What’s the Weather Like Last Night?

Like many people, I have a little weather app on my phone with which I check the forecast.  But, useful as that is, I often find myself checking the weather right now.  Sure, I can easily look out of the window and see what it’s doing but I like to know exactly what temperature it is and then I can see if it’s ‘really cold’ or if it’s just me thinking it’s cold.  What difference does that make? you may ask.  If I’m cold, I’m cold, right?  Well, I like to check my perceptions against what we are pleased to call reality.  Hence if I’m finding a crossword difficult I look at the comments and see if it’s just me: sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t.  Call me a kook if you will, but I like to know if I ‘have a right’ to shiver; whether my feeling of coldness is justified.  Is it really as cold as I feel? is the question on my mind; and I suspect I’m not the only one.  Of such stuff are daily conversations made.  Mind you, nothing can surpass this one, overheard at a Yorkshire bus-stop:

Passenger 1:  They said it’s going to rain.

Passenger 2:  Ay, they did

Passenger 1:  It’s raining a bit now.

Passenger 2:  Ay, it is

Passenger 1:  ‘Course, this en’t the proper rain.  This is just condensation.

It’s much funnier if you read it in a Yorkshire accent.  And in case you’re not from these parts and don’t know what a Yorkshire accent is like, here’s a taste:



But back to the weather app, because the thing that really disturbs me about it is this: you can’t scroll back.  I expect you can on the computer (I’ll check in a minute) but you can’t on the phone – so if, for example, I want to see whether it was as cold as I thought it was last night, or how deep the frost was at about half-past four – I can’t.  It won’t go back, only forward.  And there’s something in that which deeply disturbs me.  It’s as if the weather app is like something in 1984, not merely editing the past but positively erasing it.  ‘The weather last night?’ it seems to say.  ‘There was no last night.  You merely imagined it.  There is only now – and the forecast for the next few weeks.  That’s all there is.’

My weather app erases the past!

I’ve just checked and you can’t scroll back on the computer either!


While we’re on the theme of temperature I’ve been reading Fahrenheit 451 and being very impressed by Ray Bradbury’s ability to forecast the future.  He’s like a sort of literary Charlie Brooker in that he takes current trends and propels them into the future.  I’ll never forget a short story of his in which everyone had a hand-held communications device and used it to call people at home so they could say, ‘I’m on the bus!  I’ll be home in five minutes.  We’re just coming round the corner…’

Now that’s a forecast.

Kirk out

A Black Peter Badge?

Black Mirror - Fifteen Million Merits.jpg

(image removed on request)

As the whole world knows, there are two types of Blue Peter badge; an ordinary one which you get for sending something into the programme, and a gold one which is awarded rarely for something special – like saving a life.  Such is the Mary Poppins–like image of Blue Peter that it came as a great surprise to me to learn that not only is there a silver Blue Peter Badge but also that Connie Huq – the longest-running presenter of the programme – is the partner of Charlie Brooker, creator of Black Mirror and the sneering anchor of a series of news satire programmes collectively known as ‘Wipes’.  Not only that, but Huq co-authored one of the best Black Mirror episodes, ’15 Million Merits.’  This takes place in a future world where work and its rewards are virtual: those at the bottom of the heap ride exercise bikes which power the TV series that everyone else watches.  It’s the ambition of every biker to get on one of these programmes.  Sound familiar?


I can’t be bothered to review the programme here, especially as OH has done a much better write-up:


And whaddayaknow?  I thought I was just being cute combining Blue Peter with Black Mirror, but there actually is a Black Peter.  In the folklore of the Low Countries he is the companion of Santa Claus:

Knecht Ruprecht - Wikiwand

I had a picture prepared but I strongly suspect it’s a white woman blacked up, so I’m posting this one instead.  I will, however, post a link to today’s radio 4 ‘Point of View’ which is about ways in which we police ourselves:


Kirk out


Ha Bumbug!

I have to say, this year I don’t feel much like revelling.  Not only has my body-clock changed to that of an eighty-year-old, meaning that I tend to wake with the lark and go to bed with a nice cup of cocoa (or in my case, chamomile) around ten – but this year has been frankly abysmal.  I can’t remember a twelvemonth in which more people died (people I grew up with and loved, that is) or in which more political horrors were perpetrated.  The news from Syria was awful to start with and it kept getting worse; terrorists ploughed vehicles into crowds, and after Brexit anyone who didn’t have two brain cells to rub together felt at liberty to abuse any Muslim they happened to come across and tell them to go back where they came from (Bradford, mostly).  And to think that next year what we have to look forward to is the inauguration of Mr T (I pity the fool who votes for me!  I pity the fool!) – well, it makes me want to stick my head under a pillow and keep it there for the whole of 2017.

