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Mr T.
24-11-04, 02:02 AM
Generation Jones is given a name at last
By David Derbyshire, Consumer Affairs Editor
(Filed: 24/11/2004)

They were raised on Valerie Singleton and The Waltons, queued around the block to see Jaws and had their world shaken by the Moon landings, punk and the Falklands conflict.

The children of the late 1950s and 1960s, too young to be baby boomers but too old to be part of Generation X, have at last been given a name: Generation Jones.

Table showing Generation Jones through the years

Market analysts who coined the term, derived from the American slang for yearning, say that members of Generation Jones are high-spending, influential adults who were raised on television.

They are anyone aged from 39 to 50 whose likes and dislikes are heavily defined by the 1970s and early 1980s.

They fall into three main groups: Mainstream, Conservative and Radical.

Members of Mainstream Jones, who make up 65 per cent, were largely influenced by Tiswas, The Old Grey Whistle Test, The Godfather and Blondie. Their favourite magazines today are Radio Times and Good Housekeeping.

BBC1 is their favourite channel and the programmes they watch include A Touch of Frost and Have I Got News For You.

Celebrity Mainstream Joneses include Gary Lineker, Carol Vorderman, Liz Hurley, Jonathan Ross, Ian Botham, Simon and Yasmin Le Bon and Kim Wilde.

Radical v Conservative Joneses

The Conservative Joneses, who make up 20 per cent, were influenced by Blue Peter, The Waltons, glam rock, Saturday Night Fever and Wings.

Favourite magazines are Take a Break, Woman's Own and Sainsbury's Magazine.

ITV1 is their preferred channel and they like to watch Coronation Street, EastEnders and I'm a Celebrity … Get me out of here.

Celebrity Conservative Joneses include Fiona Philips, Eamon Holmes, Hugh Grant, Shane Ritchie, William Hague, Cherie Blair and Lorraine Kelly.

The Radical Jones element makes up about 15 per cent. It was influenced by Magpie, Apocalypse Now, Rock Against Racism and punk, particularly the Sex Pistols. Favourite magazines are Men's Health, Red, Auto Express. Radical Joneses watch a lot of BBC2 and favourite programmes include The Office, the Rugby World Cup and the news.

Celebrity Radical Joneses are headed by Bob Geldof, Ben Elton, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Madonna, Nick Hornby, Sting, Bono, Julie Burchill, Gary Oldman and Jack Dee.

Generation Jones makes up about a fifth of the population and its attitudes are very different from those of the rest of the population, says the media analyst group Carat.

Philip Reddaway, a spokesman for the group, says: "Generation Jones was first identified in the United States by Jonathan Pontell, the people watcher, but until now there has been no review of its existence in Britain. Our research has found that the generation clearly does exist and has had experiences that are quite distinct from those of the American generation and that have profoundly shaped and influenced its opinions, attitudes, aspirations and behaviour in later life."

Generation Jones has rejected the optimism and trust in governments of those born immediately after the war but has yet to endorse the cynicism and selfishness of Generation X - the MTV, Margaret Thatcher and computer game generation now in its 20s and 30s.

The Joneses were promised an easier life by the advent of electronic technology but were scarred by the economic crises and mass unemployment of the 1970s and 1980s, the analysts say on the basis of a continuing study of 10,000 people

"The result is a generation that views itself as more laterally thinking, creative, energetic and politically active and aware than the generations around them," Mr Reddaway says.

Because of their influence and spending power, politicians and businesses ignore their interests at their peril.

The Joneses, only 62 per cent of whom are married, have the highest personal and household income of any age bracket in the country.

Last year they spent £1,000 per head on holidays, more than £3,000 on furniture and put a total of £16 billion on their credit cards.

Mr T.
29-11-04, 02:23 AM
Subsidise anoraks and geeks to help society, says Demos
By David Derbyshire, Consumer Affairs Editor
(Filed: 29/11/2004)

Train-spotters, stamp collectors and Doctor Who obsessives should be subsidised by the Government in order to "promote community cohesion", according to a leading think-tank.

A report by Demos says that the all-consuming passions of "geeks, nerds and anoraks" may actually be beneficial for society.

Rejecting the usual derogatory descriptions, the authors describe the group as "Pro-Ams" – amateurs who pursue a hobby to a professional standard.

Charles Leadbeater, one of the authors of the report, said: "Pro-Ams are a new social hybrid who force us to rethink the way we think about work and leisure time. Their activities blur the traditional definitions of professional and amateur.''

A survey of 2,189 adults by Mori commissioned by Demos for the report showed that Britain was a nation of dedicated hobby enthusiasts.

The report defines Pro-Ams as "amateurs who pursue a hobby or pastime – which in many cases is an all-consuming passion – to a professional standard".

The survey suggests that 18 per cent of Britons are Pro-Am gardeners, six per cent are Pro-Am photographers and two per cent are Pro-Am alternative therapists.

When presented with a list of 20 pastimes, more than half of the regular participants in those hobbies said they had "good skills". Pro-Ams are more likely to be men than women, well educated and with an annual household income over £30,000.

The report says Pro-Am astronomers have made "significant contributions" to the knowledge of the universe, while Pro-Am computer programmers are providing the only serious challenge to Microsoft's dominance of personal computing.

The authors say the Government should invest in hobbies to build communities and called for companies to encourage staff to get involved by introducing hobby days. The Government should also designate a "national volunteering day" and a programme for 16- to 21-year-olds wanting to spend a year on voluntary activities.

Mr Leadbeater – a self-confessed tennis obsessive who believes the rise in Am-Drams is linked to a growing disillusion with work – said: "The terms geeks and nerds describe some of the participants, but most of the activities are not obsessive.

"Quite a lot are social because you do them through clubs. Amateur dramatics people may be nerds, but they are collaborating. Astronomy can be pretty nerdy, but there are all sorts of astronomy societies and online communities."

Alison Maguire, the former artistic director of a Pro-Am theatre company, said the hobby was anything but amateur.

"We set high standards that we expect people to match," she said. "The process of casting is just like in the professional theatre."

29-11-04, 01:27 PM
"Amateur" is often used as a term to describe quality or skill. "Amateur" means someone who does something for the love of it rather than being paid and should have no reflection on how good something or someone is.

Oh no, have I become a pedant?

29-11-04, 01:39 PM
Mmm.. I am a conservative am I? I have a Blue Peter badge.....

The wonderful thing about marketing is you can make up bollocks and someone somewhere will take you seriously because you have a string of letters after your name.

