Friday, November 16, 2018

A Crappy Crapchester Christmas

We're at that time of year when, traditionally, we start complaining that the Christmas TV ads start earlier every year.  Perhaps they do.  Certainly this year, they feel as if we'd barely crossed the threshold of November when they started.  But as I can't ever remember when they started in previous years, I've no idea whether this really is earlier than usual.  When you think about it, though, pure economics would dictate that the Christmas advertising campaign has to start in November, if they are to capitalise on the sales potential of the season.  If they only started showing them two weeks before Christmas, potential customers simply wouldn't have time to buy all the crap they are trying to sell.  That said, I always thought that part of the fun of Christmas was all that last minute shopping: rushing around crowded shops fighting other shoppers for the last mince pies on the shelves.  The good old days.  At least most of this year's seasonal adverts seem less elaborate than usual.  Maybe money is tighter this year - I've noticed that Morrison's are running many of the same TV adverts they used last year. 

But Christmas has already been tainted for me this year.  Clearly today was the day that Crapchester's Christmas lights were switched on.  Which meant that when I traipsed into town to do my usual Friday after work shopping, I found myself having to fight my way through milling crowds - and I do mean fight.  Apparently it was all complicated by the fact that the main shopping centre, although physically one entity, is split,in management terms, into two main parts, all with their own decorations and Christmas trees.  Both decided to choose today for their switch ons.  Which meant that nobody knew which bit they should be in, so they just blocked every thoroughfare.  The staff seemed utterly ineffective in imposing any organisation and the whole thing seemed shambolic.  Those bloody street 'entertainers' I loathe so much were again in evidence (I had to shove some of them aside to get out of one shop) and just made things worse.  Really, it's ruined Christmas for me before it has even started!  Still, I should expect nothing less from Crapchester than a truly crappy festive experience.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Bad Day in Brexit Land

Even as we speak, Larry the Cat is undoubtedly preparing to take over as Brexit Secretary.  I mean, who else is there?   He's been biding his time for years, sitting in Downing Street, undermining various ministers - just look at how he usurped Nick Clegg's authority as Deputy Prime Minister during the coalition years.  Not to mention the way he sidelined Vince Cable.  I'm sure that he'll refocus the Brexit negotiations - on fish.  Before you know it, he'll be Prime Minister.  After all, he's in Downing Street already.  Moreover, he's more likely to be able to command a parliamentary majority than anyone else.  It really is all a mess, isn't it?  Cabinet ministers resigning left, right and centre, Jacob Rees-Mogg threatening to write letters, probably rude ones, denouncing Theresa May for having the nerve not to listen to his demented ramblings.  Actually, isn't it high time that May told Rees-Mogg to fuck off?  She'd get a vote of confidence from me if she was to find sufficient backbone to tell the obnoxious over privileged public school twat where to get off.  But she won't.  But it really is about time that someone called him out for the hypocrite that he actually is - busy trying to engineer the UK's withdrawal from the EU while simultaneously moving his hedge funds to Ireland to insure that his investors retain all the benefits of EU membership he wants to deny to the rest of us.  Not to mention his inconsistency on the subject of a second referendum: before he and his fellow brigands won the first one, he was all for a second bite of the cherry.

But getting back to those ministerial resignations - the reaction of the markets just underlined how irrational they are.  The pound's value dipped alarmingly when Esther McVey's resignation was announced.  Which is ridiculous, as surely the departure of that evil, stone hearted excuse for a human being from government should be a cause of celebration?  Knowing that she was no longer at the helm of the Department of Work and Pensions, oppressing benefits claimants, should cause the value of the pound to rise?  Because, if I believed in such things, I'd say that she is so irredeemably evil that she will burn in Hell for all eternity.  I'm clearly not alone in that opinion: she lost her seat at the 2015 general election and had to be parachuted into a nice safe Tory seat for the 2017 general election in order to ensure that her brand of uncaring evil was all present and correct for Mrs May's new government.  But despite all the setbacks, May is busy trying to sell her Brexit deal to anyone who will listen.  According to her it's either her deal, a no deal Brexit, or no Brexit at all.  Can I tick the box for the last option?  It's interesting that 'no Brexit' suddenly seems to be back on the table.  Except that it isn't.  Unless there's another referendum, of course.  All day I've heard the mantra from Tory ministers that this is about respecting the 'will of the people' as expressed in that bloody referendum.  Which, logically, means that 'no Brexit' can only be legitimised via another 'people's vote'.  Which May keeps saying isn't going to happen.  But she's apparently put the 'no Brexit' option back on the agenda.  Interesting.  But also a reminder of what a bloody mess this has become.  But hey, look to the positives - it isn't often that we get the chance to actually live through a full blown political crisis of these proportions, is it? 


