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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Food and drink

Thursday June 30 2016

6k writes about the long journey from journeyman amateur snapper to Artist:

I don’t pretend to be a photo ninja. I can point, and I can shoot, and sometimes the results can be pretty good. Very occasionally, they can be startlingly good, but only very occasionally. I need to work more at not just pointing and shooting to increase the percentage of those startlingly good shots. We’ll get there.

There follows a picture of a bird spreading its wings.  In other words, the capture of a fleeting moment.

6k photos his family quite a bit, as they do things like explore the spectacularly beautiful coastline near where he lives, in South Africa.  Photoing your loved ones is also a matter of capturing the exact right moment.

With me, I think I get nearest to Art when I’m lining things up with each other.  I have a mental list of things I like, and a picture counts double in my head, if I can line a couple, or maybe even more, of these things.  The most characteristic of such alignments over the years have typically involved a digital photographer, with a London Big Thing in the background.

Here are a couple of efforts I might pick out to enter a competition, if someone told me I had to do that:

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In these two cases, there is also an element of me waiting for the right moment, or more accurately me snapping lots of promising looking moments and picking out the best one.

Those two are from this huge collection of unrecognisable photographers, which I doubt many of you scrutinised in its entirety.  So there are two of them again.  I particularly like the one with the blue balloon.

And here is another exercise in lining things up, captured just a few days ago.  This time, the object at the front is a plastic water bottle, resting on the anti-pigeon netting in the courtyard outside and above my kitchen window.  Behind the bottle is a thing that regulars here will know that I like a lot, namely: scaffolding!  This being the scaffolding at the top of the big conversion job that’s being done across the courtyard from me:

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That picture involves something I don’t usually like to do, which is cropping.  The original snap was rather bigger.

I don’t know what exactly I’ve got against cropping, but it feels to me like only one or two notches up from cheating.  Maybe I take rather excessive pride in (the Art of) getting the snap I want to emerge straight from the camera, no muss, no fuss, no photoshop.  The truth, of course, is that cropping is itself very much an Art.  But because I don’t do cropping that much, I probably could have cropped this photo a whole lot better than I actually did.

Tuesday June 21 2016

As I write, this game is boiling up nicely, following an England collapse at the start of their run chase.  And then, in the midst of all the drama, there was this:

Ilanks: “Isn’t there a Ben Foakes being discussed as a potential keeper for England. If he’s selected, England could have Stokes, Woakes and Foakes in the line-up!” Yes indeed. And wouldn’t that be A Thing?

A Thing indeed.  And if Chris Woakes was instead Ben Woakes, it would be Ben Stokes, Ben Woakes and Ben Foakes.  An even thingier Thing.

Today Surrey had one of their best days of the season so far, given what a crappy season they’ve had so far.  At the start of today, in their game against Notts at the Oval, Notts were 82-2, in reply to Surrey’s 323, following a very rainy day two.  But this morning, Notts rolled over for only another hundred, and Surrey (who threw away a similar big first innings advantage in an earlier game) then built a big lead.  If Surrey can do tomorrow what they did this morning, they could get their first win of the season.

I am becoming more and more of a Real Cricket Supporter, in the following sense: that my county doing well matters more to me than my country doing well.  I would not have swapped Surrey’s strong position for a better England position earlier this evening, against Sri Lanka.  I would still prefer a Surrey win tomorrow to an England win this evening.  Although, now I think about it, an England loss would be easily corrected by a win next time, but a Surrey win would be far huger for Surrey.  It could, as they say, kick start their season.  So maybe I just prefer a huge win to a nice win.  That could be it.

Ben Foakes, by the way, is the Surrey wicketkeeper.  I knew you’d be excited.  Plus, I heard indefatigable Surrey radio commentator Mark Church say yesterday that the best spin bowler in England just now, if England want a good one for their forthcoming tour of India, is Surrey’s veteran captain Gareth Batty.  Batty’s bowling today: 11.4 overs, 3 maidens, 23 runs, 4 wickets.  I know, I know, it’s almost too much excitement to take, in just one paragraph of one blog posting.  You’d best have a little lie down.

