Murdoch vs Branson. Call me!!

I have had a Sky induced strop this week.

Being a sensible, mature adult, even mid strop I knew that it was an over reaction, and not really that important, but it did not reduce the venom by which I did what everyone does now when they are angry….updated my Facebook status about it.

Friday saw some snow.  In fact it saw a lot of snow in these parts.  Thankfully, due to some work appointmentage in the bustling metropolis of Manchester earlier in the day, I was at home when it started rather than trying to battle my way home through it from the office.

Said appointmentage by the way was in a section of Manchester called the Northern Quarter.  This is the mecca for all things artsy and cool in Manchester, and indeed if you try to get in without a pair of converse and a pair of thick rimmed glasses there is a toll to pay.

I met with a design agency (get her!), and the office was pretty much the stereotypical version of what you might imagine it to be.  It was an old mill style building, with one of those old style pull the door shut industrial type lifts.  As I emerged into the office itself, I was immediately surrounded by retro cool jumpers and sarcastic T-shirts.

In no way stereotypical

If you weren’t an Apple Mac computer or stripped wooden floorboard you were no use to them.

Anyway, the meeting was productive, the people were actually lovely, talented and very useful so all was well.  I took my uncool M&S bedecked torso back into the real world, where I didn’t need to try so hard to be cool.

So there I was back at home mid afternoon, cracking on with some work, watching the first flakes of snow hit the ground.  It soon turned into a fair deluge, and traffic thinned as the roads got worse and worse.

Anywho, such a sad sham is my life that one of the highlights of my week is the repeat of the series on TCM of Band of Brothers.  I mentioned it last week, but that shall not stop me repeating my high regard for this programme.  It starts at 9pm.

At 8.43pm I was told without any softening of the blow that no satellite signal was being received.  I took this as a personal attack, and uttered a phrase I often quote when bad luck befalls me.  “You couldn’t write this!”.

Our Sky dish is in a very lofty position, nowhere near any window, so I resorted to throwing snowballs at it in an attempt to dislodge the seven flakes of snow that were stopping me from watching my favourite programme.  Of course, nothing worked, and with no signal I couldn’t even record them for later.

Naturally, Band of Brothers appears to be the only series currently on TV that isn’t repeated at least four times throughout the week.  I even searched You Tube for the two episodes I was currently missing, but no joy.

My bottom lip knew no bounds as it protruded proudly to display my dissatisfaction with the world.

I constructed and dispatched a very strongly worded email to Mr Murdoch (or one of his underlings) outlining my outrage, and telling him that I wanted to cancel my contract forthwith, immediately and without delay.  No bugger has replied.

So I have spent the weekend on the Virgin web site, pricing things up.  It is pretty much like for like, but each have their pros and cons.  Virgin have faster broadband, cheaper phone (for us) and very similar TV.  Alas, one channel has stopped me from pressing the button on this change.

Virgin do not have Sky Atlantic.  We do not watch it a lot, but I know that sometime soon the new series of Game of Thrones is going to appear and if I can’t watch that there will be a similar meltdown.  Nothing comes between me and my dwarf sex and unlimited sword related bloodshed.

So that right there is a dilemma.  I am leaning towards Virgin on principle really.  It all depends now on who contacts me first, Murdoch or Branson.  Let battle commence!

Oh and to add insult to injury, Tesco phoned us on Saturday to cancel our delivery due to the snow.  Seriously, taking away food and Sky in the space of 24 hours is a risky business.  This has Falling Down written all over it.

Falling Down
Where is my delivery Mr Tesco?

To save the day my brother and sister in law invited us for tea on Saturday night to prevent us having to eat toothpaste sandwiches.  We had a delicious meal, and watched Dredd….in 3D on their clever new telly.

Emily in 3D
Emily in 3D

So Mr Murdoch I’ll have one of those fandangled 3D TVs as compensation for missing my programme, plus of course the box set of Band of Brothers!

Till the next time…..

Monkeys, gurning and a selection of anoraks

To avoid another bit of bloggage about the banality of January, let’s wander back through the years.  My Mum popped round earlier with some old photos.  Louise had been asking if she had any really old black and white ones that we could frame and hang, she didn’t just appear out of the blue with random photos.

From a vast collection of photo albums (remember those) we looked through just three.  They were a mixture of really old photos of my Mum’s parents, and brothers and sisters through to some that were even in colour!

Before I shock and amaze you with my incredible levels of cuteness when I was younger, take a look at these of my Mum and Dad, or Tony Curtis and Doris Day…not sure which.

