Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bye bye for a few days!

Last post before the move as I'll have no internet for a few days - it may even been up to a fortnight - but I suspect that I'll be pretty damned busy anyhow.

So, say goodbye to the old house. I'll miss it. A bit. The new place is much nicer. And I'll miss you all while I'm away. Sniff.

Talk soon!

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Final Days ...

Finally we have a date for the move. August 1st. Hoorah!

After four months of false starts, lost buyers, new buyers, solicitors' letters, surveys, searches, whopping great cheque writing, packing, letter-writing, e-mailing and general confusion ... we're finally on the move.

And all this for a slightly larger house just 3 miles away. Well, I say slightly larger ... it has extra rooms (so I can once again have my own study/studio - woo hoo! - and Dawn can too for her myriad hobbies and business-interests) and a very large garden, in which I intend to grow much of our own fruit and veg next year. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time but I didn't have the space (I had kids instead).

So it's goodbye to this ol' house that has shielded me from the elements for the past 14 years and hello spanky new house and all of the possibilities it promises.

Of course, it means that I'll be off the air for a while.

So no change there then.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wet, Wet, bloody Wet

My good friend Huw was stranded in London last night when a month's rain fell in a day and no trains ran out from Paddington. Not surprising really when you see shots like this:

So he ended up having to stay at my place out in the (mostly) dry, high and porous chalkiness of the Chiltern Hills and I volunteered to drive him home to deepest, dampest Gloucestershire this morning.

And what a moist treat it was! Apart from trying not to skid on the detritus left by flood waters yesterday, we also had to play dodgems with the hundreds of abandoned cars all over the roads. Oh what fun.

And then there were the rivers formerly known as roads where you drove along the centre line and hoped to God that the old nursery rhyme about 'Doctor Foster went to Gloucester' didn't turn out to be strangely prophetic.

Enjoy the pics. We enjoyed taking them more than we did the drive. Two are of 'roads' somewhere near the soon to be re-named Bourton Under Water. The other is of the stricken RAF Fairford where the only thing likely to be touching down on their runways is a Fantasy Island style seaplane. Or Thunderbird 2.

My heart genuinely goes out to those of you we splashed past as you baled out your living rooms and pumped dry your kitchens. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

And, finally, a quick curse word or two to you gas-guzzling nations who won't do anything about global warming and all of the other environmental madness you're inflicting on the rest of us. And to the 4x4 owners who smugly drove past all the eco-friendly flooded smaller cars. You lot are causing this.

You know who you are ...

Top photo: BBC. All others by me.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Biggest and Smallest

For once, not a reference to my weight loss but the incredible meeting recently of the tallest man in the world and the shortest. I just had to include the photos.

Bao Xishun shook hands with He Pingping for the first time. Bizarrely, they both live in the same region of Inner Mongolia. Mr Xishun, 56, towers is an astonishing 7.9ft, while 19-year-old Mr Pingping is a mere 2.4ft high.

Monday, July 16, 2007

WARNING - Man Baps ahead!

Here's a diet update. When I started I was 119.3kilos - that's 263lbs or 18 stone 7lbs. I'm now somewhere around the 15 stone mark and I'm seeing parts of myself I haven't seen in years. Viewers of a sensitive disposition, look away now... there will be man boobs.

So things are progressing well and I'm on target to get to about 12.5 to 13 stones. But here's the thing ... look how many different ways I had to use to describe my weight so that everyone (this is the world wide web after all) will see the weight loss. Why can't things be universal?

Now I know that the UK government has done its best to get us to think in a metric European way but, like most people over 40, I still can't visualise 5kg, 2 litres or, heaven forbid, how tall someone who is 1.65 metres is. I know, it's my fault for being an old-fashioned stick in the mud. But the government itself is not helping. It's all very well prosecuting fruit and veg shopkeepers for selling stuff in pounds and ounces ... but why isn't the government prosecuted for still putting up all speed limits in MPH? Why are all motorway signs still in miles? Why, when I buy a suit or a shirt, are the measurements still in inches? Why does my car speedometer have MPH on it? And why, when I pump up my car tyres, does the machine measure in PSI?

Come on Gordon! Sort it out! If we've got to accept decimalisation - as we did with coinage in the 1970s - then remove the alternatives and we'll all get used to it quicker. Or abandon the idea altogether and let's stick with the system that's done us proud for 2000 years.

