Sunday, 30 May 2010

Somehow I always knew I was destined for greatness.....

I'm not a believer.  In fact I'm what you would call more of a militant atheist.  I do not believe in any form of religion whatsoever and, in fact, the thought of organised religion enrages me disproportionately.  The fact that a mere superstition can hold such power in an otherwise sensible country like the USA, for example (although there are other countries to choose from, including most of Africa), just beggars belief.  To me, such blind devotion to something that doesn't exist is nothing short of mental illness.

To be honest, I really don't care if this offends any of my readers because - frankly? You can do better than this.  The Enlightenment freed our minds from the straitjacket trappings of the Church and showed us all the wonders of the Universe through the eyes of science. So why voluntarily choose to live in the Middle Ages?

But, today, something happened.  Something weird.

As you probably know, I have an allotment, about which I blog separately (read it here).  The Lovely Husband is away this weekend so I decided that I would spend a decent amount of time there trying to catch up with the weeding and stuff that I couldn't do when I had a god-awful cold earlier in the month. It's a weird thing, this gardening/allotment lark - you can spend every daylight hour breaking your back digging, bending, weeding, hoeing, watering and it always looks like you've done bugger all.  To say it's frequently disheartening is an understatement. But I have faith that it will all come together, as it usually does.

One of the jobs I had to do today was to earth up my spuds -  it involves heaping up extra soil to cover the leaves of the plants as they break through the ground surface.  While I was doing this, my trowel caught on something.  I scraped the earth away and saw something shiny and, sort of, layered.  It was a similar size and shape to those cloth books they make for kids, which is what I first of all thought it was.

Finding a kid's cloth book buried in my potato patch would be weird enough.

But this was way weirder.....

It was a whole bunch of religious photographs.  What the ......?

Yep, a load of photos, in a pile, buried in the middle of my potato patch.

I KNEW it - I knew I was different to all the other kids at school and this was it, this was my message from God.  I'm obviously a modern-day Joan of Arc.  Obviously.  Why did I ever doubt?

The message would be in the photographs (click on them to make them bigger).

There was a crucifix:

I'm not about to nail myself to a cross for anyone, so we'll just ignore that one....

There was the Blessed Virgin Mary balancing atop a big vase of flowers:

A neat trick, to be sure, but one I'm not going to be able to master.  That or Immaculate Conception, which I have tried.  True story.

There was Jesus who was also doing an impressive flower-balancing act:

And then I found The One:

Stands to reason I'm being told that I need to go out and burn some priests. Father Asbestos you ain't.  Right, that's it.  Enough of this banter, I've got God's Work to do - anyone got any matches?

Monday, 24 May 2010

All girls' toys should be like this

This is sheer genius......

Glorious London

After leaving the studios, we walked along the South Bank and London just looked breathtaking, as it often does on a hot summer night (okay, it's still spring, but you know what I mean...).

I didn't have my proper camera with me, just my iPhone but I sometimes quite like using the camera on it, so all the pictures below were taken that way.

Sunday, 23 May 2010


I wrote a very smug post on 27 March this year about getting to be in the audience for the filming of QI on 21 May.  Those of you who keep up with the calendar will realise it's now 23 May.  Which means I've been.  And what a jolly entertaining way of spending a sunny evening up in London Village it was too.  I can highly recommend it.  It included food, drink, sleb spotting, a frisson of tension, relief, a lot of laughter, a couple of numb bums and photography - what more could anyone want?

The email ticket said we had to be at The London Studios (formerly London Weekend Television) on the South Bank by 6.45pm when they open the doors, which will shut promptly at 7.15pm.  The Lovely Husband and I decided to go up in the late afternoon and have something to eat first.  Because we lack all manner of originality, we ended up again at Wahaca in Covent Garden, mostly lured by the memory of the lovely, lovely Margaritas that we had when we went there last month on my birthday.  This time, though, we were restrained and only had one each (oh, and a bottle of beer each too - see? restraint is (very infrequently) my middle name.  Yeah, Kaz Restraint Jones, that's me....)

We sauntered at a fairly leisurely pace over to the studios, getting there at about 6-ish, to discover the queue went all the way down the bloody road!  Hellfire!  We knew from previous experience (having been in the audience for the Jay Leno Show in beautiful downtown Burbank, LA, on our honeymoon in 1996) that someone looking official, carrying a clipboard, would eventually walk down the line, counting heads and that, even though you would think they would only send out the right number of tickets to fill the seats, not everyone would get in.

