Archive for July 2007

Mr. Whippy Saves The Day

Posted on Wednesday 25th July 2007 at 00:00
Rain is on the way.

I know this for a fact, not because I've looked at the weather forecast or had someone tell be, but because I sense it.

No, I don't have one of those dodgy knees that ache when the weather is taking a turn for the worse. Cool as that would be, I doubt such a thing is particularly tolerable in a country as wet as our, and at any rate, they aren't very reliable. All a dodgy knee indicates is a fall in pressure, and as those who've been flooded out of their homes this week will tell you, the pressure's been pretty low all summer.

My sense is far more accurate. Better than any weather forecast, it is guaranteed to tell you that it's going to rain. My sense is my ears, which even as I type this, are being subjected to the deafening screeches and clangs of approaching doom, and with it, the worst weather Britain has to offer.

That's right; I hear the soul destroying, ear drum shattering, cat strangling cry of an ice cream van jingle.

As those of you who live in the suburbs will know, it's a fact of life that when the weather is cold and/or wet, you cannot walk a hundred yards down the street without seeing the frightfully over optimistic ice cream man, sat in the back of his van, waiting patiently for customers. It is also a fact of life that when the weather is boiling hot, the flowers are wilting and you want nothing more than a nice cold ice cream to refresh you, there isn't a van to be seen for at least 200 miles.

What most people, with their busy lives and full time jobs, may not realise is just how accurate this phenomenon actually is. Having spent most of my time at home over the last few days, I can confidently report back to my readers that the ice cream men of north Fishponds are nothing less than a dedicated and hard working team of meteorologists, working round the clock to keep local residents informed of the fickle and sometimes volatile weather in this area.

Even with the current conditions, where it rains roughly every other hour from dawn til dusk, Mr. Whippy and Co. never miss a shower. I should therefore like to thank these individuals, without whom I should never manage to get my washing in on time, or remember my brolly when popping out to the shops.

Thank you.

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Answer Time – All The Rest

Posted on Tuesday 24th July 2007 at 00:00
A short break between doing whatever I was doing last and doing whatever I'll do next has left me just enough time to write a short little post to round off Answer Time. In this, the last of the series, we look at all the questions asked by people who aren't Sally.

That's right, both of them!

First off then we have Enidd, who said:
enidd would like to know more about your family and background... if that's not too nosy.

Not too nosey at all Enidd. My immediate family consists of my two parents, myself and my two brothers. My Mum is a head teacher in a primary school and my Dad is an engineer turned research and designer turned technical manager for a company that designs and manufactures pumps. They married in '79 and in 86, I came on the scene. Fortunately this had been well and truly planned by my parents, who had moved to their current house in Yateley in 1982. A year after me, Mike was born and the family was completed by Tim in 1990. We also had a black and white cat called Domino.

The house in Yateley was a reasonably sized newly built 3 bedroom place, which was finally extended to four bedrooms in 1998. A second bathroom was also added, as well as a utility room. Thanks to a massive screw up on the part of the planning department at the council, the plot of land behind our house that had been selected for putting another such dwelling on was deemed unsuitable for building due to a mains gas pipe running underneath the land. As a result we were able to acquire the land as garden, making ours one of the biggest in the area.

These days Mike is doing a degree in contemporary music and drumming in between his regular trips to the tattoo parlour. Tim prefers to spend his time playing football and playstation and generally being trendy. We are each very different. I'm the geeky academic one, Mike is the rebellious rocker and Tim is the fashion obsessed sporty one. Although these differences often lead to us pursuing different hobbies, we all get on very well, especially since we each got through our teenage phases.

For reasons that I don't really understand, I am the only member of the family to keep a blog.

Now onto Mr.X, who asked:
Mr.X would like to know about your favourite holiday destinations. And why, because he's greedy like that. If you feel like some filth, you could also add who you'd most like to come with you. In the travel sense, of course, not insinuating anything else, oh no.

I'm not sure whether this question is about holiday destinations I've been to or those to come. Since I already talked about places I'd like to go to, I'll talk about holiday destinations I've already tried. Each and every one of the holidays I've been on has been memorable for many reasons and choosing one over another isn't at all easy.

Kenya was definitely a firm favourite of mine. Hot sun, beautiful scenery, amazing animals. It is the furthest I've ever been from the UK, both in terms of miles and culture shock. I was very sorry to leave the country when my two weeks was up, and I'd definitely go back there.

