Monday, 22 December 2008
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
...and as he stands on the brink of becoming the most powerful man in the world, I still occasionally have to do a little mental check as to whether 'Obama' is the president elect's first name or his surname?
Monday, 8 December 2008
I love Wikipedia, but sometimes it can be such an idiot. This is from the entry on Tom and Jerry:
Friday, 5 December 2008
Posted by John Finnemore at 1:51 pm
Thursday, 4 December 2008
The other day, I was on the tube. It was busy, but not crowded - all the seats taken, one or two standees. I was seated. The tube stopped, and a middle-aged woman got on, and stood near me. And at once, I was thrown into my own private episode of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'. You see, I quite like giving my seat up for people. It's easy, it's courteous, and it makes you feel at once youthful and self-righteous, which is an excellent combination, just ask Joan of Arc. I wish we still had the rule that a man automatically gives up his seat for a lady. But we don't, and so just as I was about to get up, it occurred to me that this woman might not be pleased if I did. She was quite overweight, so it was hard to judge her age- she could have been anywhere between 40 and 55. And if she was only 40, it might be really depressing - 'Oh God, I look so old someone actually offered me their seat on the tube!'. Or worse, what if she thought I was offering her it because she was so overweight? So I stayed sat down (and so did everyone else in the carriage, to be fair), but felt bad about it. Then, at the next stop, salvation. Another woman got on, who was definitely over sixty. Brilliant. I could prove to the first woman that I was the sort of person who gave up my seat to ladies of a certain age, but that her obvious youth and beauty meant she didn't qualify. I sprang to my feet with olde world charm, and the second lady, thanking me prettily, sat down.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
An anonymous benefactor has pointed me in the direction of the Cervix Savvy website, which rather astonishingly manages not to have a single picture of a woman anywhere on it. Plenty more pictures of unusually cervically-savvy young men, though. My favourite is this chap in a cardy, pictured here in the act of giving the top excuse for not having a smear test. And, to be fair, it's an exceptionally good one.
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Don't get me wrong, I'm as feminist as the next man, or woman because it could be either, actually.
Even so, I don't completely understand this advert:
However gender-blind we would like our government-funded organisations to be, can it really be a good use of NHS funds for this man to have a cervical screening? Because even with no medical training, I reckon I can accurately predict the result of that screening. I think it will be negative. On both counts. No cancer, of the no cervix.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Monday, 24 November 2008
- I love London!
- Jenny loves Sandy loves Grace
- We are the world champions of the world Italy
- Sacred Turtles rock
- Tibet is, was, and will always be part of CHINA
- Salut les Anglais!
- I feel I am a God.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Rocking chair, leather jacket, oven gloves, swimming trunks, silk tie, kitchen roll, poker chips, cat toy, mugs.
Thursday, 6 November 2008
It's four o'clock on the 6th November. Someone has just let off some fireworks nearby. It's the day after bonfire night. But it's not the Friday or Saturday after bonfire night; it's a Thursday. And it's not yet dark.
I can imagine getting over-excited on the 5th, and letting them off at four o'clock because you can't wait a moment longer. You'd have to be six years old, or a moron, but still, I can imagine it.
I can also imagine being busy on the 5th and yet being so keen on fireworks you postpone your display to the next day; or finding an extra box you forgot about yesterday, or getting some half price on the 6th because the shops are trying to get rid of them.
What I can't imagine is the combination. Postponing your Guy Fawkes night celebration until the day after... and then getting so overtaken by the sheer excitement of the occasion that you let them off in broad daylight. 'Four o'clock is late enough! We can imagine the pretty lights - they're the most boring part of a firework anyway. What's important is that we honour the historic occasion of it being 403 years and one day since a failed political assassination by making the noise 'bang', and that we do it NOW. There's not a moment to lose!'
All of this ire, incidentally, is provoked by the sight of the scardier of my two cats (who was visible for most of yesterday evening only as a cowardly furry arse poking out from behind the cupboard he had decided was the flat's closest approximation to a nuclear bunker), haring back to the house in the manner of a Trafalgar Square reveller on VE day who's just seen a Messerschmidt.
