Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Answers

How many people have been in outer space?

Up to November 2008 there have been 489 people from 38 countries who have flown in outer space. Space is defined as anywhere above the Karman Line 62.1 miles up.

What is the closest any human has been to the centre of the earth?

The crew of the bathyscaphe Trieste dived to a depth of 6.77 miles in the Pacific Ocean in 1960. This put them 3,952 miles from the centre of the earth.

When have been the coldest winters in the UK?

The coldest winter on record was 1684 when coaches travelled along the frozen River Thames. The winter of 1962-63 was the coldest since 1740.

Christmas Past

Well time I updated my blog after the Christmas holidays. But what to write, I can’t think of anything, nothing has happened. I could write about something that has been on TV, but what? There hasn’t been anything on TV. The only thing I can think of was EastEnders on Christmas Day. I sort of gave up on EastEnders a few years ago, but have started to watch it a bit these days. I have to say that Christmas Day episode was fantastic. Only observation is that no matter how bad everyone’s Christmas was on the programme - it was still better that the nightmare I have to go through.

Still its over for another year. Is this the time when we say to everyone we meet, ’did you have a nice Christmas?’ and everyone says ’Yes thanks, it was quiet though’. Why does everyone say that? How can it have been quiet, the whole thing has taken more organising that the Normandy landings, everyone in the country (or the world as far as I know) has bought enough food and alcohol for several weeks. All normal routines and working patterns have been totally abandoned, yet it has still be ‘a quiet Christmas!’

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Holiday

How come Cameron Diaz gets Jude Law, but Kate Winslet gets Jack Black? But thinking about it, you would probaly be better off with Jack Black!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Thursday, 24 December 2009

I think this can be called a White Christmas





Some pics taken in the park over the road.


White Christmas

According to the weather forecast the odds on a White Christmas are shortening - the further North you live the more likely you are to have snow on Christmas Day.

But they went on to say that snow on the ground doesn’t count, it has to fall from the sky on Christmas Day to be an official White Christmas. What’s that all about? There is snow on my roof, snow in the street, snow all around, but it might not be an ‘official’ White Christmas!

Who decided that there were rules to apply on whether it was a White Christmas or not? Do we have to fill a form in and apply to have ‘official White Christmas’ status awarded?

If it isn’t an officially designated White Christmas, do I have to take the snow on my house back to the council and say ‘sorry but its not an official White Christmas, so I can’t keep it’. In future years will I have to describe this Christmas as ‘the Christmas that looked like a White Christmas, but it wasn’t a White Christmas’?

I am lost now, I don’t know what to do.

Christmas Eve

Whatever you feel about Christmas - Christmas Eve is special. it’s a time for reflection and you can’t but help think back to the times of your childhood and the excitement and stories of Christmas.

There was always a stories like the one of the miserable old man that lived alone in a big house with a big garden and the local children would creep into the garden and steel the apples from his apple trees. The man would be so miserable he would chase the children with his stick and shout at them to ‘clear off’.

Then one Christmas one child would sneak into the garden and they would become friends and have an adventure and the man would turn out to be jolly and let all the children have the apples from his trees in future…………….. Makes you think.

Well just a thought for the children near me when the look at my apple trees -

‘Get lost and buy your apples at the shops like everyone else!’

Merry Christmas

Why Christmas is so Stressful - 4

The Christmas songs - why do we have to have the Christmas songs over and over again, year after year. When I come back in my next life I am going to make a Christmas song and take the royalties every year. There are very few Christmas songs that can stand a second hearing (most of them can’t take a first hearing) but if you want to get in the mood I can just about listen to these:

George Michael - December Song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8ZR7y2UoqE

Judy Garland - Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g4lY8Y3eoo


Shirley Bassey - The Girl From Tiger Bay

(Not a Christmas song but its got sequins, white feathers and diamonds, what more do you want for Christmas - and it’s a hell of a song)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNfArppVtf0

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Two Christmases

Just heard that my sister isn’t well so she wont be coming home for Christmas this year. (I say home even thought I am sure she regards where she lives in Wales as her home now, but you know what I mean.)

So this means two things, on the day itself I wont have anyone to share the burden of the nightmare that is Christmas Day and since we wont have exchanged presents with family my sister will come up for a long weekend in January and we can do it all again. I know this will happen as it has happened about seven out of the last ten years.

