Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting one over on the crims

I’ve been a bad blogger this week, no new posts since last Sunday, not because I didn’t want to but because I had so many things that I couldn’t decide which to write about.  Would I blog about my (in)famous weevil curry? Or would it be the problems of dealing with the BBC Central Payments Department who bring new meaning to the words ‘incompetent, effing fools’?  Or maybe my embarrassing meeting with members of the local shoot? All good blogging material but in the end I have decided on a post about my Crapmobile and more importantly a recent attempted theft from the aforementioned.

When we moved back from France I sent my beloved Grand Gasguzzler to new life in the sunny climes of Spain where hopefully the slightly less hilly terrain would alleviate the need for a new set of brake pads every six months and with no need for the weekly St Amans dash to catch the school bus, he could enjoy a slower pace of life.  This left us without a car. My sister-in-law is disabled and was about to get a new car through the Motability scheme and so she offered to give us her old one, a less than beautiful Renault 19 (Biarritz no less, the posh version) which will shortly celebrate it’s 16th birthday. Thinking that we’d be able to buy something a bit more classy within a few months we accepted her offer. 18 months later the by now renamed Crapmobile is still in residence.

Now, the Crapmobile is not a thing of beauty, having a liberal sprinkling of rust spots, a bit of missing trim and a dent in the passenger door but she is (notice this one is a she) quite honestly, the most reliable car I’ve ever owned. Through the coldest weather she starts on first turn of the key, has never broken down except on the two occasions I’ve left the headlights on but more of that later and the time that the brake pads disintegrated in the middle of the town. While the much newer Discovery pays regular visits to the Landrover Hospital, the Crapmobile defies the odds and in the words (almost) of the Spencer Davis Group just keeps on running. She even sailed through her MOT with just a small outlay for a bit of perished piping.

She has her foibles.  The alarm that alerts you of the fact that you’ve left the headlights on may or may not work. The interior light may or may no illuminate when you open the door. The central locking may or may not lock all the doors, often leaving one rear passenger door unlocked just for good measure.  The boot lid may or may not stay up as you load your shopping necessitating either chucking your bags through the rapidly diminishing gap or wearing a crash helmet.  Frustrating to some but it sure keeps you on your toes!  The heater works eventually but never quite gets hot enough for you to discard the hat, gloves and scarf that are more or less essential wear in the winter months and I’m sure there are plenty of other people who have to use de-icer on the inside of the windscreen (No?  Just me then!).  As testament to the general…. well…. crappiness of The Crapmobile, The Husband left it parked outside the house with the keys dangling from the driver’s door all weekend and no-one tried to steal it!

The Crapmobile is a constant source of embarrassment to The Boy.  He refuses to let me drop him off at school or at parties in The Crapmobile and the look of sheer horror when I hooted and waved at him with his new girlfriend the other day said it all. He actually told her that it must have been a case of mistaken identity because he had NO idea who that strange woman in the old banger was. Whenever he needs picking up he always requests that I bring the Landrover which, despite being not the newest model apparently has more cachet and is socially acceptable.

The Crapmobile’s piece de resistance is undoubtedly the cassette/radio.  I like a bit of background music in the car as I drive to work but in common with many if not most of us 21st century earthlings I don’t own a single cassette. Does anybody these days? The  local charity shops, usually the source of all those hard to find items like a navel fluff remover or 1970s fondue set complete with different coloured forks, could only  offer Matt Munro and Showaddywaddy, neither of which appealed. (Which reminds me. Did I ever tell you about the time I danced on stage with Showaddywaddy? Not my greatest moment!)  So that just leaves the radio for my in-car entertainment, unless I bought one of those Ipod thingummyjigs to plug into the cigarette lighter, but then I don’t think it works.

The radio only picks up Radio 1 and BBC Radio Wales – in Welsh – a fact not helped by the fact that The Husband accidentally broke off the aerial when he was washing it.  To be fair, every time we wash it another bit falls off.  Of the two radio stations, I almost prefer Radio Wales and feel sure I could now converse reasonably well with Blodwen Jones and her sister Myfanwy from llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch on the subject of microwave dinners.  Did you know that the colloquial word for microwave, especially in North Wales is ‘popty ping’? Isn’t that the most wonderful onomatopoeia?

However, my companion on my drive to work is usually Chris Moyles, who is to my day what salt is to open wounds and Vlad was to sharp implements. A smugger, more self-absorbed and quite frankly boring individual I would be hard pressed to find. How is this man worth £600,000 a year and how on earth did he not make it onto my list of slebs I’d like to punch (along with the uber-perky right-on Fearne Cotton)?  He broadcasts from a studio somewhere in the bowels of Broadcasting House surrounded by a bunch of sycophantic acolytes. His breakfast show is like eavesdropping on the conversation of a particularly tedious bunch of adolescents and by the time I reach work my voice is usually hoarse from shouting insults at him and my shoulders are so tense that I need a deep tissue massage. I often wonder why I put myself through it but then when the only other option is ‘Da bore chan BBC Radio Cymru’ my options are limited.

I got into the car the other day and reached for the radio. It wouldn’t turn on. Yet another vital part of the Crapmobile bites the dust.  I tried again and the plastic surround fell off. It was then that I noticed telltale gouges in the dashboard around the radio and the metal housing into which it is screwed was sporting some fetching crinkly edges. Clearly someone had attempted to steal the radio.  Poor, poor buggers!I haven’t laughed so much since my cousin, at the time an undischarged bankrupt, had his identity stolen. It’s so nice to get one up on the casual thief.  I’m almost sorry they didn’t steal it. It would be so nice to imagine them fitting it to their own pimped up, spoiler bedecked, gold wheeled, super-dooper sub-woofered 1985 BMW only to discover they’d wasted their time stealing a completely dud radio – unless of course they had an interest in learning the Welsh language.

“Well at least they didn’t steal my new toothbrush” said The Daughter cheerily pointing to it still sitting on the back seat.

To be honest, it was probably more valuable and far more use!

Sadly, our love/hate affair with The Crapmobile is soon to come to an end. The Husband, as part of my birthday present, has bought me an Audi A6 estate, not new but a veritable toddler compared to The Crapmobile. I was due to collect it on Friday but just before we arrived some dingbat reversed into the side of it so it sits awaiting the insurance assessor’s decision on new door or panel beating and the Crapmobile lives to drive another day.

And here's a far nicer one that ours!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Which 5 celebrities would you punch?

