Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Why Club biscuits are banned by my wife from our house #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...certain products are banned from your house for some reason.


I'm doing something in the kitchen that uses the same square-metre of floorspace as my Long-Suffering Wife (LSW)

ME
(SINGS) Love a club... Love a club...
If you don't lub-a-dub then you don't lub a dub
Cause everyone loves a Club.

LSW
I hate all adverts for Club.

ME
You don't like the song?

LSW
No they stopped us in Guildford High Street - me and my cousin - and said "Do you like chocolate?!"
It was us, of course we love chocolate!
"Can we borrow your children to help us for half an hour?"
Of course! "We're in the White Hart Hotel" or somewhere on the High Street.
So we left our parents, went off with these two adults.

ME
Ahhh, the 1980s.

LSW
I was so random I remember it so clearly.
We must've been about 11.
They showed us a load of adverts.
We went into this room in a hotel and there were other kids hoiked off the High Street, and they showed a load of adverts, and Club must've been one of them.

ME
How did you know they were from Club?

LSW
She started going on and on about Club.
Club this and Club that, but no-one could remember it, and it became pretty obvious they were marketing or advertising for Club.

ME
Can you remember which one - was it the one: (SINGS) "Have you ever seen a biscuit chocolatey... Lubba-dubba-lubba-dubba.. Lub Dub"

LSW
I couldn't remember it then and I can't remember it now.
They kept saying it was thick chocolate, and I remember saying "but the chocolate isn't very thick." But I suppose it was thick for a biscuit. I was probably comparing it to things like a Mars Bar.

And that was the hook "Do you like chocolate?!"
I didn't even get a whiff of chocolate.
Or anything at the end of it

ME
You didn't get paid.

LSW
I got a pen.
It didn't even have the word CLUB on it.
It was just this normal biro.
I'm not sure if they were dissatisfied with my services.
That their advertising campaign wasn't working, at all.

ME
(SINGS) Everyone loves a club!

LSW
I might've stolen the pen.

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Disney princes and princesses, which way round and what next #DadDirt


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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Disney princes and princesses, which way round and what next #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you can predict entertainment for your kids.


Here’s something I wasn’t expecting: In Walt Disney World, I met my first ever cross-dressed cast member.
A sales assistant working proudly and prominently in the shop nearest the entrance.

It was glorious.

What my eyes and prejudices believes to be what a man looks like - with pretty hair clips, glasses, and a uniform dress: the female shop staff uniform.

My kids were running rampant trying out the branded fidget spinners, so we were there for about 20 minutes.

And I was transfixed by the reactions.

Nicole wasn’t nervous, but had the body language of someone who’s dealt with our reactions her whole life.

The men - all Dads - would stand side-on.
Without fail.

Maybe to avoid eye-contact, to make sure they look like they're not staring... ironically to show that they’re cool, by not being cool.

We are in awe.

Because for most straight men, it's difficult enough getting dressed in the clothes we've got...
Let alone dealing with a whole new wardrobe.

So I stood front-on with full eye-contact - realising this is how I probably am with women.
Veering on a letch.

What is the right way?
Everything I do is wrong.

It was shocking because only a few years ago there was no way a Disney cartoon would accept any form of cross-dressing in its comedy.

It hit me how much of that is a part of British comedy - panto, big dumb characters in “wrong” clothes. Probably dates back hundreds of years to the upside down world of carnival in many cultures...

You just could not put it into an international cartoon script - especially if it was for the US.

So here might be the next unexpected step.
We think of it as jolly.
Celebratory.

But cross-dressing in comedy might now be blocked for something else.
Being demeaning - coming off that it's laughing at it.

What if Mrs Brown, Lily Savage, all those characters from Gigglebiz to Panto are seen as the “blacking up” of more enlightened transgender times.

Then another thought hit me that night, seeing all the Prince/Princess kiss moments from so many stories across the happiest place on earth:

How far are we from a same-sex happy ending?
Or even “other” gender happy ending?

It could still be a Prince and Princess.

Just maybe dressed the other way round from what we’re used to on screen.

