thumb.

It’s not a problem. I’m not crazy. It’s not a condition. Or a phobia. Just a little thing. A quirk.

I’d hate to be in prison. Locked in a cell, day after day.

And I’d hate handcuffs. That would be unbearable. I’d stop breathing just to bring it to an end. And legcuffs. Hobbling along in an orange boiler suit. Wait, I wouldn’t mind the boiler suit.

I wouldn’t like my hands to be handcuffed behind my back. That’d be bad.

I’d hate to be a gimp. With a red snooker ball in my mouth.

Other than that I’d be fine. It’s not really a problem. I’m cool. It’s a character trait. It gives me personality. It’s not a phobia or a condition.

It’s just that, given the choice, I’d choose an aisle seat.

And so, despite the early hour and my grumpy half awakedness, I am all sweetness and light when I meet the US Airways check-in lady.

I’m a little nervous of course since a previous blog post was a lightly humorous but disparaging take on US Airways cabin staff (though calling Virgin cabin staff pornographic would not commonly be taken as a compliment). A critical comment left on the post may well have come from one of their staff. I may be on a US Airways Top Ten Most Wanted list.

But no, things go smoothly, my seat is changed, I am given an aisle seat, and my seat number is D4.

D4! That sounds good, possibly great. Could it be that I have been upgraded? After all, the best seats are upfront. (Ok, not quite the best. The really best best are upstairs. I’ve never been upstairs on a plane… I can only dream of going upstairs. Everyone upstairs stands around at bars drinking cocktails. There’s a dancefloor. An Imax cinema. A petting zoo. You get to sleep in a rotating circular bed. With a stranger you’ll never see again. The cabin crew make you have sex in  the toilets. Upstairs is upstairs for a reason; it’s the bedroom of the plane; it’s Heaven.

This plane doesn’t have an upstairs. But it does have a Business Class. D4 has to be in Business Class. Surely.

Ha ha, laugh the plane nerds with their superior knowledge of the insides of an A319. Business Class is rows 1 to 3. There are 12 seats in Business Class. I’m the next row down. I’m unlucky 13.

Still, at least I have an aisle seat. I can relax. I’m not wedged, scared to even go to the toilet. I can come and go as I please. As long as my movements are backwards.

Forwards is a no go area. A curtain is drawn to cut me off from the toffs. But it’s a weird meshy curtain, like a fine chain mail. The kind of thing Arthur would wear in Merlin if it were made by Poundstretchers instead of the BBC.

It’s see-through. Like gauze, or gossamer, or a Virgin Stewardesses baby-doll nightie. I can see straight through it. I can see the man one row ahead of me watching Lord of the Rings. And worse; I can see a motherly stewardess in a Slanket handing out food! I am on a five hour flight, but because it’s domestic I get no food! Those business types are being offered hot hand towels. Me? I have to suck my own fingers clean. Not that they’re messy. No food!

And they’re drinking. Alcohol! Free booze! I can buy it, but it’s not the same. I settle for a tomato juice. My steward isn’t motherly. He isn’t fatherly. or brotherly. Although he does look a bit Monkerly. He’s wearing a fuzzy US Airways jumper and I bet there are really coarse horse hairs on the inside.

He gives me my drink and then, unbelievably, tips a whole jugful of ice cubes over me. I am covered in ice cubes. He tries to pick them up, fumbling around my nether regions, scratching under his jumper, but he can’t get them all. He does his best to apologise but I don’t feel as if his heart is in it. There’s an easy way to apologise in situations like these: Free booze!

I’m still finding stray ice cubes ten minutes later. Thirty minutes later my feet are in a puddle. And I’ve taken my shoes off.

At least the seatbelt signs gone off.

I hate being strapped in.

It’s arrived. The film you’ve all been waiting for. Well, one or two of you who may have read my initial post about our film’s anti-hero, Clint Frecklestone.

This is a film thought up by my niece and nephew, Kate and William, aged 11 and 7. You can find out more about its origins by clicking on the Clint Frecklestone link above. William also thought up the name Clint Frecklestone (pronounced Freckelstun).

