Monday, 30 January 2012

Overheard at Sainsbury's Doing Homework

The Chairman, No. 1 Son, Hay and her dad are at the local Sainsbury supermarket:

Hay's Dad (aka Caravan): "I'm looking for one of those things that takes the air our of a part-drunk bottle of wine to stop it going off."

No. 1 Son: "Dad prefers something that takes the wine out of a part-drunk bottle of wine to stop it going off - he calls it a mouth."

No.1 son is reading out his history homework:

No. 1 Son: "And the Japanese view was ..... I can't read this - good grief, my writing is so neat now that I can't even read it anymore!"

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Overheard in Aldi

The Chairman and Hayley are in the Aldi supermarket checkout. 

Hayley: “Can you quickly run and get one of those frozen turkey crowns – they’re excellent value and tasty?” 

3 minutes later. 

Chairman: “There aren’t any.” 

Hayley: “I don’t believe you.” 

Chairman: “Go and check yourself.” 

3 minutes later 

Chairman: “Told you so - you didn’t believe me.” 

Hayley: “Of course not!” 

Chairman: “Why?” 

Hayley: “Well, what do you expect after the prawn fiasco?”

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Political Hypocrisy

The level of ignorance of some sections of the British population never ceases to amaze me.

Yesterday I was reading some of the BBC News website comments about Stephen Hester’s £963k bonus. For a start, most of those expressing righteous indignation were under the impression that this guy was responsible for RBS’ collapse – they’d obviously never heard of “Fred the Shred”, nor that Hester was put in place to turn RBS around, which he seems to be doing.

Many lamented their paltry salary when compared with that of Hester – but not the comparative levels of responsibility, which makes their comparisons somewhat asinine.

Some went as far as to say he should be paid the equivalent of a nurse, in which case we’d any old Tom, Dick or Harry running our nationalised bank, with an application list as long as a queue comprising most of the working population of the UK. We could additionally say bye-bye to the £45bn RBS owes us.

Yet others were decrying the fact he got this bonus while making several thousand people redundant – well, how the hell does one turn an operation from making a loss to making a profit without getting rid of some people? It’s a bank, for God’s sake, not a workers’ co-operative. Even charities make people redundant in hard times.

The fact is that this bank went from losing £1.6bn a year to making 2bn – that is quite a transformation. It still, however, owes us £45bn. Fine – put a monkey in charge and pay him or her peanuts, but then don’t ever expect the £45bn to be repaid.

All the while, politicians of every hue are cynically scapegoating Hester for a contract they either oversaw or failed to regulate. I’m heartily sick of the hypocrisy of politicians and the knee-jerk reactions of union bosses.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Overheard in Davos

No.1 Son: "Children don't cost that much - it's just food, water and clothes."

Chairman: "What about vet's bills? Hayley - have we arranged for him to be neutered yet?"

They're holding some economic mega-forum, where the fate if the universe will be decided on the basis of astrology, in a place called Davos. The place just sounds incredibly evil, doesn't it?

Talking of money, the political parties are busy blaming each other for the £1m bonus that the Royal Bank of Scotland Boss is to contractually receive. At the same time, he's being told he needs to: "Think like a public servant who has a duty to his country, not just his own wealth." I guess that means he should go on strike.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Pointless in Scotland

Those little coats for dogs; what the hell is the point?

If they came with pockets where dogs could keep their loose change, smoking implements and condoms then fine, but otherwise they are totally useless in the British climate - arguably in any climate. It may have escaped some dog owners, but most animals come with built-in coats.

Just because you're a bit chilly, it doesn't mean to say your pooch is. More than likely he will be highly embarrassed in front of his mates with one of these daft coats on.

The chap above's doggy kilt reminds me that Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, has set out the question he intends to ask voters in a referendum on independence. While I firmly believe people should be democratically free to vote for whatever they desire, my own question would be: "Why?"

Reading this analysis of the benefits, it seems to me that the key benefit is 4,500 more jobs for politicians and the like - and I'd call that more a drain than a possible benefit.  This would be off-set by an additional 7,000 private sector jobs - and they'd need at least that many to fund the first 4,500. Like hosting the Olympics, independence is something that's driven more by bare emotion than logic - Salmond knows that and plays to it.

