Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yo Ho Ho and a Tanker of Oil

Despite the warning by the expert on the radio that these weren't glamorous pirates, but thugs with knives, I've still been fascinated by the pirates who've captured an oil tanker. I know they aren't romantic swashbuckling dandies but still I'm in awe of the crime - its just so audacious. I can't really comprehend how they managed to take over a ship the size of three football pitches. Yes, I realise they are ruthless criminals, but still the logistics of it are rather impressive.

There was quite a lot of talk in admiration of the pirates in my office this week, with a few people suggesting that we were in the wrong game and that they might move from the theatre world into the more lucrative field of piracy. These plans stalled however when it turned out that one of the most enthusiastic would-be pirates suffers from sea sickness so was thinking of a dryland based co-ordinating role.

I'm wondering whether all of this talk of pirates might mean better business for the stage production of "Treasure Island" that is currently on in the West End. I hope not. I saw it last week and it was possibly the worst show I've seen in my life (worse even than the production of the Hobbit with a 3 man cast and crew that I saw on my 10th birthday). There was nothing redeeming about this production at all. Even Long John Silver's wooden leg was rubbish. It is a show that deserves to sink without a trace and I hope its newfound topicality won't prolong its run.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saturation Point

Something strange has happened. I don’t want anything for Christmas.

Various relatives have been asking what I would like for Christmas and I can’t think of anything. At a push, I can probably think of a couple of DVDs that I wouldn’t mind, but nothing I’m really that bothered about. And even stranger, I don’t want any more clothes.

I feel as if I have enough of everything already.

Obviously a bigger house, a top range camera, a round-the-world trip and a speed boat (have I ever mentioned that I’m great at driving speed boats? I am) would be welcome, but in the realm of small material things, I have enough.

There is one exception. Books. I could never have too many books. But part of the joy of books for me is the thrill of hunting them down, on ReadItSwapIt, at the library or browsing in bookshops, particularly the ones on Charing Cross Road. Giving someone a list of books on Amazon to buy for me would take away part of the pleasure.

The OH and I have never really gone in for ostentatious gifts and have never gone into debt over Christmas (or anything other than the mortgage) but this year he feels pretty much the same as I do, that it is pointless spending for the sake of it, so we are cutting back. It isn’t anything to do with the credit crunch, but we’ve reached saturation point.

As for everyone else, I’m thinking that I might be happier with another year’s sponsorship of a dog, even if the quarterly magazine often reduces me to tears.

I remember as a child finding it hard to understand that my parents didn't really want anything for Christmas (we always ignored this and bought them something), but now I can understand it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Numbers speak for themselves

The nagging thought that people in this country have their priorities wrong seemed to be confirmed by two stories in the newspaper yesterday.

Very different stories, but both involving the outraged public using online petitions to voice their concerns.

The story of baby P, perhaps the most harrowing disturbing story to hit the news in a long time. Something went terribly wrong with the system so social services failed to step in to prevent the awful abuse that led to the child's death.

5,000 people have signed a petition demanding an inquiry into how this happened.

The story of X Factor Contestant Laura, perhaps the most inane story to hit the news in a long time (or since something similar happened). Something went terribly wrong with the system so the wrong person was kicked off the television "talent" show.

50,000 people have signed a petition demanding an inquiry into how this happened.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Loop

I went to a concert last week with Girl A. At the concert we meet up with another friend of mine Girl B and Boy X. Girl A and Girl B know each other through me and I know Boy X through Girl B. Girl A and Boy X had not met before.

However during the course of the evening, Girl A and Boy X took a liking to each other. Girl B (who is happily married to someone else) didn’t seem to too pleased about this and decided to leave, to “get Boy X away from Girl A.

This week, I receive an email from Boy X asking if it would be ok for him to ask Girl A out for a drink. He had cc-ed the email to Girl B. I asked Girl A and she was pleased so I passed her email address on to him.

A few hours later, I had an email from Girl A demanding to know if I’d passed on her details because he hadn’t been in touch. I told her to be patient. Then Girl B emailed to ask if I knew whether they were going out yet. I told her that I had passed on the email address and that was all. She then replied saying “Keep me in the loop”.

This morning, there was an email from Boy X thanking me for sorting things out and then another from Girl A asking if Boy X knows that she has been married. I don’t know what he knows about her. I've not said anything other than pass on her email.

I’m not going to keep Girl B in the loop. I don’t want to be in the loop myself. If they go out and like each other, that’s great. But otherwise I don't want to be kept informed. Its getting awkward already.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Three clever words I've heard this week that I understand, but have never used myself
  • Atrophy
  • Synergy
  • Paradigm

A newly invented word I came across for the first time

  • webinar (a seminar that takes place online)

The Race to the White House

If I was American I would probably vote Democrat because I tend to be left-leaning (in politics, not posture). So I am pleased that Obama won, but not a jubilant as everyone else seems to be. The right man may have won (only time will tell) but I don’t think he won for the right reasons.

Lots has been written and said about how historic it is that a black person has won, I don’t think quite as much progress has been made as people think. It is great that millions of white people weren’t deterred by the colour of his skin, but there is a flipside. An unprecedented turnout of black voters who felt they had someone they could now vote (from comments on the news and on the internet) suggests for many race was the only issue. If they won’t vote for white candidates, have things really changed that much? Of course white people don’t have the terrible history of being slaves or more recent segregation, but it is still racism if a black person won’t vote for someone because of their skin colour.

The fact is that Obama has more in common with Bush and other white politicians than he has with the majority of the people who voted for him. I find it worrying that people will only vote for someone who they perceived themselves to have something in common with, rather than who will do the best for them (this isn't necessarily going to be the same). I don't need a white working class woman from the north east to stand for election to consider voting.

Furthermore, from what I’ve seen of him, I quite liked John McCain but think he received some bad advice along the way in his campaign. He displayed a great amount of dignity in defeat which I think was a truer reflection of the man. He mainly suffered from the fact that people wanted change (and by change, I don’t mean that they didn’t want a white person in charge). He is from the same party as the current president and the economy is in a state so no matter who stood on either side, I think “the other party” would have won. The same is true here – the Conservatives will win the next election, not because of the charisma of David Cameron (I’ve seen bits of cardboard with more charisma), but because they aren’t Labour.

So, yesterday was a historic day, but I think some perspective is needed.