Saturday, 30 January 2010

Asian ladies on TV

It's quite nice seeing Asian women on TV. Growing up this was a rare sight - I dimly recall Jamila Massey on episodes of "Mind your language". Ms Massey appeared in "Eastenders" but I had already stopped watching that after people took the mickey out of me for looking like Shobu Kapoor (I still cringe anytime I think of it and her pronounciation of Sanjaaaaay). I am sure she is a lovely lady but I didn't like the comparison with her character Gita Kapoor as she wasn't very glam. Have to say Eastenders has always been good about having Asian women in it's cast though.
All things improved vastly when Asian comediennes appeared: Meera Syal and Nita Wadia came on the scene with the hilar
ious "Goodness Gracious Me", Shobna Gulati in "Dinnerladies" and Mina Anwar in "The Thin Blue Line".
The ladies haven't done badly in film either with Parminder Nagra in Bend it Like Beckam, and Archie Punjabi in East is East.
I love that name...Archie Punjabi. It's a perfect name for a cartoon character. Not that that is what she is. She was born in Barnet where I grew up so she kinda speaks as my friends and I do. Last week I caught her in a prominent role on a new show "The Good Wife". I hope she will be as successful over there as Parminder has been.

Thursday, 28 January 2010


I am going to give up making any plans since I'm starting to realise with a tot, things rarely go to plan.
Recent plans that changed:
Potty training: a visit to a friend with a 10 month old baby sent me into a panic as she had already managed to poo in her potty. Although they admitted it was a bit of a happy accident, it did make me think I've been a bit lax with our own 27 month old tot. So as soon as her bug was done, we formulated a plan to potty train her.
The very expensive Baby Bjorn throne like potty was on hand as it has been for a few months. Well she didn't want that thing - familiarity had bred contempt for it. During her bug we had managed to get her to sit on the loo so we went and bought a loo toilet training seat. So far we have had minimal success. The nursery ladies advised us to ditch the easy up pants we were using and go straight to knickers and jogging bottoms. This is not an attempt to turn her into a chav but just to help her as joggers are easier to pull up/down then jeans.
But it's a bit cold to ditch nappies. Also it's a bit cold to clean up wee on a carpet or a fabric sofa.
If you have a tot, don't have carpet, don't have a fabric sofa, have everything covered in plastic.

Shopping: the plan today was to get veggies for a cooking lesson tomorrow followed by chunky chalks for tot. The first part went as planned. The second ended in disaster. Oh where is Woolworths when you need it? I was quite amazed at how much the high street has changed with a new Londis, new Iceland, a tree being planted by three council workers (there's a joke in here somewhere I'm sure) and a new restaurant near the station. But alas, we couldn't find chunky chalk anywhere so went along to Wilkinsons in Thamesmead. Tot ended up losing her breakfast inside her coat inside the shop. Then she lost some more in the car (yes that's also fabric covered) and again at home on the fabric covered sofa.
Meeting up with people: I was going to give someone a lesson in cooking okra tomorrow. See above as to why that plan is postponed. It's a shame as I was looking forward to showing off my culinary skills and having a conversation with an adult who doesn't have tots so would force me to use my brain and talk about other things.
I really hope tot does not have norovirus. Did you know norovirus is not one virus but a name applied to a group of viruses? So even though tot had a tummy bug at the beginning of the month, she may have quite a different one now. Poor thing is quote "not very happy with you mummy" and a bit worried about eating. Big hug for her and a big bowl of ice-cream for her self-pitying mother.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Burns night

One of the best things about marrying someone from another culture is that you can enjoy their holidays/festivals too. Tonight is Burns Night. I couldn't bring myself to get a haggis though I am not averse to neeps and tatties. We are having lentils tonight (an ingredient in haggis) but it's asian style not scottish!
On Friday watching a program about the bard, I heard a poem. Burns wrote it about someone he was separated from. I'm dedicating this to my hubby as it expresses how I feel when he goes off to work! (I've made a slight amendment for obvious reasons)