Monday, 13 October 2008
In the window of a kitchen and bathroom shop:
'Not just a basin... a vase for your hands'
Oh, piss off!
Why stop there? 'Not just a draining board... a trophy cabinet for your washing up.' 'Not just a bidet... a showcase for your arse.'
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
On a biscuit packet: 'Have you tried... The Dunk?', with a picture of the biscuit being dunked in a cup of coffee.
Well, no, since you ask, I haven't. I haven't 'tried' 'The Dunk', as if The Dunk is the cool new craze that's sweeping the nation's hippest and sexiest young biscuit eaters. What I have done, in my time, is dunk a biscuit in a hot drink. And in fact, though modesty should prevent me from saying so, so precocious was I that I did it without even the aid of a diagram.
(PS. For extra irritation points, in the diagram the hot drink is clearly labelled as being the brand of coffee made by the makers of the biscuit. Because obviously if hot drink and biscuit are incompatible, The Dunk can go horribly wrong. People have lost an eye.)
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
A billboard for one of those firms that are sort of to do with money, but not a bank: a hedge fund tracking facility or a financial extrapolation service platform provider, or whatever the hell. Slogan ‘Challenging times mean a great deal to us’. Ok. Good. I imagine they do. Not sure why that means I should give them my money to look after (if indeed that is what they want from me; I have no idea) but maybe they can persuade me with some telling imagery. So, what picture have they opted for to drive home their message of challenging-time-meaningfulness-capacity?Ah. A zebra looking over its shoulder.
I mean, what? Is this some obscure extension of the already quite weird financial/animal symbolism system I’ve not come across? ‘Bull = boom; bear = bust; retrograde zebra = vague expression of foreboding’? Or is the zebra supposed to be clocking his own challenging times approaching from behind, and about to mean a great deal to him – an enormous lion in full pursuit, for instance? In which case, he seems a bit fatalistic about the whole thing . He’s certainly not making any effort to run away. So the company is representing itself as akin to a soon-to-be-devoured ungulate with a death wish. And frankly that doesn’t inspire me to tie my basket of tracker bonds to their base rate. Or whatever it is they want me to do.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Today, I had to order a suit; but because I am me, I've left it a bit late, so I needed to find somewhere that could have it ready in five weeks. I explained this to the man on the phone, and he hesitated, but said it might be possible. Then he said: 'Could I ask the nature of the event?' I couldn't quite understand what difference that would make. Was he checking to see it was worth his bother? 'The Duke of Devonshire's Hunt Ball? Why, of course Sir! The wedding of some non-entity you went to college with? ...One rather thinks not' Still, he'd asked, and he was a Man On The Phone, so I told him. 'Well, I've got a dinner on the tenth, and then a wedding the following day.'
To which his reply, word for word, was this: 'Oh! Quite the social butterfly!'
What? I mean, what? Am I wrong in thinking that a man has just taken the piss out of me for answering his own inappropriate question? And what's funny about the answer I gave anyway? That I said two events instead of just one? That was the answer! That's why I wanted the suit by then! Did he think I was trying to impress him? 'Oh yes, I go to dinners and weddings, donchaknow! Sometimes in the same week!' And even if that is what he thought, how is it ok to take the piss out of me for it? And with the phrase 'Quite the social butterfly'?! I mean, did I accidentally phone a tailor out of The Simpsons?
I'm still buying the suit from them. They were cheapest.
Posted by John Finnemore at 10:03 pm
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Banner seen on the wall of a school:
'Arriving at school at 9:05 means you are ten minutes late. That's fifty minutes a week, or over three hours a month, or over thirty hours in a school year. Believe it or not, that is a week out of school!'
Now, I'm no child psychologist, but I was, for several years early in my career, a child; and I strongly suspect that the lesson that banner is supposed to convey, and the lesson any right-thinking child is actually taking away from it, are two very different things...
Posted by John Finnemore at 7:40 pm
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
Standing calf raises, 5 sets of 20 reps.
Incline sit-ups - train heavy, but not to failure.
Dead lifts - 4 sets of 10 reps
Cardio, plus maybe some work on abs and triceps.
35 widths of River Jordan.
Minister to sick
Dead lifts - 5 sets of 5 reps.
