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Feb. 22nd, 2017

2-Way Wrist iMac


I returned from karate last night to find several huge lorries labelled FILM & TV LIGHTING parked in my road, and people with boom mikes lurking down the narrow one-way street round the back of my block of flats, so I parked up and went for a nose.

I had a lovely chat with the security guy, who was at a bit of a loose end and looking forward to hometime, and gleaned that it was an ITV crime drama, possibly called Liar and possibly to be screened in the autumn.

Crime drama. Cheek. I live in a highly respectable area!

Feb. 20th, 2017


Show Us Your War Face

On Saturday I went paintballing at Go Paintball, round the back end of Croydon, for a friend's birthday. It will probably surprise many of you to learn that I'd never done it before, and I was terrified I'd be awful at it and cry.

Everyone has a pop culture paintball reference. A lot of people mentioned Byker Grove, but for me it's alway been the episode of Drop the Dead Donkey where George goes berserk on a team-building exercise and shoots Henry in the face.

Our group of six was split between the two teams of the day, Red and Blue. We played eight games over four different terrain maps, each with different objectives and things to hide behind. I was on Team Blue, and I'm happy to report we won. No thanks to me.

I was the first to be shot in the first game, which didn't make me terribly happy, but I was far from the last, and I soon got into the swing of taking cover and stealthy potshots. Not for me the heroic run to the target under fire.

What I learned:
  1. Paintball guns are heavy. My arms were like overcooked spaghetti afterwards.
  2. I am the world's worst shot. I don't think I killed anyone all day. 'Provided covering fire' is probably the kindest thing you can say about my performance.
  3. It does hurt. About as much as a wasp sting initially, but it goes away in 30 seconds or so.
  4. I'm no hero. In the immortal words of General Melchett, I would rather have a cup of tea than charge naked at Jerry. And I hate tea.

What with that and a two-hour karate class on Sunday, it's a relief to be back in the office for a nice rest.

Feb. 9th, 2017

2-Way Wrist iMac

Dodgy Drawings

Red Nose Day is approaching, which must mean it's time for worldofagwu to offer comic book style commissions in return for a small donation (or indeed a large one).

If you like fictional characters and song lyrics, and you would enjoy owning a piece of digital art that combines the two, go here.

I made two requests this year, and I could not be more pleased with the results:

It’s a ravenous town for Dick TracyCollapse )
(Lyrics from 'On Every Street' by Dire Straits)

Timothy Dalton as James Bond is on the hunt, he’s after youCollapse )
(Lyrics from 'Hungry Like The Wolf' by Duran Duran)

Feb. 6th, 2017


Cabin in the Woods

I'm just back from an unexpected and welcome few days in Hampshire's Blackwood Forest, courtesy of friends who had a spare room in their cabin.

It was a relaxed, low-key affair of junk food, long walks in the wood when the rain stopped, and evenings in the hot tub drinking Jägermeister and getting rained on.

The holiday camp is run in partnership with the Forestry Commission, so everything is as environmentally-friendly as is possible when you're offering cabins with underfloor heating, and guests are encouraged to take an interest in the natural world around them.

There was a board outside the visitors' centre for recording wildlife sightings, but this was not taken entirely seriously; entries included 'Elvis', 'Batman', and 'Honey G in my hot tub'.

We saw a deer and a rabbit. More interesting to me were several low-flying Chinooks, plus Middle Wallop's pet Apache on my way home.

Jan. 29th, 2017

Casino Royale

For England, James?

The last time I attended an all-night movie marathon was over a decade ago, but the Prince Charles dangled a James Bond All-Nighter in front of me and I heeded the call. The lineup, after all, very closely matched my list of top Bond movies:
  • Goldfinger
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service
  • The Spy Who Loved Me
  • The Living Daylights
  • Goldeneye
  • Casino Royale

I'd have picked Skyfall over Casino Royale, but one can't have everything.

I was a little unsure, on arrival, whether I was doing a sensible thing, but it turns out that when there's big-screen Bond on the menu I will happily stay up all night and love it. For everything up to Goldeneye, this was my first viewing in a cinema, which added to the excitement, and it was lovely to be sharing the reactions of >100 other people to films we, presumably, all knew and loved.

