Friday, September 14, 2007

Twin Cities

Wouldn't you know it, but according to satirical weekly The Economist, one of the bin Ladens is building two cities in Yemen and Djibouti, with a 17 mile bridge linking them across the Red Sea.

This is an excellent idea. There are not nearly enough "twin cities" in the world. There is, of course, the very famous Banff-Macduff pairing in Scotland, and that one that ends in Saint Paul, somewhere in America.

It makes you wonder why people don't make things in pairs more often. Twin airports, for example, linked by a motorway (so that you wouldn't have to fly from one to the other). Or twin oceans, separated by a 17-mile landmass. Or even twin people: two babies born at (more or less) the same time. The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


To Edinburgh, where Lord Lucan's shark is awaiting its A-level results.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Faking Action Man

I'm a little late with this observation, but it seems very appropriate that superchef Gordon Ramsay faked a catch that made him feel "like Action Man", since Action Man is entirely smooth where his genitalia ought to be. Action Man is lacking the meat and two veg that Ramsay likes to swing around the kitchen.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Tesco Swingometer

I do like those ads that Tesco publish, showing how many of their competitors' products are priced lower than theirs. If they'd also publish a list of what those products are, they'd be being even more helpful.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

English word of the week: bowser

Bowsers are being deployed in parts of flooded England. A bowser is, apparently, a water tanker, though it's not a word I can honestly say I have ever heard in polite conversation.

If pushed, I'd have assumed that a bowser was either a breed of dog, or something to do with Web 3.0 ("a wreb bowser").

Of course, given the flooding, there's plenty of water on the ground - it's just not drinkable. So they have to ferry (ha!) the clean stuff in.

Though the flooding has (briefly) troubled parts of London, it won't become real until there are salmon swimming in Bank Underground Station and old ladies being rescued from the roof of Television Centre.

I wish it would snow.

Geddit? : Sink estates

The Lib Dem leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, said it was extraordinary not to reconsider development on flood plains, and Grant Shapps, shadow housing minister, accused Labour of building "the sink estates of tomorrow".
The Guardian, 24 July 2007.

Monday, July 23, 2007

You read it here first: Skunk Marketing

I predict that "skunk" will be the next annoyingly would-be buzzalicious adjective to be leapt on by the terminally self-promotional.

There will undoubtedly be a book called Skunk Marketing, though I have no idea who its author will be. (Clue: not me.)

I expect we'll also see a movement labelled Skunk Filmmaking, and one called Skunk Programming. Skunk Rock seems inevitable too.


Isn't it about time Pry Menacer Gordo Brown appointed a Minister for Drought? The government stands idly by while millions of Brits are rescued from their sofas while others are forced to boil dust.

Unless our political leaders do something to reduce the Carbolic Footprint, we will continue to experience extreme weather events while destroying the heritage of our children, and our children's children. We urgently need to secure water security for these fragile islands.

If you have any spare rain in your loft or basement, please take it to your nearest post office and mark it "Blue Peter Appeal". NB your nearest post office may be much further than you think, so take a Frusli bar with you.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Town Planning Insights (1): West End Westerlies

"...the prevailing westerly wind in England, blowing the worst of smoke and stench eastwards, has ensured that the most salubrious part of any English city is always in the west."
- Clare Clark, reviewing Hubbub: Filth, noise and stench in England by Emily Cockayne, TLS, 13 July 2007.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Engines of Necessity

The engines of necessity are parked in the sidings of despair. The seven members of the maintenance team of fate have hung up the toolboxes of desire, and wept seven oceans of tears. All along the line, points freeze and grandmothers step. The reason of sleep comes knocking gently on the souls of your window. Do not let it in.

On a lighter note, I see that it's not raining this morning (yet).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cliche Makeover: the shadow of a doubt

The origins of this fine cliche have recently been unearthed in an archaeological dig near Lidchester, England. Kneeling trowel-fanciers hot on the trail of a medieval sewer that served the old cathedral stumbled across a limestone doubt that had been buried there during the War of the Hoses.

Measuring three feet by eight metres by two years, the doubt bears all the signs of having been entertained by several generations of Lidchester locals. Experts from the University of Environs have run a series of computerised tests which suggest that, at dawn on Midsummer's Day, the doubt would originally have cast a shadow two miles long pointing directly at the sea.

The summer solstice was the one day in the year when Early Man would "have a wobble" about the relationship between the sea and the land, which was otherwise believed to be stable, mature and imbued with mutual respect. Hence, at any other time, people were able to carry on their normal business convinced that they were completely right about everything. Or something.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Disappearing Words: Margarine

According to the Margarine and Spreads Association, the name margarine comes from the Greek word margarites meaning "pearl". And yet margarine isn't made out of pearls - oh no! It's made out of fat.

We still consume, I imagine, around 18 tonnes of margarine per head every year, and a further 2 tonnes per foot. That's despite the raging success of spreadable products named after cries of disbelief. And yet it's very rarely that you hear the word "margarine" in your local cawfee shop. Nor does it crop up much in hi-level debate about the "special relationship" between the UK and the US.

"Margarine" appears only once in the works of Shakespeare:

Would that this margarine o'erleapt th'very bounds of reason;
Aye, there wouldst see a pretty coxcomb for a quivvering.
- Two Spots For A Picnick, or The Comedie Of Terrors (Virgin, 1599)

Disappearing Words: Mauve

Mauve! What a useful word. But it's just not getting any play these days. Try asking for something mauve in Zara, and see where it gets you. Tell your SO that his/her aura is looking mauve today, and you'd better duck!

But mauve is still (arguably) where it's at. Or, at the very least, mauve is where it once might have been.

Try to work "mauve" into your conversation this week. Why not mauve-tivate your team members to use this handy colour word too? What do you mean, you haven't got any team members? Excuse me, I think I've just seen someone I know.

Friday, July 13, 2007

My favourite...

...sub-surface transport system in London has got to be the Underground, or "choob". It's a must for anyone who wants to travel around this great city by subway. Ignore all imitations! If someone offers you one of those free underground transport systems, just ignore them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Press Freedom

Press freedom - and then stand well back! Sometimes the freedom button is connected to the annihilation circuit. This is due to a change in wiring colour standards. If you are in any doubt, ask a grown-up to do it for you.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Birdcalls of Melrose Ave

Streep! Streep!
Streeeeep! Streep streep streep!
Bradpitt. Bradpitt.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Film director to change name?

Given the toy tie-in raison d'etre of his new Transformers movie, the director might want to consider changing his surname from Bay to eBay. That's where the cultural freight of this juggernaut will eventually wind up.