Saturday, 26 December 2009

A Christmas Story

A woman touches the hem of Jesus’ robes some two millennia ago and the story becomes part of the canon of Christianity as a story that demonstrates faith. A woman tries to touch the Pope in 2009 and is condemned as mentally unstable.

I’m not fan of religion at the best of times, but this story exemplifies the gross hypocrisy of organised religion. It’s no more than the exercise in mind-control over the terminally superstitious, and being pattern recognising animals, humans are condemned for eternity to see the hand of God in everything from a piece of toast to a cloud.

Feed a dog and it thinks you are a god; feed a cat and it thinks it is a god. Why can't we be more like cats?

See you in a week or so.

Friday, 25 December 2009


Here we are – Christmas Day once again. Merry Christmas everyone. May you smile frequently, laugh often and live life to the full in 2010.

The Caravans have a turkey that came with a little red push-pin gadget. When the turkey is cooked the red dot in the middle pops out. A neat idea that must be based on a simple thermocouple. Saves you having to keep opening the oven and stabbing the bird to see if the juices run clear.

Forgot to mention; at our work Christmas lunch we were using Chinese Christmas crackers. I was amused to discover than on the reverse of the paper joke slip were the safety instructions, which could obviously only be read after using them.

One of my sons’ Christmas presents hasn’t shown up, despite it having been ordered as long ago as the 21st November. It did have to come all the way from China though. It’s some kind of iPod thing.

Talking of computers, it would appear that Hwelett Packard computers are racist. Face recognition software in the on-board cameras do not recognise our non-reflective brethren. See the video below for the details.

We were watching The Chronicles of Narnia on TV yesterday afternoon. Hay happened to mention the Christian allegory of the story and that CS Lewis had discovered God at the time of writing it. I disagreed that he ever had an atheistic period, as once you have been touched by the power of the sheer rationality of atheism, there’s simply no going back. Hay agreed, commenting that most believers lose their religiosity through a feeling of abandonment when God has let them down during particularly tough times. From this position there is still a path back to belief when the omens improve and things get better. Those having chosen atheism from a rationalist and analytical intellectual perspective have no return path to superstition, as they never felt abandoned by God in the first place. For we atheists shit just happens and we don’t attribute bad (or good) fortune to the supernatural.

I must say that the film’s use of centaurs as cavalry is inspired, as they never fall off their horses, have two hands available for combat and have no horse’s head obstructing their lunges. Phoenixes are handy allies too, although as everyone knows they do not burst into flame spontaneously as portrayed in the film. The aerial support provided by the griffons was a good strategic move; however, charging into a level field of combat when you have the advantage of the high ground shows Peter’s lack of strategic appreciation.

Talking lions is just silly though. And as for replacing one monarchy for another, that’s not really a good idea – the creatures of Narnia should have replaced the White Witch with the Democratic Republic of Narnia. Bad democratic leaders can be gotten rid of at the next election, whereas it takes just one bad monarch and the whole thing turns to poo.

Skandar Keynes, who plays Edmund in the film adaptation, is rather well connected. On his father's side, he is the great-great-great grandson of Charles Darwin, through whom he is descended from Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk (uncle to both Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Catherine Howard) therefore making him distantly related to Queen Elizabeth I and King Edward I. Keynes is the great-great nephew of the economist John Maynard Keynes and the nephew of the historian and Cambridge professor Simon Keynes. He is related to the poet Ruth Padel and, through his ancestral connection to the Wedgwood family, to socialist politician Tony Benn. Through his great-grandmother, Hester Adrian, Baroness Adrian – the wife of Nobel Prize laureate Edgar Adrian, 1st Baron Adrian – he is also related to the Scottish philosopher David Hume.

While the Narnian universe is interesting, it is not as logically or internally consistent as Tolkien’s Middle Earth. I therefore put Tolkien streets (or multiverses) ahead of CS Lewis. Although a devout Catholic, Tolkien would have made a good atheist had he seen the light.

We’re off to Cornwall tomorrow and we don’t have internet access, so I’ll bid you all adieu for a week or so.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

The Eyes Have It

Something weird is happening to my eyesight – it actually seems to be improving with age. I’ve taken to wearing my new varifocals on the end of my nose for distance viewing as a result, as I can invariably see better without them. Must be a blood pressure thing.

Volvo is to be sold to the Chinese. I guess they’ll all start chucking out shed-loads of black fumes now, come with acres of shiny red plastic for seat material and smell vaguely of 5 spice or MSG. Must get one of those tiny red and gold lanterns to hang from my rear-view mirror.

Our 1,200 vehicle works car park (mainly for AirBus and not the dozen or so assorted scallywags that work at my office) has been closed for several days due to the fact that the build-up of ice on the steeply sloping entrance has rendered the approach a ski slope and you simply can’t get up it. I therefore parked my car in a nearby residential side road having only a slight slope. On approaching the car on Tuesday evening I noticed a thick layer of snow on the windscreen, which was strange as it hadn’t snowed all day. It transpired that a large section of the snow on the roof had slid glacier-like down from the roof and deposited itself on the windscreen during the day.

On the way home I had to brake at a set of traffic lights. Suddenly the remaining snow on the roof phaloomphed off the roof onto the windscreen, completely blocking my vision in the process. Had this occurred with a car in front of me I would definitely have had a disastrous collision of immense and dire proportions. Let this be a lesson to all that you should remove all snow from your car roof, as the migration of heat from the interior will loosen it, making it extremely unstable and a danger not only to you, but also to passing polar bears.

Why are we in England so spectacularly bad at coping with a few inches of snow? Because the cost of 100% preparedness is prohibitive, that’s why. We are affected maybe one winter in three, and then only for a couple of weeks - max. It’s a simple cost versus benefit calculation.

Seems there are benefits to being an old curmudgeon.

In August 2009, David Milliband (the current Foreign Secretary) was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Great Lives programme, choosing South African politician Joe Slovo. Milliband stated during the programme, in a response to a question about terrorism, that, "Yes there are circumstances in which it is justifiable and yes there are circumstances in which it is effective, but it is never effective on its own." These comments attracted considerable censure from senior political figures. I’ll tell you what though, he’s right about it being justifiable in certain circumstances. If not, then the French Resistance and all the other WWII resistance movements were wrong. I guess it’s right if you’re one of the resistance, but wrong if you’re not. A very subjective judgement.

I was listening on the radio to the mother of a soldier who had been killed in Iraq. She was complaining that Milliband had not apologised to her personally for the death of her son. Well, Milliband didn’t kill her son – some Iraqi did. Yes, Milliband may have sent him to Iraq, but her son signed up knowing the risks. In no way can Milliband be held responsible. She said that the war was not worth the death of her son, but then the Falklands war was equally futile and it could be argued that WWII and WWI were not really our affairs either. No war is really justified and is merely, as Clausewitz stated, the continuation of politics by other means. Some people are unfortunate enough to get caught up in the front line, but no-one is forcing them (currently). Mothers and fathers, however, understandably need someone to blame and rage against so as to make sense of the loss. The media knows this and cynically manipulates them.

A sad note on which to end on Christmas Eve.

A parting bit of wisdom: what other people think of you is none of your business.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Jordan's Tech Support For Legal Fruit & Veg

Overheard in the Caravan:

Chairman (speaking to Vodafone Support): “Every time I use my Nokia mobile as a modem from my PC and try to get on the Interweb, I get the message SUBSCRIBE TO PACKET DATA FIRST.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Reconfigure your settings to such and such.”

Chairman: “Are you sure? I suspect it’s a network setting, hence the SUBSCRIBE TO PACKET DATA FIRST message.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Yes, definitely.”


Chairman (speaking to Vodafone Support): “Every time I use my Nokia mobile as a modem from my PC and try to get on the Interweb, I get the message SUBSCRIBE TO PACKET DATA FIRST. The previous guy told me to change my settings and it hasn’t worked. I think it’s a network setting.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Reconfigure your settings to such and such.”

Chairman: “Are you sure? I’m certain it’s a network setting. The message is a bit of a give-away.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Yes, definitely.”

Later still….

