Sunday, 30 December 2007

Auld Lang Syne and all that

The more observant among you may have noticed the dearth of blog entries over the past week or so. I had a little Christmas holiday - how cheeky of me! I'm almost back into the blogging spirit now, but I think you'll have to wait until 2008 for a proper new post. Roll on the New Year! Can't say I'm sad to see the back of 2007; not exactly a vintage year for Giraffe-a-licious. But it did witness the birth of Ponderings and Ruminations; and for that I'm sure you are all most grateful!

Friday, 21 December 2007

Tory-graph thieves!

The cheek of it! I open up my newspaper today and what do I find? An article telling me all about the 'there weren't three kings' issue. The Daily Telegraph have evidently been reading my blog! They claim it is written in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments on the subject, so maybe it's Dr Williams who is a Giraffe-a-licious fan! I'll have to see about getting myself invited to the Lambeth conference this year. I'll sort them all out!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Ponderings on power

I've been prompted to ponder lately just what type of person it is that wants to run the country. Surely it is one of the most thankless tasks around? Yet huge amounts of money and effort are poured into electoral and party leadership campaigns as the various candidates clamour for media coverage. I'm not saying that I don't understand why one might want to enter into politics. No doubt the majority of MPs get into the game with the belief that they can make changes for the good to help both their constituents and the wider population.

I'd like to use my local MP as an example; Philip Hollobone is a Conservative MP. He doesn't hold a cabinet position or have any particular prominence in the House of Commons. He is truly a representative of his constituency. He has all of the advantages and disadvantages of being a member of the opposition; he can argue with the government and give them a piece of his mind without having to worry about upsetting his boss, but most likely struggles to implement much real change due to the lack of influence suffered by most opposition members. This year he received some national publicity having been revealed as the least expensive MP in the house. Efficiency is unusual in politics! I've never plumped for Tory so far in all my 5 years of voting. In the next election, I will stick to that. I won't be voting Tory, I'll be voting Philip!

My point is that I can get on board with these type of politicians. They make sense to me. It's the guys with the huge ambitions that confuse me. Some of them don't seem completely power hungry, so maybe they're just delusional.

Can you imagine being in charge of such a bureaucracy riddled government and civil service? A system where a mistake can be made a million miles away from you and yet you're the one who gets the blame? Where if you actually have a good idea it will take an age for it to get through and actually help people? At least if you're England football manager the fans cheer when you win (the money's a bit better too!). When was the last time the British government had a 'win'? It's a constant stream of losses punctuated by the odd draw.

Of course I'm glad that someone wants to do it. We'd be pretty stuffed if no-one aspired to the job. I'm just amazed at the sheer quantity that do.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

We three k.. now let me just stop you there.

I’m sure we all know the carol: “We three kings of orient are…” Although of course your level of maturity will determine whether this is followed by the words “…bearing gifts we travel afar…” or “one in a taxi, one in a car…” Steady yourselves because I’m about to blow a Christmas myth wide open!


I can feel the shock-waves rippling away from me! I should be on QI! Only the gospel of Matthew mentions the Magi (wise men, not kings) and nowhere does it say that there were three of them. Matthew chapter 2 says:

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men [1] from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose [2] and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

[1] 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16 [2] 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

Wise men? Check. Three gifts? Check. Three wise men? Er….no. That was quite an assumption someone made there wasn’t it?! Anyway my point is, that for me at least, the most exciting part is not the Magi themselves but the gifts that they brought. Although please note that I do still maintain that Christmas is not about the presents! Gold, frankincense and myrrh eh? You might find some gold in your average Marks and Spencer catalogue but I think you’d be hard pushed to find either of the other two. The great thing about these gifts is that they were given to Jesus Christ specifically to point to what his life on earth was going to be about.

Gold – a gift for a king. The King. Not Elvis… ahem. Jesus. The King of the Jews. The Messiah, whom God promised to his people generations ago.

Frankincense – an ingredient in the production of incense. In the Old Testament incense was burnt as a sacrifice to God. It was holy and used when God was to come into the presence of the Israelites. Jesus was both God and man, truly and clearly in the presence of his people.

Myrrh – a fragrant material used not only in incense, but also as an embalming ointment. The gift of myrrh pointed to Christ’s ultimate reason for being born – to die.

