Friday, 24 February 2012

Strictly Baby Disco - Child Abuse by Any Other Name

Channel 4 broadcast a programme at 10.00 p.m. on Thursday 23 February, which followed the lives of three little girls who were aiming to win the title of Disco Kid, dancing freestyle in outrageously sexualized costumes and heavy make-up. Well, OK, most little girls love to dress up, but these poor little souls were forced to dance, no matter what, by their wildly ambitious mothers. In fact, what they put the children through amounted to child abuse.

Orlagh from Belfast had to dance while taking anti-biotics for a kidney infection, being sick with fear and puffing on an inhaler. In between 45 second bouts of frenetic, body-breaking movement, her mother berated her for not being "crisp" enough.

Clemmie had a bad back, but her mother told the physio about the finals, so of course she had to go to Blackpool and dance, never mind damaging her spine further.

Poor Billie was dragged away from her friends and family in Bradford, to live in Scotland to be near the best disco dance teacher there was. She was so sad and actually, a bit traumatized by the move, but hey, mum's ambitions had to be fulfilled.

It was fascinating viewing, eliciting a mixed response of horror and sorrow, and most of all, anger at what those children were made to endure by the mothers who were supposed to love and care for them. If you can watch it, then do so and see how it affects you personally. If anybody reads this, then please find a way to make your feelings known, because I bet any right-thinking person would be as horrified as I am.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Christmas Television - My Turn to Comment

Well, Christmas is over for another year and as ever, televisual delights during the festive period were hit and miss. Having read what my favourite critics, Kevin O'Sullivan (Sunday Mirror) and Ian Hyland (Mail on Sunday) had to say, being paid to do so, of course, I felt obliged to add my two-pennorth. And believe me, it was not all dross.

The BBC did actually give us some excellent pieces. On 18 December, Lost Christmas, starring the wonderful Eddie Izzard was a gem of a performance by all concerned and a magical story. Mind you, I would watch Eddie Izzard eating a piece of toast and laugh; the man is a marathon hero and a very funny individual. Then, on 23 December, BBC2 screened what is described as an "improvised Britcom" with Martin Freeman at the helm. Nativity was another great piece of television and it even made me shed a tear. Now that's what I call moving.

On December 24, BBC1 showed the last episode of Merlin with yet another great actor, Colin Morgan in the title role. I can hardly wait for it to be back on our screens. For Christmas Day itself, I have to thank Michael McIntyre and Auntie Beeb for making me laugh so much in his Christmas Comedy Roadshow. His imitation of Shane McGowan, that Pogue fella, singing Fairytale of New York was a masterpiece of fun and audience participation, and Pixie Lott did a good job in taking Kirsty McColl's part. There was even a visit from Kylie, so what more could you ask for?

Sadly, there were some not so good moments, namely Channel 4's show Bear's Wild Weekend with Miranda. Still, for all its nonevent quality, I still think Miranda Hart is a woman of great talent. The worst televisual experience had to be those weird clowns, Jedward on Alan Carr, Chatty Man Christmas Special, where he was reduced to calling them names and putting them on the naughty step. If only somebody would send them back to Mars, or at least the Bog of Allen, then we would all feel much happier. They reduced David Walliams to the use of strong language and really upset Ruth Jones. What a pair of planks!

There you have it folks, my pick of the Christmas television for 2011. Oh, and thank God for Morecambe and Wise.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Leaving Virgin Media

After over four years, a better offer of broadband provision took my fancy. So I did what I should do and called VirginMedia on the phone to tell them what I was doing. I also cancelled my direct debit and asked for a final bill to be sent to me.

Yes folks, beware if you change from Virgin Media to another provider, because they will charge you for the privilege, no matter how long it is since your original contract expired. I wonder if the "philanthropic" Richard Branson is aware of the practices employed to screw more money out of unsuspecting subscribers? Ahem! Well, eight weeks passed and in my naivety, I thought they had got it wrong at the call centre and no charges would be levied. Not so.

On the 22nd of November, I received a letter from, yes, my old mates at Virgin, pointing out that I may have overlooked the need to pay this bill for discontinuing services. Immediately, debit card clutched in my reluctant little hand, I phoned and payed them, as requested, £24.00 which was "inclusive of the £23.50 disconnection charge." The 50p must have been to cover postage, I have no idea, I just paid.

