Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Postcards From the Edge

I must say I like Brian Sewell – he’s a first class iconoclast, incredibly articulate and very, very funny – without actually intending to be. He’s a master of the whithering put-down.

He has described Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery’s £10.3m collection (amongst others) as a ‘lucky dip’ which should be sold off to protect public services. He couldn’t say more in case he put the lives of council workers in Iraq and Afghanistan at risk or embarrassed Prince Andrew with injudicious remarks, although it is expected that Wikileaks will provide a full and unexpurgated version of Sewell’s interview with Hello Magazine in its next leak.

The Victoria Gallery’s website currently shows a picture by John Calcott Horsley, RA, an eminently forgettable artist who went down in history as the creator of the first Christmas card. It caused uproar when first produced as it showed a small child being force-fed wine - and had Wikileaks known it could have risked the lives of our boys in the Crimea or Sudan.

It’s not the kid engaged in binge drinking that worries me, but the one in the cartouche on the left performing a hideously unspeakable act on an old bloke; kind of sums up a ghastly Dickensian Utopia to which the Conservatives have an inexplicable yearning to return us.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Ready Made Society

Continuing on yesterday’s culinary theme; it would transpire that Jamie Oliver has sold over £100m worth of his ‘30 minute meal’ recipe books. These meals comprise a starter, a main course and a dessert.

I can confidently predict that something like 99% of these books will languish on a designer kitchen shelf and never be opened, as is the destiny of so many of these celebrity chef offerings that grace our bookshops. The vast majority end up in charity shops.

How many of us, outside of a restaurant, actually have a 3 course meal these days? I suggest the overwhelming majority have just one course and a pudding on special occasions.

As the for 30 minute title – it’s not exactly rocket science to produce a meal in 20 minutes from scratch using fresh ingredients. The fact that so many are buying this book (and not using it – probably because it’s easier to buy instant meals made of recycled animal feed) is a sad indictment on our national culinary skills.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Any Old Iron

Are you the kind of person who buys a new set of kitchen pans when the handle breaks off one of your current set?

My mother had the most eclectic set of kitchen pans imaginable. She swore that her superb chips were solely attributable to her battered old aluminium chip pan (which was probably also partly responsible for her Alzheimer’s). Her pressure cooker produced some of the most mouth-watering stews I’ve ever tasted. The saucepan was inherited from her own mother. Each pan had its own special purpose and attributes and she couldn’t give a tinker’s damn whether any of them matched or not.

Many housewives seem obsessed with matching everything in the kitchen to everything else; a veritable triumph of style over substance.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble

A friend pointed out the irony of Bernard Matthews, the UK's turkey king, dying on Thanksgiving.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Happy, Happy, Happy

My hit counter has been going through the roof of late; however, the pages being landed on contain the words ‘Worzel Gummidge’ and ‘Gollum’. It seems strange that a myriad Googlers are suddenly overcome by a desire to search on these criteria – has Worzel kicked the bucket, has Gollum joined the ConDem coalition?

David Cameron has ordered the compilation of what he calls a national happiness index. Realising that his cost cutting is about to give us the GDP of a banana republic, he wants a different measure of prosperity – one that no-one can independently verify.

I would imagine he’ll start it off the poll in an opium den in Hackney, where most people are fantastically happy for a period of time.

Next he could use a mental health ward in Hull, where everyone swings between being ecstatically happy or just about ready to disembowel themselves with a biro. The poll will have to be carefully timed to ensure the test is carried out in the patients’ manic phases.

Finally he could poll a collection of bankers. No doubts they are all happy as the proverbial Larry – the bastards!

He’d better steer clear of any Liverpool Football Club supporters though.

Long term happiness depends on only one thing – relationships – and by that I don’t mean having 6,000 Facebook friends. People make you happy, not things or money; at least that is what I always told people that I had to make redundant in the past.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Back to the 60s

I have a Facebook account and every so often Facebook appears to take control of my cursor keys, shuffle them about and randomly reassign them just while I’m on Facebook. Intensely annoying.

