Nosy Parker

July 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Currently, there is more than one car per UK household. Around 50% of us, therefore, own a car, and most of us use it to drive to work. In Tenterden, where I work, parking is at a real premium: there are just four town car parks & the average cost is £1 an hour. Whilst the national average salary for a full-time worker was £26,200 last year, 46% of UK residents earn less than £20000 annually.

As I fall into that latter category, I choose to avoid paying ridiculous amounts for parking in a council car park, and find a space instead in a residential area (I shan’t name it here, it’s pointless for most of you, but those who frequent Tenterden will know exactly where I’m talking about). Let me make two points absolutely clear. Firstly, I am forced to do this: my earnings simply do not allow for parking expenditure, but I have to drive here because I live 42 miles away and Tenterden’s transport connections are appalling. Secondly, as the law states, your owning a property in a road does not give you automatic parking rights either outside your own property or elsewhere in that road. Where I live, you are required to have a parking permit if you wish to park for more than 2 hours. But I’ll say it again: in the same way in which I would have no more right to park there than a non-resident, were there no parking restrictions, my owning a permit gives me no more right to park there than a non-permit holder.

So, as you can imagine, it made me rather angry today when, after I declined his suggestion to park elsewhere, a resident of this Tenterden estate spat on me for parking there. Not only is that abuse, it is also suggesting that he has more right to park there than I do. This is rubbish. Don’t like it? Move elsewhere or put up with it. He made his choice when he moved there, knowing it is a popular place to park in Tenterden. Unlike me, and presumably most of the other people who park there: because financially, we have no other option.

We are no longer a nation of polyglots

February 8, 2012 at 1:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Elizabeth I spoke six languages fluently. Elizabeth II speaks only one fluently: French. When did learning languages stop being a priority in this country?

I did three languages at A-Level: French, German and Latin. I use Latin in crosswords, French rarely and German on a daily basis (mainly to tweet, admittedly, but at least I’m using it). It’s a wonderful thing to be sat on the train and to understand what the bitchy group of teenagers is saying about you. Also, it’s rather handy on Twitter when you can understand French and German speaking spammers.

It’s rare for me to speak German at work, although I did spend three very tedious months at P & O booking ferries for German speakers (I once knew all sorts of exciting camper van – related vocabulary, but those words are now buried somewhere on the right side of my brain). I do agree, however, that Britain’s poor linguistic efforts must have contributed to our failing economy. More importantly, there is something deeply wrong with not only a government, but also a culture, which fails to value foreign language learning.

Dame Jackie and me

February 8, 2012 at 1:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I’ve only just started using the WordPress app on my IPhone, and thus only just worked out how to upload photos from my camera roll…still a technophobe, you see.

Anyway, it was brilliant meeting Jacqueline Wilson, and the event was very successful. I’m very much looking forward to doing more events at the De La Warr Pavilion.

What next? Orange Wednesday?

January 27, 2012 at 8:34 am | Posted in Children, Names, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I was reading my local paper yesterday (I always turn to the Family Announcement pages first to see if anyone I know has died/had a baby), and I noticed that a little girl had been christened Orange Blossom.  I respect the right of parents to name their children what they like, but come on – Orange Blossom? Wouldn’t Raspberry Leaf Tea have been more appropriate in the circumstances?  Sometimes I wish we had a law like das Vornamensrecht where German parents may not name their children anything ‘absurd or degrading’.

To-do list: 1) To write a to-do list…

January 25, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Does anyone actually write to-do lists anymore?  I mean, actually write them?  Perhaps you may still write a shopping list, casually disposing of it as you leave the supermarket, but I imagine the majority of you, like me, now tap your tasks into a Blackberry/IPhone/something else with a touchscreen.

Today’s Times 2 article, whether you store your to-do list electronically or on a piece of paper, offers some sage advice in order to make yourself more productive (unless you are interested in being as unproductive as possible; in which case, why are you reading this post?).  For example, David Allen suggests using the Two Minute Rule: if something will only take two minutes, do it now rather than add it to your to-do list.