Two Christmases in one year, let joy be unconfined!

Eurostar

News item last night about train services Eurostar. Newsreader confirmed that services under the Channel Tunnel would recommence today.

‘Under’? The Channel Tunnel - I think I have worked our what went wrong!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Travel Chaos

Another night of bad weather across the country with some snow fall in the South. Thousands of people stranded across three counties for the night. There is to be a Government enquiry into what happened and what went wrong. A Government enquiry, is that really necessary? I know it wouldn’t be pleasant for those affected - but a Government enquiry?

Let me save the Government some time and money:

  • it is winter
  • it was cold
  • it snowed
  • it froze
  • the roads got blocked.

Now can the Government please have an enquiry into what the banks did with all our money, who got it and why did we have to give them two hundred thousand million pounds.

Talking of which, according to Government figures the banks received £40,000 from every household in the country as part of the bailout. I wrote to my bank to tell them to just deduct my £40,000 from my mortgage and to let me know how much my repayments have been reduced to in time for next months payment. I also said I knew how difficult times were for them and as a gesture of goodwill I wouldn’t be charging them £40 for my letter.

Mr Leon Jackson

In all this talk of the X Factor winner it is easy to forget the ones that have gone before, as especially for male winners, history shows the future might not be so bright for Joe.

Leon Jackson was much maligned but I quite liked him. Great version of When You Believe and who can forget his duo with Kylie Minogue - well you obviously because you had forgotten he sang with Klylie!


Mr Leon Jackson and When You Believe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mNDtPqDI38

Mr Leon Jackson and Miss Kylie Minogue

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixALGKeOrhY

Monday, 21 December 2009

Cold Callers

If you have ever been held on a company’s autodial list you will know how annoying it is to get phone calls everyday trying to sell you this that or the other. I was recently on the list for some mobile phone company based on the other side of the world trying to get me to switch supplier. Getting off these auto dial lists can prove difficult, but it can be done. Here are my four stages to success.

In the first stage, when the caller says ‘how are you today sir’? Say ‘I am very well thank you for asking, and it is so lovely of you to call just to ask me that’. Then hang up. This will leave the caller a bit puzzled as they now think you think they just called to say hello. They may decide you are a little odd and remove you from their list at this early point. If this doesn’t work, then move on to the second stage.

In the second stage when they ask ‘Could I speak to... ?’ You say ‘of course you can, I will just put you through’. You then put the phone down and watch TV, have dinner or whatever you were doing when the phone rang. Go back every couple of minutes pick up the phone and say ‘Still putting you through’. After about three or four times you will find they have rung off. If this does not deter them and you find you are still on their list, move on to the third stage.

In the third stage they are clearly not easily put off so you will have to speak to them for a while. This one can be a little tricky as you have to spot what they are giving away free quite quickly and home in on this aspect of the call. In my recent experience they were offering me a free phone, clearly what they weren’t telling me was that the ‘free phone’ would end up costing me a fortune on a new contract.

So as soon as they mentioned the ‘free phone’ I said I was absolutely delighted that they were going to give me a new phone and I asked them to send it to me immediately as I couldn’t wait to receive it. Then hang up. You won’t of course receive a new phone but the next time they call you can say you still haven’t received your new phone and ask when you can expect to receive it – or you can ask to be put through to the complaints department as you are getting annoyed that you haven’t received your new phone.

If this still doesn’t stop them calling you will have to try the techniques in this the fourth and final stage. If your caller has got through to this stage then clearly they are very determined so you will have to be prepared to be persistent and creative in your dialogue. My recent experience got to this stage and the conversation went a bit like this.

‘I am sure you will want to reduce your phone bill’

‘I don’t really spend a lot on my phone so I am quite happy with what I pay’

‘But I am sure you will want to reduce even that amount’

‘Why are you so sure about what I want, you don’t know me, we haven’t even met’,

‘I know we haven’t met, but most people like to reduce their phone bills’

‘Do I have to meet you to have my phone bills reduced?’

‘No we don’t have to meet’

‘Ok, but I still don’t know how you are so sure I want to have my phone bills reduced’

‘Well alright, I shouldn’t have said I was sure you wanted to have your phone bills reduced, I just made an assumption that you would’

‘So are you now saying that you are not sure I want my phone bills reduced?’

