Sunday, 30 November 2008


A bit about where we are- perhaps this will explain why we love it so much:
Established by Francis Light in 1786 as a trading post for the East India Company, Georgetown was one of the three Straits Settlements along with Malacca and Singapore. As the new settlement attracted 10 000 settlers of all creeds and nations, Light proposed that ‘each race has a right to preserve its civil and religious peculiarities.’

Modern-day Georgetown is one of Malaysia’s largest cities with nearly 600 000 inhabitants and is blessed with more than 100 spiritual sites built by consecutive waves of migrants and sojourners. Here, houses of worship representing various world religions are lined up along an axis. The place illustrates a history of peaceful religious co-existence and cultural exchange among the followers of the great faiths of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity as well as the Chinese religion which combines Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

This Little Piggy

Growth rates for toenails can vary much as much as 127% from one week to the next, but the reason behind this phenomenon has not yet been discovered.

George W Bush

“I would like to be a person remembered as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process.

I came to Washington with a set of values, and I’m leaving with the same set of values. And I darn sure wasn’t going to sacrifice those values.

I’d like to be a president (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace; that focused on individuals rather than process; that rallied people to serve their neighbor.”

This is how Bush wishes to be remembered. Funny that he feels that to declare war is achieving peace...

St Andrew's Day

And a big event in Scotland. To help them celebrate, a bit from TTel on all things haggis:

1. Give it some of that Je ne sais quoi

No lesser person than the head chef of the Savoy responded to Mr Tremlet, with some mouthwatering Gallic refinements to his serving suggestions:

May I be permitted to point out that it is more appropriate and much more satisfactory to make a double cut in the form of a St Andrew's Cross in the skin of the haggis, instead of the single incision that Mr Tremlett advocates? In this way the skin will open like the petals of a flower.
Last year for St Andrew's Night I conceived the idea of serving a pumpkin puree instead, and this innovation was favourably received. On Monday - St Andrew's Night - I propose offering Le Veloute de Marrons Robbie Burns - a light chestnut puree, the flavour of which blends well with that of the haggis, and which, I feel, is even more attractive than the pumpkin, and certainly more so than the potato puree

2. March it round the table, then give it to a foreigner

In June 1914, some French and Belgium journalists on a tour of British health resorts, were treated to a traditional feast by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh:
Two pipers preceded the dish of haggis, and the procession marched slowly round the hall four times. At the conclusion the pipers were handed each a glass of whisky. With this they gave the famous toast, first in Gaelic and then in English, "Here's a health to the glens, the fens, and the fighting men." The visitors were enraptured, and "Vive l'Haggis! " was their verdict

3. Eat something else instead

Wartime shortages hit the 1918 Burns Night dinner in London, guest speaker John Buchan:
There was no haggis, the guests having to be content with an Italian dish, which, however, was played in by the pipers. The haggis had been ordered from Scotland, but owing to the food restrictions there the necessary ingredients were not forthcoming, and the haggis could not be made. "It is one of the misfortunes of having a Welsh Food Controller," said the Chairman. "Had he been of another nationality the haggis might have been saved."

4. Just chuck it on the floor, why not

Downfall of a haggis, November 30, 1935
Disaster befell a haggis last night at the annual dinner of the St. Andrew's Club of London held at Grosvenor House and attended by 500 Scots. The haggis was being carried round the dining hall on a trencher in traditional fashion by two chefs to the strains of Brose and Butter, played by Pipe Major Douglas Taylor, of The King's Own Scottish Borderers, when the chefs, apparently overcome by the enthusiastic reception of the assembled Scots, accidentally tilted the platter and the Chieftain of the Puddin' Race dropped on the floor. It bounced but did not burst.

5. Or see who can throw it furthest

Bad blood across Hadrian's Wall has soured the finals of the third World Haggis Hurling Championships. Officials of the sport's governing body, the World Haggis Hurling Association (WHHA), said last night that it might be forced to declare a Scottish and an English team joint swinners of this year's event after a dispute over a tie-break
Extra time dispute splits haggis hurlers, October 3, 1980

6. Eat it every day ???

Mr Donald Norris, of Portland Place, wrote an indignant letter to say that he'd phoned round six of London's leading hotels to ask if Haggis was on the menu for Burns Night. "The reply was in each case in the negative ... Are the Scotsmen of London really so lacking in patriotic spirit that there is no demand for their special dish on such an occasion?"
The manager of the Caledonian Club wrote back reassuringly:
Not only was the haggis served on Burns Day, but it - with bashed neeps - is on the menu of the Caldonian Club on practically every day from September till May - while neeps are available

7. Slice it up in a bun

Sir, It is time your readers (including, it seems, some Scots who ought to know better) were disabused of the quaint idea that haggis is some kind of Celtic ceremonial dish, like peacocks' tongues, reserved for special celebrations and great occasions.
Despite the impression created abroad by the embarrassing Burns Supper ritual, haggis has always been a daily staple of the Scottish diet, eaten in various forms at any meal and washed down with tea or coffee.
I prefer mine for breakfast, fried with bacon, egg and black pudding; my father liked his, sliced, in a crisp morning roll, after his matitidinal three-finger draught of that other Scottish staple.
Yours faithfully. TOM BAISTOW. The Savile Club, 69 Brook Street, WI

8. Confuse it with white pudding

Sir, Whose leg does Mr Tom Baistow think he's pulling ? Has he ever tried to slice a haggis? (It would be as easy to slice a bran pie or a sandbag.) As for frying it for breakfast, the only charitable conclusion - if the leg-pull explanation is not correct - is that the ignorant man is confounding white pudding with haggis.
Miss Heather Harvey

9. Deep fry it and serve with Coca Cola

Sir, Miss Heather Harvey is being unnecessarily unkind to poor Mr Baistow, who was trying, quite rightly, to put haggis in its proper, proletarian perspective. It is she, not he, who is ignorant.
Haggis, when previously cooked, will "fry up" quite nicely the following morning. It is no more difficult than frying mashed potato to make bubble and squeak. Further, when pressed and allowed to cool it will slice much more readily than the average sandbag.
Your readers may also be interested to learn that, north of the Border, deep fried haggis is on sale in most fish and chip shops. First hand observations lead me to the conclusion that the most common refreshment chosen to accompany this simple savoury is Coca Cola, served chilled and drunk straight from the can.
Chacun a son gout! Yours faithfully, STRUAN COUPAR, Bromley, Kent

10. Match with the blood of the grape

Pamela Vandyke Price, the distinguished wine correspondent of The Times, had a classier suggestion:
I am aware that on its native heath, the haggis may be traditionally accompanied by Scotch. But in my article, suggesting red wines suitable for certain types of modest game and sausage dishes, I was thinking of those readers who may opt for the blood of the grape, perhaps for reasons of economy, or because they are being cautious about drinking spirits for reasons of diet or driving, or simply because they and their guests like wine with their meals.
Being myself a devotee of haggis, black and white puddings, andouillettes, boudins of all colours, multi- patterned salame and wurst of assorted seasonings, plus, of course, the noble banger, I would drink a red wine with these on most occasions. My experience of haggis has not included the very peppery type, as mentioned by one of your correspondents, but in Catalonia, where I have recently consumed numerous regional sausages, including the superb butifarra, the red wines of the Penedes region were quite robust enough to balance the seasonings

11. Cement international relations

Sir. When Vychinsky, the Chief Prosecutor of the USSR, visited the Nuremberg Trials in 1946, I attended the banquet given in his honour by Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe (later Lord Kilmuir). Probably for the first and last time in his life, Vychinsky partook of haggis, liberallv laced with liqueur whisky which had been poured over it, while a Scots Guards piper, specially flown in for the occasion, circled the table playing the bagpipes. It has never occured to me that there is any other way in which haggis is served.
I remain. Sir. Your obedient Servant. L. A. HILL

12. Translate into Greek

Surely the haggis, or something very like it, was known some 3,000 years ago, the gaster [this was originally in Greek text] for which Odysseus fought that poor beggar Iros, of which he afterwards made a meal?
Mr. A. SHEWAN, Scagatc, St. Andrews, Fife
[Classical note from Philip Howard: “Iros was the shameless beggar who hung around the Suitors and challenged Odysseus to a fight. Iros was known as Gaster, the Belly.”]

