Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Bankrupt yourself going to university...

The chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten, thinks the cap on fees should be lifted.

He's arguing that if people are willing to pay exorbitant amount on private education then universities, especially his university, should be allowed to charge more.

In my mind what he is asking that we have an even more privatised higher education system.

I'd rather see the government put more money into higher education than see Oxford lumber its students with even greater debts.

He acknowledges that this is "deeply controversial".

No shit.

Sure there are those from upper middle class backgrounds that plough thousands into their primary and secondary education.

But what about those that can't afford that but aren't poor enough to qualify for a grant?

People will start only going to university if they envisage themselves having jet setter lifestyles in the future.

What about those who want a good education but then want to go on and teach or police the streets.

Not everyone wants to be a manager, that doesn't mean they don't want to be well educated if they are capable of it.

Education in itself is precious that doesn't mean it should be personally expensive.

Monday, 29 September 2008


So George Osborn is talking tough on city fat cats: is it just me that feels it doesn’t ring true?

I am not a fan of New Labour and the party may have lost a great deal of the faith in them I had in 1997 but I still trust them more to steer us through this financial crisis.

The Conservatives have always been the party of power.

And by that I mean that all they are interested in is power.

I was not surprised in my university years when I was told a certain campus Tory had a timeline on his wall leading him to Number 10.

They will say anything that they think will be popular but when the chips are down they are the party of aggressive capitalism.

Most of them still idolise Thatcher and her era and when they attack big bonuses I find it hard to believe them.

I’m biased I know but I don’t think the Conservatives have suddenly become the party to safe guard the Welfare State or any of the institutions and beliefs that I hold dear to my heart.

Sorry George I think your nose is growing.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Ruth Kelly's departure speech

Ruth Kelly really got my attention with her comments on going out late at night.

Now again I am left with a funny feeling reading a phrase from her speech from Wednesday:

"I've relied on the support of my family and friends and I now think it's time to take a step back and repay them for the support that they have given me" courtesy of the BBC.

I don't want to criticise what she is saying, it has the warm sincerity of the thank yous of the best of Oscar acceptance speeches, I'm just intrigued that she is being so open.

I can't help but think: would a male politician say these words?

Would they stand up and admit that part of their success was built on depending on other people?

Would they give this as a reason for stepping down?

Would they mean it?

I have no answers only questions but I can't remember a male MP stepping down for these reasons.

Though the jaded side of me mutters at this point that she can cite any reason, it doesn't make it true.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Standon Calling

For the first time in literally years I got myself off to a proper (as opposed to a one or two dayer) festival, with tried and tested festival buddies.

The festival in question was Standon Calling.

On arrival at the station there were some initial concerns that the shuttle bus was the people carrier sitting outside the station, but to our relief it turned out to be a taxi.

The first shock on arriving to the festival was just how small the festival was.

I've never before been to a paid for festival so tiny.

In fact, Rise, which is a free one day music and anti-racism (screw you Boris) in London is easily twice the size!

The second slightly unwelcome surprise was how carefully they were searching for booze.

We found space to pitch our tents, after half pitching them somewhere else and then changing our minds.

Then we pottered off to find some music.

The range of music on offer during the day and early evening was really good, but the sets were often disappointingly short and there were quite a few "double-barreled arse holes on coke" in attendance as one sign proclaimed.

Our merry band kept things fun, but Standon is no Glastonbury, so if you go make sure you're with your best mates.

The dress up day on the Saturday is good fun, there were some really nice efforts: the wasabi pea man, the kamikaze pilots complete with planes and the ninjas - the theme if you hadn't guessed was Japanese.

The food options were lovely, however not great for the skint as there are really no cheap dodgy burger or chips options.

So bring your own food if you're hard up.

There was a lovely little funky tent that played DJ sets in the day and a voluntary contribution one hour yoga session at 12.

Favourite bands of the event were: Florence and the Machine, Los Campensinos, They Came From The Stars, I Saw Them, Johnny Flynn and of course the beautiful indomitable Super Furry Animals.

Johnny Flynn I watched on my own on the Sunday, as no one else felt like braving the rain, it was worth it.

The sun came out for Los Campensinos and after them the Furries who were painfully short but threw us lots of carrots to eat...

Mmm carrots...

Then on a gloriously sunny Monday we packed up and went home.

And one last thing, for those of you that hate festival loos the Standon one's were practically luxurious.

Think mirrors, think animal pictures, think soap and hand cream.

Ok the taps stopped working quite quick, but any regular festival goer would revel in them.

There is something to be said for going to a Toffee festival.

Oh and they even have special recycling bins.

Monday, 28 July 2008


I was in Leeds this weekend with a hungover brother and entourage, thus the DVDs came out.

After having watched Patlabor (a personal favourite) and Die Hard (you'd have to agree a bit of a classic), we pulled out Superbad.

I was pleasantly surprised by this film.

The trailers hadn't given me high hopes: another teen movie about trying to, with hilarious consequences, lose your virginity.

Evan (Michael Cera) and Seth (Jonah Hill) are long-time friends in the last year of high school, about to leave for different colleges.

Their friend, Fogell, (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has plans to acquire a fake ID, so Seth agrees to buy alcohol for a party his crush, Jules (Emma Stone), is hosting. Evan also offers to buy Goldslick Vodka for his long time crush Becca (Martha MacIsaac).

The ca-razy high jinks turned out to be surreal in the extreme and there was a fair amount of heart and good character development.

The oddness of the situations some how made the whole thing inexplicably more believable.

So it turned out to be a particularly good example of this genre.

Good fun if you're at a loose end and want something easy to pass the time.

Don't expect anything particularly intelligent, but it is very sweet and very funny.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Iron Man

Yes I snuck off to the cinema again yesterday and managed to catch Iron Man at one of about only two cinemas still showing it in London.

Iron Man is an origin story.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Junior) goes out to Afghanistan on a business trip, his business being weapons, to demonstrate the new weapon Jericho.

He gets captured by Afghani rebels and in order to escape invents the suit that makes him the superhuman Iron Man.

This film was less of a spectacle than I was expecting, not that there aren't some brilliant explosive action moments - I just expected more.

The plot is a lot more political than I expected as well, which made me happy.

Ok the idea of an arms dealer re-assessing his life is a bit far fetched, but you know it gives you hope even if it is only fiction.

There are some nice witty touches throughout the film and Downey Junior has a talent for carrying those kind of wise cracks off whilst also giving a convincing performance of a man filled with arrogance and later consumed by inner demons.

Gwynth Paltrow's character Pepper Potts makes for a good side kick, though she does prove to be a bit worryingly wet in the finale, but she makes up for it with her final lines.

It's a shame that it's too late to see it at the big screen as the effects certainly benefit from being HUGE, but invest in a large TV and rent it when it comes out.

You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The night I met John Kennedy

Back in the world where I have a social life again and I'm off to another They Came From The Stars I Saw Them gig.

This time it was at The Barfly in Camden for Xfm's regular Xposure Live event.

Hosted by the beautifully, wonderful, genius that is John Kennedy.

Turned up in time to see some of the first act, who were ok but nothing very memorable.

Then the Stars got up onto the stage and this little man, who looked really familiar came and said hello, mainly I think at Adi but looking back I like to think in general.

Then the little man got up on the stage to in-tro-duce the Stars.

So in case you aren't good at the maths the little man that seemed so familiar turned out not to be an acquaintance of ours through the Stars or such like, as we both kind of assumed, but John Kennedy.

John Kennedy spoke to me!

I know this is pathetic, but I love this guy I felt the same way as I did when I bumped into Simon Amstell and at least this time I didn't recognise him straight off, being more used to his voice than his face, and start babbling at him star struck.

The Stars of course were brilliant and it was hilarious watching the Camden cool set doing or being baffled by the rabbit, seal, monkey dance.

The headlining act were nothing on The Chap and not much on the Stars, but of course that's what most of the cool set had come to see, so after a couple of songs we left them to it.





Monday, 30 June 2008

Dead Pets Society

Sadly due to the football, and yes I'm guilty of this too, very few people turned up before around 10 for the second Dead Pets Society.

