20 December 2007

Best and Worst of 2007 - a personal view

It's the end of the year and everywhere you look everyone is doing lists. Best this, worst that: how could I call myself a serious compiler of lists if I didn't do my own. SO here's a list of random stuff I enjoyed (or detested) in the year of our Lord 2007. These are only from the things I can remember, a year is such a long time! Feel free to comment if you disagree.

Best film: Once
Best TV, drama: Skins
Best TV, comedy/quiz: QI

Best Album: Favourite Worse Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys
Best Single: Golden Skans - Klaxons
Best Single (cover version): Newton Faulker - Teardrop
Best Rock Single: The Pretender - Foo Fighters/Invincible - Muse
Best Dance Single: NYC Beats - Armand Van Helden
Best single (pop): Shine – Take That
Best Live Act; the Police
Worst live act: Maximo Park/Bloc Party
Best live comedy: Lee Mack

Worst single: T2 - Heartbroken/Rhianna - Umbrella/anything by Mika
Best comeback: The Police/Take That (was that 2006?)/Wispa bars
Worst comeback: Spice Girls

Book: Straw Men trilogy by Michael Marshall/Triptych - Karin Slaughter

Best advert: Shreddies!

Memorable news event - Madeline McCann disappearance/Blair goes, Brown in

Sporting achievement Manchester United winning the Premier League/Lewis Hamilton's first season in F1
Biggest dissapointment: Glastonbury Festival weather/England football team not qualifying for Europe
Most memorable event: going to court/seeing Tutankamun's mask

Best night: cocktails and wii night in!/update: New Year's Eve!
Didnt think I'd do: go inside a pyramid
Ouch: burning arm with pan of boiling water a week before holiday in Egypt
Holidays: Egypt/Glastonbury Festival/Spain

Best game (Wii): Tony Hawk's Downhill Challenge
Best game, (PS2): Lego Star Wars
Best game (PC) Bioshock
Worst game: Marvel Superheroes (Wii)

Britain's oldest serving monarch

Queen Elizabeth II became the oldest serving monarch of the UK at today, beating her great great grandmother, Queen Victoria. Here is a list of facts to mark the occasion:

  • Victoria was born on May 24, 1819 and lived for 81 years and 243 days.
  • The Queen will have to wait until 9 September 2015 to beat Victoria's as the longest-reigning British monarch, 64 years.
  • The current Queen has been "active" longer, as Victoria went into a decade of retreat from public life after the death of her husband Albert.
  • Elizabeth II took the throne in 1952. She is one of only five kings or queens since the 1066 Norman Conquest to reign for more than half a century.
  • Prince Charles is closing in on the longest heir-in-waiting. Victoria's son became King Edward VII in 1901, aged just over 59 years and two months. Prince Charles turned 59 on November 14.
  • Buckingham Palace have always hinted that The Queen has no intention of abdicating to make way for Charles. Her mother lived until the age of 101 so he mighty have a while to wait!
  • The Queen's full title is: 'Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'
  • Queen Elizabeth II is the United Kingdom's Head of State. She is Queen of 16 former British colonies and the British Commonwealth: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Greneda, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
  • During her reign, The Queen has undertaken over 256 official overseas visits to 129 different countries.
  • The Queen's made her first Christmas address to the nation in her coronation year and this year will mark the 50th year it has been televised.

18 December 2007

Christmas is coming...

...and the Fat Cats are getting, er, fatter. Despite figures being down and the cut price sales starting already, millions will still be spent. In these consumerist times here are a few Christmas spending facts:

  • According to the debit card company, Switch, each person in the UK will spend an average of £862, up 20% on 2001 (£710)
  • Christmas tree sales will total an estimated £245 million which is nearly 7million Christmas tree.
  • This year on December 1st, three of London's main streets were closed to traffic and Christmas shopppers spent more than £100 million.
  • The main targets for shoplifters are cosmetic, womenswear, perfume and alcohol. They will steal approximately £431 million worth of goods over the Christmas period. £1 million
  • On the Friday before Christmas last year, shopper withdrew £q million a minute from the nations cash machines.
  • Online sales last year reached £7.66 billion in online sales on the run up to Christmas.
  • 10% of men spend over £1000 on gifts but only 2% of women do.
  • On average, parents spend £200 per child
  • Last week, three studies assessing the Government's poverty strategy concluded half a million children have been lifted out of poverty, but 3.9m remain there.
  • In 2006, a family of four on benefits could, on average, only manage to spend on average of £121 over the whole of Christmas.

13 December 2007

NME's Top 50 Albums of the Year

The once ubiquitous bible of independent music, the NME has published it's top 50 albums of the year (I shall add their tracks of the year at another point). It's another prize for Klaxons after winning this years Mercury Music Prize. I've put comments when I know enough about the band. I've heard of most of them but couldn't place all of them to the tracks I've heard so I'll not comment. Feel free to add a comment yourself on this list or any omissions.

  1. *Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future - fantastic band, great singles and amazing live
  2. Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare - brilliant album, never thought they'd follow up their debut but they did with this amazing set of tunes and fantastic lyrics
  3. *Radiohead - In Rainbow - still haven't managed to download this but I love the first single
  4. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible - saw them at Glastonbury, amazed and disappointed in equal amounts
  5. Les Savy Fav - Let's Stay Friends
  6. Kings of Leon - Because of the Times - love the singles and brilliant live band (I saw a few years ago)
  7. MIA - Kala
  8. Biffy Clyro - Puzzle - great singles, might have to look in getting this one
  9. The Cribs - Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever - great standout title single
  10. Battles - Mirrored
  11. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
  12. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
  13. PJ Harvey - White Chalk
  14. Babyshambles - Shotters Nation - biggest surprise at Glastonbury that Pete turned up and they were actually quite good
  15. The White Stripe - Icky Thump - stunning return to form
  16. The Coral - Roots and Echos
  17. Future of the Left - Curses
  18. The Good, The Bad and the Queen - The Good, The Bad and the Queen - great singles, must get a copy. Damon Album has become one of this country's most interesting artists.
  19. Richard Hawley - Lady's Bridge
  20. Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City - I don't "get" Blo Party, truly atrocious at Glasto
  21. *The Enemy - We'll Live and Die in These Towns - one of the albums on my Christmas list
  22. Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil
  23. Maps - We Can Create
  24. The Maccabees - Colour It In - only know the track used on some advert and it's quite lovely
  25. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
  26. Kate Nash - Made of Bricks - simply annoying and I can only listen to her songs once before they get on my nerves
  27. The Horrors - Strange House
  28. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
  29. Lethal Bizzle - Back to Bizznizz - not my cup of tea, celebrating lawlessness is just wrong imho
  30. Queens of the Stoneage - Era Vulgaris - loved their earlier stuff, Sick Sick Sick was horrendous and Josh Homme is a complete knob!
  31. The Pigeon Detectives - Wait For Me - catchy singles, look good live but ultimately quite a standard "indie" band
  32. Grinderman - Grinderman
  33. Simian Mobile Disco - Attack Decau Sustain
  34. New Young Pony Club - Fantastic Playroom
  35. Super Furry Animals - Hey Venus
  36. Holy Fuck - Holy Fuck
  37. Jamie T - Panic Prevention - better than The Streets
  38. Justice - †
  39. Jeffrey Lewis - 12 Crass Songs
  40. El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead
  41. Menomena - Friend and Foe
  42. Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position
  43. *Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace - if I don't get this for Christmas I'm off to HMV to buy it
  44. Gruff Rhys - Candylion
  45. !!! - Myth Takes
  46. Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob - great follow up album and possibly the best, most fun act of Glastonbury this year. Deceptively simple lyrics and a real post punk pop feel.
  47. Enter Shakari - Take to the Skies
  48. The View - Hats of to the Busker - so talented at such an early age! Love this album.
  49. Interpol - Our Love to Admire
  50. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup

