Sunday, 31 January 2010

The flaws of the iPhone

In light of much iPhone adoration, following the arrival (almost) of the iPad, I feel it only just to point out that failings of my beloved.

The lack of the ability to run things in the background is ridiculous. You can't, for example, be logged into Google Talk and get notified if someone wants to talk. No, you have to sit with just Google Talk open. You can play music in the background, but then everything is s-l-o-w.

It is very slick and lovely to look at, but only having one button puts an awful lot of strain on that one button.

It doesn't have a homepage despite the fact that it claims to. It has a display of apps. It doesn't have a customisable page with links to apps. You can't put your own background on. You can't have diary reminders or widgets on your homepage, because it's not a homepage. You can rearrange the icons for your apps. Woop.

It doesn't have a removable battery. Which means it doesn't have a replaceable battery.

It is very expensive and all the accessories are very expensive. In true Apple style, accessories for one model tend not to work on the next model. There is no good reason for this other than the fact that this makes Apple money.

The camera. Why so rubbish? Oh that's right, Steve Jobs reckoned people wouldn't want a camera. Right then. No secondary forward facing camera, no zoom, no flash, piddly MP, no features at all.

I have to complain about the fact that MMS and cut & paste were only there after OS 3 came out. Why????

There's the needing iTunes and iTunes not liking Windows thing, but I already complained about that.

Minor quibble: the autocorrect is infuriating. Reading for reading, and correcting all its to it's is ANNOYING. I have however finally worked out how to do caps lock. It's not that difficult: double click shift. Duh.

I have to stop now. I feel disloyal.

These failings make the iPad, which has the same - and indeed more - failings, a big disappointment. But I already said that. Many times.

The iPhone is stunning and quite wonderful to use. I have used it as my computer for almost a year and I have survived happily. But it has its faults and I can admit them.

Sob!! Back to iLove.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The joy of travel

What a cosmopolitan week! To Edinburgh on Wednesday and on Saturday to Glasgow. It's almost like being a fully functional member of society.

To get to Glasgow involves getting a bus. Unless you drive, but then you'd have to park and that's just silly. Especially when a stupid person forgot something earlier in the week that needed taken to Edinburgh and so could be persuaded to pick up at night. Heh.

I don't like getting the bus. The reasons for this are many, oh yes a list will follow, but a rant needs to be had first.

With all the awareness of environmental issues and the sheer volume of traffic on the roads it would seem a simple solution to persuade people to use public transport.

You'd think.

However, a small fact that escapes the powers that be is that in order to persuade people to use public transport, it has to be pleasant, reliable and affordable. I don't know much about trams other than that the ones in Edinburgh are not there yet and are causing much chaos. But the two major types I do know about are buses and trains. Taxis are the transport of the devil and should be outlawed.

Trains are notoriously unreliable, prohibitively expensive and often made very unpleasant though overcrowding. They are damned useful if you want to be near the station at the other end, not so useful if you don't. Getting the train, in the presence of a) a train and b) a seat, is generally a pleasant experience, but as previously stated, it is very expensive.

The bus should be the dream solution. One vehicle can carry something like 200 passengers (total guess there), buses tend to be pretty convenient for getting almost door to door- they have multiple stopping places - and they are reasonably cheap to use. Brilliant. Everyone get the bus!!

Except. They're horrid.

Reasons why getting the bus is a vile experience:

1) Buses generally don't turn up on time and the waiting place for a bus is a (rarely luxurious) bus stop. Buses do indeed come in threes after the inevitable eternal wait, except of course you get on the first overcrowded one, not knowing that the other two are just about to appear. You don't notice them till they pass, mostly empty, and don't get overtaken back because your bus has to stop at every single stop because there's so many people that someone wants off at each stop.

2) Buses lurch all over the road so you have moments of fearing for your life

3) There is no chance to read on a bus without feeling distinctly queasy. Boredom reigns.

4) They are often pretty manky. A bus in heavy rain is one of the most miserable places on earth.

5) Because anyone who doesn't have to get the bus tends not to, the majority of people on a bus are those you don't want to mix with. The elderly, the teenage and the minks. The nice people on a bus (of which there are of course many, sweeping statements aside) can be identified by their constant expression of "oh god". For some reason, etiquette seems to decree that being seated next to someone on a bus makes you some sort of acquaintance.

Most of the time the most affordable and pleasant method of travel is by car. And although I like cars a lot, that should not be true. It should not be cheaper to drive than to take the train, and getting the bus should not be akin to visiting hell.

Reason to emigrate #5612.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Coming Home

I have finished a book! And it's still January! And it was a book published this year!


It wasn't a heavyweight book, it was distinctly light, purchased because it said on the front that I'd like it if I liked Sophie Kinsella. Which I do, very much. On the back it told me that fans of Sophie Kinsella (for those that had forgotten since they read the front cover) and Cecelia Ahern would like it.


So I read it. Not obsessively, there are the odd books that I read at every opportunity, this was not one. Bedtime only. But I finished it, which these days says a LOT for a book. Mostly that it must have been a relatively simply read, but also that it held my interest for the week or so that it took to read.

The book in question is entitled "Coming Home" (hence my genius title) and the author is Melanie Rose.

The book is set in rural Cornwall and tells the tale of a young woman who is found in a major snowstorm suffering from total amnesia as to who she is, and is sheltered by a sad family, consisting of a father and his daughter together with their housekeeper and a variety of neighbours and relatives. The story of the family unfolds as the girl tries to open her own memory.

The story is intriguing enough to read on, but is unconvincingly realistic. The daughter of the family has not spoken for two years since her elder sister died and her mother left. She chatters away to the stranger who arrives in their house however. The mystery of the mother is somewhat spoiled by the fact that the father is described as a widower on the back cover.

