A.J. Walker


Watching The Watch

Earlier on in the year I saw that the BBC/BBC America were producing a show called ‘The Watch’ based loosely on the characters in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I can’t say I was that excited by the idea. It would be substantially easier to mess it up than hit a bullseye.

It was only at the weekend that I noticed it was already available on
iPlayer and that you could watch the entire series of eight episodes. I downloaded the first one but took a while to get around to pressing Play. I mean it could make me angry - or at least a little annoyed.

The Watch (BBC America)

On IMDB the average rating is a not very impressive 5.3 at the moment (out of 10 if you don’t know IMDB). However such ratings can be misleading. And in this instance I would expect it to be very much down to proper personal preferences and pre-exisiting views. I mean it’s Discworld and it is not easy to make in the way Terry has told it to the millions of us fans.

I am a big fan of Discworld. And The Watch (the wacky police force in Ankh Morpork) include some of the best characters across the entire series: especially
Samuel Vimes. It would be easy to mess up bigly - many people think they have from what I’ve seen on Social Media and the IMDB rating. But the rating will also be pulled down by people who just don’t get Terry’s ideas and the world.

Personally I’ve somehow ended up being in the minority who enjoyed the thing. So much so that I binge watched the series over two days. At the end of the day it is not Ankh Morpork as in Terry’s books. It is a different - parallel universe - place. Vimes is nothing like I pictured him reading the books and the other characters are somewhat skew-whiff, but they are still as mad and diverse as in the books. It’s not overbearing how their histories or nature are described and maybe some people watching it who have never read the books would wonder what the fuck is going on with the werewolf, goblins, dwarves and an orangutan (and the Guilds) but hell they can’t be expected to explain and set the scene for everything. They don’t even go into the whole Discworld on the back of elephants and a gigantic turtle thing.

The Watch (from Discworld Emporium)

At the end of the day it isn’t Discworld per se and it isn’t supposed to be. But the characters themselves are great and the story is good. If you haven't been able to bring yourself to watch it yet I can understand some reticence but i'd recommend you give it a go. Just enjoy it for what the story and characters are and don’t worry that it is not Ankh Morpork (or Discworld) as you envisaged when you read the books. If you haven’t read the books then sort yourself out - you need to read a few forthwith.

A Surprisingly Enjoyable Olympics

Really quite enjoyed the Olympics with regard to some of the competition. As ever the cycling was particularly good from the UK (sorry, Great Britain & Northern Ireland) perspective. Not so great from the track & field side, but even there some success did come our way quite surprisingly (to me anyway).

Thought the GB did really well with their medal haul considering. And some of the reporting about it being lower than the previous two Olympics (at least in terms of Golds) were a bit too negative. The 2012 was a home one where all the stops were pulled out to win and the subsequent one in Rio obviously had the residual effect from the London one. But being fully nine years later the London Effect can no longer be expected to be quite as relevant.

I’m not a fan of the Lottery per se. I mean it seems to largely take the responsibility of funding from the government and put it in the hand of a company making money by encouraging gambling. It is morally dubious at best. But all that said the lottery funding of sports people and organisations has certainly provided a good lift to sports that otherwise would struggle to get funding.

The biggest difficulty with any Olympics is the time zones that impact on when events occur. But there’s not much that can be done about that (unless you are American and the big corps can encourage times that suit their advertisers). Sport is all about that moment. You want to watch it as it happens. I love watching a live footy match at a weekend (and the Premier League starts this weekend: Yippee!) but I wouldn’t sit through ninety minutes of a game that had finished earlier in the day; apart from re-runs of Istanbul 2005 or Barcelona, ‘Corner taken quickly, Origi!’

I managed to see some of the Olympics stuff live. But over half the stuff I watched wasn’t love. To be fair the BBC did a cracking job with their coverage IMHO. Apart from the cycling there was great stuff from the triathlon, boxing and swimming pool. Some of the middle distance male and female runners did a cracking job too.

Really hope the athletics can improve for the next Olympics as I grew up enjoying watching that with my parents. Dad was an enthusiastic middle distance runner in his youth and always loved watching the greats in the past - not just the British ones either. There’s something about the mile (or 1500 meters) and 800m, and the years of Coe, Ovett and Cram would be wonderful to repeat. Maybe one day.

Perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket to support(ish) a future middle distance great.

At least the next one is in Paris so time zones are not going to be an issue for this one. I can watch it all live (bar the sports that inevitably clash of course). Roll on, 2024.

