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Resting Pedant

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(no subject) [Apr. 29th, 2013|12:40 am]
Resting Pedant
Stan Butler

It's interesting that, although you can easily miss the short runs of genuinely worthwhile repeats on ITV3, it's almost impossible to avoid On The Buses. This has been the case for several years now. (Unless you have the strength of character not to watch ITV3, obviously. But come on.)

I won't insult you by suggesting that you don't know the bare bones of the set-up at the Luxton and District Bus Company between 1969 and 1973, but in case it's slipped your mind, the key personnel are Stan the bus driver, Jack the conductor, Blakey the Inspector and Olive, Stan's sister-in-law. One is a cocky yet sensitive everyman, one is a priapic, snaggle-toothed heart-throb, one is a put-upon jobsworth, and one is a vilified, sullen laughing-stock. Hilarious. I honestly don't think I'm addicted, or anything like that.

It's a very bad programme: lazily performed, barely rehearsed, repetitive, deeply boring. The writers can't seem to help returning to the same few feeble devices over and over again. These are chiefly: the pursuit of smashing, randy birds; the pointless outwitting of the management for no clear reason; the evasion of hard work in favour of smoking; and the overcrowding and chronic money worries of the Butler household, which lead to a lot of sexual frustration and domestic strife.

There is also a strange, perhaps unconscious, fixation about playing with food. Stan often finds himself in situations which require him to conceal sausages in the breast pocket of his bus driver's jacket, stick oysters and fried eggs down his trousers, or hold several extremely hot potatoes in his mouth for comical reasons.

The other thing is the relentless, torrential use of the word blimey. Naturally, you would expect working-class ladies and gentleman in a 1970s sitcom to do plenty of mild swearing, but the blimeying in On The Buses surpasses all normal usage. It exceeds anything that might punctuate the dialogue to help comic timing. It's just incontinent. Once you notice it, you can't focus on any of the other totally crap factors at play - all you can do is prepare to flinch in the face of the next blimey.

Am I making myself clear? Well, this is what a typical episode, The Lodger, sounds like if you remove all the dialogue except the blimeys:

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(no subject) [Feb. 28th, 2013|12:16 am]
Resting Pedant
Went to see the Juergen Teller show at the ICA, and it was only when I arrived that I realised it was called Woo! and not Wool, as I had thought until then. This happens to me quite a lot. I often misread burn as bum, which is pretty funny if you are British and childish. The font in which I'm typing this seems reasonably clear, but the EPG on my television is completely ambiguous: Bum After Reading, Bum Notice.

Teller is one of those people I can't help surrendering myself to and trusting. He's so open and confessional and off-hand that he seems terribly mysterious. He is not a needy bore, like Terry Richardson, and I imagine he must hate fashion a lot of the time. There are a few self-portraits, of a kind. I suppose it must take plenty of self-confidence to present your anus (but not your face) to the camera while balancing on a grand piano being played by Charlotte Rampling; but it is a funny sort of self-confidence.
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(no subject) [Feb. 10th, 2013|08:20 pm]
Resting Pedant
I was walking up Church Road on Thursday, past the closed-down newsagent, Hove Newsagents, when I noticed two unhappy-looking men standing in the street ahead. They were facing me, but their heads were bent over something one man was holding in his hands. From a distance it looked like a wallet full of highly-coloured foreign bank notes. They were very absorbed in some sort of complicated discussion in a language I didn't recognise.

It all seemed quite exotic, but once I was close enough I realised that they were leafing through a small packet of processed ham, very carefully separating and counting the slices.

