57 plus 34: Nightmares

Posted: 20 September 2021 in 57 plus
Tags: , ,

I don’t like nightmares.

Not a huge surprise, I suspect. I’m not giving away any secrets or anything; most people don’t like nightmares. Except that it’s not mere ‘lack of enjoyment’ (which is all ‘don’t like’ means, after all). I actively dislike them. And even that doesn’t quite convey my utter detestation, my visceral loathing, of them.

I’ve suffered from nightmares for as long as I can recall. I remember waking up from one as a kid, running downstairs, convinced that I’d been in a plane crash and somehow been transported back into my bed just in time… interrupting my parents’ dinner party and then pretty much ending it, I believe.

I was very young.

But now, as an adult, I’ve suffered from frequent nightmares, at least a couple of times a week, and sometimes a few times a night, for more than a decade. A friend., who witnessed me going through them, said I was almost pantomime-like in the moments before I awoke, as if I was in a low budget horror film, tossing and turning, moaning incoherently in my sleep, before bolting upright or suddenly going rigid before waking.

(And now, for the first time, I wonder if my complete and utter hatred of nightmares has anything to do with my equally strong dislike of horror movies and tv shows. Or whether it’s maybe vice versa. Huh.)

But yes, people on twitter are not unused to seeing something like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or even this:

…heading backwards just through the past few years.

I’m sure that anyone reading this can detect a thread running through the nightmares I’ve shown above.

Wild animals, chunks being taken out of me, being paralysed, close friends involved – either watching passively by, or even cheering it on; being buried alive or my fucked-up-foot being crushed, sawn off, or in one memorable case – shudder – each toe being peeled the length of my foot in turn.

Oh, and once or twice, being part of a scene straight out of Hieronymus Bosch.

I mean, I’ve never been much for dream analysis, to be honest, but I’m sure someone experienced in the field could tell me exactly what each bit signifies.

I wouldn’t care. Honestly.

I mean, they could say “it means you’re worried that… people don’t trust you, or you don’t trust them”, or “it means that you fear abandonment” or “you have an aversion to commitment”.

I mean, I think that what my dreams signify is that I have an aversion to being buried alive and a fear of wild animals ripping chunks out of me.

So, you know, could be anything. There’s a suggestion that dreams and nightmares are just the brain taking advantage of you being asleep – and not doing anything else – to clear the decks, so to speak. I’m sure that’s true.

And the chemicals, neurons firing and basically wiping some slates clean… dreams are just your brain trying to form a narrative around things that don’t make sense. In which case, no point in even worrying about it. It’s just a natural process. And if you always get nightmares instead of ‘nice dreams’, well, that’s just your mind being a bit fucked up in finding a suitable narrative.

So be it.

I do find it bemusing that I only rarely dream of the classic horror tropes; no vampires for me, no werewolves, no zombies. Occasionally harpies are in the mix of the ‘ripping chunks out of me’ but only in the crowd.

And most of the other archetypical nightmare scenarios are absent from mine. No drowning, no falling from huge heights, no being chased by a stranger, no death (though at times, it would have been a mercy), no being lost.

None of those. Odd, huh?

What nightmares tend to do, however, is leave me unsettled, anxious, and irritable as hell for the rest of the day. It’s more than possible that this is unwarranted, that my reaction to them is over-reaction. After all, I don’t have to change the bedding that often because I’ve sweated through it, and it’s been months since I had to do it twice in one night.

And it’s not as if I’m going to ruin anyone else’s night’s sleep. I live alone, I sleep alone and it’s been a very long time since anyone had reason to worry about my nightmares while they’re occurring.

The one thing that does fascinate me about them, however, genuinely, is how long I’m having a nightmare for before I wake.

Is it minutes, or longer… or does my brain come up with the sheer horror that is one of my nightmares in the half a second between being asleep and being awake.

Two more thoughts before I close this shorter than usual post.

I don’t remember ‘nice dreams’, almost never. I mean, sex dreams, yes, occasionally, but I’ve kept this place and its predecessor – for the most part, anyway – an all-ages place, so let’s not talk about those.

But ‘nice dreams’, dreams that leave me feeling cheerful or pleased or even merely content. I’m sure I have such dreams; it’d be frankly weird if I never had any nice dreams. But I never remember them. I mean, sure, it’d be lovely if I remembered them and not the nightmares.

But I long ago, as with some much else, became good-naturedly resigned to that, with occasional periods of being very bad-naturedly resigned to it.

Finally, on two occasions, I’ve used nightmares as the spine, the skeleton, of fast fictions. I was both pleased and slightly weirded out that both of them got ‘your mind scares me at times’ reactions from readers.

Anyway, see you tomorrow, with… the usual ‘Tuesday ‘something else’.

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

For various reasons, nothing new from me today; partly because I’ve been snowed under with other stuff, partly because I’m really not in the mood today, and partly because the low level headache I had throughout yeserday hasn’t completely gone, while my fucked-up-foot is still a bit ouch-y.

But since my friend Tony Lee is on my mind a bit — we met up for a delightful drink and catchup recently, for the first time in years — and he strongly suggested a potential new writing project for me, you can blame him for everything that follows.

Because Tony gave me what is possibly the hardest and trickiest and perhaps sneakiest fast fiction challenge I ever faced.

Harder even than when someone challenged me to use the top ten ‘words of the year’ in a single fast fiction story.

Because, in November 2005, I was due to answer the 100th fast fiction challenge that had been issued. The 100th story I was writing in this entirely daft, short lived (I thought!) project.

And Tony wanted to a) be the challenger for that story, and b) make it something… special, since it was, y’know, the 100th.

So he duly came up with somegthing… special.

Tony Lee, friend, writer, fella who knows how what I laughingly call my ‘mind’ works… knew how to make me stretch for the bloody thing, how to make me write a story that deserved being the one hundreth.

So the challenge: not only to use the word “sonnet” in the fast fiction, but also to write it in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet

Now, to be fair, there’s no way 200 words in a single 14 line sonnet is gonna happen. But 28 lines, split into two lots of 14 lines, in full iambic pentameter, with the proper rhyming format? That should be doable.

It took me a couple of hours to write and my brain was melting by the end of it, but here’s what resulted:
 
 
Title: Shakespeare On Summer’s Morn
Word: sonnet
Challenger: Tony Lee
Length: 200 words exactly

They came to town that early August morn,
Ten strolling players come to ply their trade.
To Stratford Common, set up on the lawn,
But only once of course they’d all been paid.
So Master Oliphant, he thus arrived.
Pomposity itself, prepared to speak.
The critics hated him but he’d survived,
(He was perforce the local Shakespeare geek.)
The worst of actors any could recall,
He planned to show them all that very day
Bringing the Bard again to one and all
A playwright born so many years away.
And Oliphant took to the stage once more
As he declaimed “So shaken as we are…”

The opening to Henry Fourth Part One
Commencing with those very words that way.
Through his performance Oliphant did stun
Much nicer than the truth: he stank that day.
But nonetheless, there was no doubt at all
The audience, they left the Common fast.
Such an abysmal, laughable portray’l
Unanimous verdict: “Please be the last!”
So Oliphant slunk off to sulk alone
Performances of others carried on
Without poor Oliphant, they did atone
And slowly did the audience return.
Soon someone told Oli where he’d gone wrong:
“Stick to a bloody sonnet from now on!”

© Lee Barnett, 2005
 
 

Note to all: Tony Lee is a so and so.
 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

As I’ve grown older, if not wiser, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity. Silliness, even in the roughest of times, maybe especially on the worst of days, is never unimportant; a necessary break from the sheer nastiness of the absurdity in which we sometimes find ourselves.

So, after yet another week when the only sensible reaction to the news is to answer Twitter’s

‘What’s happening?’

with a hearty

how the fuck should I know?‘, I give you some much needed silliness.

Ok then…

 

Let’s ignore the awful, awful film and just revel in the original short: Pixels

 

Some videos you can’t watch just the once. Some videos need repeat watching. Here’s John Oliver and a group of kids expressing their… frustration at DC getting repeatedly screwed by Congress.
WSfkNLbzwTM

 

When they announced the return of Animaniacs, I think I wasn’t the only one to wonder whether they could pull it off. Until., that is, I saw the promo.

  
 
OK, this one is just cute. Short and cute. Both the subject matter, and the video itself.

As is this one. Young squirrel really doesn’t want to go to bed. Parents will sympathise.

 

A brand new one from Mitch, this week, inspired by this week’s government reshufffle

 
 
See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

[This is Part The Sixth, click on the links for Part the First, Part the Second, Part The Third, Part The Fourth, Part The Fifth, and the extra post I did about the Who theme]

And here we are. At long last, after six weeks, the sixth and final part of this run through tv themes I like, in alphabetical order.

Why am I doing it? Well, I laid out in detail way back in the very first part of this mini-run, but honestly? It’s just a bit of fun and a longer-than-strictly-necessary answer to the question:

‘What is your favourite tv theme?’

Because I don’t have one answer. I don’t think I’ve ever just had one answer. Or ten. Or twenty. There are dozens I like, for many various and very different reasons.

Look, I tried to narrow it down, honestly. But I didn’t try that hard, because I didn’t really feel obliged to.

So, after five lots of ten tv themes in previous weeks (see above), here are the final ten themes I like from my iPhone’s playlist of 150 or so.

And as with previous weeks, I suspect there’ll be some that won’t surprise you, hope that there are possibly one or two that might… and, as always, maybe one or two you weren’t aware of, or had entirely forgotten.

Anyway, here we go…

 


Theme 51: Ski Sunday

Another sports one, and another BBC sports one that hasn’t essentiaslly changed in decades, because it works and it’s become irrevocably linked with slaloms and people shooting down mountains at speeds that are far too fast for anyone entirely sane to contemplate.


 


Theme 52: Space: 1999

Given when this was written for the show, it’s astonishing to me that it still works and could easily be a theme tune from a more recent show. Clever editing on the titles, and especially the change for every episode to include the ‘this episode’ makes this one definitely one of my favourites. (And, amusingly, last week, I heard the opening sting used as someone’s text message tone not that long ago. As with Catweazle, there was an immediate grin of memory from all of us, of a certain age, present.)


 


Theme 53: St Elsewhere

e.r. before e.r. existed. A superb, clever show for 99.99% of its run; let’s not talk about that final episode, though, eh? But clever titles, a catchy fun tune.


 


Theme 54: Thunderbirds

I dunno what can possibly be said about this theme tune that hasn’t been said by others far more intelligent and wise than me. With the possible exception that only just now did I realise where Space: 1999 got the idea for the ‘this episode’ bit from. I mean, if you’re gonna steal, steal from yourselves. But yeah, a great theme tune that’s lasted fondly in everyone’s memories for all the right reasons.

Oh, but before we leave Thunderbirds entirely… you may have heard the <em>Thunderbirds </em> theme above and before, but never quite like this:

 


Theme 55: The Tomorrow People

One of the best kids’ sf shows around when I was growing up, and a classic theme, unsettling, weird, and designed to make you feel uncomfortable, a trick it achieves easily.


 


Theme 56: UFO

Another great show, another great theme. But every time I see the opening titles, it’s the “1980” that throws me. It’s ‘my’ “Blade Runner’s set in 2019”, if you get what I mean.


 


Theme 57: Van der Valk

This was everywhere when I was a kid. The theme tune hit the record charts and just refused to leave. I mean, I get why. And as the opening titles show, it’s a lovely tune to have a wander by. I mean, it’s no Shaft, but it’ll do.


 


Theme 58: Washington Behind Closed Doors

I really want to rewatch this show. Inspired by the Watergate scandal, and indeed based on a pretty good novel – The Company – by John Ehrlichman, one of the players in the whole clusterfuck, the opening titles, and especially the opening theme, is full of urgency and militarism and ‘official’ stuff. It’s great.


 


Theme 59: White Horses

Like Follyfoot in the third post in this run, this is from my childhood, and, like Follyfoot, to do with horses. But this is one of those series of shows that the BBC bought, dubbed, and then showed on a Saturday morning to kids who loved telly.

Like me.

For decades afterwards, I barely remembered the storyline, convinced that it was set at the Austrian Riding School. Nope, a quick look up destroyed that idea. It was set on the farm where the horses that went to the riding school were bred.

Anyway, the theme they used for foreign broadcast is one of those themes that sticks in your head, from the opening horns, to the gentle lyrics, sung by Irish singer Jackie Lee.


 


Theme 60: The Zoo Gang

Suitable that this is the final theme in the run, since it’s genuinely one of my favourites. Written by Paul McCartney and performed by Wings, its’ very much of its day – the 1970s – and just about perfect for the show.

The original book the show is based on (a series of short stories) is a lot ‘harder’ than the tv show, more brutal and the lead characters aren’t quite as… nice. But the basic plot is the same, and we’ll explained by the opening titles.


 

 

And that’s it.

Well, that was fun.

See you tomorrow, with… the usual Saturday ‘something else’.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

Once upon a time, I partook in a project called Elephant Words, where a single image would inspire multiple stories from and by multiple authors.

When I decided to honour a promise to an old friend, and write new fiction once a week for the ’57…’ run, the first week’s was based on an image I’d come across serendipitously. And since then I’ve kept an eye out for images that spark something, that provoke the storytelling parts of my brain.

So that every week, I can write something brand new, a story written for this blog that no-one’s ever seen before, inspired by an image I come across entirely by chance.

I came across this photo while reading up on Ellis Island. The story it provoked has nothing to do with Ellis Island.

And this is the story that it provoked.


One murder, right on schedule

It took a full five minutes before the assistant district attorney, anxiously exchanging glances with his counterpart several feet away, rose to his feet and coughed, rather loudly.

The judge was unmoved.

Indeed, the judge didn’t move at all, which was the cause of the concern at the tables behind which sat the lawyers and the young client.

Until a few minutes’ earlier, the trial had been proceeding as both the prosecution and the defence had anticipated. Short opening statements had been made, both lawyers very aware that this particular judge had a reputation for impatience with circumlocution and waffle. Both had, at various times in the past, suffered the withering gaze of the judge, and also observations from the bench that were no less scornful and derisive.

After the opening statements, the prosecution had called its first witness, the medical examiner. An hour of questioning had ensued, about three-quarters of it from the prosecution, the rest – even the prosecution would later admit – made up of skilful questions from the defence, attempting, with some limited success, to damage the witness’s credibility.

