Thursday, May 26, 2005

Treading on toes!

Oh dear, when I said that I nicked my Room 101 idea from Random Burblings, I didn't think that I'd actually nicked the subject matter!.

But what does it say about cyclists that we both came up with that idea for Room 101? Coming soon, I'm planning Room 101 rants about the state of climbing in Britain; Patricia Cornwell's book claiming that the artist Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper (which I also read and had a few issues with); and the price of beer in Edinburgh pubs. Only joking, Alan!

Strangely, even before I'd seen Alan's post, I was planning to post this Edinburgh related story as my strange news on Thursday entry. Spooky, or what?

Actually, I know Edinburgh quite well. When I left university I was in a relationship with a guy who came fron Dundee, so we moved up there, and his mother and some other relatives lived in Edinburgh, about an hour's drive away. His mother lived in Oxgangs, a place where some imbecile of a town planner thought it would create a community spirit if every street name referred to Oxgangs, so you had Oxgangs Close; Street, Crescent; just have a look here. His other relatives lived in Morningside, a lovely area.

I broke up with that particular chap and started a relationship with The Scotsman (a Rangers supporter by the way, so a happy chap at the moment). He came from close to Edinburgh (East Linton) but moved to Yorkshire when he was twelve (where he thought he ought to choose an English team to support as well, so he chose Liverpool, what a happy chap this morning) and moved to Dundee to do a degree in history and politics. We both love Edinburgh and went back in November 2003 for a weekend. We did the touristy things, like The Royal Mile, and the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, and also, as I like swimming, we went to this pool, the only 50 metre pool that I've ever been to. Unfortunately it was cordoned off so that people could only do widths, so I never got to swim the full 50 metres, but it's one of the best pools that I've swum in. Great for refreshing yourself after a tour of the city's many pubs the night before!

When we lived in Dundee we went down for the festival, and we saw an obscure comedian presenting a show called Lenin, Trostky and the Betting Shop, where he made hilarious references to present day political conflicts and the Russian revolution. No, honestly, this is a guy who can make abstruse historical facts really funny. I can't link to his excellent columns in The Independent because you have to pay, but whenever we see Mark on TV we feel a bit proud because we think we sort of "discovered" him. Only we wouldn't have seen him if Jo Brand hadn't been sold out.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Can a swan break your arm?

According to my site referrer, a few of you have dropped by to find out the answer to this question. And I'm top of the list when you type this into Google. Yay! You might get a better answer here, at the FAQ list for the excellent Egham Swan Sanctuary (you have to navigate to the list itself as it won't let you link directly). So yes, it's possible, but not probable. Oh, and somebody from a European server googled my name. As there are only 3 of us in the UK (well, three of us who were on the last electoral register) according to this, maybe somebody was actually trying to find me!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Strange news on Thursday

Yet another strange swan story this week, about rivalry on a village pond. I love the fact that the journalist has thrown in a reference to the fact that a swan can break a man's arm. Has this ever happened? When you were little you were always told to give swans a wide berth because of this, and it was always with reference to breaking an arm. Never that they would give you a nasty peck.

Was there some famous arm breaking incident that is now lost in the mists of time, or was it one of those strange warnings that mum used to give you, like not swimming until an hour after you had lunch (even if it was just a sandwich) because you might get cramp and drown. I thought you normally got cramp in your legs. Why would eating a sandwich make that any more likely to happen? I can see that a swan, if annoyed, could theoretically break your arm, but if it's just based on something that might theoretically happen, why single out swans? Nobody ever told you to watch out for that cow, because it could break your arm if it lay on you. And what if you were swimming in a river, and disturbed a swan, and you'd only eaten your sandwich ten minutes ago? There could be carnage.

On the subject of animals, what would you choose as a pet if you lived in a fifteenth floor flat in a cold city like Edinburgh? Would you follow this chap's example?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Room 101

Shamelessly lifted from Random Burblings, a new weekly feature: my personal nominations for Room 101. First up, we have...


I have divided these into categories, all equally annoying.

A: Boys aged 8-16. If you are the parent of one of the lesser spotted teenage cyclists who actually cycles on the road (or a teenage boy himself who does this), then I apologise, but I am fed up with my 35 minute walk to work being marred by these spotty gits cycling straight down the middle of the pavement towards me, in some cases looking round to chat to their friend behind, causing me to dive into a hedge. Actually, the worst spot for this in Teddington is where they have a cycle lane!

The worst of it is, I sometimes find myself accidentally saying sorry to these people when I open a car door a bit too quickly and they have to brake. Then I realise, they shouldn't be there anyway. It's a vehicle, you w*nkers, you should be on the road!!

Incidentally, before anybody suggests that it's just a by-product of roads being filled with dangerous, inconsiderate drivers, and we should cut young boys some slack, what with them not being allowed to wear hoodies now, I notice that the smaller number of female cyclists in this age group seem a lot more law abiding and sensible.

B: Lycra louts. I'm sorry, you with your toned thighs, aerodynamic helmet and silly clothes, but traffic lights still apply to cyclists. I know that you have a much shorter breaking distance than a car, and can weave in and out of people more easily, but you still have to stop! Oh, and lime green lycra cycling shorts just look naff, even on somebody with Kylie Minogue's bum (get well soon, Kylie). Obviously, I mean somebody with a bum like Kylie's, not somebody with Kylie's actual bum, stolen in some bizarre Silence of the Lambs type crime. She's got enough on her plate at the moment.