The House of Shazam

Been watching a lot of House over the last month or so. Will have binge watched the entire eight series by April I think. I’ve seen every episode before over the years it was on. It was made between 2004 and 2012. I think Hugh Laurie was the highest paid TV star in Hollywood for a time then. The series were long compared with many series these days. I mean over twenty episodes per series is epic fir a fifty minute programme. I could only dream of twenty episodes of The Expanse per series. That's a wapping 176 episodes. Wow! And throughly bingeworthy too.


Going back to
House though has been good. Such great characters throughout the show and nice long threads throughout it. House is such a tragicomic flawed individual, that gives laugh out loud moments with his ill thought out (or quite brilliant) schemes, and so sad with his addictions and fear of love and getting close to people.


His various team members are always fascinating characters too with plentiful flaws that make you hate or pull for them whenever they go off piste or get back on their inevitable rails.

One of the best things about it for me is the music. Whoever picked the songs can select my music playlist any time. In fact I wonder whether they’ve been through CD collection at some point.

The end of each episode always brings a song in while they show the various characters doing their thing; usually thoughtfully and/or with drink, drugs or sex. These songs are always great. ‘
You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ by the Rolling Stones is one of the most famous ones, that gets referenced several times, that most people will know. But they use lots of artists that are less well known - and straight out of my CD library - like Iron & Wine, Josh Rouse, Bon Iver, Ben Harper, Richard Thompson, and Wilco.

Several times I’ve had to use
Shazam (a smartphone App) to identify the end song. I can’t believe now how quickly that Shazam can identify the track and artist from the tiniest of listens. It is great to have that ability, but I find it a bit scary how tech can listen and regurgitate the information to you.


If you haven’t used Shazam, or have no knowledge of it, it’s a free app that will listen to music around you, be that in a film or TV programme (though not whilst characters are talking through it of course), or while you’re listening to the radio after you’ve missed the intro, or in a pub etc (when they are back open). You just ‘Shazam’ it - which just means pressing the button in the App - and it will listen and report back to you the answer. It won’t be able to do it if the music is too quiet or there is too much background noise, but if the volume’s right my god it so good and mighty, mighty quick. And so far I’ve never seen it throw out a wrong answer.



If you’ve ever heard a song somewhere that you’ve liked but never hear what it was then this is the answer to your dreams. But like I say, a little bit scarily good. What else are your phones and apps listening to and regurgitating elsewhere? Best not think about that - or at least don't verbalise it in listening distance of your phone.

All Day Football: Or Not

On Saturday it was 50:50 whether I’d be off. They are usually short on weekends which meant they may have needed me, but as I’d done five consecutive days anyway it would mean I would be off on Sunday anyway (not permitted to work seven consecutive days). I was easy about being off on Saturday or Sunday either way. In normal times (sorry) I’d always take the day off that the Liverpool match fell on so I could watch the game down the pub with a few mates. But the city is in Tier 3 currently, meaning the only pubs open are foody ones, where you need to buy a ‘main’ meal with a drink - in addition you can’t meet with anyone not in your household (or bubble).

So on Friday night I looked into getting the football in the event I was ‘spared’.  I mean it was quite attractive to be off. I could get a few beers and maybe a pizza in and make it a whole day of football with:

West Ham v Man City
Barcelona v Real Madrid
Man Utd v Chelski
Liverpool v Sheffield Utd

It’d be great.

I don’t have Sky Sports though - too bloody expensive (and normally I’d be watching the game with friends in a local hostelry). I do have BT for this month, which I only got on Tuesday to be able to watch the Liverpool European games during our Tier 3 lockdown - it's £25 for a month. First off I thought I could get a Day Pass and watch the Liverpool game, but no. It was on Sky Box Office i.e. it’s one of the additional matches not originally taken up by the TV companies - which is dearer to get than one that was chosen: go figure. 

At lunch time the Man City game was on BT Sport, which was okay for me, this one month. Then there was El Classico on at 3pm. I thought maybe that was on BT, but no, it’s on a Premier Sport package just showing the Spanish League - which costs £5.99

The Man Utd match was on ‘normal’  Sky Sports. I could get a day pass for Now TV.... however (as someone who hasn’t looked into getting the footy before) I discovered that you cant watch NowTV via Sky or on an Amazon Firestick, so I’d end up having to  watch it on an iPad. I was not going to  pay £10 to watch a match on my iPad in front of a perfectly good, but ultimately useless, TV. Then there was that Liverpool match on Box Office.  FFS.

On Friday evening I had initially been quite looking forward to having Saturday off and watching four games in a day for the first time in many a year. However I would have to spend over £55 to watch these matches (would have been over £40 if I hadn’t already succumbed to BT Sport for the Euro games)  - and I’d have had to watch one of the games on a bloody mobile device. Ridiculous.