I've taken this idea from Very Bored in Catalunya and several other blogs that are circulating at the moment. It originally comes from Kate Takes 5 who organises a weekly 'Listography' meme, although for this week it is being hosted by Metal Mummy. You can read the original here and add you list at the bottom.

The question is, given a good legal team, or possibly immunity from prosecution, which 5 slebs would you like to punch. It could be a bitch slap or a full on sack tap, it doesn't matter, but given the chance, who would it be?

My top 5 would be

The Kardashians:

The who? I hear you shout. Exactly. Who the hell are the bloody Kardashians and why do they have a reality show on the TV. It's called Keeping Up with the Kardashians. But I don't want to.

But I don't want to!

The Kardashians are Kim, Kourtney and Khloe (I kid you not) and step sisters called Kylie, Kendall, Karrot, Koriander and Kumin - OK, OK I made the last ones up.  They are described as being 'celebutantes', which basically means they had a rich daddy and are famous for nothing.... no thing.... not a thing.  They appear on reality shows and slebrags, have perfume ranges and do sweet FA but for some reason, apparently, we wish to follow their every waking move, fart and visit to the toilet. Why, why, why?. Why should we have any interest in these witless dumbshites?  Please tell me.....

Gwyneth Paltrow:

Dear, dear Gwynnie. She called her first child Apple. As celebrity names go it's just plain stupid. It doesn't have the same ring to it as Fifi Trixibelle, Betty Kitten or Peaches Honeyblossom. It shows a complete lack of imagination. Why couldn't she have called her AppleCrumble Cupcakes Martin or something sensible?  She used to follow a macrobiotic diet until she had children but now she's really let herself go and even enjoys the very occasional piece of cheese and white flour.  Whoopee Doo! What a rebel!  But the worst thing she has done is to produce a hideous newletter called Goop (Poop might be a better name, or to be honest, just Shite) because OH MY GOD the world will stop turning on it's axis if we don't have her insightful snippets about how to live your life. It comes out every week and tell us what we should MAKE, DO, GO, GET OR SEE. Of course she doesn't really write it herself but probably leaves it to a bunch of pimply university students on work placements. Her current 'get' is a book on parenting because Gwynnie wants to be 'the best parent I can be'. Like the rest of us don't?  But the worst thing she has done is to try and give us poor plebs advice on how to be working mum - apart from having a multimillion dollar fortune to pay for all the staff we could need of course. The Curry Queen wrote a great post about Gwynnie's work/life balance missive last week. I urge you to read it but keep some tissues close by because you'll cry with laughter.  So, Gwynnie, here's what I think.  MAKE my day, DO us a favour, GET a life, GO boil your head and SEE if anyone cares!
Sod off Gwynnie!
Image courtesy of Wikipedia


Everybody's favourite - or not - tax evading climate evangelist with the carbon footprint of a brontosaurus. Oh god, where do I even start? How about with a lame joke.  What's the difference between God and Bono?  God doesn't think he's Bono.  Is there anyone more annoying in the world of music (well apart from Jedward - is this how the Irish are paying us back for taking the North, if so, you can have it back with Wales as a BOGOF).  Bono is a declension of Bonavox, Latin for good voice. Even his wife calls him Bono. I just call him a**ehole.

I had the misfortune to attend one of his concerts, for which, I hasten to add, I didn't pay for the ticket.  He lectured the crowd for what seemed like hours about global poverty while, at the same time, fleecing them of £75 per ticket.  He criticised the Irish government for not giving enough aid to Africa then at the same time moved his companies to The Netherlands where the tax regime is more favourable so he would have to pay less tax.  I'd love to think that when he told audiences at a concert that every time he claps his hands, another child dies in Africa somebody really did shout 'well stop effing clapping then' but sadly that can be traced back to a Jimmy Carr joke. Paul Theroux denounced him, and my other two favourites, the Jolie-Pitts as 'mythomaniacs, people who wish to convince the world of their worth and he was acccused of 'turning a global movement of justice into an orgy of narcissistic philanthopy. Many Africans believe he has actually made poverty worse. Whatever the truth is, you can't take seriously a man who never takes off his sunglasses, has his wife call him by his nickname and who evades his taxes at a time when Ireland is in terrible trouble, never mind Africa.

What a pair of muppets!
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
 Amy Winehouse:

I mean seriously, I've seen better looking corpses!

I'm not dead..... yet
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Miranda Kerr:

A bit of a strange one this as most people will probably not have heard of her but she is Orlando Bloom's Australian wife who models for Victoria's Secret. She's the latest of a long series of sleb mums to tell us all how she had her baby 'naturally' - as opposed to unnaturally I suppose - and without pain relief. If you go an have an ingrowing toenail removed you don't brag about how you did it without pain relief yet somehow childbirth is different.  She has been photographed getting her baps out to breastfeed her baby and tell us a la Gisele Bunchen how we must all do it. Personally I think I'm a bit old for it now.  This has spawned the inevitable comments about what a wonderful little sleb mummy she is, putting the drug-sucking rest of us to shame.  Poor Kate Winslet was even compelled to lie about her caesarean saying later "I just said I had a natural birth because I was so completely traumatised by the fact that I hadn't given birth. I felt like a complete failure". Oh shut up! Hadn't given birth? What did she have then, a babyectomy? On second thoughts maybe I'll punch her too!  Rent-a-midwife commented 'mothers who can't manage a drug-free birth shouldn't feel as if they are less of a woman'.  I don't thanks. I just don't get this 'hierarchy of birth'. What does it matter how your baby arrives as long as it's healthy.

Ms Kerr was extensively photographed during her pregnancy with headlines along the lines of 'well you wouldn't even know she's up the duff' but now having given birth to a 9lb 12 baby (Pah! The Boy was 10lb 13), miraculously only a few pounds lighter than she is, she'll probably have a belly that looks like a tiger has mauled it. Hooray, there is a god!

"My birth was better than your birth
nah, nah, nah, nah, naaaaaah"
Image nicked from her website

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Stylish Blogger Award - 7 things you didn't know about me

When Mother Hen presented me with the lovely Stylish Blogger award, I was in the midst of a chest infection and hadn't got out of my PJs for three days. Stylish I wasn't but it made me feel better so thank you for that.  As part of the award, you get to learn 7 things about me, you lucky, lucky people!   So here goes....

1.  I came into this world in Iran where my dad was on secondment from BP to the National Iranian Oil Company and my mum was working as a nurse - they had met and married before going to Iran.  One day I would love to go back, especially to put flowers on my brother's grave.  I've also lived in Bahrain, Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus and most recently France - the only place I couldn't really settle.  That's probably more than one thing but I'm in charge here!

