This Week, Monday 8th June 2015

The Brain, Its Eye Peels

Jester catI feel as if my mind is slowly reawakening. Normal things are being normal again, I’m laughing at funny things and am sad about sad things. I’m edging back from the precipice on my mental health unicycle. So that’s good. It’s not yet getting me, or us out of the stasis bubble we’ve been in for the last 7 weeks since we lost Merly. There’s still a moment every day when I’m physically staggered by the change. It’s certainly hit us a lot harder than any other death, but I think we were pretty close to the cliff before that happened.

We’ve been making friends with a bunch of new cats who have popped up around Beeston, and I finally made friends with the adorable little cat who slinks through the garden outside my window at work.

So what is going on? I can’t say we’re going out much, but we’ve returned to useful routines like improv on Thursdays. It’s even started to be fun again. If all goes well MissImp will be moving out of current digs and into shiny new ones soon, and then we can restart monthly shows. Mind you, we’ve got Gorilla Burger this week (I’m compering again, back in the saddle and all that), and Interrobang in Derby on 7th July. I’ve begun saying yes to events again – I’ll be compereing and possibly performing at Furthest From The Sea Festival on 20th June, and I’ve just been invited to be part of the cast for The Mad Hatter’s Cocktail Party at Splendour on 17 July. It looks like it’s filling up quite quickly.

I’ve got to have time for everything else as well though – some of that is returning to writing, because this is how I think and remember what I’ve been doing. If I don’t write about it there’s a good chance it will vanishes into the abyss between thoughts.


Lego MountainI’ve hoarded a horrifying amount of Lego which sits unopened in a heap on top of a wardrobe. It pleases me to look upon that immaculately packaged mound. I’m waaaay behind in blogging about what I’ve built so I suppose I’ll just have to pick somewhere to start.

Recently I was facing brain freeze coupled with a twitching need in my hands to assemble things. I mastered this fidgety frenzy by building some of the smaller sets I’d acquired, but I knew I needed to build.

I’d had the idea of building more stuff from the Flash Pulp universe. There’s a wealth of inspiring ideas in there – zombies, forests, ancient gods… For the Flash Pulp Secret Kar’Mas game I made one of Opopanax’ illustrations into a Lego (nightlight?) model.

Kar'Mas 2015

I was pretty happy with how it turned out and I had my eye on several other illustrations. In indecision I looked up FP001. It’s the first story they published and features Mulligan Smith chasing a guy into an alley. Perfect. The story is pretty evocative while giving relatively little description of the location to either limit or draw upon.


Turns out this system is ideal for me! I’m getting to build things I would never normally get round to and filling all the details in is working well. I’ve now illustrated the first three episodes, which is great except when I note that they’re now up to FP452. I may never catch up. Hell, I know I won’t – I’m hitting about one every three weeks they post at least two a week… It’s also nice to be building for a specific audience – the Flash Mob.

TV Inhalation

We’ve been consuming whole seasons of television again. We’ve paused watching the superb Daredevil for now. It is fantastic, but right now just too brutal to enjoy. Lots of well deserved praise is being heaped on the cast, choreographers and everyone else involved for making the first really good TV superhero show (since The New Adventures of Superman, obviously).

Instead we tried out Arrow. It’s terrible: wooden, inane and nonsensical (and I’m saying the original Batman series was better). About a third of each episode is spent watching our hero shirtless doing pull ups. While he does them in a suitably hardcore way it’s not that impressive after twenty episodes. Often that’s the best that the show gets. His disguise is just a streak of black makeup and a hood. The villain is everybody’s favourite West End grinning alien-humper, John Barrowman, unfortunately menace is just outside his range. Some of the episodes bobble along alright, but the tone is variable, fights adequate and plot stupid. I can only imagine the makers of Daredevil watched Arrow and correctly decided not to do any of that.



