Friday 23 November 2012

Picture daily 127

Yesterday was a picture of Bluewater...the shopping centre for the likes of you and me; this is the stairwell at  posh people's supermarket Fortnum and Masons.  Lovely daaahling, luverly

Boney Mmmmmm

After the cataclysmic incident on Monday when The Spanish Girl arrived in the office on Monday in the same clothes as me...a bright blue cardigan and blue jeans, yesterday Gay George turned up wearing a pink jumper and black jeans...the same as me.  Something is going on here.  Actually the Spanish Girl isn't Spanish, and Gay George isn't gay (married with children).  It's just that we have completely politically incorrect nick-names for everyone here.  Is that wrong?  We don't think so...there's plenty of inappropriate banter around the office in this politically correct world.  But I do worry that we don't go too far...the question is always knowing when to stop.

Gay George's colleague, Gay John is not in today.  Last night he fell off a high roof whilst trying to recover a remote control helicopter that had gone off course.  You could ask what is a 36 year old man doing flying a remote control helicopter, and what was he doing climbing on a roof.  Well boys will be boys, and these days boys don't seem to become men until they're at least fifty five.  GG showed me a photo of the result - as horrific a picture as you'll see anywhere...his leg is broken and the bone was sticking out several inches.  Gross.  I will be all the more careful when i hop on my motorcycle home tonight.  A picture has been posted on Facebook, which I would reproduce here, but when I saw it, I felt sick for the next hour.

A side note on matters in the Middle-East.  I bet the Israelis wish they'd agreed a truce the day before yesterday - the psychological impact of a bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv would be quite severe, and globally gives the impression they were beat...assuming you accept that one Israeli life is worth thirty Palestinians.  In Syria, it looks as though smug Mr Hague is edging ever closer to sending in some sort of military support...probably the bombers, rather than the foot soldiers who are lambs to the slaughter.  It remains beyond me why we can't keep our noses out and let other countries sort their own problems out.

On TV, we started watching The Killing, having missed the first two series.  Those Scandawegians certainly know how to pull these programmes together, although whether we'll manage to stay the course I don't know...thank heavens for iPlayer.

Tomorrow The Cat's Mother heads off for her annual girls trip to the mid-west country.  They will enjoy spa treatments and Christmas shopping.  That should leave me at home with the teenagers.  But I think I'm going to escape to the seaside, and enjoy the Brighton flat to myself.  I'm not sure about the ethics of that, even though they're both more than capable of looking after themselves/killing each other

Thursday 22 November 2012

Picture daily 126

As I said...after Autumn comes winter, and the highlight of winter is, of course, Christmas (sorry).  Christmas decorations at Bluewater, the shopping centre

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Picture daily 125

Last of the Autumn series...we must be heading towards winter by now

A Public Service

I read with fascination this article on the BBC News website

Oxbridge dominates list of leading UK people

By Hannah RichardsonBBC News education reporter

Eton College educated 330 people on the elite list

Continue reading the main story
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A third of the UK's leading people went to Oxford or Cambridge universities and four out of every 10 of them attended private schools, a report suggests.

Ten top independent boys' schools alone produced 12% of the country's professional elite, it indicates.

The analysis of the backgrounds of nearly 8,000 people was carried out by charity the Sutton Trust.

Its chairman, Sir Peter Lampl, said private schools should be open to all on the basis of ability not finance.

The educational trust, helped by an Institute of London researcher, looked at the backgrounds of 7,637 people educated in UK secondary schools who featured in the birthday lists of national and Sunday newspapers in 2011.

Out of these, some 31% went to Oxford or Cambridge and another 20% went to another leader university.

Continue reading the main story
Eton College - 330
Winchester - 92
Charterhouse School - 74
Rugby School - 71
Westminster School - 69
Marlborough College - 65
Dulwich College - 58
Harrow School - 57
St Paul's Boys' School - 57
Wellington College - 56

Overall some 44% of those on the list went to independent school, 27% to grammar school, 8% to a former direct grant school and 21% to comprehensives and other state schools.

And Eton College alone educated 330 leading people on the list - some 4% of the nation's elite.

The profession most dominated by Oxford and Cambridge graduates was the diplomatic service at 62%, followed by the law at 58% and the top echelons of the civil service at 55%.

Nearly half of the UK's top literary figures went to Oxford or Cambridge (48%) and 47% of those in financial services or the City.

The list features actors such as Jeremy Irons, Daniel Day-Lewis and Kate Winslet, all of whom were privately educated.

Who's Who

And it features broadcasters such as Tony Blackburn, Rory Bremner, Jeremy Clarkson and Jonathan Dimbleby, again all former independent school pupils.

The analysis follows a series of reports the Sutton Trust has published on school and university backgrounds of those in leading professions, including national news journalists, judges and MPs.

A recent study indicated independent schools made up 7% of school population yet had produced most leading news journalists, medics, chief executives and 70% of barristers and judges.

For this latest study the school and university backgrounds of leading people were obtained using a number of publicly available sources such as Who's Who, personal websites and by contacting them directly.

There are some absurdities in it...and I should declare an interest that both The Cat and The Boy are privately educated.

