Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Tuesday 21/04/09

Heard in the caravan:

The Chairman: “You look pensive.”
Hay: “No – I’m just thinking.”

Yesterday, Kapgaf, who resides in Paris (but then we all have our crosses to bear) enquired as to what Time Team is, having mentioned it on pesterday’s post. It’s entirely my fault as I forgot to add the link to the Time Team website, meaning that if the subject was unknown to them, my adoring readership had to move their mouse a whole few inches, highlight the words ‘Time Team’, right-click and then perform what we experts call a Google Search, noting that the first item in the results list is the very program I mentioned. The stress of it all!

Well, Time Team is an televisual archaeological race in which several highly eccentric archaeologists (including Lemmy from Motorhead) spend 3 days digging up some poor bugger’s back yard to discover a buried wall that’s been lost for all of a couple of decades. The presenter is Tony Robinson – or Baldrick, as he is better remembered by everyone in the English speaking world. Tony Robinson passed four O Levels at school and went on to study for A Levels, but it proved too taxing and so he decided on the dunce’s option and studied drama instead. According to reports, the 62 year-old fossil is about to marry his 27 year-old girlfriend.

Why Time Team is limited to 3 days has always remained a mystery to me – perhaps Lemmy has to get away to gigs between digs. The program has been on telly since 1994 with the head archaeologist, Mick Aston, never having changed his hideous trade-mark jumper once in the intervening 15 years. It looks like something knitted by a colourblind quadriplegic and must in itself date from the early ‘70s, although radio carbon dating has proven inconclusive.

Mick Aston’s Jumper

Dendrochronology analysis of samples from Mick’s head prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Mick himself is at least as old as the Shroud of Turin.

Speaking of which, we now appear top have the Kit-Kat of Turin. There’s a report of the face of Jesus having been found in a Kit-Kat; however, how anyone can make this judgement is beyond me, as we have no verified portraits of the man to compare the image with.

If you ask me, it looks more like the face of the tramp I gave a quid to last Friday on Chipping Sodbury High Street, or at a push it could be Frank Zappa.

Talking of carbon dating - you know this carbon trading thingy? Well it seems that the recession has resulted in the price of carbon permits going through the floor as the amount of pollution goes down as industry reacts to the credit crisis. Those left holding useless carbon permits try to sell them, resulting in a market glut and an even greater depression in the trading price. Logic would dictate that now is the time for the speculator to buy up permits; however, it was recently pointed out that more permits were issued than the total volume of polluting emissions – even before the downturn. It’s a classic bubble market which will do nothing to reduce emissions to the level needed to off-set emissions-induced climate change. It’s a hoax that serves no discernable purpose other than to obtain more tax revenue!

I don’t know about you, but I somehow get the impression that green power is the new bubble market. I see job advert after job advert for sales people to sell wind turbines and green heating systems. I can’t help feeling that the market will be saturated before much longer, prices will drop enormously and companies selling some of these products will go bust faster than Jayne Mansfield’s bra, leaving a number of rather unhappy customers. Green power is the new Health & Safety market, in that just a few years ago everyone was hiring an H&S advisor to ensure no-one was cut by a Post-it note or stumbled on a wet teabag, and will shortly be hiring green advisors instead to advise on the ethical disposal and recycling of the reams of company H&S rules.

Most of the holiday I had last week was spent glueing together Warhammer 40k soldiers. If you’re not familiar with Warhammer, then I’ll enlighten you. There are shops in most large shopping malls called Games Workshop, where they sell themed toy soldiers that are used in strategy war games. The shops suck youngsters in by hosting battles on Saturday and Sunday afternoons – the ideal solution for parents who want to get shot of the kids for a few hours. The characters are either from The Lord of the Rings, or Warhammer, which is basically Lord of the Rings meets Star Wars. They cost an arm and a small leg.