Roll on the end of Tier 3 restrictions when we can spend time with some mates and have a few beers in a nice friendly environment - and spend less than £55* in the process. 

Incidentally as it happened I ended up working on Saturday, but was given a really short route and got back mid afternoon (in time for El Classico). Sod’s Law dictated that the only game I could have watched without paying more for was the City game at lunchtime.  That’s life. Oh and the results as a Liverpool fan were great; Liverpool winning (2-1), and City, Man Utd, Chelski all dropping points. 

* Of course if you weren't in a lockdown you could invite someone around and share the burden. But if you weren't in a tiered lockdown you'd be watching it down the pub.

Too Good TV

Part of the time problem lately has been because there has been so much good TV that I've not managed to avoid. Much of it on the BBC, ably supported by Sky Atlantic.

In the last couple of months we've had:

  • Game of Thrones (Atlantic)
  • Fleabag (BBC)
  • Line Of Duty (BBC)
  • Follow the Money (BBC)
  • Cardinal (BBC)
  • Chernobyl (Atlantic)
  • Gentleman Jack (BBC)
  • Inspector Montalbano (BBC)
  • Summer of Rockets (BBC)

and this week we've got the wonderful 'Killing Eve' returning to BBC. Oh, and there's 'Good Omens' too on Amazon Prime.

GoT1 LoD1

Chern1 KE1

SoR1 GJ1

We really are living in a time of some great TV. Whilst it's great to be entertained by such wonderful productions it doesn't half get in the way of your own creativity. It's too easy to get home and stick an episode, or four, on of any of these programmes. Damn you writers and producers! And I haven't even mentioned Blue Planet or Springwatch or any of the great BBC4 docs. Or the wonderful football season.

Whilst I am not suggesting missing any of these programmes, indeed I am suggesting the exact opposite, I think if you are watching anything less good than this lot then perhaps turn it off and do something creative instead. When there's so much good TV about there is no need to waste any time with dross.

TV and Time Creation

So I fixed my TV earlier in the week by disconnecting the buttons that work it (yeah, who'd have thunk it?) and what did I do last night? I only went and watched the Strictly Final and Michael Bloody McIntyre. I mean WTF!? If ever there was evidence that my remote control wasn't working that would normally be it. But no, I saw through most of the former and all of the latter with only two bottles of Wild Bill's IPA from Aldi to keep me company: Living the Dream on a Saturday night. To be fair I did actually quite enjoy them - but, in my defence, I was also quite knackered. With respect to the winner, I do like Stacey Dooley for what she does on the telly box, but I thought (assuming we weren't basing it purely on actual dancing - when clearly the American Pussycat should have won) then Faye deserved it. Anyway, congrats to Grimsby and all that.

I then went all dark and watched the latest two episodes of
Sinner (Season 1) on BBC4. An interesting crime in a fucked up little American town with a fucked up police detective investigating the crime. It's hard to think of any detectives on the box that aren't at least a wee bitted messed up in one way or another. I assume at detective interviews if you claim you have a calm and stable life with no messy backstory, or a closet full of weird shit, you don't get to the second round of interviews. In this one he's got a messed up marriage and spends most his none investigating time getting beaten up by an ex (who he now pays to do it) in a severe masochistic relationship. Still, I'm sure he'll uncover the crime and all the baddies in the end; as long as he doesn't get accidentally suffocated first in a bizarre sexual encounter. Now that's an ending... and all the criminals lived happily ever after in the ultimate sliding doors moment.

In other news, I announced I'd probably stop
Class Song of the Day at the end of this year (frighteningly just 15 days away) and one of my (okay probably my only) regular clicker and listener has said 'I won't miss it...'. Now that is a damning indictment if ever I've read one. I suppose if not doing it gives me another 26 hours a year to do something and it does for others too, then I have magically created at least 6 working days of time out of nothing. So sometimes stopping something can be a job well done then. Huzzah!

Talking of time creation... watching that much TV in a night can't be a good thing. But I was tuckered out and moving not a jot was the way to go. Won't be watching too much TV today other than the Liverpool v Man Utd match (and if we win MOTD).

Samsung TV Fix

I reported a few weeks ago my TV had started going a bit random on me. It would turn itself over to other sources, cycling through TV/PC/HDMI input 1/HDMI input 2 etc very frustrating. In actual fact it has been relatively well behaved and only doing it occasionally for a while. But when you're watching something and it suddenly goes off and you can't get it back on it is more than frustrating.

The Remote had stopped working completely - apart from the On/Off button - and the buttons on the side of the TV were not useful (I could turn on the Menu, but could not select anything from it).