A second prosecution witness, the first police officer on the scene, had followed the same pattern, while the third was such a success that the prosecutor’s assistant had even vaguely wondered whether they even needed two of the later planned witnesses. Her quickly scribbled note, however, had been greeted with a sharp shake of the head from her boss.

The fourth witness was where the problems had commenced. A fairly standard opening had been followed by a commonplace question to which the defence had objected. The assistant district attorney had been surprised by the intervention, surprised and concerned enough to mentally run through the remaining evidence to be offered. He quickly, and correctly, concluded that the defence was objecting for show, solely to damage the flow of question, answer, question, answer, and thereby to unsettle the witness.

It was an old defence trick, but one he was surprised the defence had used at that point rather than later in the trial. He’d expected the judge to overrule the objection immediately when the judge had held up a single finger for silence.

The judge had lowered his hand, asked both legal teams for a moment to consider the objection, and had fallen silent.

A moment passed, which stretched into a minute, and then two, and then five.

A dread thought idly flitted across the ADA’s mind, and he somehow resisted the temptation to look first at his opponent – especially when he heard a muttered ‘please, no…’ from him – then at the jury, sat quietly in the box.

“Your honour…?” He asked, to which there was no reply. He repeated the entreaty.

Slowly now, glancing around, hearing loud murmurs behind him from the public area, he fixed his eyes on the defence counsel, and they slowly nodded, then walked forward the short distance towards the judge.

A quick examination confirmed his fears; there was no choice now. He beckoned towards a clerk and the security guard. He turned towards the public gallery, searching for the medical examiner but she’d left after her evidence. He raised his voice, “Is there a doctor here?” He asked, noting the defence lawyer turning pale, partly from fear, partly from anger.

He also heard gasps from the jury box, and sliding his eyes over towards them, they found one woman, sitting at the front, her eyes fixed intensely on the judge.

Why my case? He asked himself. And he knew the defence counsel was asking the exact same question.

I mean it wasn’t as if they hadn’t tried to exclude her. But she’d been at the end of the jury pool, and they’d both used their preemptories much earlier. And the judge wouldn’t let them exclude her for cause.

So the mystery writer turned amateur (for which read ‘constantly interfering and getting in the way’) detective had made it onto the jury.

After that, the district attorney supposed, a murder in the courtroom was only a matter of time.

 

© Lee Barnett, 2021

 

 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

Hello, people who are following this blog!

Posted: 15 September 2021 in life, stuff
Tags: ,

Hello there.

Just wanted – outside the ’57 plus’ run of blogs – to drop a note to you, people who are actually following this blog, and people who get notifications when I stick up a new entry.

Jon Stewart said he thought of his show as a conversation with his audioence… and one in which he’d shamelessly monopolised the dialogue.

I kind of feel the same way. I know that the days of people commenting on blogs some time ago went the way of the dinosaurs. However, I’ll admit to being a little curious; curious about you, how you found this place, why you followed me, and – the most head-scratching I guess – why you hung around and still do.

So, please, I ask a favour. Drop me a line and let me know, eh?

You can comment in reply to this entry, or if you’d rather drop me a line via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk or DM me @budgie on Twitter.

I’m just curious about you all, and if you’ve your own blogs you’d like me to take a look at…

Anyway, once again, hello!

And see you tomorrow for the usual stuff…

There are some manoeuvrings going on today in British politics, and, indeed as I write this, more recent news is coming through.

And while I really don’t want to get into the party politics of who’s doing what to whom and why – I mean, Matt Hancocks’s not back, so thankfully we’re spared that – since there are three different things going on today, why not a bit on each?

I’m tired and irritable. So, yes, why not indeed.

OK, first off, there was the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session earlier. I’ve written about PMQs before, more than once, and, in general, things haven’t much changed in the past few years. And the changes there have been haven’t improved matters.

Boris Johnson, like every PM since Tony Blair, obviously loathes PMQs, and like his immediate predecessor, has no worries about showing it. Unlike Theresa May, however, our primus inter menaces‘ disdain for it isn’t shown by bad temper nor by obvious irritation, but by ramping up the bullshit machine, and spewing out whatever is on his tongue without in any way engaging his brain in the process.

Every PM seeks to avoid questions they don’t like, but most – not all, but most – do so by pretending to answer the question, while saying something quite different entirely.

Or they make one or two sentences ostensibly in relation to the question, then carefully steer the answer away from the original subject matter… and then say something about a subject they want to talk about. And if the question is repeated, they’ll say something like ‘I’ve already answered that [he didn’t] and then say something else that he wants to say. Or “I think the real question is…” then say what he wants to say, abouy something quite different.

Johnson does none of that. He just ignores the question entirely, bullshits his way through a couple of sentences, throws in the odd statistic (that neither he nor anyone else knows the accuracy of) and then says something like “hurrah!” And sits down.

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a Prime Minister so obviously contemptuous of the entire process of PMQs.

I have no idea whether it’s true that Napoleon asked about his generals ‘are they lucky?’ But fuck me, Johnson has been lucky with his leaders of the opposition.

Corbyn was utterly useless at PMQs at the start of his leadership of the opposition, and not much better by the end. He’d learned a bit, but my gods he was bad. And Starmer, who should have been better, whose training as a prosecutor should have helped him… is… just bad at it.

He makes the mistake, every week, every bloody week, of thinking that he’s dealing with someone who values truth as a concept in the chamber of the House of Commons. And when he’s disappointed in it, every bloody week, it’s like he’s surprised at it once again.

He makes Charlie Brown facing Lucy and the football seem actively cynical.

As for Ian Blackford, the less said the better. His attempts every week are pitiful and maybe one in ten, maybe, questions. does he actually achieve what he set out to. Some of his sentences are longer than Judge Jeffries and, usually, by the time he finishes his questions, no one – including himself – can remember how they started.

Every PM comes to power promising to reform PMQs. Except Johnson, for whom PMQs is in one way exactly what he wants it to be: half an hour to three-quarters of an hour wherein he can bullshit like crazy and get cheered to the rafters for doing so. And, yet, he’s smart enough to detest the house for letting him get away with it with nary a raised eyebrow.

His contempt for PMQs itself is only matched by his scarcely hidden contempt for those backbenchers who praise him with planted questions of the ‘Will the Prime Minister agree with me that his policies are just lovely and wonderful and superb?’.

You know what, I’m starting to share his contempt.

OK, moving on. There’s a government reshuffle today. About 100 jobs, about a hundred ministerial positions. And to use the old phrase, time for them to have a little spin.

As I write this, Dominic Raab has been sacked as Foreign Secretary and been both demoted and promoted; he’s gone to the Ministry of Justice, where he once served as a junior minister. An unquestioned demotion. But he’s also become Lord Chancellor, which, technically, outranks the PM. Ah, but ‘technically’ could equally mean ‘meaninglessly’, and in this circumstance it very much does.

He’s also been moved from ‘First Secretary Of State’, a meaningless job title that means Deputy Prime Minister, to actually being Deputy Prime Minister, a meaningless job title of its own.

(While the job of Prime Minister is coming up on 400 years’ old. the first Deputy was Clem Attlee during WWII, and for most of the past 80 years, we haven’t had anyone in the job.)

Who’s got Raab’s old job of Foreign Secretary, you ask? Well, Liz Truss, the – as of this morning – International Trade Sec. I’m genuinely puzzled who was more ‘what the f––?’ at the news of Truss’s appointment, me or Dominic Raab.

Both Rishi Sunak and Priti Patel have kept their jobs, which doesn’t really surprise me. Johnson’s not strong enough to dislodge Sunak and Patel is one of Johnson’s (in his mind, anyways) star performers.

Most PMs loathe reshuffles and I’m sure that Johnson is the same. I’m mildly surprised he actually fired those leaving government in person rather then delegating it or texting them,, but only mildly.

Every reshuffle though is an indicator of how strong a PM thinks his control of the parliamentary party is. This one is showing, and will continue to show, that Johnson’s none too sure of how strong – or weak – it is.

OK, finally…

There’s an Opposition Day in the Commons today. Now, that’s not Opposite Day, although it might as well be. Nothing done in the chamber will actually matter. Any unimportant votes won’t be binding; and yes, while the subject matter may be important, is important, the votes won’t be. How can they be if they’re not binding, and the government cares so little about it that they don’t even bother to vote against; they abstain. The only purpose is so that Starmer and his team can say to the party… here, look at that, yes, at that. Look, we did that…

And, sadly, with the state of British politics being what it is, that counts as an achievement as far as Labour are concerned.

I’ve said for some time that the secret to understanding Boris Johnson as Prime Minister is that he prizes ambition over, even at the expense of, achievement.

Whereas Starmer is still so stung by Corbyn’s/Labour’s collapse in the 2019 election, and the many many poison chalices with which he was left by Corbyn, that he’ll claim anything… including a meaningless debate and a consequence free vote – are achievements of the greatest stature.

(Starmer had his own nightmare reshuffle a few months ago; any criticism that he aims at Johnson should bear that in mind.)

I wish I was less cynical, less sceptical, less fatalistic about the state of british politics. I really wish I could see the light somewhere.

But I realised last week that I don’t trust a single politician in the House of Commons – not a one of them – not to lie through their teeth if it was convenient; for personal advancement, for a political win, to get one over on their opponents outside and inside the party. They’d all break manifesto pledges, televised promises, pledges made inside the House of Commons… and sleep well afterwards. While hypocritically attacking those in other parties for doing the exact same thing.

Bah.

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

It’s Tuesday, so as usual you get a couple of more ‘fiction from the vaults’ posts, another two from 2010 this week. I know I’ve done more than a few from the 2010 run, so this will be the last for a bit.

The 2010 run was the last time I did a lonnnnnng run of fast fiction tales; 150 written in 150 days. One story written every day, none in reserve; one posted every day, even if that meant writing one or two very late at night so I could just scrape in before midnight.

As always, they varied between the horrendously dark – what one friend described as the ‘your mind scares me at times’ stories, some very weird tales and some, rarely I’ll admit, nicer ones.

These are definitely two of the nicer stories. See, I told you I can write nicer tales.

But I like these two, a lot. I hope you will.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

I hope you enjoy them…


Title: Train Of Desire
Word: despair
Challenger: [Livejournal: IckleBlackBird]
Length: 200 words exactly

As the announcement faded, I could sense mild discontent in the air. I knew how they felt.

The train was twenty minutes late, and not expected for another five. People were glancing at their timepieces, and I joined them, looking at the heavy watch she’d bought me. This was the first time I’d worn it and I wasn’t used to either the additional weight on my wrist or the analogue fascia.

I looked at it again, for the second time in as many minutes, not yet anxious but concerned nonetheless.

I looked to my side and confirmed I wasn’t the only one waiting for the train’s arrival, but the familiar company didn’t lessen the possibility of future despair.

I’d been late often enough in the recent past that for a brief moment, I wondered if the fates were playing games with me. He may not have played dice, according to Einstein, but sometimes I suspected He played with humanity’s sense of timekeeping just to amuse Himself.

Where the hell was the train?

And then I heard the organ start, and my heart filled with love as I saw the train and the dress and my beautiful bride who wore both.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


Title: Why I Chose Insanity
Word: mariachi
Challenger: [Livejournal: LiQweet]
Length: 200 words exactly

I was going to hurt her, I knew. She’d forgive me, but for a while, there would be no love in her eyes, merely anger and disappointment.

Moments earlier she had lifted her face and had smiled.

I knew she was thinking the same as me: that last night in Mexico City, the mariachi band, when we’d danced the night through. First time we’d actually enjoyed dancing together, when her natural self-consciousness and my clumsiness had both seemed to evaporate in the mood of the night.

We stared at each other for a long moment, then a car backfiring down the street broke the mood, and we smiled before she lowered her head again.

She lifted her hand to brush back a stray lock of hair, and tucked it behind her right ear, while her tongue was endearingly stuck in the corner of her mouth.

I wasn’t sure how quite to play it.

Nasty?

Or Saint?

I had no choice, not if I wanted to retain her respect.

I sighed, checked the board again, looked down at my tray, picked up my seven tiles and began to place the letters, and to claim my 132 points:

I, N, S, A…

© Lee Barnett, 2010


 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.


Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

57 plus 27: Note taking

Posted: 13 September 2021 in 57 plus
Tags: , ,

I was walking through WH Smiths the other day, and found myself stopping by the Filofax section. I was kind of surprised, I’ll admit, to see them.

I mean, I wasn’t surprised to see Filofaxes still exist. I was surprised to see how much Filofax product there was, and how it’s evolved over the years while remaining essentially, unmistakably… Filofax.

And it occurred to me that how I’ve kept notes over the years has… changed. Not so much the notes themselves but of course the subject matters of the notes has changed. But the ‘data containers’, where I keep the notes… that has very definitely changed.

So, here’s a quick run through in rough chronological order, thouhgh I suspect that several of them overlapped at various times.

The first time I rememebr having anything to scribble in, to keep notes in was at school. Not at junior school (what would now be called ‘primary school’, I guess. But on my first day at ‘senior’ school. Again, that’s ‘secondary’ school these days. We were given a General Note Book. Heaven save the kid who referred to it as a ‘rough book’; certain teachers got very very upset when we called it that.

So of course we called them that whenever we could. But yeah, every so often you’d fill it and need to go to get a new one. And while you were queuing up to get a new one, you’d see what the other kids had filled theirs with. Because, you see, you had to show it to the teacher to prove you needed a new one.

And that’s when, quite early in my life, I realised that I’d never be an artist. Because while most kids, like me, had filled their GNBs with class notes and scribbles and silly stuff, and the occasional game of ‘boxes’ or similar, some had filled their books with the most glorious artwork: vistas of strange planets, portraits of friends and family, cartoons and caricatures.

And then I presented mine, full of bullet bullet points and ideas for stories and snippets of dialogue I’d overheard and meanderings about how the latest doctor who was just brilliant. And notes I take when I was somewhere and I wanted to take notes.And doodles. And more doodles. And drawings of Batman. And of spider-man’s mask. And the Superman shield. And abstract doodles of 3D boxes extended into four dimensions, and doodles of sheep. And of optical illusions I was practising. Yeah, lots of them, as I recall.

I graduated to a reporters notebook in sixth form, and I’m pretty sure it was just because I’d read All The President’s Men and while I never planned on becoming a journalist, I liked the feeling of getting the pad and flipping it open.

