Individually handmade

PizzaExpress At Home pizzas are individually handmade
Pizza Express (sorry, I mean PizzaExpress) claims its pizzas are "individually handmade".

This has got me thinking: is 'individually handmade' different to just 'handmade'?

Well, yes: I suppose it is possible to make pizzas by hand but in batches.

While I'm not surprised that pizzas in PizzaExpress restaurants are made both individually and by hand, I find it harder to believe that PE's 'at home' pizzas are prepared in the same way. What, no batch operations at all? That's quite something.

PS. I know I've written a lot of food-related posts recently. Normal service will be resumed in the new year...

Gender stereotyping on the Daily Mail website

So this New Year's Eve we're staying in and cooking some nice Moroccan dishes (rock and roll, huh).

My girlfriend had been looking for a recipe for Moroccan fishcakes and found a promising-looking one on the Daily Mail website.

She noted with disdain, however, that the recipe was located in the 'Femail' part of the site - which is coloured a nice pinky-purple - "because obviously cooking is women's work".

Food and drink section of Daily Mail website

James Brown buys UGG boots

Back in September I blogged about James Brown wanting to buy a sun lounger from me. The following month the deceased entertainer was after some asymmetric bars.

Unfortunately I couldn't help him with either of these requests - but Mr Brown has made at least one purchase this year, according to a blog I maintain at work:

James Brown comments on his UGG boots
Godfather of Soul? More like Godfather of Sole...

The grill can be used as a grill

One of the Christmas presents I received this year was a fantastic Sainsbury's 'Health Grill' (an own-brand equivalent of a George Foreman grill):

Sainsbury's Health Grill
Being a thorough kind of person, I read the instructions before using the grill and was amused to come across the following sentence:

The grill can be used as a grill and can cook a wide variety of foodstuffs.

Really - the grill can be used as a grill? And here I was planning to use it as a microwave...

What's behind the 'G' door?

I was in a North London pub this afternoon when I needed the toilet so I followed the sign upstairs.

The first door I came across had a giant letter 'G' painted on it. 'Ah,' I thought, 'this must be the gents.'

I was just about to open it when I realised that while 'G' almost certainly stood for 'Gentlemen', there was a chance it stood for 'Girls' instead.

So I had to walk down the corridor looking to see what letter was painted on the next door. It was, unsurprisingly, 'L'.

For a brief moment I wondered whether this stood for 'Ladies' or 'Lads', but then I realised I was being even more ridiculous than usual, so I retraced my steps and opened the first door.

I did feel a bit like I was on a gameshow.

All butter mince pies are not all butter

Gareth has sent in a festive question to The Engine Room:

I've just bought some 'all butter mince pies' which are very tasty but clearly not all butter. If they were all butter, they'd be a block of butter. What does this mean exactly?

I have it on good authority that it means the mince pies are made with 'all-butter' pastry (the hyphen seems to be optional). This is still confusing because butter is not the only ingredient in all-butter pastry; however, it is the only fat.

In other words, Gareth, your pie pastry doesn't include any other fats, such as margarine.

Back in 2007, when The Engine Room was only a few months old, I blogged about all-butter cookies. As that was the first post on this blog to include a picture, it's only fitting that I should share with you now an image of delicious all butter mince pies:

All butter mince pies from Waitrose
I've taken this image from the brilliant Mince Pie Club website, which is the sort of website I'd like to run when I grow up.

Anyway, enough rambling - season's greetings to you all.

Evening Standard: 'Two women killed and 47 injured on trip to see Christmas lights'

Here's the front page of today's London Evening Standard:

As you can hopefully see, the subhead reads: "TWO WOMEN KILLED AND 47 INJURED ON TRIP TO SEE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS".

This subhead strikes me as strange for two reasons:

  • It seems to suggest that 47 women were injured, when in fact 47 people - men and women - were injured.

  • If two men had been killed, I'm fairly sure the Standard's subhead would have been: "TWO KILLED AND 47 INJURED ON TRIP TO SEE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS".

    So why specify in the subhead that the two people killed were women? Is it somehow more shocking when women are killed than men? Look at it this way: if the two people killed had been children, the Standard would definitely have specified that.

Here's the web version of the story: Coach horror: Driver saved us from worse injuries, say passengers

Stopping one station at a time

One of my colleagues heard this announcement when she was on the train home yesterday:

This service will be only be stopping one station at a time due to adverse weather conditions.

Only stopping one station at a time... what, instead of stopping at two stations at once?

Three steps to a better press release

You want to submit a press release to a print or web publication - but how can you make sure it stands out? I asked a friendly news editor (well, the friendliest news editor I could find) for his advice. And here it is:

  1. Keep your press release short. Magazines and websites get swamped with them. If someone is interested and wants to find out more, they will contact you.

