Welcome to another set of my journal entries. The big event this month has been a colleague’s wedding reception, but I’ve also mentioned a dental appointment, DVDs, Freddie Mercury, James Bond, Steve Irwin, Richard Hammond, toilet stories, and various other bits and pieces. So I hope you enjoy!
Friday September 1, 2006
I’ve just come back from having my filling at the dentist (oh joy!), so I’m a bit numb. They’ll be charging for treatments in future, including check-ups (over £18), fillings (£45) and crowns (well over £100). Although, under tax credits, I do have an exemption card, and Mum reckons she and Dad won’t have to pay either, so we might be lucky. I have to go back for a check-up around Valentine’s Day.
Health and safety is coming in to play at the medical centre as well. The rocking horse, a staple of the waiting room for years, is at risk of rocking no more. A child fell off after their brother tried to pull them off, so the centre had to put in an incident report. But the dentist reckons that, because Health & Safety are so incompetent, they probably won’t read it, so nothing will happen. He did also mention that it might be too high under EU regulations for rocking horses (sounds daft, but I’m inclined to believe him).
Anyway, other than dental issues, it’s been another lazy week, as I’m just finishing my fortnight off work. I expect I’ll have loads to do when i go back on Monday, which is good in some respects – better to have lots to do than nothing at all.
In terms of DVDs, I’ve had a few through the post this week from Amazon:
- You Rang, M’Lord? – Series 4, the last one
- Are You Being Served? – Series 6
- One Foot In The Grave – Series 5
But the best DVD box set of the week is the Ultimate James Bond Collection, which I treated myself to for my birthday. The combination-lockable metal briefcase looks and feels great, with a 007 logo on it. Every disc is in nice packaging, and there are postcards of the posters. There are tons of extras across the entire set, including commentaries, featurettes, music videos, and loads more, all accessible through nicely animated menus. The picture and sound have also been cleaned up from the original negatives, giving what they claim is the best quality yet. I’ve had a very quick look, and it does look very clean, and sounds very good. As I’ll always have stuff to watch in between, I won’t finish it all for months. I’ll probably start with Dr No this weekend, so let’s see how it goes from there, and how long it takes me.
A few of the items in the news this week:
- It is already 1 year since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
- Tapes of the new £6 million BBC adaptation of Robin Hood have been stolen in Budapest, where it’s being filmed, and held to ransom for £1 million. Things have been pretty quiet since then, so perhaps the BBC have backups they can use anyway. It would be stupid of them not to after all, considering they’re hoping it’ll be as much of a Saturday night success as Doctor Who.
- A TV drama about the fictional assassination of George Bush is to be made for Channel 4, and the idea has naturally caused controversy.
- Peter Jackson, following Lord Of The Rings and King Kong, is going to remake the Dam Busters movie.
But a few of the weirder stories seem to have involved toilets in some way:
- During a live broadcast of a George Bush press conference, a CNN presenter could be heard chatting away over her microphone while in the toilet for a couple of minutes. Nothing incriminating was said, but it still wasn’t intended!
- After using the toilet on a Canadian plane a short time before landing, a pilot found he was locked out of the cockpit! The first officer, who was still in the cockpit, couldn’t open the jammed door either, so it was taken off its hinges, and the pilot landed the plane. The first officer could have landed the plane if need be, but I bet some passengers were a tad nervous at seeing the pilot locked out like that.
- Artist Daniel Edwards, who had previously done a sculpture of a nude Britney Spears, has now produced a sculpture for Tom Cruise and Katie Holme’s new baby. It’s not of the baby itself, oh no – it’s his first poo (or stool, to use the polite word). Yep, a bronze sculpture of a piece of poo. Apparently the artist reckons it’s a good memento for the family. The media haven’t seen the baby yet, but there’s lots of interest, as the first shots will earn them a lot of money.
Friday September 8, 2006
Despite being away for 2 weeks, there isn’t an awful lot to report at work. A couple of my colleagues were able to sort out an issue with the payslips in my absence, though I still had to do some further work on them that kept me busy most of the week. We’ve got a big new mailing machine too, for stuffing things into envelopes more efficiently than the old machine, so things have been moved around for that.
The biggest event, though, is that one of my colleagues is getting married tomorrow. Most of us, including me, are going to the reception tomorrow night. So that should be good fun.
There’s not much to report at home either. I’ve watched Dr No from the Bond set, including all the extras, some of which were quite interesting.
