Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Monday, December 31, 2007

Kevin Greening RIP...
It was with great sadness that I heard on Sunday morning of Kevin Greening's passing, aged just 44. I remember when Kevin joined Radio 1 in the mid-nineties and did weekend shows - his dry/wry sense of humour would made me laugh. Later in 1997/98 he would wake me up weekday mornings along with Zoe Ball his co-presenter of the breakfast show. I always thought it was Kevin that should host that show by himself but he wasn't the pushy type.

A few years back Kevin moved to our street and I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know him personally. He was funny, bright and great company. We shared a few beers every now and again, went out for dinner a few times and went to some occasional gigs. I remember clinging to him on the back of his beloved motorbike one warm summer's night as we sped down to Somerset House to watch Sigor Ros together. And on another occasion going to see a band play at the Garage but getting completely plastered at the bar and missing the show altogether because we were having too much fun. I'll miss you Kevin.

The BBC has a nice obituary here and some nice comments by Trevor Dann here. And some members of the public have left some lovely comments here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham...
On Saturday Paul and I went to the Emeroids to see what promised to be the game of the season - the Tottingham / Arsenal derby. Bendtner got the winner on his first touch but the opener was from Adebayor: Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Day...
We had a lovely Xmas yesterday and I got lots of great presents. It was quiet day for me to begin with as I was home alone but then things picked up in the afternoon when I drove over to Grays to pick Stuart up. After Dr Who (a bumper 70 minutes of festive mayhem) we went over to Andy and Tim for some late supper and a catch up. A nice way to finish the day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

All Good Things...
Spooks finished this week. I loved the first and second seasons, rather drifted away after that but was back onboard for all of this season six. Having a consistent story line running through the series really helped and it was genuinely thrilling to watch. Roll on season seven. And come back Ros.

The other thing that ended this week was walking-in-the-shadow-of-The-West-Wing Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (or should that be Sunset on the Studio 60). Such a shame as it started so well but then it (and we) lost the will to live. Take some time out Aaron Sorkin and come back better than ever.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Elf Yourself...
Ian sent us the most fabulous eChristmas card. Watch Stu and I dancing like elves! Yay! Thanks Ian!
Kiki & Herb Stick The Yule Log In The Shepherd’s Bush...
Last night Andrew, Tim, Marcus, Stu and I went to see Kiki & Herb in their show Stick The Yule Log In The Shepherd’s Bush at the Shepherds Bush Empire. It was the usual festive mix of some oldies, some newies but all goodies. Kiki DuRane (the aging, alcoholic, female lounge singer) was in good form with rants about politics, celebrity and Christmas. Andrew and Tim were Kiki virgins so it was nice to watch their faces as at various points in the show they roared with laughter, gasped in amazement or their jaws dropped to the floor. Great fun. And what would Christmas be without Kiki & Herb?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Marc Almond at IndigO2...
The Saturday before last David, Paul and I went to see Marc Almond perform at the IndigO2. It was great show as expected and piqued with the oddness we've all come to expect when La Almond takes to the stage; the odd tantrum (lights shining in his eyes too brightly), the odd unexpected song (Ugly Head) and the odd bit of drama (running off stage clutching head). Great see him back on form and in a venue befitting him.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hello Spice Boy...

Last night Stu was just about well enough for us to make our long anticipated trip to the O2 Arena to go and see The Spice Girls. We spent two hours spicing up our lives, jigging about and partying like it was 1996. Everyone cheered in a genuine but oh so slightly ironic way whenever Victioria Beckham took to the vocals. The night was camp as tits and great, great fun. See them if you can.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Appendix: Update 6...
Stu is well on the road to recovery now; he's sleeping right through the night, up and about during the days and putting some of the weight he's lost back on. He'll be off work for a couple of weeks though until he's work fit.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Appendix: Update 5...
At last Stu is home. He's very thin, very weak but on the mend. I'll have him up and running about by Xmas I hope.
The Golden Compass...
On Sunday Sarah, Ben, Paul, Mark, Drew, David and I went to see The Golden Compass. It's not been quite the runaway success that New Line had hoped and if you haven't read the book you might find the film a bit confusing. Rather like the first Harry Potter film at times it has perhaps stuck rather too closely to it's source material and at other times strayed too far from it. The result is that it sometimes loses its narrative drive. I loved it though. When Stu's feeling better I'll go and see it again with him.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Appendix: Update 4...
Stu was much better last night - although throwing up when I arrived. He called this morning and (touch wood) he'll be able to come home today. I'll probably take the rest of the week off to look after him as he's still pretty weak.

Warner Road...

