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Showing posts from December, 2006

Saint Weed

We took the mini-Ws to a free art workshop at the National Gallery in London. The artist presiding took the kids to see a picture by Leonardo and then treated them to some his own work. We learned that his abstract creations represented a parallel universe called Updown, where there was no gravity. In this world, no one could sit on the ground, unless they were a saint of the calibre of Saint Weed - the star of one of the pictures. Lots of rather blank looks among the assembled six-year-olds. And quite a few among the grown-ups too.

Some recent obituaries

Not sure I would have wanted to see James Brown lying in his coffin in New York. He didn't look too good when he was alive, if I'm honest. Old-time comic Charlie Drake (who was so small he needed specially adapted shorts while serving in the RAF) died in the same nursing home in South-West London that played host to the late Alan 'Fluff' Freeman. This home is exclusively earmarked for former stars of stage and screen and you do have to wonder what life must be like there. A kind of geriatric Stella Street, I suppose. Sources tell me that there used to be rival camps of luvvies: those who had been on the TV had nothing to do with ageing variety and music hall performers. The good news is that the number of residents is kept fairly constant. Norman Wisdom is due to move in soon, I believe. Saddam's application was unfortunately turned down. Although the former Iraqi dictator had provided a great deal of entertainment over the years for viewers of 24-hour rolling

Who wants to be a millionaire?

There's this programme on the telly - don't know whether you've seen it - where they send a millionaire undercover into an impoverished local community. He spends some time there and then shells out much-needed cash to those he judges worthy recipients. I think the programme could work the same way in reverse. They could send me undercover to pose as a millionaire at a place like the Savoy. In order to be credible, I'd need to be holding some serious folding. It would be a useful insight into social relationships and the state of the British class system.

Once, twice a lady

I was in W H Smith the other day and handed over a Lady Godiva to pay for a newspaper. As I passed it across the counter, it split in two. The shop assistant held the pieces up and I was thinking that I'd have to dig deep into the Woodford Reserves, but she actually accepted it! She even gave me change. A heart-warming story this yuletide. Gawd bless 'er. Wonder what Smiths will make of it all?

Complaints about my footy quiz

The Hoffmeister reckons the quiz on is too hard. I hate to be blunt, Hoffy, but quizzes always seem hard when you can't think of the answers. Just like in Bullseye, you need to take your time. Just like in Catchphrase, you need to say what you see. As Loyd Grossman would say, "Who lives in a quiz like this?" The clues are there. When I ask, for instance, who was managing Huddersfield in 1957, it's safe to assume that it was someone quite significant in the footballing world.

Christmas iMix and some fun and games

My Christmas website is now live at This iMix is just one fragment of the festive fun that you'll find there:

24-hour teeth

Mrs W was trying to renew her dental insurance and was outraged to discover that the call centre closed at 4.30 on a Friday afternoon. I completely understand her anger. If someone wants to renew their dental policy, they should be able to do it at three in the morning if they want. Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned customer service?

Something very fishy in Tesco

This morning, I was in Tesco at 7.05 am. Not my usual time for supermarket shopping, but I needed bread, as well as some cash for a guy who was delivering flooring to Woodford Towers for our new kitchen. In front of me at the checkout was a man with four tins of tuna, three tins of sardines and two tins of pilchards. Nothing else. He asked to pay for the sardines and pilchards separately from the tuna. After he'd made his initial payment, he realised that he didn't actually have enough cash for all the tuna tins. One had to be left behind. My view was that he probably had enough for his breakfast anyway and the extra tuna was unlikely to be missed.

Stamp has tourist licked

True story. Post Office on High Holborn in London earlier today. Tourist wants to send an airmail letter but is struggling with the blue "par avion" sticker. A member of staff shows him how to peel it off its plastic backing. The guy then starts trying to peel the stamp he's been given, but is struggling with that too and can't seem to make it work. The member of staff informs him that he needs to lick it and then stick it on the envelope.

My latest enquiries

Fishy business: Polonium 210 found at Gunners' home ground I haven't quite got to the bottom of the Russian spy business yet. But I think we're at the stage where dodgy sushi can be categorically ruled out as the cause of death. News that Arsenal's Emirates stadium suffered a minor nuking adds another bizarre dimension to the case. Come to think of it, Polonium 210 sounds like it could be a football team. Recently defeated in the Russian Federation Cup by Dynamo Chernobyl, who were ahead over two legs. Or all had two heads. One or the other.

Who next?

Hoffy informs me by txt msg that Patrick Duffy - once renowned as sex symbol Bobby Ewing in Dallas - is now reduced to panto in Guildford. I say reduced, but according to the Mirror's 3am Girls, the Dallas dish is actually clocking up ten large a week. Altogether now: "Oh no he isn't!" I'm afraid to say that, yes, he probably is. Watch this space for news on Britt Ekland's role as a Fairy Godmother in Swindon. And I wish I were joking.

Skating on thin ice

Received in my inbox this morning... Your message Subject: "And that an ammonia-chilled glycol solution runs through piping under skating rinks to freeze the ice?" could not be delivered to some or all of the intended recipients.

Feline spam

The stock-hyping spammers are generally the most successful right now at getting their stuff past anti-spam programs. The latest techniques involve some of the lengthiest and most bizarre email headers I've yet seen. An example from Nina Downing this morning: We find those qualities repulsive in humans, yet strangely appealing in cats.

Sorry, Stephen Hawking, but you've got it wrong

The emiment scientist Stephen Hawking recently suggested that human beings will have to colonise other planets if we're to survive as a species. Far be it from me to dispute the wisdom of someone who's obviously got more letters after his name, but I can't help feeling that he's a little off the rails with his off-the-planet plan. Just think about it. At the moment, I have a local bank based in Mumbai. Under his scheme, the call centre would be outsourced to Ikkyon 4. And that's a very long way to ship videos of Eastenders.

Atomic clocks

For her seventh birthday, the older mini-W was given a clock that projects its time on to the ceiling. I have to say it's quite neat. It also checks the time with an atomic clock in Rugby by means of a radio signal. Why Rugby? And how, exactly, do atomic clocks work? I expect they have some polonium 210 or similar inside. Quite why this makes them better at telling the time though, I'm really not sure. It may be the mini-Ws will learn about it at school and explain it all to me in due course.

Frankenstein at Christmas

The bigger mini-W was going on about Frankenstein recently and I wondered whether she'd been introduced to the classic Shelley novel at her school. Although she's only just seven, they do teach her Shakespeare and suchlike, so anything's possible. Turns out she was actually talking about one of the gifts that the Wise Men brought to baby Jesus.