Monday, 29 August 2011

I hope your memory will be very kind to us.

Life is a funny old thing. Or it is if you happen to be Noel Edmonds. Noel Edmonds was once the King of the airwaves here in Blighty. In fact there was a period when everything Edmonds touched turned to gold. His Saturday evening TV show "Noel's House Party" would routinely attract 18 million viewers, a number unheard of at the time. Characters he created such as "Mr. Blobby" became pop culture icons. House Party branded lunchboxes, towels, and even theme parks were sold in bucket loads to the masses. Heck so popular was our Noel that he managed to bag the Christmas number one with arguably the worst song released since… um... with the worst song ever released. No really. Take a look.

(Gee Note: Congratulations if you made it to the end of that by the way. I got about half way through before the urge to set fire to my laptop was so strong I had to walk away and make myself a cup of tea. Honestly the worst thing about this, outside of the fact that it makes pouring sulphuric acid in to your ears and plunging a scorching hot branding iron in to your eyes seem like a pleasant alternative to having to listen to the chorus, is that it got to number one in the UK singles chart not once but TWICE. No. No I am not shitting you. On two separate occasions this was deemed to be the most popular song in Britain. Now I love my country, and I'm very proud of my heritage, but I can't help but think that every once in a while Godzilla should be let loose in the Cotswolds or something just to ensure stuff like this doesn't happen.)

But then in early 1999 the wheels fell off the wagon. Viewing figures dropped, the theme parks closed, and the sales of Mr Blobby dolls came to a screeching halt. What was once deemed to be great Saturday night entertainment by the UK audience was now judged to be nothing more than cheesy, bottom of the barrel, drivel. Almost overnight Edmonds had become an embarrassment to the BBC. So much so that the decision was made to pay Noel the remainder of his contract, some £1.8 million, on the understanding that Edmonds stay at home and not appear on television until his deal expired. House Party was taken off the air, and all the rest of Edmonds' projects were cancelled. With no job, no prospect of getting a job, and the stigma of being so publically discarded by his employer of 30 years hanging over him, you could have stuck a fork in poor Noel. He was done.

Fast forward to the year 2005 and something amazing happened. So amazing it made children gasp and elder folk lower their newspapers and say things like "Gosh" and "I say". For the year 2005 was when Noel Edmonds, like a tiny bearded phoenix, climbed back to the top of the TV mountain. If by "TV mountain" you mean "fronting new Channel Four game show Deal Or No Deal" that is. Even more amazing - considering it's a programme based around being really lucky - the show was a hit, attracting around 5 million eyeballs an episode. Which was almost five times more than Channel Four executives had predicted. Of course Edmonds was over the moon, but more importantly he felt vindicated. No longer was he the punching bag of tabloid journalists and late night television exposés. He was Noel F***ing Edmonds dammit! And this time he was back and bigger than ever. Since then Deal Or No Deal has gone from strength to strength and has become one of Channel Four's most prized properties.

So how did he do it? How did a man who spent six years in the great big television wilderness bag such a lucrative role? Did he reinvent himself for a modern audience? Did his agent bust a gut to get him something, anything, that paid and he just got lucky? Did he take photos of television producers in compromising positions with farmyard animals and threaten to take them to the press?

Well, it was none of the above (Gee Note: Although pictures of producers swapping bodily fluids with pigs would certainly explain why Katie Price is still on the air). According to Edmonds he simply Cosmic Ordered himself a new show. "I said I wanted a hit show; it had to be something my girls would watch; and I wanted it by October." he told a journalist from the Observer. "I got the call about Deal or No Deal in August.". Since then Edmonds has placed six Cosmic Orders and all of them have been successful. In fact so impressed by this was he that two years ago he launched a "Cosmic Ordering" app for the iPhone.

For those not familiar with Cosmic Ordering allow me to explain. Or better yet allow the Cosmic Ordering website to explain. Because according to them…

Cosmic Ordering harnesses the power of positive thinking and the creative energy of our thoughts to manifest whatever we desire. There are no limits, you can ask for anything, a new love or a new house, money or wealth, health or healing... whatever you desire can be yours. The only demand is that you be positive, be open and be at ease, requesting your cosmic order without worry or attachment to the outcome.

