Monthly Archives: June 2007

The Haunting

I was lying in bed last night and I heard someone snoring.

Not, you might think, anything unusual. Except that I live alone. And my neighbours don’t sleep anywhere within earshot.

Alright, so I do watch a lot of Supernatural, and I had just listened to the podcast for the Doctor Who episode “Blink” before going to bed (which, as you may recall, gave me nightmares when I saw it a few weeks ago). But I absolutely didn’t imagine it: it was real, genuine snoring, emanating from the bottom of my bed, and there was nothing in the room that could’ve made that noise AT ALL.

I think it’s fair to say I was a bit freaked out.

But seriously – what kind of ghost SNORES?

(And I just know some smartass is gonna say “One with a sinus problem” now.)

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Free Alan Johnston

I’ve just seen Alan Johnston’s latest video on the news. The poor guy had explosives strapped around his waist and was reading out a speech written for him by his captors. Creepily, he delivered the words as though presenting a news report for the BBC: calm and unhurried, with only the tiniest edge of fear in his voice.

Possibly the most moving thing I’ve seen in a while. Hurry up and come home, Alan.

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The London Philharmonic vs Saturday Night Fever

I’m supposed to be making good use of my free ticket to the Hyde Park Calling festival this afternoon and watching Crowded House live. Sadly, I’m not there. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: having a bad back sucks. It sucks at the best of times, but having my most painful day in nearly two years on the very same day I’m supposed to be watching my favourite band sucks so hard it, uh, blows. (Which is an expression I’ve never really understood, but it does seem to sum up the feeling.)

Instead I’m watching re-runs of Dark Angel on Sci Fi and marvelling at how young Jensen Ackles looks, how funny Joshua is and how JC MacKenzie’s Normal is the best thing about the whole series (“Bip bip bip!”). I’m also paying tribute to Crowded House by drinking a can of the Kiwi drink L&P after it was recommended to me by my friend Jeff the other night – which reminds me, funny story:

Jeff, who I hadn’t seen in nearly three years, is the kind of guy you can always rely on to spin a good yarn. He’s also an old friend of Peter Jackson’s, which means he’s full of amusing, Rings– or Kong-related stories. Annoyingly, I can’t repeat many of them here, but he did tell me one that made me chuckle…

Apparently Jeff met up with Peter when the London Philharmonic Orchestra were recording the soundtrack for The Return Of The King at Watford Town Hall. (Yes, Watford Town Hall. That’s the glamorous location used to lay down the music that went on to win an Oscar. Go figure.) Anyway, they were just getting into the swing of things that evening when suddenly everybody started packing up. Puzzled – because it wasn’t really that late, and the musicians had been on a roll – Jeff asked someone why they were leaving.

“It’s because we’ve got to be out of here by 10pm,” said the guy.

“Really?” replied Jeff, surprised. “Why’s that, then?”

“Because there’s a disco on at 11pm.”

So that’s the London Philharmonic, recording an Oscar-winning score on what was to become THE SECOND-BIGGEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME, kicked out of their studio by a town hall disco.

There’s something so ridiculously British about that…

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No words required

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007 · 9:52 pm

All Sorts Of Bobbins (And An Explanation For A Moving Column)

So I finally got my MRI scan results today and discovered that, as suspected, one of the discs in my back is bulging and pressing on the main nerve running down my left leg, hence the excruciating pain every time I stand up. I’m seeing a consultant at the start of July (after my physiotherapist managed to get my appointment brought forward by six weeks – I jumped an NHS waiting list! Result!) and I should know then whether I need surgery or not. But it’s looking about 99% certain, because there’s no way this will fix itself, and it sounds like it’s fairly major surgery, too.

So, that wasn’t really good news. Except at least they can fix it, so I’m pleased about that.

Then, in one of those weird cases of brilliant timing, just after the hospital called me (and I was feeling a little down, understandably), I had another phone call from an old friend who just so happened to have a spare ticket to see Crowded House at the Hyde Park Calling Festival this weekend. So now I’m seeing my favourite band play their first big UK gig in over a decade completely free, which I guess is the universe’s way of saying sorry about my back.

