Robert Hampton

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January 2009

1st January 2009

2008? More like Two Thousand and GREAT!

January was marked with a sentiment many Liverpudlians expressed in the final months of 2007, namely that while we wanted Capital of Culture year to go well, there was a nagging suspicion that it would go awry.For me, this question was resolved by the spectacular opening ceremony, spoiled only by Ringo Starr mouthing off on Jonathan Ross’s show.

Meanwhile, on the blog, I started a new regular feature, Hampo’s Book Club — if I interpret the word “regular” strictly, the next installment is due a week next Tuesday. I also took time to laugh at the nasty mobile phones sold by TJ Hughes, before getting incredibly maudlin and deciding to hide from Google, a daft decision which I swiftly reversed.

February brought us Liverpool: The Number Ones Album, a compilation of covers by — it has to be said — mostly second tier Liverpool artists. The good (Anthony Hannah’s cover of Relax) mingled with the bad (Connie Lush?) and the just plain entertaining (The Scaffold!).

I championed the humble semicolon, before spending an uncharacteristic three hours outdoors exploring the Wirral peninsula, and jolly nice it was too. Sun and Cloud returned for one of their occasional appearances.

In the news, the Children’s Commissioner said that maybe damaging children’s hearing wasn’t the best way to get rid of scallies hanging around outside corner shops, and a predictable knee-jerk reaction ensued. A brilliant photo appeared on Flickr of two smashed up Merseyrail trains.

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2nd January 2009

2008? More like Two WOW-sand and Eight!

July started with my lovely pet cat doing his bit for vermin control. Liverpool One claimed its latest fashion victim, as yours truly bought a glorified school satchel manbag. Metro horrified public transport users across the country with a picture of a henna tattoo gone wrong. London Transport’s Oyster smartcard suffered a serious glitch, proving that the only proper travelcard system is one where you scratch the date off with a coin before sealing it with a bit of sticky-back plastic.

In the middle of the month I suddenly remembered that I have a Friends Reunited profile, then remembered why I never use Friends Reunited.

Another triumph for Liverpool’s culture year came with the amazing Tall Ships festival. It was well worth braving the long queues to enjoy the variety of sailing ships assembled from all over the world.

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3rd January 2009

Ben Shephard fiddles while Gordon Burns
Posted by at 2.13pm | Television | No responses

When I heard that ITV were trying a new version of The Krypton Factor, I was simultaneously excited and worried. Excited, because this was one of my favourite shows when I was a kid. Concerned, because modern-day ITV is not exactly renowned for its cerebral shows.

The first episode went out on New Year’s Day and is now available to view on ITV’s catchup site.

The good:-

  • The new logo looks good, and they’ve kept the idea of the K animating into the current round’s symbol.
  • The set looks lovely.
  • The Mental Agility round was suitably tough; harder, in fact, than I remember the original version.
  • The intelligence test (assemble a jigsaw with only touch and a mirror-image on a screen) was classic Krypton Factor.
  • The General Knowledge round kept the nice touch from the classic series of each question being linked somehow to the previous answer.

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Rest assured that I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world
Posted by at 6.46pm | Television | No responses

The new Doctor is Matt Smith and the Internet collective semi-consciousness seems to be predicting a disaster, just like Catherine Tate… er, wasn’t.

He may only be 26 (yikes — I’m 53 days older than him!) but that’s still only three years younger than Peter Davison was when he did it. So there.

4th January 2009

Posted by at 1.55pm | Television | No responses

With Gene Hunt talking in a cod-American accent, Christian Cooke spending half the episode wandering around without a top on, and monster makeup seemingly obtained from the Albanian version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Demons could well be 2009’s early contender for best “trashy yet strangely compelling” telly programme.

More than that I can’t tell you, as I… ahem… fell asleep during the last commercial break, only to be startled out of my slumber by Vernon Kay shouting his way through Family Fortunes. Will I stay awake next week? Stay tuned to find out!

6th January 2009

Abba-dabba-dabba-fixtures and fittings for sale!
Posted by at 1.30pm | In the News | No responses

Farewell Woolies. I’ll fondly remember the many times I walked past and thought about going in, before remembering that many other shops offered better value on almost every product you stocked.

7th January 2009

Posted by at 8.21pm | Trains | No responses

Dear Network Rail,

I’m going to London by train on the 23rd, so please get this mess sorted out before then. Thanks 🙂

Lots of love,

16th January 2009

Longest of long shots
Posted by at 10.37pm | Trains | No responses

Anyone have a building large enough to store a two coach train in? Preferably for free?

18th January 2009

Broken Hart

That’s sad. I remember being glued to my seat during Hart Beat on early-90s Children’s BBC, before trying (unsuccessfully) to recreate some of his techniques at home. It usually resulted in paint all over the place, lots of screwed up paper where I’d made a mistake, and tears before bedtime.

(I’m also glad of the video clip on the BBC report linked to above, because it confirms that he did co-present SMart when it first started, and it wasn’t just my imagination. No-one else I’ve spoken to remembers that!)

20th January 2009

Hail to the Chief
Posted by at 5.00pm | In the News | No responses

From this moment onward, George W Bush is no longer US President! 🙂

21st January 2009

Posted by at 10.14pm | In the News | 1 response

The Advertising Standards Authority will not investigate atheist bus adverts. Probably just as well: I’d imagine ruling on the existence of God is a teensy bit outside the ASA’s remit.

25th January 2009

London Calling
Posted by at 6.50pm | Stage, Trains | 2 responses

On Friday I boarded a Virgin Pendolino heading towards Euston, feeling incredibly smug, thanks to my forward planning which allowed me to book my ticket 10 weeks in advance, getting it for the ridiculously cheap price of £10.60 return. I felt less smug when I realised I had forgotten to take my camera with me, which means you’re going to have to rely on me painting a picture with words, and the one picture I took with my phone’s crappy camera that came out halfway decent:

Blurry London

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27th January 2009

Blind Date
Posted by at 11.34pm | Fun | No responses

The Guardian has collected some of the hilarious ads posted in the dating page of the London Review of Books. My favourite:-

OMG! This magazine is the shizz. Seriously, dudes. Awesome! LOL! Classics lecturer (M, 48). Possibly out of his depth with today’s youth. KTHX! Box no. 2680.