Month: May 2015

Are You Down With the Urban Lingo?

One of my tiny band of Facebook brothers (and sisters) recently commented on a friend’s particularly striking selfie photo. The comment read: ‘hair on point, outfit goals, totes on fleek’.   Mystified I turned to the internet for an explanation and discovered a whole new foreign language – so, welcome to the world of Teen Slang.


Hey ‘sup?  How’s it goin’.  Same old same old here – bangin’ walk yesterday though with my mains and the dog (#ahhcutepuppy).  Yeah I know walkin’s real basic but I got to see some brillz trees and stuff so it was all like pretty rad.  ‘Sides you gotta get out there, see the world and such ‘cos YOLO if you know what I mean.  Made us real fungry though so we got some McD’s and one of my aces was wearing a baseball cap even – ‘Merica!

Bin feelin’ like I need a vacay #ASAP.  Routine’s bin gettin’ to me lately, bin gettin’ kinda snatchy, like people around here ain’t giving me the props for the work I do, ya dig? (#shovel).  Some peeps can be so ratchet, they’re makin’ me feel like a noob.  Still, I well f*cked up the other day durin’ the daily grind (#boringashell) –  slagged off some bonehead, AKA looo-serrr!, at work via text and accidentally sent the dweeb the text – OMG! I can be a real hot mess sometimes so it’s pretty much my bad.

Met my BFF K down the pub after, hopin’ she’d give me all the deets ‘cos that gurl can really banter (#gossip.)  We was goin’ to an Ed Sheeran (#ginger) concert.  I’d bin workin’ all day and needed to like moss (#notkate), you know? K was lookin’ totes glam and her eyebrows were way on fleek ‘cept she’d a fake tan like she’d just rolled around in a tub of wotsits (#orange) – just sayin’.  Me, I was like norm core as usual.  K showed me a pic of her new BF on her cell – OMG! he was swole and well peng, I can’t even.  She met him catfishin’ online, said they’d bin goin’ out a month, I said Bish Whaa!?  – seriously you din’t like tell me or nuffin’ Oh, and swag money, they’d only got front row seats at the next Katy Perry concert – I’m mad jeal.  K was p*ssed though ‘cos she’d like texted the BF earlier and he hadn’t replied – total R-bomb.   Some guy was clockin’ us from across the room and I could tell he was cray-cray ‘cos I got serious craydar, so we moved. Anyway I stood up and spilt my coke down my totes favourite dress (#epicfail.)  K slipped on the coke and fell right on her arse (#bigbutt) – fo’reals! – OMG! LOL! I was cryin’.

Anyways we was turned up to see Ed Sheeran and headed out to get our ride for the show.  IKYN Ed was off the chain and K got twerking in the aisle, she looked mad chill, though some w*nker told her to move her fat arse ‘cos he couldn’t see – jokes!  K said  ‘WTF ‘K whatever’ and that the tool should look in the mirror ‘cos he was busted.  I took a selfie of us a la duckface and some fugly biddie behind us got her butterface in the photo ( #photobombed.)  Still it was a pretty crunk night.  We had to bounce to catch our ride but just missed the bus – thanks Obama!  I forgot to say K had a new bag, it was sick (#vomit) – I want one just like it.

Got home real late and the fam says are you wavey and you’ve not been vaping have you?  OMG! I got chirped real bad and told them I was totes sober see and definitely not turnt up and then D was like totes in my face, he went: “Look here Mother, I can’t understand a word you’re saying.  Your grammar and diction are appalling and as for your surly attitude, well let’s not even go there.  Do remember that we live in Surrey and not chav city, the Bronx, or indeed anywhere inside the United States of America.”

Huh?  Man he was flamed, what a geek.  I went all old school and told him talk to the hand ‘cos the face ain’t listening. Went to bed then emo.

Anyway laters.

(translation probably not required if you’re lucky enough to be under approx. 25 years old.)


Peter Kay’s Car Share

Peter Kay’s Car Share came to the end of the road last Friday (May 22nd, 9.30 pm) and I just wanted to put it out there; Peter Kay is a bona fide, comedy GENIUS.  I’m not going with Comedy God, King of Comedy or any other comedic superlative usually associated with the likes of Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand. Messrs Gervais and Brand are cool you see and, unlike Kay, have gone global.  They’re a bit edgy – in the case of Gervais, often downright cruel.  I used to like and respect Mr Gervais until I watched some of his f*ck-laden stand-up on YouTube.  I didn’t laugh once, couldn’t raise a flicker of a smile even, and yet his eager audience of devotees were falling about in the aisles.  The Gervais brand comes with too much of a ‘f*ck you if you don’t agree with everything I say’ attitude if you ask me, which you didn’t.  Peter Kay though – he’s wonderful, a GENIUS (like I just said.)  He’s the only comic on TV (or when he was doing his world breaking stand-up) capable of rendering  an audience practically speechless because they can’t stop laughing; I mean crying laughing, practically hysterical with laughter – he’s a funny northern git is our Peter.

Kay littered the scripts of Car Share, his latest offering, with a liberal amount of swearing,  but it’s all so disarming; so good-natured, so gently northern.  That fat, rubberised face of his registers every emotion with perfect comedic timing, in the same way that you knew exactly what comedy legend Tony Hancock was thinking, every time they caught his quick as lightening reactions on camera during the 1950s.  And Peter Kay is up there with Hancock, no doubt about it (maybe they’re distantly related, what do you think?)

peter kay


tony hancock


Kay knows people.  I’m betting there are thousands of commuters up and down the country indentifying completely with Car Share .  I’d been mourning the loss of Peter Kay to the TV schedules, wondering if he’d ever come back, when I discovered Car Share last week, via that Daily Mail TV critic (mentioned here), who also took time to slag off Peter Kay.  What’s he on about I thought and immediately rushed to iPlayer to find 5 episodes of Car Share just waiting to be watched.  Apparently Kay released the whole series on iPlayer first, attracting 2.8 million hits, the most hits any show on iPlayer has ever received.

And Car Share is good, it’s better than good, it’s sublime.  On the face of it, it’s just two employees (John and Kayleigh) driving to work, listening to the local radio station and chatting.  But the multi-layered script is the very best kind of telly writing.  These characters might be saying one thing but their eyes are telling us a different story. Peter Kay is a really good actor and this series is showcasing that underused talent.  The Forever FM local radio station playing away in the background is BRILLIANT – a perfect comic pastiche if ever there was one.  I sometimes listen to our local equivalent and Kay, along with his team of writers, couldn’t be more spot on re: the rubbishy adverts and inane local DJ banter.  The music, however, is its saving grace and will probably spark a resurgence of interest in the ancient hits which John and Kayleigh love singing along to –  Kay, rather impressively, commissioned real presenters etc to produce an actual morning radio show to be synced within each episode.

It was a wise move to have Kay essentially play his endearing, likeable self and to partner him with a real-life actress friend.  Every aspect of this series featured acute observations on daily life coupled with a realism unhindered by an artificial laughter track, whilst also adding a few surreal moments, in the form of road signs that occasionally flash into view – I’m sure I spotted  one such sign displaying the words ‘this is not a sign’ on it.  These temporary glitches in normality peaked with the imaginary sequences taking place in the heads of our two supermarket sidekicks, as they occasionally drifted into musical daydreams to the accompaniment of Forever FM.

The phone exchange between John and his Nana (episode 5) was an example of everything that’s right about this show – displaying gentle humour, intelligence, wit, warmth and an understanding of  human nature.  John is clearly exasperated with the old woman but has bothered to get her  a ‘buthday’ card and is taking the time to listen.

John:   What you doing out today?
Nana:  Oh, I’m not stirring out in this weather
John:   But it’s gorgeous now and it’s yer buthday!
Nana:  Oh it makes no odds when you get to my age John, I’m just going to sit and play me Michael Buble CD
John:    Alright, very good
Nana:  But I think he’s gone off, he wer’ on TV AM and I think he looked tired. 

They couldn’t have hit us with a better LOL punch line than the news that Michael Buble, like a carton of milk, has ‘gone off.’

I’m telling yer straight up right, that Peter Kay’s Car Share is a proper little BELTER.



Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Most viewers, I imagine, would have found the scene where the young girl rises from the dead – featured in Sunday night’s first instalment of the adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s 2004 novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – a suitably alarming and magical moment, as the young consumptive bride-to-be suddenly inhales loudly, sits up and immediately grabs her fiance for a quick waltz (an ominous sign of things to come.)  But this viewer was struck by an altogether simpler and far less impressive scene, in which we discover that the feckless, aristocratic Mr Strange is in fact a natural born magician.

On his way to inform his girlfriend (the very Jane Austen-like Arabella Woodhope; think Miss Woodhouse in Emma) of the happy news that his grumpy old git of a father has at last snuffed it, Jonathan Strange is waylaid by the seemingly homeless, and constantly drunk Vinculus, who sells him a couple of spells and then jigs about in a nearby field like a mad version of Julie Andrews, spinning around in those Alpine hills.  Take it from me, you can always tell that bad things are coming when cast members keep breaking into weird and inappropriate dance moves.

Arriving at his girlfriend’s house Jonathan performs one of these spells, involving a small mirror and some dead foliage.  Holding the mirror up he realises that the glass is no longer reflecting his surroundings but is providing a ‘window’ into places that are miles away from his current position.  I was immediately struck by the similarity between that mirror and the hand held device I’d just switched off so, instead of thinking Wow!, that’s magical,  I found myself wondering how a bloke from the early 19th century had got his hands on an iPad, which brings me to the key question continually posed in this strange Jane Austen’ish/Dickensian world – ‘Why is there no more magic done in England?’

I’m begging to differ.  There may have been no more magic in 1806 but fast forward a couple of hundred years and England is full of it.  There we sit, all of us, staring into mobile and stationary screens, made from a glass cooked up by a secret potion, in which you can see a distinct (or indistinct) image of yourself, reflecting back through these magical mirrors.  They’re just mirrors after all, like the one Jonathan Strange was looking into.  We make mystical passes (ok, we swipe and prod) over our iPads/phones and, lo and behold, the world is at our fingertips.  Unless you’re a software programmer or computer genius, you may just as well be staring into that bowl of water Mr Norrell used to bring those York Minster statues to life.  Because none of us have any idea of how these things actually work, do we? –  if some digital boffin said to you, ‘well, it’s all done by magic see’, would you disagree?

Getting back to JS & Mr N though, I picked up a copy of the book years ago in the bestseller section at Tesco.  The paperback version is as heavy as a couple of bricks and 1006 pages thick.  It’s not a ‘light read’ and I remember wondering how such a weighty tome had made it to the popular bestsellers’ list.  If Jane Austen had turned her hand to fantasy and science fiction then this book would have been the result, and how many people actually enjoy reading Miss Austen?  (Yes, I know the films are wildly successful but that’s a whole different thing.)

The beginnings of the story of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell came to Susanna Clarke in ‘a kind of waking dream’  in 1992 and, after a long illness, she began to  write the novel in what I’m calling ‘period-speak’.  Archaic words like ‘shew’ and ‘stopt’ are bandied about frequently and there are very long, verging on the dull, conversations where you really have to pay attention.  Nobody uses one word here when 27 will do.  Not to mention long and complex footnotes, written as though the novel is depicting actual events and, taken together with these said events, you can understand why it took the author 10 years to write her book.  Black and white pictures accompany the text in a very Dickensian fashion and the whole thing is a perfectly rendered, anachronistic work of art.

It’s a brilliant book but not one I thought could ever be successfully transferred to television, or to the big screen, but it looks like the Beeb has done it.  The atmosphere, costumes, acting and settings are perfect – there’s no room here for the whitened, perfect teeth and uniform looks of the Americans; you need British teeth and British ‘ordinariness’ for 19th century based shenanigans.

