Adverts

Friday, December 08, 2017

James Went To Sevilla

Back in September, I decided that I'd like another holiday before the end of the year - I wanted to sit and drink beer in the sunshine one final time before winter arrived.  So I stopped drinking for a few weeks (minus one or two very minor aberrations).

I didn't know where to go, or who to go with.  I did suggest to a couple of friends about the idea of going away, but none seemed even remotely keen but I'd also been thinking about going away by myself.  I was going to do the Swiss Alps trip by myself - I didn't expect my sister to be keen when I semi-drunkenly mentioned it last year.

I am quite comfortable on my own - I've had to learn to be so and it hasn't been easy in the past.  So I had been seriously considering the idea of going away by myself for a year or so, and I didn't put much effort into finding a companion once I'd asked a couple of people.

Why Sevilla?

When my colleagues asked me, I simply said that I wanted to look at Spanish women.


Google had made promises to me and I had to go look myself.

The first realistic week that I could afford was the first full week of November and I didn't expect many places in Europe would be warm and sunny at that point.  South of Spain was the one likely spot, and my parents had visited Sevilla earlier this year and were rather enamoured by it.

Whilst I begrudged the idea that I was not visiting a new country, it ticked my boxes - cheap, good food, pretty women, and some culture.

It was a frosty morning and I was getting one of the first tubes of the day.  I was still quite zombiefied (and a touch hungover from my dinner and drinks the day before) when arrived into the glory of Luton airport.

Though Luton airport was less shit than I expected, and I even managed to find an affordable pint of craft lager.  Airport beers are obligatory, even early on a Monday morning by yourself.

My Easyjet flight was surprisingly relaxing - I could have been on any airline, and nobody tried to sell me something every 10 minutes.  At least that I noticed.

My apartment was small - a fairly cheap airbnb affair.  My host was very friendly and helpful - thankfully he spoke more English than I did Spanish though I tried my Spanish "skills" when writing.  It had everything I wanted in one small, cosy apartment.  Not sure I would want to live in such an apartment, but it would be a perfect starter home for someone wanting to get onto the property ladder in Spain.  Or around £400,000 in London.

The first priority was to put my shorts on, get a beer and start reading my £0.01 book from Amazon, Adventures on the Wheels of Steel: The Rise of the Superstar DJs by Haslam, a book about the history of music scenes and in particular DJs, with the obligatory fawning chapter over the wonderful Jimmy Savile, and all the charity work he did.  At least he was apparently wonderful when the book was written a good 15 years or so ago.

I made it to some long open boulevard that my host had recommended me.  It wasn't the most salubrious of areas but at least the relatively low-lying sunshine was shining on me due to the open expanse.  My abiding memory was of lots of flies, which kind of suited reading about how revolutionary Jimmy Savile was as a DJ.  Shudder.

For the rest of the day, I wandered around aimlessly, had a couple more beers, bought the obligatory ham, cheese and baguette for the apartamento in case I became hungry.  In the evening I went out for food, again I took my host's recommendation and went to a tiny little side street tapas place - I had two unimpressive dishes and a beer for a very impressive €4.40.  Just over half the amount I had paid for a plate of broccoli the day before.  Seville is cheap - even when I mistakenly sat down in a tourist trap cafe, I only paid €3.50 for a large cerveza.


My meal was culinary disappointing enough to dissuade me from spending any more money - and I was trying to do the trip on just €120 of spending money (I failed but not by much).

At the end of the day I wasn't impressed with Seville.  Neither charmed nor interested - I'd drank cheap beer with flies and had fairly uninteresting but cheap food.  Oh and why did pretty much every dish come with fries?  Oh, and I had only fallen in love once.  Where were all the hot Spanish flamenco dancers on every street corner that Google Images promised?

I don't like failure so I needed a plan, and decided to book a tour of Seville for the next day.  Two tours, in fact - both free tours (albeit with a tip being socially acceptable - and deserved).


The first tour was a tour through the historic part of the city to see the monuments.  There were two tours, one Spanish and one English.  The Spanish one, of course, was headed by a super-hot senorita.  I decided English would be more appropriate - he did once live in Manchester and was astounded by newspaper headlines of incoming heatwaves...with temperatures of 20'C.


Seville in the summer reached 46'C this year.  I would probably die.  I was perfectly happy in temperatures of 22'C to 25'C - though the mornings were notably chilly, and as soon as the sun disappeared by around 6pm, it quickly got chilly again.  Even I needed a jacket in the evening.  Yes, I did get one or two strange looks for wearing shorts - either that or Spanish women were finding me surprisingly attractive - I am going for the former.

So the tour.  We went past churchy stuff, though thankfully being on holiday without my sister meant I didn't have to then later go in them.  We went past the city hall, which amusingly one side was not decorated on the outside as they had run out of money in whatever century it was build - and could either afford to finish decorating the building, or throw a party for whoever it was being built for.  They chose the party.  I do love the Spanish.


We went past the palace, Alcazar, though not an awful lot to see on the outside, we were regaled by stories from our guide.  And then onto the university - which used to be a tobacco factory.

Then finally onto a set of buildings that were built by other countries as gifts to Spain, in some form of Expo.  As you can see, I haven't remembered much of the historic details - but there was some stunning architecture, especially in the beautiful park to finish.

