May 21st, 2013

Gosh…Once again an amazingly long time between blogs!
So, I’m well ensconced in the new job, and for those who’ve asked, yes it really is a salad factory! in fact looking out of the office window, In one direction I can see the watercress beds, and in the other the packing sheds where the greenery is washed and packed. My morning commute takes me down winding country lanes – I could use the motorway but the lanes are prettier and have fewer holdups. And I leave home two hours later thsn I used to every morning, and get home two hours earlier.
Oh yeah…and in five weeks I’ve found seventeen geocaches in the area I can reach at lunchtime.
Speaking of home life (which I was before I got distracted by geocaching), Purple Fred (whom I love very much) and I have been working hard on wedding plans: the ceremony is planned (we finalised the music last night), including choosing the reading and who’s going to read it; sorting out the wording of the vows; selecting the hymns and nominating our witnesses – this last undaunted by the fact that if Gatwick airport has a wobbly one of them might not actually be in the country.
The reception is planned, or at least that bit of it that involves choosing the menu, which is the bit I did. PF (WILVM) has wisely done all the rest of it, on the sound assumption that anything not involving pork belly, black pudding and bacon rolls couldn’t be guaranteed my full attention.
Ooh, and a supreme honourable mention to MaDoPF (that’s Mum and Dad of Purple Fred, but I’m sure you’d already worked that out for yourself) for their hard work on hand-crafted invitations and orders of service, ss well as about a million other things.
And on top of all that, we’ve been on a cruise and had a weekend away in the caravan, with another two planned: we finished our commitment to the Drama Festivals (we didn’t go through from the second round) and ducked most of the work involved in the next one. Oh, and in spite of my recent Facebook post, we still don’t know when our Eggheads programme is due to transmit.

Old News

March 25th, 2013

After the excitement of Totton Drama Festival, I commented to Purple Fred (whom I will continue to love very much after we’re married) that it was the second time in my life that I’d gone through to the second round of something. Which of course required explanation…

Back in the far-off days of long ago (between 1974 and 1987, if I remember right), I was a cadet member of St John Ambulance. Our division had a team which entered first aid competitions, and our team coach was a man of great vision and imagination called Mike, who was also our Division Superintendent. Mike decided in my first year in St John that rather than entering the best team he could, he’d put together a team of the youngest and least experienced who would do badly in the first year, but would stick together through our time in the cadets and after a few years be the most skilled and experienced team around.

Well the first bit of the plan – the bit where we didn’t do very well to start with – went as expected, but we did start climbing up the rankings. In our area – Hampshire Central -there were two competitions at the start of every year for cadets, the Allen Shield coming first, with the area round of the National competition coming and few weeks later. The competitions were in two parts, an individual round where each team member dealt with a simulated casualty on their own (although the judge would sometimes perform the role of a helpful bystander), and then a team round where we worked as a team of four to deal with a multi-casualty incident.

There was also a uniform inspection with a prize for the best turned out team, but although we did our best we never caused any work for the people handing out the prizes in that one.

Anyway, our last year as a team together arrived: before the next competition year started three of the four of us be too old for the cadets and would have moved up to an adult division. For the last couple of years our division and one of the other Southampton teams had been deadly rivals and the smart money had us coming first and second, although which way round was anyone’s guess. Not only that but their team leader, Philip, and I were in the same position for the Highest Individual Score award.

The day of the area round came, we competed, and the results were eagerly awaited. The uniform trophy was awarded, but not to us: It was time for the Individual award. The room held its breath, as did Philip and I who happened to be standing next to each other at the front of our respective teams.

It was a draw between Philip and me. We shook hands and smiled at each other.

Then it was time for the big one: the overall result, the aggregate of the team score and the four individuals, which would decide which team represented Central Area in the Hampshire round.

It was us…with a margin of seven marks out of three hundred!

So we went to the county competition: the winner here would go on to the South of England regional round, beyond which stood only the National final. Not only did we not win, we were totally outclassed. I’m hoping not to repeat that experience.

More Drama

March 24th, 2013

Well who’d have thought it – we got through to the next round, the quarter finals of the All-England Drama Festival! Not only that, but Frances, one of our cast, was nominated for ‘Best Supporting Adult Actor’ so joy all round. We didn’t win our heat or anything, we were third or fourth, but the adjudicator puts through the four acts that he thinks will do best in the next round, and we were included in that.