Dark and Light

I’m struggling to remember what else we saw… oh yeah: we watched season 1 of Constantine which was a lot of fun. Listening to John Constantine’s Welsh actor veering in and out of Scouse was amusing too. It’s got some good darkness, with a pace and cast that kept us watching. The wheelchair guy from Oz (Harold Perrineau) as a guardian angel? Yes please. We also saw the first season of Sleepy Hollow, which has a similar vibe to Grimm, dark occult nonsense with a likeable cast and a sense of menace from the villains. We’ve also started to catch up on Castle, which continues the fun of ‘police+random consultant from any walk of life = better detective work’. Then we watched the first season of Ripper Street which I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would. The Victorian era looks suitably grimy and the cast are grim and focussed.

I’ve been mainlining Prison Break and finished season 4 last week. It’s a deeply daft show with a surprising number of hooks that have kept me very entertained. He tattoos his whole body to break his brother out of prison, he wears long-sleeved t-shirts for the next two series because those tattoos are useless but take ages to draw on. They break out of another prison, they break into a vault, and into yet another prison. The cast are very likeable and the story winds them through impressive character arcs, redeeming villains, crushing heroes, forging bonds and friendships. I was particularly fond of the vicious murderer and rapist Theodore Bagwell who plays one of the real bad guys with relish, his lovely Southern drawl enabling him to say things like “I’ll be right back, lickety-split” without being laughable. His end is very satisfying, and as inevitable as the others’. I realised quite close to the end why I liked the show – it’s basically Mission Impossible, the good one – y’know, without Tom Cruise. I hear they’re talking about bringing it back. I’m up for that, though they’ll need to unkill at least one main character (not that they didn’t do that all the way through the show anyway).

Couldn’t Be Arsed To Continue

We tried out, but gave up on: Defiance, which looked worse than Starship Troopers 3 and was less credible than Space Precinct. The 100, which is just The Tribe in a forest (but at least Will and Jayden Smith aren’t in it), Black Sails, which I was really up for but left me wanting story, Transparent in which all the characters were hateful and unwatchable, Bloodline which ends the pilot with “we killed our brother, but we had reasons” – yup, we believe you and don’t need to see it, Houdini, wow – awful.

Currently On Our Box

Right now we’re watching Marco Polo, which looks lovely and has us gripped in its alien politics, ambiguous characters and action. Alongside that we’re re-watching Hyperdrive, which is much better and funnier than I remember. I think it got a lot of grief because it wasn’t Red Dwarf, though of course a lot of Dwarf ain’t the Dwarf we want either. I’m watching and hugely enjoying the reboot of Thundercats which is a lot sharper, darker and more interesting than the original merch-fest.



Other Stuff

I bought a new game and played it on the Wii for the first time in two years! It’s not a new game (obviously) – it’s Lego Lord of The Rings and it’s enormously satisfying. I’d been disappointed by Lego Indiana Jones and the first Batman game and this seems like a delightful return to fun gameplay and a world you can explore without being completely lost. You do have to change the brightness on your TV though – Mordor’s quite dark.


Film Reviews – Visions of The Future (Fury Road, Tomorrowland, Moomins)

Mad Max Fury Road (15)

I’ve got generally happy memories of the older Mel Gibson series. I enjoyed them, though I haven’t seen any of them for well over a decade. Mostly I remember being surprises that petrol and gimp-wear survive the end of civilisation. And the films being bonkers.
George Miller’s new, production hell film brings Mad Max gloriously up to date. Mullet and mostly S&M wear free, this has instantly become my favourite film of the year. It looks incredible, and contains some of the most beautiful desertscapes and depictions of cruelty and bleakness and desperate hope I’ve seen.

It starts with a clearly mentally unwell Max (a magnetic Tom Hardy) hallucinating his family and others who have died in his care. He’s immediately captured by a gang of white painted war boys and taken to a mesa topped with farms and filled with cogs, chains and lunatics.There he’s dehumanised into a ‘universal donor’ and imprisoned. Meanwhile, the right-hand woman (Charlize Theron: incredible) of the mesa’s insane partly crippled leader breaks away with his breeding stock. That’s the setup, and it’s all the film needs to explode onto the screen. What follows is visually stunning, heart rending and thrilling with almost no pause for breath.

