Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Mrs B's Strictly party 2 + Nafman the final curtain?

Mrs Bs second Strictly Come Dancing final party was a resounding success, despite the BBC programme itself turning into a Formula one style farce. Personally I think it is sad that the weakest of the final contestants waltzes off with the trophy. Yes the public has the right to vote but why then bother with the actual dancing when they clearly can't tell a fleckle from a clusters of concentrated melanin and think a rise and fall has something to to with the Stock market (although this has recently become just a free fall). It is very telling that Rachel 'if only I had a personality' Stevens appears to be a better dancer than Tom Chambers' "Equine" professional dancer Camilla Dallerup(or should that be saddle-up, harsh but fair, it's a teeth thing), at times during her performance I thought we had tuned into the horse of the year show....
While Mrs B looks terrific, as usual, my attempts to impersonate Bruce Forsyth sees me look more like I just went 10 rounds with a fondant frosting factory

The girls get carried away after Tom went clear on Camilla Saddle-up

Yet more voting scandal as Craig is tricked into voting for Tom by the girls.....

Craig, Bruno and Bruce relaxing between shots....

Credit Crunch what Credit Crunch
Our attempts to snag ourselves a late ski bargain for New Year have gone astray once again. (Last time it was the "No snow" show in Europe. This led to a last minute scramble to get to a snow bound Canada. Since everyone else was in the same boat and all direct flights to Canada were full, it resulted in us having to get to Canada via Dallas - hardly the most direct route from the UK). This year, while there is plenty of snow in Europe, there appears to be a lack of holiday places (The fascist holiday companies appear to have cut back the number of places available, in order to maintain or even drive up the prices. Something about wanting to make it through the current crisis, how mean spirited is that?*) Instead of getting a bargain, we have ended up having to pay more than the brochure price. OK it is only around an extra £20 each, so not the end of the world, but it can hardly be described as the bargain of the century.

* The saddest thing I heard this week was the story about the scum that descended on Woolworths in the hope of getting bargains. These lovely people felt so incensed that the prices were not as low as they had wanted that they started verbally abusing the staff. The very same staff who had just been informed that they will be out of a job, just after Christmas. Sorry if you are offended by my use of the the term scum, I personally feel they deserve something even stronger but I know it would not get past Mrs B's watertight censorship....
McG's take on our pitiful attempts to snag a late holiday bargain.

Nafman the final curtain??
After years of moaning about Nafman**, our badly behaved in-car navigation system, I have finally got around to replacing him. I'm afraid I did the really pathetic thing and had a match-off between Nafman and the new TomTom, setting them both up on the dashboard and watching them fight it out. The main difference I have noticed so far, if you don't count the out-of-date maps that Nafman had from day one, is the estimated time of arrival. The TomTom uses IQ which takes into account the day and time of day (i.e during rush hour it takes quite a bit longer than at say 3am in the morning) and has so far always been within two minutes of the original estimate. To be honest, Nafman's predictions can only be described as optimistic to say the least - Like a politician in power it just does not like to admit to the true position - 30 miles in 10 minutes would be optimistic on a rocket ship at whatever time of day......

** It is actually a Navman but picked up his name after a number of interesting navigational incidents. Some of the highlights of Nafman's career include :-

  • Never actually being able to admit to the existence of our house. He managed to find two doors down and one door up but not ours. I guess it is lucky that we know where we live.

  • The day when Nafman decided that he was only going to go left - I guess he was going through his communist phase....

  • A couple of occasions where he took us off route, around the houses before spitting us back onto the original road a few miles further along.

  • The time he locked himself in the glove box when we were in Norwich. No amount of coaxing would bring him out. The result was that we were left attempting to leave Norwich without the aid of a map or even some "non-directions" from Nafman, which we could have at least ignored and taken the opposite direction. I'm glad we were only on the outskirts of Norwich. The road signs were so bad that if we had been in the centre we would probably be still there. I ended up having to break the lock on the glove box the following morning. Nafman was banished to his draw, without power, for a number of weeks after that.

    Nafman has not yet gone into retirement as I have loaned him out to my Yoga instructress(Lorna)who mentioned that she was thinking of getting one. I explained his limitations and warned her it was just to get a feel for using one before spending out on a more modern version. I don't hold out many hopes though, for as soon as I switched Nafman on and started to explain how he works Lorna visibly switched off......
    Lorna bright eyed and bushy tailed with barely a hint of the pain she puts me through during yoga. I believe the corrections Lorna makes to my poor beleaguered body gives her a full weekly work out....

    As if by magic, once I switched Nafman on, Lorna switched off.

    No matter how good the TomTom ultimately proves at the task, it just won't have the same character and blogability of Nafman. It's a bit like Formula One has never recovered from the loss of Murry Walker's incompetent commentary......

    I hope you have enjoyed and been entertained by the BlackLOG through the last year. Have a great Christmas and New Year, don't forget to drop into the " BlackLOG - Historical" and tune into the BlackLOG next year....
  • Sunday, 14 December 2008

    The "Strictly "door left slightly a jar....

    It's been a bit of a hunker down weekend as we prepare for Christmas and Mrs B's Strictly Dance party No.2 (I was all for paying some Philipinoes minimum wage but Mrs B decided she would rather exploit my non-creative powers for free). I thought I had a get out of jail free card* with this weekend's Strictly Dance phone fiasco (If you are not a fan it will mean nothing to you. Congratulations and well done for not being ensnared). I mentioned in passing to Mrs B that it sounded almost as bad as the F1 fix earlier in the year (resulting in me having nothing more to do with the sport) and I felt that my conscience would not allow me to continue to support such a corrupt event. Mrs B gave me one of her harder "Don't go there" stares,(Not even Bernie Ecclestone, at his worst could stand up to a full-on Mrs B stare) which afforded me little choice but to continue supporting the whole corrupt sparkly regime.
    A Mrs B Stare, fortunately only at half power. I still hope that Bernie Ecclestone will one day walk infront of a full force version and the rest of him will follow his heart and turn to stone...


    * In truth I had been really enjoying this series, in a perverse kind of way. That is until last week's "Strictly Burn-out" for me, when through a combination of unfortunate events, including a rash promise to record and watch the Saturday night edition with some friends, because we were out on the Saturday night. Add to this a Mrs B migrain which resulted in an almost fatal "Strictly overdose" as I ended up watching the programme twice in a very short time frame. Aaaarrrggghhhh

    The preparations have resulted in not much blogging time, so that's it for the moment. Hope you enjoy the shortness of it, I'll try and get a bit more blogging later in the week (lots of things floating around at the moment), if I can fit it in between Coldplay tomorrow night (yes I have checked both the date and the venue. Thanks for the trust.) and various Christmassie type things.....

    Don't forget to drop into the "BlackLOG - Historical".

    Sunday, 7 December 2008

    Attempting to turn the tables on some of life's parasites

    "Pssssttt wanna buy a window?"

    Mrs B and I had the week off - due to an end of year "use it or lose it" holiday policy for both our firms. As we intend to go skiing at New Year we decided to use this week to do housie things. "Whoo hoo." I shout unconvincingly.

    In order to keep myself entertained, I decided it was revenge time for us poor householders and I took the opportunity to get my own back by cold calling some Double Glazing companies. (We do actually need replacement Double Glazing, as the cost off getting our current wooden window frames painted is not far off putting in maintenance-free replacements and in truth our windows are about as secure as an Icelandic bank. Add to this that our so called Double Glazed windows are giving out more drafts then a colander (unlike trying to get an overdraft out of a high street bank at the moment ....). I may have got a little bit carried away, however. After the dust had settled and I checked the appointments calendar I found that I had managed to squeeze 6 appointments into 3 days.

    Don't tell me I don't know how to put together a holiday entertainment package...

    No,no I really mean it....Mrs B was not particularly impressed, I can tell you....

    The first appointment
    He came in and told us that every other Double Glazing salesman was a crook and a charlatan. A great start which made us trust him about as much as a snake oil salesman. During the 3 hours of torture that he put us through he did leave us with these gems:

    "Yes you can have cream it will look terrific" Followed about an hour later by - "No we don't do cream, it would look awful."

