Monthly Archives: July 2011

Don’t answer the phone! It might be school calling…

Do you get calls from school like this?

SCHOOL: Is it ok for your son to hold a duck egg, while wearing gloves?

I’ve lived in shared houses where the phone only received calls – a precaution by the landlord to prevent large bills being run up. Sometimes I wish my own home phone only made outgoing calls and couldn’t receive them. It would mean the end of phone spam, courtesy calls, “we’re doing a survey in your area” and… calls from the children’s school.

I’m not talking about the call every parent dreads – serious accident or injury or worse. I’m talking about the call every parent resents – the call that masquerades as serious. This phone call came just after a school trip, before the parent’s son had reached home.

TEACHER: Mrs Morrow, this is Mr E, I have some very grave news about your son.
MUM (panicking): What? What? Is he ok?
TEACHER: Oh yes, but on the school trip at the weekend I lent him 50p and he has not as yet paid me back.
MUM (trying to recover heart rate): Oh you stupid man. <hangs up>

It seems like life or death summons. The truth is teasingly delayed until you race to the rescue. Like with the mother who was told over the phone that her child was “doing as well as can be expected” after being hit in the face with a brick Continue reading

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Filed under In the village, life

What you need to guest blog: Sex, drugs and Steve McQueen

Forget Eldorado, the Grail, the Philosopher’s Stone or the fabled elixir of eternal youth – I’ve discovered something far more sought after.

The recipe for guest blogging.

You can see for yourself here on the People Per Hour blog. Hurrah. They asked me to write for them. So I did. The post is called Why you need to be more like Steve McQueen. (There are a couple of photos too. I’m in one. The good one features Steve McQueen.)

It turns out the secret is simple Continue reading

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Filed under Guest Posts, My Writing

Best bookshop in the world? Best one afloat anyway.

The Book Barge - pic from the Guardian

It is hard for me to dislike any bookshop. If it stocks books, that’s usually good enough for me.

But some establishments rise far above the rest. It could be because of their ambiance or their range of stock. Maybe it’s the expertise or hospitality of the staff. Or perhaps it’s just the comfy seats. Or something else entirely.

This one – The Book Barge – is extra special.

It has books. And it’s on a barge. Floating. From place to place along the English canal network Continue reading

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Filed under art, life

Plummy voice is here

My voice as fictional characters.

Air hair lair, it’s old Plummy Voice here.

Something  bizarre and almost unbelievable has happened. Something odder than Rupert Murdoch giving us “the facts Ma’am, just the facts.” Something hitherto thought less likely than Ireland winning the World Cup – the football World Cup that is – not something easy like rugby or cricket. Something even more unusual than an honest politician Continue reading

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Filed under blogs, friends, life

Starring Colin Firth as Hugh Grant…

Starring Colin Firth as Hugh Grant, and Mr Bean as...

How’s this for super quick reaction? Hackgate: The Movie.

It’s here. Well – the trailer is anyway. And what a star-studded cast. Colin Firth plays Hugh Grant. Hugh Grant plays… someone else. I forget. Watch the trailer to find out.

There’s an inspired (or too obvious?) casting for the role of Rebekah Brooks. But Ed Miliband and David Cameron – perfect casting choices. (No, I’m not telling you. Watch the Continue reading

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Filed under Film, media, politics

Zero waste shopping – saving the planet or wasting your time?

Our shopping habits are changing. Or changing back.

In the past you could put in an order and a butcher’s boy would turn up with sausages in the basket of his delivery bike. Then that died out and we all had to go to the shop. Now we can order online and get it delivered once again. Full circle.

Not all the “progress” has been for the better. Just ask Grandad in the picture. (Click on the photo to make the text bigger.)

Packaging is another one. It galls me to see bananas wrapped in plastic – or any fruit which already comes in its own natural wrapper.

But we’re lazy and squeamish and alienated from the reality of food. The very thought of having to wash mud off a potato… or the idea that a pig had to die to make that sausage… puh-lease! Let’s not dwell on the seamy side of life.

Some places – like Ireland – have made significant progress in reducing pointless packaging – plastic bags in particular. Environmental legislation and charges made the difference there. But it’s more fashionable these days to nudge people towards different behaviour, rather than compel them… to provide attractive alternatives.

So what about a shop encourages you to bring your own reusable packaging/containers/boxes/bags/jars? Could it catch on?

And guess what? It’s not launching in Vermont or California – but Continue reading

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Filed under life

Katy Perry the new Hitler?

Not with that moustache Katy. You've got the uniform down though.

Is Katy Perry the new Hitler?

Maybe I should rephrase that. As you may know, we got famously the last time we met, nose to nose, popstrel to kangaroo. What I should have asked is this: Is Katy Perry’s Hot n Cold the new Downfall? Continue reading

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Filed under Music, politics

Phone hacking scandal: Who knew? Loads of us.

Can there any longer be any doubt that News International is a force of evil in the world? (This wasn’t my scheduled subject, but “events dear boy, events.”)

There are all sorts of pictures of perps and victims I could have used to illustrate this - but here's the Murdoch monkey at the top of the tree - the spider at the centre of the web. Unfortunately the bad smell does not come solely from him. There's a strong whiff very much closer to home.

They’re the reason I receive text messages like this:

Hi, I am unable to answer my phone at the moment but if you leave me a message, the News of the World will email it to me later.

 But the appalling behaviour of some journalists is not the most shocking part. What’s really scary is that the omertà of Britain’s press and politicians on phone-hacking amounts to complicity in crime Continue reading

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Filed under media, politics

And the Word was made flesh (and charming with it)…

On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. Wasn’t there a cartoon to that effect? (Oh yes. There it is.)

Same with internet dating. That six foot blond Viking type you met online may have been literally telling the truth. You only get to see that he’s also six feet wide when you meet face to face. Which is when you also notice that he smells like a Viking who hasn’t washed since they used to rule England. (True, happened to a mate of mate.)

Speaking of smelly Vikings – did you know they used week-old horse wee to kill bugs in their hair? Couldn’t afford combs. It was the amonia in the aged equine urine that turned their hair blonde. Does that make you feel differently about ABBA?

But the main point is this – how can you be sure that anything or anyone on the net is who they say they are?

Or if they even exist at all?

Well, I can now officially confirm that Padmum does exist.

Remember I asked if anyone wanted to come to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy with me. Padmum – or Padmini as I now call her – immediately put her hand up.

And she came. All the way from Chennai in India. Chennai! In India! With her daughter Nitila. That’s them in the picture. In the flesh Continue reading

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Filed under blogs, friends, life