After many a year my flatmate Paul is moving on. He's found a lovely place that he really likes up in Blackhorse Road and he's getting back on the property ladder. I'm really sorry to see him go but at the same time I'm really pleased for him.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Appendix: Update 3...
Just heard. Stu can go back on food and is off the drip. If he resumes (how can I put this?) normal bodily function then they'll let him out tomorrow. Yay!
Appendix: Update 2...
Stu's scan yesterday was clear which is good. He was still in pain though so was still on morphone, nil by mouth and a glucose drip. They think it might be an internal infamation but they've doubled his antibiotic dosage just in case. Unsurprisely the morphone is making his halucinate. I got a text from him at 5am this morning saying 'he'd call be after the gym'. Bless.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Appendix: Update...
Stu is still in hospital. We were hoping he'd have come home by Saturday but he's still in there and still in some pain. Yesterday they put him back on nil by mouth, gave him a saline drip again and put him back on morphine (amongst a bucket of other pills). He's been sweating a lot too and feeling dizzy. I guess this sweating is simply a result of the strong pain killers he's on but I do feel completely helpless watching him just lying there. He's having a CT scan later today and we'll see what news that brings. Hopefully it's all just a minor setback and I'll be able to bring him home soon.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Stuart is currently lying in hospital. His slight stomach ache on Wednesday turned into excruciating pain overnight and he was admitted to the Whitechapel's Royal London A&E yesterday.

I left the office early and went to see him. I found him lying on a trolley in a corridor. He'd been there for four hours. Soon after I arrived they moved him though to a critical assessment unit. Thereby narrowly managing to keep to that 'inconvenient' four hour Government target.

The critical assessment unit was not a ward as such. It was just a holding area really. Not much better than the corridor. The nurses were great albeit rather overstretched. Stu and I sat there watching the admissions and having a laugh. Stu kept saying, "you don't have to stay you know". But I did. Have to stay that is. I wanted to. I know from experience it's no picnic having appendicitis and simply lying in a hospital bed waiting for a doctor to show up can be quite nerve racking too.

The disclaimer form Stu had to sign did make us wonder whether operations are ever successful! I'm sure they were only doing their job but we were made oh so fully aware of every possible risk of having the operation. Just covering themselves of course but it was a bit like those American drug adverts that list twenty seven different side effects. The one that always stuck in my mind was "possible anal leakage". Yuk.

Anyway the form got signed and we waited to see if they could do the surgery that night. Sadly there was a bit of congestion so his op got bumped until today. He'll have a general anaesthetic, through-the-belly-button key-hole surgery to take out his appendix and hopefully be able to come home on Saturday. I'll be looking after him for a few days until he can get back on his feet. Just one week off work though. Ah, the wonders of modern medicine.

As I was walking out of the assessment unit last night I couldn’t help thinking that hospitals are funny old things. They engender a mixture of safety and danger. You go there to be examined, diagnosed and hopefully made better. But at the same time it has hordes of strangers roaming around. It's where you are at your most vulnerable. And it's where people die.

Luckily I know Stu is in safe hands and I'm looking forward to seeing him the other side of surgery later today.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Brain Teaser - Rings - Answer...
Hopefully you haven't gone too cross-eyed. There are 3 rings in the stereogram.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Brain Teaser - Rings...
Below is a stereogram. How many rings can you see?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Pickled Gerkin...
Last night I went up The Gerkin - well, we should call it 30 St. Mary Axe now I suppose. It was a corporate do laid on by BT and Cisco called Unified Thinking - An Evening With Ellen MacArthur. The good lady herself was there of course and her talk was very interesting; fascinating in fact. I got a signed autobiography and a snap or two. But let's face it the real reason most of us went was to get a chance to see the sights from the top of the tower. Oh and to quaff buckets of free champagne and nibble on those posh nibbles you only seem to get an such events. So there are some upsides to being a corporate drone I suppose. And being pickled at the Gerkin has to be one of them.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ofcom Sets New Deadline for Mobile Number Porting...
Mobile phone networks in the UK must allow consumers moving to a rival network to take their mobile number with them and consumers must be able to receive calls on that number within two hours of moving to the new network, under new rules coming into force in 2009. Consumers can currently wait for up to five days for number porting under Ofcom rules. A target for reducing that period to two days by 1 April 2008 had been set previously. Today, the communications regulator said two hour transfers must now be implemented by 1 September 2009.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Last night Paul, Simon, Stu and I went to see Macbeth at the Gielgud Theatre in London glitzy West End.

