Monday, 31 August 2009

Bullets & Funerals

I read a news report yesterday that the British Army is training with blanks in order to save money. Frankly I’m surprised they’re allowed to use live bullets even on active service – they could kill someone or at least have an eye out with them.

Edward Kennedy was buried yesterday with full military honours. Why? All I remember him for is being a liar, drunkard and philanderer. Perhaps some of my American readers may care to enlighten me as to the reason behind his sanctification.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Bricks & Mortar

House prices seem to be climbing again, prompting the pundits to start spewing the crap that bricks and mortar are the best investments anyone can make.

Seeing as a house is an essential, it’s a bit like saying that air is the best investment you can make. How can something you need be considered an investment?

You can only afford to buy a house on a mortgage that results in you paying multiples of the original value over several decades, hoping to hell that house price inflation outstrips normal inflation forever - which it won't, as people need to be able to afford housing (hence the frequent adjustments we know as house price slumps).

Also you can only realise any increase in value (minus the considerable interest you've conveniently forgotten about) by downsizing on retirement to a cockroach infested hovel, much against the advice of your kids, who are looking to their inheritance and will have you sectioned under the mental health act and whisked into a state-funded care home a nanosecond after you sell your house.

In the final analysis, my recommendation is to buy a caravan for £25k and live in it for the rest of your life, or at least until you can afford to build your own house, sinking your excess savings into a high interest savings account to fund a comfortable retirement. You’ll definitely end up with much more money that way. Certainly don't listen to advice from mortgage brokers and estate agents.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Legal Highs

Here we go again – the Daily Mail Tendency want substances that give legal highs banned.

Designer drugs, GBL and BZP, have been linked to a number of deaths. That usually translates to less than 10. Alcohol kills thousands every year and causes untold misery for millions, but is freely available. When will the hypocrites give up?

Banning the soft drugs, like cannabis, leads the young to legal alternatives, which can be many times more harmful than cannabis. No-one has ever died of a cannabis overdose. Banning one drug after another is like chasing your tail or the end of the rainbow – it will never cease, diverting police from real crime.

America showed that prohibition was useless; why do legislators never learn?

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Footie, BNP & Growing Up

Kerry Katona, the famous French philosopher-footballer, has apparently been cautioned for possession. He’s changed a bit since his Manchester United days.

There’s a delicious irony about the UK's equalities watchdog talking out legal action against the British National Party over concerns about ethnic restrictions on its membership.

I beat my 11 year-old son at go-karting yesterday – by one second over 17 laps, and that was only because he spun (spinned, span?) out on one early lap. It won’t be long before I’m a fallen hero and he no longer looks up to me - literally. However, I did manage to teach him how to mend an inner tube puncture without having to buy a new bike.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Tweet Delete

Deleted my Twitter account yesterday – it seems to be turning into a system for advertising porn sites.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Guess the YouTube track

We invented a new game last night. 7 of us were sat outside passing the laptop between ourselves, each having a turn at selecting a YouTube track for the others to guess the title of.

The evening ended up with us all having the following track firmly embedded in our minds and unable to stop singing it.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Quack Quack

I’m receiving a high number of hits from people looking for information on the Slimray Lipolaser I was debunking a couple of weeks ago. It’s the kind of device your belief in science’s triumph over blubber wants to convince you is real and works – but it ain’t and doesn’t; at least not according to science.

Talking of quack cures (once again), the World Health Organisation has said that people with conditions such as HIV, TB and malaria should not rely on homeopathic treatments.

Dr Nick Beeching, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital said: "There is no objective evidence that homeopathy has any effect on these infections, and I think it is irresponsible for a healthcare worker to promote the use of homeopathy in place of proven treatment for any life-threatening illness."

The reasons medics are not prepared to condemn homeopathy outright is that for some people and some conditions it can work. The reason it can work is not due to any pharmacological mechanism, but due to the placebo effect – the same way in which a witch doctor can cure (or kill) some people. It’s all to do with the power of suggestion and not any innate efficacy on the part of the medication. If you are a highly suggestible individual you can convince yourself that virtually anything from prayer to placebo works, and for conditions where mental attitude plays a crucial role, they can. However, neither prayer nor placebo have ever regenerated a severed limb.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Banksy (Part II)

We queued for about an hour to see the Banksy exhibition, which was not as bad as the wait advertised. The queue was one of those snaky ones they have in post offices and had an ice cream van stationed at one of the major turns. The ice cream queue caused a bit of a hold up, which one enterprising yummy mummy and her brood of 3 took advantage of in order to cut across and queue-jump. My remonstrations and loud complaints were of no avail; she obviously had more front than Southend beach and obviously not of Anglo-Saxon heritage, or else she would have understood that queue-jumping in the UK is on a par with paedophilia and leads to the same social ostracism as leprosy. She was eventually upbraided by one of the marshals and made to wait further on.

We had bought a Banksy ‘manual’ a couple of days before on Amazon for about £2.99, the very same book that was selling in the exhibition gift shop for about £13. It is interesting to note from the book that Banksy had been persuaded, against his better judgement, to assert his copyright rights, despite a large banner on the copyright page stating that ‘copyright is for losers’. Mmmm – the words ‘sold’ and ‘out’ come to mind.

