Posts tagged: BBC

Comedy Genius

Stumbled onto this video while switching over from the football on ITV HD. I know I should be more dedicated and sit through all seven hours of the annual BBC telethon but some years are better than others. The first edition away from Television Centre was always going to be interesting and I am surprised they selected Eltree Studios. (However it worked out well, with Strictly Come Dancing being based in Blackpool this weekend) Although it was poor excuse for international football on the other side (even if it is watching England lose!)

Hats off to Harry Hill for coming up with such a brilliant concept and casting each part perfectly. I have to say I miss his Saturday early evening TV Burp show. Just a shame I got into it rather late. Oh well, only a month to go until his movie is released in cinemas.

Becoming Mike Teevee

Friday 27th September will go down in the history of UK television as a bumper day. Perhaps not since Christmas were so many shows starting, returning or saying goodbye on an epic night of television, focused mainly on Channel 4. Late September is always the time that new shows start Stateside and favourites, such as Glee and The Big Bang Theory return for another season.

Unsure why this date was chosen but it was UK premiere of new ABC show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I had anticipated this show for over a year. Since the post credit scene of The Avengers, it was only a matter of time before Joss Whedon returned to his first love – the small small screen. Televisions shows based on movies are rare, the usual route is for a television show to become so popular and successful for it to transition onto the big screen. The level of success for a movie is debatable. Just look at 2010 A-Team or 2011 Sex In The City 2. The Sarah Connor Chronicles was an intelligently written, well paced action series which was an off shoot of the Terminator franchise. At one point it was mooted that it would have a plot line to lead into the Terminator Salvation movie but in the end this did not happen. You can appreciate the difficulty for a director to consider the plot for the standalone movie and not having to consider canon from other medium. It was a shame the show only lasted two series because it deserved much more. The casting was perfect, particularly Lena Headley in the lead role and Summer Glau as a Terminator, Cameron. They were able to move away from ever becoming a Terminator of the week show to a character driven story, showing the lengths a mother will go to to protect her son. Plus there was the interesting sub plot of FBI agent Ellison on the trail of all these incidents and trying to put the pieces together.

The idea of a television show in the Marvel Universe was great and I liked the idea that Iron Man, Thor and friends would not be making a direct appearance. This allows for the development of the core characters of Agent Phil Coulson and his special team. Although I wish Cobie Smulders had an expanded role. The only character we know and love is Agent Coulson. The other new characters we need to warm to. Nevertheless it was good fun, enough nods to the other (unseen) characters and enough going on to make you look forward to next week. However as Michelle said at the end of the show, she hopes it does not become ‘mutant’ of the week like some other shows. There needs to be a cohesive story arch and if there is one man who can pull this off, it is is creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse. Do not take my word for it, check out the reviews over on ShowRatings.tv.

We have stopped watching The X Factor this year. In reality we kind of stopped watching for the past few years, preferring to watch Strictly Come Dancing as our prime time weekend show. The X Factor would always be an afterthought we would watch on delay and fast forward through the majority of the sob stories and focus on the performances. However the quality of the show has declined in recent years. Although I was a casual watcher of the BBC dance show, in married life I have become converted. There was even a time a few years ago when we would record (and religiously watch) sister show It Takes Two weeknight evenings on BBC Two. I have a great deal of respect for these so called celebrities to learn a new skill such as ballroom dancing before an audience of millions and then be judged by the public each Saturday evening.

I have been a big fan of this show, since it premiered way back in 2006. At the time I worked on a helpdesk and it was my manager Nic, whom brought the show to my attention. Insisting we watch the show on premiere night, even though we had been able to watch online via the Channel 4 website on the Monday before the Friday evening broadcast. Do remember, this was a year before the launch of BBC iPlayer, 4oD and other online catchup services. Luck would have it that I would also have the opportunity to see series two recorded at Pinewood Studios. Probably one of my favourite television show recordings to attend and see all the hard work that goes into putting together a thirty minute situation comedy. We had to wait several months before the episode (episode two in series two) was screen. I was able to secure tickets for a series three recording but was unable to get into the studio on the night due to major oversubscription. Standing Room Only, who provide tickets for this and many other game shows and comedies, always release more tickets than they can accommodate. This is to counteract the large proportion of people that are no shows. The show has generally been good over the course the years and I would even stick my neck out and say the last series, screened in 2010 last series was the best. However, perhaps due to the technical nature of the show, it has always had clever moments and flashes rather than constant laughs. I believe because the scenarios have to built up. Like many fans I was hoping for a proper send off with series four but had to make do with a one hour special. My expectations were high but at the end of the show, I felt a little underwhelmed. It was a good send off and as a diehard fan, there were enough in jokes which linked in with the rest of the series. Check out some of the reviews, some include spoilers.

