Sunday, 31 May 2009

Sunday 31/05/09

Feeling grumpy today.

Overheard in Tesco:

Very overweight young woman pushing grossly overloaded trolley and bumping into The Chairman: “Oooh sorry, I can’t control this.”
Chairman: “Perhaps if you didn’t load it with so much crap you could.”
Hay: “Badger!”

The Conservative leader, Darth Cameron, was yesterday accused of employing his entire family and their friends and their friends’ friends on parliamentary expenses, setting up a taxpayer-funded property empire, robbing the Bank of England and killing the Prime Minister. In his defence he said that it was within the rules and he blamed sloppy accounting.

I wonder if anyone has had the idea of investigating the Royal Family’s expenses. Has, for example, Her Madge claimed a London allowance for staying overnight at Buck House when she actually drove in from Windsor Castle?

I seriously fear that in an effort to kick the major political parties in the balls over the expenses issue, the electorate is going to vote a bunch of nutters into the European Parliament this week. Better to vote for the least blatantly corrupt standard politician than run the risk of a coalition of the insane running Europe.

I’ve spent the last 4 days trying to phone a guy who has a Volvo 850 T5 for sale, on Auto Trader, but the bugger’s phone keeps going to voicemail. Why advertise a car for sale with your mobile as the contact number and then persistently fail to answer your phone? Left him a final message telling him where to stick his bloody car. Have decided I’ll fix my motor myself for under 200 quid – bugger the insurance.

On the way back from dropping my boy off in Truro yesterday I noticed long queues on the southbound carriageway of the M5 around Bristol. It was so bad that people were taking picnic tables and chairs out of their cars and making tea in the middle of the motorway. Went to the AA Roadwatch site on arriving home at 11:30 to find not a single traffic alert on it for the M5, yet every other traffic site and radio traffic reports were screaming 40 minute delays due to a serious earlier accident that wasn’t expected to clear before 3pm. These buggers at the AA are more interested in selling you insurance, financial services and driving lessons than telling people about the state of the traffic. AA Roadwatch is as much use as running spikes are to Stephen Hawking.

Saw this in Tesco yesterday:

For anyone who knows my surname, they’ll realise that this is my kind of beer.

Out of curiosity we watched the Britain’s Got Talent final last night. Hay’s convinced Julian Smith is ex public school and is hiding his true identity of Julian Ponsonby-Smith. As for 2 Grand, the girl should ditch the old bloke and she’d stand a decent chance. We both thought Shawn Smith the best act and regardless of the fact he didn’t win, I’m sure his future as a singer is assured and that Simon Cowell already has him signed up.

Amanda Holden should actually have won for her Jessica Rabbit impersonation.

I hear there’s to be another version of Britan’s Got Talent, called Britain’s Got Pushy Parents. Kids will be forced by their parents to compete for the chance to climb up chimneys, work ungodly hours in cotton mills and manufacture trainers in sweatshops. Contestants will have to be under 13 and withstand onslaughts of humiliating criticism. The winner will be the kid who gets the most public votes for his or her ability to look utterly dejected, burst into tears spontaneously and appear on the verge of suicide.

Here’s a random thought: I wonder how many Hitlers there are in the telephone directory in Germany?

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Saturday 30/05/09

Overheard in the caravan:

Hay: "Badger, why is it I can find the cigar lighter in the rental car within 20 seconds of climbing into it, whereas you searched for an hour and still couldn't find it?"
Chairman: "Women's intuition?"

Getting worried about Caravan Mummy.

Caravan Mummy's Pet Cemetary at Folly House.

Someone has buried a pet out on the common. When wading through the long grass, Hay and I came upon what is ostensibly a pet burial site, comprising a pile of stones and some flowers. Obviously a cairn terrier.

By the time this is published I'll have been on the motorway for a couple of hours. Dropping No.1 son off at the secret location in Truro at 9am and handing him over to an unmarked taxi for onward delivery to his home under cover of darkness.

No.1 son has spent the last week being tutored by Perry on his electronic srum kit and is now quite proficient. Perhaps I should suggest he pesters his mother to buy him a set.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Friday 29/05/09

Well, the insurance company’s repair garage has declared the car an insurance write-off with an estimated repair cost of £1,200 against a book value for the car of less than that. I can get a 2nd hand Volvo door for £80, plus £40 to a local chap for spraying it and another £40 for a local garage to fit it. That’s significantly less than £1,200.

Even if I were to buy a new door, the cost would still be significantly less than using a top-notch repair facility. I’m now facing being inconvenienced by having no car and the dubious benefit of couple of hundred quid in my pocket, which will not be enough to replace my car with a similar model of the same age. Insurance is such a bloody rip-off.

Hey - given the new scrappage deal that was initiated a few weeks ago, my car HAS to be worth £2k at the very least. Think I'll try it when the loss adjustor phones today with the offer and see how they squirm out of that one.

Restaurant review time. We went to the Swan at Nibley last night. It's recently changed hands and been refurbished, now being in the posession of the landord of The Squire pub in Chipping Sodbury. Decor in contemporary, whereas previously it was typical country pub that time had forgotten, as well as taste.

The food is reasonable, but the staff just don't pay enough attention. On our arrival one of the staff was sat drinking on the customer side of the bar, playing with her mobile; not a good sign. The food took an age to arrive, was over-cooked and half the drinks and some of the food was missing from the bill (not that I complained). The portions were large enough to ensure the owner will go out of business before much longer - so if you want a half decent meal for half the price it would cost anywhere else (purely based on volume), get in there fast before the owner twigs and initiates portion control and culls some of the staff.

I had a tough duck breast which could have benefited from being sliced (in which case it would have easily fed two). It was nestled in a quite delicious sauce, but was ruined by badly cooked vegetables. I had to ask for a steak knife in order to dent it. Hay had a piece of salmon, which was missing the hollandaise sauce and was also over-cooked. My Irish coffee was doused in squirty cream, which started to separate as soon as it was delivered to the table. The desserts looked as if they were bought in.

Don't you just detest those places that have candles but don't bother to light them? It's not even as if customers have lighters these days and could light them themselves. I'm also slightly wary of places that have a wide-screen TV, just so you can watch football while dining.

The Dog doesn't have much to worry about and still retains price of place in my heart. It's what it is and isn't pretending to be something else. The owner is also on-site and not an absentee landlord (or rather lady). The desserts are also home-cooked.

Filled in an application for Grand Designs yesterday.

Here’s some parody entertainment from Weird Al Yankovic:

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Wednesday 27/05/09

Sorry - I was simply too busy entertaining No.1 son yesterday to compile a decent Chairman's Thought for today.

By the time this gets automatically posted at 7am, I'll have already been on the road for an hour. Heading up to Slackistan to visit mother in Southport, the outlaws in West Kirby and take in a business meeting in Birkenhead on the way back.

Hopefully there will be a radio controlled plane waiting in the post for my son when we get back - can't wait!

