Saturday, March 31, 2007

Stick It Up Your Jumper

Today was the last ballet lesson of term. Which is great because I could sit in and watch. Anyway, you can say I am biased if you want but I think "A" is coming on very well. What we weren't allowed to see though was the dance they are learning for the show next term. The teacher did tell us what they were going to be (and I have to admit here that I already knew as "A" isn't great at keeping secrets). The show is Charlie and the Chocolate factory. "A" is going to be an oompa-loompa which means wearing a grass skirt and playing the marraccas (completely unsure about spelling but really don't feel like checking up). What really amuses me however is that one of "A"s friends is diabetic and she has been chosen to play a sweet! Ironic or what.

Wake Up Call

Once again I am wondering why we got cats. The theory is good but the experience...... This morning Scooby decided it was time for me to get up. This started with him jumping on me but he soon tired of this. Oh yes, he could devise a better game. This involved diving UNDER the duvet and attacking whatever he could find that was part of me. I ended up having to wrap myself in the duvet so there was no part of me exposed. Tonight I might have to sleep in my sleeping bag.

Oh Deary Me

Although British Ariways is not my favourite airline, ranking slightly above Ryanair but still plagued by mediocrity, there is one thing about flying with them that never fails to bring a smile to my face. Their in-flight magazine. More specifically the name of it. "High Life". Now "The High Life" was a BBC series broadcast in 1995 and starring Alan Cumming, Forbes Masson, Siobhan Redmond, before Alan Cumming found Bond (or Bond found Alan Cumming). Sadly, despite rumours of more to come, only one series was made. Set at Glasgow airport and following the fortunes of the crew of Air Scotia this was a quirky, and extremely camp, comedy. More than ten years since it was shown I can still be heard to exclaim "oh deary me" when, at times, it really is the only thing that can be said.

Friday, March 30, 2007

World Cup Cricket

England have managed to beat Ireland. I say "managed" because it was a less than convincing performance. All credit to Ireland who did well to get to the Super 8's against the odds, but England should have been able to see them off with ease. Instead Ireland managed to get 7 english wickets and only a resilient innings by Collingwood stopped a complete collapse. Ireland were set 267 to win thanks to the 90 by Colly. That should have been safe, but for moments anyone watching could have been forgiven for doubting. It took 49 overs to get Ireland all out, on form the England bowlers should have done it in 35 at most. It is going to take a lot to turn this around.

Did You Hear The One....

Last night I ate in the bar of the hotel so I could watch the cricket. I experienced a good demonstration of why people shouldn't talk about work when they are drunk. At the table next to me were 4 policemen, not uniformed but drug squad. Ignoring the fact that they were incredibly non-PC with their comments, especially considering one of their number was very quiet and happened to be a coloured woman, the conversation was not one that should have been overheard. A mixture of talking about their informants, how they just wanted to get in there and beat people up, and how they would lie and cheat to cover a colleagues back. The fact that they came from an area I know didn't help. Very interesting evening, but something I would have been better off not hearing.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Through Gritted Teeth and Droopy Eyes

I am rapidly deciding that Brussels and I are not meant for each other. I can never sleep well when I am there. I don't know why, something stops me sleeping. Then the meeting I go to at IFAH is at just the wrong time. The planned end time means that I either have a mad rush to get to the airport in time for a flight, or I have a long wait at the airport for the next flight. As I don't do "mad rushes" very well I invariably end up with the long wait. Made even worse when the flight is then delayed buy a further 75 minutes. By the time I got to Heathrow I was shattered. there was no way I could safely drive home so had to book into a hotel for the night.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


As your finger
Touches me
Brushes my skin
I feel the hunger
Filling me
Washing me
Being me

Almost an accident
That shares so much
A rebirth
Given freely
Received with wonder


You know this jet setting isn't nearly as glamorous as people think. I am in Brussels and bored out of my mind. The kind of shows around here are not the sort I would go to and all the channels on the TV, barr one,are in a foreign language. I can't have a late night (I mean after midnight) because I have to work tomorrow, otherwise I would go and find a club (not one of the local ones). I haven't brought a book because I have to learn my lines and I know if I have a book I will just read it but I have read and reread my lines enough today. When people hear that I travel a lot they always think it sounds fun. I swear "J" thinks I am off having fun. I am not. It is d..n lonely, especially when I know everyone else is together at a sales conference.

Sooooooo bored!

Know Thyself

I thought I knew Brussels. Yes, I know that is an incredibly stupid statement. But I have been coming to Brussels for two years for meetings. Now, the flaw in my theory was that I always stayed in the same hotel. I went for walks around the area and decided Brussels was nice. I have just realised that the hotel I stayed in was positioned in rather a posh area. Tonight I am staying in a different hotel because there is some sort of conference in town. And, for a start, I think that Comfort hotels should be sued for breach of contract. After all, somewhere called "Comfort Inn" should actually be comfortable. The hotel room is a box and there is no restaurant. But let's get past that. So I thought I had better go for a walk and find somewhere to eat. I turned left out of the hotel and, in retrospect, this was the wrong direction. Because I found out that left was the red light district. Hmm, a side of Brussels I have not previously seen.

Bad Dad

Have you noticed that the more "up market" car makers now give you a whole day driving their cars if you might want to buy one. Audi do one. You can spot the cars because they have "Audi Ultimate Driving Experience" emblazoned down the side. Anyway, for Audi this driving experience seems to include what to do if you are in an accident. That is the only reason I can think for two of their cars to be involved in a four car pile up just outside Northampton this morning. Police and everything, you have to hand it to Audi, no expense spared.