Themes of redemption, sacrifice, equality and depression are deftly wrapped up in explosions, terrifying and relentless physical stunts, violence and piercing moments of happiness and relief. Every human in the film is disabled, either physically, mentally or emotionally. The villains and their victims are victims of radiation sickness and deformities (and the awful post-apocalyptic world they inhabit), Theron’s character has an awesome prosthetic arm (possibly the best since Evil Dead II), the breeders’ fertility is turned against them and becomes their sole value, the war boy who turns good (Nicholas Hoult) spends the film on the verge of death from tumours and his psychological conditioning to accept Immortan Joe as a god who will lead them to Valhalla.

The apparent lunacy of the trailer is given enough grounding by the story, superb performances from the cast and (again) the shocking stunt work of hundreds of people. Fucking ace. Watch it.


Tomorrowland – A World Beyond (PG)

Disney seem to be struggling to make good live action films these days – not that they aren’t financially successful – they’re just terrible. Maleficent and Cinderalla were remarkable failures in story telling . So I was bit wary of this newest exploit. It opens with straight to camera exposition by George Clooney, interrupted by Britt Robertson. It’s a tedious device and I was grateful when it ended and they got on with the story (which was perfectly self-explanatory). The World Fair 1964 sees Clooney’s young inventor recruited by one of Tomorrowland’s robot agents, the excellent Raffey Cassidy (sorry for the spoiler, but really – it’s obvious), some stuff happens and we skip to the more-or-less present. I can barely be arsed to explain the story – basically the future (which isn’t actually the future) is in danger and Tomorrowland (which isn’t actually the future either, but is also in danger – I’m not sure why) may have a solution.

Tomorrowland contains lots of things I really liked – a retro-futuristic world lifted directly from The Jetsons and dozens of films from the last 30 years, but we’re only briefly invited in and when we finally get there it’s into the broken down, empty boring version with Hugh Laurie being a bad guy/Republican. We get robots, big chunky ones (again, for about a minute) and some androids who are cool, but are just Terminator-lites. Their big grins and creative deaths are pleasing, but they get phased out of the film and forgotten. The female leads are superb – very enjoyable and a nice counterpoint to broken-hearted Clooney, plus they mostly ignore his instructions (and I do like it when people do what they want). There’s a fantastic steampunk scene featuring the Eiffel Tower (worth watching it for), a great fight in a sci-fi and fantasy shop, some cool gadgets, stunts and flashes of what Tomorrowland could have been. Stitched into a different film I’d have loved it.

It’s a film that’s bothered me more since watching it. I get wrapped up in whatever I see and am happily whisked to the ending only to look back and sigh. I completely approve of the film’s message – we are fucking up this planet and failing to do anything about it. They literally state that in painful moralising dialogue during the film. We’re also accused by the film of revelling in catastrophe and dystopian apocalyptic fiction; we’re so in love with those ideas that we’ve assumed they’re going to happen and that’s the other reason we’re doing nothing. Even more so – those constant images of an apocalyptic future are directly affecting us and our future (yup, it’s a parallel dimension paradox thing) and we should just stop, y’know and watch old Disney movies and become better people and inhabitants of this planet. It’s a clumsily wielded sledgehammer which derails the story and characters. It also doesn’t make any sense. There’s no point having Tomorrowland in the film – it’s not the future, it’s a parallel dimension that great inventors have discovered and semi-developed. Instead of sharing the technological benefits with the Earth or y’know, moving everyone to that bright future it’s fallen into disrepair and depopulation because… Earth is going badly? I’ve stopped caring.

If this is the best film that Brad Bird can make, the man who brought us the finest superhero film ever made The Incredibles and The Iron Giant, then bring on the apocalypse.


Moomins On The Riviera

I hardly know where to begin. In case your own childhood wasn’t traumatised by Tove Jansson’s bizarre albino hippos leaving in the creepy Finnish forests, you really ought to take your kids or heavily drugged adults for the experience. There’s even a comment about them not actually being hippos, leaving the viewer even more disturbed by this weird, self-aware film.

It opens with the Moomins hosting a party on a cliff, featuring a little folk music, a fire and fireworks that fail; the gathering is disappointed, “not this time” says Moomin Papa. It’s a strange note of despondent acceptance to start a film with, but it perfectly fits whatever philosophy lies behind this creation. Soon the cast are joined by pirates and the malicious, vicious Little My (who begat nightmares when I was a child) and her big sister. Shortly after salvaging whatever they could carry from the ship (books and fireworks), the pirates arrive seeking their treasure.

