Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Alpha Papa: The Cinema

Cine-files: Hollywood Cinema, Norwich

This month Alan Partridge makes his long-awaited move to the big screen with the world premiere taking place in Partridge's home city of Norwich, following an internet campaign.The movie joins the long list of films which have been partially filmed in Norfolk, including Die Another Day, World War Z, Jack the Giant Slayer and Full Metal Jacket. Following the campaign there will be a lunchtime premiere in Norwich before Alan jumps on a chopper for an evening premiere in London to keep the studio bosses happy. Here, I review its venue, the Hollywood Cinema.

Hollywood Cinema is located in Anglia Square, [note: NOTLeicester Square]  within convenient walking distance of charity shops, 99p Stores and second hand electronics dealers. On the outskirts of the city centre, Anglia Square is made mostly of the solid, grey architecture typical of the 1960s. The area was originally home to a Saxon settlement and a series of defensive ditches, now Anglia Square car park.

The cinema is located in one of the many large, nondescript buildings in the area although it is notable for its positioning, looming over the square. It dates back to the 1970s and is neutrally painted and partially glass fronted. The interior could do with a facelift, and the four screens are a fraction of the size of Norwich's two giant multiplexes, but this cinema has an archaic charm that is hard to find in 20 screened behemoths.

The clientele of the cinema are primarily Nor-folk from ages eight to ninety.  Norwich's “value” cinema, it undercuts its bigger, more modern local rivals at the box office which accounts for its continued survival.

Step aside Delia, the Alan Partridge movie premier has been described by Trevor Wicks, the owner of Hollywood Cinemas, as “the biggest event at the Hollywood and probably the biggest event there's ever been in the city for many years.” Rather than humourlessly shunning Partridge, the people of Norwich have embraced him (take note, Kazakhstan). Is Hollywood Cinema the best cinema in Norwich? No, but it is a local landmark, and one worthy of Partridge and Norwich's self-deprecating humour.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Headline of the Year 2012

Before you say anything, I know it's ironic for "Headline of the Year" to have such a boring title. But I love irony, so what of it?

As those of you who follow me on Twitter or in real life will know, last year I did a countdown of the best headlines I'd come across that year. This year I'm just doing more of my one good idea, à la Tim Berners Lee.

I don't know if 2 years is enough to count as a tradition. I hope not, though. I bloody hate tradition. Anyway, here's my rundown of the year's funniest, weirdest and most badly-written headlines. Get your scroll bar ready, this year it's a long one.


Cast your minds back, if you please, to 2011's Headline of the Year. The first entry, dated January 8th was "Cheeky Girl cautioned for shoplifting in Cheshire". Remarkably, on January 9th 2012, the BBC threw out this:

Antony Worrall Thompson 'sorry' for Tesco shoplifting

Everything about this remarkable story was amusing. The idea that you could "seek treatment" for shoplifting cheddar, the plethora of "Ready Steady Crook" jokes, but mostly the image of AWT shoving a wheel of Edam under his chef's hat and trying to leave the shop in a nonchalant manner. At least that's how I imagine it.


February 20th takes us away from public service broadcasting, to a nice little entry from the Guardian:

Jazz FM in a funk after gay porn gaffe

It's our first slightly ambiguous headline. Have Jazz FM made a gaffe in their gay porn venture? No. It turns out they accidentally played some gay porn in the middle of "Funky Sensation". I don't know about you, but if I was tuning into a programme called "Funky Sensation", porn is exactly what I would be expecting. I also like the way it says "what appeared to be a soundtrack to a gay porn film". I bet there were some awkward looks around the room to see who'd be the first to mention it. I like the idea that an elderly couple are listening to Funky Sensation, and as it is interrupted by a single groan Ethel goes "What're they playing gay porn for??" much to Herbert's disgust.  I wonder how many people thought it was just experimental jazz. The article explains that it played in the background of the music. Personally I think they might have just been playing Daddy Cool by Boney M. Or I just use any excuse to bring out that video. And how offensive can porn be on the radio anyway?

February 25th:
Giant Charity Eggs Reported Missing
Enough said. (here)


March was an exceptionally boring month. Can you remember anything you did in March? I didn't think so. But it was worth waiting through March to get to April 6th.

