Saturday, May 31, 2008

Nims Island

I had said I wasn't going to see it. I saw the clips and had decided it was a chick flick. But how can I refuse the little person who bought me flowers. So we went to see it today. My gut instinct was entirely correct. Not a good film. It never really gets going. The whole thing is really just an extended beginning. It doesn't even reach a middle, let alone an end. "A" enjoyed it though, which was at least something.

Friday, May 30, 2008

London Calling

It is reported that Gordon Brown is taking his "getting in touch with the people" motif seriously. To the extent that he is cold calling people who have written or emailed 10 Downing Street. Now, I have to admit that I am not entirely convinced that this is a good use of his time. At 20 people a week it is goinig to take a while to reach critical mass if he really feels this will swing the votes. I would have thought that he should have some slightly more pressing matters on his mind. That aside, calling people at 0600 hrs may actually show a lack of connection. The majority of us are either are asleep at that time, and not wanting to be woken, or are rushing around trying to get ready to go to work while realising that you have poured coffee on your cornflakes and milk in the cafetiere.

I'm wondering how you'd get him off the phone as well. It might be worth reading him a few pages from Cheries autobiography. Alternatively asking for a wee donation towards your petrol money. Of course, a peerage would be out of the question.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Welcome Home

Well, I got home, after a few days away, to find a treasure hunt laid out for me. I was sent from room to room. "Go to where you cook", "go to where you watch rugby", "go to where a little girl sleeps" etc. I followed the trail wondering what I would find. And at the end there were two bunches of flowers for me. Now, a heartless Daddy would tell his daughter that it is unusual to buy flowers for men. I can vouch that I am not heartless.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I

I am
A moment
In a memory
A flash
In the pan
A tense
Muscle
Waiting to explode

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dodgy Reference - Look Away Now

In a hotel this evening. Got in the elevator. It was made by Schindler. Now that's interesting, I thought, "Schindlers Lift".

England v New Zealand - Old Trafford

Watching, or listening to, England play cricket is a roller-coaster. Somehow England won today. It was like pulling a rabbit from a hat. They had done so badly that yesterday at lunchtime it seemed impossible that they would do anything other than lose. The problem is that they play so badly that it is difficult to feel pleased in a victory. They almost deserved to lose. Really not sure how they avoided it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

So So La

No, sorry, definitely disappointed. I wanted Bosnia to win.

But, I would just like to point out to all those countries that didn't vote for the UK, we have saved at least half of you from terrible dictators at some point or other.

Friday, May 23, 2008

So La

I am looking forward to Eurovision tomorrow night. I have got over the disappointment of the Irish turkey (Dustin, see below) not making it through the semi-final. It is such a strange event, and at moments quite unbelievable. But for a while I have been trying to understand the block voting. Countries that have been at almost eternal war and who you would imagine have no love lost between them seem to go and give each other maximum points.

It's been explained in a way I can understand today. It is a result of countries not being able to vote for themselves. So what happens is the votes go to the biggest minorities in each country. Who are the biggest minority in Germany - Turkey, so they get the points. Who are the biggest minority in Latvia - Russia, so they get the points. It all now makes sense (well, the voting if not the music).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May Contain Nuts - John O'Farrell

I found this particularly disappointing. Having been lent it by a friend with good reviews I was expecting to be laughing out loud. Instead I read something that simply tried to play on stereotypes. And in doing so was a grotesque caricature. The idea that public schools are only interested in themselves while comprehensives try to bring out the most in children are completely opposite to my own experiences. It portrays the middle class as striving to achieve more while not looking for the enjoyment in life. I found it directly insulting, not because of the subject but because of the approach.

Now, considering other reviews I have seen, I will probably be accused of being a middle class snob. However I don't push my daughter to do what she doesn't want. I try to give her some "whatever" time (although she is the one always wanting to be on the go). When she wanted to stop ballet then it was her decision. And when it comes to school I want her to have the best education, and when I say best I mean the fullest, including understanding the world around her.

You will laugh if you have an axe to grind, or a chip on your shoulder. But anyone who wants to see the best in peopple and not to pigeon hole them will struggle.

Wistfull

I remember Wistmans Wood well. I used to go there a lot when I lived in Devon. However one occassion sticks especially in my mind. Note that the picture says that the wood is 25 minutes walk from the parking. Not too far we can all agree. One day I went for a walk there and took my dog, a large Flat Coated Retriever. We had a nice walk. We got to the wood. We wandered around. Then, somehow, the stupid animal twisted his leg. He couldn't walk at all. I had to carry him back. I can promise it took longer than 25 minutes getting back.

