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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Knaresborough Weekend

Part 2: Captain's Karaoke and The Damned at Montey's, Sunday 25 April 2004  (Read Part 1 first)

I had an alarm call for 8:00 am as you have to get up early if you want be up in time for breakfast at these Bed & Breakfast places. After that I had quite some time to kill before the afternoon's entertainment, so as it was a lovely bright sunny day I decided to go for a wander around Knaresborough.

I have already mentioned that it's a picturesque place. It's also quite hilly. The river Nidd runs through a gorge to one side of the town, and the main part of the town is built up onto a large rocky outcrop. Down alongside the river there are long narrow houses are built straight into the rockface. There is also this Mother Shipton's Cave and Petrifying Well tourist attraction which takes up a whole tract of land over on the other side of the river, but I never got around to investigating this. Perhaps I was being a tightwad and didn't want to fork out the entrance admission. I did however go for quite a long riverside walk through areas of woodland where on a sunny day like this you could almost believe there'd be fairies and pixies scampering about playfully.

Walking up into the town in search of a drink and/or an ice cream I bumped into the message board gang who were going downhill to where I'd just come from. We chatted a while, and then I said I'd catch them later and resumed my search for an ice cream. After another half an hour I ended up sitting outside a cafe down by the river just along from the viaduct, with my toffee ice cream cone and a cup of hot chocolate complete with cream and marshmallows. Yum! having finished these confections, I gave Miche a ring. "Where are you all?" I asked. Turns out they were just around the corner having walked underneath the viaduct and if I hadn't rang we would have met again in two minutes anyway.

We all climbed back up the hill (from where I photographed the picture postcard view that I already included in Part 1) and walked along past the castle ruins where a woman dressed in medieval garb was sitting with a pair of ravens. Most peculiar. From here we soon found ourselves in the nearest pub, where Claypole spent the entire time moaning about the pan-pipes muzak that they insisted on playing.

After a spot of lunch in another pub, and a bit more wandering around, a small group of us made our way to the Yorkshire Lass up in the north end of the town, where we found the remainder of the message boarders drinking and doing an endless stream of Stephen Hawking impressions. After a while Captain arrived and we all went out onto the back patio for the afternoon's entertainments: the karaoke!
Captain's karaoke extravaganza!

Captain gave us a couple of songs, including the obligatory "Happy Talk" which although the karaoke guy didn't have it, someone (Mark Orbit most likely) had brought it along on a CD. Then someone else got up and did a Sid Vicious version of "My Way" (which I've never cared for), and then it was Gravedigger Brian's turn and he did a really great performance of "Mustang Sally". Damned Fairy had a bash at The Primitives' "Crash", and Saddamned Insane also got up entertained us (but I can't for the life of me remember what song he sang - I remember that he was very good though!). I missed Claypole doing "Stop The Cavalry" in the style of Stephen Hawking as I was at the bar getting some drinks in (and White Rabbit really fancied a cup of tea, so that took some extra organising). Everyone got up to sing backing vocals to Captain's "Wot", and there were a few other turns too, but I can't recall everything. There was a lot of drink being consumed too!

As for myself, no I didn't get up and sing but I did scour the song lists to see what they had just in case I was forced to get up and give it a go. In that event I would have subjected everyone to an excrutiating version of "Born Free", perhaps to be sung in the club style, a la Vic Reeves.

From here a bunch of us went back into town and into the Indian restaurant for a curry, which was one of these buffet all you can eat affairs. Perhaps in retrospect this was a bad move as I felt really bloated afterwards and we still had the evening's do to come.

I went back to the guesthouse and gave myself the luxury of a lie-down for about an hour, whilst watching some rubbish on television ("Britain's Worst Husbands", I think it was). Then I got myself washed and dressed, and put a dash of make-up on again - just a little eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara. Then it was time to go back to Montey's to the second of the weekend's Damned gigs.

More or less as soon as I arrived the supprt band came on, Flamingo 50, who were a three-piece made up of two girls - a tomboyish singer/guitarist and a bassist - and a guy on drums. They were absolutely brilliant - a great act - and the singer's antics and energy were quite amazing. She'd jump up onto the barrier at the front of the stage still playing the guitar. Madness!