Now it used to be case back in Robert Johnson's day that you could only get what you wanted without having to work hard for it by making a deal with the Devil. However like any open market people worked out after a while that the whole "burning in Hell for all eternity" was a major drawback with Satan's business plan (Gee Note: Could you imagine if he took it on to Dragon's Den? Duncan Bannatyne would say something like "I don't think you've really thought this through, I mean I'm looking at this and I'm thinking to myself "Who would agree to this?". I think your entire pitch is a shambles. And for that reason I'm out". And then The Devil would shoot Duncan Bannatyne with lasers from his eyes reducing him to pile of smouldering ash, the world would rejoice, and Satan having accidentally done something for the greater good for once will realise that he's nullified his entire reason for existing and cease to be. Possibly with a small puff of smoke. Anyway the point I'm trying to make is that we'd all be winners here). And so instead of receiving several lifetimes’ worth of being poked in the bum by a little imp carrying a pitchfork, with Cosmic Ordering you think happy thoughts and what you want gets delivered right to you. Simple really.

"Hmm. You know I could do with a new washing machine. This one is starting to show some wear and tear. Or sure it'll wash clothes fine. But it's starting to make a cranking noise that scares the dog. I guess I could ask the universe for a new one. So tell me oh fat ginger man, how do I place my cosmic order?" I hear you cry. Well luckily there's a guide on the Cosmic Ordering website. Which I'll reprint here. Because A) I know you're very busy tending to your emotionally unstable dog and B) It'll give me an excuse to write snarky comments as we go. It’s in the form of "Seven principles" which help “ensure" the success of your order. Exciting isn't it?

7 Principles of Cosmic Ordering

#1 Decide What You Want

This is perhaps the most challenging part of the process, knowing what you really want and never has the term "be careful what you wish for... You might get it!" been more relevant. (Gee Note: I want a classic Megadeth T-Shirt from their '87 North American tour… wait… or was that Metallica? Shit. Can I start over?)

#2 Make Your Orders Positive

Make your orders positive, present tense and personal. This is very important, avoid negative words like not and no, instead try to phrase your request positively in terms of the things you want. Keep your orders personal to yourself, order only beneficial things. Placing hateful, negative or vengeful orders are likely to backfire, so keep your orders coming from a loving place of the heart. (Gee Note: "Dear Jim Cosmos. Please please please could you fix it for me so that a piano lands on Perez Hilton's head from a great height? I understand he enjoys music and… er… being really high up and so this I think would be a perfect gift for him." See? No need to be negative at all).

#3 Order In the way that works for YOU

To each, their own. Every person is unique and each person has a different sense of their connection to the Universe. Place your orders in any way that suits you. Many people like some ritual or other mood to accompany and empower their orders. Do whatever is right for you. (Gee Note: Kick a midget perhaps? Or decapitate a cow while singing Frank Sinatra tunes backwards? Whatever you feel is right).

#4 Trust the Process.

Trust the process of Cosmic ordering. It is often best to start with simple orders, like a parking space or something similar until you build sufficient trust and understanding of the process. Part of this is letting go and leaving the Cosmos to deliver your order in the best possible way and at the perfect moment for you. It is in our nature that we try to control everything around us, but it is important not to be too prescriptive as to HOW our order is going to be delivered and relaxed about the timeline. If we attempt to, we simply interfere and restrict the creative possibilities open to the Universe to deliver our order. (Gee Note: Now close your eyes and start to drift off. Ignore the feeling you get that someone is reaching in your trouser pocket for your wallet. You can't control everything you know? Just let it go. Let it all go. And drift away… away… away…)

#5 Trust your Inner Wisdom

Allow your inner wisdom to guide you in your choices. Trust yourself to place the perfect order for yourself one that states what you want and perhaps when you think you might want it delivered. But an order that strikes the right balance between action and allowing. You must allow the Universe to bring you your order, this means letting go of all anxiety and holding complete belief that the Cosmos will deliver for you, but at the same time being open, aware and ready to take the opportunities that the universe may bring you as part of its delivery. (Gee Note: So say, for example, you order a cute Dalmatian puppy. Then if the next day a giant anaconda that has recently ingested a Dalmatian puppy turns up on your doorstep it means that - BOOM - your cosmic order has arrived. And that your inner self really wanted an anaconda and not a stupid puppy after all. Either that or it means it's probably time to move away from that snake infested swamp where dogs keep on disappearing).

