Friday, 30 September 2011

30/09/11 - Sprog-farming

Breasts. Knockers. Shirt potatoes. Jumper bumpers. Everybody loves them, but no-one can really explain why. I guess women love them because they like to point at other women and say ‘that bra doesn’t fit her’; men love them because... well, they’re breasts. Phwoar.
It makes sense to focus on them as a source of life-giving nourishment for infants, but by the same psychological token, why not be drawn towards women that have, say, massive hands (all the better for performing motherly tasks) or short legs (so as to be nearer a baby’s eye-level)?
It’s probably just that the Mitchell Brothers are handily positioned on the front in an eye-catching and prominent position. They give you something to look at if you’re bored of faces.

Breasts are just one of many things you find yourself trying to get your head around when your wife is pregnant, as mine is. Is there any biological reason for them to immediately increase in girth so impressively, with so many months in hand before the lactation will actually be required? (I’m not complaining, mind.) You expect an expecting mother to have to invest in a new wardrobe when she’s up the duff, but the substantial, industrial new tit-pants are an unexpected expenditure on top of everything else that will only be worn for a short while before joining the endless conveyer belt of ‘oh, you’re pregnant? Do you want some pregnancy stuff?’ of which I was previously unaware. This, incidentally, is the one great money-saver in sprog-farming – there will always be someone else who’s had a baby not too long ago and is keen to get shot of their various muumuus and suchlike. Super-handy.

The one thing that’s been really keeping us up at night (aside from the unpleasantly unavoidable issue of vomit and endless poo, as well as the concern that, should we have a boy, it’ll definitely wee in our mouths at nappy-changing time [I’m just choosing not to think about this]) is what to call the thing. We’ve pretty much decided that we don’t want to know the sex in advance – I’m hoping it’ll become obvious on the day, although there will undoubtedly be some kind of ‘it’s a boy!’, ‘no, Mr Bevis, that’s the umbilical cord’ scenario – which means we have to come up with two shortlists to cover off having either a blue one or a pink one. We’ve decided that it needs to be a relatively unusual name; no offence intended to anyone named John or Sarah, but I personally prefer the idea of having a memorably different name as a future identifier, to help them stand out and not be one of ten namealikes in their class/office/whatever. That said, a huge number of people seem to be thinking along the same lines these days and are just making silly names up – we don’t want to go to an absurd extreme and end up with a Shaniqua or a Dante-Beauford. My wife’s been talking to various baby geeks on a number of forums and has found some hilarious (and, what’s more, hilariously earnest) discussions on what to name babies, generally along the lines of ‘I want to name my baby [x], what do you think?’ or ‘can you recommend a name that begins with [random letter]?’. The oddest I’ve seen – and this is totally true – is ‘Jaxton’. And not as a one-off – a huge number of Americans want to call their child some variation on this; Jaxton or Jaxston or Jacxston. Another quirk is to add an apostrophe, not for any phonetic reason but just for it to look interesting; Mone’t, La’Ray etc, while adding accents also gets banded around with no regard for how it alters pronunciation; LaVaryéé, Hénréy. Americans also love to name their children after towns in Kent and Essex – Rochester, Ashford and Harlow all regularly surface. As does Kent, actually. But the worst name crime of all is Nevaeh. Massively popular, this one. It spells ‘heaven’ backwards, you see. Ooh, clever. (This, inevitably, leads to random variations of spelling – Navejah, Nirvaya - which, of course, destroy the only wafer-thin meaning that it had in the first place.)
So we’re trying to find something that’s simultaneously mainstream and sensible, but also interesting and different. This can’t be done. We did kind of like Sebastian for a while, but we’ve heard so many people, independently of one another and quite unprovoked by us, saying ‘you live in Wandsworth, I bet you’re going to give your child a posh name like Sebastian’, that it’s totally off the table. The main proviso is that whatever ideas we have, we’re not telling anyone. Someone will always say ‘I used to have a dog called that’, or ‘there was a kid in my class called that, and he was a prick’.

