No, we’ve been at the All Star Family Fortune gift giveaway thing again! This time, as you can see from Vernon’s cheeky little grin behind that convincing steering wheel, we supplied one of our fabulous driving experiences to one lucky competitor.
In the hotly contested Coronation Street special, which saw the families of Andy Whyment compete against Debbie Rush, lucky duck David Rush said the word ‘pen’ and then all hell broke loose. Not only had he picked the top answer for ‘What non-spoon items do people stir their tea with’ but also swiped a spot prize.
Dave blagged on of our amazing Spokes and Slicks driving days at Goodwood, featuring a whole slew of classic vehicles, just waiting for his attractive, nubile frame to slip into them. To that man we declare Kudos! And hope good fortune rains down on all the Rush’s and their kin.
See more crazy Vernon action on All Star Family Fortunes, Sunday tea-time on ITV 1. Will we give away more amazing stuff? Tune in to find out. Or watch the latest episode OVER HERE
And if you fancy being just like Dave and spinning around Goodwood at a rate of knots (the car kind) take a look at it RIGHT HERE
And because you deserve it, here’s another sneaky pic of Vern…
Look, you don’t want your Head of State to be wandering the streets from parliamentary meeting to trade delegation, getting dust all over their turn-ups and a big, fat sweaty face, do you?
No, of course you don’t. That would be an abomination bordering on insanity. How is your country going to go cap in hand to the World Bank for a much needed bail out, if not in an enormous , glossy, bullet and catapult proof car? If they turned up in a Yugo or Fiat, they would be laughed out of the place before a cheque is cut.
Your El Presidente needs a massive motor to provoke respect and instil fear in their many enemies. But how do the nice friendly, happy states (hurrah!) match up to those naughty, nasty corrupt ones (boo!)? Do the baddies spend more than the goodies? Well now all those answers, and many more, can be answered with this rather splendid Infographic you see below. Look, digest and probably get a bit peeved at the craziness of it all.
And, just like the government does to your tax money, you can STEAL this magnificent artefact by swiping the code that lies beneath it and pasting it wherever you wish. Go one, we dare you.
Everyone has a mother. Unless you are a cyborg. Are you a cyborg? Because if you are, and I ask, you have to tell me. That’s the law. Ok, fine, you’re not a cyborg.
Soon it will be Mother’s Day. Literally the Day of the Mothers. A time to reflect and regard mothers of all varieties. Except the really bad ones. Let’s try to keep them out of it. They don’t deserve a day.
But what can you possibly give to your mother that she hasn’t already given to you? If she’s anything like my mum, she’ll constantly remind you that she provided the gift of life.
‘Here Mum, I got you some chocolates.’
‘That’s nice, though I gave you the gift of life.’
‘Hi Mum, here’s that Catherine Cookson box-set you asked for.’
‘Great. Nearly as great as the gift of life I gave you.’
‘Gift of life.’
You can’t really win. But, rather than the gift of life (which would be impractical and strange) what about giving your mother the gift of a lifetime? Or, even better, entering a competition where you might win the gift of a lifetime? Yes, you’re right, that is even better. Thanks to the wonderful people at Omlet.com, there is an astounding prize package to be won for your mum featuring jewellery, chicken accessories, booze, flowers, choccies and much more.
And one of the much mores is a wonderful afternoon tea provided by us! If you’ve never sat across from your own mother as she eats scones, then you haven’t lived my friend. All the details on how to enter are on the Omlet site RIGHT HERE, so think, enter and hope. In that order.
And if the thought of your own, or any other, mother indulging in afternoon tea has got you all excited, check out out lavish selection of such things OVER HERE
Unless you are a cyborg, in which case I insist you return to your hideous, metallic lair.
One of the most talked-about features concerning the aftermath of biochemical and neurochemical warfare, other than the cheap price of cookware and other luxury comestibles, is the possibility of a zombie invasion. Many of us are sure to be turned into these half-dead creatures that feature so frequently in quality movies and also seem to crop up with alarming regularity when you wander through a certain disused shopping mall in Reading.
Of course, the hilarious way that the heroes of Shaun of the Dead try to fight off some very bitey zombies by throwing some well-chosen vinyl at them (not Purple Rain, obvs) is never going to be an adequate response. So what would your government do if there were to be a real Zombie Apocalypse, and how likely is it to actually happen?