Chairman (speaking to Vodafone Support): “Every time I use my Nokia mobile as a modem from my PC and try to get on the Interweb, I get the message SUBSCRIBE TO PACKET DATA FIRST. The previous two cretins in Vodafone’s employ who I spoke to told me to change my configuration settings and it hasn’t worked – not that I expected it to. They probably expect pay rises this year. I really, really think it’s a network setting.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Yes, it’s definitely a network setting. Just let me subscribe you to packet data. There - try again in 5 minutes.”

Chairman: “You seem to be the only bugger there who knows what he’s talking about.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Thank you.”

Chairman: “Is it too much to hope that this conversation is being recorded for training purposes?”

Every conceivable bugger I’ve every bought anything from on-line and every recruitment site that has my details is bombarding my mailbox with unwanted Christmas greetings. I wouldn’t mind if they were sincere, but my e-mail address is just one among hundreds of thousands and it pisses me off more than that Jordan (the model, not the country) phoning me every week and pestering me for a deep and meaningful relationship and asking me to come round for some bush tucker (at least that’s what I thought she said).

There’s a report in the Daily Mail (where else) that a judge has said wife-beaters should be publicly pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables. What a preposterous and ridiculous idea. You tell me exactly where, in these days of sell-by dates and public health concerns, one is meant to purchase rotten fruit and veg?

We cooked some spuds in the new wood burner last night – delicious. Will have to get a range for the house when it’s finished.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Manipulating Public Services

Hayley’s first winter inside the new house.

The days are lengthening at last!

Have you heard Parachute by Timothy B Schmit – ex member of Poco and The Eagles? Click on the link and play the track - pure Dad music with a fantastic air guitar solo. It’s so CSNY, but that’s not surprising as Graham Nash contributes heavily to the track.

Hay and I were talking about the Rage Against The Machine phenomenon. She’s of the opinion that it’s no more than a bunch of people sticking two fingers up at nothing in particular – which makes it very analogous to mindless graffiti, and not even Banksy graffiti. When all’s said and done the people who bought the X-Factor record bought it because they liked it; those who bought Rage Against The Machine did not necessarily like it one bit.

Who really cares of Simon Cowell dominates the charts at Christmas – he does so because people buy the records of the artists he manages. Simon Cowell is not to blame; people are just very easily manipulated. Manipulation has emerged triumphant on both sides of this little spat; no-one has won a victory that will change anything in a meaningful way. The only change will be that we’ll probably have the same bit of fun next year and it will become a quaint tradition. However, the people who organised this year’s mobfest will have to make the selection again year-after-year, or else there will be no direction on which track to focus the X-Factor counter culture and the effort will fizzle out like a scattergun. Anarchy needs leaders.

However, would we have had the Rolling Stones, Led Zep, Pink Floyd, the Police, CSNY, etc. if the music moguls had ruled the airwaves from ’64 to ’84, as they have done for the last 25 years. Perhaps it’s a warning shot across the bows of the moguls who seem fixated on eliminating edgy music.

The manipulation of perception is much underrated – who, 20 years ago, would have thought people would buy an fragrance called ‘Diesel’? I confidently predict that in within 20 years a large swathe of the population could be CONFIDENTLY wearing a fragrance called ‘Shit’.

Yesterday I was listening to the Chief Executive of Eurostar being interviewed several times over the day. For those from abroad, the Channel Tunnel Eurostar service was disrupted over the weekend due to bad weather and unforeseen problems with electronics malfunctioning in extreme conditions. Radio interviewers are increasingly becoming populist and very combative. It’s almost as if an apology is no longer acceptable and people who makes mistakes need to be publicly flogged in the town square or bunged into the Big Brother House for public humiliation. Failure to predict every conceivable scenario is no longer an option in public service. I’m not comfortable with this and it’s symptomatic of an intolerant society. It’s a replacement for gladiatorial contests, bear baiting, dog fighting and cock fighting.

Talking of which, the leaders of the major British political parties have agreed to a round of televised public debates in the lead up to the General Election. I vote for putting them in the Big Brother House, or Political X-Factor – which has already been mooted by Simon Cowell. The latter option is the only way in which you’d conceivably get me to watch anything with Simon Cowell's name attached to it.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Rage Against The Old Sodbury Hill

Woke to a 6 inch carpet of snow and the sound of lorries backing down the road as they discover they can’t get enough traction to climb the hill up to the A46. Until the snow clears, Old Sodbury will be filled with bewildered lorry drivers seeking shelter and sustenance. A veritable land of the living dead.

Someone local was letting off a barrage of fireworks last night. I guess it must be that quaint old English festival of Diwali. No doubt it will soon go the way of Maypoles and Morris Dancing.

There was an article in yesterday’s Sunday Times about alcohol now being cheaper than bottled water in many supermarkets. Self-appointed busybodies want the price of alcohol increased because of this. Rather than worrying about the low cost of alcohol, I’d be up in arms and protesting about the ridiculously high cost of simple water!

Fun run. How the devil did that name evolve? There’s nothing remotely funny or fun about torturing oneself running. Just look at the faces of the people doing these so-called fun runs.

I see Rage Against The Machine has made the Xmas No.1. This spontaneous public reaction against corporate greed and the monolithic pop culture is laudable, but it’s somewhat ironic to find Rage Against The Machine are signed to Epic Records, which is part of the monolithic Sony BMG, the same monolithic label as McElderry, the X-Factor winner. There’s simply no escaping the corporate grasp – even if you attempt to thwart its plans, you’re still swelling its coffers.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Warm As Toast

Hay and I fitted the new multi-fuel stove yesterday. Never been so warm! We had to leave the doors and windows open to clear the acrid fumes from the paint (the stove enamel has to cure on new stoves), and still the caravan was warm as toast. Banked it up at 11:30 pm and it was still belting out heat at 4 am. Despite it putting out twice the heat of the old pot-bellied job, we’re actually burning less wood as the burn is now controlled. Best buy ever for the caravan and highly recommended.

Friday, 18 December 2009

It's A Chill Wind.....

Couldn’t open my car door this morning. Blew into the lock to try and free it of ice and nearly ended up going to work on the bus with a Volvo stuck to my lips. Went back to the caravan, brought the dregs of my morning tea out and sloshed it over the lock, which freed it admirably.

The Chairman’s interminable round of Christmas parties, gallery openings, PR launches, film premieres and road range incidents start today; however, such is the lot of an international star like myself – jet-setting to Birkenhead, Dover, Salisbury and Hayle.

Got our works Christmas lunch at the Boar’s Head in Aust today– just under the start of the old Severn bridge on the M48 (the civilised side). Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? If the reviews are anything to go by then it should be a good venue. I don’t expect to return to the office till Monday – if then.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Hay and I were discussing Christmas songs last night. Here’s our top 10:

  1. Motorhead’s superb “Twinke Twinke Little Flame Thrower”,
  2. The Prodigy’s memorable “Light a Christmas Tube Train”,
  3. Led Zep’s immortal “Battle of Palestine”,
  4. Deep Purple’s poignant “Silent Black Night”,
  5. The Sex Pistos’ jokey “Chestnuts Roasting By The Open Pyre”,
  6. The Jackson 5’s ironic “White Christmas”,
  7. Toto’s vibrant “Hold The Pine”,
  8. The Pogues’ allegorical “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”,
  9. Leonard Cohen’s apposite “In The Bleak Midwinter”,
  10. Velvet Underground’s mystical “Good King Wenceslaus”.

If anyone gets the connection for No 10, then please respond. Perhaps I’m not the only one who thinks tangentially. Actually, if any fox you then get back to me. There is a logic to all of them.

A few posts ago I said that the best ever invention would be something that converted the thoughts of severely disabled people, such as those with locked-in-syndrome, into words, allowing them to communicate with the outside world. Seems scientists are nearly there.

British Airways cabin crew, the best paid in the UK airline business, are about to go on strike. BA stock has negative value and the company hasn’t paid a dividend in umpteen years. BA has been described as a pension deficit (£3.7bn) with an airline attached. BA posted a pre-tax loss of £401m last year and is on course to lose around £600m this year. Should BA go belly-up, as it undoubtedly will if this strike goes ahead, what becomes of the pensioners and the pension contributions of the staff who are about to walk out? Talk about turkeys voting for Christmas – this is simply suicide.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Merry Gingermas

My friend George from Down Under sent me this yesterday. It’s for all gingaphobes.

How’s this for a Christmas card?