Good marketing is where you stop grouping people into segments and start treating them as individuals. We all thought the Internet would do that....

But what do I know (jack shit to be honest...!!)

Chris (MA International Marketing) MCIM

Mr T.
04-04-05, 11:22 PM
Free love is fine - but watch out for the wibbles
(Filed: 04/04/2005)

'Polyamory' is the latest fashion for multiple partners, reports Celia Hall

They believe in free love and multiple relationships, but not casual sex - and enjoy feeling "frubbly".

As a group they practise "polyamory" - the latest social phenomenon to cross the Atlantic to Britain, psychologists heard yesterday.

Polyamorists have relationships that are wide open. Despite having numerous partners at any one time, they are emotionally committed and do not cheat on them.

Ani Ritchie and Dr Meg Barker of the South Bank University, London, told the British Psychological Society annual conference in Manchester yesterday that up to 2,000 British men and women were openly polyamorous.

Dr Barker - who admitted to having four current lovers of both sexes - said 200 people had subscribed to a UK mailing list and that a worldwide internet search would reveal 170,000 links.

"Polyamory is the belief that it's acceptable or even ideal to have more than one loving or sexual partner," she said. "There's an emphasis on the recognition of multiple important relationships - it's not about casual sex.

"Having multiple partners is usually seen in a very negative light, but this is a positive way for people to have more than one relationship."

Dr Barker said she was bisexual and had four sexual partners: two main lovers, a man and a woman with whom she lived alternately, and another man and a woman who were both "regular lovers".

All her lovers - and their lovers - accepted each other, she said, admitting that time management was her biggest problem.

Polys, as practitioners of polyamory term themselves, now need new words to describe their emotions and actions, Dr Barker said.

Some terms have been coined already. "Ethical slut" is used to define a woman in an open multiple relationship and is an attempt to take the stigma out of "slut". Feeling "frubbly" is described as the opposite to feeling jealous and is used to describe feelings of friendship towards a lover and their other partners, who are called "metamours".

A "wibble" is a jealous feeling but "not a massive sexual threat", Dr Barker said. "We are interested in another language," she told the conference. "The question is, when you are not having a standard relationship, what do you do for words? There are no words for what we do."

She admitted that some monogamous friends found the "concept of primary partners and secondary partners" difficult. "It is hard to get support from people in monogamous relationships. I do have monogamous friends and after a while they settle to the idea," she said.

Jealousy appears to be a harder nut to crack. "You do feel jealousy when a partner begins a new relationship. But if I say I need to be reassured, it is all right. It is possible not to be sexually jealous."

She added: "Some people are so unhappily single. Polyamory takes away the pressure of one person having to be all things to the other.

"Certainly there are many people who are closet polys. There are relationships where the husband has a lover and the wife agrees so long as it is not talked about - don't ask, don't tell."

05-04-05, 07:37 AM
Generation Jones is given a name at last

They were raised on Valerie Singleton and The Waltons, queued around the block to see Jaws and had their world shaken by the Moon landings, punk and the Falklands conflict. True

The children of the late 1950s and 1960s, too young to be baby boomers but too old to be part of Generation X, have at last been given a name: Generation Jones. Hurrah

They are anyone aged from 39 to 50 whose likes and dislikes are heavily defined by the 1970s and early 1980s. Stating the obvious there a bit

The Joneses, only 62 per cent of whom are married, have the highest personal and household income of any age bracket in the country. Really????

Last year they spent £1,000 per head on holidays, more than £3,000 on furniture and put a total of £16 billion on their credit cards.Yes, No, Probably

Just call me Mrs Radical Jones then :D

05-04-05, 07:58 AM
Mmm.. I am a conservative am I? I have a Blue Peter badge.....

The wonderful thing about marketing is you can make up bollocks and someone somewhere will take you seriously because you have a string of letters after your name.

Good marketing is where you stop grouping people into segments and start treating them as individuals. We all thought the Internet would do that....

But what do I know (jack shit to be honest...!!)

Chris (MA International Marketing) MCIM
I make up bollocks all the time, noone's taken me seriously yet!

JLWarlow BSc (Hons)

Mr T.
13-04-05, 02:49 AM
Hospital lawyers target 'ambulance chasers'
By Nick Britten
(Filed: 13/04/2005)

A hospital is locked in a fight with a team of "ambulance-chasing" lawyers who have been targeting its accident and emergency unit trying to sign up new clients.

One patient with a broken leg was approached by an agent and asked how he suffered the injury and if he wanted to sue.

An off-duty policeman even had to escort a claims chaser out of a ward as he distributed key-rings, leaflets and business cards.

Now, after six months of patients being harassed, the Chesterfield Royal Hospital has called in its own lawyers. A spokesman said: "They have been approaching patients, asking them how they came about their injuries, was it their fault and if they want to sue. We have had several complaints from patients. These people are also handing out official-looking leaflets with an NHS-type logo which makes it look as if the hospital is endorsing their actions.

"Now we have called in our own legal team. We have tried the polite approach and it has not worked so we are taking legal action against them.

"Patients are here because they are ill and they don't want to be harassed. Some may want to make a claim over an accident but this is not the place to do it."

The hospital has found it difficult to trace which law firms are targeting the building as they have been operating under different names.

The unsolicited "no win, no fee" reps are believed to be from the same company.

Allan Carr
13-04-05, 06:51 AM
"Amateur" is often used as a term to describe quality or skill. "Amateur" means someone who does something for the love of it rather than being paid and should have no reflection on how good something or someone is.

Oh no, have I become a pedant?

And "Professional" is someone who does it for money - should be an indication of quality but these days can be sadly misleading!

Mr T.
26-04-05, 01:28 AM
The final bill for an adult life is £1.5m
By Becky Barrow
(Filed: 26/04/2005)

The total cost of adult life, from paying the mortgage to taking the dog to the vet, has been estimated at more than £1.5 million.

After interviewing more than 2,200 people about their spending habits, the Prudential has calculated that typical adults spend £1,537,450 from 18 onwards.

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Life for Londoners is even more financially crippling, with higher prices raising the average cost of living to more than £2 million, including £45,000 on cleaners and nannies - six times more than the rest of the country.

The findings will disturb the majority of people who practise the ostrich approach to finance: never opening bank bills and refusing to save money for the future. Such people, whose income rarely manages to match their outgoings, have no idea how much they spend every month and certainly not throughout their lives.

