Saying goodbye to the mob

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It’s been a while since I have written on this blog and I’d like to say that it is because I won the lottery and I have been wining and dining with celebrities at the Hollywood and Vine for the past six weeks but that would be a complete and utter lie.  The reality is that I haven’t been writing on here for one reason and one reason only : Soprano.  Work by definition is a fairly bad place to spend 40 hours a week but in the last few months my boss managed to make work unusually hellish.  It began with intimidation and culminated in threats.  He told one of my colleagues that he was fired and sent the poor chap on his way back to Jacksonville to explain to his pregnant wife that the next paycheck would be his last.  Two days later on Sunday night Soprano called him up and explained that he had “spoken out of turn” and in fact he had not been fired at all so he should show up for work on Monday as normal and “all would be forgiven.”  He publicly ridiculed another of my colleagues as “an embarrassment to the corporation,” and actually fired another who not too long ago had been the “sales star”.  For my part Soprano backed off a little because he realised that I had been doing a pretty good job of sucking up to the right people over the last few years and wouldn’t be as easy to eliminate.  That being said the monthly “coaching” sessions with him always involved spotlights, handcuffs and German accented accomplices and my rapidly increasing heart rate and shortness of breath convinced me that the time had come to leave the mob.

It was an ironic twist that on the day I sent my resume to a rival bank that Soprano decided to announce that I was his “buddy.”  It was an odd announcement and it came during a city wide conference call much to the bewilderment of all the participants, myself included.  “Kjohn” (well you don’t expect me to use my real name when talking about the mafia right) he said “you know we are buddies right ?”  I murmured some kind of meek response only for him to follow up with “and you know what it means if we’re buddies ?  It means you’re good.”  At this point the area consumer lending executive asked Soprano if we could actually get on with the bloody conference call but the point was that I was now a “made man.”  I was kind of surprised to get this honour so quickly and without even having to back-stab and betray that many co-workers give or take a few crappy employees who had it coming anyway.  I quickly realised though that being a “made man” meant it would be much harder for me to leave the company and sure enough Soprano called me later on and explained that if “anyone else quits I’ll be a dead man.”  I am not sure if he meant it figuratively or not but evidently someone had pointed out to him that whilst it’s easy to get rid of employees you do need some modicum of a staff to get things done.  I don’t know why but when he told me this I almost started to feel sorry for him despite the fact he was rude, crude, lewd, abusive, obnoxious, ignorant, foul mouthed and more likely than not a professional hit-man.  Nevertheless I had an interview with another bank and it was while debating the pros and cons of leaving that I stumbled across a re-run of “the Sopranos” on A & E the other night.  The episode in question featured the murder of ralphie who had recently been given the status of a “made man.”  I am not saying I base my decisions on TV shows but it certainly helped me make my mind up.  Up until that point I had been deliberating whether I should emulate Jim Bowie’s slave Jethro in “The Alamo” and hang around for a certain death or press ahead with my plans like Andy DuFrain in “The Shawshank Redemption” in the certain knowledge that my escape would bring down a tyrant.  The Andy DuFrain option won and the hand of God saw to it that Soprano wasn’t at work the day I put in my notice.  The great thing about working at a bank is that you don’t even have to serve your two week notice because of the potential to view confidential information during that time frame which could be of use elsewhere.  So no more Soprano and I didn’t even have to have my head beaten into a pulp by him for daring to leave.  I am enjoying my new found freedom and aside from checking the underside of my car for bombs and making sure to remove the severed horses head from my bed each night life is good.

Outcasts of Society no more: Doctor Who fans

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Apparently it is acceptable these days to be a “Doctor Who”fan.  Not so long ago “who” fans or “anoraks” as they were known were outcasts of society and as someone who mingled with these fans I am of the opinion that they should probably still be outcasts but who am I to pass judgement.  My involvement with “fandom” began around 1992 when I made the leap from being someone who watched the show to someone who was involved in one of the many secretive cult like “Who” groups that were prevalent in the Cambridge area in the early 90’s.  It all happened by chance really as this kid called Colin James (who these days is a popular karaoke performer in Harlow) introduced me to a guy called John Dorney at school.  Colin and Dorney were both from the year above me and with an image to uphold at school I referred to them as “drama” friends rather than “Who” friends since conveniently they were part of both groups.