Monday, May 19, 2008

MeTube

Oh my. You have got to ask just how desperate can he get. We now have "Ask the PM" on You Tube. It strikes of the Blairite "Cool Brittania". It is so contrived as to be painful. I don't know how he is planning to answer the questions, but the concept is simply odd. And the comment that politicians get a chance so it is now our turn! Oh dear.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

You're The Best Thing - The Style Council

Fantastic song, terrible video

Heartbeat - Scouting For Girls

Last time I just told you to go and watch the video, thought I'd give you the lyrics as well.

Am I alone in your heart?
Have I hope with your heart?
She's such a teaser, she's such a star.
Give me a reason or gimme a chance.
Am I alone in your heart, or am I alone...?
It tears me apart.Am I alone?
Doing all I can do, just to be close to you.
Every time that we meet, I skip a heartbeat.
Always up for a laugh, she's a pain in the arse.
Every time that we meet, I skip a heartbeat.
Give me an evening, or give me a night.
I'll show you the time, of your life.
I'll walk you home safe, from the dark.
I'll give you my jacket, I'll give you my heart.
But she won't come dancing tonight,
She's having the time of her life.
Am I alone?
Doing all I can do, just to be close to you.
Every time that we meet, I skip a heartbeat.
Always up for a laugh, she's a pain in the arse.
Every time that we meet, I skip a heartbeat.
I do love, she does heartbreak.
I did love, till she broke my heart.
I do love, she does heartbreak.
I did love, till she broke my heart.
I do love, she does heartbreak.
I did love, till she broke my heart.
I do love, she does heartbreak.
I did love, till she broke my heart.
Doing all I can do, just to be close to you.
Every time that we meet, I skip a heartbeat.
Always up for a laugh, she's a pain in the arse.
Every time that we meet, I skip a heartbeat.
I skip a heartbeat for you.
Doing all I can do, just to be close to you.
Every time that we meet, I skip a heartbeat.
Always up for a laugh, she's a pain in the arse.
Every time that we meet, I skip a heartbeat.
I skip a heartbeat for you

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Bit Late

I think that it was in reference to Anthony Eden that someone said he was like a horse that had been perfectly trained to win the Derby, the only problem being he was entered ten years too late. It is a thought well suited to our current Prime Minister.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bang Bang

I don't know about you, I find it easy to forget how long ago the victory in Iraq was declared. But this all began (and officially ended) back in 2003. Since the beginning of the invasion there have been 176 British casualties. But this pales into insignificance when compared to America. Since the announcement of "mission accomplished" (1st May 2003) there have been 3938 US casualties. The war only lasted about 1.5 months, with approximately 150 american casualties during that time. Probably over 1 million Iraqis have died.

It is important not to forget.

Home Dear

I run the risk of being shot down in flames by what I post below. I feel a bit of explanation necessary. I may, however, still be shot down.

What follows is from "How to be the Perfect Wife" by Helen Andelin, published in 1965. It is easy to dismiss it as a piece of its time, before equality was understood. It is easy to say we have come a long way from here.

But I want you to think about it. Change the title from "How to be the Perfect Wife" to "How to be the Perfect Partner". Think that the messages it contains can pertain to both sexes, both members of a partnerhip. The world we live in sees marriages struggling. It sees more divorces and more failed relationships. Why is that? Is it because, in the fast and rapid moving world we exist in, we have forgtten these skills? Have we forgotten that we need to support each other? Forgotten that we need to give each other time? Is it possible that someone in a relationship saying "slow down, relax" is actually essential. Working life has become more frantic, more urgent, with mobile phones and email ever knocking at our door, is it not even more important that someone takes the responsibility in a relationship to do the breathing?


GET YOUR WORK DONE
Plan your tasks with an eye on the clock. Finish or interrupt them an hour before he is expected. Your anguished cry, "Are you home already?" is not exactly a warm welcome.


HAVE DINNER READY
Plan ahead, even the night before to have a delicious meal, on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospects of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.


PREPARE YOURSELF
Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives. This will also make you happy to see him instead of too tired to care. Turn off the worry and be glad to be alive and grateful for the man who is going to walk in. While you are resting you can be thinking about your Fascinating Womanhood assignment and all you can do to make him happy and give his spirits a lift. When you arise, take care of your appearance. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift.


CLEAR AWAY THE CLUTTER
Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up school books, toys, paper, etc. in a bucket or wastebasket and put them in the back bedroom for sorting later. Then run a dustcloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order and it will give you a lift too. Having the house in order is another way of letting him know that you care and have planned for this homecoming.


PREPARE THE CHILDREN
Take just a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small) comb their hair, and if necessary change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them look the part.