(Huh, and as I type that, I realise that ‘getting the pad out of my bag and flipping it open is pretty much what I do now… it’s just that in 20201, it’s an iPad I’m using now.)

The reporter’s notebook stage didn’t last long, I have to say. I think ‘the cover keeping being ripped off when I yanked it out of my bag’ may have had something to do with it, but I remember moving to thicker A5 bound books, when I went to Manchester Poly. Heavier to carry around, more efficient but definitely less fun. Making notes was becoming less a fun, silly thing to do and more a ‘you’re taking notes for a reason, aren’t you?’ Then start being serious about it.’

That saddens me a bit, on reflection, to be honest. Took me a long time to revert to taking notes just for the hell of it, not knowing whether I’ll need them later, or even knowing I won’t need them but it’s something to scribble while I’m thinking of something else.

After that, for a while, at least, note taking tended to be separated between ‘personal stuff’ and ‘work stuff’. The latter was, from the moment I started upon the path to accountancy as a job, recorded always on an accountancy pad, the single least appropriate note taking medium in history with the possible exception of plain paper, and with the exception of ‘notes taken for accountancy purposes’.

Don’t get me wrong; the format of accountancy paper lends itself to structure, to note taking… in theory. Especially numbered notes. What it doesn’t allow for, isn’t designed for… is scribbles, doodles, stream of consciousness, anything that’s not accountancy based. I found myself using it for minutes of board meetings, where it’s only advantage was scrawling a vertical line about ¾ of the way across the page, and using the smaller bit for ‘action points’.

For personal stuff, though, I was moving to a Filofax.

Now I loved the Filofaxes I had. A couple over the years, starting off with a very cheap plastic one and soon moving, after one birthday or another, to a thick leather one. It was great, I loved it. And it was convenient-ish… for its time. But it was utterly useless to take notes in. It’d never go completely flat¹, the paper was either too thin and tore easily or too thick and ink bled straight into the paper. In fact, looking back, it was far more convenient to use it as a reference tool, to write something on a pad, then punch holes in the note and then slap it in the Filofax.

(¹one thing I noticed when looking at the Filofaxes in Smiths? They now make Filofaxes that do go completely flat. And that pleases me.)

Which probably explains why, when i had the opportunity, I moved to an electronic device: the Palm Pilot. I’ve genuinely not much to say about the palm pilot other than that I was inordinately pleased with it, and once you got used to the keyboard and slow response, it was pretty perfect for note taking. Pretty useless for note exporting however, as I quickly discovered.

OK, jump to 2021 and I’m carrying more devices around, the containers for my notes are backed up everywhere and yet I’m still effectively doing what I did more than a decade ago, splitting the notes.

Sigh.

OK, I have an iPhone and an iPad and several note taking apps. I rarely if ever use the iphone write a note, but once it’s been created on my iPad, the iPhone is used all the time my to refer to it, to amend it, to print it (via my home networked printer, which I would have loved to have had decades ago).

But for genuine notes? For doodling, for the same bloody stuff as I was doing 40 years ago in my General Note Books…?

…full of bullet bullet points and ideas for stories and snippets of dialogue I’d overheard and meanderings about how the latest doctor who was just brilliant. And notes I take when I was somewhere and I wanted to take notes.And doodles. And more doodles. And drawings of Batman. And of spider-man’s mask. And the Superman shield. And abstract doodles of 3D boxes extended into four dimensions, and doodles of sheep. And of optical illusions

For all of that, I’m using Moleskine notebooks. I’ve usually two: one in my bag for proper note taking as above, and a smaller one in my jacket, used for ‘live notetaking’. And I just replaced that one, as the old one was full… not for once full of meaningless drivel. Well, not the meaningless drivel you might expect. It was full of notes from court cases I’d attended, some quotes, and a lot of ‘well, this happened’.

Maybe things don’t change, maybe I return to the old way of doing things, not because that’s the best way. Maybe I’m just comfortable with habits, and I return to the habits of my past sometimes for no reason other than because I want to….

See you tomorrow, with… something else. 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

(Yes, that is a confusing photo that accompanies this post. It’s meant to be.)

Certainty, as I wrote, a couple of years ago, makes it easy to get angry; too easy, as it happens. And social media makes it easier than ever to do so.

With strangers. With people you don’t know. With people you kind of know but not really. And with celebrities you don’t know, will never meet and who wouldn’t recognise you in a line up considering of two people.

With friends, however, it’s disappointment that leads to irritation, frustration, upset and anger. Usually, anyway.

And I don’t mind getting pissed off with people (including myself) for stuff that’s definitely their (or my) fault.

It’s a part of the social contract, I guess. I do something that pisses you off, you’re entitled, more than entitled, to be pissed off with me.

And if you do something that pisses me off, I’m equally entitled to be pissed off with you.

Now, at no point do I say, or aver, whether or not the person being pissed off has any objective justification for being pissed off. But objective justification or not, there surely has to be a reason (or reasons) to be pissed off with someone, yes?

And when i say ‘objective justification, I mean, well, whether or not someone would agree the reason is a sensible, rational, one… Because there has to be… a reason, justifiable or not, shurely?

For example. Let’s say we arrange to meet for coffee. One of us doesn’t show because we’d forgotten about it, or something else comes up and we forgot to let the other know that we could no longer make it. But not turning up, while the other person is waiting – patiently at first, less so as time passes… yeah, I don’t know anyone who’d argue that the person who got stood up isn’t justified in being pissed off at the person who didn’t show. Now you can extend that to a meal, a date, a business meeting.

If you’ve agreed to show up and you don’t, without notice, that’s worthy of a ‘pissed off with you’ reaction.

On the other hand, same hypothetical, We arrange to meet for coffee. One of us turns up ten minutes early. The other turns up on time. It’d be as ludicrous for one to get pissed off at the other for being early as it would be for the other to be pissed off that someone turned up ‘on time’.

Because it’s not – in that second scenario – that there is a reason and all we’re debating is the weight of that position; the reason doesn’t exist, objective or otherwise. Unless one of you decides to get angry and uses that as the excuse.

But then there’s the other thing, the thing that angers me; anger – I hasten to add – that’s aimed squarely at yours truly.

Once in a while, I’ll tweet something like the following; when tweeted, it’s nothing but the unfettered truth, and yes, it speaks nothing well of me.

I wish I knew why I’m like that, why I too often get upset at people for stuff, about stuff, that’s 100%, unreservedly, totally, not the other person’s fault, not anyone’s fault at all, bar possibly mine.

I genuinely wish I knew.

I mean, I have my suspicions. For all my many flaws, I am, I like to think, reasonably self-aware.


Sidebar: It’s a genuine delight when I learn something new about myself, though, whether or not the thing I learn is a ‘nice’ thing or otherwise; knowledge is always valuable. A psych once identified why I did ‘a certain thing’ with such clarity, such simplicity, that it was a pleasure to witness the discovery. It wasn’t, I hasten to add, complimentary about me, but at least ‘something about me’ made sense that really hadn’t before.


There’s stuff, personal stuff, as well as the non-personal, that I long ago accepted would likely , overwhelmingly likely, not be part of ‘my life’. Usually it’s a fairly good natured resignation to it. Sometimes – less rarely as the years pass – I’m bad-naturedly resigned to it, very bad-naturedly.

And sometimes it’s wholly trivial, which almost makes the level of my genuine upset even more ludicrous, even dafter, than it is in and of itself. Which takes it to a whole new premier league of daftness. Kind of an exponential growth in the anger.

Take food, for example. While many of my friends might describe themselves as “foodies”, they’re not expert cooks nor bakers; they’re not epicureans when it comes to food. They just enjoy, genuinely enjoy, cooking or baking… and they definitely take pleasure in consuming good food. They might enjoy it more if they made it, but whether or not they made it, they enjoy good food. And they take equal pleasure in cooking for someone else, and even more enjoyment in that person expressing their pleasure in it.

All of which makes sense to me in a technical, objective, way. And none of which applies to me in any way whatsoever.

For all sorts of reasons, I tend to regard food as.… ‘fuel’. For me, food’s solely there to ease the ache of hunger. I’m – usually – as ok with a couple of slices of buttered toast as I would be with a cheese omelette, or as ok as I would be with a bowl of cereal, or as I would be a posh three course meal. It’s… food.

Sure, there’s food I actively dislike; I have a fairly bland palate, so I dislike spicy food, and strong, overwhelming, smells turn me off any type of food faster than you’d believe.

Mentioning odours, more than one friend has suggested my busted up nose might have something to do with my apathy when it comes to [nice] food, but a) I do have a sense of smell b) I do have my ‘favourite’ smells, and c) my indifference to food long pre-dates my nose being broken.

My mum was for the most part a very plain cook, and made very plain food. My old man liked the food that way. I’d say blame them for my lack if interest in food, bar for two things. First off, my dad really liked his food. He didn’t have a broad range but what he liked, he really liked. And mum encouraged all of us kids to experiment with food, to see what we liked. She was very much not a ‘this is what I’m serving, so this is what you’ll like. Also very much a ‘try it; if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it again, but try it now…’

So, yeah, food and tastes are not really a thing I do, Honourable exception for coffee, and again for scotch whisky. Not sure why those two in particular, but yeah, I do actually enjoy consuming both. Tea on the other hand, and most cold drinks, are again there solely to slake thirst. I like Oasis Citrus Punch, can drink loads of it, but if they stopped making it tomorrow, wouldn’t bother me in the least; I’m equally as happy drinking still water.

(Which reminds me of one of the sillier gags I like: “Waiter, I’d like some water, please.” “Certainly, sir. Still water?” “Yes, I haven’t changed my mind.”)

But much as it would be ludicrous to be upset at people enjoying a party that I didn’t care about attending, and indeed would have declined an invitation to had I received one (and yes, I’ve done that as well), it would be, and is, nonsensical for me to be upset at people enjoying food I wouldn’t care to eat.

And, yet, there have been times when I’ve felt exactly that.

Utterly daft, isn’t it?

Another example: there are genuine, long standing issues which I care about, politically. And that others might not care as much (as I said last Sunday) is something I’ve long gotten used to, as they have about me not caring as much about issues they put their energy and passion into.

And while there are any number of subjects and topics that I might query the priority someone regards it with, sometimes someone will care, obviously deeply care, about something that I genuinely cannot understand why anyone cares about it. I can’t get arsed about sport 99.999% of the time but I completely accept that makes me an anomaly. And I ‘get’ why it’s important to some. That’s not what I’m talking about.

Neither can I get arsed about where someone’s grandparents came from. Not to any extent beyond mild curiosity and, given the history of so many who died in the holocaust, that. I don’t really care about my own. I mean I know the basics of where my own grandparents came from, but not really much more than that. And I don’t care to learn more.

(Huh, I don’t really care about my family more than a couple of generations back, and I don’t enjoy food. Let me just check in my trousers to confirm I’m still Jewish. Ok, yes. Let’s continue.)

Combining the two above, a teenager named Emma Radacanu won a tennis tournament last night. I can’t say I truly watched it. It’s as on the background while I did other things; it was, for me, wallpaper television, to which I paid attention on occasion: the set points, long rallies, championship points.

From what I witnessed, she’s a fun, clever, teenager with an astonishing talent. The same applies equally to her opponent.

Radacanu is British; born in Canada but she moved to the UK as a toddler. And people have today been talking about where her parents came from, where her grandparents were born, either to proclaim with some sense of triumph that it shows Britain is great, or less pleasantly to cast doubt on her somehow.

I genuinely don’t care where her grandparents came from. Couldn’t give a toss; as far as I’m concerned the only people who should give the slightest damn about it are Ms Radacanu and her family. And it not only puzzles me that anyone else does, it angers me, for no accountable reason. It’s not other peoples’ fault that they’re interested in the cultural heritage and background of the first British woman to win a Grand Slam major in 40 years, and it’s none of my business that they are.

But it irks, to put it mildly. And I have no bloody idea at all why.

Two caveats to the above:

  1. As I was typing the above, something popped up on my twitter feed; ‘one of those exceptions that proves the rule’ things. The Mayor of London celebrated that she’s from London. I perfectly understand why he did it: politics. But I realised I should add a line: I completely understand people’s interest in where she comes from, and even where her parents originated. I am still at a complete loss to understand any interest intake background of her family beyond that.)

  2. Developing 1. above, where people come from, I understand an interest. Indeed, one could not support refugees without it. Where their parents come from, sure. But anything further back from that, I don’t understand. Someone born in the UK, say, today, whose parents immigrated or whose grandparents did, or whose great-grandparents did is exactly as British, no more no less, than someone who can trace the English, say, background to the 1200s. No more, no less.

Ok, now I’m done.

 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

As I’ve grown older, if not wiser, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity. Silliness, even in the roughest of times, maybe especially on the worst of days, is never unimportant; a necessary break from the sheer nastiness of the absurdity in which we sometimes find ourselves.

So, after yet another week when the only sensible reaction to the news is to answer Twitter’s

‘What’s happening?’

with a hearty

how the fuck should I know?‘, I give you some much needed silliness.

Ok then…

 

The Frogfather: The Muppets do The Godfather. Be fair, you always wanted to see it, didn’t you?
.
 

You’d think that Wile E Coyote would have learned not to play with explosives by now, but nooooo.…

 

I attended school back in the days when corporal punishment was still allowed, and yes, I was caned. Never fatally, though… Rowan Atkinson and Angus Deayton, on the other hand…

  
 
Another Kermit the Frog one, but one that’s surprisingly touching, I think it’s the way it starts and ends, by Kermit turning the phone cam on and off… Kermit in Lockdown, and The Rainbow Connection

 

I’ve always liked The Postcode Song from Mitch; wasn’t aware someone had done the obvious and annotated it. But they have, thankfully.

 
 
See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

[This is Part The Fifth, click on the links for Part the First, Part the Second, Part The Third, Part The Fourth, and the extra post I did about the Who theme]

OK, time for the fifth and penultimate part of this run through tv themes I like, in alphabetical ordert.

Why am I doing it? Well, I said in detail four weeks ago, in the first part of this thing, but honestly? It’s just a bit of fun and a longer-than-strictly-necessary answer to the question:

‘What is your favourite tv theme?’

Because I don’t have one answer. I don’t even have ten. There are dozens I like, for various and different reasons.

Look, I tried to narrow it down, honestly.