Wow! What a show! It says here, "Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's most bloody and fear-filled tragedies" and they got that right. We were on the edge of our seats. The settings were more Stalinesque than Scottish, more white tiled military hospital ward than cold damp castle. But what a great production idea by Rupert Goold - brilliantly executed.

Patrick Stewart was the murderous Macbeth (and no, no-one shout out "engage" or "out, out damn'd Scotty" but we were tempted). And he didn't just play Macbeth he was Macbeth. Quite fabulous. Equally fantastic was Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth.

What a great night at the theatre!
Brain Teaser - An egg a day - Answer...
They were ostrich, goose, fish, quail ..etc...eggs.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Brain Teaser - An egg a day...
A man ate an egg each day. He did not have any chickens at home. He never bought, borrowed or stole eggs. How is this possible?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Arsenal 2-0 Wigan...
On Saturday I took Jane to see the Arsenal game. We were playing Wigan. It was freezing cold at the Emirates but we enjoyed ourselves. Two late goals sealed Wigan's fate so we are now three points clear at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Quick Quiz...
1) How long did the Hundred Years War last? 116 years

2) Which country makes Panama hats? Ecuador

3) From which animal do we get cat gut? Sheep and Horses

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution? November

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of? Squirrel fur

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal? Dogs

7) What was King George VI's first name? Albert

8) What colour is a purple finch? Crimson

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from? New Zealand

10) What is the colour of the black box in a commercial airplane? Orange

For the answers click and drag your mouse at end of each question
[Thanks Roger]

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Beckham TV...
Both Beckhams appeared on my telly box last night at about the same time. 9pm.

David Beckham was on the Beeb having been brought on for the second half of the Croatia vs England game. Although he was good his efforts weren't enough to save England from not qualifying for Euro 2008.

And over on E4 Victoria Beckham was strutting her stuff in Ugly Betty.

I know which one I enjoyed watching most.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Four Tops & The Temptations...
Last night Stu and I went to see a bit of classic Motown: The Four Tops and The Temptations performing live at the Royal Albert Hall.

The Temptations were initially known as the Elgins but the quintet were renamed the Temptations by Berry Gordy when he signed them to Motown in 1961. They have undergone dozens of lineup changes over the years but a couple of their members have endured longer than you'd expect. Last night they did look rather aged on stage but the trademark dance moves were still there as were their voices. Sadly they were just badly let down by the sound. The orchestra just sounded like a din. It was awful. So much so we retired to the bar half way through the first half. But not before enjoying such hits as My Girl, Get Ready, Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) and their cover of Papa Was a Rollin' Stone.

Back for the second part of the show the sound was a lot better (but perhaps still not quite up to the RAH's usual high standard).

The Four Tops were initially known as The Four Aims but changed their name to The Four Tops to avoid confusion with The Ames Brothers. At first their signing to Motown in 1963 didn't produce much success until one day Holland-Dozier-Holland added a few lyrics to an instrumental track they had been working on. This produced The Four Tops first hit Baby I Need Your Loving. This we were treated to last night along with other hits like I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch), It's the Same Old Song, Reach Out I'll Be There, Standing in the Shadows of Love, Bernadette, Walk Away Renée and the more recent Loco In Acapulco. The boys were all in fine fettle, sounded great and looked the part (yellow suits all round). At times they had a bit of the Boyz II Men feel about them but we didn't hold that against them. By the end we were clapping and singing along with the rest of the crowd.

From a personal perspective it's a shame Levi Stubbs is no longer with The Four Tops as it'd have been fun to close my eyes and match up his voice with his performance of the man-eating plant Audrey II in the 1986 musical film Little Shop of Horrors.

Stu is more of a Motown girls fan rather than a Motown boys fan. And although we had fun at the gig last night I'm not sure last night did much to change his mind.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Gentle Sex...

I'm not quite sure how appropriate viewing this would have been last Sunday morning - "Arse: The Gentle Sex".

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tutankhamun... On Saturday Stu, Andy, Kev and I went to the Tutankhamun exhibition at the O2. It was fun to see but slightly disappointing that the death mask wasn't there. Good but no 'wow factor'.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Goldfrapp Go All Folk...
Goldfrapp's new album will be called Seventh Tree and out late Feb 2008. Reports are that it's a folk album created mainly with a harp and small organ (!). The first single will be called A&E. The album track listing is:

1. Clowns
2. Little Bird
3. Happiness
4. Road To Somewhere
5. Eat Yourself
6. Some People
7. A&E
8. Cologne Cerrone Houdini
9. Caravan Girl
10. Monster Love