My ‘brother-in-law’ Perry, for want of a better name (brother-in-law, not Perry), set up his camera on a tripod in the garden on a long exposure. Hay’s sister, Michelle, then took two lit sparklers and very quickly wrote Merry Christmas in the air. They then used the resultant image to make Christmas cards for all their family and friends. Neat idea, isn’t it? Apparently it took them several attempts to get it right. If you look closely at the right hand side of the image you can just make out a ghostly face above the final S of Christmas. ‘Shell called the picture ‘Playing With Fire’. That’s what you get when you cross an artist with a photographer.

We’ve ordered a larger wood burner so we don’t have to keep stoking up with wood every 30 minutes - it has a proper door instead of a 5 inch hole, meaning it will accept whole logs. It has the added advantage of being multi-fuel. Hopefully it will arrive today and we should have it installed by next week. It’s my Christmas present to us both. Well worth the £320.

The building progresses apace and we now have the scalpings filling the mud bath inside the house walls. Bricks have arrive for a 3 or 4 tier layer, following which we’ll call it a day until the weather warms up.

Feel like having a go at climate change sceptics? The Daily Express yesterday published a list of 100 reasons why climate change is a natural phenomenon. I wouldn’t mind, but most of the so-called ‘reasons’ have bugger all to do with the causes of climate change. Read this rebuttal in the New Scientist. It’s an excellent example of why you shouldn’t allow journalists – especially bad ones - to inform your choices.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

A Tuesday Mish-Mash Too

Remember Dr Stephen Venner, the Army bish who I reported on in yesterday’s post. Seems he’s had second thoughts and has apologised for his ill-advised pronouncement that the Taleban could be admired for their faith. He went on to say, "It was one small phrase in quite a long interview, and a phrase that simply said you cannot describe everybody under one heading as Taliban as being equally black, equally evil." Good God – that man has only just apologised for upsetting his entire flock while simultaneously vilifying every member of the black community by calling them evil! Are there no bounds to this man’s ability to shoot himself in the foot?

He added that soldiers had privately told him that they didn’t have enough equipment. Sadly, I don’t think there’s been an army in the history of armed conflict that’s been fully satisfied with the quality or amount of equipment they had available – it kind of goes hand-in-hand with budgeting for war on finite resources.

Someone has twatted that smug, slimy bastard Berlusconi, removed a couple of teeth from his botoxed face and rearranged the symmetry of his nose. Not before time too - give the perpetrator a medal! As for the brainless idiots who admire Berlusconi and voted for him…..

I’ve always thought the Italians strange coves. Remember Aldo Moro, the Italian ex PM who was kidnapped and then topped? He was killed by the Red Brigade, specifically by a chap called Mario Moretti, who for the crime of pumping 11 bullets into Moro’s chest received six life sentences. 15 years later he was released on parole and now works as an IT manager. For heaven’s sake – we hang, draw and quarter someone for littering the pavement or having the temerity to throw an egg at a politician. The Italians free their butchers and allow them to play with computers.

I have to say that there’s some speculation that Moretti was actually a government agent who had infiltrated the Red Brigade and had no choice in his action. The fact he was out within 15 years would seem to support the hypothesis.

Talking of mindless attacks, a 16 year-old kid has been convicted of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm after pouring a bottle of bleach over a woman in a restaurant. By all accounts she was having a meal with her kids and husband at the time. What I can’t understand is why her husband isn’t up for manslaughter of the 16 year-old.

A Tesco store has withdrawn a Christmas card that makes fun of ginger haired people following a complaint from a woman who has three ginger nuts as kids. The complainant said that the store would have been closed down had they sold cards that make fun of fat people. I don’t think so – she’s obviously not scanned the average birthday card collection in card shops. I’d be more worried about the kids having a totally humourless mother.

A friend told me of an innovative way of reducing your carbon footprint over Christmas. Send one Christmas card to the first person on your Christmas card list along with the list itself. The appended list should contain instructions to tick off their name and forward it to the next person on the list.

It struck me last night that my mother, who has dementia, is 87. If I take after her then I’m destined to live a long life, but not know it.

Got to start thinking about my Christmas Special post. It’ll be exactly the same as my normal posts, but closer to Christmas.

Monday, 14 December 2009

A Monday Mish-Mash

I’ve heard it all now as far as dredging the bottom of the televisual entertainment barrel is concerned. On Saturday evening we were (unsuccessfully) scanning the TV listings looking for something remotely interesting or intelligent to watch and spotted a programme called Young Mechanic Of The Year. Riveting stuff, I’ll wager. I can imagine the voice-over now – “And for our first nomination we have Dave Scoggins and his immortal Nissan Micra head gasket replacement from July 2009.”

The relentless proliferation of TV channels has presented us with our worst nightmare; wall-to-wall game shows, banal reality ‘documentaries’ covering the most inane rubbish imaginable and award shows celebrating terminal mediocrity in all its forms.

TV advertising revenue is a finite sum and the more channels it has to be spread over results in less revenue per channel. We’re now getting to the stage where the adverts are more interesting (and costly to produce) than the programmes they’re meant to finance. While an award for a good mechanic might be a laudable initiative, it has the entertainment value of a turd - even for the vast majority of motor mechanics. Next we’ll have Young Office Junior or Young Cloakroom Attendant Of The Year.

I confidently predict the emergence of the Award Show Awards within the next 12 months. It’s a sad indictment on society when the elimination of some total nonentity or C list celebrity from a game show becomes front page news on the BBC.

I’ve conceived of a new idea in domestic appliances that I want to take to James Dyson for development into a prototype – or even a number of prototypes. Ever noticed that no matter how clean your floor is, whenever you drop an item of food onto it the food will always have some detritus sticking to it? It could be fluff, grit or anything, but you’ll always have something adhering to it. Well, if you were to take a few thick banana slices, thread them onto a wire spindle and attach a long handle, you’d end up with the Banana Hoover that would collect every single piece of dirt from your carpets. You could extend the range of appliances with the Pork Chop Duster and the Buttered Toast Surface Cleaner. The added benefit is that the devices are bio-degradable.

The media is full of stories about the country being in deep financial poo and it’s going to cost every tax payer several thousand pounds. However, the debt has been caused by us lending banks squillions of pounds – money which isn’t actually real, but virtual money based on guarantees. Now if one lends people or companies money the quid pro quo is interest payments, which they are apparently now all paying off. This logically dictates that we’re making a profit on the transaction, as banks are now so bloody profitable as to be paying their people gigantic bonuses. So can someone tell me that the problem actually is? Seems to me that Gordon Brown has done a good deal. What am I missing? If there is a problem it can only be one of a temporary nature with liquidity.

The Archbishop of Cadbury has said that the government treats religious faith as an "eccentricity" practiced by "oddities". I’d say not just the government. In the UK religion is fast becoming one of those eccentric things practised only by the very poor or the aristocracy (or aspirant aristocracy), like hunting foxes on horseback, joining the yacht club on the basis of owning a skiff, building castles, sporting monocles and wearing cravats or lurid coloured corduroy trousers in bright green or salmon pink – and even then only by the RC moronity, sorry, minority.

While on the subject of religion, Stephen Venner, the new Archbishop of the Armed Forces has said the Taliban can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith. That’s like saying children should be admired for their faith in Father Christmas. Idiotic nonsense; blind faith is nothing to be admired, except perhaps the band comprising Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech.

Why are the police are always in flak-jackets? Doesn’t exactly endear them to the public when they come round to investigate the odd missing moggy, does it?

Here’s the Chairman’s tip for a flat stomach; lie on your back. Here’s Hay’s tip should you have a vegetarian to feed over Christmas; tell these sad people to pull themselves together and piss off home – after all it’s Christmas. Hay reckons she’s never met a vegetarian who doesn’t have deep, unresolved issues. If I’ve offended anyone, then tough.

Friday, 11 December 2009

That's Cooked Your Goose

Discovered this week that turkey for Christmas only came to be traditional during the ‘60s with a massive advertising campaign by American exporters and Mr ‘Booful’ Bernard Matthews. Prior to the 60s goose was the traditional fare. When you think about it, there’s not a single reference to a Christmas turkey in Dickens. It’s a bit like the red Santa, for which can again thank the Americans, as he was an invention of Coca Cola.

The problem with a goose is that it feeds fewer people and the breast is fairly slender. I had goose only once in my life, and delicious it was too (my grammar is starting to sounding like that of Yoda, it is).

