Thursday, 29 May 2008

Three Beautiful Things

Calming and lovely - this blogsite I found purely through a shared interest in the author Jasper Fforde - when you need a lift, it's full of positives. See the link in 'For Fun and info...'

Three beautiful things for me today:

A leisurely walk through green suburban canopies; my littlun, linking his hand in mine while we walked; kicking my shoes off on our return and settling down with a cup of tea. (You notice I sneaked in a fourth there!)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Britain's Got Talent (2) or, never compete with children or animals...

Call me old-fashioned, but if Simon can't handle the responsibility and is going to put through who he thinks the public want, why not put through the top two the public vote for in the first place?

So that's the dog and the kids through; whilst they are entertaining in a provincial theatre kind of way, the likes of 'Flava' are the ones I'd pay to see.

Is Simon ensuring a clearer run for his personal favourites, appearing over the next few nights?

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Britain's Got Talent

I've seen it all now - last night, the dancing dog was put through. According to Simon and Amanda he's non-human performer in the world????

Have these people not seen Crufts? There's a whole bloomin' section dedicated to prancing pooches!

So the 18 year old theatre wannabe, who, ok, wasn't at good last night as the first audition (should have turned the music down a bit) was sent packing. Surely he deserved another chance over the dog and it's less than charismatic owner?

But like Hubby says, the panel aren't there to ensure only the best go through, are they? Where would the spectacle be without the spectacles of Bra-Strap Woman swinging it all about?

Monday, 26 May 2008

Inky fingers 1 Green fingers 0

We braved the Bank Holiday rain, now hubby’s finally finished painting the decking, to find pots and ornaments to break up the woody look.
“What d’you think of this” he asks, pointing at a small, fir tree type effort.
I shrug. It looks the same as all the other small, fir tree type efforts he’s already pointed at.
I’m not a green-fingered person, you see, I need Trisha at Ripplestone for that kind of thing. She’s my expert. I even offered her cash to do my garden and she laughed. I mean it, I said, really. She laughed again.
We now have some pink lilies in a lilac pot, white lilies in a blue pot, one of the small fir tree type efforts in a large green pot (he’s hoping it will grow tall enough to hide the drainpipe: If only drainpipes were just four foot high) six small, multi-coloured pots hanging from a rope by the garage door and three green/blue spheres in the corner. And a snail, a hedgehog and a tortoise watching from the side, looking in need of a lift - so now I‘m off in search of the outdoor equivalent of a wotnot. Then he says: “We need a new table ...and chairs ...the bench is broken ...” See, once you start with this gardening lark, look what happens. That’s not really my garden up there, by the way. As soon as I can figure out how to get the pic of the animals from my phone to son’s MP3 player to the PC, I’ll post it.

I'd Do Anything Results Show, Week 9

Nancy and Olivers reprise: Food Glorious Food - I noticed Jessie’s interaction with the boys there for the first time.

The Task: Living in a hovel for the night, no mods cons, to put them in the mood for ‘speaking’ Nancy - As Long as he Needs Me, to Barry, who rated the girls thus: Jessie - heartfelt, convincing; Rachel - commanding leading lady quality; Jodie - emotional, not sure re the sense of courage; Samantha - initially disappointed then “here was an actress”. Rachel won his vote overall but then he said he couldn’t predict.

Group Song: ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ - Jessie stood out for me, a real presence on stage.

The Olivers: ‘Where is Love’. Very sweet, without any sickiness.

It’s coming close to decision time. The panels choice of who isn’t Nancy: John - Jessie (too young) Denise - Jessie (same reason) Barry and Cameron - Jodie (to boos from the audience).

I was fair tingling with excitement! No, really, I was.

Jodie - safe! She blubbed big time, like the wet weekend we’re having. Rachel - sing off! She knew, as soon as Graham said her name. John and Denise were clutching each others arms - desperate for Sam to be safe, probably, and not Jessie. Unlucky then you two, the public aren’t listening to you - Jessie is safely through. Both the panels choices of who isn’t Nancy - safe. Andrew’s worse case scenario was having to choose between Samantha and Rachel;neither Jodie nor maybe even Jessie would have been saved over either of these two. I’m shocked Samantha was in the sing off, the unknown solo song did her no favours - or are we seeing another ’She’ll be safe’ attitude from the audience who wanted to ensure Jessie made it through?

Memory: Samantha all the way for me. Beautiful tone, so clear - that on top of last weeks show song says Samantha should be Nancy. If she’d had this in the solo section, she wouldn’t be in the bottom two, I’m sure. Showed the vulnerability they were looking for earlier, stunning vocal and presence. Rachel looked and sounded desperate, even stealing a glance at Samantha towards the end. If Andrew had chosen Rachel I’ll have been gobsmacked. Rachel out - and Sam will have won more fans with that song, so don’t count on her being the first out next week. The connection issue showed most strongly, a real distinction between both girls - Sam held the gaze of the camera all the way through; Rachel looked above it at nowhere in particular, doing the eye thing again. She did the same with ‘As Long As He Needs Me’ - not the strongest I’ve heard of the girls to leave.

Now then - I have to trust my brother in law to tape the final for me to view at some godforsaken hour! Shocking, isn’t it, that I have a life and will be OUT next week. Another Gethin’s Girls Grand Gathering, no less: If we can find a TV we will watch en masse, but it’s likely we’ll cancel out each others votes, so ’Good Luck’ to Jessie, Jodie and Samantha and here’s to a wonderful final.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Sportsday *note to self: check more often!*

Paralympian Dave Roberts added to his freestyle world record collection by taking the 200m mark at the German Open Swimming championships.
Roberts, who competes in the S7 category, is now the world record holder over 50, 100, 200 and 400m.
Rising star Sam Hynd smashed the S8 200m freestyle mark in the morning heats with a time of 2:11.12.
The women's 50m backstroke also yielded success for the British team with Heather Frederiksen (S8) and Stephanie Millward (S9) breaking European and world records respectively in the heats. Frederiksen, a former open water swimmer, twice lowered the European record, touching home in her heat in 38.04 before lowering it further to 37.53 seconds in the final to win the silver medal.
Millward showed her strength in the heats to claim her world record in a time of 33.84.
There was a silver medal for Charlotte Henshaw in the 100m breaststroke while Eleanor Simmonds took gold in the 200m freestyle youth final where she was followed home by Louise Watkin.