Insurance people still haven't got their act together - they're as much use as a Ferrari is to Stevie Wonder. Hopefully the car will be collected tomorrow, and I hope to hell they don't decide it's a write-off.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Tuesday 26/05/09

Headline News:

Spinal Tap to reform for Glastonbury and as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of their iconic film - This is Spinal Tap.

The over-50s are afraid they are going to have to work longer due to pensions being hit. by the financial crisis Why is it that whenever the media talks about the over-50s they use stock photography of people in their 60s and 70s? Look at the bugger in the link above - I look nothing like that.

The boss of the company that makes Irn-Bru is to retire, meaning he has to pass on the secret formula for the drink, a formula which only two people at a time know (besides any retired chairmen). I thought it was public knowledge that the secret ingredient is girders - well, girders and lots of sickly sweet things.

Have set this post to automatically propagate as a test of the system, and so I can have a lie-in.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Monday 25/05/09

Bugger all newsworthy today.

I guess the main political parties should now be focussing on cleansing their Augean Stables of embezzlers ready for the general election. If they don’t, then they risk fringe parties forming a coalition of the insane.

Sent off my European Parliament postal voting slip yesterday and was horrified at some of the so-called political parties contending the election. The voting slip comprised 2 pages of A4 and there must have been 20 parties listed. I chose the sensible option of Joanna Lumley’s Gurkha Party.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Sunday 24/05/09

Not all may get the irony associated with this picture I took yesterday while returning from Truro after collecting No.1 son. It's a British sports car that was last manufactured some 30 odd years ago by a company called Triumph and the model is a Spitfire - being an iconic name from WWII (despite Hurricanes having been the mainstay of the Royal Air Force's efforts at repelling Herr Hitler).

The irony is that the registration plate of the car is German.

Before I start getting comments asking whether I was taking photos while driving, my 5 foot assistant took the photo for me.

It's a bit like finding a British registered Messerschmitt.

Just noticed there's an option in Blogger to delay a post, enabling you to write it and then choose the time it goes live. Handy for when you're on holiday - write a bunch of stuff and then organise for it to go live in sequence.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Saturday 23/05/09

My car was smashed into on Monday evening. It’s now Saturday and I have yet to receive any communiqué from a garage willing to perform repairs within a reasonable timescale, despite my insurance company referring the case to their ineptly named “Rapid Response Team”. God help us if they worked in a hospital accident & emergency unit. Apparently they’ve only just discovered that the garage that usually does their repair work in Bristol no longer serves them. The next garage they chose can’t collect the car till the 5th June.

Seems, on further research, that flash blogging has already been thought of. So much for my clairvoyancy skills.

Just had brainwave. If every women’s clothes shop had a clairvoyant, just think how much time could be saved! No more looking for the right item, then spending another half hour searching for the right colour and then a further hour for the right size. Imagine the conversation as women walk into a shop: “Yes modom – I’ve already packaged what you will buy. Will that be credit or cash? Oh, silly me – credit of course. By the way, your lottery numbers will not win this week and if you value your marriage I’d advise getting shot of the au pair.”

Ref my comments on babies’ weights. Bit of a silly comment on my part. Thinking about it, besides whether it’s a boy or a girl, a baby’s weight is just about the ONLY differentiator. They all have blue eyes (well, if of WASP origin) and all look like a bulldog after a particularly nasty bout of vomiting. Unless the skin colour doesn’t match at least one (or an amalgam) of the parents, then there’s not much else you can say about a baby except possibly the presence of hair and its length.

Here’s another shop from yesterday’s walk:

Before closing down, Mechelle (?) obviously catered for all 3 sexes (?). I always though that unisex was something undergraduates got up to.

Camouflage window netting! Only in Filton – although possibly also in front of a few caves in the Bora-Bora mountains of Afghanistan and covering a few field guns in Iraq.

Nothing exceptional about Extreme Marine, except that it reminded me of Obscene Marine, an international and peripatetic drinking club of ill repute, whose membership comprised alcoholic ex-mariners and people who were in marine sales – me included. We would attend international marine exhibitions in such far-flung places as Piraeus, Oslo, Amsterdam, Singapore, etc, arranging via telex and e-mail to meet up for a mega piss-up in a local hostelry after the first day of the show. Not sure what became of it.

The Tasmanian Devil has been put on the endangered species list. Usiel Leviathan, Grand Wizard of the Knights of Damnation, broke off from a virgin sacrifice to say that this was great news for all Satanists.

Time to head to Cornwall to pick up No.1 son from an anonymous drop-zone where he's delivered alone by an unmarked taxi (No.2 son has been turned and no longer wishes to see me, although I suspect he does, but at age 9 daren't contradict his mother). There and back by lunchtime - tune into Twitter for traffic updates.

Friday 22/05/09

20th April 1653; Oliver Cromwell:

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.”

“Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?”

“Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!”

Rather apposite given the current row over expenses. I hear Conservative MP Nadine Dorries is suggesting mass suicide if more revelations are made public. Not a bad idea.

World’s oldest blogger dies. Had a great idea – flash blogging. We all descend on one person’s blog at an appointed date and time, and bombard them with comments.

I became a great-uncle yesterday. Why are women so preoccupied - no, obsessed - with telling all and sundry the weights of babies? Given 99% of babies fall within a range of weights that are considered normal, does the fact a baby is 6lb 7oz have any greater significance than it being 7lb 3oz? It’s not as if when you die they announce: “Henry Wiggins died today, weighing 9st 11oz.” No, when you die it’s your age that becomes the differentiator.

On the subject of great-uncles; why is it that my brother becomes a grand-father and I become a great-uncle? Surely I should become a grand-uncle - or at least an Arch-Duke.

I was looking for a tajine on t’internet for Hay last night. Ever heard of a tajine you can’t cook with? Well here is a selection, and you can’t cook in a single one of them. Idiotic!

The Oldorough Retreat winner is due to be announced. I’m expecting the call anytime now.

Was reading a report on the low incidence of cancer in people with Downs’ syndrome. Since they have an extra copy of chromosome 21, it’s been proposed that they may be getting an extra dose of one or more cancer-protective genes and there’s a whole study being done to prove it. I mentioned this to Hay, who happens to have an extremely incisive intellect, as well as a PhD in bio-chemistry. She responded with the simple observation of: “Well, they would have fewer cancers – they die much earlier and cancers are generally a disease of the older person.” Seems the researchers have missed out on the obvious by taking a reductionist view.

Was listening to a surgeon on the Case Notes Radio 4 programme on the way home the other night. He said that specialisation in surgery is becoming so bad that surgeons are no longer able to treat patients holistically. They concentrate on fixing the problem in which they specialise, unwittingly neglecting conditions which may be causing the very problem they are treating. He also stated that it will not be long before surgeons revert to practices of the past – i.e. becoming barber surgeons and fixing nothing more complex than broken bones – as chemistry is becoming so effective that most ailments and conditions will be treated by pharmacists and technologists, requiring very little in the way of opening up the patient.

