Thursday, 27 September 2007

I've got ten minutes.

I've got ten minutes to construct a lucid post before I have to jet out of here with a toddler-in-tow to playgroup. Can I do it? Doubtful. It's been one week since last I've posted on this blog. I've been flitting around and commenting on others' blogs (some nice comments, some silly comments, and some rather bizarre comments) - sorry if you were on the receiving end of one of my silly/bizarre comments. I'm up for blaming something else entirely, namely the water, the acupuncture treatment I've been receiving, the change of the seasons, the lack of inspiration for my own writing, my upcoming exams, the upcoming trip to Poland/France/the Maudsley, etc.

Right, I've now used up two minutes - I've got eight minutes left. Actually, I don't have eight minutes left because I do have to load the dishwasher, tidy up the toys, brush one youngster's teeth and hair. I'll sign off now.

Friday, 21 September 2007

A Healthy Dose of Reality

This week marks the third anniversary of my SO's father's death. He had battled non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, living with it for 15 years (!) and knowing that he would eventually die from it. He had a brilliant oncologist who was able to give him a decent quality of life for as long as possible. Credit to John, he was an active man who enjoyed bellringing, golf, the internet, the Guardian crossword, reading, Elgar and a multitude of other interests. He was honest in his dealings with people and always spoke to me in a manner that suggested he saw me as an equal. We spoke of science and politics and he was curious to know my viewpoint, as an American citizen, and as a woman. I miss John in the same way I miss my maternal grandmother. They were people who allowed me inside and spoke with me on a level, shared a joke with me and asked me questions. It's small things like that that keep them alive in my memory, and I guess I try to occasionally remember them - I think it's all they would have wanted from me.

This leads me to the next thought, which is that I no longer believe in anything beyond this life. It can be a depressing thought for some that this is all there is to life; that it ends when it ends. It was a bit of a corner-turning moment for me when the cogs in my head clicked into a lower gear, and I started thinking about all the ramifications of not having to answer to a higher being from beyond. I stopped lying to myself and stopped lying to others (for the most part). What was the point? I didn't have to answer to anyone except myself and if I looked like a fool for trying to fool others, then it was me who had to live with that. I started valuing life for what it was. For some people life is horrible. Religion tries to give people personal pat answers about what life should mean and convince them of a reality that asks, in my opinion, far too much and changes with the weather. I wasn't going to try and convince others of a reality that no longer existed, for me, nor was I going to try and keep up with another edict, another commandment, another interpretation of holy text.

John's honesty was a mainstay in my life and quite instrumental in a shift in my thinking. He never tried to enforce his reality upon me, but his reality never changed whereas my thinking shifted all over the place. He knew his was a life cut shorter than average. He never cursed nor praised God, that I heard. He just got on with it* and tried to live as long as he could.

Yesterday, I listened to a programmed called 'Word of Mouth', on BBC's Radio 4. A guest speaker, his name escapes me, mentioned that religious phrases have crept into politics, both in the US and the UK, and that the apocalyptic rhetoric is being used more and more to convince people to vote out of fear. Emotional responses to difficult decisions always seem to yield poor results. Our emotions change; I believe that they are the key things that shape our reality. I have an adverse reaction to something and so my whole life is built upon avoidance of that thing. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we based our decisions on practicality and logic, rather than emotions? It may not be practical, after all, but it would be an interesting change from the highly-charged reactions, that may be appropriate in the short term, but devastating for the long term.

That's it for today. It's just a thought. What do you think?

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Congratulations Pub Quiz No. 1

Well, the results for the first ever blog pub quiz are in and I am happy to say that Pub Club Foot has a winner with Mabel and Team Sunset Zamboni. Congratulations Mabel and thank you so much for playing along! For those of you interested in the answers to the pub quiz questions then read below.

Mabel, I will send your prize in the post and you should get it in the next few weeks.

Pub Quiz No. 1 Answers

1. What is the relatively uncommon disease caused by consumption or contact with Fava Beans called? Favism!
2. If you perform 'hana giri' to a radish, what are you doing? Cutting it into the shape of a flower.
3. How many pints of ale are normally imbibed before the Quizmaster must excuse herself and nip to the toilet? Usually 1 and a half. On my way back from the toilet I get another round of drinks for the table. TMI?
4. What happens upon consumption of either a Fly Agaric or a Yellow Stainer? DEATH! They are poisonous mushrooms.
5. What is the Quizmaster's favourite restaurant? Terre a terre, in Brighton.
6. Finish this limerick by filling in the blanks:
"There was an old ______________ of Crediton gourmet
Who ate ___________________ having spread it on pate fois gras
A chocolate biscuit
He boomed 'Hell, I'll risk it!'
His _____________ bears the date that he said it on." tomb
7. What does the 'Scoville Scale' measure? Heat in chillies.
8. The 'zucchini' is also called a ________________ in the UK. Courgette
9 Which food could the Quizmaster eat 3 x daily for the rest of her life? Cold cereal, oddly enough.
10. In the UK, which food is generally eaten on Shrove Tuesday? Pancakes, in a bid to eat up all the prohibited foodstuffs just before Lent.

