Thursday, November 29, 2007

Public Transport Moans

I’m limiting myself to three for today.

Move Down Inside the Carriage
This announcement is frequently heard on rush hour tubes and in the main, the passengers obey. But without this reminder on other forms of transport, left to their own device, the public will cluster around the entrance way. I’ve witnessed several buses go past stops of people because the lower deck by the driver is full but the whole upstairs is empty. And its not just old folk who can’t manage the stairs either. Then this morning, people were left on the platform because they couldn’t’ get on the train but the aisles and even a few seats were empty, but the entrance way was blocked. Which brings me onto my next moan…

Two tickets please - one for me and one for my bag
Its rush hour, people are standing in the aisles if they’ve even managed to get on the train at all, but there are always people who are taking up a seat with their belongings. And the worst offenders are white upper middle class women who tut, glare and generally put up quite some resistance to letting fellow passengers sit down. On the tube or bus with bulky luggage, it is possibly understandable, but on a train with an overhead luggage rack, is there any real excuse? Unless of course, they are buying a separate ticket for their bag, in which case it is entitled to a seat.

A Good Service is Operating
My tube journey on a certain route to work should take 30 minutes, so how come for the last two weeks, every time I’ve gone that way, it has taken 50 minutes. And still they claim this is a good service. The times when they admit that they are problems on the line, is when it takes 90 minutes. But apparently they are meeting their targets of reliability. Perhaps I’m just very unlucky and manage to pick the two tubes running with problems each day and the other hundred or so run exactly on time?


I read in the newspaper yesterday about the engagement ring the footballer Joe Cole bought for his fiancee. It cost £50k.

My first thought was that was an obscene amount of money to spend on a ring.

My second thought was that he was a miser.

The reason? The article mentioned that his weekly wage is £80k. Traditionally, a man should spend the equal to a month's salary on the ring. I don't know if this is before or after tax and NI contributions as the OH has asked me before, but either way Mr Cole's spending falls well below that amount.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Don't Fancy Yours Much

I caught a bit of that Ewan McGregor travelling on his motorbike programme last night and I was reminded that the only time I’ve ever found him attractive is in Trainspotting. This is bizarre, perhaps worrying, but by no means an isolated incident as my taste in crushes has always been somewhat off kilter. They have fallen into three main categories:

The Dodgy Mancunian
I could say it is a musical thing, growing up on a diet of The Smiths, The Stone Roses and Joy Division, but that wouldn’t be strictly honest. Because as much as I have admired after Ian Brown and Johnny Marr, the first man from the north west I desired was Terry Duckworth, the errant son of Coronation Street stalwarts Jack and Vera Duckworth. Terry was always a wrong ‘un but for some reason I found him rather attractive. The passage of time has made me realise that I was clearly wrong.

The next manifestation was Shaun Ryder of the Happy Mondays, early days Happy Mondays I must point out when he had floppy hair, an arrogant swagger and the drug use hadn’t quite become abuse. Little did I know that he was going to evolve into a human slug like creature and I would bear the shame of once having fancies him on top of pity for him that it all went so wrong.

The Surly Scot
My love of Primal Scream and their frontman Bobby Gillespie has been well documented here, I’ve previously confessed to a liking for Ian Rankin but there lurks a dark secret. I really fancy Duncan Bannatyne, the dour, sour Scottish businessman from Dragon’s Den. There’s not much more to say about this really – I’m ashamed and embarrassed but there it is out in the open.

The Older Man
I have never ever been out with anyone older than me. Every partner has been around my age but usually a matter of weeks younger than me. And yet in the world of dream men, there have been quite a few of advanced years. As a child, I loved Gregory Peck which is understandable in that in his prime he was a fine figure of a man, but I also loved him as he was at the time, snow white haired. Then there is Anthony Hopkins. Again nothing wrong with him but at the height of my Anthony Hopkins phase, I was about 19, my friends all like Brad Pitt and the two of them were starring together in Legends of the Fall. I had to decline an invitation to see it as I was embarrassed that I’d be swooning over the wrong one.