* I haven't actually bought anything for ages, what with my birthday not long gone and Christmas coming up I daren't buy anything in case someone gets me something. The two marked albums are the ones I the ones I shall be getting my hands on next, whether for Christmas or buying them myself.

11 December 2007

The Forbes Fictional 15 - Rich List

The posh American magazine, Forbes, known for it's list of billionaires, also does a rich list for fictional characters. Estimating their wealth as it would be in today's society, this year's list includes cartoon characters, comic book heroes and even a wizard. Even make-believe people earn more than I will in a lifetime. But not all of them are happy.

"Daddy" Warbucks - nothing to do with coffee

  1. Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks - Net Worth: $36.2 billion Source: Defense Industries
  2. C. Montgomery Burns - $16.8 billion - Energy
  3. Scrooge McDuck - $10.9 billion - Mining, Treasure Hunting
  4. Richie Rich - $10.7 billion - Inheritance, Conglomerates
  5. Jed Clampett - $7.7 billion - Oil & Gas, Banking
  6. Mr Monopoly - $7.1 billion - Real Estate
  7. Bruce Wayne - $6.8 billion - Inheritance, Defense
  8. Tony Stark - $3.0 billion - Defense
  9. Prince Abakaliki of Nigeria - $2.8 billion - Telecommunications
  10. Thurston Howell III - $2.7 billion - Howell Industries
  11. Willy Wonka - $2 billion - Candy, Aerospace
  12. Lucius Malfoy - $1.3 billion - Inheritance-
  13. Tony Montana - $1 billion - Cocaine
  14. Lara Croft - $1 billion - Inheritance, Antiques
  15. Mario - $1 billion - Inheritance, Antiques

08 December 2007

Empire Online's 100 Sexiest Movie Stars

The results are in for Empire magazine's online poll to find the 100 Sexiest Movies Stars of all time. No surprises that Angelina won, but the top male, new Bond Daniel Craig, has overtaken Johnny Depp (I'm not sure who my sister would prefer but she would certainly approve!).

I approve, myself, of many in the 100, Natalie, Keira, Audrey and Isla for example. I guess Kylie Minogue and Natalie Imbruglia are primarily pop stars (though they have appeared in films) but where are the lovely Milla Jovovich and Ziyi Zhang, amongst others.

  1. Angelina Jolie
  2. Natalie Portman
  3. Daniel Craig
  4. Jessica Alba
  5. Johnny Depp
  6. Eva Green
  7. Brad Pitt
  8. Scarlett Johansson
  9. Keira Knightley
  10. Gerard Butler
  11. George Clooney
  12. Halle Berry
  13. Christian Bale
  14. Marilyn Monroe
  15. Hugh Jackman
  16. Jessica Biel
  17. Matt Damon
  18. Anne Hathaway
  19. Paul Newman
  20. Kate Winslet
  21. Orlando Bloom
  22. Kate Beckinsale
  23. Daniel Radcliffe
  24. Salma Hayek
  25. Clive Owen
  26. Emma Watson
  27. James McAvoy
  28. Keanu Reeves
  29. Charlize Theron
  30. Marlon Brando
  31. Cate Blanchett
  32. Jake Gyllenhaal
  33. Michelle Pfeiffer
  34. Russell Crowe
  35. Monica Belluccci
  36. Leonardo DiCaprio
  37. Rachel Weisz
  38. Denzel Washington
  39. Grace Kelly
  40. Ewan McGregor
  41. Nicole Kidman
  42. Steve McQueen
  43. Rosario Dawson
  44. Bruce Willis
  45. Catherine Zeta-Jones
  46. Harrison Ford
  47. Cameron Diaz
  48. Cary Grant
  49. Sean Connery
  50. Penelope Cruz
  51. Clark Gable
  52. Jennifer Aniston
  53. Robert Redford
  54. Jennifer Connelly
  55. Jason Statham
  56. Megan Fox
  57. Julia Roberts
  58. Will Smith
  59. Rita Hayworth
  60. Liv Tyler
  61. Eric Bana
  62. Audrey Tautou
  63. Reese Witherspoon
  64. Eva Mendes
  65. Gael Garcia Bernal
  66. Sandra Bullock
  67. Ryan Reynolds
  68. Rachel McAdams
  69. Viggo Mortensen
  70. John Cusack
  71. Lauren Bacall
  72. Gary Oldman
  73. Javier Bardem
  74. Sigourney Weaver
  75. Ryan Gosling
  76. Uma Thurman
  77. Richard Gere
  78. Sofia Loren
  79. Heath Ledger
  80. Sarah Michelle Gellar
  81. Tom Cruise
  82. Susan Sarandon
  83. Alan Rickman
  84. Katherine Heigl
  85. Al Pacino
  86. Jane Fonda
  87. Warren Beatty
  88. Sienna Miller
  89. Clint Eastwood
  90. Elizabeth Taylor
  91. Jamie Foxx
  92. Catherine Deneuve
  93. Zac Efron
  94. Isla Fisher
  95. James Dean
  96. Lucy Liu
  97. Thandie Newton
  98. Brigitte Bardot
  99. Chris Evans
  100. Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Who do you think is missing from this list? Leave a comment.

