Saturday, 26 September 2009

X Factor: Improvements

Watching a really painful X Factor, for no other reason than I'm counting down the seconds until I see Chelsea get brutalised by Wigan on MOTD.

The early rounds of X Factor were formerly joyful. The beautiful, the arrogant, the gay, the young, the old, the bitter and twisted... and that's just the judges. But it's become enveloped in its own overproduction, so there's about five backing songs that are ALWAYS played. Chasing Cars when Jade, whose dad was killed by her mum after she found him sleeping with her hairdresser's aunt's dog, staggers out with snot dribbling down her face after getting through. You raise me up - always the bit where the key changes upwards - as four immaculately coiffeured and oiled ponces with a combined age of 47 dash from the stage like a cloakroom attendant when Cheryl Cole walks in. Etc etc.

And what's with the names this year: Rozelle? Janeice? And the truly egregious TreyC. They sound like medicines more than titles. And the group "Trucolorz" should be imprisoned for crimes against the English language, and forced to spend the rest of their lives listening to Jamie Oliver reading Shakespeare, or something equally ghastly.

Why do the contestants cry after getting through the first round? It would be like blubbering after realising you've got a job interview, which would just be bloody stupid.

And why do so many of them bring a tribe of supporters with them from whatever petri dish they were lurking in before? I swear one of them had the whole population of Salford with him in that stupid white booth where they vent their poisonous spleens after the performance. In a perfect world the walls would then have started moving in on them all, condensing them into a luscious chav soup to be fed to the other morons who enter the competition.

At the moment, when the herd is being culled, the singers are ushered into four rooms, each with 25 people. The judges shuffle in through a side door and announce the decisions. Two rooms will go through, two will leave. Cue crying (on both sides) and scenes of wild abandon in one, and glum dejecture in the other.

Personally I would prefer the losers to feel more like losers. I would like them to be taken outside, into a wide alleyway. It will be raining, and dark, apart from two flashlights beaming onto them. The judges appear on a gangplank above in raincoats. The decision is announced. The judges disappear. The lights dim, and there is only the sound of broken dreams, and crying. The filming reverts to those "sped-up" sequences, usually used to show the queuing competitors entering the arena. On this occasion however it would show muggers and junkies who had been rounded up before the show encircling the husks that were once "performers", before total annihilation. While "You Raise Me Up" plays.

Anyway it's finished, so rant over. I might send this off the ITV to see what they say.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Coventry deja vu

One for the old school - Note the resilient defending from the Sky Blues from an unassailable position.

Feeling like absolute crap tonight. Emma has swine flu and I might be following her.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

I have nothing to say but I should point out that the girl from Cascada REALLY looks like a porn star!

Please leave my front garden alone

This straight talk appeared in this week's Spalding Guardian - enjoy!

THIS is a direct plea to some of the people of Spalding, some of whom can help, and some of whom are a hindrance.
On West Marsh Road there is a facility called the Household Recycling Centre. People can take rubbish of all kinds there. It’s good.
In addition you may have noticed the existence of small black receptacles strapped to lamp-posts that can accept items which once held substances such as food. These receptacles are known as dustbins. Many people even have them at home.
But my front garden, although unkempt, is NOT one of these receptacles.
I arrived back from holiday recently to find that some lowlife had deposited two cardboard pizza packages, complete with crust, in my pathway.
A can of partially-drained super strength lager embroidered the scene with extra quality, while white greasy paper of unknown origin fluttered casually from one of my bushes like some grotesque flag.
This is by no means uncommon. I often see one gentleman as I walk to work clearing detritus from his front lawn, and other notable incidents include a full takeaway meal and mayonnaise being cruelly spread across the bonnet of someone’s car.
Most of these deposits could be passed away as drunken hi-jinx or laziness, but they are still incredibly annoying, environmentally damaging, laborious for the council, and potentially dangerous to small animals.
Two or three times I’ve nearly caught the offenders in the act near my home; an emptied packet of Monster Munch fluttering in the autumn air suspended only by a chav’s claw, until that chav sees a furious little Victor Meldrew figure sat in his armchair, and moves on.
But we can’t keep an eye out all the time, so what are the options available to us?
Since CCTV is pointless, a taller fence is too expensive, and mantraps and armed guards too illegal, I am restricted to what I can do.
So I’m calling on you, the people of Spalding, to help me in my hour of need and tell me the ways you’ve come up with to stop people throwing rubbish into your garden.
You can email me with your ideas at We may even print some of the better or sillier ones at a later date.
And if you are one of these depositors take your waste back to your own cess pit and bury yourself in it!