    "You won't be able to force open our windows. See this arm?" - He the proceeded to bang his right fore-arm gently against our granite work top. "It has a titanium plate in it. I doubt with even this strength I would be able to open it." Wow, that demo convinced us.

    "After a visit from one of my competitors one customer immediately offered me the contract for the whole house before I had even quoted a price." Umm, they sounded like sensible people.....I don't know how we resisted the temptation to just hand over a blank cheque then and there.....

    "Now I have educated you about double glazing, any other salesman will know that I have been here." He didn't add "And they will tremble and be rendered powerless with that knowledge." But we had the feeling that that was what he was implying.....

    All in all I doubt we would have purchased his windows if he had offered them for free. There would no doubt have been some catch or other....

    Within minutes of his departure I had cancelled 3 of the remaining 5 appointments. This was for safety reasons - if Mrs B did not kill me, then a few more of these sessions and I would have ended up strangling myself...

    Number two was an improvement and probably would have been the front runner except when we did some background information on some of his advice we realised we would have broken a number of housing regulations. Not just some petty ones mind you but ones that would have made the house unsellable. When he phoned to check why we had not snapped his hand off for his products I pointed out these deficiencies.

    Salesman No.2 - "That's OK our surveyor picks up all that"

    Me - "You mean the Surveyor who comes around after we have put down a non refundable 20%?"

    Salesman No.2 - "Yes"

    Me - "So when he comes back and tells us the price has gone up 50% in order to comply, do we get our non refundable deposit back!

    Salesman No.2 - "Nooooo"

    Me - "Do you really think you have got the account?"

    Salesman No.2 - silence ......Click Click Buzzzzzz

    Wow, you have got to love those salesmen.

    Salesman number three just had to turn up, give us a decent price and some honest advice - He turned up, gave us some decent advice (the Internet is a god send) and the price........

    and the price was.....

    well, we are still waiting for that.

    Is he playing hard to get or what? It feels like we have found ourselves on "Deal or no Deal". Foolishly I thought by doing the cold calling it would put us firmly in control. So, in the meantime we soldier on with our Z rated windows......Please note no parrots were hurt during the creation of this BlackLOG, although a couple of salesmen had their feeling hurt when we failed to fall for their patter...

    Is it just me or do salesmen these days just seem to follow
    a script and spout out their sales patter parrot fashion.


    Mrs B taking lessons on how to deal with 'DG'
    Salesmen. At least I think it's for the salesman....
    Hang on a second that was me holding the camera...


    Don't forget to drop into the "BlackLOG - Historical".

    Sunday, 23 November 2008

    How to almost create the perfect gig experience

    In order to enjoy the perfect gig experience you need:

    1. A decent journey to the venue;
    2. A good parking space – only applicable if you are coming by car or happen to be the train/bus driver;
    3. A great venue;
    4. Reasonably priced food;
    5. Fantastic seats – very important if your gig companion is cute and can snuggle under your armpit but not good for them being able to see the stage when they are standing (please note that the offer of snuggling under my Armpit is only open to Mrs B);
    6. Make sure you bring the tickets with you.

    So how did I do?

    1. Check – Nafman took me directly to the venue. None of the usual trauma - it didn’t try and take me via Beirut, it didn’t dump me in the middle of nowhere and then decide to shut down for the evening. It didn’t even find the usual traffic jams it so normally excels in finding.

    2. Check - Found a space less than a minute’s walk from the venue – when does this ever happen…….?

    3. Check - Cadogan Hall just off Sloane Square. Intimate and atmospheric. None of your 120,000 "Can't see the stage from here" venues (Thanks Oasis - it might have done your bank balance the world of good, it might have been a world record crowd but in my opinion if you can only see the top of the stage it is a sh*t event....)

    4. Check - A beer, cranberry juice, 2 bags of nuts and a bowl of olives: £7

    5. Check - Front row gallery seats about 20 feet from the stage. The seats were comfortable and roomy too – whoo hoo.

    Almost the perfect view

    6. Check – Tickets safely in wallet (wallet with me).

    Now here come the bonus bits:

    1. Mrs B arrived 15 minutes before the start – with her current workload, this is a novel experience. She normally arrives 20 minutes into a gig and we spend the next 20 minutes texting each other in an attempt to fight our way through the crowd to get together.

    2. I hadn’t realised that there was a support act….

    In an ideal world this Blog would end happily, at this point, as we enjoyed a wonderful evening……. but sadly this is BlackLOG

    The fact that all the boxes ticked so neatly should have been a clue.

    The non-rowdy crowd were not the normal type for this kind of gig - Some people were in suits - this should have sent alarm bells ringing.

    It was only when the support act announced that he was going to play his entire new album did I start to worry. Just how long was he going to play for? I checked the ticket - it said “Roddy Frame (formerly of Aztec Camera fame)”

    Mrs B asked to look at the ticket.

    Mrs B started laughing and pointed at the date.

    I looked at the date.

    I looked at the date on my watch.

    I looked back at the date on the ticket.

    Nooooooooooo!!!!

    I started to laugh – I had no choice. It was either that or I would have started crying.

    We were 24 hours late. Numb nuts (that being me) had written down the wrong date on our events calendar at home. Unfortunately, whenever I checked when we were going I referred to the calendar not the ticket. The event we had inadvertently gate crashed was Tony Christie and since he was not showing any sign of playing “Road to Amarillo” we attempted to slink out. Typical of our turn in fortunes, we didn’t make a clean get away…

    Member of staff - Leaving a bit early aren’t you?

    Me – No - about 22 hours too late!!!!!!

    I felt like I had kicked myself in the gonads (probably accounts for the numbness element). If anyone saw the Paul Merton trip through India – where the little Indian chap got people to run up and kick him between the legs - I now know exactly how he felt, particularly as it was effectively self-inflicted. Personally, I think he was actually enjoying the experience. I can assure you, I was not.


    If you are going to crash a gig
    make sure it is something a bit more
    exciting than Tony Christie


    In summary

    I feel that my guide to the perfect gig experience is possibly lacking a little something….

    Point 7 – Check the bloody date…….

    You may ask why am I admitting to this act of stupidity? To be honest, it is a selfish attempt by me to exorcise the ghost of this event. No matter how much you laugh or pull my leg about it, you can’t hurt my feelings anymore than I have hurt them myself. This was the opportunity to see one of my favourite singers in an incredibly unique event. A part of me will regret this act of stupidity to my dying day.

    There are some questions that may require a government inquiry to get to the bottom of:-

    How did we managed to get through three separate ticket checks…..?

    When will they invent time travel so I can rectify this hideous mistake?

    If we are not getting time travel, what about BBC iPlayer for concerts? This would be useful even if you made it on the correct day. Want to go to the toilet? Need a drink? Just hit the pause button…..Come on boffins pull your fingers out………..

    If there is a glimmer of an excuse that I can cling to for this catastrophe, it is possibly I can blame fixture congestion. 4 gigs in ten days is a lot even by my standards. This was the second of the events, which had kicked off with The Wombats. I had to blackmail my friend Kirsty into joining me, after Mrs B objected to the congested schedule and decided she was only prepared to participate in two of them.

    Nafman was on his worse behaviour and spent every opportunity trying to drag me into the congestion zone.

