15 August 2009

Game Day!

We'll be on a television near you from 12.45pm today.

Bring it on...

14 August 2009

And your time starts .... now!

TJ's done a music quiz on his blog, and I don't know any of the answers at all. Therefore I've done my own music quiz, loosely based on the idea that if I am capable of setting these questions, then you should be well equipped to respond correctly. I wonder how many Kevin Ashman could get? I'll delay publishing any responses until 5pm at the earliest so that you're not tempted to look when the boy Masterton claims 20 out of 20. Here goes...

1 - Which song was written as a direct riposte to Southern Man by Neil Young?

2 - Who was the balding frontman of one hit wonders Classix Nouveaux who then had a similarly singular solo career?

3 - Rick Witter is the lead singer of which 90s band?

4 - Who provided the female vocals on the Prince hit Diamonds & Pearls?

5 - What was the question of considerable fuckwittery that Donna Air put to the Corrs on television?

6 - Which rock star's former careers included youth footballer with Brentford and gravedigger?

7 - Yootha Joyce appeared on the front cover of which Smiths single?

8 - How many members of the Sweet are still alive?

9 - Who was Leslie Crowther's hellraising son-in-law for a while?

10 - Which is the only song to have been number one in the UK in four entirely different versions?

11 - Which actor did the hammed up "we have a dream" cobblers on Scotland's 1982 World Cup song?

12 - Working Man was a hit for who in 1990?

13 - Which song won Madness an Ivor Novello award in 1983?

14 - "I said that I would marry her, that pretty girl in the lower year..." is a line from which Top 10 hit of the 1980s?

15 - Which product did the Kinks have to remove from the lyrics of one of their songs in 1970?

16 - Which brother and sister sang Ain't Nobody together at the BRIT awards earlier this decade?

17 - "Hi, my name's Stereo Mike!" is the introduction on which 1999 hit?

18 - Which was the first single released off the Sterephonics' album Performance And Cocktails?

19 - A child called Abby Kimber uttered the closing line on which 1980s number one single?

20 - Which actress did the running at the end of the video to Bryan Adams' hit Run To You?

13 August 2009

Boxing clever

Amir Khan doesn't approve, but there has been generally a warm reaction to the news that boxing for women is to be included in the Olympic Games. It was previously the only Olympic sport which was gender exclusive, and so that particular bubble has been popped.

I remember when women's boxing was in the headlines a few years back and the chauvinists crawled from within their brandy glasses and said boxing was too violent for women. People with no medical knowledge whatsoever suggested that boxing could ruin a woman's fertility, despite a) not actually knowing this for certain; b) not wondering if any female boxer especially wants children; and c) not taking into account that a low blow in men's boxing can equally cause problems in the procreation department.

Boxing in the Olympics remains genuinely amateur, hence why it is an authentic Olympic event which embraces the original ideals of the Games. Professional boxers are barred from competing, which means that the Olympics is the pinnacle for those who are good enough and qualified enough to partake.

This is not the case for some Olympic sports, however. And it is with some horror that further such sports may be added to the already portly schedule.

Golf, as an Olympic sport, is being heavily promoted right now. Professional golfers would be permitted to compete. Tiger Woods could end up with an Olympic gold medal, but the very fact that he would rather have any or all of the four majors than a ribboned circle around his neck should automatically bar golf from the Olympiad.

The same applies to darts, which is also being mooted for Olympic inclusion. I love darts and will defend it forever against a particularly harsh brand of sneering detractor who suggests it is no more than a pub game for drunkards. But the world championship - be it the one Phil Taylor goes after or the proper one currently held by Ted Hankey - is the summit of any arrowsman's ambitions.

Football is, madly, an Olympic sport and causes ample controversy simply because the best available competitors either choose not to take part, or are barred from doing so by their clubs. It thereby nullifies the impact and standards on show during the Games. Footballers want to win the World Cup, followed by their own continental championships. It's evident that the biggest club prizes, like the Champions League, are also miles more important to footballers than the Olympics could ever dream to be.

Tennis is the same, even though the top competitors are more likely to turn out. An Olympic medal round Andy Murray's neck might be very nice, but he'd toss a 2012 gong into the Thames if it meant the Wimbledon or US Open title was winging his way over the next few years.

The only sports at the Olympics which should remain, or be admitted, are the ones which have success at the Games as the main reason for the competitor's existence. Any where the Olympics are treated as a sideshow, or even a holiday, should have a thick black line crossed right through them (as should the likes of gymnastics and half of the Winter Olympic events, but they're for another reason, and another day...)

12 August 2009

"I had to wear a black jumper with a purple stripe..."

A very favourable review of the revamped TV Cream site from Web User magazine, which was enjoyed considerably by the staffers from the website who met in London for ale last night. The photo is courtesy of Steve, who was so taken with the review he uploaded it on to Twitter in between sips of iced cider.

