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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

OH ... MY ... GOD ...

When I went to bed last night, my quiz had been taken 29 times, roughly 28 of which were me testing it to make sure it worked. I then released it into the wild and went to bed.

This morning I get up, check my quiz-owner statistics, and find that overnight my quiz has been taken...

318 TIMES!!!!!!!!!!!

Bloody hell. I think I have a hit on my hands.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Okay kids, IT'S FINISHED!! Hurrah! I'd like to thank you all for your unrelenting support during the entire quiz-making process. I set myself a tough schedule, and progress was difficult at the best of times, but throughout these past two painful weeks of stress, I was helped enormously by people saying "for god's sake, haven't you finished it yet?". So thanks for that.

I feel the result is possibly my greatest achievement to date. It's all very well to write plays tackling subjects like the diminishing effect of the news media and its relation to the meaning of life, but it's not until you've produced a couple of questions about fat pot-holers and aardvark poison, that you can really consider yourself a serious writer. I feel this could be a turning point in my career.

So to view the fruits of my considerable labour, CLICK HERE. Or alternatively, visit my shiny new Quizzes page here. It's a triumph. No, reallly, it is.

Monday, March 29, 2004

I realise there are those who are somewhat concerned that it seems to be taking me longer to write a Poddington Peas quiz than it took me to write my play Ledgers, but in my defence, I've been very busy the past couple of weeks raising money for sick animals. Admittedly, I didn't know they were sick when I backed them, but Cheltenham's only once a year, so I can't be expected to ignore it. I had to go into Ipswich this afternoon too. And I'm thinking of growing my hair, so I have to look in the mirror quite a lot, which takes a big chunk out of my daily schedule.

And besides, I may have produced Ledgers in 15 days, but I basically wrote it by cobbling together quotes from Marie's e-mails, so it didn't take a lot of work. 'Which Poddington Pea Are You?' on the other hand is entirely my own work, and involves extensive research and psychological evaluation of various personality traits. Not to mention questions about death and Maltesers.

But I selflessly drove past The Cheesecake Shop in Ipswich today without stopping, in an effort to get home early for some pea-related activities, so the quiz should be finished by tomorrow.

But don't hold me to that.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Lines I Wish I'd Written, #479a:

"I must have a bug in my romance software."

~ Will & Grace, Series 1, Episode 8.

Obviously the fact that I'm alone on a Saturday night watching old Will & Grace videos has NOTHING to do with the resonance of that particular line.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I'm always on the lookout for ways to meet new people, and now I've found one, courtesy of this week's local paper. Yes, it's true, Suffolk County Council are looking for people to train as Master Composters.

Yes, I want to be a Master Composter!

The advert poses the rhetorical question "Are you interested in composting?", before going on to inform us that "becoming a Master Composter is a great way to meet new people". It's a brilliant marketing strategy, because let's face it, if you answered 'yes' to the first question, you're almost certainly someone who could do with getting out and meeting some new people.

I think I'll apply.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Obviously I'm not one to kiss and tell (well, I'm definitely not one to kiss - history has taught us that), but I feel I should make a passing reference here to my day out in London yesterday. I have to tread carefully, because certain persons who might claim to have been there too (Lisa) are liable to be up in arms the moment I stray more than an inch from the truth. There's just no pleasing some people. You can't even lie about yourself online any more.

Anyhoo, the most important lesson of the day was that monkeys are uncontrollably attracted to either blondes or men with beards. Blonde men with beards presumeably send them into a frenzy. Sadly, as a clean-shaven guy, and a reddish (not radish) brown haired girl, we saw no simian action of any kind. If London Zoo were half the zoo I thought they were, they'd be selling blonde wigs and fake beards in the gift shop, but alas no.

Still, the walk through Regents Park was lovely, particularly when my companion wondered aloud how many murders have taken place there. It was a special moment. Personally I was more concerned with the number of deaths from hypothermia, as the decision to go with my rather fetching Next moleskin jacket was looking like a victory for style over practicality. But I would've looked fantastic as the paramedics treated my frostbite, I'm sure. That's if the Regents Park murderers didn't get to me first.

