Tuesday, 28 August 2007

What's your favourite biscuit?

Good weekend? I hope everybody made the most of the bank holiday sun here in Blighty...I went jumping, saw family, played pool, drank Pimms, took in some local art and had a thoroughly splendid few days. Even better, I didn't have to go into work today. Ahhhh.

You would think that having a week off work (well, between jobs) would set my blogging senses a-tingling. The sad fact is that, faced with all this free time, I'd rather catch up with friends, read a good book and sit on my rump watching movies...Am I a bad person?

Lazy I may be but there's no rest for the wicked, even my lethargy gets interrupted....Some may wonder why I called my blog "The Fishbowl". I live in a rather picturesque village in Cambridgeshire, opposite an old church and just down the road from charming village square (and requisite pub, of course). Anyway all this wholesome ruralness brings hundreds of tourists to the area and every summer the nearby campsite is heaving with people. And they all end up walking past my living room (not to mention nicking my parking....). It's like a bloody goldfish bowl in here at the minute. This, coupled with my next door neighbour's apparently insatiable fetish for DIY means I almost wish I was back at work, if only for the peace and quiet.

I had to go and sort out some bank stuff today. My first stop was to ask for an overdraft on my current account (I'm due to go on holiday soon and do not trust myself with a credit card but thought I should have some contingency in case of an emergency). I duly prepared a story about why I wanted an overdraft and made sure to take my recent offer letter in order to show Mr Bankman that I was an upstanding young lady, a sensible (and above all frugal) specimen soon to be in full-time employment. All for nothing. The cashier supplied me with with the smallest available overdraft in under a minute, whilst making sure to remind me that I could borrow another couple of grand in the blink of an eye, "No problem madam". No wonder we Brit's are all wallowing in debt, its so easy to take the plunge.

Hmm, all this wrangling over the EU treaty....Even a significant number of Brown's buddies don't like the fact that the Great British public are to be denied their democratic rights over Europe (as the issue currently stands). I do not know enough about the proposals to start foaming at the mouth but the thought that my fellow countrymen who do (know about the treaty I mean, as opposed to foam) will just be dismissed out of hand is somewhat disturbing.

According to Liverpudlian research many single portions of takeaway and restaurant cuisine, including fish and chips, pizza, Chinese and Indians, contain more calories than the recommended amount for an entire day. Trading standards are now thinking about making establishments list the calorific and nutritional value of their food. Good grief, we all know that this kind of food is high in everything that's bad for us, hence why it tastes so good and we're prepared to have somebody else prepare it for us and pay accordingly. What would become of romance on a date if, whilst you order that mouth-watering meat feast, all your partner has to do is glance at the menu to work out how many pounds you'll be piling on? Yuck...

During my final day at work last week some of my colleagues poked fun at the nice lady in accounts who, of all the munches in all the world, prefers a good ole custard cream..."They're alright when you're a kid but they're a bit naff now aren't they?". Well Mandy, you're not alone. The custard cream has been voted the nation's favourite biscuit in a survey taken by manufacturers Trufree. A whopping 93 per cent of those asked (some 7,000 biscuit lovers) voted for it, with the bourbon, cookie and gingernut picking up the rear...What's your favourite biscuit? (I'm a glutton for the underrated chocolate digestive myself).

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Camel love - again

What d'ya know.....The Simpsons are in the dictionary, Facebook's the new crack (ok, so you knew that...) and ditch that old Peruvian fertility statue - its all about the camels...

The current edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations, out today, features three top pulls from the show:

"Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try." Homer Simpson.

"Kids are the best, Apu. You can teach them to hate the things you hate. And they practically raise themselves, what with the internet and all." Homer Simpson.

"Bonjour, you cheese-eating surrender monkeys". Groundskeeper Willie.

Words of wisdom/appropriate salutations for all...

According to IT security firm Sophos, nearly half of all office staff are prohibited from using the social networking site Facebook during working hours. Unsurprisingly, a number of banks have now reportedly banned their workers from using the site.