Then the Moomins decide to go for a moonlight sail into a massive storm, because such things are good for the soul… They find the Riviera, source of Snorkmaiden’s socialite/womens’ magazine fantasies. There they take up residence in a bed inside a hotel room (they assume they are guests in someone’s house, and the room is too big). Soon, Moomin Papa and Snorkmaiden are deep into the bohemian and celebrity lifestyle. Meanwhile, Moomin Mama and Moomin (the son) go to live on the beach and get back to nature by making a rock garden.

Ultimately the lifestyle proves shallow, though Snorkmaiden’s hell on the roulette wheel and Moomin Papa and his new sculptor pal raise hell introducing art to civic society. They leave under a cloud, racing away from arrest (but paying the vast hotel bill with Snorkmaiden’s winnings), and distract the police and beach by unleashing a bagful of fiercely swearing insects…

“What the fuck?” is an appropriate reaction. It was certainly ours, and the four other people who saw it. If it sounds crazy and disconnected, that’s because it is. The film is a bizarre sequence of events, peculiar folk philosophies, satire, and nightmarish characters. It’s a bit like Hellboy 2 for children. One of my favourite moments is as they arrive at the hotel: Sniff (possibly a rat) stops to take aside one of the rats who works at the hotel – “I need you to take my place in the story – I’m going to get married.” And indeed he does.

Moomins on the Riviera looks great – they’ve kept the look and feel of Janssen’s comics and cartoon and it perfectly scales up to the big screen. It’s gentle weirdness saturates your mind until you wake up nights later sweating. I both enjoyed it and deeply regret watching it.



Mad Tomorrow on the Fury Riviera

Drinking Diary On Pinterest

Just A Swift Pint

I struggle to remember what I did yesterday, let alone a month ago. Still less do I recall what delightful alcoholic beverages I might have imbibed and thus scrubbed from my mind.

I’ve also signed up with Beer52 who deliver a lovely box of somewhat unusual craft beers each month. They’re giving good beer, or at least are now.

The first few months had quite a few repeats, but what I’m after is stuff I can’t easily acquire myself. It’s better now!

If you fancy giving them a whirl you can use the link below to get yourself a tenner off your first box:


There’s a lot of IPA, which I guess reflects the current trends. I prefer darker beers, which I can get cheaper at B and M Bargains and Home Bargains. It’s a challenge for others to compete with 89p for a bottle of Innis and Gunn American Oak IPA.

There’s Nowhere To Keep The Bottles

So I’ve started a Pinterest board called Drunkled Beer. I’ve been adding empty bottles and occasional bargain victories for a couple of weeks now. If nothing else it’s a summary of gentle alcoholism and bargain hunting (mostly by the extraordinarily discerning and teetotal Lady M).

By all means follow it and commiserate with my internal organs. I only intend to pin each drink once, so if it looks rarely updated that’s because I’m drinking the same things!

This Week, Monday 15 June 2015

Stuff to Report

There is little of note. This is good. Life is fairly quiet right now, and thankfully so. We’re thinking about kitten things, and about what to do with where we live. Complicated thinkings, but good ones. There’s some fun events coming up too – the Furthest From The Sea Festival on Saturday and Interrobang and Gorilla Burger a couple of weeks later.

Last weekend we enjoyed my Dad’s birthday. He’d planned it so that we could empty the lofts and have a vicious sift through things that we kids wanted from our childhoods. I only came home with four boxes of books and toys… We’ve sent a tonne of stuff on to freecycley things and charity shops, including some very battered and worn old Star Wars vehicles.

Once I reopen the boxes I’ll also root through my old school books and reports again. I feel a curious nostalgia for things I really don’t remember at all.

I also came across the fantastic kids’ book about where babies come from that the internet has recently discovered. I was never in any doubt that babies emerged from the flesh of their mothers. Precisely how it all works is still an horrific mystery.

