Monday, 31 January 2011

The Daily News

While delivering the papers this morning I noted that while some people have national dailies, a small number (mainly elderly) have only local newspapers delivered.

It struck me that there are very few global or even national events that affect our daily lived to any great extent. The last one was probably WWII.

We have become obsessed with knowing what is going on in the rest of the world, an obsession which has emerged only within the last 60 years or so.

If you were only to hear of local events, would it actually make any difference to your daily life?

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Bearded Lady

Overheard in the Caravan:

No.1 son enters bathroom to clean his teeth and spots Hay's Ladyshave charging.

No.1 Son: "Dad - have you got a new shaver?"

Chairman: "No, it's Hay's."

No.1 Son: "Does she have a beard?"

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Voting for Egyptian NHS Reform Strikes

Overheard in the caravan:

No.1 Son: “Dad, if ever I got Black Ops (Call of Duty 6), would you want a go?”

Chairman: “No – it would be too addictive.”

No.1 Son: “You could have only one go.”

Chairman: “That’s what they say about crack cocaine.”

Hay: “Just say no.”

Now for the news:

Mubarak Diagnosed with Deafness:

Egypt’s President Mubarak has been diagnosed with selective deafness following his dismissal of the Egyptian cabinet.

Protesters have been shouting: “Down with Mubarak,” for a number of days and setting fire to things, leading pundits to suspect the rioters want rid of Mr Mubarak. Yet Mr Mubarak’s dismissal of the cabinet points to him mishearing what they were shouting as: “Down with Mubarak’s cabinet – please stay in your presidential role, Mr Mubarak.”

Case for NHS Reform Oversold:

The government has over-sold the need for its overhaul of the NHS in England, a leading health economist suggests. He cites the fastest rates of improvement in Europe, which if continued will lead to the UK having the best quality healthcare in Europe within two years.

The government responded by collectively clapping its hands over its ears and going: “Lalala, lalala,” saying nothing of any importance and trotting out the same old hackneyed phrases suggesting that it intends to completely ignore the evidence, as it doesn’t exactly help in attempting to sell off the NHS to private companies.

Violent Criminals to Get Vote:

The government fears violent criminals and sex offenders getting the vote under EU human rights legislation. Their greatest fear is that the tiny number of 1,700 odd killers and perverts would be almost certain to vote Lib-Dem instead of Conservative, and that simply cannot be allowed.

Criminals, such as these, could be allowed to vote.

Anti-strike laws not ruled out ahead of union summit:

The government refused to rule out the reintroduction of flogging, public hangings and transportation to Australia to prevent unions co-ordinating strikes over public service spending cuts.

In a surprising lack of understanding of the laws of cause and effect, the Chancellor, George Osborne, is accusing the UK’s unions, who have yet to announce any action, of holding back the economic recovery he is hoping to achieve by the simple mechanism of putting half the country on the dole.

Cause & Effect

Friday, 28 January 2011

Technological Defence of MI7's Upright Stance

Defence Technology Just Not Up To It

Peter Felstead of Jane's Defence Weekly has admitted that Nimrod planes currently rolling off the production lines, only to be immediately scrapped, use electronics that are inferior to last year’s PlayStation 3.

Defence analysts have questioned the wisdom of basing our nations defence capabilities on Call of Duty (Black Ops) gaming technology, even if it has received 5 stars from GamePro, as it puts our armed services at the mercy of 10 year-olds in possession of the game cheats.

Defence chiefs strongly urge that future strategic defence procurement move to X-Box technology, as it has more realistic sound effects.

It is thought that the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers currently under construction at Maplins will deploy the robust and battle-tested Sinclair ZX Spectrum command and control system along with the £3.2Bn state-of-the-art Commodore Pet anti-surveillance system.

State of the art

Pundits believe that the planned SISRS (Space Invaders Strategic Radar System) due to be implemented in 2020 has may be subject to defence cuts and will in all likelihood be replaced by the technologically superior PacMan system at a cost of £250m.


News International Actually MI7

Following allegations of phone hacking, News International is claiming it is actually a front for a shadowy government intelligence agency called MI7, with The News of the World being part of Directorate 5 (Surveillance Unit).

