Cause Of Flooding (9,8)

We Brits are having a really wet year. June was the wettest June since records began in 1914. The last seven days have seen some truly excessive rainfall and there's no respite in sight. Bristol's been alright because it's mostly hills - just don't live in a trough. But less than fifty miles away, the town of Tewkesbury is all sandbags and insurance claims.

How many people know the nursery rhyme Doctor Foster Went To Gloucester? It's just dawned on me that different regions might have their own variants.

The worst surprise I had all week was that new Coke Orange doesn't taste much like Mezzo Mix, a popular coke-orange drink in Germany. It's also a product of the Coca Cola Company so why the difference? Coke Orange is being marketed as a limited edition with the slogan "get it before it's gone", to encourage consumers to get onboard faster than they did for Coke Zero. Canny stuff!

That's "canny" meaning "clever", not "it comes in cans".


Schoolboy Error

Nine days away from the blog. I guess I had some motivational problems! Going back to work was a drag and now the boss is back too so I have to be visibly pro-active (which so much tougher than simply getting the job done). He's not all bad, though: this morning he called before work to say to stay home because of the bad weather.

My old high school made the national news this week for all the wrong reasons. The local papers said it was the result of an internet spat over a boy the night before. One parent said the same thing happened when he was in school thirty years ago so perhaps the country isn't completely going to the dogs after all. Or it's always been going to the dogs.

I used to want to be a teacher but it wore off around the same time teachers started getting shot. Talk about being under-appreciated at work! I really ought to remedy that one day, seeing as how it would take all of five minutes. Mr Turasiewicz, Ms Roberts, Ms Davies, Mr Lewis, Mr Newman and Mr Fry: when I paid attention, you were all brilliant.


Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

England has been a non-smoking country for ten days now. Places you can still do it include the privacy of your own home or car, and in the open air. A trip to Ireland in May prepared me for the change and I'm dealing with it while the weather is fair. I'm only annoyed there's no provision for clearly-labelled smoking dens where black-lunged bastards like myself could go to exercise our free will.

Eleven days ago I was celebrating the engagement of Tom and Johanna in a pub called The Globe. It was hot enough there without everybody lighting up like it was going out of style. Sweaty pictures follow!

A startled Thomas.
Jo dancing Zorba The Greek.
A fiver says Legolas and his friend aren't from round here.
Basquiat uses mind control to keep her portrait off the interweb.
I didn't take this picture and I don't know 75% of these people.
Always dress for the occasion.
Erika and myself doing Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers ('78 version).
Cute bar-person #2679.

While we're making sweeping changes to the country, can we do something about drivers who don't keep left unless overtaking?


Unfinished Tales

On the trip to Amsterdam where I missed my outbound flight, I almost missed the return too. Schipol is twenty minutes from the Centraal station, we reasoned as we headed to the area for after-work beers. I left the bar at the last possible moment and my train sat in the station, going nowhere. I met Elvira, Richard and David because they were sitting nearby and I'd just rushed three beers. Richard took a group photo but didn't e-mail it to me yet. He said all hope of catching my flight was lost but I was derermined to try and, luckily, my plane was delayed more than my train. I think I was the only passenger smiling about that.

A long weekend with Alice was the cherry on the top of my vacation last week. I invested in a second controller for the PS2 and several two-player games. We had a blast with Rayman: Raving Rabbids, shooting rabbits Time Crisis-style. Alice says she concentrates better when she doesn't breathe. She cut my hair again, because she is patient and it was due. The end result is blatantly too short but we didn't quarrel over it (though I'm gonna need a month before I go out in public again).

We watched The Sinful Nuns Of Saint Valentine which was like an Italian Hammer Horror film with more boobs and flagellation. It was hilarious. Redemption titles are dirt cheap from certain online vendors, so I think I'll have myself a little "phase".

Rome has been good too. They aged the character of Octavian by bringing in an older actor who carefully bases his speech patterns and mannerisms on the original. I bought the transition. Pullo is still comedy and Vorenus has been better since his annoying wife (Suzie from Torchwood) died.

I was banging on about the true meaning of 'decimate' last month. It's often confused with 'dessicate' or 'exterminate'. When a Roman legion lost a battle, one tenth of the survivors were ritually stripped of their armour and beaten to death by their fellow soldiers - decimare, in Latin. The Paranoid Mod thought I would find this Photoshopped cover of The Amazing Spider-Man amusing, and he was right.


Holidaying At Home

Midsummer's Day has passed already and I'm taking a full week off for the first time this year. Is it any wonder I felt stuck in a routine? About a month ago I considered throwing it all in for something closer to home - until I remembered that our bonus scheme pays out in October. More on that idea in November...