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Horror of it All (1964)

A now obscure horror comedy in The Old Dark House mode.  In fact, to a large extent it is a remake of the 1932 Old Dark House, but played as comedy - much as the official remake of that film was.  Indeed, I can only imagine that The Horror of it All was made to attempt to cash in on the expected release of the 1963 Old Dark House remake, a feeling reinforced by the fact that, like that film, The Horror of it All had its UK release put back until 1966.  The similarities between the two films are blatant: both involve their imported American lead driving to an isolated country house and being stranded there after their cars are wrecked, and encountering an eccentric family living there.  In both films, someone is intent upon murdering family members in pursuit of an inheritance.  Whereas in The Old Dark House remake Tom Poston is delivering a car to the house but ends up falling for the 'normal' female family member, in Horror of it All, Pat Boone goes there to ask the 'normal' girl's uncle for her hand in marriage.  Both film's also include a vampish 'weird' female family member as a rival potential love interest for the hero and an apparently deranged and violent family member, (in the case of Horror of it All, he's kept locked up).  Interestingly, although Fenella Fielding plays the vampish character in Old Dark House, Andre Melee's equivalent character in Horror of it All seems to provide the template for Fielding's subsequent celebrated turn in Carry on Screaming.

To be fair, The Horror of it All actually bears more resemblance to the original Old Dark House than its own remake does, in terms of some of the characters, at least.  There's the aged bedridden family patriach upstairs, in both, and a mentally unstable relative kept locked away as a family secret in both films.  All that's lacking is a murderous butler in the Karloff mould.  But, like the Old Dark House remake, The Horror of it All eschews the black humour of James Whale's original in favour of attempts at far broader, often slapstick, comedy.  And, like the remake, it generally fails in this respect.  The script simply isn't sharp enough and the characters not interesting enough.  In addition to the attempts at humour, the presence of Pat Boone in the lead means that a musical number also has to be endured.  It doesn't help that the whole thing unfolds at a leaden pace, with every scene feeling as if it has been allowed to run too long.  Despite being only seventy five minutes long, the film drags interminably.  Ironically, bearing in mind that its intended rival, the Old Dark House remake, was produced by Hammer, The Horror of it All was directed by erstwhile Hammer director Terence Fisher, who had been at the helm of most of the company's early Gothic horror hits.  Unfortunately, his slow and deliberate style, while well suited to building the suspense essential to Gothic horror films, simply doesn't work in a comedy context.  Moreover, Fisher seems to be on autopilot mode as far as his direction of The Horror of it All goes, making little of the horror elements.

The Horror of it All ends on a confused note: having apparently copied the 'twist' ending from the Old Dark House remake, it then seems to have second thoughts, adding a second 'twist' and a conventional happy ending.  All of which look suspiciously like they were an afterthought, shot and tacked on after the original ending tested badly with preview audiences.  Still, it does boast a half decent cast which includes Dennis Price, Valentine Dyall and Eric Chitty.  The stand out performance, though, belongs to Andree Melly as the vampire-like cousin.  A typical Lippert production, (Robert Lippert was a UK-based American producer specialising in producing low-budget second features), The Horror of it All was paired with a far more impressive Lippert production, Witchcraft, (which was co-produced with Jack Parsons, a sort of British equivalent to Lippert), on its US release, which, coincidentally, was directed by another Hammer alumni, Don Sharp.  Little seen nowadays, The Horror of it All, despite some impressive credentials, such as the presence of Terence Fisher in the director's chair, sadly offers little in the way of either horror or humour.


