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Saturday, April 29, 2006

BC - Before ChoppingThe thing about urges is that I'm powerless to resist them. Which is why I ran out of chocolate eggs before Easter Monday. But it also explains why my little cat Chloe (which is Greek for "bloomin' hairy") has now been successfully defurred, and is frolicking about the place like a spring lamb.

← This is how she looked on Thursday, stretched out in the warmth of a late April afternoon, and clearly suffering from heat exhaustion under the weight of all that fur...

AD - After DefurringAnd here she is forty-eight hours later, looking... um... slightly cooler. But hey, just because she's wound up in a ball like a hibernating dormouse doesn't necessarily mean she's feeling the cold. She could just be trying to save space. And besides, it's a bank holiday weekend, so I'm sure the weather's about to get hot - she'll be fine.

What you can't see from that photo is that I managed to avoid cutting off her whiskers this time, which is a bit of a triumph, and proves that I learn from my mistakes. Although I did still spray her in the face when I gave her a shower. But as for her ear getting caught in the clippers, that was an accident, and I'm sure there's no lasting damage.

Litter TrayAnyhoo, she's about half her original size now, and takes up so little room that I was able to let her sleep on my bed last night without fear of losing the battle for mattress space. My in-tray is a lot emptier now too, and I could clearly fit two of her in an A4 envelope. Which if nothing else, will save on postage. But on the downside, she's now so small that every time she has a drink from her water bowl, I get worried she'll fall in and drown.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

LomosexualI've been into Ipswich this morning to attend East Anglia's cultural event of the year - the Ipswich Lomographers' Lomography Exhibition of all things Lomographic. To the untrained eye, it may have looked like a room full of photos above a kitchen gadget shop, but to me it was a whole lot more than that. It was a chance to visit Oxfam too. And may I say I got a very nice Next top for only £3.99.

But back to the exhibition. I have to say I was impressed. And not just with my ability to find my way up two flights of stairs, past a wooden spoon display, and through the right door. The gallery itself is housed in the attic of Lakeland, Britain's leading purveyor of egg whisks, which is about as close as you can get to the cultural heartland of Ipswich. As it turned out though, it was actually very nice, and not just the kind of attic where you'd tie up your grandmother for the weekend.

The sign on the door warned me that there was a limit of forty people in the gallery at any one time, so I was tempted to call up the stairs for a headcount, but in the end I decided they'd get more publicity for their work if the ceiling of the oven glove department collapsed onto an amateur cook, so I went ahead and climbed the stairs. As it transpired, they were approximately 38 people short of the limit, so everything was ok, and no chefs were harmed by my arrival.

As for the photos themselves, well needless to say the best of them were all by Crash (I'm contractually obliged to say that), although I would have appreciated a warning before I turned the corner and came face to face with George's two-foot wide grin, blown up to life-size proportions. Talking of which, I sent Crash n Donna a small gift yesterday to help with their child-rearing efforts, but after seeing the photo of Dyl playing conkers, I'm not sure they're going to need it.

Anyway, the other highlights for me were a photo of some mannequins by someone called Jay (I wasn't sure at first if they're male or female, but fortunately my dictionary informs me that Jay's a bird), a black and white shot by Liam (not only male, but mail spelt backwards), and a multi-exposure one by someone I've forgotten the name of. Although naturally I know nothing about Lomography so you should disregard everything I've just said.

They were all pretty good though, especially when you see them enlarged to full size, and dangling from the ceiling like Christmas decorations. Not that I'd suggest you try to get them all swinging at the same time - that would be wrong. Although in my experience, the two people on duty do go downstairs from time to time, so the opportunity's there.

Anyhoo, I can recommend it, and it's well worth the price of admission (which, incidentally, is free. Unlike the Buttermarket car park, which is now demanding a frankly outrageous £1.40 an hour). So get yourself down there (in groups of 40 or less) before Saturday.

Right, must dash - I've got a sudden urge to shave my cat.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I really should try to get home from Brighton before 2am. It's playing havoc with my complexion. But as of the middle of last night, I'm back in Shotley Gate, minus Lisa, but plus my cat who I successfully burgled from my parents' house at 1am. I don't think they'll notice.

