Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Wednesday 31/12/08

Getting some interesting hits from the Salisbury area.

Another highly emotive and bollocky animal advert has appeared on our TV screens – a World Wildlife Fund advert for sponsoring a polar bear. The ad says that polar bears rely on polar ice and raise their offspring there and asks where they will go if the ice disappears. Well, for a start, polar bears adapted to a life on ice – much like Torville and Dean. Secondly, it’s not beyond the bounds of reason to assume they could adapt to life on land – there’s nothing stopping them, in fact they would have to as their food source will migrate there too. Secondly the ad states that donations will combat global warming; how exactly is sponsoring a polar bear going to combat something which is inexorable and definitely going to result in ice-free polar areas within a decade or two – no matter what we do? Are the polar bears going to demonstrate in Whitehall with placards? I’d want to know whether these sponsored polar bears will write to me, like the sponsored Dogs’ Trust dogs, and whether I can visit them.

Talking about adverts, there’s another which is for a Christmas savings club that goes by the name of Park. The only people I can see going for this scam are the terminally stupid. The advert says you can save with them for a debt-free Christmas 2009 and have the goods delivered before next Christmas. So if I’ve got this right, you make monthly payments in advance for something which won’t be delivered until 11 months from now – risking the company collapsing in the meantime (remember Farepak) and you ending up with nothing. The alternative is to go to any store you want, purchase the goods now on HP and receive them immediately. Given the options and the risks, I’d choose taking delivery now – or better still, simply keeping the dosh in the bank and gleaning the interest.

I have an admission to make – we installed the wood-burning stove a while ago. I didn’t want to write about it until we were certain it would do the job, which it is doing admirably. We have a large sufficiency of free firewood which has provided free heat throughout December to the extent that our normal winter Calor gas consumption of 2 x 47 kg bottles per month has reduced to our summer consumption rate of one bottle every 2 to 3 months. The only problem is that the device requires feeding with wood every 20 minutes or so and hence it’s not possible to stoke it up for the night and expect any residual heat by the morning – the combustion chamber is simply too small and there is insufficient control over the draw.

Ours is a 4.5kW version, being adequate for the entire 34 feet of the caravan, but having experienced acting like stokers on the Titanic, we should perhaps have gone for something like a Boxwood, which while of a higher wattage has a more controllable burn rate through the auspices of a flue damper. It won’t be long before we have to move to purchased logs, which will prove somewhat hard work, as we will have to split them into sufficiently small chunks to fit through the door.

Hay has found me guilty of falling asleep and allowing the damned thing to go out. She’s threatening to take my fire monitor’s badge from me.

Had some interesting reactions from people over the holidays while using the e-cigar in pubs and restaurants. One chap looked at me, noticed the e-cigar and accompanying plumes of ‘smoke’ and gave me a dirty look while sniffing the air. Now even Hay, a confirmed non-smoker, admits that the e-cigar doesn’t emit any kind of odour – even in the confines of the car. This guy was obviously reacting on the basis of pure prejudice, moral outrage, self-righteous indignation and deep disapproval.

In The Dog the other evening a chap did a perfect double-take. He then went through all the expected reactions within a coupe of seconds. The first was that of shock-horror, followed by, “Oh my God he’s smoking in a pub! What should I do? Shall I approach him? How come no-one else has approached him? Why are the bar staff ignoring him?” ending up with, “Oh silly me – it’s obviously not a real cigar.” I finally put him out of his misery and let him in on the secret.

People obviously don’t want to approach me for fear of looking ridiculous. You can see it on their faces.

We’ve been wakened at dawn for the last few days by the sound of Gollum scrabbling over the top of the caravan – for that’s just what it sounds like. Obviously it’s just birds.

Aviva – the new name for Norwich Union. What marketing whizz-kid in nappies dreamed up that one? What’s the point? Everyone knows what Norwich Union is and what it sells – it’s a solid brand that is in no need of a revamp. There are times I wonder what my marketing brethren are smoking – or rather how much they are being paid to come up with such crap. The advert uses Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper, Dame Edna and Bruce Willis – all of whom changed their names - to suggest that a change of name is ‘a chance to show the world who you want to be’. So Norwich Union wants to be known as a Viva – a crappy Vauxhall model from the ‘60s and ‘70s renowned for breaking down.

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