The findings show how much money is taken up by the most mundane matters. The total cost of utility bills: £101,760. Total tax bill, including National Insurance and council tax: £286,311. Of the £1.5 million, the biggest expenditure - £552,772 - goes on basics: the mortgage, food, clothing and home improvements.

The total tax bill of £286,311 comes second, followed by £236,312 on leisure, holidays, hobbies and eating out.

Other significant costs include a £63,414 bill for a smoker who does not manage to kick the habit and £12,200 for looking after pets.

The total figure would have been higher if researchers from YouGov had not assumed that all expenses up to the age of 18 were covered by parents.

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Nor did they take inflation into account, basing the "true cost of life", as they call it, on average annual spending at today's prices.

Life is at its most expensive between the age of 35 and 44 when many families with young children and a large mortgage cannot keep up. Often salaries peak around that age.

The researchers' calculations show that the average true cost of living for a woman is nearly £400,000 less than a man's. The difference stems from the fact that a man's total tax bill is nearly £180,000 higher because a woman is much more likely to take time off to look after children.

Men are also much better at saving and investing, contributing £123,948 during their lifetime, more than double the amount that a woman does.

As well as tax and investments, men spend at least two-and-a-half times more than women on electrical equipment such as iPods, DVD players and television sets. A man is also likely to spend two thirds more than a woman when buying a car.

Men are more indulgent on entertainment, spending nearly £100,000 compared with £60,000 for women.

They are also the more charitable sex, giving nearly £8,500 to good causes over a lifetime compared with £6,400 for women.

The most disturbing finding is that people spend £409,575 between retirement age at 65 and their death, equal to roughly £20,700 a year based on current mortality rates. Because of the length of time we spend as pensioners - typically 18 years for a man and 21 years for a woman - retirement is almost twice as expensive as any of the six other "financial ages".

The ages start with the Burning Years between 18 and 24 when money is for spending, not saving. At this age, more money goes on leisure and luxuries than at any other time in life.

The final stage is the Yearning Years from 65 onwards when "many wish they had invested and planned more for retirement".

Angus Maciver, a director of Prudential UK, said: "Personal debt is at an all-time high and more people than ever face poverty when they retire.

"We conducted this survey so that we could understand where all the money goes and highlight the need for financial planning."

He said that many people were "sleepwalking" their way into retirement.

Mr T.
29-04-05, 02:05 AM
Thousands more 'downshifters' join exodus from cities
By Sarah Womack, Social Affairs Correspondent
(Filed: 29/04/2005)

The number of people apparently "downshifting" was unveiled yesterday as figures showed that more than 260,000 had left London to live elsewhere.

Almost 263,000 moved out of the capital, but only 153,000 moved in, said the Office for National Statistics.

The region with the largest net influx was the South West, with almost 33,000 arriving in the year to June 2003.

Around 22,000 people moved to the East Midlands, followed by the East of England with almost 18,000. Wales saw a net migration of 15,000 and Scotland 7,000, with Northern Ireland stable.

Overall, England saw a net population fall of more than 22,000. Apart from the capital, the only other area to witness a net fall was the West Midlands, which "lost" almost 5,000 residents. Around 102,000 people moved out but only 97,000 moved in.

Figures are based on the number of people re-registering with NHS doctors, and do not include arrivals from abroad.

Previous studies suggested growing numbers of middle class families with young children were abandoning cities for the suburbs and beyond because of crime, housing costs and poor state education.

Migrationwatch, the immigration think-tank, published research this month that said a growing race divide was separating inner cities from the suburbs and countryside.

It suggested white people were moving out of a number of towns and cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Bradford while ethnic minority populations were growing fast, a phenomenon known in America as "white flight".

Figures published by the ONS last November showed a record number of people moved abroad in 2003. The estimated figure reached 191,000 - a new high.

Despite increasing pressure to earn and spend more, about a quarter of adults aged 30 to 59 have voluntarily made a long-term change in their lives that resulted in them earning an average of 40 per cent less, according to an academic study into the phenomenon of downshifting.

People are not leaving cities for the idyllic countryside existence promoted on television - the trend is predominantly a suburban phenomenon. The three principal methods of downshifting are reducing working hours, stopping work altogether and changing careers.

The study by Clive Hamilton, a visiting scholar at Cambridge University, and the British Market Research Bureau, measured the reaction to the consumer culture and found women were more likely to change than men and that downshifters were more likely to be in their 30s.

The survey dispels the myth that shifting is confined to middle-aged wealthier individuals who have accumulated substantial assets and can afford the financial risk.

Downshifters are spread fairly evenly across age groups and social grades, with only a slightly higher proportion being from the highest social grades A and B.

More than a quarter surveyed who switched in the past decade did so fairly recently, suggesting a strong rising trend.

The most common reason was to spend more time with family and to recapture control over their time.

Dr Hamilton, said the research uncovered a large class of citizens who consciously reject consumerism and material aspirations.

"They do it because the excessive pursuit of money and materialism comes at a substantial cost to their lives and those of their families.

"This challenges the political parties to question their most fundamental assumptions about what makes for a better society."

Mr T.
23-05-05, 02:57 AM
Sisters pregnant at 12, 14 and 16. So what does their mother do? She blames the school
By Hugh Davies
(Filed: 23/05/2005)

Three sisters have each had children while still at school, the youngest at the age of 12.

Jemma, Jade and Natasha Williams, who receive benefits totalling more than £31,000 a year, are raising their babies alone after they became pregnant within three months of each other.

The sisters, aged 12, 14 and 16 when they gave birth, live in Derby with their twice-divorced mother, who holds the education system responsible for their plight.

"I blame the schools - sex education for young girls should be better," said Julie Atkins, 38. "More and more kids are getting pregnant younger and younger and sex education needs to start a lot earlier.

"If I could turn the clock back I would definitely prefer them to not have children as their education is so important. They've all ruined their lives because they are all too young to have children."

Jemma, the youngest sister, was the first to become pregnant, giving birth to her son T-Jay in February last year. Then, in November, Natasha, 16, who had already had two miscarriages and an abortion, had Amani. The next month, Jade, 14, gave birth to daughter Lita.

Jemma and Jade, who is about to take her GCSEs, are still in school.

The family lives rent-free in a three-bedroom council house, which they claim is too cramped. Their mother claims benefit for Jade and Jemma, now 15, as well as for their children. However, she said that day-to-day life was a struggle.

"It's really difficult to survive on what we have," she said. "My average shopping bill is £90 a week, and then there's all that extra stuff like toys, nappies and medicine.

