Saturday, 26 December 2009

A Christmas Story

A woman touches the hem of Jesus’ robes some two millennia ago and the story becomes part of the canon of Christianity as a story that demonstrates faith. A woman tries to touch the Pope in 2009 and is condemned as mentally unstable.

I’m not fan of religion at the best of times, but this story exemplifies the gross hypocrisy of organised religion. It’s no more than the exercise in mind-control over the terminally superstitious, and being pattern recognising animals, humans are condemned for eternity to see the hand of God in everything from a piece of toast to a cloud.

Feed a dog and it thinks you are a god; feed a cat and it thinks it is a god. Why can't we be more like cats?

See you in a week or so.

Friday, 25 December 2009


Here we are – Christmas Day once again. Merry Christmas everyone. May you smile frequently, laugh often and live life to the full in 2010.

The Caravans have a turkey that came with a little red push-pin gadget. When the turkey is cooked the red dot in the middle pops out. A neat idea that must be based on a simple thermocouple. Saves you having to keep opening the oven and stabbing the bird to see if the juices run clear.

Forgot to mention; at our work Christmas lunch we were using Chinese Christmas crackers. I was amused to discover than on the reverse of the paper joke slip were the safety instructions, which could obviously only be read after using them.

One of my sons’ Christmas presents hasn’t shown up, despite it having been ordered as long ago as the 21st November. It did have to come all the way from China though. It’s some kind of iPod thing.

Talking of computers, it would appear that Hwelett Packard computers are racist. Face recognition software in the on-board cameras do not recognise our non-reflective brethren. See the video below for the details.

We were watching The Chronicles of Narnia on TV yesterday afternoon. Hay happened to mention the Christian allegory of the story and that CS Lewis had discovered God at the time of writing it. I disagreed that he ever had an atheistic period, as once you have been touched by the power of the sheer rationality of atheism, there’s simply no going back. Hay agreed, commenting that most believers lose their religiosity through a feeling of abandonment when God has let them down during particularly tough times. From this position there is still a path back to belief when the omens improve and things get better. Those having chosen atheism from a rationalist and analytical intellectual perspective have no return path to superstition, as they never felt abandoned by God in the first place. For we atheists shit just happens and we don’t attribute bad (or good) fortune to the supernatural.

I must say that the film’s use of centaurs as cavalry is inspired, as they never fall off their horses, have two hands available for combat and have no horse’s head obstructing their lunges. Phoenixes are handy allies too, although as everyone knows they do not burst into flame spontaneously as portrayed in the film. The aerial support provided by the griffons was a good strategic move; however, charging into a level field of combat when you have the advantage of the high ground shows Peter’s lack of strategic appreciation.

Talking lions is just silly though. And as for replacing one monarchy for another, that’s not really a good idea – the creatures of Narnia should have replaced the White Witch with the Democratic Republic of Narnia. Bad democratic leaders can be gotten rid of at the next election, whereas it takes just one bad monarch and the whole thing turns to poo.

Skandar Keynes, who plays Edmund in the film adaptation, is rather well connected. On his father's side, he is the great-great-great grandson of Charles Darwin, through whom he is descended from Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk (uncle to both Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Catherine Howard) therefore making him distantly related to Queen Elizabeth I and King Edward I. Keynes is the great-great nephew of the economist John Maynard Keynes and the nephew of the historian and Cambridge professor Simon Keynes. He is related to the poet Ruth Padel and, through his ancestral connection to the Wedgwood family, to socialist politician Tony Benn. Through his great-grandmother, Hester Adrian, Baroness Adrian – the wife of Nobel Prize laureate Edgar Adrian, 1st Baron Adrian – he is also related to the Scottish philosopher David Hume.

While the Narnian universe is interesting, it is not as logically or internally consistent as Tolkien’s Middle Earth. I therefore put Tolkien streets (or multiverses) ahead of CS Lewis. Although a devout Catholic, Tolkien would have made a good atheist had he seen the light.

We’re off to Cornwall tomorrow and we don’t have internet access, so I’ll bid you all adieu for a week or so.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

The Eyes Have It

Something weird is happening to my eyesight – it actually seems to be improving with age. I’ve taken to wearing my new varifocals on the end of my nose for distance viewing as a result, as I can invariably see better without them. Must be a blood pressure thing.

Volvo is to be sold to the Chinese. I guess they’ll all start chucking out shed-loads of black fumes now, come with acres of shiny red plastic for seat material and smell vaguely of 5 spice or MSG. Must get one of those tiny red and gold lanterns to hang from my rear-view mirror.

