Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Designer Templates

After having a few goes at using the new template designer in Blogger, I have come to the conclusion that some of the new designs are very nice to look at, but they are so bold you can’t really read the content of the blog – which defeats the objective really.


So I am going back to the old format templates – might have a bit of a play around with some background changes and colours, but I think I will be giving the new template designer a big miss!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Leeds in Bloom


I notice there is small corner of Leeds that is holding a dazzling display to showcase the city as a marvel in bloom.  If you want to see this beautiful show of flowers, then head to City Square and prepare to be bedazzled with a cavalcade of riotous blooms.

In case you can't find the examples of Leeds in bloom, there are three wooden boxes to the side of the square as you head towards Tesco Metro.  In these wooden tubs there are half a dozen primulas, a crushed coffee carton and a dozen cigarette ends.

In case you can't find the flowers, this is what you are looking for.

Doing Nothing

Well back to work today after a week on leave and back to sunny Leeds.  Chatting to a colleague about how I spent my leave I happily told her 'oh I didn't do anything'.

'You must have done something?'

'Well no not really, I can spend a lot of time doing nothing, in fact the days go by quite quickly when you do nothing'  Pressed further I did admit to having a few sessions at the gym.  I had a goal of losing two pounds over the week or so I was off work, so went to the gym everyday for a four mile run, some weights and a few crunches.  That did fill a couple of hours every day.  so going first thing in the morning it was getting on for midday by the time I got home.  Then an hour or so watching day time TV and it was well into lunchtime before I had done anything.  So actually doing nothing was quite time consuming!

Doing nothing all week did give the opportunity to watch a bit of daytime TV, not something I get the chance to do a lot, but I found it quite bizarre, all the programmes are about either buying houses or selling antiques.  When was it decided that that was what people wanted to watch during the day?


I say selling antiques, I should say selling a load of tat you don't want that anyone in their right mind wouldn't want to buy.  So we had programme after programme where a couple of posh people go snooping round the houses of people who want to raise £400 for a day out at a donkey farm.

The posh people poke around cupboards and drawers and pick up a small vase and say how wonderful it is and how interesting it is.  They ask the owners if they can reveal its mysterious past.  We then find out their nan left it to them.  They then marvel at the item and hold it up to the light, then tell us that on a good day at auction it might make £25.

Next some medals that the 'posh people' (except if it is Lorne Spicer doing it - she isn't posh) can see 'mean an awful lot to you'.

'Yes they do - how much can I flog them for?'


Another £40.

There is always a royal doulton figurine, that everyone says is so pretty.  No it isn't, it is ghastly, they all look they same and no one would want one as a gift never mind part with good money for.

And so it goes on until the posh people have scoured every corner of the house looking for every bit of tat they can send to their auction rooms so they can cream off as much commission as possible.

The end result is happy auction day, where we watch the items being sold off one by one.  If the owners are lucky they might end up with auction sales of £800 minus VAT and commission coming in at about 30% there is not much left for the sellers.

Its quite a racket as the buyers and sellers each pay VAT and commission on all sales.  i wondered why the posh people put themselves through it all, but I think I have worked out - they all own auction houses!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Dancing on Ice - The Final

At last we reach the final, with Hayley, Gary and Kieron fighting it out for the title.

Potentially three routines for the contestants with only two of the three getting the chance to perform wearing a bolero jacket.


I will be counting the times the bolero is described as ’iconic’. As it is such an ’iconic dance …!


Please stop calling it iconic, I have looked up the word and found the following definitions:


  • (Christianity / Eastern Church (Greek & Russian Orthodox)) a representation of Christ, the Virgin Mary, or a saint, especially one painted in oil on a wooden panel, depicted in a traditional Byzantine style and venerated in the Eastern Church
  • an image, picture, representation, etc.
  • a symbol resembling or analogous to the thing it represents
  • Electronics & Computer Science / Computer Science) a pictorial representation of a facility available on a computer system, that enables the facility to be activated by means of a screen cursor rather than by a textual instruction.
Dancing around on a bit of ice does not fit any of these definitions.

And don't know what Emma was wearing on her eyes, looked like a couple of gold lame caterpillars over her eyes.

Andre Rieu and the Johan Strauss orchestra started the show for a Torvill and Dean moment. (click for the Rieu website, but I warn you, you may feel quite nauseous watching the video).  They went to an awful lot of bother, there must have been hundreds of them there and they only did one number.


Camera work seemed a bit shaky this week - camera on Jayne and Chris at the start when it should have been on Philip and Holly, and finalists weren't smiling and waving when they should have been - after three months you would think they would have perfected it, after all it is the same formula each week

Battle of the dresses - this week has to go to Jayne.  Not sure if Jayne has had some work done, maybe a bit of botox, but face looked quite smooth. 

First up - they all get a chance to fly on ice.  don't really like this bit,they are supposed to be skating on ice, so I don't see where messing about in the air comes into it.  And those pants they make the guys wear to fit the flying stuff to them makes them look ridiculous.  Gary Lucy looked like Simon Cowell! 


After a turn around the ice each, leader position was Hayley, Gary and just by half a point, Kieron.


Round two and a chance to perform their best routine from the series.  No change to the order on the leader board.  Bit of a waste of time really, just a filler while we all spend money ringing the phone line.

Kieron lost out, leaving Hayley and Gary to do the dance of the Boleros.

Think it is a forgone conclusion that Hayley will win, but we went through the formalities.  There is always the chance that Hayley will miss out at the final hurdle - no one likes a clever clogs. 

But Hayley won out in the end - taking the title of Dancing on Ice Champion 2010.

Now I can have my Sunday nights back - and lesson for next year, maybe not so many contestants! 

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Earth Hour

Today is Earth Hour run by World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness of something or other.

The idea is that you switch off all your electricity for an hour tonight at the same time as the rest of the world. 

I see the Queen is going to turn the lights off at Buckingham Place, if she is, I hope she isn't going to try and find her way around using candles.  Last time she did that she almost burned Windsor Castle to the ground.  Although to be fair I think it was Princess Margaret's nylon nightie that caught light on a passing candle.

