Sunday, 30 September 2007

Dad's surprise toast crunchy

The Saturday Guardian is - despite its fair share of depressingly misandrist commentators - one of the greatest things about British life. It is quite phenomenally good.

One of my (admittedly less than macho) guilty pleasures is buried away in the weirdly named 'Family' section. Written by readers, it describes the role that a particular food plays in their family's life. They are usually so well written, speaking of long-lost intimacies, rich with the pathos of loss and joy. Last week was no exception:

Dad's surprise toast crunchy.

We loved it when Dad made these for us, both for the high ceremony that accompanied any of his adventures in the kitchen as well as the element of surprise that always came with this treat. He worked with a certain gravitas, dashing from cupboard to fridge to grill, as though preparing a gourmet meal for the most discerning of restaurant customers, rather than us hungry, cranky scavengers. Then they would be placed, ceremoniously, on a plate awaiting the taster's approval.

Tea towel on shoulder, he would announce, "Now, Auntie Deirdre (as I, aged six, was for some reason known), tell me what you think of that." In hindsight, the recipe appears somewhat less mysterious: Butter slices of bread. Grate, slice or chop whatever is to hand - apples, carrots, cheese, onions, mushrooms - pile on to the bread and grill slowly until the cheese melts and everything is more or less hot. Sometimes we would find all sorts of oddities lurking beneath the cheese - slices of banana, nuts, glace cherries and even Weetabix. Now, all the grandchildren gather in my parents' kitchen in Ireland and make these together, setting up a production line of butterers, choppers, graters and, for the older ones, grillers, and they are made for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins - whoever is around. We all still love them.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Radio 4 Riots

Jane Garvey, one of my favourite radio presenters, has left Radio 5 Live to go and present Woman's Hour on Radio 4. I am not yet at the stage where I listen to Radio 4, but it's coming.

They were talking this week about a protest in the early 1990s over the scrapping of long wave, which would have deprived nicely brought up Rupert and Patricias their daily R4 fix.

One of the protest chants went like this:

"What do we want?"
"Radio 4!"
"Where do we want it?"
"Long wave!"
"And what do we say?"

Friday, 28 September 2007

All of life...

Can be explained through Seinfeld. It is the Shakespeare of our time, with an analogy for every conceivable situation.

This was brought home by a recent conversation with Dan, who noted the story of the men involved in a Seinfeld-like scam and during the course of said conversation also referred to the phenomenon of people referring to themselves in the third person.

This has also been covered by Seinfeld, where Jimmy, whose trainers help him improve his vertical leap, constantly refers to himself as Jimmy. This leads George to do the same. This phenomenon can also be seen in sports stars, such as Michael Vaughan (pictured).

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Ross Kemp on gangs

The absurd Ross Kemp is on TV doing a series about the world's toughest gangs. On the trailer (no, I don't watch it) he is shown driving through a supposedly dangerous street in Jamaica saying:

"Everyone we see is giving us the eye, so it's literally like a war zone."

Erm, Ross, but are you sure that a war zone is characterised by a load of people 'giving you the eye'?

Now I see! The horrors of war are newly apparent, thanks to Ross's insights. I can imagine Ross, wide-eyed with terror, interviewing soldiers about being surrounded by Iraqi insurgents who are ALL prepared to "give them the evils".

"We've just been in a bar, and the barman didn't even smile at us, even when we left a tip", says a shocked Ross.

It's only by the bravery of Ros Kemp that we can truly understand what it is like to be in a war zone.

Monday, 24 September 2007


I laughed out loud when I read about Abramovich asking Peter Kenyon (think snivelling, scheming sycophant) why the fans never chanted his name. Hilarious.

It's simple Roman. It's because:

1. You don't have any true fans
2. You installed a manager who took all the glory for himself, who was psychologically incapable of acknowledging you
3. You have a stupid, inane grin
4. No one likes to admit you're a crook and, oh yes...(the most important)


Good riddance

All this fuss about this idiot. He brought something 'extra' to the Premiership. He was an amazing manager. He was unbelievably sexy in that coat. Do me a favour.

I hated him from the outset. He portrayed himself as this amazing hero, when in reality he was simply in charge of the most astonishing wealth in a game that is now essentially decided by wealth. The most important man at the club was not him, though he liked to pretend it was. It was and is Roman Abramovich. Without his hard-won, fairly earned and whiter than white roubles, Chelsea would regress back to the middle of the road, degenerate club for racists that they always were.