There are a million other things to think about. The pushchair/travel system area is a nightmare (the Bugaboo Cameleon, which seems to be the default choice for the yummy-mummies of SW18, costs more than most cars I’ve owned), the horrible morning sickness – stupidly named, as it happens 24/7 - is relentless; learning about what babies actually do/eat/etc, when they sleep, why the cry, how often you’ll need to change them, how to change them and all that business is stuff I’m hoping will be covered in the NCT classes. But the naming is the thing that really concerns me. This little munchkin will carry whatever selection of letters we choose for them FOR THEIR WHOLE LIFE. Pressure.

Transporting the nipper around is giving me much to think about too. Our car has ISOFIX points (I checked) and I’ve worked out how to disable the airbags for when the child seat’s in the front, but how long can a baby go in a car before it wants out? Is it too much to hope that it might just sleep on through, or will it get bored and want to stop at the motorway services for some bright colours and alternative stimulus, and maybe a leaf through the toy mags?
Public transport concerns me too. My wife has an official TfL ‘Baby on Board’ badge that she proudly wears on her lapel at all times when commuting. This never gets her a seat though, because London commuters are arseholes; they see the badge, glance at the bump, look her in the eye, then awkwardly look away. And that’s how uncooperative people are before the baby’s even born – what about when it’s a real person with its own little chair? You’re always hearing about chav nutters on the bus getting into fights over where to put their buggies – it’s horrifying. I might just become one of these over-protective parents that never lets the kid leave the house for fear of crime and germs. It’ll be eighteen before it sees daylight.

I always used to joke about not having kids, saying ‘I can barely look after myself’ in an elbow-in-the-ribs-and-a-cheeky-wink fashion, but it is actually kind of true. Babies are totally helpless; if I’m living on a diet of chips and playing video games till 1am every night, what sort of role model am I? Little ‘uns consume every single waking thought. Like, you’re never supposed to leave them alone, right? So what happens if it’s just you and the baby alone in the house and you need to do a poo - do you take the baby to the toilet with you? If it shits itself on the bus, is it common courtesy to get off and spare everyone the smell or do you just plough on regardless? Are you allowed to watch a Tarantino movie with a baby in the room, or will the violence and profanity mould its early perceptions of human behaviour? Is it OK to have a beer while you’re holding a baby, or will that set a big red light flashing at the NSPCC?

We haven’t even finished baking the little tyke yet and it’s already with us every waking hour. The thing that really freaked me out was the 12-week scan; not the scan itself – that was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen, I cried like a little girl – but when we were led into the scanning room, I was waved towards a chair and told ‘this is where the father sits’. I was momentarily perplexed. I hadn’t brought my dad with me. And then I realised that it was me – I’m going to be a father, a daddy, an old man, one of the ’rents. A dad. I’ve always unashamedly hero-worshipped my own father; he’s brilliant, everything a dad should be. How the hell am I supposed to do what he did and does, when I’m so wildly immature? It takes me forever to put up a shelf. Last time my car needed an oil change, I took it to the garage because I couldn’t be arsed to do it myself. I’m not great at barbecuing or getting up early or public speaking or meeting new people or dancing or fixing plumbing or... anything that my pa does. I’m just an irresponsible scamp who somehow managed to ensnare a wife several grades hotter than he is, and then knocked her up.
I’ll be honest – I’m a little scared. In a good way, obviously, but still... it’s all a bit grown up, isn’t it? What if the child sees through me? What if it realises I’m not actually an adult at all? Will it mind?

None of these neuroses matter, of course. It’s not about me, it’s all about the little ‘un, the soon-to-be most important thing in the world.
We heard its heartbeat yesterday. WhumWHUMwhumWHUMwhumWHUMwhumWHUM... it was the best noise ever, like a distant train bringing us carriages full of joy. Joy and poo.