2.  I once sat on the shoulders of  the uber-moustachioed Murray Mexted of the All Blacks and sang 'Hi Ho Silver Lining'. It was at the Bahrain Rugby Club which was a place where few left sober.   It's fair to say that we were a tad squiffy but Mr M, who stands a towering 6'5, didn't realise that every time he jumped up and down to the song he was bashing my head on the ceiling.  I nearly ended the evening with concussion. Earlier in the day, I had been inadvertently tackled on the side lines by one of his team-mates. In a sliding tackle he took out myself and my friend Jennifer, spilling our beers which we both considered to be very unneighbourly.  Jen got the rough end of the deal with a find pair of stud marks in her leg but fortunately the alcohol had numbed the pain.  It's a dangerous game this rugby!

3.  Still on a rugby theme, I went to Australia for the very first rugby World Cup in 1989. In those days it was played in small provincial grounds around Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.  I went (shock... horror) with my ex-boyfriend who was, by this time, seeing another girl. Well it wasn't my fault, we'd already bought the tickets.  We were caught snogging on international television at a game in Brisbane. By the time I got back to Bahrain my answering machine had run out of tape with all the 'OMG... we SAW you!' messages, including one from his new girlfriend. Not my best move to be fair!  I love rugby though.  If The Boy had taken up football I'd have to have put him up for adoption but wisely he chose rugby, playing at number 5. I love my Sundays screaming on the sidelines at his matches.  I can out-shout any man!

4.  I once sang on stage with Lucian Pavarotti.... OK, well me and several hundred others but it sounds good!  I was also a 'heavenly voice' in 'The Planets Suite' conducted by Sir Georg Solti at the Royal Albert Hall.
5.  When I was 15 I spent the summer in Switzerland and partied with Queen and David Bowie. Somewhere I still have a photo of myself, Tony Visconti the record producer and David Bowie. I wasn't a great Bowie fan so I didn't really realise the significance

6.  And continuing the musical theme, I appeared in the Status Quo 1989 tour diary. It was when I was an air stewardess and the Quo were doing a warm up tour in the Middle East. We were so starved of entertainment, The Vienna Boys Choir and the Swinging Blue Jeans were the best we could get,  that they could always be assured of a good, appreciative and largely drunken audience. They were travelling to Dubai in First Class and the captain and first officer asked me to get them signed photos. I hate all that autograph stuff, even when I worked at Shepperton Studios I never asked anyone,  so I was very loathe to ask them. Not only that but their music had blighted my early years. My brother was a huge Quo fan and the three chord wonders were the unwanted soundtrack to my teenagehood so I had a bit of a bone to pick with them.  Under duress I asked for signed photos for the Captain, F/O and my brother.  Rick Parfitt asked why I didn't want one myself so I told him. He appreciated my candour. Some wouldn't.  We had a good laugh and they were all really nice people, in fact I spent most of the flight perched on the arm of his seat chatting.  He asked me my name and put me in the diary that they keep on every tour. So there I am, a little piece of musical history!

7.  I did Russian ballet until I was in my 20s at Miss Coneybear's School of Russian Ballet, daaaahhhlink.  She used to make me sit cross legged then stand on my knees and bounce up and down. It was to improve my turnout. I think I'd probably need hip replacements before long! Her other trick was to sweep her big wooden stick below our feet during our entre'chat quatres, moving it progressively higher and higher so we had to jump or get a sound rapping of our ankles.  It was bloody torture. In my last year of classes, we had a (male) student from the Royal Ballet come to practice with us during the summer break.  It was an adult ballet class.  When he finally stripped off his ballet trousers and stood, resplendent in tights and a dance belt, well, I've never seen so many grown women act in such an unseemly manner!  Dance belts are, of course, intended primarily to support the bits but they are also partly to disguise the dancers 'contours' which might otherwise prove too much of a distraction.  If you think of jockstrap crossed with Magic Pants thong to avoid any unnecessary VPL you'll get the idea. They are not the most attractive garments. Still, not enough to prevent unneccessary distraction in that class!

Now, I have to pass this award on to some blogs I have just found so I've selected A Modern Military Mother, who's blog I only started to read yesterday. As I live in a garrison town, the military is very much part of the landscape here. So AMMM, this one is for you. Projectforty is another West Country blogger whose blog I have just started to read and I hope she'll accept this li'l award too.

I'd also like to give it to Vera at Labartere. Although I've been reading her blog for some time it is one of my favourite ones to enjoy over a leisurely coffee. It has a certain serenity to it that I just love. So Vera, take this with my best wishes for your life at Labartere in 2011.

I'm also going to tell you about another blog I discovered only recently. It is written by my neighbour, Tom Williams, who is a screenwriter.  His blog, which he admits to updating 'infrequently' gives a real insight into the coming together of a film.  Tom's first full length feature 'Chalet Girls', a 'snowmantic comedy' set in a ski resort in Switzerland,  is due to open in the UK on 18th March so YOU MUST ALL GO AND SEE IT.  It's a British film, something that is close to my heart and bank balance. Tom very kindly invited myself and The Husband to the opening but sadly, for my sins, it is the day I am taking The Girl to the X Factor Tour at the O2.  If you click here you'll find a trailer for the film, ignore the opening date as it has recently changed. Tweet it, join the Facebook page, do whatever you can but just go and see it.  I will blog about it more as the opening date approaches.

I know I'm supposed to award this to another 11 blogs I've recently found but I'm just too busy at the moment to spend the time to find them so if it's OK I'll present the award as an when I find them.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thank you Mother Hen!

Thank you Mother Hen for this lovely 'Stylish Blogger' award, the first for my new blog so I'm delighted - and it's nice to be considered stylish in one area of my life at least!  I shall attend to the requirements of the award in due course but right now I have a bed to put together

Monday, January 17, 2011

What's in a name?

Like the rest of the country I responded with unbridled joy (sort of) at the news that one of our national treasures was expanding. Not the British Library, not Hadrian's Wall and certainly not the Domesday Book. No, I mean those other  national treasures, Starving Spice and Golden Balls.  Yes, Brand Beckham are with child again.  To be honest, it's a miracle to me that someone as undernourished as she is actually managed to conceive, and she's nearly 36 to boot! What hope that must bring to women everywhere.  City high flyers will be turning back their body clocks safe in the knowledge that she has defied the experts who say your ova are dried up and useless well before your 30th birthday.  Victoria, who put the Posh in 'too posh to push' will, no doubt be consulting David's diary to arrange a suitable date for delivery. God it's so much easier than Amazon isn't it? You just give them a time and a date and rock up. There's no waiting around all day or paying extra for a Saturday delivery.

