Friday, 16 November 2018

The UK: Series Finale

Any pilot will tell you that you’re only as good as your landing. It doesn’t matter how splendidly you fly through the air: if you botch the end, it counts for nothing.

Brexit is coming in for its landing, and the cabin pressure is high. Maybe a landing is a controlled crash, but just how much control has really been taken back?

There's no more time or chances for correction; the rapidly approaching series finale will be the last impression we ever have of the characters we’ve grown to love to hate.

Some fans are worried it won’t live up to the hype, but we’re here to calm your fears.

The UK: Series Finale will absolutely live up to the hype, there's already rumours of a Scandi-noir version to follow it.

So let's look at some of the ingredients of the show:

1. Time and money

First and foremost, Brexit was not a rushed production. The government had an interest in getting the season out sooner rather than later, but they allowed showrunners David "Slowrunner" Davis and Dominic "Rab" Raab enough time to work on making the finale memorable.

They had over two years to get it perfected, which is longer than even a series of Game of Thrones. There's a staggering budget well into the tens of billions and that's just for the initial exit phase.

2. Absence makes the heart grow fonder

We don’t exactly know the outcome, and most of us have even forgotten the original plot-lines apart from maybe something about a bus.

The wait has been agonizing at times, but when that iconic 585 page document hit the table, we knew we were in for another spectacle of squabbles.

Some of the main players are already barely able to contain themselves. Those EU types have been parading the hefty paperwork barely concealing a smile.

The citizens are angry, and the slogans are as witty as we'd come to expect.

We’re going to have to savour every moment we have left with these characters as they hurtle towards the end of this story.

3. At long last, expect the unexpected

And what a story it’s been. Ultimately, we’ve no idea what will happen in the closing scenes. Will goodwill win out in some form or another, and we’ll all go home happy? ... or will we?

Many are already teasing that the ending to this saga will be “bittersweet,” and those shocking twists will just keep coming. All bets are off as we enter the endgame. (Except the betting for a new Tory leader)

After all, who'd have thought that the languid David Davis would heap scorn on the very paper that was created mostly under his jurisdiction?

Or that the loathsome govesome slithery backstabby one would turn down the chance to front the work that he'd set in play in the first place?

That May's replacement and pleasantly plausible stooge for Brexit would feel forced to hit eject just at a critical moment?

You couldn't make this up. I'm pretty sure that we still don't know how this tale will end only that it's not going to be all unicorns and rainbows.

Maybe some characters will survive but others won’t, and that’s going to keep things exciting. Even that riddle-speaking 18th Century hyphenated-millionaire is still in play. He's surely one of the undead, which is going to cause complications as he lines up others for his nanny-assisted chopping block.

I should really mention the left-tinged oppositional one, but he's still dithering on the edges after his scripted season break in Cuba.

4. Towards the end
It’s true that this govenment doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to satisfactory conclusions.

Other major series like Deadwood, Rome, or Bored to Death were cancelled before they could conclude naturally, and The Sopranos had an ending that was, to put it mildly, controversial.

At the same time, this UK show has made us reexamine how we think about democracy and government.

5. Will people see some parts of the series finale coming?

I'm guessing there will still be further tricks up its sleeve.

Considering how thoroughly they’ve pretended to prepare for it - yet singularly failed to do much more than accept a dictated convoluted paper for what - after all - is only the first stage. There's a Breaking Bad quality now as the a main protagonist becomes ever more disconnected from realities.

However, the behaviours are making me wonder if this show will be canned before a subsequent follow-on series could be proposed?

It has become a show with no predictable elements, except what seems to be a spiral ever further downwards. Maybe some countries would like this kind of thing, but I'd prefer something with some light and shade. A few upbeat moments could make all the difference.

We have to decide. Is it "Set the controls for the heart of the sun"? ...or maybe we'll need to use that old Dallas ploy..."It was all a dream"?

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Offer: fight club selling Britain by the pound (includes free fudge)

I suppose the idea now is to spin it positive. To make it look as if it's a good thing. That it's the best deal that the UK Government can get. To seem as if the will of the people is being carried out. To show that a project timescale has been met.

* Key Point: The EU won't have given the UK anything better than its members get. It will be worse. On principle.

* Old Key Point: The will of the people was based upon lies from both sides of the argument.

* Emerging Key Point quietly understated: The offshore funding of the leave campaign could have been illegal.

Now we get five hundred pages hiding a fudge dressed up in fancy words.

Pushing border management into a long term transition. Backstop Plus. One for attorney-general Geoffrey Cox to finagle wangle.

Chuck in a few words about "Control" but behind almost anarchic scenes there's whipfuls of impure moral suasion.

Carrot or stick? Who gets a peerage? What indiscretions won't be revealed? Come on down to Number 10 for your customised arrangement.

Ironically, the 'Rights of Englishmen' is being breached.