"The house is far too small. I have to share a bedroom with Natasha and Amani which is very cramped. Hopefully we may be able to get a bigger house, but who knows?"

Mrs Atkins, who had her first child at 20, said she was astonished that her daughters had become pregnant so young. "It just doesn't seem possible," she said.

"I was so shocked when I found out about Jemma. She thought I would hit the roof and didn't tell me for seven months. I only found out when I took her to buy a new bra and as she was being measured I saw her huge bump."

Jemma said: "I didn't tell anyone because I was too scared and didn't know what to do. I only told my boyfriend, who was 14 at the time, but I didn't want to have an abortion.

"He was my first love. He was great to start with, but he's got a new girlfriend now. I was so frightened when I went into hospital to have my baby. It was so painful and I was in labour for three days."

Jade said she had been determined not to do the same, after seeing all the dirty nappies and her sister enduring sleepless nights. But she became pregnant after "a one-night stand".

She said: "It was just one of those things really. I wasn't using contraception and I suppose I just thought it wouldn't happen to me."

Natasha said her pregnancy, while unplanned, had pleased her. "I don't really want to be anything but a full-time mum," she said.

The father, 38, came to see the child "from time to time", but "he's Asian and still lives with his parents, so they don't know about me or Amani".

Earlier this year, the Government's tax and benefit system was said to be responsible for making Britain the single-parent capital of the world.

The Centre for Policy Studies think-tank said married couples on average weekly salaries were only £1 better off than single mothers who never worked and had no contact with the father of their children.

Mr T.
01-06-05, 10:35 PM
This chilli is so hot, you'd have to drink 250,000 gallons of water just to put out the fire
By James Langton in New York
(Filed: 08/05/2005)

"We live in an extreme world," explains Blair Lazar, a hot sauce creator. "And I make extreme foods.' In his hands is the hottest spice in the world, an ultra-refined version of chilli powder so fiery that customers must sign a waiver absolving him of any liability if they are foolish enough to try it.

Locked in a crystal flask sealed with wax and a tiny skull, Mr Lazar's mouth-blistering concoction is pure capsaicin - the chemical that lends habanero and jalapeno peppers their thermo nuclear heat.
Blair Lazar: to taste his sauce is to experience ‘pure heat’

His "16 Million Reserve", which is released to the public this week, is the holy grail of hot sauces, the hottest that chemistry can create.

It is 30 times hotter than the spiciest pepper, the Red Savina from Mexico, and 8,000 times stronger than Tabasco sauce. To put the tiniest speck on the tip of your tongue is to experience "pure heat", Mr Lazar says.

Although capsaicin does not actually burn - it fools your brain into thinking that you are in pain by stimulating nerve endings in your mouth - some medical experts believe that it could kill an asthmatic or hospitalise a user who touched his eyes or other sensitive parts of the anatomy.

Mr Lazar has trained his palate to endure the sensation, but he remembers the moment he dared to taste his "16 Million Reserve".

"The pain was exquisite," he said. "It was like having your tongue hit with a hammer. Man, it hurt. My tongue swelled up and it hurt like hell for days."
The Scoville Scale measures the heat of peppers

The eye-watering qualities of peppers are measured in internationally recognised Scoville units, developed by Wilbur Scoville, an American chemist who, in 1912, asked tasters to evaluate how many parts of sugar water it took to neutralise capsaicin heat.

Today, capsaicin content is measured in parts per million, using a process known as high-performance liquid chromatography; one part being equivalent to 15 Scoville units. Benign bell peppers rate zero Scoville units and the Red Savina entered Guinness World Records at 570,000 units.

Pure capsaicin, meanwhile, has a heat score of 16 million units - inspiring the name for Mr Lazar's latest creation. Each of the 999 limited-edition bottles, priced at $199 (£105), contains just a few crystals. The powder is so strong, however, that Mr Lazar estimates that it would have to be dissolved in 250,000 gallons of water before it could no longer be tasted.

His career as a hot sauce creator began when he found that the best way to clear drunks out of his seaside bar was to give them free chicken wings dipped in an eye-watering home-made hot sauce.

Now he runs Extreme Foods in New Jersey, selling his existing range, including "Mega Death" and "Jersey Death", the latter, according to Mr Lazar, being the world's hottest usable condiment.

He keeps a fridge full of iced spring water in his office for those brave enough to try some. Most tasters sweat heavily and are unable to see for tears for up to half an hour.

It takes several tons of fresh peppers to produce 1lb of capsaicin for the 16 Million Reserve, and the work takes months. First, moisture is removed from the fresh peppers until a thick tar-like substance remains.

The means by which all further impurities are eliminated, leaving pure capsaicin powder, is a trade secret, but the work takes place in a laboratory where Mr Lazar and his team wear sealed suits with masks to avoid inhaling the dust.

Five years ago Mr Lazar created "2am Reserve" in honour of the hour at which he once closed his bar. It was hotter than any other chilli product on the market, measuring up to 900,000 Scoville units.

He then distilled even stronger chilli extracts, including the scorching "6am Reserve" at 10 million units. Most of the signed and numbered bottles of "16 Million Reserve" will be bought by aficionados known as chilli heads.

Buyers have to sign a disclaimer warning that any handling "must be under a controlled environment using protective gloves and safety eye wear".

"It shouldn't be used for flavour," says Mr Lazar. "The only function is its heat value." He prefers not to speculate on what might happen should anyone be foolish enough to down an entire bottle. Rinsing the mouth with milk is among the best remedies as the capsaicin binds to fat molecules; it will also dissolve in alcohol.

Internet sites such as the hot sauce weblog and have been abuzz with talk about this week's release, with many collectors planning to buy at least two bottles - one to display and the other to try.

But one chilli head who obtained an early sample dropped a single grain into a pan of tomato soup. After persuading his wife to try a spoonful, he reported that: "She threatened divorce once she could speak again.''

01-06-05, 11:29 PM
What a thourghly depressing thread. I KNOW that we did thins difrent from those that went before us, and I can see that those that followed are followers. Take music as an example, WE did things different, Punk, New Romantices, Scar, Two tone etc. but all I see in my childrens music is either covers of the late 70s/early 80s or copies of the style. Except where they have chosen the originals (My 17yo has copies of the sex pistols and bowie (nearly all of his early work)).

I was promised a job for life[tm] and a Final salary pension. I beleied them (more fool me) and now that I've spent 27 years with them, they tell me that a) I'm paid to much, b)I have tow much holiday c) my benefits package is to generous and d) (the killer) my pension fund is not mine at all, but theirs, and if they decide it's to expnsive then they'll change it. FFS

So I've invested my life in shaping the future, to be told that the futures not mine ro reap!


