Content with Popoularity

This afternoon I received an interesting comment on my last blog entry (see England’s New Dawn & the comment by descartes1).

Today in England Fabio and Harry have dominated every headline. But have the broadsheets, tabloids, broadcasters, tweeters and bloggers (myself included) been guilty of pedalling popularity over genuine news?

I’m a big fan of the BBC’s broad coverage of news and current affairs, but today they are certainly as guilty as anyone of promoting England’s search for a new national team coach at the expense of all other items. The dreadful footage of shelling in Syria has been bumped further and further down the agenda to make way for the inane opinions of average ex-footballers on England’s current management dilemma.

Don’t get me wrong, many people care passionately about Fabio’s successor, but at the same time most have absolutely no interest. This morning millions of people will have tuned in for their daily digest of relevant British and World events, but have been met with a gurning Garth Crooks lamenting our chances at Euro 2012. As a football fan myself even I am bored of this blanket coverage. I’m also genuinely interested in the Levenson Inquiry, The Bank of England’s interest rate announcement and the plight of innocent Syrian civilians, but they have been blacked out to make way for more football. So is this irresponsible journalism, celebrating uneducated popular culture?

This blog has helped me understand the reasoning behind the universal media’s decision. I try hard to be relevant, to vary my content and to at least push out a few credible posts each week – but when I do nobody reads them! They’re dull, pointless and void of controversy. However whenever I try and analyse the Six Nations, Redknapp’s accounts, or another woeful cricket performance people log on – they read, like and comment on every post in their hundreds. I can’t win – I have to either bow to popularity and keep writing about sport or persist with responsible blogging and write solely for myself…

And I only write a simple blog, I’m not trying to increase viewing figures, circulation or ad revenues!

So sorry, I will continue to analyse the popular headlines is a vain attempt to drive up my hits, and only occasionally slip in a relevant yet very boring update (just like this one).

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Chavs vs. Toffs

This afternoon a shocking viral email hit my inbox – outlining the code of conduct for the G4…

For those of you who are still unaware of this exclusive group, and their “gunning” behaviour, I’ll give you a brief summary. The email outlined the ‘tour rules’ as laid out by four City twenty-somethings for their upcoming rugby sevens trip to Dubai. A quick google search will give you the complete breakdown – but their code revolves around bragging about daddy’s money, cheating on their wives and generally maintaining their wild, rich lad lifestyle when away. It concluded with a short biography of each member, stating their current insurance-broker employment, red brick university degree and public school credentials.

G4 is a brotherhood of privileged, well educated, rich-boys whose very existence is a stain on British culture.

But the email got me thinking – who would I rather be stuck in a hotel with – a disgusting group of stuck-up toffs or a nasty hoard of lager swilling chavs?

Quite a dilemma. The blight of chav culture is well documented – there are countless TV documentaries outlining the antics of Wild Brits Abroad. All seem to focus on Burberry clad youths taking over Magaluf and Benidorm – downing bacardi breezers, destroying town centres, and eventually rushing to a Spanish hospital for a quick stomach pump. The images of girls in stilettos and boob-tubes, passing out in their own vomit, shock and disgust the middle classes and most Brits do their best to disown this TOWIE generation.

But are they any worse than the G4? Not in my opinion. The privileged rich boy, spending a small portion of the inheritance on a hedonistic shameless tour is a much more vile image in my eyes. Maybe it’s because I feel closer to them; on the chav-toff spectrum I am probably closer to the posh-boy end, and many are only just outside my social circles. In fact I see some of them on a daily basis – they all live in Fulham or Kensington, wear clothes that display their public school heritage, take at least one annual ski trip to Verbier and loosely flaunt their daddy’s wealth with complete disregard for the wider society. At least the chavs work hard and save all year in order to booze it all away on their annual destructive vacation.

No, give me ‘Geordie Shore’ over ‘Made in Chelsea’ every time. For me the chavs have better values, better ethics and more fun. In fact I think I’d quite enjoy a chav holiday – although I’d probably be in bed by midnight, I’m just too old now for all that nonsense…

Get the Crystal

As I was leaving the office moments ago my colleague Mike announced an astonishing claim to fame – he used to live in the flat above the legendary Richard O’Brien.

For those unfamiliar with this cult icon, he wrote the camp musical, The Rocky Horror Show, and performed The Time Warp in the original film. But for my generation he will always be best remembered as the creator and eccentric host of that television masterpiece, The Crystal Maze.

This show was a unique weekly experience, full of mystery and adventure. In ranked alongside other early 90s gems such as Gamesmaster and Knightmare – and in my opinion outdid them both.

But can you name the zones? It’s a great pub-quiz question, and if I am being honest I’m not 100% sure of them. There was definitely an Aztec Zone, I’m pretty sure there was an Industrial Zone, maybe Ocean, Futuristic and Medieval?

