Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Health & Safety, Gozitan Style

Was collecting Hay and her dad from the ferry terminal yesterday after their boat trip to Comino (warning, don't do it unless you're prepared for crowds of screaming chavs from Malta island) and was amazed by the guy at the filling station. Just as I pulled in I spotted that the attendant leaning on the pump smoking a cigarette. As he saw me enter the forecourt he stubbed his ciggie out on the pump and cast it to one side. Wish I'd had my camera on me.

I simply can't believe how quiet Gozo is - even at the height of Saturday there was hardly a soul on the road, or on the streets. Malta must be the place for the package holiday lot, whereas Gozo is more attuned to the mature person. Even walking home in the evening there's hardly a light to be seen in any of the houses.

Saturday, 27 July 2013


We've just been out to the local shop in Nadur to get some breakfast things. The proprietor took one look at us and enquired; "Cheddar?" 

"Mais non," says I, "give us the local goat's cheese and some croissants."

Friday, 26 July 2013


The economy has grown by 0.6% in the last 3 months. How the hell can they even measure that?

If you were offered a 0.6% pay rise, you'd laugh in your employer's face.

A couple of weeks ago we were told inflation had risen to 2.9%. Ho hum...

When is Michael Middleton going to be offered an earldom? That's much more important that the economy's growth - can't have a future king's grandparents being commoners.

Seems the C of E has been investing in slavery, or something like that.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Overheard in the House

Hay: "Badger, I know you did the cooking, but you left the oven on! You obviously need more practice."

Chairman: " It's just my special technique; you've heard of after-burners - well this is after-cooking."

We're off to Gozo at the weekend for our holiday - we've rented a farmhouse for 6 (me, No.1 Son, Hay, Hay's sister and partner and Hay's dad). Problem is there's no aircon in the property and friends who live in Malta say July / August is not the time to visit because the heat is so intense. I have, however, taken the precaution of hiring a 6 seater car with aircon. Guess where I'm going to be sleeping?

Wasn't too happy at leaving the kampong unattended during our absence, so I've roped in my brother and sister-in-law to house-sit. Now with Chipping Sodbury having appeared in last weekend's Sunday Times property section and a new Waitrose being built, there's a good chance they may get to see Kate, William and Tyson (or will it be Trayvon?).

Overheard when Kate and William Presented Trayvon.

Hay: "Never going to be a looker, is he? The baby I mean. He'll have to rely on his royal connections to get a job."

Chairman: "No doubt he'll get his father to arrange a job in the City."

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

King Wayne

That Kate Hopkins was so wrong. I firmly believe the Cambridges will name their new baby Wayne, or Tyson.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Church Embraces Commercialisation of Christmas

It had to happen - the C of E has finally embraced rampant commercialism

Henceforth, never let them decry Easter eggs being sold in January (not that they have much to do with the church's view of Easter)...

Friday, 19 July 2013

Crime and Punishment

Apparently crime has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years, and no-one can find a direct correlation and a reason why this has happened - until today!

I reckon that the burglary industry has been hit by recession as hard as any other industry and all the professional burglars have been made redundant.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Testing at 11

The furore over testing school kids at age 11 is causing a high degree of polarisation within the population. 

I generally take the cynical view that anything opposed by the teaching unions (like hanging bad teachers) is bound to be good for kids. However, looking at the government’s proposal a tad more objectively, I’m of the opinion that a healthy dose of reality is far better than a kid growing up with a totally unrealistic sense of self-worth and entitlement based on nothing more than an ability to ‘play nicely’. 

Kids, in my experience, are vociferously competitive and respond well to the knowledge some other kid is better than them at something – unless the gulf is too large, in which case they disengage. However, the social group they mix with at school is generally of the same ability level and therefore the stimulus to improve within that peer group remains.

The end-of-term school reports I receive are pointless and tell me nothing whatseoever. I've shared many an email with my son's headmaster over the issue, and even he finally admitted (after a valiant effort at obfuscation) they are difficult to comprehend and basically dogmatic mumbo-jumbo. In the total absence of any meaningful comparative data with my son's peers, only A* is acceptable, in my eyes.

I do, however, hammer it into his mind that, at 15, his future is in his own hands, and if he does poorly academically, he will have only himself to answer to in later years if he finds it hard to get a job.

What with every job under the sun becoming 'professionalised', qualifications are more important than ever - but they must be meaningful and not just Mickey Mouse qualifications based on the facile assumption that competition is bad and everyone deserves something. The USSR's manufacturing industry (and British Leyland) suffered from that for decades.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Life in the Ghetto II

After several weeks at Moscow airport, Edward Snowden has been driven to seek asylum in Russia. Well, if Moscow airport is anything like Heathrow Terminal 5, I can't say I blame him! It would be my worst nightmare; endless shops selling expensive, tasteless tat and coffees at a fiver a shot. Hideous!

In another story, the UK will be testing a driverless car in the near future. That'll be handy if you've had a Ray Wilkins or two.