Did you spot the magic word just then? No? Well, it was "barrier". Yes, tonight at Montey's there was a security barrier in place so as to avoid the previous night's problems when the crown surged forward. Good move!

The Damned came on, and once again all the message boarders had secured positions right at the front. The difference this time was that we were determined to stay put!
Dave Vanian, The Damned at Montey's, Knaresborough 25.04.04

Everyone was a lot happier, even though there was still a lot of pushing from behind (it was all high spirits). I just hope I didn't crush poor Lottie who was just in front of me. The band were a lot happier too, and it seemed in quite a mischievious mood. Pinch (drums) commented, "This is great, it's like doing a private gig in your front room with all your mates in the front row." The set list (which we could see taped to the floor of the stage) was the same as for the previous night, but the band decided to take a detour from this at one point, and we got extra songs in the shape of Captain's solo hit "Wot", a blistering version of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Pop" and The Damned's own "New Rose" (which they hadn't been playing on this tour).
Captain Sensible, The Damned at Montey's, Knaresborough 25.04.04

The band all quit the stage after the main part of the set, although Pinch stayed behind and played a drum solo that he said he'd learnt from the drummer of Splodgenessabounds. It was quite something, and perhaps would have silenced some Damned fans who insist that no-one could replace original drummer Rat Scabies.

The band came back out for the encore, this time with Captain once again wearing his pink girly dress from the night before and a pink bobbed wig. Then Dave came out and was wearing Captain's trademark red beret, which totally creased Captain up. He did look funny in it.

They then launched into an incredible version of "Curtain Call", and followed this with "Ignite". I decided at this point that I was too dehydrated, and I gave up my position at the front and went to the bar to grab a pint of water. The Damned finished on "Smash It Up", this time with Captain playing guitar from a doorway entrance half way up the wall to the left of the stage. It was an absolute superb night's performance and more than made up for the disappointment of Saturday night.
Captain Sensible, The Damned at Montey's, Knaresborough 25.04.04

The set list must have been something like this:
Melody Lee
I Fall
Shadow Of Love
Amen
Absinthe
Would You Be So Hot (If You Weren't Dead)
Wot
New Rose
Paranoid
Blitzkreig Pop
Street of Dreams
Anti Pope
Under The Floor Again *
History Of The World
Neat Neat Neat
--
Curtain Call
Ignite
Smash It Up

(* possibly they missed this one out... Sorry, I can't accurately recall)
Afterwards all the message boarders went upstairs at the back of the venue where there was an after show party (postponed from the previous night). There was much drinking to be done. Captain introduced me to Vanilla vodka which was beautiful (and I don't normally touch vodka). I also had a Mai Tai or two, and got involved in a couple of rounds of drinking shots with the band (one was a Slippery Nipple, apparently, according to Pinch).

Spent ages chatting and drinking first with Miranda (burleque dance and Pinch's wife), and then with Jed, mistress of the merchandise, and this continued to well past 4:00 am in the morning. I finally crawled into bed at 4:30. All night I had been saying that I still felt surprisingly sober, so I was in for a rude awakening when my 8:00 am alarm call came and I had a very rough head. Still there was lots of travelling to be done for my homeward bound journey and I needed get going. It's a tough life, eh?
posted by Gina Snowdoll 12:16 pm [edit] 

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Knaresborough Weekend

Part 1: Captain's birthday celebrations and The Damned at Montey's, Saturday 24 April 2004

Having travelled 5 hours by rail I finally made it to the picturesque little town of Knaresborough in North Yorkshire. The first shock to the system was that to get to the town centre where I was staying in a guesthouse meant a hard slog uphill. In the town centre I soon spotted Steve from Wisconsin (a major Damned fan who follows them around the world) complete with his newly dyed fluorescent orange hair.

From the town centre to my lodgings it was only a two minute walk. I was soon showered, and changed, and wearing just a smidgen of make-up I made my way back out again, and once again bumped into Steve. After a quick phone call we soon discovered where the rest of the Damned message board crew were, and met up with them all at the George and Dragon: Damned Fairy, Green Fairy, Lottie, Mr Claypole, Saddamned Insane, White Rabbit, Gravedigger Brian, Kenny, Love Policeman and Sister of Darkness, Curtain Call and Ellie, Miche and Andy.

