Sunday, 25 November 2012

"O brave new world...That has such people in't!"

For the last week I have been carrying old newspapers around and have so many now I have almost filled a large carrier bag. I am not planning on re-experiencing the joys of paper mache making or stuffing a rather belated Guy Fawkes dummy. I have to confess I'm a rather obsessive reader and like to read everything (minus the sport and business sections) from the TV listings to the front page. For various reasons, each day I have failed to make it through my preferred sections and I'm now left with unfinished business in about four papers and three magazines. As tiny “News In Briefs" (NIBs), various stories have caught my eye over the last few weeks that may well have slipped the casual reader by:

The Perfect Partner?

An American Twihard is marrying a Robert Pattinson cut-out in Las Vegas early next year:

I'm wondering what happens if she decides to re-marry – does she need a divorce first? How can you file for a divorce if your ex- is unable to sign documentation?

Giving Them What They Want

In Holland two therapists at Amsterdam Hospital have proposed paedophiles should be shown computer-generated virtual porn to ease their urge to prey on children or watch films of real sex acts:

Arguing against the controversial proposal, Psychotherapist Jules Mulder, of the De Waag clinic has said: “For some people it will certainly increase the likelihood of going through with sexual abuse. It would also be very difficult to cover all tastes - some want photos of naked children, others want children having sex while someone else wants an eight-year-old boy with dark hair and a certain look in his eyes. It's not possible to satisfy these different desires with a bit of virtual child pornography.”

Tire Them Out

And in Sweden researchers have found drugs like Ritalin can reduce criminal behaviour by a third and potentially stop re-offenders:

The NIB this last story originally came from failed to explain the drug would be used to treat those diagnosed with ADHA and not all prisoners. Until further research had been carried out, the Nib seemed to be suggesting Ritalin could have a dulling affect much like Aldous Huxley's Soma in Brave New World.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Life Begins At Forty?

I turned really old last week and I'm starting to believe I am ageing for the first time ever. Asked what I wanted for my Birthday, I drew a blank – not because I have everything in life I could ever want but because the few things I do want are either too expensive to ask of anyone or too difficult to find. Without a desire for yet more material possessions and the ability to use pay cheques for such luxuries, Birthdays no longer feel exciting. I don't experience a sense of dread quite yet but more of inevitability.

Equally, annual dates on the calendar like Bonfire Night and Halloween no longer elicit such feelings of anticipation. Like the rapidly growing number of friends around me, I guess I need to somehow muster the desire to reproduce to rekindle that childhood enthusiasm.

I do at least have my forties to look forward to. A recent study by Travelodge has revealed a fifth of Britons in their mid forties admit to “Skinny Napping” (sleeping in the nude) because it makes them feel liberated. From the 2,000 people surveyed, the results showed Yorkshire to be the top “Skinny Napping” region and Leeds as the UK's “Skinny Napping” capital, apparently suggesting “life begins at 40” (

If my 30s continue to be fraught with indecision and personal instability, I can look to the forties as a time I might finally feel comfortable in my skin. As time seems to have sped-up with ever year that passes, I've unfortunately not long to wait. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Day Of The Dead Derriere

As I am getting aged now and chose to be away exploring foreign lands over half-term, I missed Leeds Film Festival's horror film all-nighter. To make up for it, I attended Day Of The Dead this weekend. In comparison there was no atmosphere and it was a damn sight easier to stay awake but the seats were just as uncomfortable, the timings off and films equally variable.

First up was Room 205 Of Fear from Germany that bored more than frightened. The next film was from Indonesia but bizarrely delivered in American English. Modus Anomali was certainly better than its predecessor but included an unnecessary twist explanation that dragged for a whole 15 minutes. The third feature of the night, Thale, from Norway was not very horrific but an original idea with superb lead performances. The finale of the night proved to be worth the wait. Kern Saxton's Sushi Girl had an incredible cast (including Mark Hamill) and was on a par with early Tarantino.

The shorts weren't as consistently good as previous Night Of The Deads but there were a few gems in there, including a series of animations from the exceedingly talented Lee Hardcastle. My favourite undoubtedly being his version of The Raid in 60 seconds:

Him Indoors surprisingly starred Reece Shearsmith (League Of Gentlemen) as an agoraphobic facing an impending eviction from his family home who gets an unexpected visit from his new neighbour, Pollyanna McIntosh (The Woman):

The equally oddball short, Saw Misgivings, was reminiscent of a darkly humorous Chris Morris Jam sketch - a suburban housewife prepares for dinner guests while being hampered by a hapless husband and medieval head trap that could kill her at any moment:

Unfortunately none of the above shorts seem to be available in full but if anyone else is impressed with Lee Hardcastle's work, more can be found at:

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The GREAT British Queuing Tradition

In Love Actually, as the Prime Minister, Hugh Grant says, “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that.” Unfortunately the same isn't true of departures.

Coming back from Riga late on Sunday night, we arrived just over two hours before our flight, despite already having pre-printed boarding passes. We're always a tad paranoid and overcautious when flying but on this occasion our feelings were justified. The queue for Ryanair was enormous to check-in bags and ate up a lot of this time. Security was surprisingly painless, despite virtually needing individual changing rooms to meet their demands. It was at the boarding gate the whole experience suddenly became rather stressful.

Descending the stairs, we entered a small room rammed full of people reminiscent of a gig venue and moshing crowd. There were groups of passengers waiting for two different Ryanair flights who'd merged into one rowdy mess. The scene was stressful to watch from a distance let alone become a part of. Completely lacking any form of queueing system, people stood shoulder-to-shoulder awaiting instructions that never came.

Eventually one uniformed woman pushed her way through the irritable crowd and started pen marking checked boarding passes – a futile job without queues to track who has been checked and who hasn't. As she passed from passenger to passenger, rumours spread where each flight queue actually began and passengers frantically turned in different directions in order to avoid being at the back while others blatantly stormed towards the doors completely disregarding obstacles in their path – two men actually battered a toddler around the head with their luggage.

While I hate queues in England, I appreciate the fairness of them so found myself getting progressively more incensed by people feigning ignorance and unashamedly pushing in. But hey none of this matters when we land because after the famous fanfare sound we're told we've just had the privilege of being on yet “another on time Ryanair flight”.