Nick Clegg, renowned power-crazed Judas, general lick-spittle to the Conservatives and leader of the Lib Dems, has begged students to reconsider his plans to plunge them into a life-long and unsustainable spiral of debt from the minute they darken the doors of a university in search of intellectual betterment and jobs as a highly qualified council road sweepers (for which they will in future require a BSc in pedestrianised waste management).

Mr Clegg said his plans would "make higher education open to everyone". When he said ‘everyone’, what he actually meant was those earning more than £80k per annum and not literally the ‘anyone’ defined in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Vivian Stanshall, Professor of Bollocks at the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah University (playing the tuba), said: “Clegg is talking out of his arse and is blissfully oblivious to the fact that our present economic situation was brought about precisely because the masses were taking on debt they could ill afford. This prick is now proposing that young people assume even more debt between the short period of entering university and getting married – exactly at the time they would be trying to borrow like crazy and get a mortgage to set up home. Is this man insane?”

Tarquin Fintimlinbinwhinbimlim Bus Stop F'tang F'tang Ole Biscuit-Barrel, Professor of the Bleeding Obvious at The Shrubbery University, said: “It’s bleedin’ obvious, ain’t it? Divide the courses into those that are professionally necessary to prevent you being sued for malpractice, like law, medicine, engineering, etc., and those that are a complete waste of everyone’s time and used to be achieved through City & Guilds or apprenticeships. You then make the Mickey Mouse degrees subject to a hefty tuition fee of several hundred grand, which would scare off all but the daughters of rich parents who want to do PR because they’re too lazy or thick to do any real work. That should sort the workers from the shirkers (except for the PR ladies of course) and reduce the overall cost of education.”

He went on to say: “You need lawyers because everyone is suing everyone else for absolutely no reason and claiming either it’s not their fault or they know their rights. You need doctors because we’re all becoming lard arses with type 2 diabetes and hypertension. You need engineers to design more robust seating for our increasingly fat, purulent, swollen bodies. You need chemists to develop the drugs to combat obesity and enable us to keep stuffing our faces with shit. What you don’t need is hordes of PR ladies with degrees in the history of art, except possibly as brood mares for the aristocracy.”

I must say it’s good to see students getting agitated about something other than X-Factor. It’s almost like the 60s again!

The other day Hay received a text saying: “Our database shows you could be entitled to £4,000 compensation for your recent car accident – text back yes for us to contact you further.” All they forgot to add to the start of the message was: “Dear random mug whose mobile number we bought and who has not been in any car accident database that we know of because we don’t even know your bloody name…..” Needless to say, Hay has never been in a car accident, let alone a car accident database.

I’ve spoken many times of the beautiful Hayley, but most of you will not have seen her. Here’s a picture of her, she’s in the silver car – the vertical one. I think this was taken at the ladies' car park at her office.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Archbishop Cohen of Lancashire

Overheard in the caravan:

Chairman: “Is there anywhere within the Bristol / Bath area where I can get some decent, strong, crumbly Lancashire cheese? Can’t seem to find the stuff anywhere down here.”

Hay: “I’m not sure – I don’t think there’s much of a demand around here for foreign cheese. I think there may be an ethnic shop in Bristol where they sell lard, Chorley cakes, black pudding, flat caps and whippets, but you’ll need an interpreter.”

The General Synod has convened and one of the subjects under discussion will be female bishops. If these fundamentalists who abhor the idea of women in positions of power in the Church are serious, they should also logically insist that CoE priests can only be such if they have the surnames Cohen or Levi.

Does anyone know what you’re meant to do on a Day of National Mourning?

Here’s a teaser for you. Under what circumstances is the Saudi flag lowered to half mast?

Now for a Christmas tip. If you detest the cloying, heavy, sickly taste of traditional Christmas pudding, get yourself down to Lidl and buy their panatone or stollen Christmas pud instead. We had one of each between 7 of us last weekend and they’re deliciously light. Instead of breaking your teeth on a silver sixpence you can clamp your gnashers down on either a miniature metallic Roman fasces or a miniature metallic swastika.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Union

I wonder whether Ireland would consider political union with the UK in return for the offer of a financial bail-out? That might not go down too well however and cause a bit of a rumpus – what do you think?