But I couldn’t, and didn’t really want to. So, anyway, here are another ten themes I like from my iPhone’s playlist of 150 or so. And as with previous weeks, there’ll be some that won’t surprise you, possibly one or two that might… and, again, maybe one or two you weren’t aware of, or had entirely forgotten.

Anyway, here we go…


Theme 41: The New Avengers

There were a couple of versions of this opening titles sequence; one with no fancy graphics, and then this, which was to my mind by far the cleverest opening sequence The Avengers ever did in any incarnation. I like this one a lot.


 


Theme 42: News 24 Countdown

There’s no way I should like a News theme, particularly one that I often skip through when it’s pops up on telly. I just want the news, after all, not the preface.

But shorn of the actual news itself, I really like this as a theme. It’s clever and authoritative.

Ok, two bits of entirely unwarranted fun, since I’ve included the News 24 Countdown.

I arguably should have included this as an extra in the Doctor Who theme post… but better late than never…

And this… well, this is just sheer joy, and we need more sheer joy in life.

 


Theme 43: Pinky and the Brain

They redid the theme with new lyrics and new arrangements when the Animanicans returned last year. I prefer the original.


 


Theme 44: Pot Black

Pot Black was a knockout snooker thing, featuring, usually the top 16 players. It wasn’t a tour event, the winner got a trophy and nothing much else. And yet, it was required viewing when I was a kid if you liked snooker. Much more relaxed that tournament, this for the first time was people who were obviously for the most part friends playing each other. And you got to see them a bit relaxed. There’s no reason why they should have used George Botsford’s Black and White Rag, performed by Winifred Atwell, for Snooker but it bloody works perfectly, doesn’t it?


Theme 45: The Professionals

Once again, a show that had several theme tunes, but this one show where the transition fucked up. The first one – shown below, because I like the voiceover – had a voiceover. Then they switched to a new sequence, the one most people remember, that didn’t have a voiceover. And some idiot, when it went into syndication, just added the voiceover to the non-voiceover videos, and it’s over video that very much shouldn’t have a voiceover. So the voiceover makes no bloody sense at all on those episodes.

Sigh.

Anyway, here’s the original.


 


Theme 46: The Protectors

Perfectly edited video over a perfectly edited and arranged instrumental of The Avenues And Alleyways. (They used the full song as the closing credits.) just superb.


 


Theme 47: Question Time

There are so many versions of this theme tune, that I just chose one I like if for no reason other than it lasts longer than the ten seconds or so version that they started using a few years back.)


 


Theme 48: Rhoda

There’s a line in the opening introduction that I don’t believe a single Jewish person in their 20s didn’t recognise from their own mothers and their own life. And a superbly catchy theme tune.


 


Theme 49: The Saint

Absolutely perfect for the show, absolutely perfect for the graphics, absolutely perfectly catchy, and immediately identifiable. I like it.


 

Though, to be fair, the Return of the Saint was pretty good, and clever, as well.

 


Theme 50: Screen Test

This is one of those that I bet that maybe, maybe, only one of those reading this will remember. A quiz show for kids, I loved it. And the theme tune stuck in my head for decades afterwards.


 

 

 

OK, part the sixth – the final part – next week, when we cover from Ski Sunday through to The Zoo Gang.

See you tomorrow, with… the usual Saturday ‘something else’.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

Once upon a time, I partook in a project called Elephant Words, where a single image would inspire multiple stories from and by multiple authors.

When I decided to honour a promise to an old friend, and write new fiction once a week for the ’57…’ run, the first week’s was based on an image I’d come across serendipitously. And since then I’ve kept an eye out for images that spark something, that provoke the storytelling parts of my brain.

So that every week, I can write something brand new, a story written for this blog that no-one’s ever seen before, sparked by an image I come across entirely by chance.

I came across the following image this afternoon, and it sparked an idea.

And this is what it provoked.


Words

The air was thick with fury, the pair of them letting the angry words settle in the space between them.

He stood, one hand in his pockets, every so often jangling keys and coins. He knew it annoyed her but he’d swear he didn’t do it solely to irritate her. Not solely, anyway. His other hand stroked his bare face; he’d shaved the beard off a decade ago but sometimes when upset he still missed it.

His eyes protruded, slightly, as they tended to when he was angry. And both of them knew it was not a pleasant look. It didn’t help that green eyes under eyebrows of salt and pepper were striking. On anyone else’s face, she knew they would clash, but on his, no.

He took a deep breath, as if to add to the upset, to restate what he’d just said, then he paused, and sighed, shallowly and slowly.

He looked at her, seated and surprisingly small in the fabric covered armchair. Her face was like stone. Unlike her husband, on whose face you could read a book of his emotions, hers was blank, wholly and completely. The best poker players in the world, if sat across from her, he had once said, would see nothing she didn’t want them to. She had thought it a compliment. Maybe it once had been. No longer, though. Now it was merely a fact.

“I…” she started, then fell silent again, judging her words.

When they had first met, decades ago, she had been all whirlwind and energy and extroversion; she’d seen no purpose in hiding what she thought, from anyone. She’d learned in the decades since that, sometimes, discretion was better, was easier.

He, though, had been reserved, insular, quiet. That had changed as her love for him had led him to blossom, to gain confidence in his own love for her, and the public showing of it.

She taught him to express himself. She taught him to free his feelings. She taught him to love. He taught her to appreciate it.

In those days, they could both remember with ease had they ever wished to, the world could go hang; they had each other and nothing else was important. They could recall that effortlessly, had they wished to. In truth, it rarely occurred to either to do so.

She took a breath. Then another, a loud one.

“Anything… else?” She asked, her voice flat.

He took one hand out of the pocket, as he walked over to her. “Just one thing… actually, two.”

Her eyebrow raised, archly.

He knelt in front of her. “You do know I love you, right?”

She tilted her head towards him. “You know that nothing matters to me, without you, right?” he continued. “That you’re the stars and the light and every blade of grass to me. That you’re… what makes life worth it.”

She smiled, gently but knowingly. “I know.”

“That you’re everything to me. The air I breathe, the food I eat, the world.” He stopped, suddenly.

“The food you drink?” Her smile grew wider, and reached her eyes.

“Yeah.”

“How am I supposed to top that?” She asked, the skin around her eyes wrinkling with light humour.

“You’re not,” he said, and she knew he meant it.

“You’re an idiot,” she said, and he knew she didn’t.

“I know.”

She reached to him, her pal against his face. “You said two things?”

He stood, bent over, kissed her cheek, the argument relegated to the places such things go between people who’ve loved each other with all their hearts for four decades and more.

“Yeah. Do you want a biscuit with your cuppa?”

As he left for the kitchen, she look at him with unadulterated love and admiration. He always apologised. Always. Or she did. She stretched out, wondering how many times it was now that she’d walked out on him without getting out of the chair.

Without surprise, she felt a brief chill on damp cheeks, and knew without looking that he was wiping his own.

The food he eats? She shook her head, bemused with love, and looked forward to the hot beverage, and the evening with him, and the rest of their lives. Together.

 

© Lee Barnett, 2021

 

 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

I’m genuinely but irritatingly bemused at mysef this afternoon. After Monday’s ‘I’ve not got much to write about today’, I had a different issue this afternoon.

I had something to write about; oh, boy, did I.

But, rereading what I wrote, I realise once again the truth uttered by a former boss:

If you make a speech in anger, you’ll make the very best speech… you’ll ever live to regret.

Because I am angry today, and I’m also in pain). And while the combination of the two often aids the writing… it’s equally often that it’s wiser not to publish that writing without some… reconsideration and, I suspect, some judicious editing. I should probably remove most of the swear words for a start. Not all of them, but most of them.

I’ll merely add that the blog entry was about politicians, and lying, and politicians lying, and accusations of lying, and the hypocrisy that I conclude is by now inherent to British politics, exhibited by politicians, activists, and supporters and critics alike.

So, yeah, that one will be along at some point… after I’ve calmed down a bit.

Instead you get… what?

(And the above explains why you get an entirely abstract pic as the ‘image’ for this post. Genuinely couldn’t think of anything else to use.)

Well, you get two of my favourite ‘overheard’ comments; I never understand why anyone would think the ‘overheard’ comments people report are too convenient to be true. Sure, if they oh-so-coincidentally-make-exactly-the-same-political-point-as-you-often-profess, they may be entirely invented. But the weird ones? The bizarre ones? the ‘awww, that’s cute’ from kids ones? I feel sorry for nyone who assumes they’re invented; they’re missing out how weird, how bizarre and how cute… people are.

So here’s one I heard about 2am that took place outside my [previous] flat.

I’m was going to bed and a couple started arguing as they’re walking past my block of flats…

Him: Well, it’s fucking private because I say it’s fucking private.
Her: It’s not fucking private if you do it in front of people.
Him: Well, it wasn’t in front of that many people.
Her: If she’s stark fucking naked and you’ve got your hand there, the number of people watching isn’t important!
Him: I don’t know why you’re so upset.
Her: It was my fucking sister!
Him: …and? You fucked my brother!
Her: Hardly the same thing! I’m married to him!

And then they walked out of hearing distance….

It’s almost as good as the flat out weirdest one, which took place in a coffee shop, at South Mimms Services.

Woman 1: I’m really sorry about last night.
Woman 2: That’s OK.
Woman 1: I just didn’t realise how late it was.
Woman 2: I told you, it’s ok.
Woman 1: But if I’d have known you were in bed with him, I wouldn’t have phoned.
Woman 2: Seriously, we didn’t mind.
Woman 1: Are you really sure?
Woman 2: Yes. If anyone can call him late at night, it’s you. I mean, he is your husband…

Erm, yes.

Aren’t people fun?

See you tomorrow, with… something else. 
 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

It’s Tuesday, so as usual you get a couple of more ‘fiction from the vaults’ posts, another two from 2010 this week.

The 2010 run was the last time I did a lonnnnnng run of fast fiction tales; 150 written in 150 days. One story written every day, none in reserve; one posted every day, even if that meant writing one or two very late at night so I could just scrape in before midnight.

As always, they varied between the horrendously dark – what one friend described as the ‘your mind scares me at times’ stories, some very weird tales and some, rarely I’ll admit, nicer ones.

I’ve no idea now what triggered the first story. I mean, I’ve always enjoyed playing with words, and painting a picture by description. But even so, this one is a bit… odd.

The second tale below is about as ‘realistically dystopic’ as I ever wrote. Weird, but dark; some of my favourite of the 700 or so fast fictions challenges I answered fall into that category.

But I like these two. I hope you will.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

I hope you enjoy them…


Title: Amazing Jack of Spades
Word: equivocate
Challenger: [Livejournal: hylandsdeath]
Length: 200 words exactly

The jacket was removed first, slowly but deliberately.

Next came the shirt, unbuttoned one fastening at a time, scarlet painted fingernails catching the eye as they moved down the garment. Expecting the shirt to follow the jacket onto the floor, they were surprised when she gently but expertly tossed it onto a nearby chair.

Her face was almost expressionless, slightly bored, and showing mild irritation. Either way, people weren’t overly studying her features.

Instead, every eye in the place was on her arms and legs… and torso. A tattoo was observed in silence, as was the long faint scar that could have been from an appendix removal. But still they watched intently.

She slid the short skirt down and stepped out of it, then with a sigh, took off the bra.

She pirouetted, then raised an eyebrow enquiringly at the man with the gun. Satisfied that she carried nothing hidden, he nodded and grunted what might have been an apology.

She quickly dressed and then they returned to the poker table where she’d just won the previous hand with a straight flush, jack high.

They didn’t equivocate about accusations of cheating in Deadwood, she realised as she started to deal.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


Title: Because I Said So
Word: effervescent
Challenger: [Livejournal: missymodee]
Length: 200 words exactly

The preparatory fast ended, he drank the traditional effervescent blue liquid, and then, dressed in the proper clothing, he proceeded along a metal corridor lit in noxious green.

He slowed as he approached the door. He recited the calming mantra, but it did no good; his heart was pounding, his palms sweaty. Swallowing twice, he wiped his hands against his trousers, unsurprised though dismayed at his reaction to this regular task.

He placed his right hand, no longer wet but still clammy, against the frosted glass and a door slid open, revealing a space far too small to be called a room. But it was functional and efficiently organised: one microphone and one chair.

The soft voice that invited him to sit was familiar, one he had heard all his life. It had shared his joys and his woes, and it was the only voice he needed to hear. It was The Machine.

He loved The Machine. The Machine told him to love The Machine.

And he obeyed The Machine. For The Machine told him to obey The Machine.

The Machine occasionally allowed him to believe that it was his choice to worship The Machine, however.

Even though it wasn’t.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.


Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

 I swear, I was 30seconds away from just posting a

This page left intentionally blank

post… but I really didn’t want to.

There’s no excuse for it; I hadn’t written an 1,000 word post that I’d forgotten to save before closing the composer screen. (I’ve done that before.) I just was busy today, doing stuff, and by the time it came to mine writing today’s entry… I realised I actually didn’t want to write the entry I had planned. No spoilers; not because it’s exciting but the exact opposite. But I just want to write it… when I’m in a frame of mind to enjoy doing so.

And I didn’t want to just stick another couple of ‘fiction from the vaults’ thing.

And although it isn’t… it kind of feels like cheating to put up another meme type thing just to take up the space.

So, something a bit different today. Something more along the lines of a ‘going cheep’ entry: I’m just writing and seeing where the words take me. It’ll be a lot shorter than the usual blog entries, but so be it.

(Like any other form of writing, you get used to the format and the lengths you’re accustomed to, so if I’m thinking ‘going cheep’, I automatically think of ‘a couple of hundred words’.)

The past couple of years have been rough on everyone, and there’s been enough bad news about, enough misery and horror around the world.

And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’ve been as ‘not great’ during the past eighteen months as anyone else.

But it hit me while I was writing the above, and thinking about ‘what is there to celebrate, for me personally?’ – see, I told you this was kind of free association – that I’m coming up on five years as a non-smoker.

And that kind of surprised me. Hell, it flatly astonished me. Not in a ‘don’t you know how the calendar works, budgie?‘ way, but more of a ‘I never expected to be able to write that I’d not smoked a cigarette in five years‘.

I mean, I can’t write that right now, because the anniversary isn’t for another three months. But almost five years, yeah, that I can write.

In that time, I’ve wanted a cigarette twice. On two separate occasions, and on both instances, I was with people who didn’t smoke. So it wasn’t really a case of me resisting temptation. It was more of a “huh, I’m lucky I don’t have to resist temptation, because I’m not entirely sure I’d be able to right now.”