I am a prolific Facebook user and as a result I tend to agree with these professional misgivings. You can happily waste a few hours of your life browsing through other peoples photo albums and looking up old friends/colleagues...Not to mention the dizzying multitude of silly applications to play with. (I'm ecstatic after discovering online Scrabble). No wonder employers are banning it - if you're not careful (and you have enough friends, of course) you might not been seen for days after logging on.

The pro argument is that Facebook proves a valuable work tool - networking businesses as well as casual acquaintances. Uh huh. Apparently companies are split over allowing access to the site (viz. those already on Facebook vs the uninitiated and unwashed).

Graham Cluley from Sophos said: "Some believe it to be a procrastinator's paradise, while others either view it as a valuable networking tool or are too nervous of an employee backlash if they suddenly block it."

Now there's a thought....Should work be so cruel as to ban 'Crackbook' then you know what to do...Workers of the world unite!

Finally Indian farmer Nanu Ram Jogi is on his 21st child - at the sprightly age of 90. The go-getting nonagenarian has four wives and has lost count of the number of grandchildren he has, yet vows to continue fathering kids until he's 100. Jogi puts his virility down to exercise, red meat and a daily dose of camel's milk. There you have it - if you desire a similar brood and wish to over-populate our crowded planet just that little bit more then four wives and a lactating dromedary should do it.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Skinny celebs and climate change

Keira Knightley has been gabbing away to the Radio Times about fame, public image and her acting skills. Back on cinema screens soon in September, Knightley gave a frank review of her acting skills (dubious) and railed against popular opinion about her good looks. She said: "Somebody goes, 'Gosh, you're pretty.' Thanks. I've got good genes! OK, I'm on the cover of a magazine but somebody else does the hair, and the make-up, and airbrushes the f*** out of me".

All this self degradation does wonders for her image as a straight talking siren amidst a sea of pampered Hollywood divas, I'm sure. Nothing against the lovely lady (she's only famous, thin, beautiful, rich - all at the same age as me...) but I find it hard to take someone this emaciated seriously....

James is musing over the merits of last weeks Climate Change Camp and asks whether it was really worth the effort...I'm on the fence as far as global warming goes. Our fossil fuel emissions may or may not be doing irreversible harm to the planet...But either way I believe in respecting our rock and trying to do our bit - recycling, sharing lifts etc.. - to make it a nicer place. Look at Beijing, covered in smog thanks to human pollution...

(Yeah yeah, I know, if I REALLY cared about the Earth I'd stop jumping out of planes for fun...mm).

Anyway, these letters into the Telegraph made me smile:

Sir - I fail to see why I should be forced to pay an extra tax on my holiday flights simply because there has been a change in solar activity.

Dr P. J. Lane, London.

Sir - Isn't it ludicrous to see people wearing anoraks and woolly hats in the middle of summer while protesting about global warming?

Professor Stanley Feldman, London SW3.

When I grow up I want to be a culinary artist

Education, education, education. A topic rarely out of the press right now, not because of Labour's triumphant reforms but because primary school children are struggling to read, write and add up, yet their older brothers and sisters are leaving compulsory education with top marks. The Government expects these school leavers to go on to university to study for another three years - any university, any type of study, because, as we all know, higher education is a sign of success and the more graduates of higher education the more successful Labour's educational policy.

Hmm. Despite my criticisms, as a product of the comprehensive system and a university education all this talk about dumbed down schooling makes me feel a little uneasy - if A/A* grade students are not as smart as they seem, what does that say about average Joe's like me? I have always been a "B grade" student - enthusiastic and happy to learn and put in academic effort but too often seduced by other activities throughout my education (boys, sport or beer) to slog away for the top grade. But I don't consider myself or my contemporaries stupid or unworthy of their qualifications.

Enough self justification - I took a history degree, worked hard and enjoyed it. If I was leaving school now, however, maybe my choice would be different. I quite fancy the look of Science: Fiction and Culture or Martial Arts and Adventure Tourism. These are two of the "mickey mouse" degrees currently taught in our universities that have come under fire from the TaxPayers' Alliance. (Both of which would probably have about as much chance of landing me a job as my history degree). Token subjects they may be but they suit both the universities' and the Government's needs. The rub being that, according the Alliance, these courses are subsidised by £40 million pa of tax payers money.