Hack squats - 5 sets of 15 reps - get Peter to spot me?
Half marathon to Tarsus.
Upper chest work.
Power-walk to mount. Give sermon.
Posted by John Finnemore at 2:35 pm
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Two urgent questions.
Monday, 18 August 2008
Now, before anyone starts, I know that what I'm about to say is purely a reflection of the English language, not the French; that it only strikes me this way because we chose to use the words we ripped off from Germanic languages for everyday, and the words we ripped off from Romance languages for Sunday best. I know that. But it doesn't stop me enjoying the fact that the French are never just sorry, but desolated; that things don't just bother them, they derange them; that while English speakers are merely advised in fire warnings to keep calm, the French are told to guard their sang-froid; and, my favourite new one from this trip, that they are not asked in a note on a restaurant menu to order their pudding at the start of their meal, but to demand their dessert at the debut of their repast.
Thursday, 31 July 2008
- Oh no, no. No.
- God, no.
- You bastard!
- Piss off
- I don't believe you. (To a hill that was pretending it was just a long gentle slope down now.)
- What in ****ing **** is the point of you? (To three hills, all visible at once, which left a road at the same height at which it began)
- Oh, yes, you're flat now. (To a hill that stopped being a hill at the point where I turned off it)
- Just stop it.
Posted by John Finnemore at 12:24 am
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Sign outside a church in Chatham. 'Jesus is closer than you think'.
They were aiming, I suppose, for 'Thought-Provoking', but they seriously overshot and landed bang in the middle of 'Scary'.
Monday, 14 July 2008
Woman on the radio: 'About one in five people with anorexia will ultimately die'.
I am agog to know what will happen to the other four.
Sign on hoarding outside building work on Oxford Street: 'Another exciting branch of HSBC opens here soon.'
I can hardly wait. What do you think the exciting part will be? Log flumes to the cheque cashing machines? Randomised hole in the wall that gives you anything from a penny to a million pounds? Bears as cashiers?
Sunday, 22 June 2008
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
Sorry about the lull. There is a time when having other writing that one really ought to be working on actually means one does things like this a lot more, as displacement. Then there comes a time then having other writing that one REALLY, REALLY ought to be working on means that one does things like this a lot less, as panic sets in. Other things one does less: Emails. Phone calls. Seeing people. Refraining from screaming at the cats.
However, I just had to say something about this week's Apprentice. Because I happen to know someone behind the scenes on the production team, and I can tell you, sparks really flew at Sir Alan's latest maverick decision. 'You've done what?!?' shrieked the producer, unable to believe the no-nonsense millionnaire's sheer chutzpah. 'You've put four of them through to the final!?! But Sir Alan, how could you? You know how hard I and the whole team here have been working on setting up a really exciting final task for two finalists- we've spent tens of thousands of pounds on making it the best one ever! And now, just because of your unpredictable on-the-fly decision, we're going to have to ditch it all, and start from scratch on a whole new idea that will work well for four finalists!' 'I'm sorry' growled the incorrigible tycoon 'But you know me - when I have a crazy loose cannon notion, I act on it. That's just the way I roll.' 'Oh well' sighed the long-suffering TV honcho 'You may as well sink those two paddle-steamers, Lyndsay. They're no use to us now. And hey, everybody - start thinking of something four people can compete at. Maybe... Ludo. And as for you, Sir Alan- just try to keep your iconoclastic behaviour to a mimimum next time!' 'I'll try...' grinned the rule-breaking entrepeneur 'but I can't promise anything!' 'Oh, you!' exclaimed the producer 'I can't stay mad at you for long!' And with that, he grabbed the surprising businessman by the fuzzy chops, and planted a big kiss right on his crinkled forehead!
That's what happened. True story.
Posted by John Finnemore at 2:38 am
Thursday, 22 May 2008
There is a bench near where I live which now bears the following inscription, half in black leading, half in blue felt tip. See if you can guess where the break occurs.
'In memory of John Randall-Gieves 1921 - 1995 - 2008 Frank Lampard's Mum.'
