There's a lot of buzz about the new Cadbury's Trucks advert. I'm afraid I don't like it. To be truthful I didn't really like the drumming gorilla one either. The gorilla itself is fine but this thing of having a random idea, sticking a product on the end and calling that advertising is a bit lazy if you ask me. It won loads of awards though, so maybe there's something about my pedantic, logical brain that's just not getting it. Before I get too churlish, it's funny that youtube highlights another advert about chocolate and trucks which gets straight to the point. Get your laughing gear round this.


Ladybird: Make your own vase

Ladybird Prints is truly a wonderful thing, selling prints of illustrations from classic Ladybird books. There's a huge selection from different eras, all nicely organised. My favourites are the mid-60s non-fiction books like Things to make and the How it works and Science and Space series. There's something for everyone at only £7.50 a pop (via The Lark).

The Links

I got an enquiry from a reader a while ago (hello Geoff) asking if there was a feed for the Quick ones on the right there. These links were separated out in the new design so aren't included in the main rss feed. I replied that indeed there was but failed to notice that the reply was caught in my spam filter. Ouch. Sorry Geoff. So for anyone who's interested in this linky goodness I've added buttons for the whole lot, or the rss feed or to add me to your network. Do add me if you feel that way inclined.

Secondly, I finally joined twitter. For a long time I couldn't find a need for it. Still can't in fact, but I enjoy reading the twittering of friends. If anyone would like to join me for a bit of web 2.0 please do.

This was the first Easter-related thing I could think of. A bit of Mott from 1973.

My blogging mojo has totally gone this week so here's a video for Traffic's Paper Sun. The song is a fab sitar-heavy stomper and the video stands out from all the other clips of 60s bands in suits and screaming girlies by featuring them wandering languidly round a natural history museum (possibly the Natural History Museum). Sound and vision don't seem to be in harmony but each one is a pleasure in itself.

Tunnock's cyclist

We were at the Tunnock's Tea Rooms in Uddingston again yesterday, ostensibly to pick up a stash of rare Tunnock's products for dustysevens but also to keep an eye on their amazing window displays. Regular readers will know that the window of their bakery is full of fantastic figures made from Tunnock's tea cakes, caramel wafers and the like. The current tableau doesn't disappoint with an array of cyclists and the best yet, tea cake owls:

Tunnock's owl

With a "Monarch of the Glen" deer made from a box of tea cakes in the background. They consistently tread the thin line between madness and genius. It's such a simple idea, to have fun with your own products, but so few companies do it. The lack of big ideas is quite refreshing. Anyway, on a lighter note, their chips were superb. Really light and crispy. The good chip debate continues, with interesting discussion of what the crispy bits are called. Do chip in.

Fried fish bar

In response to that last post about Scotland's classic cafes Mr Gibbon asks two good questions:

  1. Can you please make a list of the cafes, like this, that are in and around Glasgow that are still open?
  2. Where are all the decent chippies?

To Q.1 the answer is yes, will do. I've meant to do that for some time. Q.2 I don't know. I've stopped eating chips out of chip shops because they are generally so rubbish. A decline in national chip standards is a bit of a worry. For a nation that pretty much lives off deep-fried stodge you'd think we could do it a bit better. The only good chips I've had lately were from a place in East Kilbride village called Marini's (or Martini's, I'm not sure), although chips out of any Chinese or kebab shop are usually spot on. They're not chippy chips though. So any recommendations? - could be Glasgow or further afield. Good chips are usually worth travelling for.

Boni's Cafe, Clarkston by Michael Prince

Michael Prince, who took those great photos of the George Hotel has been on a cafe tip lately. He has superb photos of Boni's Cafe in Clarkston, near Glasgow and The Ritz Cafe in Millport. They're both real favourites of mine and feature on the second set of I like postcards. They won't be there forever so enjoy while you can.

Mount Baths, Northampton

This great photo, of Mount Baths in Northampton, comes from Played in Britain, a wonderful website documenting "sports-related architectural gems, sporting landscapes and waterscapes, relics and curios of a sporting persuasion". It's beautifully put together with the enthusiasm of a true fan and the weight of an academic volume (it's backed by English Heritage). The galleries are gorgeous, often arresting because these places are so familiar yet few people take the time to look at them properly. If you want to read more there's an excellent booklist, including Liquid Assets: The lidos and open air swimming pools of Britain plus various regional guides.

Eddie, the oldest resident of the Excalibur Estate, Catford

There's a rather sad entry about the Excalibur Estate in Catford by Doctor Boogie on Nothing To See Here. The 187 prefabs there (the largest estate of its kind left in Europe) have survived for 60 years but are now under serious threat as they don't meet Decent Homes Standard and would cost £8.4 million to refurbish. Clearly the numbers don't add up, but sometimes it's not just about money.

