Monday, 30 June 2008

Dead Pets Society

Sadly due to the football, and yes I'm guilty of this too, very few people turned up before around 10 for the second Dead Pets Society.

Also I assume because everyone was celebrating, and in the odd instance sulking into their beers, at the pubs and houses that they had chosen to watch the match at it wasn't as well attended as the first.

Criminal really considering what a brilliant was played, well for most of it I must confess to not being massively into some of the later tracks but I was definitely in the minority.

I'm certainly looking forward to the next installment of mash up madness.

And you lot, whoever you are, should come along to.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Day eleven in the NATO Northwood headquarters - last day

Day eleven in the NATO exercise and there is a distinct hang over vibe going on.

Nick is the most "ill", I feel pretty good to my surprise thought I was going to feel like the pits.

My head on the other hand is really not co-operating.

Nick ends up getting very upset about my copy, his head probably wasn't helping, you have to hand it to the boy he can spot even subtle mistakes when he feels like shit - I reckon that's something worth sticking on the CV.

Michael tells us he has certificates for us, but he isn't going to give them to us.


Nick's name is spelt wrong, I am called Mrs Sarah Morgan, Ciaran is called Mrs Ciaran Gold (in case you haven't picked up this fact Ciaran is a guy) and Jess, well, doesn't even have one!

The Navy eh, so efficient.

We all finish at 12 and I have my last lunch courtesy of NATO.

Then I head back to the B&B to pick up my stuff and head home.

It feels really weird leaving Northwood, I literally haven't left the place since I arrived - not even one stop on the tube!

We'll see how I adjust to the real, non-exercise, world.

It feels great to get back to a bit more freedom though.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Day ten in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day ten in the NATO exercise and everyone apart from Mia is back from the ships so there was next to nothing from Spain.

As a result another quiet day, spent wondering what articles we could make up to pad out the scenario.

I ended up making up a bit of a heart wrenching, or at least what I tried to make heart wrenching, article on the state that Vaneo (town by the gas explosion) was in a few days after the attack.

Then in the evening I was introduced to what is known as a "beer call", never really come across the term before.

This basically involved everyone who had been involved in the exercise trouping off to a free bar that served beer and cider.

Having had no time to eat and a limited bar opening time I was decidedly tipsy/pissed by the time we went back and I caught most of the first half of the football.

Missed the second half thanks to an ill advised plan of going to see it at the pub, that turned out to be closed - so we ended up at one without a TV.

So I received the final score by text, rubbish.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Day nine in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day nine in the NATO exercise and I'm slightly disappointed that it hasn't prompted any articles from the ships.

So as a result it has been quite a quiet day, with me mainly making up articles and doing the odd inject.

I think I must have been getting a bit restless because I came up with "Ping Pong panned", not my headline, my slightly silly story made up story, which you can have a look at for your own amusement...

PONTEAREAS - The Westland table tennis tournament in Ponteareas was cancelled today due to power shortages caused by the destruction of the Vaneo gas receiving station.

Westland's finest table tennis players are swiping the air following the cancellation of today's tournament.

The games are played indoors, making it impossible for the games to proceed.

"I'm glad it's been cancelled," says Marco Gonzales, one of the competitors. "My cousin died in the Jumblez attack, we were close and my mind has not been on my game."

Other players are simply frustrated, as much because of the overall effect the energy shortage is having as because today's game has been cancelled.

Franco Romero, last year's runner up, said: "I was in a bad mood even before the tournament was cancelled.

"I'm living off cheese sandwiches, it's ridiculous. We need gas".

Yep delirium was definitely setting in.

Also got another fun one about the mastermind behind the attack...

LISBON - Helena Ricardo has been revealed as the mastermind behind yesterday's suicide attack at the Vaneo gas receiving station.

A Dorian from Westland, who does not wish to be named, claims that he overheard Jumblez militia talking about Helena's role in the attack. They were talking about the attack in a bid to recruit Dorians from one of the refugee camps.

Ricardo was highly trained in explosives, martial arts and artillery at a Jumblez camp in the Pyrenees. She previously worked for the Jumblez Northland government as an intelligence operative, during their brief spell in power from January to March 2008.

When the leadership were indicted, by the International Criminal Tribunal for Northland, she went underground. She was believed to have been accidentally killed in May when Northland and the UN were disarming Jumblez but in fact she was just injured and went off to train in Uliz.

Her training was clearly advanced enough for her to have orchestrated the highly sophisticated attack on the Vaneo gas receiving station in Westland, which resulted in the deaths of 82 people.

My original article said that she was severely disfigured.

But as "Helena" was a re-working of an English name of someone on the team who said she'd like to be part of the scenario everyone was worried she might be offended.

