I just got in from a very cool trip. Yesterday I learned from a Facebook meme that Sir Ian McKellen now owns a pub called The Grapes. Being a big Lord Of The Rings fan, I naturally tapped the name into google, only to find it was in Limehouse, just the other side of Canary Wharf. That instantly got me excited, so after breakfast this morning I set off to see if I could find it, catching the DLR over the river and trundling west. I knew it was very unlikely that I would actually meet Sir Ian, but I was curious to see what a pub owned by a wizard was like.
The Grapes wasn’t very hard to find: it’s in a well to do area by the Thames. The only problem was, being about three centuries old, it’s door was rather narrow and hard to get my powerchair through. Once inside though, I was intoxicated: you could almost smell the history; the decor was very rustic and wooden. People must have been drinking there for eons with very little change. The best thing of all, however, was catching sight of Gandalf’s staff behind the bar: I could feel the presence of Mithrandir!
After some deliberation, I decided to stay for a solitary pint before heading on my way. It was still early, and I had more exploring to do. Yet it was already a very cool trip, if just to find that fascinating old pub, owned by one of my favourite actors.
I’m suddenly very, very excited. If you want to see a sneak peak of the second season of Picard, scheduled to hit the airwaves in a couple of months, check this out. This trailer was released less than an hour ago, and looks fantastic. Guinan, one of my all-time favourite Star Trek characters, is back! [Squeal!]
This morning we heard the sad news of the death of Meatloaf. I don’t think I’ve mentioned liking him on here before, but when I heard the news my mind automatically went back to 1993 or ’94, when I was ten or eleven. At school during breaks, the lads in my class used to play music. I remember we all used to dance our young heads off to Meatloaf’s I’d Do Anything For Love. We may have barely understood the lyrics, but we knew it was a cool song.
Meatloaf was one of the greats, whose quintessentially American style of rock meant so much to so many. He will be missed.
Note to self: no matter how bright and sunny it may look outside, some days it is just too cold to go trundling. Far better to stay home in the warm, than get to Kidbrooke to find you feel like you’ve walked into a freezer. Urban exploration is definitely a spring and summer activity.
I just had one of those moments when, idling away a quiet, fairly miserable afternoon, I come across something incredible. And by that I mean truly, truly incredible. If you want to see robots dance the Mash Potato, watch this. It’s a video by an American robotics company called Boston Dynamics, which specialises in top-of-the-range robots. Obviously in this video they’re just showing off, albeit quite wonderfully, but some of the things they have created robots to do,, including gymnastics and parkour, is mind-blowing. I defy anyone vaguely interested in technology not to watch their videos and be blown away.
Watching PMQs earlier, I was enraged as I was last week by the stream of absolute bullshit produced by Boris Johnson. I get so enraged that I probably shouldn’t watch it. Johnson spouted lie after lie, obfuscation after obfuscation; blatantly refusing to answer any question directly while claiming credit for the phenomenal work of the NHS, an organisation he and the Tories would destroy if they had the chance. The hypocrisy, the pomposity, the arrogance we are subject to every Wednesday, from a snobbish toff who thinks authority was his birthright but who should be sweeping the streets, twice fired for lying, boils my blood. We deserve better than the blatant misrule of a group of entitled, privileged toffs who only care about their own wealth and power, and who would lie their heads off to cling on to it.
You can probably all predict what I’m going to write about on here today. The stupid Tory bitch currently calling herself our culture secretary Nadine Dorries has announced the end of the BBC license fee. She has said the next announcement about it’s renewal will be the last. I am, of course, a huge fan of the Beeb: alongside the NHS, it is one of the few institutions which make the UK worth living in. You only have to watch programs like The Green Planet to realise how wonderful it is, and as this Guardian article explains, it does so much more. We would loose an institution of unparalleled, inestimable cultural value if we let the Tory p’tahks continue to play politics with it, using the beeb to distract us from the mess they have created.
To be fair, Dorries is not calling for an end of the BBC (I doubt any politician, apart from utter shits like Peter Bone, would do that), but alternative ways to fund it. Yet as the Guardian piece points out, the bbc is only as great as it is because of the independent way it is funded. ” The principle that matters is that everyone pays in, so it costs far less for a panoply of programming right across the taste spectrum than could ever be funded by subscriptions from a few.” We thus all have equal access to an incredible range of cultural, scientific and current affairs content: we must not allow the tories to threaten that so that only their rich mates can access the best content.
Is anyone else getting irritated with videos on Youtube suddenly becoming adverts? I’m sure I’m not the only one getting pissed off with this phenomenon. Youtube is one of the websites I use the most: like anyone else, I watch all sorts on it, from clips of my favourite films to vlogs about subjects I’m interested in. In the last few months though, I’ve noticed more and more vids being broken up by adverts. I don’t mean the ordinary adverts which you can choose to skip after a few seconds, which are irritating enough. I mean adverts where the person narrating the video – be it a film review say, or a piece about history – suddenly breaks the flow of the film to advertise some random, totally irrelevant product. The manufacturers of the product obviously pay them to do so, but to have a video which you may be enjoying suddenly broken up by an advert which you cannot skip, presented as part of the video itself, really pisses me off. It would be like me suddenly interrupting the flow of my blog entries to tell readers to buy a random, unrelated product. It strikes me as a complete sell out and I instantly loose all respect for whoever is delivering the film.
A few days ago, for example, I was watching a video by Calvin Dyson, a James Bond reviewer who I used to have a lot of respect for: the video was quite an interesting one about a 1987 James Bond TV special with Roger Moore, but about nine minutes in, Dyson suddenly started trying to flog a random brand of wallet. He too had obviously sold out to those trying to make money out of people’s interests. The problem is, it’s happening more and more on youtube as big corporations try to cash in on the growing popularity of it’s users, but in doing so they wash away the independence and integrity which made the site so great. Part of what made people like Dyson so interesting was their fresh, raw sense of independence; the fact they have no attachments to big, mainstream media. They are just creating videos for the love of the subject. As soon as they start getting paid to advertise things as part of the videos they make, however, they loose that independence, and with it my respect.
I was watching the BBC lunchtime news earlier, and I couldn’t help noticing a bit of a theme running through at least the first two stories: First there was a report about yet more parties in Downing Street during lockdown. Apparently civil servants there were breaking social distancing rules willy-nilly, having boozy parties whenever they wished. This coming on the back of the revelation that Boris Johnson had attended such a party just weeks before. These tory toffs clearly don’t think the rules don’t apply to them, and that they have a right to do whatever they like, no matter who it hurts or insults.
We then had the news of the arrogant prick Novak Djokovic, still trying to get into Australia to play in the open despite refusing to get vaccinated. He and those supporting him are now arguing that he’s being treated unfairly somehow, and that the Australian government should waive the rules and just let him in because of who he is. Just how arrogant can you get? I’m glad to see the Aussies are sticking to their guns and insisting no one enters without a vaccination.
Both stories obviously relate to the pandemic, but both are also about wealthy people attempting to use their privilege to escape the rules which apply to the rest of us. In both stories we see rich, white, able bodied people trying to escape the restrictions which we all must obey, just because of who they are. In both we find the same kind of arrogance and contempt for others; the same kind of entitled disregard for the wellbeing of those they see as below their inherent social rank. The only way to get passed this pandemic is if we all work together and obey the rules; but if that is so, it is people like this who are the problem.