Some celebs even share their own rather ambitious to-do lists: my favourite is Caitlin Moran’s number 2) ‘Thank a woman who gave me a free radiator FIVE YEARS AGO’.  You can never be too ambitious, clearly.

The Birdsong backlash begins…

January 24, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Posted in books, History, love, relationships, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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It was inevitable, really.  Most critics have praised the BBC’s Birdsong production, so one grumpy old man journalist had to fight popular opinion, didn’t he?  It’s like Harry Potter and the Twilight Saga: many people will hate them simply because so many people love them.

So what, exactly, was David Aaronovitch’s problem with the production? Well, for starters, there were too many posh people, apparently.  Let’s not forget that ‘Other classes took leading roles in the First World War’.  Except no one’s forgetting, David: what about the character of Firebrace? Not exactly a toff, is he?

His second issue is with the fact that there are lots of ‘lingering glances’ and ‘slowly melting eyes’ before the love affair between Stephen and Isabelle begins.  What’s the matter, David? Do you need the actors to enunciate what they’re feeling every five minutes?  Can’t you decipher what is being implied? Poor David.  You’ve obviously not seen Lost In Translation.

He also questions whether Wraysford ‘would […] really be thinking of his Grand Meaulnes time with the heroine before final curtain down’. Do any of us really know what we’re going to be thinking just before we bite the bullet? I’d like to think I’ll be thinking of the people I’ve loved, and – stop reading now if you’re a prude – I may even recall a time I slept with one of them.  Sex is a massive part of life, David: deal with it.

I also disagree with his argument that casting directors are only scouting for pretty boys now.  Redmayne is a really talented actor who can convey more meaning in a glance than many can in a soliloquy.

Finally, ‘if I were a woman enjoying passive oral congress’ with Eddie Redmayne, I’d be grinning like a lush in a winebar. Face facts, Mr Aaronovitch: you’re wrong about this Birdsong.

Erm, what do you do when…

January 23, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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…you’ve woken up wearing someone else’s watch and jumper, but you don’t have their number and can’t quite define where they live because they live in a campervan?

I can’t drive around indefinitely looking for them.

And it is a lovely watch…


Holocaust Tourism

January 21, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Posted in History, Holocaust, The History Boys, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Poland is trying to make Wolf’s Lair, one of Hitler’s Eastern European dwellings, a tourist destination. Concentration camps and other more artistic memorials to the Holocaust are one thing, but one of Hitler’s houses is quite another.  Can you imagine trying to explain to your colleagues the origins of your boutique hotel?

In The History Boys, there is a scene in which holocaust tourism is debated.  Hector, the boys’ eccentric General Studies teacher, wonders what happens when students visit the camps: do they eat their lunches there? Do they take photos? And if so, are they smiling in the photos?

I’ve been thinking about all this after I read Richard Morrison’s column in Times 2 yesterday.  He mentions a noisy ice cream van inappropriately parked outside Mauthausen labour camp, and it reminded me of my visit to Dachau when I was sixteen. I found it completely bizarre and almost eerie that a man should choose to jog round the perimeter of a former concentration camp.

I can’t tell you what is appropriate behaviour at Auschwitz. But I can tell you what isn’t.



The Devil Wears Prada….and Fendi…and Burberry

January 19, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fantastic article in today’s Guardian G2 about cinematic fashion. My favourite example is Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. I totally rocked knee high pale pink socks and mini skirts in Berlin circa 2005 and the locals loved it.*. But next time Jess, please include Cillian Murphy in Breakfast on Pluto.

*That might have been a lie. They were particularly disillusioned with my Knöpfe (buttons) covered coat.

Sweetness, I was only joking….

January 18, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Career, internet, Uncategorized, work | Leave a comment
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….or semi-joking, at least, about the Googling. Google away, if you are so inclined, particularly if you are someone who can help my career (which is pretty much one of the only three things I care about).  It fascinates me, the internet, this endlessly-populated and limitless population we’ve created.  Can you imagine if it ceased to exist?  It would be utterly bizarre.

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