Archive for September, 2011

Ten Things (courtesy Sally-J)

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Comment on this post and I’ll give you a letter which you can use for your own “Ten Things I Like”, to post in your blog or on your Facebook page. I got this one from the excellent Sally-J, who allocated me the letter P.

Ten Things Beginning With “P” That I Like

  1. Purple Fred (Whom I Love Very Much) – ’nuff said!
  2. Pratchett – the books of Terry, that is. Particularly Discworld, but all the others too.
  3. Pubs – especially ones that serve Real Ale, properly kept and served by someone who knows how to do it. If the pub does decent food too, that’s a bonus.
  4. Plays – going to the theatre with PF, or to see something she’s in, or involved with. I hardly went to the theatre at all before we were together, so it’s a real eye-opener!
  5. Planning – my Favourite Purple Person (see above) teases me about how much time I spend planning things. But for me, planning a holiday, day out or whatever, is part of the process of looking forward to it!
  6. Puzzles – crosswords, Sudoku and its variants, Scrabble-grams, quizzes, anything really! I pick up an Evening Standard most days, and rarely look at anything other than the puzzle page.
  7. Pork sandwiches – you know the sort of thing, one of those huge bread rolls with a slice of roast pork, sage and onion stuffing, crunchy crackling and a dollop of apple sauce. Apart from the calories and the cholesterol, what’s not to like? And while I’m at it, other pork products too…pork pies (old fashioned ones with jelly), pork sausages and of course, bacon sarnies.

    And on the subject of food…

  8. Puddings – mmm, love that sugary goodness! Ice cream for me, please.
  9. Pussy Cats – they’re cute and friendly (normally), they keep your feet warm in bed and they never let you develop delusions of adequacy. Purr.
  10. Passport – well, not the passport as such, but since PF(WILVM) introduced me to the idea of proper foreign holidays I’ve rather grown to like the concept. Pass the Factor 50

Who?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

If a Star Trek fan is a “Trekkie”, what’s a Doctor Who fan?

The reason I ask is that last weekend, Purple Fred (whom I love very much), MiniFred and I went to the Doctor Who Experience, at Olympia. We went by train, which was a pretty good deal – as a holder of a South West Trains annual season ticket I not only travel free, but I get a certain number of free off-peak tickets for people travelling with me. So the whole day’s travel cost us a fiver for parking at the station, and two and a half returns from Clapham Junction to Olympia, which not being operated by South West Trains isn’t covered by the free offer.

PF(WILVM) had a more expen$ive day as she bought the admission tickets. We tried to redress the balance by me buying lunch in the Olympia cafe, drinks on the trains, and our evening meal, but I still came in with the slightly cheaper day!

So, the experience itself…it was pretty darned good, they seem to have realised that in every group there’s going to be one person who’s not as dedicated a Who-ist as the others, and designed it to be interesting for them as well. There was techie stuff, costumes, designs and props and scenery from the early series of the canon, and of course a display of daleks through the ages. Most fascinating to me was the fact that the Doctor Who programme team includes a choreographer whose role is to study the various monsters – who made them, from what, for what purpose etc – and create a walk for each monster that fits. There’s even a video presentation where you can learn to walk like a cyberman or a scarecrow. Presumably walking like a dalek would be too difficult, unless you come with wheels.

Sepcial mention, however, must go to the bloke in the queue for the walk-through just in front of us. A man in his thirties and there on his own, so obviously a Who-ist, so his Doctor Who T-shirt and satchel were within the realms of “normal”. It was when he started fiddling with his sonic screwdriver (and no, that’s not a euphemism) that we realised we were in the presence of an obsessive.

Another Olympic Whinge

Monday, September 19th, 2011

No, not a whinge of Olympic proportions…just a whinge about the organisation of the London 2012 Games.

Today’s Evening Standard carries two stories about the Olympics: In the first, 93 of the firms who were forced to move premises to make way for the new stadium have yet to receive their promised compensation, four years after their original sites were compulsarily purchased – although that may not be the best term given that purchases – even compulsory ones – normally involve the transfer of an agreed amount of cash. In this case, £78 million is still owed to claimants.

The second story shows that, having stiffed over the businesses of the Stratford area, Games organisers are turning their attention to those of Central London, and in particular those in the Bloomsbury area. For five weeks next Summer, Russell Square and the surrounding streets will be closed to traffic, becoming the world’s biggest coach station. Seventy coaches an hour will run, transporting journalists from hotels in the area to the Games locations. And of course to ensure the scribblers aren’t delayed, Southampton Road, from Holborn to Euston, will form part of the “Official vehicles only” games lanes.

So, businesses all around Bloomsbury will lose vast amounts of trade because no-one other than journalists will be allowed through – and the journos will only be passing through, not stopping for the shops. A main commuter route from Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross stations into the centre of the City will be closed to all traffic, forcing everything – I’m guessing – to use Grays Inn Road or Tottenham Court Road, both of which are bad enough in the rush hour as it is. And because plenty of bus routes will be unusable, even more people will resort to the already-overcrowded underground.

I have a thought about those Olympics-Traffic-Only lanes…I’ll share it in a future edition.

Unfair Games

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

An advertisement in the Evening Standard asks London businesses, “Are you ready for the games?”, before going on to explain that the London Olympics are less than a year away and that traffic routes throughout the capital will be severely affected by athletes, officials and spectators travelling to the games. Businesses should be building contingency plans against staff being unable to travel to work, deliveries failing to arrive on time or at all, and customers staying away to avoid the crowds.

There’s an argument that the Games will be good for tourism, of course, although the experiences of Beijing and Sydney both suggest that for all the tourists who come to London for the Olympics, an equal number of ‘normal’ tourists will stay away to avoid the crowds and the inflated hotel prices. But London’s businesses and residents – everyone who pays tax of any kind to the London Assembly – have already made a huge financial contribution to the Games, even though many will get no interest or business advantage from them. Drivers and public transport users have suffered two years of disruption while networks are “upgraded” in a probably-vain attempt to ensure that tubes and busses run properly for a couple of months next Summer, before the whole creaking shambles falls over again.

What I’m leading up to is the question, why aren’t the powers that be in London protecting businesses and residents – and commuters – from the consequences of the Games, rather than bending over backwards to accommodate the sports and advising businesses to tell their staff to stay at home (which is the advice that the organisation I work for has received)? These taxpayers are London’s employers, not the travelling circus of the IOC.

Ding Dong the Bells are Going to Chime

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Needless to say the key event since I last blogged has been the wedding of Rockin’ Rob and Sally-J. A cracking day was had by all, the weather was kind, and every member of the party managed to look supremely dapper.

The wedding party

Purple Fred (whom I love very much) and I had an even better weekend, as not only did we enjoy the wedding, but Jenny and Chris, down for the festivity, stayed with us, so we had good chums in the house all weekend. AND I had an excuse to whip up a mega fried brekkie on Sunday morning.

And to top it all off, we made some fabby new chums 1, including Rob’s brother and sister-in-law. So a lovely time was had by all!

My favourite jokes from the speeches:
Sarah’s Dad: “Sarah’s Mum and I started married life with nothing…and I’ve still got most of mine”
Anthony (best man) “Rob is leaving today with a wife who’s clever, witty, beautiful and organised. Sarah is leaving with a lovely new dress and a bouquet of flowers!”

1 Thanks to a misbehaving spellcheck, that nearly said “flabby new chums”