Thursday, June 28, 2007

A couple of political musings

Now that Gordon Brown has his feet under the table, I think it would be useful if he could set out a clear timetable for his departure. Or, at the very least, come to some informal agreement with David Miliband in a fashionable London restaurant.

When I chaired Holborn & St Pancras Constituency Labour Party back in the early-mid 90s, David used to attend the meetings. I sometimes bumped into him in a launderette in Primrose Hill and we'd make small talk as our smalls went round in the drum.

He's now the Foreign Secretary and I write Washed and Ready to Eat. This probably says a lot about both of us. But let's be fair. He's a few years older than me, so he has a head start.

Rickshaw update

I said in an earlier post that I was determined to hail a rickshaw in London, just to see how it all worked. Well, tonight was the night. I went up to a ricky rank near Aldwych and asked the price to Waterloo station.

The guy asked if it would just be me travelling. The smart-arse answer would have been "No, I have a party of OAPs just around the corner that I'm accompanying on a tour. I asked them to hide temporarily, just to confuse you. Can you seat 31?" Instead, I simply confirmed that it would be a solo journey.

He told me it would be £12.

When I expressed the view that this was a tad steep for a route that I could walk in ten minutes, I was given a lesson in haggling worthy of an induction to a Moroccan souk.

Him: "How much do you want to pay?"

Me: "Er... I think I'll leave it thanks...."

Him: "£8?"

Me: "No, er.. it's ok..."

Him: "£6?"

At this point, I did a runner. And got there faster than he probably would have done anyway.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Misunderstanding

Further to my earlier blog about the exotic foreign dish that we're expected to conjure up for the mini-Ws' school, I got myself off on the wrong track. One of the options was "The Poles" and I found a recipe for some fairly simple Polish jam roly-poly things.

Job done, or so I thought. Until the older mini pointed out that "The Poles" was in fact a reference to the Arctic and Antarctic.

Anyone got a recipe for a hearty whale blubber soup?

Dream on

Last night in bed, Mrs W started to mutter to me about a dream and seemed to be saying the words "have sex to order".

Intrigued, I tried to find out more, but was disappointed to discover that she was actually saying "a house next to water".

I rolled over and went back to sleep. I'll discuss it with my analyst later in the week.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Give me five minutes and I'll rustle up a speciality from Krakow

Jack Dee has a good stand-up routine about the demands that schools place upon parents. It's the kind of thing that you just can't appreciate unless you've sprogged, but hardly a week goes by without the expectation that you'll have created some bizarre costume, decorated a mask or gone on a fishing expedition to the Outer Hebrides and brought back useful data on climate change. I believe that some of the mums and dads even manage to go to work once they've finished the allotted tasks.

This week, a request has arrived to produce some food with the mini-Ws related to one of the countries that recently featured in the school's art and geography week.

Thank God one of our maids comes from Brazil. I'll get her to whizz up some Docinhos de festa.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Warne-ing to one of my colleagues

People in any profession cringe when one of their number behaves in such a way as to bring everybody else into disrepute. As a professional copywriter, I can only apologise profusely for this testimonial ad from Shane Warne, which was recently the subject of an adjudication by the Advertising Standards Authority. The following excerpt is taken from the ASA's website:

A national press ad, for Advanced Hair Studio (AHS), was headlined " 'ADVANCED HAIR, YEAH, YEAH!' Says cricket legend, Shane Warne". Next to a picture of Shane Warne the ad stated "Shane Warne uses the Advance Hair and Scalp fitness program AHS-FP". The ad featured a testimonial from Warne, which stated "I've been hearing it for years but to me I've always taken it as 'warning'. And that warning is - if I didn't do something about my fine and thin hair they could well be chanting 'baldy!' So see Advanced Hair Studio ... and your hair will be looking better than ever. Don't wait until it's too late, get your FREE ADVANCED HAIR CHECK! and heed the Warne-ing today!"

Here's a Warne-ing to the person that wrote this crap. Whatever you do, don't ever go freelance.

Knickers and moral corruption

I was fascinated to see that the entrepreneur behind Agent Provocateur has rejected his MBE on the grounds of Tony Blair's moral corruption. This story gave me good justification to check out the company's website, which - in addition to lingerie - seems to sell whips, masks, erotic books and a whole host of other upstanding kind of material.

