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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Milk. Yuck!

Triple P was out having morning tea with a young (20) lady this week and she ordered a glass of milk as she doesn't drink tea (or coffee). Now although Triple P likes milk in his tea and porridge he cannot abide drinking the stuff. 

When he was small milk, in dinky little quarter pint bottles, was compulsory at junior school at around eleven in the morning every day.  We were forced to drink it but while just about palatable ice cold it was, especially in the summer, often warm as it had been delivered to the school at about seven in the morning and had not been refrigerated.  

Milk in Britain, as in other countries, was delivered by the milkman from his electric milk float.  Not only did these vehicles, with their distinctive whine and chinking sound, deliver milk (and bread from the little cupboards at the rear) they also clogged up the roads given their limited top speed. The milk would be left on the doorstep in pint bottles and the birds would inevitably peck at the foil tops (which you opened by gently pressing your thumb into the centre of the foil until it popped open) to get at the cream with floated to the top.  In the winter, if it froze, the solid cream would push the foil lid off and you had a cylinder of frozen cream which Triple P's mother would put into bowl, sprinkle with sugar and serve to my sister and Triple P as a 'treat'.  Notes for the milkman, such as 'no milk today' or 'an extra pint please' (blancmange for pudding!) would be rolled up and put in the empties at night to be collected the following day.  

It is odd, given the increasing presence of refrigerators in British homes in the fifties and sixties (Triple P's family always had a fridge from as early as we could remember) that the necessity for daily deliveries didn't reduce much earlier than it did.  Initially, in Britain, milk deliveries were three times a day and it was only during World War 1 that austerity measures reduced them to a daily round.  Milk bottles only became common in Britain after WW1 following their introduction from the US; up until that point milk was ladled from churns into tins provided by the householder.  

Triple P's fridge in his first year at university was the window ledge on the left of the top floor of the four storey white building in the centre.  The window on the right was our bedroom and was unheated so was nearly as cold as the outside. 

At university, Triple P bought milk from the Co-op in cartons, largely because there were no fridges available to students so milk was stored outside on the window ledge, which could have been extremely perilous to pedestrians if glass bottles had been used.  Many was the time that Triple P sniffed his milk before some young lady was due to come round for tea only to find that a quick dash to the Co-op was needed.

It was really the deregulation of the milk industry in 1994 that saw supermarkets selling milk in bulk for the first time and marked the death knell (almost) for home deliveries.  In 1970 in Britain, 99% of milk was delivered to the door in milk floats but today it is less than five percent.  In America the figure is less than 0.4%.  Strangely, in Triple P's road there are still people who have their milk delivered by electric float but they are a very rare sight these days, although there are still several thousand milkmen in Britain.

The only time Triple P remembers drinking a glass of milk since junior school was when he was training for the London Marathon in 1987.  We had just finished an eighteen mile training run on a surprisingly warm April day and got home and drank a whole pint in one go.  Since then, no.  When we were small we had standard full fat milk which had a silver foil top, although my uncle and aunt who lived next door had gold top (Jersey) milk, which had a higher fat content. Today Triple can't take full fat milk in our tea and we prefer skimmed as it doesn't have that nasty, milky taste.

So as our young companion drank her glass of milk it actually made us feel rather nauseous.  Milk. Yuck!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Goodbye Aliona!

Having triumphantly lifted the Glitterball Tropy for this year's Strictly Come Dancing, slinky Romanian professional dancer has announced she won't be back next year.  This, on top of Ola Jordan's recent retirement, is all too much for Agent Triple P, leaving no female dancers with any sex appeal left in the show.  I am sure the BBC is delighted and will no doubt be on the lookout for another family friendly dancer with no excitement factor at all, like the bizarrely sexless Joanne Clifton. 

Aliona, like Ola,  danced like she knew how to have (no doubt very athletic) sex whereas the others, you suspect, prefer knitting or making cup cakes.  New female professional this year Oti Mabuse looked great but also had no passion about her (although to be fair she had a dire partner and disappeared almost immediately).  

So let's hope we get a couple of stylish new female professionals next year but increasingly the only dancers allowed to show sex appeal are the male ones as you suspect the BBC is more comfortable with sexy men than women.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Goodbye Kirsty

Triple P's autumn is always enlivened by the tacky glitter of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing (of which the US's Dancing with the Stars is a licensed copy).  As ever, we always hope for a good complement of terpsichorean totty, although on the whole the more attractive women don't appeal to Strictly's target audience.  

