Well fancy seeing you here...

Hello and welcome to the rambling rollercoaster of useless ponderings, strung together in what the internet calls a "blog," and the voices call a waste of everyone elses time.

Please check your sanity at the door (along with your dignity, logic, principles, good taste and prejudices against daftness.)

"I am here to seduce you into a love of life; to help you to become a little more poetic; to help you die to the mundane and to the ordinary so that the extraordinary explodes in your life." -Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Eurovision: Should Have Gone To Specsavers

This week was Eurovision week!

That exclamation mark is ironic, by the way, as the event was anything but worthy of acclaim. The contest has always been ridiculous - and was celebrated as such - but now the European eccentricity has given way entirely to a calculated political parade. The astonishing blend of lunacy and national pride has been replaced by sly allegiances and an almost schoolyard-clique approach to voting for ones neighbours and allies. Any element of competition that may once have existed has now been tamed by greater political aspirations. I imagine the newer, less powerful EU countries dolling themselves up like the new-girl in the office, nervously dropping compliments to the longstanding players so they might have someone to sit with in the canteen. (Though if Bosnia Herzegovina gets drunk at the after-party and photocopies its arse, while Armenia and Sweden have a fumble in the toilets then the next EU summit G8, might need more than Bob Geldof taking a stroll to keep the peace. Thank God Columbia wasn't there; just look at the bad press Kate Moss got for their national hobby!)

Our act was mediocre: entertaining, inoffensive and non-threatening as many of our higher-placing entries have been in the past (think Cliff Richard singing 'Congratulations,' or Bucks Fizz, or Lulu.) The fate of Andy Abraham was decided in Parliament however, long before he stepped onto the Eurovision stage, and his joint-second-to-last ranking in the competition supported this unfortunate prediction.

The winning act was a Russian singer who sells out stadiums in his home nation, and so is a more accomplished performer with a larger base of supporting fans than former talent-show runner-up Abraham. Top-ten acts this year included the gloriously naff Latvian pirates - who represented a little of the old Eurovision - and were endearingly camp and ingenuously appalling. Other acts attempted to be subversive, ironic and mocking of the whole Eurovision tradition - which sullies the memory of the formerly good-natured bonkers-music-fest, where Europe could exhibit it's nutters on an international stage without upsetting Amnesty International.

Terry Wogan's commentary was humorously sardonic and derisive as always, and is really the only remaining reason to suffer three hours of sequinned circus showcasing. Whether he will return to the event next year is uncertain, as after 37yrs he is tiring of the change for the worse. This will also have been the first year where he could predict - purely politically - who would win. He was convinced that with the fuel and energy crises, and other political instabilities, a Baltic state would scoop first place and he was proven correct.

The complexities of modern media have seen me reaching back to entertainment from simpler times, and I have a renewed appreciation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I reference him occasionally because he had ties to Portsmouth, but have been reading a little about his life, and how the last few years of it were given over to an unfortunate regard for the supernatural, un-tempered by his previous scepticism.

I remember years and years ago first watching a documentary about the Cottingly Fairies (I think it might have been on those Arthur C Clarke video's, actually, which may be why I get the two Arthur C's confused.) The younger of the two girls involved - by then an elderly woman - was being interviewed, and said that they had traced images of dancing angels or cherubs from a prayer-book, and drawn wings on them before cutting them out and attaching them to hatpins - so that once placed in the ground thy would flutter realistically. They took five photographs, but I think only admitted to faking four of them, and insisted that they did initially see fairies. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was duped by their 'evidence,' along with much of the country, and referenced them in several publications - helping increase the fame of their fictional imps and gnomes.

The Cottingly Fairies

However, the most glorious piece of information that came to my attention regarding the author - and the thing for which I will love him forevermore - is the tale of a little prank he played.

The anecdote suggests that one day he sent a telegram reading: "Flee at once. All is discovered," to five of his friends - just to see what they would do. All of them were outwardly upstanding members of the community and gentlemen of merit, but one of them vanished, never to be heard from again! Conan Doyle has no idea why his friend disappeared, but surmised that even the best of men have secrets.

I adore things like that! It was mischievous of him, yes, but was a rather benign prank - made more out of curiosity than malice. Though his friends' guilty conscience complicated matters far more than predicted, it was his intrigue at human nature that lead him to write the note, and his disregard for everything right and proper that persuaded him to send it! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle achieved a lot, but I will remember him most fondly for that amusing little telegram, and for taking seriously Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths' photographs of 'fairies.'

The only other notable moment of this week was the discovery that I cannot spell Piranha's (see, I just had to look it up then, and then I made a cup of tea and had to look it up a second time because I had forgotten it again.) So I have renamed them "Snappy-Bitey-Fish." I have also decided that I hate Wikipedia, because well-meaning people edit all the nonsense out of it.

There is nothing as useless as fact.

Well... Except for Boris Johnson.

(...Or having midget shelf-stackers in Tesco's)

(..Or maybe a chocolate ironing board.)

Okay, so there are lots of things more useless than fact - but few less interesting things to find on an internet web-page about Pir-... Pira-... Pirhana-... Snappy-Bitey-Fish.

The End. And I didn't mention socks once (well, not more than the once that they have just been mentioned right there.) You'll not find this superior quality drivel anywhere else of the whole inter-web-netty-cyber-thing.

Monday, 19 May 2008

A Childhood Memoir of Alien Parsley

"Alien Threat To Truffle Delicacy."

That was the title of a BBC News article today. The BBC is misleading. I read it fully expecting to hear that we had not only been contacted by extra-terrestrial life forms whilst I slept: but that they had been taken to our leader and had told the Queen that they were going to exterminate ostentatious fungi. It was nothing of the sort; it was just an article about a non-native species of truffle that is threatening the growth of the Perigord species more commonly found on European soil.

Thus, I began today disappointed.

Things looked just as uninspiring when I heard that scientists have launched facial-recognition software in China to try and prevent underage teenager from purchasing tobacco products with fake identification. The machines are designed to analyse wrinkles and skin sacks to estimate age. The BBC Health correspondent seemed quite positive about this idea, so I must be the only one who thinks this technology to be useless. It is scientifically proven that smoking cigarettes causes premature ageing - so people are going to look old enough to buy fags even if they are not! Especially as so many teenagers are addicted to tanning salons and sun-beds. That also causes skin damage, which would indicate age beyond their years. So thirteen tear-olds would probably qualify for a bus pass, not just cigarettes.