Should it be bail-out or bale-out (I favour the former)? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

The Church's lead spokesman on media issues, the Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, has protested that Rupert Murdoch’s planned News Corp takeover of BSkyB "would dominate both the television and newspaper landscape" and has called for it to be blocked.

In a similar vein, I propose that the Church of England’s monopoly on kings and queens of England be challenged using the same principle.

There’s speculation over how long Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton will last. The Church is betting on 7 years. I think it might go to 10.

Ever since the announcement of William Wales’ engagement to Kate Middleton, there seems to be a huge amount of speculation over the issue of whether Camilla Parker-Bowles-Windsor will become Queen or not at some unspecified time in the future. For the life of me I can’t fathom why it’s causing so much fuss. Who gives a toss as to whether she will be Queen – it will have no effect on anyone whatsoever whether she is or she isn’t.

For that matter, David Cameron could become King when the old Queen dies and it still wouldn’t make one iota of difference to a single soul, living or dead – except perhaps Charles Windsor and his brood.

Spotted an advert in the Sunday newspaper for what are described as ‘shoes with a built in gym’. They’re called FitFlops.

I may be a bit cynical, but shoes that give you a workout while walking are usually called ‘difficult to walk in’, or as we experts call it, ‘ill fitting’ or ‘badly designed’. I guess they are a job lot of misshapes and some marketing person came up with the idea of calling them exercise shoes.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Pope Admits God May be Wrong

In an amazing volte-face, Pope Ratzo MCXXXXIV has said that God might just have dropped a bit of a bullock with his no condoms fiat.

Fresh from a summit meeting with an imaginary being atop Mount Sinai, Ratzo returned with some stone tablets stating that condoms might be justified on a case by case basis to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids. However, this was qualified by Ratzo saying their use would be limited to the bumpy female lady thing gripping a condom tightly between her knees when engaged in that dirty, shameful and disgusting thing men and women do.

Pope Benedict said the "sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalisation of sexuality" where sexuality was no longer an expression of love, "but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves". I guess he’s never heard of oxytocin – the love hormone. Nor can he ever have seen animals rutting; not much in the way of love going on there, just plain procreation aligned with a bit of good old-fashioned sexual enjoyment.

What on earth can he mean by ‘on a case by case basis’? Is he going to personally judge each case with applicants queuing up outside the Vatican?

I wonder if he’ll next try and slip women into the church on the pretext that they’re OK in special circumstances and on a case by case basis? Cleaning, sewing, cooking? Perhaps God has been wrong about a plethora of dogmatic issues.

In another story about religious superstition, the Bishop of Lincoln, The Right Reverend Dr John Saxbee, will bless Lincolnshire's gritters in the hope of cutting the number of winter crashes. He has blessed the county's fleet each year since 2003 and said that past ceremonies had been followed by a reduction in road deaths, which was "perhaps not a coincidence".

Well, the only way to test his hypothesis is for him not to wave his magic wand over the gritters for a couple of years and see if the number of accidents increases. Without such a test his statement has as much validity as me saying that tearing up my Sunday newspaper while uttering incantations to Zeus keeps the elephants out of South Gloucestershire.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Nostalgia Ain't What it Used to Be

Yesterday I was listening to an interview with the creator of a popular newspaper cartoon, who after 10 years decided to call it a day.

Asked if he would ever consider resurrecting the cartoon, he replied not. On further questioning he said: “The Beatles stopped, whereas the stones carried on. Which do you think left the greater legacy?”

This gave me food for thought. For me, Led Zeppelin defined an era precisely because they knew when to stop. Had they continued then no single period could be defined by their work.

Nostalgia – especially in modern music - depends on abrupt changes; certain things coming to the end of a cycle and new things replacing them.

Nostalgia is the reason that bands which have existed since the 60s get annoyed when their fans ignore their recent work and request only endless repeats of past glories. The ones who actually do trade solely on past glories are denigrated precisely because they have nothing new. Seems bands can’t win.

This track certainly defines an era for me. The band in question still trades, but not in the classic and nostalgic line up shown here (three of them are now dead).

