Thursday, November 27, 2008

AQ calling

The Sky News coverage of the Mumbai attacks is, as you might expect, a little over-excitable. One of their correspondents, who was speculating on the likely involvement of al-Qaeda, started referring to the terror network as AQ. I didn't realise Osama's barmy army had become quite so cool. It almost sounds like a rebrand. Perhaps an expensive new logo will soon be unveiled?

According to the Sky man, if a homegrown Indian organisation turns out to be behind the bloodshed, it will be an example of the "AQ franchise" at work. Franchising? Do you think the locals buy in? A couple of million Rupees up front and they're sent a full kit of grenades, AK-47s and anything else they need to sell terror door to door in their local area.

Unfortunately, it's probably not too far from the truth. They even throw in an introductory training course if you're able to make your way to a cave near the Afghan/Pakistan border.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The wonder of Woolies

When I heard that Woolworths was for sale at the bargain price of just £1, I was tempted to pop down to my local store and outbid the restructuring specialist rumoured to take over the legendary high-street chain. I reckoned £1.50 might do it, but I was prepared to go up to two quid.

Unfortunately, there's some small print. You have to be prepared to take on around £300m in debt. Given the current credit crunch - and what with Christmas coming up and everything -that's more than I want to take on at the moment.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Partridge, eat your heart out...

Disingenuous is a pretty difficult word to define, but a trip to a Travelodge would certainly help the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Apparently the budget hotel chain's customers don’t want “synthetic” smelling toiletries in their room, as they’d prefer to use their own. Yeah. And I’d like to bring my own bed linen along too. In fact, I’ll make sure I pack my own portable TV and kettle for good measure.

I don’t want readers to think the credit crunch has hit so hard that I’m habitually posing as Alan Partridge, but when I travel my accommodation is often organised by other people, so mistakes can happen. I've brought shower gel from another hotel I stayed in the other day. And I'm shortly going to retire to my comfortable bed. Complete with an incontinence undersheet. I kid you not.

He's in the panto! Oh no he isn't!

Here's a riddle for you.

How can you star in a panto without actually being in a panto?

It's easy if your name is Stephen Fry and you're performing as a video projection on a mirror in Snow White at the Theatre Royal, Norwich.

Unfortunately, this virtual role means that Stephen won't have the pleasure of meeting at first hand Nick Aldis (TV's The Big O) or Caitlin Stasey of Neighbours fame.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Does St Peter have a peaked cap?

It's been reported today that veteran comic actor Reg Varney has sadly passed away, aged 92. Best known for his role as Stan Butler in the classic British sitcom On the Buses, the star has taken his very last journey between the gasworks and the cemetery gates.

For Stan's sake, we can only hope that St Peter doesn't resemble his former nemesis, Blakey.

"No, Butler. You ain't comin' in. You 'aven't finished your shift, 'ave you? You 'eard me, mate. Sling your 'ook!"

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Improbable plots of yesteryear

Before retiring to bed at Woodford Towers last night, I idled away a bit of time watching an episode of The New Avengers, which I think may have been on BBC3 or BBC4. I couldn't help thinking the plot was a little far-fetched and would be interested in readers' opinions.

Synopsis:

In April 1945, a plane departs Nazi Germany, carrying Adolf Hitler and a bodyguard of around 40 or 50 elite stormtroopers. The aircraft crashes on a remote island off the UK and everyone survives apart from the Fuhrer, who goes into a coma. His Nazi pals manage to preserve him cryogenically and kill time for about 20 years or so, posing as monks and spending their days producing fish extracts. Being short of ammunition, they keep their Luger and Schmeisser firearms for show and subdue the local population through the use of poisoned fish hooks, which they cast from rods.

Eventually, they hear of a brilliant German doctor who is able to bring animals back from the dead by means of injections. When he's on a lecture tour of the UK, they kidnap him and smuggle him to their island hideout where they order him to revive the former Nazi dictator.

Now, here's the improbable bit. Somehow or other, before their plan can be activated, Joanna Lumley, Gareth Hunt and Patrick Macnee intervene. The final sequence shows them frogmarching the Nazis away from the island while whistling the tune to Colonel Bogey.

That last bit would never have happened. It was one of those fabricated TV moments.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sleb price tags revealed

In these strange times, when capitalist governments are busy nationalising banks and so on, it's probably a tad unfashionable to believe that the market is the best judge of a person's intrinsic value. But take a look at the fees being paid to the wannabes and has-beens lined up for the latest I'm a celebrity series on ITV1:

Nicola McLean £7.5k
Carly Zucker £10k
Robert Kilroy-Silk £15k
George Takei £20k
Esther Rantzen £25k
Martina Navratilova £30k

Source: Daily Telegraph

I can't comment on Nicola McLean, as I'm not sure I know who she is. All I can say is that it would take more than seven-and-a-half large to convince me to spend time in a jungle with Robert Kilroy-Silk. Carly Zucker is set to marry footballer Joe Cole and I'd like to think that he could stand her 10 grand out of his weekly paycheck. Her engagement ring supposedly cost five times as much. Which does beg the question as to whether any of these celebs really need a financial incentive at all.