The tour was excellent - I really do not know why I don't do guided tours when I go abroad.  This will change.  Especially if they are free.

Time for a couple of beers in the sunshine, and back to my book.

By late afternoon I went on another tour, this time of the old gypsy district, which used to be a no-go area historically.  And also where Flamenco dancing was reputedly from.

This tour guide was also excellent - though he only had two of us to show around.  Some of it was a bit churchy and stuff, but some of it was fascinating about the history of Seville, and this particular district - especially in regards to the history of the Moors.  I won't attempt to reproduce it in print as it would only be #fakehistory.

In the evening I also had my best meal of the holiday.  I spent ages trying to research tapas places - nowhere convinced me until I found a place called Bodega Dos De Mayo.  When I arrived, fairly late, it was busy and there was nowhere to sit.  I did think about going elsewhere, but I ignored my stabs of impatience and solo social awkwardness and hung on the street corner (I didn't see any prostitutes in Seville, by the way) until a table came free.


I was thankful that I did - the pork loin (with fries, of course) was beautiful.  I then tried two new dishes.  Firstly I tried bull - it was very earthy and almost had a touch of liver about it.  Very nicely cooked though I will happily ignore it on future menu lists.  And then patatas sevillanos, which was a gorgeous dish of potatoes, spring onions, chives, some kind of sauce - and then a chunk of tuna oddly placed on top - as you do...the Spanish are bloody weird at times.




For the final day, I wanted to do something cultural, have some chorizo, some churros and some flamenco.  I didn't have much money left so that was a factor in my decision making - for when is it not?!

I started with a small plate of chorizo and fried eggs.  Quite why it was so hard to find chorizo in Seville, I never found out.  And I wasn't that impressed with my decision making - I could have made this back home in England.  What was I doing?


I tried to make up for this by finding some churros - my Spanish amiga raves about them - I think I have had them in England once, thought there were rubbish but assumed that was because I had bought them from Nando's or whatever chain hole it was.

All day I looked for them, but nada.  Then I remembered that the oldest bar in Seville was supposed to be the best place.  I went in and asked in my best Spanish.  He didn't understand me.  I typed "churros" on my phone and he barked back at me, "no".  OK...

But on the street corner near my house, there was a little takeaway stand.  The not so attractive Spanish lady serving me was very efficient.  Alas, the dreadful churros I had in England were far superior and I ended up throwing them away.  The chocolate they came with was particularly naff.  I blamed my decision making process again.


Churros are shit.  Do not be fooled by Spanish people telling you otherwise.

Thankfully, my decision making process was spot on for which cultural visit to undertake, for Alcazar was rather wondrous.


A sprawling palace with very large grounds, I found myself getting completely lost on a few occasions - once in a maze which I decided to enter, believing that it wasn't really a maze and then getting stuck.  The peacocks found their way out quite easily by going through the small gaps at the bottom.



It was a truly beautiful place and where the King & Queen of Spain stay now when they visit Sevilla. I could have spent hours in there but I fancied a beer so off I went to sit, read my book again, and watch the world go by.  Or watch Spanish women cycle by.

I ended up a little tipsy that night and decided to have a steak.  Not exactly especially Spanish but hey.  It was good but nothing I'd not had before - and by this point I was relying on my card to pay and of course it wouldn't.  I feared a stint of washing up but managed to find a working cash point at the third attempt.


That will have to do you.  I started writing this when I got back which was a month ago.  And have only just finished it now.

By the end of the visit I was properly enchanted by Seville.  I loved all the cute little roads and how close everything was - rarely did I walk down a road twice.  I liked the laid back atmosphere, yet there was still a vibrancy.  It did almost have a cool Californian feel to it in places, with lots of people cycling, skating and rowing - yes on the river there were loads of people in canoes and kayaks, every single time I went past.  Yet I only saw one gym.  I did see a few fat Spanish women.


It even has a music scene.


Alas, I didn't make it to a flamenco show.  I considered buying a flamenco dress apron for a giraffe, but as I live on my own and use water and soap to clean my hands instead of aprons, it would have been fairly pointless.  It was enough to amuse myself at the thought.

I know a flamenco dancer in the UK anyway - albeit she never invites me to her shows.  I may have popped the myth about Spanish women being exceptionally beautiful too - or maybe I just expected too much from all the beautiful women in Ibiza.

The food was good but not brilliant - it was gloriously cheap over there though.

Seville is definitely up there with my favourite cities that I have ever visited.  Not quite in the must-visit category with Berlin and Barcelona - but in the secondary category.

I did really, really like Seville.  And there were even a few people with mullets there.  Modern mullets - like mine.

Adios.  Next up for me on my travels is Madrid, in April, for my father's retirement.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Nearly Holiday Time

1 more working day and I have a whole week off work.

In fact, it isn't even a proper day of work tomorrow as the afternoon is an OKR session followed by some form of beer.

I do need a week off.  I've required a holiday for ages.  This will actually be the first full week off work since I started my job in April.  And the whole time that I was unemployed I was doing 5 or 6 day weeks of 9-5 studying/coding.

So effectively my first full week off since Ibiza 2016.  Which wasn't exactly restful.

I'm not exhausted, but my pzazz has gone, my physical and mental strength is lower than normal, I'm struggling even to write this blog post - the words are there somewhere but pulling them out of my brain is harder than...nope...too hard to create an analogy.