tv addicted

The State Of British Comedy

When did British comedy hit such an all time low? I am unsure of the exact moment of this decline but it has continued for several months. I feel very disappointed in the quality of recent brand new comedies on television. Now, I do not have Sky, so perhaps I am missing out on the top quality material (such as the return of The Kumars at No. 42) but I refuse to shell out a big fat subscription fee every month. Particularly as my viewing habits are actually limited to a set number of shows and channels. Back when my parents had the service, we still watched a minimum amount of material and even that was when there was something available. In most cases, even with hundreds of channels available, sometimes there was nothing worth watching and we would switch back to free-to-air terrestrial.

Before I got any further an honorary mention must go out to Citizen Khan which broadcast last August on the Beeb. The trailer was cut well but the overall comedy value was low. Extremely low. It was like being taken back to the 1970s. The world has moved on a great deal since the time before I was born! They had to bring in housewife favourite, Kris Marshall from recent BT adverts and BBC sitcom My Family as a Muslim convert just to appeal to Middle England. Proof that a Muslim comedy could not apparently perform without some kind of outside ‘established actor’ help. I did not want to watch any minute beyond the first episode, however we decided to revisit and watch the entire series. Give it a chance, was what my wife, Michelle said was the best option. We had another reason, as we had seen one the stars, Maya Sondhi (who plays daughter Shazia) perform at The Tara Arts Centre with Ali back in December 2011. The BBC have renewed Citizen Khan for a second series, which I am willing to give another chance. However, this is the exception to the rule. I am just not sure if the original Citizen Khan shorts featured in another programme, Bellamy’s People was the ideal avenue for Adil Ray’s talent and a full blown series was too much too soon.

Plebs had been heavily trailed on ITV2, so I watched first episode. However, please note I watched the first episode, several weeks after it aired on television. My wife is a big fan of Celebrity Juice and we have recently started watching The Only Way Is Essex. As these are jewels in the crown of the channel, we were bound to get a great deal of exposure to Plebs. I was extremely disappointed in the comedy. Maybe I am a little outside of the target demographic but that does not mean I am banned from watching. The plot was limited, the jokes were poor and the overall taste was extremely low. This was comedy for the brain-dead generation. I could not stomach watching another minute, so gave up. If you are going to heavily advertise a new British homegrown comedy please please ITV ensure the quality of the writing is up there with the best comedies on television. Even with guest stars such as Danny Dyer, I believed this show was flawed from the start. Transferring modern day twenty-first century life into Ancient Rome, with the ultimate of socially awkward guys outside of the in-crowd trying to meet pretty girls. Sure not much in modern day Britain has changed and most boys of a certain age, are attempting the same thing in bars, pubs and clubs in towns and cities across the country.

I did not know that Ben Elton was working on a new comedy until I read an article in The Guardian one lunchtime at the office. I was looking forward to catching The Wright Way when it finally aired. However, due to my work life balance, I am usually in bed at 9:30pm. I would record the show on my Humax PVR and catch the following evening. I did not watch any further than episode two. While I really love David Haig as an actor, I am sure even he appreciates that we have moved on from 1996. He appears to perform this new role, as Health & Safety Council Office, Gerald Wright in a carbon copy format of Inspector Grimm from The Thin Blue Line. Ben, surely you have honed your technique over seventeen years. Try new ideas, formats and even actors. Do not get me wrong, I loved The Thin Blue Line, it was my favourite comedy when aired, but that was in the previous century and we have moved on a great deal since.

