Monthly Archives: May 2011

Public Transport: Your fellow travellers in London (Part two)

Public Transport by Tom NashI know what you’re thinking; I’ve been quiet this month. Has the fire gone? Will we be getting positive, life-affirming lists from now? Will you fuck! I’ve just been taking some time to focus on the novel what I am writing, that’s all.

Here’s a short one to ease you back in.

I may be 300 miles away at the moment, but London’s transport system was the first thing I was glad to see the back of when I left.

More of the delightful people that might be one of your next travelling companions:

The school kid
Anonymous on their own, get a few together and they become the definition of obnoxious. Like the DJ, groups of males will play shit music through their crappy phone’s speakers and punctuate every second word with ‘fucking’. Groups of females will alternate between all trying to talk at the same time and trying to sing like Mariah Carey or harmonising.

The sleeper
They could be drunk, but if they’re in a suit then they could just have a ‘really fucking important’ job and be genuinely knackered. Some people will not go without a struggle, nodding themselves awake with every jolt or bump, checking they haven’t missed their stop then dropping back into their epic battle. Others just go with it, dribble and all. All of them share one thing though; that look of panic upon first waking up.

It’s priceless.

The pusher
This person doesn’t really understand physics. All they know is, they want to get off the bus/train/tube and you are between them and door. The other twenty people in front of you waiting their turn to disembark are irrelevant; they want to get off now! If the invasion of your personal space isn’t enough, then they will proceed to shove you in your back to make their point further.

This is when you may break all the rules of travelling in London by making eye-contact with and talking to someone you don’t know (you turn around and tell them to ‘fuck off’).

The tramp
A rare sight on trains and tubes these days thanks to super high fares, you can still spot them every now and then, usually late at night. Yes, they still ask for money, but some now do it in a more enterprising way. One fella on a train from Victoria with me a few years ago declared to the full carriage,

‘Yes I’m a tramp, but don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you for any spare change.’

After a collective sigh of relief, he continued, ‘But can someone lend me fifty quid till Tuesday?’

Makes you proud to be British.

The more extensive first part is available here.

Reality TV and talent shows: My understanding of the genres

Reality TV by Tom NashTo be honest, I’m not a fan of any reality television, so my knowledge of this subject is limited… But when have I ever let let little things like ‘facts’ get in the way of proceedings? Exactly. I will be trying to avoid the whole ‘television for morons that features morons’ angle if I can, though… oops.

The way I understand it, ‘reality’ television can be broken into two categories: ‘Genuine’ and ‘Extravagant’.

‘Genuine’ reality television features people doing their jobs. This can range from people cleaning up grotty council flats to the daily exploits of fishermen. Basically, they’re about some task that’s interesting but a bit too icky or dangerous for most of us.

This piece shall focus on the ‘Extravagant’; those shows with elaborate set pieces, special guests and aspirational music which I believe can be divided further into the following sub-sets: Celebrity and Fame-whore.

In fact, they are so extravagant, their not even ‘reality’ shows anymore, are they? They’re ‘talent’ shows. But I digress…

Of course, this is usage of the word in the loosest sense possible.

Places on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here appear to be reserved exclusively for actors/presenters/pop ‘stars’/persistent fame-whores whose careers have taken a turn for the worse and want to get back into the public eye. Not sure that doing a series of humiliating tasks is the best way to do this, but then again, my lack of television appearances could be directly correlated with the fact I’ve never chowed down on eyeballs, penises and anuses (leave it).

The other kind of ‘celebrity’ that appears on these shows are those that have a new book/TV show/film/career to promote. You generally won’t find this lot twatting about in the jungle, they’ll be learning a skill and earning the respect of boring middle-class people along the way. The most successful way to do this is to appear on Strictly Come Dancing and impress with your ballroom dancing ability. Dancing On Ice requires more skill, but the winner receives less acclaim, usually because the competitors are from ITV’s in-house shite like Emmerdale. If they can avoid being voted off for a few weeks and are pretty, a ‘will they/won’t they’ relationship with their dance partner can almost ensure passage to the final, if not victory itself.

A fame-whore is a breed of human that considers ‘be famous’ to be a career plan. The two most popular fame-whore shows of recent years are obviously Big Brother and The X-Factor (does it have a ‘the’ at the beginning? Actually, I don’t care), although Britain’s Got Talent appears to be increasing in popularity, for reasons I am unable to fathom.

What I understand Big Brother to be is the filmed escapades of a bunch of manically self-obsessed, borderline autistic people who are locked in a house together without a telly. Cue inane conversation and bitching. Each week, the housemate who is most likely to stab someone is kicked out until only the most dull remain. They will then be crowned the winner. Their prize? Getting their tits out in Nuts magazine.

The X-Factor is different. We get to endure the ‘audition’ process, which seems to be a ‘who can warble the most’ or a ‘whose backstory is most tragic’ contest. A few fat, ugly, untalented people are thrown in to lighten the mood, lots of people cry and then someone is crowned the winner. Somehow, they manage to drag this process out for over a quarter of a year AND make it seem like Dannii Minogue has the authority to make judgements on other people’s ability. Amazing achievements.

Britain’s Got Talent pretty much follows the same format as The X-Factor, but instead of receiving a recording contract, the winner performs at the Royal Variety Performance. It claims to be a talent show but it seems that the only ‘acts’ that ever win it are singers or dancers. If I was cynical, I would propose that this is because Mr Cowell and co. have more chance of making money out of them once the series has finished… Oh, wait; I totally am! Yeah- that’s the reason.

Then there is The Only Way Is Essex and the numerous similar programmes that are about to be forced on us. It seems that TV producers have realised that they don’t need a house with loads of cameras, they can go to the fame-whores themselves and observe them in their natural surroundings; it’s SO much cheaper. And morons will still lap it all up.

This country’s fucked.