Thursday, April 28, 2005


Will Life Be a Miracle?

Cornerhouse cinema on Oxford Road is showing the Emir Kusturica film 'Life Is A Miracle.' I've heard so much about this, and I've (shamefully) not seen a Kusturica film before, so I'm heading up for the matinee performance tomorrow. I'm so excited, I don't know if I'll be able to sleep! A review will surely be forthcoming.

Will life seem a miracle to Steve?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Blogroll Policy

If you comment on this site at any point in the next few months, I shall add you to the blogroll (if you have a blog, or website, or whatever.) If I don't, write me a bitchy email.


A Sense Of Humour Failure?

It's very common here in Britain to hear folks be very down on American comedy. I'd never given the matter much thought myself, but the latest American TV network ratings suggest there may be something in it. Yet, at the same time, America has produced many very funny sitcoms. I personally found 'Friends' about as funny as a hammer in the face, but it clearly enjoyed global appeal. At its best, I found 'Frasier' really funny. So why the sudden dearth?

It may be something to do with changing attitudes. Here in Blighty, after all, the old sitcom format is heading out. The most widely praised, and often widely watched, comedies are tending to move away from the sitcom style. Consider 'Little Britain' - again, deeply unfunny, but many, many people find it hilarious. How about the character-based comedy of the Alan Partridge canon? Or the dark and fantastic sitcom/sketch show/horror cinema hybrid that was the magnificent 'The League Of Gentlemen?'

I don't for a minute believe that Americans have lost the ability to laugh. The two comedies that did do well in the ratings are very funny, after all. Maybe, however, the big network format of American television stifles a certain amount of creativity. Perhaps, too, a more rigid insistence on moral values has an impact. I know that sounds dreadfully patronising, and snooty in a ghastly Euro-intellectual way, but there is a point there - could a show like 'The League Of Gentlemen', with its jokes about cannibalism, murder, kidnapping and incest, have survived Stateside? I don't think so - yet it was truly hilarious.

Maybe it's just a blip. Maybe, in no time at all, there'll be a flood of quality American sitcoms beaming to tellies all over the world. It won't be 'Joey', however.

Hilary Briss - cannibalism as (bloody hilarious) comedy


Throw Him To The Birds

Michael Bay, who directed such stinkers as 'Armageddon', 'Pearl Harbor' and 'Bad Boys 2' is likely to be asked to produce a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic, 'The Birds.' Also, lest we forget, he has produced, in the last few years, two utterly stupid and pointless remakes - 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and 'The Amityville Horror.' Please, please, please, may this one bite the dust.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Poor Paula

Poor Paula Abdul. Just a few weeks after nearly being sent to jail for speeding away from a car crash, she's having to defend herself from accusations of alcoholism.

People have such short memories. She brought down the Berlin Wall, doncha know.*

How could communism withstand?

*This was a claim some people made in all seriousness at the time. They thought that because the East German yoof had got an earful of the Abdul sound, they were inspired to be so energetic in helping knock down the Berlin Wall. It's not impossible, I suppose. A fair chunk of her music makes me want to knock things over, too.


On 'Shrooms & Politics

So, the other day, fancying a bit of a laugh, I picked up a copy of 'The Guardian Student', or, as it's also known, 'The Idiots Guide To The Guardian', owing to the fact it's thinner than a Michael Jackson excuse, yet contains all the stories of the week deemed relevant to students, or that they might understand, or something. And there were a couple of interesting pieces in it.

Under the headline, 'Mushroom Ban Opposed' (different online, here), the writer, Mark Honigsbaum, analyses the proposed amendments to the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, in which it is neither illegal to sell or possess magic mushrooms in their natural state. Here are the juicier extracts, with my thoughts in brackets:

'They also point out that the bill would create a grey area for other naturally occurring hallucinogens, many of which are traded on the internet and just as hallucinogenic as the banned cubensis mushrooms. Mescaline, for instance, like psilocin and pscilocybin, the active constituents of cubensis mushrooms, is identified as a class A drug under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. But the drug bill says nothing about the peyote cactus from which it is derived.

