Thursday 20th March 2008

The Beeb have been doing a fantastic series charting the build up to the Iraq war in ten minute episodes on BBC2 over the past week. They take the view point of variety of different ‘characters’ with time running out before the actual invasion begins. After being screened, they are debated over on Newsnight with Paxo on excellent form! If you have missed any, you can catch them on the godsend that is the iPlayer. Right, where is this all going? Well the fact that it was five years ago this week that Tony Blair appeared on our television screens to inform us Allied troops had cross in from Kuwait, made me wonder. What was I doing five years ago? Well thanks to the magic power of this blog, I can easily find out. I can go back to this week, in 2003. So let us take a trip down memory lane and see what I was up do (did I even mention the war?). I was in Milton Keynes on Tuesday, linking in to what I was doing five years ago (in a strange way) as I would commute to Bedford during my placement year. My journey back was cross country and tonight I redid that journey and relived all those memories. I was coming up to junction thirteen on the M1 but heard on the radio (thank you Traffic Announcement) that both the M25 and M1 were busy, so I opted to take my old drive home. It is quite a scenic route and I think I should pop over to Google Maps and actual detail the extent of my journey. As you can imagine, this will not something I can do very quickly. I have started, I just need to finish it off, please bear with me. On Wednesday I tried to get tickets for Arsenal versus Reading (a match I went to last season). However, even though I logged into the box office a good hour before tickets went on sale at 9.30am, I was unable to secure any tickets. Even late last night, speaking to Terry via MSN, I was unable to purchase tickets via the TicketExchange service for Everton, Liverpool or Reading. Even though there were seats up for grabs. I give up. I suppose going back to being an arm chair fan is not such a bad thing. I suppose I will have to wait for next season, but even then I think Red membership has become far too oversubscribed and only a handful of members are getting access to tickets. It really is a sorry state of affairs when I cannot get a ticket against Reading (effectively my local Premiership team). One of my colleagues had arranged to take a look around a local gym, sorry health club and asked if I wanted to come along. We had talked for the past few years about joining the gym and getting fit. (More so for him, as the alcohol and cigarettes are likely to send him to an early grave.) I need to get fit, particularly if I want to live to see seventy three when I can finally become a season ticket holder at Ashburton Grove. So after work we drove down the ten minutes to Castle Royle on the Bath Road. It is a place I drive past regularly when heading to Reading and have always been curious to take a look inside. We arrived a little early but were greeted by Becky and taken around to the cafe area. We were given some forms to fill in before our tour. We declined being shown inside the men’s changing rooms and headed down the corridor, looking through the window at the pool. Then up some stairs to the entrance to the gym. Before we entered we were shown charts detailing the peak periods for each work day. A busy period was about thirty members using the gym, when my colleague and I had estimated it almost twice that at peak periods. As Becky continued to explain various benefits of memberships, an old man walked past me and Becky opened the door for him. I did not see his face, just he back of his head. When the door was closed, my colleague smirked that it was ITV Sport’s one and only Jim Rosenthal. Although, as he was dropped from Champions League coverage earlier in the year, he will be spending plenty more time in the gym! Becky then went to explain the other celebrity members, Debbie McGee and Becca (local Windsor girl, Ali Bastian) from Hollyoaks. This truly was the hard sell from The Club Company rep, having to let us know the other members we were likely to bump into. After our tour we were taken back to the cafe seated and the negotiations began. I think my colleague worked Becky down to a good bargain, plus there are some relative good get out clauses in terms of any contract. As we left, my colleague could only do one thing. Light up some roll up tobacco! Classic! Talk about start as you mean to go on. We discussed the deal and I said I would get back to him tomorrow, after I had looked over the literature we had been given. Pav was busy last weekend, very busy. Want to know what he got up to? With plenty of graphic detail and photograph evidence? Go ahead, knock yourself out! Yes, there is just over a week to go until I drop my car over for my detail. Preparations have been made and a full list has been made. The beauty this time is Pav has a year’s experience under his belt but also better tools, particularly a new rotary polisher (I do not know the full details, but I am sure he will remind me). So expect another write up on Monday 31st March, including a full paint reading chart or print out! What is your favourite super hero movie? I am sure I have asked the question before and given my own definitive answer. For me, there is no question, it is Superman II. However, until very recently I was unaware of all the controversy that surrounded the production of this first sequel. It was only a few years ago, perhaps one Christmas when I watched the DVD that I noticed a goof towards the end. In the Fortress of Solitude, it was clear it was not the actor Gene Hackman on the screen but a body double plus terrible voiceover. It when I was reading up online about the release of The Ultimate Superman Collection which would included, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. I did not get the collection for Christmas or my birthday and have never got around to buying it myself. Last year sometime, Pav mentioned he had downloaded a DivX rip and that it was a completely different movie to the theatrical release. He promised to past it on to me, but for some reason we never got around to it. It was on his FTP at one point but I think I was too busy leeching down Heroes or Bionic Woman to get around to it. So this week, I bit the bullet and decided to download a torrent myself. It took me most of this week, with the final 12% taking over eight hours with an average download rate of 0.4kbit/s (I kid you not!) However, I did eventually get the file and decided to watch the movie tonight, straight after Eastenders. (Although originally I had been hoping to save myself until tomorrow evening but the excitement was too much). The Donner movie is far superior to the Lester version, even though it is a patch work piece using screen tests and archive footage. Sure, to complete the movie there is still twenty percent Lester footage in this cut but it is more true to the original director’s vision. I do not want to give away too much, you will just have to get the DVD, watch for yourself and make up your own mind. If you are a true movie buff (like me) you might even go and read an essay of comparison. However, I cannot finish without mentioning my favourite moment. (A Donner scene which survived the cutting room floor to make it into the final theatrical cut). Clark, now with his powers restored as Superman, goes to the diner and confronts Rocky, who is more than willing to pick a fight with him. Much to everyone’s surprise, this strange, young man handles the bullying customer like a little child, eventually felling him across the counter and sending him crashing into the pinball machine, knocking him unconscious. Clark then offers to pay the owners of the diner for the damage. With those around wondering how the stranger was able to beat the bully, Clark simply replies: “Oh, I’ve been… working out.”

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