August 2009 Archives
A new product, invented and launched in the US (where else?), has just become available in Britain. Not quite sure who it's aimed at, but it's a fat-burning lip balm.
Yes, forget about WeightWatchers, and all that tedious calorie-counting and exercise, just slap on this special lippy and you'll be like Victoria Beckham before you know it. A joke from an old colleague ... you have to admire David Beckham - most of us hide or skeletons in a cupboard, he takes his out in public ...
Why on earth would Vic and Bob (or the BBC) want to revive Shooting Stars? They can't need the money, surely? Why on earth would big comedy names like Jack Dee and Matt Lucas want to be involved? Or even Ulrikakakaka Jonsson?
Those kind of thoughts went through my mind last night as I reluctantly abandoned Facebook to watch the first of a new series. Misgivings were piled almost as high as the Dove from Above. There is one resounding answer to all this - laughter. You can't argue with it.
See this woman. I've just found out that she is my great great great great grandmother.
Earlier this week, as part of a feature I was writing for The Birmingham Post, I went with family historian Paul Wilkins to Birmingham Central Library to trace my family tree and discovered, amongst other great worthiness, that I am a direct descendant of Elizabeth Fry, the woman who reformed prisons in the nineteenth century and is commemorated on the back of a fiver.
Now I'm trying to work out how it makes me feel.
Britain's Got Talent, The X-Factor, Pop Idol and the like have definitely moved the goalposts. I'm listening to an awful racket from the garden of The Woolpack, separated from my office/bedroom as the crow flies only by an admittedly substantial stone former Methodist chapel, now home to our local army cadets.
The problem is that the rash of hugely-popular talent shows seems to have done something to yer man and woman in the street's consciousness of what constitutes singing ability.
We live in a world of spin. Perception seems to be all that matters. Take fast food - which is all that's on offer at most of the eatieries (imagine that said with a slight ironic sneer) that the average family can afford to frequent.
We have a brand new Harvester just down the road. It's basic pub grub with the addition of a salad bar. Burgers, pasta, pizza, the usual chicken and curry things, jackets. No change really, except in the way the menu is presented - all sorts of calorie counts are now included and suggestions for healthier options.
We've just left Nashville where we spent a few days and I have to say I'd love to have stayed longer. Having moved from big city to big city in the first part of our trip it was a welcome change to go somewhere we could enjoy a slower pace of life and see a very different side to America.
If you're planning to visit a maize maze or one of the traditional green ones at a stately home, here's a tip gleaned from a mathematics expert. As you enter, place your left hand on the 'wall'. Keep walking, never taking your hand off. You should, I'm assured, reach the centre of the maze.
It may or may not work - haven't tried it yet. I've been thinking about it a lot recently, wishing there were an equally certain formula for dealing with the labyrinth that is modern morality.
So it's back to business as usual after a staycation in the parallel universe that is Whitby.
It's a place full of character and characters - some of them real as well as Count Dracula, the Bram Stoker fictional creation who is central to the cultural life of the town. There's a dark edge to the place, with its decidedly ungolden sands, its place at the centre of the Goth universe (blame Mr Stoker and Whitby Abbey and do a Google search) and jet (blame Queen Victoria and fossilised monkey puzzle trees).
It's easy to take your home comforts for granted, but one thing that you have to compromise on when travelling for an extended period of time is the quality of accommodation you can afford to stay in. While we were open to the idea of hostels I must admit we were far from keen, but we have been very pleasantly surprised.