Friday, 30 July 2010

Cheryl Cole

After quite a year for Cheryl Cole, a public break up with Ashley and a bout of malaria, Cheryl is back to work and ready to take up her rightful position on X Factor. Ever the professional Cheryl has declared this year’s X Factor will be the best and most successful ever.

She knows that so much rests on a simple yes or no or the nod and shake of her head. The right decision can mean a life changing event with instant happiness, but he wrong decision can mean rejection, desolation and despair.

During Cheryl’s heroic (or should that be heroineic is that a word?) battle with the mosquito induced malaria she must have woken up in her fever ridden state, traumatised by missing the X Factor finals screaming ‘I want that one‘ and ’I don’t want that one’.

Yes it is a heavy responsibility deciding what dresses she will wear to this year’s auditions.

Last year was a bit of a disappointment for our Geordie hero as Dannii Minogue (and I hate to say it) had the better wardrobe. There were a couple of times when it was a close call, but several times when Dannii had it so right.

Still this year there is no Dannii, which just makes it harder for our Cheryl. With Dannii there she knew what she was up against, but who will be Dannii this year? Have heard several rumours about this spice girl or that spice girl joining the panel but nothing confirmed as yet.

If it is a spice girl - there won’t be much competition, scary, sporty and even Geri are no match for Cheryl. Emma B might make a bit of a stab at it, but she is too flouncy and frilly to be a serious contender. Victoria Beckham might be a bit more of a challenge, but posh can’t sit down in her clothes, she can only stand at an angle with one foot out. She would be no good doing eight hours in the Hammersmith Palais sitting at a desk pressing buttons.

So who will it be - we can only wait and see. How can it be here again so quickly!

Michael and Victoria Album

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A Night at the Races

After the excitement of a works outing to the cinema last night, there was another trip out arranged. 

This time the event was a night at the races.  The ticket price covered, entry to the venue, a meal and a drink, all for £5. 

How could I refuse such an offer?  Easily!

Scuffed Shoes

I have been having a few discussions recently on fashion related matters, (see previous posts) and the trend continues.

Friend from work (Leeds office) raised a rather distressing issue this morning concerning a marked ballet pump. The shoes (imagine Ruby Red slippers without heels) were scuffed during an unfortunate incident on the way to work, leaving a white slash across the front of the right shoe (or it might have been the left shoe as she was facing me and in these circumstances left and right become confusing). An emergency repair involving nail varnish had been attempted but I think the result needs a bit more work.

If anyone in Leeds had some dark red nail varnish, sort of the colour of the office chairs, but a bit darker, I think my friend would appreciate it!

Sunday, 25 July 2010


I have noticed a bit of a fashion statement in the office recently and thought it might be worth discussing here. 

The trend concerns sleeves and in particular men's shirt sleeves in the work environment.

Men have always rolled up their sleeves at work, there is nothing new in that, the issue arises when you wear a jumper over a work shirt, (in this context by jumper, I mean it in its British context (I think in American English a jumper is a dress, specifically a pinafore) and I mean any of its variants, pullover, sweater, (sweater being the correct term) cardigan etc).

But I digress.  In time gone by if you wore a sweater in the office and wanted to roll up your sleeves, you would take off your sweater and roll your shirt sleeves up, now I notice, some gentlemen just roll up the sweater and shirt sleeve together.

This does give a certain statement look, but there are things to consider.

In the normal course of things a man's wrist is narrower than his elbow.  Cufffs on sweaters were therefore not designed to go beyond the forearm.  This means that if you do roll the sleeve so far back, (a la Alma Sedgewick) when you take the sweater off the sleeve will be misshapen.  This will probably mean that once you have made the decision to roll back your sweater sleeves, that jumper can never again be worn with the sleeves in their normal position and will always need to be rolled back. 

Also unless the sweater is thin then you will get a rather bulky look at your elbow.  You should consider these points before rolling back your sleeves.

