Saturday, 31 December 2011

It's All About Me, Me, Me

Another year is about the start.

  • Economists have become the new gurus and shamen of society; economics the new religion.
  • Marriage is used by celebrities to draw attention to themselves; and cynically cast aside once the objective has been achieved.
  • Avarice and greed is as prevalent as ever in all corners of society.
  • Ex gang member, Kim Jong-un, named as knight commander of the army in New Year Honours List.

May I wish you all a peaceful and contented New Year.

Friday, 30 December 2011

The Political Message

Ed Miliband says in his new year message that the Labour Party must show there is an alternative to rising unemployment and falling living standards – namely strikes and double pay!

Cameron will respond on behalf of the Tories by saying that if every working person shot an unemployed or poor person, poverty and unemployment would be eliminated.

Glegg will go on holiday to somewhere warm.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Prince Kim

Am I the only one to think it strange that Prince Philip was only let out of hospital just before Kim Il Jong’s funeral? 

Was Kim’s brain removed before brain death occurred, chilled and then transplanted into the body of Prince Philip shortly after he was admitted to hospital? 

Too much of a coincidence, if you ask me.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Automotive Life in the Cotswolds

The aftermath of Boxing Day at the local roundabout. Obviously someone decided to have a bit of a race along the dual carriageway.

This chap obviously didn't consult the dictionary before advertising his chimney wares on his van.

Heard someone on the radio just now say that risk has become a 4 letter word for business. As far as I know, it has always been a 4 letter word. A bit like Flus - whatever that may be.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Death of Cheese

Don’t you just hate being served supermarket stilton straight from the fridge? Unless left out at room temperature for a few days, supermarket stilton tastes like soap. Supermarkets, and some eating establishments, seem oblivious to the fact cheese is a living thing and, like most living things, needs a modicum of warmth to remain alive.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Thick as a Christmas Pudding

I was listening to some woman on the radio this morning telling us that because people still engage in fox hunting, the ban on hunting animals from horseback should be repealed, as it's plainly not working.

That's a bit like saying the laws against murder should be repealed as people are still murdered. Can't help but think the people who support fox hunting from horseback are a bit thick - or desperate.

Seems tube drivers are joining the ranks of rioters and bankers as some of the most hated people in the UK due to them bringing London to a halt today in pursuit of triple pay for working today (payment for working today is already accounted for in their salary). I suggest that instead, London Underground make both Christmas Day AND Boxing Day non-travel days (it's not as if the population couldn't handle it), and deduct an extra day's pay from the drivers' salaries. If they don't want to work on Boxing Day, then don't force them - but don't pay them either.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

All that Glisters

You know those reclining chairs that are always being advertised on TV for people with bad backs? Why do the manufacturers insist on covering them in fabrics that are so hideous you can only find them on market stalls?  

I see Prince Philip decided to stay in hospital rather than gathering with that viper’s nest, lovingly referred to as the bosom of the family. Can’t say I blame him – I’d rather be in a private room with my every whim being catered for – oh, hang on, doesn’t he get that anyway wherever he is? 

The Pope, resplendent in his glittering, bejeweled, red and cream, rhinestone-encrusted robes, complained last night about all the Christmas glitter. If the Roman Catholic church is known for one thing (other than systematic child abuse and its support for totalitarianism), it’s camp glitter and overbearing pomp.

In his Christmas sermon, the Archbishop of Cadbury will lament the abuse of trust. Perhaps he was talking about the Catholic church.

I wonder when the supermarket bosses are going to come out with Christmas sermons berating the church’s over-spiritualisation of Christmas and its incessant focus on non-existent folk magic. 

I seriously think it's about time that the mid-winter festival got back to its roots - a celebration centred on community, feasting and the giving of presents to lift our spirits and gird us for the remaining few dark months till spring arrives once more.

Off to buy myself a wassail.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Solar Powered Bums & Breasts

We are now generating solar electricity, but it’s not actually productive yet as it’s not hooked up to anything.

Yesterday I was pondering on why the human is the only mammal that wipes its bum. I reached the conclusion that it must be because of all the crap (if you’ll forgive the analogy) the average digestive system and lower intestine has to put up with – more so these days than hundreds of years ago. A bit of an indictment on the modern diet, I’d say. 

Apropos of the above, it seems that TV over this year’s festive period has nothing to offer but programmes about how to make a turkey dinner. Every celebrity chef in the country seems to be cashing in on the act. The rest of the schedule comprises Christmas editions of the vacuous game shows that are on the box every day of the week, or the same old hackneyed films that appeal only to the morbidly dull or very young children (solely on the basis that they've never seen them before). Even the Royal Society's Christmas lectures have, in succeeding years, been relegated to ever more obscure channels - I'm not even sure they're on TV this year (they've probably been replaced by a vapid, so-called 'documentary' on a day on the life of an Eddie Stobart truck - riveting!) TV these days panders to the lowest common denominator - i.e. those who would be intellectually challenged by a Christmas card.

The irony of this debacle over illegal French breast implants is that women have these things inserted into their bodies in the belief it makes them more attractive to men, but I think the majority of men would actually be put off by the knowledge that a woman had prosthetic augmentation – I know I would - I'd feel short changed. The mere fact a woman would contemplate it would be enough to put me off.

What's the betting that Prince Philip will be either driving a horse and carriage around Sandringham like a maniac by teatime, or dead?

I want to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very happy Yuletide, or if any are practising Christians (there may still be one or two), a merry Christmas.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Common Dictatorial Currency of Praise

Here’s a novel idea; I propose a currency union between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, in order to work this would require a political union between the 4 countries. The obstacles to that are Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Should Scotland secede from the Union, I wonder what the currency would be and how stable it would prove. Perhaps they could peg it to the deep-fried Mars Bar. 

Northern Irish? It would have to be the Euro. 

The Welsh could go back to a man’s worth being defined by the size of his flock of sheep. 

Heard this on the interweb yesterday; some bloke was chatting to his sister in Welsh on his mobile phone when someone started pointing and shouted; “It's because of you bloody Poles that we can't get jobs in our own country!" 

The Iraqis seem intent on murdering each other now the American have left. At least they’re doing it democratically and in the name of God. Although hang on – anything done in the name of God is usually totalitarian in design. What they need is a strong dictator to impose peace and stability, someone like - oh I don’t know - Saddam Hussein (to pick a random name from the air). 

Could have sworn I saw an image of the face of Kim Jong Il on my piece of toast this morning. The birds were definitely all singing his praise.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Partnership Issues of Celebs

Could a bloke who is married to a woman called Sybil be said to be in a Sybil partnership?

