Bleakly Californian

OK. Bear with me. This all started when I saw this photo posted on Facebook:

Look, it’s a good photo. There’s drama, there’s atmosphere, there’s strong contrast; you’re drawn into the image. What’s the story here? Who is the girl? Why is she there? I like it.

Immediately, I had other questions though.

Firstly, WHO ON EARTH names their hotel Bleak House? Do they know what “bleak” means?

a bird’s horny projecting jaws; a bill.

I’m sorry. I have to press really hard to get the L key to work sometimes. So et’s try that again.

I am aware that in the Dickens novel of the same name, the Bleak House is actually far from bleak, but firstly, this isn’t that house, and secondly, how many people have read that much Dickens?

Can you imagine telling your friends that you’ve got two weeks booked in Ramsey (which is surely bad enough, anyway), before then elaborating and telling them that you chose to stay at a place called “Bleak House”.

Really? Were Superb Hotel, Lovely B&B and Entirely Pleasant Lodgings all booked up then?

No. Given the huge – near infinite – range of potential, positive-angled guest house nomenclature available to the proprietors, this seems like a bit of an own goal.

And then there’s the caption. That’s a misquoted lyric from The Eagles’ Hotel California, isn’t it?

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
‘Relax’ said the night man,
‘We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!

I know I’m being a bit picky here, but wouldn’t a line from… well… Bleak House be rather more appropriate here?

And I am bored to death with it. Bored to death with this place, bored to death with my life, bored to death with myself.

OK. Perhaps not that one.

Fairy-land to visit, but a desert to live in

Better. Very Ramsey. Apart from the fairy-land bit.
But this one fits perfectly, I think.

As all partings foreshadow the great final one, – so, empty rooms, bereft of a familiar presence, mournfully whisper what your room and what mine must one day be.

In fact, I’m reliably informed that this was exactly what many paying visitors muttered on those very steps, when Bleak House was still an operating business.

But how inaccessible?

Remember this post, when I asked the owners of a small cafe in the Isle of Man to please clean the lens of a webcam near their premises?

I was told:

We’ll have a go…. it’s not exactly accessible but we’ll give it a whirl.

And they did, and it worked.

My dad mentioned it to his friend on the Isle of Man:

I told Carol about the web cam. She asked Alan Clucas to mention it.

And this being the Isle of Man, there was suddenly more information available:

Further to this – they used a duster on a pole to reach it – Alan asked them about it when he delivered their spuds yesterday!

So, not just friendly and helpful, but also displaying some impressive ingenuity and serving great local produce!

What’s not to like?

Sound Cafe Request

You’ll need to know a few things for this blog post:

1. There’s a place on the Isle of Man called The Sound. There’s a cafe there.
2. On the cafe building is a webcam, which one can view through the Manx Radio Webcams page (it’s the one on the bottom left, between Port Erin and Port St Mary).
3. It was very hot in Cape Town yesterday, and very cold in the Isle of Man. I wanted to apply this principle. But the webcam lens was very dirty (sea spray, rain, sleet etc).

Problem.

Or was it? Because I dropped the cafe a quick message on Facebook:

Fastyr mie from Cape Town, South Africa. It’s 40-odd degrees here and I’m craving something cooler. I recognise that it’s pretty chilly there today and I’m not sure how accessible it is, but if you could give the webcam lens a quick wipe, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

(Fastyr mie being Manx gaelic for Good Afternoon – I can like to be locally polite in my salutations.)

And almost instantaneously, got this back:

We’ll have a go…. it’s not exactly accessible but we’ll give it a whirl ?

That, I think I am right in saying, is the spirit.

And they did it too, before responding again:

Marginally better… ?

But it was actually much better:

Allowing me not only to see the drama of the waves crashing onto Kitterland, but even the (rather less dramatic) Stena Precision en route to Belfast from Birkenhead (on the horizon, far left).

And yes, there’s still a bit of muck in the corners, but the weather is clearly a bit wild there at the moment and like they said, the webcam is “not exactly accessible”.

All in all, a great effort and really amazing service.

Good save

Actually, not “good save”. “Good” doesn’t do it justice. Any adjectives which would do it justice would have to be conjoined with a swearword.

But then if you were doing about 150mph (241kph) between two very solid looking dry stone walls on a chunk of metal whose only contact with the ground is about a handprint’s worth of rubber, and you had a wobble like this:

…then, in my opinion, the use of any swearwords – copiously and vociferously – is entirely justified. James Hillier (for it are he) went on to finish 4th in the Senior TT (which is what this was).

I know that your time is valuable, but the whole video is only 33 seconds long, so DO keep watching for the slo-mo. Oh, my goodness.

Mindhorn review

Remember Mindhorn?

It may only have been awarded three out of a possible five stars by reviewer Mark Kermode, but this paragraph alone made me 100% certain that I need to find a way to see this film:

Meanwhile, his small-screen sidekick Peter Easterman (Steve Coogan) is living the island high life after striking gold with his Mindhorn spin-off series Windjammer, peddling a strange mix of sleuthing and weather-resistant clothing that has somehow permeated the popular consciousness.

The combination of slapstick, cringe-inducing awkwardness and all-round pure British eccentricity are going to make this a great movie. And yes, it may well give “…the impression of being a 30-minute TV sketch stretched out to a 90-minute feature”. But then, if you love the 30-minute TV sketch, why would you not want three times as much of it?

Of course, maybe Mark was just being extra nice, given that he obviously has some Manx ancestry somewhere up his family tree.

Can’t wait. But, you know, going to have to.