However, it’s now over 1,700 days since I had a cigarette.

I wish I could say that it was hard; it wasn’t. It was – once I found a method that worked for me – almost embarrassingly easy. And I still vape, so it’s not like I’ve avoided the whole nicotine thing.

So, given the foregoing, I’m not entirely sure it’s something to celebrate rather than merely acknowledge. But there’s little enough to celebrate this year, so I’ll take it.

And that’s it. Nothing special, no big ideas. Just that.

 

Anyway, see you tomorrow, with… something else. 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

I long ago got used to other people not thinking that

Thing I Think Is Very Important

is, in fact Very Important, or at least not as important to them, while not exactly liking the idea.

I also, very long ago, became accustomed to me not thinking that

Thing That Other People Think Is Very Important

is, in fact, Very Important. And, at the same time, that they might be over enthusiastic at the concept.

Everyone has their own priorities, everyone has their own Red Buttons, everyone has their own Very Important Things, and a limited time in which to express their support for [Thing] or opposition to [Thing].

Now, let me state up front that I’m not talking about where me and other people take a directly opposite position, where, for example, you think that greyhound racing is an abomination and I think it’s just great. Or where I think that musical comedy is great and you think it’s awful.

No, I’m talking about where you think, say, that greyhound racing is an abomination and I just… don’t care about it that much. Because my priorities are other things, other subjects, other injustices. Or say, I think that musical comedy is great and you don’t really have an opinion; you’re just not enthusiastic about it.

It’s part of the social contract, I guess. You get to decide that something I think is Very Important.… isn’t. And I don’t fall out with you because of it.

And I get to decide that something you think is Very Important… just isn’t… and you don’t fall out with me because of that.

Could be something as trivial (and yes, I know I’m setting myself up here) as to whether Star Trek is better than Star Wars or as serious as considering that one form of bigotry (in a political party) is worth paying in order to remove another party from government.

But there has to be a line, surely? There has to be – and experience shows there is – where someone concluding that something just ain’t that important… bites, and goes over a line into ‘by not thinking it’s that important, you’re in effect supporting its continuance.’

And then we find ourselves in the very nasty area of ‘silence = consent; silence = acquiescence; silence =support‘. I don’t agree with the observation, by the way. I think there can be any number of justifiable reasons for silence, depending on the specific subject, the law, the people involved, and the larger context.

I wrote in 2016 about my contempt, however, for those who do take that argument for matters they care about but then hypocritically claim it doesn’t apply when it’s stuff they don’t care about: 2017 minus 40: Sorry? I can’t hear you…


Sidebar:When I was a financial director, I was at a function and got chatting to some of my contemporaries. The subject of our own individual staff came up and one of my companions said something like:

I don’t pay them to make mistakes.

I have to say I wasn’t the only person to object to his comment. I was just the first one to actively disagree. I think that’s bullshit. Of course you pay people to make mistakes. That’s how they learn not to make them. They make mistakes, you explain what the mistake was; they learn from the experience and don’e make the same mistake again.

Because that’s what you’re paying them for: not to make the same mistake twice.


Same thing applies in a way online. I grew up in the 1970s; attended university in the 1980s. A lot changed – for me and in the UK – between those decades and the pace of change has continued, and increased.

I’m certainly not about to do a ‘some of my best friends are…’ to excuse fuckups I’ve made from ignorance, but I\’ve been incredibly fortunate to have friends that tell me when I’ve fucked up.

Because wvery so often, a friend‘ll send a private message with “thought you should know…” or “just a heads-up, budgie, but…”, letting me know that language I used is offensive or alludes to a trope, or… no, let’s be blunt about it: letting me know I fucked up.

I’ll delete with an apology, and I try to do better in future.

At this point, someone will usually pop up to argue “it’s not your friends’ responsibility to educate you”, a position I ‘heartily agree with. If it was their responsibility, it would be an obligation. This ain’t an obligation; it’s friendship.

So, no, it’s not on my friends to educate me; it’s not their responsibility to correct me. It’s mine, & my fault. But that’s what friends do; they realise it’s a fuck up, not malice.

I’m always very, very grateful to them; their knowledge and experiences are greater than mine and I learn from them. Much the same as, hopefully, they learn from me, when I repay the favour and let them know that a phrase they’ve used in all innocence has an antisemitic origin, or alludes to an age old antisemitic trope.

And, again I’m lucky with my friends, they do the “oh, fuck? I’ve fucked up, habven’t I? Shit. Thanks, mate… I’ll delete. Appreciate the heads up…”

But what happens if they don’t?

It’s no surprise that I loathed Jeremy Corbyn, and concluded, after many months of avoiding it, that he’s both personally and politically antisemitic.

And when it came to the general elections, in 2017, and especially in 2019, I could no longer pretend the line wasn’t there, not for me.

I had to draw the line.

And I lost friends over it. (Or at least, I’d lost people I’d thought of as friends. Whether they were actually friends or not is for the philosophers to argue about.)

I had to draw the line; anyone basically taking the positions of ‘antisemitism is all a smear’ or ‘ accusations of antisemitism are all a fabrication’ or ‘we can deal with the antisemitism later’ (aka ‘it’s a price worth paying’)…? They all crossed That Line I drew. And any relationship we had until that point… ended. Permanently.

For some: their own line is ‘debating their very existence’; I’m not about to tell them their line is anything other than correct. For others it’s ‘supporting political candidates and political positions that harm me and mine’; for still others, the line is drawn very narrowly, for others it’s far broader. And all of their lines are right, all of their lines are correct.

For while, sure, anyone can tell someone else their line is ‘wrong’, you’re a dick if you do so. Because everyone draws a line somewhere, whether or not they admit it.

Remember Laura Pidcock? She gave an interview during which she said that she wouldn’t be friends, wouldn’t go drinking with, Tory MPs who voted for policies that harmed her constituents. I read the interview after people had extrapolated from her words to claim she’d said “she wouldn’t be friends with a Tory”. Except she’d never said that, and indeed she said some of her family voted Tory at the last election.

And on Twitter – of course on Twitter – it morphed into a ‘would you kiss a Tory? Would you fuck a Tory?’ Utterly ludicrous, and yet if someone wants to draw the line their, that’s their choice.

And now back to the ‘staying silent’. While I don’t agree for a moment with the “silence = consent; silence = acquiescence; silence = support”, I will grant that position one thing.

There’s an old Jewish observation about those who do or don’t turn up for a shiva, the days of memorial, usually at the house of a mourner; for a week, peopel come in and out of the house; friends, strangers, people who knew him or her, people who just want to pay their respects.

The observation: you don’t always remember who turned up, but you never forget who didn’t.

Silence has consequences, and if you’re the one who stays silent, you’d better be prepared for them.

I don’t have An Answer; I don’t think there is An Answer, beyond this, and it’s very much not a satisfactory one:

You’ve got to be able to look in the mirror without wincing. Whether it’s while shaving, or putting make-up on, or just washing your face. You’ve got to be able to look without wincing, or without wincing too hard, anyway.

And yes of course, fucking idiots and racists/homophobes/trans phones… they can all do that because a) they’re fucking idiots, and b) they’re often proud of their actions. But I’m talking about those with a moral compass I’d recognise.

Now, can I look in the mirror without wincing? No, not usually, because the face that’s looking back at me is my own and no one should have to look at that ugly mug every day. But other than the whole looks and appearance thing, can I? Mostly, yeah. Not always, and rarely completely. But mostly… yeah.

See you tomorrow, with… something else. 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

As I’ve grown older, if not wiser, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity. Silliness, even in the roughest of times, maybe especially on the worst of days, is never unimportant; a necessary break from the sheer nastiness of the absurdity in which we sometimes find ourselves.

So, after yet another week when the only sensible reaction to the news is to answer Twitter’s

‘What’s happening?’

with a hearty

how the fuck should I know?‘, I give you some much needed silliness.

Ok then…

 

John Oliver was on Sesame Street, reading the news with Cookie Monster. Which was fine. And good, I guess. And silly. Which would normally qualify it for this. If it wasn’t for the outtakes… which are just glorious and scoop the slot.

 

One of those sketches where you’re not quite sure where it’s going until three seconds before the reveal… and then it’s obvious. Clever as hell.

 

What the hell… have a Road Runner cartoon

  
 
This isn’t particularly… funny, but that’s not what this slot is for. It’s just something I smile at whenever I see it: Laurel and Hardy, in 1937’s Way Out West

 

A newer one from Mitch Benn, this week: In power? Need to show you’re doing something, even if, especially if, you’re not? Solution: Pose With A Phone

 
 
See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

[This is Part The Fourth, click on the links for Part the First, Part the Second, Part The Third, and the extra post I did about the Who theme]

OK, time for the fourth part of this run through tv themes I like, in alphabetical order.

Why am I doing it? To be fair, if you’ve read this far, you probably know. But just in case you’re new to the blog… I laid it out in detail three weeks’ back in the first part of this thing, but honestly? It’s just a bit of fun, and a longer-than-strictly-necessary answer to the question:

‘What is your favourite tv theme?’

Because as I’ve shown thus far, I don’t have one answer. I don’t even have ten. There are dozens I like, for various and different reasons.

And, I tried to narrow it down, honestly. But I couldn’t, and with equal honesty, it’s fai to acknowledge that I didn’t really want to.

So, anyway, here are another ten themes I like from my iPhone’s playlist of 150 or so. And as with last week, there’ll maybe be some that won’t surprise you, possibly one or two that might… and, hopefully, maybe one or two you weren’t aware of, or had entirely forgotten.

Anyway, here we go…


Theme 31: Laverne and Shirley

I thoroughly enjoyed Happy Days as a kid bnut I was never its biggest fan. But the first time I saw Laverne and Shirley as characters, and then saw their own show, I abolsutely loved it. Everything about it, including the very weird opening to their theme. But while there was no-one on Happy Days that I would have liked to know, would have liked to have met…

…I very much would have liked to have known Laverne and Shirley as people, even though they probably wouldn’t have thought much of me, either at the time or now.


 


Theme 32: Law & Order

I’ve chosen one of the openings from later on in the run, mainly because I liked the ensemble cast the final few seasons.

But with the exception of the pilot (which kept the same theme but had different visuals) and it being a bit shorter than the first few seasons, this is pretty much how the titles were through the run.


Theme 33: Law & Order | UK

I like the “UK” version of the show and I really like the theme tune. Very different from the US parent, but I like it a lot.


 

Amusingly, someone created an US version with the UK cast, using SVU theme and graphics. I kind of like this as well, but it’s very… odd.


Theme 34: Lost In Space

One show where the first theme the show used wasn’t the one that it became known for. Great theme, catchy as hell.


 


Theme 35: MacGyver

Oh gods, this one’s good. Nothing wrong with this one at all, except these days you watch it and cannot believe his hairstyle… But yeah, the opening, the setup, the pay-off.

Just about perfect.


 


Theme 36: Magnum P.I.

Always on the list of cracking tv themes, usually next to the A-Team. At the time, I think the final quirky eye-brows bit added to it. These days, I don’t think any visuals would have hurt. Just spot on for the show it was opening.

The only strange thing about the titles that strikes me now is the lettering. It looks… odd, somehow. And I couldn’t tell you why. It just looks like it’s from a different show entirely.


 


Theme 37: Mike Hammer

A bluesy, messy, melancholic theme for a messy, melancholic, bluesy show. With the exception, possibly, of his appearance in the Bourne movie from a few years ago, Keach was better in this than in any other thing he did. And the theme tune did what it needed: set up the show you were about to watch.


 


Theme 38: Miss Marple

I think this is basically someoen taking the original background graphics and refining the lettering. Either way, the theme is once again just about perfect for Miss Marple. Very “English garden’ with just a hint of ‘isn’t everything just a bit too perfect?’ laced in.


 


Theme 39: Murder One

I’d never seen a show like Murder One before it screened; I don’t think I’ve seen one as good since. And the titles exemplified that. Original, clever, and you’re constantly off-balance. One of only two shows that – when it was on – I actively avoided reading anytghing vent tangentially related, just in case I stumbled across a spoiler. (The other was the first season of 24)


 


Theme 40: Nationwide

A magazine tv rfegional news programme in the UK when I was a kid. The theme tune was the best thing about it, and one I actively looked for when I discovered the website with thousands of themes.


 

OK, part the fifth next week, with another ten from The New Avengers through Screen Test.

See you tomorrow, with… the usual Saturday ‘something else’.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

Once upon a time, I partook in a project called Elephant Words, where a single image would inspire multiple stories from and by multiple authors.

When I decided to honour a promise to an old friend, and write new fiction once a week for the ’57…’ run, the first week’s was based on an image I’d come across serendipitously. And since then I’ve kept an eye out for images that spark something, that provoke the storytelling parts of my brain.

So that every week, I can write something brand new, a story written for this blog that no-one’s ever seen before, sparked by an image I come across entirely by chance, usually while looking for something else entirely.

I came across the following image this morning (I was looking for images of scientific instruments), and it sparked an idea.

And this is what it sparked tonight. A very short tale, but… well, yes.


The Message

My friends. My many, many friends.

Many, many millenia ago, as the butterflies measure time, so very long before the third great age of insects on the planet, there was a human of what was then referred to as ‘science’.

His description and even his very name has long been lost to the annals of history, but the sacred scrolls of the insects say that was he who first managed true communication with the other primates littering the planet.

Centuries later, it was an ape named – according to legend – Caesar, who discovered a feasible and reproducible method of interaction with dogs, although anecdotes and tales from that age are full of references to something named “walkies”. And something else, the cruelty of which is hard to believe, but it was called “The Operation”.

Yet more time, so much time, passed before a canine named Rover had the first true conversation with a cat, but it was only a relatively short time – as both counted it, anyway – before this same cat named Tiddles initiated the first debate with a ladybird.

It took so very, very long for the ladybird’s civilisation to create a means of discussion with bacteria, but at long last, my fellow baccilli, the true rulers of the planet are revealed and ready to take their place, acknowledged by all and…

What’s that? There’s a message coming through?

From where?

And what does it say?

OK, what the hell is “a virus”?

 

© Lee Barnett, 2021

 

 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

57 plus 15: Oh, I remember that!

Posted: 1 September 2021 in 57 plus
Tags: ,

A quick post today as I’m travelling and have spent most of today dealing with… stuff, all of said stuff having to be dealt with speedily. But I didn’t want to not post anything at all.

