Thursday, March 24, 2011


The census figures for Detroit have been released, and they don't make encouraging reading.

Whereas Detroit was the fifth-largest city in the US in the 1950s, with some 2 million inhabitants, the combination of suburban migration and ever-increasing poverty and unemployment have reduced the population to just 713,000.

Worse still, the speed at which people are fleeing "Destroyed" has increased dramatically, with population numbers falling by a quarter in the last decade alone. That works out as one person leaving the city every 20 minutes.

At this rate, Detroit will be a ghost town in 30 years.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Odd Products

Shapes them just like real hands do!

Tap water - in a bottle

A cleaning scalp?

Bought by the man who has everything

A remote control for Big Foot

Barbie NY, London and Paris


So sitting ducks are OK?

I guess He likes having a lie-in on the 7th day

Tastes just like straight out of your tap!

Girl Scout Cookies

At this time of year, you cannot escape being offered girl scout cookies to buy.

This time-honoured tradition, for some reason practiced only by the female flavour of the Baden-Powell-inspired movement, is the principal way that the girl guides raise money for their packs.

However, a bake sale this is not. In the Land of Opportunity, girl scout cookies are not homemade by parents and then sold to friends, relatives and neighbours. Oh no. That would be far too unsanitary and amateurish. Girl scout cookies are a big business involving professionally produced and packaged cookies. And when I say "big", I mean BIG: an estimated 200 million boxes are sold on street corners, outside shops and to parents' colleagues every year!

The biscuits are made by officially sanctioned suppliers, from whom the Girl Scouts of the USA orders and buys, and the girls pledge themselves to selling a certain amount, although this inevitably means that their parents end up buying what's left over.

Although there are apparently about two dozen types available, the most popular types of biscuits (which don't seem to be available in the shops at all) are Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, Samoas and Trefoils. And like all other biscuits, they are virtually irresistible.

Which is why you'll have to excuse me while I go and raid the boxes in my cupboard.


As I've written before, Americans love watching primarily their national sports - basketball, (ice) hockey, (American) football and baseball - whether it's in front of the TV, at a bar or at the stadium itself. One of the stranger offshoots of this passion for sports is "tailgating", also known as the "tailgate party".

Essentially tailgating involves travelling to the relevant venue several hours before kick-off, and in some cases early in the morning, partly so that you can get good seats, partly so that you can have a pregame party in the car park.

The expression comes from the American word for the door of the boot of the car - the tailgate - which is folded down to reveal massive amounts of food and drink as well as cooking ranges and/or barbecue sets, TVs, games like
cornhole and of course chairs and tables.

However, this being America, many people take tailgating to the logical extreme, completely foregoing the sporting experience of actually watching the game, preferring instead to remain surrounded by parked cars all day drinking light beer and barbecuing with friends.

A friend of mine, whose customised car number plate is "TAILG8R" and who faithfully buys a season ticket to the local university American football team year after year, spends hours every Friday night preparing food, and then starts drinking Bloody Marys in the car park at 8:30 in the morning.

once proudly told me, "I haven't seen a game the last two seasons!"

Monday, March 14, 2011


My daughter surprised me today by playing 'God Save the Queen' on the piano.

Having finished, she rushed down to my office and asked me, "Guess what that was, Daddy!"
"Easy," I said. "That was 'God Save the Queen'".

"Wrong!" she replied with a mischievous grin, showing me the score. "It's called 'America'".

Lo and behold, the New World has misappropriated our most hallowed sporting chant. Not only that, the song (annotated to be played "proudly") has been furnished with the following patriotic lyrics:

My country 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing!
Land where our fathers died,

Land of the Pilgrims' pride,

From ev'ry mountainside,

Let freedom ring!

Now I know it's only our de facto national anthem, but it's just not cricket having American children extolling the virtues of the New World when they ought to be calling for the divine salvation of Her Royal Highness.

They stole our colonies too. Whatever will they steal next?