Saturday 11 August 2012

Is it naff?

To have had this picture taken when we were in the Olympic Park last week?

Or this one?

Or even this one?

We love 'em!


I remember the day we won the Olympics with total clarity.  I always thought it was a good thing.  I always thought we would make a success of it.  It made me feel good.  Even then I was excited by the prospect of the Olympics coming to London...and I felt sure I would have a part to play, although I couldn't at that time guess what part.

When it was announced there were crowds in Trafalgar Square, and the media was there in droves to capture the moment.  There was one picture that caught my eye, and I decided to do something with it.  I blew it up massively (50 x 70cm), and then used photoshop to pixelate it.  I then printed it out section by section on A4 sheets before piecing it all together and framing it.  I was very pleased with it, and since that day it has hung on the bedroom wall...all those years

You can imagine how spooky it was to arrive in Brighton this weekend to find this:

The picture had fallen off the wall and the glass had smashed into a thousand or more pieces.  Right in the middle of the Olympics.  After seven years, for no apparent reason it was just sitting there on the floor.  The picture itself is badly damaged.

I've tried to work out if this could be anything more than just bizarre coincidence.  It can't be.  I've had a brilliant Olympic Games...far better than I could ever have imagined.  Opening Ceremony aside, we managed an evening watching, among others Usain Bolt at the Stadium, other nights we've been glued to the BBC coverage, and on Sunday The Boy and I are off to Hadleigh to watch what must be the last Olympic sporting event...the mountain biking.  As the kids say, "Truly Awesome!"

But for a moment, just for a moment the sight of that picture smashed on the floor mad eme think that something must have been wrong.  But there isn' memories of the Olympics will go on and on and on.  Still it is a very spooky coincidence indeed.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Picture daily 77

It's just a glass of water

Passport to Pimlico

It's with amusing irony that contact with the Passport and Identity Service is one of the most de-humanising experiences I've had.  Take for instance:

I ring the telephone number to book an appointment.  The message comes up that the service is busy and if I press 2 they will call me back.  I press 2, I get the message that I am ringing out of hours and must call back later.  I was ringing at 11.00 in the morning.  I ring back and hold on and hold on and hold on until I am told that I am being transferred to the call back service.  I get the message that "This service is not available" before the line goes dead.  I repeat the process several times.  In fact a lot of times.  Eventually, some hours and many coffees later, I get through.

"Hello I'd like to book a Premium Service 4 hour passport appointment"

"We've no appointments for two and a half weeks"

"Well in that case, you're not really offering a premium service are you...I could send off for one in that sort of timescale.  You seem to be under-resourced"

"No if you send off it will be three weeks.  We are not under-resourced.  It's a matter of time availability"

"Well. do you understand that if you recruit another person, that's another 8 hours a day you can use to process applications. If you add two people, that's sixteen hours.  Can you see that if you add resources, you can process more?"

"It's not a resource problem.  We're busy.  This is a busy time of year."

If you've ever been to the Passport Office in Pimlico you are confronted by a building that no matter how you tried, you could not select a more inappropriate building.  Firstly, do not arrive early as you will be turned away...don't argue with the security guards, they are worse than the bouncers at Tiffany's Night Club.

When you get in they have managed to squeeze a security scanner,    reception desk and a queue of about one hundred people into a space the size of our downstairs toilet.  Once through, you must go up to the second floor clutching your number tightly in your sweaty hand.  I'm a number not a name evidently.  Not in the lift as a burly guard protects it from anyone foolish enough to want to save their legs.  Once on the second floor there is a waiting area.  There is one seat that is placed to allow you to see the electronic sign which lets you know when your number has been called.  Everyone else has to keep jumping up to check.  Your 10.45 appointment will roll around at about 10.45.  However you are not allowed to wait, from out the back because from out the back comes a fearsome lady and her henchman who will call a series of numbers.  Dutifully the people who hold these numbers stand up and are told to line up against the wall for ten to fifteen minutes before another disembodied voice calls them to a counter.  Once there, the clerk doesn't look at the applicant in the eye once...a brief glance just to check the photo bears more than a passing resemblance to the person standing in front of them.  Your form is stamped and you are then sent to stand in another queue to pay.  In a row of more than a dozen counters, just one is occupied by a cashier.

And as you leave, you can glance to your right and catch this sight:

The Passport and Identity Service is indeed "Out of Order"

Tuesday 7 August 2012

On the Fringe

It's hardly surprising after all the terrible things I've said about the Scots and Scotland that just as we departed for the wee Bonnie lands I went down with a heavy cold which got worse and worse the longer we stayed north of Hadrian's Wall.  A heaving cough even allowed the tour guide at Mary King's Close to remark that the plague seemed to have returned after an absence of 350 years.

Visiting the underground slums of Edinburgh had not been the main focus of our visit, of course.  We were up there to see The Cat and The Boy do their stuff on a public stage.  We found the venue easily was buried deeply in Edinburgh's popular red light district.  A nice place to find your children, especially when they're in the care of teachers who still look as though they're at Primary school.  The performance was  superb...of course it was, and they played to a half-full house, which evidently is a real achievement when the Fringe's average audience is just 4, I'm told!  Anyway, we and they were pleased as punch.  I still can't get over how amazing it is for them...I hope it's an experience they will treasure for ever...I'm sure they will.

We took the opportunity to see a few other things as well...The Pajama Boys who were only half as good as when we last saw them, Marcus Brigstock's morning show which was topical and raised a few laughs, Shirley and Shirley who were just as funny as when we last saw them, Tim someone who tried to raise a laugh out of science theory (the others laughed, I sat there stony faced), Iszy, a bisexual comedienne who managed to spin 30 minutes material out to an hour, Bill Clinton The Musical which was very good indeed, although somewhat late to market and The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs after which neither I nor you should ever touch an Apple product.  I think there may have been some more, but it became a bit a a blur.

Not a purple penis..The Udderbelly

As for Edinburgh itself, I had forgotten just what a remarkable city it is.  Beautiful, grand, solid.  The Scots are very lucky to have it.  This was the first time I'd been there for 25 years and I'm sure it hadn't changed much, but I can't quite remember.

There were some odd moments

UP was harangued by a Scottish man when he tried to leave a lift ahead of the women, even though nobody else could move until he did

A very dour man moaned as we tried to get a photo of the cafe where JK Rowling penned some of Harry Potter...he scowled when we explained what we were doing and tried to tell us we were at the wrong cafe...Google was later to prove him wrong...I hope his young daughter on his shoulders is not infected by his miserableness....

We were delighted to spot the golden post box, painted in honour of Chris Hoy's cycling win, but generally and indeed genuinely perplexed by how disinterested the local population seemed to be in the Olympics even when their local heroes were picking up medals.  Not a smile, not even a slight cheer, not a jump of enthusiasm.  Bizarre, really bizarre.

At least when we were in a somewhat sophisticated restaurant during Super Saturday nobody asked us to be quiet as Britain picked up one medal after another

So we're back..The Cat and The Boy will return at the end of the week.  In the meantime, this morning I managed to get tickets for the Stadium tomorrow night...we can't wait!

Picture Daily 76

I've written a proper post...honest I have, it's just that the pictures for that are all at home....expect it to appear around eight or nine tonight.  In the meantime here's a's The Boy, he's magnifique!