Girls, travel, rockets, transport, hotels, films, Martinis, wine, music, food and ranting!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Terminal 5


So, Agent Triple P is off to Poland this weekend but fortunately we are going through Gatwick and not crisis hit Terminal 5.


Why anyone is surprised that the whole system crashed on day one is beyond me. Of course it was going to be a disaster as it is all run by people from Staines!


But with all the nonsense in the press about the baggage handling the one key interesting point is the complaints about one of the glass walkways which, apparently, enable people to look up the skirts of the women above. Excellent! Architecture at its best!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New rocket plane due to fly within two years.

Lynx: drives women wild


American space plane manufacturer Xcor Aerospace has announced that their Lynx space plane will be ready for launch by 2010. Like other similar commercial space plane projects around the world the firm believes that rich people with a death wish will pay a fortune to experience a few minutes worth of weightlessness in a sub-orbital flight.


You wouldn't get Triple P up in one of those.


The Lynx only has room for one passenger plus the pilot so you can't even join the sixty mile high club in it (unless you are very fond of the pilot).


EADS Space Plane. Looks exactly like..a plane.


The Lynx, like the EADS announced space plane, will take off like a conventional aircraft and then once it has reached a certain altitude will fire rockets to boost it up to sub orbital height.


Inside Virgin's SpaceShipTwo. Would you want to be trapped in here with beardy Branson?


Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic plane uses a different method and will be carried on the back of a larger plane to get it up to altitude.

Not exactly elegant.

But will they have stewardesses to give you a zero g neck massage?


This is also the method of choice for the mysterious reputed US Government Blackstar space plane.


The XB-70 Plenty of room on top.

Many wondered why the SR 71 Blackbird was retired in 1990 and theorists think that the US had a super-secret replacement pulling together a launch plane based on the notorious XB70 Valkyrie bomber and the NASA Dyno-soar orbiter.


Me 163


The first rocket plane was the German Messerschmitt interceptor although there was a proposal to produce a manned version of the A4 (essentially a V2 rocket with a cockpit) which was never realised. Probably just as well!

Proposed German A4 rocket plane


Agent Triple P can't help thinking that these space planes are to space flight what those waterline reef observatory boats are to submarines, i.e. not the real thing. If you really want to get into space then you have to pay the Russians £25,000,000 to take you up in a proper rocket.

Costa Rica?


We recently had an e-mail from Agent DVD who was in Costa Rica on one of his habitual mountain biking trips to places no-one else goes to. No-one, we opined, last time we met for dinner, goes to Costa Rica for a holiday.


However having seen this picture of former Miss Costa Rica, Veronica Gonzales, maybe his choice of holiday detination wasn't so odd after all. Except he's going to Panama next. Good grief!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

To the shores of Tripoli..


The Leader is delighted that Triple P is visiting.



You never see an attractive women in the BA lounge at Heathrow, mused Agent Triple P. Outside in the public area he had, after passing through security, seen several eights and even a nine. Inside the lounge it was, as usual, a desert. Nothing more than a four at best. He reasoned that most women in the lounge were travelling on business and the sorts of businesses that sent women abroad tended not to hire attractive ones. “They should all be at home doing the ironing, anyway,” he mused, observing the typical, porridge-faced, specimen opposite him.



He was off to Libya, a country of which he had no positive memories at all. Last time he had been there, about three years ago, his taxi had been rammed from behind by his Libyan security service tail. This had been an appropriate end to a visit to a place of unremitting dreariness. The other British people he met who lived there inhabited walled compounds where they secretly drank themselves stupid in “clubs” which looked like the sort of bars you might find in a particularly down-market caravan site in the seventies: all red lino, Formica and garish neon lighting. Driving around in an ex-pat’s jeep the floors of the vehicle were covered in cans of warm beer on the basis that passengers (and indeed the driver) would be so desperate for a drink that they couldn’t wait for somewhere more salubrious. Although there didn’t appear to be anywhere more salubrious in Libya. Drinking alcohol was illegal, of course, and so this had generated an ex-pat drinking culture somewhat akin to prohibition era America. Triple P liked alcohol. Very much. But for him it should be good quality, and consumed from appropriate glassware in convivial surroundings. Not drunk furtively from a can in a jeep travelling along a dusty road at night.


