Friday, 27 April 2012

Delivering a Kitchen

Our man Spyro having made up the new kitchen brought it on his truck and arranged for a cherry-picker forklift to raise it up to the first floor, where it is to be installed. This was at times a nail-biting operation as yer average Cypriot is pretty much not very bothered at all about Health & Safety issues. No attempt is made to divert or halt traffic whilst the forklift chap does his thing; and Kyriacou in the motor bike repair shop just carries on regardless despite the precariously balanced load hovering overhead. Meanwhile, all are completely oblivious to the power lines above, which carry 50 amps, and nobody wears a hard-hat.
Safety at work remains a high priority, according to the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance Sotiroula Charalambous

Euro 2012 Footy

The Premier League run in, the FA Cup Final, and the Champions League Final; it's all going to get a but frantic over the next month or so. There's two or three weeks off and then it will be the Euro 2012 Tournament.
UEFA have very kindly devised an interactive doodad setting out the Euro 2012 Fixtures. England are up against France on 11 June in Donetsk. You can't buy tickets at the moment, most having been sold already, but some tickets will become available 'in early May'. England v. France will cost you either 120, 70 or 30 euros plus booking fee, admin, secure delivery blah blah. The Final will be 600, 300 or 50 euros. The cheaper tickets are presumably intended for the local plebs who will no doubt be supplying the black market!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Lucky Di Matteo Parks The Bus

Older readers may recall what the erstwhile Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said when complaining about Tottenham Hotspur's tactics after they successfully frustrated in a 2004/2005 Premier League match:
"they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal"
Which is basically what Chelsea's approach to both legs of the Champion's League semi-final has been. Seven men in defence, with two midfielders and one striker helping out. Chelsea, however, have had all the luck, which their interim manage Roberto Di Matteo seems to have brought with him. They had three chances on goal over the two matches and scored on each of them whereas Barcelona had innumerable chances and scored only twice. Meanwhile, Barcelona failed to win - Messi tried to place his penalty above the keeper and below the bar and failed when enny fule kno it is easier to score by hitting the ball to the left or the right of the keeper. They persisted in playing delicate intricate football trying to pass the ball into the net, as anticipated by Di Matteo. They should have tried to surprise Chelsea by lobbing the ball over the top, or shooting quickly from distance. I have discussed the matter with Spyro and we are agreed that the Barcelona goal that was ruled offside was not. True football fans will recall Chelsea being awarded a goal against Spurs which did not cross the line, and which John Terry admits was not a goal. Lucky Matteo.
One bright spot to emerge though is that the aforementioned Arch-thug and Cheater General John Terry was caught at last, assaulting Sanchez from behind, and given a straight red card so he will miss the final, along with Meireles, Ramires and Ivanovic, thus making the task a bit easier for either Bayern Munich or Real Madrid.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Counter Terror Expo

"An yll wynde that blowth no man to good, men say." - John Heywood, A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, 1546.
He was a lousy speller but Mr Heywood has hit the biscuit with the apostrophe so far as the 'war on terror' is concerned. You still have a couple of days in which to attend the Counter Terror Expo at Olympia, London where you will find all manner of dedicated professionals and businesses eager to sell you armoured vehicles, kevlar vests, CCTV, various weaponry and so forth to assist you in dealing with the terrorist threat:
"Counter Terror Expo features a highly relevant centrepiece conference designed to deliver insight, analysis and perspective to current threats, an extensive and highly specialised programme of workshops developed to offer an in-depth examination of specific issues and provide a focused forum for debate, as well as one of the largest showcase exhibitions of its kind anywhere and which attracts the leading vendors globally."
I must say it was jolly nice of the late Osama Bin Laden to have inspired the development of this particular branch of globalised economic development! No doubt the exhibitors have taken steps to ensure that none of these scheming Al Q'Aeeda chappies attend their workshops icognito in order to check out the counter-measures to their measures so that they can counter the counter-measures. And, of course, it's a complete coincidence that all the equipment and expertise on sale might also be used by an oppressive government to suppress legitimate civil unrest. But I shouldn't be so cynical; no doubt the vendors think carefully about to whom they are selling their products.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Bert Weedon is no more...

