Archive for August, 2010

Coals To Newcastle, balls to Christmas

Posted in Music, New Stuff, Shopping on August 27, 2010 by Johnnie

The starvation diet, the back-of-sofa coin-searching and the redemption of those saved-up bus change tickets now begins in earnest; the best Scots band ever Orange Juice release a 7-disc box set in November.  Full details are here, but the release does, regrettably, mean that several of my family will be receiving only Christmas cards this year. Continue reading

Judging the book by its cover

Posted in Books, Pointless Nostalgia, Unwanted Comebacks on August 16, 2010 by Johnnie

My eldest is making her way through her first Secret Seven book.  So far, very little has happened; three chapters in and they still haven’t come across the “spooky old house in the snow” the jacket blurb promised.  We get the impression she’s not enjoying it much but upwards and onwards.  She might be a Barbie and Disney princess addict (which is more about the dressing up clothes anyway) but she’s not a fan of genteel stories involving copious buns and homemade jam, she’s more thrilled by dark, stormy, uncanny adventure stories.  She watches Doctor Who on repeat, chooses to watch Indiana Jones films and is now obsessed with BBC’s Sherlock – and has been asking about Sherlock Holmes books.  She’s a modern child, fluff, the quaint and the genteel just won’t cut it.  So, are Enid Blyton’s books now outdated to her generation? Continue reading

Afraid of the dark..?

Posted in Film, New Stuff on August 13, 2010 by Johnnie

I’m rather looking forward to the new Guillermo del Toro co-production, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, due out early next year.  Rather bizarrely, it’s a remake of the TV movie of the same name from 1973, something of a favourite of mine.  Del Toro has co-written the script too, and there’s a nice teaser trailer for the film, which stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce, showing the expected, lush production values, spooky old house setting, and jumps and shocks aplenty to be all present and correct.  Interestingly too, it’s being first-time-directed by comic book artist Troy Nixey, who also provides the stunning artwork for the film poster.  In all, it looks like a delightful project, considering the source material is one of those films you tend to see accidentally, yet stays with you all your life. Continue reading

The first sign of madness

Posted in Advice, Film, Grave News, Words on August 12, 2010 by Johnnie

I talked to myself a lot as child.  I would act out TV dramas on my own, playing all the parts, goodies and baddies (but obviously romantic entanglements were out because I couldn’t play women, and there was no such thing as ‘gay’ when I was growing up), always timed to last as long as the real programmes themselves, including ad breaks (where I’d go to the toilet or have a snack).  I was frequently overheard, because your childhood bedroom is never the soundproofed, reality-protected haven you hope it is.  For these crimes, I was always described as a “Cadbury’s” (as in, Fruit and Nut) and threatened with the “wee green bus”, the one that comes to take you “away”.  The threat was never rescinded, as I recall.

I still do talk to myself.  Sadly, the threat of the straitjacket never stopped me.  Not only do I talk to myself, I answer too; the first and second signs, they always said.  I still catch myself mid-self-conversation, no matter where I am.  Usually it’s around the house but it can just as easily be when I’m walking a busy street, alongside traffic, where drivers, passengers and commuters can see me and judge what they see perfectly adequately.  I get mildly embarrassed at the time but it goes away.  The wee green bus to Bedlam hasn’t pulled up quite yet. Continue reading

Weed ’em and reap

Posted in Food & Drink, New Stuff on August 9, 2010 by Johnnie

I wonder when the gardening bug will finally strike.  When am I going to start feeling like growing my own vegetables?  I’ve been waiting a while but so far, despite a fine family tradition and many presents of kitchen garden books, I’m no closer to taking it up.

Obviously I’m writing this to give myself some sort of kick.  The photos on this post are of my mother’s garden.  She’s a genius, you see.  She’s turned an old, hilly Devon farmhouse into an exquisite terrace garden right out of her native Tuscany, full of the most beautiful flora and the most mouthwatering vegetable patches you’ll ever see.  What’s more, you can eat your dinner out of them.  In the picture above, there are, amongst other things, beetroot (complete with their delicious tops), courgettes (complete with their delicious flowers), spinach, radicchio and two types of rocket.  There’s a complete meal in itself, as far as I’m concerned.  My mum also grows the most delicious potatoes I’ve ever tasted.  Boiled and dressed simply in olive oil and chives, they are heavenly.  So why haven’t I done anything like that myself? Continue reading

Caught by the fizz

Posted in Food & Drink, Unwanted Comebacks on August 6, 2010 by Johnnie

I’ve noticed that Sodastream is making a rather loud comeback.  DIY fizzy drinks were all the rage in the 1970s/’80s, and I honestly thought we’d seen the last of them.  But no, they’re getting busy with the fizzy all over again.  It brings back memories, a sugary flood of them, in fact.  I can taste those memories.  How we must have despised our teeth back in the day, to think that carbonated water and several glugs of bright, sweet syrup were a good idea for regular consumption.  I must ask my former schoolmate who religiously brought a Sodastream cola in his lunchbox to school every day.  I must also track down the other schoolmate who made fizzy milk in his.  Terrible idea; the milk exploded during the carbonating process and within an hour the machine smelled like a giant, sunbathing stilton.

But the same guy also taught me how to perform the most incredible fizzy-drink burps: you down an entire Sodastream as quickly as possible but make sure you keep all the gas in – this is very important; a short time later, usually when you’ve almost forgotten about the gas within, you will emit the most astounding, lengthy and earth-shuddering belch.  It works too.  Once you’ve mastered it, you can also begin to belch-speak.  You haven’t tried that?  You’re crumbling before me.  Start by saying your name.  Next time, your full name.  By the time you’re on your 18th Sodastream, you’ll be belch-speaking entire sentences.  I met someone who could actually belch “the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Envoy Terry Waite” – that’s talent.  I’m not making that up. Continue reading

Bobby Hebb 1938 – 2010

Posted in Dearly Departed, Music on August 6, 2010 by Johnnie

IHGN mourns the passing of brilliant singer and songwriter Bobby Hebb, who died on Tuesday this week from lung cancer aged 72.

Hebb will always be remembered as the writer of ‘Sunny’, one of the happiest songs of all time.  Amongst my favourite versions of this often-covered classic (aside from Hebb’s own) are those by Andy Williams, Frankie Valli and Dusty Springfield.  However, for me two others stand out from the rest.

Firstly, this 1976 disco classic from Boney M – one of the first songs I play (with irony/optimism) after the clocks go foward every year… Continue reading