Changing Faces

I am trying to change the look of the header bar at the top of the site but I do not seem to be having much success.

You may have noticed that at some point last week a couple of pictures arrived in the top bar of Listen to Musak. For a while I have felt that the front page of my site is a little dull so I have been thinking of ways to add some images. The lovely bodies pictured are intended to be temporary. They will get replaced with images from my gallery or photo selection soon. I have, however, troubled over the layout.

The Mozilla layout engines makes the front look like this

the top bar as mozilla renders the image

I believe this to be incorrect layout but my style sheet knowledge is limited. I think it’s the better look. Internet Explorer and Opera look like this

the top bar as internet explorer renders the image

which I don’t like as much but I think is technically correct.

If you know that I am wrong and have just done some obviously bad coding then please let me know.

Missing

CNN Is reporting that a teenager has discovered he was allegedly abducted after finding his childhood picture on a missing children’s Web site.

You know it’s a very strange world indeed:

Authorities arrested the mother of a 17-year-old boy who saw his picture on a missing children’s Web site and discovered that he was allegedly abducted from Canada 14 years ago. [Source]

It must be quite horrific to discover that you’d been kidnapped. My heart goes out to the kid who must be torn apart right now.

Pankcakes Anyone?

Should I make pancakes tomorrow?

It’s pancake day tomorrow. Now, my gym buddy and I are on a bit of a health kick. We want a body like Andrew Kinlochan or Philip Oliver, but that’s never going to happen. But, I would like to know if anybody has a recipe of a low fat version of the classic British pancake.

And if anybody’s interested. Gym Buddy and I have, so far, stuck to our routine so all is going well.

Where Should I Send It?

A weekend away and things to organise.

Well, I spent the weekend in Weymouth in Dorset where the wind was howling around but the company was good and the photographs non-existent. I even watched the Rugby, which I am sure would make my father happy, and enjoyed it. While I was away I managed to read about What the Bible really says about marriage – there are some interesting links in that article so you should really read it.

what's on my desk right nowAdditionally, I discovered that I have 30 free Orange Photo Messages to use before the end of the month. I just don’t know who would be interested in pictures of my desk! Oh, I also I booked a holiday! Here’s a clue. What do I need to do to ensure that I get a reasonably smooth passage into the US and where do you get an International Driving Licence these days?

This morning I am trying to resist the urges of caffeine by drinking a Strawberry and Banana smoothie. I’m just not doing very well. So I am trying to resist caffeine pangs by reading Steph’s Story; how I much would I like to be in Paris right now? And that’s not working either.

South London Jazz

Finally, I found a basement jazz club that I want to go to.

Last night – to end a great weekend – we visited the 606 Jazz Club in South London. This is exactly the kind of place I have been looking for since I arrived in town in 1993 and, for some reason, none of the venues that I have previously tried have come close.

It’s an intimate basement Jazz Club and last night Claire Teal and Anita Wardell performed. It was an excellent 3-hour-ish set of new Jazz standards, some new songs and some scatt jazz (which, I believe, is Anita’s trademark). Both of the women’s voices were superb and the backing trio fantastic. You sit right next to the stage area. All the musicians were good but the dexterity exhibited by the drummer was incredible.

The club only has a dinner licence so you have to eat to be able to drink and the menu, if a little pricey, was certainly very good. They do crowd people in – there is very little room between tables – but it added to the atmosphere rather than being uncomfortable.

I shall be going again.

Nicholas Nickleby

A good adaption of the Dickens NOvel

I am not sure if it was all the time spent wandering the streets of London earlier, but PY and I decided to rent a movie this evening and, given that it was already in the house thanks to LoveFilm.com (formerly dvdsontap) we watched Douglas McGrath’s adaptation of Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby.

I didn’t know the story and really didn’t know what to expect. I imagined a period drama and, in truth, I only added it to our rental list to see how Charlie Hunnam performed in a role that was so different from some of his previous work. I was very pleasantly surprised indeed.

