Saturday, April 30, 2011
Follow her on Twitter - she's @scallyg. And visit her Wee Paper People site here where you'll find printable patterns to make your own QI panellists, Mighty Boosh and Doctor Who characters and many more. Flock there in your droves!
Another of my 'Odd Gods' series.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Do follow their happy day on Twitter with the hashtag #royaltwedding. Laura is @laurastabb and Matt is @matt220781.
Have a great day my lovelies!
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Another 'Odd God'.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Another of my 'Odd Gods'.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
If Australian Aborigine parents wanted to ensure that their children did not wander too far from the camp, they would tell the story of the Yara-ma-yha-who, a small but very nasty demon who lives in the crowns of fig trees. The Yara-ma-yha-who feeds firstly upon blood, which it slurps up through octopus-like suckers on its hands and feet, and then eats its victim. Later, after a drink of water and a nap, it is violently sick and the eaten person is restored, albeit a bit shorter and a bit redder. Should the victim be unfortunate enough to suffer several of these attacks, they will eventually become a Yara-ma-yha-who themselves. Looking like a small hairy red man with an enormous head and a wide toothless mouth, the Yara-ma-yha-who cannot run very fast, having a slow, rolling gait like a parrot or Johnny Vegas.
I loved that typewriter but it was living on borrowed time. By 1988, I owned my first 286 PC and from that point on, the old machine was doomed.
In some ways I miss my old typewriter. Okay, so it only did one font and the only colour inks were black or red ink (if the ribbon was fresh enough). To underline or to bold you had to pull the carriage back and type the line again. There was no cut and paste, only Tippex, and there was no spell checking. To copy your document you reverted to carbon paper. And if your manuscript was damaged or destroyed, you had to start from scratch. There was no back up or save option with paper. But there was still real joy in using my typewriter.
Writer Nicholas Jackson captures the feeling perfectly with this paragraph: 'There's something about the large, clunky, mediaeval device that appeals to the aspiring writers among us; they make you feel more connected to your work. When a story is done and has been pulled off the roller, you can still feel it in your fingers.' I do miss that. There is something magical about seeing the direct link between your thoughts and the words. Press a key on a computer keyboard and somehow a character appears on the screen. I have no idea how. But press a typewriter key and you can see the beast's inner workings; the springs and levers, the cogs and switches, the spools edging the ribbon along one character at a time, the satisfying thunk of the hammer hitting the paper. And that's another thing we miss out on with our modern machines - all those wonderful sounds; the kerchunk of the shift key lifting the type basket, the ping and ratch of the carriage return, the thak thak thak of the keys. You can actually buy software programmes - examples include Home Typist and Typewriter Keyboard - that make your computer imitate those sounds and I have at least one writer friend who swears that it makes him more creative. I've tried it and I'll admit that it's oddly comforting.
Typewriters had a kind of personality; my old thing had a badly cast lower case 'a' so there was always a crescent-shaped mark inside the loop. You could tell my manuscripts from any other manuscript in the world by my typewriter's fingerprint. You don't get that from software. It lacks soul and punch, in the same way that jabbing the red button on a mobile just isn't the same as slamming the reciever down on an older phone after an argument. There's tactile pleasure in clunky mechanical stuff. I think it's why we still fawn over steam engines and analogue watches. I reckon that the whole Steampunk genre stems from wishful thinking about what might have been. I mean, which would you rather? That bland uninspired laptop you have or something like this?
I realise that many of you reading this may never have actually used a typewriter and have always known the ease and utility of word processing. Therefore, it may not mean too much to you when I tell you that today Godrej and Boyce, the last company left in the world still manufacturing typewriters, has closed its doors. There will be no more new machines made. The typewriter is no more. I'm a little bit sad about that.
And even though I have absolutely no more use for one than I do a flint hand axe, I honestly feel like I've lost an old a trusted friend.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Not an 'Odd god' as such but a curious mythical beastie called the Fachan from the western highlands of Scotland. He is portrayed with one leg, one arm and one eye and is supposedly so frightening that the mere sight of it induces heart attacks. It can destroy an orchard with a chain in its strong, singular, withered arm, in a single night.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
This is Tefnut, today's 'Odd God'.