I heard something on the radio about it and it said 'sign up quick to join in'.  Now I am not sure what I have to do - do I have to fill in a form to be able to switch my electric off?  It wasn't very clear and although I do think it is a good idea, it seems a little complicated.

And I don't really think they have thought it through properly - the time to switch off is tonight at 20:30.  Are they kidding me 20:30 on a Saturday night!  I'm sorry but that is a crucial time for getting ready on a Saturday - the last thing I can afford is a cut in my electric at that time.

Why didn't they make it 4 0'clock in the morning when everyone is in bed - that would have been much easier!

If you want to know more - check out the WWF Earth Hour site - but be quick to sign up!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Testing New Look

I will be trying out a few different looks to the blog over the next week or so - see which one I like.

Thought I would start with a view of the world.

If you have any views - let me know.

New Look

Watch out for a new look to my blog coming soon.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Preview Dancing on Ice Final

At long last we are approaching the final of a marathon series of Dancing on Ice. if you don't think it has been a marathon - try and name all the contestants that started the 2010 competition - no looking and I bet you can't do it.

If you really want to test yourself - who was in the final last year?

I am surprised to hear myself say this but I am a bit disappointed that Daniella Westbrook isn't in the

The three finalists Gary Lucy, Hayley Tammanden and Kieron Richardson will have been rehearsing all week for Sunday's live final. final - I think Kieron took her place.

Who will win? Who knows? I think the decision is fully by public vote.

If it is on skill I think the result would be Hayley, Gary and Kieron.

On performance it would be Hayley, Kieron and Gary (sorry Gary but performance is just not your thing).

But on viewers vote I think Gary might just win it with Hayley second (Hayley has been great, but no one likes a 'clever clogs').

Tune in (do people still say 'tune n'?) on Sunday evening (and don't forget to put you clocks forward) to find out.

ShareThis

I have added a new feature to my blog. Look out for the green Share This button at the end of each post. the button lets you send any post to Facebook, blogger or lots of other social network sites.

I say watch out for it because I have had some problems with it - the button keeps disappearing!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Oranges are Oranges

I while ago I posed the question

If oranges were blue, would they be called 'blues', or would they still be called 'oranges'?

Well the answer is they would still be called 'oranges'.

The colour Orange is named after the orange fruit, introduced to English via the Spanish word naranja which came from the Sanskrit word नारङ्ग (nāraṅga). Before this was introduced to the English-speaking world, the colour was referred to (in Old English) as geoluhread, which translates into Modern English as yellow-red.
The first recorded use of orange as a colour name in English was in 1512, in the court of King Henry VIII. So The name of the colour comes from the fruit.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Celebrity Translation


Over the years I have seen countless celebrities interviewed on the TV and in the press. the interviews follow a well trodden route and are centered around the 'celebrity' selling\promoting their latest thing. This is so familiar that many of the younger amongst us will not know there was a time when celebrity interviews didn't mention their new book\film\play etc.

But one thing that hasn't changed is the 'code' used by celebrities to disguise what they really mean when being interviewed. Here are some of the cliches I am sure you have heard many times - with my translation net to them.

If you have any favourite phrases used by celebrities, let me know and i will tell you what they really mean.

Tired = found asleep in the gutter by the police
Tired and emotional = found drunk in the gutter by the police, and told the arresting officer s\he loved him
Suffering from exhaustion = on tour and partied every night for a week, so drunk they can't stand
Spent £30,000 last year on flowers = spent £30,000 last year on drugs
Suffering bronchitis = about to appear on a chat show when something embarrassing has been exposed in the press (sorry Cheryl)
Can't make it tonight = wasn't invited
Can't make it tonight as in the recording studio = was invited but not not getting an award so I'm not going
Award is so special to me because the viewers voted for it = I want a proper award
I would like to thank the crew = I don't know who the crew are
I love the UK - I hate the UK but you but so buy so much of my stuff
I'm looking forward to seeing more of your country = they have put me in a hotel in Slough
I love the English weather = I hate the English weather
I have come to this chat show specially - I couldn't get any other bookings

Cheryl Cole

I was talking to a friend at work the other day and the conversation naturally turned to Cheryl Cole. My friend pointed out that she hadn't been on TV or the press as much recently - for obvious reasons, but she is a miss.

My friend pointed out that she was doing Radio 1 live lounge, (but I forgot about is so might have missed it) and she was of course on Sport Relief, for the Dance for sport Relief bit.

But this did remind me that some readers might have missed a few important steps in Cheryl's recent life, to take up where we left off:
  • Cheryl moved home
  • Cheryl flew to Copenhagen to perform on Danish X Factor
  • Ashley was in Biarritz with his foot
  • Ashley shouted at reportes to leave him alone (he used a word can't report on here)
  • Ashley is in a bad way so Cheryl has softened her stance
  • Sammi Fugill (the girl Ashley dated before Cheryl) says Ashley cheated on her with her mate Nicola - Sammi is glad she had the self-respect to dump him (but presumably not enough self-respect to not sell the story to Heat magazine)
  • Sammi remembers when she first met Cheryl in 2003 - she thought Cheryl was a bit of a gobby cow, but she was nice enough and she looked lovely even back then
  • Cheryl told Ashley she wanted to have relationship summit to sort out their marriage
  • Cheryl and Ashley had a 10 minute relationship summit
  • a 'friend' of Cheryl told the press Cheryl only told Ashley that to shut him up and make him feel better
  • Cheryl got bronchitis and had to cancel appearances on Jonathan Ross and Chris Moyles
  • Cheryl recovered from bronchitis and did Sport's Relief
  • Cheryl is going to take time out and not make any decisions about getting a divorce
  • Cheryl confirmed she wouldn't be hiring Fiona Shacklton (McCartneys) as her divorce lawyer

And that is where I think we are.

Cheryl resorting to having bronchitis has made me think there are lots of things celebrities say - but they mean something else. Future post I think.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Boyzone

I watched the Boyzone tribute to Stephen Gately, not a great Boyzone fan, don’t think I could name more than a couple o their tunes, but there was nothing else on so watched it.

