Monday, July 16, 2007

Where's Billy?

I had a call from a stressed-out Billy last night - he was stranded in Brizzle due to train problems. I offered to pick him up from Slough (or even Reading) as trains were getting that far, but he opted to remain at the ancestral home for an extra night. There was no guarantee the train would get that far and I risked spending hours on the M25 and in a station car park.

All IKEA-ed out!

Sister & Bro-in-law needed to get rid of more IKEA bookcases (my antiquarian encyclopedias are already looking lovely in their glass-front Billy bookcase). Yesterday they delivered 2 Billy bookcases and a Benno CD tower so this week will include frantic sessions of assembling bookcases and fixing them to the wall and maybe getting rid of some things. I'll also dismantle the unused picnic bench; it wasn't my idea to have it in the first place and I have some garden chairs. I also have a spare pine kitchen stool (mostly used as a small round table/plant stand!) and can donate to Billy and his flatmates.

The Tenderness of Wolves (Stef Penney)

The Tenderness of Wolves is another unputdownable novel and one that leaves some unanswered questions to tease the reader. It is set in the Canadian wilderness during 1867 in a time when fur trading companies are in fierce competition. The land is thinly populated by trading posts, farming villages and religious villages (Lutheran Norwegians in this case) with many days walk between them, as well as elusive bands of native people.

In the farming village of Dove River, near to Caulfield, a French trapper has been found murdered and a local youth has gone missing. This in a village where locals still discuss the disappearance of 2 local girls more than a decade previously. Several people are interested in finding the murderer of Laurent Jammet for different reasons - a hidden fortune, an archeological artefact and friendship. Mrs Ross engages the help of a half-Indian tracker to track her son who has either fled the scene or is seeking the murderer of the man he admired. Sturrock, still condemned over mishandling the search for the Seton girls goes in seach of a bone artefact he believes Jammet owes him.

With communciations taking days or weeks, especially in the winter, trails criss-cross. The trail leads to a Lutheran community and thence to a trading post in decline. As the stories criss-cross, we learn more of the motives driving the individuals and the secrets they keep. Many people are not as they seem and hold secrets about who they are and what drives them. The isolation leads people to drink, laudanum, madness and murder. The fur trade itself is in decline due to over-hunting. The Scots, French, Irish and Norwegian settlers remain ill-adapted to this land.

Although the central murder is resolved, Penney leaves us with questions that will never be answered - the bone tablet (sought by one of those seeking the murderer), Mrs Ross's first name (alluded to, but never stated) and the fate of one of the Seton girls (the fate of the other is resolved).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Where's Winters?

The Winters blog has gone. Or rather it is still there, but there are no posts - no new ones and all the old ones have vanished - just the sidebar contents.

Odd Sights

A leylandii tree trimmed into the shape of an Easter Island stone head, complete with eyes. Spotted in Moulsham Lodge, Chelmsford.

A Thai restaurant done in the style of CATS, the musical. Seen in Finsbury Park on the way to a blogmeet in Crouch End (anyone - what was the URL of that website saying how to walk places in London?).

Seen on Goldhawk Road (better known to Billy as "Glodhawk Road") - how many Ns in "internet"?

This Book Will Save Your Life (A M Homes)

This Book Will Save Your Life

Richard Novak, is middle-aged, retired, reclusive, divorced and has barely seen his now teenaged son. His nutritionist feeds him on faddy foods and his cleaner keeps his house neat. While on his treadmill watching his financial dealings he suffers excruciating pain and ends up in hospital. On the way back he inexplicably stops at a donut shop (his nutritionist doesn’t approve of sugars and fats) and gets chatting to immigrant Anhil. From then on, he starts interacting with other humans again and finding a sense of community in LA. It’s a place where once famous actors and screenwriters are in hiding while everyone else – including the man surveying the sinkhole in Richard’s lawn – is waiting to be discovered. Richard finds himself reluctantly famous for rescuing a horse from the sinkhole and a kidnapped girl from a car boot and adopting a homeless dog.

