Sunday, 31 October 2010

Recipes for Disaster

Overheard in the caravan:

Hay: “I really want to try that Nigella recipe we saw the other night – the one where she used chicken thighs, chorizo and…..”

Chairman: “…baby oil and rubbed herself all over with them?”

Friday, 29 October 2010


Overheard in the caravan:

Chairman: “Are you going to put some brown sauce in the beef stew?”

Hay: “Certainly not. It tastes……”

Chairman: “Northern?”

Hay: “….of Accrington!”

Chairman: “I’ll have you know the Queen uses it – HP Sauce is by Royal Appointment.”

Hay: “Oh, so Mrs Queen uses it in her kitchen when she’s making a hotpot for the corgis, does she?”

Overheard in the supermarket car park:

(A tiny lady driving a Shogun Sport Warrior Destructo-thunder Intimidator was struggling to enter the traffic flow…..)

Hay: “Mmm – you just need one of those when you’re dropping Chloe and Ptolemy off at their school or dashing into M&S to buy cinnamon and gooseberry yoghurt with preserved badger spleens, as you never know when a rhino will come bowling out in front of you from behind a parked car.”

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Boss Black

It’s strange, but it takes more firewood to keep the caravan warm on a relatively mild day than on a bitterly cold one. The reason for this is the correlation between sunshine and bitter cold; with 4 south-facing windows we get a greenhouse effect inside the caravan when the sun shines, meaning we don’t need the stove on during daylight hours. On duller, yet slightly warmer days there is no greenhouse effect and we need to keep the fire going all day. Strange, but true.

I can’t help thinking that the London firefighters going on strike on Guy Fawkes Night is some elaborate, yet misguided, public sector betting initiative concerning wagers on which major landmark will go up in smoke first. Hang on though, it could also be part of a diabolical ConDem plan for the social cleansing of the urban poor by allowing their council hovels to burn to the ground when their cigarettes burn to a stub and ignite their sofas while they are slumped insensible in a drunken stupor due to imbibing too many cans of Tenant’s Extra.

Talking of the ConDems, I had to laugh yesterday: I was doing a modicum of research into Hugo Boss, the German designer label, and was amused to discover that Hugo personally supplied the uniforms below.

Hugo was the official supplier of uniforms to the SA, SS, Hitler Youth, NSKK and other Party organisations. To meet demand in later years of the war, Boss used forced labour from Poland and France. Now you know what inspired Boss Black.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Sartorial Excrement

Spotted a lovely lambs wool waistcoat in Lidle yesterday. As you can see from the photo, the item is unisex and I was momentarily overcome by a sudden urge to utterly destroy any remaining semblance of self-respect and sartorial elegance I may have. Almost immediately a feeling of sanity descended on my mind and I walked away.

What I want to know is how much they have to pay the male models to model this item of clothing. The guy pictured must be a millionaire, as there is no way on this earth you would get me to don this hideous apparel – even for a bet.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Mature Pensions

Vince ‘The Knife’ Cable is set to perform a ‘radical overhaul’ of the pension system. That probably means leaving it in the care of an NHS agency nurse and allowing her to pull the plug on it.

I am certainly not looking forward to having to wait till I’m 67 before receiving my state pension, by which time the government of the day will probably have brought down the age of compulsory death.

I can’t understand the French students rioting over the pension situation there – a pension was the last thing on my mind as a student, as I considered myself immortal. Either the French students are extraordinarily mature, or they just want an excuse to riot. I cynically suspect the latter.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Charity Starts at Home

As my regular readers will know, Hay and I buy the vast majority of our clothes from charity shops – specifically those in support of St Peter’s Hospice in Bristol - which sell extremely high quality goods (invariably new) and are decked out more like up-market clothes shops than charity shops. It does start to worry me though when I start complaining that a brand new pair of Wranger jeans is rather expensive at £4.50.

No. 1 son is at the opposite end of the spectrum and is showing signs of becoming an Alan Sugar clone; he’s taken to buying sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks and selling them at school at over 50% margin (100% mark-up). He maintains he only sells them to fat kids.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

This 'n' That

The Yate town centre Christmas tree has been up for the last 3 or 4 weeks – I think it was erected before the end of September. We’ve not even had Halloween or Bonfire Night yet and the shops are already blaring out tacky Christmas songs.

Yesterday’s papers were all spouting envy dressed up as faux outrage over Rooney’s £50m 5 year deal with Manchester United. What they forget is that someone, somewhere has made the decision that it’s a financially viable investment that will make a return – it’s called market economics and it’s what makes the world go round – except in totalitarian regimes. I say to Rooney, “Well done, I wish I could do something worth £10m a year.”

I note that many, many months after vehement outrage that the local sub-Post Office franchise was to be withdrawn and the charge that the hub of the community would be forced to close as a consequence, it is still functioning very well as a local grocery shop.

Nick Clegg has apparently been searching his conscience over the government funding cuts made by the ConDem alliance. All I can say is that his conscience must be a very small place.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Meaning of Irony

I captured this image in the local supermarket checkout line yesterday.