06 December 2007

British Comedy Awards 2007

Gavin and Stacey, the cult BBC3 comedy, scooped three awards at last nights British Comedy Awards. It was over= shadowed by the fact that for the first time ITV didn't screen the ceremony live, due to rows that last year's event staged a viewer phone-in scandal. The audience was still asked to vote (on a premium rate phone line) even after the count was in and the winner decided.

This seems to have been a trend on British tv and radio. The BBC has suspended all competitions. Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, which was criticised for irregularities in their phon ins, won a couple of awards, though presenters Ant and Dec were again absent on the night.

  • Television comedy actor - David Mitchell, Peep Show
  • Television comedy actress - Liz Smith, The Royle Family: The Queen of Sheba
  • Comedy entertainment personality - Simon Amstell, Never Mind the Buzzcocks
  • Male comedy newcomer - James Corden, Gavin and Stacey
  • Female comedy newcomer - Ruth Jones, Gavin and Stacey
  • New British television comedy (scripted) - Gavin and Stacey
  • Television comedy - Peep Show
  • New comedy entertainment programme - Al Murray's Happy Hour
  • Live stand-up - Alan Carr
  • Comedy film - The Simpsons Movie
  • The Writers' Guild Ronnie Barker Award - Simon Pegg
  • British comedy lifetime achievement award - Stephen Fry

05 December 2007

Wurld edukation

The UK has slipped down the rankings of global secondary school education. The international study is produced by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development produce a study every three years (although the UK participated last in 2000) and a performance table is drawn up from the results of tests taken by 15-year-olds. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assess their ability to apply their knowledge in "real world" situations. PISAs are taken by 400,000 students in 57 countries.

The United Kingdom is the only country which was in the top-performing group in 2000 to have dropped down into the lower group. In 2000 they were in eighth position in maths and seventh in reading and in the recently published 2006 table occupy 24th for maths and 17th for literacy.

The UK has slipped out of the top ten in both maths and reading, and sciences are suffering. To be honest it doesn't surprise me but does make me annoyed, with Labour's election promises based on "Education, education and education". The tests over the years have shown that knowledge is a kind of currency. They point to the economic success of South Korea (and the Far East) who only a few decades ago was close to the bottom of the table and had an economy to match. With great governmental input and funding in education in the past they are now reaping the benefits. Why can't our government see that spending and good management now will make a world of difference and pay back in the future.

PISA Reading Top Ten

  1. South Korea
  2. Finland
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Canada
  5. New Zealand
  6. Ireland
  7. Australia
  8. Liechtenstein
  9. Poland
  10. Sweden


  1. Taiwan
  2. Finland
  3. Hong Kong
  4. S.Korea
  5. Netherlands
  6. Switzerland
  7. Canada
  8. Macao-China
  9. Liechtenstein
  10. Japan


  1. Finland
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Canada
  4. Taiwan
  5. Estonia
  6. Japan
  7. New Zealand
  8. Australia
  9. Netherlands
  10. Liechtenstein

I know my grammar is terrible but thank God for the spell checker!

04 December 2007

The Turner Prize 2007

This year's Turner Prize for contemporary British art was announced last night and was won by Mark Wallinger for his work State Britain, a meticulous re-creation of anti-war protester, Brian Haw's Parliament Square protest. Haw has been on the green opposite the seat of the British Government since 2001 but due to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (forbidding unauthorised demonstrations within a kilometre of Parliament Square) it has been largely dismantled.

Ironically, Wallinger's reconstruction, when displayed at Tate Britain on the South Bank, was with-in the kilometre exclusion zone. But they escaped the wrath of the authorities due to it's status as a work of art. Wallinger is most famous for his video installation of himself disguised in a bear suit looking around an art gallery and his controversial Ecce Homo, a statue of a bald Jesus Christ, which stood on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square in 1999.

The Turner Prize has always been controversial so here is a list of facts about this country's most prestigious art award.

  • The Turner Prize is awarded for the best exhibition by a British or Britain-based artist in the 12 months before the nominations are made in May. Each of the shortlisted artists receives £5,000.State Britain cost Wallinger £90,000 to create and the commission paid £3000 for it.
  • The Turner Prize winner wins £25,000, which will go some way into recouping the costs
  • It took 14 people six months to make State of Britain. most of the time was spent sourcing the materials and suitable aging them to reflect the days the original items spent outside.
  • London born Wallinger, studied at Chelsea School of Art and at Goldsmiths and is quoted as saying "I think art needs to engage the viewer and has to have a hook that isn't entirely cerebral." and "I like Velázquez, Manet, Warhol; realists that held up a mirror to their society that was radical, but not pedantic."
  • Wallinger was also nominated for the contest in twelve years ago, as was fellow nominee Mike Nelson. the other losers thins year were sculptor Nathan Coley and photographer and film-maker Zarina Bhimji.
  • Previous winners include Howard Hodgkins (first winner in 1985), Gilbert and George (1986), Richard Long (1989), Gillian Wearing (1997, with 60 minutes of Silence, a video of silent actors standing still for an hour, dressed in police uniforms), Chris Ofili (1989, with his elephant dung adorned paintings), Simon Starling (2005, who converted the materials from a garden shed into a boat, sailed it down the River Rhine, before reconstructing the shed), Tomma Abts (2006).
  • The 1999 winner was not Tracey Emin, with her famous and controversial unmade bed and tent with the names of all the men she'd ever slept with sewn inside, but video artist Steve McQueen. Emin just got more column inches along the lines of "...but is it art?"
  • Damian Hirst has also never won the prize, despite nominations in 1992 and 1995.
  • "But is it art" was also asked of 2001 winner Martin Creed's work, an empty room with the lights going on and off.
  • The Guardian newspaper expanded on the phrase in 2002, commenting on Fiona Banner's wall size text exhibit, Arsewoman in Wonderland, described a pornographic film in detail,"It's art. But is it porn?"
  • Sexual imagery seem to excite the judges. The Champman Brother's entry in 2003 appeared to be two cheap plastic blow up dolls with dildos. They were in fact bronze sculptures painted to look like plastic.
  • This year, for the first time, the Turner Prize was held in Tate Liverpool, not in London, to support the city being European Capital of Culture 2008.