  2. Include an image – if nothing else, it will help the recipient to understand quickly what you are talking about.

  3. Know exactly who you want to target: which individual on which publication. Most publications will have a general email address for press releases but you are much better targeting a specific, appropriate person rather than using this.

Any more words of wisdom out there?

Skin cancer caused by 'ultra violent sunlight', according to

According to an article published on today, skin cancer is caused by "ultra violent sunlight":

Screengrab from Telegraph article
This one was actually spotted by Ed Yong and retweeted by my colleague Sue Proud - I just wanted to record it for posterity.

WHSmith £5 off... but £5 off what?

When I bought something in WHSmith yesterday I was given a voucher for £5 off my next purchase. As you might expect, there are conditions to using the voucher - it's only valid between 26 December 2009 and 3 January 2010, and only "when you spend £20 or more in store".

That's fine, but the list of exclusions in small print on the back of the voucher makes me laugh. The offer excludes all:
  • Mobile phones
  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • Games and consoles
  • Stamps
  • Tobacco
  • Gift vouchers
  • Phone cards
  • iTunes gift cards
  • e-books
  • e-readers
  • Book tokens
  • Theatre tokens
  • National Lottery products
It would be easier to list everything I could spend the voucher on. Um, stationery? Birthday cards? Books?

Maximo Park singing 'Liver Salts'

This weekend I was amused to learn that my girlfriend thought the song 'Limassol' by Maximo Park was about 'liver salts' rather than a city in Cyprus.

She has given me permission to mention this on the blog as long as I also mention that she never saw the song title written down.

And now I'm pleased to introduce Maximo Park singing 'Liver Salts' (the first mention of which is around the one-minute mark):

Ambiguous BBC News headline: 'Children's boss axed after death'

I'm not sure about the BBC News headline 'Children's boss axed after death':

Children's boss axed after death

So first the children's boss died, and then someone hacked at her corpse with an axe? Wait, no - it wasn't her death, and she was only axed metaphorically.

Even changing 'axed' to 'sacked' would have made for a better headline - and it's not as if two extra characters would have caused it to bust.

UPDATE - I've just looked again at the story on the BBC News website and spotted that the headline has been rewritten since I took my original screengrab yesterday:

Salford children's director fired after toddler death
So 'axed' has become 'fired' and 'death' is now qualified with 'toddler'. In addition, 'Children's boss' has become 'Salford children's director'.

Lorem oopsum

I spotted this Kids Company advert in yesterday's City AM free paper. Click on the image to see a larger version, and then have a look at the text panel in the bottom right:

That's right, it's a paragraph of lorem ipsum placeholder text. Oops.

Circle Line becomes Lasso Line?

Neil has emailed in to say:

I see the Circle Line is extending. It doesn't go in a circle any more - surely it should now be called the 'Spiral Line' instead!

Neil's referring to the Circle Line of the London Underground, of course. And apparently (at least according to the Evening Standard) the line is now being referred to as the 'Lasso Line' - hey, at least it alliterates.

The extended Circle Line on the London Underground, or Tube, could be called the Lasso LineThe Lasso Line?

A long time ago, in an ancient time

The voiceover on the current Ferrero Rocher TV ad begins:

A long time ago, in an ancient time

Surely most ancient times were a long time ago?

And while repetition can be a powerful rhetorical device, those two 'times' don't do much for me.

Earths every minute vs Suns every year

From a science feature in yesterday's Metro:

The largest known quasar devours the matter equivalent of 600 Earths every minute; the brightest known quasars consume the equivalent of 1,000 Suns every year

Wow, those figures certainly sound impressive. But I have no idea how many Suns every year make up one Earth every minute - or vice versa. So does the largest known quasar consume matter more quickly than the brighest known quasars? I assume so, but without looking up some figures and getting my calculator out, I don't really know.

Excuse the pun, but things like this matter.

Ghost forest

The website I work for is running a story about a contract to haul dead trees from Ghana to London and then on to Copenhagen.

The trees are being used in an art exhibition called 'Ghost Forest'.

Our content editor explained this to me by saying that the contract was to haul a ghost forest. Slightly confusing!

To make matters worse, I misheard him and thought he'd said that the contract was to haul a 'ghost florist'. That's an unusual load...

Goodcopybadycopy: 'Scenes from corporate life'

Being interested in language and working for a large company, I find it easy to relate to the 'Scenes from corporate life' cartoons that appear weekly on the goodcopybadcopy blog.

This one is my current favourite:

Goodcopybadcopy: Cartoons

BBC News: 'Thousands of Vicks spray recalled'

I like BBC News, I really do. But I did spot this recently:

Thousands of Vicks spray recalled
"Thousands of Vicks spray recalled" - shouldn't that be 'sprays'?

The headline on the story currently reads "Procter & Gamble recalls 120,000 Vicks nasal sprays" - but "Thousands of Vicks spray recalled" still comes up as a result when you search the BBC website.

Especially on the web, mistakes can be pervasive.