Russia was also an incredible experience. I can't claim to have felt as at home there as Kenya, but that didn't seem to matter. The thing about Russia that makes it stand out isn't just the differences, but also the similarities with the world I know. As places go, there wasn't a lot of difference between much of, say Moscow and London, yet at the same time it was a totally different place. Would definitely go again given the chance.

As for who I'd take with, I don't know sadly. There is no one special in my life at the moment, so I don't have anything of a dirty nature to reveal. Sorry Mr.X :P

And so that is it. I'm off now to drive into work and return the plate I stole a week or two ago. Next time: What makes a room comfy?

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What Is “”Cosy”"?

Posted on Tuesday 24th July 2007 at 00:00
And so once again I find myself in Starbucks writing to you on my mobile. Does this make me a coffee obsessive? I imagine your views on this will depend on when I decide to post it. It is a mere three days since my last post from a coffee shop was written, but to avoid appearing weird I might postpone putting this one up until next week, when I'll be too busy to write new posts.

My mission today though is slightly different from the last time, as I don't really feel that I need to test the phone any further. Partially I am here to reward myself for trudging nearly 5 miles through the rain to get here, all in the name of fresh air and exercise (not to mention being unfit to drive after a night of heavy drinking) and partially because my last visit got me thinking. The lounge in Starbucks is extremely cosy. Despite being large and crowded and not overly warm, I find it a highly appealing place to spend a wet afternoon such as this, and I want to know why.

The reason for my interest, besides simple curiosity is my expected move to a new home in the near future. This new dwelling will be the first that I am to inhabit by myself, and, despite it being a rented property, I shall be largely responsible for its furnishing myself. The Starbucks lounge has much in common with my current lounge at home; aging furniture, stomach churning carpet, poor lighting, no TV etc, yet it is a comfortable place to be, where as the lounge at home is not.

Since my last visit I have, as I said, given this conundrum some thought. I'd often thought that cosy rooms are generally small, perhaps with a roaring fire in the grate and an insane number of hard back books stacked everywhere, like a master's study in a public school, or a rich man's library. The room in which I sit features none of these things, with the room itself being about as large as the ground floor of my whole house.

Could it be the squashy armchairs and sofas that make Starbucks so very enjoyable? Alas I doubt it. Although I don't have armchairs at home I do have a sofa and a couple of easy chairs, all of which are a treat for the most delicate of bottoms. Is it then the lack of an unwanted draft to chill you as you sit? Well my house is drafty, it can't be denied. From unnecessary air vents in the walls to doors that don't fill their frames, the building has more holes in it than the RMS Titanic. Housing stock built in the 60s has many qualities, but good insulation is not among them.

Is that so different from here though? The new Broadmead Development aside, not much in this part of town is newly built. The shopping centre that encompasses Starbucks was built shortly after the Germans did a very thorough job of removing virtually everything that was here before it. Right now I am sat by the window, trying to decide whether there is more cold air coming in from outside or from the air con system on the other side of the room. Either way, it could be a little warmer.

Might be the view I suppose. I can't be the only one who enjoys sitting around inside when it's raining out. Doubly so if there are people wandering about in the rain whilst I stay dry. In such a situation, even sitting on the bus, stuck in traffic can be strangely satisfying. And the harder it's raining, the better!

Ooo I know this song! The easy listening music is definitely a selling point. Loud enough to be heard without intruding, and just right for almost any mood you might be in. My new house will require a good stereo set up in the lounge, preferably connected to my PC, so as to facilitate easy access to all my music.

My only regret where Starbucks is concerned is that this is the nearest branch to my house, and it is 90 minutes brisk walk away. Even taking the car invokes city centre traffic and a heavy charge for the car park. Not exactly ideal for a quick coffee.

What do you think makes a place cosy? What have you done to your own homes to make them more pleasant places in which to live? All comments welcome.

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Answer Time – Questions 51-61 Of 61

Posted on Thursday 19th July 2007 at 00:00
And at last you join us for the last of Sally's Questions, the insanely long list of questions asked by Sally when I made the mistake of asking my readership to come up with questions to ask me. The answers to Questions 1-50 can be found here, here, here, here and here.