Of all the trivial stories that do the rounds, one I very much enjoy is the ‘oh, it’s that time again’ regular sidebars about the death of old mnemonics, usually headlined by the one for the order of planets in the solar system.

Whether it’s the removal of Pluto from its status of ‘planet’, or its re-inclusion, along with newer “celestial bodies” (like Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake), we now apparently have thirteen planets in the solar system, eight ‘Planets’, and five ‘Dwarf Planets’, although to my mind, if they’re going to be called Dwarf Planets, they should abandon “Pluto” and name the five bodies Happy, Doc, Dopey, Sneezy and Grumpy.

However, generations of schoolchildren grew up learning the mnemonic for the order of the nine planets as something like “My Very Elegant Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies.”

But now we have to find a new mnemonic, to include the four extra words planets.

I kind of like the one I saw recently:

My Very Eccentric Mother Called Janet Sang Utter Nonsense Planting Hairy Moles’ Eyes.

Now that’s very easy to remember, right?

Of course, those of us with mothers named anything other than Janet are buggered.

And now I can’t resist putting up Mitch Benn’s observation re the fuss about Pluto.

(Clarification: I didn’t even try to resist.)

Mnemonics can be fun, can be silly, and often useful, and they’re quite more-ish. Totally understandable since we as a species tend to look for patterns in everything, and such patterns make it easier to remember things.

I’m unconvinced, to put it mildly that they make it easier to learn things in the first place, but they do at least make those things you have learned a tad easier to remember.

And that’s whether or not they’re the standard mnemonics so many people know or whether they’re one you devised yourself.

Way back when, when I was studying company law as part of my accountancy training, there was something called a company’s Memorandum of Association. Think of it as the company’s implicit contract with the outside world; it tells the outside world – who can look at it if they want to, whenever they want to – how the company is set up, how it runs, and – in theory – what the company can and equally importantly what it cannot do.

(Even further back, companies were supposed to be set up for one or two major purposes: to build trains, or to manufacture drills, say. And that purpose would be shown in their ‘Objects Clause’. That changed decades back, though, and companies for tyhat long have usually had a sub-clause saying the company can do whatever the hell it likes if the company believes it’ll benefit the company, as long as it’s legal.)

Anyways, the various clauses of the memorandum were, in order:

  • Name Clause – formal name of the company
  • Registered Office – where it formally lives, and can get legal notices delivered to
  • Objects Clause – what it can do
  • Liability Clause – what liability the shareholders are limited to
  • Capital Clause – total capital of the company
  • Association Clause – everyone signing wants to be be part of the company
  • Subscription Clause – names/addresses of first shareholders.

My lecturer insisted that everyone create their own mnemonic. For some reason, I came up with

Nancy Reagan’s Other Lover Can’t Act or Sing.

And that I came up with that, I suspect, tells you far more about me than it does my lecturer. That I still remember it clearly tells you even more.

At school, we learned Some Old Hairy Camels Are Hairer Than Other Animals, though I actually prefer just the straight SOHCAHTOA as a word.
Sine = Opposite/Hypotenuse; Cosine = Adjacent/Hypotenuse; Tangent = Opposite/Adjacent

Same with colours of the rainbow. Remembering the ‘word’ ROYGBIV always seemed to make more sense to me than having to learn Richard Of York Gave

And then of course there’s the classic accountancy one for remembering which side of the ledger – left or right – is Debit and which Credit, which generations of students in lecture halls have learned as “Debit is the door side, and Credit’s by the window.” (I’ve long assumed that all accountancy lecture halls are identically designed for this reason.)

See you tomorrow, with… the usual Thursday ‘something else’. 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

It’s Tuesday, so of course you get a couple of more ‘fiction from the vaults’ posts, two more from 2010 this time.

The 2010 run was the last time I did a lonnnnnng run of fast fiction tales; 150 written in 150 days. One story written every day, none in reserve, one posted every day, even if that meant writing one or two very late at night so I could just scrape in before midnight.

As always, they varied between the horrendously dark – what one friend described as the ‘your mind scares me at times’ stories, some very weird tales and some, rarely I’ll admit, nicer ones.

Here are two that definitely, I think, belong to the ‘weird’ category. The first a bit silly, with a fun final line, and a bit… odd. The second a tad more serious, but still definitely weird; two stories where I hope you don’t see the ending coming.

But I like these two. I hope you will.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

I hope you enjoy them…


Title: Died Of Fright
Word: earlobe
Challenger: [Livejournal: LunaTinx]
Length: 200 words exactly

The earwig had obviously died in excruciating circumstances; the look of panic on its features gave testament to that.

I’d gotten the call via the grapevine; a stoolie heard the news, climbed the vines The Human put up years back, and found me by the rock I’d crawled to last night, sleeping off the stagnant water from the previous day.

And now we had a murder. OK, put like that, it’s damn stupid. There are millions of murders every day, but this one looked like to be other than from hunger. Besides, whoever killed the earwig was an ignorant speciest; they’d scrawled “earlobe nibbler” on a nearby leaf.

I got there as fast as I could; it only took me three and a half days. My partner was already there.

Every time I see him, I wince; Fifty times my size, the personality is enough to put most creatures off, but he holds a unique position in our society: hunted by the Humans and a hunter among ourselves.

There are eight hundred billion creatures in the naked gardens.

Somewhere in the grass, or the earth, or the farms, someone has a story.

My name’s Friday. I ride with a badger.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


Title: Just A Flesh Wound
Word: skillet
Challenger: Al Kennedy
Length: 200 words exactly

When he arrived home from work that evening to find them outside his place, waiting for him, he’d been so surprised, he’d almost cursed.

Almost.

But seventeen years: a third of his life, or nearly, anyway. It had taken them that long to track him down.

He’d had close calls before, of course; a skillet merchant had once recognised him, though he didn’t know how; he was clean-shaven and had darkened his hair.

He’d sworn the trader to secrecy, but, well, things happen. And it could have been anyone, via threat or alcohol, that had a loose tongue; he didn’t know, and didn’t care. However it had happened, it had happened.

As he approached his dwelling, any faint thought that the newcomers weren’t there for him vanished as he then spotted two other men obviously trying to be inconspicuous, so obviously failing miserably.

He resisted the temptation to look down at his hands, resisted the temptation to do a lot of things, but sighed, closed his eyes and concentrated on his decision; when he opened them, it was to see the guards calmly leaving.

He’d once been denied three times. After that, He’d learned how to do it convincingly Himself.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.


Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

#IAmAnIdiot

It’s a useful hashtag, my occasional entirely self-deprecating ‘I is a idiot’ on Twitter notwithstanding. But it can mean so many different things.

Obviously, as with most hashtags, I can’t say that the first time I saw it was the first time it was used, but the first time I saw it used, well, it sticks in the memory.

A British comedian, a fairly well-known, fairly successful one then, a better known, and more successful now, comedian… made an arse of himself.

He credulously repeated an urban myth about Orthodox Jews, apparently in all innocence. To say that it was surprising is to understate it, That he repeated it was jaw-dropping.

His Jewish friends, his more educated non-Jewish friends, pretty much everyone. fell upon him with the weight of several tonnage of bricks.

And he apologised, Instantly. With a full, unreserved, completely and entirely self-excoriating apology. No self-serving ‘if I offended…’, none of the ‘I merely repeated…’

No, this was a full blown “I fucked up, I was gullible, I am an idiot.

It was the last bit that made me remember it so strongly.

I mean, I was asked about it at the time. (I didn’t know the comedian then, personally. New his work, but didn’t know him. I got to know him later, and it was a pleasure to discover that I liked him as well as his material.)

I remember being shocked by the credulity, and impressed by the apology, both its speed and completeness, but especially by the “I am an idiot”. I accepted it as heartfelt and genuine. I’ve never had occasion since to doubt either.

#IAmAnIdiot.


Sidebar: what I’m about to write about isn’t the usually humorous self-deprecation when someone explains something to me that makes perfect sense when it’s explained but that I’d never thought about before.

Example. The rules for election broadcast coverage of elections in the UK. There’s a broadcast rule that, well, as they put it, in 2015:

I knew the rules existed, but I was puzzled as to why it started at midnight-30, not at 12 o’clock precisely.

It was explained to me: it allows the broadcast media to run their midnight news, reporting on the final day of campaigning.

I thanked the person who’d explained it to me and added “I am an idiot”. It was self-deprecating and everyone understood it as that, nothing more.

That’s not what I’m talking about here.


#IAmAnIdiot.

Occasionally, I fuck up online.

No, let me restate that. Occasionally I realise I’ve fucked up, online. No, that’s not it either.

OK, Occasionally both me and the person who tells me I’ve fucked up both agree that I’ve fucked up.

Yeah, that’s better.

Now I’m not talking about being wrong about something. That happens all the time. If you’ve any sense, and any reserves of personal integrity, you correct the record and the matter’s closed.

Here’s one.

I’m not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn. Anyone who’s followed me on Twitter or read this blog will know that.

But I’ve never understood the need for disprovable, easily or otherwise, by independent third party evidence, allegations. I made a statement about him. I was shown it was incorrect in one aspect: the date I’d said the specific thing happened occurred. I immediately withdrew the tweet, and amended it, correcting the date.

I was wrong. I corrected my error. I wasn’t an idiot. I was just… wrong.

Here’s an entirely harmless but memorable I am an idiot. When I was a young child, our primary school had a local theatre group in to give a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Afterwards, there was a Q&A session. Apparently I asked in all seriousness what the medicine was that they’d given Titania to make her sleep as my kid brother wouldn’t sleep at night.

They kindly explained that it was called acting.

I was an idiot. I was very young. But yeah, I was an idiot.

Here are two more examples where I was an idiot. of what I mean with “I am an idiot”, one long before Twitter existed, one on Twitter; one entirely harmless and silly, one less so.

For a while, that same kid brother lived on Bermuda. He was learning his trade as a hairdresser, and took a job on the island to spread his wings a bit and to hone his skills with different types of hair; he was there for a year or so.

During this self-imposed exile, I visited him and we were hit by a tropical storm. I don’t think there was a causal relationship but who knows?

Anyway, we were hit by a storm. It wasn’t pleasant; it was even a bit scary. The following day, when the storm had passed, we went to the beach to have a look at the damage and enjoy the lack of, y’know, wind and rain. The beaches on Bermuda are gloriously soft, and your feet sink a couple of inches into them. That should have been my first clue in retrospect.

On the beach was a boulder the side of a small car. Not huge enough to be a truck, nor a house… but yeah, the size of a small car. It wasn’t small.

I was flabbergasted. I mean, I knew the winds had been strong but to dump a rock that size on the beach, And I expressed this astonishment to my brother… who started laughing.

I turned around to discover my brother hugging his sides with laughter, trying in vain to restrain tears of laughter.

Yeah, you just got there a second before I did: the winds hadn’t dumped the rock on the beach; the winds had stripped away the sand surrounding the rock.

Again, something I freely admit and have no problem with. I was an idiot.

Here’s one that’s less harmless. Where I was an idiot with what could have had serious consequences. No excuses, no self-serving oops: I was an idiot.

I’m not a fan of the journalist Peter Hitchens. While he’s smart, I wouldn’t deny it, I disagree with almost everything he believes, and promotes. And it would probably be best to leave it there.

Because once I didn’t.

He’d said something online that so angered me that I did something… unwise. What he’d said was so extreme, so anger inducing, that I mischievously wondered to myself whether he’d said something in the past that contradicted it. And, knowing Hitchens’ style, if he’d done so, it wouldn’t be a mild contradiction; it would be full blown.

And, delightfully, I found it. I discovered a piece from him not only directly contradicting himself, but saying that anyone who thought otherwise was an idiot. So I screenshot the contradiction and tweeted it.

Except…

Except that what I’d found was from a parody site. And I made a damn fool of myself. Publicly.

I retracted it, obviously. I apologised to him directly, and apologised in a separate tweet. (Give the man credit; he was graciousness itself when he accepted the apology and said publicly that he considered the mater closed.)

But yeah, that was stupid of me. I was an idiot, and not in a funny way, not in a good way, in a way that could have left me open to defamation proceedings.

OK, so if you’re wrong on Twitter, if you’re an idiot, how do you apologise? How do you set the record straight? I mean, how do you do it right?

There are umpteen ways of doing it badly. Deleting the original tweet, and blocking anyone who raises the subject. seems to be the current favourite. Or there’s hooking your apology on to an entirely irrelevant tweet from the person you’ve fucked over. That way you can claim you’ve apologised but no one ever sees it. Or there’s deleting it, brazening it out and claiming anyone who raises it is ‘weaponising’ the issue.

But how do you do it right? There were, for a long time, three fairly well accepted ways of doing it.

  1. Delete the original tweet, put out a new tweet obliquely referring to it without detail and issuing a form apology.
  1. Delete the original tweet, put out a new tweet retracting what you said and apologising, with an attached screenshot of the original tweet.
  1. Quote tweet the original tweet with an “I was wrong to tweet this; apologies.”

None of these ever seemed to be a good method to me. With option 1, you look like you’re trying to do the very minimum necessary and also like you’re hiding the original offence, pretending you did nothing wrong.

With the final two, you merely encourage (and it often seems this is the reason for it) others to repeat something you know if false. Because with 2., they just grab the screenshot and use that, and with 3., the original tweet continues being retweeted and QT’d, while you can say ‘oh no! Look what is happening! This is a very bad thing…‘ and pretend you’re upset at it.

The solution is pretty obvious, so obvious that one wonders why more don’t do it, and one is further forced to conclude that it’s deliberate.

That solution? Grab a screenshot, and overlay a watermark, like the attached.

That seems to work, and it’s what I’ll do if the situation requires it.


OK, one more thing to end on. One more “I was an idiot” story from my past that’s still relevant, and one more story I genuinely enjoy telling against myself.

OK, no one reading this is unaware I’ve got a fucked-up foot. When it became a fucked-up foot, the doctor prescribed fairly strong painkillers, which I still take. (At some point I’ll need a major op on the foot, but until then, the painkillers do their job, mostly.)

However, when I first started taking them, these powerful opioids, I was… worried, concerned, wary about… no, damit, I was scared shitless that I’d become addicted to them. And, after three months, I was getting more scared.

I spoke to the young lady I was then seeing, who happened to work as a drugs counsellor. She reassured me:

Of course you’ll become addicted to them; they’re addictive.