He said that before much longer it will not be necessary, for example, to do hip replacements. Liquid will merely be injected into the afflicted hip that will provide a new surface for joints. Cutting out cancers will also become a thing of the past when targeted chemicals will be administered.

It’s been suggested – and I can’t find the reference – that if everyone in the UK were to eat their 5-a-day portions of fruit and veg, then there wouldn’t be enough fruit and veg on the shelves (or in the UK) to satisfy demand. Also, if everyone were to eat only the recommended amounts of meat, the knock-on effects to the beef industry would wipe it out.

Of late I’ve been struggling to get a decent hit from vaping the e-cigar. I suspect I’ve cut the e-liquid so much with BP glycerin that any nicotine is now down to homeopathic levels – a memory of nicotine.

Here’s more from the Famous Filton Shops archive:

Now this shop is called MystiQ, but I’m not sure exactly what it sells; however, the store owner knows that. In fact, I’m surprised she (why are clairvoyants invariably female) didn’t come outside to welcome me into the shop. I particularly like the sign on the right for her mediumship classes - ‘book early to avoid disappointment’. I would have added that those who have been on the course no longer need to book early for anything – inceed you can book at the last minute, secure in the knowledge that your spirit guide will ensure you’ll be buying at the best possible last-minute price. The value of that when using eBay would be phenomenal.

On holiday next week, so blogging may be sporadic. Will probably use Twitter to maintain contact with the blogosphere – well, that or clairvoyance.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Thursday 21/05/09

Scientists hail stunning fossil. The beautifully preserved remains of a 47-million-year-old, lemur-like creature have been unveiled. The fossil, nicknamed Ida, is claimed to be the "missing link" between monkeys and ex House of Commons Speaker, Michael Martin. Given the kink to Martin, there are doubts as to its authenticity, as it’s thought there’s a high possibility of a discrepancy between what it’s ‘claiming’ and the truth.

A 21 year-old American rapper by the name of Dolla has been shot dead outside a Los Angeles shopping mall. It would seem that death is an occupational hazard for rappers. The way some court it, it’s almost as if death is the pinnacle of achievement for them and you’re a has-been if you live beyond the age of 30. All of the following rap artists are dead:

  • Tupac
  • Biggie
  • Eazy-E
  • Mac Dre
  • Soulja Slim
  • DJ Screw
  • Big L
  • Big Pun
  • Yaki Kadafi (Of the Outlawz)
  • Proof (Of D12)
  • Ol' Dirty Bastard (ODB)
  • Jam Master J
  • Pimp C
  • Big Moe

There’s a lot of ‘Bigs’ in there, so one assumes these chaps were on the planetary scale of obesity and died from simply exploding – innit?

Scientists say they have located the brain areas that may determine how sociable a person is. Warm, sentimental people tend to have more brain tissue in the outer strip of the brain just above the eyes and in a structure deep in the brain's centre. Lead researcher Dr Graham Murray, who lacks this feature said: "Piss off.”

Expenses scandal hit MPs keep trotting out these excuses of administrative errors on claiming interest on non-existent mortgages. How on earth can it be an admin error to claim for something you don’t actually have, the payments for which are not inconsequential and usually comprise the average person’s largest single financial outgoing? For people who we, the electorate, put in charge of running the country, MPs seem prone to a scale of administrative errors that dwarf those of the average person by many hundred percent. Admin errors on this scale within one’s tax return are illegal and land you in jail and I wonder whether the same percentage of administrative errors occur in MPs’ tax returns. I somehow suspect not.

Back to Twatter: Stephen Fry, probably the most famous and followed Twitterer in the UK, keeps going on about his ‘tummy’. Here’s a link he provided last night about the power of Twitter. There was a rumour going around earlier this week that Patrick Swayze had died – yet again. The rumour was started on Twitter.

I went for my usual lunchtime peregrination yesterday (for once it wasn’t hammering down with rain) and started to ponder the imponderables of living life in the fast lane. Unlike swimming, where you have to stay focused and concentrate on your breathing and target point, walking allows the mind to wander and you can stop breathing for hours, wandering in front of traffic with the abandon of an MP on an expenses binge. Here are some of yesterday’s thoughts while exercising.

Why is it that old people always look the same? Old people in the 60s looked exactly like old people do today – same shapeless clothes; same cardigans; same flat caps on the men; same clumpy shoes on the women. It’s as if once people reach old-hood they enter a time-warp and regress to fashions that were unfashionable even when they were young. You could hoik many an old age pensioner straight out of the 60s and he or she would not look out of place today.

Saw a few people engaging in that rare sport – house viewing. Along with car buying, house viewing is something that hasn’t been done for six months or more. Suddenly they’re all out, traipsing into houses led by another rarity – the greater rapacious estate agent. None of them looked as if they had the slightest intention of buying; more like the nosey buggers you initially get when putting your house on the market.

I normally walk at a reasonably fast pace in one direction for half an hour and then return, covering something like 3.5 to 4 miles. With the possible exception of bin day (garbage day to my New World readers), the smells along the route are pretty homogeneous. However, as I approach one particular house on the route my sense of smell is – I cannot say ‘assaulted’ – let’s say ‘caressed’ by the heady and exotic aroma of Indian food. Why is it that British homes rarely exude food smells, or if they do, why is it invariably nothing more exotic than thrice boiled cabbage? Are ALL the women at work? Is it perhaps because the smells can’t escape the plastic / cling-film of the pre-prepared meals and microwaves tend to dampen aroma? Is it because food prepared in the average British kitchen is simply tasteless and completely odourless?

Had a chuckle at a few of the shops along my route. Most shop owners have less marketing nous than the Chernobyl Tourism Board and Hindenburg Aviation put together, choosing wildly inappropriate names or tag lines for their emporia. Here’s a sample from my route:

Not a bad name for a chippy, but I wonder who voted it number one from the 5,000 or so chip shops in Bristol. The owner perhaps? This claim cannot possibly be substantiated in any meaningful way and should be referred to the Advertising Standards Authority for adjudication.

With an exterior like that (and the photo makes it look better than it actually is), I would hope to hell that the interior is better. A lick of paint wouldn’t go amiss.

That’s better – it sells what it says on the tin. No frills…… However, it could be confused with a service for the world famous Bristol trawler industry. PS - see what I mean about the pensioner?

Wines from Uganda, Ghana, India and Hong Kong? Well, there’s no accounting for taste – or lack of it!

It’s anyone’s guess what this outfit does. Obviously they must rely on word of mouth, ‘cos the shop front sure as hell doesn’t give an indication.

Best of all this, which will be interpreted by my American readers as a beauty parlour specialising in waxing, or a high street gynecologist.