And so it came to pass.

Along he came, counting heads.  One of the girls in the group behind us questioned him as to the point in sending out too many tickets and he explained, rather graciously I thought, that the guest list for that night's recording was larger than usual so those seats had to be reserved, but if the guests didn't show, they would let in more people to take their places.  He apologised and said that if anyone in the queue didn't get in, then they would be given a guaranteed place at a later recording.

While we were waiting, TLH and I were pondering who might be the guests - within seconds, a fancy, top-of-the-range convertible Jaguar swooshed along the road and into the underground car park of the National Theatre next door, being driven by James Corden!  "Ooh", we said, "wonder if it's him?" although we kinda hoped not.  I mean, I've got nothing against him and I find Gavin and Stacey quite funny, but I would not look at him and immediately think of him as a prime QI panellist.

Within another 10 minutes, another swish convertible went past, being driven by Hardeep Singh Kohli wearing a lime green turban. (For non-UK readers, he is a television presenter recently suspended by the BBC for allegedly being a little "overfriendly" towards the laydees).  "Blimey", we opined, "it's sleb central round here.  Perhaps the nice weather has brought them out of hibernation".  Indeed, TLH informed me, he had, himself, only this week spotted actor and comedian Hugh Dennis at Waterloo Station.

The doors opened, we shuffled along.  We decided that it would, indeed, be a shame if we didn't get in but as it was such a gorgeous evening, we could just head along the South Bank and find somewhere to drown our sorrows.  We were, however, denied a consolatory beverage because we made the cut!  Just.  Only about another 20 people behind us in the queue got in.

We followed everyone else inside, up stairs lined with large gurning photos of various ITV luvvies, and into the studio itself.  We were in the very back row.  The studio wasn't as warm as I thought it'd be but that was okay because it was very hot outside, so a bit of cool was most welcome.  Despite the fact that they say no photos can be taken, I'm afraid I couldn't resist so took these with my iPhone (which is why the quality's not great).

The studio before they turned on the lighting.

Check out all the stuff hanging from the roof.

With all the proper lighting on

At about 7.20pm, Stephen Fry came out, took his seat behind the desk and, more or less, did his own warmup, which was a bit unexpected.  He was exactly how you see him on the telly.  Friendly, avuncular and, despite his recent gastric band fitting, cuddly.  He explained to those who didn't know, that he was an acknowledged techno-geek and as part of his Twitter feeds, at each of these current recordings, he gets the audience to say a word which he tapes on what looked like a handheld tape recorder (too far away, couldn't see).  He then uploads the tape and asks his Twitter readers to guess what the word means.  Our word was "Hamfatter".  That's "Hamfatter" which means a low-grade actor/performer.  It's where we get the term 'ham' or 'hamming it up'.

He then introduced his guests - Sandi Toksvig, Rob Brydon, David Mitchell and, as always, Alan Davies.  We all clapped and cheered.  Then the recording proper started, and they really did begin with the god-awful title music - we had wondered if they dubbed the music on in post-production but, no, it was played in full, exactly like you see on the telly.

Tonight's episode was on the letter 'H' and mostly about history, which pleased me no end, being all Mrs Archaeology 'n' everyfink.  My smug index reached the maximum level of 11 when it turned out that I actually knew the answers to quite a few of the questions and it was almost more than I could do to not stick my hand up in the air and shriek "Ooh, ooh, sir, I know, I know, ask me......" when he asked what was the proper definition of 'Henge'? Where was the Battle of Hastings fought? Where was the Bayeux Tapestry made? What's this? (it was a picture of the Antikythera mechanism) - those were just the ones I can remember.

Everything was quite unhurried, and it really was almost like the panellists were bantering with each other at a dinner party.  If you're a fan of the show, then you'll know that Stephen Fry often peppers the show with nuggets of information and it really seems that he does actually know all that stuff - it isn't fed to him through an earpiece.  I was a little sad to discover that Alan Davies wasn't quite as funny as he appears on the televised show, but I expect some judicious editing will sort that out.  Everyone else was completely fab and very funny.