The Daily Mail is a well know bastion of quality journalism. Ok, they're not. That was sarcasm. I usually avoid going on the Mail's website for fear of giving them ad revenue, but the Mail deserves money for this:

Gravy-wrestling model suffers horrific facial injuries after being hit with monkey wrench when she interrupted a friend having sex

As readers of last year's Headline of the Year will know, I love a headline that tells you exactly what's happened like this one. Now, I don't want to make light of "horrific facial injuries", but here's how my thought process went reading this:

"Gravy-wrestling model..." wow, they have gravy wrestling? If I did that I'd tell my parents I was a doctor. I wonder if it's a gateway into proper modelling. weird. "...suffers horrific facial injuries..." oh dear. I feel bad for dwelling too long on gravy wrestling. "...after being hit with a monkey..." hahaha! a monkey has lightened up this story significantly! "....wrench..." fuck. more guilt. what's a monkey wrench? "...when she interrupted a friend..." erm? "...having sex" sex! I wasn't expecting that. I wish I was having sex...

And you know the awful thing? This is the EXACT thought process the Mail wanted me to have. I've read a lot of headlines for Headline of the Year yet I never expected to see one with gravy, wrestling, facial injuries, monkeys, wrenches and sex in it. It sounds like the synopsis of a David Lynch film.

And just a few days later, on the tenth, we were treated to another gem from the beeb:

Coffin-shaped pie advert slammed

This is about an advert featuring a coffin shaped pie to warn people about obesity in a town where they needed an extra large mortuary for the bigger bodies. It was paid for by Peta to encourage veganism. I like it because I have a bit of an obsession with terribly judged campaign ads which began with 10:10 blowing up children for climate change, carried on with Peta raping women for veganism, reinforced by Herman Cain's tax dodging killer chickens and now consolidated by Peta who are back to finish the job of putting everyone off animal rights.

Now, aside from the inarguable fact that a society needing extra large mortuaries for its fatties is pretty disgraceful, putting up a sign that basically says "be veggie or die" is not only misleading, but is also pretty unlikely to make anyone support your cause. It just adds to the conspiracy theory that Peta are actually funded by a meat lobby (I assume they exist) designed to give vegetarians a bad name.

And the headline's funny.

I wasn't lying when I said April was a good month for headlines. By the 15th, we have this:

Guinea pig 'explosion' causes chaos for Cambridgeshire charity

I can't help but think this is a deliberately misleading headline. It's not just my deliberate pedantic misunderstanding that led me to click on it expecting exploding guinea pigs, is it? A chaotic display of pandemonium as guinea pig flesh drips from the ceiling.
Alas, the article is about a population explosion, but I guess if they'd written "Lots of guinea pigs in Cambridgeshire" no-one would have read it.


May now, and another headline that makes us go, "eh?":

Germany united by nudity, divided by attitude

And while you're trying to work out what on earth that meant, across the pond on May 14th, abc gave us this:

Girl With Flesh-Eating Disease Can't Remember Events

It basically sounds like she's failed a history test. Cut the girl some slack, she was probably distracted by the flesh eating disease. Don't read the article, it's actually really sad but I will add that the "girl" is actually 24. Mild sexism. That's going to ruin her day.

Worried that last headline was a bit grim? How about a light piece of local news:

Cat trapped up tree

What's more alarming is that this stereotypical piece of local news...isn't local! It's from the Express and Star.

This next headline gets 8 points for its bizarreness. It's so bizarre it gets points when there isn't even a points system in place, and rivals the gravy model injured by a monkey for dark comedy. It also gets points for being the headline on our list which most sounds like the first day of a zombie apocalypse.

Naked man shot dead while eating another man's face

If a good headline makes you want to read more, then this one is the best. Luckily all questions were soon answered, prompting another fantastic headline:

Face-Eating Attack Possibly Prompted by 'Bath Salts,' Authorities Suspect

Strangely, May 29th was accompanied by a 90% drop in the share price of Lush.

Someone contact the Darwin awards, I think we have a winner:

Serpent-handling pastor profiled earlier in Washington Post dies from rattlesnake bite

This man believed, and preached, that God can cure you from snake bites, creating a fantastic opportunity for an "I told you so". I also like that the Washington Post were so proud at having found this nutter first that they put it in the headline.