This year, in a far from stellar line up (Strictly producers claim that they are running out of likely celebrities after 150 have appeared in the show so far) Kirsty  Gallacher was one of the few "celebrities" we had heard of.  In reality, of course, the budget has no doubt been slashed as fearful BBC bigwigs worry about the loss of the licence fee (over their expense account lunches in the 5 star Langham Hotel ,opposite BBC Broadcasting House on Regent Street).

The Sky Sports frontwoman, Kirsty, kicked off her Strictly campaign (perhaps unwisely, given the average size and sex of most Strictly fans) by stripping off for a women's health magazine.  And at 39, pretty good she looked too.

Gallacher is the daughter of Scottish golf professional and Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher and although she was born in Edinburgh was brought up in millionaires' golf ghetto Wentworth, in Surrey, about thirty minutes drive from where Triple P lives.

She attended St Georges School in Ascot, now a girl's school but previously a boys' school which was attended by Winston Churchill.  Other recent former pupils include Princess Beatrice (Prince Andrew's daughter),  Lady Louise Windsor (Prince Edward's daughter) and Lady Davina Lewis and Lady Rose Gilman (daughters of the Duke of Gloucester).  So it's not exactly an inner city comprehensive.

She attended the London College of Fashion intending to be a fashion journalist but instead was spotted by a Sky Sports executive (what did he see in her, we ask?) and began working as a production assistant.

Two years later she started presenting Sky Sports news and since then has had many presenting jobs on TV, winning the Best Newcomer at the Royal Television Society Television Sports Awards in 1998.

Recently, she has got divorced and some seem to think that her constant whining about how hard it is to cope with this was one of the contributory factors in her being the first woman to be kicked out of Strictly.  That and the fact that she danced like an ironing board.

Still, we cannot criticise someone who is so lovely and she has an astoundingly good body which she looks after very well, releasing a workout video in 2005.

So, Agent Triple P will find his Strictly viewing that bit less appealing going forward, following Kirsty's relatively early departure (and, as ever, there are some far worse but more popular dancers still in the show).


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fiftieth Anniversary of Thunderbirds!

Fifty years ago today, the very first episode of Gerry Anderson's series ThunderbirdsTrapped in the Sky, was broadcast.  A five year old Agent Triple P was watching it, as we had previously watched Stingray, Fireball XL5 and even Supercar.

We had all the Thunderbirds toys, of course (even the largely unloved Thunderbird 5  - the model of which really looked only vaguely like the one in the TV series but had flashing coloured lights and would move randomly across the carpet, squawking), and wish we had kept them as they would be worth a fortune now.  Triple P and his sister  both had International Rescue hats too!

The most expensive Thunderbirds toy we had was a large Thunderbird 4 which also needed batteries and actually was waterproof enough to go in the bath, not that there was enough space for it, really.  Fortunately, our uncle, next door, had a swimming pool and it had at least one outing there.

The Thunderbird 3 model offended our aesthetic sense as it had a nose wheel and a friction drive unit (where you could rev the wheels up, let it go, watch it streak across the carpet and then have an agonising second or two of worry that the nose would break when it hit the skirting board)  built in to the back which spoiled the lines of the original.  The Thunderbird 1 model had the same issues.

Our favourite, of course, was Thunderbird 2, and we remember the strange metal legs which tucked up underneath it, as the sort of retractable ones on the TV show would have been impossible to do in a model.  They offended our aesthetic sense too, however, so when it was supposed to be flying in our games we used to pop them out and only replace them when it was supposed to be deploying the pod, up on its legs, so the little model of the Mole could get in and out.

Trapped in the Sky was a marvellous episode and the sequence where they try to land a stricken Fireflash airliner on the elevator cars is one of the greatest action sequences in sixties TV, driven along by Barry Gray's tremendous music.   Gray, who lived in Esher, about three miles from where Triple P lives now, produced some of the greatest TV music ever for Thunderbirds and it is very much the soundtrack to our childhood.  

Derek Meddings prepares the Fireflash for Trapped in the Sky

People who haven't really watched it (twenty something journalists, usually) decry the terrible special effects in the original series but actually they are very good and special effects supervisor Derek Meddings would go on to a stellar career in feature films, including many of the Bond films.

A girl on the International Rescue team?  Get back into the kitchen and make the coffee like you're supposed to!  (Actually, she is the best thing about the new series)

We still love Thunderbirds but watching the new digital incarnation with its laws of physics defying movement, ugly vehicles and boy band characters makes us realise how very, very good the originals were.  More excitingly, a team have crowd funded a project taking some recordings made with the original cast which were released on LP record in the sixties and are adding new visuals using exact replica puppets and vehicles.  Thunderbirds as it should be!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Chronicles of Triple P

The Adventures of Triple P was always intended to be a repository for accounts of our adventures with women around the world, which we record as we travel about.  For various reasons this, apart from a few early examples. did not happen but several people have responded well enough to some of my accounts that we have decided to put them down in a more formal way; although more as a reminiscence for Triple P than anything else. 