The new deal says there'll be money paid out to the EU and rule by the EU over UK matters without representation. I almost find myself agreeing with the Bojo the Clown on this.

Back in 1776 in the USA, the colonists wanted a local, representative government, for judicial matters and taxation. They even had a revolution against George III to settle it.

Now the UK gets Control. But it's a political control of the agenda. Rise of the maybots.

We get so-called exit options for the UK dictated by the government. They are a false choice. The over-stressed May (if she survives) will continue to be dogmatically deaf and blind to all arguments. Lock us into something with no gameplan for what happens starting 1st April.

Instead, stay in and re-elect some proper MEPs to replace the well-expensed tobacco and beer saboteurs. It's getting too much like the end of Fight Club.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Hamilton at Victoria Palace

A chance to see the amazing Hamilton at the Victoria Palace.

It's one of those shows that is famously difficult to get tickets to see and ours were purchased back in January.

The theme of 'hard to access' continues with a queue to get into the theatre (even for ticket holders), sniffer dogs, two forms of identification and that's before we even get to the bar.

The show describes the ascent of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the USA. He was an influencer of the U.S. Constitution, and founded the USA's financial system. Wine in the bar included The Federalist, which was a reference to his political party

The storytelling in the musical moves at a break-neck speed, summarising his turbulent orphan time in the Caribbean in a couple of lines, pausing on a few key points as he gets together with Aaron Burr, John Laurens, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan who, together, decide he has a way with words.

This leads towards his revolutionary ways, where a brilliantly played foppish King George III turns from humour to menace on a sixpence.

We learn the ten commandments of dualling, see casualties and Hamilton's contribution at the behest of Washington towards the Siege of Yorktown.

It's a full-on and nuanced libretto, often performed in a rapping style, but with a clarity and intent that keeps the audience fully involved. Although described as a hip-hop musical, there's plenty of other styles included and some quite tongue-in-cheek moments such as a rapping argument complete with a drop the mike moment.

The detailed staging is pretty much the same scene throughout, although the multi-level choreography means that I was already thinking I'll need to see this again.

It's an interesting and vibrant story told with colour-blind casting, great music and thought provoking attitudes around complex parts of what is still intertwined into modern America.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

not so speedy

It was supposed to be a quick hop from Greenwich to Upminster, but the tunnels were blocked.

It all started with some emergency anti-flooding work at the Dartford Tunnel, which caused the traffic to spread back to the Rotherhithe tunnel.

A resultant 3 hours to do 13 miles, including taking various avoidance measures. A terrible mpg statistic. Then, another one and a half hours to finally reach the destination. The route showed 19 miles, although we did finally take the 25 mile route via Dartford, once the tunnel reopened.

Friday, 9 November 2018

wiring in a revenue earner

The red car had a sequence of faults recently. The rear wiper stopped working. Then the tailgate wouldn't open. Now one of the rear lights has conked out.

It's had repairs from the friendly small garage, but it is obvious that the wires to the tailgate have frayed and are failing sequentially.

I can remember visiting car production lines and seeing that wiring was one of the more labour intensive tasks in a largely automated process. Each custom assembled car had a few crates contains relevant wiring harnesses delivered and then threaded by individuals working along the skeleton vehicle.

So now it is time for a dealership repair, although they've (gulp) quoted for a new wiring harness.

We're getting it done although I'm irritated that a new modern car would have this kind of fault, which is apparently quite common across several makes of very well-known cars.

A case of deliberate revenue generation?

Friday, 2 November 2018

buying the last fan in east London

It was like a task from The Apprentice. Find a large electric fan in autumnal London.

At the start, it didn't even seem like a challenge. Local shops. Bound to have one.

Or not.

Then try online. Yes Amazon Prime showed them, but we needed it same day. Even Prime was too slow and we'd have to use a tricky address. Never mind, one of the stores in nearby Canary Wharf was showing that they had them.

We made our way along, although my misgivings that the shop would be filled with mobile phone accessories was accurate. Fan? They had one Dyson for about £400 but none of the ones in their online catalogue. Try Barking, they said.


Then a couple more stops in Canary Wharf. All the usual suspects, but its a seasonal thing. I do get it. Fans are large and take up floor space. They impact the retail sales per square foot metric.

I briefly remembered seeing a whole pile of fans somewhere a few weeks ago, but wait. That was in Exeter.

On to our third search area and our last chance. We took the tube to Westfield in Stratford. Surely someone would have a fan?

In Apprentice terms we could have phoned around, but the reality was that listed products were not always immediately available. The fan in Canning Town (in Stock) was actually on a five day delivery.

Then we thought of healthcare. Surely some people would be hot and need cooling down? Hot and weary, we needed that treatment ourselves now.

Into Boots.

And yes. One fan remaining. The last fan in London.

Now it was ours and totally worth it.