In order to try and regain her memory, the girl seeks the help of a handily passing hypotherapist. She regresses to a previous life however and accesses the memory of a girl named Kitty who lived 100 years previously. Keen to discover Kitty's story, she undergoes hypnosis a number of times. The story that unravels and the parallels drawn with the girl's own life and the sad story of the family she is with is somewhat farfetched but it is rather nice.

Believing in fate, soulmates and fitting in where you are meant to be is a nice concept. It makes you think plesantly about people you are around, where you are in life and in particular, people who you feel drawn to for no apparent reason.

Comparisons to Sophie Kinsella and Cecelia Ahern are simply drawing attention to the fact that the story is loosely based around the supernatural, as both of those authors have tended to do.

Having finished the book and a-pondering over what to read next, I was overjoyed to receive today a most generous gift of a signed copy of Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey. I adore Jasper Fforde, I really do, but I can't shake the sense that this book is terribly like Ben Elton's Blind Faith. I am only on page 3 and fully intend to read on, giving my favourite author the full benefit of the doubt, but the seeds have been planted and I'm seeing a lot of similarities.

Reportage will be done on completion. God knows when that'll be!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Apple iPad - a nobody's opinion

Jumping on the bandwagon here as everyone* else is blogging the same thing, but Apple sent me the blurb about their new tablet this morning and so it's on my mind.

* not actually everyone. Some people.

The iPhone is quite probably the greatest thing I have ever owned. I love almost everything about it. There are two big things I don't love:

1) it relies heavily on iTunes, you have to have a computer alongside it.

2) iTunes isn't exactly happy on a PC. I know it would work bette on a Mac. I suspect that's not an accident.

So the new iPad. It does (almost) everything the iPhone/iPod Touch does. But it's big.

It still needs a computer and iTunes, so it doesn't replace the computer. I had a moment of joy when I mistakenly thought it was a proper computer and I could ditch the iTunes/Windows discord for a possible price. No. It does what the iPhone does. Except it doesn't make calls. The 3G option is data only, it's not a phone. So it's not quite as good as an iPhone. It's just big.

You can watch TV and videos and so on on the lovely screen. Much like a television then. Or a computer. Woop. It has HD, which of course is unheard of in a television.

Ok. I admit, I do get the attraction. Especially if you don't currently own an iPhone. The ability to connect anywhere is great. But why is is just a big iPhone? Why isn't it a proper tablet computer? Why doesn't it stand alone and do things a computer does rather than being another companion to your Mac? Yes, Mac, Windows users, like me, don't get full functionality. It does, mostly work, but sometimes it just has a moment and you know it's all down to its disgust at being operated through a PC.

It's something extra, another thing to add to your gadgets. The main benefit being the big screen, but I'd be inclined to go for the pocket sized iPhone and for the vast number of times you want to watch something away from a television, a small screen probably does. If there's a television then a line out cable's a lot cheaper. Or if you want a laptop then a laptop's probably a good bet if you can overcome the hideousness of a real keyboard and actually being a computer.

So. Apple iPad. Like the iPhone but big. Anyone who doesn't already own an iPhone isn't going to spend money on a big iPhone. This is for Mac lovers with more money than sense. To complete your Mac collection. Yes, I would. I have even less money than sense sadly.

Overuse of the word "big" in this blog was necessary. It's the point. If you want some actual detail just sit there and it will infiltrate your consciousness, it's everywhere. Bandwagon and all...

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Not annoyed

Law of shopping decrees that when you have money to spend you can't find what you want. Very annoying.

Anti annoyance #1 today was the imagining of a needed pair of trousers and Next - the shop for which I have gift vouchers to spend - having the exact trousers imagined, even when tried on. Purchase made, and the trousers didn't go horrid when in the harsh real light of home.

Additional anti annoyance (#1b) was the breakage of sunglasses en route to Next and replacements being there for £6 - double anti annoyance of getting what was needed AND the stocking of summer goods in January being incredibly useful. (Normal annoyance that it is hard to purchase what you need when you actually need it).

Being incredibly pedantic means being mildly psychotic when words are pronounced wrongly. The level of psychosis increases proportionally with the importance of the speaker: people in shops erring as such induce a feeling of superiority; people reading the news making the same error induce a murderous rage.

Pet hate is the pronunciation of the word "controversy". It is marginally reassuring that there are those who consider the wrong pronunciation to be correct and so are offended by the way I say it. But it still rankles something rotten when someone important says it the Wrong Way.

So, watching Newswipe with Charlie Brooker - who is very, very important - a day after it was on, as is the way, there was an enormous anti annoyance when he said "controversy" approximately 18 times in a minute. Correctly.

Naturally had he used the Wrong Way, I would have turned off the television and never allowed him to darken my consciousness again.

Or I might have been annoyed and muttered about it and done precisely nothing except worshipped him a little less. Something.

So. I find myself not annoyed and that's just not much fun. Here's hoping tomorrow consists of the usual irritating annoyances.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Accidental Viewer

This was to be a thought babble about things I'd seen on TV that I hadn't planned to, but that turned out to be utterly banal.

And then I watched bla and I thought it was nice and then I watched da and thought it was nice too. And then there was...

You get the idea.

All sparked by the livening up of TV by the new series of both Shameless and Newswipe.

All that wasted typing's tired me out though so I'm going for some sleep myself before the kids are returned.

Sleep now.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Dressing ethically

Clothes can be absurdly cheap these days, admittedly the silly cheap ones aren't usually the nicest, but for everyday wear, they're fine, sometimes more than fine.  However, there's always a nagging voice at the back of the head that's going "why is it so cheap, huh, children sewed it, you know they did, do you really want to wear it?"

