RIP Virgin Mobile. 2003-2009

You were a trusty phone. sniff

Goodbye to all that...

Well, then. And so the first decade of the 21st century comes to an end. There are no silver jumpsuits, no nuclear devastation by sentient computers, and no Autobot City: Earth (it’s telling that I measure my life by putting it against old Transformers: UK stories, isn’t it?). Still, I think despite all that, it’s been an interesting decade. I seem to have spent an awful lot of it like I’m doing now: on the bus to the airport, ready to fly back to North Carolina. The next decade will hopefully see me swap the destinations around, making Durham my new home.

I'll miss strange things. I'm making a list. It currently includes gasometers and the Christmas Radio Times. Star Bars and Rob McElwee. (I will, of course, have to see how to circumvent the geo-blocking of iPlayer)

Normally, I spend December doing a run-down of my favourite songs of the year, but the blog has been left a little fallow the past six months. That was partly due to not having much (if any) spare time due to work, and perhaps more importantly, a lack of things to say. I can only rant about American healthcare reform so much. I still have an idea for a blog project which I hope to do before I leave the UK, but more on that when the time comes.

I have scrawled notes somewhere on a piece I wanted to write about the five-year anniversary of "You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve', a song that seems more appropriate than ever these days, and that still sounds like the future every time I hear it. And thoughts are scribbled down about "The Sea Is A Good Place To Think About The Future", this year's favourite; when I heard it for the first time, I knew it was going to be one of those songs that stuck with me forever, how I smile every time at the lyric 'her initials are AAA', the venom of Gareth's 'you could never kiss a Tory boy without wanting to cut off your tongue again', and the oh-so-British end of the world bracketed by crazy golf courses. God, I love Los Campesinos!.

So what happens now? Well, the blog looks like it's going to go back to its roots a little in 2010. It was originally set up as a way of detailing my adventures in Chapel Hill way back in 2002, and I think it kept me sane for those first couple of months. Next year, there's the wedding to cover, plus the (hopeful) move across the Atlantic following on. A new set of adventures, which will have be recorded. Here is a good a place as any.

Goodbye 2009. There were quite a few good bits, but I think my family and I will be glad to see the back of you.

Meanwhile, the joys of flying shortly after a terrorist incident are slowly unfolded. Everybody, and I do mean everybody, was searched before getting on the plane, delaying take-off by an hour. And they waited until we were on the plane to confirm the rumours that I'd heard yesterday afternoon: the TSA now mandates that nobody is allowed out of their seats or have access to their carry-on baggage for the final hour of the flight. No exceptions. Which is another thing this decade has had to offer: the long decline of air travel, from 2000-2009. I've been on AA173 so many times now that I've lost count, but it's not a patch on what we have back in 2003. A 777, acres of leg room, access to films, games, and TV programmes on the back of your seat, plus anything you'd want to drink. Now? A $50 charge for having the audacity of taking two bags, the 777 has been replaced with an aging 767-300, the entertainment consisting of a 22" screen at the front of the cabin, and drinks cost £5 as soon as alcohol comes anywhere near them (not that I drink on the plane, but anyway). Our bright future indeed. I'm actually thinking that soon it'll be better to try and knock yourself out when you get on board rather than have to deal with the nine-hour flight.

(I realise I'm doing a great job of selling this to people I'd like to come over to the wedding. Erm, you get a blanket to keep warm! Except they're taking that away from us for the final hour too. Just in case you fancy setting fire to it or something.)

...some time later...

You would think, that with four customs agents, and that it takes longer to process international visitors, that RDU would have two people on each line, wouldn't you? That would be silly. Three people handling the American queue, a rather-annoyed agent doing the other. Not the best example of queueing I've seen...

...further on...

IP3. Mmmmm.


teletext rip.png

We cuss you bad, Teletext UK.

I Think It's Time To Make A Stand

It’s time to stand up for titanium dioxide in our sweets, before every single one becomes a pale shadow of its former self. Smarties, Party Rings, Refreshers, all have turned to the ‘natural’ dark side.

Even America has succumbed, with Necco Wafers losing their colour and flavouring in favour of natural ones. Having had Necco Wafers, I despair to think that the brightest candy minds have somehow concocted a plan to make them taste even worse.

Artificial colouring (and flavouring) has its place, people. Stop it now before all our sweets turn to chalk!

(fully aware that my intention to use mostly all-natural ingredients makes me a hypocrite here - but trust me, if I could make Refreshers in my kitchen, I’d do it properly. Or at least include vodka.)




What Fresh Horror Is This?


Yes, that's right. Flying Saucers with the sherbet removed and hundreds and thousands put in its place.


Well, hello, Mr. November

October was not that interesting. Or maybe I’m in a deep blog-avoiding phase at the moment. The latter will most likely change as the next year rolls around, but more on that another time…

God Bless Nicky Wire (and Avril Lavigne too...)


It's Not Gill Sans

The font of the Tube.

(also, Network Rail need to hire a sign-maker that isn’t so cheap that they use Arial when it’s supposed to be Helvetica, dammit!!)

Last Day of Summer

Blackcurrant & Pectin

The sugar sparkles in the fading sunlight. Autumn is coming. Too soon, and not soon enough.

Hello September

In general, been at work.

But! If you’re thinking of Christmas presents, everybody would love to have one of these in their stockings…

(when I say everybody, I’m meaning me, obviously)