Girls, travel, rockets, transport, hotels, films, Martinis, wine, music, food and ranting!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fiftieth Anniversary of Thunderbirds!

Fifty years ago today, the very first episode of Gerry Anderson's series ThunderbirdsTrapped in the Sky, was broadcast.  A five year old Agent Triple P was watching it, as we had previously watched Stingray, Fireball XL5 and even Supercar.

We had all the Thunderbirds toys, of course (even the largely unloved Thunderbird 5  - the model of which really looked only vaguely like the one in the TV series but had flashing coloured lights and would move randomly across the carpet, squawking), and wish we had kept them as they would be worth a fortune now.  Triple P and his sister  both had International Rescue hats too!

The most expensive Thunderbirds toy we had was a large Thunderbird 4 which also needed batteries and actually was waterproof enough to go in the bath, not that there was enough space for it, really.  Fortunately, our uncle, next door, had a swimming pool and it had at least one outing there.

The Thunderbird 3 model offended our aesthetic sense as it had a nose wheel and a friction drive unit (where you could rev the wheels up, let it go, watch it streak across the carpet and then have an agonising second or two of worry that the nose would break when it hit the skirting board)  built in to the back which spoiled the lines of the original.  The Thunderbird 1 model had the same issues.

Our favourite, of course, was Thunderbird 2, and we remember the strange metal legs which tucked up underneath it, as the sort of retractable ones on the TV show would have been impossible to do in a model.  They offended our aesthetic sense too, however, so when it was supposed to be flying in our games we used to pop them out and only replace them when it was supposed to be deploying the pod, up on its legs, so the little model of the Mole could get in and out.

Trapped in the Sky was a marvellous episode and the sequence where they try to land a stricken Fireflash airliner on the elevator cars is one of the greatest action sequences in sixties TV, driven along by Barry Gray's tremendous music.   Gray, who lived in Esher, about three miles from where Triple P lives now, produced some of the greatest TV music ever for Thunderbirds and it is very much the soundtrack to our childhood.  

Derek Meddings prepares the Fireflash for Trapped in the Sky

People who haven't really watched it (twenty something journalists, usually) decry the terrible special effects in the original series but actually they are very good and special effects supervisor Derek Meddings would go on to a stellar career in feature films, including many of the Bond films.

A girl on the International Rescue team?  Get back into the kitchen and make the coffee like you're supposed to!  (Actually, she is the best thing about the new series)

We still love Thunderbirds but watching the new digital incarnation with its laws of physics defying movement, ugly vehicles and boy band characters makes us realise how very, very good the originals were.  More excitingly, a team have crowd funded a project taking some recordings made with the original cast which were released on LP record in the sixties and are adding new visuals using exact replica puppets and vehicles.  Thunderbirds as it should be!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Chronicles of Triple P

The Adventures of Triple P was always intended to be a repository for accounts of our adventures with women around the world, which we record as we travel about.  For various reasons this, apart from a few early examples. did not happen but several people have responded well enough to some of my accounts that we have decided to put them down in a more formal way; although more as a reminiscence for Triple P than anything else. 

Scarlett Knight suggested the title The Chronicles of Triple P and it can be found here.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Kelly Brook on a boat

What a particularly fine photograph of Kelly Brook, published today.  This was sent to me by a lady today who thought Triple P might appreciate it, as indeed we do!


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hot at Waterloo!

So, it was the hottest day in London for nearly ten years the week before last and we have had some more very hot days this week.  Looks like Triple P chose the wrong month to go back to commuting because as we and most of the other men sweltered in wool suits and long sleeved shirts most of the women were dressed as if they were off to the beach! Now, we admit that we are now across the river from the City but hot pants and cotton vests (tanks for North Americans) as appropriate work wear? Thigh, shoulder and back revealing sun dresses? Plunging necklines? It is not only inappropriate it is, much more importantly, not fair! 

Women should, of course, have to wear to work what men do, as we struggle in 100 degree heat on the Underground, slog along baking streets and overcrowded boiling trains on the way home.  No air conditioning of course.  Waterloo Station has a glass roof so gets particularly hot by the end of the day.

Still, of course, we cannot really complain about the displays and we are very much registering legs as this summer's erogenous zone.  All of these shots were taken in the early evening at Waterloo.

Splendid! (But still not fair!)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ion Drive rocket by Chesley Bonestell

A long time ago we posted a brief piece about our love of rockets and mentioned the peerless space artist Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986).  Two of the books he illustrated for author Willy Ley, The Conquest of Space (1949) and Beyond the Solar System (1964), really excited the young Triple P's imagination back in the late sixties.  One picture in particular, from Beyond the Solar System, we found particularly evocative.  It was this one of (we seem to remember) an ion drive ship in deep space, it's fins glowing red as it radiated excess heat.  It's a simple image, compared with some of his paintings of pod and booster encrusted rockets orbiting a bright earth (like the illustration of the same rocket on the cover) but, at the time, those tiny cabin lights spoke of men (no women would have been contemplated as spacefarers in 1964; something Star Trek would change within two years) journeying far from earth.  Where are they going?  How long will it take?  Fuel for Agent Triple P's imagination forty five years ago.  The picture conveys the cold darkness of space in a way that modern science fiction films and TV with their brightly lit spacecraft just don't.  

We have been looking for  a good copy of this image for some time and came across it the other day while looking for something else.  Literally, back to the future for Triple P!

Cover painting for The Conquest of Space

Bonestell was originally an architect and worked on both the Chrysler Building and the Golden Gate bridge but his interest in astronomy saw him taking an artistic path which was always firmly rooted in science and he really pioneered astronomical art.  He was still working on a painting in his home in Carmel, California when he died in 1986 at the age of 98.