At least we had something until we could recover the big one from Newcastle.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

tweet boxes : it's a London thing

Tonight, the show is on the road in Doncaster, but then a night move south to that London Town.

First London gig is at Canada Water tomorrow, so I've been quietly looking at the SE16 and related twitter feeds as part of generating some local interest.

Some will recall that rashbre central has also been based on the South Bank, notably at Chelsea Bridge Wharf, so it was almost nostalgic to look at a few of the local activities in the adjacent Southwark.

My favourite new London phenomenon, I decided, was the repurposing of estate agent signs.

It's yet to spread, but after so many months the estate agents are supposed to move the signs but sometimes forget.

The one at the top of this post, a bright yellow number, didn't get moved and has had some minor adaptation to turn it into a nesting box.

I suppose the yellow colour will also act as a speed camera style deterrent, so a double positive from this particular endeavour. Tweet, tweet.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

on wide time's cusp of now

The new Doctor Who series poses an interesting question around 'returning to now'.

No longer the monochrome 'now' of Hartnell's era. After 37 series spanning 55 (!) years and 13 Doctors, we now have an altogether more anamorphic 4k version of 'now' with early 21st century Whittaker.

I'll also credit the good story telling and proper humour in the new episodes. Personally I prefer a bit of zaniness in this type of show, so the occasional throwaway quip adds to the fun.

Another fairly recently made show also tips that 'now' point. After Doctor Who episodes there have been BBC adverts for an impending series of Luther (played by Idris Elba) as well as suggestions to watch the original box-sets on iPlayer.

I decided to have a go and was intrigued to see that it is operating on that 'now' cusp, teetering into 'I remember'.

It was only filmed in around 2003. but it's long enough ago to mean that people mainly still use phones as - well - phones.

One of the policemen turns up in a big saloon car, which I initially though was some kind of Mercedes. No, it was a Ford Granada, which must have been just about to be discontinued.

There's some of those bendy buses in the London street scenes. Some of the computer screens aren't flat.

The London skyline features the Gherkin, but there's so much space around it. A few cranes maybe. That old building where the Cheesegrater now stands was still at that stalled stage whilst they figured out how to demolish its old vaults.

There's plenty of police procedural too, but with investigators stomping over crime scenes without those all-in-one zipper suits and shoe covers.

I know John Luther is supposed to be edgy, but some of the storyline is closer to old episodes of the Sweeney in terms of coppers' licence. Raid the stolen property cupboard for some items to help another case? Sure, the boss can look the other way, and so on.

It's still fun to rewatch and suits Halloween-week with some gruesome plot-lines as well as that delightfully unhinged Alice character, played brilliantly by Ruth Maddock. Then there's that sumptuous background music. Spot the Massive Attack chord sequences throughout the show.

Friday, 26 October 2018

another county

This time we're in the harbour. Across the county into Cornwall. It's a scene that might be quite well known to that deadpan television doctor, Doc Martin.

We even made our way around to his television house, which overlooks this harbour and is on another one of those steep roads which hardly has room for cars.

Then back towards the middle, where we could watch the seasons change.

One minute sunshine, but soon afterwards a sudden darkening sky, a mighty wind and the waves turned serious enough to be caught on my iPhone.

Then comedy sideways sleet as we looked out across a mixed weather system, sun, rain and small hailstones, punctuated with a piece of rainbow.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

a spot of local colour around #Topsham

These pictures are somewhat chocolate-boxy, and are 'spares' from a test run to take pictures for a local project.

It happened to be another very sunny day and mid afternoon the shadows being cast were very long and very dark. I'll visit again when the difference between in and out of shade is more muted.

These pictures are around the waterfront near little winding streets, some of which are too narrow for a modern car.

By the river, many of the boats are back out of the water until the spring and the next scheduled sailing across to the pub on the other side isn't until Easter, although I suspect there will be a few special cruises in the interim.

Outdoor life at some of the pubs is still in full swing although all of the hostelry are gently adjusting for the chillier season ahead.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

package roadrunner, baby

I can't help wondering whether this will change next year. A package is on its way to me from Germany. Nothing exciting, but 3.5kg of box with contents. It left the warehouse yesterday afternoon at 15:03CET. Here's the progress so far:

By the end of yesterday it had travelled at faster miles an hour for around 500 km. Slower than Google's estimate (as always), but it had also cleared the German export scanning system.

Then, onto a plane to East Midland Airport, which is the second busiest UK freight airport after Heathrow.

Because of the time difference with Germany, the package arrived in the UK only a few minutes after it left Germany. It was whisked through import scanning and onto a truck resulting in it being close to me by 7 o'clock this morning.

Now it's on a local delivery truck and will end up here before close of play. An example of crossing borders, paying taxes, handling export and import all in a very time efficient manner. Roadrunner, baby.

So will it be the high speed Boston video of that Modern Lovers/Richman single, or saxaphonically this, instead?

Gotta go, a big brown truck has just pulled up outside.