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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Why I think Toy Story 3 deserves more Oscars than The King’s Speech

Alright, I’ll admit I’ve only actually seen three of the films on the Oscar nomination list. And I didn’t much like Alice in Wonderland.

But Toy Story 3 was far, far better than TKS.



  • Toy Story made me laugh and cry. TKS didn’t.


  • Toy Story moved along at a cracking pace, was witty and energetic.
    TKS could have ended half an hour earlier than it did.


  • Woody and his friends are far more rounded characters than any in TKS.


  • TS3 was original (a cowboy, robot and pig have to make terrible choices, escape a kids’ day centre and survive a rubbish incinerator). TKS’s theme of two very different people connecting and building a relationship wasn’t.


  • TS3 deals with universal, grand themes like loss, separation, growing up, friendship and sacrifice.
    In a perfect Hollywood world, it’s brilliant that our hero is allowed to have a stammer.
    But TKS sent the message that if only you make an effort, you can overcome your ‘weakness.’ I’m not a speech therapist so I hesitate to make judgements on something so important. But I think speech defects and language disorders are probably a combination of physical, cognitive and psychological factors; not something that can be fixed by overcoming your prejudices and fears and going along with an eccentric, fake doctor.


  • The actors in TS3 were invisible in a good way. The actors in TKS all delivered brilliant performances – but in an almost self-conscious way.


  • TS3 entertained kids and adults. TKS’s main appeal (in the cinema I was in, at least) seemed to be as an outlet for people who don’t usually swear to safely laugh at an onslaught of four letter words from Colin Firth.


So. I think TS3 had a heart, and that TKS was admirable in its technical details (costumes, period detail) and wasn’t a bad film, but it didn’t move me. The Oscar nominations and ticket sales have proved me wrong, I think, but I wonder if I’m alone?


Happy When It Rains

I love it when it’s raining. There’s something
so romantic about the first drops when you’re walking along; something intense and important about driving through puddles with the windscreen wipers on full on a dark winter morning; something life-affirming and routine-kicking about dashing between shop doorways on a working day lunch hour.

Jo Brand, I think, said  she liked walking in the rain because it deterred the psychos and murderers.  And Travis from Taxi Driver famously yearned for a downpour to wash the scum off the streets – indeed, Sunday morning trudging down London’s Hanway Street to work was definitely made bearable by an overnight rainstorm.  Although I’m careful of aligning myself too much with Bobby D – I think Jo Brand’s motives are probably less murderous.

How to survive the move from London to the countryside if you’re under 30


How to survive the move from London to the countryside if you’re under 30

  • Buy in lots of milk. There is no Tesco metro and it’s a seven-mile drive when you run out.
  • Accept there will be no takeaways. No one delivers.
  • Invite people to stay on a regular basis. The average age of the village is 70. This means you get the benefits of years of experience, but no one will share your enthusiasm for True Blood.
  • Get involved – but pick your cause. A bigger organisation like the CAB may be easier to infiltrate than the village wildlife preservation committee. The latter will have a long-established hierarchy and you will be considered a newcomer for at least 20 years.
  • Slow down. The local Co op runs at a different pace to Sainsbury in Kings Cross.
  • Don’t expect a wide gluten-free or vegetarian range in the supermarket.
  • Don’t even go there at all if you’re squeamish about road kill or shooting birds as a hobby.
  • You will not see a black, young or beatnik face for miles, and your clothes shopping choices are Peacocks or beige-ribbed jumpers from an expensive boutique. To avoid turning into a middle-aged Tory (or if you’re happy to go there, to at least avoid turning into one prematurely), dye your hair bright red and, whatever you do, don’t subscribe to the Daily Mail.


But, do remember that what you lose in busy, over-priced and business and image fixated London, you’ll make up for with better food, better libraries and something good for the soul when you walk to the local pub along black tree-lined lanes and no street lights, looking at the moon; and when you stomp through the mud in the cold on a grey Winter afternoon and come home to a beautiful roaring fire.

Relish the bird song and fresh, tangy pig poo over the sound of self-important morons yelling into their mobile phones and the smell of human pee outside pubs.

I like Morrissey. And I like Erasure. But…

In between the calls for Andrea Hill’s head – or rather some acknowledgment that the level of her pay at Suffolk County Council sits uncomfortably with threats of cuts to care homes and libraries – and congestion on the A12, the East Anglian Daily Times had a report about Erasure playing at Thetford Forest.

They’re said to be very ‘excited to be playing in the woods’ (ooer missus, etc). I’m incredibly, disproportionately excited to be going to see them.

Not that I was their hugest fan in the 80s or anything. It was all Morrissey, Morrissey, Morrissey.

It was quite odd to be in Manchester 20 years later watching all of The Smiths except Moz play There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and, unexpectedly, not missing him one tiny bit. It was brilliant and the best ever gig I’ve been to. At 16, the idea of The Smiths without Morrissey? Unthinkable.

But I also liked Erasure a lot and their songs are still three minutes of perfect, shiny, unfailingly heart-lifting synth heaven. Hurrah!

karmic cows


Karma is a powerful thing.

I was walking along a muddy river path with friends and wallowing in self-pity (the offer we put on the house was rejected). Really wallowing, to the point where I was getting bored with myself. And I told myself that, if I didn’t stop being so self-obsessed, Fate would make sure I tripped in all this mud.

Anyway, I end up chatting to my lovely brother-in-law and cheering up considerably. We leave the muddy path to cross a concrete farm yard.

At which point, 20 walkers pass us in the opposite direction and I slip and fall on some cow shit.

And the cows – I swear – are laughing. We all commented on how odd it was that they were suddenly bellowing at such high-pitched volume.

Cows seem such beautiful and gentle, pacifist creatures.  Yet there they were, delegating Fate’s life lessons.



I’ve been kick starting my writing each morning by logging on to Verbotomy.

It’s a brilliant site. Each day a definition is posted and the challenge is to create a word. And you get to vote on your favourites.

A couple of my favourites:
v. To purchase a bauble, article of clothing, or major appliance, in order to alleviate anxiety or other psychological stress.

v. To reject a compliment. May indicate low self-esteem, or false modesty, or even a psychopathic aversion to flattery.
You get the idea. Have a go.

Cameron, co-operatives and conductors

Amazing, beautiful icy effects in the puddles along the path by our house, this morning.

David Cameron is working with charities and co-operatives on “the most pro-big-hearted, pro-generosity, pro-joy agenda ever unleashed by a government.”

Oh, no, got that wrong. He’s working with the biggest UK firms for a pro-business, growth and jobs agenda and he wants to make it easier for employers to sack us.

That’s alright, then.

I’ve just read that Peter Maxwell Davies thinks too many conductors are just churning it out. The idea of louche, lazy conductors (surely the sexiest profession going) doing it for money is pretty hot.