Friday, 29 May 2015

FIFA Mayoral Routemaster

Was watching Vintage Antiques Roadshow before the news last night and they had some London Transport Routemaster buses on the programme. It was a sad day when they got rid of the design and went for the driver/conductor model. The open rear platform of the Routemaster, combined with a clippy, ensured that buses stopped at bus stops for an absolute minimum of time, avoiding clogging up streets for several minutes while passengers queue to pay their fare to the driver. Added to this, passengers could board and alight at places that were not scheduled bus stops, adding convenience to the service - as well as the frisson of a modicum of risk. It was probably a result of a combination of the all pervading Health and Safety and halving the manpower cost; however, there are other considerations these days, like city centre congestion, more efficient services and customer service.

Spotted Putin on the news last night giving his endorsement (and hence the kiss of death) to Sepp Blatter. Putin's not exactly untainted by the whiff of corruption himself - more like the stink of corruption. Is it my imagination or did Vlad look like he'd paid a recent visit to the Wind Tunnel School of Cosmetic Surgery? He's definitely looking more Asiatic of late.

"Our bidding campaign was held honestly. Russia is not mixed up in corruption, everything is fair for our part," Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko assured reporters in Zurich. Well, based on previous official statements from the Russian government, it's now assured there was corruption involved.

One hears that other paragon of virtue, George Galloway, is standing for London Mayor. About as much chance of him becoming Mayor as Blatter or Putin have of being believed about anything.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

How Does She Do It?

Saw Mrs Queen reading the Queen's Speech on TV last night - with gloves! She must have little rubber ends to her gloves so she can turn the pages.

OK, I admit it - I bought a pneumatic pop rivet gun on eBay yesterday!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Who To Believe on Tenancy?

Was listening to the Today programme on the radio while driving to Gosport yesterday to see a customer. There was an item about the economies of the EU, where it was stated that the UK economy is in good health and growing due to the UK having taken the medicine of austerity. This was immediately followed by an item on Nicola Sturgeon calling for an end to cuts as it was damaging the UK economy. I'm more inclined to believe the economist than Nicola Sturgeon, especially as we hear that politicians have a propensity to tell lies.

People are getting all het up about Tory plans to extend the right to buy. I can't see why, though I'm no expert on council houses.

If someone can afford to buy their council house, then surely taking the property out of the social housing stock, releasing the equity and reinvesting it in more social housing for those who actually need it seems sense. If someone can afford to buy their home (admittedly with a discount), then surely they no longer need to be in social housing? It accounts for the fact that people's circumstances change, whereas keeping them in council properties is a waste of a resource.

The fact the ex council tenant may sell up immediately and make a profit is neither here nor there. As for the properties being sold to Tory chums, surely that's a fallacy, as the onward sale is controlled by the ex tenant. Even then the property is sold on at market value, which can't be all that high if located in a council estate where the majority can't afford to buy in the first place.

I suppose there is a drive for council tenants to over-extend themselves for a short period to buy their property in the hope of making a profit in a very short space of time, but they would still need to buy somewhere else, and fast.

The plan surely consumes less of our taxes than simply building more social housing, as the new stock would be partially funded by council tenants no longer needing to be in social housing buying their homes?

Perhaps someone can put me straight on this?

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

National Front Cooking

Overheard while watching a TV programme about Indian cooking. The Scots Sikh chef is eating with a local maharaja.

Hay: "So where does the Indian maharajas' money come from?"

Chairman: "Same place as our aristos - land, companies and the National Front - no, not the National Front. What do you call it? Oh yes, their equivalent of the National Trust."

Monday, 25 May 2015


Chairman: "My damned back is playing me up again. Need to see an osteopath."

Hay: "It's all that walking upright that's giving you problems. It's a vet you need to see."

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Judging a Fun Run

Saw a poster yesterday advertising a "Fun Run". Surely that's an oxymoron?