However, the worst case of this love is my affection for the sadly deceased Paul Eddington. I loved him first in Yes Prime Minister and then in retrospect in The Good Life. IMDB describes him as a ‘tall debonair actor’ but it was his bumbling visible awkwardness that I loved. In real life he was unassuming and wanted his epitaph to be ‘He did very little harm’. I like that and I still like him, but now he’s gone I have to make do with Geoffrey Palmer.

All of this brings me onto the latest improbable crush. I’m still watching Prison Break despite the fact it is patently ridiculous and the reason for this is not the so-called star Wentworth Miller who is undoubtedly a very attractive being but now leaves me cold. My reason for viewing is Alexander Mahone (William Fitchner). He was the best thing in the second series, by virtue of being the best actor in it by a mile but in the third series, he’s toned, tanned and constantly shivering and sweating, a man on the brink of nervous collapse but he’s the one for me.

So now I’ve humiliated myself (believe me, I'm blushing here!), share your own guilty desires, please.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Waiting Room

My mum rang night to tell me that my auntie had a stroke yesterday. At that point they couldn’t tell how severe it had been but should know today, so I’m waiting to hear back. I feel rather numb but am trying not to think too much until I know what is happening. But one thing has stuck in my mind.

Last year my auntie was seriously ill with bowel related problems and caught both types of hospital superbug during her stay. She has never made a full recovery and has been feeling very sick again in the past couple of weeks. On visiting her doctor last week, he commented ‘Well, you’ve certainly had your money’s worth out of the NHS’.

My auntie has lived and worked here all of her life, contributing to the system. She has never been ill before last year and on entering the hospital to receive the treatment that she had been paying for all her working life, she caught not one, but two killer infections. Not what I would call ‘getting your money’s worth’.

I was angry enough about this when my mum told me that last week, but now I’m livid at the thought that this is what passes for healthcare – the word ‘care’ is sadly lacking.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Par for the Course

I’m pretty busy at the moment with various things, one of which is my photography course.

The class started off as eight of us, but last week we were down to five. It may have been the torrential rain but at least one person hasn’t been since the first week, so I suspect our numbers are dwindling, which is always the way with these courses.

The other stereotype that the class is conforming to as that there is one person who talks too much. Every course I’ve ever done has had one of these, someone who talks lots, but says little of substance. The current culprit is a retired doctor, who is writing a book on medical history and is mainly interested in photographing slides. He is obsessed with the word ‘cataloguing’ and at least once per session will say it loudly.

I am enjoying the course but strangely I’ve been struck by an inability to taking photographs since it started. I am learning how my camera works properly and am aiming to move off using the automatic setting. At the moment I’m still getting to grips with the controls so it takes time to fiddle about with it to set it up. The other problem is that it gets dark so early so I’m reliant on practising at lunchtime. The difficulty with this is that I’m in central London which may have a wealth of interesting things to photograph but I can’t see them for the swarms of people and its hard to find a quiet space to get my settings right. Yesterday I was experimenting with various shots when I was spotted by some tourists who asked me to take pictures of them with their cameras. I was happy to help out but it seems to be an occupational hazard if you stand still for too long.

So tonight I’m hoping to do some still life photographs in the house and some night time shots in the garden to practice, so hopefully I’ll get a better understanding of the camera and be more confident in my lunchtime session tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Money for Old Rope

The Spice Girls reunion tour is not for me. I don’t like them, I never have done, they’ve always had more money than talent. But I know that plenty of people want to see them and who am I to judge? I’m in no position to talk as I dutifully turn up to see The Wonder Stuff everytime they need the money from a tour and they aren’t that much more credible.

But then I read in the paper that it is likely that The Spice Girls will just mime on their tour. Is it just me who finds this shocking? What exactly are people paying for here? To see a group of thirtysomethings dance around a bit? I could go to a bar in any town centre on a Saturday night and see that for free.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


We are about to decorate our hallway. For a small London flat, we have a considerable corridor so it is not a small project. And the current colour scheme really won’t do – lilac and cream. I detest lilac at the best of times (why is it so popular with grey pale-faced mother-of-the-brides?) but really even if I loved it, it isn’t a hall colour.