190 complaints about revealing dresses on Britain's Got Talent...good grief

Apparently, 190 people have complained to UK broadcast watchdog OFCOM or TV station ITV about the low-cut dresses worn by judges Amanda Holden (44) and Alesha Dixon (36) on Sunday's Britain's Got Talent final.  190?  Out of over 10 million viewers.  Not suitable for a family show, cried the moaners.  We despair, we really do!   Are their complaints about the number of male competitors who took their shirts off this year?  I don't think so.  It's this trying to shield children from sex (which the prudes still equate with bodies) thing again; which will actually do them more harm than good in the long term.

The previous week Holden  had been complained about for her dress during the semi-finals (above).  The only strange thing about that number was why she had the White Tree of Gondor sticking out of it.   Holden gets a lot of criticism in Britain because she cheated on her husband (a TV comedian) with another TV comedian about fifteen years ago.  Most of her vilification now, however, seems to be based around the fact that she shouldn't be wearing provocative clothing st her age (she is 44).  So, if we discount the fact that the tiny percentage of complainants aren't outraged Muslin clerics then we suspect they are middle aged, gone to seed mothers who resent the fact that she is still in tremendously good shape in her forties.  It's similar to the hate that Madonna got when she posed topless not long ago.  Britain has an ageing population but the press still hasn't got their heads around the fact that this large group of older people born in the sixties and seventies, don't want to act like "older people" did in the past.  It is incredibly ageist to say that someone shouldn't be able to dress how they like because they are in their forties.  We think Holden and Dixon look tremendous!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Is Rachel Pilcher the worst journalist in Britain?

Rachel Pilcher

I use Yahoo email so I can easily access it from anywhere in the world but in order to get to it you have to go through the Yahoo news page.  Over the last few years the content of this has become more and more inane and now is totally dominated by Z list celebrity gossip.  The very worst of this is spewed forth from a section called OMG which is a complete microcosm of why Britain is no longer the country it was.   It is bad enough that they think that entertainment news isn't, as you might think, what new play has opened in the West End, which new film has just started filming or what new tour a band has announced but instead what new hairstyle some minor celebrity has.  It is bad enough that they don't employ real journalists (like my cousin, for example, who works for an Australian newspaper and if he is reporting on a new film flies to the location to file a proper report) but poorly paid just post university hacks who get paid on the number of hits their stories attract; as if this was a measure of quality.  It's bad enough that they focus on a tiny group of celebrities whose self publicising antics they are just feeding: the Kardashians (what do any of these people do?), Miley Cyrus, One Direction and non-entities from UK reality shows.

All this is bad enough but Yahoo OMG has an awful house writing style which seems to be entirely based on how a particular type of stupid American teenager speaks (and it's not clear if they themselves have picked this up from their depiction on screen so it becomes a horrible circle of banality as each copies the other).   I cannot fathom why a UK website wants its writers to write in a way that reflects how they think young Americans speak.  This does, however seem to be a deliberate policy.  The very worst of these Yahoo journalists is a lady called Rachel Pilcher (who is known to her very many detractors as The Pilchard, inevitably).  A classic example of her recent writing is here.   This piece is so bad that nearly all the comments are about how incomprehensible it is rather than the (frankly impenetrable) story itself.   Yahoo don't care, of course, because they are only interested in hits.  In another piece, a couple of days before that, Pilchard described an event as a "damp squid".  It's SQUIB you worthless excuse for a writer.  

So who is this semi-literate word mangler?  Some fifteen year old hired to "get down with the kids"?  A computer programme that randomly generates text based on web crawls?  A foreign student still in their first week of an English course at a shabby Oxford Street language school?  Or even a room fall of chimpanzees banging away randomly at keyboards?  No, because all of these would do a better job than Pilchard.  It turns out that she has a 2.1 degree in English language from the University of Reading (ranks 37th in Britain - their English course ranks 39th).

We are sure her tutors are very impressed by her ability to write such passages as: "If you're fully onboard the good ship Larry Stylinson then you might want to take a seat and get yourself a cold flannel ready, because someone has made a Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson face morph and it's everything you never knew you wanted. The ridiculously flawless morph has been making it's way across the One Direction fandom, and - oh, you haven't seen it yet? Oh, well, TA-DAH. HAPPY BIRTHDAY. MERRY CHRISTMAS. HAPPY EASTER. And everything else inbetween.STICK A FORK IN US, WE'RE ACTUALLY DONE. Well done, like a gourmet steak. Or a cheap one, whatever. Everybody take a deep breathe and compose yourselves. Ready? Grool."   Rachel you are a young woman in your early twenties trying to make a (short-lived, I suspect) career in journalism, so why do you insist in writing in a parody of how you think a twelve year old speaks. And stop using random capitalisation. And stop using invented abbreviations like "awks" for awkward. CRINGE.

Pilchard has obviously spotted some negative comments as she moans on her blog:  "Figured I should learn some sort of new life skill too, so I've decided to try and stop reading comments on things I write and just let the haters, er, hate... As you'd probably expect, not everyone is always so keen on what I write, how I write it and why I write it, and some stories get some pretty brutal comments. Or I get tweeted telling me I suck and need a new career. Not exactly a confidence booster."  So do something about it, woman!  Don't ignore criticism, learn from it!  Rachel, we are sure you are a lovely girl but writers like you have a duty to stop the slide in the appalling decline in the standard of young people's English in this country.  You are actually contributing to damaging young people's prospects.  You must be stopped!