On a totally random tangent, I think Yorkshire is far too large. The dividing line between Yorkshire and Lancashire should run in a vertical line from Leeds to Sheffield. I feel at least one of my readers is going to take me to task over this.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Financial Restaurant Reviews as Science

Yesterday I was reading a selection of reviews for a restaurant we’re considering visiting in the near future.

I’m constantly amazed at the number of people who express total shock on receiving their bill and then have the temerity to complain about the cost. Every restaurant I have ever visited possesses a menu listing the prices of the various dishes on offer. All it takes is some simple mental arithmetic to determine how much you are likely to pay for a complete meal – it’s not exactly macro economic theory on par with sorting out Ireland’s financial catastrophe. It doesn’t even span the complete breadth of arithmetic – it’s merely addition.

To order a number of dishes without looking at the prices and then complaining of high prices after the bill arrives is a tad disingenuous, if not downright ignorant. To write a review on this basis is blaming someone else for your ignorance.

A few days ago I mentioned I was re-reading David Deutsch’s ‘The Fabric of Reality’. While he is a scientist, he highlights the problems associated with the scientific method, namely the problem of induction. This problem arises from using what can only ever be a finite number of observations and then extrapolating them into a general conclusion to cover all eventualities.

The usual manner of highlighting the problem of induction is using the fact that before anyone had ever seen black swans (which are native to Australia), everyone thought all swans were white – which nowadays we know to be plain wrong.

Deutsche maintains that because the laws of physics appear to obey certain rules in our part of the universe - on the basis of extrapolation from a (necessarily) finite number of observations - it does not mean to say these laws are 100% certain and a fundamental truth everywhere.

I have a problem with this, as most of our technology is based on the assumption that the laws of physics are immutable. If they weren’t then we’d have a number of weird situations, such as Microsoft Windows laptops frequently and inexplicably crashing for no apparent reason or aeroplane engines mysteriously bursting into flames.

On second thoughts….

The problem of induction is most manifest in financial markets, where some practitioners assume economics to be a science. They assume that because the price for some instrument or commodity has been rising for a period of time (the finite set of observations), it will always do so (the scientific conclusion) – that is until a crash happens, as it inevitably does at some stage in a terminally complex system.

Talking of financial situations, the Irish have insisted they will not raise the country's low corporation tax rate in return for a European Union-led bail-out. The buggers must obviously be praying to some saint and hoping for a bloody miracle.

I see Lord Young has resigned for telling it as it is over our own financial situation. Can’t have politicians telling the truth – whatever next? And before anyone jumps down my throat, it’s a fact that mortgages have never been cheaper and if a mortgage is your largest outgoing then you’re on a winner. Yes, there are some people who have been made redundant, but they are a very small proportion of the overall population. How many people do you know who have been made redundant thus far? Ill bet the majority know of no-one.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Cash for Votes & School Czars

Two Fifa executive committee members have been banned from voting in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting ballot over claims they asked for money in exchange for World Cup votes. In that case, shouldn’t the general public stand in the dock accused of asking politicians for money (tax breaks) in return for votes?

The government here is stimulating competition between schools with the reward for the best performers being access to funds. Those not performing will have funds withdrawn and reallocated to those which are performing. The funding pot is, I would imagine, finite and fixed, therefore there will be winners and losers.

This seems idiotic to me. Schools in the state sector should not be competing against other state schools – they should be competing against independent schools – on a united front.

When I go into an M&S store in Blackpool, or indeed any high street chain, I am safe in the knowledge that I will get exactly the same products, quality and levels of service as at a flagship store in London. Why the hell can’t this happen in the nation’s state schools? Why does it have to be a postcode lottery as to whether the school to which I send my kids is fit for purpose or not?

Withdrawing funds from a badly performing school makes failure a self-fulfilling prophesy and does no service to the children or parents in their locale. What’s probably needed is an increase in funds, better management, better teaching talent and a cull of the incompetent. It would seem to me that the authorities can only sack a teacher if he or she is found to be sleeping with the pupils.

Perhaps the brand marketing men from the world of commerce should be put in charge of schools, rather than politicians, thus ensuring services are common throughout the system.