Back to ITV with their late night comedy, The Job Lot. The situation here is a job centre in the Midlands. This proved for me a little funnier than the other comedies I have mentioned. Mainly for the inclusion of a larger talented group cast and the fact that in this environment you can have many different characters appear to sign on the dole. In particular I was looking forward to seeing Zahra Ahmadi, whom you may recognise as Shabnam Masood from Eastenders. However her part was relatively minor and after episode four, I gave up once again. While it began well and did have some funny moments, the comedy fell back into the comfortable rhythm of type. Routine, we all enjoy but not from comedies, particularly those that are supposed to be fresh and brand new. I enjoyed seeing Sarah Hadland step out of the shadow of Miranda Hart and perform a comedic role in her own image. She was good but it was not enough to keep me hooked. Far too quickly the characters returned to type. Look out for one of the actors from Four Lions.

People constantly ask me why I watch some much US imported television. I rest my case. I just hope this is a minor blip and better talent is in the pipeline.

Being British

You never truly appreciate being British until you are away from these shores in lands (and galaxies) far far away. While in India in 1997, a special year for the young republic, I was able to observe at close quarters a relatively old country celebrating a major milestone of freedom, self rule and self determination. What did my extended family do celebrate such a momentous event? Nothing at all. This was a great disappointment to me as both a British tourist but an Indian by heritage but it did underline that while I was always envious of countries with their own Independence Day, I love the country that I call home. India is a greatly patriotic country, (just look at the appetite for cricket against arch rivals Pakistan) just a shame such sentiments did not transcend with my family. Where is Mr Bharat when you need him? In a twist of fate, Princess Diana tragically passed while I was still in the sub-continent and that single news event made a greater impact than the 50th anniversary.

I should be more patriotic than I am, I mean the feeling should run deeper than just the national football team. I always feel British rather than purely English although at times the lines are blurred making the distinction quite difficult. I do feel part of a kingdom, although doubt it will be in existence as a United Kingdom for much longer. Time will tell. I recall one of my first ever blog entries on this blog (which is months away from being a decade old) I mention briefly the Golden Jubilee, I had been watching on television.

Trying to reflect on my achievements over the last ten years is rather simple. I could list them much like a shopping list but the reality is I would much prefer to note how I have grown as an individual. I have changed so much that I am perhaps completely unrecognisable from the person that was typing up this blog in raw HTML all those years ago. Friends have come and go, as have many family members but as wife to be, would say to me many years later, “the only constant in life is change…” Sometimes it is indeed these powerful constants that should be celebrated!

Sea Containers House

I take some pride in being a monarchist. The republican movement does not really have a worthwhile argument or following in any significant number to, in their current form be considered a credible threat. What they fail to understand is that you miss anything once it is gone and do you just replace years of history and regalia with an elected official, replaced once their term (of four years) is completed? Surely the most important part of the Monarchy is their longevity.

The Diamond Jubilee Concert

The One & Only

Being a creature of routine, I have very much settled into my new morning ritual. From January, I decided to get into work as early as humanly possible (being able to leave work early does sweeten the deal somewhat). This meant a change from catching the 07:04 train from Slough to the earlier service at 06:35. While this may seem rather drastic, I actually only get into work a mere twenty to twenty five minutes earlier than last year. Although I now leave my flat a good thirty minutes earlier than before. Nevertheless, I am generally the first person not just in my team to arrive but on my floor. I now religiously listen to BBC Radio 2 in the mornings (less so in the afternoon I am not a fan of Simon Mayo for various reasons) but I now get to listen to the tail end of Vanessa Feltz’s early morning show and catch Chris Evans from the get go for almost an hour. My favourite feature by some margin is On This Day which arrives promptly at 07:15am. It does exactly what it says on the tin, various trivia which occurred throughout history on this very day ending on a musical note. Today the song featured was one of my favourite songs from the early 1990s. Could they have found a better Friday song? I think not! Oh and just a four day week coming up, so next Friday the majority of people will be on holiday as well! Please note this is not the first time I have mentioned this song on my blog. Just a shame the former pop star could not find the real Chris Evans twitter account to contact when thanking the former Radio 1 DJ for playing his signature song!