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That guy was photoed last Sunday, watching day one of the Surrey Notts game.  I really should, every now and again, visit the Oval and support Surrey in person, having paid some money.  It looks like I should just about be able to squeeze in.

LATER: Well.  I just nipped out to Sainsburys for a loaf of my favourite sort of bread, and while there I consulted Cricinfo on my mobile, one of the few things that my mobile (as controlled by me) knows how to do non-contemptibly.  (Don’t get me started on phone calls.) It revealed that England needed seven runs to win with one ball to go.  So, that, I assumed, was that.  But when I got home, I learned that Plunkett had hit the last ball for six, and it was a tie!  As you will already know, if you followed the first of the above two Cricinfo links.  Fan electronic bleeping noise tastic.

A DAY LATER: Well, well.  Yesterday morning, Notts went from two down to all out, for a further hundred runs.  This afternoon they went from two down to all out, for less than fifty, and Surrey got their first Championship Division One win of the season.  (Follow the second link above for the details.) Finally.  This time, it was the Surrey spinner whom England are likely to take to India (because he has a big future (unlike Batty)), Zafar Ansari, who did the damage.  11.3 overs, 3 maidens, 36 runs, 6 wickets.  Notts lost their last eight wickets for thirty eight, and crucially, went from 119-2 to 124-6, courtesy entirely of Ansari.  Ansari can also bat.  Moeen Ali look out, he’s coming for you.  Ansari would already be an England player, had he not bust his finger thumb at the end of last season.

LATER: Cricinfo agrees.

Thursday May 12 2016

I love signs.  They communicate a lot, by their nature, but they are not considered Art, so they aren’t preserved.  They come and go, and stuff that comes and goes is how a photographer who is only an okay photographer makes his photos count for something.

So, I gathered together all the sign photos I took, to do a big collection.  But that was taking too long, so I picked out the long thin ones, and here are those ones, in chronological order.  I really did take the first one first:

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Click on each to get the bigger pictures.

No coincidence that two of them - arguably three of them - are in English.  There’s quite a bit of English to be seen in French shops, just as there’s quite a bit of French in English shops.

Byrrh is the local drink of Thuir.  It’s a lot like Port.  I’d link to the website, but it makes noises that you have actively to silence.  I hate that.

What “lefties” means, when on the front of a shop, I have absolutely no idea.

LATER: This was all done in great haste, and I neglected to mention that the “lefties” sign is actually in Spain, in a big shopping centre we visited (and got stuck in because of traffic jams all afternoon (don’t ask)).  But, I still like the sign and am still baffled by it.

Thursday April 28 2016

Yes, it’s a bus, totally covered in an advert:

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Click on that horizontalised graphic if you don’t believe me.  Buses like this one, photoed by me in Charing Cross Road this evening. really liven up London.  Basic monochrome red is so twentieth century.

But when it comes to buildings, plain bright red is a step towards riotous colour.

Wednesday April 20 2016

As regulars here know, I am fascinated by unusual vehicles, and by almost all commercial vehicles.  Whereas cars tend to be reticent about making any sort of personal statement, commercial vehicles have to communicate.  They have to radiate an atmosphere.  They have to dress themselves like they’re going on the pull in a nightclub.  Well, they don’t have to.  But most commercial vehicles are an opportunity to do marketing, so why turn it down?  And these vehicles consequently radiate as many different atmospheres as there are commercial purposes being pursued in and with them.

Here are a couple of vans I spied today:

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Both are somewhat self-conscious, I think.  There is a lack of earnestness here, a certain ironic distance, a certain slightly bogus artifice, not to say Art, involved.

But, all part of what makes wandering about in London such an endlessly entertaining pastime.

Sausage Man website here.  I tried googling “Oliver London”, but all I got was a lot of stuff about a stage musical.  The small tricycle van looks oriental to me, and that its presence outside an oriental restaurant is not coincidental.

Saturday April 16 2016

And I was deliberately retracing steps I used to do make a lot of around eight or ten years ago, to see what had changed and what had not.  A lot had changed, in the form of a few big new buildings.  The rest had not changed.