Dorney invited me one weekend to a meeting in Cambridge and it was there that I first realised that most “Doctor Who”fans were weridoes.  The meeting was at a little terraced house down a back alley opposite an adult bookstore and on entering the safe house I was amazed to see about 30 grown adults packed into a tiny living room.  Sitting in the centre of the room on a tatty old blue velvet armchair was an elderly looking man who was introduced to us all as “David Fisher the man who wrote many classic stories.”  In reality he was a guy who wrote the scripts for a few lousy stories that were on TV in the mid 70’s but for these fans he may as well have been Tom Cruise or the Pope because basically he was someone who had been involved in the show.  The meeting was really boring as the host an emaciated looking guy called Joe feigned interest in Mr Fisher’s sketchy recollections of the show and then subjected us all to a 4th generation pirate video of “Stones of Blood” on a tiny black and white TV screen that was perched above his fireplace.  The story in question was about as badly planned and executed as the meeting and I’ve never watched it since and hopefully will never watch it again.  Unsurprisingly after this tedious meet up Joe decided to disband the fan group and that probably should have been that but for some reason I had stars in my eyes and decided that it was time for Hertfordshire to have it’s own Doctor Who group.

I got together with Dorney and a dubious chap named Ian Richardson and pretty soon we convinced the local milkman, Dave Crerar to join with us and form a new and more powerful group.  Richardson was an internet and publishing wizz kid, Dorney was a hardcore Doctor Who encyclopaedia and I was someone who wanted to get famous so the notion of trying my luck via Doctor Who conventions really appealed to me.  Crerar didn’t really have anything to offer except for the fact he had a car which we once drove to the pub in but after I missed an appointment for a part time job at McDonalds which he had organised for me we never saw him again.  Anyway before we knew it we had a monthly magazine “The Hourly Press” and started having meetings at Dorneys house for anyone who we could convince to show up.  I found a few pretty normal folks from Hertford who joined our group whilst Ian went curb crawling in Cambridge looking for homeless people to fill out Dorneys living room.  Probably the best thing about those early meetings was the location as Dorneys parents lived in probably the oldest house in the world.  The ceiling was about 4 ft above the ground and held up with wooden beams that were probably relics from Noahs ark.  At night Dorneys house came to life with all kinds of creeking and howling sounds which would all make for a great episode of “Most Haunted” but I digress.

After a few months I decided the time had come to cut the crap and start bringing in some celebrities so first on our radar was long time Doctor Who writer and script editor Terrance Dicks.  The main reason I invited him was because I found his phone number in a copy of the North London telephone directory that my Dad had brought home by mistake from work and never taken back.  Some times it just takes that little bit of luck to get the ball rolling !  We invited Terrance down to the old church hall in Sawbridgeworth because it only cost 25 quid to rent for a day and because it was near the train station so it wouldn’t be too far for him to walk.  How cheap is that ?  But it is the truth.  Terrance was great entertainment as he told us all kinds of amusing anecdotes about his time on the show and even hung around for a few swift pints at the King Willy afterwards.  Suddenly the local freemasons who frequented that pub had a bit of competition as there was a new weird and secretive group getting drunk that night !  At around the same time I managed to find a few other telephone numbers in “Who’s Who” which my Dad had also brought home  for some inexplicable reason and returned.