Junior Artists

People are often surprised when I tell them I am an avid watcher of Eastenders. They expect me to have a broader, more high brow approach to television. The events in the fictional Walford, are perhaps rather too much in the realm of common denominator TV. So what appeals to me so much about this soap? I am sure I have mentioned it before (Eastenders is a regular occurring theme on this blog and I am surprised I have not created a separate sub category!). It is not the gritty hard hitting story lines. It is actually the losers in loserville (Garry Hobbs was a stand out favourite, until his rather romantic exit, in August 2009). I suppose I just take some strange enjoyment from seeing life’s losers depicted on screen on a regular basis. Back in September 2005, I posted about the amazing Salsa Magic from Latin love machine – José! Well in recent weeks, they bought in another minor character (but in this case for a much shorter run than our dear dance teacher from Dagenham). My mind was jolted by this blog entry on the Guardian website. Now it was something else to risk introducing a character for just two episodes but to give her name Poppy Meadow, I am sure an eight year old could have thought up a more appropriate name. However, while she was on screen, there was some strange fascination (almost like watching a car crash in slow motion) to see how low the script writers could sink. Having said that, the sub plot was rather funny, as the dialogue just did not go anywhere, the chemistry between Meadow and her best friend, regular Jodie Gold, proved to be rather electric. There was a spark, perhaps not that strong, but there was enough of that on screen magic, that you wanted to know more. Well, I personally wanted to know more, particularly why she had trekked across from Shepherd’s Bush to visit her friend in Walford on the day of a funeral. If this was an event having in my home town (and I was so closely connected to the family) I would have spent the time elsewhere.

Poppy Meadow

Unfortunately all the clips have been taken off YouTube and it was too long ago for me to try and get some screen grabs from iPlayer. My digital TV card died years ago and was donated to a friend soon afterwards. Thanks to some other websites, we even have a profile over on Talk Walford. Although as a rule, I tend to avoid sites such as these for the fear of reading spoilers. I am a strong believer in the mantra – if you know what is going to happen, what is the point of watching? My only hope is that Poppy is brought back soon, there is the huge potential there, even if not as a potential love interest for Tamwar. (Personally I feel she could do better than Walford’s answer to Jamie Oliver!)

Timing Is Everything

Just back from a fantastic weekend in Birmingham. I know, for some readers that phrase alone, sounds like something completely crazy. Sure Birmingham does have a few negative aspects (a few which I will touch on in this post) but the City is much improved and this was my first visit since late August 2007. A great deal changes in three years. Before I get to the Birmingham segment of my Rock & Roll Weekend, let me start with my Friday working day and then my antics after the close of “play”. Friday is a critical day for me at work and I made a major effort to get into the office for 7:15am, to ensure I could kick off all the processes required for an extremely important report. I wanted to leave at 4pm (although the reality was, I could only leave once the report was ready and released!). Around 4:11pm, I finally was shutting down my laptop and could look forward to the weekend. The pressure had been intense but I had not let it phase me. Instead, I had just focused on the task (or rather multiple tasks) at hand, one at a time. I have to be honest though, it was the thought of the weekend that was keeping me sane! It was going to be great. A complete contrast to my feelings at 07:26am when I quickly updated my Facebook status before cracking on with work.