It just feels like my brain is on a lower wattage.  Not at all helped by the ridiculous amount of weight I have put on since March, which is often down to me eating too much when tired.

So I've got a whole 9 days without any work.

More importantly, I am going to Seville.  Just for 3 nights - it was all I could afford, though I was quite impressed with myself to save up that much.

Why Seville?  I like Spanish women.  Have I ever told you that?  I am pretty much going so I can look at hot Spanish women.  With the side-bonus of having a few cheap beers in the sunshine - 20'C and consistently clear blue skies are forecast which is just perfect for me.


A quick Google search leads me to understand that most women in Seville dress like this.  Albeit with it only being 20'C, I am sure they will all have massive coats, hats, gloves and scarves on.  My shorts are in the washing machine right now.

I'm quite interested to go on holiday by myself.  Maybe I'll get bored on my own - but I doubt it.  I do, however, like to share good experiences with others.  I am not especially good at introducing myself to random people, but maybe I will get talking to one or two random fat, ugly Spanish women.  Los elefantes son azules.

Not entirely sure what I'll do.  I rarely plan a holiday's contents until the day before.  Ideally I won't spend any more than £100 whilst over there, or €101.  A lot of walking, a lot of sight-seeing, a fair few beers which I believe are priced around €1.75 for a pint, and some tapas.

I guess I'll go watch some flamenco too.

Who knows.  I'm just looking forward to not really having a plan.  Not having to think about JavaScript.  Not having to get up for work.  Sunshine.  Beer.  Relaxing - well...

Bye!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

My First Spanish Letter: Consell De Ivissa

Last time I went to Ibiza, I saw that the Consell De Ivissa had a 'Refugees Welcome' banner outside.  I thought that I should write to them.  9 months later, I did.


******

Hola Ibiza

Mi nombre es James y yo amo tu isla.  Lo siento por mi Español malo.  Estoy apriendo.  Yo intento.

Lo siento acerca Brexit.  Y lo siento acerca estupido politicos hablamos acerca guerra entre Inglaterra y Español.

Yo penso Brexit sera muy malo.  Muy mierde.

Es posible necessito escapar.  Cuando yo visite Eivissa año pasado, yo vez un poster de "Refugees Welcome".  Esto incluye Ingles Brexit refugees como yo?  Si se convierte muy malo cuando (si?) salimos, necesito salido Brexitland - sere un refugee.

Puedo beuno por Eivissa.

Primero, amo tapas - yo cocino bueno.

Siguente, soy un DJ.  Pero todos un DJ - tu eres un DJ tambien?

Puedo ser un empresario y emplear unos Ibicenos.  No, no vendo drogas - hago sitios web.

Y yo soy un critico de cena de asado - el especialidad de gran Bretaña.  Ayudo los restaurants en la isla mejorar sus cenas de asado.

Finalmente, soy un pronóstico del tiempo - bastante famoso tambien.

Puedo perfecto por Eivissa, no?  Entonces en uno o dos años, cuando sere un refugee, puedo un refugee en Eivassa?

Por favor.

Adios

James Winfield

******

This was sent back in June.  I did not receive a response  I appreciate that Spanish people have long holidays so I followed up in September:

******

Hola Eivissa

No me recibi un repuesta.  No me amo?

El verano es terminado (esta terminado en Londres en Julio), espero oigo hasta pronto.

Saludos.

James

******

Still no response.  Fucking Brexit.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Complaint: Yoghurt Pots


Hi Sainsbury's

Long time no speak.  Well I did e-mail you some time ago but I never received a response.  I had to e-mail directly as the form wasn't working.

Though that was also a long time ago.  Depending on your definition of long.  And depending on your definition of time.

A long time ago, you changed your yoghurt pots.  I'm talking the excellent value 6x small yoghurt packs that retail for £1.10.

Gone was the strong and stable pot, in came the weak and wobbly pot.



It really is quite a flimsy design. 5 times now I have had yoghurt leakage on the way to work.  Thankfully I am wise enough to wrap the yoghurts in a plastic bag - however this does mean that I have now lost 5 bags for life with untimely yoghurt-based deaths.

This Monday was the worst spillage of all, though I'm sure you'll be fractionally contended to hear that it was in a Morrison's bag.  Don't judge me - I was unemployed for a while, I had to do some regretful things to get by.

And when one has yoghurt on the mind, one needs a yoghurt.  And without wanting to feed the rest of my office, I had to buy a single yoghurt from M&S.  89p that cost me.  WTF?  Gooseberry and elderflower though...hmmm M&S food.

Ooops, sorry.  Well no I'm not sorry.  Sort your damn cheap, flimsy yoghurt pots out before I set Theresa May onto you.

ps I still love you. x

******

Dear James

Thank you for getting in contact with us.

I’m disappointed that due to the new packaging of our yoghurts, this has resulted in a number of yoghurt fatalities. I can certainly understand your concern, especially as you didn’t experience these disasters before.

I’m sorry that this has happened, and that you then had to shop elsewhere. However, desperate times call for desperate measures when you’ve yoghurt on your mind.

I’ve logged your feedback regarding the packaging of the yoghurts, and let’s hope that in the near future the original packaging comes back to save the yoghurt lives.