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kate Bush Writes New Song...
According to the BBC: Kate Bush has recorded a new song called Lyra for the soundtrack to the film Golden Compass Northern Lights, based on Philip Pullman's book. Her song will feature over the film's end credits. Yay!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Don Hertzfeldt...
I quite like this little cartoon called Wake up Cat. Very sweet. However my favourite 'stick' cartoonist is probably Don Hertzfeldt typified by the wonderful Ah l'Amour and the Oscar nominated Rejected.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I quite like malapropisms. Kath and Kim specialise in them (loving season four on UK Living BTW). There's quite a funny collection of them at the Eggcorn database and here are some of my favourites: wreckless driving / blown-idle / bare witness / batter an eyelid / cease the opportunity / chickens come home to roast / common everybody / dashboard stomach / explanation mark / gas turban / get one's nipples in a twist / no stings attached / siezes to amaze / one fowl scoop / rimming with pleasure / damp squid / wide elephant / free reign / free rain / stutter to think / shutter to think / all intensive purposes / given up the goat / take it for granite / moo point / mute point / fine toothcomb / drank ourselves to Bolivia / He went as white as a sheep / It's not Brain Science/ It's not Rocket Surgery.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Stu and I have been in Amsterdam for the weekend. I was staying there last week on a business trip anyway and Stu flew out to join me on the Friday night. We had a great time; a little bit of culture, a little bit of sightseeing and a little bit of bar hopping. We do have fun when we're away. Although Stu has come back with a spot of RSI - I blame Elvira Mistress Of The Dark Pinball!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Two Cows...
You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet is provided with the release. The public buys your bull.

You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them World-Wide.

You have two cows.
You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

You have two cows.
Both are mad.

You have two cows, but you don't know where they are.
You break for lunch.

You have two cows.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
You count them again and learn you have 12 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you.
You charge others for storing them.

You have two cows.
You worship them.

You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.

So, there are these two Jewish cows, right? They open a milk factory, an ice cream store, and then sell the movie rights. They send their calves to Harvard to become doctors. So, you should complain?

You have two cows.
That one on the left is kinda cute...

[Apologies for any excessive jingoism!]

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Don't do anything I might find out about...
From the archives:

"Look at this. 'Humon Resources'. I ask you. 'Humon'! How do they expect to get a job when they can't even address an envelope without making a spelling mistake?" So started a rather surreal conversation in Sainsbury's this morning. A rather cute in-a-military-kind-of-way security guard had been watching me since I first walked in on my way to work. He had waited for me to queue up with my chicken hickory Be Good To Yourself instant meal and then without warning just started talking at me. The envelope in his hand was apparently from a recent job applicant. Quite why he had it or indeed felt the need to show it to me was as yet a mystery.

"You take my sister. I got an e-mail from her yesterday. And you know what? It had sixteen spelling mistakes in it. She spelt wool W-U-L." I eyed him slowly. He was dressed in the typical gold trimmed brown trousers and jacket that is often the standard apparel of supermarket security personnel. His highly polished black shoes and crisply ironed shirt gave him the appearance of a door-to-door Mormon or a fresh young accountant bright-eyed ready for their first job interview. I smiled and nodded thinking that maybe he would leave it at that. Making no eye contact I shuffled forward one place in the queue that now seemed to have slowed to a snail's pace. I looked straight ahead and mused. Maybe he'd been driven mad by the inanity of his job? Perhaps banging on to complete strangers somehow was keeping him in touch with reality, I thought. Then he surprised me by talking almost directly in my ear.

"Did you have the strap and the cane at school?” he said. My eyes looked around nervously wondering whether I was part of some elaborate prank. No one else seemed to be looking at me or smiling in my direction so I just thought it was me who was overreacting. Maybe he was hitting on me and I'd got the signals wrong from the start? I turned and smiled. I'd chance it and with a nod said, "Yes." Big mistake. Huge.

Without pausing for breath, permission or further response he held me up, and the rest of the queue, with such wistful pronouncements as, "We had assembly every morning at school, didn't we?” and “We had to say the Lord's Prayer and behave while we said it, didn't we?” Not only was I getting late for work but also beginning to feel slightly uneasy. Why was this man talking to me? Didn’t he need any feedback when he spoke? I studied him for a while. He had steely blue eyes and almost perfect tanned skin. His short-cropped dark hair was slightly greying at the sides. His lips where slight but betrayed a permanent smirk. Still he was banging on, “We had to dress smart and look smart. They don't do that anymore, do they?"

Saved at last by Mohammed on check out number three I finally managed to turn away from my rabid talker and to quickly pay for my food, stuff it in a thin plastic bag and make for the door. Just as I was about to secure my escape he called after me, "Don't do anything I might find out about!”

Quite surreal.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Netherlands...