Today was made much more interesting when I saw this: Snackerjack a very cool video of a snake in an Indian zoo that had swallowed a deer whole and was too heavy to move.

I was listening to Morrissey's album 'You Are The Quarry' today and it had me wondering how his future live performances of the song 'America Is Not The World' will vary if either Barrack Obama or Hilary Clinton win the US Presidential election. Particularly the lyric:

"In America, the land of the Free, they say
the land of opportunity / in a Just and Truthful way.
But where the president
is never black, female or gay
and until that day
you've got nothing to say to me / to help me believe."

If the president is indeed 'black or female' as appears to be the choice, then will that mean that Morrissey is on speaking terms with America? Or will he choose to ignore America for a bit longer to see if America will buckle and text him first? He can be quite a contrary Mary when he wishes to be. That's not a reference to Morrissey's ambiguous sexuality, merely a comment on his recalcitrant demeanour by means of a play on a nursery rhyme. If he is indeed as gay as everyone believes him to be in the worlds-most-open-secret, then he should run in the next election and destroy his song completely upon Uncle Sam landing the hat trick. (If it's not as open a secret as I thought it was, then now you know - but really, if you weren't already aware of it then you are probably the sort of character who could end up as Mayor of London.)

I have just heard on the news that Obama looks as though he will win in Oregon. That always makes me think of oregano, and then tarragon, and then 'Mr Onion and The Chives' from the children's animated TV series 'The Herbs,' by Michael Bond. (Who was the creator of Paddington Bear.) I loved Parsley the Lion, because he was cute but very droll and ironic. He didn't speak, but his thoughts were narrated. The secret word that opened the door to the the garden was the distinctly 70's sounding "herbidacious."

The Herbs: (From top rigt: Parsley the Lion, Dill the Dog, Sage the Owl. Bottom from right: Mr Onion, The Chives, Tarragon the Dragon.)

I had to try and write some information down today whilst on the phone, and after finally discovering a notepad amid the clutter, I realised that I couldn't find a pen. This is unremarkable in itself, but I am always losing pens. I don't know where they all go, but there is never one to hand no matter how many I buy. If I had Hyperthymesia then I might be able to remember where I put them all. Hyperthymesia, or 'Hyperthymestic Syndrome,' is the rare medical condition that has been attributed to an American woman called Jill Price, who can remember almost every single day since she was fourteen. Hyperthymestics can remember events they have personally experienced, or had emotional reactions to. For example: she knows what she had for tea on the day that Charles married Diana, and what colour dress she was wearing on the day Elvis was found dead. I can't even remember where I left a Bic biro. (Blatant product placement there, in case anyone from bic wants to send me a lifetimes supply. I need them. The same goes for Berol and Pentel, please. Damn, now I've cancelled it out. Rules of advertising say you have to give three examples to avoid granting a company preferential treatment. I'll just have to go to Woolworth's tomorrow. I wish we still had a John Menzies in the High Street.)

I have also discovered a newfound appreciation of the phrase 'curiosity killed that cat,' only I have a slight amendment to the alley-cat allegory. I think the cat learned of a secret, and got so frustrated with knowing that there was something it didn't know, that it either committed suicide out of frustration, or was murdered for discovering the truth (though this option is only likely if it either lived in Midsummer, or near Gil Grissom in Vegas.)

Let's hope that Kat's are studier creatures with a few more lives. Otherwise this could be the last entry. In which case: the butler did it, in the library with a candlestick! (...But it was to an un-named Royal and the case was dropped.)

I leave you in the company of Parsley the Lion.


Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Teenage Mutant Gemmological Hayfever

Today I finally completed the work I have been doing on a pair of 14k yellow gold kunzite earrings. I have been determined to prove my worth as a designer of fine jewellery (progressing from simply fashion) by not only developing a broad gemmological knowledge but immersing myself in all aspects of the trade. I'm only really a keen amateur, and all my education in the field has been autodidactic. In that tradition I have now taught myself the basics of working with gold, and gem setting. These earrings are the first collection for which I have been solely responsible - from conception to completion - and I'm quite pleased with them. Usually my 'hands on' involvement ends once the designs are finished, so it was nice to have the opportunity to actually create the finished item myself. They're not perfect, but neither are they a bad first attempt.

The stones are 12.5mm x 8.1mm oval cut Brazilian Kunzites - totalling a little over 8ct (carats) for the pair - and all the findings (chain, jump-rings and leverback/eurowire fittings) are all 14 karat yellow gold.

As you can see, I have also sourced two larger oval-cut stones so that - in time - I may design the suite (Earrings, pendant, ring.) The medium-sized 12ct stone is 15.5mm x 10.4mm x 10mm - which makes it quite a deep stone, and will necessitate a design that incorporates a high gallery to accommodate the stone from girdle to culet; girdle being the circumference of the stone at it's widest point, before it begins to taper to the tip or 'culet,' pronounced 'queue-lay.'

I am quite excited about the largest stone, however, as it is a gorgeous 32ct piece that was very difficult to get hold of. I made the purchase more as a collector than a designer, as it was too good an opportunity to pass up. It's not the highest-grade kunzite, and as such does not display quite the same superior spectrum of colour, clarity and refractive properties that I'd expect from a better quality (but phenomenally more expensive) stone.

This is the gemmology-geek bit:

Kunzite is one of my favourite gemstones, both to wear and to work with because it has exceptional clarity, exhibits unique phosphorescent qualities, and will fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light. Often referred to as 'the evening gemstone' kunzite will appear to glow when taken from sunlight into a darkened room. Kunzite is the pink variety of Spodumene, which is normally pale yellow in colour, though the green variety is often referred to as Hiddenite. All display the same silvery flashes within the gem when cut well: the pink variety derives its colour from lithium and trace amounts of manganase, the yellow is caused by iron, and the rare green Hiddenite form is due to trace amounts of chromium.