After much banter and a wee drinkie or two everyone made their way to the venue, Montey's, which is in the old town hall, although Steve and I took a detour via the Fish and Chip shop as we were hungry. Once inside we met up with even more familar names and faces: Val Vicious, Phil and AntiPop Jen, Mr & Mrs Pilkydamned, Paraceta Mole, Steve Final, Great Big Tits (I know I'm going to refret namechecking him here on this blog) and Nightgirl.

The first band were a bit strange: two guitars, bass, bored looking singer and a drum machine. They finished on a peculiar version of Kraftwerk's "The Model", which apparently had been requested by Claypole (a fellow Kraftwerk fan).

The next band on sported a pair of guitarists with Gibson Les Paul guitars. They thought they were The Darkness, and were quite good if you like that sort of thing. Personally I can take it or leave it.

All the message boarders gathered near the front of the stage to await our heroes. However, first of all we were "treated" to an impromptu performance by "The Festering Toss-Pots", who were comprised of any of the fans who wanted to get up on stage and have a go at playing a couple of songs. Various message boarders gave it a go and played some dodgy versions of "Love Song", "New Rose" and "Wait for the Blackout".

Then, thankfully, it was time for the real thing. To the sound of a raucous burlesque tune The Damned came out onto the very small stage, with not only Captain in drag in a pink girly dress and pink curly wig, but also Pinch (drums) in Captain's old psychedelic dress and a borrowed wig (with all his tattoos showing), and also Stu (bass) in a pink dress and burlesque outfit. Stu looked brilliant actually, and I'm only sorry I didn't get a proper photo of him. Monty (keys) was in one of his usual skull t-shirts, and Dave (vocals) was just Dave looking like some kind of smooth rockabilly vampire.

Damned Fairy had prepared some cut-outs of faces on sticks - Cliff Richard, Paul Weller and Phil Collins - which we all held up when Captain appeared. A bit of a joke at his expense, as he's always going on about how he hates those particular people.

They started with "Melody Lee" and following Monty's piano intro, when the guitars and drums kick in at 100 miles per hour, the crowd went MENTAL, and everyone started surging forward. This continued for a couple of songs, but it was so difficult keeping upright as people were pushing from behind, the monitors on the stage were getting pushed forwards towards the band, and club staff were swiftly deployed to push the monitors back and to push us lot back. It was utter chaos, so I tried going round the right-hand side near the sound-desk, but got yelled at by staff there, so then I went around to the left hand side round the back of the speakers, but got told to go away from there too. I ended up going right to the back of the hall near to where Jed had the merchandise stall set up, and I found nearly all the message-boarders back there too.

The atmosphere wan't good; we all felt a bit disappointed, and annoyed we'd lost our places at the front. It seemed that there was a violent element in the audience, about 5 or 6 guys supposedly from out of town (so the manager of the club said).

The Damned played on, that is, after Leo (tour manager) had pulled them off stage once and had appealed for calm before he'd let the gig continue. They played a blinding set, despite the fact that hardly anyone could see them as the stage was not exactly very high, and there were a bunch of club stuff forming a human barrier at the front of the stage.

For "Antipope", Phil - who is Captain's brother - joined The Damned on stage and took over vocal duties from Dave. "I wrote that," he called out at the end. Great claim to fame!

As usual, they ended on "Smash It Up", this time with Captain taking advantage of the radio connection between his guitar and amp to go strolling out into the audience as he played the guitar part on Part 1, and up into the balcony area, before rushing back to the stage for the song itself on Part 2. I didn't think he'd make it in time with that crowd to push through.

Cap came out and met us all after the show, and people gave him cards and presents, including a copy of a Phil Collins LP that we had all signed in the pub earlier.

Then, bizarrely, another band came on after the main act. These were also punk legends - namely Eddie and the Hot Rods. Apparently they were guests of the Captain and he wanted them to play after The Damned so that he could relax, have a few drinks and watch them. However, as I have said, there was a very weird atmosphere that night, a lot of people were feeling pissed off, and the party that was planned after the main set of the night never really happened. I myself didn't hang around too long, and was in bed for 1:30 am, and seriously considering going home the next day.

