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Surrey with a cringe on top…

Part one – Meeting the Man.

It was back in 1983 when I made my one and only other trip to Guildford.
The last time I travelled up by train from Sussex as an excited teenager, on my way to an audition for the stage management course at the drama school there.
As it happens, I passed the audition and was offered a place, only to have my hopes dashed by the County Council bean counters refusing me a grant, otherwise I may have by now been part of the apparently thriving arts scene in this bustling, historic and leafy Surrey town.

Fast forward 30 years and this time I was making the journey with Elaine in my trusty Nissan Micra, all the way from rural North Devon.
But let me tell you, I was no less excited.

Possibly even more so.

Because this was it.
The event for which I’d been waiting with no small degree of anticipation for several months had finally arrived.

After a pleasantly uneventful journey “up country”, along spectacularly colourful, tree lined roads that cut through the undulating autumnal landscapes of Wiltshire and Hampshire countryside, we arrived at the pub guesthouse on Saturday afternoon (functional but disappointing) and went to stretch our legs in a nearby park.
And it was just as we returned to our accommodation that the man I was most looking forward to meeting arrived.

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Adam Pain, the man behind the  excellent A World Of Pain blog and co-creator of the Golden Face Palms, to nobody’s surprise turned out to be a thoroughly decent bloke.
Instantly likable, hospitable to a fault and possessing a talent to infect you with the same passionate enthusiasm he has for this mad idea – to spotlight the cringingly awful behaviour of those paragons of ineptitude and insensitivity in public life who clog up our newspapers and TV screens with their endless drivel by giving them awards, to be collected on their behalf by those who nominated them – he talked animatedly over a pint about how the project had first evolved and how blown away he was at the way support had grown in the lead up to the event.

(It is worth pointing out that Adam already has form for this type of spur-of-the-moment altruism, having used connections made via his job as music lecturer at the Academy of Contemporary Music to put together a charity single to raise money for Sophie, a little girl with cancer.
The video below was made after asking people on Facebook to send in thumbs-up photos, the idea being to get as many “likes” as possible.
The campaign eventually raised over £300,000, enabling Sophie to have life saving treatment)

Having agreed to meet up later on for a longer chat over a few drinks Elaine and I went in search of sustenance, finally settling on one of Adam’s recommendations, The Old Wheatsheaf, on the grounds it had the same name as our old local back in Sussex.
By coincidence they had just won Pub of the Year, and if the food and fine selection of draught ciders were anything to go by it was well deserved.

Suitably fortified we strolled back to meet Adam and his brother Matt at a more drink-centric establishment in the village, where we were soon chattering away like old friends. (I mentioned to Adam at the time how reading each others’ blogs had been a sort of virtual introduction, and that I’d known we’d get on before we even met) 
Adam walked with us back to our digs on his way home, where we bid him goodnight and promised to meet up after we checked out on Sunday morning to finalise plans for the evening’s ceremony.

Once we’d taken our post-breakfast walk with Adam and his two dogs it was time to get nearer the action.
Ho and Trevor, old friends from Sussex, were coming up for the festivities and we were moving to meet them at a Premier Inn nearer town in order to have less of a journey home that night.
So having decamped to our new quarters and caught up with each other, eaten dinner and had a few pre-awards drinks, it was time (“at last!” I hear you cry) for the main event.

Part two – Beyond the velvet rope.

A quick trip up to our room to change into our glad rags and we were ready to go.

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              Me and my girl.

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Look out Guildford! With Ho and Trev.

Arriving at The Star Inn we were met by our genial and frenetic host Adam, seemingly calm and eager to get things underway, who welcomed us with his normal affable charm and commented on how impressed he was with Ho’s cartoons on the blog before vanishing on some last minute errand.

And so to the ceremony itself.

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The function room was already buzzing with excitement and laughter when we walked in, the neon signs of the bar giving a cozy glow to the back of the room, contrasting with the brightly lit stage in front of us.

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Adam took the stage to wild applause and introduced The Spud Smith Band, the house band for the evening, who played superb off the wall funked-up jazz fusion numbers throughout the show.

