11 08 2009

Last night I tried the Cayenne Pepper home remedy for sore throats.

The idea is pretty simple: boil some water, add a teaspoon of Cayenne pepper, gargle and repeat. Lots of people online claim this has worked, although I noted just before starting that all negative reports were dismissed as not having stuck with it for long enough – not a particularly scientific rebuttal.

The resulting broth is not the most inviting.

I gargled this for as long as I could stomach it and can report that mild tingling of the tongue is probably understating the effect of the Cayenne – if you don’t like spice don’t try this. Also: closing of eyes while gargling is pretty much essential as only a small amount in the eye produces a lot of discomfort. I speak from experience. It goes without saying the taste is vile.

After effects: aside from the eye not a great deal. As I stumbled through the kitchen, clutching my former optic nerves, it did occur to me that perhaps the cure involved a worse injury to distract from the soreness of the throat. The gargling helped remove the gunk from my throat but, to be honest, hot water on its own will do this – if gargled – and so I couldn’t say I noticed a difference. My chilli seemed to have more of an effect.

Anyway, I repeated the experiment this morning, just to be sure, and it just made me feel ill.

Tonight I will be trying Soy Sauce and Lime.

Don’t try this at home…

10 08 2009

I still have a lingering head cold/sore throat.

No, it’s not swine flu: I have no fever and nothing aches except my throat. However I am finding it all rather tiresome now and with my holiday fast approaching I don’t really want to go to spend my week off feeling like some one is ice skating down my throat.

And so, for your delectation and amusement, I shall be trying a natural remedy each day until this thing goes and report the results here.

First up, in a few hours, the Cayenne pepper gargle.

I will probably regret this.

Beware the voices…

3 06 2009

Things I learned today:

1. Cashew nuts drenched in honey are gorgeous.

2. Five hours is about my limit for continuous meetings before my brain goes gooey.

3. It’s a lot more pleasant running when it’s not so hot.

4. Listening to comedy on your iPod while running results in a severe loss of motor co-ordination that is problematic: tripping over feet, failing to see stationary objects and forgetting to breath between guffaws.

5. Also: the general public frowns on runners laughing inanely to themselves.

Who knew?


29 03 2009

Prayer for the Shiny:

Shiny, who art encased in metal or plastic,
Hallowed be thy circuitry.
Thy functionality amazes.
Thy reassuring weight soothes,
In pocket as it is in the hand.
Give us this day our free firmware patches.
And forgive us our hacks,
As we occasionally forgive those who leave bugs.
And lead us not into Microsoft,
But deliver us from DRM.
For thine is the shiny,
and the power-charger, and the eyestrain,
for ever and ever.
Ah, where’s my credit card?

Happy Birthday War

20 03 2009

It’s the sixth anniversary of the second war in Iraq. About all the excuse I need to post Mitch Benn’s video What I Quite Enjoy:

Mitch’s Iron Maiden pastiche from last week’s Now Show is a thing of beauty, you can probably still get it on iplayer or itunes. Mitch is also on Twitter, there are worse people to follow – me for instance.

Oh yeah

10 02 2009

Eddie Izzard at a premiereI forgot to mention that I had another celebrity spot the other day.

Last week I happened to cross paths with Eddie Izzard in the West End. On seeing Eddie last week I made no attempt to be cool, instead I just broke into a big shit-eating grin as he wandered past and remained in a ridiculously good mood the rest of the evening.

I first saw Eddie perform in 1997 on the Definite Article tour (I think – although it may have been Glorious) and I laughed so hard I think I tore something. I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

As I thought about it, I realised my reaction to comedians was noticably different to that of other people of note in that, regardless of whether they say anything, seeing a comedian cheers me up and makes me smile. Luckily for me, working where I do, I see quite a few (Noel Fielding, Jimmy Carr, Ricky Gervias, Lenny Henry, etc.). Bizarre. Wonderful. No doubt it’s some kind of psychosomatic reaction but…

How cool would it be to make people smile and laugh just by wandering past them?

Columbo Villain of The Week: Gordon Brown

28 01 2009

This one’s going out for regular commentator Laura – took me a while but I got here in the end.


Gordon Brown was born and raised in Scotland, his father was a church minister and his mother was called Bunty (NB – I haven’t started making things up yet: she really was Bunty Brown, wikipedia is never wrong). He has a PHD in history, worked in television (still not making this up) prior to entering parliament and famously came off worse in the whole Blair/Brown deal but rather better in the whole Alastair Darling Columbo Villain of the Week.

Over the years Gordon has spent time building his reputation on the idea that, as Chancellor, he presided over the longest period of sustained growth in British history and that he is ideally placed to steer us through this crisis. Oddly though he seems to have no idea as to what has caused this problem, no idea where the credit has gone or how to get it back. Now, I ask you: does this seem likely?

Let me refer you back to his PHD in History (something that should have led him to examine and analyse trends). Or perhaps drop in that he was fast tracked into university two years early and successfully muscled the slippery Tony Blair out of office, allowing him the office of Prime Minister unelected. No, ladies and gents, Gordon is not stupid.

He does, however, have a secret.