Our 1,200 vehicle works car park (mainly for AirBus and not the dozen or so assorted scallywags that work at my office) has been closed for several days due to the fact that the build-up of ice on the steeply sloping entrance has rendered the approach a ski slope and you simply can’t get up it. I therefore parked my car in a nearby residential side road having only a slight slope. On approaching the car on Tuesday evening I noticed a thick layer of snow on the windscreen, which was strange as it hadn’t snowed all day. It transpired that a large section of the snow on the roof had slid glacier-like down from the roof and deposited itself on the windscreen during the day.

On the way home I had to brake at a set of traffic lights. Suddenly the remaining snow on the roof phaloomphed off the roof onto the windscreen, completely blocking my vision in the process. Had this occurred with a car in front of me I would definitely have had a disastrous collision of immense and dire proportions. Let this be a lesson to all that you should remove all snow from your car roof, as the migration of heat from the interior will loosen it, making it extremely unstable and a danger not only to you, but also to passing polar bears.

Why are we in England so spectacularly bad at coping with a few inches of snow? Because the cost of 100% preparedness is prohibitive, that’s why. We are affected maybe one winter in three, and then only for a couple of weeks - max. It’s a simple cost versus benefit calculation.

Seems there are benefits to being an old curmudgeon.

In August 2009, David Milliband (the current Foreign Secretary) was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Great Lives programme, choosing South African politician Joe Slovo. Milliband stated during the programme, in a response to a question about terrorism, that, "Yes there are circumstances in which it is justifiable and yes there are circumstances in which it is effective, but it is never effective on its own." These comments attracted considerable censure from senior political figures. I’ll tell you what though, he’s right about it being justifiable in certain circumstances. If not, then the French Resistance and all the other WWII resistance movements were wrong. I guess it’s right if you’re one of the resistance, but wrong if you’re not. A very subjective judgement.

I was listening on the radio to the mother of a soldier who had been killed in Iraq. She was complaining that Milliband had not apologised to her personally for the death of her son. Well, Milliband didn’t kill her son – some Iraqi did. Yes, Milliband may have sent him to Iraq, but her son signed up knowing the risks. In no way can Milliband be held responsible. She said that the war was not worth the death of her son, but then the Falklands war was equally futile and it could be argued that WWII and WWI were not really our affairs either. No war is really justified and is merely, as Clausewitz stated, the continuation of politics by other means. Some people are unfortunate enough to get caught up in the front line, but no-one is forcing them (currently). Mothers and fathers, however, understandably need someone to blame and rage against so as to make sense of the loss. The media knows this and cynically manipulates them.

A sad note on which to end on Christmas Eve.

A parting bit of wisdom: what other people think of you is none of your business.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Jordan's Tech Support For Legal Fruit & Veg

Overheard in the Caravan:

Chairman (speaking to Vodafone Support): “Every time I use my Nokia mobile as a modem from my PC and try to get on the Interweb, I get the message SUBSCRIBE TO PACKET DATA FIRST.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Reconfigure your settings to such and such.”

Chairman: “Are you sure? I suspect it’s a network setting, hence the SUBSCRIBE TO PACKET DATA FIRST message.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Yes, definitely.”


Chairman (speaking to Vodafone Support): “Every time I use my Nokia mobile as a modem from my PC and try to get on the Interweb, I get the message SUBSCRIBE TO PACKET DATA FIRST. The previous guy told me to change my settings and it hasn’t worked. I think it’s a network setting.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Reconfigure your settings to such and such.”

Chairman: “Are you sure? I’m certain it’s a network setting. The message is a bit of a give-away.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Yes, definitely.”

Later still….

Chairman (speaking to Vodafone Support): “Every time I use my Nokia mobile as a modem from my PC and try to get on the Interweb, I get the message SUBSCRIBE TO PACKET DATA FIRST. The previous two cretins in Vodafone’s employ who I spoke to told me to change my configuration settings and it hasn’t worked – not that I expected it to. They probably expect pay rises this year. I really, really think it’s a network setting.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Yes, it’s definitely a network setting. Just let me subscribe you to packet data. There - try again in 5 minutes.”

Chairman: “You seem to be the only bugger there who knows what he’s talking about.”

Vodafone Tech Support Person: “Thank you.”

Chairman: “Is it too much to hope that this conversation is being recorded for training purposes?”

Every conceivable bugger I’ve every bought anything from on-line and every recruitment site that has my details is bombarding my mailbox with unwanted Christmas greetings. I wouldn’t mind if they were sincere, but my e-mail address is just one among hundreds of thousands and it pisses me off more than that Jordan (the model, not the country) phoning me every week and pestering me for a deep and meaningful relationship and asking me to come round for some bush tucker (at least that’s what I thought she said).