Man, that’s just so cool! Well obviously not the fact that he had to die. But the fact that he did. And that these weird presents were saying just that!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Dictionary corner

It disturbs me that the only things I can think of writing this morning are X-Factor or Strictly Come Dancing related. I refuse to dwell any longer on these things and I have a cunning plan to help me overcome this patch of writers' block. My secret weapon is the dictionary. Well it may not be quite so secret now, but you get my drift.

I hold within my hands a 2001 edition of the Oxford Concise English Dictionary. Momentarily I shall open it at random, with my eyes shut and pick a word using the age old art of pointing. I shall then hold forth with my knowledge of and feelings towards this word. It's a dangerous game (in the past some have likened it to Russian roulette) but I feel it is my only choice.

Here we go...

...and the word is: dirt bike (noun) - a motorcycle designed for use on rough terrain, especially in scrambling.

Fascinating I'm sure you'll agree. Dirt bikes eh? The type of sport that you only ever see on British Eurosport or late night Channel 5. It is strange how so many of us are happy to watch cars go round and round a flat, tarmaced surface but don't take any notice of the crazy loons on dirt-bikes; leaping, jumping and achieving feats which seem to defy gravity. If I was going to go and watch some sort of dirt bike activity I guess it would be the indoor trials that I've caught on TV a couple of times. It's kind of difficult to describe but it's akin to an obstacle course for bikes. Very springy and flexible bikes, but motorbikes none the less. The riders have to maneouvre these machines, not to mention themselves, around tyres, balance bars, huge piles of dirt - kind of like show-jumping but less pretty. Goodness knows how they do it. It must be frustrating when you have an incredible talent for something that no-one knows about! If they were footballers with the equivalent skills they'd be earning mountains of money and have supermodel (or at least popstar) girlfriends. Ah the dirt bike life is a tough one.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Calzaghe, my car and one very cold Giraffe-a-licious.

Well darn my socks and call me Graham! The British public got it right for once. Joe Calzaghe victorious as BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Great a Lewis Hamilton fan as I am, it was a spot on decision for him to come second to Calzaghe. What's next I ask you? A deserving winner for Strictly Come Dancing in a couple of weeks? Perish the thought. I tell you, if that Eastenders kid wins I'm going to have some serious words to say on the subject.

Good grief it was cold today. All three (yes, three, count them) of our bird baths in the back garden were frozen over. Not that the birds were bothered. They were all in hiding, save one hardy blackbird. They made the right decision in staying out of sight today and not just because of the cold. Having got my car out of the garage this morning I noticed a delightful bit of bird graffiti. Sadly they don't have access to multi-coloured spray paints and so use what is readily available to them. I did contemplate giving the Tate Modern a call purporting to be an artist with a groundbreaking piece of work for them, but ultimately I decided that I didn't want to part with my beloved Skoda. I went at the bonnet with a sponge, scrubbing brush and ready supply of hot water. Honestly, someone should be selling this stuff as glue. I was an exhausted shell of a Giraffe-a-licous by the time I'd finished. We're a bird loving family in this house, but if I ever catch the varmint that made its own personal mark on my little Fabia I can't be held responsible for my actions.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Giraffe-a-licious's Guide to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2007

It's that time of year again. The point at which we sport loving Brits have to decide which of our sportsmen and women will be awarded that much coveted silver camera trophy thingy. The Beeb announced its shortlist of 10 potential winners a little over a week ago.

So in order to help all of you sporting ignoramuses out there with the difficult choice that faces you, behold Giraffe-a-licious's Guide to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2007.

Contestant number one....come on down!

1.) Joe Calzaghe - boxing. Undisputed super-middleweight champion of the world. Welsh, but I'll try not to hold that against him. If his success had come in a sport more widely recognised in Britain then he'd be a shoe-in. Guaranteed to make top 3 but I'll be surprised if he wins.

2.) Lewis Hamilton - Formula One motosport. I love this guy. Runner-up in his first F1 season. Could have won it. Personally, I'd rather he didn't win the BBC award this year. Yes, he had an amazing rookie season but I don't like to see a nearly-man beat a true champion like Calzaghe. Hamilton will have plenty more opportunities to win it, no doubt once he is a world champion.