It's been an exciting few days on the south coast, the highlight of which was probably my discovery yesterday afternoon that according to Lisa's Mum's kitchen calendar, she has an appointment on Thursday with a Dr Humzinger. I'm sure she makes these things up. Although let's not forget, this is the woman who marked last year's Brighton Pride march on her calendar as "Gay Time", so she clearly has her finger on the pulse. As will Dr Humzinger around this time tomorrow. To be honest, I probably shouldn't be reading her calendar, but goddammit, it's just so darned entertaining.

As for Lisa's other family members, we visited her sister and brother-in-law on Sunday (unannounced, naturally - how else are we going to get the chance to see her sister in a face pack?), and demanded a cup of tea at short notice. I then watched Nephew Number One playing Pac-Man (which has changed a tad since I was a child), before lulling the all-new Nephew Number Three into a catatonic state, in an attempt to stop him throwing up all over me. After that, there was just time to meet Super Giraffe, before it was back to Lisa's for Italian Beef Casserole.

On Monday I was forced out onto the streets to look for suitable gifts for my brother and sister-in law, who've both had birthdays in the past week, either side of the Queen's. Which makes three presents I've had to buy. Thank god the Queen Mother's dead.

Who needs estate agents...Anyhoo, my sister-in-law used to be a teacher, so I got her a blackboard, while my brother will shortly be receiving the item on the left. It's a small plastic figurine of St Joseph, the patron saint of real estate. I see it as an insurance policy on my new flat. When I decide I don't like it, and move out after three months, leaving my brother in the lurch, all he has to do is bury St Joseph upside down by the 'for sale' sign, say a prayer asking all potential buyers to waive inspection, and he's guaranteed to get the asking price. So frankly it's worth a lot more than the fiver I paid for it. I'm sure he'll thank me later.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Well all good things must come to an end, and as of this afternoon, Lisa's two-week holiday in Suffolk (which lasted for ten days) has drawn to a close, and I've returned her to the relative safety of Brighton. She doesn't seem to fall over quite as often here as in the rugged terrain of East Anglia, so I think it's just as well. Although I might still invest in a red panic button for her to wear around her neck in case she topples over on the way to the bathroom.

But on the bright side, Lisa's clifftop tumble has enabled me to gain some valuable experience in caring for the infirm. I've never had a relative who's this unsteady on her pins, and I've learnt a lot, particularly on Thursday when the inevitable post-traumatic stress kicked in, and Lisa went down with a serious case of shock. Well, I say shock, it was more of a stomach complaint, but it began within hours of her involuntary abseiling episode, so I'm pretty sure there's a link.

I looked up the symptoms of shock on the internet, and found them to be: sweaty skin, pale skin, nervousness, confusion, nausea and loss of blood. But let's face it, this is a woman who sleeps under a duvet in the middle of summer, couldn't tan if you put her under a sunbed for a week, panics at the mere mention of a residential course, struggles to follow a road map of Brighton, gags at the sight of rice, and has been on her period all week. So frankly she already has all those symptoms.

In the end I made an informed medical decision, and drove to the nearest health food shop for some prunes. Which was handy, because it also meant I could pop into the YMCA shop and buy the (frankly underrated) first series of 'Survivor' on video for a pound. The combination of that and some healthy eating (I was forced to go out for sausage rolls on Friday), and that case of shock cleared up within 48 hours. I really should be a doctor.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Today's edition of "Where Do They Find the Time?" comes courtesy of my weekly e-mail from the Advertising Standards Authority:

A TV ad for Moben Kitchens included large onscreen text at the beginning and end of the ad which said "Möben" with two dots above the ‘o’ which looked like an umlaut.

A viewer complained that the umlaut implied Moben was a German company which was misleading.

I don't know who's more at fault - the people who waste their lives making these complaints, or me who sits there and reads them.

But anyhoo, here's a scene from my afternoon out...

The worried-looking figure in the jaunty cap is Lisa. Well, it would be if I'd actually stopped and taken a photo, like *I* wanted, rather than being forced to save her life, which was Lisa's preferred option. So instead of a genuine photo, this is a highly accurate reconstruction. Although in reality there was more blood.