Monday, November 12, 2018

How Far is Too Far?

Yes, that really happened.  Sort of.  Those are the animated titles for the aborted sitcom Heil Honey I'm Home, which was commissioned by the long defunct UK satellite channel Galaxy back in 1990.  In the event, only the pilot was transmitted: eight more episodes were recorded, but never broadcast.  (Interestingly, the pilot didn't have these titles, only the unaired episodes carried them, so they've never actually be seen on TV).  It's perhaps no surprise that Galaxy (part of the old BSB set up) got cold feet over showing the series proper.  While the makers always claimed that their aim was to satirise classic US sitcoms like I Love Lucy or Bewitched, by basing one around the most unlikely characters possible, it was inevitable that picking on the idea of the Hitlers living next door to a Jewish couple (and plotting to kill them) was going to attract the ire of the right wing press.  But it does raise the question of just what you have to do to go 'too far'?  After all, it isn't as if you can't parody the Nazis in popular culture.  Just look at the success of Mel Brooks' The Producers in it is various forms.  But then again, Springtime for Hitler, the terrible musical the titular producers are conning people into backing, exists only as a 'play within a play' and arguably doesn't the main plot of the story.  Which, perhaps, makes it somehow 'safe' in the eyes of many critics.

Nonetheless, it does constitute a pretty savage ridiculing of the Third Reich, rather than simply presenting Adolf Hitler as a character in a sitcom.  Mid you, the BBC subsequently had a big hit with a World War Two set sitcom in the shape of Allo, Allo.  Set in occupied France, this presented all manner of farcical situations centring around cafe owner Renee, who finds himself caught in the middle between the occupying Germans and the French resistance, forced to hide escaping British airmen for the resistance and looted art treasures ('the Madonna with the big boobies') for the Axis.  Why wasn't this considered as going 'too far?'  Despite some initial criticism, it became a huge audience favourite and is now considered a classic sitcom.  The usual defence of this series was that it was actually parodying the conventions of British war movies rather than the actual war against the the Nazis itself.  Yet, week in, week out, it portrayed German officers as buffoons (much in the manner of Colonel Klink in Hogan's Heroes, another WWII set sitcom in arguably dubious taste) and the Gestapo as blundering incompetents.  This latter portrayal was arguably, in view of the sort of atrocities committed by the real Gestapo, in extremely poor taste.  (Notably, they never portrayed, let alone parodied, the SS, who have, if anything, an even more toxic legacy than their colleagues in the Gestapo).  Then again, while there is always the danger of trivialising the crimes of the Nazis, some of us feel that ridiculing them is often the best way to combat their continued threat.  It's far more difficult for people to idolise a regime and its leaders who are mercilessly pilloried as lunatics and incompetents.

Mind you, to some extent modern Nazis seem to be self parodying.  Only today we saw three of them convicted of membership of a prohibited extreme right terror group.  Some of the evidence presented in court was quite bizarre:  two of them (a couple) had named their child Adolf and had photos taken of them wearing KKK type robes while cradling the child.  I mean, you can't make this stuff up, can you?  I suppose that we should be thankful that subtlety isn't their forte and that they choose to behave like sitcom characters (perhaps the writers of Heil Honey I'm Home were on to something after all), as it makes them easier to catch.  One detail which sticks in my mind is the fact that they even had swastika shaped pastry cutters in their kitchen.  Where do you even get such things?  I've never seen them in the Argos catalogue, for God's sake.  Obviously, in some respects I've lived far too sheltered a life - I can tell you where to obtain some highly unusual varieties of porn, for instance, but still have no idea where these lunatics find half of their Nazi shit.  Mind you, the government seems more intent on banning the porn than the Nazi memorabilia, despite the latter definitely being more harmful than the former.  In my opinion, at least.