The bill also makes no reference to the fly agaric toadstool, a highly poisonous red and white spotted fungus which the Home Office warns about on its drug education website, Talk to Frank, and which grows wild in British forests. It also makes no mention of Salvia divinorum, a hallucinogenic plant from Mexico which Potseeds, a Totnes-based internet retailer, advertises as "the legal high our politicians forgot to ban.'"

The 1971 Act is indeed deeply flawed. Clearly, the situation was preposterous where mushrooms were legal, but their active ingredients weren't, and where you could be prosecuted if they were found in your kitchen, but not in your garden. However, it's worth pointing out that the damage inflicted by 'shroom users is pretty low, all things considered. It seems to me that the more sensible route would have been full legalisation, which would allow the Police to keep better track of the goings-on in the business.

Salvia, by the way, is total rubbish, or so I'm told. I've no intention of trying it. Allegedly, however, it wouldn't get a fly on a high.

"By no stretch of the imagination can you equate magic mushrooms with heroin or cocaine," said Lord Mancroft, a member of the all-party group on the misuse of drugs and chairman of Mentor UK, which aims to prevent drug misuse by young people. "There's no evidence magic mushrooms are addictive, cause harm to people or are a public order problem. The bill is completely disproportionate.'

Surely this can't be true. No evidence? Not a single study or survey found the slightest element of addictiveness or the most tenuous link to 'harm to people?' I find that a bit hard to believe, however much it would improve my argument if it were true.

'Yesterday a Home Office spokeswoman said people would not be considered to have committed an offence merely for having magic mushrooms growing on their land.'

Who's to say? If possession is illegal, where will the line be drawn? If Plod comes around, and you're digging up your garden, and you've got a pile of dug-up 'shrooms in a wheelbarrow, is he/she going to think twice? It all seems a bit daft to me.

Above: Harmless fun or damaging poison?

The other interesting story comes on page 2, in a little blue box called 'Campus view: does voting matter?' This box fulfils the most pernicious need of all modern media, the need to be interactive. This allows us the delights of Venetia Harpin's (English & Philosophy) views on the electoral system. And what pearl of wisdom does Venetia offer us:

'"Yes, definitely. I'm concerned by voter apathy. Also, I can't believe there's not more information and support for students about voting in elections, considering that we're supposed to be so politically active."'

If we're supposed to be so politically active, Venetia, why do we need support to work out how to tick a box? If you're that active, don't you already know who to vote for?


Further Thoughts On Hitchhiker's

"As so often in such a short-sighted world, nobody asked me about any of this."*

Simon Jones, the original Arthur Dent, has been quizzed about how he feels about the new film. He answers by pointing out that he hasn't seen the film yet. Fair enough. A thought occurred to me earlier, however. Why, when casting the film, did the filmaker's not sign up Jack Davenport? Okay, he's not the world's best actor, but he does at least look like Arthur. And, more importantly, it would have saved him from involvement in the train-wreck 'The Wedding Date.'

I've never seen them in the same room either.

*Bill Bryson, 'Down Under'


You Couldn't Make It Up . . . .

Apparently, the new Pope has decided that Harry Potter is ungodly. He claims that the books "undermine the soul of Christianity."

Too bloody right. I'm beginning to like this Pope. If any Pope is goimg to start having people burned at the stake, this one will. Of course, as a heathen myself, I could be first to go. Still, it's a small price to pay.

In other news, Jessica Simpson apparently has a first acting role. This film has, I think, the potential to be a complete egg. It's a remake of a particularly stupid television programme, from an era of them, starring some real deckchairs - Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Willie Nelson and the bloke who got his cock out in 'Sideways'? I can't wait.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Let The Punishment Fit The Crime

British people who support Real Madrid, should, in my opinion, be dressed in red and thrown to the bulls. I was out last night at a nearby bar, and they were showing the Real game on Sky Sports 3. And lo and behold, there was a crowd of effete tossers cheering the Galactico's, drinking distinctly non-manly drinks like rum and coke. You should have seen how delighted they were when Real won. Bastards.