There’s a report in the Daily Mail (where else) that a judge has said wife-beaters should be publicly pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables. What a preposterous and ridiculous idea. You tell me exactly where, in these days of sell-by dates and public health concerns, one is meant to purchase rotten fruit and veg?

We cooked some spuds in the new wood burner last night – delicious. Will have to get a range for the house when it’s finished.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Manipulating Public Services

Hayley’s first winter inside the new house.

The days are lengthening at last!

Have you heard Parachute by Timothy B Schmit – ex member of Poco and The Eagles? Click on the link and play the track - pure Dad music with a fantastic air guitar solo. It’s so CSNY, but that’s not surprising as Graham Nash contributes heavily to the track.

Hay and I were talking about the Rage Against The Machine phenomenon. She’s of the opinion that it’s no more than a bunch of people sticking two fingers up at nothing in particular – which makes it very analogous to mindless graffiti, and not even Banksy graffiti. When all’s said and done the people who bought the X-Factor record bought it because they liked it; those who bought Rage Against The Machine did not necessarily like it one bit.

Who really cares of Simon Cowell dominates the charts at Christmas – he does so because people buy the records of the artists he manages. Simon Cowell is not to blame; people are just very easily manipulated. Manipulation has emerged triumphant on both sides of this little spat; no-one has won a victory that will change anything in a meaningful way. The only change will be that we’ll probably have the same bit of fun next year and it will become a quaint tradition. However, the people who organised this year’s mobfest will have to make the selection again year-after-year, or else there will be no direction on which track to focus the X-Factor counter culture and the effort will fizzle out like a scattergun. Anarchy needs leaders.

However, would we have had the Rolling Stones, Led Zep, Pink Floyd, the Police, CSNY, etc. if the music moguls had ruled the airwaves from ’64 to ’84, as they have done for the last 25 years. Perhaps it’s a warning shot across the bows of the moguls who seem fixated on eliminating edgy music.

The manipulation of perception is much underrated – who, 20 years ago, would have thought people would buy an fragrance called ‘Diesel’? I confidently predict that in within 20 years a large swathe of the population could be CONFIDENTLY wearing a fragrance called ‘Shit’.

Yesterday I was listening to the Chief Executive of Eurostar being interviewed several times over the day. For those from abroad, the Channel Tunnel Eurostar service was disrupted over the weekend due to bad weather and unforeseen problems with electronics malfunctioning in extreme conditions. Radio interviewers are increasingly becoming populist and very combative. It’s almost as if an apology is no longer acceptable and people who makes mistakes need to be publicly flogged in the town square or bunged into the Big Brother House for public humiliation. Failure to predict every conceivable scenario is no longer an option in public service. I’m not comfortable with this and it’s symptomatic of an intolerant society. It’s a replacement for gladiatorial contests, bear baiting, dog fighting and cock fighting.

Talking of which, the leaders of the major British political parties have agreed to a round of televised public debates in the lead up to the General Election. I vote for putting them in the Big Brother House, or Political X-Factor – which has already been mooted by Simon Cowell. The latter option is the only way in which you’d conceivably get me to watch anything with Simon Cowell's name attached to it.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Rage Against The Old Sodbury Hill

Woke to a 6 inch carpet of snow and the sound of lorries backing down the road as they discover they can’t get enough traction to climb the hill up to the A46. Until the snow clears, Old Sodbury will be filled with bewildered lorry drivers seeking shelter and sustenance. A veritable land of the living dead.

Someone local was letting off a barrage of fireworks last night. I guess it must be that quaint old English festival of Diwali. No doubt it will soon go the way of Maypoles and Morris Dancing.

There was an article in yesterday’s Sunday Times about alcohol now being cheaper than bottled water in many supermarkets. Self-appointed busybodies want the price of alcohol increased because of this. Rather than worrying about the low cost of alcohol, I’d be up in arms and protesting about the ridiculously high cost of simple water!

Fun run. How the devil did that name evolve? There’s nothing remotely funny or fun about torturing oneself running. Just look at the faces of the people doing these so-called fun runs.

I see Rage Against The Machine has made the Xmas No.1. This spontaneous public reaction against corporate greed and the monolithic pop culture is laudable, but it’s somewhat ironic to find Rage Against The Machine are signed to Epic Records, which is part of the monolithic Sony BMG, the same monolithic label as McElderry, the X-Factor winner. There’s simply no escaping the corporate grasp – even if you attempt to thwart its plans, you’re still swelling its coffers.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Warm As Toast

Hay and I fitted the new multi-fuel stove yesterday. Never been so warm! We had to leave the doors and windows open to clear the acrid fumes from the paint (the stove enamel has to cure on new stoves), and still the caravan was warm as toast. Banked it up at 11:30 pm and it was still belting out heat at 4 am. Despite it putting out twice the heat of the old pot-bellied job, we’re actually burning less wood as the burn is now controlled. Best buy ever for the caravan and highly recommended.