    The support band were really good but never gave out their name, or if they did, I didn’t hear it. The lead singer had more hair than common decency should allow. I suspect he was actually sporting more hair than I have ever possessed in my entire life. They did a terrific cover of a song that I just could not place. How embarrassing when I found out later the group were Team-Waterpolo and I actually own their entire released back catalogue (may be I do have too much music) consisting of 4 songs. It turns out that they had, in fact, done a terrific job of covering their first single, personally I thought it was much better than the original……


    I'm not sure that even if I counted all the hair I have ever produced, I would be able to compete with the lead singer of Team-Waterpolo


    If you can judge the age of the crowd by the props they carry, then the day-glow sticks put the average age of the audience at about 12. Which would have been good for viewing except they had brought their parents along (for you statistic fans out there, I have excluded the parents from the age statistics as it interfered with the result I wanted. Well, if the government can do it for inflation purposes……... Food - it’s gone up: better exclude it. Fuel has gone up: better exclude it. Electronic goods have gone down: OK we can include them…… )

    The Wombats could have been good, should have been good and, in parts, they were. The problem was that they came on late, left early and spent ages in between songs wandering around doing very little. The result was a disjointed set that kept stalling and never got going. Having seen them at last year’s V festival, where they had a 30 minute set, I thought they were very good. Reading between the lines it would appear that with only one album’s worth of songs, the Wombats were desperately trying to eek out the set and just not very good at it. I hope Kirsty enjoyed the evening and has just about forgiven me for my underhand blackmail technique. It could have been much worse, after all I took her on the correct day to the right venue…….Two gigs to go on my 10 day congested tour, Razorlight and Scouting for girls Will they go well? Will I even make it? ….tune in next week to find out…..Don't forget to drop into the "BlackLOG - Historical" should be updated in time for Thursday morning.


    The Wombats bass player has an out of body experience or is it frustration at not being able to end a song properly



    It ain't over till the fat Wombat stops singing

    Friday, 14 November 2008

    Being Tagged, Mrs B gets aggressive while the Bluetooth war is resolved

    I've been tagged. My "tagger" is a Brazilian blogger called Argentum Vulgaris. I am duty bound to post 8 random facts/habits about myself and then perpetuate the crime by tagging 8 other bloggers.

    So here are my 8 facts/habits followed by a random selection of victims lucky winners.....

    1. An open biscuit packet is an empty biscuit packet - That could almost be my motto....(don't look at me like that Mrs B, you are hardly one to talk - I'll just say re-sealed tin and leave it at that.....)Mischief on biscuit guard duty. We tried using McG but he ate them all

    2. I have never had a legal drink, having given up drinking a week before my 18th Birthday - Believe me I am bad enough sober. Be thankful that I don't drink...

    3. I refuse to go to see a Ballet - it is the devil's dance.

    4. My favorite drink is Chocolate Milkshake - The best I have ever had was in the Little America hotel, Salt Lake City - for the record (and as close as I will ever get to being Bond) I like my milkshakes shaken not stirred (so not that close then).

    5. I have seen over 100 bands live. Yes I'm guilty. What can I say? I love live music. The first band I saw were "The Police", not a bad start for a 12 year old. Certainly better than "Boyzone" but that's another story and one that I have vowed never to reveal. It does explain a friend's reluctance to go and see live music....
    The Feeling started out as a cover band. They still do some excellent covers, just as long as they don't cover Cliff I will continue to enjoy them

    6. Mrs B and I have skied together, every year, for the last 23 years - Mrs B is technically much better than me so I have to bomb down the slopes as fast as I can to avoid unfavourable comparison...

    7. I hate cigarettes with a passion. If anyone lights up within 20 metres of me my heckles start to rise - I don't smoke, don't drink what do I do.....? Enjoy life actually - it is possible.

    8. I consider myself to be fairly musical and can play any type of music - well, just as long as I can get it onto my iPod....So that excludes Country & Western, Thrash Metal and Cliff Richard, most definitely Cliff Richard.....

    Now, who am I going to tag? That is the question...sorry guys in no particular order:

    skipperthequarterhorse

    Cynicalscribble

    The Gym Isn't working

    James & The Blue Cat

    Clever Girl goes Blog

    Please don't eat with your mouth open

    littlemisspissy

    No ordinary rollercoaster

    Dear Tagees,

    I hope you are going to be a good sport and make sure you come back and leave a comment when you have fulfilled your quota. (It's harder than you think.)

    The tag rules are as follows:

    1) Each player starts with eight random fact/habits about themselves.
    2) People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
    3)At the end of your blog post, you need to tag eight people and list their names.
    Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’ve been tagged and to read your blog.
    4) If you have already been tagged and do not wish to go through the exercise then let the taggee know.

    Ok I guess it's back to the "Dayblog".....

    Unexpected aggression
    During the last body combat class we attended at the gym, the teacher asked for real aggression. I was proud of myself as I managed to work myself up all the way to the heady heights of "slightly miffed".

    I tend to be fairly laid back and it takes quite a bit to get me angry. I have been involved in only one physical fight, preferring to use words (after all, the misspelt word is mightier than the Sord.....hands off Teach, I had to restrain Mrs B from changing it too). It involved someone who I did not know hitting me while I just stood there and asked him why...He gave up in the end, I guess I eventually wore him down. While he did not put me down, I probably lost on points, but still claim it as a moral victory.

    When I glanced at Mrs B in the gym's mirror, I almost cack'd my keks. The normally mild and placid one looked like she was not only ready for war but was not planning on taking any prisoners either. I made a mental note never to push Mrs B too far in the future. No wonder they don't allow women to fight, they look like they really mean it.....Just look at that pent up aggression.....

    Bluetooth war – the madness ends as peace accidentally breaks out
    I would love to think that my recent email to Nokia got through and made the difference. However, in the full glare of the cold light that is produced when the fridge door opens, I realise that this is most unlikely. All I do know is that when I synchronized my new N96 phone with ElleGee’s Bluetooth, expecting partial use only, it actually all worked perfectly. Big celebrations…. I just have to avoid updating the firmware for the N96 as it is bound to screw up the link.
    My N96 just itching to be upgraded so it can continue hostilities with ElleGee...

    Until next week then, as long as I don't upset Mrs B, that is. Don't forget to drop into the "BlackLOG - Historical" should be updated in time for Thursday morning.

    Monday, 10 November 2008

    Is there no respect for the elderly.....?

    I am sad to report that I have discovered double standards are running rife through the streets (well certainly the car parks) of Bishops Stortford. The young and attractive are being given special treatment at the expense of the elderly. All this at the very point where the older generation have surely earned the right to some respect, through years of hard work and service.

    We were using our old workhorse, our aging but reliable VW Golf, to go and see the film “Burn after readingI must admit that during the first 15 minutes I thought we had stumbled into “Burn before watching”. Fortunately it picked up after that and became a decent comedy – I did notice a couple of people arriving a quarter of an hour late though - perhaps they were seeing the film for the second time.....

    On our return to the car we had been given a beautifully hand-crafted parking ticket to go with our dull-but-valid parking permit. Fortunately, the parking attendants were still wandering around, issuing tickets to lamp posts and pensioners. I believe even the car park's own ticket machine was not immune from their relentless generation of little yellow and black plastic envelopes of pain. I thrust his generous but undeserved gift back into his sweaty little hand and asked why he had bestowed such a delightful present on us. He ambled back to our car and gave it the once-over.

    His eyes said “What do you expect if you park this old thing here?”

    Eventually he conceded that it was an error but attempted to cover himself by saying that as a season ticket holder we should be pleased that he was ticketing cars. This left me too speechless to point out that as a car park season ticket holder I didn’t really appreciate the opportunity to pay extra for our already over-priced parking privileges.

    Compare this with the treatment of ElleGee a couple of days earlier:

    I had parked ElleGee in the very same car park, and noticed a parking attendant hanging around like a bad smell.....

    PA :- “Have you got a valid permit Sir?”
    Me :- “Oh yes” I said smugly.
    PA :- “It wouldn't have mattered if you hadn't - it’s such a nice car I couldn’t have given it a ticket.” (aside 1)
    At the time, I am ashamed to say, I felt full of pride. How was I to know that they were attempting the evil trade of funding the parking of new cars at the expense of the older generation......? I wonder if Watchdog would be interested in this sordid case of 'Senior bullying'? After all they'll put any old rubbish on, won't they?

    Round up of recent events
    The real cost of a cheap wooden floor
    While watching the film “Burn after Reading” (or as mentioned earlier, Burn before watching the first 15 minutes) I noted that George Clooney was playing a kind of creepy lothario with a particularly unhealthy obsession for quality wooden floors. Sorry Clare, it looks like your Dad’s advice to go for the cheap version might have cost you a crack at the Clooney….....