51. Bedtime?
I'm pretty sure this question could be better phrased. I think it is either asking 'What is your bedtime?? or else it could just be an offer of sex......I'm guessing it's the first one. I don't really have a bedtime. Mostly I tend to go to bed when I get too tired to do any more of the things that usually distract me from going to bed until the wee small hours of the morning. One of the benefits of being single I guess.

52. Last person you went to dinner with?
Eek. I have no idea. To be honest I can't remember the last time I went to dinner full stop. Such distinctions become fairly blurred when you do a job that involves eating two or three meals a day away from home. I know I went to dinner with my parents a few months back. Easter I think it may have been. Mostly when I eat out, I do so alone.

53. What are you listening to right now?
Genesis & Jesus He Knows Me. Very addictive song. Can never listen to it just once. Usually it has to be at least 20 times before I can move onto the next track. I can imagine my listening habits are a source of much annoyance to anyone in ear shot. Perhaps that is why H hasn't stayed here for over two months now.....

54. What is your favourite colour?
Green. There isn't anything particularly special about it, but it is the one. I chose it when I was a child as having a favourite colour seemed like an important thing to have, if only to make choosing pieces to move round board games a little easier. Really though I like all colours pretty much the same, and would be most upset if I were to accidentally misplace one of them.

55. Lake, Ocean or River?
What a choice! Oceans have a worse temper, rivers have more personality and lakes are more enigmatic. There really isn't anything to choose between them most of the time. The scenery along a river bank is far more varied than that of a lake, and from most parts of the ocean you can't see any scenery at all. That said, oceans have more for the adventurer, and lakes tend to house dark and ancient monsters in their murky depths. How does one choose?

56. How many tattoos do you have?
Hang on, I'll just count them.....I have....roughly.....none at all. Not only that but I don't currently have any plans to get any. I've often thought a prison number would be quite cool, but only if you've actually done time, otherwise you just look like a bit of a tit.

57. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
The egg. Dinosaurs laid eggs, and they were around a long time before the humble chicken. Mmmmmmm chicken.....

59. What is your favourite sound?
Who writes these questions? Did the monkey who came up with this one not have any friends or family? Not a single person who could have said 'I think you should stop. You've clearly run out of question ideas and this quiz is more than long enough as it is!?? This is a very sad state of affairs. I don't have an answer. Any sound can be pleasant when heard at the right time and any sound can be as annoying as hell when it wakes you up in the morning.

60. Who sent this to you and what is something you didn't know about them?
This really threw me for a minute, until I remembered it was from an email. In email form the sender would email the quiz with the answers already filled in for themselves. Since I've received a blank copy from Sally, I don't quite see how I can answer it. The thing I most recently learnt about Sally is that she has a cat that pees everywhere.

61. What materialistic thing would you ask for if you had one wish to make?
Enough money to buy anything else I could ever want. Only a complete idiot would ask for less. Though, I'd probably settle for a burger just now.....

Well, that at last is that. Now that Sally has well and truly finished stealing the limelight, I'll be taking the time to answer everyone else's questions in my next post, and after that, normal service shall be resumed.

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Answer Time – Questions 31-40 Of 61

Posted on Sunday 15th July 2007 at 00:00
Oh God, here we go again! That's right, it's part 4 of those really annoying questions that Sally gave me to answer. It has been a few days since Part 3, partly because I couldn't face the prospect of spending another hour of my life on this, and partly because I've been working a lot these last few days, and haven't been left with much time for anything else. Part 1 and Part 2 are a good way of killing ten minutes if you are bored.

31. What are your favourite childhood memories?
I guess like most kids, Christmas was always a favourite time for me when I was young. Presents in the morning, Christmas dinner at lunch and various movies in the afternoon. I think the time when I most appreciated it was in those few golden years when I was old enough to enjoy it, but not so old that I could no longer be surprised by the various decorations on the tree. I still love the day and everything it stands for & greed, gluttony, warm rain, deforestation, landfill etc & but in recent years I've sat on Christmas Eve night, wondering whether it has actually been a year since last Christmas, or whether it's been a week in disguise.