03 December 2007


It seems there is a phobia for everything. No just disliking, or being scared for a reason. A phobia is an irrational fear which leads to actions to avoid the source in anyway possible. The following list is of phobias that seem quite strange. They might seem funny but for the people who experience them it must be truly odd. Please don't laugh, please! If they have a medical name, at least one person must have been diagnosed with them! Some must make life impossible: Dendrophobia (fear of trees) or Agyrophobia (fear of streets or crossing the street).

Luckily I don't have an irrational fear of anything. All my fears are rational, like pain (I come up in bruises).

  • Amathophobia - Fear of dust (or Koniophobia).
  • Arachibutyrophobia - Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
  • Chronomentrophobia - Fear of clocks.
  • Automatonophobia - Fear of ventriloquist's dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues - anything that falsely represents a sentient being.
  • Coulrophobia - Fear of clowns.
  • Lachanophobia - Fear of vegetables.
  • Levophobia - Fear of things to the left side of the body
  • Lutraphobia - Fear of otters.
  • Geniophobia - Fear of chins.
  • Genuphobia - Fear of knees.
  • Helminthophobia - Fear of being infested with worms.
  • Ithyphallophobia - Fear of seeing, thinking about or having an erect penis.
  • Nephophobia - Fear of clouds.
  • Octophobia - Fear of the figure 8.
  • Papaphobia - Fear of the Pope
  • Peladophobia - Fear of bald people
  • Pentheraphobia - Fear of mother-in-law. (also Novercaphobia)
  • Phonophobia - Fear of one's own voice.
  • Politicophobia - Fear or abnormal dislike of politicians.
  • Sesquipedalophobia - Fear of long words (they could have called it something shorter!)
  • Zemmiphobia - Fear of the great mole rat (not any rat, just that one!).

By the way, the title of this thread, Panophobia, is the fear of everything.

01 December 2007

Empire Top Films of 2007

Well it's started. The end of year lists by all the magazines and newspapers, their "best of 2007" opinions, might provide a handy body of lists for this blog! Empire magazine is first off the mark with their favourite films, as voted for by their staff. Empire is my favourite film magazine so it's the one I take most notice of. It also shows how little I've been to the cinema. The movies that I did manage to catch are in uppercase, with my star rating.

I have to metion the cover of this months Empire though. It's a fantastic image of Heath Ledger as The Joker in the new Batman film, The Dark Knight. Looks bloody fantastic, a really clever re-imagining of the Clown Prince of Crime. I'll have to make a list of movies I'm looking forward to in the next year, The Dark Knight being one of them.

Image from Ain't It Cool News

Let me know what you think the best film of the year was, add a comment. Mine is undoubtedly Once, you can read my review here.

Anyway, on with Empire's Top Films of 2007

25. Venus
24. A Prairie Home Companion
23. 2 Days in Paris
22. Michael Clayton
21. Sunshine
20. Bable
19. Waitress
18. ONCE *****
17. The Fountain
16. Lions for Lambs
15. This is England
14. Notes on a Scandal
13. Inland Empire
12. Control
11. Letters from Iwo Jima
10. Half Nelson
9. Knocked Up
8. HOT FUZZ ****
7. Superbad
6. Zodiac
5. The Assassination of Jesse James...
4. Ratatouille *****
3. Atonement
2. The Lives of Others
1. The Bourne Ultimatum

29 November 2007

BIFA - The British Independent Awards

The BIFA's were held last night: the British Independent Film Awards. Rock photographer Anton Corbijn's Control, the black and white movie about the tragic life of Joy Division's lead singer, Ian Curtis came away with five awards, including best film and director. Intended to celebrate the best emerging and existent talents in independent British cinema, a few established names were amongst the winners.

  • Best British Independent Film - Control
  • Best Actress - Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
  • Best Actor - Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
  • Best Supporting Actor/Actress - Toby Kebbell, Control
  • Most Promising Newcomer - Sam Riley, Control
  • Best Director - Anton Corbijn, Control
  • Best Screenplay - Patrick Marber, Notes on a Scandal
  • The Douglas Hickox Award (Best Debut Director) - Anton Corbijn, Control
  • Best Documentary - Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten
  • Best Technical Achievement - Mark Tildesley, Sunshine
  • Best Foreign Independent Feature - The Lives of Others
  • The Richard Harris Award - Ray Winstone
  • The Variety Award (for bringing the British film industry to international attention) - Daniel Craig

28 November 2007

Some favourites from my childhood

Following on from yesterday's list (and me only having heard of about three of the children's BAFTA winners) it got me thinking about some of the tv programmes and films I loved as a kid. I'll try and include only the non-obvious and obscure and avoid Star Wars, which cam out at exactly the right age for me and made me realise that film could be more than Disney Real Life Adventures and that space didn't look just like Earth (Dr Who) or like a set from The Magic Roundabout (Star Trek).

This list is totally random, not a definitive list and in no particular order. It's just ones I've thought off the top of my head.

Ulysses 31 - Japanese/French sci-fi cartoon based on Homer's "Odyssey". Ulysses is banished to the furthest side of the Universe and has to travel back to Earth, break the curse on his spaceship crew (frozen via Hades, facing monsters after killing the cyclops whilst saving his kids. All sorts of space monsters (Greek Gods) were battled and adventures ensued, with the help of what I still think is the coolest little robot in science fiction: the tiny red No-No, who made a funny noise when he ran around. From memory the animation was better than most cartoons around at the time. Really exciting and quite different. Mad theme tune too!

Return to Witch Mountain - Disney caper. I have no idea what happened but I missed then going to Witch Mountain the first time. This was an adventure about a brother and sister, Tony and Tia from outer space with special psycho-kinetic powers. Bette Davies and Christopher Lee were the baddies and they kidnap Tony to use his powers for a bank robbery or something, controlling him through hypnosis. Tia meets a street gang of young scamps who spend the film trying to rescue the brother.

As in all Disney films of it's ilk, all but one of the adults are baddies, the main villains, the truancy bloke trying to get the street urchins into school etc. The effects were probably terrible: people being levitated into the air by the power of the kids minds, and the like, but I thought it was cool enough for me to buy (and read!) the book. It stared those two kids who seemed to be in everything (Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards). And it inspired many a playground game. Oh, how I wanted powers like that! I think I saw a clip on Screen Test and had to see it!