I'm all for vocational training instead of further education. University is not for everyone (even if the Government says it it) and experience really is the best way to learn a trade. But it is ingrained in Britain's school culture that a degree is a must-have badge of superiority and this needs to be revised. In the meantime us lowly arts students look forward to battling it out with the Equestrian Psychology and Golf Management grads out there in the real world.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Never smile at a camel

And you thought next door's Jack Russell was bad...

I'm as much a glutton for scandal and tat as the next Torygraph reader and have to admit to raising a smirk (heartless wench, I know) at today's unfortunate report (and equally unfortunate headline), "Pet camel kills woman 'trying to have sex'".

An unnamed Australian woman was crushed to death by her 330lbs camel, given to her as a birthday present as the lady was apparently fond of foreign beasts. The animal knocked her to the ground, lay on top of her and, one can only assume, exerted itself. Camel experts have advised police that it was most likely trying to mate with the poor woman.

While I have every sympathy for the lady's family let that be a lesson to adventurous animal lovers - you might want to stick to hamsters in the future (oh, and never smile at a camel...).

Deprived dromedary seeks durable hump.

I want the name of Pete Doherty's publicity agent so I can make a complaint against them for wasting police time. Bobbies - for goodness sake, either incarcerate the chap and force him to clean himself up or leave him be, editors - stop wasting copy space on the same old transgressions.

I was genuinely shocked on Saturday morning to read of the passing of Bill Deedes at the ripe old age of 94. I remember being in awe after learning that the witty diarist I so enjoyed was in his nineties, thinking, 'he's made it this far, surely he'll go on forever'. I shan't go overboard on detail, anyone wishing to learn more about this true 'giant of journalism' should pop over to the DT and read through some of the articles and letters left in tribute to Dear Bill. Relic of a bygone era he was often antisocial and intimatly awkward - though despite his faults he will be remembered as for the astute, funny journalist and compassionate humanitarian that he was, with a seriously good innings to boot. He will be sadly missed and should remain an inspiration to us all.

Friday, 17 August 2007

What a wonderful world

A survey by Virgin Travel Insurance has revealed what the rest of us know to be true (deep down in our souls): British holidaymakers are a load of uncultured, ungrateful dolts when they want to be (that's right, I mean you Mr Socks-and-sandals).

Thousands of British tourists were asked about their visits to well-known attractions and rated domestic and worldwide let-downs as follows...

The most disappointing global sights:

1. The Eiffel Tower - "frustratingly overcrowded and overpriced"
2. The Louvre (Mona Lisa)
3. Times Square
4. Las Ramblas, Spain
5. Statue of Liberty
6. Spanish Steps, Rome
7. The White House
8. The Pyramids, Egypt
9. The Brandenburg Gate, Germany
10. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

I've only seen three of these - Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower (oh and the Brandenburg Gate when I was too young to care) but I disagree with the scorn that's been heaped upon them. The Eiffel Tower remains an iconic French symbol because of its great shape and its impressive architecture and history. But be realistic - its a symmetrical iron monument, not a fairground ride.

Times Square? Again what do you expect? A busy thoroughfare, it's packed with bustling New Yorkers going to-and-fro, fifteen gazillion McDonald's and a forest skyscrapers and neon advertising - I was impressed, it's like Piccadilly but a damn sight cleaner.

The Statue of Liberty is my only concession - on the outside it's still impressive, like the Eiffel Tower, a testament to French design and craftsmanship. However like many a dumb tourist I decided to climb up it. Don't bother - two hours stuck on staircase inside a hot metal object with hundreds of sweaty tourists certainly is disappointing.

And the UKs most dismal attractions:

1. Stonehenge - "just a load of old rocks"
2. The Angel of the North
3. Blackpool Tower
4. Lands' End
5. The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain
6. The London Eye
7. Brighton Pier
8. Buckingham Palace
9. The White Cliffs of Dover
10. Big Ben.

Again, those 'sights' that I've seen around our great isle I have appreciated for their historical/cultural/structural value...A load of old rocks indeed! Sections of the standing stones of Stonhenge are estimated to be around 4,000 years old and though we're none the wiser as to the monument's purpose it still looks funky...