I couldn’t afford to pay people for interviews so I called them and I would leave my old stereo tape recorder with a phone on speaker in one room and ask the questions on a cordless phone in the other room.  It never failed to work as it seemed that BBC types had a hard time telling a sqeaky voiced kid to bugger off although there were a few times people weren’t too happy at my requests for interviews.  Paddy Russell wasn’t best pleased when I asked to speak to “Mr Paddy Russell.”  Apprantly she was a woman.  One other very well known actor started to answer my questions before deciding that his ongoing argument with his (now ex) wife was proving to be too much of a distraction and finally hung up on me.  I also felt a little awkward when I called a number asking for a certain Director and was told by his tearful wife “he just left me!”  Nevertheless I spent several months randomly calling actors, producers, writers etc and the more I called people the more they directed me towards their friends or other minor celebrities that they probably thought it would be funny to harrass.   I got a lot of good interviews for our magazine whilst Dorney got to work actually writing articles and Ian bribed shopkeepers in Cambridge to stock our ‘zine.  Everything was going pretty well with the meetings as well.  Ian had introduced us to a guy called Phillip Featherweather who always wore an egg stained tuxedo and lived in a Greek Orthodox monsatery as well as an array of other less interesting but fanatical characters.  It was obvious by late 1993 that we were ready to take the next step and host a convention ……….

To be continued.

Are Europeans closer to God or just cheapskates ?

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I know a guy who attends a “church” here in Gainesville where he is required to bring his annual tax returns so that the church “elders” can decide how much money they need to take from his account each year.  He was complaining to me that they plan on taking about 15% of his annual income this year to use for “blessings”.  The “blessings” include cinema sized plasma screens among other things ohh and the guy who founded this church has gone from living in a friends garage to residing in a million dollar mansion within a short space of time.  The guy who is a member told me though that the beneficent church leader encourages his members to “bless” each other frequently and even suggests that they ask each other to be “blessed” when in need. The only times I can recall asking to be blessed were during confession and the “blessing” I received was forgiveness in exchange for three swfit “Hail Mary’s”  This guy though told me that he asked a friend to “bless” him recently by buying him a $100 dollar pink shirt for nightclubbing.  If I asked one of my friends to “bless me” with a pink shirt they would probably think I was gay and definately think I was a nutcase.  I don’t recall reading anything in the Bible about assisting fellow believers by enabling them to go to discos.

The church in America though is very different from the version I recall in Europe.  Back in the day before hitting up the pub I would go to the 35 minute Sunday night mass where I would donate a quid or even a fiver to the basket being passed round by the old blokes just before the offertory.  That fairly stingey donation was my only financial commitment to the church and just for the record I checked the Vatican and Diocese of Westminster websites and didn’t see anything about having expectations for donations.  The same cannot be said for the local Catholic church in Gainesville where they have a salary calculator to help you figure out how much 10% of your annual salary is so that you can make your “fair contribution” to the church.  10% seems pretty steep to me after federal tax, state taxes, mortgages, car payments, healthcare and gas expenses I probably only have about 8% left as it is so I guess I need to get some credit cards to make up the shortfall.  The Catholic church here though is nothing compared with the local Baptist church where new members have to attend an “audit” (Kind of sounds like Scientology to me) to make sure they give “at least” 10% of their wealth over before being admitted to the church.  I don’t know why it costs more to go to church in the USA than in England but 10% is the magic number here whereas the Church of England website asks for a meagre 5% but concedes that most people give no more than 3%.  Anyone who has ever been to a C of E church knows the place is full of loaded hooray henrys with more money than sense so if they are good at 3% than 1% is all you’re getting from me. 

I understand the logic behind donating to church and if the money was well spent I wouldn’t have such a problem but here the churches invest in cinema sized plasma screens, luxury seating, video and sound recording equipment for making church movies, basketball courts, and many many other frivolities.  It is all a far cry from the days when Francis of Assissi wandered the streets begging for alms or John Wesley stood out in the cold wind with a rock as his only pulpit.  I don’t mind giving money to the poor but I do mind giving money to self important yanks who think that the church should be as comfortable as their own home.  No church here is complete without cushioned seating and a nursery like a mini Disneyworld.  What happened to people just wanting to pray ?  If old wooden benches are good enough for Catholics in Ireland or Anglicans in Essex then why are they intolerable to Christians in the USA ?