Have you noticed how adverts are becoming more multicultural? I'm just waiting to see one with a nuclear family comprising a Caucasian mother, African father and Chinese kids. Why aren't the Daily Mail readers complaining about foreigners taking over our stereotypes?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Life in the Ghetto

The super rich are apparently becoming ghettoised in a gated community known as London and the Southeast, leaving the rest of us with open countryside, hills, dales, gorgeous coastlines and all the benefits of wide open spaces and house prices based on the real world.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Sorry - I can't Resist Advertising

Sorry - I suddenly feel this uncontrollable urge to go out and buy a packet of fags. Isn't that packaging so sexy and irresistible?

I started smoking at 16 and did so, very heavily, till I was about 52 or 53, when I switched to e-cigarettes. Packaging played no role whatsoever in my decision to take up smoking; I merely wanted to fit in with my peer group, most of whom smoked.

Once hooked on smoking, the packaging merely directed me to a particular brand.

The iniquitous thing is that my health has improved immeasurably since taking up e-cigs (I now have only borderline COPD), yet the government now wants to regulate them, which means expensive testing and taxation - very probably at the behest of Big Tobacco, who want to get in on the act and take the small operators out of the market. Luckily you can buy anything anywhere on the internet.

Friday, 12 July 2013

I Am Not a Number. I Am a Free Man

Apparently I'm No. 2,758,891,520.

Yesterday's post got me looking for other images of Chipping Sodbury from way back, and I came across this site, where you can plug in a town and see pictorially how it has changed over the years.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

New for Old @ BBC

Yesterday I spotted the photo on the left at the garage where I was collecting my car from after a service and asked if I could take a copy. It's of Chipping Sodbury High Street and must have been taken around the 19 tens, or possibly a little later (spot the WWI plane buzzing the High Street - a commendation for whoever can say what plane it is).

Thought I'd take a picture of the town as it is now, from the same spot and almost 100 years later. In the early part of the 20th century they were drowning in horse poo; today it's cars (click to enlarge).

Think I'll see if I can get a job at the BBC - I'll be made for life!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Too Posh to Polish

The reason the post of Health Care Assistant was brought in was because nurses had become too highly qualified to do the drudge work, for which no qualifications were necessary, beyond common sense, a dash of compassion and the ability to learn on the job.

I read in the news this morning that in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal, the powers that be are going to insist HCAs become more qualified.

One presumes another tier of carers is going to have to be created once we reach the inevitable situation of HCAs needing a university degree and considering themselves too qualified to do the drudge work.

Seems the real issue is staffing numbers and someone taking responsibility for supervision.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

New Technology for Mass Surveillance

New Green Deal home insulation could result in dangerously overheated houses during heat waves, it has emerged. The government says it is aware of the problem and is taking steps to prevent overheating. This correspondent believes an innovative new technology called windows will be added to the properties concerned. Opening them is believed to alleviate the problem. My God! You'd think this news story came straight from The Daily Mash.

Ref the story that's just emerging about the threat of possible cyber-attack on the 2012 Olympics - call be old fashioned, but is this perhaps the government softening us up for more Mi6 mass surveillance scandals? Strange time to release it, if you ask me.

Loved Mr and Mrs Alex Salmond's advert at Wimbledon for health-giving effects of deep fried Mars Bars and Irn-Bru.

In another story, house prices are set to rise faster than inflation. Here we go again - yet another bubble in the making. Not exactly what people should be applauding, if you ask me.

Monday, 8 July 2013

British Sport

Button and Hamilton fail to win German Grand Prix!

Saturday, 6 July 2013


Do you think Len McClusky had anything to do with the Egyptian elections. I hear Morsi was his preferred candidate.

Wonder if he'll fix it so John Paul II makes a quick and smooth transition to sainthood.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Democratically Elected!

Yes, Morsi was democratically elected, but he then started to systematically dismantle the very democratic principles he was elected to uphold.

You can't crow about being democratically elected if you then start withdrawing the rights of sections of the population - that's inherently undemocratic.

As one commentator said yesterday, Hitler was democratically elected.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

From a book I'm reading - The Rise and Fall of the British Empire, by Lawrence James:

Lord Harmsworth, owner of the Daily Mail (founded 1896), once remarked that his readers relished a 'good hate'.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Overheard on TV

Dictator: "I won't be dictated to!"

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Fast Public Image

Was watching some of the Glasto highlights on TV yesterday afternoon. Is it me, or is John Lydon of Public Image Ltd. (ex Sex Pistols) looking increasingly  like Mark Williams from The Fast Show?

I know Lydon created PiL, but they could really do with changing their lead vocalist. Love the music, hate the shouting.

Looks like Kenny Rodger has had a bit of work done round his eyes, but the voice has stayed the same. Wonder if he'd be interested in fronting PiL. The mind boggles...

Thoroughly enjoyed Nile Rogers' set on Friday night. Really professional and tight. And they say disco is dead! Daft Punk has put paid to that little homily. Best set of the festival.

As for the Stones - I think it was more the novelty effect of watching disgustingly thin, 70 year old men prancing about the stage than anything to do with the music. Sir Mick seemed to spend half his time exchanging calls with the audience. I never was much of a Stones fan.