About bloody time…!

May 29, 2008 at 8:56 am (News) (, , , , )

Missing – Madeleine McCann

Call me heartless, callous and cruel if you like, but it seems well overdue to me that the McCanns may face charges of neglect and abandonment over the case of their missing daughter, Madeleine. Yes, it’s tragic that their very young daughter disappeared, but the fact remains that they left her and her younger siblings alone in an unlocked apartment while they and their friends dined elsewhere. It does not matter that they claim they regularly checked on their children – they left them alone in a foreign country while they went out to have fun with their friends.

Of course, chances are that this charge will never actually come about, but I sincerely hope it does. Just because the McCanns are a professional, middle-class couple, doesn’t mean that they should be treated any differently than a poor, working class family in the same position. Had they both been on the dole, you can bet they would have been vilified and crucified by the press. Instead, they have access to a large fund set up by well-wishers and the sympathy of most of the media, and when the media tried to turn, the McGanns pressed charges against them and got a public apology.

It is my opinion (and I freely accept it is not the opinion of everyone else) that those who neglect their children do not deserve apologies. They should be investigated by social services and the safety of their other children should be taken into consideration too.

I actually think it rather criminal that it has taken more than a year for the authorities to even consider pressing these charges against them.

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22-week scan

May 27, 2008 at 8:13 pm (Baby) (, , , , , )

No, it’s not a pic of Tad, but how cute?!

Seeing as how the sonographer couldn’t get a very clear view of everything she needed to at our 20-week scan, we were back in the scanning room again today. Of course, our squiggly little Tadpole did not want to behave and kept moving about just as they were getting a decent picture!

So, we were sent on a walk for quarter of an hour to see if Tad would settle into a better position. No such luck – the second sonographer laughed at how every time she was trying to get a good face shot for us, Tadpole decided to play “peek-a-boo” and covered up that cute little face with both hands! There was also a whole lot more wriggling about and kicking – wow, this kid has long legs!

Eventually, though, we came away with a semi-decent profile of Tadpole’s face (such a cute little button nose!) and all the checks were completed, so we now know everything that is supposed to be there is there and working as it should (which is a relief).

And then this evening, Dale got to feel a kick for the first time, so he’s now got a goofy grin on his face.

On a separate note, I went baby clothes shopping for the first time yesterday and forked out £90 on a nice little mountain of the cutest outfits. Of course, it’s just a start, but it was fun and I can hardly wait to see Tadpole in them. It was difficult to find non-gender-specific stuff though – loads of pink, blue, frills and tractors in evidence, which isn’t much use when you don’t know the sex of the baby! I fully expect to buy a bogey-load more when I’m away visiting my Mam this weekend!

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Eurovision Final

May 24, 2008 at 10:31 pm (Music, Film and Television) (, , , )

Well, what a night! There were a lot of really great songs and terrific performances on show tonight (although the entertainment covering the voting section was quite the worst offering I have ever seen on Eurovision), but the Eastern Bloc vote made for a disappointing evening when it came to the scores…

  1. Romania – Bit of a damp squib for the opening number. It started well, but the female half of the duet let it down with whiny vocals. (45 points / 20th place)
  2. United Kingdom – A flawless performance, full of energy – Andy Abrams made it look easy and looked like he enjoyed himself too – he can certainly be proud of himself. (14 points / 23rd place)
  3. Albania – The youngest entrant was shaking like a leaf and lost it a bit in the first chorus, but got back on track for the rest of the song. (55 points / 16th place)
  4. Germany – Performed by a quartet containing a fright-wigged red head and a screeching blonde that really ruined this Girls Aloud-esque entry. (14 points / 23rd place)
  5. Armenia – Much better than the semi-final performance. (199 points / 4the place)
  6. Bosnia & Herzegovina – An awful, annoying song performed by two very childish singers who were done up like puppets. Honestly, it hurt the ears! (110 points / 10th place)
  7. Israel – A beautiful, simple rendition of a lovely song. (124 points / 9th place)
  8. Finland – Top-notch hot metal – an awesome, show-stopping performance. (35 points / 22ns place)
  9. Croatia – I hated every second of this one – the world’s oldest rapper shouting and scratching gramophone records. (44 points / 21st place)
  10. Poland – The singer looked like she’d been Tango’d. It was a dull song and the performance lacked sparkle. Sounded like it should have been in a Disney animated film. (14 points /23rd place)
  11. Iceland – One of the very best performances of the night – absolutely spot-on! (64 points / 14th place)
  12. Turkey – Effortlessly performed by professionals who look like they’re used to giving shows in huge stadiums. Fantastic show. (137 points / 7th place)
  13. Portugal – A sturdy performance. (69 points / 13th place)
  14. Latvia – Spirited and fun – far better than their semi-final efforts. (83 points / 12th place)
  15. Sweden – A polished performance that should have done better in the voting. (47 points / 18th place)
  16. Denmark – Strong performance. (60 points / 15th place)
  17. Georgia – Some occasional duff notes and not as good as the semi-final effort. (83 points / 11th place)
  18. Ukraine – Energetic, melodramatic and dramatic – a great entry! (230 points / 2nd place)
  19. France – Absolutely dire entry by a bunch of beardy weirdies. (47 points / 18th place)
  20. Azerbaijan – Stunning, both visually and vocally. (132 points / 8th place)
  21. Greece – One of the strongest performances of the evening. (218 points / 3rd place)
  22. Spain -Got booed after the vocalist struck a Christ-like pose during the performance. Rubbish song. (55 points /15th place)
  23. Serbia – Rather melancholy and boring. (160 points / 6th place)
  24. Russia – Atmospheric, but the vocals left much to be desired. Would be better suited to the likes of Justin Timberlake who could have done it justice! (272 points / 1st place)
  25. Norway – Nice, Duffy-esque performance. (182 points / 5th place)