I was sceptical about the London Eye before gazing upon it (because it is, after all, just a giant fairground ride...) but have reformed my opinion in light of its smooth design (and sheer size) and the fact that it looks so distinctive/hip in the London sprawl...

Buckingham Palace and Big Ben...Er...These are two structures which embody our country's very special political character - monarchy and parliamentary rule. But at the end of the day what do you expect of buildings? The Palace has always served for the monarchy and the clock still tells the time - I don't think the designers had London's teeming tourism trade in mind when they concieved either edifice...

And Lands' End and the White Cliffs of Dover..? They're geographical landmarks for goodness sake - blame nature for your disappointment...

I think this 'disappointment' is really our own fault - high expectations without any education about the place in question. Maybe if people took the time to learn about where they are, they might appreciate the view a little more....But Brits will always find a load of old rocks in Borobudur far more interesting than a load of old rocks back home because they're "exotic, innit?" and they've had to spend thousands of pounds and fly thousands of miles to get there...(but I bet you just can't get a good egg and chips....).

Thursday, 16 August 2007

The most annoying thing in the world

We've all been there...You've had the mother of bad days at work/school/uni and want nothing more than the sweet surrender of sleep. Just as you're nodding off to satisfying dreams of bludgeoning the boss next door cranks up the tunes. Three hours later and Cliff Richard/Sepulchura/Mr Blobby lyrics are etched behind your eyelids and that same track is not getting any better for the 80th listen. The bloody image of your boss has now been replaced by visions of garroting your next-door neighbour.

Noise pollution/disruption is becoming a growing problem in this country - one that many people are either too polite/scared to tackle (especially if it involves their immediate neighbours). It's heartening to hear about someone fighting back....

Brian Turner was grassed up to Newcastle-upon-Tyne's night watch team by an exasperated neighbour after playing the same song on repeat, at full volume, between the hours of one and four am. Bizarrely enough his chosen serenade - early one May morning - was Last Christmas by Wham! Who wouldn't have cracked? Turner has now been fined £200 and ordered to pay £215 damages.

I have every sympathy for those who have to suffer such torture (often on a nightly basis) - and make no mistake, it is torture. There were stories a few years ago of occupying allied troops forcing Afghans and Iraqis to listen to heavy metal - namely Metallica - to divulge their secrets. The magical irony of music is that one man's Wham! can be another man's Mozart - if I was sat down and made to listen to Metallica for hours I'd be rocking out!

No...my torment came in quite another form (give me James Hetfield any day) - the vile burpings and bleepings of the "most annoying thing in the world", 2005s Crazy Frog....

I made the mistake in my second year of university of living with two girls who, despite outward appearances, were actually obnoxious harpies masquerading as human beings (bitter....me?). They played the Axel F track repeatedly, on max volume, on my sound system (hence the bitterness, I had stupidly offered up my stereo for communal use). When I asked for them to turn it down I was ignored and told to "F**k off" (viz, obnoxious harpies). I honestly thought I was going to go mad listening to that garbage morning, noon and night. They played it so loudly that people from the end of the street came knocking to ask them to turn it down.

Eventually they got bored and I moved out. But still, if I had my way inconsiderate pigs of this ilk would be blindfolded, deprived of sleep AND food and made to listen to their favourite dirges over and over until they show sufficient signs of repentance (i.e. screaming for the end, mewling for their mothers etc...).

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Getting back to reality....slowly...

Alright, now I feel guilty for not blogging for the past few days but in my defence I've been distracted, consumed by adrenaline. I spent the weekend jumping out of planes, which was nice (apart from one silly landing which resulted in a rather sore shin and a grass coloured jumpsuit - stylish) and the remainder of my waking hours on tenterhooks waiting to hear back after a job interview (yes, that's right, a real, grown up job that I actually want...Stop sniggering at the back there...).

Excuse this lazy, mish-mash of a post - its mid week but my head's still up in the clouds...

47 year-old family man Garry Newlove was beaten to death by a bunch of delinquents outside his own home last week. We all found this news heartbreaking but not, I fear, surprising. No right-minded, law abiding, paid up (ahem) member of society could feel anything but anger that such a tragic outcome resulted from the hands of violent teenage morons. I'm angry, so I'll happily call them scum. Telegraph columnist Jan Moir doesn't stoop to my level but she comes close, echoing the frustration of her countrymen in a very emotive comment piece in today's paper.

