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Monday, September 29, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Don't the police Google?

I read that when Liz Kershaw decided to get in touch with Operation Yewtree the officer who answered the phone said "We've been trying to get in touch with you, but we realised we've been talking to the wrong Liz Kershaw."

Leaving aside the implications of an officer of the law talking to the wrong witness, I'm amazed how in these Google days I still come across people who have difficulty finding and making contact with people.

Worse, some of those people are journalists, lawyers and policemen, the sort of professionals who used to be able to find people in the days when it was hard to do.

At the risk of adding to the demands upon the national curriculum, an hour should be devoted to "how to Google".

Not an hour every week. Just an hour.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Never mind the Velasquez, here's the Duchess of Devonshire

Deborah, the last of the Mitford sisters, has died at the age of 94. The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters is an amazing and unique book. When I heard the news I couldn't help recalling her letter about when they had a bomb scare at Chatsworth House in 1972. I love the idea of the policeman suggesting they might search the house. Since Chatsworth has 126 rooms it would be hard to accomplish this in the half hour before the bomb went off.  You hear a lot about people being "cool". Deborah was cool before it was invented.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Stevie Nicks: her style is unforgettable, her lyrics unintelligible

Preparing for Monday evening's Word podcast recording with Ben Watt and Zoe Howe and thinking about Stevie Nicks, the subject of Zoe's new book, I remembered an old spoof that Danny Baker used to play on the radio. Is it on You Tube? Of course it's on You Tube.


Now don't tell me it's a cheap shot. All humour is a cheap shot. God, I miss musical comedy.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

When did the man hug arrive and when's it going to go away?

Last night I said to my wife "when we got married, thirty five years ago, was there any male hugging?"

"No," she said. "Your father and my father might have put an arm around your shoulder but it wouldn't have been anything people would recognise as a hug."

We looked at the wedding picture on the wall and wondered whether the other guests might have hugged. We decided they wouldn't. That didn't make them notably undemonstrative people. They just didn't hug. Nobody did.

I was asking last night on Twitter when the current vogue for male hugging began. It's like the internet. It spread so fast you can barely remember a time when it wasn't there.

Somebody said it began in 1988. "Why?" I asked. "Ecstasy," he said. Oh.

Like all these things the man hug has gone from being optional to being obligatory in no time at all and now people look at you as if there's a piece missing of you if you don't do it. I'll be honest. With very few exceptions I hate it.

Is there any chance it will go away as fast as it came?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Does Britain have a Portlandia?

Interesting New York Times piece about the kind of people who have moved to Portland, Oregon. They've got good college educations and yet prefer to work as baristas or yoga teachers.

“People move to New York to be in media or finance; they move to L.A. to be in show business,” Renn said. “People move to Portland to move to Portland.”

 It's interesting for two reasons: it recognises what's been clear for the last twenty years. Lots of young people want the good lifestyle but don't want to do the work that buys the lifestyle and therefore will get by on next to nothing if it means they can noodle about playing music or designing a website for a friend.

The other is that Americans have traditionally relocated across the nation if it means they can afford the kind of life they want.

There's been talk of this over here recently in the light of the Scottish independence debate and HS2. Could Britain sustain its own Portlandia? Does it have one already?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The thousand natural shocks the bench is heir to

I'm not surprised that Marco Van Basten has stepped down as coach of Az Alkmaar because of "mental and physical problems".

I'm just amazed at how many people seem eager to become a coach, a job that makes most other jobs look stress-free.

You may have difficult days at work from time to time but you don't have the hot breath of 50,000 people blaming you when one of the over-bred multi-millionaires you send out to implement your policies have a bit of an off-day.

When absolutely everything that could go wrong has gone wrong you don't have to go and face a room-full of hacks who seem completely at a loss as to how to fix their own business but can immediately tell you where you're going wrong in yours.

You don't turn on the radio to hear a load of hacks gleefully discussing how soon you'll be fired.

I don't think anybody puts themselves through that kind of thing for the money.