Paralympic World Cup, Manchester.

For the British team, the last major international competition before the Games gives real hope for a golden summer of Paralympic achievement after the host nation won 21 gold medals.

Wheelchair basketball: The British women won bronze with a 57-34 score over Brazil, with Sally Wager weighing in with an impressive 27 points.
As ever, cycling saw a number of world records fall, predominantly to the British team and in doing so claimed an impressive haul of nine golds, with Anthony Kappes, Aileen McGlynn, and Darren Kenny each achieving double glory.
But one of the headline grabbing stories surrounded three-time Paralympic Judo gold medallist Simon Jackson, who only took up cycling three weeks ago. Jackson scooped silver behind Kappes in the tandem in 1.04.982 minutes.
The 35-year-old said: “I’m not even in my third week of cycling yet so it is absolutely fantastic.
More success in the pool they dominated proceedings. Sascha Kindred left the rest of the 100m breaststroke field trailing in his waves as he clocked 1.25.47 minutes with British team mate Matt Whorwood picking up third with a time of 1.33.95 minutes. Youngster Sam Hynd, Paralympic champion Natalie Jones, and rising star Heather Frederiksen all broke world records in an action packed afternoon.
On track, Britain’s David Weir was also in impressive form, winning the 400m and 1500m to confirm his impressive pedigree ahead of Beijing.

Bowls: Alison Merrien beat world number one Val Smith in the final of the 2008 World Indoor Cup at the Warilla Bowls Club in Australia on Friday.
The Guernsey star won the first set 17-3, lost the second 1-10 and took the resulting tie-break 4-0.
It completes a double for her, having won November's 2007 World Champion of Champions at the same venue.
Merrien said: "I'm on the top of the world - it's fantastic to do it once here but twice is even better."
2001 - WIBC Pairs - Winner with Adrian Welch
2002 - WIBC Pairs - Runner-up with Adrian Welch
2004 - WIBC Pairs - Winner with Neal Mollet
2004 - World Outdoor Champion of Champions Singles - Runner-up
2006 - WIBC Pairs - Runner-up with Nick Donaldson
2007 - World Outdoor Champion of Champions Singles - Winner

Canoeing: Great Britain finished with two gold medals at the European flat-water Championships after victories for Tim Brabants and Lucy Wainwright in Milan.

14 year old Tom Daley and Blake Aldridge claimed a first-ever gold for Britain at the Fina Diving World Series to stake their claim for a place at the Olympics.
The duo won the 10m platform synchronised title, scoring a perfect 10 for their second dive in Sheffield.

I just caught the final few laps of the North West 200, won by an emotional Michael Dunlop. His father, motorcycle legend Robert Dunlop was killed in a high-speed crash during a practice lap for the races on Thursday. Knowing how focused you have to be in any competitive sport makes it all the more remarkable that he was able to complete the course in the 250cc race, let alone achieve victory. Illustrates once more the guts and determination you need to succeed at the top and why the world of sport arouses such passion in most of us.

I'd Do Anything, Week 9

Cameron himself on the panel tonight - no pressure then, audience, but let's take note of what he’s looking for. Fascinating to hear them dissecting the girls around a table. What can we discern from the deliberations? Cameron presumably made it clear to them who he wants in the final, which should make choosing who to save a bit easier for Andrew. He said whoever is chosen has six months to mature into the role and he’d like rawness with potential - that suggests Samantha and Jessie to me.

Group song with the Olivers: Food Glorious Food. None (or all, depending on your viewpoint) stood out for me. It’s going to be a close night.

Rachel: Worries about connection - Denise a confirmed fan - Cameron needs to be impressed. He was with ‘Cabaret’ - her best performance so far. Standing ovation led by Andrew. Cameron wants her in the final, Andrew encourages the others though, he wants them to match it. It was a stunning performance. She put everything into it. And no hiccups vocally. Still did that funny thing with her eyes though - that’s the connection issue, she doesn’t seem to aim at the dancers or the audience, her eyes just don’t connect anywhere long enough.

Jessie: John isn’t a fan, she’s not feminine enough. Andrew says she has ‘Star Quality’ - Cameron moved by her singing ‘As Long As He Needs Me’ in Andrew’s sitting room. Proves to him she has ability, this is where I got the impression Cameron wants to realise her potential. She’s not there yet - Andrew’s also a fan.
‘What I Did for Love’ - Passionate, became a little aggressive, loved the end. She knows John is against her and she’s fighting her corner, which produced this little gem: “What can I do to excite you?” John: “That’s a question a lot of women have asked!” I think she has the loveliest voice - I hope all three finalists sing ‘As Long As Needs Me’ next week - I’d hate us to choose and then find the Nancy we kick out does it better, because that’s the main one, isn’t it? That’s the one we hear of when we think of Nancy singing.

Duo (1) Samantha and Jodie - Jesus Christ Superstar
Glitzy, full of energy - Sam takes it from Jodie there, vocally and dancing.

Olivers: The final three will be revealed, the mums’ll be in tears. From the little we heard they all sounded wonderful - my favourite is Harry, he looks and sings the part. Gwion, Laurence and Harry have it.

Samantha: Really grown, they reckon, though John unconvinced about vulnerability. Hasn’t moved Cameron yet. She takes on board everything though. ‘When you Believe’ - don’t think this song helped - needed a better known weepie. Still a very strong performance, fantastic vocal. John’s now a fan “Powerhouse performer” - Denise - "likeability factor, appeals to men and women, Nancy needs that." Barry, keen as always “A star” - Cameron - sure she’ll be here next week. Andrew agreed re the song - she’s got time to learn.

