Pego’s millions


Oh dear sweet Jesus we've still got 22,000 hits to endure...

You might notice that as the millionth hit approaches (as it surely will) I’ve moved my blog stats up to a more convenient position for the viewing public.

In fact, if you look left right now, you’ll be able to see exactly what the state of the nation is as you read.

In real time.

Things have slowed a touch though I must admit.

Maybe I’ve not been trying hard enough, but I have to say the £850 you’ve invested so far makes me very happy (and I’m sure the people at the hospice are cheezin’ too).  Well, some of them.

I have to say, we cheezed a lot when we were there as a family. Because death sometimes brings out the funniest things.

So, I’d like to recount a blog post from right at the start of Gibberish.  It was a conversation I overheard between my Dad’s brother (Uncle Christopher) and my Mum.

And it went something like this…

“If I had some eggs, we could have ham and eggs; if I had some ham.” my Uncle Christopher declared this afternoon.

Wise words.

But my mother violently disagreed with this because she retorted…

“If we had some eggs we could have eggs and ham; if we had some ham.”

Not sure about that.

In fact it’s total bollocks – because what she really meant to say, and did, was…

“If we had ham, we could have ham and eggs; if we had eggs.”

You know what…

…I don’t give a monkey’s uncle!

This was my favourite memory of the seven or so very intense days we spent at St Columba’s.

I’m sure everyone is the same, in that in the face of death they find some moments of humour.

Well, I hope so.

If you’ve lost someone to cancer or had a truly life affirming (even in the face of death) experience at this or any other hospice maybe you’ll pledge a tenner.

Who knows, you might even win a £100. 

Here’s where you enter.

The Red Riding Quadrilogy by David Peace


AKA The Red Riding Quadrilogy

It’s a long time since I wrote about books here and that’s because I’ve been a long time reading this remarkable bunch of books.

Collectively they amount to around 1,200 paperback pages and each of the four novels has an overlapping but always quite different pool of characters.

Over the piece there are probably in excess of 100 significant characters that one needs to come to terms with in following the plot.

It’s challenging.

Then there’s David Peace’s style.

These are crime novels and one would expect them to crack along at a pace and that the only really issue for the reader would be to unravel the clues and spot the killer.

Not here.

David Peace is one of Granta’s most highly regarded writers, regardless of genre, and that’s because he writes with style and elan.  Part of the pleasure of this massive book (Let’s call it one book for convenience sake)  is working his writing out.

Each book is individually structured.

Each structure is a clue in itself.

Each chapter in each book has a different (anti) hero.

And then there’s the subject.

The lighter side deals with the Yorkshire Ripper murders, the heavier with child murders.

The real issue though is the polis.

Jeez.

The British Police PR department presumably do not have any of these novels on their reading lists. Because the police come across as double crossing, conceited, evil scum.  And yet many of the main protagonosts are the polis.

That’s why his writing is nothing short of challenging.  Visceral, gut wrenching, brutal, shocking, calous, taboo-less.

Unputdownable.

There.  That’s seven uncompromising (that’s eight now. Ed) words to describe his way.

Sympathy is not a word that readily springs to mind in David Peace’s world.  Did you sympathise with Cloughie in his big seller, The Damned United?

No, this a world of damnation, wolfs, swans, angels, demons, rats, dragons…underground terror.

It’s a book about the underworld.  Full stop.

It’s a book of genius.

I can’t even confess to have fully got the plot (maybe I’ve actually lost it having invested six months of my reading life into Peace’s mind)  never mind the meaning but it has been a six month reading exercise that has enthralled, terrified and utterly engaged me from start to finish.

This book (in its totality) is an epic and quite remarkable literary achievement.

Few reading experiences have or will (since reading Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as a 17 year old) affect me quite so powerfully.

Now for something lighter.

Phil Adams recommended the Death Machine to me.  I’m started on it.

The kids are alright


I saw this wonderful movie today at the end of its run. So nothing I say will be news to anyone.

I guess it’s not really broken through because it’s hardly what one could call cine-fashionable.  (Apparently it is the first movie ever made about a lesbian marriage in Hollywood.)

That’s interesting because the territory is ripe for humour and pathos in equal measure. And that opportunity is grasped with both hands by writer/director Lisa Chodolenko who frankly appears from nowhere.

She is aided and abetted by a stunning cast. Julianne Moore is magnificent as the “wife” to Annete Benning’s refreshingly unmacho bull dyke dad, both of whom are mom’s to Joni (Mia Wasikowska, last seen in Alice in Wonderland as Alice) and Laser (yes, I know).

I never said this was gonna be easy.

When the kids decide to track down who co created them through their lesbian mom’s Cryobank records they find a Dad that’s cool, sexy and life changing.

