Sigh it’s Xmas marketing time

Well the last posting was a celebration of some lovely festive activity down our local High St and this is the antidote; a little rant about the indulgent and schmaltzy Xmas ads that have been running for weeks now. Apart from Iceland’s two bob ads they were all interesting to watch the first time round but it’s only 2nd December and I’m already sick of listening to Lily Allen, watching Ant &Dec joshing with a ginger bread man, and trying to understand why M&S couldn’t just do an homage to one of Alice in Wonderland or the Wizard of Oz, but both? Will sticking Helena Bonham-Carter on the end as the Wicked Witch of the West/dog-catcher really help sales? Is she really thought of as a style icon?

"Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince" UK Premiere - Outside Arrivals

Err…what do I know eh. Am I alone in thinking Rosie Huntingdon-Thingummybob in her undies was doing a decent job pitching the appeal of M&S? Well it worked for me Santa.

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So here it is Merry Xmas

Well it’s 1 December and it’s starting to feel a lot like Xmas don’t you think? I hate cynical marketing but I admit to being a bit of a fan of good old-fashioned festive celebrations. A couple of days ago they switched on the lights in Teddington and we had a quick peek down there. It was great; not so much because the lights were spectacular (being a Blackpool boy I can justifiably say they’ve got a long way to go before they can call 12 trees lit up illuminations!) but because the townsfolk were out in force supporting our local High Street businesses, a theme very close to my heart. And the atmosphere was just great.

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Plucking hell


I wrote the the other day about some great jobs I’ve had and the cushiest number in the Met Police. But it got me thinking about some of the worst jobs I’ve had to endure. I had a few lulus working at the bakery during school holidays. One job involved standing by this conveyor belt for a 12 hour shift loading freshly baked loaves hot from the oven onto trollies. The problem was that you were completely alone facing a wall and at head height about 4 feet away hung a large clock which was impossible to ignore. There was nothing to distract you from its torturous gaze. I can tell you that those shifts felt 18 hours long.

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All I want for Xmas is…….

Well, I’ve written before about the mass of junkmail we receive each morning with several top up deliveries intermittently during the day. In fact it was on 8 December 2009 when I wrote about it last (see posting Location, location, location), and if I’d kept all the direct mail crap that had been posted through our letter box since then I could have opened my own paper mill. But this morning something plopped through the letter box so awful it could become a classic of the junk genre. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the Xmas gift catalogue from some mob called Oh what a claim. Now ordinarily I’d chuck this out without a glance but something made me have a sneek and what joys are contained therein. It’s not that the gifts are of stunning quality; there are literally thousands of them and they are almost all utterly crap. I’ve seen carney fairground stall holders that would baulk at having to use some of this tat as prizes for punters scooping up a plastic duck with a hook on a stick or for scoring over 21 by hitting 3 different playing cards with some crappy arrows.  Continue reading


I’ve written before about how much I enjoy watching the programme Wheeler Dealers, two guys who renovate modern classic cars and sell them on for a smallish profit. The other day I watched this episode where a mini is brought up to date by wrapping it in a very distinctive carbon fibre vinyl – the first mini in the world to receive this treatment:

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high speed writing

So there I was doing some last minute Xmas shopping in WHSmith’s in Kingston yesterday afternoon when I was shocked still in my tracks. There on its own huge promotional stand was the book that the world’s been waiting for; possibly the most eagerly anticipated autobiography by one of the men of the century. Was it something by Mandela or Barack Obama or Stephen Hawkings possibly?  No it was the book intriguingly entitled My Story written by that colossus on the world scene….Matt Cardle. Yep the part-time painter and decorator who won X Factor just over a week ago has found time to write his memoirs. That’s a truly incredible achievement for someone who’s been massively busy. And what a life story it must be. Unfortunately I was so stunned I had to go out and get some fresh air and didn’t get back in to buy the opus. I was running away.

Unbelievable? Here’s the thing if you live your life through others and feel compelled to go out and buy it…

It’s gotta be a cert for the Booker prize.


xmas eve

Well it’s Xmas eve and we’re pretty much all prepared. This time last year we hosted all of our family out in Italy and whilst we had a great time the house was freezing as the gasman hadn’t delivered. This year the kids and grandkids will be joining us again here in Teddington and unless the gas mains freeze over we should all be at least warm this time. Of course things don’t always go to plan; we’ve just heard from our local shabby chic Victoriana gastro-pub, The Bloated Mallard, where we planning on having a blow-out tapas feast later that they’ve cancelled tonight (!) because their chef hasn’t turned up. It sounds vaguely familiar. Continue reading

xmas dinner

Well it’s 24th Dec I’m just listening to radio 5 this morning on the computer and the topic is ‘how many are you having for Xmas dinner? Gentle enough stuff, mind you it is Victoria Debyshire who’s hosting; I don’t think she’s going to knock Melvyn Bragg of his high-brow perch any time soon.Anyway the phone-in has turned into a bit of an I-can-top-that thing with the latest claiming to have 24 people to dinner tomorrow. It’s a lot. I think the most we’ve entertained is 9 or 10 – we and the kids, grandkids, sons-in-law, the odd friends etc. Where do you seat 24 people and find that number of seats? Continue reading