Also I assume because everyone was celebrating, and in the odd instance sulking into their beers, at the pubs and houses that they had chosen to watch the match at it wasn't as well attended as the first.

Criminal really considering what a brilliant was played, well for most of it I must confess to not being massively into some of the later tracks but I was definitely in the minority.

I'm certainly looking forward to the next installment of mash up madness.

And you lot, whoever you are, should come along to.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Day eleven in the NATO Northwood headquarters - last day

Day eleven in the NATO exercise and there is a distinct hang over vibe going on.

Nick is the most "ill", I feel pretty good to my surprise thought I was going to feel like the pits.

My head on the other hand is really not co-operating.

Nick ends up getting very upset about my copy, his head probably wasn't helping, you have to hand it to the boy he can spot even subtle mistakes when he feels like shit - I reckon that's something worth sticking on the CV.

Michael tells us he has certificates for us, but he isn't going to give them to us.


Nick's name is spelt wrong, I am called Mrs Sarah Morgan, Ciaran is called Mrs Ciaran Gold (in case you haven't picked up this fact Ciaran is a guy) and Jess, well, doesn't even have one!

The Navy eh, so efficient.

We all finish at 12 and I have my last lunch courtesy of NATO.

Then I head back to the B&B to pick up my stuff and head home.

It feels really weird leaving Northwood, I literally haven't left the place since I arrived - not even one stop on the tube!

We'll see how I adjust to the real, non-exercise, world.

It feels great to get back to a bit more freedom though.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Day ten in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day ten in the NATO exercise and everyone apart from Mia is back from the ships so there was next to nothing from Spain.

As a result another quiet day, spent wondering what articles we could make up to pad out the scenario.

I ended up making up a bit of a heart wrenching, or at least what I tried to make heart wrenching, article on the state that Vaneo (town by the gas explosion) was in a few days after the attack.

Then in the evening I was introduced to what is known as a "beer call", never really come across the term before.

This basically involved everyone who had been involved in the exercise trouping off to a free bar that served beer and cider.

Having had no time to eat and a limited bar opening time I was decidedly tipsy/pissed by the time we went back and I caught most of the first half of the football.

Missed the second half thanks to an ill advised plan of going to see it at the pub, that turned out to be closed - so we ended up at one without a TV.

So I received the final score by text, rubbish.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Day nine in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day nine in the NATO exercise and I'm slightly disappointed that it hasn't prompted any articles from the ships.

So as a result it has been quite a quiet day, with me mainly making up articles and doing the odd inject.

I think I must have been getting a bit restless because I came up with "Ping Pong panned", not my headline, my slightly silly story made up story, which you can have a look at for your own amusement...

PONTEAREAS - The Westland table tennis tournament in Ponteareas was cancelled today due to power shortages caused by the destruction of the Vaneo gas receiving station.

Westland's finest table tennis players are swiping the air following the cancellation of today's tournament.

The games are played indoors, making it impossible for the games to proceed.

"I'm glad it's been cancelled," says Marco Gonzales, one of the competitors. "My cousin died in the Jumblez attack, we were close and my mind has not been on my game."

Other players are simply frustrated, as much because of the overall effect the energy shortage is having as because today's game has been cancelled.

Franco Romero, last year's runner up, said: "I was in a bad mood even before the tournament was cancelled.

"I'm living off cheese sandwiches, it's ridiculous. We need gas".

Yep delirium was definitely setting in.

Also got another fun one about the mastermind behind the attack...

LISBON - Helena Ricardo has been revealed as the mastermind behind yesterday's suicide attack at the Vaneo gas receiving station.

A Dorian from Westland, who does not wish to be named, claims that he overheard Jumblez militia talking about Helena's role in the attack. They were talking about the attack in a bid to recruit Dorians from one of the refugee camps.

Ricardo was highly trained in explosives, martial arts and artillery at a Jumblez camp in the Pyrenees. She previously worked for the Jumblez Northland government as an intelligence operative, during their brief spell in power from January to March 2008.

When the leadership were indicted, by the International Criminal Tribunal for Northland, she went underground. She was believed to have been accidentally killed in May when Northland and the UN were disarming Jumblez but in fact she was just injured and went off to train in Uliz.

Her training was clearly advanced enough for her to have orchestrated the highly sophisticated attack on the Vaneo gas receiving station in Westland, which resulted in the deaths of 82 people.

My original article said that she was severely disfigured.

But as "Helena" was a re-working of an English name of someone on the team who said she'd like to be part of the scenario everyone was worried she might be offended.

I was honestly just being creative, but Michael decided it was some kind of "chick thing"..?

Monday, 23 June 2008

Day eight in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day eight in the NATO exercise and we have finally reached what we like to call “shitstorm” day.

We found out about it last week, I think Wednesday, day three.

Basically they were planning to pretend that there had been a terrorist attack on a gas receiving station and distribution centre.

To make sure that our articles came out making sense they gave us all this time to research what would happen if something like this occurred in real life, so I’ve had great fun over the last couple of days weaving works of fiction based on the facts we had at our disposal.

So today all we had to do was fire off e-mail after e-mail until they had been hit by forty stories from the four of us: articles detailing the attack, human interest stories, energy price stories, economic stories and political analysis stories (my favourite) all as fall out from the attack.

I would have liked to see the effect that this deluge was having but I can guess that it wasn’t that pretty.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Day seven in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day seven in the NATO exercise and I’m getting a bit tired to be honest, not really physically more mentally.

It doesn’t feel like a weekend so I was surprised after lunch when I was greeted by Sunday papers, which always irritates me as there is rarely anything in the Sunday publications that I want to read.

Apologies if today’s blog is more like a diary than usual but although I did find articles I wanted to blog about in today’s paper, despite it being a Sunday, I promptly forgot it when I got home.

Football didn’t inspire me either, still I guess it’s a trade off against yesterday’s game.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Day six in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day six in the NATO exercise and I’m wondering where my brain has gone.

I used to have this lovely, sharp brain that used its initiative and was generally pretty on the ball.

Now I have a brain more like this guy that I went out with for a bit at University.

Nothing wrong with the brain as such, academically quite astute, just incapable of coping with picking up details, or in his case opening his own door.

Needless to say I feel bad for having laughed at him now, even if it was an affectionate laugh.

I don’t want his brain.

I want my brain.

The worrying thing is I’m not entirely sure when I lost it.

I think it had definitely gone missing round the middle of last term.

There was certainly no sign of it over the summer term or in the past couple of weeks.

It doesn’t help that the brains of the people around me seem to be perfectly fine.

They haven’t lost, wounded or inebriated theirs.

It’s just not fair.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Day five in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day five in the NATO exercise and I feel a bit more confident, hopefully that will last.

I’m battling with Jens Lekman alongside all the work.

I can’t quite decide whether I like him or not.

I only really like I’m Leaving You Because I Don’t Love You and Friday Night At The Drive In.

They are all incredibly twee, but those two are a bit more bearable, in fact fuck it I actually quite like them.

The end of the day and the boss of the guy who’s in charge of us came in.

I think I must have been a cow in another life because I had quite a bad foot in mouth moment in an attempt to be chatty.

That’s the problem with being chatty sometimes it just comes round and bites you in the foot.

Ah well, I doubt I’ll see him again.

Yay Turkey!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Day four in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day four in the NATO exercise and I’m losing faith in my ability to write good copy.

The second article that I submitted to be sent out at 12.30 needed significant re-working by “nice Nick”, because the details were confused.

So it ended up going out after 12.30 even though I handed it over for subbing at 11.30.

In my defence I had been given one inject the day before and then a slightly conflicting inject today and as I had written up some of the story it might have lost some of its sense in the re-working process.

But either way it wasn’t good for the ego.

I clocked a painting of Thatcher from the Falklands conflict at lunch today.

Oh joy!

But hurrah, no quiet time today.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Day three in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day three in the NATO exercise and things are getting a lot more interesting.

We’re actually working ahead of time now.

By the end of the day I had written one story that went out at 11, started one story and completed another for tomorrow and even started writing two for Friday.

