Friday, 31 January 2014

BLUE CROSS TOILET WALL - Friday Night Toddler Art Gallery


Crayola crayon, blue on Farrow & Ball Matt Emulsion, Savage Ground

The hardest aspect of the Friday Night Toddler Art Gallery, apart from hiding the pens, pencils, crayons, and all potential artistic instruments... is actually capturing them for the blog.

So it usually starts off with a photograph that shows the artwork is real, in a real room, and to give a true impression of the the kind of scale of size.

But the problem with being so far back is that it often doesn't do the work justice or show the detail of the piece. So the next one goes closer.

But even here, the detail is indistinct, so here is the close up of today's example.

A single blue cross (is the colour deliberately linked to the blue one might associate with bathroom hygene products?), with another echoed cross above it.

Or is it a target?

An alternate focal point to the obvious toilet that would otherwise draw your eye?

Either way, it's two crosses for one.

The full gallery of toddler art is here...

Please feel free to send me your examples - Leave a comment below with any picture links!

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The Alan Johnston Vigil - FAVE TV #24

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Blankety Blank Cheque Book And Pen - DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS

- Blankety Blank Cheque Book And Pen -

For some reason, I thought the Blankety Blank Chequebook and Pen was a real cheque book that could be used to write cheques for anything you wanted.

TV didn't lie to me.
It just didn't fill in the gaps.

All my 2014 Dad Lessons For My Kids are here

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Compost Corner nominated for 2 British Animation Awards 2014

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Compost Corner nominated for 2 British Animation Awards 2014

I hate writing posts like this. They feel like limp legacy media press releases.

But for better or worse, this is where I bank stuff that's happening to me, and just found out that the CITV cartoon series Compost Corner has been nominated in 2 categories of the British Animation Awards 2014.

I script them with my writing wife TIM DANN, who created the show with Producer/Director Westley Wood.

Stoked that it's on the BBC News site which makes it even more official.

Kids cartoon writers CITV

Here are some videos and stuff on our site.

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The Complete Collection of Granny Murray Sayings from Me Too on Cbeebies...

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Friday, 24 January 2014

WINE STAIN WALL - Friday Night Toddler Art Gallery


Substance unknown, on Dulux Matt Brilliant White

We have no idea how this was made.

It was splayed up the stairs with what might be a dark red liquid substance, in a method with what might be called hands.

The full gallery of toddler art is here...

Please feel free to send me your examples - Leave a comment below with any picture links!

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This is exactly how men watch pornography - DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS

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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

This is exactly how men watch pornography - DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS

- This is exactly how men watch pornography -

This is exactly how men watch pornography.

In a suit. With a tortured expression.
Love the optimism of that QR code in the bottom corner.
I mean, what chump would be standing there, holding their phone up to take a picture and... Ah, balls.

All my 2014 Dad Lessons For My Kids are here

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6 Ways South West Trains Seem To Block Your Refund

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Monday, 20 January 2014

6 Ways South West Trains Seem To Block Your Refund

(A stalled train due to the 3rd rail freezing over for the 3rd time this year...)
UPDATE: There were also frozen third rails in 2015... (7 Jan 2015)
and 2016... (8 Jan 2016)

Why not watch this video for How to get a South West Trains refund, and all my tips and tricks and links to the form are below:

You're probably here to find out How To get a refund for a delay or cancellation on South West Trains.

Your delay would almost have been massive enough for you to Google this.

I completely understand that from time to time, delays happen on all railways.

But despite our system of trains in the UK being run purely for profit, I can't avoid using South West Trains... and to me, for some reason, they seem to bury these details on their website.

- the link to the form you can download to send off for your refund - right click on this


(it's a link to a pdf - click on the link above to open it, then click on either the 'download' arrown button to save it, or 'right click' on the form and select 'Save as' to save it onto your desktop)

I don't write factual articles for a living... and I'm sure there are inaccuracies in here... but this is my (sadly very experienced) personal perception of 6 Ways South West Trains seem to try and block your refund.
(Work In Progress...)

(another delay caused by the 3rd rail freezing over...)

#1 Not telling you refunds are available

I haven't heard any tannoy announcements explaining refunds are available.

There don't seem to be posters on platforms or concourses explaining refunds exist, let alone the refund process.

(No idea what caused this one, to be honest, it's hard keeping up with them. Tip below...)

#2 Refunds are kept hidden

SWT uses euphemistic language when referring to them (the website and twitter feed use terms like "Contact Customer Services" or "National Rail Conditions of Carriage" and the refund form itself has the somewhat abstract massive heading "Any concerns?"

