Archive for June, 2013

Smelly bellies and bleached patios

Last Wednesday, my brother came over for a barbecue. He brought with him a copy of Chat. Is there any better present in the world? So today, I am proud to present to you, The Nonsense From Chat.

First up, a rare occurrence, a story which has been given 10 out of 10 on the shock factor scale.

image

And I think I know why. This woman, Jonty, has named her children Kai, Bailey, Skye and Hunter. I’m sorry, Kai and Skye? O, and friends of theirs, a couple called Lee-Anna and Liam. Lee…. Anna…. Leanne?… Whatever.

On the random photos page, there’s a lot of good stuff going on. We’ve got a picture of someone reading Chat on holiday, a picture of a baby asleep, a picture of a baby in a sunhat, a picture of a cat and, best of all, a picture of a cake someone got on their birthday, which had been made to look like a copy of Chat magazine! Epic!

image

Next up, we’ll visit the top tips page which, I’m sure, is your favourite. It’s certainly mine. Our first fabulous tip is to cover an old chair in a pair of jeans. It makes it look better. Apparently.

image

You decide.

The next tip is, basically, use a small vacuum cleaner to clean the little bits out of the bottom of your handbag. Thank you, D Thornton from Bournemouth. Where would I be without this tip?

The next tip is put bleach all over your patio to kill the weeds. Boy, do I love a bleach covered patio. The smell, the discolouration on your paving stones. What brilliant advice. Thank you, Julia Wakeford from Romford. You have improved my life immeasurably.

Lastly, stick some sea shells on your wall. Check it out.

image

Good, hey?

To finish off today’s look inside Chat, we’re going to briefly visit the Health pages and one letter in particular. This letter is called ‘Whiffy midriff.’ Already, you know it’s going to be amazing.

It starts with ‘My bellybutton pongs!’ Get straight to it, Ashley, aged 28. Don’t beat around the bush.

‘If I put my finger in and sniff it, there’s a smell like rotting veg!’ Ok, Ashley, 28, what… on…. earth. I’m 28 and I can tell you this for nothing. If I had a smelly bellybutton, Chat would be the last place I’d go for advice. I mean, give Google a try first, maybe? The NHS has a free helpline? Ask friends?

And what is she doing sticking her finger in her bellybutton then smelling it? Unless the bellybutton smell is so strong that she catches a whiff of it while sitting on the sofa then decides to see what’s happening, am I suppose that one day she was just eating her dinner, watching TV with her boyfriend and thought, ‘I’ll quickly smell my bellybutton.’ For no reason. And is that something we all do? Am I the stupid one here, for not jabbing my finger in my bellybutton then inhaling the resulting odours?

She finishes the letter by saying, ‘My boyfriend says he can’t smell it though.’ I bet he’s not your boyfriend anymore, is he, Ashley, 28?

“Smell my finger, darling.”

“What? Why?”

“Just smell it. Go on. Please.”

“Um, ok…. Where has it been?”

“In my bellybutton.”

“And why do I need to smell it?”

“Cause it smells like rotting veg. Don’t you think? Give it a smell. Go on. Tell me what you think.”

“Err… No. It’s fine. There’s… There’s nothing wrong with it at all. I’m just, um, going to nip out. Um. To the shops. Yeh, the shops. If I’m not back in a few days, don’t call me….”

Advertisements

In conversation with my 18 year old self

Ok, 18 year old me, I’d like you to calm down a little bit. Just…. calm down. You’re a bit crazy and all over the place. You’d do well by scaling it back a bit.

Also, I don’t want to ruin the dream but that ambition you have, to marry Michael Jackson… That’s, um, it’s not going to happen unfortunately. I won’t tell you why. The other ambition, to see him in concert, also doesn’t come true. He does plan a tour in England but, um, he doesn’t make it. Again, I won’t tell you why.

