As I’m sure you’ll remember, I had my car broken into twice in the space of two months. The reason was the Sat Nav mount on the dashboard. The week of the second break in the Edinburgh Evening News reported it is the growth crime of 2006. As much as it pains me to say this, but Manchester Police seem to have the solution. For the past few weeks they have been running a sting operation by parking cars with Sat Navs left on display and waiting for opportunistic thieves to grab the bait. This has currently resulted in 11 people being arrested and one already going to gaol. As it is repeat offenders that commit the majority of these crimes, why is every other police force doing it – especially Lothian & Borders!
I announced a little while before the Christmas Party that I’d be wearing, for the first time ever, my white linen jacket. Lo and behold when the party comes around 9 out of the other 14 members of staff are also wearing the same white linen jacket! It was so embarrassing – ten people in the same outfit. There can only be one original though. Despite my jacket being passed around it managed to survive relatively unscathed. The rest of the night was quite fun, unfortunately my camera lost its charge by about 10.30pm so the really embarrassing pictures I usually haunt people with were never taken this year
Every year, Edinburgh tries to out do itself by arranging a bigger Christmas event. This year we have the big wheel; the swingy chairs; the trampoline with guide wires; a huge German market and the ice rink. There are some great shots capturing the beauty of the city here but I’m most proud of my blade-level shots from just inside the ice-rink. As Irwin just said to me this even, having left Edinburgh a couple of years ago to work in Dublin, “Edinburgh is such a beautiful city isn’t it?”. Nobody disagreed.
Okay, there are still a few days left until my birthday but I’ve just received a present through the post and I am so grateful with my great friend who got it for me (take a bow Donald). Having heard me rave about a copy of Private Eye I bought for my flight down to London a few months ago (to see him), he went out and got me a subscription. I cannot tell you how good the journalism is in this magazine. Political, legal, business or even health – everything gets scrutinised with effort and intelligence. Of course there are some fantastic jokes and cartoons inside as well as some great satire. Highlights from this issue include Blair saying to Putin “We need a replacement for Trident” and Putin replying “Have you considered Sushi?” as well as the Christmas Special Gnome Mart Mail Order section offering Microwave Ping-Tones: “Fed up with the same old boring Ping when you M&S Individual Fish Pie is done? Download a whole host of new Ping-tones to liven up cooking. Includes Nokia Ring tone, X and Crazy Frog”. Do yourself a favour, open your mind from the megalomaniac controlled daily papers and read something stimulating. On the other hand just turn to the back page and read the “Eye Need” section where people is desperate situations beg for help. The most contrasting two this issue are “Forces – Iraq / Veteran: £22k needed to clear debt ex-wife left! Help deeply appreciated” and a few inches further down “Beautiful student yearns for benefactor for sophisticated wardrobe”.
In two week’s time, on Tuesday 7th November, Americans will go to the polls to vote in their Mid-Term Elections for the entire of the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate. With Dubya’s approval rating at an all time low of below 40%, there is a very real possibility that the Republicans may lose one, if not both, of the houses. If that happens Dubya will become a lame duck, ready for the slaughter. A vote could be taken to withdraw troops immediately from Iraq or Afghanistan or even for an inquiry into the Iraq war to be called, the possibilities are almost endless!
The BBC has a very good blog from their various reporters tracking the progress as well as their microsite. The blog is worth a read, not least of all to find out that so far the two parties have spent over $1bn combined campaigning for these elections. That pails into insignificance when you then read that the 300 million people living in the US will spend just shy of $5bn kitting themselves out for All Hallows’ Eve.
I have had the pleasure of testing Gillette’s new Fusion razor for a few days before it becomes available to the public (Monday 7th August). A few weeks ago I was wandering down the road and happened to muse to myself “I wonder when Gillette are going to try to match or beat Wilkinson Sword’s four blades?”. A few weeks later this special pre-release sample come through my door (after I asked for it of course). My razor of choice is the Panasonic ES8163 which is part of their Linear Drive line of electric razors that oscillate at 13,000 rpm and do not slow down as the battery wears down. The last two razors I tried was the Gillette Mach 3 Turbo (the silly battery powered one that did absolutely nothing extra) and Wilkinson Sword’s Quattro (I thought that was a type of car?). Having used it for several days now I have to say I’m quite impressed. The five blades definitely makes a difference in the number of strokes needed however the blades don’t get as close as my Panasonic without shaving in the opposite direction to my hair growth (*the* classic shaving faux pas). The single blade on the back, designed for your sideburns or under the nose, is excellent! It works so well and gives you a really nice line by virtue of it being essentially a lose razor blade edge you can just score a centimetre down your face. It is a lot better than the pop-up trimmers on any electric razor. My biggest complaint is that the hair grows back quite sore as they are being cut at a harsh angle by the blade as I slowly move it; my Panasonic cuts so quick the hairs are a lot softer growing back. In short it has pushed me closer than I have ever been to switching back to a manual blade, however I think I’m going to stick with my extra special Panasonic and its brand new set of ultra-sharp cutters (you are supposed to change them every year but hat’s not why I did it though, I broke one of mine!). How sharp are they? I cut myself the first time I used it – that’s right, I cut myself with and electric razor and I’m not the only one with this killer machine.