Tripoli was only three and a quarter hours flight from London so it was flown by European standard planes. His Club Europe seat was a little wider than normal and he had no-one next to him but otherwise there was little difference to economy other than a cooked breakfast which consisted of the typical British Airways diabetic standard white omelette. It was like eating a wet sponge but rather less tasty. The approach was much bumpier than Triple P would have liked and he was very relieved to touch down in Tripoli.


Revolution Square


Driving in from the airport Triple P noticed a lot more cars than on his previous trip. Most of them were battered Japanese cars of eighties vintage, or pick up trucks, but there seemed a strong contingent of Chrysler PT Cruisers, oddly. He later discovered that the government buys cars from abroad and then sells them at a loss to the citizens to enable more people to have cars. Unfortunately, nothing had been done to build more roads or improve traffic management. In addition, the Libyans had obviously inherited their previous colonial masters, the Italians, driving style. They had a wonderful technique of using their cars to create a traffic lane that hadn't previously existed.





The Hotel Corinthia Bab Africa was a joint venture between the Maltese and the Libyans and was the only Western hotel in the country.





It was, as a result, always booked solid and was very expensive. Nevertheless, Triple P’s Executive Club room was spacious with a decent bathroom and a view of the Mediterranean.



The view from Triple P's room. Not exactly a developed waterfront.



The only problem he subsequently discovered was that the beds must have been provided by the Maltese, who are not a tall people, as they were equally short. The hotel had four restaurants: a buffet which served breakfast, lunch and dinner, an oriental one, an Italian one and a Moroccan one.


That evening he attended an elegant reception at one of the Embassies but totally failed to find any female companionship. He retired to his short bed and read his novel about Hadrian’s Wall. Although written by an American it was an enjoyable overseas trip book and the author had not only obviously visited the wall, capturing the feel of the Northumbrian countryside, but had also properly researched the Roman uniforms of fourth century Britain and had avoided the usual mistakes historical novelists make when writing about late Roman armour and equipment. Triple P had made a comment to this effect on the author’s website and had been surprised to receive a friendly e-mail from the novelist himself. He would buy the rest of his books when he returned.



The Souk.




Next day, on the way to his meeting at a government institution, he took a short cut from the hotel through the souk. Unlike similar places in Egypt or Turkey the locals kept a respectful distance and did not attempt to sell you things you did not want. It was an interesting contrast between people selling rugs from bare stalls to completely western decorated pharmacy shops advertising the latest perfumes. Much of this part of old Tripoli, within the medieval walls still had significant amounts of Italian architecture. In Revolution Square under one of the large posters featuring The Leader he found a modern café where he had a cup of tea before his meeting. Altogether his views on Libya, or at least the Libyans, had changed in only a day. They seemed genuinely friendly, non-threatening and keen to show off their English.

Might make a good painting!


That afternoon after an astonishingly large lunch in a restaurant named Twareg and located, oddly, in Triploi zoo (where, slightly worryingly, Triple P was presented with a fish with teeth to eat), Triple P managed to escape for four hours. He had booked a car to take him to the Roman ruins at Sabratha. He would have liked to have gone to Leptis Magna but that was too far away but Sabratha, at 40 miles, was just doable in the time he had. He had rather low expectations and was, as a result, impressed by the huge site adjoining the sea.



The ruins were bathed in a warm late afternoon light and looked at their best against the deep blue backdrop of the Mediterranean. The most spectacular building was the Roman theatre which had been sensitively restored to give an idea of its former splendour.