Beardy Jones

Mr T.
06-06-05, 04:40 PM

Gotta say, Euro-sceptic that I am, that this is where virtually every European town and city has the drop on the UK - all our major conurbations, cities and towns have been ruined by the blandness of the 'one size fits all' and "cookie-cutter" approach to 'designing' (if that's not too grand a word for what is is obviously a no thought gone into this set of affairs) the towns where we live.

Ruined by McD, KFC and every other brand name retail out-lets, there is now nothing to differentiate them from any other town or city in the country.

Give me mainland Europe's approach any day and vive la difference!!

06-06-05, 05:23 PM
Give me mainland Europe's approach any day and vive la difference!!

Ah hah meester Breen you at last the light she have seen!!

Ingland, the land of the green pheasants, she long time ago lose the civic pride. Where she make the <<grandes projectes>>? The big tent thing in the green witch? You too much like the americanos. Meester Regan and the free market.

You like here the beeldings I like you feesh and chips.


Mr T.
05-08-05, 07:48 PM
Tokyo internet cafes offer B&B for only £7 (That's without breakfast and, oh yes, there's no bed either)

By Colin Joyce in Tokyo
(Filed: 05/08/2005)

For generations of Japanese "salarymen" a night in a capsule hotel was almost a rite of passage.

But the younger generation is now rejecting the option of sleeping in a coffin-sized hole in the wall in favour of a far cheaper and more convenient option: the all-night internet cafe.

Cafes specifically designed to attract overnight customers have proliferated in the past two years.

By day, they function in much the same way as an internet cafe in Britain. But by night, they are transformed into dormitories full of exhausted office workers and boozy revellers who prefer to pay £7 to pass the small hours in a private cubicle than fork out up to £50 for a taxi home.

Though Tokyo is a 24-hour city, its public transport shuts down by 1am, leaving notoriously expensive taxis as the only way back to the far-flung suburbs where most Japanese live.

The cafe chains have taken on many of the little comforts and conveniences of a hotel. Media Cafe Popeye, which has several branches, has private booths with locks and a combination mini-safe.

There is just enough space to lie back in the reclining seat while you put your feet on the footrest. Blankets, cushions, slippers and an alarm clock can be borrowed for free but earplugs and eye-masks are £1.

You can help yourself to 50 varieties of soft drinks. Other machines dispense food, including such delicacies as octopus chunks in dough for £2. Showers are free.

The cafes have sought to avoid the "for men-only" reputation that dogs capsule hotels. Popeye cafes have women-only areas and appeal to female custom with luxuries such as nail salons, tanning machines and massage chairs.

Saeko Takasugi, a 23-year-old office worker who missed her last train after drinking with colleagues, said: "I chose to stay at a cafe because it was under £10 compared to £30 in a taxi. It was clean and surprisingly good for sleeping. You can fully extend your legs.

"Then in the morning you can get coffee and juice while checking the internet. Young people now never go to capsule hotels: they look scary and so poky."

Tokyo fully deserves its reputation as the world's most expensive city but at £7, the "chair hotels" are much cheaper than the new easyHotel's £20-a-night shoe-box rooms in London. They are part of a culture that, after more than a decade of recession, appeals to a nation that has become adept at finding ingenious ways to save the pennies and has seen companies that cater to the thrifty consumer flourish.

A night spent sleeping in your clothes requires a certain tolerance for discomfort, but many find it preferable to cutting short an evening out to spend an hour on a packed train home, with the prospect of making the same journey back into work a few hours later.

For the cafes themselves, the economics are simple. The rent is the same even if they close at midnight and the facilities need little tweaking to attract a whole new batch of clientele after the internet users go home.

The traditional capsule hotel, by contrast, lies empty during the day and must charge at least £20.

Mr T.
07-08-05, 12:17 AM
Bankruptcy 'now a lifestyle choice'
By Malcolm Moore, Economics Correspondent
(Filed: 06/08/2005)

Declaring bankruptcy is now nothing more than a lifestyle choice, accountants said yesterday as Government figures showed a rise of almost 40 per cent in the number of personal insolvencies.

The Department of Trade and Industry said 15,394 people went bankrupt between April and June, a 12 per cent increase on the first three months of the year, and a 37 per cent rise on the same period last year.
Credit card borrowing in Britain now stands at £34 billion

So far this year, more than 40,000 people in England and Wales have declared themselves bankrupt - the highest total for a half-year since records began in 1960.

Much of the blame lies on the £1,000 billion that consumers have borrowed to fund an "unsustainable champagne lifestyle", according to Mike Gerrard, an insolvency expert at the accountants Grant Thornton. "The mountain of personal debt has no peak in sight", while "excessive credit and store card use" continued, he said.

Other accountants forecast that the number of bankruptcies would double this year. Several high street banks have given warning that they may have lent too much money too carelessly. Yesterday, Barclays was the latest bank to say that it had increased the amount of money it sets aside to pay for bad debts, by 20 per cent to £706 million.

The bank said profits at its consumer banking business had fallen, and that Barclaycard, its credit card arm, had seen a 17 per cent fall in its revenues to £379 million as consumers began to rein in their spending.

Credit card borrowing now stands at £34 billion, but there are increasing signs that people are choosing to save more. In April, borrowers repaid £40 million on their cards in total.

Stephen Grant, a partner at the accountants Wilkins Kennedy, said the huge rise in the number of bankruptcies was because the Government had removed much of the stigma of the process.

"Much of the pain and shame of a bankruptcy has gone," he said.

"The change has encouraged some people to view the process as more of a lifestyle choice than a last resort."

Mr Grant said an increasing number of young people, such as graduates with significant student loans, felt that they had nothing to lose by building up and writing off debts.

Last year, a change in the law under the Enterprise Act reduced the bankruptcy term from three years to one. The change was designed by Peter Mandelson, when he was trade secretary, in order to help entrepreneurs quickly get back on their feet.

Since the Act was passed, there has been an almost exponentially steep rise in the number of applicants for bankruptcy. It is now possible to fill in the necessary forms on the internet, without having to engage lawyers or accountants.

The bankruptcy figures, much like mortgage repossession figures, affect too few people to give any real information about the state of the economy. But John Butler, an economist at HSBC, said it was "worrying" that bankruptcies should be rising at a time of "high employment and low interest rates".