Now please do not be losing the will to live as I continue with what I consider to be a warning to those daring and brave enough to change from Virgin Media. Here the saga continues: today, 25th November, I received a letter from a debt recovery agent, acting on behalf of yes, you've guessed it, good old Virgin Media.

To say I was incandescent with rage and spitting feathers is no exaggeration. After an abortive attempt (due to seeing red, rather than my telephone keypad), I spoke to a very nice woman who said that their records show today that I had paid. Despite her reassurances, I am still concerned that I may have joined a bad debtors list and become unable to get credit anywhere. She said not, but I am tempted to try to buy something from a Virgin store or site, or indeed a Rolls Royce from a reputable dealer, and see what THEY think of my credit rating.

So, the moral of the story is, Virgin will charge if you decide to cease being a subscriber with them. They will not send your final bill when promised and when they do and you pay up, you might also be chased by a debt collector. Now I wonder, does Mr. Branson like them apples?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Paul O'Grady

It is months since any thought collection and dispersal have taken place but I just have to share something. By good fortune, I found Paul O'Grady's autobiography "At My Mother's Knee....and other loose joints" in a local cancer charity shop. This book is a must if you need to laugh out loud or even vent some emotion with tears. It is absolutely brilliant.

Having loved Paul since he burst onto our screens as Lily Savage, the book just confirms what a special, funny and genuinely nice man he is. Actually, his childhood mirrors my own so closely, even down to the plastic Virgin Mary's with screw top crowns, that I wondered if he was in the same house as me when I was growing up. If you can, watch him on Channel 4, and even more important, read his book and weep (and laugh out loud). By the way, Paul, thank you for introducting me to that wonderful poem by Ferdinand Freiligrath, " Love as Long as You Can."

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Doesn't Time Fly When You're Havin' Fun? Doh!

I am ashamed to say that I have abandoned this blogging lark due to the absence of motivation or creative ideas for some time. Judging by the history here, that would be 7 months at least. Shame on me! It seemed as if I entered some sort of fugue state, or even lost my marbles for a time. But thanks to the ministrations of the good old NHS, I am now whole and hearty again, in body if not yet fully compos in the brain department. Do forgive, please?

Having had two operations, a bit of a scare with blood loss, a lot of wonderful care and attention, I really had to get on here and sing the praises of our local NHS Trust, namely Leeds and in particular, the Clarendon Wing at Leeds General Infirmary. What a set of stars the Plastic Surgery team is - all of them golden and shining bright in every aspect. Cannot thank or praise them all enough.

Meanwhile, I must away and once again admire their handiwork wrought upon my person. Believe me, when I say we are so lucky to have the NHS, warts and all, I speak from heartfelt experience. Let us all fight to keep it. And to LGI Clarendon Wing, thanks folks.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Football, dear Football! A Woman's Perspective.

It is with some shock that I realize my last post on this blog was January 2010, but so much has happened that my head has not been working properly - still isn't if the truth be told. What I am here to say is in support of those women whose men are football crazy, men who now have a free reign to their madness, thanks to the World Cup. I thank the stars above and all other heavenly bodies, that the males of this household give not a jot nor a tittle for the "Beautiful Game."

We are happy to search the channels for anything that does not contain a lot of men running around after a ball, while tribal chanting eggs them on from every direction. As my good friend said, after only two days of the tournament had passed, "Oh God, I wish our television was broken."

Ah, but every cloud has a silver lining and so we women have all taken up walking, running and jogging, and the result should be a lot of very fit women and some disgruntled menfolk. Or if not disgruntled, slightly fatter and less-fit menfolk, thanks to sitting in chairs, shouting, swearing and cheering, while watching the games on TV. Roll on the end of the whole carry on.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Cheese or Chocolate?

How sad to learn that Cadbury's, the makers of the best chocolate in the world, are to sell out to Kraft, an American company more noted for its rubbery cheese slices than its quality confectionary. I suppose it has to be the way of the world, debts and running costs are too much to let Cadbury keep its independance. Let us hope that if on 2 February, when the takeover might happen, that the workers at Cadbury's keep their jobs.

It would seem that yet another fine English tradition bites the dust. Even more worrying, is the thought that Kraft will mess around with the products and we the consumers will not know whether it's cheese or chocolate we are eating.