Former Wimbledon tennis champion Martina Navratilova must be a multi-millionaire and the same is surely true of the erstwhile helmsman of the Federation Starship Enterprise, George Takei. Hell, even Esther Rantzen of That's Life fame has probably got a little bit stashed away for a rainy day, as well as a few erotically charged vegetables that she could sell on eBay.

But it's still interesting to see the relative values of the slebs. One Mr Sulu buys you a couple of Carly Zuckers. Or to put it another way, West Coast American screen royalty still wins out over Welsh WAG.

Piracy on the high seas

Me timbers were shivered when I heard the Royal Navy had shot three Somali and Yemeni pirates. Pirates are only armed with cutlasses and primitive firearms, whereas Royal Marine Commandos carry SA80 assault rifles and other automatic weapons. That's not a fair fight in anyone's book.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

i is callin dis geeza called seeza

Roman charges may apply: Centurion awaits your call in fluent Latin

I admit to being stopped in my tracks at the post office by this “teach yourself Latin” CD. While I’m sure that the parents of children in local private schools might like their precious sons and daughters to brush up on their amos, amases and amats, the emphasis of this particular product is on conversational Latin. This is demonstrated very clearly by the picture of the Roman soldier on the cover, chatting happily from the battlefield over his eau de cologne. “Tell Caesar we’ve had a spot of bother with the Carthaginians again, would you? I may not be able to make that meeting on Wednesday.”

If you look closely, you’ll see that the Roman in question has a rather ancient looking mobile. Probably produced by the God of Communication, Mercury One-2-One, sometime around AD 1996.

Want to chat? If so, you’ll need to learn the lingo. For texting, for instance, you should substitute the words “to”, “too” or “two” with the abbreviation II. Sample message: goin II pompA II c gladi8as innit back ides of march. But perhaps I'm taking things ad adsurdum.

Yep, she really said it...

Former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was recently asked whether she'd consider running for the White House in four years' time. Her answer has been quoted in the press as follows:

"I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. And if there is an open door in 2012 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plough through that door."

The moose-munching Bible basher certainly added some colour to the 2008 contest, so I can't say I'm completely opposed to her getting involved again in the future. But I'm like, God, can you like make sure that the ultimate door to the White House remains, like, closed.

Gated development

Proud rail officials are handing out leaflets at London’s Waterloo station telling passengers of the many advantages of the new ticket barriers. After months of installation and years of planning, the dream has finally become a reality. I think the barriers were first proposed sometime between the end of the Second World War and the official launch of the futuristic Oyster Card at the Festival of Britain in 1951. And now we’re finally there. The machines all sit proudly in bubble wrap, waiting to be unveiled at an unspecified point in December. Quite why they can’t work immediately isn’t really explained.

According to the leaflet, the station has been ‘gated’ – a hideous piece of rail jargon which could easily have been translated into plain English. And there’s a boast too. This is the longest ‘gate line’ in Europe. Don’t it just make you proud to be British? It’s a record breaker… dah-da-da-da-da-daaah! Why don’t we get Norris McWhirter and Roy Castle down there for the grand opening already?

The reality, of course, is likely to be chaos, as Waterloo isn’t a station with the capacity to cope with folk held up at barriers. It’s overcrowded and cramped. As people wait to enter the platform, they will be standing in queues that will probably stretch back into the concourse and cause major obstructions. I predict some disgruntled commuters in the coming months and possibly even a bit of a revolt if the station becomes dangerously packed. This is what the jargon-stuffed boneheads of the rail industry would call “passenger action”. Not saying I’d instigate it or even be a part of it. Just observing the potential outcome. And speculating about another entry in the record books: for the shortest-lived and most expensive gate line experiment in the Western world.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Panto? Oh no, I'm not...

It's that time of year that puts a spring in every resting thespian's step. Panto season is upon us and one person you'd definitely expect to be slapping on the grease paint is Melvyn Hayes. Best known for his role as Bombardier Gloria Beaumont in BBC TV's popular 1970s sitcom It ain't half hot mum, Hayes has chosen in many previous years to tread the seasonal boards. In 2007-8, however, a whole army of fans was disappointed.

On his website at http://www.melvynhayes.com/, the cockney funnyman - who once starred alongside Cliff Richard in The Young Ones - talks openly about his decision.

"I did have several offers," he says. "The last was to direct one in Stoke-on-Trent. I asked the producer if he'd like to spend xmas in Stoke. He said (after a long pause), 'No, not really.'" At which point, the Bombardier replied: 'Well, that makes two of us.'

