About Paul

Having decided on a change of life by moving home from the UK to Italy, this is the story and thoughts of a man on a personal journey from the Blackpool Tower to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in search of la dolce vita. After several olive harvests he's now back in London but en route he shares his very personal perspectives on life.

Early morning scheduling

So as regular readers may know I’m a bit of a creature of habit. And one of the regular features in my life is the early morning routine. Carol and I are early risers and usually downstairs by 6.30am or so. It’s usually a cuppa for Carol then at one minute to 7am it’s Converse sneakers on and I pop out and over to the little Co-op store in the market square to be first through the door to go and pick up my morning paper, the i. And occasionally some milk. Continue reading

NHS; the good, the crazy and the comm’s overload

So I’ve not been posting for a while. I always admit that this thing comes and goes like our bloody weather. But I’ve had an excuse as I’ve been under the weather a tad. I posted a few weeks ago about a painful back/chest condition which necessitated a visit to my local A&E where I was diagnosed with something called costochondritis – an inflammation of the breastbone area. It was nothing too serious and I was prescribed with painkillers and ibuprofen. But after 3 weeks I felt no better, in fact the pain was worse. In the meantime I received a letter from Chelsea And Westminster Hospital Trust, who handled all my cancer surgery and chemo treatment and follow up, that due to a change in Trust guidelines, my colonoscopy procedure scheduled for 20121 had been cancelled. Nothing more than that other than if I had issues I should take it up with my GP. Oh, thank you and good night.

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It’s the little things that drive you mad

Well after 100 days the Premiership resumed last night. As Jack Bruce once sang, I’m so glad. But it was a strange experience  wasn’t it without spectators? Yet another thing this bloody crisis has shown the true value of is the humble fan. Without them turning up in there 1000’s at quite ridiculous costs, the spectacle just isn’t the same. The skill and artistry is all there but the critical ingredient in making the event exciting is not the sodding tv coverage after all but the passionate fans. Maybe now the clubs will appreciate them more. Nay cherish them. Nah it’s not going to happen is it? Continue reading

Lyrics

I think you known I’m not afraid to speak out if I see any failings or injustices. It’s just in my nature. But I should also admit that my recent postings have been quite gently-themed. I do get annoyed by stuff and rant about it but always fear that too many highly-opinionated postings will categorise me as a narrow-minded reactionary. So I’ve tuned back on the political commentary of late. But one news item has landed recently which has troubled me enormously; the death of George Floyd. It was an awful, awful situation. And it has generated some extreme commentary, not all of it helpful.

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Noticing

I mentioned in my last post that I’m a noticer of things. I just can’t help it. So whilst doing our local walks around Brackley I thought I’d share some of the features I’ve spotted or come across which have intrigued me a little. And a bit of the history behind them might help – given that my recent posting on Brackley architecture seemed to attract some nice comments. So off we go on a little Brackleycal history tour …

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Surfer fun

I think I might have made a decent forensic examiner once upon a time as I notice little things which are a little odd (and sometimes amusing too). For example I’m watching the Quest tv channel on Dplay quite a lot and some of their programmes are sponsored by Argentinian wine brand Trivento. Their marketing team have devised a series of idents – little promo ads – that appear in the commercial breaks promoting the idea that drinking Trivento sets you off on some ‘bold discoveries’. I know, it’s an over-blown idea; where I’m from that’s just a euphemism for getting pissed. I think there are 8 in the series and all are twaddle but the one that makes me smile is a shot of a surfer girl who says something inane before heading off to go surfing. It’s not so much what she says that makes me smile it’s her sense of direction. Have a look at this video and you’ll see her run to the right then suddenly she veers left as if she’s noticed a better bit of sea to aim for.

Well it may not win the award for outstanding comedy performance at the Bafta’s but it never fails to make me chuckle. Little things, like I said.

bafta paulie (did I ever tell you I’ve got two of the little brass winkers?)