Still, we dashed around London Zoo in two hours flat, stopping only to send out a raft of text messages confirming that I'm not, after all, a violent psychopath (clearly a hasty decision - you need to get to know me first before making judgements like that). Then a quick jaunt back across the frozen murdering wasteland, and onwards to the London Eye. I confidently led the way from Waterloo station with the words "Um... er, hang on.... um... let's try this way". Fortunately I'm observant enough to eventually spot a 450ft high structure from a distance of about 200 yards. What can I say, it's a gift.

But the London skyline at dusk is remarkably pretty, and being a Laaaandoner at heart, I was able to realise after about 20 minutes that the big white palace-like building I'd been looking at, was in fact Buckingham Palace and not Selfridges.

Other highlights of the day included...

~ The spiral staircase at Ask (a restaurant which we chose after extensive research and evaluation of all the eating establishments near Victoria station) (well ok, we saw it, said "that'll do", and walked in). Having climbed to the top of the stairs in search of toilet heaven, I was very tempted to slide back down the spirally bannisters like a helter skelter, but I decided it might not make the right impression, and I didn't want to risk having to poke aardvarks alone that afternoon. (As it transpired, London Zoo was an aardvark-free zone. I may have to make a formal complaint).

~ An amphibian which a certain someone (and it wasn't me) likened to Cliff Richard. Not to mention the monkey which looked like Princess Diana.

~ Eating pizza whilst hearing about a man who dropped dead from a heart attack on his driving test.

~ Having someone quote back to me a line from my last play. Friends take note - this is the kind of dedication I require. Not only do you have to read my plays, but if I so much as mention the concept of going home to write my C.V., you have to jump straight in with the next line from 'Be Worth It'. I was quite impressed. Definitely an 'A' for effort there.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Having received a glorious total of 17 votes on, and an overall approval rating of 87%, I'm now officially ranked 51st out of 22,489 listed blogs. Which means either I'm amongst the top 0.2% of world bloggers, or the BlogHop voting system is fundamentally flawed. Personally I'm leaning towards the latter. But just think how much higher I'd be if Lisa certain people hadn't insisted on clicking orange.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

I may not have finished writing my Poddington Peas quiz yet (great art takes time), but I have had another win on the horses, and more importantly I've developed a heavy rock version of the Senators song 'Best Friend'. It compliments my metal version of 'The Little Things' very well.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Day three, and a final day profit of £10. I really should turn professional. With earnings like this, I could be living on the beach in St Tropez. Or possibly Felixstowe. And all this despite the aptly named Trouble at Bay, who, having been my best buddy all year, winning his last five races in a row, chose today to let me down big time in the first.

Still, confidently resisting the temptation to back Baracouda, I chose to buy money instead when I found you could get odds of 1-3 on Best Mate placing in the first three. You have to wonder who these people are. Best Mate could stop for a cup of tea halfway round and still get third. It was money for sale. I must have been the only punter in Britain not panicking all the way up the home straight.

Making my way back via St Pirran, and a bit of Impek to place, it wasn't a bad week really. Much more of this, and I'll be able to buy an alpaca.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

That's more like it. Day two of the Cheltenham Festival and a nice £27 profit. No lethargic hippos today (Moscow Flyer was my big winner last year, so I knew better than to push my luck by backing him at even money this time around - a dying swan impression was virtually guaranteed), but it has to be said, I DESERVED to make a £117 profit today. No, really.

Two weeks ago I put £6 on my baby, Rhinestone Cowboy, to win the Coral Cup at odds of 14-1. By the off today, he was all the way down to 5-1, proving me to be the shrewdest punter this country has ever seen. Well, the shrewdest punter willing to risk a whopping £6. That £84 profit was rightfully mine. He finished a gallant third out of 27 runners. Close but no cigar.

