Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Geoff Vader

Just got this sent to my funwall or sillywall or whatever new wall version is now hip on Facebook. It's been around for a while but brightened up what has been a pretty crap couple of weeks recently, combining as it does Lego and Eddie Izzard. Smashing!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Auld Reekie

I started writing this post in bed last night, as Ali was out on the lash in rain-swept Wantage and there was only so much ironing I could take. I wasn't watching the football, of course (but I did take the opportunity to have an early 90s self indulgent wallow on the Squeezebox. It's been ages since I listened to the Gene album Olympian - some of the tracks have not aged particularly well, but others such Sleep Well Tonight and the title track are still quite thrilling). I did feel slightly Carrie Bradshaw-ish as I lay propped up on pillows, laptop balanced on the duvet; but I'm sure the effect was ruined by the big cardie I was wearing over my pyjamas. More Miss Marple than Sex and the City...

The hallowed Oxford BarIt's been a funny old few weeks really. We had a great time up in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago for my Dad's 60th. Mum and I had arranged the whole weekend to be a surprise for him, so though he knew Mum and he were booked in for the weekend, he didn't know that Ali and I would turn up (to meet them at the bus stop on Waverley Bridge at 8.30am on Saturday morning, brrrrr...); that my brother and his girlfriend would also be there; that we were treating him and Mum to a slap up meal at the Witchery in the evening; and that on the Sunday 2 sets of their closest friends were also arriving in town to take him and Mum out in the evening. I think all the surprises and emotion of the weekend got to him a bit in the end (or maybe that was the champagne and copious amounts of ale Ali was determined to get him to 'experience' in various Edinburgh pubs). It was a fantastic weekend though - I love Edinburgh and would quite happily move up there for good if there were any jobs available that we could do and that paid us well enough to afford more than a grimy bedsit. Despite the good old BBC online weather forecast predicting heavy rain all weekend, it was actually glorious - biting cold, but bright and crisp with a vivid blue sky and great views from up at the Castle down onto the city.

Since then we've done our Christmas shopping (braving the twin horrors of Oxford city centre on a pre-yule Saturday & John Lewis Home and Leisure store in High Wycombe on the same day. Yikes), put up some pictures (finally) and generally gone about our day to day business much as usual. Up to Hawick this weekend to see the family. It feels a bit like pre-Christmas limbo before the frantic hurdy-gurdy of December. Quite pleasant, really, though a sort of uneasy anticipation about the whole thing. At least we can get the Christmas tree soon and put up the fairy lights! Yay!

(Dictionary.com word of the day today is "deipnosophist": one skilled in table talk. Nice!)

Monday, 5 November 2007

Disgruntled from Abingdon

Weekends for me are becoming more and more contented in the run up to Christmas. I think it's mainly to do with the clocks going back - suddenly it's inky dark at 5pm and a good excuse to stop whatever chores have had to be done during the day and settle in front of the fire, or start cooking a luxuriously comforting casserole (we had slow cooked venison, marinaded in red wine, redcurrant jelly, cider vinegar, juniper and allspice berries and lots of woody herbs on Saturday night. Served with mash and cavolo nero, it was YUM). It's started to get cold - still not *really* cold enough to justify a real fire, but I love having one and so my eco-credentials take a bit of a bashing in the winter when the coal bucket and log basket get filled 2 or 3 times a week. Last night and this morning the fog came down, and looking out of our living room window at night when the streetlamps are lit, when all you can see is the yellowy glow contrasting with the white cloudiness, you get a whiff of Victorian Abingdon. The effect is better in the conservation area around Abingdon School and Albert Park, where the streetlamps really are Victorian cast iron (or very good reproductions), the modern cars are parked away in garages and the houses are huge, posh and gorgeous. However if you look out of our window when the lower shutter is closed, the foggy view of terraces in the street opposite ours is almost as good.

November is shaping up to be no different from the rest of the year to date, in that we are busy visiting / being visited. In a couple of weeks we have the second free weekend in as many months (astounding, what's going on??) and this has been earmarked for Christmas shopping ahead of a trip up to the Scottish Borders to see Ali's folks in late November. Which means a few evenings of sitting on the floor, sipping red wine by the fire, wrapping paper all around, random lengths of sellotape stuck to every surface, SCD on the telly (you didn't think I'd let a post go by without at least one mention did you?) and a warm glow everywhere.

So what's with the miffed-sounding post title then? Well, yesterday, we sat down to watch Top Gear at 8pm as no doubt many households around the UK did. Fire going, bellies full, ready to enjoy a last bit of relaxation before the week ahead. I normally don't mind Top Gear, despite the display of laddishness, misogyny, racism, anti-environmental sentiment and homophobia of the three presenters. I think a lot of this (with the exception of Jeremy Clarkson) is put on for the cameras and anyway it's just telly after all, usually entertaining telly at that.

But last night they were on a 'Top Gear Challenge'. What utter bollocks. Driving around Botswana in 3 old bangers, followed by a crew in 4x4s to cater for their every comfort and make sure there was enough hot water after a night's 'camping' to ensure they got a proper shave. I can understand why they'd do challenges in new super-cars - after all it's escapism and I guess informative if you're into cars. But this was just silly. There was a bit of an outcry in July when it was discovered the 3 heroes were going to be trekking over the Makgadikgadi salt pans in totally unsuitable vehicles and there was a scene where they ignored all existing tracks and drove the most direct route through the wildlife to get to the nearest petrol station. I bet there were a few scared monkeys that day. But apart from all that, it's the pointlessness of it that gets me. Yes, OK, there were mildly amusing bits, Richard Hammond's yelps as he sank trying to ford a river being one. But really, what a waste of our license fee. Hence the title - because this level of petty sniping is really best left to Points of View or the Telegraph letters page. And for one who watches a wide variety of both quality and crap tv, I'm hardly one to talk about what constitutes a waste of the license fee...

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Save our bacon

"Careless pork costs lives"

I'm not normally an advocate for reading the red tops, but this headline struck me as really quite witty. For the Sun. It heads an article with news of the World Cancer Research Fund report, saying that eating processed meat like pork sausages, bacon and ham boosts the risk of bowel cancer. Quite depressing really but good on the Sun for making a good headline out of it. (The Mirror's take was "Have a long, healthy and miserable life". Even more depressing.)