Jodie: Andrew “Should be a good Nancy but…” Cameron “Has it all but not all the time…” She needs more grit, less glitz. Barry can see her as Nancy. They’re in two minds, so am I. ‘Out Here On My Own’ - best since ‘Send In the Clowns’ - I agree with Cameron, that was the only performance previously that had moved me. Denise is almost in tears, it didn’t quite take me like that but the emotion was there. Worst comment of the night from Cameron, in the nicest possible way “Slightly matronly.” That she is who many people ‘see’ as Nancy will count against her with Cameron if he genuinely wants a 'different' Nancy.

Duo (2) Jessie and Rachel - Jessie’s going to have to go some, if she’s to secure the public vote to stay, after the panels comments. ‘Buenos Aires’ - Spirited performances but it really is too close to call tonight.

In fact, I can’t decide based just on tonight - my vote has gone to Jessie and Samantha because I’ve preferred them overall to Rachel and Jodie. And my impression of the discussions is that Cameron wants to keep them both, while he isn’t so fussed re Jodie and, apart from tonight, hasn’t really warmed to Rachel. He wants someone different for the role, someone with raw potential - Rachel is already too polished and set in the way she performs. But what do I know? He’ll probably mark her out as his choice later! Ultimately, he wants someone the public will pay to come and see - Rachel may win more votes tonight, but she's been in the bottom two, whereas the other three haven’t.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

CD Review: The Most of Latin Groove - Various, Jazzfm records.

Since ‘the Jazz’ has shut down and moved to a 2hour slot on ClassicFM (midnight to 2.00am - Wow, thanks!) I’m now ironing to this litter of Latin lovelies (as it says on the box) 28 tracks of sheer unadulterated foot- tapping-scat-inducing-no-actual-ironing-being-done-too-busy-salsa-ing groovy tunefulness.

We’re treated to two offerings from Cal Tjader - the relentless pounding of percussion in overtime of ‘Shoshana’ and, featuring Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria, ‘Afro Blue’ - I defy you to keep still before transporting yourself to Rio with the infectious rhythm of Poncho Sanchez’s ‘Yumbambe‘.

If you’ve ever wondered what ‘Mas Que Nada’ means, Ella Fitzgerald kindly translates - forget football on the beach; think more a similar sounding cocktail! *Ahem* Meanwhile, George Benson, who some of you may only know via the likes of ‘In Your Eyes’, will have you shimmying without consent to Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’.

One of my all time favourite things, the dreamy and romantic samba of Seawind ‘He Loves You’ precedes Sergio Mendes, putting in an appearance with a hypnotic cha cha version of … ‘My Favourite Things’. Yes, THAT one!

And when you come to ‘Nature Boy’ by Alex Wilson, well, just put all thoughts of Nat King Cole back there - no, further back - there you go. Funky. Capital F. Following that, set your whistle to ‘Stun’ for Fourth World’s ‘Final Celebration’. You’ll know it when you hear it. Pompey fans will be singing it, hopefully not for another seven years like last time!

The ladies are represented on CD two with the sultry tones and funky ivory tickling of Latin diva Tania Maria on ‘No Ano Que Vem’; while you forget LA to New York and dream of Rio to Paradise, as Patsy Gallant sings ‘Te Caliente’ - without words!

Azymuth’s ‘Jazz Carnival’ was one of the first 12 inch vinyl records I bought - you see how I feel the need to explain what they are, showing my age - here we have an altogether different sound from them: ‘Tudo Due Voce Podia Ser’ featuring Nair Camdia, a smooth and gentle glide. Then you can salsa your butt off to the wonderful party song of Pete Escovedos ‘Cabo Frio’ - you’ll be ba-ba-ba-ing along before you can stop yourself. We end with another major artist from my youth, Bob Marley, being given the Merengada treatment on his ‘No Woman No Cry’. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s Bob himself, the opening vocal retaining that Caribbean feel with pure South American rhythm.

If you loved Gethin and Camilla’s salsa music ‘Azucar’, you’ll love this CD. Real music, played from the heart and soul, you just can’t beat it. And an added bonus, I’ve now re-discovered on the internet not only Jazz Fm but Solar Radio too, a soul music station with a host of familiar names. (Possibly some of the original DJ’s when Horizon/Solar pirate stations were around) Definitely showing my age!

Full track listing:

CD1 -
1. Cal Tjader: Shoshana
2. Poncho Sanchez: Yumbambe
3. Snow boy & the Latin Section: Wild Spirit
4. Ella Fitzgerald: Mas Que Nada
5. Ray Barretto: La Cuna
6. Sarah Vaughan: Nothing Will Be As It Was
7. Duke Pearson and Flora Purim: Stormy
8. George Benson: Summertime
9. Seawind: He Loves You
10. Sergio Mendes: My Favourite Things
11. Paz feat. Frank Holder: Speak Low
12. Neos Original: Original Unlimited
13. Alex Wilson: Nature Boy
14. Fourth World: Final Celebration

CD2 -
1. Cal Tjader deat. Willie Bob & Mongo Santamaria: Afro Blue
2. Dom UM Ranao & Mr Hermano: Coisana 11
3. Tania maria: No Ano Que Vem
4. Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers: Got Myself a Good Man
5. Patsy Gallant: Te Caliente
6. Ray Barretto and New World Spirit: Work Song
7. Azymuth feat. Nair Candia: Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser
8. Marcos Valle feat. Patricia Alvi: Cidade Aberto
9. Pete Escovedo: Cabo Frio
10. The Robin Jones Seven: Atlas
11. Quintetto X: The Jody Grind
12. The Subterraneans: A Night in Tunisia
13. Louis Berenius’ Coup E’tat: Last of the Aztecs
14. Merengada: No Woman No Cry

Rant of the Day (2)

Time for another one I think - what is it with pedestrians? Do they have a death wish? Firstly, this morning, I’m waiting patiently at the lights - they turn green - I set off - stupid woman decides to step in front of me. Oblivious, you think? No, actually, fully aware of what she was doing because she was watching the lights and waiting with a couple of others. So why with the jay-walking? Then on my way home, another one does it - daring me to run her over. I’d had a nice day though, why should I spoil it for myself?