I want something pretty neutral, two complementary tones, not too dark on account of its narrowness, but warming. I thought it was going to be easy. I was wrong. I’ve tried about ten different shades and none of them will do. They are too pink, too peach or just too yuck. My hall now resembles a teenagers year old experimenting with the foundations on her first trip to a makeup counter.

I didn’t think there would be so much choice. Simply Fawn, Summer Stone, Silk Gown, Natural Calico, Natural Hessian, Toasted Almond, Whiff of Nutmeg, Touch of Truffle, Dash of Coffee, Hoping for Latte, By George Its Beige. (I may have made up some of these). I even dreamt about looking for the right shade last night, in an anxious dream where I was juggling decorating with going on tour with Led Zeppelin, which was also causing me worry since I don’t play guitar.

I think this morning though I may have isolated the right tone. It’s a calm gold but towards the bluer end of the spectrum, as I informed the OH this morning who looked bemused. I’m off to B&Q again tonight and if I don’t find the right shade this time, I may have to repaint the whole lot lilac.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How was your journey?

I’ve just returned from an all too brief trip to my family in the north. As ever upon arriving, everyone asks me how my journey was or if I had a good journey. I realise this is a rhetorical question. I’m there, nobody really wants to know the station by station account of how I got there. But this time, I didn’t just nod and say fine. This time I told people about my journey and I’m fairly sure no one will ask again.

I made it to the train with only about a minute to spare, took my seat and started reading my book. After about 20 minutes we arrived at Stevenage, where the train stood for about 15 minutes. Then came the announcement. ‘This is an emergency. Please could all passengers get off the train as quickly as possible and head towards the north end of the platform’.

Everyone assumed it was a bomb scare (‘you would in the present climate, won’t you’ said everyone I told). People made for the exits. The woman next to me looked close to tears. I eventually got off (there was no chivalry about letting women and children off first). But then I overheard some staff saying it was a small fire in buffet carriage. A team of firemen arrived (what is the collective noun for firemen? A brigade?) and put out the fire while we all stood on the freezing platform.

Another announcement to tell us what was happening as many people still thought it may have been a terrorist threat and the news that they needed to call an engineer before anyone could get back on the train. Then another announcement to say that they had arranged for the train just leaving London to make an additional stop to pick us all up. So a full trains worth of people had to cram onto an already busy train. It was chaos and due to the time spent on the platform I never warmed back up.

So that was how my journey was.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


What has happened to the Pret A Manager Egg and Tomato on Rye sandwich? I went to buy one for my lunch and they have gone. I know I hadn't bought one in a while as I'd been trying to cut back on what I spend on lunch but really other people must have been buying them too so there was no need to stop doing them.

Instead I had a Falafel and Spinach sandwich which must be the replacement as it announced itself as new. It wasn't very nice - falafel between sliced bread is somehow wrong.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Yule Fool

It might be because the weather has turned suddenly cold. It might be because my sister has been demanding to know what I want. It may be the bombardment of Christmas gifts emails in my Inbox. It might be because I work near Covent Garden, a quintessentially Christmassy place. Whatever the reason, I’m feeling quite Christmassy already which is unusual for me.

So I was perusing the Christmas section of the John Lewis website, contemplating various decorations and colour schemes for our first Christmas in our new place, when I spotted this.

Apparently it is an idea imported from USA. The idea is that it saves space apparently, although my solution would be to just by a smaller tree. I’m sure it has been engineered to be safe, but really I wouldn’t trust it not to fall down. Besides which it looks hideous.

Although as a practical joke, you could swap the proper tree for this one in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve and stick all the presents on the ceiling. That would certainly liven things up on Christmas morning!

Funny Bone

Going to see live comedy is not something I do very often. The reasons for this are:

  1. I live in fear of audience participation and being bullied by the comedian
  2. There is nothing worse than seeing an unfunny comedian die on stage
  3. I’d usually rather go the cinema/theatre/concert

It is not because I have no sense of humour. My own mother accused me of this once a few years ago when I wasn’t looking forward to some improv thing, but that is not true – I just don’t share my family’s sense of humour which shamefully seems to amount to Jim Davidson and Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown (shudders at the thought and hopes that neither of these have new DVDs out this year in case I have to endure them at Christmas).