So is all I can say is, thank god for Charlie Brooker: his ‘2016 Wipe’ did just what it said on the tin, wiping the floor with the entire annus horribilis and ending up with a lovely montage of Mr T sabotaging himself.  Fake news gets the Brooker treatment, as do the wilfully ignorant, in the person of Philomena Cunk and her ‘moments of wonder.’  Brian Cox guests, though that’s not specially a recommendation as he gets on my wick.  However, Coxes notwithstanding, a terrific programme:


Go to minute 50 to watch the subtitled Mr T – a great improvement on the real one.

Kirk out

PS  Happy New Year.  I guess.

I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas

Lately I’ve been watching once more the excellent Channel 4 drama series Black Mirror.  Conceived by Charlie Brooker (he of the Weekly Wipe) it’s a series of dramas set in an unspecified future and dealing with the effects of imagined technological advances on society.  (Warning: spoiler alert coming.)  In one, a woman wakes up to find people outside her house all filming her on their phones.  Someone tries to run her over, then a woman comes along and pretends to be helping her.  It’s not clear why they’re being pursued but the places they go to seem to resonate with her in some way although she can’t recall them.  In the final scene she is tied to a chair and forced to watch a film of herself and her partner killing a child: turns out the scenario she has just been through is her daily punishment.  Every night her memory is wiped and every morning it starts again.

Crime and retributive justice are also the theme of the best episode ever, White Christmas.  I’ve already blogged about this one here and if you haven’t seen it it’s well worth watching.


A third episode is somewhat prescient, telling the story of an abducted princess and a demand for the Prime Minister to have sex with a pig live on youtube before the kidnappers will release her.  In the end they release her early and no-one notices as everyone’s indoors watching the event on youtube.  It turns out to be an ‘art event’: in the end the PM’s popularity (unlike the current one’s) rises to an all-time high but his wife will no longer have sex with him (I’m not sure about Samantha on this one.)

There’s a sort of black theme to things at the moment.  I’m already heartily sick of Black Friday and it’s only been going a couple of years: as if there wasn’t enough rampant consumerism around at Christmas, they have to bring in another grab-fest.  Advent traditionally is supposed to be a period of fasting to prepare for the feast of Christmas but by the time you’ve done the round of office parties, children’s parties and parties for just about every group or society you’re involved in, you can barely face the prospect of Christmas Day itself.

Well, at least I’m managing to stay off Facebook!

Kirk out


Sounding Off

Sound Cafe is GO!  It is a rocket which has launched and is now heading towards the planet AMAZING.  Today we had a feedback and pat-on-the-back time following up from Saturday’s astounding and stuponkous (yes, it’s a word!)* concert.  The feedback session was celebratory and my poem was mentioned in dispatches, which was nice.  I said the audience were so supportive that we felt like family, and lots of people commented that the Sound Cafe choir was not so much on another level from the other choirs, as different from it.  The applause was in no way ‘nice’ or patronising, and considering that we’d only been properly rehearsing for three weeks, it was – well, stuponkous.
There is no other word.
Here is the Radio Leicester report on the event: photos and newspaper reports to follow:
It’s 2 hours 24 mins in.
I have great plans for the poetry there, including a pamphlet and a performance, so watch this space.  Meanwhile, here’s how you can donate to Sound Cafe: phone Helen on 07867963328 to give a one-off donation or, better still, become a friend of Sound Cafe.  We also need volunteers – see Roz’s comment on my post about the concert below:
In other news, Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe is back on TV.  I love Charlie Brooker: his pull-no-punches, acerbic and utterly hilarious reviews of the week’s news are an absolute delight, so catch up with last week’s while it’s still on.
I’m thinking of becoming more like him, and ending these posts by saying: ‘That’s all, so until next time: Go Away!’
That’s all – so until next time…
Go away.

* no, it isn’t but like Humpty-Dumpty I decided it’s a word if I say it is

Gothic, Anglo-Saxon and Black Mirrors

This morning, a propos of nothing, Mark turned to me and said: ‘I’m quite often distracted by the Lord’s Prayer because I’m trying to remember it in Anglo-Saxon.’

‘Anglo-Saxon?’ I echoed, in disbelief.

‘Or Gothic,’ he added thoughtfully.

So – moving on… last night Holly was around and we watched Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’.  If you haven’t seen any of these I highly recommend them: somewhere between thriller, sci-fi and crime drama, these off-centre futuristic TV plays are totally gripping; thought-provoking and disturbing.  They engage the viewer emotionally while delivering a mental punch.  This seasonal special, ‘White Christmas’ featured cloning, imprisoning people within snow-globes and forcing them to listen to Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas’ over and over, time-turning and savage retributary justice.  I won’t spoil it by giving away the crucial plot-point but just watch it.  OK?  Watch it now!