Did I say that that sunset I recently posted photos of was last Saturday?  Yes.  Actually it was the Friday.  Get ill and you lose track of time.  That evening I also took a lot of other photos, on and from the south bank of the river, between Blackfriars road bridge and Tower Bridge, and here are some of the ones I particularly liked:

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That array of small photos (click on any you like to the look of to get it a decent size) really should not now be misbehaving, on any platform.  If it is, please get in touch, by comment or by email.

As to the pictures themselves:

1.1 A Deliberately Bald Bloke standing at the bottom of 240 Blackfriars.  (You can see the top of 240 Blackfriars in 3.1 here.) That Deliberately Bald look is, I think, fair game photo-blogging-wise.  The guy is choosing to look this way.  It’s a fashion statement, not an affliction.  Blog-mocking the involuntarily bald is not right, but blog-celebrating those who embrace their baldness is fine.  Especially if the guy obligingly turns his face away.

1.2 is one of my favourite weird London sites, namely the topless columns of the Blackfriars Bridge that isn’t, in between the two Blackfriars Bridges that are, the one on the right now sporting a new station on it.  The twist is that this was high tide, and waves were rhythmically breaking against a corner in the river wall and filling the air between my camera and the bridges with bits of water.

1.3 is a building on the other side of the river. Just beyond the Blackfriars Station bridge.  I do love what light and scaffolding and scaffolding covers sometimes do.

1.4 and 2.1 illustrate the universal photography rule to the effect that if you want to photo something very familiar, like St Paul’s Cathedral, you’d better include something else not so familiar, such as some propaganda for a current Tate Modern show that I will perhaps investigate soon, or maybe four big circles that you can see at the Tate Modern end of the Millennium Bridge.

2.2 is an ancient and modern snap, both elements of which I keep meaning to investigate.  Those two buildings, the office block and the church, are like two people I frequently meet, but don’t know the names of.  Luckily, with buildings, it’s not embarrassing to ask, far too late.

I know what that Big Thing behind the Millennium Bridge in 2.3 is, under wraps, being reconditioned, improved, made worse, whatever, we’ll have to see.  That’s Centre Point.  It even says most of that on it.  I have always been fond of Centre Point, one of London’s early Big New Things.

2.4 features something I have tried and failed to photo several times previously, a Deliveroo Man.  Deliveroo Men are usually in a great hurry and are gone before I can catch them, but this one was taking a breather.  Deliveroo Men carry their plasticated corrugated boxes on their backs like rucksacks, which I presume saves valuable seconds.

3.1: Another ancient/modern snap.  The very recognisable top of the Shard, and another piece of ancientness that I am familiar with but have yet to get around to identifying, see above.  I reallyl should have photoed a sign about it.  I bet there is one.

3.2: The golden top of the Monument, now dwarfed by the Gherkin and by the Walkie Talkie.

3.3: A golden hinde, which is to be found at the front of the Golden Hinde.  I’ve seen that beast before, but never really noticed it.

3.4: Another ancient/modern snap, this time with Southwark Cathedral dominating the foreground.  The combined effect yet again vindicates Renzo Piano’s belief that the Shard would blend into London rather than just crow all over it.  Those broken fragments at the top echo the four spikes on the nearby Cathedral.  It looks that way to me, anyway.

4.1: Another delivery snap, this time of the old school sort.  A White Van.  But with lots of propaganda all over it, notably the back door, in the new school style.

4.2: Yet another ancient modern contrast, this time the Monument, again, with a machine for window cleaning.  Note that small tripoddy object on the top of the Monument.  I suspect that this is to give advance warning if the Monument starts to wobble.

4.3: Two exercises in power projection, now both lapsed into tourist traps.  Behind, the Tower of London.  In front, HMS Belfast.

4.4: Finally!  Modern/modern!  The Walkie Talkie and the Cheesegrater, and probably my favourite snap of all these.  Not a view you often see in other photos, but there it was.  Should the bottom be cropped away, to simplify it even more.  I prefer to leave photos as taken.

5.1 shows that thing when reflected light is the exact same colour when reflected as originally.  Photography is light, so photography sees this.  But eyes always try to create a 3D model of what is going on, rather than just a 2D picture.  Eyes deliberately don’t see this.