Lapidary (gemstone cutting/polishing) is something I'd like to move into, but I cannot do so without proper training. Kunzite is very difficult to cut because it has near perfect gem cleavage (splits easily, not whatever you were thinking) and requires precise alignment by the cutter because when viewed from different angles it will display flashes of silver, violet and sometimes colourlessness. This multi-coloured-ness is what we call 'pleochroism.' (Another particularly pleochroic gem is Tanzanite - another Tiffany gem and favourite of mine - which exhibits blue, violet, hot pink and brown colours at differing angles.) Kunzite is not terrible difficult to work with because it is only 7 on the Moh's scale, which is the scale developed to measure hardness. Talc is at the lowest end, and diamond at the highest. The scale for gemstones is generally considered to be out of 10, but was extended to 15 for inclusion of new fused metals. Either way, a score of 7 is generally considered practical for everyday jewellery providing it is cared for. It is advisable to remove kunzite jewellery if spending long periods of time in direct sunlight (ie, sunbathing) as it's colour can bleach if overexposed.

Kunzite was discovered in Connecticut, possibly as early as 1877, but the first commercially available deposit of any quality wasn't found until 1902 in California. The first gemmology expert to give a comprehensive description of it (and therefore recognise it as a new gemstone) was gem-hunter George Frederick Kunz whilst he was working as Tiffany's chief gemmologist. Legend has it that he'd been assigned the job of finding a new variety of gem for businessman and financier J P Morgan, who was in turn funding the expedition. When Professor Kunz discovered Kunzite, he was so enamoured with it that he was happy for it to be named after himself, and had to find another gem for his client. (Kunz did so shortly, and the Morganite he found in the same Californian mine is very similar to Kunzite in appearance, though often has a slightly peachy tone to it's colour, and has a very different chemical composition.) For years Kunzite was only available through Tiffany's, as they held complete control over the gemstone's license. Today the majority of pale pink Kunzite is found in the Minas Geras region of Brazil, and also Afghanistan, USA and Madagascar. There is a new mine of Patroke Kunzite currently available, which is much more violet in colour than average quality Kunzite, and displays stronger pleochroic characteristics as a result of it's quality.

Kunzite is also purported by healers to bestow inner peace upon those who wear it, and relieve stress and anxiety. It is also said to enhance understanding and increase a person's capacity for devotion. It is also believed to be a protective gem.

The most famous Kunzite stone in of current times is the large 52ct pear cut stone that comprises the centrepiece of Damian Hirst's recent work, the diamond-encrusted platinum skull. There was a lot of controversy surrounding this piece when it was first exhibited, but I love it for the very audaciousness that has seen it criticised. The juxtaposition of fragile human life with the strength of gemstones that have weathered millennia with their brilliance is both a striking statement, a profound nod to the brutality of beauty, and an exaggeration of the transience of life. In my opinion, at least. It's probably meant to be a comment on 'bling' culture and materialism, or giant sea snakes or something. (For 50m quid it can represent Heather Mills in her next divorce if it wants to!)

The £50,000,000 'For The Love of God' by Damian Hirst. (Almost 9000 flawless diamonds, costing £12m.)

(Am I the only one who thinks it looks like a Ziggy Stardust era Bowie?

Note: This information comes from a rather dubious source - me, at an insomniac 6:00am! I know I should check whether or not what I think I know is the same as actual fact, and cite sources of further information, but this isn't Wikipedia so instead just take it all with a pinch of salt. I'm not quite an expert... Yet. Enthusiast will do nicely for now though.

Not everything I did today was gemstone-centred (however, I have ordered a gorgeous greenish-blue emerald-cut quartz.) I also had to try and prevent the tortoise from destroying the garden, as she managed to get herself stranded on top of some grow-bags which were laying about until the plants arrive for the hanging baskets, then she spilt the dog's water-bowls all over the path before wedging herself between some flowerpots. We are the only people to have a tortoise that thinks it stands a chance of getting into the live-action version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Why did Shredder the Kung-Fu Master rat in that cartoon always wear a smoking jacket, even though he lived in a sewer? Where did he get a miniature smoking jacket from anyway?)

I couldn't get a Vicks plug-in to help the dog's summer-cold, and the Sudafed one I bought makes the cat sneeze. I had to unplug the sonic spider-deterrent to accommodate it anyway, which immediately made me paranoid about creepy-crawlies flocking toward the house like burglars to an open an un-alarmed patio-door. Judging by the size of the alien creature that practically mugged me in the kitchen at the weekend, the sonic-thingy doesn't work anyway.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Foot-Fetishism and Nonagenarian Neglect

The most magnificent thing that happened today was the purchase of a gorgeous new pair of toweringly-high heels, which have made me a little taller and therefore enhanced my usual delusions of grandeur.

The faux-fur amethyst-coloured throw I have on the bed makes it look like I've taken that photo from a foot-fetishist website, but I can't help that. It's also made me keenly aware of exactly how much I could use a tan. Even Snow White had more colour than me. I think I've spent so long in hibernation that I've started to lose skin pigment, and will eventually end up like those fish that live in the murkiest depths of the ocean and have become entirely transparent. (Now my head is filled with daft images of angler-fish in platforms, maybe I didn't take a long enough break from writing this blog after all!)

Apart from tottering around, learning how to walk at an increased altitude today, it's been an interesting week.

There was a little too much sport on TV this weekend, with football and then golf. Every time I switched on the television they were screening grass - I'm sure people were just watching it grow. I will watch the Pompey game next Saturday, though. I'd be strung up in the town centre if I didn't! There is also the compulsory 'Play Up Pompey' poster in the window, and I might even be persuaded to change the ringtone on my phone to our city's little ditty, for the few days leading up to the game.

The other thing we have had to do is put a bandanna on the dog, with some drops of Olbas Oil on it, because the hay-fever has given her a runny nose as well as sore eyes. She looks stupid - and refused to let me take a photograph to put here - so I have promised to get a Vicks Plug-In, instead of the bandanna.

In other news: I'm sure that the headline in the local paper tomorrow will read: "Local woman Kate Lawrence abandons nonagenarian Gertie in garden until 2am."

I should - at this juncture - tell you that Gertie is a tortoise, who we always bring in at night, but who I forgot on Saturday. I think that if you look on Google Earth, you'll be able to zoom in on me tottering around in the dark with a torch, trying not to look like a burglar. (Though how many burglars get caught wearing gold platforms and carrying a tortoise I don't know. If I caught a burglar like that, then I'd let him have the TV - but only if he let me have a photograph to put in the autobiography one day.)