#6 You Deserve It

You deserve to have a wonderful life, believe it, live it. The universe is infinitely abundant and we all deserve our good. Accept that you deserve good things; if you cannot bring yourself to believe that you deserve good things, it becomes difficult to ask for them with an open and honest heart. Whilst the words of your Cosmic Order might say "I have a beautiful car!", your thoughts might be "I don't deserve it." ... that message is your true belief and that is what the Cosmos will deliver. When you place your order, know that you do deserve it. (Gee Note: Yeah! You're right. I do deserve nice things. That's why I'm breaking up with my fiancée and heading to LA right now. You hear me Jennifer Love Hewitt? I DESERVE YOU. No matter what that "court order" says. Court order schmourt order. I've got the entire freakin' universe on my side with this one. Your ass is mine,)

#7 Acknowledge Your Successes

Feel gratitude when your Orders are delivered, recognise the amazing power of the process. Even if you suspect that your delivery may just have been a coincidence, recognize also that what you requested WAS delivered. Recognising and rejoicing in your ordering success will serve to reinforce your belief and therefore the success of your future orders! (Gee Note: Wow. OK so guys, I really wanted a pizza and so I asked the universe for one. And then I went to another site and there was an advert for Pizza Hut! So I clicked on it and it said they delivered! Get it?!? Just like I was waiting for my pizza to be "delivered" by the universe! So I was like, "OMG this can't be real!!!" and I ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut and then 30 minutes there was this dude at my place with my pizza! This cosmic order thing is too awesome!!!!).

If you're still unsure (Gee Note: Although after that tour de force how could you be?) then there's some testimonials on the site that might just sway you once for all. Such as:

Thank you to the Cosmos!

I would like to thank the Cosmos for delivering some of my earlier orders - my grandchildren are much happier now & leading happy healthy lives.

(Gee Note: I presume her grandchildren were working down a mine but have now found employment on an oil rig. Thumbs up).

Course Results!

Would like to thank the Cosmos for the help my daughter received. She obtained the course she wanted with no problems at college despite her grades.

(Gee Note: Wait. What? "Despite her grades"? I'm not so sure you should be all that happy about this.)

I am touched....this really works...!

Thank you Dear Universe for granting me my wish.

I had ordered for a car parking space to be allotted to me in April. My delivery date was 1st June. After placing the order I completely forgot about it. And out of the blue, there was a vacant stilt available for me at reasonable expense.

I am Soooooo amazed and Sooooooooo very thankful to the universe. This has reaffirmed my faith in the Universe. Trust me....the universe... hears you.....actually.. :-)

(Gee Note: And the universe said "Dude. You think a car parking space is special? You should see this black hole I just created. Shit will blow your mind").

Sold yet? I know I am. In fact I'm placing my Cosmic Order right now. Of course I'm not going to tell you what it's for….

Oh go on then. As it's you. You see it's that time of year again when The Wales Blog Awards roll around. Now last year I entered this here web-ma-doogle in to the "Best Writing" category (Gee Note: Ironic I know) and, well, got overlooked because the entire competition is a sham! Either that or there are about a thousand better blogs in Wales than this one. Anyway this year I've entered it again. And this time I will succeed. In fact it's a lock I'll make the shortlist. Because I have something those other bloggers don't have. I have the power of the Cosmos with me,

It can't fail. Just ask TV's Noel Edmonds.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Don't be so gullible, McFly.

