Saturday, 28 March 2009

Prince Philip - Spokesman for the Nation

I've never been Prince Philip's greatest fan. Over the years he's made the art of the severe verbal gaffe his very own. Thoughtless and prejudiced, Philip has sailed through life while commentators pussy-foot about his 'unfortunate blunders' and 'attempts to reach the ordinary people'. I've nothing in particular against mad old men, but neither would I allow them castles to live in.

But they say, if you give enough apes plenty of pencils and paper, and wait long enough, eventually one will produce a literary novel. And so, in a sense, it's proved with Philip.

Following a Royal Variety Show in December 2007, the great and good of the entertainment world were lined up to be introduced to Mr and Mrs Queen. Among them was Simon Cowell, the 'pop empressario'. As Simon stepped forward, head bowed to meet His Royal Highness, it's alleged Philip called him a sponger, breezily indicating he preys on the talent of others to make his millions.

Cowell has recently released this story to the media, claiming he feels insulted. Perhaps his grotesque ego believes it's not receiving enough attention at the moment. But what he's done is threefold. He's made himself look ridiculous. That said, he's got us talking about him. But his great achievement is to improve the public image of Prince Philip beyond the Palace's wildest dreams.

The Prince's spokesperson has of course denied the episode took place, but with exquisite disdain. 'The Duke of Edinburgh categorically did not call Mr Cowell a sponger. He has said he does not know enough about Mr Cowell to make any sort of comment about him.'

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Block 2: Reflections

Last Wednesday marked my final lecture for the second semester - or Block 2 - of my MA. For the past few weeks the course has been extremely active, with lots of fringe activities to choose from as well as the must-do stuff. Well done to all of us for getting through it (I ingratiatingly include the tutors here). And then, out like a lamb; after a final presentation, a quick pint at the SU bar and off home. Next week I start my industry placements, one week with a magazine, and one with a book publisher.

Perhaps because I'd been so busy, it didn't really hit me until a couple of days ago that the end of Block 2 is where the students start to say goodbye to each other, and begin their solo careers. It's all going terribly quickly. Over the summer, I'll be working on my book. My colleagues too will be carrying out their own projects, and group contact time will be very limited. This makes me sad, for I've enjoyed the company of some good friends during the last few months, and I'll miss them.

Block 2 wasn't as rigidly structured as the first semester. You were left a bit more to do your own thing, and make your own choices. I liked that; the University is awash with facilities and I hope I made the most of them. I'd like to have done even more, but sometimes I just ran out of time.

I was delighted with the options I'd chosen for Block 2: non-fiction, and features. Both were demanding, though in different ways, and both were satisfying. I feel we covered a lot of ground. My only doubt is whether I managed to absorb all I'd been taught. Actually that's not really a doubt, but at least I wrote most of it down. Referring back will be invaluable.

I spent the day after the end of term lying on my bed with a jumbo packet of crisps, reading a terrible thriller and feeling completely knackered. This isn't my usual lifestyle choice, so something must have caught up with me. But I did manage to totter to the pub that evening, where I met up with some of my friends from Uni for a pint or two. I had a lovely time. I hope we do it again before too long.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Crack Dealers

Red Nose Day is here. The television awaits. This evening, any interesting or amusing programmes that usually appear on a Friday will be let go.

Instead, we'll be battered into mumbling sixteen numbers down a phone line, pledging some paltry sum and falling back exhausted into our viewing chairs. No, not because of the act of donation, silly. We'll cough up, stupified by the no-marks who'll torment us with their lame acts and demands for money.

Featuring tonight, we'll have the pleasure of Europe's funniest man, Alan 'BMW angry grill teeth' Carr. Once again, Alan will peddle his hilarious gay ticket act. Nationwide, hospitals will be inundated with cases of split sides.

Or Ainsley Harriott, clearly an unwanted nuisance even on his own show, 'Dances With Saucepans'. How I'd like to stick a fork into one of his mad, bulging eyes. An embarrassment of riches, without the riches.

We'll look forward to Jonathan Ross, justly restored to his rightful place as king of everything after some trifling incident blown out of all proportion by a few mad people in attics. Good on yer, Wossie, welcome back to my living room. I love your easy, familiar style - have a knighthood, you deserve it.

We're promised these celebrities will do something funny for money. At last. But according to various reliable press sources, Jonathan Ross has a red nose every day. Perhaps a duet with Charles Kennedy then.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

My New Machine

It's all go at the moment on the MA course. Lots of nice regular work, plus all sorts of optional (at your peril) extra activities. My colleagues are beginning to look tired. I of course am sanguine, except that I wake up thinking of MA and go to sleep thinking of ... well, MA. Hard going you might say, and at the moment you could have a point. But the internet provides moments of hilarity between the tsunami of tasks, and serrendipitously, while surfing during my heroin break (used to be a nice cup of tea) I found this cunning machine.

When I worked at Falmouth Docks, people were said to have attacks of 'the fuckems'. Not that I've quite reached that stage yet. Never mind, nearly time for Easter eggs.