Monday, 30 August 2010


Guns ‘n’ Roses were late for both the Reading and Leeds Music Festivals. Lead singer, Hacksaw Rose, said: "At the very least the fans deserve an apology from those responsible for the nonsense." That’ll be Guns ‘n’ Roses then.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

New Drug Blocks Lung Cancer

A headline from today's Sunday Times:

"New Drug Blocks Lung Cancer"

This is followed by 3 paragraphs which use the words 'could', 'appears', 'if proven', and 'in theory'.

It would appear that in the world of newspaper headlines there is room only for certainty, regardless of the facts.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The Building Site

Work recommences:

We now have a proper base, the walls are about to fly up and yesterday we signed cheques to the value of £25k.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Falling Through an Endless Summer Sky - Update

Richard over at Falling Through an Endless Summer Sky is back home following his crisis. He's feeling much better now and the severe pain has abated.

Further updates as and when.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Pulling The Pin

Some Catholic priest has been unmasked as an IRA bomber. I suggest that on the general scale of Catholic atrocities, blowing up nine people is pretty small fry and not something the Pope would be unduly concerned about. In any case, I would imagine the priest concerned confessed his sins to a mate, was forgiven by God and is sitting at Jesus’ right hand this very minute with a smug smile on his face.

However, having said that, I don’t suppose you can blame the entire Catholic Church for the actions of one man, or the entire Catholic Church.

Hay was trying to describe her aunty Mabel who died in the 80s. She struggled for words and eventually said: “Imagine the kind of woman who wears hatpins.” That simple phrase conjured up an immediate mental image worthy of half a page of highly descriptive paragraphs.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Falling Through an Endless Summer Sky

My good friend Richard over at Falling Through an Endless Summer Sky was taken into hospital a few weeks ago and had a stent fitted to his liver to overcome a blockage.

He came home again but has hardly eaten a thing since and is wasting away. Last night he was in such severe pain that his partner, Gavin, had to call out the ambulance to have him transferred back to hospital.

It would seem that Richard is now in the final stages of his battle against liver cancer and Gavin is distraught.

Monday, 23 August 2010

A Moral Dilemma

I’ve been wrestling with a moral dilemma.

As many of my regular readers know, I am of the opinion that discrimination on the basis of something over which one has no control, such as gender, ethnicity, sexuality, etc., is morally repugnant. To me it’s plain logic; to many it is not, as it conflicts with deeply held beliefs – and as we all know from personal experience, beliefs invariably transcend logic and even hard evidence. This cognitive dissonance is the tragedy of the human condition.

Being what is generally termed a 'non-believer', I struggle with the proposition that one’s choice of religion is something over which one has no control, as one is able to subject religion to critical analysis and reach an educated opinion as to both its moral veracity and metaphysical truth. Indeed many decide to leave religion or even choose one other than the one in which they were brought up. You cannot, however, decide to suddenly become Asian, or homosexual.

Yet millions of people belong to a particular religion through no fault of their own, simply resulting from an accident of birth – which cannot be selected at will. Therefore there is an element of inevitability surrounding belief systems (be they religious or otherwise) which become the foundation of one’s self-view.

The dilemma I’m wrestling with is the one of whether religious people should be subject to anti-discrimination legislation, particularly the Catholic adoption agencies with respect to the adoption of children by gay couples.

Whereas, till now, I have firmly believed all – regardless of their religious beliefs – should be subject to the law of the land, I’m slowly beginning to think they should be free to decide according to their own conscience. I would add a rider to this, that being that they should be free to decide according to their conscience, providing they have no monopoly on adoption – or whatever is under consideration in an anti-discriminatory sense.

If I were to start an adoption agency that refused to place children with say red-headed people, then I should be allowed to do this, as there would still be routes to adoption for red-headed people. I must reiterate that I would never, ever, place defenceless children with red-headed adoptive parents. Please don’t think I would even consider harming children in this manner, it’s merely a ‘for instance’.

All joking aside, the thought at the forefront of the mind of anyone engaged in placing children with adoptive parents should be the best interests of the child – and Catholics sincerely believe it is in the best interests of the child to not be placed with a gay couple. However much I may disagree with their belief, it is nonetheless sincerely held and not susceptible to logical persuasion.

There is also the argument that placing a child with a gay couple could put the child in acute danger of bullying and ridicule at school, as unfortunately there is still a high proportion of the populace which is homophobic. Until such time as homophobes become an anachronistic minority, there is no denying that the risk of ridicule is very real, and could therefore harm the psychological wellbeing of a child place with adoptive parents who are gay, regardless of the love they would receive from such parents.

However, this Utopian state of affairs when homophobia becomes an anachronism is unlikely to occur if we pander to discriminatory religious belief – that being the crux of the dilemma, along with whether the rights of gay couples (however justifiable they may be) supersede the needs of a child?