    Well thanks a lot Clare. Your little inappropriate savings mean that it is very unlikely I will get to attend my first celebrity wedding. Worse than that Mrs B had already selected a dress, shoes and matching handbag for the ceremony. I had also prepared a speech in case your dear old Dad was too shocked to give you away...

    How to get in trouble for not including things in the B lackLOG
    I have, on the odd occasion, managed to upset one or two people with a mention in the BlackLOG so it came as a bit of a surprise when I was confronted by my friend Penny who was upset with me for 'failing' to mention the Ball we attended with her and hubby Paul a few weeks back. She said she had been waiting expectantly to read about it in the BlackLOG and was disappointed when nothing appeared. So just for you Penny I can confirm we attended a ball with you….It was very……er “Nice”. I'll try and get the weekend's "Stomp" details into a future blog, it's just I need to follow up on some leads first - i.e find out the details of the evening. I can't believe I managed to sleep through all that noise. Honest - I did enjoy the bit I saw......

    I feel at this point, in the interests of full disclosure, I should also mention my friend Sophie's sparkly toilet seat. For some reason Sophie was devastated, a few years back, that I had not mentioned it in a blog, especially after I gave her so much grief when I first found out about it.Sophie's silver glittery toilet seat. Despite my best efforts I have never been able to find a satisfactory Blog story for it to shine in. Now if it had been a glow in the dark version it probably would have got its own dedicated BOG blog site ......

    It sounds like I should start charging people to appear in the BlackLOG. I could use the funds generated to compensate the people who I have managed to upset, even the ones that still owe me a curry......

    Don't forget to drop into the "BlackLOG - Historical" should be updated in time for Thursday morning.

    ---------------------------------------------------------






























    (1)He was probably trying to trick me into parking without a ticket. I can imagine my defence in Court going down like the Titanic :-

    Me :-In a particularly whiney voice "But your honour, he said he would not give ElleGee a ticket because he looks so nice"
    Judge :-"If I had the power you would be sentenced to death for wasting the Court's time..."
    PA :- Says nothing but emits a low,deep and evil laugh. His eyes flash red as he slips from the Court.....
    (Return to text)

    Sunday, 2 November 2008

    BlackLOG dating agency at your service

    Since I could not find any Halloween photos I thought I would prepare you for Bonfire night....

    I ran into a colleague at work - let's use a random name to protect her identity.............

    Ooh that's unlucky. The random name that came out was "Claire" Sorry Clare that was unfortunate. Imagine the random name being the same as your own? Hopefully by adding the 'i' people won't recognise you......

    We were discussing the global reach of the BlackLOG and particularly the break through into America last Monday night with 46 hits.

    Claire asked me if could turn the BlackLOG into a dating agency as she could do with some nice rich American to look after her.

    I explained that I didn't know any Americans who I disliked enough.... (Tongue in cheek guys, Clare is a "luverly girl", despite her main hobbies being: tormenting me by moving me around the building just when I get used to an area; and going on holiday - a lot).
    Instead of the playful punch, sending me reeling across the corridor, that I expected and probably deserved :-

    Claire "Don't, I took my dad shopping to help me buy a wooden floor for my bedroom."

    Clare's dad(since I don't know him I don't have to protect his identity) "You should get the cheap version, after all it won't get much traffic...."

    Ouch! Now you don't expect that from your dear old Dad.....

    This moved me so much that I decided, for one week only, (unless vast sums of money come my way) to make this week's BlackLOG a special dating service for Claire. (Don't worry Clare I won't give out your real name until I have vetted each candidate.)

    Claire's profile
    I have to be honest - Claire does not normally look this good. It took a couple of days of hard work in Photoshop to produce these remarkable results....

    Age - of an age

    Height - that and a bit, less or more, depending on where you are standing

    Hobbies - moving me around the building, dancing drunkenly at work events and frequently going on holiday.

    Hair - mostly her own

    Eyes - two

    Children - yes

    Wants Children - No

    If you are still undecided then perhaps this will sway you - Claire has a new wooden floor in her bedroom, which is very nice but I suspect not as good quality as it could have been....

    Halloween watch
    Are they now shipping the kids into Bishops Stortford? I had to fight to get ElleGee passed a number of coaches, mini vans and buses which appeared to contain every child under 8 for miles around. I even had to drive around the block as a huge bunch of mini zombie-like creatures descended on our very house. After the third pass I spotted a gap and managed to get Ellegee safely into the garage and slipped inside unseen. Mrs B arrived shortly after. I was hoping that she had brought supplies of sweets with her to help fend off the hoards. Sadly not. She had assumed that I would .... and worse still, some of them must have seen Mrs B's arrival, because the property was soon surrounded by howling and enraged future ASBO candidates gorged on sugar and ready to scream the house down if they did not get more, their wardens barely able to restrain them. We retreated to the back of the house, turned the TV volume up and prepared ourselves to sit it out until they were taken kicking, snarling and screaming away to their beds...... It always amazes me that the day after Halloween there are never any bodies strewn in the streets. The odd "pavement pizza" and damp patches, where the little tykes could no longer contain the excitement, but never any bodies. If you have ever seen a half decent Zombie movie come daylight there are always lots of dismembered bodies and limbs littering the streets. Also, let's not forget the debris left after Guy Fawkes night - bits of rocket, little black soot encrusted metal sticks and the odd burnt down house. I guess the local council must send a clean up team onto the streets in the early hours of the morning to clear it all up before everyone gets up. This also might explain why the council never has any money left to do anything worthwhile like fill the holes in the roads or fight Stansted airport expansion....

    Oh the shame
    We went to see the Hoosiers in Brixton last week and it would have been a fantastic evening if some snivelling little git had not ruined it for me. As we went into the concert the SLG was handing out flyer's and thrust one in my face.........

    Me in my younger and carefree days "Why would I want this?" I muttered as I tried to get past him.

    SLG - "Get with it Grandad!" came his reply. "It's for the Hoosiers. You know? The band you are going to see tonight."

    Ouch! Now I could have lived with "Slightly past my prime Uncle" but "Grandad"? I was too shocked to reply and shuffled slowly into the venue, a broken man.... The lack of support for this incredible blow to my male ego, from both Mrs B and my so called friend Sophie, almost finished me off. Fortunately my aging brain saved me and I soon forgot the whole sordid incident. Mrs B, however, wants to make sure that my mind does not fail me entirely and likes to regularly remind me of the event. How nice and caring of her....

    If anyone wants to contact me, you had better do it soon. I expect that I will be moving to one of the less desirable parts of our building - once Claire gets back from yet another holiday, that is...... Don't forget to tune in on Thursday morning for more "BlackLOG - Historical". And no - they were not written in the middle ages, bloody cheek! "You youngsters don't know you're born....", "In my day....etc, etc.........."

    Sunday, 26 October 2008

    What dream may come

    I’m not a great one for dreaming or at least I don't remember them if I do. I can only recall a few in my life. One while I was at school, which was a recurring one, and I guess says a lot about my feelings towards school. I would wake up in a cold sweat when In my dream I realised that I had arrived at school wearing my pyjamas. Eeeekkk! My school was never the place you wanted to stand out in. Just a haircut was enough to leave you ostracised for weeks on end so you can imagine what arriving in pyjamas would have done for my less than stellar school existence. The only other dream that I can remember was even worse and occurred just after my Dad died. I dreamed that he was in the garage and was convinced that if I could only get him into the house everything would be fine. I have a horrible feeling this was partly down to my Grandmother. She had a tendency to lock herself in the very same garage when she did not get her own way (I was often of the opinion that we should have bricked up the door and left her to it). I'm not sure what this says about anything other than as a confused 17 year old I really wanted my Dad back. So much for the power of dreams and maybe it was my failure to save my Dad (leaving him no doubt to the mercy of my grandmother)that put a stop to my dreams altogether.