However this led to a long traffic jam. On the morning I volunteered to take "A" to school". So we were late. Possibly the first time she has been late. Only by one minute. But enough that I had to sign a book explaining why she was late. I felt like I was back at school myself signing the detention book (not that I ever had to of course, you understand). Naughty daddy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Letter Home

The call
The sorry
We have bad news.
The explosion
No survivors.
A suicide.

A letter
"My love
I'm fine
Lads are great
Don't worry
No risk,
Just fun.
Home soon.
Love to all"

Tear on paper.

Is It?

The download of the week on itunes is Iain Archer. And I am left wondering if this is the Iain Archer I know of. The one I am downloading played for Snow Patrol and Reindeer Section (sorry don't know the latter). The one I know played at Greenbelt. Could they be one and the same? No, can't be, even thought they are both spelt the slightly rarer way (and, co-incidentally the way mine is spelt as well). Interesting though.

But wait. Further research. Never give up on a story. And yes, they are the same. Now how weird is that. I have seen a member of Snow Patrol playing live. Cool.

Costly Comms

I recently had wi-fi fitted to my computer. Absolutely excellent, allows me to work everywhere. Most hotels have a link and for a reasonable amount supply 24 hour access. We have an account with btopenzone so I can use that if needed. Only one thing. I didn't realise that the BT account is charged by the minute. I am so used to not paying for my ADSL connection that it just didn't sink in. Until I saw my recent bill. £233 for one night. I forgot to disconnect before going to sleep so the connection was left on for 17 hours. Whoops

Monday, March 26, 2007

Down Pens And Walk

The kidnapping of Alan Johnston is, like the kidnappng of anyone, terrible. But, I am sorry, journalists going on strike. It isn't exactly nurses or firemen is it? It isn't going to cast fear into the hearts of the community. "What, no 10 o'clock news, Noooooooooo, how could they do it". Journalists chanting "Hell no, we won't write". People in the streets "well now I don't have a newspaper I really think those kidnappers were bad men, they runined my life". Scabs trying to cross the picket line having ink squirted on their clean shirt, notebooks being tossed in buckets of water. Reminiscent of the miners at their worst isn't it.


Snoop Dogg has been banned from coming to Britain. Well, to be honest, I don't really care that he was a ganster, that he was involved with drugs, is currently being investigated for gun crimes. None of that is important. But I heard him say today "We let the Beatles into America, you should let me in". Just for comparing himself with the Beatles he should be banned for life.

Last Orders

All power to them I say. The residents of Bourneville have managed to stop Tesco from selling alcohol. Now I have nothing against alcohol. In fact, truth be told and I am sure no-one has noticed, a wee dram every now and then goes down very well thank you (and let's gloss over the wine most nights shall we). But I do like the idea of somewhere that was founded by a Quaker manages to remain dry, even in this day and age. After all, you know the rules when you go to live there.

Anyway, liqueur chocolate anyone.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Spent some of today trying to be creative. Now, as many will know, for a surgeon I am not particularly good with my hands (in fact I always have claimed to be a medic not a surgeon for exactly that reason, and yes, I know an ophthalmology certificate should indicate I can do fine surgery, let's just gloss over that shall we). Anyway, creating things for and with my daughter can have interesting results. All in all though, I think the Easter bonnet is quite good. It was a joint effort with all three of us having a go.

Eye On You

I don't think I ever proved that we had a second cat. When I started blogging about them then "Shimmer" was spending his life hidden behind a curtain. He is much more confident now and spends a lot of time with us. However he has got a very unnerving habit. My computer sits in an alcove under the stairs. Shimmer enjoys watching me but not from beside me. Oh no, he prefers watching from above. Of course he does this very quietly so looking up can be somewhat of a shock.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

World Cup Cricket

England beat Kenya. Admittedly it would have been very sad if they hadn't, but with recent form anything could have happened. It wasn't always as convincing as I would like, and we will struggle in the Super 8's I reckon, but a win is a win. Vaughan still struggles and this gives the England team a dilemma, he can't get runs at the moment but he is definitely the best choice for captain, so we have to drop some runs in order to allow for strategy. Onward we go.


After the disappointment that was Casino Royale, today we all went to see "Mr Bean's Holiday". Simply, easy, and very funny. Especially when he is busking in order to raise some cash. At times a bit hard for a 4 year old to follow but "A" still came out of the cinema saying she enjoyed it. Some of the jokes can be seen coming but it is the way they are done rather than what they are that makes them exquisite.
Bond or Bean? For me the choice is simple (at least while David Craig is Bond).

Friday, March 23, 2007


Before it was ever released I saw a clip of Daniel Craig as Bond in Casino Royale. I said he was no Bond. I therefore didn't go to see the film when it was released. I heard all the reviews. I heard everyone raving about both him and it. Maybe I had misjudged I thought. So I bought the DVD yesterday. WHAT A MISTAKE. He is no Bond. He doesn't carry it off at all. Tyring much too hard to look macho the role just doesn't come naturally. And the film itself, the plotline is somewhere between vague, thin and non-existent. It is just frustrating. No discernible villain, simply a lot of of not-quite-nice people who come and go without adding anything other than bodies for Craig to beat up or kill. And I had heard all about this wonderful poker scene but when it came about it was just a lot of nothing and hot air. No tension, no plot, no Bond. I am so disappointed. I just include the picture so the ladies have something to appreciate.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Not The Grey's Anatomy One

One of the things I like about having an ipod is being able to visit the itunes store. More specifically the fact that there is a free download every week. This gives me a chance to get a single that i wouldn't have otherwise listened to. And so far I have generally enjoyed what I have heard. Enjoyed, but until this week, not enough to buy an album. Then I heard Kate Walsh. In fact I heard about 30 seconds of Kate Walsh. Then I went back and bought the album.