Here is an extract from the book: “The people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit, which makes their opinion worthless.” He has a point here.

He continues: “They say graffiti frightens people and is symbolic of the decline in society, but graffiti is only dangerous in the mind of three types of people; politicians, advertising executives and graffiti writers. The people who truly deface our neighbourhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy there stuff. They expect to be able to shout their message in your face from every available surface but you’re never allowed to answer back. Well, they started the fight and the wall is the weapon of choice to hit them back.” Another somewhat valid point.

However, he concludes: “Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place.” What Banksy fails to grasp is that the vast majority of graffiti artists do not have the same view as him; their ‘art’ contains no irony; it does not incorporate careful juxtaposition and thought as to composition; it is no more than a mindless and inarticulate rant against society having no artistic merit whatsoever and is an eyesore which no-one wants to look at.

I would not call Banksy’s work graffiti. His work contains wit, humour, irony in spades and in many cases subtlety. It is urban social and political commentary. In that respect it is verging on propaganda – and excellent propaganda at that.

I just hope he doesn’t go up his own arse and sell out in a big way, as it would ruin his creativity, which in a way is what an exhibition does, as one tends to produce to order and then run out of statements. That's when the statements become either repetitive or vacuous.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Banksy Exhibition - Bristol 19/08/09

Well worth the entrance fee.

Explanations tomorrow, if I feel up to it.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Overheard in The Smoking Dog pub, Malmesbury:

Chairman’s No.1 son (hushed): “Bogies!”
Chairman (louder): “Bogies!”
Chairman’s No.1 son (even louder): “Bogies!”
Chairman (yet louder): “Bogies!”
Chairman’s No.1 son: “You won dad.”

Overheard in Malmesbury Abbey:

Chairman (hushed): “Bogies!”
Chairman’s No.1 son (louder): “Bogies!”
Chairman (even louder): “Bogies!”
Chairman’s No.1 son (at top of voice): “Bogies!”
Hay: “It’s like having two eleven year-olds to contend with.”
Chairman’s No.1 son: “I am eleven.”
Chairman: “I’m nearly eleven.”

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

You'd be unhappy too

I do wish headline writers would think before publishing.

Yesterday I spotted this one: "Man shot dead by police 'unhappy'."

I dare say he was - you would be too if you'd been shot dead. It's only after reading the story that you become aware of the what the headline writer meant.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Folly House Annual Gig

The weather is fine, so hopefully it will be a good one.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Dubious field-sports

Overheard in the Chipping Sodbury field-sports shop:

No.1 son: “Dad, why is fishing a field-sport?”
Chairman: “Well, any sport in which you kill something is a field-sport.”
No.1 son: “How about killing yourself?”
Chairman: “Well, while many people have topped themselves in a field, suicide is not generally classed as a field-sport.”

Friday, 14 August 2009

Lockerbie, pets and shotguns

The British hang ‘em high brigade are out in force again over the pending release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the so-called Lockerbie Bomber. They are calling for him to rot in jail on the basis of ignorance. You can read some of the ill-informed comments here.

If any of these ranting individuals took the time to review what’s been happening since he was incarcerated then they would realise that the evidence against him is now highly suspect and it’s widely believed that he was the subject of a horrendous miscarriage of justice perpetrated by the US authorities. At the very least it’s posited he was offered up as a sacrificial lamb by Gadaffi to stop the sanctions against Libya.

The problem is that people rarely bother to investigate, think and then form a considered judgement – they react with visceral gut emotion under the erroneous assumption that the British judicial system is faultless. That has been disproved many times in the past.

In 2007 the following came to light:

  1. Megrahi’s lawyers claim that vital documents, which emanate from the CIA and relate to the Mebo timer that allegedly detonated the Lockerbie bomb, were withheld from the trial defence team.
  2. Tony Gauci, chief prosecution witness at the trial, is alleged to have been paid $2 million for testifying against Megrahi.
  3. Mebo's owner, Edwin Bollier, has claimed that in 1991 the FBI offered him $4 million to testify that the timer fragment found near the scene of the crash was part of a Mebo MST-13 timer supplied to Libya.
  4. Former employee of Mebo, Ulrich Lumpert, swore an affidavit in July 2007 that he had stolen a prototype MST-13 timer in 1989, and had handed it over to "a person officially investigating the Lockerbie case".

Megrahi’s 3rd appeal is due, and it could lead to a lot of uncomfortable new evidence coming to light – uncomfortable for the US authorities. However, if he’s repatriated he has to forego the appeal (or choose to stay in the UK) – and thus compensation if cleared. Neat trick, eh?

To say I detest the mob is an understatement. It has no brain and reacts without thinking. God help us if we ever have total democracy where every issue is voted on by everyone.

The computer-generated picture below was created after a survey of 2,000 British pet lovers and revealed the nation's perfect animal. It should be 49% dog, 35% cat, 9% horse and 7% rabbit.

Cute, isn’t it?