Friday, November 09, 2018

Another Train of Thought

We haven't talked about model railways here for while.  Not that I've made any real progress with mine, but I have made a few new acquisitions.  First up are some old Trix BR Mk 1 coaches I bought from eBay a couple of weeks ago:

There's also a second buffet car, but in chocolate and cream rather than green.  A train composed of carriages in multiple liveries like this wasn't uncommon on the Southern Region in the mid to late sixties, as steam ran down.  With many locomotive hauled passenger services on other regions being replaced by diesel multiple units, the surplus coaches were cascaded to other regions which still had predominantly locomotive hauled services. Liveries other than the Southern Region's native green were also seen on inter-regional services, of course.  (Actually, I have to admit that, in either case, ex Western Region chocolate and cream coaches would be rare, as they were only used on named expresses working from Paddington, regular Western region services used maroon liveried coaches).

Here's a closer look at the coaches:

Bearing in mind that these models date back to the 1960s, the level of detail on the mouldings is excellent.  Indeed, they are some of the best representations of Mk 1 stock I've seen in 00.  Like all Trix products from this period, however, they aren't true 00 gauge models, as they are made to 3.8mm to the foot scale rather than 4mm to the foot scale, which makes them slightly under scale.  This can clearly be seen when they are compared to the Hornby Mk 1 (which is to 4mm to the foot scale) posed in the foreground:

As long as the Trix coaches are kept together in separate rakes and not mixed with true scale 00 Mk 1s, the discrepancy isn't noticeable.  Certainly, I like them enough that I'll be trying to obtain some more in the near future.  Perhaps due to the scale issue, Trix coaches are often cheaper to buy than their Triang/Hornby, Lima and Mainline equivalents.  (They also run better than the Mainline versions, which, I find, simply won't stay on the track).  In front of the coaches in the above photo is te tail end of a tanker train.  While I've owned the four tank wagons visible for more years than I care to remember, the foremost part of the train is composed of some more recent acquisitions:

I'll admit that there are better tank wagon models on the market than these old Triang-derived types, but their simplicity lends them a certain elegance.  Moreover, they have a nostalgic appeal for me, as I had one as part of my very first, clockwork, train set when I was five or six.

So, there you have it - I've done little in terms of pushing the layout forward, but I have, at least, expanded the rolling stock roster.  I really must get on with the wiring so that I can run more trains, then think about painting the exposed areas of the baseboard.  I've also got vague plans for the station area, which is currently composed of bare platforms.  You never know, I might actually find time to do some of this in the foreseeable future.


Thursday, November 08, 2018

The Colonial Western

The Western is generally thought of as being primarily an American film genre, dealing, as it does, with transition of the US from lawless frontier mentality to a more mature society observing the rule of law.  But the film industries of other countries have always coveted the Western genre and its action packed format chronicling the eventual triumph of law over lawlessness, whilst also incorporating a celebration of individualism as lone heroes and small communities prevail over the predatory interests of corporate land developers, railroad companies, even the Federal Government.  The most obvious attempt to co-opt the Western genre came from Italy, which, throughout the sixties and seventies produced a plethora of mainly Spanish-shot 'Spaghetti Westerns', which often subverted many of the genre's conventions.  The British film industry, however, also has a long-standing tradition of attempting to produce Westerns.  Some were actually shot in the US, others were European co-productions, (indeed, there is an argument that the whole Spaghetti Western sub-genre was kicked off by such a production: Michael Carreras' The Savage Guns, shot in 1961 in Spain), a few, like Carry on Cowboy, were shot in the UK.  But there was another sub genre of the British Western which, instead of trying to recreate the US locations of the real thing, sought to find a British equivalent to the US's Old West frontier: the colonial western.  These films found their setting in far flung outposts of the Empire which featured similar environments to the Old West: nineteenth century Australia, for instance, in films like Robbery Under Arms, or India, in stuff like The Long Duel (which was actually shot in Spain).