That evening, anyway, it gave him a topic of conversation at yet another Embassy reception, with a fetching Italian girl with short, thick shock of black hair, a nice strong nose and a very pert behind. Sadly her husband was also at the party so she declined his offer of dinner in the Moroccan restaurant. Oh well, he mused, nothing ventured nothing gained.



The meeting site!




Next day he was contacted by a dubious Libyan company who had been wanting him to do something with them for around two years. Mysterious and obtuse telephone calls had culminated in a bizarre meeting in Toronto the previous winter. Now they sent a car to pick him up from the hotel. A battered old silver Daewoo arrived driven by a man in a leather jacket, drooping moustache and the general air of a low-grade thug. A hair raising 60mph dash ensued along the coast before darting inland and after several unnecessary turns the arrival at the sort of street where you expected to be ambushed by men armed with rocket propelled grenades. He was shown into a large private house with a yard filled with chained Alsatians and taken upstairs to an office suite where the internal décor consisted of a selection of guns on the wall. A new Libyan contact appeared speaking in a perfect South London accent. There was a general air of unpleasantness as the contact berated Triple P for not doing something whilst Triple P fought back with the fact that he couldn’t do anything until they had done something. After fifteen minutes and some consensus being reached the taciturn Libyan driver took a relived Triple P back to his hotel. He could really have done with a large Martini at this point but sadly that was not to be although he settled for some rather past its best Chablis at another Embassy event that evening. There was even less female talent about and virtually no food but just as he arrived back at the hotel he received a call from the Italian lady who suggested that they might have dinner in the hotel’s Italian restaurant. This resulted in a much better finish to the day than he had anticipated (it had looked likea one way trip down an alley at one point). The restaurant produced some fantastic spaghetti putannesca and even some alcohol free beer. The young lady engaged in some rather naughty and enjoyably tactile flirting.





The last day consisted of more meetings and finished with an enjoyable dinner at a restaurant in the centre of the city overlooking the magnificent Roman triumphal arch in the centre of the city.


All in all a much better visit than Triple P had expected.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Agent Triple P: back in action



Agent Triple P hadn't been on a mission for two months and as a result was getting restless and grumpy. Or at least, more grumpy than he was normally. His last mission, to California and Florida, had seen some excellent food, wonderful wine and a lot of kinky sex and he was hoping that this mission would be no different. He had, at least, pre-arranged the kinky sex in that he had arranged to meet up with his particular friend, B.


Agent Triple P was attending a meeting at a well known international agency in Geneva and was concerned that his duties might eat into his playtime with B. He had never been to Geneva before but he remembered driving through it in a Bentley one summer, coming back from St Moritz, and had remembered passing a beautiful blonde girl in an almost completely see-through blouse striding across one of the bridges over the Rhone. She was wearing nothing under the almost transparent top and Triple P had been most impressed with the general air of insouciance she gave out.

The plane was quite full but he had an empty seat next to him, according to his online check in. He was expecting someone to take the window seat and was delighted when an attractive part-oriental girl turned up and asked to be let in. He stood up and he studied her carefully. She was wearing tight black jeans and a thick black roll neck jumper. As she put her bag into the overhead locker she revealed a nice roll of brown tummy; not really fat just padding. She had the sort of American accent that showed she was not an American. After the plane took off she pulled off her jumper revealing a low-cut, white, short-sleeved top which displayed enough tawny cleavage to keep even Agent DVD happy. She started to read a book and Triple P, who now found it much easier to read a book three feet away rather than in front of him, started to read it too. She caught him soon enough, grinned and showed him the cover. It was by a well known hypnotist and purported to hypnotise the reader thin. Triple P ventured that she did not need to lose weight on account of the fact that she was perfectly gorgeous as she was. He genuinely meant it and she must have sensed it was more than a cheesy chat up line as she then happily ate her sandwich which she had up, until now, ignored. Triple P and the girl, Lucy, spent the rest of the short flight chatting about the tyranny of womens’ acceptable body profile and as they left the plane he almost regretted the fact that he had arranged to meet up with B.