Obviously a lot has to be left out when you’re dramatising a 1000+ page book, filled with descriptive passages and lots and lots of words.  Peter Harness, the screen writer here, has successfully contracted pages and pages of scene- setting into the required essentials and the magical, fantastical world, conjured up by Clarke, has been given a realistic treatment, so that the images on screen feel almost contemporary.  Yes, everyone is gadding about in funny hats, tail coats and laugh out loud wigs, but they could all appear in your average soap without attracting too much attention; particularly the always brilliant Paul Kaye as Vinculus, who looks and acts as though he’s just walked off one of the market stalls in EastEnders.  More importantly, Harness hasn’t forgotten to lighten the mood by adding some humorous touches;  the Strange’s poor, sick servant, for example, eventually acting as a human doorstop and this classic from Strange:

 ‘I drink very, very little, scarcely more than a bottle a day.’

There was some stand-out acting from Vincent Franklin as Drawlight who, embarrassing to admit, pronounces Mr Norrell as Mr Naw-relle!  –  exactly as I mistakenly did (in my own head) when reading the book; well, without the affected, dandyfied intonation.

As I’ve now forgotten most everything about this book, I’m looking forward to re-living the whole thing again via television over the coming 6 weeks, whilst also wishing for a slightly different ending (impossible) which I always felt was informed by Susanna Clarke’s family circumstances.  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is dedicated to Clarke’s dead brother (1961-2000), who never read the book.  Just as the Harry Potters are preoccupied with loss and untimely death, perhaps in part due to the death of J K Rowling’s mother, so the themes of loss and death run through this wonderfully intricate novel.  This first televised episode would seem to indicate that the BBC has successfully captured the magic and strangeness of the original, but with the added reservation that this series will likely attract a ‘niche’ audience already familiar with the book, as opposed to the massive public appeal of Poldark, the Beeb ‘s recent Sunday night period drama.

(Reviews are the only things I read in the newspapers so I wanted to mention the piece written by the TV critic for the Daily Mail, in which he called Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell  a ‘J K Rowling rip-off’  –  you’ve got to wonder if he ever read the book.  He couldn’t be more wrong or further from the truth.)


I Worry, therefore I Am

Your average human body contains a ridiculous number of atoms – 7 billion, billion, billion to be exact – and 99% of those atoms belong to the chemical elements Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H) and Oxygen (O), the remaining 1% being micro-stuff that doesn’t really show up on the radar.  I’m guessing, in my particular case,  that roughly a billion of those billions of atoms make up Anxiety or (He Lp!), to give it its correct chemical symbol – the one I just made up.

Alas, the scientific community, in its woeful ignorance, does not classify Anxiety (He Lp!) as an element, going with the popular consensus that it’s more a state of mind and, therefore, does not include it in the Periodic Table, which currently ends with Ununoctium (Uuo), atomic number 118.  (Uuo) is an atomic particle which is absolutely useless to anybody, outside of obscure scientific research.  Indeed, it’s so useless they had to name it after its atomic number – Un=1, un=1, octium=8, leading to much confusion in the scientific workplace.  ‘Just get me 118 will you,’  says one boffin to his mate.  ‘No, not that directory enquiries number you idiot, I meant that useless atomic particle.’

Wouldn’t it be better to replace this hopelessly anonymous element with Anxiety (He Lp!), the widely known chemical element (that’s what I’m calling it), just to enliven that dull old Periodic Table.  Speaking of dull, that’s just the way I like to live my deeply uninteresting life.  The duller things are the better, because this means that nothing untoward is going on, i.e. nothing of a scary nature.  Let’s go to the cinema you will say, as I’m sitting there on the couch, engaged in knitting something riveting.  In theory this will seem like a good idea.  Yes, Avengers Age of Ultron does sound mind-blowing and Robert Downey Jr can do no wrong (except when he did do something wrong and went to jail*.)   But then a distant memory of a cinema-based massacre will slowly surface from the depths of this angst ridden brain, to be followed by the thought of bombs going off in dark enclosed spaces.  But to the movies I will go, to sit there in an eerie half-light, surrounded by strangers, any one of whom could be the next perpetrator of another cinema-based atrocity, or have just planted a scarily homemade, internet-based bomb, right in the middle of the Pick ‘n’ Mix section.  There will then be a 30 minute advertising onslaught, whilst I carefully monitor the Dolby sound system for ‘loudness’, which tends to start off on a scale of ‘I can just about sit here without escaping to the toilet,’  to ‘this system has been specifically designed to make your ears bleed and your head blow off.’