So then we come to the schools: Kids, you expect it, don’t you, because they are a bit blasé about the dangers at that age and will chance their luck. But a mother, accompanying the child with a walking frame? She’s crossing at the section of road just in from a roundabout: There’s a lollipop lady thirty yards up the road (outside the school this kid had just come from). Twenty yards further up past the lollipop lady and there’s another primary school child being pulled back by her mother and chastised in very basic language and I can’t help myself: “There’s a Crossing Lady there, you ...” I’m afraid the wind took my words (which weren't as choice as hers, to be fair.)

Why do they do it? I remember driving round a bend in the same road some time ago and there’s a mother, holding a baby in her arms, darting out and back again because she’s on the blind side of another bend. And yes, there‘s a zebra crossing, literally ten yards away on the next bend, so you can see both directions. I just don’t get them. Is it any wonder so many kids are run over, when their parents haven’t shown them how to cross a road properly?

These people were lucky, they did it in front of me and I’m expecting it - but tomorrow or the day after, the driver will be distracted and BANG!

In case you’re wondering *enters self righteous mode* - I always take mine via the Lollipop Lady. Save a minute or lose your child? Hm, seems it’s a tough choice for some.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

I'd Do Anything Results, Week 8.

‘Consider Yourself’ reprise: Showed the range across the girls, Sam lowest note through Jodie, Rachel, Jessie and Niamh at the top.

Comparing the Olivers: Looks: For that street urchin look I favour Chester, Arthur, Harry and Laurence. And during the song, I preferred the same four vocally! Which is handy.

The Comedy Mission: Phil Jupitus - funny guy and good West Ham lad. What was that show called again? ‘Life Coach’ ? May have to check that one out.

Jodie and Niamh strong in that challenge, though Phil is impressed with each of them. How to choose when it appears we need a combination of them all?

‘Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair’ - a wonderful collective number, every inch a team. And then they show the girls saying who they DON’T think is Nancy again. The Panel's verdict: John - Jessie, two weeks running; Denise and Barry - both Niamh, her age against her.

Samantha, safe and relieved; Jodie, safe and gobsmacked; Niamh - sing off and resigned; Jessie - safe and stunned! Come on girl, move along; Rachel, sing off and gutted. Both she and Niamh have been there before, Rachel the safe consistent one, Niamh with that ethereal quality. Left to the viewers, Niamh would be gone. Can she change Andrew’s mind singing one of his own compositions? He’s looking for vulnerability so she has an advantage over Rachel. ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ Niamh’s type of song - it’s a shame she couldn’t do show songs all the way through. Beautiful sing off, strongest yet, which should be the case at this stage. Andrew’s in a quandary: Rachel it is. Niamh didn’t give in without a fight. Encouraging words for her, he wants to protect her voice for a couple of years. I’m shedding a tear, we’ve spent too many weeks in Niamh’s company and I really didn’t need to see her sister bawling; always guaranteed to set me off.

I'd Do Anything, Week 8

Consider Yourself: Sam showing strong again

Jodie: ‘Holding out for a Hero’. Didn’t do it for me, cruise ship vocal. Sorry, wanted to like her, truly did. And JB, what’s that all about? Two weeks ago she couldn’t be Nancy, this week she’s his perfect Nancy????

Rachel: ‘I Will Always Love You‘: It was going so well and then she verbally tripped on the stairs, picked it up again with a great finish. Good performance, although I dislike the way her eyes dart away as though she’s searching for lyrics written on the stair rail.

Samantha: ‘Defying Gravity’. A proper Musical song - I don’t know it but she delivered it as it should be, a professional show stopping performance. I’ve voted for the first and only time. And Andrew agrees with me about her being the best mover. Her vocal was much stronger that than I‘ve heard before.

Olivers: Jonny bags the final spot, have to say I liked Jordan - he’s very bubbly, I’m sure he’ll do well in the future too.

Jessie: ‘How Do I Live’. Good choice, beautifully sung. She has a lovely tone to her voice. An Irish tomboy Nancy - I don’t see why not, so I’ve voted for her too, because I don’t want to be annoyed if she goes out.

Niamh: ‘Don’t Speak’. LOL at the rugby. Still too poppy rather than feisty - I think maybe because they have to sing in ‘proper’ English, whereas pop songs are sung in that mid Atlantic drawl aren’t they. That’s why there are so many ropey performances on these shows.

So Sam and Jessie stoodout for me tonight, genuinely impressed with Sam and Jessie’s voice I love.

The Josephs and Nancys - 'Dancing in the Street' very enjoyable, again I felt Sam showed strongest there and Jodie. I am concerned there will be a wardrobe malfunction if they make them bop around like that in those necklines though - I think that was worrying Jessie.

From the other three, I don't believe Andrew will save Niamh again, he'll be looking to ensure the three left for the final can do the job; Jessie may be vulnerable too.

Friday, 16 May 2008

On fire last night …

My team slaughtered the rest of the department in the first quiz night for the Challenge Chalice, winning by 21 points! Admittedly, some questions fell kindly:

Who is the Patron Saint of Wales?

What colour is the dragon on the Welsh flag?

Which amazing name topped the list for baby girls in 2007? (Come on, think about what it may mean to a GG!)

And the music round was pretty much restricted to the late 70s - early 80s. The youngsters didn’t stand a chance.

Talking of names, I came across these poor souls recently. I can’t believe they’re for real but I read it somewhere so it must be true: Alison Wonderland; Ella Fant; Russell Sprout; Dwain Pipe; Hedda Lettuce; Dwayne Drop; Gene Pool. If any of you happen to be reading this - are you still talking to your parents?

