Friday, March 16, 2012

Dating was so much easier in my day

When I first courted Mrs W, the Internet was a strange thing that techie-type people connected to via a 28k modem. We met the old-fashioned kind of way and although we didn't know much about each other at first, we uncovered it gradually through romantic walks and candlelit dinners.

If I'm to believe the current match.com campaign on the London tube, serious research is now required before an initial date. Jon in Wimbledon listens to the favourite record of his potential future partner before he's even clapped eyes on her. That way, he'll understand why she likes the album so much.

What a smooth b*****d Jon is. He plans small talk about the girl's favourite band, probably giving the impression that he too is a fan. How dreamy, she thinks. I've met a guy who's perfectly matched to me. He even likes the same tunes!

Someone should tell this lady that Jon is just playing a game. And while they're at it, they should mention that he listened to the band on vinyl. So he's either a complete geek who thinks that digital music doesn't give an authentic sound or he's aged about 70.

A right royal nightmare

Details of the UK's Diamond Jubilee celebrations are gradually seeping out. If you were expecting class, you'll be sorely disappointed. Think Klass instead. The Standard's Chief Arts Correspondent, Louise Jury, informs us that the family festival planned for the Jubilee will be hosted by former Hear'Say member Myleene.

TV impressionist Jon Culshaw will be there to keep her company. What's more, we are promised 'an appearance by the equine stars of War Horse' and some show featuring the stars of Strictly Come Dancing, led by Craig Revel Horwood.

It comes as no surprise to learn that the jamboree is sponsored by Sainsbury's.

Do you think when George VI died he could have imagined the tawdry world which awaited his elder daughter some six decades on?

The future of Oxbridge

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read that an inner-city school in London had recreated the study of an Oxford don to help prepare its students for interviews at the elite university.

The deference to Oxford and Cambridge in the UK is quite extraordinary. Rather than impose reform on the anachronistic institutions or encourage young people to have broader horizons, we seem to believe that social mobility revolves around getting a small number of working-class kids to 'share' in the experience enjoyed for centuries by an elite.

The recreation of the room did, however, get me thinking of a possible future for the snooty Oxbridge colleges. They could be reinvented in a theme park, perhaps somewhere like Chatham or Romford. Local people and foreign tourists alike could share in the educational experience for a day, attending mock tutorials with animatronic academics. This way for the seminar on the Sturm und Drang proto-romantics. Down the escalator if you want to get plastered on daddy's allowance and smash up some local restaurants.

St Asaph? We need new rules asap.

The news this week that the town of St Asaph has been granted city status in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations left many Brits bemused. Err.. St Where? The consensus seems to be that there had to be a Welsh place on the list. Maybe they were the only ones bidding? In which case, you have to hand it to the burghers of the sleepy hamlet (population 3,600) for having the chutzpah to claim the crown.

As a lifelong Londoner, I tend to believe that the capital is the only place worthy of city status in the UK. Alright, maybe Birmingham at a pinch. But I think it's time we had a clearer set of criteria for deciding on these things. Here's my suggested checklist. If you can meet all the requirements, you're in.

1. Do you have a population of five million or more?
2. Are you always within a two-minute walk of Starbucks or Pret?
3. Have you ever had a riot which spiralled out of control?
4. Are your buses red double-deckers?
5. Are you hosting the 2012 Olympic Games?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Perfect perfume for a Pontiff

We all want to look our best when we welcome a delegation of visiting cardinals or pop out to deliver to a sermon to a crowd of 50,000 people. It's hard, therefore, to begrudge Pope Benedict some sharp schmutter. But according to recent reports, the aged Pontiff likes to smell right too.

The Vatican's numero uno has commissioned his very own eau de cologne from a lady called Silvana Casoli, who has previously mixed up some fragrances for the likes of Madonna and Sting. The blend of lime tree, verbana and grass will no doubt help to cover up the stench created by so many of the allegations against the Catholic hierarchy in recent years.

Am I alone in thinking that there could be a market for a perfume blessed by His Holiness? I'm picturing the ad now in GQ or Esquire. A double-page spread with a background of velvet in a deep Papal red. The bottle resting alongside a rosary and other accoutrements of office. A splash of the Holy See.

Syrian tyrant takes the biscuit

The Guardian newspaper claims to have uncovered a whole load of emails from Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad. The threads reveal little at a political level we couldn't already guess, but they do shine a light on the Russian-backed dictator's lifestyle and tastes.

While his troops are bombing Syrian civilians to hell, Assad is downloading stuff on iTunes. Like Harry Potter movies and tributes to Cliff Richard. He's also sending round quick messages to aides with links to YouTube videos. One of his favourites depicts the rapidly deteriorating situation in Homs through toy cars and biscuits.

Say what you like about the bloke. Deep down, he's just like us. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he likes to dip into Washed and Ready every now again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hard times

I passed by a phone box in Baker Street today and saw a card advertising the services of a transsexual. The £60 fee for unspecified services was described as a 'recession special'. What he was making in the boom, we can only guess. Or she.