Sunrise on a run

Sunrise on a run

Friday, September 30, 2005

My guide to Karaoke

Last night was the fourth time in my life I have indulged in Karaoke. I'm not the world's best singer, but I'm not the worst. I tend to save my bouts of singing for the car and for playtime with Isha. As my time in Philadelphia draws to a close, a few of us decided to use that as an excuse for an evening out. It was fun. My guide to Karaoke success follows.

Tip 1 Know whether you're a singer or a trier

Karaoke singers fall into two groups - those with fantastic singing voices, those who are prepared to try their best regardless. Make sure you know which category you come under and select your song accordingly.

Tip 2 Know your crowd

I chose to sing that Britpop classic, "Parklife" by Blur. It was a hit in 1994 and I have fond memories of my first term at University walking across our college quad (not as grand as quads in other colleges but a quad nonetheless) bellowing "Parklife" in a Mockney accent that Dick Van Dyke would have coveted. Alas, I'm not sure that anyone in the audience had heard of Blur let alone this timeless singalong classic.

Tip 3 Know your precarious balance between Squiffy and Slurry

Some people are natural born extroverts and will get up and sing/ dance/ perform at their first opportunities. Some people need a little squiffinss first. However, if you're too squiffy it's not going to be easy to navigate your way from your seat to the stage, let alone read the lyrics and ennunciate them the way your chosen songwriter intended. At the point when Karaoke has descended into all round singalong, the balance does not matter. At any other time of the evening, this balance is crucial.

Tip 4 Know the audience's precarious balance between Sq and Sl

A stone cold sober audience is a hard crowd to please. If you're too good, they'll hate you for singing so well, if you're bad they'll hate you for wasting their time. If they don't know the song, they'll hate you but they won't know why. If they know the song, they'll hate you because they wanted to sing it.

However, if the balance is tipped too far the other way, they'll be too drunk to listen.

You want them drunk enough to applaud anything and appreciate you whether you're a tryer or a singer.

Tip 5 Try it in a bar in a city in a country that you about to leave

It worked for me

Thursday, September 29, 2005

First Words?

Isha has always been something of a burbler (like her parents, Suze and the blither badger.). As a very little baby she would frequently lie in her crib and burble to Whoozit- usually a surprised sort of burble.

Now she can burble in full sentences. Sometimes her burbles almost sound like real sentences. To her soppy parents anyway.

One morning she was happily sitting with us on our bed when she came out with something that sounded like "Real, Wow, Man" - I think she's been watching too much Easy Rider.

The other evening, we were walking along the street when someone in front of us said to their friend: "how you doing?" Isha promptly replied: "how you doing?" It honestly sounded like this!

The other night she woke up and was burbling away to herself. I was semi-awake but trying to keep this from Isha as she seemed happy enough and I wanted her to go back to sleep rather than have an added reason for staying awake. The next thing I hear is Isha, with a questioning tone in her voice saying: "Mama?" as she kneels up in her crib. Even at 2.30am I had to respond.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Message for Chelsea Boy:

Please can you direct all Spurs-related abuse to badgerblither. At least I assume it was you who posted the anonymous comment :)

Sunday, September 11, 2005


We went to Philly Zoo today - a good zoo, well run and laid out and the right level of focus on conservation.

One of my favourite exhibits are the tortoises. They are unusual-looking creatures and for a moment I wondered where Berilia, Tubul, Great T'Phon, and Jerakeen were. I then realised that I wouldn't find them since Discworld is carried by a turtle and not a tortoise. However, other people seemed to be confused and insisted on calling them "Toidells".

TURTLES and TORTOISES are different. OK so they're both members of the same family and I accept that the word turtle is sometimes used to describe various members of that family but why can't people read the sign and call them by their correct name? I mean, no one was admiring the Zebras and saying "look at the horsies" and yet they're both members of the same family. Maybe they were calling them horsies.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Why isn't it a pair of Diapers?

While getting ready to take my daughter for a paddle in the pool, it crossed my mind that while we wear a pair of pants, babies wear a nappy (or a diaper). Why isn't it a pair of diapers or a pair of nappies? Come to think of it, why do we wear pants rather than a pant. Why is it pantaloons and not pantaloon?

Friday, August 26, 2005


Our Mogs are Spazzy. Yesterday I heard an almighty thud. What was it?

Tipper running into the patio doors! He'd seen a moth in the utility room and, not realising that there were panes of glass between him and the moth, made a running leap at it! No harm done, not even to his pride.

Friday, August 19, 2005

So I was saying

So I was saying that we were leaving Philly

Well we’re not now. Not for the time being anyway. We’re staying on for a while. We’ll definitely be here for September and possibly October.

So watch this space for more Philly/ US-related blither.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

In the words of Bob Dylan

Goodbye’s too good a word…

So today is our penultimate day in Philadelphia. We’ve spent four months here and we have enjoyed ourselves immensely. Last year I came here for long weekends spent sightseeing, visiting bars, spending a fortune in record stores, spending one crazy weekend watching The Darkness at TLA one night followed by a drive to New York to see Dream Theater the following night. It's all been v different living here with a small baby but we've met lots of people, I hope some of you stay in touch.