Including weekends and days scheduled to work from home, I'll be away from the office for eleven whole days! I worked hard last week so no-one could grumble while I was gone. The other reason I was quiet here was: I discovered the joy of Facebook. Only through sheer will power to forego half of the functions and use it like my basic internet "phone book" entry am I here now. You could waste days on that thing.

Of all the social networking sites on all the web, why did I have to sign up for this one? I suppose I didn't really get the point at first. MySpace pages seemed like blogs with no content and they assault your eyes and ears. (Your band isn't signed for a reason.) Facebook has a clean white layout and I could immediately see what was going to be useful about it. For any one of these sites to prosper, it's going to need a critical mass of people behind it and - to quote a friend who signed up recently - only "poor people and Lily Allen" use MySpace. Find me on Facebook under my real name.

I'm getting better with my new phone but still keep sending unfinished mis-spelt messages because the Clear and Send buttons are in the opposite places on my old Nokia. If you receive one, I'm not drunk.

My mail is opened, the bills are paid, the washing up's done, the laundry is on and my cupboards are no longer bare. I saw my doctor on Monday and I'm having my hair cut to match my Facebook profile tomorrow. I've had lunch with my mother, got drunk with my neighbour, been to a party in Brighton and, tonight, Phil and I will prove that you're never too old for a bit of Playstation 2. I've watched Rome, Jekyll, David Bowie in concert as Ziggy Stardust and The Kentucky Fried Movie. Plus, I've read fifty pages of a real book (the difficult kind by authors who can't draw).

This is precisely the kind of week I wanted and it's only Thursday.


Because Of The Unique Way The B.B.C. Is Funded

Please ask the man who just did the weather on News 24 (5pm, Bank Holiday Monday) to stop making sound effects during his reports. Is his vocabulary really so bad that he can't find the words? It's not Newsround!

Also, if the announcers on BBC Three could not wander off into who's the most shaggable in the next programme, that would be nice. ITV is still there for people wot like that kind of thing.

I am available to stay focussed, on-topic and not insult the intelligence of the viewer if you are having trouble finding people.
...wrote I, trying to sound like the letters page of Private Eye.

Dear [Mr. Prefect]

Thank you for your e-mail. I understand that you felt it was inappropriate for the BBC News 24 weather presenter at 5pm on Monday the 28th May to make sound effects during his report. I also have noted that you feel that certain comments made by the continuity announcers on BBC THREE are inappropriate.

Please be assured I have registered your comments on the daily audience log which will be made available to the 'BBC News 24' production teams and senior BBC management. Feedback of this nature helps us when making decisions about future BBC programmes and your comments will play a part in this process. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for taking time to contact the BBC.


P McDaniel
BBC Information
I didn't expect a response but that's public service broadcasting!

Norwegian Good

I always knew I was smart! My younger brother's only doing a Masters degree to finally get one over on his childhood nemesis (i.e. me) and now some scientists from Oslo have come out on my side. Tough break there, bro, since I got the looks too.

This new discovery is like a horoscope: I believe the parts I like and brush aside those that don't fit with my own experience... such as my own sibling achieving more academically and physically than I (on paper). Perhaps the eldest develops faster and becomes more resourceful because he/she meets the challenges of growing up head-on? Or maybe the second child benefits from having the first as a guide, chooses his/her battles more carefully and develops more steadily as a result?

I'll defer to the experts because they plainly know more than I do and their conclusion bolsters my ego. Just yesterday I saw an ad for a beauty product bragging about its "Norwegian formula" as if that were a selling point in itself, so don't be questioning the Scandinavian science!


S3E13: The Last Of The Timelords

That was pap in every respect except the theme tune. All we needed was the plot elements of the previous two weeks to come together in a coherent and somewhat surprising way. Is that really asking so much? I'm all for pushing narrative boundaries but not at the expense of the basics.

Why wasn't David Tennant in it for more than five minutes when he's the show's greatest asset and it's him we tune in to watch? How do you book talent like John Barrowman and John Simm for fifty minutes of screen time and squander them so? What science there was in this fiction was glossed over to the point that it looked like magic and felt like Harry Potter. A shoddy end to an otherwise strong series.

I was so glad to be with friends when Doctor Who jumped the shark (he said, sarcastically). They went easy on me and didn't actually hold me responsible for the turd onscreen. At one stage, I left the room to make coffee and said to shout if anything good happened.

Human Nature, The Family Of Blood and Blink are the year's killer episodes so all that remains for me to do is i) play the arse out of that D.V.D. when it releases and ii) adjust to there being no minimum guaranteed standard of quality on the show any more. It's just like the old days!