Perhaps the agenda should be to first eliminate homophobia and only then introduce the adoption of children by gay couples.

I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Growing Old Gracefully

Had a ‘memory episode’ last week. Hay’s getting a bit worried about my remaining brain cell’s unfailing inability to retain any semblance of memory. Earlier in the week I’d booked a restaurant in Nailsworth for either Friday or Saturday evening, but couldn’t remember exactly which day – or even the time. Hay remonstrated with me and asked me to call the restaurant to check. To compound the error I suddenly realised I’d also forgotten which restaurant it was; only an inspection of my phone log saved the day.

I called and was informed I’d booked for Friday. As this was now conflicting with something else I asked to change it to the Saturday. Half an hour later yet another last-minute social diary amendment demanded we revert back to Friday. I duly called the restaurant back to discover the original booking had been sold on, meaning I’d have to cancel.

I then phoned our favourite place in Tetbury, the Blue Zucchini, and booked a table for 2 on Friday evening. On Friday afternoon Hay asked what time I’d made the booking for, but once more my brain cell suffered a catastrophic failure and I had to call them again to confirm the time.

Talking of growing older; a young chap in his 20s stood aside for me at a shop entrance yesterday when he had clear right of passage. I was mightily pissed off by this unsolicited and gratuitous act of deference to the old.

I was watching an advert last night for Calgon – a popular washing machine descaler. The strap line was: “Ordinary descalers only give 50% protection, and 50% protection is like no protection.” The inference is obviously that Calgon gives 100% protection, which by the logic used within the advert is the equivalent of only 50% protection, and as the advert stated, 50% protection is like no protection – so what’s the point?

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Boy Shed Continued

The Boy Shed is progressing and is now fully insulated. It just remains to cover the insulation with plywood, install the electrics and seal the edges of the escape hatch into the caravan with expanding foam.

Eric Schmidt, the boss of Google, has warned that people may one day have to change their names in order to escape their previous online activity. Mr Williams, formerly known as Mr Schmidt, told the Wall Street Journal he feared people did not understand the consequences of having so much personal information about them online. Mr Jones, formerly known as Mr Williams, also said: "I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time... I mean we really have to think about these things as a society."

US senators are calling for the so-called Lockerbie Bomber to be returned to jail in Scotland. What worries me is that not a single American senator seems to be the least concerned whether, given reservations expressed by eminent lawyers about key trial evidence and CIA tampering, al-Megrahi is actually guilty or not.

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Ubiquitous Dr. Alice Roberts

It’s always the same; you are waiting ages for a Dr. Alice Roberts and then twenty come along together. Is there a single programme she isn’t on? She seems totally ubiquitous. I suppose that if you want a media career, it must help enormously to have a partner who is a television producer.

Is the collective noun for a group of professors an IKEA? Don’t get it? A bunch of chairs!

Talking of university, it would appear that with today’s super-intelligent students obtaining the highest grades ever (yet strangely still unable to spell or perform simple mental arithmetic) and university places being oversubscribed, many of the brightest pupils are sensibly deciding to go straight into work. That will result in the paradox that only the mediocre will end up with university degrees.

Methinks it’s a true sign of intelligence, if not animal cunning, to decide not to go to university, getting your feet on the first rung of the employment ladder and gaining a two to four year advantage over your peers (it would probably do your liver the world of good too). Experience and ability is valued much more highly by employers than theoretical knowledge.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Tank Engine Sonnet

Ringo Starr’s childhood house in a run-down part of Liverpool is boarded up and about to be demolished.

A handful of people are lobbying to have it listed and one wag even went as far as to say that it would be like knocking Shakespeare’s house down.

I’m sorry? It’s more akin to knocking down Andrew Ridgeley’s old house, or one once lived in by the other bloke from Bros.

Sunday, 15 August 2010


An investigation by Sunday Times journalists has discovered that Jock Sprang, a Glaswegian who once had his nose cauterised in an NHS hospital and is therefore an expert all matters medical, was never consulted about the release of Abdel-baset Ali-al-Megrahi.

This has fueled the speculation that the invation of Iraq and the withdrawal of speed cameras in Oxfordshire were put-up jobs.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

New Model Army

Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, has announced plans for a slimmed down version of the Ministry of Defence – a bit like Tesco’s Value range.

It is thought that the Royal Navy will be recruited from the ranks of redundant Somali pirates, the Royal Air Force will be sponsored by Stelios Haji-ioannou and be called EasyRAF and the British Army (why is it not royal?) will be replaced by the Royal Tesco Security Guards and some assorted head bangers from Millwall Football Club.