We had the first BBQ of the season last night and finished around 10:30 pm. Just before retiring we switched on the TV and tuned into the Eurovision thingy in time to see some voting and heard Conchita Wurst saying; "There's no judgement at Eurovision." I thought that was the whole purpose, or am I missing something?

The entries seemed to be the usual array of dated power ballads or circus acts. Hideous stuff having more to so with spectacle than taste. That said, we caught a reprise of the Austrian entry, which we both agreed was a half decent song from a different mould that would probably do well if untainted by Eurovision and released in the normal way. Looked up the results this morning and needless to say, Austria came joint last.

My winner was Nigella reading out the UK votes. She won - no doubt about it. No need for glimpses of flesh or displays of acrylic Euroboobs. She's classy - but let herself down badly by being associated with the show in the first place.

Electro Velvet - who chose that name? Sounds straight from the 70s.

It's called Eurovision, but the voting seemed plagued by video link failures.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Sicilian Defence for Tools

We share a drive with Hay's dad. He has the most annoying habit of taking his car out of his garage and then leaving it in his famous Sicilian Defence blocking position, which leaves me unable to get out.

I haven't the foggiest why he insists on doing it and it has become a popular joke within the 3 households of us, Hay's dad and her sister. When quizzed about it he says he has to go out, but it could be 6 hours later! It's a war of attrition. Going to leave a stinger across the drive...

Finished the trailer mudguards last night. Well, I say finished - I need a stronger pop rivet gun than the one I have.

So the trailer cost me £200 and the mudguards have cost me £10 for the drums. Then there was £30 for the sabre saw, £29 for the air shears, £79 for the compressor, £15 for the drill mounted nibbler (never used), £30 for the cordless drill, £40 for the angle grinder..... The strange thing is that I could have achieved everything with just the sabre saw - inexplicable - just as well I had bought one.

OK, not the prettiest mudguards this side of Suez, but it's the first time I've ever made anything from steel. Must have saved myself a fortune by using the old oil drums..... NOT. At least I have a near-full complement of tools - just a few more to get. Bending the flanges in a common or garden vice wasn't so easy - need a mini rolling mill.

People are increasingly complaining that politicians are nasty, stupid people. Looking at some of the nasty, stupid comments on newspaper articles posted on Facebook, it seems to me that politicians are simply becoming more like the people they represent, rather than a political elite.

Nicola Sturgeon is calling for Alistair Carmichael to resign following the leaking of a fake pre-election memo suggesting she wanted Cameron to remain as PM, calling it a blatant dirty trick. Aren't all words uttered by politicians during an election blatant dirty tricks?

Talking of stupid people - I was reading this story on Facebook about a guy in Texas who was told to take a US flag down from his apartment by the apartment manager because it offended Muslims. Now the overwhelming number of responses were from Rednecks not reading the story and telling Muslims where to stick it. The thing is that no Muslim actually complained - it was a stupid Texan apartment manager who told the guy it would offend Muslims. The Texan is entirely to blame, yet the Facebook Redneck lynching mob are all blaming Muslims. Shades of Kristallnacht.

Eurovision tonight! An object lesson in how Europe is fatally divided, if you ask me. Won't be watching it - it has become a kitsch circus.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Chip off the Old Block

Bought a potato chipper off eBay last week. Flimsiest piece of crap ever - it accommodates only minute potatoes and the cutting blades are wafer thin. They crumpled on the 2nd potato. Asked for my money back.

I wanted a good, old fashioned, bomb-proof chipper like my mum used to have. Searched high and low on eBay, but to no avail. Finally twigged that I should perhaps include the word vintage, and hey presto!

Solid, wooden handles that roll and blades that are fit for purpose. Just look at the quality - it has lasted since the 60s, unlike modern garbage which lasts only 60 seconds. Made in England too, not China. An Earlswood - probably made from girders by shipwrights at Cammell Lairds or steel fabricators in the Black Country. Why can't we make stuff like this anymore?