The first thing that struck me was Sir Peter declaring that private schools should be open on the basis of ability, not finance.  Perhaps he has mis-understood what a private school is.  But also worth noting is that I went to a private school under the direct grant scheme.  That means the state paid for my education.  I went there on the basis of ability, not finance.  It was the Government, and a Labour one at that, which stopped access to private education for the less well-off.

The second thing is that two occupations dominated by Oxbridge are the diplomatic service and the top echelons of the civil service.  So it is the state which is more biased than any other in favour of Oxbridge. I wonder what that says...if Government and the Civil Service wanted to make a difference they could.  They have chosen not to.

I know the arguments about (private) education are much broader but let's not get bogged down here, eh?

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Tech stories

To be honest, I'm getting a bit fed up with this celebrity stalking thing. I mentioned a year or two back (wow...have I been tippy tapping for that long?) about how I "bumped into" Jeremy Clarkson in Zermatt, Switzerland only for him to "pop up" sitting behind me at the theatre in London.  Some wuld call that a remarkable coincidence.  Too remarkable for my liking if you ask me.  And now it is the turn of Rihanna.  First of all she gets herself involved in the Olympics by "performing", and then last night when I went to the Apple Store at Westfield in Stratford she is there "switching on the Christmas lights".  Again, some would say that is a coincidence too far...after all Christmas lights switching on is normally done by 'B' list or lower celebs.  I shall be contacting my lawyer later. Evidently things are not going well for her

My visit to the Apple Store is a sad tale.  The Boy was given an Apple laptop in January, but last week it died.  I booked into the 'Genius Bar' to get it fixed.  It started off well with a confident lad looking to get it sorted in a few minutes and gradually deteriorated as everything he tried failed.  The hard drive has to be replaced and everything on it is lost.  Photos and videos and everything.  Nothing backed up.  Let that e a lesson to everyone.

I've been conned by T-Mobile who have been my mobile provider of choice for the last several years....or perhaps I've been naive.  I decided that when my contract runs out I would move to GiffGaff until I was ready to take out a new contract with a shiny new phone.  It would be fair to say they were disingenuous at best...dissuading me from getting a pac code in October under threat of 'early termination' fees.  So I rang to get one a week before the end of my contract.  You have to give a month's notice I'm told.  So another month's fees for nothing.  I've noticed a change ever since they cozied up to Orange and the lovely friendly people I used to speak with before have all been replaced with operators who don't care, have no interest in the customer and lack any was partially this that made we want to leave. Originally I'd been due for a phone replacement in August, but mysteriously this suddenly became the end of October...they had no answer for that.   Ironically, I would most likely have signed up with them again next year, but now there's no way.  Their loss. I feel aggrieved.

Picture daily 124

Monday 19 November 2012

Nothin' happening here

We have a pretty busy life, so it comes as a blessed relief when we get a quiet weekend to ourselves.  This weekend we 'did nothing'.  This is what it consisted of:

Friday night - curry night with four friends

Saturday morning - up early to take The Boy to rugby; stay and watch the team lose 26-24

Saturday afternoon - off to Bluewater Shopping Centre returning at 11.00pm having exhausted wallets and energy.

Sunday morning - replaced light switch in bathroom, changed light bulb on landing by swinging out ofver the bannisters, fed the birds, went to Homebase

Sunday afternoon - off to Westfield...more Christmas shopping.

Sunday evening - massage followed by film

One day I hope that may read Friday night dozed in front of TV, Saturday got up at lunchtime watched a DVD, dozed, had dinner, went to bed.  Repeat Sunday.

Saturday I was up early because The Boy was playing rugby.  There are only three games left this term, and as he won't be on the field next weekend, this was his penultimate game.  I hope he takes it up at University, but if he doesn't then the next game will be his last.  There are a lot of 'last times' at the moment, and it makes me quite sad.  We're in quite a routine now for home games.  I drop him off early so they can have a practice and warm up, disappearing for breakfast at the local cafe before returning for kick-off.  Here was my breakfast, it may yet kill me

As you can see from the picture I was reading The Guardian, specifically the obituary of Fred Ridgeway. You may not have heard of him, and I only came across him once - he played a father in One Man Two Guvnors.  It was one of the funniest and best produced plays I have seen for many years.  It may have helped that it was partially set in Brighton with frequent references to Debden, which is just around the corner from where we live.  It was brilliantly clever, and a perfect way to enjoy an evening at the theatre.  What I hadn't realised was that Fred Ridgeway was suffering from Motor Neurone Disease, a terrible debilitating illness that has only one ending.  As his obituary says, he was so determined to play on that he employed an extra dresser to help him.  His obituary makes fascinating reading, because before he turned to the stage he was a successful banker who gave it all up to follow his passion.  Successful in two careers is something to be much admired.

Another great man I met this year was David O'Neale.  I've mentioned him before.  He was one of my fellow performers at The Olympics.  He, like thousands of others, auditioned and was surprised to get through.  It was only after he had been accepted that he was also diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.  That didn't stop him, and he was always one the Group favourites.  David also helped organise the Jubilee celebrations in his local village earlier this year and has written books about his locality.  At the moment he is on a world trip...getting to see the highlights, and it's good to see his regular updates.  He is a man living life to the full....and is a lesson to us all.

Picture 123

It's all about the colour

Sunday 18 November 2012