5.2 and 5.4 take me back to my beautiful-women-taking-photos phase, which was big last decade.  These two were too good to ignore. They were just so happy!  But, mobile phones, which is very this decade.  Just like my cameras, the cameras in these just get better and better.

5.3 is another view of that amazing cluster of footbridges.

Wednesday April 13 2016

A Getting Old thing is that you take longer to get well, after not being well.  On Sunday, I dined.  I was not poisoned (this has been established), but I did catch a bug (ditto).  On Monday, I ate some more, as you do.  Early on Tuesday morning the bug, having been operating in a clandestine fashion from Sunday evening onwards, stirred itself into detectable action, and it became clear that everything I had eaten from Sunday evening onwards was … not needed.  It was either returned from whence it had come or else fast-tracked through, if you get my drift.  So, this morning, I had basically been starving for nearly two days.  Today, I consequently felt weak.  Had I been young, I would have been up and sparkling this morning.  Today I managed to eat something, or at any rate swallow something, and let us all hope that my body is able to make some use of it, because if it doesn’t, I will have been starving for the best part of a week.  Are all those noises in my stomach my stomach making use of what I have put into it, or my stomach rejecting what I have put into it?  I have to believe that it is food processing that I am hearing rather than food rejection.  But even if that’s right, it is taking more time to recover from this damn illness than it was to have it.

A particular result of all this starvation, aside from feeling rather starved, is that my mind/body is seems to have decided to prioritise in the warming department.  The upper body is still considered by my mind/body to be worth keeping warm, but my feet are apparently superfluous to requirements and are accordingly being allowed to freeze.  If I put on a fire, my upper body stews.  If I turn off the fire, my feet freeze.  I guess the mind/body figures I’ve not been using my feet much lately, so what’s the point in keeping them warm, given that fuel is so scarce just now?

I am starting to understand why Old People put their feet on top of hot water bottles, or in bowls of hot water.

People probably do tell you this sort of stuff when you are young, but being young, you don’t really take it in.

The good news is that although no fire has been on, my feet have now warmed up.  While I was writing this.  Do you suppose that my mind/body actually paid attention to what I was saying to you people?  There’s a thought.

LATER: No.  I cooked an omelette and that was what warmed my feet.  This also, it soon became clear, had also stewed my upper body.

Wednesday April 06 2016

I am continuing to read, with huge pleasure, Steven Johnson’s book about Joseph Priestley, The Invention of Air.  Here’s another good bit (pp. 58-61):

With the university system languishing amid archaic traditions, and corporate R&D labs still on the distant horizon, the public space of the coffeehouse served as the central hub of innovation in British society How much of the Enlightenment do we owe to coffee? Most of the epic developments in England between 1650 and 1800 that still warrant a mention in the history textbooks have a coffeehouse lurking at some crucial juncture in their story.  The restoration of Charles II, Newton’s theory of gravity, the South Sea Bubble – they all came about, in part, because England had developed a taste for coffee, and a fondness for the kind of informal networking and shoptalk that the coffeehouse enabled.  Lloyd’s of London was once just Edward Lloyd’s coffeehouse, until the shipowners and merchants started clustering there, and collectively invented the modem insurance company.  You can’t underestimate the impact that the Club of Honest Whigs had on Priestley’s subsequent streak, precisely because he was able to plug in to an existing network of relationships and collaborations that the coffeehouse environment facilitated.  Not just because there were learned men of science sitting around the table – more formal institutions like the Royal Society supplied comparable gatherings – but also because the coffeehouse culture was cross-disciplinary by nature, the conversations freely roaming from electricity, to the abuses of Parliament, to the fate of dissenting churches.