Yesterday I was listening on the steam wireless to a chap who is launching a shooting-fishing-hunting TV channel. I was horrified to learn that in the UK you can legitimately hold a shotgun licence from the age of 2 (to own an airgun you have to be 18). It would be younger, but someone has to vouch that they’ve known you for 2 years. The TV chap defended children having shotguns by using one of the most facile arguments I’ve heard in years – that it teaches children to be responsible. In that case we should be allowing toddlers to drive, wield chainsaws and vote. As any parent knows, responsibility cannot be taught to children until they are aware that they are not the centre of the universe – which occurs at about 18, or 50 for males.

Right – I’m off on holiday and I’ll leave you with an interesting link about the spread of memes. However, don’t think I won’t post while I’m off work – you know how I can’t resist it, especially when I hear some nonsense.

PS - as I have just been reminded, if you're on Facebook then there's a poll here about the Lockerbie Bomber.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The BIG Questions

I shall first proceed to answer some of the big questions of our time:

How and why did the universe begin?

The current theory is a Big Bang, but we don’t know precisely why, and maybe never will. It could have been as a result of a rebound from a Big Crunch of a previous universe, or it could have been as a result of our universe budding off another (and possibly co-existing) universe via a vacuum fluctuation. It could feasibly have been as a result of the Infinite Improbability Drive, in which case it could equally well disappear as a result of Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure.

Where have you all gone?

Is time travel physically or logically possible?

We travel through time continually – but only in one direction. As for going back in time, the laws of physics forbid it. However, that doesn’t stop some people living in a time-warp, as evidenced by Status Quo.

Why are we here? What's the point of living?

Well if that’s how you feel, I’m thinking of doing cheap assisted suicides as a sideline. Any takers?

Are we descended from apes?

Seems like it - some more recently than others.

Could a computer have a mind?

If Paris Hilton has one, then why not? In fact, she’s proof that a marshmallow has a mind. Rocks think very slowly.

What is death and why should we fear it?

It’s the feeling you had before you were conceived. If you’ve experienced it before, then why fear it?

Here’s another take on it. Are you in Vladivostok? The answer (unless you happen to be in Vladivostok) is no. The logical conclusion is that you are elsewhere. If you are elsewhere, you are not here. If you’re not here, you don’t exist. If you don’t exist, you’re dead. How do you feel? Ergo being dead is the same as how you feel now.

I'm also led to believe that death is the feeling experienced by people who live in Swindon (colloquially known as Swine).

Are we alone in the universe?

The truth is out there somewhere. However, if the question is posed by you to me, then I have to say no, as there is a whole bunch of other people in the world, who also happen to be in the universe (except for Paris Hilton of course, who is in an alternate pink universe comprised of her alone).

Are moral values relative or absolute?

Absolutely relative.

How do we decide between right and wrong?

We weigh up the benefits our actions bring us against the odds of being caught or the action coming back to bite us in the bum at a later stage – except if you’re Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, who is an emissary of Beelzebub.

Should the rich help the poor?

Definitely – all donations will be gratefully received.

Does God exist?

She must. Her PMT is the root cause of all evil in the world.

Talking of God, a group of rabbis and Jewish mystics have taken to the skies over Israel, praying and blowing ceremonial trumpets to ward off swine flu. The words ‘triumph of hope over reality’ come to mind.

A friend of mine posted this photo on Facebook a couple of days ago. What were they thinking of when they named this one?

It’s actually a Photoshopped image of the Titan Taurus. I found out by looking up the IMO Number above the name. Sad to think it’s not real – it should be.

Have you seen the latest Islamic swimwear, which is causing a bit of a kerfuffle in France. It’s called the Burkini.

Personally, if someone wishes to try and swim dressed in a drogue, that’s their affair, but officials in a French swimming pool have banned it.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Name & shame

I sometimes despair of my fellow countrymen and women.

Here in the UK a couple who were found guilty of abusing and finally killing their child have been named. It has sparked a debate on whether criminals should be publicly named and shamed. You can read some of the answers here.

From the answers the majority of the great unwashed give, you’d think we were back in medieval times.

I’m no bleeding heart liberal, but:

  1. In the case of the couple at the centre of this debate, given the lives they led and the abuse they themselves suffered at the hands of their parents, their crime was almost a foregone conclusion. Abuse engenders abuse and those who have suffered abuse themselves are in an almost inescapable vicious circle. Some 80% of we do what we do we do because of what went before.
  2. If people such as these are named and shamed then millions from the public purse have to be spent protecting them from vigilantes. Is that a wise use of public funds that could be better spent elsewhere?
  3. If someone has done their time in prison and served the sentence the courts consider just, are they then not entitled to try to rehabilitate themselves into society?
  4. America has proven conclusively that the death penalty is not a deterrent.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The change

Heard something on the radio the other day about blokes who can’t, or refuse to drive. A chap in his mid 30s who had never driven was waffling on saying that men who don’t drive are superior due to them being more at ease with themselves and not having penis envy. Hay mentioned that male academics are notorious for not being able to drive, being generally very insecure individuals with extremely low self-esteem. As it turned out, the guy on the radio extolling the virtues of not driving just happened to mention he also is an academic.

