Friday Fun for the holidays

Good morning. The school holidays are here (or have been here for a week already) and thus it is properly holiday time. From tomorrow, I will be existing in a tent in Mablethorpe for a week, at one of those Christian summer conferences where everyone pretends they’re ok with camping, when really they’d rather be in a hotel. To give myself the impression that I’m going somewhere more exotic, I’ve been taking delight in a collection of old school travel posters – from the days when holidays really meant something.

HK Riveria Poster

Tasmania Poster

Japanese Railways poster

It’s appropriate that the last poster advertises railways (though without a train in sight!) as there is – of course – some TfL fun today too. When on holiday, it’s always a good idea to think back to your usual commute and gloat over the fact that you don’t have to do it for a while. Thus, it’s quite appropriate to feature some photos of people using the tube in days gone by this morning…

This collection of photos comes from the heady days of the 1980’s when the tube was a different world – people could drink [the alcohol ban seems much older than 2008], smoke, and generally behave in a way that I think tube users of the new millennium would find odd.

Jumping ticket gates

Booze on the tube

Photographer photographed

Stockwell Clock head

Another classic element of the summer holidays was the special holiday editions of comics (in our household that meant Bunty, obviously). This week, I’ve discovered a classic comic/animation, not necessarily suitable for small children, but incredibly educational – the history of the Guardian newspaper in cartoon form. (If you click on the play button in that link, it will unfold before your eyes.)

An illustrated history of the GuardianIt gets more interesting than this, promise! 

Finally, because it’s summer and, let’s face it, all Brits have had a moment of wishing they could go to an American summer camp, here’s the first episode of classic MTV show Bug Juice – classic summer camp fun and classic 90’s fashion…

Foolish Friday Fun

Happy April Fools Day!

Annoyingly, I don’t think I’m going to get much chance to hunt down the fools this morning, so what I propose is that I share a couple that I’ve spotted already and then return later in the day to offer some highlights.

It seems that The Guardian has had an ideological shift overnight, in terms of its attitude to the Royals. (Read the comments on that one – hilarious.)

YouTube is celebrating its centenary.

A new statue is proposed for Potters Field (a mayor on a bike).

Disappointingly, at the moment I can’t see anything from Google (creators of some of the best past fools), but it may take a while to appear. Oh, wait, I’ve just gone back and there’s something there – go look for yourself…

That’s going to have to be all for now, but do let me know of others you discover and I’ll come back later and report back.

Right, I’m back. Thanks to Kate for suggestions in her comment – we have The Telegraph reporting that Labour are suggesting we celebrate Ed Milliband’s forthcoming nuptials with street parties and The Independent suggesting that Portugal are selling Ronaldo to Spain in order to alleviate their national debt.

A few other fun things cropped up on Twitter during the morning. Particularly painful was the typing of ‘helvetica’ into Google which resulted in all the search results appearing in Comic Sans – ouch. [I got this wrong first time around, thanks to viewing on an iPhone & misinterpreting tweets.]

Then there was the Marmite flavoured Vaseline (the Lip Therapy version, in case you were having any other thoughts). I personally think this ought to be real, but C didn’t think it would be very good for your lips or your salt intake.

Continuing the theme of ‘if only it wasn’t an April Fools’, Rich spotted Starbucks Mobile, while James rather liked the Car Turbine.

As ever, the Guardian (along with other reputable news sources, probably) has done a useful round-up of some of the others. My favourite has still got to be Gmail Motion – if only so that sending an e-mail could be done by licking a pretend stamp and placing it on my knee…

The Swan and things that are left unsaid

My new year’s decision (that’s subtly different to a ‘resolution’) to see more films, sooner after their release, isn’t going particularly well so far – I’ve still not seen The King’s Speech [though have begun a campaign to get people to correctly use the apostrophe within its title] and now it looks like everyone I know saw it the weekend I was having to work in Doncaster. Hmph.

It’s therefore unsurprising that when my Dad asked me last night if I’d seen Black Swan, my response was in the negative. However, I was able to respond that I’d read an article in the Guardian, heard about it on Wittertainment and spoken with friends (ok, a friend) who had seen it. When I mentioned our national newspaper of choice, he said, “Oh yes, I read the article in the Guardian that Hadley Freeman wrote…”

[Incidentally, my Dad is quite the Hadley Freeman fan – writing style, obviously. He makes a point of reading the weekly ‘Ask Hadley’ column and is therefore remarkably knowledgeable about women’s fashion. Well, kind of.]

Those three dots say a lot. We had both read the article in question, but left its subject matter unspoken. I’m not sure how best to describe it without writing words that will get me picked up by totally the wrong people on Google. Basically, Hadley was suggesting that because a certain, rather intimate act featured in three key films of the year – Black Swan, The Kids are Alright & Blue Valentine – it made them Oscar contenders. It was this suggestion that aroused my suspicions that Black Swan really wasn’t the innocent ballet movie some might think it would be, a suspicion that was confirmed by subsequent reviews.