The rise of coffeehouse culture influenced more than just the information networks of the Enlightenment; it also transformed the neurochemical networks in the brains of all those newfound coffee-drinkers.  Coffee is a stimulant that has been clinically proven to improve cognitive function - particularly for memory-related tasks - during the first cup or two. Increase the amount of “smart” drugs flowing through individual brains, and the collective intelligence of the culture will become smarter, if enough people get hooked.  Create enough caffeine-abusers in your society and you’ll be statistically more likely to launch an Age of Reason. That may itself sound like the self-justifying fantasy of a longtime coffee-drinker, but to connect coffee plausibly to the Age of Enlightenment you have to consider the context of recreational drug abuse in seventeenth-century Europe.  Coffee-drinkers are not necessarily smarter; in the long run, than those who abstain from caffeine. (Even if they are smarter for that first cup.) But when coffee originally arrived as a mass phenomenon in the mid-1600s, it was not seducing a culture of perfect sobriety.  It was replacing alcohol as the daytime drug of choice. The historian Tom Standage writes in his ingenious A History of the World in Six Glasses:

The impact of the introduction of coffee into Europe during the seventeenth century was particularly noticeable since the most common beverages of the time, even at breakfast, were weak “small beer” and wine .... Those who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and stimulated, rather than relaxed and mildly inebriated, and the quality and quantity of their work improved .... Western Europe began to emerge from an alcoholic haze that had lasted for centuries.

Emerging from that centuries-long bender, armed with a belief in the scientific method and the conviction, inherited from Newtonian physics, that simple laws could be unearthed beneath complex behavior, the networked, caffeinated minds of the eighteenth century found themselves in a universe that was ripe for discovery. The everyday world was teeming with mysterious phenomena – animals, plants, rocks, weather – that had never before been probed with the conceptual tools of the scientific method.  This sense of terra incognita also helps explain why Priestley could be so innovative in so many different disciplines, and why Enlightenment culture in general spawned so many distinct paradigm shifts.  Amateur dabblers could make transformative scientific discoveries because the history of each field was an embarrassing lineage of conjecture and superstition.  Every discipline was suddenly new again.