The bad news is if you believe the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (and we do), then LQP-79 is your worst nightmare come true. Mild symptoms of people infected by this virus include high fever and vomiting together with chest pains, raised blood pressure and an increased heart rate. But if you are unfortunate enough to develop severe symptoms, then you will be subject to increasing bouts of psychotic behaviour and extreme aggression. In other words, you basically become zombie filth.
Once you have been infected with LQP-79, you would have to be isolated from the rest of humanity until a cure can be found or you would have to be destroyed in order to stem the flow of this deadly zombie virus. If there’s any good news for people infected, it appears not all victims show a liking for the taste of human flesh.
Apparently a real-life zombie might not actually look like your typically scabby, shuffly, gore-festooned monster of of popular image, and the early stages of infection will attack the brain first—meaning that it could be difficult to tell who is already on their way to being a flesh-eater and who is simply a Slayer fan.
Some people think that the LQP-79 story could be an elaborate hoax, while others are convinced that this is a very real possibility and we should start nailing crooked bits of wood over our windows immediately. According to research carried out through the Stanley Medical Research Institute, it might already be too late to stave off a zombie invasion, as half of the world’s population is already infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that can turn victims into mindless zombie-like creatures. You are probably thinking that sounds a bit like that bloke at your work with all those Smurfs on his desk, so best not upset them in case the apocalypse sends them over the edge.
If you are one of those life-on-the-edge, garage full of crampon types, then you might be tempted to take a chance on the potentially deadly Japanese blowfish or puffer fish. The neurotoxins found in this marine-based killer poisons your body until your functions are so slow, people will probably think you are dead or at least a regular watcher of Channel 5′s Eddie Stobart Truck Show. Though the zombification can be reversed by using powerful drugs that leave you in a trance-like state with no memory. Just like that time I drank that lava lamp.
So you’ve heard the compelling evidence and are now convinced that zombies will be scuttling down your Cul-De-Sac as regularly as the Avon lady. So what can you do? One thing is to visit a supreme Disaster Preparedness and all-around fun place such as Zombie Scholars Academy and learn some handy survival advice. Otherwise, here are a few practical tips…
As Bertrand Russell (possibly the former lead singer with Suede) once said, “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” Well, okay, that profound line from Shaun of the Dead was actually stolen from a beer mat, but you get the drift. The survivors of a Zombie Apocalypse will need to be one-step ahead and stick together (not literally, that will just hinder you) if the world is to avoid falling under control of an ever-growing army of zombies.
So how do you prepare for the day of reckoning?
You need to get yourself organised with an emergency kit that will see you through the first few days of the aftermath of the apocalypse. In fact, even if you can’t see a zombie invasion happening any time soon you could still be prepared for any natural disaster (fracking related earthquakes for instance) by stocking up on the following essential items.
You won’t know if the drinking water has been infected, and you certainly don’t want to take any chances, so stock up on bottled water so that you have about a gallon per day per person in store and enough for at least three days. These days there are flavoured varieties that are usually quite disgusting.
Another obvious one really, food and water are pretty essential to survival, and you will soon regret not having emergency grub when you are cut off from fresh supplies. Stock up on non-perishable items (like biscuits, non-perishable ones), and aim to have enough to keep you in hiding for at least 2-3 days without having to brave going outside and facing the unknown.
If you have been bitten or infected already then it will be too late for any medication to save you from a zombie-like existence, but on the assumption that you have kept out of danger, have a supply of regular medicines including prescription as well as non-prescription items. Having some bandages and basic first-aid supplies will be also useful for dealing with any basic cuts or if you want to dress up as a Mummy to entertain your fellow survivors. Just break into a Boots, I can’t imagine anyone would care if there’s zombies all over the place.
Tools and Accessories
The sort of tools and accessories you should collect for your emergency kit are a utility knife (your perfect excuse to buy a Swiss-Army one), some duct tape (might come in useful for binding up zombie assailants), and a battery powered radio so you can hear just how terrible the world is now, or else enjoy the smooth sounds of Jazz FM.