To write an autobiography I will have to live a bit longer, but this appears less and less likely than I experience near heart-stopping moments of terror such as I have tonight. (I sometimes worry that I will cause this house to collapse, like Frank Spencer did in the last episode of 'Some Mothers Do Have 'Em.' The rest of the terrace will remain standing, but ours will fold in on itself, crumbling and tumbling because of something stupid I have done.) You see, this evening I was accosted by a spider so big it could take over the mortgage. This thing wasn't just large, it was gargantuan. It ran out from under the cooker (nearly dislodging it from the wall as it heaved its bulbous, hairy body under the metal frame,) and I should have just stepped on it, but I can't ever bring myself to kill them so directly. My rule of thumb is pretty much that: 'if I can count their eyes or feel them squish, then I am far too close.' So Instead I tried to hit it with a broom, but I had the kitchen light off so the glare didn't hurt the dogs' eyes - because they're still sore - so I couldn't quite see what I was doing. It didn't help that I was wielding a long-handled broom in a small galley kitchen whilst wearing these new six-inch platform heels - because it meant that I kept overbalancing. Nothing would have encouraged me to remove them though - not with that bloody great monstrous beastie nipping at my ankles. (I mean the spider, not the dog. I think the dog is smaller than that spider is anyway.)

I am not sure where my irrational hatred of spiders came from, but my grandmother dislikes them too, and so I think I picked up a lot of the anxiety from her. Once, a particularly large spider got into the house and she dropped a washing up bowl over it, then piled that two-foot high with books to weigh it down "so the spider wouldn't escape," before my grandfather got home from work and could deal with it. I'm not one of those people who shriek and scream when they see a spider, but I do shudder in a "someone just walked over my grave," sort of a way. Actually it's worse than that - it's a "someone just walked over my grave, had a picnic on it, did a bit of Riverdance and then let their dog pee on the tombstone," sort of shudder.

Now, there's really not any way that a twenty-something in stilettos and a halter-neck top can launch a hysterical attack on a spider with nothing but a sweeping brush, without looking like a parody of that show where they make Nicole Richie work on a farm. The only comfort is knowing that I am not quite as pathetically insect-phobic as former-Royal-Butler-come-Diana-circus-leech Paul Burrell, who made a complete fool of himself with his squeamish-ness on' I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here,' by whining and whimpering.

Because the enormous swine of an arachnid escaped me, I shall spend the next few days tiptoeing around the kitchen very suspiciously; expecting the spider to launch a vicious attack at any moment. It's not easy to make a cup of tea while trying to keep 360-degree lookout. I'll either scald myself or topple over. (I'm still not taking these shoes off yet though.)

Finally... I am aware this will interest few of you, and is a little more personal than the chaotic rambling I usually send out into cyber-space, but:

Archie Lawrence - my grandfather - and the man who taught me that it is better to aspire to be something, than remain apathetically content with anything.

11.5.1936 - 10.8.2006

Donate to the Roy Castle charity for Lung Cancer Research at: http://www.roycastle.org/involved/inv_donate.htm

God that's depressing. Why did the chicken cross the road? Because he was in America and the bus he wanted to chuck himself under was on the other side of the road.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Jesus-Duo and the Woodwind Giraffes

Despite planning a full week of nothing but sunshine and shopping, I am actually working tonight. I have had a design epiphany, and I must make the most of it. (Though trying to find antique lace patterns is proving tedious, I am undecided whether I want buffed marbled leather or something a little more distressed, and I still have not heard back from the company whose services I require for gold electro-plating.) Still, have pencils: will scribble!

I saw adverts this week for a programme called 'Jesus Camp' which follows Evangelists in America as they aim to indoctrinate children into becoming Fundamentalist Christians. It prompted discussion on cults, and how - if one is religious - you might distinguish between someone who is mad, and someone who really is being directed by God.

This reminded me of a story about my great-uncle. He worked as a psychiatric nurse for a few years in the 1950's, and during his service there, they had two patients in the asylum who believed that they were Jesus, son of God.

These fellows of the 'Second Coming' were both unwaveringly certain that they were reincarnations of Jesus Christ, so you'd think that they might make an antagonistic pairing, right? Two people both claiming to be Jesus? Well, they never did. Instead - because each was convinced that he was the genuine Christ (and the other man was a poor lunatic) - they forgave each other. Man A took pity on Man B, and vice versa. They would spend all day with each praying for the other man's soul - both believing that they could heal the other.

Popbitch told me today that:

"Giraffes were thought to be mute, but this is not true. They can hiss, snort, and make strange flute-like noises. They also only sleep for a few minutes per day."

Flute-like noises?! I have been to Longleat (and have a certificate to say that I got lost in the huge maze) and I did not once hear a giraffe mimicking a reed instrument. No one I have asked today has ever heard a giraffe making woodwind noises, and this worries me. If they are indeed communicating like this, then when are they doing it, and why? As they only sleep for a few minutes per day, I can only assume their tuneful communications are taking place at night. I don't like the idea that giraffes have a hidden-agenda. It's the same reason I am uncomfortable with Elephants painting.

Animals are getting too creative; Giraffes monopolising the woodwind section of the Royal Orchestra, Elephants filling every wall at the Tate - what next? Will Lions start reciting poetry? "Even if a lion could talk, we would not understand him." - Ludwig Wittgenstein. (I learned that quote from Ricky Gervais, but it always sounds clever, and I shall one day improve myself with a little philosophy. As soon as I am done wrangling with the general living of life, I will take pause to really think about it. I am interested in his philosophies of the mind - and despite accusations of obscurantism I would like to read more of his philosophies of language - but the pages of Wittgenstein's main work: the philosophy of logic and mathematics 'Tractatus,' are far too high-brow to ever caress my bookmark.)

Anyway, back to the important thing: even if lions did write unfathomable verse, it would probably still sell. Thirty-five works by William McGonagall have been offered for sale this week under a guide price of £4,500-£6,500 - which is more than first editions of Harry Potter or James Bond. This is astonishing because McGonagall is renowned as being the 'Worlds Worst Poet." I always thought that the worlds worst poet worked for Hallmark. It's rather heartening to know that even terrible poems will sell for such a large sum, as it gives me hope that I'll eventually get enough work together for an anthology of my own. I will just have to learn how to write truly dreadful rhyme, and I can step into McGonagalls shoes and utilise the readily-available audience (and hopefully relieve them the burden of their thousands of pounds.) I first paid any attention to William McGonagall because his middle name is 'Topaz.' That is probably the most interesting thing about him.