Steven Johnson on how coffee replaced alcohol as the daytime drug of choice
The footbridges of Shad
Taking photo-notes and an app for improving photo-notes
Blog often (this time about the sound and the vision of this evening’s Tim Evans talk to LH)
A bus ride and tea versus one of the best concert halls in the world
Out and about with GD1 (8): Non-human creature vans
Another way to photo my meetings
The first Brian’s Friday of the year tomorrow evening
Orange coloured London
The Beckton Sewage Works
On the triumph of modernism in the kitchen
Twelve 2015 photos
Confirming an offer I made last night to Rob Fisher
Food memories from the outer suburbs
The next but one London Big Thing
Antoine Clarke on herding drunk cats
A Morris Minor advertising a ping pong night club
Calories defined
An underground history lesson
Marmite crisps are back!
Weird wide angle lens effect
Alcoholic Architecture sign
Sorry!  No Photo’s!
Golden Cheesegrater with cranes
Keeping up appearances in Sydney
It begins (badly)
Pancake White Van
Out and about with GD1 (2): How mobile phones both cause and solve meeting up problems
More keeping up of appearances
Heaven aka the Barley Mow
Tim Worstall on “reserves”
Strange London buses
Another use for a drone
Bad taste
Not squash
White Vin Van
Photoing the photoers on Westminster Bridge
The ROH bar and its floating-in-the-air drinkers
Drunkblogging a new London Big Thing
Talk tomorrow – haircut today
Incidental Last Friday details
Another place to look out over London from
Christmas Day photos
Santa’s tired helpers
ASI Christmas Party photos
At the ASI Christmas Party
Scary bunny
Hot dog shadow selfie
Friday photo-puzzles
The uniqueness of our microbiome
At the Libertarian Home cost of living debate
Letterz
Halloween buckets
Strange bread
Two guys on Westminster Bridge photoing ice creams in front of the Houses of Parliament
Triple selfie
Bill Bryson on the miracle of crop rotation
Roof party
Out and about in the sunshine
ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
Cat photo and cat news
ASI Boat Trip 7: Other photographers
Colossal fun
ASI Boat Trip 3: Drink!
ASI Boat Trip 2: My photos were indeed better than they looked last night
ASI boat trip - one good photo to be getting along with
Quota photos of and from Tate & Lyle Park
Another London vista
Go Chef
Organised water
Guardian online is a group blog that trolls its own readers
A slightly foreign part of London
Happiness is a wallet that I didn’t lose after all
South Bank signs
Two bits of hospitality trivia
A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
Camel
ME Hotel Radio Rooftop Bar
Church really dwarfed by modernity
Happiness is still Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
3D printer sighted!
Scott Wiener on pizza boxes
La Porte des Indes
Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Broad thrives properly on getting abuse
Fat bastard!
Pain in the midriff
A Strutton Ground shop and a Strutton Ground pub
Jamie Whyte on deferring gratification less as he gets older
Halloween is near!
The Heron Tower restaurant
Monty Panesar: “I piss on your short pitched fast deliveries aimed at my body!”
Pictures from Georgia and Warsaw
Rothko Toast
A Fleet Street lunch
Lunch at Gessler at Daquise
Michael Jennings - pictures of globalisation
What Michael Jennings has been learning about and will be saying about globalisation
Photoing people who are photoing food
Talking architecture at the Libertarian Home social
Classical CDs from Gramex
Six Nations joy
Brian’s Fridays will resume on the 25th of this month
Christmas Eve feast
Cheese or font?
Usain Bolt takes photos of photographers!
Another excellent spot to photo London from
Happy New Year
Les Rillettes Henaff
WWWhat a great afternoon!!!
Empty tables and empty chairs
No fruit juice
Choosing a Clean Food Outlet in Lawas is as easy as ABC
Just Righter
Another pub
The Armstrong Gun
Out to lunch with Alex Singleton
It’s interesting …
Female cows in TV advert shock
Thoughts on England not just keeping the Ashes but winning the series 3-1 (with asterisks)
And then give up and stay fat
Marmite spoons!
Merry Christmas
And here’s the proof!!!  Sixteen little square pictures!!!
Talk at Christian Michel’s
Cats know more about fluid mechanics than dogs
Why does a coffee lover not want coffee when he’s ill?
Blog hiati
Guerrilla webfare
To Serve Man
The long and short of conversation - Hitchens on YouTube
Graeme Swann on drink-driving charge after 3am dash to save kitten
Everyone?
iScream from Artisan du Chocolat
As strong and sweet as the free market itself
Yo! Sushi cat says:  Yo!  Stay away!
Incoming from Molly Norris!
“Is this a case of us operant-conditioning them or them operant-conditioning us?”
Sounds like a brothel with film star lookalikes
We’ll always have Chelsea
I never knew Marmite came in tanker lorries
Alfie the cat answers the Elmlea challenge
Sushi and scaffolding at Victoria
Why do pregnant women now do quite a lot of driving of their husbands?
The cats from out of town that cleared out the rats during the siege of Leningrad
My sleep and luggage and bus and fluid travel hell
My local Blockbuster Video just closed
Saying it with lights in the Victoria Station shopping centre that were still switched on!
Picture purrfection and a rather good Clive James piece
In other news …
Talking with Toby Baxendale
How building St Peter’s Rome split the Catholic Church and how marzipan was invented in Luebeck
The decor in Peter Jones - and where in London can I find a small ice-cube-making machine?
Quotes dump
Pull Tab
Magic bottle that makes dirty water drinkable
London Bites @ Sway
Summer break
Green eyed monster devouring cat food
Friend anonymous
Busy day and busy night
How technology has improved detention
The Vita-Mix 5000 at the Veggie Show
Register for your free pack and five £1-off-coupons
Acton
Even crazier crisps!
Vote for crazy flavoured crisps!
It could be a rather small funeral
Milk containers ancient and modern
Happy Christmas to all my readers
Gadget gold
There’s only one way to find out!  Fight!
Palming them off with a sunset
Inamo
England sinking fast
At Liberty 2008 all day
The uses of Jesus
When three’s company but four’s a crowd
Billion Monkey with icecream!
Jellennium Bridge
Big head and big something else
Heroic Billion Monkey falsely arrested by cop whom he photoed breaking law to get to chip shop!
Photo of some foodski
Crackers
Tea with CDs
Billion Monkey Alan Little?
Brian Micklethwait dot com quote of the day - soup
Democracy for sale – starting with football and beer
Berlin Billion Monkeys photo rat and cheese sand sculpture!
Renaissance Man
White Man’s Poison?
Fat Man on a Keyboard
That Rooney goal
Why photographing Big Ben can resemble being photographed with a sandwich
Male cows do not have udders
Spreading the word for free
Grassy car with blog