Downton Abbey - (un)Helpful Recap

I haven't been watching Downton Abbey. But hey, now I don't need to!

Chaos In Your Town

This could well be the greatest insurance ad ever. Click the image.

Fail Compilation - September 2011

This'll be the most entertaining ten minutes of your day.

Slavery Footprint

So, how many slaves work for you? Click here to see.

Back to the Future: a capella

I think this treatment lends the scene a certain elegance.

Things Apple is worth more than...

They really are rather large. Click here to see.

Physics-defying dancing

Amazing. This shouldn't be physically possible.

Urban Decay

Click here to see the results of Gizmodo's Urban Decay challenge.

Floppy Star Wars

The Imperial March, as performed by computer componentry from the past.

Siamese Twins

Excellent twist.

Friday, 23 September 2011

23/09/11 - Record breakers

There was a man in the paper last week who had eaten quite a large breakfast. It was called ‘The Big One’, and contained three sausages, three fried eggs, three potato waffles, three potato scones, three burgers, three portions of beans, three rashers of bacon, three hash browns, three slices of black pudding, three portions of mushrooms, three square sausages, three slices of fried bread, three rounds of bread and butter and three pieces of toast; in nutritional terms, that’s 7,500 calories, 6.6lbs of food mass and a fucking massive heart attack. This momentous news wasn’t just confined to the tabloids (who, to be fair, can be excused for running this kind of candyfloss because, well, they know their audience and it ain’t interested in the real world), but even made it into that paragon of even-handed, grown-up reporting, the Daily Mail. If you can imagine such a thing.
Now, this is quite a shit reason to be in the news. Someone ate a reasonably big meal? Who cares? Yet, having been given a fair few column inches, here I am banging on about it too, so it’s a successful story on some level. I bet the guy’s friends and family are immensely proud of him too. ‘Did you see our Steve in the paper? He’s only gone and eaten some food...’

This kind of look-at-me nonsense is reprehensible, frankly. It’s one step away from murdering people for the sake of notoriety and posterity, on the premise that it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as people talk about you for a bit. Look at all those wallies who stuff the inexplicably revered pages of the Guinness Book of Records with worthless achievements – there is nothing to be proud of in being, say, the first human ever to eat a Blu-Ray player or stick thirty pennies up your nose. Nobody’s ever done these things for a reason: they’re fucking stupid things to do. It’s not appealing to the pioneer in people, like the protagonists seem to think is the case; it’s just cocking about for the sake of fame. Fame at any cost.
I’ve just had a little look at the Guinness World Records website and, in a few random clicks, I found the following records (and I promise I didn’t make any of these up):

- Most balloons inflated by the nose in three minutes
- Fastest half-marathon pushing a pram
- Loudest purr by a domestic cat
- Furthest milk-squirting distance
- Most spoons balanced on the face
- Largest collection of sick bags
- Most bowls broken by one finger in one minute
- Most needles inserted into head
- Most steps walked down by a dog, facing forwards, balancing a glass of water
- Loudest burp
- Most Big Macs consumed
- Most times hit by a car in two minutes

Now, I don’t know about you, but my first thought on reading through that list is: what a bunch of wankers. Most of those things could be achieved by absolutely anybody if they could be bothered (aside from the cat/dog ones, of course – they’re genuinely impressive achievements by hugely talented animals) – the reason people don’t do these things is that they’re pointless and embarrassing. If a friend told me that they had run up and down the stairs of a Routemaster a hundred times in a row or balanced two filing cabinets on their face while being casually masturbated by a marmoset, I wouldn’t say ‘wow, that’s really impressive, I bet you’re the first person in the world to do that, we must phone Norris McWhirter immediately’. I’d say ‘what on earth did you do that for, you cretin?’
That guy who holds the record for being hit by loads of cars? It sounds like fate is trying to tell him something. Something along the lines of ‘just die already, you bastard’.

