Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who Is Frank Sidebottom?

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To be honest, its been some years since I asked that question. Its been years since I have seen him on television and sad to say sometimes people are forgotten and suddenly come to mind. The truth is if they are no longer seen on television, you wrongly tend to think that they are no longer in the business when often they are doing fine, thank you very much.

I don't listen but came across Iain Lee on LBC last week and discovered Frank was to be a guest, I became distracted and forgot about his appearance and missed him and then discovered that he was to appear on Channel M. I don't know what it is either but a quick search on the web, it appears to be a channel that is for and promotes the Manchester region and every Friday at 10pm(with repeats)he has been given his own programme again, I am hoping that I can watch again and that it is carried on satellite, otherwise I suppose it will only be seen on cable in Manchester.

Frank is a cult(I think that's the term)I seem to remember him doing programmes in 1980's and then...I lost track. Then, suddenly he was there on screen last evening on Channel4 taking part in Paul O'Grady's programme with national coverage. I dare not hazzard a guess at how old Frank is...age is only a number and Frank doesn't look a day over...

There is another cult in the Manchester/Blackpool area who pull in large crowds where ever they appear. That's misleading in that they are a creation of Buzz Hawkins and they have a series of recordings available, some radio stations play them as a comic insert and they often go on tour. They are The Bradshaws, a family comprising of Audrey, I'm having a senior moment(I forget the name of the male character)and their son Billy. They have to be heard to be believed :-)

If you get the chance they do have a site on the net as does Frank.

Take a look sometime.

Frank Sidebottom

Frank Sidebottom

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The BBC On The Naughty Step

Remarkably, I see the BBC a little like a member of my family that needs scolding occasionally. In many cases I still like what the BBC does radiowise and compared to much of what is available across the world it can be said it is worth the investment the licence fee allows.

Another time, I may argue and discuss whether a guarantee of money coming in annually works for or against them. Also, in general it is public broadcasting but thanks to various operations away from these shores and productions shown on commercial television and radio abroad with a BBC logo attached and programmes now shown on commercial satellite channels that they have sold the programmes to or perhaps have a stake in for all I know a reputation built up over the years, it is supplementing its finances from the commercial world. Not forgetting the books, tapes and video's associated with programmes that air on the BBC. In some ways that is adapting to a modern business model.

A double edged sword being that if they make their own shows(good or bad)they are insular but equally if they commission a programme from an independent company or that company pitches an idea to the BBC can it truly be said to be a BBC programme because a logo is added to the Beginning and end credits? This quota of using independent producers I seem to remember was a Government idea forced upon the BBC years ago.

I seem to have an inkling the use of independent production companies was introduced during a time that there was only 4 stations broadcasting BBC1, BBC2, ITV1 and Channel4. With all the channels available in the UK now there are plenty of alternative broadcasters for independent companies to take their ideas to so maybe this forcing of certain broadcasters to use them should be taken away. With the provision that the BBC can continue to do so if it should wish to which is different to saying here is the quota that you must commission. I digress as I often do.

As I said earlier, I see it as a family member that I am generally proud of but it needs scolding but if anyone else comes along and does so suddenly I feel that I want to defend it, that's ok to criticise if you are a relative but woe betide anyone else doing so.

But recently I have actually bothered to see what they are offering not just via local radio alongside the national and National digital services but via satellite what is being offered to the people of Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland via Television and Radio. And there are some wonderful programmes of high quality being produced admittedly with a slant towards and patriotism for the people living in that part of the UK but for all that most of the schedule allows them to get the best of or all the output seen in England sometimes on another day or delayed by an hour. My point being that some of these programmes are worthy of being seen across the UK. But as often the opt out part of the schedule is the same everywhere so I am lucky to see some of these but have to decide which as you can only watch the one you have chosen.

Finally, my point...we know that BBC Television and BBC Radio 5 are promoting the annual Sports person of the year and they've moved it to NEC in Birmingham and offered tickets to the public so they can attend rather than the few in BBC television centre. However, a trailer came on before or after a programme on BBC Wales last night and I never knew this(is it a new thing or has this gone on for years?)

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Another series that ex-toles the Welsh but is worthy of being seen across the whole of the UK.

On the other hand for all the great things the BBC still manage to produce and deserve praising for anyone who has been following recent events that many of us have been having on their website with many messageboards closing at short notice and how some of us even when being positive are finding our posts being removed and there is now no longer the chance to have a kind of re pore with your other posters. You also have no idea which posts will be allowed to remain on the site as one host or mod seems to have a different idea of what is allowed.

So I am afraid that our blogs and newly started sites will be more important and the way many of us will be able to stay in touch and hopefully other posters will find there way and join us and we'll be able able to say much more than we are able now. Plus we will not have the annoying software that means that you cannot respond immediately, on the BBC boards even if you wish to type one line of text you have to wait for about three minutes before you are able to post again.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Digital Radio Frequency Spectrum...

may be limited and though offering choice(if a decent signal can be obtained)we know all too well we are trying to squeeze too many stations into too small a space so often the bit rate is reduced and where possible some stations that would be better appreciated in stereo are broadcasting in mono. Or in the case of the BBC sometimes it will borrow a little of another station to allow a part time broadcast sound a little better ie: Radio 5's Sports Extra takes some of Radio 4's allowed rate and it then goes into mono until Extra closes.

The problem of reception came up on the Points Of View messageboard at the BBC Site and it appears that I am not alone in having to use a digital radio in a bedroom to attempt to get a signal at all. One of these posters suggests other problems with DAB that I had not thought of as adding to the problem...not enough repeater transmitters to boost the signals and the frequency that is being used as being too high and that a lower frequency spreads over a greater distance.

I am not an engineer but take this as likely to be true, after all the other information that has come to my notice of late.

Well, the media company behind some of the UK's most popular station's will launch digital a new DAB service on Christmas day which will be cross promoted on another station it runs Classic FM. I await to see if it is able to broadcast in stereo but again it will be available on line, on satellite alongside DAB and it will play Jazz of many kinds and hope to make jazz more popular and accessible.

I discovered that an artist I purchased on cd a few weeks ago will be on the playlist. I purchased that because I liked the sound but never thought it was jazz.

Like many media outlets in the press and broadcasting what actually is a particular genre is open to interpretation, I find show tunes and some movie music included within Radio 3 and Classic FM's output and at what point is newer material allowed onto such stations and accepted as classical? I suspect the same will be true of this new Jazz station.

Update:Take a look at this link on another blog I link to Shrew MediaThe DAB problem is happening in Sweden, this blog entry also has a direct link to the story.

When will it get the coverage in the UK that this starting to get around the world?

RIP Alan Freeman

Alan "Fluff" Freeman (1927-2006)

Posted by Picasa A broadcasting legend has passed away peacefully. Only a few deserve such a description. For many his voice was instantly recognisable as is the memory of his "Pick Of The Pops" on a Sunday teatime waiting to hear which record was number one.