I was honestly just being creative, but Michael decided it was some kind of "chick thing"..?

Monday, 23 June 2008

Day eight in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day eight in the NATO exercise and we have finally reached what we like to call “shitstorm” day.

We found out about it last week, I think Wednesday, day three.

Basically they were planning to pretend that there had been a terrorist attack on a gas receiving station and distribution centre.

To make sure that our articles came out making sense they gave us all this time to research what would happen if something like this occurred in real life, so I’ve had great fun over the last couple of days weaving works of fiction based on the facts we had at our disposal.

So today all we had to do was fire off e-mail after e-mail until they had been hit by forty stories from the four of us: articles detailing the attack, human interest stories, energy price stories, economic stories and political analysis stories (my favourite) all as fall out from the attack.

I would have liked to see the effect that this deluge was having but I can guess that it wasn’t that pretty.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Day seven in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day seven in the NATO exercise and I’m getting a bit tired to be honest, not really physically more mentally.

It doesn’t feel like a weekend so I was surprised after lunch when I was greeted by Sunday papers, which always irritates me as there is rarely anything in the Sunday publications that I want to read.

Apologies if today’s blog is more like a diary than usual but although I did find articles I wanted to blog about in today’s paper, despite it being a Sunday, I promptly forgot it when I got home.

Football didn’t inspire me either, still I guess it’s a trade off against yesterday’s game.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Day six in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day six in the NATO exercise and I’m wondering where my brain has gone.

I used to have this lovely, sharp brain that used its initiative and was generally pretty on the ball.

Now I have a brain more like this guy that I went out with for a bit at University.

Nothing wrong with the brain as such, academically quite astute, just incapable of coping with picking up details, or in his case opening his own door.

Needless to say I feel bad for having laughed at him now, even if it was an affectionate laugh.

I don’t want his brain.

I want my brain.

The worrying thing is I’m not entirely sure when I lost it.

I think it had definitely gone missing round the middle of last term.

There was certainly no sign of it over the summer term or in the past couple of weeks.

It doesn’t help that the brains of the people around me seem to be perfectly fine.

They haven’t lost, wounded or inebriated theirs.

It’s just not fair.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Day five in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day five in the NATO exercise and I feel a bit more confident, hopefully that will last.

I’m battling with Jens Lekman alongside all the work.

I can’t quite decide whether I like him or not.

I only really like I’m Leaving You Because I Don’t Love You and Friday Night At The Drive In.

They are all incredibly twee, but those two are a bit more bearable, in fact fuck it I actually quite like them.

The end of the day and the boss of the guy who’s in charge of us came in.

I think I must have been a cow in another life because I had quite a bad foot in mouth moment in an attempt to be chatty.

That’s the problem with being chatty sometimes it just comes round and bites you in the foot.

Ah well, I doubt I’ll see him again.

Yay Turkey!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Day four in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day four in the NATO exercise and I’m losing faith in my ability to write good copy.

The second article that I submitted to be sent out at 12.30 needed significant re-working by “nice Nick”, because the details were confused.

So it ended up going out after 12.30 even though I handed it over for subbing at 11.30.

In my defence I had been given one inject the day before and then a slightly conflicting inject today and as I had written up some of the story it might have lost some of its sense in the re-working process.

But either way it wasn’t good for the ego.

I clocked a painting of Thatcher from the Falklands conflict at lunch today.

Oh joy!

But hurrah, no quiet time today.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Day three in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day three in the NATO exercise and things are getting a lot more interesting.

We’re actually working ahead of time now.

By the end of the day I had written one story that went out at 11, started one story and completed another for tomorrow and even started writing two for Friday.

As a result of this very weird false reality set up I was able to be busy all day and was thus a lot happier.

Oddly you can tell when I’ve got more on because the posts are shorter, perverse that.

Now I’ve just finished watching Russia vs Sweden, it’s always nice to be surprised.

I’m sure that there’s more Family Guy to come…

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Day two in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day two in the NATO exercise and I’ve finally written a story.

I started writing it up yesterday from a two line inject, but I had to wait till today for the quotes to write it up properly.

It felt good to be writing about something that wasn’t diet related, even if it was for a fake scenario it was still more interesting than how many calories there are in your average smoothie.

When that was done I went back to listening to some music because things were still a bit quiet.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to listen to The Killers, All These Things That I’ve Done…

“I got soul but I’m not a soldier…”

After doing preparation for another story for tomorrow I went to lunch and on my return discovered that I have some old episodes of South Park saved on my laptop.

I think it would be taking the piss to watch them in work hours, but it means I have something to entertain me at the B&B if the TV’s bad.

I don’t have the internet at the B&B due to the wi-fi not working properly on my machine.