I could understand it if the drive for independence was driven by a memory of independence, but the last time the place was independent was 300 years ago, and the Scots are not exactly an oppressed minority. Silly, blatant jingoism.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

New Job

The ex captain of the Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino, started his new job as a bus driver yesterday.

Thanks to my mate Phil for this.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Human Shields on Sepia Tuesday in Holland

The bishops are saying the coalition government must ensure that the proposed benefit cap doesn't put children into poverty. While I agree, methinks a small number of feckless parents who have never worked  hide behind a human shield of tens of children.

Following from Sunday's post (and Alan Burnett's suggestion that I might be joining Sepia Saturday), I've posted another photo received from my Dutch cousin in France.

This one shows me with (left to right) cousins Joopie, Nan (who sent me the photo and is the elder sister of Joop), Henny and my elder brother Jan. It must have been taken in around 1957, possibly in Vlaardingen (on the outskirts of Rotterdam).

Only one Dutch cousin is missing - the other Joopie, Henny's younger brother.

My brother was originally also called Joopie (the diminutive of Joop - short for Johannes), but on moving to the UK my mother changed it to his 2nd forename of Jan (after my dad), as the kids at school kept calling him Dopey Joopie.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Unbalanced Advertising

I hear that following the PIP breast implant debacle, the plastic surgeons' professional body wants to stop the advertising of 2 for 1s. 

I trust they are not referring to breast implants, where I would expect a client would be offered 2 for 1 as standard. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Dutch Cousins

I have been talking via FaceBook to my long-lost Dutch cousin who has lived in France for many years. She and I have shared some family history - specifically photos. She has some I had never seen and I have some she had never seen. 

We're going to arrange a family reunion of the English, Dutch and French contingents over the next 12 months. 

This one is one she gave me and is of my grandfather and grandmother - or opa and oma. Opa was born in 1882 and died in 1947.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Salad Days in Irish Chipping Sodbury

I'm really impressed by Israeli wines. They don't go in for bulk production, being mainly made by small, boutique vineyards. Being limited in production they aren't cheap, but of exceedingly good quality.

I can particularly recommend last night's libation - Binyamina Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, which accompanied my lamb kebabs and roasted vegetables. 

Having starved since the previous night, I ordered what was shown on the menu as lamb kebabs with salad, thinking it would be just a small dish. Wasn't expecting the feast that came. Only managed about half of it before feeling fully sated.

A hideously healthy concoction of seared egg plant with tahini, a very nice avocado and garlic dip, a platter of roasted peppers, sweet potato and fennel, marinated sweet peppers, marinated tomatoes, deep-fried potatoes and bread to die for. Total bill, 139 Shekels, or £23.68, including the half bottle of wine.

Eat an Israeli salad and you'll never touch a Greek salad again; a plethora of different compositions, each having multiple, complex layers of flavours and comprising a cornucopia of vegetables. Greek salads are quite pedestrian and bland by comparison. 

Israeli food has so many influences; Mediterranean, Arab, Ethiopian, eastern European, Berber and western European - as many as the peoples that came together to forge Israel.

Talking of food, Hay and I are attending an Irish-themed (don't ask) Chipping Sodbury Yacht Club Burns Night dinner on Saturday evening. Dress is meant to be a melange of Scots and Irish, but I don't have anything suitable. Thinking of going in a DJ and tarting up my travel bum-bag as a make-shift sporran. It promises to be a raucous night, and if you know Chipping Sodbury Yacht Club, you'll know why - a condition of membership is that you cannot own a boat or have pretensions to becoming a member of a real yacht club. The annual regatta held on the river Frome (a stream at best and a puddle in droughts) is a sight to behold.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Caesar Salad

About 20 of us went out for a meal in the old port of Caesarea last night (it’s a ruin which has been partially reconstructed as a tourist attraction and houses a couple of restaurants). I always return from one of these Israeli dinners feeling hungrier than when I first went out. 

You get a variety of disgustingly healthy small courses which don’t really add up to much and are shared between three or four of you. Not wanting to appear greedy, the natural British tendency is to restrain oneself and take only a small amount from the shared plate. 