So after the announcement of the results, we had to rush home, fire up the laptops and take the props and furniture off of EBay, before someone bid on them!

So now we’re straight back into rehearsals, working on those areas the adjudicator recommended we work on, and generally polishing our performances. And yes to the comments from last time – when we head up to Shaftesbury for the next round (where the famous Hovis commercial was filmed), we’re planning to get a proper man with a van!


March 22nd, 2013

Well i suppose I ought to tell you about this drama thing.

As regular readers will know, m’lovely Purple Fred (whom I love very much) is a figure of some importance in the local amateur dramatic community, and through her good offices I have somehow agreed to appear in the group’s entry in Totton Drama Festival, the first round of the All-England Drama Festival.

The play is ‘In Room Five Hundred and Four’, about a young couple in the early years of the second world war, who’ve just got married and have one night for a honeymoon before he goes off to war. ..never to return as it turns out. I play the hotel manager and have a key role to play in setting the scene of a seedy boarding house that thinks it’s a luxury hotel. My Skegness accent has to be heard. ..luckily I only have to maintain it for six lines.

Meanwhile there’s been offstage drama as well. ..I took today off work to be available to move scenery to the theatre (our performance is tonight). I anticipated doing the whole thing in one trip (although to be fair I knew I was pushing my luck to get both halves of the bed in the car at once), leaving me the rest of the day to catch up on some minor jobs and sit around in my dressing gown watching ‘Top Gear’ repeats on Dave. So I loaded up Evie B, (I will need two trips) and set off with my first load.

Before I got to the end of the road. ..’What’s that funny noise? ‘

Oh. I have a puncture.

So I emptied the entire load all over the pavement, dug out my lovely space saver spare wheel and changed it at the roadside. Then I loaded back up and headed on my way, stopping at the first garage on route to sort the tyre pressures.

I’m hiring a van next time

Bumper News Edition

March 14th, 2013

Well, it’s been so long since I last blogged, and so much has happened!

Most importantly, wedding preparations are well underway: we’ve set the date and booked the church, the reception venue, the photographer, the cake and the hotel for the overnighters. We’ve sent out a lot of the invitations (Gaz and Bel, can you confirm you’ve had yours? ) and settled the menu choices, and as I write this, the future Mrs Gottle is short listing hymns.

In work-related news, I have a new job! Some of you will know that I’ve been looking for a while, and now I’m on my way to being Health, Safety and Environment Manager in a salad factory. So I’m moving from the public sector in the excitement and buzz of the Nation’s Capital, to the private sector in the peace and calm of the Hampshire countryside. I can’t wait!

As well as all that, we’re busy with plans and preparation for the drama group’s entry in Totton Drama Festival (I’ve been promoted from playing a tramp last time to a sleazy hotel manager for this one), looking forward to our forthcoming holiday. We don’t like being bored. .

Meeeeeee and Mrs….Mrs Gottle

January 22nd, 2013

Well, as my darling Purple Fred (whom I will continue to love very much after we’re married) has already told you…we’re getting married! We haven’t set a firm date yet…mainly because of checking availability of reception venues…but we’re aiming for before the end of the Summer.

For those who’ve not yet met her, my lovely Purple Fred (WIWCTLVMEAWM) is great fun and with quite a mischievous of humour. She’s also very clever – even more so then me, which definitely saying something. The first of my friends to meet her were Rockin’ Rob and Sally-J, who said she was adorable, and I’m not questioning that.

Don’t expect a conventional wedding…we’ve got a wedding cake decorator with some original ideas for a start…but it’s sure going to be fun! I’m looking forward to married life…and I can’t think of anyone i’d rather spend it with than PF (WIWCTLVMEAWM) :-)

He is useless isn’t he – but I do love him (Sick in a bucket time!)

January 21st, 2013

This is written by PF (WHLVM) as Paul has not bothered to announce his earth shattering, life changing news. So I guess I must do it for him. He is about to become an old married fart. Nough said! Now tell them all about it Paul unless you are trying to keep me a secret. P.S. can I have new initials WIWLVMEWM now.


January 1st, 2013

Well apparently I’ve let another whole month go by without a blog post. I considered being sneaky and back dating this by a day, but I am, as ever, honest with you my readers.

