Tuesday, 29 January 2008


Evidently deciding to turn a blind eye to the legion of householders who have filled their homes with banks of dichroic downlighters, their gardens with further effect lighting and their hot-tubs with yet further effect lighting, the British government is seeking to outlaw the sale of everyday lightbulbs to we Brits. As of the end of 2008, it will become virtually impossible to buy a non-eco lightbulb from any supermarket or DIY store.

A good idea you might think. Except that in many cases, aside from the 5 x extra cost-per-bulb, consumers still have to make a choice between 'long-life' or 'low-energy' in many cases, and the manufacturer's built-in obsolescence factor to keep us all buying bulbs and commestibles (of all kinds) has not been phased out!

Did I mention that eco-bulbs can end up using MORE energy than ordinary bulbs if not turned on and off with less frequency than Edison bulbs? This is due to the fact they take so much power to power up, aka the annoying process of their light growing from very dim to still-not-as-bright-as-a-proper-bulb when you switch them on. Hence if householders don't change their habits as well, eco-bulbs are useless! And now eco-bulbs have been linked to health problems for those with photo-sensitivity, skin diseases and epileptic problems. Which begs the question, will 'daylight' bulbs for the depressed also be banned so soon after their invention, or will the depressed have to obtain their 'daylight' bulbs on doctor's prescription?

Aesthetically, although they are getting better, eco-bulbs also give off the most awful harsh light making everyone's skin appear yellowy-grey, a bit like the old fluorescent tubes used to. Not exactly what you'd wish to find in theatres, restaurants or even your own living room! And working in a historic building environment as I do, I cringe to see great big ugly eco-bulbs jammed into a beautiful bronze chandelier, built for delicate flame-effect candle bulbs.

Lighting industry, you'll have to do better than this to convert me!

Meantime I'll be stocking up on proper bulbs to last the rest of my life and doing that funky eco thing I do, which also aids my electricity bill, ie turning them off when not using them!

Friday, 25 January 2008


Little red sports car cutting a dash on the Downs
Attracting admiring glances as it zipped into town
Just past rock ‘n’ roll, driving into the swinging 60’s
David Hemmings-like occupant with wind-feathered hair
Equally glam blonde beside him, more often than not

And then one day he drew up and asked her out on the prom
Looked around, but no one else there.
She couldn’t believe it.
Was he taking the biscuit?
Should she turn him down, or should she risk it?
Not pretty enough, not confident.
She’d never keep him
Her fears prevailed and she refused him
Though he still pursued her on and off
In-between other girls.
Eventually a man she could accept
And a life less glittering.

Years went by and she bumped into Peter
Still handsome and bronzed over twenty years later.
Still single too,
Though no red sports car.
Blushes exchanged, he greeted me and my sister
Caught up with my mother as they shared some tea
Reluctantly parting, eyes red-regretful.

Two years later one breakfast, a Solicitor’s letter,
Found dead in his flat by the electric board man,
Alone. Unexplained. At forty five.
Father grunted. Our mother turned away.

Sometimes I still ponder on little red sports cars,
Opportunity and waste,
And what fear has forged my legacy...

© LS King 2003

Monday, 21 January 2008

Privacy and Other Matters for Public Record

How is it that our local councils have the right to ask our marital status, sexual orientation, religion, age, nationality, income etc merely for emptying our dustbins (which we already pay them to do via our council tax), in long interminable questionnaires, when prospective employers are increasingly finding they have acted illegally and will be subject to large fines for asking prospective employees personal questions that are not strictly job-related, such as marital status, sexual orientation, religion and age?

And where does the Data Protection Act stand on either scenario? Not to mention when our own government keeps contravening it by losing vital data disks with thousands of our personal records including bank details on!

Good old Data Protection Act - it's always in the way when you don't need it (to prevent a colleague revealing another colleague's home phone number to ring and ask how they are after an operation for example), but where is it when you do?

Furthermore, while you can understand what a potential employer would probably do with personal information on an employee, what does my local council seek to do with its information on me? Let me withhold the segment of council tax I disagree with them spending on my behalf once they know all my beliefs, I wonder? All the money their pointless paper-wasting questionnaires and free glossy magazines boasting how their recycling quotas are rising spring to mind for starters...

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Regeneration of Oxford City Centre

First you take your tree... Ok, so Bonn Square wasn't perfect, but not sure I find the 'award-winning' architects' design much more soulful (final image) and worthy of a place at the heart of a mediaeval city. And did they really have to bulldoze one of the city centres' only remaining trees? Surely good architecture is about designing around features worth keeping and in sympathy with its surroundings. Alas the surroundings in this part of the city include Westgate Centre - a 1970s white elephant shopping cathedral they are proposing to replace with an even larger white elephant cathedral dedicated to St Shopping so we can compete with shopping capital Reading. And obviously Oxford is world renowned for its shopping...

