Monday, 24 December 2018

Quantative Easing

Got home on Thursday night to discover what looked a bit like pretend money sitting by the pile of loose change I keep near the kitchen radio. I thought this might be a noble gesture by Amy to help ease our way through the credit crunch. But on enquiring, Mrs Wallis told me Amy had finished the chocolate money she had in the fridge and was worried that I hadn't had any, so she decided to make me some pretend chocolate money. She put it by for me when I got in, asking "Do you think he will get it mixed up with his real money?". Today we took the pretend chocolate money to the shops with a view to seeing if we could pretend to buy anything, but while we were out we forgot about it. She might not make it as a forger, but her heart's in the right place.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Criminals: Caught on Camera, Series 5

I am delighted to have signed up to a fifth series of Criminals Caught on Camera for 5Spike. 

Filming starts in a couple of weeks. 

Expect some moody TX cards later this year.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The road to hell...

I am trying to sort things out online. My presence here (there?) is a mess. This blog is a prime example. It was inspired by Richard Herring's Warming Up blog, which I've never really read. (update: I've just read the latest entry and was reminded why I don't like it very much. He's too honest.) What I liked about it was the idea of writing, as often as possible, about daily professional life.

The problem has always been thematic content. Much as I like wittering on about random things which interest me, I'm not sure doing so has any inherent value. Little projects like a month of veganism and year of sobriety provide a framework in which I can write, but for some reason I didn't put them on this blog.  I set up a separate blog.

This year will see the High Court trial Bates (and others) v Post Office, which I am determined to attend and report, all 20 days of it. Quite how I will raise the finance to do so is down to a multiple of variables. I might crowdfund it, I might not have to if I can raise enough commissions, but it makes sense that the material I generate from that trial (and the subsequent one scheduled for March next year) goes up online alongside the material I have generated on this blog over the years. It needs a new, or at least, better home. All the PO material on here is in a horrible un-indexed and badly cross-referenced state.

My TV presenting news can go up on the blog on - I haven't had anything to announce on that front recently, though I hope to soon. And, looking at that website, I need to update my showreel, which is always a painful task. It involves pulling together clips from last year's One Show, ITV News and the last series of Criminals Caught on Camera. Even if I get someone to edit it for me, physically locating this material is like pulling teeth.

Then there's the stuff about on youtube I started recently. Daily reporter stuff, the vegan vlog and fifty daily irritations. All a bit of fun, but again, in desperate need of sorting into something coherent.

I also want to set up a journalism blog which provides an outlet for a few under-reported stories (possibly starting by transferring  all the Post Office Horizon stuff on this blog) - most of which have followed on from the work I did at BBC Inside Out South. It would be nice to be able to write up stories which don't work for TV, but which lend themselves to the printed word. But I'm thinking might work better on an established platform.

Then I can leave this blog for the whimsy, opinion and pop culture stuff which interests me on a personal level even if it doesn't quite fit anywhere else.

Finally there's my training company. That has its own website and blog. I'd like to do more training and more writing for the blog on there, but shortly after we set the company up I started getting way too much other work to market the company effectively.

As I say, it's a mess...


Thursday, 14 December 2017


I've decided to experiment with vlogging. Very short videos, recorded mostly at home, on my own, trying to process what I'm meant to be doing or have been doing on any given day. So far I've covered chest shaving, interviewing Secretaries of State, doing corporate jobs and generally surviving long hours and early starts. These initial vlogs won't win any awards, but I hope as I get better, they will become more interesting. Here's the latest one - they're all on youtube. 

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Top Ten Albums - The Head on the Door

I had intended to nominate The Cure's first singles compilation "Standing on a Beach" as my next top ten album. I found it through the pages of Smash Hits magazine and the JHQ Rheindahlen record library. From the rudimentary Killing an Arab to the accomplished performance of In Between Days, there was a strong and obvious strain of genius running through every song. In 1986, and for the next five years, I had found my New Favourite Band.

The joy of getting into the Cure just after the release of Standing on a Beach was that, until "The Head on the Door", Bob Smith had resolutely refused to release more than one single off any album. Punk, y'see.

This meant that on a compilation of 13 classics, there was a rich back catalogue of albums waiting to be excavated: "Three Imaginary Boys", "Seventeen Seconds", "Faith", "Pornography", "Japanese Whispers" (itself a sort-of compilation), "The Top" and The Head on the Door. All lined up and good to go.

So, for me, Standing on a Beach was the gateway drug to The Cure, and a world of adolescent hero worship which made Robert Smith the only person I've avoided saying hello to (when given the chance at the 1997 Xfm launch party).

Having devoured Standing on a Beach (and the legacy videos from  "Staring at the Sea"), I started working backwards - first stop: The Head on The Door.

This is the best Cure album, the best goth pop album and, in my indie-tainted eyes, one of the best albums ever made. The opener, In Between Days, is as joyous a song as you'll ever hear despite lyrics which begin "Yesterday I got so old, I felt like I could die..."

Close to Me is a finger-clicking, swinging pop tune about what appears to be an awkward drug comedown and A Night Like This is genuinely epic. Easily the best thing on the album despite never being released as a single in the UK. 

There's more - Push is the distilled sound of indie-guitar exuberance and Sinking, which ends the The Head on The Door, contains recurring Smith themes - existential angst, aging and drowning (cf La Ment, DisintegrationFaith, The Same Deep Water As You and, er, The Drowning Man), but deals with them in a very matter of fact, confessional style. The fillers (Kyoto Song, The Baby Screams, Screw) are all perfectly performed/produced pop turns.

It is a great album from a band whose time was just about to come. The Head on The Door's brilliance pushed me further back into The Top, "Concert", Japanese Whispers, Pornography, Faith, Seventeen Seconds, Three Imaginary Boys and then forwards into "Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me" and "Disintegration". And two excellent concerts on the Kiss Me and Disintegration tours in Köln and London respectively. And, very briefly, hair like this:

On a side note, last year I was trying to write a script and ended up initiating a facebook discussion about the best Cure album. I fought THotD's corner whilst battling many Disintegration all-comers. In the end a friend of mine whose knowledge of the Cure is far deeper than mine suggested I might have made him think again, and as he was involved with Bestival, which happened to have the Cure headlining that August, would I care to avail myself of a pair of complimentary tickets to watch Bob in action one more time. Yessir I would. I took a dear friend, met up with my old friend and watched a band winging its way through its fifth decade in style. Thanks to all involved.

The Head on The Door is the album I've chosen to represent my 31 year love affair with The Cure, and I'm pleased to do it on the 32nd anniversary of its release*. Thank you, Bob. I hope if we ever do meet, I won't mess it up.


* Thanks to Matt for reminding me.