Mum and Dad
A scene from Goodfellas

I think at the time of this next one my Dad was in National Service.  It is amazing and scary to think that just a generation ago every male had to serve two years in the army! My soft under belly quivers at the prospect.  I am under no illusion that my Dad spent those two years in peace time on a switchboard rather than on a front line somewhere, but still, two years in uniform is a prospect I cannot compute.

On a similar note, I have been watching Band of Brothers (again) of a Friday evening on TCM.  It is probably one of the best, most compelling and watchable pieces of drama ever made, and this week was the one where they spent weeks dug into frozen holes with no supplies, ammo or warm clothes at the Battle of the Bulge.  I simply cannot comprehend that experience either.  But I digress….

Suave Dad
Suave Dad

Moving on a good few years, this next one caught my eye for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I look horrified, and second this was from a time when you could have your photo taken with a monkey outside of British Home Stores.  Or was that just Bolton?

Monkey and terror
Monkey and terror

There is also some top anorak action going on here along with some top gurning from my brother, more of which later.

So onto the cuteness I promised you.  I’m not sure if this next one is before or after the last, but my levels of cuteness only lead me to ask what went wrong?

Brace yourselves….


I’m pretty sure that is food around my mouth, so not much changes really.

As technology raced ahead, within only a few short years we emerged into a glorious world of technicolour, Polaroid cameras, large brown swivel chairs that only Dad could sit in, but for some reason still with dodgy anoraks.


My brother is one of those people who cannot have a photo taken without such an expression.  I think there are probably only half a dozen of them in existence where he looks “normal”.  Some of them are his wedding photos, but not all!!

It has been strange looking back through history.  Looking at myself seems like looking at someone else.  I sort of remember those times, but somehow see them as seperate to my life today.  I wonder how the girls will see themselves in years to come.

It will be different I suppose, as their life will be captured in many and varied ways.  Facebook and twitter have already captured their every thought in recent years, and with phones acting as cameras and video cameras, they will have a lot to reminisce about.  There are moving images of my younger years of course, but they are on silent jerky “cine” films which are buried somewhere in my Mum and Dad’s house.

I suppose I can only hope they have more happy memories than otherwise, and of course that I manage to stick around long enough to look back with them.  If Emily keeps taking corners on two wheels like she did again this afternoon, that could be in jeopardy.

Till the next time…..



Enjoyment, crying and being (Les) miserable.

I am contemplating a change in schedule.  The fact that I write my bloggage of a Sunday evening may be giving them the slight tinge of melancholy.  I know this will come as a surprise to you, as no doubt I hide my sarcasm, cynicism and moaning well.

I have given it some thought but I can’t think of another time of the week when I have the time, energy or inclination.  We’ll see.

So how was the first proper week back after xmas?  It is a strange time.  Everyone is trying to lose weight yet the cupboards still groan with half a dozen selection boxes, some posh cheese crackers and a Luxury Christmas Pud.  In my case I also had a bumper size Toblerone to deal with.  I did the sensible thing and took it to the pictures with me on Saturday night.  For any normal person that would mean that they need not buy any over priced Pick n Mix from said cinema, but you will know by now that was not how it went down.

I jump ahead a little.  That was Saturday evening and an event of note took place that afternoon that I should share with you.

Having procured (at last) some almost affordable insurance that would allow Emily to drive the 1.0 litre beast that lurks in our garage, purchased some magnetic L Plates and girded my loins, we went out for the first time.

It felt a little surreal to be honest.  I sat next to her with a fifty-fifty mix of pride and absolute terror as she pulled away from the kerb, to her credit, not stalling.  For the next hour she drove around the local area on the roads on which over the years I have taken to her to –

  • Playgroup
  • Nursery
  • Infant School
  • Parties
  • Ballet Lessons
  • Junior School
  • Guides
  • Guitar Lessons
  • A&E
  • Secondary School
  • Drama Workshop
  • Drum Lessons
  • Gigs
  • College

Plus a million other journeys I have forgotten.  All of sudden there she is operating an actual car, and being pretty good at it too.  I remained calm at all times, with only a last-minute mild panic as she turned the final corner at about forty miles an hour in third gear.  How we laughed!

We spent about twenty minutes practising her reversing, and its safe to say that is where we will be concentrating our efforts.  Her theory is booked for early February, so it is time to give her as much practice as possible.  Beyond the incentive of being able to drive, and of course actually being insured on a car to do so, losing the crushing expense of weekly lessons will be one I shall celebrate almost as much as when she finally passes her test.

