Tuesday, 26 November 2013

No Cat Walks But Plenty of Pretty Kitties

When I was a child, we had a Siamese tabby point cat. One year my mum decided he was such a character, he ought to be entered in a local cat show. Oscar was a pretty handsome boy and exceedingly good-natured so it was no surprise when he won a rosette. I can't remember much about the experience other than him being weighed and people cooing around him.

More than twenty years on, I re-lived the experience at the cat equivalent of Crufts: The Supreme Cat Show. Four of us ventured over to Birmingham for the night with pre-booked tickets, excited “Cat Day” had finally arrived and unsure of what to expect. Checking out impressive Comic-Con costumes on the way over, expectations were high.

We all hoped for some kind of cat assault course but unfortunately cats don't seem to be deemed suitable for such qualifiers. Instead, there was an enormous hall with a centre section of cat-related merchandise both for meows and their owners surrounded by cats of every breed imaginable and yet more stalls lining the walls.

There was very little to see or do, aside from judges inspecting cats and talks on how to treat cat diarrhoea. But it was still awesome because we got to go around meeting all sorts of dudey cats, gawp at comical fairytale-themed display cages and marvel at some rather eccentric owners, decked out in cat print clothes and jewellery.

On the whole the cats looked happy, despite some rather paranoid owners putting signs on cages warning against strokes and contact in fear of diseases being spread. Here are some favourite mementos from the day:

For fatty cats with balance who have VERY rich owners.
British Blues are awesome!
You can actually get four poster cat/dog beds too.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Cyber Monday Christmas “Must Haves”

Having browsed several different Christmas markets at the weekend and noted a strange pattern of stalls selling diamanté encrusted skulls, I thought I'd see what inspiration the web has to offer. Here are my favourite oddities and top trends:

1) Those keen to waste money can purchase “Nothing” .

2) For any South Park fans, you can buy your very own Mr Hanky.

3) Human moths can purchase from a weird selection of light-up novelties, ranging from show laces to laser fingers. And my personal favourite...

4) Anyone aiming for an erotic present that is more likely to be a laughable turn-off than prompt apres-dinner delight can opt for this pair of pudding nipple tassels.

5) For that hard-to-please relative, perhaps something from the extensive grow-your-own range is the answer. Think buddhas, yachts, pink convertibles, geeks, black taxis, London buses... pretty much anything!

6) For the truly awful, why not purchase a blue Justin Bieber teddy bear that has no real relevance to the Biebster, aside from having his name printed on its hoodie.
7) Finally, purchase an awful sign the recipient of your gift is likely to be too embarrassed to ever display.

If any of these take your fancy get in there before Cyber Monday on December 2.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Professional Misjudgement

Advancements in technology have resulted in weightier workloads as colleagues think nothing of sending multiple e-mails. In the past the necessity to create paper signs or hand-outs meant people were often more discerning, keen not to stretch restrictive photocopying budgets. These days, sending an e-mail is quick and cost effective, also ensuring there's always a point of reference if required. Unfortunately click happy colleagues significantly increase the amount of time I have to spend sifting through scores of e-mails to find information deemed important and relevant to me.

Each morning before my working day even technically begins, I have approximately twenty e-mails that multiply at an alarming rate throughout the day and this of course takes time to sort through - time I don't rally have. At the end of work this week, I'd failed to check my e-mails and again, had a daunting number of unread newbies awaiting my attention. A shocked colleague drew my attention to one e-mail someone had sent round to everyone in the wrong school. Intending to send this to staff in our partner school, “Jane The Pain”, seemed to judge the following to be perfectly acceptable to send out to colleagues and mark “For Females Only” in the subject box:

Whoever has pebble dashed the end toilet in the ladies staff room toilets please clean it up after yourself next time, instead of leaving it to the cleaners! iI you cant be bothered to clean the toilet seat and toilet I hate to think what your knickers must be like.”

As someone who carefully proofs and re-reads all my e-mails, I was just as shocked as my colleague to be sent the above and can't help but agree Jane is indeed a pain and a rather unprofessional one at that!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

High In Wizz

We've almost exhausted Ryanair's destination list so have decided to brave WizzAir. Our first Wizz flight takes us to Bucharest and we're curious to see how the experience will compare to its rival. Our flight leaves an hour late without any announcements admitting this is the case until we're actually finally on board and about to leave. As a mini hurricane is forecast, I'm happy to excuse the lateness but less impressed by the lack of information and Wizz sharing Ryanair's ludicrous policy of no allocated seats without additional cost.

We're part of an ever-changing queue as latecomers saunter up, hovering around the boarding desk, only to blatantly queue-jump in the final moment. An elderly lady, dressed as I'd image Oscar Wilde's Lady Bracknell, feigns ignorance acting as if she has no understanding of how to queue, as if her age somehow excuses her behaviour. She sits away from the queue until there's movement then she holds her head high, putting on airs, pretending not to notice those of us who've been standing for almost an hour. Strolling to the front, she stands beside two others, avoiding all eye contact to look towards her goal – the check-in desk. No-one challenges her and as she boards well ahead of us, I wish I'd been further forward to say something.

Finally on the plane and it feels even more cramped than Ryanair. It's near on impossible to sleep, the seats are so uncomfortable and flight crew are elusive when needed. The only way to survive is by reading the flight away. Over the past few weeks I've been so busy, I've to had work during my morning commute so have a back-log of newspapers to get through. Perusing several of these, provides the necessary entertainment to wile away the time. I read about a blind man stopped for speeding in Sheffield who swapped seats when finally stopped and had the audacity to claim, “It wasn't me driving. I'm blind.” There's the well-wisher in Thailand who was arrested after donating methadone to flood victims in Sattahip, hoping they'd be able to raise funds by selling on the drugs. And Frederik Colting, a Swedish inventor, who has come up with an idea for, The Tikker, a watch that counts down to death, taking account of individual stats.

Five newspapers later, I make it to Bucharest unscathed and so does my bag. The service provided makes Wizz comparable to Ryanair and it's hard to say if either budget airline is superior. There's much less of a hard sell during our Wizz flight with tannoy announcements kept to the minimum but Ryanair's seats felt marginally more comfortable. The return journey back from Bucharest runs more smoothly with a slightly more roomy plane, suggesting Wizz may well be the victors but with only one Wizz journey to go on, perhaps more testing if needed.