Monday, 16 August 2010

Random round-up

I got Cerys Matthew's CD of Welsh folk standards today, Tir. It's very good. I also got a copy of Breaking Away, my favourite film when I was a teen. It's what got me into cycling - a classic tale of an American small-town boy who becomes obsessed with race cycling to the extent that he adopts an Italian accent to emulate his heroes. Having been treated shoddily by them in a race, he forms a team of working-class locals to beat those snobs up at the university. Highly recommended.

Talking of cycling, there's a job going for you ladies. Not a very progressive one, I should point out:

Happy news for women looking to break into the male dominated world of cycle racing: the Tour of Britain, our island's humble version of the Gallic road race, is looking for a woman to take part.
The bad news is that the chosen lady will not be giving the gents what-for on her bicycle, but looking pretty on the podium, kissing the sweaty cheek of whichever man win's the day's stage.
For the princely sum of £50 per eight-hour day (plus accommodation and expenses), you could become a "presentation hostess" for the eight-day men-only race, which starts in Rochdale on 11 September.
What is crushingly depressing is that the hostesses (known widely as podium girls and festishised all over the internet) tend to be top cyclists themselves. The "winner" will join Lauren Bason, who rides for Wolverhampton Wheelers, on the podium. And at this year's Tour de France, Claire Pedrono, cycling champion of Brittany, was given the "honour" or holding up the chalkboard with the information about the riders' times.
Alastair Grant, the Tour's commercial manager, doesn't think so. "It's very much part of the history and culture of cycling - for better or worse - that there are presentation hostesses involved in the podium presentations at the end of the stage. Their role is not to stand there and look pretty by any means; they are there to coordinate the activity that goes on. They will be bringing our VIP dignitaries on the stage, handing the trophies to them to hand to the cyclists, they help the riders to put the presentation jerseys on."
If you want the very important job of helping grown men put their jumpers on, email

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