After three boys the Boring  Beckhams are apparently hoping for a girl, or maybe they'll just do what they did before and give their boy a girl's name in another language. After all, who would know? Surely they won't blight the poor child's life by naming it after the place of conception.  'Mattress', 'Back Seat of Car' and 'Quick Shag in Tom and Katie's wet room' just don't do it. But when you've named your first boy after a New York suburb, your second after a Shakespearean suicide victim and your third after a type of holiday favoured by the elderly ... Oh, sorry, it's Cruz, not Cruise.... what could they possibly call a daughter, should they be lucky enough to have one?

Well, that's where I come in you see.   I've found some simply perfect names for the Beckhams to consider and I'm so excited about them that I might just try and track down their PR to make sure they get them. What do you think?

I think there are some real contenders there, don't you?  Thanks to The Girl (or should that be The Guuuuuurrrrlllll) for finding this on YouTube. From here on, please just call me Watermelondrea!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rampaging hormones and adolescent angst - and that's just in the henhouse!

A funny thing happened in the henhouse.  Colin, one of our two Black Orpington cockerels went from being pre-teen chicken to full grown in-you-face cockerel in what seemed to be a matter of days.  During the snow, they refused to go outside, preferring the relative warmth and dryness of their home in the piggery to venturing forth across the frozen, snowy wasteland of their chicken run.

Every morning I'd open up the door and Dot or Delilah, (I don't actually mean one or the other, I just can't tell them apart unless they stand side by side so Delilah can show off her bigger feet!), our buff Orpingtons would do a quick recce of the outside world.  Snow meant she would turn her back in a flounce of feathers and annouce (I presume) to her henhousemates that today they would be having a duvet day. No amount of coaxing or bribing could change their minds, they were staying in and that was that!

We'd feed and water them inside the piggery which has no lighting, pigs not being particularly partial to a spot of light reading before bedtime, and then at night do a headcount to make sure no brave bird had made a break for freedom and shut them up.  It meant that for the best part of a week, our hens were little more than outlines in the gloom and the piggery became distinctly squishy underfoot. How do hens manage to poo so much?

Finally the day dawned that the snow melted. Delilah (or Dot) announced that today they would venture forth into the outside world.

One by one they trooped down the ladder into their run. First came Cookie, our little Lemon Cuckoo bantam cock, small but perfectly formed, followed by Delilah and Dot (but not necessarily in that order) swishing their feathery bottoms, sure in the knowledge of their beauty and then Martha and Mavis, the two Black Orpington pullets, equally impossible to tell apart as their ginger friends, pushing their way down the ladder two abreast like a couple of unrulyl teenagers. Bringing up the rear was Dilly, the only surviving Lavender Orpington and the baby of the henhouse and adopted daughter of Dot (or is it Delilah?)

But hang on a minute, what was this? Strutting down the ladder, resplendent in his black plumage came Colin who only a few days previously was a grumpy adolescent.  The greyish comb and wattle now twice the size and fiery red, the spiky tail now a fountain of irridescent black feathers. He was all 'man' and proud!  He puffed out his chest, threw back his head, opened wide his beak and crowed.  It sounded like a comedy ghost from an old Scooby Doo cartoon, more a wail than a crow.  Oh well, it's not perfect but it's a start!  Behind him came Clark, younger by a few weeks, still in that gawky teenager stage, his comb not quite red, his tail a bit like a bad haircut. Not to be outdone by his masculine housemate he gave the crowing a go. It was more like a strangled cat.  He looked slightly embarrasses, his wings drooped and he fairly stomped off to sulk in a corner.

Once out in the run with the girls, he could barely wait to give free rein to his cockerelly urges.  Sneaking up on Dot and Delilah, unfortunately the only two fully mature hens, and without so much as a 'what's your name' or an evening of romantic courtship at Jamie Oliver's new restaurant in Bath, in fact, before either had even finished their breakfast, he had his wicked way with them, pecking furiously at the startled birds.  Now I should say, and I know some may find this shocking, <whispering> my girls have previous 'history' if you know what I mean.  Cookie has been getting up to no good with them for some time now but being a vertically challenged bantam to their statuesque build his ministrations are somewhat gentler and more delicate, if only because any sudden movements mean he falls of his amoreuse and she makes a bolt for the undergrowth leaving his clucking frustratedly.  Colin, on the other hand was all 'wham, bam, thank you ma'am',  leaving them shaking their feathers in a very 'well I never did!' fashion.

So far the men get on well. Cookie, despite his diminutive size, has firmly established himself as 'head cock' and Colin is happy to take the number two spot.  The only problem comes when Clark reaches full 'cockhood' which is, I think, only a matter of weeks. If Mavis and Martha are still not quite on the boil  (figuratively not literally I mean) then that just leaves poor Dot and Delilah to deal with the attentions of three cockerels and I'm not sure I want my beautiful girls suffering a daily gang rape. Even The Husband has noticed that Colin has a bit to learn on the wooing front and that his violent assaults are not necessary but he has so far resisted requests to do the needful to either Clark or Colin so they are less 'cock of the walk' and more 'cock au vin' (sic). It's not that he is averse to the whole chicken despatching thing, he does it regularly for a friend (I mean for her hens!), it's just that he thinks that they are too beautiful for such a fate - and he does have a point.  There is no finer sight than Colin strutting around the orchard while the girls make eyes at him.  Colin the Cockerel he may be but he's the Colin Farrell of the chicken world, ruggedly handsome but with just a hint of danger.  I couldn't bear to eat him.  So if anyone wants a rather splendid black cockerel who is sure to keep the ladies happy let me know.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Kenneth Tong - D*ckhead Extraordinaire!

Just when I thought that Jade Goody (gawd rest 'er soul) was the worst possible thing to come out of Big Brother, that bastion of all that is good and pure in this great country.... not, along comes Kenneth Tong, late of Hong Kong, contestant in BB10 apparently, international playboy (according to him), alleged cheater of charities, alleged sex pest and champion of 'managed anorexia'. Yes, you heard me right, managed anorexia. This is apparently what you need to do to achieve his idea of perfection, a size zero.

For the past few days, the rather dimwitted Mr Tong has been flooding Twitter with tweets about his new Size Zero slimming pill, apparently to be stocked by Harrods.  This is, I should say, news to them and they have categorically denied it.