O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie [lad],
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Yahoo and a rinky dinky do

Yahooooo, and a rinky dinky doo - I caught an episode of Hong Kong Phooey earlier this week. Made me think of all the cartoons I used to enjoy like the Wacky Races, Spiderman, Dangermouse, Inspector Gadget, Mr Magoo, Scooby Doo and Top Cat.
Now don't get me wrong... some modern efforts are very enjoyable such as Timmy Time. And some are bizarre like Dirt Girl. Of the CGI ones I find I find the worlds created often became homogeneous.
One show we are really enjoying at the mo is the Ooglies - a hilarious stop motion animation shown on BBC.
Here is the website in case you want to see what I'm on about:
Today a session of playdoh led to the first attempts to create our own Ooglies...Daddy is the one on the right and is sad as he was at work. I'm the one of the left.... OBVIOUSLY!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Fit for purpose

Last week, Mr Plummy Mummy's best friend and his wife were approved for adoption (for them to adopt, not to be adopted themselves!) in Scotland. This was a major milestone on a process that started in 2008. Their quest to be parents is an even longer one as they had already endured failed attempts at getting pregnant via IVF.
During this process, they were subjected to invasions into their personal lives, been on parenting and adoption courses, undertaken physicals and been told to lose weight (by an overweight doctor!). But now they are on the road to being parents and they are very happy. We don't know how long they will have to wait since the approval just means they can now be considered for a adoption. They have opted to go for a child from 4 above so maybe not as long as those hoping for a baby. We have our fingers crossed that they will be matched with a child soon as they will make wonderful parents.
The other day I caught a Radio 2 show about the orphans of Haiti and there were callers who said they would adopt kids from there. Said callers were shot down in flames by the expert (sorry didn't catch her name) who said the adoption process is so long in this country and the likelihood of being approved is low. Furthermore, any UK couple would be blocked from adopting from abroad. One caller rang in to say those women should adopt from here. It's a hard call, on the one hand there are people desperate to be parents and kids who want parents, on the other hand there is the question of taking children out of their environment and culture. One caller made a good point - that people here to should support Haitians to keep children in their country as with the awful loss of life, the children are needed to rebuild the society.
On a lighter note, I laughed when I read about the South Korea ministries that are sending their workers home to bonk and produce kids. This is apparently to alleviate the issues caused by a population growing old. Having been to Seoul and seen how diligently Koreans follow their bosses orders, I am sure there is a lot of earnest bonking going on over there. The reality though is that there needs to be an improvement in access to childcare to make it feasible for their workforce to have more kids.
The news this week has also highlighted the uglier side of parenting and shown that just because you can procreate, doesn't necessarily mean you are fit to do so. The ghastly story of the two boys who tortured some other boys. Today the news reported the torturers came from a horrific home environment where they saw their mother being abused, took drugs and watched horror films. What I find so strange is they were known to the local were parents who, IMHO, are not fit for purpose. It makes me think all parents should be made to go through the adoption type assessment of their fitness for purpose as parents. Then again, if me and Mr Plummy Mummy had to do that, we probably wouldn't have had tot as the delay would have made us too old to be considered fit.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Potholes!

Driving along Ennis Road today we nearly toppled down a very large pothole. The roads sure have taken a bashing with the snow and ice and stuff.
I feel sorry for the bikers who don't have the other 3 wheels that let me escape before we passed Alice on her way to Wonderland!

P.S. just saw on the Greenwich gov site that you can report potholes


Can anyone recommend a dentist in the area - preferably one that is NHS and also caters for kids.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Avatar - a visual feast with little drama