On a related note, just how sexy is Guillem Balague? I mean, I'm not, but if I was, I would. Know what I mean?

The sexy beast himself.


Get Me One . . .

of these for my birthday.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Woman: A Chemical Analysis

As was the case in 'The Morning Poem', I heard this first several years ago. I was working in an accountancy office, doing filing, when, checking through the accounts of a haulage company, I found dozens of these jokey sheets. The 'Morning Poem' was one, a couple of the others can be found here and here.

I particularly love 'found in various states from virgin metal to common ore.' Genius.



At Chase Me Ladies, the discussion is of how shit Shakespeare looked. My own personal favourite glimpse of the Bard comes here, on the front of 'The Riverside Shakespeare' (Second Edition). It well shows how, after his famous beheading, the great man's severed head was presented to the populace on a lace cushion from Laura Ashley.


Bewildered Speculation Invited

Apparently, Kylie Minogue and Prince Charles have shared 'dildo' tales with one another. Cheeky Charlie won't divulge his, and Kylie won't either, so the boggling mind's pain is unassuaged. Guesses are welcome.


You Might Think . . .

that you're safe from the clutches of the Empire, but Henrik Alexandersson isn't so sure . . .

(via Johan Norberg)


Film Review: 'Amores Perros'

'Amores Perros' is, to all intents and purposes, the debut feature of Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. It has been, since its release, frequently hailed as a seminal film in Hispanic cinema. For example, here's Marc Savlov in the Austin Chronicle:

"For those willing to submit to its terrible charms, it may be the single most important debut to come out of the Americas in years."

or Rene Rodriguez in the Miami Herald (no link available):

"Has the feel of an instant classic, a melodrama with an exacting precision and a visceral, propulsive energy."

(Both reviews via Rotten Tomatoes.)

The film shows a trimuvirate of stories centred around a single, extremely well shot car crash. Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) is a young man desperate for cash who enters his dog Cofi into illegal dog-fights on the backstreets of Mexico City. With the money, he aims to rescue his brothers wife Susana (Vanessa Bauche) from her degrading marriage. The second segment concerns a succesful model, Valeria (Goya Toledo), who loses her dog at the same time she loses her mobility, and consequently her living. The third and final segment concerns 'El Chivo' (literally, The Goat, played excellently by Emilio Echevarría), who is attempting to return to his family after a long period of incarceration, and is paid to bump off a cheating brother by a corrupt policeman.

The film very much has the look and feel of a Hispanic 'Pulp Fiction,' meaning that the few reservations I shared about Tarantion's work apply here too. Namely, that is that there is always an emphasis of style over substance. Still, the story is very gripping. Or, to be more accurate, the first and third stories are gripping. The life of Octavio is cinematically fascinating. His relationships with his family and friends show, in the first segment, more than enough potential to fill a feature film of their own. Using the dogfighting as a metaphor for the harsh realities of life in Mexico City's slums is particularly clever, and for all the criticisms of the violence of the dogfighting scenes (in Britain, the RSPCA filed an official complaint with the BBFC), they really aren't that difficult to watch, or not for me anyway. I don't know whether I'm just too used to on-screen bloodletting, but they seemed to always stay on the line between tasteful and realistic. The real star of the segment, however, is the wonderful banter that the charceters get going. There's not a single line of dialogue that feels unnecessary, or that jars with the viewer. It really is extremely well written.

The third story, too, is well written and intelligent. It lacks the snappy dialogue of the first segment, but makes up for it by packing even more of an emotional impact. The sight of El Chivo leaving a message on his daughter's answerphone, while sitting on her bed, should melt even the hardest of hearts. Again, you get the feeling that there is easily enough dramatic potential in this story for a longer treatment than it gets.