Take Mr Tong's tablets and you can change you life, he says. You sure can. They are, in fact, tablets meant for asthmatic horses, not passed for human use by either the FDA in the US or the Medicine Control Agency in the UK. Take them and you'll change your life for good, better still, you really will get thin. The only problem is that you'll be decomposing because you'll most likely be dead.

According to Mr Tong, fat women are failures and every woman longs to be a size zero.  Happiness is a size zero. What? Like Nicole Ritchie, who single-handedly does more for the US rehab industry than any other person but never mind, she's a size zero you know!

Some of his more 'sage' tweets include

Thankful for this global opportunity to help girls all over the world know that to be skinny is to be perfect & to be fat is unacceptable.

Hope my size zero & managed anorexia message gets global; thin people too busy being successful whilst the fat hate and just ate.

As readers will know, I'm no fan of slebs, but in this case they get the thumbs up. Stars as diverse as Rihanna (who Mr Tong suggested might benefit from his Size Zero pills), Aggro Santos and Rochelle Wiseman of The Saturdays have heavily criticised him.  Mr Drongo contacted Simon Cowell to join his Size Zero campaign, probably reasoning that as he'd employed the emaciated Mrs David Beckham (who's weight is a barometer of the state of her marriage) as a guest judge on American Idol.  Simon Cowell responded "Twitter has a new village idiot. In fact he doesn't even deserve the village. He's an idiot.".  Crashed and burned, Mr Tong! Curiously Mrs B is reported to have refused to use size zero models in her fashion shows while looking like this......

In reply to a former anorexic who criticised his beliefs, the slimy Mr Tong replied "I read you essay. Well done on your desire to be size zero but had your anorexia been managed you'd have been fine". I mean what a total.... a total.... I really can't find a word that does my feeling of disgust for Mr Tong justice. Well done on your mental illness, boy, he's something else!

Mr Tong tells us that 'managed anorexia is a lifestyle, not a diet'. WRONG, Mr Tong, anorexia is a mental illness.

One of my neighbours as a child was anorexic. I shall never forget her constantly bleeding heels and the metal cage she had to sleep under as just the weight of the blankets rubbed her bones through her skin. Nor her death at the age of 32 leaving three young children without their mother.  One of my schoolmates developed anorexia after a very traumatic childhood. I shall never forget the weekly letters she sent to the class during the six months that she was confined to a mental hospital - this was long before the days of specialist food disorder units - and her irrepresible humour in the face of her hideous surroundings, nor when she was finally allowed back to school and was still so thin and weak that she could barely walk. This is the reality of anorexia.

Isabelle Caro is the reality of anorexia. This is what it did to her.

French model Isabelle Caro before
she lost her battle with anorexia

And when she appeared in an ad
campaign following the death of an Italian model
from anorexia

This is what size zero looks like. Size zero is the average waist size of an 8 year old

Nicole Ritchie - looks happy doesn't she!

Size Zero model - shame on the fashion industry

This is Rihanna, who Mr Tong thinks is fat

Who do you think is most beautiful?

As the mother of a teenage daughter, I am more than aware of the constant diet of sleb mags who, while claiming to support the drive to make girls happy with their body shape regardless, still run pieces on X's cellulite and 'OMG look how much weight Y has put on! There is constant pressure on young girls to conform to an unrealistic body shape.

The Girl is just 13 and pushing 5'8. She takes after my mother who had a body like Rita Hayworth, full bust, nipped in waist, curvy hips. In years to come she'll realise just how lucky she is to have a body like this, topped off with almost waist length blonde hair and blue eyes. I think she's beautiful. At 13 she would rather be 5 foot, flat chested and a stick insect like most of her friends. She's too intelligent to want to be like the girl singers she loves but at the same time, as an adolescent who towers over her classmates, all she wants is a bit less of everything. 

I watch her constantly for any signs that she may be tending towards reducing her food intake.  Recently, she started leaving half the food on her plate and skipping meals. During the chaos of the run up to Christmas it went unnoticed until my mother picked up on it. It's no cause for concern just yet but we are keeping an eye on it. But that's how easily it can creep up on you and the likes of the vile Mr Tong just feed into it.  She's lucky, she has a close, loving family and parents who keep an eye on her but supposing she didn't. Suppose she had parents who worked full time and who weren't around for meal times, or who just didn't care? How easily will young girls get sucked into his revolting size zero world? Isn't there enough pressure on young girls today without an ignorant, self-seeking, poor excuse for a human being like him offering them dangerous, possibly fatal drugs with the promise of dropping 3 dress sizes in 3 weeks.  This is weight, incidentally, that will go straight back on once you stop taking the pills.

On the one hand, I was loathe to give any further publicity to this pathetic, mysogynistic little man, a man who apparently tweets photos of his restaurant bills and details of his sexual conquests, but on the other hand, I'm rather hoping that Mr Tong's desire for self-publicity might seriously backfire when he finds that he is the most loathed man on the planet.

Kenneth Tong... what a tosser!

UPDATE:  The stupid little weasel has now announced that it was all a hoax to see if he could become a global talking point within a week by harnessing the power of Twitter.  It was, in his words, 'a scientific survey'.  Well, that makes it alright then doesn't it? Well no, not really.  There is nothing big or clever about using mental illness to further his own deluded idea of his own importance.  Nor is there anything 'scientific' about it.  My own personal feeling is that he suddenly found being the biggest pillock in the Northern Hemisphere was a pretty lonely place so he backed down. It's easy to become a talking point by saying something disgusting and outrageous, by making fun of mental illness and by targetting an issue that is very sensitive to many young girls.  More difficult would have been to have garnered the same amount of publicity by saying something intelligent.  As I said before, Kenneth Tong... what a tosser!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Travels in my pyjamas....

So exactly what was I doing driving down the A36 towards Salisbury at 8.30 in the morning in my pyjamas? A good question indeed. I was, of course, trying to photograph the flaming partial eclipse.... as you do.

I don't know whether it's to do with getting older (although I should add that I am still in my 40s) but I seem to have a sudden need to witness rare astronomical events - just in case I'm not around for the next one. I should also add that I have little interest in astronomy. I stared blankly at my brother as he talked endlessly about Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' in the 1980s - he was one of those rare people who had actually read the book rather than just placed it on their coffee table to make them look intelligent. Later on in the same decade, his excitement at the publication of Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' was only matched by my lack of interest. To be honest, I'd rather have read the Bible in Aramaic or War and Peace in Alabanian. I can identify The Plough in the night sky, maybe even Cassiopaeia at a push but beyond that the Cosmos is something of a mystery to me. The only black hole I know is our Disastrous Disco, The Husband's beloved Landrover, which seems to swallow up our money like matter being sucked into one, quark is something you use in cooking and critical density just means you are very, very stupid, possibly fatally so!

