Friday 12 August 2011


On a very positive note indeed, the results are in, and I don't have to worry about tests were perfectly normal. May be it really is because the shock that I might be a sufferer made me stop my marshmallow binge. But whatever, it's quite a relief. I have modified my diet, am doing more exercise and hopefully that will relieve me of the higher levels of cholesterol too.

Did you know, or even care, that the battle for the pound in your pocket is being fought by tech giants not through clever marketing, or even fabulous products, but through the law courts? If you could be bothered to spend more than five minutes looking at places like Engadget, Gizmodo or TechRadar (as I do), you'd know that just about all the tech giants such as Apple, Nokia, Samsung and a good deal of other you would never have heard of are busy suing each other for patent infringement. The latest round has seen Apple use he courts to effectively ban a new product from Samsung that would by all accounts knock spots off the iPad. I've no idea about the ins and outs, but I certainly think it's a very sad day when the lawyers start creaming it in when we should all be able to choose what we buy and what we don't. It doesn't bode well for the future. If you're interested, there's more here.

It's hardly a surprise outcome of Carol Vorderman's study into maths education that she recommends that all pupils should study it until the age of 18. Evidently, too many are unable to work out how much change they get from a £50 note after buying a spliff and two hits of crack cocaine. Or how much they should be getting for flogging new trainers down the pub on a Saturday night. News paper reports barely mention the problem is that kids are not able to do even basic maths at the age of sixteen, although they're already being taught trigonometry. Simply requiring schools to teach maths until kids are eighteen sadly misses the point completely. They just need to be taught until they grasp the essentials of maths which get them through life in a modern world. I'd certainly hate to see The Kat and The Boy burdened with an extra two years of maths which they both loathe with a passion, when they have the maths skills they need already.

Equally unsurprisingly, there has been a complete lack of leadership in the UK over the last week or two. I've already mentioned that the government's comment that the downgrading of the US credit rating vindicates our own economic policy. Now David Cameron has come out with the comment that over the last few days, the police "Got riots wrong". I'm not sure of the full context, but that doesn't matter. As a former PR man, he should know and understand the sound-bites the media are looking for....and got in this case. In the face of a very fluid situation, completely outnumbered the police did a remarkable job. But Cameron's comment today follows on from his earlier statements which could have been made by any Daily Mail reader after their morning tea. What we need and want is a Prime Minister who will stand up and set out a vision for the future not make knee-jerk reactionary comments which just fuel the problem. At this time we don't need another middle-management politician, but some one who can make the leap and make the changes the country needs for the better.

If you've got this far, you're doing well.

This week, The Boy has been doing work experience, at one of my clients. That's enough to make anyone nervous, but it seems to be going well. Today he's sitting in a workshop with a rail company, looking at human factors and ergonomics....don't ask! So if your train is late or uncomfortable you know who to blame. Meanwhile,The Cat is pursuing her interests having been selected against fierce competition for a two week course with The National Youth Theatre. If you happen to be passing the National on Saturday at about four-ish, do pop along and give her a bit of encouragement...she deserves it.

In the meantime, here is my list of riot-inspired is always good at a time of upheaval I find! I had another list but lost it, so have cobbled this together at short notice, so chip in if you have any additions:

Muse - Uprising
The Who - My Generation
Manic Street Preachers - If you tolerate this

10cc- Rubber Bullets

Rage Against The MAchine - Killing in the name

Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the UK

Elton John - Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting

The Prodigy - Firestarter

The Clash - London's Burning

The Smiths - Panic

And finally (of course)

Kaiser Chiefs - I predict a riot

Thursday 11 August 2011


I've not been very good at participating in Tara's gallery recently, but I thought I would this week. I'm a day late, as we were at a funeral yesterday.

This is a series of pictures I call The Swimmer - of course it's The Boy, swimming in Grandma in Cyprus' pool late one evening the first time we had both been there together. There's a slightly eerie, atmospheric feel to the pictures. The pool was the best way to cool off, and a really great thing to have in such sunny climes and Grandma in Cyprus swims regularly to keep fit. The dragonflies like to sunbathe beside it, and the pool has been known to overflow when it rains too much. Cyprus has been going through a drought, but the desalination plants make all the difference now.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

The end of the world as we know it

Wow what an evening that was. Absolutely incredible. Terrible. Never seen anything like it....well not since the Brixton riots of the Thatcher years. I guess it couldn't have come at a worse time, but then equally I guess, the rising temperature of the summer hasn't helped.

