Saturday, March 25, 2006
Hilarious: Duffer peacenik Norman Kember gets back to furious row over whether he said ta to the brave soldiers who rescued him.
His peacey pals all over the media trying triage PR but the old gaffer's blown it and his and his org's name is mud.
The nanny state advances ... the Beeb has it covered.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Just spotted "My Name is Earl" among the Brit TV showings.
Genius sale on someone's part.
Of all the programmes least likely to be understood by my couch 'tater Brit counterparts, Yankee baseball caps and posturised Starbucks glugging nothwithstanding, this is it.
Look forward to laughable reviews and general off-beam pronouncements ... I shall post the sillier twitterings as i come across them.
Look right, walk left: Obvious, really, in a country that drives on the left: before stepping off the curb to cross, check right for those silent Jags and Mini Coopers that whip left and assume you're not *bent* on stepping under their wheels.
Walk right: again, for a country that drives left, i've now twigged that we also *walk* left, same as in the US where two pedestrians approaching head-on veer to the right. I've been veering right and causing all sorts of confusion. Now I know.
Registration: even before i left the US, i was boasting/assuring the Spitfire of my plans to hit the ground running with my ESL/TEFL courses. We'd both be facing exams, sharing school nights.
Called her the other night and first question was, "Have you signed up?" I hadn't - faffing, slacking - and i confessed and promised better.
Have fixed pic of that girl (scroll up) to my book and one to the laptop.
That gaze is not one to trifle with or let down.
Bagging: shock horror - one bags one's own shopping. Not having enjoyed an American upbringing, complete with statutory duty as Safeway serf, I am revealed in all my incompetence.
*Why-y* didn't i pay more attention to those expert youths - Stef, Chris, Barb (*mature* youth), 'Sir'Patrick - who so deftly assembled my purchases?
Expertise:The other night I was behind a trio of which the son was packing with lightning expertise. Clearly Americans: mother, creamy-complexioned blond, costly threads, not a hair out of place; daughter a mini version; son, sturdy Jake Guillenhaal lookalike, bagging n double-bagging and flapping the bags open with practised ease.
As my own stuff came over the transom, I gave him an appreciative nod, "I could do with your skill. What? Pocket money at QFC?"
Quick smile of recognition and a mumble-drawled "Kinda like that."
Missing the place already.
Netcafé: down to my home-base Kings Walk netcaff to pay bills and check email. As I set my seat up and take my jacket off, a stunning blond is shoving coins in. I shove mine in and enter the numbers except that they've not printed right and are missing the middle numeros, hence invalid to the PC. As usual, the slacker CS dude isn't there and I spot the lady queuing for the Subway rank to enquire. I tell her they haven't anything to do with the caff and the rep isn't there.
She looks suspicious, assorted dudes at their puters look up and *they* look suspicious at my cheap chatup ploy. She goes to the CS door and knocks; i shrug - "He's never there."
It's her first time there and she's not likely back soon. I offer a £1 coin for her ticket so she wont lose her money and so i can claim for both. She doesn't quite see what the catch is but turns me down.
More folks turn up and make to insert coins. I warn them but they dismiss me with a glance and shove their money in. I suggest they look at their tickets and sure enough, misprinted.
They look puzzled and indignant but i am not sympathetic. The blond leaves.
Technicolored dream cabs: I must snap and post. When i left the UK, cabs were black. Now they are every color and advertisement under the sun, but still with those useful yellow lights atop for distant recognition. Buses: have i said this before? God bless the coloring red of buses - it means ones can spot a bus from 100s of yards off.
It ain't personal: those bus drivers have a schedule to stick to so they're hard-assed about re-opening doors for latecomers, even those who miss by a few seconds.
If you run, they have mercy - sometimes - but mostly it's hard luck.
Another thing: you don't hail and no one wants to get off, the bus storms by. Same as everywhere. But also, if the bus is behind another one and opens the door a few yards back and you're not paying attention, assuming it'll make the remaining few yards and collect you - fuggedit. It guns up and storms by, leaving startled citizens waving and cussing.
Great fun if you're in the bus; lousy if trying to catch it.
Sleepin in: Oh the effort to lie in and start one's day late. My Freedom pass isn't valid til 9am but i'm so used to being up at sparrow-fart that i've been experiencing nasty signals about my card being rejected. Complained to a beefy Tube employee who told me accusingly, "Not til 9".
OK - now i know why all those lecherous old duffers are standing outside the tube stations eyeing the talent. And i thought it was plain shameless ogling.
Blood test: they tell you to fast the night before, the form reminds you, i note it in my diary and assure la belle Emily that i'll follow orders. what do i do? trencherman brek of yoghurt n honey, scrambled eggs n bacon, toast and marmalade, refills of Lapsang.
i arrive at the clinic and the jennie love hewitt receptionist casually checks that i've starved. d'ohh!
I smite forehead and apologise, she beams tolerantly (glance at my age) and is perfectly understanding about memory at our senior age.
Leave clinic in rage and vow to focus. Darn! Quel humiliation.
As punishment, straight home and work a few hard hours on TEFL book.
Leap on bus, ascend to top deck and dive into next chapter. Focus. Tolerant of age, i'll show them.
City streets give way to suburban sprawl; aircraft banking. Right bus, wrong side of the road. Descend with measured gait and satisfied check of chronometer as if to let everyone know, "Excellent time - north Chiswick bang on schedule."
Rescued Christian Peacemaker: front page news of buffoon Norman Kember's rescue in Iraq. Much emphasis in local media that it was *British* special soldiery that snagged him sans a shot or life lost.
Yesterday's press mentioning his Christian Peacemaker connection, today's sensibly denying them the publicity.
What an idiot. And what a temptation for the SAS stalwarts who hauled him out of there not to put their own bullet into his senior temple for risking their lives and taking them away from the important stuff.
Who can have patience with these addle-pated oldies with their loony do-gooder ideas?
Even his wife expressed exasperation and i trust when she's got him back home and up to form that she'll give the twit a right talking to.
