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AA GILL IS AWAY

As Private Eye‘s  satirist poet, E. J. Thribb (17½)  would say, “So. Farewell then AA Gill” who passed away today.

Gill was the UK Sunday Times’ restaurant critic but was also a reviewer of travel, TV programs and such. He was extremely witty and controversial. Amongst the things he wrote [From the BBC news]:-

In October 2009, he described how he had shot a baboon while in Tanzania, prompting outrage from animal rights groups.

In 1998, he described the Welsh as “dark, ugly little trolls” – a comment that was referred to the Commission for Racial Equality – while he once described Rhyl as “a town only a man driving a crane with a demolition ball would visit with a smile”.

In a critical review of a Norfolk pub, he referred to the county as the “hernia on the end of England”, while in 2006 he upset residents of the Isle of Wight by saying it “smelled of boiled washing”.

In 2010, he was censured by the former press watchdog having written a review of Clare Balding’s 2010 Britain by Bike TV programme, in which he described her as a “dyke on a bike”.

He was also once thrown out of one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants, along with his dining partner, actress Joan Collins.

As someone who knows the Welsh very well, he has a point. There are a few trolls out there.

But let’s remember Gill for his travel writings. I recommend you read his 2012 review of London in the New York Times  “My London, and welcome to it”. It was  written by a Londer and aimed at American’s visiting prior to the Olympics.

I’m sorry, but they’re not here anymore. No city’s exported image lags so far behind its homegrown veracity than London’s, so let’s start with what you’re not going to find. We’re all out of cheeky cockneys, pearly kings and their queens, and costermongers. You’re not going to find ’60s psychedelia and the Beatles in Carnaby Street. There aren’t any punks under 50 on the King’s Road; there are no more tweedy, mustachioed, closeted gay writers in Bloomsbury, no Harry Potter at King’s Cross. There aren’t men in white tie, smoking cigars outside Pall Mall clubs and there isn’t any fog, but you can find The Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker St.

A lot of London’s image never was. There never was a Dickensian London, or a Shakespearean London, or a swinging London. Literary London is best looked for in books, and in old bookshops like Sotheran’s on Sackville Street. One of the small joys that’s easy to miss in London is the blue plaques. These are put up to commemorate the famous on the houses they lived in. You won’t have heard of a lot of them, but some come as a surprise. There are quite a few Americans and some amusing neighbors. Jimi Hendrix lived next door to Handel.

London is a city of ghosts; you feel them here. Not just of people, but eras. The ghost of empire, or the blitz, the plague, the smoky ghost of the Great Fire that gave us Christopher Wren’s churches and ushered in the Georgian city. London can see the dead, and hugs them close. If New York is a wise guy, Paris a coquette, Rome a gigolo and Berlin a wicked uncle, then London is an old lady who mutters and has the second sight. She is slightly deaf, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

A bit like some folks at Roam.

While he could be a bit of a wanker, I liked AA’s style and can’t wait to hear what he thinks about his trip across the river Styx.

Boudica.


Some things brought up in the NYT article that I have not visited and look interesting.

Long to rain over us

My great escape from Houston floodsI’m SO tired of the storms and floods we are are getting around the Houston area and so it was with pleasure, that I snagged a short notice business trip to Munich starting tomorrow.

Ah, Europe in the summertime. I can picture myself sitting in a beer garden with Hendl, a Maß of Helles while watching the sun go down around 9 pm.

It was with dismay that I look at the weather forecast and see the weather is as bad in Europe as it is in Texas.

They also have their floods where 5 died in Bavaria recently. Paris is also flooded which just adds to the misery of having to face all the strikes.

My second week I plan to go to UK where the weather there is being reported as being colder than christmas day.

Oh Bugger it. Perhaps I’ll be substituting that helles for glühwein.

Taiwanese triple tales

Betelmania in Taiwan

So farewell to my colleague Albanius who retired today. It made me think about the time that both of us went to Taiwan on business trip over a decade ago. Three things come to mind:

  1. Taxi to our hotel: As many people did not speak English, we were advised to have someone write the name and address in Chinese on paper and take that with us. We handed that paper to taxi driver at the airport and off we went. We sat in slow traffic for a while and the taxi driver turned off next exit and drove us to our hotel. Hey looks nice, we thought and had the valet unload our bags and take us to the front desk. We got a receipt from the driver and because we had sat in traffic, we gave him a good tip. At the front desk, they had no record of us as guests. We protested and handed over our booking documents: That is not this hotel sir. Yep, he deliberately took us to the wrong hotel.
  2. The jade market: On Saturday afternoon, we had time to kill so we have quite a few beers. I did note that Albanius got very merry, very quickly. “Let’s go to the jade market” he said with a bit of a slur and not having a better alternative, I agreed. It actually turned out better than what I expected and I bought some Chinese hand painting. Albanius on the other hand was on a jade hunt for his wife. He liked something but didn’t have enough cash to buy it so I lent him money to buy it.
  3. Betel nuts: For the life of us, we could not work out what the pretty looking girls in bikini’s skirts  were selling in those roadside small shops/ outlets – see the internet picture as an example. We didn’t think a conservative society like Taiwan would permit sex workers to be so openly pursuing business but we remained curious about. We even asked around what was going on and nobody could explain it back to to us. We eventually read about it: they were selling Betel nuts which are a mild stimulant used by many drivers. PS: remember kids, if anyone offers you betel nuts, just say no : It isn’t good for you.

When back in the US, I gently reminded Albanius that he owed me money. Would you believe it that the Chiseler denied all knowledge of ever borrowing money and claimed he had bought it himself: He would have remembered borrowing money he said ! It then occurred to me that since he wasn’t much of a drinker, he probably doesn’t remember much about the jade market anyhow so there was no hope there. Still it was some consolation to find out that the expensive preesent he had bought for his wife with the help of MY MONEY, got broken intransit. Thank you travel gods – Karma.

Augustus.

Lando hope and glory: Memoirs of a Super Typhoon

Cleopatra's emergency rations

my emergency preparations for Lando.

Dahlings, I know you’ve all been worried sick about me so I should update you on my little business trip in the Philippines. It turned out that the others who were flying to meet me, bailed on me after looking at the weather alert. Something about a Super-typhoon being one of the worst ever made them change their mind.

So there I was. Jilted at the altar hotel due a major storm heading my way and staying in the city that was projected to be an epicenter for 40+ inches of rain.

I naturally called up my local work colleagues as asked I should get back to Manila in order not to be stuck here in the aftermath. “Oh no, it will not be that bad. You should still visit us on Monday. Roads will be driveable on Tuesday.”, they cheerfully said.

Being a bit skeptical, I decided to stay since I had come all that way and may as well get something out of it. Decision made: I would have a short meeting on Monday morning and be on the road by lunchtime and even get back 1 day earlier than planned.

Saturday I bought a weather jacket and stocked up with essentials in case of power outage in my mini-bar:- see my picture. Saturday night the rain started and on Sunday, the strong winds came. By evening it had stopped. I had survived my first typhoon. Nothing to it.

Except it started again Monday morning and got progressively worse. Continue reading..

The Wrath of Genghis Khan video

Genghis Khan – still causing trouble after all these years.

In the news was the strange story about Chinese security who arrested 20 tourists from Britain, South Africa and India. The tourist were traveling as a party and were 30 days into a 47 day organized tour of China when officials accused them of being linked to a terror group and watching propaganda videos in their hotel room.

A few days later the tourists apparently ‘confessed’ and were deported without charge. It was claimed by some in the group that it was a misunderstanding where the video was a BBC documentary about Genghis Khan.

Sounds like the script to a 1970’s sitcom doesn’t it?

However, when you try to dig out the details of the story from UK and South African press, it turns more into a story of political intrigue that leaves quite a few open questions unanswered. Continue reading..

