Friday, February 29, 2008

Please Hold While We Try To Connect You

So, I believe I promised a dig at T-Mobile. And I hate to disappoint.

18 months ago I decided to get my own mobile phone. I felt I was overusing the work mobile for personal calls/texts and I did not want to get in trouble. Plus, in all honesty, I dislike the work Nokia and being a gadget person wanted a nice shiny flip phone. I decided to join T-Mobile. Ever since I have regretted it. Reception seems very poor. Travelling a lot and long distances, as I do, I found that T-Mobile would often not work where Vodaphone did. So, when the contract came up I felt it was time to move.

I emailed T-Mobile and apologetically explained why I would not continue with them. They replied and said that they had put the cancellation in to action, even though I had not actually confirmed it and had simply been asking how to go about cancelling. I emailed back asking for an unlock code and for a number transfer code. I heard nothing. I emailed again. And again. I finally got an email back on the day of cancellation saying that they had checked and no-one had actually put the process of getting the codes into action. I emailed them saying that thanks to their inefficiency my phone was about to become defunct at midnight and that I needed to know what they were going to do to help. I still haven't heard from them.

T-Mobile - poor reception, poor service. Avoid.

A bad thing should always be balanced by a good, so I will also now praise O2 to the hilt. Having got my phone unlocked (tiny little shop in Londons China town, interesting experience) I had 45 minutes until a very important call. I went into an O2 store and explained I wanted a sim only package but I needed to have my phone up and running by 1600 hrs. The guy I spoke to couldn't have been more friendly or more helpful. He even let me recharge my work phone while we sorted out the sim card for my personal phone. And he had my new account up and working in 15 minutes. And in the little time I have had to use it I would have to say coverage appears good.

O2 - good reception, good service. Consider.

On Newport Station

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Journey

For a number of reasons not close to a computer for a lot of the time at the moment so a brief respite in phtos and blogging. If I get time tomorrow I will have a major slagging off session directed towards T-Mobile, but in the meantime.

Tonight was a Chapter meeting. I hadn't been contacted before about it and laast night I was in Cardiff so unable to attend the rehearsal. I was therefore very pleased to learn that tonight I was to take another step on the ladder. I am now 2nd assistant sojourner. Which is great because as Janitor for the last year I have been outside the temple for the ceremonies but I am finally allowed back in. It feels a bit like a spy finally allowed back in from the cold. As always it was a nice night, made even better by my father being able to attend as well. At a time when so much of my life is rushed, it was nice to have an evening to slow down.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


With a grateful nod to The News Quiz -

Knowledge is remembering that is tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting them in a fruit salad.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

It sounded wonderful, the first bio-fuel flight. Virgin Flight 811P took off from London Heathrow fueled, in part, by 150,000 coconuts and babassu nuts picked in the Amazon rainforest. The Boeing 747 touched down safely 40 minutes later in Amsterdam. But things are never as simple as they seem. If coconut oil really were to be a major fuel for the airline industry then massive deforestation of the Rainforests would be needed. In other words, a massive eco-disaster.

And the irony. This was a passenger-less flight. So a trip designed to show the way in saving the ecosystem actually had a massive carbon footprint without even getting one person from "a" to "b".

Up and Away, part 2

I know this post was a while ago, but the reason for not replying to 1izs comment was not that I thought it wasn't worth an answer, rather that it bothered me, made me question myself, and I have been thinking about it since. Sorry, but I was not yanking your leg, but I admit it is incredibly more complex than a blog can do justice.

First, I was not judging her. I suspect she does have a lot of demons that drive her to depths I would prefer not to know but, even if she doesn't, it is her choice what she does. I am certainly not looking to take a moral high ground. I agree that "her lifestyle seems to be causing herself and others real pain" and I hope she does get it sorted. It is one thing to destroy oneself, quite another to take others down with you (and I include smoking "normal" cigarettes in this category, if you feel that you have a right to give yourself cancer then fine, but then make sure that you don't have a family who will get wounded by your death {before I get slated for that particular thought, my father died when I was 10 because he smoked, so I think I am entitled to havean opinion}).

Yes, many fine artists have used drugs. Often not so blatantly but it isn't actually the drugs that are, in my mind, the problem in this case, it is the destructiveness of her lifestyle. I like a wee drop of whisky, I am quite content for my daughter to know that, but I wouldn't want her thinking that I needed it to get through every day. Interesting that an athlete is banned for using drugs but that to an artist it is more than simply acceptable. Is there a difference between an athlete improving his physical output and an artist improving their mental output? Why judge one and not the other if it really is so OK.

I think that awards, something that is held up high for the world to see, should have an element to them that comes above the basic requirements. Anyone who is judged to be an icon is being positioned as above the rest of us. Note I say judged, that is different to us all wandering around talking to our friends and saying how we love someones music and it is the best thing since sliced bread. By being judged, by being given awards, everything about that person is given credence.