We filmed it today, between 12pm and 3pm. We couldn’t fit the cast onto the video, so cast fans, here they are. All the actors are toy figures.

Clint Frecklestone- A cowboy figure

David Beckham- Captain Kirk

The Secret V lady- Lieutenant Uhura

The Detective- Dr. Who

And many soldiers and animal erasers and mini ninjas.

My input was minimal. Honest. It’s all their work. Here’s the film. We hope you enjoy it.

Shark attack

January 8, 2010

Last night I went to see the Sharks v the Blues. A week ago that would have meant nothing to me, but now… Let’s go Sha-arks!

I’m not a sporty type. I need a leg massage after a game of pool, but I’ll do my best for you.

This is NHL Ice Hockey, and I went along with my brother-in-law, niece and nephew to the HP Pavilion (sadly not named after the sauce) to see their local team, the San Jose Sharks, take on the St Louis Blues (I kept saying St. Louie, French style… and then getting told off. It’s wrong. You say the S at the end, St. Lewis stylee.)

The HP (not sauce sadly) Pavilion

The Sharks are doing well. They lost their last game after a long winning streak. So the pressure was on to beat the far less successful Blues. The Sharks are the Arsenal/Chelsea/Man Utd/Man City (Hurray! Who’d’ve ever thought I’d be typing that name up top) to the Blues Portsmouth if that helps. I tell you again, I’m not a sporty type. Though I did once sleep with Tiger Woods.

I liked the pavilion though. I felt like an extra in Sudden Death.

Once in the Pavilion we had our tea. I haven’t been to a football match in England for at least 35 years, so I don’t know what the stadiums are like these days. Do they do teriyaki chicken? Can you buy beer in glass bottles that you can then take in to your seats?

The overhead thing with the big screens* showed a clock counting us down to the start of the game. I say thing because I don’t know what you call those things. Just like I don’t know what you call the things that do that thing to the ice before the game and in the gaps between the halves… though there are three hlaves, and, oh, more of that later. Here’s a pic of one of the things, made to look like a shark. Everything at the Sharks’ stadium is sharky.

Shark ice thing

I’m shouting Kate. Kate! Kate! Oh, and William. William! William! What are those things called that they drive across the ice? Zamboni’s, shouts Kate.

Ok, it’s a Zamboni. I’ve just looked Zamboni up. Named after Frank Zamboni. But what is a Zamboni? Well, it’s an ice resurfacer.

As we get nearer the start a black clothed monster descends from above. It’s the shark the Sharks run through to get from the tunnel to the ice. The shark’s eyes glow red, it breathes smoke. Once the players are on the ice it gets winched up again, and if you look carefully, you can see a man up in the rigging gathering the black cloth. (I don’t mean you look. You can’t see him in my pictures, though you can see the unclothed shark hovering high in the left hand corner of the picture below).

Then it’s time for the National Anthem.

O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Of course I have no clue what it’s about, but those opening lines beat the hell out of God Save Our Gracious Queen, Long Live our Noble Queen… and you can’t do this with our National Anthem-

I stood, a young man sang it beautifully, I almost had a tear in my eye and I felt oddly patriotic for a country I don’t belong too. Can that be possible? What a start to the game.

So, the game. Firstly, the rules:

Each team has about 20 players, with only 6 on the ice at a time. They chop and change like crazy, jumping in and out of the rink (rink? I don’t know. Ice pitch?) They whack a puck about with big curvy sticks. They try to score goals. You have to be over a blue line before taking a shot, otherwise it’s a kind of offside type thing and then you have a powerplay when all the action moves to the other end and one of the three refs drops the puck between two rival players, rugby style. If you do a foul, like whacking another player with your stick, you get put in a little prison for 2 minutes, leaving your side a man down. Fighting is allowed, sort of. The game is split into three parts, called periods, each one 20 minutes long. The 2o minutes lasts about 40 minutes, since the clock constantly stops and starts so people and things can come and go and adverts can be shown and Make Some Noise interstitials can encourage us to make some noise.  Got it? Let’s go Shaaaa-arks!