On the drive home, I blasted the stereo. I could relax, unwind and focus on all the things I had planned for the next few days. You know me though, this was not going to be just your average weekend. I had places to go, people to see and things to do. I got home around 5:30pm and quickly got changed, showered and my Mum gave me a lift to the train station. (There was no freak traffic event in Wycombe, like on Friday 11th June when I ended up jumping out of my Mum’s 308 and rushing into town on foot.) I bought my ticket and headed to the platform, I was perfectly on schedule, I had planned to catch the 18:25 (only two stops before the final destination of London Marylebone). I plugged myself into my Zen and zoned out, I was on my way! I text Niko to let him know I was still coming. It was supposed to be very different, I would normally have been working from home and headed into town on the bus around 5pm or 5:30pm at the very latest. Never mind, those were minor details. I was on my train, I had my music and I was on my way into London. I text Niko to let him know I was on the way and should make it to the pub in time for around 7:30pm. He response was just two words: “Good lad”. At Marylebone, I had to queue at the cashpoint before finally heading onto the tube. I had considered walking around to Baker Street, but then realised I had planned my Oyster Top-Up for the Marylebone Underground station, so that was not going to work. I made my way down the stairs (the escalator is being repaired or refurbished). I took the Bakerloo Line to Baker Street (one stop, I know extremely lazy) and then the caught the first Circle Line train to Liverpool Street. It was here I had originally planned to catch a District Line to Mile End and then the new(ish) London Overground to Haggerston and then walk over to Engelfied Road. This plan was broken, when then train driver explained the District Line was part suspended all the way to Barking. I had to take another option. Coming out of Liverpool Street, into a busy, but pleasantly sunny Friday evening in London. The pubs around the station were spilling out into the streets and after I got some bearings I decided what mode of transport to take now. I called Niko to get the bus number that would take me to the pub. He had sent it across as a message on Facebook to all those attending the affect but I had forgotten the number. It was 145 and I rushed around the bus station (which is adjacent to the train station itself but could not find any sign with that number or heading in the direction I wanted to go. I asked a few people but they were as helpful as a tin of sardines, so I made the executive decision to get a taxi. Although I made a circuit of one of the office blocks, searching for a taxi but they were all already taken. Eventually I find a guy with a free cab and showed him my Google Map print out and he told me it would be between £12 – £15 depending on traffic. The fare came to £8.80, as we had a clear run, unheard of on a Friday night but he still needed to consult my map to ensure he got to the right place. I thought all black cabs had to have an extensive knowledge of not just the main streets but these little hidden gems as well. I arrived and headed up stairs. It must have been coming up to 8pm as I said hello to Niko, gave him my card and started to be introduced to his friends. Then it was time for a well earned drink or two!

Rupa, Dani & Niko

Whenever I go out with Niko, he tends to show me parts of London that are off the beaten track. Although when I started speaking to his friends, they thought I deserved a medal, going from being in my office in Swindon around 4pm, and then being in North London (technically N1) before 8pm. Most of them were locals and the most tedious journey had been two stops on the East London Line.

I had been completely out the picture in terms of the World Cup Quarter Finals, not listening to the radio on my drive from work, or putting on the FM frequency on my Zen. I had asked my taxi driver, but he could only tell me that Holland had beaten Brazil which was a surprise. At The Talbot, the projector had been showing the Uruguay – Ghana match as I had walked it, the first half had been goalless up to that point. After some delicious food (it was a help yourself buffet, rather than the sit down and order individual meals as I had expected and it worked a treat). The projector was switched back on and they showed the penalties, although as I was outside on the terrace, I could not see the screen and let Niko’s friends relay the successful or failure of the penalty taker to me. It was a little while later I decided to call my old work colleague and football nut (he is now player manager of Henley YMCA) to get a full update on the football. He did not pick up his iPhone, but at 23:53 he text me to apologise and ask, “What’s up?”. I immediately called him. At this point in the evening, we had already been told to go downstairs, lack of space, meant we went outside but we then told due to residents, we would have to go inside and use the rear garden area.

It was here that I started to actually take some more photos and noted that Katherine (Niko’s gorgeous girlfriend) had changed into more comfortable flip flops from her rather impressive high heeled stilettos. Girls, will be girls, so they had to get me take a few photographs to explain that this was very much a case of practicality over fashion.

Lan examines that high heel!Lan, Katherine & One Designer Shoe

As we were about to be thrown out of the pub, Niko invited me back around to his flat a minute’s walk around the corner for the after party! It was at this moment I decided to call Chris back and get a full update on the football. Some analysis, not just the name of the goalscorers but details of talking points in the games. This conversation was perhaps the only thing that was going to keep me going until sometime on Saturday afternoon. (The next opportunity I would have to sit down and catch highlights either on TV or PC.). It was great to hear from him again and I was glad he was better after a spout of bad health (although his friends do say his is stuck together with sticky tape).
At the after party, Niko’s brother Toby and his girlfriend Rupa, gave them their present. A photo of Pete Doherty kissing some other band member. I am sorry, I have to confess my lack of musical knowledge in this area, but am sure someone will point out who the guitar player is. (Just leave a comment!)