Still, let's all go out on a high by backing Best Mate to fall at the first tomorrow, and First Gold to romp home at 20-1. Hurrah!

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Another Cheltenham Festival, another step towards bankruptcy. And it all started so well. I backed Brave Inca this morning at great odds, whereupon the rest of the world followed my lead, and his price had halved by the off. So when he romped home in the opener, I knew I was at the beginning of a lengthy winning streak. A winning streak which lasted all the way to the start of the second race.

Thisthatandtother is undoubtedly the finest jumper of a fence we've seen all season, so having made him my banker of the week, and passport to untold riches, I was naturally delighted to see him plough through the first fence like a lethargic hippo, and then roll around on the floor the other side of the second. Because as they say, the one thing you're guaranteed with Thisthatandtother is a good run for your money. At least as far as the second fence.

Still, I clawed my way back into things with Rooster Booster, who's got into the habit of losing narrowly this season, meaning I was the only person in Britain who'd resisted the temptation to back him on the nose. Odds of 1-2 to place was a complete steal. Especially when, predictably enough, he finished second.

So by the final race I was back to breaking even. Meaning my last choice was running for an all or nothing chance at a glorious first day profit. Which would indeed be a first for me at Cheltenham. The race finished 90 minutes ago. Unfortunately I think my horse is still running.

Monday, March 15, 2004

They do say "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em". Although they also say "many a mickle makes a muckle", and I've never understood what the heck that means. But going back to the first of those statements, I've decided that if I'm gullible enough to sit here on a Saturday night taking pointless online quizzes, then frankly anyone is.

Or maybe it really is just me..?

Well either way, work is going ahead on my new 'Which Poddington Pea Are You?" quiz. It should take the world of pointless online quizzes by storm. I can see awards in the pipeline for this baby. And who knows, maybe a new career. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Obviously I'm completely secure in my own heterosexuality, but I'm alone on a Saturday night, so for reasons I'm not sure I can fully explain, I've just taken a quiz entitled Which Male Celebrity Are You Going to Marry? So I'm very pleased to announce the following engagement:

"You are going to marry Orlando Bloom. He will always treat you right and is very romantic. He will do anything for you. He is very polite and has deep brown eyes and is very good looking (which is another plus!). He can make anything cheesy look really hot (like sliding down stairs on a shield shooting arrows or wearing pointy ears for example). Congrats!!"

I'm actually quite excited. A new shower and I'm going to marry Orlando Bloom. Presumeably in San Francisco, but who knows.
I have a new shower! Hurrah! It's virtually identical to my old one which died suddenly (and tragically) on Thursday morning, but this one's brand new, so it's actually quite exciting. Or possibly I just have a dull life.

Whilst waiting for my landlord to fit it, I cunningly avoided the trap of having to make him a cup of tea, by pretending to be busy working at my computer. In reality I was sitting transfixed by an online clock which really shouldn't be very interesting, but in fact is. I realise I'm technically just watching time pass here, but I still find it difficult to tear myself away.

Friday, March 12, 2004

According to the chef Nico Ladenis, some other top chefs are going out of their way to be innovative just for the sake of it, not to create good food, but merely to win awards for originality.

Obviously this isn't true, and to prove it, Heston Blumenthal, head chef of 'The Fat Duck' (not a good subject for a Spoonerism) has published a new recipe for us all to enjoy. He says...

"This recipe might sound revolting, but it's just a question of perception. We associate the title 'ice cream' with desserts, and this alone creates a barrier to enjoyment. Serve it as a starter and think of it as a frozen soup/pate."

So put down the potato waffles and tomato ketchup, and egg whisks at the ready everyone...

Sardines on Toast Ice Cream

3 egg yolks
25g unrefined caster sugar
315ml milk
150g tinned sardines in oil
75g toast, buttered with 30g butter

1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until whitened - about 10 minutes. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat. Pour the hot milk over the eggs and continue to mix, then tip back into the pan and cook over a low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. It is vital that the mix never boils or even simmers, otherwise it will coagulate. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens - this can take up to 20 minutes.

