If ever there was a show to watch at nighttime before bed, it’s Channel 4’s latest “what if?” Drama called Blackout. It’s a drama constructed of different stories from people caught up in the scary and unthinkable situation of a week long power cut. The drama itself is well written and highlights all the stages along the way from curiosity and excitement right through to fear and survival. It basically comes back down to animal instincts and those who act on them the most will survive it. The drama is certainly worthy of the positive comments and reviews it has attracted and it has confirmed in my mind, that we as a country would be well and truly tested if put in this frightening situation. From the story of a Mum and her 10 year old daughter traveling from Hampshire to her Mums in Sheffield right through to the self sufficient Dad and family who resorts to looting Kwik Safe and leaving a guy for dead, it makes edge of the seat viewing.
It is because of this, that as soon as the final credits rolled up our TV screen in a darkened front room our collective minds got thinking WHAT IF?….. It is because of the hard hitting writing and production of this drama that you can’t think about doing anything else. What would we do if we were thrown into this scary and realistic situation? What if cyber terrorists disarmed our National Grid and we were stripped of Electricity? It’s quite an interesting topic of conversation and by the end of it, some quite constructive and devious plans were formed.
These plans were based on prior knowledge of the length of time this Blackout would last for. I know if thrown into this situation we wouldn’t have this benefit, however after 10 minutes of a Power Cut it would seem rather dumb and cavalier to be launching an attack on Waitrose behind our house and raiding their fridges and legging it out without paying just to see the power restored and the normal world carry along as before. We drew up a list of things that we’d do if put in a week long Blackout situation, it goes something along these lines:-
Day 1 – Go to Waitrose and use the money in our food jar to stock up on bottled water, tinned cold food and a bottle of Jack Daniels (the latter is my wish!) Remember the cash machines will have shut down! Strip our camping box of Gas Stoves, Pots, Pans and the cans of gas we have and move all of this to our top floor. For those not aware of our house layout we have 3 floors. Drive to the Christian Builders Merchants in our town and convince them that The Lord would want this and “borrow” 18mm sheets of Ply and nails to board up our ground floor windows. This would be done on both sides. Put big lock on our side gate in garden and prepare to head into lock down mode. Get through the night and hope that everybody else thinks this is still a novelty.
Day 2 – Head out into the world and see what’s going down. I’m pretty sure that our High Street would be intact but it’s worth using this opportunity to see what else could be purchased or bartered for in our local Hardware Shop. Return visit to Waitrose and see if there are any Ian Rankin Irish Soda Farls remaining and sneak them out whist distracting the Security Guard. Under no circumstances will I be having a BBQ and inviting the neighbors, nor disclosing I have a wind up generator that runs on Beetroot Oil in our cupboard. All Beetroots, Beans and tiny potatoes will be harvested and stored under the bed upstairs. Toilet will comprise of Poo Bags from camping trips and the bath will be filled with water for emergency. Survive the night taking it in turns and hoping the distracting noises outside are nothing more than the local drunks, blissfully unaware of what’s happening in the world.
Day 3 – A few noises and an obvious visitor in our garden suggests they were hunting for our Beetroot. Nothing is broken however it is evident that Waitrose is now populated by the local youths of our town. No longer an option it’s a relief I didn’t open up the Soda Farls. Temptation to venture out is still there. Wander down to find the Town Hall is open for a Book Fare confuses me, but what am I to question. Morale seems ok and it won’t be long before the novelty of reading wears off. Discover my cars still where I left it minus two dust caps, strange! Mobile Phone main battery is dead after watching You Tube videos last night, onto back up charge pack. I think we will play Scrabble tonight under Candle Light. Disruption outside and a broken window means we will block up the doorway and stairs to our first floor in the morning. Just got to survive the night yet again. Strange note to self, the sparrows have stopped singing in the evening.
Bizarrely as I tried to upload this photo our Broadband stopped working, slightly eerie!
Day 4 – We’ve had a break in and our Seed tin has been stolen. It’s also evident that someone has swiped our Magnet collection from the fridge. It’s not safe anymore. We board up the back door best where entrance was forced and roll the fridge against it. Apart from this everything else is intact. We have inherited a copy of All Creatures Great and Small, which suggests to me that this intruder was at the Book Fare yesterday. I shut the door on our staircase and block up the stairs with furniture and various bulky items. We are not leaving the house anymore, Poo Bags thrown out of our windows and the Ian Rankin Farls devoured, we set out to check our security efforts. It looks good but we just can’t get comfortable. There is a strange air of unrest outside, a trolley somehow sneaks past the metal security grid and rolls past our house. It’s not nice and as the dusk settles we think to ourselves, only one more night to survive! Of course we don’t really know this, but it it gives us an edge over everybody else.