Also, your expectation that you will have a terribly meaningful and world-changing role in life… yeh, turns out you’re a bit ordinary, like everyone else. What a thought, hey?! After all that time being convinced of your own superiority and differentness.

O, and your thing about being ‘boring’, you hate that idea, right? Hate it. Urgh, imagine being boring, that would be the worst! Well, you’re not that bothered anymore. You enjoy the simple pleasures in life – cooking, being outside, growing vegetables, seeing other countries, having lunch with nice friends. Just calm down about the ‘boring’ thing. It’s going to happen. Get over it.

You know how you love going out dancing? In a few years, you won’t really ‘go out’ at all. You hate the idea of being squashed in next to a load of sweaty strangers, actually. You dislike the drunken nonsense that you talk and that other people talk to you. In fact, in about ten years, you’ll barely consume alcohol at all, a few times a year maybe. It’s better that way, trust me. We both know what we get like with a drink in us.

And you don’t wear make up at all. I know, after all that time poking your eyes out, trying to work out how to wear eye liner. No, you don’t wear anything now. You’re too lazy. Sorry to break it to you but you’d rather spent the time in the morning having a cup of tea and blogging than poking your eyes out.

Yeh, you’re a ‘blogger’ now. You’re mad for it! You’re one of those. One of those sad people who thinks others want to read about the minutae of their everyday life. Yup.

And tea is very important to you. Very. Important.

You’ll run off to Africa soon, little Laura. And it will be fabulous. You’ll be enthused. You’ll be good at something. You’ll be in your element. For the next ten years after your gap year, you’ll refer back to it as a time of excitement and adventure. Just a few words of warning though – don’t get too excited by your new friends who take you in on the first night, they’ll drift away in a few months; also, please try and eat better – a plate of rice with some sweetcorn mixed in does not constitute a real meal, unfortunately; another thing, you’re going to mess up the article for the Namibian Independence Day by sleeping through the celebrations, shame on you.

And now, last but not least, F. Scott Fitzgerald still rocks your world. That fact is unchanged throughout your life. They make a new film of The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio. I’m going to let you watch it for yourself and make your own mind up….

The pub quiz (part 2)

On Tuesday last week, Danda and a friend and I decided it was time we went and won the pub quiz cause the prize was £490. So we went. And we won. And they gave us some drinks vouchers and kept the money. Apparently the way they do it, so you have to get picked from a hat to win, is called a ‘snowball’ prize.

We did not get picked from the hat so we didn’t get a chance to answer the question or win the money. We were gutted.

So, three days ago, with new resolve, we decided it was time to go and win that money. Off we went, to the pub quiz, to get that money.

We were answering the questions really well. The inventor of something or other was called Birdseye… True. What was Fred Flintstone’s favourite sport? Bowling. What did the Earl of Sandwich create whilst gambling? The sandwich. Et cetera. Et cetera.

image

We missed a few more than last time because there wasn’t a customer from the deli helping out after having a few drinks, like last time. But overall, we ended up with half a point more than we had the previous week, when we won.

The quizmaster came around to collect the papers and we looked at him, hopefully. He looked at our score.

“Is ours the highest score?” we asked.

“It is, yeh.” He only had one more paper to collect so we were hopefully we could win.

“But you know you get docked five points, right,” he said, as though it were no big deal.

My face fell. Danda laughed at my devastated face and described me as “a kid who’s had all her sweets taken away.”

“Why?” I asked, in confusion.

“Because you won last week.”

So now we are to be penalised for being clever?! We’ve answered those questions and we’ve got that score. Stop bullying us! Give us our 96.5 points!

It’s hard being penalised for having a massive brain and winning at everything.

So when he added everything up and read out the scores, we came second… Rude.

And then we didn’t get picked out of the hat to answer the question to win the money. We didn’t actually know the answer anyway.

We’ve decided that next week is our week. We’ll win the quiz then we’ll get the question and we’ll get the money and then we’ll be loaded and I’ll go off and buy a farm. That’s right. A farm. With my one third of the £510 prize….

