Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Big Stick

How do you deal with a group of residents on a quiet housing estate who happen to lob out a few crusts of bread to feed passing ducks? Why, you send them a letter. The council's housing management officer for Bridlington, East Yorkshire sent out the following:

"I have noticed on visits to the area and from complaints received by the council that there are often pieces of bread on the ground which ducks and seagulls are feeding from. This practice, and the excessive amount of seagulls, are causing a nuisance to other residents.

We can also seek a number of legal remedies to prevent you from behaving in such a manner to exclude you from the locality. A breach of some of these can lead to a prison sentence. If you lose your home as a result of anti-social behaviour, we do not have to re-house you."

How utterly delightful. Fortunately, not everyone working at the council is quite so dictatorial. The council's head of housing and public protection, said:

"We do fully accept the letter sent to tenants was too heavy handed and not appropriate in the circumstances. There are a lot of people who can't get out and love to see the ducks in their garden.

We are in the process of writing to all those who received the letter to apologise, and as head of service I am extremely sorry for any distress this caused."

OK, but what of the original letter writer? Perhaps a course of diplomacy and how to deal with the public would not be remiss. And get them to write the letter of apology.


Believe it or not, but the above picture of a mannequin on the bog has been shortlisted for the 2008 Turner Prize at the Tate.

The "artist" has placed the mannequin on a lavatory next to two supermarket check out counters. Four horse-shoes and bits of discarded wood dangle from wires attached to the mannequin's head, and there appears to bear no relevance to the check-out counters on which the artist has arranged bowls and spoons, as well as empty jars with the remnants of food. Scattered across the floor are piles of tiles and broken pottery in a plastic bag.

Now I am acutely aware I have no artistic appreciation in the least and consider this to be a steaming turd of a blatant con. However, I'll leave a couple of quotes from critics who know what they are talking about and you can decide:

One of three Turner Prize curators, saw deep meaning in the installation, explaining that the artist was “searching out the language of objects- things we overlook in our daily life”, and making us look at them with “fresh eyes”. She claimed that the artist had placed each found object with extreme precision.

Her colleague, the Tate's chief curator, added: “It's as if the narrative has been stripped away. You're left trying to make sense of the objects to each other and to ourselves.” She applauded the artist for prompting “so many questions” from the viewer.

I've certainly got a few questions all right...

If you can bear any more of this cobblers, have a read here: TTimes

Sorry About This

Following problems in the sub prime lending market in the States and its devastating effect on Northern Rock and Bear Stearns, uncertainty has now hit Japan.

In the last 7 days the famous Origami Bank has folded, the Sumo Bank has gone belly up and the Bonsai Bank announced plans to cut some of its branches.

Yesterday it was announced that Karaoke Bank is up for sale and will likely go for a song, today shares in Kamikaze Bank were suspended after they nose dived and 1 000 staff at Karate Bank got the chop.

Analysts report there is something fishy going on at Sushi Bank where it's feared customers may get a raw deal.

Oh, come on, at least it's topical! ;-)

Old Enough to Shave

Delaware in America remains the only state in which 12 year olds can legally marry with parental consent.

Rossi World Champion

What with the hotel change, room swaps and all the excitement of new surroundings, I completely forgot to mention that Valentino Rossi has regained his Moto GP crown by winning the Japanese GP at Montegi on the weekend. The 29 year old Italian, captured his sixth world premier-class title- and his first since 2005.

Well done and we look forward to seeing him next month.

1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Ita 312

2 Casey Stoner Ducati Aus 220
3 Dani Pedrosa Honda Spa 209
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Spa 169
5 Andrea Dovizioso Honda Ita 136
6 Colin Edwards Yamaha US 118
7 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki Aus 117
8 Nicky Hayden Honda USA 115
9 Loris Capirossi Suzuki Italy 96
10 Shinya Nakano Honda Jpn 95

12 James Toseland Yamaha GB 85

Rossi has won the 125 cc and 250 cc crowns before taking the 500cc/Moto GP elite class crown from 2001 to 2005. This season he broke fellow countryman Giacomo Agostini's record of 68 top-class race wins, and two more seasons in Moto GP with Yamaha could potentially give him a chance to match Agostini's record of eight premier-class titles.

F1 at Night

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A couple of amazing pics from the first ever night time F1 Grand Prix in Singapore. Awesome.

For Sale

Actual ads, with thanks to Brendan:

FREE YORKSHIRE TERRIER. 8-years old. Hateful little bastard. Bites!

FREE PUPPIES: 1/2 Cocker Spaniel, 1/2 sneaky neighbour's dog.

FREE PUPPIES... Mother, AKC German Shepherd. Father, Super Dog...able to leap tall fences in a single bound.

FOUND DIRTY WHITE DOG. Looks like a rat. Been out a while. Better be a big reward.

COWS, CALVES: NEVER BRED. Also 1 gay bull for sale.

NORDIC TRACK £300 Hardly used, call Chubby.

JOINING NUDIST COLONY! Must sell washer and dryer £300.

WEDDING DRESS FOR SALE . Worn once by mistake. Call Stephanie.

FOR SALE BY OWNER: Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica, 45 volumes. Excellent condition. £1,000 or best offer. No longer needed, Got married last month. Wife knows everything.

Eagle Eyed Joe

Those of you with keen observation may have noticed the addition of a couple of new widgets on the RHS of the Blog. Just above the Local Time Clocks, we've added a countdown timer to remind us when we out stay our welcome (and it will remind you of where we currently are) and also a local weather guide to rub your noses into the glorious conditions we can expect for the day. Hopefully...

This means that we can simplify our Ticker Messages as they were getting a bit heavy and OTT. We can now just lob up a few factuals, announcements of interest and of course plug Helen's holiday offer in Morzine (20% discount if you book and mention our name).

We'll be updating the Ticker in the next day or so and hopefully it will be a bit more streamlined and neater for you.

20-20 Vision

The technical name for the nose rest on a pair of glasses is the grapan.
The top 20 coolest brands in the UK, according to CoolBrand's annual list of the most-iconic brands:

1. Aston Martin

2. iPhone

3. Apple

4. Bang & Olufsen

5. YouTube

6. Google

7. Nintendo

8. Agent Provocateur

9. Rolex

10. Tate Modern

11. Dom Perignon

12. Virgin Atlantic

13. Ferrari

14. Ducati

15. Playstation

16. Sony

17. Nike

18. Boss

19. Facebook

20. Lamborghini

A Man Walks Into a Pub

Well, hops- he only had one leg.

A man who had his leg amputated when he was 29 after a benign tumour was removed was in the process of saving up forty grand to buy a "bionic" one he had read about in America. Now 42 and not having saved anywhere near the amount he needed, he popped into his local for a pint, where he met another chap, also enjoying a beer.

Luckily though, the second man was a surgeon who specialised in fitting the computer-controlled limbs, and he mentioned he had a spare leg and could fit it for free. Whih he did.


Le Rozzers

Motorists who do not carry reflective jackets or warning triangles in their vehicles risk on the spot fines if they are stopped on French roads under new laws coming into force tomorrow (Wednesday, 1st October 2008).

Failure to comply could lead to a fine ranging from £71.51 (90 Euros) to £107.27 (135 Euros) so make sure you comply before setting off on your continental trip.

More Good News

The English tradition of Morris dancing could soon die out unless the younger generation start getting invloved.

A Morris dance is a form of English folk dance, usually accompanied by music. Objects including sticks, swords, and handkerchiefs are "wielded" by the dancers and in a small number of dances for one or two men, steps are performed near and across a pair of clay tobacco pipes laid across each other on the floor.

Morris dancing is performed by men wearing costumes consisting of white shirt and trousers, and a hat adorned with flowers and ribbon. Garters are worn around the legs and bells are attached and whilst its origins are vague,some say it derives from pre-Christian fertility rites. Others feel that it is from the French Moresque or the Spanish Morisca dances of the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

Usually, it would be the young men of the village who would dance the Morris to impress the young ladies.

As if...

Patience is a Virtue

Ministers have told Royal Mail to close 2 500 out of 14 000 post office branches in an attempt to cut the network's annual subsidy by £40 million to £150m a year and stem losses running at £4m a week and so customers are now having to wait nearly half an hour to be served in post offices queues- nearly six times longer than in official guidelines.

Good to hear they are improving.

More here: TTel

Leave a Message After the Tone

One quarter of all telephone calls are answered by voice mail or an answering machine.

Bubble Head

Kristin Scott-Thomas (and I honestly have no idea who she is either) believes that texting has led to an increase in audiences for subtitled films.

“They’re not afraid of them. It’s one of the upsides of text-messaging and e-mail. Maybe the only good thing to come of it,” she guffed on to The New York Times.

Funny how foreign films have been around far longer than mobiles and computers, isn't it pet? Now go and lie down in a darkened room to rest your over-worked brain cell, there's a dear.

Black Dog

Rumours are suggesting Led Zeppelin may embark on a world tour without Robert Plant.

After stating that he plans to leave the concert stage for at least two years, he said:

“I wish Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham nothing but success with any future projects,”

That would be like going to see Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott. Utterly pointless.

Respect Your Elders

One in every 15 Britons now in their mid-eighties will live to be more than 100, as a result of improved nutrition and medical treatment and there were 9 300 people aged 100 or more in Britain last year, an increase of almost 1 000 on 2005.

