Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Party and shop till you drop

Am now back dans London after my York excursion. It was certainly nice to get away for a few days and see my family, have a change of scenery etc. It's cold and wet back here and Gustavo and I feel like we're coming down with a mild case of the flu. Again!! Nooo!! Drat!! And double drat!! I think we caught it either from my baby niece or my Mum. It's also several degrees colder up North and perhaps my now South-of-England-climatised self just can't deal with it. My poor husband was positively shivering from the cold, but then he's from Brazil and Yorkshire must have felt like the Antarctic to him ...

Anyhow, I'm sure you're all positively dying to hear what we got up to in York, so to give a brief summary, we:

1. Spent a large amount of time at my Mum's house, which consisted of the following:

a) Sampling my Mum's delicious cooking - we had a fabulous Xmas dinner with an enormous and very tasty turkey, plus salmom and avocado starters! Yummy! Mum also made some of my favourite food from childhood - vanilla fudge, lemon-layer pudding and mont blanc pudding (made from chestnut puree and macaroon biscuits!) Even more yummy! Thanks Mummy!!

b) Cosuming a vast array of beverages, from sherry (ooh vicar!) to cava to beer.

c) Watching TV. Needless to say, Dr Who on Xmas Day was THE highlight for me (more on that later). To make things even better, there was a Dr Who Confidential on too. I also quite enjoyed "The Ruby In The Smoke" with Billie Piper (based on the Philip Pullman novel) which proved that there is life post-Dr Who, although the plot was rather hard to follow.

d) Giving and receiving gifts. I got some lovely pressies from my nearest and dearest, which I was tres chuffed with, including:

i) Space 1999 Series One DVD Boxset. Perfect for a sci-fi geek like me!
ii) Best of Smash Hits - the 1980s - great compilation book comprising lots of articles from the pop magazine of yore - reading it is a total trip down memory lane and don't those pop stars look young!
iii) iPod Nano - yaaaay! From my lovely hubbie, just what I wanted and now I can listen to lots and lots of my favourite pop toons!
iv) A posh watch from Next. Again from my hubbie. So classy and expensive looking I'm too scared to wear it out. I think I'll just keep it in its box and look admiringly at it.

And for my hubbie I got:
i) iPod Nano!! Exactly the same model as the one he got me. Great minds think alike, eh. This now means we will have to be doubly careful we don't walk off with each other iPods, which is why I am buying a black case for his and a pink case for mine. Ha ha ha.
ii) Some Hugo Boss perfume, actually purchased in Paris! Oooh la la.
iii) Some groovy clothes from Top Man including t-shirts.
iv) Mariah Carey DVDs. He's a bigger fan than me ...

2) Went out to a few York pubs and bars in the evening, with my brothers and their mates, including a very groovy bar called Biltmore and one with the rather inappropriate name of Orgasmic (unless there was something going on there I wasn't aware of). As always at Xmas there was a nice jolly, festive atmosphere in town with lots of people making, as well as getting, merry. And we had some lovely mulled red wine in Biltmore which was totally moorish and addictive!

3) Spending lots of money in the post-Xmas sales. You know what it's like, come Boxing Day everyone is already ready to go out and spend spend spend, and Gu and I were no exception, being a right pair of retail queens. "Next" in York opened for its sale at 5am - for heaven's sake - but we couldn't quite muster up the enthusiasm to get up at that time. However we did purchase lots of bargains from the York stores during our stay. I bought several DVDs (I'm a sucker for films) and also some rather nice trousers, shirts and shoes from Top Man / River Island / Next. Well ... they'd all been knocked down in price and I simply couldn't resist! I admit I've gone a bit mad over the last few days and have ended up using my credit card (a last resort), however I'm getting a work bonus in January so can pay it all off then! Thank goodness! And one can't miss out on a bargain, can one?

And on another (yet related) note ... York actually gets better and better each time I re-visit. When I grew up there, it was never a "bad" place to live. There is so much history to it. It has a beautiful Minster. It was once a Roman and a Viking town. The old City Walls are still largely intact as are many old buildings, and monuments. It has quaint old cobbled streets like the Shambles and the intriguingly named Whipmawhopmagate (guess what went on there). There are museums and parks. And unlike London, getting round the town centre is relatively easy. From my Mum's house you can walk into town in about 15 minutes. Which you really do appreciate, coming from somewhere like London, where you must either carefully pre-plan going home in order that you don't miss the last tube, or, hang around for an eternity waiting for the night bus, then, when it finally does turn up, put up with a load of drunken weirdos and idiots all the way home. And York seems to be more trendy and "with it" these days. There's some excellent bars now alongside the more traditional pubs, and some stylish restaurants. The shops have improved tenfold - Zara, H & M, Gap, Next are all in evidence now.