Is it a sign of getting old when you don't recognise half the celebs John Colshaw & Co are doing impression of?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Ethics of Denial Policing in Munich

I was listening to the theoretical physicist Jim Al Kalili interviewing Lord Robert Winston on Radio 4 yesterday morning as part of the Life in Science series. When questioned on ethics, Winston said that science graduates should be taught ethics in the same manner it comprises part of the medical degree. I agree, but I also think theology students destined for the church should be taught ethics in a manner in which the subject actually sinks in.

Rock star Jon Bon Jovi has apparently denied reports that he is dead. Well, of course he'd deny it, but I'm afraid I simply don't believe him...nor do I believe Piers Morgan.

The Joe Stalin Wing of the Inspectorate of Constabulary has said that police should have filled the arsonists during the summer rioting in England with lead and just mowed them down. It is believed they also recommend the waterboarding of suspects - and by 'suspects' they meant anyone within a 50 mile radius.

Meanwhile every insurance salesman under the sun has sent their cv to Munich Re in the hope of getting a job there.

I see Argentina is flexing its muscles again over the Falklands. While espousing human rights, the Argentine president is seeking only to establish sovereignty over the natural resources and to hell with the locals. The following chart shown the limit of the Argentine claim (you might have to click on it to enlarge).

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Unstable, Alcoholic, Married Women

You know how women, even if they're incredibly tall, all have smaller feet than the equivalent sized man? Well, I was arguing with Hay (who is 6 feet tall and a size 6) that this must make then inherently unstable.

Hay replied that women have a lower centre of gravity than men and this must surely compensate for the instability.

What's your opinion?

I see Cameron is intent on injecting some quantitative easing into the divorce courts by encouraging happily unmarried couples to put pecuniary advantage to the fore through tax incentives if they marry. What a silly man! Everyone knows the divorce courts are rife with married couples and that unmarried couples never divorce.

Talking of statistics; it is said that 25% of all road accidents involve alcohol. That must logically mean that 75% must involve water, tea, coffee or soft drinks. A sobering thought in this festive season!

The builders have been busy for the last week putting the electrics in the house. Within the next couple of days we're expecting delivery of some 4kWs of solar PV panels and the makings of the under floor heating system. The builder swears we'll be able to move in within 3 months, albeit into an unfinished house, but I doubt it somehow. I'm bargaining on another year in the caravan.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Ripping-off Yarns

Do Kindle books come in hardback and paperback versions, and if so, are they priced differently?

I was reading an article which claims that Kindle e-books are 9% more expensive than the equivalent paper book, rising to 11% when only paperbacks are considered.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

It's the Economy, Stupid!

An open-air market in Salford has been closed because more fake goods were being sold than legitimate products. Experts say this illicit trade costs the UK economy around £1.3bn a year. Items being sold at the market included fake branded clothing, designer jewellery and GHD hair straighteners.

What I can't understand is this supposed economic cost of £1.3bn that these experts claim, as the people who buy the fake stuff at knock down prices are highly unlikely to buy the genuine article in the first place - especially in Salford. For example, a genuine pair of these hair straighteners are about a hundred quid, which is obscene.

The action of closing down the market is to actually take some £2m out of the economy (the value of the goods seized), and the reason the market was closed is due to copyright infringement, not because of an illusory and non-existent cost to the economy.

The irony is that the economy has actually suffered because the market was closed down, and those selling the counterfeit goods will now be drawing Jobseekers' Allowance - mind you, they were probably drawing it already.

The double irony is that these counterfeit goods are cheap, shoddy copies of what are invariably expensive, shoddy items.

Are we the only people not to have watched Strictly Come Dancing last night?

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Judge Not

Bishop David Cameron has said the UK is a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so.

In a speech in Oxford on the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, the bishop minister called for a revival of traditional Christian values to counter Britain's moral collapse.

I guess he means those traditional Christian values of homophobia, bigotry, self-righteousness, intolerance and selectively adhering only to those bits of The Christian Law (i.e. Bible) that support your bigoted position.

What about the moral collapse in the Catholic church with all the child abuse that's been going on? Oh, I forgot, they're Catholics and not Protestant.

As for the UK being a Christian country, under 10% attend church.

I do wish politicians would not huff and puff with outraged moral indignation and look to cleaning the Augean stables within their own houses first.

The UK is a mish-mash of different religions, agnostics and atheists. A country develops from the nature of its people, not the people from a nostalgic, chocolate-box vision of the country a few centuries ago. Cameron sounds like King Cnut.

Friday, 16 December 2011

I Is Not Understandings You Good

Have just returned from another of those interminable trips to a Mediterranean country that is having problems with its debt.

I am continually amazed at how foreigners with an execrable command of English manage to make other foreigners with an equally bad command of English understand them.

Imagine the scenario - two chaps of different nationalities, neither of whose English could even vaguely be called passable, chatter away in English and make themselves fully understood to the other. I'm sitting there totally bemused, not understanding even the gist of the conversation and nodding sagely.

Incroyable, as they say in France. Must be something to do with the grammar of their respective languages being similar, hence they both make the same mistakes.

Some councils have been caught out by the snow; hardly surprising really, it is only mid December after all and it's not as if snow would be expected.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

God Particle Found

I think I've found the God Particle.

Look very closely at the space between the hands below - focus carefully - and you'll just about see it. No - it's not that bit of cough on your computer screen, or that bit of dust. Look closer!

There you go....

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Compensation Culture

There's a bit of irony in the human body - as you get older, your ears continue to grow, thereby theoretically giving you better hearing; however, you slowly go deaf too. I suppose it could be evolutionary compensation at work.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Two Europes Sarkozy

Sarkozy says there are now two Europes - if you ask me, they are the one that is about to embark on the Titanic and the one that is staying behind on the dock in Southampton.

Basically both positions are a gamble and no-one can be certain what will happen; however, history is against the Euro working, and if there's one thing politics can teach you, it is that history has a habit of repeating itself.

I can't help feeling that European politics and economics is heavily infected by Groupthink with no-one (except the UK) being prepared to point out that the Emperor has no clothes.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Installation Pudding

Installing a printer driver used to take a few second; now it's a whole afternoon. Why is this? Are programmers becoming a tad cavalier with the exponential increase in disk capacity and lax in tight programming?

Touts are being vilified for buying Heston Blumenthal's Xmas puddings in bulk from Waitrose and selling them on t'internet for £200 odd. I'd call them entrepreneurs for spotting a gap in the market and selling them to sad people obsessed with celebrity culture. Anyone who is willing to pay £200 for a pudding that costs £13 in Waitrose needs their bumps read - in fact anyone who is willing to pay £13 for a pudding is a tad deranged.