Our first headline of June comes from the Mail. I don't read the Mail very often, and every time I do they have ridiculous and quotable headlines like this:

Cats away! Artist turns his dead pet into flying helicopter after it is killed by a car

I think they have stories like this every day. Maybe next year I'll just have a link to the Daily Mail website instead of doing all this. And start claiming the EU gives you cancer.

Our next headline comes courtesy of The Onion:

Dull and Boring become sister communities

Except it's not from the Onion, its from a reputable broadsheet. It's about two towns being twinned, and wouldn't look out of place on April 1st, particularly when it refers to "The Boring Community Planning Organisation". That could be any community planning organisation.


When I came across this next headline in July I thought it was shocking and ridiculous. Following the massacre at a midnight screening of the Dark Knight Rises:

Denver Batman massacre 'an argument for more 

guns' says NRA member

Of course, at the time I didn't realise that just five months later the NRA would argue for more guns following the Sandy Hook massacre. That's what will stop all the shootings: more guns.


OK, so I admit I didn't get any decent headlines for a while. I blame events, not myself. This article's not from November, it's from January, but I don't play by the rules.

Man Says Ghost Punched Wife, Paranormal Experts Dispute Claim

I love this man. There's an episode of the Vicar of Dibley where Alice (the stupid one) doesn't understand the plot of something. Dawn French tells her that if she doesn't understand something in the plot a wizard did it. This is like that. "Why's your wife injured?" "A ghost did it". This is an approach to crime I call the "religion" approach. Blaming it on something unexplained and supernatural. "Prove it was a ghost." "Prove it wasn't". FUCK YOU. This man is a great example of not giving a fuck. "I'll hit my wife and blame it on a ghost. I do what I want." Stupid cunt. And "parnormal experts"? The paranormal is by definition para-normal, therefore unexpected therefore pretty hard to gain expertise in, surely?


What's funnier than old people? No, not ten old people. Old people and drugs. Voila:

No dear, that wasn't the pot plant I had in mind!

Not a great headline, I agree. It's a terrible pun, which I hate. What's funny is the article, that I command you to read. So basically an elderly couple bought a huge marijuana plant. Funny, right? But what's funnier is their excuse. They "bought it at a car boot sale" and "didn't know what it was". Suuuuuure.... I wonder if the cops would believe it if I said that.



'Rival campaign' spat over wind

A headline should tell you something about the story, so god knows what the good people at the BBC were thinking when they wrote this. It turns out to be a rather dull story about some Tory infighting in a by-election, but there are so many different ways to interpret this headline it's confusing.

Anyone who knows me will know I love animal suffering, which is one of the reasons why this headline is funny:

Chimps and orangutans may experience midlife crises, say scientists

The other reason is that it's almost identical to a headline from satirical website The Onion

Scientists Successfully Teach Gorilla It Will Die Someday

which appeared earlier in the year.


In the age of The Apprentice, Strictly Come Dancing, Total Wipeout, Hole in the Wall and free access to high quality news via the internet it's increasingly hard to defend public service broadcasting, and the BBC do nothing to help themselves. You might think I'm talking about the cover up of child abuse but I'm not. I'm talking about this headline:

Monkey in jacket spotted at Ikea

I love a headline that's weirdly selective about the details it includes. While the story here is essentially that an animal is on the loose, it's the jacket and the fact it's an Ikea that are memorable about this. These details imply that if a naked monkey, or a monkey in a hat, had been spotted in Ikea it wouldn't be newsworthy, or that if a monkey in a jacket was spotted at HMV it wouldn't be newsworthy. Imagine the scene in the BBC newsroom when the story comes in: "A monkey's been spotted in Ikea", "That's not news! Since when did people care about primates buying flatpack furniture?", "No, boss, you don't understand. It was wearing a jacket!", "Jeez, Johnson, why didn't you say?".

What would they have done if it was wearing a mankini?

You know how Daily Mail headlines tell you exactly what happened in the story so you don't need to read it? And you know how they have a talent for finding the most bizarre stories? [see gravy monkey wrench girl] Well another one has come to my attention:

Russian man kills and eats drinking partner after running out of snacks at vodka party... and sells leftovers at market as PORK

I like that the writers obviously thought "I think we need more emphasis on this to grab people's attention. Put "pork" in capitals."