I'm in The Netherlands all this week. On a 'visionary management' training course. It's full of jargon of course ('Current Reality Change Framework' anyone?) but actually quite good fun. I'm staying in Amsterdam and commuting to Leiden where the course is.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Arsenal 2-2 Man Utd...
Paul and I went to the match on Saturday. It was a thrilling game as we took on the premiership title holders. I thought we were hard done by to only get a draw but it was certainly an entertaining game to watch.
Erasure fan Katie Bramall will feature on tonight's edition of the quiz 'Mastermind', with her specialist subject being Erasure! "Host John Humphrys invites four contenders to answer questions in the famous black chair. Subjects for this edition are The Naval Career of Nelson and Collingwood, Life and Works of Primo Levi, Erasure and the Life and Career of Sir Richard Attenborough."
Date: Monday 5th November
Time: 19:30 - 20:00
Channel: BBC Two

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mary Poppins (revisited)...
A couple of years ago I went to see Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre in Old Compton Street. As it's closing in January next year Stu thought we might go and see it again before it finally goes dark.

It was still great fun with all the hits we know and love; Step In Time, A Spoonful Of Sugar, Feed The Birds, Chim Chim Cher-ee and the still sublime Let's Go Fly A Kite.

Tragedy struck though during the marvelous Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. An old dear in front of us attempted to do some of the letter-spelling movements to the song. She got into difficulty and seemed to have a fit and fell from her seat. Before we knew what was happening and amid much curfuffle she was pronounced dead and her lifeless body was dragged from Dress Circle Row E. We could hear an ambulance and police cars arriving outside. We, and most of the Dress Circle were in shock. It was only after the show was over we were informed that it was her eighty-seventh birthday and in fact she had be resuscitated on the way to A&E.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Is Zachary Quinto gay?...
The old is-he-isn't-he? debate often rages about hunky male stars. Some people swear blind he is and have seen him in gay bars or gone out with him and others swear blind he's not. To be honest I'm not sure I like this "he's-too-hot-to-be-gay" argument I see all too often. But nice to see a clip of him snogging a man in a sauna in so NoTORIous. Or if you prefer, some shots from the same scene. Woof!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Night Out...

Last Friday night Stu, Dawn, Andrew, Jane and I went out for a 'quick drink'. Needless to say the wheels fell off the evening after a couple of beers. A bar crawl ensued taking us to various dives around this fair city. Great fun. Some snaps below. 

IQ Test: my answers...
01. Which one of the following is least like the other four?
Celery - Lettuce - Onion - Grape - Asparagus

Grape. It's a fruit and the others are vegetables.

02. Emily is four years old. Her big sister Amy is three times as old as Emily. How old will Amy be when she is twice as old as Emily?

16 years old. Amy is currently 12 years old so in four years time Emily will be 8 years old and Amy will be 16 years old.

03. Bowl is to cereal as envelope is to?
Mailman - Stamp - Letter - Mailbox - Mailbag

Letter. The second goes in the first.

04. What would the next number be?

23. Add 1, add 2 etc...

05. WOLF to to FLOW as 8526 is to:
2856 - 6258 - 5862 - 5682 - 6852

6258. Numbers reversed.

06. If you rearrange the letters UGNAIA, you have the name of:
a river - a planet - a city - an animal - a plant?


07. Niece is to nephew as brother is to:
Cousin - Aunt - Mother - Daughter - Sister


08. Let's say that the following arguments are true:
Some gatekeepers are warriors
Some warriors are cowards
Therefore, we can conclude that some gatekeepers must be cowards.
Is this conclusion true or false?


09. That would be the next number in this series:

9. Subtract 3, add 1, subtract 3, add 1 etc.

10. Which of the following five is least like the other four?
Smile - Grin - Frown - Touch - Sneer

Touch. All the others are facial expressions.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

IQ Test...
Back in 2002 I published a simple IQ test from BBC. I've had a few people ask me what the answers are recently (!) See how well you do and I'll give my answers later.

When Alfred Binet, the French psychologist, started to develop intelligence tests in 1904 he had no idea what he had started. What was later to become the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests are really only applicable to children. But it doesn't stop the rest of us wanting to have a go. Here are some straightforward IQ questions. Let me know how well you do.

01. Which one of the following is least like the other four?
Celery - Lettuce - Onion - Grape - Asparagus

02. Emily is four years old. Her big sister Amy is three times as old as Emily. How old will Amy be when she is twice as old as Emily?

