Thursday, June 28, 2007

Caption contest

The scene: New Labour's birthplace and heartland, a few hours after Mr Blair's resignation took effect:

Two bottles of the Real Ale of your choice (sent anywhere in t'world) for the best caption.

The replies thus far:
  • Damo from London:
    • "Gordon impatiently kept an eye on his stuff and awaited the removal van to get into Number 10..."
  • Iam from Hackney:
    • “good riddance to bad rubbish”
    • “where's that paddle?”
    • “all the new ideas are on the pallet”
  • Simon from Sydney:
    • "Shredders working overtime/Tryin to taste the difference/Tween a lemon and a lime"
    • "As well as peace in the Middle East and solving global warming, Blair's
      term in office helped achieve the UK's complete independence from
      imports of Hamster bedding."
  • Pugsley from Sydney:
  • Holly from Sydney:
    • "Will anyone think to glue those shredded pages back together?"
    • "Dodgy Dossier Dump!"
  • Hanesy from West London:
    • "all the evidence was ready to go up....all that was needed was a match"
  • Nick in the Swedish Forests:
    • "No more spin"
  • Danny from Adelaide:
    • "It was a great relief to Gordon to finally find all the mail that had been stolen from his letterbox at No 10."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Iggy and The Stooges on Jonathan Ross

Jonathan Ross interviewed Scott, Ron and Iggy on his BBC chat show last Friday, before their appearance at Glastonbury. There's two halves to the interview (the second one finishes with a studio version of I wanna Be Your Dog) on YouTube.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Royal Festival Hall

Jo, Sonia, Katie and I all went to see the Jesus and Mary Chain at the Royal Festival Hall last Friday. The band were excellent, in fact it was their first gig since they broke up very acrimoniously nine years ago. Jo was almost catatonic in ecstasy (that's IN ecstasy) for most of the show.

However, the venue....the RFH has just reopened after an eighteen month, £100M+ renovation. It's a listed building, so there have been no structural alterations. They seem to have run out of budget somewhere along the way though, as the place is still very tatty and dirty, with not even the carpet replaced. I'd be happy if they poured all of the money into the acoustics of the place, which I guess they have. Unfortunately though, that didn't extend to sending somebody around with a screwdriver to ensure everything was tightened up. The aircond vent above our seats gave off quite a vibrato rattle every time the band hit the bass! Not good. Have asked them for a refund or credit towards future tickets.

Still, they have managed to get in a couple of new posh restaurants and knock up a new building against the Hungerford Bridge which houses offices and, surprise surprise, more retail! I wonder where the bulk of that hundred mill really did go???

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cycle to work

An interesting article by Emily Thornberry, an Islington MP, about riding to work. Well written, and presents some good arguments to jump on your bike in the morning.

I think (and have told her) that she has been very irresponsible for her to be pushing such a strident anti-helmet message, whatever her personal opinion may be (I think it's patently obvious she thinks they are useless). There is apparently some "research" that proves that motorists are more likely to drive closer to a cyclist who is wearing a helmet. Tosh! Email her and tell her what you think.

Also please note that the page sponsor for this story is none other than Royal Dutch Shell!

Rant over. Basic message is GET ON YOUR BIKE!

Free Wheeling

If you have a short commute and still don't cycle to work, why not? Emily Thornberry busts 10 persistent myths about this easy, green and healthy way to get on the move

Saturday June 16, 2007
The Guardian

'You cycle to work? You must be mad," used to be the reaction when I told people about my commute. Today, especially in London, cycling to work is at last becoming "normal": it is no longer the reserve of Lycra-clad men.

Joining the swarm of cyclists travelling south towards central London from Islington in the morning, I feel like I could be in Amsterdam or Copenhagen - where cycling accounts for a third of all trips. But in the UK, we still have a long way to go. Just 3% of commuters here cycle, with around 4 million people still driving less than three miles to work - a 20-minute bike ride each way. If all of these people swapped their cars for bikes it would save around 1m tonnes of CO2 a year.

Didn't take long....

Van Eyck has been foisted from his frame:

Last week:

Monday morning....

Friday, June 15, 2007

Napoli, Amalfi and Rome

Katie and I jetted off to Naples recently for ten days R&R. 'Twas fantatsic, with much pizza to be eaten and many sights to be seen (Positano, Pompeii, Sorrento, Ischia amongst many others). The weather was kind, the people friendly, the traffic completely random. We rented a great flat in the middle of town, complete with 130 steps from the street, and old ladies gossiping from balcony to balcony.

The Grand Tour

The National Gallery on Trafalgar Square has just launched a new exhibition, called "The Grand Tour", which is basically a publicity drive for the gallery. They have put exact replicas of some of their most famous works on the walls of buildings around Soho and Covent Garden. It's a brilliant idea, and there about 45 around the streets. The wall between my office and the sushi joint next door is the temporary home of The Amolfini Portrait by Van Eyck. There's Holbeins, Van Goughs and Turners stuck to the walls of pubs, cafes, sex shops and building sites right through the West End.

I went for a bit of a short stroll around Soho and took a few pix of some of the installations. The album's right here.

Here's a blog from the Guardian on the subject.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cider: It's officially good for you.

Written by: Rosie Davenport

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have found that some ciders can be good for you as they contain high levels of phenolics - antioxidants linked to protection against strokes, heart disease and cancer.

The study looked at a number of ciders with some containing forty times the amount of "phenolics" than others.

Serena Marks, who heads up the cider research at the University of Glasgow said: "Unit for unit, the top cider had levels of phenolics comparable to red wine.

"The cider with the highest levels of phenolics had 18 times more phenolics than clear apple juice and 7 times more phenolics than cloudy apple juice."

The next stage in the research is to analyse how humans absorb these phenolics.

Volunteers have been drinking doses of cider (where do I apply? ed) in a controlled environment and samples of their blood and urine taken to measure the quantity of phenolics absorbed into the body.

The results of these trials are currently being analysed.

Marks added: "The more information we can get about phenolics in cider and what happens to them in the body, the more chance we have of positively influencing the phenolic content of English cider, for example, helping manufacturers chose production processes that leave a higher levels of phenolic in the final product.

"This could mean that drinking a glass of cider is not only enjoyable, but a great way for people to naturally increase the amount of phenolics in their diet."

The research is part of a project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the National Association of Cider Makers.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Out of Control : The Tragedy of Tasmania's Forests

Out of Control
The tragedy of tasmania's forests

By Richard Flanagan

This story begins with a Tasmanian man fern ( Dicksonia antarctica) for sale in a London nursery. Along with the healthy price tag, some £160, is a note: “ This tree fern has been salvage harvested in accordance with a management plan approved by the Governments of Tasmania and the Commonwealth of Australia.” If you were to believe both governments, that plan ensures that Tasmania has a sustainable logging industry – one which, according to the federal minister responsible for forests, Eric Abetz, is “the best managed in the world”.

The truth is otherwise. The man fern – possibly several centuries old – comes from native forests destroyed by a logging industry that was recently found to be illegal by the Federal Court of Australia. It comes either from primeval rainforest that has been evolving for millennia or from wet eucalypt forests, some of which contain the mighty Eucalyptus regnans. These aptly named kings of trees are the tallest hardwood trees and flowering plants on Earth; some are more than 20 metres in girth and 90 metres in height. The forests are being destroyed in Tasmania, in spite of widespread community opposition and increasing international concern.