I thought Hay had contracted a rather nasty skin disease the other day. Her bum was criss-crossed with dimples which resembled highly structured cellulite. It turned out she’d developed what we experts call wicker bum syndrome from sitting too long on her seersucker dressing gown.

She’s suffering at present and isn’t sure whether she’s just out of sorts or (hushed tones and conspiratorial glances from side to side) perimenopausal and undergoing ‘the change’. I’m fully expecting her to start growing a beard and spread sideways. She’s currently having more hot flushes than Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park.

‘The change’ in men is not so pronounced, being limited to selective deafness, a propensity for misplacing wallets, spectacles and car keys, the cultivation of wire wool in our ears, nostrils and on our backs and the desire to nod off at inconvenient moments – like in the middle of conversations or motorways.

I find it strange that as women go through the change they lose key attributes of femininity, whereas men seem to become even more male. With us it’s as if an uber-male hormones starts to kick in – grumposterone, intolerosterone and I forget the 3rd one.

I must admit, however, that the urge within me to be ultra-competitive has diminished over the years. I’ve noticed this especially when driving. A boy racer (or even a fat, middle-aged racer) sat in the car next to me at the traffic lights no longer evokes the urge to put the pedal to the metal a nanosecond before the lights turn to green. The desire to conserve fuel has taken precedence, and in any case I invariably catch up with them at the next set of traffic lights anyway, which demonstrates the utter futility of street racing.

Monday, 10 August 2009

A Pythonesque school reunion

What button do you press to begin a computer shutdown procedure? Hardly surprising old people have problems getting to grips with computer technology.

I‘m thinking of having a no-email day. I’ll set my out-of-office message to say: “I’m not accepting e-mail today. Should you wish to communicate with me, then pick up the phone for a change.”

A cat from Bristol called Wilbur strayed into its next door’s garden and encountered a hungry 13ft pet Burmese python. Days later, when the python was scanned by the RSPCA, Wilbur’s remains were identified by his micro-chip inside the snake’s body. Wilbur’s owners, the Wadeys, are now launching a ‘Justice for Wilbur’ campaign. They say the unusual manner of his death highlights an anomaly in British law: pythons are not covered by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act. The Wadeys believe such snakes should be licensed and owners prosecuted if they leave them to roam. Martin Wadey said: “Wilbur’s little life was brutally snuffed out. We don’t want it to have been in vain.” As far as I can see, Wilbur’s life wasn’t in vain; he was a tasty little snack for a neighbour’s pet.

The school reunion in Liverpool went very well. There were so many in attendance that about 200 of us had to go off-piste in an adjacent dining room, having the speeches piped to us via the PA system. The First Sea Lord’s speech was unedifying and far too long by 20 minutes (it was 20 minutes). He proceeded to lose the majority of the audience after about the 5th minute and we in the annexe got busy with the serious business of throwing bread rolls between the tables of the different years.

He made the mistake of trying to make a few political points, and given we Old Conways cover a fairly wide political spectrum, he ended up getting barracked by one particularly annoyed individual who we all suspect was well oiled, as he subsequently fell on the hotel step while taking a breath of fresh air outside and had to be taken to hospital for a hip replacement.

The Adelphi Hotel was OK, but not worth the specially negotiated rate of £90 a night. The bathroom was what could only be described as ‘minimalist and functional’, being reminiscent of a somewhat Spartan Victorian NHS hospital bathroom. The bedroom was well past its sell-by-date and living on past glories - I suspect it has only recently been provided with an electricity supply. The view from the window, which took me about 5 minutes of strenuous effort to prise open, comprised what looked like an air conditioning unit, but couldn’t be as the hotel doesn’t seem to have air conditioning. As for the function rooms; gold Hammerite is not a good replacement for gold leaf ornamental embellishment. The hallways looked like a set from the film ‘The Shining’.

The ‘functional’ bathroom.

The wonderful view.

While driving around Liverpool to find a car park I strayed into China Town and spotted the sign below. On returning home I showed Hay the photo and being fluent in Cantonese I translated it for her.

Translated into Cantonese it says ‘Belly Stleet’.

I noticed lots of girls in town doing their shopping while wearing massive Day-Glo coloured hair curlers. I phoned my 22 year-old niece who lives in the Wirral and enquired of her whether this was the latest fashion fad, which she confirmed. Apparently it’s part of the preparation ritual for going out in the evening – you put your curlers in your hair in the morning and go out to town for the afternoon, advertising the fact you’re hitting the night spots in the evening. A little research tells me it was started by those arbiters of fashion and good taste, Liverpool footballers’ wives. I call it fishwife or Coronation Street chic.

Postings this week may be sporadic, as I'm winding down for my 2 week holiday which starts at the end of the week.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Buy a baby - or a laser liposucker

Well, beside the potato question from Alan (which I was obviously going to get), it would appear no-one is interested in asking me questions. Good – it saves me unburdening myself about that embarrassing incident in Singapore in ’72.

A musical lampooning pop star Madonna's attempts to adopt a young African girl from Malawi is being performed at the Edinburgh Fringe by a Malawian cast.

What is it about the adoption by celebrities of underprivileged children from the 3rd world that causes us to mock? Some very ordinary people do it all the time and receive nothing but praise, yet film stars and celebrities do it and we cringe with repugnance.

