Month: May 2015

“We Just Are…”

evolution-of-geekHuman beings are a cruel, selfish, even spiteful species. We’re hard-wired to favour the strongest in our own tribes and to pick off the weakest in our rivals’. We’re cowards. We divide this planet of ours into little patches and assert our rule over what we claim as our bit using objects that are designed to hurt or kill, all while we slowly (or not so slowly, as the case may be) kill the planet we’re fighting over. We aren’t nice, generally. We’re a bunch of c**ts, to be honest. We are. It’s not our fault – this is how we were made to be, this is our natural state. It’s how we are. When asked why we’re so selfish, or so violent, the answer – as a species – can only be “we just are!”.

But every now and then something fizzles in our circuitry and we do something unusual, something against our programming. Sometimes something happens that changes the way we “just are”. Most of the time this little bug in our programming is tiny, insignificant and often goes largely unnoticed. But it means so much. This “nice thing” that breaks through all that nastiness we’ve been hampered with creates ripples that reach out a great distance. Whether it’s a progressive government making big changes for the common good on a planetary scale or a tiny act of selflessness in one shop, on one street, from one person… what I’m saying is, whether it’s an act big enough to break our “selfish genes” at the seams or just poke a small hole in the pocket of them, that act matters.

All very philosophical, right? Or cod-so anyway. What got me thinking about this tonight is something I witnessed on the bus on my way home from work. A drunk guy got on, heading home to a friend’s house early from a stag party he’d been on. He didn’t know exactly where he was going so the bus driver spoke to him and asked where-ish his friend is from, etc. After a short exchange they figured out between them sort-of-where the guy needed to get off the bus. The drunk guy sneezed and hiccuped his way through his journey and, just as he was getting off the bus – on the driver’s cue – he said “Thanks Mate, have a safe night!” and wandered off to find his bed.

Just a little exchange but it made me smile. Firstly, the driver and the guy  – neither of whom knew one another – worked together to solve the puzzle of where the guy needed to be. No arguments or ego, just two strangers puzzling out a lost destination. Then the driver gave the guy the nod when it was time to alight. And then the drunk guy simply wished the driver a safe night. Two strangers – “of separate tribes” – each taking the trouble to assure the welfare and safety of the other. Nothing major, just a “be safe”. And sometimes, that’s all it takes. The driver got his fare home safely, the drunk guy (presumably) got to bed. And, unbeknown to either of them, I was inspired to write this blog.

Funny old things, aren’t we?


Becoming A Dog Person

You know those people – you know the ones! – who keep trying to show you photos of their bloody dog and say things like “I swear he thinks he’s human!” when telling you about the time he pissed on the bathroom floor (“Almost there! Good boy!”)…? You know those people? I bloody hate those people.

But like everything I hate, I’m becoming one of them. We went to Bournemouth a few weeks back to choose a puppy and put our deposit down. We’ve chosen a beautiful little Miniature Schnauzer boy and we’re calling him Digby. We’ve already got most of the stuff he needs – bed, toys, brushes, etc. Now we just have to wait to bring him home.


Isn’t he beautiful?! He’s going to be a real handful, I think. No doubt, if you follow me on Twitter or if we’re friends on Facebook, you’ll know all about how Digby’s doing as time goes on. We won’t have him home with us until after our honeymoon – we collect him on June 27th. Then, he’s all ours!

So, I know I’m being annoying. I know I’m boring you. I know you probably don’t really care that much. But I’m sorry. I think you’re going to have to get to know our little boy, whether you want to or not. Look at him. Look at that little face! LOOK!

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (BBC One)

Finally, the day is come! Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susannah Clarke’s epic novel of pseudo-historical, magical realism featuring rival magicians who may also be best friends, has been given a place on our screens! The BBC is airing a seven-part adaptation, the first part of which was shown last weekend. And it is fabulous!

jnI won’t spoil anything, plot-wise, but I would like to enthuse on the perfect casting. I also should say I’m enthralled by the sublime design and the welcome loyalty to the novel. This first episode covers the main points of the novel’s first eight or nine chapters and it does well in keeping the tone and scale of the story without the pages and pages of flowering descriptive prose.

Paul-Kaye-actor-BBC-fantasy-drama-Jonathan-Strange-Mr-Norrell-interview-David-Stephenson-577698So, casting: Bertie Carvel is amazing and annoying as Jonathan Strange, second magician to Eddie Marsan’s Norrell. Marsan is and was always the only choice for the irritable, hermit-like genius. Amazing. Also shining are Paul Kaye as yellow-curtain street-magician Vinculus and Enzo Cilenti as Childermass, Cockney nutbag and Northern growler, respectively. Again, amazing.


And, without giving too much away, Marc Warren’s Gentleman is chilling, if a little more aggressively evil than I imagined when I read the book. But no matter! The casting, across the board, is perfect. If I had drawn up a casting wishlist it’d be a mass of lines through names as my favourites are crossed off. I did this and Kaye and Marsan were on my list some years ago, for the roles they have now got. I am a happy bunny.


Clarke’s novel is massive. Hundreds and hundreds of pages, spanning decades. Some of its imagery is difficult to picture. How they’ll realise it is anyone’s guess! But here’s the thing: for all its wonder and wandering, its scale, scope and size, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a story about people. And the people in this BBC adaptation are just spot on. It’s going to be an odd series, full of surreal and unconventional set-pieces, which I’m destined to love. I hope you’ll love it too.

BBC One, 9pm, Sunday nights.