Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

24th December 2015

Loneliness, what is the point of it?
Posted by at 3.51pm | Fun | No responses

I’m spending Christmas at my parents’, with limited internet access (pray for me) but I’ll be back in a few days with some exciting news for all my readers.

In the meantime, here’s a lovely little video from Den of Geek, for anyone who is feeling a bit lonely this festive season. Susie Dent and Luke Goss in the same video? It happened!

A little cheesy perhaps, but its heart is in the right place. Besides, it was either that or I link to the Robert Dyas advert.

25th December 2014

Home for Christmas
Posted by at 12.32pm | Liverpool | No responses

Christmas Day this year comes after a fortnight of grim news, what with the Sydney siege, the Pakistan school massacre and the lorry accident in Glasgow.

Amidst all the sad news, it’s worth remembering that human beings, as a species, are generally good. There are many people out and about this Christmas helping those less fortunate. The Whitechapel Centre, for one, are out and about on the streets of Liverpool this Christmas. They will be giving support and advice to the homeless and, today, serving Christmas dinner to rough sleepers.

It’s definitely an organisation worth supporting. I can’t think of many things worse than spending this time of year on the streets – surrounded by festive cheer, yet strangely apart from it all. For those who are taking time out of their Christmas Day to help others, I salute you.

Merry Christmas everybody!

24th December 2014

Value of Nothing

David Cameron has given a Christmas message:-

At this important time of year for the Christian faith I send my best wishes to everyone in the UK and around the world celebrating Christmas.

Among the joyous celebrations we will reflect on those very Christian values of giving, sharing and taking care of others. This Christmas I think we can be very proud as a country at how we honour these values through helping those in need at home and around the world.

Politicians banging on about religion almost always sounds like cynical pandering. It’s especially so when it’s David Cameron – leader of a government which has pushed many families into poverty. 90,000 children will wake up homeless on Christmas morning. Shelter reports that the number of homeless families living in B&Bs has trebled this year.

So merry Christmas, Mr Cameron. I will wait until May 2015 for the top present on my wish list – your exit from Nunmber 10.

14th November 2014

War! What is it good for? Ad-solutely nothing
Posted by at 7.02pm | Television | No responses

The unveiling of the big store chains’ Christmas ads seems to be a big event these days. Leader of the pack is John Lewis, who have given us adorable kids, shopping snowmen and, this year, horny lonely penguins.

Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, have upped the ante on heartstring-tugging with their commercial inspired by the First World War. It’s based upon the legendary Christmas Truce of 1914, when some German and British troops emerged from their front lines to exchange gifts, sing carols and even play a football match or two.

Watching it for the first time, I felt uncomfortable. There was something, I don’t know… off about it. The ad was made with the co-operation of the Royal British Legion, who will receive a cut of the proceeds from some of Sainsbury’s Christmas food. But exploiting one of the bloodiest wars in history to get people through the doors of a supermarket? That seems wrong to me.

There was something beyond that, though – something which was unsettling to me, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. Then I saw this column by Ally Fogg in the Guardian, which nails it:-

Exploiting the first world war for commercial gain is tasteless. This, however, is not what disturbs me most. The really upsetting details are the stunning shot of the robin on the wire, the actors’ trembles as they cautiously emerge from the trenches, half expecting a sniper’s bullet, the flicker of understanding in the eyes as the young soldiers reach into their pockets at the end. The film-makers here have done something to the first world war which is perhaps the most dangerous and disrespectful act of all: they have made it beautiful.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that higher-ups in the army on both sides forbade the Christmas 1914 events from happening again. On subsequent Christmas Days the soldiers blasted away at each other, as they did every other day of the war.

Iceland’s advert (starring Peter Andre) looks positively tasteful by comparison.

5th January 2013

Plenty-Twelve

Continuing on from yesterday’s review of the year-type thing.

BBC Television CentreJuly (actually, the end of June, but I wrote the blog post on 1st July) saw me make a trip to the legendary BBC Television Centre to watch a recording of Pointless. It was a most enjoyable experience, even if the Central African Republic didn’t come up as an answer. I’m seriously tempted to go back as a contestant.

Liverpool’s Festival Gardens reopened after many years of dereliction. The government announced a whole load of railway improvement schemes, coupled with further plans to price-gouge passengers. I bemoaned the tendency for reviews to oversimplify things with a simple score.

I fretted about Global Warming (and now, after experiencing a week of unseasonably mild weather, I’m even more worried). Heat of a different kind in Liverpool city centre, as preachers continued to claim everyone was going to Hell.