Word Association

It’s funny how certain things can remind you of something else: The smell of cakes baking and I‘m a ten year old again, fighting with my brother over the cake mix left in the bowl. I discovered Al Jarreau’s ‘Easy’ at number 100 on the JazzFM Top 100 chart and now, every time I send an Electronic Service Instruction at work - an ESI - I break into song. I just can’t help myself. Sad, isn’t it.

Cars: it’s not a lot to ask, is it?

Just to get you from A to B and back, a third-hand little phut-phut runaround, nothing flashy. So I’m depressing the brake pedal (you could’ve been a contender, you know, in another life, you could’ve been in a Ferrari...) and it’s creaking and squeaking and groaning and trembling. I called the garage - since it’s still under the warranty, the three month warranty, that is - I’m not taking any chances. I’d only had it 48 hours when it left me stranded (fuel pipe not secured properly after the service) less than two weeks later the clutch cable snapped (apparently a Daewoo Matiz’s only fault *EEK*) so you understand why I want the brakes checked before I’m left waiting for the AA man again. Especially as the last one didn’t like me nipping into the shopping centre for a coffee while he worked. Tell me, why should we both freeze our bits off? I booked it in yesterday morning for Tuesday.

Typically, the b****** thing hasn’t done it since.

Update, Sunday 18th: Uncle John ('Ullo, John, gotta new ...oh, alright) came round today. He's a mechanic by trade; he reckons the brakes are fine. He said to get them to look at the main bearing though. And the clutch. And the fan belt. Thanks, Uncle John. His actual words on reappearing after a spin around the block were: "It's knackered!" Which I assume is a technical term within the motor trade.

Update, update, Tuesday 20th: It's been in and it's back. Apparently, the brakes were a bit dusty...the clutch has been adjusted so the gears aren't quite so crunchy ...mmn, er, where was I? Oh, yes, I forgot to ask about the fan belt, I shouldn't have had the radio on driving home really, will have to listen more carefully as I think I heard that squeaking again ...may have to take it back ...I took a one year extra warranty and I'm damn well going to get my money's worth.

The things they say (2)

Littl’un is growing up fast. It wasn’t long ago he was quoting the Tweenies but now, well, since he decided to stop hedging his bets (between Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea) and pledged himself to Man. Utd “...forever and ever...” Ronaldo is his favourite player and he’ll “ him wherever he goes and whichever club he’s playing for but they (Man Utd) are confident he will stay with them as he has a four year contract...” he’s now quoting Newsround! Which still doesn’t help us, as a family of Hammers fans, come to terms with his treachery!

Sportsnight - take a deep breath ...

Scotland boxer Alex Arthur is the new WBO super-featherweight champion after Joan Guzman decided to give up his crown and step up to the lightweight division.
Arthur, who’d been the 'interim' champion after beating Koba Gogoladze in July, said: "I'm delighted with the decision by the WBO to give me full world champion status but I felt that I won the title when I beat Gogoladze.”

British canoeist Campbell Walsh, the silver medallist at the Athens Olympics in 2004, won the European Slalom Gold medal in Krakow, the first major international title of his career.

Britain's Louis Smith is delighted after winning the bronze medal in the pommel horse at the World Gymnastics Championships.

Heather Fell won her second Modern Pentathlon World Cup medal of the year as three Britons finished in the top six in the Czech Republic event.

In the rowing world, Team GB’S rowers secured five golds and three silver medals at the World Cup in Munich, with Alan Campbell powering through to win the single scull final, the men’s coxless four, the men’s lightweight double sculls and open weight double sculls and the women’s quadruple scull. The lightweight men's four, men's eight and women's single won silver medals.

Double Olympic champion Ben Ainslie added the European title to his world crown with a stunning win at the 2008 Finn Championship at Scarlino in Italy, clinching his fourth European sailing title.

Shooter Richard Faulds continued his Olympic build-up with a silver medal in the ISSF World Cup at Kerrville in Texas.

Swimmer David Davies won the silver medal in the 10km race at the Open Water World Championships and with it qualified for this summer's Olympics.

Aaron Cook has become the first-ever male British athlete to win a WTF World Junior Championship taekwondo title. The 17-year-old from Dorchester brought an early end to his -78kg final against Korean Yeong Rae while 12-8 ahead.
Liverpool's Bianca Walkden, 16, also excelled at the event in Turkey, taking silver in the +68kg category.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

I'd Do Anything, Week 7

I often comment on the hostesses’ dresses - I’d just like to say how consistently smart Graham has looked every week - not a lot for a wardrobe mistress to play with really, which is a good thing, considering the recent DOI and SCD shows ...

All seem in fine voice for another go at ’It’s a Fine Life’ - it’s easier to compare now there’s fewer of them. Jessie sounds as though she’s been working hard on the accent.

Only two places left in the Oliver final!

The gloves definitely off this week: They made the girls choose who they DON’T think is Nancy - that’s hardly going to foster harmony is it?

Jessie - Niamh, more suited to pop; Niamh - Ashley, voice doesn’t fit; Ashley - Niamh, too young; Jodie - Niamh, too fragile; Sam - Rachel, too polished; Rachel - Sam, too poppy. (looking ahead to the ‘trio’ performances, they probably filmed this when they’d separated!)

They’re trying to show the different sides of Nancy tonight, so for Jessie, following the emotional performance last week, she’s a ‘Fighter’ tonight. She was excellent I thought, great song choice. And the panel are slating her - John and Denise and even Andrew - diction, song choice. Like I said ‘me and panels’. Although Barry and Andrew have both conceded what we all knew - Nancy could quite easily have been Irish. John “but the public expect a Cockney Nancy”. Well, no actually, I’d be quite happy if she’s Irish. The production wanted ‘different’ didn’t they? And you lot really want to make your bloody minds up - that was a raw performance. I’m annoyed I was out now - I can’t vote to try and save her.

