Monthly Archives: July 2007

Let me be ABSOLUTELY clear from the outset

I did not film this video. I did, however, edit it according to the brief.

And I think it’s come out rather well. Should anyone want to do anything so contemporary as to Digg it, however one does such a thing, I shan’t stand in their way.

Duriasm.

Viewer discretion is advised. Worksafeness depends on employer policies, local weather conditions and current terror threat level. It’s a bit filthy, but only in your own head.

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Free web rant with every bill

Older viewers may remember me remarking on the general rubbishness
of the British Gas web site house.co.uk, which included picklists for
credit card start and expiry dates allowing any year from 1900 to
2999.

They’ve just completely redesigned (and reimplemented, by the look
of the URLs) their site. And what a grand job they’ve done
(sarcasm).

I shall list the sins, in order of discovery, after the jump.
If you don’t want to know the result, look away now…

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Oh, so that’s how it ends

Just back from town, where I speed-read HP and the DH.

It’s about wizards.

I believe I know all the interesting plot points, which I won’t divulge, of course.

Every bookshop was packed to the gills with excited buyers, and less so with available copies. A stressed-out WHSmith pimpledroid was encouraging people to abandon the queue downstairs to join another queue upstairs, but nobody was taking much notice. Apparently Borders alone sold 1200 copies after midnight, with the queue snaking from the Market Street end upstairs and downstairs again.

Desperately sadly, while lunching I saw two teenage girls ask their neighbour to take a photo of them holding up their copies of the book. And around almost every corner in Waterstones sprawled a bandwagon traveller, nose embedded a hundred pages into a hardback.

Regardless of the merits of this particular book or the series as a whole, it’s got non-readers reading, which must be a good thing. It’s also made the-one-who-must-not-be-named and her publishers buckets of cash. The publishers and the retailers will no doubt beg for more stories, but she’s moneybags enough to unleash the hounds and take no notice. I hope so.

So the question for the publishers becomes: what’s next? They’ll be desperate to find “the next Harry Potter” to repeat today’s bonanza. I expect a number of failed attempts, all based on Potteresque themes, before another surprise hit. That is, after all, the way of the muggles.

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Different Camber

My annual trip to Camber Sands took place on Sunday and Monday. This year’s word is “different”. Oh, and also “Colin”.

Different because one of the group is no longer with us :-(

And because several other regular attendees were absent, because of the weather and other reasons.

And because I won fourth prize in the boules competition, only my second trophy in at least nineteen attempts.

And because the day ended with the most incredible storm I’ve ever witnessed, already dubbed Camber Storm Colin. Monsoon multiplied by five. Constant lightning. Hailstones smashing car windows (mine were OK, but others in the group weren’t so lucky). The photos don’t do it justice.

And because Camber Storm Colin and its aftermath meant we didn’t play our usual game of tippit.

And for other reasons too.

And here are the photos.

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HP and the O of the P

I have still never read any of the Harry Potter books. I fear I never shall, with the final book imminent and whatever resolution it contains sure to be plastered onto all web pages by law within fifteen seconds of its release. Hardly seems worth it. Oh, I know what I’ll do. I’ll open a copy of the new book at the last page just to see how it ends. Yeah. In the middle of Borders, on release day, surrounded by excited kids. Then I’ll say “Oh, it was all a dream!” and walk away.

Last night, venturing to the opening night of HP5 at the Vue with Chris, Melanie, Lynda and Louise, we were second in the queue behind a group of Americans and vowed not to sit near them. They did whoop, but only once or twice. Sadly there were no people dressed as wizards to mock; nor did anyone storm out furiously at a trivial difference from the book. Disappointing really.

For a non-fan like myself, I did find it slightly confusing at the beginning trying to remember who the hell some of the characters were. Did we see him/her in HP[1234] or am I imagining it? While I’d hate to see a “previously on Harry Potter” segment, some kind of script-based reminder (subtle, not “Hi Harry, remember me from the fight to the death at the end of last term?”) might have assisted the more casual viewer.

(Ranty aside: blockbuster films can blithely assume you remember events of the last film 18 months ago, but all lifestyle/makeover TV shows are compelled to repeat themselves endlessly, telling you after a break what happened before the break, telling you before a break what’s going to happen after the break, reminding you who everyone is and what they’re doing because you haven’t seen them for all of three minutes, as if we’re all drooling mouth-breathers unable to retain the most trivial factoid for more than a microsecond. I blame Thatcher. End of rant.)

Scenery, effects, comedy moments: all present and correct.

Ginger gurning update: only once. He can’t act scared, poor lad. Otherwise the performances aren’t bad, though I’m never convinced by the Hermione girl. Imelda Staunton steals the show as (checks Wikipedia) Dolores Umbridge.

The biggest laugh in the film was, I am sure, not intended as such. It’s up there alongside Anakin’s dream about his mother. That’ll teach us to go to an evening showing.

POINTLESS FACT: This is the shortest film so far, and adapted from the longest book. It’s true, I read it on the intertubes. And the film is relatively fat-free; no superfluous scenes that I remember. One character who might qualify as padding was, apparently, cut in an earlier draft and resurrected at the request of a certain billionaire author, hinting strongly of a pivotal role in book seven.

POINTLESS FACT: The word “muggle” is now in the OED.

POINTLESS FACT: JK Rowling is now secretly Empress of Earth and walks only on powdered diamonds.

Avaragado’s rating: one packet of assorted nuts

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A new era

Change, says Gordon Brown. Change this, change that. Cos the last ten years have all been stagnation, or something.

So we’ve changed. We now have incompetent terrorists failing to bomb various locations; a female Home Secretary complete with glottal stops; and, on a personal note, drunken Irish ladies asking me for cuddles (which is something up with which I shall not put).

Brown’s Britain also features Indian restaurants with outside tables, something I don’t remember seeing before (Café Naz, aka the Cambridge Curry Centre). Not that they’ve had much use since the monsoon season began.

The ban begins...But today, 1st July, at 6am, a dramatic change hits: the smoking ban. I’ve been looking forward to this forever – the number of times I’ve emerged from the Fleur with stinking clothes and sore eyes is too many to recount. But as of last Thursday the Fleur is smoke-free: it’s been taken over and refurbished, and there was no point supplying ash trays for the three days post-reopening and pre-ban. I can exclusively tell you that the future is smelling pretty good. (But no more Irish ladies please.)

Many drinking establishments are, as I write, chucking out the last smokers before the ban takes effect. The Isaac Newton pub decided to commemorate the occasion by offering drinkers free cigarettes (see my photo). I’m not sure this is what the government intended, but as of tomorrow I don’t much care.

I can’t say I’m tremendously sorry to see the back of Tony Blair (cf wars on false pretences). But many of the changes in the last ten years have undoubtedly made this country a better place (and would never have happened under a Conservative government); this is one of them.

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