Kate Walsh is a folk singer. A lovely voice that can soar on the notes, accompanied by little more than an acoustic guitar. I have to admit that listening while driving was a bad idea, simply because her singing is so soothing. I need to listen to this when I can concentrate on the music. As I listen I think of Eddi Reader, vocally Kate Walsh has the same kind of skills although KWs music is softer.


I tell you of my successes so I should also share my failures. For tonights dinner I decided to do a steak and mushroom pie. That worked well. I also decided that lemon sorbet and chocolate sauce would make a nice dessert. I bought the lemon sorbet (I will get an ice cream maker one day, maybe when I have more room in the kitchen). But I decided to make the chocolate sauce. I have made chocolate sauce before. Quite successfully. Can't quite remember what I did but can't be that difficult can it? Yes, well.
So I bought some chocolate and some condensed milk (is anyone waving frantically at this point to warn me?). I melted the chocolate then added the condensed milk. Have you tried this? Let me tell you, it doesn't make a sauce, instead it becomes very thick, in fact very very thick. And then, if you add golden syrup to try and loosen it up, it solidifies. The first time I thought I had got the temperature wrong (over a steaming pan of water, so couldn't really be wrong). The second time I decided it was the condensed milk. At which point "A" ran into the dining room and told "J" I had got it wrong twice (thanks for the moral support). I still don't understand why condensed milk doesn't work while cream does but I gave up. I finally just melted some chocolate and poured that over. Of course that then sets to the sides of the bowl and forms a solid cap over the sorbet!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dress Sense

I want to examine this issue of the niqab in a bit more depth so, as it's my blog, I am bumping the topic back up. If you feel lost with the following then please check this post and comments first. This also means that this will now turn into a long post, something I usually try to avoid.

I have never known anyone who wears the niqab. This is my loss as I haven't had a chance to really find out what someone who wears it feels about the issue. Therefore I admit to talking from a limited and, by definition, blinkered viewpoint.

I do understand that it isn't exactly or strictly a religious requirement, but then neither is wearing a cross but some Christians would feel very affronted if told they couldn't (oh yes, there was one wasn't there!). There are points where religion and culture blend together, and I actually think that is good and right. Simply because it isn't dictated by twenty verses in whatever Holy Book you believe in doesn't mean that the culture doesn't have value.

Is it suppression of gender? I used to think it was. Currently I do not think so. What I do know is that the people who seem to complain most about not being allowed to wear a niqab are women not men. Maybe this is because the women have been persecuted into it. Maybe they have been brainwashed. Or maybe it is because they agree with it. In fact, as I understand it, some women say it is liberating rather than suppressive as it removes the sexual undertones that otherwise interfere with relationships.

I agree that in a western culture we rely heavily on facial expression. I am not sure that a lack of it automatically means a restriction in education. We should make an effort to learn to work with people who want to wear a niqab and adjust our own behaviour accordingly. That means in schools, in work, and at play. The Jack Straw incident demonstrated someone who was completely unwilling to come to terms with what makes someone of another culture feel comfortable and he should have found a way around this rather than abusing his power. It is possible that he actually felt threatened and weakened by the presence of a woman in a niqab, it have increased her control in the situation. The Kirpan is not something that can be equated to the niqab. The Kirpan is something that does present a potential security/safety risk therefore it is right that this cannot be worn in all situations. The niqab is not a risk (and I know that one of the arguments was that schools need to be able to see their students but, let's be honest, if three people come in to the school speaking in deep voices and measuring 6'3" we can take a guess they aren't students can't we).

It seems to me that some Muslim girls wish to wear a niqab. Yes, it is part of their upbringing. Even if you think that it may restrict their learning, in which situation are they going to learn better? One where they wear the niqab or one where they are in a society that they feel doesn't respect their upbringing. I think there are few situations where there will be schools with no men around, especially in the areas we are talking about for these schools.

I acknowledged at the beginning of the first post that this is a complex issue. I still think it is. I suppose one of the reasons I felt sad about this is that I don't believe that the complex issues actually drove the decision. I believe it was a knee jerk reaction to something we don't understand.

Seats To Die For

Ignoring the fact that approximately 10 people a year die on BA flights (don't expect me to fly BA again, I mean, what do they put in their food?) what can we learn from this story. BA moved a dead passenger to first class (for the second time in 6 months, different dead bodies obviously). Firstly we can discount the serious health and safety risks he is concerned about. It's a dead body, it's not going to sneeze over you is it. OK, so it won't want a hot towel after the meal but, to be honest, it probably hasn't got it's hand dirty anyway. Secondly, it won't have been snoring too loudly or playing an ipod, so probably not a great deal of disturbance to other passengers.

I just think this was someone who was annoyed that he had paid full fare for first class then someone got bumped up a grade!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It Is The Unveiled Whose Eyes Are Closed

It is obviously complex, as so many things are, but I am struggling with this one. How can a school have the right to ban a child from wearing clothes required by their religion? And the excuses given - health and safety (isn't that now just an amazing "catch all"), security or impeding learning.

We are living in a world where religious intolerance is leading to hate and the shedding of blood. Where we look at those who appear different (this includes you, Jack Straw) and that alone is enough to unsettle us. We should be trying to send out an inclusive message, that we welcome all, that there is no "us and them". Instead school children, the most impressionable, are being targeted. What will those children learn? That the western world has no respect for their beliefs. That because of the clothes they wear, and that alone, they are viewed as untrustworthy.