In the late Fifties and early Sixties anyone who fancied learning to play the guitar inevitably bought a copy of 'Play in a Day' by Bert Weedon. Not many were really sure who he was but you might have spotted him guesting on some crummy TV programme or heard him, unknowingly, playing as a session man on some record or other, making up for the technicall shortcomings of the average pop star of the time. But his book 'Play in a Day' was pretty much the only teach-yourself guitar tutor book around, so everyone from Eric Clapton to Alf Coggins started off with that. These days, of course, they teach rock n'roll guitar in school and you can get a degree in how to be a pop star. Back then it was just you and your friends and Bert.
Sadly, the inestimable Mr Weedon has passed away aged 91. I guess there will be many guitarists - professional or amateur - who will reflect on the memory of Mr Weedon with affection.


No keeping the Sabbath Day holy for this lot! Eight o'clock this morning and work resumed, smashing walls down and clearing up. By about half three they were all done, and ready for the building phase to begin tomorrow with a delivery of concrete at 7.30 am. Why didn't we know about these fellows when we did the previous project?


Any road up, peeps, the lads got cracking and here's what the place looked like yesterday evening after two days work. Bathroom and toilet cleared, and a start made on the new plumbing and kitchen semi-demolishificated. Dust everywhere!

Saturday, 21 April 2012


Wonders will never cease!
Dodgy plumbing in the old bathroom necessitates renewal of the pipes (as the Bishop said to the Actress) and this has brought forward El Presidente's plans to substantially revise both the bathroom and kitchen. This involves engaging some local artisans of various specialities and expertise and, fortunately, we know a plumber who is the son of El Presidente's mother's erstwhile schoolfriend. El Prez forewarned him of the project prior to our present visit to our colonial estates and so when she contacted him on our arrival he was on the spot, with a builder chum, within hours to firm up the arrangements. "When can you start work" asked El Prez. "Oh, tomorrow" says Mr Plumber. Now then usually when a Cypriot says tomorrow it could mean anything; this week, next week,Monday afternoon, who knows?
But blow me down and call me a national disaster, at 8 am the following morning there they were! And work got underway immediately. My eyebrows leaped several centimetres! Of course, this has meant that El Prez and I too have had to get cracking, ordering supplies, clearing furniture and valuables out of the way and so forth. So yesterday was a long day involving interminable visits to tile shops, bathroom shops and...IKEA. But don't get me started on my views of the IKEA shopping experience...let us enjoy this moment of unaccustomed Cypriot alacrity!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Take A Nap, Sherlock!

This person is in the running for a Well Done, Sherlock! award. Dr Sara Mednick, who has a Phd in Psychology from Harvard and is a researcher and faculty member at the University of California, has figured out that taking a nap in the afternoon can be quite refreshing. She's even written a book about it, available from our tax-dodging friends at Amazon for a mere £8.99.
Her researches have revealed, amongst other things no doubt, that there is an appropriate time during the day, which is related to the time you woke up, to take 'The Ultimate Nap'. This is a perfectly balanced state in which REM and slow-wave sleep are equally proportioned. There's a nifty little Flash animation on her website that you can use to work out when this will be in your particular case. This assumes, of course, that you have had an unbroken night's sleep and Dr Mednick does not explain on her website what to do if this is not the case. Should one take a nap according to the first time you woke up or the latest? Or a nap for each waking up? I guess we'll have to buy the book to find out.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

River Cafe

El Presidente and myself were treated to lunch a few days ago at The River Cafe. So called, presumably, because it is on the banks of the River Thames just downriver from Hammersmith Bridge.
It's a bit posh, although not pretentious, and specialises in Italian food. HIghly recommended.  It's not cheap but the food is of excellent quality. Set menu of four courses was £39 and the aperitif of the day was £9, which is more than I would usually spend on an entire bottle of wine...
We did take some photos of the grub, but El Presidente's phone camera has gone on the blink and lost them so you'll just have to use your imagination. Tre Crostini di Tuscano, Tortellini di Ricotta e Pinoli, Mozarella di Buffali, Risotto, Branzin ai ferro, Maiali al Latte, Panacotta with grappa and raspberries, and Affogato, amongst other things, were consumed. Spiffing!

