Thursday, 29 August 2013


I read with interest today about the artist, Graham Hurd-Wood, who is painting a portrait of every resident in the city of St David's in Wales. The city is, in fairness, the smallest in the UK, with just over 1600 residents, but I think the idea is simply wonderful. Right up my street. He thinks the project will take him ten years if he manages a portrait every couple of days. Good luck, Graham!

I switched on the radio today to discover that the situation in Syria has worsened and that, yet again, without anyone in the UK actually wanting it, we seem to be on the eve of war. I'm not entirely sure why successive British Prime Ministers seem to want to flex their non-existent muscles in this manner. Do we really think we're that important on the world stage? Is waging war on a defenceless Muslim country all we have left to show everyone what the Brits used to be? We do so expecting no retaliation and label those who try to fight back as terrorists. Frankly, if we declare war on Syria, we only have ourselves to blame if they drop poison gas on us. 

The whole business of ignoring the wishes of the UN also makes me feel incredibly uneasy. If we are genuinely intent on ignoring all the suggestions made by China and Russia, then I worry that we're opening up a far more frightening potential diplomatic crisis. 

As Dianne Abbot said today, "we've seen this movie already. We know how it ends." And we do. Another 7/7...

Speaking of war, on my way to Penny's to finish off editing our 4 Colours films, I stopped off at the Tesco on Morning Lane in Hackney. What a mess that place is. There were far too few staff on duty and those that were seemed to be working at a snail's pace, chatting away, periodically drifting from their stations and causing even larger queues. It was one of those situations that immediately made me panic. I stood for a while in the queue for the self-service tills, but realised there were 73 people in front of me. 

The guy two along made a break for it and I followed him to the cigarette counter, which only had a queue of 12 people. Two women were behind the counter. One was gassing away to a mate, and the other one looked a little spaced-out, but I decided it was worth a punt. 

The space cadet immediately walked away from her till. I stopped her as she walked past me, "are you coming back?" "Yes" "it's just there's a huge queue" "I know..."

So I waited patiently in line, and she reemerged just as I got to the front of the queue after a ten minute wait. She took one look at my basket. "Only three items allowed" she said, whilst pointing at a sign over the head of her colleague which had been printed out hastily on paper and sellotaped over the cigarettes. Meanwhile it became immediately apparent that the other woman, the one underneath the sign, was serving someone who was definitely paying for more than three items. She was telling the customer that she oughtn't to, but would make a concession just this once...

"Thing is" I said to the space cadet serving me, "I've waited ten minutes in this queue, the sign isn't on this counter, and your colleague is serving someone with more than three items."

The space cadet shrugged

"Can I talk to your manager?" I said.

The space cadet told me I was being very rude and that she didn't respond to people who shouted. 

"I don't expect you to respond. I know you've made your mind up, so let me speak to the manager." She pulled a face and made a phone call and mumbled something."Wait there" I waited a while. She served someone else. I thought how odd it was that so many people could only need three items. "Did he say how long he'd be?"
I asked.  "No"

So I waited. Ten minutes. In the meantime the woman cleared off again. The phone started ringing, so I answered.

"Who is this!?" asked the man on the end of the phone, "I'm the customer waiting to see the manager," I said. "Why are you answering the phone?" "Because there's no one at the desk, and if you don't come soon I'm going to make a tannoy announcement on the microphone which has been left unsupervised and switched on!" "I'm in a meeting" said the duty manager, and hung up.

I looked at the tannoy microphone for some time, thinking that there's nothing worse than an empty threat. I picked it up, pressed the button and made an announcement to the store; 

"More staff needed in the Tesco store, more staff needed in the Tesco store, thank you." 

The announcement triggered much mirth and a round of applause from bemused customers in the queues.

At this point a security guy bumbled over and threw my basket on the floor, telling me I was no longer allowed to wait where I was. I asked why and he said something incredibly bizarre: "Would you answer someone else's phone at home?" he said. "I'm not sure why I'd need to," I said, "but if it was ringing and no-one else picked it up, I think it would be polite."

He told me to leave the store. I asked for his name. He was hiding his badge in his pocket. I took my phone out to make a note of his name. He said;

"If you take my photo I'll smash your phone." 

I pressed play on my recorder and asked him to repeat the threat. He did so. I handed him my basket, told him I'd run out of time, thanked him profusely for threatening me on tape, and left the store. 

Tesco have not heard the end of this!  


  1. Good luck with Tesco and thanks for brightening up my evening!