As a result of this very weird false reality set up I was able to be busy all day and was thus a lot happier.

Oddly you can tell when I’ve got more on because the posts are shorter, perverse that.

Now I’ve just finished watching Russia vs Sweden, it’s always nice to be surprised.

I’m sure that there’s more Family Guy to come…

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Day two in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Day two in the NATO exercise and I’ve finally written a story.

I started writing it up yesterday from a two line inject, but I had to wait till today for the quotes to write it up properly.

It felt good to be writing about something that wasn’t diet related, even if it was for a fake scenario it was still more interesting than how many calories there are in your average smoothie.

When that was done I went back to listening to some music because things were still a bit quiet.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to listen to The Killers, All These Things That I’ve Done…

“I got soul but I’m not a soldier…”

After doing preparation for another story for tomorrow I went to lunch and on my return discovered that I have some old episodes of South Park saved on my laptop.

I think it would be taking the piss to watch them in work hours, but it means I have something to entertain me at the B&B if the TV’s bad.

I don’t have the internet at the B&B due to the wi-fi not working properly on my machine.


Watched Italy vs France in the evening, which was quite fun and given France’s performance so far I was quite pleased they didn’t go through.

Then more Family Guy before bed, am I getting old or what?

Monday, 16 June 2008

Day one in the NATO Northwood headquarters

Well today I found out that even doing NATO exercises could be boring.

As an add-on to our course, in the sense that not everyone does it and it isn’t assessed, I’ve been taking part in a NATO navy training exercise.

The idea is that whilst NATO does their normal training exercises in a fictitious country they are trailed around by journalists asking them questions, alongside more journalists subbing stories and asking supplementary questions from base camp, to train them in dealing with the media.

I am one of the journalists at base camp, which is obviously less exciting than running around a ship where the action is taking place but I still thought it would be quite fun.

As it turns out on our first day everyone was frustrated, partly because things were just being set up. But also partly due to the fact that the Spanish NATO force, which is role playing the scenario on this occasion, were refusing to tell the on-board journalists anything because they didn’t have security clearance.

Of course this is the time that I realise that the only game I have on my computer is chess, which is all well and good but it’s not the best thing to play when you’re killing time.

I don’t have the internet on my computer here, so I can’t kill time on Facebook, YouTube and Hotmail, or any of the other scourges of office management.

And no I can’t send my friends texts, because they have mobile blockers here – they sap your battery down to nothing so you can’t use your phone, I knew this in advance, so my phone was at home.

At first it was odd being surrounded by people in Navy uniforms, but soon enough this fact fades into the background.

They pay for all my meals here provided I have breakfast at the hotel and lunch and dinner in the mess.

And they pay for the hotel and give me a wage in return for me doing something that I love doing anyway.

Yes, it’s all a bit jammy.

Anyway, back to food.

Lunch was unremarkable, but you know it was free.

I must admit I felt intimidated by the hall with its high ceiling and modern chandeliers, I hope it didn’t show.

On sitting down I looked casually to my right to be greeted by a full length portrait of the Queen and Prince Philip, I have to say that was a bit freaky – the republican in me was screaming: “get me out of here!”

Then we went into a lounge area for coffee, well everyone else drank coffee I just stayed to be sociable, and I managed to read one article in the newspaper before we had to head back, to doing not a lot.

In the evening we went to the awful local pub for a quite frankly equally awful pub quiz.

Ciaran and Nick sulked as a result, they took real exception to the questions in the sports round, while me and Becky just laughed a lot – at them, the questions and our difficulty in answering them.

I kept half an eye on the football, but to be honest it wasn’t that inspiring so it was more like an eighth of an eye by the end.

Then we traipsed home to watch yet more family guy.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Don't Miss This

I’ve been avin’ it large in Manchester.

A friend of mine runs a club night in Manchester called Don’t Miss This, she’s also just started a new one in London called Dead Pets Society, which I always go along to if I can.

This Friday was one of those occasions when I could.

So I packed myself onto a train, which I booked that morning, to head up.

No one was free to meet me when I turned up, so I settled myself in The Piccadilly to wait for the people who were heading up.

By the time they turned up I had ordered myself some curly fries, which proved able to dry my mouth out in seconds – still, I was hungry.

When they had all arrived we moved onto to another, nicer, bar that served Space Raiders and Transformers behind the bar.

It’s SO much better than paying 50p or more for a bag of Walkers, McCoys or whatever.

Then we headed over to The Retro Bar for Don’t Miss This.

As always Dolly and John played a great selection of songs that had me dancing loads with a huge great smile on my face.

Not as always there was a wig theme and thankfully even though I had forgotten to get a wig John lent me one and by the end of the night I had tried pretty much everyone’s on for size.

I got to see what I looked like as a Pat Sharp, Zoe Wannamaker or alternatively someone out of Chumbawamba.

I was tempted to cut my hair Zoe Wannamaker style permanently, but then it would look bad growing out when I inevitably decide to grow it long again.

I also discovered that having a wig stopped me obsessively scratching my head, something I inexplicably started doing almost a month ago now.

Odd that.

Friday, 13 June 2008

he loves me, he loves me not

Someone gave me the french film he loves me, he loves me not a while ago and I've only just got round to watching it.

You lucky people you are spared my usual rant and you'll be getting more of a film review.

Saying that I'm not entirely sure what to say about this film...

It's beautifully shot, much like Amelie another Audrey Tautou film.

I liked it, but I wasn't blown away.

Perhaps because I didn't really know what to feel throughout, which is odd given it's a film about emotion, love - all be it obsessive love.

Tautou plays Angelique a talented art student who is in love with a cardiologist called Loic (Samuel Le Bihan), who is married with a child on the way.

The film plays out the story of her obsession rather tenderly and Tautou plays the insanity very well.

My main preoccupation throughout the film was the handsome medical student who loves Angelique, wondering why on earth she would obsess about a rather plain fair haired man over a younger, handsome guy who is devoted to her.

Still there is no accounting for people's hearts I suppose, or rather their brains, I doubt an organ that is little more than a pump has much to do with it.

The film explores the power of our emotions and how they drive us to do awful and frightening things.

The ending is poignant and perhaps a little disturbing, but I oddly ended the film feeling happy.

I can't really say anymore about why I felt this without ruining the film.

I might watch it again to show to someone who hadn't seen it and I'd recommend it, but not too highly, it isn't a classic.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Bath, embarrassment, new words and sunshine.

I decided that Melissa needed to get away for a bit and this was also a great excuse for me to have a holiday too.

So we went to Bath.

Bath wasn't the original plan, in fact we tried to find cheap places to stay in Brighton, Leeds and Cambridge before we settled on the £15 per person per night digs at the YMCA.

We went by coach to save money and it wasn't the hideous journey I expected, it turned out to be quite nice, I slept most of the drive though.

After a lot of ambling around and asking helpful Bath folk directions we made it to the YMCA.

The room was simple and clean with a sink, cupboard, two chairs and of course two beds.

We headed straight out to get some late lunch and followed this with some drinks at The Pig and Fiddle.

Unfortunately the cider that Melissa bought was flat, she had me taste some and finish the bit at the end, it was horrible.

We then headed back to the hostel to get changed and go out.

We stayed in the first pub we went to, the Sam Wellers, for most of the night so it deserves a mention if only for the scrummy steak and mussels - between us we managed to finish most of it.

The next morning I got up at ten to nine to dash downstairs to get breakfast before you started having to pay for it, then went back to the room again and promptly fell asleep again until 12/12.30.

No idea what we did for lunch, but we got lost looking for a park, which we did finally find with help.

It was a gorgeous sunny day so we just lay out in the sun sleeping and chatting, not at the same time obviously.

Then we headed back into town and found Sally Lunns where we had high tea, which consisted of bread and smoked salmon, soup and bread, sweet bread and clotted cream and jam and tea of course - good job we shared it.

Then we went back and changed and went to The Huntsmen for a comedy tour of Bath, which we were late for because we got lost again.

As a result we didn't pay and when he asked to see arm bands about ten or so minutes in we ran away in embarrassment.

