We knew Piers Morgan was big but not how big. Now we do.
If this week's Live magazine is to be interpreted, he's about as big as a fridge - a posh one mind.
Now read this
For a song written in the 1970s, this is remarkably prescient. In fact, it could be the only song in history that not only deals with coping with economic misery, car scrappage, supermarket overcharging, oil prices and inflation but is also very good; uplifting even.
Check out the story of The Fast Flying Vestibule on this great American poetry site or listen below.
As anyone buying anything at Superdrug can probably testify, the guys on the till will ask whether you want stamps with your toothpaste.
But now there's a reason to say 'yes'. A small one. The hair gloop to over-the-counter medicines store is offering 5% off stamps, which means you save a fiver for every £100 of stamps you buy, or in my case 24p off a 12-pack of first classes.
Please people, if you spend all your money in supermarkets and spend your life wondering why you have no money, too much weight, an overflowing bin and no time for anything worthwhile because you spend all day searching for money-off vouchers for 5% of processed ready meals in supermarkets, then this is for you.
The Love Food Hate Waste website has loads of tips on how to use the food you buy to eat rather than throw away.
And the best tip has to be the recipe for roast dinner soup. Check it out now:
There is no better way to spend a lunchtime.
Currently in the lead is 'Elvis makes television and entertainment history with his Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii - Via Satellite special.' with his birth only in third place.
And now gratuitous big pics of the King.
If you've ever harboured desires to live the American dream, in America, then you're going to need to work once you get there and to do that you're going to need a green card.
One route is to enter the official US lottery. While it doesn't guarantee you a green card, if you're heartily sick of this relentless rainy rubbish British weather then why not while away this lunchtime seeing if you're eligible. The draw closes today.
If you've ever thought about buying specs online but are put off by the idea that buying something unseen that's going to sit on your face every day for a couple of years is an absurd way to behave, help is at hand.
Glasses Direct the low-cost supplier of eyewear that comes without the overheads of high High Street rents now offers a 10-day at home trial on up to four pairs. That's worth taking a look at (if you'll forgive the limp play on words).
And now pics of famous people in similar glasses
And finally the greatest song about glasses ever written...
Calling all people with unusual names who haven't switched your Facebook URL to one bearing your name... you can still do it here:
The system was launched in the summer, says Woman Entrepreneur, so many of the more common names have been taken but if you're lucky you can change yours from the generic:
Isn't it astonishing how much porn there is on Twitter? OK I know it's everywhere but Twitter's the latest thing.
Click on the day's 'Trending Topics' such as Halloween and you'll be greeted with endless lists of 'tweets' from innocent people mucking about with their 140 characters but look closer and you'll see a list often peppered with invitations to meet webcam owners in various states of undress and other related bedroom offshoots.
Astonishing? Well, no it isn't astonishing at all.
Like it or loath it, here is a business sector with a firm grasp of how to promote itself in the online Wild West. You have to admire the tenacity and ingenuity. And businesses that claim ruination at the hands of the online 'revolution' should be learning from them.
What is truly astonishing is just how many businesses still have no online presence whatsoever. How many decrepit local shops don't bother to create a website or a blog and get it indexed on Google before whinging that the future's out the get them? Guys, if you're not on Google you don't exist. Not any more. We've moved on.
If the oldest profession is on the hi-tech ball there really is no excuse for traditional ones such as butchers, bakers or shoe shops to shy away from cyberspace. Your customers are just as likely to begin a real-world shopping trip with a search on Google as they are with an online one. Get over it. Get online.
If you believe the stats, porn and social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are rather more popular than sorry little High Street businesses with old-school non-micro chips on their shoulders. Maybe, just maybe, it's because the pornographers and the geeks are making an effort.
Look. If you really don't know where to start you could dip your toes into the digital with an off-the-shelf blog package like the one used to power this one.
And then spend your lunch break reading these two useful pieces on how to maintain a site worth visiting and then a bit on how to promote it.
And if you're business is worth saving read this.