I had looked through pages and pages of issues for Troubleshooting on the net looking for possible issues and fixes and was fearing it was a board/capacitor issue which would end up being either messy or expensive or both. These days it is often as cheap to buy a new TV (or any electrical good) rather than get something fixed.

But today I was lucky enough to find the right page for me; it doesn't help with the Samsung TV naming standards - my TV is snappy titled: LE32B450C4W. Rolls of the tongue that one doesn't it? It's a few years old okay, but my last TV lasted longer and when I started looking into the Samsung issue it is all over the net - but complicated by the naming thing in terms of which problems are common to groups of 'similar' TVs (how can you tell if LE32B..... is similar to LF54Cxxx.... etc? No chance.)

The page I found today was on cnet.com and the specific answer is from 'Kimberley3g' near the bottom of the link. If you've got a similar problem take a look at it. In summary though the issue, which seems widespread, is with the button array at the side of the TV. And the fix... disconnect the little bastards.


So basically all you need is a screwdriver or two, half an hour and some confidence. I found the screws were easy enough to take out. It was a bit fiddly disconnecting the cables - I tried at both ends. In the end I disconnected the connector on the button board (the other end is on the Infrared board (see pics). The buttons are on the bottom left of the TV (looking from the back) and the connections are to the IR board at the very bottom of the same corner.

Samsung Buttons

Anyway, got it disconnected. Screwed the back and base back on and plugged all the connections back in (satellite, playstation, audio) and crossed my fingers.

Turned the TV on and hey presto! The Remote Control was miraculously working again for the first time for a month or so. The lack of information on the Samsung website and Forums on what is a known issue is very frustrating. I'm pretty sure I won't buy a Samsung TV again (this issue has carried on through to much more recent TVs).

Fingers crossed it continues to work - I suspect it will. I don't know Kimberley but I'll be raising a glass to her tomorrow.



Reading, Writing, TV, Same Old

Finished 'The Honorary Consul' by Graham Greene this morning. I must say I really like all his stories they do evoke a time and place very effectively as well as involving some sad and interesting characters. Recommended. According to my GoodReads tally it was my 19th book of the year and I'm fully 6 books behind my 'schedule'. Ho hum.


I can't put my finger on why I'm so far behind where I was last year. I can only think I'm falling asleep quicker in the evening, not reading quite as much in the morning before work or maybe I'm watching more TV. Maybe it's the latter - I've spent far too much time blindly following the Trump presidency for a start. I need to turn the TV off and get an hour a day minimum reading. Doing that getting to the 40 books can still happen and it'll save my tired neck muscles from my regularly shaking head. Reading more rather than watching the news channels will have the happy side affect of making me feel better too; a little escapism rather than the sad realism of this last couple of years.


On top of that I didn't succeed in doing two blogs or more this week. But I did update the Class Song of the Day with all the Neil Young songs earlier on in the week and made significant formatting changes to the Publications page - which was worth doing more than a blog. The larger images are much better for this page than the previous version. Looking forward to getting the cover and link up for the DeadCades book in the next month or so.

So I'm going to give myself an hour a day to read, right? Well we'll see, but what about the writing? Is there another hour I can find for that? Maybe. Finding reading time is much easier as you can just take five minutes here or there whereas writing requires bigger, if fewer, blocks of time to get in the zone.

I'm still unsure whether it is best to set a target of 1000 words a day or maybe 5000 a week. I'm edging towards the latter, given inevitable constraints in time on certain days. It really is a question of getting in a groove and seeing what works. I was pleased to do 1450 words in a day the other day. On that basis do that three or four times a week 5000 is very hittable and surely you can fit an hour or two into three or four days a week? The other thing you need is the actual writing goal itself i.e. what will those words be for?


Gone Fishing

I've got over England being beaten by Croatia in the semi-final of the World Cup, a lot faster than I do any Liverpool result. That said if they'd got to the final I'd have bloody loved it.

Anyway away from sport there's some good TV about at the moment, loving The Handmaid's Tale again of course. But my current highlight is the wonderful 'Gone Fishing' with Mortimer and Whitehouse on BBC2.

Mortimer and Whitehouse

The banter between the two old mates cover serious growing up issues (ok, largely men's health) and features lots of drug taking (Whitehouse surely rattles when he walks), alcohol (Mortimer likes his ale, huzzah!), cooking and even some fishing. The filming of the British countryside is reminiscent of The Detectorists making it seem all low key whilst beautiful.

Behind it all Bob and Paul's friendship shines through and leaves you with a warm happy feeling and a buzzy grin throughout. And the barbel is quite a cool fish. If you haven't been watching it yet then get yourself on that iPlayer thing. It's brilliant TV.