Commuting Gems…Recycling’s Foot Soldiers

Sometimes inspiration come from the most unlikely places.

Tucked into my seat on the train earlier this week, flicking through The Metro with the patter of raindrops on the window in the background, I came across this…

No it’s not a version of MJ’s Bille Jean video souped up for the cyber generation. It’s actually the latest and greatest in the harvesting of natural energy sources.

Pavegen is the brainchild of Laurence Kemball-Cook, a young British entrepreneur who has combined a recycled rubber and polymer mix with a hybrid kinetic energy-harvesting system. Stepping onto the ’tile’ generates between 5 and 8 joules of electricity – a small percentage of this is used to the light the tile while the majority is either stored in a battery or powers the surrounding area.

It might sound like small potatoes but Kemball-Cook took a Pavegen dancefloor to Bestival last year where the grooves of 50,000 festival-goers charged 1,000 mobile phones. They have been installed (Pavegen that is, not the festival-goers) permanently at a school and more recently at Westfield Stratford City.

It’s extraordinary and exciting stuff. Imagine…our ‘energy output’ collected and tranformed into a unique – and boundless when you think about it – source of electricity. 

Brings a whole new meaning to the term recycling, doesn’t it?


I went to the theatre last night. Another super deal in the Metro tempted me to the Wyndham Theatre in Charing Cross Road to see Abigail’s Party. So I headed on in after work and had a quick bite to eat before making my way around the corner, into the theatre and up the stairs to my seat in the Royal Circle.

The scene below brought back memories of growing up in the 70s: bold patterned wallpaper (we had the most…ahem, extraordinary black and white geometric pattern on our kitchen walls when I was a kid), shag pile carpet and orange, orange, orange…

The play follows its five protagonists who gather to while away the hours as Sue’s 15 year old daughter hosts her own party down the street. Laurence and Beverly host, complete with nuts, cheesy pineapple sticks and copious amounts of alcohol, and give the audience a sense of their toxic relationship right from the outset.

Before long, the new neighbours arrive. Tony, handsome and morose, sparks a predatory gleam in Beverly’s eye, and Ange, gauche and outspoken, seems to say all the wrong things at the most inopportune times. Long-time resident Sue arrives last, conservative and mousey. And so this freakish five are left to careen slowly towards the play’s shocking climax.

Mike Leigh has the ability to cut to the very heart of our human foibles.

Selfish, opinionated Essex girl Beverly is hell-bent on her gin-fuelled binge while Ange faux-pas her way through several G&Ts herself as she tries valiantly to fill the uncomfortable silences. And the men? Well Tony stays stoic under Beverly’s lascivious eye and Laurence flaps about, swinging between conciliatory concern for his guests and violent fury at his wife. And Sue tries, politely yet unsuccessfully, to stay aloof from them all. The whole evening is just awkward.

And absolutely hilarious.

I am told that no-one does Beverly like Alison Steadman, but for the rest of my life, I don’t think I will ever forget Jill Halfpenny, gyrating on the cream shag rug in her mint green maxi dress…to Demis Roussos.

The end is not all happy-happy and tied up with a bow and I did leave the theatre thinking it was all over with a whimper rather suddenly. But that certainly didn’t detract from a very entertaining and laugh-out-loud kind of evening.

Even if it was all a little bit…aaaaawkward.

Bookings are open up to 1st September but if you are anything like me – marking something mentally that I’d like to see, then never getting around to booking until it’s finished that is – you should google theatre deals and Abigail’s Party and get yourself along…

…or before you know it, it’ll be curtains.

On The Move…

It’s Sunday again and I have been sitting here wondering what to post about.

Should I take inspiration from this week’s train reading and have a little muse about the lack of female role models?

Should I have a little rant about table manners and that the situation has become so grim that London’s Kensington Hotel has taken it upon themselves to educate the nation’s little savages with Petite Etiquette?

Should I express my incredulity that during the week, I learned (via a translated snippet from April’s ‘Emballages’, a French Packaging Magazine) that in February the French Ministry of Ecology decreed that teabags were not packaging? (It may surprise you to know that there was quite a debate at work over this.)

Or should I convey my wonderment and excitement that the sun is indeed shining this weekend. All weekend. That includes yesterday when I spent a couple of hours outside and accomplished this…

Aaaah…such pretty paws!

All riveting stuff I can assure you…or it would become so under my fleet-fingered tap-tap-tapping.

But the birds are singing and the sun is out (did I mention that it’s sunny?) and I have removed myself from my usual blogging locale in the Gidday HQ lounge room to here…

…because I have a bright shiny new laptop!

I can’t decide what I am more excited about.

That I don’t have to pedal hard to coax the old desktop into doing what I want – quite frankly, the number of times it has given up the ghost three quarters of the way through a post and made such a mess of what was saved that I’ve had to type it again. You guys should think yourselves lucky I’m addicted to sharing this blogging caper.

Or that I can surf from the comfy couch. Or anywhere in Gidday HQ for that matter (although the wifi signal did just drop out…)

Or that it goes fast. Really fast. Like 6GB fast. With lots of tabs open and stuff.

So I am tap-tap-tapping away as the birds sing and the sun shines through the french doors into the back room at Gidday HQ today…

…just because I can.

And for all of you doubting Thomases (is that the correct pluralisation for more than one doubting Thomas?), I would like to draw your attention to the date/time stamp on the photos to prove that it is really sunny today. Gloriously so…with a forecast top temperature of 19C.