32. What are the different jobs you have had in your life?
Despite working for nearly 48 hours this week, I've never been very fond of work. Quite aside from the awful selection of brain killing tasks available to young people, I've simply never been able to think about the amount one gets paid for a hard day's work without concluding that it is basically slave labour. Why, if I would think twice about stooping to pick up a '5 note off the pavement, am I happy to bend over 20 times an hour for only a fraction more? For this reason I've not had a lot of jobs. When I was 15 I started my first job as a shelf stacker at Waitrose. Amazingly I lasted 10 months, despite being unable to disguise my firmly held beliefs that everyone I worked with was too stupid to actually speak to, never mind take instructions from. It didn't help that the wages were poor, the hours illegal and the possibility of getting time off almost totally nonexistent. I quit shortly after receiving my share of the annual bonus. For the next year I lived off my savings, before training as a life guard and seeking employment at the local pool. I wouldn't say I loved the routine of having to go to work there any more than I did at Waitrose, but the work was fun and I stayed right up until the pool was closed following a flood and vandalism. By the time the pool reopened I'd left for uni and never really thought about going back. I did work again as a life guard, for a couple of months the following summer, but that stopped when uni finished and I returned home for the holidays. That autumn I got a job as a student ambassador with my university, and was occasionally called upon to promote the place during open days and such like. It wasn't until a year later when, having bought a car, I found myself needing regular work again. This was the bar and waiter job that I am still doing today (I had to be in at 7 this morning, which on a Sunday is a very painful thing indeed). I first wrote about this job here.

33. What colour underwear are you wearing?
I have no idea why this question is in here, or why Sally wishes to know, but for the record: black. Moving swiftly on....

34. Nicknames:
I've somehow managed to avoid these for the most part over the years, but at the moment I am called 'Gober? by my housemates, as a result of stupid BT who managed to get my surname wrong on the phone bill, despite me spelling it out to them letter by letter when I set up the account. Incidentally, has anyone else noticed how if you want BT Broadband, you have to apply on the internet, but if you want a phone line installed, you have to ring them?

35. Piercing?
Not whilst I'm a man.

36. Eye colour?
Hazel. This caused me great pain in my French lessons at school, as I had to learn the French for 'sort of greeny brownish? as hazel wasn't in the textbook.

37. Ever been to Africa?
Indeed I have. Only time I've ever left Europe was on a two week trip to Kenya when I was 18. I spent a week teaching in a primary school about 40 clicks inland from Malindi, where I taught a couple of hundred kids how to make friendship bracelets. I'm willing to bet that if any of those kids are still alive, they are treasuring those bracelets right now. On the second week I went on Safari, which was heaps of fun & unlike being made to look at the photos I took, which have so far been responsible for the deaths of three people.

38. Ever been toilet papered?
I....have absolutely no idea what this question is asking me. I hope to God it's not suggesting that my face may have been used to wipe someone's bottom, but with this set of questions you can't be sure. The answer is no anyway.

39. Ever loved someone so much it made you cry?
Yes. I suspect my life would have been very meaningless if I hadn't cried over a woman from time to time. I'm not crying over any right now though, as there currently isn't anyone availableto fill that particular gap in my life. In this respect it feels very similar to being on the waiting list for an NHS dentist.

40. Ever been in a car accident?
Not a proper one no. I did accidentally roll forward into someone at a roundabout the other week because I was too busy looking for a gap from the right, but luckily there was no damage to either vehicle. When I renew my car insurance in a few days, I'll be very glad to state that I have my first whole year of no claims under my belt.

And so that is it for questions 31-40. Luckily though, you won't have to wait long for 41-50, since I've decided to plough on and write them right now, as I don't know if I'll ever be able to summon up the strength to write posts of this nature ever again.

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Answer Time – Questions 41-50 Of 61

Posted on Sunday 15th July 2007 at 00:00
And so, Part 5 of the questions given to me by Sally. In this part we work our way through Questions 41-50 of 61. After this I promise there will only be one more part before I look at everyone else's questions. Once that is done we can go back to normal service at last. Over the past week I've had a fair few ideas for posts, not to mention the half dozen or so drafts I've been waiting to post for a while now. Hopefully the blog will be a little more exciting for all of us when they go up! If you want Questions 1-40, they can be found here, here, here and here

41. Favourite restaurant?
Oh God, I don't know. Part of liking almost every food ever invented is a tendency to be at home in most eating establishments. Nandos is a favourite of mine just now, although I don't eat there very often. Last night I dined at The Wishing Well in Longwell Green. Nice food at average prices in a clean and friendly pub environment. Shame I was the only person dining alone really.

42. Favourite ice cream?
*Sigh* Another stupid favourites question. Quite liking the triple chocolate stuff that Tesco sell at the moment, so let's just stick with that, shall we?