Which may explain why the volume of complaining is so much greater nowadays. ;-)

It'll Never Catch On

Will it?

Suggesting that heavy rain causes severe damage to infrastructure, buildings and agriculture in the area, the authorities in the Emilia Romagna of Ravenna region have added 3% to water bills to maintain and improve drainage systems after downpours.

Indeed, the Ravenna water board is so enthusiastic about the new tax that it wants to backdate it three years, claiming that the payments will save it 1€ million (£800 000) a year.

Expect your backdated bill through the post any day now, along with your sun and air tax demand to help save the environment- naturally.

Ravenna is connected to the Adriatic by a canal which was overwhelmed by floods in 1636. A network of canals was built to divert nearby rivers and drain marshland, creating a protective belt of agricultural land around the city. The Po delta receives 750mm of rain a year, mostly in November, December and January.

Lovely Cuppa

It seems that not all businesses are feeling the pinch.

Tearooms are becoming more popular as people rediscover that sharing a pot of tea is far kinder to the wallet than a fancy sounding coffee. Some places are reporting a 30% increase in trade over the past 12 months.

And why not, it is after all the nation's most famous drink so why not go back to basics?

End of Another Month

Can't believe how quickly the time is flashing past. Tomorrow October starts and sees us embark on our 31st month on the road, meaning that we have now cleared two and a half years.

Outside of a short fortnight to the UK for Christmas 2006, we have been away from the country all these months and the longer we stay away, the more we have no intention of returning.

Again, let me stress that there is nothing wrong with England and we owe it a huge debt of gratitude for the education and working opportunities it has provided. It has looked after us extremely well but there other places around this globe that need to be discovered first hand to experience what alternatives life can offer and we intend to sample as many as we can.

So, two and a half years later, our third country in Asia in as many months and we have only just started this leg of the tour. How can this not get any better?

So How is the New Gaff, Dude?

Bloody brilliant, as it goes and quite honestly how we wished we had picked this one up sooner. Again, I can't praise the Blue River Hotel highly enough, well, that isn't quite true- it's Thuy who makes the stay at the hotel so good, but when it comes to facilities, this place wins hands down.

It's like comparing a hostel to a hotel and the differences (though not in price; they're identical) are abundant.

For a start, the internet connection was instant with excellent signal strength (100%) and no messing around. A simple password and wallop, we were in. OK, we still have to see how the main one hooks up (lying dormant in the rucksack as we speak), but we have the option to connect via a cable so it's looking good.

The TV is also larger and a flat screen option giving a better view with superior sound too, and all the great channels are available which will keep us occupied into the night. Apparently Malaysia will not be too good for English entertainment on the small screen and this could prove to be problematic. We shall have to see.

The bathroom is wonderful too, and it has a separate shower area with curtain to keep the rest of the areas dry. The shower it self is one of top end luxury allowing a choice of two heads, one the size of a dust bin lid to you get an instant downpour. Lovely.

Additional touches, such as an enclosed fridge to keep the noise down, an electric kettle for DIY coffee, lockable cupboard, bedside cabinet with reading light, two sets of towels- it just goes on and on.

We are really going to enjoy the rest of our stay here. :o)

All Good

Our transfer from the Blue River Hotel to our current and new home, the Viet Nghi Hotel went remarkably smoothly. OK, that is not difficult as all we had to do was take our stuff and carry it approximately 100 metres around the corner et voila.

For some reason though, they have put us into a room for one night only and later on today we will get yet another new room, which meant there was no point in unpacking and so we just had a day out.

It also explains why I am once more using wifey's mini-laptop to hack my way through a cyber space until we can set up the main "command centre" and we can settle in properly.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Venice on the Cheap

Wifey loves this city. I dislike it for the way it obviously rips people off and it seems I am not alone in this feeling. A room in a mediocre hotel can cost more than £150 a night; a disappointing meal in an average trattoria more than £35 a head; a single ride on a water bus £5.30; and use of a public lavatory 80p a time.

The Telegraph shows you how to do it on the cheap and it may be well worth keeping an eye on the series. How to get and stay in Venice for a couple of nights for less than two hundred sovs:

How they did it-

Getting there: easyJet £49 return
Accommodation: £73 at B&B S. Marco
Two dinners: Birraria La Corte, £12; Osteria Al Ponte La Patatina, £25 = £37
Total: £159

(Price is per person based on two sharing for two nights’ B&B over a weekend in the cheapest room in late November .)

More details here:

I seem to recall wifey doing it for far less when we were there last, but we caught the train from Trieste and she also found the most delightful B & B right in the heart of the city for around forty euros per night.

More Misery For Motorists

A Workplace Parking Levy (WPL), which is being pioneered in Nottingham, is to be considered as a source of income at a conference being held to discuss “generating new revenue streams” for local councils.

The scheme is highlighted as a way of raising money for other transport projects in a report by the Core Cities Group, which represents Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield and they will hear how the trial in Nottingham could eventually see companies being charged 350 quid per employee parking space. It will not be illogical to assume some companies will pass on this "perk" to their staff...

Here's the hook:

“The business case for the introduction of WPL in Nottingham proposes a level of charge that generates annual income of around £10.8million by 2014.”

When will it end?

Not Paying Enough?

You may soon be.

Council employees (probably with stun guns, black unifroms and knee high boots) will soon be patrolling the streets and dishing out £100 penalty notices and residents who fail to pay within two weeks could end up with a £5 000 fee and a criminal record.

Homeowners are at risk of being fined if they fail to remove their bins after a collection or leave them in the wrong place and bin owners should only put their rubbish out the night before and remove them the day of the rubbish collection. I wonder what you are expected to do if you go on holiday?

Residents could receive a fine if they fail to put their bin in spaces allocated outside their homes.

Under proposed changes, councils could refuse to empty bins that are too far from a curb, not placed directly outside a gate or put out on the street too early.

The plan is expected to be trialled by councils in Northern England.

More at: TTel

And the Agony Continues

I had the misfortune to watch the Portsmouth versus Spurs game yesterday. It was dire and we got no more than we deserved, losing 0-2 (although we did have a couple of harsh decisions against). I am puzzled with some Ramos' choices to play and cannot understand why he changed a winning line up from the mid-week win (yes, win) against fellow strugglers in the Carling Cup. No idea, there.

It still leaves us firmly in last spot without a single win in the Premiership and I will be thoroughly relieved to avoid relegation next year. We suck; BIG TIME.

Bielefeld didn't do much better, drawing away with Frankfurt 1-1, despite leading from the 7th minute- only to concede the equaliser in the 87th minute. All in all (aside Southend's grand win), another washout for the footie this weekend.

When do the conker championships begin again?

Two Interesting Films

One odd one, Hard Luck which is mentioned due to Cybill Shepherd's most unusual side role as a complete nutter-serial killer (with Wesley Snipes), which she must have just loved to have done, and the other The Hoax with Richard Gere and a personal favourite, Alfred Molina, who write an "authorised" biography about Howard Hughes- without him knowing. Based on a true story.

Both a look at if you get the chance.

Cheap Does Not Always Equal Good

Fancied a challenge yesterday and so we looked for the cheapest meal deal we could find. A local curry house offered us a lunch time "special", including chicken curry, a lentil dish, vegetarian main meal, rice, naan and two drinks for less than three quid all in.

Whilst it was perfectly edible, it arrived without plates or forks (just serving spoons and bowls and was just a tad too authentic for our tastes.

OK for an experiment but that's as far as it goes.

Moving Out

New hotel time, as we leave the Blue River Hotel today.

Aside from the connectivity issue, which has not been sorted out once in our entire stay of 14 nights, the place has been more than comfortable. However, we hope the new pad will offer superior internet, particularly as we have cable/LAN hook up and so onwards we must travel.

A quick look at the news and we'll hopefully see you tomorrow again.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Apres School

A new learning centre, Nottingham East "academy" (why do they have to spin it? It's just a bloody school, so call it one), which will have 3 570 pupils, claims it will be the first establishment to scrap homework. It will instead have an extra lesson and after-school activities such as sport, model aircraft-building and sari-making.

Government guidelines suggest primary schools should set pupils between 1 and 2 1/2 hours per week, while those at secondaries receive up to 2 1/2 hours a day. Many of the most academically successful schools in the private and state sectors prescribe three or four hours of homework a night for older children.

Which begs the question of when kids get time to "play" then? Four hours a day? Assuming you finish at 16:00, by the time you get back, wash, get changed and have your tea it could well be 18:00 before you start and then it's to bed at 22:00? No wonder kids are getting frustrated...

Anyway, the move to scrap homework is to avoid detentions and family rows caused by said detentions and so makes some sense. Let's see how it pans out.

More here: The Sunday Times

Top Ten Blogger Commandments

The guidelines have been drawn up at a conference in London by the Evangelical Alliance in response to concern at how religious blogs can quickly descend into vitriol:

1 You shall not put your blog before your integrity
2 You shall not make an idol of your blog
3 You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin
4 Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog*
5 Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes
6 You shall not murder someone else's honour, reputation or feelings
7 You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind
8 You shall not steal another person's content
9 You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger
10 You shall not covet your neighbour's blog ranking. Be content with your own content

I wonder how many I have already broken? :o)

Story here: The Sunday Times

*Checks calendar...

Pi Eyed

Mathematicians at the University of California, Los Angeles have discovered a 13 m-digit prime number, making them eligible for a $100 000 prize from an activist group supporting individual rights on the web.

The prize is offered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for finding the first prime with more than 10 m digits.

The number will be published next year.

I can hardly wait, but until then, a related clock for our geeky chums, which they may approve of:

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More For Less

Motorists will be banned after just two convictions if they exceed the speed limit by 15 mph in urban areas or 25 mph on motorways under a shake-up of road safety laws.

Tougher penalties, to be announced next month*, will mean drivers get six points for travelling at 45 mph in a 30 mph area, 55 mph in a 40 mph zone or 95 mph on motorways throughout Britain.

The regulations will be enforced by digital cameras that track average speeds over long distances rather than Gatso cameras, which record speeds at a single point.

Experts said imposing higher penalties on motorways, Britain’s safest roads, was punitive and unlikely to improve road safety. Over the past 30 years, motorways have accounted for 150-180 deaths a year - just 5% of those killed on the roads. By contrast however, the toll on urban and suburban streets remains high, with 3 090 children killed or seriously injured kast year, mostly in built-up areas, including many pedestrians.

Ministers will also announce plans to toughen the regime for drink-driving, although they will reject calls from police and campaigners to reduce the drink-drive limit from 80 mg of alcohol per 100 mg of blood to 50 mg as is common in Europe.

So, if the government was truly serious about reducing injury on British roads, why are they skipping over the booze limit?

*The new regulations are proposed in a Department for Transport consultation paper, which is to be launched at the end of October.

Following Instructions

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Getting ready for a night out in Southend High Street...

Scores so Far

Unsurprisingly, Newcastle lose 1-2 at home to Blackburn but Southend take a thumping 3-0 win at home to Leyton Orient.

That leaves Spurs and Bielefeld to go...come on boys, let's have two wins, please.

And as a die-hard Tottenham fan it gives me no pleasure to report that the Arse lost 1-2 at home to Hull. Oh, happy days. :0)

Paul Newman RIP

Paul Newman has died of cancer at the age of 83.

A true gent who made some great films, The Sting was one of my all time favourites, and I am sure he will be greatly missed.

He won only one Oscar (how?) for best actor, in the 1986 film The Color of Money, but was nominated for nine others:

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958
The Hustler, 1961
Hud, 1963
Cool Hand Luke, 1967
Rachel, Rachel, 1968
Absence of Malice, 1981
The Verdict, 1982
Nobody’s Fool, 1994
Road to Perdition, 2002

Street Corner

Only 10% of the average musician's income comes from record sales.

Busking probably accounts for the rest...

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Ball Went Where?

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Junk Mail

A huge collection of junk mail was sent to one elderly woman during a six month period after she inadvertently replied to a letter from an unscrupulous company.

She received about 5 000 letters, on average 25 a day, weighing in all 220lb (100 kg).

The poor woman hoarded them in eight bin bags, which were later discovered by her carer and have now been seized by the local trading standards department.

Let's hope the authorities chase this up urgently and put a stop to this harassment sharpish.

Taking in Fluids

When bottled water was first sold in the 1870s, it cost three times more than beer.

Here, 600 ml of drinking water in Vietnamese supermarkets costs you under 9 pence a bottle.


The done thing (from Dame Barbara Cartland’s Etiquette Handbook: A Guide to Good Behaviour from the Boudoir to the Boardroom)

— On every formal occasion, whether Luncheon, Bazaar or a Meeting , a hat should be worn
— Women use cosmetics, but that is no reason to advertise the fact or demonstrate the method of applying them in public
— If you are out with your marriage partner, make an effort to look amused. To look bored is advertising the failure of your personal relationship, even if you remain tied together
— Marriage partners should never open each other’s letters
— “Mummy” and “Daddy” have become universal terms among all classes of children when addressing their parents. “Ma” and “Pa” are obviously abhorrent

The Do’s and Don’t’s according to Debrett’s

First-date rules

You should try to kiss her (if it’s gone well), but you should not try to get her into bed (take the lead from her). If it went well, never say “thank you”

How to ask for a pay rise

Think about what you’d like and ask for a bit more. Avoid ultimatums; don’t threaten to leave (unless you’re serious) – they may just say OK

How to pack a suitcase

Lay trousers flat against the bottom of the case, leave legs hanging over the sides. Place tissue paper over the top. Pack shirts, jumpers, jackets. To finish, wrap overhanging trouser legs around everything. This will ensure there are only soft folds rather than unsightly creases in your trousers

Ten classic plays you should see

King Lear, Death of a Salesman, The Duchess of Malfi, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Homecoming, The Importance of Being Earnest, Look Back in Anger, Long Day’s Journey into Night, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Waiting for Godot

Which television?

Above 42in, buy a plasma TV. Below 42in, go for LCD.

Dealing with doormen

Treat them with respect. Don’t argue. They have the power to refuse entry. They can also throw you out. Only the brave attempt bribery.

TTimes and TTimes

$700 Billion

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What the big players are really thinking:

President Bush
The economy was for so long about the only policy area that went right for him but now it is falling apart. After bypassing free market instincts to back the effective nationalisation of financial institutions, he is desperate to force a deal with the conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill who were once his strongest supporters

John McCain
He has sought to reset the election race by throwing himself helter-skelter into the delicate bailout negotiations. Democrats accuse him of putting his political interests before those of the country

Barack Obama
He cautiously supported some form of intervention while setting conditions that might distance him from the deal’s most unpopular aspects

Henry Paulson
The US Treasury Secretary is asking Congress to hand him unprecedented control over a staggering sum of money in the biggest game of poker ever played. No wonder he is on his knees begging for their support

Nancy Pelosi
The Speaker of the House of Representatives is a partisan Democrat who will do anything she can to help Obama to win. She has the votes to pass this deal without the Republicans but is determined not to be left holding Bush’s ugly bailout baby on her own

John Boehner
The Republican minority Leader in the House of Representatives has a divided and terrified base. Some think he is trying to save McCain’s skin. The truth is that he is more interested in his own
Quote from Bush:
“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down.”
Full, in depth article at: TTimes

Another "What's the Difference"

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Bewteen America and Britain...

What's the Difference Between a Thief and a Politician?

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I'd have said the spelling...

Can't be Arsed

One half of web sites on the Internet have not been updated in the last year.

Not something that could be said about this place...


The World Conker Championships has found an unlikely sponsor- the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

Keen to shrug off their spoilsport image and further dispel the myth that they make children wear protective goggles for the playground game, health and safety officers have also entered a team in the tournament.

Ray Hurst, IOSH president, said he was looking forward to showing that health and safety workers were not spoilsports at the championships*, which take place in Ashton, Northamptonshire, on 12th October. He said:

"We do not, and never have, required children to wear goggles to play conkers. Health and safety doesn't require goggles at conker matches, and it doesn't ban goggles from swimming pools."

Top man.

*About 500 other entrants from as far afield as Jamaica, the US, Brazil, the Philippines, Benin and mainland Europe will compete to be crowned Conker Champion.

Lending a Hand

Those travelling on a Chinese Shandong airlines flight were asked to get out and push when their plane broke down after landing.

The CRJ7 plane with 69 passengers and seven aircrew flying from Guilin in the south of China to Zhengzhou broke down before it could taxi to the arrivals terminal. It had travelled 500 miles before the engine failed on the runway.

Airport staff were called out to push, but needed the passengers' help because it would not budge. It took nearly two hours to push the jet the half mile to a side lane.

"Thank God it was only a 20-ton medium-sized plane," said one of the airport workers. "If it were a big plane, it would have knocked us out."


Saying Cheese

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How's that for a photo? Face to face with a whale.
Adult "right" or "baleen" whales can weigh up to 80 tonnes, be up to 55-feet long and need something in the order of 400 000 calories per day to survive (they feed on only plankton which they strain through filters in their massive jaws).
Hunters christened them right whales because they were the "right" whale to kill, using them to mainly to provide oil for lamps and by the early 20th century there were perhaps only a few dozen of the ocean leviathans left. The hunt for them was finally banned in 1935.

We Don't Need No Education

A 15 year old "girl" who was upset with a teacher whom she blamed for getting her expelled due to "unruly behaviour" went back to confront her as she taught a maths class. Her mother called the school to forewarn them (big of her, top bit parenting there) and alert them of the possible danger.

She piled through the door and then stabbed the teacher in the face with a pen, before continuing the assault by punching her in the face and body and pulling her hair. The teacher ended up in hospital as a result.

Two things of note. (1) Plod's reply:

"A girl was arrested for assault on a woman causing bruising to the head and abrasions to her leg. After a thorough investigation, she was given a final warning for this offence."

(2) The headmistress commented:

"I can reassure parents and pupils that the school has robust policies in place to deal with such incidents and we have already taken further steps to further improve security by actioning the installation of electronic gates."

(1)- She was merely cautioned? This was a real assault, witnessed by several classmates and she isn't prosecuted?

(2)- "Robust policy"? Is she for real? The school was aware she was arriving and she still got in without problem.