    I can’t say from my previous experience that I have ever missed dreams, which does not mean that I don’t enjoy hearing about other peoples. So imagine my delight when I found out my friend’s recent dream. She confided at a recent dinner party that she dreamt she was having an affair with David Cameron. There was a ripple of interest in this, particularly from another friend of ours, hence forth known as "Jilted boyfriend". It gets worse - a little while later she admitted that the affair had led to her having David’s love child. Another body blow to Jilted Boyfriend but he took it on the chin and said he was prepared to stand by her and the baby. It was only at the end of the evening that my friend admitted that David and his wife took the baby off her and adopted it as their own, stating that my friend was an unfit mother. I’ve been trying to interpret what, if anything, my friends dream meant, but to be honest it’s beaten me. However, having seen my friend’s attempts to plough down children on a recent bike ride (aside 1) I can’t help but think the Cameron’s made the right decision. As for Jilted Boyfriend I hope these words will give him some comfort “It could have been worse, imagine if she had been having a fling with Gordon Brown or even John Prescott…….” If anyone else out there would like me to fail to interpret their dreams for them, feel free to send them to me.

    Quote from my big sister
    “Reading the BlackLOG makes it like we almost know you, Mrs B and the cats” – so much for the 43 years of being related to her. I think she is just trying to get a mention in the Blog as she has been missing for a while. Way to go Sis - you made it….

    Breaking news
    I’m at last ready to launch the BlackLOG historical – The blogs that I wrote before I started publishing on the web. The plan is to publish the BlackLOGHistorical on a Wednesday evening and continue to publish the current BlackLOG on Sunday evenings.

    Don't forget to tune in to BlackLOG Historical on Thursday morning, otherwise Mischief is coming around to demand why not!!!.


    ----------------The end of another BlackLOG----------------------------






























    (1) This can be put down to bad eyesight and my friend asked for a number of similar child abuse instances to be taken into account. Including hitting a small child with a toy bone during a puppy training session that she attended. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she was attempting (girly fashion) to throw the bone to one of her dogs rather then actually aiming at the small, soon to be wailing, child. (Return to text)

    I'm trying to work out if they are
    dreaming or they have been left
    unconscious from badly thrown bones.

    Thursday, 16 October 2008

    Half a dinary for my bleading life story!

    Let me introduce Mrs B's new found friend, despite only three emails between them she already feels like she has known him all his life.... For the record Mrs B was just doing her job and was as helpful as she is to everyone. (Except to me when I'm in the bad books and any occasion that Sian Lloyd appears on TV. I think Mrs B might be allergic to Sian, the frothing of the mouth and chuntering being a bit of a giveaway).

    Apart from changing the name of the addressee and he didn't actually address it to "Mrs B", this is the actual email received. Some of the spelling makes even me look almost literate. Teach - this should make your week, go ahead, get the red pen out and knock your socks off....

    Dear Mrs B
    This was such an unfortunate happening, I thought all my problems were over!!!!!!

    Oh - well, say-la vee (whatever that means)!!!! I'm afraid I'm not a French person, although I AM Canadian 'cos I was born there, my Mum went and marrid one of those Canadian guys that she met during WWII when she was in the R.A.F. and he was in the Canadian one. They went to Edinborough for a weekend in Sept. '44 (and I think that's when I got started, 'cos I jumped out on June the 27th '45.) In March she started "showing" and got slung out of the R.A.F. "You can't have your soldiers giving Birth now, can you? Supposin' she killed somebody !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(She actually "talked the bomber pilots home" in the middle of the night). Then the Canadian Diplomatic Office stepped in & said "We don't want our kids born in a war zone", and "floated" her across the Atlantic to his Parents house in Toronto. My "male parent" was floating down the St. Lawrence at the time, and walked in on July the fourth. He'd known she was pregnant in England, but now I was a "complete mystery", and he denied anything to do with me, to the extent that he'd bash the hell out of me every chance he got. By March '47 she begged my Grandpa for inuf loot to get back to England, and we were just about to get on the ship in New York harbour when it caught fire & sank!!!!!!! So I grew up in Hanger Lane (on the Central line, one stop west of North Acton), and at the age of 16 1/2 I joined the R.A.F. myself and "did" almost 14 Years service!!!! Any more of this will bore y'all to tears, so I'll simply say Thank-you again, and wish you the best.

    In the meantime, I'll remain, Yours Sincerely, Strange Canadian gentleman


    Those of you who have ever suffered some of my more lengthy email replies should count yourself lucky, I have always stopped short of actually pouring out my life story. I don't know about you but I would like to know, after the ship caught fire in New York harbour how did he get to Hanger Lane? I tried to convince Mrs B to follow up but she point blank refused to contact her new found friend. Wow, I just had a thought, now you guys know our friend as well as Mrs B (I can't do it, the emails would get way too long and probably bring the network to a halt). Any volunteers, with a couple of days to spare, who are willing to email him and request some further details.......?

    What Dreams may come
    Don't worry Joe, Kirsty's dream revelation is currently on the back burner, simmering away waiting for an opportunity to emerge in an inappropriate moment, during a future BlackLOG. Kirsty - being a fair sort of chap - I am open to bribes and (don't worry Joe)counter - bribes. Feel free to open the bidding....

    Monday, 13 October 2008

    When the magic of TV crashes into the reality that is real life


    I was watching “Tash of the D’Urbervilles ” the other day (was it just me or did anyone else notice the moustache that Tess sported for most of the program? This had the unfortunate effect of making her look far more butch than her wimpy husband Angel. I hope and prey that she is not the first Bond girl in history to have a Tash. That just wouldn’t do at all). I was not totally engaged with “Tash”. Mrs B was ready to ditch it after the first episode - like most of Hardy’s output, it was very downbeat and depressing. Fortunately, we stuck with it, I guess mainly through my mild fascination with what other inappropriate facial hair might make an unwelcome appearance. I’m glad I did, as just at the end of the second episode I spotted some very familiar sights to me – parts of Newark Park in Gloucestershire. Newark is a 16th Century Hunting Lodge built from the stones of a local Abbey, after Henry VIII got a bit antsy with the religious fraternity (better known in the history books as the “Dissolution of the Monasteries”). This is a National Trust property that my family and I have had the good fortune to be associated with for over 30 years. My mother and father were friends with Bob Parsons, a soft-spoken Texan, who became a sitting tenant of Newark in the mid 1970’s and he and Michael Claydon, who joined him in later years, managed to save this wonderful building from falling into ruin. For my sister and myself it became like a second home during school summer holidays and despite the rumours that Newark was haunted by Friars from the Abbey, we never actually saw any ghosts. There was a rather trouser-staining moment for me one night, however, whilst I was watching a Dracula movie. What should pop in through the open window but a rather large and, I am convinced, particularly tooth-laden bat. I can’t actually confirm the part about the teeth as I was too busy hiding under a cushion and, I suspect, out-screaming even the most vocal of heroines in a hammer horror movie. The mixture of sound and obnoxious smells was enough to drive the wee beastie away.
    As there were no bats available, at such short notice, the
    agency sent a couple of substitutes instead. I'm not sure
    they quite convey the same sense of menace as the bat, but
    if one of these had flown in through the window I would
    probably still have had to replace my underwear.

    As we grew up our association with Newark continued. My sister held her wedding reception there. I had the honour of giving my sister away (after I failed to find a buyer) and, with her permission, I proposed to Mrs B during my Brother of the Bride speech at the bottom of the stairs. (There can’t be many people who see the spot where they proposed during a BBC Drama.) Mrs B often reminds me that she never actually accepted my proposal because she was so emotional -after all, I had kept her waiting for over ten years. I then counter that if I had aimed my proposal a couple of degrees to the left I would now be married to a 90-year-old lady in a wheelchair. I have a horrible feeling that whilst Mrs B may not have replied in the affirmative, the old woman actually did say yes. I chose to turn a deaf ear. Is it wrong to ignore old people like that? After all, I had known the former Miss C for a considerable length of time but I hadn’t even been formally introduced to the befuddled old dear. For all I know she may have been a gatecrasher.
    While Mrs B happily posed for this photo at Newark, The
    befuddled old dear was having none of it. I fear she may
    never forgive me for rejecting her.