Keeping Limber, Mind and Meat

We’ve had a variable start to the year, which has mostly gone undocumented due to creative fails. I started swimming again at the end of last year and was feeling pretty damn good about it. I missed swimming, having swum for Staffordshire waaaay back when I was a teenager, and hadn’t gone in the water for about 15 years. It took a while to get back up to speed and it was good to be charging through the water again.

In March I burst both my eardrums (possibly due to some infection) and promptly smashed myself and my bike into the new tram line going up into Chilwell. That was a shit weekend. The doc’s immediately told me I couldn’t swim for at least a month, and I had to get my bike fixed.

I only really discovered through abstinence just how much enjoyment and relaxation I was getting from swimming every day. It’s a nice little pool just round the corner from work so if I get there between 8 and 9 I can swim before work! But not for a month. I grew grumpy and frustrated. With the burst eardrums I’ve also now got the possibly permanent joy of tinnitus which adds exciting screaming and whooshing sounds to everyday life. Sometimes it’s so loud I think I can’t hear anything else (although I actually can) and I act as if I’m deaf. It’s weird.

I am however back to swimming now. I was going daily even when on sick leave after Merly died. I do think it pulls you together. It’s a focussed activity with zero distraction, except for slow people. It’s become a good reason to get up and leave the house in the morning, and I can go swimming every day that I’m working from my usual office, so that’s at least 4 days a week.

I’ve been bombing up and down with my beloved compact breast stroke and hadn’t really paid attention to how much I was swimming. I’d been told I was pretty fast and have frightened a few people out of the fast lane. Sure, front crawl’s faster, but it’s really hard to maintain for more than about ten lengths. And that’s when I cruise past… I can’t keep track of counting lengths, but I managed it for long enough to get an average. I reckon I’m doing about three 18m lengths a minute. So when I’m swimming for a whole hour I’m doing nearly 3.25 km! I like the stamina part of not stopping at all. Fun! Brain happy!



We had a fine Gorilla Burger last week, which I very much enjoyed compering. We had a slick order of play too: started with stories, then a round of two-minute games/scenes followed by two rounds of one-minute scenes and then an interval. The last bit was a series of four person Henrys; all of them were great.

I’m looking forwards to performing on Saturday with Martin (once he’s returned from his American adventures, and gosh, they have been adventurous). No idea what we’re going to do with our ten minute slot, but it’ll be good.

Last Week’s Scribbles

Colin Barnfather – Scattering His Ashes  – last summer’s family trip to Scotland

This Week, Monday 8th June 2015 – so many television

Film Reviews – Visions of The Future (Fury Road, Tomorrowland, Moomins) – amazing film, average film, weird film

Events and Excitement

Saturday 20th June

Furthest From The Sea Festival

FFTS15A huge free event with 6 stages around the Cathderal Quarter Derby showcasing live performances and entertainment – music, comedy, dance, theatre and much much more!

This is one my favourite events of the year, and I’m gutted to have been away from the gang for so long. MissImp have a slot on the theatre stage at 2.20 and I’m compering on a stage somewhere…

Handcrafted at the Cathedral Quarter features handmade and designed products from artisans across the Midlands!
Come on down and explore the stalls full of treasure, the workshops full of wonders and the performances of a lifetime! #CQSaturdays #FFTS15

Derby Cathedral Quarter

10am – 4pm

Facebook event with many more details

Tuesday 7th July

Interrobang – Improv Comedy Night

InterrobangInterrobang is part of the Derby Comedy Festival. The only show of its kind in Derby, brought to you by MissImp & Furthest from the Sea Music, Comedy & Arts, features an improvised comedy jam in which everyone can take part, followed by a showcase of the best improv in the region.

Tickets are £5 preorder and £6 on the Door. Click here to book:

Hosted in the Cube (Cafe/Bar) area of Déda Derby through out the night you will be able to order food and drink.