A lot of news stories have gone unnoticed in the past month (Gee Note: Largely because the media went buck wild with the revelation that tabloid journalists would sell their own grandmothers to Somali pirates, especially if it meant a scoop and a slim chance of being able to snort cocaine with Z-list celebrities at The Hilton. Although to be fair it's hardly shocking. The chances of someone working for the News of The World being an amoral scumbag are about the same as water being wet). For example, if you've spent the past twenty years building a flux capacitor in your shed then you've probably wasted your life. Although on the other hand if you have no idea what a flux capacitor is it means you've never seen Back To The Future and you've definitely wasted your life.

The reason why building a flux capacitor would be a bad idea is that time travel is impossible. No really, it is. As in, trying to defend The Green Lantern movie impossible. And before you start calling me a square for killing your buzz, this isn't just me shouting my mouth off. Nuh uh Jack, this comes from one Du Shengwang, head of a team of physicists at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Professor Du had become rather miffed by recent talk in certain scientific circles that maybe, just maybe, it would be possible to go all Doctor Who and start jumping around in time like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert. (Gee Note: Although travelling backwards in time can be achieved by simply having Superman fly around the Earth a couple of times causing the globe to start rotating in the opposite direction. This would totally reverse time, and not fling every man, woman, and child in to space with such force that you'd end up swallowing your own knees before you left the ground. Tsk. Scientists eh? You'd think they'd put down their Bunsen burners and watch a movie once in a while. Would save them a lot of time and effort). So with all the other scientists saying things like "Waddup. I am really thinking we could travel in time and shit". Du was like "Bitch please, y'all be trippin fo' sho'.". And, thinking a lot of people weren't taking his counter argument seriously enough, he decided to prove it.

You see it's all to do with whether or not light can travel faster than… er… light. More specifically it's whether or not a single photon, or unit of light, can travel faster than the accepted speed at which light itself travels. Confusing? You bet your ass it is. But as far as I've managed to work out (Gee Note: And I've legitimately spent all night trying to get my head around this, to the point where my eyes are bloodshot and I'm pretty sure I've been drinking out of a pot plant thinking it was coffee for the past hour) it's all to do with the special theory of relativity. Special relativity states that as a particle approaches the speed of light then time itself starts to become relative. Therefore if a particle could exceed the speed of light then it would start moving backwards in time if it was observed by something not travelling at the same speed. I think. Although I’ll be honest with you, I’m not sure what my middle name is most of the time, so theoretical physics may be a step too far for yours truly.

But fear not dear reader, Professor Du is here. According to Discovery News Shengwang is about a trillion times better at this science stuff than I am and has proved that photons, by definition the particles that show off by painting stripes on their side and revving their engines, cannot themselves travel any faster than they already do. He and his research team accomplished this by passing a single photon through some group of laser-cooled rubidium atoms (Gee Note: Psshhht. We can all do that. If you really want to impress me science dude you’ll explain to me why unicorns went extinct). And in doing so extinguished the flames of the time travel dream forever.

Or did they?

Well maybe and maybe not. Because while photons may not be able to travel faster than light, other particles in the universe might, such as the hypothetical tachyons for example. Hell some would even argue that the entire universe is expanding at a rate that makes light look like a particularly lazy tortoise. Plus there’s always non-faster than light means with which to get your time related rocks off, such as wormholes and parallel universes. Time travel may be possible, even if it’s not the way we thought it would be.

Just ask Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain.

Charlotte Anne Moberly (via Wikipedia)

(Gee Note: OK. You can’t ask either of them. Because they’ve both been dead for over sixty years. Don’t worry though, I’ll fill you in on the details. I know. I really am too good to you guys.)

It was the year 1901, a wild and reckless time where deadly Panda bears trained in the ancient art of Karate roamed the streets of London (Gee Note: Not really). Meanwhile up in Oxford the Principal of St Hugh's College, one Charlotte Anne Moberly, was starting to become concerned about her ever increasing work load. Having been in charge of the all-women’s college for the past fifteen years she had seen the institution expand substantially, to the point where it had become obvious that she would require some help. And so she offered the role of Vice-Principal to renowned head mistress and text book author Eleanor Jourdain.

