Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

More Columnar Bargains

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Two for the price of one again in this week’s Observer - or for the price of none, if you read it here. Better if you buy the paper, of course! Newspapers are under threat and the Observer (in my opinion) is the best paper there is. If everyone stopped buying it, there’d be no more rustling papers over the coffee cups on a Sunday morning. Clicketing websites over the coffee cups wouldn’t be nearly so romantic.

  Nevertheless, maybe you’re bedridden with a summer flu; maybe your newsagent delivered the Sunday Times by mistake; maybe your flight home from Guam got volcan-celled and you’re still stuck with nothing but a laptop connecting you to the world… if so, here’s what I have to say today about a tricky choice for old folk between sudoku and martial arts, and here’s my election column about Clegg, weather forecasters and Tesco.

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Hilary Phillips at 11:18 am on April 25th, 2010

I just love your column in the Observer every week.
Most enjoyable to read and always interesting too.
Keep up the good work.

Sam at 1:18 pm on April 25th, 2010

As always the Observer proves a cracking morning hangover cure. I was wondering if you ever consider talking about actual policies in your political column? I know it’s not the in thing to do, but so far coverage of actual policies has been at a bare minimum in this campaign in the majority of media outlets.

I gave up watching TV coverage of it three or four days in when instead of covering policies we just had a thousand interviews with members of the public going “I don’t know who to vote for, they’re all the bloody same.” Which is a little ironic as watching it I was thinking “Why are they interviewing so many members of the public? They’re all the bloody same”

paul h at 4:56 pm on April 25th, 2010

The problem with the lib-dems is not that Ming the Merciless is the only one in the party that can remember a Liberal government. Their policies are the problem (that and the smugness of their campaigners which makes one wish them physical harm).

The thing that gets me is Nick Clegg’s use of ‘the old parties’. Somebody should tell him the Liberals are somewhat older than Labour.

Mark Bridger at 8:58 pm on April 25th, 2010

I heard that they put some oldies in a time warp bubble for a and white TV’s if they had traveled back in time..and when they re-emerged they were all 30% brighter.

That gives me an idea..I could start a retro superstore and get on the rich list. How about it Victoria? You could be my partner (apparently there’s a new chick in the poker world so you might be thinking of something new, and she’s an astrophysicist - wow my favourite topic of conversation).
You’re still the cutest xx

Green Duck at 5:24 pm on April 26th, 2010

Victoria, don’t you feel that the more recent bloggers are making inappropriate suggestions? Consider your reputation.

thick oap at 5:46 pm on April 26th, 2010

Last I knew you weren’t a scientist, yet you claim to know more than them. You should use your superior brain power to google up the actual report. The ‘dodgy’ tests, as you call them, were carried out by proper scientists at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cognition and Brian Sciences Unit in Cambridge. Adrian Owen (a neuroscientist btw) said there’s nothing wrong with playing the games for fun. “But if you’re expecting them to improve your IQ, our data suggests this isn’t the case”. Vicky Coren (gambler and member of London’s media twitterati) disagrees. She plays poker with oap’s and knows better. She also found in her studies that old people who sit in parks gawping at Dahlias, and who don’t gamble away their life savings are probably thick and miserable.

Victoria Coren at 6:01 pm on April 26th, 2010

But how could anyone extrapolate effects on the IQ, when they tested only memory? I’m sorry I’m on Twitter, but surely that doesn’t completely disqualify me from being aware that memory and intelligence are not the same thing?

Granny Carrurthers at 10:34 pm on April 26th, 2010

I love you, please marry me.

Sam at 12:05 am on April 27th, 2010

I don’t really get the acerbic undertones in oap’s post. But I think he sort of highlights a point I understand in that I am never a big fan of when a media personality (for want of a less dickish term) with little or no scientific background criticises studies like this.

Often it is more to do with how the media reports on these studies than the actual studies themselves that is the problem.

Not that I disagree with you as such. I mean what this has proven is that brain training over six weeks does not work. But obviously that does not really equate to “Brain Training does not work”, which is what we see in headlines.

peter at 12:05 am on April 27th, 2010

Just wanted to say I’ve been reading your Observer column for a long time now and it never fails to put a smile on my face.  It’s a shame some of the humourless people who post on the same paper’s Comment is Free site stray onto this one.  However, I must admit I did follow thick oap’s advice and eagerly googled the Brian Sciences Unit hoping to find out more about Messrs Clough, May and Blessed only to be sadly disappointed with what came up.

Keep up the good work.

adam at 12:18 am on April 27th, 2010

While there is little evidence for any improvement in mental abilities from “brain training” there have been numerous studies showing a reduction in mental decline in the elderly that participate in mentally stimulating activities such as “board games, crossword puzzles and reading”.
  Additionally, the “proper scientists” that carried out the study used a control group of people using a computer but not brain training programs. Another study found simply using internet search engines had a positive effect on brain function. So i would have to agree this one is “dodgy”.

RAE at 12:48 am on April 27th, 2010

Good god you’re Alan Coren’s daughter, I have read your father’s books with such great pleasure and a degree of abdominal pain from laughing far too much. Seems the genetic gift has been passed on.
Ok here’s the rub, “Just a gasp at Twilight” always wanted to turn it into a piece of animation, not for any particular financial reasons but because I love the story, who do i approach to chat to about it? No story boards or art work but I can hear the voices and the coughs even now. What can I say, at the tender age of 39 took myself off to uni to become an animator, won an Edinburgh international film festival and Skillset Trailblazer award last year with my first short, I’d really enjoy the opportunity? Any contacts would be welcomed

Victoria Coren at 9:16 am on April 27th, 2010

Dear RAE
  Thanks for your nice words about my father - if you go to the ‘books’ page of this site, you’ll see my brother and I made a new compilation of his best and funniest stuff which you might want to have a look at - it is a great read! I will get someone to drop you an email about the other stuff, a cartoon is a sweet idea, my dad would’ve liked it.

RAE at 9:50 am on April 27th, 2010

Thanks for the reply, wasn’t sure if this was the best place to ask, already spotted the compilation, your father was one of those rare people that can just make me smile and worry about laughter induced incontinence!

Look forward to finding out what’s possible, legal and allowed.

Mark the dreamer at 5:14 pm on April 27th, 2010

On the ageing issue, I follow that doing what you enjoy doing keeps you going well enough and happy - doing new things too. But then, brain training exercises are not that enjoyable are they? (especially when done in the strict circumstances of a scientific test) . No one should be wasting their time doing them thinking that is what is going to stave off dementia, when they could be something they really enjoy, or writing their memoirs.

I read that dreaming uses more brain power than concentrating, by the way, in case one felt a bit guilty about not wanting to do anything other than sleep, dream, talk, reminisce and telling the younger folk about how it was in days gone by.
I dream of sailing at sea and sculpting on land.

John at 1:24 pm on April 28th, 2010

Dahlias…ah, now you’re talking!
That long hot summer of ‘76
The garish blooms in a vase on the table,
‘And is there Arctic Roll for tea?’

MDW at 4:54 pm on April 28th, 2010

I’m not sure old people should be learning how to fall properly so that when they fall they don’t hurt themselves.

They should learn how to not get their old bodies into positions where they might fall over - or am I oversimplifying all this?

When I’m old (older) I’m getting a full size baby walker (I think that’s what it’s called), there’‘ll be no stopping me.

Victoria Coren

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