‘Well yes I suppose I am’

‘So are you saying that you want to keep my phone bills the same as they are now?’

‘No I’m not saying that’

‘Well what are you saying, you don’t sound very sure’

‘Well I am sure’

‘’But you said you were sure I was sure a minute ago, and now it looks like you’re not even sure what it is you are sure about’

‘I am sure!’

‘What about?’

At this point he seemed quite cross and hung up. I haven’t heard from them since.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Bette Midler and Jake Shimabukuro

If you’re feeling a bit stressed out as Christmas approaches take a few minutes to watch and listen to Bette Midler and Jake Shimabukuro sing and play this beautiful rendition of ‘In my Life’.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i72bN_Pk5bM

Santa Claus and other bringers of gifts

Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas, considered by many to be the original Santa Claus.
Christmas has for many centuries been a time for the giving and exchanging of gifts, particularly between friends and family members. A number of figures of both Christian and mythical origin have been associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among these are Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus, Père Noël, and the Weihnachtsmann; Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas; the Christkind; Kris Kringle; Joulupukki; Babbo Natale; Saint Basil; and Father Frost.

The most famous and pervasive of these figures in modern celebration worldwide is Santa Claus, a mythical gift bringer, dressed in red, whose origins have diverse sources. The name Santa Claus is a corruption of the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey, during the fourth century. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast on the 6th of December came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts. Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop’s attire, accompanied by helpers, and enquired about the behaviour of children during the past year, before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. By the 13th century Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe. At the Reformation, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, (corrupted in English to Kris Kringle), and the date of giving gifts changed from December the 6th to Christmas Eve.

The modern popular image of Santa Claus, however, was created in the United States, and in particular, in New York. The transformation was accomplished with the aid of six notable contributors including Washington Irving and the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902). Following the American Revolutionary War, some of the inhabitants of New York City sought out symbols of the city's non-English past. New York had originally been established as the Dutch colonial town of New Amsterdam and the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition, was reinvented as Saint Nicholas. In 1809, the New-York Historical Society convened and retroactively named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York City. At his first American appearance in 1810, Santa Claus was drawn in bishops' robes. However as new artists took over, Santa Claus developed more secular attire. Nast drew a new image of "Santa Claus" annually, beginning in 1863. By the 1880s, Nast's Santa had evolved into the robed, fur clad, form we now recognize, perhaps based on the English figure of Father Christmas. The image was standardized by advertisers in the 1920s.

Father Christmas

Father Christmas, a jolly, well nourished, bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, predates the Santa Claus character. He is first recorded in early 17th century England, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness rather than the bringing of gifts. In Victorian Britain, his image was remade to match that of Santa. The French Père Noël evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image. In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while La Befana is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. Now, she brings gifts to all children. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter. In other versions, elves make the toys. His wife is referred to as Mrs. Claus.

Answers

On average how many computer viruses are released each month?

600 new viruses are released to the internet each month. 80,000 viruses now exist. In January 2003 the Slammer virus infected 75,000 computers in 10 minutes.

Does everyone have a phone?

57.8% of the world’s population have never received a telephone call. Furthermore, 75.3% of the world’s population have never accessed the internet.

If you were to add up all the presents in the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ how many would there be?

364 presents are given by ’my true love’ throughout the ’Twelve Days of Christmas’ 184 birds, 140 performing (or milking) people and 40 golden rings.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Wrong Number

How annoying is it when someone dials the wrong number! Phone call yesterday,

‘Can I speak to Cheryl’

‘I’m sorry but I think you have the wrong number’

‘Well I think she changed her number recently’

‘Then you definitely have the wrong number’

‘She works on the night shift team’

‘You have the wrong number’

‘She hasn’t been there very long’

‘You have the wrong number’

‘Do you know what her new number is?’

‘If you don’t know her number then why do you think I know her number? You have the wrong number’

‘You haven’t been very helpful’. Then she hung up!

How is it that if someone dials the wrong number it becomes my problem that I have to solve by finding out what the correct number is!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Tiger Tiger Burning (not so) Bright

I see Tiger Woods has issued an apology for all the revelations about his private life that have been flying across the media over the last few weeks.