He did so much more than that programme and had a love of music from many genres especially Opera though again the other show he'll be credited for was a Rock Programme which ran on Saturday afternoons.

Over the years he worked on BBC Radio's 1 and 2, Capital Radio, Virgin Radio and I have seen Classic FM mentioned too.

Maybe, because of a lack of images available, it was a story mentioned in passing by television. At least Simon Bates(ex colleague)and Nick Abbott gave Alan respect and played two pieces of music associated with him...a classical and rock choice. They may seem far apart from each other but in the days the great classical composers were writing music they were often treated as today's Rock Stars.

Born in Australia he came across to the UK in the late 1950's and whilst here he managed to secure employment around the time he was due to go back to Australia. He started with Radio Luxembourg which was based in London and programmes were sent out to the radio station, his popularity soon had him appearing on the BBC Light Programme.

He had been in poor health for some years especially with arthritis and had been in Brinsworth House where showbiz people stay who are in poor health or have fallen on Hard Times(some money from the annual Royal Variety show goes towards this home)

His nickname "Fluff" came from a big woolen jumper he used to wear and the way you those bobbly bits form on such clothes.

On the lighter side many may remember him doing commercials on television for Brentford Nylons.

In 1987 the Radio Academy paid tribute to his outstanding contribution to music radio.

There is much more to Alan than the above and I am sure that in coming weeks we will see and hear a number of tributes to him. A repeat of his contribution to the series on Radio 1 called Radio, Radio is a good choice if they decide to repeat previous material.

Thanks for the memories Alan...

Making The Grade

What a strange world television is in the UK.

Most, if not all my life so far, a certain family has dominated most of the entertainment business here.

Variety shows on stage, especially the early days of commercial television because they owned theatres, were agents and got in at the start of ITV. Its often forgotten that ITV for most of its history was made up of independent companies serving a particular area/region of the UK. That were sort of in competition and yet came to some kind of arrangement where they would often carry each other's programmes so becoming a national network but having opt outs where programmes suited to the local area were to be viewed.

As with all such highly lucrative businesses many battles ensued and I am sure lots of blood was spilled on the board room floor.

The Grade family consisted of many brothers and children. If anyone knows different I have to assume(I'll look myself and see if this correct and change it)but I suspect the name Grade was taken to avoid sounding too foreign as one of the most famous of this clan was called Lew Grade. Though another brother remained better known as Bernard Delfont who remained more in the world of theatre. Lord Lew as he later became(though he had some programmes and films that failed, they were few)knew how to get the famous performers/actors onto his programmes allowing the British public to see people not normally seen on this side of the Atlantic.

He was often clever enough to sell the programmes back to the USA which helped secure the talent because they series would be seen by a larger audience, commercially this allowed more advertising revenue around the productions and more money on offer to those appearing in the programmes.

Anyhow, somewhere down the line we have Sir Michael Grade who is a nephew of Lord Lew. I think his father was Leslie who ran a theatrical agency.

He has over the years allowing for a period where he worked in US television has always been associated with British television. He seems to have a knack for knowing what will work and deliver audiences. If a network is in trouble even some companies outside of television are struggling he always appears to turn things around.

I have lost track of how often he has moved between ITV and the BBC basically helping one become stronger than the other. And he had a period of time at Channel 4. He's just been trying to help the BBC through some very difficult times dealing with problems happening now and the future. Now, the news has broken that he's back off to ITV.

Where that puts the BBC who knows. Is it for the best or something that will harm public broadcasting?

Then again, ITV is no longer the company it once was, all those individual companies have become one, under the same umbrella and though they retain a local name in the regions, the same programmes air the length and breadth of the land and local opt outs are fewer. Its having to battle with more leisure pursuits and interests, new ways of receiving programmes, having to appeal to smaller audiences, a squeeze on advertising and many new stations are offering competition.

A new proposed law that will see advertisements seen as being harmful to children and teenagers showing what is considered "Junk" food will no longer be allowed on air until after 9pm which means some of the biggest revenue will no longer be coming into ITV as profit or to invest in new programmes. In recent months ITV even tried to stop broadcasting Children's television at all. Practically any religious programming has been halted and there is little if anything I could call cultural being offered.

They may come under the umbrella of ITV but after failing with its own network using a different form of broadcasting called Freeview and trying to win viewers away from Sky and the closure costing millions, they have had relaunch a network of new ITV channels but this time they have to arrange for them to be carried on a variety of platforms, some of which they do not own. It may seem good to have ITV1, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and ITV Play but in theory it probably would be better to invest in the programming and make one or two of these stronger in output so it is "Must see" television because if people watch these channels they are in theory diluting ITV's audience further and in competition with themselves. As they are trying to get viewers away from the competition but equally splitting its own audiences.

And with revenue suffering, ITV Play where viewers phone in to try and match their answers with hidden answers on a tower on screen or find a missing word in a grid and being charged 75p-£1 whether successful or whether you get put through to the programme this is really a way to try and get back some of that lost advertising revenue.

Its a compliment that Grade is seen as the answer and to turn things around but again, you also have to ask, what happens when Grade is longer around to step in? Is there no one better than him? He's still young, enthusiastic and lives and breathes television but is British television so desperate that he is the one and only?

How desperate is ITV? I understand they are thinking of launching yet another soap opera. How many more are the British public willing to accept, how many more can they watch? How much more time can a viewer commit?

This at a time when the Government and practically all charities and businesses to do with health are trying to get us out there exercising and doing less of the sitting at home in front of the television, games console or computer.

And even without the ban on advertising of certain products, who wants to show children's programmes any more, if children are more active so are not watching, if schools start to stay open longer before and after lessons etc...who will be watching?
Sir Michael Grade

I will be watching(sorry ;-) with interest...

Monday, November 27, 2006

LBC Listener Survey

Some visiting the soon defunct Radio 5 Station Board may've seen that I was approached by LBC to take part in a survey, I rarely do surveys but as I listen I thought why not....
The questions were easy and it took seconds to complete.

Examples of questions...

A list of presenters names, How often you listen in a day, how important radio is to you, a list of alternative stations you listen to...

The possibility that you could be chosen to attend a discussion group at LBC(travel costs paid for)the fact that I am in the North East of England, its not likely I'll get called up and only 12 people are invited(or is that vetted?)

Even less likely to be asked as the event takes place on Wednesday evening and to travel 200+ miles one way...hopefully the answers in the survey are enough.

However, the joy of having LBC available via DAB and Satellite across the country is lessened in the fact that changes to the line up are planned as the new year approaches(naturally it comes down to personal likes/dislikes)hence surveys and focus groups but some presenters are being kept on that I would let go, others are being promoted and some are leaving.

Happily Steve Allen, Nick Abbott and Anna Reaburn, the saviours of the station are staying.
Unfortunately, Paul Ross is getting a weekday afternoon slot(we know what we get with his brother already so that's a no no for me)James O'Brien reminds me of Stephen Nolan(BBC Radio 5/Radio Ulster)so he's a no go area. Every station has to have one.