Mourinho demanded complete loyalty from those around him yet he could not return the favour. He constantly briefed darkly against Abramovich - a case of wanting your cake and eating it. Except the billionaire did not see it that way. Mourinho agreed to join a club where he was never going to be boss then chucked his toys when reality hit.

He wasn't a good manager. Simply, he had the best and most expensive squad in the world because he could pay stupid money for whoever he liked. Even then, with a team including Djimi Traore we beat them in the Champions League and again for good measure. Benitez is a better tactician. Mourinhio moaned about decisions like a spoilt brat.

He also did nothing with two of the greatest talents in the game and failed to entertain any of Chelsea's hard core fan base who by the time of his last home game had climbed to, ooh, 24,000.

He wasn't smart or funny. He made stupid analogies when he wasn't whingeing, but it wasn't so funny when he hounded one of the best referees out of the game entirely, was it? He was so vain that he could not bear to lose in the way a small child cannot bear to lose. This is no Martin Johnson.

As for the claim that he is sexy, I suppose I can't be the judge but if women really do find him sexy then it's deeply depressing. It's like writing love letters to murderers in prison. But if being a petty, paranoid bully is sexy, then that I suppose he was.

I hope he never returns to England and dies alone, stinking of piss, shot by one of Abramovich's completely above-board 'business partners'.

Sunday, 23 September 2007


If the post below was a little smug, I went out to our work summer party on Friday and got so pissed I was sick all over the stately lawns and, amongst several other misdemeanours, made so much noise during one of the Director's speeches I have just had to apologise.

My HI was probably 8 or 9, and my DI definitely a 9.9.

I also have scratch marks all over my body, I think from falling in a hedge, and have a black nail from trapping my finger in a door.

And I want to be your latex salesman.

The end of the beginning

About 3 years ago I received an e-mail which told me about this course at Staffordshire University that would enable me to do my initial course in psychology by distance learning. I could not have done it full time, so it was a huge breakthrough. It's the only course in the country that does it. Up til then I had discounted psychology because of the huge amount of study time required and the cost. Now there seemed a way forward, even if it was remote.

So I put in place a plan which seemed so fragile at the time, so unlikely. I would go back to university, and start to learn something from scratch that would then become my profession, even though I did not know exactly what I would be doing with it. In between I would earn the money to sustain my study.

The plan involved the distance learning course, in half the time than usual, with a full time job. It then involved going back to university full time to convert my Politics degree to a psychology one. It then involved either a Master's or a Doctorate in the branch of psychology that most appealed.

I remember at the time the plan seemed ridiculous. One obstacle after another seemed insurmountable. And I didn't even know what I was going to do with it all. Surely I didn't have the energy to do all this, in my mid 30s?

In the end the plan nearly killed me, cost me a relationship, has made me much poorer; I've felt stupid in lectures crammed with 19 year olds and it has been hugely demanding in terms of energy. But every month I have done what it outlined in the plan.

The final stage in my plan starts this week. I start my Master's at Goldsmiths and leave work for good on 19th October. I am starting a supplementary course at Birkbeck as well. I have saved the money I needed. I have even found a clear direction for a career in psychology (my own business).

I can't believe it, but I've done it. It looked weird on a spreadsheet. But it's come to life, slowly and surely.

It's not the end of course, or the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning and for that, I am truly, truly grateful.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

The challenge

Went for dinner near Borough Market this evening with a single (female) friend. She was bemoaning the lack of single, available men in their 30s and I was doing my usual incredulous thing. Walk into any bar or club or pub in London and it will be PACKED with men, I said. Women have just got used to this state of affairs, that's all.

Which I still stand by.

However, she then suggested holding a dinner party and that I invite 7 single blokes and she invites 7 single sheilas and let the chemistry commence...

but I couldn't think of any. Well I can think of 3 or 4. Shit! What happened?

If anyone knows any single men in their 30s can they please post them to me at home in time for either 3rd or 10th November.

Thank you.

Love this

Monday, 17 September 2007

A life without electricity!

A lamp blew a fuse and my flat was without electricity this weekend. I replaced all the fuses..and nothing. So, no music, TV, computer or microwave meals. Only me, my books, and a sofa. And a radio.

Initially I thought of it as a great opportunity. I could do all those things I had been putting off. Finances! Organising! Letter writing! Reading! Devoting myself to the Lord!

I had this vision of children huddling round the wireless on a Sunday afternoon, or perhaps learning how to spin some yarn. Perhaps I could invite some local youths to play hopscotch. Or invite a tramp round for tea and home-made scones. I envisaged good, wholesome and worthy times, the way people did it in the days before TV and the internet.

Truth is, it was just a bit shit.