Read Part 2...
posted by Gina Snowdoll 7:55 pm [edit] 

Monday, April 26, 2004

The Damned at Montey's, Knaresborough, 25/04/04
I'll write my review of the weekend's festivities with The Damned tomorrow if I may. I've had a knackering day - was up at 8:00 am this morning (having gone to bed at 4:30 am), then I've been travelling home all day. I think the best place for me now is bed!

I shall tell all later!
posted by Gina Snowdoll 8:55 pm [edit] 

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Damned weekend

I had to get up early this weekend so as to get packed. In an hour's time I have to make my way to Didcot station and begin my five hour journey to Knaresborough. I ought to sort out a few CDs to take with me for the trip.

It seems I had quite a few missed calls on my mobile from last night. One of them was from Captain. I wonder what he wanted? Possibly he was going to ask me if I was going to get myself frocked up tonight. I wasn't planning on all that malarkey this time because it would give me a hell of a lot more luggage to carry. Bung a dress, pair of heels, underwear, wig, box of make-up, etc, into a bag and you'd be astounded at how much room it takes up. Ideally you'd need a pack mule to carry that little lot.

Besides, I haven't shaved my legs.

I might do a spot of make-up. Which reminds me, I'd better pack some (eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, nail varnish... that'll do).

Anyway, I can't hang about any more yabbering on about it all on here... I've got my packing to finish.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 8:39 am [edit] 

Friday, April 23, 2004

Bloody hell! The sun comes out and the flip-flop wearers are back already. Some people have no taste and even less sense of style.
posted by G L Wilson 12:00 pm [edit] 

Coronation Street's gay storyline star Bruno Langley quits: Thank goodness for that. This current storyline featuring the incredibly boring Todd coming to terms with his sexuality just makes me want to turn the television off.
posted by G L Wilson 10:17 am [edit] 

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Futile wandering

I've just spent a fruitless lunch-hour wandering around the greetings card shops in Oxford, looking for a suitable birthday card for Cap. What a ghastly job! Most of the shops are filled with sugary vomit-inducing mush; it makes me feel ill simply walking into some of those places. The alternatives to the mush are the so-called humour cards, which seem to be the same in each and every shop. The best cards were in the first shop I went into, and that was an art shop. I should've grabbed something then; now I've got to go back tomorrow.

I wonder if he'd prefer a drink?
posted by Gina Snowdoll 12:41 pm [edit] 

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

A petrifying time planned

Sorry about that, I just had a quiet few days without posting. There's not been a great deal to say actually, so I didn't see the point in posting anything until now, when I decided it was probably time to remind you all that I'm still alive.

I suppose I ought to go to the gym tonight after work. I haven't been for a week now, seeing as how I put my back out last week. I think I'm mostly mended now.

I still need to organise getting the train tickets for this Knaresborough weekend. I'll most likely be travelling most of the day Saturday, then have a quick change at the guesthouse, and then off to The Damned gig in the evening.

I was looking to see if there were any local tourist attractions, as I'll have most of Sunday daytime to kill. A quick search on the web told me that there was Mother Shipton's Cave and the Petrifying Well, which sounds a little odd. Actually, I have heard of the petrifying well (I would have thought it was more of a cascade, personally, but if they want to call it a well, then so be it). It's that place where people hang up personal objects - hats, shoes, gloves, or whatever - in the dripping water and they get turned to stone. I suggested to a few of the people on The Damned's website that we could visit it and put a few items into the well, perhaps even Captain's now legendary red beret. Then noises were made about hanging my wig in the dripping water and petrifying that, or my stilettos even, so I decided to shut up.

Actually, I won't be taking any girly stuff with me this time (not like at Punk Aid). I don't want to frighten the B&B people for starters.

Well... perhaps a little bit of make-up if I have the time and/or inclination.

Oh... I was forgetting. For Sunday afternoon Captain is organising a karaoke afternoon in one of the local pubs, which could be very amusing. So long as I'm not forced to sing, because I really am quite tuneless. A pity Tamsin isn't coming as she's the karaoke queen, so I hear.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 12:21 pm [edit] 

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Hurrah

I've fixed the computer. I had to go into Oxford and buy a new power supply, then had to install it. Eeeeks! All those wires - it was like spaghetti inside. Also, it was really dusty. I had to get the vacuum cleaner out to clean out all the dust and cobwebs (I'm sure I saw a spider in there somewhere).