(South West Trains seems very scared of using the word "Refund" - it appears only once on the form, without context or explanation.)

SWT helpfully says you do not need this form in order to claim, but the form does list the details that might help expedite your refund.
(notwithstanding these 6 ways they appear to block your refund)

(SWT claimed this was a 'lineside fire' but it was actually a power cable fire.
The difference between 'no-refund' and 'refund'. Confusing, huh?)

#3 The refund details are kept hidden

South West Trains have eccentric rules for issuing refunds: Clear details of what constitutes a delay eligible for a refund are not printed on the form.
(But hey, they do say you can "fax" it.)

You must have been delayed by 60 mins or more - which seems arbitrary, if for instance you can't get on a train because the replacement is 4 cars long, or if you miss the replacement from platform 9 while you're sat on platform 12 etc.

Perhaps South West Trains could deny that it receives compensation from Network Rail for delays longer than 5 minutes?

I will publish the denial here if it is incorrect.

If not, this might mean that South West Trains actually profits from every single delay over 5 minutes for things like signal failures, cable fires, level crossing failures, power failures, landslide, land slips, poorly maintained trees that fall down when it's not stormy etc.

- Do not claim for suicides...

...but not refunding for acts of vandalism seems unfair when in some cases it could be seen as poor maintenance.
(Should we put a protective fence round that vital bit of infrastructure? Nahhh...)

I'm still not sure whether 'extreme weather' is covered - SWT says not - but this sometimes hides poor apparent basic rail maintenance:

So, frozen 3rd rails on a normal cold night (-1C temps)? Rails buckling on a nice sunny day? Seasonal normal forecast snow of 5cm? Embankments that collapse under a single heavy rainfall after possible years of poor maintenance or inappropriate tamping? Trees regularly falling in the Witley area on non-stormy days even?

Thanks for not issuing refunds for these, South West Trains.

4 Post and Paper
It's 2014, so of course you have to apply with your paper ticket. You've got a photocard, a 7 day season ticket, and you paid by credit card.

No dice, loser, you've got to apply for your refund by post.

Which means waiting for your ticket to expire.

Which means you holding on to your paper ticket (even the barriers are against you here).

Which also means remembering the details for the application (how quaint).

Write your delays on the back of your ticket, for your reference.

If possible, more bureaucracy, photocopy your application in case you get nonsense further down the line (from the other blocks below).

I claimed for so many legitimate delays in one month last year, that I accidentally stapled one ticket to the wrong form.
The letter in reply sympathised with my delay, and said I qualified for a refund, but would only do so on sending over the correct ticket (which was stapled to another form that didn't qualify).
No refund.
Bit more profit for shareholders.
Boom boom!

You're supposed to apply within 28 days (which is a pain in the arse if it's a 7 day season ticket, and you'll have to put all of this in the post too, which adds its own delays...)

It's also confusing if you have more than one delay on your ticket.

I'm convinced I had only one delay refunded even though I had 2 massive delays on a 7 day season.
I didn't understand the PR guff in their letter - it seemed to say the refund was limited by the "Passengers Charter". Either way, well done SWT.

5 More paper
- Your refund will come in the form of Rail Vouchers.
It won't really cover your costs
(especially if you're late for work and have those hours docked, or getting the babysitter to stay longer, or paying mates to cover the work you're meant to be doing etc etc etc)

There's an obscure way of calculating the refund, but, of course like me, you'll be delighted that there is some recognition the service was pisspoor.

Enjoy the paper vouchers and avoid block #5 where you lose or don't use the vouchers.

They now offer payment of compensation by paypal, vouchers, a transfer to your debit/credit card or cheque.
But you have to reply to let them know now how you'd like to be paid.
Which might be another step/obstacle to you following through and getting your refund.
Ker. Ching.

6 More blocking

You might navigate all of this, and still have a letter saying sorry but no refund.

But with no clear details of how to claim, and what is and isn't covered, and trying to get round the 5 blocks, you may very well give up.

By now it'll be 3 months or more since the delay, and there might have been new delays to enrage you.

Be patient and persevere - you have skin in the game - and if you've got photocopies and photos it'll help you stand your ground.

Taking photos and tweeting about it also serves as a good aide memoire for the seemingly deliberate paperwork put between you and a refund.

Do leave a comment underneath if any of this is inaccurate or if any of this helped.