Never seen them perform before but they all seemed to have all become a bit more gay, as if to make up for Stephen not being thee. I am all for it, but I think they were going a bit too far - they were freaking me out!

Also Ronan said the new album was their fourth album - that can’t be right, they have been around forever. Checked on the Googlenet and found these albums

1995: Said and Done
1996: A Different Beat
1998: Where We Belong
1999: By Request
2008: Back Again... No Matter What
2010: Brother

That makes six as far as I can see - maybe a fan can clear up this up for me?

Dancing on Ice - the semi-final

Semi final at last, was beginning to think we would never get here! Required element tonight a solo spot lasting at least 20 seconds.

Battle of the dresses Holly looking fabulous in yellow - can be a tricky colour for a blonde to wear but she looked great, but a fabulous response from Jayne with full length purple\grey silk red carpet number. Have to call it a draw this week!

First up Hayley dancing to one of my favourite Bette Midler songs, In My Life, lovely routine with a 6.0 from Robin Cousins - and I guess he should know best.

Gary Lucy Good performance from Gary but Jason ripped into him, might have been a bit harsh, but fundamentally Jason is right, much as I like Gary, he is a bit stiff and doesn’t give the best of performances. Think he could be the one to lose out tonight.

Got some comments from Karen after a couple of quiet weeks when she was in the press for other things.

Daniella Westbrook Lovely routine from Daniella - think best of the night so far with only Kieron to go. Not reflected in the score - maybe I was watching something else? Nice top on Matthew - very Ibiza holiday. Wasn’t much of a Daniella fan at the start, but she has done well over the course of the series. Strange comments from Karen, she seemed to stop speaking in the middle of her review for some reason.

Kieron Richardson Everyone says how good looking Kieron is - is he good looking? He has got nice eyebrows though. Don’t know what they did to his hair tonight, but I guess that answers the previous question! Bit disappointed in the routine, never heard of the song, so he might have blown it. Should

Leader board this week, Hayley, Gary, and third equal Daniella and Kieron.

Skate off prediction for the boys Kieron and Gary. Difficult to predict who the judges would save but I think against expectation - Gary could be the one to leave tonight.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Kelly Crabtree

Is Kelly Crabtree leaving Coronation Street? Now I think about it I think I saw something ages ago that said she was leaving. Tonight's Corrie has to be the best soap leaving scene I have seen in a long time (apart from maybe Bradley leaving EastEnders).

If you didn't see it you have to catch up with it on ITV Player - second episode Friday 19 March 2010 - scene in the rover Corrie at its magnificent best!

Lipstick

This one goes past me a bit (but this blog is not just all about me) but I feel I need to pass on this vital information.

Do you use lipstick or lip gloss? For this season, lip gloss is so last season. Lipstick will be everywhere – so if you have a bag full of glosses – chuck them in the bin and get down to Boots and dig out some new colours.

And don’t go raking round your beauty chest at home – those old cracked and half eaten lipsticks need to go in the bin as well … do you know how much bacteria there is on an old lipstick?

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Oranges

If oranges were blue, would they be called 'blues', or would they still be called 'oranges'?

And if Oranges are called 'oranges' because they are orange, why aren't bananas called 'yellows'?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Leeds Hotels - The Radisson

I am staying at the Radisson this week, not a conscious choice, just lack of availability at the Queens.

I don’t mind the Radisson, it’s a bit of a trek from the train station, but it could be worse.

Check-in was fine by very helpful young man on the desk. I often wonder if your room has already been allocated by the time you get to the hotel, and check-in is just process to hand over your key or whether your room allocation is decided when you arrive and at the whim of the person checking you in. I am always nice to check-in people, just in case.

Got to my room, which was conveniently located next to the lift – why do I always seem to get a room right next to the lift!

Although to be fair – the lift is in a central lobby (or should that be foyer? Or maybe it is a ‘vestibule’? But as my room is on the third floor, so I don’t think that that can be right either, and since were are no connecting doors, I don’t think it can be a ‘hall’) anyway the bedrooms are off to the side, so really you are not right next to the lift – as you can be in The Met.

I enjoy the eager anticipation of getting into your room for the first time – to see what delights await you. The enjoyment is slightly dampened when you have been to a hotel before, as in general, the rooms are all pretty much the same, where the only variations are the room dimensions.

Regular readers of my blog will know I am fairly easy to please and am generally happy with whatever comes my way, but I have to say I was a little disappointed with my room.

The room was happily described as a double, but it must be the smallest double room in the Northern Hemisphere. I would hate to have been staying in the room with someone else as really it was little more than a small single room.

Having stayed at the Radisson before I knew what to expect decor wise, but fitting out the tiniest bedroom on the planet must have presented some interesting challenges for the room outfitters. For example I did have an iron, but it was nailed to the wall, as was the ironing board. I am by no means and aesthete, and call me picky, but an iron and ironing board hanging from your bedroom wall does not add to the overall ambiance of your room.

The TV was the smallest TV I have ever seen and stuck in a corner so it could not be seen from the armchair. I say armchair … it did, I have to admit, have arms, and could be loosely described as a chair but it was not what I call an armchair.

The TV did thankfully have a remote, but it had such a minuscule power range that I had to stand two inches from the TV to get any sort of electronic response. Changing from channel to channel was possible providing you persisted and pressed the button hard enough, but forget about accessing the menu or changing colour depth. For two days I thought Hew Edwards had had an all over spray tan.

The bathroom can be a major source of harassment in any hotel. The sink had one of those plug\leaver arrangements. To my mind this is totally unnecessary. I am fine with pulling a plug out of a plughole, I don’t need a lever arch mechanism to help achieve sink drainage. Introducing these feats of engineering only serves to complicate the process, and is just something else to breakdown. The plug in my sink refused to stay in place and continually 'popped up' when i tried to put it in place. The annoyance factor was somewhat mitigated by the fact that the sink had the slowest drainage rate in existence, achieving the magnificent rate of two teaspoons of water every 15 minutes.

The towels looked clean enough, but on picking one up they felt extremely coarse. It was as if they had been woven by Trappist monks in the seventeenth century. I did try one of them on one occasion, but it removed an entire layer of my epidermis so I had to ask for fresh towels.