I feel sad.

Mmmm, No Bisto

Worth mentioning dinner tonight. I did pan fried Sea Bream (filleted it myself) with Tiger Prawns on a bed of spinach and exotic mushrooms. Driving to work this morning I thought "that will work". And it did.

Days of Stalin

Well slap my thighs and call me Daisy. Really. The Chancellor is arrogant. He is inflexible. He is ruthless. Most surprisingly, he is cynical. I never would have guessed. Has Turnbull actually said anything that is a revelation? No. So, the man who made a financial artform over double and triple counting money to mislead us into thinking he was giving us more, is revealed as dictatorial. Why should a man who ignores the electorate and their wishes even think about considering the views of those working beneath him? It is surely obvious for all to see that he knows better than any of us what is good for us.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Hands cupped,
Wrist bound,
Single stem,

Pale skin
Black leather
Red petal

Soft silk
of skin.

Rigid (strict?)

Soft silk
of petal.



It is badly presented and the graphics are used poorly but, looking past that, the recent poll in Iraq is shocking. It shows the combined efforts of the UK and US have moved the country in the wrong direction. It shows that not only have things not apparently improved since the war, in fact over the last 3 years things have been getting worse. And, in the eyes of those living it day by day, it is going to get worse rather than better.

I will pull out a few highlights:

All things considered what is your view of the 2003 invasion of Iraq: 34% responded "absolutely wrong", another 19% "somewhat wrong", ie over half the country think the invasion was wrong.

Supply of electricity: 51% "very bad", 37% "quite bad"

Supply of clean water: 34% "very bad", 35% "quite bad"

(those would be the amenities we blew up then would they?)

How do you feel the coalition have carried out their responsibilities: 46% "A very bad job"

The presence of the coalition: 46% "strongly oppose"

And to finish with the most shocking - Political action: 51% find attacks on coalition forces acceptable (compared to only 17% in 2004)

Unfortunately I can't do graphs in my Blog (as in I don't know how I can add them) so I urge you to look at the results at

A Victory For Medicine

Thank the Lord for loperamide (the active ingredient to Imodium). I think I can say that without being hit by lightening, He has provided us with medicine. Anyway, by Saturday I was getting just a tad fed up with not managing to be far from a toilet. I really went for it on Saturday and didn't eat anything and only drank water. No good, that didn't work. Woke up Sunday thinking I had to find another way. Normally I am not a great fan of spasmolytics, if your body is trying to get rid of something then I usually think it knows what it is doing. However, in myself I was feeling much better, and I thought that, for once, my guts were wrong. I thought I had recovered from whatever bug it was, just my guts hadn't realised I had recovered. So I took some loperamide and started eating (obviously nothing heavy, but a bit). And hey presto, everything has settled down. Hooray.

{That's a recrystalized and microscopic picture of loperamide, cool hey}

Sunday, March 18, 2007

World Cup Cricket

England beat Canada. A relief anyway. Not a good win, and by no means what we should have managed, we lost too many wickets, we didn't take wickets quickly enough, but at least a win.

All overshadowed by the behaviour of some of the team. Flintoff demoted from vice captain (although maybe the "vice" was apt) and not allowed to play in todays match. After losing to New Zealand a group of the players, spurred on by Freddie, went out drinking. They were spotted by England supporters who complained, feeling that they had paid good money to follow the team and possibly weren't getting their moneys worth. Listening to the matter being discussed was amusing when Nasser Hussein and Beefy Botham were brought together. If Freddie has these two as advisers then it must be like having an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Nasser talks about how the behaviour was unacceptable, it is right that he should be punished, the team must get away from the drinking culture. Cue Beefy, laughing, saying his only crime was getting caught. Of course, seeing as these antics would have been tame to Beefy in his day he couldn't really say anything less could he!

On Your Marks

I will start this by admitting I have never been a supporter of the London Olympics. I thought that £2.37 billion was an obscene amount to be spending in the first place. With so much suffering, poverty, starvation and disease in the world I can't justify that kind of spend in my mind. I also resent that London once again gets the focus and the rest of the country is left to pay for their benefits.
So hearing Tessa Jowell explain that the spend had now rocketed to £9.3 billion does not please me. In my job I have to manage budgets (obviously not this amount, in fact not too much at all in the grand scheme of things, about 0.5% of our turnover) but if I go over budget by £100 then questions are asked. Yet our esteemed leaders can quadruple a budget without a blink and expect us to blithely accept it. Tessa explains this mild deviation in budget plans by saying that the original estimate was merely a "funding pitch". I am not exactly sure what a vacuous statement like that is supposed to mean but I think it means that the government once again manipulated statistics to make something look more attractive than it really was in the belief that we couldn't turn back once the decision was made. Feed the public misinformation and lead them where we want them to go seems to be a general principle of this government. I have said before, I don't mind paying taxes, what I mind is the taxes being mis-spent.