I've been avidly watching 'Stargazing Live' with Dr Brian Cox and Dara O'Briain, chosen probably as the comedian with a head most like one of Jupiter's moons - or possibly because he could be a human representation of the 'No Hair' theorem.

Dr Brian is the youthful, modern face of physics and astronomy, a genuine 1990s pop star who now works on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland so there's hope for Kerry Katona yet! (Extra points to anyone who can name the band he was in and their biggest hit without resorting to Wikipedia).

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I was relieved to hear him tell us that the the Mayans didn't apparently know anything and the world will not end in 2012 after we've forked out all that money for the Olympics. That in itself made it worth watching. I watched fascinated as he took us on a tour of the Universe, teased us with Red Dwarfs and  Neutron Stars and told us time and time again that it's dangerous to look directly at the sun, just in case we didn't know, for there was  a partial eclipse coming.

The day of the partial eclipse dawned reasonably fair in West Wiltshire and from The Boy's bedroom I could see the orange glow of the sun appearing over the horizon but, damn and blast, I couldn't get a clear view because of some inconveniently placed trees.  The Husband returned from the school run and I was suddenly seized by an irrational urge to photograph this eclipse but there was no time to spare. "Do you mind if I go and photograph the eclipse in the next village?" I asked, thinking of the perfect spot with no trees to block my view.  Grabbing a coat and a camera and the only shoes I could lay my hands on, a rather incongruous pair of velvet stilletos,  I jumped into the Disastrous Disco and headed off towards the horizon.  There was one small glitch in my plan.  The 'perfect spot' was actually facing North so the sun was coming up to my right, hidden behind more bloody trees.  I jumped back in the Disco and headed off towards the sun. Every time I got a decent view it disappeared behind a hill - the downside of living in a valley and before I knew it I was on the A36 heading to Salisbury, still in my pyjamas. 

The sun taunted me, disappearing to left and right but never clearly showing it's sunny smile and the nearer I got to Salisbury, the thicker the cloud got.  I turned off into a village which I knew had open views across the Downs.  It also has a large lake and lakes in winter often mean mist. As I neared the centre of the village, the surrounding landscape was swallowed up by a thick, swirling pea souper. The sun was nothing more than a fuzzy orange glow.  Worse still, I found myself practically outside the house of The Boy's first love.  Teenage relationships are difficult enough without having to explain away the presence of your mother in her nightwear driving round her village.

Despondent, I decided to head home keeping a firm eye on the rear view mirror just in case. Sure enough as I reached a point in the road where stopping meant certain death I caught the merest glimpse of the partial eclipse. My efforts photograph it backwards over my shoulder resulted in a few blurry shots of my right ear and the approbation of my fellow drivers speeding to work with not the slightest care for the astronomical event happening behind them.

I pulled up at River Cottage and walked purposefully towards the house as if it was perfectly normal to passing traffic that I should be out in my pyjamas and a pair of high heels.

"Did you see it?" asked The Husband.

"Nah. I just couldn't get a good view". 

"Shame, you should have stayed here. I got a glimpse of it from The Boy's bedroom"

"Did you get a photo?"

"Er, you had the camera, remember"

Bums! Never mind, I still had the Quadrantid Meteor Shower to look forward to.  Except that I forgot to set my alarm and missed the whole thing.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 in a nutshell - a rather large one!

2010 started in a rather similar vein to how it ended. With the weather being just about the most talked about topic.  It was winter and...... guess what?  It snowed! Would you credit it.  This was an unmissable opportunity for the various television news channels to despatch, in many cases, their most junior 'I'll do anything for a bit of airtime' journalists to stand beside frozen motorways, on motorway bridges and, for the most daring, on top of huge piles of grit to tell us, well, it's snowing. Of course we knew that just from looking out of the window, but just in case we hadn't noticed, it was on every single television channel as well. For days they stood in their allotted position, trying hard to smile through chapped lips and frozen eyelashes, to tell us it was still snowing.  Yes, we know.  They interviewed foolhardy drivers who had ventured out, despite severe weather warnings, with nothing but a shirt and a packet of Minstrels and then, surprise, surprise, got stuck in the snow, some for days, reduced to drinking melted snow and eating their fellow passengers if it got really bad (OK, well not quite, but from the dramatic way this completely natural phenomenon was reported, you'd think so!).  Everyone blamed the Labour Government. While responsible for many things, the weather probably wasn't one of them.

It was also an unmissable opportunity to tell the world how crap the country is, how it falls apart at the first millimetre of snow - only occasionally mentioning that it was the heaviest snow in decades - and showing stock footage of hardy Eastern European bravely carrying on in spite of several feet of snow. At the same time they were telling us there are too many 'bluddy foreigners' in the country. Strange how this huge influx of Eastern Europeans has done nothing to improve our ability to manage a snowfall in winter. Get them out of the potato fields of Cambridgeshire and into Emergency Planning I say!

Come the end of November, which would make it just about winter, and bugger me, it snows again.  The same reporters, asssuming they hadn't frozen to death first time round, suddenly found themselves for the second time in a year standing by frozen motorways, on motorway bridges and on top of mountains of grit telling us the glaringly obvious. It was snowing!  Strangely similar shots of sliding buses and skidding cars appeared all over the TV screens.

Having learned nothing from the previous snowfalls, the good British public continued to ignore the severe weather warning and head off to the pub, naturally getting stuck and finally arriving several days later via a Red Cross emergency station in the village hall.  It was however, a great opportunity to show some fine examples of community spirit with farmers taking to the roads to help clear them, manfully transporting midwives to pregnant mothers and doctors to hospitals. Hooray for the farmers!   Meanwhile the BBC continued to trot out the misinformation that if you cleared the path outside your house and someone slipped and fell they'd sue the ass of you so the good British public by and large stayed inside and expected someone else to do the snow clearing.  "What do we pay our Council Tax for?" demanded 'Bob in Leicester'.  'It's a national disgrace. Someone should do something about it' railed 'Betty in Milton Keynes.  Neither felt inclined to do anything about it themselves. 

