EDitorial ± 30-Jul-2001

Talk Of The Town

Hey, according to Simon Kelner, editor-in-chief of The Independent, I live in "one of Britain's most exciting and dynamic towns". No, I've not moved. Yes, he is talking (or writing) about Ipswich, unbelievably.

This startling quote was lifted from a 20 page "Best of Ipswich" colour supplement that came free with the Independent on Sunday a week or so back. I suspect this was only the case in the East of England. I find it hard to imagine the good folk of Exeter, for instance, rushing round the newsagents in search of a copy and boosting the circulation figures. On the other hand I find it easy to imagine Mr Kelner using exactly the same phrase about Plymouth, say, in their own regional pull-out.

Cynicism aside, maybe you'd like to learn about "the top 50 places to go to in Ipswich"? If so, here's my retyped and reformatted guide to the Best of Ipswich (as nicked from the Independent). Just as well I can touch type perfecttly.

A church tower - we've got loads, doncha know

Always of interest, I think, to see what outsiders (including those from Bramford) make of the town. I've been here far too long to be objective about it. Don't know what it is, but it's strange the pull that the town has for those brought up round here. Even those that spend time living in other parts of the country often end up back here. Could be something in the Gipping.

I want to go back to my home town
Though I know it'll never be the same
— Home Town, Joe Jackson

There would normally be another paragraph here, but I've hammered this keyboard enough tonight and it's very late, and some of us need to be up for work in the morning. Ricicles to look forward to for breakfast.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 23-Jul-2001

Dream Kitchen

All action here at Broom Acres as the new East Wing slowly knocks itself into shape. Deep within the hard hat zoned-off area are to be found the first signs of a new kitchen (it's what we aspiring middle class folks do) that will also cunningly make the outside toilet inside. If you get my drift. We've spent a charming couple of hours tonight washing down plaster dust. Quality time.

Mama's gonna help build the wall

Reading that first paragraph back, you'd perhaps come away with the notion that I'm cool with the whole thing. That's not the case. Course there'll be obvious advantages to a new loo, never mind some shiny new work surfaces and a smattering of jaw-shatteringly pricy appliances. I can see that. Problem is that I'm not good with change. Full stop.

I like when it's different
But it's just not the same
— Buffalo, Stump
A couple of years back I was chatting to one of the senior managers at work. He was saying that he thrived on new challenges and situations, and quickly got frustrated doing the same job for six months. There was me saying and thinking the exact opposite. We agreed to differ.

So, watching the builder hack away at the (perfectly functional) cupboards the other morning wasn't pleasant. For starters, baby boy doesn't like too much noise, and soon ups his own volume to match. Here's a word: upheaval. I was a little happier once I'd found new places for the fridge and freezer, but I'll be happier still when the work's complete. Can't come soon enough.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 16-Jul-2001

The New Rock 'N' Roll

Serendipity's a great thing. Headed out at lunchtime for a caffeinated beverage only to find it raining, so took an executive decision to do the very short walk up the road to the coffee shop at The New Wolsey Theatre. Idly flicking through the new programme (Sep 2001 to Jan 2002), I struck gold. 'Cos John Hegley is coming to town! Well, I was excited.

Mr Hegley is a modern day poet. From Luton. With national health glasses. And a dog called Hessian. Years ago he had a spot on an Anglia TV what's-on programme. I vividly remember him doing a piece from Diss, where he turned the "i" into an "h" on the town sign. Remember the Department of Stealth and Total Obscurity? You had to be there.

Making his way up the meeja ladder, he went from local telly to Radio 5 to publishing books of his work to the giddy heights of his own show on Radio 4. In September, me and the missus will be seeing him in the flesh for the fourth time. Here's what I remember of the first three occasions:

John's Journals   Lowestoft, 1993-ish
The Marina Theatre? Drove with Gail and Stella in the middle of winter. Packed a flask of coffee and a big bar of chocolate in case we got stuck in the snow. John's backing band, The Popticians, were there, while the audience shouted out "amoeba!". Cold but good fun.
Writing his own name!   Colchester, 1994
Arts Centre, the converted church. Whatever year it was, that Saturday night was the first ever draw for the National Lottery. Nigel, his faithful guitarist and sidekick, played along in more ways than one. Last time seeing John Hegley BC (before children).
Makes little sense: Luton News   Ipswich, 2000
Bizarre gig, this one. Organised by the Ipswich Poetry Society, only found out about it at the last minute, and luckily got a babysitter. Odd venue behind the library. Just John. You have to hear him read his own work: it's all in the very de-lib-er-ate delivery.