PS - see RWells' great comment below
Cycles: Page 3 of the excellent Evening Standard rails against the "Pavement Pariahs" complete with pic of those wretched cyclists who use the sidewalk.
Links, to boot:
Seattle: The number of times I was almost hit from behind in Seattle by these oafs.
I'd love to have had a slow-mo of one incident when i happened to turn left just as a cyclist breezed by along that strip under Alaska Way. His handlebar caught the strap of my hardy Amazon.com bag, whipping it off my shoulder but almost immediately snagging in some hardier protuberance, stopping the bike in its tracks and sending the rider ass over tit. Unfortunately, he wasn't deservedly injured, nor happened there to be some Chelsea tractor bombing along as he skidded left across the vehicular roadway.
As with motorised phonistas whom I watch in case i can bear witness in some court case or coroner's investigation, I look forward to the day when I can contribute to a motorist going scot-free or ram the message home in front of sobbing kin of some selfish ex-peddler.
Speaking of ex- - nasty irony following some yobs playing chicken with a train line and one of the creeps buying it. Usual nonsense, of course, about the crossing being ill-lit, which I trust will be tossed out of court.
Usual vigil and candles and crap laid at the site of the punk's misjudged prank. Totally unconnected, a driver loses control and drives into a bunch of mournful pals, sending yet another to the Promised Land.
No particular moral there except that if a mate of yours is idiot enough to play chancer, don't waste time on sincerity grieving rubbish: mail a Hallmark to the parents and get on with your own sensible life.
I have an E string to buy for the Ovation and a 2nd-hand Taylor to look at; just a seam-like crack, the owner tells me. At $800, it might be a bargain if the real McC.
Spec Forces Club: On subject of SAS types - excellent security. Been out of country so long, forgot their precise north london address. Phoned and was courteously put thru all hoops before being reminded of the locale.
Can u imagine the damage if the wrong folks got wind of where the top ferrets relax?
Thursday, March 23, 2006
I remember giggling aghast at this show.
Now I *am* the Fraser character.
He's out there ... never got to say my farewells to that Lion of the Night Crew but anyone with such a scary site will stay in my heart forever.
Could take 19 years and the wedding of his daughter (bra-a-ve groom), but I've not been so incompetent in life not to have collected that sort of pal one can count on a ring finger.
I could meet A and J again and take up right there from the handshake hug.
Sure, stuff will've happened, but the core appreciation didn't rest on time or present chatter.
One of the strong guys.
I look forward to jerking folks over here out of their complacency by flashing his impudent page around.
PS: Reckon he'd better adjust his ref to me now being an ex- ex-pat, back in the bosom of, and more of a curmudgeon than ever before ....
Cousinly birthday Saturday, clever doctor for whom careful prezzie buying.
Got him that "Does Anything eat Wasps?" collection from the New Scientist's 'Last Word' column.
For card spotted that clever New Yorker cartoon of businessman on phone:
"No, Thursday's out. How about never - is never good for you?"
That's as close as I'll scoot to vulgarity and risk Julie deleting me from her private reading.
This TEFL english for foreigners course is tough.
Quick - how many tenses in English language? 10, 16, 21, more?
It gets worse ....
Like a becalmed sailboat catching a sudden breeze, an hour or so back, the screen rippled and i was online again. natch, i had my priorities wrong and uploaded tons of fotos and didn't think of editing my earlier posts.
you'd think that, depending on the kindness of strangers, i'd be keeping my tapping down to the succinct and pertinent but no ... long winded to the end. God, i bore myself.
Blazing Thurs afternoon (see my Flickrd snaps from the top of the good old Clapham Junction - Battersea - Chelsea omnibus, particularly the shots of the Thames agleam).
Grumpen: I meant to revise and clip my burblings on our local "Apprentice" with the lumpen Alan Sugar playing a very poor second to the coxcomb Trump.
I watched another episode last night - the guys and gals competing to come up with an ad campaign for Sugar's "concierge" jet service for the money-encumbered.
I think I've nailed it: Sugar lacks any screen presence, atop which he never once expresses interest or approval. The Donald is an expert at setting traps with a compliment here, a benefit of the doubt there, luring his fold into overstepping the mark. Sugar's TV personna is pure curmudgeonry and v boring it is, too - to us, to them, and no doubt to himself. Clearly, he didn't get where he is by being a sulky twat but he's been done no service by editors, any twinkle of fun or enthusiasm for the commercial chase having been edited out.
Saccharined: To one candidate, he tells her she's "light-weight ... you're fired."
If anyone's lite, it's The Sugar: I've not yet heard a single original line; the script has been lifted wholesale, down to DT's dismissive catchline - from the US show and damn'd silly it sounds too in estuary english and brusque cockney. At least they could have had him growl, "Yer saccharined!".
Maintaining the uncertain feel is the pansy narrative they've settled for, some neutral (and neutered)voice that fails to deliver any sense of drama or gravitas.
The original genius, Mark Burnett, is also responsible here and i can only assume that Mr Trump tipped him a hint not to have Sugar come off in any way better than him. I also suspect that Mr Sugar (actually, he's a "Sir" but out of respect for that honour i choose to review his lamentable performance as if pre-dating the gong) is a better (and more private) man than the camera captures, comfier with a balance sheet among trusted colleagues than wondering self-consciously from moment to moment how he's coming off.
Basically, this is a 100% American concept and any Brit contingent can only do their best to mimic their transatlantic counterparts.
Coup de grâce: the moment when the Big Guy comes thru that door and seats himself at the chair of judgement is tailor-made for The Don who milks it for every ounce of drama and regal pomposity. Sugar merely enters like some crumple-featured janitor who's taken the wrong door.
As for the henchpersons - brilliantly cast in the US version with shrewd George and secret star, the glacially sexy Caroline - Sir Al has agreed to some drab bloke with nothing to contribute and a granite jawed lady in whom I sense potential but who is disastrously unfanciable and hence deservedly underused.
