Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Who ate all the pies?

The answer is my old friend N***l. I have to protect his anonymity, as he's employed as a mystery shopper at Craven Cottage - home of the mighty Fulham FC. I joined him last night for the West London team's momentous - and much-deserved - victory over the Arsenal and discovered that he's regularly asked to sample pies from the stallholders in the ground. N***l reports back on whether the vendors are crusty towards him or...er...nice as pie.

I can't reveal all the details, as it might lead to N***l's cover being blown and his having to enter a mystery shopper protection scheme. Let's just say that a fiver is slipped his way at a secret location and he's sent off to a particular stand to buy a 'Cottage' pie and a soft drink. I guess he's allowed to keep the change, which is probably about 10p at inflated Premiership prices.

The game itself was a corker. I was honorary Fulham for the evening and they certainly laid on some decent entertainment, including an excellent goal from Radzinski. Arsenal - despite a lot of star talent - failed to make much of an impression. Only van Persie's converted free kick gave a hint of their true potential. And there was a feeling of desperation, to be honest, as goalkeeper Jens Lehmann rushed into the Fulham penalty area in the 90th minute. This was not, after all, an FA Cup Final. But Arsenal clearly felt the stakes were high.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A confusing time for psychiatrists

"Doctor, I think I may have been poisoned by an agent of a foreign state. Possibly with a radioactive substance..."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What happens when you cross youtube with Sheena Easton?

You enter the wonderful world of Karen Sokolof Javitch - a songwriter from Omaha, Nebraska, who has composed a striking musical tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. I was alerted to its existence by my old friend Ropey, who has a better-than-average track record of spotting suitable Washed and Ready to Eat material.

Generously, the composer allows us to download four tracks for free at http://www.jmrproductions.com/princess_diana/# , but they're not for those of a nervous or sentimental disposition. Be prepared. Your memories of the Queen of Hearts are set to become all too vivid once again.

Ms Javitch is also keen on more personal tributes, as this youtube video demonstrates: http://www.jmrproductions.com/files/metrosexual.htm As Sheena Easton herself might remark, Karen is clearly a one man woman...ooh, ooh, ooh...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Currant Bun on a roll

I can't help feeling The Sun is on fine form with its headlines right now. Hot on the heels of "How do you solve a problem like Korea?" - an analysis of nuclear proliferation in the post Cold War era - we were last week treated to "Hey hey we're the junkies", which highlighted the payouts to 'lags' who were forced to go cold turkey.

Today they excelled themselves with the story of the former KGB agent who's been poisoned in a sushi restaurant. The front page read: "From Russia with Lunch".

A tenner, guv? Ain't you got something smaller?

Strange taxi experience in Rockin' Radlett. For those of you who don't know it, the town is near St Albans and was given its racy epithet by a lady I knew called Babs, who used to live there.

Anyway, I arrive quite early in the morning and take a cab from the station. When I reach my destination, the driver has no change for a tenner, which is a pretty strange state of affairs given that most journeys are probably between a fiver and a tenner around those parts. I'm wondering what the hell we're going to do when he suggests I simply call his company later in the day for the return leg and pay up then. Or, if I'm coming back to the railway station, I could maybe pop into their on-site office and cough up.

I was gobsmacked. It was like the taxi driver equivalent of an honesty box.

And, yes, I did go back to the office at the end of the day and pay its rather bemused occupant.

That old chestnut


Texting thumb damaged by nuts. E2eg n lol.

Aliche informs me that she can't text properly because she's damaged her hands peeling chestnuts. I've heard some sorry excuses in my time, but this one seems to require complete suspension of disbelief. I will encourage her to post a comment explaining in more detail. Is she telling the truth? You decide. b4n.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Girls allowed. And Phil.















Drying out at The Priory, Farringdon. From left to right: Bethany McCrackers, Gee, HJ and Cazza. Find out the girls' thoughts on men, relationships, the offside rule and the latest episode of Lost by reading the post below.

One Friday in Farringdon...

Although this blog has been going for less than a year, I’m pleased to report that it already has big following. The audience is mixed, although certain key trends can be observed. There’s a tendency, for instance, for the typical visitor to be a Class A nutter. And the site also seems to have been a big hit with the ladies.

On Friday - before setting off for Tom and Katie's wedding in Bracciano - a team from Washed and Ready to Eat went to meet some typical readers at a bar in London’s ubercool Farringdon district. News of our attendance must have spread quickly, as there was a good crowd there, although most kept a respectful distance. Full report follows. Any relation to actual conversations is purely coincidental.


