Thursday, 18 December 2008

Curiouser and curiouser!

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was always my favourite book as a kid - I wonder if it influenced my career choice?

Anyway, I only mention it because of late I've been puzzled by several things and I'm curious to know what you make of them all.

This clown who drove onto the live rails at Birkdale - how come she didn't get electrocuted?

When did Eastenders get so fantastically fearless? I really hope they win a TV Bafta for the paedophile storyline. Patsy Palmer's proved herself as an actress in my book.

When politicians start blog bitching about your reports what's the best response? Maintain a dignified silence, or put them back in their box with a curt riposte?

Sister Act the musical - OMG! I know! - is opening in May but on hearing the news my first thought was "why has it taken so long?" To which end - can we please see Highway to the Danger Zone -Top Gun the Musical, The Bodyguard - Live!, and Pretty Woman - the stage show in the West End before next Christmas? Although, I suspect that this lot might not approve of that last suggestion.

This is still in beta, but it's such a lovely idea I thought I'd share it - as a pre-Christmas gift, if you will.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Not at all content

I'm a journalist, I like words as a general rule, but there's one I have a problem with: "Content".

At some point, probably while I had my back turned, it became acceptable for this industry that prides itself on plain English to stop discussing columns, copy, video footage, photographs and graphics and instead talk about "content".

If we must have a pointless umbrella term can we at least have a sensible one like, oh, I don't know, "news"?

A friend told me I was being precious when I ranted about this to him, but I disagree.

It's not that I don't understand that one day it's news the next day it's fish and chip wrappings - or some kind of online metaphorical equivalent - but I still think the c-word does journalists and our readers a disservice.

The word means everything and nothing and it's a euphemism of the worst kind that illustrates the muddled, navel-gazing that the industry succumbs to when talking about online journalism.

It's as though someone, somewhere has decided that because the new-fangled interwebnet2pointzero is here we need "content" - not cracking video footage, pics that generate hits or Pulitzer prize prose - to publish on it.

"Content" has a one size fits all ring to it, and the whiff of costs and corners cut and that's my other problem with the use of the term.

Brilliant reports, in any form, require an investment of time, talent or training - it can't be done on the cheap.

You shouldn't go slopping it about like Amy Winehouse trying to pour Sambuca shots, and no decent online editor does, so why use a term that makes it sound like we do?

It's time to relegate the phrase to manager speak and press officer babble where it can take it's place alongside "going forward", "cascade", and "synergy".

Class dismissed.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Blue Peter

Every now and then you read something truly astounding in the newspaper.

Some call it the "FMD factor" - as in "Fuck Me Doris! They've only gone and..."

The news that Peter Reid is coaching the Thai national squad scored pretty high on my FMD scale today.

I don't know where I was in September when this breathtakingly bizarre appointment was made - but the statement from our man in Bangkok that he doesn't want his old job at Sunderland back was the first I'd heard that he was out of the country.

But he's not just out of the country - he's in Thailand, managing their national side.

That's what I love about Peter Reid, he's nothing if not unpredictable. While most of the English football fraternity head to Spain when they decide to quit the UK, Huyton-born Reid has taken himself off to Thailand. Genius.

What's that all about? Does he speak Thai? Is Peter Reid to Thailand what Fabio is to England? There are *so* many questions I need answers to here, people.

I've always loved Peter Reid, ever since his foul-mouthed turn as the irate Sunderland manager in reality TV docu drama "Premier Passions".

What's not to love about the man who was happy to sound off to sports writers with pronouncements like "if I was in a boxing match with Dennis [Wise], I'd be delighted to face him if he goes down that easily" and, after a 3-0 thrashing "it was like Billy Smart's circus"?

Can't you just picture the bewildered faces of the Thai team as the Scouser embarks on an expletive-laden half time rant?

Don't you just wish you didn't have to imagine it, but could watch it fly-on-the-wall-style for yourself?

Don't you think it's time someone commissioned "Premier Passions - in Thailand?

Or is that a very different show?

Monday, 8 December 2008

2009: The Year of Happiness

...on TV.

That's right folks, if you thought 2009 wasn't already looking bleak, then brace yourselves, because I have it on good authority that TV execs are decreeing only shiny, happy stories make it on to our screens.

A friend who works in programme development was today bemoaning the fact that only cheery TV concepts are being given the time of day because patronising commissioners are of the opinion that the masses can't handle misery - or just the truth - during an economic downturn.

Sound a bit Stasi? Or just like your idea of what the ninth circle of hell might look like?

I dread to think what might pass for uplifting telly in the eyes of a programme commissioner - but I imagine that it could well involve Fern Britton banging on about gastric bands and positive body image.

Could this new mantra provide us with an explanation for the heretofore inexplicable appearance of "Hole in the Wall" and entirely unnecessary revival of "Krypton Factor"?

Isn't this a kind of cultural anaesthetic? I'd be quite happy to opt for vodka instead, thank you very much.

At least the cloud has a silver lining (or should that be the other way around?) - in as much as publishers are now ditching all of those endless moaning first person real-lifers as they go in search of a new Jilly Cooper for the naughties.

Giddy up!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Crash! Bang! Wallop!

Hello blogosphere - it's been a while, hasn't it?

Don't worry, I haven't been depriving the world of my premier league prose while this blog has lain dormant - and to prove it here are the highlights of the past few weeks.

This cast of mad , bad and dangerous to know characters in Merseyside and Sefton has filled up my notepad and kept me (and hopefully the readers) entertained.

The Ormskirk potato farmer was a particular joy - bangers and mash anyone?
It turned out that although he'd given the impression that the "bomb" was safe it transpired he'd put off calling in the MOD to find out for certain until after we took the pics - meaning that I'd sent our snapper out into the field to photograph a potentially explosive landmine.
I probably owe that man a drink.

They haven't all been nuts though - this family will warm the cockles of your heart and make you believe in true love.