One of the joys of the Trump version is how he defers to his colleagues. Sugar clearly sees this as a weakness and poses mere token agree-with-me questions before making his own leaden pronouncement.
I would predict that this will also come over to the US as a cross-over money maker, except for the fact that it so closely mimics the US script to no good effect whatsoever.
My mother's magnficent and famous bathroom, painted by herself and transforming ordinary closet into tropical paradise.
I was about to express dismay over the shamelessly incorrect mockery by the Brit media of the fey and limp-wristed.
When I left these shores, one hardly heard a whisper against the ginger ensemble; on my return, I need only turn on a random TV or radio show to hear viciously accurate parodies of their braying and silly vocab.
But lo! As i type, the splendid Brian Sewell is pronouncing on some movie about which he couldn't possibly have the faintest. What an accent! I yearn to speak with such precise vowelage and arch disdain for anything relating to the sordid 'real' world.
But no, as I say - homo-sexualists are clearly the prey du jour and the management turn a blind eye to cruel mimicry with all the saffron gestures.
Paulina O'Grady (postings passim ) may not be the subtlest parodist of these hapless wretches but he hogs the prime-time listings.
If the TV moguls wanted to play fair, they'd shove a gay into the flop-wristed Apprentice-UK and let the unconvincing Mr Sugar loose on him with his Trump-lite rumblings.
Honestly, the American ex-pats in this country prepared to waste time turning up for these TV shows wipe the floor with their tongue-tied hosts.
What is it, I wonder, about normally bright Brit media babblers that saps their savvy to drooling ineptly at the merest glint of perfect American teeth and a twangy accent?
Slate's Brian Curtis good on the Dan Brown hows-yer-father.
I owe UWN belkin54g a very large drink at a pub of his choice for all the free rides i've had off his link.
Traffic fines: much hullabaloo in the press about the ridiculous state of parking fines:
Medical: Registered with a local doctor on the excellent - and free - National Health Service and took in all my docs relating to my cancer op, PSA scores etc. Was checked over by a *gorgeous* blonde S'th Efrikan who took weight and height (neither of us knew our metrics, giggle) and blood pressure, the latter being wayy too high and having also caused concern to my lovely Doc Madsen back in V Mason.
Making flirty polite chat, I asked to be reminded what those 2 numbers actually mean ... much (and very fetching) humming and haah'ing and deep blushing and confession she didn't actually know, but could furnish me with a raft of literature. I said *I* now felt embarrassed and to please not bother with the light reading.
Poor lady, she looked on the verge of tears, into which she'll no doubt burst on getting home and flinging herself into her man's arms (lucky bastard).
Such a hypocrite, I am: had she been a right boot with a conk like Sarah Jessica "Aard" Varker, I'd have no doubt donned my icy voice and be pillorying the poor cow in this post.
TV: so good to see all these wrinklie males on the Box, dishing the news or even presenting shows:
Was once in an elevator - White City? - and MP got in with photographer Don McCullin whose book Mrs Busker had edited. I engaged DMcC in genial chat, he remembered Steph, and it was all good, cept for Parkie who refused to accept I wasnt some groupie. It was only Don's politeness that kept the chat going.
Got my revenge. Not that Parkinson's ego-trip show was right for my authors but when a researcher phoned up offering the privilege of an author appearing on his dreadful show, I courteously cut her short with a refusal; no particular reason, just that I wasnt making a scribbler of that standing traipse out to the wilds of London just to be constantly interrupted by someone who wouldn't have read the book in the first place.
Totally bogus: Incapable of spotting where not to interrupt, clearly under the impression that *he* is the one we've tuned in to see and hear.
Noel Edmonds: last i knew of Noel he was a hot DJ, now hosting a watered down version of "Deal or No Deal" but with none of Mandel's command or slightly threatening presence. I can't stop giggling at his time-warp bouffant coiffure, altho i have to concede he's kept his tum and double chin in check.
The Judy element: marvelously haggard old thing, no effort to hide it. My god, she'd have been put out to pasture aeons back in the youth-obsessed US of A. Viva l'anciennes!
Estate agents: big exposé on BBC 1's unmissable "Whistleblower" programme tonight, starring the foxy Anna Adams and equally fetching Claudia Schiffer-lookalike colleague, Emma Clarke, both of whom went underground for a few months to work for these low-lifers, notably property wheeler-dealers, Foxtons.Natch, being so cute, Ms Adams' pic is front page of the Evening Standard under the guise of announcing this public service exposé but really just to flog more papers with a half-page pic of bébé majeure Adams.
Actually, a remarkable and brave accomplishment that has me worrying less about legal actions taking against Mesdemoiselles Adams et Clarke than actual physical aggro from the exposed. Duude! I almost felt sorry for the villains and their aghast emotions as the watched the program and realised up with what consummate expertise they'd been stitched.
Hilarious finale as shocked and innocent denials were read out from the culprit companies, distancing themselves from the hapless types caught on camera as if this wholesale lying wasn't embedded company culture.
Indeed, I wish it could be shown worldwide because I have no doubt that such sharp practices have been adopted internationally wherever another seller/buyer sucker is born.
Retaliation: My strongest emotion as the credits rolled was worry for the safety of the journalists and informants involved. It's a rough business and there'll be a mark out on the whistleblowers, not this week or next week but some time in the future when the brouhaha has blown down and the Beeb's minders have been called off watching Adams' et co's backs.
There were just such suspicious "accidents" in Hong Kong following a deep cover ferret job into a midlevels property scam on unsuspecting ex-pats. No one brought to justice, of course, and the attackers dismissed as random coolie thugs on an excess of Tsing Tao.
I feel like sending a congratulatory email to all concerned.
To more pleasant matters, repeats of "The Office" are enhancing TV viewing hours. Just before I left BI, I watched some pleading program on TV with the US cast wondering how the script would go. Don't make me laugh - what on earth makes them think that the *American* scribblers have the faintest idea of where to steer the show? They've ripped a feeble ride on the UK original and are now left high and dry in their bankruptcy of understanding or inspiration.