For this next one I have to thank comedian Paul Sinha for tweeting.

Mahesh Bhatt to enter Bigg Boss to offer Sunny 'Jism 2'

This came from Asian Times, and is that rare thing: a headline that requires a key to understand it. Big Boss is Indian Big Brother. Mahesh Bhatt is a Bollywood director. Sunny is an adult movie star. "Jism 2" is a pornographic sequel. Does it make sense now?
As the year draws to a close there's time for just one more piece of journalistic absurdity:

Swedish man gets disability benefits for heavy metal "addiction"

I hope this article is real or I'm going to look like an idiot. You have to read the article on this one because it literally reads like something from the Onion.  "His heavy metal addiction caused him to attend nearly 300 concerts last year that left him unable to hold down a job, and forced to go on welfare."

I'm thinking of starting a charity. "Donate today to help those afflicted with heavy metal addiction. Last year Roger was forced to go to 300 heavy metal concerts. Help us find a cure today." Accompanied by sad images of a completely moshed-out metal fan.

What's more bizarre than a metal head taking everyone for a ride is that he seems to be surrounded by people prepared to humour him, from doctors to his boss. Nice to see that whopping rate of Swedish income tax being put to good use.

So we end, like all good lists, with a jab at Scandanavian socialism. I hope you've enjoyed reading this collection of things as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Stay tuned for next year.

Over and out. x

Monday, 31 December 2012

Another year over

As those of you who follow me on Twitter or in real life will know, I celebrate New Year. This year I had some very enjoyable festivities with some people, involving a certain well known drinking game.

For those of you who don't know, Ring of Fire is a drinking game, named after a Jonnie Cash song made famous by Ben. The rules are simple: every card in the ring carries a rule. As in a standard deck there are thirteen cards in a suit. One rule for each card. For anyone who can instantly remember 13 rules it's simple. For everyone else it's like having to play Star Wars Risk without being able to refer to the manual. There are more restrictions than the Labour government imposed on civil liberties. It makes drinking into work.

Basically, making numerous rules that no-one can keep track of to force alcohol on those who don't want it and deprive alcohol from those who do is good for no-one. People even had to read instructions on their phones every time a card was drawn, much to the emboringment of proceedings.Of course, I may just be bitter because I kept getting the "make a new rule" card and couldn't think of anything, making me the boring twat of the group but mleh!

This was swiftly followed by a game of "never have I ever..." in which the player names something they have never done and anyone who has done that thing has to drink. As someone who has never done anything of any interest, I drank very little. The irony of all this is that had I been simply drinking of my own accord I would have emerged significantly more inebriated at the other end than I did in this case.

All being said, I had a good night. Being out of the house was an improvement on my expectations.

After a while we went to a club which wasn't too packed or expensive. There I met a guy I had a dance off with during my last night out before I returned to uni in second year, a year and a half ago. We recognized one another and paid tribute to each others' dance moves. Much to my shame, he revealed he is in his thirties, at least a decade my senior. Any of you who knows anything about the way I dance or the state of my physical fitness will understand that there's no way I'll be winning dance offs in ten year's time. Any way, the chat was amicable, considering our past death match (of dancing).

Now on to music. I don't believe any kind of music is demonstrably better than any other in any relevant sense. Even in film I think it will probably be agreed upon in most societies in most times that, say, Anthony Hopkins, is a better actor than Megan Fox, but I think music is entirely contingent on society and circumstances. Popular music is only so because of the context in which it is born. This being so, the pop song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana makes my laugh, as so often its fans act as if they subscribe to some kind of alternative or act as if it is in some way better than mainstream music. When it came on this evening I realized it's just a single repetitive hook. Bo bo bo boooo ba ba ba baaaa bo bo bo boooo ba ba ba baaa. This is the same as any pop song by Rihanna or One fucking Direction. People can like whatever music they like as far as I'm concerned, but when people like music full of repetitive hooks then condemn other pop music for that same reason they need to shut their faces. I just hate people who pretend to be alternative. At lease other pop singers can hold a note rather than just shout *cough* Kurt Cobain *cough* Rant over.