Meet Helena, Gee, Bethany and Caz. Fun-loving career girls, with demanding jobs and deadlines to meet, they like nothing better than getting together at the end of the working week for an informal drink and a goss. With a £14 bottle of house white to keep them company, the conversation soon turns to future plans, sleb news, guy trouble and – inevitably – their number one blog of the moment.

WARTE:
Come on girls. Tell us about your fave reading material.


CAZ:
There’s nothing like a good Maeve Binchy when I’m chilling on the beach.

BETHANY:

I stock up on celeb mags and can often spend the whole weekend in bed reading them. It’s like so cool to know what Christina Aguilera is doing.

WARTE:
But what about your online reading? Any wicked websites you can recommend?


GEE:
Isn’t it just sad guys that look at the web all day?

HJ:
Yeah, I mean, I might visit lastminute.com for a pampering session, but most of the time I’m too busy to go surfing.

BETHANY:
What’s a website?

WARTE:
Let's try this another way. If we said the words “Washed and Ready to Eat” to you, would they ring any bells?


HJ:
Ah, now I see where all this is leading.

CAZ:
Alright, yes. I admit it. I have looked at it once or twice. But only because everybody else was talking about it.

GEE:
No one likes to be the odd one out.

BETHANY:

It’s written by that guy.

GEE:

Yeah.

CAZ:
Phyllis.

BETHANY:
It’s very weird. Every time I read it, I get contractions.
Bethany: now drinking for two, so restricted to mineral water.

No posing please ladies. When the flash goes, Helena (left) and la Caz will race each other to the wine glass.

Remember the Alaimo: Gee doesn't let sinister pipework get in the way of a good night out.

A taste of autumn in London

I blow the cobwebs away at the end of a hectic week. Self portrait with my A95 Powershot.

Vivid colours across the water. Ham - near Richmond-upon-Thames. Click to enlarge.

Messing about on the river: The Thames at Teddington Lock, November 2006. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Status

I was lecturing at a university in London today and one of the students called me "sir". I don't actively encourage this, but it's always nice when it happens. (Normally it's only Mrs W and the mini-Ws that use this particular form of address.)

That last bit was a joke, btw.

Old-fashioned US TV programmes are full of kids calling their parents "sir" and "ma'am". On Little House on the Prairie, Laura and Mary would call their dad "Pa", but if he got cross, they'd have to speak to him more formally. Seems kind of appropriate.

Let me just check whether the mini-Ws have done their chores today. There's firewood needs a choppin' and water a fetchin' from the well.

If you look confused...

At the same convenience store that sold the delicious minestrone (see below), there was a sign by the main till that read: "If you look under 21, we'll ask you to prove you're over 18."

I don't know quite where to begin with this one. It's too late at night.

Hot soup? Whistle for it.

I was in a large convenience store today and was tempted by a Minestrone soup at the takeaway food and beverages counter.

I then looked at the sign a little more carefully.

It read "Fresh from the kettle!"

I decided I'd stick with my egg mayonnaise baguette.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Spam on, spam on, with hope in your heart...

I don't think Mrs W approves of this kind of email, but I wanted to share it with you anyway. For your own safety and sanity, I have removed Marie's link from the correspondence. No good would come of it.

How do you do!

I am writing to you with a hope in my heart to find in you my love that I have been looking for!
I have just parted my ex-boyfriend because I realized that we were a nice couple but nothing more.

He was not my true love so I decided to keep on looking!

So, maybe I will take a chance on you? What do you think? Maybe we should be together?
If you are interested find me here
and we could start our virtual relations!

Waiting for your answer:)

Marie

Remember this mug?

Clearing out a cupboard in preparation for a kitchen refit, we stumbled upon this curio from the 1997 General Election campaign. There are few occasions when I can honestly say that I've spotted a collector's item, but I remember distinctly hearing on TV about this particular piece of memorabilia and visiting Conservative Central Office to purchase it. My reckoning was that it would definitely be worth something in years to come.

I can't remember what I paid for it. £4 or £5, perhaps, at 1997 prices. I reckon it could easily go on ebay for £6.50 today.

What's Michael Aspel's number?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Gary Gizmo and Crash Test Danny

Further to my last blog, I've started watching Discovery Kids with the mini-Ws, so that I can learn a bit more about science. The best programmes are Invention SOS and Crash Test Danny.

SOS is fronted by a hyperactive Scotsman called Gary Gizmo, who teleports himself to the homes of children who are desperate for an invention that will solve a particular problem. One kid, for instance, wants a contraption for capturing spiders, while another is looking for something to help him clean up his bedroom. Gary pitches a tent in the back garden and sends the children back into the house for advice from a boffin. The crackpot scientists in question are always hidden in a wardrobe. And while they may dress differently from Gary and speak in exotic accents, they always seem to bear an uncanny resemblance to show's eccentric host.