Silent Calls

Silent calls are when call centres with automated systems dial more numbers than staff can deal with. When the person picks up the phone and no one is available to talk to them, it results in silence on the line.

Rules on silent calls in 2006 stipulated that abandoned calls must carry a short message identifying where they came from and must account for no more than 3% of all live calls made in the space of 24 hours.

It seems Barclaycard has not been following the rules and it has been fined £50 000 by Ofcom, the regulator, in what was the "most serious and persistent" case of silent calls it had come across.

Ofcom declined to say what Barclaycard's silent call rate was (why not?) but said it was "substantially more" than the 16 000 calls for which Abbey National was fined in a previous case. They added:

"Had we not been limited by the statutory maximum, we would have imposed a larger financial penalty to reflect this misuse."

Let's see if it makes any difference...

Not Guilty and Not Gaoled

Recent figures show that nearly two out of three defendants who pleaded not guilty escaped gaol in 2007, and overall 17 184 people out of the 28 391 people who pleaded not guilty in the crown court were acquitted last year. The proportion, 61% compares with 51% in 2000 and is at its lowest in the last seven years.

The figures also showed a steady rise in guilty pleas, with 59 162 people out of a total 87 553 defendants pleading guilty last year.

More stuff at TTel.

Just One More Go

Bedfordshire Plod issued 1 000 Dibble with Blackberry hand held computer devices so that they could spend less time at their desks and "more time deterring and solving crimes".

What do they do? Use them to play games...

The Farce has now been forced to disable the game options on the hi-tech gadgets, such as "bat and ball", after officers were caught playing with them in meetings.

Way to go, crime busters...

Around 10 000 devices were sent out to 27 police forces, costing £50 million, and the Prime Minister claimed they could cut average paperwork by 99 minutes a shift.

A Picture Paints a Story

Click to Enlarge

Graphic pictures of diseased lungs, rotting teeth and throat cancer will be placed on cigarette packets from next week to show the health dangers of smoking, replacing the current written health warnings that have been on packaging since 2003.

The UK is the first country in the EU (as ever) to introduce pictorial warnings and the Government is considering going even further and legislating that all packaging must be plain white, with only the brand name and the warnings.

There are still ten million smokers in the UK and around half of them will die early as a result of their habit.

Need a Mortgage?

Could be tricky.

Currently, a quarter of home buyers are having their first mortgage application rejected and almost 10% of home buyers cannot get onto the property ladder because they do not have a large enough deposit.

Banks are being stricter about the amount they will lend to those looking for a home loan in a bid to keep hold of their cash in case of an emergency and they are demanding larger deposits and factoring in the rising cost of food and fuel when calculating how much customers can afford to borrow.

The Abbey announced it was cutting the rate on one of its fixed-rate deals for customers who are looking to borrow up to 60% of the value of their home and it joins the increasing number of lenders offering preferential rates to borrowers with a significant deposit of 40%, including Lloyds TSB, Halifax and Nationwide.

Source: moneysupermarket.com

What a Dunker

The managing director of Waitrose, has managed to persuade airports operator BAA to run a week-long trial in November at Terminal 5, offering 5 000 cups and a biscuit a day to travellers in the Arrivals hall.

The aim is to help tourists and travellers returning from holidays to banish the doom and gloom of delayed flights, missing luggage, poor weather, and global financial meltdown.

Like a cup of tea will do that? How utterly quaint but pitifully way off the mark. What next, a cucumber sandwich?

I'd prefer to be greeted by someone who actually does give a shit and politely answers any queries with smile and some courtesy, instead of the traditional snarl as they turn on their heel muttering "it's not their job".

That's the usual welcome one can expect and as a Brit one I am prepared for, but as a tourist? What kind of a message does that send out?

An accurate one of what to expect during the rest of their stay I'd suggest...

Thumbs Down for Little Britain USA

Critics have panned the comedy duo's new television series, Little Britain USA, describing their sketches as "crude" and "low brow".

Variety magazine, said the new series:

"Revels in mock condescension towards American stereotypes. The wit level of these over-the-top interludes seldom rises above what's scrawled on a middle-school bathroom wall. Walliams and Lucas certainly owe a debt to Benny Hill and Monty Python, but their impulses invariably drift below the (freely exposed) belt, going for the easiest possible gag."

The Los Angeles Times wrote:

"Whatever pointed observation about American or British society Lucas and Walliams have in mind, whatever message about our hypocritical social mores and behaviours they're trying to send, gets lost in the adolescent guffawing about fat people and primary sex characteristics."

If they don't like it, I'm sure the Brits will. It sounds utterly brilliant. :0)

Fat Knackers

The proportion of adults in England who are an unhealthy size has soared over the past 15 years with one in four now seriously overweight and while there have always been more obese women than men, the gap between the genders has now been cancelled out.

In addition, the number of overweight women has fallen in recent years while the number of morbidly obese men is rising sharply.

The figures, taken from the NHS's Health Survey for England, are based on the Body Mass Index, calculated by dividing weight by height squared.

A BMI of 25 to 29 is classed as overweight, while over 30 is obese and anyone with a score over 40 is morbidly obese and in danger of causing serious damage to their health. A bit like being called a binge drinker if you have more than a couple of pints...

The sta-testicles show that the proportion of obese men rose from 13% in 1993 to 24% in 2006 and the number of morbidly obese men has risen from 0.2% of the male population to 1.5% over the same period, while 43% are now overweight.

By contrast, the proportion of obese women over 16 rose from 16% in 2003 to 24% in 2004 and fell by a fraction the following year. The number of overweight women has fallen from 34% to 32% since 2004.

Lard, you just can't beat it.

It's Just Not Cricket

A review of the so-called "protected list" which stipulates which sport must be available on terrestrial television has been ordered by Andy Burnham, the Culture and Media Secretary.

Currently, only ten sporting events including the Olympics, Wimbledon finals, the Grand National and FA Cup final must legally be shown live on BBC, ITV or Channel Four and no cricket events are included, but following a recent backlash over the lack of coverage of Eng-er-land's qualifying football matches, cricket is set to be shown live on the BBC or ITV. This is likely to include the Ashes, Cricket World Cup or other major tournament.

Sky owns the rights to broadcast all England test and one-day cricket after paying £220m for a four-year deal which expires in 2010.

More at TTel.

Mixed Bag

Johnny Depp is to play the Indian sidekick Tonto in a Disney remake of "The Lone Ranger".

He actually boasts Cherokee Indian (as well as German and Irish) in his ancestry.

I like Depp and expect this to be a good film.


Some mature student burd who graduated and was expecting her degree certificate in the envelope that arrived was dismayed to find that instead there was a bill for overdue library books and a note from Bucks New University saying that she would not be getting a certificate marking her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and sociology until she had paid the bill in full. The letter read:

“The student finance department records that you are a financial debtor to the university. Therefore, your certificate will not be issued until the matter is resolved.”

She bleated on:

“What they did ruined my day. I can never relive that day. My mum was devastated. All the other students were celebrating.”

Shame you didn't think about that before your selfish actions possibly deprived other students of using the books for their research.

More Black & White Woe

In a genius move, the Toon has decided on appointing a temporary manager until the end of October. He is to be ex Wimbledon, Nottingham Forest and Luton manager Joe Kinnear, who has been out of football management since 2004.

Kinnear resigned from Nottingham Forest in December 2004 after a poor start to the campaign, despite having kept the club up in the previous season and will be "in charge" for six to eight games.

He also claimed that "the new owners* have Kevin Keegan and possibly Alan Shearer parked around the corner."

*A Nigerian consortium claims it is preparing a £350m takeover fund, with London-based businessman Chris Nathaniel saying: "We're at the stage where we are doing the security checks on the individuals who have the money."

The CoE and What It's Worth

- £2.25 bn portfolio of company shares held by the Church of England

- 123 000 acres of agricultural land, worth an estimated £237 million, also owned by the Church

- About 31% of its assets are invested in property

- 85% of all the listed places of worship in England are owned by the Church

- £250 m has been spent by the Church of England since 1996 on repairing churches around the country

- £177 m annual estimated income of the Church

- £5.7 bn estimated value of Church’s central assets

Sign Language

I had stopped on the street to mention something to wifey and as is sometimes my custom was using my hands to rather vigorously make a point. As I turned to continue walking a young lady walked past my animated hands and I accidentally knocked her handbag out of her grasp, sending it and her purse tumbling into the gutter.

Despite profuse apologies, she didn't need sign language to convey her mood; the looks were quite sufficient. Most embarrassing.

What a Great Day

We went exploring yesterday and found a whole new local area that we didn't know existed. A big main road with a multi-story shopping mall and a great little food court on the top floor, which gave a great view of this massive, sprawling city.

Two hot-pot style dishes with fried rice (I had salt fish with chicken, wifey had vegetable) came in at a paltry 72 000 VND (~£2.50) and they really were tasty and filling.

Next we picked up some gift vouchers for our host in reception as she has been marvellous and then we finally arranged our guided city tour by bus to see all the famous landmarks properly. The only problem is that it kicks off at 08:00. Still, this will be one day to remember as we have now reached our half way point and have seen very little so far.

All in all a top, fun day.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Play School

Which window will it be today children? The round window, the square window, the arched window or perhaps the missing window?