Passing through immigration at Geneva and, indeed, the taxi ride to the hotel, took a matter of minutes and twenty minutes after landing he was checking in at the Inter Continental. Although a significantly ugly building on the outside, inside it was rather more stylish with a newly renovated and rather striking lobby.


The young lady, Barbara, at check in, was however, desolee that his room was not ready so she could not give him his room key. On presentation of his, admittedly rather superior grade, loyalty card she was energised into some frantic key tapping and said that she had managed to get him a double upgrade to a suite. It would be ready, she said, gazing at him from behind her fetchingly severe glasses, in twenty minutes.

While waiting Triple P phoned B who was none too amused that her office had booked her into a hotel in the red light district. Triple P asked her if she had been propositioned much yet. She was not amused and asked if he was making negative comments about her looks or her dress. She told him he would be very disappointed by the conservative nature of her clothes on this trip. Triple P tried to redeem himself by observing that he had never found her disappointing in any way. She suggested that it was going to take quite a lot of Champagne and chocolate for him to escape from that one. Much to Triple P's relief when she arrived at the hotel fifteen minutes later she was carrying a small overnight bag.





It being Switzerland, exactly twenty minutes later Barbara was showing them to his suite with a splendid view of the city and the lake. B said it was a very impressive view of a building site. Although his Inter Continental Ambassador's card usually got him an upgrade of one level in this case he had booked the most basic level of room so was doubly appreciative and slipped Barbara a 40 franc note. This turned out to be a good investment as she subsequently provided a transport pass, electrical adaptors, an iron and a number of other small services. Interestingly they had also laid out two bath robes on the bed having obviously noted Triple P's and B's affectionate greeting in the lobby. Definitely a five star hotel.





B stomped around his suite (in the first of three pairs of boots that would make an appearance in three days) saying how unfair it was, particularly when she saw the Jacuzzi in his bathroom.




He suggested that they try it out but she replied that after his comment about the red light district she felt that he should take her into town for tea. Barbara had told him that the Number 5 bus stopped right outside the hotel and went to the centre of town. B moaned that he was being cheap but the bus ride really was quite short and they got off at the central station and walked down to the lake. By the time they got there the famous Jet d'Eau had been turned off for the day and so after a brief look at some watch shops B dragged him into a Fogal store where he was asked to pay £58 for a pair of stockings for her for an event the following week. He demurred and offered half the price as a contribution. B, somewhat put out and obviously thinking of revenge, then suggested that the Four Seasons might be a good place for tea.



The Hotel des Bergues, as it is more properly called, was very much Triple P’s sort of hotel. Completely over the top in it’s décor. B delightedly pointed out that Triple P was obviously staying in the wrong hotel as they walked into the tastefully over the top lobby to take tea in the even more over the top Bar des Bergues. Tea for B consisted of hideously expensive Champagne expensive sandwiches and even more expensive cakes. Initially, she only wanted a glass but the first glass evaporated rapidly and in the end Triple P spent far more on individual glasses than he would have done if he had just bought a bottle or, more appropriately, a magnum. B was in a much better mood on the bus ride back, however, and gave him some high glycaemic chocolatey kisses.





They returned to the hotel at about 6.30 and did indeed have a very entertaining time in the Jacuzzi although the amount of bath gel B had poured in resulted in an inundation of magic porridge pot proportions as foam overflowed all over the marble floor. Annoyingly B refused to model her new stockings, claiming she needed to save them for an important dinner the following week. Triple P had to administer a light beating with ashoe horn. This improved B's mood quite substantially.