Crash Test Danny is a dummy who works at a top-secret research establishment. He acts as a fall guy for a bloke in a white coat who's simply known as The Professor. There's nothing the Prof likes more than strapping Danny to a spinning wheel with a bottle of ketchup to explain the principles of centrifugal force.

Generally speaking, Discovery Kids gets 8/10 for the balance between education and entertainment. I haven't yet had the heart to explain to the mini-Ws that croc hunter Steve Irwin is now swimming with the angels. There's a time and a place for everything.

Pianos with letters and pooper snoopers

The thing about having kids is that they ask you bloody difficult questions.

I hate stuff about electricity and magnets and suchlike. I mean, how the *&%! should I know how they work? Can't they ask the teacher? To me, it's magic when a light goes on. The changing of a bulb stretches me to the limits of my scientific knowledge.

The eldest mini-W (nearly seven) has made a couple of quite interesting observations recently though.

The first suggestion really shook me up.

I was showing her treble clefs and musical notation, explaining about how they were read by people playing instruments. (Although the minis have done French and ballet, we haven't yet stretched to the pianoforte.) Anyway, she looked at me as if I were daft and suggested that it would be easier if the letters of the notes were marked on the piano. You could then record a musical score in alphabetical form, rather than have to learn all these strange hieroglyphics.

Thank God for Mrs W. She pointed out that the musical notes also denote rhythm. I was grateful, because I was struggling for a period of maybe five or ten seconds to counter what seemed like an eminently sensible idea from someone who was six and three quarters.

The second recent incident was connected to dog faeces.

I'm always warning the kids not to plough into it on the way down the street. Mini-W 1 (her of musical notation fame) asked why people let their pooches crap all over the street. (Well, she didn't actually use language like that, because I bring her up nice and proper, but that was the essence of the question.) I explained that it was difficult to catch people in flagrante decrappo because there's hardly going to be a policeman or council official around when a local chihuahua or dachshund is caught short. She then suggested that there should be cameras - like speed cameras - that are trained on the pavements specifically to spot these foul canine deeds. Mrs W promptly dubbed the device a 'pooper snooper', which annoyed me because I'm the copywriter.

Mini-W 1 will soon be joining the Blair government as an adviser on community surveillance.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Their cup runneth over

Puccino's - a coffee bar with a licence to operate on railway stations in the London area - likes to have quite a bit of fun with its promotional copy. I particularly enjoy the signs on the doors of their outlets, which bear the legend "Shut happens".

They've really lost the plot though with the blurb on the coffee cups. I sometimes wonder whether people are having a laugh with old Phil and deliberately writing stuff so that they can be featured on Washed and Ready to Eat.

Coffee and a croissant please

We get this request a lot, what with us selling coffees and croissants and all that. Our staff are trained to go over to where we keep them and pick them up and give them to the person that said the request out of his mouth. I said 'his' there. This doesn't mean that we don't serve women. Oh no. We serve them alright. Big time. Well not big time. Just all normal. But friendly. Always with the friendly.

Someone needs to tell Puccino's that there's clever. And then there's clever-clever.

As a customer, my reaction is as follows.

Just serve me. Serve me big time. Tell me why your regular cappuccino is actually worth £1.95.

But friendly. Always with the friendly already, capisce?

Excuses wearing thin

As regular readers know, I'm a dedicated follower of fashion and even managed to wangle an invite to this year's London Fashion Week at the Natural History Museum. I was, however, horrified to see a girl in Twickenham today wearing jeans branded Anorexy. I've done a bit of digging on the web and it seems as if it's a Columbian brand that has already attracted some controversy. One blog reports that adverse publicity has forced the manufacturers to dump their rather offensive name. I sincerely hope so. You don't have to be camped out at Greenham Common to recognise that there's something a little bit tasteless about all this.

Rant over.

Now, where's my copy of the Daily Mail?

Free with the Evening Standard


Forget the blue umbrellas. This evening, the giveway with London's quality regional title was a Chicken Tonight stir-fry sauce for two. Sticky soy, balsamic vinegar and peppers. Just add chicken.

Fantastic flavour combinations...quality ingredients...one pan, 10 minutes and it's all yours, tonight!

Area 51

A spam bounceback email has drawn me - rather spookily - to the website of a company called Area 51 Electronic Service Group, Inc, who are AS9120 Certified Stockist Distributors based in Irvine, California.

Let me explain.