Watched Italy vs France in the evening, which was quite fun and given France’s performance so far I was quite pleased they didn’t go through.

Then more Family Guy before bed, am I getting old or what?

Monday, 16 June 2008

Day one in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Well today I found out that even doing NATO exercises could be boring.

As an add-on to our course, in the sense that not everyone does it and it isn’t assessed, I’ve been taking part in a NATO navy training exercise.

The idea is that whilst NATO does their normal training exercises in a fictitious country they are trailed around by journalists asking them questions, alongside more journalists subbing stories and asking supplementary questions from base camp, to train them in dealing with the media.

I am one of the journalists at base camp, which is obviously less exciting than running around a ship where the action is taking place but I still thought it would be quite fun.

As it turns out on our first day everyone was frustrated, partly because things were just being set up. But also partly due to the fact that the Spanish NATO force, which is role playing the scenario on this occasion, were refusing to tell the on-board journalists anything because they didn’t have security clearance.

Of course this is the time that I realise that the only game I have on my computer is chess, which is all well and good but it’s not the best thing to play when you’re killing time.

I don’t have the internet on my computer here, so I can’t kill time on Facebook, YouTube and Hotmail, or any of the other scourges of office management.

And no I can’t send my friends texts, because they have mobile blockers here – they sap your battery down to nothing so you can’t use your phone, I knew this in advance, so my phone was at home.

At first it was odd being surrounded by people in Navy uniforms, but soon enough this fact fades into the background.

They pay for all my meals here provided I have breakfast at the hotel and lunch and dinner in the mess.

And they pay for the hotel and give me a wage in return for me doing something that I love doing anyway.

Yes, it’s all a bit jammy.

Anyway, back to food.

Lunch was unremarkable, but you know it was free.

I must admit I felt intimidated by the hall with its high ceiling and modern chandeliers, I hope it didn’t show.

On sitting down I looked casually to my right to be greeted by a full length portrait of the Queen and Prince Philip, I have to say that was a bit freaky – the republican in me was screaming: “get me out of here!”

Then we went into a lounge area for coffee, well everyone else drank coffee I just stayed to be sociable, and I managed to read one article in the newspaper before we had to head back, to doing not a lot.

In the evening we went to the awful local pub for a quite frankly equally awful pub quiz.

Ciaran and Nick sulked as a result, they took real exception to the questions in the sports round, while me and Becky just laughed a lot – at them, the questions and our difficulty in answering them.

I kept half an eye on the football, but to be honest it wasn’t that inspiring so it was more like an eighth of an eye by the end.

Then we traipsed home to watch yet more family guy.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Don't Miss This

I’ve been avin’ it large in Manchester.

A friend of mine runs a club night in Manchester called Don’t Miss This, she’s also just started a new one in London called Dead Pets Society, which I always go along to if I can.

This Friday was one of those occasions when I could.

So I packed myself onto a train, which I booked that morning, to head up.

No one was free to meet me when I turned up, so I settled myself in The Piccadilly to wait for the people who were heading up.

By the time they turned up I had ordered myself some curly fries, which proved able to dry my mouth out in seconds – still, I was hungry.

When they had all arrived we moved onto to another, nicer, bar that served Space Raiders and Transformers behind the bar.

It’s SO much better than paying 50p or more for a bag of Walkers, McCoys or whatever.

Then we headed over to The Retro Bar for Don’t Miss This.

As always Dolly and John played a great selection of songs that had me dancing loads with a huge great smile on my face.

Not as always there was a wig theme and thankfully even though I had forgotten to get a wig John lent me one and by the end of the night I had tried pretty much everyone’s on for size.

I got to see what I looked like as a Pat Sharp, Zoe Wannamaker or alternatively someone out of Chumbawamba.

I was tempted to cut my hair Zoe Wannamaker style permanently, but then it would look bad growing out when I inevitably decide to grow it long again.

I also discovered that having a wig stopped me obsessively scratching my head, something I inexplicably started doing almost a month ago now.

Odd that.

Friday, 13 June 2008

he loves me, he loves me not

Someone gave me the french film he loves me, he loves me not a while ago and I've only just got round to watching it.

You lucky people you are spared my usual rant and you'll be getting more of a film review.

Saying that I'm not entirely sure what to say about this film...

It's beautifully shot, much like Amelie another Audrey Tautou film.

I liked it, but I wasn't blown away.

Perhaps because I didn't really know what to feel throughout, which is odd given it's a film about emotion, love - all be it obsessive love.

Tautou plays Angelique a talented art student who is in love with a cardiologist called Loic (Samuel Le Bihan), who is married with a child on the way.

The film plays out the story of her obsession rather tenderly and Tautou plays the insanity very well.