Talking of cooking; saw an item on the news last night about a 40 odd stone guy who died of a heart attack. With his coffin he was over 50 stone, which was way in excess of the weight the crematorium could handle. Even the coffin was 40 inches too wide for the furdace doors. The family are apparently traumatised at finding out that the cremation couldn’t go ahead. You’d think someone in the family would have twigged. I can imagine the conversation with the family. “I’m sorry, but we’ve had to move the cremation to the local blast furnace – unless of course you’re willing to hold the cremation in two sessions.”

Apparently the cremation finally went ahead after the crem brought in some additional equipment. Just hope it wasn’t a chainsaw.

The family of this chap want crematoria to start catering for ‘larger people’. Can’t see them rebuilding for the sake of the couple of dozen humungous people they get through their books (or fires) every century or so. I certainly would not wish to pay several thousand more for a cremation because the crematorium had to finance cavernous furnaces.

Had to laugh last night when an advert came on for the Iceland frozen food shops. She commented that it is perceived as the chav M&S.

Badger’s End is starting to look more like the beginnings of a house. This was what the new skating rink looked like last week:

And this is what it looked like yesterday afternoon:

Thursday, 10 December 2009

It's The News Headlines - Kind Of

I’ve thought of a new game. Interpreting the BBC website news headlines.

Saw a headline yesterday that had me worried - Children's boss axed after death. I thought chopping someone up after they are dead a tad barbaric and a definite backward move in execution techniques. As it transpires, the headline was a bit mangled and the story had nothing to do with hanging, drawing and quartering.

Here’s another - Priory ruins get lottery makeover. Apparently it’s nothing to do with high-profile celebs in rehab at the Priory Clinic getting botox; nor is Troops march through city centre anything to do with the BNP “Gettin' Jiggy wit’ It” down in Bradford and sending in the black-shirts.

Mother murdered over family home has nothing to do with an air-rage incident on an EasyJet flight over Luton and Pregnancy parking bays discussed does not involve a plan by an NHS hospital to deliver babies in the car park.

Scots curlers slip to Norway loss is not a story about an international hairdressing competition and S Korea to build homes in Ghana has nothing to do with plans for the world’s longest commute to work.

India to 'fence' naval harbours is not a story about India planning to sell stolen harbours and New drug threat to Asian vultures has nothing whatsoever to do with Asian bankers finding new recreational drugs.

Nine children's services 'poor' – what? Only nine children are providing services? Get the buggers up the chimneys! School cash worth two GCSEs – so you can now bribe your school to award GCSEs in return for a bung?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Bin Laden - What a Tiger

Heard a strange story on the news yesterday. The item was about tackling Islamic fundamentalism in Britain and possible terrorism arising from it. A reporter was saying that Muslims feel isolated due to all the attention being on them and not right-wing terrorism. If Islamic fundamentalism isn’t right-wing, then what the hell is? You can’t get more right-wing than the concept of a world Islamic state where no-one has any freedom of conscience.

Why does no Grand Mufti or Grand Poobah pronounce a fatwa of death on all al Qaeda members? They seem to have no compunction about killing innocent fellow Muslims, which I thought was anathema within Islam. Suicide too is forbidden in Islam. Poor old Salman Rushdie only wrote a bloody book and hey, every Grand Heirophant was busy fatwaing him and calling for his death!

A top US general is saying al Qaeda will never be defeated until Bin Laden is killed or captured. I wonder what will happen if Bin Laden is ever captured as he couldn’t possibly be kept alive in any jail as he’s simply too dangerous to be allowed to live.

Talking of Islam, I commend to you this article from The Sunday Times by Rod Liddle. Liddle is funny, as well as observant and incisive – a more cerebral version of Jeremy Clarkson. His humour is my kind of humour.

Given the number of women coming out of the woodwork that Tiger Woods must be an absolute stud. Told Hay she should get in on the act and post a claim. Might be a few bob in it from The Watchtower. Might even stake a claim myself.

That blasted Dettol advert is getting on my tits again. “Dettol kills 99% of all household germs,” says the advert, with a shot of some flu infested kid leaving flu viruses on the banister for his young sister to collect. Wipe the banister in Dettol and within 24 hours you have a colony of Dettol-resistant superbugs taking over your property. The best cure for flu is to get it – unless of course it’s a Dettol-resistant killer variety.

I’ve had the Donate button on my blog for a couple of months now, but no bugger has seen fit to give me even 50p. you’d think that all the joy I bring to my readers that at least one person would give me an advance on a book. Tightwads! Just in case you don’t know where it is, look down the right-hand side and scroll down till you see it (he says in hope).

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Dictators & Marriage

It’s ironic how the Iranian revolution of 1979 was initiated by students in an attempt to get rid of the Shah, who was a virtual dictator. All they succeeded in doing was replacing one dictatorial regime with another possibly even more repressive one - and history seems to be determined to try and repeat itself.

Talking of dictators, in a pre-election battle Harriet Harman is accusing David Cameron of planning to reward philanderers on their second or third marriages with tax breaks for married couples, while stigmatising former wives left to bring up the children. Why is it automatically assumed that when a couple divorce it’s the man who is the philanderer?

Harriet Harman happens to be the Minister for Women. Do we have a Minister for Men?

I have problems with tax breaks for married couples anyway – surely it’s discriminatory? I also have problems withy people who try to persuade couples to marry on the basis that it makes couples happier and more likely to stay together. Couples marry precisely because they are happy to start with; marriage itself does not confer happiness in some mysterious way. It’s a prime example if reverse logic being applied by the stupid. It’s like saying that if no-one married then the divorce statistics would improve, or if we had no customers then our customer complaints would drop.

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Wheel

Something for my male readers.

It’s a sobering thought when you consider that whereas anatomically modern man and woman have been around for 150,000 years, 143,000 of those were spent without the benefit of the wheel.

For no particular reason, I was thinking about wheels over the weekend. Consider how the weight of a car is transmitted to the ground from the axle by a wheel. Sense dictates that the weight is supported by the strength of the metal in the wheel between the axle and the ground- i.e. the forces act downward in a direct line (allowing for the fact that a tyre is hollow), and is a result of the metal being in compression.

However, now consider the wire wheel. There’s no way that a few spokes of thin metal can support such weight, especially as metal under compression is quite unstable and can bend easily. What’s happening in a wire wheel is that the axle is actually hanging on the spokes at the top of the wheel – those spokes being under tension - with the force then being transmitted around the wheel’s rim to the ground. It seems counter-intuitive at first, but makes sense the more you think about it.

Taking this concept to its limit, there’s no reason why you can’t have a wheel with spokes made from chain-link – providing it’s not going to move from rest, as chain-link is not the best thing at translating rotary motion to forward motion. There again, neither are thin spokes, which is why they are set at an angle.

This had never struck me before I thought more deeply about how a wheel actually works.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Ho, Bloody Ho!

Here’s a time-saving tip that I’ve introduced at work. Rather than buying every bugger at work a Christmas card, put out an announcement that everyone should chuck £5 (or whatever in your local denomination) into a kitty and give it to the charity of your choice. Everyone will be delighted they don’t have to sit there for hours writing several dozen Christmas cards to people they don’t necessarily like and which will simply litter the office. We’ve raised £80 this way, which is a damned sight more than the charities would get from the sale of 240 charity Christmas cards once their costs had been taken into account.

Damned sight – interesting expression. Comes from the archaic expression ‘damn your eyes’. Once your eyes are damned you have damned sight.

A fake Christmas tree in Poole, Dorset, has been vandalised. Now the fake eyesore was installed by the local council under health and safety grounds; however, before we start banging on about the clipboard army of H&S advisors who ruin everything from bonfire parties to school trips, consider that the old traditional tree had a very real, although small, risk of toppling over and injuring someone. Given the litigious nature of people these days, it would be entirely likely that if it fell on some random arsehole layabout who permanently exists on social security, and he or she would probably sue the council for millions, despite suffering no more than a light dusting of pine needles and a bruised ego. I’d rather have a fake Christmas tree than line the ermine-trimmed pockets of the no-win-no-fee brigade and someone who is not prepared to accept a Christmas tree on the head and a broken neck in the spirit of the season.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright

The tabloids are filled with lurid allegations about Tiger Woods’ personal life from some self-seeking, renta-gob tart. Why oh why do tabloids revel in destroying people’s lives just to make a bit of dosh and put cash into the hands of repulsive kiss and tell gob-shites? You could say that if the allegations are true then Tiger is the architect of his own downfall, but assistance from the gutter-press is merely the worst example of schadenfreude. It’s not as if he courts exposure, unlike some of those hideous celebs who have no talent whatsoever and thrive on nothing more tangible than notoriety. The media and the public don’t own Tiger Woods. There, but for the grace of God, go many.