There’s still no news on when our Eggheads appearance is going to be on TV – it’s likely to be around Easter, so stay tuned and I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

2012 was another exciting year – my beloved directed her second major play, which kept us busy for much of the first half of the year, between her doing all the things that go with being a theatre director and me being her sound designer – which itself involved me learning more than I expected about SurroundSound. We still managed to fit in a fabby holiday in Florida, hitting all the Disney parks, Kennedy Space Center (spelling americanised in honour for the fact it’s in America!) and GatorLand, as well as swimming with manatees – or at least swimming in manatee poo.

In Summer we grabbed a late deal on a holiday in Lanzarote and had a lovely week in the sunshine, visiting volcanos and animal parks, swimming in the pool and scuba diving in the sea! Oh, and of course I’d done my two weeks working hard at New Wine earlier in the month.

We’ve had some lovely weekends away – uppermost in my mind without reading back are Abbotsbury Swannery during the cygnet season, tank driving with MiniFred near Leicester, and a weekend in Bath almost visiting the Christmas Market. Then there’ve been theatre and cinema trips (we saw The Hobbit last week), and all sorts of other stuff.

I promise I’ll try to blog a bit more often in 2013 (and I know I said that almost exactly a year ago…)

As Promised…

November 1st, 2012

A picture of some Eggheads!

Eggheads and Challengers

Eggheads: Chris, Daphne, Pat, Dave and Barry
Us: Alan, Steve, Neil, Rob, Me and Gary

Eggy Goodness

October 27th, 2012

And now, the blog you’ve all been waiting for…

We did Eggheads! That is to say, the quiz team Sixty Not Out were on the show. Contractual obligations mean I can’t tell you the result, and in any case I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you, but you’ve got a while to wait – the series currently being filmed is the next one to be televised, in about six months time.

What I can tell you is that Chairman Steve, Rockin’ Rob, Neil (who is also called Guy), Gary (who doesn’t have a daft nickname yet) and I…along with our reserve Alan “No Sugar Al” flew to Glasgow where we were put up in sumptuous accommodation. Alan went off to visit his niece, Neil (wiacg) and Gary(wdhadny) went to the pub, and Rockin’ Rob, Chairman Steve and I stayed to eat in the hotel, followed by a quick geocache before bed. Well it was a hundred feet from the hotel front door, it would’ve been rude not to.

There was another Eggheads team in the hotel, and we met them at breakfast. They weren’t much fun so we stuck to talking to each other, before leaving the hotel horribly early…and, as it turned out, two hours early. We’d had two emails telling us what time to get there, and we’d believed the wrong one. So after two hours, we were taken through to the green room, where we had yet another legal briefing, and our shirts were chosen.

We’d all had to bring a choice of four shirts, from which the wardrobe team would tell us which one we could wear. So if anyone’s reading this who doesn’t like the shirt I ended up wearing, (eg, Purple Fred [whom I love very much]), blame Mrs Wardrobe, she made me wear it.

Then it was down to make-up (and in my case, having anti-shine on my head), and were finally ready to go through to the studio.

We recorded our introductions, our own mini-piece to camera (“hi, I’m Paul, I’m 49 and I’m a civil servant!”) and the the Eggheads came in. They were all jolly, and made us feel welcome, and then Dermot, the questionmaster arrived.

Then we did the quiz, and jolly good fun it was too. And I don’t think I’m giving away anything I’m not allowed to if I say that my worst fears – of making myself look a total arse on national television – didn’t happen.

We’ve got some photos, which I’ll share with you as soon as we get them from No Sugar Al. And of course I’ll let you all know as soon as they tell us the transmission date.

Egghead on a Jet Plane

October 21st, 2012

OK, OK, I know it’s been a while. But I have an excuse…I’ve been busy revising.

You see, following my last post, our team has been accepted for Eggheads! We’re going under the title Sixty Not Out because we’re all from Southampton Hospital Radio and the station is sixty years old this year. In fact, we celebrated our sixtieth last Thursday, the same day that some other broadcasting organisation (the BBC) celebrated its 90th anniversary.

Our programme is being recorded this coming Saturday…in Glasgow! So on Friday afternoon, Sixty Not Out will be travelling by luxury airliner (FlyBe) and staying overnight at a top quality five-star hotel (Premier Inn) before heading off to win thousands of pounds on the quiz.

For those of you that haven’t seen it (I know I have some non-UK readers), Eggheads is a quiz show where a team of challengers (us) is pitted against the house team, the Eggheads. These are all previous winners of some of TV and radio’s biggest quizzes, including the first million-pound winner on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, a multiple-Mastermind winner, and the chap who used to be the question setter for Brain of Britain.