Today, Hay and I have been together for three years. Not a cross word has passed our lips. Well, not a cross word has passed my lips.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Wednesday 20/05/09

Not sure of the wisdom of this Twitter thing – it’s more like Twatter. I’ve still not ascertained the full cost. I realise that to update Twitter via mobile phone costs you an SMS, which is usually included in your airtime plan, but I can’t find any clear info on the cost of receiving Tweets from other users via one’s mobile. It can’t be free and some bugger must pay, so my conclusion is that the receiver somehow foots the bill to receive mobile Tweets, as the option is under the receiver’s control. I await confirmation from any Twitter addicts out there, if they’ve got the time between Tweets.

Found one Robert Plant on Twitter and I’m now a dedicated follower of his Tweets, although he seems to have gone quiet of late though. Here’s a Tweety sample before he went off-air a couple of years ago:

11:53 AM Jul 9th, 2007 from web: Way down inside! Woman!

11:46 PM Jul 7th, 2007 from web: Oooooooooh, no no no no no! Ow, ow, ow! Yea, yea, yea! Ahuh, ahuh! Ay, ay, ay!

2:42 AM Jul 6th, 2007 from web: Keepitcoolinbaby! Keepitcoolinbaby!

11:37 PM Jul 1st, 2007 from web: Na, na, na-na-na na. Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na...

2:26 PM Jun 30th, 2007 from web: I said she won’t be true, no. Yeah no.

3:53 AM Jun 28th, 2007 from web: Hey baby! Whoa baby! Pretty baby! MOVALUDUHMOVINOW!

4:44 AM Jun 26th, 2007 from web: Hahh-yeah, ah-yeah, ah-yeah, ah-yeah....

4:42 PM Jun 24th, 2007 from web: Oooooooooooooooooh...oooh-ih-oooh-ih-oooh...and it makes me wonder!

1:42 AM Jun 24th, 2007 from web: Babybabybabybabybabybaby...! Whoahhh!

12:13 PM Jun 23rd, 2007 from web: Ooooooooh...Mama!!!

Puerile, I know, but funny.

They changed a server somewhere in our work IT network on Monday in order to improve the speed of internet access. Murphy’s Law kicked in and it’s now slowed to a crawl and is about as much use as a Braille speedometer. It wouldn’t surprise me if the extra bandwidth they gave us was immediately snaffled though shoving more users from elsewhere in the organisation onto our brand new circuit.

The Sri Lankan government says it has ‘liberated’ the northeast of the island from the Tamil Tigers. Now if the people of the northeast of the island unanimously happen to want a separate homeland and comprise a separate ethnic group who have been fighting the government for the last 60 years in order to achieve that aim, then surely the government walking in and taking over is an occupation, not a liberation. To call the government takeover a liberation is akin to saying Soviet Russia liberated Czechoslovakia and Hungary, or China liberated Tibet.

The Met Office here in the UK is predicting a summer heat wave, so I guess that means a cold, damp summer for all. If, by some quirk of quantum mechanical vacuum fluctuations, a hot day does appear, it certainly won’t be pleasant living in a tin box. It was bad enough when I lived on the boat, reaching 35 degrees C inside the boat while it was hovering around 28 degrees outside. A caravan with only a few windows that open will be much worse.

Here’s a thought. On the day I was born, a day lasted a lifetime. The next day lasted half my lifetime. On the 25th September of this year, a day will last 1/20,000th of my lifetime. My, doesn’t time fly? I wonder how many of the people born on that fateful day in 1955 that saw me enter into the world are still alive, as a percentage.

On Monday the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling that troops serving abroad are protected by the Human Rights Act. It’s all becoming a bit absurd when a field commander may have to consult a lawyer before committing troops to an engagement. Next we’ll hear that Health & Safety legislation will apply too. We’ll have the 1st Health & Safety Brigade (Clipboard Battalion) going in as the first wave of an attack in order to do a risk assessment of the battlefield and produce a report – in triplicate. Woe betide anyone who actually shoots an enemy soldier; they’ll be up before the H&S Executive for endangering someone with live ammunition, and possibly the International Court of Human Rights for contravening the right to life if they manage to kill their enemy.

You can imagine it now: “Can’t let you out there sir. It’s the foxholes you see - bloody trip hazard. As for bayonets, can’t allow them either – you could have someone’s eye out. Have the snipers been issued with ear defenders and high-visibility protective clothing yet, sir? Now, I need to talk to you about these flame throwers – indiscriminate use of fire is forbidden under article 3, subsection IIIa – you’ll need to apply for a license from the council and have the Fire Brigade on stand-by. I also should alert you to the mortar shells – strictly speaking they come under the fireworks regulations; more than my job’s worth to let you use them in a battlefield situation where there’s people about - might injure someone.”

I can see the situation arising where a field commander is flung in jail for sending troops to almost certain death in an engagement (but still winning the battle), and also for hesitating due to said legislation and getting them killed by losing the initiative and being over-run due to legislation-induced dithering.

Well, it seems House of Commons Speaker, Michael Martin, has fallen on his Black Rod. He cites unity as the reason, not total ineffectuality and crass hubris.

Another Speaker, Fletcher Norton, 1st Baron Grantley, was voted out in 1780 following an expenses scandal – the king’s expenses. In 1777, when presenting the bill for the increase of the civil list to the king, he told George III that, "Parliament has not only granted to your majesty a large present supply, but also a very great additional revenue; great beyond example; great beyond your majesty's highest expense." After the general election of 1780, the prime minister, Lord North, and his followers declined to support the re-election of Norton, alleging that his health was not equal to the duties of the office, and he was defeated when the voting took place.

Another Speaker who was forced out was Sir John Trevor. In 1685 he was appointed Master of the Rolls and speaker of the House of Commons by James II. As Speaker he was memorable for being severely cross-eyed - the affliction being so confusing to members of the House that they were frequently uncertain as to which of them had "caught the Speaker's eye", and would try to speak out of turn. Being partisan to James II he was deprived of his office on the accession of William III. In 1690, however, he once again returned to parliament as Speaker, but on 7 March 1695 he was found guilty of accepting a bribe of 1,000 guineas from the City of London to aid the passage of the Orphans' Bill through the house. He was expelled from the Commons, a move which he initially resisted on the ground of ill-health.

I wonder whether ex-Speaker Martin will get a peerage along with his £1.4m pension pot; it’ll be a travesty if he does. I hear he’s already announced changes to the expenses system for mortgages – one hopes he’ll at the very least limit claims to an amount equal to the mortgage itself, rather than multiples of it. The practice of claiming for bogus mortgages should also stop. The only problem is that tightening up the rules may force many MPs to become MEPs and decamp to the European Parliament, where embezzlement is still permissible.

Saw a headline in the newspapers when getting petrol this morning – ‘New Order to run UK’. It’s a bit much when the powers that be allow a post-punk electronica dance band to govern the country. I suppose their 1983 album, Power, Corruption & Lies is what sealed the deal. One wonders whether the House of Lords will be renamed the Joy Division.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Tweet Tweet

As you will note, I put Twitter on the site yesterday. I reserve judgment for the time being, but as a marketer I need to keep up with the latest distribution media, so it’s purely for research purposes you understand. However, I can’t seem to login to my account via the blog widget, which appears to be a common problem that the Twitter people are not in a hurry to fix. At least when I’m on the road I can now update the blog – albeit very briefly and not in my usual succinct manner. Why use 1 word when 10 get the point across equally well?