A couple of other points  - if you think this is too complicated and instead you think you will just wear a short sleeve shirt to work - don't, it is not a good look in the office.  And a tie with a short sleeve shirt is an abomination. 

If you think you will try a smaller fashion statement and just turn back the cuff of your shirt - be aware of the master in this look ... Jason King.


When you are at a concert why does the performer at some point encourage everyone to join in with the song and sing along.

Please stop doing that, I have paid £60 to hear you sing - so sing.  And I don't want to hear some random person standing next to me singing either.

You wouldn't pay a builder to build an extension and then expect him to give you a few bricks and tell you to join in and lay a few!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

New Feature

Following a suggestion from one of my friends, some future blog entries will be labeled. This will make it easier to link and read blogs on similar subjects. For example Fashion or Food. Look out for the label and the end of each entry and click.

Cup Cakes

After last weeks excitement of being offered home made chocolate cookies at work, a further treat was in store.

My friend from work had been busy making cup cakes for the office and offered me one. I usually kindly decline most of the treats in the office but on this occassion they did look rather tempting and the covering of coconut swung my decision. (I can never understand why in the Christmas tins of Celebrations (I know these days they are usually plastic tubs - but as far as I am concerned they are still tins) the ones left at the end are always bounty bars - bounty are the best ones!)

Anyway where was I, oh yes the cup cakes.

I took my cup cake home to have later in the day. And I have to say it was most excellent. The sponge was of a carrot cake texture with a spicy lemon kick. Topped off with thick white icing and lots of coconut - my cup cake was an absolute winner. 10/10!

For further guidance on Cakes

Rent a Friend

Just been reading about the latest trend to head our way (form Japan of all places).

The newly set up 'Friend Rental Service' is available if you need to hire a friend for a few hours. This service is not to be confused with an Escort service - which I think is something quite different.

The idea is, if you find you have no friends (or none to hand or available), you can hire someone to be your friend for a trip to an art gallery or just to go down the pub.

The standard rate is £40 an hour which is a pretty decent return for spending an hour talking to someone you don't know.

It is worth thinking about, but I am not sure it will catch on. Imagine you are in the pub playing darts with your new friend (ok not playing darts, just sitting looking out of the window) and you say 'do you remember when …?' You will have to stop and say 'no of course you don't, we just met'. Or you are at the cinema and your £40 payment expires in the middle of the film. You will have to get up and leave or pay another £40 to stay and find out what happens to Matt Damon.

No, I don' think this has been thought through properly.

There might be some mileage in doing it the other way round. For example, could I spend a couple of hours going round the shops with someone I don't know for a payment of £80, throw in a coffee and a toasted teacake and I think I could.

And what about paying your friends £40 an hour not to come round on a Sunday night at 8 o'clock when you have just sat down to watch Heartbeat!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Toes, Cuffs and Voices

It was quite an exciting return to work (Leeds office) after the weekend this week.

One of my friends was reporting an injury to a toe. You will recall we had quite a spate of injuries to foot and ankle last year, now we have one to a toe. Apparently my friend was in a rather posh restaurant at the weekend and decided to take her shoe off. (I know, I didn’t like to ask why she was taking her shoe off in a posh restaurant, but I am in a foreign land (Yorkshire) and I realise they might do things differently here)

Anyway (and this is the part where I felt quite faint) she sliced her toe on a steel trim to the table. Fortunately a passing acquaintance my friend knew from working in A&E was able to perform emergency surgery and stem the flow of blood. I shall skip over the part where my friend stuck her foot out of the window to seek help and the bit where she had to hobble down two flights of stairs to wash the blood off her foot.

All is almost well now but I think my friend will have to choose shoes for comfort rather than to match her clothes for a day or two.

On the subject of injuries one of my other lady friends, (I mean a friend who is a lady rather than one who is a paramour) has lost her voice. Funnily enough although she is whispering, I can still hear her!