We then ended up in The Volunteer Rifleman's Arms due to encouragement from the two blokes sitting outside.

It turned out to be very cheap and rather lovely.

Melissa baffled the barman, Matt (Chef), by saying she was pickish as she wanted to say she was peckish and wanted to pick at food.

Thus Pickish was born.

It's our bid for Oxford Dictionary fame.

We got talking to the barman and his mates, who didn't understand why we had taken so long to find their wonderful pub.

If I ever go back to Bath, I think three days is more than enough in one go and perhaps for a few years, I'll go there every bloody night, till they bar me!

Thursday saw us wandering round the Roman Baths, which so wasn't worth the £9 entrance (and that's the student rate), but you have to do these things and it was nice just not that nice.

Then we went home, which is where I am now.

Final word: Bath was nice, but I love London.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Indy's BACK, but you knew that right

Ok so I went to see Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last Wednesday, but you know I'm not the most organised of people - I should have just said that it needed lots of contemplation shouldn't I?

Anyway, let's get to the point shall we - well I say we it's me really isn't it, you aren't writing this.

The beginning places you firmly in the 50s and the middle of semi desert terrain.

And of course in the first ten minutes people are already getting shot down with machine guns.

Then finally our hero appears, shortly followed by Cate Blanchett, with a decidedly dodgy Eastern European accent - honestly I thought she was better than that.

I thought they'd take ages to bring in the rumoured sci-fi element, but no they launch straight in with it, which is one of my main criticisms of the film most Indy films develop and build and then draws you in.

This one hits you round the head, drags you home and fucks your brains out.

Very rude and not in a nice way either.

I mean the action was great and I did enjoy it, but at points you're like: did you really need THAT many waterfalls?

Or, why is Shia's character so dumb that he can't work out how to swing on a vine without the help of a monkey?

It probably isn't surprising then that the dialogue is below par, what there is is ok, but it's mainly one liners and there isn't the extent and quality of script that I expect from an Indy film.

One massive hurrah for the return of Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), by far the best Indy love interest.

She's straight talking, she doesn't take his shit, she's very attractive and my God can she handle her drink, hats off to her!

The end is predictable, well almost.

However it is quite spectacular, definitely makes good use of the big screen.

I guess all there is left to say at this point is that ultimately I was disappointed by this film, but I've changed my mind - Harrison I still would.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The flower phoenix

It lives!

My Peace Lilly has grown a new flower.

A nice long one.

I hadn't looked at it for a little bit and then when I decided it needed another water, there it was...

One tall, lovely, white flower.

I was overjoyed.

But scared.

I was so scared of jinxing it that I have left it at least a week before telling you, the blogsphere, of my flower phoenix.

Maybe it's the weather.

Maybe I finally did something right.

I just don't know.

I only know that I'm happy.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

They Came From The Stars I Saw Them - And I did

I went to the They Came From The Stars I Saw Them gig last night at the Hoxton Bar and Restaurant.

What a brilliant night, though obviously I'm paying for it now.

The night started off with Omo, well actually it started off with a picnic, which I failed to bring any food to, and Liz talking about liking the jib of someone's coat but this is loosely meant to be a gig review so I shall continue...

I have to say I wasn't overly impressed by Omo, there first and third songs were far too arty/experimental for my liking and underlined everything that I hate about Shoreditch.

However they did do one rather lovely second song about fish coming in a tin.

The next band were more like it, sadly I hadn't started making notes at this stage, not being a professional reviewist so I can't remember their names let alone what they played.

Then on bundled They Came From The Stars I Saw Them in all their white clad glory.

I made it back from the loo in time so I didn't miss any of their set.

Of course I was dancing straight away.

Love, love, love the sing-a-longs.

Love, love, love the dance-a-longs.

More of that please.

I also noted the encore as I don't think, anyone is welcome to correct me, that I've seen They Came From The Stars I Saw Them do an encore in all of the three or four times that I've seen them perform.

Then there was another blinding band, but sadly I failed to make any notes on them so I don't even remember their names let alone the songs they performed.

Then onto The Chap, the main event.

Even before they came on I was happy because one of whom I can only assume was one of their roadies had a T-shirt emblazoned with Alabama Thunderpussy.

The mind boggles.

My only concern at this point was the girl from Omo was also The Chap's keyboardist, not more artsy crap I thought, but my fears were soon to be allayed.

They started off with a spoken piece mentioning the members of The Stars that made me giggle.

One of the songs that they performed was apparently about "proper songs" whatever they are, though Horton (a member of The Stars) shouted out that it was really about Phil Collins.


Even before this point I had noticed that the bassist who was in some very tight shorts, I guess it was quite hot, was showing an outline of his manhood (look at me being all coy).

My eyes kept falling on it throughout the performance and making me giggle.

Anyway more about the important stuff: the songs.

One song came complete with what I can only describe as a robot gopher dance complete with side step.


The bassist also played the violin for some songs.

Well I say played, he actually beat out a rhythm on the strings, which worked really well, or played sporadic discordant notes, which I was less impressed with.

The violin beating also threw up an impressive amount of dust and was quite severely broken.

The lead singer even brought out a double bass or cello at one point.

Yeah I know two years of G.C.S.E music and I can't tell the difference, disgraceful.

They played a song which they introduced as "shit disco", but I thought it more liked great pop.

Despite two promises that the songs we were about to hear would be about being lost in the forest looking for a girl, well, none of them were.

Their encore songs were dedicated to Claire and Hector: Claire because she couldn't make it, Hector because he wasn't allowed to come.

There was interesting use of flash cards by the keyboardist for one song.

The end of the last song saw them freeze to the closing note.

Even Horton froze reaching up open mouthed to the stage.


I only went to the after party for an hour, I had to get up in the morning.

Was entertained by the naked ladies being projected onto the wall, though the best one has to be the old man with the sign round his neck, which read: They came for Brian Haw I said nothing. Then they came for me.

I'm ashamed to say though I've seen this guy on countless occasions I didn't recognise his name.

Unfortunately there were some anal sex images, call me a prude if you like but I don't really want to see that on a night out.

Thanks to being disorganized I now owe Liz a fiver to add to my other debts, at least one of them I can blame on someone else.

Will have to call in the £15 debt owed to me.

So get yourself to the next Stars gig people!

Plug, plug.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Monday, 12 May 2008

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Bloody Boris, Bloody Churches

Well it didn't take long Bo Jo's already incensed me.

He wants to ban drinking on public transport.

To me this is madness, though I realise this may be a controversial view, as a disagreement with my liberal parents has illustrated to me.

Personally I think being able to drink casually on the way to a party is nice and sociable.

Obviously I don't like puke on the tube and piss on the seats, but sometimes that is unavoidable, whats more my hangovers have proved that just because you are no longer drunk or drinking at the time is no guarantee that you won't be sick.

In fact that's when you're most likely to.

I don't really understand what it can possibly be solving...

Apart from perhaps the plight of the pubs that lose business because you buy a beer bottle to go onto your mates etc. instead of staying and paying through the nose in the pub.

In other madness, some poor mother has been banned by a, to my mind, near sited church from erecting a Bart Simpson gravestone for their seven year old kid.

What's the harm?

If she wants to erect a monument that might have meant something to his child then she should have the right to.

I thought B was a good mark?

In The Guardian today there is yet more news about the categorisation of dope.


I'm getting sick of how the Government and experts keep changing their minds, as if they're playing ip dip do over the choice of policy.

This is a drug that is affecting people's minds and lives and they can't even make their minds up.

At this point I think re-categorisation from Class C to Class B is academic as though it may change the penalty for possessing and dealing the drug it isn't going to have any impact on how people view taking it, except perhaps detrimentally.

It's a reverse psychology thing: tell people that a drug is especially illicit and bad for them and they are more likely to want to try it.

No is very seductive.

They can't even make their minds up how dangerous and psychosis inducing it is.

This is perhaps more forgivable given that scientific questions tend to be fraught with uncertainty and controversy.

Incidentally if you search dope in Google the entry that comes up before any reference to the drug is a link to an American Metal band, it's a funny world that we live in.