The worst thing about church in the USA is that every few weeks someone breaks away from the church and starts a new church that is not money orientated.  As the months pass more and more people who are disgusted at the excesses of their old church join the new pastor until such a time as they realise they need a new church.  Guess what ?  He then tells them they all need to hand over 10% of their wealth to finance the new building  and so the cycle begins again.  One old lady I know just built her own church which she calls the “United Christian Center” which is a contradiction in terms if ever I heard one for a breakaway group ! 

I really don’t know what they do with all the money between pointless refurbishment projects.  In my town the church organ would break and we’d raffle off a few “Chaz and Dave” records to raise the 500 quid to buy a new one.  Over here the organ would never break because they replace them every year and even if it did break they could get a live link up on the satellite system with the neighbouring church when it was time to sing.   The problem here is that there are too many self important people to go around and so each one of them needs to be a “deacon” at some church somewhere to feel good about themselves which means the rest of us have to cough up the money to finance new churches on every street corner.  It reminds me of the Roman empire where the rich and well to do built temples to their favourite gods except here they are to the same God (supposedly) and they have far less historical interest than the Pantheon.  Maybe yanks have to donate more money to church because they are more of a credit risk or a sin risk in the eyes of God.  That would seem to make sense since people with bad payment history pay more for their mortgages so I guess it should be the case that self absorbed people should pay more for salvation.

The weirdest thing you encounter here though is the notion that “God wants us to be rich”  This is a new phenomena sweeping the “evangelical churches.”  Personally I think that the pastors want you to be rich so that you don’t mind paying for their mansions quite so much.  As far as God is concerned I seem to recall Jesus stating that it is “harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven.”  The problem is that no one here really cares much about God or Christianity as church is a social event where/nursery/baby sitting service/dating club.   As for the 10% thing well apparently that comes from the Bible when Jacob promised to giev God 10% of everything he had in return for having a safe journey.  How that translates to me paying 10% of my annual salary for a bunch of 18 year olds to go on “bonding” trips to Cancun is beyond me.

“To Rome or not to Rome ?” – That is the question

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Next year my wife and I plan to visit England.  The last time we went was 2004 so we decided visits should now always coincide with Olympic years not so much because we like watching athletics on the BBC but more so because the exchange rate means that the UK is so bloody expensive now that we can only afford to go there once every four years !  Anyway my wife would like to take advantage of one of these Ryanair “fly for the price of a bag of crisps ( which is more food than you can ever expect to be served on our cheapskate flight)” deals to visit Italy for a day or so whilst over there.  She has never been there and my daughter is pretty excited about meeting Pinocchio since she seems to think we’ll run into him in Rome.  The fact that she has already met the string-less wonder at Disneyworld hasn’t dampened her excitement.  I have been to Italy more times than Paris Hilton has been drunk so I am trying to convince my family members that if we do take a trip within a trip that it should be to somewhere else.

I would like to visit either Bulgaria or Denmark for the simple reason that I have never been to either nation before.  When I was a kid I had a weird obsession with Denmark which lead my Dad to think I had some kind of trace memory from our ancient ancestors who were marauding vikings that made their way to Ireland and started our clan on the emerald isle.  He seemed to think there must be some deeper reason behind my desire as a 7 year old to move to the Nordic nation but in reality the only motive behind my childhood plan was to go there and buy a soccer shirt.  Back in the mid 80’s Denmark had a shirt that was red on on side and thin red and white stripes on the other.  Somehow in my mind this seemed like the most attractive looking piece of clothing ever created and that coupled with the fact that Preben Elkjaer scored a hat-rick against Uruguay in the first world cup match I ever watched was the driving force behind my first emigration bid.  When I was 19 I almost went to Denmark once when my mate Deacon found a deal to go on a “cruise” there for 40 quid round trip.  It sounded great but when I realised that it actually involved sharing bunk beds with 3 other people (two of whom would be complete strangers – probably Swedish chef looking style serial killers) and a grand total of 4 hours ashore in the land of bacon I decided it was better to pay 129 quid to ride on a rickety old bus to Prague for 5 days instead.  I am sure that in reality Denmark has more to offer than classic Hummell soccer shirts but beyond bacon, legoland and a recently defaced statue of the little mermaid I am not exactly sure what !  Therefore the only way to find out is to show up there and asked the first basin headed blond that I run into where the party is.