(I should perhaps add that this rant is in response to another local business complaining that the internet is killing their business while not doing anything about it.)
Bad news is that with the spending power of our pound abroad taking another sewer-bound turn, the chances of me attending are as likely as my team, AFC Wimbledon, winning the Champions League my lifetime.
Still, here's a great piece on 40 ways to download free music.
Definitely worth a read one lunchtime.Related
Anyone who has taken the plunge into the latest allotment craze will realise that everything you grow arrives within a four-day window in August and there's only so many meals featuring 80 courgettes a human can tolerate.
The trick is to find fruit and veg that is ready at different times of the year and autumn raspberries are one of the great treats.
Autumn Bliss raspberries are 'fat, sweet, plentiful, juicy and easy to grow' and can still be picked in November - you need to plant them this autumn for a crop next year. Plants are starting to go on sale now.
You can get 10 plants here for £12.99, reduced from £16.99
It's that time of year, folks. No, not winter - although it feels like it today - but covering school books with wallpaper season. If, like me, you dread it, don't. There is a very easy way that takes about a minute.
Old lightbulbs are being phased out. Get over it! as an advertising slogan might put it. And where once they cost a fiver a pop, you can now pick them up for pence; 10 pence in fact at Robert Dyas. In store only.
Update: 10p bulbs now available online
Oi smokers! Smoke. Smoke as much as you like. I really don't care. But quit it with the littering why don't you. Get a portable ashtray and keep your butts off the pavement. Thank you for listening.
I noticed Hercule Poirot that famous Belgian sleuth off the telly uses a rather smart silver pocket ashtray for his cigar butts. So if it's good enough for him... besides they're really not very expensive. Try these:
That enough? Good. There's really no excuse.
If you've ever been hounded by "revenue protection" monkeys, stung for £20 because there was a queue at the station ticket office and had to hop on the train without paying or you'd miss the train, have been bullied into paying unfair penalties by empty threats of prosecution and a criminal record... read this.
For example, says the piece by Andrew Gilligan in the Evening Standard, if you have to jump on a train with no ticket...
'This is where the most useful part of the Penalty Fares Rules comes in - Rule 7 (4), which states that a penalty fare must not be charged "if ... there were no facilities available for selling the appropriate ticket or other authority for the journey the person wanted to make".
The Rules themselves do not define what "no facilities available" means. But in separate guidance on penalty fares ("Penalty Fares Policy") issued by the Department for Transport, it is made quite clear, in clauses 4.2 and 4.11, that passengers must be given "sufficent opportunity" to buy a ticket and that regular queues over three minutes (off-peak) and five minutes (peak) breach the definition of what is "sufficient".
It is not clear whether this definition has any legal force - but if you quote it in your letter back to the train company, you are unlikely to be bothered again.'
Or you're threatened with a criminal record...
'Train companies often scare people into paying up by threatening prosecution and a criminal record. However, the legislation establishing penalty fares, the Railways Act 1993, section 130, states that apart from failing to give your right name and address, "nothing in this section creates, or authorises the creation of any [criminal] offence". The Penalty Fares Regulations 1994 state that "the recovery of a penalty fare is a civil debt". So even if after reading your letter the company still decides it wants the money, it has to sue you - probably not worthwhile for such a small sum.'
If your idea of a pub is queueing up, I dunno, like in a methadone clinic, watched over by six bouncers and two policemen for a maximum of two drinks in a kind of binge drinkers' theme park then you need to head for Oldham, where such an establishment was featured in this week's Panorama - The Truth About Happy Hour.
It's a site where you type in destination A and destination B and it will show you how to walk between the two with times for fast, medium and slow walkers and show how many calories you'll burn off depending on your speed.
Other cities include Birmingham, Sheffield, Cambridge, Manchester, Leeds, Bolton, Norwich and Glasgow. But it really comes into its own in London, where the execrable Underground rail system increasingly feels like a mobile sanatorium for swine flu victims.
