Showing posts from October, 2016


Everybody must know “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” back to front by now – for me, it was the first film I remember seeing in a cinema, and was watched every day once it arrived on home video. Therefore, we can all picture the scene where Doctor Doom walks into the Cloverleaf tram station bar, looking for Roger, who has been hidden in a back room by Eddie Valiant. Doom then starts tapping out a rhythm on the wall, knowing all too well that a “toon” cannot leave it unanswered. With his final attempt at tapping the rhythm out, Doom utters the phrase most often spoken in time with it: “shave and a haircut…” Roger, unable to take it, explodes through the wall, yelling in answer, “two bits!” For me, that was the first time I really became aware of a rhythm that is so ubiquitous, it isn’t clear who made it up in the first place – Wikipedia places an early use of the phrase in a song from 1899, Charles Hale’s “At a Darktown Cakewalk,” while the phrase may have been established by


At 9.30am on Saturday 27 th August 2016, following the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, ITV “switched off” their channels for an hour, affecting around a million viewers, supporting a Team GB effort to get people outside and be active, rather than watch another episode of “Murder, She Wrote.” I am usually out the house by that time on a Saturday morning anyway but, at least, I was already doing what Team GB hoped for, even if my bracing walk was only to the shops. ITV’s hour of non-broadcasting is usually what you expect the BBC to do, given their years of being the go-to point when there is a national event, especially when ITV plan to keep us rooted to the living room sofa by building new sets in Salford for “Coronation Street.” In late 2017, the soap opera will broadcast for six episodes a week, complementing the six episodes of “Emmerdale,” five of “Hollyoaks,” “Doctors,””Neighbours” and “Home and Away,” and four of “EastEnders” – that is a lot of time spent watching nearly-pe


I am not really qualified to talk about alcoholic drinks, as I only drink them every so often, and usually just to get the point of what the drink maker was intending – a half-pint of Guinness, a Pimm’s and Lemonade, and that’s about it. I certainly don’t understand the desire of some to get intentionally drunk, let alone those who think thrusting a condition of being less inhibited upon yourself makes you more able to be creative – one drink usually leaves me prepared for a good night’s sleep. However, I can still talk about the history of Special Brew, both venerated and berated as the stereotypical British “tramp fuel,” without drinking it. It is a strong pilsner beer, usually found only in cans, and was first brewed in tribute to Sir Winston Churchill – appropriately enough, a new Five Pound note will survive being dunked in a can of Special Brew, and presumably also a glass of it, but the image of the drink in the UK means Special Brew is not often pictured as being drunk


A “Danish moment” is upon us. Last weekend, I bought a book titled “How To Be Danish,” from a bookshop that had a table laden with books about Danish and Scandinavian culture, all vying to be Christmas presents. Why Denmark, and why now? Where we once had “Feng Shui,” we now have “hygge,” a term meant to describe a particularly Danish brand of homeliness and conviviality. It is a feeling already known as “Germütlichkeit” in German, but Danes usually swap their translation “gemytlig,” for their word for “snug,” as in being hygge as a bygge in a rygge. (However, “hygge” is pronounced “hoo-guh,” so that joke doesn’t work.) In essence, hygge is a year-round version of that relaxed feeling everyone has between Christmas and New Year, meeting up with family, enjoying good food and conversation in the glow of a candlelight, wearing a woolly jumper, drinking mulled wine, relaxing by a fireplace, away from the cold – lots of blankets, candles and food are involved. Step into a branch


So, there I am, walking out of a supermarket this morning, when I see a billboard across the road questioning my identity. I thought I heard the last of this a few months ago, after these billboards started appearing – a good explanation of what happened was given by Jon Kelly, writing for the BBC []. On the surface, all the billboard does is yell “LEGAL NAME FRAUD – THE TRUTH – IT’S ILLEGAL TO USE A LEGAL NAME,” while not providing any context, or an address for finding more information. When Kelly asked the Advertising Standards Authority about it, he was told there were no grounds for investigating them, despite their appearance or meaning being unclear, while its message “was not particularly harmful, misleading or likely to cause widespread offence, and unlikely to cause consumers confusion regarding their own name.” Because these billboards are not cheap – similarly-sized spaces from Primesight, owner of the site I saw, usually cos