43. Favourite flower?
Daffodil I guess. Not really being into flowers, I can't claim to know the names of many. I like this particular flower because it is usually the first sign of Spring. After a long winter, the sight of daffodils in all the front gardens I pass makes me very happy indeed.

44. Disney or Warner Brothers?
Would anyone be really offended if I gave my honest answer, which is that I really don't give a crap? Both companies are owned and run by a bunch of money grabbing toss pots, bent of squeezing as much cash out of Mr and Mrs Gullible Consumer as they possibly can. There is very little one can say about either that is in any way positive.

45. Favourite fast food restaurant?
McDonalds. Burger King just doesn't produce food that tastes good. They are the Pepsi of the fast food world. KFC are nice, but for some reason I always feel slightly disappointed after eating with them. Subway are pretty high up on the list actually, as they do real food, and now have at least 15 branches for every person in the world.*

46. What colour is your bedroom carpet?
A rather scabby shade of green unfortunately. It clashes with every single thing in the room, except the fire place, which for some reason has also been done in green. Hopefully the new carpet in my next place will be a little less stomach churning.

47. How many times did you take your driving test?
Four in total. I won't bore you with the details of how I failed each test, as it would make a very dull story and I don't want to drive you away (Oh look at me, I cracked a funny!) but let's just say I was extremely happy and more than a little relieved when I finally passed. That was a year ago next week as it happens.

48. From whom did you get your last Email?
Someone calling themselves Cornelia Parham, offering to show me dirty pictures of herself and maybe engage in some "webcam fun". I didn't reply. Before that was one from "Doctor Dictionary", telling me that today's Word of the Day is providential. I've not been able to bring myself to open that one yet.

49. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
I don't have a credit card, but if I did I'd probably have to use it in Ikea to buy myself some furniture all of my very own. Failing that, I reckon I could quite easily blow a couple of grand in PC World most days of the week.

50. What do you most often do when you are bored?
Usually I resort to reading blogs that are far more interesting than this one. Failing that, I find a little bit of searching can find you pretty much any TV show you like on YouTube and similar. Many hours of my life have been spent catching up with episodes past and present for shows I love. Personally I'm just glad to have passed the question about my favourite TV show before making this revelation.

And so we at last find ourselves on the final corner, coming onto the last stretch of the track: Questions 50-61. Originally I'd planned to write those now as well, but two hours straight of these questions so far today has all but killed me. They can wait a little while longer I'm sure.

*Not even slightly true.

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Answer Time – Questions 11-20 of 61

Posted on Wednesday 11th July 2007 at 00:00
This is the second exciting set of questions given to me by Sally to answer about myself. Today we answer nothing from 'What did you say to John Prescott whilst throwing that egg to make him punch you?? to 'What would you do if you woke up to discover your favourite pair of shoes had accidentally been launched into outer space?? Yesterday's questions and answers can be found here.

11. What kind of car do you drive?
A MK VI Ford Fiesta. I bought it from my driving instructor when I passed my test a year ago, and have never looked back since. I wrote about her a little while ago and am recently delighted to discover that my car insurance is going to cost me about '200 less this year than it did last, despite switching from Third party, Fire and Theft to Fully Comp.

12. Favourite sandwich?
I unreservedly hate all questions asking me to pick favourites. They are universally crap and I can't answer them. In the interests of simplicity I'm going to go with the cheese steak I so often resort to buying in Subway.

13. What characteristics do you despise?
The problem with this question is that I'm in danger of not being able to think of any characteristics that I don't possess myself. Two-facedness is a pretty unpleasant attribute, but then I'm not exactly known for holding my tongue when given the opportunity to bitch about people behind their backs. Laziness also winds me up no end, but that is quite possibly because I see a reflection of myself in those not able to get off their backsides very often. I think I'll have to settle for environmentalists and those people who collect for charities. In fact both groups can be lumped together under the general heading of 'Anyone Who Believes Themselves to Be Doing Something Good and Are Unable to Keep from Rubbing It in Our Faces at Every Opportunity.? This group naturally includes nutritionists, people who exercise and anyone else who tries to convince me to change my life style to fit in with their ideologies. Yes, that's right, I'm looking at YOU Vegetarians!