Niamh: Just a touch in awe of Celine Dion (who they might have let dress for the group photo, for goodness sake!) “True Colours” Nice vocal, couple of wobbles, she’s a bit more animated which is good to see, makes her a lot more watchable - don’t think her voice will carry her through for a long run though. Andrew likes her, says she’s going places but maybe not just yet.

Ashley: “The funniest teacher ever” the children love her and they want to see maternal Nancy. “I say a Little Prayer for You”. Bit bland to begin with but picked up with the song - the ‘back seat driving’ section was fun, positive - have to agree with Denise re cabaret-stylee. Andrew almost verging on bitchy: “Run for the bus dear, you should take it!" (The Scots will have their phones on redial!)

Olivers: Back at ‘old’ school. Ugh, they’re having gruel - Oliver must have been REALLY hungry, according to Kwayedza! Lawrence is through: He plays both piano and trumpet, good lad! “You Give a Little Love” from Bugsy Malone, what a fantastic film that was and they seem to have suddenly grown up for that performance.

Samantha: ‘Survivor’ - difficult song, well sung. She has the most presence on stage for me, another great performance. Barry genuinely made me laugh: “It’s difficult to dance in high heels, trust me, I know from experience!”

Jodie: That’s the dog lovers’ vote secured. “If I Ain’t Got You” - emotional but also a little bit ’cabaret’, in my humble opinion, although I do still think vocally she’s a real contender. Not sure re the 'moving' - none of them apart from Samantha seem to be really comfortable.

Rachel: “You‘ve Got A Friend” - Hm, another easy listening song - not sure that will endear her to the public again. Nice performance, not overacted, good vocal - but doesn’t stand out one way or the other. She may be in trouble again but Andrew will probably save her. Or not - Andrew is in critical mood tonight!

The ‘Trio’ songs - Young v Old(er, slightly) girls.

Candy man: Niamh, Jessie, Sam - Really enjoyable although I felt Niamh was left behind by Sam and Jessie’s energy - we found ScattyJessie! It's been a good weekend for jazz influences.

Man, I feel Like a Woman: Ashley, Jodie and Rachel: Jodie and Ashley not the best of dancers, showed Rachel off better than her solo song.

Andrew non committal: What fun!

Top two for me then: Jessie and Sam. Bottom two - after last week I’m giving up predicting, we know no-one’s safe. Who would Andrew NOT save and why? Niamh, loves her but she’s not ready yet - Ashley, hated her tonight - Rachel, disappointed she didn’t take on board his advice from last week. Jodie - not sure she’d choreograph well - Jessie, not impressed this week (but I think last week would be taken into account) Sam he really enjoys, she’s probably feeling most secure - but what if she’s there with Jessie?

Stay tuned! Results are in ...The Special Assignment segment involved John B, a stunt man, a bottle and a punch - bet the girls enjoyed letting off steam. I wonder who they were thinking of - the panel are confusing the hell out of them with contrary comments each week. The boys chose Niamh to duet on ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ - I thought Lawrence outshone her.

The panel’s verdict on who isn’t Nancy this week. Jessie (John, unimpressed with her acting) Ashley (Denise) Rachel (Barry).

The public vote: Samantha, safe; Jodie, safe; Rachel NOT safe, may be in the sing off; Jessie, safe; Niamh and Ashley brought stage front to join Rachel. Ashley - sing off; Rachel safe. So Niamh in the sing off. Lowest viewer vote - Ashley. Guess the Scots were too distracted by the footie.

‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina’ - I personally don’t see either of them as Nancy, completely different vocally, not sure who I preferred there. I’d expect him to choose Niamh and I’m right. I think Ashley has been one of the strongest actresses though.

Young Musician of the Year

I’ve never watched this before, but as a loyal ‘GG’ it’s my duty to listen to the narrator and the charter demands I will be watching this evening! So thanks Geth - I wouldn’t have heard these wonderful people if it wasn’t for you. Considering I’m a musical numpty, it was nice of the judges to choose my favourites to go through! Unfortunately, life demands my attention therefore I had to forego the actual programmes and check out the performances on I-player - so that’s me on a written warning from Lady Sparkling of Champagne Manor!

The Finalists

Strings - Jadran Duncomb, guitar. For me this is a jazz instrument so already I was biased. He was completely lost in his playing and I adored the ‘Tango en Skein’ piece. Just him on stage, wonderful, could have listened all night.

Woodwind: David Smith, flute. There’s something magical about a flute, reminds me of wood nymphs and faeries and enchanted forests. I’d enjoyed Melanie Rothman’s blues piece - but Zoom Tube blew me away - was not expecting that - Scattyflute! How cool is this lad, was that risky?

Brass: Peter Moore, trombone. Totally grabbed my attention with his first piece - Peaslee Arrows of time, 1st mvmt, Jazz Feeling - can’t think why! Piano wasn’t just accompanying - they were jammin’! Then I was lost in the second, swaying in front of the computer, waving candles.

Percussion: Jim Molyneux. I knew I’d enjoy this section! Specially David Elliott’s Charlie Parker piece - I didn’t know they had so much jazz in YMOTY! Daniel Day ‘Grooved it up’ - his own composition - I’m guessing there aren't many classical composers for percussion. Jim played two of his own also, one called simply ‘Hit Stuff’ - cracking title! Final piece - ‘Latin’ - awesome, loved it. I’m so biased! I actually clapped; my son called me weird.

Keyboard: Erdem Misirlioglu. No jazz here, more traditional compositions. What set him apart from the others? I’ve no idea, since I don’t know my Chopin Liszt’s from my Brahms and Liszt’s, but the others I found myself skipping through, whereas ‘Adagio’ I didn’t, it was beautiful. And he seemed to feel every note he played.

Now looking forward to the final of the Young (Jazz?) Musician of the Year!

BVFC Do's ...and Don'ts!