Simon Jenkins has a better articulated argument on this point.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Bo Jo's in charge

I woke up on Saturday morning with an awful hangover, probably one worthy of my top ten worst, to the news that Boris, the nit wit, Johnson is now the head honcho of London.

What a brilliant start to the day.

If that isn't bad enough the Tories had a pretty clean sweep of the local elections.

I threatened to go into hiding if this happened but given that I have a course to complete, which will probably involve doing interviews, I have to deal with the situation.

I can only hope that his Mayorship will be so monumentally disastrous that no one will be stupid enough to vote Tory again and Labour or even the Liberal Democrats will sail the next general election.

I mean it isn't even as if Boris is a good Conservative candidate.

He's not particularly moderate, he's borderline if not fully fledged racist, he's a buffoon (but the very clever kind with a scary agenda).

I can only think was that what swung it is people's fatigue, not mine I hasten to add, with Ken and the fact that Boris always seems to turn up on Have I Got News For You.

Oh well all I can do is cross my fingers and pray...

Possibly for an assassination, although obviously I'm not endorsing such violent measures.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Lesbian is a great word for being a Gay woman

I was reading the paper yesterday and there was this really tiny article about the Greek islanders of Lesbos calling for the word Lesbian to be banned when referring to Gay women.


Because they say they are the original Lesbians.

The mind boggles on many different levels.

But there's my phrase of the moment again: I'm sorry what!?

People have been using the term Lesbian to refer to Gay women for fucking AGES!

Why make a fuss about it now?

Possibly this is newspaper piffle, it was in The London Paper after all.

If it isn't, have they had their collective heads in the sand all this time?

Or is this a stunt to boost tourism.

I give up.

The tories look like they're sweeping the board to boot.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

A funny

As I have nothing to say today I have this tit bit to offer:

Arnold's Pizza Shop


Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Kate and Boris. I'm sorry, what?

I used to respect Kate Hoey, Labour MP for Vauxhall.

I thought she was a good MP: she seemed principled and embraced grass roots activities.

Then today I read that Boris Johnson wants to use her as an advisor for sport should he be elected for London Mayor and she's agreed!

It doesn't end there in looking into this revelation I also found out that the, so I thought, sensible Ms Hoey is the infamous Chair of the Countryside Alliance, a group which has been attempting to channel funds to opponents of Labour.

She even has a column for the Daily Telegraph.

And again: I'm sorry what?

Just shows I don't read the sodding rag.

She has sensible positions on things like the war on Iraq and Trident renewal, but it seems she is a bit schizophrenic politically - or at the very least confused.

Maybe I should get in touch and talk it through calmly with her.

Point out the inherent contradictions, but I have to be honest I'm a bit scared about what she would say...

This election is worrying enough with the prospect that Boris might win or at least push it to second preferences, I didn't need this as well.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Everyone's getting married...

My extended circle of friends appear to be getting hitched on mass.

I'm going to do my best not to make this a tirade, I mean it's lovely that they've found someone that they want to spend the rest of their life with, but I must confess to finding it a little strange.

I guess it's because I'm far from the point where I could consider settling down for such a committed relationship.

I don't think that makes me that strange though, I mean I'm only 26.

However on making the observation that a lot of people seemed to be getting married to an old school, let's say, acquaintance at his birthday he asked whether I felt like I was withering on the vine.

Ok he was probably joking in his own strange way, but I felt rather indignant as I answered no rather emphatically.

I then pointed out that he was my age too and didn't seem to be preparing for marriage, to which he replied that he had already withered.


Why is this conversation even remotely acceptable...

Is that the word?

Words fail me.

What worries me more is that comments and conversations like this are going to be getting increasingly common.

Ok I have a hard core of friends who I can rely on, except perhaps in their darkest weakest self doubting moments, not to talk such rubbish.

But what about the rest?

Am I to expect a torrent of ear bashings about the state of my singledom?

This is madness.

Such behaviour should be out lawed it's ridiculous.

But now I'm feeling worryingly like Bridget Jones, but even then she was a fair bit older than me and she actually bought into some of this crap.


No wonder I decided on a feminist theme for my magazine concept.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

I know I know I know

I haven't updated this blog in AGES.

I had every intention of posting blogs about Chinese Manga, various films and the other trivial things that I occupy my life with.

I failed.

I'd like to say that I have something really inspiring and original to write now that I'm returning after such a long time, but, well, I don't.

All I have to say is that I really want to make that bid for world domination, so I'm back.

My latest obsession is

Basically it's this online music thing, yes I know SO articulate, where you put in an artist that you like and it plays something by that artist, then (and this is the slightly clever part) it plays something like that artist.

So for example a while ago I put in Carole King and now in it's infinite wisdom (don't worry you can skip tracks) is playing me Crosby, Stills & Nash 'Teach Your Children', which now incidentally always makes me think of School of Rock.

You get to discover lots of new music this way, plus you can play music by artists you don't actually own (like your own personal radio).

Hurrah for the internet revolution at this rate I won't care that there's nothing on the sodding tele.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous indeed!

For my sins I did once have a soft spot for Good Charlotte.

I liked that they didn't take themselves too seriously and made amusing songs with equally amusing videos.

Girls Don't Like Boys They Like Cars and Money.

I do find that, don't you..?

Anyway it transpires that Benji Madden from the band is seeing Paris Hilton.

Not only is she rich and famous, but she is also vacuously - or at least like to appear so - rich and famous.

I can see my baby brother nodding sagely at this point with an: "I told you so look on his face."

Oh and Joel, the better looking twin brother, should not escape a mention for going out with Nicole Richie.






That's taking irony a bit too far surely?

Maybe he thinks it's okay because she's not one of the: "Celebrities who want sympathy"

Or maybe he has a grand plan: "If money is such a problem, Well they've got mansions,
Think we should rob them".

Yeah, rob her blind!

Why do I read the free sheets?

They just make me angry.

And if you still have a soft spot for the boys, then by all means have a look at this.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

I am an evil person!

You remember my post pleading with you all to let me continue eating KFC?

Well I just saw something on my friends blog that made me feel a bit sick.

Have a look yourself, check out the post Dolly HEART Chickens.

I promise not too do it again, I'll find a fried chicken recipe instead.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Rock out to Old McDonald

Rock Stars sing nursery rhymes

This is really funny. I hope it's the right thing, I can't check the sound because I'm in the Library and I don't have my ear phones.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Last time we were here

Last time we were here

I've seen the whole of this film minus the sound and still really enjoyed it. Yet more proof that my brother is a genius...

Monday, 25 February 2008

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Well well well

The RSPB can save your soul:

So why are the RSPB at a Well Being Day? Well apparently: “Getting outside and being at one with nature is very good for your soul.” Said Jessie Ross Burton

If you want to join in the fun: “We’ve got reserves in London. Rainham Marshes in Essex. Hertfordshire Rye Meads.” Said Martin Abrams

According to Jessie: “We’ve got the largest youth membership of any conservation agency in the world.”

It may be news to some to learn that the RSPB doesn’t just operate in the UK: “We’re very close to securing 101 thousand hectares of Sumatran Rainforest.” Said Martin

He stresses: “we’re not a bird watching organisation. So we’re doing quite a lot to dispel that myth. We do have a lot of members that do that. But we’re not all people in tweed jackets with flasks sitting in a hide.”

Yakult isn’t Yukky

You’ve seen the T.V ad, but did you know that the Probiotic was first looked into by a Bulgarian named Metchinoff who discovered Bulgarian peasants were living longer because they were eating fermented food.

The focus with Yakult is prevention rather than cure.

It may help people who have bowel Cancer.

We sampled two of the Yakults on offer, they come in original (sweet) and Yakult light (less sweet), they both turned out to be quite sweet, which begged the question did it contain sugar?

Yes, it did.

We were informed sugar has two benefits: the bacteria can feed off the sugar and it stops Yakult being too bitter.

So is this stuff really good for you? Well Alan, part of the Retail Support Team, said: “We can’t make claims, but we have 72 years of history behind us. We are the Global market leader in Probiotics.”

