Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chicken Debate

At least two debates resolved to my satisfaction during a barbecue last night at Hendo Towers.
- Expensive chicken is definitely more chickeny, and justifies the extra outlay if you can run to it.
- It's OK to do a whole chicken on a barbie if a. it is a kettle barbie, and b. Ms T has Spatchcocked it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

End of an Era

I've spent the last month based in Birmingham as a roving producer. Now it's at an end, and as I clear out the old Diet Coke bottles and Wellington Boots (purchased, William Boot-like, in case of floods) from the pool car I feel a twinge of regret.

There will be no more pulse racing when the mobile rings, no more fumbling in the rucksack for the GPS. (I changed the voice from 'Pam' who's a bit upper cut and repressed, to 'Ken', an Aussie whose manly brogue seems strangely comforting when threading through the Spaghetti Junction at rush hour. One instinctively trusts an Aussie in vexed situations)

There will be no more grim garage sandwiches and bags of Doritos seized for an instant carb fix in a spare minute. The hands free mobile, which once received sixty eight calls in one day, can go back to receiving one call a day, that most likely being from my Dad. I will no longer regret not having a Blackberry.

I will be highly respectful of anyone who does this job permanently. It is exhausting, not least the driving. I now have a favourite motorway stretch (M40 in Warwickshire - lovely in Summer evenings), and a least favourite stretch of suburbia (Kings Heath at school turning out time).

I won't miss the hotels; they ceased to be a novelty very early on. The Malmaison was the most tolerable but had nowhere decent to exercise. Jury's Inn was the worst; a sort of hotel answer to Ryanair. Avoid.

Above all I will miss the Brummies and the other Midland Denizens. They were all very friendly and invariably responded positively to me smiling at them and asking them for soul baring on the national news; I was rather falling for them by the end.
NB This is High Praise from a Manc.

** Thanks to Mrs Magpie for correcting my Waugh reference.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Unpreturbed of Northampton

I've spent the last two days in Northamptonshire, where the water literally isn't fit to drink. This is because of an outbreak of cryptosporidium in the pipes, a parasite nearly as nasty to contract as to spell. We swimmers know it all too well; it's what gives you that dodgy tummy after a dip in a murky pool or off a contaminated beach. Anglian Water freely admit to being perplexed at its appearance in their network.

But the people of Northampton are distinctly unphased about having to boil their water. I 'vox popped' in the market square. "You just have to get on with it really" said one man. There was a total lack of panic, and I left town feeling that the Dunkirk spirit was still alive and well, simply unremarked upon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You Know You're in Italy When....

....female joggers bend slightly when passing Miss T in order to check out her shoes..

...children accompany their families to restaurants, and behave themselves.... is quite unfeasibly hot.... develop an ice cream problem....

....there are three distinct sets of church bells inside a square mile... take a hundred and eight pictures inside forty eight hours (don't worry they're not all there when you click the album, just the ones suitable for public consumption).

Monday, June 16, 2008


Suburban life comes into its own in the summer. Warm sunlit evenings, walks to the pub or the park, and almost always on venturing up Milton Road, an encounter with Hank. His tarty ways were a joy to all; he wasn't proud like some cats. Instead he would greet you as a long lost friend, with noisy miaow. Then, if picked up, he would purr like a Bentley's engine and curl across your shoulders. To put him down was an affront.
He had many homes, and no homes; no owners exactly but many owners, who all took turns at feeding him and getting treatment for him at the vets. They were with him when after a long life, he slipped away yesterday.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lee's Business

I hope the real business world is nothing like 'The Apprentice'. My friend Alice who is a denizen of many a heated boardroom, says it's not and she should know. The series seemed to glorify the art of knowing nothing about a something, but selling the something anyway. This was typified by the winner, Lee McQueen, who's wriggling about his fictional CV was masterful.

Here's Lee's technique on finally being called on his fictional University education.

- "A CV is a conversational tool."

- "A CV is about a bullet point format".

- On his degree education: "As far as I am aware it was two years, yes"

Finally, when faced with the reality, that he dropped out after four months: "I am disappointed in myself for doing that".

There's a future in politics for him if Sir Alan's outfit doesn't work out.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Back On The Road Again

Back in my hotel in Birmingham where I'm on attachment for a while. The end of a glorious day, of real heat warming up Emma's christening, and a splash of pink sunset as I headed up the M40. Tomorrow, Stoke Magistrates.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

More Swimming

Went swimming in the Lido again this morning. I think my system is getting used to the shock of it. Certainly the disorientation and panicky breathing was all over by the end of the first twenty or thirty metres.
Now I want to start working on my lengths.
Me: 8
Tricky Skills (Of Onionbag Blog): 20
GaijinGirl (from Urban75): 30 (Go GG!)
Hardcore Blokes (training for the Olympics or Something): 40.

Some way to go before I can live with the rest of them.
I was joined this morning by Helen, who says what everyone says, that it makes you feel amazing. And it does, I'm sort of buzzing even now some four hours later. Ms T said last night she would swim too, but wussed out. She stood looking at us from the side with a slightly wistful air about her.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Guns and Knives

Here's what a teacher friend of mine has to say on Urban 75 about the rise in concern about knives and violence affecting young people:

i tell you what my experience leads me to think could do a massive amount to reduce the number of kids carrying and using weapons: if the media stopped making such a song and dance over it.everywhere they turn they're being told that kids carry guns. or at least, kids who don't toe the parental/school/church/worthy sleb endorsement line. what's more, kids involved in knife crime get on telly loads. and they get their portraits put into huge murals and everyone talks about them and says nice things about them.i mean - if you sit them down, they don't want to die - but it's glamorous. The cult of celebrity is the fundamental social force driving teenagers, ime. they want it. they wish they could be on jeremy kyle, they're thrilled when their estate is on the local news. Catching a glimpse of a C list, bread and butter actor is the best thing that will happen to them in months... Knives and guns are on tv, and being on tv makes you cool. therefore, knives and guns make you cool.