Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Puttin' on The Ritz

I love a wide range of music.  Eclectic is probably the word which best sums up my tastes, ranging as they do from Doris Day to Abba, through 80s electronica, via indie, rock and pop, with a touch of opera thrown in for good measure.

So it probably won't come as a big surprise that I also like Big Band music and Swing too.  But, there's a caveat - it has to be done well.  I don't like poor imitations of Sinatra and Dean Martin.

Fortunately, The Rutland Big Band do it well, and I've been lucky enough to see them twice now.

The first time was a Bond night, with Bond-themes galore and even a vintage Aston Martin DB5 parked outside the venue.  Somehow though I managed to have a photo taken with my friends next to a tank which was also present, I'm guessing to represent Goldeneye and the tank chase through St Petersburg.  I'd like to think the Aston is more my style though!

The latest production was 'Puttin' on The Ritz', a 1920s-style Gatsby homage, complete with complementary outfits and decor.

It was a fundraising event for my daughter's school and it was a sell-out, with a waiting list for tickets.

Now, I love any excuse to don my glad rags and dance the night away, except I've reached the age where I have to reach for the painkillers the next morning not to cure a hangover, but to ease my aching limbs!

But despite the risks I couldn't resist dancing to a range of tunes including Puttin' on the Ritz, Big Spender and Mack the Knife to name but a few, and the obligatory New York New York group high kicks ended what had been a fabulously glitzy evening, enjoyed by all who attended.

Special mention to Mark and Sam, the 'crooners' for the evening who were absolutely amazing - I'm sure Frank and Dean would be proud that their legacy lives on.  I almost wish I had a significant birthday coming up so I could hire them to sing for me!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Listening TVs

While you are watching Big Brother, Big Brother is listening to you.

That's what we discovered last week when it came to light that Samsung Smart TVs listen to private conversations and can then share whatever's said with Samsung or even third parties.

Admittedly, only if the voice activation feature is being used, but I imagine it's very worrying for owners of said TVs, reminiscent of an Orwellian nightmare described in 1984 where 'telescreens' spied on citizens in their homes.

Now, I'm not an owner of said device - as readers are probably aware I'm practically a Luddite in that I still buy real books and actual CDs rather than downloading them onto an electronic gadget.

Anyway with our broadband speed being snail's pace - fibre-optic superfast is due to arrive in September 2015 I've been told, but this deadline has shifted several times already so I'm not holding my breath - watching the TV via the internet would be a test of patience too far.  I would probably be like Elvis and hurl something at the TV when the buffer symbol repeatedly appeared - and I can't afford to keep replacing my set.

As a family we do own a tablet computer which I have been known to use - I've even tried asking it things as daughter told me it could answer questions.

When I discovered that she wasn't actually joking, I asked Google Maps to find Weybourne Beach.

It could be my Northamptonshire accent it struggled with, but this command came up as 'why were you born' and a rather unpleasant word which sounds like beach.  Charming!

But if I did own a listening TV I'm reassured that it would be thoroughly bored by my daily conversations which seem to include 'have you done your homework' and 'don't leave that schoolbag in the middle of the floor' on a regular basis - that is, of course, if it could work out what I was saying in the first place.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


'The cold never bothered me anyway' is not a line I will be saying - or indeed singing - any time soon.

I really don't like this time of year.  I would honestly hibernate if I could, cold weather and I are not a good mix.

My daughter disowned me on our walk to school the other morning when the paths were icy.  I'd adapted my walk accordingly for the conditions, but apparently walking like a penguin is embarrassing - tell that to Pingu and his pals!

What happened to the mild winter predicted by the Met Office?  As I sit here shivering, I'm thinking that I could probably do a better job of predicting the weather with a few pine cones, some seaweed and my rheumatic foot.

I saw a Minion cartoon on social media which answered the question 'Do you want to build a snowman?' with the line 'No, I don't - I want to build a sandcastle on a beach in the sunshine!' which sums up my feelings perfectly.

I appreciate though that other parts of the country have had it much worse than we have.

So far we've avoided having a 'snow day', when the schools close, but I know the children are all looking forward to this - the parents probably not so much. 

I remember this happening when I was younger, but mainly because the boiler would break down and we would be sent home; it was an old stone building and without heating was positively Arctic.

I also remember our bottles of school milk freezing, and trying to chip through the ice with a straw to drink it.  The alternative was to balance it on the radiator in a bid to thaw it out so it could be consumed within the required time. 

Then when I was at secondary school often the bus wouldn't turn up because the diesel would be frozen.  Was that an actual thing, diesel freezing?  I'm wondering now, because I've never heard of it happening since. 

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to Spring.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Rutland earthquake, January 2015

Yes, the earth moved for me too last Wednesday night (28th January).

Of course, at the time I wasn't sure what had caused it, and I was momentarily concerned it could have been an explosion, but the news and social media the next morning confirmed it - it was another Rutland earthquake.

The smallest county in England certainly likes to make its presence felt, doesn't it?!

It happened just as I was drifting off to sleep.  I would describe it as a rumbling noise - a bit like a large lorry or tank even, but probably louder - which made me sit bolt upright and make sure my husband was also awake; I don't like to suffer these things alone.

It carried on for about ten seconds or so, and I have to admit I was a bit scared.

OK, I might be a bit of a wuss, but that's my fourth earthquake now, most of which have been at night.  I certainly couldn't live somewhere like LA or Japan where they get them a lot.

It did make me wonder why we seem to be getting them more than we used to.

I haven't studied fracking - in honesty, it's waste plants that take up most of my spare time (lucky me) - but it did make me wonder if these tremors are going to happen more often if fracking goes ahead.

It also brought back memories of my first earthquake - it was 1989, I'd just finished my A levels and was re-decorating my bedroom listening to the Radio One Roadshow from an exotic seaside location, I think presented by Gary Davies but I can't be sure.

I was painting the wall standing on a chair, when it started shaking.  My mother, who was downstairs, called up to see if it was me falling off the chair which had caused the house to shake.  It assured her it wasn't, and was mildly insulted at the suggestion.  Just for the record I didn't cause last week's either!