Is it possibly that their money enables them to surmount with relative ease the barriers that mere impecunious mortals such as ourselves have to contend with? That’s nothing more than envy.

Is it because we view anything a celebrity does as shallow and a mere fad? Perhaps because the celebrity lifestyle is so vacuous that they need to ‘acquire’ a ‘family’ to give their emotionally bereft lives meaning? Having lots of babies is not conducive to holding onto a long-term career, as there’s the relentless need to look 20yrs younger than you are, thus popping out a maximum of one or two is the limit. However, isn’t such a view just a generalisation and prejudiced?

Is it because it is something the vast majority of us would never even consider doing in a month of Sundays, and we therefore ascribe the desire in moneyed celebrities to an ulterior motive – a selfish motive that resonates inside us and would be the only reason we ourselves would consider doing it?

Perhaps a more pertinent question to ask ourselves is why we wouldn’t do it – and I’ll bet the answers are not to our liking.

Answers and observations on a postcard to the usual address.

It would appear that the Jackson family are set to make $1Bn from MJ’s death. I wonder if any of the Jacksons are now continually looking over their shoulders and hoping to hell their father isn’t creeping up on them from behind in the hope of making another billion.

While browsing Facebook yesterday I notice an advert for a device called the SlimRay Lipolaser.

The device is meant to work on the principle that the laser non-invasively melts subcutaneous fat which is then washed away by the body’s natural fat removal mechanism. Well, if you know what a laser is you’ll know that this can only be a load of old bollocks designed to relieve the gullible of their cash. There is no way a laser could melt fat without punching a bloody great hole in your skin and vaporising several internal organs you might find it difficult to live without. Lasers have a habit of melting everything in their path, or being so weak as to bounce off whatever they touch.

The blurb says it is proven to be safe. Of course it’s bloody safe - torches with red plastic caps on the end (which is what this device obviously is) are not generally considered hazardous to life and limb. A true laser capable of melting fat would certainly not run off a couple of tripe A batteries, nor would you be allowed to buy one over the counter. If these things did work, Al Qaeda would be cornering the Market and using them in crowded places.

I detest these companies (invariably American) that make money by ripping off the gullible and ill educated.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Hotel

God I hate tabloids. There was a story in yesterday’s Metro with the headline ‘Swine flu [help-line] worker fired – for catching flu’. If you bother to read the story the woman in question was fired for not following the sick leave procedure and telling the call centre she would not be coming in. I’m not surprised she was sacked.

Last night Hay was telling me I’ve been putting on a bit of weight. Told her I’m building up my fat reserves for my annual migration to Liverpool at the weekend.

I’m not looking forward to staying at the Adelphi Hotel. If you’re a UK reader than you’ll remember that the hotel, which is a Liverpool institution, featured in a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary programme in 2001. It followed the trials and tribulations of a formidable Scouse hotel manager, Eileen Downey, in her attempts to keep the place running in the face of no budget, bickering staff and an alcoholic chef.

It is meant to have undergone a massive refurbishment in recent years, yet I’ve read some horrendous reviews about the state of the place and the attitude of the staff. However, an advance scouting party of Old Conways from the former colonies settled in last night and have reported back that it’s not too bad, except possibly for the shower arrangements, which apparently leave much to be desired and comprise nothing more complex than a hand-held shower attachment and no shower curtain. We shall see.

I picked up an ‘Honest Scrap Award’ the other day from a fellow blogger, Tony, but I’m not really into these blog award things. The condition of collecting it is that I have to tell you 10 things about myself, pass it on to 10 other people and refer back to the giver - a bit like a pass the parcel with a bomb. I’ve satisfied the last condition, but I honestly can’t think of 10 things you WOULDN’T know about me. Perhaps someone can help by suggesting some questions I can answer?

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Welsh Whisky?

Oh my God! My blog is now attracting adverts from vitamin C barons and purveyors of dubious flu remedies from quack emporia about the flu vaccine being dangerous.

Take a look at this Google advert that was at the foot of my blog yesterday. No - better still, see if it’s at the foot of today’s post and click on it, making the buggers pay a commission to me.

It’s the usual suspects of colloidal silver, blood electrification (whatever that may be) and magnets. The sad thing is that people will actually believe this crap. The really funny bit on the advert is: “Council workers given grave digging courses.” Could be a solution to the unemployment crisis.


Apparently Russian football fans attending next week’s World Cup qualifier in Wales are being urged to drink whisky in order to avoid swine flu. 'Welsh whisky is on offer to Russian supporters as a disinfectant,' Alexander Shprygin, the head of the Russia national team's fan club, said. Welsh whisky?

