Sunday, January 05, 2020

Things That Yer Actual Keith Telly Topping Thought Then (And Still Thinks Now) Were Great (Slight Return)

So, dearest bloggerisationism reader, welcome you are to the first From The North update of a new year. And, indeed, a new decade. Which, in this particular case, takes the form of a list; a list of thing that this blog reader thought and/or thinks were and/or are great (or, at least, better than average. Or, failing that, mildly adequate) which have occurred over the last couple of weeks. The list is not a particularly long one - nor is is all-inclusive - but it should, hopefully, give you all some idea of what this blogger has been up to of late. Beside the usual, obsessing over the delicious ironies of life. Thus, without further ado and in no particular order ...

1. Doctor Who: Spyfall
New Year's Day 2020 was the first time since around 2009 that this blogger has watched an episode of his favourite TV show live where he hadn't spent most of his time taking notes for a From The North bloggerisationism update (Keith Telly Topping, as previously mentioned, is not doing them this year, he simply doesn't have the spare time having, shockingly, developed 'a life' since starting his new job late last year). Thus, he could actually concentrate on Spyfall properly. And, he still thought it was great - particularly Stephen Fry's 'rocket-launcher cufflinks' line. Loved Sacha Dhawan's so-far-over-the-top-he-was-down-the-other-side, properly 'Masterful' performance ('everything you think you know is a lie!') Good God, even Lenny Henry (whom this blogger believes was last, briefly, funny for a week in 1983) was ... broadly more or less adequate in it.
And, Sunday's second episode was pretty sexy too.
2. Dracula
Just to prove - as if any proof were actually needed - that The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) and yer actual Mark Gatiss have still got it. In abundance.
This blogger particularly enjoyed all of the sly (and, indeed, not so subtle) references to Sherlock ('I have a detective acquaintance in London!') and Doctor Who. Or, in the case of the wallpaper in one sequence, a visual reference to both, simultaneously.
However, Keith Telly Topping's special thanks go to his old mate James Algar for spotting this witty little allusion to The Three Doctors. This blogger believes he detects the hand of yer man Gatiss in that particular line.
3. The previously mentioned Mark Gatiss's two impeccably thorough and highly watchable documentaries, Christmas Day's The Lost Ghost Story (broadcast on BBC4) and In Search Of Dracula (shown on BBC1 on 3 January).
4. From The North favourite The Divine Victoria Coren Mitchell getting in touch with her inner Welsh on one of BBC2's Christmas Only Connect specials. Nice hat.
5. The first Qi episode of the new year - Quiet - and, particularly, From The North favourite Sara Pascoe's observation that comedy is much like sex: 'If they haven't made a noise for a while, change what you're doing.' Also, first time guest the excellent Andrew Maxwell's reply to Sandi Toksvig's question about whether the Irish mind silences: 'Well, it's never happened,' he said, adding that, after four seconds of silence in Ireland, most people would be inclined to, at the very least, introduce a wink into the mix.
6. Any one of several 'I Really Deserve This' takeaways which yer actual Keith Telly Topping carried back to Stately Telly Topping Manor on his way home from work since last we spoke about these matters. The illustrated king prawn and chicken with Chinese mushrooms in hoisin sauce below was an especially notable one.
7. The fact that most of this blogger's daily commutes too and from work over the Christmas and New Year period were - in stark contrast to the period in the run up to Christmas - less than eventful and, for the most part, trouble free.
8. The view from Stately Telly Topping Manor's kitchen window on the evening of 29 December. Either it was going to be a fine day on 30 December (it wasn't) or someone had set three-quarters of Gatesheed on fire. This blogger could have gone either way on that score ...
9. Something of a Christmas Day tradition at Stately Telly Topping Manor is that this blogger always seems to spend a part of the day each year watching lots of Nazis getting shot (on film, obviously, rather than in real life - though the latter would, admittedly, be not an entirely unattractive prospect). Usually it's Where Eagles Dare or Von Ryan's Express or The Great Escape on ITV4. This year though ITV4 was, seemingly, a war-movie free zone on the Holy Day itself. God bless, therefore, More4, who showed The Longest Day. Three whole hours of Nazi shooting. Bonus. Particularly as this blogger was watching it whilst polishing off a box of Marks & Spencer's tasty cocktail sausages after which he started on the cheese and crackers. And then, the Bailey's came out ... After that, it all got a bit foggy.