Prior to joining everyone at the Phoenix bar, I killed a few hours of London time by walking the Embankment in the baking heat. This involved leaving Embankment tube station, crossing the footbridge next to it and then walking along the south side of the Thames, past the Royal Festival Hall and under Blackfriars before walking back across the river on the ex-wobbly Millennium Bridge and heading back the way I'd come on the north side. I eventually completed the imperfect circle and continued right through Westminster and finally to Victoria station, from where I headed to join the others.

This was a two hour stroll in total and, as you'll know whether you are resident of London or just an occasional visitor, a wander of reasonable length in the capital enables you to see pretty much every type of person that may exist in the world. I'm not a great people-watcher, but this was fascinating. From octogenarians in pointless overcoats ambling towards the riverboat queue, to small children in the new Chelsea shirt nagging for ice cream, and everyone in between. Teenagers whizzing round on bikes and skateboards, flexitimers in a hired deckchair with their heads buried in a good book, joggers in lycra with mp3 players welded to their ears, people asleep on benches with their jackets over their eyes, foreign visitors photographing absolutely everything.

If you are a visitor like me, you also do find yourself celeb-spotting a lot, even though the chances of seeing someone famous within many thousands of entirely anonymous people are slim.

Twice I thought I saw famous people. One was George Alagiah, but as he walked past me it was clear it wasn't him. Pity, as I may have been tempted to do Harry Hill's "deep fat firer..." line his way. The other was Anne Charleston, whose identity I was totally sure of until I heard her speak. There was no Aussie twang with a hint of Ilkley Moor in her raucously south England tones, and so again I was disappointed.

Upon later arrival at the Phoenix, sweating, I calmed and cooled myself with a steady flow of lager for the next few hours, while enjoying the anecdotes and gossip that this event always brings. F-C led the way, as always, with tales of the various women in television he wishes had got the This Morning gig ahead of Holly Willoughby, to the extent that we concluded that Jean Boht would have been better.

There was also my revelation (which is not interesting, but I was proud of it) that Treasure Hunt was and is the only television game show where the names of the contestants were included in the end credits (below Kenneth and Anneka/Annabel, and above Wincey) and a further revelation from elsewhere on the table that Val Doonican's full name was Valentine. I never knew this...

An elongated discussion on Grange Hill followed, complete with impromptu "identify the character"/"name this teacher and her daughter"/"how did this boy die"/"who was her secret boyfriend"* quiz via some hastily discovered photographs on an iPhone. All good fun, of course.

Perhaps the strangest thing about the whole evening was the soundtrack on the speakers. This place has an idiosyncratic musical taste, to say the least, and after any number of wanky John Barrowman cover versions, we got an unfamiliar version of much-loved TV Cream karaoke standard I Know Him So Well. Sadly, it started to skip from the Barbara verse onwards, leading us to sing the "No-one in your life is with you constantly..." bit over and over (and over, and over) again until, finally, one of our party could stand it no more and went to inform the evidently deaf bar staff that their CD player was buggered.

*Kevin Baylon/Mrs Regan and Laura/drowned in the swimming pool/Stewpot Stewart

10 August 2009

Creased up

"Please let us have another go!" pleaded Mark Ramprakash when he and Karen Hardy had to stop dancing due to a wiring malfunction on Strictly Come Dancing. He got his wish, and eventually won the whole event. Now maybe he is issuing the same plea to the England selectors as a batting crisis hits the side with one crucial Test remaining.

I'm interested in cricket but certainly no expert. However, even I can see that recalling Ramprakash for the win-or-bust fifth Test against the Australians would be simply insane.

Those arguing in his favour point to his form, his averages and the fact that the England middle order is currently in disarray, with Pietersen and Flintoff out injured and the likes of Bopara and Bell well short of anything convincing.

Ramprakash has been tipped for a call-up because it's a one-off, winner-takes-all Test. A draw will be no good as the holders of the Ashes automatically retain them by default, and Australia are the holders.

But he is 39 years old. He may not be able to stand a five day match involving possibly long slogs interspersed with lots of dawdling in the field. And if the slogs aren't long, then it means he has failed. You can't call up anyone, even someone of his experience, as a publicly-labelled "saviour" of the England team, because if he then fails to score runs he will be pilloried, in that charmingly unbalanced British way, as forever a failure.

He hasn't played Test cricket for seven years and he wasn't anything more than underwhelming during his Test career anyway. He has a good history, it appears, when it comes to bashing the Aussies round the field in the last Test of an Ashes series, but given that we didn't win a single one of those series' during his Test career, it's clear he was doing so with the pressure off as he was playing dead rubber cricket.

And with his exceptional but easily misunderstood dip in the waters of competitive dancing of late, the sledging possibilities for Aussie fielders - yes, they may have decided to stop it, but no uncultured Aussie worth his salt could resist a dig at Ramprakash's parquet-based escapades - are endless.