One of my colleagues seems to have splashed out on a new shirt. It is quite nice, so nice in fact that I would almost consider wearing it (well almost, but not quite). I think he bought it in a Department store. My friend is a little concerned as the lining of the cuffs has a paisley design in rather vivid reds and blues. I explained that this is called detail and is something to look out for on any item of clothing as this shows a degree of quality, a little of your personality and that you appreciate the extra effort put into creating the garment.

My friend was not persuaded and rolled up his sleeves to hide the detail. Sometimes I think I have taken on more than I can cope with!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Zsa Zsa Gabor

Zsa Zsa Gabor Get well soon.

Can you have too many minks?

'I never hated a man enough to give him diamonds back'. Zsa Zsa Gabor

Saturday, 17 July 2010

John and Elvis

John and Elvis

Listen to the words and look at the pictures - then tell me you don't feel more relaxed.

Friday, 16 July 2010


I was offered an unexpected treat this week – a friend at work (Leeds office) had been baking some chocolate cookies and I was offered one.

I have a simple rile for biscuits – all biscuits are good. Chocolate ones are even better.

Not only was I offered a cookie I was also allowed to take the plastic box it was in to keep it fresh until Friday. (I planned to eat it on Friday).

The cookie was very nice – I suspect it had been cooked at slightly higher than 350 degrees (gas mark 4), making it a little crisper than a traditional cookie.

Perhaps I should offer my services as a regular tester to get them just right!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Take That

I see it ha been announced that Take That and Robbie Williams are re-forming to recreate the original five piece Take That. They are recording an album and is due for release in November (just in time for Christmas).

There have been many rumours of a reunion over the years, but this time it is true. The question is why get back together? Take That have been hugely successful since they reformed and Robbie’s career has been on a downward trend for a few years now. The obvious conclusion is that the drive for a reunion must be coming from Robbie. But it is not that simple. Take That might have been very successful in the last year or so, but who is to say that that will continue. It is in Take That’s (the four version) interest to keep things fresh and the fans wanting more. So maybe the obvious conclusion isn’t the true one.

Either way I will await the new album with interest - and just for the record the best member or Take that is Jason!

For the announcement in full go to the Take That website.


I was completing some elearning yesterday on the subject of Heath and Safety. At he end of the module there were some multi-choice questions to test your learning. One of the questions was something like:

Why should you never put an item of clothing over a stand alone heater?

There were several possible answers so I selected the most appropriate one –Because it makes the place look untidy.

But my response was marked ‘Incorrect’! Something must be wrong with the scoring system. I will have to raise it with IT.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


I was thinking the other day, what would life be like if certain everyday things hadn’t been invented. For example, what if Yogi Bear hadn’t been born in Jellystone Park and hadn’t invented the television? What would life be like with no TV and all the things that go with it, celebrities, Reality TV etc!

So I would be interested in hearing about things you think that, on balance, it would have been better if they hadn’t been invented. I will of course give my view on the inventions suggested.

To get you started here are a couple I offer for ‘uninvention‘:

The mobile phone

Before I am drowned out in howls of protest, think about it carefully. I fully accept there will have been occasions where the mobile has been a godsend, accidents and emergency, for example, but to balance those out, answer this question. When was the last time you overheard an interesting phone conversation on a mobile phone? I will save you some time, don’t try to think of an occasion - it has never happened!

We are constantly bombarded by people walking up and down demanding all give way so they can carry out some tedious conversation with someone who can’t hear them on the other end.

Or worse you have to stand at a checkout while someone on a mobile phone discusses some irrelevance or other while they are being served. How rude! (I am afraid I could never last long as a shop assistant - if someone did that to me while I was serving them I would spontaneously combust).

And if you had told me thirty years ago I would be content to pay 12p to text someone a couple of words I would have thought they were mad - or that I was mad!

Life was perfectly fine before the mobile phone and I am sure we could exist perfectly well without it.


I am fine with the concept of CCTV, I am not one of those to scream infringement of civil liberties every time the council puts another CCTV on Northumberland Street. I have nothing to hide and don’t mind being filmed. My nomination for uninvention is based on the actual usefulness of the CCTV.