Then the award ceremony began in earnest with the presentation of Golden Face Palm awards in categories including;
Film – won by Life of Pi for managing to win the Oscar for best cinematography, despite being mostly CGI-created animation;
Sports Personality – Oscar Pistorius for many obvious reasons;
and Music – Robbie Williams for Candy because, well, have you heard it?
All picked up – to the accompaniment of rapturous applause and wild cheering – by ordinary folk who had voted online for their own personal favourite celebrity cretin-fest or moment of teeth-grinding political stupidity.

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“And the winner is…” Adam presents the first award.

There were many others, which I shan’t list here because the event was filmed for YouTube release next month sometime and I’ll let Adam do the honours on his own blog.

However I can say that one of the awards was for;
Documentary – won, despite tough competition from a film about London’s ceremonial bumbler-in-chief and novelty politician Boris Johnson, by a Channel 4 News report about Nigel Farage in Bulgaria.

And who’d have believed it, but that’s one of the many nominations I’d sent in, along with one for the deeply unpleasant Katie Hopkins (who I was secretly hoping was going to be the one I’d receive an award for) but never mind, she also won something. Much to my relief.

So I made my way to the stage amid much cheering – Farage had proved a popular choice – and to my delight was presented with my commemorative plaque by one of Adam’s former students, now BBC Radio 2 A-listed rising star, the beautiful, charming and extremely talented Emma Stevens.
(Sadly the only photo of this moment of glory was captured by Ho, on actual film, but I will post it as soon as I get it)

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During the evening we were entertained by other former alumni of the ACM where Adam works.

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    Liv Dawson wows the crowd.

Apart from the wonderful Spud Smith and his band, we had music from Liv Dawson who had the crowd enchanted with her haunting voice and also a set by comedian Matt Blair, topped off with a short but fantastic set from Emma Stevens herself.

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Here are some clips to give you an idea, including Matt’s brilliant text-speak karaoke song and one of the tracks from Emma’ debut album that she performed live.

I’m honoured to say that Adam singled me out more than once during proceedings, at one point getting the entire crowd to stand and raise a glass in salute to the dedication shown by me (and my “entourage” as he called it) by travelling from Devon to attend.
Although I think he may have used the word “lunatic” once or twice, I still choose to take it as a huge compliment from a man who not only brought together a whole load of amazing people in the name a really good cause, but showed them all a bloody good time and helped raise money for charity into the bargain.

I’m also happy to report that the parents of Sophie, the little girl for whom Adam raised the money, were there to present an award and to tell everyone that she was doing fine and that they’d celebrated her birthday only the day before.

And as if that wasn’t enough, before we all went our separate ways the next morning Adam insisted on meeting up so he could buy us breakfast.

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The breakfast after the night before, Adam – second right.

A complete and utter triumph all round then.
We met some great people including top bloke Matt Pain, the lovely Simon Venn and the even lovelier Debbie, Adam’s wife.
And what’s more, I’m reliably informed that there are already plans in the offing for next year’s event, so watch this space.

Now, where can I position my award for maximum impact…?

 

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Watching the defectives…

As Adam Pain’s Golden Face Palms are only two short weeks away, I have been trying to work out who I shall be accepting the award on behalf of.

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Not that there is any shortage of nominations you understand, but I did make a case for two individuals in particular and I’m intrigued as to which one gets the “honour” of a GFP being bestowed upon them. (I’m thinking that, considering the number of votes both of my nominations subsequently received via other people nominating them, whichever one I don’t pick up the award for won’t miss out anyway)

I feel sure the event is going to be a blast, pitched as it is as a fund raising piss-take of public numptiness.
But for every head-slapping story of inanity, insanity and ineptitude perpetrated by high profile d-list dullards, there are many other, equally deserving ordinary everyday morons members of the public who deserve a mention, locally, nationally and worldwide.

It could be something as simple as the bloke at work who, in an attempt to win favour with our new site manager, went to the trouble of opening a LinkedIn account so he could send the boss an invitation. When the top man accepted, the scoundrel proceeded to use the business networking site to grass up his workmates for talking, using their mobile phones when they should be working and spending too long in the toilet.