To which the answer is "erm". Being skint v being ethically minded??? " I recycle bottles. In fact the trousers I am wearing right now are made from recycled bottles. How good am I? Yes, nagging voice. I hear you. I do care where my £2 t-shirt came from.

So I thought I'd investigate what the companies themselves have to say rather than what the media like to say on their behalf.
(Yes, it's been done before, better, I LIKE to look for myself. Ok?)

An Independent report in 2005 put Marks and Spencer second bottom on their list of ethical traders and Primark bottom, adding that all 27 High Street retailers were appalling and anyone with a social conscience should not buy clothes from the High Street, ever. But I'm not interested in what they said, especially not 5 years ago.

In the last few years companies appear to have taken steps to rectify their unethical practices, and there's little point in pretending that (almost) everyone isn't as unethical as they can get away with until it becomes suicidally wrong to do so.

Marks and Spencer's Plan A makes for impressive reading, you can read it here.

They state that:
"As an own brand with influence over a quarter of million workers worldwide, we are in a unique position to set new trading standards that improve the lives and communities of those who work for and with us."

Next like what they have to say, they are definitely convinced that they sound like they're doing their bit. I'm not entirely convinced, but as they generally have less than ideal quality these days and aren't that cheap, I could quite believe they manage ethical practices. They say their piece on Corporate Responsibility here; as it's only January it would be unfair to assume they didn't achieve anything in 2009 and that they just haven't finished making last year's update sound good yet.

They claim that:
"Our Suppliers - we will work for positive social, ethical and environmental improvements in our supply chain"

Good, good. Most of my wardrobe is from Next. I like their clothes. 

Primark provide astonishingly cheap clothing, that isn't too rubbish. One presumes that their entire stock is made from entirely unethical means and to have a conscience would mean saying "NO!!!" to £6 jeans. But a read here does reassure that they are doing as much as they can. Or at least, they care about what they're doing.

 They tell us:
"Primark is committed to providing the best possible value for our customers, but not at the expense of the people who make our products".
I feel reassured.

Tesco sound well impressive, which makes me less and less convinced by these statements. Read and be impressed/cynical here.

They brag:
"We have high expectations of our suppliers on both a local and global scale. By working in partnership with them we deliver the quality, value and ethics our customers expect."
Yes, we know what we expect of Tesco. Hmmm. Next?

Uh. Asda. Don't appear to have a policy. They are bigging themselves up on other issues here, (click on the side banners, you can't miss them) but they don't mention the people who make things for them. Or maybe they do and I'm a bit tired. Enlighten me. They are expanding their range of Fairtrade products so fast that they may even be available in your local store.

So they do say this:
"The Fairtrade mark guarantees products are produced by workers in safe, decent conditions"

which is a nice woolly statement and doesn't apply to most of their products. Helpful.

Monsoon make beautiful clothes and they charge quite a lot of money for them. I don't mind, I just can't afford to shop there. Sigh along with them here then wish along with me to afford their clothes and to have the lifestyle that suits them.

They say (beautifully, in a swirly pink font):
"We know our responsibility extends beyond your wardrobe, so we've been trying our hardest to live by these values since 1973."

I love Monsoon.

So, they all seem to think they're doing well. I'm not sure how scrutinized Tesco and Asda are when looking at "High Street Retailers"  being, as they are, supermarkets, but I figure I now have to go back to what other people have said. Dammit.

The Ethical Corporation say rather a lot here, but tend to be rather more specific than my brain can process. They do inform me that Gap, New Look, Next and (hallelujah!) Monsoon Accessorize scored highest on a survey on Living Wages, with Marks and Spencer close behind. The ones who did not respond to this survey by Labour Behind the Label (read about them here,  their campaign here and the results of that survey here. Feel humbled.) were Alexon, BHS, Ethel Austin, House of Fraser and the Peacock Group.

Wow. Labour Behind the Label say it all really. And are doing something about it.

Visit their website as linked above, or specifically go to their Better Bargain campaign and stop reading the waffle of the uninformed. You can also go to Clean Up Fashion and they will tell you all about the individual shops. But wasn't it nice to find out what the companies themselves had to say...

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Living a lie

Secrets. Things you don't want someone/anyone to know.

Usual reason given for keeping a secret: it may hurt the person the secret is kept from if they find out, or it may in someway benefit them if they do not find out, for example a surprise party must remain a secret to work.

Not a very common reason for a secret being kept.

Usual reason a secret is actually kept: the person the secret is about will appear in a bad light and potentially get into trouble or be deeply embarrassed if the secret is found out.

But secrets are a burden, the worse the outcome of discovery would be, the more of a weight it becomes. Being found out is often a blessed relief because that burden is gone, and the repurcussions may never be as awful as imagined.

One hopes.

The contented soul would have no secrets. It is not necessary to be an open book, there must always be more to uncover, but how pleasant not to have to actively conceal anything.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

In sickness and in sickness

It's wearying being the healthy member of the family, not to mention unusual. My three boys are a-lurgied and it's ever so tiring.

Approximately 2 weeks ago, I called up the (supposed) swine flu vaccination helpline, as advised by the doctors practice who are "unable to offer the vaccine" to the latest priority group: the under 5s. The number helpfully provided was the number for Public Health. Who weren't that interested, it being nothing to do with them, and transferred me to child health. Who tried to refer me back to my doctors practice, then said a letter would be sent out. Not all that chuffed given that the purpose of the initial enquiry was to establish why my children seemed to be the only under 5s not to have received said letter. Result: no vaccination and no information. All hail the swine flu vaccination information helpline, as imagined by the doctors.

So. This week we have two very poorly little boys. All the symptoms of flu, except when a nasty cough and vomiting was added into the fray, thoughts strayed to "that could be swine flu." Not being prone to hysteria - I may be a hypochondriac but do normally limit it to my own potentially terminal conditions - I didn't panic, but I did recall the information my brain has been bombarded with.

