Well the last posting got a bit reflective; it started out as one of my many diatribes on the foibles and flaws in the people featured on tv. I love to study anyone who is self-absorbed (and tv is choc full of them) and to then scratch away at their veneer of gloss till I find the shallowness underneath. It sounds cruel but, hey, they set themselves up for some criticism and I mostly try and do it without being unfairly hurtful. And in the last posting I thought I was straying into aiming appearance barbs at people who were just being filmed doing their very caring volunteer work and not seeking celebrity. And I hope we’re better than that. Even if I did feel one person did deserve to have his look at me-ness pricked a tad. Yes SC, I mean you. Continue reading
So as regular readers may know I’m a bit of a creature of habit. And one of the regular features in my life is the early morning routine. Carol and I are early risers and usually downstairs by 6.30am or so. It’s usually a cuppa for Carol then at one minute to 7am it’s Converse sneakers on and I pop out and over to the little Co-op store in the market square to be first through the door to go and pick up my morning paper, the i. And occasionally some milk. Continue reading
Now I’m very conscious that I may have turned off my huge army of female readers with the last posting about 50 year old Yerkshire men in their trunks grappling with each other. So for something a little more contemporary and hopefully a touch more amusing and for all, I was just wondering if you’ve been watching the new programme on C4 A Very British Hotel Chain: Inside Best Western? This show is more fun than you’d expect, though maybe not in the ways intended. Here’s C4’s publicity image of the main characters…
Presumably Best Western thought a three-part series filmed in May last year would be a handy publicity boost for their 265 hotels, with its portraits of the wacky but lovable workforce. But thanks to the coronavirus it now looks more like a portal to a distant far-off time and a completely different business.
It did make me wonder fairly quickly what the point of this series was though. Cut to today and Britain’s largest chain has closed all but 60 or so of its hotels, presumably on a temporary basis, they must hope. And to be fair they are one of the few hotels staying open to give key workers in local authorities a welcome and convenient break from their work tackling the covid crisis. But sadly none of that comes through in this tv series which is very much played for giggles not serious business niggles.
So to the unintentional humour. It’s clear that a career in the leisure business demands a thick skin and eternal optimism and at Best Western’s HQ in York (back again – it could only be set in Yerkshire) they have tons of both. The new CEO Rob Paterson, an ex Aussie footballer, is just David Brent with an ozzie accent. He loves his slogans from the 1980’s with lots of exclamation marks like Beat Yesterday! Own It! Give a Shit! And his dopey staff suck it up with gusto. Mark Stanley, head of hotel development, grins away and loves his staff to tell him how great he is. We saw him revelling in a sales, marketing and revenue conference, as staff were covered in pink gunk for charity. Brilliant! raved Mark, Best Western madness. Actually he might just have out-Brented his CEO.
Mark’s number 2 is ambitious Head of Acquisitions Terii (with two ‘i’s) whose job it is to sign up new hotels to the chain. We find her trying to get Marco White to allow his Rudloe Arms to join up. Marco teases her a little showing off his pixellated sexy artworks and larger than life images of himself to see what reaction he gets from her. But Terii’s (two i’s) made of stern stuff and won’t be put off. I love it, she replies, sniffing the scent of a deal being done.
Then there’s slightly camp and arch Alasdair, the wisecracking but ruthless hotel inspector who follows up on Terii’s (two i’s) new signings. He announced himself as if he were a righteous superhero: I am the hotel inspector. I cannot be bought. More sharply he mentioned that he likes to measure TV screens to see if they are as big as the new hotel claims. I pinched this out of my mother’s knitting box, he says, unfurling a measuring tape. She’s been dead for 20 years. Hard man eh. Then I noticed he’s quite the peacock, wearing wacky glasses and different brightly coloured socks. I wonder if you can spot him in the picture above.
There was also a lady whose name escapes me who’s a Marketing Manager at one of the bigger hotels and she just comes up with barmpot ideas for entertaining guests like creating a rocket ship cabin just off the foyer for people to experience. How it was relevant I just couldn’t fathom. And it was totally crap. Unbelievable. And if you want to see how they magic-ed things up here’s what the whole marketing team supported by the CEO came up with for their Xmas promo campaign. If it makes sense to you, you might just need some therapy…
I was just shocked that they didn’t include the only funny line that exists about our four-legged friends – what do the donkeys on Blackpool beach get for lunch? About half an hour. Now Mark would piss himself at that one: BW donkey jossing, brilliant!
I’m tempted to ask what’s the difference between the BW senior management team and a donkey. They’re all asses but at least the donkey does something useful. Ouch
I almost forgot to mention the other thing that really got my goat up with the Minister for Health’s pronouncements this week. Basically we all wanted his answers to two key questions:
- when will the NHS staff in all positions of the service get their essential personal protective equipment?
- when will we have sufficient stocks of testing equipment available firstly to carry out essential tests on all NHS staff and then on the general public to meet and if possible exceed the target of 100,000 per day?
and as I’ve made clear in the earlier posting he couldn’t give any clear reassurances on either. But to deflect attention he then proceeded to play to the public gallery and vilified footballers for not accepting substantial pay cuts at this difficult time, when many people are being laid off etc. It’s such an easy target and I thought it was a really cheap shot.
So here’s an image of the newly-restored to health, Minister for Health, Matt Hancock leading yesterday’s Government briefing on the coronavirus situation. The daily event has become compulsory viewing in our household as we are desperate to discover whether the outbreak of cases and deaths figures are starting to recede. Sadly it’s not the case as yet. So I try and take some reassurance from the spokespeople. Boris was slow to act at first but he’s actually been growing on us a little until he got isolated with the symptoms. The health officials are a little starchy as you’d imagine so for confidence I’ve been examining the Cabinet understudies to see who’s plausible as a PM in waiting, just in case Bojo doesn’t make it.
I’ve mentioned Drew Pritchard before. He’s TV’s Salvage Hunter – a dealer who finds items in country houses, old factories, antique stores etc, then renovates them where necessary and sells them on for a profit. He is extremely good at his job, knowledgeable, has a fantastic eye and claims to be a great negotiator. And he’s a first rate twathead. He’s a complete self-regarder, full of his own self-worth and ability and annoyingly condescending to anyone and everyone beneath his station in life as head of a major trading conglomerate. Or successful rag and bone man. If you were looking for the definition of a diminutive Welsh businessman full of his own self-importance, then Drew’s your little boyo.
I’ve travelled down this path before, it’s called Tosspots-on-TV Lane. Or people I see on the box who drive me fu**ing crazy. I could fill two pages with names but I might be repeating myself from earlier postings so I’ll try to keep it fresh….
Here’s a little sequence of coincidences. One of the delights I get when over in Italy is going through our box set of the Sopranos. I love the programme but usually just watch it by myself first thing in the morning or later at night. Believe it or not it is 20 years since it first aired and it remains a great example of intriguing plot lines and brilliant acting. The series ended in 2007 and I’ve re-watched all the episodes several times since then but I never get bored with it. During our recent visit I managed to get through series 1 and 2 and most of series 3 – the early days when Livia was such a major psychological influence in the life of her son Tony, played superbly and with constant brooding menace by James Gandolfini…