Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fly tipping, the desecration of our countryside

Fly tipping - it's really becoming quite a problem around here unfortunately.

I'm not sure the term 'fly tipping' is an appropriate description, I think it's too tame for what equates to the desecration of the countryside.

That's why I've decided it's actually an acronym for 'Flipping Lazy Yobs Totally Ignorantly Putting Property In Nearest Gateway' - but I'm sure you can come up with your own variations.

There's no excuse, we've got household waste recycling centres open for most of the week.

I've read on social media about some rubbish dumped on the Mill Road between Gretton and Lyddington, where Northamptonshire borders Rutland.

It appears that despite this having been reported to both Corby Borough Council and Rutland County Council, six weeks on this has yet to be collected and disposed of properly.

Not only that, but somebody actually found out to whom this rubbish belonged - yes, the perpetrators were that stupid they left their contact details in there, along with that of their customers as it was a business - and telephoned them to come and remove it.  To date, this hasn't occurred either.

I'm not going to reveal who it is, but there's a lot of people locally who do know.  Let's just say they're harming their business by not taking this seriously - there really is such a thing as bad publicity.

According to a recent report I saw on Look East, it transpires that if a fly-tipper empties their rubbish onto land belonging to a private individual it's up to that person to pay to have it removed.

That's not good enough.  In fact, it's disgusting - why should the person on whose land the rubbish is dumped be made to pay?  Something needs to be done about it now.

We need to make sure those responsible are prosecuted and fined heavily, or better still, made to do many hours of community-type service cleaning up the countryside that they've littered.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

For the love of cars...

I was musing the other day that The Dukes of Hazzard TV series really has a lot to answer for.

For a start, it set an impossibly high standard in the wearing of short-shorts (thanks Daisy, played by Catherine Bach, no relation), but it also triggered my obsession with cars.

I was mad about the General Lee, which was a 1969 Dodge Charger, and the fact that Bo and Luke used to jump in through the (open) windows.

My brother and I even tried to replicate this with my Dad's Vauxhall Viva, but it just wasn't the same.

I also wanted a Jeep like Daisy's - it was so cool.  I eventually owned one, but an open top Jeep with our great British weather just isn't a great combo, sadly.

Come to think of it, TV series have long influenced my car desires.

Magnum's Ferrari, Knight Rider's Trans Am, Bergerac's Triumph, Morse's Jag, the Saab 900 Turbo from The Paradise Club (anyone else remember that?), the Audi Quattro from Ashes to Ashes, the list is probably endless, although I've never owned any of these vehicles.

I will confess to still watching Top Gear, although the terrible trio of Clarkson, May and Hammond do annoy me sometimes, particularly when they smash up cars seemingly for the fun of it.

But I do enjoy watching the star in the reasonably priced car, and would love to have a driving lesson from The Stig, but fear my lap time would be more akin to Terry Wogan's than Rowan Atkinson's!

I thought it was great that Chris Evans on Radio 2 was promoting a 'take your classic car to work day' on Friday 4th April.

There was an array of photos on his Twitter feed which listeners had sent in of the cars they were using.

My favourite was a Ford Capri.  I still regret not purchasing one I spied in Autotrader a few years ago, which was a beautiful John Player Special edition for a reasonably low price. 

I did think to myself that I hope whoever bought that Capri is looking after it and perhaps drove it to work that day.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Quiz shows - my starter for ten...

Talk about a televisual blast from the TV past - Channel 4 has brought back Fifteen to One.

I loved that show, the original incarnation had the firm but fair William G. Stewart in charge.

He would bark 'question or nominate' at the contestants, and appeared slightly annoyed with them when they got a question wrong - he must have provided the inspiration for Jeremy Paxman's persona on University Challenge.

I always think that it's all very well for the host to appear smug - they've got the answers in front of them.

Now Sandi Toksvig is the host of the revamped version, and she's a little kinder to the contestants, although, tablet computer in hand, she tends to give additional information after each answer in a teacher-like fashion.

I 'm a fan of quiz shows - my favourite is probably Only Connect on BBC4.  Victoria Coren-Mitchell hosts it, and it's really difficult.

In fact, some would argue that it makes University Challenge look like Family Fortunes (no offence intended, I'm actually quite fond of the quiz reliant on the phrase 'our survey said uh-uh').

Only Connect requires a lot of lateral thinking, and I feel I've done quite well if I get even a few questions right.

I also like Mastermind, particularly the celeb version where the general knowledge round (dare I say it) appears to be easier than the normal version.