While trying to heal himself he also rescues people from domestic tragedies e.g. Cynthia is an abused housewife. Human contact and caring is the key, not expensive therapy. He must also deal with the nearly adult son he has rarely seen after his ex-wife moved to NY and cope with his son’s anger at a father who was “never there”. The doctor who refers him to the therapy turns out to be a fraud, making you wonder how much of the therapies are frauds. How much of the problem in USA is that people lack a sense of community? They need to care for others and be cared for by others instead of paying large sums of money to get someone listen to them or going on retreats. Anhil sums it up when he says that Americans are busy trying other people’s spiritual traditions to make up for their own lack.

It’s amusing, it deals with the therapy culture and superficiality of LA and of the real people who also find themselves living there, either waiting to be “discovered”, in hiding or simply unable to reach out and make contact with other humans. It moves along at a fair pace with Richard often carried along by events, rather than always controlling his own destiny. It’s the sort of book you can read in one day, but despite being enjoyable, it is transient and not particularly memorable, let alone life-changing, a bit like the donuts on the cover – once consumed, they are gone.

The previous A M Homes book I read was the very disturbing The End of Alice about a 19 year old girl who corresponds with a jailed paedophile. The paedophile describes his disturbed mother's abuse of him when he was young (using his arm as a living dildo) and his abuse of young girls. Alice seduces a pre-teen boy. All very, very disturbing.

Orkus Magazine

I picked up the English language edition of Orkus in Borders the other week. It's a magazine covering gothic, romantic, industrial and electro music. The best way to describe it is like Wire, but for goths. I've never seen it before, but it seems to be well-established in Germany and is also sold throughout Scandinavia, BeNeLux and Spain.

Not cheap at £5.20 and no covermount CD on this issue though Borders are a real pain for losing covermount disks (or they get nicked by customers who slip them inside other mags). It's a bit pretentious if your normal fare is Metal Hammer, but is a very nice production on good quality pages. I'll only get it again if there are covermount CDs though. The German edition is covering Lacrimosa! Ooh-eee-oooh! I wonder if we'll get this one over here?

Billy likes Wire. As a humble headbanger I find much of it goes over my head with a whooosh! I do persevere in the hope of broadening my horizons. After all, us heavy metal fans are the "trainspotters of music" according to the busking beggar on the District Line train. That would explain my wide variety of folk, blues, classical, neo-classical and world music then.

The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman (Louis de Bernieres)

de Bernieres' South American trilogy is best read in the following order: Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord; The War Of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts; The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman. Because I bought it in London and unexpectedly finished the genuinely unputdownable Captain Corelli's Mandolin, this was the only book to hand for the train journey home. de bernieres is either quite mad or a genius or possibly both simultaneously, making this practically impossible to review due to the array of equally mad-genius characters, their quirks and New World indigenous magic that pervades the region.

Set in a South American country after the defeat of a notorious cocaine baron (whose killer's car is a shrine and flowers are strewn behind it whenever he drives it), the multiple threads include a Cardinal fighting his own demons and who has fathered children on his maid; a musicologist collecting traditional music; a president more concerned with sexually satisfying his wife than with running his country (leaving that to his clueless cabinet); an incorruptible army general; a town where everyone seems to have pet black jaguars that act like overgrown housecats and a false priest whose "blessings" are scurrilous passages of Latin.

Cathlolicism comes into conflict with local beliefs with the result that multiple religions have been assimilated into a relatively harmonious belief system .... until Catholic priests go out to try to re-educate the local people. The Virgin Mary has asked worshippers not to do Hail Marys as they are giving her a headache. 300 year old conquistadors have been raised from the dead and live among them. Lost property magically appears in Velvet Luisa's hammock at the end of the day. One village has a severe outbreak of literacy and spend days reading and discussing the one book they have been able to obtain (albeit dozens of copies). People routinely speak to the dead and the dead even compete in the vilalge games, but graciously decline to accept first prize as "weightlessness" is an unfair advantage.

It's not all joyful. There are murdered street children, raped women, military coups and summary justice. There is, quite possibly, reincarnation in blatant defiance of the Catholic priests' teachings.

This is a wild fiesta of a book in a culture that turns many of our values on their head and pokes fun at attempts to enforce religious dogma on an interpretation that actually works. But they are probably best read in the correct order.