I was watching something on TV last night about UK bank charges, which has caused a bit pof a furore here following the bail-out of the banks earlier in the year. Interviewees were moaning about the fact that they have to pay increased fees when they go overdrawn. The solution is simply – DON’T BLOODY WELL GO OVERDRAWN. I can do it, so why do others find it so damned difficult? It’s not as if these people who are moaning look as if they’re on the bread-line.

Talking of bailed-out banks - the directors of Royal Bank of Scotland are threatening to resign if the government stops them paying bonuses of £1.5bn to staff in its investment arm. If I were the government I’d most certainly call their collective bluff. Making money in the City is not exactly something that takes great intelligence or skill – it involved nothing more complex than having the balls to gamble at incredible odds with other people’s money in the hope of getting a fabulous short-term reward, i.e. what got us into this global pickle in the first place. I could do that with no bonus. One sure-fire way of combating CO2 emissions is to curb all the hot air and righteous indignation emanating from bank board rooms.

Ever seen the Carol Vorderman porn video?

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

'Tis The Season

I learned yesterday that the town a couple of miles down the road, Yate, had its Christmas lights turned on by Peter Andre. That just about sums up Yate.

Portishead chose Nigel Parker, a local Homebase shop assistant who is apparently one of the nicest men on the planet and renowned for his customer service skills and general cheeriness. An excellent choice!

I’m waiting for Old Sodbury to choose this old sod to switch on their single Christmas candle. My offer to play the part of Baby Jesus in the school nativity was turned down for some inexplicable reason. Probably ageism.

We’re having an extended family Christmas dinner up the road at The Dog on the evening of the 23rd, which is a bit of a pisser for the poor bastard who gets to receive my blood donation that I’m due to give on Christmas Eve. Just hope it’s some old wino.

We’ve booked a barn in the back end of beyond in Cornwall for the New Year week. It will probably be pissing down with rain and a howling gale will be blowing. Deep joy! At least I’ll have one of my young sons with me and the rest of Hay’s family. Last year we had a house in St Ives for the Christmas week and it was idyllic. This place is on a country road, meaning you can’t even go for a walk without risking being mown down by traffic.

To finish, here’s a topical cooking tip from The Chairman. For a really succulent and moist turkey this Christmas (unless you’re from out American colonies, in which case you’ll have had more than enough turkey already) give it a good colonic irrigation before cooking. Bon appétit.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A Cold Snap

Global warming has frozen the cross-shaped lake that has formed over the foundations for our new house. The shower cut-out this morning as I was in mid soap due to the water pipe supplying the caravan having frozen overnight.

Colin and Barry are hoping to start the blockwork for the base next week, but they'll need a submersible pump to drain the lake first.

Monday, 30 November 2009

The Mechanics of Star Wars

Overheard in the car:

Chairman: “Do you actually understand how an engine works, or are you too girly?”

Hay: “Of course I do. The engine thingy has cylinders in which the pistons are pushed down by fluffy kittens and bounce off pink cushions under the power of Chanel No 5 fumes that are set alight by a diamond encrusted Dunhill lighter. You plonker - my father was a truck driver and I helped him maintain it at weekends.”

Overheard while watching Star Wars Episode V:

Chairman: “He was type-cast after making this film and never really played other notable roles.”

Hay: “What? Mark Hamill made quite a few films.”

Chairman: “No – not Mark Hamill, Yoda.”

Friday, 27 November 2009

Oh..... I Forget

Why do radio football commentators have to shout?

Got a new laptop at work yesterday. Getting to grips with the new keyboard. Bloody thing lights up like a Christmas tree. Got cyan, neon red and electric blue LED lights for everything. Hideous and most confusing!

Yesterday it was some quaint colonial holiday called Thanksgiving in the USA, which I found out to my annoyance while trying to get a subcontractor in Florida to do some urgent work on a megayacht in Ft Lauderdale. Bloody futile! Strangely enough there was a holiday of the same name in October in Canada. Did the Pilgrim Fathers actually get to Canada first? It seems strange to have what is in effect a harvest festival in November. Must be climate change.

Yesterday I collected a prescription from the chemist. On the way back to the car I unwrapped it and threw the rubbish in a litter bin I was passing. On reaching the car I suddenly realised I didn’t have the medication in my hand. I carefully retraced the 25 yards back to the litter bin, but nothing. I finally reached the conclusion that I’d absentmindedly thrown the meds away with the carton and paper bag. Unfortunately the bin was one of those with a cover that you can’t remove and so I had to stretch my arm to its limit while rummaging around the bottom. Several people passed me by during the 3 minutes or so it took me to empty the bin contents onto the street and recover the meds. They looked at me as if I were a dosser. Most embarrassing – not only for rummaging through a bin in the middle of a street, but having been so engrossed in my own thoughts as to not realise I’d thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Hay is considering having me sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

I was trying to find the Alzheimer’s Channel on TV last night but couldn’t remember where it was.

Talking of disabilities, in my opinion the best possible invention would be a device that taps directly into the thoughts of disabled people who have difficulty communicating and allowing them to communicate normally, thus stopping people from looking at them as if they were idiots or mentally retarded. It must be intensely frustrating for them.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Have You Got A Dave?

Hay’s sister has a theory that everyone has a Dave in their mobile phone address book, but they can’t for the life of them remember which Dave it is as there’s no surname. I certainly have one. Do you have an unknown Dave, or someone else, in your mobile’s address book?

We’re having a spate of insurance TV adverts here in the UK trying to persuade older people to put some money into an account that will pay for their funeral expenses. To be honest, once I’ve gone I couldn’t give a damn about my funeral expenses. For all I care they can put me in the council dustcart and take me to a landfill site. However, as I’ve wiped their arses more times than I care to remember and given them the benefit of my wisdom for many more, it’ll be a sad day when my kids can't be bothered to club together to give me a burning Viking long ship funeral off the Severn Estuary.

Another development I’m not that comfortable with is no-win-no-fee adverts for injury liars – sorry, lawyers. It’s turning people into litigious, money-grabbing bastards. There’s an all-pervading nastiness that’s creeping into our society which maintains that nothing is your own fault and someone else must be to blame. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

On the money-grabbing issue, it won’t be long before we in the UK have to vote for a new government. It’s a fact of life that the major parties will bribe us with our own money to vote for them; however, a large proportion of voters are too stupid to realise that the benefits we are offered are pulled from our own pockets in the form of tax.

There was an item on the BBC news last night about the forthcoming world land speed record attempt by Bloodhound SSC and what a challenge it will be. I don’t wish to pour cold water over the attempt, but I fail to see the challenge in strapping a set of wheels to what is in effect a missile capable of much higher speeds than the land speed record. Making an engine that’s capable of powering a car to over 1,000 MPH without rattling itself to pieces in the process is certainly a challenge of phenomenal proportions, but attaching yourself to a jet is not.

It was also mentioned on the news that YouTube will be headlining the Glastonbury Festival. How low can contemporary music get when a popular multi-media video-sharing website becomes a headline act at one of the best known music festivals on the planet.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Gifts of Gold

I see that Rowan Atkinson, the Archbishop of Cadbury, met with Pope Ratzo recently to discuss carving up the world into spheres of influence and the trade in souls. I think the whole spectacle was summed up by His Eminence’s gift to our Rowan of a gold cross. I am reminded of the parable of the camel of easy virtue passing a needle for a Samaritan pauper prospering in the vineyard of the prodigal son who was stoning an adulteress. I wonder how many poor people in the slums of Rio that cross would have fed.

You know it’s always struck me as somewhat incongruous that Ray Mears, the world renowned survivalist (well, at least in the UK), is a bit of a chunky chap. Perhaps he’s simply a very good survivalist and can find a surfeit of food.

Friday, 20 November 2009

What Does It Mean To Be European?

