Thursday, February 26, 2009

Scottish bar stool for Scots who wear a kilt

The Scots, it seems, who are an immensely practical and canny nation, have long been proud of their traditions. However, for many of those who habitually wore a kilt, sitting on a stool at the bar could often become a little uncomfortable, so one enterprising Scot came up with a bespoke stool for those who go drinking in their kilts. Here is a picture of one of the first to be produced:

Sexy accents — there's at least one for all of us. These are mine

Apropos nothing at all, I was walking out of the office yesterday and walked past one of the temps who is standing on for the specialists' secretary. She was talking on the phone and had a Northern Ireland accent. And that gives me the opportunity, dear readers, to inform you just how sexy I find the Northern Ireland accent. It does things for me. I could listen to a woman with a Northern Ireland accent all day long. And if we were in bed together, I would encourage her to talk, talk, talk. Another, equally as potent accent, is the Lancashire accent. She, too, would be implored by me to talk, talk, talk.
Now I must go and lie down.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Going to the dogs — one down-and-out's view

I took my daughter and her friend to Plymouth last Friday. She wanted to buy Babyliss curling tongs, look at clothes and get presents for her mother's birthday. I made sure they had a mobile phone, then let them loose shop and roam on their own. They are 12 going on 13, and who wants to hang around with Dad? They don't. Left to my own devices, I, too, roamed a little, and once I had spotted the first shop which was closing down and had taken a photo (on my mobile phone, would you believe) I immediately noticed 10, 20 more and got the idea for this. I first uploaded it to YouTube, but I couldn't use the song, Steely Dan's version of East St Louis Toodle-oo by Duke Ellington because it is under copyright. So the YouTube version has Debussy as its soundtrack — you can find it here — — but I think this works far better with the Steely Dan track. That version is here:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Elsie takes to the kitchen ...

Today my daughter Elsie is planning to cook my wife's birthday meal, and what she lacks in experience, she certainly makes up for in enthusiasm. Getting the necessary ingredients for the meal has so far taken two shopping trips and just now a third up to the village to get some strong white flour.
On the menu are Potato and Leek Soup with homemade rolls, Pasta with Tomato and Basil, and for pudding Fresh Fruit Salad with Cream or something called Sticky Mud Pie.
Elsie is preparing it all with her best friend Ruth and Ruth came shopping with us yesterday on our second trip. The financial damage so far — and quite how I have yet to discover — is about £40. At first Elsie and Ruth planned to offer two soups and two main courses — Tomato Soup and Roast Chicken were also to be on the menu — but I persuaded her that less is often more and she might be taking on too much.
Here is a short video of the two shopping.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Young, old, under the knife or just a sucker for pills - we all die some time.

By the way, when I went to Google images to dig out a piccy of Tchaikovsky, I came across quite a few of the man, and one (or it might have been on another website) of the man as a lad in his late teens or early 20s. It is always fascinating to compare piccies of people at different ages, seeing a picture of someone you know as an old biddy and realising "Christ, she was a cracker when she was younger".
When I think of myself - and I'me sure this is true of you, too, I see, in my mind's eye, a chap who is at least 15 years younger than I am now. And when I catch sight of myself in a shop window, accidentally that is, not consciously preparing myself for the mirror experience in order to comb my hair or something, I am always disappointed that I look like such and old fuck.
C'est la vie, or more truthfully, c'est la mort. (Is death feminine in French?)

Peter Tchaikovsky, Don Ameche, a first piano concerto and why snobs of all stripes are a waste of space

Why do so many classical music lovers look down on Tchaikovsky? Not everyone, by any means, but an unfortunate and unfortunately large number of musical snobs regard his music as easy, candyfloss, that kind of thing. They regard an admission of liking his music as a kind of innocence, a lack of sophistication, the mark of a man who is not wholly serious about music.
Well, in describing them as 'snobs' I shall indicated what I think of such self-regarding prats. Should the worth of a composer really be judged on how 'tuneful' he is or not? Does apparent cacophony (and here I am thinking of what I'm told orchestral players often refer to as 'squeaky gate music', the allusion being obvious) mark out the 'worthwhile composer' whereas those who come up with music which one can whistle or sing along to are to be written off as second-rate? I should bloody well hope not, but to hear some people speaking of poor Tchaikovsky you would think so. A typical criticism is that his music is 'vulgar and lacking in elevated thought'. Dear soul, lacking in elevated thought - what a crime.
Well, I'm not one of them. Between the ages of nine and 13, I lived in Berlin and in all that time I attended German schools, first Die Steubenschule in Berlin-Charlottenburg down the road from where we live (it was a short tram journey away down the Heerstraße), then, from Easter 1960, I went to Das Canisius Kolleg, a Jesuit secondary school in Berlin-Tiergarten near the Siegessäule and the Brandenburg Gate. The German schoolday runs six days a week from 8/8.30/9am in the morning until 1pm, so I would get home for just before two, have lunch, then sit down to do my homework. And part of that routine was switching on my transistor radio and tuning into AFN and listening to the Don Ameche Pop Concert (as I think it was called), which began with the opening of Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto in B Flat minor and a very lovely piece of music it is, too.
The trouble, of course, or, at least, the trouble for the musical snobs, is that Tchaikovsky's music is memorable, hummable, tuneful and generally, to use a rather cliched term, accessible. And we really can't have that, can we? Good Lord, no. If we sophisticates are to stand out from the hoi polloi, we must not only be, but must be seen to be more rarefied than your ordinary Joe. I mean, really.
That concerto is a great way to get a child interested in classical music, to lead him or her in gently, so to speak. If you want to turn them off for life, just play them anything by Schönberg. That will do the trick. Of course, the other great introduction is Prokifiev's Peter and The Wolf. And by the by, I caught his Third Symphony on the radio driving down from London the other night and rather liked it.
A word to snobs of every stripe: get to fuck.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And earlier that night . . .