These characters can come ready-moulded, but many are in an Airfix-type matrix, necessitating you having to put them together and paint them. The Games Workshop shops also host painting sessions, where 30-something nerds advise on authentic colours and sell you paint that costs the equivalent of its weight in platinum.

I made the mistake of buying my 11 year-old a complete Warhammer 40k set for his birthday. The reason it’s called 40k is that by the time kids outgrow the games the average parent has spent about £40k on all the accessories. Once the warriors are completed, the real nerd then persuades his parent to buy a special case in which they can be kept between battles. After that comes terrain and scenery – a bit like model railways.

When I was a kid you could buy ready-made and ready-painted toy soldiers for next to nothing (with the added excitement of running the risk of fatal lead poisoning from both the lead soldiers and the lead-based paint). Now-a-days you have to pay a fortune for the basic raw materials and paint them yourself. A complete waste of time, but a fantastic marketing ploy on the part of Games Workshop.

I simply do not have the patience for making Airfix models, let alone piecing together an army; however, it was well worth it to spend time with my elder son doing something together, rather than paying someone else to entertain him – which is what the vast majority of the middle classes do with their interminable rounds of extra-curricular activities that they spend the majority of their time driving their kids between in their 4x4s or MPVs in the mistaken belief their kids actually enjoy them. Despite me only seeing my son for 5 weeks of the year and one weekend per month, I’m certain I spend more time actually doing things together with him than anyone else in his life.

There’s a lot in the news about these Tamil tigers – are they an endangered species? I wonder if they breed in captivity.


  1. Well slap my wrists and call me lazy, which is exactly what you did with your snide little remarks about highlighting and right clicking. I’ve a good mind (yes I have) to stop coming here if I’m going to be picked on – there are plenty of other places I can go to be picked on.

    Anyway, you managed to make blog fodder out of it, so it’s a win/win situation (I loathe all corporate speak expressions but I think that one takes the biscuit – mine’s a plain chocolate digestive, please). I am intrigued by the Mike Aston jumper – there’s no way that a jumper would last for 15 years even if only worn for three days at a time. So you know what that means, don’t you? There must be more than one! Aaaaargh.

    Those Games Workshop figurines are weird but I’d quite like to buy me an army of dwarves with bright red hair but I’d first need to know exactly what that extraneous piece of flesh is. I think they’d go very well with my army of miniature Russian dancing soldiers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoQb8vb4blA).

    When you had your toy soldiers, did you also have cannons that had bits of metal that you could fire? My brother and I spent hours arranging battles, knocking down soldiers, pinching our fingers in the firing mechanism. It was much more fun than dolls. And I loved Airfix models; to this day, the names Spitfire, Kittyhawk, Messerschmidt, Stuka conjure up the smell of Airfix glue and the frustration of never getting the transfers in exactly the right place because they kept slipping.

    Glad you got to spend some good times with the boys (or was it just the one?).

    P.S. Frank Zappa ? Not sure. Could be Gandalf.

  2. We 'did' Warhammer a few years ago - this is probably why I am now broke! Fortunately the craze didn't last too long and my startlingly unambitious son has no desire to become a Games Workshop nerd - but the shop in Brussels has closed anyway!

  3. How charming the post and the comments! I get a kick everytime I come here.

  4. Kapgaf: Glad to see you're thinking outside the envelope. Just had the one boy staying with me. T'other one is being encouraged to refuse contact.

    Dragon: I somehow think my eldest's fascination will last no longer than a few months - thank God.

    Lake: Where do you get that kick?

  5. Only you could get from Time Team to Tamil Tigers via a Kit-Kat!lol !

  6. That Time team lot get on my nerves, they came round here last year working on a Roman Villa they recently found near to the Chedworth Villa. Took over the local pub with Lemmy and Baldrick proping up the bar all night long, nearly drank the place dry. Sadly no Mick with his lovely sweater(shame! Are all archaeologists scruffy or am being archaeolomic?