Anyway, having barely been out on foot since last Wednesday when Lisa fell over visiting my old school, it seemed high time she got back on that horse (especially as she can't ride a bike), so after a leisurely lunch at the Oyster Reach, I decided to take her to the Orwell Country Park for a gentle stroll. Fortunately the Oyster Reach are still refusing to serve oysters (though they did serve us), which is just as well because Lisa's second cousin went to Jamie Oliver's restaurant for her birthday last week, ordered the oysters, and had to be rushed to hospital with food poisoning. We did laugh. Or maybe that was just me.

So after a couple of Angus Burgers (didn't he play for Germany in the 1966 World Cup?) we headed down the road to the peace and tranquility of the Orwell Country Park. Which is next to a dual carriageway, behind a Little Chef. Following the coastal path overlooking the river, Lisa was soon struck by the beauty of the calm waters below, started to say how relaxing it all was, and promptly walked over the edge of the cliff. I don't think it was deliberate, but there is a free hotline to the Samaritans on the Orwell Bridge, so she wouldn't have been the first.

Anyhoo, the first I knew about it was when I heard a shriek, turned around, and saw two hands and a forehead poking over the clifftop. My natural reaction was to immediately haul her back up to safety - a decision I've been regretting ever since, when I realised what a great photo it would have made. And to be fair, the drop was only about ten feet, so she'd probably have survived.

But fortunately Lisa's ok. Although that's now two pairs of jeans she's got covered in mud, and she's costing me a fortune in Elastoplast. She also needs to clean her boots after scrabbling at the cliff face like a startled rabbit trying to climb Watership Down. It was really very sweet. Although her look of desperate panic detracted slightly from the overall charm of the situation. Needless to say we'll be driving everywhere in future.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mmm... Zizzi.In a shocking twist of fate, Lisa and I were actually early for our dinner date at Zizzi's in Ipswich last night. By which I mean we were only six minutes late. But frankly that's the closest we've ever come to being on time, and Crash n Donna were visibly shaken. They clearly thought they'd get another hour's drinking in before we arrived, so we pretty much ruined their night.

By the way, the picture above is of Dr Joseph A. Zizzi of the Erie County Medical Center in New York. He doesn't actually have anything to do with Zizzi's Italian Restaurant, but it was the best I could do in thirty seconds on Google Image Search. And besides, the man's from New York, so I'm sure he's no stranger to pizza.

But anyhoo, Zizzi's turned out to be very nice. I had a spot on my nose which made me look like Rudolph after a heavy drinking session, but fortunately the management kept the lighting level down to one notch above darkness, so I don't think anyone noticed. Having admired Crash's shirt (and again been thankful for the lack of light), we selected our starters. Lisa went with the Raviolotti, which is Italian for a lot of ravioli, while the rest of us ordered garlic pizza bread, mainly because it was the only thing on the menu we could pronounce.

The meal underway, we took turns in climbing the spiral staircase and waving to each other for no discernable reason, although only one of us chose to do it in the style of Marco from Big Brother. And it wasn't me, Lisa or Donna. Come to think of it, Lisa didn't even wave. But she was the same when I said goodbye to her at Victoria Station two years ago. I don't think her arms work properly.

For the main course, Donna ordered a Calzone (which is Latin for Cornish Pasty), while the rest of us went with pasta. Crash demonstrated the correct way to order a Pappardelle di Pollo al Marsala, using a technique which involved a finger, a menu, and the words "I'll have that", then we all settled down to some quality conversation. It was an illuminating evening. Lisa and I learnt about the voluntary work Crash undertook at the age of 15 to help the older generation, and Donna quoted lines from Captain Corelli's Mandolin. After which they slated The Cheesecake Shop, and told us about a much-loved variety act called The Hat Man. So they clearly have no taste. On both counts.

But after a short discussion on psychics, deep fat fryers and home-made tiramisu, we turned to the subject of body art, and agreed to go back to their place to look at Crash's tattoos. Not that he has any, but that didn't stop him showing them to us over a cup of tea. I was actually quite impressed (with the tattoos and the tea), although I'm with Donna on this one - if I'm going to have a tattoo, I'll be getting it out of a vending machine and washing it off after a week.