That being said, it could also be said that the touts are preying on the feeble minded.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Counterfeit Reality

Saw an item on the local news the other night about the sale of counterfeit tobacco. Can there be such a thing? If it ain't tobacco then what is it? Lettuce? As if a smoker couldn't tell the difference. What they probably mean is counterfeit brands of tobacco - fake Rothmans and the like, but still made of baccy. The correct term should be illegal tobacco.

The push against such cigarettes is being made on health grounds. Eh? The bloody things kill you anyway, so how is a packet of fags with a fake label going to make it any worse?

A doctor was interviewed and said that much of this counterfeit tobacco came from Africa and was stored in warehouses, such warehouses having rats, which means the liberal application of rat poison that could get into the product. Well hang on, Zimbabwe is something like the word's 5th largest producer of tobacco - that surely means that all its tobacco is laced with rat poison, no matter where it goes - genuine or fake products.

China and India are No.1 and No.2 in terms of production; are we meant to believe there are no rats in China or India?

Additionally, makers of 'fake' products aren't going to go to the trouble of filling them with the 70 odd chemicals Imperial Tobacco put in their products to make them burn better; it would simply cost too much. In all likelihood they're more pure than the 'genuine' article - possibly even 'organic'.

I somehow suspect this is really to do with lost tax revenue and nothing whatsoever to do with the health benefits of genuine fags versus their fake counterparts. The authorities must think we have the intelligence of a root vegetable.

Friday, 9 December 2011

What's in a Name in European Judea?

Apropos of yesterday's post about signs; as we live in an area where houses have just names and no numbers, we've been debating for some time a name for the newbuild. The working name to date has been Badger's End, Badger being the nick-name Hayley gave me years ago due to my beard being shaded like a badger's face - although it has since become more small, white polar bear than badger, perhaps Arctic badger.

Due to the houses in our vicinity having no numbers, finding the place is fraught with difficulty for those not familiar with the area - like ambulances, the fire services and anyone who may have occasion to find the house in a bit of a hurry.

Couriers especially have issues with houses in our location (houses with no numbers were the bane of my life when I drove as a courier during a brief period of being 'between jobs'). Even a satnav programmed with our postcode results in couriers grounding their car sumps on a nearby unmade road resembling a glacial moraine and deliveries being deposited with anyone in a half mile radius.

When we had the scaffolding up on the house last year, the scaffolding company put a white plastic sign at the end of our track by the main road advertising their wares. It said "Budget Scaffolding, Yate". Once the scaffolding was removed they left the sign, and as it was a useful landmark for people trying to find the house, we left it where it was.

We're now thinking of leaving it there for good and amending it to read "Bagget Scarfold", being a suitably pompous name for the house. The scaffolding holding the sign up may have to go, however, as they are redolent of an industrial unit. The lettering on the example will need changing too, else it would look like a ransom note.

If closer European integration is the solution, what is the problem? No, European integration itself is the problem, the only solution being for Europe to split along cultural and economic lines. Besides, they have some really bitter winters in Europe - I certainly don't want any of that, so it's better we stay out of any pact and stick to British winters, which are much milder.

Why is it that every parent who has ever had a child in a school nativity play dresses their kid like a comedy Arab with a dressing gown and a tea-towel? I guess we've been fooled by all those quaint Victorian Bible images.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Sign of the Times - Tally Ho!

The Beaufort Hunt met in Chipping Sodbury yesterday - there must have been about 50 horses, at the very least. Made a hideous mess of the road with all the horse muck.

They normally meet about once a year outside the eponymous Beaufort Hunt pub on the High Street, but for some reason this time they met across the road outside the Nat West Bank. It could be a sign of the times, demonstrating a new sponsor, or possibly because most of them are bankers (who else can join hunts these days?).

I was going to follow them along the aptly named Horse Street, but they perversely went down Hatter's Lane instead. Pure madness!

On the way home to Old Sodbury I took a detour into the countryside (Little Sodbury, Little Sodbury End, Sodbury cum Hardy, Sodbury on the Wold, etc.) and espied scores of horse spotters keen to get a glimpse of them. They cluttered up the back lanes something awful, what with their horse boxes and 4x4s.

Just managed to get our application in yesterday for the feed-in tariff before the government deadline - the website kept crashing with the final rush.

Air source heat pump, 1,000 litre tank, 3kW solar PV array, some thermal solar panels (the radiator type) and under floor heating - all for £37k, allowing for the government grant of £850. It would probably cost double as a retro-fit.

Talking to the salesman, the companies selling this kit make about 7% margin, which is nothing.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Cash Stash

Which is better in a recession; to spend your stash (if you have one) and get the money into the economy, or leave it in the bank where it can be lent to business to expand - or at least weather the storm?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Irony of Road Deaths

Ever considered the irony contained in the phrase; "Let's lay all our cards on the table"?

Think about it....

The image below shows all the road deaths in our area between 1999 and 1010. Looks like we're in Death Central.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Beggaring Belief

The Royal Mail has warned staff not to accept Christmas gifts valued at more than £30 for fear of bribery charges.

What on earth would you bribe your postie to do? Deliver your mail to next door? Not deliver your junk mail?

Sunday, 4 December 2011

What Goes Around Comes Around

Bank of England governor, Mervyn King is being lambasted by politicians and business leaders alike for his gloomy economic prediction of last week, which detractors say is leading to a loss of confidence in markets and consumers.

That's ironic when you think that it was massive over-confidence within markets and consumers - and consequent unsustainable levels of debt - that caused the crisis we're now in the middle of.

It seems politicians, and the business leaders who fund them, will never learn the lessons of economic and political history, which is a double irony when you consider that most politicians these days have degrees in PPE.

Never go to a politician for the truth - they will tell you what they think you want to hear (unless you're a public servant); more so closer to an election.

Thinking of offering my services as Santa at a local store - I'll tell the kids as it is; Santa has been subject to a recession and cannot afford to give presents this year, all the elves have been laid off and the reindeer are in line for a pension reduction.

I was practising on my son last night. Tried the old Jedi trick of a wave of the hand with the words: "You are not expecting anything over 10 quid for Christmas."

I hear union bosses are calling for Jeremy Clarkson to be sacked. No disciplinary procedure, no employment tribunal, no strike action allowed by Clarkson - just summary dismissal, which is an abysmal way to treat a public sector employee (Clarkson works for the BBC).....