My commissioned piece way back on the first screening has been scrapped in favour of an even longer assessment now that I'm back in Blighty and with even ruder comments on the show as a whole. More lolly, to boot.
What goes round: you cock up "The Office", we make a pig's breakfast of "Deal".
Paul O'Grady: a simply awful presenter with an irritating provincial accent and gift for sending up homosexualists whose mannerisms and modes of speech he has studied and lampoons throughout the show. Very incorrect and very funny, altho' I'm surprised some queen hasn't leapt on stage and clouted him with her handbag. The queer-bashing palls after a while so i don't watch too much of O'Grady, even tho' he seems to be on daily. No accounting for my countrymen's tastes, what?
Budget £: Much chatter about the impending Budget but all I care is that booze and fags will soar in price costing me even more to go to the grave. A tossup which'll give out first: lungs liver or bank balance. (Cough splutter wheeze; sound of uncorking Dubonnet bottle)
In fact, I've been watching Gordon Brown deliver his Budget speech - first time I've hard his voice. Commanding Scottish burr. Just behind him, in full camera view, is the poodle Blair and next to him on the front bench someone who really should have been shunted to the back rows. The be-joweled and pasty-faced John Prescott looks a right nasty piece of work: totally out of shape, a physical horror, he has the doughy features of a drinker and a bully. What an embarrassment and liability he must be to the party faithful. Isn't his nickname something like 2 Jags for his garage of cars? I'm surprised he doesn't need something a bit bigger - which gives me a neat a segue into the gem of info' that those SUVs so favored and fumbled by foppish Bainbridge newcomers (and said to be taxed to buggery in the Chancellor's new budget) are known over here as "Chelsea Tractors".
Apprentice: Talking of cock-ups, I must stop being snooty about American gaucheness with clever Brit progs because they - we - have our own version of The Apprentice and it surpasses badness in a truly ham-handed way.
If there was even a glimmer of a spark of originality or improvisation to it, I could look on the bright side and compliment it for being a wan shadow of the Trump chef-d'oeuvre, but it is resoundingly without merit or humor or entertainment value at any level.
The Trump part is played by a Yasser Arafat-lookalike, one Alan Sugar who strains sans success at a fashionable growly-bear gruffness. He has clearly been told to observe and learn from Trump but, like the equally bland and unconvincing Richard Branson (a rich balloonist involved with Virgin music and airlines), picked up none of DT's puffed-up popinjay presence or genius timing with self-parody.
This being England, the glowering Sugar is flanked by colourless henchpersons of exceptional un-beauty and gaucheness and no more understanding of the camera (for which read 'audience') than their employer.I do hope the show comes over to the US for proper lampooning and mockery and a chance to redress the balance for all the derision *we* pour on Stateside bishes.
The Apprentices: I see now that i had a huge advantage watching the Trump version: most US accents sound the same, saving me wasted time slotting them into various castes and backgrounds. No such luck with the grotty British entrepreneurs, out of whose mouths emerge the most bizarre voweling which I assume must once have been "language" but which by the time it reaches TV speakers would baffle even Professor Higgins.
The task I watched involved setting up competing food stalls at a Thames-side festival, and an hilarious disaster they both made of it, ordering too much and cursing each other out and generally demonstrating good old British impotence in the arena of youthful biz battling.
Producer Mark Burnett must have spotted the show gurgling down the sink hole because he'd cued Sugar to call for one from the men's team to lead the women and vice versa.
Like cast-offs from the touring version of "No sex please, we're British", everybody immediately lost what little cool they'd been feigning and behaved as if aghast at "the birds and bees do *what*?". With none of the sleekness or glowing physical beauty of the American aspirants, I couldn't even fall back on ogling a flash of thigh or those magnificent unsagging breasts you grow over there - OK, there was a Scottish lady sporting a rather fine pair but one had to shade one's eyes from glimpsing her face which used up vital fingers needed elsewhere to plug ears from the accent.
Newsnight: mustn't end on a Sugary sour note (the old fake)so I'll just add that there's an excellent hardhitting news prog fronted by a greyer but no less fierce Jeremy Paxman. Goodness, how one could do with someone like that over in the US but of course the Gnome would never allow it.
Funny thing - I could swear I met and nattered with Paxman back in '95 over the PR for a book by or about him for the once-great house of Michael Joseph. It was flagging a bit even then so Lord knows what or where it is now; probably gobbled up by one of the conglomerates that did for teams like Heinemann or Seckers and its directors spending their pay-offs under sunnier climes.
Keys Freeze: 6 years' living in crime-free BI directly under the condo manager (and my very good buddy), i got into the bad habit of leaving my door unlocked and the keys just anywhere i couldn't find.
Here if i walk out and the door slams, I am screwed.
Cash in hand: bit of a furore over here ref peerages for cash. Labour party nailed bang to rights accepting £1M loans in place of declarable donation gifts.
I'm walking up Kings Rd to the internet cafe, a quid for an hour, any denomination so i've sorted out a precise fistful of coins - 5p, 10p, 50p - when i bump into distinguished old journo pal. Sans thinking, i greet and shake his hand with my pawful of coins. Some go splattering across the pavement. Pal looks puzzled but recovers, "My dear chap, say no more. Name it and the peerage is yours."
Jilbab: Country not totally gone to the multi-cultural dogs: schoolgirl banned for flouting uniform code by wearing that full-length jilbab garb to class. Takes school to court where the rule sensibly upheld. Pursues it to next legal rung where she's given benefit of the doubt.
Doughty school sticks to guns and refers it to the Lords who still breathe the oxygen of sense and decree trhe 'bab jilted.
Comment by Jill: disappointed but glad she got her cause the publicity. Ditto: save others wasting courts' time with this sort of nonsense.
Alas, not the last we'll hear of this particular thin end of the ubi-cultural wedge.