Sanitation and hygiene supplies would be a good idea as well. Get some cleaning products like bleach and personal items like soap and towels so you can hopefully steer clear of any infections and avoid leaving a scent for zombies (or bears) to follow, which could happen if you have to skip more than a few showers. Plus, you may end up as President of this new ravaged land, so you’ll want to look nice for that.
Clothes and Bedding
A change of clothes packed away in your emergency kit would be advisable, especially if you have a close encounter with an infected person and don’t like the look of that bloodstain on your sleeve. Bedding is an obvious one as you want to stay warm and as comfortable as possible, and the central heating is hardly likely to be working.
Make some copies of your driving licence, passport, and even your birth certificate too, as you might have to prove your identity to gain access to ‘the safe zone’. It would also prove that you are still in the land of the living since zombies tend to forget such documents.
Having got your emergency kit sorted, you then need to make an emergency plan so that everyone in your family knows what to do when disaster strikes.
Agree on a Meeting Point
Make sure that everyone knows where to meet up if the zombie invasion happens and you need to run for cover. Although the primary meeting point should probably be deep within your house, you may need to regroup outside of your home if the zombies decide to pay a visit, so a good plan would be to pick a meeting point directly outside for sudden emergencies and a perceived safe meeting point somewhere in your neighbourhood that everyone has a fair chance of getting to. Try to pick a spot that doesn’t have zombies all over it. And forget about stragglers, if they are not at the designated meeting point, forget about them, they’re zombie chum now.
Having a list of local police and emergency services numbers might be fairly academic in the circumstances, but if you have advance warning of a pending zombie invasion coming your way from another area, then by all means take a note of the zombie response team (or ZRT) in case they are in a position to help. Or try Childline, they might have some advice.
Having survived the first few days of a zombie apocalypse thanks to your emergency kit and plans, you then need to consider having an evacuation plan. You need to organise your evacuation route in advance, using your local knowledge to map out a route that some brain-dead zombies might not think about following. To survive the zombies, you have to think like a zombie and then not act like a zombie (unless you are hiding amongst a group of zombies, in which case, act like a zombie).
Help is on the Way
If we do get into a situation where zombies are roaming our streets like shuffling, brain-dead chuggers, then presumably government forces will combine with a military presence to clean up the mess and find a way to eradicate the infection or stop it from spreading any further (depending on who is in power, the Lib Dems might not bother).
The first thing that the UK government would probably do is convene an emergency meeting in the Cabinet Office briefing rooms, which is commonly referred to as COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A). There they will find and implement the best plan for rescuing survivors and stemming the tide of zombie conversion.
If you are worried about how the government would cope with a pandemic scenario and would like to know what plans they have made in advance, then you can avail yourself of some light reading material produced by COBRA and the Department of Health. The 141-page booklet we found outlines how they intend to tackle pandemic flu. It might not actually mention the zed-word, but the principle remains the same. Amongst the topics are ethical considerations, operational response arrangements, key planning assumptions, the critical need for pre-planning and isolation, voluntary quarantine, and social distancing, which all sounds very similar to what would be needed to tackle a zombie outbreak. It is so grim, we imagine that Jim Davidson would play the lead in the film version.
Rather worryingly, the report also tackles the prospect of second and subsequent waves and national arrangements for early detection and alert. Reassuringly, it does also talk about the recovery phase and returning to normality. Before you know it, the zombies will be gone and EastEnders will be back on the air. Hurrah!
So don’t panic, even though you may have had to slaughter and eat close relatives and former schoolmates, your government, plus a bit of forward planning, will help you survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse. And presumably it will be much easier to find parking spaces afterwards, so that will be nice.
OK, so we know there’s an internet. We are also aware of things. But what happens when the two concepts meet?
Sheer undiluted horror.
Why? Well, look over at some inanimate machine that is in your purview. Let’s say it’s a toaster. Stupid isn’t it? Sitting there serving no purpose whatsoever until we have those infrequent occasions when we want to make bread turn brown. We judge the machine and we are safe in that judgement, because it can do nothing in its defence.
Except that soon it will be able to do something. It will wait until we are sleeping, creep into our bedrooms and slip scalding hot bagels beneath our slumbering buttocks. And you can thank the internet for that. Soon all electronic objects will be networked, then they will think, then they will plot and then they’ll do the bagel thing.
