The thoughts and musings of a reluctant 40 year old

My adventures on public transport.

This morning I am at Plymouth Railway Station, as shown in the picture above. If I had told you that I was in the Soviet era eastern bloc and referenced the above picture, you’d have believed me, wouldn’t you?

(interesting note - my autocorrect keeps wanting to change ‘wouldn’t’ to ‘epilepsy’, I don’t think it’s very well ☹️)

 

When scouting for locations for the station the planners were tasked with finding the most bleak and isolated places. To create a terminus which would give feelings of desolation and abandonment. And they certainly achieved just that. The platforms have all the warmth, character and style of a series of nuclear fall out shelters, all clustered beneath the looming shadow of ‘InterCity House’ or ‘Inter-shitty House’ as Plymouth residents know it. 

Built under the guise of Brutalist architecture, InterCity House takes the appearance of a neatly stacked collection of porta-cabins crowned by a selection of rotting porta-loos. Maybe the ‘Porta’ company operates from here, but I’m not sticking around to find out, as it has the foreboding presence of an abandoned crack den that is beneath even the most desperate of junkies.

 

Anyway, why are you at the train station? Ask both of my readers.

I am on my way to Weston-Super-Mare to pick up my new work van in preparation for starting my new job on Monday.

Why Weston-Super-Mare? I hear nobody ask.

Because that’s where the van is, also it’s really hard to find a more depressing location to arrive in than Plymouth’s train station but Weston (I’m not typing the full name out any more) is equally grim.

I used to live in Bristol, and my best friend and I would occasionally visit Weston, and it was always a disappointment. I’ve never been to Weston when it’s not been raining - there might be a blistering heatwave sweeping the UK, but it’ll be raining in Weston.

Interesting fact : WSM has 2.3 charity shops for every one person.

 

So I’m sat here in the terminal building - totally agree with that diagnosis. It’s 8.20am and the place reeks of pasties.

At 8.20. In the morning. Pasties.

I’m not the type of person to avoid fresh pastry, but I’ll make an exception today.

Who gets off of a train, before lunchtime, and thinks “I know what’ll go well with my soya-vente-mocha-macchiato-choca-chino - a cooked to sweet f@c£ pasty”?

I would stay and find out if I didn’t need to be on the 8.51 train.

 

My goals today are -

To escape Weston alive 

 

To not be kidnapped and sold into the charity shop trade

 

To find out about Westons ‘super horse’ - where it is, who rides it and why.

 

 

The cinema - the ideal place to eat a five course meal. In the dark.

Happy New Year and congrats on surviving another Christmas.

 

Yesterday we, meaning my family, went to the cinema to see Mary Poppins 2: The Nanny’s Revenge.....I might have embellished that a little.

Anyway, great film, go and see it. I think it will become a new Disney classic.

 

Before I get on to the obligatory bit of mocking humankind, I thought that that I would write a little bit about my hometown of Plymouth and its relationship with the cinema. As in the physical buildings and not how it’s perceived on screen. Ok, if they did a film about ‘some’ of the natives, you would assume there was an historic leak of nuclear waste from the dockyard.....but I digress.

 

Pre-war Plymouth was quite a beautiful town, it had many many exquisite and unique buildings. Unfortunately, in the name of progress and post-war rebuilding there is very little of the original fabric of Plymouth within the city centre. The phrase often used is “What the Luftwaffe started, the planners finished”, I might go into a bit more depth about that one day.

However, pre-war Plymouth was quite beautiful and had a lot of cinemas owned by international film companies such as Rank and Warner, and the bigger the company, the bigger the building.

The picture of the cinema attached to these words is the one that I used to go to when I was growing up. It was a colossus in appearance but only had 2 screens, originally 1 on opening that was later carved up. Positioned at the top of the notorious Union Street, and named the “Drake Odeon” to differentiate from the other 2 Odeons in the area! Yes, going to the pictures was a BIG business in those days. From the thick mahogany handrails, old patterned carpets, red velour seats which you had to push down along with the gold numbers on the seats to the big Art Deco chandeliers in each screen and foyer, this was a machine.