Monday, March 20, 2006
and i *do* wish i sang like the gravelly voxed eddie williams ... so there.
day before my dparture, wandered into BI library and there was eddie, foot in plaster but cheerful as ever.
we chatted and it was neat that the last guy i see is that good guy. check out my bagels and beans posts and see how he looks and hear how i say he plays.
buy his album.
one of the really good guys, him and Larry and of course the divine Georgia about whom i was shocked - *shocked*, and jealous - to hear that young master williams had made an "alliance" there. i was *promised* that good guys not only came last but *nevah* got the chick.
ah well, good on eduardo.
march 20: 1730hrs
no use chatting up birds here: they all talk some slavic lingo and just giggle.
taxis: v alert to one's hailing and v good at getting u places fast. of course one has to tip but what the heck.
yo - have placed new pics in flickr. check em out
now my stuff is here am dressing proper - scruffy jeans, BI ferry timetable t-shirt and Mariners cap. was in elevator (lift, to me) this morn and it stopped at 2ne floor and in bounded fit cove in jogging gear. we exchanged curt greets and continued in silence, til he observed, "say, that's a mariner cap. you ever *been* to seattle?" i nodded."Spent a few months there." "cool, we should get together. I'm from Portland, ya know? Oregon?" I nod.
"A little south, as i recall"
Really! a few yards down the road and people claim some acquaintance.
i type this in london, see ref eurovia.
Under the Gun
Suddenly the unsecured connection opens for me. Talk about under the gun:
Up at dawn to cruise the city. dumb me, my freepass only works 9am-4pm so i'm ordered off with accusatory looks. Excuse to have large coffee and read paper at local cafetière.
is dawning on me, no use chatting up birds round here coz they only speak some slavic lingo.
Barclays Des Baclés: One has to ask oneself who bloody banks with *whom* (whinge moan)
Actually, some Anonyronimous Bosch-type whistle-blower is even disputing the *sex* of the "stalwarts" who've been putting Mum and me thru all these hoops. I'd better be polite and stick to "stalwarts" while they're all trying to complete this transaction in record quick time.
Maman has account with Knightsbridge branch who pay most bills. To call them, you go thru the Isle of Man who are *the* most stubborn unhelpful types. i simply need the phone account to set up broadband connection so's to bore y'all with instant postings. i have the very name of mum's personal banker but would you believe there are "several" David Browns at that branch and they wont put me thru. i need to make an appointment - aha! catch-22, but with which DB?
I already have a beef: when mum was over she met a Ms Janco Kruger who talked her thru the form with which to join me to her bottomless bank account (talk about sponging). mum returns to greece and i arrive in london and make appointment to sign my bit. i see another lady who immeidately tells me mum signed the wrong form and hands me another to send out to mum *plus* they needed certified fotocopy of her passport page.
corfu of course is locked in a postal strike so no mail getting thru. i ask why the heck they didnt get it right the first time round, adding that if the *customer* cocked it up like this and cost the *bank* this waste of time, boy we'd see it reflected in bank charges. shrug of shoulders. i threaten to submit invoice to the boss man.
B-Telecom: lesson in perseverance. First BT employee i talk to tells me no way can they give me mums a/c #. i try again and get a lovely lady who asks mums address and fone number and tells me she can send me a letter which will include account #. Moral: don't take ignorance for an answer but try again n you might get someone who actually knows the game.
I buy a dozen postcards and sit in a caff writing to my favorites. Behind me some local complains to pal about tourists hogging the tables; i clear space and invite them to sit, saying ... sod it! just hit some button on the laptop and about 20 mins typing just vanished.
Timetable: If the Debarclays team *do* want to pull this 3rd party transaction off promptly, they will have to put their socks on. We have just passed a milestone.
Wednesday March 15: Speed correct documents to Maman in Greece for speedy completion and return to me
Wednesday 29 March, 10:00hrs : back to accursèed De-Barclays for further leading on their merry chase.
Friday April 7, desk 10: Meet with Les Barcleurs. My last chance before my April 11th flight to Greece. I bear letter-headed bank statement from my US bank. Ms Janca Krug takes them for photocopying and returns the original. I don't any more believe that anyone in that building has the slightest grasp of DeBacle's office procedure.
Tuesday May 23, 2006: Corfu Greece: I am awoken from heavy siesta slumber by Ms Durbar informing me that they need the *original* bank statement, not the copy that Mamzel Janca handed back to me.
So starts my campaign to find *someone* in that organisation capable of a) instructing me in what's needed for b) Joining me as 3rd party to my mother's account.
It is not a pretty story and, as of today, March 12, 2008, not one whit nearer completion.
March 19 ~ Swing of things
Getting into the routine: switch on laptop and see which "Unsecured Wireless Network"(UWN)comes up - usually 2 or 3 but of pitiful strength, except that i now think someone is playing silly buggers with me.
Got back this evening, logged on and saw for the first time that i had a UWN of "very good" connection. No sooner do i try to hitch a ride than it plummets to zero. This sends my paranoia to "excellent" as i think of chummie out there, his network unsecured for whatever reason, but a gizmo at his elbow that tells him when a poacher logs on at which point he hits a button and spoils the fun.
Plan B: I troll down Kings Rd in my finery, affecting the swagger of a local, stop off at the Kings Walk Netcafé to check my gmail and everyone's blog etc, then out for latte and pastry and then home to read the papers.
I can't be bothered to blog anything because i never think i have the time to wax sufficiently prolix, preferring to hope against hope that it wont be long before i can paste my home-composed ramblings. Meanwhile, aforesaid ramblings grow longer and dated by the day.
But it's an interesting exercise: write blog in Homesite, read it next day, wince at how boring and long winded I am, edit and rewrite. Update with new stuff to have me wincing next day.
March 19: Run amok with my new Free Pass bus and tube ticket allowing me to travel free on public transport.
Write thank you postcard to posh neighbors who had me for drinks last evening. Despite maman's clear advice - "They are a super couple and will have you for drinks. They are marvelous company and very witty and will make you feel witty, too, but DO NOT OVERSTAY your welcome.