Day 5 – We’ve survived the night and are relieved to find our secure doorway and staircase blockage is still blocked. Noises come from down below us but it could be anything. Noises appear amplified from around and because of this it is near impossible to identify where from. Gas is running low and water is down to what’s in the bath. It’s at this point I really shouldn’t mentioned I cleaned myself in it! The days goes slowly as every second a new threat appears. This bizarrely includes a Traffic Warden checking the cars opposite our house. God they work every hour including the Bank Holidays! Good to see our Councils trying to make some money in these challenging times. As this thought passes I realize it was a looter wearing a uniform, that’s more like it! Final night tonight, just gotta keep on going. Blog is updated and as I prepare to see through our final night I think hurry up please!
And there you go, the dawn of a new day appears, the sunshine glows red and the sparrows are singing. My phone lights up and a network signal appears. The lights outside our house spark up as if to tell us, fear not this ordeal is finally over.
It was pretty fun creating our diary and plan to survive this ordeal if presented with it. On a more serious note though, it’s scary just how quickly human nature changes and how public services we rely on heavily will start to falter if this situation happened. Please watch this Drama if you haven’t already done so, it’s easy for me to make it sound light hearted but it drives home some scary facts and truths.
So what would you do if you were in the same situation? I’d love to hear your stories.
One of my favorite TV shows returned to the BBC a couple of weeks ago with the added spice of two new Dragons to replace Theo and the other one I didn’t like, sorry Hilary! I was absolutely fascinated and intrigued about how both Piers and Kelly would handle being thrust into the Den with the old guards Peter, Duncan and Deborah. The result was one of pure viewing delight as they more than held their own and made some quite interesting and bold views known to the other Dragons.
I have recently read a blog from my friend Jaki who wrote about her love for Big Brother and how it filled a part of her life that may not be everyone else’s cup of tea, Dragons Den is my Big Brother. I’m not going to start a debate with others who dislike it and tell them they’re talking rubbish, the point of this blog is to discuss my obvious likes and total frustrations with what I’ve seen so far in the opening two episodes.
With those not familiar to the show, Dragons Den gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their businesses to the Dragons, with the view of securing investment from them in order to help take their businesses forward further. The Dragons are five self made business experts who have personal wealths that they have accrued through their business knowledge and expertise. The entrepreneur will make a pitch which lasts around 3 minutes and then the Dragons will grill them over the facts, figures and decide if there is potential of a return that will justify their investment in the business. The concept is brilliant and it makes me squeal and cringe inside when the pitches go horribly wrong. On the flip side it’s totally awesome and high five moments across our sofa when a pure brilliant gem of a business succeeds.
The Chocolate Teapot is something that I’m awarding to the idea or moment that generated the biggest disaster and cringe worthy pitch. The went to the guy who gave the promise of a hand crafted case which could be used with your tablet computer. The pitch was presentable and the guy was confident with a humble side to him. He brought on with him someone who demonstrated the case being made by hand and whittled with the finest wood available. The detail promised to be fine and the development potential of the product clear. He handed each Dragon a completed product and boldly claimed he’d sold lots and nobody had ever complained about them. It’s at this moment I turned to my partner and said, “I bet one of them has an iPad” it was at this moment Peter grabs Piers Tablet. What then followed was pure TV cringe, the iPad slipped out and didn’t fit! Peter was then corrected and shown the correct way to clip it in, maybe a savior had appeared and this pitch was saved? Nope it still slipped out! Pure disgust from the Dragons and all the Entrepreneur could utter was, “oh that’s a slight item defect, it can be worked on!” Peter totally lambasted him and questioned his credibility in only the way the not so Gentle Giant could! Fantastic!
The Glass Hammer award is awarded to the Entrepreneur who pitched a product that looked useless but somehow managed to secure an Investment with it. Now after reading the interview from Kelly Hoppen it didn’t surprise me when she invested with Deborah for the mobile mat that you could exercise on. She has made it clear that she would rather invest in people she likes and not ones who necessarily have the best ideas. This rules this lucky lady out who despite Duncan slating her, got £60k from the two female Dragons.
This award has been awarded to the young lad who came out and presented a ready made meal that had the promise of no artificial ingredients. His pitch was stumbled and there was a quite hilarious moment where Kelly thought she may have an allergic reaction to the contents of it. Despite Deborah’s best attempts to find papers to back his claims, it transpired he’d said the wrong ingredient! Duncan had almost topped himself, Piers was bored, Kelly relieved she didn’t have a fit and Deborah out! Peter quipped at the beginning that his meal tasted clumpy and took longer than he stated even hurrying him along in an impatient manner at the start of his pitch. This is when the pure shock and disbelief of the Den occurred, Peter made an offer and gave him the investment because he loves his dream and wanted to help him. I have images of Peter 6ft 8 and let’s call him Dan 5ft 10 huddled around a pan on a hob creating ready meals together! Absolute shock and stunned silence followed.