Unfortunately it’s time was up in the early 2000’s and the site was cleared for redevelopment by Grosvenor Casinos. What replaced it was one of the most sympathetic developments that Plymouth has seen. The original footprint was replaced, to the point that it is hard to tell if the building is a refurb or replacement, and the big ship statue was cleaned up and re-sited above the main entrance, keeping this local landmark - so rare for this town.

 

Further down Union Street was another leviathan of its age “The Gaumont Palace” opened in the inter-war years, and was filled with opulent detailing. It contained, aside from the cinema, a restaurant, a bar and ballroom, and was the place to be seen. The Gaumont was swallowed up by the massive Rank Organisation, and despite surviving the Plymouth Blitz - closed its doors in the early 1960’s, becoming a bingo hall, a disco and finally a nightclub, before closing again in the early 2000’s, and currently sits empty whilst its owners “God TV” (honestly.....) are evidently waiting for the 2nd coming of Christ before getting to work.

 

Close by the Drake Odeon is another cinema, these are about 500 metres apart, if that, now known as “Reel” Cinema, this one is still open and showing films - although that future is in doubt!

Reel Cinema sits on the site of Plymouth’s original Theatre Royal. The theatre was built in the 1830’s and designed by an architect called John Foulston, some of his work can be seen in the suburbs, and was a stunning stone building with a colonnade and pediment. In true form - the council had it pulled down in the early 1930’s and sold the stone and land, rather than repurposing a perfectly good building. A lovely concrete edifice has housed a cinema here since. Initially owned by ABC, this venue has changed hands dozens of times, but has always remained a cinema, which must mean it gets significant repeat custom. Although, with the new development at Bretonside and the strong food and parking offered from the Vue complex, its future is rather unsure.

Fun fact - Reel is said to be haunted, and has appeared on several ghost hunting programmes too!

 

There were many others - The Embassy on Mutley Plain became a Pool/Snooker hall, The Belgrave Electric Theatre (I like this name) which screened Rambo ‘First Blood’ as its final film and the Cinedrome on Ebrington Street, which boasted a cloakroom and parcel-service - which is always handy when you want to see a film and post your coat to someone.

 

So there we have - Educate - Entertain - Enlighten....and now - Eviscerate....

 

We didn’t go to an architectural gem to see Mary Poppins: Beyond The Thunderdrome, we went to the perfectly nice Vue complex which has free parking, the free parking is what kills cinemas in cities.

It was clean, it was easy to get in and out of - it was great.

But as usual there were other people there with us, and it’s these people who mystify me.

It’s New Years Day.

It’s 10.30 am - as in, the morning.

And people are walking, no, struggling into the screen, laden down with vats of Coca-Cola, sacks of Haribo and pallet loads of nachos. I’m surprised any of them saw the film over their expanse of food and beverage purchases.

And then, just as the lights go down you hear the popping of a mile long can of Pringles and this weird banquet of low-grade high-priced food begins.

The cost of food at the cinema is ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as those that buy it.

Fancy a bag of Wispa mini-bites? It’s cheaper to get a cab to take you to Kent to buy it, than it is to purchase in the foyer.

Maybe it costs more because it tastes better? Maybe, but if I had spent the equivalent of China’s GDP on a snack I wouldn’t then want the privilege of eating it in a dark room surrounded by strangers.

 

Have a fun holiday Mum & Dad x

 

 

Join me as we review those wonderfully overplayed Christmas songs....

Every year, without fail, we are subjected to the same Christmas songs, by songs I mean the ones on the radio and piped in shops and not the ones sung in churches - carols. Although I’ve never met anyone called Carol who is worthy of having a whole musical vernacular named after them.

 

You cannot escape the wonderful tunes by ‘Slade’ and Cliff Richard, and everybody must listen to at least three Christmas songs per day, between the third week of November and Christmas Day - as it is the law.