I’ve sent you an evoucher cover the cost of the yoghurts. The value of the evoucher is £5 and the code is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. This is valid for 2 years, so there’s plenty of time to use it.

We appreciate the time you’ve taken to contact us and we look forward to seeing you online again soon.

Kind regards

Saturday, September 30, 2017

James Went To Some Exhibitions

It always tickles me when you speak to an immigrant and they reel off all the places they have visited; Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Tower Of London, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Imperial War Museum, Transport Museum...

You name it, they've done it.  You name it, I haven't.

It isn't because I don't want to go.  My to-do list is chocka with cultural activities, parks, museums, restaurants (and pubs) that I want to go to.  Unsurprisingly, I make it to the pubs - probably because it is easier to find someone to come with me, "do you want to go to the pub with me?" has more appeal than "do you want to come to an exhibition on photography of the Syrian civil war with me?".

I don't believe in regretting what I do, but I do believe in regretting not doing things, and there were 4 exhibitions that I really want to see, closing between 3rd September and 17th September.  My hand was forced.

On Bank Holiday Monday, I headed out to the Imperial War Museum.  The war in Syria has touched me more than any war in my lifetime, through the sheer wanted destruction of human lives, and the willingness of the international community to stand by and let it happen.  Special mention goes to Russia for actively encouraging the death machine of the murderous Assad.

The exhibition itself was of photography from 2013/14, showing the lives of ordinary people in the conflict.  It tried to focus on the human element and to be objective - some of the photography was stunning, yet emotionally devastating.  This was the most striking part of the whole exhibition for me.


Then there was a slide show of images from the refugee crisis - again highlighting the human catastrophe this was, and the desperation of those trying to flee to safety, and to a better life.

In a separate exhibition area, there was a small selection of artefacts, including this bullet-ridden road sign, and some disturbing memorabilia showing the relationship between Assad and Putin.  And a replica recreation of a barrel bomb - which I decided against photographing.



Then there was an 8 minute video, showing the history of the conflict, and also highlighting something that I was not aware of, that being of the great inequality prior to the uprising between those in Assad's circle, and those not.

It really is shocking to see how a stable and relatively prosperous country can be destroyed through civil war, all started from a few teenagers writing anti-Assad graffiti.

Once I had pondered what I had seen, it was time to go see something more cheerful.

Butterflies!

Every year I told myself that I would go see the butterfly exhibition at the Natural History Museum, finally I did it.  A relatively small price of £5.85 gained me entry on a hot day, to a hotter and very humid tent, full of tropical butterflies.

It was quite a bit smaller than I expected, and only took around 15 minutes from start to finish.

Not an awful lot I can say about it, plants and some butterflies.  Some exceptionally colourful ones - like this magnificent bright blue butterfly, or another almost luminous green butterfly.  One really large species too which looked more like a bird.


Actually quite a good photograph for my standards.

Not entirely sure it was value for money, but it wasn't far off.

Then on a Friday evening, I went to the robot exhibition at the Science Museum.  It cost £12.35 a ticket to go around a very over-heated section of the Science Museum.

It started with a baby, and went through clockwork machinations - none of which I was particularly interested in.

Then it went into a area showing more modern advances in robots (did you know the word 'robot' originates in Czech?), with a history of robots and the ideas around them in the 20th Century.


I was rather impressed to see the famous T2.


The exhibition discussed the ideas of robots looking like humans and how we interact with them.

Later on (not that much later as it wasn't the most time-consuming exhibition ever), we went through a more futuristic zone, with various robots that are used nowadays or very recently - many of which seemed to come from factory production lines.

I also found my girlfriend.


It was quite cool to wander through, but I wouldn't say it was worth paying for.  It was hot, it was very busy (despite ticketed timeslots) - some of the robots are going on permanent display anyway.  It wasn't as interactive as I thought it might be either.

Glad I went in terms of #FOMO but if you didn't go - you didn't miss out.

Finally, I wanted to go see Walala's colourful maze at the NOW Gallery in Greenwich.

I was going to go last Friday after work, bit of a mission to get there and then get home, but it was the last weekend that it was on.

I quickly checked their website at the end of the day, and realised that it was ticketed and sold out.  Oops.  Lesson learnt - if you want to do something, don't leave it until the last minute.

I did however console myself with a walk around the temporary installation of Villa Walala in Broadgate Square, at the back of Liverpool Street Station.


Next up?  Who knows.  I did want to go see the Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican, but it's £16 and I'm not that interested.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

BBC Election Complaint 2

Arguably a tad tenuous but hey.

******

Dear Sir/Madam

I note again that you have spent huge amounts of money covering what is now clearly a left-wing, socialist-promoting event, in Glastonbury.

This is completely against the BBC's charter to specifically be spending so much money and time on one long political event, designed to brainwash the young and middle classes into supporting what would be destructive socialism.

It is not only the coverage of his speech, but also the reporting of it, and the tweeting of his "ace" speech - looking at you Radio One.  Deleted, of course but not before the damage was done.

And now Glastonbury is a full-on left-wing, socialist political event, there should not be any coverage of it whatsoever.



Would you cover Jacob Rees-Mogg doing a speech at Creamfields?  No.  Would you cover George Osborne doing a speech at T In The Park?  No.  Would you cover Jeremy Hunt doing a speech at Secret Garden Party?  No.