    Mrs B and I had dinner with the Duchess of Westminster at Newark. I suspect the Duchess never mentioned to anyone that she had dinner with us, how rude… In short, we know Newark very well. I would even go as far as to say that it is one of my favourite places on earth. This is how I now know that what they call “TV magic” ,with clever use of locations, really plays with your head if you happen to have a little knowledge about the location used:-

    The murder of Alec by “Tash” took place in the very bedroom that Mrs B and I use when we stay at Newark. This is a trifle troublesome to us - I do hope that Michael manages to remove the bloodstains before our next visit. When the blood dripped through the floor of the bedroom it appeared on the ceiling of the drawing room, which in reality is on the other side of the house. My mind kept screaming “That’s not right!” (There may even have been some chuntering.)
    That's the door to our room on the
    right. If it wasn't haunted before.....

    When Tash walked out of the front door, she walked onto a busy Victorian street, instead of the real gravel drive and open countryside. “No, No, No, No!” That just felt so wrong - more chuntering (even leading to some monobation). Fortunately, Mrs B did not join in and thus manages to keep this week’s BlackLOG just about respectable.

    Oh the memories! It certainly made Tash of the D’Urbervilles far more interesting than it would otherwise have been for the Black household. I’d even go as far to say it made it watchable…
    Some of Newark Parks neighbours, looking forward
    to having them for dinner, next time we visit.....

    Follow up from last week
    Much excitement when I was informed that you can Googlewhack * last week’s post.

    Just type “Monobation” into Google –

    *Well almost. Monobation doesn't quite adhere to the proper rules of Googlewhacking ** but it's close enough so I'm going to take it (Thanks to Martin for finding that out for me - I think he was checking that I had not stolen Monobation in a Shakespearean-style raid on literature.)

    ** in that the google search only uses one word instead of two and that word does not appear in a dictionary ***. After all, if Monobation already existed in a recognised dictionary I could hardly make the claim that I had been its creator and guardian, could I? Give it time, I’m sure it will make it into one.

    Rustling of paper as I look it up in the Oxford English dictionary

    ....... “Not there”....

    More rustling of paper

    ......”Damn - Still not there”....

    “Obviously these things might take a bit longer then I had hoped….”


    *** Since I have now added it to my Word dictionary,technically it does.

    I'll leave you with some other shots of Newark Park. If you are in the area you should drop in, it truly is a unique place. Who knows, in the unlikely event that Mrs B and I become famous and you ever happen to be at a dinner party where the conversation is dying on its feet, you could always put it out of its misery by telling people that you have been to the spot where Mrs B almost said yes.... With an anecdote as uninteresting as that you are sure to be requested to leave. No need to thank me, just write to any publishers requesting them to commission me to write the best selling novel "101 ways to get out of dull commitments". Please note that this publication will not include tips on how to get family and friends out of their commitment for reading the BlackLOG.





    Sunday, 5 October 2008

    Creating a new word

    I got excited the other day when I thought I had managed to create a new word. After all, how hard can it be - Shakespeare created hundreds of new words (or possibly stole them, depending on your view of history). This is no mean achievement particularly, when you consider that this was a man whose only six authenticated signatures are all spelt differently (according to Bill Bryson in his book Made in America, which I can highly recommend). Unfortunately, a very rudimentary investigation not only uncovered the word to be already in use but my interpretation of the word was not that far off the dictionary definition (which is unusual for me). The word in question is chunter. I use it to describe when I talk at the TV (normally aimed at a politician, referee, so-called expert who has been dug out from under a stone and has no idea of what goes on in the real world etc..etc….) or when I’m looking for my keys which have decided that what would really make my day complete would be to play hide and seek with them. Quite frankly they are rubbish at it and in all the years that we have been playing, it has always been me that does the actual finding..... I’m conveniently excluding the times when Mrs B finds them for me, as I feel that this is irrelevant for the purposes of this Blog, so moving swifly along...

    Chuntering is OK in the privacy of your home and just about OK in a car. (People will probably think you are posh and have a hands-free phone system, unless you are in a BMW in which case they probably guess that you are chuntering as any Bluetooth system installed in a BMW is a bit like an appendix - you might have one but it serves no real purpose). However, you should never chunter in public. People, think you are mad and there is a good chance you may find yourself sectioned. This, of course, does not apply to the extremely rich or people of ancient aristocratic stock. They are considered merely eccentric and can get away with almost anything, up to, and occasionally, including murder.

    The problem with chuntering is that left unchecked it can often lead to bouts of monobation. I’m fairly confident that monobation is a genuine BlackLOG creation and I use it to describe a situation where a conversation with an inanimate object has gone beyond chuntering and has worked its way up to a very heated discussion with said inanimate object. This can include items such as TVs, in-car navigation systems, even something over which you have just tripped. It can, at a stretch, even be used to cover attempted conversation with deaf elderly relatives or politicians who continually fail to answer the questions they have been asked.

    When you have a number of people monobating in close proximity the practice is described as massdebation. Please note that the BlackLOG cannot condone the practice of massdebation , especially if it is done in public or even in your own car. It is even worse if the car happens to be a BMW (BMW drivers already have a bad enough reputation, without leaving themselves open to any misinterpretation that this massdebation might cause).

    McG gets a new career
    Good news for the household funds, McG appears to have a new career.

    We are still waiting for his first rental cheque though. I just wonder what career Mischief will take up.

    Sunday, 28 September 2008

    BlackLOG - An adventure in 7 parts

    Bit of an experiment this week. As I have such a disparate content, I thought I would try a slow release program, building this week’s Blog up on a day by day basis until it reached a crescendo. This gives much shorter chunks for you to get your teeth into. Rest assured I will try to keep the quality as low as ever.

    (7 of 7) One for “Strictly” devotees & bluffers guide for “Strictly” widowers
    Mrs B is well into her stride with the new series and has not missed a second of the broadcasts so far. There was a bit of a panic the other night when the series link recording failed to function, for one of the midweek shows. Fortunately, BBCi Player came to the rescue and I managed to stop Mrs B’s withdrawal symptoms from working up beyond a quivering bottom lip with a well-timed download.

    My now proven inability as a dancer allows me the freedom to criticise each dancer with the freedom of the truly incapable. So without further ado my strictly thoughts so far:-

    John Sergeant is a dead ringer for Joe Brand (I can’t believe it, just as I was typing this very line, Brucie cracked a joke about it. How spooky is that?). If you doubt me then you can contact Anna from my work who I was discussing it with during the week. Oh the shame, I’m already sliding into the whole depraved world, how low can I go….?


    I can't say that I have ever seen
    John Sargeant & Jo Brand in
    the same room together


    Karen Hardy looks like she is simply desperate to be voted off, with or without her dance partner Gary Rhodes. Just as long as she never has to dance with him again. While discussing “Strictly” with Anna the thorny subject of Gary’s wife cropped up. She was on the Midweek show. Anna described her as “definitely an imbroglio!!” A little harsh, perhaps, I just thought that she had the look of Gary’s overworked chief food taster.

    Jodie Kidd – tall and looks like a great laugh but I get a bit confused when I see her cheeks. I can’t decide if she is related to either a chipmunk or hamster or possibly both. (Love to see Brucie try to steal that line…)

    Jodie and those cute little cheeks,
    looks like she could do with a
    shave though!!

    I had some nice comments but felt they would get in the way of my new “Strictly Bitchy Persona” so I have suppressed them. What can I say? Mrs B has unleashed a monster. So don’t mess with me the BlackLOG has been busy sharpening its claws….Meow…. and is ready to scratch your eyes out.


    (6 of 7) The wonderful world of British TV
    I watched a bit of "The Family" Documentary/soap this week. The kids have to be one of the best adverts for contraception I have ever seen, while the parents are a shining example of why euthanasia should not be dismissed out of hand. They actually manage to make the "Simpsons" look like a well-adjusted family.