Yes, I do realise that the raw materials that schools have to work on differ according to locality, but as long as the skills, processes and facilities are equal throughout the system, parents can have nothing to complain about if little Johnny can’t bother his arse to learn anything or they themselves do little to encourage him.

The government approach will produce nothing less than a two-tier system – one for the reasonably affluent and pushy and another for the poor. I firmly believe that giving someone money to incentivise them does not generally work (certainly not in the long term – just look at footballers); however, taking money away from them sure as hell demotivates and demoralises them.

Here’s a novel idea – instead of putting Sir Philip Green in charge of cost savings, put him in charge of ensuring schools provide a common and homogeneous level of service throughout the country. As a high street emporium baron he’s well qualified to achieve the goal.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Royal Eating Places of Beauty

A place where food is prepared and sold to the public as cooked meals; restaurant, café, bistro, brasserie – all the foregoing are foreign words and I can’t for the life of me think of an indigenous British word. Come on – help me out!

Is it just me, or does Kate Middleton bear more than a passing resemblance to Koo Stark?

There’s a tribunal going on in the UK over a BBC presenter who claims she was dropped from a programme because she wasn’t young and pretty enough. There’s a dilemma here – should clothes designers be allowed to use only beautiful models? Should teachers, perhaps, be selected solely on the basis of their youth and thus empathy with their charges?

Conversely, should make-up manufacturers employ only ugly munters to demonstrate their products, thereby enabling the consumer to see the added value the product can provide in extreme cases?

When all is said and done, one’s age and beauty are attributes one can do little to nothing about and thus, logically, should not be used as a means of discrimination. However, could you imagine car manufacturers draping Anne Widdecombe over the bonnet of their latest creation? You have to be realistic. If something is aimed at a youth market, then it makes sense to use young people to advertise whatever the product may be; similarly you’re not going to take well to a young dolly bird being used to market a zimmer frame or incontinence pad.

As with everything, especially see-saws, there has to be a balance.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Toy Town Minds

Some idiotic tool in a toy company has decided to eliminate pigs from a toy farm set so as to not offend Muslims and Jews; however, I somehow suspect this to be a bit of a wind-up story.

Perhaps they should eliminate edible farm animals completely so as to not offend vegans.

Milk herds might offend the lactose intolerant.

Cereal crops would be for the boot too, in case those with a gluten allergy were offended.

A PC toy farm is not much of a toy farm at all really.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Goodbye Old Friend

My good friend Richard over at Falling Through An Endless Summer Sky (who had been suffering from cancer for a couple of years) slipped into a coma a couple of days ago and died at 3:30 this morning.

I spoke with him on the phone only last week and he seemed chipper enough, if somewhat tired; however, the final stages of cancer result in multiple organ failure, which produces a rapid decline, ensuing coma and fairly swift death.

Richard Collinson

Richard was one of a dwindling band of brothers who served in the HMS Conway, one of a triumvirate of schools with a deep nautical flavour – the others being HMS Worcester and HMS Pangbourne. Of the three only Pangbourne still exists (as Pangbourne College), but without the naval tradition.

Richard’s acerbic wit will be missed by all who knew him.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Missed Opportunities

Have you ever stood in a queue for something where there’s one of those lottery ticket dispensing thingies next to the queue? Have you ever though: “Mmm – I may just have a punt for a quid”? Have you then been totally confused by the sheer number of different types of lottery on offer and thought: “Oh sod it!”?

It’s happened to me on a number of occasions and I’m sure many others have had a similar experience. Why the hell can’t they just have a single lottery prize once a week? I’m sure the organisers are missing out on a large chunk of people, like me, who would indeed have an occasional punt, but simply can’t be arsed to spend half an hour reading all the differing rules for the umpteen options on offer.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Barry & Colin Outdoor Clothing Range

How the hell did early man end up living in Britain – or northern Europe for that matter? It’s freezing cold half the year and blowing a gale or raining for the rest. Whatever possessed humans to move out of Africa in the first place? It couldn’t have been a land grab – there were only a few thousand of us in the first place and Africa is a pretty large area. Some idiot ancestor must have made a wrong turning when chasing a herd of wildebeest.