Did I mention that he's a very funny chap? Go visit his newly launched website for a sampler of his poetry. It's most likely not the kind of verse you studied at school, which has to be a good thing. And, it occurred to me, two tickets (take a friend) still cost less than a single ticket to Portman Road.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 10-Jul-2001

Fillings, Nothing More Than Fillings

Let's start with another one of those popular I-found-something-in-my-mouth stories, shall we? Yesterday lunchtime, I was Enjoy-ing an icy mocha frappucino and snacking on a bag of Walkers tomato ketchup flavour crisps when, you'll never guess, my tongue detected a small foreign body.

Thinking that the usually reliable crisp-packing folk at Thurmaston had let themselves down, I extracted the gravel-like bit. Nope, wasn't a potato gone bad, but a piece of tooth (pictured). Before you defect to Golden Wonder or Asda's own, I should make it clear that the tooth was my own. I could tell this 'cos (a) the cold coffee didn't taste so good any more, and (b) the tip of my tongue had found a chasm in the bottom row.

Nothing but the tooth

Before you ponder on the kind of mind that pockets such an artefact and takes it home to the flatbed scanner, be grateful that you're seeing the more attractive side. Flipping it over reveals an unattractive lump of filling, most likely the result of orthodontics carried out the best part of twenty years ago. Ugh. Like the trooper I am, I gamely finished the crisps and even managed to down the unopened slice of chocolate cake in front of me. Shame to waste it.

Back in junior school, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was dentist's assistant. Odd that I didn't fancy the dentist's job, but the task of handing over those hideous instruments and refilling the mouthwash held a certain appeal. Maybe I couldn't see myself inflicting pain. Maybe I simply wanted to observe pain being inflicted. Discuss.

My preferred career choice changed once I had my bottom six front teeth taken out at the same time, under gas. To avoid overcrowding, I think. Lunch that day took the form of banana milkshake and vegetable soup, if memory serves, perhaps with a straw.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else
This won't hurt a bit:

  • I can't go wrong, 'cos my dentist is called Mr Wright
  • Pam Ayres: I wish I'd looked after me teeth
  • what time is it at a Chinese dentist's? Half-past two!

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 2-Jul-2001

Auction Man (Part 2)

It's been a busy week on ebay, "the world's online marketplace". I'm concerned that I might be hooked.
Item 1610025336
McDonalds Milo
As you may or may not have read here last week, I was in search of a Tweenie figure from McDonalds for my daughters. 'Cos if they're happy, I'm happy. And what should pop up on ebay but the one I wanted, a single Milo, no bids. Opening bid was 50p. Interestingly there was a Buy-it-Now! option for £1.00: in other words if you're prepared to pay that price, you can have it, and skip the auction. I went in hard at 50p, my very first ebay bid.

Wouldn't you know, a couple of days later an email arrived from ebay: you've been outbid for Milo, someone's come in with 55p! After considering my options, I decided to play it canny. You can give ebay the maximum amount you're prepared to pay, and ebay will automatically bid on your behalf up to this figure. So in went a max bid of 95p, bringing Milo back to me.

Unbelievably, with a day to go, I was outbid again! I left it late this time, and put in the new minimum bid of £1.20 with three hours to go. I was sad enough to watch the final five minutes of the auction on Saturday lunchtime, and fortunately I won. As I explained on an email to the lady selling him, the girls won't care too much about Milo being MIP (mint in packet) - the first thing they'll do is rip it open and start playing with him. Never mind.

Item 1158603427
Ipswich postcards
Having tasted blood, I struck again. Seeing some rather nice old b&w postcards of the town up for grabs, I had to put in an offer. It seemed sensible to use the proxy bidding feature once more, so I gave ebay a maximum figure with a day or so still to run. This worked out well, as someone tried to beat me to them in the final couple of hours, but they weren't prepared to exceed my price. Victory to me.
Item 1441658318
Radiohead Drill CD
Finally, if you remember, I had a little item up for sale myself last week. Bidding was brisk for the Radiohead single in the first couple of days, rising from £25 on Monday morning to £114 on Tuesday lunchtime. And there it stayed until Sunday night, when a last ditch attempt to take it hoisted the final selling price to £132! And yes, I am very happy with that, thank you very much.

Be seeing you!