And the prize for participation goes to…

Pole position. via djryanie
Pole position. via djryanie

I re-discovered something this weekend. I fucking hate go-karting.

We went on a team-building exercise at a go-karting track in Greenwich, which sounded like a good idea: we’d knock off work a couple of hours early, drive around a little bit, then start the weekend on a high. I’d done it before and it wasn’t too bad, even though the first time was outdoors in a rain storm.

But..

There’s a particularly mean trick memory can play – mostly on women to convince them to give birth more than once – after a suitable period of recovery you forget just how much an event hurt.

After getting dressed up in a set of overalls that compressed my testicles into a pancake-like mess, we got shown a badly produced video featuring a cast of Inbetweeners lookalikes giving thumbs up signs. Not feeling confident that either my health or safety was of paramount importance the race was on.

Sweet suffering Jesus was the race on. I think it took twenty seconds before I went from my starting position to last and I was whacked by all twelve other drivers on the way. Do you know how annoying a polite hand wave is after you’ve been smashed up the bottom? VERY! After the fifth crash I was plotting to bring in Sharia law and cut that bloody hand off.

Once everyone got out of the way, though, I started to get the hang of it and even managed a couple of laps without crashing. Then it happened. Lapped! I got side-swiped, broad sided, bumped, smashed, and crunched again! And every two or three laps for the rest of the humiliation… I mean race.

By twenty minutes in, Einstein’s famous description of relativity came to mind: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour.” I’d another ten minutes of stove to deal with and my arms had turned into the bingoest of wings, I’d bruises on the inside of either knee from bashing the steering column, and pride was but a distant and folorn memory.

Once the checkered flag came out and the ‘race’ ended I’d have kissed the marshall (with tongue), if only I wasn’t too busy rocking myself in that bucket seat reliving ALL OF THE POST TRAUMATIC STRESS. I had flashbacks to every Vietnam war movie made.

Coming last was inevitable. Being lapped five times by the next slowest driver? That was an achievement.

 

{lang: 'en-GB'}

The no-longer tolling bell

Whenever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Whenever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there… I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build why, I’ll be there.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (Chapter 28)

Ma Joad and Tom Joad discuss Tom's future.
Ma Joad and Tom Joad discuss Tom’s future. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest British Social Attitudes survey suggests the UK is becoming less charitable; looks like compassionate conservatism is here to stay.

{lang: 'en-GB'}

Feeling the Olympic Spirit

English: Congestion on the London Underground
English: Congestion on the London Underground (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s arrived. That doom-laden, apocalyptic, end-of-days event has hit London together with a million extra tourists, spectators, athletes, and entourages. We feared the Olympic lanes, we were told to consider staying at home for two weeks, maybe go on a holiday, take up walking or just plain get over it. But it’s great for the London and of course will be a moment to tell your grand-kids about when they take you out to dinner (as long as you don’t ask for chips).

Well the trains didn’t break down, the traffic kept moving, and the city looks more like the start of 28 Days Later than Soylent Green, so I’m glad to have shared my train with the one commuter in the whole of the south-east who wasn’t feeling a part of Team GB.

On a fairly empty Victoria Line train I managed to get a seat, while this paragon of British stoicism stood in the middle of the carriage. I usually get up before the train hits Oxford Circus to give me time to pull myself together because no-one needs to see me waddle around like the bastard offspring of Winnie the Pooh and Carroll’s White Rabbit, so I did, and it was slow, and there was room.  Cue a full-on charge from our Olympic champion, culminating in a body-check on this bear of very little brain.

“Carefull!” I tutted, wondering why what can only be a plain-clothes courier carrying a heart and lungs ready for transplant, judging by his desperate speed, is travelling by Tube.

“We all have to get off the train mate and you stood up too slowly.”

“That’s not a pushing offense last time I checked.”

“Well…” [and this sums up everything] “… you had a great old time sitting down, so shut up.”

“…”

What else could I do?  I avoided his vacant vacant gaze until the doors opened and when my new best friend thought it’d be fun to stand in my way, I barged and hit him with a bag that held an 800 page psychology text.

I hope the irony wasn’t lost on him.

{lang: 'en-GB'}

The Story of the Boy Who Lived

The older you get, the harder it is to buy presents for someone; birthdays and Christmas become less of a celebration and more of a tightrope walk between disappointment and frustration.  Philippe Petit has nothing on someone trying to get a gift that’s surprising and thoughtful, yet wanted.

Thank Dawkins Warner Bros. decided to turn Leavesden Studios into a dedicated museum to the Harry Potter movies.  At least this year, Ang’s birthday didn’t involve the words Frack, What and The.