Scarlett Knight suggested the title The Chronicles of Triple P and it can be found here.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Kelly Brook on a boat

What a particularly fine photograph of Kelly Brook, published today.  This was sent to me by a lady today who thought Triple P might appreciate it, as indeed we do!


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hot at Waterloo!

So, it was the hottest day in London for nearly ten years the week before last and we have had some more very hot days this week.  Looks like Triple P chose the wrong month to go back to commuting because as we and most of the other men sweltered in wool suits and long sleeved shirts most of the women were dressed as if they were off to the beach! Now, we admit that we are now across the river from the City but hot pants and cotton vests (tanks for North Americans) as appropriate work wear? Thigh, shoulder and back revealing sun dresses? Plunging necklines? It is not only inappropriate it is, much more importantly, not fair! 

Women should, of course, have to wear to work what men do, as we struggle in 100 degree heat on the Underground, slog along baking streets and overcrowded boiling trains on the way home.  No air conditioning of course.  Waterloo Station has a glass roof so gets particularly hot by the end of the day.

Still, of course, we cannot really complain about the displays and we are very much registering legs as this summer's erogenous zone.  All of these shots were taken in the early evening at Waterloo.

Splendid! (But still not fair!)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ion Drive rocket by Chesley Bonestell

A long time ago we posted a brief piece about our love of rockets and mentioned the peerless space artist Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986).  Two of the books he illustrated for author Willy Ley, The Conquest of Space (1949) and Beyond the Solar System (1964), really excited the young Triple P's imagination back in the late sixties.  One picture in particular, from Beyond the Solar System, we found particularly evocative.  It was this one of (we seem to remember) an ion drive ship in deep space, it's fins glowing red as it radiated excess heat.  It's a simple image, compared with some of his paintings of pod and booster encrusted rockets orbiting a bright earth (like the illustration of the same rocket on the cover) but, at the time, those tiny cabin lights spoke of men (no women would have been contemplated as spacefarers in 1964; something Star Trek would change within two years) journeying far from earth.  Where are they going?  How long will it take?  Fuel for Agent Triple P's imagination forty five years ago.  The picture conveys the cold darkness of space in a way that modern science fiction films and TV with their brightly lit spacecraft just don't.  

We have been looking for  a good copy of this image for some time and came across it the other day while looking for something else.  Literally, back to the future for Triple P!

Cover painting for The Conquest of Space

Bonestell was originally an architect and worked on both the Chrysler Building and the Golden Gate bridge but his interest in astronomy saw him taking an artistic path which was always firmly rooted in science and he really pioneered astronomical art.  He was still working on a painting in his home in Carmel, California when he died in 1986 at the age of 98.

190 complaints about revealing dresses on Britain's Got Talent...good grief

Apparently, 190 people have complained to UK broadcast watchdog OFCOM or TV station ITV about the low-cut dresses worn by judges Amanda Holden (44) and Alesha Dixon (36) on Sunday's Britain's Got Talent final.  190?  Out of over 10 million viewers.  Not suitable for a family show, cried the moaners.  We despair, we really do!   Are their complaints about the number of male competitors who took their shirts off this year?  I don't think so.  It's this trying to shield children from sex (which the prudes still equate with bodies) thing again; which will actually do them more harm than good in the long term.

The previous week Holden  had been complained about for her dress during the semi-finals (above).  The only strange thing about that number was why she had the White Tree of Gondor sticking out of it.   Holden gets a lot of criticism in Britain because she cheated on her husband (a TV comedian) with another TV comedian about fifteen years ago.  Most of her vilification now, however, seems to be based around the fact that she shouldn't be wearing provocative clothing st her age (she is 44).  So, if we discount the fact that the tiny percentage of complainants aren't outraged Muslin clerics then we suspect they are middle aged, gone to seed mothers who resent the fact that she is still in tremendously good shape in her forties.  It's similar to the hate that Madonna got when she posed topless not long ago.  Britain has an ageing population but the press still hasn't got their heads around the fact that this large group of older people born in the sixties and seventies, don't want to act like "older people" did in the past.  It is incredibly ageist to say that someone shouldn't be able to dress how they like because they are in their forties.  We think Holden and Dixon look tremendous!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Is Rachel Pilcher the worst journalist in Britain?

