Monday, 9 February 2009

Monday 09/02/09

Yesterday I was reading an article by Dominic Lawson. He noted that while Carol Thatcher was being condemned for likening a tennis player to a golliwog, the Theatre Royal is cheerfully hosting a performance of Oliver, which depicts a caricature Jew in a very unattractive and anti-semitic light, as entertainment.

I see Carol Thatcher has been allegedly receiving death threats. Which is worse, a racist (if the label can actually be made to stick to Thatcher, which personally I don’t believe it could), or a fascist who wants to actually kill you for no other reason than you have a different opinion to him? Racists are only misguided, fascists are monsters and infinitely more dangerous to society. Racist fascists are the worst, as evidenced by Hitler.

Remember Madoff – the chap who ran the Ponzi scheme that lost $50bn? Apparently Barclays had touted his scheme as an ‘attractive investment’ after having subjected it to their ‘comprehensive due diligence programme’. Barclays’ due diligence programme must be about as much use as a microphone was to Milli Vanilli.

Bonuses for bankers is big news. If an investment banker made a lot of money for his company, he quite rightly deserves a bonus. If an investment banker lost his company a lot of money, he deserves no bonus and possibly the sack. In any bank there will be a mix of both; each should get their just desserts, providing the ones that lost a lot of money left enough in the kitty to pay the ones that made some. If there ain’t enough in the kitty, it’s just tough luck – and in no manner can money borrowed from the government be included as part of the kitty. Does that sound fair?

Adverts for showers used to show naked women luxuriating as a cascade of stimulating water caressed their bodies. Lately I’ve noticed that such adverts have started to part clothe the models. Is this the advent of a new morality in advertising?

I’ve always wondered why the older adverts used sex in this manner, as a man has absolutely no say whatsoever in the make of shower in his home and merely buys what he’s told is needed. A man’s sole intent is to get into and then out of the shower in the shortest possible time – he’s not interested in showering as an activity for its own sake, or as part of a pampering process – so why use a naked woman to try and sell him a shower? We men merely go into the bathroom to ablute and spray the place with territorial markers that women incessantly complain about. All we want to know is that buying a new shower ain’t going to bankrupt us. Could that realisation have finally hit shower manufacturers and now they are targeting women with less sexualised imagery?

Was listening to AA Gill being interviewed about something on Radio 4 on Saturday morning. The interviewer started off calling him AA when talking to him and then later shortened this to A as the interview got more friendly. Weird! The man’s name is Anthony, not A.

This vignette from Matthew Parris writing in the Times really amused me: some 25 years ago, as MP for West Derbyshire, he was making a Christmas-morning visit to the hospitals and nursing homes in the constituency, and called in at one NHS cottage hospital where the flinty matron gave him a sherry. She and Parris stared bleakly out over a sad room of desperately fragile, often confused old people, too weak to leave, staring blankly at a television screen. “I blame central heating,” said the matron grimly. “Time was when a good Derbyshire winter would have cut through this lot like a knife through butter.”

I’m currently re-reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (unfortunately an abridged version, as the full volumes are on the boat) and am constantly amazed at the man’s incisive analysis and beautifully crafted literary style. Able to make even the dullest subject interesting though his use of language, Gibbon richly deserves the title ‘man of letters’. Here’s a link to some selected quotations from the books; I urge you to alight on just one or two and revel in Gibbon’s delightful prose.

One of my favourites: "The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful."

Hay and I happened to call in at Tesco yesterday for a few items that aren’t available at Lidl – Bic razors, Lingham’s chili sauce, etc. While standing at the checkout we were horrified at what the people around us were buying for their weekly shopping. With the exception of the odd piece of fruit, almost everything on the conveyor belts comprised pre-processed and packaged foods – vast quantities of it. Now Lidl has a reputation for its customers coming from the lower income bracket, but in general we’ve noticed that they tend to buy a greater proportion of fresh food, which seems counter-intuitive when most of the British working class simply don’t know how to cook. The only explanation I can come up with is that foreigners (especially Eastern Europeans and Africans) are more heavily represented in Lidl’s customer base and their culture is one in which good food (and hence fresh produce) plays an important role. They are more aware that buying fresh food is actually cheaper (not to say more nutritious) than buying processed convenience food which is loaded with sugar, salt and hydrogenated fat.

Another round in my war on cosmetics firms’ use of bollocky words. Saw a L’Oreal advert extolling the virtues of fibro-plastyl, which is a word invented by L’Oreal for a bean from vigna aconitifolia, or the moth bean plant. Moth bean extract doesn’t exactly sound very exotic and you might be a bit daft using the name in your adverts, whereas fibro-plastyl sounds infinitely more scientific. Given v.aconitifolia is a plant and can’t be patented, they dress it up in bollocky pseudo-scientific language to make you think it’s something they invented.

Now v.aconitifolia is a drought resistant plant and the thinking must be that if the plant has osmotic-resistant capabilities, an extract of it must do the same for the skin, which ain’t necessarily so, unless you happen to be plant. Here’s a paper that goes into the plant science, but it might as well be written in Serbo-Croat as far as my ability to interpret it is concerned, however, Hay fully understands it. In essence, as far as minimising the loss of moisture from skin is concerned, Dubbin or goose fat has a similar effect. The benefit of Dubbin is that you can use it on your leather football boots and as a lubricant for your bicycle chain – so come on ladies, buy Dubbin as a beauty aid.

High definition TV! Do any of my readers have experience of HD-TV? Is the human eye capable of discerning the difference between HD-TV and normal TV? I can’t help feeling it’s yet another bit of garbage designed to persuade us to part with our money for no good reason.


  1. no plantscience paper in Serbo-croat,pitty.

  2. It is Srpsko-Hrvatski,Serbo-Croat but not anymore,thats pitty too.

  3. Sandra - may I presume you are Croatian then? Or possibly Serbian?

  4. TC: My OH is wholly with you when it comes to the pseudoscience of beauty ads - "Now with added Fraudulan!", he will chime!

    p.s. I love LIDL - Even the household things they sell, such as lamps, are usually of excellent quality - the Germans won't buy rubbish (although I am told by German friends that sometimes the posher lot go to the store under cover of darkness to buy their bedding and duvets, for fear of being seen by their neighbours!)

  5. Woman,

    I thought the posher ones went to Aldi, or France.

  6. Sir,is it all right by you if I stay what I am,born Yugoslavian woman.I never was any different so why should I change?Cause my land is no more?I speak Serbo-Croat,Dutch,English and very bit of Spanish.,Good day to yo.

  7. Sandra - yes, stick with whatever suits you.

    I speak English, Dutch, a little Spanish (which I mix well with my French) and a smattering of Japanese.

    Your English is far superior to my Serbo-Croat.