To ensure the team’s humiliation…sorry, I mean triumph…is seen by as many people as possible, not only have I been posting details here, but Purple Fred (whom I love very much) has been telling everyone possible, including the staff at our local pub (where I’ve been practising by playing heavily on the quiz machine), and our chums from AmDram. Oh, and when we left Mikey’s birthday party last night, Jonny announced it to everyone.

Oh yeah…and m’colleague BellEnd is organising for a party at work to watch the programme in a pub near the office, and had grassed me up to the editor of the company newsletter.

We don’t know transmission date yet – as soon as we hear I’ll post it on Facebook, and in the Twitter feed box at the top right of this blog.

Egg(head) on Face

September 19th, 2012

Some of you already know that, along with a few chums, I recently auditioned for the BBC quiz show Eggheads.

Southampton Hospital Radio is sixty years old this year, so Chairman Steve thought it would be a jolly wheeze to enter: he assembled a collective of the station’s geekiest finest minds, nagged us until we filled in our application forms, and put our entry in.

About a million years later – or at least six months – we were called for audition, and this indeed was where we went last Saturday. Chairman Steve, Rockin’ Rob, Neil (who is also called Guy) and yours truly (accompanied by Neil (wiacG)’s good lady), caught a horribly early train packed with already-drunk football supporters and headed for the Nation’s Capital.

We got to London a bit earlier than necessary so we took the indirect route to the TV building, browsing through an open-air book market on the way. We should have browsed more thoroughly, as will become apparent. Anyway, once we arrived, we found we were one of four teams being auditioned – two of the other teams had only brought three of their five members with them, so we didn’t feel too bad about having left our number five, Gary (who doesn’t have a daft nickname…yet) behind – he couldn’t get the day off work.

Once the audition proper started, the first thing that happened was an individual written quiz: I won’t tell you the real questions as I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the two hundred pages of legal documents we signed, we said that we wouldn’t. But to give you a flavour, one of them was something like “Which American crime writer wrote I, Alex Cross?” As that was one of the books we’d all browsed about thirty minutes earlier, you’d think that would’ve been easy…you’d think wrong, we all had to guess, and it transpired that we all guessed wrong. Another question was similar to “To which island group does Sark belong?” to which I originally put the right answer, then crossed it out and put something else. But first prize for numb-nuttery, at least in this round, went to my answer to a question similar to “What does the S in USA stand for?” Of course I knew the answer (the real question was, if anything, even easier than that), but I totally failed to RTFQ and answered “United”.

Perhaps in some future quiz, I’ll be asked “What does the F in RTFQ stand for?” I’ll probably get that wrong too…the correct answer is of course “flipping”.

Next up was a mini game of Eggheads between the four teams. The first round was Films and TV, so we nominated Chairman Steve, who’s probably seen more films than the rest of us put together. The question was to identify a film from which a particular quote came – he had one of those blank moments where you know the answer but for some reason say the wrong thing. Ah well. Two of the other teams lost a person that round too.

Next up was Food and Drink, which I’d already claimed as my number one sepcialist subject, so I stood up, answered my question correctly, and sat down. At least it wasn’t a whitewash. The next round was Sport, so we put in Neil (who is also called Guy). They asked him possibly the only sports question in the whole world that he didn’t know the answer to, but he put in an inspired guess and was right.

Round four was Science – I wanted to take it as my second-claim sepcial subject, and as there were only four of us, one was going to have to go twice, so I could have done. But Rockin’ Rob hadn’t been yet, and got the question right, so it was lucky I didn’t.

The last individual round was Music: Had Gary (who doesn’t have a daft nickname…yet) been there, he would’ve been our music expert, but Neil (who is also called Guy) stepped up to the plate and answered brilliantly, so we were fine. Three out of the four of us through to the final round!

In short, we won.

The final part of the day involved each team doing a piece to camera about how interesting we are, and what an enthralling episode of Eggheads it would make if we were picked. If we’re shortlisted, we should hear in the next couple of weeks.

Once we left, Neil (who is also called Guy) headed off to join his lady for a day’s research into his main sepcialist subject, Real Ale Pubs of London. We tried to tell him that isn’t a round in Eggheads, but he went anyway. Rockin’ Rob had to get home because he was playing a gig that night, I needed to get home because I had a toilet to mend, and Chairman Steve isn’t safe to be left out on his own, so the three of us headed back to Waterloo. We had a thirty minute wait for our train, so we stopped for a drink and a go on the pub quiz machine.