It may be in the BBC's interest that the United Kingdom becomes Venezuela, as Corbyn's potential socialist dictatorship would likely require the full support of the BBC and the closing of all other forms of media - your competition, to be able to sustain such regressive policies.

And I expect that I will only receive another generic response - possibly generated by AI (that's not very socialist of you - Corbyn won't be happy).

However I live in hope that there may actually be someone in the BBC that understands the dangers of socialism and decides to take action to stop your constant promotion of socialism, such as the covering of Glastonbury.

Regards
An ex-viewer

******

Dear Mr Winfield

Thank you for getting in touch about our recent news reporting from the Glastonbury Festival.

We were naturally concerned to learn that you felt our coverage was biased or inappropriate, so we've reviewed our output and discussed audience concerns personally and at length with senior editorial personnel within BBC News.

To allow us to reply promptly, and to ensure we use our TV Licence fee resources as efficiently as possible, we’re sending this response to everyone. We’re sorry we can’t reply individually, but we hope this will address most of the points raised.

The key point to make is that the organisers of the Glastonbury Festival chose to invite the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as their guest speaker on the Pyramid Stage.

His appearance was not screened in the BBC Music at Glastonbury television programmes, but like other news outlets BBC News reported on his speech as it was a newsworthy event.

Some later BBC News bulletins included comments from Mr Corbyn's speech in relation to the Grenfell Tower fire. Here we also heard directly from the Prime Minister Theresa May, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid, as well as Council leaders and others thus ensuring a wide range of views were heard.

BBC News also comprehensively covered a wide range of other stories, including that day's Armed Forces Day by providing extensive coverage from the Liverpool event which the Prime Minister attended.

We appreciate that not everyone will agree with our choices on which stories to cover, and the prominence that we give to them. These decisions are made by our news editors, taking into consideration the editorial merit of the stories at hand, and we accept that not everyone will think that we are correct on each occasion. These decisions are always judgement calls rather than an exact science, but we appreciate the feedback that our viewers and listeners give us.

Many thanks once again for taking the time to get in touch. We do hope our reply here helps to clarify matters and thus allays any concerns you may have had.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

******

On balance, I do think a fair response by the BBC.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

BBC Election Complaint 1

The BBC often annoy me with the left-leaning political coverage, but they took it to new levels during the election campaign.

Looking back, I think I had an excellent point with this complaint.  Not so sure on the next one I'll post...

******

Dear Sir/Madam

I have just come back from my imaginary girlfriend's house, Margaret, where I was watching the debate.  I didn't really want to watch the debate, but she was watching it so I had no choice.


Immediately it was clear that a pro-Corbyn audience had been picked.  The BBC had clearly picked a majority who would whoop and cheer for Corbyn like no other candidate.

Not only that, but the interviewer seemed not to allow time for the audience to clap Amber Rudd, and also seemed to offer a disproportionate amount of responses to Corbyn to follow Nuttall's generally dreadful points.  Subtle - but I didn't miss it.

It is difficult enough for the Conservative Party to counter Labour's lies and disinformation without the BBC being on their side too - the supposedly neutral broadcaster.

I have often thought the BBC to be biased towards Labour, though this had seemed to lessen in the last few years.  But this was shocking.  An absolutely disgraceful abuse of broadcasting power.

I appreciate that the BBC might be upset about the idea of another Conservative government, but I expect you to at least make a little bit of effort into reducing bias.

Not only were the audience biased - but the parties themselves, with 5 being of socialist bent - 2 of which are not even national parties.

The whole debate was manufactured to disadvantage the Conservative Party.

Regards
James Winfield

******

Dear Mr Winfield

Many thanks for getting in touch about The BBC Election Debate 2017 broadcast live on BBC One from Cambridge on Wednesday 31st May.

We were naturally concerned to learn of your unhappiness in relation to the audience at the event, so we've discussed viewer concerns personally and at length with the programme's Editor and other senior editorial personnel within BBC News.

To allow us to reply promptly, and to ensure we use our TV Licence fee resources as efficiently as possible, we’re sending this response to everyone. We’re sorry we can’t reply individually, but we hope this will address most of the points raised.

To explain, the BBC commissioned polling company ComRes to recruit an audience reflecting the country demographically and politically.

The BBC Election Debate 2017 involved a discussion between seven different parties, and while some members of the audience were more vocal than others this does not mean its composition was not balanced.

The Conservative and Labour parties had the largest share of supporters in the room.

ComRes has published a fuller summary of its methodology here: www.comresglobal.com/comres-recruitment-for-the-bbc-tv-debate-31-may-2017/.

Many thanks once again for taking the time to get in touch. We do hope our reply here helps to clarify our approach and thus allays any concerns you may have had.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

No Booze Until No Belly

That's it.  I've had enough.

Until the last week or so, it seemed like every day I have either got drunk or been hungover.

Since March, I have put on nearly 12kg of weight.  I am the fattest that I have ever been.  I feel unhealthy, I am unfit, my productivity is lower than it should be - though I have had fuckloads of fun in recent months.

There is only one reason I put on weight, and that is alcohol.  If I have more than two beers, I crave shit food.  And then the next day, I crave shit food too.  Both days I will consume around 4,000 to 6,000 calories.

Alternatively, if I don't drink and don't have a hangover, then I consume between 1,500 and 2,000 calories.