I folded. I hoped to be tougher but couldn't help it. I have resubscribed to Sky Sports so I can follow the Cricket World Cup. A Sunday by myself didn't bode well for willpower ("J" has had to go and visit her father who isn't well but she took "A" as I still have the world falling out of my bottom and didn't think I should be preparing food for a child!) and as it got to midday I was thinking more and more about the cricket. It was just too easy to go online and upgrade my subscription. For a brief moment it looked as though I might resist as the Sky website is fairly naff and I was starting to get irritated by it (I'm great fun shopping, if I get fed up with poor service or queues I just put my stuff down and walk out of the shop) but at the last minute I had a breakthrough and a final click did the damage.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Six Nations Rugby

Wales managed to avoid the wooden spoon. After an incredibly mixed tournament where they have shown promise but never quite capitalised, the match against England today was nail-biting. From the beginning Wales had the strength, the position and the skills that eclipsed the England team. Despite this there were times when it looked as though Wales would throw it away. But James Hook, playing in his favourite postion as flyhalf replacing an injured Stephen Jones, kept his nerve and controlled the game. Of the 27 points scored by Wales, Hook got 22 of them, with a try and a drop goal as well as penalties and conversions. Had the match gone differently then Shane Williams would have had some answering to do. A sparkling runner he failed to look for the opportunities today and many chances of ramping up the score were missed as he weither didn't pass or threw the ball wildly. The loss of Catt wouldn't have helped England as he at least gave them some inventiveness but his hamstring got the better of him.


The constant bad news from Zimbabwe is very sad. I mean, it is always going to be shocking and upsetting to hear of such levels of violence, but 11 years ago this was not how Zimbabwe was supposed to go. We went there for our honeymoon. While there we spent a day in Zambia. The contrast was palpable. Zambia was a place where the streets were dangerous, houses were surrounded by high walls and razor wire, and groups of men were looking for trouble. Zimbabwe was peaceful. It felt safe. At the time I commented on how those in Zimbabwe were sensible enough to realise how important tourism was and to welcome it.

All that has been turned around. Thrown away. One man leading a country into decline. A country that should be beautiful instead becoming one where the streets run with blood.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Time Warp

Have you noticed how the ipod appears to be leading the way backwards? When I was young, headphones were these big things that clamped on to either side of your head and covered your ears completely. Then new innovations came along and they got smaller. Initially they sat on the ears rather than around them. Followed by ear clips. Finally smaller still so we had the ear buds. All that has changed and we are moving back towards the big headphones again. Look on the trains, business men in suits with headphones on, the bigger and shinier the better. Big is the new black.

Poor Start

England roundly beaten by the Kiwis. A poor effort batting by most didn't put England in a comfortable position. Pietersen again shone and made the highest number of runs with 60, while a more than useful effort by Nixon and Plunkett at the end meant that all was not lost, but 209 is a low target to set. However, in their first few overs things did not go well for New Zealand. The loss of early wickets in the first two overs meant they were at 3 for 2. Then when Flemming went they were 19 for 3. However only one more wicket fell and New Zealand cruised to a victory.

It is also well worth noting that, in another match, Herschelle Gibbs scored 6 sixes in an over, an incredible feat. What makes this even better is one of the sponsors, Johnnie Walker, had agreed to donate $1 mill to Habitat for Humanity if anyone managed this rare achievement.

The Best Days

The news about university admissions needs some thinking about. At first sight it seems wrong. The parents background shouldn't be taken into account. But further thought and it can be seen a different way. Is a "B" achieved in a school with hardly any facilities only equal to a "B" achieved in a school with everything. Does it not show a greater level of ability? To achieve when all is against you has to be rewarded. I could even go as far as saying a "B" from a poor school could equal an "A" from a top flight school.

Mind you, talk about the sins of the fathers being visited upon their sons

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Colour Blind

We are
The black
The white
Never grey between us.

Your white queen
Always advancing
Always stalking
My black king.

Your white rose
Strong scent
Sharp thorns
Beauty eclipsing
My black tulip.

Your white clothes
Sharply elegant
Crisp, clean
My black suit

Never grey.

Don't Look Back

I am reading this months Vanity Fair and there is an article about Kitty Carlisle Hart. I still don't really know who she is but I was struck by the fact that every morning, the first thing she does after getting up, is look at herself in the mirror and say "I forgive you for whatever you did yesterday". I think that this is an excellent way to start the day. My own philosophy has been to regret nothing and I think that these two thoughts come from the same place. That is that there is no point in dwelling on the past, what is done is done. If we live a life full of regrets, or not forgiving ourselves, then we will not enjoy the moments and not live life to the full, instead getting bogged down in the past.

Health Update

Toilet 1, London 0. I woke up and thought I could make it. Then, over the next half hour, changed my mind. I ache all over, feel drained, and still spend longer than I would like in the bathroom. At least we have Vanity Fair in there for me to read! Now I just need this in there ----->

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I was supposed to be going down to London this afternoon/evening for a meeting tomorrow. It is not looking good. For the last 36 hours or so I have probably had a better relationship with the toilet than with any human. I won't go into details but it is not pleasant. On a rather foolhardy kill or cure bid I have just tried some toast. The theory was I can't go to an all day meeting tomorrow if I haven't eaten for two days. Currently it feels as though I may have made the wrong decision. I really want to go to the meeting, it is training for pharmacovigilance inspections but I may have to accept defeat.
{As to the picture, look closely at the seats}

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Motor Show

OK. I want to know whose bright idea it was to get cats. Come on, own up. Now they have discovered that they like people and our company it is impossible to stop them purring. And at 0200 hrs a cat purring in your ear is a very loud thing and not conducive to a good nights sleep.

{Bonus point if you know what the picture is of}

Monday, March 12, 2007

Popping Over

So I was in B****** for a flying trip. Too quick really. From landing to taking off again was 20 hours. It didn't start well. Deciding to try and spend a good part of Sunday at home I booked a later flight than normal. It seemed a good idea 3 weeks ago but less good when it actually came to it. The drive to Heathrow was marred by an accident on the M25. So a drive that should have taken 1 hour and 10 minutes took about two and a half hours. As I usually try to give myself plenty of time to spare I was able to retire to the lounge to relax (I bought a lounge pass last year, money well spent). I then realised that I had forgotten to bring my masonic words that I should be learning. And I hadn't brought a book because I wanted to make sure nothing would distract me from learning my lines!