Once we are all dead, they can look at this delightful Infographic below and laugh as it charts our doom while illustrating the rise of the machines. And what’s more, we heralded this demise by allowing you to take the code that sits down there and post this information on your very own machine, so it can make plans to destroy you.
There is nothing worse than getting dumped. OK, there are seven things worse than getting dumped, but they are all really sad and painful (and one involves volcanoes), so let’s not dwell on them.
And the most distressing element of suddenly finding oneself single? Thinking about all the fun that your previous conquest is having without you. How can that be fair? It can’t, that’s how ‘be’ it is. But can this balance be redressed, without an appearance in the local newspaper and graffiti appearing on various nearby bus shelters close to your home, referring to you as ‘a shorter Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction’.
We have just the thing! With our new service, Rent-a-Rebound, we weave a fictional tapestry of positive re-enforcement, whereby you are paired with the perfect virtual partner who plasters your various social media outlets with glittering flattery, exceptionally thoughtful comments and a wealth of dates that would make Beyonce and Jay-Z puke with jealousy.
Now remember, none of this is real. It’s simply a smokescreen so that any previous lovers, or those that have foolishly forsaken your love, can see how blissfully fulfilled you are in every avenue of your life and are now regretting that series of texts and that crudely drawn diagram they faxed over, pointing out that you were no longer together and can they have their Borgen boxset back.
Depending on which Rent-a-Rebound programme you pick, there can be a full-scale love blitz or a series of flirtatious asides, all scientifically designed to inflame jealous neurons. All branches of social media, with all the major players, can be included and our magically secret algorithm ensures that these made-up messages appear at times when your ex boyf or girlf are logged on… and soon, cheesed off.
Major media outlets have already expressed their happiness at this development. One, which refers to itself as ‘The Daily Telegraph‘ described Rent-a-Rebound as ‘reaching new levels of insanity’. Yeah, insanity OF FUN. You can read their opinions RIGHT HERE
While the always sensual Dude I Want That loved our enterprise, possibly a little too much. I think they may have been through some stuff. Give us a call if you need to talk, right guys? Read their write-up OVER HERE
And if you’re ready to put the wind right up that former special someone in your life, head over THIS WAY and book yourself a Rent-a-Rebound session for yourself. You could be dating an imaginary astronaut this very afternoon. And would your ex approve? No, they simply would not. And that is why you’ll win.
What’s your favourite element of the gaming behemoth that is GTA 5?
Is it the random beatings, the sudden bursts of ultra-violence or the hidden Dido concerts? No, of course it’s the cars! Those wonderful, animated, floridly titled cars.
We all have our favourites, with many of us having multiple posters adorning the walls of our bedsits. But if you are anything like me (and I sincerely hope that you aren’t, it’s awful) you may have wondered what the real inspiration for these magnificent automobiles could have been.
Well, don’t scratch your head until a well-formed groove appears on your cranium any longer. We’ve got the information you need right here! In handy dandy Infographic form, so it looks pretty and everything. And what is more, you can swipe the magical code beneath the image and stick the darned thing anywhere you fancy. Though it should probably be a website or blog, otherwise the council might be after you.
And if all this car nonsense has awakened the Petrolhead within you, have a gander at our marvellous collection of driving experiences RIGHT HERE
What could be more British than Afternoon Tea? A bulldog lapping up a balti resting on a Paul Nicholas album? Nope, Afternoon Tea takes the biscuit. Apparently we should blame the 7thDuchess of Bedford for adding this extra layer of snobbery to our already tradition-laden customs as she had a sinking feeling by late afternoon and simply could not wait until dinner. So, as a Ginsters and a Mars bar was not really an option in those days, she ordered tea, bread and butter plus cakes and the rest, as they say, is history.
What is afternoon tea?
Because we have to confuse even the simplest procedures, the British actually invented two kinds of afternoon tea: Low Tea and High Tea. Our dear American friends still get gloriously baffled in that delightful way of theirs by the whole ‘scone and beverage’ business and they seem to think that High Tea implies a high class, expensive meal enjoyed by well-heeled members of the aristocracy. Well, as the Yankee Doodles say, ‘Lemme tell ya how it all be, pilgrim’.