The baptism for Twitter came last night as I was leaving the work car park and some arsehole in a brand new Merc rammed into the side of the car. Despite how it looks on the photo, the damage is relatively superficial and a decent panel beater worth his salt should be able to extract the dent. At 160k miles on the car I’m not about to go overboard in getting a new door.

I’m just a bit pissed off that the other driver’s damage (front nearside corner) was negligible.

Have you seen the latest Schweppes adverts. They’re under the umbrella tag line of ‘Experience Matters’. Previous ones (at least in the UK) were based on political issues and I must admit that if I ever saw them, they certainly never impinged on my consciousness and were a bit too esoteric for my tastes. This latest one, however, did cause me to chuckle.

Sorry for the quality, but I nicked it from the New Scientist site and it was an animated gif which I had to capture mid-transition. It sums up the current vogue among the glitterati for buying designer orphans.

In trying to find a decent copy of the ad I alighted on Schweppes’ website. Once there you’re asked which country site you would like to view, United Kingdom being one of the choices offered (as well as every conceivable Eastern European country north of Suez). However, when you click on the UK, a box appears telling you there is no UK site. SO WHY OFFER THE CHOICE OF A UK SITE IN THE FIRST PLACE? The lack of a UK site is doubly annoying seeing as the product was originally UK based before being demerged from Cadbury-Schweppes and transferred to Amercia under the Dr Pepper brand.

I was casting an eye over Lovely’s Blot yesterday (she too is building a house, but in France), in which she was complaining about – hushed whisper and quick glance from side to side – “female problems” and the thing. You know – the THING. Menopause! She wishes it were all over quickly. I had to comment that we males don’t get an easy time with hormones either; imagine the sheer exhaustion resulting from being driven to be competitive all the time, even when you don’t feel up to it - never mind about the social stigma associated with having no option but to act like overgrown schoolboys for most of our lives. Unlike women, who get relief from their raging hormones when menopause sets in, we alpha males remain hostage to surges of testosterone till our dying day.

On the subject of women’s problems, researchers have uncovered the first genetic evidence to explain differences in the length of women's fertile lives. However, given my readership is overwhelmingly female, I won’t bore you with the details.

I will, however, bore you with this:

I’ve recently been researching something called the Wave Structure of Matter; a paradigm which says matter does not exist as a point particle, but is the result of standing spherical waves within space-time, which are what make fundamental reality at its basic level. It is proof for the ‘interconnectedness of all things’ – something in which I tend to believe. While this theory is extremely elegant, satisfies Occam’s Razor and reconciles relativity with quantum mechanics (while overcoming many of the paradoxes of the Standard Model), it’s being totally ignored by the physics establishment, and I can only infer it’s because there are too many vested interests in the Standard Model of particle physics. It’s a conspiracy of silence, despite a renowned professor – Carver Mead - supporting it. Carver mead is Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology.

To quote Mead: "The quantum world is a world of waves, not particles. So we have to think of electron waves and proton waves and so on. Matter is 'incoherent' when all its waves have a different wavelength, implying a different momentum. On the other hand, if you take a pure quantum system – the electrons in a superconducting magnet, or the atoms in a laser – they are all in phase with one another, and they demonstrate the wave nature of matter on a large scale. Then you can see quite visibly what matter is down at its heart."

According to the establishment, there’s a thing called Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which says you can’t know both the location and momentum of a quantum particle at the same time. Nether Einstein nor Schrodinger (of cat fame) were convinced, but Neils Bohr managed to shout them down, turned them, and we’re left with the consequences and (from what I gather) edifices built on sand. Bohr and Von Neumann refused to believe that a laser, which is a coherent macro quantum device, was possible, but today it’s embedded in every CD and DVD player and it works on the principle of coherent light – or in other words, knowing both the location and momentum of particles (or rather waves) at the same time, or else you wouldn’t be able to make the light coherent.

Here’s an interview with Dr Milo Wolff, who first thought up WSM. And here’s a website dedicated to it. However, try to find an academic site that mention it and you draw a complete blank. There aren’t even any refuting it – it’s simply ignored.

More worrying than anything (and I’m not your typical conspiracy theorist) is the fact that a philosopher of science, Geoff Hazlehurst, wrote a Wiki page for WSM a couple of years ago and it was subsequently deleted – not by Geoff himself- for reasons that just don’t stack up when analysed.

It’s a fact, however, that new paradigms take time to overcome entrenched views of an academic establishment having the inertia of a large quadrant of a small galaxy, many members of which made their name and fame within the old paradigm. While the scientific method does eventually triumph, the scientific establishment tends to behave like organized religion; sticking to dogma, becoming its high priests and refusing to peer-review that which they consider heretical and thus barring intellectual dissent and publication of important new research which may upset the applecart – or professorial chair.

To quote Charles Darwin: “Although I am fully convinced of the truth of the views given in this volume, I by no means expect to convince experienced naturalists whose minds are stocked with a multitude of facts all viewed, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly opposite to mine. But I look with confidence to the future to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality.”

Talking about the Old Guard; did you know that Darth (call me Dave) Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, is surrounded by more Old Etonians than any Conservative leader since Harold MacMillan? Despite being a product of the public school system myself, I’m not sure I’d want government-by-old-school. Smacks too much of cronyism. Apparently he’s also 5th cousin, twice removed, to the Queen.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Monday 18/05/09

Overheard in the caravan:

The scene: The Chairman is making a lard, cheese, mayonnaise and chili sauce sandwich. Hay leans over and grabs a piece of cheese from the sandwich. The Chairman reacts protectively, shielding his sandwich from Hay’s probing hand.

Hay: “You’re very territorial about your food, aren’t you?”
Chairman: “It’s programmed into me by evolution – food is a matter of life or death.”
Hay: “Or on the basis of what you eat, death or death."

Hay’s not feeling too good at present and hasn’t been entirely well since returning from China with a very painful sinus infection. As she’s not able to metabolise certain drugs, pain control and medication is not a simple issue.

Regarding the latest (and ongoing) revelations about MPs’ expenses in the Daily Telegraph; I wonder when these ‘officials’ who tacity agreed that MPs could make bogus claims will be outed and sacked. As a friend of mine said over the weekend, it’s a shame that the actions of 95% of MPs should tarnish the sterling work done by the remaining 5%.

In the caravan we have a satellite TV system; however, due to the cable having been accidentally sliced by the lawn mower, the connection has been suspect for some time. On Friday evening it finally parted, but due to the paucity of quality TV programmes we have taken a conscious decision not to bother fixing it – at least for now. We’ve had an entire weekend that has been free of live TV. If there is anything we desperately want to watch, then we can use t’internet and the iPlayer service to watch it retrospectively. What little free time I had over the weekend was spent reading or listening to the radio. TV has become an unwelcome and intrusive visitor, cascading vast quantities of utter drivel into our lives.