Incidentally, it's my brother's 40th birthday today, so Happy Birthday Bruv! He's in Canada til the end of the week, which is good, because it means I still have four days to buy him a present. Though I may not give it to him until he buys me a flat. You can't say fairer than that.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mmm... chocolate.Does anyone know the health implications of eating nothing but chocolate for four days? Oh, I tell a lie, we had fish & chips on Friday. That's alright then. Anyway, I'd just like to publicly thank Lisa for my Lindt Lindor Easter Egg. Despite sounding like a region of Middle Earth, Lindor is actually the food of the gods, and I could happily live on them for the rest of my life. Although I'd need seven boxes a week, as the one I received yesterday seems to be surprisingly empty already.

I'm also pleased to report that the Gordon Ramsay egg was very nice, and so nearly worth the exhorbitant sum of money I paid for it. And I'm sure my parents will be thrilled to hear that I ate the contents of the Quality Street egg they gave me in one go on Saturday night. But I needed some kind of consolation after getting five out of six horses placed in the Scoop6, and only missing out on a big win by the length of a hairy fetlock. I was not happy.

Anyhoo, since Wednesday evening Lisa and I have been back in Shotley Gate, where we've run the full gamut of experiences, from the Jeremy Kyle Show at 9:30am, all the way to the Trisha Goddard Show at 10:30. Basically we've just been watching TV in our pyjamas and eating chocolate. It's not what you'd call an adventure holiday. Although I did nearly fall over running to the kitchen for some more Mini Cheddars, so it hasn't been without its moments of excitement.

Talking of which, we're due to be meeting Crash n Donna tonight for pizza, pasta, and other things beginning with p, at Zizzi's in Ipswich. We've not been there before, but we spent a good hour drooling over the menu online last night, so we're fully prepared for the experience. We're supposed to be there in an hour. So I probably ought to get dressed...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Our house. In the middle of our street.I can only apologise for the lack of pictures in my last post, despite the obvious rich source of photo opportunities available to me, but to make up for it, here's a photo of the house (possibly of ill repute) where I spent the first twenty years of my life. It may not be very exciting, but at least I can post it without having to reclassify this blog as a porn site.

But before taking a trip down memory lane (well, the A130) yesterday afternoon, Lisa and I had the pleasure of going on a family outing to Bluewater, "the most innovative and exciting shopping and leisure destination in Europe today". Although frankly after an hour my parents were ready to go home. We'd not been there before, hence the missing of the turning off the M25, but it was well worth the detour through the bizarrely named Bean, and the trek through the rain from the far side of the car park, because Bluewater is indeed innovative. It's a big building with shops in it. I'm surprised no one's thought of it before.

So we spent a couple of hours browsing the innovative branches of Next, Monsoon and Oasis, ate some lasagne and chips, and then drove home. I don't think we'll be rushing back.

That was Tuesday. Wednesday, however, was far more exciting, as I took Lisa to the undoubted jewel in the Essex crown - Basildon - to show her where I grew up. It's the first time I've been back since I left there more than twelve and a half years ago, so it was quite emotional, and brought a tear to my eye. Especially when I saw how many speed cameras they've put up.

Anyway, I'm not saying the place has gone downhill since I left, but there is now an off licence in Clay Hill Road, where I used to live, called 'Bargain Booze'. So they haven't exactly gone upmarket.

Where it all began...But we parked for free in the doctors' surgery car park, and tried to look ill as we walked next door to my old primary school - the mighty Kingswood. I showed Lisa the classroom where I started my glorious career in education (and played in the sandpit), and pointed out the entrance hall where I expect they still have a plaque commemorating my achievements as head boy in 1984. That's if it hasn't been lost in one of the regular arson attacks.

From there we crossed the road to my old house, which now has a new front door. The old one was probably kicked in by local youths. The upstairs window at the front was my old bedroom (though I think it was originally intended to be an airing cupboard), but the burglar alarm above is another recent addition. When we lived in the house, there was nothing worth stealing.

Having successfully avoided my old neighbours, we then recreated my daily walk to secondary school, and soon arrived at Woodlands, which doesn't seem to have had so much as a coat of paint since I left. The right hand classroom, three storeys up, is where I did A-level maths. At least I think it's three storeys up - I never was good with figures.

I also planned to show Lisa the spot just outside the school gates where I slipped over and broke my ankle in 1988, but unfortunately she fell over on the way there, and I think she was too busy brushing mud off her jeans to really pay attention.

