Sunday, April 29

Safety noise.

I heard this advert on the radio the other day. I'm quoting from memory so a word or two will be out of place, sure, but I swear this is accurate:

Nnnnnnnnmnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnmnnnnmnnnnnnnnnnmnnnnnn...

This is the sound of a tattoo.

...nnnnnnnnmnnnnnnnnnnnnnmmnnnnnnnmnnmnnnnnnn.

[Silence]


This is the sound of another kind of skin art.

[Silence]

Skin cancer doesn't make a noise.


There was more, but I didn't hear it. Too busy shouting "What?"



Wednesday, April 25

Subsidy.

An acquaintance of our family fosters children. She recently fostered a baby for a few weeks, whose mother felt she was unable to looking after him herself. The social workers evidently agreed, and entered the baby into the fostering program.

So what was the big disaster that rendered this woman incapable of looking after her own child for a few weeks and caused the state to intervene? Was she in rehab? Was her boyfriend beating her? Did she have a nervous breakdown or severe post-natal depression?

She was moving house.



Friday, April 20

A bit of a legend.

If you already know this, then I'm sure it will be utterly uninteresting, but I didn't and it was quite a surprise. Mark Snow, who very famously composed the minimal understated electronica X-Files theme, also composed the lushly orchestrated disco of the Hart To Hart theme and the brass-ridden jumping up and down of the Cagney & Lacey theme, not to mention T.J. Hooker, Crazy Like A Fox, and, er, Pearl Harbor II: Pearlmageddon. Versatile, busy, and, it would appear, quite indiscriminate.



Tuesday, April 17

Currently playing on the jukebox in my head.

A few days ago, I was unfortunate enough to witness the BBC children's TV show Boogiebeebies. I strongly suspect that it is a classic case of decision-making by committee. Here's what I think must have happened. (I'm being generous here. The alternative to my committee theory is simply that the program is the product of a badly warped mind.)

Firstly, some bright spark comes up with the idea of teaching kids to dance. Not a bad idea, actually: get them moving, increase their self-confidence and coordination. Good plan. I would not be at all surprised to learn that the original idea involved taking popular chart hits and showing kids how to dance to them. Maybe. Whatever the truth, there is no way on Earth that the initial concept can have been as bad as the finished product.

Because what seems to have happened at a crucial stage in production is that a tiresome git has got involved. Mere dancing to pop-type music was not good enough for them. The program needed to be educational, needed to teach children how to be good citizens, needed to push the state's latest best ideas of What The Kids Must Do. Combining this sort of thinking with popular freestyle dancing has led to something quite, quite awful. It has, in fact, led to a government information advert whose ideas are portrayed through the medium of popular dance. For kids. Amazingly, it is actually worse than that description. And it is the weirdest damned thing I have ever seen on television.

The episode that I saw and am desperately and uselessly trying to erase from my mind was clearly part of the Government's "5 a-day" (or "Why won't the bastard public eat as many vegetables as we tell them to?") scheme.

The show's format involves a very chirpy presenter showing the viewers the moves, taking them through a full routine bit by bit, then performing the whole shebang at the end of the show. He is aided by almost-as-chirpy backup kids. All with a psychedelic background, interspersed with shots illustrating the subject matter of the custom-made pop song — in this case, vegetables and the eating thereof. Mmm.

Here are some of the lyrics:

Take, take the vegetables!
Shake, shake the vegetables!


Because, you see, you shake the water off the vegetables after washing them, prior to cooking them. There is, of course, a vegetable-shaking dance move.

Then there's the line about the difficulties of choosing which ever-so-tasty vegetable to eat:

Ohhhhhh, oh aubergiiiiiine!
And yeeeeeet, I like courgeeeeeette!


The above two lines are accompanied by backdrops, first of giant aubergines, then of giant courgettes. Their respective dance moves involve slowly and lovingly stroking the aubergines upwards, then the courgettes downwards. I may continue to see this image until the day I die.

Don't get me started on Tommy Zoom.



Age concern.

When I was a kid, I used to listen to Beatles records. Even then, in the late Seventies and early Eighties, they seemed kind of old. Following on from this alarming revelation, I have realised something even more worrying.

The Theme From S-Express is older now than even the earliest Beatles records were then.



Tuesday, April 3

History.

Don't know if you've seen it, but there's this new commemorative 50p coin doing the rounds. It's a nice bit of graphic design, and it's to celebrate fifty years of the NHS.

Now, I'm positive I'm reading far too much into this, but look. The old 50p: Britannia: she's wearing a helmet, carrying a shield with a Union Jack on it and a rather vicious-looking and downright pointy trident, and she's got a lion. A lion! The new 50p: fifty years of the NHS.

Is that not, right there, the history of Twentieth-Century Britain?



German-Chinese cuisine.

You eat till you're full, then an hour later you're hungry for power.