In the light of Mr Newlove's death Chief Constable Peter Fahy (Cheshire) has called for parents to get their act together, for the price of alcohol to be increased (booze being an undisputed catalyst for yobbish behaviour) and the legal drinking age upped to 21. Most importantly he suggests that drinking in public, on the streets, be criminalised. Sound advice. Meanwhile the Government has ordered (another) policy review - this time of the 24-hour drinking law (Mr Brown's getting very good at reviewing previous Labour initiatives and making sure everybody knows about it...).

Ms Moir ends her article in referance to the killing, saying: " Citizens have got to be better protected from the murderous instincts of these roaming, vile brutes than this, but where do we start?". I suggest that instead of being handed ASBOs these young criminals should be disciplined in a time-honoured, tried and tested fashion. I'd like to hear a good argument against reinstating national service (who needs human rights and freedom of choice anyway..?). Her Majesty's forces will look after you lads....

After all, where else will these senseless leeches be put to good use (in the short term)?

They might win the lottery of course...Like one very lucky postal worker from Glasgow. Single mum Angela Kelly, 40, scooped £35.4 million in last weeks EuroMillions draw and will reportedly be saying a firm fairwell to her 21k nine to five. Who could blame her and who cares if money "changes" her? She's bound to behave differently to some degree, she's loaded - have fun lady...

What would you do if you became a millionaire overnight?

Friday, 10 August 2007

Friday fun

A couple of pics that I've thieved off the net for your amusement....

I just thought that this baby hyena, from Cerza conservation park, France, was too darned cute...

A piece of graffiti mysteriously left on St Michaels Hill, Bristol, attributed to one Mr Banksy (he might be a sell out but he's still on the money...)

The grapes of wrath/stonking hangovers

Lager sales are falling as hip, cool and trendy Britons refine their tastes, market analysts Mintel confirm today. Since 2005 lager sales have fallen by five per cent, whereas sales of rose wine are up 188 per cent on two years ago.

According to Mintel and fellow prognosticators, beer with continue to fall out of favour with the Great British public as young working women see wine as more sophisticated.

Yuck. I can't think of a less tantalising tipple. Many people have a particular poison that, to them, is just that (everyone remembers when Johnny - or someone like him - challenged his mates to a Raiders style tequila contest and ended up being copiously sick, he hasn't touched the stuff since...). Mine happens to be rose wine. I was 17 and stupid, staying round a friend's for the night when we found the stash of wine her parents brought back from Spain. After polishing off three bottles between us we stayed up all night setting the world to rights (as only teenagers can) got about four hours sleep and woke up with well earned hangovers and carpeted mouths (have I mentioned my carpet gnome theory...? He works while you are sleeping...). Now even a whiff of rose makes me pale, can't stand it.

I would do anything for a drink, to paraphrase Meatloaf, but I won't do that. Give me a nice glass of Merlot or an IPA any day.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Losing weight is hard to do....

I read yesterday that the NHS spends just under £1 million every single week on prescription weight loss drugs. Crazy. Every day the cost a furnished house (up North) is spent on getting people to eat a little less.

I lump smoking and over eating in the same category. Both are psychological problems and any health issues that arise as a result are the fault of the individual. I've both smoked and binged my eyeballs out in the past, however, should I be diagnosed with cancer (possible) or morbid obesity (less likely) later in life I'd like to think I will not rely on welfare (aka others hard earned taxes) - easier said than done, I know. But it's been my choice to fill my body with poisons and fat, it should be seen as my responsibility when life then goes tits up as a consequence of my own stupidity.

Food is becoming just as pernicious as smoking - doctors have already made noises about taxing unhealthy food but to no avail. People don't need to smoke whereas they do need to eat - and who has the authority to dictate whether they tuck into a chicken salad or a KFC chicken bucket? (I do think no VAT/lower prices on healthy food is a sensible policy though) But eating healthily/less is not unrealistic for overweight people - it just takes change in the way they view food and a little faith.