Rachel Pilcher

Triple P uses Yahoo email so we can easily access it from anywhere in the world but in order to get to it you have to go through the Yahoo news page.  Over the last few years the content of this has become more and more inane and now is totally dominated by Z list celebrity gossip.  The very worst of this is spewed forth from a section called OMG which is a complete microcosm of why Britain is no longer the country it was.   It is bad enough that they think that entertainment news isn't, as you might think, what new play has opened in the West End, which new film has just started filming or what new tour a band has announced but instead what new hairstyle some minor celebrity has.  It is bad enough that they don't employ real journalists (like Triple P's cousin, for example, who works for an Australian newspaper and if he is reporting on a new film flies to the location to file a proper report) but poorly paid just post university hacks who get paid on the number of hits their stories attract; as if this was a measure of quality.  It's bad enough that they focus on a tiny group of celebrities whose self publicising antics they are just feeding: the Kardashians (what do any of these people do?), Miley Cyrus, One Direction and non-entities from UK reality shows.

All this is bad enough but Yahoo OMG has an awful house writing style which seems to be entirely based on how a particular type of stupid American teenager speaks (and it's not clear if they themselves have picked this up from their depiction on screen so it becomes a horrible circle of banality as each copies the other).   I cannot fathom why a UK website wants its writers to write in a way that reflects how they think young Americans speak.  This does, however seem to be a deliberate policy.  The very worst of these Yahoo journalists is a lady called Rachel Pilcher (who is known to her very many detractors as The Pilchard, inevitably).  A classic example of her recent writing is here.   This piece is so bad that nearly all the comments are about how incomprehensible it is rather than the (frankly impenetrable) story itself.   Yahoo don't care, of course, because they are only interested in hits.  In another piece, a couple of days before that, Pilchard described an event as a "damp squid".  It's SQUIB you worthless excuse for a writer.  

So who is this semi-literate word mangler?  Some fifteen year old hired to "get down with the kids"?  A computer programme that randomly generates text based on web crawls?  A foreign student still in their first week of an English course at a shabby Oxford Street language school?  Or even a room fall of chimpanzees banging away randomly at keyboards?  No, because all of these would do a better job than Pilchard.  It turns out that she has a 2.1 degree in English language from the University of Reading (ranks 37th in Britain - their English course ranks 39th).

We are sure her tutors are very impressed by her ability to write such passages as: "If you're fully onboard the good ship Larry Stylinson then you might want to take a seat and get yourself a cold flannel ready, because someone has made a Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson face morph and it's everything you never knew you wanted. The ridiculously flawless morph has been making it's way across the One Direction fandom, and - oh, you haven't seen it yet? Oh, well, TA-DAH. HAPPY BIRTHDAY. MERRY CHRISTMAS. HAPPY EASTER. And everything else in between. STICK A FORK IN US, WE'RE ACTUALLY DONE. Well done, like a gourmet steak. Or a cheap one, whatever. Everybody take a deep breathe and compose yourselves. Ready? Grool."   Rachel you are a young woman in your early twenties trying to make a (short-lived, I suspect) career in journalism, so why do you insist in writing in a parody of how you think a twelve year old speaks. And stop using random capitalisation. And stop using invented abbreviations like "awks" for awkward. CRINGE.

Pilchard has obviously spotted some negative comments as she moans on her blog:  "Figured I should learn some sort of new life skill too, so I've decided to try and stop reading comments on things I write and just let the haters, er, hate... As you'd probably expect, not everyone is always so keen on what I write, how I write it and why I write it, and some stories get some pretty brutal comments. Or I get tweeted telling me I suck and need a new career. Not exactly a confidence booster."  So do something about it, woman!  Don't ignore criticism, learn from it!  Rachel, we are sure you are a lovely girl but writers like you have a duty to stop the slide in the appalling decline in the standard of young people's English in this country.  You are actually contributing to damaging young people's prospects.  You must be stopped!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

More of Ola!

Triple P's favourite Polish dancer, Ola Jordan, has been out and about recently and generating comments that her rather full figure must mean that she is pregnant,  Engagingly, Ola, who is recovering from what was thought to be a career ending knee injury, has just scotched the rumours by tweeting "I'm just FAT!!".  Well done, Ola, and all the fat is beautifully distributed too!

Since she injured her leg while training for winter sports reality competition The Jump last year, Ola has been having daily physiotherapy.  

The good news is that it has worked and the BBC have just announced that she will be back as one of the professional dancers in the 2015 series of Strictly Come Dancing.  Her new series publicity shot has just been released.