Bulgaria is another country I have never been to despite the best efforts of a NYC based “Bulgarian” dentist to lure me there and pay 16 times the price I ended up paying in Romania for my recent mouth renovation.  Back in the day I recall Bulgaria was little more than a place for weightlifters, Papal assassins and people who use poison umbrellas to kill Russian dissidents but apparently today it is a Mecca for Brits.  You know a place has come of age as a tourist destination when even some of my parents less than worldly neighbours have been there and at the last count they knew at least 3 sets of middle aged Sawbridgeworth based couples who have recently made the trip.   When I first went to Eastern Europe in the 90’s these same people reacted as if I had just visited Alpha Centuri so either Hristo Stoichkov and co. have come a long way or the good people of Sawbo have been priced out of their usual haunts on the Costa-Lotta.   For my part I did once eat a can of Bulgarian luncheon meat in Budapest that was covered in green fungus and more recently I discovered that the father of one of my daughters pre-K friends once represented Bulgaria as an Olympic gymnast so I am not totally in the dark about the place.

Bulgaria like Denmark was a place I wanted to visit as a child.  I had no desire to purchase the rather bland looking Bulgarian 1986 world cup soccer shirt but I did think it would be a good idea for me to go there as a 9 year old and explain to the people that being communist was pretty stupid.  Luckily for me the people there realised that long before I showed up and since then it fell off my radar until this whole Ryanair thing came up with my wife.  She seems to think that the basis for choosing where to go should be what the country has to offer as a destination.  I am more concerned with satisfying my obsessive compulsive desire to have a red dot on my world map showing that I have been to every country in Europe and I don’t want to “waste” an opportunity by visiting a country I have already been to a thousand times.  I guess we will see what happens and in reality we will no doubt discover that the cheap flights have more stipulations than loan from a Scottish bank but hopefully my wife will realise that whilst we could climb the leaning tower of Pisa, marvel at the piazza Michelangelo or stand in awe at the size of the Coliseum that we could also more importantly tick one more country off my “must visit” list and surely that is what travel is all about.

Experts view of EPCOT : Skip the Golfball !!!

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 I was having a bizarre dream during the early hours of Saturday morning about a demon that had somehow possessed my parents house in England.  I cunningly tricked the hellish beast into manifesting himself in human form so that I could kill him (clever huh ?) when the annoyingly shrill sound of my alarm clock woke me from my slumber.  I had a really bad headache, my nose was running and I felt close to death and yet whilst it was still dark on a Sunday morning my wife had decided to have an early start.  This could mean only one thing :  We were going to go to Disney for the day !

Living in Gainesville we’re able to pop down to Orlando pretty frequently since it’s only a 2 hour drive or $37 dollars worth of gas in today’s terms.  As Florida residents we have “seasonal passes” which basically cost a couple of hundred dollars each and allow you to go to any Disney park all year long with the exception of certain blackout dates. (Christmas week, Easter and mid summer)    Since I am a fairly rational human being I have no desire to ever be at Disney on say 4th July with a million sun burnt and sweaty yanks and Englishmen waiting in 4 hour lines for “It’s a small world” and complaining about the humidity so the blackout dates suit me down to the ground.  This Sunday was our last day chance to go before the summer blackout commenced and we decided to spend the day at the least (?) popular park, EPCOT.