I've saw Avatar in 3d about 3 weeks ago. I put on the funny specs and sat down to be absolutely astounded by the visual feast presented to me. This was not 3d that came out at me but 3d that pulled me in. Yet, halfway through the film I began to get annoyed at the limitations to my feast imposed by the screen - I literally wanted to step into the window that the screen had become. And as it's a long film I found the hardware on my face a bit heavy especially as it sat on top of my own glasses.
3 weeks on I have not been tempted to see the film again - once the amazingness of 3d wore off, it doesn't stand up as a story for me. There were very few points that were new instead just a rehash of the "we are one with the world" message. I felt no empathy with Jake Sully and didn't really learn much about the Na'vi. My usability head also kept getting in the way as I wanted to know how he coped with the interface of living in another very different body especially as he had to switch over to his own so frequently. I assume things would smell, taste and feel different and wanted to know how that affected his perception, personality and movements.
Contrast this to one of my all time favourites "A man called horse" made 40 years ago, starring the talented Richard Harris. In that film, you got an essence of how the man changed and a real view of the life the Sioux lived - though I don't know how accurate it was, it felt very real to me.
3d is in it's early days. Tot will be able to see Avatar in 10 years time and I hope by then we will get both the depth in vision and in drama. I also hope they figure out a way for us to watch 3d without needed any special eye furniture.

Sunday Blackheath Sunday

Have been meaning to get over to Blackheath Farmers market ever since I moved to this area. On Saturday after seeing that the sunny weather report for Sunday, we made plans to head down. It's so sad that trains no longer go to Blackheath from Plumstead as we could have had a car free day. I had a quick look on the tfl site and it showed that on Saturday you could go to Blackheath via Woolwich.
That was Saturday, so I thought it was reasonable the same would be true for Sunday. Right? WRONG wrong wrong - we got to Woolwich, parked at the station and merrily went along to be told that trains to Blackheath could not be caught from that Woolwich line that day. So we jumped into the car (so glad we took it rather than walked else trip would have been off) and drove off to Welling. £1 for the car park is outrageous when Woolwich is free on Sunday but we paid and headed for the trains. What joy to be able to use my PAYG travelcard. I did panic a bit as it was nearly 11 and I thought the market would be done by 12.
We arrived in glorious sunshine to a buzzing Blackheath - lots of strollers, lots of young middle class in view ...Gordon Brown should get down here with his latest campaign ;). The market is small, and it didn't have the variety in veg that you would get at e.g. Borough but maybe the snow had something to do with that. I saw with relief the market is open to 2p.m. The stall holders obviously know their market as we walked around some had sold out of their produce and most of the others were doing a good trade. As expected, there were some stalls selling bread/cakes. Will I never learn that you should walk all the way round before buying as I got a spinach/ricotta roll and then passed a stall that had the most delicious looking veggie tarts on sale.

Once our shopping was done we decided to go to Cafe Rouge rather than a pub as a) it's very child friendly and b) unlike a pub the quality of food is predictable. We came to regret this in some ways. On turning up the place was not full but as some tables were reserved, we very lucky to be given a table by the door. For this, I had to tolerate blasts of cold wind hurtling into my back every time the door was opened. The staff were very busy, mostly greeting people at the door just to tell them the place was all full.

We waited ages to be served. When served, we took the waiter's suggestion to have garlic bread...if you go on a Sunday DON'T do this as it seems to radically affect the time you eat your meal. The bread arrived at the same time as tot's meal. We had to remind the waiter to bring our drinks. It was really lucky that the tot's meal arrived as we devoured the delicious bread and then sat there for 20-25 mins waiting for the mains to come. We had to ask the staff where they were and were informed they were being prepared just then. I told the waiter that they should get more staff. The hostess / maitre d' person piped up and said this would not help them. I don't run a restaurant but seriously how can this be true?
During our long wait, other would-be diners walked out as they hadn't been served. One made quite a point of this and [I think] was rudely brushed off by the hostess/maitre d' person. Great customer service. Bear in mind, people were regularly being turned away during all this time.
When our food arrived, it was delicious but how can you enjoy it when your tot who had eaten nearly 45 mins before is squirming about and just wants to leave.
My hubby and tot had dessert and we made to leave. While hubby was in the loo, the waiter again made the comment about how extra staff would not help as according to him the problem is that diners all came at the same time. So this is a restaurant, in a prime location which would get a lot of lunchtime or dinner trade and cannot handle the number of diners it covers. It's a restaurant where many of the tables were reserved so they could actually predict that they would be busy. This is not a new restaurant but an established one. Methinks someone in Cafe Rouge management needs to review this as it's madness. I enjoy a leisurely lunch but I absolutely hate waiting for food to arrive. The real shame here is that that particular waiter is one who has served once before and is a really nice person. If they were just a tad more efficient, people could enjoy visiting this restaurant. Next time I think we'll go the pub or El Pirata.
We finished off in Blackheath by going to Pares shoe shop and getting tot a brand new pair of pink shoes. That cheered us all up. The staff in there are are very good at handling children (the lady seeing to us even laughed off the swift kick in the head tot accidently gave her) and even better, there was a sale and tot got a lollipop as we left :)
We happily made our way back to Welling and were home by 3. I'm not sure the market is compelling enough to visit frequently but I'm sure that when the sun is out we will make our way there but next time, we'll take a picnic.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Passport application ...funny