13. Fight the crows for it

When I was in the Highlands 30 years ago I was told that real haggis could only be made with "braxie" mutton, ie, from a sheep that had died a natural death on the hill. If the shepherd found the corpse before the crows and gulls did one had haggis for dinner, otherwise not. Mr A. MacDermott, Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Ryde

14. Can it and send it abroad

A firm in Munlochy in the Black Isle peninsula, Ross and Cromarty, are producing porridge ready made in packets for immersion in hot water by the consumer. Thus Scots have again displayed their ability to make profit in sophisticated markets from what are traditional and fairly raw materials. Haggis and venison are being canned and sold abroad: ordinary water is being sold to England for making rum and to the United States as the only appropriate dilution for Scotch whisky

15. Stick to Great-Granny’s recipe

Sir, You allowed me not long ago to send You a recipe for dry curry, of which subsequent comments and correspondence showed wide appreciation. In view of the approaching national festival of St Andrew may I now contribute a formula for haggis, not less deserving of consideration.
Take a mutton paunch, wash it, and turn it inside out ...
Serve with old whisky, or (if greatly daring) with Atholl brose, a mixture of equal parts of whisky, cream, and honey. DAVID HUNTER BLAIR, Belmont Abbey, Hereford

16. Eat your enemies - human haggis

The people of Galloway have changed, of course, oven if their hills have not, since the day when certain legionaries gave the horrified St Jerome the recipe for human haggis. They have changed even since the day when Sawny Bean and his band practised the same form of cookery only some 300 years ago

17. Have a haggis eating contest

The daily haggis-eating contest appears to have as few rules as a caucus-race. Competitors race to engorge a tinned haggis with a plastic skin weighing llb 3oz. They do not get an extra prize for enjoying it, which is just as well, to judge from yesterday's horrified grimaces

18. Start a class war

Rabbie Burns, thou shouldst be living at this hour. England hath need of thee - and Scotland too. What other pen could do justice, mocking, ribald and racy, to the ill-laid plans for celebrating Burns Night which BEA are reported to have cooked up. Haggis will be served today to its passengers on Scottish services - but not to all passengers.
The "great chieftain o' the puddin-race" is, in BEA's view, a class-conscious aristocrat. Ushering it into the aircraft with the ceremonial send-off, " Aboon them a' ye tak your place ", air officials will be careful to explain that they use "a'" in a special sense. The place must be the right place.
"The social, friendly, honest man, whate're he be" has not a hope, on his own merits, of getting his teeth into that haggis. He needs to be the holder of a first-class ticket. Passengers below the salt, mere tourist-class freight, are being fobbed off with "gift-wrapped" packs of shortbread

19. Test it for foot and mouth

A haggis sent from Scotland to the Illinois St Andrew's Society, and "condemned" by officials at LaGuardia airport yesterday because it "might spread foot-and-mouth disease" was set free today. First reports yesterday said that the haggis had been burned, but Pan-American Airways later stated that it had been handed over to the authorities. A doctor of the United States Bureau of Animal Industry today pronounced the haggis "fit for consumption" and arrange- ments were made to ship it to Chicago tomorrow in time for the Illinois Scots' celebration of St Andrew's Day on Saturday

20. And the last word ...

... goes to the Head Master of Penrhos College:
Sir, My experience has shown there is really only way to serve haggis - slow, left arm, over the wicket. Sincerely, N. C. Peacock, Penrhos College, Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire


Obviously not then...

Oh well, back to the drawing board. :-(


I'm hoping that I have finally discovered the setting which allows comments to be viewed directly under a post, instead of having to click a link to them.

It doesn't seem to work retrospectively, so I'm going to test a new post and add a comment to see if it works.

Hang on. :o)

Only in Japan

Click to Enlarge


Here's a top idea from TSunTel, a weekly article highlighting cases of taxpayers' money being wasted. It would be rude not to reproduce it here, wouldn't it? :0)

-1 -

A council is facing a bill of more than £400,000 because it has not yet finished a special walkway to mark the millennium.

The route, which was planned as part of the Portsmouth's celebrations to mark the year 2000, was set to run from Clarence Pier to the city's Historic Dockyard but legal wrangling over land access meant the final section was never built.

Portsmouth City Council was originally given enough money for the scheme by the Millennium Commission and developers, Berkeley Homes.

But because of the delays, rising costs and new health and safety regulations mean the council now has to find extra money, put at more than £400,000, from its own coffers.

If the council does not build the walkway by next June it will have to pay back some of the money it was given, plus interest - which would cost a further £400,000.

Councillor Steve Wemyss, leader of the opposition Conservative group, said: "This is a waste of public money that would not have happened if it had not been for these delays. The whole project is a fiasco."

Council chief executive David Williams is in talks with Berkeley Homes to see if it can extend the construction deadline past June. Liberal Democrat council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: "We have been trying very hard to find the best option."

Portsmouth city revealed its ambitious planned programme of developments to mark the year 2000 as long ago as 1995.

The Millennium Commission - a national body set up to hand out lottery cash to projects - agreed the programme of works, labelled The Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour. At the centre of it all was set to be the then-named Millennium Tower. Eventually, the re-named The Spinnaker opened in 2005, five years late and at a cost of £38 million.


Taxpayers in Essex are facing an extra bill of £223,000 after a £2 million upgrade of the local council headquarters went over budget – even though the building is earmarked for demolition.
The improvement project at Basildon Council head office, which began more than a year ago, involves the creation of a new meeting room, a waiting area, interview booths, customer advice desks and facilities to accommodate 250 more council employees.

The building, in St Martin's Square, is due to be knocked down as part of the council's long-term £1 billion transformation of the town centre which is hoped to take place within the next six years.

Councillor Geoff Williams, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group said: "It is a waste of money and seems to substantiate our concerns that the project was unnecessary given the council was proposing the remove the building in its own grand redevelopment scheme."

He added: "It makes you wonder what the overspend might be on similar projects."
Phil Turner, conservative ruling group councillor responsible for resources, said the council would save money by ending the lease on other offices as a result of the improvement.


A London council has revealed it spent £1,548 of public money flying its chief executive to a course on leadership skills in Boston even thought the council leader was also in attendance.
Barnet Council has revealed Leo Boland attended a BT Vital Vision conference – the same course attended by Cllr Mike Freer at a cost of £5,000.

Mr Boland is leaving the council to become chief executive of the Greater London Authority while Cllr Mike Freer is the prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for Finchley and Golders Green.

The council also disclosed its deputy chief executive spent £454 on one return flight to Edinburgh to negotiate a new lease on the Brent Cross shopping centre and £520 flying to Cannes to attend a property conference. The figures came following a Freedom of Information request from political blog NotTheBarnetTimes.

A council spokesman said: "The Vital Vision programme presents new ideas from world leading lecturers and specialists in business that benefit the council not only at present but in the long term future as well. Barnet council has a cash flow of £1 billion and is a major organisation."
Councillor Barry Rawlings, deputy leader of the opposition Labour group said: "Taxpayers will want to know why it took a Freedom of Information request to find all this out. The council leader justified his attendance by saying the chief executive had approved it, and now we find out the chief executive was also going on the same course. Was it necessary for them both to attend at a time when money is short?"

Let's hope this is a long term series...

Not Useful

On average, the hard drive on a laptop PC will cease to work 24 weeks before the video display will stop working.

We are now on our third laptop since we left the UK in 2006.

More Gruel

Norwich City Council has written to all hairdressing businesses in the city ordering them to get a licence if they want to serve alcoholic drinks, which is customary over the festive period. The letter states that the practice of serving complimentary alcoholic drinks is a breach of the law and requires various licences. It further warns:

"To address this issue enforcement action, including the use of undercover officers, may be undertaken in the near future. The council also declares that anyone found guilty of unlawfully supplying alcohol could face a maximum of six months in gaol, a maximum fine of £20 000 or both."