Battle of the Planets - Americanised version of the Japanese Gatchaman, BotP was just cool. Five kids with special powers fighting the evil Zoltan from thr planet Spectra, as G-Force the gang had a spaceship that could turn into the Fiery Phoenix for some reason and they made a human pyramid and spun around , that increased their powers or something. I never really knew what was going on but it was great. This was probably due to the fact that the American version was censored, with all the violent bits deemed fine of Japanese kids was too much for the English speaking world and were replaced by a robot in a space station giving G-Force advice. Another playground favourite. And everyone tried to do the Keyop voice! I used to fancy Princess too!

Glitterball - From the Children's Film Foundation, makers of many memorable Saturday morning films. A group of kids help a sentient silver ball (think Phantasm without the spikes) escape scientists looking to harness its power and go back into space where it came from. A magical big ball-baring, really. The alien ball is scared and lost but so realises the children are there to help. This was made before Spielberg's ET. Kids chase adults and magic helps them out again, I guess I liked these kind of stories. I read the book of this too. See, watching TV inspires reading!

The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon - I really don't remember too mu8ch about this except the phrase "You can do it Duffy Moon, you can do it" repeated over and over. It was something about a little kid who was bullied but through the power of positive thinking could do things he never thought possible. Like running faster, getting the girl and growing taller! Funny the things you remember. (Also starred Ike Eisenmann, told you he was in everything).

Alarm in the Danube Delta - East German morning kids TV serial about a coule of kids in canoes. Apart from the bad dubbing that's all I remember. But the reason I remember it is cos me and my brother used to play at being the two boys on a boating lake one summer holiday.

Red Hand Gang - kids versus adults again. Solving crimes. The oldies won't believe these urchins but they always save the day in the end. Each kid had a quirk and specialism that helped out, like a young A-Team! I'm sure one of the stories was about a monkey who could communicate with sign language... maybe.

Press Gang - This came a bit later but a great comedy drama about the workings of a school newspaper. the straight-laced editor (played by Julia Sawalha - who I fancied at the time too!) was always battling to keep the paper running, keep the staff in check and keep the stories true. The attentions of Dexter Fletcher, the American schoolkid who she couldn't stand/fancied the pants off didn't help.

27 November 2007

Children's BAFTA's

The British Academy Film and Television Awards for Children where held this weekend. Boy I'm getting old cos most of these I've never heard of. A future list should be, I think, is film and TV I loved as a kid!


  • Drama - That Summers Day - Production Company: Hat Trick Productions
  • Entertainment - The Slammer - CBBC
  • Animation -The Secret Show - Collingwood O'Hare Entertainment
  • Factual - The Wrong Trainers - CBBC
  • International - Spongebob Squarepants - United Plankton Pictures Inc for Nickelodeon
  • Pre-School Animation - Pocoyo - Granada Kids/Zinkia Entertainment/Cosgrove Hall Films
  • Feature Film - Happy Feet
  • Pre-School Live Action - In the Night Garden - Ragdoll Productions
  • Presenter - Barney Harwood
  • Interactive -The Secret Show (website) - Complete Control
  • Writer - Charlie and Lola - Tiger Aspect Productions
  • Short Form - Nick Big Green Thing - Nickelodeon UK
  • Learning Secondary - Recollections: Eyewitnesses Remembering the Holocaust - Holocaust Trust/Picture Production Company
  • Learning Primary - Espresso Education: Espresso Primary -Espresso Education
  • Breakthrough Talent - My Life as a Popat -Feelgood Fiction
  • Video Game - Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party (PS2) - SCEE External Development Studio
  • The BAFTA Kids' Vote Sponsored by Electronic Arts - The Simpsons Movie
  • BBC me and my movie Sponsored by BAFTA - The Unwelcome Stranger - Rosalind (aged 14, Norfolk)

22 November 2007

England managers

Following on from last night's disaster Steve McClaren the England football coach has been sacked. Too right too, with him being one of the worst England managers ever and England not qualifying for a major competition since the 1994 World Cup.

Steve McClaren (2006-2007) P18 W9 D4 L5 (28% loss percentage)
2008 European Championships - Did not qualify

Previous England Manager's Records (in order of win pecentage)

Sir Alf Ramsey (1963-74) P113 W69 D27 L17 (61.06% wins)
1964 European Championship - 1st Round
1966 World Cup - Winners
1968 European Championship - 3rd Place
1970 World Cup - Quarter Finals
1972 European Championship - Quarter Finals
1974 World Cup - Did not qualify

Glenn Hoddle (1996-99) P28 W17 D6 L5 (60.71%)
1998 World Cup - 2nd Round

Ron Greenwood (1977-82) P55 W33 D12 L10 (59.99%)
1978 World Cup - Did not qualify
1980 European Championship - 1st Rd (3rd, Grp 2)
1982 World Cup - 2nd Phase (2nd, Phase II Grp B)

Sven-Goran Eriksson (2001-06) P67 W40 D17 L10 (59.70%)
2002 World Cup - Quarter Finals
2004 European Championships - Quarter Finals
2006 World Cup - Quarter Finals

Sir Walter Winterbottom (1946-62) P139 W78 D33 L28 (56.11%)
1950 World Cup - 1st Round (2nd, Group 2)
1954 World Cup - Quarter Finals 1958 World Cup - 1st Round (3rd, Group 4)
1962 World Cup - Quarter Finals

Sir Bobby Robson (1982-90) P95 W47 D30 L18 (49.47%)
1984 European Championship - Did not qualify
1986 World Cup - Quarter Finals 1988
European Championship - 1st Rd (4th, Grp 2)
1990 World Cup - 4th Place

Terry Venables (1994-96) P23 W11 D11 L1 (47.82%)
1996 European Championship - Semi Finals

Graham Taylor (1990-93) P38 W18 D13 L7 (47.36%)
1992 European Championship - 1st Rd (4th, Grp 1)
1994 World Cup - Did not qualify

Kevin Keegan (1999-2000) P18 W7 D7 L4 (38.88%)
2000 European Championship - 1st Round (3rd, Group A)

Don Revie (1974-77) P29 W14 D8 L7 (38.27%)
1976 European Championship - Did not qualify

Caretaker managers

Joe Mercer (1974) P7 W3 D3 L1 (42.85%)
Howard Wilkinson (1999 & 2000) P2 W0 D1 L1 (0%)
Peter Taylor (2000) P1 W0 D0 L1 (0%)

21 November 2007

FIFA World Rankings - ***updated***

It's crunch time for the England national football team. Tonight is their final game in their Euro '08 qualifiers and if they lose against Croatia they're out. I've been saying for months that they don't deserve to be in the competition. It would be the kick in the arse that the Football Association need and it might mean we get a decent manager.