All of which serves to make the second segment so frustrating. However much I wanted to, and believe me I did, I just couldn't sum up any concern at all for the narcissistic model and her equally self-centred boyfriend. The dramatic device of her dog getting stuck down a hole in the floor of their condo was pretty unbelievable, and her reaction to it made me loathe her still more. Ignoring the fact that her boyfriend had been instrumental in nursing her back to health, she proceeds to go spare when he refuses to take up the entire floor of the condo to get the dog out, breezing past his asssertions that he doesn't have the money to put it back together afterwards. She gives off an air of total arrogance, and seems impossible to live with, while he seems like a total doormat, whose only recourse under pressure is to threaten violence you know he'll never visit upon her. As a result, the whole segment feels badly underwritten. This can't be the case, because 36 drafts of the film were made before filming started, so I'm forced to the conclusion that Inárritu simply found the concept much more interesting than I did. This seems so silly, particularly when we consider that the film is actually a little too long.

If you can stomach seeing a little fake blood, however, 'Amores Perros' remains a very worthwhile project. It's good to get a look at the seedier side of life in a large Latin American city, and the acting performanes and direction definitely deserve investigation, as does the rather funky soundtrack. While it's more hit-and-miss than 'Pulp Fiction,' the greater humanity of many of the characters will make this, for some, a more rewarding experience.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Anyone who has read the books will know just how funny they are. Everyone has a favourite book from the five-long 'trilogy', and a favourite character too. For at least two generations, the books, and, to British readers, the TV series and radio series, are some of the few cultural artefacts we share a common knowledge of.

So, naturally, I was worried when I heard rumours of a film version. The film version is now upon us, and, predictably, the film has turned into a battleground. The message boards at the Internet Movie Database would have turned into a bloodbath if some of the people on them had been in the same room.

The balance, sadly, appears to be swinging towards negative, with reviews from two experts on the subject being rather damning, here and here. This would be a great shame. I hope it isn't too bad. As someone who loves and adores all the books, the radio series and the TV series, should I see it?


The Morning Poem

I didn't get up until half past two in the afternoon today, which is about my preference. I appreciate that for those up five or six hours earlier, that may look like indolence. However, I have good news, in the shape of a poem to take your pain away. It's not mine, but I found it years ago. I notice it's become more popular recently. A copy is here. Here it is (without the ending that I don't like):

"I awoke early one morning,
The earth lay cool and still
When suddenly a tiny bird
Perched on my window sill,
He sang a song so lovely
So happy and so gay,
That slowly all my troubles
Began to slip away.
He sang of far off places,
Of laughter and of fun,
It seemed his very trilling
Brought up the morning sun.
I stirred beneath the covers,
Crept slowly out of bed,
Then gently shut the window,
And crushed his fucking head."


Oh God, It's Another Serious Post . . . .

This time about Andrea Dworkin. Yes, yes, I know, she died ages ago, but I was busy, and, given how vastly important I'm sure people will find my comments on the subject, I decided to give them here.

The first and most important thing to say is that I'm starting from a very biased standpoint. You see, I'm male, and thus am complicit in all the many horrible things that she believed men, as a whole, were guilty of. Now, I know men are, at times, complete bastards. I am myself. But, we're not as horrible as Dworkin believed.

I'm not going to attempt too much on this topic, mostly because several of her views make my blood boil, so I'm going to leave it to the always excellent Cathy Young to point out all the many problems with her views here and here. And, for a humourous take, Blame Bush is always helpful.

However, I'm not going to stop there. You see, the most baffling of opinions expressed after Dworkin's death was that of Susie Bright, expressed here. I don't begin to understand how a feminist pornographer can have so much time for a woman who believed pornography to be absolutely horrific, and had all but issued a death sentence on said pornographer. Let's have a look at some of the things she wrote in her eulogy to Dworkin:

"Along with Kate Millet in Sexual Politics, Andrea Dworkin used her considerable intellectual powers to analyze pornography, which was something that no one had done before. No one. The men who made porn didn’t. Porn was like a low culture joke before the feminist revolution kicked its ass. It was beneath discussion."

