Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Friday, February 29, 2008

The daily flotsam

Men! Have you ever wondered what's going through your little lady's mind?

Well wonder no more, because I've decided to share with you my thoughts as I drove to Swindon this morning. This drive along the M25 and M4 ranges takes an average of 2.5 hours, depending on how many accidents there have been. Last Friday the return leg reached a new low of 3.5 hours owing to about three accidents on the M4. Sheesh, people are so careless. I see them in their cars fiddling with their Tom Toms and their phones. I could scream!

So here are the random thoughts:
- where is the Bailey's equine feeds lorry? Didn't see it last week either. "Horse nutrition in the bag."
- I wonder how much I would get if I took the voluntary separation package. Would it be enough to build a new conservatory? No, don't think about it, don't want to leave.
- what should I wear on Sunday (taking mum out for lunch). Perhaps I could take a pair of flat shoes so that we can walk round Cockington afterwards and see the daffodils. I can't lurch around on high heels all day.
- where has the muse gone? I haven't had the urge to be creative for several days now. Can you reach saturation point with scrapbooking where you don't want to see another brad, button or bloom as long as you live?
- won't bother reading the papers today if they're all obsessed with Prince Harry. He is sooooo boring. He joined the army so why are we surprised he's on the front line? What were the UK press and paps doing to miss the story (it was apparently broken by international press). Didn't they notice that Harry wasn't in London and falling out of nightclubs - for five weeks?! (Well actually they did but unusually for the UK press they were adhering to a blackout on the Harry news).
- our Eurovision chances look very bleak. The BBC seems to have handed the whole thing to an intern if you ask me.
- glad James won the Masterchef final. I tipped him to win from the very first time we saw him! But Emily will go far too.
- How about this as a great programme idea? "Masterchef meets The Restaurant." I'm convinced the finalists in Masterchef reached a much higher standard than those in The Restaurant (the male winner of The Restaurant was clueless about seasonality - so was hardly a food expert). It would make a good Christmas special. Have Raymond Blanc and the other judges blind tasting (so they aren't biased) and have James and Emily and The Restaurant winners competing against each other.
- hope I don't put on too much weight after this weekend....eating out twice today...going to my mum's....aaarghhh.

So there you have it. Illuminating, no?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Give the gong to Bruce!

I've joined a group on Facebook called "Give Bruce Forsyth a Knighthood." Membership now stands at 10,000. It's a movement that has been gaining momentum since Derek Draper (husband of Kate Garraway) started a campaign when Strictly Come Dancing was on.

The whole matter of why hasn't Bruce been given a knighthood, at the age of 80, throws into question the honours system.

It smacks of the old boys' network with Gordon and his chums, and prior to that, Tony and his chums, giving out awards like sweets to the rockstars and footballers they admire. The Queen has very little say. Having watched last night's Monarchy programme on BBC HD, it revealed there is one award that is her bequest alone, the Order of Victoria. Meanwhile Steven Gerrard was seen getting an MBE, with his ghastly wife chomping away on gum, and you have to think: why?

Bruce has been a traditional entertainer as long as much of us can remember. Sometimes underrated, he has superb comedy timing and is multi-talented. I saw him in his one man show many years ago and he was a wonderful dancer, could sing, and even played instruments. Even on SCD, where some have cruelly criticised him for being past it, his professionalism comes to the fore when there is a manufactured spat between the judges or an incident like the one where the microphone got caught up in Karen Hardy's dress.

I am appalled that Mick Jagger has been knighted and Bruce hasn't. It's hard to fathom why Mick Jagger was knighted. Longevity, perhaps? You could say he is a fornicating adulterer, and if he does good deeds for charity he is silent about it. It smacks to me of some sort of hero worship from Tony Blair.

The honours system gives recognition to many ordinary men and women who toil tirelessly for charity or enrich the community in other ways. Meeting the Queen gives them a very special day. I'm all in favour of that. I'm less in favour of the personal bestowing of knighthoods on n'er do wells like Mick Jagger who don't deserve it. George Harrison died only an MBE, same as Steven Gerrard, although he left us a heritage of wonderful songs like Something and Here Comes the Sun. Criminal.

There is a rumour on Facebook that Brucie will be knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June. Let's bloomin' well hope so. It would be nice to see, to see it nice.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dustin the Turkey is in

They did it...the Irish voted for a turkey puppet to represent them in Eurovision. A bad precedent methinks! As if the contest doesn't have enough problems with the perception that all the songs are turkeys.

Mind, I'm not expecting great things from the array of goodies that the BBC will put before the voting public in March.

Apparently one of the entrants is Michelle Gayle (ex EastEnders), someone from Hear Say (how many people were in that group? It seems there is always "someone from Hear Say turning up in reality shows) and a couple of the failures from the Joseph and Maria shows. Holy God! I am already pessimistic without hearing the songs.