Unfortunately it’s time to return home to dear-old blighted Blighty. Time to start thinking about going back to work, sorting out the overgrown jungle behind our house, “childproofing” our house and our cats. Before I know it, it will be time to think about where to celebrate Christmas and how to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday. Still we've got a couple of concerts to look forward to - Bob Dylan and The Bravery, just need a willing granny to babysit.

…so I’ll just say fare-thee-well

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

S'art Innit

We recently went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Quite an impressive array of works including Picasso's "Musicians" (opposite), Van Gogh's Sunflowers, a smattering of Monet and a selection of Modern Art. Modern Art does not always impress me. The Lichentstein and Warhol works were interesting. There was something by a chap called Twombly (which I thought was the name of one of the Wombles) which looked like a small child had scribbled on some canvas and someone with a knowledge of Greek mythology had scrawled some words pertaining to various myths over the top.

A piece which we particularly liked, besides the Picasso shown to the right, was a sculpture - the name of the artist and the name of the work escape me. If I remember I'll edit this post. I liked the work so much I walked into it.

Next time I go to a musuem, remind me to make a note of the names of my favourite pieces. It's not very informative for me to say: "the painting by someone or other was good".

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Have I child-proofed my home?

I was at a mother and baby group recently and I mentioned how good my daughter was at moving albeit backwards. One of the other "moms" asked if I had child-proofed my home. I haven't and we do need to but it got me thinking whether child-proofing is really the best term.

If an item of clothing or footwear is waterproof that means that the garment is protected from the elements (well from water anyway). If you child-proof a home, does that mean the home's protected from children?

As I write this, my daughter has travelled a distance of 8 times her length. Everthing is still standing. Except her, but she can't stand yet.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Is it Ironic?


It's a common stereotype held among Brits that Americans don't understand irony. Alannis Morrisette's song "Ironic" doesn't really help them much. "Black Fly in your Chardonnay" - Ironic? just plain inconvenient, although it might improve the taste of those really oaky Chardonnays.

Two recent examples show it's not just a stereotype:

Example 1: Someone was admiring my accent (I get this all the time here) and saying "I love your accent, you could read the news."
My response: "I guess I've missed my vocation."
Their response: "It's not too late."

Example 2: I was out for dinner. Someone in the group asked if we minded them smoking - I said that was fine but they'd have to sit downwind. They moved!

Maybe it's the tone of voice and they didn't realise I was joking. Maybe in the first example they were being ironic and really they meant that I'd be an appallling newsreader as I'd bore everyone to sleep.

Check out the following link for further assistance: Maybe I'm the one that needs help from this link

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Here in cent[er/re] city Philly, people have a liking for small rat-like dogs. Some of them I can hardly believe are descended from wolves. Our Shitzsu, Alfie, would fit right in.

So, will you find these cute ickle mutts trotting along behind their owners? No, these fierce and wolverine beasts are to be found carried about in their owners' handbags - be-ribboned head peeking out of bag, tongue hanging out of mouth.

Maybe I'm being unfair, maybe having them in the handbag is for security purposes. After all, Fagin, in "Oliver Twist" did warn his boys to steer clear of the handbags containing yapping mutts (read it carefully, the warning's there, honest gov). If I was a pick pocket I'd steer clear of any bag that was likely to go "arf" if I tried to "alf-inch" it.

Why? I know it's a city and people live in apartments so space is at a premium but since when has Man's best friend been half wolf, half feather duster?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I say Tomato...

While here in the US I have noticed that the English spoken here is rather different to the Queen's English. And to mine too.

Some of the obvious differences: diaper/ nappy; stroller/ pushchair; nap/ kip.
Some less obvious idioms (or are they idia?) that have caught me out:

Today I was telling someone that Isha enjoys her greens. They said "she'll be shooting up soon". I was shocked, was this lady really saying that a prediliction for green veg means a propensity to indulge in recreational pharmaceuticals in later life? No, after a split second I realised she meant that my daughter would be growing taller.

Maybe that's nothing to do with a difference in language. Maybe that's me being blonde.

Isha thinks that Blueberries rock.
Although it looks like she's been attacking the wine cellar. Posted by Picasa
Let me bore (I mean entertain) you

Talking of which, Robbie Williams apparently lives near my folks. You should hear my Dad on the subject - although his music tastes are mostly stuck in the 50's - when men were men and beer was warm. Most of the villagers were most unimpressed at hearing that he'd moved in - Robbie, that is, not my Dad. As far as I know, most villagers get on v well with my Dad.

Anyway, this is meant to be an intro to my "blog". I started a website - but you will see that I am having uploading issues.

Wilkie Collins said something about people who keep diaries. I can't remember exactly what it was. Whatever it was, the same probably applies to people who keep blogs. I fear it means I have too much time on my hands that could be spent more profitably.

You be the judge.