Monthly Archives: September 2007

Sadly missed: Tribe on BBC2

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with TV. I was listening to Neds Atomic Dustbin ‘Kill Your Television’ this week, along with a smattering of Rage against the Machine that suggested really (in a way that was, I admit, popular at the time) that the idiot box is a sop for the masses. The thing is I don’t actually like TV, but I cannot help watching it. Maybe the point stands.

I like to think I only watch comedy and news/documentaries. Mock the Week, QI, 8 out of 10 Cats, Have I Got News for You, the Channel 4 News etc. But in reality I watch Jeremy Kyle (often with my jaw on the floor), Big Brother, Hells Kitchen USA and anything that involves the early stages of public humiliation when trying to achieve misguided stardom.

One of the jewels of television though has to be Tribe with Bruce Parry. The last episode in the series aired tonight and the televisual landscape is much poorer without it. I love many things about this show; Parry is not only clearly as hard as nails, but he doesn’t feel it necessary to rub it in your face – in fact he comes over as being far from that, but there’s very little chance you would swap places with him for a day. The program is diverse, taking in many different cultures and settings, and climes. One of the best things about it though is that it has never presented a particular agenda. Whichever tribe is visited, it’s clear from the program that their lifestyle is under threat – such is the price of progress. However it’s never, ever grist to his mill. So when the final program in the series highlights what really is a plight for the tribe that he stays with it’s even more powerful for it.

Environmental concerns be damned, the episode tonight that showed just how the Penan are suffering at the hands of Malaysia’s logging policy in Sarawak on Borneo was just heartbreaking and there was no other story to tell. Hemmed in by people bent on destroying their habitat the Penan were a progressive and not unreasonable indigenous people who just wanted some dialogue with the companies that ignored them. Watching the skill with which they are still living off their pockets of land was a real eye opener, levels of dexterity I think we just do not see in the world in which we live these days.

I have my fingers crossed for a series 4. Even more annoying is that on Sunday I lose another staple of my TV viewing as Channel 4’s excellent ‘The Deadliest Catch’ comes to an end.

Not sure what I will do with the extra 2 hours a week. Maybe I should do something other that fill it with more TV though!

First bike along the Tyne

So I went out again this weekend after a couple of slack Sundays where the idea of a ride didn’t fill my body with joy, and I’m glad I did. I’ve found a great quiet route down to the Tyne (and into town if I wanted to cycle to work (one day maybe)). I stuck to the south side of the Tyne to see where I could get ‘locally’. Cycling west took me onto a cycle path that seemed to terminate in the Metrocentre (an objective I was not interested in reaching) so I turned back when the path left the river bank, cycled back down to the Baltic and along the route towards South Shields. This was marred by large sections of the route closed due to ‘land contamination’ but once I had got past these sections and the Tyne was now far below me I really started to enjoy the ride (especially meeting the Shire horses). I eventually had to turn back, mindful that I’m not really fit yet and that my tyres were soft and needing a bit of air. The route back was not too hard coming through Gateshead, and descending down Whitehall road was a lot more fun from trying to cycle up it…

Next week I really want to set off east with a bit more purpose and see how far I get, the following weeks I think I will cross the Tyne and go east one week and west the next. Talking with Phil today he suggested that the westward route runs all the way to the west coast. That’s definitely something I would love to do someday.. maybe next year?

Anyway another good ride has reminded me how much fun I’m getting out of this bike. Thanks to Keith today I acquired a rather fine pump (courtesy of Louis really!) and the amusement really didn’t end as I tried to work out how to use it sans instructions on tyre valves the likes of which I have never seen before… Took a while, and the complete deflation of my rear tyre before I worked out what I want meant to be doing. Rather looking forward to going out with hard tyres this weekend now. Note to self.. puncture repair kit, oil and maintenance kit would probably also come in handy at some point!

Moments of fear

I’ve just had one of those experiences that you can directly relate to playing computer games far too much.  Whilst an hour of Mario Karts is enough to make me see red shells flying if I close my eyes, this experience was a lot more deeply grounded.

I’d just been shopping in Waterstones with a birthday book voucher (thanks Anna! – growing up is such a shame as no-one gives you book tokens anymore!) and was coming back through the RVI to the Medical School.  Linkin Park was on the stereo.  The route I take back through the RVI takes me through a construction area, and one corridor has stop/go lights that flank two giant (30′ high) automatic shutter doors for construction traffic to pass to the site.

The lights are often on red, and I just ignore them, safe in the knowledge that they are overly cautious.  However the noise of the shuttered doors opening over the strains of the music were just a little too much for my frayed nervous system and I can only say that my body went into ‘Doom mode’.  Yes, for a split second, I was expecting the shutters to reveal a hellish plain full of revenants and boy did I want a BFG.

Given that I haven’t played Doom in years, I find this rather disturbing.