This footage was taken at the Mall Galleries on The Mall in London. (For those who know London, the Admiralty Arch is one end, Buckingham Palace the other. Not that that is in any way relevant.) I had arranged to meet an old schoolfriend there, and he suggested the Mall Galleries because his son's girlfriend, a fashion photography student was, with her classmates, holding an exhibition there. Next door was similar exhibition of students on a course of fashion journalism (which to this cynic is just another, albeit more imaginative way of parting suckers from their money, in this case an even more reprehensible act in that these suckers are even younger.)

15/2/09 UPDATE: Above is a new and improved version of the video, with all the bells and whistles which make an exercise in pointlessness so worthwhile. It is grandly - rather too grandly - entitled Significance, solely because there is none. NB I don't appear in it at all, mainly because I am the chap doing the filming. I suppose I could have made sure I appeared by filming a mirror, but there were no mirrors and, anyway, just what would be the point?

A vision in blue for those unaccustomed to the ethereal beauty of London's Underground railway system (i.e. video footage taken at Victoria).

As title. What else is there to say? Except that all is nought, one is one, and one and one are two. After that, as far as the maths is concerned, you are on your own. What do you think I am, a charity?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What exactly is attraction and why are/aren't we attracted against the odds?

I have at least one reader who takes an interest in these things, so I thought I might touch upon attraction. What is it? How reliable is it? Can it come and go?
There are lots of aspects to the question 'what is attraction', not least something which has puzzled me for years: how come you can think a woman is good-looking, i.e. 'attractive', and yet not feel attracted to her? And how come you can feel immensely attracted to a woman, so much that jumping into bed immediately wouldn't be soon enough, yet you don't at all think her good-looking and, well, attractive? It really is puzzling.
I find all sorts of things about a woman attractive: a voice, a way of smiling, hips, shoulders, a way of walking, a manner. And, conversely, there are quite a few things which can turn me off - just read the above list. Sometimes, you can find a woman immenselyb attractive, and then she will do something such as laugh - and that laught is such a turn-off, you wonder where your senses were.
I find intelligence in a woman attactive - not a turn-on - and I do mean intelligence, independent thought, not the ability flawlessly to regurgitate something by someone else. (NB For me a sure guide that someone is not particularly bright, or at least rather less bright than they fondly think they are, is if they use that deathless phrase - and believe it - when talking about themselves: 'Intelligent people like us.' Irrespective of the implied flattery - that is, you, the listener, are included in the group of 'intelligent people' - you almost always - no, always - find that the boast never actually stacks up, and you are obliged to ready yourself for a long, long litany of intellectual cliche.
Being attracted, and then no longer being attracted (and we are here talking physcial attraction throughout), is thoroughly disconerting but it does happen, and it can lead to some embarrassing situations.
Then there is the odd sensation of being vastly attracted - and wanting quite badly to do something about it - to someone you really don't like. Strange.
One danger worth mentioning, which many couples often discover rather late in the day and to their costs, is that attraction does not say anything about compatibility. If we are attracted to someone and look about for the nearest bed, couch or even grass knoll under a shade tree, the only thing we can say with any certainty is that we are attracted to that person. It says nothing - although we often think it does - about a glorious future together till death us do part. Yet I wonder how many people have mistaken attraction for such eternal love? Far too many I should imagine. Not that I am any wiser on that matter than anyone else. It is always so difficult to take your own advice.
A joke to see you on your way, which is, at least tenuously, linked to attraction:

Q. What is the difference between a fox and a dog?

A. About 10 Barcardi breezers.

Boom, boom.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Elsie and Wesley, my daughter and son

These two pictures were both taken several years ago. My daughter was then about seven and is now 12, and my son was then about two and is now 9. But these are two of my favourite photos and I have them on my computer at work.

Elsie, whose Chinese animal sign is the Rat, and as far as I can tell, she seems to be a typical Rat. In Western astrology she is a Leo, and she seems to be typical of that sign, too. Not that I believe in any of that silly nonsense.