But even though things are quiet at this end, there’s all sorts of other things going on in the world this week.
Freddie Mercury would have celebrated his 60th birthday on Tuesday 5th September. So Radio 2 have done a documentary on his life, and ITV1 are doing likewise soon, both under the title A Kind Of Magic. There are also DVDs of his videos and a documentary – which I already have, but these have a few extra bits. And there’s a 2-CD set of his solo material, most of which is in the box set I have, but there are a couple of tracks which aren’t in there, plus a number of exclusive club remixes. I’m always a bit wary of remixes, but some are rather catchy.
The DVDs and CDs all come under the title Lover Of Life, Singer Of Songs, which describes him perfectly. There is also a book talking about Freddie in his own words, with text from interviews used throughout. So I’ve ordered the CDs, DVDs and book, so hopefully they’ll come soon. Happy Birthday Freddie, wherever you are. We miss you!
Another exciting birthday, in my mind at least, is Danger Mouse. The little superhero and his sidekick Penfold are no less than 25 years old. And a DVD boxset has come out – all 161 episodes on 12 discs! However, it’s proven a bit hard to find. Amazon listed it, before quickly changing it to a ‘Used or new’ status before I’d ordered it. Not only do I feel a bit wary about shops I don’t know, but the shop they were pointing to was listing it a higher price (more than Amazon’s had been).
So I’ve ordered it from HMV instead, as it’s the cheapest price I can find, and practically the only online stockist I know that had a decent price (under £30). WHSmith had it listed at the full RRP (£45). HMV’s stuff appears to come from Guernsey, presumably for tax reasons. I don’t know if I’ll ever receive this box set after all this, as it seems a bit odd that it’s hard to find, but we’ll have to wait and see. The BBC have also bought some episodes from Fremantle Media to show in their kids slots sometime in the future.
However, Freddie and Danger Mouse are not the only ones to be remembered this week. Steve Irwin, the Australian environmentalist and Crocodile Hunter, has died at the age of only 44. He made many TV shows and a film about his close encounters and work with dangerous animals, including crocodiles and snakes. And he was killed by a stingray while filming a documentary.
A stingray is named because of its ‘barb’ – the razor-sharp, venom-coated point on the end of its tail. When it feels threatened, it strikes out. And in this case it used it to stab Steve. The toxin itself is not harmful to humans, and in itself could have been cured. However, the barb actually pierced him directly in the heart, so he had no chance. Only one other person in Australia is known to have been killed by a stingray, so it is a very rare occurrence.
I never fully watched any of his shows, so perhaps it seems odd to give him much of a mention. But from what I have seen, he was very brave working with animals that most of us wouldn’t go near. He cared about them, and wanted to educate people, so that they knew more about them, and didn’t just fear them. He had a personality that won him many fans, including the Australian Prime Minister.
I’ve always thought he was a bit mad for doing what he did, but I also knew he cared and was courageous to do those things. Some people think he’s stupid, as some did after he held his 1-year-old son near a crocodile at a zoo. He later claimed he was in complete control, and I believe him. He obviously cared not only for the animals, and more so for his family. He didn’t strike me as the sort of person who’d want to put other people at risk. And his parents, also keen conservationists, had got him interested in the work that made him a household name. His wife has been heavily involved with his work over the years, and no doubt will continue to keep his memory alive by supporting the causes he felt strongly about, such as his anti-hunting stance. Leaving behind a wife and 2 children, he died doing what he loved the most and did the best. And that’s the most important thing to remember.
And apart from those stories, there are a few other bits and pieces in the news this week that I’ll mention:
- Staying in Australia for a bit longer, scientists are in the process of developing a bionic eye to help blind people. It won’t fully restore sight, but will give them some visual stimulation that they may not have had before, to stop them bumping into things for instance.
- The whale that got lost in the Thames many months ago is found to have had arthritis. It died as scientists attempted to guide it back to the open ocean, having not had access to its staple died of squid, and becoming dehydrated.
- A new film of the Sweeney is reportedly due to start production in May 2007. Director Nick Love is working with original writer Ian Kennedy Martin on it.
- The stolen tapes for the BBC’s new adaptation of Robin Hood have been found.
- The Euro 2008 qualifiers have started, and last Saturday England beat Andorra 5-0 in their first match. It seems that our new captain is doing a much better job than Sven. Andorra might not be a tough team anyway, but the general consensus is that England are playing much better now.