Couple of other things:

*The first two stages of my five-way bet came off - Mayweather beat Marquez, and somebody called Pianeta beat Matt Skelton. It's worth about £120, so fingers crossed...
*X Factor this year is appallingly predictable.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

BBC scores own goal with lower league coverage ho ho ho I am funny

Has anyone seen the new football league programme that the BBC has offered? I was so looking forward to it before the season started. And I was unimpressed in my first viewing.

Let me point out that I didn't watch it live, because that would have meant staying up until 1.40am if I wanted to see the whole sorry thing. Ridiculous. Who wants to watch Accrington vs Hereford at 1.35am?

Evidently plenty of people, because the petri dish of inane texts was certainly bubbling over, as I will come to shortly.

Firstl Impressions.. seems to be in the industrial area of the Crystal Maze...dull,inane, vacuous host...Steve Claridge with awful overgrown thatch of hair...token BBC "we know we need women because Sky Sports have them but ours are never as good looking" piece of skirt...who is being framed through a doorway for no apparent reason as characterless androids siphon results in the background...not good.

Steve Claridge was a good player, but is a truly awful pundit. His voice fluctuates like that punk guy in the Police Academy films, and he refused to comment in typically banal fashion when skirt asked him if he would consider taking on a job at one of the clubs. What would have been the harm in saying "It's something I would consider", which is clearly what he was thinking?

Then there's the jokes. As we sweep around the various games we discover that there's one - possibly Bury - where there was no program. And hence we are bombarded with lines about how the manager's programme notes couldn't be heeded because the players never saw them because they were never printed. How my sides split.

The BBC's online coverage is very good, but they really are trying too hard, especially with the doorway bit. A few suggestions:
1)Put it on earlier - before MOTD would be great, if for no other reason than to piss off all the bandwagoners.
2)Get rid of token skirt - unless she looks like Laura Esposito, or knows football like Helen Chamberlain, or looks like and knows football like Rebecca Lowe, don't bother.
3)Get in fanzine writers
4)Get in someone who really cares - more Mark Clemmit, preferably as host.

On the first night at one point highlights of Torquay vs Chesterfield were rudely interrupted by a film of a woman going to the toilet. I won't make the obvious comment about where you could put the programme...

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Straight talks

TO bring back my blog - which I will be updating much more regularly now after a two month hiatus - I've decided to put up three of the "Straight talks" which we are now encouraged to write. Two (moderately) humorous, one more serious...

I’LL tell you exactly what I’m doing at the moment you read this.
I’m on a £6 a night campsite in the Cotswolds, wrestling to insert a plastic pipe into a fabric hole that defies geometry, while cows chew nearby with that languid look on their faces which suggests they really aren’t impressed.
And I’m enjoying it. You would think that growing up on a campsite near Holbeach St Johns would imbue a love of tents, but it took me until my mid -20s to appreciate them. Before then I couldn’t understand why people would come all the way from Sheffield, or Lanarkshire, or even Croatia once, to stay on a little scratty patch of grass, and share their ablutions with overweight fisherman in a communal washroom before returning to the flap of canvas that they pretended was a home, as it waved wildy from a gale blowing across the Holland Drain.
The answer, of course, is obvious. Camping is fun. Turning up in a field in nowheresville is remarkably liberating and sudden energy reserves you didn’t realise existed are tapped.
You are physically putting up your barrier against the elements, but at the same time you’re becoming a part of it, constructing your own little den in the earth while the stars and beasts watch.
And tea tastes better brewed in an aluminium kettle with dried milk in a cracked cup. There’s no real scientific evidence for it, it’s just a proven fact.
Last year I walked part of Hadrian’s Wall, and on the first night I stayed in my single tent while Northumberland’s rain did its best to destroy me.
The next morning I went to the owner’s farmhouse to be greeted by a warm friendly face with a warm friendly bacon roll. Campsite 1, rain 0.
I suggest everyone has a go at putting up a tent once in their life. You don’t need to travel far. I’m not naming names but I can think of several campsites around Spalding where you could enjoy a weekend.
Maybe you could practise in your garden - you might just love it. That’s why I’m stood in this field, probably without vital tools such as a mallet, pegs or cooler box - but having a lot of fun.

