Friday, March 31, 2006

Room 101

Back by popular request. Oh, OK, I can't think of anything else to blog, so it's back. And this time the contender is:

Da da da da da da doooo...

Yes, Eastenders. Honestly, some people have no ear for music!

It's not the unrelenting misery that I particularly object to (I would have no problem with the BBC showing performances of Hedda Gabler, or Waiting For Godot, for example). Well, as long as it didn't displace something really good like Celebrity Fit Club.

It's the total failure of the programme to reflect anything like London life. Walford tube is, according to the Wikipedia entry, at the precise point of the tubemap as Bromley by Bow. A mere 5 minutes on public transport from Brick Lane, and about 20 minutes from Oxford Street. And yet, there are Norfolk villages with a more cosmopolitan population.

Firstly, there is no social mix. With house prices in London being so high, and people like teachers and nurses finding it difficult to get on the property ladder, even relatively poor areas have their share of singletons or couples who are first time buyers, who would be a little less, well, chav. Perhaps there is an unseen population of normal people in Albert Square, who work and socialise away from the area, maybe have jobs in nearby Canary Wharf, and avoid The Queen Vic. Who wouldn't? OK, there is the occasional doctor or vicar, but they never seem to fit in very easily.

And Albert Square looks like a decent enough place; no East End 1960s tower blocks and sink estates here. Nice Edwardian type houses around a green space, within commuting distance to Canary Wharf and Zone 1. I'm amazed that so many people can live in relatively nice houses while working occasional shifts at a chip shop; a pub; and on market stalls. Do they ever get a job in that strange world just 20 tube minutes away, if that, called Central London, where they could at least work a till in Dorothy Perkins in Oxford Street? Oh no. Very occasionally, when there is a particular celebration, the characters will talk about going "Up West" in the manner that a Victorian explorer might suggest a trip up the Orinoco.

There are no students; no "arty" types who can't quite afford Hoxton; nobody with pink hair; no goths. Well, students would probably get beaten up, 'cos they do that strange book learning thing, so they must be gay, right? Yes, they do have gay characters, but maybe not quite as many as you'd expect for London. And the racial mix never seems convincing. You never hear any extras in The Queen Vic, for example, speaking in a foreign language. Although there are non white characters, they never get to the critical mass necessary to distinguish Walford from, say, suburbs like Staines or Woking (and they never seem to be the ones who stay for a long time, or turn the actors into major celebrities). Not a true depiction of the East End, where a bus ride reveals a wonderful mix of saris; people chatting animatedly in Russian and Polish; African women in butterfly bright dresses and turbans; people with so many facial piercings they probably take 3 hours and a strip search to get through the scanners at airports; and just about anybody else.

Eastenders is The East End as seen by somebody who lives in rural England, who uses a biography of The Krays as their sole point of reference. It's a shame, because there is a really exciting serial to be made about the real East End, if somebody were to try.

Disclaimer: will the lawyers working for Dorothy Perkins please note that I'm not really suggesting that the store would employ some of the female characters depicted; let's face it, most of the stock would disappear overnight.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Meme from Diamond Geezer

Many thanks to Diamond Geezer for this meme:

Seven things in your fridge:
Milk; cabbage; a bottle of white wine; the left overs from a meal which wasn't nice enough to eat the first time; a nasty stain; a human head which I will be delivering to one of my business associates soon, as a warning. And I can't mention the last thing as it's too nasty to speak about.

The first time you went abroad:
A trip to Brittany with the Bodmin Children's Choir. I was 11. We sang songs in Cornish, Breton and English. I don't know where Mr Johnson, the primary school teacher who set up the choir, is now. There were rumours that he joined a religious order. But, having totally rejected the Christian religion, I have total respect for all the time and effort he put in to giving us a wide cultural experience.

The last 5 people to send you a spam message:
I don't know, as I delete all of these messages as soon as I get them. I believe one of them was a Nigerian prince, though.