There was one positive point - the room was actually warm! After months of freezing in hotel rooms, this one was actually warm, and the heating wasn't even switched on. Something to think about for the summer - that could mean the room will be unbearable.

Oh no - sounds like I am planning to still be in Leeds for the summer!

Double Denim

I did notice that David Beckham had committed one of the greatest sins in fashion this week – the double denim look. I put this faux pas down to his distress at probable exclusion from the World cup. But apparently not – the ‘hottest look’ for this season is to go ‘double denim’.

I don’t often give fashion advice, but on this subject I feel I must –

Double denim – No, No, and thrice No – I don’t care what the fashionistas say don’t do it.

And a word of warning for gentlemen of a certain age – nothing says to the world you are over 40 like wearing a denim jacket. If you are close to or over 40 and own a denim jacket – throw it out immediately

If you must do ‘double denim’ click the link for guidelines.

PS If you don't know what a cocktail ring is - you haven't got one!

Orange

Every Monday morning I get text form Orange to tell me that as I didn’t top-up at the weekend I haven’t won a prize. Why do they send me such texts, I know I didn’t top-up at the weekend because I was there and I would remember if I had splashed out a pound so I could send texts to people I don’t want to talk to. Although having said that I did once get a text to say that as I had topped up I had won a prize – a day out at a pony farm. What the hell am I going to do at a pony farm! I text them back to say they could keep their rotten prize.

New text today from Orange to get me to use 'Magic Numbers' - whatever they are. Orange tell me I can 'chat to my bestest, bestet, friends for up to an hour for 20p'.

Well I don't have 'bestest, bestest friends' thank you very much, I am not six! And even if I did have 'bestest, bestest friends' I wouldn't be splashing out 20p an hour with Orange just for the privilege of talking to them.

Lift

I notice there has been a job advertisement for a Lift Operator for the House of Commons. What is that all about! When was the last time you were in a lift that had a lift operator?

When I was a child I remember if you went into a Department store then there would usually be a lift operator, but I had thought for the last 30 years we had done away with such things. Or is the House of Commons the only place on the planet where it is considered that the occupants should be spared the ordeal of pressing a button?

Monday, 15 March 2010

David Beckham

I do like David Beckham (not keen on her though) and I am sorry that he will probably miss out on the World Cup in South Africa in June (there is a debate on how effective he would have been anyway, but I leave that to others with more knowledge on the subject to discuss) but I have to correct the reporter on tonight's 6 o'clock News - the country is not in mourning because David Beckham has hurt his foot.

There was one other interesting moment in the TV report - they went to great trouble to show us how damage to an Achilles tendon was caused and how it is repaired. Bit of a waste of effort for anyone that works in the Leeds office where damaged Achilles tendons are almost a daily occurrence!

Daffodils

Are we going to have any daffodils this year? Or because it has been so cold this winter are we not going to bother?

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Dancing on Ice - Props week

Props night tonight - both Chris and Jayne say they don’t really like the props. The contestants don’t like the props. The viewers don’t like the props - so what we doing it for?

Been a bit of a tussle in the press this week between judges Nicky and Jason - apparently they can’t stand each other. According to the gossip Jason is a prima donna pain in the neck - who knew!

Still no mention of Chris’s split from his wife, or the comfort provided by judge Karen Barber to Chris during his difficult time. Wonder if Karen will get a bigger speaking part this week?

Battle of the dresses with a couple of paleish pink numbers. Not sure they flattered either Holly or Jayne and don’t know what Jayne has done with her hair this week, honours to Holly this time.

Semi final next week so the pressure is on. First up Gary ……………

Gary Lucy Dancing with te stick for Gary, not sure what they did to his hair this week, looks like there has been a bit of crimping going ion. Can you still get crimpers? Dancing to Ian Drury and the Blockheads, Hit me with your Rhythm Stick - wonder how long it took them to come up with that choice! Not bad but a few stumbles at the end where he couldn’t decide whether to do a jump or not! All in all Ian Drury will turning in his grave to think his masterpiece has ended up as background music to Dancing on Ice.

Daniella Westbrook Dancing with the chair and dressed as a demure secretary - are you kidding me? Can’t wait foe the bit where she lets her hair down and we say ‘Oh Daniella you are beautiful’. Now I think about it - I think I have seen this film! Seemed to spend most of the routine sitting on the chair and not skating- but what do I know, she got 5.5 across the board - almost maximum score.

Kieron Richardson The mike stand for Kieron, don’t think we have had the mike stand before? Dancing to The Great Pretender. If he was supposed to be Freddie it fell flat as a pancake! Bit embarrassing really - pleased when it was over. Think he is in trouble this week. Still the judges sort of liked it to get his highest score of the series.

Three couples in and still no visit to Karen Barber to ask her views on the performances.

Hayley Tammenden Maximum score last week so a lot to live up to this week. Dancing with umbrella and surprisingly tune of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head - what a surprise. Still it could have been that rotten Rihanna song. Don’t know who was singing the tune, but she was off key and got the words wrong! Nasty little top for Dan this week, he doesn’t suit that pale blue colour,(although the man said the colour was ‘spearmint‘). Missed the dance but looked a bit boring to me. Score down from 30 last week to 26.5 this week - still a great score.

Danny Young Orange hat for Danny to dance with - wonder why it had to be orange? Then we got to see the outfit - all it was missing was big floppy red shoes - good performance though. Think he made the best of the props. Was that his mam in the audience or his girlfriend? Good score and think it was second highest of the night.

Wel not my imagination watched carefully this week and there were no visits to Karen Barber to hear her views - I hope they are getting a refund on her fee - I could sit there all night and say nothing.

Tough completion question this week - Who sang the song ‘Spice up our life? A) The Saturdays, B) The Spice Girls, or C) The Pussycat Dolls. If only there was some clue in the question …… Still the prize is tio sit for six hours in frezing cold studio whil ethe film next weeks show. Don’t think I’ll bother thanks.

Only a top two now - Gary and Danny.

Skate off prediction Kieron and Hayley (controversial).