2012 was a year that was built up to for a long time. "The Olympics" they cried, since 2005. "The Apocalypse" they cried, "The Jubilee" they cried. 2012! The year that was hailed from afar! But when it came it was pretty much the same as any other year. Except for the fucking Olympics and Jubilee. There was a bit of a recession, but not enough of a recession to be interesting.

But for me it was a good year, one of the best in fact, and will be remembered fondly. Any way, these are my reflections at this moment in time, sorry it's not more interesting. Headline of the Year 2012 is on its way later this week. Thank you for following me this year, my dear reader (singular). I think I will be boring you with sub-par writing for years to come.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

"So tell us, Alex, was the Hobbit the Tokien Phantom Menace?"

As those of you who follow me on Twitter or in real life will know, I love to say "I told you so". With the release of the Hobbit, I have decided that in the spirit of inferior additions to popular franchises, I will write a follow up to my popular 2011 blog post "The Hobbit: Tolkien Phantom Menance?".

Firstly, I have to say this: The Hobbit is nothing like The Phantom Menace. Beautifully rendered, well acted, solidly entertaining and consistently enjoyable, The Hobbit is a good, well made film. Yet it suffers from a couple of the same problems. 

I don't want to blow my own trumpet (if I could I'd never leave the house), but everything I predicted about The Hobbit has come true.

Upon writing, on April 4th 2011, I bemoaned the decision to slice the Hobbit in two. That sounds like what would happen if there was a Lord of the Rings/Saw crossover, but that may have actually been less horrific than this decision. What I didn't know at the time is that Jackson and team would be sharpening their swords once again to chop it into three. This remains the biggest problem with An Unexpected Journey in that there's just not enough going on.

The fact that the Hobbit was never going to reach the heights of Lord of the Rings was true from the start, and is down to the source material. The lighter tone (perfectly captured, I might add) detracts from its epicness, but this is necessary. Basically, they should have made the films the other way round to avoid anticlimax. As I said previously "How is seeing Sir Ian take Tim from The Office to steal some treasure going to compare with the epic battle with the Balrog, or the painstaking crawl up the slopes of Mount Doom?" If you want to add grandeur to a story, hiring that bloke who played various nondescript, interchangeable characters in various things is probably a mistake. Also, having a Goblin King that resembles Boss Nass? You would have thought Star Wars Episode 1 imagery would be avoided at all costs.

The modest source material is comparable to Star Wars prequels being tied down by their explanatory duties, but contrary to Star Wars, the Hobbit turns its prequel nature to its advantage to explain aspects of the Lord of the Rings in a way that wasn't done in the book due to it being written first. Also, the fact that the book was written first means it's a good story in its own right, rather than just a path to what follows.

I also complained about the number of Lord of the Rings actors who were signed on for the Hobbit, whose characters don't appear in the book. I stand by this, and since writing my original blog more were announced such as Christopher Lee and Orlando Bloom. The things in part one that were additional to the book were brief and felt peripheral to the main story, but I still believe they might pay off more substantially in part two and three. But as a standalone film, the scenes in part one with Galadriel, Radagast and Saruman felt irrelevant and didn't go anywhere. (Although as a huge fan I still enjoyed seeing these event put to screen)

So while there are some points on which the Hobbit was like the Phantom Menace, to brand it a failure in the same way is innaccurate and unfair. Its lighter tone is to be expected, and its only real failing is the fact that not enough happens due to being split in three to make more money, slightly akin to the Phantom Menace.

The final point on which I was right was that the Dark Knight Rises would be awesome. I told you so.

Thanks for listening to how right I was. For more accurate future predictions keep reading my blog.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Equality in succession

No sooner had the dust settled on Kate Middleton's uterus than it was announced that the long-awaited change to royal succession laws has been approved by all 16 “realms of the commonwealth.”

This long awaited change marked a crucial step in the liberalisation of the UK, as the position of head of state is no longer granted to the oldest male child of the current monarch, with no election or debate, to rule over us until death. Now, the monarchy is granted to the oldest child regardless of sex...with no election or debate, to rule over us until death.