If you were a chocolate biscuit, which type of chocolate biscuit would you be?
One that was accidentally left on the chair of a certain ex-boss of mine, and which melted onto her very expensive trousers, so that she looked incontinent when she got up.

Describe your best friend using Madonna titles:
Like a Prayer. Available every time you have a problem, and very well meaning. But not much more effective than you in solving it.

Describe the funniest thing you've ever seen a kitten do:
(Yes, I love them too, it's only Photoshop!)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sad News

I've written here before about the badgers I see sometimes at the end of our street. It's always fun when you come back late at night and see one trotting along the pavement. They always squeezed through a gap in the hedge to the grounds of a nearby hospital where they had their sett.

So I was rather upset to pick up the local free paper this morning and see that a contractor working on the site is being prosecuted for destroying the setts, and possibly killing many of the badgers, who would have been buried and crushed.

There is an earlier version of the story here which was published last Friday; it has now been established that the badgers did die, and the police have brought charges. This is truly awful, especially as the remaining badgers have been driven away and may not return. It will be a bit of local character that we have lost.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Site referrals again.

Somebody came by here looking for "toddler+scared+hoover+help". Well, in spite of having no parenting skills whatsoever, I do happen to know somebody who had this problem with their little boy and overcame it, by telling him this story. It honestly worked, and I hope it works for you.

Once upon a time there was a little boy called Luke. He liked helping his Mummy around the house. He helped her dust. He sang to her while she washed the dishes. But the one thing he didn't like was the nasty noisy hoover monster which lived in the cupboard. When it came out, Luke would hide his face in his hands and shudder at the big, loud noise, and would start to cry.

One day, Luke's Mummy cuddled him and told him a special story about the hoover monster. The hoover monster wasn't a monster, he was really a nice little hoover and his name was Marmaduke. He liked playing with his toy cars, and when Teletubbies came on TV, Marmaduke liked to sing along. He would like to be Luke's friend, but he knew that Luke didn't like him because he made such a loud noise. The nasty loud noise was actually Marmaduke laughing, but a hoover laugh is a lot louder than a human laugh. He didn't mean to frighten Luke.

The reason that the hoover monster made such a lovely laughing noise was because he was happy to be out of the dark cupboard. Because there was an even bigger monster in there which could roar and growl even louder than Marmaduke, with big yellow teeth and lots of smelly black hair, and this monster liked to bite people's faces off.

And if Luke ever made such a fuss again when Mummy hoovered, and delayed her getting to her nice afternoon gin and tonic, Luke's Mummy would let the big monster out, and Luke would find it very difficult to cry with his face all bitten off.

Luke never cried at the hoover again...

Hope this helps.

Oh, come on, I'm only joking!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Badger alert.

Because we live near Richmond Park, we occasionally see badgers around the locality. It's always a treat to see then galumphing over the road in the dark. So I was horrified to see this article in The Guardian.

There is a charity, The Badger Trust, which aims to stop this planned cull. I shall certainly be celebrating National Badger Day on June 17th.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Teenage kicks.

Just trying to do some "proper" writing tonight, revising a short story, but, as always, I'm getting distracted. I'm listening to Suggs on Virgin Radio (a great show, by the way), and getting all nostalgic. I remember Madness from when I was about twelve, although I was more an Adam And The Ants fan. This drew me to trying to remember the first song that I actually remember hearing.

When I was tiny, I remember hearing Cat Stevens singing Morning Has Broken on the radio in the kitchen when my Mum was cooking. I was convinced it was really my Dad singing to me through the radio; I've no idea why, my Dad's singing voice bears absolutely no resemblance to Cat Stevens. Or any other individual who might find themselves within a hundred miles of a recording contract (sorry Dad).I now realise that this song was released in May 1972, and was a hit at around my third birthday.

Another favourite that I remember was from November that year, the quaintly titled Mouldy Old Dough. This was a track recorded by Lieutenant Pigeon, who included older pianist Hilda.

It's wierd that when you think of your first musical memories, it's clear that you obviously become aware of music at a certain age, as those tracks were hits within about 4 months.