Pardon me? Six months in chokey just for offering a customer a glass of wine?

A spokesbot guffed:

"We know that with the credit crunch all businesses need to do everything they can to encourage customers through their doors and will be offering various incentives in order to achieve that.

We accept the letter we sent out to hairdressers in the city may not appear to be in keeping with the festive mood and are sorry if it has been misunderstood.

However, we are a licensing authority and there is a serious message here about the enforcement of licensing laws and helping businesses make sure they do not fall foul of the law."

One word: Scrooge.

It's Tough Being Santa in Deutschland

Germany is facing a Santa Claus shortage in the run-up to Christmas, as new recruits fail to meet high Teutonic standards of jollity and expertise. Job agencies, which are currently conducting a desperate last-minute recruitment drive, have reported a distinct lack of jolly, rotund, fluffy-bearded Santas with no criminal records.

Among the tough criteria are a suitably low voice, child-friendliness, good German, not too youthful, and a full repertoire of Christmas poems and songs. For good measure, they must show spontaneity and energy.

However, the German Santas can make up to 60€ (~=>£50) an hour which is certainly worth the aggro.

Full story at TTimes.

Going For Gold

Remember the London victory parade for Britain's Olympic medalists in October? Thousands turned out to celebrate celebrate the British squad's best medal tally for 100 years and a large procession was laid on with parade floats.

Unfortunately for the 12 drivers of the floats, they didn't pay their £8 Congestion Charge and they have all been fined £120 each.

I kid you not...

The Olympic athletes of Team GB won 47 medals including 19 gold, 13 silver and 15 bronzes to come fourth in the medal table and Britain's Paralympic athletes came second in their table with 102 medals - 42 gold, 29 silver and 31 bronzes.


Newcastle draw 0-0 against Middlesbrough (the point takes them to 17th (20) on level points with Spurs who play later today), Southend go into round 3 of the FA Cup after beating Luton 3-1 and Bielefeld lose heavily, 3-0 as predicted against TSG Hoffenheim. :-(

Connection Problems

Sadly our superb hotel has decided to change its internet set up and migrate from an LAN cable connection to wi-fi. This has caused all sorts of problems and why we have been off-line since yesterday afternoon.

At best we are getting patchy service which may continue throughout the week until the changeover is complete and as you can imagine, I'm not best pleased.

I accept they may need to upgrade (although for me it is a backward step) but it is only polite and well mannered to be told about this before such a huge project is implemented, not when you find out by accident when you go to log on.

The management is now well aware of my feelings and will be doing everything they can to ensure we remain connected. I appreciate their efforts and hope they can keep their word.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Water, Water Everywhere

If all the world's oceans were divided amongst all the people on the planet, each person would get five cubic miles of water.

And Venice Is Still At It

It has already banned topless blurks, picnicking on church steps and feeding the pigeons, but that doesn't seem to satisfy the authorities Hell bent on culturally reforming Venice. They now want to clamp down on “tacky and unsightly” souvenir stalls.

The head of cultural heritage on Venice city council, said that although the stalls were licensed, they often failed to observe rules stating that they must maintain “a proper distance from designated buildings” such as churches. The result added to “urban decay”.

The only decay is the outrageous prices the Gondolas charge to get around the murky canals of the city. Remind me again why this is supposedly the most romantic city in the world?

Venice launched an “urban decorum” drive two years ago, reminding tourists that they must wear shirts, not put their feet in fountains and not eat pinics or fast food in public places. The rules are enforced by police and wardens called “City Angels”. The city Mayor has been seen patrolling St Mark’s Square and berating tourists caught feeding pigeons or throwing food wrappers on the ground.

End of an Era

Monday, 1st December, will see a complete ban on the sale of "magic mushrooms" in Amsterdam.

Sold from traditional "smart shops" (180 establishments in total), there are 189 varieties to sample, but following the death of a 17 year old French girl, who fatally jumped from a window last year while suffering hallucinations*, they will no longer be openly available to tourists.

Amsterdam is also to close 40 cannabis caf├ęs, known as "coffee shops", because they are too close to schools and to shut scores of prostitute shop windows.

Seems like the idea of the Nanny State is spreading. :-(

*Her parents blamed magic mushrooms, although she was also known to have had psychiatric problems.

White Christmas

It may always elude us in some countries, but the dream of a white Christmas never dies. However, if you want to make your dream turn to reality, do something about it.

Following the news (TTimes) that Europe has had its biggest and best snow falls for over a decade, it would be a shame to miss out and so we suggest you get in touch with Helen at Morzine in the French Alps (although she is back in Leigh on Sea in the UK) and book up a skiing holiday that you will thoroughly enjoy.

Check out the details in our "Hall of Fame", contact Hel by email or telephone, mention ktelontour and get a whopping 20% discount. How's that for a deal. Better be quick though, places are going fast.

Nearly Over

Did you know it's been National Curry Week this week? It's still not too late to do your bit and indulge, particularly as it is the weekend and that's always a time for a treat.

The first appearance of curry on a menu was at the Coffee House in Norris Street, Haymarket, London in 1773 and according to The Epicure’s Almanack, the first establishment dedicated to Indian cuisine was the Hindostanee Coffee House at 34 George Street, Portman Square, London in 1809.

From that one restaurant the industry has grown to some 9,500, employing close to 100,000 people and serving 2.5 billion people.

Curry itself has evolved and been influenced by so many cultures that defining it is near impossible, but generally it is regarded as any spiced, sauce-based dish cooked in various southern and southeastern Asian styles.

Here are the ten best curry house in the country, according to TTimes:

Scotland/Northern Ireland

Cinnamon Club, 476 Union Street, Aberdeen AB10 1TS (; Book a table
The nouvelle Indian menu at the Cinnamon Club combines a number of dishes from all over India and gives them a local flavour. Standouts include haddock kebab or Scottish king scallops spiced up and cooked in the tandoor.
Try the starter hara thika kebab with chicken, lamb and green chillies or the Mango Murgh, chicken served in a thick mango curry Mangalore style.
Average cost: £28 per head
Judges' verdict: "Vibrant and exciting, a good example of Indian cuisine in post-Millennium Britain."

North West

Indian Ocean, 83 Stamford Street East, Ashton-Under-Lyme OL6 6QH (;
Nahim Aslam opened his bright, lively restaurant and lounge in 1993 and it has flourished as a centre for good food ever since. Food spans the Indian sub-continent, including such dishes as spiced sea bass served with spinach, and kidney bean bhaji. Customers can enjoy a recently updated menu.
Signature dish is Raan-e-Khyber – a succulent slow-cooked lamb shank.
Average cost: £16 per head
Judges' verdict: "The exuberance of this restaurant makes it stand out. The management never seems to stop offering customers added value whether in food or entertainment."

North East

Last Days of the Raj, 168 Kells Lane, Gateshead NE9 5HY (;
Established in 1995, this award-winning restaurant has become renowned for its quality, elegant surroundings and delicious menu which boasts some of the finest traditional and exotic Indian cuisine in the North East. Owner Athair Khan personally selects and trains the staff to deliver top-class cuisine made from fresh ingredients. Find all the usual staples, such as dupiazas, biryani and rogan josh.
For something different try the duck Jalfrezi.
Average cost: £20 per head
Judges' verdict: "A fine example of the more traditional Indian restaurant with a good range of Indian and Bangladeshi dishes."

East Midlands

Mem-Saab, 357-359 Wellingborough Road, Northampton NN1 4EU (;
Mem-Saab has drawn considerable attention for its quality and innovation, with a menu that offers more choice than many upmarket alternatives. Roast duck with black pepper sauce and Goan steamed mussels stand alongside an extensive vegetarian selection.
Try the Tiffin Collection, which includes roast beef in pepper sauce.
Average cost: £18 per head
Judges' verdict: "The considerable thought that has gone into the menu is obvious and its reputation for style and service is undeniable."

