Soap, Ice and Metal

“Why is everything mad around here?” cried Sarah in Hollyoaks as her deranged mother absconded with her little sister’s baby. “Why is nothing ever normal?” Because you live in Hollyoaks, dear. While it might not have reached the bizarre heights of The Colbys’ UFO abduction storyline (yet), things are certainly weird just outside Chester.

Craig and John Paul continue their mad, passionate and presumably doomed affair. Guy Burnet and James Sutton, two young and not unattractive actors, work well to convey the characters’ doomed passion for each other, hampered somewhat by their inability to remove their clothes when in bed together. All right, it’s a pre-watershed show, but would it destroy the nation’s morals to show that people normally take off their vests while having sex? It’s not just for my own gratification I’d like to see this, honest it’s not.

Going even further north than Chester this week were the Top Gear team, who took it into their heads to attempt to drive to the North Pole. Well, Jeremy Clarkson and James May did, while condemning the ever-unlucky Richard Hammond to racing them with a sled pulled by dogs. This was actually rather a thrilling show, as the presenters gradually realised that their usual larking about was rather inappropriate when faced with the danger of getting frostbite of the penis.

Clarkson and May, attempting to cruise effortlessly through the Arctic in a Toyota Hi-Lux pick-up, initially had a lot of fun, drinking gin and tonic as they drove. “Don’t write to us about drinking and driving,” snorted Jeremy, “we’re actually sailing!” And so they were, as they proved when their Toyota almost plunged through the ice to the frozen depths of the Arctic Ocean. Fortunately, they had a back up team of Icelandic mechanics and a BBC camera crew to help drag them out.

Hammond, on the other hand, had only a relentlessly cheerful dog trainer and a constant shower of dog excrement. Still, I found myself rather hoping that old would triumph over new and the dog sled would beat the Toyota to the Pole. No such luck, though, as after negotiating some genuinely terrifying thin ice and bergs the size of cathedrals, Clarkson and May beat him to it. The real winner, when the snow settled, was Toyota, who will never get such great publicity for their flagship pickup. And to think, the licence payer actually paid for that!

Channel-surfing later that night, I happened on Metal Hammer magazine’s annual award show, Golden Gods 2007, on MTV2. Once again, I was staggered by quite how seriously metal fans take their milieu. Presumably this was some edited highlights version of the show, unless the artists really can get on and off stage and do an interview in the time it takes for a Napalm Death song to be over. Napalm Death themselves put in an appearance, winning some sort of lifetime achievement award. “Fucking great!”, they enthused later, Brummie accents undimmed by the passing of time.

Meanwhile, suitable “we’re not worthy” respect was granted as Tony Iommi took the stage, accompanied by the increasingly freakish looking Ronnie Dio. Of an uncertain but presumably great age, Dio is beginning to resemble the kind of zombie that Send More Paramedics aspire to be. “Let’s fucking rock!” he exhorted the crowd, who responded with feverish enthusiasm. Later, as frenzied hordes headbanged in blurred slo-mo to Dimmu Borgir’s “Progenies of the Apocalypse” I found myself wishing that metal would lighten up a bit. Blimey, I must be getting old.

Footnote: OK, it’s been a while since I posted here. I could flabble about how I was so dazzled by the season finale of Doctor Who that I was left creatively stunned for several weeks, but the truth’s rather more prosaic. After being told I was being made redundant from my job, I had a bike accident, gave myself concussion and then wrote off my beloved Triumph Herald convertible in an accident (not of my making). After absorbing all this, I reckon it’s time I got back to writing. If only to take my mind off it! Keep watching this space…