03. Bowl is to cereal as envelope is to?
Mailman - Stamp - Letter - Mailbox - Mailbag

04. What would the next number be?

05. WOLF to to FLOW as 8526 is to:
2856 - 6258 - 5862 - 5682 - 6852

06. If you rearrange the letters UGNAIA, you have the name of:
a river - a planet - a city - an animal - a plant?

07. Niece is to nephew as brother is to:
Cousin - Aunt - Mother - Daughter - Sister

08. Let's say that the following arguments are true:
Some gatekeepers are warriors
Some warriors are cowards
Therefore, we can conclude that some gatekeepers must be cowards.
Is this conclusion true or false?

09. That would be the next number in this series:

10. Which of the following five is least like the other four?
Smile - Grin - Frown - Touch - Sneer

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Arsenal 7-0 Slavia Prague...
Paul and I went to see the sublime Arsenal play in the Champions League last night at the Emirates. They commanded the game from start to finish. Magical. And to cap it all Theo got his first (and second) goal - the youngest Englishman to score a Champions League goal. It was a pleasure and a privilege to watch the game. Apparently a season ticket for the Arsenal is currently the hottest ticket in town.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Star Trek...
So Star Trek's 11th big screen outing is in the works. And with JJ Abrams at the helm it's bound to be good.

The current cast list are; Chris Pine (Captain Kirk), the gorgeous Zachary Quinto (Young Mr Spock), Leonard Nimoy (Older Mr Spock), Simon Pegg (Scotty), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Anton Yelchin (Chekov), John Cho (Sulu) and Karl Urban (Leonard 'Bones' McCoy).

Funny to see the original Uhura (Michelle Nichols) turning up in Heroes the other week along with many other sci-fi luminaries.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Head, master?...
JK Rowling outs Dumbledore as gay.
Arsenal 2-0 Bolton ...
Paul and I went to the Emirates on Saturday for a rare 3pm kickoff. A disppointing first half but we picked up in the second. A good result. But blimey Bolton are thugs.

Friday, October 19, 2007

G.I. Jonny...
The BBC and THT have got together to promote HIV awareness in the run up to World AIDS Day on Dec 1st. In a very slick way: G.I. Jonny.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

British Airways vs Pam Ann...
British Airways goes all viral on our arses. With Pam Ann no less. Sleeping with the enemy? Quite good though.
[Thanks Guy]

Monday, October 15, 2007

Leigh on Sea...

On Saturday Stu and I drove out east to Leigh on Sea. We had a great time nosing around Kerry and Fergal's new gaff, then Ange arrived and we all went to lunch with Fay and Andy and Sheila and Martin. We got to see Fay and Andy's new place too. All great fun to see everyone and catch up with their news. There are a few snaps below

Friday, October 12, 2007

Last night Stu and I went to see the new staged production of Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London's glitzy West End. And what a wow it was.

We sang and we laughed until tears rolled down our my cheeks. We'd seen the New York production earlier this year but this was way, way better. And it certainly put the film into the shade.

The energy on stage was quite incredible. It was almost exhausting to watch all the dancing and jumping about. The acting and singing was just perfect. The set design was spot on too. And boy did we like the sound. You could hear every word sung and every line of dialogue. Something other theatres should ruddy well focus on.

Newcomer Leanne Jones was just brilliant as Tracy Turnblad. She is on stage pretty much constantly for two hours and was never less than excellent for a single moment. Michael Ball as Edna Turnblad was an utter star - believable as a fat woman and delivering a perfect comic performance. Mel Smith as Wilbur Turnblad was funny, perfect for the role and who knew he could sing so well?

The original score is by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman who co-wrote the music and lyrics for the acclaimed animated musical South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and it is as witty and laugh out loud funny as that film ever was.

As I was saying to Stu on the way home (with suitable post-show euphoric hyperbole), "seeing shows like that is one of the reasons why we live in London".

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thomas Dolby...
Last night Ben and I went to see Thomas Dolby at the Carling Islington Academy. Ben had organised the tickets and it was great to spend the time with him.

Dolby was promoting his new live CD/DVD The Sole Inhabitant which is sort of a greatest hits live.

Like Roger Hodgson the night before Thomas Dolby a true musician and a gifted song writer. His medium happen to be synthesisers and samples but some of his songs are really very beautiful. We were treated to all the hits including The Flat Earth, Airwaves, the fabulously titled (and witty) Your Karma Hit My Dogma, Europa And The Pirate Twins, She Blinded Me With Science, One Of Our Submarines and Hyperactive!

He had some interesting anecdotes too. Like when Trevor Horn had finished touring about South Africa with Malcolm McLaren and recording riffs for the Duck Rock project he had some riffs left over. So over a spliff one day Horn, in his big scientist-from-Blade-Runner glasses, says to Dolby, "want this riff?" And Dolby took it. Spliff riff.

