Monthly archive

Haven’t you got better things to do?

Are you local?

It is a news update on keithlard’s local shopping efforts!

As you know I have resolved to support my local shops this year instead of Tescos and Amazon ekcetera, and it is going quite well. I have asked in the little shop if they can get Leffe and it looks like they might do! So that is the immediate medical needs sorted out.

I have been getting meat from the little wrinkly faced organic butcher at Mill Hill and it turns out they also deliver and have an online shop! (OrganicButcher.net and it is even powered by an open-source shopping engine!). It is proving somewhat problematic though as everything in there looks really nice including home made sossidges, organic eggs, delicious plump chicken ekcetera, and I keep coming home laden with armfuls of meat. I have started drinking meat coffee and making stylish yet comfortable furniture out of meat, and wearing a necklace made of bacon, in a vain attempt to use it up.

There is a jolly good fruiterers and vegertablers, Ellingham’s, in the high street, and I can get most everything there except I wish they would label what things are like Tescos do, as I stood worriedly contemplating some type of vegertable that looked like transplant organs, until Jane told me it was fennel.

Goodeats the Indian shop is really good as they have all such as chillies and coriander and onions and garlic and whole turmeric, and there is a friendly man there that advises you about them, and they have about ten yards of floor-to-ceiling spices and all manner of intresting snacks and chutneys. Basically that takes care of most of my curry cooking requiremints.

As far as housewares go eg washing powder and toilet roll and such like, there is the inexpensive housewares shop which sells those type of quotidian necessities as well as, for some reason, about fourteen different kinds of imitation stuffed tiger.

Really the only things I still need to go to Tescos for are nice beer (hopefully soon to be fixed) and bread. Nowhere else in the area that I know of has whole crusty bread especially granary, or the nice little cheesy rolls. There is not even a proper bakery, as there is Greggs but if you can believe it they do not actually sell bread. It is just for selling overpriced sandwidges to office workers crazed with corporate lunch stress.

As you know it is deeply distressing news in the book arena as my local independent bookshop (The Finchley Bookshop) has closed down, which is a shame as I used to love going in there and chatting to the owner about books and which books we liked and why it is impossible to make any money running a bookshop. I used to research the books I wanted on Amazon and then just phone up Mike at the bookshop and order them, then he would phone me when they came in and I would go and pick them up! Now I think the nearest one is Josephs in Temple Fortune which is not so convenient!

However I did find a super web site today which is LocalBookshops.co.uk. It has two great features! You can type in your postcode and it will find the nearest independent cheerful bookshop to you which is run by an eccentric man with a reindeer jumper. Alternatively you can search for a book, and it will then find the nearest bookshop to you that has that book! And it automatically transfers you to the bookshop’s web site if it has one, with your book already in the shopping basket ready to buy! I tried it with The Viper of Milan which I am dying to read, and it said I can get it from Archway Books which is quite near by!

It does not get any better than that in my view.

Indians are taking up yoga

Another successful Western cultural export!

Disco yoga? Laughter yoga? It’s more popular than ever before - but these days yoga is a lifestyle choice rather than a serious practice, says Kathy Phillips.
It’s meant to be spiritual, you know

Personally I think yoga is great, so I am not going to get too sniffy about it especially as if it were not for the massive popularisation of yoga I never would have discovered it myself, albeit before Madonna. There used to be a TV series when I was very small (for the younger generation, this was practically in black and white, and used to be broadcast from Alexandra Palace, with scratchy music and a yoga teacher in a dinner jacket) called Lyn Marshall’s Everyday Yoga and me and my Mum used to do it.

Regrettably I let my practice lapse a bit between the ages of about 9 and 29, so I cannot really sneer, like Phillips, at those who pick up and put down yoga as easily as getting in and out of your 4x4. I suppose I have picked and chosen the bits I like or that work for me and left the rest, although I do know it is not a high-energy aerobic activity or a competitive sport. Still however you come to yoga I think that as you start listening to your body it starts talking to you in a little voice telling you what it really wants.