There were also 3,342 company liquidations in England and Wales during the quarter, an increase of 12.5 per cent on the first three months of the year, and six per cent higher than a year ago.

Mr T.
07-08-05, 12:29 AM
Condoms 'low priority for young on holiday'
By Nina Goswami
(Filed: 07/08/2005)

Having perfectly styled hair appears to be more important to young women going on their summer break than safe sex, according to research.

The study of 1,000 single men and women aged 18 to 30, commissioned by the Department of Health, found that almost half of the women hoped to have one or more sexual partners on holiday. Yet only 18 per cent packed condoms, far fewer than the 33 per cent who packed hair straighteners.

Similarly, while almost two thirds of men anticipated sleeping with between one and three partners, they were more likely to take sticking plasters than contraceptives. Just 28 per cent of men packed condoms compared with the 48 per cent who took plasters.

Two fifths of the men and women expecting to have sex believed that they had a low risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection, even if they were unprotected.

Dr Petra Boynton, a sex psychologist and spokesman for, the DoH-backed group which conducted the research, said that there is still a lack of education about how to have safe sex.

Last year, almost 700,000 cases of sexually transmitted diseases were diagnosed in England and Wales, according to the Health Protection Agency.

Mr T.
07-08-05, 12:33 AM
NHS offers balding women hair extensions
By Elizabeth Day
(Filed: 07/08/2005)

The stress of modern life has led to an alarming increase in the number of younger women going bald.

Thirty thousand women a year in Europe - an estimated 2,250 of them in Britain, double the number of a decade ago - suffer from alopecia, or premature baldness, and those suffering significant hair loss runs into millions.
£500 treatment: the hair extensions are woven into a gauze mesh fixed to the patient's scalp

Although the exact cause of alopecia is unknown, the growing number of cases is thought to be due to increased levels of stress among women attempting to juggle family and professional responsibilities.

Elizabeth Steel, the director of Hairline International, a society for alopecia sufferers, said that hectic lifestyles and crash dieting were among the likely causes. "There is no single cause, but one reason some women develop the condition is through an iron deficiency," she said. "This can be caused by crash or yo-yo dieting, and a lifestyle that is becoming common in 30-something women: working long hours, not eating properly and leading stressful lives, which runs the body down."

Alopecia can also be triggered by certain birth control pills or an over active immune system.

Princess Caroline of Monaco famously shaved her head in 1995 after suffering hair loss, possibly from the stress of losing her husband in a speedboat accident.

Now the NHS has registered its first hair extensions therapist to tackle the problem. Unlike wigs, the hair extensions can be woven into a gauze mesh fixed to the scalp and can be brushed and styled as if they were the patient's real hair. The extensions need to be replaced every three months.

Lucinda Ellery, a hair loss treatment studio in Hammersmith, west London, receives funding and support from a number of primary care trusts throughout the UK, enabling GPs to refer patients who might be experiencing emotional trauma from their hair loss for free hair extensions.

Miss Ellery, 50, who lost two thirds of her hair after her father died when she was 10, said that she treats approximately one NHS patient a week with extensions that can cost anything from £320 to £500.

"It means that women who might not have the money can at last be treated properly," she said. "Many women who come to me have had doctors ignore them or have spent years trying to hide their alopecia. There is a great deal of ignorance and trivialisation. A woman's hair is her crowning glory, a symbol of fertility and health. Without it, you can feel quite pathetic."

Lucinda Ellery is also able to treat cancer patients who have lost their hair through chemotherapy and women who suffer from impulsive hair pulling, or trichotillomania.

Earlier this year, the pop singer Victoria Beckham was believed to be suffering from trichotillomania and had hair extensions put in.

Catherine Wallace, a 40-year-old therapist from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, was referred to Lucinda Ellery by her doctor after losing much of her hair over 20 years.

"It started when I was 18 after my uncle Michael died," she said. "It was a gradual thinning made worse by several dietary allergies. A friend noticed that my hair was getting thinner and advised I see a doctor who told me that I had alopecia. I remember walking out of the surgery and feeling like a freak.

"I was always very conscious of it and used to backcomb my hair to try and disguise it. I went to see Lucinda three years ago and it transformed me. I now live a normal life and every six weeks I go down to have the adjustments done. It's essential that this treatment exists on the NHS because there are so many girls out there living half a life. Your hair is part of your sexuality and your glamour and without it you can feel like your whole word has come apart. It is a very isolating experience."

However, one doctor, who refused to be named, said that getting hair extensions on the NHS was "the thin end of the wedge".

"I don't object to women getting treated for a genuine illness, but I do worry that this will end up with women who simply want to have nicer hair claiming they're experiencing emotional trauma. After all, we already have people getting boob jobs on the health service."

Mr T.
11-08-05, 02:24 AM
1 in 25 men in dark as they raise others' children
By Celia Hall, Medical Editor
(Filed: 11/08/2005)

One father in 25 could unknowingly be bringing up a child who is not his own, says new research that suggests a rise in genetic testing has opened a Pandora's box of sexual secrets and lies.

Genetic testing for diseases in families is growing and can reveal a child's real paternity, leaving doctors to decide how much to disclose to the family.

One of the authors of the study, Prof Mark Bellis, of the centre for public health at Liverpool John Moores University, said: "Twenty years ago doctors would have tended not to tell when they came across this information unless it was important for the health of the child.

"But advances in genetics mean that there is now more pressure for a child to know who his or her biological parents are."

The study found that the general rate of what Prof Bellis calls "paternal discrepancy" across western populations was usually given as about 10 per cent. But his work, based on studies between 1950 and last year, which gave proof of paternity through blood or DNA testing, found rates as low as one per cent and as high as 30 per cent, with a median of four per cent.

That means that paternity could be disputed in 24,000 out of 600,000 live births in England and Wales each year.

Paternity testing using DNA screening is requested by immigration authorities for some immigrant family members who want to live in Britain and for paternity payments when families have broken up and are in dispute.

It is also used by many thousands of suspicious or curious men and women who pay about £200 to paternity testing companies.

About 10,000 tests are said to be carried out in Britain every year and that figure is rising. When people approach private companies, requests are often based on suspicion and the man is found not to be the father in about 30 per cent of cases.

Prof Bellis, writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, says that the problem of disclosure and the consequences to family members have received too little attention. "For any father, identifying that the child he is raising as his biological progeny is sired by another can have serious health consequences. Such knowledge can also destroy families, affecting the health of the child and mother and that of any man who is ultimately identified as the biological parent."