West Midlands

Lasan, 3-4 Dakota Buildings, James Street, Birmingham B3 1SD (; Book a table
Energetic Jabbar Khan opened Lasan in April 2002 and has since stacked up awards and built a reputation for being one of the best Indian restaurants in the country. A contemporary setting for some seriously different food, the menu roams from a seared breast of duck, to cardamom and clove-smoked lamb chops served with masala mash.
Try the Doi Maich – pan-fried black bream cooked in a coriander-flavoured yoghurt curry, with mustard seeds and fresh curry leaves.
Average cost: £22
Judges' verdict: "Khan and his chefs always ensure that Lasan is at the cutting edge of Indian cuisine in Britain."
Book a table at this restaurant


Bokhara Brasserie, Court Colman Manor, Pen-y-Fai Bridgend CF31 4NG (;
Bokhara Brasserie, situated in an ornate hotel on six acres of landscaped grounds, is said to be the UK’s only Indo-Med experience with a menu split to represent both cuisines. You can start with tandoori chaat, enjoy Dover sole for your main, and finish with Indian Desi Methai for dessert.
Try the Rara Gosht Punjabi – chunks of lamb with mince and liver with grilled chillies and spices. The Mediterranean menu works its way through shellfish soup, roast best end of lamb with orange and coriander sauce, and char-grilled fillet steak.
Average cost: £16 per head
Judges' verdict: "A rather unique, child-friendly restaurant that certainly adds to the overall UK Indian restaurant scene."

South East

Maliks Tandoori Restaurant, High Street, Cookham, Berkshire SL6 9SF (;
The leafy village of Cookham is home to super-chef Heston Blumenthal’s favourite curry place, which takes its inspiration from all over the sub-continent. Tucked away in an old flower-draped cottage, Maliks is a favourite of locals and celebrities alike.
Try the Sikandri lamb, which has spent the previous forty-eight hours marinating, or the Lamb Rezalla, grilled and cooked in tangy lemon sauce with fresh chillies.
Average cost: £21 per head
Judges' verdict: "Malik’s reputation has grown rapidly and is recommended by customers from all over the world for its quality food and service."

South West

Rajpoot, Rajpoot House, 4 Argyle Street, Bath BA2 4BA (;
Rajpoot is justifiably proud of its accolades, including those from the likes of Brooke Shields (“Yum!”), Lionel Blair (“Great hot stuff”), and Ken Livingstone. Opened by Ahmed Chowdhury in 1980, it was once dubbed “Aladdin’s Cave” and the name has stuck. Set in a series of “caves” below street level, Rajpoot has been hugely popular for years and will soon double its size.
Try the Rajpoot spicy salmon steak, served with Rajpoot style Potatoes, Puloa Rice and salad, or perhaps one of the chef’s selection menus from £16.50.
Judges' verdict: "One of the many restaurants in the industry that has maintained very high standards over a long period of time yet is always prepared to innovate and move forward."

London Central and City

Tamarind, 20 Queen Street, Mayfair, London W1J 5PR (; Book a table
One of the most stylish Indian restaurants in Britain occupies the site of the old Tiberio where Frank Sinatra was regularly spotted. Tamarind was among the first Indian restaurants in Britain to gain a Michelin star, and still attracts celebrities, such as Tom Cruise when he is in town.
Try the lobster Karaikudi, or the grilled cakes of chicken minced with ginger, coriander, onion and green chillies, served with smoked red pepper chutney.
Average cost: £35 per head
Judges' verdict: "Tamarind continues to show to what high levels the traditional cuisines of the Indian sub-continent can be taken."
Book a table at this restaurant

London suburbs

Brilliant Restaurant, 72-74 Western Road, Southall, Middlesex UB2 5DZ (;
Punjabi cuisine with a Kenyan twist is served at this Southall favourite. Prince Charles popped in almost 30 years ago and was back with the Duchess last year to mark the restaurant’s efforts to source local ingredients. Opened in 1975 by K.K. & D.K. Anand, it is now run by son Shankar Anand and daughter Dipna Anand. The second generation has introduced a healthy menu to run alongside traditional favourites. Even chef Gordon Ramsay visited Brilliant to learn how to use the tandoor.
People have travelled from far and wide for years to enjoy Brilliant’s Butter Chicken but Chef Jas and Dipna have ensured an exciting choice of top class dishes.
Average cost: £19 per head
Judges' verdict: "Brilliant has always been thought of as one of the top traditional Indian restaurants in Britain but the addition of Dipna Anand’s healthy options has given it a whole new dimension."
The judges comments are from Peter Grove, president of the Federation of Specialist Restaurants

No doubt they've missed your favourite joint, but it doesn't matter; just grab a spicy scoff and enjoy. We're going to but we have so many places to choose from...

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Cristina Potter’s knowledge of Mexican food is matched only by her passion for her adopted home. The best starting point for anyone who wants to learn more about the varied cuisine of this extraordinary country.

2) Eating Asia
Robyn Eckhardt knows more about the food of South East Asia than anyone I have ever encountered. Check out a recent post on The Philippines for an example of superb food writing.

3) Silverbrow on food
The quirky journal of a man whose eating is restricted by the Jewish rules of Kashrut, the author still seems to pack away plenty of food and writes about it very well.

4) Grab your fork
All food bloggers should aspire to be as good as Helen Yee. Her wonderful website, mainly about Sydney is a daily read for me even if she is discussing places halfway across the world.

5) Chocolate and zucchini
Clotilde Dusoulier’s online presence remains the ne plus ultra of French food blogs and has been supported by the recent publication of books based on her experiences of shopping, eating and cooking in Paris.

6) Wine anorak
Jamie Goode’s unfussy approach to wine opens a mysterious world up to a whole new audience and his tales of travels in search of the best bottles are amusing and informative.

7) The boy done food
Featuring the exploits of food journalist, William Leigh, this blog could only be improved if he posted more often. When he does, it is well worth reading.

8) Refined palate
There are few people on this earth who can have eaten at as many fine-dining establishments as Liz Haskell and her husband, John. Every bite they take is captured in minute detail on her well-designed blog.

9) Cheese and biscuits
Although a relatively new contender, Chris Pople is slowly developing a distinctive and enjoyable writing style, which makes his blog a fun stopping off point with my morning cup of tea.

10) Eat like a girl
More like “Eat Like a Baby Elephant” as Irish ex-pat Niamh Shields shares delicious recipes on the few occasions she is not dining out.

The Italian Job

Ever wonder how it really ended? Remember the (literally) cliff hanging finish to the film, where Charlie Croker and his gang of criminals are trapped in a coach hanging precariously over the edge of an Alpine ravine. With each move they make towards the rear of the coach to reach their haul of stolen gold, it results in the vehicle inching farther over the abyss. He then says:

“Hang on a minute, lads. I've got a great idea. Er ... ”

And then the credits roll?

Michael Caine, who played CC has revealed the producers of the 1969 movie had filmed the solution, but they decided against using it, to leave audiences with the famous ending and a possible sequel. He said:

“In the coach, I crawl up, switch on the engine and stay there for four hours until all the petrol runs out. The van bounces back up so we can all get out, but then the gold goes over. There are a load of Corsican Mafia at the bottom watching the whole thing with binoculars. They grab the gold, and then the sequel is us chasing it.”

Now you know, and if you've never seen the film, oops!

NEC Nijmegen 0-1 Tottenham

Not "who" but "who cares" as Spurs continue their run in Europe's second rate Eufa Cup with an understrength side that managed to win away from home. This now takes them through to the last 16, knockout stage of the competition and who knows where it may end?

Relegation, probably.

A win against the Toffees tomorrow will certainly help but it's going to be far from an easy job.

Old New Guy At Toon

Joe Kinnear has signed a new contract as manager of Newcastle United until the end of the season, following his interim appointment in September when club owner Mike Ashley was trying to sell the club.