C: Lycra louts in Richmond Park. I don't mean those extremely fast cyclists who use the metalled roads in the park; that's fine, driving a fast vehicle on a road, it's what they are designed for, and people know to watch out when they cross a road. I mean the macho mountain bikers who use the trails without a thought to the fact that old people with their dogs use the trails for walking; some of us use the trails for spotting wildlife, or simply dreaming; small children toddle up them; and we don't want to be constantly on the watch for people who think they are auditioning for an episode of Jackass. I remember an incident where a small boy of about three was retrieving a ball, and got knocked down by some lout who constantly said that the kid was OK. Well, he wasn't missing teeth, and he didn't need to go to hospital or anything, but it's not OK to be slammed into because you thought you were in The Tour de France, mate.

D: The family pavement group. You know the ones. They've got one very little kid with a pink Barbie bike (poor little chap!) which it is technically legal to ride on the pavement (there is a maximum sized bike for which this is legal but it is for very young children, not as some people think, for anybody up to twelve or so). In order to lead their little girl, Dad, Mum, and hulking great acne-ridden teenage lout, also ride on the pavement, Dad leading the way with a self satisfied parental smile. Get on the s*dding road!! Incidentally, I believe that the law says that you cannot cyle on the pavement if your bike has wheels above 12" diameter. This is suitable up to the age of about 5. Too right!

Monday, May 16, 2005

A great wedding

The Scotsman and I were at a wedding this weekend, at the very impressive Danesfield House Hotel. I can truly say that a great time was had by all, and I strongly recommend it for afternoon tea if you are planning a weekend in Marlow. I like the fact that, in recent years, a lot of hotels and country houses have arranged to be legally entitled to hold weddings on the premises. Not everybody wants to have a religious ceremony, and it's caused a lot of registry offices to raise their game and offer more attractive surroundings; Walton and Wandsworth are especially nice. The registrar at this wedding was a good public speaker, and made an effort to make it into an event, rather than just a legal exchange of vows.

All the best, Warren and Jules!

On a sadder note, what can be the story behind this strange man? There's a novel to be written there. Please contact the authorities if you know who he is. Actually, that's a pretty silly thing to say, isn't it? Because if you'd recognised him from the description you'd either:

a: know who is and be calling somebody, anybody, right now, no matter what it says on this blog.


b: know who he is but appreciate that, because of very complicated personal circumstances (bigamy, abuse, crime, a contract out on him ,alien abduction), he might not want to be identified.

You are very unlikely to be in the position of

c: know who he is, thought about telling the authorities, but you videoed that episode of South Park earlier and it really can't wait, but hey, that woman with the blog reckons you should call the police, so maybe you could.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Cool sign

I was on a bus going past a block of flats in Roehampton today, and I saw a sign which was obviously meant to say: PARKING FOR RESIDENTS. Somebody had removed some of the letters, so it said: A KING FOR RESIDENTS. Now that's a pretty cool idea!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Strange blue outing.

A couple of weeks ago I went for a walk in Richmond Park. I then went into the elegant and exclusive area of Richmond Hill, where people like Pete Townsend and Mick Jagger live. I was looking for Park Road, which was the site of a rather exciting murder...

I won't go into too many details, because you would be better off reading the excellent account here. A maid who was working out her notice killed the lady who employed her, and disposed of the body in a rather gruesome fashion, boiling the head and throwing it off Richmond Bridge in a trunk. It was washed up at Barnes. Incidentally, if you were going to throw the head off a bridge in a trunk, why would you boil it first?

Park Road is an elegant street, built on quite a steep slope, full of large, expensive houses. I couldn't find any trace of 2 Vine Cottages, though, or even of any house that could be described as a cottage. But the murder happened 126 years ago, and there is a modern block of flats at the top of the road, and a well designed 1930s type block of flats at the bottom. There is also a decidedly modern pub. Quite possibly the site has been built on.

It was hard to imagine it as a murder scene, possibly because it's a very affluent, safe neighbourhood. Kate Webster was hanged. I don't approve of the death penalty, but it's hard to feel much sympathy for her, although thinking of a couple of my previous bosses, I would quite like to have dismembered them and thrown their head off Richmond Bridge!

Friday, May 06, 2005

I'm back!

We now have a new monitor here at Blue Ghost Towers so normal service is resumed.

When I was growing up in Cornwall, we had two really great teachers at our school, Mr and Mrs Rogerson. They taught drama, and every year we had a fantastic school play that they spent huge amounts of their spare time organising. We did A Midsummer Night's Dream and Sweet Charity, and they went out of their way to encourage us and make the occasion really special. We looked on them as friends as much as teachers, and I don't mean that in a negative, couldn't control the class sort of way. They retired last year. I was really pleased to see that their son, Dan, is now the MP for North Cornwall as of last night. Well done, Dan!

Not such a good night for Lee Rotherham, with whom I was at university, who polled a tiny 16%. But then the Tories were never going to get much of a vote in Rotherham. I remember having one or two rather drunken political disagreements in the bar of our halls of residence with Lee. We had nothing in common politically then and I doubt we've got much in common now, but it's nice to see Royal Holloway graduates cropping up in the news. At least he's trying to change things and make his mark in the world.