It's claimed the bill “ends the discrimination of women in royal succession”, but this isn't strictly accurate. 99.9percent of women in the UK are still discriminated when it comes to the monarchy, so are 99.9percent of men. The long process of changing the rules of succession was embarked upon for the benefit of no living person. In nine months we will see whether or not it will become relevant after the death of William, but there's a 50percent chance it won't.

With the royal pregnancy marking the inevitable next step in the world's most upmarket soap opera, it almost feels like these archaic sponges are spawning offspring for the purpose of pissing off republicans, and keeping their personal lives in the media for a few minutes longer. Soon there will be the messy divorce, and the inevitable appearance on I'm a Celebrity... I'm dreading the live birth, with military parade and tedious Huw Edwards commentary.

If you're going to defend an institution like the monarchy, it's probably because of tradition. If you're going to tinker with it and change the rules, you're acknowledging that we can alter the way we choose our head of state to suit our times. With this in mind, it seems like now is the time to put an end to the monarchy. People argue it creates unity and patriotism, but perhaps people would feel greater allegiance to their country if it recognised their eligibility to be head of state. This change makes no difference to anyone who is currently alive. If the government cares about equal opportunities, it should abolish the monarchy so anyone has the chance to be head of state, regardless of gender, race, social class, religion, sexual orientation or political views, so we can proudly say we have more chance of being king or queen than a foetus.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

King of Popcorn

Early this year, for better or worse, the noble people of Bradford West elected one of the UK's biggest political characters back to Parliament. Like him or loathe him, George Galloway is without a doubt a strong voice for the causes he represents, so the film industry should now be quaking in its money that Galloway has set his sights on them and their overpriced snacks

Apparently one of the most pressing concerns to Galloway's constituents is not...ok, I admit I was going to find some more important local Bradford news stories at this point, but after a trawl through Bradford's local newspaper, I see that the price of cinema snacks may actually be quite high up their agenda.

In this interview with the Daily Politics, which Dead Ringers once described as "CBeebies for pensioners", Galloway explains why he's table an Early Day Motion against cinema confectionary prices. The precise wording of the motion is as follows

"That this House deplores the profiteering by cinema chains in the provision of catering to their customers where the prices of sweets, drinks and ice creams in the foyers are many times those on the high street; notes that this particularly affects families with young children at whom much of the merchandising is aimed; calls on cinemas to stop exploiting their customers by insisting that the stalls and franchises inside their buildings reduce their prices to a level commensurate with local shops and restaurants; and congratulates the cinema goers who are campaigning for fair prices."

Not only is Gorgeous George, and by gorgeous I mean borderline insane, making a complete fool out of himself by using parliamentary time on something so petty, he's also demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the subject in hand.

His appearance on the Daily Politics begins with him being asked why he is suddenly interested in popcorn and he replies "I had to buy it". That's a lie, isn't it George? You didn't have to buy it. I go to the cinema on a regular basis and I never buy popcorn. If you were at a cinema with an enforced popcorn buying policy, you should take your business elsewhere. That's the beauty of competition.

He blames having to buy popcorn on his kids. "You can't drag your kids, saying 'I want popcorn, I want have to buy it". Again, not true. What you're essentially admitting is that you're tabling an Early Day Motion attacking cinemas because of your own parental failings. Telling your children they can't have everything they want is a crucial part of being a parent. Sure, they might cry this time, but next time they will know that when you say they can't have something you mean it and that they can't have everything they want all the time. Otherwise you'll have greedy, materialistic, spoilt children, which will probably mean you have to disown them George.

The problem is that if Galloway had researched this for, I don't know, eight seconds, he would know that cinemas hardly make any money off ticket sales. Hollywood charge up to 90% of the ticket price for distribution. Either Galloway expects them to run at a loss, or they have to make their money back elsewhere, i.e. on snacks and drinks which people purchase voluntarily. His suggestion that people sell popcorn out side the cinema for customers to take inside shows his complete lack of knowledge on the subject. If this happened, cinema ticket prices would shoot up, making the cinema less accessible for everyone.

The way I see cinema snacks is a bit like lottery tickets. When something's funded by the lottery it's great because it probably means money is going somewhere it wouldn't if left to the market, but it's also money people have given voluntarily. If people want to spend large amounts on cinema snacks and subsidize my cinema ticket as a result, great! It's a system that works for everyone.