What do i do? Arrive, accept the offered scotch, chat merrily and laugh at all their jokes. Accept the top-up scotch. More witty chatter and appreciative guffaws ("Gosh, that's funny." "Oh, you're so right." "ReALLY? That IS interesting.") Hooch gets dangerously low, I'm watching theirs drain too and waiting for the offer of support package 3. I start taking minuscule sips (soo obvious). My hosts stay witty and wordy as ever, but nary a glance at the scotch bottle. Penny drops and i make my farewells, but can't you hear them once the door closed:
"Goodness, I thought he'd *never* leave."
"And did you see how he kept dropping hints with those silly little sips?"
Kilted vowels: just realised how scots accents are everywhere, on the phone, TV/radio announcers, directory enquiries. Lovely sound but s beginning to pall.
Tea at the Cavalry Club on Piccadilly, thanks to cousin A who's a member. Magnificent building with original paintings from the ages worth a fortune. V hushed atmosphere and fierce faces everywhere. It's by invite only to join and one has to be pukka cavalry type. Weekend is only time to show visitors round coz they're all off at their country estates.
Dozed off in front of the TV last night, some documentary on the Munich task force that Golda sent it to revenge the Olympic killings. Woke sweating from horrific nightmare about being bound and gagged as villainous types planned some awful stuff on my daughters over in Seattle.
Couldn't move, couldn't phone at that hour to warn them of the dastardly plot or, as my brain cleared, check all was ok.
Thought of buying a paper but baulked at the $1.60 price and the sheer bulk of all the supplements and free DVDs and similar rubbish. Everything's tabloid these days so i feel like i'm reading some trash rag like the Sun or Mirror.
Weekend is visitors day down Kings Rd - not that different from sidestepping the Seattle grockles down Winslow - and was comforted to be able to walk home at 7pm as everyone else was desperately hailing cabs.
Pubs full of the trendy young quaffing their smart drinks and laughing with perfect teeth. Passed a Starbucks and there in the window seat was a middle aged cove with paper and coffee and enormous cigar that he was puffing with evident pleasure.
March 18 update - awaiting my gear, leaping to door with every mail drop.
Letter from DHL about trying to deliver package but me not being in. Can I collect from depot or call with new delivery address.
No address in the letter; dud phone number.
DHL depot pleasant walk down Nine Elms past Battersea Power station (Flickr when I it fixed) so no prob.
NO-el: so much for derisory hoots at States-side "festivals" kwanZAA et kookie al, watering down Christmas to mere "Holiday".
Greater London bureaucrats have managed to publish a calendar of "ethnic and religious hols and official duties" omitting Dec 25 and 26. Shades of Alan Rickman as sheriff of Nottingham - "Men in Tights"? - riled by Robin Hood's latest caper and rasping, "Cancel Christmas!"
Clouseau Closure:Steve Martin travesty remake an acknowledged disaster. London screenings scrapped after critics slam: "witless sight gags and embarrassingly bad attempts at matching Peter Sellers' mangled syntax".
Jay-jaunt: retrieving my jay weaving skills.
Davey Graham: one of the *great* "folk, blues and beyond" guitarists of the 1960s. Off to the Spitz club last.
Full of fellow ravaged types + folkie youth.
Share a table to one side with an enormous 45-ish fattie bloke and his hot black chick but am watching a table front of stage where i *swear* a hatted Davey is sitting with 2 acolyte young 'uns. i ask the couple, "isn't that Davey right there?" "Nah mate, they'll announce him and he'll come out from back stage."Feel a fool.
Announced in paper as 7pm but turns out to be "doors open". Club fills, booze bought, baccy fumed.
8:30, Hatted Davey walks on stage and fiddles with guitar. Black chick to fattie, "Seems he was right." To me - "You win."
Acolyte clambers on stage and announces the evening under way: he and pal will play and Davey will perform around 10.
Acolyte plays. Dreadful. Meanwhile, Davey smoking away and accepting drinks from all and sundry. Worry: will I get my £12's worth.
Acolyte #2: slightly better but nothing to write home about. Davey puffs and pints on.
Davey's gig, he plays a few but it ain't there. I walk out into the chill night air and catch the bus to Clapham and old landlady "Harrow House" joint where it's salsa nite and a ton of talent are dancing divinely with some very angular dudes.
Worked behind the bar 26 years ago and Pam introduces me to the staff who treat me like royalty, asking what it was like back then, how the place has changed etc. Booze on the house, then pam and i go back to her place where we sort thru fotos incl steph's and my wedding where pam's old man, the late and v great john blackwell, was our best man.
Unsecured wi-fi: none of my business poaching off others but am sulky, logging on and finding none avail.
auld lang syne: meeting up with pals from 20 yrs back. They're either at the peak of their trade, or set up on their own ... or looking like death on the breadline.
Trash: London lacks garbage bins. Every time i've needed to dump something, i've looked n not found one.
Fuzzmobiles: is it being back in a major city? London filth drive *very* fast and hence skilfully. Siren and cars pull over, pedestrians step back and suddenly there's the car. Breakneck speed, hardly slowing, weaving and using all lanes and pavements. Then gone and life resumes.
Schiffer's chefette: Irate over story in papers about cute idiote chef Sophie Michel's book using quote by mega model Schiffer on front cover, claudia's name as large as author's.
"We love sophie and *everyone* loves her cooking, too", CS had once written to sophie's mum, which sophie had used on her book jacket sans asking her former employer.
Schiffer guards her brand name and sued, requiring book withdrawn and awarded "significant damages." Quite right.
Whimpered Sophie, "Claudia wasn't damaged ... so why she received damages is beyond me."
"I was at her beck and call for two years," continues the blond cook, as if that was some defence.
Whenever I've hired folks for acceptable pay, they were there at beck and call, or they speak up then, not years later when things turn inconvenient.
Other pathetic quotes include splendid sob stuff about pouting Ms Michell being an Me sufferer whose ailment "came back with a vengeance" as a result of the law suit, plus her being "under tremendous stress."