He needn’t have bothered for me as it is not my concern what he does, but since he has put the information out there maybe I can make an observation.

The apology was what I call a ‘celebrity apology’. This is where a celebrity makes a public apology but it doesn’t mean ‘I am sorry and I wish I hadn’t done it’ it means ‘there has been a lot of fuss in the press about something I did and I have just realised it might affect my future earnings so I had better say I’m sorry even though I don’t know what I am supposed to be sorry about, and even if I didn’t know its no ones business but my own’.

There is also the element added to it that they are only sorry at the point that the indiscretion becomes public knowledge, which really means ‘I am sorry I have been found out – not that I did it’.

You might be sorry that you have an affair, but if you have dozens of them then you’re not really sorry, it’s just your way of life. So I do wonder why he has apologised publicly I know he makes over $100 million dollars a year and that would be incentive enough for anyone to do anything to protect future earnings, but he already has a $1 billion dollars so how much more does he want.

It is just as well I’m not rich – I don’t think I understand how it works.

New Feature

Starting a new feature where I make comment on issues of the day. I don’t normally make comment on such things but will give it a go.

Don’t you Love GMTV

Item on this morning about how cold it is with some bloke standing in a village in Suffolk holding a thermometer we couldn’t see. He pointed at the 0C mark to prove how cold it was – I feel so much better informed.

Penny Smith did say she thought it was warmer in her fridge and she might now sleep in it – good idea Penny you might keep better!

Weather In Leeds

In the Tropical Rain Forest it rains every day – who would have thought the Leeds could be classed as Tropical Rain Forest!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Christmas Post.

At this time of year the postman will come at all different times of the day - even coming on a Sunday.

So you need to wear shoes in the house at all times from now until after the holidays. This is because postman love to put those ‘sorry you were out’ cards through your letter box. Even though you are in but you don’t the door bell because they didn't ring it.

If you already have your shoes on you can chase after the postman as soon as you notice a card being popped through your letter box. If you have to change into shoes before you race after the postman he will be long gone before you have your shoes on.

Fashion tip If you do have to put shoes on to go after the postman - in this scenario it is ok to put on the first pair of shoes or trainers you come to - they don’t have to match your outfit.

Christmas Cards

Delivered my Christmas cards to neighbours over the weekend.

I always give next doors little girl one to herself. She is getting a bit older now, think is six now, so she came round last night with a card for me that she had made herself at school.

I said it was very nice, but why was Shrek playing with some giraffes? She said it wasn't Shrek and giraffes it was Father Christmas and his reindeer! I said well it looks nothing like father Christmas and that and maybe next year it would be better if she bought me a card. Don't know why she seemed a bit upset.

Next door had another baby year before last - on new year’s eve , if I remember rightly, ambulances racing up and down the street sirens going full blast when I was trying to get ready to go out, no consideration for others - so I suppose that will be another card next year!

Delicatessen

At the delicatessen the other day I was standing in the queue when the woman being served in front of me pointied at some chicken portions, and asked the assistant ‘have you not get any bigger breasts’?

How rude!

Quote of the day

Overheard in the gym, someone discussing a recent snow boarding course he had just completed. His instructor had told him that ‘on the dry slopes he was like a duck on ice, but on real snow he is like a fish in water’.

Worryingly I knew what he meant.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

X Factor 2009 - the final performance

Great to see Joe win and the song is pretty good too!

We had Kimberley Walsh with the crowds in South Shields - funnily enough she was the least orange person there!

Lovely to see Cheryl and Simon standing arms around each other as Joe sang the song as the winner. Louis got into the spirit as well by putting his arm around Dannii - for about three seconds until Dannii told him to get off!

Download available now - in the shops on Wednesday.

X Factor - the final result

What fantastic performances tonight, Cheryl gave it everything. Standing ovations so we could all see her dress again, quivering lips and tearful moments when she was asking everyone to vote for her. Trembling voice when she spoke of how wonderful Joe’s family were - bet she is never off the phone to them!

It was wonderful - oh and the acts weren’t bad either.

Waiting the result as I write (doing this while the rotten Paul McCartney is on - can’t bear him.

Best performance of the night George Michael.

