Thursday, 21 April 2011

That Peter Kay Trip: A Day Out as a Set of Short Reviews

Every Easter holidays Julie takes the kids and goes with a mate and her kids and stays in a caravan for a few days. While they're away I catch up on particularly dodgy old telly, live off carry-outs and generally slob about. This year, though, we had tickets for Peter Kay in Glasgow on the Sunday, so I drove up to pick Julie up, leaving the kids with Julie's pal and her husband. This, as an 80s US tv show voiceover might say, is our story...

Tummel Valley Holiday Park

Arrived there about mid-day and left again with Julie at about one, so didn't really get to see much to be honest. The kids reported it as being nice but a bit small and with not much to do in the evening. The caravan seemed clean, I must say. We left in Julie's pal's husband's...

Audi TTS Quattro

which was like driving a particularly fast ice cream down a particularly smooth knife. I'm not a car person at all, but if all driving was like this, I might be. Frankly, it was such a pleasure that had the car come with the majestic voice of Stephen Thorne as sat nav I wouldn't have been at all surprised. So smooth was the trip, in fact, that in no time at all we arrived at...

CitizenM Hotel, Glasgow

which might well be the best hotel in the entire world, assuming you're not looking for marble check-in desks, little Polynesian waiters in white gloves or other pointless nonsense. Instead, you check-in via a computer, get directed to your room by one of the many tattooed and excellent members of staff who populate the ground floor, and then head for your room having created your own room card by computer.

As for the room...well, if swingers had money and taste instead of being fat, middle-aged plumpers they might design somewhere like this. Spotlessly clean and sparklingly new, our room had a square bed, somewhat bigger than Queen size which ran from one wall to the other, directly in front of a massive picture window (with electronic blinds built into the double glazed glass) and stretching about a third of the way into the pretty large room. Next to the bed was a weird looking remote control, directly in front on the wall was a bloody great HD telly and to the side and down the room a bit was a strange smoked glass oblong which, we soon discovered, contained a two person shower with rain from the roof attachment and no lock to the door (the shower had no door in fact). Separating the shower from the rest of the room was a thin muslin sheet hanging from the ceiling and that, plus a nifty little washhand basin, was the entire room.

The weird remote control mentioned a minute ago turned out to set the room temperature, work the TV (with a load of channels including about 100 pretty much brand new films - and a fair whack of porn - all included in the price), change the lighting intensity - and colour! - in the room and the shower, shut the blinds, lower a big second blind which blocked out all light and, frankly, did everything but light you a fag afterwards.

We played about with it for a while then left for...

Di Maggios Restaurant

which was perfectly satisfactory though nothing special. One thing to note - the KickAss Chicken Wings are hotter than vindaloo. Just a warning. Having eaten we headed off for the main point of the trip...

Peter Kay, The Tour that Doesn't Tour Tour, SECC, 17 April 2011

which was shit. Embarrassingly tired and old fashioned jokes nicked off the internet, misheard song lyrics also pinched verbatim from the internet, a few references to the seventies with no jokes attached and a final fifteen minutes in which Kay did Queen songs while pretending to play a spade. I was genuinely shame-faced for the man, who was once very, very funny but now looks more and more like the biggest rip-off since Milli Vanilli. Luckily, it only lasted a couple of hours so we went to...

The Atholl Arms, Glasgow

for a Magners and a vodka, lime and lemonade. Too brightly lit and too clean (something which always bothers me about pubs nowadays - I miss old and smoky, personally) and virtually empty, but it'd been a good day so I'm inclined to be kind and say it was fine (even if they did add bitters to my second vodka).

And then back to the hotel and, the following day, after some shopping in which I picked up a cheap Oscar Wilde mystery and Julie bought clothes or something, off home again and back to the real world.

Amsterdam next time, I think. Expect reports on Dr Who locations, clogs and quality narcotics...

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Obverse Quarterly

(not a review, more an advert - sorry!)

The Obverse Quarterly is a new venture in current small press publishing. Taking our cue from the New England Library paperbacks of the 1970s, Obverse Books are delighted to present a set of four paperback short story collections, available both by annual subscription and as single volumes, each covering an area of interest to the genre fiction fan. From horror to fantasy, science fiction to detective stories, and with brand new stories from the likes of Michael Moorcock, Conrad Williams and Paul Magrs The Obverse Quarterly has something fresh and unexpected for everyone!

Book 1: Bite Sized Horror, edited by Johnny Mains

A chewable selection of horror and terror from some of the masters of the field, edited by Johnny Mains – Mr Pan Horror!

Brighton Redemption - Reggie Oliver
The Between - Paul Kane
His Pale Blue Eyes - David A. Riley
The Unquiet Bones - Marie O’ Regan
The Carbon Heart - Conrad Williams

To be released 30 June 2011, available for pre-order

Book 2: Senor 105 and the Elements of Danger, editor Cody Quijano-Schell

Senor 105, masked Mexican wrestler and fighter of evil and infamy returns in his own collection, edited by 105 creator Cody Quijano-Schell and with an introduction by comic star David Yurkovich!

Glyph – Joe Curreri
Señor 105 contra el Bigote de Perdición – Lawrence Burton
Mechaluchador vs Iguanadios - Jonathan Dennis
Are you Loathesome tonight? - Blair Bidmead
The Anti-element – Julio Angel Ortiz
Jackalope – Cody Quijano-Schell

To be released 30 September 2011

Book 3: The Diamond Lens and Others Stories: The Short Fiction of Fitz-James O'Brien

One of the very earliest science fiction authors, whose work has not been in print since 1929, Fitz-James O’Brien was an Irish writer of poetry, plays and short stories who fought in the American Civil War and was killed in battle in 1862. His imaginative and often surreal fantasies have rightly been described as one of the earliest forerunners of modern science fiction.

To be released 01 December 2011

Book 4: Zenith Lives! Edited by Stuart Douglas

For much of the first half of the twentieth century, the detective Sexton Blake appeared to be a cross between Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, as he foiled super-villains and evil geniuses time and again in the pages of boys comics. Foremost amongst those villains was Zenith the Albino, an opera cloaked gentleman with a taste for danger and excitement and little thought for personal safety. Obverse Books is proud to present new Zenith adventures from some of Blake’s biggest and best known fans!

With new Zenith stories from Michael Moorcock, Paul Magrs, George Mann, Mark Hodder and Stuart Douglas.

To be released 30 March 2012