Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Odds and Ends

I noticed a poster at my station this morning advertising something called Urinetown: The Musical. Surely, I thought, someone is taking the.....? But no, it seems this is indeed a musical - a revival, in fact, of a hit American show from a decade or so ago. It's a satirical comedy musical set in a drought-stricken town where all public urinals are controlled by a megacorporation, which also enforces a ruthless penal code. On the up side, I gather, it takes a few pops at other musicals (the first number is called Too Much Exposition, the last I See A River), and has a pleasingly sour ending, when the overthrow of the megacorporation actually makes things much worse and everybody dies. Or something. Anyway, it's coming to London soon. I don't expect to be at the head of the queue.

It's the 90th birthday of  'the pips' - the Greenwich Time Signal, which reaches us in the form of six irritating beeps coming out of the radio every hour (well, almost). The start of the sixth beep is the precise moment at which the hour changes - though the pips are increasingly useless as more people listen digitally, i.e. several seconds after the event. The signal is calibrated to be precisely accurate for anyone listening on Long Wave (remember that?) up to 100 miles from the Droitwich transmitter. Anyway, the wags on the Today programme thought the birthday worth marking this morning, with a special, pip-heavy version of Happy Birthday, and a chat with veteran BBC announcer Charles Lister, an agreeable fellow who was once reprimanded for wearing yellow socks while on duty. Quite right too.

A researcher delving in the archives of the Exeter newspaper The Western Press has found the word 'Face-book' being used in 1902. It was then 'the latest novelty for wiling the time in a country house'. Guests at house parties would draw a face in an album or 'Face-book' before signing their name, thereby causing great hilarity among their fellow guests - the worse the likeness, the better. How we roared! I gather that Facebook is now one of those 'social media' we hear so much about.


  1. From Wikipedia on Urinetown: It satirizes the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, and municipal politics. The show also parodies...the Broadway musical itself as a form. In reverse pantomime style, the unconventional plotline shatters audience expectations of a somewhat pleasant ending.

    Maybe we could work out a deal: We'll promise not to do folk songs if they'll stop doing musicals.

  2. Yes indeed - what's not to like on that list?

  3. As a blogger par excellence and, therefore, a true internaut, I find your disingenuity regarding the social media hard to swallow Nige. You'll be asking us to believe you haven't been using Instagram and Snapchat for years next!

  4. No idea what you're talking about Guy! I used to have an Instamatic camera...