Weapons will be provided by Maplin’s and comprise bits you can’t find a requirement for just now, but will come in handy sometime in the future when you’re building a nuclear ray gun.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Body Horticulture

A Massachusetts man has been found to have a pea plant growing in his lung. That’s nothing; when a child, my mother used to swear I grew potatoes in my ears and had a worm factory up my bum that was working double shifts and overtime.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Semantics of House Price Innocence

Brain scan identifies adult autism – not having one of them then. Not having one of them then. Not having one of them then. Not having one of them then. Not having one of them then. Not having one of them then. Not having one of them then. Oh bugger – need to lock myself away in a cupboard and stack something.

Archaeologists have unearthed Britain’s oldest house. Apparently it dates from 8,500BC, which means that at the standard house price inflation it must be worth the UK’s annual GDP – mind you, it will be falling in price now, which will be a blow for the owners.

That Sion Jenkins, who after a retrial was pronounced not guilty of murdering his step daughter, has been turned down for compensation. As I understand it, the presumption in English law is that one is innocent until proven guilty. Jenkins – albeit after a retrial – was found to be not guilty, which in my universe means the presumption of innocence stands, regardless of any suspicions.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: "The Court of Appeal has made clear that, in the court's view, the right test to adopt in deciding whether someone is entitled to compensation is whether they have been shown to be clearly innocent." Am I missing something?

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Athletic House Price Cuts Caught Speeding

My son is a bit of an athletics fan and forced me to watch Tyson Gay beating Usain Bolt on YouTube in the 100m at some athletics meeting. I must admit that this must be the first time I’ve seen the words ‘Tyson’ and ‘Gay’ juxtaposed in this manner.

House prices are meant to be falling, and the nation cries out in dismay. Why, for God’s sake?

If petrol comes down in price we rejoice. If car prices tumble we dance a jig in glee. If house prices take a nose-dive we drop into the abyss of despair, despite the house we aspire to becoming more affordable and the gap between the price of the house we already have and the aspirational house decreasing.

OK, I know the reason – most people are mortgaged to the hilt (in many cases way beyond their means) and a perceived loss has a greater psychological effect than a perceived, yet illusory gain.

Road safety campaigners are complaining after speeds have increased following the mass switch-off of Gatzo cameras in Oxfordshire. Tommy-rot! Speeds haven’t increased at all – people are merely going at the same speed they usually did both before and after Gatzos before the switch-off. Gatzos have an effective range of about 30 yards and no more.

The Ministry of Justice has to cut its budget by £2bn against an existing £9bn budget. A leaked memo says that: “There will be less of us.” Commentators say that those words will send a shudder through thousands; well, it certainly does to me - it should be ‘fewer of us’. Shocking grammar, unless of course the entire department is going on a diet!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Lotus 7 Caravan

Did a quick trip up to Holyhead yesterday to see a customer - 500 bloody miles and got caught in bastard holiday traffic on the way back.

However, I spotted this, which made it all worthwhile.

Click on the image to get the full effect. Priceless!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Homing Breasts

Beastly sorry for the hiatus in posting; been off ill for a few days, followed by a hectic schedule at work.

Some Brazilian supermodel has proposed that all mothers should be forced to breast feed their babies by law for the first six months of their lives. I would propose that this law should go much further and that all supermodels must be forced by law to offer their breasts to all men over the age of 20.

Ruth Brooks, a 69-year-old amateur scientist, has apparently discovered that her garden snails have a homing instinct. She discovered this by painting snails’ shells in different identifying colours, taking them further and further from her garden and noting if they returned. I wonder if someone could conduct the experiment with children to determine the optimum non-return distance. The problem, I suspect, is that it’s age related in kids and once they get above 18 the distance becomes infinite and you can never shake them off.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

It Ain't Half Hot for Lust for Life

My comment yesterday about my ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ shorts got me thinking. Melvyn Hayes, who was one the stars of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, bears a striking resemblance to James Newell Osterberg, Jr., otherwise known as Iggy Pop.

Iggy Pop (left) and Melvyn Hayes (right).

Monday, 2 August 2010

Firefox and the BBC

Well, we’re back from our little holiday in Salcombe, where the most complicated decision I had to make was whether to wear my 'It Ain’t Half Hot Mums' or my 'Lord Baden Powells', being the names Hay has given to my two pairs of shorts.

I have never seen so many 4x4s congregated in one small place as in Salcombe.

I was interested to read a BBC story on how many website designers have neglected to design their sites to support Firefox, with weird formatting results. I was then surprised to find that the BBC itself does not fully support Firefox, as evidenced by the image below (note the juxtaposition of the headline and the associated photo - or if you're a Firefox user, just look at the news website).

As a Firefox user, I've been wondering for weeks when the BBC was going to correct this blatant error.