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More than anyone else on that god-forsaken programme, Sada seems to have realised what the aim of the show was. Not winning a measly seventy grand but the chance to become the next Cilla Black. Sada did great - she is attractive, she has a gimmick (mock-hippiness) that will set her apart from the Voderman's and the Smilie's, she is intelligent enough and in er interview on Friday she proved that she is far more adept at live television than Davina Mccall. She will go far.
Recent analyst reports seem to suggest that they're on the verge of bankrupcy, been while they're still trading, I for one will keep using them. I've ordered a number of books, videos and DVDs from Amazon and am impressed by how quickly the orders arrive. Even if you order Region One DVDs from the US site, they turn up quickly and safely. The main downer is the post and packing which often seems to bite a big chunk out of your supposed saving. And even the supplied reader reviews can't make up for real browsing. The strangest thing about Amazon is the sales rank. If you know someone who's written a book, you can look it up and find that it's at number 80,000 in the book charts. Must be enough to make authors want to give up.
It's difficult to know what to think of Heat, because every time you come up with an opinion, Emap decide to reposition it and all the content changes. So think of this as a snapshot in time. This was Heat in June 2000 - by the time you read this Heat will probably cover elephant breeding and reader's drawings of their own vacuum cleaners, but right now it's concentrating on celebrity gossip and TV listings. Heat is essentially an amalgamation of two American magazines; People and the wonderful Entertainment Weekly. At present it doesn't have the vision or the vast editorial resources of either of these two publications and can be a bit, well bland. The TV listings are informative and well designed and I love the fact that they bother to cover radio (and do it well). But Heat should be more than that because as the catchphrase goes, other listings magazines are available. I would like to see more irreverance, more exclusives, less photos but more charts and graphics. The editorial tone is not as witty as Q or classic Smash Hits and that's a shame. To keep it going on a weekly turnaround for even this long is an achievement, but Heat has to start amazing us. Otherwise it's condemned to a lifetime of twice yearly redesigns.
Once where everyone in middle England did their monthly shop, Sainsbury have lost their way in recent years. Not as cheap as Asda, not as innovative as Tesco; most stores are of a medium size making it impossible for Sainsbury to find space for profitable clothing ranges or furniture. I have a fair sized Sainsbury near me. It's fine, but there's a lack of surprises right now. Go into Tesco and you might find a cheap hifi, a DVD player; my Sainsbury is sticking to food, most of it pretty good and fairly priced. If only they could make things a little more exciting. Sainsbury have a reward card, though it's nowhere near as good as it was when it first launched three or four years ago. Then, Sainsbury would give away huge numbers of bonus points on selected items. You could then convert your points into air miles and have enough for a pair of flights to Paris within weeks. They're far more frugal with their points these days, though it's worth pointing out that a £2.50 voucher is worth £5.00 in certain high street shops like Top Shop. So overall, could do better. They probably will.
Friends who have worked there refer to it as shabitat or crappytat, it ought to be the height of naff, but Habitat is still worth a visit. I've bought quite a bit from the high street furniture store in the last two years. Some of it, like a Barabara Hepworth inspired lamp (still on sale -called I believe the Barbara) is just wonderful; it's a large white sculpture with a hole in it capable of making any living room look like the set of Woody Allen's 'Sleeper'. I have a bed which is large, looks great and is extremely comfortable. I did go for the most expensive mattress - but so should you if you can possibly afford it. I don't think a bad back is worth a hundred quid of anyone's money. Habitat is not that cheap, but I've been happy with everything I've bought from them. Their twice yearly sales are usually nothing to write home about, but if you get on their mailing list you get postcards that entitle you to an extra 10% off. You might not get anything cutting edge, but until the day comes that I can afford Stack and Eames originals, I'll amble along to Habitat quite happily thanks.
Ikea are expanding in Britain. Many of you, who do not presently have an Ikea store near you will be safe no longer. What's in store? Imagine that you are in hell. A hell in which you have to queue for hours to get into a carpark for a shop which will only let you walk round it in one direction no matter what department you really want to get to. Imagine that there are more people in that shop that you have ever seen or will ever see. They're all in the same terrible mood as you and they all want to buy the same special offer £10 tablelamp. They've run out of the tablelamp so you decide to buy a £30 fan. You queue for 45 minutes to buy the £30 fan. Then you queue to get out of the carpark. Oh, and if you don't have a car, forget it. They really don't want you to get there on foot and they don't want to deliver. When you get the £30 pound fan home it buzzes and won't work so the next weekend you decide to take it back. You queue to get into the carpark .....
The Canon Multipass combines scanner, photocopier, fax and colour printer. It is designed to be used with a PC and without one, you would not get to use at least 50% of its features. If you mainly want a fax machine, but will occasionally use the other features, the C50 is a fair bet. The fax quality is good and the fact that you can receive faxes on your PC before printing them out, means that you can get rid of junk faxes before wasting valuable paper and ink. Scanning is more difficult as you have to feed your object through the machine. No chance of getting an image of your cat with this I'm afraid. Photocopying seems to work okay as long as you just want a couple of copies. Don't expect to get your annual report done. It doesn't have an on/off button which can be annoying when you need to reset it. It comes with a big bundle of software which enables you to make all sorts of greeting cards and manipulate all your photos and lets face it you won't use any of it. Okay, well I haven't. After a month, mine went wrong. The Canon helpdesk were just amazingly astonishingly utterly rude, but when the service guy came he was very nice and it's worked fine ever since. So a good fax that does other things sort of okay.