Oddly enough our bathroom has a pane removed from the frame (as indeed our other room had too, so we have to assume it is deliberate) for what I can only imagine is to help ventilation. Unfortunately it also allows mossies in and noise from the street.

Can anyone guess I'm a tad grumpy today; too much noise and no internet connection this morning?


Noisy Buggers

What is it with fellow hotel guests that they feel compelled to make protracted, dull and excessively tedious conversation right outside another guest's door as they make their way to breakfast?

Usually at volumes not amiss at a Motorhead concert and naturally at stupid o'clock.

And usually big gobbed Americans or Aussies.

Stop being so bloody selfish and either trap off your boring convos in your own rooms or wait until you reach the dining area.

The Final Sentence

More people were sentenced to death in America in the year 2003 than any other year since 1971.

Close Call For Newcastle

Terry Venables has rejected an offer to manage them. Lucky, lucky Toon-type people.

From the Beeb:

Former England coach Terry Venables has turned down the chance to take over as Newcastle manager in a temporary capacity, BBC Sport understands.

Newcastle wanted to appoint Venables on a game-by-game deal but the 65-year-old preferred a fixed period contract.

Venables had been holding talks with director of football Dennis Wise and vice-president Tony Jimenez.

They are thought to have an alternative in mind, with Glenn Hoddle and David O'Leary both being linked with the job.

Newcastle had hoped to make an announcement over the vacant manager's position before the weekend as the Magpies try to find some stability in a season that is threatening to spiral out of control.

All Sorts of Problems Once Again

No signal for a few hours earlier and now it's is like wading through treacle in a spacesuit.

We're off soon anyway to go and explore another part of the city so it doesn't matter today, but we may encounter further problems over the weekend. Still, new hotel on Monday and a better set up? ADSL connection for a start, which should be great.

So if' we're not back until then, enjoy the weekend and we'll be back as soon as we set up home around the corner.

Happy Birthday to Ryan

I make it nine today for our little nephew, so all growed up and not so little anymore. Will try and call over the weekend if the connection holds and wish you a very happy birthday and that we hope you eat so much jelly, ice-cream and cake that you're sick. :oD

'Cos that is what having a birthday is all about.

Thursday, 25 September 2008


The Czech Republic has consumed a total of 1 171 326 293 litres of beer so far this year. This may not have anything to do with the previous post.

Or it might. ;-)

Top 20 Beer Drinking Countries

As shown in a slideshow at CNBC.

I won't spoil the number one country, but it's not the usual suspects.

Now That's Cool

Imagine that you're out shopping at say your local Tesco and stop off for a bite to eat at their cafeteria at lunch time.

A group of four guys sit at a table and put in their order, which arrives in due course.

4 x glasses full of ice and...an opened litre bottle of Beefeater gin.

Now that is cool. :oD

Weekend Away For Two?

You can get some right good deals here for a romantic three day break.

For example: HCMC/Saigon to Con Dao Island, a beautiful island in a group of 14 that is also a national park, fringed by coral reefs and inhabited by green turtles, sea cows (of mermaid legend), apes and over 1 500 species of marine life.

It's one of the top sites for scuba diving and until 1975, the island was infamous for holding political prisoners, being kept in underground boxes called "tiger cages".

The activities includes swimming, cycling, walking, tour of the prisons, diving, snorkelling, and nature trails. You get a 3* hotel, half board and the price includes return flights and transfers to the airports.

For two people, all of that for just over $300- that's around £85 per person!

Come Again?

Taken from here: TTel

List of Cool Accents 2008/9

1. Queen's English 20%

2. Scottish 12%

3. Geordie 9%

4. Yorkshire 7%
=. Cockney 7%

6. Northern Irish 6%

7. Welsh 5%

8. Scouse 4%
= Mancunian 4%

10. West Country 3%

11. Brummie 2%

Other/Don't Know 21%

Unlucky Birmingham, but not really unexpected at all.

Smoking in Amsterdam

A man was fined by the Dutch police for smoking a cannabis joint but only because it was mixed with tobacco:

While the Netherlands has kept its liberal policy on the smoking of cannabis in the country's legendary "coffee shops", zero tolerance is now shown to tobacco smokers in Dutch cafes and restaurants after a smoking came ban came into force last July.

An Amsterdam police spokesman admitted that it could be difficult to understand the current Dutch policy of allowing smokers to puff away on pure cannabis while fining tobacco users.

"For logic it is sometimes impossible to explain, even to the Dutch," he said.

The man was not fined for smoking a cannabis joint but for smoking. You can smoke cannabis but not tobacco in coffee shops."

The unnamed 27-year-old man owns one of the city's coffee shops, where the purchase and smoking of cannabis is tolerated, and he is expected to contest the case in court.

It will be the first test of a Dutch smoking ban that exempts people from enjoying joints as long as only pure marijuana is used.

The man was caught lighting a hand rolled cannabis joint during a routine police check and fined because officers found tobacco mixed with the soft drug.

The smoking ban is usually enforced by municipal health and safety inspectors "but if a police officer signals an infringement, he does not close his eyes to it," said the police spokesman.
A fifth of Dutch cafes and bars are ignoring the tobacco smoking ban, which was introduced on July 1. Many are setting up special funds to collect money to pay fines issued to smokers.

Perhaps he should have used an E.cig?


Want to beat the smoking ban in pubs? Try an E.cig then.

It smokes like a real cigarette with users get a shot of nicotine every time they inhale, and the device even produces a cloud of water vapour with every puff, though causes no harm to smokers. Unlike trad tabs, these are coloured black and have a blue light at the tip.

The "fags" cost £39.99 for a starter pack, use a small replaceable cartridge filled with a dose of nicotine and you can choose between no nicotine, low, medium or high nicotine, menthol, strawberry or cherry.

The makers of the product at The Electronic Cigarette Company say the vapour produced is odourless and contains no tar or carbon monoxide, resulting in no risk of passive smoking, but apparently the are just as addictive as the real thing.

Who's That Knocking at the Door?

There are currently more than one million buy-to-let mortgages in the UK, compared to just 120 000 in 2000. There are also many landlords who are unaware of their tax liabilities and (incorrectly) believe that they can offset the full cost of a repayment mortgage against their profits for tax purposes.

'Fraid not; the tax rules only allow them to offset only a certain proportion of their mortgage payments against their tax bills. Only the interest payable on a mortgage loan can be offset against tax, so any landlord with a repayment mortgage is liable for tax every time they pay off part of the capital they have borrowed.

And due to this, many are not paying what they should and as you can expect, the taxman wants their pound of flesh. So much so that new powers due to begin in April 2009 will give Government officers the right to turn up and inspect landlords' records in their home.

More here: TTel

No Idea

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, has admitted that she has no idea whether there are any illegal immigrants working at the Home Office, following on from news that illegal workers have been discovered in Government offices in Westminster, stretching back over two years.

Asked if she could guarantee that there no illegal immigrants working at the HO, she replied:

"No, of course I can't. I am not going to give people reassurances and guarantees that I cannot deliver. I can guarantee that we have in place the measures that will ensure that it does not happen."

Eh? Is she suggesting then that the measures which are in place are fallible as she won't commit and if so, why is this acceptable? Yet another example of politicos moving their mouths and yet nothing coming out.

Last December an illegal immigrant was found to be working on front desk at Home Office in Whitehall in December last year, checking people's passes.

In May 2006 five illegal immigrants were arrested after working as cleaners at the Home office. They were working for a firm contracted by the UK Immigration and Nationality Directorate in central London.

Last year it also emerged that 11 000 workers without the right to work in the UK had been issued with licences for security posts by the Security Industry Authority. It later emerged that the vast majority of them (8 000 workers) had obtained National Insurance numbers and one had been looking after the Prime Minister's car.

In February it emerged that an illegal immigrant had been found to be working as a cleaner in the House of Commons.

Going For a Song

Remember the post about buying a gaff in Sicily for 1€? You had to renovate them within two years to strict building standards and use traditional materials and local labour, which would set you back at least £80 000.

Seems like the plan has taken off and with over 2 000 enquiries from as far afield as Australia, the US, Russia, Abu Dhabi, the Baltic states, and the UK.

And amongst the potential owners are the singer Peter Gabriel, American Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Massimo Moratti, the owner of the Inter Milan football team.

If you fancy making an offer, its not too late- there are still 1 000 homes left in Salemi, which was hit by an earthquake 40 years ago that was so devastating that its inhabitants were forced to abandon their homes.

Downsides are the place suffers from high unemployment and your neighbours could well be the ever-present Cosa Nostra- Sicily's mafia. Sleep tight.

More Piles of Rubbish

Under European Union directives, British councils must reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by half of 1995 levels by 2013 or face fines of up to £180 million per year, which if these targets are missed, could cost councils £7 million each per year. This would equate to around £30 per household which could be added to your council tax bill.

Even if the EU targets are met, individual councils that do not meet separate targets set by the UK Government face costs of up to £2 million each per year.

The Audit Commission has said increasing the amount of waste sent to recycling would not meet the target and has suggested the only way to reduce waste going to landfill was the controversial use of incinerators despite huge cost, especially at such short notice, and environmental concerns.

Incinerators cost a minimum of £20 million and can take up to 10 years to build.