That is a true story, and I thought it was worth passing on.
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(no subject) [Oct. 1st, 2010|02:12 am]
Resting Pedant
Danny Wilde

The Sweet Smell of Success and The Boston Strangler and Some Like It Hot are all very well, but I would particularly like to say goodbye to Danny Wilde. I always thought the only thing wrong with this was that it featured three Bretts and no Danny:

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(no subject) [May. 31st, 2009|01:50 am]
Resting Pedant
More unconscionable behaviour in the changing rooms:

*the constant relays of unrecognisable, tuneless whistling. Only a few convulsive seconds from each offender, but someone’s always at it – just beginning or just petering out. The background music alternates between the banging high-energy poison you’d expect and those pained, striving, Evanescence-style dirges. So everyone, regardless of age, taste and bearing in the outside world, just toots a few notes slightly related to those. It’s a relative of tuneless whistling at the urinal, I suppose. A lot of men feel compelled to do that, especially at pubs. “I’m here, I’m doing what I’m doing, and I’m completely at ease.”

*crap dumped everywhere. Holders of ‘platinum membership’ are entitled to a papery white towel whenever they visit. There are bins all over the place to put your wet papery white towels in … but they’re better off hurled on to the floor with your scrunched-up tissues, aren’t they. Perhaps their mums come in later to straighten everything up.

*decaying underwear. This is very widespread. I don’t want to come over all Gok Wan, but a lot of men hang on to their smalls for far too long. If you favour form-fitting, trunk-style underpants, you must replace them immediately once they no longer cling to the thigh. If they flap and sag loosely in the breeze, they are not serving their purpose. They are providing neither containment nor aesthetic appeal - even if they have a person’s name running around the waistband.

If your pants have gone like a skirt, get rid of them and buy some more.

*In the showers today, I caught myself in the middle of a dying-foal sigh.
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(no subject) [May. 11th, 2009|11:41 pm]
Resting Pedant
I used to swim at the public baths, with its completely unisex changing facilities; separate men’s and women’s showers, obviously, but apart from that, just a great prairie of slam-door cubicles. Now I use the pool at the local gym, and the men and women change communally, but in total seclusion from each other. These are some of the things I see men do, when amongst men only:

- use the puny hairdryers to dry all body areas. Under the arms; between the toes; across the hairy chests and backs. One massive regular pulls open the waistband of his briefs, sticks the nozzle of the dryer right in there, and wiggles it around a bit as a sort of finishing flourish.

- preen, epically and unselfconsciously. This really surprised me, and I think I’m quite vain. I get mesmerised watching all the dudes make imperceptible changes to their very short, gelled hairdos before the mirrors. Quite a few arrive, get half undressed, and then just stand there for ages looking gormlessly at their muscles, or their nipples, or whatever, I don’t know.

- make noises in the showers. They’re not communal here; it’s a series of individual cubicles with opaque curtains arranged around the edges of a square room. You walk in and look about for a free shower, and you hear these strange, mournful sounds. People letting go in a tiny semi-private space, I suppose. Deep sighs, little whimpers, low moans. Sometimes it sounds as if you might pull back one of the curtains to see what’s wrong and find a beautiful, dying foal under the shower, instead of a chubby middle-aged man wringing out his swimming trunks.
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(no subject) [Mar. 31st, 2009|11:51 pm]
Resting Pedant

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(no subject) [Jan. 11th, 2009|11:47 pm]
Resting Pedant

I took the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe just before Christmas to spend some time with an old friend. I can’t really express how bleak the port of Newhaven is. But it’s only a few minutes from Brighton, and the voyage means four uninterrupted hours of reading and staring at the sea, which is obviously worth a little sacrifice.

I came back late on a Sunday night. Foot passengers get off the boat first, and then on to a little minibus to be driven a few hundred yards to the terminal building. So I’m sitting on this minibus waiting for it to fill up, and almost the final passenger to climb in is a man hauling an absolutely enormous wheeled case. It’s the biggest size they make – the sort of size you see in a shop window that makes you stop and reflect on what kind of disorganised lush could ever need luggage that big. This unremarkable-looking, polite man in his late forties is having extreme difficulty. He finds this case so hard to move that it takes all his strength to pull it over the tiny ridges running across the floor of the bus. It blocks the aisle completely. All the time, he’s sweating alarmingly and gasping for breath as if he’s about to pass out. As soon as we pull up at the other end, there’s a big faff because two huffy women want to get past him instantly to run for a train that they have absolutely no chance of catching. He does his best to let them through. He sounds Italian.