Friday, 18 December 2009

It's A Chill Wind.....

Couldn’t open my car door this morning. Blew into the lock to try and free it of ice and nearly ended up going to work on the bus with a Volvo stuck to my lips. Went back to the caravan, brought the dregs of my morning tea out and sloshed it over the lock, which freed it admirably.

The Chairman’s interminable round of Christmas parties, gallery openings, PR launches, film premieres and road range incidents start today; however, such is the lot of an international star like myself – jet-setting to Birkenhead, Dover, Salisbury and Hayle.

Got our works Christmas lunch at the Boar’s Head in Aust today– just under the start of the old Severn bridge on the M48 (the civilised side). Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? If the reviews are anything to go by then it should be a good venue. I don’t expect to return to the office till Monday – if then.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Hay and I were discussing Christmas songs last night. Here’s our top 10:

  1. Motorhead’s superb “Twinke Twinke Little Flame Thrower”,
  2. The Prodigy’s memorable “Light a Christmas Tube Train”,
  3. Led Zep’s immortal “Battle of Palestine”,
  4. Deep Purple’s poignant “Silent Black Night”,
  5. The Sex Pistos’ jokey “Chestnuts Roasting By The Open Pyre”,
  6. The Jackson 5’s ironic “White Christmas”,
  7. Toto’s vibrant “Hold The Pine”,
  8. The Pogues’ allegorical “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”,
  9. Leonard Cohen’s apposite “In The Bleak Midwinter”,
  10. Velvet Underground’s mystical “Good King Wenceslaus”.

If anyone gets the connection for No 10, then please respond. Perhaps I’m not the only one who thinks tangentially. Actually, if any fox you then get back to me. There is a logic to all of them.

A few posts ago I said that the best ever invention would be something that converted the thoughts of severely disabled people, such as those with locked-in-syndrome, into words, allowing them to communicate with the outside world. Seems scientists are nearly there.

British Airways cabin crew, the best paid in the UK airline business, are about to go on strike. BA stock has negative value and the company hasn’t paid a dividend in umpteen years. BA has been described as a pension deficit (£3.7bn) with an airline attached. BA posted a pre-tax loss of £401m last year and is on course to lose around £600m this year. Should BA go belly-up, as it undoubtedly will if this strike goes ahead, what becomes of the pensioners and the pension contributions of the staff who are about to walk out? Talk about turkeys voting for Christmas – this is simply suicide.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Merry Gingermas

My friend George from Down Under sent me this yesterday. It’s for all gingaphobes.

How’s this for a Christmas card?

My ‘brother-in-law’ Perry, for want of a better name (brother-in-law, not Perry), set up his camera on a tripod in the garden on a long exposure. Hay’s sister, Michelle, then took two lit sparklers and very quickly wrote Merry Christmas in the air. They then used the resultant image to make Christmas cards for all their family and friends. Neat idea, isn’t it? Apparently it took them several attempts to get it right. If you look closely at the right hand side of the image you can just make out a ghostly face above the final S of Christmas. ‘Shell called the picture ‘Playing With Fire’. That’s what you get when you cross an artist with a photographer.

We’ve ordered a larger wood burner so we don’t have to keep stoking up with wood every 30 minutes - it has a proper door instead of a 5 inch hole, meaning it will accept whole logs. It has the added advantage of being multi-fuel. Hopefully it will arrive today and we should have it installed by next week. It’s my Christmas present to us both. Well worth the £320.

The building progresses apace and we now have the scalpings filling the mud bath inside the house walls. Bricks have arrive for a 3 or 4 tier layer, following which we’ll call it a day until the weather warms up.

Feel like having a go at climate change sceptics? The Daily Express yesterday published a list of 100 reasons why climate change is a natural phenomenon. I wouldn’t mind, but most of the so-called ‘reasons’ have bugger all to do with the causes of climate change. Read this rebuttal in the New Scientist. It’s an excellent example of why you shouldn’t allow journalists – especially bad ones - to inform your choices.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

A Tuesday Mish-Mash Too

Remember Dr Stephen Venner, the Army bish who I reported on in yesterday’s post. Seems he’s had second thoughts and has apologised for his ill-advised pronouncement that the Taleban could be admired for their faith. He went on to say, "It was one small phrase in quite a long interview, and a phrase that simply said you cannot describe everybody under one heading as Taliban as being equally black, equally evil." Good God – that man has only just apologised for upsetting his entire flock while simultaneously vilifying every member of the black community by calling them evil! Are there no bounds to this man’s ability to shoot himself in the foot?