As a surprise at the end of the gig we were treated to a guest appearance by Lene Lovich. She and Dolby sang Sway as a duet. Great fun.

My stand out track of the night: I Scare Myself

Funniest bit of the night: when Lene Lovich came on stage and after the initial applause had died away Ben shouted out from the gallery, "Are you still mad?" The place fell about. As did she.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Roger Hodgson...
Last night Paul, Guy, Cesar and I went to see Roger Hodgson (formerly of Supertramp) at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a right old flashback to my youth with such anthemic hits as Take the Long Way Home, Give a Little Bit (twice), The Logical Song, Even in the Quietest Moments, Breakfast in America, If Everyone Was Listening, Dreamer, It's Raining Again and many others. We were also 'treated' to some of his solo work which wasn't have bad; Lovers in the Wind, Along Came Mary, Love is a Thousand Times and Oh Brother.

Playing more or less solo Hodgson rightly earns the title of a one man orchestra. With either guitar, electric or traditional piano he created an impressive wall of sound. Standout songs for me were both from the Crime Of The Century album; Hide In Your Shell and the sublime School. Fab night out.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Year of the Sequel...
In looks as if 2008 will be the year of the sequel; the long awaited Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the not really wanted The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the much anticipated The Dark Knight and the bound to be fabulous Hellboy 2: The Golden Army have all popped up on my radar. Mind you, 2007 seemed to be the year of the threequel; the disappointing Shrek the Third, the awful Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, the not as good as the first two Spider-Man 3 and the truly dire Rush Hour 3.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Twiglets...

Last Friday I went over to see Ben, Sarah and the triplets. Everyone was in a fine form. They have just had their garden landscaped and it looks great. Sarah cooked us a lovely lunch and afterwards we went for a walk and a runabout in Crystal Palace park. Below are a few snaps I took.

Arsenal 3-2 Sunderland...
Paul and I went to the game on Sunday. And a close game it was too; missed opportunities, two off the post, a disallowed goal and a sending off. We had the run of it though so a fair result.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Criminally Bent...
A fortnight ago I got a call at home. A man with a thick Scottish accent asked me to confirm my name. He couldn't continue the telephone call unless I confirmed my name. Why? I hesitated. And then he asked me to confirm my date of birth. And then the first line of my address. Naturally I was reluctant to give any of this information (hello? identity theft?) but after a bit of umming and ahhing I finally gave them to him. That seemed to satisfy him so I asked him what the call was about. He said he was from a company called AIC - a debt collection agency - and was telephoning on behalf of Lloyds TSB. According to their records I owed them £28,500.

Frankly I was stunned. I'd not been in debt for years (ok, apart from my mortgage) and last time I checked my bank accounts were hovering in the black not the red. I questioned the guy, trying to get some sort of confirmation that it was really me he wanted. He was nothing short of rude, abrasive and evasive. As far as he was concerned he had got his man and it was his job to make me pay up. I did suggest that maybe he'd got the wrong person but he said, "then why do I have your telephone number and how come your date of birth and postal address all match?". He had a point. I was a bit flumoxed. All I could say was, "I'm sure there's been some sort of mistake." He put me on hold a few times while he 'checked his records' before conceding, "Well, it *may* be a mistake but apart from your middle name everything matches." Then he hung up.

I called Lloyds TSB later that day and they had no record of any such debt. Or of my details being passed to any debt collectors. I was concerned, but not overly. A simple mix up that would sort itself out. How wrong I was.

The following week AIC called again. This time I'm out so they left a voice message again demanding payment. And threatening court action. Yikes! Luckily this time they left a reference number.

So the following day I go into the Lloyds TSB branch in Islington and ask to speak to a bank manager (you could hear the sniggers). "We don't have bank managers any more, sir. Can I help?" said Mr Cheery Man behind a counter. An hour and a half later we were both still in one of the side offices of the bank still on the telephone trying to find out hat was going on. Mr Cheery Man had called just about every single possible department in Lloyds TSB up and down (and out of) the country. Brighton... Scotland... Bangalore... you name it. As least he believed that I wasn't actually in debt (hey, he had my account details in front of him) so his mission was to try to find out who had erroneously referred me to the debt collection agency. Mr Cheery Man starts each call the same way, "Hello there. I'm staff. I have sitting next to me a very good customer of ours..." but doesn't seem to making much progress.

Until finally a breakthrough. He's tracked down the person who forwarded my details to the debt collectors. A Mr Alan Ingeldew. But... he's out of the office so we're left hanging as to why he's done so. D'oh!