A notoriously awful poem by William Topaz McGonagall denoting the Tay Bridge Disaster.

The Tay Bridge Disaster
William Topaz McGonagall (1879)

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

'Twas about seven o'clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clods seem'd to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem'd to say --
"I'll blow down the Bridge of Tay."

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers' hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say --
"I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay."

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers' hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov'd most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov'd slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o'er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill'd all the people's hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav'd to tell the tale
How the disaster happen'd on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

Up to six-and-a-half thousand pounds. Some people have too much money. Here we are trying to get aid into Myanmar, to aid victims of the cyclone, and instead people are buying admittedly appalling verse.

Perhaps animals deserve to take over. Humanity is doing a risible job of being the 'superior' species.

Support Disaster Relief in Myanmar:

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Itsy Bitsy Lesbian Sherlock Holmes Insanity

Today my mother asked me an odd question. What she began to say was: "Are you...? Oh, well it doesn't matter." Intrigued, I pressed her further, but she was still reluctant to complete her inquiry.

I thought: this is it - I have been single for so long that my mother is going to ask me if I'm a lesbian!

Part of me was tempted to say yes, and see how she'd react (despite the fact that I'd have to work quite hard to make anyone believe anything of the sort.) It might have been worth attempting a bluff, just for the experience - and I really would be interested from a sociological/psychological standpoint as to how she'd handle that information. Is she as liberal as she professes, or would I 'out' her as a hypocrite? It's quite cruel of me to imagine testing her for nothing more than my own amusement, but I still think it would be an interesting experiment.

Turns out it wasn't that at all, but was even more unusual. She eventually asked me, with slightly exaggerated gravity, "Do you think you might be...a comedian?" She asked as if being "a comedian" is innate: or in they way you might probe whether or not someone was schizophrenic. (Though that could get complicated, because who would you ask? I have enough trouble putting a name to a face, without having to try and remember what all the voices are called.)

My response to the question "[am I] a comedian" was simply, "No, this nose just makes me look like a clown." Apparently she was being serious, and expected me to answer in a similar manner. This was a flaw in her musings, I feel. How can you ask someone if they have a potential for comedy, and still expect a serious discussion? More often people will say something like "You belong on the stage," which is sounds less peculiar, though maybe only because I am now so familiar with it. I suppose I should be flattered that people think I am funny on purpose - when the truth is a little less managed, and a lot more accidental.

I don't think she left the conversation particularly satisfied. I am led to believe that she would prefer a slightly more conventional daughter (she has onealready, wanting me to be typically mundane as well is just greedy.) I don't think that Zara Phillips or Paris Hilton ever begin a conversation with the words "Where have all the bees gone?" and expect everyone to know what they're talking about. My Dad got it immediately, and rebuffed me with a simple; "ask Catherine Tate." I don't think my mother watches Dr Who. Though 56 year-old Irish housewives are not exactly it's core demographic, so I doubt she's any great loss to them.

I have also been told that the charm bracelet I wear most of the time is considered by my friends to be something of an "insanity alert." Apparently is is the "Kate Lawrence equivalent of a diabetic's medi-alert." I am one of those annoyingly passionate persons' who 'talk with their hands,' you see, and the more animated the discussion, the more I gesticulate. Because the bracelet has tinkling, jingling charms on it, they have decided that it works in a similar way to a leper ringing a bell: only I am instead a lunatic with a bracelet. My friends and family have now decided that if I am jingling more than usual then I am "about to say something stupid, bonkers, random, or unnecessary." I would dispute this, if I did not know them to be quite correct.

The "Insanity Alert" bracelet my grandfather bought me.

I'm not really mad: I just get carried away with what I'm thinking. Then I get lost in my own head, and instead of keeping quiet, I continue to describe the journey.

For the second time this week, I had a conversation that included mention of Arthur Conan Doyle. (I think it's because Pompey are in this European Cup qualification thingy, and so anything to do with the football club is currently in the local news. For those who don't know, Conan Doyle played in goal for Portsmouth FC.) Anyway, I said that I always remember Arthur Conan Doyle as "the one who is not Arthur C Clarke." I am told that this is quite odd. It's because their names both begin 'Arthur C' and I get them muddled. I memorise pictures better than information, and I had a set of video's by Arthur C Clarke years ago - and so I remember Arthur Conan Doyle by seeing the two men, then attaching the video's to Arthur C Clarke because they have his name written on the boxes in bold, colourful print. Once he has been discounted, then I remember that Arthur Conan Doyle must be the other one, and he created Sherlock Holmes and The Lost World. That probably doesn't make any sense to anyone, but certainly offers you some explanation of why I am so easily befuddled by my meandering mind.

I did read something today that was both comedic and slightly insane - and for once I didn't write it. This came out of a newspaper. Quoted from (don't judge me) the Daily Mirror:

"MC Timmy Mallet of 'Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini' is back on MC Skepta's spoof video for Rolex Sweep, playing word association game Mallett's Mallet from Wacaday."

This may just be a little bit brilliant. I have linked the video, but have not seen the video myself because my laptop is currently refusing to let me watch video's on youtube (it does this sometimes.) I used to watch Timmy Mallett on Wacaday and haven't seen him on TV for about a decade. He was supremely annoying, but I think that contributed to his success no end. I wasn't as faithful to Wacaday as I should have been though - because I favoured the egregious-yet-charming Roland Rat, who moved to BBC and with whom I was somewhat infatuated when I was four/five. (I shall probably spend all day begging my laptop to work on youtube tomorrow so I can search for clips of RR. I still get embarrassingly pleased when anyone uses the 'ratfans' catchphrase in conversation, and I regret never having had a guinea-pig that I could call Gloria.)

Timmy Mallett.

(Amusingly, on Timmy's website it says that his albums are only available on casette and vinyl!)

Roland Rat Superstar with Samantha Fox (when she had 80's hair, but wasn't quite so...mad.)

I also cut a photograph of a donkey out of the paper today, and pinned it above my desk. It's not just a photo of any old donkey - this one is carrying a huge bundle of leaves, and looks very funny. (I'm quite easily distracted by trivialities.)

"Don't Call Me An Ass."

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Cosmic Carrots, and Googling Gerald.