I am not sure if he is the right man for the post. I don't dislike him, far from it, but I am dubious over his credentials and wonder if he has what it takes to lead such a massive club. Then again, I am not a fan of Redknapp and look what he is doing at Spurs.

Maybe I should leave the predictions game well alone?

This however made me laugh. Managing director Derek Llambias said:

"Joe has done an excellent job since coming to the club, and everyone is delighted he has agreed to remain in charge for the rest of the season."

Yes, right...after stepping in for the departed "Wor" Kevin Keegan (200%, man), Kinear has won two games, drawn four and lost two in his eight games in charge. If that is excellent, he'll have a job for life. I rate that as bearly mediocre.

Still, good luck to Kinnear and the Toon team, I wish them well but always hope they will end up under Tottenham. ;-)

Friday, 28 November 2008

Still Tough on Crime

From TTel:

Only one in seven crimes result in a criminal being charged, and the number of criminals being sent to gaol has hit it's lowest level since Labour came to power while the number being given a slap on the wrist with a caution has shot up by more than a quarter.

On the spot fines have also increased, even though only half are paid without further court action, while those being sent to custody fell by one per cent last year. It also emerged just one in five burglars who strike three times are being handed the minimum three year term they are supposed to receive.

A total of 4.95 million crimes were recorded by the police last year but only 673 227 suspects were charged or summonsed to court. It also accounted for just 49% of the 1.37 million offences that were solved during the year.

In total, some 95 206 people were gaoled last year, the lowest figure since 1997 and a sign of the impact of the pressure courts have been under to send fewer people to prison because of the overcrowding crisis. In contrast, 363 000 offenders were handed a caution, a 4% rise on 2006 and a 28% rise on the 282 100 handed out in 2007. Additionally:

- A rise in teenage girl committing crimes with the number sentenced up by 56% since 1997 to hit 14 800 last year.

- A postcode lottery in sentencing with criminals most likely to be gaoled in Northamptonshire and least likely in Northumbria.

- On the spot fines were up 3% year on year to 207 500 but only 52% were paid without the need for court.

- Only 40% of criminals in court with more than 15 previous convictions or cautions are gaoled for their latest offence.

Why am I not surprised?

I Already Spy With My Little Eye...Next Week

CCTV cameras which predict crimes before they have been committed are to be introduced into the UK, with the cameras able to monitor people's movements and then alert the police or security staff to suspicious activity. Officers or security guards can then confront a suspect before a crime is committed.

I kid you not, this is taken from the article in TTel, and it seems to think it is different to current CCTV cameras! What is so new about using a camera to spy on people and then sending in Dibble? (Except of course that the Rozzers have shut up shop and only work during office hours.)

The software "transforms" CCTV cameras from being recorders of crime to taking a proactive role in preventing crime by typically the dividing the images into people, vehicles and background. If someone is seen to loiter in an area for too long, it alerts security guards and the police. The cameras can pick up a car going too fast or people coming together in known drug-dealing areas.

How does this predict crime? It merely alerts security forces to potential crimes, just as it does now.

Utter cobblers with more snake oil merchants peddling their wares on the gullible.

How Can This Be?

More than one in four sex offenders escape with a caution, figures show, including 34 rapists or attempted rapists being effectively handed a telling off last year, which was an increase of 40% on the previous 12 months.

The figures further revealed some 1 966 cautions were handed out for sex offences last year, including the rapes. 809 were for sexual assault on a woman and 299 were for sexual activity with a child under 16 and another 130 were for sexual activity with a child under 13.

Cautions were also handed out to six people who admitted breaking child prostitution or child pornography laws.

A Ministry of Justice spokesbot guffed:

"Although there is a high percentage increase of rape cautions, the number of cases actually remains very small. Only in exceptional circumstances will the police and CPS decide that it is in the best interests of the victim not to prosecute."

Is he (and it is a "he" as it was a spokesman) for real? "the number of cases remains small"? Well that's OK then. Let's hope his wife, mother, sister, girlfriend or any of his female relations never has to endure such a disgusting crime and then see how he feels.

I'll bet just one case will be far too many then.

Cautions are usually given for lesser offences and can only be given out if the offender admits they committed the crime.


At any given moment, a standard, home wireless router can put approximately 12 MB of data into the air.

Not in some of places we've stayed at it can't.

The Cost of War

The latest combined estimated bill of £3.7 billion for the war campaigns in Iraq (£1.4 billion) and Afghanistan (£2.3 billion) this year alone, means that the two operations will have cost the British taxpayer £13.2 billion over the past six years.

Money well spent?

A Wee Dram

Alistair Darling, the rabbit-in-the-headlights Chancellor has been forced to backtrack on a key element of his Pre-Budget Report (PBR) after he admitted that the Treasury had miscalculated and got its sums wrong when they raised the duty on spirits by too much.

The proposed duty rise of 8% announced on Monday; part of a package of duty increases designed to offset the cut in VAT from 17.5% to 15%, has now been halved to 4% to leave the cost to the consumer roughly unchanged.

The Scotch whisky industry had pointed out that the 8% rise would have increased the average bottle of whisky by 29 pence, whereas in his Commons speech Darling had said that the duty measures “should keep the overall cost to consumers the same this year”.

But what is going to happen when VAT returns to its normal level in 2010?

Still, if he is prepared to admit he made an error, then that should be applauded and he should encouraged to continue his new found frankness and honesty by coming clean on the rest of his mishandling of Britain's economy.

It is understood that the mistake was made because, although VAT is charged on the price of a product, duty is charged on the alcohol content.

Ha, Hhaarrrrr

Click to Enlarge

Bombay = Mumbai

Comment from The Times:

"Key to policy at The Times on the usage of place names is that they are adjudged to be recognisable to a majority of our readers. After the events that started on Wednesday the name Mumbai has been used extensively in other media to which our core British readership is exposed. It would be foolish to ignore that context. We also have a global online audience to consider.

We will be changing our style from December 1, so that we use Mumbai for the city that we have previously referred to as Bombay. On occasion, it will be appropriate still to use a phrase such as “formerly known as Bombay”. In the meantime we will adopt a formula that talks of “Bombay, also known as Mumbai”.

We will carry on considering place names, case by case, in a pragmatic way. So, in the Indian context, we will continue with Calcutta and Madras unless and until there appears to be an equally strong case for change.

The linguistic heritage of what we will call Mumbai will live on in references to Bombay duck, Bombay gin and, of course, Bollywood."

Cobblers. You should have been calling it Mumbai from the on-set. Why assume your readership is ignorant of the correct name? It shows disrespect to both the readers and the country.


McBroon’s scheme to build hundreds of new zero-carbon homes and which he championed in his last Pre-Budget Report as Chancellor, has fallen flat on its arse as only 15 qualified in the first year.

The cost of the project? £15 million.

And the reason for the failure according to experts within the building industry is that the Government’s specification for a zero-carbon home is not practical.

Well fancy that? The government not following advice of its experts and blundering on because they know better? Where did we recently ask the same question...

Homes designed for zero net carbon emissions must include some form of power generation to offset the use of electricity, gas and other utilities. This would typically mean a wind turbine or solar panels. However, the UK Green Building Council, which represents the green building industry, says microgeneration is not practical in the majority of cases.

Heads You Win, Tails You Lose

Click to Enlarge


I'm a fan of the humble flip-flop and have been wearing nothing else since we landed in Asia. Cheap, light, extra comfy and easy to keep clean (jump in the shower with them and give a scrub) nothing beats them around the sights in 30 + degrees Centigrade.

It seems I am no longer alone in thinking they are ideal footwear, the resort of Torbay has spent £30 000 of taxpayers’ money on flip-flops for women who are too drunk to stagger home in high heels.

The scheme, funded by the Home Office, is due to start next month in time for Christmas office party revellers, who pour out of the resorts’ clubs and bars in the early hours and officers will carry bags of the unisex flip-flops and will hand them to anyone who looks unsteady on their feet.