You know all these cold weather clothing items and barrier creams that are marketed on the basis that fishermen use them? Well, Hay and I are thinking of launching a new version based on builders - our builders, Colin and Barry, are out in all weathers every day whereas fishermen only fish for about 5 days of the year before they run out of quotas, so what the hell do they know about survival in all weathers?

We could market a line of Colin & Barry’s thermal underwear, or Colin & Barry’s hand cream – as used by builders. Colin & Barry’s all weather shorts too – with added axle grease to prevent those embarrassing dribbles. Yesterday Colin was in camouflage – couldn’t see the bugger.

Spotted what I thought was an image of Bernie Ecclestone in a Santa outfit on the interweb. Turned out to be Andy Warhol. Do you think they are one and the same?

Bernie Ecclestone (left) : Andy Warhol (right)

Talking of Bernie Warhol, a Roy Lichtenstein ‘work’ sold this week for $42.6m. That’s rather a lot for what is essentially nothing more than a cartoon.

As I have said many times previously, I hope it has been bought by a private investor and not my bank or one of my pension companies. The chances are low though, as modern art these days is the preserve of financial institutions which are easily fooled into paying vast sums for intrinsically worthless shit sold by unscrupulous galleries having a vested interest in bigging up their personal protégés. It’s the gallery owners and speculators who decide modern art prices, not talent. Most modern art is fuelled by avarice; true art stands the test of time – but that’s a subjective analysis.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Gunboat Diplomacy & Universal Entitlement

Cameroon is hailing his China trade trip as a resounding success. I would suggest he focuses on selling Afghan opium to the Chinese in return for tea and if the Chinese don’t like it, send an aircraft carrier up the Yangtze or threaten to increase the university fees of Chinese students on courses in the UK.

I was watching a local news item about some hatchet-faced harridan who is fighting to get her grandmother into a private nursing home for which the fees are slightly above the level the social services have set as the maximum they will pay. She rounded off her tirade by saying it was a matter of giving her choice, as if her choice was a fundamental human right enshrined in some United Nations convention.

No it’s not – it’s a matter of the ability to pay! If you can afford to pay the extra, you get additional choices; if you can’t pay, you make do with what’s on offer as a minimum backstop or do the job yourself. The choice she has is whether she is prepared to pay for the upkeep of her familial elders or not. I fear many want the rest of us tax payers to foot the bill for their parents and grandparents. If your parents had the misfortune to look after you for 16 years plus, the least you can do is to look after them when they have the need.

The UK is, sadly, becoming a place where a sense of duty is fast being replaced by a rather nasty and self-serving sense of universal entitlement. How many times have you heard the shrill mantra: “I know my rights,” when it’s manifestly obvious that the person doing the shouting doesn’t have the faintest inkling of his or her rights (from a legal perspective) and is totally consumed by self-righteous indignation aided by an overdeveloped sense of their own importance in the grand scale of the universe?

I was listening to a debate on the wearing of fur by women. One wag suggested that fur is merely leather (which virtually everyone wears in some shape or form) with the fluffy bits left on. You can’t fault the logic, providing you don’t stray into Ethics – which is just north of Kent.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Hitler Hears Liverpool - Blackpool Result

A friend sent me this - it's hilarious. The language is a bit ripe, so be warned.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Chairman's Conjecture

I’m reading David Deutsche’s wonderful book ‘The Fabric of Reality’ - for the umpteenth time (yes, I’m autistic). Reading about parallel universes always sends me off into Wiki-land to research some obscure aspect of quantum physics and my latest foray led me to Crabtree’s Bludgeon – a foil to Occam’s much overused (and much misunderstood) razor.

Crabtree’s Bludgeon states that: "No set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated." I would posit that religion is eminently familiar with Crabtree’s Bludgeon, in fact using it to excess - which is a tad ironic when you consider William of Occam was a Franciscan friar.

Occasionally Hay will accuse me of being particularly verbose in written communications; I respond with The Chairman’s Conjecture, a variant of Crabtree’s Bludgeon which states: “Why use one word when ten will do adequately?”