MINIMIZE ALL NOISE
Especially give heed to this if your husband has to join rush hour traffic. At the time of his arrival eliminate noise of washer, dryer, dishwasher or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet at the time of their father's arrival. Let them be a little noisy beforehand to get it out of their system.


BE HAPPY TO SEE HIM
Greet him with a warm smile and act glad to see him. Tell him that it is good to have him home. This may make his day worthwhile. If there is any romance left in you, he needs it now.


SOME DON'TS
Don't greet him with problems and complaints. Solve the problems you can before he gets home and save those you must discuss with him until later in the evening.
Also, don't complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as a minor problem when compared with what he might have gone through that day.
Don't allow the children to rush at him with problems or requests. Allow them to briefly greet their father but save demands for later.


MAKE HIM COMFORTABLE
Have him lean back into a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to massage his neck and shoulders and take off his shoes. Don't insist on this however. Turn on music if it is one of his pleasures. Speak in a soft, soothing, pleasant voice. Allow him to relax - to unwind.


LISTEN TO HIM
You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first, then he will be a more responsive listener later.


MAKE THE EVENING HIS
Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and to relax. If he is cross or irritable, never fight back. Again, try to understand his world of strain.


THE GOAL
Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit. Then add to this the application of all the principles of Fascinating Womanhood and your husband will want to come home. He will rather be with you than with anyone else in the world and will spend whatever time he can possibly spare with you. Try living all of these rules for his homecoming and see what happens. This is the way to bring a man home to your side, not by pressure, persuasion or moral obligation.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Testament of Gideon Mack - James Robertson

This was long-listed for the Man Booker prize in 2006. I think I understand why it didn`t get further.

A difficult book to get into at the beginning. The prologue doesn`t help it start (the prologue is there to set the scene). However things improve as you get past the prologue and into the story. Once listening to the main character, Gideon Mack, you are drawn into his rather sad world. Many sons of the manse would probably deny that Gideon is a product of his upbringing, but it can,t go unnoticed. An early failure to understand his father, or for his father to understand him, sets a chain of events in progress and it is almost inevitable that Gideon should follow his father into the Church.

This is definitely the story of someone struggling to understand the world he is in, and never really managing to grasp any meaning. Do the events really happen to hi, or are they the result of a deranged mind. We never get a true answer. In fact, at the end we are presented with further questions. As part of his recounting is finally revealed as a lie, the lie makes it harder to place the other events. The lie told is in an unexpected direction and it is hard to see what purpose it holds in this complicated life.

Despite the slow start, I found myself getting drawn in, trying to understand more. I still don`t understand what the author is trying to tell us, but maybe that doesn`t matter. Do we read to learn about the author, to simply escape for a while, or to learn about ourselves by the questions that are raised.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stretch Two Three

Still trying to keep going with the Wii Fit. And it would appear to be working. I feel I am standing much straighter, the yoga is doing my posture the world of good, and thus helping my back. It may be psychological but I don't care as long as it works. The only problem is fitting it in. There isn't much time in the day so I end up having to do it once "J" has gone to bed. So it is now 2355 hrs and I have just finished. I suspect that I shouldn't be doing it so late but I can't see much in the way of options (and before you suggest it, no I can't get up earlier, my alarm goes off at 0645 hrs and I consider that too early).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Four Faults

Well, no not four. We went to the Royal Windsor Horse Show today. It was a shakey start as we went to the main ring to watch some show jumping. There were a couple of names competing that I was eager to see. Sadly "A" got bored quickly. This rather surprised me as she can watch jumping at the riding school for ages. A five year olds brain is difficult to fathom however. It may have been more that she wanted to do other things. Anyway, relented and we allowed her to climb up the army wall, she did quite well actually. Then had a bit of a wander. Found the fairground and let her have a go on two rides. Then, after a bit of shopping, made our way back to the main ring. This time she enjoyed it. Whether this was because she had done other things, or whether it was because it was the Shetland Pony racing followed by the Horseguards display (all rather more colourful than the jumping) I can't say. We then went to get an ice-cream (hmm, suddenly wondering why you would want to know this, but I shall continue), a few more bits and pieces then back to the ring again. This time to watch the Pony Club competition (and see the Queen, which excited "A" as well). "A" started supporting Wales with me, but when England finally pulled ahead she shifted over to lean against Mummy and started shouting for England. Fickle child (who also started supporting Northern Ireland, and I have no idea why). Then finally the Kings artillary. If you have ever seen this you will know it ends with them firing their guns. Boy, did "A" jump!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Roasting

