Monday, 31 March 2008

"Shame, Shame, Shame" - Shirley and Company, 1975

I've never been a massive fan of "the press". But I also believe, deep in my soul, that freedom of the press is an essential part of a civilized society.

This morning, on BBC Radio 5's Breakfast program, two of their major stories had to be covered remotely; in both cases, BBC reporters were not allowed on the scene.

The first instance wasn't that surprising. It was coverage of Zimbabwe's presidential election. BBC reporters are banned from Zimbabwe. So the BBC must tell Zimbabwe's story from South Africa.

But the second "banning" was quite a surprise.

The BBC's reporter covering the chaos surrounding the brand new Terminal 5 at London's Heathrow Airport told listeners that she was reporting this morning from one of the nearby airport BBC reporters were not allowed in the terminal.

I assume that's a temporary situation. But I still find it disturbing...


Sunday, 30 March 2008

"I'll Follow the Sun" - Beatles, 1964

SORRY for the lack of posts. I've been down with a nasty "flu" virus of some kind....for the last 10+ days! I don't know when I've slept so much and felt so lousy. I was ill through the entire Easter weekend last weekend and missed out on everything we'd planned for the 4 days off. But at least I'm feeling better as of this morning, and I'll try again to go back into the office tomorrow. (I tried last Thursday but only made it to around 2:30pm.)

I'll just write a small post tonight. Hopefully, I'll get back into my usual writing rhythm during the week.

I was going through office email this afternoon and found a note about the change of time in the UK starting 2am today. (Yes, we in the UK have now joined my US readers in Daylight Savings Time.)

The last line of the informational note made me chuckle; it says, to the UK employees:

"Enjoy the added levels of phototropism."


Tuesday, 18 March 2008

"A Little Bit of Sunshine" - Reamonn, 2003

As many of you who read Lord Celery know, I travel quite a lot for my job. I run training courses all over the place. But the place I teach the most often is in London's Canary Wharf, and when I do I stay across the Thames in Greenwich. The hotel where I stay in Greenwich has almost become a home-away-from-home for me, I stay there so often.

I should say that I stay here so often. I'm staying here in Greenwich as I write this. My third day of teaching in Canary Wharf is tomorrow, and I'm headed back home to Oxfordshire tomorrow evening. I can't wait!

The staff at this hotel are so nice to me, and it always surprises me how many of them seem to recognize that I've become a "regular". But my very favorite member of staff here is Vitalis, one of the waiters in the hotel's restaurant. Vitalis brings me my room service dinners. ( I hate eating in public all by myself -- it's one of my worst phobias.)

Vitalis is my little bit of sunshine when I'm away from home. He's a funny, smiley, philosophical, interesting man. He aways has something nice to say that cheers me up when I'm tired and homesick. And we always chat about our lives when he brings my food.

Once last year, John came over with me when I was teaching at Canary Wharf and played tourist here in Greenwich for a couple of days while I taught. So Vitalis has met him. He refers to John as "The Boss", by the way, and then throws his head back in laughter at the thought that anybody could even try to boss me around!!!

When I last stayed here, it was mid-January, only a few weeks after John had his neck surgery. And I wasn't very comfortable leaving John to come here to teach. I remember telling Vitalis the story, when he asked how I was that trip. He told me to tell John that he'd pray for his recovery. And given the man Vitalis is, I'm fairly sure he has very special connections when he prays.

Believe it or not, when Vitalis brought my dinner up to my room last night, the very first question he asked me was how "The Boss's" neck was doing! I was floored. But then again I guess I wasn't. This is the kind of man who remembers those sorts of things.

So tonight, when he brought my dinner, I asked him if I could take his photo. And here he is -- my bit of sunshine when I'm working in London. Lord Celery readers, meet Vitalis!


Sunday, 16 March 2008

"Beginnings" - Chicago, 1969


Thursday, 13 March 2008

"Thinkin' " - Steve Forbert, 1978

I left home for the Oxford-area park and ride about 6:45 this morning. I'm so tired of the traffic congestion through the village/town of Kidlington I have to deal with if I leave any later. As a result, though, the A-road between our village and Kidlington was very quiet. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive, and I had some time to ponder the world for once.

For some reason, a quotation came to mind. It's been attributed to the now-deceased African musician and social activist Babatunde Olatunji, whose picture is on this entry. It's good advice...and I probably need it as much, if not more, than most people.

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present."