3.) Ricky Hatton - boxing. If Hatton beats Floyd Mayweather in the early hours of Sunday morning then there is no doubt that he will also be crowned Sports Personality of the Year. It feels as though the whole nation is behind him at the moment, even those of us who aren't really boxing fans. But if the arrogant, trash-talking Mayweather beats him then he'll be out of the running. All or nothing for Hatton.

4.) Andy Murray - tennis. Murray has done brilliantly this year to finish the season at 11th in world, having missed 3 months (including 2 grand slams) of competition with a wrist injury. In the same situation as Hamilton - a winner of the future.

5.) Christine Ohuruogu - athletics. World Champion at 400m. What a year for this gal. An absolutely awesome performance in Osaka. The controversy surrounding her missed drugs tests will prevent her from taking the BBC trophy home. However in my opinion she has proved her innocence and it would be great to see her back next year with an Olympic gold medal around her neck.

6.) Paula Radcliffe - athletics. Winner of the New York marathon just 10 months after giving birth to her first child. Great achievement but didn't compete enough this year to justify giving her the title. Previous winner in 2002.

7.) Jason Robinson - rugby union. This guy deserves a lifetime achievement award rather than just this year's gong. Inspirational for England during the World Cup but ultimately they didn't win the final. Now retired - could make it into the top 3 by way of 'thank you' votes.

8.) Justin Rose - golf. European Order of Merit winner. A great season for the 27 year old but for a golfer to make any headway in this competition he must have won a major. Stick him in the same box as Hamilton and Murray.

9.) James Toseland - motorsport, superbikes. World Champion for the second time this year and graduating to MotoGP next season. Sadly his sport is just too obscure for the average punter to recognise.

10.) Jonny Wilkinson - rugby. I get the feeling that Mr W would be highly embarrassed were he to win again (he previously won in 2003). Talismanic for England at the World Cup, he will always remain one of our most loved sportsmen. But he would be the first to admit that many on this shortlist have outshone him this year.

So there you go. No arguments please. "This is my word. And as such is beyond contestation." <-------- name the film! Not you Kate.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007


Exciting news. In case you haven't noticed the nice little image over there on the side bar - I'm blogging for Ouch! Ouch is the BBC's disability website and it's all very shiny and exciting. Have a look for yourself at

Practically it means that I'll probably be a little less frequent with my blogging here for a few weeks. However all my Ouch blogs will be disability related, so when I feel the need to sound off on something in the way of sport, film or Strictly Come Dancing then I'll be back to my lovely Ponderings and Ruminations. I shall not abandon her!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Give me a W! Give me an I! Give me an S! Give me a P! Give me an A!

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get your hands on a Wispa at the moment? Well, obviously not as difficult as it was a few months ago before Cadbury's relaunched them, but they're selling like hot-cakes. Hmmm... do hot cakes genuinely sell more quickly than cold or room temperature cakes? I'm sure there's some sort of research study going on into it at the moment and in a few months time all will be revealed. No-one researches important things these days. It's always, 'which kind of biscuit gives optimum tea dunkage?' or 'if you put a wendy house in a field of cows, will they move into it?'

Anyway, Wispas. Oh how I adore them. To be honest up until a month or so ago I hadn't even realised that I missed them. Yet now that I know that they are out there just waiting to fulfil their Wispa destiny of melting wondrously in my mouth, I find it hard to think of anything else. That's the true reason for my lack of blogging recently. I've been roaming the towns of Britain hunting down the chocolatey goodness. I heard a couple of weeks ago that Woolworths were selling 3 for £1. But woe to me! I was too late in hearing the news. Other Wispa addicts had got their first. I've searched high and low in the supermarkets, but to no avail. The local shops don't have them. My mecca these last few weeks has been Blockbusters. Perhaps because of their ridiculous price tag of 55p each, they are the only shop I have found to have no problem with their Wispa stock. Although it does feel a little silly walking into a DVD rental shop and approaching the counter with just a couple of chocolate bars. But it is an embarrassment I can live with if it means I can hold the precious, life-sustaining, ecstasy-inducing Wispa in my unworthy hand.

All I require now is for Cadbury's to bring the Wispa Gold back. Now that was a real chocolate bar...