The Sharks were meant to win this game. It’s not fair on my niece and nephew, at their first game, if things don’t go according to plan. Especially since I’ve bought them crappy flags to wave (heck, it’s the least I could do; my brother-in-law Andy had, after all, forked out something daft like $15000 for the tickets).

So, jump to the third period and the Sharks are 1-0 down. Now wonder Jody Shelley went and picked a fight with some poor Blues guy. And this was a proper fight. Sure, they’re shoving into each other all the time, but these two had a stand-off and then Shelley whacked the sucker with a right hook and then he got hit back, and for at least two minutes the game stopped and 17,500 people cheered the fight. Eventually, after Shelley had taken his hat off to use as a boxing glove, a ref stepped in and the two guys backed down. I’d have taken a photograph but I was too engrossed. And the penalty? Five minutes each in the prison place.

Later, watching the game back on TV, the commentators turned from hockey commentators to boxing commentators, neatly describing each move, blow and block. You might think this was all staged. I was there and I think these bozos were trying to hurt each other. William, 7, thought the fight was cool. me too.

Maybe the fight fired the Sharks up. With seven minutes to go Patrick Marleau equalised for the Sharks with a 54 foot slap shot (I’ve been reading the paper today). And at the end of time the score was 1-1.

But you can’t have a draw in NHL ice hockey. When the three 20 minute periods have been played and the score is level you go into overtime. 5 minutes of it. If it’s still a draw after that; penalties.

With 53 seconds of overtime remaining Dany Heatley got off a 14 foot wrist shot (please, no jokes, that’s what the papers say) and the Sharks won 2-1.

Well done Sharks for giving us a great night out. Keep on winning. Let’s Go Shaaa-aaarks!!! (Does funny Sharks shark dance holding both arms out, making fingers into jaws, and swinging open and shut like a big shark mouth… we all did it. You have to. And you have to too.)

Sharks 2, Blues 1 (OT)

* Andy has just told me the screen is called a Jumbotron. Oh, and he also saw a TV slot where a sports commentator said Shelley knew what he was doing; the fight was started to fire up the team and get them going. It worked.

One man and his dog

January 5, 2010

I went into San Francisco today with my mum and my sister. I took my camera but only took two photos because, well, it’s a little bit faulty. Not SF. My camera. Both pictures were off  a man and his dog.

This pic was taken just after the man and his dog had been moved on by the police in Union Square, San Francisco’s swanky shopping area full of upmarket department stores and just a dog’s stick’s throw away from the Tenderloin area; a part of SF that is just as it sounds. If you’re not sure what that means, join the club. I’m writing things I don’t understand myself. I once wandered into the Tenderloin during daylight hours. I saw desperate people. I saw a man push another man into a bin. Not shove him towards it, but actually stuff him headfirst into a big metal dustbin.

The policeman was kind, the man and his dog no trouble. The policeman took his time and during the conversation held his hand out for the dog to sniff. Once dog and cop were happy, patting took place.

I wanted to get a photo of that, but I was too slow. I think I was too slow on purpose. I’m uneasy taking photos of strangers. I feel unqualified to do it. So, I fumbled, and only got on with snapping once they were walking away. I feel, with a photo like this, that I am not violating the soul of the man or his dog. I may be wrong.

Here’s a touristy pic from a couple of years ago.

Clint Frecklestone

January 4, 2010

You may ask yourself “who’s Clint Frecklestone?” This may, or may not, be a picture of him. He hasn’t been cast yet. All you need to know for now is that he is a very very bad man.

Clint’s been created by my nephew, William, aged 7. I’m visiting my family in California and yesterday my sister, mum, niece, nephew and me headed down to Pacific Grove, a stretch of coast between Monterey and Carmel (where another Clint was once mayor). As we wandered amongst the rock pools, picking up hermit crabs and putting them back, we developed a film idea. It’s all the work of Kate and William, I’m just the mad uncle who encourages them to think crazy thoughts. I’m here til the 13th January. By then we will have made this film and it will be up on YouTube. It will be acted out by Kate and William’s toys. All of the following has been thought up by Kate, William and me a little. It’s our idea. No pinching. Here goes.

William started it all off by saying that in everything he watches, the bad guys dress the best. He went on from there and eventually reached the conclusion that bad men wear the best underpants.