A bargain hunter's paradise, Bol will currently stop at nothing to get market share from their deadly amazon rivals. The site looks rather similar, a bit sparser (they don't yet sell videos, have auctions etc) and they boast you can get any book in print. They have more competitions than Amazon and if you have an airmile account you can get a mile for every two pounds you spend. All very nice - but what stand Bol apart is their charming willingness to lose large sums of money. A couple of weeks ago, during their 'free book for a friend' promotion, I bought a twenty pound book which was on sale for ten pounds. They sent a free copy to my friend. Then a week later, they sent her another one. So that's sixty pounds worth of books for ten pounds. No I'm no economist, but I think that leaves their profit margin a trifle narrow. So try them. They will pay you to.
Well there's really no need to bother to visit this yet. A Coupons site is a fine idea, especially a coupons site where you don't need to go through a lengthy registration service, but it really would help matters if there were some coupons worth clicking for. At the moment the site is divided up into a number of areas; leisure, home and garden, holidays, etc all of which basically carry the same three or four coupons which can get you typically one pound off an own brand film at a developers (you know, the sort of film that most developers give away free). Bizarrely, Blockbusters is listed under home and garden but not under leisure. It hardly matters because the coupon isn't there yet. The jury is an awfully long way out on this one.
This, a concept album about physics, was the standout album of 1999 without question. Rather like Mercury Rev the year before, the Flaming Lips are an American Indie Rock outfit who had recorded several albums previously which were bought by very few people in this country. Also rather like Mercury Rev, they sound rather like Mercury Rev. But madder. And better. Stand out tracks include 'Racing For the Prize' which is included twice - one with the drums seemingly recorded at the bottom of an eighty foot lift shaft; and 'Waiting for Superman' a really sad song about how we shouldn't bother waiting to get saved because Superman's kinda busy. No it really is sad. I'm not being sarcastic. Live, the Lips sang along with glove puppets and did astonishing cover versions of 'White Christmas' and 'Over the Rainbow'. Then we all went home and listened to this album again and again and again. Join us.
Sainsburys have a very pretty website. I like their food. I have their reward card. Yet I am unable to use their online service. Because Sainsbury don't yet deliver to large chunks of London, including the neighbourhood where I live. Tescos have been delivering for at least six months. Their service is not brilliant, but people are eager to try it and I've seen dozens of their vans delivering in my area in the last couple of months. By the time, Sainsbury get their act together, how many people will have formed a relationship with their rival? Now I know London isn't the only city in Britain, and perhaps some of you have had good experiences with sainsbury.co.uk. I'd be interested to read them, but I think I live in a very net savvy area that a major supermarket cannot afford to ignore. I really don't understand why Sainsburys have allowed themselves to fall so far behind in what may become the biggest growth market in years. Iceland will deliver to me. So will Somerfield. If anyone out there owns any of Sainsbury, I'd be very very worried. Because they're not on the case.
Early attempts to use this service proved absolutely hopeless. 'You will receive your CD-rom within 2-3 working days' Well, six months later and I still don't have it. When I tried to use the web-based system I found that Tesco's navigational system had several wonky wheels. It would crash very time I aksed for kitchen roll, and tried to tell me that Tescos don't sell bread. More recent attempts have been more successful and I recently completed my first order, though certain important items were missing. Don't ask them to turn up half an hour before you have friends round for dinner whatever you do, unless you fancy serving them J-cloths on toast. I've seen a lot of the Tesco Direct vans around here, so there's obviously a call for this service, and at least they deliver in North London unlike Sainsbury who just can't be bothered to get their system running. Tescodirect is bound to get better and better. Frankly it does need to.
Vigin offer a relatively reliable, content rich service which I have had few problems with. Users of the non-subscription package have to use a one pound a minute phone line when they have trouble, but their staff are useful and informed. After ten minutes or so, they will arrange for an expert to phone you back, so there seems to be a limit to the cost of the service. The homepage is fine and has a search box provided by Google (which everyone round here seems to love) Various chats, competitions and features are offered and of course shopping. The mad bad world of Isps are changing so fast that it's near impossible to say what the best Isp is at any one time. But for now Virgin offer a safe bet.
Mirabelle is one of Marco Pierre White's restaurants. It is obligatory to describe him as an 'enfant terrible' though he's no longer much of an enfant. Maybe 'very successful chef turned businessman in his mid-thirties who no longer needs to cook to make money terrible' will do. I went for Sunday lunch. There's a set menu which was extremely good value and the food was terrific. The best roast beef and yorkshire pudding I've had for years. Roast chicken tasted pretty fantastic too. And a bread pudding for desert was delicious. In other words, simple food cooked perfectly. There's fancy stuff a la carte if you want it; don't you worry. There are bottles of wine available at Mirabelle at £30,000 a bottle. Best stick to house white if you're on a budget.
An excellent well managed space, the Whitechapel is a venue for a temporary exhibitions. These often have a contemporary feel. Gary Hume exhibited there earlier this year to packed audiences. Sometimes there are group exhibitions. Check Time Out and see what's on. Close to Aldgate and Aldgate East tube stations, The Whitechapel offers art lovers the perfect excuse to go to Brick Lane on a Sunday morning and fill up on cheap and yummy bagels. There are good art supply shops nearby too.