Which sounds just peachy. The problem was Moberly and Jourdain had never met each other before and as such it wasn't certain they would be able to work together in a professional manner. And so the two decided to spend some "getting to know you" time with each other. Jourdain owned an apartment in Paris (Gee Note: Oooo. La-di-dah your majesty.) and Moberly was invited to stay with her that Summer.

While there the pair took several trips to places that caught their fancy. One such jaunt, on 10 August 1901, was to the Palace of Versailles. Neither lady had been before, and both were excited about the prospect of visiting such a historically rich location (Gee Note: And they were also excited about the prospect of visiting the little shop on the way out and picking up an official "Palace of Versailles" pencil sharpener and a stick of rock). So they donned some nice hats, jumped on to a train, and headed to the Palace.

Reportedly neither lady thought much of the Palace itself. Now bear in mind the Palace of Versailles looks like this:

Palace of Versailles (via Wikipedia)

One can’t help but think that both of them were maybe setting the bar a wee bit high here. "Oh sure, it's a nice looking building I guess. But will it float? Can we turn it in to a really big canoe? And then race it against other big canoes in a race we shall call "Le Gran Canoe?" I don't think so. This might be a nice palace but it's a pretty rubbish canoe if you ask me". Regardless Moberly and Jourdain decided to have a mosey around the palatial grounds in the hope that the excursion wouldn't be a complete bust. It was at that point that Monsieur Sensible decided his work for the day was done and Monsieur Bat-shit-crazy took over the reins.

Having wandered around a bit it soon dawned on the women that they were lost, despite using a Baedeker guidebook (Gee Note: That'll teach them for not forking out for an iPhone). And at that point the entire universe lost all its mirth. Or according to Moberly "Everything suddenly looked unnatural, therefore unpleasant; even the trees seemed to become flat and lifeless, like wood worked in tapestry. There were no effects of light and shade, and no wind stirred the trees.". The pair passed by some men that looked like “very dignified officials, dressed in long greyish green coats with small three-cornered hats.". The ladies asked for directions and were advised by these snappy dressers to head straight on.

Continuing forward they reached the edge of a wood and saw a man sitting next to a garden kiosk. The man, wearing a large hat (Gee Note: Big fans of hats the French) and a long dark cloak was, according to Moberly, "most repulsive... its expression odious. His complexion was dark and rough.". Jourdain would add, "The man slowly turned his face, which was marked by smallpox; his complexion was very dark. The expression was evil and yet unseeing, and though I did not feel that he was looking particularly at us, I felt a repugnance to going past him.". Which, you know, is a bit harsh I guess. OK so the dude wasn't exactly Fabio, but there's no reason to be dicks about it. Even ugly people have feelings. Or so I have I've been told. I'm a hunk so I can't really relate to the ugglies. But I'm sure some of them are, like, really good at making little wooden figurines or something. Point is we're all special in our own way, even if ugly people are less special than - for example - lingerie models.

Eleanor Jourdain (via Wikipedia)

Moberly and Jourdain were starting to get a bit freaked out until they were saved by a man in a sombrero (Gee Note: Again with the f***ing hats!). As Moberly would later state he was "tall... with large dark eyes and crisp curling black hair.". Which, let's face it, sounds a bit like the beginning of a Match.Com profile. Sombrerolover90 is tall. He has large dark eyes and crisp curling black hair. He's looking for someone to share long walks on the beach with as well as quiet nights in and occasional trips to the zoo. Must be a non-smoker. And also not a raving lunatic. Unless they’re smoking hot and/or easy. In which case, whatever.

Thankfully Jimmy McLonelyhearts didn't try and impress the ladies with his favourite pick-up lines (Gee Note: Which is a shame because "Hey baby. You must be a General because you're making my Privates stand to attention." is a sure fire winner). Instead he simply pointed to the direction they should be heading. And so with haste Moberly and Jourdain made their way over a bridge and finally to the gardens in front of the palace.

There Moberly noticed a woman sketching on the grass, wearing a light summer dress and shady white hat on top of a bundle of fair hair. While Jourdain did not see this woman, the lady left such an impression on Moberly that days later she could recall her features vividly. Moberly would later become convinced that the person she saw that day was none other than Marie Antoinette.