Something I did watch on t’internet was a very interesting 2006 lecture by Stuart Hameroff and V.S. Ramachandran on quantum consciousness and religious experience. If you want to watch it via the link, ensure you have about an hour to spare.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

The Housebuild Starts in Earnest

Yesterday we took the first steps toward the housebuild – making a hard-standing on which lorries, dumper trucks and diggers can manoeuvre without sinking into a muddy field (would someone in America please explain to me what a ‘maneuver’ is, as my spell-checker is resisting all attempts at spelling manoeuvre correctly). The hard-standing will eventually form our drive.

What I thought would be a task taking the entire weekend was accomplished between the hours of 8am and 5pm, but would certainly have taken longer had Colin (our builder / neighbour) not been capable of making the 3 tonne digger waltz. The machine virtually became an extension of himself and the digger arm a 3rd arm. Through a swift and very deft action he even managed to catch a wheelbarrow as it was about to tip over from a badly distributed load of scaplings.

Scaplings is the term for limestone rubble, varying in size from 20mm to dust, and once compacted and rained on, sets like concrete. The digger couldn’t tamp the scalpings down, as the caterpillar tracks merely churn up the loose stone, so we had to barrow the full 16 tonnes onto the hole Colin had dug, with Colin loading our barrows with the grab. Back-breaking work and I’m paying the price today. Hay, being fit as a butcher’s dog and not having a displaced sacroiliac, felt no ill effects. Caravan, who is 73, put in as much labour as Hay and I, and has to be congratulated for having ordered exactly the right amount – the man missed his vocation as a quantity surveyor, although he did used to transport this material before retiring from the haulage business, and so knows what a load looks like.

The digger arrives
Part dug area

Fully dug
Membrane goes down
Almost done
A complete hard-standing

The only problem is that in picking up the 16 tonnes of scalpings, we managed to also pick up the white limestone dressing from Caravan's drive, leaving him with a driveway that looks as if a bomb has hit it.

The cable across the photos is the power cable for the caravan, which has to remain in place until we move the caravan further down the field in a few weeks time, as it's right in the middle of where the house is to go.

I'm keen on using the excavated soil to make a feature, thus saving money on getting shot of the stuff, which with the excavations for the foundations could cost us £2k to get rid of. However, Hay and Colin think we're better getting shot of it.

Friday, 15 May 2009

One For The Boys

Friday 15/05/09

Pope celebrates mass with Nazareth. The Pope yesterday headlined alongside Nazareth, the iconic Scottish rock band of the mid to late 20th century. 40,000 Nazareth fans flocked to the stadium at Mount Precipice in Israel. Nazareth reportedly performed a hideously dated set, including ‘The Weight’, while the Pope, a former member of Shane McGowan and The Popes, performed some spontaneous Gregorian Rap and a rendition of ‘Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam’.

The acoustics were not ideal in the open-air stadium and a number of fans at the back swore they heard the Pope say: “Blessed are the cheesemakers,” and: “Blessed are the geeks,” the latter possibly being a reference to Bill Gates.

It was rumoured that The Angels were also going to perform, but it was not to be.

Whereas God gets a capital G, the Devil is usually (although not in this case) relegated to lowercase. Why is that? And why is God named as just God, whereas Satan is THE Devil, as if he's one among many? There is only one Satan.

Back to the expenses row (again). According to the Sunday Telegraph, the former Tory cabinet minister John Gummer claimed £9,000 a year ‘for gardening’. Good grief, I know MPs aren’t paid much, but moonlighting as a gardener on less than the minimum wage is taking it a bit far in trying to make ends meet.

The annual Cannes Frock Festival is currently under way, strangely enough in Cannes. Female film stars attend the event to display their borrowed designer frocks and then retire in private to watch interminably dull films with unknown actors and vote for the most obscure to receive an award.

There has been a spate of territorial claims on a bunch of uninhabited islands in the South China Sea. China has laid claim to the lot (see map). The dispute centres on the fact that there may be undiscovered oil in the area.

Now China’s southerly most point is Hai Nan Island, at about 18 degrees latitude. The disputed area that China claims extends to around 2.5 degrees latitude. Now my navigation skills tell me that’s roughly some 930 nautical miles from recognised Chinese land (and a nautical mile is 6,080 feet – or one minute of arc at the equator - as opposed to the 5,280 landlubber variety). It may look daft, but when you consider that the UK lays claim to the Falkland Islands, it’s not really all that daft, especially when China has a few garrisons on one or two of the islands in the Spratly group.

Another claim made by the Chinese is that shards of pottery and coins have been found on some of the islands, proving they were there centuries ago. Yes, the stuff found is from bloody shipwrecks! If you use shipwrecks as the basis for a territorial claim, then Spain can lay claim to the UK from the discovery of artifacts from the shipwrecked Armada.

I hear that on the basis of having an embassy in most world capitals, China is additionally laying claim to most of the civilized world.

Perhaps the Chinese should change tactics and base their claim on the name of the sea in which the islands lie – the South China Sea.

My hit counters provide me with data on where people came from in order to alight on my blog. In cases where the hit is as a result of a Google search, the data provides the search strings, many of which never cease to amaze me. It’s quite obvious that some people are not aware of how search engines work and simply ask Google a question, like, ‘what has been happening at ardley quarry in oxfordshire’ (not actually within quotes), as if Google is sentient and has the ability to interpret questions and come up with real answers like a human (or AI system that’s passed the Turing test).

Didn’t sleep that well last night – kept getting a dig in the ribs from Hay. I had one of those flapping bogies that act like a reed in a musical instrument and make it appear as if you’re a clarinet when breathing through your nose. Hay told me it was like sleeping next to Acker Bilk – although how she knows what it’s like to sleep next to Acker Bilk is a tad perplexing.

Had 16 tonnes of scalpings delivered yesterday for the hard-standing. They have blocked the Caravans’ entire driveway. Cat was last seen wearing an oxygen mask and clutching a British flag, having established base camp at the foot of the pile.

Thinking of giving up blogging. Don't think I've been on form of late as traffic is going down. What say you? Had enough?

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Thursday 14/05/09

Spotted someone famous at the hotel yesterday and he agreed for me to take a snap of him with one of my sales managers for our company newsletter. He seemed quite pleased that someone had actually asked his permission, rather than just snapping away. I’ll leave it to you to guess who the mystery guest was.

Mystery guest with one of my team.

As I returned home I tried to take a photo of Windsor castle from the moving car for my weekly letter to my boys.

Attempt No.1

Attempt No.2

Having been twice thwarted by passing cars speeding into the frame, I gave up.

Official! Man Flu really is worse than Woman Flu. A Canadian study indicates that men’s immune systems are not as strong as those of women's as the female sex hormone, oestrogen, would appear to counter an enzyme which blocks the inflammatory process. After millennia of being ridiculed by women, millions of men now feel vindicated and are bringing a class action against the female of the species, providing they can raise themselves from their sickbeds.