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Icon - Jane Russell

The beutiful and sexy Jane Russell - few clips singing her biggest tunes

Buttons and bows

My resistance is Low

When Love Goes Wrong

Tribute - if you can cope with a bit of Engelbert singing

And of course from 1953 with Marilyn singing Two Little Girls From Little Rock

Spot the difference with French and Saunders

Mark Owen

Well it has been quite a year so far for our male celebrities and their indiscretions. Latest one is Mark Owen, apparently he has been having affairs right left and centre all the time he has been married to his wife of five years.

He has now taken the trouble to tell us all the details and apologised. For me its fine he doesn’t have to, I don’t really mind. But since he has raised the subject I feel I can comment.

As far as I can see he has only declared his apology because one of the young ladies he has been ‘carrying on with’ as my grandmother would say has told all to a newspaper. Saying you are sorry because you have been found out is not an unconditional apology - it sounds more like ‘I am sorry I have been caught’, which is not the same thing.

Nor is, ‘I am sorry but I have had problems with alcohol for ten years’. That is really ‘sorry but it isn’t really my fault’.

So if you are not going to make a proper apology, why bother?

The press of course love it, and they have been at pains to tell us at every opportunity that ‘it has been well known in media circles for years that Mark had a drink problem, but we respected him so didn’t report it’. Yeah right - of course you did!

We have moved onto the next page of the script, Mark has gone into ‘rehab’.

I say script because there is always a well tried order to these things. I forget the next step in the process, I think in three weeks he appears on GMTV to tell us how he has lived through years of hell and how he kept everything secret from even his close friends but how he now feels much better and he has the strength to carry on. Or is the next step an interview in the News of the World? I can’t remember, I will have to check my Amy Winehouse files.

Lib Dem Conference

Saw Nick Clegg being interviewed ahead of the Lib Dem Conference this morning, he was asked what his approach would be to a Hung Parliament.

He said that he wasn't Superman and didn't have a crystal ball ....

Not sure I followed that bit - from memory I don't recall Superman being famous for having a crystal ball?

Friday, 12 March 2010

Breakfast at the Queens

I am back at the Queens this week and after a couple of wobbles over the last two weeks (there were no cushions on my sofa last week and the week before, although there were a couple of occasional tables and two writing desks, I didn’t really have a table that was quite suitable to eat from) sanity has been restored.

Having breakfast can be the trickiest part of any stay in a hotel. As I have reported before the restaurant in the Queens is in the basement, which is a bit strange, but I am sure they know what they are doing. As you walk in, the restaurant is in two sections. The staff steer everyone to the left and leave the right side untouched. I suppose they do this to reduce the amount of clearing up – but the restaurant isn’t very big and can get a bit crowded.

Over the time I have been going there I have established what I call ‘my table’. It is on the right and round the corner, well away from everyone else. The only problem is sometimes they don’t set out the tables on the right to force clients into going to the left.

This is what happened this morning. At first I didn’t mind too much as Friday’s are usually fairly quiet, especially at 06:45. But this week it was busy for some reason. I resigned myself to sitting with the riff-raff ... or ... ‘other hotel guests’ as they prefer to be called.

I was just about to take my seat when a charming young man asked me if I would like him to make up my usual table. I was quite surprised that he knew I had ‘a usual table’. I did recognise him from a few earlier visits to the restaurant, but he rarely does breakfast so amazed he knew. I accepted his offer, he then amazed me further by saying it was no problem and called me by name!

‘I am surprised you remember my name’ I responded

‘Oh everyone knows your name sir’ he said.

Wonder what he meant by that?

Ping

I was attending a meeting today chaired by my friend; we had just started when I heard this ‘pinging’ noise. And then a clattering sound. It caught everyone’s attention as we realised that my friend’s belt had fallen to pieces, the buckle lying on the floor and the belt lying loosely round my friend’s waist. A quick recovery was made as the belt, and buckle, were dumped unceremoniously in the bin.

There is someone that never went through the Second World War. I am sure it could have been repaired!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Cakes

I was chatting to a friend at work earlier about a work issue and the conversation naturally turned to cake. We both agreed that all cake was good cake, the only issue was the priority order for cakes. I suggested the following order:

Chocolate (in all its varieties brownies etc)
Carrot
Dundee
Fruit
Madeleine
Eccles
Peach melba (in all its varieties vanilla slices etc)
Genoa
Battenberg
Coconut (in all its varieties, macaroons, etc)
Jam sponge
Bakewell
Ginger
Marble
Madeira
Éclair
Lemon cake

We had a bit of a disagreement over this pecking order, for example my friend would not rate chocolate cake as number 1. How can that be, I thought chocolate was everyone’s favourite.

But this took us to a deeper discussion and more fundamental questions. What is cake? When is a cake a pudding?

Tricky questions, but an important ones.

There are some things that are clearly puddings, for example apple crumble. Is it a pudding because you can put custard on it? Well I am not so sure because you can put custard on ginger cake, but it is still a cake.

My friend suggested Peach Melba was more a pudding than a cake. It so is not! I don’t know what sort of Peach Melbas my friend eats but they are not puddings!

Then what about apple pie. That is not a cake it is a pie. But if you put custard on it - it becomes a pudding.

Then there are bakewells, but they are tarts. Are tarts cakes or puddings? Or are they neither, if neither, what are they?

This is becoming more and more confusing!

How to resolve this problem? I will have to resort to a tried and tested method for resolving such matters. If you were with the Queen, what would you do?

The scenario - you are having tea with the Queen, you offer her some cake. You wouldn’t give the Queen a slice of apple crumble - that must make that a pudding. You might offer a slice of Battenberg - that must make that a cake. Problem solved!


GLOSSARY OF CAKES

Cakes and Puddings

Cakes are usually baked, with the obvious exception of things like pancakes and griddle cakes. Whereas puddings are likely to be eaten hot at a main meal cakes are more likely to be eaten cold with a lighter meal or as a snack. In practice cake and pudding mixes may be similar, for example Christmas cake is like the pudding but with much less fat in it, and cake type mixes may be baked and served as a dessert.

Puddings are often steamed and usually sweet.