Even better, send me a picture of your vouchers! (you can tweet me here)

Why I've written this:
I know that from time to time, a mechanical railway in the real world encounters delays.
And the staff who work for the company are great.

But, I'm just a normal dad, struggling financially while being held to fund a taxpayer-subsidised monopoly, and last year South West Trains filed profits of more than £26 million.

There seems to be a financial incentive to make the refund process oblique, hard, even convoluted.

Why not follow @fairfaresnow to help the lobby for a better system?


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Friday, 17 January 2014

PINK PENCIL ARM - Friday Night Toddler Art Gallery


PAPERMATE NON-STOP HB pencil on Sofa Workshop couch, lilac

The 'pen' left by the artist at the scene of this crime is a deliberate, almost cruel, distraction.

This work was created in pencil.

The number of lines, and the energy behind them is interesting - and begs the question, at what point do you stop?

It's as if the arm is being 'coloured-in'. By a weapon with no colour.

The full gallery of toddler art is here...

Please feel free to send me your examples.

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Digital Box Update - DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS

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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Wall Space in a Relationship - DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS

- Wall Space in a Relationship -

I am now sure that the hardest part of living with someone is deciding on what to put up on the walls.

This is pretty much the only art my Wife and I have agreed on getting space.

A London Underground poster and some abstract pictures of coffee cups.

All my 2014 Dad Lessons For My Kids are here

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Getting Told Off in WHSmith - DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS

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Monday, 13 January 2014

Getting Told Off in WHSmith - DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS

- Getting told off in WHSmith -

I got told off in WH Smith. For taking a picture on my phone.
"Excuse me sir..." - the member of staff was on me like a shot.
"You cannot take photographs in this store. I must ask you to stop."

Like an idiot I pathetically replied "But... it's just to show my wife--"
See, right there - the Wife reference came tumbling out.
Probably for the first time in our marriage - ahhh - it's a milestone.

Like implicating her is somehow going to mitigate my crime.
We're Bonnie and Clyde!
I don't think they were married.
Maybe they should've been.
"I was just robbing this bank... to show my wife."

I thought going pathetic would help, but it seemed enrage the WH Smith Man further.
"I don't care. You can look it up online. Do not take photographs inside the shop. It's company policy."

And in that moment I felt like a 12 year old.

On our school trip to East Germany where we were told not to take photographs in public, in case they captured "Working People" or "The Military" or anything else that was forbidden.
Except it's 2013. And this is a box of Dairy Milk.
That's not even in focus.

Thing is, I was only taking it to show my wife how stupid the WAS price was.
12 quid?!!
That’s insane!

P.S. Hope I don't end up spaffing out some kind of snarky tweet.
@WHSmithcouk policy: Fone pics in store are forbidden. Per Holborn staff: "Check online instead". I did. Its cheaper there. Great policy!

Ah, balls.

All my 2014 Dad Lessons For My Kids are here

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TV News sucks - MY FAVE TV #23

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Saturday, 11 January 2014

TV News sucks - MY FAVE TV #23

TV News sucks - FAVE TV #23

New Year's Resolution again: give up watching TV News.
Quantifying the day in 3 minute items comprising tidy soundbites is dumb.
And its arbitrary agenda geared towards those who clamour for the time in those tiny bites yet they don't really manage to say anything nuanced or substantial.

That said, it's the only place left where TV regularly gives space to live unmediated moments. (probably proving it's pure prurience and voyeurism).

Aww, who'm I kidding... Here's some funny news clips!

Reporter breaks unbreakable phone at CES in the nicest way possible


Sir Mike Jackson's mobile goes off in the middle of the Andrew Marr Show

Sky News Orla eye pick.

(Thanks to for the 'how to embed a vine' tip)

See also:

Blow Jobs from BBC South
(Or “When News Graphics go bad”)

"A look at tomorrow's newspapers"

But you've got the live feeds coming in to you right now.
Over there.
I can see them. They're just over your shoulder.

The Greatest Ever TV News Theme

The greatest ever TV News Theme was for John Craven's Newsround.

Not the opening theme - Johnny One Note by Ted Heath
(Though that pretty much gives a live event, for is essentially a man in a room with a single camera and greenscreen.)

The genius was the closing sting. How final was this.

And what kind of apparently drug-addled 1970’s decision lead a producer to work out that the final 3 seconds of a 45 second experimental music track would do the job.

Anyway, the General Election title music attained perfection in 1992.
Everything else a pale imitation.