In the heat of the moment

James McElvar: a bit overdressed for his travels

Dahlings, yet another pop star wanna be, James McElvar from ‘boyband’ REWIND, passed out on an EasyJet flight and violently threw up on board. An ambulance was called and after treatment, McElvar thankfully turned out ok.

The EasyJet was going from Stanstead to Jimmy’s home town of Glasgow.

This story was absolutely shocking in that it was NOT about the Stereotype Scotsman getting paralytic drunk by mid afternoon and passing out.

NOR was it about another Stereotype of an unruly misunderstood pop star diva experiencing the uhm, high life.

Instead, we need to keep an open mind. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the evidence:

  • The reason Jimmy passed out was due to heat exhaustion.
  • The reason Jimmy had heat exhaustion was that he was wearing 12 layers of clothes.
  • The reason Jimmy was wearing 12 layer of clothes was that he didn’t want to to pay £45 to check in one of his pieces of hand luggage.

Move along there now. No Scottish Stereotypes to see here. Aye, right!

Ciao for now,
Cleo.

Hello Sharkness my old friend

Something Fishy going on in North Carolina.  copyright www.canstockphoto.com

Something Fishy in North Carolina.

The Caesars are vacationing up on the North Carolina coast with the greater Caesar family. We’ve been on the beach a few times but have noted the news about shark attacks.

As of 3rd July, there have been seven people attacked in the past three weeks alone where the latest was a 68 year old man in waste deep water off Ocracoke Island on the outer banks.

Wanting to see where the attacks are happening, I called up a google map of North Carolina. They are not near to where I am staying near Atlantic Beach area but what’s that tree logo in the sea?  The Mid Atlantic Shark Area – What the fire engine ! No wonder. 

Map of North Carolina

North Carolina Shark park

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curious about significance of these attacks, I looked up University of Florida records who track Shark attacks. I was surprised to see that Florida was the highest location for sourcing shark attacks. In fact, New Smyrna Beach – south of Daytona – is the place where most of these occur. Continue reading..

TSA Stockholm syndrome

While coming back through Detroit airport, I got to experience the fun of the TSA at their finest.

I am not sure if they have new equipment of what, but in the line I went through they required you NOT to remove anything from your backpacks. Nor did they want you to remove your belt. Shoes were to stay on.

This confused a lot of passengers including me.

The response to puzzled looks and questions about this procedure, got the same old bored tone response “Do NOT to remove laptops from your bags. LEAVE shoes on. LEAVE your belts on. HOLD you keys or coins in your hands.  I SAID DO NOT REMOVE anything from bags”.

Going through Hobby airport today, the TSA is the old style TSA. I heard the refreshing bored orders of “REMOVE your laptops from your bags. TAKE your shoes off. TAKE your belts off. Coins in the bins”.

Oh, back to normality. Treat me like the filthy naughty passenger I am. Screen me. Wand me. It is for my own benefit.

Cutting corners

Stupid hotel bed attacking my shins..

“OUCH, that hurt” I said to myself after I smacked my shin on the corner of the hotel bed. If you look carefully, you’ll see The frame juts out quite a bit  from the mattress.

As soon as I saw what caused it, I suddenly remembered the SAME THING happened three times during my prior stay at this hotel: First time was not long after checking in (like now);  second time while getting up in the night to use restroom without turning on the light; a third time was before checking out. My shin was pretty bruised after it all.

Curse you ultra comfortable but evil bed. You are from the dark side.

I have now placed a carrier bag over the corner to warn me which will work while it is light.

As for getting up in the night, perhaps I shall just pee the bed. For my own safety of course..

Kill Bill

Gloom or doomThe Caesar family is about to go on vacation to North Carolina from Houston.

Not too far from where we intend to be go in NC, they are having shark attacks. “We’re gonna need a bigger boat..”

Should we stay at home? Don’t think so since Texas is undergoing a different kind of aquatic attack – Tropical Storm Bill which is now a Tropical Depression. Whatever. It is a lot of rain either way.

“Bill” missed Houston by hitting land southest but I am heading to Dallas on Business to pick it up again.

This is the view from my window seat.

 

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