Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Sunday, 8 July 2012
I realise I may be alone in thinking this, but that first card was better than its successor, the Nectar Card, and here's how: you could use it for air miles. And air miles were straight forward, tax-free, and generously allocated.
After a term's worth of (basically) cheddar, bread, tea bags and milk, I was able to treat myself to a flight back to Guernsey to see much-loved, much-missed friends from my gap year. I'd eaten at least one meal in college per day during that time, but I'd been savvy and always chosen the make of bread or cheddar or tea bags that carried extra reward points (and there were many of those back then), and so basically one term's worth of lunchtime cheese toasties had been sufficient to carry me home. I know Guernsey isn't far, but still, that's some achievement. And my brilliance at collecting reward points was, now that I think about it, something of a legend among my group of friends. (Maybe not a legend; I exaggerate for the sake of poetry. But it was nonetheless mentioned from time to time.)
Now that I'm about to start the whole university thing again (though it will be called "school") I have picked up this obsession where it left off. America loves reward points. It loves them! And most beloved of all, as far as I can tell, are the frequent flyer miles. Unlike the Air Miles of old (wistful sigh), each airline has its own scheme, which makes it more complex, and a lot harder work to figure out. I'm flying to DC with British Airways, who are an American Airlines partner, so I've opened an account with them, though I've opened several others too. I plan at some point to spend a substantial amount of time looking through the web site of each scheme and collating information on exactly which restaurant, which credit card, which hotel, earns me how many points with which airline. Maybe even doing a nifty thing involving a giant map and colour coding. Because it's not just flights - you can earn them on everything. I mean, everything. You can spend them on everything too, but I won't be doing that - mine are for seeing the world. Well, Colorado and California, anyway.
My air miles collecting will be legendary once more.
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Monday, 25 June 2012
1. Bradley Whitford would have made a great Will McAvoy. The initial scene seemed to have been written for him. Sigh.
2. Aaron Sorkin has the courage to tell the truth about America. And about the fact that it's not the only country with freedom, thereby elliciting whoops from those of us who nod furiously when played the clip where Obama says he believes in American exceptionalism the way, for example, Brits believe in British exceptionalism. It's the kind of thing that may have riled some Americans, but won hearts in other countries. Because it's true! and refreshing to hear!
3. Aaron Sorkin has a thing about Belgium. I've always suspected this, but to get a mention within five minutes of the pilot episode is quite something. Well done him.
4. Also, he called the UK the UK, and not England. This is unusual for an American, and to be applauded.
5. MacKenzie did not need to be British. But if she was going to be British, she should have been called Fleur, or Sophie, or Fiona. British parents do not name their little girls Mackenzie, especially posh diplomat types. This unnecessary plot complication and unnecessary accent and ridiculously chosen name is likely to irritate me throughout.
5. Until the last scene, I worried that Mackenzie/Will had as much chemistry as Josh/Mandy. Which isn't a problem, except we are clearly meant to be shipping them. Oh well - maybe another meant-to-be-minor character will steal one of their hearts. The best ships are organic anyway. But then, oddly, I found myself welling up at the end. So who knows?
6. But Aaron Sorkin is clearly a romantic. More than that, he believes romantic love to be the motivation behind excellence, the thing that causes us to rise higher than we thought possible. Viz Studio 60 and the Social Network, though not the West Wing in quite the same way.
7. He's chosen to set this show not in a parallel universe, but in our real world - maybe the real world of a couple of years ago, complete with Barack Obama and BP oil spills. Interesting concept. And one which I think I Iike - it should make for some interesting social commentary, and means his creative energy will be devoted to characters and internal plot, rather than coming up with external plot.
8. That episode was really long. Are they all going to be this long?
9. Recognisable Sorkin characters all over the place - most notably Maggie (whose name Mackenzie pronounces with an American accent for no discernible reason). She reminded me of Matt's assistant in Studio 60. In fact, she's basically the same character. Or am I wrong?
10. Aesthetically speaking (and in many other ways), it's no West Wing. And it is certainly no Studio 60. (I doubt the Bradley Whitford/Matt Perry combination can be equalled or surpassed by anything other than Bradley Whitford/Rob Lowe). But John Gallagher, Jr, has grown into a hottie since he was last seen dropping Josh, Donna and Toby off at a station so they could get a train going the wrong way. Maybe it's time I crushed on someone more age-appropriate. Think I can charm him with my British accent (and my genuine British name)?
Sunday, 24 June 2012
Friday, 22 June 2012
I've also had a conversation today about the things we say we should be doing but feel bad for not doing and instead wallowing on the sofa, thinking "I can't be bothered".
So, here we go.
One of the best places to be in the early-evening yet still stifling heat of Belgrade is by the river. And the river is helpfully lined with cafés. We chose one towards the end of the row, because we had a pushchair with us and this particular one offered reasonable access, and also because my friend had been there before and knew they did good crepes.
There was a table free right by the water's edge: a good sign from the start. I feel terrible assuming that people away from home naturally speak my language, but was chuffed when it turned out that they had a menu in English. I went for a Rafaello - the white chocolate, almond and something. The reason I don't remember the something is that I asked for it to be replaced with Nutella - although it's not called Nutella here. My friend pulled a face and said "that'll be really sweet" - and it was, but it was also delicious, and plenty big enough too. I rounded off my mini-meal with my second fresh pink grapefruit juice and enjoyed the view and the relative cool of the evening air. Recommended.
Service: 9/10 - polite, efficient, multi-lingual but not over-eager
Food and drink: 8.5/10 - the bonus .5 point is for their being obliging in modifying my order! (Always important for me, since I tend to "know what I want" - as parents say of stubborn toddlers.)
Surroundings: 9/10 - looking out onto the river
Overall experience: 9/10 - not too touristy, not too busy, good atmosphere, non-intrusive music, and a welcome evening breeze. Great place to savour a dessert.