Monday, 24 February 2014

Choose a job you love...

'Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life'.

Lying awake the other night because of the stormy weather, I thought about this saying - which I've subsequently discovered has been credited to Confucius.

Does anyone actually feel like this?  Even if you really love your job, don't you still get fed up with getting up early, travelling, trying to book holiday at the same time your children are off school, dealing with office politics etc?

Then, still lying awake during the seemingly never-ending storm, I started thinking about what my ideal occupation would be.

As I love writing and music, I think it would probably be a music journalist.

In fact, if I had my time over, that's what I would like to be.

Getting paid to go to gigs, listen to music and review it would be my idea of a dream career.

But before anyone suggests 'it's never too late', bear in mind I generally fall asleep by half-past ten because I'm up at half-past six in the morning - hardly conducive to a rock 'n' roll lifestyle!

Reading Smash Hits when I was a teenager I admired the likes of Sylvia Patterson, Sian Pattenden and Miranda Sawyer - they got to meet all the big stars of the day, and it seemed a very glamorous life, a world away from my own.

I have to say, I really enjoyed the Retro music piece in last week's paper featuring famous musicians from Northamptonshire. 

Here's hoping the Temples album (complete with its picture of the Triangular Lodge) sells well - I thought it was great that they did a gig at HMV in Kettering, their hometown. 

There's a lot going on in the county musically now - so much more than when I was younger. 

Back then if you wanted to see big-named bands you had to go on a bus trip from Co-Op Travel on Newland Street in Kettering (or I think Discovery Records in Corby) to London or Birmingham - at least that's what my brother and I did. 

My first coach-trip concert was a-ha at Wembley Arena, he went to the NEC in Birmingham to see INXS (this was in the 1980s).

Now we've got big music festivals taking place at Boughton House this Summer - Alt-Fest and Greenbelt.

I'm just hoping that nobody gets these two events muddled-up, and turns up to one thinking it's the other - they really are a world apart both musically and culturally...


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

'Wedding brawl started over pork pie'...

I've seen some strange stories in the press lately.

But my favourite had the following headline:

'Wedding brawl started over pork pie'

Yes, I kid you not, this was a story from The Telegraph on 17th February

To cut a long story short, a wedding reception in Bradford turned nasty when a pork pie was thrown.

The ensuing brawl involved 30 to 40 guests, and the bride's white wedding dress got ruined when someone spilled beer and WKD on it.

Apparently, all's now well and they can have a laugh about it. 

I'm not sure that's how I'd react had it been my wedding, but each to their own as they say.

Now, I like nothing better than a good pork pie, but I'd never get into a fight over one.

But this story also caused me to muse was the fight over the quality of the pork pie?

Was it one of those horrible pink ones, as opposed to the delicious Melton Mowbray variety?

Did a guest take umbrage at the pie on offer and decide to throw it instead of eat it?

I'm guessing that's not what The Telegraph intended when they published the story, but I was more interested about the manufacturer of said pie.

I'm a Dickinson & Morris purist when it comes to my Melton Mowbray pork pies. 

I can't imagine it was one of theirs involved in this story - theirs are too scrummy to be used as a missile...

Monday, 17 February 2014

Here comes the rain again...

Is it ever going to stop raining?

As I write this, it's tipping it down - again - just as I'm thinking about taking the dog out and then collecting my daughter from school.

It's been raining for what seems like forever.

My trusty Wellibobs (that's what they're called, I'm not trying to be cutesy, they're ankle height and faux-fur lined) have sprung a leak, but as I've been wearing them almost constantly over the Winter months I can't exactly complain.

I think I may be in danger of getting trench foot - every step I take in the garden is accompanied by a squelch from the ground beneath, with water seeping through the hole in my shoe.

But still, I shouldn't complain because although we've had localized flooding around here (the people of Oakley Road/Gainsborough Road in Corby have my sympathies - seriously why does it keep flooding so badly there?), it's nothing compared with what the south-west of England has had to contend with.

Every day the news is full of pictures of flooded fields, massive waves crashing onto rocks, train lines in Dawlish which have been demolished - what next?

Something needs to be done.  Yes, we've had an unfortunate run of systems blowing in from the Atlantic (see, I've learned something from watching endless weather reports), but the inescapable fact is that this isn't normal weather.

I'm not going to get into a debate about climate change, but I will say this - for every action there's a reaction. 

We keep cutting down trees, building endless warehouses, concreting over the countryside - the water, when it falls, has to go somewhere. 

Plus if you keep building on flood plains, chances are those buildings are going to get flooded when the nearby river bursts its banks.

Rivers need dredging, ditches need clearing out - it's not really that difficult is it?  Regular maintenance is the key; proactive rather than reactive.