Yes, we can now reveal the truth: Gordon Brown is a troll.


Gordon got used to doing deals from a young age when wandering far from his bridge he came across the infamous Pictish Fae and struck an agreement where upon he would be able to pass for human in return for service for the Fae. They are his secret backers, they are his skeleton in the closet and they are the creatures who actually run the banking industry. Yes, all the time you were giving them money they were in fact hiving it off to their own lands and leaving you with a bunch of dried leaves and chipping away at the economy one note at a time.

In return, Gordon gets to be Prime Minister, he gets to be human and he more importantly: he gets to tell the English what to do. All would be well except, unfortunately, companies have started to realise their dried leaves are not as valuable as they thought and so they’ve had to let people go and they in turn have discovered their own leaves are not worth as much as the money they put into the bank. The Fae’s masterplan is revealed as they are left owning swathes of the country allowing them to expand the borders of their own realm…but there’s a problem.

The TUC is suspicious, as are the Tories, and so they call in Kenneth Clarke to help work out what has happened. Ken, suspects foul play but knows he needs to get to work on his tax return and so he applies classic overseas outsourcing. Through his affectation for cigars and this new fangled Interwebs thingy, he has met a US detective who shares his obsession for Cubans (I mean cigars – before the lawyers call), the perfect man for the job.

Gordon’s not worried though. He’s got the Fae backing him and, whilst he hasn’t seen them for a while and his glamour seems to be cracking a bit and now he comes to think of it his money also seems to have been replaced with leaves, he knows they won’t turn their backs on him. Sure, there was this funny note about them owning Number Ten now and him having ten days to move out but he’s pretty confident that’s one of their bizarre pranks. It will all be fine if he could just get rid of that annoying Amercian that keeps dropping ash all over his deskside statue of Harold Wilson – look there he is again and what’s that in his hand? Looks like a mirror…

By way of raising a smile

27 01 2009

The really rather enjoyable Mock The Week crew on Gordon Brown:

Don’t play poker with me

26 01 2009

gyygbde2Long time readers of this here blog will know that I have a long history of making a fool of myself in front of celebrities and people of note (the latter category frequently including writers). Today is no exception.

I didn’t set out to spot him. I am not a paparazzi, nor do I feel it necessary to accost people on the street for the autograph and to be honest all I really wanted was a sandwich, possibly a banana. What I got was an awkward pavement shuffle with Anthony Stewart Head as I tried to return to the office. Now, I thought I did a pretty good job of masking the whole OMG-it’s-him-that-played-Giles-on-Buffy-why-do-I-suddenly-want-to-drink-coffee-from-a-red-mug moment and adopted a Vulcan like exterior as I sidestepped him. Especially considering the long flowing coat he was wearing could have been straight out of the Giles costume cupboard. But judging from the look I got he must have caught my momentary lapse of recognition.

That’s right: he gave me the Uther Pendragon patented glower.

*sighs* At least I didn’t nearly kill him (Noel Fielding, bicycle, Oxford street, you get the idea).

Dear Southeastern

4 01 2009

Dear Southeastern,

Thank you so much for the notification on train fares rising.

It means so much to me that you think I, along with thousands of my fellow residents, can afford yet another above inflation rise in the price of my ticket that takes my travel costs to nearly a hundred pounds a month. Clearly you have a much higher opinion of me than either my bank or employer.

The gift of assumed economic status is nothing compared to your unparallelled generosity in consistently keeping me on the train in the mornings well past my expected time of arrival (pretty much every week in November) and thus preventing me from wasting my valuable time attending meetings that would only distract me from important matters of the day. You know: like whether I have a towel in my bag to wipe of the sweat from your lavish heating levels.

And it’s touching how concerned you are for my health. You’re quite right of course: being able to sit down on my way into work would be foolish and bad for my heart. Much better to stand and build up my immunity by breathing in my fellow commuter’s germs. Ah Southeastern: you are the line that just keeps giving.

In fact, so impressive is your service that sometimes you’re able to take the entire day off. Sometimes two or three times in a row. Naturally, during your sabbaticals,  I don’t expect you to make alternative arrangements for us mere mortals simply in order that we can go to work. As for safety – well who doesn’t enjoy a good punch up after a hard day’s work?

Personally, I think you do a fine job and that the South East of London is clearly a bastion of wealth, suffering in no way from crushing poverty, unemployent and under investment. Our glorious towers of classic 1950s architecture clearly show the flow of money through the hills of Woolwich, Thamesmead and the like. It is clearly nonsense to talk of the importance of the rising number of commuters being able to get into the city easily as having any impact on the economy of the region. Dear me, that would be like saying public transport has an impact on the economy as well as the environment.

Utter poppycock of course. Personally I can’t stand travelling by train in say France or Hong Kong. I mean what is someone supposed to do with all that space and clean air and if you arrive everywhere on time what do you do with all that extra time you have? Sell it?

So thank you Southeastern – I will give up my hundred pounds a month willingly. What’s that? A funny smell on the notes? Oh pay no attention to that, we’re simply in the process of improving your sensory experience of cash.


PS – Please find this chocolate log that I baked especially as a token of my appreciation.


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