THE plans for the Red Lion Street Project in Spalding, soon to be examined by South Holland District Council’s planning committee, look absolutely amazing.
But hidden among the promise of jobs, food experiences and business opportunities lurks a piece of news which filled me with even more joy than a juicy pork pie.
It’s a small but very important piece of news for anyone with a profound disability: The site will have the town’s first Changing Places toilet.
The Changing Places campaign aims to install public toilets across the country with equipment including height-adjustable changing benches, a tracking hoist system, and adequate space for the disabled person and up to two carers.
Around 40,000 people with profound and multiple disabilities, and their families and carers, need Changing Places toilets nationwide as they cannot use existing “normal” facilities.
There are also thousands more who may have suffered strokes, acquired head injuries, or are simply old and frail.
Without these facilities even simple trips out to the shops become potentially embarrassing or impossible for them but the campaign is gaining ground, with the 100th UK Changing Places facility recently opening in Sheffield.
Spalding is currently bereft of these facilities but their inclusion was obviously something Red Lion Street chiefs were proud of when they unveiled the plans at a public consultation meeting. Boston College marketing manager Mark Emmerson brought it up early in our conversation, and he was delighted that local campaigners’ concerns had been addressed.
My brother Christopher, who had Downs Syndrome, died shortly before his third birthday.
Had he lived he would have suffered greatly on outdoor excursions from a lack of facilities, as the signs were already clear that his mobility would have been severely comprimised.
Because of Christopher’s condition my late father and I moved into the caring profession and met hundreds more people who simply could not be taken out for any great length of time because of the lack of facilities.
So I am particularly happy at the news. We cannot expect these toilets at every town and village up and down the country - but Spalding is doing its
bit. For more information on the campaign go to

WHEN I first heard about the idea to turn the much-missed Spalding Woolworths premises into a 90p store I had mixed feelings until I realised:
1)There are too many empty buildings in Spalding, and having something is better than nothing. 2)It could be worse: Primark is rumored to be moving into the Woolies building in Peterborough. Yes, that's PRIMARK. For those of you who missed it the king of chic, cut-price clothing may be lurching its way into Poshland.
I'm not against it in principle, as Primark has an incredible ability to make even the worst looking flotsam and jetsam of society look vaguely attractive.
Indeed, I retain a dainty pair of electric blue and slate grey shorts from a former beach holiday which still look the biz.
But what worries me is that while a £4.99 t-shirt for my girlfriend is £4.99, five t-shirts at that price are knocking on the door of £25.
Knocking very loudly and with threats not to do the house work if I don't buy them, in my experience.
And we all know that anything on offer, even objects that don't really fit properly or look any good, have to be purchased because, well, THEY'RE ON OFFER.
There must surely be a psychological term for the condition that makes seemingly rational creatures walk into a clothes shop to buy a hairbrush and come out with three new tops, four pairs of shoes, a hat, two handbags and a pair of leggings that Jessica Alba was seen throwing in a skip in Heat last week.
Boughtism maybe. Or buy-polar(neck) disorder.
I can still sit in a darkened room and relive my first journey into a Primark in Coventry.
It was a terrible netherworld where vampish assistants looked at me and bored into my brain, wallet and springy cylindrical basket with their greedy eyes.
They looked at me, and my partner, and me again, and relished my pain – the same pain I saw etched across other poor souls being dragged through the store.
So to recap the 90p shop is fine by me, because:
a) It's another business (that looks quite nice inside, by the way) and fills up an ugly gap at the end of town.
b) It isn't Primark, or a clothes shop of any kind, and that means I will not slide into financial oblivion, no matter what my girlfriend spends.
Of course if a gadget shop had moved in you could have ignored everything above...

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Two brief nibs

We completed our challenge - take a look at the Spalding Guardian website to find out more.

Enjoying doing stuff on Tulip Radio, and you can hear me every night on 107.5 fm. Still learning the ropes a little bit on Myriad, but it sounds pretty good hopefully!