Eventually colour returned to the world and Moberly and Jourdain joined up with a group of other visitors to complete the tour, And then they went back to the apartment in Paris and didn't discuss the incident for an entire week. Because that's how British people deal with stuff like this. Something crazy happens? It'll soon pass. In the meantime sit down, have a cup of tea, and complain about the weather and how Kit Kats aren't as nice as they used to be. After a while though Moberly was composing a letter to her sister about her trip to the palace and asked Jourdain if she thought it was haunted. "Hell yes!" was Jourdain's response (Gee Note: Or words to that effect. What am I? "Mister History"?), and so they decided to write separate accounts of what they saw and compare notes, while at the same time researching the history of the Palace of Versailles. They returned to the scene on a number of occasions, but were unable to retrace their steps. Several landmarks including cottages, the bridge, and the kiosk were missing. More importantly the grounds were choc-a-bloc full of people whenever they returned, as opposed to the very few souls they encountered on August 10.

Convinced that something completely out of the ordinary had happened to them Moberly and Jourdain decided to tell the world of their story. Realising that their tale might be a bit too wacky for their academic friends they released a book detailing their experience under the pseudonyms Elizabeth Morrison and Frances Lamont. Entitled “An Adventure” it was published in 1911 and caused quite the uproar. The reaction ranged from at best polite snickering to at worst outright cries of balderdash. These women are deluded, they said. They had obviously stumbled across a private party of some sort, said some. They perhaps had partaken in too much of the local vino, said others. And besides, they all agreed, there is not now nor has there ever been a bridge in that part of the Palace.

Which is all well and good. Except Moberly and Jourdain weren’t simpletons who if you told them the moon was made out of cheese would believe you without questioning it. They were two women who were both extensively educated and highly intelligent. The reason they didn’t put their own names on “An Adventure” was that they were well aware they would be met with ridicule. In fact it wasn’t until 1931 that their true identities were revealed, some seven years after Jourdain had passed away. Which would suggest that neither was actively looking for fame or notoriety.

Since then many modern day scholars have thrown their lot in to ring. Literary critic Terry Castle claims Moberly and Jourdain were involved in some kind of lesbian folie à deux (Gee Note: Which if I said it would be insensitive and crass, but because Terry Castle is a woman its fine I guess), while noted dandy Philippe Jullian says the whole thing was a soiree thrown by poet Robert de Montesquiou that Moberly and Jourdain accidentally stumbled upon.

Except Moberly and Jourdain checked the Palace records and found no evidence of any event or private gathering held on August 10 1901. And just because two women hang around together doesn’t make them lesbians any more than Ernie and Bert sharing a bed in Sesame Street makes them gay (Gee Note: This argument sounded much better in my head than it does typed out). Of course they may very well have been lovers. But it appears the only evidence supporting this claim is that they were both professional women who never married. And I’m pretty sure there’s a bit more to being a lesbian than simply lacking a husband. Of course the folie à deux theory fits better if Moberly and Jourdain were an item, as one could be more easily influenced by the other. But, oh I don’t know, there’s something about this idea that doesn’t quite wash. Shared delusions are a recognised psychic phenomenon, but Moberly and Jourdain were so shocked they didn’t even talk about for days on end. It wasn’t the case that one was egging the other on. Quite the opposite in fact.

So is it possible that Moberly and Jourdain travelled back in time to the days before the French monarchy lost their heads?

Well you scoff (Gee Note: Yes you do. I’m watching you right now through your webcam. Also, put some trousers on. Where were you born? In a zoo?) but there’s one very interesting thing to consider. Remember that bridge Moberly and Jourdain crossed, the one that never ever existed ever? Well it did exist. A map of the Palace grounds dated 1790 was discovered in 1903, showing a hitherto unknown bridge exactly where Moberly and Jourdain had described. 1790 of course being a full three years before Marie Antoinette was executed by revolutionaries.

It could also all be nonsense. A shared delusion, or a misunderstanding, or even a prank. After all time travel is impossible.

Just ask Professor Du.