14. Favourite item of clothing?
The pair of jeans I am wearing right now. They are a stylish dark blue, fit reasonably well and are most comfortable for wearing in virtually all weathers. Plus, they have proved themselves to be very photogenic, which I consider most important on holidays and days out.

15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
I'm very tempted by New York City just now. I know people who've gone and they all say it's marvellous. It seems most silly that I've never been to America, and even more so that I've not visited New York, since it is the only part of the country that seems appealing on the world holidaying stage.

16. What colour is your bathroom?
Mostly white with black and white squares on the floor. It may be plain, but I find it rather tasteful, and after some of the bathrooms I've had to use in past years, it is truly a joy. That said, you do have to keep it clean as dirt shows up very easily. Especially hairs in the bath!

17. Favourite brand of clothing?
I'm not big on brand clothing as such, but I do buy a lot of my clothes from River Island, M&S, Burtons and H&M. Not that I wish to advertise any brand names on this site of course. Coz I'm the BBC. Well, I'm not of course. But I don't advertise either. See?

18. Mountains or beach?
On the whole, I'd go with beach. Not that I'm unadventurous or anything. Mountains sound fun, but less people die on the beach I think. Also I'm too unfit to go up hill as well as down.

19. Day or night?
Both. I'm equally happy in daylight and darkness. They are both beautiful in different ways and I'd never swap one for the other.

20. Where were you born?
Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. I believe one of the lesser royals popped out a sprog there as well recently. I wonder if it was the same bed?

So, that's questions 11-20. Next time we'll get our teeth stuck into 21-30. I bet you can't wait!

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Answer Time – Questions 21-30 of 61

Posted on Wednesday 11th July 2007 at 00:00
Good evening. Tonight we descend once more into the world of deeply probing questions about me that Sally felt the world needed answers to. Questions 21-30 sadly do not hold my sex life up to the public microscope, nor do they examine my inner workings with a Freudian fascination, reaching such conclusions as 'Iggy had a troubled relationship with his father' and 'By revving noisily at traffic lights, he hopes to communicate an important message about the size of his manhood to attractive women on the pavement.? They are however good fun, in a 'It's 1998 and we've just discovered a new and pointless use for email? kind of way. Questions 1-20 can be found here and here.

21. Favourite Sports to watch?
I have to admit here and now that I'm not big on sports, either to watch or participate in. At school I wasn't the kid everyone wanted on their team first. There was no 'We want Iggy!? 'No, we saw him first!? 'Not fair, he's the best!? about it. Actually it usually went more like this: 'You have Iggy.? 'No, we had him last time, you take him!? 'But we've already got three looser kids and you've only got one!? 'I'll take all three of them if you have Iggy.? 'No way, we'll still loose, even if we have all the best players and you have all the worst!? 'Man Iggy, you suck! Can't you just break your leg or something so we don't have to include you?? 'I'll break it for him!? 'And me, let's all help!? That said, I'm rather fond of motor sport, especially F1. I went to the British Grand Prix a few years back and it was excellent. Sadly I never seem to have time to watch much of the stuff these days.

22. Who do you least expect to send this back?
Sally said the questionnaire was only slightly adapted for blogs. Clearly it wasn't adapted enough, as this is a definite email question. To answer it though: everyone, as I'm not actually sending it out to anyone. Of course, if you wish to fill in a copy yourself for your own blog, please do. Just don't ask me to waste five minutes of my life reading it.

23. Person who will respond first?
Again an email question, but if we say 'comment? instead of 'respond', I'm going to say Sally, since she is the only person to have commented on my last two sets of questions so far. Mind you, she doesn't seem to check back here every day, so I guess it could be anyone. Go on, surprise me!

24. What washing powder do you use?
I don't know. Sad as it may be, I just don't retain that sort of information in my head and will therefore have to go and look... Apparently I use something called 'Bold 2 in 1', whatever that is. It seems to do the job, but I'm not advertising it, as I'm pretending to be the BBC.

25. Are you a morning person or night owl?
Night owl definitely. I'm pretty sure all the morning people are in bed now, where as I will probably be up for a few hours yet. Mind you, I don't have to be in work until midday tomorrow, so if I were to magically transform into someone who doesn't feel totally shit in the AM, I could get quite a lot done before I go in. As it is I will probably sleep until 11 and then stagger around like a crazy person looking for socks before I finally set off without having had any breakfast.

