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Showing posts from April, 2008

Self-delusion in print: viewing highly recommended

I've just received a note through my door from an estate agent, which describes the market in my particular pocket of south-west London as "looking buoyant". The buoyancy they're talking about is, I think, the type normally exhibited by a corpse that's bloated with water and heading towards a rocky shoreline. Prices are down 10% on last summer's high and Mrs W reports seeing local agents nodding off at their desks. But they still have a great line in patter, don't they? The figures, incidentally, that you read in the papers are lagging wildly behind the reality on the ground. "Growth" in the Greater London housing market is not static or in the + 1 or 2% bracket. It's in serious negative territory since the start of 2008. Watch this space. The times, they are a changing. And what was it that Dylan said? "The first ones now will later be last"? Perhaps that was a message to the likes of Foxtons.

Confused about

I was talking to my friend Simon recently about all the price comparison sites that are out there now. We're so confused by them that we're looking for a site that compares them. In fact, I'd never look at a price comparison site until I'd checked it against a number of different criteria and made sure it had a good rating. While I'm on the subject, there was a lady on the telly the other day from a ridiculous site called The idea is that you search for the gas station within a 10-mile radius that's selling the cheapest fuel. "Where are you off to, love?" "Oh, I'm just off to get some petrol. May be a while. It's a 20-mile round trip. But I've found this station that's a penny a litre cheaper. Or at least it was half an hour ago."

Allo, Allo, Allo, you vil tell me immediately vot is going on hier

I don't know where to start with the story about the classic British comedy Allo Allo being dubbed into German. The BBC, on the other hand, had a very clear idea. "Leesen vay carefully," began the reporter on the 10 O'Clock news. "I shall say zees urnly wurnce...." Although the cultural and political ramifications are probably big enough, I'm still trying to get my head around the idea of posh English airmen, who speak make-believe broken French, being translated into German. Aren't the viewers in Berlin and Frankfurt in danger of losing something? Not on the scale of 1945, perhaps, but losing something nevertheless.

Make a statement with your water

I'm grateful to Mrs W for pointing this one out. If you don't mind splashing out more than $50 for mineral water, Bling H2O may be just what you're after. The bottles - the creation of a Hollywood writer - are studded with Swarovski crystals. Makes a refreshing change from bog standard brands such as Evian and San Pellegrino.

There's no chance of rehabilitating reality TV

Stuck for something to watch on the telly? Why not try the Five Life Channel, now rebranded as the 'smarter, darker, sexier' Fiver ? To celebrate its launch, we're being treated to a show called Celebrity Rehab . The trailer features some middle-aged gentleman talking incoherently to a group of young girls. "Bl***y hell" reads the on-screen caption. "Hold on. Isn't that the bloke who used to be in Grease?" You can just sense this is going to be a treat, can't you?

From Russia with a lovely line in patter

Multi-talented though I am, I've never seen myself as the potential Financial Manager for a company that "primarily deals in corporate and residential ground plans". Vladimir Voldin thinks I'm underestimating my own abilities. In an email received yesterday, the exotic Russian spammer tells me that he's reviewed my CV and thinks I have "a good chance to receive the position". He's kind enough to supply answers to a number of FAQs. The first one explains why his company only ever hires US citizens. At this point, Vlad, I was starting to smell just a little bit of a rat. You see, I'm actually a British citizen who is disqualified from the job by your own criteria. So I think there's a good chance that you'll have to receive your position back. It's obviously a difficult job to fill though. Later the same day, Vladimir's mate Vasily Galeev wrote with exactly the same offer. Except this time, the name of the company had changed

Standard purchases

The Evening Standard in London is kindly keeping track of prices in the capital (which apparently are escalating wildly beyond those in the provinces). The paper's "Lifestyle Index" measures inflation against a basket of everyday essentials. These include a medium avocado, salmon fillets, a dozen free-range eggs and annual membership of Cannons Health Club. Instantly recognisable purchases to the average shopper in Woolwich or New Cross.

Eye to the future

News that Moorfields Eye Hospital in London is now giving patients 'bionic' eyes (see ) will come as no surprise to fans of Star Trek. We knew the technology behind Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge's VISOR technology ( ) had to start somewhere. It might be, of course, that medics have developed this device a century or so too early. Which would suggest some serious disruption to the space-time continuum or at the very least a troubling temporal anomaly.
The view of Carrow Road football ground from my room at a Holiday Inn in Norwich last week. I was close enough to take a corner. With a bit of a run up.
A lion stands guard at Norwich Town Hall. I'm not sure whether the statue was sculpted by my grandfather, but I do know he was responsible for the heraldic images on the main doors.

Girl orders sherbert, ends up with furniture.

Great story here about a streetwise youngster who was trying to order a sherbert dab to take her from London to Bristol. She referred to the vehicle as a "Joe Baxi", which confused the directory company taking her call. The would-be passenger then clarified everything by saying she wanted a "cab innit". As a result, she was put through to a furniture supplier who said the cheapest one available was £180. It was duly delivered the next morning. Excuse me while I go and drill a hole in the back of my head with a Black & Decker. "Where to darlin'? Bristol? That'll cost yer. And I ain't got no room for that bleeding chest of drawers."

Branding error?

Rezidor's Park Inn hotel chain could do with some advice on branding issues. Innaction may not have exactly the right kind of feel for a gym.

Sleb spotting

York station on Friday night. Who was standing next to me on the platform? Only Dominic Littlewood, the smooth-talking cockney car salesman who fronts the BBC's To buy or not to buy. He had two female minders with him and was cheerfully greeted by locals, who knew him from his daytime TV performances. "Alright guv!" shouted one Yorkshireman. "Awwight fella!" came the cheery response. Dominic was smaller than me and has a lot less hair. But I can't deny he's a snappy dresser. Mrs W was jealous of my encounter. She loves all those home programmes.

Flaming mad Olympic procession

Yesterday's ridiculous torch relay in London for the Beijing Olympics shows just how strongly people feel about the forthcoming games. We are not prepared to let the likes of Denise van Outen and Trevor McDonald carry the Olympic flame and will do anything in our power to stop them. Even if it means flinging ourselves at B-list slebs and letting off fire extinguishers.

All done in the best possible taste

I really can't imagine what was going through the sub-editor's mind when he penned the picture caption to this story in my local paper. As my old friend Russ would say, they're cracking jokes just for the halibut. Brinsworth House - a home for elderly luvvies - must be a truly fascinating place. I have images of the late 'Fluff' Freeman sharing a drop of rum with Captain Birdseye over a plate of his finest fish fingers. Nothing but the best for the Captain's table.