Either that, or I'm getting smarter - which, given the fact I'm now struggling to help my ten-year old daughter with her homework (as reported the other week) - seems extremely unlikely.

I'm not sure what I'd pick as my specialist subject though if I went on - perhaps Neighbours the early years, the hits of a-ha or something similar.  I wonder what John Humphrys would make of that?

Thursday, 10 April 2014

'Conscious uncoupling'...

My favourite phrase of the year so far?

'Conscious uncoupling', how Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin described the end of their ten year marriage.

Is it just me, or does that sound like they were unhitching their caravan on arrival at a campsite?

"Gwyneth, I'm just going to consciously uncouple the 'van now, then we can have a cuppa."

I know what they're saying - that they've thought long and hard about their separation - but still, it seems a little unemotional and 'psychologist speak'.

It also begs the question is it the opposite of 'unconscious coupling', of which I think Ross and Rachel on Friends were probably guilty after their drunken nuptials in Las Vegas?

The end of any marriage is sad though, particularly for the children and the couples' families.

It's also really difficult for friends of the splitting couple.

Friends tend to get divided up too, much like the furniture and the wedding presents (I'm now picturing a couple holding this conversation: 'I'm having the toaster, you can keep Dave and Sam').

Even though you try and stay friends with both parties, it usually ends up that you see more of one than another.

Organizing social events can become a nightmare too, particularly if the split wasn't amicable.

You would like to invite them both, but they may have new partners, so you need to ask them as well.

Then if one of the original couple is partnerless, it just becomes horrendously awkward.  Truthfully, it ends up easier not to invite either, which is a shame but helps with your stress levels if nothing else.

Getting back to the Paltrow/Martin uncoupling, I'm guessing Gwynnie will keep Cameron Diaz and the other Hollywood celeb pals.

Perhaps this means that Chris will get to keep the toaster...

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Bad news and text messages

There's never a good way to receive bad news.

But I have to say, I think a text is probably the worst.

It's so cold and clinical.  No room for human sentiment - unless you count a 'sad face' emoticon (which I don't - I'm personally not keen on emoticons, but that's a whole other story).

The recent case of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet highlighted the use of texts for delivering bad news.

I appreciate that they were probably in a no-win situation with this.

They needed to tell a lot of people, very quickly, that it had to be assumed 'beyond reasonable doubt' that the plane was lost with no survivors.

Individual phone calls to each family would have taken quite a lot of time, and in this social media age it would have been all over Twitter in a nanosecond once the first few calls were made.

But to send a text message just seems wrong.

It's people's lives we're talking about here - mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandchildren, grandparents.

The families were probably expecting the worst, but still hoping for the best.

A text message is just too impersonal to deliver such devastating news.

My thoughts are with those families affected, it's truly tragic.

However, can I also say that I think this case has raised some interesting points.

Who would have thought that a plane could go missing in this modern age where we thought everything was trackable, traceable, no place to hide?

Why did it happen?  Could it happen again?  How can we make sure it doesn't?

Finally, how can we ensure that families are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve in the event of such a disaster occurring again?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day - not a fan personally.

I hate having to watch the news trying to work out which is the joke story.

I'll be honest, I thought the 'seven-a-day' for fruit and veg was one initially.

When I came downstairs, husband announced what he'd heard we had to increase fruit and veg intake, and told me that a portion of fruit and veg was 400 grams.

I did point out to him that a punnet of grapes was 500 grams, so if you ate four or five of those a day you'd be always on the loo.

Luckily it appears he'd got confused - in fairness, he had watched the news at 6.30am - and the five-a-day total equated to 400 grams (note to self cancel order of shares in Charmin).

That's part of the problem though really isn't it?

We've been told five-a-day for so long, but what exactly is a portion?

I believe it's a handful of grapes or cherry tomatoes, one apple, one banana etc, but I'm really not sure.

Apparently potatoes don't count - they're a carbohydrate - but sweet potatoes do.

See, it's really confusing isn't it?

Then there's all the conflicting advice we get too - is red wine still good for us?  I think tea is.  Dark chocolate is supposed to be better for us than milk chocolate etc. 

Sugar is now supposedly really bad - 'the Devil's dandruff' is how I've heard it described - but I'm not keen on those chemicals they put in drinks instead of sugar either.

Perhaps the scientists could come up with a definitive list of what we can and can't eat and drink please.

Until then, I'll drink my tea how I've always drunk it - builder strength, white, one sugar.  I like living dangerously...