I’d rather have a mountain of steak I can call my own and fill my belly, but there again I am trying to lose some weight while here for the week by cutting down dramatically on what I eat.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Monday, 16 January 2012

Israel / Iran

Flying out to Israel today for our 2012 kick-off sales meeting at HQ. Just hope the Israelis don't decide to have a go at Iran till after I return on Friday.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Overheard in the Pub

The Chairman is explaining to friends the vagaries of life in the caravan. 

Chairman: “Before our second winter in the caravan we installed a log burner.” 

Phil N: “Burning coal?” 

Ted B (an American): “Can you burn coal?”

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Our Generation Didn't Have the Green Thing in its Day

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own shopping bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. 

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days." The cashier responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations." 

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day. 

Back then, we returned milk bottles, pop bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day. 

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every shop and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day. 

Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day. 

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the county of Yorkshire . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the post, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right. We didn't have the green thing back then. 

We drank water from a fountain or a tap when we were thirsty instead of demanding a plastic bottle flown in from another country. We accepted that a lot of food was seasonal and didn’t expect that to be bucked by flying it thousands of air miles around the world. We actually cooked food that didn’t come out of a packet, tin or plastic wrap and we could even wash our own vegetables and chop our own salad. But we didn't have the green thing back then. 

Back then, people took the tram or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mothers into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint. 

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then? 

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart-ass young person.

Friday, 13 January 2012

A Scot by Any Other Name

I’ve been listening to this argument about the mechanics and timing of the vote over Scotland seceding from the Union. 

What exactly is a Scot; is it someone who was born there? If so, then some 15% of Scots won’t be eligible to vote anyway, as they live south of the notional border – or indeed abroad.

Concomitantly, if the definition is those individuals who live there, then those Sassenachs who live in Scotland (of which there are quite a few) will have the right to vote. 

One thing can be guaranteed if Scotland does secede – nothing will change. In the words of the prophet, it's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Nobs of Tesco

It had to happen! Poor bugger...

Was watching an item about wind turbines on the local news last night. Some entrepreneur wants to put a half dozen of these inefficient eyesores up somewhere in Wiltshire. The local BBC reporters put up a local nob who owns a castle as the opposition. He said it would ruin his view and reduce his profits from visitors. Methinks the BBC knew exactly what they were doing. Planning Approved!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Impact of a Breath of Culinary Fresh Air on Celebs

Anthony Worrall-Thompson, the celebrity chef whose restaurant empire almost collapsed in 2009, has admitted to shoplifting from my old Tesco just outside Henley.

What a breath of fresh air - he's held up his hands, admitted he was in the wrong, apologised to all concerned and had his rights banged up to whatever rights are banged up to these days. Not at all like the mealy-mouthed MPs and Lords who were caught with their hands in the till and tried to argue that what they did was not expressly forbidden.

Well done Mr Worrall-Thompson - you've gone up in my estimation. Let's hope a few more take a lead from your example. However, nicking Tesco cheese? No wonder he's made an undertaking to seek help with his affliction.

On the other scale of events, Beyonce has apparently given birth to a daughter. That news made my day - it's a fact I was waiting on tenterhooks to know. I sometimes feel my sad, pathetic existence is not fulfilled if I don't get my daily dose of the minutest domestic revelations of celebrities and their tawdry, self-absorbed lives. 

Ever noticed how many people are 'impacted' these days, rather than being simply affected by something, especially in public service? 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Oh, Just Bugger Off Mr MP

Humanity had been mucking about and pleasuring itself with alcohol for several millenia before MPs were even invented (and I still think they're a pretty bad invention). So why do these recent upstarts insist on trying to tell us how much booze is good for us? 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Customer Choice

A friend sent me this:

Click on it to enlarge.

It's a little inaccurate around the hummus area.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Breasts of Ed Who?

There's a news story saying that Ed Miliband has a plan for Labour. That may be well and good, but can anyone tell me who Ed Miliband actually is? The name sounds familiar from way back, but I just can't remember in what context.

Ref all these exploding breasts - can men get breast implants if their moobs are sagging a bit? It may have saved a lot of effort if all breast implants had chips placed inside them during manufacture, like the ones used to chip dogs and cats. A quick swish with a chip reader and one would get an instant readout of manufacturer, date of manufacture, batch number, etc. of your plastic doll.