Joe or Olly to win? Sorry Olly but I think it has to be Joe.

X Factor - the final

After months of shows and all the hype of the week - at last the final. Joe, Olly and Stacey into the last week, with what I have to say was a pretty poor show. The final song choices weren’t the best and I think the nerves were showing.

Second songs with Michael Buble, Robbie Williams and George Michael only showed how far the finalists have to go to get to that level. Can’t blame Joe for being overawed singing with George Michael but think he has done enough to win tomorrow’s final vote.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Name those Films

Have a watch of this video from Youtube and see how many films you can name. You have to be quick as some of them pass in an instant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=bXqPtJr3O_4

In case you are wondering, the tune is from Jerry Springer the musical

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Why Christmas is so stressful – 3

Christmas Day food

The day starts quite well as you are encouraged to eat a large breakfast – this is fine for me as I consider breakfast to be the best meal of the day. You can have anything you like, even things you would normally consider to be an evening meal is permissible. The general rule of thumb is that Christmas day breakfast should be about the same calorie level as that for a normal full day.

There are only certain things you are allowed to eat for Christmas Day lunch. Suggest a Lancashire hot pot or fish and chips and people will think you have gone mad.

There is a range of things you are allowed to eat, turkey, goose, beef etc. (turkey being the most popular). But whatever you choose, it has to be the biggest of its kind in the shop. It is not unheard of for people to buy a 20 kilo turkey for two.

There are a number of difficulties with the meal and it starts at the point you go to the table. You are required to:
· navigate (if you are from a large family) your way to a chair that is the proper height for the table so you don’t have to eat the meal with your knees in your face;
· sit at the table wearing a paper hat;
· pull Christmas crackers in the hope of winning something you are going to throw in the bin;
· eat vegetables that you don’t like and would never go near for the rest of the year;
· consume vast amounts of potatoes cooked in several different ways, e.g. boiled, roasted, duchess etc;
· eat sausage, bacon, stuffing (don’t ask) which alone contain enough fat to give a small elephant a heart attack ;
· work out how to keep gravy off the cranberry sauce;
· talk to the other people at the table;
· say ‘I shouldn’t really’ when asked if you want more alcohol, then say ‘oh go on then it is Christmas’;
· eat a Christmas pudding that takes four hours to steam cook, but still has the consistency of liquid concrete.

Then two hours after eating the biggest meal you have had all year, you have to consume another meal.

This meal is the beginning of the different ways that you are going to eat turkey for the next day or two. You are also required to consume Christmas cake, chocolate cake, biscuits and more alcohol.

By the time you have reached this meal the alcohol is not compulsory but it is advisable to take it to get you through the rest of the day\evening.

Tips for getting through the day

Each time you go past the central heating thermometer, turn it up a degree. No one will notice the gradual rise in room temperature but this will help everyone fall asleep after dinner so you don’t have talk to them.

If you are exchanging presents on the day and you have to buy a present for someone you don’t like – buy them a big, heavy or awkward to carry present, (or if you are advanced in this regard, something that is all three). This means they have to work out how to get your present it home. This is especially effective if they have travelled to you on foot so they can have a drink and then have to carry a six foot set of step ladders home in the ice.

Note: Christmas cake is a bit like Christmas pudding only it is cold and solidified. A single slice has the same calorific value as a pie and pea supper, ten Mars bars and a packet of Wotsits.

Don’t you love GMTV

Item this morning on London Fashion week and the award given to Kate Moss as British Fashion Ambassador of the year (yes really!). We were treated to a sound bite from Kate saying how wonderful she was. After the item the two presenters (Kate Garraway and one that looks like Kate Garraway) observed that you don’t normally get to hear Kate Moss talking and wasn’t it interesting!

Actually no, since you ask, it wasn’t interesting, but it does explain why we don’t usually hear Moss speaking!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Shopping for Babies

A friend from work is leaving this week to have a baby so I wanted to buy her a present. I was at the Retail Park by 09:00 on Saturday - its not the time of year to go late in the day!

Shopping for babies is not really my thing but took a trip to Mothercare to see what I could get. It is a whole new world of things I never knew existed and there was another shop next door - mamas and papas - which I think had the edge on Mothercare.

