Friday, February 27, 2009

Will the tide ever come in again?

I cannot be blamed – there was nothing I could do. An unpredictable lightning bolt from the left field in the sky. One minute it’s something you couldn’t construct as a whimsical thought from the most fantastical of notions, the next - there it is, stark and crazy. And before you accuse me of gross exaggeration and over-drama, let me reveal to you what has just happened: I experienced listening to a cover version of Something Inside So Strong sung by Michael Ball!

This event cannot be subjectively commented upon; the very parameters that mediate my entire life are at the moment spinning wheels in Michael Ball’s fucked-up fruit machine.
There’s no categorizing possible in terms of good or bad, right or wrong; all I can do is try my best to avoid the lava – the dark red, bleeding lava.

I would be more likely to fathom the origin and meaning of existence than even speculate on what drew Michael Ball to attempt to perform this song. The actual execution breaks so many rules of science that it in studying it, the scientific community may come to understand the constitution of Dark Matter.

God has always shirked responsibilities for such cataclysms by claiming that he endowed his creations with free-will - but this time I’m not sure that excuse cuts it. The almighty must, by his own conviction that he is perfect, therefore have been aware of the possibility that a ‘Michael Ball’ was a conceivable result of some specific intercourse event on his big blue globe. When Labi Siffre released this song in 1987, God must have been all too aware that there was now a window of several years where both a ‘Michael Ball’ and the song Something Inside so Strong existed simultaneously. He did nothing…..

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire Official Scone Review

It’s not particularly insightful to point out that different people think different things are appropriate at different times. In fact, not only is this devoid of insightfulness - meaning is conspicuously absent as well. It all comes from my school days - I think as far back as primary - where it was prohibited to merely provide an answer - you had to include the question within that answer too. Starting an answer with word ‘Because’ was comparable to handing-in a dead pigeon you’d found outside the Co-op rather than your exercise book. But, my first sentence doesn’t really include a question either. I even criticised that sentence from within it self which indicates I was fully aware of it being sub-standard. I was consciously throwing perfectly good words into a pedal bin, which could have been used by those less fortunate to build fishing boats.. While that sentence could have just been read and forgotten, it now has a shed-load of other, possibly even more pointless companions, lazily leaning against lampposts in this cul-de-sac. I mean look at this sentence we’re in now; it will provide a contribution to the sum of human knowledge roughly similar to watching an elderly cast member from Emmerdale Farm say ‘fuck’ on TV’s Naughtiest Blunders.

Because in the cinema, in the adverts at the start(and I mean the ones before the trailers), some people chat through them quite comfortably. Some people are already self-censoring the volume, others are consciously increasing the volume of their voice as if the emphasise the point that a Twix advert is to be drowned out at all costs by discussions related to the impending demise of Jade Goody. But I guess three-quarters are bizarrely transfixed by these advertisements being generously spooned onto the big screen; and a strange phenomenon occurs: Adverts that appeared mildly diverting on television are now laugh-out-loud funny. The one with the slob eating pizza dipped in spicy Tabasco Sauce, who is bitten by a mosquito, which then flies off and explodes in a mid-air fireball, got the sort of laughter normally reserved for the sight of a man falling over in a muddy field. It’s hard to work out whether it’s the bigger screen or the louder sound that increases the amusement. I am however left in no doubt that Nicholas Lyndhurst’s next BBC1 vehicle should become the world’s first IMAX-only situation comedy.

The actual film started off well and carried on in a similar vain, but then the fire alarm went off. I mean literally went off (if ‘went off’ means ‘rang’ and not ‘flew to Africa to discover itself’) – I’m not using some critic metaphor here; we all had to clear out of the cinema and wait outside. There was a kind of excitement about being evacuated mid-film; it was an unexpected plot-twist; the fourth wall had had a hole cut into it and we’d climbed through into the cold Bristol city centre. Our roles in this story may have been entirely limited to swinging our arms and chatting in short sentences, but it’s never wise to run before you can walk.

Ten minutes later and the all clear was given. There had been no actual physical fire, but there’d been no actual physical street kid from the slums of Mumbai winning Who Wants to be a Millionaire either.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


One of the most important applications of ‘communication’, is for people with opposing viewpoints to have discussions, negotiate and ultimately come to some kind of resolution. The Iron Curtain falling, the reduction in nuclear weapons, Britney Spears appearing on X-Factor - all came about by phone calls, face to face talks and a collection of other mediums.

But two groups of people that have always struggled to communicate in an effective way are Christians and Atheists. I have seen debates in front of audiences; though these usually descend into one side using the example of the complexity of the eye as an argument and the other using the example of the complexity of the eye as an argument. At least though this is face to face conversation, and I’m sure there were phone calls made to set up these head to heads. It is clear though that in general, these meetings and discussions have not really resolved anything and the two sides are still deeply entrenched in their viewpoints

Recently it appears that relations between these two groups seem to have now hit an all time low, with not a single word exchanged until just recently. To be fair, it was the atheists who broke the ice.

“There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life,” they said.

“There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life," the Christians have since replied.

It’s nice to see these two chatting again, don’t get me wrong, and the overall tone of the conversation does appear to be friendly. I’m just a little concerned that maybe, the medium of the bus isn’t the most efficient available to them. I can only assume that face to face discussions, letters, phone-calls, emails, carrier pigeons, smoke signals and mime, all must have been dismissed as not impersonal enough by an obviously hurt group of atheists. But the sheer impracticality of using a bus for chat is hard to underestimate. You have to make sure that your message goes on enough buses so that your target is likely to see it. I would have thought it would have at least been worth each group researching where at least one member of the other waited for a bus every morning, so they could target one bus and thus cut costs.

Then again, maybe I’m just behind the times. I was quite late in getting a mobile phone. I’m sure that like mobile phones, chatting to each other using the side of buses will come down in price and become common place. The technology will improve with bus companies able to predict where the recipient of your message is likely to be. I'm sure BT are rolling out their own network of single-deckers as we speak.

As far as the atheist/Christian argument is concerned, it was quite rightly pointed out on Radio Five Live that the argument could be irrefutably settled, if rather than putting messages on buses, one of them just stood in front of one.