Having a Sony Radio Award is not necessarily proof of a quality broadcaster. He has a style that I find difficult to like. He seems to enjoy ridiculing callers and though it may be done to get a reaction, I find that it just gets my back up. Hence my comparison with Nolan though the technique of Nolan is to shout and/or set callers against each other and O'Brien does it in a different way the result is much the same.

The best and calmest of the overnight presenters Marcus Churchill is leaving either by choice or otherwise.

Out of the remainder some are ok for dipping into but not must listen radio for me. Carol McGiffen and Nick Ferrari can hold a decent programme together though Nick's breakfast slot mixed with commercials and news and sport every 15 minutes with commercials does sound hurried.

I am hoping we have lost Iain Lee who thinks he is a comedian but I really wonder what he says over a three hour programme that is clever, witty or funny. Definitely an acquired taste. I think he is fine as a presenter and works better on television.

So why do I rate Allen, Abbott and Raeburn?

They are able to speak and engage their brains before opening their mouths. They can do serious as well as funny. There is intelligence there. Allen, though scathing is often making comments that are tongue in cheek. And has 30+ years broadcasting experience. Abbott is able to take a sideways look at the world without being snide or really horrible to callers but like Allen can manage to hold down a programme with or without listener contact. Raeburn, well she is about the only Agony Aunt(I hate that term as I know she does)that I rate as knowing what she is talking of and bothering to find out if she is unsure. Few if any come anywhere near this broadcaster.

To some extent the tweaking of the LBC schedule is probably because they are competing with TalkSport/BBC Radio 5's audience to some extent. And sometimes you change things to avoid being stale or where I think you try to be better than competitors, sometimes those in charge of a station feel that to emulate the competition is a better strategy which I question as then we get more of the same.

Because many in the business are now free lance it is amazing how many BBC/LBC presenters are interchangeable and are often on BBC6 Music when doing music and then speech on the London station. The connection between BBC/Commercial Radio is probably less noticeable around the UK but anyone in London might be confused or quite used to hearing the same voice coming at them from both the BBC and what is a rival broadcaster.

So having LBC as an alternative may be a little less enjoyable for the time being. Of course it could me who is out of step and I may discover that it does well in the Rajar figures over coming months.

Here's something else that I found in the press, apologies, I've forgotten where, The BBC is said to be leading the radio listening figures on analogue radio but commercial radio is leading the way with those who own a DAB radio. Is this because of the choice of broadcasters or the age range of those who have so far purchased a receiver? I have not seen anything about that aspect of the statistics.

Time will tell...

As for surveys...they must be like buses as I have not seen or been asked to fill one in for years or for an opinion and suddenly I had three attempts by the Country Council to answer one, this week another from the Borough Council asking the same questions as the County Council, why am I suddenly so popular?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Digital Age...

I purchased a Freeview box on Friday. Why? After all, I have satellite.

Well, one day I may decide to let it go(but then again as long as I am able to afford some of the services it offers)I hope that will not be the case. My hope is that the promised joint venture by the BBC and ITV will happen and they will launch Freesat offering all BBC and ITV channels that are free to air(and I am sure that other broadcasters will come on board if the satellite offers cheaper carriage of their services than Sky charge)some people may decide to take satellite if Murdoch is not behind the venture, a reason some people have avoided Sky from the start.

Freesat would offer more choice than Freeview can at present and possibly more than it ever will be able to.

Another reason for buying a Freeview box is that some channels are duplicated for free that are already on Sky's platform so if I lost Sky I would not lose all channels and more importantly its another way to get BBC Radio which I use my Sky box for an a lot. And this could be handy when two or three channels clash in the schedule either on television, radio or both.
The main reason is that analogue transmitters are being turned off across the UK in stages and the North East though one of the last, it will happen so I will need to put up a new aerial and use Freeview. And at £22 how could I be robbed?

However...here's how statistics play into Ofcom or Government hands and can give a false reading.

When you purchase a television receiver they ask for an address at the retailers for the television licence department no doubt. So they can match up an address in case heaven forbid you watch the tv without a licence.

So when I purchased the Freeview box at Argos I was asked for a postcode an address was matched and I was asked who the licence was in the name of. In hindsight, was this so Argos have my address on their data base for their sales promotions and to find out who shops there or...for the people who bring out figures of how popular digital tv is and how many homes have a Freeview box and have gone digital?

I may have one(and be an exception)but owning one if it remains unused, means nothing, just the intention that I may. And as the transmitters are being turned off what choice is there?
Would I have been asked this question if I had bought my Freeview box in Tesco's by the checkout operator? Or would they just know thanks to all the items purchased showing up from the loyalty card? If I purchased it without the store card would they ask?

I noticed thanks to an article in a newspaper that someone at Virgin Radio was mentioned that gives you an idea where radio is heading in the UK...is it because they are investing heavily in DAB? It coincides with an announcement of Ofcom(the regulatory body on Broadcasting in the UK)of looking at alternative ways of using the AM/FM frequency spectrum, in that this person says that he would like to see the AM signal of Virgin switched off by 2010.

I seem to remember suggesting this closure of AM/FM might be a possibility as DAB takes off and may also explain the rush in promoting DAB in the UK and why we jumped into a format that is less than perfect.

Update:Thanks to James Cridland of Virgin Radio for the following information below which gives an alternative but equally valid view.

"Fru Hazlitt (the CEO), actually wants to switch off our AM transmitters as soon as possible (mostly centred around the fact that it sounds crap).

In fact, our work at Virgin Radio appears to show that the level of decline of AM listening will be such that, by 2010, it will be more economical for us to switch our AM transmitters off than to keep them going. Hurray for that, I say.However, DAB isn't the future; it's just part of it. Virgin Radio is available on Sky, Freeview, DAB, cable, and the internet; and over 28% of our listening is on new platforms (compared to 12% of all radio listening). I frankly don't care how people listen to Virgin Radio: as long as they listen. But if people continue to leave AM in their droves, as they are doing, then we look forward to putting those 1920s transmitters out of their misery.

It's the public that decides these things."

James Cridland

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tis The Season To Be Jolly...

The first seven pictures here show the Christmas lights(there are more but they are the same)in the older part of the town perhaps they look better as it gets darker and my settings on these images were sharper and better...until they were posted but you get an idea.

Some move so, the pictures below sometimes appear to show one that has failed but they are all working...the green illuminations that have lots of little lights are the most effective in our centre.

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Then we come to the view you get of the new developement as you walk from the older part of town as seen in an earlier blog entry.

We have to go from left to right in a sense.

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The block featured in picture eight above contains an optician, the Lloyds TSB I mentioned down the side of this building is a solicitor, Argos and Job Centre. Though again as you can see a retail unit is still unoccupied.

But if you look in images nine, ten and eleven this is the side of Tesco's premises and you'll see that its all open and cosmetically it looks like a factory.

Even a brick wall to block this view would look much better. At least the building that has the other retailers looks tidier and the bricks make it look acceptable.