It was 8.30pm by the time they got to the cozy Les Nations bar for a large Martini or two (or indeed, possibly, three). They ate in the restaurant and the food was exceptionally good. B started with risotto with mussels and Triple P had Maine lobster with artichoke and ginger. They took a nice Genevois Chardonnay de Peissy from Les Perrières. Triple P had been rude about Swiss wine in the past but this was very nice indeed. Switzerland produces 200 million bottles of wine a year but only exports 1% of it.


As a main course B had rack of lamb whilst, almost inevitably, Triple P had a very bleu filet de boeuf. Triple P was, by this time, in a very good mood and ordered a bottle of Chateau Pontet-Canet 1994 from their very good claret list. This was opened and decanted at the table but threw very little sediment. It was still surprisingly bright for a wine of this age and although fruity still had some tannin at the finish which suggests that it would go for another few years yet. Most acceptable.


Afterwards they had a plate of Swiss cheeses to finish the claret with. There were five different cheeses. A mild goat’s cheese, a blue cheese, an Emmental, a semi-hard cheese with a pink rind and another one which Triple P could not recall as B liked it so much she stole his portion before he got to try it.


It was 11.30 by the time they returned to Triple P’s suite for a leisurely spoons session.


Next morning, after an invigorating shower, they went for breakfast and Triple P carried on with his new resolution of eating berries for breakfast by having a bowl of strawberries. He then followed these with two fried eggs, sausage, ham, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes. B and Triple P then headed off for the rather drawn out accreditation procedure. The meeting was rather larger than Triple P had imagined and he happily took his place behind his delegation country name.



B, who was only an observer, sat near him, even though she was not supposed to, by taking the place of the absent delegate from Poland. He ventured that he was glad she had found some “elbow room” so conveniently and she gave him a most Teutonic look.

The session didn’t finish until 7.30pm but the hotel was only ten five minutes walk away. They had a quick shower, not having time for the jacuzzi, sadly. Triple P had brought his iPod speakers and so they had a relaxing medley of music by Nelson Riddle, Henry Mancini and John Barry and drank some more Swiss wine whilst they got dressed. Triple P enjoyed watching B strolling around his suite dressed only in a pearl choker, black hold-up stockings and stilettos whilst sipping her wine and waiting for her hair to dry. In fact he enjoyed her so much he decided that he had to molest her and they were, as a result rather late, not appearing in the bar until nearly nine o’clock. Dinner was at nine thirty and they had pasta with black truffle followed by veal for B and chicken stuffed with morels (nothing funny about them) and truffle for Triple P. This time they had a very nice 2001 Chateau Les Ormes de Pez, which, no doubt, Agent DVD would have appreciated.

He would have certainly appreciated the fact that she didn’t want to miss out on her Jacuzzi after dinner and so triple P had to forego his cheese. B insisted on doing a shoulder stand in the empty Jacuzzi then did the splits and finally recycled her large intake of wine and, bizarrely, Welsh mineral water in an admittedly impressive recreation of Le Jet d’Eau. One of the waiters in the hotel had earlier recounted that the locals referred to their famous fountain as piss vache or cow’s pee. This had obviously suggested B’s effort. Not that Triple P would call B a cow, of course.

The next day they gave up on their meeting at lunchtime and found a cozy little Italian restaurant where they managed to drag lunchtime out from one o’clock until three thirty. Before walking into town and looking at the Jet d'Eau up close at last. Wandering back to the hotel B still managed to order and consume a sandwich and fries before they both took the short bus ride to the airport for their flights home.

All in all a most enjoyable interlude!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Miss March: Nancy Sorrell



HMS is not enjoying our downmarket calendar girls this year and none are more downmarket than former lap dancer Nancy Sorrell, the, er, face of suburban slappers favourite Ann Summers. Looking engagingly like a seventies Dutch prostitute in this rather nasty photo the thing that is really ghastly about her, however, is that she is married to blobby so-called comedian Vic Reeves.