Another example of the universe conspiring to humiliate me was an automated email I received today. Every morning at around 6:20am I am emailed a piece of general-knowledge trivia, or quote. I signed up for it ages ago, and then got bored with it so usually delete them. This morning at 6:15am Joanna Lumley once more informed me that I "have email." Having little better to do I decided I'd read it, though still rather drolly complained to an empty room that, "I wonder what that could possibly be?" It replied:

"Today is May 6, 2008.

You are too sarcastic.

~Periander of Corinth, his motto, inscribed on Temple of Apollo at Delphi,~"

If that's not a cosmic indictment of a personality, then what is?

I embarked on a week of sun and shopping today, but the hands-down unbeatably best thing I did was join a Facebook group called "On the 15th of May, everyone go out and panic-buy carrots." I don't think I can explain how much I love this group. It's that sort of random bonkers-ness that is the only reason I get out of bed in the morning (okay, afternoon usually, but that's not the point!)

After that I spent an hour trying to figure out a way to list myself in the category "Just For Fun - Totally Pointless." I haven't worked out quite how yet but I'm sure there's a way to make it possible, even if I have to get hold of the teenage nerdlinger who designed Facebook and persuade him to change the rules for me. (Calling him a "teenage nerdlinger" is possibly offensive, so make that 'billionaire twenty-something nerdlinger.') He's probably called Gerald. I'll google it in a minute and find out. (I won't google 'Gerald,' I'll google 'creator of Facebook' - otherwise I could end up posting a photograph of anyone. Well...anyone called Gerald, anyway.)

Talk of googling reminded me of something I should have done yesterday, so I had to google Barry Manilow first, but after that I discovered that the creator of Facebook is called (drum roll please)...Mark Zuckerberg!

The guy who made all this possible.

I wonder if - when people ask him how long it took him to create this little online community - he says "six days, I took Sunday off." I really hope he does say that. I would. (I do say that: when people ask me how long some of the jewellery takes to create. They usually do little more than look at me funny, but it's still always worth it - especially if I have designed anything that even vaguely resembles a cross.)

I have just heard on Radio 5Live that Portugal's national football team coach Luis Felipe Scolari may replace Sven Goran Eriksson at Manchester United. I don't know enough about it to have any idea if this is good, bad, unlikely or ridiculous. I am so glad I don't work for the FA though, because every time I hear someone say his name, the little voice in my head repeats it to the tune of Morrissey's 'Piccadilly Palare,' and I begin humming it. Singing "Luis Felipe Scolari" would make me look like an idiot in a board meeting. (Try it, they have the same metrical rythm, and it will get stuck in your head.)

I do know that Sven has the best job in the world - as from what I can ascertain, his job is making millions at 'getting sacked from stuff.' Even I could do that.

I forgot that I have left the bedroom window open and have just been startled out of my few dwindling wits by a crow cawing uncommonly raucously. There is a morose irony to having years shaven off of ones life by a bird often so strongly associated with imagery of death. If this were the beginning of a film, then that would be a bad sign - but as it's the end of a blog instead, I am determined to view it in a more positive light.

I'm bored now, so while I still have the Google search engine open I've tapped in "facts about crows," because I realise that I have not learned anything useful today (except that ASOS had a 20% off shoe sale.)

So...here are some Facts About Crows:

"As members of the corvid family, crows are considered to be among the most adaptable and intelligent birds in the world"

"The Sioux tell the story of how a white crow used to warn buffalo of approaching hunting parties. The buffalo would then stampede, and the hunters would be left hungry. Eventually, an angry Indian threw the bird in a fire, which turned it black."

"Early historical records reveal that "crow" has long been synonymous with "despicable predator". King Henry VIII put a public bounty on the crow along with its relation the rook. The crow also has a special distinction in the United States. During World War II, it was designated as an enemy of the American public and was subject to a widespread propaganda campaign that stated the "black bandits" were robbing the nation's farms of grain."

That last one is my favourite crow fact. Bandito crows! I see The Birds remade along the lines of Zorro; with Tippi Hedren in the lead role instead of Catherine Zeta Douglas-fecking-Jones.

...I have just had the latest automated email. Today's said:

"Today is May 7, 2008

"Persons successfully pleading insanity spend more time in a mental hospital than they would if found guilty and sentenced to jail."

~The John Hinkley Trial and its Effects on the Insanity Defense by Kimberly Collins, Gabe Hinkebein, and Staci Schorgl~"

I told you that the universe has it in for me.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Snookered by Biblical Bemuslement

While avoiding the football again today I enjoyed the sunshine, was very nosey browsing everyone's facebook questionnaires, and watched a little of the snooker. I'm from a family who adore snooker, and so weekends (or Bank Holidays, as it was here today) feel incomplete at this time of year without having been subjected to a little of the game. Since early childhood, if I had to assign a colour to BBC2 then for me it was - and shall always be - green baize. I recall the days when Steve Davis was at the top of his game, and Stephen Hendry was still the "new kid on the block." (Actually, I remember 'New Kids On The Block,' too, unfortunately.)

I don't know anything else about snooker, but today made the following observations:

1) Within about two-and-a-half seconds, I had decided that I like Ronnie O'Sullivan with longer hair. He's cut it and lost weight, but I think he suited 'slightly scruffy.' He still won though, so Samson was obviously wrong.

2) Ronnie's opponent - Carter - was wearing an unnecessarily ridiculous tartan bow tie, which immediately caused me to lose any potential respect for him.

3) My favoured snooker ball colours are, in order of preference: Black, Green, Blue, Pink Yellow and then Brown. There are too many Red balls, which makes them unremarkable, and therefore unworthy of attention. The White ball I do not like because it is purely practical, and there is something vulgar about anything so unapologetically 'trade.'

Ronnie O'Sullivan - then and now.

My father told me that absolutely none of my newly discovered snooker-trivia would help me get a job as a BBC Sports presenter. I'd never considered it, but I think he meant that whereas I can usually blag my way through a conversation, I would fail dismally in any debate about sport. I'm terribly uninformed. I'm just as hopeless with religion - so would never be employed to work on Songs of Praise, either.