England were in the easiest group of the "home nations" and they should have already qualified by now. Scotland were so unlucky, losing out to a goal from Italy (the Word Champions) in injury time, having already beaten France twice in their group. Northern Ireland have a chance if other games go their way. But England only have a chance because Israel beat Russia (who would overtake England if they beat Andorra tonight and England lose) in the last minute, last week. Poor, very poor.

Here are the current Coca Cola FIFA World Rankings, and for the first time in ages England are outside the top ten. I'm surprised they're not lower.

  1. Argentina
  2. Brazil
  3. Italy
  4. France
  5. Germany
  6. Spain
  7. Holland
  8. Portugal
  9. Czech Republic
  10. Croatia
  12. Romania
  13. Scotland
  14. Greece
  15. Mexico


Well, England are out. Beaten 2-3 by Croatia and finishing third in the group behind Croatia and Russia.

It was a very poor first half and England conceded two soft goals in the first 15 minutes. The system just didn't work and Croatia were a class above. Somehow England scraped back two goals: a penalty from Frank Lampard and a brilliant Peter Crouch goal after a superb cross from David Beckham. But a poor performance from virtually the whole team got worse when England sat back on the qualification score and Croatia got the winner with 15 minutes to go.

A miracle in Andorra could have helped England but Russia's single first half goal (against a team that has never won a qualifying match) always looked enough.

As I said earlier, it's time the FA had a good look at the problems. McClaren must go. Very disappointing but not all together surprising. We didn't deserve to be in the competition. And refering to the list, England are the highest ranking team not be to in the championship.

***update #2***

As suspected, as of today (Nov 23) England have now dropped to number 12. As Greece have jumper to number 11 that means there are now nine European teams above them, moving England into the second tier for the imminent draw for the 2010 World Cup in Germany. This means we will definately meet one of the top seed teams in the group stages.

19 November 2007

Colourful bands

Bands with colourful names:

  • Simply Red
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Pink
  • Green Day
  • Orange Juice
  • Deep Purple
  • The Blue Aeroplanes

They can sing a rainbow (sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too. Listen with your eyes... etc)

16 November 2007

Just not funny

Comedy is a funny thing. It seems more polarising than taste in music. What one person has them rolling around holding their sides leaves others cold and wondering what all the fuss is about. After a lot of fanfare, hyping up by various dj's on the radio and friends recommendations, the new series of The Mighty Boosh started on tv last night. I thought I'd give it another try and I thought it was terrible.

The Mighty Boosh is a surreal comedy with Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett and their "magical" adventures, meeting an odd assortment of freaks and weirdos along the way, with an "amusing" tune, or two, thrown in for good measure. Now, I can handle surreal (I love Vic and Bod, Monty Python, Terry Gilliam movies etc) but The Boosh is just purile, unfunny and seems like it's trying too hard. I even find Noel Fielding to be very funny (and clever) when he's interviewed or is on comedy panel game shows. It seems to be one of those shows that gets away with it because it's a cult that you're supposed to like and if you don't get it there must be something wrong with it.

But sometimes I think I don't have a sense of humour cos I don't find things that so many people seem to rave about. Well, yaboo, I'm stating that The Mighty Boosh sucks big time and as I've written that on the Internet it is officially true, so there.

Things I don't find funny that others think are hilarious:

  • The Mighty Boosh
  • The League of Gentlemen
  • Red Dwarf
  • Adam Sandler
  • Will Farrell
  • Woody Allen
  • Sideways
  • Avid Merrion and Bo Selecta
  • Rob Brydon comedies
  • Chubby Brown
  • Lee Evans
  • Bernard Manning
  • Joe Pasquale

I better stop there, I'm in a ranting mood and this list could get huge! And it's the BBC's Children in Need tonight but I can't say that cos it raises so much money (but it does ruin a Friday evening's worth of tv every year).

15 November 2007

Review: Stardust

14 November 2007

Love To Learn

Today this blog celebrates my wife's language school being open for one year. Love To Learn opened a year ago today and has been hugely successful and I am so proud of Sally and everyone involved. Mainly specialising in Study Holidays for foreign students to come over to England and learn the language (and culture by staying with host families) it has been so popular bookings have had to be postponed for next year because they are so busy. Bookings extend into 2009. They also teach other languages including Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

So, this list is inspired by the English languages and is a list of the top ten most commonly used nouns in the English language, occording to Oxford University Press researchers, taken from an BBC online article I found from last year. The results are quite surprising. Time takes the top spot, work made number 15 but rest and play didn't even feature in the top 100. That says a lot about today's society.

The top 10 most commonly used nouns in English:

  1. Time
  2. Person
  3. Year
  4. Way
  5. Day
  6. Thing
  7. Man
  8. World
  9. Life
  10. Hand

13 November 2007

**added note** Feed the World

Now I stumbled upon this site and it's a great idea. FreeRice.com is an online word game that tests your vocabulary and for every question you get right the makers of the site donate 10 grains of rice to be distributed to the poorest nations of the world via the United Nations. Ten grains doesn't sound much but since going online in October it's donated 50,000 grams of rice, which is quite amazing. So if we all play just a little a day then it will make a huge difference.

The only catch I can see is that the site displays three small adverts at the bottom of the screen which are unobtrusive and you don't have to click. Go and play, improve your vocabulary and help the starving at the same time, you can't lose.

Global Warnings - predictions come true

Here is a list of predictions made in the past of things that have happened to our planet brought about by changes in the world's climate. Perhaps we should all listen to what the scientists (I mean the ones not being paid by global business interests) are saying now about what's going to happen in the future. Even if they're wrong what have we got to lose? Things that seem obvious and quite normal ideas today were once thought of as speculation and scare mongering. the following list proves that they were correct:

  1. By the year 2000 there will be a noticeable increase in temperature.
  2. Tropical diseases will increase.
  3. The sea levels will rise.
  4. The more CO2 that is release the more the Earth will warm up.
  5. The CO2 will acidify the oceans.
  6. Intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes will intensify/
  7. Australia will become drier.
  8. Food crops will be adversely affected by increased temperature.
  9. Many species will become extinct due to temperature variations.
  10. A rapid increase in the melting of the Earth's ice caps.

The argument that "as an individual I can't make a difference" is wrong and it's not just governments that need to act is misguided. If we ALL made just a little effort to cut back on a number of things; electric consumption, waste, re-cycling, travel etc, then it would make a BIG difference.