As I write we’re about to get a European President (I’m off up north to Slackistan at sparrow’s fart, so this is a time-release post). This caused me to contemplate on what gives us a European identity.

  • We have a work ethic – and yet some nations don’t.
  • Some are deeply religious – a growing number are atheist.
  • Some have stable democracies – others change their governments more often than their underwear.
  • A few have similar sounding languages – and yet many others don’t.
  • Some drink lots of wine – and many drink lots of beer.

I can’t really think of anything that binds us together, resulting in the inescapable conclusion that it’s a social construct based on nothing more concrete than geography. Not really a sound basis for a union, if you ask me.

One thing we do all seem to like – with the notable exception of the Swiss – is to beat seven shades of shite out of each other every 60 years or so.

What do you think binds us together as Europeans?

Happy birthday to my big brother - 64 today and he retired 2 days ago.

Children in Need - Dizzee Rascal & Shirley Bassey - doesn't quite work. In fact doesn't work at all. Actually - hideous!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Drink More and Glow Longer

I was watching the BBC news yesterday morning while in my hotel room waiting for breakfast. The subject under scrutiny was a political issue – can’t remember exactly what – and the BBC was broadcasting from outside the Houses of Parliament at 6:30 am! Why on earth would they need to go to the expense of using an outside broadcast team at 6:30 in the morning when there’s not a soul around to interview? No wonder the BBC is under fire for wasting public money.

A study in Spain has shown that drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by a third, but not in women. So if you go out on the lash with your mem-sahib you should encourage her to remain abstinent for the sake of her health. Her health is obviously of prime importance to you; it's only coincidental that this will allow her to drive you home.

We bought some of those low energy light bulbs at the weekend and I have to say I’m impressed with how the technology has progressed since I last had a look at them. They still take a few minutes to reach full luminosity, but they do have the same warm glow of an incandescent bulb. An 11 watt low energy bulb provides the same luminosity as a 60 watt incandescent – in fact I’d say it provided slightly more. We’re going to do a complete swap-out.

I think I’ll spend today practicing being dead. I want to ensure that when I do die I do so with dignity and élan, which of course takes practice.

Is a village police station a one-cop-shop?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Tuned into an interesting conversation on Radio 4 on the way home last night. It was about the elimination of non-indigenous species or sub-species from habitats – such as mink, grey squirrels and Indian ring-necked parakeets from the UK, rabbits from Australia, etc. The argument is based on the fact that introduced species, or sub-species, push native species out and have unforeseen and disastrous consequences on the habitat.

I think most of us would unthinkingly agree that it’s a good thing to protect native species. However, ask yourself why we balk when we come across those who want to apply this perfectly sane logic to humans. To all intents and purposes invasive species eradication is the same agenda as that espoused by the BNP, with those supporting species elimination being ‘specist’. Makes you think, don’t it?

Noticed a mistake on Friday’s post about people’s irrational fear of Friday the 13th. I actually said Friday the 15th. I’m not superstitious in the least and I think you’ll find that most of us Aries people are of a similar vein – fingers crossed and touch wood.

Had a sales call from one of those Land Bank Registry (or some such name) scam artists yesterday – the ones who want to sell you prime plots of green-belt land with planning permission, which turns out to have no such thing (the clue being in the term green-belt). Hideous cockney chaps with an attitude who won’t take no for an answer, insist on calling you by your first name and asking if you still live at the address you lived at 3 house moves ago. No matter how rude I am to them they refuse to take me off their database.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Customer Service

Hay made me shave off my Battle Fuzz again over the weekend – the bits of beard on my cheekbones that I tend to grow longer when I’m getting into a somewhat combative mood.

Is it me, or do all people detest these automated customer service lines where you’re led several times through the entire numeric sequence from 1-10 before you actually get to speak to a human being?

I was trying to activate a pay-as-you-go Vodafone SIM over the weekend and had reached the point of acute frustration at not being able to find the bit on their website that facilitates it on-line. Even Hay couldn’t find it. I finally gave up in disgust and phoned them.

I no longer follow the instruction sequence for these phone lines and press the first number that’s spoken, trusting that it will get me a human much faster – as it did. OK, it was the wrong human, but the wrong human at least puts you straight through to the correct one without all the kerfuffle.

I seem to be losing interest in Blogging of late. Perhaps I need a rest.

Friday, 13 November 2009

A Mixed Bag

Friday the 15th – a great day for those with paraskevidekatriaphobia. It’s interesting to note that there’s no record of paraskevidekatriaphobia before the 19th century.

It would appear that the Cornwall council are to put the Cornish language on road signs in Cornwall. An excellent use of public money to pander to the 300 or so speakers of Cornish in the population of 500,000 – that’s 0.06%. The Council reckons it will cost nothing, as the sign makers will not charge extra. What about the cost of all the accidents that happen as people slow down at road signs to try to find the English among the Cornish? We probably have a higher percentage of Urdu speakers in England than there are Cornish speakers in Cornwall, so let’s all persuade the government to mandate Urdu on all English road signs.

I hear that Italian churches are starting to install holy water dispensers due to people’s fear of contracting swine flu from traditional fonts. I’d have thought that the Catholics believed in the miraculous properties of holy water and that it was a natural antiseptic capable of curing everything from warts to the clap.

While on the subject of matters superstitious, the Greek Orthodox church is coming out in support of the Catholics in their battle with the Italian government’s decision to ban superstitious symbols in state schools. One cleric, Bishop Nicholas from central Greece, lamented that: “At this rate youngsters will not have any worthy symbols at all to inspire and protect them. Football and pop idols are very poor substitutes,” he said. Football at least provides exercise which wards off obesity; God alone knows what protection a marketing logo can provide. I’d hazard a guess that it would be no more efficacious than the Conservative Party logo.

Here in the UK the government is to insist that from 2015 all nurses have a degree. While I can see some benefits, I can’t help but feel that this desire for every Tom Dick or Harriet to have a degree is closing off many avenues of employment to the non-academic and restricting job mobility. This headlong dash for academic qualifications in occupations that used to be based primarily on work experience is making us all specialise at an early age and ensuring we are qualified only for that one job from then on, putting massive power in the hands of the employers – which in this case is the government.

Heard some crass misinformation coming from the British Wind Energy Association on Farming Today this morning. A scientist was interviewed who stated that wind turbines on average were 30% efficient – the calculation being easy to perform by simply inspecting the records of Ofgem for the electricity being produced from all British wind farms and the maximum possible annual output and dividing the former by the latter. A chap from the British Wind Energy Association then came on to state that this was nonsense, as wind turbines generate electricity 85% of the time. Generating electricity 85% of the time does not mean they are 85% efficient when you consider that for the vast majority of that 85% they are turning very slowly and producing hardly anything. I’ll stick with science rather than spin - if you'll forgive the pun.

Thursday, 12 November 2009


New research suggests that people who are ageist are generally those who are irrationally preoccupied with the fear of contracting a disease and it probably has an evolutionary cause. The suggestion that there is an evolutionary root to the prejudice is not an excuse to condone it however, or that the evolutionary pressure is still extant. I prefer to think these people are congenitally stupid.

Hay reckons that in my case the fear of catching something from my laundry is not irrational.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Strike the Tubular Bells With a Felt-Tipped Pen - But Don't Eat It

The forces of angry self-righteousness are at work in my company following the announcement of the zero annual pay rise. Some are talking of union action; I will not be joining them. If prices are coming down due to he economic crisis then everyone is better off anyway. Interest rates are lower that they’ve ever been and the bargains available in shops are legion – what’s their problem?

I should have reported on this yesterday, but I felt it was a storm in a teacup. For some inexplicable reason the British PM, Darth Brown, is being castigated by all and sundry for writing with a felt-tipped pen. That arbiter of taste and decency, The Sun newspaper is leading the charge. I’d be surprised if most Sun readers could write their own names, let alone harness the artistic and calligraphic resources afforded by a felt-tipped pen. I sometimes wonder why The Sun bothers with a crossword puzzle – it must the most under-utilised few square inches of paper in the known universe. The average human uses 15,000 different words in his or her daily vocabulary; I doubt that the average Sun reader uses more than 200, and 50 of those will be ‘tits’.