There is an implication with 1izs comments that without drugs the only music we will get is bland. To say that 80% of credible output was fueled by drugs is incredibly damning on those not using drugs, especially from someone exposed to some excellent non-drug fueled music every year at Greenbelt. That is exactly the message that is dangerous to children. It IS possible to be creative, to have ideas, without resorting to drugs. And there is an interesting question of whether her music would be better if her mind weren't clouded.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Titles Please

Every year the bookseller Magazine has a contest for the oddest book title of the year. The shortlist for the Diagram prize has just been announced. And it appears that 2007 was as weird as any other year. While there might be accusations that publishers are being more careful, some truly wonderful books are still getting through, including:

I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen
How to Write a How to Write Book
Cheese Problems Solved
If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs

Last years competition included such memorable titles as "How Green Were The Nazis", "The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification by Julian Montague" and "D. Di Mascio’s Delicious Ice Cream: D. Di Mascio of Coventry: An Ice Cream Company of Repute, with an Interesting and Varied Fleet of Ice Cream Vans". The 2005 winner was "People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It by Gary Leon Hill"

You still have a chance to vote. Go on, you know you want to (and I am not telling which I have voted for).

Diamonds, vsn 2

Ah, think the previous one was wrong, needed a touch more editing.

Shining Bright

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Moonraker - Ian Flemming

This is so different to the film. And so much better. The Bond of the books is not like the movie Bond. He s more complex and more dark, more lonely. But the fact that he feels more fallible as well makes him a believable character. He gets things wrong, sometimes it is luck rather than judgement that helps him. On the outside he is cold and ruthless, but there is a core which makes him likable. And this book is different from the previous ones because it is less clear who the real enemy is (if you hadn't seen the film then I suspect you wouldn't know for a while). It is not a story packed with action, but a mystery, trying to see what is going on and who to distrust. It progresses and the mystery gradually unfolds, at which point the story gets weaker and is possibly let down by the final 20 pages or so.

Bring It On

A day of rugby - Wales vs Italy, Ireland vs Scotland, France vs England. One surprise result, with England beating France. And, hard though it is for me to admit, Jonny Wilkinson had a great game. But, importantly as far as I am concerned, what I am happy about is that Wales beat Italy. It was shakey at the start, and I am seriously worried about the remaining matches, but at the moment Wales are top of the table and the only ones with the chance of winning the Grand Slam. We will have to see what they can do for the rest.


Friday, February 22, 2008

And The Oscar Goes To...

It is all too easy to mark Kevin O'Connell down as a loser. Nominated 20 times for an Oscar, he is yet to win one. But, in fact, this is an amazing story. 28 years ago he started working as a sound mixer. It took him a few years to get into the swing of it, but this year is his 20th nomination in a row. So he hasn't won one, but such a record has to show he is one of the most consistent people in any field, let alone the movies. I am rooting for him this year.

Thinking Of You

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Now sometimes, when people find out that I am a vet, they seem to feel they have something to prove. Last night I was talking to the manager of the hotel where I had just given a talk. He was explaining how he MC'd wedings and I commented on the fact that in a survey more people were afraid of public speaking than of death, which, statistics being as manipulable as they are, could indicate that most people would prefer to die than to speak publically. He started to explain how he got in to speaking and that it was connected to when he was a student, but his opening sentence went something like "I went to university as well, in 2001, and 2002, and 2003, BA (Hons)...." and I thought how strange that he felt he had to drop in to the conversation that he got an hons, which has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of conversation.


I was in Settle last night. This was slightly strange because I was all of ten minutes, if that, from where we had a Greeneblt ops meeting two years ago. And then it was about -5 degrees at night. And last night was about the same. But two years ago brass monkeys were suffering because we were in a bothy whereas last night I was in a hotel. So my memories of the area are of having to go out in the freezing cold when not even properly woken up, but I woke up this morning toasty warm in a comfy bed and just had to potter downstairs for a fried breakfast. And you know what, in all honesty, I preferred the bothy.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008


"A" had her very first riding lesson today. You can look at the photos and decide for yourselves if she enjoyed herself.

I Spy... a favourite game of "A"s in the car at the moment. And she is getting very good, thinking up her own things now rather than simply copying what we have used. I was somewhat stumped the other day by her saying she spied something beginning with "L" fingerspace "O" fingerspace "Sh".

I thought. I thought some more. And some more. Finally, I had to admit I was stuck. I asked her to tell me.