Me? I'm not arsed either way. I just wish that there wasn't an 'either way'.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

You Brave Girls - and good for you!

Next Monday a curious thing will happen ... lots and lots of ladies will take their clothes off in public, right in the heart of London.
It's being promoted as the 'Ultimate Flashmob' - a massive flesh exposing event organised by journalist and broadcaster Dawn Porter (You'll know her from How to look good naked and Super Slim Me) to show that normal-sized women are beautiful and to Hell with the airbrushers and peddlars of Size Zero misery. The results will form part of a new TV special to be screened later in the year called Dawn gets naked.

I have no idea where it will be ... and wouldn't say anyway to deter the pervy element. But I will say to the ladies, visit Dawn's MySpace site and show your support ... even if you can't be there to show anything else!

Good luck girls! I wonder if there are plans for a male version ...

String up the Body Fascists!

I'm a bloke. And I'm straight. So this post may seem a bit uncharacteristic as I'm going to vent my spleen about body fascism.

I was always a skinny kid but I put on a lot of weight in my 20s and 30s and, by the time I hit 40, I tipped the scales at just over 20 stones (that's 280lbs for my American chums or a staggering 127 kilos). I've now lost a major chunk of that weight, and my BMI is looking healthy, as are my blood pressure and cholesterol. It's been a long hard struggle but worth it as, hopefully, I'll live a bit longer and feel healthier and happier than I have done. However, one thing I have realised is how much harder it is for the ladies. Us blokes do have a certain amount of muscle-bound, slim, tanned, six-pack wielding models thrust at us from magazines and TV ... but women get it from every angle, continuously, every minute of the day. And it's having a devastating effect on female self-esteem.

In a recent UK survey of 25,000 people conducted by BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat programme, more than half of the female respondees said that they'd consider surgery, and over a third of women who wear Size 12 clothes or larger believed that they were overweight or fat. Over 50% honestly believed that their body image stopped them from finding a partner and, saddest of all, 10% of women said that they actually hated their bodies. Conversely, less than 1% of the respondees were Size Zero (UK Size 4) – which is often pitched by the media as the ‘perfect’ size.
In the USA, one recent study showed that 63% of female respondees identified weight as the key factor in determining how they felt about themselves. It was seen as more important than any other factor including family, school, or career. Other research suggested that 86% of all US women are dissatisfied with their bodies and want to lose weight.

And on the other side of the world, another survey commissioned by news.com.au found that 94% of Australian women wanted to change something about their body and of those who claimed to be overweight, 82 per cent indicated they would be happier if they achieved their goal weight – however unrealistic or misguided that goal weight was.

But here’s the thing … ask most women or men what the ideal woman looks like and they will often choose averagely-sized people. Take Marilyn Monroe for instance ...

In 1999, Marilyn was named the Number One Sexiest Star of the 20th Century by Playboy magazine. In the same year, People Magazine's readers voted her the Sexiest Woman of the Century. And yet her measurements were hardly Size Zero. Her 'official' size, as put out by her studio bosses, was 37-23-36. Her dressmaker claimed it was 35-22-35. Marilyn herself once said that her epitaph should read 'Here lies Marilyn Monroe, 38-23-36'. Of course, people do fluctuate throughout life but, by taking all the available evidence (such as her clothes that still exist) and her height of five feet five and half inches, we can say with reasonable certainty that Marilyn was around a UK Size 16 (US Size 12) … which is four dresses larger than the 33.3% of British women who believethat being over Size 12 means that they are overweight or fat.

Do these same women believe that Marilyn was fat? Come on girls ...

Marilyn was gorgeous. And normal. Believe it or not, Size 16 is the average clothes size for British women (Source: Department of Trade and Industry). Really. It is.

But, such are the pressures brought to bear by an unrelenting body fascist media that, as psychologist Deanne Jade says, 'Marilyn Monroe would be trying to diet herself to a Size Zero if she was on the cinema screen now, which is such a shame.' Of course it would be! What we all love about Marilyn was her vivacious, sexy, womanly curves.

I'll leave the last word for now with model and actress Liz Hurley – a modern icon of female body shape – who is on record as saying (rather cattily) to Allure magazine, 'I've always thought that Marilyn Monroe looked fabulous, but I’d kill myself if I was that fat'.

Really? All I can say is ... have another pie, Liz.

More on this subject later.