EDitorial ± 22-Dec-2003

Snow Business

I won't keep you this week, since I'm sure we've all got better things to do. Even I believe it's too late to order online now. Step 1, buying stuff, largely completed. Step 2, wrapping stuff, underway.

Get any snow today? Kids very excited this morning with the modest overnight flurries. Here was the view from the front door as I left for work:

Scene outside Broom Acres at 8am today

Stopped en route to buy 24 Co-op mince pies for my full-of-festive-cheer co-workers. That's the kind of guy I am, ho-ho-ho.

Final mental exercise to keep your little grey cells active: create a four word poem whose initial letters spell out the word s-n-o-w. My best and only effort:


As Margo said in tonight's Good Life Christmas special, yuletide felicitations to you all!


EDitorial ± 15-Dec-2003

Leave It To Harry

I first came across one in a cafe in Orford sometime in the 90s. Looking back on it, I remember not knowing what to do with the thing, though there aren't exactly too many buttons or switches. Clue: John Shuttleworth pronounces the final two syllables of the word as the first name of Arsenal's Monsieur Henry.

Then, rifling through various unmarked VHS tapes the other night, I popped one in the machine, hit the triangle, and The Ipcress File began to play. The first three minutes show the brain drain in action as a chap who's been reading The New Scientist disappears on board a train. Cut to the sound of Harry Palmer's alarm clock.

Once he's found his trademark specs, what does he do? He puts the kettle on, fetches a tin of coffee beans, grinds a small amount, and puts a couple of spoonfuls into, you've guessed it, a cafetiere! And this is 1965!

Insubordinate, insolent, with possible criminal tendencies First, get your beans   The Americans have put a tail on Palmer. Have they? How very tiresome Put a handful in the grinder
And he doesn't even have my sense of humour Grind while still half asleep   You know, it's funny, if Radcliffe had been here, I'd have been a hero Next, grab your cafetiere
There's also Funeral In Berlin Add water, slightly off the boil   And Billion Dollar Brain, which is rather odd Allow to brew, then plunge
Shall we forget Bullet to Beijing? Pour ...   And also Midnight in St. Petersburg? ... and enjoy!

Granted he's meant to be a gourmet, not unlike Len Deighton, who wrote the book. And there's talk that one of the film executives did a deal with the manufacturers of the cafetiere to promote it. Plus Len's hands make their own appearance when breaking a couple of eggs, since Caine couldn't do this.

Even so, a cafetiere nearly 40 years ago — bodum's up!

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 8-Dec-2003

Not So Super Market

How was your weekend? Cold enough for you? Really ought to get around to finding my gloves and unearthing my winter coat from the uncharted depths of the coat rack. No matter: earlier today I popped this letter into the postbox.

——— start of letter ———

Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd
33 Holborn
London EC1N 2HT

Dear Sainbury's,

On Saturday 6th December 2003, I was walking back to my car in Ipswich town centre. I knew that my pay-and-display hour was nearly up, but I thought I had the time to nip in & out of your Upper Brook Street store. This was to be a costly decision.

In accordance with the provisions of section 112(2)(b) of the road traffic regulation act 1984 you are required to supply the full name and address of the driver of the vehicle at the stated time even if this was yourself. Oh yes.

Now, this was around 4.35pm, and the store was fairly busy. I found what I wanted — one box of doughnuts, 69p — and headed to the checkouts. Each line appeared to be two or three deep, so I joined the closest one. And waited. And waited. It was unfortunate that the person being served at that moment had bought a DVD, the actual disc for which had to fetched from who-knows-where. And then I glanced up to see a Sainsbury's sign:

Quicker queues! We're opening more tills to ensure you have a magical Christmas.

(I'm paraphrasing here, by the way.) Anyway, this was hanging over an unmanned checkout, i.e. no-one serving. I don't know about you, but it irritates me when companies say one thing and do another.

Pointing out the sign to a couple of your employees, I asked if the sign was meant to be ironic. They didn't comment and walked away. Still, I had a jolly chat with the chap behind me, and it only took another ten minutes to pay.

Can you see how the story ends? I got back to my car just before 5pm and spotted the Notice To Pay Excess Charge envelope under the wiper. This had been written out at 4.52pm according to the official ticket. Naturally I'll be coughing up within 7 days to reduce the £40 penalty to just £15.

Who knows, I may well have got back late anyway and still incurred the fine. And perhaps another time I'd have sailed through the tills. But I do know that on Saturday, I did not feel that Sainsbury's were "making life taste better".

Thanks for reading - I feel slightly better now,

Ed Broom

PS This letter is also at http://www.freston.net/edit/2003-12-08.html

——— end of letter ———

I'll keep you posted with their response.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 3-Dec-2003

No Sleep 'Til Nottingham

A dismally damp Saturday afternoon in late November, half-time in the footy — Cardiff 0 Ipswich 2 — and I'm setting out on a 300 mile round trip to see an up-and-coming electric beat group.

Named, I believe, after a track on a Talking Heads soundtrack album, these boys have recently been voted Best Act In The World by Q magazine, if you take that as a recommendation. For the third year in a row, natch. So it's destination Nottingham Arena (A14/A1/A52) to see the mighty Radiohead.

Muse were playing on the previous night. Busted later this week. Atomic Kitten next year. It's all happening in Nottingham.

At 7.30pm on the dot, Asian Dub Foundation, the night's support band, begin the construction of a very fine wall of noise. Can't make out too much of what they're saying though they don't seem too fond of (a) Bush, (b) Blair, nor (c) Bush & Blair. They sure ain't sitting on the fence, that much is clear.

Shortly before 9pm the 'Head take the stage and launch into the first of what will be many tracks from the latest album, Hail To The Thief, the mathematically contentious and compelling 2+2=5. Two hours and two encores later they exeunt, one at a time, to the sounds of electronic noodling, leaving a sated and spent crowd.

I try to sing along
I get it all wrong
— 2+2=5, Radiohead

Some personal highlights:

  • There There – both guitarists up front pounding the drums
  • Idioteque – I'll laugh until my head comes off, indeed
  • Sit Down, Stand Up – the raindrops, the raindrops, the raindrops
  • You And Whose Army? – seedy and sinister
  • and not forgetting Thom Yorke's CND T-shirt – where'd he get that from?!

Be seeing you!