It’s official – George W Bush has categorically stated that warterboarding saves British lives. Given the number of traffic deaths each year in the UK, I hear that the police will now set up motorway waterboarding booths and select random drivers to be waterboarded. It has been estimated that this will save hundreds of lives every year on UK roads.

The NHS may also start trials of waterboarding in hospitals - again to prevent unnecessary deaths.

Monday, 8 November 2010


It would appear Burma has redefined the word 'election'.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Abu Hamza's Allotment

Overheard in the caravan:

Chairman: “Shall I make some baked apples?”

Hay: “I like crème fraiche with my baked apples.”

Chairman: “We don’t have any - I’ll make some crème Anglaise.”

Hay: “Do you know how to make crème Anglaise?”

Chairman: “Well, we have some eggs, that should be a good start.”

Hay: “Great – baked apples with scrambled eggs.”

Despite it pouring with rain here last night, it still sounded like the Somme with all the fireworks going off for Guy Fawkes Night.

Abu Hamza, the jailed Muslim fanatic, has been allowed to retain his British passport due to the fact that his Egyptian citizenship was allegedly revoked. Without a British passport he would be rendered stateless, which apparently is anathema in human rights legislation.

It would seem that the solution would be to given him an alternative citizenship and then revoke his British passport. I would suggest he is made a citizen of Rockall – and just Rockall, but without the fishing or oil rights – and then deport him.

Hamza once said that the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster was a sign from God of his displeasure with the Americans. Seems he interprets anything bad that happens in the west as a sign from God. I wonder then how he interprets the United States’ winning the war against Iraq and Afghanistan? Surely, if Hamza’s logic is to be believed, it can only be a sign that God is displeased with the Iraqis and Afghans for their wicked ways?

I’ve heard it said that Abu Hamza has a nasty left hook, as well as a nasty right hook. Mind you, it’s better than a poke in the eye.

Hay and her sister think Abu Hamza’s Allotment is a good, if somewhat surreal name for a rock group.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Overheard All Over the Place

Overheard in the car:

Radio Announcer: “Apparently modern men have lost their DIY skills….

Hay: “I can certainly agree with that!”

Chairman: “Here we go – you’re going to mention THAT SHELF again, aren’t you?.”

Hay: “It was upside down, for God’s sake!”

Chairman: “It was a small mistake and a long time ago. You can’t go trashing my entire DIY oeuvre on the basis of one upside-down shelf.”

Hay: “Yes I can.”

Overheard in the caravan:

Hay: “Is this what you call washing up?”

Chairman: “No – I’m planning to put the dishes in a pan of boiling water and develop a delicious stock.”

Overheard while watching Nigella:

Hay: “It’s not so much cooking as the assembly of expensive ingredients.”

The Chairman’s cooking tip of the week:

If you want some very low-priced arborio risotto rice, get yourself down to Lidl - £1.79 per kilo, which I guarantee is half what you could buy it for anywhere else (and a quarter of the price at any normal outlet). Bought 5 kilos yesterday, that should keep us going for a while.

I’ll leave you with a beautiful interpretation of Led Zep’s Battle of Evermore, by a lady called Amy McCann.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Cheap Flights at £9k

I somehow suspect that £9k p.a. tuition fees are going to result in fewer degrees in automotive trading, curry appreciation, the philosophy of beauty therapy or golf science. I’m tempted to say: “About time” in fact I will: “About time.”

While I consider myself a socialist at heart, I never quite managed to overcome the feeling that Labour’s attempt to get 50% of the school population into university was anything more than a cynical move to get kids off the dole queue by stealth and shifting the problem down the line through the auspices of worthless vocational degree courses.

If you’re a fan of cheap flights, listen to this. Brilliant!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Tooth Whitening Secret Dentists Don’t Want You to Know About

With families facing tighter budgets, many are turning to the internet to take advantage of advice in order to save money and keep living expenses low. Kelly, a mother of thirteen and a part-time badger sexer, is one such consumer. Kelly recently discovered a clever way of combining three different products to get one incredible whitening effect comparable to what you might expect paying £300 or more for with your dentist.