The other bit of Empire offering a faux frontier setting was, of course, South Africa.  Which brings us, finally, to one of the best known of these Colonial Westerns - 1961's The Hellions. Set in the Transvaal in the late nineteenth century, it incorporates as many traditional Western tropes as possible, a a typically dysfunctional family of outlaws ride into a small and remote town, hell bent on revenge against the local lawman, (a police sergeant rather than a sheriff or marshal).  The problem is that, in its quest to pack in as many genre cliches as possible, the film seems to lose sight of exactly where it wants to go.  The early scenes, with the outlaws' distaste for the encroaching barbed wire and the 'civilisation' it portends suggests that it might develop into something along the lines of the Kirk Douglas Western, Man Without a Star, which explores similar themes.  But this is quickly forgotten about (until the film's climax, when the outlaw leader perishes after falling into a wagon full of barbed wire) and the movie instead starts turning into a more conventional 'town under siege' type of Western.  But even here, it seemingly can't make up its mind where it wants to go:  the gang bear more than a passing resemblance to the Clantons, as portrayed in John Ford's My Darling Clementine, raising audience expectations of an OK Corral style climax.  But it instead then seems to want to ape High Noon, with the lawman finding himself facing the gang alone, as the townsfolk lack the backbone to help him.  Except that said lawman simply refuses to confront the outlaws for most of the film, barricading himself into his house and hoping that someone will break ranks and help him.

But even here, it fumbles the ball.  Rather than try to recreate the tension of High Noon, as the lawman tries to drum up support as the outlaws slowly approach the town, in The Hellions they are already there for most of the film, causing havoc and murdering the odd citizen, while the sergeant does nothing.  (This scenario is somewhat reminiscent of Day of the Outlaw, but nowhere near as well done).  Of course, someone does eventually break ranks to face down the gang, (the meek store owner, who has accidentally shot and killed one of the gang), at which point the lawman turns two-fisted and takes on the remaining outlaws, with the rest of the town finally taking up arms to assist him.  As can be seen, the script is all over the place plot-wise and has clunking dialogue to match.  The performances are hugely variable.  Lionel Jeffries, cast against type as the outlaws' patriarch, gives a very effective performance, while James Booth brings a nicely psychopathic edge as his unpredictable and sadistic son Jubal.  Singer Marty Wilde, also cast against type as the youngest son is quite forgettable, while Colin Blakely as a third son is given little to do.  As for the townsfolk, Richard Todd is utterly bland and uncharismatic as the sergeant, while Jamie Uys (who also co-produced the film) is downright awful as the storekeeper - seeming to think that meekness can be portrayed via a mumbling of his every line. 

Yet, with all that said, The Hellions is surprisingly effective as a cod Western.  Even down to the fact that the actual natives of the country where it is set are reduced to perfunctory walk on roles.  While it's no gunfight at the OK Corral, the climactic fight between Todd and Jeffries in the store (which also involves Booth at one point) is a spirited affair.  Interestingly, the film ends on as confused a note as everything that preceded it, with the townsfolk turning vigilante to deal with the remaining outlaws: both Wilde and Blakely are gunned down, shot in the back, in fact, as they try to flee the mob.  Neither of them actually fires a shot.  Which, if the film (as all good Westerns are) is meant to be about the eventual triumph of law over lawlessness, is a pretty confusing conclusion which seems to be endorsing the idea of ignoring legal process and instead aking the law into one's own hands.  Some of the film's unevenness might be down to the fact that director Ken Annakin was taken ill during production, leaving large parts of the film to be directed by other hands.  Annakin was supposedly treating the whole thing as a parody, directing the cast to interpret the script accordingly, but his stand ins directed their scenes straight.  I can't help but feel that this sounds like a convenient excuse to try and explain what is, in the final analysis, some pretty poor film making.  Still, it was popular at the box office back in 1961, so what do I know?


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Arresting Behaviour?