Sometimes in my case it is a bacon sandwidge though.

Buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters

The doors of Darkplace were open. Not the literal doors of the building, most of which were closed. But evil doors. Dark doors. Doors to the beyond. Doors that were hard to shut, because they were abstract, and didn’t have handles. They were more like portals really. From this day on I’d have to fight these forces of darkness, and deal with the burden of day-to-day admin.”
— Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

Firstly Amazon. It is amazing that a web site can get to be the world’s No.1 online shopping brand (can you even think of a No.2?) and still be so hard to use. Even seasoned internet freaks like me still have the occasional hiccup, while my Dad who is highly intelligent and knows about advanced physicks, struggled and struggled just to put his credit card number in to buy me a Christmas present, and eventually gave up in disgust.

I happened to be having a curry with the former head of Amazon’s data warehouse division recently (yes, it’s a glamorous life in IT) and I told him about this. He said he wasn’t surprised. The web site (this is me speaking now not him) is enormous, complicated, visually confusing, and there are several different ways to do the same thing, except in some cases where you have to do things in a set order and if you do not it all goes wrong.

I just went to order a book, something I do not do very often as you know being a patron of local bookshops, but this was from a second-hand seller (it is Most Secret War by R.V. Jones, head of the Air Ministry scientific intelligence division and the man behind the excellent TV series The Secret War.) Anyway I entered my credit card number, tappety tappety tap tap tap, expiry date, start date, tappety tappety, confirm, enter, continue, click here to be absolutely SURE you want to confirm this page. It showed me the confirm order page, including the delivery address, which I realised I needed to change. So I clicked on ‘Change’ and entered the correct address, and clicked ‘Continue’… and it took me straight back to the ‘enter your credit card number’ page.

But I already entered it! So I clicked ‘Continue’, and it said ‘There is a slight problem with your order. You have not entered a credit card number’! So I was forced to go through the whole rigmarole again! Bad Amazon! (Aren’t they supposed to have patented one-click ordering? They don’t mention that it is one click and 1,600 keystrokes.)

Second gripe of the day is the UK Passport Service. I have had an amusing and lengthy struggle to get a new passport issued after I lost my old one (or it was pinched). The first application was rejected because there was no counter-signatory for the photos (you don’t need this for a new passport application, but you do for a replacement - which isn’t clear from the application form). The photos were the only copies I had, and they weren’t returned, so I had to get some more taken. This application was rejected because the counter-signatory (Matt) did not meet the required conditions (unspecified). I got more photos and this time got to sign them. This whole process took many, many weeks of letters back and forth, and filling out a complete new multi-page application each time (why couldn’t they just remember?).

Finally a letter arrived and I ripped it open in excitemint, expecting a shiny new passport. Instead it said “We are sorry but there is another £15 to pay as application fees went up in October.” But it is only because of the lengthy and tedious bureaucratic correspondence they’ve insisted on that it’s taken this long in the first place! My first application was submitted well before October so really they should pay me!

Incidentally, spending some time on telephone hold to the UKPS this morning, I noticed that their hold music is the Brandenburg Concertos (Bach) and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Mozart). Shouldn’t the UK Passport Service have British music? Elgar, perhaps, or Oasis.

(Picture by atariboy2600.)

Oh lawks!

We’re in the stickiest situation since Sticky the stick insect got stuck on a sticky bun.”
— Blackadder

I just got stuck to a flypaper! It broke while I was pulling it open, so I just grabbed the end with my hand and finished opening it… then realised I was stuck to it! Man do not ever get that stuff on your hands because it is sticky as hell! It sticks to you like glue. Because it is!

I understand that stickiness is the very raisin d’être of flypaper, but really! Even after washing my hands and extensive brushing with a nail brush I am still sticking to everything I pick up. On the other hand I have now gained the ability to crawl across the walls and ceiling like Jeff Goldblum. Luckily the resemblance ends there and I do not have to sick on to things to dissolve them with my digestive juices, ekcetera.