Monday, 18 February 2008

Israeli Art and Prairie Dogs

Imagine my surprise when I received an event invitation from a guy I haven't physically seen for about four or five years.

He wanted me to come and check out some Israeli Art, though for some reason failed to reply when I inquired whether he was going.

After getting in touch with other mutual friends, who also hadn't seen the man in question for an age, it turned out that I would have company so I happily trotted off to Edgware Road on Sunday at four.

It was quite a small gallery but I'm not going to complain because it was free.

The first picture to catch my eye or rather to be pointed out to me by, I think, Shem was, well let's say interesting.

It was entitled Yogi Style, I'll let your imagination run riot on that one.

Another one depicted a woman farting while being passionately kissed, great stuff the weekend after Valentine's Day.

There were a fair few nude pictures and even more generally odd ones, I quite liked the picture board of the woman pulling her organs out of her stomach and making friends with them - it seemed she had about six kidneys at least.

Also all importantly the man of the hour, no not the artist, Michael was in attendance.

So we had a nice chat and it turned out that he's engaged to the Italian girl that he told me about in my third year of University.

Not content with an evening of Israeli Art I head off to stir up some action in Kings Cross.

My destination: The Cross Kings pub where I found a bunch of who I shall call Language of Prairie Dogs fans.

I had been led to believe that they were coming on at eight, as it turned out that was when they were meant to turn up, they didn't come on until 10.30.

As for the other bands, well no one was awful, but one of them seemed to be a bit of a Keane covers band - so maybe that's not true...

There was a beardy couple who were quite attractive in their own way and performed a perfectly passable set.

There was one guy who sounded like he was New Cross who did a set of mostly African inspired music which I thoroughly enjoyed and actually got me dancing.

Then Matt, Dean and Hayden finally mounted the stage for their five songs.

Lovely stuff.

Then I went home.

Saturday, 16 February 2008


This film starts and ends with a chair, more or less anyway. This says a lot about the tone of the film, it’s quite quirky and irreverent. It’s got a great indie soundtrack for a pretty solid indie movie.

The basic premise is that Juno (Ellen Page) has sex with a guy called Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) and gets pregnant and then has to deal, with varying degrees of maturity, with the consequences.

It turns out that all you need to produce three positive pregnancy tests is well pregnancy obviously and a very large amount of Sunny D.

I still can’t find any explanation for why she has a Hamburger phone, apart from maybe that’s what you do if you’re about to become a food obsessed whale.

After finding out she is pregnant she forgoes an abortion down to some blueberry-flavoured condoms and the fact that babies have finger nails.

So this leaves her with the option of getting a good couple to adopt the baby. Needless to say she find a worthy couple and gets to really like the adoptive father to be.

Things don’t run as smoothly as planned of course, but with parents as supportive as Juno’s they don’t need to.

All in all this is very sweet and funny film. Maybe it gets a little too sweet in places, but it doesn’t make you gag – just mostly laugh and gesticulate at the screen. It’s a sad state of affairs that parents would rather have their child addicted to hard drugs or expelled from school than have a baby at 16.

There are some good one-liners and the performances are generally very convincing.

Also it’s nice to see a film that deals with a mother to be, even if she’s giving up her baby, so sensitively and affectionately.

Here is the final version.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Not enough freebies to be truly well...

Me and Nargis, the new dynamic duo - well maybe not, went to the University's Well Being Day yesterday.

I did quite a few stories on Welfare campaigns at my old Uni. so I'm no stranger to the general ethos, but I've never been to a whole Day event before.

We turned up at about a quarter to ten and promptly got talking to the rather portly organiser and then a Homeopath.

She was really lovely and she directed us to her students who turned up a little early, the event wasn't meant to start until ten.

I have nothing against Homeopathy, but these girls did start off a little gushy.

"It’s energy based healing."

"The body itself is an amazing healing system."

"More the energy compound which is retained within the body."

No I don't understand that sentence much either, bad Journalist, should have asked more questions.

"We believe that it works and it’s effective."

Well you'd hope so really wouldn't you?

"It gives you the strength to cope with the stresses and anxieties of student life."

Ah good, I'll throw away the Prozac now.

For us it didn't end there either, they got really worried about being misrepresented and actually given what I've just written maybe I shouldn't be so harsh on that point.

In the end their tutor came over and asked to see my shorthand, which at the time I struggled reading back so she let it go.

Then it was the turn of the RSPB.

Why were they at a Well Being Day, well: "Getting outside and being at one with nature is very good for your soul."

Also, "we’re not a bird watching organisation.

So we’re doing quite a lot to dispel that myth.

We do have a lot of members that do that."

So that set me straight.

And made me giggle.

But the ultimate giggle factor has to be reserved for the Yakult man.

Yes of course you've seen the adverts, but did you know: "A Bulgarian named Metchinoff first looked into Yakult as he discovered Bulgarian peasants who were living longer were eating fermented food."

Oh yeah and the giggle moment: "We can’t make claims, but we've got 72 years of history behind us."

What do you mean, of course I'm convinced, it's yummy sugary loveliness.

Finally we saw someone from the Stop Smoking service, but to be honest I wasn't all that interested in that not being a smoker myself.

There were loads of other stalls, one of which gave us some free - if awful - energy bars.

But after all that excitement we were relieved to head back to campus with our modest collection of stories.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


I am going to try and blog about something more meaningful soon I promise.

In the meantime...

Skins started again on E4 last night, so I'm back to watching really crappy, in this case teen, drama.

I must confess that I quite enjoyed the last series of Skins even though it was completely implausible and fell into the category of teen drama that was so far from my experiences as a teenager as to be doubly ludicrous.

I missed the first couple of minutes as I was coming back from somewhere, so I missed the initial revelation that Tony was still alive.

My brother will be disappointed after he and his friends dressed all in black with a banner reading "Tony is Dead" aimed at the near by flat as a spoiler, not so clever now hey..?

All was going ok until about half way in when Michelle and Sid decide to have a conversation about Tony and the aftermath of his accident.

The acting was bloody awful.

In fact I think they should both probably win bad acting awards, I couldn't really choose between them.

So when it finished I was even more in a need of a shower than an hour and a half of Yoga had warranted.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd was the first gothic musical I've ever seen.

As with most Tim Burton this is a beautifully shot piece of gothic cinema.

I must confess that in the early stages I found myself quite impatient for the film to end, but I think that was more to do with my restless mood than the film itself.

I was a little sceptical of Johnny Depp's singing ability as his first song was little more than tuneful speech, but he warmed up and by the end I was quite impressed with his vocal performance.

The songs flowed easily with the action and didn't feel forced at all.

It was far darker than your average musical and so proved to be something quite unique.

I was a bit disappointed with the fake blood, it was too bright to look real, but given the amount that was being thrown around it was probably for the best as the sight of something more convincing may have made it all just a bit too much.

This is a musical for people who don't like musicals to my eyes I don't see how anyone could fail to enjoy it.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The fabulous life of Lily Cole

You know you tell yourself that you can't have it all, well for some people maybe that's not true.

I'd never heard of Lily Cole up until a couple of weeks ago.

That's hardly surprising as she's a model and what I know about fashion could easily fit on the back of a post-it note.

So how did I get to hear of her?

Well I sometimes see the articles on msn after logging out from my e-mails and there it was a list of the richest people under thirty.

Lily Cole isn't even 20 yet and has signed a deal that sees her as the new face of M&S.

She was the youngest model to appear on the cover of Vogue when she was 16.

But I started off talking about having it all, well not only does Cole have a multi-million pound modelling career, she’s off to Cambridge University in October.

She's even in St. Trinian.

Jealous, maybe just a little bit.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Another reason to love Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett proved he was a man after my own heart when he said on an interview for Radio 4's Today Programme that he thought Public schools should be abolished.

I've thought this from the moment that I found out that fee paying schools existed.

Bennett referred to the self confidence that seems to be in bred into public school students, which I too encountered for the first time when I went to University.

Essentially you are setting up parallel realities for people, dividing society from the very earliest point.

I was introduced to Alan Bennett as a teenager doing my Drama GCSE.

My Drama teacher played us an excerpt of his Talking Heads series.