So I’m off into the great outdoors again before it all disappears…

One In A Million…

A week or so ago I was flicking through the Metro newspaper on the train to work when a headline caught my eye – The Science Of Falling In Love. Apparently there are more than 15 million singletons in the UK (or there were on the 29th March at any rate). I had no idea I was part of such a large contingent.

While the article turned out to be a glorified advertorial for dating site, e-harmony, I was mildly horrified at the statistic that 4 in 5 people lie about their age, weight and height online. Not that they lie – although while not surprised, I do find that a little perturbing – but that they feel they must in order to attract a partner.

Has our online world really forced us down such a shallow path? I mean I love a flattering profile pic as much as the next person but to lie about the essentials seems a little counter-productive. Doesn’t it all come out in the wash if things go well?

And I do mean the wash. Let’s talk about Spanx for a minute. For those of you who have been living under a rock don’t know, Spanx is a brand of body shaping undergarment – control pants or fixit knickers if you will – that boost the butts, trim the thighs and nip the waists of women (and some men) the world over. By all accounts these garments can reduce you by up to a dress size. (Blokes reading this should substitute whatever the equivalent for yourselves is here.) It seems that humankind seeks to emulate some idealistic form – whatever that may be – that will give us the best chance of attracting a mate. 

Whether that be for one night only or for many nights to come, my point is this. Eventually it comes off, leaving what you previously squeezed into some fairly uncomfortable underwear, out there in all its glory.

There’s knowing how to make the best of what you’ve got – I’m a pear-shaped, short-legged sheila so let’s just say skinny jeans are not my best friend – but this body shaping stuff is supremely uncomfortable. The pragmatic side of me also wonders whether this means that we need a wardrobe in two sizes – under control and out of control.

So where is the line? I could go on for ages here – there’s makeup, body treatments (from fake tan to cosmetic enhancement), hair extensions and even the humble WonderBra – and I’ve tried a few. But in considering singledom from my view of the world as a participant in the marketing profession (yes there’s another little snippet about me for you), is there a whiff of caveat emptor in today’s dating landscape? How far should one go to attract attention before the advertising becomes misleading and deceptive?

I’m told it’s just a numbers game and you’ve got to be ‘in it to win it’. But is it really…

…or is it possible to employ a little creative license, get lucky and beat the odds?

Commuting Gems…No Kidding

Today I was flicking through my freebie copy of the Metro newspaper on my way into town for a meeting when I came across the ultimate ‘pampered pets’ story.

Some dude has decided to make his menagerie feel right at home…

Source: Image: Caters

Apparently it’s also inspired a Goats Do Roam range of vinos…

I kid you not.

Important ps:
By the way, there are only 10 sleeps to go now so enough of that sitting on the fence peeps -it’s time to make a play for the Naughty or the Nice list. Santa can’t wait forever and you know how I feel about creating your own destiny and all that…

Forgive Me…I Need To Get This Off My Chest

I had planned to post this week on some of my birthday exploits but I can’t get past the rioting that has been flaring up all over London so forgive me while I get this off my chest.

On Sunday morning I emerged sleepy-eyed to see a text from Mum asking if I was OK.  ‘OK?’ I thought. ‘What on earth is she talking about?’

Then I turned on my computer.  Rioting. Looting. In London. Specifically in Tottenham.  Was this right?  How could this be?  Ensconsed in my flat on the other side of London, it just didn’t seem real.

Since, like the rest of the world, I have woken each morning to the news of behaviour I can hardly believe.  Hackney. Enfield. Ealing. Clapham. Brixton. Bristol. Birmingham. Manchester.  Cars set alight. Shop windows smashed.  Items snatched from shelves and carried down the street aloft like trophies. 

Pictures on Twitter, in the papers, on the news – looking more like a war-zone (not that I know what this would really look like). 

Stories of looters bragging of ‘taking from the rich’, stealing hard-earned livings from strangers, swaggering with arrogance and disrespect and entitlement.

How did it come to this?  What did we do as a society (that’s all of us) to bring this on ourselves?

I have been in turn appalled, disbelieving, disgusted, angry and deeply shocked – but mostly I am sad.  Sad that hard work and building a life is dismissed in such a cavalier fashion by those who think that the rewards are owed and there to be demanded at will.  Sad that businesses must close to protect their staff, that people are frightened in their own homes, that schools must send our children – the ones who will shape our society in the future – home.  What an abysmal example to set – that behaving in such cowardly and criminal ways clears the path for getting what one wants.

And while I’m still reeling from this, I am also heartened by the way that local communities have banded together to support those affected (on Twitter you can check out @riotcleanup).

9th August 2011 – Clapham’s Broom Army
(Picture: @Lawcol888)
10th August 2011 – Peckham Poundland’s Post-It Wall
(Picture: Getty Images)

But in the end I just really wish it wasn’t necessary.

15 Sleeps To Go…Science At Its Best

One of the perks of temping for me is reading the Metro newspaper every morning over a quiet, pre-work soya cappuccino. It’s one of those free papers you get here in London if you are out and about early enough on a weekday and can manage to snaffle one before they all disappear (usually by about 7.30-7.45am). You really only need it for about 15 minutes and its combination of…well…interesting stuff provides a trashy and mindless read to get the brain just out of the trauma state induced by getting up so goddamn early and standing armpit to armpit with total strangers on the tube.

Anyway, I was quite startled to learn about the intricacies of camel courting this morning in the following snippet:

Hmmm…let me see…lip-curling dispalys of affection, a ‘certain ‘coolness’ in the morning…starting to sound ominously like some of the dates I’ve had.

However, imagine how excited a fella would be to have an ‘internal fridge’…be just another place to store the beers really…

Australian experts my a**e!!