Lost in London

A look at London and life in general through the eyes of someone who sometimes can't bear to watch.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Have I got news for you

I'm not really the 'green' type. While I tut over the ridiculous amounts of packaging required to wrap mange tout and recycle newspaper and bottles, I'm not the type to stand waving placards about the plight of whales (do people still do this?) or chain myself to a power station.

An environmental matter that's come to my attention now, however, is the sheer volume of newspapers floating around London at the moment. Freesheets in London have been commonplace for years, from the specialist titles aimed at backpackers or Polish people (the strapline for which on its distribution boxes cheerily reads: "If you're not Polish, don't bother") to the execrable 'bits of the encyclopaedia paraphrased and sprinkled with industrial tribunal gossip' that is Metro, but now London finds itself in the middle of a media war, and it's taking many a tree with it.

Media reporters have been scratching their crotches excitedly for weeks at the arrival of two rival freesheets launching within a week or so of each other. London Lite, scrawnier counterpart to the Evening Standard, itself a London newspaper with incurable delusions of national grandeur, was first off the blocks, its bored distributors half-heartedly gesturing with a copy, barely bothering to urge you to take it. As a read goes, it's OK if you like the Standard, Metro or the Daily Mail- three titles I don't enjoy and do not read- and are more interested in Lindsay Lohan wearing four different outfits per day than in world events.

Cheeky upstart thelondonpaper (oh look, no capitals or spaces between words, woo! How unmistakably 'now'!) has impressed me slightly more in content if not in distribution. Its employees are borderline psychotic and think nothing of jumping out in front of you to make sure you have a copy of these 50 pages of precisely nothing. Because the weather's nice and I now live more centrally, I have been walking home and have become the target of approximately 30 of these wannabe adrenaline junkies, as well as spied them darting across impossibly busy roads, thrusting papers through barely open car windows or chucking piles of them on buses. I can but imagine what kind of commission bonus they seem to be on, but it does look like a rather elaborate Pepsi Max commercial to watch them try all manner of death-defying stunts and words of persuasion to get me to take a copy. That this newspaper has recruited people who act as if they're in a Big Brother audition comes as no surprise; its publishers are News International, responsible for, amongst others, The Sun.

What both newspapers have in common is they claim to encourage content from readers, be it restaurant reviews, pithy comments on music releases or concerts or, every paper's staple (no pun intended): an over-reactionary letters page. Indeed, one of the papers screams that it is London's only paper which truly knows Londoners, only to ignore any news actually happening in the capital and place a reader's comments on being worried about the Tube fares next to a story about somebody losing an earring in Dakar.

All of this newspaper floating around has reminded where paper comes from and I'm beginning to wonder how many freesheet launches it will take until we've ruin out of trees completely. There simply isn't enough news in the world to justify all of these colourful, yet pointless, tabloids. Distributors on every corner stand with piles and piles of newspapers beside them. Won't somebody think of the trees?

Perhaps the way to get rid of these two treekillers is to launch my own freesheet using alternative media: sheer metal, perhaps? I could then combine the pointless content of one and aggressive distribution of the other by copying random news 'buzzwords' off the internet and then hurling my inscribed, metallic news javelins at unsuspecting commuters, spearing them through the hand. They'd certainly never forget the brand.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Here comes the rain again

Moving house, the sniffles, technology: it's all getting a bit much.

I've been moving house, hence the radio silence. It started out as totally stress-free but has suddenly become the most horrendous experience of my life. As it's still going on, I won't bore you with the details but suffice to say if BT were an individual and not an organisation, I would be in prison right now for disembowelling it. Instead, five OTHER things I could do without right now:

1. Being the sniffer

I don't know why, but public transport in London gives me a sniffle. It lasts only for the duration of my journey, but sounds as if I'm halfway through a particularly bad bout of hay fever. The best thing about it is the stares of other people on the bus as they are alternate between wanting me to shut the fuck up and worrying about whether they'll catch whatever it is that I'm 'carrying'.

2. MySpace
Just as emails have replaced letters, MySpace seems to have usurped any other form of communication between mates. Comments on MySpace are baffling one-sided conversations and the site's so clunky and unlovely, I can't believe how much it has been embraced by 'da kidz'. What I hate most is really dull singer/ songwriters trying to get me 'added' as a friend in the hope of having a Lily Allen/ Arctic Monkeys type of MySpace popularity explosion. That ship has sailed, people: move on.

3.Optimism block
Apart from quacking on my blog and- sigh- MySpace, I can't seem to find the energy to write anything else without a hint of bitterness; in fact, I'm not doing too well here either. I reviewed this week's new releases yesterday and was mercilessly disdainful about each and every one, to the point where I'll probably have to do a rewrite. My sunny disposition has clouded over.

4. Phones with MP3 players
Phones that feature MP3 players which allow you to play the music through your phone's loudspeaker are the spawn of the devil and I fantasise about murdering each and every person who possesses one and takes advantage of this function. A particularly gruesome train ride back from Ikea on Sunday was further darkened by two girls blaring out the same unidentifiable track repeatedly. Why do they do this? The sound quality is awful and it pisses everybody off. Oh, I think I just answered my own question.

5. EastEnders
I don't watch this programme any more, but due to being off work and attempting to avoid packing/ unpacking, I've caught a couple of episodes. Wow, this show has not just jumped the shark, it has pole-vaulted over the top of it and just about every other marine creature. Dialogue clearly put together by the work experience boy and performances phoned in from Iceland on Clapham High Street. Truly awful. It's about time it was put out if its misery. Who watches this for entertainment?

Two good things to try and pull this post back from the brink of a Victor Meldrew-style rant:
1. My new flat's very nice
2. The new Sugababes single is excellent.

Thank Goodness for that!