Friday, 1 May 2009

Friday 01/05/09

Hay and I went out to dinner in Bath last night with an old school friend from nearly 40 years ago. Doug bunked next to me in the school dorm between the ages of 13 and 16 and has a prodigious musical talent. His wife, Lizzie, used to be a clothes designer and they now run a greetings card business in Chichester, using Lizzie’s artwork for the cards. If ever you need any cards, call in at Affiche Publications.

An evening of intelligent conversation (with a little reminiscing) ensued and we didn't get home till 1am.

Doug & Lizzie Huxtable

Found a site called FutureMe, where you can arrange to send yourself an e-mail to arrive at any pre-determined date and time in the future. I’m not sure what use it could be, but it’s none-the-less and interesting concept. Perhaps GoogleMail, Hotmail and Yahoo will introduce a delay facility on their webmail services. The Royal Mail was there first though, having introduced its own delayed delivery service decades ago – it’s called First Class Postage. The only problem with Royal Mail’s version is that you don’t actually have any control over when it will be delivered.

Barbie, the iconic doll from the 60s, has had a make-over for her 50th birthday. According to reports, she now comes with stick-on tattoos. Matel, the makers, said that the tattoos will give children the chance to be creative and express themselves. I’m sorry, but a handful of stick-on tattoos provide considerably less expressive creativity than even Mr Potato Head. What they need to appeal to the Jade Goody generation is Obese Barbie, complete with a pram containing an ill nourished infant with its face smeared in toffee and an unemployed, shaven-headed Ken as an escort. There was actually a TV show parody once - a Gangsta Bitch Barbie and a Tupac Ken.

In 1992, a new version of Barbie was produced that said things like: "Will we ever have enough clothes?", "I love shopping!", and "Wanna have a pizza party?" Her vocabulary was obviously modeled on that of the then pre-pubescent Paris Hilton.

Did you know that the likelihood of having Barbie’s vital statistics is 1 in 100,000 (and zero if you’re Susan Boyle).

It’s rumoured that Glastonbury could be under threat – not from its usual nemesis, rain, but swine flu. Imagine if we all have to hunker down and stay at home, putting barbed wire around the gate and sitting on the porch with shotguns to keep snifflers away. I dare say I could work from home for a month and we could cull the seven sheep we now have in the field, risking scrapie in the process. Given the number of cats and dogs we live in close company with, I’m surprised that cat flu and dogs’ breath haven’t jumped the species barrier – oh, hang on, the latter is already rife in the human population.

Here’s some news on the pandemic from a pal of mine in Florida:

“There has been 1 death in the USA from Mexican Swine Flu - a Mexican kid who slipped over the border. There are 100 suspected cases, mostly driven by media hype and hypochondria. These cases are in 20 states (at lunch time) whereas at 0800 this morning they were all in Texas, thus proving that Americans travel far too much. 36000 deaths were attributed to normal flu-related illness in the USA in the last 12 months. Now that’s an epidemic.”

I hear flu recoverees have hired Max Clifford to sell their stories to the media. Sorry? “Headline news – I recovered from flu!” It’s kind of on par with, “Dog bites man,” but not as sensational.

Here’s a story from someone in the UK who thinks he has the Mexican flu:


My partner and I returned to Birmingham from Cancun yesterday morning at 08:20am. There were no members of the health department there to meet us, over 400 people passed through without help or advice being offered.

We returned home to our seven-months-old daughter and in-laws. Last night we developed many of the symptoms listed.

I contacted the NHS Direct and after several hours we were asked to go to the hospital ourselves. We had to wait in A&E before being seen by doctors dressed in masks, aprons and gloves.

We have high temperatures over 38 degrees, aches, coughing and sneezing, diarrhoea and nausea. The hospital prescribed us both with Tamiflu and told us to drive to a chemist in Coventry, we waited for 15 minutes surrounded by other people before we had the Tamiflu.

The chemist informed us that they only had one dose available and that we would need to return the following day. This morning we were contacted by the HPA, we informed them of the situation and they told us that under no circumstances should we leave the house.

We are waiting the results now, we are very concerned about our daughter and family around us as it looks like we have now infected them.

Richard Cook, Nuneaton, UK


What idiot, having just returned from Mexico, goes straight home and makes contact with other family members? What government, following all the hype about the UK being the best prepared government in the world, allows passengers on a flight from Mexico to toddle off home with no advice? Also the 'am' on the end of 08:00 is totally unnecessary - there's no such thing as 08:00pm.

We could shortly be a step closer to the internet becoming conscious. A new web tool, Wolfram Alpha, is set to hit the market shortly. Rather than presenting a web surfer with a selection of material to research, Wolfram Alpha will actually do the research and compute the answer. Users will interact with it simply by asking a question using speech and it then goes off and trawls its memory - the internet. Scary.


  1. I can't help thinking that a swine flu plague may help cleanse the gene pool of those stupid enough to go into work when ill, pick their noses, not wash their hands and cram into stadiums with thousands of others to watch football!

  2. ...and those who want to sell their sensational stories to the press.

  3. Great post, Bill and love those illustrations.

    Gosh, haven't been to Bath for so long! It really is a lovely place.

    You're going to get all this paranoia and hypocondria now with this wine flu business. I am no exception! Not getting any sympathy tho'! xxxx

  4. i absolutely LOVE the Pooh cartoon :)) well done xx

  5. Jenny: I live not 30 minutes from the place, yet rarely visit. Did the same when I lived in London - never went to see the sights.

    Braja: Pooh is a philosopher of note. I refer, of course, to The Tao Of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff (and its companion - The Te Of Piglet).