Nevertheless we think she looks pretty toned in this picture for someone in her mid-thirties. Far too "hard-faced" for Agent DVD, though! We are prepared to acknowledge a good pair of legs, however.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Son Jarocho


The lovely B introduced me to a whole new musical genre last week. This is Son Jarocho, Mexican folk music from the southern Veracruz region. It is a wacky mixture of Spanish, African and native music. Very much the counterpoint to Mariachi from the west coast of Mexico, Son Jarocho is the east coast equivalent. But whilst Mariachi is brass driven, Jorocho relies on a foundation set down by the arpa jarocha, a large 32-36 string harp tuned diatonically over five octaves. The harpist, who plays standing up, plays a bass line on the low strings with one hand and with the other supplies arpeggiated melodies on the higher strings.

Son Jarocho is very much an improvised form based on around eighty folk-based sones. Other than the arpa the principal instruments are the requinto and the jarana.


The requinto is a four stringed guitar plucked with a thin cowhorn pick. The best have a soundbox carved from a single piece of cedar.



The most common instrument in a Son Jarocho ensemble is the jarana. This is a descendent of the sixteenth century Spanish Baroque guitar with eight to twelve strings grouped in five courses.


Top groups for this sort of music are the Conjuntos of Lino Chavez (1922-1993) and Tlalixcoyan.

Brigitte Barclay


We had an enjoyable dinner with Agent DVD tonight and we posited the problem of what to do when one has a very nice picture to post but no justification. DVD's Swiss trained answer was just to bung it on anyway. So here, without justification or explanation, is Brigitte Barclay. Gold. Black. It's all very gold and black. Splendid.
She is sort of like a fantasy hotel bellboy. "Paging Triple P!"

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Watch out!

We were having a discussion with Agent DVD last week about watches. We pointed out to him that women looked at two things men were wearing to see if they might have any interest in them. The first was their shoes and the second thing was their watches. Agent DVD, much to my surprise, had a rather undeveloped sense when it came to nice watches (unlike HMS who spotted my new Georg Jensen almost immediately). We ran a few names past him: Breitling, Audermars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Patek Philippe and he claimed not to have heard of any of them (although he could have been being contrary as usual!).



This has all come into focus having just returned from Geneva; a gigantic watch factory with a small city attached. Every city block contains at least one watch shop and most of the buildings seem to have watchmakers advertisements on them. We spotted a very nice, plain watch which would have been very nice in the Agent Triple P collection. Unfortunately it was £125,000. That would buy you 800 Cambodian virgins (allegedly). Or a nice Aston Martin. Or a good Victorian painting. Or 20 bottles of Chateau Petrus. Not good value anyway.



So here, for Agent DVD, is a quick guide to a few Swiss watches. There are about 260 Swiss watch manufacturers so this is very much a snapshot of some of the most popular.




DVD should look to the following firms to boost his girlie cred.



Audemars Piguet

Their Royal Oak is their signature watch. The Rolex Oyster for people who wouldn't be seen dead with a Rolex. Only £4,500.

Baume & Mercier

The Spirit is a retro classic. A snip at about £1,275.






Breguet


A nice, modern nautical job for £5,250.




Breitling


Triple P confesses that a Breitling Chronograph would be our first choice. Bling, bling!





Ebel

The Ebel BTR chronograph is very shiny for £3,500.



Jaeger le Coultre


For £4,900 you could get this chronograph. Big knobs!



Patek Philppe


This is their Aquanaut for £4,600. Obviously they don't know that Gerry Anderson coined the word Aquanaut for Stingray. Patek Philippe is very popular with girlies, in my limited experience.


Ulysse Nardin

The £4,300 Blue Surf has a very trendy strap.


Vacherin Constantine

£5,700 gets you their rather seventies looking Overseas watch

So, no excuse for Agent DVD then. After all he would spend this sort of money on a bike or a piece of hi fi. Girls will not have sex with you because you have impressive hi fi whereas with a nice watch.. He won't believe us of course..