I don’t think it’s that far away.


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My List Of Famous British People From the late 90s #DadDirt


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Saturday, 16 September 2017

My List Of Famous British People From the late 90s #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you can't stop living in the past.


I'm still clearing stuff out - it's an experiment to cut down my electronic hoarding.

I'll publish the things that spark joy.
Like this.

It's a list I made in 1996 of all the people who were famous at the time.

I was a Researcher at the BBC, and the hardest part of the job was thinking up the list of interviewees or subjects or talking heads
(for shows like "Auntie's TV Favourites" or "The End Of The Year Show" or many others that were never made).

The same names kept coming up and I was fed up starting from scratch each time.

So now, for posterity, is my list of famous people in UK culture from 1996.

It was added to over the years, so think of it as a list of famous people from the late nineties...

Obviously some of them are now dead, and others disgraced, some both.

I looked up some who were really big online, shocked at mere hundreds of followers they have now.

I don't know why I am shocked.

Why would they mess about online having been in the papers every day 21 years ago.

Anyway, here's the list - under the, frankly, bizarre headings of Presenters, Acting, Comedy and Other.




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Boy George on Larry Grayson’s Generation Game - how I got to watch every single one


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Friday, 15 September 2017

Boy George on Larry Grayson’s Generation Game - how I got to watch every single one



This is probably the first VT I ever produced - which means it’s the first bit of TV where I found the clips, shot the speaker and put it all in the right order for it to be played to a studio audience and out on BBC One (which was then called BBC1).

Boy George on Larry Grayson’s Generation Game




Found it in the loft - and don’t know why I feel like I need to put it out there.
I’m still really proud of it and stuff from exactly 20 years ago was on my mind (weirdly before all of the Diana deathiversary stuff came up this summer).

This was big for me for a bunch of reasons...
DV tape cameras were the new thing in 1997.
Before then, you had to book a full crew to shoot anything at the BBC (or anywhere else in TV).
There are good reasons for this - as the rubbish picture and sound quality in that clip shows. But it meant that quickie talking-heads items were expensive to make - especially as John Birt had just introduced “Producer Choice” - an internal market for putting a cost value on everything that the BBC did.

I was very junior on the team, and like now with youngsters and their online skills, I was the one to put myself up for an afternoon of training on turning these cameras on and pointing them in the right direction.

The second thing that was awesome was that I watched every single Larry Grayson show I could get my hands on. It’s funny, but the “Birt Bucks” we saved by shooting ourselves on this new camera were completely blown by the BBC archive charging £10 for every VHS tape we borrowed - wathcing and reusing clips suddenly became very expensvie with the fake internal market Birt Bucks...

The third goes way back. I grew up in NW1 and went to school in NW3. I’d go visit and play in some very nice homes in Hampstead - with families who were really friendly - but these were other worlds. Gothic piles with crazy number of floors, compared to our 1970’s converted upper maisonette.

To be going on my first shoot, back into one of these buildings - Boy George’s internationally famous home - somehow felt like I’d made it.

He was really polite - that special purple hat is something I now spot through the decades with glee - but we were rightly escorted into the room and nowhere else, did it, and then left. Then the happiest week of slamming his story between those bits of Larry Grayson gold - on 2 VHS machines linked together by a controller that laid each clip down one at a time. I think I did a thing where the two audio tracks could overlap each other by putting Larry on the left and George on the right of the stereo. It was so much more fun laying things down and seeing what worked in a linear way, tape-to-tape, than the precision you can fiddle around with now. Maybe the decisions were bolder - it seems to take exactly the same amount of time to edit things with computers now.

I took that VHS I’d made in the office into a VT booth at Television Centre, and then the brilliant VT editor, Nick Peto, made it sing. Using the actual tapes of the shows on a bank of D3 machines that hummed and whined as he tweaked in and out points of the footage, showing me tricks that made the thing rock along.

My only regret is that the Airman marching at the end of the bit ran long at the end of my version, and was cut for time in the final show. It’s still in the loft somewhere. I’ll put it up when I find it.