1. In poetry, who was the famous son of Weno'nah? Hiawatha. Sorry, I misspelled the name the first time.
2. What occupation practices 'maquillage'? Make-up artist.
3. What is the chemical formulation for carbon monoxide? CO
4. What is the Quizmaster's favourite pastime? Slacking!
5. What was Miss Piggy's character name in 'Muppet Treasure Island'? Benjamina Gunn
6. Who has the sauciest avatar of the Quizmaster's readership? SML
7. Which future saint took part in the stoning of St Stephen? St. Paul
8. Which African country is closest to Italy? Tunisia.
9. What is the name of the Quizmaster's dog? Wonder Pup
10. What breed of dog is the Quizmaster's dog? Part dog, part baby.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Why it's impossible to live life without sometimes looking like a tit

The good thing about arriving in Paris a day ahead of meeting up with SML, Wry and Chanson is that I will get a chance to finally visit the Pompidou Centre, which houses a few floors of contemporary art and is situated near the Les Halles area. I cannot automatically assume that anyone else will be remotely interested in modern art when Paris has the granddaddy and grandmammy of all museums, the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay filled to the brim with Renaissance and Impressionist masterpieces, and so I will try to get my fill of abstract impressionism, fauvism and cubism on the Saturday afternoon. I say try. I will try to make it through the door of the Pompidou Centre, this time. The last time J and I went to Paris, I stubbornly got into a queue filled with a few uniformed groups of kids, a bunch of Japanese 20-something tourists and a German or two. J motioned to me to read the sign she had just found but I shot her a smug (and probably rather ugly) look that said, 'See, I can find the fastest moving queue. Now, hop up here beside me.' The two groups of schoolkids were accompanied by two adults who managed to herd them through the ropes, past the security guard and into the treasure trove of spattered, squiggled and globular painted canvasses and sculpture. I was salivating and a wee bit sweaty from the anticipation.
"Ecole?" the guard asked looking from me to J to the Japanese tourists. The Germans had, by that time, left the queue and were wandering around taking pictures of the outside of the building.
My eyebrows shot up. Again, he asked, "Ecole?" I paused. J paused.
Finally, I blurted out, "Je m'appelle Aitch..." F*ck! Why did I tell him my name?
His eyebrows shot up. My face turned hot and a droplet of sweat ran down the side of my face.
The guard, probably very nicely, explained to us that we were standing at the entrance for the schools but in my head it sounded like the French version of, "YOU are a supreme idiot!"
I was too mortified to look for the other entrance and so J and I found a McDonalds and got a coffee (I know, I know but I was traumatized by the experience and I needed the comfort of familiarity found in the face of a capitalist clown...sue me.).

I'm looking forward to a Saturday in Paris. I know where the main entrance for the Pompidou Centre is located. If you see me on Sunday and I've got a red face, just go with my explanation that it's sunburn.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Stone Roses fan?

Just thought you might be interested in a brilliant new song from former Stone Roses' frontman, Ian Brown.

Are we all in need of an extension?


I'm a bit worried that perhaps the pub quiz competition isn't meant to be. I didn't get a single response and maybe I just need to ask whether a blogging pub quiz is a crap idea. So, is a blogging pub quiz a really crap idea? Did I set the questions too hard, too easy, too ridiculous, too personalized? Do I need to give more time for the answers to come back to me? Do I need to clarify that I'm not really going to send out a wheel of cheese as a prize and that's just my idea of a funny joke?

If I give everyone til Monday will there be takers?


Monday, 10 September 2007

Pub Quiz 1

Okay, everyone have a drinky? Two rounds...ten questions each (we're going to start off nice and gently)
1st round - Food and Drink
2nd round - General Knowledge

Good luck!
1. What is the relatively uncommon disease caused by consumption or contact with Fava Beans called?
2. If you perform 'hana giri' to a radish, what are you doing?
3. How many pints of ale are normally imbibed before the Quizmaster must excuse herself and nip to the toilet?
4. What happens upon consumption of either a Fly Agaric or a Yellow Stainer?
5. What is the Quizmaster's favourite restaurant?
6. Finish this limerick by filling in the blanks:
"There was an old ______________ of Crediton
Who ate ___________________ having spread it on
A chocolate biscuit
He boomed 'Hell, I'll risk it!'
His _____________ bears the date that he said it on."
7. What does the 'Scoville Scale' measure?
8. The 'zucchini' is also called a ________________ in the UK.
9 Which food could the Quizmaster eat 3 x daily for the rest of her life?
10. In the UK, which food is generally eaten on Shrove Tuesday?