These days, attacking a brutal dictator is morally corrupt, whereas peddling saucy underwear is the height of moral rectitude. No prizes for guessing why the country's going to hell in a handcart.

Cheeky beggars

There's a rather disturbing announcement on the South West Trains commuter routes into London, which goes as follows:

"Beggars occasionally board trains. Please do not encourage them by giving them money. If you see a beggar, please contact a member of staff."

I admit that I'm not inclined to give cash to people who wander the aisles of trains, but you'd have to be some real mean-spirited bastard to start grassing them up to the busies, wouldn't you?

The message also got me thinking about what actually constitutes a "beggar" in the eyes of the train operating company. Is it someone who begs? If so, are they a beggar when they first board the train? Or only when they first ask for money? Perhaps it's best to be on the safe side and alert the guard if I see any likely candidate lurking on the concourse, looking as if he might be planning one of his occasional boarding expeditions.

I think we maybe need to loosen up just a little. This is 2007, not 1937. And the destination is London Waterloo, not Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hotels the Mrs has demolished

Mrs W has long been a connoisseur of fine hotels and is always telling me that we ought to go to such-and-such a place that she once frequented when she was young, free and single.

Recently, she's discovered that a number of her faves have either been demolished completely or are closed seemingly indefinitely pending major refurbishment.

The Gara Rock in Devon is one. (There was quite a planning controversy before the bulldozers moved in there, apparently.) The Park Hotel on Lake Konstanz in Germany, where Mrs W received her proposal of marriage from yours truly, is another.

Looking at summer holiday options, she recently suggested a very posh gaff in Madeira called the Palacio. A web search seems to suggest that this too is non-operational.

While it's worrying that Mrs W's blessing and patronage usually leads to closure, I have to say that it's saving me an awful lot of hard-earned cash.

The latest Fantastic Four movie

Why exactly do we need superheroes to protect us against the "Rise of the Silver Surfer"? If older people want to use the web, I think we ought to encourage them.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Let's hope he remembered to turn the machine off

Interesting picture here http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/pictures/SJS41.htm of a Hamas militant who's taken up residence inside a x-ray scanning machine on a border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. I know that Hamas present themselves as being more transparent than the Fatah faction they've been fighting, but this is surely taking things to extremes.

Sunbaked man talk plenty good religion

I don't know whether Private Eye still has a "Pseuds Corner", but flicking through a copy of The Guardian from early this week, I've found some very promising material for the column. I know I'm stupid to even look at the paper's arts pages, but it just kind of happened before I realised what I was doing.

Journalist Charlotte Higgins has interviewed a man called John Tavener, who apparently became a "household name" after composing some piece of music for Lady Di's funeral. Maybe in the Higgins household he's a household name, but I'm ashamed to admit that he doesn't quite fall into the same category at Woodford Towers. (We've heard of Michael Barrymore and Mahmoud Abbas and consider ourselves to be reasonably cultured.)

The writer's pretention knows no bounds. Having described her 63-year-old interviewee as "etiolated, sunbaked", she says "...he would be more appropriately placed in a setting of either John Pawson-style minimalism or byzantine, gilded splendour." At this point, I'm thinking that her overblown prose would be more appropriately placed in my recycling bin, but I stick with it because something truly bizarre has caught my eye. Tavener claims that his most recent works are inspired by a "dream vision" that occurred after an encounter with an Apache medicine man. He dreamed of the Sufi Frithjof Schuon, who gave him "permission" to work musically within different traditions. Thank God that this permission was granted, eh? To think we might otherwise have been deprived of this bloke's cultural input is just too awful an idea to contemplate.

I won't go into his ideas about the Virgin Mary. That's a whole other blog.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What's eating me?

A hand stretched piece of copy with lots of commas, reading very much like a shopping list for a supermarket trip, topped with a sprinkle of hyperbole, but lacking a vital full stop

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside...

Hot on the heels of a CNN report that said the Tripoli refugee camp in the Lebanon was "hosting" the fighting between al-qaeda inspired militants and government troops (see blogs passim), the BBC is today describing the Gaza Strip as a "densely populated seaside territory".