Lady in the shop was very helpful. Looked at a few outfits and decided on a … don’t know what you call it - a thing you put babies in I suppose.

Went next door to Borders to get a card.

Borders is now on its way out and it’s a pity coz find it convenient having shop on the Retail Park - saves me going into town to buy books. Did notice they had 20% off all their books as they are closing down but that is a bit odd as when I get books there they have them, either 3 for 2 or buy one get one half price. So in effect the cost of books have gone up in their closing down sale!
Perhaps that is why they are closing down.

I noticed they had some toys and things and I thought I might get something for my friend. There was a display of teddy bears and they looked quite cute so thought I would get one. Don’t know what is wrong with me - but be going sentimental in my old age.

Anyway the display of bears was quite big so I set to finding the one I wanted, I had them all out the display and lined up on the floor.

The woman came over and asked me ‘Can I help sir’

‘I want one of these bears’ She pointed at the one I had in my hand and said ‘I’ll take that to the till for you’

‘I don’t want this one, I want a different one’

‘They are all the same sir’

‘No they aren’t I want a good looking one, this one has a squashed nose’ I held it up to show the woman, ‘and that one is cross eyed’.

The woman just looked, ‘Well once you have finished interviewing the bears, bring the winner over to the till and I‘ll wrap it up for you’

After about 15 minutes I chose the bear I wanted and thought I would have a quick look at the books - see if there was anything I wanted.

The same woman came up to me. ‘I see you got a bear - it must be very pleased to have passed the interview. But could you carry it more carefully, you have it by the throat and your upsetting the children’.

Why do I always get difficult people serving me!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Batman Begins

Enjoyed Batman Begins always liked Batman - he was a bit dark and not the usual Super Hero type as he didn’t have any super powers. Didn't have a clue what the film was about - but I don't suppose that matters.

In the early days of Batman he used to shoot people but this stopped in 1940 after editor Whitney Ellsworthy complained about Batman shooting some mutated man. Batman first appeard in 1939.

Val Kilmer was the best Batman - but he’s looking a bit rough now. Val Kilmer is 50 on New Year’s Eve.

X Factor semi final - the result

Cheryl and Dannii stepped it up on the glamour front - both sensational this week. Although camera caught Cheryl taking her chewing gum out and putting it in the bin - classy!

Guests this week Lady Gaga and Janet Jackson. Don’t really get Lady Gaga, but nice to see Janet Jackson. Was it just me or was the sound a bit funny? Think she was miming - and what the hell did she have on? She looked like Kevin Webster the mechanic off Coronation Street!

So we have the finalists Olly, Stacey and Geordie Joe. Interviewed by Dermot after the result announced, Olly didn’t know what to say, and who knows what Stacey said.

Danyl Johnson lost out - but then I guess he has struggled in the press right through the completion - maybe we will hear from him again - maybe we won’t.

X Factor semi final

Semi final this week already. Last remaining contestants Olly, Danyl Joe and Stacey. Two songs this week, the first one for each was a Michael Jackson song. I thought we had already had a Michael Jackson week!

It was a bit poor really Geordie Joe did the best cover - but even then ‘She’s out of my life’ is not a Jackson favourite for me.

Second songs were better, but oh no Stacey if your going to sing a Queen Barbra classic - get the words right. Can’t believe she got the last word wrong - for future reference the last word is Somewhere - its sort of the point of the song!

If you want to know how it should be done - see Barbra sing it live

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tkvsjRE2hU

They keep giving Danyl Whitney songs to sing, and no one does Whitney like Whitney, but he manages to pull it off. On the subject of Whitney - heard her new song the other day - looks like a winner, lot better than the come back song.

Who is in the final, difficult Joe and Danyl yes - and either Olly or Stacey to lose out. Pity coz Olly was my favourite to win.

Answers

How much money has JK Rowling made per word?

JK Rowling has made £526.54 per word written in Harry Potter books. She has made £576m in total and is the world’s biggest selling living author.

What’s the lowest score anyone’s ever got on Mastermind and what was their specialist subject?

The lowest non-celebrity score on Mastermind was 7 by Colin Kidd. His specialist subject was World Chess Championships. The lowest celebrity score is 6.

How much was the first TV?

