Sunday, 26 December 2010
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
I'm not entirely sure what it is about the cat lampshade - or, as the marketing team would have you call it, the 'campshade' - which puts felines in such a bad mood. Perhaps it's the constant cases of mistaken identity. Completely ignoring the inconvenience caused by being confused for traffic cones and phonographs,
aforementioned objects are infamously litigious. Attending hearings for identity fraud seriously reduces the time available for a cat to ... do whatever it is exactly that cats do when they're not sleeping, eating or attending hearings for identity fraud.
Of course, silence isn't the only reaction to the campshade...
My cat, however, likes to do things a little differently.
I tried not to laugh. Honestly, I did. But then this happened.
It's amazing the difference that a little access to cat food can make.
Sunday, 19 December 2010
Saturday, 18 December 2010
Those of you thinking that question is absurd have obviously never had to wake up to the consequences of on Amazon 1-click ordering.
Said the snowman.
4. Complete paralysis of the rail network
5. Rolling news coverage of gritting depots
I'd always assumed that the reporter had recently argued with the production staff. Hell hath no fury like a locations manager scorned.
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Monday, 30 August 2010
Beijing’s most recent traffic jam stretched for an impressive 100km. Converting this to temporal units, that’s the equivalent of nine days! That’s 216 hours! That’s almost as long as it takes to get served at the Post Office!
Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that the Chinese government is seeking innovative solutions to its transit troubles. The latest suggestion – a bus on stilts - which sits astride the traffic-ridden lanes is not only a triumph of lateral thinking, but genuinely futuristic1.
As a student of geography, I'm aware that certain dating techniques (particularly radiometrics) require a fixed timescale for calibration. The most widely-used, “Years Before Present”, designates the 1st of January 1950 as ‘the present’.
Using this scale, we're living 60 years after present.
So, in a way, the future arrived six decades ago.
Saturday, 28 August 2010
Thursday, 12 August 2010
Have you exhausted all your usual time dissipation techniques?
I have a suggestion.
Try watching ‘Cash4Gold’ adverts and transposing ‘child’ for ‘valuable, inert metal’.
“With the price of toddlers, adolescents and children at their highest value in decades, Cash4Kids is able to give you a great deal for your unwanted offspring.”
Monday, 2 August 2010
‘Why are you so quiet?’
There are two main reasons for my veneer of silence. The first is a matter of principle; volume implies conviction. If I don’t know the answer to a question, then I can’t justify a verbal response. This isn’t limited to an academic context; if I don’t know where you left the car keys, I won’t reply. Sooner or later the architect of the question will check down the back of the sofa. They’ll find the missing car keys, £2.19 in small change and three different breeds of paperclip.
The second reason is more straightforward. My attempts at casual conversation elicit a slow-motion descent into failure usually reserved for attempts to make Gordon Brown smile ‘naturally’.
I get off to a sound start.
How are you? Lovely weather. I like your shoes.
The conversation stalls. It’s my turn to speak. All the safe topics have been covered. I need to venture further offshore, to say something interesting.
It’s legal to duel to the death in Paraguay, provided both parties are registered blood donors.
They stare at me. Head slowly tilts to one side, expression a mixture of contempt and confusion.
A lifeline! An ‘Operation Top Kill’ to my Deepwater Horizon, they’ve given me a chance at retribution. Think. What do people normally talk about? The weather? Already covered it. Politics! That’s always relevant, isn’t it? I’ll ask them a question, let them guide the conversation.
Do you think Boris Johnson or Nick Clegg would fetch a higher price at ransom?
I look up at them hopefully. They sigh. My attempt to seal the breach has failed. Embarrassment is rushing into the room at the rate of 5000 barrels per day. I’ve accidentally marinated the pelicans of convention.
Like Tony Hayward, I decide it would be best to leave the scene of the crime. I walk away, my shoulders heavy under the weight of an over-extended metaphor.
Saturday, 31 July 2010
On first examination of the facts, Sherlock, the latest iteration of the story of Watson and Holmes, shares much common ground with the BBC’s favourite Time Lord. Further parallels may be drawn; the series is written by Steven Moffat and features Mark Gatiss. It delivers well-scripted, well-cast entertainment to a discerning audience. Recently, the franchise’s image had been updated.
You might have suspected that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s super-sleuth was harboured with a faulty Chameleon Circuit. Since Holmes’ iconic deerstalker cap first appeared in Sidney Paget’s illustrations in 1891, it has remained firmly affixed to his head. Like the British Government’s debt of £900 billion and that tiny smudge in the corner of your glasses, some things are hard to shift.
But the Doctor is free to traverse time periods; why should Holmes be tethered to the gas-lit turmoil of Victorian London? In an article for the Radio Times, Moffat wrote that “Doyle was writing fast-paced, contemporary detective thrillers – he wasn’t wasting time on what you could see from your own window. It was about story, surprise and jokes and of course those mind-bending deductions. He wasn’t – to state the obvious – writing a period piece.”
Moffat and Gatiss aren’t heretics – they’re renovators. While the Victorian aesthetic is ephemeral, the story’s appeal is perennial. The character of The Doctor had been been reinvented and re-dressed eleven times! Few would argue that his transformation from William Hartnell to Matt Smith has defiled the concept. Sherlock may not be a son of Gallifrey, but he was due a regeneration.
Whereas The Doctor relies on questionable quasi-science to resolve plots, Sherlock awes the viewer with a dazzling display of analytical acumen. His seemingly infinite capacity for knowledge and detail leaves the viewer stunned, the ratings high and the case solved.
Under the watchful eye of Moffat, Holmes has achieved a stunning resurgence. (Without the use of a sonic screwdriver.)