Facebook Suicide

I have committed Facebook Suicide. Admittedly, I had a short life. I threw a sheep at someone. Someone hugged me. Someone even worshipped me though that might have been a mistake.

Then I killed myself.

Why? Well, I could see its potential for 'networking'. And I could see how it would be nice to know what people are doing, and perhaps throw them a sheep every now and again. It is nice and silly, which I like, but then I realised that I am silly enough already.

And I spend enough time at my PC already too. So I clamped down on it and made a deal with myself to spend more time inviting people out for tea in real life and giving them a hug rather than hugging them virtually.

Have I missed the point here?

Saturday, 15 September 2007

The List of Women I shouldn't fancy....but do

In no particular order:

1. Supernanny (as discussed)
2. Nigella Lawson (don't usually approve of old and posh, or of the name 'Nigella' but...oh my...lick that finger again)
3. Betty Rubble
4. Abi Titmuss
5. Jessica Rabbit
6. Kim out of Kath and Kim
7. Mme Sarkozy
8. Sporty Spice
9. Kirstie out of Location Location
10.Lakisha out of American Idol

There are plenty more. I have a whole history of wrongness in this field.

Rabbit: foxy

Wednesday, 12 September 2007


Look, I hate to say this but this is compelling TV. Just shows you how much children need clear boundaries - like training a dog essentially.

I may as well admit to you now that I have reluctantly had to add Supernanny to the list of women I really shouldn't fancy, but do.

It's the large breasts and stern demeanour.

OK, show me to the naughty step.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Find Madeleine

Setting aside for a moment the latest twist, I have to respectfully disagree that the McCanns were irresponsible. Of course, it's not ideal to have left the children alone, but which of us has never taken a risk? Which parent can say they have never made an error of judgment?

50 yards away, with parents regularly going to and fro: this wasn't just the McCanns taking a risk but a group of families. It must have felt incredibly safe.

There have plenty of times where I have made a mistake and not been punished. I remember one time nearly falling asleep at the wheel of my car. I could easily have killed someone then. Of course, I would be wrong, but I refuse to believe that any of us has led an unblemished life, free from risk, or errors of judgment.

On a wider point, I think we're being paralysed by people who'll have us take no risks. Where does it end? Do we stop our 11 year olds from playing football in the park because they might be shot?

And to speculate on the McCanns' judgment when they have suffered so much, is to my mind, missing the point, as well as cruel. Focus on the evil of paedophilia, rather than vilify those poor parents who have been touched by this evil.

There but for the grace of God go all of us.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Rugby World Cup 2

We went straight for breakfast. I thought there was little point trying to sleep, and anyway I was too excited. I was tired, like in one of those dream sequences, and my memory is hazy. But the next thing I knew I was down at Darling Harbour, meeting up with all my Convict relatives and getting stuck into the singing. An abiding memory is my Uncle and Cousin surrounded by maybe 400 England fans singing Waltzing Matilda. Plucky.

The game was amazing, but sickening. From someone conditioned to expect Australian victories, it was sadistic in the extreme. But this time it was different, and Jonny delivered.

A brilliant night followed as you'd expect, and next day I grabbed about 4 hours sleep and then wandered into town in my England shirt to enjoy victory. I read the Australian papers who, for once, were magnanimous in defeat.

I left that afternoon and was back at my desk on Monday morning. Quite a weekend.

There was a twist in the tail. As everyone excitedly discussed the match 'Did you see it?' I was exhaustedly flicking through the BBC website. The first photo was Martin Johnson lifting the trophy to the sodden night sky.

And the second was of a group of about 20 England fans cheering the players as they received the trophy. The photo was entitled: England fans go wild in Sydney's Telstra Stadium. And in the middle of that crowd, clear as day, was me.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Rugby World story

So England's reign as RUGBY WORLD CHAMPIONS is up for renewal. It's funny how much everyone hates the fact that we are still RUGBY WORLD CHAMPIONS. And for me it's extra sweet because I WAS THERE.

I didn't plan to be there. But when I watched the semi final, and when we were playing the convicts, I had to be there.

The TV said it was going to be impossible to get there, but I simply rang up the travel agent and said "how can I get to * coughs * Sydney and back this weekend without missing a day's work as cheaply as possible"? "Well sir, I have one economy seat left flying via Germany, leaving on Thursday evening arriving Saturday morning...." "Erm..jolly good then!"

Now, I had used up all my holiday by that point, so I didn't have a day's leave. And on Thursday evening we had a work meeting. So by then - as you can imagine - I was feeling very ill. Coughing away I was. So I simply excused myself, walked out of the room, down Richmond High Street and off to the tube. Then to Heathrow.