The story may – or may not – be faithful to the book but as a story of a young man who must look after his family following his father’s death it was very well done. Hunnam was better than I expected, Christopher Plummer as the Uncle was fantastic and Jim Broadbent was wonderful as Squeers the schoolmaster. Juliet Stevenson was also brilliant as his wife, Mrs. Squeers.

What surprised me most was how well the comedy worked. Parts of the story are very bleak but Dickens used comedy as well as tragedy to make his points and it comes out very well. It’s not belly-laugh humour but the wit is straight to the point.

And, being a DVD, I always try and look at the extras. Douglas McGrath’s Director’s commentary shows how much thought goes into the parts of the film that pass you by.

Recommended as a great period drama that plays well today.

Borough Market: Southwark’s Great Food Home

Borough Market in Southwalk is well worth a visit.

So, this is the 12th Valentine’s Day I will have spent with PY. We are spending much of this weekend with friends and exploring new parts of the city.

Last night we were in Balham at Dish Dash. We had previously visited the Goodge Street branch (PY had his 30th birthday party there) but had never been out this way. The evening was spent with plenty of little Persian dishes (Swordfish Kebabs & Spinach and Chick Pea Mazza being my favourite). If you are ever in the area you must go. There were, however, a large number of other, tempting, restaurants in the area Peter Sellars once called ‘Gateway To The South’. It’s an area we must visit more often. Recommendations welcome.

Today we rose early (for a Saturday) to visit the tempting delights of Borough Market. If you have never been this is a gourmet market to be found as you head eastwards. The market sells some top-quality fresh produce, and it’s a charity so it should be preserved. It is also a wholesale market at other times of the day/week. There are all types of breads, vegetables, meat and fish sold by proper market traders who, from what I can tell, know their products very well indeed. The Spanish Chorizo stall had the longest queue I have ever seen for a take-away food stall in London. It must have been superb. We bought Ostrich streaks for dinner this evening and they certainly look very tempting (and almost fat-free, apparently).

Borough Market is in Southwark which must be one of my favourite parts of London. The South Bank from Waterloo and the London Eye via the Tate, Millennium Bridge and The Globe was a deserted riverside area when I first came to London. There was, more-or-less, no life between The National Theatre and Tower Bridge. Nowadays, it’s one of the most bustling areas for tourists and locals alike. I really think a Saturday walk down the south bank of the Thames is well worth it. This is the kind of place which makes all frustrations about living in a big city evaporate. It restores my faith in London.

Tomorrow, we head for Highgate to visit some American friends. Certainly looking forward to Sunday Lunch.

Paying A Quick Visit

A 19-hour round trip to Milan.

So, what was it about Thursday that made me so tired? Well, I spent the day in Milan. You’ll no doubt have been able to tell that I travel for work occasionally. This, however, was an extreme trip. I rose at 4am and took a taxi to Heathrow. Then I boarded an Alitalia flight to Milan where I was met by the people I work with in Italy. In turn, they drove me to an office for a meeting. The meeting lasted until around 3pm when we went for a quick bite in a local cafe (all the Milan restaurants having shut after the lunchtime rush). After an hour in another office block outside the city I took the train back to a different airport to fly back to London. Eventually, after a Heathrow Express, London Underground and South West Trains journey across the city (which took almost as long as the time I was in the air returning from Milan) I walked back through my front door.

Nineteen hours and a visit to one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and I saw modern transportation, dull office blocks and not much else. I tried to capture the spirit of the day in some pictures that I took with the ‘phone camera. They’re not great and the won’t show you any of Milan’s fabulous architecture. They will show you most of what I saw. I promise myself that one day I will spend some decent holiday time in some of these cities.

clock at the start of my trip to milan - that is morningwhich airline and what counrt?
no sharp objects on a plane thank youthis is supposed to show the wing of the aircraft
this is the back of the seatmilan office blocks
the train on the way to a different airportat the airport
more waiting at milana train on the way home - nice seat
nearly there just at the doorand finally at home again

Coming with me next time?

Paying A Quick Visit

Nineteen hours and a visit to one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and I saw modern transportation, dull office blocks and not much else.

So, what was it about Thursday that made me so tired? Well, I spent the day in Milan. You’ll no doubt have been able to tell that I travel for work occasionally. This, however, was an extreme trip. I rose at 4am and took a taxi to Heathrow. Then I boarded an Alitalia flight to Milan where I was met by the people I work with in Italy. In turn, they drove me to an office for a meeting. The meeting lasted until around 3pm when we went for a quick bite in a local cafe (all the Milan restaurants having shut after the lunchtime rush). After an hour in another office block outside the city I took the train back to a different airport to fly back to London. Eventually, after a Heathrow Express, London Underground and South West Trains journey across the city (which took almost as long as the time I was in the air returning from Milan) I walked back through my front door.

Nineteen hours and a visit to one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and I saw modern transportation, dull office blocks and not much else. I tried to capture the spirit of the day in some pictures that I took with the ‘phone camera. They’re not great and the won’t show you any of Milan’s fabulous architecture. They will show you most of what I saw. I promise myself that one day I will spend some decent holiday time in some of these cities.

Coming with me next time?

Dawn Traders

Life in London in the early hours seems, somehow, different to how I imagine it to be.

Yesterday, I rose at 4am and took a taxi to London’s Heathrow Airport. This is not an uncommon thing for me to have to do. However, I imagine that I must have been a little more awake than usual as I started to pay attention to a great deal more than normal as I was driven out to the airport.

At 5am London’s streets are far from deserted. In Shrewsbury, one of the places where I grew up, I am pretty certain it would have passed for a busy morning but for London it was quiet. People were walking all around the place. At 5am there was queues at bus stops that must have had ten or more people in some of them. There were many more twenty-four hour shops than I had imagined (why isn’t there one near me?) and plenty of road sweepers and street cleaners – people generally keeping the city going for the rest of us that usually awake later in the morning.

I worked a milk round when I was younger. I am used to people being up and around in the still hours before most people awake. This, however, was different. It was busy and, in places, bustling. It was not remarkable to see a few people in the streets but it was very startling to see so many people around.

When you walk home late at night and the buildings remain lit you imagine that, just like you are about to do, they will soon be settled in a dark sleep. Yet, as we sped through West London, I was struck by the number of buildings that contained offices or shops with all their lights blazing. Many of these were shut but were fully lit as though some invisible nocturnal customers were going about their shopping. Offices were lit as though an army of night-time workers were sat, invisibly, at terminals turning the wheels of trade. When you walk home late at night this seems normal yet, in the early hours of the morning before dawn, it seems eerie.

Most unusually there was a market stall selling, I think, fruit and vegetables. It was open and lit on one of the main roads heading westwards. I can not imagine there was sufficient trade but the stall was stocked, well lit and ready for the odd customer that would pass. Who is the strange stall-holder who works the dark hours sat by the street waiting for customers to buy his fruits? Shouldn’t he have been at New Covent Garden collecting his goods at that time, not sat on a cold A-road with no passing trade?

Then there was the man who pastes the new advertising billboards. At 5.15am he was on top of his ladder with a bucket of sticky stuff gluing a new poster for the morning commuters to see on their way into the City. I had always imagined these were changed in the mid-afternoon not in the middle of the night. It must have been far too cold to be doing that job.

There is a whole world that I am not familiar with. It’s really quite strange to come face-to-face with a city you do not recognise.

Dawn Traders

At 5am there was queues at bus stops that must have had ten or more people in some of them. There were many more twenty-four hour shops than I had imagined (why isn’t there one near me?) and plenty of road sweepers and street cleaners – people generally keeping the city going for the rest of us that usually awake later in the morning.

Yesterday, I rose at 4am and took a taxi to London’s Heathrow Airport. This is not an uncommon thing for me to have to do. However, I imagine that I must have been a little more awake than usual as I started to pay attention to a great deal more than normal as I was driven out to the airport.

At 5am London’s streets are far from deserted. In Shrewsbury, one of the places where I grew up, I am pretty certain it would have passed for a busy morning but for London it was quiet. People were walking all around the place. At 5am there was queues at bus stops that must have had ten or more people in some of them. There were many more twenty-four hour shops than I had imagined (why isn’t there one near me?) and plenty of road sweepers and street cleaners – people generally keeping the city going for the rest of us that usually awake later in the morning.