I actually like EPCOT because it’s a bit more laid back than the other 3 parks.  During the “Food and Wine Festival” in October you can buy cheap Czech beer and of course Carlsberg which is “probably the best lager in the world.”  Other selling points include a gift shop that sells “Mr Men” books and an awesome restaurant that revolves whilst you eat.  I had read about a similar restaurant in North Korea and was trying to negotiate my way to Pyongyang when I heard that the “Garden Grill” had the same capability and not only that but rather than eating lunch with evil dictator Kim Jung Il you get to eat alongside Goofy and the chipmunks !!!

Most newcomers to EPCOT are drawn towards the giant golf ball as they enter the park and that is where a little Disney know how comes in handy.  Whilst the naive fools are waiting in a long line for the first ride they see I head to “Test Track” and get a few quick rides in before anyone else has even finished learning about Michelangelo and cavemen on “Spaceship Earth.”  If you wait until after about 10am then you can expect to wait for a good hour at the major attractions but the smart people (that’s me) get a few early rides in AND then get “fast passes” to come back later.  I love strolling past the newbies in their long line with my “Fast Pass” but in truth if they actually opened their eyes they could do the exact same thing.  For some reason many people feel like they are cheating or something if they use fast passes but to me it is a no brainer.  Recently we were at the Magic Kingdom and it was 4pm.  The wait time for the ride was 1 hour and you could get a fast pass that allowed you to return at 5pm !  OK so I could either stand here for the next hour and go on the ride or get a fast pass, go away and have fun elsewhere for an hour before coming back here and walking straight onto the ride ?!!!  Oddly enough about 4000 people decided to wait in line whilst I went on another ride and got an ice cream before rejoining them on the ride at 5pm.

One ride I dislike at EPCOT is “Soarin” and that is because it is bloody scary !  I suffer from vertigo and somehow I can’t get my brain to realise that it is just a fake hang glider in front of a giant TV screen.  The ride sways a little and they have fake wind blowing you around as you pass over California but the stupid thing is that when we seem to be high over the mountains I feel really nervous and when we seem to be nearer to the ground I relax.  In truth the fake glider is at the same height all along but somehow even though I know this I still freak out that I might plummet to my death or be eaten by a grizzly if I survive the fall ! 

For people who want something more mellow you can ride on “El Rio del Tiempo” or as I call it “The Mexican ride”.  The ride takes you inside a pyramid and features sites and sounds of the country that rednecks most fear: Mexico.  The ride has been updated recently to feature video footage of Donald Duck and a couple of other birds that at one time featured in some kind of b-movie Disney flop that I’ve never heard of.  I used to like the old version of this ride because it was so dated.  There used to be video screens showing you what vacations where like in Cancun and they featured sleazy men from the seventies with huge sideburns and bouffants of curly hair slithering their way to swim up bars where a bevvy of blonde’s who made Charlies Angels look unkempt waited impatiently for their over size cocktail glasses to be filled by a man who looked like Manuel from “Fawlty Towers”.  There also was a video montage from the seventies of some weird people doing an Aztec ceremony which used to seem nice enough until I saw “Apocalypto” since when I am glad it has gone because I can barely look at a pyramid these days without picturing either a headless body or Mel Gibson and I am not sure which is worse but either way that video has been replaced by a cartoon now.

The day at EPCOT is never complete without a ride on “Mission Space” which is the most intense ride in Orlando.  Gary Sinise gives the same speech each time before you board the flight to Mars and no matter how many times you ride it the G-force never gets any easier to deal with.  I always liked Gary Sinise even if he is best known as “that bloke who always has a role in Tom Hanks films” and if I were ever going to leave the planet Earth he is the kind of guy who I would trust to train me for life in space.  My daughter seemed to think we actually went to Mars and I jokingly praised her for helping us avoid the asteroid field we had encountered on the way.  She admitted to having been worried we’d crash but the she explained that “Astronauts never give up.”  I didn’t even know she knew what an astronaut was but evidently at age 5 she has already decided upon starting a career at NASA.  I guess at least that will allow her to make regular visits to Disney 20 years from now !