He added that soldiers had privately told him that they didn’t have enough equipment. Sadly, I don’t think there’s been an army in the history of armed conflict that’s been fully satisfied with the quality or amount of equipment they had available – it kind of goes hand-in-hand with budgeting for war on finite resources.

Someone has twatted that smug, slimy bastard Berlusconi, removed a couple of teeth from his botoxed face and rearranged the symmetry of his nose. Not before time too - give the perpetrator a medal! As for the brainless idiots who admire Berlusconi and voted for him…..

I’ve always thought the Italians strange coves. Remember Aldo Moro, the Italian ex PM who was kidnapped and then topped? He was killed by the Red Brigade, specifically by a chap called Mario Moretti, who for the crime of pumping 11 bullets into Moro’s chest received six life sentences. 15 years later he was released on parole and now works as an IT manager. For heaven’s sake – we hang, draw and quarter someone for littering the pavement or having the temerity to throw an egg at a politician. The Italians free their butchers and allow them to play with computers.

I have to say that there’s some speculation that Moretti was actually a government agent who had infiltrated the Red Brigade and had no choice in his action. The fact he was out within 15 years would seem to support the hypothesis.

Talking of mindless attacks, a 16 year-old kid has been convicted of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm after pouring a bottle of bleach over a woman in a restaurant. By all accounts she was having a meal with her kids and husband at the time. What I can’t understand is why her husband isn’t up for manslaughter of the 16 year-old.

A Tesco store has withdrawn a Christmas card that makes fun of ginger haired people following a complaint from a woman who has three ginger nuts as kids. The complainant said that the store would have been closed down had they sold cards that make fun of fat people. I don’t think so – she’s obviously not scanned the average birthday card collection in card shops. I’d be more worried about the kids having a totally humourless mother.

A friend told me of an innovative way of reducing your carbon footprint over Christmas. Send one Christmas card to the first person on your Christmas card list along with the list itself. The appended list should contain instructions to tick off their name and forward it to the next person on the list.

It struck me last night that my mother, who has dementia, is 87. If I take after her then I’m destined to live a long life, but not know it.

Got to start thinking about my Christmas Special post. It’ll be exactly the same as my normal posts, but closer to Christmas.

Monday, 14 December 2009

A Monday Mish-Mash

I’ve heard it all now as far as dredging the bottom of the televisual entertainment barrel is concerned. On Saturday evening we were (unsuccessfully) scanning the TV listings looking for something remotely interesting or intelligent to watch and spotted a programme called Young Mechanic Of The Year. Riveting stuff, I’ll wager. I can imagine the voice-over now – “And for our first nomination we have Dave Scoggins and his immortal Nissan Micra head gasket replacement from July 2009.”

The relentless proliferation of TV channels has presented us with our worst nightmare; wall-to-wall game shows, banal reality ‘documentaries’ covering the most inane rubbish imaginable and award shows celebrating terminal mediocrity in all its forms.

TV advertising revenue is a finite sum and the more channels it has to be spread over results in less revenue per channel. We’re now getting to the stage where the adverts are more interesting (and costly to produce) than the programmes they’re meant to finance. While an award for a good mechanic might be a laudable initiative, it has the entertainment value of a turd - even for the vast majority of motor mechanics. Next we’ll have Young Office Junior or Young Cloakroom Attendant Of The Year.

I confidently predict the emergence of the Award Show Awards within the next 12 months. It’s a sad indictment on society when the elimination of some total nonentity or C list celebrity from a game show becomes front page news on the BBC.

I’ve conceived of a new idea in domestic appliances that I want to take to James Dyson for development into a prototype – or even a number of prototypes. Ever noticed that no matter how clean your floor is, whenever you drop an item of food onto it the food will always have some detritus sticking to it? It could be fluff, grit or anything, but you’ll always have something adhering to it. Well, if you were to take a few thick banana slices, thread them onto a wire spindle and attach a long handle, you’d end up with the Banana Hoover that would collect every single piece of dirt from your carpets. You could extend the range of appliances with the Pork Chop Duster and the Buttered Toast Surface Cleaner. The added benefit is that the devices are bio-degradable.