We played two games of Eggheads on the quiz machine. We lost dramatically both times.

A New Generation

September 16th, 2012

I promised you a better picture of my generator when one was available…here y’go then…

Generator running

Generation Game

September 11th, 2012

I’ve been considering buying a generator.

I’ve thought for a while that it would be a useful adjunct to the caravan; if nothing else to keep the battery topped up – and therefore enable us to run the lights, radio, telly etc – while we’re on a remote site without electricity. I only recently realised that it would be just as useful during the winter “no caravanning” period – the storage site where the caravan lives has no mains, so a generator would enable me to use power tools, and the Hoover, for those out-of-season maintenance jobs, as well as keeping a maintenance charge in the leisure battery.

The problem is that a generator worth having was always too expen$ive for the benefit it would bring. Even a small good quality generator like one of these:

runs into several hundred, even second hand.

So I started thinking, what would my ideal generator be? after all, if it’s never going to be any more than a wish, I may as well be wishing for the best.

  1. Runs on propane gas. Most or all small generators run on either petrol or two-stroke: Since my car uses diesel, that would mean carrying another type of fuel only for the generator. Whereas I always have a cylinder of propane in the caravan. Petrol engines can be converted to run on propane (and so can two-stroke, although it’s a right fiddle), but the conversion kit alone costs more than I was prepared to pay for the whole thing.
  2. Small enough to be easily transportable: seems obvious but a so-so generator that you’ve got with you is more useful than a brilliant one that you left at home because it’s too big to lug around
  3. Powerful enough to be useful: I don’t expect to be able to power the whole house in the event of an electricity outage, but I want to be able to run power tools and the telly etc.
  4. Quiet enough that the neighbours on the caravan site won’t complain about it – although generally on the kind of sites where I’d run a generator, the neighbours would be running theirs too.

So there’s my wish list: point one puts things beyond what I’m prepared to pay, and points two and three are more or less mutually exclusive, but one can dream!

But then, at a country fair a few weeks back, I spotted one of these: it doesn’t run on gas, but it fitted all the other requirements including price, and really the only reason I didn’t buy it was that I’d have had to carry it around for the rest of the day!

But it started me thinking, and researching on line: I bid for one generator on fleabay but didn’t win it – then the same day spotted another one, cheaper and smaller, and therefore more portable. So now I’m the proud owner of this!

(Better picture coming once I get the chance to point a camera at it in daylight!)

Inspired by the Olympics

September 7th, 2012

Gosh, another blog-free month :-( The good thing is that it’s mainly down to the fact that I’ve been too busy having fun to write about having fun, rather than anything bad!

Anyway, today marks the end of the Olympic invasion of London, at least as far as commuting days are concerned, so it’s a perfect time to tell you about the genius idea my colleagues and I had. Y’see, Brian, Ricardo and I noticed that in spite of being a huge continent, Antarctica has no representation in the Olympic games. This seems like too good an opportunity to miss, so before Rio 2016 we’re going to register as citizens of Antarctica. Being the only three who qualify, we’re bound to get selected for the team!

We’re a bit worried about events like the 4 x 100, given that there are only three of us: also that we might be expected to turn up for the equestrianism riding polar bears*, but other than that it seems like a plan with no foreseeable drawbacks. And at least we get a month in Rio out of it.

* in spite of the fact that polar bears come from the North Pole, not the South. But I’m relying on the average sports commentator not knowing that.

Don’t Forget your Towel

July 26th, 2012

Along with Purple Fred (Whom I Love Very Much), I was lucky enough to be able to see “The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show, Live‘ the other night.

What an amazing evening of comedy this was: featuring almost all of the original 1970s radio cast, and with Hugh Dennis as the Voice of the Book, it romped through the Hitch Hikers story at high speed. Of course they couldn’t cover the whole radio series in an evening, but even the bits they’d had to cut were made an excuse for a joke. A live band on stage produced the music, and a (sadly uncredited) puppeteer brought a life-sized Marvin to life. The inevitable bloopers of live theatre were expertly exploited by the cast for full comedy value, with special mention going to the antics of the NutriMatic drinks synthesiser.