Next things I knew, I was sitting in the lobby of my mate's flat in Sydney, on the morning of the game.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Nessun Dorma

I was really moved by watching Pavarotti sing Nessun Dorma this evening. That lad could sing. I wanted to know what Nessun Dorma was actually about. So I looked it up. And this is the answer. I really enjoyed reading about it. Do it whilst listening to it. If you don't have it, I will send you the MP3 version if you like.

Green hosting

Hello. Does anyone know anything about web hosting companies? I want a 'green' one so was looking at this one:

Is there anything that I should be aware of? Is green hosting a good idea? Are there any cunning questions I need to ask them?

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Look to the cookie

My best mate had a baby. I am going to see baby at the weekend. (Gotta see the baybee). It's exciting. Except my mate is white, and so is his Mrs.

So it's a white baby.

And I prefer black babies.

I'm rich baby!

Can I let you into a secret? It seems I am going to be rather rich, due to a quite amazing coincidence. I mean, we still need to discuss in detail our 'participation and modalities', but I am very confident that Mr Obi Julius and I can soon share the great wealth of Mr Elliot Archer between us.

I am really very excited.

Dear Archer,

My humble pleasure to write you this important letter since you have the same surname with my late customer which is suitable for this deal,I was able to get your contact through an international profile in my earnest searching for a reliable and trust worthy person that can handle this confidential transaction with me.

I am a top management staff in a bank here in Nigeria. I have been working in this bank since the year 2000.I have urgent and very confidential business proposition for you. In January 2002, A Gold Merchant (Mr. Elliot Archer) made a numbered-time (fixed) deposit for twelve calendar months in a Domiciliary Account in my Branch running into a very large sum of money. At the time of opening this account, he did not name a next of kin promising to do so in his next visit to Nigeria. He never came back and nobody heard from him. Upon maturity, I sent a routine notification of Account Status to his forwarding address but got no reply. In February 2005, we sent a reminder of same letter and finally we discovered from his contact employers that Mr. Elliot Archer died of heart failure.

After further investigation in Oct 2006, I found out that he did not leave a "WILL" and all attempts to trace his Next-of-kin were fruitless. I therefore made further investigation and discovered that the late Mr. Elliot Archer did not declare any Next-of-Kin in all his official documents, including his bank deposit Papers. This sum of money is still floating in our Bank and the interest is being rolled over with the principal sum at the end of each year. No one would come forward to claim it. According to the local Laws, at the expiration of 6 (six) years, the money will revert to the ownership of our bank if nobody applies to claim the funds.
Consequently upon the above, my request is that I would like you to stand in as the Next-of-kin to the late Mr.Elliot Archer since you have the same surname with him,I would document you in our records here as the next of kin to the man so that you can make claims to the deposit. With me here your claims will be approved without delay and the funds transferred to your nominated bank account. Though we need to discuss in detail as to our participation and modalities. Be assured that I am in charge and there will be no problem but I'll not fail to beg you to observe religiously the high level of secrecy required in this deal for us to succeed.

Please I await your urgent response.

Yours faithfully.
Mr. Obi Julius.
Bill & Exchange

Mind bombs and bras

I don't usually like to blog twice in a day. I feel like I'm being a bit pushy, focring myself on you. It's like I'm trying to unhook your bra strap before I've even got you hammered. Rude.

But sometimes you come across someone who really captures how you feel about a particular issue, better than you ever could yourself. Like being hit right between the ears with an intense mind bomb.

Here it is.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Web 2.0

Thanks mainly to clever friends, I now know what this is. And I like it and believe in it. The bits of it I understand that is. By reading blogs like gapingvoid, I understand - perhaps for the first time - what blogging or 'online communities' are all about.

For a non-geek (I am curious about all things geek, but mentally deficient in this area. I am a special needs geek, or geek-curious if you will), this is an achievement.

But can someone explain to me about all these RSS feeds, technorati, digg things? Do I need to be doing something here? It sounds exciting.

Oh that's right, laugh why don't you. I don't see what was so wrong with letters to be honest.

Sunday, 2 September 2007


We are currently developing the website for Bloom Psychology, and are working hard to strike a balance between the scientific side of psychology - which differentiates us from all those solving problems through crystals - and the creative more informal side, which we also want to retain.

At the outset we thought that using quotes to illustrate each service we offer would be inspiring, but sometimes we think they could be a bit cheesy. What do people think about the use of quotes in general? Cheesy, or inspiring?