Bling, Blogs and Bluetooth by Nick Parker

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Bling, Blogs and Bluetooth by Nick Parker

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Category: Home and Family
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A fascinating selection of pieces from The Oldie magazine's 'Modern Life' column will amuse, sadden and make you think. It will appeal to anyone who has ever failed to programme a video recorder.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: October 2006
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
ISBN: 1861978243

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I've just had One of Those Birthdays. It was the one that led to a letter arriving on the hottest day of the year - telling me that I was entitled to a winter fuel payment. Despite feeling only twenty-seven, I was officially Old and obviously in need of updating, er, sorry - a makeover. Bling, Blogs and Bluetooth arrived at just the right time.

If you're my age you'll have heard of The Oldie magazine. You might, like me, have mocked it, because you're not old enough to read something like that. Well, I've changed my mind after reading this splendid collection of extracts from the Modern Life column. Edited by Nick Parker (whose writing was a revelation to me) there are some exceptional contributors, including an introduction by Richard Ingrams. My favourite is George Monbiot with his personal take on what it costs to subvert the Labour Party, with the tragedy being that it comes so cheap.

Nick Parker's piece on Call Centres had me laughing out loud at the thought of Indians in their own country being given country-specific information so that they could ask if we were going to the big game on Saturday. He might have laughed too at my recent experience - calling my local branch (as I thought) to say that the cheque card they'd sent me had no white signature strip, I was told "Mrs Mar Gee I am telling you that you are to sign on the behind of the card." Perhaps it's a sign of age that we still expect to be able to ring, or better still, pop into the Bank to deal with these matters. It's a long time since I've been into our local branch, but Jean McCrindle tells me that I can expect to be assaulted by that bugbear of modern life - piped music. She also tells me that we're all paying for this music which none of us seems to want.

Some pieces were very thought-provoking. I've always thought that the Investors in People logo was the mark of a good employer, but James Pembroke tells me that people are more willing to work for an employer with the award because they feel that they will be respected. They're even prepared to take lower pay. As a result the award is chased by less scrupulous companies who feel that they'll be able to get good staff for less money. Ironic and rather sad, isn't it?

Caroline Richmond had me chuckling at the idea of Distant Healing via the computer. So far as I could see the main beneficiaries are the healers who receive some very substantial cheques. A rather more intimate connection is there in Alan White's piece on dogging. Apparently the internet has been used to form dogging clubs and many park wardens say that public exhibitionism is a greater problem for them than poaching or graffiti.

I haven't mentioned the pieces by Michael Bywater, Miles Kington, Lynne Truss and Terry Wogan, but they're all there in the book. I read it through from beginning to end, but you could equally well dip into it and read what takes your fancy, as the pieces are arranged alphabetically by subject matter. I had great fun reading the pieces and trying to guess the author before I saw the by-line. No individual piece is more than two or three pages long and they're all crisply written. I defy you not to learn something from most of them.

'Old' is a state of mind rather than an age group. Someone once told me that technology is anything that happens after you're eighteen years old and I must confess that most technology passes right by me these days. It was reassuring to know that I wasn't the only one and I was fascinated to have some of today's unusual phrases explained. I couldn't have imagined myself speed dating and I never had the energy to be a hyper-parent.

It's a book to buy for yourself or for that someone who never will be old but who has 'experience' behind them. I'm sure they'll appreciate it. I'll leave you with a final thought. 'Jumping the shark' is that point when a television or radio series makes a desperate attempt to improve its ratings by the introduction of some extraordinary melodrama. In real life a man jumped into the shark tank at Brighton's Sea Life Centre for a £1 bet. He survived, but the shark died two days later, most probably from stress.

Just like this book, it makes you think, doesn't it? I've read quite a few of the books of collected writing being published in time for Christmas, and this is far and away the best of them.

If this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?

This book was kindly sent to The Bookbag by the publishers.

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Buy Bling, Blogs and Bluetooth by Nick Parker at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bling, Blogs and Bluetooth by Nick Parker at


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