    "Tiger – Spy in the jungle" - you can’t argue with up-close and personal film of tigers in their own environment but sadly the editing spoilt it for me. Why the constant need to try and make the programme more exciting*? Well known voice-over, a slightly husky yet strangely trustworthy voice :-

    “The tiger cubs have now been left on their own for 2 days. If their mother does not show up soon they are in real danger of being attacked and overcome by that vicious looking baby Sloth…”**

    “A new tiger has been seen in the area and we have real fears he might be a recruiter for the infamous tiger sex slave trade…..”


    Oh David, David what has become of your integrity? I’m not sure what the “talk over” equivalent is but Mr Attenborough’s is in danger of becoming like a once great actor sliding into decline from Blockbuster movies and Hollywood “A” list parties, bypassing the walk on parts in soaps and moving directly into the sad and seamy world of “Help I was once a celebrity please put me out of my misery”.

    * I will not have comparisons with the BlackLOG, where editing is used for purely artistic purposes and besides, with the failure of the hidden house cams, I don’t have enough footage of Mrs B, McG and Mischief to carry it off on its own merit….

    ** Footage of a particularly wild and vicious Sloth – if you have a sensitive nature please proceed with caution.Sloth film Large cushions or possibly sofa maybe required to hide behind....

    (5 of 7) ElleGee in the wars
    Poor ElleGee, less than a month old and she* has already been in the wars. It is entirely Mrs B’s fault for not breaking the speed limit. If she had, then ElleGee would not have been in that exact place when a stone reared up and took a huge chip out of the windscreen. The poor thing looks like someone who is about to go out on a hot date and has just discovered the “Mother of all Zits” emerging on their previously flawless face and worse - it’s at the stage where it is starting to shine like a Belitia beacon….
    Has anyone got any Clearasil?


    * I see Mrs B managed to sneak in an extra S just before I published. You may have gathered that there is a bit of a disagreement in the household over the sex of ElleGee. If you are going to judge it on the spelling of the name then I will point out that being someone who has spent a lot of their life correcting the spelling of my own name "Niel" I don't hold with that argument. As it is we are now left with a very gender confused car.

    (4 of 7) Salt & Vinegar peanuts
    I put out some peanuts the other night but didn’t tell Mrs B that they were the salt & vinegar variety. Her face was a picture as the unexpected flavour hit her full on. She was rather like a cat chewing a wasp. Despite Mrs B’s protests that you should not mess with a good thing, I note that when I went back to the treats cupboard a couple of days later the packet was gone.

    (3 of 7) A Balanced life
    In an attempt to keep some balance to my life, not only am I carrying on the Yoga, (surprisingly, no gold stars yet - I’m still the kid at the back of the class who is constantly picked on to demonstrate how not to do it.*) but I have also taken up the water challenge, drinking at least 2 litres of water a day. This leaves me spending 50% of the time going to the toilet and the other 50% of the time wanting to go to the toilet. While I can’t deny there is undeniably a balance to this, I’m not convinced that it is the balance that I am really after…..

    * I suspect this will always be the case, however long I continue my yoga career.

    (2 of 7) Genius
    I recently tried out the new ITunes- Genius option. You select a song and "Genius" then creates a complementary list of other songs from your own collection. (Natural born salesmen that Itunes are they also provide a list of essential tracks that appear to be missing from your collection.) Sounds great but it does take out all the fun of compiling the list yourself (which I guess is no bad thing since I am out of the habit of creating lists through a lethal combination of lack of time and inclination). There are two flaws with “Genius”. First it appears to have an unhealthy ABBA fixation. I have around 30 ABBA songs in a collection of over 60,000, yet no matter what song I choose – it could be "The Jam – Going Underground", "Oasis – Wonderwall" or "Panic at the Disco - Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" - at least 5 ABBA songs appear on the list. (Whilst listening to one ABBA song is fun, two is pushing it, once you get to three and beyond you might as well start dressing like the Village People and listening to Kylie and Judy Garland records). The second and infinitely more serious drawback is that because of Apple wars (I thought they had signed a peace treaty) “Genius” does not recognise any Beatles songs. To me that's a bit like going out for an Indian meal and finding there is no curry on the menu.....


    (1 of 7) So that is F1 dead to me
    Oh no, it’s Mr B on his Soap box. Run away and hide or skip to the next section that, if you are reading this live, will be tomorrow…

    As promised a couple of weeks ago, when the ludicrous penalty was imposed on Hamilton at the Belgium Grand Prix, I vowed to wash my hands of the sport unless the FIA over-ruled the embarrassing decision by the Belgium race stewards. Sadly, the FIA have proved once again to be so Ferrari-biased that they would rather see the red cars triumph than allow for proper racing.

    I do realise that F1 will not even notice my departure, let alone care but it now has become an issue of principal. I suspect I will be one of the few who are true to their word and the enraged fans from a few weeks back will let the FIA get away with it once again as they are mesmerised by a shiny new circuit and, gosh, night driving. Do they not realise that it is just the The Emperor's New Clothes and they are being suckered into continuing to support the same old corrupt empire? It makes me sad that I will no longer get to watch this once great sport but life is too short and watching F1 has become more and more like playing a game against someone who constantly changes the rules of a game in order to win.

    Sunday, 21 September 2008

    Bluetooth wars

    We are currently caught smack in the middle of a battle between BMW and Nokia over Bluetooth compatibility. Now I don’t know what your understanding of Bluetooth is but mine was that it was to be the messiah of all connectivity. Unfortunately, big business got hold of it and managed to crucify it, before it became actually useful. As revealed a couple of weeks ago, BMW made a good case for their defence, when I happened to mention to them that I was thinking of taking on Nokia, I got some excellent words of encouragement from them:-

    “I think this suggestion is wonderful. Do you have some powerful medicine to apply to Nokia? We have tried doing war dances round the car park, to little avail. Also, we can say that the Nokia N series is absolutely fine, as long as you do not wish to make outgoing calls!”

    “Have you made Nokia aware of your stance? After all, look at the lengths Lloyds TSB went to in order to stop those dreadful Halifax advertisements!”


    Unfortunately, I don’t currently have the funds to buy Nokia out and teach them a proper lesson but I did indeed make them aware and received the following reply :-

    “I regret to hear about the issue which you are currently experiencing between your Nokia N95 and BMW Bluetooth. I understand your frustration due to this matter; nevertheless, I appreciate your understanding that I would only be able to ensure the functionality of our Nokia phones and car kit if the car kit is a product of Nokia. However, I would not be able to confirm compatibility with third party hardware. As the BMW car kit is not manufactured by Nokia, I suggest that you speak to your BMW dealership to find out if Nokia phones are fully compatible with your car kit.”

    They made the mistake of sending me a follow-up customer satisfaction survey, so at least I got to underline my frustration. I suspect I won't be on their Christmas card list this year: Oh, well, back to square one. I decided to explore a different route and checked the BMW position on the upgraded Iphone 3G, the original version is of course fully supported :-

    “Your observation regarding the lack of display of the Apple 3G on our matrix is correct. We are still eagerly awaiting the (hopefully) unanimous decision by our colleagues in Munich that the Apple iPhone 3G will offer good compatibility. A further factor of relevance is that the Apple is the only handset producer to work together with BMW so this is a positive in a world full of Bluetooth negatives”.

    So it looks like I shall be hanging on to my old N95,for a while yet. This is a bit of a pain as it has lost the ability to charge its own battery. This is not good news for Mrs B as I keep having to "pimp" her phone. It’s very strange - although the battery is a completely different size and won’t actually run Mrs B’s phone, it quite happily charges when placed in her handset?

    Breaking news
    Please note the car naming lines have now closed, the votes have been cast and the results verified. Any entries made from now on will not count but you may be charged. (Oh god, I’m sorry, Strictly,is back and as Mrs B is going to be glued to the goggle box for the next few months I have to start getting into character, in order to survive the onslaught). The new car name is………..