This was confirmed when the Metropolitan Police failed to properly investigate allegations of phone hacking.

MI7 was thought to have been disbanded, but it was actually resurrected in the early 1990s with the enigmatic and notoriously reclusive Rupert Murdoch being appointed as its head and given the mysterious code name ‘B-Sky-B’.

Directorate 5 of MI7 was established to hack into the voice mail of minor celebrities’ who couldn’t be arsed to change the default security code to ensure they were not secretly working for non-UK TV companies.

Andy Gray Takes Up New Position

Football pundit Andy Gray, who was sacked this week from his lucrative radio job following allegations of sexism, has been spotted walking in the grounds of his new employer.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

It's Just My Opinion

Why do some of us blog? This is a question I have often pondered. Blogging generally, but not exclusively, seems to be the preserve of the more mature individual. Why should this be?

There came a time in my life – I think it was in my late 40s - when I reached the inescapable, but misguided conclusion that I’d seen and heard just about everything. Following a period of introspection (aka redundancy) I developed well considered, yet totally worthless opinions on virtually every conceivable issue. I was aided in this by having no intellectual distraction occasioned by work.

People stopped coming to my dinner parties, as I would bore the shit out of them with said opinions. Naturally, a number of these guests were a lot less interesting than me and would have no real opinions of their own, merely absorbing them piecemeal from professional opinion makers in the popular media, much like hoping that adopting a certain designer style will make you look sophisticated. I would take great delight in asking uncomfortable questions to flush out the biases and prejudices underpinning many of their vacuous opinions, which made me few friends, as no-one likes having their irrational prejudices exposed – especially to themselves.

I decided I needed a platform from which to shout my worthless opinions to a more appreciative and less discerning audience, especially as Hayley simply ignored me. A very few reach this stage of life in their 30s and 40s and go on to become journalists, politicians or religious extremists. I ended up here, eagerly looking forward to being a cantankerous old git. Basically it’s all about me.

Enough of talking about you, let’s get back to a much more interesting subject – my worthless opinions:

The GP bonus system has been called into question after research suggests it has had no real impact on the stagnant housing market. Family doctors are paid bonuses - worth up to a third of their considerable basic pay - for hitting certain performance targets, or as we experts call it, doing their job. It was erroneously thought that such huge bonuses would encourage them to move house and provide a much-needed stimulus to property prices.

Teenagers in Melksham, Wiltshire, have thought of an innovative use for Facebook – arranging knife fights for the entertainment of their mates. When I was a kid, such activities were limited to the playground. This brings a new dimension to this activity and could feasibly herald the introduction of an international element. I feel they will be rewarded with some technological or entertainment award.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A Veritable Cornucopia - Something For Everyone

Top news: Overweight, single, neurotic women consider mass suicide as US supports Ivory Coast cocoa ban.

Overheard in the caravan:

Hay: “You remember that book ‘Voluntary Madness’ that Michelle bought you for Christmas?”

Chairman: [Vacant look]

Hay: “It was on your Amazon wish list and I’m reading it?”

Chairman: [Helplessly, yet intense, vacant look]

Hay: “I’m seriously worried about your mental health!”

If the truth be known, I’d put it on my Amazon wish list merely as a place-marker as something to buy for Hay, who has an interest in psychology and madness (which is probably why she shacked up with me in the first place). How was I to know her sister would inspect my wish list and actually buy it for me under the misapprehension I actually wanted it? Once bought and handed over at Xmas it left my brain cell quicker than knowledge of where I’d last put my car keys.

We were watching the BBC’s popular ‘One Show’ on Monday evening and I was utterly astounded to see the special guest was none other than the presenter of another BBC TV show. On Tuesday evening they did exactly the same thing. It’s a bit much when you’re paying a licence fee to have to watch TV presenters interviewing other TV presenters - and struggling to make it look vaguely interesting. I’m looking forward to tonight's show – perhaps they’ll interview a cameraman as the special guest, or the bloke who brings the sandwiches.