It was only when we had the second Big Freeze that attention was drawn to the Governement's Snow Code that stated categorically that this was untrue.  Once again, the media used it as another opportunity to tell the world how we couldn't cope while conveniently forgetting to mention that the snowploughs were even struggling in Moscow and the whole of Sweden, now unused to heavy snowfalls in winter, had ground to a halt. Everyone blamed the Government - a different one this time - and still the Eastern Europeans had not got those jobs in Emergency Planning.

By March though, it was all forgotten.  In France, a 69 year old English grandmother was storming the dancefloors from Cannes to Paris with her unique mix of techno and Abba. Well French music always was shite!

It was a better year for HM the Queen. Prince William the Horsefaced announced his engagement to the perennially perky Kate Middleton and, in less time than it took for a Royal Correspondent to say 'Gold digger', the previously entitled Wills and Kate became William and Katherine, a right proper royal couple.  Thank God this heir to the throne didn't have to try and find himself a virgin.  He presented his bride to be with his mother's engagement ring - cheapskate - and in their first interview as a soon-to-be-married couple, Prince William told the world that he thinks of his mother in everything he does.  Not EVERYTHING William, please God! That's borderline illegal. The meeja has, of course, spent countless hours speculating on everything from the venue to the colour of her knickers. Everyone from her old Brown Owl to her sister's piano teacher were interviewed for the lowdown on Katherine.  As if we care. If nothing else, it will give those avid royal fans the chance to bore us all stupid with the latest addition to their collection of Royal Wedding mugs.

At the end of the year, Peter Phillips who in 2008 had married the rather unroyally named Autumn Kelly, a Canadian who would, according to Buckingham Palace, be known as Mrs Autumn Phillips -as opposed to what, one asks? - had presented the Queen with her first great-grandchild, well, it was Mrs Phillips who did the needful obviously. With the prospect of a Princess Chelsy, what next? Will the unfortunately chavvily named ladies call their offspring Sauvignon and Shaniqua?

The only thorn in the royal side continued to be the incorrigible Sarah, Duchess of York, who was caught in the sort of meeja sting that is on the verge of becoming boring, trying to sell audiences with her husband for cash.  Why? Why? Why? He has all the ennui of Prince Philip but without the possibility of one of those deliciously politically incorrect morsels falling from his lips.  I've met both of them and give me Prince Phillip any day. 

Talking of political incorrectness, Mel Gibson, dear, dear Mel, who I also met in my Shepperton Studios years, was one of the undoubted villains of 2010. His opinions have never been his greatest asset, seesawing as they do between the ludicrous and the downright offensive, and publications of a tape of his, er, how shall we say, exchanges of views with his ex-girlfriend, revealed that you can take the man out of narrow-minded, bigoted Oz (just certain elements of Oz society I hasten to add) but you can't the narrow-minded bigoted Oz out of the man. Shame that.

Sport saw some highs and some lows, the highs being Mo Farah breaking athletic records like I break fingernails, and becoming the first Briton to run the 5,000 metres in under 13 minutes. Still it wasn't enough to bring him a nomination in Sports Personality of the Year which saw, to me, the unlikely shortlisting of a Darts player. Sports and Personality always seem a bit of an oxymoron to me anyway but come on, darts is a leisure pursuit not a sport.  Do they train for hours in the gym like athletes or swimmers? Do their finely honed bodies arouse envy in the populace? Mind you, with the UK becoming in 2010 the fattest nation in Europe, perhaps this is where we are going wrong. We are modelling ourselves on the 'sportsmen' in the Embassy World Darts (or whatever) and not the European Athletics Championships.  World darts champion is a bit like being the World Melon Seed Spitting Champion. Darts is only played in the UK with the addition of the odd Dutchman so using the title 'world' is probably contrary to the Trades Description Act.

Tiny Tom Daley did his stuff on the 10 metre board and showed the difference between the body of an athlete and the body of, well, not an athlete though possibly a darts player, when he shared the board with James Corden in Sport Relief.  Quite how he survived the miniature tsunami caused by Mr Corden's entry into the water is anyone's guess.

Lows where undoubtedly the abysmal performance of some of England's richest sportsmen and their manager, the incomprehensible Mr Capello in the World Cup the most exciting bit of which was the predictions of an Octopus in Germany.  German fans, annoyed at his refusal to predict a win for them, threatened on several occasions to grill him.  He died rather ignominously later in the year.  This was  followed later in the year by the equally dismal performance in the England 2018 World Cup bid. We sent Prince Horseface, David 'Babyteeth' Cameron and David 'intellectual prozac' Beckham. The Russians sent a statuesque brunette in a tight fitting zebra-print dress. Who d'ya suppose won?  I like to think that my 'Keep England World Cup Free' scribblings across the World Cup petition in our local Morrisons played some small part.  FIFA proved itself to be as corrupt and corruptible and so many of the game's top players which was no surprise really.

Equally unsurprising was the revelations in Julian Assange's Wikileaks site that Afghan politicians are corrupt, Colonel Gadaffi is not that nice and Prince Philip (see above) is a bit of a loose cannon and as prickly as a pear. Still, when the poor bloke was arrested and threatened with deportation a whole host of  C list slebs such as Bianca 'who the hell is she, oh yes I remember now' Jagger and Jemima 'I'm a good Muslim gel' Khan, ran to his rescue with their wallets open to pay his bail. It seems that we must preserve the freedom of Mr Assange to tell us the patently obvious and crushingly dull at all costs. Still, it gave Barack Obama another opportunity to deflect attention from his own dismal political performance as did the Gulf Oil Spill.

For those who've forgotten all about 'the worst environmental catastrophe of all time' which does rather seem to have been anything but, this was when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig which was drilling at depths previously untried to feed the insatiable US desire for cheap fuel exploded tragically killing 11 workers. Built in Korea, owned by a German company, flying a flag of convenience for the Marshall Islands and operated by Americans, it unleashed the biggest oil spill in US history leaving the British firmly to blame and footing the bill for everything from environmental clean ups to loss of revenue for pole dancing clubs.  Under the hapless leadership of Tony Hayward, the man with a talent for saying the wrong thing that could equal Prince Philip, it led to one of the most distasteful displays of xenophobia by our Americans cousins since 9/11. 

Barack Obama was seen striding across beaches, bizarrely with people swimming in the sea, railing against British Petroleum despite the fact that it had dispensed with the British bit some 10 years previously.  Tony was called in front of a US congressional hearing led by a bizarre mish-mash of Spitting Image puppets where he kept saying he didn't know the answers to their questions which increased their ire and lent the proceedings an air of a frontier courtroom. No mention was made of the fact that the Gulf of Mexico is already the most oil-polluted sea in the world, nor of the Petroleos Mexicanos Ixtoc blowout 20 years previous, eerily similar to the Deepwater Horizon, which leaked over a third more oil into the Gulf than this ever did.  The settlement BP will make will eclipse anything previously seen in the world of environmental disasters and certainly more by many billions than the US offered the Indian government after the Union Carbide disaster that still caused birth defects even today. Hey ho!