Sneeze into tissue and put into bin.

Good. Been doing that, because we're not grotty minks and didn't used to eat the tissues or throw them at people or indeed do anything other than bin them. But hey, thanks for the advice.

What else? We're all going to die? Pandemic? That's all of us, right? Kids - and their father - may have it so that fits pretty well with "all", in my world anyway. Good stuff, fulfilling prophecies of doom. Although, small issue: they may be poorly, none of them actually seem all that close to passing away just yet. But hey, they may have it. So that's still pandemic-y even if it's not that bad.

Does that mean the common cold is an annual pandemic? Should we panic more about that?

Swine flu information line. Oh wait, it's NHS 24. Who send you to the doctor just in case you have meningitis and guarantee you feel like a fussy and panicked moron. Brainwashing says: tell someone. Just do it.

No, they don't need medical attention, they're not that ill, I'm
just stating that I think they may have swine flu. I'm supposed to tell. I'm telling. No, really, I already know about Calpol and fluids, I don't really want to drag them out just because I called and you don't want sued. They are definitely breathing.

Oh. Ok. If you insist...

What? It may well be swine flu but they're not dangerously ill so I've to give them Calpol and fluids? And you don't do anything unless they're actually
unconscious? Shouldn't we all be panicking a bit more here? It's Swine Flu. But yay! A trip to the out of hours doc is always fun.

Don't get me wrong, it is a very good thing that my babies aren't seriously ill, but to (possibly - they don't test any more) have the disease that we've been inundated with demands to panic over, only to find that it is nothing, is, well, typical. There isn't any point in pondering.

And I guess we don't need the vaccine after all. Like the many, many other kids that had it and didn't notice.

Friday, 22 January 2010


Sick boys.
Sick husband.
Too tired to catch up, can't formulate words that don't make unintentional
double entendres.
Can't actually get a proper post-per-day, but can manage to say so.


Thursday, 21 January 2010

Does not compute

There are a number of things that I cannot and will not ever understand.

What follows are the ones that have perturbed me today.

1) Unwarranted heat. The pursuit of being overly hot. Can be deliberately obtained in a number of ways:

a) electric blankets. A luxury supposedly. Torture more like. One of the greatest things on earth is getting into a cool bed. If it's particularly parky then yeah, maybe a hot water bottle at the foot of the bed. For a short period of time not exceeding 30 seconds after joining said hot water bottle. But something that gets hot and stays hot, that's potentially really dangerous and what's more, is hot? That's lunacy. Conjecture: people that own electric blankets are not the same as those that live without heating.

b) saunas. Hot dry heat? Utterly unbearable. And if you're completely mental, you can go from the hot dry heat and jump into an ice cold plunge pool.

c) the going to a hot country for the purpose of getting really hot and burning your skin, ignoring any culture or anything of interest in the pursuit of getting the mild skin damage people find attractive on themselves. And indeed the yearlong obsession with and dedication to achieving this visit to a hot country to be hot.

2) Gyms. A very expensive way to feel inadequate and use machines that emulate actually doing a real activity.

3) Those little floating smiley balls you get to put in the toilet to help small boys (of all ages, ha ha ha, so funny). There's a big circle of water to aim for. Is it that hard? Judging by the two little guys that have relatively recently got the hang of this: no.

Anything else is a pet rant...

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Break up!

Ross and Rachel broke up!!!!

Actual tears fell here last night, sniffing through Disc 11 of the precious, precious Friends boxset.

Because awful though it was first time round, the knowledge of what lies ahead makes this parting devastating to watch. Rachel: silly, silly girl!! You were on a break! He's your lobster! Seven years of heartbreak ahead: you're going to get married by mistake, and divorced again, you're going to have a baby with the guy and you're going to (probably) realise in the end that he is the one. Realise your mistake, forgive him and understand why it happened!!!!

The nostalgia element added to the tears shed last night while watching the disaster unfold. There are many arty shots of the Twin Towers, which are unbearably poignant, coupled with the memories of watching Friends with friends and being ever so young.

What is really, really, REALLY needed is a Friends movie/one off special. It is. Because we need to know that it worked out, we need to see Ross and Rachel happy together forever, *proving* that true love wins. A Christmas special wouldn't be too much would it? Jennifer?

Ahhh. The luxury of a good old wallow in nostalgia, a nod to good old hyperbole, and being utterly banal.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


At a civilised hour, I showered, changed into my pyjamas and got as far as standing at the end of my bed, ready to get myself one of those mythical "good night's sleep" things I've heard of.

Mania struck, however, when I considered the ridiculous elastic in said pyjamas. As pointless stitching goes, support for the bust is unnecessary in nightwear. Sexy: no. Supportive: not required. Immensely annoying when designed for a pear when one is distinctly unpearlike: yes. A downside of fitting into standard issue clothing (instead of elephantine) is that most manufacturers assume a lacking in the bust. And those that fitted into bizarre pointless elastic scaffolding wouldn't need support ever.

Very annoying. New Next pyjamas, which is why what happened next was crazy.

"I can take that elastic out!" thinks the distinctly amateur seamstress, examining the seams. Out comes the sewing kit. Unpick, unpick, unpick some more. The seam is undone, bring forth the scissors. Snip, snip, and the offending elastic is removed. Pin, match thread, reacquaint self with sewing machine, small moment of terror as it's been a while. Sew new seam. Remove pins and examine result.

It worked!! Slightly peculiar shape - why would there be a seam there? But it worked. It needs a bit of a press and will probably look like it's never been savagely resewn, but getting the iron out at midnight is actual domestic lunacy.

The lunatic seamstress now needs to look on eBay for an overlocker. And she knows what that is.