Despite the slightly unsettling Dr Who style regeneration picture it conjures up of the curious events of 1995, I find this oddly touching. I like the idea of these two people, Mr Randall-Gieves and Mrs Lampard, who are very unlikely ever to have met, finding themselves roughly yoked together by two other people's desire to commemorate them. After all, that's what you do with park benches - you share them with strangers.
Posted by John Finnemore at 2:07 am
Saturday, 10 May 2008
You know that little box on the BBC news website with the top five most popular stories at any given time? Well, at the moment the most emailed story is a report on how one British bird species is actually thriving under climate change, under the headline 'Great tits cope well with warming'. How encouraging to see that people are at last giving ecologicial stories the attention they deserve...
Posted by John Finnemore at 6:56 pm
Sunday, 4 May 2008
My friend Ed has just announced to the world, or that part of the world which is on F*c*b**k, (Gosh, that looks unexpectedly rude when you asterisk out the vowels) that he has seen 'more otters than you can possibly imagine'. Naturally, I scooted over to his page to leave a message with the funny joke that he shouldn't be too sure of himself, because I can imagine ten otters... only to find not one but two people had already got there. Well, I suppose it's quite an obvious joke. Plus my friend Ed knows a lot of comedians, both in the literal sense and the sense beloved of sarcastic policemen. However, I would like to point out that my two rivals used the numbers six and nine as the number of otters they could possibly imagine, both of which I think are slightly less funny than ten otters. Because it's a round number, and so sounds like a number I've genuinely reached by testing, not just one I picked for a joke, whilst still being hilariously low. But I didn't reach it by testing, of course. I just picked it for a joke. And that brings me to my sermon for today.
How many otters can you possibly imagine? Because if I say I can imagine a million otters, I'm obviously lying. I can't really even imagine a million pounds. I know what it could buy, but I can't imagine an actual million actual pound coins. Still less otters. They're famously harder to imagine than coins. Now, a thousand pound coins I think I can imagine. I can certainly imagine a thousand page book. But I don't think I can imagine a thousand otters. But then, what are my criteria here? To qualify as being imagined, do I have to be able to imagine each individual ottery face, and be able to distinguish in my imagination young Tasmania the Otter from Old Uncle Winchelsea the Otter? (I'm assuming here that otters use broadly the same naming system as Wombles.) No, I don't think so. I think I just have to be able to imagine what that mass of otters would look like, how much space they would take up, and how cross they'd be about it. I can imagine eight otters around my dining table, for instance, but I can't really imagine a thousand otters. My guess is that that's about a double decker bus full, but I can't imagine whether that's a tightly packed RSPCA nightmare of a bus, or whether the otters are lounging in relative comfort. (Remember they can sit under the seats as well as on them. And in the aisles).
Now, the ADC Theatre in Cambridge seats about 220, and I reckon I can imagine that full of otters. (An otter on every seat, that is. They only sit under them on buses. I mean, come on, they have to be able to see the stage). This is good - let's ramp it up. The Garrick theatre in London has a capacity, so Google tells me, of 656... but with regret I must admit I can't really imagine that full of otters. I mean, I can... but if I'm honest with myself, I'm just imagining the theatre, filling the stalls with otters, and then mentally clone brushing those same otters into the dress circle and upper circle. I'm not even certain I'm imagining the otters at the back of the stalls. I'm just imagining 'a theatre full of otters'. And now, confidence crumbling, I'm beginning to doubt my feat of imagination with the ADC. Did I really imagine 220 otters? Even the ones at the back, and the sides? Or am I just imagining 220 seats, and then tacking the word 'otters' over the word 'seats'? Hell, can I even imagine one otter? Let me check. Right, I've checked, I definitely can imagine one otter. He's called Barney, he's slightly over medium size, and he has a white mark on his muzzle where a larger otter named Velasquez snatched a trout from his mouth. From this we can draw two further conclusions: 1) I can imagine two otters. 2) The Womble naming system is not invariable amongst otters.