1. In poetry, who was the famous son of Wenohah?
2. What occupation practices 'maquillage'?
3. What is the chemical formulation for carbon monoxide?
4. What is the Quizmaster's favourite pastime?
5. What was Miss Piggy's character name in 'Muppet Treasure Island'?
6. Who has the sauciest avatar of the Quizmaster's readership?
7. Which future saint took part in the stoning of St Stephen?
8. Which African country is closest to Italy?
9. What is the name of the Quizmaster's dog?
10. What breed of dog is the Quizmaster's dog?

Right then, email your answers to:
The competition ends on Thursday 13 September 2007

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Pub Quiz Rules OK!

1. The Pub shall be forevermore known as: The Club Foot
2. The Quiz shall be forevermore known as: Club Foot Quiz or CFQ
3. There shall be a single wheel of cheese awarded as the prize.

4. Cheating is encouraged, yea, required.

5. Teams can be made up of one or more persons. Teams greater than 21 people must submit their answers in Sanskrit.

6. Team Names must show a degree of creativity - I refuse to award the wheel of cheese to a team called 'The Terminators' or some such nonsense. By the way, you cannot be called, "2 Sheds Jackson", "Spinsters of the Parish", or "Filing for Divorce". These names are already in use at various South London pubs.
7. Slight inebriation is encouraged but not required.
8. Creative points are sometimes awarded for answers showing a certain je ne sais quoi
9. Questions are played in 'rounds' of 10. There is one joker that every team has, which means that if they feel they've done especially well in that round of questions then they can play their joker and points are doubled. The joker can be played only once.
10. Quizmaster has the last say on whether the answers are correct enough to be awarded points. Do not argue, it's unbecoming...bribery, however, is flattering.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Competition Ex-ten-sion!

HUGE APOLOGIES! It has come to my attention that today is Friday and I said last week that I would post the Pub Quiz Rules and questions on my blog. I need an extension, I'm afraid. I have one last paper to hand it for my university course and it's due tonight so I'm doing as much writing and proofreading today to get it into good shape for submitting.

I will, I repeat, I will have rules up by tomorrow and questions up on Sunday. That means that I will extend the deadline for submitting your answers a few more days, too, so the results will be posted on Thursday now.
If you'd like to play in teams then by all means, do! If not, play on your own. There is only one prize so if you manage to answer the most questions correctly (or at least interestingly) then you get THE WHEEL OF CHEESE all to yourself. Best of luck!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Cough, cough mememememememe

1. What time did you get up this morning?

2. How do you like your steak?
Still mooing and attached to a live cow. I haven't eaten beef in YEARS...when I did it was a butterfly cut filet mignon, rare to medium rare.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Er, 'Notes on a Scandal', I think.

4. What is your favorite TV show?
'Have I Got News For You', just in case you've not been paying attention!

5. What did you have for breakfast?
Plain oatcakes and coffee. I like to dunk them and suck the coffee out. Gross, huh?

6. What is your middle name?
Delilah, Daisy, Dianne, Dorothea, Dahlia, Drue, Doorknob, Destiny's Adolescent, Diamonte

7. What is your favorite cuisine?
I love Thai food. I really like good pub grub, too.

8. What are your favorite chips?
Chips=french fries here...but my favourite crisps are Walker's Tomato Ketchup

9. What is your favorite CD at the moment?
Maximo Park's newest.

10. What kind of car do you drive?
Peugeot 206, Renault Megane

11. What is your favorite sandwich?
Avocado, Cheddar, Mayo & Apple on thick wholemeal bread

12. What characteristics do you despise?
hypocrisy mostly.

13. What are your favorite clothes?
My jeans, a white shirt, Converse

14. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation where would you go?
The Lake District - I've not been yet.

15. Favorite brand of clothing?
Probably Levis.

16. Where would you want to retire?

17. Favorite time of day?
Too difficult to answer...I have lots of favourite times in a day.

18. Where were you born?

19. What is your favorite sport to watch?
Cricket, believe it or not. I don't understand it at all, but watching the bowling is amazing!

20. Who do you think will not do this meme?

21. Who do you expect to do this first?

22. Pepsi or Coke?
Neither. Ginger beer.

23. Beavers or Ducks?
Definitely ducks...I love mallards.

24. Morning or Nite Owl?
Barn Owl.

25. Pedicure or Manicure?
Umm, Manicure.

26. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?
I'm going to finally meet with some friends I've made here in Outer cool.

