Throbbing digit

I feel certain that habitués of GofaDM will have come to rely on it to help them stay abreast of popular culture.  It is surely the first port of call for those wishing to evince a passing knowledge of the latest scandal to strike the X Factor (Reggie and Bollie were robbed as I understand it) or who has triumphed on Strictly (a member of the previously Unwanted) just-in-case they find themselves trapped in the snug with a young person and need to make conversation.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should make clear that I have never knowing seen – and less importantly heard – more than a few seconds of the X Factor, I rely for all my knowledge on this (and so much else besides) on the live blogging skills of Stuart Heritage.

However, I don’t always outsource my interaction with popular culture and occasionally surf the zeitgeist in person.  So, last Thursday morning I set off on my velocipede to see the latest instalment in the increasingly numerous films of the Star Wars trilogy.  Might this be an option for the Church of England?  We’ve been stuck with just three members of the Holy Trinity for quite some time now, surely adding some CGI-heavy new members could be a way to bring in the young people and boost declining church attendance?   Or perhaps it’s time to re-boot the franchise and go back to the beginning with a dark, new origin story for the faith?  I’ll admit that there might be some doctrinal issues involved with these options, but the church has made bigger U-turns and it’s not like I’m espousing the Monophysite heresy.

I seem to have wandered into theology by mistake, let’s see if we can turn this post around and return to JJ’s latest.  Unusually for me, I went on the opening day (to the general public) of the film: this did not so much reflect excessive keenness as a look at the 5-day weather forecast which suggested it might be my last, best chance of visiting the flicks without getting very wet and windswept (I still got slightly wet).  I eschewed the 00:01 sold-out showing as the older I grow the more highly I rate the benison of sleep: so the chance of communion with my duvet was always going to beat anything Hollywood could produce.  Instead, I went to the 11:45 service (aimed primarily at the senior citizen) which was largely empty: patience and common sense unusually swiftly receiving their just reward.  Despite the relative antiquity of some of the cast, the film did not seem to prove a big draw for the pensioners of Southampton.

Out of deference to those who have not yet seen the movie, I shall avoid any spoilers – but I can say that the film is good fun.  Perhaps slightly too many nods to the original trilogy, but the new cast were very good: I think John Boyega may become a national treasure well before his time.  I have to say that the passage of time has not improved the standards of health and safety used by the bad guys – and the good guys are little better, though less over-manned.  There is also great joy to be found in spotting British actors (and a wide range of Scottish accents) in minor roles, my personal favourite was a brief glimpse of Harriet Walter.  I would also note that Rey had suspiciously good fingernails for a scavenger: they may not have heard of guard-rails in that distant galaxy but they would seem to do some excellent manicure work.   I didn’t spot a nail bar in the film, but perhaps one will appear in a subsequent director’s cut.

So, I think we can all agree that my finger is well and truly on the pulse – which should excuse the next ten posts on obscure Belorussian theatre of the 18th century.

Old and Peculier

Well, the Greeks did used to say that one should “know thyself” – I believe they went so far as to carve it in stone near the Oracle at Delphi. Given the somewhat ambiguous nature of much of her prophecy, I suspect it was rather sensible advice (though famously ignored on at least one occasion).

Some may question the spelling in the title. This was chosen deliberately on the well-established principle that “two wrongs make a right”. It seems to work in politics and finance, so why not on a blog. If it looks like it might not be working, I am willing to go as far as three wrongs – but that’s my final offer!

The last post mentioned Old Peculier, once made by Theakston’s but long since swallowed up by a multinational. This led me to reminisce about similar experiences in the past. I remember a number of night walks across the North York moors fortified by knowledge that a pint of OP and a steak sandwich awaited the happy wanderer at the Lion on Blakey Ridge.

I do have some form with the sweeter beer. Back when I lived in Tyneside, a night at the Theatre Royal often included a bottle of Mackeson’s in the interval to accompany my ice cream. Not something I’d recommend with a more traditional bitter.

I alluded to the relative elusiveness of OP in the UK, but this is as nothing to its lack of availability overseas. The one (almost) exception was Canada and the town of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This used to have a brew pub (and it may still be there) which made a very passable (and potable) substitute which I enjoyed extensively on my one visit there (during a bus strike, which limited my mobility).

Halifax (the Canadian one) is a port of call for cruise ships from the US (so far as I know, the Yorkshire original cannot make this particular boast – but perhaps an enterprising liner captain could give it a go!). As I sat at the bar one afternoon, I small group of American “seniors” who seemed to have stepped straight off the set of the Golden Girls entered. They were after a sweet beer and seemed rather taken with my OP tribute act. However, given the notorious weakness of much US beer (and its similarity to kayak-based reproductive games), I did feel it was my duty to warn them of its strength alcohol-wise. I like to think that, in my small way, I reduced alcohol-driven foreign pensioner crime in Halifax that day.

In unrelated news, I quite like to imagine that in a few years (though the rate George Osborne is going this may be many years) I might be able to personally make good this liquor-based pensioner crime deficit – though I may not wish to hike all the way out to Nova Scotia in order to do so – as part of my plans to grow old disgracefully. But for now, I’m off to my straw-filled palliasse for some much needed Zs!


The folk at Google are changing their Privacy Policies and seemed keen that I read some marketing guff they had prepared to make these changes seem to be both reasonable and for my benefit (despite neither being the likely reality).  Within the Overview they made mention of their Ads Preferences Manager, of which I had been previously unaware, so I decided to check it out.

It would seem that my preferences for advertisements delivered via Google products are derived from my on-line behaviour.  Many of these are at least plausibly linked to reality, and they have correctly deduced that I am a man.  However, rather distressingly, Google has decided that my age is 65+.  65+!  Yes, to Google I am already a pensioner.

I haven’t noticed a lot of ads for walk-in baths or funeral insurance (though, on the plus side, no salesman has called) being delivered to my browser.  However, perhaps I just missed them as I tend to ignore advertisements wherever possible (or maybe I’m becoming forgetful given my advanced on-line age).

I eagerly await my free bus pass!