When was the last time you watched CrimeStoppers and the CCTV footage was perfectly clear and identified the rogue in question? Whenever I watch it they always say, ‘the camera was in the wrong place so it didn’t pick out the burglar’ or ‘the CCTV only shows the burglars feet’.

When you do see the person on CCTV footage, the picture is so bad even their best friend couldn’t identify them.

So what is the point!

Your turn - let me know what you think should be uninvented.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Michael and Victoria

Congratulations to Michael and Victoria who were married on Saturday 10 July 2010. My best wishes to you both for a long and happy future.

I was at their evening celebration on Saturday at Kirkly Hall (just outside the internationally famous Rothbury), and here are some of the pics

Friday, 9 July 2010

Raoul Moat

I know the events unfurling in Rothbury are not funny, after all someone died and other have been injured, but it is turning into a bit of a farce.

Yesterday the police decided that the threat from the rampaging gunman had now widened to include members of the public. So who had the bright idea of holding a public meeting where all local members of the public could assemble in one place?

One local attending said he was concerned as up until now it was only the police under threat, but now ordinary members of the public could be targeted it was becoming serious!

GMTV, ever reliable where events are happening around the country, sent a reporter to Rothbury. He told us that a man fitting Moat’s description had been seen walking around a corner. And to help us picture such a scene, he walked around a corner. Thank goodness for GMTV, how will we cope when it is scrapped later this year?

If the police are still looking for a burly Geordie wandering the streets in a menacing manner – can I point then in the direction of the Bigg Market on Friday and Saturday nights!

Thursday, 8 July 2010


There was a bit of a hoo hah in the House of Commons today when MP Tom watson called Michael Gove a 'miserable pipsqueak'.

The row erupted after the shambles of the announcement of cancelled school rebuilding projects.
What exactly is a 'pipsqueak'? Why are people called 'pipsqueaks'?

Most likely, "pipsqueak" is what linguists call an "echoic" word - a word that imitates the sound of something, like "bang" or "whoosh." "Squeak" itself is an "echoic" word, as anyone with squeaky shoes can attest. "Pip" has long been used to mean very small things, from the seeds of an apple to the little marks on playing cards. In fact, "pip" was originally a variant of "peep," the sound a baby bird makes. "Pipsqueak" thus perfectly describes the "squeak" a "pip" might make under stress"

When a bird begins to hatch from an egg, the hole or crack that appears in the shell is called a "pip." The process of emerging from the egg is called "pipping." While still in the egg, the little chick makes squeaking noises. Therefore, a "pipsqueak."

Now the word is associated with anyone small and/or insignificant

Shirt Buttons

Since my earlier post on how many buttons to fasten on a jacket, I have been inundated with further guidance on how many buttons to fasten – or leave unfastened on a shirt.

Here goes.

If you are wearing a shirt and tie, it is usual to fasten all the buttons. There is a move by some men towards leaving the top button unfastened when wearing a tie. I think this is intended to be a statement of ‘I have to wear a tie but I am quite cool so I will wear a tie but I will demonstrate my ‘coolness’ by leaving the top button undone'. This is fine if this is the message you want to give out – otherwise it is probably better to fasten the top button.

On the other hand it might mean that you are not a size 15 ½ anymore and really you should buy some size 16 shirts.

If you are not wearing a tie then the question is should you leave one button unfastened or two. Normal convention for many years has been to leave only one button unfastened. This is fine and a lot of men will feel comfortable with that approach. For the more adventurous then two buttons unfastened is quite acceptable and a bit of a fashion statement.

There are things to consider. In a work situation, as a personal preference, I would generally only adopt the two buttons unfastened approach from late May until the end of September. This is when the weather is likely to be at its warmest and wearing a shirt that allows the maximum cooling effect would seem quite sensible. Leaving two buttons unfastened in February would, I think be a bit uncomfortable (cold) and could perhaps make me look rather louche.

Outside of work in a more casual environment then it will depend on the cut of the shirt and what looks best. In this casual situation this can be the deciding and determining factor.