Now, switch off that light if you're not in the room. Simple and really not an inconvenience. OK, rant over.

09 November 2007

Musical epiphanies

The Guardian have done an article on the songs that made pop stars realise music was a force to be reckoned with and why. The song that jumped out and made a difference. Some of these seem obvious but others are quite interesting:

  • Kate Nash - Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry
  • Sarah Harding (Girls Aloud) - Don't Look Back in Anger by Oasis
  • Katie Melua - Imagine by John Lennon
  • Jack Peñate - Respect by Aretha Franklin
  • Natasha Bedingfield - If It's Magic by Stevie Wonder
  • Kate Walsh - Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos
  • Roisin Murphy - The Lady Is a Tramp - Frank Sinatra
  • Stephen Duffy (the Lilac Time) - Ducks On a Pond by Incredible String Band
  • Amy Macdonald - Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
  • José Gonzáles - Hoy Estoy Aqui by Markama
  • Kano - Bogle Dance by Buju Banton
  • Irwin Sparkes (the Hoosiers) - Don't Be Cruel by Bobby Brown
  • Kelly Jones (Stereophonics) - Highway To Hell by AC/DC
  • Jason Pebworth (Orson) - Another one Bites the Dust by Queen
  • Nina Persson (the Cardigans) - I Love Rock'n'Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  • Sister Bliss (Faithless) - Golden Brown by The Stranglers

Mine would probably one of three (all from my parents' music collection), either This Old Guitar by John Denver (a song that I wish I'd written and showed how emotional music can be and how it can express a feeling better than anything else), Solitaire by The Carpenters (I loved the way it told a story and Karen's voice is amazing and heartfelt) but probably my number one would be:

The Boxer - Simon and Garfunkle. - As a kid I loved the story and remember joining in with the "lie la lie" bits and doing the crashing drum punching bit. It also told a story with really clever lyrics (like the whole Bridge Over Troubled Water album) and really recreated a sense of time and place. It was certainly a step up from The Wombles and Disney's Greatest Hits!

I suppose it depends on your age and what your family where listening to, but what was your musical epiphany?

08 November 2007

NME Cool List

The trying- too-hard-to-be-oh-so-trendy NME has published their Cool List this week. It's the once-good music paper's annual list of rock and pop starts they think make the grade in the cool stakes, something that is so subjective and arbitrary that it annoys every year. Former winners include Alex Turner, Beth Ditto, Pete Donerty, Justin Timberlake and Jack White.

NME editor Conor McNicholas commented:

“Thirty years after the height of punk there are a whole load of new bands
making wild and passionate noise. But it takes more than just great music to
make it to the top of the Cool List - these people effortlessly set trends with
every breath they take - and it’s great to see that people like Keith Richards
prove that you don’t have to be young to do this!”
The Top 10 Cool People:
  1. Frank Carter, Gallows
  2. Jamie Reynolds, Klaxons
  3. Lovefoxxx, CSS
  4. Ryan Jarman, The Cribs
  5. Lethal Bizzle
  6. Alex Turner, Arctic Monkeys
  7. Kate Nash
  8. Amy Winehouse
  9. Beth Ditto The Gossip
  10. Keith Richards, Rolling Stones
Had it lost it:
  1. Richard Archer Hard-Fi
  2. Sugababes
  3. Donny Tourette Towers of London
  4. The Libertines
  5. Kanye West
  6. Iggy Pop
  7. Mystery Jets
  8. Paul Smith Maximo Park
  9. Paul Mullen

07 November 2007

Ludicrous Laws

I think the people UKTV might read my blog! After my list of stupid criminals and crimes last week they released a list of the UK's craziest laws, as voted for by 4000 members of the public. BBC online published this story yesterday. Here are the results:

The UK's top 10 most ridiculous laws:

  1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament (27%)

  2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British king or queen's image upside-down (7%)

  3. It is illegal for a woman to be topless in Liverpool except as a clerk in a tropical fish store (6%)

  4. Eating mince pies on Christmas Day is banned(5%)

  5. If someone knocks on your door in Scotland and requires the use of your toilet, you are required to let them enter (4%)

  6. In the UK a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet (4%)

  7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail of the Queen (3.5%)

  8. It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing (3%)

  9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour (3%)

  10. It is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls of York, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow (2%)

And they didn't stop there, here are some crazy laws from foreign soils:

The top 10 bizarre foreign laws:

  1. In Ohio, it is illegal to get a fish drunk (9%)

  2. In Indonesia, the penalty for masturbation is decapitation (8%)

  3. A male doctor in Bahrain can only examine the genitals of a woman in the reflection of a mirror (7%)

  4. In Switzerland, a man may not relieve himself standing up after 10pm (6%)

  5. It is illegal to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle in Alabama (6%)

  6. In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on a Sunday could be jailed (6%)

  7. Women in Vermont must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth (6%)

  8. In Milan, it is a legal requirement to smile at all times, except during funerals or hospital visits (5%)

  9. There is no age of consent in Japan (5%)

  10. In France, it is illegal to name a pig Napoleon (4%)

IT for Dummies

Oops, missed yesterday's list, sorry. Here's one that was posted on my forum, apparently an excerpt from an article in the New York Times. Some people really shouldn't be allowed anywhere near computers:

  1. Compaq is considering changing the command "Press Any Key" to "Press Return Key" because of the flood of calls asking where the "Any" key is.
  2. AST technical support had a caller complaining that her mouse was hard to control with the dust cover on. The cover turned out to be the plastic bag the mouse was packaged in.
  3. Another Dell customer called to say he couldn't get his computer to fax anything. After 40 minutes of troubleshooting, the technician discovered the man was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in front of the monitor screen and hitting the "Send" key.
  4. Yet another Dell customer called to complain that his keyboard no longer worked. He had cleaned it by filling up his bathtub with soap and water and soaking the keyboard for a day, then removing all the keys and washing them individually.
  5. A Dell technician received a call from a customer who was enraged because his computer had told him he was "Bad and an invalid." The tech explained that the computer's "bad command" and "invalid" responses shouldn't be taken personally.
  6. A confused caller to IBM was having trouble printing documents. He told the technician that the computer had said it "couldn't find printer." The user had also tried turning the computer screen to face the printer-but that his computer still couldn't "see" the printer.
  7. An exasperated caller to Dell Computer Tech Support couldn't get her new Dell Computer to turn on. After ensuring the computer was plugged in, the technician asked her what happened when she pushed the power button. Her response, "I pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happened." The "foot pedal" turned out to be the computer's mouse.
  8. Another customer called Compaq tech support to say her brand new computer wouldn't work. She said she unpacked the unit, plugged it in and sat there for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen. When asked what happened when she pressed the power switch, she asked, "What power switch?"
  9. Another IBM customer had trouble installing software and rang for support. "I put in the first disk, and that was OK. It said to put in the second disk, and had some problems with the disk. When it said to put in the third disk, I couldn't even fit it in..." The user hadn't realized That "Insert Disk 2" implied removing Disk 1 first.
  10. A story from a Novell NetWare SysOp:CALLER: "Hello, is this Tech Support?" TECH: Yes, it is. How may I help you?"CALLER: "The cup holder on my PC is broken -and I am within my warranty period. How do I go about getting that fixed?"TECH: "I'm sorry, but did you say a cup holder?"CALLER: "Yes, it's attached to the front of my omputer."TECH: "Please excuse me. If I seem a bit stumped, it's because I am. Did you receive this as part of a promotional at a trade show? How did you get this cup holder? Does it have any trademark on it?"CALLER: "It came with my computer. I don't know anything about a promotional. It just has '4X' on it."At this point, the Tech Rep had to mute the caller because he couldn't stand it. He was laughing too hard. The caller had been using the load drawer of the CD-ROM drive as a cup holder and it had snapped it off the drive.
  11. A woman called the Canon help desk with a problem with her printer. The tech asked her if she was "running it under Windows." The woman responded, "No, my desk is next to the door. But that is a good point. The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window and his printer is working fine."
  • 12. TECH SUPPORT: "O.K .. Bob, let's press the control and escape keys at the same time. That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen. Now type the letter "P" to bring up the Program Manager."
  • CUSTOMER: "I don't have a 'P'".
  • TECH SUPPORT: "On your keyboard, Bob."
  • CUSTOMER: "What do you mean?"
  • TECH SUPPORT: "'P' on your keyboard, Bob".
  • CUSTOMER: "I absolutely refuse to do that!"

Disclaimer: I can only guess these are true, they're the kind of thing that get set around via e-mail. Even if they aren't true I can imagine that this kind of thing happens.... and they are amusing.

06 November 2007

Monday Night Pub Quiz

I'm blowing my own trumpet a bit with this one. the forum I frequent holds a "pub quiz" in it's chatroom every Monday night. The quickest to type the correct answer gets a point, the first to five wins. Last night I won again. It's brilliant fun and some of the answers are hilarious and most of them I wouldn't dare put here, being either too rude, blasphemous or libelous or just too bizzar. These are last night's questions so you can have a little quiz to do yourself:

  1. Which was the first European country to issue banknotes?
  2. What were the first living creatures sent into space by the United States?
  3. How many barrels of gunpowder were discovered in the cellars of Westminster Hall as part of Guy Fawkes' gunpowder plot?
  4. What is the name of the dog in "Peter Pan"?
  5. It’s my dad’s 70th birthday today – what is his first name: the same as a soap start who came to a sticky end?
  6. Who was best man at Posh and Becks’ wedding?
  7. What is Norman Fatboy Slim Cook’s first name?
  8. Who called Michael Parkinson “a stupid white man”?
  9. How many tiles are there in a scrabble game?
  10. 10. What is the name of the temple on the Acropolis?
  11. Who sing the theme tune to Dad’s Army?
  12. What’s the round stump on the front of a saddle called?
  13. What is the only clockwise rotating planet?
  14. How long does it take the typical hen to lay 19 dozen eggs?
  15. What is pewter made from?
  16. What did Italians abolish in a 1946 referendum?
  17. Who wrote Catch 22?
  18. What does a hippophobe fear?
  19. What country hosted soccer’s 1978 World Cup?


  1. Sweden
  2. Mice
  3. 36
  4. Nana
  5. Barry
  6. Gary Neville
  7. Quentin
  8. Muhammad Ali
  9. 100
  10. The Parthenon
  11. Flanagan and Allen (actually Bud Flanagan)
  12. A pommel
  13. Venus
  14. A year
  15. Tin and lead
  16. The monarch
  17. Joseph Heller
  18. Horses
  19. Argentina

I'm not too worried about winning this week. Normally it's a right pain cos the winner gets to do the questions the following week. Someone couldn't do it this week so someone else stood in and they're doing it next week. Phew!

05 November 2007

Remember, remember...

...the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.

Funny how you never forgot those kind of things. Tonight is Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night as most people call it now). Celebrating the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 when explosives expert Guy Fawkes, in a conspiracy of English Catholics, attempted to rid England of James I and the Protestant government by blowing up parliament. So how does Britain (and the Commonwealth) celebrate? By burning effigies of Guy and setting off fireworks.

I love a good firework display (and we went to see one in Stamford, with my in-laws on Saturday). What I don't like is the ASBO teens running around the streets with fireworks blazing and the constant bangs and crashes that seem to last a fortnight either side on bonfire night. It sounds like a war zone out there at the moment. If the government can ban smoking in public places I think it should have the balls to ban the sale of fireworks to the general public. What's wrong with going to see a safe, organised display where the fireworks are 100 times better.

Ok, rants over, on with the list of facts about fireworks:

  • It's commonly believed that the first fireworks were made in China about 2000 years ago. They were originally used at Chinese New Year celebrations to scare away evil spirits, a tradition that now extends to other celebrations such as weddings, birthdays and religious festivals.

  • 90% of fireworks in Britain are still made in China.

  • India and Thailand have also used fireworks in religious ceremonies. Ancient rockets could be up to 10 feet long and tended to be attached to bamboo shoots, up to 40 feet in length.

  • The Japanese word for fireworks is "hanabi", meaning "fire flower"

  • The burning temperature of sparklers is 15 times the boiling point of water. It only takes three together to produce the heat of a blowtorch.

  • Throwing a firework in a public place in the UK is a criminal offence with the maximum fine if £5000

  • More than half the firework accidents in the UK happen to children under 16 despite them not allowed to purchase them.

  • The first recorded fireworks in England were for Henry VII wedding celebrations. Elizabeth I even had a "fireworks master" for organising the pyrotechnics for special occasions. James II even knighted his after a particularly brilliant display for his coronation.

  • John Smith (of Pocahontas story fame) introduced fireworks to America.

  • Some states in America, including Georgia and New York have a total ban on fireworks being sold to the general public.