Present UnwrappingPete Doherty

Niko’s parents, whom live in Chorleywood, up the road from High Wycombe, so offered me a ride home. Otherwise, my Friday night would have ended quite prematurely at 11pm (my last train home was at midnight ten, but I needed to get to Marylebone from deep North London, perhaps another taxi ride). I had a really great time and it was great to meet Niko’s family and friends. He has always been good fun, particularly when we worked together. There are plenty of stories I could upload to this blog but I will leave them for another time.

We left around 1:30am and drove through London (which as you can expect at that time on a Friday night at the height of summer, was extremely busy. I fell asleep, it had been a long tiring day and I knew that tomorrow was another adventure (I was already almost two hours into the day). Niko’s Mum woke me up, asking for directions as we got to Handy Cross and I directed them to the bus stop closest to my house, thanked them gratefully for the lift and then headed home. It was around 2:15am and my weekend had just began.

I woke up around 8:30am on Saturday morning, I was buzzing. It was a mixture of a great Friday night and the promise of a weekend in Birmingham, meeting old friends and perhaps even catching a few moments of the World Cup action. My friend had originally planned to pick me up around 10:30am, and I was all set for this,b ut they were delayed, so were going to pick me up around 11am instead. While I watched, I put the Chris Brown MJ Tribute from the BET Awards (which had been screened Stateside the previous weekend). It was an amazing tribute and surprisingly different. I have had the privilege to see Chris perform Thriller at the World Music Awards back in November 2006. You can see how much he has improved as a performer and entertainer. Sure, I agree that he has done some bad things, but seeing him be so emotional when attempting to sing Man In The Mirror, I can only hope he is trying to make that change.

I had two albums for our drive up to the Midlands, I had got out from the garage (while getting my Cystal XBox) Teg’s a-ha H&D (Headline & Deadlines) Collection. This was one of the first albums that Pav had burnt for me, a personalised greatest hits of the Norwegian trio and included all the case artwork. My other album was a mixture of new songs I had recently heard on the radio and had been playing pretty much non-stop in my car. The drive up the M40 was uneventful, we stopped at Warwick services to get some water and I bought the T3 magazine. It was at this time, we decided that I should take over the driving, although maybe I made the decision more myself. The weather was amazing and apart from the humming from the roof rack (which was costing us an increase of two percent in fuel) I was enjoying the journey.  We put on Drake – Find Your Love and Nicki Minaj – Your Love (which takes a sample of Annie Lennox’s No More I Love You’s). We got to Birmingham just before 1pm, and after dropping of my friend I headed to find Sippy’s yard! I had my sister’s TomTom with me and knew from earlier Google Map searches that I would only have to travel a few miles.

As I entered the area, I came to the realisation that this was very much an Asian heartland, with the takeaways, corner shops and ethnic stores. It reminded a little of Green Street. No, not that Green Street in East London (which I have never been to) but Green Street in High Wycombe, which is the defacto Asian area in my home town. There were cars parked either side of the road and it was very difficult to get down the roads, so being the courteous driver I am, I let other drivers pass by first before attempting to head down. In only one instance did I get a wave of a hand or the nod of the head (the international driver’s code for thank you). As I headed down St. Paul’s Road, I called Sippy. He walked out of his house and met me outside the park. There was a massive community event taking place and the whole area was heaving. I had parked the car up at the end of the the road and followed Sippy to his gate and then he stayed there to ensure I could get in when bringing the car back down the road. Once I parked outside Sippy’s house, I took a long sigh of relief. Then I realised, that perhaps in a few hours I would have to go through the whole thing again!

When was the last time I saw Sippy? Well we tried to remember but it was sometime in late May 2004. In those interviewing six years, Sippy had got married and had a baby girl. It was great to see him again and we shared a Pepsi, (for the record Sippy had a Diet Pepsi) and I handed over the Crystal XBox, to a very happy new owner. Then it was down to the business at hand, transferring some avi files. I got Sippy to transfer over the MTV Movie Awards so he too could see Les Grossman save the awards ceremony. After it was time for some serious work, so we had both the MacBook Pro and iMac burning some DVDs. It was a geek paradise, as you will be able to tell from the photos over on FlickR. It will only be a small percentage of readers and I’m afraid to say the majority of them will be male that will be interested in the contents of Sippy’s network cupboard.

