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

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More nonsense about coffee

One gripe I would happily bring to the "Grumpy" TV programme is "spurious health research and lazy journalists."

We're constantly given contradictory information about the health benefits, or otherwise, of cofee, tea and chocolate, to name just three.

Quite often the research is based on too small a sample to ever be viable, yet it commands big headlines. If journalists weren't quite so lazy, being constantly spoon fed everything and rarely finding their own stories, they might deign to Google a few stories and weigh up the true worth of what the press releaase is telling them.

Today we're told that a woman who drinks four cups of coffee (or more) a day is a fifth less likely to become depressed . Those who drink two or three reduce their risk by 15%.

The research, by Harvard Umiversity, looked at 51,000 women over 10 years. It's a good solid sample size over a decent research period.

But we're also old that "too much" coffee can raise blood pressure and increase the heart rate. I would never drink four cups or more a day. There was a time when I did, and it made me either nauseous or jittery.  Four cups or more sounds excessive. I'm surprised the researchers didn't look at the trade off between reduced levels of depression and increased blood pressure. I suspect they probably did, but preferred to major on the positive outcome of their research rather than consider 10 years and goodness' knows how much money wasted.

Friday, September 23, 2011

In France

We enjoyed a fabulous long weekend in France, staying with J's sister Kate, a photographer who lives in the hills of Cabris, about 40 minutes' drive from Nice.

We combined some sight-seeing with sunbathing by the pool. It's a very beautiful part of the world and I loved the medieval town of Tourettes-sur-Loup, close to Grasse and famous for its violets.


Me - in Nice

Kate grooms Teddy

Ladies enjoying the promenade in Nice

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Up it goes

We have had builders here for the last three weeks (it seems longer). We are finally replacing the wooden lean-to ("sun room" as it was described in the estate agent's particulars) that has been here for around 35 years.

It's being replaced with a much larger conservatory that we will use as our new home office. Here's a pictorial record of the work so far: 

The lean-to as it was (you could never call it a conservatory!)

It leaked like a sieve and even had a few plants growing through the walls


The walls go up

Poor old J emerges from the foundations of the house, covered in dust, after sorting out some cables
Taking shape!

Structure now finished!

Plastering is underway
We're nearly seeing light at the end of the tunnel. A load of rubbish in the garden was removed today; the plasterers are hard at work and will complete the floor by Monday. Hopefully the tiles we are buying tomorrow will be laid early next week so that I can resume washing machine operations. We then need to paint the walls and wood, buy a new desk and cabinet to house the printer (in white) and complete the lighting. Then we are finally finished, and I will be able to relocate my craft den to what was formerly the office, upstairs. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Celebrating the banality of 1976 Top of the Pops

A highlight of the week is BBC 4's faithful serialising of Top of the Pops from 1976.
1976 was before punk, when banality and mediocrity reigned. The show was at the height of its powers and presented by a series of Radio 1 DJs: Jimmy Savile, Dave Lee Travis, Diddy David Hamilton. They seem really square now but were like rock gods back then.

The last show I saw featured 10,000 Volts performing Dr Kiss Kiss. "This stayed at number eight but two weeks running, but MUST go up, it's amazing," shouted the Hairy Monster. The lead singer could easily have been in her 40s, dressed in a floaty top and looking as if she'd just come back from Tesco.
Then there was the memorable "In Zaire" (?) and Twiggy proving why she never really took off as a singer. Steve Harley (Cockney Rebel) rampaged round the ramparts of a castle licking his lips in what he presumably thought was the height of sexiness.

Occasionally there's a gem among the dross. In this episode it was Abba and Dancing Queen. I remember the very first time I heard it, early on a Saturday, not long before we were setting off for a caravan holiday in Hayle. I shouted up the stairs to my Mum, "It's the new one from Abba, it's really good!" Although strictly speaking, I didn't give Abba the time of the day, being a David Bowie fan. The Number One spot was held by Elton John and Kiki Dee for what seemed like weeks with "Don't go breaking my heart."

Another highlight of the show for me is looking at what the audience is wearing, and their hairstyles. In 1976 the hairstyles de jour were a) a feather cut or mullet, and b) a strange bob with flicked up ends. I favoured (a).  The height of fashion was a short sleeved flowery dress, worn slightly below the knee, with a shirred / ruched top. I know, I had one. We also sported a knee-length denim skirt, not unlike the ones that Stella McCartney made fashionable last year, with a very demure pastel coloured short sleeved top. Wedge shoes were all the rage too athough you can't often see the feet of the dancing teens.

Ruby Flipper
What's also funny about this re-run of 1976 is that the ill-fated dance troupe Ruby Flipper (right) gets another stay in the sun. Flick Colby, the creator of their predecessors Pan's People, created Ruby Flipper when Pan's got the chop after nine years. The septet featured boys and girls.

We thrilled to their literal interpretations. Wings' seminal hit "Open the door and let 'em in" featured Ruby Flipper's dancers peering out from behind cardboard doors. No dancing at all, just pouting and gesturing to "come on in."

We probably didn't thrill because Ruby Flipper was axed in 1976 after just a few months and replaced by the all girl troupe Legs & Co. For their first three appearances they didn't even have a name, but listeners to Ed Stewart were asked to come up with one. Sadly, the TOTPs show where it was announced, in Nov 1976, no longer exists in the archive.

The BBC apparently lost most of its 70s transmissions of TOTPs except for 1976, which is a real shame. I hope they are more careful now with their archiving!

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