27. What did you want to be when you were little?
A dolphin.

28. What is your best childhood memory?
Swinging on the swings at Gossett Park during an especially HOT summer, whilst singing the 'Titanic' song at the top of my lungs with my cousins, sister and auntie, and then going to get Braum's ice cream or a slushie.

29. Ever been to Africa ?
No, but I just got invited to Morocco today...for a wedding next odd is that?

30. Been in a car accident?
Yes, going up north of Boston the car I was riding in hit some ice and we spun into the side of another car who had hit the same patch and was spinning, too. We were going so slow (20 mph, I'd say) that it was just a matter of a big crunch and then we were sent off onto the verge. It wasn't scary, at all...

31. Favorite day of the week?

32. Favorite restaurant?
Terre a' terre, in Brighton.

33. Favorite flower?
Iris or peony.

34. Favorite ice cream?
A really nice vanilla or a really nice chocolate.

35. Favorite fast food restaurant?

36. How many times did you fail your driver's test?
Zero, both tests I've taken.

37. From whom did you get your last email?
my mom.

38. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
I've got a rather low limit but probably Selfridges.

39. Bedtime?

40. Who are you most curious about their responses to this?

41. Last person you went out to dinner with
Jay, Em and Cameron Diaz -- don't ask how we scored that one!

42. What are you listening to right now?
The whir of my computer's fan

43. What is your favorite color?

44. How many tattoos do you have?

45. How many are you sending this meme to?
All of you who want to play.

46. Favorite magazine(s)?
Guardian Weekend, Elle Decoration,

47. What time did you finish this meme?

48. How old were you when you got married?
Wow, this is really going to date me, here!

49. How old do you want your kids to be when they get married?
I haven't a bairn in sight...though I do have a wonder pup and if she feels ready for the commitment then we'll stand beside her, even if she is only 12.

Quiz Down't Pub

One of the most fantastic things about living in GB is that the television is quality. Its sitcoms aren't big productions, unlike the US, where actors can get paid insaaaaaane amounts of money for their comic genius. What the Brits do the very best, I think, is producing documentaries. The reputation for unbiased and factual reporting that the BBC has enjoyed extends to the British documentary, as well. By default, it then trickles down into the rest of the UK's television productions.

While the opportunity to watch television is rarely there *sigh*, when I get a chance to watch, most likely you'd find me switching on to either a programme that features Michael Palin, Bruce Parry, David Starkey, Simon Schama or Hardeep Singh Kohli. They have all hosted excellent documentaries informing the British (and sometimes American) public on subjects such as travel in the Himalayas (or other remote Asiatic regions), the role of religion, the rise of secularism and the bizarre nature of ALL tribal rituals (our own, included). I had the condensed version of the history of the monarchy in Britain and I am sure that I could be a tour guide at the Tower of London if I had to be.
The British have a way of making their facts far more fascinating than their fiction, so catching a documentary or a quiz show (more about those in a minute) was the way for me to hothouse my assimilation into UK culture, and helped me understand cultural references even better.
When I first arrived in London, I would send the SO off to work and I watched early morning telly until 11am, get out of bed, have coffee, watch afternoon telly, get back out of bed, fix dinner, clean house, watch evening telly. It was my initiation into current pop culture references, British history, American history (!), socio-biology, religion and politics. This, you see, was a prerequisite for understanding any water-cooler banter and since I planned to eventually get a job, it was important for me to familiarise myself with all things Britannia. The only problem with watching daytime telly (I've been here for over five years, I can call it telly) is the sheer number of competitions they run asking you to phone in and win luxury villas in Spain, and such. I blew a good portion of my savings trying to win us one of those - 50 pence for every call! My all-time favourite programming, however, is the news quiz show called 'Have I Got News For You'. I've laughed until I've pee'd (only a little bit) many times when watching. Enjoy.
This brings me to the announcement that I am hosting another competition. It's a pub quiz and I'll announce all of the rules AND the questions this Friday. There is only one prize so if you want to play in teams, then you'll have to argue amongst yourselves as to who will claim the great wheel of cheese. There will be bonus points awarded to highly original team names as well as highly original answers. I like to think we'll have a bit of a laugh with this one. We'll run the quiz until the Tuesday after that and then either with my extra sensory perception powers or my one contact in the US who seems to have everybody's address, I'll find a way to send out the prize. Ready to play? Righty-ho (once again, I've been here for over five years and I can say righty-ho without sounding like a prat - at least in my head) we're off.