Further to this Saturday’s Old School Reunion and the above reference to Wales, here’s a list of some of the slang we used to use at school (which was in Wales) in the late 60s:

Band Shag: Member of the band and/or 'free thinker'
Bishop: Out of date or old fashioned
Bilge Cod: Fish, which was rarely served
Boris: An unclean cadet
Boris Box: In the New Block each cadet had a chest of drawers for their belongings so the old sea chests were superfluous. Rather than throw them away, they were cut down in size, placed at the foot of each bunk and used to store dirty laundry until wash day. The term Boris meant an unclean cadet so the boxes were soon nicknamed Boris Boxes.
Brightwork: Anything shiny or polished.
Brightwork Juice: Brasso.
Cheese Crap: Cheese & Potatoes
Clouts: Pieces of threadbare bedcovers that cadets would slide around on to improve the shine of their section of deck and to avoid damage to it.
Connyonny: Condensed milk.
Cow Juice: Milk
Cuts: Being struck over the backside with the Teaser.
Dead man's leg: Jam roly-poly
Dead man's tool: Long suet pudding with sultanas.
Ditching the gash: Throwing out the Gash
First Spare!: Request for any uneaten food
Fresh juice: Water
Galley Trogs: Welsh kitchen staff.
Gash: Another word for Yak
Grease: Butter
Grit: Sugar
King of the Woods: The most powerful QB (see QB). Later the QB most other cadets thought should have been a cadet captain.
Meat Crap: Meat and potatoes
Murphy: Half a baked potato
Nervey: Impertinent as in 'You nervy bastard'
New Chum: New cadet just joined the ship
Nix A Buff: Look out - someone has broken wind.
Nix Oh!: Look out!
Pretty spare chum: Bullshit
QB: Senior cadet in his last term
Returning gash!: The Yak tub was emptied over the side. Anything blown back onto the ship was called out as...
Scouse: Irish stew (obvious really)
Skilley: Tea (any hot drink in earlier years)
Shag: The shape a cadet bent into his cap. The more independently minded the individual - the greater the shag in his cap.
Shit On A Raft: Kidneys or liver on toast.
Slack party: Group of cadets performing a punishment detail
Sodduck/sawduk: Bread.
Suction: Suction was the equivalent of modern brown-nosing. When anybody obtained an unusual favour it was always put down to suction, often accompanied by horrible sucking noises, rather like a pump running dry
Sweep: An area of the ship that a cadet was responsible for cleaning and maintaining. Every cadet had one.
Teaser: Ropes end used for corporal punishment of cadets (by senior cadets). See Cuts
To vulch: See Vulture
Toe Nail Pie: A stodgy pud with "bits" in.
Train Crash: Tinned tomatoes on toast.
Vulture: These were people you would eyeball your plate in the hope you left something worth eating
Yack: Rubbish or dirt
Yack tub: Sawn off bits of old barrel ends, fitted with rope handles on either side, and used as rubbish containers.
Yuck: Pilchards in tomato sauce

The Conway Grace
"We thank the Lord for what we've had,
It wasn't good, it wasn't bad,
The sodduk was stale, the skilly was green
But thank the Lord the plates were clean"

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Make-overs, escapes and school

Got another of those conspiracy theory e-mails yesterday. This one was originally sent by a natural health product company (surprise, surprise). It focused on the mercury controversy and the use of squalene, which some have blamed for Gulf War Syndrome despite the evidence only being tenuous at best. Squalene is a moisturiser used extensively in women’s cosmetics because it quickly penetrates the skin. You don’t see millions of women going around complaining about Gulf War Syndrome, do you? However, I suspect it could be the cause of so many of these pre-sex headaches you hear about.

The conspiracy theorists can’t really lose when you think about it. They complain vociferously about certain chemicals in medical products, resulting in panic and mass hysteria and the great unwashed refusing to take the medication. The authorities then remove the controversial chemical, not because it’s harmful, but because they don’t want people to not take the medication and cause a mass outbreak of (for example) rubella, which will cause needless deaths. The conspiracy theorists then jump up and down yelling that the fact the chemical was removed proves it was dangerous.

Had a mass escape yesterday. The sheep managed to dig a 100 foot subterranean tunnel from their half of the field into the common. We’ve noticed a patch of ground that’s been growing in height over the last few weeks and it was obviously where they were dumping the excavated soil.

Actually, the manner in which they really escaped made Hay suspect it might have been rustlers who were disturbed and fled. All except one were rounded up, and where she has ended up is anyone’s guess.

It’s our annual school reunion again this weekend – but it’s a big one this year as it’s our 150th anniversary. Some 800 of us are gathering at the world-famous and dilapidated Adelphi Hotel for a night of mayhem, debauchery and booze. We have the 1st Sea Lord as our guest of honour – I think we had tried to get Phil the Greek, but he was otherwise engaged shooting something furry in his back garden.

It’s amazing how women attending dinner dances and functions have to try out some 10 different outfits before deciding (invariably at the last possible minute) what they will wear. We men, on the other hand, wear the same old dinner jacket we’ve worn for the last 30 odd years.

Here’s something scary I made last night; it’s a dictator make-over shot. On the left we have a typical, wild-eyed, middle-east dictator who looks somewhat mad, while on the right you see him after a make-over where he is transformed into the epitome of a trustworthy and sagacious democratic leader who kisses babies.

Before(left) and after (right).

Here’s a question that has perplexed me for a while; at what age should women stop wearing thongs? Hay maintains the prime criterion is not age, but shape.