A few months ago I had a bit of a hard time changing my passport. A mate sent me the following text in an email which made me laugh.

This was actually taken from a passport application and a member of staff copied it, as it made her laugh all day.

Dear Minister,
I'm in the process of renewing my passport but I am a total loss to understand or believe the hoops I am being asked to jump through.
How is it that Bert Smith of T.V. Rentals Basingstoke has my address and telephone number and knows that I bought a satellite dish from them back in 1994, and yet, the Government is still asking me where I was born and on what date?
How come that nice West African immigrant chappy who comes round every Thursday night with his DVD rentals van can tell me every film or video I have had out since he started his business up eleven years ago, yet you still want me to remind you of my last three jobs, two of which were with contractors working for the government?
How come the T.V. detector van can tell if my T.V. is on, what channel I am watching and whether I have paid my licence or not, and yet if I win the government run lottery they have no idea I have won or where I am and will keep the bloody money to themselves if I fail to claim in good time.
Do you people do this by hand?
You have my birth date on numerous files you hold on me, including the one with all the income tax forms I've filed for the past 30-odd years. It's on my health insurance card, my driver's licence, on the last four passports I've had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I've had to fill out before being allowed off the planes and boats over the last 30 years, and all those insufferable census forms that are done every ten years and the electoral registration forms I have to complete, by law, every time our lords and masters are up for re-election.
Would somebody please take note, once and for all, I was born in Maidenhead on the xth of xxxx 19xx, my mother's name is Mary, her maiden name was Reynolds, my father's name is Robert, and I'd be absolutely astounded if that ever changed between now and the day I die!
I apologise Minister. I'm obviously not myself this morning. But between you and me, I have simply had enough! You mail the application to my house, then you ask me for my address. What is going on? Do you have a gang of Neanderthals working there? Look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? I don't want to activate the Fifth Reich for God's sake! I just want to go and park my weary backside on a sunny, sandy beach for a couple of week's well-earned rest away from all this crap.
Well, I have to go now, because I have to go to back to Salisbury and get another copy of my birth certificate because you lost the last one. AND to the tune of 60 quid! What a racket THAT is!! Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same spot to assist in the issuance of a new passport the same day? But nooooo, that'd be too damn easy and maybe make sense. You'd rather have us running all over the place like chickens with our heads cut off, then find some tosser to confirm that it's really me on the goddamn picture - you know... the one where we're not allowed to smile in case we look as if we are enjoying the process!
Hey, you know why we can't smile? 'Cause we're totally jacked off!
I served in the armed forces for more than 25 years including over ten years at the Ministry of Defence in London. I have had security clearances which allowed me to sit in the Cabinet Office, five seats away from the Prime Minister while he was being briefed on the first Gulf War and I have been doing volunteer work for the British Red Cross ever since I left the Services. However, I have to get someone 'important' to verify who I am -- you know, someone like my doctor...
who, before he got his medical degree 6 months ago WAS LIVING IN PAKISTAN...

Yours sincerely,
An Irate British Citizen.