Friday fun for the start of the academic year

Forgive my absence for the last 10 days – there’s been the mother of all end of summer essay crisis (two essays due on the first day of term no less) plus a staff retreat in the middle of nowhere, so I feel I have a justifiable excuse. Fear not though, I have been keeping track of some fun tidbits to amuse you upon this autumnal Friday…

For starters, something that seems apt for the beginning of a new academic year – the 10 worst book covers in the history of literature. This was winning for me…

…until I saw this one:
I want that jumper on the left. That’ll make me cool, right?

Continuing the retro/educational theme, in the week that sees the arrival of iPhone5, it seems an appropriate moment for 20 misty memories of personal computing. Beginning with the dial-up noise (oh, how many memories that sound brings back!), continuing with the whirr of a floppy disc loading, and picking up the original Sim City and construction clip-art along the way, this is a great way to feel really old before your time. 
Retro and yet modern is the fantastic result of what happened when someone took a disposable camera to the Paralympics. In case you were wondering what London 2012 might have looked like in 1992, look no further than this delightful blogpost. [Incidentally, that entire blog is delightful – if you have a thing for quirky photography, you’ll love it.] 

Finally, two videos that are perfectly suited to Friday Fun – because where would Friday Fun be without cats on the internet and musical flashmobs? 
Firstly, Zadok the Priest spontaneously performed in a supermarket (in honour of Classic FM’s 20th birthday – did you realise that station was so young??). Make sure you look out for the reaction when the singing comes in, simply awesome. [Thanks Anne for the tip off!]
Secondly, from the sublime to the ridiculous – what happened when a cat had to have medicine and its owner felt guilty. (Aka, how to amuse a cat with 40+ boxes…)
May you now have all you need to face your Friday with glee.

Friday Fun returns

Hoorah! After the irony of missing the delivery of my new broadband router because I was in the café three doors down using their wifi, I successfully collected and installed it this morning – in time to put together a little bit of fun for Friday.

But first, can I share with you the ridiculousness of my Friday morning trip to the Royal Mail depot? Honestly, why are these things never simple? Fortuitously, yesterday I missed both the router and my Olympic Park tickets (which arrived at the old flat), so I was able to kill two birds with one stone. Genius. Well, genius, until I handed over the cards to the woman at the counter, who identified several issues:
1. One person with two cards but delivered to two different addresses.
2. Could ‘Liz Clutterbuck’ and ‘Elizabeth Clutterbuck’ be the same person?
3. Why did my ID say ‘Miss’ yet one package was addressed to ‘Mrs Liz Clutterbuck’.

Jeez… I should probably just explain the last one (I’m sure you can figure out the others). Somehow, TalkTalk have decided I’ve got married. Neither me nor the church administrator who set up the account can work out how this happened – suffice to say, I am getting none of the benefits of being married. [When I mentioned this on Twitter, a friend who happens to have used my Eurostar account recently reported that they have me listed as ‘Mr Clutterbuck’ – also have no idea how that happened.]

Anyway, so, the fun…

First up, some classic TfL goodness. I suggest you think of these when despairing of London transport during the Olympics. Over the last couple of weeks some new variations on the classic tube map have appeared. One makes use of the Bible, while the other proves that using the tube is as simple as A, B, C:

For the full-size version, check out this pdf.

The latter map is clearly something that I would consider suitable for hanging on the wall of my offspring’s nursery. Absolutely adore it! 
Combining my love of Twitter, maps, church and beer, here’s a delightful infographic that illustrates the frequency the words ‘church’ and/or ‘beer’ were tweeted in US counties during a week in June. Makes for very interesting reading: 
I particularly like the fact that during the week in question, I was tweeting from the US and therefore I contributed to it with my occasional tweets about Texan beer. I know for sure that during that week I tweeted more about beer than I did about church. 
Finally, something that combines my love of public transport with my love of spontaneous musical moments. It’s a little old, but it retains its goodness and should – unless you have a heart of stone – bring a smile to your face this afternoon. The friend who shared it with me did so with the words “your camp man alter ego might enjoy this…”, I’m not sure I have such an alter ego, but I certainly enjoyed it.

Friday Fun in a flash

The flash mob is a wonderful thing, as long as it’s done well. Fortunately, this week I have a couple that were done extremely well and are probably almost as fun to watch as they were to perform…

First up is one that was emailed to me by a friend’s mother who actually participated in it. Annoyingly, I could have experienced it in the flesh as it took place at St Pancras’ Eurostar terminal, but ironically, I had departed to vicar week from the very same terminal just a few days previously. I defy you not to do some air conducting as you watch it – it is quite literally a classic flash mob… (Though I imagine the orchestra was something of a give away.)

Because I like to show off my connections, I also know someone in the next flash mob – one that I believe went viral while I was in France. One of the singers is my sister’s best friend from uni (her partner in crime for many an inappropriate comedy routine – never go out in public with the two of them) and it’s quite honestly one of the most beautiful things ever to have happened on a train to Watford. [Plus, I am consistently amused that the acronym for the Adam Street Singers is ASS – did they think that through?]

On Wednesday I had an awesome evening with the Swingle Singers, a group who have become so famed for their involvement in flash mobs that they actually worked their set around them. (I am inordinately jealous of the woman who became the centre of attention during a flash mob rendition of Hello by the loveliest Swingle…) Although I know I’ve mentioned it a few times, I don’t think I’ve ever properly featured their original flash mob, so here it is:

And, while we’re on the subject of award winning a cappella vocal groups which involve people that I know, this is an appropriate moment to mention The Songmen, who won not one but two awards at the Tolosa International Choral Contest last week. [No, I hadn’t heard of it either, but this is apparently a big deal.] I highly recommend becoming their fan on Facebook and acquiring their forthcoming album – it has one of the most beautiful renditions of Bright Eyes on it and is generally rather lush*. There’s no video of that track yet, but here’s their interpretation of Mr Bojangles:

*In no way has my brother-in-law paid me to say this. It is purely my own opinion.

As far as I’m aware, The Songmen haven’t been in a flash mob, but it’s probably only a matter of time…

Finally, as we’re on the subject of interesting musical performances, how about a Lady Gaga fugue played on a 250 year old organ? I’m laying that one down as a challenge to church organists everywhere.