Journal – March 2008

Here’s another month of entries from my journal. I didn’t do an awful lot this month, although work has been keeping me busy. And I have mentioned some TV, DVDs and news stories as always. Plus there’s a Top 25 list, and I haven’t included a poll like that for a long time. So it’s a still a fair mixture of stuff. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday March 2, 2008

Well, another month is upon us, and Easter isn’t far away now. Today is Mother’s Day though, which is also pretty early this year like Easter is. I ordered some flowers and chocolates from Interflora which arrived yesterday for Mum, which was nice.  There isn’t much else to report from home this week really, although I have enjoyed watching the second series compilation of Saturday Live on DVD, after liking the first one too, and I’ve also recently got Mock The Week: Too Hot For TV on DVD as well, featuring the unbroadcastable stuff. I’d got that after seeing my mate’s copy when I was away recently. I’ve also got the first 2 series of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, which should be interesting to watch.

The news this week has been very eventful though. First of all, there was an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale – and it was in the UK! We didn’t feel it here, as it was in the north-east. But parts of Wales and places in the south like Brighton reported feeling tremors. A few people from Amsterdam even claimed to feel aftershocks in the emails they read out on the breakfast news. So it was pretty big. And it lasted for 10 seconds, which doesn’t sound like much, but it is quite a long time for everything to be shaking and rumbling really. There was damage to houses, but I’ve only heard of one major injury so far – some student had his pelvis broken by fallen masonry as he lay in bed. Ouch!

Meanwhile, Prince Harry has been pulled out of Afghanistan. We didn’t know he was there, as the UK media had agreed to a news blackout for his security (such a blackout is rare, but it also happens with things like kidnappings occasionally, where the police don’t want to make negotiations even more difficult). In return to agreeing to the voluntary non-reporting, the journalists were granted access to Harry before, during and after his deployment, to do interviews with him. However, the foreign media weren’t involved with this agreement, and a US website decided to reveal that he was out there. His cover had been blown, so now he could be a prized target for the Taleban, and hence he’s been brought back.

Also in this country, we’ve picked our Eurovision entry, which is pretty boring as usual. Some former X Factor contestant. His song is reasonably catchy I guess, but it’s still not great. Mind you, it’s not as awful as Ireland’s entry – they really are not taking it seriously this year, it seems. And you can’t blame them, but even so, the entry is really, really strange – a puppet turkey called Dustin, who sounds terrible!

So as you can see, there has been a fair amount of news this week. But anyway, for a change, and as I haven’t done this for a while, let’s finish with a list. The Radio Times has chosen the top 25 put-downs in TV history, from the UK and America:

