Monday, April 03, 2006

A Will and Grace-esque weekend in Toon

I took a plane from Bristol to Newcastle on Friday night to visit my parents (who live in Durham City) and my oldest friend Kathryn and her partner who lives in Newcastle (we were on the same table at infants and had the same piano teacher). It's been a long time since I'd been back to the northeast where I grew up, and although I often say how grim it is, I do have a very soft spot for it, the people and the accent. Newcastle and Durham are both very different cities and represent the best of what the north-east has to offer. Newcastle is a party-town (or toon in the local dialect), with great shops and an amazing buzz. Durham is a lot more sedate, dominated by its Catherdral, scenic views and posh students.

My love of Geordies was somewhat stretched to its limit of tolerance on the plane, which had a hen-party (complete with silly outfits) and a gang of men going to watch the Rugby at the weekend, who acted as if they were about 6 years old. Fortunately I had headphones.

Kathryn and me are both obsessed with Deal or No Deal so on Friday night we made our own version of it (with bits of paper for the different numbers) and roped her long-suffering partner into playing. We then took turns at being Noel "Is this going to be one of those DREADFUL rounds?" Edmonds, the banker and the contestant (specialising in being thick contestants who have complicated strategies which involve dead relatives or faulty logic - e.g. "Today it's Friday and Friday has 8 letters in it, so I'll have box number 9 please Noel." We also stopped for commerical breaks at various dramatic points in each game - Kathryn had somehow memorised the dreadful Cilit Bang advert perfectly, while I did ads for incontinence pads for the elderly, dia-calm, Purple Loans finance and that evil pensioner insurance scheme that June Whitfield advertises ("no health screen necessary! You may lose your house if you do not keep up with payments...")

Even though we were only playing for "props", not real money, it got quite tense and involving, particularly at the end. Both Kathryn and I made Deals and ended up with about £20,000. Her partner risked it all and came away with only £100. The shame!

On Saturday we went shopping round Eldon Square and I bought some clothes/DVDs. It got busy round lunchtime so we got the Metro back to her house and ended up listening to all the old 80s music that we used to listen to when it was the 80s. Kathryn would make mix tapes from the Annie Nightingale show on Radio 1 on Sunday nights and then do copies for me. In the evening I saw "The Hostel" - which is the new film by that director of "Cabin Fever" and Tarantino, which is rather sick. These three back-packers go to Slovakia in order to visit a mythical hostel where the women are all gorgeous and sex-mad. But it's all a trap and they end up in a basement, to be tortured and then killed by jaded millionairres. Not a very nice film and if I worked on the Slovakian tourist board I'd be tempted to sue. It's difficult to like the hero as he's one of those confident jock-types who calls everything "gay".

The plane back was delayed on Sunday evening, but I'd bought a book called Freakonomics which was so enjoyable that I didn't notice. It's a really fun book - about the psychology of money, and has all these true-life stories about American society. For example, apparently, the crime rate in America dropped quite sharply in the 1990s, despite predictions that it was going to soar because of drugs and poverty. The reason the book gives, is due to the Roe vs. Wade decision which legalised abortion in the early 70s. Because abortion was then made legal and cheap, millions of very poor women who didn't want kids had abortions as a result, so by the mid 1990s America was missing a population of under-class, unloved kids who were most likely to commit crimes. And Nicolae Ceausecu's banning of abortion in 1966 in Romania, meant that he ostensibly created a population of angry young people who had a large part to play in the uprising that took place in 1989, which led to his own execution. How's that for ironic.


Lost Boy said...

Is there a 'Deal' board gane out yet? It's only a matter of time. I never thought of doing a home-made version but I think I just might.

Malcolm said...

Ahhh the good old north east. I havent been back home to Newcastle for ages. Just hearing some of the place names you mentioned brought back memories!

Rob7534 said...

A game show parady with commercials and all! Priceless. It would have been even better had you filmed it.

I watched Hostel too and thought it was kind of boring. The torture scenes were overly gratituous w/gore. I love gore, but I also think some of the more horrible bits are best left to my twisted imagination for ultimate effect.