It was quite a complex TV event, each week a team (of six?) would navigate their way through each themed zone, taking on an array of physical and mental challenges as they fought their way to The Crystal Dome. With each challenge the team had a chance to win a crystal, allowing them more time in the final dome – where they needed to collect as many Gold paper tickets as they could. These then translated into a cash prize. But beware, if you failed a challenge, and didn’t smash on the door quickly enough to get out you could be locked in and left behind.

But every week the team would always trade in crystals to buy back their loser team-mates…although I never really understood why. Each team was always littered with useless members who inevitably failed challenges and were abjectly useless in the Crystal Dome. I’m confident I could have been an effective team asset, but unfortunately I’ll never find out…

The Crystal Maze died out when Richard left and was replaced by the distinctly average Ed Tudor-Pole – even his name annoyed me.

But Richard must be minted, the royalties alone from the long-running Rocky Horror must keep the income rolling in, so what is he doing living in a small South London flat? When challenged Mike was quick to point out that Richard didn’t just own one flat below him, he had bought a few apartments and knocked them through to create something unique…

Is it possible that The Crystal Maze still exists, burrowing through an array of rooms in Kennington – filled with new exciting 21st century zones –  hidden from the outside world? I think I should purchase a fetching lime green boiler suit and head over to Mike’s old address, just in case.

All Hail the BBC

I’m proud to say I’m British. Throughout history this great nation has led the way with it’s artistic, cultural and political achievement.

I could list countless icons, all of whom hold a unique place in defining history. Our language, art, architecture, philosophy, poetry and literature has influenced and shaped the modern world, and we continue to lead the way with our brilliance.

One shining example of continued British excellence can be found in every home, easily accessed by simply grabbing the remote and switching on John Logi Baird’s revolutionary invention. The British Broadcating Corporation entertains and enligtens millions of Britains on a daily basis. In fact through all elements of broadcast the BBC excels – It occupies the number 1 position not only on our TV remotes, but also on our car stereos, laptop browsers and smartphone applications.

Last night I watched the concluding part of Sebastian Faulk’s Birdsong on BBC1. If any were needed, it was a glowing reminder of everything great about the BBC; emotional, powerful and stunningly produced – I sat and watched from within the WWI trenches for 1.5hrs yesterday evening. It is a war I have never studied, but I now plan to learn about – this is the power that the BBC can both hold and wield.

And it’s not just their dramas, I am genuinely excited every time an advert emerges for a “major new documentary” – I instantly hit the series link button. I credit David Attenborough with most of my knowledge of the natural world, he has single-handedly helped me win a number of pub quizzes, in fact with Dave’s help I have easily generated considerably more income than the cost of the annual TV licence! I don’t care if some of it was filmed in Edinburgh Zoo…

But I keep hearing that dreadful unwelcome phrase – “BBC cutbacks”

I’m confident that a large proportion of the proud British public would happily accept a small increase in their licence fee if the BBC promised to maintain their current top standards. So come on Sir David, make a public plea and drive some more support for this Great British institution…and if you ever need any help from commuterblog feel free to ask (I live just round the corner form your brother).

The Big Debate: Thomas vs. Chuggington

Although this subject will mean absolutely nothing to many, millions in The UK will immediately recognise the importance of this life defining issue. It’s a debate that on the surface seems pointless but stands for something much more important than an infantile programming choice.

Thomas the Tank Engine is an institution, that has influenced and entertained generations. As I look up and down my crowded underground train I am confident that most would instantly recognise that happy theme tune. If I were to ask the man to my right to identify “The Fat Controller” I’m sure he could give me a detailed description (although I haven’t actually put this to the test). TTTE holds legendary status – it was even narrated by a Beatle!

But Thomas has a pretender to his crown…

Chuggington is modern, colourful, exciting and already starting to muscle into the train related children’s TV niche. It doesn’t focus on old, dated, slow, steam trains, with aged upper class voiceovers – it introduces fun, relevant, electric, young engines, training to take over the railway network. Chuggington is educational, relevant and already a favourite of the new generation.

Thomas definitely feels threatened.

In fact he has been completely revamped in the face of the Chuggington threat. That famous theme tune is no more, and Ringo has been sent to the scrap heap, replaced with a new younger model.

I find it desperately sad to see the demise of Thomas, but I have to be honest, as a bored father I would rather turn over to CBeebies and watch the new train generation. Thomas will always hold a place in my heart, but I am now a Chuggington man.

And as my little boy is still too young to operate the remote, I tend to switch to CBeebies and leave it running (although this is mainly because the mums proclaim it as educational) – so the chances are Chuggington will now be his train show of choice.

But whether it’s Chuggs or Thomas showing on my 32inch plasma, at least I can watch still watch the sport on my laptop….thank goodness for SkyGO.