Part of Galloway's problem may be that he thinks "they throw you out if you bring your own [food]". Not at any cinema I've ever been to. Some of them have policies against your own food, but they never enforce it. You know why? Because people will take their business elsewhere. Probably when Galloway tried to take his own food in he did it while shouting about food prices and claiming to be fighting against the fascistic confectionery purveyors. Plus they were probably looking for any excuse to get rid of him. "George Galloway's here? Shit. How do we get rid of him? Is he carrying drugs? Does he have recording equipment? Shit! I know, get him for the bourbons!" 

What I do when i go to the cinema is put my previously bought food in a non see through bag. Clever, right? Once you're in the cinema it's too dark for the gestapo to see what you're eating when they do their mid-film inspeation.  Galloway appears to think they search you on the way in like that annoying Orange ad. Just replace "phone" with "food" and you get the picture.

I don't like the price of cinema snacks, but there's a reason for it, and if George Galloway was actually serious about doing something about it he would be fighting the distribution costs of Hollywood studios, not the price of snacks. He needs to do some research, not table EDMs to make up for his parental failings.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Yet another thing on religion.

As those of you who follow me on Twitter or in real life will know, I'll do quite a lot in the name of politeness. If I go into a food shop and they don't have what I want, I'll still buy something to be polite. I don't like using toilets in restaurants or pubs where I haven't bought anything. Except Little Chefs. I don't think anyone expects you to eat that stuff. But even I won't renegotiate my metaphysical or theological beliefs in the name of politeness.

It's a strange thing, to try and change someone's religious beliefs in the street. I wonder how many people it actually works on.

I know that for most British people religion isn't a big deal. They don't think about it. If pushed they'll tick Christian, because, you know, they have a Christmas tree and sort of think there might be something there. But are these people going to be persuaded to join a religion by a leaflet and a slightly disgruntled stranger who looks like they gave up washing for lent in 1983 and haven't got back in the habit?

I make these generalizations based on the religious groups I frequently see on the streets of Sheffield. On a normal Saturday there will be a Muslim group and a couple of Christian ones. A regular Christian group included a collection of angry hard line nutcases with a "We must all come before the throne of judgement" sign who believe "drunkeness" is a hell-worthy sin that no amount of good deeds can make up for. So I could discover a cure for AIDS, but go to hell for my celebratory magnum of champagne. Although I admit this is unlikely to happen. I'm not even looking for a cure for AIDS.

I also wonder what benefit it is to a religion to sign up people who are swayed so easily, by a couple of people shouting at them in the street. Sure, you've got them on your mailing list and they might come along to a free coffee morning, but as soon as the Mormons come knocking they'll up sticks to Utah, and coffee will be a thing of the past. And I hear the Mormons don't let their prey go so easily so they won't be coming back any time soon.

This doesn't really have a point to it. I guess I just don't think trying to nag people to join your religion in the street is a good use of time. There's not really much chance of changing anyone's mind now is there? So why do it when you could be doing something more worthwhile, like good deeds, masturbation or collecting stamps?

The reason is simple. People like to say "I told you so". As those of you who follow me on Twitter or in real life will know, I like a good "I told you so". So much I actually keep a recording of everything I say so I can reference it back at a later date. But I have no intention of doing it on Judgement Day.

The religious who clog up the already busy streets with their meager attempts at conversion do it because they think that when we all die and are faced with their deity, and he sends everyone except them to an eternity of torment they can say "ha! Told you so!". Which is the worst thing about being an atheist. You never get to say "I told you so". Your only reward is not wasting half of the only life you have on worshiping iron age imaginary characters.

But even if these people's religions are true, you would have thought saying "I told you so" would be unnecessarily adding insult to injury. When I've been told I'm about to be tortured for ever, someone saying "well, we did warn you" is just gonna piss me off. And if this isn't their intention, they should make a decent effort to convert people rather than their half arsed, angry, misspelled leaflets. You should put your whole arse in. I'm sure that's in Leviticus somewhere.

For now I'll put my faith in the idea that if there's such a thing as a god who in whose company I'd like to spend eternity, he wouldn't send messengers who look like an amoeba's embarrassing cousin with a message as incoherent as the Star Wars prequels in Welsh.