A couple of bubble heads jumped at the chance to prove to the world how mentally challenged they are by saying:

“It’s a great idea* and I would wear them 100 per cent. My heels hurt me at the end of the night so I tend to take them off. It’s a hell of a lot easier to walk with flip-flops than high heels.”


“I go out clubbing at the harbourside most weekends and I usually walk home barefooted because my heels hurt. I think it’s a great idea*.”

So why not pack a pair of slippers in your handbag then, you dim-witted parasites? Stop leaning on other people to help you through life and deal with your own destiny.

*Clearly the sharing of the brain cell leads to re-using of the same platitude.

50 Footies Fans Your Club Doesn't Want?

At least TTimes thinks so:

50. Bernie Ecclestone (Chelsea)

Diminutive Formula One supremo who loved Chelsea so much that he bought Queens Park Rangers with Flavio Briatore and Lakshmi Mittal. “The only way I might get involved in football is if Arsenal is up for sale at a sensible price and I could take total control,” Eccelstone said, before snapping up QPR.

49. Brian McFadden (Coventry City)

Would you want someone who has married Kerry Katona following your team? No, thought not.

48. Morrissey (Millwall)

Maladjusted, miserable former lead singer of The Smiths who has started swanning about Los Angeles in a Millwall top. Viva Hate.

47. Timmy Mallett (Oxford United)

Fair play to him for sticking with Oxford through thick and thin, but that doesn’t excuse the loud shirts, the comedy sunglasses or that bloody mallet. Wins brownie points for stopping West Ham from selling Herbie the Hammer replicas in their club shop. Mallett complained that Herbie looked exactly like Pinky Punky. West Ham said the matter was “trivial”.

46. Jon Anderson (Accrington Stanley)

Owner of a lonely heart who was also the owner of an Accrington Stanley season ticket when he was a boy – promise it’s true, it’s on the internet. Anderson, lead singer with Yes, was a promising football player who nearly made the grade with his hometown club before he devoted himself to a life of high-pitched wailing on seminal prog-rock classics such as The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn) - a catchy synth-heavy ditty that comes in at just under 23 minutes, or half a half if we're talking football.

45. Kelly Jones (Leeds United)

Pint-sized singer with The Stereophonics who had the dubious pleasure of performing at Wayne Rooney’s wedding. Rooney loves the derivative Welsh rockers so much that he’s tattooed the title of one of their albums – Just Enough Education to Perform - on one of his arms. Classy.

44. Zoe Ball (Manchester United)

“TV personality” who stopped supporting Liverpool and switched to Manchester United when they started winning things. As you do.

43. John McCririck (Newcastle United)

Sexist, Diet-Coke slurping racing pundit and TV personality who supports the Toon even though he was born in Surrey. Redeemed his reputation recently by becoming the first guest to be booed off ITV’s Loose Women.

42. Wayne Rooney (Everton)

Not really a celebrity fan, but he is in OK! every week and he grew up supporting Everton. Also used to love wearing his “Once a blue, always a blue” T-shirt at Goodison Park before he jumped at the chance to join Manchester United at the first possible opportunity.

41. Ricky Hatton (Manchester City)

“When I think of the most important things in my life, there’s my family first, then I’ve got boxing, next comes Manchester City, then it’s Oasis.” No comment.

40. Liam Gallagher (Manchester City)

Mad-for-it Manc who loves Manchester so much that he lives in a plush pad in North London about 200 miles away from his roots, man. Real fan? Definitely maybe.

39. Noel Gallagher (Manchester City)

Mad-for-it Manc who loves Manchester so much that he lives in a plush country pad about 200 miles away from his roots, man. Real fan? Definitely maybe.

38. Mel B (Leeds United)

A match made in heaven.

37. Derek Smalls (Shrewsbury Town and West Ham United)

Legendary bass player with mock rock band Spinal Tap who was wearing a Shrewsbury Town shirt, and packing a massive cucumber, when he was stopped by security guards at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport during the ill-fated “Tap Into America” tour in 1984. Smalls was a Shrewsbury cult hero until it was revealed that Harry Shearer, the actor who played him, is a West Ham fan. Say it ain’t so, Harry.

36. Gary Rhodes (Manchester United)

Look at me, I can cook. Look at me, I’ve got spiky hair. Look at me, I own lots of restaurants. Look at me, I support Manchester United. Look at me, I use lots of butter and mustard. Go away.

35. Hugh Grant (Fulham)

Posh, handsome, plummy leading man who has been playing the same role in every film he has starred in since 1438. Almost as boring and predictable as Fulham were under Lawrie Sanchez.

34. Status Quo (Tottenham Hotspur)

Shaggy, geriatric rockers who were cool for about five minutes in the Seventies before everyone woke up and smelled the coffee. Whatever you want? Nothing thanks.

33. DJ Spoony (Liverpool)

Wooden by name, wooden by nature. 6-0-6 presenter who should stick to playing records.

32. Pete Doherty (Queens Park Rangers)

Professional layabout whose career went down the pan when he started hanging out with Kate Moss. What a waster.

31. Cerys Matthews (Swansea City and Manchester United)

Big-boned Catatonia singer who shrieked “Deffrwch Cymru cysglyd gwlad y gan, Dwfn yw'r gwendid bychan yw y fflam creulon yw'r cynhaeaf, per yw'r don daw alaw'r alarch unig yn fy mron, Every day when I wake up I thank the Lord I'm Welsh.” Good for you. Next.

30. Ross Kemp (West Ham United)

Ubiquitous former Eastenders hardman who has reinvented himself as a battle-hardened documentary filmmaker. “If Ross Kemp likes camouflage so much, how come I can always see him on my f**king TV?” A round of applause for Steve Coogan.

29. David Mellor (Chelsea)

Former Tory Minister who writes a half-decent weekly football newspaper column and who used to pontificate splendidly when presenting 6-0-6 on BBC Radio Five Live. Doesn’t mean we can forgive him for ruining the country or for dumping Fulham and becoming a Chelsea supporter.

28. Basil Brush (Hull City)

Boom Boom. Is everyone’s favourite anthropomorphic fox really a Hull City fan? Not exactly, but Roy North, the actor who played our furry friend’s sidekick, Mr Roy, most certainly is. Boomtastic.

27. Benito Mussolini (Bologna)

Italian fascist dictator who loved his local club so much that he “helped” them win four Italian league titles between 1925 and 1937. Being bankrolled by the local Fascist administration and the head of the Italian Football Federation did not do their cause any harm either.

26. Tim Lovejoy (Chelsea)

“TV personality” who used to support Watford but now hangs out at Stamford Bridge. Responsible for writing one of the worst books in the history of publishing. “Lovejoy on Football” prompted one reviewer on amazon to write: “As Ally Ross of The Sun pointed out, there are 38 pictures of Lovejoy in this book, eight more than Nelson Mandela used in his autobiography.”

25. Heather Mills (Sunderland)

Say what you like about Mucca, but at least she supports her local side. Accused by The Sun of being a fantasist. Sounds like your average Sunderland fan.

24. David Beckham (LA Lakers)

Goldenballs never used to go to the MEN Arena to watch the Manchester Giants when he was at Manchester United but as soon as he moved to Los Angeles he jumped on the LA Lakers bandwagon and started hanging out with Kobe Bryant - who’s he?

23. Gordon Brown (Raith Rovers)

The PM still finds time to follow Raith Rovers while he's trying to save the world. When he was a boy, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer used to boost Raith’s coffers by selling programmes outside Stark’s Park. It’s a miracle they’re still in business.

22. Jim Bowen (Morecambe and Blackburn Rovers)

Legendary Bullseye presenter and Morecambe's most famous fan. Look who you could have supported.

21. Chris De Burgh (Liverpool)

Annoying warbler who almost single-handedly ruined the Eighties with a love ballad about a lady in a brightly-coloured dress. Don’t go to Anfield early unless you want to hear syrup like this pouring out of the PA system... “The lady in red is dancing with me, cheek to cheek, There's nobody here, it's just you and me, It's where I want to be, But I hardly know this beauty by my side, I'll never forget the way you look tonight.” Pass the sickbag.

