June 16, 2006

Trains with faces! Whatever next?

Anyone else noticed the BBC's news kids cartoon called Underground Ernie based on the 'lives' of a group of London Underground trains with human faces and personalities?
Trains? With faces?
Hmm. Sounds familiar. Haven't cartoons about talking trains come a long way since the Rev Wilbert Awdry created Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends more than 50 years ago.*
I bet Thomas never had to deal with the grief and horror of disillusioned Jihadist youths packing ammonium nitrate onto Bertie the Bus's back bench and sending the whole lot to Paradise though. Immigration rules, afterall, were probably quite tight on the Island of Sodor - an altogether more pleasant paradise where locals sipped warm beer at the cricket grounds on long Summer evenings.
Awdry, however, was ahead of his time in at least one respect. The Sodor Railway Co had four black engines which is four more than Auntie Beeb's Underground Ernie. Granted, they weren't called Jamal or Tyrone, rather Donald, Douglas, Mavis and Diesel, but their presence puts to shame the broadcaster's professed policy of ensuring ethnic representation across it's range of programming.
So far the only non-Anglo-European characters are Osaka, who has a rising sun on his forehead and goes super-duper fast. Then there's Moscow who, you guessed it, hails from Russia. Presumably he is descended from post-war displaced Jewish trains as he has something strapped to his forehead which can only be described as a Star of David.
Given the conspicuous lack of ethnic minority trains, 16-year-old single-mum trains and right-wing BNP trains, the cast seem only to represent an idealised British middle-class as interpreted by coke-snorting media whores at the Beeb. Having said that, even though none of the trains are openly gay, I have my suspicions about Hammersmith and City.
I could wax lyrical for days about how socially representative (or not) the show really is but many important aspects, like attention to detail, are dazzling. The main characters, for example, are all filthy and covered in graffiti. Honestly. Just like Ken Livingsone's tube trains and ours, here in Glasgow.
Anyway, to save you the hassle and pain of actually watching the programme, I'll describe the cast for you.**
Here goes (the first three are the underground's human staff):
  • Ernie - Underground Supervisor. Used to be a policeman but got kicked off the force for downloading kiddie-porn on a work computer.
  • Millie - IT Expert. Pretty - in a Jessica Rabbit kind of way. Blatant attempt to spark little girls' interest in scientific subjects at school. More likely to spark little boys' interests under the duvet.
  • Mr Rails - Janitor. Village idiot. Only allowed to hang around because noone has the heart to tell him to fuck off.
  • Bakerloo - (pictured left) Flat-cap wearing Northern train who must have come down to London to find work after Thatcher crushed the miners.
  • Circle - Annoying middle-class college drop-out. Outwardly chirpy but probably quite depressed when home alone. One suspects she owns a cat.
  • Hammersmith and City - Both immaculate with trendy specs and fancy hair-dos. One in ten. You decide.
  • Jubilee - (pictured right) Broad grin and dilated pupils are clear indication of heavy recreational drug use.
  • Victoria - (pictured centre) Matriarchal figure now confined to a local authority old trains home. Was forced to sell the council siding she bought off Margaret Thatcher in the 80's to pay for her own care.
  • Brooklyn - Annoying American exchange train. Probably fancies Circle. Won't carry Arabs so it's just as well that in Ernie's London, there are none. "Hell, freedom ain't free folks."
  • Paris - Cheese-eating surrender monkey train. Nuff said.
  • Sydney - Blond Australian backpacker train. Claims to go 'non-stop to the beach'. Other trains wish she would shut the fuck up and go 'non-stop back to Australia', preferrably via Iraq.

June 15, 2006

My New Habit - Part Deux

Anyone who read the entry (My New Habit - Part I), where I stole a duffle coat from a nightclub, will be delighted to read that I found a suitable junkie to give it to ala Robin Hood.
Oddly, the lucky recipient, sporting a wet t-shirt and missing a shoe, made no move to thank your hero despite me specifically asking him if he wanted a coat then going all the way up one flight of steps to my centrally-heated IKEA showroom to fetch it for him. I trust his cardboard box is now comfortably furnished with a duffle coat because he certainly wasn't wearing it the last time I saw him. The cheek. Last time any drifter gets goodwill on my doorstep. Guilty conscience allayed? That'll be the Daewoo.
The word 'habit' is intended to refer to the garment. You know, a monk's cloak. I've just noticed, however, that due to the accompanying picture it could also be misinterpreted as a reference to injecting heroin. It's really a reference to the poor guy I gave my 'habit' to but I'm going to leave it up there unchanged anyway, kind of like a cyber-pun.