I was inspecting No.1 son’s homework last night. He’d been set four geometry questions (areas of trapezia [trapeziums?] and parallelograms) with an optional fifth. What teacher in their right mind makes a homework question optional? It doesn’t take a Stephen Hawking to know what the result will be if said kid is left to their own devices. Needless to say I forced him to complete it. I suspect the teacher was conducting a social science experiment to determine whether any parents actually had the slightest interest in their kids’ homework.

Overheard at dinner:

No.1 son: "Is this chicken, beef or lamb?"

Hay - steaming at the ears: "Pork!"

You know, looking at what’s happening in the Anglican Communion and what has happened in repressive regimes (like former communist countries, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.) once liberal thought is admitted, it’s obvious that giving people more freedom invariably results in splintering and possibly total collapse as factions develop. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, except for the fact that it has the potential to introduce a lot of fighting, sometimes lethal, as those handed the liberal freedom then wish to replace the former repression with their own.

You can now understand why the Roman Catholic Church is so reluctant to move into the 20th, let alone the 21st century - it would herald its death knell in the manner of the Anglicans. Give people an inch and they take a parsec, destroying everything in the process (just like children).

I really fear for the future of North Africa following the wave of anti-government protests. The place will descend into anarchy as differing political agendas vie to fill the vacuum.

I was watching a Horizon programme the other night called Science Under Attack and was appalled to hear James Delingpole, a science writer for the Telegraph and Times newspapers and climate change sceptic, admit to Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, that he wasn’t paid to read original research or peer-reviewed papers as he didn’t have the time or the inclination. He said that he merely interpreted other people’s interpretations – which, according to Sir Paul, are invariably those of populist bloggers with a narrow politicised agenda who cherry-pick data to suit their purposes. No wonder Joe Public has such a distrust of science when science journalists have no knowledge of that on which they report.

Delingpole’s Telegraph blog begins: “James Delingpole is a writer, journalist and broadcaster who is right about everything.” Such certainly is redolent of the extremist; even the Chairman has occasional doubts – although I know that’s hard for you, dear reader, to believe.

The National Union of Students has predicted that a degree will cost £9,000. That’s utterly scandalous. Don’t our universities realise there’s competition out there? I know for a fact that you can get them for well under a grand on the internet - and less than that in Manila.

A friend sent me this yesterday. A despicable example of sexism!

Men simply don’t carry yellow handkerchiefs – it has obviously been superimposed. Must be something to do with the near-side rule.

Now a treat for Death Metal fans; the world’s shortest Death Metal track, 'You Suffer' by Napalm Death. I urge all readers to listen:

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Tarbuck & Off-Side Surgeries

You simply wouldn’t believe the number of people who have recently landed on my blog when doing a Google search on ‘Vincent Tarbuck’ instead of ‘Vincent Tabak’ (which I can now add to the tally of ‘Gollum’ and ‘Worzel Gummidge’). Obviously I’m not the only one who heard news reporters pismonunciating his name.

Now repeat after me: “Tobacco.” Now replace the first ‘o’ with an ‘a’ and omit the final ‘o’ at the end. You can now pronounce this chap’s name in Dutch. Let’s have no more of this Tarbuck nonsense - he’s not an aged Scouse comedian with a penchant for golf, for God’s sake!

Apropos of the question of women bishops that is splitting the Anglican Communion, it would appear that some Sky football commentators are fomenting schism by articulating that they are not suited to refereeing footie matches either. I wonder whether female bishops understand the off-side rule? If not, then they’re damned for eternity. Buggered if I can understand it myself, but there again I too am damned.

There’s discussion in the UK over mixed race adoptions. Never mind about adoptions - can’t say I’m in favour of mixed marriages, such as between human / Trill symbiants and Klingons for example, especially if the Klingon in question has been raised by humans. Recipe for disaster.

Remember my rant against Barclays for closing my local branch on a Saturday? I still haven’t had a response to my on-line complaint. So much for customer service from The Big Bank!

Big Bastards!

Went to the doctor yesterday for a pressure test on the blood plumbing (which was within the prescribed bounds). It struck me as strange that doctors’ surgeries provide a massive screen that tells you when to go to a specific room, but also provide magazines to distract you so you don’t pay the slightest attention to the screen anyway. It’s OK for the doctors, as they have a Tannoy system, but the nurses in the treatment rooms don’t.