Saturday, 3 December 2011


Hayley bitterly regrets having given me copious quantities of fried onions with the bangers and colcanon she made for dinner last night.

Pity there's no feed-in tariff for gas.

By the way - if you want to see the real story on public vs private sector pay and pensions, look at this. Public sector employees are better paid than those in the private sector. Pensions are certainly much better.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Clarkson Files

Union leaders have said Jeremy Clarkson should be made to live for a year on a nurse's salary. Why not a head teacher's or judge's salary?

Or even a union boss's salary?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Monopoly Money

In defence of yesterday's Day of Action, many who work in the public sector maintain the work they do is hugely important, as evidenced by the chaos that ensues when they go on strike. However, one of the main reasons for the public sector having such an impact is due to many of its branches being virtual monopolies. Withdrawal of labour ipso facto has a huge impact.

The work BT did when it was a government owned monopoly was hugely important, but when competition entered into the market through deregulation in the 80s and 90s, BT became less important - and largely irrelevant - as there was a (invariably cheaper) private sector alternative.

Nationalise all garages and suddenly all garage mechanics perform vital and hugely important work (and are incidentally able to hold the country hostage if their demands are not met).

Crippling strikes that affect the public are the preserve of the public sector. Due to the presence of competition, strikes in the private sector affect only those they are meant to affect - the shareholders (and of course those employees who do not wish to strike and may lose their jobs as a consequence). This gives public sector employees vast bargaining power when negotiating pay and conditions; power not available to private sector employees. This power must be wielded responsibly and not in pursuit of unrealistic goals that assume an infinitely elastic public purse.

Incidentally, for union leaders to cherry-pick specific occupations at the bottom of the public pay-scale to justify their cause is disingenuous and massaging the data to suit the desired result. The same can be said of governments cherry-picking top NHS consultants' pay to justify their position. These are not matters relevant to discussions over final salary, index-linked pensions and their affordability across the entire public sector spectrum - top to bottom - in today's economic climate. The issue of low pay is precisely that - an issue of low pay for specific occupations. To drag this into the overall argument is a classic red herring.

I have to report that Hayley's mother, Sylvia (or Caravan, as she was known in the family), died yesterday after a short battle against cancer. Following the removal of a malignant melanoma some 4 years ago, she recently complained of stomach pains. On analysis she was found to have an enlarged lymph gland under one arm. A CT scan a couple of weeks ago showed rampant cancer in her brain, lungs and stomach. The end was swift, but (following the administration of palliative pain relief) painless.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

George Smiley on Strike

Bit of a bugger when you take the wrong teeth to a meeting.

Was in such a hurry to get to a business meeting in Dorking yesterday that I grabbed my new bottom denture rather than the top one - the top being the one that hides the massive gap in my smile. Can't get used to the damned things and only put them in for meeting and greeting.

Still can't understand what today's public service strike is going to achieve. If you're serious you go on strike till you get what you want. A day of mild disruption that few will even notice (and even fewer actually support) will get you nowhere.

Listened to a teacher on the TV yesterday complaining that she'd been promised an index-linked pension based on her final salary and now the government is reneging on it. Sorry love, in the private sector the final salary pension went years ago and we never had index linked pensions in the first place - why, when we're all having to tighten our belts, are you a special case?

I guess I'm going to be vilified again for the above paragraph, but before having a pop, please come up with an alternative solution to the problem that will work. Unions are partisan, as indeed they are paid to be; they're not interested in equitable solutions. Governments, on the other hand, have to take a wider and longer view, as they're running a country (although that doesn't necessarily make them infallible).

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

An Apple with Holes

Clever people, these chaps at Apple - it now seems that the Apple iPhone can keep you warm.

Yesterday I was thinking about the phrase 'pre-drilled hole'. When you think about it they all pre-drilled - it's just a case of who does the pre-drilling.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Public / Private

I can't get my head around this public/private argument between the unions and the government.

Public sector workers are allegedly striking because they're unhappy with their lot. Why on earth don't they just do what I did whenever I was unhappy with my Ts & Cs - simply move another job, in their case preferably one in the private sector where things are so much better! The fact they don't speaks volumes about their actual Ts & Cs, which can't be as bad as they maintain.

I heard someone yesterday say that the average wage has gone up in the public sector because low paid jobs have been outsourced to the private sector. However, if jobs have been outsourced and the public sector has made a saving, the inevitable conclusion is that the very same jobs when performed by the private sector are lower paid, which makes a mockery of the unions' case.

Fat cat union bosses on large salaries and huge bonuses are moaning about the salaries and bonuses of fat cat private sector bosses. Why? it's not as if these private sector salaries or bonuses are coming from the public purse. It's not even as if the union bosses are in the public sector themselves - they are in the private sector too, despite their members being in the public sector.

What do these union guys want - the maximum possible numbers employed in the public sector (as I do) with a bit of pain for all, or employment for a select few - i.e. those who survive the inevitable job cuts - with better than average wages and pensions (which is what it seems they are prepared to strike for)?

Friday, 25 November 2011

Bloody Brits - Coming Over Here & Taking Our Jobs

Well, made it back from Greece without any problems.

The thing I went to attend was a maritime conference/exhibition and I met up with a bunch of people who I hadn’t seen for ages – some for a decade or more and some since we were cadets together 40 years ago. Conversations re started from where they’d been left the previous time we all met, but that’s the maritime industry for you.

The Brits among us went out for a heavy night on the piss. I got to bed at 2am and one of my colleagues stayed up drinking cheap Greek whisky till 6am. Mike Tindall and the England rugby team would have been proud of us.

The government has said that the public sector strike will cost the country £500m in lost productivity. The unions disagree – and I must say I agree with the unions. How can it cost the country anything when everyone in the private sector is actually redundant and not working anyway?

Apparently the net migration last year was 250,000 inward. It is understood that this is down to those bloody Brits all coming back from Australia and New Zealand and taking our jobs….

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A Mere Shadow of Their Former Selves

Took these photos a few weeks ago, just before the leaves all fell.

They're shadows - I thought them interesting.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Shiney Things For Idiots

Hay made a Freudian slip yesterday and came up with the excellent word “bollotics”, which we defined as politics of a particularly bollocky and bull shitty nature. She came out with it while listening to a radio interview with William Hague, who she thinks sounds as if he’s trying to convince himself, rather than those to whom he’s speaking.

Now for my trip to Greece.

Do you, like me, feel there simply aren’t enough Harrods shops in our airports these days? I’m not sure about you, but the first thing I want to do after transiting airport security (besides having a pee, a coffee and a sandwich) is to spend shedloads of hard earned money on expensive and intrinsically worthless crap. The operators of Heathrow Terminal 5 have addressed this woeful situation by providing not one, but two Harrods shops.