Read the rest of this post »

27th December 2012

Goodwill to all men (but not those who love other men)
Posted by at 3.40pm | Gay, In the News | 1 response

With all the crass commercialism, overeating and excessive drinking, it’s sad to see that people have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. I refer, of course, to some of Britain’s religious leaders, who chose Christmas Day, of all days, to attack their favourite target of the moment: teh gayz.

Exhibit A: Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and the head of the Catholic church in England and Wales:

The head of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales issued his strongest attack yet on the government’s plans to introduce same-sex marriage, lambasting them as “shambolic” and accusing the prime minister of “shallow thinking”.

In the most divisive of a host of Christmas Day comments from religious leaders, the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, questioned the democratic credentials of the plans, which could see the first gay weddings take place in 2014.

Exhibit B: The Bishop of Shrewsbury:

Bishop Davies believes the government’s decision to introduce equal marriage rights in England and Wales in 2013 is similar to how Hitler and Stalin tried to undermine religious freedom.

The senior Catholic will say: “Past generations have gathered in this cathedral on Christmas night amid many shadows which seemed to obscure the future for them.

“We think of the ideologies of the past century, Communism and Nazism, which in living memory threatened to shape and distort the whole future of humanity.”

The Nazi allusion is particularly offensive, given the number of homosexuals slaughtered by Hitler’s henchmen.

With war, poverty and oppression still commonplace around the world, it’s amazing that church leaders are focusing so heavily on gay rights. Their obsession with the issue is troubling and out of step with public opinion, with the latest poll showing a clear majority (60%) of the public in favour.

In any case, if church leaders did feel the need to speak out, could they not have left it alone for just one day? A Christmas truce, maybe?

25th December 2012

If you’re wondering why there’s no public transport today…
Posted by at 12.00pm | Fun, Trains | 1 response

…and a reduced service tomorrow, I can explain it. All the bus and train staff are hiding in shame after taking part in seasonal singalongs.

The above is from Network West Midlands, the Artist Formerly Known as Centro. For sheer musical wonderment, however, the video below – an unofficial effort from Greater Anglia’s finest – wins out. Do They Know It’s Christmas? Do they know the tune?

I shouldn’t be churlish, I suppose. Well done them for getting into the Christmas spirit. Season’s greetings to you all.

24th December 2012

Bauballs
Posted by at 2.57pm | In the News | 1 response

Too late to get any for this Christmas, but how would you like some Bauballs adorning your Christmas tree?

Bauballs!

This is not a concerted effort to scandalise your Nan, or annoy the Daily Mail (although I daresay it would do both of those things). It’s a campaign by Orchid, the male cancer charity, to raise awareness of the scourge of testicular cancer. Check out their site for more.

25th December 2011

Christmas Hampo
Posted by at 11.00am | It's My Life | No responses

Christmas TreeIt’s Christmas Day, in case you haven’t noticed.

Back when I was a little kid, I got annoyed (probably thanks to influence from my mother) that the religious origins of Christmas were getting lost amidst rampant consumerism and secular merriment. A decade or so later and the position is somewhat reversed. What faith I had has long since evaporated and Christmas is a strictly secular celebration for me. In fact, I kind of wish they’d demolish that Church down the road from me – it’s the perfect location for a new Starbucks.

That said, there are plenty of aspects of Christmas which can be embraced by everyone. Peace on earth, goodwill to all men. Giving gifts. Spending time with loved ones. Thinking of those less fortunate than yourself. In fact, I’d argue that we, as a society, should perhaps set aside more than one day a year for those things.

Of course, many of our modern-day Christmas traditions are derived from old Pagan customs for Winter Solstice. Apparently one ritual involved building a fire in the woods and dancing naked around it. I think it’s high time for this one to make a comeback. Does anyone have any matches?

Merry Christmas everybody!

24th December 2011

Selection Box
Posted by at 7.04pm | Television | No responses

You can tell Christmas is here, because the Liverpool branch of Wilkinson had Creme Eggs and chocolate bunnies out on the shelves today. Until now I’d always thought that this sort of thing only happened in the minds of lazy stand-up comedians, but no. Still, I suppose it’s handy for anyone who wants to celebrate Jesus’s birth and death at the same time.

As ever, the TV companies wheel out the big guns at Christmas. I’ve been through the Radio Times, although the traditional circling of programmes with a red biro has been replaced this year by the setting of the digital TV recorder. Here’s what my TVonics box will be recording over the next few days.

Tonight

Lapland (BBC One, 10pm): An obnoxious Birkenhead family go on a trip to Lapland and along the way learn the true meaning of Christmas. It doesn’t sound incredibly promosing, but the wonderful Sue Johnston is in it, so it won’t be a total waste of time.

Read the rest of this post »