A Brief History of Dagenham

Hawking as seen as a cartoon character on The ...
Image via Wikipedia

Ang and I recently attended a showing of “Made in Dagenham” at the Arts Cinema and were captivated by a movie that both immersed us in the feel of late-sixties London and managed to portray an important historical event without being stuffy.

However, during the climactic scene we started to hear a low but constant beeping. Ang, being much more generous than I am, only glared accusingly at the smoke alarm but I turned around to shush what I thought was a rampaging horde of huge thumbed happy-slappers. Cue a retreat of almost Gallic proportions when it turned out the source of the beeping was none other than Professor Hawking.

Obviously the erstwhile professor likes working class period drama – we’d already been graced with his presence during a showing of Kinky Boots.

My own contribution to the Wittertainment Code of Conduct for cinema patrons: No random beeping unless you’re a former holder of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics.

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A tear heals faster than a cut

The Big Libel Gig
Image by englishpen via Flickr

Even though the terrible acoustics in the Corn Exchange forced him to slow down his trademark fast delivery but Dára Ó Briain managed to squeeze his entire show into two of the funniest hours I’ve ever spent in the company of a fellow countryman.

The set pieces ranged from our obsessions with keeping up with “stuff” to being stalked by the lonliest man in the world (Will Smith in the abominable I am Legend, coming soon to every format imaginable) and managed to keep the laughs going through the uneven audience participation section.

The tour is selling out quickly but it’s definitely worth traveling to get to a show if only to see there’s certainly more to Ó Briain than being the token Paddy on the BBC.

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“And then they bring out Maria…”

fitness torture
Image by Olivier Bareau via Flickr

Angharad has been going to the gym for a couple of months and in some sort of masochistic way has
started enjoying it. Of course, when one enjoys something the first thought is to share it with your friends and loved ones which is why the little darling gave my name and phone number so I could have a free trial.

I found out about this today when Roberta, the peppy Spanish fitness instructor, called me to bully me into going down.

Me (confused because my phone is ringing on a Saturday afternoon):

R.T.P.S.F.I: Hallo Mr. Ryan, this is Roberta from L.A. Fitness. You have been referred by a friend who thinks you need to go to the gym. How about a free session to see what you need to do.

Me (battered by the joint attack of peppiness and Spanishness):
Uhm. Yes. That sounds like a good idea.

R: Great. Can you come down in five minutes.
Me: Woah there lil horsey. I can come some time next week.

R: I don’t think that’s enough motivation, why don’t you just skip along right now.
Me: No. Really. Next week.

R (Showing her true alien side, for all fitness instructors are
from a dying alien planet come here to steal our
hard-earned flab
: Now really Mr. Ryan, don’t you want to be
fit. It’s in your best interest to come down tomorrow.
Me: But it’s a three-day weekend. I’m being lazy!

R: That’s not good enough. You have to make an appointment now.
Me (starting to sob): Okay okay. Tuesday evening.

R: That’s better. We’ll see you at 6pm on Tuesday. Don’t forget, we know where you live…


Kinky Serenity

Kinky Boots (film)
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A while ago I saw Kinky Boots, a very British comedy set in the north of England about a shoe factory saved from bankruptcy by changing their product line from quality mens’ brogues to womens’ boots that could hold the weight of a man for transvestites. While the film was very simple and had some quite sweet moments, it was made all the more odd because the transvestite in question was played by Chitwetel Ejiofor, who had previously played the Central government assassin in Serenity.

It’s not every day where you see someone as an assassin one week and a very convincing transvestite the next.

As if that weren’t strange enough, Stephen Hawking was in the front row and appeared the enjoy the movie quite a lot.

Only in Cambridge.

Driving Test

Image by kaysha via Flickr

Yesterday I had my first driving test – I know it’s late in life to be doing such things but growing up in Dublin city centre meant that there was never a need – and like a high percentage of people I failed.

I wonder why the DSA go out of their way to make the process as daunting as possible. I failed on what it called a ‘reverse bay park’ which means reversing back between two parallel lines without touching them. Of course I went over a little but corrected it twice and meant I was considered not in control of the car. I think driving examiners are failed headmasters akin to John Cleese in Clockwise

On the plus side my re-test is this day two weeks. Wish me luck.


Shuffling forward

Twenty-eight years on the planet today, though some would say that I’m really from Mars.

Perfect excuse for a curry I’d say.

Badger Baiting

It looks like someone noticed the badger shouting at the last Broken Family Band gig.

Of course my drunken heckling hasn’t reached the standards of Ferg, who questioned the existence of God at The Comedy Cupboard.

[Listening to: Punk Rock Girl – The Dead Milkmen – Death Rides a Pale Cow (2:36)]

Strange moments in Pub Toilets #1

A urinal from California
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You’re standing at the urinal minding your own business while doing your business when you hear someone say, “Mmm wooo.” At the further urinal away a dead ringer for the lead singer from Hot Chocolate has just made strange noises. Ever feel like life is one big rabbit hole?

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Inertia strikes again. Not only had I not been to a gig in ages, I go to two in a week and don’t bother reviewing them. I’m feeling lazy so I’ll only tackle the first one for the moment.

On the 25th of September I went to see The Broken Family Band at the Arts Cinema in Cambridge. It’s the first time a concert’s been played there and I have to admit it was quite strange standing in a fairly well-lit bar-type atmosphere watching a band.

First up was Candidate (which through some strange quirk of acoustics I thought were called Pieces of Eight) which seemed pretty good quite jolly and acoustic. A conversation about Badgers set up what was to happen later on.

The main band themselves were on good form, singing a mixture of new and old stuff and they really seemed to enjoy themselves. Because of the badgers, it became an ad hoc cheer after each song (well for two of us, at least) and when we got a little rowdy it ended up confusing the band. So much to that “I Don’t Have the Time (Too Mess Around)” was changed to refer almost exclusively to badgers.

Elbow review in a day or two, followed by Frank Black and the Catholics.

Ta Ta.

[Listening to: Ana – Pixies – Bossanova (2:09)]

E pur si muove

Mill Road: Cambridge UK
Image by Prisoner 5413 via Flickr

When renting in Cambridge there comes a time when the owner wants to move back into the house and this brings the soul-destroying task of finding somewhere new to live. It’s amazing just what homeowners are trying to get away with in this town. I ended up looking at five houses and only two were habitable.

The worst was a four bedroom in town which held seven people (not including two children). The window faced a wall and with a double bed in the room there was maybe a postage stamp area to walk around in. £200 a month? No thanks.

Another one seemed okay, if a bit grotty, but it happened to be in Arbury which is supposed to be a dangerous area. It’s not the nicest place in the world, but not a patch on the heroin-sodden Liberties where I grew up.

Finally settled on a place off Mill Road. A nice attic double room with enough space for me to sprawl and feel comfortable. Now it’s the task of moving the material possessions I’ve managed to accumulate over the past year up three flights of stairs.