Even from that short clip I thought they were lovely: tender, moving and realistic.

I saw some more on TV quite a few years later and I keep meaning to dig out the full set.

Then my mum encouraged me to go and see the stage play of The History Boys, unfortunately it was all sold out, but some time later they brought out a film version which I did get round to seeing.

I enjoyed The History Boys, but still prefer Talking Heads.

Alan Bennett writes about every day people so it is perhaps not surprising that he is championing the aspirations of every day people as well.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Exciting Valentine's drinks

I've been doing The Insider for The Independent Money section yesterday and today.

It's basically writing short blurbs on products that readers should be spending their money on.

Among the array of, mainly Valentines themed, products there is a selection of quirky wine and spirit bottles from Vom Fass.

They are shaped like boots, hearts and male and female bodies and I love them.

I'm not a big one for Valentine's day I prefer to send Valentine's messages to my friends rather than one special man.

However, with such exciting gifts on offer I might just re-assess my position.

Plus Vom Fass don't just fill up the bottle with whichever alcoholic beverage you like, you can also choose oils and vinegars too.

And they refill the bottles with whatever else you want when you finished the first lot of contents, how ecologically sound is that?

Sadly I don't get samples to convince me to write nice things about them, so if anyone out there loves me that's what I'd like for Valentine's Day - preferably the chocolate liquor variety.

The full article will be coming out on Saturday.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

State of Play goes State side

I was quite dismayed to read that Paul Abbott's State of Play is to be turned into a Hollywood film.

Don't get me wrong it's a brilliant series, I'm just not sure that complex six part drama will be done justice by a, at best, three hour film.

Plus Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck are currently set to star, I'm even less convinced.

This is intelligent political drama I'm really not sure that Affleck is up to it.

Why not just show the American's the State of Play series?

If you're an American and you're reading this invest in the State of Play BBC DVD and then if you must watch the film at least make sure that you watch the BBC version first.

And while you're at it check out the British Channel Four version of Queer as Folk.

Monday, 21 January 2008

How to find an Exorcist

I've been doing work experience at The Independent since last Monday.

My first morning was very quiet and I was beginning to wonder whether I'd be given ANYTHING to do when Alice, the woman co-ordinating my work came over.

She said Johann Hari was on the line and wanted to know whether I could help him with some research for an article.

I was more than eager to do anything so she put him through to me.

Johann explained that he wanted to do a comment piece on Exorcism and would I track down an Exorcist for him to interview.

So began my mission.

I first rang up some specialist Catholic papers to see if they had any contacts of the Exorcist variety.

The first guy I spoke to was very helpful and gave me three numbers to try, but he warned me that they were about three years old.

Indeed they proved useless, some didn't even ring through.

So I rang another Catholic paper and was told that it was best if I rang each diocese individaully and asked them if they had an Exorcist.

So I started searching dioceses, in my quest I found a site with a map of Britain with links to each Catholic diocese on these shores.

The first diocese I tried said they would get back to me.

The second had a very lovely old woman who told me that yes they did have an Exorcist called Father Anthony Hayne and she kindly supplied me with his phone number telling me that if I didn't have any luck there was another retired Exorcist in the area that she could get in touch with for me.

I tried ringing Father Anthony Hayne and was greeted to his answer phone with a mobile number, the mobile number again gave me an answer phone message.

Undeterred I continued ringing round dioceses, mainly being told that they woukd get back to me after they had looked into it.

One guy that I rang in Wales rather angrily told me that the identity of Exorcists wasn't public and was only known by the Bishop.

I carried on and reached a guy in Glasgow who told me that they didn't have an Exorcist as such, but a priest who was considered most experienced was appointed if there were a need.

He said there hadn't been that need in Glasgow for twenty years.

During this endless stream of phone calls I also fired off some e-mails to Catholic friends in the vain hope that they could help.

One friend got back to me with details of a book on Exorcism, "The Dark Sacrament", by an Irish priest called David Kiely and in the course of my phone calls I uncovered another book and interview by Father Gabriele Amorth - The Church's Leading Exorcist.

So I'd rung every Catholic diocese in the country, e-mailed every Catholic friend I had and found out a bit about Exorcist literature.

It was now pretty much the end of the day, so I e-mailed Father Anthony Hayne's phone numbers to Johann along with all the other tit bits that I'd uncovered.

On Wednesday his comment piece came out.

I was delighted, he's managed to get through to Father Anthony Hayne all my effort hadn't been in vain.

Here's his final article: The devilish church practice of exorcism

Sunday, 20 January 2008

The Devil's day

I've hit 666 blog readers since I started this blog.

I got 6 6 6 for my SATs results too.

Good job I don't really believe in that stuff.

She wouldn't say boo to a goose.

Our Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has come out as saying in today's Sunday Times that she wouldn't walk alone round London at night.

When I heard them reviewing this article on the radio this morning I couldn't help thinking, what a wuss.

However I thought she is a high profile public figure she is more of a target.

When I met my friend a couple of hours later he had a copy of the Times so I had a chance to read the full article.

And it transpired that Ms. Smith wasn't just talking about how she currently felt walking the streets of London, but how she has always felt.

She wasn't just talking about dodgy areas like Hackney (no offence to anyone who lives there), but even affluent ones like Chelsea.

She even had the cheek, or rather ignorance to go onto say of walking round Hackney late at night: "Well, I just don't think that's a thing that people do, is it, really?" The Sunday Times.


Has she never heard of night buses?

Who does she think is riding on them, you need to walk to a bus stop you know!

Ok I wouldn't deliberately go for a late night walk round Hackney, but I've certainly walked round the area late at night.

There's another reason that I'm irritated by Jacqui Smith's comments: I kind of feel she's letting the side down.

I couldn't help noticing that the Times had slipped into their article: "Smith, the first woman home secretary," I can't help thinking that they wouldn't have added that detail were it not for the detail of the article - though to be honest I can't be sure as I don't read the Times regularly.

Then to make things worse, she back tracked when her aide rang back the Times to say she: "bought a kebab in Peckham" at night.

Maybe I'm just blissfully unaware of the threat to my own safety when I'm out at night, but I usually feel reasonably safe - I certainly wouldn't bat an eyelid at wandering all over Chelsea late at night.

Jacqui you really need to get out more.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Public transport etiquette

Time for an appeal/moan.

I got on the bus the other night and got stuck at the door, well to make it more clear there were a line of people filling up the lower deck of the bus.

I couldn't get past and plenty of people were left waiting at the bus stop so I suppose I was lucky.

Why my interest in getting past the throng of people at the bottom deck of the bus?

Well I wanted to get to the stairwell.


Because it is my experience that people will fill up the bottom deck of buses without going upstairs for a seat.

Finally some people left the bus on the bottom deck and I clearly saw two people coming down from the top deck so I determindly squeezed past the remaining people to make my way upstairs.

When I got upstairs I found not two but at least ten vacant seats, as I had expected.

Here is the thing the people downstairs were perfectly able bodied, I'm not saying that the disabled, infirm and pregnant should be expected to walk upstairs to look for a seat, they could have easily gone upstairs for a seat or if they were determined to stay downstairs gone up the stairwell temporarily to let me pass and find a seat.

It's very infuriating.

Not only are people denied the chance to sit down when there are seats available, but even worse believing the bus to be full the bus driver will stop other people getting on leaving them in the cold to wait for another bus.

So if you find yourself on the bottom deck of a crowded bus at least go and look upstairs for seats, if you can.

Ok, moan/appeal over, sorry to be so dull.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Victoria line to be limited again.

I was shocked while listening to Capital 95.8 last night to hear that they will be restricting the Victoria line service again from the 4th of February.

I use the Victoria line from Brixton tube pretty much every day and was greatly inconvenienced by the last lot of restrictions which ran from July to November last year.

These restrictions will also be lasting till November, though it at least looks like it won't be closed at weekends this time round.

Information on why they are closing the line, again, is in the Capital Radio link above.

So much for any drinks after Uni I've got to make sure I make my connecting train.

There is always the Northern line, but it's horrible at the best of times and is going to be pretty awful with all the extra passengers it's going to be getting.

