Monthly Archives: April 2011

Billygean’s Blog: Hooray for the Humdrum


I have a love-hate relationship with blogs. There are several I enjoy – travel blog Going Local is an absolute delight, for example, and James and The Blue Cat is consistently chucklesome – but there are many more that incense me. Like spite-filled celeb rumour mill Perez Hilton, an ever-present reminder of humankind’s inexorable retreat into idiocy. Though it’s the ‘personal diaries’ that have traditionally acquired the majority of my goat.

“Come on”, I thought. “Wake up and smell the narcissism. How can you be so arrogant as to expect total strangers to give a flying fig about the mundane happenings of your mundane life? It’s the 21st century equivalent of popping round the neighbours’ to show off snaps from your latest break in Bognor.” Continue reading

The Great Potential of Petition Marketing


Here’s a question: how do you feel about Paris Hilton? Personally I have nothing against the pointless, insipid, spoilt, undernourished, narcissistic, empty-headed, fame-raping little brat… but I know others feel differently.

When Ms. Hilton was found guilty of drink driving in 2006, her PR team decided to harness the power of public outcry in a campaign to request her pardon. The Free Paris Hilton petition – which includes the incredible declaration “Paris provides beauty and excitement to our otherwise mundane lives” – received a fairly impressive 33,000 signatures. Unfortunately, a counter petition requesting that the socialite serve her full sentence was signed by over 91,000 people and featured on several major news channels in the US. Proof, if it were needed, that not everybody shares my innate capacity for forgiveness. Continue reading

Bohemian Oddity #3: Mezi Ploty Festival

Prior to the late April release of my new travel article in stalkingElk, I’ll be previewing a few of the Bohemian oddities that will be featured. This final post is about Prague’s maddest – in every sense – music festival.

There are some amazing music festivals in Europe. If you were so inclined, you could start the party season at the multimedia, Renaissance subculture festival Netmage in Bologna, take a break at the arty, classical ponce-fest that is St. Magnus on Orkney and then end your summer with the intimately Arctic mish-mash rave of Iceland Airwaves in Reykjavik. But for all Europe’s unusual, eclectic music festivals, none come close to the bizarre two-day summer music and theatre bonanza that is Prague’s Mezi Ploty. Continue reading

Alrite R’kid? Why I Love the Manc Accent


When I was growing up in a quiet little town in the south of England, I was always jealous of people with accents. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, I thought, to be able to ask for jellied eels, or a sausage barm, without sounding like a ponce. Wouldn’t it be bloody brilliant if the sound of my voice alone communicated a deep-rooted link to the precise location of my upbringing.

I do, of course, have vocal indicators that identify me as southern English. Many can even place my accent in the south east. But am I from Basildon or from Basingstoke; from Berkshire or from Kent? My part-BBC, part-Estuary English style of speech gives few pointers to a precise location. The fact is, millions of people across a large part of the country speak in much the same boring way as I do. My voice is a poor compass. It’s hardly surprising, then, that I dreamt of having a real accent. Continue reading

Bohemian Oddity #2: Two Pissing Men

Prior to the late April release of my new travel article in stalkingElk Magazine, I’ll be previewing just a few of the Bohemian oddities that will be featured. This time it’s an interactive urine-based fountain sculpture. Yes, really.

David Černý is a man who courts controversy. Whether it’s by submerging Saddam in a big tub of formaldehyde or lampooning a continent with a stereoype-fueled European Council installation, the Czech sculptor is always plotting new ways to ruffle the collective feathers of the middle classes. But nothing has got the Prague public talking more in recent years than his bizarre yet poetically-titled fountain sculpture Piss. Continue reading