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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

May 23, 2006

Your questions answered (OR: The Mysteries of Search)

Hello and welcome to another trawl through your questions.

First up today, Ocado in Trouble. Although Ocado are clearly the best exponents of online grocery shopping, in my opinion, the business model is wrong. First of all, very few people plan out a week's shopping on a proper list. You do not see people walking round Saino's with a shopping list. There are so many in-store offers these days, people adjust their plans as they shop. So having to fill a virtual shopping trolley without being able to see what's on the shelves is very difficult.

Secondly, as I've said before, no matter how much they reassure you, most people aren't comfortable with the idea of a complete stranger choosing fruit, veg, and cuts of meat for them. So that's the sort of thing you want to get in person. And if you're going anyway...

I have no idea if Ocado really are in trouble, but I will say this. I used the service once (as advertised, except 600g of my 5kg bag of potatoes was completely unusable), and they've emailed me every week since, offering me £5 off or a bottle of wine. And I've never gone back. They will have shown growth while people (like me) experimented with the service. But once the tyre kickers have been by.... tumbleweed. Ipso Fatso, as Wellington would say. I rest my case.

Turn into search engines. I have no idea what this means.

Kenny Chesney Without Hat. Yes, he's bald. He really is. Can we move on now?

Holy anal. You what?

Realistic beheading. You are either very sick or very dull.

Finally, a two-for-one. Five Live dumbing down and Peter Allen Five Live. It's unfortunately true that Five Live do a lot of dumbing down. I'm almost 100% certain they have researchers and backroom staff who are wet behind the ears, know nothing, and - knowing nothing - assume the rest of world knows as little as them. On the other hand, the Simon Mayo show (as previously noted) is very, very good. Nicky Campbell is an annoying Kent Hunt, but his co-presenter Sheilagh Fogarty is wonderful. And there are few broadcasting partnerships to match Peter Allen and Jane Garvey in the afternoon. Peter Allen: world-weary, cynical, bored, over-experienced, but basically compassionate; Garvey: witty, impatient, sharp, and daring. Neither of them knows anything about science, though, which is where the dumbing down comes in.

It interests me that there are people on the other side of the world listening to Five Live Drive (at - obviously - the wrong time of day) who wonder who the people are behind the voices. There are bios on the BBC web site of course (click the link that says Presenters). Peter Allen used to work for ITN, and I think even did some time in Australia. The key thing about him, he's not very tall and he has a lot of hair. I always think of him as a stern but basically decent father-in-law. Whereas Jane Garvey is the plain Jane you fall in love with because she makes you laugh a lot.


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