The recording actually took almost 2.5 hours which, for a 40 minute show, is going some.  Plus the seats got quite uncomfortable after a while.  We got out of the studio at about 9.45pm and went for a walk along the South Bank towards Waterloo.  It was a fabulous evening, warm, cloudless, people enjoying the weather, and London lit up like a Christmas tree - stunning.  I took photos but will post them later as it's too hot here to type anymore, and I want to go and sit in the garden.

Hide the sharps....

Okay, so, I think I need to explain here.  Way back on 18 March this year, I did a blog post about shaving my legs.  I put up this picture to show there was little damage:

See just that little graze there?

What I should have done, and didn't for some reason, is explain that this was noteworthy in my life because this is what usually happens:

Yes, this is a complete gouge.  It hurt to fuckery too.  Wanna see it closer?

In hindsight, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to use the same razor that I'd just been using to shave off all the rock hard little cotton bobbles that had formed on the bottom sheet on our bed which made it feel like you were lying on gravel.  Yes, I've been shaving the bed.  Perhaps an electric razor is really the best way for me to go, less chance of killing myself.  Although I have been quite badly electrocuted before, so maybe not. Dang, maybe I'll just have to take to wearing ankle length skirts and letting it all grow out.....

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Ooh, new bling!

I've never been awarded much in my life, I mean, like proper prizes and stuff.  Mainly, I 'spose, because I don't do anything competitive that might have something shiny at the end of it.  Of course I've been awarded various certificates for qualifications ranging from Grade 2 CSE Arithmetic to a Master's in Archaeology, but I worked my testicles off for those (well, perhaps not the CSE so much, but you know what I mean).

And I suppose if I was one of those New Agey types into cod-spirituality (as I once was, but then my eyes were opened and I donned my Carapace of Sceptical Cynicism), I could say, if I felt so inclined, that the Universe had awarded me with The Lovely Husband.  (Insert comment about working someone else's testicles off to achieve that).

No, I'm talking about awards and stuff that come out of the blue.  A bit like the nominations I got for the MAD awards (over there, in the left hand column, just there, see?) which were totally unexpected and gave my little(ish) ego a much welcomed polish.  I didn't win, by the way, didn't even make it to the finalists but then I wasn't expecting to.

And this morning's bit of bling has started the day off well.  The very lovely Monalisa has seen fit (God help her) to award me a Prolific Blogger Award:

This is all very lovely but, of course, with great power comes great responsibility and There Are Rules to be followed.

These are:

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!

2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.

3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.

4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

So now I have to pass this award onto seven other bloggers.  They are, in no particular order:

Katyboo's Weblog



Honeycomb Hideout




It was hard to choose just 7 but please check them out because they're all lovely.

Momentous few days ahead....

The next few days are going to be very interesting.  Tomorrow, Friday, TLH and I are going up to London Village to sit in the audience for a recording of QI.

But of equal excitement is that, on Sunday, after 6 years, 'Lost' finally comes to an end.  Answers are trickling out.  I have been faithful, I hope I'm not left disappointed......

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Bedtime at Jones Towers

(A little background - TLH has been away for a few days, visiting relatives in his native homeland.  While he has been absent, I have gone to bed early, late, whenever I wanted.  I have lain in the middle of the bed in starfish formation and revelled in the silence.  He returned home earlier than expected last night.  He has also lately become obsessed with playing Mafia Wars on Facebook.  I make no comment on this as I introduced him to it in the first place).

Me: It's half-past midnight.  I'm tired and am going to bed.  Are you coming?

TLH: Err, if I stay up for another 20 minutes or so I can travel to Paris and click the button three times.

Me: rolls eyes.

I go to bed. TLH comes too.

We lay, waiting for Sylvester to come and put us to bed (his nightly chore), discussing events of the day.  Sylvester comes to tuck us in, then flops his great hairy bulk down between us and starts to snore his catty snore.  His reverie is, however, disturbed by TLH suddenly leaping out of bed just as I'm about to turn off the light.

Me: What are you doing?

TLH (running downstairs): Nothing.

Me:  Oh good grief! You've gone to fetch your laptop, haven't you?

TLH returns clutching his iPhone, from which he can access his Facebook profile and, hence, Mafia Wars.