Friday, July 13, 2007


This ode is one of a series Marriott Edgar wrote about a little lad called Albert Ramsbottom and should be recited in a northern English accent. It might remind you of something similar by someone else ....

The Lion and Albert
Marriott Edgar (1880 - 1951)

There's a famous seaside place called Blackpool,
That's noted for fresh-air and fun,
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Went there with young Albert, their son.

A grand little lad was their Albert
All dressed in his best; quite a swell
'E'd a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle
The finest that Woolworth's could sell.

They didn't think much to the ocean
The waves, they was fiddlin' and small
There was no wrecks... nobody drownded
'Fact, nothing to laugh at, at all.

So, seeking for further amusement
They paid and went into the zoo
Where they'd lions and tigers and cam-els
And old ale and sandwiches too.

There were one great big lion called Wallace
His nose were all covered with scars
He lay in a som-no-lent posture
With the side of his face to the bars.

Now Albert had heard about lions
How they were ferocious and wild
And to see Wallace lying so peaceful
Well... it didn't seem right to the child.

So straight 'way the brave little feller
Not showing a morsel of fear
Took 'is stick with the'orse's 'ead 'andle
And pushed it in Wallace's ear!

You could see that the lion didn't like it
For giving a kind of a roll
He pulled Albert inside the cage with 'im
And swallowed the little lad... whole!

Then Pa, who had seen the occurrence
And didn't know what to do next
Said, "Mother! Yon lions 'et Albert"
And Mother said "Eeh, I am vexed!"

So Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Quite rightly, when all's said and done
Complained to the Animal Keeper
That the lion had eaten their son.

The keeper was quite nice about it
He said, "What a nasty mishap
Are you sure that it's your lad he's eaten?"
Pa said, "Am I sure? There's his cap!"

So the manager had to be sent for
He came and he said, "What's to do?"
Pa said, "Yon lion's 'eaten our Albert
And 'im in his Sunday clothes, too."

Then Mother said, "Right's right, young feller
I think it's a shame and a sin
For a lion to go and eat Albert
And after we've paid to come in!"

The manager wanted no trouble
He took out his purse right away
And said, "How much to settle the matter?"
And Pa said "What do you usually pay?"

But Mother had turned a bit awkward
When she thought where her Albert had gone
She said, "No! someone's got to be summonsed"
So that were decided upon.

Round they went to the Police Station
In front of a Magistrate chap
They told 'im what happened to Albert
And proved it by showing his cap.

The Magistrate gave his o-pinion
That no-one was really to blame
He said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms
Would have further sons to their name.

At that Mother got proper blazing
"And thank you, sir, kindly," said she
"What waste all our lives raising children
To feed ruddy lions? Not me!"


... This version might be more familiar to you (though personally I prefer Marriott's ode). When I was 6 years old, it was recited by older children at morning assembly as a safety lesson ("cars are as dangerous as lions - always hold mummy or daddy's hand when crossing the road") ....

Jim - Who ran away from his Nurse and was eaten by a Lion
Hilaire Belloc (1870 - 1953)

There was a Boy whose name was Jim;
His Friends were very good to him.
They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,
And slices of delicious Ham,
And Chocolate with pink inside
And little Tricycles to ride,
And read him Stories through and through,
And even took him to the Zoo -
But there it was the dreadful Fate
Befell him, which I now relate.

You know - or at least you ought to know,
For I have often told you so -
That Children never are allowed
To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;
Now this was Jim's especial Foible,
He ran away when he was able,
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away!

He hadn't gone a yard when - Bang!
With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.
Now, just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted "Hi!"

The Honest Keeper heard his cry,
Though very fat he almost ran
To help the little gentleman.
"Ponto!" he ordered as he came
(For Ponto was the Lion's name),
"Ponto!" he cried, with angry Frown,
"Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!"
The Lion made a sudden stop,
He let the Dainty Morsel drop,
And slunk reluctant to his Cage,
Snarling with Disappointed Rage.
But when he bent him over Jim,
The Honest Keeper's Eyes were dim.
The Lion having reached his Head,
The Miserable Boy was dead!