There are non-sweet puddings. Steak and kidney pudding is meat pieces steamed inside a suet pastry case. Yorkshire pudding is a flour/milk/water mix viciously beaten and cooked at high temperature in fat in the oven.

Is it Spring Yet?

A question I have heard a lot over the last few weeks now – Is it Spring Yet?

For some the advent of spring is heralded by the sound of the cuckoo. I have heard people say that all my life. What is that all about - who has ever actually heard a cuckoo? I wouldn’t know what a cuckoo looked like if one came up to me in street and asked me if I had change for a fiver.

So how do you know it is spring? Is it all the daffodils lining all the streets – fat chance this year, nearly the middle of March and I haven’t seen one.

No, for me I know it is spring when we see men’s ankles and\or calves (or is that calfs?). Let me explain.

For the winter months of January and February (and a bit of December) the majority of men wearing casual clothes manage to wear trousers\jeans (or their variations of track suits, or some garment called ‘joggers’ (whatever they are)) etc that go from the waist to the floor (more or less).

But on some pre-determined date, this convention stops. We then move into a phase where it is (apparently) acceptable to wear trousers that go from the waist, but stop before they get anywhere near the floor. This stopping point can be anywhere from mid calf (where the calf is at its thickest) to somewhere just above the top of the shoe.

The ‘pre-determined date’ is the day from which it is decided that it is no longer cold and it is ok to wear trousers in such a way. I don’t know who decides what the date is, or how the decision is communicated to all concerned, but it is the day I call the first day of spring.

I don’t often give advice, but here goes.

The cut-off trouser look is not a good look. If you have fat calves then having the cut off point at calf level only accentuates this feature of you legs. If you have skinny calves, then the effect is even worse. Having trousers flapping round miniscule calves is not flattering to anyone.

If you are average or shorter than average height, then cutting off your trousers at mid point will just make you look shorter.

If you are tall then the effect will just make it look like you couldn’t get trousers to fit.

To sum up – there are no situations where these abbreviated garments will make you look good. There are no occasions where it is acceptable or advisable to wear such garments. If you own such items, throw them out immediately.

I realise this will make it more difficult for me to work out when spring starts, but I can live with that. Maybe I should listen out for a cuckoo after all.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Darwin Award

This monthly Award is given to the person that has done the most to demonstrate the superiority of the development of the human brain over other species.

This month’s Award goes to the Gentleman I saw heading towards the Leeds office on Friday morning. The gentleman was pulling an overnight bag as he headed purposefully towards the Leeds office. It is not unusual to see people wandering the streets of Leeds on a Friday morning pulling an overnight bag (or over several nights bag as some of us do), but what drew my attention was the fact that the gentleman appeared to be talking to himself.

Closer inspection revealed he was on the phone but using one of those ridiculous, hands free, contraptions that people leave permanently attached to their ear, so that as soon as an emergency arises they can instantly be connected without the bother of locating their phone. I

am sure they have a ‘technical product name’ but I have absolutely no desire to know what it is. Using one of these devices is sufficient to qualify you for consideration for the Darwin Award on its own, but this gentleman took its use into a whole new arena. I was curious to know what was so urgent at 8:00 on a Friday morning. I quickened my pace and caught up, then slowed down, as you do.

I listened ….. ‘I shall target the 4 o’clock …. ‘I overheard. ‘I will check the train schedule, and aim for one around then’.

I was intrigued and worried. What was he going to target? Not a train to New Pudsey I hope (see earlier posts). Was this some nascent terrorist plot?

Listening further it turned out to be a train back to London he wanted to catch. The rest of the conversation was further tedious detail of how he planned to catch the train, how he would get to the station, how long the journey would take blah, blah blah!

So not important at all and absolutely no need to make yourself look like an idiot with one of those things in your ear. What is wrong with putting off the call for five minutes, getting to the office, taking your coat off, sitting down with a cup of tea and making a call? Or better still, send a text saying ‘will be home at usual time’ - spare everyone from having to listen.

The Award for proving human intelligence is greater than other species intelligence is given on three counts:
  • owning, using and walking down the street with a hands free phone;
  • using the expression 'will target' instead of ' will catch'; and
  • thinking it is of vital importance to tell someone your evening travel arrangements in the street at 8 o'clock in the morning.

Is it practise or practice?

There is always the difficulty of recognising American English spellings and British English spellings with words like these.

Whether we like it or not, much of our language is now heavily influenced by American English spellings. We use both forms in British English – one is a verb (doing word) and the other a noun (thing).

Practise
This is the verb ‘to practise’ and also the adjective from that verb (bullet 4 below).
Examples:

I practise the piano.
You are practising golf.

The doctor has been practising for 10 years.

He is a practised man.

Practice
This is the noun ‘the practice’ (as in ‘piano practice’ and ‘a doctor’s practice’).
Examples:

I have done my football practice.

Without enough practice, she would not get better at English.

Practice makes perfect.

She visits her local doctor’s practice.

See also: Is it license or licence?

Certain sets of words follow group rules of English grammar. Many rules of grammar are quite mathematical, with groups of words falling into building-blocks which all act the same way.
For example, the spelling rules are the same for ‘practice’, ‘licence’ and ‘advice’: the noun has a ‘c’, while the verb has an ‘s’.

One way of remembering this is that the word ‘noun’ comes before the word ‘verb’ in the dictionary; likewise ‘c’ comes before ‘s’, so the nouns are ‘practice/licence/advice’ and the verbs are ‘practise/license/advise’.

In fact, the confusion arises with ‘practice’ and ‘licence’ mainly because they sound the same with the ‘c’ or the ‘s’. However, with ‘advice’ and ‘advise’, there is a shift in sound, so there is no confusion at all. We can use this to our advantage: another way of knowing which to use is to replace the ‘practice’ or ‘licence’ word you want with ‘advice’ or ‘advise’ – this will tell you whether you need the ‘c’ or the ‘s’ spelling.

So, in the following phrase, let’s say you are unsure which to write:

I do not like this ‘practise/practice’.

Replace the word you want with ‘advice’ or ‘advise’.