Morrissey, where are you when we need you?
Not that he would win, but at least it would be more interesting.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Consider yourself atoned, Sarah Duchess of York

I've always been fascinated by Sarah Ferguson or the Duchess of York, depending on which moniker you prefer. She nearly always lets me down though. Let me explain.

When she first exploded on the scene and married Prince Andrew, I thought the exuberant redhead was a lot of fun in a public school girl type way - gungho with lashings of ginger beer. She blew a breath of fresh air through the stuffy old royal establishment. I loved her wedding dress. It fizzed with her energy and character, with all those bees and butterflies on the train. It was far better than Diana's crumpled meringue.

Then it all went horribly wrong. There was the toe sucking business with that revolting Bryant character; Prince Philip called her "worthless", she was divorced, virtually bankrupt and scuttled off to America. Every now and then pictures would surface where she was looking sad at the prospect of her daughters spending Christmas with the Windsors while she was cloistered away in some lodge at the bottom of the garden like an unwanted gnome.

Now matter how much she was derided - and she was - she really turned over a new leaf in America and as a spokesperson for WeightWatchers she has earned respect, her own money and a trim figure which she's kept for over a decade. Her ex-husband meanwhile is still seen as something of a buffoon, travelling the world's golf courses in some tenuous DTI role and carrying on like an ageing lothario.

During this time she's had very little romantic interest, except for some ageing count: unless she's managed to get rid of the paraparazzi, which I very much doubt.

The reason for this becomes clear in an interview in Psychologies magazine. Using the psycho-babble that she always seems to spout, Sarah says that she still hasn't learnt to love herself, so she can't expect someone else to love her.

The magazine points out it's as if she's still trying to atone.

Oh Sarah. I wish you would lighten up. She looks so serious in the photos! Where is that sparky redhead? I wish she could meet someone and have some joy in her life. But she needs to turn her back on all the psychobabble, she really does. Last time she was on TV, it was being interviewed by Pamela Connolly (a psychologist). Sarah, like a lot of needy people, succumbs all too easily to the arguments about how her early years, and a mother abandoning her family, ruined her life. She talks too much about how she put on a mask, how she's now her real self. Stop analysing yourself Sarah and start living! All too soon it becomes too late.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sadly deluded

If having to pay £3,500 each to nationalise the Northern Rock bank wasn't enough for the taxpayer to bear, the grim fiscal reality surrounding the Diana Inquest now becomes clear. This inquest, and all the other inquiries before it, is costing is millions and why? Because somehow we were influenced by the deluded ramblings of Mohamed Al Fayed.

I've always said that the inquest is a complete waste of time and money: that he and his tedious supporters will always claim a whitewash, a cover-up, no matter what its conclusions are. But now we see for ourselves, after his evidence, how flimsy is the case on which all this conspiracy nonsense stands. So why in God's name did it ever go this far, with barristers haemorrhaging cash (ours) every minute of the inquest?

Who wasn't implicated by Al Fayed yesterday? Tony Blair, Diana's sister, Dominic Lawson, the late Robin Cook.....the French government....How about Scooby Doo and Herr Flick? Ridiculous flights of fancy, surely the result of madness.

This whole thing should be stopped NOW. Let the woman rest in peace and let's stop all this rubbish about pregnancies, babies, conspiracies and so on. Utter tosh!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Eurovision update: Ireland to choose a turkey?

Ireland is poised to choose its entry for this year's Eurovision Song Contest on 23 February and already the Irish are in a bit of flap about the possibility of being represented by a turkey (both the song and the singer).

One of the finalists is Dustin the turkey, a puppet, with his song "Irlande douze points."

Terry Wogan's wig, Bono and an apology for Riverdance are all mentioned in the lyrics.

It seems the Irish are taking their failure last year quite seriously and have changed the rules and regs about how their song gets chosen (I hope the BBC is taking note).

The turkey could be an interesting choice. Ireland has never gone for humour before, and it could be that the comic approach might be the only way for western Europe to break the Baltic bloc vote.

On the other hand, Eurovision gets enough flak for its songs being turkeys, so is it really wise to flaunt this with a poor song from, in fact, a turkey?!!

This year's Eurovision Song Contest is on 24 May in Belgrade, Serbia. The semi-finals are 20 and 22 May. Ireland has to qualify in the semis; UK goes through automatically (which is a relief) as we provide most of the funding for the damn thing, along with Germany, Spain and France. Serbia also go through to the final without needing to qualify, as reigning champions.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Facebook - so over?

I said in passing to my partner's 20 year old son at the weekend: "Facebook is so over." He didn't disagree but looked as me as if I was some respected Internet sage.

This must be how rumours start. Who knows, my little comment could now be running amok with a momentum all of its own.

Only last weekend, the Sunday Times wrote a lengthy article about the Facebook phenomenon. Half the UK population has a Facebook account. Its growth is staggering. But, lately, a couple of things are starting to niggle. The fun little applets, which are a great part of Facebook's appeal, now insist that you tell 20 friends before you get the results to see how British you are, what colour you are, etc. So most of us don't bother. It's little niggles like this that will start to turn people away.