20. Sylvester Stallone (Everton)

Got his picture on the front page of almost every single newspaper in England by turning up to Goodison Park for Everton’s 1-1 draw with Reading in the same week that his new Rocky film hit the multiplexes. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

19. Mick Hucknall (Manchester United)

Can a white man sing the blues? Not this one.

18. Alan Green (Macclesfield Town and Linfield)

Irritating BBC radio commentator who is not, repeat is not, repeat has never been, and repeat will never be a Liverpool supporter. “Greeny” says he’s Macclesfield and Linfield through and through and who are we to argue?

17. Amy Winehouse (Aston Villa)

“They tried to make me go to Tottenham, I said no, no, no.” The tabloid’s favourite junkie lives a couple of tube stops away from White Hart Lane and Arsenal but she’s been photographed stumbling around Camden Town with a Villa pendant dangling around her neck. Why Villa? Apparently, her husband Blake Fielder-Civil is a Holte Ender.

16. Elton John (Watford)

He’s loaded and he’s a genuine fan but would you want him supporting your team? Thought not.

15. Delia Smith (Norwich City)

See above.

14. Ant and Dec (Newcastle United)

Professional Geordies who live in West London and make a fortune from presenting some of the worst television programmes in the history of the world. Which one is which? Who cares?

13. Tom Hanks (Aston Villa)

Hollywood actor who supports Villa because he likes their name and because he had a film to flog when he came to London last year. “He was brilliant in Saving Private Ryan,” Martin O’Neill, the Villa manager, said. “It would be a real honour if he came and watched us play.” Don’t hold your breath.

12. Michael Jackson (Exeter City)

Do you wanna be starting something? The King of Pop arrived at St James Park in a blaze of publicity in 2002 to lecture the locals about world peace and harmony. He did it as a favour for Uri Geller, his spoonbending friend and former Exeter chairman. Exeter were relegated out of the Football League the following season. Jackson has not been back since

11. David Cameron (Aston Villa)

The Bullingdon Berk claims that he is a Villa fan because “the first game I ever went to was an Aston Villa game and so I am an Aston Villa fan”. Man of the people Dave forgot to mention that he was taken along by his uncle, Sir William Dugdale, who just happened to be the Villa chairman at the time.

10. Sean Bean (Sheffield United)

Professional Northerner and former Sheffield United director who is always banging on about how much he loves the Blades. Fell out spectacularly with Neil Warnock, the former United manager, last year. “At a board meeting, he made a big show of how he wanted to make an important point,” Warnock said. “We all waited expectantly and then he said that we should get rid of Captain Blade. That was it. That was all he wanted to talk about. The team mascot. The fluffy thing on the touchline. Captain F**king Blade. That was the extent of his contribution.

9. Piers Morgan (Arsenal)

Never misses a chance to tell the world that he loves Arsenal but spoiled it all by claiming in his Sunday newspaper column that “Arsenal have won precisely nothing since 2004. Not even a Carling bloody Cup.” Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2005.

8. Meat Loaf (Hartlepool United)

Mr Loaf has never been to Hartlepool but he was apparently considering moving to Teesside five years ago because he wanted to live near Victoria Park. He’s never been to a game, he likes pies and he’s overweight. Two out of three ‘aint bad.

7. Zeljko “Arkan” Raznatovic (Red Star Belgrade and Obilic)

Serbian paramilitary mass murderer and ethnic cleanser who was indicted by the United Nations on charges of crimes against humanity and acts of genocide before he was assassinated in 2002.

6. Robbie Williams (Port Vale)

The man who ruined the build-up to every single professional football game in the world by recording “Let Me Entertain You”.

5. Osama Bin Laden (Arsenal)

In a cave, somewhere in Pakistan, the most wanted man in the world is kicking his battered transistor radio as news reaches him that Arsenal have lost again. “That bloody infidel Wenger,” he wails. “Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Tottenham!”

4. Nick Hornby (Arsenal)

Before “Fever Pitch” we could pay at the turnstiles, stand on the terraces and watch a fight. After “Fever Pitch” we have to pay £50, sit next to a solicitor and give Sky £40 a month.

3. Jon Gaunt (Coventry City)

We hate to kick a man when he’s down – “Gaunty” was sacked by TalkSPORT recently – but you probably wouldn’t want to sit next to everyone’s least favourite right-wing shock jock at a game.

2. Russell Brand (West Ham United)

Potty-mouted “comedian” who minces about Upton Park pretending he owns the place. Also writes a pathetic weekly football column in The Guardian and called his autobiography “My Booky Wook”.

1. Adolf Hitler (Schalke 04)

Hitler may have bombed Old Trafford, but he wasn’t a Manchester City fan. The Fuhrer had a soft spot for Schalke, who, funnily enough, were German champions six times between 1933 and 1945. “Winning a match,” Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief, wrote, “is of more importance to the people than the capture of a town in the East.’” He obviously never went to a Norwich-Millwall game.

I'm not sure I agree with all their nominations (being a Spurs and Quo fan, #34 is a winner for me), but on the whole it seems fair and balanced...


The air pressure inside a ping pong ball is twice the typical sea-level pressure, making it more difficult to crush.

The Future of Art?

The University of the Arts London has chosen works from its 12 best post-graduates which include a tower of video cassettes, an installation of abandoned glasses and slowed-down footage of the moon in orbit.

One "artist" described his work, entitled "Sock It To Me"* as:

"to confront abstraction's enduring ties to certain pivotal moments in Modernism"

Excuse me?

What amazes me is the idiots they fool into believing they have any modicum of talent in the first place. Talk about the Emperor's New Clothes. Let's hope the recession kills off this bollocks sharpish.

*And wouldn't you just love to?

It's a-Coming

I was so hoping that Georgetown would resist the urge to introduce Christmas before we hit December proper, but I have to report that bit by bit shops are indeed setting up their festive displays and piping through carols into the venues.

Fortunately it's all a little refined and discreet (still no Slade or Wizard) but it makes me chuckle to see scenes of Christmas trees, snow and other associated (cold) scenes such as snowmen and similar in temperatures that have yet to drop below 30 C.

Our hotel also erected it's tree in the foyer yesterday and it looks rather good. Simple and elegant yet eye-catching, but no way does it feel like Yule walking around in shorts and a T. :0)

Two Wheeled Transport

Once more, bikes are a chosen weapon of the swift commuter in the city, although cars are still in abundance.

We strolled past a second hand bike shop recently and noticed a good 125 cc autospastic can be picked up for around RM 2 700 => ~£490.

I wonder how much to hire one; I'm getting an itchy throttle hand and it's been well over a year since we had the services of the Shonky Shitter in Porto Heli.


It's all getting a bit lively down there, isn't it?

Hopefully things will soon begin to settle down as we will be heading out there early January (2009) to meet up with the in-laws.

Although I doubt our travel plans feature too highly on the demonstrator's agenda...

Latest news from TTel:

Protesters occupying Bangkok's two airports braced for a raid night after Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat declared a limited state of emergency authorizing police to take back the terminals.