Monday, 18 January 2010


Death is sad, there is no question about that. Death takes a person away from those who love them, it removes any last vestiges of hope, and it is final. It may bring feelings of loss, anger, guilt, frustration. All negative emotions. For those to whom it means relief, which must always be accompanied by guilt for thinking so, then it marks the end of a terrible time, a full stop to a nightmare.

But a funeral is a beautiful thing.

It celebrates and shows respect for the life of an individual, remembering the person they were, not perhaps the person they became as life ebbed away.

It brings together those who loved the departed, allowing them to grieve and say their goodbyes, each cherishing their own memories.

It allows those who love the bereaved to provide support and comfort without awkwardness. Families come together, joined in their sorrow. But they cast aside grievances, catch up on each others' lives, care for each other and promise to meet up before the next funeral - hope for a wedding.

The service is of comfort even if all the words don't make sense. Regardless of belief, the words reiterate that the departed are no longer suffering, their troubles are over.

It would be wrong to say that funerals are nice - nothing that has a prerequisite of death can be nice - but they are full of love and that in itself is wonderful.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Pifflous Ponder

Is it possible to wish for something entirely altruistic? All wishes tend to be beneficial to the wisher.

Even those that seem to be on behalf of another; surely the benefit there is that the wishee is happy and so the wisher is happier by proxy.

That, one supposes, is true for all actions. Selfish always. Altruism for self congratulation, potentially coupled with the admiration of others.

Which is a little sad. Acts of random kindness in order to generate popularity, warmth and fuzziness.

And back to wishing. It does seem to be true that wishing for something means at least one of the following must almost always be true:

1) it is not possible/likely for it to happen. The wish stems from unavailability.

2) in order for it to happen something else must be forfeited

Then again, without either of those, things would just happen and so the desire would pass quickly, probably unnoticed.

But hey. Sometimes the most precious, most difficult, most desirable outcomes/acquisitions can happen/begotten.

And how they are treasured, those unlikely of things.


Oi!! take that look off your face, read the title and indulge the need to ponder out loud.

Really. I don't like that look one bit.

Oh be like that then.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Hair management

To: all hair
From: Follicle Management
Date: 0 years

Hair required over entire person. Primary hair will be allocated to the head, with slight hair to most of the rest of the body. Primary hair can grow indefinitely, full array of haircolours available; slight hair only allowed to grow to a fixed length (see guidelines 76c) and allocated no colour.

To: Head Hair
From: Follicle Management
Date: approximately 13 years.

Take no action, prepare for potential attack/neglect.

To: Body Hair (female)
From: Follicle Management
Date: approx 13 years.

Take up residence, or increase growth, with added colour in the armpit, genital and lower leg area.

To: Body Hair (male)
From: Follicle Management
Date: approximately 13 years.
Most areas now to begin hair growth. Concentrate mostly on dark hairs on legs. Ensure initial growth, especially on the facial area, is sparse and slow.

To: Head Hair (male)
From: Follicle Management
Date: Approximately 25 years
Due to lack of satisfactory performance, most of you are to be laid off over the next few years. There may be potential for retraining as Back or Chest Hair.

To: Head Hair (female)
From: Follicle Management
Date: approximately 25 years.
Some of you have raised concerns as to working conditions and the right to remain your rightful colour. We regret to inform you that the files containing the record of your rightful colour have been destroyed. Any hairs wishing to revert can always choose to have all colours removed and become white. Many have already made this choice and we urge you to follow suit.

To: Body Hair (All parts, male, female)
From: Follicle Management
Date: approximately 35 years
Please increase production with immediate effect. Spread as fast as possible into previously uncharted zones. Increase length. Colour now optional for those operating on a male.

To: Head Hair (male)
From: Follicle Management
Date: approximately 50 years
Cease production with immediate effect.

To: Head Hair (female)
From: Follicle Management
Date: approximately 50 years
Abandon all colour. Change texture sufficiently to resist previously applied colours. Send request to Facial Skin to adjust tone accordingly.

To: All Hair
From: Admin
Date: approximately 70-80 years.
On behalf of the Follicle Management Team we regret to inform you that you are now under no management or control. We suggest you grow what you can, where you can, when you can. Those located on females may find the face a good place to settle. Those on a male should stick to the chest and back. Colour is not available and despite numerous requests, the only texture available is course.

Kind regards and many thanks for staying.

Friday, 15 January 2010

The Devil has Questionable Taste

Having a shrivelled brain apparently means an increased tolerance for drivel. So much so that I have begun to enjoy utter cack and judge thing inversely on their rubbishness.

Example: I caught a few minutes last night of a thing called "Material Girl". My mind simultaneously thought "that looks truly awful" and "I must look that up on iplayer".

I have spent a number of hours watching my husband play Call of Duty (MW2 and then WaW if you're interested. No?) which is remarkably watchable in the way it's presented but the more I watch, the more I feel myself slipping into a catatonic state.

So, figuring that one person can't actually watch Friends all the time (despite what E4 may think), I purchased a suitably dim looking DVD set entitled "Couture Collection". This comprises 3 films: 27 Dresses, In Her Shoes and The Devil Wears Prada.

27 Dresses I liked, it was cute and ditzy and enjoyable.

In Her Shoes I have both seen and read the book of. I didn't rate the book much, although I did finish it as it must have been pre children. I saw the film by chance on TV (post children, naturally) and enjoyed it quite a lot.

The Devil Wears Prada I failed to "get" at all as a book. It was raved about by all, but even in the glorious concentration of the prechildren era, I didn't get very far with it. This was typical of all the raved about books of the time: Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Memoirs of a Geisha etc. Everyone except me loved them, and I did occasionally manage something with content.