I must admit though that from the picture of his letter in the news that Brown does seem to have the limited handwriting skills of a doctor or someone with Tourette’s, but he does try. The man is half blind and only uses a felt-tipped pen because he can see what he’s writing. I wonder if the dark forces of Parker, Waterman or Sheaffer put The Sun up to this smear campaign against his writing skills.

In a surprise move, initiated by stupid American parents who allow their kids to stick their fingers into the hinges of Maclaren folding prams when they are being folded or unfolded, all motor manufacturers are to recall all cars sold in North America to have the doors welded up in case their kids accidentally trap their hands in car doors when slammed shut. Motor cycle manufacturers are also going to get in on the act by issuing notices with their North American products saying ‘Do Not Eat’.

The winners of the Euromillions lottery were announced yesterday. Hay and I were talking about what we’d do with £43m if we won that amount. Hay said she’d do some serious bio-chemical research while I said I’d go to all the exotic places I’ve never been – Machu Picchu, Blackburn, Leeds, Barrow in Furness, Hull and Scunthorpe. I might even go so far as to splurge out on a cruise to the isle of Man.

Here’s something I put on my Xmas Amazon wish list last night. Brings back so many good memories.

Tubular Bells, anchovies and gorgonzola – heaven!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Nuclear Pay Rises

Well I’ve had my letter telling me that there’s no pay rise this year. Strike? You must be joking! If I’m upset by it I’ll simply look elsewhere for a better job paying more. Striking certainly isn’t going to produce a result and will be counter-productive. I’m bloody lucky to have a job! If I were unlucky enough to be stuck in a job where I didn’t have the skills to move elsewhere, then there would be only one person to blame.

I’m glad to hear that the UK government has decided to go nuclear. That means less reliance on oil and therefore less need to interfere in the internal politics of the Middle East in order to safeguard oil supplies, with a concomitant reduction in Islamic militants wanting to take a pop at us. The sooner we’re self-sufficient in power generation, the better.

Still no adverse reaction to my H1N1 swine flu jab – I’m still alive. Hay disputes that, but she’s biased.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Curried Wildlife

Hay was wondering whether ‘ladies things’ manufacturer Tena had a product for men specifically to cater for those occasions when they laugh too much following a particularly virulent curry the night before. She thought it might be a solution to my laundry problem. As it happens there is, but it faces the wrong way round as it's made for another related problem.

I’ve noticed that the 40 odd tonnes of house footings spoil sitting in the field has caused an explosion in the bird population around here. We have hundreds of the buggers flitting down to it from the bushes surrounding the field to snaffle insects. Seems we've inadvertently created a wildlife haven.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Mobile Charity Chic

Yay! Managed to unlock by mobile phones yesterday. Many people are under the impression that unlocking mobiles from their service provider is illegal. It ain’t. In the case of Vodafone it’s free and you don’t need to be any distance at all into your contract.

Overheard in the caravan:

Chairman: “Have you noticed how buying clothes from charity shops is becoming the new chic?”

Hay: “Yes, I’m considering buying only designer clothes in future. In fact I’m going to get a personal dress designer.”

I hear Lily Allen is considering leaving the music business. Never realised she was in it in the first place. I thought she was in the celebrity business.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Lost in Translation

Renewed my phone contract yesterday and got the promise of a new phone – decided to go for a simple slimline jobbie, the Nokia 6303. A grown-up’s phone.

Had a look on YouTube for a review and found this:

Can anyone tell me what language this chap is using, as I can’t understand a bloody word he says. I think it’s Serbo-Croat, but I can’t be 100% certain.

I’m going to take some of you back in time now and conjure up an image from the past that came to me yesterday while I was cutting a slice of bread on the breadboard. Who remembers their grandmother, or in the case of my younger readers perhaps their great grandmother, taking an uncut loaf (only the posh people bought sliced bread in those days), holding it close to her ample bosom as if putting it in a headlock and sawing a slice off with a bread knife as if she was sawing off someone’s head? Breadboards seem to be a phemomenon of the late 20th century.

Friday, 6 November 2009

West African Swine Flu Vaccine Consipracy

In a shock revelation, voters in the UK are thought to be set to sack their political advisors next year.

Chairman of the Political Advisory Committee, ‘Professor’ Gordon Brown, said: “How can they sack us? Our role is to provide political analysis and to present the public with scientific – well, sort of – truth, no matter how unpalatable that advice may be. For voters to sack us because they don’t agree with the advice we give is illogical and a travesty.”

A news headline this morning about the killing of 13 soldiers at a US army base by a gunman.

“It is not clear what motivated the attacker, named as 39 year-old military psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan.”

I think I may have an idea as to a motivation.

I’m not sure what set off the train of thought, but the other day I was reminded of some culinary delights from my early days at sea when travelling to West Africa on Elder Dempster vessels (known by we experts as Elder Dumpster). Two dishes sprang immediately to mind; palm oil chop and groundnut stew, both were special Sunday treats and simply delicious. I recommend them to you.

Anyone ever had pan-fried squirrels?

Remember my rant back in August about the Swine Flu vaccine conspiracy? I’m scheduled to have both my seasonal and H1N1 flu jabs on Saturday. I’ll let you know if I get killed in the attempt at genocide on the part of dark forces. As we all know, Michael Jackson was killed because he had inside information on the H1N1 vaccine conspiracy (how long will it take for that to become orthodoxy?).

Oh dear - I had a little look and I spoke too soon.

A few final words; corfam shoes. Can't be 100% certain, but I'm almost sure I was the first boy in my school to wear them. Anyone remember them? A boon to all who wore uniforms.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Creation of Art?

If art is anything involving a ceative act (regardless of whether you subjectively like it or not), can blogging be called art?

If you're having a firework party tonight (for my UK readers) take care with your fireworks tonight and be safe! For those from afar, November the 5th is Bonfire Night, when we celebrate the Gunpowder Plot being foiled.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Rapping Philosopher

Overheard in the caravan:

Hay and I are both ill with colds or flu. Caravan was having lunch at The Dog pub yesterday and phoned Hay to ask if we’d like him to bring us some soup from The Dog.

Hay: “Caravan just phoned to say he’s bringing us some soup from The Dog.”
Chairman: “Soup Doggy Dogg?”

Here’s a word from beyond the grave by Bertrand Russell about the British Home Secretary’s sacking of his chief scientific drug advisor, Professor David Nutt.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Hunting For Squashed Animals

Overheard in the caravan:

Hay: “I’m fed up washing your clothes. They’re always covered in food, stains or squashed animals.”

I’m struggling with my massive security complex as well as my feelings of inherent superiority.

I hardly posted last week, but perversely I had more hits. Perhaps I should refrain from posting to boost my readership?

I heard on TV last night that if the Conservatives get into power in the UK they will repeal the Hunting Act, which forbids the hunting of foxes for sport. The argument used by the hunting lobby is that it’s a traditional country sport. I wonder if the Conservatives are amenable to bringing back those favourite old traditions of slavery and stuffing kids up chimneys to sweep them.

I used to be ambivalent toward fox hunting until I saw a documentary showing a farmer leaving carcases out over winter to encourage foxes so he could charge toffs to hunt on his land in the hunting season. Now if you're using the argument that fox hunting should be allowed as foxes are vermin, then you don't bloody well encourage the damned things to inhabit your land.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

I'm Not Alone, Am I?

I trust I'm not alone in thinking Pink Floyd bassist Richard Gere and actor Roger Waters were separated at birth, am I?

Roger Waters (left) and Richard Gere (right)

Saturday, 31 October 2009

The Drug Race

The government’s chief advisor on drugs, who has criticised government policy of devaluing and distorting evidence and not using evidence-based decision-making, has been sacked. There’s simply no room for truth in politics. I hope to hell he has a case for unfair dismissal.

If members of my immediate family (i.e. those sharing my surname) refuse to admit, for example, an Australian Aborigine to our family by not actually marrying one who wants to become a family member, are we guilty of racial discrimination under the Race Relations Act?

Monday, 26 October 2009

Is The Chairman Superman?

Hay is getting suspicious of me; she’s realised that Superman and I are never around at the same time.

Last week she spotted some workmen in the local shopping precinct puting up the Xmas decorations while dressed in shorts and T shirts.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has urged Christians to "stand shoulder to shoulder" in rejecting the British National Party. He told the News of the World the party's leader was a "squalid racist".