Every detox month I have, I lose 3kg or so.  When I started writing this, I was 96.6kg.  I want to be 80kg.

There is only one solution if I want to be rid of my belly.  Give up booze. No booze until no belly.

There will be people out there who will just suggest moderation, or more exercise.  But I am not very good at moderating my alcohol intake - and there is zero chance of me doing two sit-ups on a hangover, no matter how good for me it might be.  Generally I am not a semi-committed person.  Either I am fully committed, or I am not committed - or something close to full/none.  There is no halfway.

And I'm not going to pretend that I'll do much in the way of exercise.  But I'll try and do some - it even got to the point recently where I barely did any walking, let alone anything strenuous.  I'd kind of like to do some kind of sport but I'm shit at most sports, don't like physical contact (of the sporting variety) and as per my usual issue, I struggle to find the time and motivation.

Alcohol or related expenditure (ie bacon sandwiches the day after) consumes a vast quantity of my spare money.  I am not rich.  I earn enough to have no problems, but almost all of my spare money goes on having fun, drinking, and eating out.

But I am finding an increasing need for spending elsewhere; I need new jeans as two pairs have recently developed a hole in their respective bum areas, I need a new winter coat as my old ones are tired and starting to fall apart.  I need a summer jacket and shorts, in the upcoming sales, ready for next summer.  I need some new pillows, as I stupidly left mine in Bracknell, and have been using my landlady's substandard pillows.

I want some new bits for the kitchen, I want a speaker system for outside, I want a fucking Dyson as this round blob thing of my landlady's is rubbish.  I want some lids for my technics...I want more vinyl!  And I need this sequin rucksack - it is me, isn't it?


I want/need a holiday.  I am actually going to book one as long as I can save up £200 this month - I am on a pretty strict budget.  As long as I don't go out and get drunk, I can afford it.  In fact, I want at least two more trips away this year.

I also want to spend more time coding, I want to enhance my skills so that I might either get a pay rise next year, or be able to get one or two paid projects.  I also want to get back into cooking properly - I rarely have the time or energy to cook properly in an evening now, yet I appreciate it so much when I do.  Likewise, I want to spend more time practising DJing - again thwarted by the depletion of my time and energy resources.

I'm sure I'll crack at some point.  I will probably allow myself a beer or two when I achieve some weight reduction goals.

And holidays are obviously exempt, from the moment I get through security at the airport.

See you later, beer.  Hello carrot juice.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Complaint: Badvocado

Written when I was unemployed...

******

"Oh not him again".

Yes I know, you thought that you wouldn't hear from me again now I'm unemployed (technically on gardening leave which means I do things like sorting out kitchen cupboards looking for out of date tins of pineapple), as I am now just a yellow sticker boy with an occasional foray into Iceland.  I shall still probably buy carrots from you.

But on my last weekly shop with you until I am redeemed from this life of loneliness (I have lots of friends, honest), I have disappointment to proffer.

Recently I have been wondering what it would be like to be a lesbian.  So for this week's food shopping, I decided against buying chicken for my salad and went full vegetarian (lunchtime vegetarian anyway).  Avocado was going to be my meat substitute.

Imagine my disappointment when I cut open one of my two avocados to find it was a badvocado.  Brown with a hint of green.  Yuckity yuck.

You can send me a voucher for the avocado if you wish but unfortunately it may be a while before I can use it online.  Hopefully someone will see the web developer talent in me before they see the complaint writing talent.

All the best.
James 'Lesbian' Winfield

******

Dear James

Thanks for blessing us with your presence.

I am sorry that your avocados have arrived in this condition and I hope that this has not made you give up on this newfound passion of yours.

I know how a badvocado can ruin a salad all too well, and I am thus passing this issue to our Kenton branch so they can work on improving the fresh produce sent out to you, so that your carrot purchases can continue.

I am issuing an evoucher, for £4 to cover the avocado plus a little extra as a gesture of goodwill. The voucher code is A4MG-6KQX-Q74V, and will be valid for 2 years, but I hope we see you well before then.

We appreciate the time you’ve taken to contact Sainsbury’s and hope the gardening leave does not go on too long.

Kind regards,

Duncan Graham | Sainsbury's Online

******

Random image of Spanish lesbians.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Londonniversary

Congratulations to me!

One year ago today, I loaded my boxes onto a van and said goodbye to Bracknell - and hello to London.

Yes, it is one year since I moved into my house in Harrow and started preparing for my new life as a web developer.  My new life living in London.

I remember that first week well - it was hot, which made moving and unpacking quite a sweaty affair.  I had an awesome pork belly lunch on the Friday at The Chapel in Marylebone, with Martin, and then walked around Regent's Park - enjoying my freedom.

Of course, it didn't all go to plan with losing my first job, but it definitely worked out well as now I am in a much better role, a real developer job, working in the centre of the excitement, and earning more money than in that role.

Even being unemployed was fine as I was living in London and got to stare at tube trains going past my house - oh the excitement.

Since moving, I have explored quite a bit; Harrow, Camden, Shoreditch, Dalston, Hammersmith, Putney, Wimbledon, Greenwich, London Bridge, Soho, Brixton, Peckham - probably many more areas too - some I knew already, some I barely touched.