Once we landed at Dusseldorf I made my way to the exit. As everyone else headed towards the baggage reclaim I spotted a little door that had a sign above it "Exit - handluggage only". Goody I thought, a quick exit bypassing all the normal corridors and hallways. I spent the next fifteen minutes searching for my taxi driver before realising that the arrivals normally came out on the floor below. My quick exit was turning out to be not so quick after all. Down the stairs, searching the downstairs floor. First sweep and nothing. Now getting worried. Got out my travel documentation, no phone number to call. Words like "botheration" now going through my mind. Another sweep of the floor and there he was. Almost hiding, stupid place to stand if you are waiting to pick people up, but definitely with the sign that I had been looking for. I speed over and introduce myself. It is now 2130 hours and I am flagging. The driver proceeds to tell me that we have to wait for the Madrid flight to come in, due at 2200 hours, as he has two more people to pick up. I look at the board. Oh yes, due at 2200 hrs normally but delayed to 2217hrs tonight. 17 minutes may not sound much but, as I said, I was flagging. I walk up and down the concourse to find some food. The only place is a McFranchise and I refuse to buy from there so I go hungry. Finally at 2230 the other two arrive and we have the hour long drive to the hotel.

There is a choice of two hotels in B******, at one you are kept awake all night by the bells in the clock tower next door, the other you are kept awake by the railway line next door. Now the hotel I generally stay I choose because it reminds me of Fawlty Towers. But they also do good food. So being greeted by wafts of good cooking as we walk through the door but knowing the kitchen was closed and the only thing waiting for me was a packet of peanuts in the room did not help.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Avoidance Tactics

Further analysis of the situation suggests that the things Shimmer doesn't want to know about is women. The moment everyone else had gone to bed he came out. He explored the house. Then he had a mad half hour or so burning off all the energy that had built up while he hid behind the curtain. Bouncing off walls really does describe what he was up to. In fact, so exuberant was he, that Scooby decided to hide behind a coffee table until everything returned to normal.

6 Nations

It is definitely turning into a strange 6 Nations tournament. Not so much when you look at the table (although no-one would have predicted Wales languishing at the bottom) but the matches themselves. So many near upsets.

The Scotland-Ireland match was a bad natured affair and Ireland nearly threw it all away. A match decided by penalties. It is best glossed over.

The Italy-Wales match was heartbreaking. The better team definitely won, Italy have most of the possession and the territory. A lot of controversy over the fact that Wales kicked for touch at the end thinking that they had been told by the ref that there was time to play on. But, in reality, that never guaranteed a try anyway. They were brave enough to go for the win rather than the draw and that deserves some credit. I normally say it is not good to complain about decisions going the wrong way as in the next match it will go the other way. I think I can honestly say that isn't how this tournament has gone. Whenever a choice has gone against Wales it seems to have done so.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

It's In The Genes

Well this is exciting. We seem to have a nietzsche or nurture experiment taking place in our household. So we got two cats. These cats were born on the same day but they are not brothers. They have lived together and had exactly the same upbringing for the last 6 months. And yet they are so different. Scooby (the grey one) started exploring within 10 minutes of arriving home. He can still be spooked by things but generally he just wants to be everywhere and checking everything out. Shimmer (the grey and white one) has spent about 95% of his time hiding behind a curtain. He doesn't want to know about all the strange things that can go on around him. On this standing, Nietzsche wins.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mileage Eater

That was a busy 36 hours. Yesterday morning got in the car, drove up to Whitburn (between Glasgow and Edinburgh), held an evening meeting, then a drive back down today. A few people seem to think I was mad driving all that way for such a short trip. But I needed to take a projector and screen and the idea of having to get on planes or trains with those and two bags really didn't seem like fun.

It was a good meeting. We got a group of vets together to discuss management and control of strangles outbreaks. Advice to horse owners on strangles can vary and this leads to a lot of potential confusion. With another Strangles Awareness Week coming up it was an ideal time to get the local practices together so they could talk about their protocols for dealing with the disease. The evening generated a lot of debate and people left feeling it had been very useful. There was just enough time for a whisky (OK, two) before retiring to bed.

Oggie Oggie Oggie

It is important that we try to prevent racism or any other prejudice. But having school kids arrested seems to be going a bit too far. Putting aside the fact that the chant they used was a friendly one used by Tottenham Hotspur fans, should the police have been approached. I haven't heard the chant so I don't know how bad it was. And things said in jest can still be insulting so it is quite possible that what was said was inappropriate. But calling in the police seems excessive. The teacher should have gone to the headmaster and asked for the children to be reprimanded if their comments were really that bad.


This meat
Torn from my chest
Still beating
To you

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I don't look at a glass and think it half full or half empty. I just think it needs topping up.

(RED) Out

So I had seen this about 30 minutes before anonymous posted a comment. Firstly "amuses" seems to be the wrong phrase to use if you ask me, but maybe that's me being a bit personal. So let's look at the bigger picture. Is the (RED) campaign flawed?

1) If the $100 million hadn't been spent would $18 million have been raised? There is an imbalance in the spending versus the returns. But $18 mill isn't a peanut, some good will have been done with that. And realistic it seems unlikely that the £100 mill would have been given directly anyway. So the fight against AIDS is better equipped than it would be without (RED).

