Wednesday 30 July 2008

It's a tough world out there....

Right -so I want some feedback on this one.

Here's the deal.

Girl meets bloke on a "blind" date.

I've never understood why they are called "blind" dates except perhaps you want to stab your own eyes out in frustration with toothpicks and ice cubes?

Or it feels like you're being punished by the gigantic eagle set by Zeus to feed on the ever-regenerating liver of the Titan Prometheus, after he was chained to the peak of Mount Kaukasos as punishment for stealing fire from the gods?

Or Pringles from the bar?

I think his eyes were pecked out - weren't they?

I need some help here.

adj., blind·er, blind·est.
    1. Sightless.
    2. Having a maximal visual acuity of the better eye, after correction by refractive lenses, of one-tenth normal vision or less (20/200 or less on the Snellen test).
    3. Of, relating to, or for sightless persons.
    1. Performed or made without the benefit of background information that might prejudice the outcome or result: blind taste tests used in marketing studies.
    2. Performed without preparation, experience, or knowledge: made a blind stab at answering the question.
    3. Performed by instruments and without the use of sight: blind navigation.
  1. Unable or unwilling to perceive or understand: blind to a lover's faults.
  2. Not based on reason or evidence; unquestioning: put blind faith in their leaders.
  3. Slang. Drunk.
  4. Lacking reason or purpose: blind fate; blind choice.
    1. Difficult to comprehend or see; illegible.
    2. Incompletely or illegibly addressed: blind mail.
    3. Hidden from sight: a blind seam.
    4. Screened from the view of oncoming motorists: a blind driveway.
    5. Secret or otherwise undisclosed: a blind item in a military budget
None of it sounds any good does it. Quite.

So - to the point.

I went on a blind date this week. Met in a bar - had a glass of vino - got comfy and then he walks in.

Average looking. Nasal voice. Cynical. Not overly bright, not that funny.

He's looking me up and down like I am a strange animal and I'm trying to make small talk.

Except I can't, can I? Nope - one glass later and having some airwaves to fill, I have pronounced that weddings are a waste of time and money; that most jobs are pointless, that I probably won't stay in the UK and that, I am not sure about any of this blind date malachy.

Suffice to say he leaves exactly an hour and I mean TO THE DOT since we meet. 20.30 to 21.30.

Fair enough I suppose except I was in full flow and hadn't concluded anything.

He wasn't saying much of any interest.

He had a car, I didn't. He shot off -leaving me ambling and slightly tipsy chatting to myself looking for the bus-stop.

If he ever finds this blog - good.

That was no way to treat a lady, was not impressed.

Monday 28 July 2008

I like John from Lincoln

"End of cheap flights boom as airlines raise fares in line with oil prices"

says the Times Online.

More than five million British passengers could be priced out of the budget holiday market as airlines raise their fares, bringing the era of cheap travel to an end.

Holidaymakers preparing for the traditional summer getaway this week may find that when they come to book their next break the fares have become unaffordable.

Ticket prices are expected to rise by 10 per cent this year and next as the cost of oil pushes up airline fuel bills.

And here it comes at the end of the article :

Your ticket to better value

- Be flexible with your flight dates and times. Try flying midweek rather than at weekends

- Consider booking early. You will generally get a cheaper fare

- Be flexible with your airport. Check travel costs to and from it. Flying to or from a nearby airport can save you money

- Consider alternative, but similar destinations. If you are looking for a warm coastal destination to relax by a pool check out non-euro countries such as Tunisia

- Check the one-way fares. In some cases, you can find a cheaper flight by booking two one-way destination tickets. This is usually the case for shorter breaks


All very serious isn't it....except for a few comments at the bottom of the piece which made me cry with laughter...hurrah for not being PC!

"What a wonderful if unlikely scenario. Alcohol swilling, tatooed, body pierced louts of both sexes priced out of air travel. If only, I would gladly pay a premium just to be rid of them."
John, Lincoln,

"Oh Dear! For two weeks of the year, we were relieved to see the drunken, shell-suited, tattooed brigade, chanting their football anthems and smoking their Duty Free fags, migrate to Magaluf or the Costas. So now we will have 52 weeks to 'enjoy' their company. "
John, Lincoln, UK

or this one..

Oh dear. Never mind the less well off holiday makers, what about the middle class professionals seduced by property porn programmes into believing that they can live in France etc and commute to work in the UK on EasyJet or the like? It had to end in tears, and now it will.Clive, Chichester, UK.

Nothing like saying it the way it is eh?

Monday 21 July 2008

Poverty amongst email

I'm back from Delhi and feel drugged. I don't know if it's jet-lag or going from 100 percent humidity to the UK weather, but I can't seem to wake up properly.

That said, I wanted to write up one of my last experiences in Delhi as it affected me and I haven't stopped thinking about it.

It's a humid, stale, dank Thursday and I am trying to get to a shop I've been recommended.

Sitting in the back of a rusty 3 wheel motorised tuk tuck with a non English speaking driver on huge 4 lane motorways is a scary experience. You're basically in a motorised wheelbarrow with lorries up your rear.

We stop. I am exposed. Two tiny, skin and bone kids approach me.

They are wearing floppy hats with a spinning top on so that when they shake their heads in a circular motion, the top of the hat spins.

Picture it - they keep moving their heads, the hats keep moving.