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The final image above is taken between the building that has the bank, Argos etc...and in the distance the front of Tesco's supermarket but you can see the same side has retail units that are still empty. I also did not have time to read the public notice in detail but get the opinion that Tesco's have applied for permission to erect more illuminated signs around the site. It can siad that the notice is there for all to see but its attached to a lampost in an area easy to miss.

You may also notice that thought the older part of the town has errected Christmas lights that the affluent and newer area still has no festive decoration whatsoever.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Well, the latest on the the town's rejuvenation came into my earshot earlier today and I think that this could be the most truthful gossip of what is likely to happen next.

There is a pet shop that took a short lease on a retail unit in a block that is to be pulled down when the next stage takes place. The owner of that business had been talking with another shop worker and it appears that this pet shop is to move into a spare unit in the twon which we know is not being brought down. Its the old unit as once used by the Post Office which has been vacant for years.

This person has been told that the unit that once held Sommerfield Supermarket is going to be taken over by...Wilkinson's. Now, I have no problem with Wilkinson's as I remember it when I used to pop into a branch in Darlington years ago but some months ago I popped into a branch in another neighbouring town, Bishop Auckland and I was disppointed and I thought, it will be a long time before I frequent that place again.

The problem we do have is that we have Pound Stretcher and Boyes which sell much the same items as Wilkinson's so its a duplicate business and all its going to do is take business from the other two stores. Not create new business. And we needed competition from a food outlet. Also, a new food outlet would help people who have mobility problems avoid a long trek to the new area of the town where Tesco's is based.

So if true, the town centre is still in big trouble. And the hope that ASDA was coming seems dashed. And how long before the new store opens? The latest is it will be two years away.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A New Range Of Sweets

I sometimes have difficulty deciding whether to give an insight into my personal life and views or to sometimes give you a link to a story because it surprises me or I find it interesting and leave it at that but if I did that, there are so many I would like to share and that's all I would do.
However, I did find the following article in today's Sunday Mail Newspaper unusual. Probably, only because I had never thought about sweets being a problem because certain ingredients are unacceptable for avrious reasons other than because of health concerns.

It can only be a matter of time that other manufacturers do not follow suit, I am surprised that the company concerned doesn't just change their range and make it available to all except its early days I suppose and you cannot change things overnight especially if doing so could actually mean a drop in your business.

Haribo have launched a Halal version of various sweets for Muslims. Ok, its obviously another section of the population to sell to but there must be market for them.

Apparently the range is already on sale at Asda supermarkets but I assume they will be available mainly in areas where there is a large community of Muslims or the range will be smaller in some areas otherwise they could stay on the shelves. Then again, if the changes are for the good, if they would switch to the new ingredients and sell to all, anyone could buy them.
The difference is that gelatin and alcohol based colourings and flavourings have been removed. It is said that the sweets taste almost the same as the originals but the change makes items softer and less rubbery.

Now, to me that sounds better all round.

The Halal Haribos for Muslim children

Haribo Website

Its For Charity...

What I am about to say may appear churlish and make me sound heartless, I hope not...I cannot say that I dislike charitable causes and of course I do give to many causes but there are only so many that you can give to.

And though they show for where the money is given on Children In Need and many are worthy causes I dislike the set up of this 7-8 hour marathon that the event has become. You could put all the turns into the space of a couple of hours at most. And little is actually shown of the causes, most is people filling in with idle chat whilst the next little piece is set up. It is padded out for too long. And I am sorry that I am unable to stay with it for hours and hours. I probably feel a little that way towards Comic Relief and Sports Aid too.

Again, those who appear are not unlike those who are said to be celebrities in the reality shows.
I did see a little, after all, what was being offered against this event? Very little. But it was summed up by an appearance of Jordan and husband Peter Andre, they performed a song and I'm too kind to comment further but after performing we were all told to "Get your hands in your pockets and give!"

But the follow up was that Jordan then having told us to give, let us know that their new CD is issued on November 27th and to buy it. How about the money that may be spent on that CD is given to a worthwhile cause instead?

Update - 2006 November 27th:I understand from something I read this evening that some or all of the money raised by this album is going to Children In Need according to someone writing on teletext which may make me a little less harsh towards both of them this time. Though when I saw an advertisement earlier I was thinking, why is this album more expensive than many being advertised and discounted, many are approx £8-£10 but this one is around the £12 area.

Back to the original entry...

Also, earlier in the week I heard them interviewed after they had attended an awards event where Michael Jackson received one and those attending felt that they had been possibly mis sold the fact that Jackson may sing and this would be his first live set in the UK for around 10 years and he only sung a couple of lines and had to be persuaded to do that.

Andre would not really complain but Jordan said that she was disappointed and continued to say that Jackson was out of tune but should've sung more and she broke out her own suggestion of "A Whole New World" perhaps it was just me, but it sounded out of tune.

Which brings us back to that clip that has been going around the net and some say is genuine and some say was a hoax of them singing that same song and her sounding terrible, all the musical accompaniment having been stripped away and the vocals not going through any software or engineering desk.

If I can I will dig out the link again. But hopefully its easy to find via a search engine...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Yippee!!! Our Town Centre Has Some New Christmas Lights...

The new part which has the latest shops and where most of what anyone needs is situated appear to have nothing whatsoever.

I don't deny that the world is getting warmer and that Man has nothing to do with the change but I still believe that what we are doing plays much less in the great scheme of things that our politicians and pressure groups are now promoting in the media daily...say it long enough and most people will believe what they are told. What's that saying about "give me a child before he's seven" or something like that.

That issue and global warming may be dealt with further at another time...then again...what about all the Christmas lights that are being fastened to people's homes as I write this? Or businesses that are closed overnight that insist on keeping all their lights on even when the business is closed? A relocated branch of my bank has opened near Tesco's because the old location is due for demolition and was in a bad state of repair. At night my memory suggests that its lights were switched off overnight but the new premises seems to be fully lit all through the night and being all glass so far it has no shutters that come down when business ends for the day.

How many more businesses could help the environment by switching off their lighting?
If threatened because of excessive use of power and should the prices increasing such businesses will be able to afford the increase because of their profits or charging customers more.

Anyhow, the main reason for this entry is that the extension of the new Tesco's is so far in advance that though it was due to open in March, I am told that it could be happening in the middle of December. And whilst I was expecting a whole new floor to appear on top of the premises it appears that they have reduced the space between floor to ceiling and put in another floor so outside the property looks the same. The new area seems to occupy only approx half the store and I get the impression that they are in the process of adding a kind of escalator to help you to reach the new floor.

Once built I do hope that something that has happened during the building can be corrected otherwise this extension comes with a disadvantage...the extra pillars that have been added to support the upper floor means that many of the aisles that you walk around with with your trolley are so narrow that you have to move around the pillars, sometimes get in queue with other shoppers waiting for others on the other side to move by so you can move again or if there are too many people, you have to wait for a few to move so you can get to the products on the shelves.