It also struck me that doctors’ surgeries are prime sources of epidemics, and here’s why: if you can’t turn the page of a magazine, what do you generally do? If you’re like me, then you lick your finger to give you more traction. However, if you’re at the doctor because you’ve got some nasty bug (which is invariably the case), then your hideously infected and potentially fatal spit is likely to infect whatever poor sod subsequently touches that magazine – especially if they also lick their fingers when turning the pages. Magazines should be eliminated from all doctors’ surgeries as health hazards.

Luckily I only go to the doctor when well, but I still run the risk of dying after contracting magazine-proliferated lurgy following my visit.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Our Team

Overheard in the caravan:

Newscaster: “Annie Lennox and the Archbishop of Canterbury are….”

Chairman: “Having a baby?”

Newscaster: “… lending their support to a protest against the government sell-off of national forests.”

Chairman: “Bugger!”

Apart from the idea of a bunch of adults arguing over whether a sky god says a woman can be a bishop or not is somewhat anachronistic in this day and age, I can’t help but feel that the defection of Anglican Bishops to Rome is a personal betrayal.

I almost view the Anglicans Communion as ‘our team’, despite me being a 100% practising atheist. I’m sure many with a cultural heritage that includes Protestantism feel the same way.

It’s a bit like supporting the football team of your city or town of birth, despite not having lived there for decades and having no logical allegiance to it.

On the subject causing the schism, those wishing to make women 2nd class citizens base their argument on excerpts from letters composed by some bugger who never even met Jesus.

Did Gary Oldman possibly base the character of Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in the film The 5th Element on GW Bush?

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Pain, Videos & Daughters

Been suffering the most God-awful pain since having the three teeth extracted last Wednesday – not from the empty sockets, but a perfectly healthy tooth about three doors down from one that was particularly reluctant to vacate my gums. Must be referred pain. Had to anaesthetise it last night with something red and alcoholic. Going to postpone having the other four removed this coming Wednesday till everything subsides.

Yesterday someone put out an offer on Freecyle for a large number of videos. I replied, enquiring as to whether they are tapes or DVDs, to which I received a very terse reply saying that, as per the advert, they are videos. I enquired of the offerer what she thought the ‘V’ in DVD stood for and left it at that.

Yes, I know it can also stand for ‘versatile’, but video is a technological process and not a format; video is stored on either film, tape, disk or flash memory.

Following the photographic example of fellow blogger and thoroughly good egg, Alan Burnett, I thought I’d play with a photo (I'd vote Alan as the replacement No.10 Press Chief). I'd like to introduce my beautiful No.2 daughter. A photographer friend in Reading took this photo a few years ago when my daughter was 19. I then played around with it to produce the next image.

She’s currently trying her luck at looking for a job in Liverpool. Not exactly the place that immediately jumps to mind when you mention the words 'looking for work', but if you want the ultimate challenge then that's the place to go.

Talking of Liverpool, I hear the chap they charged with Jo Yeates' murder could be a Scouser - heard a newsreader mispronouncing his name as Vincent Tarbuck, when it's actually Tabak.

Saturday, 22 January 2011


Overheard in the caravan:

The Chairman & Hay had been watching a documentary on Thin Lizzy.

Hay: “The remaining members don’t seem to have looked after their money very well – they all appear to live in council houses.”

Brian Robertson now : Brian Robertson then

In a ground-breaking, trans-species transplant in California, a woman has had a voice transplant from a donor frog.

It would seem that even the BBC is resorting to misreporting. Following some Dutch chap being taken in for questioning by Avon & Somerset police with regard to the Jo Yeates murder, and the police categorically refusing to confirm whether he’d actually been arrested, a BBC news article went on to say in the same article that the ‘arrest’ took place on Thursday.

I’m going to have to keep my head down for a while, as doubtless the Daily Mail will portray all Dutch people as a violent nation who bludgeon people to death with clogs and steal all our jobs. Angry mobs of Daily Mail readers will be out with their pitchforks, hunting down anyone who overuses the velar fricative, uses the letter D instead of the dental fricative, or merely has an upper respiratory tract infection, under the impression they are Dutchmen. That woman with the frog voice transplant had better watch out too.

