Monthly Archives: March 2009

George Orwell writing about the BBC in the 1930s

The atmosphere is something halfway between a girls’ school and a lunatic asylum, and all we are doing at present is useless, or slightly worse than useless.

OK not OK

Last weekend, I was surprised to see an OK magazine ‘tribute issue’ to ‘Jade Goody 1981 – 2009’, including ‘Jade’s last words’. I was surprised because she was still alive.
I assumed she’d pre-agreed her last words with Max Clifford and had them emailed to the OK obit team. But apparently that wasn’t the case and the Goodys (Goodies?) were a bit upset.
I was intrigued about what this week’s headline would be, but wasn’t disappointed.
The nation mourns the loss of its brightest star declares OK, signifying a return to 100% accuracy and journalistic integrity. After all, the entire nation is in mourning. And Jade was our brightest star without any doubt.
Actually – like many – I do feel sad about Jade’s death. Interesting – I just called her ‘Jade’, minus surname, as if I knew her. I clearly had a parasocial relationship with her. Who didn’t? I also feel sad because no-one wants to die at 27.
And, despite her various faux pas and lack of conventional education, I was impressed by her undoubted ability to use the media. Arguably, they used her more. But she seemed happy with the deal. And you can’t blame her for flaunting her demise if it really was in order to make money for her sons’ future.
So – well done Jade. As for OK, well, I may just have to defect to Hello or Heat.

Save Our GMT

It’s 8am but it feels like 7am. All day today, all week, it’ll feel like an hour ago and I’ll feel exhausted, grumpy and discombobulated. Why do they subject us to this pointless jetlag twice a year?
Last weekend, at my parents’ house, we put the clocks forward a week early by mistake and spent all morning moaning about BBC programmes running late.
We then had lunch at 11am.
This must stop.

I’ve Made It, I Think

My TV friend ‘A’ decided he’d made it when his name was an answer in a pub quiz.
I’ve finally decided I might have possibly made it because I’ve been quoted and analysed in an A-Level English textbook – AQA English Language B
The authors quote a BBC feature I presented about prepositions.
They then analyse it in frightening detail, discussing my use of ‘word pictures’, ‘classical allusions’ and ‘foregrounding’ (I don’t actually know what that is, but apparently I did it).
I also illustrate my ‘knowledge of the prescriptive debate’, which is news to me.
But it is nice to be quoted from and commented upon, or on.
Oh – and the book really is excellent and a very entertaining read.

Black Squirrels

I love squirrels, whatever colour they are. I’m slightly pro-red, being from the north, but I’m perfectly happy to have a regular grey one in the garden.
Now it looks as if his black squirrel friends are heading in the direction of Hertford.
Black squirrels were first spotted in the UK 90 years ago, in Hitchin (not far from here) where they now outnumber greys. And they can be found nowadays in Letchworth, Cambridge and even Stevenage. This is a good thing. I’m all for squirrel diversity. And the more squirrels, the better.

Remembrance of Smells Past – BBC Radio 4

Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.
Helen Keller
My next Radio 4 programme is about how smells evoke memories and emotions. Why’s the effect so extreme? What’s going on in your brain when a smell makes you feel nostalgic? Can we use smells consciously to manipulate memories and feelings?
During my quest, I meet a Swedish professor who conjures up the past using smells in bottles, a tourist who deliberately uses a new aftershave every holiday to anchor his memories, and an elderly man who sniffs mud to take him back in time to his home village in India. There’s Proust too, of course.
And I have weird time-travel experience as a smell psychologist helps me regress to my childhood.
Remembrance of Smells Past – BBC Radio 4, Thursday 16th April 2009, 9pm

Boll the Builder

Boll and I have had bathroom fitters in over the last few weeks. We’ve also had a new water tank put in. And we had to have the roof redone as well.
Boll spent her formative kitten years living in a building site while the Oxford house was being renovated and so she’s very philosophical about such things.
I’ll put some bathroom pix up when I’ve totally finished pimping it up.

Grand Designs – the project manager oversees proceedings from her pouffe

Bothered? Do I look bothered?

a night on the tiles