The Best Kids TV Shows Ever !!!!!

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1. “Boy from Space” – “Look and Read” : This was a popular TV show in the 80’s that kids would watch at about 11 am each day as a break from class.  The host Wordey was a legless red faced little man who would fly around chanting “Magic Magic E”.  Nobody realised at the time that he was a pioneering drug pusher getting ready for the era of raves.  “Boy From Space” was one of the stories featured in the show and it revolved around a couple of alien kids who looked like the children of the damned but with blue suits that appeared to be made from tissue paper and a language that only the teacher from Charlie Brown could imitate.  The actual episodes were all of 5 minutes long at the end of each “Look and read” segment and sci-fi obsessed kids all over Britain waited with baited breath each week for the latest fun installment.  The “Dark Towers” story was also a classic but the little lad from the stars was the pick of the bunch.

2.”Newsround”: with John Craven:  It may seem odd to highlight a kids news show as being a cult TV classic but the sad reality is that Craven and his sidekicks produced a 10 minute show containing more real news items than you’d see after a year of watching Fox and or MSNBC today.  I particularly liked the endless reports on giant Panda’s and space shuttle launches.

3.”The Flumps”: Long before that northern bloke was winning Oscars for dull films about Wallace and his dog the BBC had set the standard for animation with “The Flumps”  This was easily the best show of its genre and one of the all time classic moments of television was when Grandpa flump got stuck in his Flumpaphone.

4.”Mr Benn” : This guy was the ultimate master of disguise.  Every week he went to some kind of fancy dress shop and disappeared through the dressing room into many weird and wonderful places.  He tried his hand at being everything from a cowboy to a clown but his real brilliance was in his ability to persuade the shopkeeper to let him keep trying on costumes all the time without ever buying a single item from the store.

5.”The A-Team”: In this era of cheesy remakes I am surprised that no one has decided to make a big screen version of the greatest US TV show of all time : The A-Team.  I bet George Clooney would like a stint as Hannibal alongside Jim Carey as Murdoch and perhaps Di Caprio as Face.  BA would be harder to cast but perhaps DMX would be the man for the job and it would be the kind of thing that could lead to at least 3 or 4 sequels which is right up Clooneys alley.

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6. “Tim Tyler “(aka Timm Thaler) : This was a German classic about a kid whose laugh was stolen by an evil Baron in 1970’s Berlin (?)  The show was great because the worst sound editors in the history of television hired some drunk B movie actors to dub it into English and during the whole series not one word was uttered by a character in English at the same time his mouth was in motion.  Aside from the cheap production this show was also memorable for the flairs and hippie hairstyles that defined an otherwise forgettable era.

7. “Degrassi Junior High” : This was Canada’s answer to Grange Hill and was so terrible that it was actually  good for its utter patheticness.  I remember that one episode caused a stir as it featured the revelation that one of the teachers was a lesbian before the old BBC watershed.  Oddly enough the BBC didn’t buy a lot of shows from the land where people say “aye” after the ratings for this one were compiled but I still have a soft spot for it.

8.”Silas”: The people who dubbed this Polish gem into English did a marginally better job than their counterparts had done with Tim Tyler but the real issue was the fact that phrases that take about two syllables to say in English take 5 minutes to say in Polish and vice versa.  I remember that Silas was harrased by an nefarious harridan who was known simply as “The Old Shrew”.  I can’t remember the plot of the show but basically it involved around a kid riding around on a horse and every  week it had the same cliffhanger ending as he crossed paths with his nemesis and he exclaimed “the shrew”  Brilliant !