Obviously the word irony has no meaning for this lady, especially as she was purchasing the healthy option of a pizza and 3 bars of chocolate.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The French Plague

While selecting some logs for the wood burner yesterday I noticed a large pile of sawdust. One of the logs was riddled with woodworm – not exactly what I need with an oak framed house a few yards away from the log shed.

Hay said the woodworm would not be a problem as the oak is French and no self-respecting British woodworm would be seen dead eating French wood.

Excitable chaps, the French. Our government pushes up the retirement age and we have a moan about it over a cup of tea; the French start burning cars and engaging in suicide pacts with their unions. They used to call strikes the British disease – they have become the French plague.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Split Assets

The UK’s Supreme Court (my God, that sounds so American and does not trip easily from my tongue) has ruled that a German heiress’ pre-nuptial agreement is valid in the UK.

What idiot first thought up the assumption that when a married couple split everything is shared equally? For heaven’s sake, decisions to marry are usually taken when the balance of one’s mind is disturbed; it’s under the influence of dopamine, phenylethylamine and oxytocin. The effect floods virtually all of the brain 'clouding out' other thoughts and leaving the unfortunate sufferer unable to make any reasoned assessment of the suitability of the loved one.

I wonder whether that could be used as a just cause for divorce? Can’t see why not!

It is eminently fair and logical that each party should be able to exit a relationship with what they brought to it at the start, rather than the estate being split equally in its entirety. Sure, split anything accumulated following the marriage, but not that accumulated severally and independently before succumbing to a chemical cacophony.

The worrying thing is that the decision was 8:1, meaning the issue is not clear-cut and open to opinion. Seems they make up the law as they go along.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Rampant Excess

I hung my Swiss Tonis on the redundant curtain pole to dry over the wood burner (they're the ones I use for walking on water). Hay enquired if this was the Chairman’s coat of arms – supporters of Swiss Tonis rampant on a murrey bath towel field with a stovepipe sable.

We were in Cirencester over the weekend and I spotted this as an example of rampant excess – a rubber, designer washing up bowl for 60 quid (reduced to £44.96 in the sale).

Anyone who buys this needs their bumps feeling, surely? Here's another one in pink.

This example below seems adequately suited to the task in hand and is available for the princely sum of only £1.99.

However, having said that, what is the point of a plastic (or rubber) liner for a sink, which itself is specifically designed for washing things in?

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Topping Out

Yesterday saw all the oakwork finished. Note the topping out sprig of oak on the peak.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Smoking Bugs in Chile

It struck me yesterday that my father died aged 86 and my mother recently died aged 89. Both were inveterate smokers till very late in life. Let that be a salutary lesson to all you smokers out there – stop now else you too could be carried away at such a tragically young age. The strange thing is that they both passed away within a few years of giving up the weed.

The UK's critical infrastructure - such as power grids and emergency services - faces a "real and credible" threat of cyber attack, the head of GCHQ says. I suspect the main threat comes from the under 12s who, armed with nothing more offensive than a Facebook and Twitter account, have been targeting government workers and persuading them to post irrelevant comments about the minutiae of their boring and tawdry lives on social networking sites every five minutes, rather than actually doing any work. The threat is not considered to come from hostile governments, as their workers are probably every bit as incompetent as our own – if not more so.

I wonder if any of the Chilean miners were eaten by the rest. We’ll only know when they do the final count.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Lid Goes On

Well, they're starting to put the lid on the house today. The oak trusses are simply gorgeous!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

I'm As Undeserving As the Next Person

I think I’ve detected a programming bug in the fabric of reality – it’s actually nothing like Facebook.

Having had a day or two to consider Dave’s plan to hand my child benefit (since when was having children a benefit?) to married couples, I’m becoming increasingly miffed. Why take money from one bunch of non-deserving people and arbitrarily hand it straight to another bunch of non-deserving people? It’s sheer lunacy – after all, I’m just as non-deserving as a married person. It’s discriminatory in the extreme as well.

We have calculated that when the Caravans pass on and Hay inherits their house, if I register as sole occupier of our house and Hay registers as sole occupier of the inherited house, we would stand to recoup vastly more in terms of Council Tax reductions than we’d gain from a marriage tax break in the instance of us getting hitched. It’s entirely legal too.

Why do married couples need a tax break? Everyone knows it’s cheaper to live as a couple than individually, thus by the strict rules of logic the buggers should be taxed more! Co-habiting couples too – but that’s harder for the taxman to detect.

With all this talk about cuts, I wonder if Dave is going to abolish the entirely useless role of Deputy Prime Minister? Constitutionally the DPM doesn’t assume the powers of the Prime Minister in the latter's absence or illness, nor does the DPM automatically succeed the Prime Minister should the latter be incapacitated or resign from the leadership of his or her political party. It’s a QuANGO of one.

Clegg, as the incumbent DPM, has stated he will share Chevening House with William Haig as his grace and favour country residence. I wonder if these perks will disappear in the cuts?