Chillin at NASA. As you do.

Recently, whilst in Texas, I found myself at a loose end for a day so my auntie and I decided to go to the NASA space station.

image

I knew my mind was going to be blown and it was.

image

First, we went into a little theatre and watched a short film about the beginnings of space travel. To the right of the screen was the actual lecturn, behind which Kennedy gave the famous speech about the US joining the space race, you know? You know the one? (I sure hope you do because, until I saw this short film, I did not know it.)

Next there were lots of space-type things, like spaceships and space buggies that had been in space.

image

image

image

Then we saw some moon rocks. Obviously. Obviously there were moon rocks. I’m always hanging out with moon rocks. Just an ordinary day in my life….

image

Then there was a little bit of moon rock in a glass box and you could put your hand in the box and touch the moon rock! I have touched a peice of rock from the moon! A little bit of something off something that is 250,000 miles away! 250,000!

image

My mind. It is blown.

Then we went on a tour thing round the space centre. We visited the control room that was in use from 1962 to 1975.

image

image

image

Then we went to see the Saturn V rocket, which was massive.

image

image

image

That dark bit on the front (left of the picture) is where the astronauts stay. All the other bits are detached and stay in space.

After that, we had something to eat and went back to digest all the information. I still haven’t though….

June 26th

So it’s the 26th June today. Is that a special day for you? Do you remember it for any reason?: perhaps someone’s birthday; perhaps an anniversary; perhaps special for some other reason like starting a job or moving house or whatever.

I thought I’d look at the day and see if anything of interest happened back in history. It’ll just be a random selection of things which I think were important at the time they happened but which we’re probably not aware of having happened on this day, 26th June.

Here goes then:

1284 – After not having been paid for ridding the town of rats, The Pied Piper of Hamelin allegedly led 130 children out of the town; they disappeared and were never seen again. Interestingly a singer by the name of Crispian St. Peters had a UK hit with a song called The Pied Piper at the end of March 1966; it stayed in the charts for 13 weeks and peaked at number 5; it topped the charts in Canada in July that year. (It was a follow-up to You Were On My Mind earlier that year which got to no.2.) Also I reckon you probably don’t know that Bob Marley’s wife Rita covered the song in 1966. I think it’s a bit strange that there is a pop song about a guy who convinces over 100 kids to follow him and they’re never seen again! Hmmm.. not what you’d immediately think of as a subject for a very happy jolly song-a-long tune.

Here’s the Crispian St. Peters link. Note the pipe seems to have been, not very cleverly, replaced by a laundry basket! Now what’s all that about?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3r0zoEBba1Y

If you fancy a read of Robert Browning’s poem about the Pied Piper then here’s the link. For some reason he gives the year as 1376 but the official Hameln town website goes with 1284. It may take you a few minutes to get through as there are 303 lines but they’re fairly short and I wonder how many of you have ever read the whole thing:

http://www.indiana.edu/~librcsd/etext/piper/text.html

Or if you want to listen to someone else read it and imbue it with a bit of emotion then try these 2 Youtube vids (Parts 1 & 2) which have some nice watercour pics to go along with the sound.

Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54lZYdjeojQ

Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzsCUUjqnVg

1483 Richard Duke of Gloucester began his reign as Richard III. There is a lot on our TVs at the moment about the Tudor period and particularly the various claims to the English throne during the 15th century. It’s believed that Richard got rid of those who stood in his way to the throne of England. His brother Edward IV died through ill health and his other brother George, Duke of Clarence was tried for treason against Edward IV and executed in the Tower of London. That left only the two sons of Edward IV (and Elizabeth Woodville) who had a right to the throne before Richard. He had them imprisoned in the Tower and soon after no more was seen of them: they are often referred to as ‘The Princes in the Tower’. Rumours abound on their fate but the consensus seems to be that Richard III had them killed so that he could become the next in line. The murder of 3 of his family members then enabled him to become King of England; and after all that scheming & plotting his reign lasted just two years. Despite outnumbering Henry’s (future Henry VII) forces by 3:1 Richard was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22nd August 1485; Henry’s victory brought to a close the medieval period and ushered in 118 years of the Tudor Dynasty (1485-1603).

