Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Name's Bond

Recently I've started watching the James Bond series of films. I've never seen most of them before, which might surprise you, but I don't go to the cinema, since I prefer to watch films in the comfort of my own home, and I only buy DVDs when they're cheap, which means that I sometimes have to wait a while. A few weeks ago I found a box set of all 22 Bond films for £50, reduced from around £200. You can't go wrong at under £2.50 a film, right?

So far, I'm up to 1965 and Thunderball. The evil SPECTRE folks have stolen a NATO aeroplane carrying a couple of nuclear bombs. Luckily for our heroes at British and American Intelligence, they've decided to hide them at an idyllic island in the Bahamas. If they'd chosen somewhere without bikini clad secret agents and a plentiful source of Martinis, 007 would never have found them and Miami would have been nuked. And the world would have been spared from David Caruso's sunglass juggling act.

You don't have to get very far into one of these films to realise that plausibility wasn't given the highest priority by the moviemakers, but even so, I was disturbed by the ending of Thunderball. If you haven't seen the film, you might not want to read any further, as I'm about to reveal the ending.



I mean it. I'm going to tell you what happens at the end.


You would never guess...


...Bond finds the bombs and saves the world.

Anyway, at the end of the film, some random guy appears, tells the Bond girl (Domino - isn't that a bit masculine, or is it some kind of double entendre?) that he's disabled the bomb, and unties her (saving her from the evil baddie's cigar and ice torture routine). Just before the boat that they and 007 are travelling on crashes and blows up, Bond, Domino and Random Guy abandon ship. Random Guy complains that he can't swim, but our ever resourceful hero finds time to hand him a life belt, and come out with a hilarious one-liner as the boat speeds to the crash site.

After the explosion, Bond and Domino get into an inflatable dingy and are rescued. But what happened to Random Guy? The one who disabled the bomb and saved David Caruso? Did he not manage to get far enough away from the boat? This seems unlikely since it was travelling so fast that you'd have thought they sped the film footage up or something. Or is he still bobbing around with his lifebelt in the middle of the ocean?
Three would be a crowd

The person who comes up with the best explanation gets a holiday* to the Bahamas.

*Terms and Conditions

Judge's descision is final. No correspondence will be entered into unless bribes are involved.

Bribe must be provided in full before the judge is prepared to consider any change in winner

Winner must be prepared to participate in publicity for this blog, which may include being photographed with a stupid grin, being prepared to have details of their favourite M&M colour published, and being otherwise publicly embarrassed.

Winner must supply their own holiday

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Not Giving up the Day Job

Today, Helena and I went on our annual trip to the wildlife park. This is always an opportunity to get some great pictures of the wild, wacky, weird and wondrous world of animals. And we always fail to do so, one way or another. Last year, it rained and I didn't exactly distinguish myself with my impressive photography.

Helena now has a camera as well, so with two of us snapping away nothing could go wrong, right?

The first thing you need to remember, is to remember the cameras. David Bailey didn't get where he was by turning up to Vogue cover shoots without his equipment. On the other hand, they were lacking one vital piece of technology back in his heyday - the mobile phone.

Luckily for you, neither of us forgot our phones, which means that you have some pictures to look at. You have to squint a bit and use your imagination, but they could be worse. All the pictures that appear here were Helena's with the exception of the last one. This is probably because she took over 70 photos, many of which didn't come out well, compared to my carefully composed 9. She's got the better technique. It's like the Vogue cover photographers who take hundreds of pictures, and chuck all but one of them away.

Every time we go to the wildlife park, I'm always struck by the incongruity of seeing camels wandering around Oxfordshire. Not only should there be sand and pyramids instead of grass and trees, but I love the irony of keeping animals specifically designed to go for weeks without water in Britain.

We got lucky with the lions. Usually they're roaming around their very well isolated peice of land, but of course their coats that are intended to camouflage them from their future lunch, which makes them hard to spot. Today, however, instead of lean mean killing machines prowling through the undergrowth, there was a guy with a strimmer. I bet he's very good. I'd be very consciencious if I were him. Because if he did a shoddy job they wouldn't have to worry about filling in lots of paperwork and bureaucracy to fire him, they could just "accidentally" leave one of the doors of the lion house open.

If you look through most of the lion house's windows, you can see cage bars about 4 feet away, with the animals behind those, but there is one window that looks directly in. On the other side, with it's face pressed against the glass was a lioness.

Now I'm sure that the glass is really thick and safe and all that, but I personally didn't feel comfortable inches away from the large cat. Helena on the other hand was happily snapping away. Sadly, the glare on the glass ruined those particular pictures.

There were a couple of new exhibits this year. When you see drawings or models of giraffes, they always look wrong, as if the artist of sculptor wasn't very good. When you see the things in the flesh, you realise that the orignals look wrong too.

The other new thing was the Madagascar exhibition, where you get to walk in amongst the lemurs.

And no trip to the park would be complete without a visit to the penguins.

There were loads of other wonders - scary snakes and spiders, rhinos, monkeys, exotic birds and creepy crocodiles, but sadly not all of the pictures came out very well, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Still, there's always next year.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Been There, Done That? Or Just Got the T Shirt?

I had to go to the supermarket this afternoon. I was down to my last lemon, and one lemon doesn't last 5 minutes in my flat. Since I've started substituting lemon juice for alcohol, I'm getting through far more of the former than I ever did of the latter. There are no limits to how much citric acid you can have in your blood and still be legally allowed to drive. And unlike vodka, no-one ends up being carted off to a drying-out clinic because they drink it all day. Healthy people even drink fruit juice with their breakfast.

In addition to fruit, the supermarket sells a wealth of other things. In the past, I've bought an all-singing-all-dancing-printer-scanner, a digibox (for the TV), and a salt grinder. Oddly, they don't sell lemon squeezers, though.

I also get most of my clothes from there, which saves me having to go into scary clothes shops. Recently, they've been selling T shirts with "retro" designs on them. At first, I assumed that they were just made-up logos. However, now they've got some old film designs, such as for Star Wars and Back to the Future, which I seem to remember from years ago. Of course, the ones talking about specific events might still be made up.

I used to be wary of wearing anything with a message or a design. After all, people who do are generally expressing themselves in some way or other. I have an Ubuntu T shirt that I wear to work, but I always wonder about people who wear things with oriental writing on them, as I'm sure that they say something insulting about the wearer, or suggest that he's into some kind of bizarre fetish. I suppose you're all right if you don't walk around in South Asia wearing it.

Now, though, I've decided that it's fun to wear things that you don't know anything about. I have a "World Frisbee Championship" T-shirt. Someone even started talking to me about frisbees in the coffee queue at work. I had to admit that I know considerably less about frisbees than Ubuntu. And just look at my latest acquisition:

Isn't it great? The only problem with it is the date, since I look far too young to have attended this particular gig, rave, concert or whatever it was. I can't help wondering about people who did attend, bought the T shirt, and who have lovingly looked after it for 40 years, only wearing it to very special 70's nights. They'll be gutted if they go to the next one and there are ten other people wearing them who picked them up for 6 quid at Sainsbury's.

Still, it makes a nice addition to my collection, which includes among other non-me things, a "NORTH DAKOTA PARK RANGER" shirt. Far better to have the T shirt, without having had to have been there.