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That heartbreaking moment when someone starts showing you stuff on their phone and 162-168 bits of #DadDirt


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Thursday, 14 September 2017

That heartbreaking moment when someone starts showing you stuff on their phone and 162-168 bits of #DadDirt



Thoughts, plans, ideas, hopes, dreams from this week

Monday 11 September
They say you should try to get F- You Money.
But I always seem to get the money where I'm F---ed.

Tuesday 12 September
There's only one crime worse than Contempt Of Court.
And that's Contempt of Facebook.
(Or maybe negative feedback on ebay).

Wednesday 13 September
That heartbreaking moment. When someone starts showing you stuff on their phone.
Life is a competition to hold out from showing someone stuff on your phone.

Thursday 14 September
Asked son to fetch the remote.
My Dad got me up to change the channels.
Progress.

Friday 15 September
That moment when your kids embarrass you in public so much, you consider lying to bystanders that they are “special”.

Saturday 16 September
I’m not a Dad.
I am a Netflix scheduler and projectionist.
And my family give me HDMI love.

Sunday 17 September
I don't want to hear about what people are doing to you.
I very much want to hear about what you are doing to people.


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My latest dream involving famous people in a derelict town #DadDirt


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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

I want to get a dashcam and I dont know why #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...there’s always more technology you can buy.


I want to get a dashcam for my car, and I don’t know why.

A dashcam is this camera that you put on your dashboard to film out of your windscreen.

Like videoing it all, is going to somehow prove that everyone else’s driving is worse than mine.

I already know that.

And now even more stuff that I won’t get round to watching.

I’ve got photos from my children’s birth that I haven’t opened yet, but I’m now going to store and record footage from every trip to Lidl as well?

And you know these things record the sound of what’s going on in the car.

I’ll say it.
I would prefer to get crashed into on an illegal move than have to release video footage of what I say in the car.

Like I don’t make any bad choices: nobody needs to take their road rage onto YouTube.

That’s a big thumbs down on your B-road Barneys.

I’m fed up with the evidence gathering.

Every time I look up there’s 3 cameras pointing at me that probably aren’t being looked at.

How about something on the dashboard that lets the moment go...

Something that instantly offers forgiveness.

Oh yeah, we’ve got it there already.

The Mirror.

Ahhhh.

“What if someone cuts you up though?”
We should look in the mirror. It’s all the evidence you need.

“But some pillock’s just cut you up. Why are you looking in the mirror?”
No, I’m not explaining it right.

Alright, I’ll get the dashcam camera, and have it pointing at me.
That’ll make my driving better.

The insurance company would hate that.

And maybe that's another reason we should do it.


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My son doesn’t want to do anything. And I feel exactly the same way too. #DadDirt


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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

My son doesn’t want to do anything. And I feel exactly the same way too. #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you want your kids to do more of less too.


I was such an ungrateful kid.
And I see it exactly the same in my 8 year-old son - but I don’t take it as ungratefulness.
He has done Beavers, swimming, wild child, Choi Kwang Do, cooking, tennis and “perform” and he doesn’t want to do any of it.

My Mum organised after-school activities for us every single night of the week.
Monday: Cubs, Tuesday: Cub Club, Weds: Clarinet, Thurs: I think Thursday was the only night off and I loved that. But that was filled with mates visits, concerts and trips. Friday: Gymnastics at Sobell Sports Centre, Saturday: Ackland Burghley Saturday morning music...

There were so many activities, there was never any time left to get good at any of them.

And all I wanted to do was stare out of the window.

It was so specific - it was the low Victorian window in the Front Room.
You could kneel on a cushion and just stare down at the street.
I very specifically wanted to watch rain falling on that pavement as my after-school activity.

I wonder if it was because Mum wanted us out of the house.
But with all our separate activities, all she ever did was tear round Holloway, Camden and Kentish Town in our battered Vauxhall Viva.
God, maybe she just loved being in that car.
It was independence. When I cleared out their loft for them to move, she’d kept the passenger seat up there.
A full 1980’s car seat. In our loft.