Check out walkit.com - we love it.
A while back I showed how you could save £1bn, ok slight exaggeration, by following my dad's diet of not eating bread. It works. Promise. 'Bread kills.'
So I was delighted to see that famous thin man Frankie Dettori uses the same method to keep the pounds off and the trophies galloping in.
He told Metro: 'Bread is a killer. Because of the yeast and the way it slows everything down. And try to avoid sugar. Simple tips but very hard to follow. Try living without bread – it’s very difficult.'
Read the interview here.
The Big Chill festival, according the the army of festival-goers in the building, is one of the better ones. It's big but not too big, it's chilled yet warm and it's family friendly.
And for a taster of what it's like you could do worse than download a free album from the Big Issue website.
And if you want tickets, get them here
'We officially announce to you the result of VW Motors Email Lottery Promotion of £950,000.00GBP. Contact James Haggin for further details: firstname.lastname@example.org'
Feel free to contact James on my behalf. Apparently I won a Volkwagen, a literal of a car if ever there was one.
A friend of mine once studied how many sub-clauses a human can cope with in an English sentence before the brain explodes. I don't know the results because the paper was too badly stained to read when his head blew up.
His research went along the lines of: the man who lives in a house with a green door in a suburb of Liverpool where the courts are full footballers who are overpaid like musicians used to be until the internet that legitimises theft of copyrighted material from which artists earn money to pay the rent for the house with the green door and so on. Pause for breath. Bang!
I feel, had he lived, his life may not have been the worthless irritation it became for him because his knowledge could now be put to good use to help a human try to remember the hundreds of internet passwords that we now need to access anything useful, that we're not allowed to write down, must be unique, a combination of eight letters, some uppercase, and numbers that we all have to memorise.
Luckily, you don't have to remember them or write them down. His life would still have been worthless. For there's a little piece of software called Password Agent that securely stores all your passwords and, even better, automatically fills in the login details of all the sites you save. Check it out here:
Have you ever wondered how many batteries you have in your household? According to a recent made-up survey, the average household has about a billion - a figure tripled if you have children who have battery-powered toys.
Every household should therefore have one of these £3.99 battery voltage testers.
The time you save from working out by trial and error which batteries still work and the money you save from not throwing out perfectly good batteries is incalculable.
Chinese cabbages cost about a quid at the supermarket. So if you have space to grow your own you might want to think about this offer: you can get 10 fast-growing plants for £14.95. Not bad already but you also get 10 purple sprouting broccoli plants, 10 pak chois, 10 white sprouting broccolis, 10 cabbages and 10 cauliflowers. That's 70 plants for £15 + £4p+p.
Orders must be made by the end of July for delivery late August. Find out more.
Or call 0844 922 0606. Quote code: ABP9.
Following a non-scientific survey by me on the streets outside this building one lunchtime I can now reveal that motorists hate cyclists, cyclists hate motorists, pedestrians hate motorists and cyclists but cyclists hate pedestrians back so basically everyone hates each other. Trouble is, motorists know that they can transform their travelling enemies into roadkill with but a small amount of pressure on the accelerator pedal and walk away with little more than a ticking off from the authorities. The king of the urban jungle packs an internal combustion engine and there's nothing we can do. Is there?
Well, in a world where oil is running out and in a country proudly useless at public transport, it won't be long before the bicycle is the only way of getting around. (I have relatives who thought nothing of cycling from Essex to the Lake District in the 1950s.)
It's heartening to see then that this summer there are series of cycling events that involve cars being banned from four of our major cities. On one level it'll be a fun day out with friends and family whizzing around the city on your bike and on another, you'll get a first-hand taste of the future.
But it's not just for hardcore cyclists. It's for everyone (with a bike).
If (ridiculous analogy to follow) you've seen the film 28 Days Later and like the idea of a city without the constant din of car traffic is an intriguing one, Skyride is for you too.
It's taking place in August and September on the streets of Manchester, Leicester, Glasgow and London, which will become 'bike-only zones for a day of fun for the family'.