Back to the MPs’ expenses debacle. Nick Clegg, leader of the Lib Dems, announced someone in his party will pay back £0.32 in excess expenses. Labour leader and Prime Minister, Obi-Wan Brown stated that Health Minister Phil Hope would pay back £41,709. Not to be outdone and having overdosed on testosterone, Conservative leader, Darth Cameron, stated that the sub-prime mortgage debacle was an expenses oversight and he would be paying back £120 billion.

It’s now officially a competition to see which party fiddled more from the taxpayer.

Burmese pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been charged with breaching the conditions of her detention under house arrest, her lawyer has said. A man was arrested after swimming across a lake to her house. He’s been arrested but claims he was only delivering a box of chocolates (you probably won’t get that unless you’re British).

German police are reportedly negotiating a prisoner swap deal with the Vatican, hoping to exchange John Demjanjuk for Pope Benedict.

The landlady of Cutting Edge pub in Worsbrough, South Yorkshire, has attempted to get round the pub smoking ban by declaring that a room in her pub is a smoking research centre. Apparently the regulations banning smoking in pubs contains an exemption for a designated room in a research or testing facility whilst it is being used for any research or tests. The ruse apparently quadrupled business in a single weekend, although the local council are not impressed and say they will take action.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Wednesday 13/05/09

In readiness for our sales conference today, I stayed at the Saville Court Hotel in Windsor last night. Can’t recommend it. Had to change the first room they gave me as I’m not that keen on having to turn the bed at 90 degrees in order to have enough space to put the chair at the desk. The new room wasn’t much better – the chair height and the desk height are mismatched, so you can’t comfortably get your legs under the desk anyway. Add to that the fact you are provided with tea making facilities, but (as I discovered this morning) no tea, sugar or milk. You can’t leave any electrical equipment charging in the room, as once you leave you have to take your key-card out of a slot and all the electricity goes off – including that supplied to sockets. A small glass of wine costs £6 odd and a large one in excess of £8 – I can only consider myself lucky that my company paid for a free bar for the dinner last night.

One to stay clear of

Following a year of successful police operations around the world, cocaine is in such short supply that wholesale prices have gone through the roof. Prices have risen from £39,000 per kilo in 2008 to over £45,000, but street prices have remained stable. Investment bankers are in a panic and suspect it’s only a matter of time before street prices rise to levels higher than their bonuses.

Street prices have remained stable due to the raw cocaine powder being ‘cut’ with bulking agents, such as Bernard Manning, John Prescott and Susan Boyle.

It is also suspected that the recent epidemic of Swine Flu in Mexico is not in fact Swine Flu at all, but an allergic reaction to the bulking agents used to cut Colombian Marching Powder.

Political commentators suggest that MPs’ high expense claims are reflecting the fact that these spongers are taking some of whatever Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, is on. Some commentators are of the opinion that Tory MPs are funding their extravagant lifestyles of swimming pools, moats, chandeliers and domestic staff through having cornered the House of Commons drug market – the proceeds of which are estimated to dwarf the Gross Domestic Product of Scunthorpe.

Shadow climate change minister, Greg Barker, the MP for Bexhill and Battle - and a close ally of Darth Cameron who yesterday blagged an apology with exceedingly good fakery - stands accused of making £320,000 after buying a flat with the help of taxpayers' money and selling it 27 months later. ‘Making money’ – i.e. counterfeiting – is a crime, and if Barker is using the property to make money, he’d better watch out. Rumour-mongers along the corridors of power hint this activity is actually a diversionary ruse and that the so called ‘profit’ is really drug money laundered through the parliamentary expenses system.

It has come to light that a number of high profile MPs are paying ‘protection money’ from their expenses to shady characters. Barbara Follett, the tourism minister, has for example paid out £25,000 for ‘protection’, however, given she is married to millionaire writer Ken Follett, these gun-toting protection racketeers could feasibly be on Ken’s payroll, which begs the question of whether Ken is indeed a writer or in fact the mysterious boss of the legendary, yet infamous, cali-Westminster drug cartel. It has been said that the term ‘street price’ is slowly being replaced with that of ‘lobby price’.

Pope Ratzo has continued Operation White Robe with an offensive push through Jerusalem, stopping off at the Wailing Wall, the Crying Kerbstone and the Whispering Garage. The pontiff, nick-named The Desert Fox, briefly partook of a meal of 5 loaves and 2 fish with 5,000 of his men. He donated some pitchers of Lacryma Christi 1997 to Panzer Division Clausewitz, who complained that it tasted like water (or piss). Following a quick burst of the Horst Wessel song, he donned his trademark sand goggles and roared into the wilderness aboard his remodeled armoured Popemobile.

The Popemobile

Unfortunately, this exhibition of comradely spirit delayed the Pope in his attempt to cross the Sea of Galilee before evening in order to rendevous with Cardinal Fang; however, he assured his troops that he knew of a shortcut directly across the sea – one that had been used in the past… about 2000 years ago. He said he’d read about it somewhere, but couldn’t remember where.

Imperial College has estimated that a third of the world's population could be infected with Swine Flu in the next 6 to 9 months. The announcement caused a flurry of panic purchasing of Sherazade IGT Sicilia Donnafugata 2007 at Fortnum & Mason’s when the report was misheard as Wine Flu.

A massive 4 foot moon jellyfish has wasted up on a beach in Devon. Experts say the species - also known as a common jellyfish or saucer jelly - has no bones or brain, and the colourful bodies are 95 per cent water. It is allegedly indistinguishable from John Prescott.

John Prescott (left) and a moon jellyfish (right)

‘Recession could be over by Tuesday’, says renowned astrologer. World famous astrologer, Stephen Hawking, maintains it’s all relative - providing you have access to a time machine. Hawking’s time machine, cunningly disguised as a motorised wheelchair, enables him to time-shift and report on tomorrow’s news today.

Following hard on the heels of Ferrari announcing it may withdraw from Formula 1 racing, car manufacturer Kia has said that if it appeared on the F1 starting grid in 2010 it would be a bleeding miracle.

In a move of Orwellian proportions, the Belgian city of Ghent (henceforth to be known as the Fascist State of Ghent) is about to declare a veggie day at least once a week in which civil servants and elected councillors will eat vegetarian meals. Schoolchildren will follow suit with their own veggie day in September. Perhaps some councils in the UK should follow suit by having days when fat people are not allowed to be seen in public, with fat catchers (in the manner of dog catchers) patrolling the streets to arrest them if they dare to show their faces.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Tuesday 12/05/09

I’m feeling particularly irreverent (and prolific) today.

Earlier this month the government came out with a list of people banned from the UK for promoting hatred, committing terrorist violence or committing serious criminal activity. I would like to lobby for most UK MPs to be added to the list for engaging in criminal activity. Is transportation to Australia still a valid sentence?

Police say the recent spate of parliamentary petty larceny is merely copy-cat crime.

