23 October 2009

Nick, Dick, take yer pick

And I too watched Question Time last night. I watch it most weeks so wasn't settling down before something new and inviting, like many people were, but nonetheless it was evidently not a 'normal' episode of the programme. Go see Broken TV for an especially marvellous analysis of what was said and done.

What did really enhance the public slaying of Nick Griffin and his poison was the running commentary and instant reactions on Twitter. This is a fine way of showing why Twitter works, why it's entertaining, why it's addictive. Everyone using the #bbcqt hashtag had something funny or enthralling to add as the programme rumbled on.

A few of my favourite quotes:-

"Blimey, at this rate the bonk-eyed racist won't even have an arse to be handed before he leaves..." @AndyMedcalf

"Surprising amount of people 'sieg-heiling' between questions." @serafinowicz

"This is the worst Mock The Week I've ever seen..." @HaggiWaggi

"Soon Griffin will be claiming he was misquoted by himself..." @charltonbrooker

"Dimbers was about to describe Gately as a member of a "popular beat combo" on the "Hit Parade"..." @smithsky1979

"Inside Bonnie's head 'Don't agree with me you bastard'." @feelinglistless

"I would find Jack Straw kissing Nick Griffin repulsive..." @serafinowicz

"It's a shame the BNP knows what it's getting for Christmas..." @serafinowicz

"Typical leftist BBC destroying the BNP by letting its leader talk in public. It's a plot." @minifig

"I am not sure I enjoyed this week's edition of Britain's Got Racists..." @edgarwright

"The campaign to get Nick Griffin on Who Do You Think You Are starts now..." @athinkingman

And my absolute favourite...

"'Churchill, are you upset that the BNP have used you as a figurehead?' "Ohhhh yes!" @SallyClarke

21 October 2009

It's an honour

Jack Dee has offered a humble response to the news that Winchester University is to award him an honorary degree. He grew up in Winchester, bummed through school and became a waiter with a drink problem before discovering he could make people laugh. His local university has acknowledged his contribution to the town with a free degree.

I suppose an honorary degree is one of those surefire signs that you've made it in terms of fame, public success or notoriety, like an entry in Who's Who? or a Rear of the Year nomination, or an appearance on A Question Of Sport (all sports stars claim this proves they've done well) or, more generally, Have I Got News For You.

Having not gone to university and almost certainly never likely to, I suppose an honorary doctorate is my only chance of getting letters after my name and a square hat on my head.

So no hope or Bob Hope, then.

Honorary degrees cause controversy, of course. I still can't believe that Robert Mugabe was offered one by the University of Edinburgh, albeit back in 1984 when the idea of Rhodesia being rebranded and de-westernised still sat well with society. Famously, Margaret Thatcher was denied one by Oxford because of spending cuts on higher education, and Jim Hacker was offered one by Baillie College, Oxford in return, unofficially, for reassurances about funding. That last one might not have happened...

Billy Connolly received notice of his honorary doctorate from Glasgow almost to the day that his wife Pamela Stephenson completed years of hard study to get her psychology degree, therefore causing something of a domestic. Again, this may have been embellished to look coincidental in her book about him. Meanwhile, Jeremy Clarkson was attacked by environmental protestors as he posed for the cameras with his award from Brunel University. He reacted sportingly, and said something about "too much sugar", as I recall.

Looking through the history of honorary degrees, they were initially awarded to famous academics, in pre-mass media days when only people with real brains earned any sort of public profile. These days, they go to someone who has achieved something worthwhile or infamous, with or without academic backing, preferably with a connection to the university's city, hence why people who drive cars fast or tell jokes are deemed as worthy of a place in the university gallery as the man who invented the steam engine or the first writer of the English dictionary.

Let the paid columnists moan about this - I'm just interested in what Jack Dee's acceptance speech will be like.

19 October 2009

Let's get physical #4

And so back to the gym we go. I'm still traipsing along four times a week and still trying to overcome the potential boredom threshold that goes with it.

But I am improving, and I am taking it seriously - my recent purchase of some tracksuit bottoms and a drinks bottle proves this, surely. More pertinently, I can now do the whole 30 minute treadmill session at a sturdy nine kilometres an hour which means the calorie target is almost reached when I stagger off, panting and perspiring, before even touching any other endurance contraption or the weights.

Podcasts do help more than music when it comes to passing the time and stopping you from watching each second tick by, wishing it was far closer to the end than it is. You do get odd looks from other people though when you realise that your little, self-created world has made you laugh out loud at a pithy comment on Jennifer Aniston that Mark Kermode has just made.

Anyway, anything is preferable to 4Music, which seems to be perennially on the screens in the gym when younger members are about and appears to show the same JLS video every 15 minutes.

That said, a Freeview-accessible radio station was on the screen when I turned up a week last Sunday - and I happened to be on the air, in all my pre-recorded glory. A rock fan with long hair, a bandana and camouflage trousers had put it on while pumping the dumbells and so I quietly slipped my iPod in, not wishing to hear any adverse reaction to any of the lovingly crafted links I had put between songs. However, when camouflage man had gone, I did overhear one younger member say words to the effect of "turn that shit off" and 4Music was instantly selected, just in time for the new JLS video, again. I said nothing and kept running. Professional artists will always confront the uneducated every now and then, darling...

Another decent achievement of late is that I've also managed to tolerate, if not master or gain affection for, the cross trainer. This vile machine usually makes my calf muscles spontaneously combust after 30 seconds but recently, maybe because my body is now used to a bit of exertion, the pain in my lower legs has subsided enough for me to grimace through it. It also feels like the sort of lactic acid build-up that suggests I'm doing something right on the wretched thing, though I wish the manager hadn't put a mirror up directly opposite because it is one of the campest activities a man can do.

I still aren't using the stepper. And it would appear nobody does. It's in an adjoining room with two exercise bikes and only the bikes need to be wiped down by the staff each day, it seems.

Anyway, the calories are shifting, the shoulders look a bit better and, most importantly, half a stone has gone. I'm getting there.