Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Lovely Buckets

I really have seen it all now. My team and I arrived early for our departmental Xmas lunch, and we saw something that I doubt that paying customers are generally supposed to see. In fact, it really turned my stomach.

One of the waitresses, as bold as brass, was dishing out the bread rolls from a mop bucket. A red plastic mop bucket just like the one we have at home. Now call me old-fashioned, but I don't think you will find this in the book of how to impress your customers. Hygene considerations were attended to, she was, after all, wearing rubber gloves. Not bright yellow Marigolds it has to be said, but something that looked a little more refined than that. If they had been canary yellow, it would have convinced me she had been swilling out the urinals only moments before.

We pondered for a moment how they intended to serve the soup course. One flush or two anyone?

The Marx Brothers

...Or a Day at the Races. Never let it be said that the old adage
"Failure to prepare is to prepare to fail"
doesn't apply even when you are trying to have fun.

We had a company Xmas do last week at the Races, and I didn't do any homework beforehand to study the Racing Post or form guides in the dailies. In fact I only really had one plan not to spend more than a certain amount on betting, at which I consider myself to be a complete novice.

So when we sat down for our meal, and the Tote lady came round explaining about the Jackpot and Placepot cards that were conveniently located in front of each placemat, I didn't really think that I would actually need some of my budget for betting on individual races. So when my two accumulator bets had been blown out on the first race, that rather spoilt the excitement of the subsequent races, as I had literally nothing riding on them.

Like all good budgets however, mine was there for the breaking. My will snapped in the seventh race, and I put a minimum bet on a horse to win. It did, and I at least recouped some of the loss from my earlier rashness. Of course, I then wished I had put rather more on it in the first place, but that is the trouble with betting isn't it.

Being of a technical mind however, what impressed and dismayed me in equal measure was the replacement of the bookies 'book' and simple printed cards with the bet number, with snazzily printed betting slips reeled off from their laptops. It was about ten years since I had been racing.

Is there any part of life into which IT hasn't intruded?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Eighth Wonder

Concrete ideas (a recurring theme) - now a bridge spanning a gorge is a great example of one. Norman Foster's Millau Bridge in the Massif Central in France is a true wonder of the world.

I remember the press coverage when it opened a year ago, but the Top Gear boys went there last week, and I decided to check out the website. The webcam lets you enjoy the weather as well as marvel at the fine architectural design. It is truly astonishing how they managed to construct the thing so far off the ground.

I haven't yet seen the clouds underneath the bridge but that must be a sight to behold.