2) $100 mill is a ridiculous amount to have spent on advertising? I think it does seem that way. But this is not a one off campaign. This is supposed to be a model for generating money to go to Africa. It requires investment in the brand. Brands take time and take money to build but once established the input can drop. The first year would always be the most expensive.

3) It is wrong to encourage shopping? I don't think that this is what the (RED) campaign is trying to do. It is giving people an option that if they are going to buy something then a donation is going to go to fight AIDS. Since I subscribed to American Express (RED) over £250 pounds has gone to the campaign because of my spending on the card (much of which is actually work related). I have not given that money so I am not using it to assuage my "guilt", and it isn't an excuse for me not to give to other charities. But it is £250 fighting AIDS that is there because of my action. I could have kept getting my Goldfish points, I was going to spend the money anyway. I don't buy things that I don't want because they are (RED), but I make a choice if it is available. Shopping is not a solution, it is not a reasonable response to human suffering, but no-one actually said it was.

4) Can't we focus on giving money instead? Yes, good idea. In the meantime, while we try to convince people to think about others, let's find a way to get some money out of their pockets. Changing peoples lifestyles is hard work, good to try and do, but an uphill struggle. Let's use their lifestyles to do some good. Stop pushing uphill, when we could all roll downhill.

5) It only raised $18 mill? Well yes, as above, it would be better if it was more. You know what, if we encouraged people to go (RED) then it would raise more so why not be positive and make our lives a force for good.

6) It doesn't count if it doesn't hurt? B.....cks. Just because it doesn't cost me to use the (RED) card doesn't mean that the money is of less value.

7) It stops people feeling they need to give to charity? I think those that normally give to charities will continue to do so even if they are choosing (RED). Those who don't give normally are at least helping a bit if they choose (RED). Overall improvement.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


The injunction story continues to gather pace. And while discussion over whether or not the Beeb were too careful or the Guardian too reckless is interesting, it is missing the bigger part of the story. And that might just be very lucky for the government. Or it could be planning. This is a government who look for bad news days so they can release information that gets drowned out. This is also a government who seem to specialise in "the leak". And often those leaks, while on the surface bad, actually help to hide away more serious matters. Maybe this one diverts us from looking at number 10 and turns Levy into a scapegoat. Just a thought.

I Thought I Saw a Puddy Cat

For a few reasons there were some delays in getting our cats. Nothing serious but they couldn't come when I expected them. However today was the great home-coming. And within 10 minutes it was obvious that the two of them are completely different characters. Shimmer is still hiding behind a curtain. Scooby is already demonstrating that he is likely to get in a lot of trouble. He has explored every room, almost got locked in the dishwasher, knocked over a windchime, been chased by a balloon, and left pawprints over many windows.
(and I know they aren't great photos, but you get the idea)

Car Parks

I've just worked it out. Why are the british so good at queuing? Because we grow up used to our b****y useless road system, that's why!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


The blog below is very badly written. It really isn't clear what is going on. So a bit of explanation. Thursday 1st March was World Book Day (OK, I am almost a week out of date from the outset). WBD finds the ten books that we can't do without. The Guardian enlarged on this list and made it the top 100 books. That list is recreated below. Then I have indicated which books I have read (in bold), which I have read more than once (in red), and those I have started but not finished (in italics). liz also indicated those on her shelf but not started with a *, but this is a fairly irrelevant category for me as books do not generally hang around for long (except the Bronte books, they have been on my shelf for about 10 years and not started). However I have used a # to indicate which are on my wish list for the future. Hope that explains it all a bit more.

A Slice of Heaven

Thanks to liz for bringing this to my attention. I decided to work through the list and mark them off, although I have used red rather than an underline if I have read it more than once (this is because I am being lazy and there doesn't seem to be an obvious underline button in blogger). I don't think I have done too badly, despite being "beaten" by liz (she has read 60 to my 47). Some are overated in my humble opinion - Harry Potter, Philip Pullman, and Birdsong spring to mind. Some are firm favourites - Prayer to Owen Meaney, Brideshead, Cold Comfort Farm, Dumas, Midnight's Children. Reading is one of my great pleasures, and it is nice to remember the stories as I look through this list. The main problem I have is that I find it hard to get rid of books, they are like friends to me and I love being surrounded by them. It is one of the things I want "A" to learn about and appreciate, so far she is showing good signs.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

8 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott #

12 Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - William Shakespeare

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier #

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger #

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot #

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy #

25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma - Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernières

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez #

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker #

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte's Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Misérables - Victor Hugo


Well transfering my LPs is proving fun, if time consuming. I have managed to do the 12" singles and have now moved on to the LPs themselves. I am getting to hear things that have been in the garage or attic for a long time. Especially pleased to have uncovered my Harvey and the Wallbangers albums, and can't wait to get to Jethro Tull. I think I might need to use some discretion though. Adam Ant and "Strip" probably doesn't deserve to be moved to the ipod. There are many groups that can stand the test of time but Adam is not in that category.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I was recently asked by someone to write a chapter for a book. Obviously veterinary related, you don't often get asked to write just one chapter for a novel! Anyway, two or three years ago I would have jumped at the chance. I would have seen it as good to have on my CV, and something that would get me a bit more known. I would have done it even though the "pay" was one free copy of the book. My mindset has altered a bit these days. They are asking for 16000 words, and I would have to edit it myself. That is a lot of work, it isn't the kind of thing that I can just knock off in a night. But it would be in the evenings and weekends when I had to do it. I am so aware of the impact that would have at home. There has to be a bigger pay-off. Someone somewhere is going to make some money out of it, maybe not a lot but definitely some. And I feel that if I agreed I would really be a bit of a sap. So I replied that I was interested but that I needed more than a book to make it worth it. Haven't heard anything since. And the thing is, I am not regretting it either.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Party Time