Have you noticed you can no longer mark an eBay transaction as crap? They force you down the route of resolution, which simply takes so long that you get fed up and give up. I suppose it's because you're actually marking the seller, as opposed to the product.

Talking about a chip off the old block - I had a go at making some mudguards for the trailer last night out of the old oil drums. Used just about every new tool I've purchased over the last 6 months.

Not quite finished yet - need to fashion some flanges to pop rivet to the base to make it secure. Told Hay I could now make a BBQ from the other drum - but I'd need a welding kit for the legs....

Our neighbour, Veronica, regularly has coffee mornings or dinner parties, some of which are cancelled at the last minute (I have no idea why). The cancelled ones result in her having a glut of cake, biscuits and all manner of goodies from Marks and Spencer or Waitrose, which she invariably off-loads to me. We could practically live off Veronica's hand-outs.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Discriminatory Top Trumps in Yate

Apropos of yesterday's gay cake post - I wonder if we shouldn't have a hierarchy of anti-discrimination. A kind of anti-discrimination Top Trumps.

Some outline rules:
  1. Objective fact trumps philosophy - thus race, gender, sexuality trumps faith.
  2. ......
Hang on - we've run into the gay cake issue already....

However, as A Heron's View pointed out to me yesterday, the matter at hand was actually a mixture of contract law and anti-discriminatory legislation - a contract had been entered into by the bakery and money had been exchanged. That puts a slightly different light on the matter.

I'm all with my friend Steve (no, not in that sense) about the issue being trivialised by this court case over a bloody cake; it's liable to create a backlash. Save the court cases for more serious instances of discrimination.

Imagine a scenario where you're at a disco and it's request time. Gay person asks for a particular track and the DJ replies; "Nah mate - too gay." Discriminatory, or just good musical taste?

Did a search on "motorhome hire in Yate", meaning a motorhome hire business in Yate. Got something back that simply inserts the word Yate into a prepared script. Here's what it said:

About Yate:

Yate is one of the great places located in the county of Gloucestershire in England. Gloucestershire is definitely one of the most popular counties in England and Yate is ideal for motorhome breaks or holidays. And if you decide you want to hire a motorhome in Yate then you will have free reign to visit any location in Yate. Just another benefit of motorhome holidays!

Now if anyone knows Yate they will be rolling on the floor laughing at the thought of any holiday in Yate, never mind about a motorhome one - it's like having a holiday in St Helens. Total anathema.

Yate - ideal holiday destination.

Interestingly, do a Google search with the word Yate and on the images you first get several pages of superyachts - images not exactly synonymous with the town. Yate obviously means yacht in Spanish.

Getting rather fed up with seeing Twittersphere comments about the Tories scrapping human rights. Those commentating have latched on to a popular meme without doing any basic research into what the government actually plans. Comments from air thieves are based on a totally fallacious assumption and flights of paranoid fancy. I despair of the intelligence of the average Brit, I really do. They should try reading the proposals rather than latching on to scare stories. I guess that's the problem with society today - people read rumour and take it as gospel without further analysis or critical thinking. Because of political bias, the left-wing newspapers are guilty of perpetuating the memes.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Gay Cake Debacle

A bakery in Northern Ireland has been found guilty of discrimination by refusing to make a cake with a pro gay marriage slogan.

I do think things are getting out of hand with this anti-discrimination law.

What if you were a baker with a predominantly Catholic clientele who was asked to bake a cake celebrating the Battle of the Boyne. Could you argue that making such a cake could affect your business - possibly leading to your business going bust as a consequence?

What if you are a gay baker asked to make a cake with the slogan; "No to Gay Marriage"?

Of if you were say Jewish and asked to make a cake emblazoned with the Nazi flag? Wouldn't you be justified in refusing?

It's not as if the buyer didn't have the choice to go somewhere else. Makes you wonder if the bakery in question was specifically targeted just to make a point.

There's also the matter of the use of images of Bert and Ernie - copyright infringement?

What cake would you refuse to bake? A Creationist cake would feature high on the list for me.