They've got make-up on. Fake moustaches which are dripping down their small skinny faces in the heat.

And then they start to perform on the hot tarmac - literally under the cars and lorries.

I hesitate. Do I want to give them money? I already know I don't have any small change, but we are stopped at a red traffic light, and I can't get away.

Then the smaller of the two - perhaps about 4 years old - takes a tiny steel ring and wraps it around his body as he lies on the road.

He shakes, contorts, bends his back in two, puts his ankles to the back of his head as he lies on his stomach bent double, and moves this small ring around and up and down his body.

It is excruciating to watch. I see his mother at the side of the road with another baby on her back staring at me. I try to picture myself.

White western woman with sunglasses on, decent clothes and now I have to admit it - a Blackberry in my hand.

I was midst emailing an editor about a story I'd written as she had an urgent deadline and needed one extra fact and some photo captions.

So there I was emailing someone from my hi tech gadget which probably cost more than this family ever see in a decade or more. I am emailing, these kids are contorting, the mother is frowning.

I don't have the stomach for this. I give them a 100 rupees - a lot of money here -about 2 dollars I guess.

However, because I hesitated before giving them the money - the traffic was starting to move. They see me hesitate and wait. I melt.

I thrust the bill into the hands of the smaller of the children and...they nearly get trapped under the wheels of another car before taking off, grinning.

My heart was racing. Would it have been my fault if one had been knocked down and killed because I hesitated to give money?

I had been distracted, pretending they weren't there, emailing, then acknowledging them - a small dance which took a minute or so.

I don't know. I know these issues are complex. It's about the global economy, the haves and have nots, the caste system, opportunities, social matrices and a host of other things.

In the end however, isn't that what life is made up of?

Moments, decisions, reactions, emails and for some, day to day poverty.

Sunday 13 July 2008

Hot, humid and batting off mosquitoes

I'm in Delhi and good lord, is hot. Not the bright, sunny, glare in the eyes and the "where are my sunnies" kind of hot.

No, this is muggy, grey, sweat pouring down you, as you move, hot.

It's also raining..big, soggy, violent monsoon rain which leaves the open toe sandals you're wearing saggy and squelchy - and a constant feeling of damp in the air where newly washed clothes don't dry carring a damp smell.

Did I mention the mosquitoes, because they're having a ball. Not too hot, not too cold, lots of water to play in.

All kinds of flying things are in my room and they're all bigger than I recall they should be.

Mostly mosquitoes and ants.

Anyway, I did just go for a walk despite the constant friendly, if irritating drivers of small motorised tuk tuks, honking and trying to steer me elsewhere.

In fact, wherever I walked I kept being told I was going the wrong way. I won't take this as a metaphor for life.

Then I heard a big flapping noise above me and thought it was a bat or perhaps a large crow, or something equally unglamorous.

But no, right in the middle of this sprawling, dirty,busy city, a beautiful peacock arched above me and flew to the top of a large, ungracious concrete building.

And there it stayed.

Amazing. Delhi. You may just as easily encounter a mosquito as a peacock.

I love this video....

I took this from a friend's blog. Nothing wrong with sharing eh?

Watch and enjoy...I defy you not to cry!

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Thursday 10 July 2008

Cuteness - is it universal?

I'm in a silly mood. Nervous. Have a job interview in 2 hours but am ansy and restless.

So I thought I'd share my new love of tree kangaroos.

Not just any old these are special and live mostly in PNG and to be honest, they're very endangered and I'd never heard of them a few months back.

But, now I am doing a project and it involves filming them (no I am not going) and they are soooooo cute. Stupidly cute.

Did nature think ah yes, I'll make some ugly things, some useful things, some things to eat and some thing that people will just go...aaaaaah how cute is that?

Does everyone think they're cute or would someone say...nah - that's not cute. Give me a scorpion and a snake any day, now that does it for me.

A friend of mine once said that if I was an animal I'd be a small furry mammal with big eyes.

Not sure if that's a cute compliment or an insult.


Wednesday 2 July 2008

Is friendship the new religion?

I just got off the phone to a good friend.

I said it would be easier to hand it all over to someone/something else as every decision I make, I wonder if I should've taken a different fork in the road.

It would be nice to say - it's all up to him /her/it up there.

What will be, will be.

Que sera, sera.

Doesn't it sound better in Spanish? Now I feel like bursting into song, a la Doris Day.

Anyway, back to the point. She said...yeah, Jo, whatever. I don't like all this religious stuff.

For me friendship is the new religion. I paused. She continued..

You believe in your friends, you turn to your friends for help, reassurance, love, companionship and debate. You have a community. It's a religion really.

Now how cool would that be. I am imagining it now. The new religion of friendship.

Here are the ten commandments :

1. In times of need, bring wine, chocolate, a box of tissues and a strong shoulder.
2. Be there to share the good times and hopefully, record it for posterity on camera
3. Do stay in touch
4. Do remind us of our good points - not the bad
5. Be there to remind us that someone does love us
6. Learn to drive and share the driving
7. Divvy up holiday and recreational booking
8. Remind us there is more to life than work
9. Do tell us if we behave like monsters...or perhaps date one..
10. Help during house moves

I'm sure there are tonnes more. I think this is a great new religion.

Kneel to the god of friendship.