So I figured I'd give the - also raved about - film a shot.

Yawn. Tedium. Ugly Betty: the film, except Ugly Betty is enjoyable.

A couple of tangents.
First of all, the Ugly Betty thing. The Devil Wears Prada book predates Ugly Betty. Very similar premise, ordinary girl out of place in world of fashion takes job at fashion magazine to further dreams of journalism. Ugly Betty however is enjoyable. I found this out much to my surprise by mistake, it was one before/after something else I watched and I got kind of hooked. I really like it and have managed to watch it post children, which is not true of most things.

Anyway, my tangent has taken a tangent. Ugly Betty is supposedly taken from Mexican (???) series Betty la Fey (???) (or some words that are a bit similar to those I just wrote) which predates the book of The Devil Wears Prada. Which is meant to be based on the author's experience of working for Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue. I don't really care, Anna Wintour is the singularly least interesting person of all overrated people, and as far as I can tell is a thoroughly obnoxious person that other obnoxious people decide to follow as true disciples.

Which leads me to my second tangent, fashion.

I do understand that it is desirable to wear gorgeous fabrics, in flattering designs and have truly gorgeous clothing. Also, it must be nice to have unique clothes. The latter can be achieved by making your own, or by employing a seamstress, which I am quite positive can be done for considerably less than it costs to buy designer. But assuming you like your clothes preassembled, then yes, good fabrics and well cut lines are worth paying for.

What I do not get, and will never understand, is any person who wears something because it is a) expensive or b) fashionable with no regard to whether it is c) nice.

The expensive part especially, the coveting of things that one doesn't actually like purely because they cost a lot and you want to be seen to have paid for it makes me want to weep. How much better life would be if things were allocated to people who would appreciate them rather than those who could afford them.

As to fashion, I appreciate that a lot of people have no style whatsoever and so need outfits assembled by others and told what to wear. I may be so off the fashion map it hurts, but I have pretty much worn the same colours and styles for 20 years; the only difference fashion makes is that sometimes the things I like are easier to source. And yes, I do make my own clothes these days. Some of them, I doubt I'll ever make jeans.

So. The film. I think it safe to say that The Devil Wears Prada is awful. Tedious. I watched an hour of it, did a double take when I realised it had only been the one hour, and turned it off. Not "In a word: BRILLIANT" (Heat) or "Comedy doesn't get much blacker - or brilliant - than this" (Daily Mirror).

I missed that it was meant to be a comedy. That's probably the first time I've learned anything from the Mirror. Heh.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The plight of the unread

Due to the unfortunate ongoing combination of being unable to resist acquiring books and being unable to get on with reading, I have 4 books that I have had out of the library for some time. They have been renewed 6 times and I have read a bit of each. Fail.

In order to renew the books, I log into my account and click "renew all". Done. Except that proved too hard this month and by the time the memory kicked in, a fine of £1.52 had accumulated. 38p per book, which doesn't divide into any sensible division, but who am I to argue?

So duty called and offs I trotted to the library to pay up.

Oh yay! They have a fines amnesty because of the difficulty people have had getting to the library through snow. I pointed out that actually the snow didn't affect my getting to the computer and so I should really still pay. This was rewarded with a look of pity normally reserved for the mentally impaired and a reassurance that they simply weren't charging fines. And tada. All cleared.

A warm and fuzzy feeling from doing the right thing and being rewarded by saving money.


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Mario part 876

More Mario... I am a geekette.

For Christmas this year I (definitely me) received Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside story for DS and New Super Mario Bros Wii.

Both excellent. Both gratefully received.

Both forking IMPOSSIBLE!!!

I have been playing Mario since he was only on the NES. 1992 is when we were first acquainted. I cannot do either of these games. I am stuck as a stuck thing not very far into the DS game. And as for the Wii game. Well! The only reason I am not still trying to defeat Roy Koopa (is he new? Looks a lot like Bowser, has purple specs and throws purple flames) is that my 4 year old defeated him for me.


Yes, I have downloaded walkthroughs, they expect a level of skill that eludes me. So for the Wii version, I'll just have to wait till the wee guy gets past Roy at the end of World 2... For the DS I am going to have to CHEAT (or hand it over to my other 4 year old and weep into my Horlicks.

Reviews: I think the DS game looks nice. My progress is so woeful you could get as much info from the box as from me.

Wii game: I LIKE the old school platform style, I find this infinitely more playable than Mario Galaxy. Mario Galaxy is now delightfully possible and I am enjoying it and ogling Mario Galaxy 2.

Back to New Super Mario Bros Wii, multiplayer co-op is nice (if frustrating when playing with someone who doesn't get co-op). Not that new: I distinctly remember playing multiplayer (probably turn by turn) on one of the SNES versions. It is good though, if there are two of you Game Over only happens if you both lose your last life at the same time, as long as one of you has one life or more, you continue and stay where you are.

Pretty, int it? Most favourite picture in our house that is.

Main gripe: lack of save options. There are mysterious stars that may do something save-ish. I shall ask the walkthrough.

I think I'm going to build some Lego. If I can fathom out what the instructions mean.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman

On the way home last night, I tripped over the stumpish remains of a murdered plant rendered invisible by the darkness.

By that I mean nighttime darkness, the band played no part.

I had helium balloon strings twisted round my hands to stop them escaping and so I landed with an undignified whomp onto the ground, hurting most parts of me all at once and vastly overreacting.

My two sons were at my side immediately, not least to check the fate of the balloons. But then concern kicked in.

Son 1 was most interested to know the exact circumstances of the incident. His prime concern was for the extra strong mint that had been thrown from my pocket. This is, I would say, typical of my minutely elder son, being as he is, a Bloke. A Blokish Bloke.