A big weekend on the football front. No, not Man U or Chelsea for the Premiership - The Bredhurst Village Presentation night on Friday saw my excited 7 year old receive his first ever trophy; he was as happy as I’d be if they invented a fat free Ripple. And last night was the 10th Anniversary of the club forming, so my older son picked up his ‘Services to Bredhurst Village’ along with most of his team, managed by hubby.

We hired the Boardroom at Gillingham FC (very, very impressive for a now second division club) for dinner and dancing to a mix of live two piece ensemble and a few disco classics. A wonderful evening only marginally spoilt by the older lad puking up in the car on the way home. Luckily, he was in a friend’s car! Suitably embarrassed this morning, he was pushed out of the house with directions to the nearest flower shop. And a bucket and sponge. Let’s hope he’s learnt his lesson about beer. Not going to lecture too much, since most people have been there. My one and only time, aged 15, came when out with my parents at their friend’s house. Left alone in the kitchen I decided to just ‘taste’ a bit of everything! Teetotal for about 3 years after that.

Friday, 9 May 2008


So, even though, with hubby away and no alarm clock screaming at me at 6am - why I am still awake early enough to write a review?

The brochure blurb probably did this show a disservice - we were expecting a dance fest, akin to ‘Simply Ballroom’ - instead it was a showcase for the five piece band, Tango Siempre, featuring dancing by four Latin American dancers who appeared in the trailers for Strictly Come Dancing some time ago. So after the dancers left the stage following their first dance, we’re thinking: isn’t it nice that the band carry on playing for us, whilst the dancers change for their next one?

Set as it was in the less than salubrious surroundings of Chatham’s Central Theatre (can somebody please take a broom to the stage, and how about a new back curtain while you’re at it, that one’s full of holes) it took a while to warm up. The tango, as you know, is moody and passionate; the Argentine Tango sultry - the atmosphere wasn’t helped by the dancers taking to the stage looking as though they were going to splutter into giggles any second - think the Roman soldiers in the infamous Biggus Dickus/Incontinentia Buttox ‘Life of Brian’ scene and you get my drift. Neither the pianist, Jonathan, who introduced the songs, nor the dancers themselves, let us in on the joke.

The realisation that the band weren’t there just to accompany the dancing gave fresh scope for enjoyment, particularly as Jonathan spoke to us more, telling the story behind his songs. ‘Grey Shoes’ was my favourite dance - a fiery affair with the two male dancers fighting over a lone female. A little confusing at the end, as the guys left the stage together, leaving her alone, but hey, each to their own!

The third dance was playful, the fourth fast and intricate, even with a wardrobe malfunction familiar to SCD watchers (heel caught in hem) and both dancing and music ventured into different territory after the interval; best song of the night for me was the Astor Piazolla/John Coltrane inspired ‘Giants Steps’ or ‘Big Feet’ Jonathan said it actually translated as!

It should have been an altogether more glamorous affair; with only the stalls occupied and the ‘set’ reminding me of a dusty old attic full of junk - the show itself lacked pizazz. I’d enjoy seeing it again I think, but perhaps in a more intimate, Latin club setting instead of a half empty suburban theatre. I’m sure the band would prefer that too, the wry smile between bassist and pianist early doors held a hint of: At least it pays the bills. An accomplished band of musicians fusing classical, tango and jazz and with a Latin Grammy nomination to their credit, they deserved better, maybe being booked under the banner of the upcoming Medway Fuse Festival would have been a wiser decision.

For further info on Tango Siempre, visit

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

A little bit of freedom ...

Hubby won a short break at work and has flown off to Monte Carlo with a few colleagues, really, I'm not jealous at all. I could've gone if I'd wanted to - only childcare and the lack of a few thousand quid stopped me. He made me go shopping for a new wardrobe with him. I mean, why couldn't he use a suitcase like everyone else? And then I had to help pack; fitting clothes around a couple of pairs of shoes is confusing, isn't it, even when you're only taking enough for three days!

Monday, 5 May 2008

I’d Do Anything Results Show: What a Shocker!

Just pretend we don’t know what happened, while I run through it for you, looking for pointers as to why we lost quite possibly the strongest vocalist. (Aside from the fact that I didn’t vote!)

The Reprise - Who Will Buy? Samantha and Jessie sounding and moving with aplomb after the positive responses on their individual numbers. Flashback to the show and it’s all in the look - Andrew isn’t keen after Sarah’s performance whereas with Sam he can’t stop smiling and then with Jessie - rapture. Ashley would‘ve been gone right there. The curse of Barry Humphries? You don’t need scary music, frankly.

Down the East End, in the real Queen Vic with Babs Windsor and Denise - Jodie sounds the part, as does Jessie, very emotional; Ashley, surprisingly good. A pointer there, as Denise is concerned about Sarah’s acting - a strength in previous tasks.

Fings Ain’t What They Used To Be: Sam very strong, Jessie with renewed confidence in being herself.

Those cheeky Olivers, making the Nancys wait - they’ve chosen Sarah, a real boost which would make Andrew’s decision all the harder to accept. Good, fun performance together - I can see about her size though - she’s not much bigger than the boys - does she have the presence required?

The Sunset Boulevard song - group coaching. Andrew makes it even tougher for himself to choose when the time comes; his own song and expectations thereof.

The panel all disagree who shouldn’t be Nancy: John - Jodie (surprising) Denise - Sarah (second indication from her of shock to come) Barry - Ashley (predictable, Ashley now bracing herself).

Jodie, safe - isn’t she just the spit of her mum? Samantha, safe; Jessie, safe; Sarah - sing off! OMG - confirmation of Denise’s hints; Rachel, Ashley and Niamh brought forwards - two safe, one not - Niamh, safe; Ashley, convinced it’s her - SAFE! Rachel crushed, incredulous (the public don’t like that sort of attitude, Sarah gave a tiny hint of it at Barry’s comments after her performance.) Is this the dreaded sympathy vote - assuming the Sarahs are safe to vote for someone the panel have a down on? The public were almost caught out over Alesha in SCD, you’d think they’d have learned their lesson.

