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.

02 November 2007

Eight Stupid Criminals (or crimes)

I was in court today. I've never been before and, no, I hadn't done anything wrong. A while back someone crashed into the side out our car. Thing is, the guy that did it failed to stop and drove off. He pleaded guilty to careless driving but not to failing to stop or report it. His defense was that he claimed he didn't hit us. Kind of strange considering he left his number plate under our wheel arch (handy for tracing him).

I actually felt a little sorry for him because he got a hefty fine, costs and 8 points on his licence. Thing is, we didn't bring it to court, it only went all the way because he denied hitting us. But I guess that's the law and you have to take the punishment if found guilty. And Sally has had a bad back since that needs physiotherapy.

So when I sat down to write today's list I thought about how I could link it with my experiences today. So here are ten unusual cases, mainly where the defendants showed a degree of stupidity. Now I'm not suggesting today's defendant was dumb but I had to get a germ of an idea from somewhere and a quick Google uncovered some gems. So here's a list of stupid criminals, that could've got away with it if it wasn't for their pesky (lack of) brain cells:

  1. This year Peter Addison (18), of Heaton Mersey, Stockport, and his friend Mark Ridgeway (18) of Poynton, Cheshire left a vital clue when they burgled and vandalised a building at a children's campsite in Adlington, Cheshire. Addison decided to write some graffiti. He amended a British Birds poster to read "British Birds R Gay" and left the message "thanks for the stay". But the least intelligent thing he did was writing his name on the wall, his full name. It said "Peter Addison was here". Not the cleverest of things to do, really. Addison received a conditional discharge. Ridgeway had to carry out 60 hours' unpaid work.
  2. In 2005, a group of three men decided it would be fun to run naked through a Washington restaurant. Being January it was cold outside and when then got out they'd need a quick getaway, so they left the car running outside the establishment. Whilst inside the car was stolen, so when they ran into the cold the car (and their clothes that were inside were gone). They off but police soon caught up with them as there weren't many naked guys out that cold night.
  3. A legless man was arrested after a three-mile high speed chase near Murton, County Durham in January last year. The chase ended when he careered off the road through a hedge and landed in a farmer's field. The motorist, Robert Bate was not only legless through drink and drugs but also from losing both limbs in a rail accident when he was nine years old. He drove the car with wooden poles taped to the foot pedals. Not only was he jailed for 12 months but also banned from driving for two years.
  4. Liverpudlian Amanda Monti was jailed for two and a half years after being found guilty of wounding her ex-boyfriend. At a house party she pulled off Geoffrey Jones' testicle with her bare hands , swallowed it before spitting it out again. A friend picked it put, handed it to Jones, saying "That's yours."
  5. In November last year a prisoner serving had 60 days added to his ten sentence for armed robbery for masturbating, alone in his cell. He was found guilt of indecent exposure after a female sheriff's office deputy witnessed him having a quick shuffle. The jury jury had decided that his cell was a "limited access public place" and therefore by exposing himself he was breaking the law.
  6. In August this year a suspect thief was force fed bananas to act as a laxative after an x-ray proved he had swallowed a gold necklace. Sheikh Moohsin was spotted snatch the £550 gold necklace in Calcutta, India, which he swallowed when police caught up with him. The bananas didn't work so they tried rice, chicken and bread. The necklace was recovered later by the obvious manner, which makes me think that I wouldn't like to sample the local food if they had to revert to that after trying the bananas. He was sentenced later.
  7. In September three men in Soweto. South Africa were arrested for going on a drunken pub crawl after stealing a hearse. They were caught after it ran out of petrol. There was still a body in the back of the hearse when they stole it.
  8. Daniel Horne was fined £80 denting a police car earlier this year. He wasn't happy with the verdict. The car was dented after it ran into Horne when he was on the way home from a night out with friends. The police officer driving the police car claimed Horne had run into the nearside front wing of the marked car. The group of friends had pulled over after getting a flat tyre and put on the hazard lights. A passer-by thought the car was being dumped, called the police. Whilst walking on the pavement Horne heard the sirens behind him and claims the police car mounted the pavement, hitting him and running over and breaking his right foot. South Wales Police said the fixed penalty was for criminal damage.

MTV European Music Awards

Well I can't get MTV so haven't watched it in a while and I'm probably a bit old for it's demographic but I still think I know a thing or two about music. I haven't a clue who half of these bands are though. The awards were held last night in Munich.

  • Rock Out - 30 Seconds to MarsUltimate
  • Urban - Rihanna
  • Band Of 2007 - Linkin Park
  • Most Addictive Track - Avril Lavigne, Girlfriend
  • Album Of The Year - Nelly Furtado, Loose
  • Inter Act - Tokio Hotel
  • Headliner - Muse
  • Video Star - Justice - D.A.N.C.E
  • Solo Artist Of 2007 - Avril Lavigne
  • Artists' Choice - Amy Winehouse
  • Best Act: MTV Adria - Van Gogh
  • Best Act: MTV Arabia - Rashed El Majed
  • Best African Act - D'banj
  • Best Baltic Act - Jurga
  • Best Danish Act - Nephew
  • Best Dutch & Belgian Act - Within Temptation
  • Best Finnish Act - Negative
  • Best French Act - Justice
  • Best German Act - Bushido
  • Best Hungarian Act - Ákos
  • Best Italian Act - J-Ax
  • Best Norwegian Act - El Axel
  • Best Polish Act - Doda
  • Best Portuguese Act - Da Weasel
  • Best Romanian Act - Andreea Banica
  • Best Spanish Act - Violadores del Verso
  • Best Swedish Act - Neverstore
  • Best Turkish Act - Ceza
  • Best UK & Ireland Act - Muse
  • Best Ukrainian Act - Lama

01 November 2007

National Television Awards

Last night was the National Television Awards, held at the Albert Hall in London. Despite the recently revelation of phone rigging on many tv programmes premium phone lines, including Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, programmes involved in the scandal did quite well. Maybe the voting was rigged.

  • Most popular reality programme - I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!
  • Most popular actress - Lacey Turner - EastEnders
  • Most popular factual programme - Top Gear
  • Most popular newcomer - Kym Ryder - Coronation Street
  • Most popular drama - Doctor Who
  • Most popular entertainment presenter - Ant and Dec
  • Most popular actor - David Tennant - Doctor Who
  • Most popular comedy programme - The Catherine Tate Show
  • Most popular entertainment programme - Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway
  • Most popular talent show - The X Factor
    Most popular serial drama - EastEnders
    Special recognition award - Jeremy Clarkson - Top Gear