By the time we disembark and start queueing to show our passports, he's right in front of me, still panting over his four-foot-high case. We smile at each other a bit, as you do, and I half think about commenting on the weight of his luggage or the attitude of the women on the bus, but I don’t. Of course we’re all standing around for ages, and I look away and back a few times, and dimly realise that he’s fiddling with the case. He seems to have undone the zips around the main opening a little. And then my attention wanders as the queue shifts, and I’m getting my passport out, and the next time I look back there’s a woman standing next to this man, maybe teenage or in her early twenties, wearing a sort of white jumpsuit. They’re mumbling to each other quite amiably, and I’m thinking, how strange, I didn’t see her before. Perhaps I even thought, ha ha, wouldn’t it be amazing if she’d just climbed out of the case – but that would obviously be crazy.

Eventually these two are at the head of the queue, and while he shows his papers the girl nonchalantly walks around the corner, out of sight of the rest of us, towards the exit door leading to the wasteland of Newhaven town. The customs arrangements always seem madly laid-back here – I’ve never seen anyone’s luggage checked – but the man behind the desk spots her immediately and motions for someone to stop her. Meanwhile the case man is waved through without a hitch, and once I’ve shown my passport and headed for the exit, I see him as I walk past. He has stopped to ask the girl who she is and where she came from in a sweet, innocent voice, as a customs officer keeps a grip on her forearm.

And then, as I’m walking on towards the car park, I realise that he's right behind me. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something peculiar about this, so I look round to see that he’s now carrying this immensely heavy wheeled suitcase by its little fabric handle, lifting it completely clear of the ground as he goes, matching my pace and then overtaking me and loping off into the night in that Pythonesque way people do, when they’re just barely preventing their maximum-speed walk from shifting into an attention-grabbing, headlong run.

Someone had seen the girl emerging from his suitcase and told the security staff, and they frog-marched him back as I was starting up my car. It’s pretty hard to disappear fast in Newhaven if you don’t have a car.

Every time I tell someone all this I can see them silently marvelling at how stupid I was not to pick up on what was going on. Apparently, if you don’t want to believe that a person has been clumsily smuggled under duress from Dieppe to Newhaven in a wheeled suitcase, and you don’t actually see the moment when they climb out of it, three feet from where you stand, you can convince yourself that it didn’t really happen at all. But why would I want to do that, even unconsciously? And why did she get out of the case before they’d cleared the passport desk, unless she was even keener to escape from the man who was wheeling her than to get into England undetected?
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(no subject) [Dec. 24th, 2008|06:05 pm]
Resting Pedant

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(no subject) [Nov. 18th, 2008|11:02 pm]
Resting Pedant

I bought a big, stout, black umbrella with a spike on top but so far it's been a disappointment. It seemed huge in the shop, and I thought it would measure up very nicely to the puny telescopic things you see around. But now that I have it, there are great big umbrella people abroad everywhere, and I don't feel as special as I had expected. And it's actually quite hard to compare sizes properly - once you're alongside a rival who appeared impressive at a distance, all you can really see is the inside of your own umbrella. Of course, there isn't anywhere venerable in Brighton any more that has an Umbrella Dept., where you could seek the advice of a gentleman who has been in umbrellas for many years, and has some opinions on the subject, and will shoot a few up and down for you from the dozens on display. I had to go to Debenhams.

Stepping about with my new umbrella, I noticed a new convenience store in Preston Street called Thingslicious. A very fine name, if not as utterly post-descriptive as Well Done, the newsagent now open at Castle Square. Also, a new place in Montefiore Road that repairs boots and shoes. It's very conveniently located for me, but I can't leave any footwear at an establishment called Cobbler's Nest. I mean excuse my language, but what the fuck kind of idiotic name is Cobbler's Nest? Was there a bygone age when the most resilient shoe repairs were performed by craftsmen seated high in the branches of a tree? Is that what they're harking back to?
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