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So, apparently, it's cold here. No one's mentioned the snow all week, and certainly there haven't been hours and hours of news coverage of Hampshire's impression of Hoth as though this white stuff coating the ground was an entirely new phenomenon and nothing else was happening in the rest of the world. There haven't been any sneering articles about "so much much for global warming" and the Fellow At Work Who Knows About This Stuff did not roll his eyes and say "ONE IS CLIMATE, THE OTHER IS FUCKING WEATHER". (He didn't say it in caps, by the way). Nor have there been hysterical articles about how the Gulf Stream is veering away and the Atlantic conveyor is about to switch off. Haven't seen any of those.

Oh, and as usual, dear.

If you haven't seen Nasa's amazing picture of Britain sheeted in white, it's worth a look.

I almost forgot: we were looking for interesting ways of illustrating the spread of the snow across Britain and S. mentioned the Trendsmap (http://trendsmap.com/), which takes Twitters from across the country and shows which terms are trending in which places, with the words rendered in proportion to their usage. So we screengrabbed it and sent it through the usual procedures to clean it up. Sure enough, there was a spread of words across the country, from snow, deep, blizzards in the north to freezing and forecast in the south that reflected the way the weather was working. Pretty interesting.

However, I have been in this game for more than ten years now, and am wise to about 70% of the ways we get tripped up (the rest end up in the corrections file), so I blew up the map to a large size, got indesign to render it at high-quality and examined the tweets for rudeness. Zoom 200% is your friend, mes braves.

Now that Torchwood is finished, it's probably the last time I will ever get to say out loud, in a crowded office: "There is a giant penis over Cardiff".

Also, one of the trending words over Glasgow? "C**t". Oh, regions, so *uncouth*!

We didn't use the map. *g*

[ETA: I just looked at tonight's trends. It is mostly wall-to-wall "Freezing" and "mankini", with a smattering of "sisqo" and "Ivana Trump", which means that everyone is tweeting about Celebrity Big Brother. However, there is a small "penis" over Ashbourne. Stay classy, Derbyshire.]

I have taken next week off work. I've bought enough food that I don't have to go out until next week, I have the last bit of a Spooks rewatch planned and lizbee was posting about Press Gang and now I'd like to rewatch that.

I also have enough milk that I drink cups of tea all day.

Until I was 16 years old, I wasn't allowed to drink either tea or coffee by my dad (No, I don't know either). It was part of the same strange continuum of bizarre and arbitrary edicts that meant I had to eat sandwiches with a knife and fork and ensure that all power cords were clean. I didn't really drink tea until I went to university and even then I drank so much fruit tea that one sniff of blackcurrant transports me back to a land of joss sticks, seven-hour conversations and endless playing of Screamadelica (now immortalised as a postage stamp!).

But somehow, since I started work at the [redacted], tea has become an essential ritual of the day. We get free tea and coffee from the replicators in the middle of the office, so every couple of hours, someone will gather up all the manky tea cups and refill them with No 7 from the machine. We all drink builder's tea as well.

There's that joke from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Did your life pass before your eyes? Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea?" Funny because it's true, I think, even now when there are two Starbucks for every amoeba in Thames Water's systems. But even tea isn't enough to ameliorate how fed up I am with work just now, so I am taking this week off.

I've been rewatching early episodes of Spooks just for old times' sake. It was supposed to be a Harry and Ruth rewatch but I ended up starting from the beginning. It really was very good for four or five seasons there.

I'd forgotten how good Matthew MacFadyen was -- there was a kind of icy practicality that made his crack-up all the more affecting -- but what really surprised me was how much I loved Danny and then Zaf on this go-round, for different reasons. I liked Danny's insouciance and its accompanying moodiness, and how much he was really the heart of the Tom-Zoe-Danny team. I'd also forgotten how much fun Zaf was. He was sarky, charming and competent and had excellent chemistry with almost every other character. It made his eventual useless exit seem even more useless though I understand there were reasons he was written out in that way.

What also strikes you as you watch it is how very little any sort of family intrudes on the show. It's all about the workplace, and while that suits the job that the characters are doing, I was surprised that in eight series they've rarely done storylines about the families of the MI5 officers, and then usually when both partners were in the service.