 
There are about 100 things on my to-do list, from restaurants, bars, museums, parks - all kinds of unusual things too.  I will eventually get around to publishing my list - it's also on my to-do list.

Top of my priorities for the next few weeks are, butterflies, robots and art maze - all of which close soon.  If anyone wants to join me, you know where I am, though I'll be quite happy going on my tod.

As Samuel Johnson once said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life".

I don't see how I'll ever be bored here.

Definitely one of the best things that I have ever done with my life. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

James Went To Milan. And Tirano. And Zurich.

A couple of years ago, I decided to go on holiday wherever the random country generator told me to go.

It chose Somalia.  I decided to over-rule it given the high chance of kidnapping and/or death.  It then chose Switzerland.  A much lower chance of death.

Then I had the question of what to actually do.  Where in Switzerland to go.  I could just have taken cheap Ryanair flights to say, Bern.  Or perhaps a city break to Geneva or Zurich.  Or go see the large hadron collider.  Nowhere grabbed me and said 'get your cheapo ass here'.

Then I saw Michael Portillo on a train in Switzerland and the scenery was just astonishingly beautiful.  I was sold.  Eventually I ordered a brochure on Swiss train journeys and saw that the prices were astonishing - and not at all beautiful.  Except for the Bernina Express, which went between Tirano in Italy, and Chur in Switzerland.

I soon found out that if I booked a journey with Deutsche Bahn, there was a cap on prices if my journey finished in Germany, which made it much cheaper than booking through Swiss trains.

I was quite happy to do the holiday by myself, but quite a few people were interested. In the end it was myself, my sister and my sister's friend, Dave, a fellow Hullite - someone roughly as funny and weird as me.  I'd like to think he is my friend too now.

Milan had never been on my to-do list, and I have definitely 'done' enough of Italy over the years.  But given that we had to fly into Milan, it seemed irresponsible not to spend a bit of time there too.

Arriving into Milan, it was hot - the kind of temperatures of which I had already forgotten about, but thankfully not the exceptional 37'C of the week before.  There were even thunderstorms in the distance - ooh!


The train station itself was probably one of the grandest train stations I have ever visited.  If not the grandest.  Quite an architectural masterpiece - a truly stunning building - so much so that there was actually no graffiti on it - a crazy idea in an Italian city.  Though my sister said it reminded her of Hull train station.  Rightio.


There was no plan for Milan, but after a quick Google search, the top tourist destination was the Duomo - a very grand and impressive cathedral.  We joined various queues and eventually managed to work out how to get tickets to go both inside and on the roof terrace.  Then joined a couple more queues, found out our tickets were only for the terrace, so joined the queue to go up to the terrace, queued a bit more for the lift, queued a bit more to exit the lift and there we were.  On top of a cathedral.  It felt naughty.  If only I smoked weed.  Highlight 1 of the holiday.


We then made the rookie tourist mistake of buying a drink next to a tourist square in Italy - which cost more than my excellent pizza later in the night - the only meal of the holiday that I was especially impressed with.  And even then just an 8/10.

Later in the evening we found a fairly decent collection of canal-side bars - though I am sure you've seen European canal-side bars before so I won't go on.

Again there was no plan for the next day, until Dave suggested going to the 'Klimt Experience'.  Yeah, me neither.  Apparently Gustav Klimt was an Austrian artist in the late 19th and early 20th century.  I didn't have any better suggestions and was hoping to get the two indie kids with me to a techno parade on Saturday, so I agreed and hobbled along.


It was billed as an immersive experience.  A large room with Klimt's pictures projected around, moving at different speeds, replacing each other at different speeds, with booming (slightly headache-inducing and very obvious) classical music from the era.  His pictures seemed quite fucked up with patterns happening in random places - often completely nonsensical yet totally beautiful.  Oh, and he liked painting naked women.

Not only do I have a new favourite artist, but I have a new insight and understanding on the art world - art is something that I have rarely understood.  This touched me and was highlight number 2 of the holiday.  I was so impressed that when (if) I have some spare money, I am going to buy a print of his work.

Then it was time to step outside into the thundery-feeling atmosphere to go buy some drinks ready for our train journey into the mountains, and to the small town of Tirano.

Milan surprised me.  I didn't think I'd be so keen - I expected all up-market snobbery, I expected to feel completely out of place (not that I give a fuck) with people looking down at me for not wearing Armani socks.  The people were actually less 'stylish' than in London, far friendlier than Rome, there was a really good mix of culture, some history - and I grew to really like it in my 30 hours there.  Even if I was teased by distant thunderstorm clouds the whole time.  Though maybe all the Milanese were not in Milan - it was August.

So we headed out of Milan, thunderstorm clouds in the distance, on a 2.5 hour train journey to Tirano, where the Bernina Express would leave from the next day.

We started to get a taste of the scenery as we headed up into the mountains, with the train hugging the edge of Lake Como for quite some time.  It became a little less fun a few drinks in when we realised the toilet was out of order - there were two trains connected so it meant missions from one train to another when it stopped.


We arrived into Tirano to pouring rain.  And no thunder.  Our hotel was fairly basic - but had spectacular views of the mountains, and the toilet was probably made in Hull.  Again none of us had had time to research anything to do or anywhere to eat - then again there wasn't anything to do in Tirano.

