Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Jackson 4

Interviewed this very interesting lady today called Jacqui Jackson. She has seven children, four boys and three girls. All four of her sons are on the autistic spectrum. She is a single mother, who's also doing a pHD. Impressive, no?

Bizarrely, we did the interview in an empty, furnitureless room on Pentonville Road, an unused top-floor office of the publishing company who prints her books. Both of us sat on the floor, me cross-legged like some eager Buddha, her leaning against the wall.

She didn't have much positive to say about the education system (which was the focus of the interview), not surprising as it hasn't really done many good things for her sons ("Bullying will teach them to stand up for themselves" "Your son messes around in class" etc). There seemed to be a long line of teachers who don't know how to deal with the boys - not that surprising, as I imagine it's not exactly easy to teach autistic kids. So she's really had to fight for them.

Jackson was also rather admirably unflustered by the fact that Helena Bonham-Carter is playing her in a forthcoming BBC documentary. Apparently Helena is "very nice".

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thai fool

My friend Dan, who's teaching in Thailand, phoned my mobile this afternoon, from Thailand, to ask what the time was over here. I told him it was 4.15 in the afternoon. He said, "OH BOLLOCKS", said he'd see me later and hung up. I have no idea why.

Lowlands chat

"I went to Holland for a music festival." This is a sentence I've said at least 14 times today at work (they keep asking me if I've been away. I suspect this is because my face has gone David Dickinson orange, not because I've been hugely missed).

"No, not in Amsterdam. It's called Lowlands, about an hour away from Amsterdam?" [insert your own irritating rising inflection at end of sentence] After four days camping, amazingly, I didn't get home feeling like I'd been turned inside out. But this may have been due to my £16.99 luxury camping pillow.

So here is who I saw (by the way, the headline above is an irrelevant pun on "Rowland Rat"):

Friday:
Polyphonic Spree - epic, summery, uplifting. But seeing Arcade Fire make you realise that the Spree probably write songs using raffle tickets and dice, so rhapsodic are their tunes.

Magic Numbers - not bad at all (I said bad, not fat). More harmony-soaked lullabies. But I did get a bit annoyed when they stopped yet another song to do a cappella "woah woah baby" bit.

Kaiser Chiefs - brilliant. My comment that "they may have peaked slightly early" was laughed out of the park, and rightly so. The only band that actually listened to the timeless advice, "more cowbell".

Franz Ferdinand - also fab. Best bit was Alex Kapranos introducing their biggest hit Take Me Out with the line, "This is an old song, made famous by Vera Lynn in the 1940s."

Tom Vek - hadn't really got him before, but hearing a 14-year-old boy sing the same sentence 18 times in a row is really surprisingly addictive. You must try it sometime.

Saturday:
Apocalyptica - four classically-trained cellists and a drummer play Metallica covers. Unbelievably this was in the main tent. Still more unbelievably, they do this without a hint of humour. Even more unbelievably, it was great.

Maximo Park - very loud, very cool. I kept getting the sneaking suspicion they'd become 2005's Shed Seven. Is this a bad thing? Discuss.

Arcade Fire - sheer genius. Definitely one of the top three gigs I've ever seen. Never have I felt so grateful for the existence of Canadians. And if that wasn't good enough, their drummer climbed the lighting rig.

Art Brut - Eddie Argos is my hero, even with that moustache. This actually bordered on stand-up, but with amazing tunes.

Pixies - I always forget how sprightly and poppy the Pixies are. They're not like Nirvana at all! Started slightly cocky, with an ultra-slow Wave of Mutilation, but that was probably just Frank Black saving his voice.

The Others - only caught the end of this, but got to see Dominic Masters screaming "disappointment!" into the mike. He loves doing this.

Sunday:
Morcheeba - they've got a new singer. I was sceptical, because she kept grinning as if she'd been told "look like you're enjoying yourself!" beforehand. But her sweetasanut saxophone solo won the crowd over. Me and Jamie hung back and smoked.

Sons and Daughters - it's a cracking album, but the old ones dragged a bit. Note: lead guitarist looks like villain out of Die Another Day.

Futureheads - much more FUN than you'd think. After all, their lyrics are really silly (in a good way).

Nick Cave - Only saw the first four. Liked him, but still don't understand what it all means.

Foo Fighters - best bit was when Dave Grohl took to the drums. The drum kit fits round him like a Grohl-shaped box. He has a unique way of banging cymbals, it's almost hypnotic.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Take a haiku

Spent most of Saturday grappling with James Bond (feature I'm trying to write). Later, met Birdy and Emily for a brief drink in Arch 635. Cool bar, bizarrely situated beneath the train track - every now and again you could hear an ominous rumbling overhead. For some reason, the only place left for us to sit was a vaulting horse, the kind usually confined to gyms. Don't know what it was doing there (everything else was comfy sofas and bar stools), but definite haiku material:

On a vaulting horse
The three of us sat in line
And drank, legs dangling.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Gone to the dogs

Yesterday I went down to Wimbledon stadium to the greyhound racing. Met up with my old schoolfriend Si, who I haven't seen in ages. He's been living in London for some months now, but this is the first time we've met up because we're both crap.

It was a strange old night. I thought it would be a "once you've seen one greyhound race, you've seen them all" situation, but the night flew towards 10.30 (last race) with surprising speed. I bet a fiver on a dog called Farloe Heights to win. He didn't. Demoralised, I bet a lowly two quid on Glen Rebel to win. He didn't either. So I spent my money on pints of Carslberg, which is clearly a much better investment. Si, of course, made about thirty quid.