Anyhoo, Basildon may not be the kind of up-and-coming des-res it was when I used to live there, but it has gone up in the world in one respect: we found a shop called Wafflicious in the Eastgate Centre. Bluewater eat your heart out. We certainly did.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Well having watched most of my money go down the drain at Bechers Brook on Saturday afternoon, I made my way down to Brighton on Saturday evening to collect Lisa for an all expenses paid fortnight in Shotley Gate. We were aiming to leave Brighton at 2pm on Sunday afternoon, but it's actually quite difficult to get ready when there are two teenage girls taking their clothes off and doing cartwheels in their bras on the grass outside. Lisa assured me it's not an everyday occurrence, so we had to make the most of it. And besides, one of them was quite gymnastically talented.

But after a bit of gyrating in thongs (them, not us), we finally made it out of Lisa's front door at 3:30, took the lift down to the ground floor, and stepped out into the lobby where six policeman were in the process of pinning a woman face down to the floor, and trussing her up like a pig at a hog roast. She, meanwhile, was busy assuring them at a high volume that they'd never take her alive, which seemed a little optimistic to me, but to be honest I was more concerned about how I was going to get Lisa's suitcase past without wheeling it over her face.

But anyway, the nicest thing about our stroll through a war zone was that one of the policemen recognised Lisa and cheerfully said hello. Well I think he said hello. I couldn't actually hear anything over the screaming.

Anyhoo, our departure from Lisa's road was delayed by the major police presence, and the local resident being carried out by her wrists and ankles, and chucked head first into a van, but at least it demonstrated why property prices in the area are so high - who wouldn't want to live in such an exciting neighbourhood? We did eventually get away though, and journeyed north to Essex, where we dropped in on my brother, sister-in-law, and most importantly my niece, whose birthday we'd missed by 24 hours. But we spent an enjoyable evening playing with virtual Petz on the computer, with Lisa and I doing our best to pretend we were enjoying it as much as my niece. A plan which backfired a bit when my niece saw how much Lisa loved the game, and immediately promised to buy her a copy for her birthday.

From there we went to my parents' at Chelmsford, where we're currently spending a couple of nights on a bed with two mattresses. Yesterday we visited the Freeport Shopping Village at Braintree which features a Next Clearance Store (for Lisa) and a Cadburys Factory Shop (for me). Lisa bought some half price jeans, and I got embarrassingly excited at the discovery that you can buy a sack of Cadbury Flake offcuts for £2.99.

So having filled up on chocolate we ended up at the White Hart in Chelmsford for dinner, where I made friends against my will with a middle-aged woman at the bar who wouldn't leave me alone, and insisted on telling me about a friend of hers who'd never forgiven her for not turning up at a party. I eventually got rid of her, only to be accused of pushing into the queue by a five year old boy with a whiny voice. I could have slapped him. But frankly I was more annoyed with the waitress who forgot my garlic bread. So I slapped her instead.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The good news of the day is that I've managed to locate the original unedited version of the Suzuki Gran Vitara ad mentioned in Wednesday's post. You can view it in all its glory here. Interestingly, at first listen, it just sounds like a man's voice saying "I love you", but if you concentrate hard, say the F word over and over again in your head, and then replay the ad, it is just about possible to convince yourself that he's saying "I f***ing love you". So congratulations to the ASA on a job well done. I've never felt so corrupted.

Well not since yesterday afternoon when I caught a bit of the tennis on BBC2. It was Great Britain v Serbia & Montenegro in the Davis Cup, and unfortunately the match seemed to be sponsored by 'BNP Paribas', a leading European bank. Which would have been ok, were it not for the fact that every time the camera zoomed in on Greg Rusedski, he was standing in front of a huge banner saying 'BNP' and a crowd waving Union Jacks. It looked like a Nazi rally. I felt quite unsettled.

But that could also be because having successfully recovered from my two and a half week hellish flu-like death disease, I'm now coming down with a cold, courtesy of my mother, who visited me on Thursday, gave me a hug, told me how pleased she was that I was finally feeling better, and promptly passed on all her germs. So as of last night, I'm ill again. But still, those three days of good health I had this week were very nice.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Well I know it's a day early, but I do like to get in first before all the other nationally recognised tipsters, and besides, I drove within ten yards of a swan on Tuesday, so I'll probably be dead by this time tomorrow. So with that very much in mind, I've put in the hours of tireless research while I still can, and hereby present my cast-iron, non-losing, guaranteed-not-to-fall-at-the-first selections for tomorrow's Grand National.

