Daily Archives:October 24th, 2009

Tweets bring back the olden days…

Those of my readers who are outside the UK will have been spared the whole ‘Question Time’ thing: the national debate about whether the head of the British National Party – the nearest thing Britain gets to far-right politics – should have been allowed to appear on the BBC’s Question Time debating programme.

He did appear, looked like rather a buffoon, and so today the papers are saying that he was so ridiculed that the BNP will do well out of it. Why? Because it looks as if the Beeb recklessly allowed him to be so overwhelmed that they made him into a martyr. The Beeb really can’t win on this one. Actually, of course, that’s not the reason the papers are printing this. They’re simply printing it because ‘BNP backlash’ makes a more profitable headline than some of the other possible speculations.

Anyway, since I don’t really do politics, and I don’t really watch TV, I might have remained blissfully ignorant of the whole thing if it weren’t for Twitter. Relaxing in the bath of a remote northern hotel room, I checked up on what my friends were tweeting about. (What? You don’t read Twitter in the bathroom? I thought that’s what it was for!) A lot of them were mentioning #bbcqt, and since I hadn’t come across Question Time before it took me a while to work out what this acronym meant. It was a bit like overhearing snatches of conversations in a cafĂ© without knowing the topic of discussion.

Eventually I worked it out, and realised that it was probably big enough that I should try and watch some of it. It reminded me of my schooldays, when there were only three or four TV channels, so the chances of your schoolfriends having watched the same thing as you were really quite high, and it would be the topic of conversation the following day. Then, we knew what our friends were viewing because we had little choice. Now, we know because of social networks…

So, after towelling myself dry, I sat on the bed and spent a while seeing if my iPhone’s 3G connection was good enough that I could pull up the programme on iPlayer or some similar site. I was a little way into this when it hit me. Right in front of me was a TV set! It’s something I now ignore so totally when going into a hotel room that I hadn’t even noticed it was there!

I turned it on and, though the picture wasn’t as good as I would have got from iPlayer, I was able to watch the latter part of the programme that all my friends were watching… a somewhat fuzzy version but quite watchable after I had tweaked the little internal aerial a bit. It was just like the old days.

Except, I guess, for the tweeting-in-the-bath bit.

Chronological Conundrum

Alarm clockTonight, in the UK at least, we perform that ridiculous ritual of ‘putting the clocks back’. How much longer must we put up with this, for heaven’s sake? For once, though, I’m grateful, since Rose is catching a distressingly early flight in the morning, and the hour of our rising will at least feel less abominable than it would otherwise.

It leaves me with a problem, though: what to use as an alarm clock?

Some of my gadgets are clever enough to take note of the time change automatically, others aren’t, and some (like my RDS clock radio) will pick up the change once they’re turned on. I’m really not sure whether they’ll do the right thing if I set an alarm tonight for a time in a different timezone tomorrow. So which of these should I take to whichever faceless Heathrow hotel is to be blessed with our patronage tonight?

I certainly don’t want to have any fewer hours of sleep than I’ll be getting already, but I also don’t want to gamble with getting to a transatlantic flight on time. So, ironically, I may take the most basic, least high-tech alarm clock which I know won’t try to do anything clever and I can then work out the time changes myself…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser