28 March 2008


It's raining now. Tomorrow it's going to rain again and on Sunday: more rain.

The Botogol family are spending the weekend not really very close to the South Coast in fact, in a caravan, dressed as Vikings this time

We are promised wi-fi.

If it ain't broke...

I am implementing a technical change to my blog - if it disappears momentarily please be patient!

Effective now the URL for this blog will be http://blog.greenideas.com

The greenideas homepage is

(A tech test : grouchy ney fuegia basket jemmy button )

25 March 2008

Green Ideas

So, I finally had some; well: one anyway. And not about climate change either (to be honest I'm looking forward to the Thames having the climate of the Loire )

No, my green ideas were more literal minded


21 March 2008

Station Time

Twickenham railway station is nothing if not traditional. There was a refit a couple of years back but the new canopy hardly disguises the bleak 1950s architecture and when it rains water still tumbles through the roof and puddles on to the floor. At the top of the stairs up from Platform 4 the post-war feel is reinforced by the glassed-in display cabinet containing notices from the obscure Twickenham Society (is it a hoax?).

They don't sell Oyster Cards.

At the entrance to the station is a little kiosk. For many years it was manned by a 'character' of the old school who glared out from behind a high counter and 'hello darlinged' the girls on their way to Putney High. He's long since gone and now the shop is run by two young Asian men who have gone some way to inject a 21st century-feel with bright lighting, a cappuccino machine and a selection of samosas, but their little slice of modernism is belied by their polite good mornings and the way they noticed when I switched my regular newspaper. Becasue, you see: Twickenham Station Time is set to 1958 and like the Torchwood Time Rift, it's compelling - it draws you in

Yesterday at the little kiosk the woman in front of me asked for the Manchester Guardian. The Guardian moved to London in 1964; I don't suppose I have heard it called that in twenty years, but the newspaper was handed over without hesitation, and just for a moment I seemed to catch a glimpse of the old masthead.

I bent down to take a Guardian of my own from the pile and, when I looked up, she was gone.

15 March 2008

Time and other Questions

time. by ram..
It was one of those stolen London moments.

Finding myself with twenty-five quite unexpected, achingly free, all-alone minutes to kill in rainy Sloane Square I bagged myself an unwise glass of Chardonnay and a corner table in a bright and bijou, tidy and table-clothed, exquisite but ersatz French bar.

Sipping the yellowy, buttery, oily wine, I leant back in my chair listening to the buzz of conversation: high-heeled women clutching bags from Harvey Nicks; men fresh from the office thumb-tapping their blackberry curves; lovers sitting oh, so close, murmuring into eachother's ears checking watches, and a woman alone, half way through a bowl of moules marinere. The bar was buzzing and heady and not a soul on earth, I realised, knew where I was.

Suddenly I felt on top of the world: I was Cortez overlooking Darien, Hornblower taking leave of Bolton in the Mediterranean heat, Adam escaping Eden with all the world before him and in my hand I tested the weight of a subtle knife with its wild, unlikely promise of other worlds; I was standing in the sunlight, the early morning sunlight in the little harbour church of St. Cecilia, to praise a soul returning to the earth, to the rose of Jericho and the Bougainvillea..... Anything... Could... Happen. ....

Actually, what was going to happen was: I was going to be on the telly, for I had in my pocket a ticket to be in the audience of Question Time and I was waiting for Cadogan Hall to open.

There is no two ways about it: I was most certainly in an extremely odd mood.

I dug out my old-man-glasses and un-holstered a silver blackberry of my own and on it I quickly wrote three questions. Questions topical yet timeless, witty yet wise, pertinent and political, questions they just had to select for broadcast.

And then my precious twenty-five minutes was up and I tipped the waiter extravagantly and my hat to my surprised neighbours, finished my wine and my almonds and ran outside, only to bump into Mrs Botogol hurrying in the same direction "Oh", she said, "did you have a drink in Leon on your own? You could have texted me"

They chose my question.

I rehearsed it to myself, under my breath, over and over, anxious to be autocue-perfect, but David Dimblebly wasted a whole 25 minutes on the budget, and they didn't get time to come to me.

On iPlayer you can spot me seven times in the audience.

12 March 2008

Happy Now

Our new uber-boss is keen on feedback and yesterday he polled his whole department:
After six months in the new org structure are you happier, unhappier, or much the same?
~ Reply in complete confidence~

Now, I am an old hand and not easily taken in by that sort of ruse and besides, by uncanny coincidence, it was only last week that we were asked to officially acquiesce to the firm's policy on personal private data..... so it didn't take me long at all to figure out how best to respond.

Inspecting the results this morning, however, I could see that others were less circumspect and I did wonder if I was unduly cautious. Perhaps I should be more open at work?


However, I couldn't help chuckling at the inadvertent openness of poor Chelsey, a first year Associate in Research who joined us only six months ago and who is, sadly, unhappier than she was then.... and who accidentally pressed reply-to-all.

03 March 2008

While I was away...

pig by botogol.
Well, I've been in Afghanistan, obviously, where I was attached to the Blogging Corps.

I'd like to thank the mainstream media, and Matt Drudge for maintaining a complete news blackout over my whereabouts and my role (I was a junior Dossier Officer which involves working in the shadows drafting D-Notices and helping with senior officers' expense claims. In other words, very much in the front line.

Nevertheless, it was good to get back to England and to put my new Military Training to use in Bushy Park.

"What are you doing?" asked a small girl, kneeling down next to me.

I was in the fenced-off toddlers' playground, on my own, hunched awkwardly over a wooden pig, both hands thrust deep inside its belly, a drawing pin in my mouth, swearing under my breath.

"Oh, nothing" I replied, airily.

"Yes you are!"

I looked around for a mother, rather unsure whether or not I was hoping to find one. But no one seemed to be watching and I considered what to say. "Go Away" was most tempting, but risked tears, and in an instant I decided: the truth was always best.

"I'm hiding something inside the pig"

"Is it drugs?"

Two hours later twenty-five excited eleven year olds would swarm over the playground fence frightening babies senseless, knocking toddlers aside searching for this clue: for it was a Birthday Treasure Hunt.

Never, never do one of those. That little pig seemed to be made of mahogany, and with the awkward angle I couldn't get the pins in (my thumbs are still bruised); I had eleven more brightly coloured envelopes to hide and the party started in twenty minutes; it looked like it was going to rain.

"No," I said, wearily, "it's not drugs, in fact it's nothing interesting at all. It's just a .... well, it's a secret clue"

Her eyes widened with excitement, and she moved a little closer...