Lord Carey wrote an opinion piece in The Times in 2008 in which he said: "Immigration must be kept under control if we are to retain the essentials of British society that have been built up over the generations. If this scale of immigration continues, with people of different faiths, cultures and traditions coming here, what will it mean to be British?". That sounds suspiciously like what Nick Griffin, the BNP Fuhrer, was saying on Question Time last week and was being castigated for by the other panelists and the media.

Went to the Gatcombe Park Craft Fair on Sunday. Hideous – knee deep in mud and lashing rain. I’d mistaken No. 1 son’s coat in the back of the car for mine and thus got a good soaking. Hay bought a couple of hair grips which were hand-crafted from recycled tofu for £17, which with the £20 entrance fee charged by the licensed bandit on the gate worked out to £18.50 each. Spent most of my time snaffling the free cheese samples and booze on offer. The food prices were somewhat high, but we’re so seduced by supermarket prices that we forget how much it costs to produce real food, rather than the bland, homogenous, perfectly shaped crap we get from the hypermarket barons.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Question Time for Signatures

Had an idea – an inter-Blogger house swap group where we switch houses for our holidays. I somehow think I’d get the better end of the deal.

8.2m viewers of Question Time on Thursday evening – not to mention the iPlayer watchers who couldn’t face staying up beyond 10:35pm - wow! And some people have the nerve to say the BNP isn’t voicing any valid issues? Having said that, I’m sure a goodly percentage were watching just for the Lions vs Christians aspect of good old car-crash TV. I’d hazard a guess, however, that most BNP supporters would rather be watching X-Factor than Question Time.

"OK, Nick Griffin, apart from the abuse of women, legitimising rape and intolerance of other religions.... what have you got against Islam?"

I had to admire the man for appearing when he clearly knew he was being set-up – but there again, if he knew that then he used it to his advantage and I am vindicated in my assessment of him being a skilled and articulate operator, and thus very dangerous. There’s no denying, if you read the BBC website comments and those on newspaper websites, that he’s garnered massive sympathy, if not outright support. Griffin clearly has his ear much closer to the UK’s heartbeat than most politicians, as do all demagogues who prey on prejudices and fear.

Martin McGuiness was convicted for being caught in a car containing 250 lb of explosives and nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as for being a member of the IRA. He is now Deputy 1st Minister of Northern Ireland. The Pope was a member of the Hilter Youth and therefore aactually a de-facto Nazi. So you can’t necessarily say that a leopard can’t change its spots. For Christ's sake, Regan was a bloody actor!

As for the rent-a-gob studio audience – pathetic! As for the other panel members – incoherent, especially Jack Straw, who rambled on like a drunk fell-walker and avoided answering a pointed question as to whether the rise of the BNP is due to Labour’s failure to address the immigration issue. Warsi and Huhne were essentially agreeing that there’s an immigration problem, but then rounding on Griffin for having the temerity to say so, and even worse, having a plan to address it - which they apparently don't.

Shame on the BBC for allowing this charade to proceed in the manner it did. All power to the BBC for not kow-towing to the jack-booted forces of anti-racist fascism, for silencing those with a different view to you is itself fascism.

Definition of Groupthink:

  1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
  2. Rationalising warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions.
  3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
  4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, disfigured, impotent, or stupid (ad-hominem attacks).
  5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty".
  6. Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
  7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
  8. Mind guards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

That has a resonance on two fronts; the recent banking fiasco and the failure of successive UK governments (or their opposition) to adequately address the immigration issue through the illogical fear of being labelled racist by a voluble minority of mind-police operating for the anti-racism industry (for an industry it certainly is).

You could almost say that being anti-racist is the new black, if you’ll forgive the pun.

I think, however, that the first question we have to ask of our politicians is whether the country is indeed full (we stand at 61.4m). I admit I don’t know the answer. Many are touting this as a valid reason to halt or slow down immigration – but we need to know the facts before we go spouting dogma. There’s no doubt that people who come here and work add to our wealth through taxation – and service some critical sectors of the economy that the common or garden Brit wouldn’t touch with a didgeridoo.

Some facts about UK population growth in the last year from official statistics (allegedly):

  • 791k births – 24% of which are to mothers who were not UK born,
  • 512k immigrants, and
  • 395k emigrants.

Not sure how many deaths there were, but they must logically be fewer than the number of births, or else the population wouldn’t be growing – innit?

That’s an overall increase of 908k heads per annum (less deaths), 54% of which are either foreign-born or born to mothers who are foreign. Is that sustainable? Is that enough to keep our pension system going? I simply don’t know and will therefore refrain from judgement – unless forced to through the absence of an answer.

Once the question of whether we are full has been answered we need to know the true effect of immigration on social cohesion. Obviously, again, there’s a lot of unsubstantiated dogma flying around, but from the viewing figures of Question Time and the mutter from the gutter, many indeed think it an issue.

What we must bear in mind is that in matters such as these, perception unfortunately has a habit of becoming reality, no matter what the facts are, as perception informs judgement if facts simply aren’t available, aren’t corroborated, or simply aren’t promulgated widely. Again this is a question to which I don’t know the answer and will refrain from judgement – unless forced to.

What I will say is that I’m an immigrant. I will also say that we are by nature tribal creatures; evolution has made us that way for survival and expecting millions of years of evolution to change within a couple of hundred years is asking rather a lot from it. There’s a thin veneer of civilization keeping us all in check, but I fear it’s only wafer thin and more cultural than evolutionary.

In 1968 Enoch Powell – he famous for his Rivers of Blood speech – prophesied that by the year 2000 10% of the UK’s population would comprise immigrants and their descendents. According to the 2001 census it was actually 15%. It is an issue for many and it can’t be swept under the carpet any longer, or else the far right will take advantage of it.

However, as Hay pointed out to me yesterday, global warming may render a mass influx of immigrants a fact of life that we can’t hide from by trying to lock the country down. Perhaps Prime Minister Nick Griffin has an answer to that one.

Have you ever analysed your signature? Mine evolved to its current state during my late teens and became autonomic in my early 20s. I physically cannot replicate my signature if I consciously think about the strokes as I do them.

The two dots at the end (none genuine without the two dots) are a mystery even to me, although I suspect they may be vesitgial, surreal, pointillist, impressionistic representations of the final two letters of my surname. I’m a bloody artist and I never knew it.

This signature could be worth a fortune – if you managed to get it on one of my cheques.

Looks a bit foreign, doesn’t it?

If I take a while answering any comments, forgive me. I'm currently on the M5 motorway - probably somewhere around Exeter - headed for Truro to collect No.1 son.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Get Your Xmas Presents Now!

Didn't manage to watch the Question Time on TV last night as it was on an hour and a half after my bedtime. Will catch it on iPlayer tomight though. Trawling through the newspaper headlines shows Griffin as not having done much for his image, but looking at the reader comments on the newspapers and the BBC website comments suggest a large majority think it was a charade with Nick Griffin being treated to the ad-hominem attacks favoured by those with no counter-argument and a desire to simply shut him up.

I particularly like this comment from a reader of The Times:

“Well, I've thought long and hard about this and, in spite of his state of denial and his slipping and sliding, I still think that, in the interests of impartiality, it was right and proper to allow Jack Straw on to Question Time.”

Ordered a book from Amazon last night. This morning I received notification that it had been despatched – by Royal Mail. Won’t be seeing that in a hurry then.

Hay has found me the perfect Christmas gift – a Gentleman’s Willy Care Kit – just what every discerning gentleman needs.

Or how about the Gentleman’s Ball Scratcher (below)?

Here are some of the reviews of the Ball Scratcher:

“I had always found the standard 'hands on' approach to be fairly successful, but this product offers a little more. The long handle really facilitates access to those awkward areas and the cold metal can be quite stimulating. Fortunately the makers have gone to the trouble of fashioning a distinctly feminine hand, so the homophobic have nothing to fear from this product.

“PS. Following a rather unfortunate incident at a party, I would advise against leaving it in the kitchen after use (especially on a sweltering summer's day). It would have taken a braver man than myself to disabuse thirty-or-so guests of the notion that they had been using a rather trendy 'cocktail stirrer.”

“I've been using the ball scratcher for almost a day now, but have to say that it should be used with care. It seems to have upset several of the people whose balls I've tried to scratch with it. Maybe it's best kept for personal use.”

On holiday next week, so I may be a bit sporadic.