Regardless of the many separate religions, the differences between the concepts of religion, faith and belief are still complex, and I am not devout enough in any faith to spend too much time concerning myself with the argument. Discussing this with someone the other day, it struck me that - as what can only be loosely defined as an Agnostic Theist - I treat belief in God the same way I view kiddie's armbands. My first swimming lesson, I remember being nervous about stepping into un-chartered territory; splashing out on my own seemed an impossible thing to be asked. I did it because I was assured that the blow-up armbands would save me from going under. My belief in God, despite my derisory view of religion, is a similar premise. I have to feel like there's some back-up; that we're doing more than simply "trying not to drown." Having some belief gives me a little hope that there's a life belt if I screw up. Not so much 'Father, Son, and Holy Ghost' - as 'arm-bands, sand, and plastic floats,' but it's still better than thinking that the buck always stops with me. I wouldn't put myself in charge of anything, let alone something as important as my own destiny!

This is what happens when - instead of taking a kid to church at the weekend - you let them see Baywatch. ...Though, it could work, that: The Hoff as Christ, Pammy as Mary (Magdalene, obviously. Not even God would believe she'd conceived immaculately.)

David Hasselhoff (sex-symbol he may once have been, but I wouldn't even nail him to a cross.)

If Pamela Anderson was the mother of Christ, then the Nativity Story would end with God going on Jeremy Kyle for a paternity test, Tommy Lee would turn out to be Joseph, and he'd dramatically show the sex-tape to prove Jesus was actually his kid. The church would crumble - only to reform off the back of an emotional apology on Oprah. God would sit there all tearful, like Gwyneth at the Oscars, begging to be given a second chance and agreeing to step aside so Pammy and Tommy Lee can raise the kid - providing he gets access once the boy reaches about 33. The Christian Bible would then just be a celebrity biography. (Well, it's pretty much that already.)

I think that once one suggests Jesus' mother was a porn-star, then it's probably time to stop typing and go play some Marilyn Manson records backwards. Or maybe pray, because I think I'd hate Hell. I'm just too English for hot weather. The merest hint of summer, and I switch the big fan on. I don't think they have air-conditioning in Purgatory. Shame really - especially with global warming, because then it'll be hotter than...well...hell, I imagine.

Maybe I'll eschew satanic tunes - and prayer - in favour of something a little more pleasingly divine; like tea and chocolate.

That really is heaven. Apparently.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Can't Sleep, Can't Stay Awake

It's been a lovely, lazy day today - no pressure to create anything at all. I was entirely non-productive, and am completely satisfied with that.

Last night I was offered a few hints and tips - intended to help me sleep. Unfortunately I didn't receive the message until I awoke this morning, after another night of cursing the world for not being as nocturnal as I am. That's typical of my experiences with any sort of slumber-related information. I only own one self-help book on sleep disorders (because 'disorder' suggests that the problem lies with me, whereas I have spent many years convincing myself that it is everyone else who is unnatural.)

The book in question is called 'Can't Sleep, Can't Stay Awake: A Woman's Guide to Sleep' by Dr Meir Kryger, and I won it during a radio phone-in on insomnia. It was in the early hours of one weekend, and Radio 5Live aired a programme with Dr Kryger. The presenter (either Dotun Adebyeo or Rhod Sharp) held a phone in where people could discuss their issues with sleeping, or not sleeping, which made the predawn scheduling of the show even more fitting. The question was on the correct spelling of the Doctor's given name, because the phonetics of his title appeared far simpler than the actual spelling. (It's pronounced 'Maya.') Naturally I cheated and googled it, because they had announced the title of the book and the author's unusual surname - so he wasn't difficult to find. It was an interesting programme, and I finished the work I was doing, packed the computer away and actually went to sleep before daybreak. That is, until one of the show's researchers called me to tell me I'd won, and confirm the address to which they might send the prize.

The irony of this did not escape me, but was made even worse when a few days later the postman woke me at 6am to deliver the parcel. I was woken up twice, by a book on insomnia. I swear things like this just don't happen to other people.

I sometimes feel like I am locked together in some satirical-struggle with the Universe - a never-ending series of real-life Monty Python sketches. Moments like the one with the book are when the Universe parks me next to a canal so it might slap me with a fish, and every brush with authority is reminiscent of the Ministry for Silly Walks.

A good example of the second of those is the time last winter when I had a general check-up with my Nutritionist. When I first walked in he cheerfully told me that I looked much better than I had the last time he'd seen me. Then he frowned and said it "might be because [he] didn't have the light on," as it was then late afternoon and getting a bit murky in his office. He went over to the door and flicked on the overhead strip lighting. Then he did a sort of comedy-double-take as he started towards me, took one look at my naturally blue-grey skin-tone and spun on his heels to switch the light off again. He conducted the whole consultation in the deepening gloom, because he said I looked healthier that way. Now, I'm not a Consultant Nutritionist myself - but I'm not sure there are any clinical guidelines saying that it's okay to turn the lights off so one might pretend that their patient is getting better.

He's also the doctor that a month or so ago suggested I should see a therapist "because [I'm] not depressed." He thinks I should be, you see. He's apparently not worried about the years of eccentricity, manic behaviours, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, addictive personality, insecurity or narcissism - because he dismisses all that as part of being 'a creative type.' He tells me, however, that I am "not screwed up enough," in other areas. His theory being that ME is depressing - but as I have never shown any sign of being depressed, then there must be something wrong with me - and if there isn't anything wrong with me, than that in itself would abnormal, and requisite of a therapists services. (I do pissed off quite well, and am superb at being irritated and snarky, but I am far too accomplished at self-delusion to get depressed.)

I think he's seen too many of those Channel 5 'Fairground Murders Uncovered,' type shows where friends and neighbours of serial killers describe how 'normal and down to earth' the psychopath always seemed. ...Until the day he or she wiped out the patrons of a candy-floss stall by dipping them in boiling candy-apple glaze, and then using them for hoopla practice before wandering off with the headless remains of the giant stuffed toy no-one usually wins.

It may of course, be saying things like that, that causes him to worry about me.

I've seen two lots of psychologists over the years. The first occasion was eight years ago, and there were two of them. They spoke to me for little more than an hour, before saying bemusedly that they didn't really know why they were there - because I seemed not to have any need of them. They signed me off and I never heard from them again. The second time was a few years later, after some complexities that arose from a dalliance with prescription painkillers. She spoke to me over the phone a couple of times, and then said that I obviously didn't need her help, and should not concern myself with the pre-arranged appointment. I got a letter saying she'd cancelled it.