It's always good to dismiss a whole ouevre of work as irrelevant, isn't it? Apart from anything else, this summary of 'porn before women got behind the pen/camera lens' does it little or no justice. Is there no redeeming literary quality in, for example, DH Lawrence's 'Lady Chatterley's Lover?' See, I think there is.

"She was a scholar of great men, and the one she studied the most, the Marquis de Sade, was someone she could quote up one side and down the other. I'm the one who said she was his feminist reincarnation. She rewrote his Juliette when she wrote her novel Ice and Fire. So much for man-hating."

I'm sure this is such an obvious point it barely needs making, but the Marquis de Sade is hardly typical of standard male fantsies, is he? I tried to watch 'Salo,' but I found it extremely difficult. Taking the most extreme example as some kind of standard is an academic flaw, and should hardly be encouraged. And was de Sade really a 'great man?'

"It was Andrea’s take-no-prisoners attitude toward patriarchy that I always liked the best. Bourgeois feminists were so BORING. They wanted to keep their maiden name and have it listed in the white pages; they wanted to get a nice corner office in the skyscraper. When I was a teenager in the 70s I couldn't relate to those concerns."

I'm sure they were boring. Hoping to become a corner-office schlub is hardly the greatest ambition in life. However, it seems to me that it's these women, with their modest aims and aspirations, who have done much more for women generally, and at much less of a cost to the feminist movement as a whole, than a million Dworkins could have done, no matter how exciting they might have seemed.

"I loved that she dared attack the very notion of intercourse. It was the pie aimed right in the crotch of Mr. Big Stuff. It was an impossible theory, but it wasn’t absurd. There is something about literally being fucked that colors your world, pretty or ugly, and it was about time someone said so."

I'm not going to pretend that I understand this. Just what is 'Mr. Big Stuff?' is it pornography? Capitalism? The male gender? What? And I don't get the 'pretty or ugly' bit, either. Under what circumstances was Dworkin tolerant of intercourse? I can't think of any off the top of my head, and if there were any, they weren't very numerous. So she never said any such thing. Dworkin would have said it made your world, and the world, uglier.

I try to be fair. There is something online called the 'Andrea Dworkin Lie Detector' which attempts to answer some of the more pernicious myths surrounding her life. Fair enough. I was all set to praise this, however, when I clicked on the link at the bottom of the page, to a group called 'Always Causing Legal Unrest.' This appears to be a website of, to put it bluntly, feminist extremists. It contains, approvingly, a photograph of arson, for example. It also contains a rather bizarre fantasy of castration (the weak-of-stomach: beware) here. Now look, I'm not a fan of Bret Easton Ellis. I found 'American Psycho' to be disgusting and boring by turns. That passage, however, is exactly what happens when you follow the teaching of the most extreme feminists to their logical conclusions.

Unlike many men, I didn't hate Andrea Dworkin. She was clearly a very sad individual, and I shall not cheer her death. The death of several of her ideas, however, would be more than welcome.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Porcelain Badger

I did promise I would post no more today, but following on from the post here, I felt it incumbent upon me to help everyone reduce the risk of mugging with the stylish addition of a porcelain badger to ones personage. Try here. Hurry - there's only two days bidding left! And remember, it's YOUR safety we're talking about!


Final Thought For The Day

As I embark upon drinking one of these, waiting for the Arsenal/Chelsea game; Cheers, and Good Health!


They Outdo Themselves

Relating to the last post, we should thank the folks at the Rockall Times for providing so many quality exclusives: Manchester United's proposed changes to Champions League seedings, Arsene Wengers plans for a nine day week, and last, but certainly not least, a sneak preview of the latest Harry Potter novel.

Certainly looks more gripping than the previous installments from Rowling.