Last night was a rather enjoyable Charity Ball. It was over in Cardiff so we dropped "A" off to spend the night with the cousins and then we headed down. My mother had kindly reminded me to pack my DJ so that was OK. Unfortunately she didn't remind me to pack my black shoes, a fact that I realised half way to Cardiff. No way I was going to turn around so we had to do some last minute shopping (over the years of going to Charity Balls we have had to go in to the shops to by a dress shirt, a bow tie, cufflinks and a dress (the last not for me I hasten to add)). Then time to get ready and wander down to be the first in the bar. A couple of Greenbelt friends came as well and we partied in to the wee small hours of the morning. And the result of a good party was about £2000 raised for a local terminal care charity.

(no photos yet because I took the SLR rather than the digital camera)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning - The Cowboy Junkies

Sun comes up, it's Tuesday morning
hits me straight in the eye
guess you forgot to close the blind last night
Oh, that's right, I forgot, it was me

I sure do miss the smell of black coffee in the morning,
the sound of water splashing all over the bathroom,
the kiss that you would give me even though I was sleeping,
but I kind of like the feel of this extra few feet in my bed
Telephone's ringing, but I don't answer it
'cause everybody knows that good news always sleeps till noon

Guess it's tea and toast for breakfast again
maybe I'll add a little T.V. too
No milk! God, how I hate that
Guess I'll go to the corner, get breakfast from Jenny
She's got a black eye this morning, `Jen how'd ya get it?'
she says, `Last night, Bobby got a little bit out of hand'

Lunchtime. I start to dial your number
then I remember so I reach for something to smoke
and anyways I'd rather listen to Coltrane
than go through all that shit again

There's something about an afternoon spent doing nothing
Just listening to records and watching the sun falling
Thinking of things that don't have to add up to something
and this spell won't be broken
by the sound of keys scraping in the lock

Maybe tonight it's a movie
with plenty of room for elbows and knees
a bag of popcorn all to myself,
black and white with a strong female lead
and if I don't like it, no debate, I'll leave

Here comes that feeling that I'd forgotten
how strange these streets feel
when you're alone on them
Each pair of eyes just filled with suggestion
So I lower my head, make a beeline for home
Seething inside

Funny, I'd never noticed
the sound the streetcars make as they pass my window
Which reminds me that I forgot to close the blind again
Yeah, sure I'll admit there are times when I miss you
Especially like now when I need someone to hold me
but there are some things that can never be forgiven
and I just gotta tell you
that I kinda like this extra few feet in my bed

The Language or the Kiss - The Indigo Girls

I dont know if it was real or in a dream
Lately waking up I'm not sure where I've been
There was a table set for six and five were there
I stood outside and kept my eyes upon that empty chair
And there was steam on the windows from the kitchen
Laughter like a language I once spoke with ease
But I'm made mute by the virtue of decision
And I choose most of your life goes on without me
Oh the fear I've known
That I might reap the praise of strangers
And end up on my own
All I've sown was a song but maybe I was wrong

I said to you the one gift which I'd adore
The package of the next 10 years unfolding
But you told me if I had my way I'd be bored
Right then I knew I loved you best born of your scolding
When we last talked we were lying on our backs
Looking at the sky through the ceiling
I used to lie like that alone out on the driveway
Trying to read the greek upon the stars
The alphabet of feeling
Oh I knew back then
It was a calling that said if joy then pain
The sound of the voice these years later
Is still the same

I am alone in a hotel room tonight
I squeeze the sky out but theres not a star appears
Begin my studies with this paper and this pencil
And Im working through the grammar of my fears
Oh mercy what I won't give
To have the things that mean the most
Not to mean the things I miss
Unforgiving the choice still is
The language or the kiss

Friday, March 02, 2007

Coming To Get You

Well this has to spark a bit of interest. Just what have the BBC found out about the Cash for Honours scandal that is so important that the Attorney General should slap an injunction on them. Is that a nervous twitch Tony or are you just looking over your shoulder?

Beam Me Up

The arch company are incredibly astute and all credit to them for some fantastic marketing. I try very hard not to eat there but it can be difficult when they are the only place around. I am impressed by the way they have quickly picked up on new technologies. They have recognised that wi-fi connections are becoming more common and have made sure that every one of their "restaurants" is a wireless connection zone. Undoubtedly the thought is that people in business want to make sure they keep in touch. They are trying to prey on the likes of me, if I spend a few days out of the office I can come back to a frightening number of emails so I try to check them as often as possible. McF think I will go and eat their food while checking my emails. And they are almost correct. But I don't like them. And I have found an achilles heel. So I will buy my sandwich or roll at a local bakery. Then I will drive to a nearby McF and park in their car park. Because the wi-fi extends to the car park as well, so I can sit in the car and work using their connection without having to buy a single thing. And I get a really sad level of enjoyment out of the feeling that I am sticking two fingers in their face.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hear Her Roar

"A"s school seems to like the children to dress up quite often. Usually it's a sponsorship ploy. Today was a sponsored readathon (and if family are reading this then be pleased to know that I have volunteered some of your money by the way) but the children were also supposed to dress up as characters out of a book. "A" decided to go for Aslan. The main costume was OK as we had a hand-me-down from the cousin but it lacked a mane. I therefore hope you appreciate my sewing efforts shown below (I knew my surgical experience would come in handy one day).