It was great to catch up with my old Uni friend. It had been too long, but then we do tend to get very busy in our own lives and forget some of our friends that in reality are not actually that far away (eighty odd miles). It was just a shame his wife and daughter Zahra were not around, as I was really looking forward to meeting them. However, you can imagne how stupid people must consider this blog post. The hottest day of the year, but instead of being outside enjoying the sunshine, I am inside getting copies of movies. Our time was soon up, I had only been granted a window of a few hours as Sippy had important places to be. I was thankfully for any time, particularly after a gap of over six years. Before I went, I had to work out how to take a self timer photo. The first two attempts I didn’t press hard enough on the shutter release (yes I know I’m sure you have heard it all before!) but third time lucky, I got the shot!

Teg & Sippy

It was coming to quarter to 3pm, as I left Sippy and headed onto the busy streets of Birmingham. I was taken a slightly different route by TomTom, so ended up driving through ford. (Yes the irony, a battered old Ford Focus, driving through a ford). There was a young girl, perhaps about four on the bridge with her Dad and she waved as I drove through the river, so I slowed the car down and waved at her as I then made my way up the bank back onto the main road. I got my bearings instantly and parked up before knocking on the door of my friend’s house.

To my surprise, they were watching the football and as I walked into the lounge, Germany scored! However, it was when I sat down on the sofa, I realised that even though there was a Sky+HD set-top box on, the channel was BBC1 SD, so I got them to change the channel to BBC HD and began to watch my first World Cup match in high definition. (Okay, there was one HD screen at Yates for England Germany the previous weekend, but I had been watching the big projector, so that does not count!)

After some delicious food, prepared by our hostess, I was able to settle down to the football. The man of the house had arrived and the ladies made themselves scarce (into the garden). Match 59 of this World Cup was turning out to be a classic. Germany turning over Argentina as if they were not there. Could it be an all European affair for the final?

We left pretty much at the final whistle and drove into the City Centre, first to New Street to drop off some friends at the stage (whom just made their train by the skin of their teeth, obviously they had not read my recent train related blog post.) We then drove around to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express which was on a one way system, but eventually we navigated to the car park. After checking in, we decided to go into town for a bit before grabbing some food.

As we entered by Tesco Metro to grab some desert and drinks, Spain scored against Paraguay. Luckily there were big screens showing the game live (only SD mind). I saw the replay and realised it was David Villa, top scorer now and odds on for the Golden Boot you would say.

Today was rather a relaxing day actually, a relatively late ish start after breakfast, heading into the Bull Ring, getting some clothes shopping done. I was surprised at how busy the shopping centre was at 11am, just as it had opened. Primark too, had been very busy during the “browsing” time, from 10:30am, even though the tills would not be active for another half an hour. While in H&M trying on cheapish sunglasses, I heard a beautiful song. I took note of just one word from the song, which I believed was the title. Listening to the song when I got home, I realised that this song was special. You get these songs from time to time (or maybe I just look too deep into the songs I listen to and it is all in my head). It was a song I felt was written for me, for my particular circumstances. This is not the first time, I have noted this and written about it on my blog. (With the band Sister Hazel from an entry from early April 2003.) The song is by Charice featuring I.Y.A.Z. and the title is Pyramid. (Check it out on YouTube. Oh and yes, she will be appearing as a guest star in the next season of Glee. I better get a wiggle on and watch the season finale.)

A light lunch at Bella Italia before cruising back down to Wycombe. I got home around 4pm. Rather than collapse on the sofa as I should have done (I could not have in any case, as both my sisters Julie and Natalie were lying on the sofas). I headed straight out to hoover my car and then give it a quick jet wash before, re-fuel and then get back home to relax. It had been a wonderful weekend and I was actually looking forward to the reality of work tomorrow morning.

