Built to die: Why don’t things last very long?

I didn’t shave for about a week… Not because it’s never the best idea in the world to shave every day (though a lot of men do for varying different reasons) but because there are just times when we have to let ourselves go a bit and I hadn’t really let it out for a couple of months. And besides which, I actually look better with a bit of a beard (I won’t go into the reason it isn’t a permanent fixture if you don’t mind.) So when it came to return my face to the look of a hairless youth (I know, it sucks!) I dusted off my razor (an electric one) and started shaving… Then half way through I found the little foil that covers the blades and stops them from ripping my skin to shreds had developed several large holes. My razor, because of this, is dead. It still works- If I press the button the blades still go round… But I can’t use it anymore because a major part of it is broken and if I do use it then I’ll rip my own face off. The worst part is it wasn’t that old… Well not really. Two and a half years I’ve had it. And this is a widespread problem, one that is not just limited to my electric razor. It appears that most manufactured goods will break after only a few years use.

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Scousers in Literature

Try and think up as many fictional scousers as you can. At first it seems like an easy task but when you really get down to it the challenge can become quite hard. It’s one of the challenges where once you know the answers you kick yourself. I was initially struggling (all I could come up with was Lister from Red Dwarf) and after asking around I got a few more answers that were, in hindsight, seemingly obvious (apart from one which surprised me): Everyone in Brookside, The Boys From the Black Stuff, Harry Enfield’s trio, Lilly Savage and John Constantine (which was the surprising one). I’ve found a few more like Jack Frost from The Invisibles comics, the Blood Brothers, Shirley Valentine, one guy from the Alex Rider series and a few characters from Coronation Street. Now look at what most of those characters have in common. Most of them are from television, a couple from the stage, two are from comic books and only one is literary… So what is going on? Where are all the literary scousers?

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On the Trail of Dr Johnson: Chester, Sir Y Fflint & Sir Ddynbych (Flintshire & Denbighshire)

When last we left our intrepid band of 17th century travellers (Dr Samuel Johnson and his friends/ co-habitors, the Thrales) they had finished mulling around Shropshire and headed for a place called ‘Westchester.’ Previously they have visited a lot of stately homes (some of which no longer exist) and Dr Johnson has done a lot of grousing. But finally they are about to reach their destination: North Wales… Or more specifically the county of Sir Ddynbych.

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Nine Episodes of Doctor Who Found!

A few months ago there was an absurd rumour that 90 episodes of Dr. Who had been found… And it definitely seemed too good to be true. Ninety episodes out of the missing one hundred and six? Impossible… Well, as it turned out the haul of ‘ninety’ wasn’t exactly. Which was a real shame. I’d have loved to see some of those missing episodes. The Abominable Snowmen, The Evil of The Daleks… But the good news is that they have found some episodes. It just turns out to be nine, not ninety.

And we can’t really complain because they are nine of the best episodes ever made: THE ENEMY OF THE WORLD (which is all about an evil Dr duplicate dictator) and THE WEB OF FEAR ( which is about Yeti on the London Underground.) As it turned out they’ve been sitting on a dusty shelf in Nigeria for the last forty five years until someone (A man called Philip Morris) came along and rediscovered them. And although it isn’t the ninety we should still be pleased. I already have the old soundtrack release for Enemy and it sounds like a truly fantastic story, and by the accounts from the people who’ve already seen it, it is. The one I’m most looking forward to however is The Web of Fear… I recently read the book of it’s prequel (The Abominable Snowmen) and I found it absolutely terrific and I can only hope that Web ups the ante on that story.

As Christmas is coming up and I’m a bit busy with work at the moment I think I’m going to wait a bit before I buy them… Maybe I’ll buy them as a treat for myself for when I’ve released my current crop of books. My hand keeps itching over the iTunes store but I know that at the moment they’ll just be a distraction if i do buy them. So If I want to keep on top of things I have to wait… I have no other choice. Which is a shame but nothing i can cope. Though by the time we get to New Year and the last of my three books is released I may just jump on them like a rabid yeti. That’s if I don’t cave before then.

But all in all, the news that these nine have been found is fantastic and it gives us fanboys some hope that the remaining 97 will be found. And although it’s only nine less than 106 it somehow seems a whole lot easier to find a measly 97 episodes. My only hope now is that someone comes across the Abominable Snowmen… Even just one more episode of it would make me happy. But I suppose any more missing episodes, whatever they are, would still be good.

(Poster image courtesey of Radio Times)

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory: What happened to the other children?

One of my favourite authors as a kid was Roald Dahl. I couldn’t get enough of him and I have, at one point or another read most of his major works. The ones I haven’t read are mainly the short stories (Though I’ve read some of them) The Vicar of Nibbleswick, The Gremlins, his two adult novels (Because I’ve never come across them) The Giraffe the Pelly and Me (Can’t think why) his non-fiction work and The Witches, (Because I was a wimp and refused to read it…). But out of the ones I did read, one of my favourites, was Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, that brilliant story about a boy who finds a golden ticket in a bar of chocolate and gets whisked on a tour through a magical chocolate factory by a mad man who almost bumps off four other children along the way (though they miraculously survive). Now we already know that Charlie goes on to live a happy life in complete control of the chocolate factory. He goes into space, fights of Vermicious Knids, rescues his grandmother from minus land and generally has a good time before taking early retirement and selling Wonka Chocolate to KRAFT foods (Several years behind on that joke James!) But what about the other children? Whatever happened to them?

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Why we need HS2

Every time I look at a news website or gaze at newspaper or switch on the television, it seems, there is always somebody grousing about the new ‘High Speed 2’ rail link between London and Manchester/Leeds/Birmingham and how it’s going to be an almighty disaster, citing things such as how it will cause environmental chaos, destroy whole villages and will effectively be a huge ‘white elephant.’ But the truth is, regardless of what damage it may do, I think we actually do need it, or at the very least something similar.

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