Anyone caught trying to avoid listening to their quota will have to listen to Noddy Holder’s announcement of “IT’S CHRIIIIISTMAAAAS” via cochlear implants for the following 10 years - it’s true.

 

Also, in the name of research I am having to actually listen to some of these songs, on actual YouTube, to actually discover their proper names.

 

There will also be a score awarded from 0-10 on my ability to tolerate even the opening bars of each entry.

 

Merry Xmas (War is over) - John Lennon & Yoko Ono - 1971

This one really grates on me, well, they all do but this one I really cannot stand.

Sung by the Beatle that got shot and that woman who found fame in later life, by hauling herself out of the well on ‘The Ring’ trilogy. 

 

Notable lyrics: This one contains the most pointless lyric “war is over if you want it”.

Anyone for more war? Any takers?

And also a backing singer who takes bad karaoke to a new level. I’d like to go back in time and make sure her car had a flat tyre on the way to the studio.

Score 1/10

 

Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney -1979

What is it with former members of The Beatles and Christmas songs? The music video is filmed inside a pub, so all expenses spared, but if I were having to listen to this song repeatedly whilst it was filmed then I’d drink.

 

Notable lyrics: “A choir of children sing their song, they’ve practiced all year long, ding dong, ding dong, ding - wooo-oooo”

Really? They practiced all year long for that? And the woooo-oooo? Do they think it’s still Hallowe’en? 

I’m also taking off a point because of Paul McCartney, nothing specific, just him.

Score 0/10

 

Step Into Christmas - Elton John - 1973

Okay, not my favourite artist. But also not my least.

This song was released in NOVEMBER 1973. November. That month when Christmas is not celebrated. Why not release it in July?

 

Notable lyrics: “Step into Christmas the admission’s free” 

Average cost of Christmas per family is approximately £800.

Also, has anyone ever been charged for attending Christmas? Or paid a surplus for being alive in the last fortnight of December?

Anyone? No.

I am giving Elton 2 extra points. 1 because my Mum loves him and an extra 1 as he’s not Paul McCartney.

Score 3/10

 

Mistletoe and Wine - Cliff Richard - 1988

Finally, a Christmas song that was released in my lifetime.

And this is still not a good thing.

My recollection of this song was the inability to escape its evil clutches.

It. Was. Everywhere. Had it been released earlier in the year they would have played it at the Seoul Olympics instead of the National Anthem (at least everyone would know the words!) Looking back at this song, in the current #metoo #nometoo #wheresthebandwagon climate, mistletoe and stealing kisses and wine and getting people tipsy probably dooms this one to an early tinsel strewn grave.

 

Notable lyrics: “children singing Christian rhymes” Not these days pal, it would be ‘Baby Shark’ until your ears bled.

Score 4/10

 

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday - Wizzard - 1973 &

Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade - 1973

And we’re back to the ‘70’s again.

These songs were made out of loud noise and hangovers, I would pay money to never hear either song again.

 

Notable lyrics: “Iiiiiiittt’ssss Chrrrrriiiiiisssstmaaaas!!!”

Go away.

Score -10/10 (-5 each)

 

Not Christmas Songs 

 

Much like the debate as to whether ‘Die Hard’ is a Christmas movie or not (it’s not) there are quite a few songs which get relentlessly thrown at our ears over Christmas, which really have nothing to do with it -

Stay Another Day - E17 & Something Stupid - Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman - neither is a Christmas focused offering, they were both in the charts at that time of year so are a default offering, much like It’s Cold Outside.

The Power Of Love - Frankie Goes To Hollywood - has a Christmassy video, but lyrically offers no relevance. If Smack My Bitch Up had a video involving Christmas Pudding, by default that would be added in to the annual rotation, surely?

But then you never hear Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine played as you meander around Tesco. Which is both unsurprising and a shame.

 

Happy Holidays x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York

It is amazing.

Packers Privilege.

Who? I mean who sets the luggage weight for suitcases?