I see that arrests have been made in connection with the burning  on a bonfire of an effigy of Grenfell Tower that I mentioned in yesterday's post.  Which, of course,  begs the question as to whether any arrests actually were necessary?  While setting fire to a model of Grenfell Tower might well be considered, at the very least, thoughtless, definitely tasteless, certainly reprehensible and probably offensive to the majority of people, it isn't actually a criminal act.  But here in the UK we seem to like arresting people for causing offence, whether it be drunkenly urinating on war memorials or posying idiotic things on social media.  Whilst these sorts of things might well be anti-social and most definitely reprehensible, do they really warrant arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators?  BUt that's the sort of society the UK has become: one obsessed with 'punishing' supposed 'wrong doers'.  The trouble is that, all too often, the real miscreants are simply not being caught and punished, be they burglars and muggers, con men and fraudsters, or top level tax evaders.  Probably because the police are spending so much time investigating complaints that someone said something rude about someone else on Twitter.

The Grenfell Tower effigy burning provides a typical example of this sort of very British overreaction to something, with both the traditional media and social media doing their best to whip up some moral outrage over something which, while undoubtedly offensive, is, in the scheme of things, quite trivial.  It is unclear (to me at least) whether any criminal offence has actually been committed.  (Unless they've criminalised stupidity, that is).  So, do we really think that it is a good use of police resources to identify and arrest the sort of morons who not only burn models of Grenfell Tower, but also film it and put it online?  Or do we think that the police's time would be better spent catching sex offenders and murderers, (or even right wing millionaires who have been illegally bank rolling Brexit)?  Would it be more appropriate to publicly vilify and shame these arseholes?  Most certainly.  It's the best way to ram home to them and their ilk that this sort of thing is socially unacceptable, that the majority of us think that they are sick, bigoted, bastards.  By arresting them, we are are risking giving them and their idiotic antics even more publicity, turning them into heroes in the eyes of other morons.  Indeed, there's always the risk that we will make martyrs out of them in the eyes of those right-wing extremists who like to cry 'free speech!' every time someone refuses to give a platform to racism and bigotry.

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Monday, November 05, 2018

Remember, Remember

Remember, remember and all that.  I sometimes wonder what the rest of the world makes of tradition of burning on bonfires effigies of a catholic who tried to blow up Parliament every 5th November?  I mean, it is uniquely British - just about everywhere else in the world fireworks are used to celebrate things like religious festivals or independence days.  But here in the UK, we let them off in commemoration of an attempt to assassinate the king and destroy the seat of government.  It's a bit like the Americans deciding to fire guns in the air every November to commemorate the assassination of President Kennedy.  Of course, these days it isn't just anti-catholic sentiment that Guy Fawkes Night is used to express - I was just reading about some sickos who were burning a replica of Grenfell Tower on a bonfire.  A replica complete with black faces at the windows.  Ah, the British capacity for senseless hate seems limitless.  (I seem to recall that, some years ago, I wrote a story in The Sleaze where a bigot accused his Muslim neighbour of burning an effigy of the twin Trade Towers on a bonfire - it seems that life has finally caught up with art).  Arguably, the actual tradition of burning effigies of a catholic on a bonfire simply encourages a deeply ingrained sense of hatred toward outsiders which seems to run through British history.  But hey - it's a tradition, so that makes it OK, doesn't it?

Which is the other thing about Britain that Guy Fawkes Night illuminates: our obsession with the past.  After all, anywhere else in the world would surely have let go of a grudge over something that happened centuries ago, wouldn't they?  But we just can't, so it seems.  The fixation on the past is also expressed around this time of year by our fetishisation of Remembrance Day.  It's taken on  quasi-mystical properties - being accused of desecrating war memorials, wreaths and even paper poppies is considered a worse crime than blasphemy nowadays: it's a stain on your character from which you can never recover.  because the memories of those who fought and died are now sacred, it seems.  Don't get me wrong: there's nothing wrong with commemorating the dead of various wars, but things have reached ridiculous levels now, where you can be branded as 'disrespectful' if you don't wear a poppy, or wear a white poppy, or wear the wrong sort of coat to the Cenotaph, or don't bow sufficiently at same monument, or drive a car too close to it.  Or any number of other supposed 'infringements' of the sacred respect which has to observed now.  Can't we just go back to the  good old days when we observed that minute silence every Remembrance Sunday and engaged in some private contemplation of the follies of war and the terrible sacrifice of human life they involve?  Likewise, can't we just get Guy Fawkes Night back to being abut doing stupid and dangerous things with fireworks? It was fun back in those days.