I do not like this ‘advice’.

So – you will need:

I do not like this ‘practice’.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Oscars 2010

Not really a big Oscars fan, (they have never really been the same since Miss Gloria Swanson missed out for Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard in 1950) but if you need to see some of the dresses at the Oscars these pictures should keep you up to date.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Icon - Bridgette Bardot

Let’s make it French week on the Blog - reference to Vanessa Paradis couple of days ago, so to keep the theme going, the latest icon to feature as having an influence on my life is Bridgette Bardot.

Bardot Photo gallery to French tune

Bardot compilation

Bardot gallery - to Time After Time

If you want to try looking like Bardot - check out the make up tips

Dancing on Ice at the Movies

Getting near the end now with only six contestants left. Required element this week, a solo spin, with a theme of Dancing on Ice at the Movies. Not sure why we have to have this theme - tell me its not because it is Oscar night in the USA. Do we usually have ‘Night at the Movies’ week?

No mention of Chris’s split from his wife, or the comfort provided by judge Karen Barber to Chris during this difficult time.

Battle of the dresses with three clear win for Holly with stunning Red Carpet number.

Danny Young First up and dancing routine to film ‘Rocky’. Had thought this would be a bit cringe worthy but after his confidence boost last week, it was rather good - and losing the top didn’t hurt either.

Daniella Westbrook Next up Daniella got Summer Nights, Grease. There must have been a million films, but when they do these things they always pick the same old films. I love Grease as much as the next person, but give it a rest and try something new. Can’t bear to watch, life is too short.

Mikey Graham Notting Hill for Mikey dancing to Ronan’s You Say Nothing At All. Slimming down but pleased he didn’t get Rocky - best keep the shirt on. Better routine than last week - but that wouldn’t be difficult after last week’s disaster. Think he has to be a contender for skate off this week.

Gary Lucy Dancing to a song from Pulp Fiction - can’t comment as have never seen the film. Routine couldn’t end soon enough for me. Jason got quite cross during the marking, which was the most interesting part of the routine. And he was right, it was dull!

Kieron Richardson Pink Panther for Kieron, but another tedious routine, must have dozed off when he did his solo spin, but I didn’t see it. He finally got his first 20+ score so well done, but not really that good. Did he have that scar on his lip before his accident last week? Never noticed before.

Hayley Tammenden Jai-Ho form Slumdog Millionaire for Hayley this week, a tough of Bollywood and by any standards a great effort. Best of the night, and great outfits - wonder where Dan got his top from?

Wonder if it was my imagination, but did Holly avoid going to Karen for comments on the performances?

Top three - Hayley and Danny. Not sure if I can come up with three this week. Gary at a push. Skate-off prediction Mikey and Daniella.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Vanessa Paradis

I see Vanessa Paradis has told husband Johnny Depp that she wants him to quit his latest film the Tourist as she doesn’t want him to do sex scenes with Angelina Jolie.

Why on earth would anyone worry about their husband being so close to La Jolie - oh yes, now I remember!

Keep your hands off this one Jolie!


The lovely Vanessa Paradis - Joe Le Taxi if you want a wander down 1988 (my happiest year)

Change at GMTV

There has been a bit of an internal revolution at GMTV, losing Penny Smith as part of cost-cutting. Penny put a brave face on it, saying the changes will allow her to move on and do other exciting things. It is just as well really since she has been sacked. But I sort of quite like Penny and think they missed a great opportunity to get rid of the dreadful Andrea Catherwood.

Another change is for John Stapleton. He is now going to be a ‘more heavy weight’ journalist, getting to the heart of the big stories. Apparently GMTV has ‘dumbed down.’ too far – whatever can they mean?

John’s first major serious story is to cover the Prime Minister’s appearance later today at the Iraq inquiry. To do this GMTV made him stand outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in central London (where they are holding the enquiry) so he could interview a few people on the doorstep. What was the point of that – there is no one in the building at 7 0’clock in the morning and the studio is only a short distance away. Why not have the discussions in the studio?

This is all part of a fashion in News reporting, where they send some poor reporter to stand outside an empty building to report on what is going to happen ‘in the building behind me’ in six hours time. Or they stand outside the House of Commons and report on what happened there yesterday! Save a bit of time and effort, report from the studio we all know what the House of Commons looks like!

Oh and by the way – John if you are reading – the leather gloves you were wearing did not go with your camel coat – they made you look rather louche.

Don’t you love GMTV

There was an item on GMTV this morning about the rising cost of petrol. This is one of those happy stories for GMTV (and others) it can be wheeled out at anytime when stories are a bit light. This morning we were treated to the revealing news that petrol prices have gone up, and in case you hadn’t noticed if you are used to putting £20 a time in your tank, you will have to go to the petrol station more often to fill up. To demonstrate this point GMTV helpfully showed a car driving into a petrol station. This is all very worrying news.

Fortunately they had an ‘expert’ on hand to help us work out what to do. After a bit of a discussion, the question was posed on behalf of us all - ‘How can I reduce the amount I spend on petrol?’ The experts considered advice was ‘use less petrol’. Marvellous, if only I could have thought of that!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Bottles

Bit of an issue this week in chicken hut number 44. Hut lead chicken came into the office only to find half a dozen other chickens had moved into his seat without his knowledge.

They had also left a pile of empty water bottles (can you have an empty water bottle? If there is nothing in it then how can it be described as lacking water, does it not lack any sort of liquid substance? You might as well describe them as empty beer bottles since they don’t contain anything. I should have corrected him to say that actually what he had on his desk were four empty bottles, use of the descriptor ‘water’ was not required, but he didn’t look in the mood for such a discussion, so I left it. But I digress), and some discarded coffee cartons, presumably bought by chickens to wander the streets with (please see earlier blog on cardboard boxes containing coffee).

Lead chicken wasn’t amused!

Channel 4

There was a brief TV review on GMTV this morning, little bit about a couple of shows on Channel 4 tonight. First one was about one of those programmes where strange things happen to people, like ‘I spent two years without a head’ that sort of thing. One of the items covered is about a woman who falls unconscious every time she laughs. How bizarre!