1824William Thompson (Lord Kelvin) was born. You remember he invented the Kelvin scale of temperature measurement. Centigrade goes from 00 – 1000; for the same range, Fahrenheit goes from 320 – 2120; Kelvin is not a scale in the same way as 0C or 0F but has the absolute zero temp as minus 2730C.

1827William Crompton, inventor of the spinning mule died aged 74. While still only young when his father died he had to work to support the family. He was taught to spin yarn on what was called a “spinning jenny”. Whilst working with this he had an idea of how to improve it and used his spare time and money in developing it.

1843 Britain declared Hong Kong a crown colony. It was of course given back to the Chinese in 1997.

1846 The Corn Laws were passed in Britain. Their purpose was to protect British cereal farmers from the cheap imports in the period 1815-46. However they didn’t work because by keeping the price up (and therefore the profits of the landowners) the average working man could not afford to buy enough to survive. Workers demonstrated demanding higher wages; there were strikes and riots. Eventually the government gave in and in 1846 the law was repealed.

1898Wilhelm Emil Messerschmitt was born. As you see by his name he is the designer of the aircraft named after him. More Messerschmitts were built than any other fighter aircraft in history and they played a key role in WW2.

1906 The first Grand Prix motor race took place at Le Mans. It was run on closed roads outside the city. The original circuit was just over 64 miles (103kms) round. They had to do 6 laps on each of two consecutive days so the total distance was 769 miles (1238kms). The winner was the Hungarian driver, Ferenc Szisz. Today’s circuit is approx ⅛ of the original at just over 13kms (almost 8.5 miles). The distance covered, over the 24 hours, has gradually increased from the 3,000 kms of the early 1930s to the current record (achieved in 2010) of 5,410 kms (3,360 miles). To give you an idea, it’s like driving overland from London to beyond Baghdad (Iraq) or almost as far as Tehran (Iran) or beyond Nouakchott, the capital of Mauretania on the west coast of Africa and almost to Saint Louis just across the border in Senegal or believe it or not to Moscow and back IN A DAY! WOW!!

1926 – Queen Elizabeth II was born. Her current reign, as of today, has lasted 61 years 157 days. In terms of living monarchs, only Rama IX (of Thailand) has reigned longer (just over 67 years). In terms of British monarchs she is also second: Queen Victoria is a couple of years ahead at 63 years 216 days.

1945 – In San Francisco the United Nations Charter was signed by 50 countries. In its preamble one of the stated aims of the organisation was, “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind…”. What a great pity this hasn’t happened. We may have avoided a Third World War but there are plenty of little ones going on all over our world today and thousands are still dying as a result of them.

1959 – The Queen and President Dwight Eisenhower opened the 2,300 mile St Lawrence Seaway linking the Atlantic Ocean with Duluth, Minnesota on the SW shore of Lake Superior. It had cost $470 million to build and 6,500 people had had to be resettled as their villages were to be flooded. In addition to homes and farms, 17 churches and 18 cemeteries (involving over 2,000 bodies) had to be relocated.

1963 – John F. Kennedy made a speech in West Berlin expressing solidarity with the West Germans there. His famous phrase Ich bin ein Berliner is known across the world and whilst not meant literally as obviously he was American it meant he wanted those in the western section of the city to know that he was of a similar mind and against the Russian governed eastern section. The Berlin Wall was begun in 1961 and, after much political change, was eventually demolished in 1989; reunification of West and East Germany took place in October 1990.