There was a kid in my year at school who, for more time than can ever be deemed necessary, insisted that he be called ‘Teapot’. He would do all sorts of unusual things on demand – eating paper, wiping mud on his blazer, that kind of thing – in what I can only imagine to be a pre-emptive strike against any potential bullies; in fairness, it worked brilliantly, although his immunity from bullying was no doubt also down to the fact that he was very good at cricket and thus won the hearts of the sporty boys – as everyone who went to a state school knows, the sporty boys and the bullies are invariably the same people – and subsequently turned out to be super-intelligent Oxford fodder (and thus on a direct route to whacking great wodges of cash, with the inevitable harem of beautiful women that accompany that kind of success). But what about the oddballs who aren’t talented or smart? The empty Teapots? They’re the sort of characters who fall into two (almost) equally worrying camps: firstly, those who feel the need to achieve pointless – if unique – accolades for the halo of supposed impressiveness it furnishes them with and secondly, the sort of crazed monsters that kill loads of people for the sake of it. Much like sporty people and bullies are often one and the same, I imagine so are record-breakers and blood-hungry psychopaths.
So the next time you see someone eating a larger than average meal, treat them with the utmost suspicion. They’re probably carrying a concealed weapon.

Black C-3PO

Imagine the whole trilogy re-dubbed like this.

Draw a Stickman

Lovely little stickman adventure. I won't ruin the surprise, just click below and have a go for yourself. (And don't judge me for drawing a cock, it's exactly what you're going to do.)

What are continents? a more complex question than you might think.

The (abridged) Fast and the Furious

...and here's xXx:

4 Second Frenzy

This is the world's hardest game. Click below to play, then gnaw your own lips off in frustration.

Foo Fighters vs. Westboro Baptist Church

Driving in Asia

This'll have you stamping on your imaginary brake pedal. Look out for the particularly mental bit at 1:25.

Migration, visualised

Global migration flow, presented as lots of pretty coloured lines. Click below to see.

Filthy chefs

Just like those M&S ads, but slightly less dirty.

Nope! Chuck Testa.

Meme of the moment.

Friday, 16 September 2011

16/09/11 - Selling cars

I’ve sold quite a few cars in my time. You could say that it’s the family business. (You’d be wrong to do so, but it wouldn’t be a ridiculous guess.) It’s in the blood, you see – my folks used to sell old motors under the name of A1 Motors, Canvey Island. It wasn’t a full time occupation but it paid more as a sideline than their teaching jobs did, employing the age-old tactic of buying a slightly ropey Ford Zephyr or Vauxhall Cresta from an auction, fixing it up a bit and shifting it on for massive profit. Simple and effective. This also meant that they got to have new cars pretty frequently. (When I use the phrase ‘new car’, in this context and in real life, I mean ‘new to the person who’s bought it’ rather than ‘new from the showroom’.) Please don’t picture my pa as a dodgy Delboy type, though; I think he sold a car to a policeman once, and I’m almost certain he never patched up a sill with old newspaper or took the bulbs out of any dash warning lights...
I’ve never done the auction/business thing for two reasons; a) not being able to raise the capital and b) not being able to trust myself not to buy silly things because I want them rather than sensible things that will generate profit. I’ve only, I think, been to one car auction, at the age of about twenty, and I very nearly bought a Fiat Coupe with a knackered turbo and a shagged clutch. Having owned a couple of them since, I’m now aware that this would have been a Very Bad Idea. But then, where would the fun be in buying a perfect car? It’d be like buying a new-build house that was fully furnished – you’d have no way to put your personal stamp on it. Or something. Kevin McCloud wouldn’t do that.