Finally the Golden Egg award goes to the most successful and polished pitch in the Den. This is also coupled with the product and business and the Entrepreneur. Texan Joe Walters came into the Den with a musical introduction and then gave the most calm and collective pitch I’d seen in a while. He knew his market, knew the market share currently available and all with a graveled Texan accent. He wore a Cowboy Hat and a striking outfit, he was just missing the gun holster and sheriff star. After the pitch when grilled by Deborah, he revealed he already had backing from Brew Dog and the £37.5k he required was to match their investment. He then silenced her with a written order for 10,000 units at £1.75 a piece, not a bad thing to have folded up in your back pocket!
The pitch was brilliant and his apparent laid back chilled almost drug induced performance would have given the impression he didn’t care. In fact it was the complete opposite, he knew he had a great choice of product and one that could eat into the 90% market share enjoyed by the market leader of Beef Jerky. This resulted in 4 offers of investment and Peter Jones offering more than what was requested. This tactic gave him the upper hand and when he asked for 25% and not the 22% Joe wanted to offer, Joe quickly quipped how about 23% as I still want a controlling stake of my business. Peter replied by saying “I know what you are doing, ok how about 24%!” Fantastic drama and a lovely conclusion to the show. Well done Texan Joe, you were an absolute delight! This is why I love Dragons Den.
Television is a fantastic subject that can be put out to debate on any day of the week. In fact TV conjures up so many different views, it is because of that, I am solely going to focus on something that I absolutely love, Kids TV Shows. Now as a 33-year-old guy I can honestly tell you that I have very little knowledge on what is available for todays children to watch, however I am still going to take on anybody who disagrees with me (from my childhood timescale) that Kids TV was far faaaaaaar better than it is now.
Being 33 and having a good group of friends that I’ve grown up with since those days when staying out till dusk to play walkie talkies or kerbs (awesome game) was the highlight of life itself gives a slight glimpse to what is available today. The majority of my friends are either married and have children or have children and are still saving for marriage. It is because of this that getting together is now much more of a “family event” and because of this the conversations will involve talking about their kids favourite toys and what they love watching on TV.
Now the point of this post is not to dismiss todays cartoons, I must admit that Ben Ten looks awesome and even more amazingly is the fact that the once ridiculed Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have not only survived the test of time, but actually stand out on their own merit. Quite what todays kids would think if they saw the early series that we had to put up with, it makes me smile on the inside just thinking of it!
Television when we were kids and for those unsure of the years I am talking about it is from the late eighties to throughout the nineties, was simply amazing. These shows made you want to watch, they always had a storyline and even though we didn’t know it back then, they taught us a good moral. Ok The Gummy Bears were always bouncing around searching for their magic berries however every episode of The Raccoons did have an important story to tell.
We were spoilt, we didn’t know how good we had it, these shows were all so very different and kept you interested. I could go on listing my favorites and probably will but the three shows that stick in my head to this very day were oh so unique and lets face it still unrivalled.
Knightmare was pure genius, being guided around a very basic computer generated Dungeon by 3 of your friends and all you could see was darkness. Back then it didn’t even occur to me that you were in a very large room with a helmet on and just being guided around nothingness. However when I was watching it I couldn’t get my head around it. I was fascinated by it, from Treguard always giving advice right through to the Talking Walls that blocked your safe passage through. My lasting memory is walking into a room with a Bomb in the corner and having to guide through the room quickly whilst avoiding the lizard which was plonked onto the screen. TV at it’s best and god I still have to admit I watch it on You Tube.
Secondly I absolutely loved the Nessies or the Family Ness, oh how brilliant and so stereotypical they were looking back at it. The intro is pure genius and the fact you had Nessies grabbing musical notes and stealing them and kissing them and doing everything to keep them is so totally pointless, but whilst I was a child watching it, I loved it. Each show featured a different Nessie and when Angus blew on his Thistle Whistle (I can hear the Scottish Accent still) all trouble would break loose! It is one of those shows that I had to watch.
Finally Paul Daniels and his creation Wiz-Bit, now that is one show that I can’t quite figure out how it started. I am sure this would have been when Paul Daniels was having a mid-life crisis, however a yellow pyramid with a face and a magic wand was simply the stuff of a hallucinogenic drug. Friends with a big rabbit called Woody and guarding Puzzleopolis, Wiz-Bit had a mission to find out about Planet Earth. Looking back at it I am sure this was supposed to be educational however I think when Wiz-Bit spoke in a high squeaky pitch voice and uttered “Ostagazuzulum” at regular intervals it was probably designed to be just entertaining. In my eyes anybody who came from a planet called WOW was worth getting to know.
Now it’s easy for me to just claim that children’s TV was better when I was a child, however just thinking about these shows makes me smile so much. I have so many fond memories of them. This is also where You Tube has such an important place in today’s world. I regularly use it to watch the shows I used to watch and love how they seem not to have aged one little bit. You Tube is fantastic, I just hope that our children of today stumble across these gems and don’t dismiss them immediately. Now that’s me just wishing!
PS: – Trap Door, Willow The Whisp, Pigeon Street, Jason and the Wheeled Warriors & The Mysterious Cities of Gold were very very very close.