Friday, 6 January 2012

70cl of Spontaneous, Sacred, Recruitment Dinner

Anyone know where the 70cl bottle came from? A curious measure, would you not agree? The litre makes infinitely more sense. 

Bloody recruitment wallahs are going bonkers at present. I’ve been contacted about 20 times over the last few days asking if I’m looking for staff – what planet are these buggers on? If I have to tell another recruitment consultant that there’s a recession on, I’ll explode! 

 I wonder what Stephen Hawking’s domestic conversation is like? He must surely have to spend half an hour programming in everything he says? Must be useful if he’s asked to wash the dishes – he’ll answer half an hour after the question was first asked, by which time his Mrs (if she’s anything like Hayley) will have done it anyway. I suppose spontaneous conversation is out of the question. 

Was watching a program on TV last night called Earthflight – one of those natural history jobs that is so excellently done by BBC Bristol. How religious folk can say that life is sacred is incomprehensible – life is in fact nothing but some other creature’s dinner.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

TESCO Rip-Off For Christ

70cl Gordon's gin £12; 100cl Gordon's gin £20.89 - go figure. I guess they must have a glut of the 70cl bottles and aren't cynically exploiting the public's usual and quite justified perception that buying larger amounts means it's cheaper per unit.

American politicians really give me a belly laugh. A Republican contender (don't ask me which - they all look like identical plastic dolls) in one of the recent count-off thingies, that seem to go on for at least 10 years before an election, publicly thanked God for his win and then went on to accuse Obama of trying to bring in European style social systems, whereby money is taken from some to give to others - namely from the rich and to the needy.

One wonders what his hero Jesus would have said. America must have the highest numbed of non-Christian Christians on earth.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Thinking of powering the solar PV panels with coal.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Apocalypse Now

Overheard in the caravan: 

No. 1 son is checking his homework.

No. 1 Son: “Did I spell apocalypse right?” 

Chairman: “No!” 

No. 1 Son: “OK, OK, it’s not the end of the world though!” 

Saw Ray Winstone on TV again last night in the final Indiana Jones film. Guess who he was portraying? Yes, you guessed it - Ray Winstone - or rather a mix of Abel Magwitch, Quintus Arrius, Beowulf, one of King Arthur’s comrades and every other role he’s ever had.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Badger Police

I sometimes despair of police-speak. A man was fatally stabbed at a party in Bedfordshire and the police said: “We are treating the death as suspicious.” How else would they be treating it, for God’s sake? 

It’s a pity that the only film roles for badgers are in films about Narnia and Tales of the Riverbank. You never see them in soaps, which may be due to the dark forces of speciesism being at work.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Films, Films, Films

I was watching Ray Winstone playing the part of Quintus Arrius in Ben Hur on TV yesterday, having also watched him playing the part of Abel Magwitch in the TV adaptation of Great Expectations over the Christmas week. 

Now Winstone is a very versatile actor and, having seen him in films such as King Arthur and Beowulf, I’m constantly amazed at his ability to project the character of Ray Winstone on all his on-screen personas and his habit of making them look and sound like east end villains. 

I watched the film ‘The Queen’ on TV yesterday afternoon, which for those who haven’t watched it is about the aftermath of the death of Diana. I still can’t understand how the nation suddenly went all flaky and grief-stricken over Diana’s death; she was nothing more than a celeb who courted celebs and the press. It was as if the British suddenly lost their backbone. I blame the abolition of conscription, which seems to have bred a generation of self-obsessed imbeciles for whom watching X-Factor is the height of intellectual endeavour. 

While I cannot condone what Prince Charles did to Diana, we nonetheless witnessed the birth of celebrity worship and the cretinisation of the British public. 

Well, 2012 may eventually see The Chairman completing the house build and moving in, although I wouldn’t place bets on it, as I’m sure we’ve grossly underestimated many of the expenses; however, I can live in hope. I was so disappointed by the TV schedule last night that I turned in at 8pm and was asleep by 8:30 (having few friends and being a tad grumpy, I received no invitations to New Year parties).