(Of course, being that the universe can be kinda twisted and cruel even when it’s throwing me a bone, my bad back will probably make the concert rather painful, seeing as there won’t be any seats helpfully sprinkled on the grass in Hyde Park. I’ll risk it, though. It’s Crowded House, fortheloveofmike! Wheeee!)

Onto other things…

Some people have been wondering why my column in SFX magazine has shifted into Spoiler Zone. I have to say that I don’t mind the move – although I do miss Andy Watt’s illustrations – and it does give me carte blanche to reveal spoilers in the sealed section that might annoy people who stumble across them on an ordinary page. (I’d also like to point out that my first column – the Laundry List one – was written before I knew about the change, hence it not being spoilery or referencing the move in any way.) My columns will also be exactly the same length, so nothing’s been lost there.

I asked Dave Bradley (SFX‘s Editor And All-Round Nice Guy Who Drinks Far Too Much Coffee) to summarise why he made the move, and here’s what he told me…

1) You can be spoilery.
2) You love TV, we love it when you write about TV, your commentary on TV episodes is always perceptive and entertaining: it makes sense to have you closer to the TV coverage in the magazine.
3) Readers requested more insight, personality and analysis in Spoiler Zone – you’re part of our grand plan for providing that.
4) We’re redesigning bits of the magazine – nothing major, some spit and polish – and we want to move things around to see how they work, to try and break out of some habits, make the best use of space, direct people to contribute in new ways. Moving Nelson’s Column further forward in the magazine, and contextualising it a little, is part of that. We’re considering moving Langford’s Column closer to the books section too. We welcome feedback from readers about it, and if it proves to be unpopular, we’ll move it somewhere else – simple as.

So there you go. I have to say, I’m amused to find myself part of a “grand plan”. I keep wondering if I should find a way to secretly get the words “Bad Wolf” into every column from now onwards.*

And finally: thank you to everybody who shared a cat anecdote with me this week after I posted a piece about the lovely Spud. I feel I should point out that I’m currently covering for a magazine Production Editor who should be on his honeymoon right now… except that his cat bit through his new wife’s hand the night before they were due to leave and she ended up needing surgery on her knuckle. No honeymoon. Lots of pain. One disgraced pet.

Which proves that cats, much as we love ’em, can be right little bastards.

*Geeky Doctor Who reference, for the few non-SF readers out there.

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Talkin’ To The Animals

See the fluffy kitty sitting on the wall in this picture? Her name is Spud. She belongs to my neighbour and she’s lovely. (She’s also the spitting image of a cat I had named Fred while growing up, which means every time I see her I feel a bit sad.) Anyway, I just leaned out of my living room window and spent ten minutes having a conversation with Spud. It went something like this:

Me: “Hey, Spud!”

Spud:
“Meoow!”

Me: “Watcha doin’?”

Spud: “Meeeow.”

Me: “Why are you sitting in the rain, puss?”

Spud: “Meeewow.”

Me:
“Are you bored?”

Spud: “Meeeow!”

You get the gist. Every time I spoke, Spud replied. It was hilarious. She even jumped up on the wall so she was nearer to my window. I bloody LOVE cats, I do.

Now it’s thundering and Spud is nowhere to be seen. I wonder if she’s talking to the thunderclaps?

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Exorcism Through iTunes

I’ve spent the last two days working on Metal Hammer magazine and loving it. The team were great and the stuff they write is so out of the realm of my experience that every word’s a surprise. I mean, who knew there was a band out there called Rotting Christ?

Whole new world, I’m tellin’ ya.

Of course, two days spent listening to thrash metal does leave you yearning for something a little less, well, otherworldly. So tonight, determined to redress the balance, I spent two hours browsing iTunes and downloading a ridiculous amount of music from my childhood to remove the thrashy ringing from my ears.

I really do have the worst taste in music. For every act I’m proud to like (Goldfrapp, The Doors, Crowded House) there are ten I can’t believe live on my iPod. The latest unfashionable rascals to join the rabble included Jean-Michel Jarre, Adam & The Ants, Kenny Rogers and Starship (“We Built This City” is an underrated classic).

And who knew that David Essex sang “Together In Electric Dreams”?

…Like I said, the worst taste.

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