26. What size shoe do you wear?
Shoe sizes are well known for being the second least exact science in the known universe, coming in just behind ladies dress sizes, so naturally it isn't the same everywhere you go, but on the whole I seem to be an 11. The only exception I can think of in my current shoe line up are the big, heavy, steel-toe-cap safety boots I wear for work, which ring in at a puny size 10.

27. Favourite animal?
Ugh, what a frightfully girly question! I like many animals, but my favourite are undoubtedly human beings. They are (usually) incredibly clever, possessing advanced problem solving abilities, and remain the only member of the animal kingdom to have fully realised the potential of tools. By using a variety of tools, both natural and artificially manufactured, these fascinating creatures have mastered their ability to transform the world around them, excelling in many of the sciences, as well as the arts and religion. They have created a number of complex languages with which to communicate and share the knowledge they display a strong desire to acquire. Most of all they have demonstrated a capacity to adapt and evolve quickly to a rapidly changing environment, colonising every major land mass on Earth and even venturing off the surface of the planet in vehicles they have fashioned over a short period of history from the rudimentary materials to be found in their natural habitat. Well worth studying if you ask me ;)

28. Any news you'd like to share with everyone?
This morning I attempted to dry some clothes for work by ironing them, only to discover that I'd unplugged the iron a few minutes before, having finished my shirt. That's about as exciting as it gets here I'm afraid. Oh, I signed up for Twitter last night. Anyone who wants to receive texts and IMs about what I'm doing every few hours can find me here.

29. What did you want to be when you were little?
King of the entire world. Yes, ambitious wasn't I? By contrast my brothers wanted to be a fire fighter and a dustbin man respectively. I think I may have been quite disappointed when I found out that you couldn't just become a king. Shortly afterwards I discovered that all good jobs had to be worked for, and that was the point when the ambitious part of me died once and for all. Now I'm a failing student and occasionally get paid to scrub pots and pans, so really you could say things have gone downhill for me since I was a kid.

30. Favourite candy bar?
Ugh, candy bar. What a dreadfully American expression! My favourite chocolate bar at the moment is a Mars (no advertising intended) as they are just supremely lush whenever I have one.

Phew, that was a fair old slog wasn't it? Hopefully though we'll all have recovered by tomorrow though, as we celebrate coming over Half-way Hill with a quick run through questions 31-40. Assuming I've not driven away all my readers by then of course.....

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Answer Time – Questions 1-10 of 61

Posted on Monday 9th July 2007 at 00:00
Here we go with the first of my posts answering questions put to me by my readers in my last post. I received so many questions from Sally that I've decided to break them into six parts to make answering them less painful for me and reading my answers less painful for you.

1. What time did you get up this morning?
10am. For the first time in about ever I didn't have anything to do this morning, and it being a Sunday I decided a lie in was well and truly deserved. Every day so far this week has involved getting up at between 6am and 8am; a part of the day best enjoyed whilst unconscious I believe.

2. Diamonds or Pearls?
Diamonds every time. I know fancy jewellery has become a bit too 'bling? to be nice recently, I'm pretty sure diamonds are expensive enough to always look good. Plus, I reckon you can get more for them on Ebay than for pearls.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Shrek the Third a week ago. Overall not a bad film, although I don't think it was nearly as funny as the previous two. I guess the more times a format is used, the weaker it becomes. Still, I expect most kids out there will think it is the best thing out this summer, so don't be put off seeing it just coz of me :)

4. What is your favourite TV show?
Good question. At the moment it is pretty much a tie between Doctor Who and House MD, although both have finished their current runs now, so who knows what will become my new obsession over the summer?

5. What did you have for breakfast?
A bowel of Kellogg's Crunchy Nut with Nuts. Sounds rather odd, and not being a huge nut fan I was a little sceptical, but it really is delicious. Very moreish ;)

6. What is your middle name?
Richard. I'm rather fond of it actually. A surprisingly good choice by my parents, given the dreadful middle names that so many people end up with.

7. What is your favourite cuisine?
I have absolutely no idea. I honestly don't. I am in the unusual position of liking almost everything I've ever tried. Gammon is a firm favourite of mine, as is almost any roast, sea food dish, pasta, cheese, sweet, sandwich or starter. Cooking for me is an easy task, provided you are used to cooking large quantities.

8. What foods do you dislike?
I never used to be a fan of peanut butter as a kid, but in recent years it has grown on me. Pretty sure I don't like Marmite still, but it has been a while, so who knows? Otherwise I can't think of anything really.