Anyway, I'm quite impressed with myself that I managed to get it going again.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 3:36 pm [edit] 

Friday, April 16, 2004

Damned Weekend booked

I've been desperately trying all day to book tickets for the two Damned gigs next weekend in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. The Saturday night gig is also the occasion of Captain's 50th, so it should be a good one.

I've already booked my accommodation in a B&B (quite reasonably priced actually). All I have to do now is to book the following Monday off work, and to find out the details about getting there on the train. I imagine that train journey will be the most expensive part.

I doubt I'll be able to post again on this blog until next Monday now, as the home computer is buggered.

Squeak soon.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 3:48 pm [edit] 

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Owwwww!

I pulled a muscle in my back whilst picking up one of those HUGE 18.5 litre water-cooler water bottles this morning at work (and, YES, it was full). It's been absolute agony. So, that's my visit to the gym tonight out the window.

That's the last time I pick up heavy things at work. I don't get paid to lift things, so I ain't doing it any more.
posted by G L Wilson 3:31 pm [edit] 

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Oh...

...and the other lovely thing that I found waiting for me when I got home was a piece of post, which when I opened it revealed itself to be some disgusting filthy fascist "newspaper" from the British National Party. Where the hell did that come from? The only thing I can think of is that perhaps some of the Oi! contingent who were at Punk Aid got hold of the attendees list and mailed these out to those who went to that event.

Tamsin, did you get one too?
posted by G L Wilson 11:23 am [edit] 

The holidays

I'm sure I've been shortchanged somewhere this Easter break. I'm sure it was supposed to be at least another day longer. It all went by far too quickly.

I'm also getting worried about my memory. On Sunday I hid Easter eggs in the garden for the kids to find in an Easter Egg hunt, and they found them all except one. So then when I went to show them where I put it, I found I couldn't remember. We all searched the garden for ages, but no matter how much I concentrated and tried to retrace my steps, I could not find it anywhere. I wouldn't be surprised if a magpie had taken it, because I made sure not to hide any of the eggs in any difficult or out-of-reach places. They all had to be hidden within easy reach of the children.

Yesterday afternoon was spent journeying back home on a series of very crowded trains surrounded by people scoffing chocolate. One man had a rabbit in a pet carrying box, and I had to wonder if he'd kidnapped the Easter Bunny.

I finally got home just after 6 pm only to discover that Karen had forgotten to record 24 for me on Thursday, and had made no effort to record the repeat on Saturday night either. Does anyone have last week's episode of 24 on VHS videotape? I desperately need to see this - long play, short play, PAL or NTSC, I don't care - my video will handle the lot.

Even worse, the computer is completely buggered. I don't know what's happened to it, but you turn it on and nothing happens other than a little green LED coming on. The disk doesn't start up; neither does the fan. Nothing.

Help!

This means of course that I can now only blog at work at lunchtimes, or - as now - on coffee breaks. (Hey, I figure if smokers can go off for fag breaks whenever the fancy takes them, then I as a non-smoker am also entitled to the occasional bit of time out to blog and have a coffee. So there!)

Still, it doesn't get the computer fixed, and has come at the worst possible time, just when I need to make some major changes to the Teasing LuLu website and also to the site I work on for my Uncle. These are things that I am not going to be able to take care of at work.
posted by G L Wilson 10:27 am [edit] 

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Easter

Hurrah! I'm off on holiday already. This morning I am packing my bags and will be catching a train just after midday to take me to Wales and to my family. I'm looking forward to seeing the kids again - I had a couple of emails from them yesterday - they are funny.

Of course, Easter is a time of re-birth. Whilst I am not by any means a religious person, this concept does make some sense to me.

You may remember that in March I went to visit the place where my late brother's ashes were scattered. Whilst I was travelling there I played a CD of Thin Lizzy's "Live and Dangerous" in tribute to him. That might seem a strange choice of music for a solemn occasion, except I didn't want this to be a solemn occasion. For me, it was about remembering, about celebrating my brother. I hadn't listened to that album in years, I think perhaps I found it a little painful, but that day I really enjoyed it.