Some of the writing, particularly in seasons two to four, when they were really hitting their stride, is excellent and the rewatch has pointed up how much the style of writing has changed. Leaving aside season six and its abysmal anti-American arc, useless departure of Zaf and Ros and histrionic love affair, the writing in later seasons has been tighter and action-oriented, ruthlessly streamlined and reminiscent of great US procedurals at its best.

The trade-off for that has been that outside the grid characters (and sometimes including them -- Ben for example, who was simply there to chase people) there have been none of the lovely and strange character moments and memorable one or two-shot antagonists, no one to compare to Jules Siviter or Oliver Mace, for example. It's very efficient and exciting drama but there's less to repay close watching.

The last episode I watched was the lunatic season four finale, which dealt with the death of Princess Diana. It was immensely watchable for Lindsay Duncan alone, and absurdly entertaining but several of the leads were out of character, some of the dialogue was operatic and the plot part of it was pretty stupid. I did wonder how they could have thought it was a good idea, then I saw that it was a Howard Brenton script, and that explained why it got made. Next up: the season five opener, which has one of the finest holy shit moments in a show which has made them its speciality.

And finally, so that this post is not entirely a waste of valuable electrons, links:

Being Human is back on Sunday, on BBC3. The main cast of three has a fourth regular, there's a new antagonist, and I for one am really looking forward to it. I think it was my favourite show of last year. I ended up very much liking Misfits in the end, though its many fails should be acknowledged, but I thought Being Human was better all-round. Last year, the Being Human blog was also a treasure trove of clips, trailers, interviews and prequels and, splendidly, posted links to where you could watch the show online before its first airing. It is here.

A Guardian blog on the five reasons why it was essential viewing devolved into a flamewar over whether it could be a British show when two of the four regulars are Irish.

• Johann Hari thinks the British attitude to work stinks and we should all work less (i'm doing my bit, mate)

• Via HolyMoly, The Doctor's Facebook page. I laughed, particularly at "The Doctor became a fan of … legs" but I am easy like that.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 9th, 2010 02:19 am (UTC)
I did see that NASA photo. And it was cool. Maybe even VERY VERY COLD.
Jan. 9th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC)
Very, very cold for the first time in EVAH, EVAH! if you believe some of the hype this week.
Jan. 9th, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC)
Apparently no one remembers the 1400s, 1600s and 1800s over there. You're getting to be like us!!!

Little Ice Age! Year without a summer!
Jan. 10th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
I know. Skating and winter fairs on the Thames! Years of torrential rain all summer, ruined crops coinciding with the Black Death! It's a little scary walking around but it's not The Day After Tomorrow.
Jan. 11th, 2010 06:31 am (UTC)
It's awfully cold here, too. It was 0 Fahrenheit today with nasty wind. And I had to take down my outside holiday decorations. Bummer.

It's done now, though.
Jan. 9th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)
Good luck with all of the above. A week off from work stupidity + Spooks watching sounds unbearably brilliant. I am about to commit homicide and/or GBH, but am not due for any time off until February (feh).

I shall be practicing restraint and martinis until then.

Jan. 9th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC)
I think your work days are more full of hassle than mine and they're certainly more full of whirlwind travel and responsibility, so best of luck with restraining the huge urge to punch someone in the head, and I wish for you that February comes quicker than Martini-poisoning.
Jan. 9th, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)
I would complain about not getting weeks off, but I had two two-day workweeks in a row, and next weekend is a four-day, so I shan't.

I really do need to catch up on Spooks, don't I?

Anyway, I have to admit one of the weird things about living in the Bay Area is that our weather just doesn't get extreme. So the rest of the country or the world is all spinning about the snow or the heat, and I just mark the seasons by taking one layer of covers off my bed. It's quite understated, and I feel a tiny bit guilty about it.

BTW, I just was listening to that fab BBC4 program on the "Night Witches" on the bus today. What an awesome story (except for the poor woman who crashed, was captured by the Nazis, and then when the war was over was horribly tortured by her own people--jfc, the Soviet secret services were loathesome).
Jan. 9th, 2010 12:39 pm (UTC)
Spooks really is ruthlessly efficient entertainment these days, and the latest series was pretty good. I just miss the odd moments of quirkiness and erudition it had earlier on.

