Odd old night

As a follow on from my Twitter post – last night was weird! After finally setting off at 1am I noticed a matrix sign warning of a closure of the M5 30 miles north. I rang the office and they didn’t know anything about it. Sure enough, when I got to Jnc 21 we were diverted off the M5 via Bristol. This is a crappy road, but half an hour later I was heading back out of Bristol towards Avonmouth when ‘low and behold’ blue flashing lights and a police road block.

We were turned around and told to head through the center of Bristol to the M32. I rang in and told them the latest. They then informed me that the northbound M5 had been shut because a car had gone into the central reservation barrier and on doing so a car pulled over to the hard shoulder, the driver of which decided to run across the motorway to render help. This appears to have been unfortunate as this person was hit by the traffic hence the closing of the motorway to pick up the bits of the said person.

I was turned around because of yet another accident, but worse still I had to negotiate getting through Bristol city center on a Saturday night when all the pubs and clubs were shutting. If it wasn’t bad enough driving through hoards of drunk revelers, having the name ‘Buttercup’ on the side of the cab didn’t help at all and was noticed by pretty much everyone.

On to the M32 heading up to the M4 and again I notice more blue flashing lights. Beyond them I can see a matrix sign lit up but it was too far away too read. Just as I got parallel to the cop car some idiot jumped off the central reservation barrier and nearly into my path!! The irony is that the matrix sign (when I reached it moments later) read “Caution, Pedestrians on the Carriageway”. No S**t!!

So an odd night and I’m now off to bed.

Published in: on 30 November, 2008 at 11:46  Comments (1)  
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‘Mummy, can I phone the pirates?’

This is an amazing story that ended in the BBC news journalist having proper conversations with the Somali Pirates. I have copied the article below – of you can read the original HERE

One of the biggest frustrations facing journalists is being unable to get through to people on the phone. But as Mary Harper discovered, contacting the Somali pirates on the Sirius Star turned out to be child’s play.


Sirius Star off the coast of Somalia (US Navy image via Getty Images)
The pirates on the Sirius Star put the phone down on the BBC


It was a cold, dark, wet and miserable Sunday afternoon. I was in my car, driving my 12-year-old daughter and her friend back from a birthday party. I was tired and fed up from being in the car.

“Mummy, mummy,” trilled a voice from the back. “I want to phone the pirates.”

My daughter had heard me repeatedly trying to get through to the Somali pirates on board the Sirius Star.

They usually picked up the phone but put it down again when I said I was from the BBC. My obsession with getting through to them had reached the point that I had even saved their number on my mobile phone.

“Mummy, mummy, please can I phone the pirates for you?”



By this time, with rain battering my windscreen and cars jamming the road, I was at the end of my tether.

“OK”, I said, tossing the phone into the back of the car.

“They are under P for pirates.”

Giggling with pirates

“Hello. Please can I talk to the pirates,” said my daughter in her obviously childish voice.

I could hear someone replying and a bizarre conversation ensued which eventually ended when my daughter collapsed in giggles.


Our last resource is the sea, and foreign trawlers are plundering our fish
Daybad, Somali priate


This was a breakthrough. Dialogue had been established.

The next day, I went to the crowded office in Bush House in London where the BBC Somali Service is based. I told them the story.

“Let’s try now,” said producer Said Musa, who, dare I say it, looks a bit like a pirate himself. He has a wild look about him with flashing eyes and a swashbuckling saunter.

He dialled the number. A pirate answered. “I’m sorry,” he barked in Somali, “the boss pirate is sleeping. He was very busy last night keeping watch for possible attackers, night time, you know, is the busiest time for us. Call back in two hours.”

Calm hostage

A pirate, who called himself Daybad, spoke in Somali, calmly and confidently. He said Somalis were left with no choice but to take to the high seas.




“We’ve had no government for 18 years. We have no life. Our last resource is the sea, and foreign trawlers are plundering our fish.”

The pirate said the crew was being treated well.

“They can move from place to place. They can sleep in their own beds, they even have their own keys. The only thing they’re missing is their freedom to leave the ship.”

Suddenly I heard a voice speaking English.

“Hello. This is the captain of the Sirius Star speaking.”

The captain, a Polish man called Marek Nishky, sounded surprisingly composed for a hostage.

He said he had no reason to complain, everybody was OK, and the pirates had allowed the crew to speak to their families.

As my questions became more challenging, he became more nervous. I could almost see the pirates standing around him. He said we would have to finish our conversation, and politely thanked me for my concern. The phone line went dead. But we had it, recordings of the pirate and the captain, and the interviews were broadcast all over the BBC.

Gun law

The Somali Service at Bush House is behind most of the stories you hear about Somalia on the BBC.

