Friday, 10 October 2014

Stats and twats

I strolled down the hill to Sainsbury's today, wondering if the weather could have been any nicer. The sun was warm. The sky was powder blue. The leaves on the trees were just turning brown. Am I the only one who feels this summer has lasted forever?

I'm still not sure it quite feels like Autumn yet, although I saw pictures of a tornado over a motorway in Merseyside yesterday, so this beautiful balmy weather we're enjoying could be the start of a considerably less pleasant global weather trend. Someone once told me that the UK actually has more tornadoes (for its size) than any other place in the world. Whoever it was then justified this statement by saying that the tornadoes here are considerably less impressive, which is why they don't make the news. It still sounds a bit unlikely to me, but life is full of these curious statistics.

You can prove anything with a statistic as long as you give yourself the right parameters. Yesterday the newspapers informed us that a staggering half of the UK had tuned into the final of The Great British Bake Off. Of course the figure was actually half of those who had their televisions on at the time. Impressive still, but not good enough for a headline...

Personally, I love the use of a well-placed ellipses when setting out to mislead. This is, of course, the favoured tool of publicists dealing with reviews.

"Benjamin Till's inane music took the audience on an epic journey towards mediocrity."


"Benjamin Till's takes the audience on an epic journey."

That's not a real quote by the way. The last critical drubbing I got was too horrendous even to salvage with an ellipses! That said, I'm a great believer in the concept of a review being sometimes so scathing it moves out of insulting and into brilliant! I am still rather proud to recall the response from a viewer of Tyne and Wear Metro the Musical who described the film as "the worst thing to happen to the North East since Thatcher." Genius. If you're gonna diss it, diss it good...

I went to work in the cafe at Jackson's Lane Theatre after going to Sainsbury's. I often forget it's there, right at the end of the terrace that we live in. It ought to be a wonderful place to write in. They sell great vegetarian food, and the place has a lovely buzz about it. There are lots of actors around, albeit of the type that do movement theatre for children, and a healthy dollop of elderly bohemian women. I was grateful to be in there, because, at about 3am, there was the mother of all rain showers. I could hear it drumming on the theatre roof in an almost continuous roar. People kept rushing into the building looking like puppies who had fallen into a river.

Actually what ended up drumming me out of the place were the screaming children, most of whom, I assume, had come for an after-school ballet class. When one starts shrieking, they all go, and at one point I wondered if I was hearing the massacre of the innocents.  8 or 9 children wailing and moaning. It was like Armageddon.

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