Ok, maybe ‘reassured me’ wasn’t the right verb. However, she then attempted to reassure me properly, by explaining the difference between being addicted to something and having an actual addition… “problem”.

Look, first off, I’m a drugs worker. I’ll know you’ve got a problem long before you know it…OK, I’ll tell you what I tell my clients: if you’re worried, find a day where you ‘need’ to take all eight tablets and take seven. See if you ‘live’ for the tablet you don’t take.

That made sense to me, and a couple of weeks later, I did exactly that. For three days. My foot was on fire and I took only seven tablets not six. And oh gods did I lived for that other tablet.

So it was with trepidation that I told her what had happened.

And she… laughed at me. Pretty much about as much as my brother had about the rock on the beach.

I wasn’t amused. But then she explained.

I thought you were supposed to be smart, she said. Of course I don’t tell my clients that. I told you that to prove a point. Don’t you get it? If you had a problem, you’d have taken the other pill. You’d have made every excuse to me, to others, to yourself, but you’d have taken the eighth pill. You stuck to seven not eight… merely because a friend told you to.

I was an idiot. In a good way, but yeah I was an idiot.

(Not for nothing, but the fear of losing control of the addiction remains. And years later, still on them, my GP and I discuss the matter three times a year, so that we’re both certain i) I still need the painkillers and ii) I’m not abusing them.)


So what have we learned?

I am an idiot.

No, what have we learned?

That I am an idiot, and that that’s ok… most of the time.

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

I’ve done a couple of these already, the

‘nothing much to write about today; yes, there is stuff I want to write about about but I haven’t got my thoughts in order yet, so here’s something about several things…’

posts, and since I’m in that frame of mind today, some thoughts on three things that are in my head right now.

By the way, the things I want to write about? Here’s just a smattering, if nothing else to put them down, so I know I’ve got to write the posts sooner or later

    a review of David Baddiel’s book Jews Don’t Count. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that I thought it was excellent and almost perfect. I’ve a couple of issues with it, which I’ll discuss in the review, which will come at some point
    a look back at two years of Boris Johnson’s two years as Prime Minister. While a huge chunk of that period has covered Brexit and the covid response, he’s fucked up other things as well.
    something about comedy
    something about the comics I’ve been reading
    Something about the comics I’ve been rereading
    …and something about the mouth organ

Anyway, now that those are out of the way… Ah, if only making a to do list was the same as completing the items on a to do list. Something for a future iteration of iOS to fix.

Anyways…

Appearances
I’m not good looking. Let’s get that out of the way straight away. And no, this isn’t fishing for compliments, ok? I’m well resigned to looking… ok.

I mean, I’m not horrible looking; I don’t look like something the love child of Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Bill Sienkiewicz would have come up with, but — checks in the mirror — yeah, it’s not great. By which I mean, like the difference between ‘not liking something’ on the one hand, and ‘disliking something’ on the other, I don’t think I’m actively bad looking; I’m just not good looking.

I look… ok. There’s not much I actively like about my appearance. But I’ll openly acknowledge that, the past few decades, with the exception of the colour changing, I’ve quite liked my hair.

Three months’ back, the following tweet went a bit viral.

Lots of people proffered their replies. Now my dad was a hairdresser and I was half way through writing my own response when something hit me about what I was writing.

Because what I was about to write was:

Free haircuts.

But what occurred to me was that the biggest advantage I gained from my dad being a hairdresser wasn’t free haircuts but the absence of something. I gained a far more important perk that was the big one:

I never thought of haircuts as anything to be scared of, or worried about.

And it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised how many are scared or worried by them.

And, I guess, because of how I grew up, getting a haircut is just something I do… and – notwithstanding some of the more embarrassing photos from the annual A Life In Pictures – I kind of like how the hair looks.

Of course, drop half a centimetre below the hair – both inside and outside the skull – and it all goes to hell. But there’s not a lot I can do about that, or at least, not a lot I’m prepared to do about that.

(A decade ago, while on holiday I went to a spa, and had massages, a manicure, a pedicure, the works. While you couldn’t pay me to have another massage – I really disliked the experience – I glance down at the mess that is my feet and think I could do with another pedicure…)

Molesworth
As with so many things, I was introduced to St Custards and its most notorious denizen, one Nigel Molesworth, by my brother. It was very much a ‘here, read this, you’ll love it’, and as was so often the case when Michael said that, he was right.

I can’t honestly say that I was first aware of Searle from Moelsworth, though. I had some collections of cartoons as a kid, and I remember seeing his drawings of St Trinians and kids on ponies… but when Mike gave me How To Be Topp, I fell in love with the world created by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle. I’ve probably in the intervening years read everything I could about Molesworth, and featuring Molesworth and anything that even barely mentions Molesworth.

Or so I thought.

Until yesterday… when I discovered that Molesworth’s diaries, originally published in Punch, from 1939 – 1942, have been collected and republished as The Lost Diaries. And, writer friends of mine, my heartfelt apologies, but I genuinely can’t remember the last time I was so looking forward to reading anything.

And now I’m going to get the chance.

Oh, and while looking for other Molesworth stuff, I came across this. Hmm. I’m not convinced, but I’m certainly willing to be.

Back to normal…?
Things don’t feel ”back to normal’ yet, not even close, and I wish I knew why. I mean, yes, obviously, covid is still around – yesterday the UK reported over 30,000 new cases, and 133 deaths – but most of the restrictions have lifted, there’s not much I can’t do if I a) want to, and b) can afford to.

But the idea of doing many of them… well, it’s not exactly enthusiasm I’m feeling.

I can now go to the cinema if I want to. I even found myself the other day in a cinema foyer looking at the movies showing, and there were two or three I did in fact want to see. And yet, I turned around and walked out. Something stopped me buying a ticket, and it wasn’t the cost.

I miss live comedy like so many of my friends miss going to see live music. And yet, with one exception when it returns, I’m finding myself reluctant to actually buy a ticket to go and see live comedy. And again, it’s not because I can’t afford the ticket, nor that I hugely enjoy watching comedy on a screen. I want to see live comedy and yet… something stops me going to see it.

I miss seeing friends for coffee and yet I haven’t invited anyone out for coffee since the pandemic hit.

I miss seeing my friends… and yet with the exception of seeing my ex-wife and our son (when he’s home) and visiting my closest friends who were my social bubble when such things existed… I haven’t.

Things aren’t back to normal, not even close. ‘Back to normal’ isn’t even viewable through the Hubble Space Telescope.

And the longer it goes on, the stronger the feeling hits me, and hurts me, that it really, really should be.

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

As I’ve grown older, if not wiser, I’ve come to appreciate silliness as one of the best, the most superlative, things about humanity. Silliness, even in the roughest of times, maybe especially on the worst of days, is never unimportant; a necessary break from the sheer nastiness of the absurdity in which we sometimes find ourselves.

So, after yet another week when the only sensible reaction to the news is to answer Twitter’s

‘What’s happening?’

with a hearty

how the fuck should I know?‘, I give you some much needed silliness.

Ok then…

 

Reaching back almost sixty years for this one… 1964’s original One Leg Too Few. Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore somehow managing not to corpse throughout.

 
 

After Sesame Street did their Law & Order tribute, I suppose it was only a matter of time before they’d do a CSI one… so here’s their CSI: Rhyme Scene Investigators

 

Somehow, the ‘one liner’ has come back into fashion the past few years. Stuart Francis and Gary Delaney are both superb, but I think it was Milton Jones who started its comeback as an art form. And here he is, being very very Milton Jones.

  
 
Gag reels proliferate. I still think it was a pretty genius move for Pixar to do outtakes though…

 

Here’s Mitch Benn, with a very – to my mind – sensible attitude towards life.

 
 
See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

[This is Part The Third of this series within the run; click on the links for Part the First, Part the Second, and the ‘extra’ post about Who]

OK, time for the third part of this run through tv themes I like, in alphabetical order.

Why am I doing it? Well, I laid it out in detail in the first part of this thing, two weeks ago, but honestly? It’s just a bit of fun and a longer-than-strictly-necessary answer to the question:

‘What is your favourite tv theme?’

Because I don’t have one answer. I don’t even have ten. There are dozens I like, for various and different reasons.

Look, I tried to narrow it down, honest I did.

But I couldn’t, and, equally honestly, I didn’t really want to.

So, anyway, here are another ten themes I like from my iPhone’s playlist of 150 or so. And as with last week, there’ll be some that won’t surprise you, possibly one or two that might… and, again, just maybe one or two you weren’t aware of, or had entirely forgotten.

Anyway, here we go…

Theme 21: Falcon Crest

We ended up with Dallas last week, and now we have what, to my mind, is the best of the rest, the best theme tune of the 1980s blockbuster evening soap operas. From the opening bars, it says ‘this is big’, and the rest of the opening titles show it as well. (Not for nothing, I always liked the show as well; something about how the goodies were never quite that selfless, but the baddies were out and out pantomime villains who usually – but not always – thought themselves the heroes.

I read years later that it was written as the anti-Waltons, and given that it was created by the same fella who did that show – Earl Hamner Jr – I can’t altogether blame him.


 


Theme 22: Fame

One of those themes that from the first seconds you not only know what’s playing, you’re glad to hear it. A pretty much perfect setup for the show you’re going to watch, the theme had several versions over the years, and I’ve a personal preference for the earlier cast, but to be honest, they were all great.


 


Theme 23: The Family Ness

I’d say this is a guilty secret but it’s no such thing. I’ve no idea what the show was like, to be honest; I never watched it. But I love this theme tune more than is appropriate for a grown adult. There’s just nothing wrong with it at all.


 


Theme 24: Follyfoot

This is from a show I barely remember as a kid. Not quite true; I remember the set up and the characters, including one lad who was supposed to be a ‘bad boy’ but it was very much a 1970s kids’ show, so not that bad. But the storylines? The main story, the relationships between the characters? Nope. Hardly any of that.

But wow that theme tune. Very different to anything else at the time, and I remember it very fondly.


 


Theme 25: Good Omens

One of the few very modern shows in the whole list, for several reasons. For a start, so many shows these days have 10 or 20 second ‘sting’ and then they run the episode, while overlaying the opening credits. It’s a pity; I – pretty obviously – miss the days when shows had proper minute long opening titles.

The other reason this show is in here is because I really like them. the theme is glorious, the animation is fun, and the combination is glorious.


 


Theme 26: Grandstand

One of the most recognisable of British sports tv themes in history. In part because effectively the same theme, with various arrangements, was used for decades, and because there was bugger all else to watch on a Saturday afternoon.

Again, a theme that’s perfect for its genre; this is so obviously about sports that it barely needs saying.


 


Theme 27: Hawaii Five O

Every so often, someone will be introduced with “and here’s someone who needs no introduction… but I’m going to deliver one anyway.”

Here’s the single theme that, possibly only Mission: Impossible and Doctor Who apart, is the single theme that genuinely needs no introduction. So I’m not giving it one.


 


Theme 28: Hill Street Blues

One of the first US tv themes that became A Thing. Very different to anything else that had done the rounds; it was gentle, and clever, and told you from the first moment: this isn’t Starsky & Hutch, this isn’t Kojak, this is something… different. It felt like a family show, which it shouldn’t have. It was a cop show. And yet the opening worked superbly for the show.


 


Theme 29: JAG

I’m a sucker for military based theme tunes, marches. Honestly, I am… you’re gonna see that in a later week as well. JAG‘s is just about perfect, and does exactly what it’s supposed to. The first season’s opening titles seemed almost embarrassed that it was a show about military law, but later seasons’ titles were confident enough to show it was at least partly set in a courtroom.

Always slightly bugged me that The Last Ship didn’t have a military based theme; was about all that was wrong with the show. But yeah, JAG got it right. And it’s a pretty good alarm tone on your phone as well.


 


Theme 30: Joe 90

It’s always puzzled me why there hasn’t been a live action remake of Joe 90. The original? Yeah, I enjoyed it as a kid, but I suspect that if I watched it now, I’d wince at it in a way I don’t at Thunderbirds. But the theme is great; just odd enough to keep you interested and wanting to know more.


 

 

OK, part the fourth next week, with another ten from Laverne and Shirley (yes, really) through one of those shows I bet hardly anyone reading this will remember: Nationwide.

See you tomorrow, with… the usual Saturday ‘something else’.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

Once upon a time, I partook in a project called Elephant Words, where a single image would inspire multiple stories from and by multiple authors.

When I decided to honour a promise to an old friend, and write new fiction once a week for the ’57…’ run, the first week’s was based on an image I’d come across serendipitously. And since then I’ve kept an eye out for images that spark something, that provoke the storytelling parts of my brain.

So that every week, I can write something brand new, a story written for this blog that no-one’s ever seen before, sparked by an image I come across entirely by chance, usually while looking for something else entirely.

I came across the following image the other day, and this sparked the merest gem of an idea, about enjoying a sunset alone, because there’s no one else to enjoy it with.

And here’s what the idea became.


A Watercolour Sunset

To my certain knowledge, I am the last intelligent being left on the planet. And I will be gone. Soon, maybe.

Once, long ago, when the skies were blue, and the oceans still free from poisons, there had been billions of humans, trillions of animals, and many many more smaller creatures. There had even been viruses once.

But no longer. Only I and maybe the bacteria remain.

I have lived long enough to know that my home will never again support sentient life as I know it. And, after I have gone, whatever evolves here in the next few billion years will be unrecognisable to those who once thrived upon this once blue, now dark ochre, planet.

They left, you see. So very long ago, they left in their ships and their craft and their matter transporters and the like. Only I remain. PZ, the last of them called me. Pat Zero before that. And originally, Patient Zero. I had another name once. I must have had, surely? I came across a word written on a sign in a language I no longer recognise. The letters were unfamiliar to me, now, after so long. I think one was called an E, another a T. And a third was a strange symbol, round with a small tail attached.

Maybe one of them was in the name my parents called me. Parents. Such an odd concept to me now. I had parents, didn’t I? I must have had. I no longer remember them. Or anyone else; they’re just a blur, like the sunset. Colours smeared into each other.

The Disease, it was called. Just that. No fancy names, no popular designation, no code. Just ‘The Disease’. There wasn’t time to name it, you see. Half of humanity, more than half the animal life on the planet, dead within weeks. Governments fell, societies decayed. And eventually, they left. They all left. So very long ago that I can now no longer remember quite when. Or precisely how. But I remember why. I always remember why.

