Sunday, 29 April 2012


The sexy beast that is Fernando Torres found his goal scoring form yesterday finding the net three times for Chelski. Answers on a postcard - What is going on in his shorts?!

Saturday, 28 April 2012


Yesterday I had one of the strangest experiences I have ever had.  I was in North London for an appointment and the plan was to meet a colleague outside the offices of the client.  I arrived in the area a little early so I went for a 10 minute walk around the area. It's not a nice area.
It started raining, then really raining, then bucketing down, so I quickly made my way to the offices and waited under the awning at the cafe next door. I only had 3 or 4 minutes to wait for my colleague.  Now I say cafe, but it was more like an empty room with a couple of tables and chairs.
After about 2 minutes, a lady came out of the cafe (she looked foreign and a bit rough) and the conversation went something like this:
Woman:  [in a pleasant tone] "Hello. Why don't you come in for a tea?"
Me:  "That's very kind of you, but I don't have time."
Woman:  "No?  I'm sure you have time - come in for a cup of tea."
Me:  "I am meeting someone for a meeting next door, so I really do not have time.  Thanks anyway."
Woman:  [slightly annoyed tone] "You should come in for tea."
Woman:  "What do you do next door?"
Me:  "I work in financial services and am seeing a client."
Woman:  "I have a business and need financial advice, so come inside."
Me:  "I don't give advice, I give training to advisers"
Woman:  [even more annoyed tone] "Come in for tea!"
Me:  [in a slightly raised voice]  "I... do... not... have... time!"
Woman:  [now angry]  "You stand outside my business dissing me and wont spend money!"
Me:  "eh?!"
Woman:  "You are dissing me and my business. I need money"
Me:  "I am not 'dissing' you.  I do not want to go inside."
Woman:  "I need financial advice, come inside!"
Me:  [defensive tone now]  "I will come in next time I visit."
Woman:  [in Romanian (I found out later) semi-shouting]  "ajshkh fh kdfud a kjh dau hoahsd!"
Me:  "Sorry, I don't understand."
Woman:  [very angry and now in my face]  "I am Romanian"  (as if that was meant to mean something to me)
At this point she moved towards the door and I honestly thought she was going to get someone to beat me up.  So I walked quickly round the corner and my colleague was coming the other way. I very briefly told him what was happening and he suggested we get inside the client's offices straight away.
Inside the office I was relieved to be safe... and then the buzzer on the front door went and the receptionist picked up the phone.
Receptionist:  "No, we do not have someone here that wants tea...   no-one is paying you for tea!"
My colleague told the receptionist to put the phone down and not answer it if it rang again.  The mad woman outside was buzzing all of the businesses in the building looking for me!  
I recounted the story to my client who said that the cafe was not all it appeared to be.  At 5.30 each evening, lots of top of the range Mercedes and BMW's turn up and men go into the cafe. They don't know what goes on in there, but this bland room would not be a place to attract wealthy men, that's for sure.  You can draw your own conclusions.
I sat through the meeting wondering if I was going to be greeted outside by a big Romanian man looking for trouble!  It didn't help that I had to leave earlier than my colleague.  Luckily, the coast was clear and I walked very briskly to my car.  I would advise you, if visiting Edgware, not to go into a Romanian cafe!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Update on 'that' photograph

I have had a couple of enquiries following the major celebrations at winning first place in the Guardian Weekend competition.
A guy called Charlie Bateman called and emailed the Guardian to get my contact details. He is a musician (see here) and wanted to use the image on a run of 150 CDs. I said yes of course, with the proviso that if the run went beyond 150, we would need to talk money and also that I would be his official photographer on his US tour when he becomes famous!  I dont know much about Charlie, but obviously I am a huge fan!
The other enquiry came from a lady who wanted to buy the picture. I was really unsure what to charge - so in the end I went to the low end of the scale I was recommended by various people and therefore, for a 30" by 20" print it will only cost £50 all in.  Bargain!
You can buy it here, if you really want.

Monday, 23 April 2012


We had a great day yesterday in London for a pre-birthday meal. We now buy each other a top meal for birthdays - this year for me was Galvins at Windows at the top of the Hilton on Park Lane.
The meal was fantastic, all very fancy with some very unusual combinations and flavours.  The many members of staff were very attentive and the views were stunning.  From the top of the tower, Wembley looks just minutes away! And watching the rain move across the city during our 3 hour lunch was impressive.
We actually started the day looking round a few shops before stopping for a drink in the deserted "pub" that is part of the Hard Rock cafe where we had cocktails and watched the football (see Justin Bieber collection below).  I was pretty merry by the time we headed home and just a bit jaded today!
Here are a few images of the day...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

I think you need my help Zac

There have been some terrible photoshop images of Zac naked on the net this week. The gay boys on Twitter got all excited - but you believed the images, you really needed glasses. However, I always get a spike in reader numbers when naked Zac is all over the 'net - all because of this posting.
Anyway, Zac needs a hand in this privacy invading picture - I'm here for you buddy...