Why have Tesco's decided to change the property so soon after coming here? Many rumours abound...such as they did not realise how popular this branch would be(well, as practically all the food is only available from them)unless you order or motor out of town, that speaks for itself, the only other supermarket in town closed months ago and so far the retail outlet is still empty(though still there is talk that ASDA are interested and will move in as soon as possible)so again its said that Tesco's are trying to get this extension up and running whilst the competition is almost nil. Not forgetting that Christmas is only weeks away. Just listen to the tills ringing...
And finally, though this did not probably play a part in the extension of the store...the neighbouring town of Darlington has said via various public meetings and consultations "No!" to a development from Tesco's and the final meeting of the Council there on this matter is said to happen in the next few weeks but its not looking good for the proposal being accepted. So I guess Tesco shoppers from there will travel here. One problem that is going to remain a major headache is the car park and the entrance to/from the store, its layout does often mean that cars end up being held up, even blocking a major arterial road and a roundabout that is immediately outside the store. Even where their petrol station is positioned adds to the problem. I have seen some near misses.

Still, no sign of further moves on the demolition of the other parts of the town as promised and there are still five retail units without any takers.

For convenience I have to use the store(its only two or three streets away)I like some of the staff who are very kind and are willing to talk to me and have got to know me. Some are from other stores no longer open so I have known them years and yes, I have to admit to liking some of the products that are on sale.

But equally, if ASDA comes into town it will save the older part of the town, give me greater choice and is just as easy to access. And I have now been told that just as I sometimes order online I can also now order from Sainsbury's and ASDA.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The DAB debate continues...

It may seem unimportant as long as you can hear radio, Ofcom did state in an earlier article I read some weeks ago that listners are more concerned with content rather than the quality of sound(that is a paraphrase)and is it a big deal well perhaps when the standard is different to the system which appears to be being adopted across many parts of the world and as I said some time ago a system that may be seen as being poorer? In the sense that our choice and if too many radio's are sold in that format you could understand the public being left with a radio of a limited lifespan or having to change to another piece of kit.

The only people who lose out are those who have already bought DAB radios which I stated in other entries in my blog, because I also am one of many but I would continue with FM Radio(I always had good sound quality when using an aerial in the loft and had a hi fi seperate system whereas now I use a portable FM/AM Radio and to get a decent signal in stereo using the radio's own antenna is zero so I do where possible use the satellite system via Sky and the present DAB system in the UK is incompatible with more advanced version of digital radio as used here. I also stated ages ago that the current stations are broadcasting in a lower bitrate so claims of CD quality could be argued to be less than proved.

Even many DAB radio's here require a decent signal strength and clear path, possibly the use of an external aerial but then how many receivers have the connection to do this and how many people realise until it is too late.

There is a very good article in today's Guardian which I happily refer you to which echo's much of my views expressed over a long period of time and I give a link to here as was always planned

The BBC is shortchanging consumers on digital radio Jack Schofield

To read the article and many more as I have said before and also refered readers to the Guardian website many times on the BBC Messageboard for stories worth reading, you will have to sign up to the website but it is free...

Within this article Jack sites the following:

"Between 3m and 4m DAB radios have been sold here in the past decade, but that isn't a reason for selling another 20m of the same. In fact, smart consumers may want to wait until the dual-standard radios appear"

They are coming as I said earlier but if a broadcaster does not offer its programming in the new format, why would you buy one? And all the while more DAB radio's in the older continue to sell. Probably due to the lack of information to the public."

I paraphrase my reference with the intention of using as little of the article without changing its meaning, he has acess to some figures that he quotes but he is again basically saying what I have said previously and that the main reason could be that manufacturers having made so many radio's in the present format used within the UK plus the broadcasters having promoted their product so heavily have a lot of money tied up in this new venture.

Perhaps if the new radio's could pick up stations from further afield and offer more choice people would switch or wait for the new design. I understand that it sounds good and quality is constant but that the new system uses frequency spectrum from both AM and FM wavelengths or it could but this gives more space for stations to use and if AM is used in this way, the familiar fading of signals many remember of Radio Luxembourg's English service on 208metres or radio 5's problems at certain times of the year would be a thing of the past.

Dare I suggest that the real reason for the heavy promotion of DAB as used here could be to free up wavelengths so the Government can sell off the spectrum to other services for vast amounts of revenue which I believe is the main reason for the push for the British to accept digital television and allow the analogue system to be switched off.

Yes it would appear that I can suggest this as in this very fast and ever changing world of broadcasting, I say or think something and can say it months or years before even within hours and suddenly an article will appear in print or on a website and I no sooner say the above about AM/FM being used for other reasons and again the Guardian runs another story about possible plans that Ofcom are suggesting or putting out for discussion. Though I am sure that The Guardian is carrying this from a press release probably put out by Ofcom and available at their own website.

So to keep everything correct this new article can be found at the following links:

Ofcom Dials Up FM's Demise

And this at Ofcom's own website which you may like to compare with how the Guardian reports the same story...this link is available without registering.

Also, for all those environmentalists who go on about global warming, they tell you to switch off your television at night and not leave it on standby but for now DAB radio's use more battery power and if on mains more juice. And what about all the extra boxes people need to receive digital television to work with their televisions?

Broadcasters could broadcast better-than-DAB audio using its satellite feeds take a look at www.digitalradiotech.co.uk

This article also goes onto say:
"The BBC is held responsible by many in the industry because it is the BBC that has massive amounts of bandwidth available on its digital TV platforms, including 36.2Mbps on Freeview.

The BBC uses 256kbps just to transmit the audio with BBC1. But most of its its digital radio is around 128kbps(Radio 3 being the exception at 190kps)

The BBC is transmitting radio via satellite at between 128kbps and 190kbps"

Because of there being no information readily available as many DAB radio's display you would not know, but I know that I have seen those figures mentioned before in the press and on the net but for easiness using the article seems to make sense and a big discussion many, many months ago was held on a BBC messageboard about how good or bad DAB radio is and the bitrates used and comparison's were made with the choice and quality of radio when comparing say Sky's platform against Freeview so it is a fair bet the same can be said when comparing radio sound carried via satellite compared to DAB or Freeview and that I believe to be in the public domain. It was prompted by the fact that many people had purchased DAB and then found that BBC7 was in mono but available in stereo on Freeview and Sky. And since purchasing my DAB radio I discover that quite a few stations are in mono and at a low bitrate.

The article continues:

"Whereas in Germany ARD is using 320kbps for stereo radio and 448kbps for surround sound.

It's not DAB but the BBC and other broadcasters could use other digital platforms. Sticking with the BBC this could be done by devoting 1% of the BBC's available DTV bandwidth to radio instead of the current 0.7%.

According to Rajar's audience research published in August, more people listened to digital radio via the DTV platforms (38.9%) or the internet (22.8%) than had DAB sets (15.3%)"

But this information from Rajar was published in a variety of sources and I have talked of this before that satellite or Freeview is more popular still than DAB and we know that changes are being made that suggest many pc users listen via a streaming broadcast or by podcasting.