The Bay area has never been cold when I was there, but you did have quite the festival of fog. *g*
Jan. 9th, 2010 03:53 am (UTC)
I found the Master facebook page after you linked the Doctor's.
Jan. 9th, 2010 12:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link. I liked it very much
Jan. 9th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
What Nasa photo is this?
Jan. 9th, 2010 05:26 am (UTC)
The news is driving me MAD! (and not only because we have to watch it three times a day and it's always the BLOODY SAME!) Why is 5 cm of snow a big deal people? Up North we have this ALL THE TIME! FFS!!!

And they could stop it with all the disastery headlines as well. "EXAMS MIGHT EXPLODE IN YOUR FACE!" Followed by the actual story which is "councils say schools will open as normal for exams despite the weather and heads say there were be enough staff in to invigilate even if the rest of the school are sent home so that exams can go ahead."

ARRRRRRRGHHHHH!!!! *breathes*

Though I like your twitter map. Bless the little separated countries and their obsession with sexual organs. Cardiff and Glasgae FTW!

Jan. 9th, 2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
I know it's a big story and interesting but the newspapers are going slightly crackers over it. Probably because there's not a lot else happening.

As for the Twitter map, it's oddly fascinating, particularly when there are big stories happening. You sort of see the words roll across the country, in between the @joemcelderry91 and #cbb listings.
Jan. 9th, 2010 06:05 am (UTC)
omg the facebook page is killing me. Too freaking funny. Thanks for the link; I'm definitely passing it on!
Jan. 9th, 2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. I picked it up from HolyMoly, so I am not entirely sure where it came from.
Jan. 9th, 2010 11:28 am (UTC)
My favourite sites (both via Twitter) have been Raintoday.co.uk which shows impending rain and snow showers in real time; and Ben Marsh's UK Snow site which maps tweets that use the #uksnow hashtag.


Gawd, the news. Anyone would think we haven't had snow like this for 30 years ... oh wait.
Jan. 9th, 2010 12:54 pm (UTC)
The uksnow site is excellent. I like all these real-time thingies.

Gawd, the news. Anyone would think we haven't had snow like this for 30 years ... oh wait.

Yes, I know, you're right. But some time between when I looked at my fiftieth picture of sunny moppets sledging and my fortieth of burly men spreading grit, I lost patience with the whole bloody thing.
Jan. 9th, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
Oh no, I'm totally with you. The news seems hilariously over the top, especially with all the stupid people wheeled in to provide spurious stats on how the economy is on its knees/OMG no one can go shoppinnnnnnnng/our kids will fail their exams/people should go to work!!/people shouldn't go to work!!/it's all the fault of health and safety and my absolute favourite, 'Why didn't the Met Office warn us about this?!'
Jan. 9th, 2010 12:17 pm (UTC)
Did you know it's been irregularly, breathtakingly cold lately? All around the UK? You might want to read up on that. I hear people are talking about it. Except for the people in Derbyshire.

Thanks for the news about Being Human. You quickly and singlehandedly sucked me into the first series, and I am very interested in the new one. I just have to find it somewhere with my nonexistent kung fu skills!
Jan. 9th, 2010 12:55 pm (UTC)
\0/ that you are sucked into Being Human. Now if the show can only be as great as it was last time around, happiness will ensue.

I'll keep an eye on the blogs - maybe there's some sneaky site that doesn't put limits on its streaming.
Jan. 9th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
I am amazed that Cardiff is the only location with a hovering penis. Have you got wang over Wapping? Throbbing man-meat over Manchester?
Jan. 9th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
No, and the penises are only fleeting phantoms of naughtiness, before being replaced by "revision" "freezing" "grit" and "arsenal"
Jan. 10th, 2010 05:12 am (UTC)
"There is a giant penis over Cardiff".

I wonder how all my relatives are dealing with this phenomena...

And what's all this muck about gas supplies running OUT????
Jan. 10th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's all hype and slight shortages. No one is going to be without heating yet.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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