Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Startling news 

Snickers is to be called Marathon once more.

Although, after eighteen years, I think we've got used to the "new" name and some people will have grown up with it. It probably isn't worth the bother.

On the other hand, perhaps it's time to dust off the pro-Pounds-Shillings-and-Pence argument!

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Maestro part two 

Well, I was there. Honest, I was. However, when I wasn't obscured by the pillar or the curtain the back half of the box was so damned dark that I couldn't be seen.

I knew where I was and I still couldn't see me.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I don't normally make comments about TV shows*, especially ones where celebrities are pitted against each other to do something they wouldn't normally do but I am making an exception of Maestro.

This is the BBC's competition, among eight celebrities, to find a conductor for part of the Proms in the Park on the Last Night of the Proms. Each week the contestants conduct an orchestra, are awarded points by a panel of judges and the worst two are subjected to a vote in which the weakest conductor is kicked out. So far Peter Snow and David Soul have been evicted.

So, why am I writing about this?

Well, last night the remaining six conducted the orchestra and the BBC Symphony Chorus.I was there in my capacity as David's groupy. My friend Trish also came along and sat in the audience. I had a special production guest ticket and sat in a "box" but she had the better view of the proceedings. To make sense of the box reference, I should mention that the studio is laid out as a mock Royal Albert Hall with boxes around the stage where people sit. I had a curtain between me and most of the orchestra and all of the choir and a pillar between me and the conductors so I didn't see a great deal of the show but I figured it will be on television tonight in any case so I won't miss any of it.

I had a very good view of the judges (our box was right behind them) and could see behind the illusion, which is always interesting. The set is largely constructed of plywood, for instance, and there seemed to be lots of people who stayed out of shot purely by crouching down behind bits of the set, or in one case, behind the judges.

It was fascinating and great fun. I'm looking forward to watching it later to see the bits I missed and, more importantly, see if I can see myself. Hopefully, if I can, I will be looking appropriately attentive and not looking around the studio at the parts I wasn't supposed to be watching, like the members of the orchestra gathered just underneath where we were sitting or staring into the autocue, wondering why there were no words on it and then realising that I was actually staring right into one of the cameras.

* except Coronation Street, Eastenders, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica, of course.

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Friday, August 22, 2008


I have two alarm clocks, both of which are "radio controlled", i.e. they use a time signal so that they are always correct and they are, most of the time, synchronised. I keep one by my bedside that goes off at 06:15 and that I use the 8-minute snooze twice so it goes off again at 06:23 and then at 06:31. At 06:31 the other clock goes off as well. I have to get up at that point as the second alarm is on the other side of the room.

My bedside clock can sometimes lose the signal and become the tiniest fraction of a second out of sync with the other clock so that it's like hearing a strange sort of echo.

This morning, however, my bedside clock was about FOUR HOURS fast. It wasn't like that when I went to bed but the alarm went off at 02:15, cheerfully insisting that it was really 06:15. Luckily it was so dark that I didn't really think that was the time and so I tried to check with other clocks and watches in the room. My radio alarm (do you think I have too many clocks?) said it was 02:20 but I'm always a bit suspicious of that and I tried to turn on the lamp to check my watch.

That was when the bulb in the lamp blew and I started to get a little freaked out.

Bulbs blowing are rare. Clocks gaining four hours for no good reason are also rare. Both at once suggests a plot for a horror movie.

Took me ages to get back to sleep.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008


I am overdrawn again! The money I paid to have my garden finished off will send ripples through my finances for months to come.

I was expecting to be paid tomorrow but, alas, there has been a mix up at the bank and our salaries will not hot our accounts until Tuesday.


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Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to work 

It's proving very difficult to get my attention back to my work.

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Good holiday? 

It must have been. It was only a week but it seems like a lifetime ago that I sat in this chair at my desk at work.

Now, what is it I do?

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Sunday, August 17, 2008


I am not a sports fan. I avoid football, tennis, cricket and the Olympics.

Unless I actually play the sport I don't enjoy watching it. I have no frame of reference. I played badminton and like to watch it on TV but that is once in a blue moon so I don't get to see that often.

I was quite pleased that I managed to avoid most of the Olympics while we were away and only caught a little of it when we stopped off in Birmingham on the way back.