On the other hand allowing that the BBC have promoted the DAB revolution and helped invent if my memory serves me correctly, should all the criticism in this article be aimed at the BBC?

After all using my own area as an example We have Radio 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, BBC 6Music, 1 Xtra, BBC7 and The Asian Network and one or two local stations but to get their local stations onto a DAB network they have to work with what is a commercial company running the multi-plexes that transmit the signals and its because more of the commercial stations have come on board the system that so many are trying to use as much of the available spectrum and they are also broadcasting at a lower bitrate. So I will not necessarily hammer the BBC on this one.

Commercial radio stations are running big advertising campaigns and the Government has told the BBC to do a big promotion on the subject.

Now, as I have always said like many bloggers we learn much of what we see or hear from a variety of sources and where possible most of what we write is our own opinion but naturally we write from what we learn from a variety of sources and sometimes where possible I return to a story that is initially written later as due to being on dial up I am able to only do so much on one visit. Where possible I will always credit an article and give a link to the story so that a writer gets acknowledgement and hopefully be returned to many times.

But wait:I have not talked about how the sound quality may improve if/when the long delayed and promised Freesat(a co project)between ITV and the BBC and others no doubt launches as an alternative to Sky's platform which will offer mainly or totally free channels or a stand alone satellite radio delivered system for radio similar to the two systems that are popular in the States where you pay perhaps $10 per month and receive 100 radio stations in high quality sound with no commercials. This could happen in 2009/2010. The advantage of this system is that it can offer channels which are more exclusive and considered not commercially viable but widen the choice available. And that to me could be(if I could afford it)very appealing.

There are some newspapers involved in commercial radio and it might be a thought to ask if they should/could do more to inform the public about this advancement in broadcasting to other stop others purchasing a system that may be obsolete in time and avoid others taking the plunge to find more expense later or again have they invested so much into digital they have decided to go along with it. Maybe, they should have resisted going on to this DAB platform and said that they would use the newer system when it is launched. After all FM and AM has not as yet been silenced. Also, if Ofcom decide to licence new stations and allow FM/AM to continue after the consultation paper is issued and decisions have been made...it could still be around for another 25 years+ but the fact such a paper has been released and its being talked about, I think the intention is there that FM and AM may be a thing of the past for broadcasting entertainment to the public.

Is there any point to buying and radio with AM/FM any more and what about LW that's all but disappeared and even Short wave is having problems. Then again, not buying receivers with these wavelengths does play into the hands of those promoting DAB in this country.

Another News Service Launches...

Mags, one of my fellow bloggers and friends, posted something similar on her blog...I cannot really do better. (The only reason this entry is longer is because more has been said in the media since the launch)

I was there when AlJazeera's English service launched on Wednesday, Noon, November 15th 2006.

It was due to launch some time ago but technical problems delayed the event. I understand up until it came on air it was to be known as AJI(International)but at the last minute there was a change requested from those who help finance the service. So it is now to be known as AJE(E for English)

It is amazing how many British and American based, respected journalists have joined the new channel and we have to hope that the fact they have means that their faith in the service and they have been taken on by the new service shows a commitment to offering a fair and as is possible an unbiased view of world events. It probably has a harder job to achieve this because it will not want to be accused of following a Western line nor be accused of following a line that makes it appear against all things that the West does. The fact that these journalists wanted to join must mean that their possible fears have been laid to rest. Its bound to be different. Of course there are plenty of journalists from across the world that we will see.

For now and the foreseeable future cable and satellite will reduce how many in the UK will see it as its unlikely to be seen on Freeview. But it is available in Europe, the States and across the globe. It has bureaus and news centres in many places including Washington and London.

Presenters and reporters have been recruited from the BBC, Sky, ITN, CNN and others and most are well known faces and who have built a reputation over many, many years.
Roughly, we have via satellite 9 news based stations that we can view broadcasting from the States, UK, China and India I believe and now AlJazeera. I understand that another news service will launch soon from France backed by the French Government.

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I will watch with interest. The first programme from seasoned broadcaster Sir David Frost this weekend has an interview with Tony Blair the British Prime Minister. No doubt viewers and broadcasters across the globe will watch this interview with extra interest.

I have found a Russian news service in English. It appears to share airtime with a Jewellery selling channel but from what I can see from the electronic programme guide is on air from the afternoon onwards well into the evening. Even the channel number and title would initially give no inkling that it is carrying either of these services. I suppose when its established it will go into the selection of news broadcasters such as Sky, CNN, Fox News and BBC News24.

For now I have no idea whether its a commercial broadcaster or has some input from the Government as we used to hear Radio Moscow. I remember listening to some its output on shortwave many, many years ago.

I am not alone as another blogger who writes on media matters mentions this channel in one of the lastest entries...

See the following link Shrew Media

As reported in the Guardian today:

"The BBC World editor, Richard Porter, has said al-Jazeera's English-language channel will be a "serious competitor" to the BBC and CNN, although he questioned some of its early editorial decisions.

Mr Porter, who oversees the commercial 24-hour international news channel, said al-Jazeera English seemed to share similar values to BBC World, although he said its decision not to report on Downing Street briefings - as revealed by one of al-Jazeera correspondents in an interview yesterday - could not be right."

Is he correct? Possibly, but then again that's his opinion and Al-Jazeera never said that it was trying to copy or take the same view as the BBC or whoever and will do things differently. We have to decide if the editorial slant is from the owners of the station or the reporters are allowed to report things as they see them whether it pleases the station or not. But that should be true of any news gathering organisation in principle. And whether, they can remain detached. My very good friend Rupe has seen and taken images of many news events around the world, serious and not so serious. The image speaks for itself and is a captured moment in time. To some extent any report is only a snapshot. The written word can change the inference of what we are reading or seeing if it accompanies an image. And though, photographs can also be manipulated in Rupe's case I know that what I am seeing is as it was and I know that whether she agreed or disagreed with the situation what I am seeing is genuine and true. What we feel is left to us who are looking at what is being presented to us.

If any conflict comes into the equation it possibly would be at the editorial stage where the editor decides which image is used and which is unused.

"Where we appear to depart from Al-Jazeera is in our attitudes to reporting what happens in the west," he said.

"I think it's wrong not to challenge and test what people in power have said, but you can't dismiss it simply because they've said it.

That may also be true but how many stories on Western media go unchallenged. How many times do we let what we hear go over our heads without questioning what we've been told or read?

Trivial, I know but I heard a story about Free Range Eggs being sold as such but a Governement Department discovered that non free range eggs are being sold as being so...but further investigation suggests it is one distribution company caught out, it is not the whole egg industry. Later on, my Mum had heard a report on television news which either because the report was shorter or how it was reported, she had a different take on the story which probably was inaccurate and then you have to ask how many others were left with that opinion. Often because television news depends more on images and talking heads, radio is able do it better.