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Or it could be the Keystone Spooks story about the security services and jihadi wannabe, Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, accused of membership of Somali terrorist group al-Shabab and fitted with an electronic tag as part of the restrictive TPIM (Terrorism Prevention Investigation Measures) imposed on him.
Not only did he manage to somehow remove his tracking tag, but he also outwitted his watchers by entering a mosque and, after changing into a full-length woman’s burka, walked straight out under their noses like something out of a satirical remake of Some Like it Hot.

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And while we’re on the topic of inappropriate disguises, how about this for a bit of jaw-dropping stupidity from across the pond.

The ironically named Jessica Black of Craigsville, Virginia thought it would be perfectly acceptable to continue the “family tradition” of dressing up her 7-year-old son, Jackson, in a Ku Klux Klan costume and sending him out Trick or Treating on Halloween, much to the indignation of her neighbours.

You can watch her blithely defending her decision to turn her offspring into a social pariah in this clip from the local news.

But without doubt the prize for the most staggering and serious mishandling of a situation has to go to the police force of West Auckland, New Zealand.

For 2 years Auckland police have known about a deeply unpleasant group of local teenage boys calling themselves the “Roast Busters” whose idea of a good time is getting local underage girls drunk, gang-raping them and then uploading the results to YouTube and Facebook in order to humiliate the girls into keeping quiet.
They even have supporters who set up a fan page to follow their conquests.

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A couple of Roasters. Calm down ladies, you’re not drunk enough.

As if this isn’t atrocious enough, the attitude of those tasked with protecting and serving the community is almost too callous to be believed.

Detective Inspector Bruce Scott is quoted as saying that;
“None of the girls have been brave enough to make formal statements to us so we can take that to a prosecution stage”

I’m sorry, the girls haven’t been brave enough? Are you fucking kidding me?

But I’m sure you came down on the little bastards like the proverbial ton of bricks didn’t you Inspector, cowardly rape victims notwithstanding?
This is what our law enforcing hero had to say on the matter;
“We’ve told them their behaviour is verging on criminal if not criminal, and suggested it cease”

Verging on criminal”?
Suggested it cease”?
Are you out of your tiny mind?

However, I expect the odious little antipodean cassanovas are suitably contrite since their horrible activities have been made public?

Hardly.

Here’s a quote from one of the apparently unfazed members of the gang, responding to accusations that he is, not to put too fine a point on it, a complete scumbag;
“You try and get with the amount of girls we do. This is hard, it’s a job, we don’t do this shit for pleasure.”

Ah bless, you poor thing. It must be awful for you, spending all your pocket money on cheap booze, only to have those ungrateful little trollops get all upset when they wake up with a hangover and no virginity or self respect.
You probably tell them you feel terrible and promise to make amends don’t you?

No?

No. What he actually likes to tell his distraught victims is;
”Go ahead, call the cops, they can’t un-rape you.”

Unbelievable.
Or is it?
Bearing in mind that the delightfully named Roast Busters are made up of, amongst others, the sons of policeman and in one case, the son of a Hollywood movie star, (Anthony Ray Parker, who played “Dozer” in The Matrix) it seems unlikely that they will be brought to justice anytime soon.
Although New Zealand’s 3 News has begun a crusade to publicise their activities, so they may yet have a case to answer.

Come to think of it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to inaugurate a worldwide Golden Face Palms ceremony to highlight the sort of outrageous and incomprehensible behaviour this type of cretin engages in, if only to bring it to the attention of those with some power to deal with them, or at the very least to galvanise public opinion against them.

For now I think the inestimable Mr Pain has enough on his plate, but you never know, there’s always next year…

 
9 Comments

Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Awards, Blogging, News, Social comment, TV

 

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Saying F.U. to the big C…

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Movember is almost upon us again, raising money for men’s health in general and prostate cancer in particular. 
We shall once again be participating at work and I would encourage those of you with the ability to grow the requisite facial adornment to take part too.
So expect all manner of fabulous face fungus to start appearing on a top lip near you soon.
You can donate here.