This year's race features two of the shortest priced favourites we've had for years, and you'd have to be a fool to leave either of them off your shortlist. Which is handy. So after studying the form at great length, I can now reveal that the winner of the 2006 John Smith's Grand National will be...

Silver BirchSilver Birch at 25-1. Although personally I've backed him at 50-1. I'm taking a bit of a chance here, because he's failed to finish his last two races, but if (and that 'if' really ought to be in bold and italics) you ignore that, then he's got the form to win this by a country mile.

Cornish RebelSecond will be Cornish Rebel at 20-1. If (there's that word again) he can lug around 11st 9lb (which is a stone more than Lisa on a bad day), he should be there at the finish.

Direct AccessHe'll be closely followed by Direct Access at 25-1. Thirteen of the last fifteen Grand National winners have had a run in the month leading up to the race. Direct Access hasn't run since November. But am I worried? Well...

Le DucFourth will be Le Duc at 40-1. He's run five times at Aintree, and finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and nowhere. So why he's 40-1, I don't know. Possibly because he's French.

Risk AccessorAnd finally, if you want a horse with a big price (and little chance) then you need to be on Risk Accessor at 80-1. Although you can currently get odds of 200-1 on Betfair, which was enough to tempt me into parting with £2. It may not be likely, but it is possible.

Oh, and if Innox wins, can I just point out that I tipped him last year, and that counts.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

There are definite advantages to (a) having your own website, and (b) having your own Lisa. The pros of the former are obvious, but even the latter has unexpected plusses. Not least in the form of an e-mail I've just received from San Francisco (not the entire city, just one inhabitant of it).

For the past five years I've been an ardent admirer of Camilla Eriksson, a cartoonist and animator who lives in San Francisco (not that I want to give away who the e-mail was from), hence the fact that most pages on my website feature at least one cartoon by her. The woman's an illustrating god, and I'm not fit to sharpen her 2B pencils. Although obviously I'm only saying that because anyone who clicks on the above link will find that I stole the little swirly things on the left hand side of this blog from her website, and I could get into trouble.

Anyhoo, when I created my Lisa page just over a year ago, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to add numerous pictures of cows, spacemen, and cats with rolling pins. So needless to say I did. And what's more, I even credited them to Camilla, which is not like me at all.

But I'm glad I did, because 14 months on, I've had an e-mail from... (wait for it)... Camilla Eriksson herself (only the most perceptive could have seen that coming), who told me she'd been doing some "egosurfing" (that's a word I'll steal), found my Lisa page, showed it to her boyfriend, and the two of them liked it enough to give me a free subscription to her members area. Which obviously I'd never joined, due to being unwilling to pay $8.95 every six months.

So I'm head over heels. Not only is Camilla a very nice lady (she even sent her best wishes to Lisa. Although what it's got to do with her, I've no idea), but I now have access to an extra 5,911 animations. Which is enough to create a page about my next five hundred girlfriends. I'd better get cracking...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Blogger have just added another award-winning site to their 'Blogs of Note' roll of honour. It's excitingly called Rocket Plumes, and it's undoubtedly a classic of the genre. But don't read it all at once, because I can't guarantee you won't slip into a coma and die.
It's a fucking Vitara.I don't know where I'd be without my weekly e-mail from the ASA. It never fails to brighten me up on a Wednesday morning...

A TV ad for Suzuki showed a series of people driving a Suzuki Vitara. A rock version of the song "What a Wonderful World" was playing in the background and the drivers were singing along.

Two viewers complained that the ad was offensive because they heard a man's voice at the end of the ad say "I fucking love you".

ADJUDICATION: Complaints upheld.

The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC) said the version of the ad they cleared did not have any words at the end, only laughter. On learning of the complaints they liaised with the advertising agency (Nexus/H) who confirmed they had amended the audio in the ad after the BACC cleared it and had submitted it to stations with the same clearance number the BACC had originally provided. Nexus/H maintained the change had only been very slight; to "tidy it up" and ensure it matched the script. Nexus/H said that at no point did the ad include the word "fucking". They said the sound that viewers had interpreted as "fucking" was actually laughter which was being misheard.