At the end of 2005 18 year-old Daniel Sadler from South Glamorgan weighed a mega 26 stone. After a year and a half of eating sensibly he's managed to loose an astonishing 13 stone! Daniel's gone from a diet of full English breakfasts, pizzas and chips (not to mention the whopping 24 bags of crisps he consumed each day) to salads and jacket potatoes to help shift the weight, along with playing more sport. He's now been awarded £2,000 by Slimming World and named Young Slimmer of 2007. An added bonus, he's also getting noticed by the ladies.
If an 18 year-old lad can pull his socks up and manage to drop half his own body weight surely every other overweight fatty out there can make some effort. Nice one Daniel.

101 things to do with trees

What comes into your mind when you think Tory? Scarily, the first thing I think of is the Spitting Image puppet of Margaret Thatcher...It traumatised me as a child....Closely followed by Mr Cameron's vaguely smiling mug (Brand Dave has done a pretty good job of fixing him in the middle class consciousness, at least).

I think blue, I think of miners and philanderers and all these historical images of Conservative highs and lows flash behind my eyes. I don't, however, think of the new Tory logo, a "bunch of broccoli" as Lord Tebbit put it. Before reading about it in today's DT I'd forgotten what the logo actually looked like (thinking instead of the traditional flaming torch).

The environmental symbol/kiddie's doodle has changed with the seasons, turning gold in autumn and bearing blossom in spring and now it's gone blue. Earlier in the week the Tory tree was unveiled in it's new sky blue guise and rumours are now rife that the move was made to woo hardliners back into the fold.

What a load of speculative rubbish...As if embittered Tories give a monkeys what the party logo looks like (they're too busy off in a dark corner somewhere, plotting Dave's ultimate humiliation). The Conservative marketing team were just bored/pissed over lunch and thought this version looked pretty. I actually think the sunlight and sky background is quite pleasant and has instant appeal (viz, look at that clear blue sky, I wish I was jumping). I doubt they had skydivers in mind when they chose it though. No doubt it'll serve as a springboard for criticism however, "Dave's got his head in the clouds" etc...A change may well be as good as a rest but come on chaps, you need to regain some initiative not break out the crayons.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

More than meets the eye

I went to go and see Transformers last night....After a couple of technical hiccups - the projectionist decided to treat us all to the trailers and first five minutes of Shrek 3 (nearly loosing a couple of limbs as a result of his incompetence, we were impatient) - my brain spent a couple of hours in complete shut down.


I never watched the cartoons or bought the toys - way before my time (the tv series was out in 1984, I was born the following year) - but have managed to pick up the gist from my cohort of geeky male friends. It's about a bunch of alien robots who can transform into vehicles and other objects, some of whom are good (Autobots), some of whom are evil and want to destroy the human race (Decepticons). Simple stuff. I was, however, still sceptical that a load of Citroen rejects could hold my attention for a whole feature (and Shia La Beouf looks about 12 for goodness sake...). Boy was I wrong.

There's little to say apart from you must see this film. The plot is a load of rubbish and the characterisation is 2D and predictable - and I didn't care one jot. The first half of the film is funny nonetheless and the second half sheer eye candy....

The CGI, courtesy of good old ILM, is astounding. Absolutely gobsmacking. Both Autobots and Decepticons look, sound and feel real. The character development may be rushed and the Autobots' dialogue limited but by the end of the film you're rooting for the heroic Optimus Prime and his gang because of their stoicism (and the fact that they look so damned real)...I fell in love with Bumblebee and the hunk of metal doesn't talk for most of the film (and I've always hated Chevy's....).

The military kit is equally impressive - there are a shed load of very real, very shiny toys to feast your eyes on, from Osprey choppers, F-117s, F-22 Raptors, Hercs - the lot.

Don't go and see Transformers expecting an award winning screenplay but don't write it off as a kids movie either. There's plenty of adult humour to keep mum and dad chuckling in between the action.

In short, a decent family movie with adult undertones (global responsibility etc..) that is visually awesome. If you can't appreciate this movie for it's theatricals go crawl back under your rock - you don't deserve the gift of sight.

As I walked out into the afternoon sun and got into my car I couldn't help wishing there was something more to my Clio than meets the eye - ah, the magic of cinema. (Then reality kicked in, Transformers actually have taste....)

Monday, 6 August 2007


Unlike those decent souls who feel the need to absolve themselves (not everyone's a cantankerous dwarf like me, believe it or not - James has been having an crisis of conscience recently) I have no virtuous reason for not blogging as much over the past couple of weeks - I have simply been doing other things (like moping about my personal life, fervently job hunting and jumping out of planes).

After months of depressingly damp weather we've just a weekend of scorching heat. I now resemble a rock lobster with third degree burns and would appreciate being left in a pool somewhere to cool down.

I hope everyone enjoyed themselves. I was sat on a drop zone hoping to skydive, amidst the honking wind. Not one to be disheartened, when I did jump I cracked out my new freefly jumpsuit for a giggle - the height of haute couture, my new suit is head to toe cow print. After someone questioned whether I was allowed to roam given recent events I had to point out that the foot and mouth ban applied to ruminants on the ground - the muppets at DeFRA neglected to consider the possibility of free falling livestock - ha! Catch me now boys!

I am not the religious type and often relish in ribbing the more ridiculous antics of organised faiths (see below) but now I'm getting a tad twitchy....Floods, plagues, what next? When's that nice bloke with the beard and the sandals coming over?

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Wheels and spin

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a raging bull...? No, it's only Boris....But wait - where's his bike?

The kooky contender for Ken's crown has written a lovely piece in today's DT detailing the recent theft of his trusty bicycle and subsequent frustration with the authorities.

I have no doubt the incident was simply a case of bad fortune but you've got to admit, Boris is doing a good job of appealing to prospective voters (he's especially hot on transport as it is). The London cyclist is now a social stereotype all of its own...(and barmy if you ask me...but good one them).

Sympathetic as I am to the loss of Mr Johnson's speedy silver Marin Sausalito after he went to such lengths to secure it, that's what you get for leaving a £700 bike on the streets of the smoke, mate. I doubt you'll see it on eBay anytime soon.

However, I'd be more than happy to proffer Boris my own bike if he's desperate. It's still functional after 12 years of childhood knocks and rural abuse and comes in a rather fetching shade of cerise pink.

Elsewhere in the Torygraph Alice Thomson has given an excellent summary of wee Gordon's public image. I think she's spot on here - our stoic PM has done a splendid job branding himself without doing much politically. Despite announcing a raft of reviews into society's vices I'm yet to find enlightenment in the Governments housing/education/health agenda. But whereas David Cameron has been all spun out, Mr Brown's busy winding himself up tight into the paradigm of stuffy virtue.

If Gordon would only let loose and tell the English public exactly what he thinks of them, I'd furnish him with a lifetime's supply of nice blue ties to wear.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Playing God

Next time you shoot through Wal-Mart to pick up some ammo (ha, sorry) don't forget to get a little something for the kids. The American retailer will soon be stocking Biblical toys in a bid to rival Barbie, Bratz and a swathe of superhero favourites.

The toys, manufactured by West coast company One2Believe, will be marketed in the South and Midwest US, appealing to the religious right. Figures include Jesus, Noah, Moses, Goliath and Mary (pictured below with Joseph and the infant Christ, who, disturbingly, reminds me of Chucky....).

David Socha, One2Believe's CEO, is touting the dolls as "real superheroes", laying heavy criticism on popular competitors. "If you walk down the toy aisles you see a lot of reproductions of Satan, or dolls that promote promiscuity", he said.

I'm no big fan of some of the tat on today's shelves - Bratz dolls are quite possibly the work of the Devil - however Mr Socha's figures represent a small, well-known collective of Biblical characters (sorry, reproductions of historical figures, ahem) - where are the Delilahs and the Jezebels...?

I've got nothing against the range - they'll answer the prayers of many a God-fearing child or concerned parent. But surely, in a kid's mind, its only so long before playing Daniel and the lion gets boring and the lion fancies a spot of lunch. "Faith-enriching toys" they may be but even good Christian children have an imagination - I'll wager it won't be long before Noah falls overboard, Mary gets a haircut (or ritual decapitation), or Samson (below) goes in search of some superhero arse to kick. Samson vs. Spidey, who's your money on?