9. “Airwolf”: Some people may remember Ernest Borgnine as the Roman soldier at the foot of the cross or as the cop who married a hooker in “The Poseidon Adventure” but I remember him most fondly as the pilot of the best helicopter ever built, Airwolf.  This show had a simple message:  Criminals beware of copters loaded to the brim with machine guns because no matter where you run Ernie will blow your head off.  This was much better than anything you’ll see on CSI, eat your heart out David Caruso.

10. “Neighbours”: Not technically a kids show but try telling that to anyone who grew up in the UK in the late eighties.  So many kids were skipping school to watch this Aussie classic that the BBC moved it to the 5.30 spot after “Blue Peter” which had usually been reserved for shows like “Doctor Who” or “Friday film: The Glitterball.”  I was skiving off school in 1987 when the first episode was broadcast and after I saw Max Ramsey lose his temper, Des fall for stripper Daphne and Shane introduce the southern hemisphere to the mullet there was no looking back.

HEROES : THE SHOW NBC CAN’T AFFORD TO CANCEL

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If only the writers of “Jericho” had decided to end their season in the same manner the “Heroes” writers did !!!  Alas !  Whilst one show wrapped up nicely the other was cast into the abyss never to see the joy of being listed on the TVGuide channel again.

Last nights episode of “Heroes” did leave us wondering about one or two things although for the most part the story tied up a lot of loose ends.  I wonder if Siler is still alive because the last shot seemed to suggest his blood soaked body had made it’s way down a nearby man hole.  I have a feeling he will be back in some shape or form.  It was pretty cool when whacko Nikki/Jessica/blondie bimbo smacked the crap out of him but I would have liked to have seen everyone pile in a bit more.  It would have been like one of those times at school when some fat kid wouldyell “Bundle” and everybody would jump on top of the skinny kid until a teacher would finally intervene and extract his lifeless form.  I would have liked to have seen Micah bop him on the nose and I am sure Clare’s Dad would have liked to get a kick in as well.  Clare’s Dad is pretty cool actually if you can overlook the fact that he once tried to murder Doctor Who aka the Invisible bloke.  He actually reminds me of my old boss at work who was a little odd but a decent enough bloke.  Sadly Clare’s Dad has since been replaced by Tony Soprano as my boss but that’s another story.

One thing that I didn’t quite understand was why Peter had to get Nathans help to fly.  The last I knew he was just as capable a flier as he was a nuclear bomber after being exposed to the powers of both caveman Ted and evil Nate.  I guess it’s possible that he can only use one power at a time or perhaps the radiation was too overwhelming for him to think about jetting off in space.  Either way I still think Nathan is a prat because of his overall slimy sleaze bag attitude to Clare, her weirdo hippie Mum and well just society in general.  Hopefully he was incinerated without causing too much of a hike in the global warming process but I want Pete to return next year because he has pretty much become the star of the show.

The producers have said that they plan to make the show more like “24” than “Lost” in as far as it will have season long storylines rather than one continuous tale.   We have several questions though to be answered after this season like:  How did everyone know there was going to be a bomb and why were they cool with that ?  Who is the boogey man who makes Siler seem no more menacing thanRonald McDonald ?  Will they do what day time soaps often do and replace the kid actors with teen actors once they realise it’s hard to carry a story with two 7 year old kids ?  Will Ted get a role on ABC’s new sitcom based upon the Geico caveman commercials ?  Will the insurance company cough up to replace Clare’s house or will they say that nuclear explosions aren’t covered in the policy ?  Will Mr Sulu pass on his old yellow Enterprise shirt to Hiro or will he give him the red one he wore in the movies ?  Will Christopher Ecclestone find a third new sci-fi show to appear on for one year as a smart arse Mancunian ?  These are the things I am left pondering but the good news is that NBC have commissioned 30 new episodes for next year so whilst we’re all sitting around watching repeats of “Lost” on ABC and re-runs of “The Price is right” in “Jerichos” old slot we can at least rest easy in the knowledge that at least we have one show left that actually fulfills us.

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