I can conclude that he will grow to display the following behaviours as a man:

He will never see the point of communicating unless there is something specific to communicate. He won't phone for the sake of it.

He will be generous when it comes to gifts but almost entirely without imagination. Wishlists will be his salvation. Wrapping will be beyond him and where possible he will get someone else to tie his gifts up, only having to throw paper round their gift.

He will be puzzled as to why any woman would be upset at their keenness to play bedroom sports and won't understand why they don't see it as a massive compliment.

He will always have a solution. He will think anyone who tells him a problem and doesn't take his solution on board is a moron. He will figure if you don't want an answer, don't pose the problem.

Son 2 on the other hand will grow up to be the sort of man that indignantly states that all the above is sexist and that "not all men are like that". His response was to comfort me, check I was ok and to scold the offending stump. He also enquired as to my wellbeing the following day. He somehow has extraordinary levels of empathy, he is a joy to have around. Not that his brother isn't a joy, he just doesn't do touchy feely. He's a bloke (a smashing one) and he's gonna have a hairy chest.

Their (hairy chested) father, incidentally, appeared a good bit after to enquire why I was taking so long. I am Mrs Bloke and I wouldn't have it any other way. That doesn't mean I don't complain...

Monday, 11 January 2010

Birthday actual

Today was my birthday!!!
Woo! I am now halfway through my biblical life.

I LOVE my birthday. Every time someone wishes me a happy birthday or I notice the date, I feel happy. I feel like a loved and lovely person, so I AM lovely. I am quite delightful to people.

Or so I think. The truth may be that I am unsufferably patronising, dull and idiotic. But we shall ignore that. I am nice to people and feel lovely.

Today I "met" two other people who share my birthday. Which is positively exciting beyond words (to me).

My Facebook app tells me when someone posts on my wall. This could be immensely annoying but for today it was cheering to say the least.

I have received a veritable fortune in voucher monies to replace my too big clothes (hurrah!!), and other lovely gifts. I did not however receive anything by mail so I am cross with the Royal Mail for letting snow interfere with My Birthday.

I have only spent the one voucher today (go me) and I fear severe covetation of a handbag, coupled with a emptying of a stupid handbag that doesn't shut, means a handbag will need to be purchased tomorrow. But that is extraordinarily banal so I'm going to Stop Typing About Shopping.

Spoiltness and demandation (me! My day! My week!) was rewarded with balloons and cakes. Which was ace.

Ok. Done now. Return to a place where things are normal and I'm less preoccupied with Me.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Birthday part II

In the midst of birthday season, I invited them-what-matters to my house today for a generic birthday celebration. This week because there would have been too many absences last week, the weather was unforgiving and a little because I care a lot more than the boys do. They like presents, who is present is of no matter to them at all.

So we hads ourselves a mini party. In which I fretted about the tidiness of my house, ending up with one unenterable room, (I so need an upstairs) and my family and closest friends visited, bearing - ace - gifts, to be rewarded with poncy tiny versions of food and a party bag.

Yes. A party bag. Children present were mine, a 12 year old and a 1 year old. Everyone got party bags bar he-who-scoffed who then complained. Everyone except the 12 year old, the baby and the scoffer seemed very pleased. We have a surplus of leftover Haribo.

Not a party in terms of there being a lack of music or any form of entertainment or games. More of an "at home". Yah.

I love having people round. It's better than any other type of socialising. Except maybe going out for lunch. Maybe.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Tears

I don't get me, or to be specific, I don't understand tears as shed by me.

There are certain things that make me cry:
1) people being nice beyond that which I deserve.
2) being very angry/frustrated
3) injustice, when served to me
4) schmaltzy cringeworthy sentiment.

Things that don't make me cry:
Anything that you'd expect tears at: death, funerals etc. Dry as a dry thing.

The 4th tear inducing thing perturbs me. Romcoms, Neighbours weddings, utter tripe; I sniffle away like a sniffler. I think I have cried at just about every film Cameron Diaz has been in, there's something about the way she squeaks. Every Neighbours wedding - especially Scott and Charlene *blush* - moves me to sniffs. Almost every episode of Ally McBeal and Ugly Betty has my lip a-quiver and my eyes a-water. Tonight I shed ductfuls of tears over 27 Dresses.

Perhaps subconsciously I am sobbing at the fact that I am watching these things. Perhaps. Or perhaps I'm just a sap.

Friday, 8 January 2010

I think I can't, I think I can't...

Can I write this every day?

No. Apparently not.

- Posted without any claim to factual correctness or interest to any living person. Brought to you by the combined wonder of BlogPress and iPhone.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Classic Albums??

Today the Royal Mail released their New Year stamps, featuring ten classic album covers, supposedly ten of the most iconic (British) album covers of all time.

I think this means iconic covers, rather than iconic albums. Or it should. I have issue with a couple...

It may just be me, but when I think of the phrase "classic album cover", there's one specific image that springs to mind.

Nope. They went for The Division Bell. Still Pink Floyd, and I think actually the better album, but Dark Side of the Moon is (/was until recently??) Britain's best selling album and has one of the most recognisable album covers ever. It should be there. Really.

Issues with Coldplay - Rush of Blood to the Head and Blur - Parklife along the lines of "err, what????" Both fail both in terms of being classic in any way, shape or form.

I'm not completely ignorant as to the world of music, and so I would sort of expect to have HEARD of a classic album. This is not true of New Order - Power, Corruption and Lies. Chocolate box stylee doesn't do anything for me. I'm missing something, clearly, enlightenment would be appreciated.

Rolling Stones deserve to be there, but is Let it Bleed really their best album and/or cover?
Or am I just feeling animosity towards a picture of a cake by the deplorable Delia? Hmm.

