Posts from 26th April 2006

Apr 06

What was I saying about Torquay?

TMFDPost a comment • 487 views

Okay, here’s what I was saying about Torquay, basically that I don’t believe they will go down as they are perennial escape artists of the bottom division, especially when Barnet are involved.
Last three results:
Macclesfield 0-2 Torquay
Torquay 1-0 Wrexham
Torquay 4-0 Stockport.

See! They are still in the relegation zone at the moment, but by one goal. WALK AWAY Ian Atkins!

(If you are a betting man, Macclesfield are 7-1 to go down, and they are nowhere near as safe as a their seventh from bottom position suggests).

21st Century Quaint?

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 418 views

There are pubs called things like The Spinning Jenny – which seem to celebrate some stage in British industrial evolution. And I bet they were not named just as said Jenny’s were new thrusting things in the world. Therefore I cannot help but think the choice of name NANOBYTE for a recently taken over Wetherspoon’s on Wardour Street is more archaically cute than fantastically sad. And Fancyapint seem to agree with me. I think it used to be the Moon And Sixpence – which was a much more archaically made up name for what had probably just been a bank or something – and I don’t think there is anything wrong with calling a pub (and it is clearly a pub) The Nanobyte. It is a bit funny, and one wonders if the owners really think there is anything cool about it. But beyond that question you cannot help but wish good luck on anyone who improves an old Wetherspoon’s.

Of course I cannot say if it has improved, having not been in. I preferred the Dog further down the road. Did pop my head in, and there were no computers or anything (mind you, old Vic 20s, BBC Model Bs and Speccies hanging from the ceiling would have been great).

Also note that fancyapint have a “Gone but not forgotten” section now of closed down pubs. While its sad to see them gone, it is instructive to see that its about a 3:1 ratio of shite pubs to good ones.

Don’t Let Sean Bean Sire Your Daughter

Do You SeePost a comment • 440 views

(People don’t use “sire” in that context much anymore. Actually, I guess they don’t use the word sire in any context that much any more.)

Why? Well in two Sean Bean films in one month, he has a daughter, said daughter gets mixed up in some supernatural shenanigans which you as wife go to sort out, only to find in the last reel twist that you are actually DEAD ALREADY.

Silent Hill is pretty ropey, as we have come to expect from computer to film adaptations. It is a pity because at the heart of it is quite a spooky little picture. But twists to manipulate Radha Mitchell and daughter into Silent Hill in the first place, and the tedium of the explanation of what is actually going on distract from interesting graphic design and a decently spooky air. It is also a good half an hour too long and Sean Bean does some ridiculous Yorkshire / American accent which was misguided from the off.

The Dark is a better film, if only for its brevity and its acceptance that
a) An American woman can marry an Englishman
b) He might go and live in Wales
as being plausible plot points. Indeed there are so many superficial similarities between The Dark and Silent Hill that surely Sean and/or his agent might have noticed and thought doing both could be a bad idea. Enough with the spooky possessed children already anyway. At least The Dark has murderous sheep.

Back! Back!! Bactria!!!

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 227 views

Tom Holland’s Rubicon, a romping story of the Roman Republic’s endgame, was one of my top reads last year so I was relishing getting stuck into Persian Fire, which gives the treatment to the Persian Wars. Holland’s strengths as a historian are clear: he is a fantastic narrator, a brisk marshaller of sources and also has a real gift for thinking through the motives of individual players. His weakness in the last book was also obvious: he’s addicted to making clever parallels between ancient and modern. This can be entertaining – recasting the Persian Wars as “the world’s sole superpower leading a war against two mountainous terrorist states” is smart and amusing, but in Rubicon he hammered the similarities home a bit.

Persian Fire doesn’t push the parallels much beyond the dustjacket blurb, but faces a different problem: as Holland says in his introduction, the earlier history of the classical world is enormously difficult to piece together. And the earlier history of the non-classical world – the mighty Persian empire included – is even more difficult as written sources are almost non-existent. To make matters worse, whereas for Rubicon Holland was working with scrupulously elegant but slightly dry Roman historians, in Persian Fire he is walking in the footsteps of master fabulist Herodotus, a man whose stories often need less embellishment, not more.

Holland keeps as sure a footing as he can but the opening chapters of Persian Fire are often necessarily sketchy, with outlandish yarns retold for a lack of much other evidence. The ebb and flow of tribal war in the ancient Near East is complicated stuff, and hard to make catch fire. Luckily, when the focus narrows to the build-up to war and the war’s action, Holland comes into his own, and the book gets much more gripping. Here we’re back on Rubicon territory – political and military maneouverings by big characters for massive stakes – and Holland does a wonderful job.

Narrative history is back in fashion right now, and sometimes Persian Fire reads like a film or TV pitch – it’s easy (and tempting) to imagine a lavish BBC drama called Greece, or Athens, with cliffhangers and season breaks ready-made. If such a thing did happen, I hope Tom Holland gets a nod as consultant.