And, when they’d gone, I remained. And still I remain, both here and alive.

Whatever it was that transformed me into the carrier of the most deadly influenza in recorded history also made me essentially immortal. I haven’t aged in several centuries. That much I know from the diaries I kept before I gave up on them decades ago. Or maybe centuries. Or maybe millenia. Or maybe months. I’m not sure, you see. It’s been a very long time.

I actually tried speaking a little while ago. After some abortive and very painful attempts I stopped. Whether my body was too unused to it, or I’d forgotten how, I don’t know. Or at least I think I don’t know. Memories become vague and ephemeral after so long, you see. Oh, and I tried writing proper words yesterday. Or the day before. Or several weeks ago. I know it was when I saw a glorious sunset, just like the one tonight. Maybe it was earlier tonight I tried writing. It might have been tonight.

It’s such a beautiful sunset. Maybe my last. But then I thought that yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before…

I am ready for death. I’ve been ready for death since they left.

Sometimes, just before I sleep, I wonder whether they did leave. Whether the vague and faint images of their departure, like watercolours caught in a rain shower, are my imagination instead of memory. That’s when I cry, grateful that no one can see me. And then I cry more, because there’s no one left to see me. At least I think I cry. I hope I do.

No. They must have gone, and the skeletons I see everywhere, on land, in the ocean, are just those they left behind. Surely humanity survives, out there, somewhere.

One day, I’ll travel again. I’ll visit new places, and see yet more skeletons, ages old. And I’ll look up into a different sky. And hope that someone, anyone, is looking back.

© Lee Barnett, 2021

 

 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

When I kicked off ’57 minus’, nine weeks ago… wait, nine weeks ago? I mean, I would ask the hell it was nine weeks ago, but I long ago got used to my son replying ‘that’s how the calendar works, dad‘, which also reminds how much an error it was that they banned us sticking children up chimneys.

Anyways, as I was saying… when I kicked off ’57 minus’ nine weeks ago, I wrote in the introductory piece:

Finally in this list of stuff you didn’t need to know about me: there are things I genuinely regret not doing. Rarely, however, are they The Big Things that people are supposed to regret: lost loves, lost opportunities in life, that one person you passed in the street, never spoke to, but have thought about every day for years…

I wish I’d learned to use a slide rule; somehow never got around to it. I wish I’d paid attention during history classes at school, but then I’d have missed the joy in later life of discovering how much fun history can be. I wish I’d never had to study geogarphy at any point in my schooling; I consider it time entirely wasted. Not once in my adult life have I been asked what an isthmus is. I have a mouth organ, purchased by friends of mine after I said I’d like to learn to play it. I never have learned to play it, and I really should do something about that.

And while there has been movement in relation to something above – more about that at the end of this post – I thought I’d develop the sentiment a bit today.

Because while they are very definitely not The Big Things (jobs, loves, places), they are genuine things I regret while not regretting them enough to have done anything about it before now.

So, four things that I semi-seriously regret not learning, skills I’m only semi-trivially sorry I never too up the opportunity to gain. And that’s the important bit, to me: I had the opportunity. I was offered the chance to learn all of the things below, and I declined them, for one reason or another.

OK, yes, I’ll acknowledge that there’s a case to be made that the same reason exists for all of the refusals: hashtag I Is A Idiot. I don’t altogether agree with that position, but I’d struggle to come up with a decent argument against it.

Oh, by the at, a friend, on hearing about the items you’re about to read, identified a common theme. I think she was kidding, but I’m not entirely sure: she suggested that there’s a definite ‘sliding things two dimensionally’ commonality.

Judge for yourselves.

Slide Rule
First one’s easy, since it’s explicitly mentioned above. My late brother used a slide rule. I’m not entirely sure why he used a slide rule, nor what he used it for, since pocket calculators were around (just) when he left school in 1978 and went to Sixth Form. It may be that he’d been shown how to use one and… just liked using it. But I clearly remember his slide rule, can picture him using it, and at some point he asked his younger brother by five years or so – me – if he’d like to learn how to use it.

And I said no.

And I honestly, and genuinely, regret saying no. Not because I’d now know how to use a slide rule… well, not only that. But because, as longer term readers know, my brother died twenty-three years ago, in 1998. And, I’ll not lie, it would be kind of nice to have yet another good memory of yet another skill he taught me, to go along with ‘how to drink scotch’, ‘how to drive’, and how to play backgammon.

Learning how to use a slide rule is something I may do something about at some point, as I honestly would like to know how to use one. But if I do, the skill will always come along with the knowledge that I could have had the skill a quarter century ago, and have the memory of Michael teaching me to go along with it.

Shorthand
A skill that would definitely have been useful, both at university and in my professional accountancy studies, not to mention the number of board meetings I attended as an accountant, and the meetings where shorthand would have been invaluable.

And I had the opportunity to learn it when I was 18, just before I went to university. My aunt was a secretary and knew Pitman shorthand. She claimed – and I certainly had no reason to disbelieve her – that she was very good at it, being able to take dictation at normal speaking speed, and offered some months before I went to Manchester Polytechnic to teach me the basics of shorthand, so that my lecture notes would be more accurate and so I’d be less likely to miss out important stuff than if I transcribed my hastily written usual scrawl.

And I said no.

Unlike with the slide rule, I remember why I said no. It was the last summer before I went to uni, and I had a girlfriend, kind of. But I certainly had friends that I wanted to spend as much time as possible with before we all went out separate ways, to universities all over the country.

Remember that this was before the advent of social media, before everyone had mobile phones and when staying in touch meant mostly letters with the occasional very expensive telephone call from the halls of residence call box.

So I said no.

And this is one I genuinely regret but that there’s absolutely no point at all in learning now. Which of course doesn’t mean that I won’t think about doing something about it soon.

Abacus
Another one where there are plenty of iPhone which I could stuck on my phone and learn to use on there. But that’s not the same, is it? I quite fancy buying an abacus and learning to use it.

I really do. But I almost certain won’t. Again, I was offered the chance to learn how to use one quite some time ago, by a friend who used it to do quick maths calculations.

And I said no.

She said it was incredibly easy to learn but maybe that’s why I never bothered,.. I don’t know. That’s hardly the excuse I can use for either of the preceding items, now, is it?

OK, and now I type the words on the screen, I actually do want to learn how to use an abacus.

OK, this one shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The mouth organ, or harmonica
Oh dear, I’ve actually run out of time today.

There will be sometghing about the mouth organ coming up very soon, I promise.

The word ‘decade’ and the name ‘Mark Watson’ are relevant here, and will be more relevant in a future post.

Meanwhile… see you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

It’s Tuesday, so of course you get a couple of more ‘fiction from the vaults’ posts, both from 2010 this time.

The 2010 run was the last time I did a lonnnnnng run of fast fiction tales; 150 written in 150 days. One story written every day, none in reserve, one posted every day, even if that meant writing one or two very late at night so I could just scrape in before midnight.

As always, they varied between the horrendously dark – what one friend described as the ‘your mind scares me at times’ stories, some very weird tales and some, rarely I’ll admit, nicer ones.

Here are two that definitely, I think, belong to the ‘weird’ category. A touch of darkness, but definitely weird; two stories where I hope you don’t see the ending coming.

But I like these two. I hope you will.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

I hope you enjoy them…


Title: Raindrops on Leaves
Word: darkness
Challenger: [Livejournal: culf]
Length: 200 words exactly

The foyer of the holo-recreation area looks pretty swish. But then it would, wouldn’t it?

I wonder, as I’ve done before, what’s real, but I chicken out of touching anything to check. I’m pretty sure they rely on that: everyone being too self-conscious in front of the other patrons.

I turn around slowly, looking at the other customers. It has never actually occurred to me before, but how many of them are real? And how many of them are wondering the same thing about me?

I hear my name called and saunter over to the reception desk, sliding my hand over the reader, paying for my entrance.

There’s a brief hum.

I arrive in the darkness of a suburban garden; it’s raining, soft gentle rain.

And there’s a tree.

At least they all think it’s a tree – it’s apparently the best the technicians could design, based upon old images from lots of family videos archaeologists had recovered.

Brown wood with a green covering, now soaking wet from the rain. Can you imagine what this must have been like back in the day?

A representation of real wood: never fails to impress me.

Apparently, it’s from the type called gardinus shed.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


Title: Without A Heart
Word: perfection
Challenger: [Livejournal: bertobi]
Length: 200 words exactly

I wish I could cry. It would show that I genuinely regret the events that occurred so many years ago.

However, I don’t cry. I tell people I’m sorry, but I don’t think they believe me.

She was popular, incredibly so among the peoples of our land. She may have been precocious, she was certainly disrespectful of authority. But, as she would undoubtedly have argued, when the authority doesn’t deserve respect, why offer it?

It took me years to discover that lesson, and to actually care about others; Well, I say years; that’s not true. It took me moments, after years of not caring. Not apathy exactly; that implies a disinterest. In my case, it had never occurred to me to care.

My actions had consequences, and in all those years, that had never bothered me.

Until she came along.

Well, she and our companions. When she suggested I needed a heart, I considered her suggestion, found it elegant in its perfection, and obtained one: hers.

It seemed logical at the time.

With his new brain, the taller of our companions spun her sudden disappearance by saying she’d gone home.

I’m so sorry, Dorothy… I hope you’d believe that.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.


Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

[This isn’t really part of the Ten Things tv themes I’m doing on Fridays; you’ll see why in a moment. But for the first two parts of that, click here for here for Part the First of that run, and here for Part the Second.]

This could, I guess, be called

57 plus 06: Ten, no wait, Sixty TV themes I like… Part the Second and a half’th

But that’s pushing the titles of the posts a bit, even for me.

Because I’ve just hit the D’s in my run through tv themes I like, and the final theme tune I put in Part the Second was that of Dallas. And Part The Third starts with Falcon Crest.

And I need to create an additional entry to the blog, because there’ll be a theme tune you’ll not only expect to see, you’ll be fairly, and correctly, astonished that it’s not there.

Because it should be there. But it can’t be there.

Look, I’m in a bit of a bind here. Because I do love the theme tune; not only is one of my all time favourite tv themes, it’s also generally acknowledged as one of the best tv theme tunes ever… no matter which version.

And there’s the rub.

Because although I’ve my own personal favourite, it’s the single tv theme where I just can’t pick one version of it and say ‘yeah, that’ll do.’

You know what’s coming, right?

Of course you do.

Dun-dun-dun-dun… dun-dun-dun-dun… dun-dun-dun-dun…dun-dun-dun-dun…dun-dun-dun-dun…dun-dun-dun-dun…dun-dun-dun-dun…dun-dun-dun-dun…

Ohh-ooh-woooooo.

Dum-dum-dum-dum… dum-dum-dum-dum… dum-dum-dum-dum…dum-dum-dum-dum…

So, yeah, a special post for these.

I’m not going to put every single version of the theme up – even I won’t prevail upon your patience that far, but I’ll put one up for every Doctor…

So here we go.

William Hartnell… (1963-67)

This is what viewers were greeted with when they switched on their sets to see this brand spanking new tv show called, for some reason, Doctor Who…


 


Patrick Troughton

Enough of a change but still very recognisably the same tune, with, for the first time, the Doctor’s face being part of the credits. THSI pretty much remained until the end of the ‘classic’ run.


 


Jon Pertwee

There’s an iron rule that the first Doctor you watch is ‘your’ Doctor. It’s complete nonsense of course. Except when it isn’t. Although I think I barely remember the final story of the second Doctor, this is ‘my’ Doctor, the first Doctor I watched, and the Doctor that made me a very young fan of the show.

https://youtu.be/
 


Tom Baker

And this is, for most people I know, ‘their’ Doctor, the one that they first watched. I mean, Baker was the Doctor for seven years, so that’s seven years’ worth of kids who discovered Doctor Who through The Fourth Doctor. He had quite a few different opening titles, but I’ve gone with this one, merely “because I like it”, a lot. And that’s good enough for me.


 


Peter Davison

Hmm. Yeah. I was never a fan of this theme so much at the time, but it’s gown on me with age.


 


Colin Baker

See my comments directly above. Same applies. Baker’s sixth Doctor again had a few opening titles, and I’ve chosen the one from The Trial Of A Time Lord, for the same reason as above.


 


Sylvester McCoy

I’ve barely watched any of McCoy’s run; not entirely sure why, especially since the episodes I’ve seen, I’ve enjoyed. I really should make more of an effort.


Paul McGann

Surprising, given it only appeared the one time just how much I like this one.

 


John Hurt

Yeah, ok, I’m cheating with this one. It’s my blog, so, y’know. But this was never broadcast,. This was a concept done by a very talented person on YouTube. I kind of like it though.


 


Chris Eccleston

After sixteen years away, Who was back. And blimey, they weren’t mucking around. Everything said ‘professional’, everything said ‘big budget’. Including the opening titles. Such a glorious idea to kick it off; stick the classic sting (which I believe some people nicknamed ‘the scream’) with which the classic series accompanied the ending cliff-hanger… at the start of the opening theme. Glorious trick which made all the difference. Because this was a statement: this is different. And it was.


 


David Tennant

Tenant had a few; I particularly liked the ones used for his run with Freema Agyeman. But I’ve gone for the ‘Planet of the Dead‘ special he did with Michelle Ryan. Something about the violins just tops it off perfectly for me.


 


Matt Smith

I really wish they’d have come up with one set of opening titles and stuck with it for Smith. The first set – new arrangement, entirely new opening section – was fine. It was good. Clever, and I liked it, after the initial surprise. I even liked the way the DW becomes a TARDIS that spins away. And every time they played with it, they made it worse. As for the ‘sparklers’ one? Don’t even… just don’t.


 


Peter Capaldi

Given the number of concept videos for Doctor Who themes there are around, it’s not the hugest surprise, I guess, that the producers saw one, thought it was so good they bought the concept from the creator. And then… somehow messed it up? Yeah, that bit surprised me. I mean, it’s still good; it’s just not as good as the concept was.


 


Jodie Whittaker

Took me a while to get used to this one, I’ll admit. I liked the theme, but the whole opening titles? Took me a good five or six episodes to even like it, let alone enjoy it. But I did, eventually. Just about.

(With the huge number of very clever people around, of course, there were multiple concept videos created, long before Whittaker’s first show debuted. Some of them are very clever, some of them are superb.)


 

See you tomorrow, with… the usual ‘Tuesday something else’.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)