Friday 23 April 2010

My Downfall

If you watched the film Downfall, it may have been because you watched the parodies which have popped up on You Tube. There's been a veritable avalanche of them...and the boy and I have been watching them for favourite remains the Michael Jackson one..his, one about being given the wrong motorcycle.

But no more, as the film makers are having them all removed. So this may be the last opportunity for you to watch:

I love the last line.

How sad when they are all gone.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Grown up

April 1st was an important day for me. I passed from young and ambitious, to old and settled. The cause of this was not a birthday, but it was indeed an anniversary...and it brought a present with it.

It turns out, as I discovered by letter sometime in early March, that 25 years ago I took out a mortgage; my first mortgage. And this was in the days of endowment mortgages. And whilst the first flat is long gone, the endowment has been hanging around gathering cobwebs in the dusty cupboards. Like all those investments we were sold at the time, I was promised a very handsome return on my investment, and unfortunately, as we now know, I'm not a banker and my reward is less than it should be. I'd like to say that my endowment is smaller than it should be, but I realise that will only get Auntie Gwen tittering. She's like that.

My first flat was in Brighton. Hove Actually. And was typical of the local architecture - bow fronted, with a balcony. Beautiful. It had just been modernised, so I had central heating. But like most of the properties in Brighton and Hove it had been refurbished by the sort of builder that might otherwise be described as a cowboy. I was quite lucky - my biggest problems were radiators that would develop little holes, showering the room with water of various temperatures. If I'd wanted a fountain, I'd have asked for it. Whenever my upstairs neighbour flushed her loo, it filled with hot water. Within six months, my neighbour at the back of the building had all her tiles fall off the bathroom wall. And there were other horrors in every flat.

And like the rest of Hove, the residents were a little eccentric. The somewhat secretive man on the top floor disappeared in his rusting Porsche one day, never to be seen again. The flat had been abandoned, and his creditors when they reclaimed the flat, had to call in the council because he had kept a pet owl which flew around depositing whatever owls deposit all over everything.

Still it was a nice flat, with fifteen foot high ceilings. And it was mine. I felt proper grown up, when on my first morning I placed an order with the milk man for a pint a day. Only grown ups did that.

The endowment is now safely deposited in my bank. It wouldn't buy a flat these days. It wouldn't buy a room even. Some will go to paying off debts. And some will go to new flooring in the Brighton flat that I bought when I sold this one.

But it feels as though this was a significant moment. The sort of thing that only real grown ups have.

Copyright note: these are not my pictures and the copyright of the owners is acknowledged

Wednesday 21 April 2010

The brand issue

I've always made it a principle not to use the blog for any PR or's for my pleasure and not for anyone's commercial gain. But that hasn't stopped me being inundated by offers from PRs. The e-mails usually go..."I've been reading your blog, it's really interesting and I was wondering if you'd like to write about blah blahs product". Usually, blah, blah's product is something for a two year old or for a girl or something that is otherwise completely irrelevant. So they get ignored. As a PR myself it's brought home to me the horror of how bad my profession is at what it does.

However, this week, I received a missive from a PR who had actually read the blog, and got the targeting spot on:

As a Dad, you may not get the chance to become a Nana one day - but you certainly might be a Papa and can appreciate the affection the UK public have for their nans nationwide. And with your son's nan being in Cyprus, I'm sure he'd love a way to show how much he cares. As such, I am emailing you to tell you about a campaign I'm currently working on with Shreddies that gives people the chance to honour their nanas by asking the question - Does your nana have what it takes to get the position of best Nana Job in the World!

The Shreddies campaign, which was launched on Facebook last week, will see the UK's best nana knitter win the opportunity to be the Official On-Packet Knitting Nana for Shreddies. Full details of the campaign can be found on facebook. You can also see more about how nanas make Shreddies and spend their time in the factory at the interactive, video, game and fact-filled site at

The current frontrunner for the job is Madge Waken from Stevenage, Hertforshire who has already generated over 1,300 votes. We'd love some more entries from Scotland and there is plenty of time to drum up support.

I have attached the release below for your information. If you have any questions or need video links or photography for use in the blog, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Ryan Levitt seems fun to me. I might even nominate Grandma in Cyprus...although she gave up knitting a while ago....I used to get some spectacular the meantime, I'm going to go and get a box of Shreddies for tomorrows breakfast.

And on a different note altogether, the boy got a new mobile phone this week...his last one had an enormous crack on the screen and was looking decidedly the worse for wear. As mobiles are just about the most important accessory a teen can have, I couldn't face the thought of the tears and tantrums if it died altogether. Many of his friends have iphones...which seems a ridiculous extravagance to me - but that's Essex for you. He was given a Samsung B2110. The box has a mountain biker picture on it, and it can be dropped into water. In fact it can be dropped onto concrete. It is a tough phone. It has a torch. And an SOS function which will text four of your nearest and dearest if you're in trouble. But, as we now have discovered, it has one function that all phones should have. It has alarms to remind you if you are a Muslim, Christian, Sikh, or Hindu to pray. The Muslim one goes off five times a day. Each alarm has a ringtone that to my ignorant mind sounds exactly as it should and is accompanied by an image of your favoured deity.

May the Lord be praised.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Did you pack the bag yourself?

I'm sorry. I'd like to apologise to my fellow Russian travellers. But as they say, "Sorry is as sorry does" I've never known what that means....

Ideally I'd like to pass quickly over my scheduling challenges and move on, but selfishly, Kellogsville chose to ask the question in her comment on my Russian post....did we manage to get back and deliver the boy 'oop north' OK...

Apology no1: I didn't mean to padlock my suitcase shut for you to carry through customs at the airport. Two security checks. Wasn't it lucky that those Russian security people chose to open someone else in our party's luggage, and not my suitcase?

Apology no2: I didn't know that BA would only allow each person to have one piece of hold luggage. I thought that was Ryanair. I'm so glad you could take our bags through as cabin luggage. I do realise that means the boy and I could have brought it with us.

Enough of the damned apologies...I'm sure you didn't mean it when you said that I could never travel with you again. And I'm hoping the comment that I'm a drug runner using you as mules was made in jest....wasn't it?

Remarkably, our flight left bang on time, and with a following wind we arrived half an hour early. With no luggage to collect we sailed through formalities, caught the Paddington Express, and with only a small delay on the new and improved Circle line arrived early enough at Euston to put the the boy on a train an hour earlier than expected, meaning an nine-thirty arrival time.

I don't in any way resent having to pay an excess on the train which was more than double the original fare. humph.

And naturally, I was not in anyway panicked by not being able to get hold of the teacher who was going to pick the boy up from the station at the far end. Until just a couple of minutes before he arrived. That was three hours of calling without a response. humph