So quite a busy news week! But now I’ve got to get suited and booted for the wedding reception tomorrow. It’ll make a bit of a change for a weekend!
Monday September 11, 2006
We can’t see that date without remembering the terrible attacks from 5 years ago. Various events have gone on around the world to mark the occasion of course, and there are more new programmes on TV about it.
But on a far happier note, I went to my colleague V’s wedding reception on Saturday night. It was at the Overmead Hotel, at Daddyhole Plain in Torquay. It’s a clifftop location, but you can’t see the view unless you’re upstairs from what I could tell. The reception was in the Hydro Suite which, luckily, was very easy to find – I just walked in the entrance and it was on the left! Well, I assumed it was the right place, with the disco going and lots of people around. I asked the guy at the door and he said it was the reception.
As the invitation said 7pm, I ordered a taxi to pick me up at that time, getting there in about 20 minutes. I didn’t want to get there too early in case nobody else from work was there, which actually happened to be the case to start with. So I went to the bar, which was good timing on my part, as it was virtually impossible to get to later as more people arrived. I had a pint of Olde English cider, which was nice.
Just as I was finishing that, and it was past 7:30pm by now, V came over, to my relief. I had started to wonder if there was more than one reception and if I was in the wrong place! She looked absolutely stunning in her wedding dress, and had clearly been enjoying the day. She got married at Marldon Church, and they were lucky with the weather, so everything was going well. I even got a photo taken with her when a lady asked to take a picture. At one point in the evening, when I was chatting with people, someone thought I was the groom! That’s probably because I had my Italian suit on, and a few people mentioned that I looked smart throughout the evening.
As I said, V looked wonderful, and her dress had a long train on the back, so I was very careful not to step on it – but being white, it was very easy to spot! I did still step on it once by accident, but got off it very quickly, and no damage was done! And I met P, the lucky groom, too.
Anyway, V said that she had spotted J, another colleague, and called him over. He got us drinks, so I had another Olde English, and we stood near the doorway and chatted. We could have gone elsewhere in the room I suppose, but it was a bit crowded. It was a nice room, in what appears to be a very nice hotel, but there were pillars on each side of the middle gangway, which only served to reduce the space and make the room seem fairly small. That’s why the bar got really crowded later, at least 3 people deep at the busiest point.
J was pleased to see me there, as he thought he’d be first to arrive! He’d arranged to meet a few people from work at a pub nearby first for a quick drink, but after sitting around on his own for a while decided to come along to the reception instead. It was a good chance to get to know him a bit better, as I don’t see him and the others who work in his section of the department that much. He’s got a good variety of musical tastes – some of the old stuff like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and The Who, and other bands I hadn’t heard of. He likes modern stuff too, like trance, but I’m not really into that. It was an interesting chat.
I’d had tea before coming out, but ended up getting some food when it was clear everyone else was, and V told me it was there. I got J to help me, which was after he’d got his, so it looked a bit like he was getting seconds! They had sandwiches, chicken, pizza, sausage rolls, etc – the usual nibbles for this sort of thing. It was nice grub, and there wasn’t any mayonnaise in the sandwiches, yay! There was some wedding cake too, but I didn’t end up getting any in the end unfortunately. Never mind.
It was while we were getting the food, and starting to eat, that various other colleagues turned up. I chatted with most of them at one point or another while we ate and they each mingled to see other people. It included a story of a previous experience at a function like this for one of them. He’d been having a few drinks, to say the least, and had gone to the toilet. People then assumed he had gone home, having not seen him for a while. But they had been surprised to see him come out of the loos about half past 11 – he’d been sleeping in the cubicle!
The music then started to pick up a bit courtesy of the live band on the stage, and they played some good rock & roll stuff, including Handbags & Gladrags and Hey Jude. They were very good. And, of course, I got dragged up to dance by L who, before arriving, had clearly had a few to drink! So me and J were up there dancing with her most of the night, showing herself off in her outfit. She was wearing what one of the other guys had described as a pantry-maid style frock – black with the frilly white collar and waist elements. Not a lot left to the imagination! Another colleague also had a dance with us, and had had a few to drink too, but was still relatively sober, and she didn’t stay for as long as us.
The band didn’t play all the time – there was the usual disco stuff as well, but that was mainly good, lively stuff, as it should be, such as Let’s Twist Again and Love Shack. It made us sweat a bit, but I was sensible enough to take my tie off and loosen my shirt about halfway through the night. I would have taken my jacket off and put it down somewhere, but didn’t want to risk losing it. I don’t think anyone would have nicked it, but if someone had moved it, or I’d forgotten where I’d put it, that wouldn’t have been good!