However, it didn’t really matter how the performances were as political voting meant that once again the Western entries were pretty much kept out of the running. The UK finished joint last with Poland and Germany, which was something of a crime as Andy Abrahams was fantastic tonight and we definitely had the best song out of the Big Four.

In the end, it was Russia who ran away with the scores, although Greece did very well early on and looked like they might be in with a shot. But no – next year Eurovision will be held in Moscow.

One has to wonder, however, how long it will be before the Western European countries start to pull out of the competition, and once the Big Four start walking away from what has become something of an institution, it will be pretty much over. Terry Wogan was on top form, as usual, but there was something dis-spirited in his commentary and I wonder if even he will be there to commentate on next year’s competition, as he sounded heartily fed-up with the way things are going nowadays.

The only way the stop the Bloc voting will be to a) split the semi-finals as they did this year AND b) prevent those who did not make it to the final from voting in the final. It would be the only fair way to do it. If something’s not done soon, I can see this fine (albeit tacky) televisual tradition being either split into sections or abandoned all together.

And that would be a great shame.

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22 weeks in…

May 24, 2008 at 4:33 pm (Baby) (, , , )

Foetus at 22 weeks

It’s been rather a busy week at work so I’ve been extra-glad of the excuse to take short breaks every now and then when Tadpole has been particularly active through the day! Yes, Tad has been having a bit of a party time in my tum over the last few days. Our attempts to make a Eurovision fan our our baby have been fun – on Tuesday night, during the first leg of the semi-finals, Tad wouldn’t keep still, but throughout the second leg on Thursday, there was barely a nudge, so The Kid obviously wasn’t very impressed with the performances that night and was having a bit of a sulk (and I had to agree with the little tyke’s thoughts on the performances, they really were below expectations!). We’ve also discovered that Tadpole dances about a fair bit whenever we listen to The Cars (one of our favourite bands), so there’s certainly evidence of good musical taste there!

And if anyone thinks that subjecting our unborn child to the Eurovision Song Contest is cruelty, well, we have to give the kid something to talk about in future therapy sessions! 😉

Some interesting facts about being 22 weeks pregnant:

  • Tadpole now measures about 11 inches from crown to toe (no wonder I’ve been feeling those kicks!)
  • Tad now weighs almost 1 lb (so the other 10 lbs I’ve gained over the last 22 weeks are not baby then)
  • Tad now looks like a miniature newborn (although a fair bit wrinkly as s/he won’t have much in the way of fat yet)

Apparently I should expect to gain around 0.5 lbs each week from this point onwards, and I’ve just checked and discovered that my weight gain is nicely within the expected range for this point in pregnancy (between 12 and 15lbs is to be expected), although I already think I look abnormally huge already! All my weight seems to have been added to the front in the form of boobs (which have always been generous, but are now MASSIVE) and belly (which is very large and round and on some days feels excessively heavy already). I saw one of my friends for the first time in several weeks and she said I looked like I was almost due! Not that it bothers me – I’d rather look obviously pregnant than simply fat!