Unfortunately, into this mix, we have an Environment Secretary who thinks it's OK to cut down ancient woodland as long as we plant a few trees somewhere else. 

I think he refers to this as 'offsetting'.  I call it madness.

That kind of logic makes me question what Mr Paterson's qualifications were for that role? 

I would have hoped that an Environment Secretary would at least have a an interest in the environment, if not a basic grasp of environmental science.  But I expect that's too much to ask...

Friday, 14 February 2014

What, no Bargain Hunt? I'll watch curling then...

Now, I probably shouldn't admit this, but I will anyway.

I watch Bargain Hunt.

The Labrador puppy and I like to sit on the sofa and watch it together, while I'm eating my lunch.

He's already wolfed his down by this stage, then sits next to me watching my plate while I consume mine, hoping that I'll drop my cheese or fruit or something - he's not fussy.

Anyway, I digress.

Puppy and I settled ourselves down on Monday to watch Tim and Co - but, horror of horrors, it wasn't on.

Bargain Hunt had been replaced by the Winter Olympics.

Now I'm not a fan of sport - I grew up with a sports-mad Dad and brother and sport was everywhere at home, so I got fed up with it.

I don't usually watch it out of choice - unless it's tennis or maybe international matches in rugby or football, occasionally F1 - you get the picture.

But as it was on, I started watching it.

It was the curling I think.  The one with the stones they fling along the ice trying to hit a target.

Now, that looks like the only winter sport in which I would have a chance of partaking.

I've got a pair of stout black brogues and a Vileda supermop.

It was actually really good, and I found myself getting into it.

Pup wasn't too impressed though - they kept shouting instructions at each other, and he didn't like that.

It seems he prefers the more genteel Bargain Hunt crowd...


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

In the best possible taste...

Despite not being that keen on cooking myself, I do love watching cookery programmes.

My current favourite is The Taste.  Nigella's back in fine form, accompanied by a very shouty Frenchman (Ludo Lefebvre) and a suave American (Anthony Bourdain).

OK, so it's Masterchef meets The Voice without the spinny-round chairs, but it's good and worth an hour of my TV viewing time.

Despite the glut of cookery programmes we all watch these days, most of us apparently have just five dishes in our culinary repertoire.

We cook these in rotation, with the most popular being spaghetti bolognese.

When I read this in the paper I thought that this couldn't possibly be correct, I must cook far more than that.

Then I was walking home from school with my daughter the other Tuesday and she asked me what was for dinner that evening.

'Pasta bolognese with Brussels' was my reply (firm believers in our house that sprouts are for life, not just for Christmas).

'But it's not Thursday!' was her retort, which made me think that I'm also getting far too predictable.

I took 'O' level Home Economics as it was called then, way back in the mists of time, and did quite well as I understood the science behind food - but let me add at this stage that I'm no Heston Blumenthal.

Our cookery class was good fun, as we had a great mix of characters and a very patient teacher (Miss Russell).

We made a Christmas cake one year, from start to finish - although I don't remember 'feeding' it with alcohol (funnily enough, I'm guessing alcohol wasn't allowed in secondary schools even in those days) - and had to ice it. 

Miss Russell demonstrated each step carefully, and told us to handle the marzipan with care - and exceptionally clean hands - because it picks up every speck and nobody wants to eat murky marzipan.

Promptly after these words were uttered, one of my classmates dropped hers on the floor and it rolled behind the cooker. 

She picked it up, dusted it off, and continued to roll it out, perhaps implementing the 'five second rule' (this, of course, was all unbeknown to the teacher). 

My classmates and I, having watched in a mixture of horror and amusement at her casual disregard for cleanliness, expressed relief that we weren't going to be eating her cake that Yuletide and pitied her poor family who no doubt would.  Further proof, perhaps, that what the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over...

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

They wanna pave paradise and put up a 'Resource Recovery Park'...

I was feeling quite disillusioned and disheartened with the news that yet another waste plant has got planning permission from Northamptonshire County Council for Corby. 

That means we will have a gasification plant, a pyrolysis plant and an anaerobic digester.   

Then Chris Evans played Joni Mitchell's 'Big Yellow Taxi' on Radio2 this morning, and I thought, we've got to keep fighting this.

We've got to stop them destroying the trees at Brookfield Plantation for the 'Resource Recovery Park'.

We've got to do our bit to protect what bit of countryside we have left before it's too late.

We need the trees - the environmental report for the gasification plant even talks about the trees being a 'sink for pollution' - how exactly will they do this if they are felled?

Please, write to Corby Borough Council and tell them your objections to the Resource Recovery Park at Brookfield Plantation.

Objections need to be in by Friday 21st February, 2014.

Remember, you don't know what you've got till it's gone - they want to pave paradise and put up a 'Resource Recovery Park'...