  • Basil Fawlty – Fawlty Towers. To Sybil: “Oh dear, what happened? Did you get entangled in the eiderdown again? Not enough cream in your eclair? Hmm? Or did you have to talk to all your friends for so long that you didn’t have time to perm your ears?”
  • Mrs Merton – The Mrs Merton Show. To Debbie McGee: “So what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”
  • Edmund Blackadder – Blackadder II. To Lord Percy: “The eyes are open, the mouth moves, but Mr Brain has long since departed, hasn’t he, Percy?”
  • Roseanne Conner – Roseanne. To husband Dan: “Your idea of romance is popping the can away from my face.”
  • Father Jack Hackett – Father Ted. “Drink! Feck! Arse! Girls!”
  • Carla Tortelli – Cheers. Cliff: “I’m ashamed God made me a man.” Carla: “I don’t think God’s doing a lot of bragging about it either.”
  • Patsy Stone – Absolutely Fabulous. “One more facelift on this one and she’ll have a beard.”
  • Jim Royle – The Royle Family. Nana: “Is this hat too far forward?” Jim: “No. We can still see your face.”
  • Malcolm Tucker – The Thick Of It. To a junior minister: “All these hands all over the place! You were like a sweaty octopus trying to unhook a bra! It was like watching John Leslie at work!”
  • Statler & Waldorf – The Muppet Show. Statler: “Wake up, you old fool, you slept through the show.” Waldorf: “Who’s a fool? You watched it.”
  • Inspector Monkfish – The Fast Show. To a bereaved woman: “I realise this must be a very difficult time for you, so put your knickers on and go and make me a cup of tea.”
  • No Offence – The Fast Show. “I notice you’re not wearing a wedding ring which, given your age, means you’re divorced or a lesbian.”
  • Rupert Rigsby – Rising Damp. To lodger Alan, who complains his room is too cold to study in: “The only thing you study is your navel. You even shave lying down.”
  • Nan – The Catherine Tate Show. Describing an encounter with an overweight hospital volunteer: “She said to me last time, ‘You look bored, Mrs Taylor. I’ve got three words for you: Barbara Taylor Bradford.’ So I said, ‘Yeah? I’ve got three words for you too: calorie controlled diet.”‘
  • The Professor – The Mary Whitehouse Experience. “I have here a copy of your book, Origins of the Crimean War. It smells of poo.” “That’s because it’s been inside your mum’s bra.”
  • Alf Garnett – Till Death Us Do Part. “You Scouse git!”
  • Alexis Carrington – Dynasty. “I’m glad to see your father had your teeth fixed – if not your mouth.”
  • JR Ewing – Dallas. “Ray never was comfortable eating with the family – we do use knives and forks.”
  • Dr. Perry Cox – Scrubs. Dr Elliot Reid: “I don’t think you understand the severity of the situation here. I am dangerously close to giving up men altogether.” Dr Cox: “Then on behalf of men everywhere – and I do mean everywhere, including the ones in little mud huts – let me be the first to say thanks and hallelujah.”
  • Dr. Gregory House – House. “You can think I’m wrong, but that’s no reason to stop thinking.”
  • Gary Strang – Men Behaving Badly. “Let’s face it, Tony, the only way you’re gonna be in there is if you’re both marooned on a desert island and she eats a poisonous berry or a nut which makes her temporarily deaf, dumb, stupid, forgetful and desperate for sex.”
  • Arnold Rimmer – Red Dwarf. “Look, we all have something to bring to this discussion. But I think from now on the thing you should bring is silence.”
  • Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm. “Switzerland is a place where they don’t like to fight, so they get people to do their fighting for them while they ski and eat chocolate.”
  • Sam Tyler – Life On Mars. To Gene Hunt: “I think you’ve forgotten who you’re talking to.” Sam: “An overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding?”
  • Captain Mainwaring – Dad’s Army. To Pike: “You stupid boy!”

Sunday March 9, 2008

Work’s been very busy this week, sorting out lots of stuff to print for the end of the financial year. So I certainly couldn’t be bored. It wasn’t anything stressful though – although my work PC clearly had other ideas, when it died on Friday morning! Well, it turns on, but keeps restarting whenever I try to log on, and the girl I spoke to in PC Support reckons the motherboard might have gone. Which could make sense, as the computer has been very slow lately.

Anyway, she reckons I need a new PC, and she put me through to a guy who remotely logged in to my PC to try it for himself, and he then said someone would get back to me. I heard nothing else for the rest of the day. Luckily a colleague was away on Friday, so I used his PC to do the important things that needed doing, but it meant I had no access to my emails. Although, given the BBC’s Money Programme subject this week – “Email is ruining my life” – maybe that’s a good thing! I don’t get many emails at work or home, but lots of people get tons of it to wade through. But anyway, I’ll give the IT people another ring on Monday to try and get it sorted out.

Life at home has been much more relaxed, I’m happy to say, and there’s nothing at all to report here, other than I popped out yesterday to get a couple of Easter cards.

And in the news, it’s not exactly been cheerful. Carol Barnes, a former newsreader, has died of a stroke aged just 63, while porn baron and property magnate Paul Raymond has died aged 82. And Patrick Swayze, 55, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, although reports he has only just 5 weeks to live were branded untrue by his agent. It is a fatal disease though if not treated, so let’s hope he pulls through that. But there hasn’t been much else happening, to be honest, that’s of any major interest.

Sunday March 16, 2008

It’s been easier to get on with my work this week, as a guy came down and fixed my PC on Tuesday. He had to do a full Windows repair in the end, which took about an hour. I’ll still need a new PC, but it’s working for now. We also had cream cakes for a colleague’s birthday this week, and we won £10 in our Lottery syndicate this weekend. And the next two weeks are only 4 days each, because it’s Easter next weekend. So that’s all good.

At home, things are much quieter, nothing particular to report here really. But I saw Bionic Woman on ITV2 this week. It’s a US remake of the original 70s series, which I’ve never seen. But it’s quite good. It’s only lasting for 8 episodes though. It was halted because of the writers strike in Hollywood, and because it had falling ratings in the US, it doesn’t look like it’ll be recommissioned.

The DVDs of Whose Line Is It Anyway? are proving entertaining as well. You can tell it’s new and in its infancy, with Clive Anderson being a fairly nervous presenter, and a few of the performers struggling a bit. But they all start finding their feet after a few episodes. And I’ve downloaded The Dave Clark Five‘s Greatest Hits on iTunes, as that was released following the death of the lead singer recently.