2. Have ready a bowl large enough to hold all the custard mix; sit it in cold water or on ice. When the custard is ready, pour into the chilled bowl and continue stirring until the mixture begins to cool. Once cool, liquidise with the sardines and toast, then pass through a fine sieve and churn in an ice cream maker.

3. Serve with melba toast to provide a pleasant textural contrast, and a little tomato to provide some acidity. A sprinkling of salt crystals and ground black pepper finishes off the dish nicely.

Mmmmmm-mmmmm! Certainly gets those taste buds tingling doesn't it. I'm off to liquidise some fish.
Could I just ask that people try to resist the obvious temptation to rate my blog by merely choosing their favourite colour from the list above? This is a serious scientific study, aimed at finding out the views and opinions of my visitors, in an effort to tailor my output to their needs. It is not an attempt to find out how many people prefer red to yellow.

So let's have no more of this shameless orange clicking. It's just not good enough, and I won't stand for it.

Although if your favourite colour is green, forget I said anything.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

As you may (or may not, depending on your general ability to spot the bleeding obvious) notice, I've slightly revamped the top of this page. Ignoring my cutting edge use of italics and wavy hypheny things (I've no idea what they're called, but I just KNOW someone will take great pleasure in telling me), the biggest change is that I've joined the 22,000 other blogsites listed on the highly amusing (Slogan: "Don't laugh. Your daughter could be in this website.")

What this means for YOU, my dear friends/stalkers, is that you are now able to get your own back for all those times you may feel I've wronged you in the past, by brutally rating this blog on a 5 point scale from fab to crap. Or good to bad, if you prefer.

Personally I'm not the kind of person who's made a lot of enemies (I'd never call someone fat, old, or ginger for example) so I'm happy to hold my website up to public scrutiny in this way. To vote, just click on the little coloured dot of your choice. You'll naturally want to head towards the green smiley end. Anything to the right of yellow is strictly off limits. I mean, you COULD click on the red frowny face, but remember, I know where you live, and my revenge will be terrible.

But no pressure, it's a free vote.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I've just noticed that on the tube of toothpaste I brought back from America, it says "If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, contact a Poison Control Center right away."

How lovely, I'm brushing my teeth with poison. No wonder I feel a bit peaky.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I don't want to get misty-eyed here, but I've just heard that Jair du Cochet, the only horse with a realistic chance of beating Best Mate in the Gold Cup next week, broke his leg in training this morning and has had to be put down. Speaking as someone who disrupted a family Christmas by insisting on stopping proceedings just so that I could watch Jair du Cochet in the King George on Boxing Day afternoon, I'm actually quite sad about this.
I think I've finally pushed my luck too far with the 'Writer Online' competitions. I've entered two of their regular contests in the past six months, and won both, so when I decided to enter a third last week - The Non-Polysyllabic Short Story Contest - I did wonder how far I could push their generosity before I was officially banned from winning. After all, I haven't even received my cheque for the last contest yet, so it's asking a bit much to expect them to send me another one.

Anyhoo, the results are out this morning, and they've given me a diplomatic third. Of course, that could simply be because there were two entries superior to mine. But having just finished wiping the schmaltz from my computer screen with a damp cloth after reading the winner, I'm not so sure.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

I've had my website analysed by The Gematriculator. No really, I have. To quote their blurb:

"The Gematriculator is a service that uses the infallible methods of Gematria developed by Mr. Ivan Panin to determine how good or evil a web site or a text passage is."

Oh yes, not only is it infallible, but it was developed specifically to detect evil websites.