Kelly’s story of how she wound up with yellow teeth sounds all too familiar to some:

"I probably did quite a few things over the years that contributed to my stained teeth. I drink battery acid, I like Red Bull, I chew otter spleens and I never floss, even though I know it’s important. I never really noticed until recently just how discoloured my teeth were. But a few months ago I breathed over my husband and he died from toxic shock. Then I thought I’d start saving up some money to have a dentist bleach my teeth, but was blown away when I found out it would cost me £350, which the stingy bastards at the NHS wouldn’t cover.”

Kelly’s solution was to combine Domestos household bleach, Superglue and Dulux white polyurethane paint. See the dramatic results this easily concocted recipe produced:

Before After

The results are self-evident from the completely unretouched photos above. You too can have a film star smile if you follow Kelly’s advice.

Here are some testimonials from satisfied users:

Bob Guttersnipe of Blackburn: “I used Kelly’s product and had this fizzing sensation for a few minutes before my mouth exploded. I no longer have problems with the whiteness of my teeth.”

Vanity Fair of Bath: “This amalgam of household items is simply stupendous – it may well whiten teeth (I wouldn’t know, as I didn’t try) but it did manage to get rid of a nasty patch of mould in my bathroom that has been plaguing me for years.”

Russell Hobbs of Norwich: “One I’d been discharged from Intensive Care I noticed how my teeth were gleaming white, although I could have done without needing the Fire Brigade to prise them apart.”

The above advert was inspired by one of those obviously American adverts on Facebook, which have been manipulated to look British, but could only fool a halfwit.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Toner, Halloween & X-Factor

So, we’re going to be forbidden to carry toner cartridges in our airline hand luggage now; how will we survive without our toner cartridges on long-haul flights? Mind you, have you ever opened up one of those things? They make an awful mess so it’s not surprising they are to be banned – imagine one of those going off in a small space – the mayhem, the filth!

Yesterday Hay was having a chat with Cat (who just so happens to be black) about Halloween. Cat was saying that it’s her busiest time of the year and each year is becoming increasingly hectic, what with having to see all the local crones, making personal appearances at numerous Halloween events, etc.

Cat fears that the Trick or Treat business is getting out of hand and this pernicious and tacky American tradition is fast becoming a permanent fixture in the UK, especially with the Metro Trendies, who seem more susceptible to the adoption of strange foreign ways than we simple country folk who perform quaint rites, such as the burning of a wicker man filled with ne’re do wells and outlanders - or, if a suitable delinquent can’t be found, the odd townie foraged during a 2nd home raid, or possibly someone who dares to marry outside his or her immediate family.

When I was a kid Halloween was called Mischief Night and we would go out engaging in innocent, harmless fun, such as swapping people’s garden gates over, artfully nailing neighbours’ pets to barn doors or embalming stray children who were out too late. Never a thought of being bought off with sweets though – it would have spoiled the fun and spontaneity, not to say the intimidatory fear factor on the elderly.

There is another strange, yet welcome, social phenomenon occurring of late – voting for the worst act on X-Factor. Previous attacks on manufactured reality programme ‘stars’ have focused on rigging the Xmas music charts by the mass buying of old tracks from established stars, co-ordinated through social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Now it is changing to voting for the most ghastly act – which is a most efficacious strategy as it cuts reality TV off at its roots.

I’m fully supportive of this, as it may persuade TV executives to focus once more on the type of programmes that made British TV the envy of the world, rather than the current trashy, Warholesque rubbish that panders to the shallowest mindset and produces fleeting ‘stars’ with the staying power of a quantum fluctuation.

Today’s reality stars don’t even have the time to descend into an obligatory fame-induced, drug-crazed spiral of self-loathing and highly publicised sexual excess, with the subsequent stellar career relaunch following a spell at a high profile rehab centre – they simply disappear from the scene before they’ve had the first sniff of cocaine at a celeb party.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Ginger Caps

Apparently Harriet Harman has apologised to ginger rodents after likening them to LibDem MP Danny Alexander.

I wonder whether Halliburton and BP will have anything to do with the EU spending cap or the ConDem benefit cap?