If you are unsure, then consider wearing an appropriate vest or similar fitted under garment. I don’t mean some ratty old tee shirt with a misshapen neckline and that has been through the was a hundred times, but something that will help hold your shirt in place and give a smoothing and flattering look.

For a night out then consider throwing caution to the wind and leave the vest behind, but don’t go over board on the unbuttoned look. If you are tempted ask yourself these questions ‘Am I under 20?’ ‘Do I look like David Beckham?’ 'Is there a shape under my shirt? (for this last question, technically round is a shape, but in this context it does not count) If the answer to any of these questions is ‘Yes’ then you can get away with it. If not then err on the side of caution and keep that third button fastened.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Men's Jackets

When I am in Newcastle I have joy of driving into work, when in Leeds I walk to work. It is on a recent walk into work that I have noticed a very worrying trend.

I have seen, not one or two, but whole swathes of gentlemen walking into work with their suit jacket open. I don’t mean just slightly open, but fully open with no evidence of any button fastenings.

The rules for jacket button fastenings are quite clear. Where there are three buttons, the top button can be fastened sometimes, the middle button must always be fastened and the bottom button must never be fastened. This is more usually remembered and referred to as


Where there are two buttons then remove the option of the Sometimes button.

There are sound reasons for these rules.

The tradition of leaving the bottom button of a coat undone started as a fashion choice. Coats are designed to flare away at the bottom, since the hips are (generally) broader than the waist, where a coat should be fastened. Modern suits are all cut with this in mind, and thus the bottom button should never be used, as it throws off the tailoring of the suit, turning a man's silhouette into a cylinder.

Ideally, three-button suits aren't supposed to have the top button fastened, either; leaving it undone balances the look and permits the lapel to roll closer to the waist, where it should be. In fact, the two-button suit takes care of this nicely by removing the offending button altogether. It is possible, if inadvisable, to button the top button without violating fashion rules.

I know it is summer and at the moment the temperature is a little humid, but this is no excuse for walking around with an open jacket. If you are a little hot, then walk more slowly but fasten your jacket.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

George Michael

George has been arrested after crashing his car in the early hours of the morning ... again.

For goodness sake George, hire a chauffeur, you can afford it!

Cheryl Cole

I see the lovely Cheryl Cole has fainted following a suspected out break of malaria. How on earth has Cheryl contracted malaria? (I know you get it off a mosquito, but there aren’t many mosquitoes in Heaton, deranged gunmen yes but not mosquitoes).

Let us look at the evidence.

· Mosquitoes come from Africa.
· Who has just been in Africa?
· Who has just returned to the UK from Africa?
· Who is a bit cross with Cheryl?
· Who posted a letter on his return to the UK?

Cheryl pet, I think I know how you got malaria.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Cheese Scones

I was chatting to a colleague the other day (Newcastle office) and we were discussing scones. (I know, calm down I can see you think I am such a hedonist to be discussing such things). I rarely have scones but on such occasions I stated my preference for fruit scones. ‘They are alright’ my friend said, ‘but you really must try cheese scones with strawberry jam’!

That was my reaction too! Sounds disgusting. Still never one to shirk a new experience for the sake of reporting on my blog, I bought some cheese scones and a jar of Strawberry Conserve (not preserve or jam, there is a difference, and perhaps a topic for a future blog), and I have to say cheese scones with strawberry ‘jam’ are better than fruit scones with ‘jam’.

Add to your shopping list for the weekend and give it a try.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

At the Beach

It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to holidays … and the beach.

I know for a lot of people a trip to the pool or the beach means putting on a football strip and an old pair of trainers. This is so wrong.

The poolside is not a place to wear you tattiest clothes. You should think of a trip to the beach\pool in the same way you would think of a trip anywhere else. The particular resort or area you are visiting is a consideration of course, (you wouldn’t dress the same for Whitley Bay as St Tropez) but essentially you should think of the beach as just below a night out in terms of time and effort you spend getting ready and the clothes you wear.