9. Your favourite Potato chip?
Potato is one of my terrible vices. Those little carbohydrates have been responsible for a 4 stone increase in my weight over recent years. Tonight I had roast potatoes. A couple of nights back it was mash. In between I've had chips at least three times, possibly more. As I've mentioned before, I'm more than a little partial to spiral fries, but jackets, news, or any other type you can think of are pretty good by me.

10. What CD is in your car stereo at the moment?
At the moment I have a compilation CD on repeat containing various tracks by the Kinks and Ray Davies. I was given the CD as a birthday present last year by a friend who'd bought me tickets to a Ray Davies gig. Sadly, the gig was cancelled about a week before I was due to go, but I still love to listen to the CD all the same. Right now I'm listening to Bon Jovi's Crossroad album in Windows Media Player.

So, there you have questions 1-10. 11-20 will be here at about this time next week tomorrow. See you then.

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Question Time

Posted on Monday 2nd July 2007 at 00:00
Here's an idea: since I am a tad short of blogging ideas just now, I'm going to give you, my dear readership, the opportunity to dictate the direction that my next blog post will take.

This is how it works. Each of you has the opportunity to ask me a question. It can be anything you like. In fact, just to keep things going, you can ask me as many questions as you want answers to. Preferably questions about me of course. I don't really know a great deal about anything else.

Anyway, you ask some questions in the comment section now, and I'll endeavour to answer as many of them as I can in my next post. It'll be interesting to see what everybody comes up with...

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Smoking Ban

Posted on Sunday 1st July 2007 at 00:00
I write this the day after a third terrorist attack in Britain this week. Fortunately there has been no loss of life and only very minor damage so far, but nonetheless the Nation's terror alert status has been upped to Critical, and our new PM has asked us all to remain vigilant in case of future attempted attacks.

Today Gordon Brown confirmed that the authorities believe the attacks to have come from Al-Qaeda, in their latest attempt to wage war on the West. But I have my own theories about that. It seems to me that if this were the work of regular terrorists, they'd have chosen slightly more significant dates on which to carry out their attacks.

After all, if this spate of violence was in response to Gordon Brown coming to power, surely the attacks would have been on the day that he came to power, ie the 27th June, not the 29th. You can't tell me that the terrorists were caught by surprise at the change of leader and needed a day or two to prepare. If so they must have been the only ones caught out, as the rest of us heard the announcement weeks ago.

The other suggestion has been that it is a response to the second anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings. But, call me a bit funny in the head if you will, when you decide to celebrate an anniversary, don't you usually do so on the correct day? As far as I know, the only people who don't follow this time honoured tradition are the sorts of men who forget their own wedding anniversaries. Is it possible that the terrorists are simply a collection of bad husbands?

Well, perhaps, but I have a better idea. The attacks in London and Glasgow have nothing to do with either Brown or 7/7. They are actually a form of political commentary on the other great event taking place this weekend. That's right, the smoking ban. All this time MI5 and the police have been profiling Islamic extremists and have completely forgotten about that other group of angry people willing to break the law or even kill people to satisfy their obsessions.

Really it has been staring us all in the face. Smokers are angry people. Not only have they been driven out of every bar, club, restaurant, office block and other place of work, but on the very day they are told to 'take it outside', it is pissing it down with rain. If I was a crazed psychopath, bent on destroying myself and everyone around me whilst irritated beyond all belief by the cold turkey symptoms of suddenly being starved of nicotine for the first time since I was 5 years old, I'd be pretty well ready to go to extreme lengths to satisfy my addiction.

Already the BBC is reporting that some pubs are defying the new laws. I can't help but wonder; if they are prepared to go to such extreme measures as lighting up when they shouldn't, who's to say they wouldn't take the next logical step and try and blow people up. And so to the terror attacks. The two car bombs that were discovered in London, full of petrol and gas cylinders and nails, whilst incredibly alarming, were not designed to go off. Instead they were merely commenting on the dangers faced by smokers who have to resort now to smoking in their cars.

As for the burning jeep that smashed into the terminal building at Glasgow airport, what could be more obvious than the message they were trying to convey with their Molotov Cocktails? ?We want to light up!?

For all you or I know, they probably aimed their vehicle and the No Smoking sign on the terminal door.

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