But I digress; I was talking about selling cars. This is something that’s become more easy and less mysterious over the years, largely due to the relentless march of technology. Auto Trader is a brand I’ve embraced since I was young enough to recognise that the dot-matrix shapes on the page were brum-brum cars, and today it’s extremely easy to sell a car with them - and worryingly simple to browse for one too. What we used to do, back in the eighties and nineties when I was but a car-obsessed munchkin, was attack the Auto Trader with a pair of scissors, making lists of what my dad wanted and could afford, and what I thought he should buy with his given budget. Our opinions were always wildly different, because he was a grown-up who understood that an important part of owning a car is, y’know, driving it around and stuff, whereas I just combed through the ‘Sports’, ‘Classics’ and ‘American & Modified’ sections with my tongue poking out of the corner of my mouth. Funnily enough, the idea of a mkI Escort Mexico without an engine, a rear-ended Lincoln Continental or a Bond Bug never appealed to him as a family runabout.

Back in the good ol’ days, advertising in the AT wasn’t just a case of typing up an ad, uploading a few photos and filling out your credit card details because, er, there weren’t any internets. No, what you had to do was call Auto Trader and make an appointment for them to send somebody round. A day or two later a photographer would turn up – not a pro with a lighting rig, but just some bloke from the office with an Instamatic – who’d go through the copy of your ad with you, suggesting unhelpful phrases like ‘condition is consistent with age and mileage’ (a phrase that fails on two counts; firstly that it’s ad code for ‘this car is a right shitter’, and secondly that it’s quite verbally unwieldy and you only had so many words to use), or ‘never raced or rallied’, which just implies that you’ve been ragging the nuts off it on the Queen’s highway. Then you’d wait ten days or so for the ad to appear in the magazine, wonder why the telephone wasn’t ringing, then realise that they’d misprinted your phone number. Ah, happy times.
Nowadays you can get the whole thing done in a matter of minutes, all by yourself. You can see by the number of people who’ve taken a picture of half of their car or used a stock photo that you can’t always trust the public to handle the details, but it’s saved a lot of admin for the chaps in the office. And if you’re buying, the search facility is dangerously brilliant; you can search by make, model, distance, price, fuel, transmission, keyword – as broad or specific as you like. It’s even available as an iPhone app, so when you’re on the bus home from work you can, within a few clicks, be grumbling to yourself ‘I’d be home a fucksight quicker if I had a mkIV Supra’. Then you’ll spend ages trying to find one that doesn’t have an automatic gearbox, incrementally expanding your search until you pinpoint one that’s four times your budget. And is in Glasgow. And then you’ll realise that you’ve missed your stop.

I’ll probably end up working for Auto Trader one day. Not by choice – just because it’s a karmic bonus system for people who’ve bought a certain number of second-hand cars. It just makes sense to gravitate toward the source.

The Elixir of Love

Adverts. Real life. Does there need to be a line between them?

Drive recklessly

The effects of alcohol clever mouseover form! Click below.

Osaka Station fountain clock

This is the coolest thing you can do with water.

The Sexperience 1000

Want to know what Brits get up to in the sack? Of course you do. Click the image...

What Is A Bajillion Hits?

'What if we changed... everything?'

Horsemanning's the next big thing. Or something. Click here.

Ding ding!

Interesting fact - if you ring a bicycle bell at people, they'll instinctively get out of your way even if they've turned around and seen that you aren't on a bicycle!

Sistine panorama

Click the image below to see a high-res 360-degree view of the Sistine Chapel.
(It's weird to see it empty - when I went there, it was crammed with tourists from all angles...)

Convincing acting

At 0:17 you'd almost believe he was trying to see something inside that car...

Ad of the week - Weetabix dubstep

This is just a brilliant ad - it's the new Evian Babies/Cadbury's Gorilla.

...and, incidentally, if you want a flash lesson in dubstep, this video spells it out for you phonetically.

Friday, 9 September 2011

09/09/11 - The Crimes of Grimes

Jedward are like the twin suns of Tatooine – unremarkable in isolation, visible from a distance, and almost certainly fictional.
I really dislike them. It’s easy to say that this is just because they’re nauseating little twerps - although that clearly is the case - but I prefer to be a little more methodical in my victimisation, so this is where we find ourselves; some bitter things I’ve bothered to write down rather than, y’know, just thinking about something I do like.