The media is full of stories about the country being in deep financial poo and it’s going to cost every tax payer several thousand pounds. However, the debt has been caused by us lending banks squillions of pounds – money which isn’t actually real, but virtual money based on guarantees. Now if one lends people or companies money the quid pro quo is interest payments, which they are apparently now all paying off. This logically dictates that we’re making a profit on the transaction, as banks are now so bloody profitable as to be paying their people gigantic bonuses. So can someone tell me that the problem actually is? Seems to me that Gordon Brown has done a good deal. What am I missing? If there is a problem it can only be one of a temporary nature with liquidity.

The Archbishop of Cadbury has said that the government treats religious faith as an "eccentricity" practiced by "oddities". I’d say not just the government. In the UK religion is fast becoming one of those eccentric things practised only by the very poor or the aristocracy (or aspirant aristocracy), like hunting foxes on horseback, joining the yacht club on the basis of owning a skiff, building castles, sporting monocles and wearing cravats or lurid coloured corduroy trousers in bright green or salmon pink – and even then only by the RC moronity, sorry, minority.

While on the subject of religion, Stephen Venner, the new Archbishop of the Armed Forces has said the Taliban can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith. That’s like saying children should be admired for their faith in Father Christmas. Idiotic nonsense; blind faith is nothing to be admired, except perhaps the band comprising Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech.

Why are the police are always in flak-jackets? Doesn’t exactly endear them to the public when they come round to investigate the odd missing moggy, does it?

Here’s the Chairman’s tip for a flat stomach; lie on your back. Here’s Hay’s tip should you have a vegetarian to feed over Christmas; tell these sad people to pull themselves together and piss off home – after all it’s Christmas. Hay reckons she’s never met a vegetarian who doesn’t have deep, unresolved issues. If I’ve offended anyone, then tough.

Friday, 11 December 2009

That's Cooked Your Goose

Discovered this week that turkey for Christmas only came to be traditional during the ‘60s with a massive advertising campaign by American exporters and Mr ‘Booful’ Bernard Matthews. Prior to the 60s goose was the traditional fare. When you think about it, there’s not a single reference to a Christmas turkey in Dickens. It’s a bit like the red Santa, for which can again thank the Americans, as he was an invention of Coca Cola.

The problem with a goose is that it feeds fewer people and the breast is fairly slender. I had goose only once in my life, and delicious it was too (my grammar is starting to sounding like that of Yoda, it is).

Talking of cooking; saw an item on the news last night about a 40 odd stone guy who died of a heart attack. With his coffin he was over 50 stone, which was way in excess of the weight the crematorium could handle. Even the coffin was 40 inches too wide for the furdace doors. The family are apparently traumatised at finding out that the cremation couldn’t go ahead. You’d think someone in the family would have twigged. I can imagine the conversation with the family. “I’m sorry, but we’ve had to move the cremation to the local blast furnace – unless of course you’re willing to hold the cremation in two sessions.”

Apparently the cremation finally went ahead after the crem brought in some additional equipment. Just hope it wasn’t a chainsaw.

The family of this chap want crematoria to start catering for ‘larger people’. Can’t see them rebuilding for the sake of the couple of dozen humungous people they get through their books (or fires) every century or so. I certainly would not wish to pay several thousand more for a cremation because the crematorium had to finance cavernous furnaces.

Had to laugh last night when an advert came on for the Iceland frozen food shops. She commented that it is perceived as the chav M&S.

Badger’s End is starting to look more like the beginnings of a house. This was what the new skating rink looked like last week:

And this is what it looked like yesterday afternoon:

Thursday, 10 December 2009

It's The News Headlines - Kind Of

I’ve thought of a new game. Interpreting the BBC website news headlines.

Saw a headline yesterday that had me worried - Children's boss axed after death. I thought chopping someone up after they are dead a tad barbaric and a definite backward move in execution techniques. As it transpires, the headline was a bit mangled and the story had nothing to do with hanging, drawing and quartering.

Here’s another - Priory ruins get lottery makeover. Apparently it’s nothing to do with high-profile celebs in rehab at the Priory Clinic getting botox; nor is Troops march through city centre anything to do with the BNP “Gettin' Jiggy wit’ It” down in Bradford and sending in the black-shirts.

Mother murdered over family home has nothing to do with an air-rage incident on an EasyJet flight over Luton and Pregnancy parking bays discussed does not involve a plan by an NHS hospital to deliver babies in the car park.

Scots curlers slip to Norway loss is not a story about an international hairdressing competition and S Korea to build homes in Ghana has nothing to do with plans for the world’s longest commute to work.

India to 'fence' naval harbours is not a story about India planning to sell stolen harbours and New drug threat to Asian vultures has nothing whatsoever to do with Asian bankers finding new recreational drugs.

