Robert Hampton

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December 2009

7th December 2009

Toys R Bust
Posted by at 3.54pm | Fun, In the News | 1 response

I think this is my favourite Christmas-related news story ever: a kids’ musical toy has been recalled by the manufacturer because concerned parents thinks it sings “paedophile” instead of “jingle bells”.

The Today Programme reported on this important issue this morning and the audio clip is worth listening to, if only for the reaction of John Humphrys.

10th December 2009

It’s oh so quiet, and so peaceful until… here comes noisy Smurf!
Posted by at 11.37pm | It's My Life, Stage | 1 response

So I haven’t really posted much lately, have I? Sorry about that, I’ve been… occupied. Ahem. I have been posting little titbits on my Twitter feed, so WHY AREN’T YOU READING THAT?!

Should I talk about Never Forget: The Musical, which I went to see with my wonderful sister last week? I’m sure some will hold up their hands in horror at the thought of a musical based on Take That songs, but actually I enjoyed it. It’s relentlessly silly, but it knows it and never tries to be anything more than a bit of shamelessly cheesy fluff. An entertaining enough treat, especially if you want to see the show’s resident sexpot Philip Olivier attempt to do a Manchester accent.

Erm, that’s it. I think I’m getting a bit bored of blogging. I need something to inspire me beyond the finely-honed torso of a former Brookside actor and an amusing singing toy. I’m sure something will come along eventually. In the meantime, here’s some music…

11th December 2009

In the Cards
Posted by at 8.55pm | It's My Life | No responses

It’s that time of year again to send out the Christmas cards. If I leave it much longer I will have to use first class post (expensive!) so I need to push them out over the weekend if possible.

WHSmith had a 3 for 2 offer running this week, so I took advantage of it to get three different packs of cards for all tastes: funny but slightly offensive (what I like to call the Simon Amstell option), funny but inoffensive (Michael McIntyre), not funny at all (Mock the Week).

There is of course the eternal dilemma: what if I get a Christmas card from someone to whom I have not sent one in return? This is the sort of thing I lose sleep over! Luckily for me, most people I know take the charitable option of believing I’m a forgetful idiot instead of a lazy, uncaring one. But in case there’s any doubt, if you don’t get a card from me, it means I don’t have your address. Honest.

13th December 2009

A Short History of The X-Factor, Not In Ukrainian
Posted by at 3.49pm | Fun, Television | 1 response

So the X-Factor final is tonight. I’m not particularly interested since the main reason to watch the show exited a few weeks back.

I’m completely over the whole TV music show thing, mainly because it rarely delivers on its premise. For every Will Young and Leona Lewis there is a Michelle McManus, Leon Jackson or Steve Brookstein. Simon Cowell and his mates rake in the cash and everyone else gets trampled in the process (remember when the Christmas number one wasn’t a foregone conclusion?)

So rather than dwell on it, I’ll post this video from the BBC Comedy site, featuring Mr Saturday Night Telly Voice Man himself, Peter Dickson.

15th December 2009

When there was only one set of footprints, it was then that I Carragher’d you
Posted by at 9.06am | In the News | 1 response

Today’s Metro carries the story that Liverpool FC’s Jamie Carragher prays before every match for success.

As a match-winning tactic it’s not brilliant. For starters, what if the other team start praying too? Then you’re relying on God being a Liverpool fan.

Taking into account Liverpool’s recent results, can we conclude, therefore, that God doesn’t exist? Not necessarily: I actually think that He is just being vengeful and punishing Carragher for his sins. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO INCUR THE LORD’S WRATH, CARRAGHER?!

17th December 2009

Xmas the Spot
Posted by at 11.16pm | Television | 1 response

The weather’s getting colder, the nights are getting longer and Ryan Giggs has won the X Factor (or something). It can only mean one thing: Christmas approaches, and as usual the broadcasters clear their schedules for some festive hijinks.

Here is my pick of the Christmas TV schedules. I actually thought I’d done this last year, but in fact it was all the way back in 2006 when I hand-picked some top Christmas telly, so it’s high time I did it again. There’s a lot of dross this year, and a big thumbs down to BBC Two who fill an hour of precious peaktime on Christmas Day with a repeat of the previous week’s Top Gear! Still, there’s some proverbial wheat to be found among the chaff. Here’s my choice.

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20th December 2009

Facebook: not just for using your personal data!
Posted by at 7.06pm | Music | No responses

Well, isn’t this wonderful:-

Rock band Rage Against The Machine has won the most competitive battle in years for the Christmas number one.

The band’s single, Killing In The Name, sold 500,000 downloads beating X Factor winner Joe McElderry’s The Climb by 50,000 copies to clinch the top spot.

Their success followed a Facebook campaign designed to prevent another X Factor number one.

Clearly the problem of illegal downloads is overblown: all you have to do is start a Facebook campaign and people will happily pay to download a song.

Not that I particularly liked The Climb, but no-one should pretend that Rage Against The Machine’s victory is any less manufactured than the X Factor winners of the past few years. Also, couldn’t they have picked a good song to go up against Simon Cowell? Especially as it’s ultimately Sony who own both songs, so the evil corporate people get the money anyway! WELL DONE EVERYONE.