"Basically, Gematria is searching for different patterns through the text, such as the amount of words beginning with a vowel. If the amount of these matches is divisible by a certain number, such as 7 (which is said to be God's number), there is an incontestable argument that the Spirit of God is ever present in the text. Another important aspect in gematria are the numerical values of letters: A=1, B=2 ... I=9, J=10, K=20 and so on. The Gematriculator uses the Finnish alphabet, in which Y is
a vowel."

I think we're all more inclined to use the Finnish alphabet if at all possible, aren't we? Anyhoo, the Gematriculator has spoken, and here are its findings...

This site is certified 71% GOOD by the Gematriculator

Fantastic. My writing is less than one third evil. And what's more, the phrase "the hen is meatier than the swordfish", which appears nowhere else on the world wide web (due to the fact that I'm the only person warped enough to come up with it), achieves a rating of 99% good! Yes people, my personal catchphrase is bordering on the holy.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Howard Johnson has announced that Inglis Drever will almost certainly go for the Royal & Sun Alliance Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham on 17th March, rather than taking his chance in the Champion Hurdle.

Oh, by the way, I'm talking horse racing here. Ok? Kewl.

Anyhoo, the fact that it's still two weeks away doesn't bother me, (mainly because if he loses, I'll just delete this post), so I'm happy to announce his certain victory here. You can currently get odds of 3-1, so go ahead and fill yer boots, as I believe they say in certain downmarket betting establishments.
I went to the Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich last night to see "Neville's Island", a play written by Tim Firth when he was 28. Or so I thought. A newspaper cutting on the wall in the foyer claimed he was actually only 26 when he started writing it. Which I hope isn't true, otherwise I may have to kill him. I felt better a few minutes later though, when the girl entering the auditorium in front of me said to the usherette "Do you know who wrote this play?". I was mentally chuckling about the fact that someone would pay fifteen quid to go and see a play without knowing who wrote it, when the usherette almost made me choke on my polo mint by replying "I've absolutely no idea". So there you go. You can be one of the country's top playwrights and TV writers, and have scripted an internationally acclaimed movie, but even people working in a theatre surrounded by huge posters bearing your name in big orange letters haven't got a clue who you are. That's what happens when you don't have your own website.

Anyhoo, the play was mostly very good. The set was without doubt the finest I've ever seen. They'd chopped down half of Rendlesham Forest to create it, and the actors arrived on stage by swimming in from the wings. It was very impressive.

Much like 'Art', a play which proved to me that you don't have to write a single funny line in order to get an audience laughing, I was encouraged by the fact that a theatre full of middle aged couples will seemingly laugh at anything. Particularly an amusing facial expression. I really should write a few more of those into my plays. Less encouraging was the fact that some of the genuinely clever and witty lines seemed to be entirely missed by 99% of the audience, who were too busy waiting for the next pratfall.

But the play itself was well written, dashing my hopes that perhaps I'd have my ego boosted by finding that Tim Firth was churning out rubbish at my age. Sadly it wasn't the case. My theatre-going companion (who shall remain nameless, mainly because I'm too embarrassed to admit that it was my mother) claimed that as good as the play was, it wasn't up to the standard of my latest effort. But then she's genetically programmed to say that. If I wrote a shopping list, she'd declare it a work of genius.

Following the play was an 'after-show talk', which was half the appeal for me, making it all the more puzzling why the class of 6th form drama students in the front row all chose to leave before the talk started. Presumeably they felt they had nothing more to learn. And they probably had to be up for college at 2pm this afternoon. But anyway, the 'talk' consisted of the director, Peter Rowe, and the four cast members sitting on the stage and saying "Are there any questions?". Fortunately there were. Mostly from the two teenage members of Ipswich Youth Theatre who clearly saw their chance to be noticed by a theatre director, and kept the questions rolling in.

