THE world is on tenterhooks as it awaits the unveiling of the latest must-have gadget.
No, I don't mean the iPhone 5 – I'm talking about the X Headphones, designed by Simon Cowell and available to buy online from today. They cost £186 – that's £93 per shell-like – and will feature in the upcoming US version of The X Factor, where I imagine they will be worn by the judges in an attempt to block out the sound of the contestants' voices.
Cowell isn't the first celebrity to think he can put his name to a set of expensive headphones and add another nought to his taxable income. Justin Bieber launched a pair recently and there isn't a rapper worth his diamond-encrusted toilet seat who hasn't done the same. The big beast in the jungle, however, is Dr Dre, whose Beats By Dre "cans" are now so ubiquitous they even sell them in Argos, a level of popularity Cowell can only dream about.
Glancing at the television listings in a London broadsheet, seeing that ITV is showing the England v Ukraine World Cup qualifying match from Wembley and assuming – quite logically, I think – that STV will have cameras at Hampden Park for the game between Scotland and Macedonia, I feel a frisson of excitement run from my toes to my teeth.
It's so powerful, it causes sparks to fly off my polyester replica football top.
Still crackling with static electricity, I settle down on the sofa, crack open a cold beverage of the sort favoured by the Tartan Army on matchdays, turn on STV and find - Desperately Seeking Subo, a documentary about a musical about a talent-show winner from West Lothian. Oh dear.
A frisson of despair runs from my teeth down to my toes. No sparks fly off my polyester replica football top.
What do people get up to in hotel rooms? Judging by the winner of today's Most Eye-Catching Press Release award – a missive from Travelodge about the 20 most "left-behind" books in hotel rooms – it's not a question that can be answered in a family newspaper. But if I tell you that all three books in EL James's erotic Fifty Shades trilogy make the top 10, you can set your imagination to work on it.
Away from James's "mummy porn", the other entries will be familiar enough to anyone who has fallen for a three-for-two bookshop offer as they dash to catch an easyJet flight. Among them are David Nicholls's One Day, Kathryn Stockett's The Help and John Grisham's The Confession.
But one book on the list is a little more puzzling. It is called StrengthsFinder 2.0 and it's by an author I've never heard of, Tom Rath. So, another erotic novel? Nope. The second part of a sci-fi series which will soon become a motion picture starring someone who used to be in River City? Don't be silly. A thriller, then? Definitely not.
In fact, it is a personal development book. I'd tell you more but the only sentence I understand in a lengthy review on the Amazon website is the one that says predecessor StrengthsFinder 1.0 spent five years on the bestseller list and "ignited a global conversation". About what, I can't say as it clearly wasn't one I was party to.
So I ask again, though this time my question is aimed specifically at anyone who has ever reclined on a Travelodge bed with a mini-bar vodka in one hand and a copy of StrengthsFinder 1.0 or 2.0 in the other: what do people get up to in hotel rooms?
Until today I'd thought my growing interest in handcrafted artisan beer marked the start of a descent into middle age that would soon be accompanied by a desire to listen to Steely Dan and an urge to wear that replica football top tucked into belted M&S chinos.
I was wrong. I'm actually something of a zeitgeist-surfing trailblazer, at least where the beer is concerned. New figures from the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA), which knows more about hops than Simon Cowell does headphones, show that 158 new breweries opened in the last year. It takes the total to over 1000, the highest since before the second world war.
There's more. CAMRA says the revival is due to the boom in so-called microbreweries, specialists turning out beers with exotic names like Santa's Claws, Granny Wouldn't Like It and Yr Hen Darw Du. (That last one sounds like the sort of thing I text to the missus after too much Old Slapper but actually it's Welsh, though I have no idea what it means. "Drink in moderation", perhaps? After all, Yr Hen Darw Du has an ABV of 6.2%, which makes it strong enough to power the Hampden Park lawnmower.)
I recently spotted one of these microbreweries in the wild – Barney's Beer, currently sited in the wonderful Summerhall arts venue in Edinburgh and producing small amounts of Beet Red Beer and Good Ordinary Pale Ale. Bottles can be found in select howffs around the capital and in some branches of Peckham's.
Or you could just walk a dozen or so steps from where it's brewed to Summerhall's Royal Dick bar and sample it there – and with a shameless plug like that, I'm hoping to get a free case in Tuesday's post.
Up early to listen to the last-ever Radio 1 breakfast show presented by Chris Moyles. Don't think it's because I feel a sense of nostalgia or loss, however. I just want to make sure he actually leaves the building afterwards.
Moyles is to be replaced by the wonderfully named Nick Grimshaw, who sounds like he'd be more at home in a Dickens novel or in Bolton Wanderers' 1958 cup-winning side. Google Images reveals he is in fact a sprightly twentysomething with an artfully tousled quiff and a gaggle of celebrity friends. Meanwhile, rumours that Moyles is leaving to launch his own line of headphones could not be confirmed at the time of writing.
A long and frustrating day spent in a fever of anticipation even greater than that which attended the launch of Simon Cowell's headphones on Monday: time drags heavy when you're counting down the hours until the third series of Downton starts ...
I grab some phone time midweek with British actor David Harewood, currently filming the new series of Homeland in North Carolina. He plays CIA boss David Estes. So will he reveal a few plot details? He will not. "My mother is constantly ringing me to find out what happens next," he laughs. "I never tell her."
Tom Rath – no, me neither – is a favourite of hotel room readers
Radio 1 breakfast show host has left the building - at last
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