Box Office Phone: 01332 370 911

Déda Derby – Déda, 19 Chapel Street, Cathedral Quarter, DE1 3GU Derby


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This Week, Monday 22 June 2015

Furthest From The Sea Festival 2015

FFTS15I am knackered. I blame Matt McGuinness and Dan Webber in particular. The reasons are diverse and good, and chiefly centre on last Saturday. For the third year in a row Furthest From The Sea have organised a huge free festival of music, theatre, comedy and arts in the middle of Derby. It’s ace, and I’ve been privileged to be involved in them all. This year I got involved really late, and I’ve been out of the FFTS scene all year. I really only have two skills though, and I’m pretty much useless until this point. I can talk (endlessly), and so got to compere the St Peter’s Quarter stage. I managed not to say a single offensive thing about religion (into the mic) for the whole day. My other skill is in carrying things. I lack any technical grasp of the magic boxes of switches and sliders, but I can carry bits of gazebo and weights across the town centre.

It was an amazing day. I got up early (though not as early as the hardcore crew) and got to Derby at around nine. It was drizzling cheerfully and a cool tonic to my recently caffeinated frame. I haven’t been drinking coffee daily for nearly a month and by god it felt marvellous. So – two hours of set up, a change of stage to compere, many, many weights to carry and people to chirp at happily. It was great to see a whole bunch of people who I adore and hadn’t realised I’d missed so much.

A Lovely Day’s Babble

Arjana Dance
Rebecca Rhythm

We managed to kick our stage off on time, despite the inevitable agonies of tech. I was happily reunited with the dedicatedly miserable Jamie Darcy with whom I’ve done many Knickerbocker Gloriouses and his assistant Becky. It went marvellously. I enjoy the shuffling of acts when someone’s late (or missing entirely) and conspiring to get it all back on track.  I also love talking to drunks and shouting youths: they make great stooges, as do many of the acts.

We had a couple of improv slots too, once on our stage for some improv games like Alphabet Game and Letter Replacement Therapy which went down well, then we ran off down to the Theatre Stage an hour later to deliver a spot of mock-Shakespeare: The Locksmith, a formerly unknown work by big Bill. That was a lot of fun.

The only problem with compering a stage is that you don’t get to see all the other cool stuff happening. Still, I loved the day. I even loved the break down afterwards (third t-shirt!) and then, of course, going to the pub. I also got to see a very old friend – the friendship is old, she’s the same age as me… oh, that is quite old – and meet her other half and miniature humans. Shocking! But very lovely.

Here are some badly taken photographs:

The St Peter’s Quarter Stage Running Order

Samuel James Tidmarsh – a beautifully coiffed man with a ukelele and a voice you could spread on toast

The Feathers – the superb folk act who actually fought back the rain

Rebecca Rhythm – the rain returned and Rebecca tapped right through it, which looked very much like a slip hazard. Turns out I might not be a good tap dancer.

Carl North – the quality half of Lucille (sorry Scott…)

Rhythmical Mike – fast-paced performance poetry delivered into the faces of an unsuspecting crowd
The Herron Brothers – very good humoured indie pop stuff (I don’t know what genres mean anymore) with two charming performers

MissImp – that’s us! Marilyn and Martin joined me for a string of word torture games
Arjana Dance – as ever, the ladies captured a huge crowd with their graceful dancing and glittering costumes

The Open Road – the only set I missed because I was performing on the Theatre Stage. But I have their CD and it’s great!

Louise Grattan – fine fiddling action which made me feel like I was in the middle of a film. Electric violin – what the fuck!
Fine Arts Society – they put me back into the nineties with their splendid indie sound

♥Last Week’s Scribbles

This Week, Monday 15th June 2015  – immersion is so fine

Drinking Diary on Pinterest – this is what I drink

Upcoming Events

Tuesday 7th July – Interrobang – Improv Comedy Night


Interrobang is part of the Derby Comedy Festival. The only show of its kind in Derby, brought to you by MissImp & Furthest from the Sea Music, Comedy & Arts, features an improvised comedy jam in which everyone can take part, followed by a showcase of the best improv in the region.

Tickets are £5 preorder and £6 on the Door. Click here to book:

Hosted in the Cube (Cafe/Bar) area of Déda Derby through out the night you will be able to order food and drink.

Box Office Phone: 01332 370 911

Déda Derby – Déda, 19 Chapel Street, Cathedral Quarter, DE1 3GU Derby


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