Wednesday, 12 March 2008

"Werewolves of London" - Warren Zevon, 1978

As usual, we were listening to BBC Radio 2 this morning at the office. Unusually, though, I left it on after 12:00, when Ken Bruce's excellent show morphs into Jeremy Vine's sometimes-annoying mix of current events and music. But today is budget day here in the UK, and I thought it might be interesting to see what the government would announce in London...through Chancellor Alistair Darling.

Vine cut to live coverage of Parliament for awhile and then realized that the Chancellor's presentation hadn't started yet. So he returned to playing music.

He played Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London".

I couldn't help but laugh at the fabulous juxtaposition!


Monday, 10 March 2008

"That Was Then" - Wishful Thinking, 1990

Between the awful weather in the UK today (although perhaps not quite as severe as some forecasters had anticipated) and the fact that I'm still limping around a little, I decided to stay home and work from here today. In the midst of proofreading the material for a 2-day course, I couldn't help but think about today's anniversary. My mother died suddenly on the 10th of March 2001. In some respects it doesn't seem like 7 years. But given all of the change in my life since then, in other ways it seems like a lifetime ago.

There are other things to talk about today, too, besides the weather and today's anniversary. On Saturday night, we had a great evening with our friends Cindy and Andre at their home in a nearby village. They had invited another couple along, and we enjoyed the hospitality so much. It was John's first "social evening" since his that's another sign of the returning normalcy in his life.

Oh....and Cindy's food was, as some in the States say, "to die for"! She's just a fabulous cook!

And over this past weekend, the four semi-finalists for England's Football Association's tournament, called the FA Cup, were determined. For the first time in something like 100 years, there is only one Premier League club left out of the four -- and that's Portsmouth. The other three candidates for the FA Cup Final are Barnsley, Cardiff City (yes, I know they are Welsh), and West Brom...all from lower leagues! It's very cool, I think. The FA Cup rounds here are like the equivalent of all of the teams in North American baseball playing each other in pairs, drawn in a sort of lottery, no matter whether they are the biggest major league team or the smallest minor league team. Giant-killings sometimes, but not always, happen as a result. This year, the giants were slaughtered!

In Birmingham, this year's Crufts dog show was won by a beautiful Giant Schnauzer called "Philip". You can read about the show here; it's especially nice to see photos of the best of each breed. There were some gorgeous dogs in this year's show. Some time, John and I would like to go.

Last but not least, John's feeling enough better that we are daring to think about making a trip over to the States -- Texas and New Mexico -- before the summer. We can't wait to see family and friends...and take in loads of our favorite American foods!

So that's what's happening in our household right now.


Sunday, 9 March 2008

"Try to Remember" - Ed Ames, 1965

I found something very interesting on the BBC's website this afternoon.

Psychologists at the University of Leeds, here in England, are running a research study involving people's memories of their lives in relation to the Beatles and their music. You can read the news article here, and you can register for the study at the Magical Mystery Tour website.

I'm registering for sure. This sounds really interesting...and right up my alley! Please let me know if any of you participate as well.


Friday, 7 March 2008

"Cast Your Fate to the Wind" - Sounds Orchestral, 1965

Driving home from work this evening, I was listening to BBC Radio 5 Live. They were talking about the possible severe weather event that's been predicted for early next week.

They referred to it as "Explosive Cyclogenesis". That's not a term I'd ever heard before, so I've looked it up. This article is probably the best I found on the web to describe what it means. Apparently, this weather phenomenon is also called a "bomb".

If the famous 1987 storm in the UK is an example of Explosive Cyclogenesis, then I have to wonder what we're in for next week....!

Have a good weekend everybody!


Tuesday, 4 March 2008

"Baby It's Cold Outside" - Margaret Whiting & Johnny Mercer, 1949

I seem to have twisted my foot during last week's Stavanger trip, so I've been working from home the past few days. Yesterday, we had an interesting weather "event" here in our village.

The weather forecasters told us that there could be some snow early in the week. But during the afternoon Monday, we got pelted with something that was larger than sleet but smaller and softer than hail. It was very cool, even though it lasted only about 20 minutes.

Here are a few photos taken from the house...and you can click on any of the photos for a full-sized image.

Here's a shot, taken from our bedroom window, while the white stuff came down.

I opened the window to try to figure out what the frozen stuff was. Here's some of it on the windowsill. It almost looked like rock salt.

And as soon as the precip stopped, the kids came out onto the playground of the elementary school next door. They started scrambling for what sleet/hail was left in the schoolyard, squealing with pleasure (as kids do)! Sadly, it melted quickly, as the temperature wasn't below freezing.