Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nobody panic, Everybody panic

A week ago we were all going about our business, minding our own business, worrying about the economy. Nobody had heard of swine flu. Then suddenly we are expected to worry about it.

I was sceptical, put it down to another round of scaremongering that would amount to nothing much. Frankly I was too busy to be worried. I had other things on my mind (getting some shoes reheeled, finding a savings account with a decent rate of interest, that sort of thing).

Then tonight I read the story in the free newspapers that experts are warning to be prepared for 94,000 people in London to die. That is large number, but more than that it is a precise number. How do they know it will be 94,000, not 93,000 or 95,000? And apparently my borough will be the worst affected. Again, how do they know? Do they already have the names and addresses of the unfortunate ones? What makes this borough more susceptible to it? Should I consider moving?

Best case scenario, the best we can hope for is 7000 deaths. 7000 deaths doesn't seem like something you would hope for.

Is it time to panic?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

You Look Just Like...

A conversation with my mother revealed that in her youth, someone said she looked like Gina Lollobrigida. Which set me thinking about how I have been told I look like.

I have been compared to the following people:

The Corrs (exact Corr not specified)
Happy with that so long as its not the male one.

Danni Minogue (circa Home and Away)
Didn't mind this. (It is very hard to find a photo of her pre-whatever it is she has had done to herself in recent years)

Katie Corkhill from Brookside
Less pleased with this one.

Sophie Ellis Bextor
Confused by this one.

A Gelfling from The Dark Crystal
This was meant as an insult I think.

Dec from Ant and Dec
The smaller one if you don't know - there are no photos of him on his own! Perhaps not as insulted by this as I should be. My friend who fancied him and had a photo of him next to her bed was more disturbed by it than me.

Rodney Bewes from The Likely Lads
This is the worst. I wouldn't have minded so much if they had said James Bolam, at least he was the cool one.

Suffice to say I don't think I look like any of them.
Who have you been told you look like?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The St George's Day Question

Part of me thinks it is a shame that we can't celebrate our national saint's day and that patriotism is associated with racism. But then I see people actually celebrating being English, I think that St George's Day is probably best ignored.

Once more the pub next door to work was flying the flag of Englishness. The bunting was being hung when I arrived this morning, and predictably at lunchtime, the band followed, subjecting us to an afternoon of songs that haven't been popular since the 1940s. A quaint, and mostly harmless notion of Englishness, although I got the impression that they were mourning the loss of the colonies and still celebrating defeating the Germans.

But this was better than what followed.

Late afternoon, the Enger-Land crowds turned up, with the Vera Lynn songs replaced by inane chants of "Enger-Land" and "I'm England til I die". In my five minute walk from the office, I was three times accosted by men drapped in St George's Crosses, starting with the innocous "Allo Treacle", progressing to the offer of "would you like to be wrapped in this flag with me, darling".

If this is what it means to be English, next time I'm accused of being Norwegian, Irish or Polish (all of which have happened), I won't contradict it.

I then passed a woman, clearly English from her accent, who looking at all of the people in flags, said to her friend, "There must be a football match on", obviously unaware that it was an important national day. There is lies the problem. There needs to be a way of celebrating St George's day for the rest of us majority who fall outside of the nostalgic and moronic.


Once more I am attempting to broaden my exercise regime. Once more I'm remembering why I usually just swim.

Yesterday was the turn of "Bums, Tums & Thighs". I expected the class to be full of ladies with huge behinds, beer bellies and thunderous thighs, but it wasn’t. The rest of the class were all of dancer-like build, probably having glided over from the Royal Opera House. But I suppose that shows that regular attendance might produce results.

The class was a harsh reminder of how inflexible and uncoordinated I am. At no point was it fun.

I began to take personally the teacher’s comments about keeping a distance between our chins and chests (I am paranoid about my weak chin). Uncharitable thoughts about “proper academic subjects” crossed my mind when she mentioned her university for physical education.

When the time was nearly up and she asked the class if we wanted to do the relaxation stretches or one more exercise, the rest of the class responded that they wanted to do TWO more exercises. If I hadn’t been about to collapse with exhaustion at this point, I might have fainted in surprise.

Today I ache everywhere, but particularly in those three mentioned areas.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

City of Angels (and Roads)

It made a change to go somewhere that we didn't fall in love with and want to live. Most of the other places we've been in recent years (Cornwall, west coast of Scotland, New Forest, San Francisco, even Madeira) have looked like great places to live and we've started to look at property prices and job opportunities with vague ideas of how plausible it would be to move there. That didn't happen with Los Angeles.

I was glad I went and I enjoyed my time there, but for once I didn't wish I lived there rather than London.

My abiding impression of LA is of roads, lots of big roads. As a non-driver a place that is so reliant having a car was always going to have its work cut out to win me over, but I thought it would have something more to it. There didn't seem to be a real heart to the place, rather lots of districts with their own character, connected by big roads.

Hollywood Boulevard reached surreal levels of tackiness, but there wasn't really much there unless you wanted your photograph taken with a Marilyn look-abit-alike or one of the three spidermen.

Sunset Strip with its infamous bars was a bit grittier (lots of hair and tattoos), but it didn't live up to its mythical status. Any last thoughts about River Phoenix's death being a rock n roll way to go were dispelled by the reality of the Viper Rooms being a dive at the side of a big road (if the drugs hadn't finished him off then the traffic probably would have).

I attempted to recreate "In Search of a Midnight Kiss" by walking around the downtown area looking at the disused and unloved theatres. The older parts of downtown had some beautiful buildings, but they were disgracefully neglected and now home to assorted shops selling assorted tat. The newer parts were impressive, I quite liked the Blade Runner skyline and the Walt Disney Concert Hall is stunning. But there wasn't really much there (plenty of roads though).

I still want to move to San Francisco though.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Some thoughts on Flying

I actually quite like flying. I find the take-off and landing exciting. It is the in-between parts that I find difficult.

People will go to sleep in airports with an abandon that you don't see anywhere else. They will lie down on the floor, in the middle of the day, fully clothed, with their belongings left unattended and sleep. It doesn't happen anywhere else.

Airline food is invariably awful, but I love the ritual of it. The little trays, with the plastic cutlery, the antipation of opening up the dishes. It is a feast in miniature with more courses than I'd normally have (the main, the salad, the dessert, the cheese) - although in small and often inedible. The worst I had was a risotto served with side order of rice salad and on the outward flight the woman next to me had a pasta dish accompanied by a pasta salad.

Air hostesses are nowhere near as glamorous as they were in the Sixties.