So. I'm confident I can imagine those two otters and their struggle to come to terms with that terrible summer's day when Barney's trust in Velasquez was forever shattered; but shifty about those 220 otters enjoying a patchy but basically competent student production of The Duchess of Malfi. So, maybe the thing to do is avoid any helpful framing device like a theatre or a bus or a netball team, and just imagine an increasing number of otters in a blank white void. No, that's too depressing. I'm just imagined Barney there alone, and it's breaking my heart. I'll imagine them in my garden. Ok. One otter. Check. Two otters. Will Barney ever forgive him? Three otters. Easy. Four otters. Piece of cake. Five otters. Yep. Six, seven, eight - yes. Nine, ten, eleven. I think so, yes. Twelve otters... ... ... ... ... no. I can't imagine twelve otters. Not really. When it comes right down to it, I'm just imagining six otters twice. And if I don't break it down into sub-groups like that, it's basically no different from my image of eleven otters. Come to that, I'm not sure my eleven otters were that different from my ten. What about my ten from my nine? No, there is a difference there. That's interesting. Because that seems to suggest that the number of otters I can possibly imagine... is ten. Ladies and gentlemen, it was funny because it was true.
I think Ed probably did see more than ten otters. I shan't bother leaving a message.
Friday, 2 May 2008
'John Finnemore, Apparently', my pilot radio sketch show, will be going out on Radio Four at 11pm this coming Monday, May 5th, and will be available on 'Listen Again' for a week afterwards. Hope you like it.
Also, free tickets are now available on the BBC website ( http://shows.external.bbc.co.uk/) for the recordings of what they are pleased to describe as 'a new brilliant new sitcom'. So, both brilliant and new, then, but twice as new as it's brilliant... It's called Cabin Pressure, it's about the pilots of a tiny charter airline, and very excitingly it stars Benedict Cumberbatch, from A Life Backwards, Hawking, and Atonement; Roger Allam, from The Thick of It, The Queen, and A Cock and Bull Story; and Stephanie Cole, from A Bit of a Do, Housewife 49 and Talking Heads. And me, from here. The recordings are all in June - do come if you'd like to. (The tickets for the sketch show recording went surprisingly fast, so you may want to get in quick.)
Plug over, normal service will be resumed shortly.
Monday, 28 April 2008
- Three Men in a Boa.
- How to be Goo.
- Of Mice and Me.
- Catch 2.
- Winnie the Poo.
- A Brief History of Tim.
Posted by John Finnemore at 5:17 pm
Friday, 11 April 2008
- Ooh. That sounds somehow intriguing. I wonder what it means.
- Ah. It turns out it means 'Turn yourself 3D by making a character that looks and dresses like you. It's fun and free.' That no longer sounds intriguing, because I am not a nine year old girl. Besides, if I wanted to make a character that looks and dresses like me, I would simply have a child.
- Hang on though. Surely if you make a character that's rendered on a flat computer screen, that's turning yourself 2D?
- Hang on more... I'm already 3D! I don't need to make myself 3D - three is precisely the number of dimensions in which I currently exist!
- I don't think it should have taken me four steps to realise that.
- Oh look. A pigeon.
Thursday, 10 April 2008
Strapline of the April 2002 issue of the Fish Friers’ Review: ‘Win yourself some chips’. Now that’s what I call knowing your readership.
Posted by John Finnemore at 1:12 pm
Friday, 28 March 2008
- Don’t you worry about a thing
- There is one question I’d really love to ask
- Stand up for your rights!
- I hope this jam is going to last...
Posted by John Finnemore at 1:41 pm
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
You know how sometimes you see a sign that suddenly inspires you to write a whole series of adventure books for children? Oh, don’t you? Well, to be fair, neither did I until ten minutes ago. But as I looked at that sign; like JK Rowling on that train journey, or Joe Craig after his usual pre-book pint of margaritas, inspiration struck; and my heroine leapt fully-formed into existence – the impetuous Irish-Italian girl detective, and the dare-devil adventures that lead her mother to exclaim the title of, let us say, the fourth book in the series: ‘Please Take Care, Piazza Slippery!’
Posted by John Finnemore at 3:35 pm
Friday, 7 March 2008
Sign at till at the British Library cafe:
"Due to a new credit card terminal installation, we are not able to process any payment by cards."
Right. Frankly, I'd have been tempted to stick with the old terminal.