Consider Me Corrected

I knew I shouldn't have got upset over Japan and China arguing. Tojo o'Beijing at the Rockall Times has put me to shame with a fantastic and illuminating piece on their proposed Sino-Japanese cultural centres collapse. Read about it.


Is It A Poem, Or Is It A Joke?

I just found this:

"woman in bar
walks to the
bar tender and
puts her fingers
into his mouth.

after he kisses
and licks each
fingers she says

"tel your
manager there
is no toilet
paper in loo"

That's poetry, that.


The Gentle Game

It has just emerged that the grand total of cricketing finance in Britain paid for by the government will have reached, by 2009, the grand heights of approximately half Rio Ferdinand's annual wage.

I was all set to criticise this as stingy, miserly, and outrageous, when it occurred to me that it's no bad thing. Cricket often seems a much better game than Premiership football, particularly because the fans are involved. They're involved because they are needed - without them, the sport would go down the drain. Manchester United, on the other hand, could afford to have no spectators in the ground at all for a whole season, and barely feel a pinch in their pockets.


Pot Violently Attacks Kettle

Apparently, 'Islamists' have attacked George Galloway. if the Islamists don't like him, just who is going to vote Respect?





Apparently there's another Pope. He's called, with startling originality, Benedict. The Sixteenth. Why? His name's Joseph, for goodness sake. Why do the keep doing this?

According to this report;

"In the Vatican, he has been the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on such issues as women's ordination."

Good. If anything is likely to further damage the relevance of the Church, another few years of a Pope whose advice nobody will actually follow seems likely to be it.

Much, much more interesting, is the news that Kate Moss and Pete Doherty are getting married. This is also excellent news. It might stop me from hearing about them. After all, as we should all know, people's celebrity status is immediately slashed in half when they get married, and they cease to be Kate, or Pete, but Kate and Pete (because we all know who wears the trousers in that relationship). This event, coupled with what I'm told is certain to be a no-show at this years Reading & Leeds festivals by Mr Doherty, should relegate him out of the interest of my generation. About bloody time too.

(Both stories via Immoderation)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Please Forgive Me

for this serious post. I don't intend to deal with too many weighty issues here if I can avoid it, not least because, to be perfectly honest, I'm well aware of my own ignorance. However, one post particularly caught my eye as I pissed around on the 'net today. It's a post about anti-Japan demonstrations in China by Scott Wickstein.

It occurred to me when reading this, and I'm sure it's not a novel thought, that the encouragement the Chinese government gives these demonstrations is a clear indication of an ideological switch. It's obvious even to me that the leaders of China are not particularly bothered about following communist theory, and, in fact, haven't been for many years.

A while ago, I saw a TV program about China which claimed that Chinese people watch the profit margins of their major companies closer than we in the west watch the news, and that the business pages in the newspapers are by far the most well-thumbed. This should be a pretty clear indication that the Chinese people, as a whole, are no longer particularly interested in following the allegedly communist thought of their leaders. So they're replacing this with nationalism. By patriotic drum-beating, they've engaged the attention of the young (who are, in China as everywhere else, most likely to be most politically active), and persuaded them to be concerned by atrocities that affected their great-grandparents generation.

Nobody, least of all me, is trying to deny that many war crimes were committed in the name of Japan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, many war crimes were committed in the name of Germany too, but I'm not going to haul a brick through my local BMW dealers windows because of them.

I suppose the real reason why I'm writing about this is that I'm fascinated by both Chinese and Japanese culture, and it's very sad to see such unnecessary conflict whipped up among an impressionable segment of the population, by a bunch of tyrants like the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.


That Dang Camel

In the 'Pub Names' post comments, Mr Fist (whose blog is in the process of being added to the links list) suggests 'The Elusive Camel' as his favourite pub name. Damn straight - it's a great pub name.