More here: TTel

Inglorious Bastards

The latest offering from Quentin Tarantino is set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, where a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as "The Bastards" are chosen specifically to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis.

The Bastards soon cross paths with a French-Jewish teenage girl who runs a movie theater in Paris which is targeted by the soldiers, one of which becomes infatuated by her and he persuades his superiors to screen their latest propaganda film at her theatre. Will she seek revenge?

I have to say, it reminds me of the quite excellent Dutch movie, Black Book, which we saw in Bangkok recently.

However, starring Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Mike Myers, Eli Roth and Samm Levine, this could prove a rather interesting film. Shooting is due to begin soon, on 13th October.

NOTE: This is not a remake of Inglorious Bastards (aka Quel maledetto treno blindato), by Enzo Castellari. Although Tarantino is a fan of the film with the same title, he has written something entirely different. Allegedly.

St What-eva

The Catholic church has named more than 3 500 patron saints, including ones for washing machines, pet donkeys, and peanut farmers.

A Day in the Life Of

Homer Simpson. Quality clip.

More Problems for 2012 Olympics

It's not just the Polish labour force that is drying up for the London Games, so too is the financial aid, as restrictions on lending in the financial markets is leading banks to be extremely cautious on lending out "their" money.

More detail here: TTimes

In the Business World

Click to Enlarge

Lighting Up

The Scandinavian practice of driving a car with the lights on during the day will become the norm in Britain within three years.

Under new European laws, all new models of cars and small delivery vans will, from 2011 onwards, need to be fitted with automatic daytime running lights to make them more visible.

The EU believes that the lights could reduce death and injury on the roads by 3 to 5%.

A pity as this was one advantage bike riders had to make them stand out from the crowd. Whether it worked or not, I always used to ride with a dipped beam on.

Interestingly enough, during World War II, the RAF fitted spotlights to aircraft carrying out low-level attacks on U-boats because it made it harder to judge their range and speed. Which is completely opposite to the theory applied in taking the decision to make all cars etc use lights during the day.

Only time will tell if it is successful or not.

Torquay Finally Sees the Light

After 28 years, the film, Life of Brian will finally be allowed into the cinemas in Torquay, after organisers of a comedy film festival in the seaside resort discovered that the film was still on the local authority's blacklist.

The film, which starred the late Graham Chapman as Brian “He's not the Messiah” Cohen, with John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, was attacked by Christian leaders when it came out for allegedly lampooning Jesus. Chapman played a character mistaken for the Messiah, whose life curiously paralleled that of Jesus.

The Monty Python team insisted that it was a send-up of religious obsession and Hollywood Bible epics of the 1950s, but cinemas that showed the film were picketed and 11 local authorities decided to ban it. A further 28, including Torquay, gave it an X certificate, which meant that it could be seen only by over-18s and as the film's distributors refused to allow it to be shown with this certificate, Life of Brian was effectively banned in those towns as well.

How silly, it really is a funny film and my personal favourite from the MP crew.

Great quote from yet another stuffed shirt, the Canon Stuart Bell, vicar of St Michael's in Aberystwyth, who said:

“If someone was going to make fun of my wife in a film then I would oppose that. Making fun of Jesus Christ, whom I love more than my wife, in a film is going to offend me.”

Really? I question the priorities of a man proclaiming to love a dead person more than his own wife? And his sanity...

Other films that have inexplicably fallen foul of the censors pen include:


Tod Browning's 1932 film about members of a circus and its sideshows was twice banned in Britain. It finally received a certificate in 1932

The Wild One

Marlon Brando's now famous performance as the disenchanted leader of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club was banned twice by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). It received an X certificate in 1967

The Last House on the Left

Horror director Wes Craven's first film was banned in Britain for 28 years and received an uncut release only this year

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Banned in 1975 by the BBFC, it was cleared for limited release in London by the Greater London Council. Not until 1999 did it gain a nationwide, uncut release

Visions of Ecstasy

This film about Saint Teresa of Avila was refused a certificate over blasphemous content in 1989. It remains the only film banned in Britain for blasphemy

To Kill a Mockingbird

Click to Enlarge

Great Idea

Just been flicking through the Vietnam News, which they have kindly printed in English for the eejits like me who can't read foreign, like, and I was interested by the personal ads.

Here, people put adverts in about themselves, listing qualifications they have and what kind of job they are looking for. How's that for a nice twist?

I wonder if that will ever catch on in the UK?


Vietnam is the 149th member of the UN and joined in 1977.

Limping Along

Right-handed people wear out their left shoe before their right shoe. Presumably the reverse holds out for south paws? Who really cares?

Flight Extras

Checking our "small print" for our flights from HCMC, Vietnam to KL, Malaysia for two people in USD ($) we noticed:

Flight: 162
Airport Tax: 28
Admin Fee: 18 (yer wot, we did this on line!)
Fuel Surcharge: 50Baggage fee: 4

Total: 262

Making it exactly $100 in additions on the cost of a flight. Still, I'm happy to pay that, as the bus would not have been funny and at £140 for two people on a two hour international flight, that is very good.


A lonely widow, age 70, decided that it was time to get married again. She put an ad in the local paper that read:


On the second day, she heard the doorbell. Much to her dismay, she opened the door to see a grey-haired gentleman sitting in a wheelchair. He had no arms or legs. The old woman said:

"You're not really asking me to consider you, are you? Just look at you...you have no legs!

The old man smiled, "Therefore, I cannot run around on you!"

She snorted. "You don't have any arms either!"

Again, the old man smiled,"Therefore, I can never beat you!"

She raised an eyebrow and asked intently, "Are you still good in bed?"

The old man leaned back, beamed a big smile and said, "Rang the doorbell didn't I?

Thanks to the SEM for that one.

And Finally

On the subject of football, I think it is only fair to mention that Martin Jol, who was so unfairly dismissed by Tottenham as their manager last year, seems to be doing rather well, thank you very much.

He is the new boss at Hamburg who are playing some great football and are in fourth place in the Bundesliga.

Unlike Spurs who are rock bottom in the Premiership.

I wonder who's laughing now?

(Bielefeld lie in 12th spot out of 18.)

It Gets Better

Another rumour is that El Tel, Terry Venables, is the favourite to take over at the Toon. What's going on at the club, are they going through the Top Ten dodgiest businessmen to appoint a manager?

How about Del Boy Trotter next?

Either way, the fans aren't too chuffed. A crowd of just 20 577 saw last night's game against Spurs- the lowest for a competitive match at St James' Park since the capacity was increased to in excess of 52 000. Says it all, but they only have themselves to blame.

It was the "fans" that wanted Ashley out and who threatened harm to him and his family- hardly a decent thing to do considering he stumped up £250 million of his cash to help the club he has supported all his life.

You're getting what you wanted, so why the no show?


The Nigerian consortium interested in taking over crisis-torn Newcastle has talked up its plans to buy the club.

Frontman Chris Nathaniel told BBC Sport: "It's a serious offer, they're very serious business people and passionate football fans.

"We're still at the early stages, but hopefully in the next 48 hours we'll be in a position to make a statement and take the situation further."

Newcastle have appointed investment bank Seymour Pierce to handle the sale.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, who has pumped £250m into the club, wants to sell the club after fan protests against him following the exit of Kevin Keegan as manager earlier this month.

Since Keegan left the club over a dispute regarding control of player transfers, Newcastle have lost their last three league games and on Wednesday crashed out of the Carling Cup after a home defeat by Spurs in front of a less than half full St James' Park.

"Newcastle should be achieving more than they are," added Nathaniel of NVA management.
"There is long-term potential at the club, there is a lot wrong at the club at the moment but they are determined to put that right by getting the right people in and using the right structure."

But Nathaniel remained tight-lipped over suggestions the consortium would try to tempt former manager Keegan to return to St James' Park.

"Kevin is a hero on Tyneside, he'd be a great choice but I can't say too much," said Nathaniel.

From here: BBC

Moto GP Hits Japan

This weekend, with the racing coming from the Montegi track. Then it's off to Australia (Phillip Island) on the 5th October before going to Sepang in Malaysia on the 19th, where we hope to be. Last race of the season is at Valencia on the 26th October.

With four races to go and only 100 points available (25 per win), it looks like Rossi is uncatchable on 287 points with Stoner in second on 200. He could even take the title this weekend if he wins, to become world champion for the eighth time. Now that takes some doing.

And This Week It's

Southend v Leyton Orient @ 19:45 (Friday)
Newcastle v Blackburn @ 15:00
Portsmouth v Tottenham @ 13:30 (Sunday)
Eintracht Frankfurt v Arminia Bielefeld @ 16:00 (Sunday)

Southend to win 1-0, Newcastle will lose 0-2. Portsmouth will draw with Spurs 1-1 and Bielefeld will go down 2-0. We'll see.

Number Two

Another win for Tottenham, as we beat the Toon on their home patch by 1-2. This takes us into the last sixteen of the tournament- the trophy were are in possession of, having won it last season.

It's all well and good, but it's league games we have to win- and fast.

Still, a little something to savour and if we had beaten Newcastle in the FA cup back in 1999, I wouldn't have needed to get married! :o)

Maurice Wellham

Maurice Wellham Obituary

It is with much sadness that the club has learned of the sudden and recent passing of Maurice shortly after his 81st birthday.