Mr Honky Tonk lives...HIP HIP HOORAY!

Months are funny things. They seem to fly right by before you've had a chance to put your pants on and fetch your gun. Some seem to take longer than others. August, for example, should take a leaf out of January's book and hang around a few weeks longer then perhaps January could fuck off to Eastern Russia where I hear they like it cold and boring (the weather, not coitus [although who am I to say]).
Alternatively I could always head back to the Southern Hemisphere where they have quite the opposite problem.
Which reminds me, (and allows me to go off on a wild tangent and ain't wild 'uns the best 'uns?), has anyone heard of the Aymara Amerindian tribesmen from Northern Chile's Andean Mountains? Nope? Didn't think so. Neither had I until I clapped eyes on this gem at www.guardian.co.uk (not that I read the Guardian for I am no yellow-belly):
"Time, as Einstein showed, is a tricky concept to nail down, and all languages resort to metaphor to express it. In fact, with staggering monotony, they all resort to the same metaphor: space."
What he means is that we think of ourselves as being close to (or far from) any given point in time. Your birthday, for example, is behind you even though it can't be. If you turn round, I promise you it won't be there. In fact, birthdays only exist in our heads and they don't even exist at all in my head (Sorry Dad. I've set the alarm for next year). Confused? Pity the poor Aymarans then, who presumably get younger the older they get.
"Rafael Núñez, however, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, San Diego, who is interested in how we develop abstract ideas like time, now believes that he has definitive evidence that the Aymara have a sense of the passage of time that is the mirror image of his own: the past is in front of them, the future behind."*
I could bang on at length about the mind-fucking implication's of Nunez's research or just leave it with you, which is what I'm going to do because the whole thing is, as previously stated, a wild tangent.
All this babble about time comes not from my blisteringly-hot talent for wasting it, but because I started writing about the concept of 'month'. The term 'month' is significant for two reasons:
  • I) A 'month' is about how long it's been since I last updated this blog. Shameful, I know.
  • II) A 'month' is almost exactly how long it's been since our persistent friend Mr Honky Tonk phoned me in my capacity as a serf in the complaints department of a well-known broadcaster.
It is with jubilation and relief, therefore, that I am hereby able to update you with his latest mad rant:
"Hello. How can I help?"
"Hello, is that the regions?"
"Yes, yes, this is the regions! Is that you Mr Honky Tonk? How are you? I thought something had happened."
"Well, I've been in hospital for a bit but never mind that. Are you Irish?"
"No, I'm Scottish, as you well know."
"Well, you never can tell with those Irish. Don't trust 'em one bit . The Scots though, they're a different story. All that whisky and porridge. You like whisky and porridge don't you? Or are you Irish."
"I've dabbled."
"AHA! But do you like whisky-porridge or even...porridge-whisky?"
"Sure. I like 'em both."
"Thought so. Bloody Scots. Anyway. Down to business. This fellow who got bitten by a snake. I take it you've heard."
"Umm. I'm not sure if I have."
"Of course you have. The one in the city. You know."
"Which city?"
"Bristol you nicompoop! What other city could I be talking about? Glasgow? HAHA HAHA!"
"Of course, of course. The reptile keeper who got bitten by his own Cobra and nearly died."
"That's the very one. I noticed the keeper had a special instrument to hold the reptile down and I want you to tell the regions that I too have a beautiful thing with a trigger in my house."
"What? God man! You can't be serious. Look I've only ever joked about guns."
"Yes. It has a trigger and little jaws so I can pick up my keys if I drop them. Nothing bigger though. It wouldn't work if I dropped, say, a dog or something like that. A cat maybe. You have to be discreet about these things though. At least I do, coming from a medical family and all that. Now you pass that on to Fatso and Big Ears [Charles Clarke and Tony Blair].
Toodle-pip. Honk Honk."
Line goes dead.