I had a scout around in the duty free and was gratified to discover I could obtain a 70cl bottle of Gordon’s gin for about £2 more than in my local Co-Op.

Once I’d boarded the plane I had a quick scan of the British Airways magazine to see what films I could expect to watch on the 4 hour flight and was overjoyed to see a veritable plethora of cinematographic delights on the 12 or so available channels. However, when I looked at the back of the seat in front of me, I suddenly realised that there was no personal entertainment system – it was an old 767 with just a single screen for all passengers.

I then had a bet with myself and selected what I thought would be the most boring film and sat back to await the announcement of which film would be playing. Bingo – I was psychic! OK, it wasn’t boring, but it was certainly the one I thought would be the most boring.

To while away the hours I decided to partake in one of my favourite in-flight past-times, scrutinising expensive shit in the duty free magazine. Time was when expensive things were made of expensive materials; these days that rule has been broken by the marketing people and expensive stuff is also made of crap that looks as it if will fall to pieces within a pico-second of purchase.

Just for a minute, let’s look at something of intrinsic worth - gold. Now gold is said to hold its price due to its rarity. However, given gold has been mined since prehistoric times, the amount of gold in circulation has increased, meaning it should be dropping in price year-on-year. Counter-intuitively it continues to increase in price – but that is due to the yardstick by which we measure its worth becoming worthless – i.e. money.

Let’s look for a minute at house prices. It surely can’t be right that a house which costs £X to build can cost 3 x £X when sold on. This discrepancy is due to what we experts call ‘the market’, which is a mechanism that restricts supply (or increases rarity) so as to maximise profit. It is illusory and can be destroyed at the whim of a government that decides the tax payer will subsidise housing costs (see yesterday’s post).

Anyway, back to shoddy goods designed to relieve the wealthy and weak minded of their money.

In my youth, Lambretta was a name synonymous with parka coats, short haircuts, oily 2 stroke scooters and soul music; these days it’s a name associated with high fashion. Lambretta now aligns its name to a shoddy £60 watch. What the connection is between Lambretta and watches is beyond me. Possibly they're going after the 50-something nostalgia market.

Now for The Oregon I Balance Bangle: “Wear this stylish bangle and benefit your health. Negative ions may help raise the alkaline levels in your body, neutralising harmful acidic toxins and thereby facilitating blood circulation, enhancing metabolism and soothing fatigued muscles.” Price £45.

Note the weasel-word “may”. Marketing people use this word in the manner demonstrated in the following sentence; “You may become a billionaire by midnight tonight.” See what I mean? What the word “may” means in marketing-speak is, “never in a billion, billion years - not even in the multiverse where all possibly combinations of time and matter exist simultaneously, but we have to use it to prevent us being sued for making unsubstantiated claims”.

Next comes marketing maths, as in the description of the following trinket – the SpyPen – which can record sound “within a 5 metre squared radius”. We experts with an O level (or even an 11 Plus pass) know that radius is a linear measurement, not one of area.

I then decided to partake of the chargrilled pieces of chicken in a creamy coconut Thai red curry sauce served with rice (contains fish and shellfish!).

On my arrival at Athens airport, I discovered that the shouted phrase: “Let me through, I’m British,” no longer cuts any ice at the immigration queue.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Saif al Islam Captured & Hezza Loses the Plot

"The UK will ultimately join the Euro," says Lord "Mad Dog" Heseltine, thus demonstrating his slipping grip on reality.

Off to Greece again for the week. I doubt I'll solve their financial problem, but it will probably mean I'll be off-air for a few days as I battle fog at Heathrow and Greek public transport strikes (the Greeks like to solve the financial crisis in their own inimitable manner).

Heard a good one the other day; what's the difference in output between a Greek public sector worker sat at his desk and the same worker on strike? None!

I spotted Saif al Islam doing the weather on ITV West last night!

I'm a bit worried about the government's plan to make the tax payer underwrite the mortgages of those least able to afford it. Remember the toxic mortgages scandal in the US - the very thing that started off the global recession?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Never Listen to Doctors or Politicians

Bashir al Assad has vowed to die before giving up power.

This follows hard on the heels of the BMA having to retract most of its statements about smoking in cars.

Countries that put doctors (Assad is an eye surgeon) in positions of dictatorial power should be prepared for them going back on their words - however, in the case of Assad, his words may just turn out to be prophetic.

Some bishops have castigated the government for failing the poor in respect of their plans for welfare reform. I consider myself to have a social conscience, in that I do not mind in the least paying higher taxes to make the lives of the poor a tad better; however, the money so reaped almost never finds its way to the poor, as government siphons it off for other worthy causes, such as giving it to Richard Branson or to the EU.

What's happened to Nick Clegg? I thought we had a coalition government, but Clegg seems to have done a runner.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Peace in Our Time - Strictly

UK PM, David Cameron, has returned to the UK from a trip to the German Chancellor announcing: "Peace in our time."

Makes you nostalgic, doesn't it? I hear he was threatening her with a bazooka at one stage.

He said the British ambassador to Berlin had handed a final note to the German Chancellor saying unless she announced plans to withdraw from the Euro by 11:00, a state of war would exist between the two countries.

I'm fully expecting Mr Cameron to say: "I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and consequently this country is at war with Germany."

Friday, 18 November 2011

Stop Press - Far-rage?

A late addition to the earlier post below. Apparently this is going viral.

Pass the Joint

The boss of MI5 is set to make a speech calling for the legalisation of cannabis.

Chip Somers of the drug treatment group Focus 12 says decriminalising cannabis is the wrong way forward. "I don't want the person driving the train I'm on to have just had a joint thank you very much," he said. "I am reassured by the fact that it is illegal."

Well anyone called Chip must surely have issues, but to point out the obvious to Chip, I don't want the person driving the train I'm on to have just had 6 gin and tonics thank you very much, but I am reassured by the fact that it is illegal to drive a train under the influence of alcohol, and alcohol is legal.

What a silly man Chip is!

In an equally asinine statement, George Osborne has said that selling Northern Rock for £747m in return for an investment of £1.4bn is value for money. Where did he do maths GCSE? I know the syllabus has been dumbed down, but that's plain stupid. What's he smoking?

Regardless of the maths, surely selling a bank at a rock bottom price in the middle of a recession isn't really sensible. Would he not be better hanging on to it till prices rise a bit? I seem to remember the Conservatives berating Gordon Brown for selling off our gold reserves when the market was at rock bottom (known as Brown's Bottom).

