Saturday, 25 April 2009

Death by Dibley

This weekend the TV channel G.O.L.D. (which apparently stands for Go On Laugh Daily...) is showing back-to-back episodes of The Vicar of Dibley. Sadly I won't be able to watch these as I'll be too busy sticking forks in my eyes.

Friday, 24 April 2009

The man with the never-ending surname

Yesterday, the video about our research into coincidences that Hannah liked so much made it on to the website of the Liverpool Daily Post. So up yours Hannah!

Speaking of coincidences, while looking for the link to the video on the Daily Post, I just took a look at the Daily Post's main page as that was where the video appeared yesterday. The video that appeared in its place today was about a launch event for something called CAUSE (Children's Aid Using Soccer Events) and featured former Liverpool and England footballer Steve McMananam. The coincidence? Somewhat bizarrely, when Rachel and I were enjoying a meal out on Monday this week, for Rachel's birthday, we recognised one of the large party at a nearby table as a famous footballer. Neither of us were able to remember his name at the time, but when we got home we did a bit of internet searching to discover it was none other than Steve McMananam.

Somewhat of a coincidence that Mr McManaman turns up twice in one week, once in person and once in an indirect link to this project via the Daily Post, don't you think?

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Everyone's a critic

As you know, I absolutely love Facebook. Can't get enough of it. So just as I posted about our horse-riding lesson last night, I was delighted to receive an email via Facebook informing me that Hannah Mowl had made a comment on a video of me on Facebook!

If you remember, the University's PR agency suggested we set up a group on Facebook (called 'Do you believe in destiny or chance?' in case you're interested) to help recruit people for a survey on meaningful coincidences that one of my students was conducting. Well they also suggested that a short video on the Facebook page might for some reason attract people. So they did an interview with me a couple of weeks ago, and posted the short video on the site at the beginning of this week.

And now Hannah Mowl had seen fit to post a comment about the video on the Facebook group page. How exciting! I immediately clicked the link that took me to the page to find out what insightful comments Hannah had made. Imagine, then, my surprise as I scrolled down the page to discover Hannah's one word review. The solitary word she had chosen to post to convey her innermost thoughts about the short film about our research project? "fanny".

Thanks Hannah! And I don't even know who Hannah Mowl is! That's what I love about Facebook. Now I can get the insults of complete strangers dropped straight into by email inbox. Cool, eh? I suppose I could be grateful that this is a fairly tame insult (and a step up from insults like "tosser" or "wanker" that I'm used to...) but who knows what future comments might bring?

If you're really keen to watch the offending video then you need to do no more than click here. I was going to say you could also read Hannah's scathing review but it seems as though it's been removed, but you can always leave your own insults!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Why the long face?

The last time I sat on a horse, I cried. I was probably about 9 years old at the time. My sister, Sally, went to horse-riding lessons and so my mum took me and my brother, Anthony, along too. The first few times Anthony and I would just play around while we waited for Sally to have her lesson, but eventually my mum thought it might be a good idea if me and my brother had a lesson at the same time. I don't really remember if we had a choice in the matter, but before we knew it we wearing hats and boots and were lined up next to each other on our respective horses. Sally was on her quite respectable looking mottled grey steed whose name I don't remember, Anthony was on a smaller, hairier, horse I think called Snip, while I was rested upon an animal that went by the name of Jason.

Now Sally, of course, was a more than willing participant in the lesson (indeed she was the reason we were there in the first place) and so no doubt found the whole thing rather enjoyable. Perhaps even fun. But my brother and I were more reluctant riders and so found it less enjoyable. Traumatic even. Anthony probably had the tougher horse as Snip seemed to have trouble seeing through his shaggy mane that fell over his eyes and would often stop half way round the ring to graze on the grass over the fence. My horse, Jason, seemed to be more up for it but paid little attention to what I was doing with the reins or my heels and decided to do whatever he fancied doing in whatever direction he fancied doing it. Which I personally think is fair enough. But you try telling the horse-riding teacher that. (I use the word 'teacher' but I think fascist cow is nearer the mark.) From the beginning to the end of each lesson she would shout her instructions from the centre of the ring, telling me that I was doing it all wrong. Hence the tears. (Hey, I was a sensitive kid.)

These memories re-surfaced today as I agreed to join Rachel for a horse-riding lesson. Yes folks, a horse-riding lesson. I've been reading Susan Jeffers' book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, so I thought what the heck! (And the fascist cow/teacher of 30 years ago must be retired, or even dead, by now right?)

When we arrived, the smell brought it all back to me. I could almost feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I actually felt a little nervous. And the pair of crutches beside the door of the reception office didn't help my confidence too much either. Still, Ms Jeffers would have been proud of me, as I followed Rachel into the office and found a suitably sized pair of riding boots and hat.

"Rachel, you're on Rosie", the woman behind the desk informed us. "Matthew, you've got Ed". She pointed across the stable yard to a black horse with a white streak down his face. I liked the look of Ed. As we led our horses out to the ring, Ed seemed very laid back, almost not caring. Did he not realise the demons I was exorcising?

Our teacher today was Geena. She was neither a fascist nor a cow. In fact she was really nice. She told us both (me and Rachel that is, not me and Ed...) how good we were doing and she was "very impressed" (her actual words mind) with my rising trot!

The entire lesson passed without a single tear. In fact, I had a smile on my face the whole time.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Men who...

I was looking for information about Jon Ronson's book The Men Who Stare at Goats, and so started to type the title of the book into Google. I got as far as typing "Men who" and of course Google, being Google, suggested the various ways in which this phrase might end. The first surprise was that the phrase I was actually wanting to search for "Men who stare at goats" came up as the first suggestion (with around 298,000 hits)! But I was more intrigued with the other suggested endings to the phrase. Google's second suggestion was "Men who cheat" with 14.7 million hits. Further down the list were the suggstions "Men who can't love" (100 million hits) "Men who have walked on the moon" (4.7 million hits) and "Men who knit"(968,000 hits). What stuck out, though, with 950,000 hits was the suggested phrase "Men who look like Kenny Rogers"!

It would seem that basically having a white beard is enough to count as looking like Kenny.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Blind leading the blind

What do you find yourself thinking about on those occasions when you wake up at 3am and can't get back to sleep? Sometimes it's the strangest things. Freya is teething at the moment and so tends to wake in the night crying. After getting up to settle her, I found I couldn't get back to sleep as my mind starts to ponder some of life's questions. Tonight my mind decided to mull over this little engima...

Those of you who also have young children will more than likely be familiar with the BBC channel CBeebies. One of the more recent additions to the fine range of programmes on CBeebies is called Me too! set in the fictional city of Riverseafingal which is a kind of composite city made up of bits of cities from around the UK. Amongst the array of characters is Rudi who runs a fruit and veg stall on the market. Now the first time I saw Rudi, I thought "he's not a very good actor! He's not even looking at the woman he's supposed to be talking to...". I then I realised there was a good reason for that. He's blind. But what confused me is that at no point do they refer to him being blind. He goes about his business, selling fruit and veg and exploring the confusing hybrid town that is Riversea Fingal as if he can see perfectly well. This confuses me (it's even keeping me awake at night!) so surely it's going to confuse pre-schoolers.

I wish I could get back to sleep.