It consists of a tiny group of people, far away from home, from a country torn to shreds after nearly two decades without a functioning central government.

That means no proper hospitals, no schools and no safety. The gun means everything in Somalia.


Pirates on board the Ukrainian ship MV Faina, and its cargo of tanks and military hardware, off the Somali coast.
The Somali Service enjoyed a real scoop with our interviews but who knows if it would have happened if my daughter had not persisted and pressed P for Pirates


One member of the team showed me photos of the concrete bench outside his house where his mother used to sit to make tea. It was splattered with blood.

The house had been hit by a shell the day after his family left for the relative safety of the north. Neighbours had been killed.

Who knows whether the property was targeted because of its BBC connection.

Despite their concerns about what may be happening back at home, the people in the Somali Service are the most hilarious, irreverent bunch of people in the building.

They smoke like chimneys, and laugh uproariously at the most unsuitable jokes.

They tease me mercilessly. I was worth dozens of camels when I first arrived at the BBC as a fresh-faced young woman, they say, while now I may only be worth one or two camels, or maybe just a half.

The Somali Service enjoyed a real scoop with our interviews.

But who knows if it would have happened if my daughter had not persisted and pressed P for Pirates?



Published in: on 29 November, 2008 at 17:03  Comments (3)  
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This and other stuff

I just read an article on the BBC News site, here I’ll cut and paste it;200px-bbc_logo

Multi-million pound pay deals for the BBC’s biggest stars are “extremely unlikely” in the future, the controller of BBC One, Jay Hunt, has said. _45252646_jay_226

She told the Daily Telegraph she could not see herself agreeing to the sort of contracts that see Jonathan Ross earn a reported £6m per year.

“My reputation in this industry… is as one of the stingiest women in television,” she said.

You’re not kidding!! Have you seen the state of the BBC1 channel? it’s like something out of the dark ages. I’m not joking when I say that even ‘I’ could do a better job at BBC 1 than the crap the channel has turned into. Frankly, she should learn to spend the money on programming quality entertainment – not shoving every viable show on to the 6 million other BBC channels.

Other stuff;

The battle for the Taj is over.

Apparently it was Thanksgiving in the US over the last few days, I know it’s a big deal for thbart_vs_thanksgivingem but I still don’t get why it’s such a big thing to be honest – but what do I know. However, it seems several people lost their lives in the ensuing ‘Black Friday’ shopping rush – amazing!

Myfacebook_pic-copy1 Facebook is officially dead and for now I can’t see myself returning to it.

Twitter, I’m so not sure about this thing. It’s kind of weird. Yet it turned out to be one of the single most useful tools during the Mumbai thing – who would have thought!

Obviously we’re moving into crimble-treea more seasonal part of the year and I’m guessing that the pubs of this once great isle are gearing up for the whole thing. I haven’t actually had a ‘Chrichristmas-tree-inside-the-housestmas’ as such for several years due to work commitments. It would be nice to change that this year, but alas it is not to happen. I should get New Year off though. That said, I had my first Mince Pie of the year last night – alright, there were three, steaming hot and eaten with single cream.

I found myself staring into a bowel of Cheerios this morning, I think I have bridled my restlessness too much this past year. I need to sort a few things out and get on to complete any and all outstanding commitments and promises to friends and mates and get on to treading new ground.

Fenny seemds_amazon_laptop_web_188s to have returned from the dead, this is miraculous to say the very least. She is also sounding much better, but sadly her laptop is not in such a good way. Hope an image format will work wonders.

Had an inbox full of emails today. There were the usual Africans begging to allegedly give me millions because of some terrible banking issue with an ailing family member, advertising, a handful from friends, some trade stuff and the millionth email from PMI – but also someone calling herself Brittany who loved some profile of mine and thought I was hot – huh? then she must either be blind and/or grotesque!! 3 of the emails from friends were almost devoid of sense which would be fair enough if they’d sent them while drinking. Anyway as my brain wasn’t working after just getting up, I selected option ‘2’ and promptly deleted them. I’m sure that if they were important, they will write again – but please take your time, think and take a breath before doing so.

Last but not least, if I hear of any more stupid things done by our present government – i’ll take up politics.



Published in: on 29 November, 2008 at 15:42  Comments (3)  
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Just how many times?

Over the past year I have been approached by various recruiters for varying roles. Most recently I had a fibcompany ring me about a Fibre planning role based in one of six locations in Holland. The wage (in Euamsterdamro) was good and there were various good things about it – until I looked into Dutch tax. I emailed everything the guy asked for along with several questions regarding accommodation, travel and over course taxation. I heard nothing back, then a week and a half later he calls me again. He asks me various questions and I start wondering if he even read my email at all. I start asking him the same questions for which he hasphotohappybusinessman2-copy no answer other than they can pay me in any currency in any country – then just slipped in that the pay rate had dropped by 25%!!!