Now, I'm not disputing the fact that Gaza is on the coast, but "seaside" is maybe a little insensitive in the current climate. I fear there are more rocket-propelled grenades on the beach than kiss-me-quick hats.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I could be indefatigable. In the wink of an eye for cheap!

Two entertaining pieces of poorly targeted spam recently arrived at Woodford Towers. Stylistically, they're clearly from the same school and I thought I'd share them with you. I've blanked out a certain word to save the blushes of delicate Washed and Ready readers.

It doesn't seem good for ya.. and you can't call yourself a Man, from the capital letter M, because your **** is damn short? It's not a problem anymore with our brand new remedy pills
that will make your **** REALLY BIGGER!


Got a little hitch in your sex life, we can put it in the helve easily! Our remedy will make you really indefatigable lover in a wink of an eye for cheap! But be quick, our offer gonna expire soon!

You wouldn't fancy going for a drink with this particular spammer, would you?

"Got a little hitch at the bar, from the capital letter H, cos their happy hour for cheap gonna expire soon. Couldn't get you that damn short you ordered, Phil!"

Keeping my finger on the...er...pulse

I signed up for alerts from Reuters Insight, thinking that they would help me keep ahead of breaking news from around the world. The top story they emailed me today was:

Microsatellite instability in poorly differentiated adenocarcinomas of the colon and rectum: relationship to clinicopathological features

It's from the Journal of Clinical Pathology.

Perhaps I better go back and check the settings again.

The Ocado Man

He visited Woodford Towers tonight and seemed like a nice bloke. But he didn't sing like he does on the radio ads, which was a bit of a disappointment all round.

Friday, June 08, 2007

They love me... which is why I have to go...

The honour was all his: Tony Blair's goodbye missive to members of the Labour Party. Click to enlarge.

I was a little surprised at the sentiments expressed by the outgoing Prime Minister in a letter to Labour Party members. "I wanted to thank you," Mr Blair writes, "for your wonderful support during these 13 years. Through thick and thin, good and bad, you helped me enormously."

Eh?

Most members of the Labour Party have had their knives out for Tony ever since he first took office and surely the only reason he's now going is that they won't support him through thick and thin. Spot of bother in Iraq and a few questions over cash for honours and the activists are running for cover.

The idea that he was loved and supported by the Labour Party is, however, a rather pleasant and grandiose delusion on which to retire. Bless.



Thursday, June 07, 2007

Words of wisdom from English Partnerships

The Additionality Guide explains how to assess the additional impact or additionality of a regeneration project. Additionality is the extent to which something happens as a result of an intervention that would not have occurred in the absence of the intervention.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

So, Mr and Mrs Snorkel, what's the baby's name to be?

I saw a fire engine go past in central London yesterday with that hydraulic lifting gear that's branded Simon Snorkel.

Who exactly is Simon Snorkel, do you suppose?

I'll add him to my list of things to investigate.

Talc

Does anyone still use talcum powder? Me and Mrs W were talking about it the other night.

When I was a kid, it was all the rage. You'd use it instead of deodorant or anti-perspirant. Mrs W remembers drying herself with the stuff after a swim.

Don't hear so much about it these days, do you? I'll investigate this phenomenon and get back to you.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Big Brother shapes up well

How's Charley getting on with her fellow housemates? We only need to go to the official Channel 4 website to find out...

"We spoke about life stories, which is more real to life," she said. "I talk about going clubbing. I go to celebrity hangouts. I know all the celebrities. It's fun, it's happening, it's whatever."

Let's party

I was intrigued by this opening to a story on CNN tonight:

"Lebanese soldiers -- backed by gunboats, heavy artillery and rows of tanks -- entered a Palestinian refugee camp that has hosted days of fierce fighting north of Tripoli, a military source said Friday."

Hosted days of fierce fighting?

Do you think there was a competition in which people bidded to host this event? If so, I don't remember the results being announced with quite the same fanfare that accompanied, say, the 2012 Olympic Games.

Check it

my fone aint wack no more cos i got me a phat nokia.

I think I shall soon be playing my tunes rather loudly and disruptively from its tinny speakers on the back seat of a bus. No one will dare tell me to turn it down.