I'd been saying to The Cat's Mother that things were getting overheated, and if we weren't careful we'd get burned.

And sure enough that was the case. Things went into melt down last night didn't they?

We were lucky, I guess, that we caught it early on, but there'll be some clearing up to do, that's for sure. We worked late into the night trying to sort things out. I didn't realise it would be so difficult, nor did The Cat's Mother.

You'd have thought that where we lived, we'd have been immune from problems. But I guess even the middle classes can't cosset themselves away from the troubles of a modern world.

We didn't realise there was a problem until we opened the door, but then it was obvious. Mess everywhere. I slammed the door as quick as I could, hoping that would help chill things off. But really when these things happen, you know there's nothing to be done.

Except buy a new freezer.

Yes, typically our freezer died yesterday, leaving the thing full of defrosted ice cream, pizzas, meats and heaven only knows what else. Not that finding a new one was as easy as we were expecting - we have an American-style one, and I guess like all things American they have got bigger in the last eight years. And have you tried to get a white one? We did manage it eventually, after a couple of hours of trawling the internet. Of the 54 American-style fridge-freezers offered by Appliances Online, only one fitted the bill, or would fit through the door. It'll be delivered on Thursday.

Meanwhile, I can report that the very thick clouds of smoke which deposited ash all over our cars this morning, were simply the result of a barn fire. Epping Forest is not really that prone to inner-city rioting, although in Buckhurst Hill a designer dress shop was broken into. Setting fire to the place would have been may have melted their spray on tans.

I'm still trying to quite understand the man I overheard on his mobile as I cycled home along the canal, skirting round the Hackney and Bethnal Green trouble spots. "Yeah, they're laying a gun on him" I heard. I don't want to think about it....we've enough problems as it is.

Monday 8 August 2011

A fat poof in a dress for Sunday lunch*

We can probably all be grateful this morning that it's a pretty lousy summer this year. Cold, damp weather is the best weapon the police have for managing riots, and we've had both in abundance. If you've ever been up to Tottenham, you'll know it's not somewhere you'd want a Sunday picnic. There's an undercurrent of crime just waiting to bubble up to the surface, and this weekend it came. I'm not going to point the finger of blame, nor am I really well placed to analyse the causes, but it's probably fair to say that where there's poverty and inequality there's crime. It's hardly surprising to see the list of other areas that saw copycat rioting and looting.

Some would say, that we are suffering from a lack of leadership...with inner-city districts being being engulfed in flames and shops emptied in the ensuing chaos, and with the world's global markets in melt down. I don't begrudge politicians their holidays, but really sometimes what is needed is for one of our elected leaders to stand up and be counted, rather than continue sipping their cappuccinos in Tuscany. If the markets continue in the direction they're heading we're all in hot water. It was hardly the most statesman like comment to be made that the downgrading of the US credit rating was 'vindication of the UK's approach'.

It was a very happpy moment when The Boy returned from his travels and gave us all a big hug. Despite listening to him for most of Saturday, and seeing his 365 photos (he caught the habit from me I think), I suspect we're still waiting to get the juiciest stories. Over half the touring group went down with tummy bugs of one sort or another, there was heat, there was humidity, there were injuries (but not to The Boy), but there was most of all camaraderie, and the opportunity to do some coaching with Tamils in Sri was this that I think was the highlight for The Boy. He seemed genuinely moved and proud that they could give something back to one of their host countries. He did very well himself, captaining the seconds team twice and playing for the firsts for the first time...and winning an award for 'most improved player'. He won a second award too - for most peculiar purchase: a fake Louis Vuitton suitcase for The Cat's Mother. None of us were short of gifts, including more fake LV goodies, Oakley sunglasses, Hard Rock T-shirts, Armani tie and cufflinks...and so on!

Not surprisingly, he was exhausted after his very long travels, so it was an early night for him on Saturday.

Sunday saw The Cats Mother and I out at a friends 60th birthday celebration lunch. As you would expect, the hall was decked out in fuscia pink feather boas. Amongst the people there was a lad who had appeared on The Apprentice...he seemed a really nice lad, and someone else who had been a guest at Amy Winehouse's funeral, but I'm not sure that counts as mixing with celebrities. The surprise entertainment was indeed 'A fat poof in a dress' (*that was his/her description of himself rather than any comment made by me). Our drag queen provided the perfect entertainment by crooning some great show tunes. It may not be our usual Sunday lunchtime, but was absolutely great entertainment. And some real light relief whilst we're in choppy waters.