When Nurse informed his Parents, they
Were more Concerned than I can say:-
His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, "Well - it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!"
His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James's miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.


Unlike poor Jim, Albert did at least manage a comeback - to the dismay of his parents who had an eye on the insurance money (he named the lion "Wallace" in honour of his brother) ....

Albert's Return
Marriott Edgar (1880 - 1951)

You've 'eard 'ow young Albert Ramsbottom,
In the Zoo up at Blackpool one year
With a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle
Gave a lion a poke in the ear?

The name of the lion was Wallace,
The poke in the ear made 'im wild;
And before you could say "Bob's your Uncle,"
'E'd up and 'e'd swallowed the child.

'E were sorry the moment 'e'd done it;
With children 'e'd always been chums,
And besides, 'e'd no teeth in his noddle,
And 'e couldn't chew Albert on t'gums.

'E could feel the lad movin' inside 'im,
As 'e lay on 'is bed of dried ferns,
And it might 'ave been little lad's birthday-
'E wished 'im such 'appy returns.

But Albert kept kicking and fighting,
Till Wallace arose, feeling bad.
And felt it were time that 'e started
To stage a comeback for the lad.

So with 'is 'ead down in a corner,
On 'is front paws 'e started to walk,
And 'e coughed and 'e sneezed and 'e gargled,
'Till Albert shot out like a cork.

Old Wallace felt better direc'ly,
And 'is figure once more became lean,
But the only difference with Albert
Was 'is face and 'is 'ands were quite clean.

Meanwhile Mister and Missus Ramsbottom
'Ad gone home to tea, feelin' blue;
Ma says "I feel down in the mouth like."
Pa says, "Aye, I bet Albert does, too."

Said Ma "It just goes for to show yer
That the future is never revealed;
If I'd thought we was goin' to lose 'im
I'd 'ave not 'ad 'is boots soled and 'eeled."

"Let's look on the bright side," said Father;
"What can't be 'elped must be endured;
Every cloud 'as a silvery lining,
And we did 'ave young Albert insured."

A knock on the door came that moment,
As Father these kind words did speak.
'Twas the man from t'Prudential - 'e'd called for
Their tuppence per person per week.

When Father saw 'oo 'ad been knockin',
'E laughed, and 'e kept laughin' so
That the young man said "'What's there to laugh at?"
Pa said "You'll laugh an' all when you know."

"Excuse 'im for laughing," said Mother,
"But really, things 'appen so strange -
Our Albert's been ate by a lion;
You've got to pay us for a change."

Said the young feller from the Prudential,
"Now, come, come, let's understand this-
You don't mean to say that you've lost 'im?"
Ma says "Oh, no! we know where 'e is."

When the young man 'ad 'eard all the details,
A purse from 'is pocket he drew,
And 'e paid them, with int'rest and bonus,
The sum of nine pounds, four and two.

Pa 'ad scarce got 'is 'and on the money
When a face at the window they see,
And Mother says "Eeh! look, it's Albert."
And Father says "Aye, it would be."

Young Albert came in all excited,
And started 'is story to give,
And Pa says "I'll never trust lions
Again, not as long as I live."

The young man from the Prudential
To pick up the money began,
And Father says "Eeh! just a moment,
Don't be in a 'urry, young man."

Then giving young Albert a shilling,
He said "Pop off back to the Zoo.
"'Ere's yer stick with the 'orse's 'ead 'andle-
Go and see wot the Tigers can do!"

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Too Many Choices

Usually I make my own hummous and make a rather nice chilli hummous by adding few drops of Tabasco to the mix. Smoked garlic hummous is nice too (my sister sends me parcels of smoked garlic from the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight). Sometimes I run out of ingredients (shop near work stopped stocking Tahini paste so I can only get it when I go into town on a Saturday). To tide me over this week, I tried to buy hummous from Tesco. I could get any flavour except plain! They had hummous with roasted vegetables, red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto (way too oily), olives, caramelised onions (yummers except for flatulence), butternut squash, rocket, lemon & coriander, oriental flavouring plus a plethora of salsas and sour-cream-based dips, but not a single pot of plain hummous. Not even organic plain hummous.