A modest 115 room semi on an estate, used by Clegg and Haig.

Friday, 8 October 2010

In Memoriam - Mum

It’s about time my mother received her immortalisation on the interweb.

In memory of Elizabeth van Bergen, nee Bamber
11th March 1921 – 7th October 2010
Died peacefully at Dovehaven nursing home, Southport

That’s her on the left – the last of the Bamber triplets.

Here she is aged 20, doing her bit in WWII.

She lives on in her family’s memories.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Smoking Your Way to a Long Life

Charlie, a chimpanzee famous for smoking cigarettes, has died at a South African zoo at the ripe old age of 52, which is the chimp equivalent of eleventyone.

Doubtless Gallaher and British American Tobacco will be hailing cigs as the new elixir of life.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Marriage Benefit of a Tamarind Nature

I wonder whether there are any builders who listen to Radio 4 or Classic FM when going about their business? One can but hope.

Apropos of yesterday’s post concerning the government’s plan to rob me of £20 a week in child benefit; while I don’t mind being bereft of benefit, I to take exception to the ConDem’s latest wheeze, which is to hand most of it over to unhappily married, monogamous, Christian Daily Mail readers. Why, for God’s sake? If I am to be raided, then for heaven’s sake use it to pay off the deficit and not to encourage people to engage in quaint, anachronistic rituals involving precious metals.

I suggested to Hay that I engage in a polygamous marriage so we can claim double-bubble.

I was having a rummage through the fridge yesterday and found some tamarind paste. Not being 100% familiar with the stuff I looked it up. Believe it or not, this treacle-like substance is anthelminthic, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, good for asthma, an astringent, works on bacterial skin infections and boils, is useful for chest pain, cholesterol metabolism disorders, colds, colic, conjunctivitis, constipation (chronic or acute), diabetes, diarrhoea (chronic), dry eyes, dysentery (severe diarrhoea), eye inflammation, fever, is a food preservative and colourant, is beneficial for gallbladder disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, gingivitis, haemorrhoids, indigestion, insecticide, jaundice, keratitis, leprosy, liver disorders, nausea and vomiting, paralysis, poisoning, rash, rheumatism, saliva production, skin disinfectant/sterilization, sore throat, sores, sprains, sunscreen, sunstroke, swelling (joints), urinary stones and wound healing.

From the above it’s a regular miracle substance, so I scoffed a couple of spoons of it. I then spotted that excessive consumption has a laxative effect.

By all accounts it’s also used in Asia as a brass cleaner.

Given Kitty’s penchant for dismembering voles on the caravan’s carpet, I tried to explain to her the concept of non-existence yesterday – more as a threat than anything. She didn’t get it at all – it was like talking to a brick wall. A totally wasted 5 minutes.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Child Benefit & Insolence

The UK government is to take away child benefit payments from families where one parent earns more than £44k.

I’m afraid they’ve got it all wrong!

As a general rule, one’s earning capacity correlates with one’s intelligence, or at the very least one’s education – except of course for academics and drug dealers, where the correlation is reversed. It therefore makes sense that child benefit payments should be paid only to those earning more than £44k, thereby disincentivising the dull and the stupid from reproducing at the tax-payer’s expense and encouraging the nation’s bankers (who are the epitome of probity) and yummy mummies to replicate.

Obviously, not all those earning less than £44k are unintelligent, thus Simon Cowell could start an X-Factor style TV program where low earners can compete in intelligence tests to get child benefit dispensation certificates.

The fly in the ointment would be that only the terminally dull and stupid would enter the contest or watch the program.

It has always struck me as somewhat illogical that the better off are paid child benefit when its express purpose is to assist in defraying the cost of bringing up children – a cost which the better off are, by definition, not as affected by as the less well off.

Of late Kitty has been bringing voles into the caravan and then eviscerating them on the carpet. I had a stern word with her this morning but she totally ignored me. I interpreted her resolute silence as insolence.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Joinery on a Large Scale

I'm not the least bit communicative today, so I'll leave you with some more of the joinery going on in our field.

Friday, 1 October 2010

The Lucas Gene

There was something on the TV last night about Holbein and his portrait of Christina of Denmark. Christina was at one time considered by Henry VIII as a possible consort, but given Henry’s predilection for severing his wives’ heads, Christina, quite understandably, wasn’t too enamoured of the match.

I have seen this portrait many times, but I was suddenly struck at Christina’s resemblance to Matt Lucas.

Lucas (left), Christina of Denmark (right)

Driving home I heard a report on a recent study into ADHD and possible genetic links, which have apparently been over-hyped. Some Australian millionaire was interviewed and was waxing lyrical about how the syndrome must be genetic, as he had it, his father had it and his grandfather had it.

To ascribe something to genes on the basis of it occurring in families is like saying the root causes of obesity, religious belief, political affiliation and poverty are genetic.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the study actually shows no such thing.

People would love for there to be a genetic link, as it absolves them of any responsibility for having badly behaved kids - an example of the victim culture that’s pervading our society.