The same reports says that Mr Porter said the launch of the new channel had also made BBC World look again at its own performance.

"Competition is good in any market, and certainly since we've known the date of their launch, we've been looking at our own programme plans for this period to make sure we'll be looking our best," he said.

"We've also been asking ourselves some tough questions about our own agenda. For example, although we're proud of our British heritage, we don't aim to cover British news - unless it has some international significance or resonance."

Maybe he should offer a larger take on how the UK sees events around the world as well as delivering some of the output as straight and fact based. It would do no harm to say here is the news...and now here is a British take on what is happening. The only problem being that as so many different voices have an opinion these days, how can you say what is a majority opinion of the population? Isn't that one reason why some blogs have been set up? To get different opinions out there that are not being heard? You can argue whether they have an agenda or just say things as they see them.

"He added there had been some discussion as to whether BBC World should cover the state opening of parliament live, adding it had eventually been agreed to as it was "one of the more important set-piece events of the year" and had international significance because of the bills on terrorism and climate change."

Surely, if we want the world to see how the UK works and it is an event in British life, this should be carried and not questioned in the sense that it would be dropped. This is a case where we could explain and hopefully make the world more informed and understand us more. Isn't that the idea of news?

Some or all of the Guardian article is taken from a blog that Mr Porter has on the BBC Website

In amongst comments made by people who have read his blog, Thomas Hopston gives a list of British presenters who are now at AlJazeera...
* Sir David Frost
* Riz Khan (BBC, CNN)
* Felicity Barr (ITN)
* Stephen Cole (BBC) I can ammend Thomas' list in that Cole has worked for both CNN and Sky
* Jane Dutton (BBC, CNN)
* David Foster (Sky)
* Steff Gaulter (Sky)
* Shiulie Ghosh (ITN)
* Kimberly Halkett (GLOBAL TV)
* David Hawkins (CBS News)
* Darren Jordon (BBC)
* Dave Marash (ABC)
* Rageh Omaar (BBC)
* Veronica Pedrosa (BBC, CNN)
* Shahnaz Pakravan (BBC, ITN)
* Mark Seddon (Various)
* Barbara Serra (Sky)
* Lauren Taylor (ITN)

And I have seen some reporters I know from their previous work on tv and radio including Jackie Rowlands and John Cookson.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

We Will Remember Them...

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If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave once her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English

Rupert Brooke
I'm sure these thoughts hold true and represent similar feelings of soldiers across the United Kingdom and around the world.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remember The Problems A Fellow Blogger Had...

because he tried to change to the new beta version of Blogger...Whatever happened to Span?

Well, most of us have avoided changing. It appears that I have now been offered a new version that promises many features and the making of posting and editing entries and the template easier.

It does not appear to be a beta version. It is the real thing. However, because I have the trust and a little knowledge to help Rupe with her's(and help given to me by Gavin and Span)I'm still learning and help that I know that I will appreciate from our new colleague Ja using our blogs will become even more enjoyable.

So now the question is...is it safe and should I press the button that offers so much?

From what I have seen at Rupe's blog, as yet she has the version we have all used and the alternative is still a beta version so it would appear that Blogger is working its way through the individual blog accounts either by the legth of time we've blogged or alphabetically.

Its not necessarily so important that we post every day but at least we have a point of reference where we can get back in contact.

And that has to be a good thing!

Oh No It Isn't, Oh Yes It Is...

I'm not saying that all that is available on the World Wide Web can be trusted and that errors do not exist but generally it is possible to check out what is fact or fiction.

Therefore if you have access to the net, you can often find answer quickly to something that has puzzled for years or just "popped into your head"

I came across an advertiseent for a pantomime taking place in a town called Consett situated in the North East of England. Forgive me if I admit I have never really thought about it much or whether it has a thriving arts set up.

So when I saw that Cinderella is being staged at the Empire Theatre that surprised me especially when I then went on to read that the three main "Stars" in this production are Mike Sarne, Billie Davis and Alistair Divall.


Well, what do I know...though I class myself as pretty up on my knowledge of entertainment even I get caught out. I found myself saying these are in a pantomime and what a come down from their careers when they were at their peak. What have they been doing since then?

Its wrong to think this because many performers do keep working and manage to make a living.

Just because they are not on tv does not mean that they are no longer in the business or died.

But I think what set me off on the above thoughts was that Alistair's credit above his name is "From ITV's Keynotes"

That was one of those quiz shows that used to be on ITV around 9.30am weekdays following TV-am along with Lucky Ladders, Chain Letters, Crosswits, Win, Lose or Draw, Runway and others. But this goes back to 1991.

As far as I know I have never ever seen him on television since, well that was until maybe a month ago when I found him doing one of those satellite commercials. So to be living off a reputation of a quiz show few saw or probably remember, I thought how sad.

Well, of course we usually think of success in the terms of national exposure but often some have a great career and a reasonable living working in a particular region.

His biography says that he presented a four hour weekly talk show for LBC Radio, and hosted a live independent Radio road show to audiences of 1000 plus with on air links, phone-ins and competitions.

Alistair is also in great demand in the corporate market - having fronted videos for blue chip clients like, BT, British Airways, Microsoft, Vauxhall, Boots, Peugeot and Littlewoods. Hosting live events, road shows and pantomime appearances.

He has also presented Weekend plus, Anglia's weekly magazine programme.

What's on for HTV.

Of course this does not say how long ago we are talking of. However you can hire him and a site that arranges this is quoting a price range from £ 2000 - £4000.
Mike Sarne, I admit to knowing that he did some acting in the 1960's and for singing Come Outside a hit of the 60's with Wendy Richard. That's the end of my knowledge but again I discover that...he is described as a film director.

He has directed a number of films. Most notably Myra Breckinridge(1970)starring Raquel Welch, Rex Reed and Mae West. I have never seen it and yet seem to remember it was not a hit though talked about.

In the mid 1960s he introduced the ITV children's quiz series, Junior Criss Cross Quiz. That I certainly did not know.

Billie Davis is the pop star once known for songs such as Angel In The Morning and she has her own website and fanclub. Has been touring successfully and appearing with Jet Harris(an original member of The Shadows who backed Cliff Richard)and she is busy writing her autobiography.

So from such small things its amazing what you find yourself suddenly researching and discover about people you had forgotten.

And why shouldn't Consett have a pantomime, it will probably very good and after all if Billingham can have one...

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm Asking For Trouble...

but one story comes along and gets reported in the main TV and Radio channels and suddenly for a few days similar stories seem to crop up...

I was e-mailed a report from a local newspaper that suggested an idiot from the North East of the UK had attempted to light a firework on Bonfire Night from his bottom. The suggestion being(surprise, surprise)that he could have killed himself. There is no suggestion that he was mentally retarded in any way(Really?)so that can not be given as the reason. In fact the latest piece of information says that he was a 22 year old soldier recently returned from Iraq service.

Witnesses did not believe that he would go through with the prank, its been suggested that this was featured in a film from the States called Jackass.