The words pot, kettle and black come to mind, as well as mindblowingly and hypocritical. He'd better keep the £747m in reserve when he has to bail it out again in a few months.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Star Frooms for Blatter

Overheard in the Caravan:

No.1 Son: "Dad, do they have star frooms in the NHS?"

Chairman: "What?"

No.1 Son: "Do they have star frooms?"

Chairman: "What's a star froom?"

No.1 Son: "Where the starf have tea of course."

Chairman: "Oh, you mean staffrooms!"

No.1 Son: "That's what I said!"

Chairman: "You're too posh for your own good."

No.1 Son: "You're so northern!"

Blatter dismisses racism worries:

Fifa president Sepp Blatter says he does not believe football has a problem with racism, and any rows between players can be resolved with a handshake or a pogrom.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bringing the Outside Inside

A bloke in the southwest found a dead bird - probably a starling - in a bag of Tesco salad. Rather than simply taking it to Tesco for a refund, he puts it on display to the press and makes a big hoo-ha about it.

Bagged salads are processed almost with no human intervention, so it's bound to happen that things that live in the open - and die there - occasionally get into them. It's not as it he would have actually forked it up and stuffed it in his gob - it was a whole bird, for heaven's sake.

He even admits himself that he didn't notice it as he poured it into a bowl - it was only as it was placed on the table that his girlfriend noticed it as she was "seconds away from eating it". However, methinks he embroiders the story too much; perhaps he smells a massive payout from Tesco.

I'm just surprised it doesn't happen more often - I'm looking forward to finding a dead otter in my broccoli one of these days.

Get over it! Who on earth buys bagged salad anyway? Much easier and cheaper to buy a whole lettuce - less chance of finding wildlife in it too. As for dining on Tesco pizza and salad - he's asking for trouble and obviously doesn't care what crap he shovels into his mouth.

The BMA has recommended an outright ban on smoking in cars - even if there were no passengers, as the best way of protecting children as well as non-smoking adults.

The head of science at the BMA admitted introducing a total ban would be a "bold and courageous" move. More like a lunatic move. How on earth will it be policed anyway given you're lucky to see a police car these days unless you're caught up in a 25 car motorway pile up. And why a total ban, even if there are no others in the car?

When I smoked, I would always open the driver window a crack so as the smoke was naturally extracted - as I think all smokers do, as even they don't like sitting in a hermetically sealed tin full of smoke. Passengers always maintained they couldn't even smell the smoke under those conditions. And what about electronic cigarettes with no particulates or carcinogens - how are the police to distinguish between those and real cigarettes?

The lunatics are running the asylum!

Next it will be no drinking in bars.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sea Views of the Gulag for a Menopausal Jordan

Hideous Man Flu yesterday - nearly died! What makes it ironic is that I forgot to go to the doctor's surgery on Saturday to have a flu jab.

Menopause. Why call it that when there's no chance of it resuming again? Should be called the menocease, surely?

Sir Jimmy Savile has been buried at a 45 degree angle 'so he can see the sea'. Now as far as I know, he has actually been buried in the ground, so (letting alone the fact he's dead) his view of the sea is actually obscured by half a ton of soil (plus the concrete they poured into the site to prevent vandalism).

I wonder if estate agents will start using this premise? "Wonderful views of the sea," despite the house in question being in the middle of a concrete jungle.

The BBC is resurrecting Jim'll Fix It for a Christmas Special as a tribute to Sir Jim; however, rather than showing a Best Of Jim'll Fix It (as befits a tribute), they're showing a new one hosted by a soap actor. Surely they should call it Shane'll Fix It, as it will have nothing whatsoever to do with Jimmy Savile except the name?

I'm currently reading Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago - an expose of the Soviet labour camps - and a harrowing read it is too. Here is a particularly vivid passage showing the terror people were placed under.

A district Party conference was under way in Moscow Province. It was presided over by a new secretary of the District Party Committee, replacing one recently arrested. At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). The small hall echoed with "stormy applause, rising to an ovation."

For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the "stormy applause, rising to an ovation," continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly even to those who really adored Stalin. However, who would dare be the first to stop?

The secretary of the District Party Committee could have done it. He was standing on the platform, and it was he who had just called for the ovation. But he was a newcomer. He had taken the place of a man who'd been arrested. He was afraid! After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who quit first! And in that obscure, small hall, unknown to the Leader, the applause went on—six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn't stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit, clap less frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly—but up there with the presidium where everyone could see them?

The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter. . . .

Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel.

That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them. That same night the factory director was arrested. They easily pasted ten years on him on the pretext of something quite different. But after he had signed Form 206, the final document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him:
"Don't ever be the first to stop applauding!"

I hear Jordan has called on Syria's Assad to step down. What sway a chav has on a dictator is beyond me, but I suppose it takes all sorts to make a Bunga-Bunga party.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Man Flu Alert

Temporary suspension of Blog due to severe illness.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Miss World

Some poignant words about the recent Miss World contest from a feminist who used to picket the event in the 70s and 80s.

"At least it isn't the licensed child abuse (or that's what it looks like to me, at any rate) that we watch on Britain's Got Talent, where there is no age limit at all - you could enter your toddler if you wanted to - and where to see a prematurely-sexualised 11-year-old reduced to tears, or a vulnerable middle-aged lady driven to despair, seems to have become part of the pleasure of the show. A hundred, apparently robust, grown-ups in bikinis don't seem quite as offensive as that."

The annual Miss World Contest was driven from the TV schedule by political correctness; however, it was replaced by something infinitely worse.

The full article can be found here.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Scapegoat, or Dirty Old Goat?

Mike Tindall - scapegoat or dirty old goat? I suspect the former.

Prince Charles engages in dirty phone calls with another woman while married to Princess Diana, yet he retains his position on the Royal team.

Prince Harry dresses in a Nazi uniform and it's laughed off as high jinx.

All Tindall did was to throw a dwarf and kiss his ex girlfriend. Oh, hang on, he was on the losing side at a time the RFU is in complete disarray.

As I said, scapegoat.

Friday, 11 November 2011

It's the Economy, Stupid!

European countries seem to be putting economists in charge to clear up the financial mess.

Isn't that a bit like putting astrologists in charge of university astronomy departments?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Blood Money for a Jimmy Degree

Gave my usual blood donation yesterday. It always amuses me how they treat the slightest pinprick bleed as if it were nuclear waste, yet the juices they extract from my body are pumped into some poor bugger within a few days or weeks.