Needless to say, I will not be working for anyone who can change the rate so drastically in the space of two conversations and would not have told me had I not questioned them to death – this does not lead to a ‘trusty’ relationship.

The job I was grabbed for before this one was a Structuquality20cablingred Cabling Design/Implementation thing in Dubai – again the similar questions came up – travel, accommodation, medical and so on.  I named my price (within industry standards) and bearing in mind they want me to up-root myself and my life and move quarter of the way around the world for thdubai_sheikh_zayed_roadem, the following happened.

The lady immediately weighed all the basic benefits of flights accommodation etc against the wage I had quoted saying that there isn’t that much money around in Dubai anymore… Is it me or were the Oil prices recently the highest on record and isn’t it a fact that nearly ALL oil money passes through Dubai?! I think there was some untruths being spoken here.

I’m not after gold, heck I drive a bloody truck, I just want a recruiter to be straight with me for once!!

These are persistent common problems with recruiters and I’m frankly getting sick of it. That said, these days I thankful that most of these jobs offered are no longer attached to governments and their military.



Published in: on 26 November, 2008 at 13:11  Comments (1)  
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SG Atlantis star gets 140 stiches after attack

Jason Momoa who plays the character Ronon Dex in the award winning hit TV show Stags4-4ate Atlantis was attacked last week while in a West Hollywood Cafe.

A 21-year old man who allegedly attacked and injured the actor  was charged today with assault with a deadly weapon.

The L.A. County district attorney’s office said Venice resident Dominic Bando  argued with actor Jason Momoa on Nov. 15 at a cafe on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood.  Bando allegedly struck Momoa in the face with a pint beer glass, which shattered in the actor’s face, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Victoria Pasternack. Momoa needed 140 stitches during reconstructive surgery.

Bando is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 10, and was released on $30,000 bail. He already was on probation for a March conviction for carrying a loaded firearm, the D.A.’s office said. Momoa, who also appeared in three seasons of “Baywatch,”.

According to Joe Mallozzi’s blog, Joe had spoken to Jason yesterday and said he was in good spirits and doing well.


Published in: on 24 November, 2008 at 04:10  Comments (4)  
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11 – 11 – 11

pop1-copy1On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the guns fell silent over the fields of Europe in 1918.

This was the moment the Armistice came into being, having been signed by all sides only hours before.

The meaning of the word Armistice is ‘cease-fire’. It did not mean surrender or triumph and while it was called the war to end all wars, it was the reason for the Second World War.

Each generation that passes forgets the true horror of war, we feel as individuals and nations that under certain circumstances it is alright to wage such operations – until the cost has becomes too great to bear. This was the exact reason for the Armistice – the countries simply ran out of men and money to fight.

It’s so easy to pour scorn on modern conflicts and for the most part it is important to maintain an army, but the oldest book of warfare ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tsu is the most coherent guide294021252_87ea9ef968 to such activities and is largely ignored. As such we, as a global people, will continue to suffer the, pain, anguish, thirst and hatred for war. The aftermath of which is so often the hardest part – and so greatly forgotten about.

In the Commonwealth we symbolize the massive loss of life and whom those, for our freedom, they paid the greatest price with the enduring flower that grew relentlessly in the fields of Flanders – the Poppy.

It is at this time of year when we start wearing them to remember not just WW1 & 2 but all those conflicts before and since. Certainly since the end of WW2 more than 60,000 British servicemen and women have died in operations around the world, this obviously does not even start to cover the numbers of other nations.

If people ever travel to Fr**nce or Belgium you will find over 980 cemetery’s of war dead from WW1. These silent towns and cities of men can range from and few hundred to many tens of thousands and a visit to trenches will leave you in tears. But it is worth the visit.

Please, try to ‘feel’ today – and remember that at 11 am, we stop everything.



Published in: on 11 November, 2008 at 07:15  Comments (1)  
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By popular request – Run Clarkson Run

By popular request – Run Clarkson Run“, posted with vodpod

more about “




Published in: on 9 November, 2008 at 18:24  Leave a Comment  
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Now this is hilarious – Monks brawl in Jerusalem

more about “Now this is hilarious – Monks brawl i…“, posted with vodpod



Published in: on 9 November, 2008 at 17:17  Comments (3)  

This made me laugh

I’m not sure why I found this funny at all, maybe it was just the simplicity of the ending

more about “This made me laugh“, posted with vodpod




Published in: on 6 November, 2008 at 11:12  Leave a Comment  

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