I decided to leave when L & J did, as we were the last ones from work by that point. They were getting a taxi home, but weren’t going my way, so I had to ring for mine. It took a little while to get through, as they’re very busy on Saturday nights of course, and I had to wait about half an hour. But it only ended up being about £9.50 each way, so it wasn’t too bad.
As I was waiting outside, I could see the lights from the disco through the window. You could tell it was getting near the end, as all the traditional wedding dance tunes kept playing, including the Grease Megamix and YMCA, which you always get at these things. Good to hear a bit of Blondie as well, with One Way Or Another.
So all in all it was a very good night. A good chance to see the guys and girls from work in a social environment, which had previously only happened at the Christmas dinner, and show them that I can let my hair down a bit by having a good dance.
But, most importantly, it was V & P’s day. They’re now off around the world for their month-long honeymoon, taking in various places including Florida, Hong Kong and Singapore. They flew out today apparently – perhaps not the best day to pick (9/11), but I doubt that’s in their minds. I’m glad I got to know her a bit before all this, when I chatted to her while on a course in June. As I said before, she did look beautiful, and I wish them both every happiness.
And one more thing – the Danger Mouse DVD box set arrived today, so I’m looking forward to watching that!
Friday September 15, 2006
It’s been a pretty quiet week really. Nothing special to report at work since the reception. And home’s fairly quiet too. The Freddie Mercury stuff hasn’t arrived yet, but I’ve now watched From Russia With Love (Bond film #2), and just have to do the extras. I’ve also started watching Danger Mouse. Nothing unexpected – over the top but still funny, and all the better for having David Jason in it, he’s great.
In the news this week, it’s been fairly quiet as well:
- The Conservatives have unveiled their new logo – a scribbled drawing of a tree next to their name. Meant to represent strength, renewal and similar issues, reactions have ranged from perceptions of it being a kid’s drawing or a sprig of broccoli, and a general feeling that it’s rather pointless.
- At least 10 stingrays were found dead on beaches in Australia, some with their sharp tails cut off, in a possible backlash for Steve Irwin’s death. Which is stupid, when he was actually trying to get people to care about wildlife.
Friday September 22, 2006
Again, not much to report this week. Work’s still been fairly quiet, and there’s not much happening at home either. I was going to stay with my friend in Exeter for the weekend, as she wanted to celebrate getting a new job at Marks & Spencer. But we had stormy winds yesterday, a remnant of Hurricane Gordon which had been losing power while crossing the Atlantic, and that’s badly affected the line by the sea wall at Dawlish. Only 1 of the 2 tracks is in use, so some trains are cancelled and others delayed. And the X46 bus service to Exeter doesn’t run very late, so I can’t get that. So we’re going to give it a miss.
And that’s it. To fill out this entry, here are some bits of news from this week:
- Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond is critically injured after a high speed car he was driving in York veered off a racetrack, deployed its parachutes and flipped over many times. He was testing the car at up to speeds of 300mph as part of a feature for the BBC’s motor show. He had to be cut free from the wreckage, and has suffered a ‘significant brain injury’. The hospital are saying they are ‘reasonably optimistic’ he will make a good recovery and he has now been moved from intensive care. Let’s hope he’s not too badly hurt. Although I don’t watch the programme, what I have seen shows that he has a great passion for what he does. He has a wife and children who are no doubt extremely worried, as are his co-presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May.
- Rules on downloads will be relaxed, so that the Top 40 chart includes all downloads, and doesn’t place limits on their release in relation to physical singles.
- The Royal Mail unveils a service allowing you to pay for your postage online. Users can pay using their credit cards and print out barcoded labels to put on envelopes and packages. The Queen’s head does not feature on these items, as Royal Mail says some printers will not be able to reproduce it accurately.
- A memorial service is held for Steve Irwin in Australia, also broadcast in other countries (including America, but not the UK). His wife was too upset to speak, but their 8-year-old daughter gave a lovely speech.
- Middlesbrough council have fitted microphones to 7 CCTV cameras in the town centre that yell at people up to no good e.g. if they drop litter.
- Scientists who performed the world’s first penis transplant have reversed it after it caused psychological problems for him and his wife, and didn’t function as hoped for urination and intercourse.
- Tuesday 19th was Talk Like A Pirate Day in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care and other cancer charities.