It has seemingly done quite a lot of damage according to an emergency person called to the incident.

I discovered that the free newspaper Metro UK has a website and came across the following story...

There's not a lot you can say...

Metro Newspaper Story

Thursday, November 09, 2006

An Englishman's Home Is His Castle...

Well, I have gone on about it long enough and though I have respected the privacy of my neighbours the following images show what I now see from my bedroom and the dining room instead of what was originally a natural border(see some earlier images on my blog)and a long established tree.

You will remember that I have always said that it is only fair that people wish to stamp their character on the property that they move into and also it is their right to have things the way they wish but equally I have always believed in trying to fit within the area that we are located and take my neighbours into account.

I think that I am able to share these images because...it is the view that I now see and until I am able to add some shrubs with some height to change the view this could be seen for some time in the future. I cannot really grow things on the fence because...they put it up so technically it is their's.

The problem is...for a detached house, one with a lot of grounds and so on its probably perfectly fine. But these houses were not designed to have a conservatory added to them and not one as grand as this. The neighbour next door added one last year(I think)but it is smaller and more like an extension to the property.

This has glass all the way around so unless windows are open or air conditioning/electric fans are installed as Curmy has suggested its going to get pretty warm in there especially during the Summer months. I know that even the other smaller room the other way was very hot this year and the doors were open the whole day and well into the night.

They've also lost at least another third of the garden having built a patio that looks more like a town square so virtually all of the lawn is lost. And again in really hot weather the sunlight will reflect off this and create a lot of extra heat too.

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Mum has kind of accepted it because(in general we have always left our back garden tidy but also very nature like)with areas that birds and wildlife felt comfortable and safe. And since all these changes birds are fewer, the squirrels have disappeared, I haven't seen any frogs or toads so things are very different. Seeing the area has become very open she feels this has kind of given us back some privacy because we are not looking onto their garden but as it has windows all the way around unless they put some shades on the side facing our garden I am looking into it from my bedroom or dining room so I am not sure that they going to have total privacy.

Perhaps, it doesn't look too bad on the photographs and its more noticeable when seen in reality.

You know what? I think the conservatory may've been acceptable and looked better had it been situated more centrally and not put up against the fence, there is little if any room for anyone to get between it and the fence. Certainly, if the windows require washing(and today one of the neighbours was trying to get the stickers off the glass)she's quite slim and it was really difficult.

I'm led to believe that when a conservatory goes over a certain size planning permission has to be sought so maybe this is acceptable on both counts. I think that we have more to be unhappy about then when they complained and we had an official visit from the council because a few birds visited our garden(no more than any other in the area)previous neighbours have all kept it simple.

When a builder was erecting a wall in their front garden he said it would add value to our property, perhaps but with all the talk of increases in the Community charges and government departments about to get the right to enter all properties across the UK and take photographs etc...and all alterations being taken into account what they have done could result in us paying much more than before and that is something I can do without.

But for all the above we do talk and get on...I'd rather just regroup and camouflage the situation. I am sure it is possible to improve things and get close to how things were again.

Speaking of which...look at these lovely little trees...Italian Cypress as suggested by Dee in California...

And below what they can grow into very quickly...tempting isn't it?

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More DAB News...

The UK is likely to be left behind, because this country has a version of DAB based on a much less efficient MP2 codec. It could be obsolete as technology moves along. Without getting too technical it performs particularly badly at the lower bitrates and which almost all the UK's DAB radio stations use.

Countries, such as Australia, as I said earlier on my blog decided to adopt the new system before a WorldDAB Forum took place in South Korea. It doesn't stop there, other examples were given by me again earlier but some web radio broadcasting are also using the new system, even in the UK.

However, it is acknowledge by the industry that where DAB has achieved good sales figures the less than perfect system will be used for the foreseeable future and so from that I guess its fair to say that if information of the new system is not published anywhere people will continue to purchase the DAB receivers that are being sold in the shops and have already been manufactured and to ditch them would be at considerable cost, it would not surprise me if the industry would decide to reduce the prices to shift more stock.
The new system has been submitted to those who decide matters regarding broadcasting as a standard for broadcasting and compatible receivers and services are expected to be available in 2007.

The expectation is that manufacturers who serve the global market will produce radios that support both the UK and global standard and that might help get around the problem especially if the UK broadcasters decide to use the better system at some point in the future and could avoid the UK public having to throw out radio's already purchased as if the broadcasters switch over the radio would still be usable. Anyone with an older radio would have to decide whether to buy a new radio and it could mean that the DAB transmitters here would have to broadcast on both systems and make a decision whether at some point as with analogue television's switch over to digital to turn off the older system.

You could question whether Ofcom is the best organisation to watch over the technical side of broadcasting and should concentrate more on the content of what is broadcast and pass the technical side over to a more independent body that deals with transmitters etc...
Ofcom seems to be more concerned with advertising the second national digital multiplex plus several local multiplexes by the end of the year. And often seems to be quoted in the press mentioning the extra choice that DAB has brought the UK consumer.

I don't feel so bad in that my first DAB radio only cost around £39 and therefore I am not going to be too upset if I had to invest in a newer DAB radio offering both systems. It does not help that much of the information received in the UK comes from an organisation that is tied up with the broadcasters and those running the transmitters. So of course they will promote the system that has been adopted in the UK already because they have invested so much into it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Does Anyone Care About Awards Anymore?

Well, someone must if we are to believe the spin put out by Sir Trevor McDonald last evening during that terrible National Television Awards taking up two hours on the main ITV channel and would love to see the ratings for that. Surely it doesn't help ITV attempt to reverse it ill fortune.

Sir Trevor quoted that the awards were collected from the public filling in forms printed in the Sun Newspaper, Heat Magazine and a phone line or text number. So how many were counted? 1.8 Million. Now, considering that we have approx 60 Million people living in the UK that's not many. My arithmetic is not good but I figure it coming in at approx 2% of the population.

And of course its subjective because they don't say "Choose the programmes or artists that you wish" They choose a selection of four of five nominations so you have to pick one of them or not bother.

Naturally, I am going to say that Sir David Attenborough deserved his award but having people such as Nikki and the rest from Big Brother! No, I'm not even going to say that I object to populist culture being a winner but I have seen enough of BB to say that there is not one person that I like or would want to know and do they deserve their fame.

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And who on Earth are the people who attend this awards event each year, all you hear every time an excerpt from a television programme is played, a name is mentioned or everything that anyone says even of no value, you can hear screaming and hollaring for the whole two hours.

You can argue that the Academy Awards are no better and they too have too narrow a remit as a certain selection is chosen to be voted on but none of them seem to mean anything these days because they have these events at the drop of a hat.

And yet, I really think although even in the Oscars early days there would be arguments as to who deserved them, the actors of that time really did seem to be stars and few if any these days really deserve their fame.

I like to think that the genuinely talented still get through and rise to the top of the heap. And they become more special because they are so few.

Rant Over ;-)