However, if he brings Karen along as the person who brings the drinks out every other hour, I'll have a rethink. Especially if she wears full cricket kit...

9 August 2009

"Todd Rundgren at 8.15am?"

What a top weekend. My cousin got married on Saturday and it was a smashing wedding. They got the weather they needed and everything went like clockwork.

I was hungover for the occasion as the evening before I had hosted the latest Nerd Night, our bi-monthly gathering of radio types to eat, drink and swap gossip of mass destruction while also discussing jingles and prefade buttons in as crashingly a dull manner as it sounds. Hull welcomed these highly respected media professionals into its bosom for the evening and a fine time was had by all, as ever.

Charles Nove and I are in the pic, with Charles demonstrating the plastered-on smile that all practised celebs perfect in their opening weeks of notoriety.

Now, if you know Hull at all, you'll be aware that the city splits in half as far as nightlife choices are concerned. The new town has the trendy bars, pikeys in Ben Sherman shirts and by the night's close, many thousands of separate DNA samples floating along the road guttering in the form of vomit, blood and urine.

The old town is where the smarter, quieter and more sophisticated pubs and bars are housed, within the arcane buildings of our ancient city. This was, naturally, our destination for the evening's revelry, initally in a pub called the Manchester Arms and then on to a restaurant called Cooks Endeavour.

The arrival of the great Martin Kelner led to a conversation about Radio Aire in Leeds, the original line-up of which he was part when it launched in 1981. Only the fiercest of radio anoraks could duly rattle through the programme schedule of said station in said year. Now I like radio and am capable of mildly nerdish facts but the launch line-up of a radio station in a city where I didn't live (at a time when I was still at primary school) was not one of them. However, Simon Hirst was quick off the mark, going through every name, what they did next and the way their personal ID jingle sounded. It comes naturally to him. And yet he is three years younger than me and grew up in Barnsley, so should have heard (of) Radio Aire in 1981 at least as much (ie, as little) as I did.

Upon decamp to the restaurant, BBC Radio Tees breakfast host John Foster's mobile rang just as we were being shown to our table. His ringtone was the theme of Good Morning Britain, which led to long conversations about the merit (both as presenter and symbol of lust) of Kathy Tayler, a hostess in the later 80s on that settee whose woodenness with a camera was alleviated by her decorative qualities. Especially when she had just come back all tanned after a stint on Holiday '88.

From this, there was a discussion about whether Carol Dooley (TV-am weather person of sizeable specs from that era, having done the Mayo forecasts previously) preceded Sybil Ruscoe as the breakfast weather bintage for Mayo or succeeded her (it was the former), and this allowed us to then mention Ja(c)k(k)i(e) Brambles, Ruscoe's eventual successor. Are you keeping up? It was all a bit scattergun, but it eventually led to discussion of the differing ways Adrian John and Gary King would approach the 5am pips when on Radio 1 early show duty, in the days when the station was still closing down at night and re-opening the next morning (for what it's worth, one used to sing the jingle under the pips and the other used to wish the pips good morning). Inevitably, this finally led on to the discussion all semi-nerdish DJs have at some point in their careers; the thrill and enjoyment of waking up at 4.55am to listen to the station's daily launch with a stack of back-to-back jingles.

Ahhhhhhh. I know, this doesn't appear to be a thrill a minute. But to us, oooh... it is thrilling, exciting, mesmeric, mouthwatering stuff. This is why Alex labelled it Nerd Night on his show and the name stuck.

The food was excellent and then it was on to my favourite old town pub, Ye Olde Black Boy, for more ale and more discussion about anything relating to the industry, and perhaps just a little not relating so. Our pal Daryl Denham turned up at this point and before long was at the badly tuned piano and leading us all in a chorus of Ain't No Pleasing You. Naturally, only Hirsty knew the words.

Wandering the cobbled streets after the pub chucked out, we stopped at a burger van so that a handful of the more gluttonous partygoers could top up the meal and the liquor with a slab of circular flesh of dubious origin. As we walked, a local girl managed to get her heels stuck between the cobbles, making her lurch headlong into the arses of some our party who were walking in front of her. There was a brief pause as we wondered what to say about this evident bit of indecent assault on the male form, and also to check the inebriated lass was okay. Charles came up with the best line:

"It's okay. We're doctors!"

There was a pause while the alcohol-marinated brain of this female took in the information and she considered a droll and lucid response.

"Doctors my f**king arse!"

Charles was quick.

"Well, that's not my speciality, but...."

The voice of the balls had spoken, and when he speaks, millions listen. Or, in this case, fifteen laugh.

On we shall go, probably to Blackpool next. I'm then thinking of asking my good friend Callum, as frequent a contributor to this blog as anyone, to take us round Brighton at Christmas. He now has a chance to refuse in front of all of us...