I’ve worked pretty hard for the last decade-ish, and what have I got out of it? More debt than I can bear to think about, and living in a rented flat that leaks in the rain, right next to a chip shop.
And Jedward? They’re nineteen and they drive Ferraris. I’ve done my very best to take an interest in the world, to absorb as much knowledge as I have access to, yet these pricks are surfing a tide of success with nothing in their heads but tiny little hamsters jabbing blindly at the controls. For fuck’s sake. The futility of endeavour and achievement is relentlessly thrown into sharp focus these days by the spiralling vortex of dimwit celebrity, and Jedward are symbolic of just why there’s no point fucking trying any more. All that’s required is to gurn your way into reality TV and try to prove to everyone that your staggering emptyheadedness is in some way a positive character trait. You’ll make a fortune. And you won’t be able to hear the dusty grinding of your hard-working ancestors spinning in their graves, because the sound will echo into infinitesimal oblivion as it wafts through your massive house.

Jedward are celebrated for their mediocrity, but this really doesn’t make a lot of sense as people have just sat back and allowed it to happen, and generally lost sight of what it is that they actually do. Which is nothing.
The first thing you think of (apart from the hair) is the fact that they’re bad singers. So they’re known for their crapness. But is that the principle reason that they’re famous, or are they just famous because they’re famous?
Fair play to Louis Walsh, he has an eye for spotting cash potential in the most unlikely piles of execrable smidgery, but it’s at the cost of our overall cultural wellbeing. Every second of airtime devoted to these berks is a second that we aren’t seeing something that we actually enjoy. They’re modern day jesters. Why are we letting this continue?

The greedily-named John Paul Henry Daniel Richard Grimes and Edward Peter Anthony Kevin Patrick Grimes are emblematic of a cretinous zeitgeist. And I’d love to meet them one day, just to say that sentence to them and watch their brows furrow in bafflement at what any of those words can possibly mean. (This would inevitably end in disappointment, as they would immediately file the encounter under ‘insignificant’ [or ‘purple’, depending on how their brains work {quite simply, I imagine}] before bouncing off to eat some sweeties or play on a space hopper.) They demonstrate all that’s wrong with popular culture in the twenty-first century; namely that you don’t have to know anything to be wealthy and successful. As long as you want stuff, you can just have it. This doesn’t work in all cases, of course, but it’s the one phrase you hear more often than any other on shows such as The X Factor: ‘I want it so much,’ the contestants bleat through befuddled tears, ‘it’s all I’ve ever wanted!’
Well, boo fucking hoo. The world doesn’t owe you fame, success, wealth, big houses, supercars and as many nubile, teenage strumpets as your genitals can cope with. The world is a harsh and tricky place, where you have to earn your future, proportionate to effort, skill and endeavour. Oh wait, no, that’s not true any more; all you need to do is make an unstoppable tit of yourself on television and just watch the gawping masses slap their fins together, begging you to toss them another turd-smeared celebrity fish.

You know what this all comes down to? I’m jealous. I am jealous of Jedward. And writing those five words in that order is just about the most depressing thing I’ve ever done.


Jackass, New Zealand-style.

August fail compilation

Ten minutes of wincing. Perfect.

Accidental Chinese Hipsters

Shoreditch, annexed. Click.

Like a BUS!

Bus 62 isn't scared of floods.

Unintentionally sexual church signs

Right, 'unintentional'. Clicky.

Coffee Jerks

An enduring theme throughout coffee adverts of the fifties and sixties: men were complete arseholes to their wives.

Elderly Superhero

A series of paintings by Andreas Englund show what happens to superheroes when they start knocking on a bit... click here.

Foo Fighters - Hot Buns

This is how you promote a tour.

Scare 'em straight

It's a dangerous world out there. Behold.

Pronunciation Manual

Click here for the best channel on YouTube. Srsly.

Twin Tower Cameos

The World Trade Centre provided a dramatic backdrop for many movies between 1969-2001. And here they are...

