Monday, 23 August 2010

This little one's not worth the effort.

The other day The Future Ex-Mrs Davies came home excitedly carrying a copy of the Daily Mirror newspaper. Now it should be noted that my sweet little flower is quite an excitable lass by nature (Gee Note: No really. You should see her skipping in to the room when she hears the theme tune for Masterchef kicking in. By the way, has anyone seen the US version of Masterchef yet? Seriously, what the hell is that? Turning a cooking competition in to American Idol? Gordon Ramsey? The bald dude? Oh dear God, the bald dude? No Greg Wallace bellowing baffling cliches such as "Cooking doesn't get tougher than this!" and "She must be able to make good hearty food! SHE'S A MUM!!!"? No John Torode slipping in to hyperbolic nonsense such as "But putting chicken and chocolate together is… it's madness! It fries my brain!" every so often? Well I don't like it. I don't like it at all). But for her to get a thrill from a simple newspaper is a very rare thing indeed. So you can imagine my surprise when she bounded through the door and met me with "Darling! You have to read this!".

Now I was half way through playing a videogame about silently sneaking up drainpipes and scaring pigeons (Gee Note: This may not actually be the point of the game you understand. It's just that, well, I'm not very good at being a gamer and most of the time I'm reduced to making my own fun.) and debated whether or not to ignore her. But the truth is I like a quiet life and don't like getting hit by stuff, so reluctantly I put my control pad down and took the paper off her. It turns out that day's front page was dedicated to a story about Vlad The Impaler Michael Howard leading a campaign for an official inquest in to death of David Kelly. Which is interesting sure, but hardly the stuff one gets giddy about. Noticing the confused look on my face she piped up once again.

“This has all come out after your last post. Which means you spotted this as a big story before anyone else did. I'm so proud of you.” And then she kissed me on the forehead and bounded in to the kitchen to bake a cake (Gee Note: For some reason The Future Ex-Mrs Davies likes making cakes when she's in a good mood. Which I guess is the reason we work so well together. She enjoys making cakes. I enjoy eating cakes. We compliment each other is what I'm saying).

The thing is though, I had no idea the Kelly situation was going to become a big story again. Honestly I didn't. In fact I wrote the last post simply because I'd had a conversation with someone a couple of days ago who was adamant that Tony Blair had bumped poor ol' David off. So I'd like to state here that I wish to thank former Leader of the Conservative Party Michael “Fan of Twilight” Howard for making me look a whole lot cleverer than I actually am. Well done Baron Howard of Howard of Lympne, to give him his full title (Gee Note: Lympne is a small village in Kent if you're curious. It has a castle called, imaginatively enough, Lympne Castle where the band Wings recorded the album “Back to the egg” in 1978. Sadly the building remained firm and didn't fall down on Paul McCartney's popular beat combo, and Wings continued to make God awful music all the way to 1981. Lympne also featured in the H.G. Wells novel “First Men in The Moon” where the narrator crash lands his craft off the village's coast. See? Research. I does it). Thanks to your sterling work in questioning the official story, I scoffed a home made pavlova that night. Seriously if you ever need any info on, like, bigfoot or something then consider it done. After all, a bro looks after a bro.

Speaking of news, working for a living sucks. Anyone who's kept down a job for more than, oh gosh, three minutes will already know this. Some jobs are better than others however. For example in my late teens I was employed for two years at a VHS rental store (Gee Note: Some of our younger readers may not know what VHS is. For clarities sake, they were what us grownups used to call DVD's. Except they were sturdier and you didn't have to buy the same one twice just because George Lucas had another breakdown and decided to screw with the original movie once again). And, I swear, I had a blast. Admittedly not everyday there was a ray of sunshine. But considering that most of my time was spent drinking soda, eating junk food and talking about movies, it really was my ideal job. As another example, I had a bloody awful job once working in a shampoo factory. The hours were long, the pay was rubbish, and everyone there was so bloody miserable it made Angela's Ashes look like a knockabout tween comedy.

Still it could have been worse. It can always be worse. Whatever you do as a vocation, however low you stoop to pay the bills and provide for your family, there's always something you can be thankful for. At least you're not Matthew Richards.

Now there's a chance you may have never heard of Matthew Richards. Richards is a reporter for BBC Wales, often appearing on their flagship television news broadcast "Wales Today". He's also quite unremarkable looks wise. He's kinda short, a wee bit podgy, and facially he looks a bit like a cabbage patch kid. This isn't meant as an insult however, as it's all part of Matthew's charm. If he had a Herculean physique then, quite frankly, I would probably hate him. But I don't hate him. In fact Matthew Richards is often the highlight of my day. Because, well, Matthew really does have a rubbish job.