Many of the audience had come appropriately dressed, with many dressing gowns and towels in evidence; with even more imagination the guy in front of us had come as Slartibartfast (and boy, did my spell check have fun with that!).

The show ended with a solo rendition by Marvin of his own special song, followed by a finale of which the highlight was the cast inviting applause for a projected image of Douglas Adams, which brought a standing ovation, not to mention a lump to the throat. All in all, a top quality evening of entertainment, thanks to Lord DSP, (he really is a lord, you know), the workmate of PF(WILVM), who thought of us when he had a couple of spare tickets.

A New Flame

July 15th, 2012

(Simply Red, 1989)

The Olympic flame came to Southampton on Saturday.

Now my general feeling about the Olympics is pretty well known – I don’t like the fact that London residents and businesses have been made to pay for it, yet received no preferential ticket allocations; I don’t like the fact that little or no advantage in ticket allocation was given to grass roots supporters of the sports in question; I don’t like the arrogant way that London businesses will only be allowed to receive deliveries between 11 PM and 6 AM, to keep the roads clear of commercial vehicles so the “Games Family” can speed unhindered between sites; most of all, I don’t like the fact that London’s commuters are being told to plan alternative ways of getting to work, because public transport is going to be jammed solid with those games tourists who are not part of the Games Family, and therefore don’t qualify for chauffer driven limos and sepcial traffic lanes.

All that said – and to clarify doubts that someone raised as a result of a Facebook post I made t’other day – I hope the Games are a rousing success: I hope London shows off its best face, that the Underground and Bus networks get people where they’re going without problems, that all the spectators, volunteers and competitors have a great time. I truly do hope all these things – it’s just that experience – together with the stories that have appeared in the press over the last few days – makes me think that at least the middle of those hopes – on which the other two largely depend – is unlikely to be realised.

Anyway, the flame came to Southampton, and Purple Fred (Whom I Love Very Much), Mini Fred, another friend of ours, and I, all went to see it. It has to be said that the adults in the party weren’t keen – I know it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but so was the Black Death and I’m quite glad I missed that – but we went anyway. Even though it rained all afternoon, I was sure we’d need to get there early or we wouldn’t find a parking space. And Yes, PF(WILVM), I freely admit I was wrong about that. Still, it would be worth turning up early, as Southampton’s Guildhall Square, that magnificent public open space in the town centre, had been turned into the “Olympic Activity Village” to entertain the crowds. Here’s a picture of the Olympic Activity Village in the Guildhall Square:

The Olympic Inactivity Village

We spent three minutes in the Olympic Inactivity Village, but only because that’s how long it took to walk from one side to the other, stopping to take a picture on the way. We found ourselves a good spot to see the flame in the rain, and awaited developments. The crowd were all getting into the spirit of things, even the non-human ones:

Dog with flags

Then three sponsors vehicles came round the corner, handing out freebies (we didn’t get any): The crowd surged forward, leaving just enough space for the flame carrier and his escorts to come through, and the flame carrier came and went. This picture was provided by PF(WILVM), as at the key moment of flame-passingness, the person next to me leaned forwards and blocked my view:

The torch bearer passes by, version 1

From the place we’d chosen, we knew we could easily get to another bit of the route before the torch did, so we headed off through the parks for another go – more in the hope of being more successful at getting freebies than having a better view. More by luck than planning, however, we’d chosen a spot where the flame passed from one torch bearer to another, so it went a bit slower, and we’d also chosen a spot that the flame had to pass twice: As it had been through once, most of the crowds had pushed off to the pub, so we had a much better view:

The torch bearer passes by, version 2

The Police people were friendly – we were also at the changeover spot for the escort teams, and a couple of the motorbike cops were posing for photos with the kids in the crowd, and we have to admit we were all glad we went.

And then we went home to change into dry clothes and warm up.


July 3rd, 2012

M’colleague Bellend has been complaining that there’s been no bloggy goodness for a while…so, given that a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a mega-entry to catch up…what we did at the weekend:

We saw some very regal swans…

And cute cygnets

And a proud duck.

We saw some excellent views (while geocaching, needless to say)

And I got a new Facebook profile picture, courtesy of the photographic skills of m’lovely Purple Fred (whom I love very much!)

Capital Idea

June 2nd, 2012

I have a brilliant idea. I think I should maybe patent it.