He joined the club in the late 1940s playing regularly for over 50 years, adapting to astro late on in his playing career. Known for his catch phrase “hit it Higgins”, Mo was always available for advice to the younger members of the team.

Maurice was rarely seen without Beryl his devoted late wife, companion and business partner.

FlyMo (as he was known on tour) and Beryl were stalwarts of the Isle Of Man Hockey Tour team the Jimmy Riddlers, touring for over twenty years in the eighties and nineties and generously sponsoring the Riddlers from one of their companies Ramsey Finance (they’re bloody marvellous).

Mo & Beryl were known in local business circles and Chamber of Commerce, Leigh Sailing Club, the Isle of Man as well as the Old Boys. Maurice was cremated in Southend on the 1st September.

The club was represented by current and former club and tour players. RIP.

I'm very sad to hear this, he was a remarkable man.

Smoke, Fire, Etc

8% of household fires are related to smoking, proving that once again smoking is dangerous.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Toon Army Woe

We were watching ESPN (sports channel) last night and have heard that Newcastle have had an offer to buy the club from a Nigerian business consortium for £250 million. And if that doesn't sound dodgy enough, their first line of business will be to reinstall "Wor Kev" Keegan as manager.

If I was a Toon Army member, I'd be drowning my sorrows in a several barrels of Dog by now. It never rains but it pours, right?

Spurs travel to St James' Park tonight for a Carling Cup match and I don't expect much joy for either of us at the prospective result. Although I still want Tottenham to stuff them. ;-)

The Kinks

Staying with music, a band I have always liked (in fact the first CD I ever bought was the "Best of the Kinks") who may be on the verge of reforming, with a great quote from Ray Davies:

"The amazing thing is that The Kinks are the only band of that period where the original members are still alive."

(His brother, Dave suffered a stroke in June 2004 which left him temporarily paralysed down his right side.)

Let's hope they get it on and release a few new songs.

Ivars Godmanis


Ivars Godmanis, the former DJ who is the current Prime Minister of Latvia, that's who.

At a recent Queen concert in Riga, he made a special appearance for the encore and turned up with is own drum sticks! He later invited the band back to his offices where he has a drum kit permanently installed there.

Can't see McBroon doing that, can you?


In Munich is something that we have always wanted to do and yet has eluded us to date. I'm sure we will get around to it sometime, but meanwhile, some factuals:
  • Dates as follows: 2007 Sep. 22nd-Oct. 7th, 2008 Sep. 20th-Oct. 5th, 2009 Sep. 18th-Oct. 3rd
  • Held the last two weeks of September into the first week of October because of Munich's great fall weather, Oktoberfest has been a tradition for almost 200 years
  • 6 million visitors every year
  • The six Oktoberfest breweries, (Spaten, Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräuhaus, Löwenbräu) sold 6 million mugs of beer in 2005 (5.5 million in 2004)
  • Food consumed during the festival; roasted oxen: 100, sausages: 300 000 roast chickens: 600 000
  • 30% of the year's production of beer by Munich breweries will be consumed at the Oktoberfest
  • 12 000 people are employed of which 1 600 are waitresses and there is seating for 100 000 people

And no mention of any dry roasted peanuts...

The first Okoberfest actually began as a wedding celebration for Crown Prince Luitpold I and Princess Theressa of Bavaria on 17th October, 1810. A large meadow in Munich was taken over as the royal reception sire and featured a horse race, music, dancing, singing– and lots and lots of beer drinking.


Well cheesy bike version of Knight Rider and of no consequence to this post on the street sellers that get progressively more aggressive and determined to make a sale as the day wears on.

Any old tut from ponkie perfume, dodgy DVDs, fake fags and shonky shades to counterfeit travel books and maps. This are usually no more than photocopied pages taken from ancient Lonely Planet (or similar) books and bound into a similar cover and should be avoided at all costs.

Latest ruse is to send in kids as young as 3 or 4 proffering packets of fags or lighters to punt out as mummy hovers by the door in case of sale waiting to pounce.

This is not unique to 'Nam, but in all other cities to date, a smile and a shake of a head is sufficient to decline their kind offer. Here though you will usually be involved in a display of all wares one by one with a running commentary of how good, original and cheap it all is before moving to Defcon "Mexican Stand Off" where it's eyeball gazing time and a look of contempt usually reserved for child molesters.

Best defence is not to get involved in any kind of verbal exchange, preempt on coming sales pitch (Spidey senses are now fully honed) and DMEC (don't make eye contact) with a shake of the head, whilst concentrating on your food, drink on your feet.

Frustrating, annoying, tedious and repetitive (who can the same guy come back several times within a couple of hours and not remember you?) but a small price to pay to experience Ho Chi Minh City.


Seems to be far more popular here, compared to Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

Not sure if this is down to price or another reason (many women smoke to suppress appetite) but it is obviously more noticeable.

On the up side, there are so many bars, restaurants, bistros and diners around that finding a place that is well ventilated and smoke free is rarely a problem.

Another Experience

Looking for lunch yesterday (honestly, the most difficult decision we have to make on a daily basis is where to eat...) we tried yet another new joint that seemed popular with the locals.

As we ordered, and during our mediocre but extremely cheap food, we noticed more and more single women taking seats, eating, drinking and being very friendly with the staff and one or two moped taxi drivers.

It didn't take long for to realise it was a meeting place for the local prostitutes.

I have nothing but admiration for anyone who makes an honest living and feel it is high time this profession was legalised throughout the world and recognised for the value it brings to the community. Sadly, some still see it is sordid and seek to make it against the law. A great pity.

Eh? Come Again?

Everywhere does breakfast from early in the morning throughout the day and they are all keenly priced due to the huge amount of competition. Some times the pricing structure is a tad puzzling though.

Fried eggs and French baguette comes in at 28 000 VND (~90 pence)
Fried eggs, French baguette and bacon comes in at... 28 000 VND (~90 pence)

Fresh orange juice and ice is 15 000 VND (~50 pence)
Fresh orange juice on its own costs 18 000 VND. Although this is entirely logical as without ice, you get more juice.

Why can't the English pub trade be as honest?

Heavy Going

By volume, Kleenex tissues can absorb more blood than water.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

We All Do Some Of These Apparently

Click to Enlarge

The average person breaks the law at least once a day, a recent survey has found and above is a list of the popular crimes. Survey by www.onepoll.com

Man Stuff

Read the Debrett's guide to how to behave


DO buy silk ties with a wool interlining. It will feel classier, look better and last longer.
DO wear a tie clip to add a little extra to your tie.
DO remember that wool ties can create a different and intriguing look.
DO experiment. Ties serve no practical purpose, so they may as well serve a sartorial one.
DO roll ties up, but never fold them, when packing. Should they emerge wrinkled, hang them in a steamy bathroom rather than iron them.
DON'T tuck your tie into your trousers. It should reach just above the waistband, but never be inside it.
DON'T match your tie to a pocket square. It couldn't be more wrong.
DON'T leave your tie at half-mast. A tie, when worn with a suit, should be properly done up.
DON'T be too extreme. Too wide and you look like a wind-sock, too narrow and you'll look like a country and western singer.
DON'T ever go novelty. Flowers, stripes and bold colours are fine, The Simpsons is not.


Essentially there are three: the short, medium or long - or the Steve McQueen, the Elvis Presley and the Peter Fonda.

Elvis Presley knew how to handle his hair
While your clothes can be changed on a daily basis, you wear your hair seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It is, therefore, one of the most important things to get right about the way you look. There's little point in donning a bespoke suit and pairing it with a badly cut barnet which doesn't suit your clothes or your lifestyle.

By the time you hit your thirties, you should know how your hair behaves and, more crucially, what it is likely to do over your remaining years - fall out, go grey or stay much the same.

Much of what suits you will be determined by your hair-type and face shape. Talk to your hairdresser about what will suit you; they have seen many more heads than you and will know all the tricks to make sure you walk away with the right cut for your hair and face. Spend some time and work out what makes you look, and feel, good.



What they say about you: extrovert, body-confident and European.
What you need to pull it off: athletic build, washboard stomach, intimate wax, nerve.
What you're aiming for: Ian Thorpe.
What to avoid: Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents.


What it says about you: tan-conscious, style-free and too rich to care.
What you need to pull it off: money, a private yacht, a lack of taste.
What you're aiming for: Rod Stewart.
What to avoid: Borat.


What they say about you: laid back, a surfer, one of the crowd.
What you need to pull it off: a good tan, long legs and a surfboard.
What you're aiming for: Mike Hynson in Endless Summer.
What to avoid: Tony Blair.


What they say about you: serious, tough and slick.
What you need to pull it off: smooth lines, sharp colours and a harpoon gun.
What you're aiming for: Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.
What to avoid: David Hasselhoff.



Who wears one: The Clash, James Dean.
Identify it: similar to a Harrington but fuller and more like a blouson. It should always have a ribbed cuff.
Why wear one: both classic and contemporary, it's a coat that will never go out of style.


Who wears one: Roger Moore's James Bond.
Identify it: thigh-length, double or single-breasted, woollen and often in grey herringbone.
Why wear one: an alternative to the Crombie, it is a versatile, smart, formal coat that, again, can be worn more casually.