Saturday, 23 February 2008
What they say on the Northern Rock website in reply to the following Frequently Asked Question: (Thanks Marianne)
Can I still withdraw money from my account?
The Bank of England and HM Treasury has made it clear that all existing and new deposits in Northern Rock are covered by these guarantee arrangements and are safe and secure. Customers need not fear for their deposits. Northern Rock continues business as usual. Savers can, should they wish to, withdraw money in the usual way. But there is no need to do so, since all savings are safeguarded by the Government. If you still wish to make a withdrawal, you may do so in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of your account.
What they would like to say:
Can I still withdraw money from my account?
Why do you ask?
Can I still withdraw money from my account?
Doesn't matter whether you can or not. You don't need to.
Can I still withdraw money from my account?
Why? I've just told you, your money's fine. Leave it where it is.
Can I still withdraw money from my account?
I'm not telling you.
Can I still withdraw money from my account?
Oh, for heaven's sake stop whinging on about your bloody money! There's more important things in the world, you know! Things that money can't buy! The tranluscence of a butterfly's wing! The laughter of a child paddling in a brook! It's not all about your stupid squalid little pot of cash, which is, in any case, perfectly safe!
Can I still withdraw money from my account?
Posted by John Finnemore at 6:13 pm
Thursday, 31 January 2008
I was getting myself some car insurance the other day, and had to select my job from a drop down menu. Only they didn't have 'writer'. Fair enough, I thought, I suppose it's a relatively niche profession, I can understand them leaving it out. Except that here are just a few of the jobs they were absolutely fine with.
Clay Pigeon Instructor
Posted by John Finnemore at 11:38 pm
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
You remember how I paranoidly take out books to have on my desk at the British Library, so it looks like I have a right to be there; but cannily choose ones that look really dull so I won't be distracted into reading them? No? Well I do.
Such as the excellent 'Early United States Barbed Wire Patents', by Jesse S James. Presumably he added the 'S' to avoid being confused with notorious outlaw and train robber Jesse James. Though I can't help thinking he did this job far more efficiently just by writing a book about barbed wire patents. Here is the first sentence:
'I started to realize the dire need of a book of this kind soon after I started to collect old types of barbed wire in 1957.' Hats off to Jesse the use of the word 'dire'.
Here are my other three favourite sentences:
'I believe it would be a safe bet, if anyone could ever get a caller, that there has been more of this ‘Hodge’s ten-point spur rowel’ wire found by barbed wire collectors than all the other ‘rotating’ type barbs combined.'
Look out for some terrific exclamation mark work in this next one:
'I believe this patent takes the cake for the largest number of barb types shown that can be used on its fence-wire. Seven!'
And the peerless:
'If you happen to be a barbed-wire collector who has been trying to locate the patent data on your ‘saw-toothed ribbed ribbon wire’, you need look no further!'
See, now it looks as if I'm sneering at someone for being enthusiastic about their hobby, and God knows I've bored on about comedy for too long to too many people to be allowed to do that, even if I wanted to. But, Jesse, I don't know... barbed wire? Really?
Monday, 14 January 2008
- Mr. O'Moore's Fantastical Store
- Mr. McWopp's Bewildering Shop
- Mr. Moletail-Begalia's Odd Wholesale Retailer
- Mr. Bleeosk's Kooky Kiosk
- Mr. Roy Far-Bus's Weird Branch of Toys-R-Us.
- Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory (Memo to self - remember to change name of guy, and thing he owns.)
- Death Mask IV.
Posted by John Finnemore at 12:59 am
Tuesday, 8 January 2008
An advert on my email sidebar has just encouraged me to subscribe to the Washington Post, with the following inducement:
'All the latest Pakistan news - Benazir Bhutto interview.'
The latest news? Really? I can't help thinking there's a story they may have missed...
Posted by John Finnemore at 6:57 pm
Monday, 7 January 2008
Good news, everybody! It has just come to my attention that there lives in Madagascar a species of rodent - in the Nesomyidae family, since you ask - known as the Bastard Big-Footed Mouse. See, don't you find that this bleak, cold, new year's world suddenly seems that much happier a place to be, knowing we share it with Bastard Big-Footed Mice?