Iron Man, and the rest of the Super Crew, will make their entrances, while I’m busy checking out the exits, in case the bloke in front (loudly consuming a container of Nachos covered in something that’s supposed to resemble cheese – 1% cheese and 99% other stuff),  turns out to be a raving psychopath.

Or, how about a bit of socialising you will say.  You know, going out of the house and doing things with other people. Yes, People, I will mutter, can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.  Was it Sartre (I’m affecting ignorance here) who famously wrote ‘Hell is other people’.  I’d say Sartre hit the nail on the head there, even if he didn’t quite mean that hell was other people.  The memories dredged up from my dim and distant past, of times not well spent by socialising with other people, woud make pretty good stand-ins for your average vision of Hell.  Nightclubs, for example, seem to have been invented by Satan.  Your ‘friends’ drag you along, whilst you plead with them to not leave you alone on the dance floor only to find, 20 minutes later, that they’ve consumed industrial amounts of alcohol and have happily ditched you for their new-found, equally spaced out friends, all of whom are performing acts of public indecency which would, in differing circumstances, land them in jail.   Being stubbornly sober, because you worry about the effects of alcohol and exactly how much is required to bring on alcoholic poisoning, means you sit out the rest of the night in a dark corner, imagining you’re on a tranquil beach far, far away, with absolutely nobody else on it.

And then, the other week, the man of the household wilfully drank from a bottle of milk that I discovered  had expired two days previously.  Rapidly typing the words ‘what happens if you drink off milk‘ into Google, whilst he carried on regardless, revealed that milk, past its expiry date, can cause anything from symptoms that are barely noticeable to imminent DEATH.  And I now know that pasteurised milk contains some stealth type bacteria, which survive the pasteurisation process and also laugh at your fridge while they’re in there, as they carry on reproducing themselves (Yukk) in freezing cold temperatures, making a mockery of that use by date.

Anyway, the fact that I worried about the milk drinking calamity meant that I somehow saved the man of the household’s life.  You see a good many people claim that Anxiety (He Lp!) is as useless and time wasting as that Ununoctium particle,  but I disagree.  I’ve come to think of it as a kind of Super Power.  As long as I’m sitting there fretting about EVERYTHING, leaving no stone unturned in my quest for things to worry about, then the world spins happily around on its axis.  Taking my eye off the ball though results in the planet going to hell in a handbasket.  Just as I was doing a spot of Zen like gardening the other day, feeling remarkably worry free, my neighbour felt it necessary to inform me that he’d caught a pair of unknown legs on his night camera, at 2 am the night before, advancing towards his back door.   Damn, if only I’d been worrying about intruders instead of slightly off milk, then that neighbourhood prowler wouldn’t have made it past the garden gate.

Take this laptop (please do, it’s knackered) which is perched upon my knees and currently causing me to question just how safe balancing an electronic object, which is getting hotter and hotter by the second, on your person actually is, when I have no idea what’s inside this thing and how many particles of radiation I’m being bombarded with.  Not to mention the hours of time I waste staring at this and various other technological devices.  Are they emitting eye ball melting rays of digital-type light? Do these electrons seep into your brain via your eyes, nose, mouth and ears, causing any number of horrid brain diseases several years down the line?

Time for a cup of Anxiety (He Lp!) soothing chamomile tea I think.


* Apologies to Holly for bringing up Downey Jr’s sordid past.