Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What's The Fuss All ABout?

Apparently, this photo of Miley Cyrus aka Hannah Montana for Vanity Fair has caused huge controvesy. This may be terribly naive of me, but I really can't see why it's so offensive. In today's Guardian, Germaine Greer compares it to 'a child prostitute from Casablanca, vintage 1900'
Compared to the explicit images of young girls that you see everyday in mags, MTV, soap operas I see very little to get angry about.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Always reminds me of this Freddie Mercury song whenever I hear it. Have been here since Sunday afternoon to get ready for a workshop and meet a client. Managed to miss the Clapham 10K run and cancelled Sunday lunch with friends. Not great.

There are compensations though. Am staying in a very modern 5 star hotel on the outskirts. There are remote controlled curtains in my room and a very fancy shower with all kinds of jets.

As ever, not looked around the city. Partly due to lack of time, but mostly because I'm not very good at being a solo tourist, particularly in the evenings. Much more fun listening to Radio 4 on my laptop and following the Derby game on the BBC. Arsenal eventually scored 6. My sister Angela had texted me to say it was 7. Not so bad after all.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Perfect Saturday

Got up early. Sun shining. T-shirt and shorts weather. Did stuff with the kids in the morning: gym / Stagecoach. Spent the afternoon digging and planting on the allotment. Friends round for dinner. (polenta and grilled lamb) Played mah jong. No Derby game, so no post-result depression.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Going Down the Allotment

I've had my allotment for 3 years now and this year I've done hardly any work on it. I've got loads of excuses: dodgy weather, weekends away, work commitments. Also not having a regular journey to work nowadays means I can't pop in on the way home like I used to.

Feel really guility about this. Some people dedicate so much time and effort that my patch looks pathetic. I'm going to do some serious work on it this afternoon. At last!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What I've Been Reading

Have just finished Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach which I really enjoyed. I was hoping not to like it, but I did. A nicely constructed well paced plot, finely observed characters and a great eye for detail.

He's a great writer but there's something quite irritating about him. He's so on top of his game that I feel he showboats. It's like he's trying to demonstrate the depth and range of his language and trying to impress us with his intellect. His books also feature too many middle class, well educated and talented characters for my liking.

Still worth reading though. And less than 200 pages too.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Italian Election Results

Whilst we were in Italy, the elections took place and amazingly at 71, Silvio Berlusconi is back for the third time with a convincing majority. I do my best, but I really can't make sense of Italian politics. This is Italy's 62nd government since the War and Prodi's previous government lasted less than 2 years. People we spoke to in Italy had divided opinions. However, most viewed Prodi as a disaster.

Will Berlusconi lead Italy to a brighter future? Well the Economist doesn't seem to think so.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Back from Italy

Just back from a week's holiday in Tuscany where, as ever, we had some fantastic food. Best restaurant we visited was called The Fiorentina in the town of Sansepolcro. Definitely worth going to if you're in the area.

On the last day we decided to visit the lovely Adriatic coastal town of Cesenatico, birthplace of the great cyclist Marco Pantani who is a local hero. The surrounding beach looked really nice, but will no doubt be packed with umbrellas during the summer. Had probably the best spaghetti alla vongole I've ever had in my life. Worth re-visiting for this reason alone

Friday, April 11, 2008

What I'm Reading

Bought Nick Hornby's Slam at Dublin airport yesterday and am really enjoying it. It's written through the voice of a 16 year old and - at least to me - is very convincing. As with all his books, it's sharp, funny and very easy to read.

I've always been a big fan of his. I'm always impressed by his ability to tell stories through the eyes of other people, for example, the middle class woman in 'How To Be Good'. He writes about stuff that I can really relate to: football, music, parenthood, growing up.

Really looking forward to picking it up again. Recommended.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Poor Arsenal

Last night I caught the end of the Liverpool - Arsenal game which Liverpool won 4-2. On the radio I heard some Arsenal fans sounding so sad and dejected. Do I feel sorry for them? Of course not. They compete for trophies every year, they've got a fabulous stadium and some of the best players in the world. You should try supporting Derby. Then you'd feel depressed every week.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Olympic Protesters in Paris

After our day at Disneyland, we decided to visit the Eiffel Tower. There were lots of people lining the streets as we got out of the Metro station and discovered that the Olympic Torch Procession was about to pass by. We decided to watch and found that we were right next to the pro-Tibet protesters who were trying to disrupt proceedings. Despite the heavy police presence it was very easy to jump out into the road and you could tell that the athletes looked pretty scared. According to BBC reports the event had to be cut short

When everything quietened down we queued to go up the Eiffel Tower only to find that 3 men had climbed up it and managed to unfurl a pro-Tibet flag. we watched the whole incident unfold. We even saw the firemen climb up and eventually arrest them.

Not exactly the day out in Paris we planned but all very exciting.

Visit To Disneyland Paris
On Sunday we went to Disneyland as part of our long weekend in Paris. I wasn't really looking forward to it and was pretty cynical about Disney. However, both Mae and Lia absolutely loved it and I have to admit I had a good time too. The Park was much smaller than I thought - which was good - and was easy to get around. I'm not keen on the scarey rides so was happy to avoid them and the queues for other stuff were much shorter.

We met up with Gaelle, who used to look after the girls when she was a language student and who now works at the posh Disney hotel. Fortunately, she volunteered to take Mae on the Space Mountain Ride which apparently is amazing. Overall, a great day out and an experience the kids will never forget.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Dream's Over

Remember this day last year, when Derby beat West Brom at Wembley to join the Premier League? What an amazing day.Well, last weekend Derby were officially relegated. The first team ever to be relegated in March and likely to be the worst team ever in the history of the Premier League. Since that final, we've lost our manager, captain, player of the year and chairman. Our performances this year have been unbelievably poor and it's been an embarassment watching them. We had our chance and we blew it.

Derby have always been a badly run club. Despite having a large and loyal fanbase, TV money and American investment, we always seem to be on the brink of financial ruin. Will next year be any better? Well, I doubt we'll be gain immediate promotion. Paul Jewell has done nothing so far to encourage any optimism, but hopefully we'll manage more than 1 win.

So next year in London, it'll be Crystal Palace and Charlton rather than Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal. How sad is that?