They're happy because they eat mud

I went out bikling today! Because it is super weather. I have put on lots of weight over Xmas due to sossidges, and other nice foods, so I really need some proper exercise, and up till now it has been rainy and horrid. Today it was lovely and sunny though so I felt brave, brushed all the cobwebs and skellingtons off my bicycle, pumped up the tyres, and zoomed off to Coppetts Wood the nature reserve.

It was wizzo fun! Cycling is the second most enjoyable way to elevate your heart rate, and certainly the muddiest. I discovered various ponds, sekrit paths, and some leafy glades ekcetera, and I noticed some birds! It turns out I am not even as unfit as I thought although I did go into VF a couple of times. Luckily I saw on Blue Peter how to make a portable defibrillator out of two sink plungers, some sticky-backed plastic and a 9 volt battery (get a grown up to help you with this).

It is great as getting started is the hardest bit of anything, and I have dreaded getting started bikling again. Now I will be able to lose lots of pounds and look all lean and toned like Daniel Craig and fit into my super new clothes!

I am just relaxing with a freshly squeezed orange and mango juice drink, and then I am going to go and hose a substantial amount of nature reserve off my bike.

Get back to Finchley, you North Londoner!

It is quite funny that newspapers I don’t read are making a fuss about a TV show I don’t watch. But I puzzled over this, from the Guardian:

The complaints were further fuelled when Tweed was reported as calling Shetty a “Paki”. Channel 4 insists that in fact the word he used, which was bleeped out, was “cunt”.

— The Guardian, Big Brother creates diplomatic incident

I’d love to have overheard that conversation with the press officer. But when did it become more insulting to be called a Paki than a cunt? Surely ‘Paki’ simply means someone from Pakistan, in the same way that ‘Geordie’ means someone from Newcastle. It may or may not be factually correct, but it can never be an insult.

I might think that someone who called me a Geordie was a bit ignorant about the fine distinctions of regional origin within the United Kingdom, but I’d hardly get upset about it.

If you think it is an insult to be called Pakistani, what does that say about you?

Hottest. Chick. Evar.

Now the truth can be revealed, I’ve been carrying on a 10-year love affair with hott TV actress Amita Dhiri, out of ‘This Life’. I should probably let her know, but her agent seems to never return my calls for some reason. Sorry Charlotte Bronte but I was committing emotional adultery behind your back! My other imaginary girlfriend is my car so in a way it is a bizarre fictional four-way sex romp with me, hott TV actress Amita Dhiri, dead writer Charlotte Bronte, and an Audi A4. Imagine the porn movie of that!

keithlard's wizzo day

I breakfasted hugely off a servant, with such as organic bacon and sossidges, and potato latkes from the shop, which my friend Daphna did not believe existed, but I texted her a picture of them as photergraphic evidence. You see we are a very multi-ethnic society these days; we welcome free-spending barbarian invaders. Basically I am in favour of cultural diversity because it means more different types of delicious takeaway food.

I did some work things and then escaped by means of an ingenious cardboard cutout of myself, complete with ping-pong balls for eyes, staring intellergently at the computer screen, while I went romping on my bike in the sunshine over hill and dale and through big puddles of mud. I went all up the brook to Totteridge and then down by Wonderful Man Pond and over the common past the Hedge of Mystery, back up Burtonhole Lane by the electricity substation, which I now realise looks like the set of every Blake’s 7 episode, and over the golf course and back home. There is a lot of mud around at the moment! I am getting quite good at it though as you need to shift your weight over the back wheel, pedal slowly and firmly in low gear, and activate the James Bond-style button which turns the bike into a fully-functioning submarine.

I had a good wash to get all the lumps of Totteridge Common off me and then I went for a super night out with Matt and Sophy!. It was Ian’s birthday party at Quinn’s, and we joined suspicious looking Goth types for a few drinks before heading off to Kentish Town for a top quality curry. Yum yum!

I had a few tasty Belgian drinks butm not drunkonest. Oof. Tumbled over!

I am happy though.