Fast forward a week and I've now had a letter threatening to take me to court, a telephone call saying it's being 'dealt with' and I've tried to chase this Ingeldew guy to find out why exactly they think I owe them money and ask for a letter admitting they've made a mistake.

Brain teaser answer...
Down and out

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Songs of Mass Destruction...
Annie Lennox's fourth solo album Songs of Mass Destruction is out and you can see the video for Dark Road here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Holiday in the UK...
Did you know that the statutory holiday entitlement in the UK has just changed? From 1 October 2007 the entitlement will increase from four weeks to 4.8 weeks (24 days if you work a five-day week). A further increase to 5.6 weeks (28 days if you work a five-day week) will take place from 1 April 2009. The bad news is that all eight Bank Holidays are included in that total.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Say You’ll Be There!...
I've just got Spice Girls tickets. For Sunday 16th December 2007 at the O2. Yay!
My Weekend...
When I was at infant school each and every Monday morning we had to write something in our dark red writing books. That something was always entitled "My Weekend". Our rather uninspired form teacher Miss Hammond was probably suffering from a hangover and it was her way of keeping us quiet for an hour. To write what we did over the weekend. Now most seven year olds weekends are a matter of routine so the usual drivel was spouted, copied forward from the previous week; "Dad took us swimming on Saturday morning at Hatfield Pool. A big boy splashed me", "Mum took us shopping at the Howard Centre. Boring" and the classic "We went to Granny's house for lunch on Sunday. We had to behave".

So it is with some glee that I can report that this weekend just gone was not a matter of routine. On Friday Marcus invited round to dinner at his to meet the new addition to his family, Martin. Martin is an eight month old kitten and very handsome too. And "why the name Martin?" we asked. Think Little Britain and the college administrator calling her superior, "Hello Martin, it's Linda".

On Saturday, after I'd had my run in with the bank (more on that later), Andy and Kevin treated us to a night out at the IMAX. We went to see Transformers. Great special effects. Perhaps less great was the plot. Fun though.

After the cinema Stu and I went to Duckie. Three great acts; a traditional drag act dressed rather appropriately as The Queen, then we had the original Walker On The Wild Side Miss Holly Woodlawn and finally Miss Hula Hoop (think Malcolm Mclaren's double dutch meets hula hoops).

On Sunday Stu's mum and dad and rest of his family came over to his and we had a lovely afternoon eating, drinking, chatting and laughing. I finally got to meet his brother, sister in law, nephew and niece. And very nice they all are too.

So that was 'My Weekend'. Take that Miss Hammond.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sickipedia v2.0...
The sickest joke site ever gets a makeover. McCann jokes, Jacko jokes, Glitter jokes... all of human low-life is there.

Here are a couple of the tamer ones:

I said to the wife, "I thought I saw your name on a loaf of bread today, but when I looked again it said 'Thick Cut' "

Little Johnny walks into his parents bedroom to find his Dad giving his Mum one. His Dad smirks and throws a pillow at the door saying, "Get outta here, you little shit!" A couple of hours later Dad hears a whole lot of commotion coming from little Johnny's bedroom. He goes up to find little Johnny giving his Grandma a right royal seeing to. Little Johnny smiles, "It's not so fucking funny when it's your Mum, is it?"

And of course there's the sickest joke ever... but I'll let you find that one yourselves.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Birthday Drinks...
Thanks to everyone who came out last night. It was lovely to see you all. And thanks for my cards, presents and good wishes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Happy Birthday...
Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday to meee.
Happy Birthday to me.

Beers in Comptons 7pm tonight if you fancy it.


Last night Stu and I went to see Erasure at the Royal Albert Hall. We met up with uber-fan Guy and Cesar for a bite to eat first in South Kensington and then headed up the road to see the boys. OneTwo were on first (the bar was full but for me and few other people in the auditorium). I like them though. I went to Erasure's first every gig way back when (1985?) at The Bell in Kings Cross. And it was as fun last night as it was then. Happy uplifting tunes. Great show. And Andy's voice was as good as I've ever heard it. Fab.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Last weekend we went away to Bournemouth for the weekend to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. Obvious my mum and dad were there, as were my brother and sister with their families so all told we were thirteen. We all stayed in the Royal Bath Hotel (looks nice but the food was terrible) which was right down on the sea front. We spent the time wandering around and generally hanging out which was great fun actually. And on the Sunday drove along the coast a bit to Mudeford to revisit some of the places we used to go as kids when my granddad had a flat down in the area. It brought back memories of forty years ago when our sole two week summer holiday was to stay at 16 Bure Park. Below are a few  snaps.