Also known as Tefenet or Tefnet, she was the ancient Egyptian goddess of the rain and the dew and she usually took the form of a lioness. Her name means ‘moist waters’ – although it’s hard to imagine any other kind. There are conflicting stories regarding her origin: one states that she was created by the Sun god Atum from his mucus (a possible alternate translation of her name is ‘spat water’). Another states that she was created when Atum coughed to clear his throat. The most bizarre is that Atum was masturbating one day and his semen became Tefnut.
So, say hello to the goddess of bodily fluids.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Isn't it great? Makes me wonder what potential there might be for further animating some of my characters? Interesting ...
Follow Bryan on Twitter - @bpanks
In Chinese mythology P’an Ku is said to have chiselled the universe out of Chaos. He was the child of the dual powers of Nature, Yin and Yang, and his name is a combination of the words for ‘eggshell’ and ‘solidity’. He was a dwarfish chap, usually dressed in bearskin – though where the bear came from is never adequately explained – and had two small horns on his head. Armed only with a hammer and chisel, he set about the creation of the heavens and the Earth; a task that took him eighteen thousand years. Every day he grew six feet in height and on the day he finally hung up his tools, he died. By my reckoning, that means he grew some 26,000 miles in height during his working life.
Another of my 'Odd Gods' series.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
She follows far too quickly upon the heels of Nick Courtney, another Doctor Who stalwart who died a month or so ago. Both were a big part of my teens. Both will be very sadly missed by this old Whovian.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
When I arrived I found three of those big silver tubular wheelie bins each around five feet high. We could clearly hear whimpering from within. Claire wasn't keen to climb in as (a) she was a bit scared of dogs and (b) it was a skip full of rubbish, so I had a go ... and tipped the skip over with a very loud clang that probably woke everyone up within a mile radius. However, the deed was done so I started wading through the garbage and eventualy tracked the noise to a soggy looking Walker's crisp box. Inside were two tiny brown puppies, one recenty dead, one alive but thin and weak. Both of their tails had been docked in a very amateur way; you could see the bone on the dead one's tail. The live dog had a sticky out rib which, I assumed, meant it might be broken. I took him out of the box, found a dry Walker's crisp box (they obviously liked their crisps locally)and an old shirt and put the puppy inside and drove back to the police station.
The puppy was small and looked something like a miniature dobermann except he was chestnut brown. He was very hungry and ate an entire can of dogfood in what seemed like 30 seconds. Despite his obvious maltreatment he was a happy little chap. I hated having to put him out in the kennels in the freezing cold station yard. But, as it happened, I didn't have to. I tried it but he was so small that he limbo-ed straight out under the door. The officers in the control room didn't mind. They loved having him in there with them. Battersea Dog's Home didn't collect on a Sunday and it was only just Sunday so I made the decision to take him home after my shift. It's not something that cops normally do but these were unusual circumstances. I deliberately didn't give him any kind of a name and insisted the kids didn't either as I expected we'd lose him after 24 hrs.Later that day and before my shift started I drove to Hanwell and asked some questions of the locals. Most of them were quite rightly horrified that anyone would have thrown the puppies away so callously. I was pointed in the direction of a nearby group of travelers who had dogs that shared some of the puppy's characteristics. In particular there was a part Dachshund, part Manchester Terrier that was a lot like him. I was pretty convinced that this was where the puppies had come from. I could never prove it of course. The travelers moved on just a couple of days later. Meanwhile, and despite my words of warning, the kids had named the puppy Buster. I had him checked by the vet and he was okay but dehydrated and underweight. He did have a broken rib but it had mended. He was riddled with worms and his tail, though damaged, had healed. I'd kind of fallen for the plucky little chap too and the name was perfect. Consequently, I went through the process of officially applying to keep him. And he's been with us ever since. Buster was always fun. He was gentle and playful and never spiteful or snappy. He liked to play and he was fearless. He liked a challenge. We once inflated 50 balloons for a party. Buster got into the room and made the effort to destroy every single one. He had an obsession with tennis balls and we were told by an animal psychologist that the best way to deal with it was to give him a lot, all at once, to make them less special. So we put him in a room with about 20 tennis balls. He was in Heaven and happily ripped every single one to pieces before