I worked a milk round when I was younger. I am used to people being up and around in the still hours before most people awake. This, however, was different. It was busy and, in places, bustling. It was not remarkable to see a few people in the streets but it was very startling to see so many people around.

When you walk home late at night and the buildings remain lit you imagine that, just like you are about to do, they will soon be settled in a dark sleep. Yet, as we sped through West London, I was struck by the number of buildings that contained offices or shops with all their lights blazing. Many of these were shut but were fully lit as though some invisible nocturnal customers were going about their shopping. Offices were lit as though an army of night-time workers were sat, invisibly, at terminals turning the wheels of trade. When you walk home late at night this seems normal yet, in the early hours of the morning before dawn, it seems eerie.

Most unusually there was a market stall selling, I think, fruit and vegetables. It was open and lit on one of the main roads heading westwards. I can not imagine there was sufficient trade but the stall was stocked, well lit and ready for the odd customer that would pass. Who is the strange stall-holder who works the dark hours sat by the street waiting for customers to buy his fruits? Shouldn’t he have been at New Covent Garden collecting his goods at that time, not sat on a cold A-road with no passing trade?

Then there was the man who pastes the new advertising billboards. At 5.15am he was on top of his ladder with a bucket of sticky stuff gluing a new poster for the morning commuters to see on their way into the City. I had always imagined these were changed in the mid-afternoon not in the middle of the night. It must have been far too cold to be doing that job.

There is a whole world that I am not familiar with. It’s really quite strange to come face-to-face with a city you do not recognise.

Complaining About TV?

Ofcom’s complaints bulletin has been issued so I thought I’d take a look.

Ofcom’s upheld complaints about the Phixx performance on BBC’s Top of the Pops (scenes from a bondage club) which amuses me. If you look at some of the pictures of Man of the Moment Andrew Kinlochan you’ll see they are from the video. It’s a lot of pretty boys tied up on chairs singing. Apparently it breached some standard (apart from musical taste). If bondage clubs were populated by pretty guys tied to chairs singing pop tunes you can bet I would be first in line!

They’ve also upheld complaints about the Channel Four series Little Friends. The concept of the series, using children to entice people into comedy stunts, was amusing at first but gradually the whole thing became cringe-worthy. Apparently it breached the code on ‘General Offense’. It really should have breached the code for a faintly amusing idea taken too far. I am sure we’re all relieved to know that, ‘Ofcom accepted that the broadcaster had taken steps to protect the children’s moral welfare’.

While you’re looking into offensive things you should read the very short entry on Dream 107.7’s breach of Section 1.3 (Language in Programming) of the standards. That only one person complained about the language (when you would have expected Ofcom’s switchboard to be melting) suggests a very limited audience at the time.

Broadcasting regulation is, apparently, here for my own welfare. Shame they can’t regulate Footballer’s Wives off the air (a new series starts tonight).

Five Second Censorship

The Oscars will be subject to a five-second delay this year. Apparently, that’s not good.

I’ve said before that I don’t really understand all the nonsense about Janet Jackson and what happened when she performed with Justin Timberlake. It seems to me that there are so many other things that the American people should be spending time worrying about. I am hoping that something similar happens at The Brits. We are in need of another Jarvis/Michael Jackson incident to spice up proceedings.

Having said that, BBC News reports that Oscar president Frank Pierson is up in arms about a five-second delay on the broadcast of the awards ceremony. To accuse it of a form of censorship seems to be a little unnecessary. I am sure it used to be pretty common for all live broadcasts to have some kind of in-built delay. What’s the big deal? Michael Moore’s acceptance would not have been censored by a five second delay; no it was censored by the audience at the time.

I think everybody needs a sense of perspective.

As an aside, I am thankful that I know several Americans living in London who show that not all – nay most – Americans are perfectly rational people. It’s a shame our media does not present them as such. Am I exaggerating all this?