Funnily enough I suffer from a similar ailment – I fall unconscious every time I walk into a workshop room.

Second programme on Channel 4 tonight is the start of new series of Country House Rescue, with the magnificent Ruth Watson. She used to be the Hotel Inspector but has moved onto taking crumbling old country houses and turning them into profitable ventures – unmissable TV for me.

On Hold

Chatting to colleague this morning, she was full of bemusement at the randomness of a phone experience this morning. While phoning a hire car company this morning, she was put on hold, the music chosen by the company for her to while away an hour or two was ‘Food Glorious Food’ from the 1968 the hit film Oliver!

‘Fine if I was phoning the National Bulimic Society’ she said, ‘that would be quite funny, but not a car hire firm’!

I thought that was quite cutting, and funny!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Hollywood Glamour

If you have five minutes to look at some old fashioned Hollywood

The 20 Most Beautiful Actresses Pre-1960

Icon - Mae West

Always liked black and white movies growing up, well there were a lot more then and there were no colour TVs so all movies were in black and white!

A little bit before my time - but a favourite anyway.

Mae West in I'm No Angel Trailer

Mae West Clip from the 1935 movie "Goin' to Town"

A few Mae West tunes

who's doing who wrong?

"Now I'm a Lady"

And some quotes from Mae … and a few more

John Terry

Watched a bit of the football tonight (England v Egypt), noticed John Terry had had a bit of a hair-cut, for a moment I thought it was David Beckham. I am no psychologistbut they say when women have a drastic change of hair style - (e.g. long hair and suddenly all cut off for a new short style) it is a sign that they have made a major change in life, usually after ditching a partner (or being chucked by one). Perhaps Terry has come to a major life change and will soon be single!

Back to the match .... in the pre-match commentary with some footballing experts, they were all sounding very confident, saying the forwards 'all know where the net is'.

Well I guess given the nature of the game about to be played that is fairly useful.

Newcastle Australia

I was chatting to a colleague the other day and he was telling me he was from Newcastle. I am no expert in accents, but he didn’t sound like a Geordie to me. He went on to explain he was from Newcastle Australia. And went on to say he was an ‘antipodean’.

‘I thought you said you were from Australia’?

‘I am – the Antipodes is Australia’ he said

I’ll have to look that up later, I thought, but for now there is a question I have always wanted to ask a person from Australia, so here was my opportunity.

‘You know when …’ I began, ‘you are in Australia, does it feel like you are walking upside down?’

He gave me a funny look and said – ‘No of course it doesn’t’.

Well I’ve never been there so how was I supposed to know. Anyway not put off I decided to investigate this concept of the Antipodes – I have of course heard the expression, but where are ‘the Antipodes? Are there more than one Antipodes? How do you know if you have an Antipode? Are the Antipodes connected to Herod Antipas? So many questions.

Definition of the Antipodes
The antipodes of any place on the Earth is the place that is diametrically opposite it, so a line drawn from the one to the other passes through the centre of the Earth and forms a true diameter. For example, the antipodes of New Zealand's lower North Island lies in Spain. Most of the Earth's land surfaces have ocean at their antipodes, this being a consequence of most land being in the land hemisphere.
An antipodal point is sometimes called an antipode, a back formation from the plural antipodes, which in Greek is the plural of the singular antipous.
The antipodes of any place on Earth are distant from it by 180° of longitude and as many degrees to the north of the equator as the original is to the south (or vice versa); in other words, the latitudes are numerically equal, but one is north and the other south.
Noon at the one place is midnight at the other (ignoring daylight saving and irregularly-shaped time zones) and, with the exception of the tropics, the longest day at one point corresponds to the shortest day at the other, and midwinter at one point is contemporaneous with midsummer at the other.

Exact or almost exact antipodes:Palembang (Indonesia) — Neiva (Colombia)
Padang (Indonesia) — Esmeraldas (Ecuador)
Valdivia (Chile) — Wuhai (China)
Hamilton (New Zealand) — Córdoba (Spain)
Christchurch (New Zealand) — A Coruña (Spain)
Tauranga (New Zealand) — Jaén (Spain)
Whangarei (New Zealand) — Tangier (Morocco)
Ulan Ude (Russia) — Puerto Natales (Chile)

To within 100 km, with at least one major city (pop ≥ 1 million):
Xi'an (China) — Santiago, or more precisely Rancagua or San Bernardo (Chile)
Auckland (New Zealand) — Seville (Spain)
Tianjin (China) — Bahía Blanca (Argentina)
Perth (Australia) — Hamilton (Bermuda)
Shanghai (China)— Salto (Uruguay)
Taipei (Taiwan) — Asunción (Paraguay)
Hong Kong — Humahuaca (Argentina)
Taiwan (formerly called Formosa) is partly antipodal to the province of Formosa in Argentina.


So by this definition it turns out Australia isn't an Antipodes - well not to me anyway.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Not Well

Off to Leeds today for another week of life in this capital of Yorkshire. Bit of a sleepless night beforehand as I am not feeling too well. This 'unwellness' was confirmed when I sneezed this morning. Straight off to Boots for some Max strength capsules to take with my £2.99 meal deal.

I struggled on manfully and thought I was coping well and perhaps I wasn't ill after all. Had a bit of a chat with a colleague and she told me Cheryl Cole had been in the papers again. My response was just 'oh has she?'

It was only later I realised I hadn't asked why she had been in the papers and what was she wearing that I realised that I must be quite ill after all!

Spring In Leeds

I noticed Spring has arrived in Leeds today, heading back from the office I wandered past The Scarborough and noticed the landlord had put a couple of tables outside with an assortment of chairs and a couple of windbreaks. There was even a customer sitting at one of the tables having a pint of lager - how very European.

If only the pub wasn't on the main bus route into the train station and constantly shrouded in diesel fumes it would be quite pleasant.

Oh ... and also if the bar wasn't the roughest bar this side of the Wild West I might have been tempted.

How to Hold a Grudge

It has been quite a week for holding a grudge - and getting it wrong!

If you want to know how to hold a grudge successfully consider this article from the Guardian.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/02/terry-bridge-grudge