Every so often, unscrupulous spammers spoof my email address and send out messages in my name. Unsurprisingly, most get rejected by filters and bounced back to yours truly as system admin notices. Norton dumps most of these replies in a folder, but it's still a pain in the proverbial.

Anyway, today I received a message telling me that a lady called Sandra at Area 51 is on maternity leave. Her colleague, Dave, can help me right away and she's kindly left me his email address. It's such a shame that I have no use whatsoever for oscillators and capacitors. Even from a federally recognised Section 8a franchised distributor.

You do have to admire the alien theme of the website though.

Sandra's back at work sometime in December.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pull the udder one

I saw on the news last night that boffins are planning to mix the DNA of humans and cows. This "chimera" does raise a few ethical questions, but also has distinct advantages. No need to worry any more, for instance, about where to find extra milk for your tea.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Technical blow dry

The salon chain Headmasters emails me with a special offer. But it's only valid with a "cut and style or technical blow dry".

Exactly how technical can a blow dry get?

If you know, please leave a comment. And tell me if you have any holidays planned.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Unusual foreign spam

I have to say, it's a relief to get a break from all those cruddy pieces of spam that I receive about the US stock market. Hardly an hour goes by at Woodford Towers without a piece of mail alerting me to a company I need to watch "like a hawk" or some ludicrous penny share that I should put on my "radar".

Do I look like some kind of complete saddo day trader?

Don't answer that question.

The point of this blog is that I've actually received a couple of mildly interesting pieces of spam from exotic foreign sources recently.

The first came from a bubbly lady called Nataly, who sends me "kisses from Russia". She's quite direct is our Nat, as you can see from the message below:

I have some questions for you if you want to get to know me closer:

1/ Are you interested in serious relations with Russian woman?
2/ Are you planning to visit Russia?
3/ Would you like to correspond or to talk by phone?
4/ Why are you interested in Russian lady?
5/ Have you ever been to Russia?
6/ What is important for you in relations and am I right for you?


Allow me to respond in order. That would be 1/ No; 2/ No; 3/ No; 4/ I'm not; 5/ Yes, although it was pretty grim; 6/ Staying on the right side of Mrs W and, er, No again, I'm afraid.

Tonight, some German spam arrived with the subject header "Lorenzo sagt, Du hast die Bilder von Deiner verflossenen ins Internet". Naturally I was intrigued and I called Mrs W over, as she lived in Germany for a year and speaks das lingo. Basically, the top and bottom of it is that they want me to post pictures of my ex girlfriends on the web at a site called "Deine ExFreundin". This all sounds a little dodgy to me. And because I'm a respectable type, I'd have to spend an awful long tracking them all down and getting their agreement.




Thursday, November 02, 2006

Britain's surveillance culture

Apparently a fifth of the CCTV cameras in the world are right here in the UK. This astonishing statistic made the headlines on the very day Mrs W received a Penalty Charge Notice from the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames for driving in a bus lane.

She's pointed out to the eagle-eyed officials that she has to go into said bus lane in order to turn left off a main road. And I guess this is something she'll continue to do until some teleportation device is invented or the local authority installs a crane.

We await the Council's response with interest and I'll keep WARTE readers posted.

Incidentally, there's a lovely piece of Big Brother-ese in the letter. "The alleged contravention was noted by camera operator CCTV-AA2 who was observing real time pictures..." It just makes you feel so much safer to know that AA2 is on the case.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hoffmeister launches into blogosphere

Having mentioned Buddy Holly in my previous post, it's now time to namecheck my buddy Hoffy. He's embarked on his own blogging expedition, so I thought it only right and proper that I give him a plug.

His site is called www.hofflimits.com and I get the impression that the content is going to be rather more elevated than the stuff you're used to seeing on Washed and Ready. So far, he's tackled climate change, the BBC's policy towards the Taliban and the vexed issue of Madonna and that kid from Malawi.

If I were to sum up the difference between hoff limits and my own site, it would come to down to emphasis. While the Hoffmeister might perhaps provide commentary on, say, the government's treatment of controversial cleric Abu Hamza, I'd let you know that the Fonz was playing Captain Hook in the forthcoming Wimbledon panto season.

Both approaches have their place. Blogworld is big enough for the both of us.

The day the music died

I was out the other night with some of my old advertising chums. What I didn't realise was quite how old they had actually become.

When the noise levels in the West End boozer got in the way of our conversation, one of our number actually insisted that the barman turn the music down. The song playing at the time was "American Pie" by Don McLean.

Although I was just as grateful as my friends for a reduction in decibel levels, it struck me as a little worrying that we were unable to cope with an early 70s pop song about Buddy Holly.

Phil Woodford is 38.