These days there is way too much choice. Faced with so many choices, many consumers are overwhelmed and don't buy anything. This was demonstrated as a "jam tasting". When faced with only a few choices, consumers often bought a pot of jam after tasting the options. When faced with a multitude of choices, consumers didn't buy any pots of jam.

Billy has recently been reading The Long Tail which looks at choices and minority markets. All this choice is mixed blessing - on the one hand it serves minority tastes, but on the other hand it overwhelms consumers. When designing software interfaces and menus, the rule was 7 +/- 2 options on a menu or screen. Too much choice confused the user (but some menus now have around 30 options, sigh).

Too much choice is also a contributing factor in obesity - rather than content themselves with one flavour and try something else on another day, many consumers gulp down multiple flavours each time. Ice cream used to be a choice of vanilla, strawberry, chocolate or raspberry ripple (green mint choc chip or rum-and-raisin if you went to a posh place). At most, you got a double scoop. Nowadays you can get tall, wide cones (or tubs) that accommodate 5 scoops piled up. Thorntons do around 8 flavours and a triple scoop option. Baskins Robbins do about 30 and tubs like small buckets.

It's the same with Millies Cookies. Why treat yourself to 1 or 2 cookies when you can buy them in 5s or 10s and it works out cheaper per cookie? Fine if you have 5 people, but I keep seeing people scoffing 5 cookies because (a) they don't have to choose just 1 or 2 flavours and (b) it works out cheaper (except it doesn't - it's cheaper to buy just one!)

I ended up buying aubergines, peppers, baby potatoes and small onions and roasting them with olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and some chilli seeds. They are yummers served cold with salad and a hot salsa. I also found some half-price pesto hummous - and yes, that yellow discount sticker influenced my choice.

A Blitz of a Boy ...

A friend told me this verse. It sums up the plight of the "smelly children" who attended the village primary school with me.

Timothy Winters
Charles Causley (1917-2003)

Timothy Winters comes to school
With eyes as wide as a football pool,
Ears like bombs and teeth like splinters:
A blitz of a boy is Timothy Winters.

His belly is white, his neck is dark,
And his hair is an exclamation mark.
His clothes are enough to scare a crow
And through his britches the blue winds blow.

When teacher talks he won't hear a word
And he shoots down dead the arithmetic-bird,
He licks the patterns off his plate
And he's not even heard of the Welfare State.

Timothy Winters has bloody feet
And he lives in a house on Suez Street,
He sleeps in a sack on the kitchen floor
And they say there aren't boys like him any more.

Old man Winters likes his beer
And his missus ran off with a bombardier.
Grandma sits in the grate with a gin
And Timothy's dosed with an aspirin.

The Welfare Worker lies awake
But the law's as tricky as a ten-foot snake,
So Timothy Winters drinks his cup
And slowly goes on growing up.

At Morning Prayers the Master helves
For children less fortunate than ourselves,
And the loudest response in the room is when
Timothy Winters roars "Amen!"

So come one angel, come on ten:
Timothy Winters says "Amen
Amen amen amen amen."
Timothy Winters, Lord.


While thumbing through a book of comic and curious verse, I found this gem (and was inspired to write more).

Morris Bishop (1893-1973)

I think I remember this moorland,
The tower on the top of the tor;
I feel in the distance another existence:
I think I have been here before.

And I think you were sitting beside me,
In a fold in the face of the fell,
For Time at its work'll go round in a circle,
And what is befalling, befell.

"I have been here before!" I asserted,
In a nook on a neck of the Nile.
I once in a crisis was punished by Isis,
And you smiled. I remember your smile.

I had the same sense of persistence
On the site of the seat of the Sioux;
I heard in the teepee the sound of a sleepy
Pleistocene grunt. It was you.

The past made a promise, before it
Began to begin to begone.
This limited gamut brings you again. Damn it,
How long has this got to go on?

Sarah Hartwell (2007)

I'm sure I remember the shoreline,
The cove with the caves in the cliff,
Where once we sheltered from tropical swelter,
These repeats are boring me stiff.