Reminds me of a joke. It's alright, as these things go:

It's the war in the Sudan at the end of the nineteenth century. The war is going pretty well for Britain, and generally the morale is high. A new captain is appointed to a remote fortress in the Sahara, and he is determined to keep the morale of the troops up. He is given a tour of the fortress by his second-in-command, and it seems fairly well stocked with the amenities needed for the long war expected. The captain has just one problem.
"Ummm, I have an embarassing question" said the captain.
"Yes, sir?" was the reply.
The captain musters his courage.
"What do the men do when they want sex?" he finally blurted.
"Oh well, when that happens, there's always the camel" said the SIC, blushing.
The captain was disturbed by this piece of information, but given the high morale of the troops, he decided to let the situation go.

Many months passed.

Finally, the captain was desperate himself. The frustration of months of pent up sex was in him. He yelled to the SIC;
"Get me the camel!"
"Yes, sir!"
So out came the camel. The captain dropped his trousers, and proceeded to ride that camel like he'd never ridden a camel before. The exertion was clear in his eyes. As well as in the grunting. Finally, he climaxed, and the camel died, such was the force of the captains pleasure.
"Well, what do you think of that?" he asked the SIC, flushed with pride.
"Well, sir, we used to ride it to the brothel down the road."

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Tinkering Damn!

That lost post was meant to have a link. Unfortunately, owing to having absolutely no idea how to work these bleeding computer things, and more importantly, html, it failed. Here it is, done extremely unstylishly:


The Man Is Connected

Apparently, Charles Kennedy is the only one of the leaders of the three main parties to own an iPod. Lucky bugger. I can't afford one. Still, could it help with the student vote? And does anyone give a shit?


Pub Names

Following on from the last post, and the first comment (and lets face it, probably also the last comment) on it, the issue of pub names occured to me. When I was a wee nipper, I seem to recall a burning desire to run a pub named The Worm & The Bogbrush. I can't for the life of me recall why now.

There's a particularly snobby pub not too far from where I live called something like The Pig & Poke. It really wouldn't bother me if it were razed to the ground.

Friday, April 15, 2005


More Than Happy To Oblige . . .

MNK has thoughtfully brought up the issue of Wetherspoon's, and exactly why they're so morally repugnant. His/her suggestion is that they are the Ikea of the pub world, and that Tim Martin simply clings, limpet-like, to whatever is the latest public concern, as they most certainly did, and are doing, in the cases of alcopops and smoking.

MNK is right, to put it bluntly. They are indeed the Ikea of the pub world, representing exactly the lowest common denominator in all that is wrong in modern British chain pubs.

It's their smoking stance that annoys me most. As a smoker myself, at least when drinking, I find it more than a little annoying to have to make frequent trips to their 'patios' to indulge. Martin (the CEO, if you're wondering) attempts to clarify his position here:

"A straw poll of our head-office staff (please check this with your own friends and relations) revealed that a worrying number would not use pubs or restaurants at busy times, apart from our pubs, because they or their partners and families dislike the smell of smoke."

So they're basing a nationwide policy on a straw poll of handpicked Londoners, who, the astute reader will have noted, still fully intend to go to Wetherspoon's regardless? Cheers.

It's not just this though. I'm not terribly old - I've only been drinking for three or four years. Even at my tender age, however, I can remember that when I started drinking, most pubs were a complete lottery. Some were friendly, some hostile, some cosy, others draughty, some had great drinks on tap, others some ghastly hicksville ale and Carling, and nothing else, some served food well, others served crap, and some didn't serve food at all. All this, however, is vanishing thanks to the bland uniformity of Wetherspoon's. Most of the pubs serve food, and almost all have the same menu. They have standardised drinks on tap. You can't even get to know your landlord because they're shunted around every few months. Drinking has become, in a word, impersonal. And this is a tragedy, because, if there's only one thing that the British do well, it's drink. In thirty years time, I believe that in all major population centres, it'll be pretty much a choice of Wetherspoon's or nothing.

And half of them are called the bloody Moon Under Water, too.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?