One of the bands that Tamsin and I watched at PunkAid the other weekend were The Beat. I really didn't know how I'd feel watching them, as they too had been one of my brother's favourite bands (he didn't just stick to the one genre of music) and he would often play their records. Again, I hadn't heard any of their songs for years - I think I consciously avoided them - but watching them on stage (even if there were only a couple of the guys from the original line-up) I found myself quietly really enjoying their music. I must admit that the whole experience did make me a bit tearful, but then towards the end of their set I felt a hand on my shoulder, and turning round saw it was the Captain. "Really good, aren't they?" he said, and "Yeah!" I replied back a little too enthusiastically, hoping he hadn't seen the tears.

So, although I did get a little tearful at one point, I am glad I hadn't gone back to the chalet or otherwise avoided watching the band, because I ended up seriously enjoying them. I've since bought The Beat's "Beat This" hits compilation, and it's one of my favourite CDs at the moment.

I suppose what I'm trying to say that one should try to remember the loved ones that you have lost, and not bury away the memories just in case they make you feel bad. In fact, the memories might make you feel good.

Speak to you all again after the holidays!
posted by G L Wilson 8:56 am [edit] 

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Ghost Town

Elena's website is one of the most staggeringly powerful and emotive websites I have ever seen. Elena likes to ride her motorcycle into Chernobyl's dead zone, and the website and photographs within document her visits.
posted by G L Wilson 12:58 pm [edit] 

Gender issues on TV

Good to see the Channel 4 documentary last night, "Secret Intersex" which dealt with the issue of intersex people (or hermaphrodites as they used to be known). The one young "girl" in particular had a very positive attitude and was proud to be an intersex person. It's refreshing to think that at last the media might be recognising that there are not simply two genders - male and female - but there is a whole spectrum of gender inbetween these two poles. I've never believed myself to be 100% male; I'm not suggesting that I might be partially intersex, I'm talking now about the way our brains are wired.

Part two of this documentary is on Channel 4 tonight at 9pm.

Also, on Sunday, Karen was watching the drama series "William and Mary" on ITV, whilst I was doing something or other on-line, and I couldn't but help turn around to watch the programme once in a while. Part of the programme dealt quite nicely with the subject of transvestism, and whilst perhaps the approach was a little too sympathetic, the whole subject was treated in a dignified manner. One small fly in the ointment was that, as usual, the TVs portrayed were middle-aged men, rather frumpily dressed, and exhibiting facial hair and mediocre make-up jobs.
posted by G L Wilson 11:57 am [edit] 

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Egg on my face?

I was up with the lark this morning (actually the bastard noisy neighbours from hell had woken me up again and I couldn't get back to sleep) and rushed out to buy today's Observer, for in the Review section there was an article about blogging that I wanted to read. A few days ago Simon Garfield, writer of said article, had contacted me about the prospect of including an extract from my blog.

But alas, it wasn't to be. The article, New kids on the blog, was nicely written and focussed mainly on Lynn's Bacon, Cheese and Oatcakes blog, and with a couple of other extracts including one from GreenFairy.

Thankfully, I don't feel that I have egg on my face, as I hadn't hyped the whole thing up beforehand and had implied that there was a possibility that it might not happen. (See the "Ooooh, how exciting" post below. Cunning, eh? It's called hedging your bets.)

Disappointed? Not really. It's still a good article and I'm pleased for those who were featured. And they have published my URL so that'll bring in a few new readers hopefully. I could have done with the cheque from the Observer for having an extract printed (I still have to send Tamsin what I owe her for last week's Punk Aid weekend), but if any Observer readers who were curious enough to check out my blog are feeling generous, the link for my Amazon wish list is up there on the top left-hand side of the page! (Hint, hint.)

And, Observer readers, if you're wondering about the "transgender" thing, then read through my "Tales of Crossdressing" entries (links in the left-hand side-bar), and also this piece which partly explains why I don't do it very often any more.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 10:19 am [edit] 

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Baby on board

I've actually been thinking for a while now that I should have a semi-regular "Room 101" spot on this weblog. For those of you outside of the UK, there is a TV show on BBC2 in which the guest of the week is allowed to nominate things that they loathe to be consigned to the Orwellian room of nightmares of the title.