1975 – Sonny & Cher’s divorce became final. Although they seemed to have been around for a long time it might surprise you to know that their chart successes as a duo were concentrated into just a couple of years: 3 singles in 1965, 5 in 1966, 1 in 1967, 1 in 1972. There were only two chart albums: 1 in 1965 & 1 in 1966.

1984George Horace Gallup was born. He was the inventor of what is called the Gallup Poll which is a statistical method of doing a survey which can then be used to project what public opinion may be on a certain subject. I can remember many years ago that each time a survey was mentioned in a news broadcast on some national issue it was quoted as the result of a Gallup Poll. It seemed that the media endorsed the results almost as proof! I never knew it was named after an actual bloke at the time.

1986 – Richard Branson left New York on his powerboat Virgin Atlantic Challenger to try and break the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. The holder of the title is said to have The Blue Riband. He did it by arriving 2 hours faster than the previous record holder the SS United States. However he cannot claim the Blue Riband officially because that award is for vessels in service (his was not) and they are not allowed to stop for fuel (which his team did). Nevertheless it was the fastest time to cross from America to England.

2000The international Human Genome Project and a U.S. company, Celera Genomics announced the completion of a working draft of the human genetic blueprint (the Book of Life).

NYC in pictures

I’m a little tired and a little hurried this morning so, for lack of time, I’m just going to give you a quick look at my recent whistle stop in NYC.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

The time we went to the pub quiz

I’ve mentioned my need to win the lottery before, in passing. It’s recently become quite essential that I win, because of my need to become a beekeeper/farmer/chef. The only way I can really pursue this is to not be constrained by small irritations like paying the rent.

About ten days ago, my friend and I saw a sign for the local pub’s pub quiz. The prize was £470!

Amazing, we thought, it will be like winning the lottery. Only smaller. Much, much smaller.

And so the plan was made. We would go to the pub quiz, Danda and my friend and I. And we would win. And then we would each have a third of the £470. And we would be rich. And be able to quit our jobs and keep bees.

Off we went, last Tuesday, with our brains in gear. We have four university degrees between us and a whole host of varying life experience. We were going to smash this!

And it got started. Where is the PM’s Buckinghamshire residence? Chequers! Boom! We were on fire (actually, Danda was the only one on the team who knew that but never mind).

Next question. Who sang Dancing In The Moonlight? Toploader! Boom!

Where does the Council of Europe sit? Strasbourg! Boom!

We stumbled on a few but a lovely/drunk customer from the deli enlightened us with his Star Trek knowledge and on we went, getting a surprisingly large amount of the answers right.

It took forever to read the answers out and mark them, then announce the winners. He started with the last place team… Not us! Fab.

Seventh place… Not us. Woop!

Finally he got to the second place team….. And it was us. Gutted.

First place team only got one and a half points more than us. But wait! What’s this?! They had too many members on their team so they’ve been docked two points!

So we’ve won! Yessssssss! YES! YES YES YES! WE WON! AAAH! We’re rich! Bring it on! We sat back, grinning from ear to ear.

But then something was happening up front. Someone’s name was being picked out of a hat. Someone from a different team. He was asked a question to win the money… Wait a minute. The money is ours, surely?

No, the lady at the next table explained. Winning the quiz doesn’t mean you win the money. You just win vouchers. To win the money, you have to get picked out of the hat and answer the mystery question right.

Erm. Excuse me. This is two hours of my life I can never get back. Where’s my money?

Anyway, the guy who got picked out of the hat didn’t get the question right so the money rolled over to next week.

And us? Well, we won vouchers. And respect. Obviously. But the problem with the vouchers is that Danda is teetotal and I don’t really drink at all either. And the quizmaster couldn’t find the proper vouchers so he hand wrote us two vouchers each.

image

Fair enough, it was tons of fun and I’d definitely go again and we got free sandwiches afterwards. And now my friend had six drinks vouchers and can get drunk at the next quiz.

But I’ll guess we’ll keep playing the lottery.