Tower of Power

Another works outing t'other day to KoKo in Camden Town for the last concert of their European Tour by Tower of Power, the world's hippest, funkiest, most groovymost soul band in existence. These chaps have been around for ages and are getting older and fatter as time goes by but they sho' kin kimbo nonetheless. Zillions of funkateers have passed through the ranks of the band which is centred on Emilio Castillio (tenor sax) and Steve Kupka a.k.a. The Funky Doctor (baritone sax). Here's a video of the current lineup, playing recently at the North Sea Jazz Festival. This song 'What Is Hip' is pretty much their signature tune and facilitates the part of the show where the dudes get the audience to join in. There are other key points - search YouTube for 'Diggin on James Brown', for example. Any road up, a jolly spiffing evening at a classy venue. Support was by a band called The PB Underground who were reasonably funky too, but just a tad too busy and loud.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Tory Half-Wits (cont'd.)

Sorry guys, but three half-wits don't make a whole one either.
Francis Maude, believe it or not, is a qualified lawyer and QC! Cripes, they let anyone in these days! Mind you he only spent six years practising as a lawyer before going into politics full-time, following in his Dad's footsteps, so perhaps we're twigging something there. Either he wasn't much good as a lawyer or he was only doing it to acquire some independent credibility as a prospective Tory candidate.
Any road up, in an effort to divert attention from the stink created by Mr Cruddas, Cameron (or one of his teen-aged advisers) thought he would dive in and stir up some trouble around the current dispute between the tanker drivers and their various employers about minimum pay and conditions. He figured that as it is the Unite trade union that is involved and they support the Labour Party, he was on to a winner and could cause massive embarrassment to Ed Milliband. But in his typically half-baked way he failed to figure out that Unite was nowhere near calling a strike - they had merely balloted their members on whether or not to take industrial action, as required by law. And even if a strike were to be called there has to be seven days notice. Talks got going today through ACAS.
For one reason or another, Francis Maude was nominated as the chump to take forward the plan for alarm and despondency. Not the Secretary of State for Energy, or the Secretary of State for Transport. Not even the Business Secretary. But Maude, the Cabinet Secretary. Funny that.
Well, as we've seen the whole thing was entirely bogus - there has been no strike but nonetheless thousands of dimwits have been panicked into queueing up for petrol and to keep their tanks topped up, thereby causing the fuel shortage they were all afraid of. Maude took it the extra mile with his stupid advice about keeping a jerry can in the garage. Duh! Even the Tory-friendly media have figured it out and suggested that the whole episode was manufactured as a distraction.
What's really depressing about it is that so many people allowed themselves to be conned into panic buying fuel. Perhaps this explains how it is that half-wits like Maude and Cameron mange to get elected to office in the first place.

Tory Half-Wits

Unfortunately for David Cameron and the Conservative Party, two half-wits don't make a whole one.
These two self-important dunderheads, Sarah Southern and Peter Cruddas, are the twonks who have landed Lord Snooty and his pals in the soup. And the fish course, entree, dessert and cheese board.
Sarah Southern is a jumped-up wannabe who, she claims, somehow or other persuaded Cameron to take her on as an 'adviser' or 'aide'. Actually, she's just done several odd jobs around Conservative Central Office such as 'event manager', and as 'operations manager' for the No to Av campaign. She has also done time as the national organiser for the Young Conservatives. She set herself up as a lobby consultant last June and boasting of her links to Cameron, introduced the Sunday Times journalists to another of Lord Snooty's pals, Peter Cruddas.
Cruddas is the twerp who offered to get the journalists invited to dinner at No 10 in return for a 'donation' of £250,000, and hence (allegedly) provide some bottom-up input into government policy. Cruddas is a different kind of jumped-up wannabe;  he has actually got loadsamoney that he made himself, despite his humble origins in a Hackney council estate. So he deserves some credit for dragging himself up materially at least, notwithstanding that he made his money through financial transactions in the foreign exchange money markets (he makes gambles on the ups and downs of the currency markets). And fair dos, he is quite a philanthropist, having given away millions to charities to help disadvantaged youths like what he was.
It is no surprise therefore to find that he is close to David Cameron who has been staunch in protecting the interests of the financial sector, in particular by refusing to even contemplate a 'Robin Hood Tax' which would cost the likes of Cruddas a fair whack of moolah. Nor is it much of a surprise to learn that Cruddas was 'non-dom' for tax purposes prior to making massive donations to the Conservative Party in the run up to the 2010 General Election. However, even if he is now liable to pay UK taxes, he can now look forward to paying 5% less, thanks to the recent budget changes. So he knows a thing or two about influencing Conservative Party policy.