Curse you London Transport.

Another quick note, I was hoping to be the first one to say this but they pointed it out on Radio Four last night, what have all these details coming out at the Diana inquest actually got to do with the circuymstances of her death?

It is an inquest right?

It's meant to be about how she died not satisfying the public curiosity about the intricate details of her private life.

the mind boggles.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

State of Play

There's nothing that's inspired me in the news today so I'm just going to mouth off about some TV I like.

This Christmas I got an assortment of lovely gifts, one of these lovely gifts was my friend Kelly.

It was a drama called State of Play(careful this link tells you a lot of the plot if you go too far down), which I'd vaguely heard of but not seen before.

So last night I finally got round to opening the DVD up and popping it in my laptop.

I only watched the first episode, because I was exhausted and almost didn't watch it at all, and I was hooked.

There's intrigue from the start and it just gets better.

Plus there's loads of Journalists in it uncovering things and as a Journalism student I heartily approve of that.

Can't wait to watch the next episode, but I wonder if I should pace myself not wizz through it like I did with all four seasons of The Wire (also genius).

I realise some of you reading this may already have seen it when it was on telly, but for anyone who missed it like me run out and buy the DVD now.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Smoking stars give me a break!

Germany's smokers are suggesting that discrimination against smokers is like Nazi anti-Semitism during the Third Reich.

Germany's new smoking ban has prompted the production of T-shirts displaying the Star of David.

More than a thousand of the "smokers' T-shirts" have been sold according to The Independent.

The makers claim that the shirts are "the most aggressive smokers' resistance shirt available" The Independent.

What do they think they're doing?

They're making a mockery of a period of serious Jewish suffering.

No one is going to take you to the gas chamber for lighting up a cigarette.

Plus by encouraging you, banning you even, from lighting up the Government is extending your life.

I find it hard to believe that anyone would think up anything so tasteless.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Shopping is hard work I'll have you know!

Reporting week, a week of sadistic assessment for Westminster journalists, is over and I've been having fun.

First stop, the pub.

Second stop, a posh meal which thanks to me conveniently losing my travel and uni card and ranting I didn't pay for.

Third stop, SHOPPING.

I said to my for these purposes darling mother, hello mum, that I'd like some new clothes.

So she gave me a choice, she braves the shops and gives me stuff for Christmas or she presents me with a crisp cheque and I run around in the sales like a kid in a candy store.

I chose the cheque but what with revising, shorthand and general inertia I didn't reach the shops till Friday - after reporting week.

I met Nargis early Friday morning in Topshop, I didn't leave her company until about 7 or 8.

It was the longest shopping trip I've been on in countless years, I'm normally a very impatient shopper.

I imagined at the start of the day that I would be ambling up and down Oxford Street cursing the fashion industry for not churning out anything that I liked.

After introducing Nargis to Kal Kaur Rai at Topshop (one of my favourite clothing labels) and getting her a nice fitted top from said range we settled down for a coffee and Nargis suggested we go to a place she knew that sold lots of oriental goods.

With my current obsession with Sushi I was delighted by the idea.

So we set off.

Little did I know when she suggested it but the place in question was in Colindale, for those of you that don't know that's the nether reaches of the Northern line.

So I did end up running around like a child in a candy store, well supermarket with candy in it.

I bought lots of Japanese sweets as well as enjoying some Sushi and Sashimi in the food court.

Then after lots of oh look at this isn't it pretty, cute, pointless, we headed back for Covent Garden.

Nargis proved herself a brilliant shopping partner yet again by pointing out a shop to me that I'd never noticed before called Chilli Pepper.

Their clothes are beautiful and they give you really nice material bags for your goods, and we would know as we each walked away with an item of clothing each.

Then finally before I took Nargis to Patisserie Valerie in Soho we made a stop at two comic shops in the area.

And I finally bought the next installment of the graphic novel Painkiller Jane, I've been after it for ages.

Nargis is my new favourite shopping partner.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Sex Pistols Panto...

I read the other day that there is talk of turning a Sex Pistols documentary into a Pantomime.

The Independent reckons this is another nail in the coffin of their credibility.

I disagree.

The Sex Pistols probably did have credibility, but they also had a fair dose of irreverence.

Ultimately though I feel they were a playful band.

I get the impression that Johnny Rotten doesn't take himself too seriously, he might enjoy Panto.

And so might his fans...

What the Sex Pistols probably wouldn't be impressed with me for mentioning is the discrimination case that has just been lost by Nadia Eweida.

Nadia Eweida has been fighting British Airways for discriminating against her for not letting her wear religious jewellery.

I have to say the woman has a point.

You can't let Muslims wear headscarves and Sikhs bangles if you're not going to let a Christian wear a cross.

A cross is surely no more an impediment to the job than a head scarf or bangle.

One rule for all or not at all!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Lenny Henry's back on top

I went to see the first two Radio 4 recordings of Rudy's Rare Records last night.

It starred Lenny Henry as Adam, Rudy's (the owner of Rudy's Rare Records music shop) son.

I was brought up on Lenny Henry, I love Lenny Henry, but in the last couple of years his performances have got a bit predictable.

I enjoyed Rudy's Rare Records immensely.

It wasn't ground breaking, it wasn't the Holy Grail of comedy, but it was funny.

I laughed, a lot.

It was well observed and quite, dare I say it, sweet.

To my mind Rudy was the best thing in it, but there were sterling performances by all.

I've never been to a radio recording before so it was a new experience for me.

We were herded into a small room with a small bar and some chairs where we waited to be called through to get our seats.

The seats aren't alloted so its first come first served and we were lucky enough to get seats right at the front.

Although I must admit, I was a little nervous that we might get picked on, as is the case with Comedian shows.

Indeed the front row came in for a bit of comment.

Lenny refused to believe that most of us were from Brixton.

Just because we is white doesn't mean we ain't ghetto...


Ok, so I'm not funny.

The performance itself was very different to seeing a play.

The actors have the script in front of them and aren't dressed up so you have to suspend your disbelief a bit, even more than on the radio because you're not working from a blank canvas.

It did mean however that I got to see Adam's son's boxers as the actor in question had trousers hanging lower than even my youngest brother's.

It's brilliant that you can go and see shows for free.

I was delighted to find out that we weren't just going to see one, but two episodes, after the end of the first.

The show is due to air in February and I for one will be tuning in to hear it.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Is it convenience?

Technology is there to make life easier, but you have to worry when it gets this easy.

Over the Christmas season when we'd run out of Turkey I nipped to the shops and picked up a stick of garlic bread, quite innocently.

When it came time to put it in the oven my Dad collapsed into a fit of giggles, my aunty Jen smirked and I wondered what the hell was going on.

It transpired that on the back of the garlic bread packet there was a panel which you put alongside a clever oven and it would sort out the cooking for you!

Not enough to just have cooking instructions, just in case you can't read you can get technological wizadry to sort out your cooking for you.

Then the next day I was watching the TV and an advert came on that claimed that 1 in 4 women read their pregnancy test incorrectly.

How hard can it be!

So now there is a new, and probably more expensive, pregnancy test that pops up with a digital message saying Pregnant.

Ok, I need help doing things with my computer sometimes, but I can manage cooking instructions and deciphering the meaning of a blue line.

If you use these...

Never mind, I can't be bothered.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

New Year is weird...

I spent my new year in a club in Brixton called: How Does It Feel To Be Loved.

It was a fun night I got my dance on and did lots of twirls with Kelly and Liz.

I didn't get a snog, which is not that surprising but mildly irksome - I hope that isn't a suggestion of things to come in 2008.

Yah I can say that now, we're in 2008, great!


Yes I'm hungover, drank a fair few Sambucas last night amongst other things.

So what can I expect of 2008: well, no more mice (not before they started eating my knickers though), a flowerless Peace Lilly - it's got lots of luscious leaves though, as for the rest..?

New Years bongs were a bit weird when played through a club sound system, I want Big Ben, I want fireworks.

New Years always feels a little anti-climatic anyway, so...

Please excuse me while I crawl off into a corner and rock.