"Lots of shops"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Time Flies

Just For Tonight - One Night Only

Mercia Chapter Founder Jewel

I recently bought this jewel in Edinburgh. It is slightly damaged with chipped enamel but still very colourful. I would be grateful for any information anyone can give me about it. Thank you.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Considering the affinity 1iz has for all things spicey, the news that GB may face a curry chef shortage must be concerning. It appears that immigration laws are limiting the number of new chefs entering the country and, as a result, curry may become a thing of the past. This is made even worse by rising Basmati prices so leading to a shortage of rice. What is going to happen to those who believe that a good Saturday night involves too many lagers followed by something hot remains to be seen.


OK, this really is going to be difficult to do a picture a day, but luckily I have cats

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Covent Garden

I like the idea of developing a photo blog. Every day I will take at least one photo and put it on here. I keep being hit by a wave of realism that tells me I don't have enough hours in the day. So we will see what happens. But, for now, I had time to stop at Covent Garden today, here are some of the results.

The Player: I ended up watching a string quintet. It was obvious that there was a ringleader, driving them all on.

The Romeo: He played the crowd, wooed them, loved them

The Cellist: I never quite worked out how she could hold the cello and move so freely. The red jacket was a great splash of colour

The Girl: it was a stand-off. How close could he get, how embarrassed would she be. She stood her ground well.

The Jump: They were playing a piece from Carmen

A Second Jump: Not sure which I prefer

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Holiday Complaints

According to Thomas Cook in the UK, some holidaymakers are just never satisfied. Here are the top ten most bizarre and genuine customer complaints received by the firm in recent years:
1 On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food at all.
2 The beach was too sandy.
3 I bought a snorkel and swimming mask for my six-year-old son, but he was too upset to use them as the fish frightened him.
4 It rained on my birthday.
5 Topless sunbathing on the beach should be banned. The holiday was ruined as my husband spent all day looking at other women.
6 I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.
7 It's lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time - this should be banned.
8 We bought 'Ray-Ban' sunglasses for five euros (£3.50) from a street trader, only to find out they were fake.
9 None of the hotel staff was English, and the tea didn't taste the same as at home.
10 I would like to complain about the price of alcohol in the resort. It was too cheap and I woke with a hangover every day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


An american judge is coming under fire today for saying that there are times when torture may be allowable. At first sight this appears a terrible thing for a judge to say. But never trust the media to give the full story when half a story sounds better (just ask the archbishop). At least, as I understand it, the judge was given teh great dilemma question. That is, a plane piloted by terrorists is flying straight for the twin towers, in front of you sits one of their accomplices and he is the only one that can give you a way to stop it, to save all those people. Do you stick a needle under his fingernail to make him talk?

I believe torture is wrong. But in that instance, I really don't know. It goes against everything I believe in to say that in that one moment torture could be allowed, but it also seems ridiculous to say that I wouldn't allow one person to suffer in order to save hundreds. There is no right answer because this is a hypothetical and, as such, give the judge a break.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Up and Away

No, sorry, this is wrong. What message are we sending when someone with this many drug and alcohol problems is able to get 5 awards - is this really the kind of person we should be looking up to? If you heard her acceptance speach then you have to admit she was high. There should be a rule - you can only receive major awards if you are a decent and upstanding person, an example to us all.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rugby Round-up

Wales continue to show improvement. A ruthless coach who will drop players or substitute them even when they are doing well may be giving them an extra impetous. An impetous that is clearly lacking from the England team. So nearly threw the game against Italy, much as they did against Wales last week. Little learning there then. And a pity for Ireland that their come-back was too late against France, a close thing.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Varekai- Cirque du Soleil

Oh yes. Been waiting for months. And it was so worth it. Went to London today to see Varekai. It's been two years since we last saw Cirque live. And seeing them makes us question why we even try with the wannabe shows that are around. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can match the Cirque. Both acts were an hour long. Both acts felt like they were ten minutes. Spell-binding stuff. Mind you, I have to admit that the Aerial Straps, shown here, verged on to the homo-erotic, two men naked for all but a basque clasping each other as they swing to amazing heights.

I loved Allegria when we saw that. I was worried that today would not live up to my hopes and expectations. I need not have feared. Very different shows. Allegria was more circus, Varekai is more theatre. We had ringside seats, the very front row. The acts were smiling and winking at "A" who loved the whole thing. Beautiful costumes, great music (although Allegria was definitely better on that score), and speed combined with death defying stunts. Not a safety harness in site despite the jaw-dropping heights they go to.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Win or Lose

I was interested to see the Tories have plans for reforming the lottery. I have recently stopped buying a lottery ticket. I once won over £1500 and I used to regularly win £10 or so, and as such I suspect I finally broke even. Which I know isn't exactly the aim when it is to help charity.