Yep that's what happens when you goof with major players. Stoopid gurl not asking first, stoopid publishers Cassell Illustrated not checking.
Both parties delivered just deserts - or, sophie being a culinarista, the "desserts". Hollow pun.
march 18: knightsbridge noon, back from whingeing online from Netcafé 1) about sullen staffer 2) how i've lost my wi-fi connection.
Duhh - read instructions for laptop and there's a button i must've pressed to kill reception.Damn, a week last friday was full of insecure links so presume it was same last nite too.
Freepass: oldies bus free, so down to local post office with fotos and ID proof that i am officially overage pesterer of babes and beauté.
Charming duskerine gave gleaming smile and informed me that they didn't do them there n that i'd have to go the mile to the World's End office. Instead of stamping my footsie and delivering Oxford accented hrrmph, asked directions and made to shoulder my amazon.com bag when out of left field came 5' x 5' tank lady with a cruel nose and the sort of expression that usually spells doom to effete well-born such as i.
A winner: she told Gleaming Gnashers how to set it up and what to look for on the puter etc. I simpered but she waved my thanks aside.
"So where you been?" asked the Gleamer as i produced WA driving licence, "they got bus passes over there?"
"Assuredly not," i informed her, looking over my shoulder for the Youth Police, "Oldness doesn't exist in the States. Or it does, but is against the law and roaming gangs of euthanasianistas troll the alleyways, putting the likes of me down in brusque and painless fashion."
"You here permanent like?" asked the Tank. Nod. "Family over there?"
Cue fotos of dahling daughters.
I am fixed in a jiffy with my pass and leave with many a genuflection and thanks.
Onto Kings Rd where a #22 bus is trundling by. I can walk it home but i leap aboard and press my new card against the metal checker - yee haww! Aboard gratis free, no more delving into my Avril Lavigne purse for frigging £1.50s. Age rocks.
50 yards down, i see the posh farmers market outside Partridge's; descend.
Buy cheese of challenging appearance and baguette that i don't need but the française at the counter is of such dazzling cuteness and perfect accent, i can't resist. I hand over the money, notice elder man of ravaged appearance watching me n nodding curt acknowledgment: dad, i reckon, registering another sucker biting the cash register.
Behind me on the piazza, a cash drive for some cancer program. Boom box plays jitter-buggery as couples jive. Marvelous teddie boy type with sideburns and full monty cutting a rug, whale of a time. i pop a quid coin into the collection box n snap the scene for flickr.
Home and lay out cheese and vino and check mail: check from the management of my old Bainbridge condo, refunding $675 last month's rent, which I shove in envelope with deposit slip and prepare to mail to Hildebrand branch of Bank of America.
Savings: if bus trips cost £1.50 (no ongoing tickets like good ol' seattle) and i've taken average 5 trips a day since March (plus some rail fares), and now i can travel free on bus n tube; plus i've just got $675 ... rather a good morning's work.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
WiFi-less in Chelsea
After a week of intermittent poaching of unsecured wireless links, I suddenly cannot see anything in my laptop's scanning of the area, not even the list of 4 or 5 protected links.
I must have hit a wrong button or raised some sort of firewall that now blocks me from receiving the signals.
Damn'd nuisiance because i'm left with trogging dahn the Kings Road to this sort of Mall that houses a post office, Virgin megastore and Subs-cum-Internet café.
It costs £1.00 for an hour at easyInternetCafé, which isn't bad except that it boasts a somewhat dour customer service rep who clearly caught us both on a bad day - see 'Comments'.
I go on - or *went* on, since I'm typing this section at the tail end of March 2008 - to say that "when he's here he sits in his back office prodding away at his keyboard and not even looking round when one has an enquiry ... and a whole lot of other silly comments that I feel a bit bad about now I'm getting to know the chap thru his Comments. So I'll delete the next childish paragraphs or three and cut straight to the bit where I get civil again and talk about having
" ... a raft of mails to post, waiting on my laptop for a spare wi-fi link to swim into my ken; also bags of cool fotos of my travels around town.
TV: they have 'Desperate Housewives' here which is discussed in all seriousness by a Brains Trust of smart young things who I suspect have been no closer to the great US of A than the nearest KFC. In fact, one of the more risible aspects of TV over here is the eagerness with which the Briterati pontificate on what's going on 'over there'.
More anon when I've *finally* extracted my mum's phone account # from the wretched bank and got BT to wire me up."
Also delete a whole lot of "Post-scripts" crap about being in a "mood"; also delete silly Post-post scripts about former CS buddies ... and definitely remove the ramblings about my zipping back and forth to London at a pace allowing me to look in on the Internet caff, pose as customer in need of help blah blah ... record it for YouTube et al ... all total silliness and, except that I had no booze around, I'd've assumed I was blotto when I penned that.
I might actually have been politer if I *had* been on the sauce, yeah?
Ref guarding camera from lite-fingered Subs staff: I don't believe I ever ate there. I'd walk the 12 minutes from the flat, mail whatever i had for the girls and then sidle over to the NetCaff.
I've worked in too many of those instant fooderies to feel comfortable gnawing into their product. I can believe that's what they themselves call their 'product' - eeuuww. And the pong pervades the Net stations.
Well, what an interesting post this turned out. When next over in Blighty, I must peek in on M'sieur Caretaker, if I dare. Speaking of next time in the UK, isnt this Terminal 2 an absolute farce? And I bet it'll be none the better even by 2012's Olympics.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
knightsbridge march 14
back a week and just beginning to feel acclimatised.
london wonderful and i keep ogling my well dressed countrymen: the gents all look like thrusting execs or eminences grises CEOs of venerable institutions by royal appointment.
none of my stuff has arrived, incl my HTML bks so i'm prevented fancying my posts up with silly typefaces and my usual bells and whistles. good discipline.
to boot, im not at all used to the laptop's small keyboard so am intolerant of anything wordy or not of interest to myself, another relief for any readers out there. plus, the brit keyboard has a few keys - like the @ sign - placed elsewhere, further hampering my lighting fingers.
snapping fotos like galore which im' posting to flickr whenever the one insecure wi fi out there behaves itself, which is not often. longest stretch was last friday so i suspect i am in the land of the weekly (and weakly) wired.
spent weekend with with country cousins in deepest Ramsbury in the depths of Wiltshire. I'd feared it built up and ruined but not a bit.
as i type, my fotos arent up but when they are: The big house with the cedars is no longer in the family but the coach house is.
