The Damned United

I have recently seen two films. The Boat that Rocked and The Damned United.
The second of those films I watched on my own, the assumption being that it was a man’s film. It gave me the chance to enjoy it without being conscious of what Joan might have thought of it had she been sitting next to me; a significant factor.

The Damned United

The Damned United

Brian Clough as depicted by Michael Sheen, was not a complicated person. He had drive, doubts, nerve, he was obsessed, thought a lot of himself and told anyone who would listen, and many who cared not to, just how good he was.
His dependence on Peter Taylor, who put up with almost all of his arrogance in a very gracious way, was clear from the start. So when Clough went to Leeds without Taylor, it was also clear he was being set up to fail.
For me the film rang true because of that honest depiction of both sides of leadership shown in the character of Brian Clough. That it was set in a footballing context only made it more engaging. It had that northern grit seen in films like Brassed Off, The Full Monty and Billy Elliot, and reflected a working class world that still existed in the 70s. I left the City Screen in York, thoughtful and satisfied.
So I was delighted by the Screen Yorkshire interview with Andy Harries of Left Bank Pictures who lifted the curtain on the negotiations behind the scenes that allowed him to film The Damned United in Yorkshire.

The Boat That Rocked? Well it did, but for me the film sank. The music was good but the weak storyline and the monotonous depiction of debauched lifestyles on board Radio Rock was tasteless. It wasn’t a worthy document of the pioneers who opened up a channel for pop radio in the UK. There are better ways of wiping the smug grins off the faces of BBC and government officials than pretending pirate radio was responsible not only for free radio but also for the whole of the permissive age. On reflection this was more the man’s film in a unreconstructed, cave man sort of way. Brian Clough’s story was much more about real life and family and gives insight into a man’s world with a very accessible storyline.

The Doorpost Film Project – Unscripted

The Doorpost Film Project – Unscripted

Unscripted is a film created by Riding Lights Theatre Company for the 168 Hour Film Project. It won “Best …” in several categories.

International Film, Screenplay – Drama, Supporting Actress and Behind the Scenes Film.

168 is a faith-based, worldwide competition, in which teams make a short film in 168 hours (1 week).
Now you have a chance to vote for the film on the Doorpost site.

Google Street View halted by angry villagers – why?

Google Street View halted by angry villagers – Brand Republic News

I love this comment in response the story about villagers who don’t want their homes on Google Street View. It’s not very gracious or PC but it does convey something valuable about tabloidesque scaremongering ….

Mark Wilson – 03/04/2009

Typical, small-minded, NIMBY, luddite proles with nothing better to do than swallow the nonsensical, fear-mongering that the unimaginative 24-hour news channels and tabloids spew into their pathetic minds. “Oh no – my house is on Google Street View! Google are a search engine. Street View shows pictures of my house. Ipso facto, burglars will actively search for ‘unlocked front door’ on Google and my house will magically appear with information about my security alarm code, the value of the paintings on my wall and my Summer holiday plans…” My question to these buffoons is do you have some kind of hereditary mental health issue or have you actually smacked your forehead against a solid object for the past 6 months to make you this stupid?

Blogging Tweets end

After a couple of weeks of using Twitter Tools to publish daily posts of my Tweets, I’ve disabled the updates. It works well enough but what value does it add to my blog? Nothing, because the same information is available in the sidebar and on Twitter with a simple search on @barstep.

On the other hand I’m pleased with the delicious updates using Postalicious because I use delicious to write short summaries and responses to sites I have found interesting. So my ‘delicious thoughts” will continue.

I was lying on my back in the snow

Forty years ago this evening I was on my back in the snow under a section of the Emley Moor transmitter mast near Huddersfield. I was salvaging aerial panels which only a couple of hours earlier were 1,200 feet above my head.

March 19th 1969

March 19th 1969

I worked for the BBC as a Technical Assistant at the Holme Moss transmitter station ten miles away. We also maintained the BBC2 transmitters on the Emley Moor site. At 5pm on March 19th 1969 the mast crumpled under the weight of ice on the structure.

The Emley Moor transmitter site belonged to the Independent Broadcasting Authority but the BBC and IBA UHF transmitters were being co-sited so we had a small building near the much larger IBA Transmitter Hall. The BBC engineer on duty at Emley on March 19th was called Fred. As he worked inside, the mast collapsed and curled itself around the UHF buildings on the site and other building across the road. A cable stripped the roof of the BBC building of its ventilation shafts and took a few bricks off one corner. The IBA UHF building next door, as yet unoccupied, was demolished.

Fred called the Senior Maintenance Engineer at Holme Moss, Frank, who was busy and initially took Fred’s cry for help as a joke. It’s so rare that someone rings to say “The mast’s fallen down” that it wasn’t given any credibility. Especially when it’s a 1250′ modern structure at a main transmitter site belonging to a major broadcaster. But it had fallen and Frank soon took Fred’s call.

I had just finished my day shift at Holme Moss. At home in my bedsit in Huddersfield I could only receive BBC1 on VHF. No ITV or BBC2. I called the control desk at Holme Moss and heard the news for the first time. It was all hands on deck – so I forgot about tea and drove out of town to Emley Moor.

Fred was sitting in the transmitter hall, quiet and shaking.

After hearing his account some of us went outside to inspect the damage. We couldn’t see much at all. It was dark, cold and foggy. Snow lay on the ground. We were helpless. Changing a valve or replacing a section of feeder wasn’t going get us back on the air in this case.

More out of a need to do something than anything else we began to unbolt UHF aerial panels from the mast in case they could be re-deployed on a temporary mast to get the station back on the air. It was a useless exercise of course. Those panels were designed to work in a matched array at 1200 feet. They were just useless bits of aluminium on their own. But we endured the cold – did the British thing – and salvaged three or four panels before calling it a night.

Less than 48 hours later BBC2 was back on the air. The UHF transmitters had been de tuned and fed into a UHF panel that had first brought BBC2 to the Birmingham area at Sutton Coldfield – another station where I had worked during my training as a technician.

I left the BBC soon after that and didn’t return to the corporation until 1983 when BBC Radio York went on air. I eventually became Managing Editor of the radio station and often told the story of the night the mast fell down.