I fully endorse the idea that the money from the lottery isn't going to the right places at the moment, that projects which should be covered by the government are being subsidised. To such an extent that I am disillusioned with the whole scheme, hence no longer buying a ticket. So I am all for a redistribution. But in other areas I am not so sure. I can't help but smile at the idea that they will cut the amount spent on admin, to make it more like a normal charity. I am sorry, I really am if you work for a charity, but my experience of trying to work with charities and other good causes is one of despair. The inability of such organisations to actually get things done often defies belief. Offered money and sponsorship they often manage to actively discourage the helping hand. They mismange and fail to drive a project. I understand why, volunteers also have a life so it is difficult to manage everything, but it is a major cause of frustration and leads to a decision to no longer be involved.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Could I Mean You?

I can think of a couple of regular readers who would agree wholeheartedly with the following:

Nickelback - How You Remind Me

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dragon Up

OK, I promise this is the last time I will mention the Wales England match. But you have to forgive me, be fair, last time Wales beat England at Twickers I was mid-way through university (and even more worrying the great pretender Capriano {for non-rugby followers he is hoping to get Jonny Wilkinsons place} was only 3 months old). So I think a week of milking it is reasonable, I might have to wait another 20 years for another opportunity.

Anyway, great quote from Lee Byrne (not my favourite player, I think he can be quite weak but anyway) which sums up the match very well. Coming off at half time he reports feeling "look they've thrown all they've got at us and they're just 10 points up - Ten points. And we haven't even played any rugby yet."

Now, we may ask why Wales hadn't played any rugby in the first half. It is quite an accurate comment. But at least they did in the second.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Breath Deeply

Well isn't that interesting. The smoking ban seems to ahve turned London into a cafe culture. Well, a cafe culture with a problem. The problem being that it is too cold. It appears that smokers cannot have a drink or a meal without a fag. So they are willing to sit outside on the streets of London to drink or eat. I have never seen so many restaurants with outside seating. And the people sitting outside are wrapped up like mummies to keep warm. Thick coats, scarves, and I am still trying to work out how they hold the cutlery whilst wearing gloves. It would be amusing if it wasn't so sad.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Ice Cold In...

Some days just don't go according to plan. Having still not fully recovered from yesterdays match (I woke at least 5 times during the night thinking it was just a dream, sad but true), today we were meeting my parents for lunch. The problems with being ill over Christmas and a hectic schedule meant that we hadn't seen each other for ages. Seemed easiest to meet half way. We picked a restaurant half way that "A" usually likes. The idea was lunch then a walk along the river. Which would have been fine. But you might have noticed it's been a bit cold recently. So the walk was off the list. Then we got to the restaurant to find their heating system had broken down. We decided to brave it. Big mistake. We all ended up eating lunch still wearing our coats. Hot drinks at the end were needed just to warm up. The whole thing missed the kind of atmosphere I was hoping for.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

England 19 - Wales 26

I thought about it. I thought about it long and hard. But hey, on Friday I was given a hard time by certain England supporters who were just a bit too cocky. So, I finally decided I have to mention it. Now I admit, Wales didn't play particularly well for the majority of the game. However neither did England. And in the last 20 minutes Wales suddenly managed to pull it together. That might be because, by then, a large number of Ospreys had gone off injured (I still can't quite fathom how 13 players came from a team that a lying near the bottom of the league) . And, to an extent, England did self destruct, with wild passes going astray and a general lack of cohesion. But there has to be credit as well. Within 5 minutes of the start of the second half England were 19-6 ahead. At that point Wales looked dead in the water. It would have been easy for them to capitulate and for England to pile on the points. Instead Wales rallied, kept a belief, and came back again and again. And then finally managed to bring it together and show good running rugby and adventure. The last ten minutes were nerve wracking, my heart trying to beat out of my chest as an unbelievable result turned into reality.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Bare Essentials

German (it had to be didn't it) tourists can now book to take part in the worlds inaugural "naked flight". Although you have to wear clothes in the airport, the moment you are on board the plane you can strip off. The rules of the flight - the crew will remain clothed at all times, no hot drinks will be served, and no ogling or groping (differentiating between eyes wide open in fear or ogling may be difficult).

And the cost, they admit is expensive. It's the reason why that worries me. "Because the plane's very small". Now, my ever increasing experience of planes is that you tend to get a bit too close to your neighbour anyway, it is impossible to avoid bits touching. And on a small plane. I am cringeing just thinking about it. Although, thinking about it, it isn't the first flight that is the problem, it is the return, sitting on a warm seat which has half an hour earlier had someone elses sweaty bottom parked on it. Rubbing back and for from the turbulence. Eww.

{This post was not deamed suitable for graphic supporting material]

Know Your Films

Whoops, it would appear that Woolies haven't been employing movie buffs. At least, so you would have to think after hearing that they were selling a bed for six-year olds. A range that they had decided, in their wisdom, to call "Lolita". The Lolita midsleeper combi is the kind of PR coup that marketeers dread.