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Terminal attraction

Go on – admit it. You’ve always wanted to deck out your house like an airport departure lounge, haven’t you? Good news, then! The entire contents of Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 1 are up for sale, three years after it closed down. Presumably the gigantic gap since the last plane arrived there was to allow enough time for everyone’s baggage to appear.

For the aeroplane-obsessed family member in your life, you could bag a cool baggage carousel. Or make that arduous trip upstairs a whole lot easier with an escalator.

If those are a little on the large size for the average home, maybe a check-in desk would be handy for your office. Perhaps you’re concerned about the protection level of your abode. In which case, the 2000 security cameras might be a useful way of decreasing (or increasing?) your paranoia.

At a more practical level, rows of uncomfortable chairs could be just the thing to make a protracted wait at the dentist remind you of a protracted delay at the airport, and take your mind…
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In safe hands

Much of what I have learnt about human nature has been acquired in cafés and restaurants. One particularly fine example of this occurred recently, during my holiday in the Yorkshire Dales. Whilst enjoying a lovely meal, I discovered that the UK’s leading expert on evading interrogation was not some James Bond-esque figure, but actually a middle-aged woman from the North East at the next table.

Perhaps having enjoyed one Martini (shaken, not stirred) too many, she was busy informing her friends – and everyone else in the restaurant – about how she would cope with any attempts to extract information from her, or get her to admit to something.

Apparently, “It’s easy to beat one of them lie detector test things they have in America. It’s all about sweaty palms and that… what do you call it? …pupil delilations. I could beat that easy.” Remarkably, our super-cool expert went on to explain that she doesn’t have sweaty palms, so she would be fine.

In these turbulent times, with Russian nerv…

The hills are alive – with the sound of stupid

Contrary to what some arrogant people seem to think, just because you’re outside doesn’t mean you are free of rules as well as walls. An abundance of Lycra or some very expensive branded walking gear doesn’t grant you automatic transcendence from the need to use common sense. You obviously think you look like a professional athlete in your figure-hugging kit, or rapidly-wicking microfibre £120 T-shirt – so why not act like one, and stop thinking the rules don’t apply to you because you’re above that sort of thing?

There seems to be a depressing modern attitude of selfishness and a casual disregard for measures put in place to protect you – yes you, you expensive outdoor-gear-wearing clothes-horse – and other people.

It manifests itself in a variety of ways. In the space of a couple of weeks, I’ve seen impatient idiots in expensive 4x4s put two wheels onto pavements to get past a car turning off a road – even though the ‘wait’ would have been no more than a couple of seconds. Thanks fo…

300 (and 90,000) not out

Hi. Did you miss me? To say it's been a busy few weeks would be a major understatement. I've packed for holiday, packed for moving house, been on holiday, came back to sign paperwork, went back to holiday, came home to move house, went back on holiday, and came home to the new house. Currently unpacking, and trying to figure out how everything works (e.g. Q: Why isn't the new washing machine pumping out the water?! A: Whoever fitted the waste water hose under the sink omitted to take the plastic bung out first...)

Anyway - here I am! I'll post this week's column(s) over the next few days - yes, I also wrote that whilst on holiday -  but thought I'd share a couple of milestones, even if it seems no-one else is particularly bothered.

The Russia/Horse in a disco/Cream-tea fury outing of the 9th of March was my 300th published newspaper selection.

From the "Thank grumpy it's Friday" column of 500 words in the North West Evening Mail, through to my cur…

Printing pressure - jobs at risk

It seems strange that your local newspaper might soon not be printed locally. Sadly, that might be the case though, as the CN-Group run printing press in Carlisle is at risk of closure. New owners Newsquest are considering the move, which could affect 34 jobs, due to the “tough economics of the newspaper printing market” along with the problem of ageing equipment, and a world where print is steadily being replaced by screen.

Future copies of your local paper may come from Glasgow. It’s clearly a difficult and worrying time for those whose livelihoods are at risk - Newsquest acknowledge that the proposal has nothing to do with the quality of the service delivered, but that’s small comfort when you may be about to lose your job.

Is this just the top of a slippery slope, though? Increasingly, local newspapers are disappearing or being forced to reduce their staff. Less staff = less news. A drop in the breadth and diversity of reporting means fewer sales.

If you’re thinking this is all ju…

Time off for good behaviour

Depending on which part of Cumbria you happen to be reading this in, I’m either that strange-looking new guy that’s only been around for a couple of months, or that weird-looking old guy who’s got in the way of proper news each of the last 301 Fridays. Good news either way – I’m away for a couple of weeks. Part holiday, part house move. If any of you are currently going through the same nightmarish world of solicitors, estate agents, worrying about when you’ll exchange and where you put the parcel tape, I sympathise.

It is a very odd experience to take all your belongings, wedge them into boxes and then hand them over to a couple of guys you don’t know and trust that they’ll show up at your new place with it all.

Last time I moved, VHS tapes were the heavy/bulky stuff, along with vinyl records. Now it’s DVDs and CDs. Should I ever move again, I’ll just need to make sure the right cloud follows me.

There’s always that worrying moment when your box of music is already heavy, but there’s…

Formula One last time

It’s set to be a thrilling season for Formula One fans. Both Britain’s Lewis Hamilton and Germany’s Sebastian Vettel have now achieved four world titles each, with Hamilton equalling his arch-rival’s tally last year. Who was battling it out for that title last time? Yup – those two. It wasn’t always the most gentlemanly of battles either, with Seb famously banging wheels with Lewis after he believed the Brit had brake-tested him.

So far, so tremendously entertaining. True, Vettel’s team, Ferrari, along with their driver himself, lost the plot somewhat when it really counted. Happily, it looks like we may be on for another ding-dong (and potentially bodywork-bashing) re-match.

The cars look a little different this year too. Imagine someone sticking the bit that goes on top of your foot from a flip-flop onto the cockpit of the cars, and you’ve pretty much got the ‘halo’. This controversial new safety feature should help protect drivers from injuries caused by flying debris, cars going o…