Monday, 14 January 2008

Health Food Junkies

As one raised a strict vegan from birth during the 70's and 80's, when all sorts of horrors such as stunted growth (I'm 5'9") and retarded intelligence (ok, so I did fail my 11+) were predicted by 'experts' who came to measure and prod myself and my sister at regular intervals, not to mention a couple of post-grads who came to study us as part of their zoology degrees or somesuch, I was naturally compelled to watch Channel 4s' 'First Cut: Health Food Junkies' on Friday @ 7.30pm exploring the fascinating world of the 'Raw Foodists' - a relatively new band of food evangelists who eschew Nigella, Jamie & Gordon to eat only raw food not heated above 45 degrees for fear of destroying the nutrients.
Whilst I acknowledge some logic in this, and accept that our food has probably lost the oft-quoted 40-50% of its vitamins since the 1940s, owing to intensive farming methods causing high levels of animal stress/adrenaline and employing the use of growth hormones, medicines, vaccines, cross-breeding, dye, flavourings and other manipulations of nature, I was at a loss to understand where the drinking ones' own urine and twice-a-day colonic irrigation came into it. Particularly if they were now eating such an uber-pure, high-fibre diet, they presumably had nothing to de-tox! Amusing too was how the aforementioned alternative therapist who drank her own wee every morning found the thought of kissing a carnivorous man disgusting, opining he would smell bad owing to his diet!
The children who had never been allowed to eat normal food, (for some bizarre reason their mother even regarded apples or a glass of orange juice as a 'treat'), or mix with other children who might lead them astray particularly struck a chord and made me realise just how lucky I had been to be allowed jacket potatoes, lentil soup and several squares of non-dairy chocolate every Easter.
However they also brought back memories of stealing sherbet dabs from shops and money from my parents to buy still more illicit confectionary contraband. Then there was the time I received a severely spanked bottom for being found sitting on the kitchen floor in the early hours in my jimjams, cupboard doors open wide, mainlining a packet of Demerara with a very large dessert spoon, but still fit to compound my crime with a bare-faced lie!
Her cherubs will not remain cherubs methinks, for all her naive protestations of 'Oh children just accept things'.
And the thing I was dying to know - ie the ages of the participants - was never revealed, except for the music producer who turned out to be 54, and to be fair, did look a little younger. However by and large the participants appeared somewhat pasty-faced, and not exactly sparkling-eyed or amazingly youthful, albeit impressively slim.
In addition they were spending vast quantities of money on superfood powders and vegan foodstuffs even I'd never heard of, and which must surely be unobtainable in the home towns of most of us and ruinous in evil food miles if they have to come from specific swamps in Botswana or are special desert flowers from Arabia. Furthermore the raw food diet did strike one as a labour-intensive, all-consuming lifestyle that was only possible if you had no other hobbies or interests. Almost a religion no less.
But hey, if they were really all about 70 years of age, goodbye cappuccinos, restaurants, social life and interests - raw food, coffee enemas and wee juice drink here I come! I have no pride when it comes to fighting the aging process - it's war my friends!
On second thoughts though, perhaps I'll just keep taking the vitamins, eating the five-a-day and save for the cosmetic surgery.

Top photo from Health Food Junkies, Channel 4

Friday, 11 January 2008

Men At Your Feet

Display bra-and-thong plumage in the office
And demand to be taken seriously
On a par with your male colleagues in their crop-shirted glory
For you're as good as any man in plunge-trousered suit
That you're worth equal pay for equal fabric is not in dispute.
But can you blame poor men for being confused, when you dress 'Come hither', then point-blank refuse?
(and if you're feeling mean, report them to HR)
What are you trying to prove?
That you've found esteem but mislaid self-respect,
That while you're not one, you reserve the right to dress as a sex object?
Do you want men at your feet, on and by your side, or merely annoyed?
Does that aggressive push-up lace front hide a gaping inner void,
Waiting for the 'right' man to complete you, perchance?
Attracting men you don't fancy or who use, when you yearn love and romance?
Sure, you can wear what you want and have every right to
Just ask yourself who you're doing it for, and stand up the real you!
Never mind male power, overcoming herd power is what I call girl power!

©LS King 2008

Monday, 7 January 2008

Flight of Fancy

Muscular aeroplane exuding fizzy hot jetstreams
Throbbing in runway readiness as the stewards slam lockers
Trim hover-hat high priestesses to your power,
Dip to check seat belts, displaying regulation-shaved legs.
Your internal lights frown in concentration, all juice to the boosters
Impatient for control tower leave to commence taxiing.
I look out over your sensible wing, run my mind over your rivets
Place my faith in your scuffed, unwashed, but serviceable, body,
As the emergency dance routine washes in one sense and out the other
Admire your more glamorous well-endowed neighbour, next bay
Big-arsed and American, though no trusty Pan-Am
Guzzling a two-tanker breakfast, a little flashy for me.
A whoosh and we move, slowly at first, feeling the latent power
Then you lurch forward, but holding back until safe
Before weaving the network of slipways to the open runway
Where your throttle lets rip, frame juddering to within an inch of its G-force.
We take off, pushed back into felt upholstery by the pressure of thrust upness
That miraculous climb into the clouds that never ceases to amaze,
Until you level off to commence the flight path, set controls to cruise.
Ignoring 'Atonement', I gaze through the porthole and cirrus, sorting land mass from abyss.
Eventually you show me the twinkling lights of my destination
The pretty formation of a landing strip shoehorned into alien conurbation
Bring me down gently, stage by stage, landing gear erect,
To the perfect poignant landing, a butterfly's kiss.
I want to relay gratitude to the Captain, but that's not encouraged.
However he says he looks forward to seeing me again
And thanks me for choosing him.

© LS King 2008

Photo by

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Christmas In Coventry

Ahhh. The city that God forgot and its own council carried on destroying, long after Hitler had finished lobbing his doodlebugs and assorted bombs at it.
Such was the stomping ground of my youth from failed goth to 27, not to mention the location/inspiration for The Specials' 'Ghost Town' (a timelesss pop hit if ever there was one!).

Thought it might be a good spot to undertake the first nationwide survey on that eerie phenomenon known as Life Before Death and find out if there might be any truth in the theory - ie any in Coventry.

Note the ingenious municipal use of paving slabs that look exactly as if they are covered in chewing gum and dog-ends, to deter Joe Public from dropping chewing gum and dog-ends.