‘New Orleans – Five years on’

“On the 29th August 2005 Hurricane Katrina caused severe destruction as it hit New Orleans.  Five years on, although many areas are still devastated by the storm, things are finally beginning to look up for ‘The city that care forgot’.   I therefore wanted to bring back to the forefront of our minds why this vibrant, colourful hotspot (115 degrees Fahrenheit at most) is still without a doubt a gem of the Deep South.

 The cosmopolitan French Quarter is a neighbourhood situated in the heart of New Orleans. Each building is beautifully designed with the French and Spanish influenced architecture common in downtown Orleans. The area grips you with its warm colours and the sounds of soothing Jazz music played on every street corner. As the Mississippi river winds south of the city it releases a small breeze that gives a soothing rest bite to those of us more acclimatized to torrential downpours than the swelling heat of the Deep South. Jackson Square, the bustling centre of the French Quarter gathers pace with street artists, performers and brass bands, all with the great ease that only New Orleans can pull off as a horse drawn carriage gently meanders past. 

Travelers old and young frequent New Orleans to forget their own woes, to let loose, and music is certainly what brings this vibrant city to life.  All visitors are welcomed to join in the year long festivities including Jazz Fest, Voodoo fest and the ever popular Mardi Gras.  During carnival season ‘The Big Easy’ shines with the traditional Mardi Gras colours of Purple- Justice, Gold- Power and Green-Faith.  Multi-coloured beads are thrown from extravagantly decorated floats, each one individually crafted to a theme from Zulu to Bakaas (the dog parade no less.)  Each parade dances to the wonderful sound of the infamous Second Line band marching in between every float. There is no such thing as a stranger here, only family, friends and visiting friends. The ‘Nawlins’ people certainly make this city what it is today.

During my stay the New Orleans Saints won the Super bowl (Our equivalent of England winning the World Cup) with the support of not only a state but an entire nation. America duly noticed that this was not merely a sporting comeback but a personal comeback for the people of New Orleans. The depth and courage of each player was echoed on the faces of their supporters. During Hurricane Katrina tens of thousands of residents made their way to the superdome for shelter from the storm and now, five years on the same dome was lit up in the Saints colours of black and gold.  The streets were buzzing with the chants of ‘Who Dat!’ to celebrate their first ever win of the 44th annual Super bowl.  They were back!

This unique city certainly has to be experienced to be believed, and I sincerely hope that many others will follow in my footsteps and visit one of America’s (and my) favourite cities.

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Big Brother – The Alternate Blog

Ten years, 255 housemates, one house and a Davina yelling louder than a partridge being strangled in a pear tree.

What started off as an interesting look into people interacting with each other on a day to day basis, turned into a bunch of morons trying to outdo each other and Davina in the ‘who can scream the loudest and be the most annoying competition.’ (For the record Marco at least you won something)

It all began with the first ever winner ‘our Crraig’. As he exited he generously gave his winnings to his friend who was in need of emergency medical treatment. (For the record having your boobs done is not the same thing Sophie, Chantelle, and Nadia) Since winning Crrraig has since raised even more money for the Down’s Syndrome Association of which he is a patron. On the other hand Chanelle ‘who?’ released the third biggest selling calendar of 2008 (score).

The most exciting thing to happen in Series 1 was Nasty Nick writing other housemates names down on a piece of paper, in turn he exited as the most hated man in the UK. Since then housemates have abused, bullied, tormented and in one case tried to hit another housemate (you know who you are Victor) with less consequences. Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that things have changed dramatically in the last ten years and not just inside the house of career suicide. But Craig, Anna and Darren represented people you knew, someone you would see in the pub and have a drink with; a few series later and Makosi, Angel and Halfwit to name a few are people you’d rather throw a drink on. 

Do not fear viewers if you feel that you may experience serious withdrawal symptoms once BB has ended. I am certain that ex – housemates will be reappearing on a television screen too near you for the formidable future. Stay tuned for ‘Big Brother Vs Supernanny’ or ‘Big Brother How Clean is your house’ (I’m going to hazard a guess at not very) and ‘Big Brother Come Dine with Me’ Oh wait, yes you can tune into that show on Monday evening. If this isn’t enough for you there’s always Panto season just around the corner! Any TV producers reading this I have a better suggestion, how about ‘Big Brother goes to Africa’ and stays there. Maybe ‘Big Brother – Escape to the Country please.’

Turn off some would say, there are plenty of other channels, but plenty of others agree otherwise BB 11 would not be the final curtain (Well on Channel 4 anyway. It is returning next year on another channel, but I’m pretty certain that when they went through the scripts, Davina bellowing “THE LAST BIG BROTHER EVER…..except for everyone who has Channel five’ didn’t have the same effect.

The problem is they had something that worked; admittedly you wanted some drama but why should that include the dregs of society arguing over stolen shoes. Most of the recent housemates (sorry I was being kind) ALL of the recent housemates are fame hungry, wannabees and what do they ‘wanna be?’  Famous for proving that stupidity is an art form, and is actually well practised prior to entry. Mission accomplished people.  BB started putting in housemates who were willing to do anything from ‘molesting’ a bottle of wine to doing the same to Stuart ‘chicken’ under a table. (I’d rather the bottle) Big Brother made even desperate attempts to win back the fifty lost viewers by giving ‘normal’ folk a chance to gain entry through finding the winning wrapper of a chocolate bar (The winner being ‘someone normal’ who had enough cash to buy the chocolate factory.) Ask the likes of Minga and Camel from BB 5, what they have done since Big Brother and they’ll probably tell you I’m a model, TV presenter or recording artiste. ‘Listen luv for the record filming with your camcorder and interviewing your Barbie’s does not constitute TV presenting, or does it now…………. Davina?

Winning isn’t a dead cert for any longevity anymore either. I really want to know what happened too Anthony ‘Way ay dance in Butlins’ Hutton, oh wait no I don’t.

Moving on and Josie ‘I’m normal I am” Gibson left the BB house the winner of the final Big Brother.  Craig won with 51% of the final vote, and I think if I heard Davina right the hundred times she may have mentioned it, Josie had the biggest landslide win in BB11 with 77.5% of the vote. That’s not a good thing Davina; all that shows is that out of the 11 original housemates in Big Brother 1, Craig was up against some other hopeful winners as opposed to Josie who became victorious after being the best housemate out of a group of psycho, self obsessed nymphs.  And what about second place who went to….nope I can’t remember his name either.

Well the Ultimate Big Brother is about to come to a close and Endemol have done exactly what brought this show to an early grave and put in the ultimate worse housemates ever. So who’s going to win the coveted title? Who cares?

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