So, I've been compiling a list of things that I personally would like to see banished to Room 101. Obviously flip-flops would be one of the first things to go in there, along with baseball caps (especially the Burberry ones as worn by those vile "chavs"), and as for Jamie Oliver, well if I had my way his days would definitely be numbered!

The dreaded yellow signHowever, the first thing I'd like to see completely erased from modern life are those seemingly innocuous yellow signs you see in the back windows of cars to announce that there is a "Baby On Board". (I think I actually inherited my loathing of this very worthy Room 101 contender from my Dad, but he's got a good point.)

Just WHY? Why do otherwise intelligent people feel the need to clutter up their car windows with this kind of junk? Think about it, and what they are actually suggesting is: "In the event of an accident, when perhaps you might lose some control of your vehicle, could you do your utmost to make a supreme effort to somehow ensure that you hit someone else's car and not mine, because I've got a Baby On Board?"

Or is that missing the point? Another theory is that the "Baby On Board" sign is the automotive equivalent of the proud new parent's baby photos stuck around their workstation at the office. It's saying, "Hey - we're parents! We have our own little bundle of joy and we want the world to know!" (In which case, why not just stick a photo of the sprog in the car window, and be done with it?)

Even more vomit-inducing is a particularly distressing variant of the little yellow sign that proudly but tweely proclaims "Small Person On Board". Of course, this could mean that the vehicle in question has Ronnie Corbett, say, or Danny DeVito as a passenger, which I personally think would be more to crow about than merely having a baby in the car. I'm sorry, but almost anyone can have a baby in the car, but how often do you find yourself stopping to give a lift to a hitch-hiking vertically challenged celebrity?

Another scenario would suggest that the people with "Small Person On Board" signs in their cars are actually living in hope of the above actually happening to them and are so enthusiastic about the prospect of chauffeuring a diminuitive celebrity that they've been just a little bit premature in putting the sign in the car window.

Which brings up another point. Shouldn't the sign come down when the baby or small person isn't actually in situ at that point in time? I think a few personal visits from the constabulary could solve this problem: "Excuse me, Sir, Madam. Is that your car that has been parked outside for the last 24 hours? We have reason to believe that there may be a baby or small person, possibly Ronnie Corbett, locked inside."

That'd take care of the bastards. "Baby On Board" indeed.

The only thing that I can think of to be said in favour of the dreaded "Baby On Board" sign, is that when Marge Simpson purchased one for The Simpsons' family car, it inspired Homer, who was singing in a barbershop quartet at the time, to sit down at the piano and compose the immortal words:
Baby on board,
Something something,
Burt Ward!

Hey, this song writes itself!
So, can we please consign these beastly little yellow signs to Room 101? Vote now using the Comments below.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 10:15 pm [edit] 

Friday, April 02, 2004

Ooooh, how exciting!

Apparently, I'm going to have my photo(s) appear in an article about transvestism in the next issue of New Humanist magazine. More details as and when I get them.

I'm also going to be appearing in print elsewhere pretty soon. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag just yet, in case it doesn't go ahead for whatever reason and I end up with egg all over my face. I'll let you know if and when it happens!
posted by Gina Snowdoll 2:57 pm [edit] 

Thursday, April 01, 2004

A chocolatey bribe from Sean Connery

So, the first of April and Hurrah! No more Thames Trains. At Oxford station this evening there were balloons a-plenty and girls handing out chocolates, all to celebrate the fact that the franchise has been taken over by the newly formed First Great Western Link (sister company to - wait for it - First Great Western! Did you guess correctly?).

It was all quite bemusing actually. As I waited in the foyer a strangely familiar and distinguished looking man came over to me and asked in his best Sean Connery voice if I'd like to partake of some chocolates. Unusually for me I'd already had some chocolate earlier at work, as someone had been sharing some around the office, so I politely declined Mr Connery's kind offer.

Really, I'd prefer the new franchise to prove themselves by bettering the service, and not with these flamboyant gestures and Sean Connery lookalikes. This morning's train was still late; the only difference I noticed was that it had obviously been cleaned inside - the floors had been washed. I don't think Thames Trains ever understood the concept of actually cleaning the trains, so that I suppose is something in First Great Western Link's favour already. Let's see how they get on; only time will tell.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:46 pm [edit]