May 2005 Archives -

Derren Brown – The Gathering

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For the first time in a long while, I kicked back and watched a full programme last night – a programme called “Derren Brown – The Gathering“. The eager amongst you will notice I’ve talked about Derren before – in fact, this well-rounded post talks about a previous, well-publicised Derren show. That post caused all sorts of people to flock to and became the second most popular post on the site. So, why not talk about him again?
Derren, if you don’t know, markets himself as a psychological illusionist, manipulating his subjects to do what he wants. Last night’s audience was chock full of British celebrities, all carted off to the event in blacked-out coaches to hide their destination. A large, dimly-lit stage confronted them on their arrival and for the next one and a half hours Derren performed his psychological tricks. And, as ever, they were impressive. He guessed people’s answers with astonishing regularity, seemed to have memorised the entire London streetmap – even down to the grid reference and page numbers of roads.
Or did he? His mental feats seem so unbelievably impressive that he is always going to draw in the critics. As ever, DigitalSpy has a good discussion going on the pros and cons of the performance, but almost everyone agrees on one thing – whatever the suspicions about his mental trickery, Derren Brown is a damn good entertainer. And that is, after all, how he pays the bills.

Look! A Post!

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So there I was, talking a little drunkenly to a work colleague who by happy coincidence also has a weblog. And I was explaining, in between slurs, the problem with maintaining weblogs. “You shee,” I rambled, “I think of loadsh of things to shay. Trouble is, I’m usually nowhere near a computer. So when I get home at night, oh damn it.” It was at this point that I knocked over a completely reasonable pint of beer. “So when I get home,” I ploughed on, “I’ve either forgotten what I wanted to shay, or I’ve had shuch a busy day I can’t be bothered to sit down for half an hour and tap it all in. Mine’s a Heineken, thanksh.”
And so, dear reader, that is about the size of it. Plenty of things have happened, a couple of them involving Jenson Button and hospitals. But work has been extremely busy for the best part of a month and all I want to do when I get home is vegetate.
I like to call it Blogger’s Block.

A Fishy Fact

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“Tell us your amazing facts,” challenged Downsy, the stand in (and remarkably good) radio presenter on my local radio station‘s breakfast show. I bristled with excitement. A few years ago, during my tender student “placement year” where I worked with Sun Microsystems, the spare time was devoted to emails, particularly jokes and a supreme Fact Focus. Every weekly release of Fact Focus, bristling full of random, useless and downright obscure facts, was a work of art. During the height of its success, 104 people signed up to receive the thing, a fact that puffed my chest in geek pride.
And now was the time to unleash on Surrey and Horth-East Hampshire my very favourite fact – a fact told to me by Chris H, a colleague at Sun. It is a fact that rises above all other, and I was sure that this little gem would get the airtime it deserved. I pulled over at the nearest layby just past Guildford, and texted my prized fact to the number they gave.
Just two minutes later, the DJ cut into a song with a few more facts that had been texted in. “And finally, the prize fact”, he announced. “Did you know,” – a smile prematurely spread across my face – “that St John’s Wood is the only tube station not to contain any of the letters of the word ‘mackerel'”. And with this, he dissolved in fits of giggles.
I was officially a font of useless knowledge. I was *proud*. I was even more proud when I found that the moment had been selected as a highlight of the show, and was repeated several times today.
And I can tell, underneath the sheer embarrassment, that Michelle was equally proud when her office radio announced my fact regularly throughout the day to her colleagues. She’s a lucky girl, I tell you.

The Fat Labour’s sung

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It’s all over. Labour, inevitably, has managed to hold on to its lead. Give it credit though – they tried hard. For instance, the overseas army and navy soldiers – the great majority of whom do not know why the hell they’re out there and wouldn’t be supporting Labour – *accidently* didn’t receive their postal voting slips until it was too late. And when John Humphries, editor of the BBC today programme, went to vote he found that his vote had already been cast. By someone else. Mariella Frostrup phoned the show and said the same had happened to her. Presumably this didn’t just happen to them in particular. And in a final insult to all who may think this election is fair to all, a tally of the votes so far cast shows that in fact Labour came second polling 35,906 votes fewer than the Tories. but the way the system is balanced, Labour still win with a large majority. As Richard from Manchester said on the BBC page ‘Labour victory: Your reaction‘, “Scotland has its parliament, Wales its Assembly yet they are in effect deciding who governs England. Time for an English parliament on the same basis as the Scots.”
As ever, Boris Johnson’s columns hit the nail on the head. “If Labour is re-elected,” he warned three weeks ago, “it will be with the help of one of the most gerrymandered systems in the western world.”
But still, there’s no need to be overly bitter. The reduced majority means that at least the government can’t railroad their proposals through, and at least another term of Labour will mean we’ll definitely want to see the back of them next time…