My main preoccupation throughout the film was the handsome medical student who loves Angelique, wondering why on earth she would obsess about a rather plain fair haired man over a younger, handsome guy who is devoted to her.

Still there is no accounting for people's hearts I suppose, or rather their brains, I doubt an organ that is little more than a pump has much to do with it.

The film explores the power of our emotions and how they drive us to do awful and frightening things.

The ending is poignant and perhaps a little disturbing, but I oddly ended the film feeling happy.

I can't really say anymore about why I felt this without ruining the film.

I might watch it again to show to someone who hadn't seen it and I'd recommend it, but not too highly, it isn't a classic.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Bath, embarrassment, new words and sunshine.

I decided that Melissa needed to get away for a bit and this was also a great excuse for me to have a holiday too.

So we went to Bath.

Bath wasn't the original plan, in fact we tried to find cheap places to stay in Brighton, Leeds and Cambridge before we settled on the £15 per person per night digs at the YMCA.

We went by coach to save money and it wasn't the hideous journey I expected, it turned out to be quite nice, I slept most of the drive though.

After a lot of ambling around and asking helpful Bath folk directions we made it to the YMCA.

The room was simple and clean with a sink, cupboard, two chairs and of course two beds.

We headed straight out to get some late lunch and followed this with some drinks at The Pig and Fiddle.

Unfortunately the cider that Melissa bought was flat, she had me taste some and finish the bit at the end, it was horrible.

We then headed back to the hostel to get changed and go out.

We stayed in the first pub we went to, the Sam Wellers, for most of the night so it deserves a mention if only for the scrummy steak and mussels - between us we managed to finish most of it.

The next morning I got up at ten to nine to dash downstairs to get breakfast before you started having to pay for it, then went back to the room again and promptly fell asleep again until 12/12.30.

No idea what we did for lunch, but we got lost looking for a park, which we did finally find with help.

It was a gorgeous sunny day so we just lay out in the sun sleeping and chatting, not at the same time obviously.

Then we headed back into town and found Sally Lunns where we had high tea, which consisted of bread and smoked salmon, soup and bread, sweet bread and clotted cream and jam and tea of course - good job we shared it.

Then we went back and changed and went to The Huntsmen for a comedy tour of Bath, which we were late for because we got lost again.

As a result we didn't pay and when he asked to see arm bands about ten or so minutes in we ran away in embarrassment.

We then ended up in The Volunteer Rifleman's Arms due to encouragement from the two blokes sitting outside.

It turned out to be very cheap and rather lovely.

Melissa baffled the barman, Matt (Chef), by saying she was pickish as she wanted to say she was peckish and wanted to pick at food.

Thus Pickish was born.

It's our bid for Oxford Dictionary fame.

We got talking to the barman and his mates, who didn't understand why we had taken so long to find their wonderful pub.

If I ever go back to Bath, I think three days is more than enough in one go and perhaps for a few years, I'll go there every bloody night, till they bar me!

Thursday saw us wandering round the Roman Baths, which so wasn't worth the £9 entrance (and that's the student rate), but you have to do these things and it was nice just not that nice.

Then we went home, which is where I am now.

Final word: Bath was nice, but I love London.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Indy's BACK, but you knew that right

Ok so I went to see Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last Wednesday, but you know I'm not the most organised of people - I should have just said that it needed lots of contemplation shouldn't I?

Anyway, let's get to the point shall we - well I say we it's me really isn't it, you aren't writing this.

The beginning places you firmly in the 50s and the middle of semi desert terrain.

And of course in the first ten minutes people are already getting shot down with machine guns.

Then finally our hero appears, shortly followed by Cate Blanchett, with a decidedly dodgy Eastern European accent - honestly I thought she was better than that.

I thought they'd take ages to bring in the rumoured sci-fi element, but no they launch straight in with it, which is one of my main criticisms of the film most Indy films develop and build and then draws you in.

This one hits you round the head, drags you home and fucks your brains out.

Very rude and not in a nice way either.

I mean the action was great and I did enjoy it, but at points you're like: did you really need THAT many waterfalls?

Or, why is Shia's character so dumb that he can't work out how to swing on a vine without the help of a monkey?

It probably isn't surprising then that the dialogue is below par, what there is is ok, but it's mainly one liners and there isn't the extent and quality of script that I expect from an Indy film.

One massive hurrah for the return of Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), by far the best Indy love interest.

She's straight talking, she doesn't take his shit, she's very attractive and my God can she handle her drink, hats off to her!

The end is predictable, well almost.

However it is quite spectacular, definitely makes good use of the big screen.

I guess all there is left to say at this point is that ultimately I was disappointed by this film, but I've changed my mind - Harrison I still would.