It's free. And it's liberating. It's also - rather ironically - sponsored by a subscription television channel, which offers the kind of deals that encourage you to stay in and watch as much telly as possible to get your money's worth. Never mind. Make an effort. Check out:
As the world, well some of it, mourns the passing of the King of Pop lest we forget Joe Strummer, whose contribution to, and influence on, decent music far outweighs much of what sits in various halls of fame around the world.
And what better way to pay your respects than enter a raffle to try to win Clash drummer Topper Headon's Mini Cooper, which he has donated to Strummer's New Music Foundation charity.
Enter now, it's only a tenner. A car for a tenner! Rock 'n' roll.
Entry closes on 13 July.
And for some now pictures of The Clash.
If your into music, photography and video, I mean seriously ill into it and need to store 160,000 digital photos or 8,325 hours of MP3 music or 500 hours of video, then you need one of these. And this one is the cheapest I've seen, just £44 down from £55. It's moronically simple to operate.
Check it out here:
Not only do you save money by not dragging your inner zombie around shopping centres to buy imported goods you don't need, but you build important real-life social networks, vital if you're job hunting, and, heavens, you might even have fun.
Still not convinced?
Still not interested?
Now for some pictures of zombies shopping...
Had enough of last place on the grid in the rat race of life? Then check this out. The Vodafone Foundation is looking for eight people to 'give something back to society' by working abroad for a UK-based charity for a year. Salary and expenses could be up to £45,000.
You need to offer passion, drive and commitment so just being fed up with your current lot is not a suitable qualification but it's being billed as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
To apply (by 30 July) and find out more visit...
A message from Lewis Hamilton...
Now we have to destroy all evidence that we have bank accounts, buy stuff, use the phone or the cash machine but fire is an unacceptable means to destruction. No, we have to turn each sheet into 4mm strips of pet cage padding. We have to shred.
But the rest of us can't just walk away from our responsibilities. We have to buy a machine capable of turning everything to do with our bank into rubbish.
And here's one that's looking like a decent deal.
The Fellowes Cross Cut P-48C shredder is on offer at Ryman for £32.99 (was £39.99) + delivery.
It's big and it's robust. Rather like RBS before it made the biggest loss in our banking history.
You can read some glowing reviews on Amazon (£40) with free delivery. But the advantage of Ryman is you can pick it up in store for the same discounted price.* You just need to carry it. It's a bit of a beast.
(*And the Ryman website isn't working.)
Is it just me or are environmentally friendly but ultimately pointless gift items merely the real world equivalent of that stuff physicists dream of: anti matter?
What exactly is the green benefit in making something no one wants whatever it's made of?
OK, maybe it is just me, but bowls made of old vinyl records is a kind of sacrilege in my world. Especially when you can make them yourself in the grill. Recipe: take old record, heat up, wrap round bowl to form shape. Blah. Why not just play them as they were intended?
That said, there are some interesting items available on the revamped Big Green Switch site. Check out:
and visit the shop, where many items are now discounted or available for bulk buying.
Ever fancied yourself as the next Noel Gallagher or, I don't know, world's best band The Toy Dolls, the man who saved country, Waylon Jennings, or one of the more interesting pop acts, Katy Perry, here's something worth checking out.
Take it away is an Arts Council initiative designed to help more people get involved in learning and playing music. The scheme allows individuals to apply for a loan of up to £2,000 for the purchase of any kind of musical instrument, and pay it back in nine monthly instalments, completely interest free.
The scheme is open to everyone (over the age of 18), but primarily designed to help those who might otherwise be unable to afford an instrument appropriate for their needs.
Its aims are:
• to encourage children and young people to develop their interests and skills in music making
• to inspire new players of all ages to begin learning an instrument
• to enable those on lower incomes to acquire an instrument appropriate to their needs (or the needs of their children)
Alternatively you may want to try...
Cheapo credit cards (Is there such a thing? Not really. Only for those who can clear the balance, please)