Nine children's services 'poor' – what? Only nine children are providing services? Get the buggers up the chimneys! School cash worth two GCSEs – so you can now bribe your school to award GCSEs in return for a bung?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Bin Laden - What a Tiger

Heard a strange story on the news yesterday. The item was about tackling Islamic fundamentalism in Britain and possible terrorism arising from it. A reporter was saying that Muslims feel isolated due to all the attention being on them and not right-wing terrorism. If Islamic fundamentalism isn’t right-wing, then what the hell is? You can’t get more right-wing than the concept of a world Islamic state where no-one has any freedom of conscience.

Why does no Grand Mufti or Grand Poobah pronounce a fatwa of death on all al Qaeda members? They seem to have no compunction about killing innocent fellow Muslims, which I thought was anathema within Islam. Suicide too is forbidden in Islam. Poor old Salman Rushdie only wrote a bloody book and hey, every Grand Heirophant was busy fatwaing him and calling for his death!

A top US general is saying al Qaeda will never be defeated until Bin Laden is killed or captured. I wonder what will happen if Bin Laden is ever captured as he couldn’t possibly be kept alive in any jail as he’s simply too dangerous to be allowed to live.

Talking of Islam, I commend to you this article from The Sunday Times by Rod Liddle. Liddle is funny, as well as observant and incisive – a more cerebral version of Jeremy Clarkson. His humour is my kind of humour.

Given the number of women coming out of the woodwork that Tiger Woods must be an absolute stud. Told Hay she should get in on the act and post a claim. Might be a few bob in it from The Watchtower. Might even stake a claim myself.

That blasted Dettol advert is getting on my tits again. “Dettol kills 99% of all household germs,” says the advert, with a shot of some flu infested kid leaving flu viruses on the banister for his young sister to collect. Wipe the banister in Dettol and within 24 hours you have a colony of Dettol-resistant superbugs taking over your property. The best cure for flu is to get it – unless of course it’s a Dettol-resistant killer variety.

I’ve had the Donate button on my blog for a couple of months now, but no bugger has seen fit to give me even 50p. you’d think that all the joy I bring to my readers that at least one person would give me an advance on a book. Tightwads! Just in case you don’t know where it is, look down the right-hand side and scroll down till you see it (he says in hope).

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Dictators & Marriage

It’s ironic how the Iranian revolution of 1979 was initiated by students in an attempt to get rid of the Shah, who was a virtual dictator. All they succeeded in doing was replacing one dictatorial regime with another possibly even more repressive one - and history seems to be determined to try and repeat itself.

Talking of dictators, in a pre-election battle Harriet Harman is accusing David Cameron of planning to reward philanderers on their second or third marriages with tax breaks for married couples, while stigmatising former wives left to bring up the children. Why is it automatically assumed that when a couple divorce it’s the man who is the philanderer?

Harriet Harman happens to be the Minister for Women. Do we have a Minister for Men?

I have problems with tax breaks for married couples anyway – surely it’s discriminatory? I also have problems withy people who try to persuade couples to marry on the basis that it makes couples happier and more likely to stay together. Couples marry precisely because they are happy to start with; marriage itself does not confer happiness in some mysterious way. It’s a prime example if reverse logic being applied by the stupid. It’s like saying that if no-one married then the divorce statistics would improve, or if we had no customers then our customer complaints would drop.

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Wheel

Something for my male readers.

It’s a sobering thought when you consider that whereas anatomically modern man and woman have been around for 150,000 years, 143,000 of those were spent without the benefit of the wheel.

For no particular reason, I was thinking about wheels over the weekend. Consider how the weight of a car is transmitted to the ground from the axle by a wheel. Sense dictates that the weight is supported by the strength of the metal in the wheel between the axle and the ground- i.e. the forces act downward in a direct line (allowing for the fact that a tyre is hollow), and is a result of the metal being in compression.

However, now consider the wire wheel. There’s no way that a few spokes of thin metal can support such weight, especially as metal under compression is quite unstable and can bend easily. What’s happening in a wire wheel is that the axle is actually hanging on the spokes at the top of the wheel – those spokes being under tension - with the force then being transmitted around the wheel’s rim to the ground. It seems counter-intuitive at first, but makes sense the more you think about it.

Taking this concept to its limit, there’s no reason why you can’t have a wheel with spokes made from chain-link – providing it’s not going to move from rest, as chain-link is not the best thing at translating rotary motion to forward motion. There again, neither are thin spokes, which is why they are set at an angle.

This had never struck me before I thought more deeply about how a wheel actually works.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Ho, Bloody Ho!

