Things I’ve Been Thinking About at the End 2007

Published: 23 Dec 2007 
Bikes…
are the answer to so many of our problems. Yet councils do next to nothing for cyclists. If town councils took the same devil-may-care attitude to disabled access as they do to provision for cyclists, they’d probably be dragged bodily into the street and burned.

Housing…
We really haven’t built anything but crap since the end of World War II. 4000 plus years of art, culture and society to look back and learn from, and we still build shit environments for ourselves. We ain’t poor. But we build like we’re poor. Crap towns make crap people. A bold statement but I stick by it.

Gridlock…
I experienced my first ever ‘total gridlock’ today. A proper nose to tail stand still. But I wasn’t on the road, I was in Sainsburys. It was a trolley gridlock, two days before Christmas. I was stuck by the pre-packed bacon, between a crying woman and an exhausted-looking pensioner, for quite a long time. A child was singing Jingle Bells and the checkout queues went all the way to the back of the shop and bent left.

Noel Edmonds…
has been with us a long, long time. Even if you can’t stand the little helicopter-hopping ego-gnome, he’s mesmerisingly watchable. Observe him trying to get a sneaky look at any exposed female flesh on Deal or No Deal. You can almost hear the calculations in his head (…look for 2 seconds then go over-shoulder, as if you were looking at one of the boxes the whole time).

Museums…
Let’s never forget that New Labour made the museums free. To my mind it’s the one unequivocally good thing they did over the last 10 years. Enjoy your museums.

Starbucks…
There are more branches of Starbucks in London than there are in New York. Some countries are able to impose a limit, in order to preserve something of a ‘local feel’. But we don’t. This land is not our land.

Liverpool…
A major part of Liverpool city centre is now privately owned by the Duke of Westminster. It’s being turned into a shopping centre (what else?). A city centre? Privately owned? Shop nicely or get out.

Acting…
Great acting on TV is so common these days you hardly even notice it. I assume British drama schools must have stopped telling students the key to seeming real and natural is to have telegraph pole-posture and to enunciate very forcefully from the diaphragm.

By contrast the occasional bit of bad acting now stands out like a sore thumb. For my money the most piss-poor acting of 2007 was perpetrated by the blinking, gurning Paul Clayton character (a cocky chef and fraudster) in Coronation Street. His face moves about so needlessly whenever the camera is on him, it’s as if his head is a paper bag full of concert violinists.

The woman who plays Chief Inspector Barnaby’s wife in Midsomer Murders was a distant second. 

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