23rd December 2009

2 Days? That’s Snow Time At All
Posted by at 10.34pm | It's My Life | No responses

I think tonight I’ve finally started feeling Christmassy. Today was my penultimate day in work and my last trip to the gym which closed today for the Christmas holiday (it re-opens on Bank Holiday Monday, and it will be comical to see me there attempting a workout following several days of binge-eating).

I spent most of the night helping to wrap presents for my nephews, which engrossed me so much I didn’t even notice it had been snowing. I only realised when I looked in our back garden and saw this untouched snow lying on the ground:-

I can’t wait for Christmas! 😀

24th December 2009

Xmas Factor
Posted by at 6.38pm | In the News | No responses

Every year, no sooner have the decorations gone up then there’s the usual complaints that politically correct forces are marginalising Christmas. The lunatic fringe in America has managed to whip up a “War on Christmas”. Here it’s not so bad, we just get the odd story about killjoys at the office banning decorations, or councils renaming it “Winterval”, or other such Daily Mail-sponsored nonsense.

The most common complaint is about people who — supposedly because they don’t want to offend non-Christian faiths — say “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas. “Jesus is the reason for the season,” comes the cry, “don’t take the Christ out of Christmas!”

These complaints all miss the point and I will explain why.

Christmas is a Christian festival, but it’s hardly the first religion to celebrate a major festival in the darkest nights of winter. Let’s travel back in time, Doctor Who fashion, to when Paganism ruled supreme: the Winter Solstice was the biggest event of the season and the ancient Britons busied themselves offering sacrifices to their various Gods. Many other cultures also evolved a good old-fashioned knees up at this time of year. There are numerous theological explanations for December becoming party central, but I suspect the practical reason is simple: it’s winter, it’s dark, it’s cold, and people want something to cheer themselves up.

Christmas has now evolved into something rather wonderful: spending time with the family, giving presents, copping a feel at the office party and generally spreading goodwill and cheer wherever you go. It seems rather mean-spirited to get pedantic over the exact terminology at a time like this.

So, don’t get angry when someone says “Season’s Greetings” to you at your town’s Winterval party. Just remember the main reason for this time of year: peace on Earth, consideration for your fellow human beings and health and happiness for all. Remember also, that this can and should apply every day, not just December 25th, to people of every faith and people of no faith.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that, if Christianity hadn’t intervened, right about now we would all be stripping naked, painting our bodies and dancing in circles around a fire in the woods in an ancient Pagan rite… and doesn’t that sound like much more fun than pulling crackers and watching the Queen’s Speech?

Hm, where can I get bodypaint and firelighters this time of night?

27th December 2009

Posted by at 5.03pm | Television | No responses

The BBC had nine of the top 10 shows on Christmas Day, according to the ratings people. The only ITV1 show to make the list was Coronation Street.

Many criticise ITV1 for not making much of an effort at Christmas. This ignores the fact that ITV1 is a commercial channel which makes its money from advertising, and the advertisers don’t want to spend money on Christmas Day when there are no shops open. The big spend from advertisers comes before Christmas, hence ITV1 devoting its energies in November and December.

It’s an argument which isn’t mentioned much when the licence fee is debated, but it’s one which should be considered: strip the BBC of its guaranteed funding and force it to rely on advertising income, and you’ll see an equally unimaginative schedule on BBC1 on December 25 in future years.

Just look at what happens in America, where the Christmas specials usually go out in the first week of December. On the day itself a load of old films and repeats are usually served up by the big networks.

Would it be the end of the world if Christmas Day ceased to be a big family-around-the-TV day? Probably not, but you can guarantee that those who howl loudest about the licence fee (the Daily Mail and its ilk) would also be the first to complain about the dire Christmas schedules that would result.

30th December 2009

Nintendo D(is)S

So, the Nintendo DS only supports WEP encryption, even though WEP has been deprecated due to it being insecure? Therefore, if I want to use Nintendo Wi-fi connection, I have to leave my network vulnerable to hackers?

Well, that was 30 quid well spent on a wireless router, wasn’t it?! 🙁

31st December 2009

2009? More like Woo! Thousand and Nine!

Was this year an exciting way to say goodbye to the decade? Here’s a reminder of what happened on planet Hampo this year (part 2, hopefully, follows tomorrow):-

January started out with one of my favourite shows being revived. Despite being up against EastEnders and being hosted by Ben Shepherd, the Krypton Factor did well enough to be recommissioned for a second series. We found out Who would replace David Tennant, and a year later we still haven’t actually seen him in the role. ITV’s latest attempt to ape the success of Doctor Who was Demons which failed spectacularly; the only creative thing about it being the number of different excuses the writers found for Christian Cooke to remove clothing.

In the wider world, various eras were drawing to a close, as Woolworths closed its doors, Tony Hart kicked the bucket and Dubya left office. Meanwhile, yours truly had an enjoyable night in London Theatreland.

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