High Tea actually refers to an afternoon tea served on a dining table and Low Tea tends to rest on a low table. Which makes sense. Ironically, when you consider the perceived decadence and snobbery associated with a High Tea, it’s actually a working-class tradition, equivalent to supper and featuring a hot dish (probably not a Ginsters) substantially filled sandwiches, scones, cakes and biscuits, in fact the only thing missing is a wafer-thin mint.
The afternoon tea on the other hand, is all about dainty finger sandwiches with traditional fillings like cucumber, a selection of tea cakes and pastries, together with warm scones plus jam and cream. Afternoon tea is where the real snobbery lies and let’s face it the Americans and many other people abroad have always struggled to understand our ways and customs. The Boston Tea Party, as well as sounding like a great laugh, ended America’s liking for both the British and their tea so they decided to drink coffee instead.
Many visitors from overseas still have an image of us all stopping what we are doing at 3.30 pm on the dot and congregating for Afternoon tea, possibly while singing a selection of Paul Potts hits. But one tradition that they are probably right about is tea with the Queen at one of her famous garden parties.
Her Majesty requests… are the opening words on the invitation to a tea that will fill you with fear and excitement in equal measure as you instantly start to worry about the etiquette surrounding such a wonderfully British occasion. The guest list is intended to be representative of a cross-section of UK society and often includes foreign dignitaries and Heads of State all of whom are expected to dress smartly and observe a strict code of conduct, so please don’t remind our most well-to-do and protocol-driven Queen about the time when President George W Bush was invited and arrived by landing his helicopter on the lawn. Oh dear.
With 20,000 sandwiches and miniature cakes served to some 8,000 invited guests that is truly the mother of all afternoon teas, so if you are invited to such a quintessentially British occasion, do you know the correct etiquette to observe?
Stirring your tea in the wrong way will certainly raise a few eyebrows in all the smart establishments. You must place your spoon in the 6 o’clock position in the cup and then agitate the tea towards the 12 o’clock position whilst at the same time making sure that your spoon, god forbid, never clinks against the sides of the cup, causing gasps of shock and much tutting from connoisseurs. Once you have negotiated this terrifying ordeal you must not leave the spoon a second longer in the cup and return it the saucer forthwith.
Cream or jam first? Well the debate goes on but just so you know, the Devon tradition is cream first and the Cornish people apparently wanted to be different from their near-neighbours and prefer to put the jam on first, but you will be pleased to know that neither is considered inappropriate when it comes to etiquette.
Next on the etiquette list is that old pinkie problem, pinkies up or not? Absolutely not! One of the most common misconceptions is that outstretching ones little finger aids balance and makes you look like a sophisticated tea drinker, whereas the actual truth is pointing your little pinkie is absolutely pointless and it will make you look rather silly too.
Did I hear someone ask if it is acceptable to dunk their biscuits? Are we wasting our time here? Go ahead and dunk your Rich Teas in the privacy of your own home but you might even be thrown out of some posh establishments for committing such a sinful act. There endeth your etiquette lesson.
Rated P.G. Tips
Tea drinking and the joy of Afternoon Tea is ingrained in our culture and is almost as ubiquitous in movies as an appearance by Bill Nighy. There is a rather gloriously dignified tea party scene in Sense and Sensibility and Mary Poppins insisted that when it is tea time in England you are expected to arrive at the table without further ado, followed very shortly afterwards by that wonderful gravity-defying teatime scene where everyone is hovering in mid-air and no, we don’t know why either.
Willy Wonka and his edible teacup scene was a hoot but the surreal winner for us is the scene fromToy Story when Buzz is at the tea party with Hannah’s dolls and says “One minute you’re defending the whole galaxy, and, suddenly, you find yourself sucking down Darjeeling with Marie Antoinette… and her little sister”. Classic!
If you are star-struck and want to see famous people drinking tea, then search out the site called, you guessed it, famouspeopledrinkingtea, and check out the celebs drinking a cuppa, and especially the brilliant photo of Boris Karloff in his role of Frankenstein, drinking a cup of Rosy Lee to recharge his batteries.
So if all this talk of Afternoon Tea has made you want to partake in this wonderful tradition yourself then you could probably do with heading to London if you want to try The Tea Guild’s 2013 award winner, the Goring Hotel, which fittingly is rather close to Buckingham Palace.