Prof Bellis added yesterday: "There is no national guidance on how this DNA information should be handled."

The research says that in cases of paternal discrepancy the mothers are likely to be younger than average.

"No clear population measures of paternal discrepancy are available," Prof Bellis said. "However, recent trends in sexual health suggest that unprotected sex and multiple partners are comparatively common occurrences, with a large proportion of conceptions still unplanned."

The Families Need Fathers charity said the problem of a father seeking access to a child found not to be his own had not been tested in the courts. But Jim Parton, a spokesman, said: "We believe that a father wishing to continue to bring up that child will have a strong case."

Mr T.
13-08-05, 02:43 AM
Shameful secret in the shadow of Uluru (Ayers Rock)
By Nick Squires
(Filed: 13/08/2005)

It symbolises the harsh grandeur of the Outback and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, but the great red rock of Uluru hides a shameful secret that Australia's tourism promoters would rather the world did not see.

Just a few hundred yards from the giant monolith lies an impoverished desert settlement in which Aborigines are slowly poisoning themselves to death by sniffing petrol.
The tiny community of Mutitjulu lies barely 300 yards from Uluru

The habit slowly melts the nerve endings in their brains, crippling them and confining them to wheelchairs.

But despite the risks, some young Aboriginal girls are prepared to prostitute themselves for the price of a can of petrol, so desperate are they for the "highs" it brings when sniffed, community workers say.

Some addicts have been badly burned after the petrol they were sniffing caught fire.

The crisis is playing out in the tiny community of Mutitjulu, which lies barely 300 yards from Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. It is part of an epidemic of petrol sniffing among desert Aborigines which has claimed at least 60 lives in the past seven years. Social workers believe the number of petrol sniffers has tripled since the late 1990s.

Mutitjulu's Aborigines belong to the Anangu tribe and are the traditional custodians of Uluru but, 130 years after the rock was first stumbled on by British explorers, they live in poverty and squalor. Hidden in dense bush land, the settlement is all but invisible to the tourists who flock to Australia's most recognisable natural feature.

"No one gives a damn," Bob Randall, the director of the local health clinic, told The Australian newspaper. "Everybody comes here to see the rock."

The scale of the problem was uncovered this week by an inquest into the deaths from petrol sniffing of three Aborigines, the youngest aged 14. Two of them died in Mutitjulu. Of the community's 400 inhabitants, about 40 are regular sniffers.

Aboriginal elders told the inquiry that they were powerless to prevent young people from sniffing petrol and destroying their health. "We can't stop it," one of them, Sarah Goodwin, said. "When they sniff, they don't listen to anyone."

The hearing, held beneath a tree, was interrupted by Mrs Goodwin's son, Stephen Uluru, who sat in the dust sniffing fumes from a can.

"I just like to stay at home and sniff so that I'm oblivious to everything, so that I don't have to worry about anything," he said. "I have a son and daughter but I don't have contact with them, I just stay here and sniff."

The sight of Mr Uluru sniffing petrol so distressed the Northern Territory coroner, Greg Cavanagh, that he cancelled the rest of the day's hearing.

Health experts say the petrol-sniffing epidemic reflects the despair felt by many Aborigines, who suffer from poor health, limited education and high unemployment.

"Petrol sniffing is causing serious social harm in the community," Greg Andrews, a social worker, said. "Young people are trying to hang themselves off the church steeple and others are exchanging petrol for sex."

As the owners of Uluru, the Aborigines of Mutitjulu receive about a fifth of the millions of pounds spent each year by visitors to the area.

The inquest was told that most of the money had been wasted on alcohol, drugs and cars, which are abandoned as soon as they break down. A few hundred yards away lies a massive car dump.

The government has tried to tackle the epidemic by providing remote communities with a new type of petrol which does not give addicts a "high" when sniffed.

Mark Davies
13-08-05, 02:51 PM
1 in 25 men in dark as they raise others' children
By Celia Hall, Medical Editor
(Filed: 11/08/2005)

It is also used by many thousands of suspicious or curious men and women who pay about £200 to paternity testing companies.

Obviously some girls having a really good time out there if they honestly don't know. Why do I never seem to meet them?

Dave Crampton
13-08-05, 03:17 PM
Obviously some girls having a really good time out there if they honestly don't know. Why do I never seem to meet them?
They see the Uniform mate and run a mile.


13-08-05, 03:58 PM
Obviously some girls having a really good time out there if they honestly don't know. Why do I never seem to meet them?

I think these are the ones being helped at casualty the other night......

Mark Davies
13-08-05, 04:07 PM
They see the Uniform mate and run a mile.

Some quite like it! ;)

13-08-05, 04:44 PM
Some quite like it! ;)
Must be the handcuffs and side handled baton... :D

Mr T.
29-08-05, 03:27 AM
Your dinner's in the post . . . and it tastes like a marathon runner's shoe
By Jan Moir
(Filed: 29/08/2005)

Somewhere out there, someone is ordering poached eggs by post from a Dorset food company called Cornucopia. Elsewhere, vans from the London-based Food Ferry are trundling around the country, delivering ready-made gourmet dinners, complete with "ambient" sauces, to customers who can't get it to together to grill a steak or dress a salad, or even open a tin themselves.

For those without the wherewithal to locate a fruit or plain scone in the vicinity of their home, Seriously Good in Padstow will post you a six-scone Cornish cream tea for £17. You have to spread on the strawberry jam yourself, but into every life a little rain must fall.
Food supplied by Cornucopia proved disappointing

Elsewhere a company called Deliverance, London's biggest cuisine delivery service, cooks and distributes more than 15,000 meals every week to sofa-bound idlers who can't be bothered to boil their own spaghetti. The Grocer on Elgin, Notting Hill's grooviest producer of ready-made meals, sells portions of steamed sea bass with harissa and miso, or wakame seaweed salad with prawns to locals who demand a maximum gourmet experience with minimum effort.

At least they managed to get down to the shop. For an increasing number of cash-rich, time poor customers, ready prepared meals ordered online or by phone are the answer to any catering headaches or kitchen performance anxieties.

These people may indeed own all Jamie's recipe books and the full set of Nigella's measuring bowls, but don't have time to shop or cook. And why should they, when anything from a three-bird roast to foie gras on toast or even a humble scone are available at the touch of a button?