I’ve oft thought that alongside genius comes insanity. That could be the only explanation why a young member of Mensa (lapsed admittedly) would want to jump off a crane raised *over* 100 feet in the air. Ah, I’ve though of a better one! To raise £250 for the British Heart Foundation. Now for the short version: The organisers screwed up and never filled in the appropriate forms to let this take place in Princes Street so the moved it to Johnston Terrace. To make up for the fact JT goes uphill they will raise the crane even higher – ??? nobody asked them to make it even higher and I fail to see how that’s making it up to anyone! We got the harnesses strapped around us and the guy fitting me said, “Have we got an extra-extra large?”. He couldn’t find one and so said, “Ah I’m sure you’ll be fine”. WTF! I want you to put *your* life on the fact that I’m certain to be okay! The group before me came down from the wobbly basket and there was a girl still in there – she just couldn’t jump from the basket. We went up and a very brave guy called James wanted to go first. I jump in after him and grabbed the next spot. As we were hiked up the basket toppled badly over on our side, not surprising as there were five of us on the right and only one instructor on the left. After that scare we were up in the air and give the in-depth training, “Walk near the ledge, crouch down and then jump”. Gulp. I get as low as possible as I’m quite tall, everyone else had to stand on tip-toes to get hooked up to the wire. James went flying down first and all of the sudden it’s my turn to step forward. Weeeeeeeeeeeee! This is cool and not as adrenaline inducing as I first feared. Grab back on to the rope as I’m about to hit two guys who are going to try to stop me. Now all I have to do is not get hit on the head as I get un-strapped and climb down the ladder to a hero’s welcome.
…And I had some fun, on the underground. The ladies turned their heads around, saying “Phillip where are your trousers?”
Well well well well. It seems, after years of being teased for being English and wearing a kilt, I am in fact Scottish. I’d previously used the Spatial Literacy website to analyse the data from the 1881 Cenus. That showed that almost all the Gillespies were living in Scotland, with the highest density around Stirling. They’ve since fixed the 1998 data and you can see while a few have moved down to England, the vast majority are still in Scotland; outsourcing their genes further across the country. There is a small pocket in the North West of England (yay!) and a few near Wales and London. I can now proudly wear my Macpherson tartan and call this land my home.
Why did I click through those pages? Didn’t I remember what curiosity did to the cat? I have now made a donation to the British Heart Foundation and agreed to try to raise a minimum of £100 for their excellent cause in the next four weeks. That’s the very good part of what I’ve done. Oh yeah, I also have to be lifted up 100′ in a rickety old crane and then jump off it and plummet to the ground for 170m on what is commonly known as a death slide.
If you believe the British Heart Foundation is a worthwhile charity, or if you believe what I’m doing is dangerous enough to warrant a donation made to my charity of choice, then please follow the link and made a handsome deposit to try to prevent the biggest killer in Britain (that’s heart disease & attacks, not death slides). Pictures and a report will of course be posted on the evening of Saturday 15th July.
The Scotsman has ran with the headline that Scottish forces are looking to recruit more police officers from eastern European countries. That’s just what we need. Tony Blair has already scrapped our right to silence, removed the need for us to be charged to be held indefinitely, taken away our right to a trial by jury and even made certain evidence a state secret so we can’t seen what made us guilty! Now we are going to get police from countries such as Turkey where they still use torture or Bulgaria where a circumstantial evidence convicts a man to 18 years in jail when another man freely admits he did it! The final piece of the latest series of Bremner, Bird and Fortune really spelt out the changes that have been brought in “to protect us from the nasty terrorist living under the bed”, so long as we don’t mind living in an Orwellian society. The only thing I can hope is with the right-leaning Spanish President Anzar Lopez gone and now the right-leaning Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi gone, maybe our country can get rid of its tainted right-leaning God-loving dictator. If only we were situated in the Middle East then we’d have better weather and the UN might have intervened at the destruction of our freedoms (but the South of England would still have a hosepipe ban). The sooner Scotland gets its birth right of full independence the better.