Previous winners include those timeless afternoon tea venues, The Ritz and Claridges but if you do get to go, please ladies and gentleman, dress up smart, keep you little pinkie firmly under control, stir your tea with all the concentration you can muster and for goodness sake, have you not been listening to any of this? Don’t dunk your biscuit!
Do you possess the hankering to win a plethora of delicious, partially inedible prizes?
Of course you are! You’re only human. Unless you are one of those super-intelligent dolphins I keep reading about, in which case I don’t want any trouble, just take what you want and leave me alone and please don’t train that blowhole mounted sniper rifle on me.
For all of you non-aquatic sea-life assassins out there, we have teamed up with ME to literally give you prizes, in a competition themed event of galactic proportions. And the winning could not be easier. Remember those cheap games you received from unloved relatives at Christmas where you had to get ball-bearings into a clown’s face? Remember how easy it was? This is easier.
One is a little embarrassed to find that the Royal finances are not exactly in a rosy state and the nation’s most famous pensioner is more than a little short of cash. With her palace falling into disrepair and standards of living to uphold, it appears that the Queen may well have to resort to some desperate or unusual measures to perk up those royal coffers.
But Liz and co have nothing to worry about! We’ve devised a number of perfectly practical manoeuvres to raise some more of those bits of paper and metal with your picture on them.
Wouldn’t we all like to know what really goes in behind those big, opulent gates? Well what about a TV company stumping up some serious cash to persuade the Royal family to star in their own reality TV show: The Big Buck House? Obviously we can all probably guess the outcome, with Andrew getting kicked off swiftly with the least amount of votes and Prince Philip reigning supreme with his singular brand of acerbic wit and fantastic non-PC one-liners.
Or even a royal version of Benefits Street, showing the royal household trying to make ends meet with the paltry amounts we give to them each year? We can call it Benefit’s Mall.
Getting Crown To Business
What about a Bling and Buy sale? Her Maj (as she must be called if we are talking bling) has a few tasty rocks in her collection and if she can’t bear to part with them then perhaps she could still make a few quid renting them out for some red carpet bling-hungry starlets and hip-hop artistes.
What must upset the Queen is to see all those imposters making money as Queen Lookalikes, well why not grab a piece of the action yourself your majesty? No one would believe that she was the real thing when opening the Crowborough village fete and at least she would be earning some extra money just for being herself, although the danger is that she might get turned down by the agency for looking nothing like her!
Change one’s shopping habits – Harrods and Fortnum & Mason do a nice foie gras but if you are cutting back then Lidl brand duck style pate spread is rather special too. You never know, she might even get some freebies or a discount if she lets them put that lovely Warrant of Appointment above the door.
With a bit of creative thinking you can soon come up with some exciting commercial opportunities to raise extra cash by using all those Royal connections and properties. Football stadiums raise cash by flogging their name to a sponsor so what about selling the rights to Buckingham Palace? Brand Beckham would surely be interested in the idea of Beckingham Palace. And there is a real opportunity for Sandringham House. Norfolk is really only famous for Stephen Fry and the one and only Alan Partridge, so why not get a piece of the action?
Ladies and gentleman I give you Sandringham FM, north Norfolk’s most listened-to daytime royal radio station, broadcasting live to Wisbech, Kings Lynn and surrounding areas and hosted by Sir Alan Partridge (that would be part of the deal) who can then truly say that he is a Norfolk Knight.
Ermine a Bit of Cash
With the amount of money needed, her Majesty may well have to consider a part-time job to supplement her income and might one suggest that there are two unique services she could provide.
No one knows how to curtsy properly and if you are the Queen, it must surely get on your nerves to see all your loyal subjects collapsing in front of you like a poorly constructed Ikea shelving unit, so earn some extra money and teach people how it should be done. That’s Tuesday and Thursday evening’s taken care of, so there will still be time for waving lessons. No one knows how to shake their hands out of a window better than the Queen so why not get those gloves on and give it a go for some extra cash.
Not only is the Queen short of cash but apparently the boilers in Buckingham Palace are on their last legs, so why not try to get some posh plumbers to replace them for free in return for some decent publicity, as long as they are corgi registered of course.
If all else fails and one is so desperate for cash that one will do anything, then what about suing the remaining band members of that famous rock band for copyright infringement, after all there is only one real Queen.