Here’s a time-saving tip that I’ve introduced at work. Rather than buying every bugger at work a Christmas card, put out an announcement that everyone should chuck £5 (or whatever in your local denomination) into a kitty and give it to the charity of your choice. Everyone will be delighted they don’t have to sit there for hours writing several dozen Christmas cards to people they don’t necessarily like and which will simply litter the office. We’ve raised £80 this way, which is a damned sight more than the charities would get from the sale of 240 charity Christmas cards once their costs had been taken into account.

Damned sight – interesting expression. Comes from the archaic expression ‘damn your eyes’. Once your eyes are damned you have damned sight.

A fake Christmas tree in Poole, Dorset, has been vandalised. Now the fake eyesore was installed by the local council under health and safety grounds; however, before we start banging on about the clipboard army of H&S advisors who ruin everything from bonfire parties to school trips, consider that the old traditional tree had a very real, although small, risk of toppling over and injuring someone. Given the litigious nature of people these days, it would be entirely likely that if it fell on some random arsehole layabout who permanently exists on social security, and he or she would probably sue the council for millions, despite suffering no more than a light dusting of pine needles and a bruised ego. I’d rather have a fake Christmas tree than line the ermine-trimmed pockets of the no-win-no-fee brigade and someone who is not prepared to accept a Christmas tree on the head and a broken neck in the spirit of the season.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright

The tabloids are filled with lurid allegations about Tiger Woods’ personal life from some self-seeking, renta-gob tart. Why oh why do tabloids revel in destroying people’s lives just to make a bit of dosh and put cash into the hands of repulsive kiss and tell gob-shites? You could say that if the allegations are true then Tiger is the architect of his own downfall, but assistance from the gutter-press is merely the worst example of schadenfreude. It’s not as if he courts exposure, unlike some of those hideous celebs who have no talent whatsoever and thrive on nothing more tangible than notoriety. The media and the public don’t own Tiger Woods. There, but for the grace of God, go many.

I was watching something on TV last night about UK bank charges, which has caused a bit pof a furore here following the bail-out of the banks earlier in the year. Interviewees were moaning about the fact that they have to pay increased fees when they go overdrawn. The solution is simply – DON’T BLOODY WELL GO OVERDRAWN. I can do it, so why do others find it so damned difficult? It’s not as if these people who are moaning look as if they’re on the bread-line.

Talking of bailed-out banks - the directors of Royal Bank of Scotland are threatening to resign if the government stops them paying bonuses of £1.5bn to staff in its investment arm. If I were the government I’d most certainly call their collective bluff. Making money in the City is not exactly something that takes great intelligence or skill – it involved nothing more complex than having the balls to gamble at incredible odds with other people’s money in the hope of getting a fabulous short-term reward, i.e. what got us into this global pickle in the first place. I could do that with no bonus. One sure-fire way of combating CO2 emissions is to curb all the hot air and righteous indignation emanating from bank board rooms.

Ever seen the Carol Vorderman porn video?

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

'Tis The Season

I learned yesterday that the town a couple of miles down the road, Yate, had its Christmas lights turned on by Peter Andre. That just about sums up Yate.

Portishead chose Nigel Parker, a local Homebase shop assistant who is apparently one of the nicest men on the planet and renowned for his customer service skills and general cheeriness. An excellent choice!

I’m waiting for Old Sodbury to choose this old sod to switch on their single Christmas candle. My offer to play the part of Baby Jesus in the school nativity was turned down for some inexplicable reason. Probably ageism.

We’re having an extended family Christmas dinner up the road at The Dog on the evening of the 23rd, which is a bit of a pisser for the poor bastard who gets to receive my blood donation that I’m due to give on Christmas Eve. Just hope it’s some old wino.

We’ve booked a barn in the back end of beyond in Cornwall for the New Year week. It will probably be pissing down with rain and a howling gale will be blowing. Deep joy! At least I’ll have one of my young sons with me and the rest of Hay’s family. Last year we had a house in St Ives for the Christmas week and it was idyllic. This place is on a country road, meaning you can’t even go for a walk without risking being mown down by traffic.

To finish, here’s a topical cooking tip from The Chairman. For a really succulent and moist turkey this Christmas (unless you’re from out American colonies, in which case you’ll have had more than enough turkey already) give it a good colonic irrigation before cooking. Bon app├ętit.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A Cold Snap

Global warming has frozen the cross-shaped lake that has formed over the foundations for our new house. The shower cut-out this morning as I was in mid soap due to the water pipe supplying the caravan having frozen overnight.

Colin and Barry are hoping to start the blockwork for the base next week, but they'll need a submersible pump to drain the lake first.