Monday, 3 August 2009

This 'n' that

Absolutely my last word on the conspiracy theory that I’ve been busy debunking over the last few days. I asked Hay, who if you don’t know is a PhD biochemist (and my partner), to look at the evidence. The nub of the hullabaloo is the fact that mercury is used in flu vaccine and the minute the great unwashed see the word mercury they automatically associate it with the incredible stuff you get in thermometers, which is rather toxic due to it being unpaired and hence tending to remain in the body for a long time. What is used in vaccines is thiomersal, or sodium ethylmercurithiosalicylate to be precise, which is a mercury compound which has a sodium bond, rendering it harmless due to it being capable of being metabolised and passed through the body quickly – well before any toxic effects can take hold. It has been used for most of the 20th century in numerous preparations as an fungicide and antiseptic.

Basically Joe Public, and some sections of the press, have got hold of the wrong end of the stick due to knowing less about chemistry and the body than they do about quantum dynamics or starship navigation. The stuff has actually been found to be safer than they originally thought it was in the ‘70s, when its use first came under intense scrutiny.

The Archbishop of Westminster, the leader of England’s left footers, has pronounced an anathema on Facebook. He thinks it encourages the Devil’s spawn to seek superficial friends, whereas real friends involve hard work. Not in my book they don’t – certainly not as much as relatives. Rellies really ARE hard work as you can’t choose the buggers. If any friend of mine starts to suck the life out of me in a selfish manner then he or she wouldn’t be seeing me for quite a long time. I think the Archbish just doesn’t get the point of Facebook. There again, I sometimes wonder what its point is too – more so Twitter, which from what I can see is no more than a self-indulgent megaphone (a bit like a blog, but less informative).

The Archbish of Left Foot does come out with some unmitigated rubbish – unlike the Archbish of Cadbury, Rowan Atkinson, who I have to admit does tend to think carefully before opening his mouth and pissing off the entire Anglican Communion with his sensible pronouncements, in the process engendering several doctrinal schisms that will undoubtedly reverberate down the ages and make him famous as the architect of the destruction of Anglicanism. However, if the church will insist build its empire in the manner of an inverted pyramid on a foundation of sand, it’s hardly surprising schisms develop.

Talking of matters theological, the high priest of a left footer church in Truro is considering having a local photographer charged with blasphemy for having taken a few erotic snaps in his church and has even sent a solicitors’ letter to that effect. While taking erotic photos in a church is a tad off, I think the arch hierophant will have a job bringing the action to court as blasphemy was excised from the English statute books in May 2008.

Given the manner in which the UK was forecast good weather in July, but instead received enough rain to make us check our stocks of gopher wood, are weather forecasts turning into the new horoscopes?

Why are event organisers mesmerised by attendance numbers? They seem to think large numbers of attendees is in itself an attractor, which it certainly ain’t if you’re over a certain age and a cantankerous old bastard like me. The Bristol Maritime Festival was held this weekend and the organisers said that a record 230,000 attended. We didn’t go this year, primarily because of the hideous crowds we experienced last year. People are not attracted by the numbers, but the quality of the things they can go to see. Saying this year’s event attracted a record number (and the implication it’s growing exponentially) is guaranteed to put Hay and I off ever going again. Very poor marketing if you ask me (which you aren’t).

Here’s something I wouldn’t mind doing when I get my bus-pass in a few years time. Richard Elloway used his bus-pass to get from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back at no cost. How’s that for a holiday with free transport?

Sunday, 2 August 2009

I'm conspiring toward a theory

The conspiracy theory circular I was sent on Friday included readers’ comments from a website – you know, the usual compilation of semi-literate, misinformed drivel interspersed with the odd gem from some wag with a good sense of humour and perspective. I was absolutely astounded at some of the comments; it’s incredible that after millions of years of evolution some people still retain a level of intelligence lower than that of an amoeba. I swear some of them don’t have opposable thumbs (there’s a scary thought – a virus with opposable thumbs – I think I’ll start a conspiracy theory using that meme).

Here’s a sample (they are direct copy & paste, so don’t blame me for the spelling or grammar):

no way will I be getting this vaccine- and niether will any of my family-- this is a sick con. if you want to protect yourself research mms, colloidal silver, iodine, vit c - there are many cheap ways to keep healthy - but because they are cheap they are not profitable to big corporations

MMS – or Miracle Mineral Supplement - is a quack remedy with no scientific basis whatsoever and as efficacious as Peckham Spring water - it’s basically a disinfectant or bleach but is touted by unscrupulous charlatans as a cure for AIDS, hepatitis, cancer and TB. You may just as well tout Domestos as a cancer cure. If anything is a sick con, then MMS certainly is and anyone who believes in its efficacy is a fool. I defy anyone to produce reputable clinical trial evidence of it working. Colloidal silver will turn you a dramatic shade of grey and make you resemble a black & white photo. Iodine, however, is essential to the body and plays a part in the immune system, but as long as you eat the odd bit of fish you get enough (table salt in the west is loaded with the stuff). Excess vitamin C is excreted out of the body as it can’t be stored; you get enough in a healthy, balanced diet and so taking vitamin C supplements is a complete waste of time.