I've long accepted that my mind will always be a jumble of nonsense, but I was clearing some of the clutter in my house today and came across one of the first poetry anthologies to include my work. It's dreadful, it really is - I honestly think they accepted entries by anyone capable of holding a pen. I still have so many copies of that worthless tome because my mother bought several for her family - but then the novelty of having a daughter who is a published poet wore off, and she no longer wanted them. I gave away a few to grateful neighbours who naively thought me a considerate young woman, but the best story about that book comes from the day a sales rep turned up at the house to try and flog us a massage chair.

My grandfather broke his legs when he fell off a roof during his early thirties, and so he always had 'bad legs.' I don't quite know exactly what the problem was; but he'd get up to walk across the room after having been sat for a while, and would no longer be able to feel his feet - so would tread on the dog, who eventually got quite used to it. Anyway, I think one of us had seen an advert in the paper, which requested you fill in, and return the coupon for "more information" on something that was supposed to help with circulation. Little did we realise that a woman was going to turn up at the house with a suitcase of equipment and several hours to spare. She had a little seating-pad - about the size of a chopping-board - which apparently demonstrated the cyclonic-massage techniques that had first been developed for washing coal, but had been found to soothe aches and pains. (Something to do with Miners leaning up against the machinery, and miraculously curing their bad backs.) My grandfather was sat on this vibrating cushion and for almost four hours, as she tried to persuade us to purchase this chair. It cost £5,000, and so we weren't in the least bit interested, but still could not get rid of the rep. My grandfather continued to say no, and she left, though rather reluctantly. I mention it here because - during the time the saleswoman was at our house - I grew rather tired of her talking about herself and, as I am oft prone to doing, tried (and successfully managed) to steer the conversation back around to myself. I decided that if she was determined to be irritating, and continue in her bid to sell us a chair we didn't want, then I would challenge myself to outwit her. I can be quite endearing when I need to be, and managed - through a mixture of persistence and charm - to sell her a copy of my book at full cover price (which was double what I'd paid for it.)

A few months later we saw the company on the BBC scam-expose show 'Rogue Traders,' accused of bamboozling the elderly into spending ludicrous amounts of money on useless crap. I was quite smug that night, knowing that I had successfully conned the conmen with what was essentially the very same scam. Six pounds was a ridiculous sum, and it certainly purchased her useless trash. I only managed to sell that one book, and it was only a profit of £3.00, but I was more than a little pleased with myself for having gotten away with it.

I'm beginning to think that my life sounds worse when it's all written down. It says in the blurb for a well-known celebrity autobiography that the comedians' life is: "a series of embarrassing incidents, strung together by telling people about those embarrassing incidents." Substitute "embarrassing" for 'peculiar/mental/amusing/curious/unbelievable,' and that anecdote is pretty representational of my existence too. Only, I'd call my autobiography something better than; "My Booky Wook."

'Kate Lawrence - Meretricious Nonsense.' (Yes, I know it's the title I suggested last year for Russell's book, but - worryingly - people say it would work for my autobiography too.)

To be published when I have (A) written it, (B) found a publisher, (C) become famous enough that people will buy it, and (D) lived enough to write about more than mice and massage chairs.

EDIT: I'm concerned about the number of times recently that I have included Russell Brand in this blog. I think the over-exposure of the man's latest film is directly damaging my brain. Being a child of the eighties, I am conditioned to respond complicity to advertising, and every time I turn the TV on he's there. (There's also no getting around the boy if I want to listen to Matt Morgan on the radio either, until Matty gets his own heavy metal show - which would be brilliant!)

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Have I Got Unsettling News For You




Thursday, 1 May 2008

Election Special - 99p when purchased with a cocoanut.

The results of both the Local Elections and London's Mayoral Election are in. Unfortunately we don't find out if Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is going to send the country to wrack and ruin until tomorrow afternoon.

When I heard on the news earlier today (and then in the coverage tonight) that Boris actually stands a chance, I was quite surprised. I didn't ever really consider that people would vote for him - though it seems they have; a decision based purely on his appearance on 'Have I got News For You.' They're probably the same people that got Mr Blobby and Crazy Frog to number one.

It would have been amusing to see Boris handle the 2012 Olympics. People didn't like the colourful little 2012 symbol, but I don't imagine that this would have been a better international symbol of British athleticism:

Boris, on a bike.

In other Political news: I received an email today that has me championing Bob Geldof. During a recent flight on Air Force One, Bob reportedly gave President George Bush a copy of his book 'Geldof in Africa.'

"Who wrote this for ya, Geldof?" joked Dubya.

Sir Bob smartly responded with: "Who will you get to read it for you, Mr President?"

That's it. I like him again. I'd gone off him a bit after he called Russell Brand a c*nt, and was then rather gloriously put in his place with the comment; "Sir Bob Geldof there, who knows a lot about famine because he's been dining out on 'I Don't Like Mondays' for years." Today however, I am warming to him once more. (Might even be enough to warrant a bit of 'Banana Republic' from Loudmouth. Yes, I do have that album and I do like that song...but I promise I only use it to steady the wonky leg on the piano.)

In other vaguely political news, there is a new TV ad which is driving me insane. 'WestPlus' (makers of plant-food,) are doing adverts featuring a singing earthworm, and have modelled their jingle on the "Hitler, has only got one ball," tune. So now, I cannot think of gardening without imagining Nazi Worms chatting to Karl Pilkington - and dancing around in some kind of 'Springtime For Hitler' production.

Speaking of Karl, whilst watching Newsnight I noticed that William Hague has a head like a fucking orange.

It was almost enough to make me like him a little bit. Not quite though, because he also has ears like a mouse, and a most disagreeable temperament. It is also true that his voice is annoying and his principles are non-existent. His head is still quite round though.

I took advantage of the postal voting opportunities a couple of years ago so that I no longer have to brave the church hall, or community centre. Wouldn't have made a difference anyway, as Portsmouth's Local Election results remain unchanged for another year.

This was the measly choice faced by we Pompey natives today:

Terence Christopher William Henderson - Conservatives.
Stephen Holland - Independant.
Andrew John Silvester - Labour.
David Fernando Ward - English Democrats.
Alan John Webb - Lib Dems.

When the options are Terence, Silvester or Fernando; then the city is pretty well screwed whichever way you vote. At lest there we remain consistent with the rest of the country. God forbid we begin to run smoothly and get ideas above our station.

At least if Boris does single-handedly destroy London then we stand a chance of power.

The capital of England is Portsmouth! Make way for the corgis.