The Spring bought us another opportunity for xenophobia with the eruption of an unpronouceable volcano in Iceland that managed to ground internation airtraffic across the world.  Stories of £3000 taxi rides back home, families spending a week on the floor of an airport departure lounge, a scene that was repeated again in December but for different reasons and yet another chance to moan about how the country was going to hell in a handcart led the media coverage.  The airlines, having had a chance to tot up the amount of compensation they would have to pay to their stranded passengers suddenly decided, with the help of the Civil Aviation Authority, that actually, the volcanic ash wasn't really that dangerous and they could fly after all. Silly them!  The Sprint also bought the equally unwelcome spectre of another General Election and the Leaders Debates which showed that a) Nick Clegg had a penchant for remembering names b) David Cameron couldn't say 'house' (hice) or properly (proply) and Gordon Brown, not for the want of trying, is biologically incapable of smiling. 

Election Night saw the BBC and ITV graphics departments going into overdrive to demonstrate to an increasingly weary public exactly how badly the voting was going for Labour and the Lib Dems, despite Cleggy's courting of the student populace with a promise of no university tuition fees.  I followed a septic tank emptying lorry the other day with the following words on the back 'this tanker is full of political promises'. That about summed it up as it turned out.  With no clear winner, the Lib Dems were courted by right and left, and the British public were left in suspense for several days while deals were made and broken and the left wing press told us all we'd got what we deserved for not voting them back in.  I would imagine that the Monster Raving Loony Party stood a better chance than them to be honest.

The end result was an unholy alliance of the Conservatives and LibDems, a sort of LibDem Con. From then on the only story was of cuts. Cuts to education, cuts to welfare and horror of horrors for the skinny mocha latte-drinking classes cuts to Child Benefit. Local governments reeled with the news that they would have to act a bit more responsibly with public money and get rid of thousands of superfluous staff. With 850,000 new jobs in the public sector created under the last government, the predicted 500,000 job losses still leave it top heavy, no consolation for those who will lose their jobs of course but then as someone who is new to the whole public sector thing in my own council, I still don't understand why my line manager is not the person I work for but someone in another office on another site several miles away.  Our own council has axed all managerial posts where only 2 or 3 people report to that manager. What? You mean they actually had managers responsible for only 2 or 3 people?

Natural disasters were a feature of 2010 which started with the dreadful earthquake in Haiti which gave the meeja another opportunity to travel halfway round the world to stick their cameras in the faces of people who were suffering the most appalling anguish.  Pictures of the injured and dead had us reaching for our wallets until we all started to suffer a bit of 'tragedy fatigue'.  The meeja then turned their focus on the potential for civil unrest - in a country with no infrastructure? Well that would be a first wouldn't it?  Reporters leapt on the slightest bit of handbags at dawn to show just how bad those rotten Haitians were and made us wonder if we should be asking the Disasters Emergency Committe for a refund.  Criticism was levelled at the troops trying their best in impossible circumstances to distribute aid by a bunch of reporters that, quite frankly, just got in the way. Then along came the French to try and buy up a few orphaned children. 

The flooding in Pakistan showed just how far anti-Muslim feeling had gone with people refusing to donate to those 'terrorists' and suggestions that spending more time on flood defences and less on religion would have been helpful.  One boring person with too little to do did manage to calculate that the Pakistan government would have had to build 6 foot high flood walls along the entire length of it's rivers to avert this catastrophe but still the donations from some countries, notably Ireland, Italy and France came to less than £2000.

The late summer saw the arrival of yet another Pontiff on British soil, although this one didn't bother with the kneeling down and kissing the ground shenanigans of his predecessor.  In a time of economic austerity the British government forked out millions of pounds to protect a man in a frock who had done his level best to protect a bunch of paedophiles and child abusers.  Babies were shoved in his arms and my Aunty Margot, who has made jam and marmalade for much of the 20th and all of the 21st Century to raise money for the Poor Sisters of Charity was among a bunch of smiling, shiny faced Catholics invited to be 'in his presence' during his visit. In his presence apparently means 'in the same room as but not acknowledged by' but she was delighted to be in an aisle seat so she could get a good view of his Holiness's illustious garb!

The big story of the year end - apart from the weather - were the student protests against the LibDemCon's plans to raise tuition fees (see earlier for political promises) were hijacked by a bunch of anarchists who took out their dislike for civilised society by kicking three shades of shite out of a window at Millbank, the Conservative HQ and an abandoned police van while holding placards pronouncing 'this shit wouldn't happen at Hogwarts' and 'I don't believe in anything, I'm just here to miss PE'

'Kettling' became the mot du jour with strangely diverse experiences recounted from within the kettle depending on the shade of the political journal in which it appeared. It was generally agreed to be a 'bad thing'. Perhaps they should just do what the French police did and use tear gas and Mace spray on the students, many of which were only 15 year old lyceens. It was genuinely refreshing to see so many 'mature students' at the protests. Well, that's surely the only reason that I kept seeing people who were patently older than the average student age. 

The photo of the  protests was definitely the misfortunate Charlie Gilmour, son of my hero Dave, swinging from the cenotaph. The 21 year old student of History at Cambridge issued a grovelling apology claiming he didn't realise that it was the Cenotaph.  You'd sort of think that the words 'Our Glorious Dead' carved in the side might just be a little clue.  I didn't believe in the dumbing down of education in the UK until I read that but now I'm not so sure.....

But I'll end my review of the year on a positive note with some of the more amusing news stories from 2010.

An Australian man claims his missing wife has turned up three decades later on Antiques Roadshow in Padstow

Her sister claims it couldn't possibly be her after seeing the footage because 'she'd never wear anything frilly'. So far, the mystery woman has not been identified

Cebu Pacific Airlines have put their safety demonstrations to the music of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry in the hope that jaded passengers will take notice

Sicilian man steals to avoid relatives on New Years Eve

A Sicilian man shoplifted sweets and chewing gum to ensure that he would spend New Year's Eve in jail and so avoid spending it with relatives

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy released an anthology of Japanese-style Haiku poetry.

One reads:
"In a nearby ditch
Toads mating passionately
Inaugurate spring."

That's it. The EU really is done for!

Happy 2011