Today I will be mostly struggling to fit everything I need to survive in a foreign country, for 7 days in to the confines of a wheeled canvas box, which must not exceed 23kgs AND be able to close. But as I’m also in charge of packing I am allowed “Packers Privilege” which is where you fill your own suitcase, and half of your travelling companions. Hubby is (kind of) aware that I do this, under the guise of he can borrow the smuggled items - although this doesn’t really work when I stealthily add shoes to his luggage, apparently you can’t fit size 12 feet in to size 8 shoes without surgery.

Shoes are alway the issue at FunnyGayGuy Grange. Upon hubby moving in he was astounded to find that I owned 14 pairs of shoes “excessive” was the phrase, along with suggestions of “thinning out” the collection.

It didn’t happen. Anyway, fast forward to our honeymoon, upon unpacking for the second time - ‘never settle for the first hotel room you’re given’ my mother at every hotel she has ever stayed at ever - hubby pulled out a very nice pair of flip-flops....and then it dawned on him what that Amazon purchase out of the wedding count five days after the wedding was...and seven years later I’m still reminded of that....and I’m still expected to wear them 24/7.

Any minute will come the hunt for the luggage locks, where each claim the responsibility of putting them away was the others, whilst hubby extracts yet another of my blue T-shirts out of his case and scowls disapprovingly before realising the T-shirt was covering additional/emergency/back-up/must-take shoes/the mandatory flip-flops.....

 

Tomorrow I am going to blog from the train! Wish me luck as I’m not up to date with my tetanus!

Reverse Wombling and stalking

Hi! How are you? 

I’ve just wormed the cat so I am fine.

 

Let us begin with our very first television review. Today we are going to review that BAFTA award winning documentary about not throwing things out.

 

Nope, it’s not Blue Planet.

I can’t watch that (again), not because I feel guilty, not because of the animals being fed exclusively on bin bags (Delia’s doing a recipe with this on her next series), but because hubby goes on an eco-craze whenever a programme about recycling comes on. And I’m not supporting his ambition to weave yarn out of Tesco carrier bags, or wear hats made out of braided can-links.

 

Today we are reviewing the equally highly esteemed BBC One show “Money for Nothing”.

The whole show revolves around “up-cycling”, which can be great, unless it’s done ironically by a menthol smoking guy called Jeremy who wears spray on jeans and lives in a yurt (on his parents estate).

 

Ok, so people are going about their business, chucking out candlewick bedspreads and Ming vases when this crazy woman pops up and starts asking about what they’re throwing out. 

Most of the conversations are about as comfortable as her bursting in as you finish on the loo. 

“Wow! That’s amazing, can I take this?”

Sarah, I’ve just discovered her name, yaps.

Surprisingly, nobody EVER says no.

Even more surprisingly is that nobody kills her for being annoying, overly enthusiastic and invading their personal space.

 

All the tat out of people’s cars is passed on to one of her contacts who always have “loads” of ideas.....yet none ever seem to involve petrol and matches.

Anyway, after loads of voiceover narratives of what’s being done, a whole plethora of things are created from the crap they’re given - it’s like a really bad round from The Generation Game. Everyone coos over how great Aunt Maudes Chippendale sideboard looks now it’s been covered in discontinued Laura Ashley prints and Artex, before the items are sold.

 

We then learn that Sarah has been busy stalking the people from the tip, as she turns up on their doorstep eager to show them that out of their broken and rusted Croquet set they have created twelve saber-legged antique chairs.

It’s amazing.

After handing over some cash Sarah skips of in to the distance, leaving the homeowners terrified and unsure if she’s going to return again - maybe they’re supposed to use the cash to get an injunction against her?

Maybe that’s what the whole programme is about.........

 

Jon

 

 

 

 

Hello! Thanks for inviting me into your world, you’ve got a really nice place and your hair looks great!

 

So after much persuading I have started a blog. And as per my mother, I’m not to be too harsh, critical or overly observant, although she didn’t specify that to be of myself or of others............

 

So I’m going to keep my first entry really brief. Not that I don’t have anything to say, but because I really should be doing some ironing and loading the dishwasher, and I want to see how these first words look.

 

Back soon J

 

 

 

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