    Big drum roll….
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Dancing girls…..
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Big trumpet Fanfare….
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Zzzzzzzzzz, Oh sorry I must have drifted off in all the excitement....
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Dancing bears ……
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Hang on in there it is coming, even if I am over-egging it a bit…..
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    The name is.......“ElleGee”

    (“Woo hoo……” said Mrs B, clearly with little real enthusiasm)

    The name is taken from LG, the first two letters of the number plate which has been taken to one side, mugged and given a good working over with a special BlackLOG style spelling. It also stands for “Lazy Git”. Since ElleGee is only a 1.8L (look, I was really pushing the upper reaches of my Company Car Scheme for my grade, the air was getting pretty thin up there I can tell you. There was certainly no room for more power, which is probably just as well for my driving licence’s sake), you really need to push ElleGee to get performance - whip and spurs optional - but when you do it is rewarding. Probably more importantly than the former part of this paragraph, using the first two letters of the number plate makes it hard even for me to forget the name. Now all I have to do is try and make it stick, despite Mrs Bs evident "enthusiasm"……

    Sunday, 14 September 2008

    BlackLOG - The naming of cars

    A new car brings with it many decisions, not least of which is do you give it a name? Our recent record in this field has not been great. Our red Mini was almost called Little Red Rooster, after the Rolling Stones song, which morphed into Rooster Booster, after the racehorse. Sadly, shortly after selecting the name, the racehorse dropped dead, the name rather died with it and the Mini went back to being known as just the Mini. (If I thought this would work again I would call the car 'FIA Committee').

    I remember that during my childhood we had some cracking names for cars. The first car that I really remember was a wonderful black VW Beetle, called Bessie. Bessie Beetle, as a name it worked and really suited the car. Sadly, for some unexplained reason my father had Bessie sprayed bright orange. Bessie became a shadow of her former self, never really recovered from the appalling paint job and had to go.
    Poor Bessie never got over her orange paint job and went into a sad decline

    The replacement was a beautiful bronze coloured Cortina Mk III, which we named Boadicea, after the Iceni warrior queen and pronounced, properly in my opinion as:

    Bow – der – see – er

    Not this new fangled abomination of spelling and pronunciation, Boudica

    Boo – Dic – car

    The next car was a white Austin Maxi. Again my father made a mystifying choice here which probably eclipses even the choice of the orange paint job. (aside 1) Right up until the last minute we were getting an Audi. Even as a young boy I realised just how bad a choice my Dad had made. My Dad was a devout West Ham fan and the monstrosity of a motor was named Bubbles after the Hammers’ theme tune. It turned out to be more like Bubbles from Ab Fab. We lost the appetite for car-naming after this.

    My sister took up the naming mantel and had a couple of successful car names. The first being a beautiful dark blue BMW 3 series convertible called Ralph. Not sure why but it just suited the car down the ground. Then came “Sooty” a little (i.e original style) black Mini. Sooty was a real character and managed to get my sister into a number of scrapes. Like the time Sooty was rear-ended by a car driven by a gentleman of, let’s say “foreign” persuasion. As the police arrived my sister exclaimed “Look what they’ve done to Sooty” it took her a while to talk herself out of that statement I can tell you….. The next run in with the police, fortunately a different officer, was for speeding. As the policeman took down my sister’s details he made the mistake of asking “Is this a company car madam?” “I don’t bl**dy think so” shot back my incensed sister “I’d be doing pretty badly if it was.” If memory serves me, the policeman let my sister and Sooty off with a warning, while my sister let him off with his life….

    The only successful naming of a car that I have managed belonged to Mrs B’s Mum. It was a bright green Austin Allegro,which Mrs B had the dubious “privilege” of driving. As soon as I saw it, I christened it “The lime green, snot machine”. The name instantly became the best thing about the car. While I was given a lot of grief at the time, the name has stuck and the car is fondly remembered as such (not something, which would have ever happened without the name). I fear that is the high point of my car-naming career and I suspect I will never match it.

    In summary, car naming should be a natural process. If a name arrives out of the stratosphere and fits, so be it, but there is no point in trying to force it. A forced name for a car just won’t stick and it should be remembered that many cars go through their entire lives without a name and seem to survive the experience. With this last bit of worldly wisdom still ringing around in my ears, I have narrowed the choices for our BMW’s name down to either:

    BM - which can stand for either the Black mobile or Bat mobile (aside 2) or;

    DK – in keeping with the Batman theme standing for Dark Knight. I suspect DK sounds better without its Batman association.

    Don’t worry, I have ruled out “Sexy Black Beast” as a name. For one, most people already have a bad enough opinion of BMW drivers (I have experienced this first hand and can tell you it is a lot harder to get a full blown BMW into traffic than a Mini). The main reason is that I just could not face the police if I was involved in a similar accident as my sister and Sooty. Trying to explain the statement “Look they’ve rear ended the Sexy Black Beast” to the nice police officer might prove a bit of a challenge, even for me ….

    I’d love to know what car names some of you have had over the years, so go on let those dark secrets out, you know you want to. Besides it can prove very therapeutic and might save some of you an expensive trip to a shrink in later life…….

    "DK", "The Black Mobile" or any none rude alternative that one of you comes up with. Your votes could decide the destiny of the cars name. Please be rest assured any emails you send will raise absolutely nothing for any money grabbing charities, especially and I want to make this very clear, any worthwhile ones like the make Mr and Mrs B richer or the Mr & Mrs B deserve an expensive holiday fund



    ----Dr BlackLOG and Nurse B have left the building. Feel free to vote for our new car name or send us your own car names for diagnostics and possible ridicule, if they prove to be particularly “interesting” by emailing me at Niel.Black@ntlworld.com or using the comment button at the bottom of the page.----------


    Breaking news
    Please note the car naming lines have now closed, the votes have been cast and the results verified. Any entries made from now on will not count but you may be charged. (Oh god, I’m sorry, Strictly,is back and as Mrs B is going to be glued to the goggle box for the next few months I have to start getting into character, in order to survive the onslaught). The new car name is………..

    Big drum roll….
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Dancing girls…..
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Big trumpet Fanfare….
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Zzzzzzzzzz, Oh sorry I must have drifted off in all the excitement....
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Dancing bears ……
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Hang on in there it is coming, even if I am over-egging it a bit…..
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    The name is.......“ElleGee”

    (“Woo hoo……” said Mrs B, clearly with little real enthusiasm)

    The name is taken from LG, the first two letters of the number plate which has been taken to one side, mugged and given a good working over with a special BlackLOG style spelling. It also stands for “Lazy Git”. Since ElleGee is only a 1.8L (look, I was really pushing the upper reaches of my Company Car Scheme for my grade, the air was getting pretty thin up there I can tell you. There was certainly no room for more power, which is probably just as well for my driving licence’s sake), you really need to push ElleGee to get performance - whip and spurs optional - but when you do it is rewarding. Probably more importantly than the former part of this paragraph, using the first two letters of the number plate makes it hard even for me to forget the name. Now all I have to do is try and make it stick, despite Mrs Bs evident "enthusiasm"……






























    (1) OK, my Dad was one of the few people in the country to go for a Betamax video recorder. It may have been technically better then VHS but since you could only hire about 5 movies that would play on it, it was a complete waste of time. There was also the incident where he returned home with a doorbell that played 32 of the naffest tunes known to man but that was such an horrific experience that the full story has been sealed behind the provisions of the BlackLOG Family Official Secrets Act for at least the next 150 years.
    Like some Russian military equipment left over from the Cold War. The Sony C7 may have been built to with stand a nuclear strike but was certainly no 'From Russia with Love', sadly this is another example of one of the many films not available in the "extensive" 5 film Betamax library.(Return to text)






























    (2) Yes, yes, how far behind the times are we, having only just got around to seeing the, not so new, Batman movie. The delay was because it has taken me this long to get reasonable seats at the IMAX theatre. It was worth the wait, however, as this was an incredible, almost mind-blowing experience. A giant bat dressed as a man and the size of a building swooping towards you - you really don’t want to get too close to that screen. I rightly judged that being any closer than the back row would have seen Mrs B hurling like an extra on E.R.
    (Return to text)