What surprised me was that we'd actually won some medals. What happened there? The little I know of sport tells me that we, the UK, do not win that many medals.

What also surprised me is that the people measuring the shot-put are in severe danger of being bashed on the head. They are very brave, if you ask me.

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Back to reality 

Today we returned home after a week of Gilbert and Sullivan and avoiding the Olympics.

I really enjoyed Buxton. I loved all the shows we saw and even, though do not tell a soul, enjoyed joining in with the singing in the post-show cabarets in my mumbling croaky tuneless way. There was something about adding my voice, such as it is, to soaring melodies. I actually got it. For once I actually understood what people get out of singing.

I even contemplated joining a G&S group when I got back home but, looking at the scores and realising that I find written music less understandable than quantum physics, I thought better of it. Being unable to hold a tune in a bucket or know that I can be out-acted by a plank of wood and that I find it difficult to speak to more than two people at once makes me think that's the best choice.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"I'm naked but I can sort that out" 

We're currently in Buxton in Derbyshire for part of the 15th International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival. This is the third time we have attended and we're having a marvellous time. We have also managed to book the entire week at the Roseleigh Hotel. There is a lot more to the festival than the week we are staying but that's all we can manage.

It's a great festival and, as I think I have mentioned before, a great way to see the Gilbert & Sullivan comic operas performed with enthusiasm and talent. Not only can we hear all the words but the performers actually make it funny.

The Roseleigh is a wonderful hotel. It is nice and comfortable. It overlooks Buxton's gardens and duck pond and is a very short walk from the Opera House where the G&S productions are shown every night throughout the length of the festival.

None of the productions so far, however, have been anything like the drama from two nights ago when at about three o'clock in the morning, David and were woken by a man's voice from outside our room.

He seemed to be talking loudly on the phone as we could only hear his side of the conversation. I didn't follow all of it. All I can remember now was how irritated I was that this idiot was keeping me awake when I wanted to be asleep.

He then said something that caught my attention (and David's!) and that was something like "I'm naked but I can sort that out".

He repeated that and then was silent. We later heard steps on the stairs and the firedoors downstairs opening and closing.

I thought that maybe he'd gone to the loo and been locked out of his room by accident so he had called the hotel management. But why have his phone but not his clothes?

David thought that he might be a rent-boy but I thought that was unlikely. This is Buxton, after all.

The whole truth may never be known but it seems that the culprit was a man from the floor below who had become a little worse for wear. He had gone to the loo in the middle of the night but, as he had a single room, he had to go to the toilet on our floor. On leaving the bathroom, he became confused as to the floor he was on and tried to get into what he thought was his room but was actually the room on the floor above.

When his key didn't work he called though the door and spoke to the man and woman in the room. The man answered but not loudly enough for me to be able to hear him.This was why we only heard his side of the conversation.

One can only guess that sometime into this, the man realised his error and sloped off downstairs.

I invested in some earplugs the following day.


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Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I really hate waste. Wasted food, wasted paper but, above all, I hate wasted effort.

One example is the new flash footbridge with stairs and lifts that has been built in Orpington Station to make all the platforms accessible to people who cannot use the stairs in the underpass.

It has looked apparently finished for months but has yet to be opened. Last night when I returned late, I noticed it had all the lights on but was still condoned off.

What a waste! It's a waste of time that it was built - it wouldn't be if it was in use but it isn't. It's a waste of energy that all the lights are blazing away when no-one is using it.

Why are they waiting to open it? Is it not finished? It looks like it is. Perhaps there is some stupid bit of Health and Safety paper that needs to be signed.

Does it need to be opened by some local bigwig who has no time in their busy busy diary? Come on! This is Orpington Station, not Buckingham Palace!

If there is a need to have the new bridge, and I am sure there is, then why not make it available?

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Friday, August 01, 2008


I have just devised a new lunchtime activity called non-shopping. It's like normal impulse shopping where you go out to the shops pick up lots of things, queue and then pay for them except that instead of taking things to the till, you just put them back.

So, today, I didn't buy a new pair of shorts as well as not buying two new T-shirts.

I headed for the tills but realised part of the way there that I didn't actually need the things I was about to buy. I have plenty of T-shirts and enough shorts to last me the rest of the summer. So I put them all back.

I felt really smug when I left the shop.

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