However the one major thing York has consistently lacked is a gay scene, which is (dare I say it) one of the reasons I've never wanted to move back. When I was a teenager there was only one gay pub in the entire town called "The York Arms", right next to the Minster. Apparently if you went through the right hand door as opposed to the left hand one, this was the "gay side". Woe betide you if you walked through the wrong door. My, what enlightened times those were! I did actually visit the aforementioned pub a few times in my teens, but it's long since ceased to be "gay" (well the right side of the pub, anyway). There was also a once-monthly gay night at the York Arts Centre called East Orange, which I went to once or twice and wasn't too bad by York standards. Again long gone, as the Arts Centre closed down and is now a rather tacky straight pub called The Parish. I also heard rumours that there was another gay bar called "The Hole In The Wall", however I think that was just wishful thinking, and the name must have led to, assumptions about its clientele, shall we say ... As a whole York has never been renowned for its extreme homophobia, but equally it's not a place where gays and lesbians have been made to feel particularly welcome and visibility is a bit of an issue. I spotted a few gay and lesbian couples whilst out in the town and they stuck out like a sore thumb - I couldn't help wondering where they were from! Okay, so having a gay "scene" is not the be-all and end-all and isn't for everyone - we don't need to go out to pubs or clubs to "exist". But I do think that the absence of some kind of "scene" means that gay and lesbian people feel less encouraged to be "out" and that there are few places where they can go and be open and demonstrative. Okay, I'm getting a bit heavy now ... I honestly don't know what the answer to all of these problems is. In an ideal world, we'd all be able to go to whatever pub / bar / club we wanted and to openly show affection with our friends / lovers, whether they be gay / lesbian / straight, without fear of any kind of reprisal. The gay "scene" wouldn't even need to exist. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this topic, incidentally ...

The other thing that stops me from moving back to York is its smallness. Although London does p*ss me off with its vastness and consequent problems re: getting from a to b, as I have already outlined, York is the opposite. Like any small city, it's a place where everybody knows everyone else and his / her business, which can sometimes be way too incestuous. And small towns can sometimes be small-minded. Although hardly racist central, York isn't exactly a hotbed of multiculturalism or diversity either. It was very strange being back there and seeing so few black / asian people. There is a University in York with (presumably) a more ethnically diverse student population but the students don't seem to be, erm ... in the habit of visiting the City. Leeds, the nearest city to York, on the other hand has a much more ethnically mixed population. And also it's got a gay scene!

So, for me, York = a lovely, relaxing place to visit with a lot of good points, but not somewhere I could really contemplate living again. But as I've intimated in some of my previous posts, I definitely have my problems with London and it's not somewhere I want to stay indefinitely either ... I don't know! I'm so bloody hard to please aren't I?!

And after that very long post I shall bid you farewell ... hope you've all had a jolly good time over the festive period too. And only one more day left in 2006 ... who knows what 2007 will bring for us! Fabulous things I hope!!


  • At 3:47 am , Blogger TimeWarden said...

    I am very envious of your “Space: 1999” DVD box set! You lucky person!! I love the first series. You probably haven’t had time to watch them all yet but you may remember them, or have seen some of the ITV4 repeats, so which are your favourite episodes? Mine are “Dragon’s Domain”, “Mission of the Darians”, “Another Time, Another Place”, with the lovely Judy Geeson, and “War Games”, and probably in that order! Watch out for the reusable wig!! Joan Collins wears the same one as Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing!! And if you watch carefully, it falls off Lee as he lies back down in his cryogenic chamber near the end of his episode. It’s one of my bugbears that season two was so awful in comparison. I really wish they’d continued along the same lines instead of trying to Americanise it further. How do you feel “1999” compares with Gerry Anderson’s previous live action series “UFO”?

