Saturday, 28 August 2010

Far From Best Western

I'm usually quite a fan of Best Western Hotels, a chain of independently owned "real" hotels run by "real" people in contrast to the usual anonymous corporate groups.

Sadly, one of their staff at an hotel in East Anglia lost them a booking today by being offhand in the extreme and trying to tell me I'd misread something. Of course, that might have been true (I don't think it was but we all make mistakes). However, her triumphalist mocking of me for doing so reminded me of the way a teacher might talk to a pupil at primary school.

Plonk! One lost booking, quickly replaced by something which has turned out to be better.

One of Life's Little Questions

Why is it that only ladies with really terrible hair-dos wear those funny clear plastic rain hoods?

BBC Radio 4 Strikes Again

As if I needed proof that BBC Radio 4 justifies trhe licence fee on its own…….

I drove back from Oxfrod this afternoon with the ever varied Radio 4 keeping me company. In the space of an hour it gave me a remarkably well-dramatized account of the escape of Charles II after the Battle of Worcester in 1651, an item on the political beliefs of Jimi Hendrix and a heart-rending account of a woman who gave up her baby for adoption in 1963 to have him track her down decades later.

The miles just fly by with this t9o keep the old grey matter going. It was almost one of those periods when you don’t want the journey to end. Try challenging that sort of stuff BSkyB!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Time Shift Television

One of the more useful (if not exactly the greatest) inventions of the last 30 years has probably been the video recorder and its modern day successors the DVD recorder and PVR and HDR.

The ability to watch something later than it goes out, at a time convenient for you and not the programme-planners is one of life’s minor satisfactions.

But I sometimes find myself wishing for an additional convenience. I wish you could “time shift” recordings the other way and watch them before they’re aired. That way I could have seen tonight’s “Grumpy Old Men” when I wanted to. And before I fell asleep.


Last night I did an evening walk in the lovely, atmospheric Clerkenwell area on London. It’s a genuinely fascinating area, home to such varied delights as the New River (not new, not a River), the Finsbury Health Centre, Saint John’s Gate and some K4s and K6s thrown in for good measure.

But oh, what an evening for weather! It just just bucketed it down for the whole two hours and the legendary Ian Jelf Umbrella was actually of practical use for once. Now, despite our country’s reputation for bad weather, this is actually a surprisingly rare occurrence I find on walks. Traditionally, I recall two such occasions, one in Rugby and the other in the Moseley area of Birmingham. But this one definitely goes up into that category, I’m sad to say.

Luckily, I had an extremely tenacious group whose desire to learn more about the place left me staggered!

Thank you, dear member of SPICE Adventure London!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Democracy and the Sausage Sizzle

It’s Election Day in Australia today (Saturday).

Australia has spent 109 years throwing off the British Imperialism and has now developed sufficiently to give its voters a choice of a Welsh-born woman or a London-born man as Prime Minister.

More intriguingly, I’ve just discovered that queues to vote are apparently equipped with – and I’m not making this up – a “Sausage Sizzle”! Now if we could do that I’m sure it would to much to reduce British voter apathy. People would also probably not notice when the polling stations closed before they'd had a chance to vote.......

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Bear Facts of Life, Marriage and Everything

Some friends of ours are getting married tomorrow and it’s set me thinking about the institution. I came relatively late to marriage but - although this sounds corny - I can thoroughly recommend it!

On the train last night I read an article by a woman journalist that said she’d been told by men friends that they avoid women who collect teddies or cuddly toys as it makes them “unhinged” and therefore suspect. Hmmmm.

It so happens that I’m married to a decidedly level-headed, well-“hinged”, intelligent and fun loving lady who has a vast collection of bears gathered over the years. Some are valuable for reasons of scarcity, many more are “valuable” as they remind her (and nowadays often me, too) of happy times and visits. The camel I won at Blackpool Pleasure Beach; Heinrich from the Rhine (named after Heinrich Heine, whose Lorelei was nearby); the giant Charmin Bear won in a raffle at Sainsbury’s; and the koala from…….well, guess!

It seems to me that “normal people” (ha!) do love this idea of everyone conforming. We all should lead the same “normal” lives. We’re supposed to clean the car on Sundays, spend Thursday evening in Sainsbury’s, worry about new curtains clashing with the futon or engaging in one-upmanship about everything from flat-screen TVs to baby buggies.

I’m glad that I can share my life with someone decidedly not like that (but actually rather like me, with my eclectic collecting habits). Someone who – although perfectly able to have fun, a lot of it, too – doesn’t regard throwing up in the gutter as the objective to a night out and with whom I can have engaging, intelligent conversations and an engaging, intelligent fun life.

She’s pretty good at sorting out computer problems, too. ;-)

I know that Nicki and Dave - tomorrow's happy couple - are on course for similar happiness. Wishing you both lots and lots of it, too!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

"Day Off". Ha!

I've virtually always had jobs which involve weekend working and - although I love what I do - it does sometimes pall to be working when those close to you aren't and vice versa.

However, today was a day off which proved to be arduous beyond words. Hedges trimmed, the ever-present lawns given TLC, more clearing out and various other preparations.

I wish I'd been working "properly". At least someone would have been paying me at the end!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Shed Loads of Hassle

For reasons I won’t bore you with, having come back from a job this afternoon, we decided to clean out the garden shed.

This was a job of truly herculean proportions and within 20 minutes the back garden looked as though a small nuclear explosion had taken place.

Where does all this stuff come from? Actually, we’re afraid to admit that some of it came from the previous occupants of the house. We have no idea what some of the things in jars were but we’re pretty certain that some of them would probably have been of interest to the weapons inspectors in Iraq.

To our surprise, though, we did manage to make it all reasonably tidy. Eventually. Just one question remained, though. It’s one we’ve had posed before and wonder if anyone else has, too?

Why is it that you clean somewhere out, throw loads of stuff away and still struggle to get all the stuff you’re keeping back in?