I do, however, get the feeling that Tadpole might just decide to put in an early appearance. Although my due date is 27 September, I think that Tad might get a bit impatient to come into the world about a week earlier than that. We shall see…

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Reasons to be cheerful…

May 23, 2008 at 7:48 pm (Life gets in the way..., Music, Film and Television) (, , , , )

I’m in a mighty-good mood today, so I thought I’d just give a wee list of some of my reasons to be cheerful:

  1. I’m now off work till a week on Tuesday
  2. Tomorrow I’m meeting two of my buddies for a cuppa and a chat
  3. The Eurovision Final is on telly on Saturday night – we look forward to it every year
  4. I have another scan on Tuesday – another opportunity to “visit” with Tadpole
  5. It’s my baby sister’s birthday on Wednesday and we’re going out for lunch together
  6. My sister and I are going on a little road trip later next week to visit family in Northumberland
  7. I have a wonderful, adorable husband who bought two bibs for Tadpole today because they have the Chelsea logo on them
  8. I have a parcel waiting to be collected from the post office depot and I have no idea what it is – a surprise!
  9. I have a hot, scented, bubble bath waiting for me to sink into it
  10. Ian Dury and the Blockheads

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Eurovision Semi-Final 2

May 22, 2008 at 9:35 pm (Music, Film and Television) (, , , , )

“This year, the 2nd Eurovision Semi-finalists will mostly be wearing black and silver…”

Mostly monochrome on display tonight, with a hint of red in several shades. Overall I was a little disappointed – despite this leg of the semi-final having the better selection of songs, the performances just weren’t as good as those on Tuesday night, which was very surprising. Dale  and I did quite well in our predictions – I managed to pick 6 winners, but Dale topped that and accurately predicted 8 of them! So, which ones went through tonight?

  • Iceland – gave a good, solid performance
  • Sweden – not as good a performance as we expected, but still our favourite song to win the whole thing if she does well on the night
  • Turkey – well-chuffed to see this excellent rock track go through – the lads gave a crowd-pleasing performance
  • Ukraine – arguably the best performance of the evening.  If they perform this well on Saturday they might just walk away with the top spot!
  • Albania – a surprise to me – the youngest performer in the show at 17 years old
  • Latvia – the pirates were a sure-fire hit despite a lacklustre rendition of their jolly-rogering song
  • Croatia – I suspect this was the “wild card” as it featured an old man shouting a lot!
  • Denmark – I could  almost hear Mika singing “Why don’t you like me? Why don’t you like me?” all the way through this one
  • Georgia – Featured an inexplicably quick-change as part of this excellent performance
  • Portugal – neither one of us predicted this bland song would make the cut

So, what happened to my other favourites?

  • Czech Republic – the vocals were flat most of the time, although it wasn’t quite an embarrassment on the scale of the UK’s Gemini entry a few years back!
  • Belarus – again, flat vocals were the undoing of this entry
  • Bulgaria – more off-key moments, which is a shame because this woman has an amazing voice
  • Malta – I can’t understand why this one didn’t go through instead of Portugal! It was a fantastic performance with plenty of energy!

Still, Saturday should still hold plenty of excitement for Eurovision fans. This year there is a slightly more even spread of representation in the final, with Norway, Finland, Iceland and Sweden all getting through for the North; and Poland, Greece, Denmark and Portugal all joining the “Big Four” of the UK, France, Germany and Spain to represent the non-Eastern areas – the line-up is not quite so East-heavy as it was last year! It’ll be interesting to see how it all turns out.

I’m still touting Sweden for the top spot, but the Ukraine could be hot on their tail, and I think that first-timers, Azerbaijan, will do quite well. And I still reckon the UK could manage a top-10 showing in the end.

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Tricky Kicking

May 21, 2008 at 7:13 pm (Baby) (, )

There was definite kicking to be felt on the outside this evening. I was watching TV with my hand resting on my bump when I felt a definite nudge. I shifted my hand and was treated to the sight of a bump briefly appearing on my belly!

Unfortunately, our Tadpole seems to be a bit of a tricky kicker – as soon as Dale put his hand on me, the kicking stopped completely!

Now, this response is very welcome at night when I’m trying to get to sleep, but if Tadpole could just see his/her way to letting his/her Daddy feel a good, strong kick, I would be very pleased indeed.

Come on, Tad – let your Dad feel those feet!

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Eurovision Semi-Final 1

May 20, 2008 at 9:36 pm (Music, Film and Television) (, , , , )

In the end I only missed the first five acts of the first semi-final, and fortunately my lovely hubby is as much of a saddo, sorry, fan, as I am of Eurovision, so he was watching before I got home from my class.