I too was amazed to find just how many of my fellow Brits are aware and awake to what is going on with regards this vaccine. I thought surely as a nation we are too clever to fall for this, and all of you are showing that that is exactly the case. Now it's times like this I am proud to be British!

I’m not, if you’re a representative sample of the species.

Brits Don't let this happen! Your brothers and sisters across the pond Do Not want this here in America. If you let this happen you will set an international precedence that can be rhetorically used to justify the act in the States.

WTF? It doesn’t even make sense!

I've had swine flu. It was nothing but a sniffle. Would rather have that than a vaccine made by psychopathic eugenicists.

Let’s get the pitchforks and rush torches out and burn the scientists shall we?

The World Health Organisation CREATED the swine flu virus - provable! They are planning mass genocide of most of the population of the world. ALL VACCINES ARE POISON DO NOT TAKE ANY!!!! I tried to warn of vaccine danger A BBC blog but the BBC CENSORD MY COMMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Perfect opportunity to MICRO CHIP everyone if you ask me. Its happening in the USA.

A statement is not proof. Just a tad paranoid, would you not say – possibly even barking. Not surprised her comment was censored. A study has shown that women generally use more exclamation marks than men and her excessive use of said punctuation is surpassed only by Adolph Hitler when he was on steroids.

Research the history of polio vacc, small pox, and Thalidamide. The evidence is that vaccinations do not prevent disease.

Plain wrong and total misinformation. Thalidomide was not a vaccine; smallpox has been eradicated and polio vaccine has reduced incidences of polio by 98% since vaccination programmes started. Clearly a diode short of a full circuit.

The conspiracy theories around vaccination are loopy. Gov.t is too inept to manage such a scam.

At last - a sensible comment with which I totally agree.

Wow! I'm overwhelmed and reasurred by the responses to this article.. I guess we're not all as daft as they think hey? They'll be no jab for me or mine either. It's all about depopulation and folk are beginning to realise this.

Here’s what I think; all the governments of the world, along with a cabal of international bankers – not forgetting the Zionists of course, can’t leave them out - have decided there are too many thick people in the world and that they are reproducing at an exponential rate. They have therefore purposely manufactured a conspiracy theory that scientists are engaged in a programme of depopulation through enforced vaccination with contaminated vaccine. The purpose of this is to scare thick people into not taking any vaccine at all with the result that they will die from a rather virulent acne pandemic and the general IQ of the population will thus increase as a consequence. Any who do not die due to a natural immunity will be immediately identified by being grey from swigging colloidal silver. The grey people will be dealt with separately in monochrome lunatic asylums or used as slaves.

The vast majority of the British public are naive to all of this,but what is clear to see is that we are waking up at an exponential rate. I've done my research and know this for a fact, the majority vacinnes do not work.

Research? Where? The tabloid press? The MacDonald’s University? Mad Magazine?

I am reminded of a trio of Bertrand Russell quotes:

  • Never believe a stupid man's report of what a clever man says, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.
  • Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
  • The public will believe anything, so long as it is not founded on truth.

There's another conspiracy theory doing the rounds - one that says God can cure illness and doctor's can't. The sad thing is that believeing in this conspiracy theory can lead to death, and did in the case of an 11 year-old girl in the USA whose father prayed for her rather than letting doctors treat her treatable diabetes. Needless to say, she died and he's now facing prison.

Set the caravan fire detector off yesterday while singeing my ear hair with the piezoelectric cooker lighter.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Virus schmirus

Regarding yesterday’s conspiracy theory: I was reading some stuff on the MMR scare we had here in the UK a short while ago. Should we enforce immunization on children at school?

In one respect I say a qualified no, because so long as my kids are immunized they are afforded a relatively high degree of protection, regardless of whether other kids are immunized or not. I say ‘qualified’ and ‘relatively’ as there is no guarantee of protection from a vaccine.

However, as a member of the human race I say an emphatic yes, as children should be protected from irresponsible parents who care more for their right to choose than their kids. If you saw a kid being beaten by a parent, surely you’d wade in to stop it happening. Also, as stated above, even immunization of my kids is no guarantee of immunity.

Perhaps what is needed is more education about immunization and then parents lacking in knowledge wouldn’t feel so threatened, as that’s where the problem lies – ill-educated parents who place more faith in sensationalised, unfounded, scare-mongering newspaper reports and dangerous quack remedies than tried and tested science.

When I was a kid I received a barrage of vaccines (polio, smallpox and BCG come immediately to mind), and not once did anyone ever question whether we should receive them. They were, in effect, enforced. The result is that polio and tuberculosis are no longer the threats they were and smallpox has been eradicated. When I was at sea I was regularly immunized against two killers, cholera and yellow fever.

Edward Jenner, the man who developed the smallpox vaccine, lived in Chipping Sodbury, not a mile from where I write.

Talking of viruses, mobile handsets, including iPhones and those using Windows Mobile or Google's Android operating system, are vulnerable to text-based attacks, say experts. Malicious code can gain access across a range of applications including a phone's address book or camera.

So now I have to worry about a computer virus taking pictures of the inside of my pocket and SMSing them to all my friends, business acquaintances and family. Bugger! Better make sure I have no holes in my pockets.