Anyway, this conversation established that both me and Dad knew what the film was about and who should and should not watch it – and he proceeded to regale me of the tale of when one of his colleagues watched it last week. Let’s put it this way, it’s not really the right film to make into a family night out in honour of your mother’s birthday, taking with you siblings and two sets of teenage sons. There are films you don’t want to watch with your parents and then there’s films you don’t want to watch with your parents and your offspring!

Black Swan really has caused controversy in my little world. I’ve now heard one friend rant on three separate occassions about why it should be an 18 not a 15. (Though, in her defence once was on the phone, once in person and another at dinner with friends.) In fact, despite my warnings the afternoon before she saw it, I still had a midnight voicemail from her, detailing what a traumatising experience it was! Thus, I feel I need to see it soon – any takers?

Snow Fun Friday

Those of us who have not managed to have any snow days this week and instead have battled blizzards, ice and temperamental transport systems, could do with some fun this morning. (To be honest, I’d have settled for staying under my duvet, but sadly work had other ideas.) Ever the predictable, I thought it would be good to keep to a snowy theme for this week’s entertainment.

First up is an oldy, but a goody. In fact I think this may have started off the whole idea of Friday fun. Many, many years ago when I worked in a draughty office building in Waterloo (its imminent closure meant that during my last winter there, when boilers began to fail, they weren’t repaired) Friday entertainment was often circulated between colleagues. A particular favourite were pointless games, which would then result in highly competitive contests as to who could achieve the highest score, the most memorable of which was the Penguin Tossing game. There’s snow, a penguin, a yeti and a club – I think you can figure out the aim of the game… It’s not sophisticated, but it is diverting for a good few minutes. (There’s also a whole list of other yeti related games, should you be really, really bored.)

One of my favourite occupations during Snow Chaos is reading the Guardian’s live blog of the deteriorating situation across the country. On the one hand, it’s great to keep appraised of what the trains in Scotland are doing when you’re sat at your desk in London; it’s also slightly sickening reading of the thousands of school children enjoying a day of sledging – but this time round, I actually had a practical concern.

On Tuesday night my Dad got stranded at Gatwick after his flight to Belfast was cancelled – so I was keen to keep track of his potential options. [He arrived home late on Wednesday after managing to get to Stanstead for an unaffected flight.] Yesterday morning the blog provided details of a hideous train journey experienced by people attempting to travel from London to Brighton the previous night. This rang a bell with me as my fellow researcher had dashed off to Brighton Wednesday night and yes, she was on the affected train. She’s still not made it back to London.

But none of that’s fun – what is fun is the random videos, pictures and quotes that the Guardian provides as light entertainment. Take this update from 9.46am:
BBC News has just tweeted this: “Woman in Kent criticised by police for calling 999 to report theft of snowman for which she’d used ‘two pound coins’ for its eyes”. I’ll investigate. We need to get to the bottom of this.

As for videos, well I’m a sucker for snow and cute animals, so the combination of the two is rather fabulous. I also have a soft spot for comedy dogs, so this short clip of a small dog in deep snow had me grinning.

Of course, snow also has a bizarre affect upon the population – making them do strange things. In London this manifests itself in people talking on the tube, in Brighton, it apparently results in naked tea-tray sledging. (Possibly not one to watch in the office.) Knowing how painful my fingers were after less than an hour in the snow yesterday, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain this crazy man endured. Ouch.

Just in case you felt that was rather gratuitous, my final suggestion for today is a beautiful video showing just what you can get up to with a couple of chainsaws, a snow mobile and a lot of ice – no blood or gore included. 

Friday fun with flight attendants and farmers

As I’ve been stuck in the middle of nowhere (at a Christian conference centre whose raison d’etre appears to be feeding people as much food as possible), opportunities for discovering something for Friday Fun have been limited. However, I’ve just had a quick look at a Friday favourite in the Guardian – the Viral Video Chart – and found a total gem.

You know how tedious flight safety announcements can be? How they always say you should pay attention even if you’ve flown on that plane, with that airline countless times before? How even the attendants look beside themselves with boredom? Well, on Cebu airlines (in the Philippines) they are far from dull and boring:

Flight attendants, passenger safety and Lady Gaga – what’s not to like?

If you’re the kind of person who refuses to follow links to the Guardian (yes B, I’m talking to you…), other gems featured this week include the rather wonderful Yeo Valley yoghurt advert. This caused more of a stir during last week’s X Factor than the show itself – in fact one of my friends rang to tell me to watch it online (she knew I was stuck on a stupid train). My tweet back at her summed it up:
“Just watched the Yeo Valley ad…not since Ben Fogle has a man in a Barbour jacket looked so hot. Hellooooo farmers!” 

One of my roles over the last couple of days has been doing the PowerPoint for sessions. I’ve done this a few times and you get to know what you can get away with doing while your laptop’s in presentation mode, and what you can’t. Sneaky tweeting/facebooking – yes, watching rather hot farmers rapping about yoghurt – not so much…