My Little Top Gear

This, surely, is the future of TG.

'No Stairway...?'

Friday, 2 September 2011

02/09/11 - Eighties telly

There’s a simple formula for making relatively cheap television. You’ll usually spot it on Dave or something on a Sunday night (or every channel, all the time around Christmas). You take a bunch of talking-heads-for-hire - say, Gok Wan, Vernon Kay, Jo Brand or whoever – and ask them for a few soundbites on a random list of stuff; top 100 comedy shows, top 50 films, blah blah. It’s unnecessary, whimsical nostalgia that, for the most part, the viewers will agree with, and will comprise a fifty-fifty blend of the obvious and the obscure to keep people saying alternately ‘yep, I’d have included that’ and ‘OMG, I’d forgotten about that’.
And never let it be said that JuicyPips isn’t unnecessary, whimsical, simple or cheap. So here, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, are JuicyPips’ top 7 television shows from the eighties. Why not, eh? (It’s just me shitting on about it though, I’m afraid – I haven’t managed to rope in Jenny Eclair or Andi Peters for support, although you’re welcome to read it in their voices to add a bit of glitzy celebrity texture.)

Morris Minor’s Marvellous Motors
Andy Serkis is a credible actor, right? He was really good as Ian Dury in Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll. He was Gollum in Lord of the Rings. But did you know he played a character called Sparky Plugg in Tony Hawks’ obscure – ahem - comedy vehicle in 1989?
I’ll be honest, I can’t actually remember this programme very well. I was only seven when it was on. But I do remember being annoyed that we had to go to the Berni Inn in Liphook once on a Saturday night, because it meant I’d be missing Morris Minor’s... although I did have donut holes for pudding, which was an exotic transatlantic delicacy I was theretofore unfamiliar with. So it wasn’t all bad. I haven’t found any clips of the show online, but largely because I haven’t tried that hard; I mean, it’ll definitely be shit. Check out Stutter Rap (No Sleep till Bedtime) by Morris Minor and the Majors - this TV series was basically a spin-off of that endeavour. It’s probably exactly as good as that evolution suggests.

Pigeon Street
‘What TV shows did you watch when you were a kid?’ That question is a rich seam of pub fodder. (Can you have a seam of fodder? No, probably not. Sorry, inelegant.) Obvious answers for kids of the eighties tend to include: Postman Pat, Thomas the Tank Engine, Jimbo, Bertha, Button Moon, Thundercats, The Raggy Dolls, Going Live! and Trap Door. But no-one ever seems to remember Pigeon Street, which was the best one of the lot. It had a lorry driver who was also a woman, lots of characters with odd facial hair, an eccentric detective who lived in a tower block and an Indian woman named Mrs Patel. How’s that for right-on early eighties diversity? They ticked all the boxes way before the BBC starting insisting on equal opportunities and that.
It also taught kids the importance of showing an interest in breeding birds for competition. Which leads us to...

Geordie Racer
Sort of like a shit Kes, Geordie Racer was a programme made for schools that told the tale of a kid from Newcastle (obviously) who had a racing pigeon. It gave schools an opportunity to teach southern kids essential lifestyle titbits regarding their northern cousins – making stottie cakes, learning about the Metro Centre and so forth. (Confusingly, this boy was named Spuggy, which Byker Grove fans would generally consider to be a name you’d give to unpopular but plucky ginger girls.)
A dozen or so people remember this show, and fondly sing ‘Geor-die Ra-cer, Geor-die Ra-cer, FLY!’, while everyone else just looks at them in confusion, then carefully edges away.

Knightmare was fucking mental. It was like a video game where kids could play the protagonists, except they’d be wearing massive helmets so that they couldn’t see what was going on, having to be guided by voice commands from their team-mates. Although if they could see where they were going, they’d know it was just a big-ass bluescreen like some kind of peculiar TV weather-map.
Two key facts about Knightmare: a generation of kids, for a short time at least, would always react to parents knocking on their bedroom doors with the phrase ‘enter, stranger’. And that helmet the players wore? It was called the Helmet of Justice. Strewth.