Well, not quite. But the first barbecue of the year for our household. Turned it on (gas job) about an hour before needed to let it get really hot and kill off any bacteria which had found it a nice home over the winter. Then tried to wash off the dirt. OK, in hindsight that was the wrong way round. My arms got well steamed. But, anyway, that over, everything ready. Burgers, sausages and vegetable kebabs. Very nice. Slightly defeated the object by eating it indoors but regular readers will know of our Saturday tradition of all watching a film together. 4 hours later and no sign of food poisoning yet.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick

For Sal

Airwolf and Pink Floyd

Live Again

For the last two nights I have tried playing "Second Life". And I have to admit it has done absolutely nothing for me. I generally like MMPORGs. I find them fun. But I think the important thing is the escapism. As far as I can tell "Second Life" really is that, except that you can fly. And, to be honest, it isn't a second life I am after. This one occupies me enough and, to be honest, sometimes leaves me jaded. What I want is something different. Something that is completely alternate. Unles anyone can convince me otherwise I can't see me going back to Second Life.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Here Be Dragons

Sadly not one of my pictures

Monday, May 05, 2008

Leg It

We went to the Black Country Museum today. At one point we almost turned around to find an indoor venue as the weather was horrible. But it did improve and the majority of the day was fine. Not sure how much "A" really enjoyed it, possibly saved by the funfair and the helter-skelter. I, on the other hand, had a great time. Mainly because we went on the canal boat trip into Dudley tunnel. And on the way back the pilot started explaining about the art of "legging". This is where the crew would "walk" the barge through tunnels (obviously the horses couldn't go through) by lying down and placing their feet on the tunnel wall, then pushing off. Something I have always wanted to do. Then he asked. The pilot said "does anyone want a go?" Well doh, yeah. I stick my hand up and say "yes please". The other 40 odd people on board gave a collective sigh because this meant going out of the tunnel to let another boat in then returning to have a chance at legging. Thus adding 10 minutes on the trip. But I don't care, because I loved it. A second person agreed and that was all we needed. We started legging the boat out of the tunnel. Very hard work (especially when the pilot put the engine running against us). My legs were quite wobbly by the end. And to think that they would do this for 4 hours at a time.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

All Ears

It was interesting listening to Brown on the news today. In response to the local elections, he understands how we feel. What he plans to do is listen to us, to get out amongst us. Well sorry, but he has already used this line. When Blair resigned then Brown said he wanted to listen to the nation. He did a tour of duty then. Well, did he not listen properly, did he not pick up on what we wanted? And I don't want a Prime Minister who "understands", I want one who can address the needs, who can make sure we move forward in the right direction, who can make sure the right decisions are made.

The results were bad. But the response worse.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Mints With the Holes


We took "A" to a polo match today. I have wanted to go to one for ages and with her current interest in horses thought it might be fun. She enjoyed the picnic, and playing with the binoculars, but I would ahve to say it wasn't a success. She got bored early on as there wasn't enough to keep her interest. I, however, had a great time.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Deet

There are many things you may want to say about the youth of today. You may feel that they lack respect. You may feel that they are lazy. But you have to admit that they still show a resourcefullness that I would have been proud of.


The anti-teenager box, also known as the "Mosquito" or the Sonic Teenage Deterrant, works by emitting a sound between 15000 and 17000 Hz. This is too high pitched for adult ears but sends teenagers crackers. The sound is supposed to be so irritating that it drives them away, and it can even penetrate through headphones. The theory is that it is installed in areas where teenagers gather and cause a public nuisance.


Without doubt a good plan. But here is where the resourcefullness comes in. A sound that can't be heard by adults. Now, how could that be handy. Some rather inventive teenagers have actually gone up to the "Mosquito" and recorded the sound. They have then converted it into a ring tone for mobile phones. And passed it around all their mates. Changed the name to "Teen Buzz". And use it to alert each other to the arrival of text messages on their phone during class time. The teachers can't hear it so are oblivious to the texting going on around them. I think the phrase is "result".

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Trust Me

So the hotel we DID end up was completely different in every respect from the one that, luckily I believe, failed to keep me a room. Soon after checking in I looked to see what time breakfast was. It didn't start until 0700hrs. That was too late for us, one of the drawbacks of doing things on farm is that this can mean a relatively early start. I went to reception and explained the problem, the receptionist started by saying that no-one came in until 0700hrs, but then rapidly followed this up by saying she would ask the night porter to sort us out. She did, and he did. He was very pleasant and looked after us.

We were presented with another problem. In that he couldn't take payment for our stay. So I asked if we could all go and then I would come back after lunch, at an unspecified time, and settle for all four rooms. Fine they said. Do you want to swipe my card I said. No they said, you look as thoughyou can be trusted. So we left without paying.

And, thankfully, I remembered to go back there before driving home.

So, credit where due, it was the Georgian House Hotel, Norwich.

Life