We found a restaurant in a very cute looking area, and they clearly saw me coming - €20 I paid for one duck thigh and a handful of very small roast potatoes.  One was not amused.


Yes that was it.

I had pretty much run out of Euros so we called it a night, via a cocktail bar - a thankfully very good value cocktail bar.

The next morning, I had around 34 salami and cheese sandwiches from the buffet, and then we went for a walk up the river, to see what we could see - a gentle incline though not actually tackling any of the mountains themselves.

The scenery was just stunning.  It was a delight to be out in the countryside (the one thing I miss now I live in London), watching the river flow, seeing the clouds build.  Predictably there was a thunderstorm in Milan.



We stocked up on vodka for the Bernina Express, and sat down outside, watching the clouds roll in and the rain start.  Predictably the last place we drank at was the only place without a card machine - none of us had any Euros so I had a mad dash around to try to find a cash machine.

As we hauled our suitcases onto the Bernina Express, it began to pour down once more.

I love rain.  But rain was not the ideal weather for either being able to see out of our panoramic train windows, or to photograph the beauty.

The Bernina Express winds it way up the mountain on a single track with occasional passing points.  You often see the same scenery as it gradually makes its way up the mountain range, but as the height becomes greater, so does the spectacular nature of the scenery.

Doncaster to Hull this ain't.

Mountains, waterfalls, valleys, industrial works - trains for logs.  We went over bridges, viaducts and through many tunnels - it was quite the feat of engineering.


It was also notable as the train went further into Switzerland, that the housing became more typically Swiss.


Perhaps the last hour of the 4 hour journey became a bit samey, and I pined to see some sunshine - I actually saw some wet snow falling over the highest peak.  Just a few flakes - enough for a Facebook meltdown if it happened in the UK.

Once in Chur, we changed for the fast train to Zurich which was fairly unremarkable - as was the rest of the evening except for gawping at how expensive everything was in Zurich. Kind of like when I first moved from Hull to Reading.

I did have a nice piece of salmon, a good pint of Erdinger and a practice on the hotel corridor ice machine.


And then Saturday happened.  Given the prices at restaurants, we just bought exceptionally crap 'sausage rolls' from the coop (not co-op) and went for a nice walk around Zurich.

I never quite understood the point of Zurich.  It's nice, they have lots of fountains and fairly low-rise buildings.  Plenty of offices - not a huge amount of historical buildings.  It was very orderly and clean, I didn't have one person ask me for spare change - quite the opposite to Milan, and I don't recall seeing any signs of anyone being poor - no surprise given that Switzerland is known as being a rich place - a banker's paradise.

Given that my two travelling companions were not especially enamoured with techno music, being into bands and stuff, I was more hoping to persuade them to go to Zurich Street Parade than expecting.  Perhaps just for a couple of hours.

Whilst awaiting the start time, we plonked ourselves out the front of a bar (which also sold bicycles at up to £8,000 - wtf?), and did a bit of people watching.  And there was plenty to see.

Once start time was upon us, we headed down to the parade, and found the front of it.  It was a queue of 25 trucks, each with a big fat soundsystem on the back and around 1-200 dressed-up people on board.


Everyone else, around 900,000 people, just drunk and danced - all kinds of ages from 5 to 75, all kinds of people.  As soon as the music started on the first truck, it just went off.

We stayed roughly in the same position for much of the day, awaiting the various trucks - with occasional visits to the shops to stock up on alcohol.

There was more tech-house or techno than any other form of music, but hardcore, freestyle, drum'n'bass, minimal and house all featured.  My two favourite trucks were the Elrow truck with the giant rhino leading it - quite a cacophony of celebration as you would expect.  I also though the hardstyle truck was ace - absolutely mental - didn't like the music, but the mentalness was another level.  Neither music favourites - but for atmosphere and crazies.

This was a truly mental day out.  A great celebration of dance music.  I have lost interest in clubbing this year, partly due to unemployment, partly due to trying to be successful in my new job - and partly because it just takes so fucking long to recover.  But it was like being home - mentally.

Much vodka was consumed and I don't remember an awful lot about the end of it. Apparently we went to MacDonald's, I refused the chicken nuggets that my sister bought for me and bought my own instead.  I was apparently unable to walk exclusively on the pavement.  I do have vague memories of ice bowling in the corridor of the hotel.  And vague memories of taking refuge in a church, to use their toilet.

Sunday was just one of those waiting to come home days.  A £15 all-you-can-eat breakfast (not especially good), followed by a nice walk around the local industrial/commercial area, and a few beers in the sunshine whilst being attacked by wasps.

Arriving back and going into work on the Monday morning, I still had a really big smile on my face following just the supreme amount of fun that we had.  I really could have done with a nice relaxing holiday, but I wouldn't swap it for the world.

I absolutely loved being in the mountains, delighted to have discovered my new favourite artist, Gustav Klimt, and just had a ridiculous amount of fun at the street parade in Zurich.  And had just excellent company too.

There was only one thing left to do and that was to ask the random country generator for the next destination.

It picked Kuwait.

I rolled again.

It picked Dijbouti.

I rolled again.

It picked Fiji.

Hmmm.  Need to go back to the drawing board on this random selection idea.  But I really do need to book another holiday soon.  Maybe even an actual relaxing holiday.  I'll get my thinking cap on...and stop spending so much money on shite.

Very good, son.