But what a shocker! The panel’s favourite, Rachel, lowest with the public (we’ve seen similar in SCD, of course, but it’s unusual). On this show, Andrew has definitely favoured Rachel, but will he save her? And I thought it was my imagination but there didn’t seem to be the same warmth between Andrew and Sarah as he had with the other girls during their session. He’s changed his mind on us before though and he seems to be struggling; I’ve got tears in my eyes - they both sang beautifully. He’s gone for who he feels will do a better overall job - he’s the master, who am I to argue? I do love Sarah’s voice; maybe it just wasn’t raw enough for the part of Nancy as they see it. That bubbliness they coached out of her possibly cost her the public affection - we like warm and bubbly, don’t we. She’s learned the hard way something Jessie had the chance to correct - staying true to yourself. In a closed audition, yes, adhere to the panel and judges but this was a public vote, so - how can I say this politely? I know, I shan’t bother - sod the panel!

And don’t blame your selection of Mr. Bojangles, Andrew - blame the fact that you coaxed great performances from all the girls, making it tough for the audience. If I’m completely truthful, none of the girls have yet convinced me they’re right for the part - I wonder, are the panel regretting any of their choices when whittling down to the final twelve?

Game on!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

I'd Do Anything, Week 6

Big Band night - Yippee!

Andrew taking a hand in helping the girls this week, let’s see the difference. He’s telling us what to look out for and they know exactly what they have to do to impress him.

First up: Group song “Who will Buy” Sarah and Samantha sounding strong there.

Jodie: Luck be a Lady - a good performance, bit too controlled for me and there was one baaaad note there. Making nice comments about Andrew - can’t hurt can it? Graham said: “The anger management is kicking in!”

Sarah: Mr Bojangles - one of my fave songs - and ‘Hurrah’ a lovely dress for Sarah at last. She makes it sound so effortless. Didn’t know her surname was Lark - how very apt!

They both did as they were asked but then they have been very consistent.

Rachel: For Once in My Life - The rehearsal sounded a bit poppy, and ooh, look at him when he’s speaking to you!!! A mixture, some bits I loved - sounded beautiful - other bits sounded bland. The 'happy' performance they wanted though.

Samantha: Sway - Looking gorgeous, great dancing, the vocal suffered because of the exertion but very enjoyable - she could always do SCD if this doesn’t work out. Andrew’s so sweet - “Delicious but not rude!” Just like the GG’s!

Olivers: High School Musical, basketball routine. My seven year old is being forced to watch this at school at the moment - he must be only kid his age who hates it! Harry chosen. Have to say, they didn’t sound so great on that, a fair few dud notes tonight, lads.

Niamh: Rehearsal sounds good - this is her style - They Can’t Take That Away From Me. She hopes! Lovely vocal but needs a bit more flamboyance I think, especially in her facial expression, she’s so still.

Jessie: The Man Who Got Away - a Judy Garland song. Tough ask. ‘Be yourself’ good advice. Passionate, best so far, there’s something so different about her. If the kids hadn’t started fighting and I’d watched it live, I’d have voted for the first time. Andrew’s stunned: “Greatest performance I’ve ever seen a young girl give.” Wow! I think Jessie’s safe tonight.

Ashley: Hey Big Spender: This will need a big performance. Encouraging words from Andrew, giving her confidence. Not sure about this myself, again, some bits I liked, some I didn’t. I don’t think the dress helped. The least flattering out of an otherwise lovely wardrobe tonight, for a change.

It’s much tougher now - bottom two I think possibly Ashley and maybe Niamh again. Jessie the best for me, and Sarah I like too. Thought Sam’s overall performance was very good, but vocally I think she’s one of the weakest. A much better choice of songs this week. Apart from Jessie, I’m still not being blown away by any performances.

ALW takes a lot of stick - since watching this, I think he’s great. He nurtures and encourages and those girls all put in stronger performances tonight. You don’t have to be Mr.Nasty to get results!

Friday, 2 May 2008

Thank Crunchie it's Friday

It’s been a busy old week and ...oh, hang on, it’s hard to type with a Crunchie ...there, all nestling nicely on its special cushion ...what? Doesn’t everyone have one?
Firstly, I’m happy to report that on my fourth Weight Watchers Weigh-in, I achieved my ‘Silver Seven’ for the first half stone lost! (Don’t worry, I’ve allowed for the Crunchie!) I’m amazed, quite frankly, since it was my birthday this week and I had two bits of Colin the Chocolate Caterpillar Cake. A bit of a DIY birthday actually - I’ve booked the Indian restaurant for Sunday (I hope they don’t take away the Silver Seven if you put any pounds back on)and I’m waiting in most of the day on Tuesday for a rowing machine to be delivered; No.1 son deposited a pile of coins outside the bedroom door with an “I dunno which one it is, can you get it?” for my necklace and earring set; I bought my own new trainers because “White slip on ones, anything will do” was far too specific, as was “anything by Givenchy”. Still, no.2 son, bless him, had a surprise for me. I’d bought him a disposable camera to take on a school trip next week - he burst into my bedroom, shouting “SMILE” and CLICK! before I could stop him, only, I was drying my hair at the time, something I always do before dressing! Needless to say, the film is now as exposed as I was and in the bin.

On the sporting front, former World Champion Tim Don won the Tongyeong BG Triathlon World Cup in South Korea, continuing his impressive early season form, with fellow Brit Hollie Avil taking silver in the women's event.

Had to laugh and then run for 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves' during Wednesday's 'The Apprentice', when dippy Michael got me thinking twice about that damn apostrophe! (The card lady got it wrong by the way, she went for singular possessive! Tut tut!) As for Kevin, fancy not taking the only other person Sir Alan may have fired - Jenny **Harpie Alert! Harpie Alert!** - into the boardroom. What a muppet.