Four walls and love, packin’ more than enough
Holding on to one another, be the cover when it’s rough
Mother nature or disaster
Won’t stop our happy ever after

Training With Trev

I had a day off today, while my car was in for some repairs. Rather than waste away the day at home, I decided to make the most of my day off. I arranged with my friends Ryan and Trev to go down the gym around 11am, and then head into down to grab some lunch. In the morning, soon after my car was collected, I had a few phone calls to make, but two phone calls quickly turned into five.

With twenty minutes to go before 11am, I headed for the short walk to the Wycombe Sports Centre at Handy Cross. The walk reminded me of my first year college days, when I would take the same route to the bus stop, which would then take me on the forty odd minute journey to Henley via Marlow. (The Wycombe Bus Company service was 328 or Reading Bus Service was 329 at the time). I got to the gym before Trevor. He arrived a few minutes after me and wanted to grab some breakfast before the workout so we headed to the cafe. Ryan was already downstairs in the Expressions Health & Fitness centre and had been for a good twenty minutes by the time we got down there. I do not think I have ever seen him so focused, we left him do it. I was originally just going to do my full resistance programme, but I decided to take some direction from Trev and follow him around. I would be his apprentice for the new few hours.

Trevor is a well travelled and very intelligent individual, do not let looks deceive you. He got into fitness while out in Tazmania on his first travels down under. In the following years he got to the stage where he would seriously give Hugh Jackman a run for his money! We spend most of the morning on the freedom trainer, warming up and getting some of the upper body muscles working. Then we went around to some of the resistance machines before returning to the freedom trainer for a final workout. In between, we tried to keep up with Ryan, who was working his way around his workout. He had already warmed up on the freedom trainer earlier. It was a really good workout and I have forgotten all the benefits of having a gym buddy. Trevor was both advising and motivating, pushing me to complete that last few reps of the last set. He also made sure the technique was good and I did not slip up, particularly when the weight was pushed up a level or two. A funny incident occurred towards the end of the workout, Trev went onto the Tricep Extention machine (something I had not used before, so watched him first). While getting into position to lift, he starred for a while into the mirror, brushing is now receeding hairline. Catching him do this (I think he must have thought I had been distracted by something (or someone) else.) “Your beautiful as you Trev!” to bring him crashing back down to earth and back into the gym to continue the work out. If only I had had a camera (plus the written permission of the duty manager) to take a photograph, I would have at that moment!

I switched on my mobile phone, as I made my way up the stairs into the reception area. It was 1pm precisely, the gym session had lasted almost two hours. Now, we just had to wait for Ryan and then plan the afternoon. Ryan decided to get his Dad to pick him up and give him a lift into town, whereas Trev and I headed to my house, so I could change and then catch the Park & Ride into the town centre. We caught the 2pm bus and got into town, around fifteen or twenty minutes later to find Ryan waiting outside the entrance to AMF Bowling and Cineworld.

After lunch at Frankie & Benny’s. (I am rather disappointed to discover that the history of the restaurant is entirely fictional!). Trev’s friend Wayne from Marlow had also joined us, we headed into some shops in Eden. Firstly HMV, I realised I still had some money on my gift card from Christmas, which I had not spent. Nothing took my fancy and we headed further into town, stopping off at the new Iceland store. (Yes, Wycombe has been without a the flagship frozen food store since the Desborough Road branch was demolished in 2005!). It seemed rather small, considering it had taken up home in the old Woolworths store. Although Ryan was quick to remind me that it was less than half of the old store, as Poundworld, next door had taken the bigger lease which included the old cafe space. The final destination was Argos for me to pick up some table lamps before heading back home. It was a great feeling to get back home and finally full relax and enjoy the weekend.

I had been tempted by a trip into Reading to go and catch a movie, although not much appealed. Instead, I stayed in and watched Sports Relief on the BBC. It was great but is it just me, or does it not feel as sporty, when it does not take part in the summer. I am sure the first two sports themed telethons took place in July. The switch to March (ironically due to the sporting calendar) does make it seem rather dull weather wise. Although we are forecast sun for Sunday, apparently. The Smithy sketch had me in stitches. The other highlight was Ashes to Ashes spoof, which was very clever and quite topical (right at the death). I am not a fan of either Life On Mars or the 1980s spin off but they pulled off a very funny and entertaining ten minute skit.

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