This year sees the first time that the semi-final (still relatively new anyway) has been split in two. This was done to make things a bit more fair by eliminating the block voting that was already becoming de rigeur (last year it was all the Eastern European countries that made it into the final as they all voted for one another). This year you can only vote in the semi-final in which your country is participating, which meant that Ireland and the UK couldn’t vote for each other – and neither could all the usual neighbourly / political voters.

So, both semi-finals scheduled to have 19 countries competing – but only 10 going through from each to the final!

Tonight was definitely the weaker selection, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was mostly the better songs / performances that went through. And I’d just like to take this opportunity to shout IRELANDE NIL POINTES! That turkey of a performance by – yes, you’ve guessed it – a turkey was a disgrace and I’m very glad to say it did NOT go through! So who did make the cut?

  • Israel – an excellent performance without a single duff note.
  • Azerbaijan – quite possibly the most amazing vocal range I’ve ever heard from anyone, male or female, and an awesome, show-stopping performance.
  • Norway – nicely performed – natural and un-forced – sounded a little like Duffy.
  • Poland – bit of a naff performance and a non-descript song.
  • Bosnia and Herzogovina – absolutely dire and an undeserved spot in the final.
  • Armenia – good song, but not the best performance – rather disappointing.
  • Finland – and the metal-heads go through! Hurrah!
  • Romania – a bit Renee and Renata, but good vocal performances.
  • Russia – over-rated performer and song which is hotly tipped for the top-spot in the final.
  • Greece – very strong performance – the Greek Britney Spears.

Seeing as how all the really good songs got put into the 2nd semi-final (which will be held on Thursday night), it looks like this year’s final could be very, very interesting viewing!

Kell’s hot tips for the 2nd semi-final:

  • Iceland
  • Sweden (actually my hot tip to win the whole thing!)
  • Turkey (totally rockin’ track)
  • Ukraine
  • Latvia (because they’re a lot of fun)
  • Bulgaria
  • Georgia (it’s a message song sung by a blind woman)
  • Malta
  • Belarus
  • Czech Republic

I also predict the UK finishing in the top 10 in the final (it’s definitely the strongest entry from the automatic contenders).

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Rather miffed…

May 19, 2008 at 5:01 pm (Life gets in the way..., Music, Film and Television) (, , )

Call me a bit sad, but I was rather miffed when I realised today that I will miss the first leg of the Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Finals tomorrow night, due to having to go to my horrid evening class.

Not fair!

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21 weeks in…

May 17, 2008 at 8:26 pm (Baby) (, , , )

Foetus at 21 weeks

We’ve had some rather bonny weather over the last couple of weeks and I’ve discovered that I feel the heat with even the slightest rise in temperature. It turns out that carrying a baby is like having your own, personal internal mini-radiator. I’ve also definitely noticed I’m slowing up a fair bit in walking – it takes me a good extra five minutes to get to work these days, so I’m estimating that by the time I go on maternity leave, I’ve be taking almost three-quarters of an hour to get to the office!

Some interesting facts about being 21 weeks pregnant:

  • Tadpole is now measured from crown to foot and is approximately 10.5 inches long and weighs about three-quarters of a pound
  • Eyebrows and eyelids are now fully developed and fingernails now cover the fingertips
  • Tadpole can now hear our voices (which is nice to know, because I’ve started reading aloud The Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter every now and then, and also hum and sing to Tad when I’m alone!)

Things that have happened this week:

We had a bit of a disappointing 20-week scan due to our sonographer being a bit crap, but will be having another scan at 22 weeks. Fortunately, though, we were told that everything seems to be fine with Tadpole who is growing nicely.

I have been getting some really strange feelings down low that felt like Tadpole was curling up into a tight ball and then doing a quick star jump. I read today that this is actually Braxton Hicks contractions! Don’t worry – they’re completely different from labour contractions, so I’ll not be inadvertently giving birth!

Tadpole is also continuing to kick me rather hard, but we’re not feeling it on the outside just yet (although, i’ll be very surprised if we don’t start feeling it within the next few weeks as I’m really taking quite a battering!). The only thing that seems to settle Tadpole when s/he is in a kicking mood is if Dale rubs my belly. It doesn’t work if it’s me doing the rubbing, it has to be Dale! Thanks to this little trick, we’re able to get Tad to settle down long enough for me to get to sleep at nights. 🙂

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