Who wears one: Morrissey.
Identify it: thigh-length, single breasted and occasionally with a velvet collar.
Why wear one: the classic English town-coat. A wardrobe essential; can be paired with both a suit and more casual attire.


Who wears one: Field-Marshal Montgomery, Paddington Bear.
Identify it: thigh-length, hooded, navy blue, brown or black, toggles essential.
Why wear one: classic, warm and quirky. A good way to dress down a suit.


Who wears one: Steve McQueen, Frank Sinatra.
Identify it: short, fitted to waist-length, lightweight and essential to any wardrobe.
Why wear one: effortlessly cool and, despite being 70 years old, it still feels contemporary.


Who wears one: Columbo, Michael Caine.
Identify it: made of rubber, this is the original waterproof jacket.
Why wear one: perhaps a more styled waterproof than a wax jacket, this is both versatile and eminently useful.


Who wears one: Liam Gallagher.
Identify it: with a fur-lined hood and capacious body and pockets, it's both warm and practical.
Why wear one: a great look when paired with casual clothes, but not so good with suits.


Who wears one: Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront.
Identify it: hip-length, double-breasted and navy blue. Think of sailors.
Why wear one: can double up as both a smart and casual jacket. Plus it's warm.


Who wears one: Humphrey Bogart.
Identify it: long, waterproof and often lined, it is built for turning up the collar and avoiding the elements.
Why wear one: originally designed for British soldiers, it is practical, warm and functional.


• After a puncture, a car will try to pull you in one direction. Counter this as smoothly as possible.
• You are 30 per cent more likely to get a puncture when it is raining. Once rubber is wet, it is far easier to penetrate.
• A puncture at 200mph is safer than a puncture at 80mph. At high speed, the centrifugal force of a tyre spinning around holds the tyre in position to a degree. Between 60 and 80mph, the car becomes unbalanced and difficult to control.
• The heavier the car, the more difficult it is to control after a blow-out. A lighter car will support itself better. Help to avoid the problem by making sure your tyres are in good condition and correctly inflated. Also, keep your eye on the road surface and avoid anything that could cause damage.

DRIVING MANNERS: let other cars into the queue in front of you with a friendly wave or flash of the headlights - a graceful gesture that will only cost you seconds. If cars are parked on your side of a narrow road, give way to oncoming traffic. Indicate when overtaking. Always acknowledge other motorists' gestures - it will make crowded, frustrating roads seem infinitely more civilised.

Breaking the speed limit is dangerous, and can be costly in terms of penalty points on your licence, but you should also bear in mind that hesitant kerb-crawling can be annoying for drivers caught behind you. If you are lost, pull over and consult a map or a passing pedestrian. Never turn into a back-seat driver: you may be ashen-faced with fear, but stamping on imaginary brakes and barking commands are not going to improve anyone's driving.

Be aware of other road-users. Always give cyclists plenty of leeway and slow down when approaching pedestrian crossings - make plenty of allowances for unpredictable behaviour, and you will help to make the roads a safer place. Help other cars into the queue with a friendly wave

BRAIN: stress and fatigue can mean judgment and decision-making drop by 50 per cent; communication drops by 30 per cent; attention is reduced by up to 75 per cent; memory is reduced by 20 per cent.
EAR: air in the middle ear expands during take-off, leading to popping or worse.
BEHIND: trapped wind expands, which can lead to gas.
EYE: dry cabins cause red-eye.
LEGS: cramped conditions, low cabin pressure, dehydration and low humidity increase the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis).
SINUSES: air expands in the sinuses at altitude which, if blocked, can cause pain.
MOUTH: at altitude you can lose up to 30 per cent of your sense of taste.
HEART: lower oxygen levels can cause blood vessels to expand in an attempt to supply more oxygen.
STOMACH: slower digestion and bloating.
BODY: dehydration can lead to dry skin, light-headedness and lethargy.
NOSE: recycled air contains less oxygen and more bacteria, causing light-headedness and infection.


British Airways Boeing 737
RESERVE: 11 C, D, E; 12 A, B, C, D, E, F - all have extra legroom.
REFUSE: 1 A, C, D, E, F - restricted legroom. 10 A, F; 18 A, B, C - do not recline. 19E, F - near the toilet.
British Airways Boeing 747
RESERVE: 2 A, 2 K - more secluded than 1A and 1K. 28 B, J; 29 A, K; 33 A-K - all are bulkhead seats. 62 A, K - private and spacious, the best upper-deck seats.
REFUSE: any central seats (E, F) in Business Class (unless travelling with a partner). 31 D, E, F, G - all are narrower than normal. 36 C, H, 53 B-J - next to the toilet / limited recline.
British Airways Boeing 777
RESERVE: 2 A, E, F, K - further from the toilet than row 1.
REFUSE: 1 A, K - near the toilet. 10 A, B, J, K - near the galley so may be disturbed. 40 D, E, F - don't recline; usually crew seats.
Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Emirates Airbus a380
RESERVE: 1-4 A, F - the best seats on the lower deck. 12-15 A, K - the best seats on the upper deck.
REFUSE: 11 A, K - narrow seats. 3 C, D - unless travelling with a partner. 42 A-K, 63 D-G, 82 A, C, H, K, 82-83 E, F - limited recline.


Of course, if you aren't in the market for an upgrade, the best way to check in is in advance, online, and from the comfort of your computer. Spare yourself the tedium of queuing. However, for an upgrade, first-person contact is essential. To ensure you turn left, not right, as you board the plane, you will need charm, smart clothes and, as a last resort, money. You will also, ideally, be travelling alone and clutching only carry-on luggage.

Knowing someone of importance at the airline is the first step - a jumbo pilot is ideal - and this can best be achieved with a frequent-flyer card of the right colour (ie platinum, gold, or silver at a push) which will allow access to the lounges and then, with luck, to seat 1A. Failing that, arrive late to check-in. Flights are frequently overbooked and, should you find that there is no more room in your class, a bump-up into the next cabin will no doubt ease the situation.

This can never be achieved by screaming, shouting or throwing your weight around. A more successful tactic is to smile and joke with the person behind the desk. Letting them know that you are in a genuine position to put business their way is also of considerable appeal to those with the power to grant flat-beds. Feigning an ailment is beneath you and, anyway, is seldom successful. Far better to try your luck, grin warmly, and ask. Never sup the complimentary champagne should you succeed: it denotes an amateur. And, if all the above should still leave you without the magic 'Suitable for Upgrade' stamped across your ticket? Get out your wallet and pay for it.


1 In Korea, never use red ink, as writing someone's name in red indicates that they are either dead or you want them dead.
2 In Australia, always make eye contact when chinking glasses in a toast. If you fail to do so, you may suffer from seven years' bad sex.
3 In Daghestan, men advertise their sexual prowess by setting out water buckets on their porches in which they will wash after that evening's sexual encounter. The bigger the bucket, the greater their presumed prowess - some set out two.
4 Never whistle in a Kazakhstani house as it will bring poverty to the owner.
5 Do not give scissors, knives or other cutting utensils to a Chinese as they indicate that you wish to sever the relationship; clocks, handkerchiefs or straw sandals are also taboo as they are associated with death and funerals.
6 Crossing your fingers may be a good luck symbol in Britain, but in Vietnam it is considered obscene.


• Hold the onion on its root end and cut vertically in half. Take one half and peel off brown papery layers, working from the top towards the root, until the flesh is exposed. Trim off the pointed end but not the root (this will hold the onion together until it's fully chopped).
• Place on a board cut-side down, and make a series of parallel cuts that stop just short of the root. Then make a horizontal cut (with your knife parallel to the board) through the middle of the onion half, again stopping just short of the root.
• Finally, make a series of cuts across the onion at right angles to the earlier cuts, right up to the root. The diced flesh will fall away. Repeat on the other half.


AMSTERDAM explore by bike
BEIJING wander down Yandai Xie Jie in Hou Hai
CHICAGO see the skyscrapers by boat
DUBAI visit Ski Dubai in The Mall of the Emirates
EDINBURGH walk up Calton Hill
FRANKFURT visit the zoo
GENEVA see the Flower Clock in the Jardin Anglais
HONG KONG take the Star Ferry from Central to Kowloon
ISTANBUL take a trip up the Bosphorus
JOHANNESBURG explore Constitution Hill
KIEV walk down St Andrew's Descent
LONDON look down on the city from the London Eye
MILAN shop in the Quadrilatero d'Oro
NEW YORK catch a baseball game
OSLO admire the sculptures in Vigeland Park
PARIS walk around the Cimetière de Montmartre
QUEBEC see the city from the Observatoire de la Capitale
RIO DE JANEIRO watch football at the Maracanã Stadium
SYDNEY explore the Northern Beaches
TOKYO admire the Sony Building
UTRECHT dine in a canal-side restaurant
VIENNA see the Klimt at the Leopold Museum
WARSAW saunter along the wide-paved Nowy Swiat
XIAN visit the nearby Terracotta Army
YEREVAN sample an Armenian barbecue on Proshian Street
ZURICH admire Le Corbusier Pavilion

'Debrett's Guide for the Modern Gentleman' (Debrett's Ltd, rrp £15, published September 2008), is available direct from Debrett's Limited for £9.75 plus £2.75 p&p. Call 01235 827702 or go to www.debretts.co.uk