Friday, 20 April 2012

Friday feeling

Today I was in London for work and travelled through King's Cross station where they have just opened a huge new concourse - part of a £500 million upgrade. It's a stunning space! Access to all platforms is easier and there are lots of new shops and restaurants.

I don't want to recall the number of times I have been crammed into the old concourse waiting for details of delayed trains. The overcrowded area never felt safe and had a 1960's rundown vibe anyway. 

Apple have greatly impressed me this week. The rubber base of my MacBook had come away from the main body and I searched online to buy a replacement. On the Google search, top of the pile was a message from Apple offering a free replacement, however old the laptop was! I signed up and the part arrived a few days later... complete with spare screws and screwdriver!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

No one likes a cheat

Ashley Young (him of the webcam fame) and Andy Carroll (him of the idiotic ponytail fame) have both been accused of cheating in recent weeks.  Both clearly dived aiming to be awarded penalties - Ashley got the penalty, Andy got a yellow card for being a twat.  The sad part was that Andy insisted he was tripped, yet there was no-one touching him!
This play acting has to be dealt with seriously. On the continent it's often accepted and tollerated - and that has ruined many games.  For me, watching diving players, especially in Italy and Spain shows them to be cheats and I have no respect for them.
In addition to the players being idiots, this season there seems to be a greater number of referee decisions that are not just poor, but really stupidly wrong.  Take the "goal" for Chelsea at the weekend in the FA Cup semi-final.  It was nowhere near across the line, but the ref' awarded a goal. Stevie Wonder would have made a better decision.  The England "goal" in the World Cup that was 3 feet inside the goal and wasn't awarded! The odd off-side decision that is slightly wrong is almost acceptable, but missing goals is just not on. Technology is the answer and it's way overdue.
This is how close the goalkeeper got to Andy Carroll...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

First place... no prize

A couple of times a month I enter the Guardian Weekend photography competition.  I have come second twice and an online runner-up once but now I can announce that this weekend I won!
In the past, the winner would receive a fantastic camera as a prize, but now... I get nothing.  Oh well.
The topic was Geometric and I submitted this image:

And if you needed more proof - here's the magazine...

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Dreams of a life

A couple of months ago, I heard a brief mention on the radio about a documentary film that investigated the death of a woman in London.  Her body had lain in her bedsit for three years before being found.  I didn't note the film title and was pleased that Pete had read a review and put Dreams Of A Life on the Lovefilm list.
In cases like this where a person dies without anyone noticing, you can make many assumptions: perhaps she was a loner, she dropped out of society, had society let her down? Had her friends and family let her down?  Joyce Vincent was just 40 years old and her story is fascinating and a little harrowing.
It is mainly documentary with a little dramatisation and is extremely well made. It took journalists and the film maker years to track down friends and any information about Joyce as there was so little in her bedsit to give any clues to her life. In fact, you learn that Joyce had many friends, but shared only some of her life with them.
After watching the interviews and the drama for a while, you soon realise that your assumptions are wrong. This film shows how life can be complicated and people follow very different paths. I wont spoil it for you, so all I will say is that it's a very sad story but she was loved.
It's one of those films that makes you think and stays with you for days and I would certainly recommend this movie.

There is an excellent review of the film here.

Friday, 13 April 2012

15 Words with no English equivalent

1. Zhaghzhagh (Persian)
The chattering of teeth from the cold or from rage.

2. Yuputka (Ulwa)
A word made for walking in the woods at night, it’s the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.
3. Lampadato (Italian)
Addicted to the infra-red glow of tanning salons? This word describes you.
4. Luftmensch (Yiddish)
The Yiddish have scores of words to describe social misfits. This one is for an impractical dreamer with no business sense. Literally, air person.
5. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.
6. Cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish) 
A word that would aptly describe the prevailing fashion trend among American men under 40, it means one who wears the shirt tail outside of his trousers.
7. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian) 
“Hmm, now where did I leave those keys?” he said, pana po’oing. It means to scratch your head in order to help you remember something you’ve forgotten.
8. Gumusservi (Turkish) 
Meteorologists can be poets in Turkey with words like this at their disposal. It means moonlight shining on water.
9. Vybafnout (Czech) 
A word tailor-made for annoying older brothers—it means to jump out and say boo.
10. Mencolek (Indonesian) 
You know that old trick where you tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to fool them? The Indonesians have a word for it.
11. Faamiti (Samoan) 
To make a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or child.
12. Glas wen (Welsh) 
A smile that is insincere or mocking. Literally, a blue smile.
13. Bakku-shan (Japanese)
The experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.
14. Boketto (Japanese)
It’s nice to know that the Japanese think enough of the act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking to give it a name.
15. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Dear photograph