10. On a similar note, there was this blogger stumbling across BBC2's showing of The Thomas Crown Affair on New Year's Day. The original 1968 classic, this is, rather than the somewhat disappointing Pierce Brosnan remake ... which would've been all right if it hadn't had Bloody Sting murdering 'Windmills Of Your Mind' on the soundtrack. Fine film, that.
11. This blogger digging out his DVDs of both The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash and The Rutles: Can't Buy Me Lunch and watching them in celebration of the life and extraordinary talent of the late Neil Innes. 'Nasty, meanwhile, visited an exhibition of broken art at The Pretentious Gallery, Soho. The art exhibits had all been dropped out of tall buildings and then put on display. Amongst the little piles of rubble, Nasty found the artist herself; Chastity, a simple German girl, whose father had invented World War II. Chastity fascinated him with her destructo-art. They talked all through the night, as she outlined her plans to drop artists out of planes. Nasty adored her. They announced their engagement next day at a press conference held in a shower.'
12. Reading Robert Hutton's thoroughly fascinating Agent Jack, a - completely unexpected - present given to this blogger by his mate, the legend that is Malcolm Hunter. Thanks Mal. It was very much appreciated.
13. Watching - on Dave - a repeat of the 2018 Would I Lie To You? Christmas episode with The Godlike Genius of Sir Noddy Holder (OBE) telling the - apparently true - story of the time he attended a Christmas costume party in the 1970s dressed as Joseph; he had to stop his car on the way home to get a stubborn donkey off the road, whilst he was doing so, found himself 'helping the police with their enquiries' and told the officers, 'it's all right, my wife's just had a kid!'
14. This blogger using his new - turbo-charge - Shark cordless vacuum cleaner to make Stately Telly Topping Manor, briefly, a bit less of an horrific dust-filled pig-sty than it normally is.
15. Did this blogger happen to mention that box of fifty Marks & Spencer cocktail sausages, by any chance, dear blog reader?
16. The blissful pure joy of this blogger actually, for once, having a long lie-in on Boxing Day - an almost unique occurrence in these terrible times of this blogger having to get up at the crack of dawn most mornings to catch his bus to work. In the bone-chilling cold, an'aal. So, there he is standing at a bus stop wishin' he was somewhere else ... as UB40 once, almost said. Pity this blogger, dear blog reader, he'd much sooner be in bed.
17. Then, there was the - surprisingly painless - trip to Byker Morrisons to get the weekly (mainly, non-food) shopping in mid-Boxing Day morning. This blogger had expected the gaff to be rammed but it was as quiet as ... a very quiet thing. And the buses worked out really well (only a couple of minutes wait in both directions). After which, Keith Telly Topping cooked something lamb and prawn-related for us Boxing Day lunch at Stately Telly Topping Manor - involving chillies and garlic.
18. The inevitability of this blogger's beloved - though still, tragically, unsellable - Magpies once again managing to screw up in the FA Cup third round (this being a club, remember, which hasn't got past the Fourth Round since 2006). Yes, the squad is, currently, decimated by injury and, yes, Steve Bruice (nasty to see him, to see him nasty) did something that many of his recent predecessors were reluctant to and played his strongest available side. But still, whilst some may regard a one-all draw away at Rochdale and a completely unwanted replay at St James' Park in a fortnight as a decent result compared to previous loses to the likes of Oxford United (2017), Stevenage Borough (2011), AFC Bournemouth (1992), Grimsby Town (1982), Exeter City (1981), Chester City (1980), Wrexham (1978), Walsall (1975), Hereford United (1972), Carlisle United (1968), Swansea (1965), Bedford Town (1964), Peterborough United (1962), Scunthorpe United (1958), Rotherham United (1953) and Bradford Park Avenue (1949), this blogger does not. Although, it was good to see Miggy getting another goal.
19. This blogger discovering that a small white plastic spoon which he has had for a decade or more and which - for a specific reason that's rather too personal to go into here - has considerable sentimental value to him had not, as he had initially believed, been lost on a bus journey to work but had, rather, fallen out of his pocket and down the side of this blogger's favourite armchair in Stately Telly Topping Manor. Thus meaning that Keith Telly Topping still has his favourite coffee-stirring implement.