Housed in two gigantic buildings, the Harry Potter Experience contains almost every piece of Harry Potter arcana that any fan might want to see, including a fully dressed Great Hall, Diagon Alley, and the scale model of Hogwarts used during filming.  The latter really has to be seen to be believed: fifty feet wide, the size of a very large room, and with two and a half thousand optic fibres inside, it took eighty-six artists a total of seventy-four man years to create.

Even more breathtaking, once you go outside you can stand in Privet Drive itself while looking at the Knight Bus and the cottage where the story began.  In a moment of marketing genius, Warner Bros. have allowed the taking of photographs, which means that most of the people will have their experience looking through an iPhone screen whilst screaming.

The Harry Potter Experience certainly is worth a visit even if you aren’t as foaming-at-the-mouth of a fan as Ang, though it’s likely to turn you into a confirmed agoraphobic as the sheer numbers of people passing through makes it feel like rush hour on the Central Line.  If you do go, steer clear of the butterbeer.

‘Course, I’m screwed for next year.

 

{lang: 'en-GB'}

Kapow ComicCon, Day 1: A Wil Wheaton of Nerds

For years comic book fans in the UK have looked across the sea at San Diego and New York and wondered why the land of Wells and Clarke had nothing to offer.  While the US had their huge events, premieres and panels, all we could do was wait for grainy videos and vicarious emails.

No longer!  Kapow was the first attempt at a big British comic convention and proved that it’s not the size that matters, but what you do with it.

Queuing started at 8am with many already in full costume, and didn’t stop until the day was over. The first panel we attended was a Fans vs. Pros quiz, hosted by Jonathan Ross which pitted John Romita, Jr., Mark Millar, and the immortal Dave Gibbons against Stewart Lee and a couple of fans out of the audience.  Obviously no real substance, but a lot of fun and a nice way of letting the coffee injections take effect.  The fans won, of course.

Mark Gatiss was our next victim. One of the League of Gentlemen, Professor Lazarus, one of the Mycrofts Holmes and a thoroughly nice chap, he waxed lyrical on all things horror (Halloween ruined American movies), televisual (“[Stephen] Fry. Bastard Fry”), and supernatural  (“Crystals. Fucking Crystals”). He could have done an entire weekend and I’d have been happy. Just as well, since he made us miss the Green Lantern Panel (Gatiss. Bastard Gatiss).

With a bit of time in hand to look around the stalls, picking up some nice stuff from Genki Gear and Insert Coin T-Shirts, it became increasingly difficult to navigate the Supermen, Batmen, Penguins and Steampunks so I dragged Ang away from the yaoi and started queuing again.  How many Supermen does one city need before it starts to feel like a Monty Python sketch!  Next year I’m going as Bicycle Repair man.

We got really lucky with the last panel of the day; the one every geek, nerd, and fan wanted to see, the Thunder God himself, Thor. After a lot of herding and surrendering of technology (the comic book fan equivalent of Gitmo) five hundred of us got to see twenty-five minutes of footage from Branagh’s movie (with script co-written by the Great Maker) and if the whole movie is as good as those few minutes then it’s going to be a real Easter treat.

Hemsworth is perfect as the hammer thrower, Sir Anthony Hopkins eats the scenery as the Allfather,  Tom Hiddleston gave a good turn as Loki and we even got a brief, tantalising glimpse of Stringer Heimdall. Talk about your 60 degree day.

It’s a shame the movie is in 3D, but at least JMS’s script (and a fantastic cameo that must have left him wet) is full of the humour and excitement fans of Babylon 5 know to expect.

Coming soon: Kapow 2: They Queue in Blood.

{lang: 'en-GB'}

Rare Exports in Carnaby Street

Feral Santa in Carnaby StreetTwo Laplanders  have arrived in the UK trying to sell a Feral Santa they’ve captured, storing the dangerous creature in a cage that is barely strong enough to keep it under control.

Oxford Street will be a bloodbath if it gets out.

The Health and Safety Executive declined to comment on the issue, stating that it was a problem for the Swedish Embassy.  The public is strongly advised to avoid the Oxford Circus area until the matter has been cleared up.

Enhanced by Zemanta
{lang: 'en-GB'}

Due to engineering works Platform 9 3/4 is closed

image

Today’s commute was slightly more exciting this morning due to filming of the final scenes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II.  Network Rail staff were less amused as commuters blocked up platform 3 trying to get photos for their children.  ‘Course I only took this for Ang’s sake.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
{lang: 'en-GB'}