Conservative leader, Darth Cameron, has said that all MPs should say sorry, and that should be the end of it – despite today’s reports that his own MPs are subsidising their country estates through the public purse. Douglas Hogg, former Tory minister, 3rd Viscount Hailsham and occasional Norman robber baron, stands accused of claiming his moat clearance on expenses; also his piano tuning, his housekeeper and her car. Paradoxically Hogg has the lowest expenses of any MP, so God knows what the others are spending their ill gotten gains on.

As an aside, Hogg’s father was the Tory Lord Chancellor Quintin Hogg, a.k.a. Lord Hailsham (who was in turn the son of a Lord Chancellor). In 1963, when his fellow Minister John Profumo had to resign after admitting telling lies to Parliament about his private life, Lord Hailsham savagely attacked him on TV. The following evening Profumo's brother-in-law, Lord Balfour of Inchrye remarked on live television that "When a man has by self-indulgence acquired the shape of Lord Hailsham, sexual continence requires no more than a sense of the ridiculous".

Obi-Wan Brown has already apologised to the nation on behalf of MPs of all hues. With this in mind, Ronnie Biggs, celebrity convict, train robber and very sick old person, has asked if he can be let out of jail if he says sorry too. Justice Minister, Jack Straw, has issued new sentencing guidelines to the UK courts. Henceforth, all convicted criminals will be let off scot-free if they say sorry.

A new term has been coined by the politically correct lobby for MPs who deny having done anything wrong – Expense Fraud Deniers.

When Obi-Wan apologised yesterday he said that his ‘profession’ had to gain respect. Profession? A profession is defined as a vocation requiring demonstrable knowledge of some recognized department of learning or science, like the law or medicine. MPs don’t need a single qualification, except the ability to lie through their teeth and persuade the electorate to act against self-interest and pursue the politicians’ visions of the greater good – or indeed the greater greed.

Since the weekend, several people in Scotland have been swept away by swollen rivers. Anti-obesity campaigner, Hamish McFatarse, said it is a national disgrace that Scottish rivers are flabby and swollen and is lobbying the Scottish Assembly to have all Scottish rivers put on cholesterol-busting drugs.

Children's charities are backing a plan to make web retailers ensure young people cannot buy age-restricted goods. As things stand, the only verification on on-line sites is a tick box and in a recent check by trading standards officers from Greenwich Council, a child was able to purchase 18-rated DVDs, knives, tobacco and alcohol.

Debenhams, which sold knives to the teenage crash-test-dummy, said it had a very clear policy on the issue of selling knives online. "Customers who visit Debenhams' website pages where knives are for sale are made aware that these are age-restricted products and should therefore only purchase them if they are over 18," it said in a statement. "Debenhams would never knowingly sell knives to anyone under the age of 18 years old," it added.

So, the way in which Debenhams overcomes the issue is to ask the purchaser to tick a box to say he or she is over 18, thereby enabling the company to deny any responsibility whatsoever. The hideously complex method by which teenagers overcome this rigorous verification method is by using something we experts call the blatant lie. Now the blatant lie is a virtually undetectable ploy which has hitherto not been used much outside of the deep recesses of the British political system. A viral genetic modification of it is now apparently able to completely neutralize the technologically sophisticated security procedures Debenhams applies to its on-line sales operation.

Hideous old bag and love-child of Her Majesty the Queen, Barbara Windsor, has received a lifetime achievement honour for her part in the soap, Eastenders. ‘Princess’ Barbara is considering donating her trade-mark cast iron beehive hairstyle to the Victoria and Albert museum, where it will be exhibited alongside Jimmy Knapp, Marianne Faithful and a nylon replica of Andy Warhol’s wig – oh sorry, that IS Andy Warhol’s wig.

King Abdullah of Jordan (the King formerly known as Prince) has warned that failure to reach an agreement for peace in the Middle East will result in a new conflict within 12-18 months. For this master-stroke of enlightened rhetoric and perfect example of incisive applied logic, the Nobel Prize Committee is considering awarding him the 2009 Nobel Prize for Stating the Bleeding Obvious.

It’s a little known fact that King Abdullah appeared in a Space Trek Voyager episode when still known as Prince (episode 35: Investigations - 1995 to be exact).

King Abdullah in mufti

Ex Hitler Jugende storm trooper and God’s Rottweiler, Pope Ratzo MCCXIV, is currently leading a Holy Crusade to reclaim the Holy Land. He landed with his crack commandos, the black-shirted Opus Dei (Padre Pio Brigade), and proceeded to establish a beachhead (where else will you find a double h in the English language?) in Haifa, intending to advance on Jerusalem in a pincer movement using the old tried-and-tested Sicilian strategy. Squads of bishops, armed with high-powered, semi-automatic knockwursts and recoilless berettas, chanting: “Arbeit macht frei,” are being supported by the 4th Episcopal Panzer Popemobile Division under the joint command of Cardinal Fang and Silvio Berlusconi.

In a battlefield interview, serial philanderer and gaffe-prone Berlusconi said he really fancied Susan Boyle and would divorce his wife for her, although at 48 he would have preferred her to be a third of her age.

Cardinal Max Clifford, Pope Ratzo’s personal nuncio to the tabloids, has dismissed as totally baseless the rumours that Pope Ratzo is going to establish a Thousand Year Reich in the Holy Land, has replaced the traditional cross with an Iron Cross and has instructed cardinals to wear little pointy spikes on the top of their cardinals’ berettas.

Israeli forces have responded to the papal incursion by bombing the shit out of the Palestinians (again) and torching the UN building in Gaza City (again).

Hamas responded that they had a gun to their heads and weren’t afraid to pull the trigger.

Papal Enforcer, Monsignor ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan, responded with: “Go on, make my day.”

The Pope himself said: “I totally condemn Expense Fraud Denial and a crime of this magnitude should never be allowed to happen again.”

A young Pope Ratzo

Pope Ratzo today and in his acting days.

Pope Ratzo (right) prepares for self-propelled take-off at Rome airport.

Pope Ratzo performing his famous bird hand-shadow act.

Pope Ratzo addressing the faithful at a rally in Nuremberg.

While blitzkrieging his way through the Holy Land, the Pope will be stopping off to visit Christian pilgrimage sites, such as McDonalds and Marks & Spencer.

Late breaking news: in an announcement that shocked Burberry Close, Leytonstone, Katie Price, the pneumatic, chicken-tikka-tanned ex-horsewoman and soft porn star formerly known as Jordan, told the world through her agent, Professor Max Clifford, that her breasts are to separate. Her ex-husband to be, the washboard-stomached, failed Ozzie pop star and compulsive self-publicist, Peter Andre, said he was devastated and that he suspected several other sad, narcissistic, infantile boys were involved in the love dodecahedron. He added later that Katie’s bush tucker was crap anyway.

Professor Max Clifford, emeritus professor of applied cynicism at the Essex Institute for the Terminally Chavvy, will be handling the reality divorce TV rights.