I heart me badge

I found this enormous badge when I was rushing through Glasgow today. It was all grubby and broken but still somehow wonderful. The funny thing was, when I found it I was on my way to give a presentation to some people I didn't know about something I don't know much about and it went pretty well. I got post-presentation euphoria. When I got home and fixed the clasp and cleaned it up (in manner of the mice out of Bagpuss) I enjoyed a moment of putting it on and feeling proud of myself. I've got no idea what it's all about (anyone? - can you buy these badges or is it part of an ad campaign or what?) but for something found in the street I've ended up treasuring it. And I thought, hey, maybe we should all heart ourselves a little bit more from time to time.

Unmitigated England

It's always nice to find people who make money from their writing giving it away for nothing. So here's Unmitigated England, a blog by Peter Ashley who wrote the (essential) book of the same name. His books are a must for fans of old signs, local colour, small shops, everyday architecture and other quintessential symbols of Britishness (plus lots of Len Deighton at the moment). The strapline "a country lost and a country found" sums it up in a nutshell (thanks Gareth).

Charlie tagged me with the 4x4 meme so here goes.

4 jobs I've had

Waitress - I worked in cafe for a year in between doing a degree and a postgrad. The family that owned it were quite eccentric and ran it more as a hobby than a business so everyday was an adventure. There was definitely a novel in there somewhere. It was never too busy and there were lots of regulars so I spent most of the day cooking and chatting to people. Probably my favourite job ever. It was completely stress-free. Even now in a coffee shop I want to jump behind the counter and froth the milk.

Dole clerk - And my least favourite, working in the DHSS for 3 weeks. I was signing on during the summer as a student (when you could still do that) and they said "we've got a job here" so I could hardly say no. It was really miserable, not because of the jobseekers who were fine, but because of the little Hitlers running the place. I was glad to get out after 3 weeks.

Librarian - This covers about 10 years of work, which I really enjoyed for the most part. As a bookish, indie-loving teenager I felt that I'd found my calling. I started as a library assistant (moving around different libraries over the summer) and decided that was what I wanted to do with my life. Studied librarianship, got a job as a cataloguer and spent the next few years classifying and indexing books in a university library. I loved looking at books all day and enjoyed helping people to find things. It started to go a bit pear-shaped when there was a crisis of confidence and library became a dirty word. It was all learning centres and information centres. That drove me mad so I became a...

Web manager - Which is what I do now. It's the sort of non-exciting relative of web developers and web designers. I have to manage the editors, figure out where the website should be going, make sure it's maintained and meets various standards, teach people how to write for the web and generally just make sure the customers are getting what they need. Try as I might I can't make it sound exciting but still it's the right job for me at the moment except when I find myself wishing I was back in the cafe.

4 shows I never miss

It's quite hard to find 4 but at the moment - Harry Hill's TV Burp, Skins, Hotel Babylon, That Mitchell and Webb Experience.

4 places I've been

I've been to lots of places but these are the 4 I'd most like to go back to:

Malta - We had our first family holiday here when Tommy was a baby. I love islands and Malta is tiny so it's easy to see all of it. It's nice and quiet and full of beautiful buildings. Whenever we can afford a foreign holiday we're going back.

Dunedin, New Zealand - I had a sort of epiphany in Dunedin. I'd travelled half-way round the world because I liked Flying Nun and got there near the end of a long trip backpacking down from Auckland. I was on my own, a not-very-brave 26 year old and I felt proud and relieved to be there. As it's modelled on Edinburgh and has lots of Scottish connections I felt at home.

New York, New York - New York had a big effect on me when I went last year. At the time I felt a bit sad, as I'd missed it at its best but it's been a slow burner. So many times I wish I was back there, just wandering around Manhattan. Next time I'll go to Coney Island too.

The East Neuk of Fife - Quite possibly my favourite place ever and the only one of the four I've got much chance of getting back to anytime soon. The East Neuk is so close to home and yet so foreign. The architecture is totally distinctive - more Scandinavian than Scottish, and there's nothing much to do but you can spend hours wandering around harbours and eating chips. I'd like to retire there and have a little house by the sea with a boat in the window.

4 music artists I'm listening to

I'm really rubbish at listening to new bands, relying on the radio to tell me what to pay attention to. So nothing new I'm afraid but I listen to these a lot:

  • Belle & Sebastian - I never tire of them.
  • The Smiths - the band that means most to me. I listened to them every day at school, then not for years after Morrissey went solo. I'm now enjoying their later albums (Strangeways era) which I didn't rate much at the time.
  • The Association - 60s sunshine pop from California. I really, really love harmonies. Their career travelled the same sort of trajectory as The Byrds going through folk, pop, psychedelia and country rock so there's a lot to enjoy.
  • LCD Soundsystem - the one new album I have bought recently (and that was a while ago). I love listening to Sound of Silver when I'm out and about. It's uplifting and quite tender at the same time.

4 people to pass it on to

Wil, Craig, Ally, Richard (sorry if any of you hate these things but I'd like to hear more about you).

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