(And here's a link to the Studio Schedule for the BBC Election Coverage 1964...)

My full Top 100 TV list is here...

#20 Tiswas
#19 The Cinema Ads
#18 Mystery Science Theater 3000
#17 Space Ghost, Coast To Coast
#16 The Adverts
#15 Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation
#13 Engelbert Humperdinck on the BBC VT Xmas tape 1979
#12 My favourite clip about writing TV sitcoms
#11 Pipkins
#10 The Best Action Scene Ever, Ever, Ever

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PICTURE FRAME CORNER - Friday Night Toddler Art Gallery

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Friday, 10 January 2014

PICTURE FRAME CORNER - Friday Night Toddler Art Gallery


Uniball Gel Impact 0.7 pen, blue, on Dulux 'Light & Space' Matt Emulsion for Walls and Ceilings, Lilac Echo

This is a very simple yet precise work.

The reversal of cornering mocks the parallel lines it apes.

It defies the very frame it is aimed to detract from.

The full gallery of toddler art is here...

Please feel free to send me your examples.

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How to drive past gritters - DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS

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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

How to drive past gritters - DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS

- How to drive past gritters -

I hate driving past gritting lorries on motorways.

Here is a video of how it usually goes:

They travel so slowly, so hanging back doesn't seem like an option.

But I never deciding if overtaking quickly is better... to get the damage to my bodywork and windscreen over as soon as possible...

...or if I should drive slower to reduce the velocity of the chunks hitting my car... but then the car gets hit by it for longer.

Either way feels wrong.

All my 2014 Dad Lessons For My Kids are here

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You're fired! How I ended up in The Advantage apprentice sketch

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Monday, 6 January 2014


- Peace of Mind -

Always keen to get a bit of Inner Serenity.

So when companies offer me "Peace Of Mind", I am keen to catalogue them.

I will put the latest ones here on this link.

"Peace Of Mind" for life's everyday accidents.

You'd think "Peace Of Mind" would be enough.

But this is for accidents only.

And only the everyday accidents of life.

Thanks Homebase leaflet V5!

Hurrah! For Peace Of Mind...

EDF Energy even have a new Peace Of Mind contract...

Ah British Gas HomeCare®, there YOU are... AGAIN!

Peace Of Mind this time from British Gas HomeCare®

Complete Peace Of Mind from an Asus Nexus 7 10W Adapter and Cable as the battery never runs out!J10

Here's Norton 360 promising Ultimate Peace Of Mind.

The vague "next couple of years" from HSBC...

Whereas British Gas are super specific.

Peace Of Mind only up until May 2015.

This one is pledged by Arriva Buses:

"For... peace of mind during your journey, cameras are installed on this bus."

AXA PPP Healthcare reassures me that...

“Even the affordable plans... still provide Peace Of Mind.”

Here are some from my 2007 collection:

This one from Southern Water...

"Spread the cost of your water bill by Direct Debit... Peace of mind guaranteed"

South East Water offers it from another angle...

"Direct Debit takes care of all your payments... giving you complete peace of mind."

Egg Card practically phoned this one in...

"Peace of mind. Free for one month."

I can "enjoy peace of mind..." (from Thames Water)

"For only £5.99 per month."

MBNA Europe subliminally hints the peace of mind from...

"fraud... fraudlent... fraud... fraudulent..."

And remember,

"A home DNA test is for peace of mind purposes only..."

Feel free to share any Peace of Mind offers you've received from companies in your junk mail in comments below.

Though I feel like the Dalai Lama now.

Walkers Crisps have "grab bags".
They look exactly like a packet of crisps.

But they're not.
It's a "grab bag".

(looking at how many crisps stingy Walkers have put in there...

Maybe "packet" isn't exactly the right collective noun.)

Then Virgin Media sent me a "Value Statement".

Not a statement, but a "Value Statement".

Because the marketing agency that came up with Virgin Media's Value Statement, is a Grab Bag of "Value Arseholes".

All my 2014 Dad Lessons For My Kids are here

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Bless This Wifi Code - DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS

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Thursday, 2 January 2014

Bless This Wifi Code - DAD LESSONS FOR MY KIDS

- Bless This Wifi Code -

Life in 2014:
I love everyone who visits our home.
But now tired of being asked for the Wi-fi code.
So, trying out this alternative to rooting round the back of the sofa.
It hasn't become normal etiquette yet, but it will do.

Click here for all my Dad Lessons For My Kids

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How To Be Brilliant Every Single Day - fave things on the web

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