Mark Ruffalo has surely never been better in a role that he clearly loves – most particularly when rigorously reintroducing Julianne Moore to the delights of the male body for sexual satisfaction.

The fact that Moore, at 44, is willing to get down and dirty, freckles (millions of them), unfashionable red hair (by Hollywood standards) and all just shows what a great actress she is.

The film gradually develops from light comedy into really insightful and moving reflections on the meaning of family in an ever changing and disposable universe

It’s class.

And the relevance of lesbianism?

None really.

It’s just about families, marriage and the unbearable toughness of being.

I found it very inspiring.

How evil is the British public?


Me no likey.

Three rival reality tv programmes have a cuckoo in their respective nests right now. Ann Widdicombe in Strictly; Wagner in XFactor; and Gillian MacKeith in IACGMOOH.

Each is a total loser in their own distinctive way but none more odious than MacKeith. But the point is, if you put power in the public’s hands enough of them will vote contrarily enough to piss off the establishment, whether that be Simon Cowell, Bruce Forsyth or the would be queen of poo herself.

I love this anti voting culture that was started on Facebook last Christmas when Rage Against The Machine undid Simon.

This year anything could happen. Maybe it all started in May when we, as a nation, voted in the worst double act since Jedward.

Whatever the outcome in these hilarious anti-establishment phenomena; the journey is worth it.

Pego’s millions. The end of the first week


Thank you to everyone who has donated to Pego’s Millions.  After only a week you have donated a whopping £766 to St Columba’s Hospice. (My target is £1,000 but originally it was £500 so let’s see if we can power our way through that milestone this week).

The good news is that my site stats only grew by 5% last week so there’s still probably (at this rate) about 37 days until my millionth hit which remains at or around 21st December.

So, if you want another guess (and remember it’s all going to a good cause) plus the chance to win £100 and a bottle of Tesco’s finest bubbly you’re more than welcome to have another go.

Just visit this site and it’ll work it all out for you.  (Actually it won’t, you’ll need your wits about you but if you become unstuck just send me an email with your guess or stick it into the comments box on this post.)

It’s £10 a pop and all you have to do is estimate at what time and on what date markgorman.wordpress.com will register its millionth hit.

Imagine the excitement as the deadline approaches.

It’ll be just like that scene in The Soccial Network, for those of you that have seen it.

Let me in


I am ashamed to say I have not yet seen the original Swedish version of this movie although it is on my list of to do’s for the very near future especially after seeing the Holywood remake which is in one hyphenated word.; Jaw-dropping.

From the very first frames it captivates you with every cinematic tool available.  The scary bits are very scary, the photography stunning and the acting beyond description for a cast starring two 12(ish) year olds.  But then Kodi Smit McPhee has previous starring as “the boy” in The Road, another mature and beautiful performance.  One wonders just how far he can go on the basis of these two Oscar quality performances.  Abby, the vampire is played by Chloe Moretz who absolutely stunned in Kick Ass as Hit Girl.

It’s billed as a horror movie but it’s actually a love story and a very moving one at that.  The quietness and intensity of the young couple’s illicit (in so many ways) relationship is at the core of the movie and their shared screen time are the real beating pulse of the movie.  You will not see a better and more intimate love story this year.

Matt Reeves, as director, is surely one of the most promising Hollywood talents out there.  His previous film, Cloverfield, is one of the most underrated films I’ve ever seen.  Why is it not considered amongst the best aliens movie ever made?  Anyway, you can be sure, that after this he will be moving onto the A list.

 

The Importance of Being Earnest at The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh


Mark Thomson is on fire.

His last six or so productions have not only been outstanding in my personal opinion, but also in that of the critics.

There are more stars kicking around the foyer of The Lyceum right now than in the Milky Way and that is because he, as artistic director, is mounting productions that are great.  Really great.

Earnest is no exception.  Although four acts long (usually three) it passes in the blink of an eye.  Rarely have I seen a show crack along at such a ferocious pace.  You really do need to keep your wits about you to catch all of the gags in this script.

Some commentators have chosen to point out its current day relevance (particularly centred on a gag about Unionists and Liberals) but actually I thought it was very much a period piece that captured the hilarious mannerisms and manners of upper class England in a bygone time.  Despite that, it is genuinely funny from start to finish, hilariously so in parts, and that is down to three things; Wilde’s astounding script, Thomson’s taught direction and the astonishing acting by the cast which consists of Kirsty Mackay, Will Featherstone, Cara Kelly, Steven McNicoll, Mark McDonnell, Alexandra Mathie, Ben Deery, Sean Murray, and Melody Grove.

The Autumn season used virtually the same casts in Romeo and Juliet and this show.  Did it work as a double header?  I’m not sure that I really saw the link but what I did see was two great shows.  And the stand out over the piece had to be Will Featherstone as Romeo and Algernon – his performance as Algernon was utterly hilarious.

Lady Bracknell, played to perfection by Alexandra Mathie, was probably the show stealer on the night but really it’s an ensemble performance with not a single weak link.

It still has over a week to run and there are tickets available so get along.  Trust me.  You’ll thank me.

Pego’s millions. Day 2. 966,203 views.


Your generosity continues almost unabated.

My target of £500 was breached this afternoon and we now stand at £523.56 which ain’t bad going in 48 hours.

But the new target of £1,000 now looks like quite a long way away, so please spread the word and if you haven’t yet donated your £10 to have a pop and guess when gibberish will cross the million viewer Rubicon then please have a go here.

My bitter ipad experience.


I’ve had an iPad since it was introduced in the UK and I love the concept. Truth is though it has been a very very poor experience because it has constantly dropped its signal since I bought it. Worse, it has had to be rebooted with its wireless key every time the signal dropped.

Finally I gave up.

So Apple agreed that I could bring it back for a new one. No questions.

But last week my super special IT mate Pete ( most of my mates are called Pete and my dad was too) came round and declared our BT Home Hub more or less dead. The new one arrived today and we are a wireless world of newly found rigidity and robustness, unlike my back.

The iPad works. Jeana and Tom’s iPod touches suddenly work, they hadn’t told me how equally frustrated they were.

So the villain in the piece?

As per. BT. Don’t get me started.

I have to say Apple’s helpline is the best in the world, ever. English is the first language.

Pego’s Millions. Day 1.


OK.  It’s not even 24 hours since I launched my Pego’s Millions idea and the response has been phenomenal.

We’re at £327 online and £10 off line already, so I’ve raised the target to £1,000.

Please circulate the idea amongst your friends.

Here’s the link again

just so as you know today’s numbers are 10% up on the average with 6 hours to go.  So 21st December might be a bit late if this continues.

And you can guess as often as you like.

 

More Haute Cuisine, Stirling Style.


I read about Rendall’s the Butchers in Drip Rd, Stirling in a paper last week so, as I was passing this morning on the way to a meeting at Stirling University, I took some time out to buy my lunch.

The subject of the recent journalistic expose, and some hilarity, for the butchers was their new line of pies guaranteed to cure any hangover (Hair of the dog I suppose).

Note 28% meat, 2.5% Buckfast

My worry is what the remaining 69.5% consists of.

Nonetheless they were delicious.

Who will win £100 and help Pego’s millions for St Columbas Hospice?


I’m running a sweep to guess when I will hit 1,000,000 views of my blog and the proceeds will be donated to St Columbas Hospice.

The reason I am doing this is because my blog first took off as I wrote about my dad dying whilst he was in St Columba’s.

So the deal is this.  Go to this link and Pledge £10 to guess when the magic millionth reader will  arrive and the closest to the time and day will win £100 and a bottle of champagne (put up by me and not taken out of the proceeds!).

Now, to give you a little help we currently sit at 964,124 views (at 8pm on Sunday November 7th).  I am currently averaging 786 views a day but it has been higher and lower.

At this rate I will hit Pego’s millions in 45 days. (About 21st December roughly?)

But will it be sooner and at what time?

You can enter as many times as you like.  Good luck.

The spirit of Philip Larkin lives on


Philip Larkin’s seminal poem, This be the verse,  is a cultural icon in the poetry world as it bemoans the difficulty of adolescence.

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

Someone I know took a 21st approach on facebook today that
made me laugh. 
I guess I shouldn't have and so I have protected the identity
of the individual in question.

The latter day larkin

A history of Horror by Mark Gattis on BBC4


The older I get the more I savour quality horror, and I delight in my kids discovering the genre. (Oh, and they do, bit by bit.)

It takes bravery to endure good horror; and as Rudyard Kipling said;

“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Had he have been commentating on early 21st century life he’d perhaps have been saying;

“If you can stomach 90 minutes of gutwrenching horror, you’ll be  a man my son.”

The fact is that recent horror franchises, I’m thinking specifically of The Saw and Hostel, are what’s increasingly called Horror Porn and those labellers are right.  These films are gross, crass, lacking ideas…just plain sick.

What Mark Gattiss eloquently did in his series (available for now onBBC iPlayer I’m sure) was to identify the genre creators and talk to them and gain fabulous insights.

Latterly Romero loomed large and rightly so.

My favourite moment in the entire series was when John Carpenter was unapologetic about the fact that Halloween had spawned a generation of shite slasher movies.

“Why should I apologise for opening the door to the genre.  All these people realised was that you could scare people cheap.”

Carpenter did it with utter class.