We were struck by how many younger people were there. Canadian Simon said we could've been in a club, and he was right: there were lots of 18-24s in shirts, standing around chatting, clutching their plastic pint glasses. Paul suggested that there were probably a lot of people attending "for a joke". The 'ironic' visit to the dogtrack. And maybe that was why we were there, but it was still much fun. I liked the way that because the names of the hounds are so unwieldy, people were cheering numbers. "Come on four! FOOOOUUURR!!!" and so on.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Crisp innovation league

Saw an advert yesterday for an invention that will surely shake the world of crisps to its very core. A jumbo pack of Doritos that opens side-on. Thus solving the irritating sticking-your-hand-in routine when sharing crisps.

I really hope there's a trendy creative who got paid millions to come up with that idea. In my opinion, he moves swiftly into 3rd place in the 21st Century Crisp Innovation League, just behind the kid who came up with Walker's Sensations ("I've got it! Crisps for posh people!") and the girl wonder who realised they should put the flavour on the inside of Hula Hoops as well as the outside ("If we could just find a way to get the flavour on both sides. Hold on...!").

Went for a drink last night with my friend Rick, who I've known for 16 years now. We met up in this Clapham bar called Rinky Dinks (horrible name), where Rick claimed his brother recently saw Val Kilmer (who is, in fact, in London, doing The Postman Always Rings Twice). He told me that one of his friends had recently been beaten up in Brixton "by 15 black guys" as revenge for the murder of teenager Anthony Walker and had both his legs broken. Rick said that he'd been going to the gym a bit more as a precaution. I'm not sure this'll help him much if he does get attacked, but if it makes him happy...

Then we saw this bloke we both knew at university walking past. He stopped to have a drink too. You know how people with more common names often get given a prefix ("Crazy Jamie", "Swiss Andy" etc)? Well this guy has it worse than most. He's known as Gyno John. Because his Dad is a gynaecologist. And the funny thing is: everyone calls him this, all the time.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Vaughan Supremacy

Cricket news: congratulations to England captain Mr Michael Vaughan on his excellent century and return to form with the bat. Also, thanks are due for giving me the excuse to use the fabulous pun above.

Lost time

Last night was the British debut of Lost on Channel 4. The hype had been pretty massive, which I suppose is what you get when you do a massively expensive and stylised David LaChappelle trailer. There's also the 10pm Wednesday night factor: everyone assumes it'll automatically be the next Six Feet Under because it's from America, it's about an hour an episode, and Channel 4 are sticking it on at 10 on Wednesday nights. Like Desperate Housewives.

But unlike Desperate Housewives, Lost was pretty cliché-free and actually rather good. So far, it's hard to tell whether it's going the way of X-Files sci-fi, Jurassic Park action, or Twin Peaks weirdness and such genre-defying tricksiness is part of the appeal.

Okay, the script had it's dodgy moments: it was only five minutes in before the hero, Jack, went off on a dreamy flashback-eyed reminiscence ("It was my first surgical procedure. I was a surgeon in downtown Brooklyn. I had to perform a quasi-cervical-spinotrachteochtomy on a 16-year-old girl," he waxed) and the end of the third episode (yes, I kept watching) finished with this horrible everyone's-happy musical interlude, but otherwise it was totally gripping.
And Dominic Monaghan arguably stole the show - hasn't he come a long way since the days of Hetty Wainthrop Investigates?!

My evening reached ecstatic levels when odious housemate Craig was evicted from Big Brother; the sneering man-child fool was finally sent packing. He is part of a horrible new breed of Big Brother goons, who spend more and more time discussing their post-BB "careers" while still in the house and talk of their "fanbase", despite having no contact with the outside world. Now he's out, I'm not sure whether I'd prefer Craig to be completely ignored by the world and to sink back into obscurity, or for him to get his oft-pined for chatshow just so he can mess it up and experience public humiliation on an even grander scale.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Back in the USSR

My friend, flatmate and onetime colleague Paul is supposed to be heading off to Moscow tomorrow. He got a job working for Russia Today TV, this new government-funded television station which is designed to portray Russia as a fun-loving happy place, rather than a gloomy vodka-soaked dystopia.

Anyway, to celebrate his departure, it was decided that on Saturday we should get extremely drunk and then go and do karaoke in a private room. And that was exactly what happened. It's been a while since I've seen so much mayhem, but I guess that's what you get if you stick eight reprobates in a small room with a microphone and keep bringing them beer.

There are a number of hazy memories, but special mention must go to Darren's rendition of Ghostbusters (dedicated to Robin Cook), Canadian Simon's unbelievable Axel Rose impersonations and (oh my God, memory fragments keep drifting back; I think I did ELO's Mr Blue Sky, but I'm not sure) the obligatory Back in the USSR shout-along. Hurrah.

I should probably finish this with Paul's rather eloquent farewell message:

Comrade Stalin once said: "You have a man, you have a problem; if you have no man, you have no problem." And so I will be gone.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Debut

Er. Hello. I'm a bit scared about this blogging business. As I was signing up, I thought, wow, this is so self-indulgent. Come and read about my fascinating life. But then Jimi Hendrix was pretty self-indulgent wasn't he? And he made pretty good noises. Not that I have the talent of Hendrix – no, I'm probably closer to Donovan.

So anyway, if you don't know me, I'm Will. I live in Stockwell – don't worry, I'm not a terrorist, relax. And I'm 24. Boring, huh? But there is one very unusual thing about me: I am secretly a centaur.

Anyway, I'm at work at the moment, so I should really get on with stuff. I work in central London, for a website. I sort out the words, content and that, nothing too technical. Sometimes I do some cheeky freelance hackery on the side, but only occasionally.

So there's historic entry number one. This truly will be a day to remember forever.