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Friday, November 02, 2018

Trick or Treat

I forgot to ask - did you have a good Halloween?  Did you wander around your neighbourhood with a sheet over your head knocking on peoples' doors?  Mind you, it doesn't have to be Halloween to do that - in some parts of the US they do it all year round, except it is only the black neighbours they visit and its always 'trick' and no 'treat', as they always leave burning crosses on the lawns, regardless of their reception.  Personally, I neither went knocking on doors nor was I troubled by anyone knocking on mine.  And let's face, it would have been more than a little peculiar if I had dressed up as a ghost and went knocking on doors demanding confectionery with menaces. For one thing, I'm far too old for that sort of shit and, for another, I don't think 'trick or treat' is meant to be a solitary occupation.  Crazy, huh?  For some strange reason, going around in a mob and knocking on strangers' doors while wearing masks and threatening to throw eggs at their houses is considered less threatening than doing it on your own.  Yeah, that's right - if I was going to do it on my own, I'd be considered some kind of weirdo.  Or perhaps even a dangerous psychopath.  Even stranger, if I was to go around trick or treating on my own, I would be considered even weirder if I didn't wear some kind of costume while I did it, instead wearing my normal street clothes.

So, if I had wanted to go trick or treating, I would have had to tag along with a group of kids if I wanted to avoid being labelled as 'weird'.  But even that would have been considered dodgy: a grown man hanging out with kids to go demanding sweets from neighbours.  OK, I suppose that I could pretend to be the parent of one or ore of them, but that would probably be considered even stranger.  Besides, I wouldn't want people to think that I was the kind of parent who allowed their kids to hang out with strange men while harassing the neighbours.  The only other alternative would be to form a group of like minded adults to go trick or treating with - that way I couldn't be labelled a dangerous loner or a potential nonce.  Then again, you can guarantee that a group of masked and costumed adults wandering around knocking on doors and shouting 'trick or treat' at householders would inevitably be classified as a dangerous gang.  You just can't win these days, you really can't.  If you are an adult, you simply aren't allowed to indulge in any kind of innocent fun any more.  So, it's just as well that I didn't actually want to go trick or treating this Halloween.

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Thursday, November 01, 2018

One of Those Weeks

Clearly, it is one one of those weeks.  My old steam cleaner stopped working, my vacuum cleaner has, quite literally, fallen apart and this evening I had to engage in a huge diversion, thanks to roadworks, in order to get home from Salisbury, where I'd been helping my mother move into her new retirement flat.  Oh, and on top of that, I spent a large chunk of my morning at work in a meeting, with management outlining the latest plans for the organisation's future, (which seem mainly to involve cutting the workforce by a third, but not paying any redundancies, and forcing most of the remaining workforce into glorified call centres).  Did I mention it has also been freezing cold for a lot of this week, as well? Like I said, one of those weeks.  I do find that it is often the case that if a week starts badly, it continues that way.  And I kicked off this week still feeling somewhat upset following my last visit to the old family home before my mum moved out, which set the tone for the whole week.

Anyway, the long and the short of it all is that I'm now exhausted - and there's still another day of the working week to go.  Still, I'm amazed at what I have managed to get done in between all the other stuff: a new story on The Sleaze, completing those Halloween themed Random Movie Trailers here, recording a seasonal contribution to the most recent Overnightscape Central podcast over at  I even managed to get a plumber in to fix that dripping overflow pipe.  About the only thing I failed to do was record a new podcast of my own, which I had hoped to have done in time for Halloween.  But hey, timing wasn't crucial too it: just because it will have a supernatural theme doesn't mean that it has to be posted over Halloween.  So, hopefully, I'll be able to record and post it over the next week or so.  Provided I don't have another week like this one, that is.