In the news, there’s been one big cheerful story. Shannon Matthews, the girl who went missing a few weeks back, has been found safe and well. She was found at her stepdad’s uncle’s house, hidden in the base of a divan bed, after a tip-off from a suspicious neighbour. The guy sounds like a bit of an oddball, keeping himself to himself, so let’s just hope he didn’t hurt her.

But the saddest story of the week is the apparent suicide of Michael Todd, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, found dead on Snowdon. He had seemed alright to people, but now it turns out he had a complicated love life, and was suffering from depression.

We’ve also had the Budget this week, although that wasn’t very interesting – just the usual increase in taxes on booze and cigarettes, and increased taxes on vehicles too, to try and reduce their impact on the environment. Meanwhile, David Cameron’s been showing off his family on TV, in what many are seeing as nothing more than a PR stunt, to try and show that the Conservatives want to do more about families.

The Queen’s also been in the news this week, because she opened the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow. It’s for British Airways flights only to use, and is designed to make the experience much easier for passengers from the moment they check-in until they get on the flight. It’s been completed on time and on budget too, amazingly – and all with BA’s money, the taxpayer didn’t have to pay a penny. We’ll have to see if it does indeed improve things, of course, but it’ll be good if it does.

I’ll finish on a happier story though. In New Zealand, two whales became trapped on a beach after being swept inland, and couldn’t get out again. Rescuers tried for an hour and a half to get them out to sea, but had no luck – only for a dolphin to turn up and lead the whales away without any problems! The dolphin, Moko, is well known for playing with swimmers in the area, and I think Moko’s gained even more respect and fans now!

So that’s it. It’s Easter next weekend, so there’s 2 short weeks at work with a nice long weekend in the middle to look forward to, which is good.

Sunday March 30, 2008

I’m getting lazy with this again. But then there hasn’t really been much worth mentioning either. Life’s just ticking over the same as usual. There’s been plenty to do at work. And I’ve signed up for the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) now, so I’ll be taking all those tests over the next couple of months… you know, really hard things like opening files, making text bold, adding fields to databases, printing things, etc, which I’ve already been doing for years.

And at home, things are quiet too. I got to have a nice lazy weekend last week because of the Easter break, so had 4 days off work instead of 2. I’ve also had a clear-out upstairs, getting rid of some rubbish like old careers magazines and free DVDs from newspapers that had gathered up. Although, talking of DVDs, I’ve got The Two Ronnies: Series 3 and QI: Series 2 (The B Series) to watch now, which is good.

In the news, British Airways’ Terminal 5 opened at Heathrow this week, on time and on budget, with a clever underground baggage system and guarantees that queues would be virtually eliminated – only for it all to fall into chaos when it actually opened! Staff seemed to have inadequate training, as they couldn’t even log-in to the systems, and the baggage system got clogged up because bags weren’t being removed by staff quickly enough. So queues built up, baggage mountains built up without being sent on flights, and over 200 flights have been cancelled in the first 3 days alone, with more expected over the next week. It’s inevitable that a big airport like this will have teething problems at the start, and maybe it’s only one or two little problems that cascaded into a massive one, but it’s still a PR disaster for British Airways.

Meanwhile the French President has visited the UK this week on a short state visit – however, most of the attention has been on his beautiful supermodel wife, who seems to be adding a much needed touch of glamour to politics. And the Mills-McCartney divorce case has ended, with Heather Mills getting £24m. The judge published the details of who got what to avoid lots of speculation. Their daughter Beatrice will also be getting some money every year.

And finally, the oldest known recording of the human voice has been heard this week. It was never meant to be played back, in fact, but audio historians used digital technology to achieve it. The recording of “Au Clair de la Lune” was recorded in 1860. It was recorded on an invention called a phonautograph, where a needle etched representations of sound waves into paper covered in soot from a burning oil lamp. To play these lines back, the paper was scanned at very high resolution, and a virtual stylus was used to read it. They had to adjust for changes in speed and pitch, as the needle didn’t move at a constant pace. It sounds quite odd, and even gave a Radio 4 newsreader the giggles after it was played on air. Listeners bombarded the BBC with requests to hear her break into laughter again after it had happened.

But that’s pretty much all that’s happened recently. It’s been a normal, quiet couple of weeks, which is a good thing. It’s been nice to relax after such a busy period at work recently!

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

One thought on “Journal – March 2008”

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