I think a separate blog post on clothes for the beach might be useful, but for now a simple rule to follow - nothing that has seen the inside of your gym should be worn to the beach

A Day At The Beach

Depending on where you are staying the beach may be some distance from your villa\hotel. I know all destinations say they ‘are five minutes from the beach’, but this might be five minutes from any bit of beach and it does not mean that it will be a bit of beach where you want to spend the day. For example the bit of beach next to the hotel might be a magnet for children or be the centre of all the local restaurants. Fine when you want something to eat, but you don’t want to spend all day in amongst all the people walking back and forwards for food.

You might like a busy beach but if not, you might have to be prepared for a bit of a journey to find that idyllic quite spot.

If you do have to make a bit of a trip to get to the perfect beach spot, remember you will have to carry everything you need with you. So think carefully about what you need and only take the bare essentials. It looks so bad to turn up like a sweaty old cart horse laden down with two tons of equipment for a few hours on the beach. Look at the locals they turn up with only a couple of things and it looks so much better than when the Brits arrive (why is it you can always tell the British on the beach?). So what do you need?

  • Beach towel - tip for travelling. Don’t take that ratty old beach towel you have been carrying back and forward to the Costas for years. They are bulky to pack and weigh a ton. Buy one at your destination and recycle locally when you leave;
    Sun protection - again don’t buy at home, buy in the resort. Typically people buy new and take full bottles on holiday. Add in shampoo, shower gel etc and you can use up a large amount of your valuable baggage allowance when these things are readily available at your destination;
  • A book - its tempting to get the latest blockbuster 800 page book to take to the beach. This is wrong. A large book is heavy and you have to carry it back and forwards. Also it is unwieldy and awkward to read on the beach. Buy several smaller (thinner) books. This looks more sophisticated and is less to carry;
  • Ipod - thank goodness for mp3\ipods, now you don’t have to carry a player and a pack of discs. You can have your whole music collection to hand in one small compact item. Also even if you don’t want to listen to music, you can put the earphones in and it stops people talking to you;
  • Water - this is a difficult one. You need to drink at least two litres of water when on the beach for the day and water is heavy - but you will just have to live with it. If you are lucky there might be a small shop not too far away so you can take a small bottle and re-stock during the day;

First aid kit - just the basics, antiseptic cream, paracetamol etc but can be very useful.
One other thing, if you need to go into the resort for anything, even just to that little shop at the end of the beach, then cover up. No one wants to see you walking round the street and shops in just your swim wear.

Wimbledon Final

Another win for Nadal - I suppose Berdych was never going to win against an on form Nadal. Still Berdych gets a cheque for £500,000 for being runner up. Not a bad second prize - that's nearly a months wages for a football player!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Frank Lampard

I see Frank Lampard is on holiday with Christine Bleakley. i know this because the newspapers are publishing pictures every day. Frank and Christine on the beach, Frank and Christine swimming in the sea, Frank looking at Christine, Frank and Christine having a glass of wine ....

It almost feels like I am there - still it will save Frank taking holiday snaps as we have all seen them already.

And just to add to the holiday fun, some of Frank's best friends have stated that Frank is going to ask Christine to marry him in the next six weeks. (Ask her, not actually marry him in the next six weeks that is).

Just a word Frank - if it is true and you are actually thinking of proposing, you might want to take a closer look at who you thought were friends when you are drawing up your wedding invitation list.


Here we go again. All the hype about the possibility of a British winner at Wimbledon, and if Murray can just get through the semi-finals ...

Then Murray goes out in Straight sets, (I'll give him that he was playing Nadal, but if he is going to win the tournament then he probably has to beat Nadal at some point).

The commentary was the usual breathless hype with constant statement that 'the hopes of the nation are on Murray'.

I'd like to correct that - the hopes of the nation were not on Murray. I couldn't care whether he won or lost - maybe that will help take some of the pressure off for next year. Or has Murray peaked ... (just thought I would be the first to make that statement) ...