But last night we went to see Frankie Boyle do his stand-up, having enjoyed his contribution to Mock The Week. He did question and tease members of the audience more than I’d expected so that worry hung over me throughout the performance. And I’d heard him use some of the jokes before on the television, but still it was a good show and I laughed a lot.

Unlike some members of the audience. Three people walked out after about 10 minutes. Another couple, who he had bantered with, then sat there stony-faced for the rest of the show. Admittedly, his style can be quite offensive, not in a rude crude way, but he isn’t the most politically correct and I can understand that he wouldn’t be to many people’s taste, but why go? The show was sold out, so I don’t understand how people ended up there who didn’t know what it was going to be like.

My favourite joke involved a tramp, LCD and a unicorn. He ended the show with a sweet story about his daughter asking him what his favourite thing in the whole world was, to which he answered ‘You are, of course’ and she replied ‘For me, it would have to be sausages’.

The rest of his jokes weren’t really suitable for reprinting here in case all of my readers pick up their coats and head for the exits.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ohhhh, Ahhh, Fireworks

Last night we went to our local firework display, which had a James Bond 007 theme. Luckily we clarified what this meant before going and established that this theme was limited to the music accompanying the fireworks. Imagine the shame if the OH had gone in a tux, Matini in hand and me in a white bikini or sprayed gold!

Instead we wrapped up warm, and enjoyed the mulled wine and barbecue food before the display began in style with Henry Mancini's Bond signature tune before going through the hits of 'Goldfinger', 'View to a Kill', 'The Living Daylights', 'License to Kill' and culminating in 'Live and Let Die'. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the music, but that may have been because the pre-display music included much detested Queen so after them everything else sounded great - even possibly 2Unlimited!

The fireworks were good although they only 20 minutes. Apparently this is standard but as a child, I'm sure it felt like longer although that may have been down to the northern cold as much as being young. I took some photographs but otherwise joined in with the obligatory'Ooohhh' and 'Ahhh' that the crowd have to make. Someone behind us varied things a bit by repeatedly exlaiming 'F*** look at that one' which wasn't altogether appropriate in front of children and disproportionate to the level of excitement the fireworks warranted.

We didn't hang around for the bonfire afterward but went home. Inside we could hear various amateur fireworks being set off and the noises were quite alarming - no wonder cats and dogs hate this time of year.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Gambler

Gambling seems to be everywhere these days. One of our friends quits his high-paid corporate job to play poker. The England Rugby team adopt Kenny Roger's song 'The Gambler' as their World Cup anthem. Then last night I watch the film 13 (Tzameti) which is also about gambling.

13 (Tzameti) was recommended to me some months ago by my cultural cohort over at Melanethos and I bought it immediately, but shamefully only got round to watching it last night. It was really very good - after a bit of a slow start, it became gripping, creating the tension the OH compared with a penalty shoot-out.

It involves a sort of gambling - I won't give away what but will use apt cliche of saying 'the stake were high'. It was far more tense than the card game scenes in 'Lock Stock...' and 'Rounders' which are the two gambling related films that immediately sprung to mind for comparison.

My stomach was in knots - I'm not good with tension, from gambling or penalties.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Catch Up

I haven’t felt particularly inspired to write anything much recently. Things are pretty much in neutral at the moment. But to stop the tumbleweed blowing through the blog, I thought I’d better write something, anything today.

So since I last posted, I’ve done the following things:

  • Been out for drinks with three separate groups of friends
  • Bought a pair of shoes called Sven!
  • Started my photography course, but not taken a single picture (we are going at a slow pace!)
  • Caught and almost got rid of a cold
  • Been to one screening at the London Film Festival
  • Dined in the flagship Carluccio’s for the first, but hopefully not last time
  • Starting half-heartedly contemplating Christmas and NYE