This blog has moved …

Time to do a bit of maintenance.

Yes, you lovely lovely reader, things are changing. Things have moved. Time for you to update your links, or your email or RSS subscriptions.

After much umming and ahhing … in part brought on by the recent shock news about Yahoo pulling bookmarking service Delicious … I’ve finally got around to setting up my own hosted version of this blog. That new blog can now be found at the utterly charming URL of

You will – I’m afraid – need to subscribe to the blog again if you’re someone who rather likes getting emails. Go to the new blog site and enter your email address in the box on the right hand side.

You’ll need to amend your RSS URL too. This is it. Just click on it and do something with it or summink.

In time, I will import over the old stuff to the new location. But from this moment on, this blog instance won’t be updated with any new stuff. Although I will – as a precaution – post some redirects .. you know, just to chivvy you. 😉

Christmas as nightmare

Greenwich Park

We went for a walk today in the Royal park at Greenwich. It was our first attempt at getting a bit of exercise in after the obligatory few days eating and drinking.

We weren’t alone. The park was teeming with families who had clearly had the same brainwave as me. Truth was it was reassuring to see so many other people with their dogs trekking up and down the hill, donning their Christmas hats, scarves and gloves to take in the crisp air. It was a unifying experience. We all craved the same thing. We all wanted to walk, to take in the air.

Something taped to the fence overlooking the naval college at the bottom of the hill made me stop for a moment. It was an arresting sight. I went over for a closer look being careful to dodge the many families with their new digital SLRs desperate to get that brilliant group shot for next year’s Christmas card. When I got closer, what I saw brought a lump to my throat.

Fresh flowers tied to a fence with a piece of police tape. A personal act of remembrance. A signal to all who passed it that someone somewhere close to Greenwich Park wasn’t experiencing Christmas necessarily the same way all of us there were.

Further down the hill (the steps circling the Observatory are closed off to the public at the moment) a bunch of wilted flowers remained on one of the many park benches. A handwritten message was taped onto the bench. Someone else remembered. Someone else remembering.

It didn’t dent our afternoon walk. In fact, it reminded me that Christmas for some – and the relaxing days which follow – is something which has been irrevocably transformed into a nightmare in a matter of a split second. We owed them a moment of reflection. I can’t begin to imagine what such an experience is like.

Just like the parents of Joanna Yeates, who’s daughter has been taken from them and who will be reminded of it every single Christmas Day for the rest of their lives.

Boxing Day: The Best Day

“Do you need any help?” asks our neighbour from the comfort of our sofa, “You know, grunt work like peeling potatoes?”

“No,” I reply, “There’s nothing to do.”

Boxing Day is the best day of Christmas. After the intense anticipation of Christmas Eve and the alcohol-fuelled emotion which threatens to seep into any Christmas Day celebration, Boxing Day promises, delivers and keeps on delivering laid-back easy from a seemingly bottomless pit of warm and fluffy relaxation. Cooking isn’t a chore. Laying out the dining table for friends is every bit the pleasure as watching loved ones unwrap parcels of unexpected joy was the night before.

Is it that I’m just on my second glass of champagne, thinking about the two volumes of Benjamin Britten letters I can now plough through when the house is silent? Or is it the pasta maker offering a new skill to be mastered? Is it the opportunity to simple pleasure of playing Trivial Pursuit with our next door neighbours – our local family. Or is it the chance to set the stage for a sumptuous yet laid-back delayed Christmas celebration?

I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t know what the reason is. But still I’m reminded year on year. Boxing Day reliably creeps up on me. A late-morning shower followed by a squirt of the Christmas after shave. Something indulgent is in the oven and there won’t be a hint of turkey on the table. There’s no pressure. No risk of anything going wrong. Just sheer self-indulgent enjoyment. The way it should have been the day before.

This is the holiday we should all bask in. Boxing Day is a pleasure.

TV: Doctor Who A Christmas Carol BBC One

There’s an agreement silently reached between TV people and audiences alike at Christmas time. Everyone accepts that in striving to tick all sorts of boxes marked “Christmas”, TV producers will inevitably find the box labelled ‘ultimate satisfaction’ remains empty.

Maybe it doesn’t really matter at Christmas time. Maybe it’s fine to have a bit of a romp. To have lots of music. To have loads of scenes with flakes of snow falling to the ground. To have candles flickering in nearly every shot. Cries of “Merry Christmas” are fine in a programme broadcast on Christmas Day. And they are, in a way. Everyone knows what they’re getting into on Christmas Day. That’s the deal.

Katherine Jenkins’ role in this Doctor Who special wasn’t anywhere near as nauseating as I thought it might be. 24 hours after I watched, I’m almost prepared to forgive her for ‘musical interludes’ at various points during the story too.

As it happened, I rather liked the idea of a Doctor Who-esque Scrooge taking ‘securities’ for his loans. I really liked the imaginative fish who swam in the fog. Sardick seemed like a desperately vulnerable character. The young Sardick seemed cute. So too the twenty-something incarnation. When him, the Doctor and Katherine Jenkins were all in the TARDIS I feared for the very fabric of time and space. So many pretty people all in one shot. And the cityscape visualisations weren’t too shabby either.

But I balked at the sight of Amy Pond in ‘that’ outfit. Was it a cynical nod to the ‘Dads’ on Christmas Day? Dads starved of sex. Dads at the beck and call of their stressed wives. Dads desperate for a moment of respectable escapism? Or was it a case of equally desperate TV producers nodding and smiling and going ‘oh, this will be so funny’.

Before you start posing the question ‘who the hell do you think you are?’, I’ll jump in with a hefty dose of reality. I know. I’m being too harsh. Too dismissive. Too bitchy.

The minute by minute reality of this particular Doctor Who episode was that I ‘quite’ enjoyed it. It was an interesting idea, with quite a lot of invention, a lot of relentless dialogue, way too much music and suitably amounts of typically Moffatt imagination. Everything was pretty good except for the extended period of time given over to establishing what was going on during the Christmas past sequence. I’m just not a big fan of pantomime. That’s a personal thing.

I’m just sick of snow and candles and desperate tie-ins with Christmas. Give me a cracking story totally divorced from what’s going on in my particular day. Take me away from Christmas on Christmas Day. Thrill me. Scare me. Threaten me with me jeopardy.

Mind you. At least it wasn’t like that Kylie episode. Now that really was bad.