However, the increasing trend is for complete dinner parties to be delivered to the doorstep, as companies pander to an ever-increasing customer base who hope that the words "entertain" and "strain" are never used in the same sentence again.
Cheers! But the final verdict on the whole meal is that it's thoroughly disgusting

Can this really be the beginning of a new, hassle-free culinary nirvana? Over the course of a weekend, my friend Louise Paul and I put our aprons away and two companies to the test.

Our first dinner party comes from Cornucopia, which is based in Shaftesbury, and promises "a selection of extremely high-quality foods which are easy to use and prepare". Bring it on!

Our order arrives in a coffin of white polystyrene and is a mixture of frozen and fresh items carefully buffeted with cold packs. Our menu comprises nibbles of smoked goose breast and some quail eggs (pre-cooked and peeled, for we are living the indolent gourmet dream and do not have time to mess about boiling eggs), followed by a starter of "giant prawns in a spice Indian sauce", a main course of braised veal and rosemary jus with tagliatelle and a "medley of crisp vegetables", then a wild bilberry tart for pudding.

I also order some Scottish oven-ready partridges because Cornucopia has a buy-four-get-four-free offer on and I never could resist a bargain. But hold hard. The partridge season hasn't even started yet this year. "Oh no," says the Cornucopia spokesman, "these were frozen last year." We stick four birds in the oven, including two specimens which excrete a grey, lava-like foam after being roasted. Louise tips them all in the bin.

We decide against serving the pre-sliced smoked goose breast, for although the Strasbourg manufacturer Edouard Artzner has a sell-by date of 20.04.05 stamped on the packet, someone has stuck another label on top claiming a sell-by date of 14.01.06. "Bin," says Louise.

Then we get cracking on the prawns by sliding them in their terracotta dishes into the oven and start on the main courses. Both the tagliatelle and the veal with rosemary jus are sous vide dishes, which means that they have been cooked at a low temperature in vaccum packed plastic bags, and now only need reheating in simmering water before being served.

A similar technique is much used by Heston Blumenthal at his three Michelin starred restaurant the Fat Duck, although I bet his finished meals don't smell like a boiled horse hoof in the way that ours does. "Open all the windows," gasps Louise, as we snip open the eight little packets.

We get everything ready, including the fruit tart, which looks like a Frisbee of damp sponge with rabbit droppings on top. Then we taste everything, and it is uniformly and thoroughly disgusting.

The eggs are like bullets, the prawns are truly evil, the vegetables are water-logged, the pasta is rubbery and the veal tastes like the very worst kind of school dinners, or perhaps something that has been nailed to a marathon runner's shoe. Then the wet crust falls off the fruit tart like some ancient monument crumbling into the sea - a suitable metaphor for a repast that has cost £103.97 including delivery, and is not fit to be served to your worst enemy.

Perhaps we will be luckier with the Food Ferry, which promises "good food smartly delivered", even though ours is dispatched in an old Pampers box, which is perhaps not the kind of epicurean imagery we are hoping for.

This time, we have opted for potted lobster with Poilane bread to start, followed by a mixed menu of chicken with lemon sauce, beef stroganoff, and lamb shanks in red wine, accompanied by roasted olive oil potatoes and Mediterranean vegetables.

For pudding, we will have organic treacle tart and some fresh cherries to follow which, the Food Ferry promises, are hand picked at New Covent Garden Market every morning. Really? Then why are ours from Sainsbury's, despite Food Ferry's anti-supermarket ethos and pledge to preserve small and independent suppliers?

The whole meal takes 30 minutes to prepare. The potted lobster smells and tastes off, while even though we are familiar with the dense and chewy nature of Polaine bread, there's no doubt that this loaf is stale. Louise screams when she sees the beef stroganoff: "It's like two possums in the gutter; it's like road kill." It's true that the dry, grey worms of meat are not the tastiest or most appetising.

The chicken is actually pretty good - the only properly decent thing we sample - while the lamb shanks are not bad, but the acidic, fruity sauce with them renders them inedible and the roast potatoes have been burnt at source. The treacle tart, which looked so promising and so winningly home made, tastes like sugar-enriched wallpaper paste. "Bin," says Louise, in the now familiar refrain.

We are shocked and appalled by the poor quality and bad value of all this. And we are still hungry. Louise makes an omelette and pours a glass of wine. It takes about five minutes to make a fresh and simple meal that we both enjoy.

Mr T.
29-08-05, 03:36 AM
Newly-weds turn the tables on bickering relatives
By Nicole Martin
(Filed: 29/08/2005)

The top table used to be as much a part of a couple's wedding celebrations as confetti, cutting the cake and uncle's bad dancing.

But the traditional seating arrangement is disappearing as the shape of 21st century families becomes ever more complex.

Divorce and remarriage have become so widespread that some couples would need a table as long as a bus to cater for all the stepfathers and stepmothers.

The classic way to seat everyone is down one side of a rectangular table, facing the rest of the guests. From the left is the chief bridesmaid followed by the groom's father, bride's mother, groom, bride, bride's father, groom's mother and best man.

But wedding planners say that more and more couples are abandoning the traditional top table to stop warring relatives destroying their special day.

Some have chosen small round tables rather than a rectangular one, while others have opted for a romantic top table for themselves.

"If you've got divorced parents who really don't get on and would rather commit murder with a cake knife than make polite conversation, you can find yourself tearing your hair out," said Steve Abbis, the head of marketing for, an online wedding consultancy.

One solution is to have a big circular table in the centre of the reception, with guests on other circular tables around it.

The solution apparently worked at one wedding where the parents of both the bride and the groom were acrimoniously divorced and all four had remarried people whom the others disliked.

Each couple sat next to each other with a bridesmaid or best man or bride or groom separating each warring pair.

Divorce rates in Britain have soared in the past 40 years from 27,200 in 1961 to nearly 170,000, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics.

Gemma Chesney, who runs TotalWeddingGems, a wedding consultancy in Chigwell, Essex, said she believed that the demise of the top table was directly linked to rising divorce rates.

"I know many couples who have decided to sit with their friends rather than their families because they want to avoid any awkwardness and conflict," she said.

25-09-05, 07:11 PM
Standing behind young scrote in the KFC and his mate comes in, he calls out to him

Paid my first lot of tax this week, its great, I'm now paying for the cops to arrest me!!
The youth of today - eh!!

Twinset & Wing
25-09-05, 07:29 PM

those are the people that keep me in a job althpugh i do know what you mean


25-09-05, 07:39 PM

those are the people that keep me in a job althpugh i do know what you mean

So the next time you have to deal with him or his mates he's going to tell you in a nice way that HE PAYS YOUR WAGES!