Amusingly, an entire row of people then identified themselves as Chelpin Players, the Chelmondiston amateur dramatics group who are putting on this same play next month, and who (as discussed in this blog on 30th January) have no idea who Tim Firth is either. They spent most of their time asking if they could have the trees from the set when the play closes in two weeks time. I also enjoyed the moment when Peter Rowe asked why they were so interested, and they proudly declared "We're Chelpin Players!", then paused for effect, waiting for some immediate recognition, whereupon a stage full of people looked back at them blankly. It was soon after that, that the words "I think we'll close this talk now" were heard.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Tihs cuold be good nwes for poelpe wtih no bckapscae key, eh Lsia.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I've written a poem made up of the subject lines from spam e-mails I've deleted over the past week. And they say you need emotional depth to write poetry. Pah!

Paris Hilton

Imagine gasoline 27% cheaper,
Most guys never thought it possible,
We're practically giving them away:
Farming and sex.

Take a step into the future,
Groundbreaking healthcare technology,
Totally anonymous enlargement,
Oh my god this rules.

Go ahead and add a couple of inches,
Speed up your cable connection,
Monitor people's passwords,
She'll love it.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

I was encouraged (mostly against my will, it has to be said) to take's Personality Test yesterday, by someone who shall remain nameless (it was Marie), and who I suspect was merely trying to justify the fact that she'd wasted ten minutes of her life doing it herself, and thought she'd feel better if I wasted ten minutes of mine doing it too.

Having agreed to this venture, this nameless person (did I mention it was Marie?) said "you're very easily bullied aren't you", which I personally thought was a more incisive and accurate evaluation of my personality than the scientists at could ever muster, but still, for what it's worth, here's the gist of my personal attraction report...

You're a rising star
You're smart, insightful, and willing to fight for what you believe in. Being good at
your job and recognized for your contributions is key to being a "success" in life. You do what you say and say what you mean. These are very attractive and
masculine qualities. You have a vision for the future and always are searching to find love and a sense of "balance" in your life. Because you're an independent guy and a little shy, you only let a few people get especially close. Still, you have an emotional depth that most men lack. So you're ready and able to experience romance and a powerful "spark" with someone special.

It has to be said that there was a certain amount of scoffing from some quarters at the suggestion that I'm a "rising star". But not nearly as much as was heading back in the other direction when da Melee revealed that she'd been branded a "pillar of strength". I still haven't stopped laughing. But I mean that in a caring way.

Today however, I've moved on from personality to physicality. Against my better judgement, and for reasons unknown, I took the companion test - that of Physical Attraction. I have to say, it was embarrassingly enjoyable. You get to look at numerous photos of women, and be brutally judgemental, all in the name of science.

And at the end of this exercise, I was told in no uncertain terms...

"Interestingly, a lot of the features you liked are not especially popular. They're not what usually defines 'mainstream' attractiveness for women."

So I'm attracted to freaks. Thanks.

I was then informed that I particularly like Ecto-Mesomorphs (no, really) with light brown hair and button noses, and that the feature I most dislike is women under the age of 25. I'm not sure that's strictly a 'feature', since it's one that tends to change naturally without the need for plastic surgery, usually about one year after your 24th birthday. But it's news which should be enough to petrify anyone who's about to turn 25 this coming July.

Moving on...

"You probably struggle with balancing the natural instincts that draw you to good looking women, with your desire to find smart, mature, and well-rounded women."

That's so true. I do struggle. And so do the women I find. Which is where Chloroform comes in handy.

"While you may enjoy looking at different breast sizes, based upon the choices you made, you prefer a woman with medium breasts."

No, really, this test is scientific.

"You seemed especially interested in women with brown eyes. In the test, you may
not have even noticed eye color on a conscious level. However, those smoldering brown eyes apparently stood out to you on an unconscious level."

Yeah, or maybe I just need to adjust the contrast on my monitor. And finally...

"You have an eye for women with attractive noses."

Which I suppose is better than having a nose for women with attractive eyes. Still, all this information should prove useful to anyone thinking of making a move on February 29th 2008. But only if I'm still single. So like I say, it should prove useful.

Monday, March 01, 2004

I always said Sean Penn would win.