Mr Wongsawat's elected government is struggling for survival amid mounting rumours of a military coup.
The city's second airport, Don Muang, which carries mostly domestic traffic, was closed on Thursday morning after being overrun by anti-government protesters, severing the last air-link between the city of 8 million people and the outside world.
Suvarnabhumi international airport, a major regional hub, has been closed since explosions occurred and protesters overran the control tower on Tuesday.
"It is wrong for protesters to take the entire Thai nation hostage," Mr Somchai told the nation in a televised address, saying security forces would now move in to end the blockades.
Last night 30 medical teams were on standby near Suvarnabhumi in readiness for a possible crackdown on the protesters, who remained defiant. "We will not leave. We will use human shields against the police if they try to disperse us," said Suriyasai Katasila, one of the group's leaders. They refuse to leave until the government resigns.
Meanwhile, rumours that the army would stage a coup mounted to fever pitch during the day after tanks were seen on the move in central Bangkok. The army insisted they had merely been part of a display for cadets.
Around 2000 British holiday makers are now trapped in the Thai capital, according to a British embassy spokesman, and that figure is rising every day.
One of them is Craig Marsh who, with his wife, has visited 15 times in the last 10 years.
"We absolutely love the place but my wife's saying, 'we're not coming back'," the 47-year-old from Kent said. "You feel like you are a captive, and in the hotel there is not a lot of information. We feel like we've had enough, which is a shame."
The seat of Thai government has effectively moved to the northern city of Chiang Mai, the administration's electoral stronghold. Ministers flew to join prime minister Somchai there on Thursday for an emergency cabinet meeting.
In an apparent attempt to forestall a coup the government spokesman, Nattawut Saikuar, left the meeting to issue a public assurance that the powerful army chief Anupong Paochina would not be sacked a day after the general called for the dissolution of parliament.
Mr Nattawut also appealed on national radio for soldiers to remain in their barracks.
Thailand's political crisis pits the electorally popular government, which draws its support mainly from the rural poor, against an elite in Bangkok, the army and the royal palace who fear a threat to their traditional power.
The anti-government protest movement, which calls itself the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), has said it would welcome a coup.
Protests by the PAD preceded the last coup, which overthrew the populist government of Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.
Dr Giles Ungpakorn, a Thai political scientist, pointed out that the army is responsible for security at Suvarnabhumi airport and that Don Muang is located inside an air force base, yet the military did nothing to stop the PAD taking them over.
Gen Anupong has repeatedly insisted his men will not topple the government.
According to Dr Thitinan Pongsudhirak, another political scientist, the chances of a coup in the next few days "receded slightly" following the imposition of a state of emergency.
The state of emergency hands responsibility to other generals, possibly defusing the tension between Prime Minister Somchai and Army Chief Anupong, Dr Thitinan said.
The question remains whether anyone is willing or able to remove the protesters from the airports. "It's untenable to have the airport occupied indefinitely, it's simply untenable," said Dr Thitinan.
Yet when a similar state of emergency was declared to evict the PAD from Government House in September the army refused to act. The official seat of the Thai government is still illegally occupied by the PAD three months later.
The government, elected with a healthy majority less than a year ago, has been made to look powerless while the traditional establishment appears to side with the protesters. Last month the Queen of Thailand appeared to signal her support when she attended the funeral of a PAD member.
Meanwhile government supporters, who wear red shirts to distinguish themselves from the PAD's yellow, say they will clear the airports if the authorities do not. One man died in clashes between opposing protesters near Chiang Mai airport on Wednesday night.
The government's supporters have said they will physically resist a coup, raising fears of a bloodbath if the army does step in.
At least one international flight landed at a military airbase outside Bangkok on Thursday and there are plans to operate a limited service to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur "within 48 hours".
But even if the protests are ended quickly it will take days for normal service to resume and much longer for Thailand's economic and political credibility to recover.

Really Bad News

Once upon a time many years ago, we started fraternising with the "other side"; a group of good natured guys who worked in the car business.

We, as the more enlightened motorcyclist enthusiasts and thus with superior knowledge on all things in life, felt they would benefit from our company and started to try and convince them to step away from the Dark Side and try the more exciting skills of two wheels.

Alas, they steadfastly refused but nevertheless, our rivalry and friendship continued and we always looked forward to our "Friday Night Club" with great enthusiasm and even to this day keep in touch regularly.

We've just heard that they will be facing redundancy any day now and the company is closing its doors before Christmas. :-(

Guys, we really feel for you and hope things work out. This really is an awful time for everyone, but we are certain this will end up being a blessing in disguise and you will emerge from this much stronger than before.

Please keep in touch and we wish you all the very best for the future.

Last Birthday of this Month

Many happy returns this time to my other sister-in-law, Sam, who will be celebrating her birthday today. How uncanny is that, two sisters-in-law and they have a birthday each just a day apart?

As it's a Friday, I'm sure we will be raising a glass to you later. :o)

Thursday, 27 November 2008

This Sums Us Up, EXACTLY!

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Although wifey is usually much more enthusiastic about her advice...

Insults in Japan

Japan may no longer be the land of respect, harmony and politeness for the kids of today as they have discovered a new way to trade insults with each other; via acronyms. For example:

She thinks he's too bloody KY by far, and he's sick to death of being treated like an NTT - and if things get much more MM, he's going to MK5 and she's going to jolly well flounce off to HR.

Which translates to:

She thinks he is KY (kuki yomenai) because he is pathetically clueless when it comes to reading the situation; he is furious because as an NTT (nimotsu tantosha) he has had to lug her bags round the shops like a packhorse. MM (maji mukatsu) means they are both utterly disgusted with each other - MK5 (maji kireru 5 byo mae) suggests that he is going to blow his lid in five seconds, while she is sulkily going to HR (hitori ranchi), or eat on her own.

OK, it may not be much in the way of the West's skill for insulting someone, but in the part of the world where decorum, manners and saving face is all, it's getting a tad serious. Particularly as a company has seized on the new trend as an opportunity to cash in, by creating a set of 46 football style "yellow cards" of the most common new acronyms which can then be waved in the faces of victims.

Some more choice insults:

AB Amai mono wa betsubara - the kind of woman who has a separate stomach for puddings
GM Gyudon no hou ga mashi - even gyudon (very cheap fast food) is better than this muck FK Fande koi - someone who trowels on the make-up
ND Ningen to shite douyo - what the hell kind of person is this?
NTT Nimotsu tantosha - a packhorse for a girlfriend's shopping trips
OBM Okubyoumono - a man too chicken to ask a girl on a date
DD Daredemo daisuki -
the kind of person who falls for anyone
NS Noryoku yori seikaku - someone promoted way beyond his competence
ATM Ahona teishu mo iranai - the idiot man I don't need in my life anymore

Ta to TTimes.

Ever Wondered Where You Stood?

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IQ ranges by professions. What, no "retired" rating? :o)


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When just having the odd beer is simply not enough...

Sticks & Stones

A man has been gaoled for breaching the peace by singing Spiderpig from The Simpsons Movie at police officers. He was sentenced to three months for the incident and calling an officer "ginger" in a police van.

Sensitive types, aren't they? :0)

Full story: BBC

Holy Dead Super Hero, Batman. Batman?

Taken from TTel, Batman could be kicking the bucket real soon:

'Batman RIP' will see "the end of Bruce Wayne as Batman", according to Grant Morrison.
There are rumours that Batman will suffer a gruesome end when his sidekick Robin goes over to "the dark side" and destroys him in a terrible betrayal.

Batman, alter ego of Bruce Wayne a wealthy industrialist, operates in the American Gotham City.

Others speculate that Wayne may either retire from his duties or be killed by a mystery villain known as the Black Glove.

His fate will be revealed in the latest issue of DC Comic's Batman, published on 26 November.
Either way, his demise will lead to a hunt for a replacement.

"What I am doing is a fate worse than death, things that no one would expect to happen to these guys at all," Mr Morrison told Comic Book Resources.

Mr Morrison, the Scottish writer, has written storylines for comics including X-Men for Marvel and Superman for DC Comics. He took over writing the Batman series for DC in 2006.

Bruce Wayne has given up the Caped Crusader mantle once before. In the 'Knightfall' storyline, Batman's back was broken by villain Bane, causing Wayne to recruit Jean-Paul Valley to replace him.

Mr Morrison declined to reveal who the new Batman would be, but the frontrunners include Tim Drake who has been Robin since 1991 and Dick Grayson - the original Boy Wonder.

It is not the first time a superhero has met an unfortunate end in the comic world. Last year, Captain America was killed after being shot by a sniper in New York. Superman's death in 1992 at the hands of Doomsday became the biggest selling Superman comic in history. He was later resurrected.

Batman was co-created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger for DC Comics. The character first appeared in Detective Comics in May 1939.