And now my son - the same age - doesn’t want to do anything after school.

I know how much he wants to stay in and do the same as staring out of the window that he doesn’t want to tell me.

And I think it’s good that he instead gets out there and meets people and experiences new things and masters something - anything - other than staring out of the window.

I can’t grant him the wish that I wanted.
Means I can get in some more window time.

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My mate has this watch that tells him whats on his phone. #DadDirt


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Monday, 11 September 2017

My mate has this watch that tells him whats on his phone. #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...all the technology now works against you.


My mate’s got this watch that tells him what’s on his phone.
Maybe I’m not telling it right.

He’s got this watch, right - that's a watch.
But... it also tells him everything that’s coming into his phone.

No, I need to explain.

So he doesn’t have to get out his phone, that’s there, in his pocket... every single time something comes into the phone, ping, there... it’s also “ping!” there.
In his eyeline.

Right in his eyeline, so he doesn’t even have to take the phone out of his pocket.

He could be, in the middle of a sentence - say, to me - or something, but, ping, he doesn’t have to concentrate on all that, because “ping!” the thing that’s just come into his phone is now in his eyeline.

And this means, he can repeat the stuff that’s coming into his phone, sent by other people, any time they want, he can say the stuff that’s coming into the phone in his pocket, to me.

So he’s got this watch and he’s telling me stuff that’s coming into his phone... some news, an update, hang on it's a message from the council, they want some more paperwork...
...and he can tell me all this because it’s right in his eyeline.

He’s completely up to date on anything that's stopping him from doing everything.

And this is brilliant.

I know he thinks this is brilliant because he’s telling me about all the stuff that’s coming into his phone, by just looking at his wrist.

And he doesn’t even have to pause to tell me what’s coming into the phone, sent by other people, whenever they want, he can keep me up to date by just looking at the watch that’s there, instead of reaching into his pocket every time someone sends him something, as soon as they’ve sent it to his phone.

I know what you’re thinking.

If he’s there, looking at his watch so much, and telling you what’s coming into his phone, how can you get him to concentrate on what you are saying?

Well, the problem is that my updates are not urgent enough, because they are only right here coming out of my face.

But the urgent stuff is over there.
In his pocket.
On his phone.
Being sent to his wrist.
By everyone else.

I’m not in his eyeline, no, I am in his eyeline, but I’m not going “ping!” on his wrist - I think it has a vibrate mode - so what I need to do to fit myself into this stream of stuff... or text him... or work out some other kind of notification for my updates, so that they will now go “ping!” on his wrist.

And then he can stop my non-urgent talking to tell me about my own urgent update.
Look, it's just come in. And it's on his wrist.

And he doesn't have to reach into his pocket ever again.

Because he hasn't got the time.


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They built a coffee shop around this guys work #DadDirt


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Monday, 4 September 2017

They built a coffee shop around this guys work #DadDirt



You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you take a break from work and you're still at work.


A man bellows into his phone.
I'm there with my Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) within earshot.
4 tables away.

MAN ON PHONE
Here's my proposal to you.
You're saying you want some clarity on how you will be paid and the setting of your performance targets.
But if you're saying that's not big enough, you want something bigger, we have to look to the 3 month mark, not the first payment.
This target has to be about a repeat of business...
It has to grow, it's not a 60% target, it's not 100%.
So long as we make those targets about volume.
We have the team.
We have the resources.
But it has to be an achieved target."

ME
He's saying he has the team, and the resources.

LSW
Into his laptop.
On a table.
In a coffee shop.

ME
That is his team.
And his resources.

LSW
Shh, he's still going.

MAN ON PHONE
We need to write a summary.
Do you want to do that now?

ME
He's not even offering to do any of the work.

LSW
Just talking loudly about it instead.

ME
You know, if I can hear it over my Chips soundtrack, technically that makes us his co-workers.

LSW
Someone built a coffee shop around his work.



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How my daughter sees me as a man. In biro. And it's uncanny in every fault. #DadDirt


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