The first mass produced mechanical TV set sold for $150 in 1928, which is $1,800 in today’s money.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Travel to Leeds

Set off today for my working week in Leeds. Not my favourite journey as I set off at 6:15 on a cold, dark autumn morning. This morning was particularly cold and my car was frozen solid, so at least I had the advantage of not having to scrape out my car and just get into a warm taxi. I can always find the positive out of any negative situation.

Had a bit of an incident on the train. The lady with the refreshment trolley asked me if I wanted anything. I asked for a sparkling water. She handed over a bottle of water and asked me if I wanted a glass?

‘Do I look like Conan the Barbarian?’ I responded

She didn’t like that and gave me a cold stare with pursed lips as she picked up a glass and placed it (rather forcibly I thought) in font of me.

‘One Glass’ she said

‘It’s got a chip in it’

She removed the glass picked up another glass and placed it in front of me.

‘One other glass’ she said.

I stared back at her, my mind racing. I wanted to point out that actually it wasn’t a glass it was a plastic beaker, but I am not easily goaded into argument and she did look a bit frosty so I left it.

‘Do you want anything to eat – we have bacon flatbread but I haven’t got any cutlery. You will have to manage with your fingers’.

I looked at her and raised and eyebrow.

‘So nothing to eat then’ she concluded.

‘No thank you’.

A few minutes later she was back down the carriage with an armful of complimentary newspapers.

‘Paper sir’ she asked as she walked past.

‘Yes thank you’.

She handed one over. ‘Would you like me to turn the pages over for you’?

I sensed and adversary with skills of an equal status. ‘That won’t be necessary thank you’ I replied as she moved on.
The rest of the journey proved uneventful apart from being five minutes late. Gave me just enough time to pop into The Queens hotel and leave my bag with George – the concierge.

A warm welcome from George is guaranteed but he always begins our chats by asking me if I have come down all the way from Newcastle again. He says it like I have travelled by foot from Peru. I don’t know how far away he thinks Newcastle is.

Left my bag until I returned later to check in.

I have had some disastrous experiences at hotels but The Queens is my preferred hotel so is usually event free.

Couple of hitches this week. The bathroom was the coldest bathroom in the Northern Hemisphere. Some problem with the window so it was permanently open about half an inch – not much but more than enough when the outside temperature is -3C. I compensated by having the bedroom thermostat on full blast at 32C.

When I use the restaurant the ladies there look after me very well. They know I don’t have tea or coffee at breakfast and have my own table. I am the perfect customer for them as they don’t have to do anything and can leave me on my own and they are the perfect waitresses for me as other than a ‘good morning’ they leave me alone.

Bit of a surprise this morning when a new chap was standing guard over the restaurant entrance. He dutifully (even if needlessly) took my name and room number so he could tick me off his list.

I could see my ladies hovering in the background looking on a bit nervously as the new chap attempted to take me to a free table as he marched off due East to guide me to the table he thought I should sit at. I turned to face the opposite direction and headed due West to my usual table.

He seemed a little surprised and a little cross when he got to his intended table and turned around to see I wasn’t behind him and was in fact already sitting at my table at the opposite end of the dinning room.

My ladies were soon bustling around me to turn my tea cup upside down so any other new people knew I did not require tea\coffee.

Calm was once again restored.

Quote of the Day

'Why are there sausages amongst the Fishes?'

Why indeed.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Tip for a Peaceful Christmas

Over the Christmas period whenever someone rings your front door bell, put on an overcoat before you answer the door.

If it is someone you want to see you can say you have just come in, invite them in and take off your coat. If it is someone you don’t want to see you can say, so sorry but you were just on your way out! It works I have done this for years.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Stripes and Hoops

I accidentally overheard a conversation where a work colleague was extolling the virtues of his tea cup – he gave it a glowing reference and went on to describe it as having stripes. I could see his tea cup and the markings on his cup were quite clearly ‘hoops’ and not ‘stripes’.

I considered saying nothing and letting this outrageous breach of English language usage go unchallenged but the urge to intervene proved too much and I had to point out that stripes are vertical straight lines whereas hoops are horizontal straight lines.

The conclusion being that he did not have a beautiful striped teacup – he had a beautiful hooped tea cup!

Quote of the Day

Some things might happen, but not some time soon.

Very mysterious!