Film by filmCollapse )

I'd never watched a film from each era back to back like this, and it was very illuminating on the evolution of the series and the continuity along the way. Goldeneye in particular draws on OHMSS in the ways it establishes that this new Bond is the same as the old Bond. The effect of an audience was energising, too, as we clapped each gun barrel.

Shortly after 11am I emerged into the West End's Chinese New Year parade, which felt very Bond-movie: struggling against the flow of oblivious, happy revellers to get somewhere important (i.e. HOME). I channeled Daniel Craig and behaved as if bad things would happen should I not get through. It worked.


Jan. 24th, 2017


The Real Comedy Controllers

Last night I visited Broadcasting House for a recording of The Real Comedy Controllers, which will air on BBC Radio 4 Extra on March 25th.

The BBC staff were exceptionally nice; when my companion phoned to say they'd been held up and was it worth jumping in a taxi, the person on the door said "Have you got tickets? Then you're guaranteed entry. And why don't you come and wait in the warm?"

The show itself consists of anecdotes and discussion from four movers and shakers in the world of TV and radio comedy (pitchers, commissioners, producers, writers), and the instalment we enjoyed covered the '60s and '70s.

Paul Jackson, Beryl Vertue, Jimmy Mulville and John Lloyd were all excellent value, but I have a particular soft spot for Lloyd. He's a very funny speaker, does wicked impressions, and got visibly emotional talking about his friendship with Douglas Adams.

The broadcast show will be three hours long and feature complete episodes of select comedies, but we had to be content with clips. My favourite of these was Round the Horne's Julian and Sandy presenting their version of Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man, which I will leave you to imagine.

The recording ran for an hour longer than we were told it would, but I had no complaints. Though I was pretty hungry by the end.

Jan. 12th, 2017


My Day In Five Tweets

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Jan. 4th, 2017

Monocle Husky

My Year In Books

Goodreads lets you challenge yourself to read a certain number of books in the year. I set myself 60, then, when this looked like looking too easy, revised to 75.

I read 74.

I was somewhat annoyed.

Standouts for the year were The Bone Clocks, Riddley Walker, Ian Fleming's collected Bond correspondence (The Man with the Golden Typewriter), near-future espionage romp Europe in Autumn, and present-day espionage romp Slow Horses.

See it all in handy pictorial format!

Jan. 3rd, 2017


Happy New Year!

I left LJ to its own devices between Christmas and New Year and had to skip back >300 entries last night, so well done everyone.

There were times when 2016 felt like a bit of a drag, but in hindsight there was plenty of good stuff going on:

In January I visited Berlin for the first time and fell in love with the city.

In September I rode the North Coast 500 with a group from the Honda NC700 forum.

A few of my short stories appeared in print, while one from last year won two awards, an Ursa Major and a Cóyotl.

In culture news, I had my first experience of the Globe, to see A Midsummer Night's Dream, and was enthralled by both The Red Barn at the National and The Red Baron at the RAF Museum.

I saw Paul Simon in concert for the...sixth time? On this occasion, though, I went with my mum, which was a first.

On TV, I loved Deutschland '83 to distraction and was inconsolable when it finished. Luckily The Night Manager came along immediately afterwards to make up for it. Currently: working my way through all of Archer and Paw Patrol on Netflix.

Things to do in 2017:
  • Travel more, perhaps taking in an airshow abroad
  • Get something longer than a short story published
  • Grade to first dan
  • Something awesome for my 40th birthday

Finally, please enjoy this recent self-portrait:

Casino Royale

Dec. 9th, 2016

Monocle Husky

Hotter Dishes

I have a story in adult furry anthology Hot Dish 2 from sofawolf, available now!

My contribution is set in an alternate universe where cats evolved as the dominant sentient life form. It's the equivalent of the Victorian era, and a feline scientist has a startling, controversial theory about the origin of the species...

Look at this beautiful illustration by Anyare, though, crumbs! She has illustrated one of my stories before, and I am just in love with the way she draws cats.

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