Best of the West

Now I’m very conscious that I may have turned off my huge army of female readers with the last posting about 50 year old Yerkshire men in their trunks grappling with each other. So for something a little more contemporary and hopefully a touch more amusing and for all, I was just wondering if you’ve been watching the new programme on C4 A Very British Hotel Chain: Inside Best Western? This show is more fun than you’d expect, though maybe not in the ways intended. Here’s C4’s publicity image of the main characters…

 

Presumably Best Western thought a three-part series filmed in May last year would be a handy publicity boost for their 265 hotels, with its portraits of the wacky but lovable workforce. But thanks to the coronavirus it now looks more like a portal to a distant far-off time and a completely different business.

It did make me wonder fairly quickly what the point of this series was though. Cut to today and Britain’s largest chain has closed all but 60 or so of its hotels, presumably on a temporary basis, they must hope. And to be fair they are one of the few hotels staying open to give key workers in local authorities a welcome and convenient break from their work tackling the covid crisis. But sadly none of that comes through in this tv series which is very much played for giggles not serious business niggles.

So to the unintentional humour. It’s clear that a career in the leisure business demands a thick skin and eternal optimism and at Best Western’s HQ in York (back again – it could only be set in Yerkshire) they have tons of both. The new CEO Rob Paterson, an ex Aussie footballer, is just David Brent with an ozzie accent. He loves his slogans from the 1980’s with lots of exclamation marks like Beat Yesterday! Own It! Give a Shit! And his dopey staff  suck it up with gusto. Mark Stanley, head of hotel development, grins away and loves his staff to tell him how great he is. We saw him revelling in a sales, marketing and revenue conference, as staff were covered in pink gunk for charity. Brilliant! raved Mark, Best Western madness. Actually he might just have out-Brented his CEO.

Mark’s number 2 is ambitious Head of Acquisitions Terii (with two ‘i’s) whose job it is to sign up new hotels to the chain. We find her trying to get Marco White to allow his Rudloe Arms to join up. Marco teases her a little showing off his pixellated sexy artworks and larger than life images of himself to see what reaction he gets from her. But Terii’s (two i’s) made of stern stuff and won’t be put off. I love it, she replies, sniffing the scent of a deal being done.

Then there’s slightly camp and arch Alasdair, the wisecracking but ruthless hotel inspector who follows up on Terii’s (two i’s) new signings. He announced himself as if he were a righteous superhero: I am the hotel inspector. I cannot be bought. More sharply he mentioned that he likes to measure TV screens to see if they are as big as the new hotel claims. I pinched this out of my mother’s knitting box, he says, unfurling a measuring tape. She’s been dead for 20 years. Hard man eh. Then I noticed he’s quite the peacock, wearing wacky glasses and different brightly coloured socks. I wonder if you can spot him in the picture above.

There was also a lady whose name escapes me who’s a Marketing Manager at one of the bigger hotels and she just comes up with barmpot ideas for entertaining guests like creating a rocket ship cabin just off the foyer for people to experience. How it was relevant  I just couldn’t fathom. And it was totally crap. Unbelievable. And if you want to see how they magic-ed things up here’s what the whole marketing team supported by the CEO came up with for their Xmas promo campaign. If it makes sense to you, you might just need some therapy…

I was just shocked that they didn’t include the only funny line that exists about our four-legged friends – what do the donkeys on Blackpool beach get for lunch? About half an hour. Now Mark would piss himself at that one: BW donkey jossing, brilliant!

I’m tempted to ask what’s the difference between the BW senior management team and a donkey. They’re all asses but at least the donkey does something useful. Ouch

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Grapple fans

I was listening to the radio the other day and they were playing the theme tune to the old ITV Saturday afternoon sports show called World of Sport, and since it’s a Saturday and we seem to be wandering down memory lane a bit at the moment, I thought I’d give you a blast to see if you remember it….

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