Another issue is the growing prevalence of the corporate sponsor and what they're going to do with the rich harvest of data available to them. Initially, Facebook's attraction was that it seemed pure and untainted. But, having assembled this vast database of user sociological data, Facebook is now looking at how it can cash in. Themed ads (contextual ads) have started appearing and corporates are finding ways to engage with consumers, rather than talking at them, with various challenges and quizzes. This is good web practice, but it won't be long before darker and less desirable ways of using our data come to our attention.

Because I'm in marketing, I've been on most of the social networking sites for a while now, having joined in the early days so I could see how it developed. I don't bother with MySpace now - it seems very targeted at teenagers and mostly music focused. Linked In is showing signs of wear: unless it finds some more interesting ways to interact, it will go the same way as Friends Reunited. Bebo seems to be a mainly British phenomenon, and mostly among school kids and teenagers. Bebo has already developed a lot of sinister undercurrents: not the prevalence of paedophiles, as parents often fear, but the growing trend of online bullying. Some towns have even seen spates of suicide among school children which have been firmly linked to Bebo.

As the Sunday Times concluded, we're all waiting to see what's next "after Facebook." I'd like to see a more grown-up version. Facebook was originally aimed at US college kids, and it still seems quite juvenile with all the "poke me" nonsense. I like the bookshelf, film and music sections but lately these have become very flakey to use with constant error messages.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm back!

It didn't take much, did it? Three begging emails, and I'm back on line.
Three things in mind.
1) The deteriorating standards in London hotels.
This week I stayed a night in the Marriott Marble Arch (£200). Why it is called "Marble Arch" I know not, as it is tucked away some distance from said Arch, and confusingly, there is another Marriott directly at Marble Arch. The hotel is being renovated, and needs it. For £200, I had a tiny bathroom with an enamel-scuffed bath, and the water was scarcely hot enough for a shower, let alone a bath. This is so frustrating, because last week I stayed in the Royal Lancaster Hotel at Lancaster Gate and again the water was not hot enough for a bath. Is this some sinister plot to stop guests from bathing and using too much hot water?

I also rue the fact that hotels seem to have stopped using plastic bin liners. The Hilton and Marriott chains certainly have. I don't believe it's on environmental grounds. Purely cost grounds. I find it unhygienic, and undesirable. I squirm at having to drop a used tea bag into a bin. It must take longer to clean, and time adds up to money.

2) Benares Restaurant, Berkeley Square, Mayfair
Last night I went back to Benares (home of "celebrity chef" Atil Kochhar)and had a very pleasant evening. I think I may have been a bit churlish in my original review a few months ago when I said the service was over solicitous. Last night the service was great, not over solicitous in the least. And the food, as it was before, was delicious.

3) Year of the Rat

I am a Rat and my time has come. Apparently it's the Chinese Year of the Rat. I don't know what this means to me or other Rats. Hopefully it means I will win the Lotto so I can finally get my architect designed house in Epping (near Rod Stewart's, perhaps), my bolt hole in Kingsand, Cornwall, and the services of a personal trainer three times a week.

It seems that I have poorly served by Chinese astrology, because according to the definition of Rats in Wikipedia, I should probably be a millionaire in my own right. Rats are "charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking. Rat people are endowed with great leadership skills and are the most highly organized, meticulous, and systematic of the twelve signs. Intelligent and cunning at the same time, rats are highly ambitious and strong-willed people who are keen and unapologetic promoters of their own agendas, which often include money and power." Coo. My colours are black, red and white and my foods pork, cabbage and peas (not sure about cabbage).

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Dear blog: you are boring me

Dear Curious Girl blog
I'm afraid to say that you and I am no longer mutually compatible. You are starting to bore me. I seem to come over all disgusted of Tunbridge Wells whenever I start writing, leading someone to ask recently "do you still write that right-wing ranting blog?" I was shocked, because right wing is something I am not.

Looking at the blog traffic on Site Meter and Icerocket, I mainly get hits from people looking for chef / broadcaster John Torode, Elizabeth Hurley's jaw dropping wedding or Carol McGiffin "with no clothes on" (really!) I can count on a handful of faithful readers, Lucy and Mark T and a Methodist minister among them.

The only time this blog really rocks is when I'm covering the Eurovision Song Contest and Strictly Come Dancing.

So, dear blog, I think I will put you into hibernation and only wake you up when it's time for those particular topics. (Not long now for Eurovision - the UK will soon be making its usual hash of choosing the UK entry!).

Meanwhile, I'm putting a lot of more energy into my crafting blog, where the traffic is growing nicely, and my secret girlie blog which I don't promote (if you don't know the URL, I'm not telling you so it'll test your web search powers!).

See you in Serbia if not before, groovers!
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