Despite assertions that the word "fucking" was not used we considered the audio sounded like "I fucking love you" and had seriously offended a small number of viewers.

I so wish I'd paid more attention to that advert. Has anyone got it on video?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Toss another shrimp on the Barbie.If there's one thing I like to do during the school holidays, it's to superglue a small child's feet to a kite, and send them two hundred metres into the air. Preferably during a lightning storm.

But when I'm not doing that, I'm spending the afternoon in Toys R Us, looking for a birthday present for my niece, who reaches the grand old age of seven on Saturday. And after a good hour looking at the remote-controlled Daleks and computer poker games, I finally plumped for the 'Barbie Electronic Dance Party Mat' pictured above, which, according to the blurb, allows small girls to "get up, dance and groove with Barbie", just by placing them on the high quality plastic mat. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'toss another shrimp on the barbie'.

It looks good anyway, and I'm hoping it'll be safer than the Barbie scooter (a lethal deathtrap - don't let the pretty pink flowers fool you) on which her friend broke a leg a couple of years ago.

Anyhoo, from Toys R Us I went on to Tescos, where it was clearly National Let-Your-Child-Push-the-Trolley-Into-a-Stranger Day. I do so love the school holidays. Although I stuck out a mile, being the only person over 12 in charge of their own trolley. But I managed to successfully gather supplies for Lisa's arrival at the weekend. Ironically, it's a bit like having a child staying for the holidays, as the only things I have to get in specially are crisps, Easter eggs, and Ribena.

On the subject of food, Lisa had suggested that we consider seeking out a Michelin-starred restaurant for our two-year anniversary in May, just to see what food tastes like when you don't buy it in little plastic trays which go in the microwave. I was quite happy to agree to that idea (although personally my idea of over-the-top extravagance is to buy something from the Tesco Finest range)... right up until the moment I started checking out prices on the internet. At which point I decided it might just be quicker to set fire to my wallet.
Michelin-starred egg.
But in the absence of a poached quail breast for thirty quid, I've made it up to Lisa by getting her a Michelin-starred Easter egg instead, personally fashioned from the finest Belgian chocolate by Gordon Ramsay himself. Probably. Well it's got his name on it anyway, and frankly for the price they charged me, it had damn well better have his fingerprints on it somewhere.

But hey, it's no more than Lisa deserves, especially as she's been under a lot of pressure lately, what with having new neighbours who appear to be dealing drugs to the more violent members of Brighton's criminal underclass from the flat next door. Not that it's a daily occurrence. When I spoke to Lisa on Sunday night for example, she told me that it had been very quiet all weekend, the neighbours appeared to have gone away, and all her troubles seemed to be over... before asking me to put the phone down so she could call 999. Timing never was her strong point.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Well I have to say, since returning home from Brighton late on Tuesday night, I've felt a whole lot better. My sore throat and headache are gone, my aches and pains have miraculously vanished, and I have a new positive outlook on life. I've realised that whining gets you nowhere, and things are never as bad as they seem.

Obviously that was an April Fool's joke. I still feel as rough as a badger's nether regions.

But I'm not so ill that I can't recognise when someone's playing a joke on me. I've already had Lisa claiming that she's gone into work this morning to do some overtime. Honestly, just how gullible does she think I am? She could at least try to come up with something half way believable.

I've also just seen a TV advert for a compilation album called 'Crunk Hits'. Crunk??? That has to be an April Fool. Or perhaps not. I think I'll ask for it for my birthday. It sounds phat.

Anyhoo, being April 1st, this is quite an exciting day, because according to the tenancy agreement on my new Brighton flat, today's the day I move in. Which is why I'm currently in Shotley Gate, tearing up that tenancy agreement into a thousand pieces and requesting a new one dated the first of May. I'm also looking forward to Lisa's two-week Easter holiday, deliberately timed to coincide perfectly with my settling-in period, and enabling her to help with the unpacking, and tour the charity shops of Brighton with me in search of a new sofa.

Naturally those plans have changed slightly. She's now joining me next Saturday for a fortnight in Shotley Gate, surrounded by cardboard boxes, empty bookcases, and very little furniture. It'll be like squatting. Which at this rate is what I'll have to do if I want to move to Brighton.