And then, with no prompting from me, honest, William came up with the most inspired reasoning behind bad men and their underpants:

A bad man’s underpants are covered in pink hearts. Each pink heart represents a “kill”. To be a true bad man you need six pink hearts. You need to have killed six people. Clint Frecklestone has five pink hearts on his underpants. He is one pink heart away, one kill,  from being a fully fledged baddie.

And so there’s the set-up for our film. An anti-hero, one step away from fulfilling his potential, his dream; to be the proud owner of the baddest pair of underpants available, a pair with six pink hearts. Will he succeed?

This morning there was a development. I walked into the lounge and William stated who Clint Frecklestone had to kill to get his sixth pink heart; David Beckham.

We’ll work out the why’s and so on over the next few days. And, I think, with a bit of script editing intervention on my part, we’ll keep David Beckham safe and work on a redemptive plot line for Clint.

The title?

Bad Men Wear the Best Underpants.

The pics aren’t for the film. William just wanted me to take some photos of his soldiers shooting the seagulls. Sorry about the weird blotches; there’s something up with my camera.

Code Red in Charlotte

January 1, 2010

Queen Charlotte at Charlotte Airport

I’m zonked! I’m out of it. It’s 6.02am, except it’s not. A few hours ago it was midnight. And now it’s not. You’ve all had New Year and me, I just keep running away from it. I don’t want to. I’m looking forward to 2010. But I’m travelling backwards in time.

I left home at 7am, now it’s 6am back in London. But I’m at San Francisco airport waiting to meet my sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew and mum. They’re all coming back from Canada. I’m here and they’ll be here in half an hour and then we’ll race off to their home and hopefully make it in time for New Year. But I’ve already missed two New Years, what if I’m whisked back in time again and I miss a third?

You’ve had New Year. So’s Charlotte. that’s where I was… how many hours ago? Everywhere’s a different time zone in this country. I’m like Dr Who and Dr Where. I thought my flight from Charlotte to San Francisco was only two hours. I forgot I was crossing another three time zones.

I have been flying now for three days and two months. Non-stop.

I flew with US Airways. It sounds like a National Asthma Campaign but, honestly, they are an airline.

When I can afford to, I fly Virgin. They’re swanky. US Airways isn’t.

The main difference is the stewardesses. On Virgin they’re, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, pornographic. On US Airway, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, they’re more likely to be photographed for Saga magazine. Both airlines have stewards but they just fuss about.

Have I offended enough people yet? Am I behaving out of character? I’m jetlagged. Zonked! Not here. Travelling in time.

Charlotte airport was a bit of a shocker. I had to collect my luggage, go through passport control… (“What’s your job?”, “I swing my pants!”)… through customs, and then I recheck my baggage in. All quick and easy.

Then I go with my hand luggage to Zone B to check in for the domestic flight. Through security, take off my shoes, jacket, belt… I have no shape. My pants fall down.

Once through, I sit on the other side, and put my shoes etc. back on. And that’s when the world goes crazy. I stand just outside the security zone and one of the guards shouts “Code Red”. Word passes round quickly, from one guard to the next… Code Red, Code Red, Code Red… then sirens and red flashing lights. Shutters slam down at the entrance to the security checkpoint. I’m told to stand where I am. Everyone else is told not to move. A man emerges from the nearby Starbucks holding two coffees and he is told not to move. And we all stand there and wait.

I don’t know what’s happening, but, just for a moment, I do think I am going to die.

Amazingly, there is no panic. We all just stand, dead still.

One security guard, the one who told me to stand still, is about five yards away from me. He is holdng his hands up, indicating to everyone that they should not move. He is also trying his best to smile. but this doesn’t work. I think he wants us all to relax and believe that all is ok. But his smile gives him away. It’s fixed and as the minutes pass I notice his forehead slowly bead with sweat and then the beads trickle down towards his eyes.

I think bomb.

And then it passes. We are told to carry on and everything goes back to normal. No explanation. I didn’t ask for one. I found the bar and had a beer. And I was glad I’ll see in 2010.

Happy New Year everyone. Have a peaceful one. I need sleep. x