Wonderful time - no internet anywhere and stern looks of disapproval at its very mention. I tramped the countryside til all cobwebs were obliterated. Bracing weather.
the queens english: All manner of glottal sounds coming from my countrymen but am surprised to find that a posh clipped accent such as mine of the old school still commands respect and alert service.
I find I have a fiery cousinette several times removed - what would she be? daughter of the daughter of the sister of my father's brother. Same age and feisty Brit equiv of The Spitfire. My intro to her was sipping a sherry with her parents when from the floor above came *the* almighty clatter of skilful drumming and clashing of high hats. Went up to say hi and there she was behind a full kit, whupping hell out of the skins.
Rural heist: one of the fotos is of Ramsbury Manor, the long shot of a stately pile across the lake etc. Owned by property tycoon recluse Harry Hyams and very recently burgled of £millions of art treasures. Drama in the wolds.
Bus travel: a delight, plus they DO still have the old doubledeckers with the open rear end for hopping on at opportune moments.
bus stops at the west end have LED indicators of how long til yr bus is due, updated every 5 seconds and highly erratic. last night my bus was 3 mins then 6 mins then 4 mins then 11 mins then 2 mins away. natch, even as i relaxed for the 2 mins, up it roared and i noticed just in time to hop on.
fares are a flat £1.50 and the driver gives change - but another caveat. some stops have machines tucked away where you put in exact change for the ticket. at *those* stops, you cannot offer cash and i had to descend, buy my automated ticket and await the *next* bus.
personal space: none of that rubbish here, thank gawd. londoners know that commuting is a contact sport and buffet and brush against each other with nary a murmur. One practically has to draw blood or send someone's shopping tumbling across Oxford Street before uttering a muted apology.
£1.50 for an hour's internet cafe work ($1.80 to the quid, aarrgghh) and they're full of australiennes writing home and pert-faced fillies surfing the shopping stores.
Scholars are all in uniform and stand giggling and jostling at the bus stops, passing round their cigs and joshing the opposite sex as is the wont of today's youth.
No use asking anyone the way, theyre all plugged into their iPods and deaf to the world.
TV as rubbishy as in the US. In fact, too much of it *is* from the US, hence the ghastly vocab one hears all around.
The Jerry Springer over here is a coffee-coloured lady called Trisha Sanders who does her best to hide her posh accent as she shepherds her victims into ever-more idiotic rants and indignations.
The participants havent quite got their act down to Jerry's hick victims but theyve been well coached and no doubt been shown clips from JS so they know how to misbehave.
But they share the same grotesqueness of the JS crowd and i was interested to note how i could accurately place the brit types whereas i was always at a slight loss with the rural types in the US shows.
I need now track down our equiv of the saintèd doc phil.
movies: all the stuff i saw with anna is only now coming over here. Current promos are for that "failure to raunch" movie with buff matt mcconna-wotsit and the unfortunately over-proboscised sara jessica 'varker.
politics: Coverage of course of what's going on over there with y'all and in Iraq etc, but minimal coverage or visual torture of portrayals of the gnome who is regarded as worse than ineffectual and whose simian features and halting delivery of his scripts must be kept to a minimum lest the nation rise up and refuse to renew their TV licences.
music: not heard of any of the current pop groups save for Arctic Monkeys, but my knowledge of the hip hop aristocracy is current thanks to the Spitfire which impressed my young cousinette no end.
tempus fugit: I see old pals everywhere but have given up hailing them after realising that they're all 20 years younger than the originals. how come i'm the only one not have aged a jot?
recycling: each floor in this block has a chute into which we shove our rubbish. for the comfort of residents, we're asked to do it between hours of 9-7:30. i asked about bottles - same. As a result, the foundations rock with the jangle of empties. i'm beginning to discern the sounds of champagne bottles from the vodka, scotch from the campari.
Ms Julie: just as i decide to end this particular post, thru the letter box comes a lovely card from Milady of the Seedlings and Sprouts. So thoughtful. Such a classy lady, such a classy family. One of the aspects of BI I'll truly miss.
OK, that's all for now on life across the Pond.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Trapped at 130mph
the big story today ... bloke whose BMW accelerator jammed.
Friday, March 10, 2006
who needs b'band with wi fi around?
in london 58 hrs, amazing. must post fotos and add captions later.
seattle-chicago-LHR flight interrupted by ailing fart going ill over the atlantic n needing turning back to newfoundland to unload. hitherto silent blond hottie neighbor turned chattie etc.
*3* separate parties on touch down. groan.
next day walked round old haunts n got quite weepy. bad emotional exercise. went back to where i lived 1965-1980, where i walked home each day, usually having affected some content in nat newspaper, radio or TV. walked same streets and observed todays young masters/maitresses of the universe. the old are invisible, not a glance. but i was glancing everywhere and all the confident striding laffing dudes were ME. talk about a lesson in time passing.
smoking : believe nothing about wimpo anti smokes ruling. all cool places have ashtrays n the best pubs have large signs in window about air filters etc and smoking totally ok.
more anon ...
Monday, March 06, 2006
I'd've run this just for the Guardian's fab title, but it's a pretty good article in itself.
"Once they hoped to die before they got old, but no longer - sixtysomethings are back at the top of the charts.
Tim de Lisle explains why the wrinklies just keep on rocking ..."
What bliss to be returning to a country where age and low-down cunning is recognised as now and then stealing a march over the irritable young.
I look forward to filing reports from the front of my own progress in this worthy underhand cause.