You see Richards' official title is "North Wales correspondent". The problem is not a lot happens in North Wales on a day to day basis, and so Richards often gets handed the assignments that no one else wants. Need someone to interview a cow with Tuberculosis? Then send for Matthew (Gee Note: No really. He got sent to interview a cow. With tuberculosis. Picture a man wearing wellies holding out a microphone for a cow to weakly moo in to. Seriously it was awesome. Mind only a week later Matthew bested this veritable tour de force by filing a report on Wales' oldest tree, in which he had to meekly admit that he couldn't actually find the elderly sapling and instead had to settle for the second oldest tree in Wales. I swear I'm not making this up). Need someone to deliver a report about weather while being battered by gale force winds on the edge of a cliff? The send for Matthew (Gee Note: No really. The poor sod managed to squeak out the words "Worst weather Wales has seen in 40 years" before being drowned out by the sound of his bright yellow kagool threatening to take off in to the atmosphere). Have a story about an auto-mobile accident hotspot that, for reasons only known to the producer, needs to be conducted by the side of an insanely dangerous duel dual carriageway where approaching lorries threaten to decapitate the reporter with their wing mirrors every six seconds? (Gee Note: No rea… ah you can see where I'm going with this). Then send for Matthew. In fact take a look at the below video as an example.

(Gee Note: Now ignore for a moment the fact that it was Richards who got saddled with the work experience kid who blatantly had no idea how to work a tripod. Instead actually concentrate on the content of the report. As far as I can tell two people got arrested. And then they were let go. That was it. That's the entire story. Right there. You know it's a shame that there's not an international Peabody Award for "Consistently getting the short end of the stick in broadcast journalism". Because if there was, Matthew would win it every year).

In effect, Matthew Richards is BBC Wales' bitch. To the point where part of me expects to tune in one night and find him rocking back and forth while repeating something in Latin over and over again, covered in the blood of innocents. It hasn't happened yet. But I swear it's only a "Today a special ceremony was held to celebrate the man with the longest ear hair in Wales. We go now to Matthew Richards with more details…" away. In the meantime however Matthew keeps soldiering on hoping that one day, one day, that golden news item will land on his desk.

Anyway as most of you aware the British Government has been releasing their UFO files periodically over the past two years, giving tabloid newspapers an excuse to splash breathless headlines about Winston Churchill ordering a UFO cover-up and the RAF running in to little green men and getting in to all sorts of bother. The latest batch of these documents included a section about the alleged UFO crash in the Berwyn Mountains, North Wales.

So of course, it got covered in the Welsh local news. I mean aliens are always good for business. So just by mentioning the words UFOs and aliens “Wales Today” could expect a bump in the ratings, even if only from the morbidly curious. When you start throwing around statements such as the “Welsh Roswell” and “The Truth Revealed... NEXT!” then I wouldn't be surprised if “Wales Today” did it's highest rating in years.

Now bare in mind that Berwyn Mountains are in North Wales. And Matthew Richards is the North Wales correspondent for BBC Wales. So one would think that Matthew Richards would be the one front and centre of this sure fire audience winner right? I mean it would finally be his time to shine yeah?

Dude, c'mon now. Did you skip the middle bit? Of course Matthew didn't do the report. He was busy standing in front of an empty building talking about a concert that got cancelled. Instead the money woovy bezerk alien report went to Simon something-or-other.

As it turns out, it was much ado about nothing anyway. According to the MoD the Berwyn Mountain UFO incident was simply a mistaken case of an earthquake mixed with a lesser spotted meteor. Which, I don't know, I'm not sure a lot of people bought that theory when they first floated in 1974 let alone now.

Speaking of aliens (Gee Note: Two segues in one post? It's like I'm a seguing machine! Hey wait. The following bit is all about machines as well. Man I am on fire here) noted astronomer Seth Shostak has caused a bit of a stir in the UFO spotting community by suggesting that alien life may be, well, alien. As in "not like us". In fact according to Shostak it may be pointless searching for "biological" life all together, and instead we should concentrate our efforts on trying to find artificial intelligence instead.

Which presents a bit of pickle as far as SETI are concerned. Currently SETI, or the Search of Extraterrestrial Intelligence, has spent it's time monitoring the skies for radio signals emitting from the general direction of planets that might be like Earth. And it's pretty much a thankless task. In fact space is so ridiculously vast that even if you knew for sure that a radio signal was floating about somewhere out there and had a vague idea of where it was coming from, it could still take the equivalent of five life times to find it. You'd only need to be fraction of a degree out to spend your evening alone listening to static instead of an extra terrestrial hit record (Gee Note: You know like… "I Saw Mommy Kissing Alf" or something. Yeah OK. I know. That's pretty lame even by my standards. Would you believe it took me half an hour to come up with that? I think I need a lie down).

Shostak's theory however is that organic life would have only been sending out radio signals from beyond the stars for a limited amount of time. At the point when Greeny McAlien invents artificial intelligence the machines take over and start doing all the work. And, because machines don't require things like air and water, they could be transmitting from anywhere. Which means that SETI has either got to get a bigger boat, or pretty much resign themselves to never finding a damn thing. According to Shostak "I think we could spend at least a few percent of our time... looking in the directions that are maybe not the most attractive in terms of biological intelligence but maybe where sentient machines are hanging out.".(Gee Note: Is anyone else here picturing R2D2 and the T-800 chillaxing in a bar? "How is ze beer?" "Beep-doop-whistle-beep-whistle-beep". "Ach. You always say zat").

Shostak makes sense though. Which means that while we now have new areas to look in, finding alien life without a great big flying saucer swooping down from the skies and f***ing up various monuments just got that much more difficult. It would be like looking for a needle in a hay stack, if the needle was about the size of a flea and the hay stack was the size of Jupiter.

Still there's always hope. Maybe, just maybe, someone will find evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life in the heavens.

And when they do I hope Matthew Richards covers the story. It's the least he deserves.

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