Young people these days know Roy Walker by his appearances on Chris Moyles’ Radio 1 show, and their opinion of Catchphrase is, quite rightly, that it’s a shitty daytime cretin parade; the Jeremy Kyle of quiz shows. But back in the eighties, the mixture of the Catchphrase formula and Walker’s Irish lilt was game show gold. The red and blue neon tubes that illuminated when the contestants pushed their buzzers were brilliantly cheap, but it was the iffy 8-bit graphics of Mr Chips that really made the show pop. Remember Catchphrase for the magic televisual tapestry it once wove, rather than the travesty it became. ‘It’s a good answer, but it’s not the right one...’

Family Fortunes
Another quality game show that became shit. It was great in the eighties. ‘And our survey said... uh UHHHHHHHHHHHH!’. Lovely.

It's wacky! It's fun! It's cr-a-a-a-zy! It's outrageous!
Funhouse... it's a whole lot of fun, prizes to be won,
It's a real crazy show where anything can go.
Funhouse... it's a quiz, it's a race, a real wacky place,
Use your body and your brain if you wanna play the game!

If you’re my age, you’ll be humming along to that.
The perennially be-mulleted Pat Sharp riding a superbike for about three feet at the start of each show was a powerful symbol – everyone remembers that being the start of the programme, but nobody really questioned what on earth he was up to. Presumably he was light-headed and disorientated, having recently deposited all of his surplus gametes in Melanie and Martina.
Remember The Ball Run? Beat the Bully? Gong Crazy? Magic Curtain? No, nobody remembers the actual elements of the game – it’s just the mullet, the twins and the karting at the end. Great stuff though.

See, I remember things that happened in the past. What was your favourite eighties TV show - Charlie Chalk, Cheers, Challenge Anneka? Why not tell people about it in slightly too much detail, like it matters? They’ll smile and nod for a bit, then probably say something about Fingermouse.

Scientology: The Truth

Sexy Fingers

Brilliantly filthy AIDS awareness thingy. Click here.

Doctor Who?

I've never really got into Doctor Who. But now I don't need to, as everything that's ever happened in it has been condensed into about five minutes. Behold:

To be honest, I'd be more likely to watch it if it was more like this:


A collection of tweets on the subject of crap dates. Endlessly entertaining. Click here.

100 years of East London style

I'd say that 'Eastfield' was a far more logical name than 'Westfield Stratford'. But what do I know...?

HMV - Oxford Street

HMV's Oxford Street store, like every other shop on Oxford Street, is quite an annoying place to be; if you're not being jostled by parties of schoolkids with massive backpacks, you're tripping over discarded Britney CDs and getting death-stares from the many, many security guards. Which is a shame, because look how awesome it used to be...
(Click here for more.)

DIY animation with Terry Gilliam

Essential life skills that every kid should learn.


Heello is basically pretend Twitter, brilliantly mirroring it to create a parallel universe where celebrities, news networks and what-have-you are unconstrained by nannying PR regs or the fear of being judged, and shoot straight from the hip. Click here to find out more.

Catalogue poses IRL

Admirable commitment.


The art of temporary vandalism with dry-erase markers - it's rather lovely. Click here.

Movie jibber-jabber

Here we have (in one person's opinion) the 25 greatest unscripted movie scenes:

...but sometimes you just want those pesky actors to shut up, right? SIIIIILEEEEENCE!

Ortis Deley: quality presenting

Click the image to cringe your way through some of the most awkward TV presenting of all time. Poor bastard was just out of his depth...

Jokes for nerds

No.14 is superb.

But for fuck's sake, stop waving your fucking hands around.

Where's WALL·E?

Click to enlarge. *geekgasm*

Divine Rags

Well, this is odd.

Excellent ending, there.