I was listening to one of the student protesters yesterday saying that it was unfair that their parents went to university for free, but they have to pay. What these youngsters don't realise is that in the days their parents (or grandparents) went to university, perhaps only 5-10% went in the first place and it was therefore affordable for government.

The Labour government's social engineering experiment of dumbing down the GCSE and A level (and consequently university entry qualifications), the proliferation of Mickey Mouse degrees from polytechnics and the professionalisation of every job under the sun means that sending 50% of school kids to university is not affordable without a large increase in taxation - which no-one (not even a university student) will vote for.

These days you need a degree to become a nurse, but hospital care is becoming a topic of national ridicule. TV is littered with media studies graduates, but TV programmes are more dire than they've ever been. These days a degree does not result in and improvement in one's performance, but an inflated sense of self-importance.

Jimmy Savile - now if only other celebs would use him as a role model! It says a lot about the bloke that thousands turn up to pay their respect. How's about that then?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Hello! Boot Blacked Liar Aliens!

I hear Sarko has been caught calling Netanyahu a liar. He might just as well have called him a politician, a Prime Minister or a Home Secretary.

At least he's not a banker...

Talking of politics, the White House has denied that the US has ever had contact with extraterrestrials. Who are they kidding? What about Sarah Palin? Just as well we had no aliens coming here; Theresa May would have let them in!

The News of the World newspaper has been accused of following Prince William and other celebrities. I guess that's a bit like OK and Hello magazines do. Is that mean't to be news?

Berlusconi seems about to depart the political scene in Italy, but I want to know whether he dyes his head - not his hair (which he obviously does), but his bonce itself.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Bean Counters on Fire in Euroland

Now Italy is about to go bust. What I want to know is who are the Euro Zone's accountants? The buggers should be fired!

Talking of fire, they have announced the route the Olympic fire is going to take. One assumes fire is a novelty in certain locations. We've had it for tens of thousands of years here, so it's not of any deep interest. We actually use it to keep warm and cook our food.

On the issue of immigration officers: faced with 300 odd people from a flight and the option of letting in a few undesirables or being ripped to shreds by an angry crowd that's asked to wait for 4 hours, I know what I'd do. Passenger numbers are increasing inexorably and staff numbers are cut year-on-year - inevitable really. The only problem is that we'll never know how many bankers and MEPs made it into the country under the wire.

Monday, 7 November 2011

What's in a Surname

Anyone know Socrates' surname? Or for that matter, Aristotle's?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Reclaim Half of Finsbury Square While Fracking

Had a business meeting in London yesterday and spotted this lot in Finsbury Square - very near to where I worked some 10 years ago :

Strangely enough, they only occupied half the square.

I saw one protester with the words 'Democracy Now' on a T shirt. Well, that's what they're currently doing in Greece - and a lot of people don't like it.

If you look at blokey on the left peeping out of his tent, I could swear he was peeing into his boots.

It is suggested that the process of fracking contributed to some minor seismic activity in on the NW cost of England. Fracking sounds more like something we used to do at public school to plebs.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A Way With Words

Been reading (or rather re-reading) John Winton's "We Joined The Navy", one of a series of humorous books about sea life in the RN. I commend them to you.

I was somewhat amused by an expression he used (and I paraphrase as I can't find the relevant passage again): "Misfortune hung over George Dewberry, much as a halo over a saint."

Wonderful turn of phrase.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Tented Astrology

I wonder why one can't get a degree in astrological prediction from a respected university. I guess the answer lies in the stars.

I see a bunch of holidaymakers have decided to camp in a park in the middle of Bath. A similar bunch have been camped out in a park in Bristol. You'd think that now the half term is over they'd all take down their tents and go home. I suppose it's what one would call a Centre Parcs holiday.

In London a bunch of illegally camped travellers have forced the Dean of St Paul's to resign over the lack of bikes and 'activities'.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Overheard About Stick Insects

The Chairman has been trying (unsuccessfully) to get No.1 son to get rid of his stick insect collection, which has been growing exponentially, as they will not survive a winter in the caravan.

Chairman (to No.1 Son): "Those stick insects have to be gone by the end of today. I have warned you. By hook or by crook, they will go by teatime."

Hay: "You're not going to kill them, are you?"

No.1 Son: "What if they die of old age?"

Hay: "That's a point - how long to stick insects live?"

Chairman: "Till teatime on Sundays!"

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Quaking European War on Wine & Cigars

The European Union was set up to eliminate the possibility of European nations ever going to war again. The way things are going, I wonder whether the inevitable collapse of the Euro will lead to the next European war.

As for that Silvio Berlusconi - useless Prime Minister, but I did like his Spaghetti Westerns, in fact I watched For a Few Dollars More on TV last night.

Jimmy Savile has died yesterday at the age of 84. I knew smoking all those cigars would get him in the end.

At the other end of the scale, children as young as 12 claimed they drank the equivalent of 19 glasses of wine per week when questioned for a UK-wide survey of 83,000 school pupils. Since when did anyone believe anything kids tell them?

Talking of delusions, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warns of an "earthquake" if the West intervenes in his country. I can't see the relationship between political intervention and seismic activity myself, but there again he is just a teensy bit insecure.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Red Tops

The UK's newspapers really are despicable!

Top Directors' pay - who gives a toss, except the Daily Mail Tendency? If shareholders want to give their money away, that's a matter for them and no-one else.

Vincent Tabak's porn stash - if being interested in porn makes one a murderer, then more than 90% of men and 60% of women are murderers.

Even the BBC is becoming tabloid - Points West have us 30 minutes of Vincent Tabak's life last night, and no news. Most of the reporting was shoddy, to say the least.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A Glass of Misadventure - Long Life (Unsecured)

Singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her room with five times the driving limit of alcohol in her blood; an inquest recorded a verdict of death by misadventure. I have a couple of glasses of misadventure every evening with dinner.

I hear Nokia is developing a phone with a battery that lasts longer than half a day. May just go for that the next time my contract is up for renewal!

Listened to an interview with George Soros on Radio 4 yesterday (the programme was called Stephanomics, for anyone who is interested to look it up on Listen Again) talking about the current depression. I feel even more inclined to withdraw my stash from the bank now and keep it under the mattress for the next year or so; it's all going to be spent on the house anyway.

Interestingly, Soros put the blame on credit, not just debt. Credit is usually unsecured, whereas debt is usually secured against something. The problem today (besides no-one saving for a rainy day anymore) is unsecured credit.

Oh, and he also put the blame on economists and world self-delusion that the good times would continue.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Where's The Beef?