Also returning will be the luscious Aliona Vilani, who needs rather less PhotoShop than some of the others.  In her new publicity picture she looks like a delicious coffee sundae.  Lick, lick!

Siberian tigress Kristina Rihannoff also returns with what looks like a completely new face. Make-up, PhotoShop and perhaps a little more.

The BBC haven't released an official shot of new female dancer Otlile Mabuse yet because she was still appearing in the German equivalent of StrictlyLet's Dance, until celebrity her partner was knocked out last week.  She is South African and has a degree in civil engineering, which makes her unusual for a Strictly professional!  She is also Strictly's first black professional dancer.  Not that the BBC say that because in BBC land you can't admit that some people have different coloured skin.  We thinks she looks very cute.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Return of Nashville

Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere - mature woman v perky girl -who can choose between them?

Of all the guilty pleasure TV Agent Triple P watches, the most guilty of them all must be Country & Western soap, er, drama, Nashville which returns to UK TV tonight with Season 3.

We are not a particular fan of country music (which has a very uncool reputation as the music of sad losers in Britain - when Shania Twain hit it big a few years ago the UK mixes of her albums had all the C&W instruments removed to make it more acceptable to the UK market) although we do have 137 tracks of it in our iTunes.  Much of that, we have to admit, is from the Nashville soundtrack CDs.  No, we like Nashville because it reminds us of the heady days of Dallas in our past, where quite often you would get to the end of an episode and there would be some ludicrously theatrical revelation.  As our fellow Dallas-watching girlfriend at the time used to say, it's "ooh, er" television - a rather old fashioned British exclamation of surprise.  Nashville gets Triple P uttering "ooh, er!" at the end of its episodes more than any other show.  

Tonight we will be watching it with our lady friend A and she is planning unhealthy American-style snacks (actually, aren't all American snacks unhealthy by definition?).  She suggested we get some American beer in but there are limits.  That said, the decidedly un-country Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is rather good and available from Waitrose.  They also do Sam Adams but that is even further, taste-wise from the gassy, low-alcohol, watery stuff most Americans seem to drink.. Nashville has a number of craft beers (and American craft beers can be very good indeed) but you can't get them in Britain.

Nashville nearly got cancelled after season two and was threatened with a short run for season 3 but just last week it has been renewed for a fourth season.  So many more episodes of industry back-stabbing, agonised partner swapping (and the odd song) ahead.  Yee haw. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thunderbabe! Tanusha Kyrano.

Well, Triple P is looking forward to the new animated Thunderbirds are Go! which started on Saturday and we hope they don't mess it up.  So far the clips we have seen look encouraging and it is a master stroke to bring back David Graham to voice Parker.  Apparently, the show is full of little references to the original series which Triple P loved when it first came out a terrifying fifty years ago.  Somewhere there is a picture of a five year old Triple P with an International Rescue hat!  

The special effects are by Weta Workshop, although this is not necessarily a guarantee of quality, as a lot of their CGI in the The Hobbit films was awful.  Interestingly, the sets will be miniatures with the characters and craft CGI.   We found the miniature sets in the original Lord of the Rings films far superior to the all CGI ones in The Hobbit. The biggest negative for Triple P will be the lack of Barry Gray's stupendous music: some of the best TV incidental music ever written.   

It being the twenty-first century we have to have some fiesty female characters added, to give the girls (and some boys!) someone of interest to root for.  Principal among these is Tanusha "Kayo" Kyrano the Tracy's Head of Security.  She also brings some ethnic diversity into the cast and appears to have been modelled on Angelina Jolie.

Originally her forbear, Tin-Tin Kyrano, was supposed to be a gifted scientist but in the 1960s show from fifty years ago she seemed to mainly make the coffee and be Alan Tracy's girlfriend (even though he looked completely gay).  Originally a Malaysian, in the dreadful live action film of 2004 she was Indian, as played by Vanessa Hudgens.  

They have dropped the Tin-Tin name (probably to avoid confusion with the Belgian boy detective) but Tanusha is, again, an Indian name, although her actual nationality hasn't been made clear.  It would have been more interesting to have her as a Malaysian as there are plenty of Indian characters on British TV.

Anyway, for Triple P it is all about the Thunderbird craft and they have updated them in a reasonably subtle way, although we don't like the new Thunderbird 2 which was a design classic (as was Thunderbird 3).  The new Thundervird 5 owes nothing to the original but Gerry Anderson hated the Thunderbird 5 from his original series so that isn't such a bad thing.