    It was also interesting what you were saying about small towns and cities. I’ve never visited York but I suspect it’s bigger than Gloucester. Here I have difficulties finding old series like “1999” even in a chain like HMV who always charge over the odds anyway! I find this frustrating, that I can’t just go into a shop and pick up a copy like you can in London or indeed York. I couldn’t find individual “Cracker” reissues, just the very expensive box set, for example. When I first started buying “Doctor Who” on videotape back in the late Eighties, Beta then VHS, I had to get them, for the most part, on visits to London. They were £25 a story back then and with slight edits to make them 90 minutes long, would you believe? And no extras. One of the few things that have come down in price as well as improving in quality. It’s only now that supermarkets are starting to stock classic “Who” and I still haven’t seen them in Asda. It does feel like living in the ark sometimes!!!

  • At 12:45 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Yes, I was really pleased to get the box set for Xmas! To tell the truth I haven't had time to watch any of the episodes properly yet, although I have viewed a few snippets as I couldn't resist! The remastering, picture and sound are excellent.

    I remember Space:1999 fairly well from childhood but don't actually recall many episodes from season one, which is one reason why I'm looking forward to watching them properly now, particularly on the strength of all the glowing reviews.

    In fact my recall of season two is much better (you will be shocked to hear!). As a 7-8 year old at the time, I enjoyed it and I remember playing Space:1999 related games with my friends in the playground, even impersonating Maya the shape-shifting alien (one of the better aspects of season two, surely?) I remember the story which introduced Maya (featuring Brian Blessed as her father, Mentor) and several other stories from that season. However I've read all the fan comments on season two saying how silly and gimmicky the programme became after the serious drama of season one. As a child you're not really so aware of these things! (A bit like the change in production values when Graham Williams took over from Philip Hinchcliffe during Tom Baker's tenure - at the time I didn't notice but watching it now, one can see a definite shift in quality).

    Love your anecdote about the reusable wig - will keep an eye out for that one! And I will let you know what my favourite episodes are from season one once I've viewed them ... I'm sure I'll end up writing a post about it.

    I don't remember UFO atall (too young! I was about 1-2 years old when it was broadcast) but it looked ... strange.

    Actually the Space:1999 boxset was purchased via the internet. Have you tried buying stuff that way? I think you'll find it's much cheaper than going into a high street store ... Play.com, Sendit.com and Amazon all have DVDs at very reasonable, sometimes bargain, prices! And with Sendit and Play.com you don't have to pay postage and packing! I can't believe you paid that much for videos in the past ... incredible!

  • At 3:31 pm , Blogger TimeWarden said...

    I bought "Blade Runner" in Oxford St around the same time, on Beta, and had the choice of getting it from either Virgin or HMV. It was £30 in one shop and £70 in the other! Having only played it a couple of times you can imagine how it would've been financially better to wait for the DVD with the benefit of hindsight!! What eventually happened was retailers introduced what was called sell-thru and pre-recorded "Doctor Who" stories suddenly became available for £9.99 and later £10.99 at which price single tapes stabilised until the demise of VHS.

    I look forward to hearing which of the 24 episodes of season one of "1999" you like most. I can never make up my mind between "Dragon's Domain", which foreshadows Ridley Scott's original "Alien", and "Mission of the Darians", which has a gruesome secret at the heart of the enormous spacecraft. They both scared me as a teen and still seem pretty effective thirty years on.

  • At 1:00 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Time Warden - strange that, I seem to remember buying a video of Blade Runner on Oxford Street too, years back - and it was probably as extortionately priced as yours! Yes if only we'd had a TARDIS so we could zap forward to the future and purchase the much cheaper DVD version. Things have definitely improved in that respect!

    I will definitely write up a review of Space:1999 at a later date. And will keep my eye out for those episodes you mention. So far I've watched the first two episodes (while recovering from my New Year's Eve hangover!) which I have enjoyed on the whole. Considering it was made in the early 1970s it still looks really good and futuristic (although the flared trouser suits in space rather date it!) I love the set of Moonbase Alpha and the Eagles were some of the coolest spacecraft ever. However I do find Barbara Bain very bland and almost robotic - she acts as though as she's had a lobotomoy!! Martin Landau and Barry Morse are a lot better.

    And I found "A Matter of Life and Death" was a rather confusing episode, "Breakaway" was a lot better. Anyway more thoughts later!!


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