looking at us hopefully in case we had more. This penchant for destroying toys (he never damaged furniture or shoes or anything he shouldn't have) nearly killed him when he was seven. He pulled a supposedly indestructible figure-of-eight shaped rubber dog toy to pieces and swallowed a large chunk in one piece. It lodged in his intestine and he needed an operation to remove it. As the years rolled by he got slower and greyer. His knees started to go and he went deaf. But still he demanded his walk every day and he loved to swim. Most recently he started to lose his eyesight and his sense of smell. Then in January he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, unusual in a castrated dog. By the time it was discovered it was inoperable and we knew he was on borrowed time. I just hoped he'd get a few more days in the sun - no dog ever liked to sunbathe as much as he did. Sometimes he'd get almost too hot to stroke. I'm pleased we had that run of good weather this past week. Buster got his mini-Summer. He went downhill very quickly these last few days and finally became so down and miserable that he looked like he'd had enough. His insides were so squeezed by the size of the tumour that he couldn't go to the toilet without discomfort. I took him to the vet today to see if there was anything they could do. There wasn't. A smashing little dog. He'll be very very missed.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Saturday, April 09, 2011
Friday, April 08, 2011
There's a bar at the back of the cinema where you can order great food and drinks and there's waiter service so you don't even need to get off your fat arse. Those with a fatter than average arse like me might want to take advantage of the seats at the back. Basically, they're huge leather double beds for you to sprawl on as you eat, drink and be entertained. If that's too hedonistic, the normal huge, plush leather seats are as comfy as anything and come with footstools ... what a joy. This ain't no Odeon.
Here's a view up Portobello Road ...
... and some graffiti that amused me. A Banksy do you think?
I then met with Alex Andreou, actor and superb political columnist (see his blog here) for tea and cakes at Maison Bertaux in Soho. It's London's oldest patisserie and boasts some great contemporary art including work by The Mighty Boosh's Noel Fielding.
I spotted this drawn on the wall of the gents. I suspect Mr Fielding had a hand in it. The art obviously, not the loo.
Beers came next at the Pillars of Hercules with the QI crowd, fresh from a production meeting with Talkback Thames for the new series which starts filming soon. Final trip of the day was to BAFTA on Piccadilly for a screening of new British horror film Stormhouse, written by my mate Jason Arnopp. It's rare a horror film makes me jump. This one did. It was great! It also showed just how important a good script and tight direction (by Dan Turner) can be. Stormhouse was made at a fraction of the cost of Hollywood fare like Final Destination and Paranormal Activity but was just as visceral, just as scary and just as professional looking. Well done lads!
That was just Monday. Tuesday saw me going into London again for the final recording of the fourth series of the BBC Radio 4 Museum of Curiosity show. It's hosted as ever by QI creator John Lloyd and, this year, Dave Gorman acting as curator. Beforehand, I popped along to Tate Modern for a look at Ai Wei Wei's Sunflower Seeds installation.
I can't say it made me go 'Wow' in the way that Louise Bourgeois' 'Mother' or Anish Kapoor's 'Marsyas' did but it is pretty humbling looking at those millions of porcelain seeds and realising that each one was made by hand.
On the walk back over the footbridge to St Pauls, I couldn't help but be impressed by how quickly The Shard is going up. It's going to be a Hell of thing once it's completed; a true 'vertical city' as it's described in the press blurb with offices, shops, a hotel and penthouse living.
No less impressive but a million times more charming is the Henry Heath's Hat Factory building just off Oxford Street. Now a suite of post-production offices and studios, the original building's facade has been wonderfully preserved. No less wonderfully preserved is Mr John Lloyd himself, seen here in a post-recording moment of relaxation in the pub. The new series has been wonderful - possibly the best yet - with guests Graham Linehan, Lucie Green, Harry Enfield, Alain de Botton, Robin Ince, Helen Scales, Jimmy Carr, Rory Sutherland, Alex Bellos, Lord Alan West, Alex Horne, Francesca Stavrakopoulou, David McCandless, David Crystal, Sara Wheeler, Roger Highfield, Gareth Edwards and Natalie Haynes.
The remainder of the week has been spent at home working furiously on the new book and enjoying the glorious warm sunshine. Also enjoying it is my little dog Buster who has developed the habit of turning up in odd locations and pretending to be dead. He may be terminally ill but he seems determined to fool me at every opportunity while enjoying every last drop on sunshine he can soak up.
Next week it's the London Book Fair. Let's hope it's more successful than last year. Thankfully, volcanoes seem to be the one natural disaster that are behaving themselves.