Passing through my least favourite railway station earlier this week, I was offered a free walking map of London – the idea is to get people walking and reduce reliance on the public transport, and in the words of the map-giving-away person, “get ready for the games”. Transport for London have already accepted they don’t have the capacity for all the games spectators AND all the normal London people going to work, so they’re doing everything they can to ease the process.

I have an idea to help London Underground prepare for the games which may be even better: As anyone who travels by public transport regularly in London knows, the cheapest way to get around is with an Oyster card, a pre-loaded charge card with which you swipe on to a bus, or into and out of the Underground. The system keeps a record of the use of the cards, which is handy if you use one for work travel as you can get a printout from the internet and whack it in with your dodgy exes claim.

So, my master plan for the Olympic Summer is this: during the period when public transport is expected to he disrupted by Games crowds (which seems to start a month before the opening ceremony and finish two weeks after the paralympics), between seven and nine in the morning, and five and seven in the afternoon, you won’t be able to enter an Underground station except by using an Oyster card that has at least 100 journeys in the previous six months. That averages to just under four a week, which would easily cover London’s workforce, and make sure that most people can still get to work without much trouble.

Of course my plan isn’t perfect – it does nothing to help anyone who starts and finishes work outside the normal rush hour times, nor does it help anyone who hasn’t been working in London for very long. But it’s a start, and it’s a lot better than what we have now.


May 27th, 2012

No sooner do I produce a blog about why I didn’t vote on BGT, than I’m now whacking one out about voting on Eurovision.

For my readers across t’pond who may not have experienced this annual phenomenon, it’s a song contest where the nations of Europe (and nowadays the former Soviet Union states, plus a few hangers-on) compete to produce the tackiest song: the “top” 26, as voted for in an excruciating series of semi-finals, get to occupy four and a half hours of prime time television across the continent, and then all nations (including those that didn’t make it to the final) take part in an arcane voting process where the more political nations vote for their friends and a few vote for what they thought was the best song. Although this year had an interesting twist – the national broadcaster of the winning nation has to pay to host next year’s spectacular, so in the current austere times there were a few nations doing their best NOT to win.

Anyway, this year’s feast of tat included Jedward singing for Ireland, Englebert Humperdinck for the United Kingdom, camp acts from a dozen nations (nothing wrong with camp, it’s a Eurovision standard), and some singing grannies from Russia who sang “Everybody dance, it’s a party for everyone” while baking buns on stage, and who, if they won, were going to give the prize money to save their church.

The maddest dance act of the night (and really the only dance act that lived up to the Eurovision norm) came from Moldova, and the campest was a Village People-esque group of Turkish sailors in capes.

Anyway, we couldn’t decide who to vote for, so as there were three of us – and it was only fifteen pees a go – we had three votes, one each for the grannies – because we thought they were fun; Moldova – because we wanted to see that dance act one more time, and Turkey – for more or less the same reason. In the end it didn’t make much difference, but it was exciting for a while!

And for no better reason than I can, here are those Moldovans…

The Grannies (not sure why, but the audio on this clip makes them sound a lot worse than they did on the night)…

And the Turks.

Dog Blog

May 15th, 2012

Unless you’ve been living down a hole in the ground – or restricting yourself to quality TV and ignoring all news sources – you must have noticed by now that Britain’s Got Talent (except for grammar, it would seem) has been won by a performing dog.

I’ve nothing against performing pooches as such – they offer better entertainment than impressionists or televised snooker, although only just – but Saturday night’s final of the series had at least three acts that would’ve been more worthy winners. In fact, only the uncoordinated gyrations of dance troupe NuSkool deserved the title less.

The unexpected result of Pudsey Pooch’s victory over acts that were clearly more talented and more entertaining is that I feel a bit guilty: I’ve never voted in BGT or any of its clones, but I have an uncomfortable feeling that Welsh choir Only Boys Aloud and opera singers Jonathan and Charlotte would have had a huge following among people just like me, who sat through the final just to see the two “class acts”, but would never have considered swelling Simon Cowell’s bank account by phoning in to vote. And in just the same way that sensible voters staying away led to the BNP getting seats in Europe, so our inaction has led to the two best acts to come out of the whole history of BGT taking second and third places to a dancing dog.

In a comment on someone else’s Facebook post on Sunday morning I said “The really scary thing is that the same people who vote on BGT are allowed to vote in elections”, but I really think the guilty ones here aren’t the BGT voters, it’s those of us who didn’t vote. And there’s a moral there for future political elections.