A far distant world in the future,
A monster mooched up with a moan,
An alien planet, but you are here, damn it!
Good grief can't you leave me alone?

Time is a terrible mistress,
She plays with the what and the when,
And makes a deception to fool my perception,
So that what has gone round comes again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The "No-Smoking" Shelter

In unexpected (for most workers) fall-out from the recent smoking ban, smoking shelters provided by companies specifically for the use of their smoking employees fall within the definition of an enclosed or substantially enclosed place. You'd have thought purpose-built smoking shelters ought to be excluded from this.

The smokefree guidelines do state that smoking shelters mustn't be substantially enclosed, but this is crackers. Shelters built specifically for the purpose of smoking, used only by smokers who choose to inhale smoke mustn't be substantially enclosed?

As a result, the sides are being removed from smoking shelters, leaving only a roof and a windbreak! Smokers might as well huddle under trees, except that smoking is now banned everywhere on site (and outside the gates) and is only allowed in the shelters (which no longer provide much shelter).

From my desk I've been watching the modification of the company's smoking shelter so it is no longer "enclosed".

Next they'll be restricting the use and possession of dihydrogen monoxide on the grounds it can kill.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

London Free Papers Create Waste

In Shepherd's Bush, official notices have been fastened to lampposts near the tube stations regarding the handing out of free literature. The number of people handing out the London Sh*te and London Pooper have decreased - it's possible to walk by the tube stations having copies forced into my hands. London boroughs are clamping down on these litter-generating free papers.

Westminster City Council said abandoned free Sh*tes and Poopers create 4 tonnes of waste daily. That's their combined daily circulation of 900,000 copies (I wonder how many are actually read). They've given these publications a one-month deadline to tackle this waste before tough measures are imposed. The Metro (aka the Sh*tro) evidently doesn't count as you have to pick that up yourself and they seem to get left on tube trains along with unwanted sections of The Evening Standard.

The zones most blighted by discarded freesheets are apparently round stations at Charing Cross, Embankment, Oxford Circus, Victoria and around Leicester Square and Charing Cross Road. Sometimes Oxford street seems to be carpeted with freesheets all the way from Centrepoint (Tottenham Court Road tube station) to Oxford Circus. There are so many that even the inhabitants of cardboard cities don't need any more to insulate their bashes.

The papers' owners have been asked to sponsor 150 recycling bins and a vehicle but they have been unable to agree on costs which means nothing is being done except to ask the people handing the papers out to pick up discards (or maybe to take "no" for an answer). The council has threatened to make it illegal to distribute freesheets and proposes a permit system in the worst affected areas unless the Sh*te and the Pooper start picking up their own litter. If they don't reach an agreement pretty soon there will be a few tonnes less of Sh*te and Poop on the streets of London each day.

Overheard at Oxford Circus Station: "I prefer the London Paper, it's better quality than London Lite." I almost fell down the stairs laughing. The only reason people pick them up is they're marginally better than reading the adverts inside tube train carriages on a long tube journey.

BAAPS can help your BAPS

Yup - you can grow bigger baps by injections of fat-promoting stem cells to safely grow additional fat (actually belly fat) in your breasts. These could supersede silicone implants. But do they have an "off" switch or do your baps keep on growing till you end up like Lolo Ferrari?

BAAPS are these folks. The BAAPS/baps pun was merely fortuitous.

A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down (Nicey and Wifey)

I read this book recently, having found it in a charity shop in Finsbury Park. It's the book of the A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down website. It's good fun and included lots of familiar biscuits and some I'd never heard of (a Bath Oliver?)

However, there are some glaring omissions: Rich Osborne (a buttery rich tea effort, also known as the Butter Osborne depending on who made it), Nice (a shortcake effort with sugar topping), Golden Crunch, Gypsy Creams and the white-creamed bourbon variants found in selection boxes (the book only mentioned the brown-creamed variety). Lemon Puffs got only a passing mention and their less common orange Puff brethren were missed altogether. What about Maryland Cookies and their generic choc chip cookie cousins?

