Monthly Archives: July 2006


Bollinger and I have just watched the last ever Top of the Pops. TOTP is the same age as me and I’ve been a viewer on-and-off since I was 12, though not much in its last few years, as I’ve felt too young and trendy. Watching all the archive clips felt like seeing my life flashing in front of me. I felt an odd pang at the end when Sir Jimmy Savile, 79, turned off the studio power. Boll particularly enjoyed watching David Bowie and Robbie Williams. It was her first viewing of TOTP, being a recent convert to television.


Last night, I dreamt that the house was possessed by a poltergeist.
Then, when I went downstairs to make a coffee at about 10am, I heard a bang and the sound of glass shattering. A glass bauble had fallen off a bookshelf and was smashed to smithereens. The bauble’s been there for months. It was also, interestingly, the bauble which seemed to identify the genders of friends at a dinner party a few weeks ago (see the entry Swinging Both Ways). Bolly the cat was with me in the kitchen and was nowhere near the bauble.
A couple of years ago, I presented a Radio 4 programme about people who try to record ghosts, which included alleged recordings of the Enfield Poltergeist. I interviewed psychical researcher Maurice Grosse about it. And, as soon as he walked into Studio 7E in Broadcasting House, all the reel-to-reel tape recorders started spinning on fast forward. He shrugged it off and said he tended to ‘attract energies’.
A few days later, when I was editing the interview at home in Oxford, there was a deafening bang upstairs. The attic cupboard door had apparently been blown off its hinges.
Thankfully, nothing odd has happened so far while writing this. That would have been scary. I’m going to press ‘save’ and ‘rebuild’ very quickly now.

Maurice Grosse

Heatwave Cat Nap

The cat next door and her kittens having a siesta this afternoon

And another siesta indoors

Peacock Flies Again

I’ve got worldwide travel insurance again, after a year of being stuck in the UK thanks to being ill in 2005.
And where am I off to for the BBC in August? Somewhere nice and cool like Iceland?
No. Thailand. Bangkok. At the height of the monsoon season. Guaranteed 100% humidity, thunder, flooding and preposterously-high temperatures.
Actually, I’m looking forward to it as I love Thailand whatever the weather.
You can expect Peacockshock to be a bit more international over the next few months.

Constant Inelegance

‘What dreadful hot weather we have. It keeps me in a constant state of inelegance.’ Jane Austen
It’s 6.30am and I’ve been up since 5.15. I decided it might be nice to spend an hour or two in temperatures below 36.6

Caution – Scotland May Contain Traces of Scots

Why is Scotland so obsessed by Health and Safety? Is it because they now have their own parliament and need something to do?
My hotel room last week was full of patronising notices saying things like: ‘Please do not slip on the soap. This is a soft water area and the soap may be slippier than in hard water areas.’ I’m serious. It really did say that.
What next?
‘Please do not attempt to enter this room through a solid wall, as you may hurt yourself’
‘Do not lie in the bath face down when it is full of water as drowning may ensue’
‘Do not throw yourself head-first out of your bedroom window as this may result in death’
And, while I’m on, why do the people on trains say everything twice? On my way back from Scotland, already seething after all the safety notices, I heard a guard say:
‘Please tell us if we can be of any help or assistance.’
What’s the difference? Is assistance a posher type of help for people in First Class? This is wrong, and incorrect.


Peacockshock has been Googlewhacked.
In case you don’t know – the word ‘Googlewhack’ was first used in 2001. A Googlewhack is a Google search query consisting of two words (both in the dictionary and without quotation marks) that returns a single result – one solitary website.
Hence ‘Googlewhacking’ involves juxtaposing two (usually) obscure, unconnected words and typing them into Google.
Examples include –
squirreling dervishes
fetishised armadillo
quintupling zugzwang
netherworldly mugwumps
blithering clops
So – back to me. I’ve just received an email from Sarah Kampel – a complete stranger, possibly from the USA, who entered ‘ornithological cocopops’.
What did she get? One hit. And that hit was this site – Peacockshock. That’s because I must have used the words ‘cocopops’ and ‘ornithological’ quite near to each other at some point.
Peacockshock is proud to have been the recipient of a Googlewhack and extends pavonine congratulations to Sarah upon the occasion of her successful whacking.