Me:  God, I was just about to turn off the light! Harrumph.  How much longer do you have to wait?

TLH: Oh, about 10 minutes or so.

Me:  Well, okay.  To pass the time I suppose you could check out the IMDB messageboard for 'Bottom', especially the threads on 'Bottom phrases you use in real life' and 'Unseen character names'.

TLH: Yeah! And while I'm reading that, I could play some gentle, soothing ambient music (fires up iTunes).

Which is how I found myself last night, at 1am, lying in bed being shaken awake by TLH's laughter as he read out such fantastic names as "Ted Unlucky "Suicide" McGloomy" and ""Dodgy" Bob McMayday, the most violent travel agent in the world" while being serenaded by the calming sounds of  Led Zeppelin's 'Rock 'n Roll':

TLH managed to get to Paris, you'll no doubt be pleased to hear, and click the relevant button three times.  He then turned the light off, rolled over and started farting.

Welcome home, darling.  It's good to have you back - the place just isn't quite the same without you....

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Fair Trade Earrings

You guys know I make stuff and I'll occasionally refer to something new I've come up with.  I don't like to use my Mrs Jones space for overt and obvious advertising - I reckon I've put the links down the sides, if you visit and you like something there, you'll buy it.  I'm not naturally pushy when it comes to 'selling' my things, even though I am very proud at how something's come out (if I don't think it's good enough, it doesn't go on the stall or the websites).

But a few months back I was wandering around a few of my favourite online bead shops (where I get my supplies) and came across Acholi Beads and I thought they were lovely.  I didn't know what they were so read up on them.

These beads are handmade by Ugandan women of the Acholi tribe.  They fled civil war in the north of Uganda and ended up in refugee camps in a hillside slum just outside the capital, Kampala, where the only money they could earn to feed their families and the orphans they cared for was $1 a day crushing rocks in a quarry.

A young chap called James A Pearson came along, saw that he could help and set up Acholi Beads.  The women now make these lovely beads by recycling paper (tearing them into strips, rolling them up and then soaking them in varnish).  It was something they were already doing, but he advised them on microfinance, investing, design, collaboration and setting up working co-operatives.  It is both Fair Trade and socially proactive business.

The women are now no longer working in the quarries.  The beads (and the jewellery) they make are bought from them for a fair price and then made available to retailers.

I have bought some of the loose beads and have made three pairs of earrings so far (I have more beads but haven't made them into anything yet - I'm thinking perhaps a bracelet.....).  Actually, I've made four pairs but I liked the orange and blue pair so much I've kept them. The beads are fairly large but because they're made of paper they weigh very little.

The three pairs are online now and available from  You can click on 'Latest Things' and they'll be there, or put 'Acholi' into the search box.

I hope you'll have a look as I think this is such a truly worthwhile project. If they prove popular, I will buy more beads which will help the Ugandan women.

Thank you.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Kiln Temperatures

I'm starting to feel more human and, this morning, was down in Godalming collecting something nice for Ms Katyboo's birthday when I noticed that the empty premises next door to the art supplies shop is being refurbished as The Wey Gallery.  The place is just being fitted out at present so I have no idea what kind of gallery it's going to be, but it got me pondering that I might just see if they'd be interested in looking at any of my fused glass items.

I've been contemplating whether or not to have a go at doing slumping.  This is not, as you might imagine, lolling on the sofa in front of the telly - that I'm a master at and don't need any practice at all.  Slumping glass involves putting something in the kiln that, effectively, the glass is, when heated enough, going to drape itself over and take the form of.  You can buy moulds in different shapes, you coat them with some kind of anti-sticking, releasing agent (probably a liquid in this case), balance your sheet of glass over the top and heat it up enough so that it, literally, slumps over/into the mould.

There are many shapes and you can improvise as well. 

 A couple of slumping moulds

The results can be amazing:



Admittedly, those two examples above are just unbelievably accomplished, so I'll be going for something much simpler.  I'll keep you updated as to progress on this. 

But while I was having a look, I found this brilliant table which gives the kiln temperatures for different glass processes in both fahrenheit and centigrade, so for the sake of my readers who have been most interested in my 'how to fuse dichroic glass' post and have asked follow-up questions on temperatures, I would suggest printing out a copy and putting it either near your kiln or putting it in your firing logbook.