Which brings me rather neatly to the topic of this Diary entry.

Once again I am writing in response to a post by the ever-reliable Adam Pain who has bestowed a great accolade on me. More about that later…

First I’d like to share an expanded version of the comment I left on Adam’s blog this morning, the subject of which is losing loved ones to cancer;

I clearly remember my brother in law turning up on the doorstep at our new home in Devon at 4.30am, having driven the 300 miles from the London hospital where Dad had been taken after collapsing at a business function due to the unseen and spreading tumours in his lungs, brain and spine.
We raced back there, thinking we might be too late, getting there just as he regained consciousness.
As it turned out, he lasted long enough to be given the news that my sister was pregnant with his grandson and for us all to have a last chance to say goodbye.

Seeing the rapid and merciless way the cancer had devoured his usually imposing frame, it was hard to believe this was the same upbeat and positive man who had told me “Oh, don’t you worry, we’re going to beat this” only a few weeks previously.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t my first taste of dealing with the most indiscriminate of killers.

I was just nine when Mum was struck down by a brain tumour, forever leaving me with the image of her dropping to the floor in convulsions, incoherently repeating a bizarre litany made up entirely of numbers.

A frightening experience for a little boy, as you can imagine.
But not as frightening as the look on Dad’s face a few short months later (which with hindsight I now know to have been helpless grief) as he came into my room and, kneeling next to my bed as I roused myself from sleep, told me that he was sorry, but mummy had “just got weaker and weaker, until she couldn’t hold on any more and she died.”

He was sorry.
As if he could have done anything to save this wonderful, gentle woman from the treacherous mutation of her own cells.
Even now the irrational, impotent anger I feel towards the nebulous and malign enemy who took my mother from my sister and I can return unbidden, when I see her in old photos or hear a song she liked on the radio.

She didn’t smoke, she had an active, healthy lifestyle, and yet she was just as helpless to defend herself against this attack from within as any twenty-a-day tobacco fiend.

We were all lucky enough to have a final, carefree French camping holiday with her in the months following her initial illness and operation, when it all seemed like some sort of terrifying bad dream, only to lose her to subsequent complications when the tumour returned.

So many people’s lives are touched by cancer, hardly anybody is unaffected in some way.

Elaine and I spent many days caring for Elaine’s father (with the help of the extremely dedicated Macmillan nurses) as he became increasingly ill, his eventual passing being all the more painful for Elaine as we were so far away at the time.
And we lost a very dear friend only a few years ago who was, shockingly, younger than me and had always instantly been the absolute life and soul of every party she walked into.

Cancer doesn’t give a toss who it takes, it doesn’t care about your feelings. We’re all potential victims and should therefore take whatever opportunities are offered to join the fight to defeat the silent killer.

Well I’ve done a fair bit in the past to raise money for charity (although like all those saintly celebrities, “I don’t like to talk about it”) and I’m about to get involved in something just as worthy, but a lot more fun than lumbering around the moors in the middle of the night or dressing up like a gay Native American at work.

I am incredibly honoured to reveal that I am to be attending the Golden Face Palms, Adam Pain’s award ceremony for the über-numpties that spoilt everyone’s year by stubbornly continuing to exist.
The deal is that I go to the event, (ticket details to follow – you too can attend this prestigious occasion) accept the award for the particular dullard I nominated for inclusion, and mumble a few short words of acceptance through the haze of alcohol, jostling paparazzi and groupies. (at least I’m reasonably sure that’s how these things go) and try not to fall over on the way back to my table.

Adam has written a very poignant and touching article to accompany the announcement of the ceremony and I would take it as a personal favour if, having taken the time read my post, you also go to A World Of Pain via THIS REALLY BIG, OBVIOUS LINK and see what he has to say.
That is where you can find details of the Golden Face Palms themselves.

(You can also donate to the Macmillan Cancer Care Trust via the Macmillan link above)

 
12 Comments

Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Awards, Blogging, Personal anecdote

 

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