A while ago I randomly found a website called Dear Photograph.  You take an old photograph to the place it was originally taken and take a new photograph showing how the location has altered. You also add a little story about the people.
I tried my version yesterday when I went to watch Crystal Palace play football.  This image shows my late Grandmother and my brother (who is now 50) outside her flat in Thornton Heath, London.  She lived there for well over 50 years and loved the area.
She took great pride in her home and every Sunday would clean the brass step until you could see your reflection. That step hasn't been touched in 10 years. :-(

Sunday, 8 April 2012


On Good Friday Pete and I decided to go for a challenging cycle ride. It was challenging as we are quite fit enough for it. However, the route was perfect for people like us... the canal tow path.
I drove us to Stanstead St Margarets, a village not far from Ware in Hertfordshire (about 30 minutes from our house).  Then we set off, soon passing where we picked up the barge a few weeks ago.
The route south into London is really beautiful and after a few miles we stopped for a coffee at the Olympic white water canoeing park.  It's an impressive place, but far more compact than I thought it would be. The course was virtually empty of water when we arrived, but there were loads of people there getting ready to go down the manmade rapids in rafts.  The sirons went off and the water started flowing and flowing.  We watched for a while.
Back on track, we continued under the M25 and into London. We had lunch at Springfield Park and made it to the Olympic Park where the canal splits. We turned right and ended up at Limehouse, just opposite from where we used to live.
A slow ride along the Thames path to a tourist packed Tower Bridge and then to Liverpool Street station. You didn't think we were cycling all the way back did you?! In fact, we didn't get a train all the way back; we got off about 5 miles early and painfully cycled back to the car. My knees had given in by this point.
So we arrived back at the car and the GPS on the iPhone said we had cycled 50.43km.  It felt like it too!  It was a great day - starting out at 9am and arrived home at 6pm.

Friday, 6 April 2012

April movie update

Here are the films that Pete and I have received from and watched on TV and DVD over the past few months in reverse order, with my ratings out of ten from my movie list on the IMDB.

Hugo (2011) 8
A visually stunning film with a sweet story. The two young actors were superb – overall, great entertainment in a very stylised Paris in the 1930's.
Weekend (2011) 5
Meant to be a gay “crossover” film. Both Pete and I were not impressed, especially with one of the characters who was simply annoying and stereotypically gay.
50/50 (2011) 6
A comedy drama that cynically used cancer as the main theme. It would have been a far better film without the childish comedy.
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011) 7
Amazing animation and the story zipped along, though was a little silly. Some people said that they couldn't follow the story – I had no problem!
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002) 6
Strange movie about US gameshow king Chuck Barris. It didn't help that I had never heard of him.
The Four Seasons (1981) 5
Old movie about a group of friends. Nothing to see here.
Sordid Lives (2000) 2
Meant to be a classic gay film... it was truly awful. It felt like a student-made movie with some awful acting and crap story. Avoid.
My Week with Marilyn (2011) 6
Not as good as I had hoped. Not much happens, but the acting is fine.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (2011) 5
Some terrible acting but at least there were plenty of shirtless twinks. At least there is a story this time round as there last film seemed to lack any narrative!
Welcome to the Rileys (2010) 6
Tony Soprano makes some strange decisions to help a prostitute – seemed too far fetched to me.
The Ides of March (2011) 5
Political drama by George Clooney which seemed a bit up it's own ****. The UK equivalent would be a film about a bi-election in Sheffield South. Very very dull.
Midnight in Paris (2011) 5
Woody Allen disappoints me time after time. Yet again his characters are just walking cliches (yes, another author has personal problems, but this time in Paris). Silly time travelling story with really lazy script writing and perhaps one laugh. Like the past few films, it's begging to be a 30 minute comedy play with some co-writing help.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


The reason for the visit to Lille a couple of weekends back was to see Julien Clerc in concert.  The Zenith in Lille is a huge concrete convention and entertainment centre, so with about 6500 French people, Pete and I took our seats.  At one point, about a hundred went to stand at the front, so near the end I went up and took this photo.
The concert was unlike the other times I have seen him play live (twice in France and also once in London where it was him and 2 guys on stage) - he had an orchestra with him this time, so the sound was very impressive!
I first heard Julien on a trip to Holland in the late 1980's.  He is a songwriter that has been popular in Europe since the early 1970's and has a reputation for being a singer "for the ladies".  That's a bit unfair and although he can write some twee songs, he has certainly written some high quality music and is still making albums that top the French charts every few years.  It's difficult to think of a comparison from the UK - the closest is someone like Elton John; he writes his own material and remains popular after decades.
I could pick a dozen or more songs, but here's a nice ballad for you... and the video features Carla Bruni, a friend of his who has provided a few lyrics in the past.

Monday, 2 April 2012

A quick test for you...

We did this test last week in Edinburgh.  I will say nothing more than, please watch the video: 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A few pics from the week in Edinburgh

1. This is Brauhaus, a tiny bar with 500 different beers on offer!
2. Part of a role play we had to do, I was a client with an annoying bell to ring.
3. Before and after on some process work we did.
4. The university... plenty of posters.