Somewhat rarer so their omission is understandable were ginger thins and the now discontinued Gingerella. For those who don't recognise them, ginger thins were thin ginger bikkies the dimensions of a Rich Tea finger while the Gingerella was a round version. The All Butter biscuit is in the book, but not the delicious Almond Biscuit from the same stable.

Club biscuits got a mention, but not the various flavours (orange, mint and the fruit shortcake club in the purple wrapper). The Gold bar (the offspring of a love affair between a Club and a Caramac) was missing too. How about the plain chocolate Tunnocks caramel wafer, United or Rocky Bar - all good choccy-covered biscuit bars.

On the other hand, I found out what happened to the Puffin Bar and I'm guessing the Pelican Bar was voluntarily withdrawn when Puffins were deemed to be too close in name and logo to the Penguin. It was common wisdom among kids of my time that green Penguins were mint Penguins, blue were vanilla and red were strawberry, but you had to really concentrate to taste these (yellow Penguins didn't exist back then).

Maybe Nicey and Wifey are saving these for a sequel? Perhaps "A Nice Cup of Cha and a Bikkie" or "A Nice Cup of Coffee and a Cookie"

When I was a kid, we got a gift of some catering-size boxes of Jacobs Munchmallows (a bit like Tunnocks teacakes) from a family friend. For weeks on end, my sisters and I got 2 Munchmallows in our lunchboxes and the darn things made an appearance at weekend teatimes. It seemed to take forever to get through them. At first we brought them home uneaten, only for them to reappear the next day. Eventually we swapped them with school-friends or just gave them away. To this day I don't like marshmallow-based teacakes or marshmallow-topped biscuits.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Social Gitworking

MySpace has become known as MySpaz or MunterSpace; both affectionately and insultingly.

Facebook, in similar fashion, becomes Face-ache or Faecesbook (as per the old New Faces/New Faeces joke about the old TV talent show).

FlickR is FlickAr5e or even F*ck**se

LiveJournal has long been known to colleagues as Get-a-Life-Journal.

Forums, particularly those hijacked by know-alls, essayists or loons, are Floor 'Ems and Bulletin Boards are, similarly, Bully 'im Boards.

YouTube, for the torrent of excrement that outweighs the gems, is henceforth dubbed PooTube.

Unless you can think of any better nicknames. I'm just off to check my YerPoo, I mean Yahoo Groups.

Unreliable, Disorganised, Useless People Rant

A couple of weeks back, Billy and I had to stay indoors all afternoon because someone had booked to view the room at 1 pm. At 1:45 she phoned to say she'd just arrived at the station as there were delays on the tube. Fair enough, if she was stuck underground she couldn't phone earlier. Billy gave her directions from the station and landmarks (a pub) and the address. It's about 10-15 mins walk (I've done the walk often enough).

We waited ... and waited ... and waited ....

At 2:30 she phoned to say she was standing outside the house (the right house number) but there wasn't a "Flat D". We were looking out the window and there was no-one outside, which meant she wasn't at the address Billy had given her. He gave her more directions and we waited.

... and waited ... and waited ....

At 3 p.m. he tried phoning and got no signal, so it seemed the very disorganised person had got back on the tube. So we went out.

So where did she end up?

  • Maybe she can't tell left from right and walked completely the wrong way after leaving the single exit of the tube station.
  • Maybe she was at the wrong tube station.

  • Maybe she ended up at the wrong pub (there are 2 pubs with "Queen" in the name).

  • Maybe she saw the first road called a "Grove" and went down there instead of going to the road Billy told her.

  • Maybe she was sat at home watching telly and pretending to be lost as an excuse for not bothering.

The commiseration is that someone so disorganised she can't follow clear instructions (everyone else, including me, has been able to find it) or print out a map is probably too disorganised to pay bills on time. It was, however, very frustrating as we spent 2 hours unable to go out or indulge in friskiness.

Anyway, we did eventually go out and we wandered round the huge Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road - 3 floors of exotic and mundane paper ranging from schooldays "sugar paper" to gossamer-thin Japanese paper, pretty shiny stationery supplies and, for some reason, handbags. Billy prefers Paperchase (frivolous) to Ryman (functional).