One fewer pet peeve

The BBC reports that Tesco are updating the signage on their express checkout lanes. Apparently there is some confusion about if the signs should read “10 items or less” or “10 items or fewer” so Tesco are going with “Up to 10 items” instead.

There is no confusion. Waitrose have had it correct for a long time now and it comes down to a simple rule: less is continuous, fewer is discrete. That is to say, if you can quantifiably count something use “fewer” and “less” otherwise. For example, you can have fewer items but less shopping.

Olympic review

I’ve just been reviewing some amazing photographs and recalling some great memories from a stunning couple of weeks of sport. I guess that’s what you’d be wanting after spending £20 billion on something in a way that a democracy just couldn’t do. I must admit that I’m suffering from a hefty case of post-Olympic come-down. The days ahead just seem so . . . empty somehow.

Continue reading Olympic review

Umbrella Etiquette

We’re roughly two thirds of the way through August and here in Edinburgh we’ve already had three times the average rainfall for the entire month. Consequently, I’ve recently spent a fair amount of time negotiating the streets with my umbrella (which is one of those huge marquee-on-a-stick type golf jobs) and noticed that there is an abundance of poor umbrellamanship around.

  • If you’re smaller than the person walking towards you then don’t try and raise your brolly over theirs. People a good foot shorter than me have tried to get the upper hand as it were and only succeeded in poking me in the head.
  • If you are the taller of the two parties then an early exaggerated movement upwards of your umbrella should stop any attempt by the other person to blind you.
  • If you are both of a similar height, then tilt your canopy to the opposite side than the side that the oncoming person will pass you on.
  • Do not shake the water from your umbrella into the path of other people.
  • Do not have your umbrella up when passing under bus stops or other shelters.
  • If you appear to be the only person with your umbrella up and you can no longer see the rain or splashes of raindrops in puddles then it has stopped raining. Put your umbrella down for crying out loud!

I am very tempted to purchase one of these unbreakable fighting umbrellas as used by Philippine presidential bodyguards for when people don’t adhere to the rules.

Seek and ye shall find

While the rest of the country was busy watching Super Saturday and the British “great haul of China“, I joined 167 other scavengers solving cryptic clues, seeking out items and performing tasks all across Edinburgh for the Festival Scavenger Hunt. If you saw people running around the city carrying obscure items like kitchen sinks yesterday then it’s a fair bet that they were also taking part.

Unfortunately we didn’t win but we did have a lot of fun along the way.

People initially asked which charity the hunt was in aid of but were more curious when we explained what was actually going on. I’m looking forward to seeing what has been made of all the submissions for a week-long exhibition at the City Art Centre that starts tomorrow.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the following people and businesses who helped me out during the day: The Dress Fabric Shop, Twigs Florists, The Bruntsfield Hotel, Cockburns Delicatessen, Greggs Bakery, Witchery Tours and the friends I pestered with phone calls and text messages. Twitter proved useless yet again. Obviously thanks also go to the organisers, my team mates and Whitespace for entering the teams and allowing us to use the office as a base of operations.

A full list of the clues and their point value follow.

Continue reading Seek and ye shall find

Now for something completely different

Edinburgh in August is a fantastic place to be. The Festival is in full swing, the sun doesn’t set until after 2100 and the pubs are open for longer. Okay, so the weather does demand that you equip yourself with an umbrella and sunglasses but spirits don’t appear to be dampened all that easily.

To many, comedy is what the Festival Fringe is all about and I can’t say that I’m all that different. I have been to see musicians, book launches, gallery openings and the odd bit of theatre but usually I’ll be laughing at Tommy Tiernan or someone similar.

However, for a bit of a change of tack, I think that I may have finally found a use for Twitter: I’m taking part in a scavenger hunt in-and-around Edinburgh in the morning, the fruits of which will be collated and presented in a week-long exhibition.

Keep an eye on my Twitter feed to see what I’m up to and looking for between 0900 and 1800 tomorrow.