Sunday, October 18, 2009

Liquid clothing may soon be all the rage

I'd heard of ships in bottles and messages in bottles, but until recently the idea of gloves in bottles had never made it onto the Woodford radar. According to the flier, they are great for housework and DIY, but also a hit with medical and construction workers.

If you look closely at the copy, you'll see that Gloves In A Bottle is 'not just for hands'. It 'works on any skin'. This surely raises all kinds of exciting possibilities. Like shirts in a bottle. Or trousers, perhaps.

Get me some towels and hot water. And plenty of coffee.

Mrs W and I are partial to a bit of Lavazza and I recently bought a new cafetiere, which came in a pretty duck-egg blue. Within just a few uses, it was clear that coffee grind was getting caught between the glass beaker and the metal frame that surrounded it. Try as I might, I could not separate glass from metal and was worried that I was going to break the thing.

A quick web search for my exotic, continental "LaCafetiere" revealed that the company responsible was based in north Wales, not far from Prestatyn. I was immediately on the phone. And my high horse.

Amazingly, at the other end of the line was an American guy who took me seriously and talked me through the process of detaching my beaker for cleaning. The best way to imagine this conversation - which I played on speakerphone to Mrs W - is to think of an emergency services operator talking a terrified dad-to-be through the home delivery of his first child.

First of all, we needed to establish exactly which cafetiere I'd bought. This was done through a kind of flow-diagram elimination of different models. Would I say that the glass beaker extended to approximately two-thirds of the height of the total contraption? Could I see a slim vertical window extending down the side of the metal frame, allowing me to view the content of the pot?

Once we knew I had a Rainbow, he put me at my ease by telling me this was definitely one of the stiffest ranges and it could occasionally prove problematic. (In other words, I wasn't a few grinds short of an espresso and wasting his time with a damn fool question.) The solution involved a towel, co-ordinated thumb movements and a bit of patience.

Mrs W and her Lavazza are doing well.

Whatever you do, don't laugh...

It will be all white on the night... Capital Dental comes up trumps for patient Mark Jones

Sorry to share this picture with you on a family blog, but it's taken from a leaflet pushed through the door at Woodford Towers to promote the services of a company called Capital Dental. The cosmetic specialists in Hampton, Middlesex provide a case study of a lucky patient called Mark Jones. "I had always been concerned about the appearance of my teeth," he says in a piece of testimonial blurb. So concerned, in fact, that according to the copy, he never smiled.

What? Never?

Apparently so. "If something had really made me smile," Mark continues, "I always covered my mouth."

Friends, presumably, would have come to recognise this rather endearing - if idiosyncratic and self-conscious - habit. Let's hope he was never given any laughing gas at the dentist's. Anyway, a few porcelain veneers later, all is well.

"Just look at my before and after pictures," reflects Mark. "I am a new person, full of self confidence."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Just an observation...

The Cambridge Primary Review has recommended that kids shouldn't start any formal learning until they're six years old. Travelling on local bus routes in London, my concern is that they still haven't started at the age of 14.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Down with da yoof

If you want a tragic example of adults misjudging a message to young people, you'll find it right here:

It's worth cringing your way through the whole thing.

From Walton with love...

These days, many of us are keen to reduce our air travel for ecological reasons and so-called 'staycations' are all the rage due to the recession. That's why it's good to know you don't have to travel far to get a taste of the exotic during the forthcoming festive season.

One ad in my local paper runs with the headline 'Bring the kids to the North Pole this Christmas' and tells me that I'll be 'magically transported' to Santa's home. The bargain price of £25 seems a little too good to be true. After all, it costs me £15 return to get into central London during rush hour and they're saying that I can get to Lapland and back for just a tenner more?

Closer inspection reveals the catch. Santa's temporary home is, in fact, the Hook Road Arena in Epsom. The good news is that I'm guaranteed a white Christmas, as well as lots of other authentic stuff that you'd normally only find in the Arctic. Like a funfair, snow tubing and a traditional European market.

As if this weren't exciting enough, another company has taken over Syon Park in Isleworth and invites me to 'tantalize' (sic) my senses in the 'vibrant and energetic city of Marrakech'. In an explosion of kitsch completely inappropriate to the genuinely historic setting, I am promised fountains, ornate bronze sculptures, scented oil lamps and - God help us - a 'twinkling starlit ceiling'. As you'd expect, visitors will be entertained by belly dancers, acrobats and fire jugglers. The Camel Rodeo and dodgems may, however, come as something of a surprise - particularly to those of you who've actually been to north Africa.

Morocco not to your taste? Then why not make your way to Walton-on-Thames in Surrey and take shelter in the Russian Forests? A Cossack encampment 'complete with snow-clad pine trees' is the setting for 007 themed parties. Sword dancers will duel while diners paying £34.50 + VAT join a company of Bond girls in a recreation of a Tsar's Palace.

There's definitely money to be made in all of this, so I'm laying some plans for next year. I have a feeling that Battersea Power Station might well be the right setting for my 'Mysteries of the Pharoahs Christmas Celebration'. Now, what kind of dodgems did the ancient Egyptians prefer?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Oh, how we laughed...

One of the surprising things about classic British sitcom The Good Life is how the basic premise has stood the test of time. Tom jumps off the corporate treadmill and tries to create a little oasis of self-sufficiency in snooty Surbiton. He and his sexy wife, Barbara, battle against prejudice, lack of funds and the challenges thrown at them by Mother Nature, but they believe in a better way of life and are determined to succeed. In many respects, as we confront runaway climate change in 2009, the ideas of the scriptwriters seem remarkably prescient.

Incidental aspects of the show are rather more dated though. I caught five minutes of one episode recently, in which a telephone engineer was working in the Good household. Margo arrives to see him removing an old-fashioned handset and asks if he's from the GPO. 'No,' he replies. 'I'm an eccentric millionaire who receives so many calls that I have to carry a phone around with me!' Cue canned laughter.

In an ironic, 21st century twist, I have decided to post this blog from my iPhone. As an aspiring millionaire, I carry it around with me for show.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

All good gifts around us are sent from... Waitrose

Mrs W got a good snapshot of the modern-day harvest festival when she attended a local church service in our south-west London enclave. All the usual trappings were there - including the boxes of food assembled for distribution to the needy of the parish. Her feeling was that the recipients might struggle to identify many of the contents, however. In place of the traditional fare (tinned peaches, Green Giant and some Ambrosia creamed rice), the well-meaning Waitrose shoppers in the congregation had brought along exotic hand-woven pasta and Whole Earth baked beans.

I can just picture the bemused elderly couple opening their package.

'Stan, what's this?'

'I don't know love. But if the writing's foreign, best throw it in the bin.'