So onto the evening activities.  We had all been looking forward to watching Les Miserables since we first saw a trailer months ago.  So Louise, Emily, Louise’s Mum and I were booked for the 7pm show.  Rebecca had a prior arrangement at a friend’s party so she missed out.

We arrived early anticipating large crowds.  We had pre booked our tickets but wanted to bag some seats that meant we were not on the front row looking up Russel Crowe’s nostril for the entire film.

A nostril

As you know, a 7pm film will only actually start about forty minutes later, so I patted myself on the back for having the foresight to get some Pick n Mix as well as my enormous slab of Swiss chocolate.  By the time it actually started a large dent had been made and I felt suitably sick.

The film itself was, in our view, fantastic.  We already loved the music and the stage version so were probably highly likely to like a film version, but it was superbly done.  Even Russell Crowe’s less than perfect singing voice could not detract from the enjoyment.  I sat next to Emily, and heard a fair amount of excessive sniffing at various points in the film, but as the final rousing chorus was in full swing she pretty much lost it.  This wasn’t just a dewy-eyed glimpse of emotion, but rather uncontrollable and full on sobbing that lasted all the way out of the cinema and most of the drive home.

This probably isn’t a reaction that would be commonly seen, but you have to bear in mind that Emily cries each and every time the WDW advert comes on.  You know, the one about the teenager going there and spending time with her parents.

Not sure which one is Les Miserable
Not sure which one is Les Miserable

She cries at Glee (every episode) Up….and Toy Story 3, every single time she watches them.  Personally, I think this is a lovely trait for a 17-year-old in this cynical day and age.

So if you are going to watch this film, you may get a little emotional, and you may not.  I suppose it depends on your emotional state and make up, and I don’t mean whether your mascara is waterproof or not.  Emily is going to watch it again on Wednesday with her friends.  This time she tells me she won’t wear eye make up and will take more tissues.  The small amount we took with us, knowing she may tear up were nowhere near sufficient!

It’s a long time since I watched a film that I needed tissues for, but that’s a different story.

Mind you if she takes another corner like she did on Saturday afternoon when I’m in the car with her I might cry a little, and need some clean underwear too.

Till the next time…..

Oreo Cheesecake induced pain.

So the week just gone was rife with the pain and misery of the return to work.  It has been many years since I had to endure going back so early after New Year so the pain felt was acute.

My early return was required mainly as I had a new chap starting work and felt it slightly unfair to allow him to spend three days sat wondering where the toilets were.  Those three days felt longer than most full weeks, but I suppose that was always going to be the case.

The one positive from such a situation is that this initial pain is done and dusted and I can now sit and watch those endure it tomorrow as the late starters join me to sit still on the motorway tomorrow morning.

To make the week simply fly by, we have been enthralled and entertained by photos sent back home from those Williams’ currently enjoying WDW.

George and Piglet
Nephew George with Piglet

With the size of the party travelling, they are getting around on some sort of double-decker bus.

Fun Bus
The fun bus

You can only imagine how images like this have been helping the diet

Oreo Chessecake
Oreo Cheesecake

As is tradition on any Williams journey to Florida, a birthday is to be celebrated.  This time it was my Dad who did it in his usual understated style.  Apparently, he wore the hat all day.

Dad Birthday
Where did you get that hat?

They head home tomorrow (Monday), and if I were that way inclined to take solace from the pain of others, my own recently endured return to work woes will be a gnat on the arse of an elephant compared to that about to be endured by the returning tribe from Orlando.  Apart from my Mum & Dad of course who will just go back to being retired and not going to work in a different country.

So if you have been one of those lazing at home for those wonderful extra few days since New Year, this is probably one of the worst Sunday nights of the year.  I look upon you with a mix of pity, sympathy and gloaty supremacy.  Don’t worry, as bad as you think it is going to be will be nothing compared to how it actually will turn out. I speak from recent experience.

Oh and after only a few hours at work, Louise and I had one of those text conversations that more often than not end up on a flights web site with a smoking credit card.  Fear not, we remained strong, and no bookings were made.  We were caught up in the madness for a few short moments but the sobering cost of flights and the lack of a method of payment that might be accepted swiftly brought us down to earth again……with an enormous and bone-shattering bump.  It hurt.

So be warned, the pain of the return to work (especially if family members are sending you hourly updates of WDW activities) can make you do crazy things.  Let’s be careful out there!

Till the next time….

2012 blog stats….and a thank you

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.  Thank you for reading!!

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 54,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 12 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.