Good for you, Melvyn. It might not be politically correct, but you're speaking your mind and we have to admire you for that - even if your direct approach won't win you too many fans in the Midlands.

"People ask me why I'm not on the television as much as I used to be," continues Hayes in the opening blurb to his web page. (It's certainly a question that's been on the mind of many Washed and Ready readers.) The answer is - apparently - that the former star can't cook, hates gardening and isn't yet ready to throw himself out of an aeroplane or swallow a kangaroo's testicles.

How we long for those halcyon days when television really was television. That bygone era when 18 million people would sit down to watch some Welsh bloke with a tache yell at members of the Royal Artillery Concert Party.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Ok, I'm sure this gag's been done...

...but I couldn't help noticing that Michael Crichton - author of Jurassic Park - recently passed away. Presumably samples of his DNA have been preserved for future scientific experimentation?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Too clever to be president?

I know many readers - particularly those on the other side of the Atlantic - were looking for WARTE to take a clearly defined position on the outcome of the US presidential election. Would this highly influential blog lend its support to the learned, pragmatic, yet inspirational Barack Obama? Or would it instead opt for the eccentric, geriatric Vietnam vet and self-styled maverick, John McCain, and his Girl Wonder - the moose-munching Governor Palin who believes that humanity once shared the earth with the dinosaurs.

In the end, I decided not to interfere in what must be a decision for American citizens alone. But let's put it this way. They managed to get it right on this occasion. The absence of my personal endorsement didn't seem to make a fundamental difference to the result.

One of the most surprising aspects of this election has been the victory of a candidate who is a fairly unashamed intellectual. In recent times, the Americans have opted for Republican Presidents with few intellectual pretensions (Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr and his son) or elected Democrats who have gone out of their way to hide their book learning. Jimmy Carter is better known as a Georgian peanut farmer than the physicist and philosopher he actually is. Bill Clinton cultivated a folksy, down-at-home kind of image - carefully disguising his academic track record as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and an alumnus of Yale Law School.

I thought the basic rule was that it was ok to be clever, provided you didn't show it too much. Obama is ripping up the rulebook with his earnest press conferences and willingness to reflect publicly on the important issues of the day. When asked about the puppy he promised his kids, we had a minute's sober contemplation of the various options and the need to avoid a breed that triggered daughter Malia's allergies. This is rather endearing in the honeymoon period, but might make folk a little weary in the longer term.

If Obama is setting a trend and cerebral politics is making a comeback, the bookies must be currently slashing the odds on David Milliband making it to 10 Downing Street.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

With age comes wisdom. Most of the time.

The older mini-W has seen some stuff about the American election on the TV and has concluded that she wants John McCain to win because he's "more experienced". In a state of obvious shock, Mrs W had to explain that you can be old and experienced and still not know your a** from your elbow.

My worry is that this revelation may come back to haunt us. After all, our own age and experience are our only claim to authority over the mini-Ws. Without the aura of wisdom that comes with advancing years, Woodford Towers may descend into Lord of the Flies.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Your favourite blogger now 40

Analyse this: friends of Washed and Ready to Eat's Phil Woodford gather at London's Freud Museum to celebrate his 40th birthday at the start of November. Although Woodford still reserves the right to comment on issues that affect young people, he'll also be also dealing sensitively with the priorities, aspirations and concerns of the middle aged.

The best wurst


We all want to know that our sausages come from the right kind of places, don't we? Well, these ones come from Harrogate. Or at least 97% of them do. The rest must come from somewhere else. The important thing is that the meat is sourced from farms that are "personally approved by Debbie & Andrew". And if Debbie & Andrew approve of them, that's surely all any of us need to know. Even if we've only become acquainted with them via their new recyclable cardboard sleeve made from renewable FSC approved paper sources.

According to the gushing blurb, penned by the eponymous stars of the sausage brand: "Our weekly family tasting sessions with the children help us ensure we continue making the tastiest, loveliest, most perfect of sausages."

Just as long as you're not tasting my sausages, Debbie & Andrew. I'll be looking out for teeth marks.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

How many pancakes?

According to the packaging on my pancakes, Jonathan Warburton's youngest son "eats three of these tasty treats in one sitting". I don't know exactly how old the heir to the British bread empire is, but I suspect he may be defying medical advice by eating 1.62g of salt at a go. For a five-year-old, this would be more than 50% of the recommended daily intake. And I haven't even delved into the sugar and saturated fat. Nevertheless, his dad reckons there's no "greater endorsement" of the family product.

Warburtons Pancakes. Can be eaten hot or cold. Delicious served as a dessert with ice cream and chocolate sauce or summer fruits, whipped cream and raspberry coulis.