The Clash - London Calling. Classic album, recognisable cover. Guess it works, but meh. Less meh would be: Sergeant Peppers? Revolver? Abbey Road? Anything else by the Beatles?

Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells.
Fair do's.

Led Zeppelin - IV. I guess so, and they got Jimmy Page to unveil the stamps. whatever that entailed. Wahey.

Primal Scream - Screamadelica. Can't really argue although I'd like to.

David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Cannot argue, wouldn't want to.

The stamps are very impressive, they have been purchased. What to do with them remains undecided.

- Posted without any claim to factual correctness or interest to any living person. Brought to you by the combined wonder of BlogPress and iPhone.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


After many years of yearning, I finally own the entire boxset* of Friends, which is probably my favourite TV programme ever.

I know.

Why I love it:

It makes me laugh. Lots.
It brings back happy memories of when I watched it with my own friends.
I am totally in love with Chandler. Really.
Ross and Rachel. Awwww.
It's all really nice. I like nice these days.

I am partway through series 2, Ross and Rachel have just got together properly and it's all quite lovely. I am doing very little else with my time.

Yes. Boring. There's norralorra point in writing about the content, you either know it by now or you don't.

I may watch some...

* "entire boxset" is not right. The boxset of the entire run of all ten series of Friends" would be righter. But hey ho diddle oh.

- Posted without any claim to factual correctness or interest to any living person. Brought to you by the combined wonder of BlogPress and iPhone.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Positively pointless.

I'm feeling shy.
Suffering from blogger's block.
No, not really.
Not that either.
Excuse me?
Er, no.

Sleep now.

- Posted for the entire purpose of keeping a promise I made to myself but being devoid of comment. I understand. It doesn't really follow that anyone else will.

Monday, 4 January 2010


Happiness today came in the form of:

(1) Snow. (as previously mentioned. It lingers. It falls some more).

It's pretty. It requires the wearing of hats, boots, scarves, big coats and gloves. It's an excuse to not do anything. And it's pretty, not much beats looking out upon a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.

(2) Children.
Mine, that is. Four year olds are amazing and mine are quite definitely more amazing than any others. I say that with no bias whatsoever.

There is a little girl, who doesn't belong to me, who is just as amazing as my boys, but she is a very special little girl indeed.

I worked out today what it is that I do with my time when I'm not specifically doing anything else. I puzzled for a long time as to why I didn't seem to do anything that I used to do. What I do is this: watch, and interact with, but mostly watch my children. They are quite the most entertaining pastime ever. Every new thing they do is astounding and it is quite astonishing that this is still true after 4 years. I expect I'll watch them in amazement all their lives. "Yes, that man there, walking along the road all by himself. That's my son you know."

(3) My car, my phone, nifty gadgets.

Materialistic? Why yes.
Recently I was very close to exchanging my car for a VW. Until I drove the VW for a week and then returned to my own car. It is very, very good to drive. The gearbox is not something I've ever noted before but it turns out to be excellent. We are friends once more, we travel through the snow together and we enjoy it, both.

At some point in every day I stop to think about the brilliance of my phone. It's an iPhone you know. You knew? Goodness! It is quite wonderful, it is a part of me now. I don't care what owning it makes me, I love it. Truly. And yes, I want an iMac because then iTunes will work properly, yes, I know and I know, but I would love that truly too. And I would be all the things that would make me. And I wouldn't care in the slightest.

My car and my phone are now united by means of an itrip. Simple little gadget means the music on my beloved plays through the radio in my quite-loved. This brings me a level of joy that is quite ridiculous.

And that will suffice for a trio of blessings. Snow, children, possessions. Happiness.

- Posted without any claim to factual correctness or interest to any living person. Brought to you by the combined wonder of BlogPress and iPhone.

Sunday, 3 January 2010


3rd January 2006. Two perfect little boys are born, making their mother the happiest mother ever.

3rd January 2010. Two perfect little boys, still in the afterglow of Christmas, celebrate their fourth birthday. Two perfect little boys get more presents and are overwhelmed by about 10am.

It's a shame. It's all Christmas rolled into one long stretch of excitement. They don't care particularly what day it is: no Santa?? Bah. If I could give my babies one thing*, it would be a summer birthday.

They would probably request Haribo. They're 4.

*they are already healthy, and brilliantly clever and gifted, and loved.

- Posted without any claim to factual correctness or interest to any living person. Brought to you by the combined wonder of BlogPress and iPhone.

Saturday, 2 January 2010


Snow!!! There's been a fair amount of it the last few weeks, a large proportion of which was rock hard ice making any outing an adventure in balance control. Very pretty for Christmas though.

Tonight it snowed and the result was astoundingly gorgeous. Floaty deep cottonwoolesque snow, rendering everything soft focus, muffles and slow. Life slows down prettily, light is diffused and a sense of peace is cast over everything. Driving is a dream: massive concentration, virtually empty roads with only careful, slow drivers for muffled company. Delightful, enough to recapture the joy of driving and restore faith in one's car.

Unless you drive a BMW. Heh heh.

- Posted without any claim to factual correctness or interest to any living person. Brought to you by the combined wonder of BlogPress and iPhone.

Friday, 1 January 2010

That was the year that wasn't

I guess January 1st is a time to reflect on the previous year and plan for the coming one.

Gah. 2009 was a non event. I watched TV that everyone else has been watching for years - The Apprentice and Strictly - and did little else thanks to whiplash.

A new decade too. More on that another place/time.

New Year's Resolution:

Be good.

Exciting, huh? I'm not going to do things I'm not supposed to do and I am going to do the things I should.

Diaries ahoy, I am going to attempt to blog each day and see how long it takes to descend into weather reports.


Sleep now. N'night.

- Posted without any claim to factual correctness or interest to any living person. Brought to you by the combined wonder of BlogPress and iPhone.