In fact the whole series is on 4 OD, including one I’ve blogged about before:


so go watch them.  Well, when you’ve finished reading this post anyway.

That makes me wonder: what are you doing while you read lizardyoga’s weblog?  Are you drinking a beverage?  Listening to music?  Flipping back and forth to Facebook?  Waiting for the insurance company to answer your call?  I’d really like to know – so drop me a comment.  And if you follow me I will always come over and take a look at your blog too.

It’s such a joy to have Holly home for Xmas.  Well, actually she’s popped off to Doncaster for the weekend, but she’ll be back on Monday, and finally we’ll have someone Normal in the house.  Someone I can chat with about everyday stuff without it turning into a conversation on the Lord’s Prayer in Gothic…

Kirk out


Cannonbells Passion

Apparently they are putting some new bells in the tower of Notre Dame, which sound like the original ones.  These were apparently melted down to make cannon-balls during the Napoleonic wars, and their replacements did not sound at all right.  So that’s good.  I have been to Notre Dame and it’s a very atmospheric place – you can quite understand how Victor Hugo was able to base his Hunchback story there.


But, though Paris may be coming to its senses, the rest of the world has gone crazy: apparently in the States (“of course”, as John Humphrys added) you can visit a professional “snuggler”.  Is it just me or is the word ‘snuggle’ extremely creepy when used of adults?  Not to mention visiting someone and paying for them to cuddle you?  The whole thing seems quite yucky to me.  The ‘professional snuggler’ woman lives on the shore of Lake Ontario in New York state, and has rules about areas her clients can’t touch, but I couldn’t help wondering how that works.  How does she stop people groping her?  Does she have some kind of pimp sitting there on the sofa?  I can’t get my head around it at all.  It’s creepy and weird.

But perhaps not as creepy and weird as paying someone to pretend to be your girlfriend.  This is a Californian (‘of course’) service where you can pay for someone to text you and message you on Facebook.  This seems to me utterly sad: if you want a girlfriend (this does not seem to be available for women, interestingly) you should get out more, or join a dating website or whatever.  This is for people who just want to impress their mates or pretend they’re less lonely than they are.

Words fail me.

But words never fail Charlie Brooker, who would probably make a far better job of criticising these cultural phenomena than I have.  His critiques of TV are venomous, but never undeservedly so: he sticks a dagger into TV and twists it in a way which badly needs doing.  Check this out:


The man is great – rude, uncompromising and utterly necessary.

On a sadder televisual note, I watched the whole of ‘Goodbye to Television Centre’ yesterday.  I felt a lump in my throat more than once at the thought of the scene of so much iconic shared history being sold off (I nearly wrote ‘souled off’, which might be more appropriate) because a bunch of suits have totted up their bloody figures.

It sucks.


Watch it before that, too, disappears.  And here, to play us out, is a nicely spoonerised piece of music (see today’s title)


Kirk out

But it’s ahl uver nye…

Give me a ‘D’!

Give me a yawn!

Give me two fingers down the throat!

Don’t give me a f*ck!

What’s that spell?

Oh, yes – it’s the latest highly speculative, couldn’t-give-a-flying-thingy, non-story about the Duchess of Wherever-it-is who is expecting what will probably become the ayr to the thryne.  She was said to have mentioned the ultrasound scan of her ‘d-‘, thus prompting feverish and, frankly, unbalanced speculation as to whether that ‘D’ could possibly stand for… oh, I can’t be bothered; you can fill in the rest.  And I’m not going to give you a link to the story either – just get a life!

If I sound a little testy this morning – not to mention exhibiting some odd spellings – it’s because I’ve discovered Charlie Brooker.  This man is not merely rude – as, say, someone like Jeremy Paxman is, sneering at undergraduates who can’t instantly reproduce the answer he has in his sweaty little fist – he is intelligently rude.  It’s the kind of rudeness that stems from actually caring about whether stuff is good or not, and weeding out the pretentious and worthless.  Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe is witty, thoughtful and, yes, rude – but not in a gratuitously offensive way, just in an intelligent way.  Go watch:


Having said all that, you may wonder why I am lapsing into some weird spellings this morning.  It’s this: that I really like a Northern Irish accent.  They kind of squeeze and squash their vowels in an unexpected way and it’s just – oh, I don’t know – different.  Our national life has become so bland and boring that whenever anyone genuinely eccentric comes on, they are seized on, packaged, marketed and served up over and over for about five minutes or until everyone gets tired of them.  So about the only way people are allowed not  to be clones nowadays is in retaining their accent.  So let’s treasure Eamon Holmes, Caron Keating (RIP) and anyone else who still has some vestige of individuality.

Without being gratuitously rude, of course.

Kirk out