A Greek, an Italian and a Portuguese go into a bar and order some drinks. Who pays? The German, of course!

Some bloke in Holland has come up with the brilliant idea of growing meat in a test tube, thereby placating the animal rights activists, releasing millions of acres for vegans to grow vegeburgers (or travellers to put their caravans on) and putting livestock farmers out on the streets.

Was watching an advert for some conservation fund that wants donations to protect an endangered snow leopard, of which there are only 35 left in the world. It struck me that this snow leopard is blissfully unaware that it is endangered and probably doesn't give a toss one way or t'other. The reason we humans want to protect this animal is not for the benefit of the animal itself (as I said, it isn't aware of being endangered and ain't exactly going to say thanks), but for our own enjoyment. There's irony in this.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Euro, Schmuro, Tesco

It has been reported that the only way in which the Euro can be saved and get the Greeks, Italians, Portugese and Spanish baled out is for each and every family within Europe to sell their children into permanent slavery to the global banking system and put £2,000 each into a kitty for the Greeks to spend on shiny things.

Cameron yesterday said: "When your neighbour's house is on fire, you should help him put it out so your house doesn't go up in flames too." That may well be, but all analogies are bad, as pouring more money into Greece is akin to throwing your own house onto the fire and watching it burn - which is also a bad analogy.

Tesco has just opened a new temple to Mamon in Yate - one of the largest in the country at 150,000 square feet, or thereabouts. This will give the local youth the opportunity to shoplift on an industrial scale. It will also attract undesirables from a 15 mile radius. Yes - it may well have created 200 odd new jobs, but I would posit a greater number stand to be lost in the local retail economy as Tesco sucks up and consolidates all local shopping activity into its vast, bloated, gaping maw. Let's face it, supermarkets only exist through generating economies of scale - selling more with fewer people.

Talking of kitties to spend on shiny things; saw an advert on TV for a Christmas club called Park3 - you give them money and they save it for you for Christmas presents. Anyone remember Farepak? People just don't learn.

Human rights activists are calling for Libyan NTC troops in Sirte to be hauled before the courts for human rights violations against Gadaffi loyalists. This was a bloody and total civil war where no quarter was expected from Gadaffi or his henchmen, who had already proven themselves capable of atrocities. To expect NTC combatants, the vast majority of which are amateurs, to adhere to professional and gentlemanly rules of combat in such situations is a bit naiive to say the least - these people were fighting for their lives. The greater good has been served and least said soonest mended. Let the Libyans decide on the ethics of this case, not armchair human rights activists. The Libyans, after all, were at the blunt end of Gadaffi's regime.

Monday, 24 October 2011

A High Wind

It has struck me that one's progression through the ages of man can be measured by one's attitude to bodily noises, such as farts.

  • In one's extreme youth they are novel, and thus performed ritualistically at every available opportunity - almost competitively.
  • In one's early maturity they are an embarrassment, and thus hidden.
  • In one's late maturity they are seen for what they are - a necessity - and thus performed as a matter of course with no hint of embarrassment whatsoever.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Occupy London - For What?

What I don't understand is how a bunch of protesters can occupy London till Christmas. Don't they have jobs to go to?

If not, then shouldn't they be out looking for jobs, rather than sitting around doing nothing and getting Job Seeker's Allowance at our expense? I'd say that is unethical.

I feel a protest coming on.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Overheard in the Office

The Chairman has just taken delivery of a new Vodafone data dongle to use while on the move. On trying to use it, it fails to find a Vodafone data connection, despite the Chairman having a Vodafone mobile next to his computer with full signal strength.

After 18 minutes of sitting in a phone queue, a technician answers and enquires as to the problem.

Chairman: I have just taken delivery of one of your data dongles and it can't find a network.

Vodafone: Is the dongle flashing?

Chairman: Yes - two green flashes every 3 seconds.

Vodafone: Then it's working fine and just can't find a 3G connection.

Chairman: But why am I able to use my mobile and connect to the internet on a data channel?

Vodafone: Because your mobile is picking up a 2G signal.

Chairman: So your dongle is worse than using a mobile?

Vodafone: Yes, I'm afraid so. If you move around the building you may pick up a 3G signal.

Chairman: I've been all over the building and can't get a connection. The device is bloody useless - I may as well set my mobile into Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot mode and use it to connect my laptop to the internet. At least that works all the time.

Got home in the evening and tried it again - nothing! I Googled "Vodafone 3G coverage" and it's pitiful. I'm sending the bloody useless heap of junk back to Vodafone. Don't know how they have the gall to sell it.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Design for Design's Sake

Are you disappointed that you're no longer noticing your fragrance plug-in?

During my trip to see customers in Italy earlier this week I visited a rather swish office in Genoa. The whole place was an homage to designer chic; milky, illuminated glass staircases, wood veneered walls in an oval room, an outdoor meeting room, slate floor tiles, a staff jacuzzi, a staff gym and a staff sauna.

There was only one problem - when I asked to visit the loo I was unable to leave the meeting room; the door handle was totally unfit for purpose. Unless you are a child or a woman with very slender fingers, it is impossible to open the door handle. Sausage fingers just won't do the job. Of the three blokes in the meeting room, none of us could exit and had to phone for help from the other side (of the door, not reality).

The offending door handle

Slate floor tiles and fancy lighting.

Outdoor meeting space with jacuzzi round the corner.

Illuminated glass staircase - gorgeous!

Brushed steel uplighters on wood veneered walls.

Designer lighting.

At one of my meetings the MD did nothing but fiddle with his BlackBerry - which I thought the height of disrespect. I simply stopped talking and he didn't even notice for about 30 seconds before looking up sheepishly.

At Rome airport I was assaulted by the usual range of expensive tat.

Please - what's the difference between D&G and M&S?

....or Moncler and the Army Navy Store?

...or Prada and Primark?

As usual, none of these shops sported a single customer.

One of the shops was an Italian food outlet selling Italian specialities at twice the price I can obtain them in British supermarkets, which I thought a novel sales approach. An example is 500g of bog standard Arborio risotto rice for 15 Euros - which I can get in Tesco for £0.85.

Talking of airport shops; I have always been bemused by a duty-free electrical shop in Tel Aviv airport which sells large items one obviously can't take into an aircraft as hand luggage - such as cookers, vacuum cleaners and the like. On questioning an Israeli colleague about this he told me that it is solely for the benefit of locals who can purchase these large items at a knock-down price before going on a trip and collect them (or have them delivered) on their return to Israel. Smart cookies these Israelis! I'm surprised no-one has thought of this in other countries. Needless to say, the shop is a hive of activity.