And Wesley, whose Chinese animal sign is the Rabbit and who also, from what I know, seems to share the characteristics attributed to that sign by the Chinese. His Western sign is Gemini, and I do feel there are noticeable Gemini traits in his personality. Not that I believe in any of that nonsense. What me, a sceptical Scorpio? Pah!

Elsie was named after my grandmother and Wesley was named after my wife's grandfather.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The burning question - a short film for fidgetty Phyllis (such a girl, what would we do without her?)

Something to keep you amused while you are waiting.

(And in today's Italy v England Six Nations international, the Italians are tackling well, though losing badly. They almost just scored now. And since writing that, they just have. All four of England's tries came from Italians mistakes, and England are hopeless. I look forward to Italy, who play well and with passion, finally winning a few games. By the way, since when was Gary Mclean an Italian name. It is now.)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Something for the weekend, sir?

Well, you wanted something a little more lighthearted, so how about this? Remember I was telling you about seaside postcards and all that? I love them, and have quite a few which I dig out every so often. They sum people up better than almost anything I know, and to keep my reader happy, they are not even cynical, just saucy.

But what's wrong with a bit of sauce between friends, I ask you. Nothing. The song is a very early Kinks song. If you like it, try Beautiful Delila and one of my favourites, Long Tall Shorty.
(Shame you can't read the captions so well at this size and for those who appreciate something bigger - so to speak - go to where you will surely be more satisfied.)

A few more words of explanation...

The email given at the top of this blog refers to an 'another287' rather than 'pfgpowell'. That is the last remnant of the original plan to launch a anonymous blog. At school when the names of teams were posted, if the 12th man (in a game of cricket) or the sub in a game of rugby had not yet been decided, he was listed as A.N.Other - 'another'. Geddit?
So here 'another' was due to stand for 'everyman'. However, what with 9 billion people in the world, of which apparently 8 billion are now Google subscribers, the email '' was taken. So I have resorted to 'another287' as my name. The '287' was my number at school I would change it back to pfgpowell for this blog, but unfortunately Google's system won't let me in as far as although that account has now been deleted, the name 'pfgpowell' is now 'unavailable'. Just thought I would clear that up for those who dislike loose ends.
Coming up: why Sweet Peas aren't 'peas' at all, and who put the hole in doughbuts. Be back right after this word from my sponsor. (Cue cheesy ad music.)

PS For the sentimentalists...

I have decided on a new (and as they say in PR handouts for new washing powders) 'exciting' photo to grace this blog. But just so you don't feel left out, here is the piccy which graced the old one, taken in my garden last spring and, although I am sitting in the kitchen, not 20ft from where I am now.

And as I have just discovered that I can stick quote marks around, well, quotes, here are two of my favourites:
Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own; which is the chief reason for that kind of reception it meets in the world, and that so very few are offended with it.
That is by Jonathan Swift. This is by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who responded to an attack on her by Alexander Pope (all 4ft of him):
Satire should, like a polish'd Razor keen, Wound with a Touch, that's scarcely felt or seen.
The verse goes on, the important bit to put Pope (all 4ft of him in his place)
Thine is an Oyster-Knife, that hacks and hews; The Rage, but not the Talent of Abuse.

Late-night cock-up compounded by ever more desperate attempts to remedy situation creates even bigger cock-up

The title says it all, really, so is there any need to go into the trivia. Well, of course there isn't, so here you will get chapter and verse.

So far I have one reader, or rather I am only aware of having one reader (by name of Kate). A day or two ago, in the course of a discussion it seemed to me that she, an American, regarded me, a Brit, as one of those 'buttoned-up limeys' who feature so heavily in Hollywood imagination (or what passes for imagination in Hollywood).

Naturally, I think that is cobblers, though I shall admit to being a little more private and reserved than some you might come across in the drunken queue for a Friday night kebab (known throughout Britain as the most reliable source of high-grade e-colu anywhere).

Then the thought struck me that it might be worthwhile to start a second, utterly anonymous blog in which I could record and reveal absolutely anything I wanted to record and reveal. So I set about doing so, only to find that once it had been set up, with an anonymous 'googlemail' email address and all, that it was intricately linked to my first blog, which rather blew the concept of anonymity right out of the water - my profile for the anonymous blog was identical to the profile for the 'pfgpowell' blog.

So, dear reader, this will have to serve as Part II of my personal blog and I shall resurrect the idea of an anonymous blog along the lines I had conceived if I can be arsed after all this pfaffing around, which, you might have gathered, is by no means certain.

Happy Easter.

A new start (unfortunately) after a semi-technical hitch

(See above). This seems to be a continuation of the cocking-up at which I am becoming so adept. BTW 'Cock-up' is not a semi-obscene phrase referring to the most important part of a man's anatomy, but a nautical term referring to a 'cock' which was something to do with the rigging. If you want to know what or any more, I suggest you go an bother your nearest neighbourhood bore, because that is the limit of my knowledge, overheard a week or two ago on a radio programme.