Was watching Blair giving evidence yesterday at the Iraq inquest. You have to admit he’s a smooth operator and it’s impossible to tell whether he’s being insincere. Cameron, however, simply can’t pull off sincerity and I find it impossible to believe a word he says.

Friday, 21 January 2011


One Cardinal Bertone has had a go at Berlusconi for his questionable morals.

Aside from the fact that it's a bit rich for the Roman Catholic church to call into question the morals of those in positions of power, anyone who was associated with the styling of the Fiat X/19 really needs to refrain from having a go at anyone.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Doublespeak Teeth

The neutrality of Commons Speaker John Bercow was called into question when he revealed he quite likes Corn Flakes. Conservative minister, Alan Duncan, said his comments potentially undermined his impartiality: "The most important quality in any Speaker is his impartiality. Of course he has to look after his constituents, but he should be a step removed from any party political opinion."

In a beautiful example of doublespeak, Baroness Warsi has said that dividing Muslims into ‘normal’ and ‘extremist’ is not helpful, while simultaneously urging normal Muslims to ostracise the extremists.

Had three teeth extracted yesterday with another four to come out next Wednesday. Once that has been accomplished I will suffer the final humility of a set of dentures – unless I manage to get a job with a decent dental plan.

I suppose I’m lucky really – at my age my father didn’t have a single tooth of his own. At least I have the front ones, top and bottom.

My tooth problems really started when I had several crowns and a couple of bridges fitted about 10 years ago – all on a company dental plan. It cost some 3 grand in total. It’s all very well and good having crowns and bridges, providing you can afford to have them maintained. If you can’t, then they end up causing more problems than they are worth. Wish I’d never bothered now.

Have you noticed how politicians and union leaders, when interviewed by journalists, start by saying: "The fact is," and then launch into a torrent of blather totally devoid of any supporting fact whatsoever?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Wine, Daily Mail Readers, Segways & Banks

The minimum price of a bottle of wine will be £2.03, according to the new rules set by the government on the price of alcohol. However, don’t be fooled by this – any bottle of wine currently being sold at less that £2.03 is actually what we experts call vinegar, and thus a total rip-off.

The Christian owners of a hotel who refused to allow a gay couple a double room acted unlawfully, a judge has ruled. The hotel owners are considering an appeal on the basis of their deeply held beliefs, which are determined by that venerable tome of equality legislation and human rights morality - the bible.

I’m considering phoning them and asking if it’s OK for me to bring my slave with me to their B&B, for verily as the bible says: “You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.” (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT).

Now according to the above I’m forbidden to own British slaves (or is that only Jewish slaves?), but Americans are apparently fair game – although, if the truth be known, I’d much prefer to enslave the French.

In order to obey the strict letter of the bible, I must first convince them that I have owned said slave for less than six years. Naturally, all you good Christians out there will know what I’m talking about.

While delivering the papers yesterday I noted the Daily Mail headline: “30,000 pupils branded as bigots: Teachers log 'racist' and 'homophobic' jibes in playground squabbles, even at nursery.” Frankly, I’m surprised it’s only 30,000.

On getting home I looked up the article - and specifically the comments from typical Daily Mail readers, which I find reinvigorate my faith in the crass stupidity of certain portions of the human race. I was gratified in my assumption by the number of commentators who considered racist and homophobic jibes quite acceptable among primary school children. The whole tone of the article suggested that the kids making the jibes are the victims, not those they taunt and victimise!

Let’s get it straight, racist and homophobic jibes (with the exception of my earlier reference to the French) are forms of bullying – whether in the workplace or at school. The powers that be are laudably attempting to take a stance against bullying, primarily at the very behest of parents themselves. The earlier bullying is tackled (especially of the psychological kind), the earlier it is prevented from becoming a conditioned behaviour that continues into adulthood.

My son is horrified whenever he hears racist or homophobic comments – but I took the trouble to engage him in rational debate whenever I heard him making such jibes when younger and he has consequently assimilated my weltanschauung, for the most part. Kids generally repeat what they hear at home, which is a sad indictment on parenting today. My son, thankfully, is not afraid to challenge other kids who make racist or homophobic jibes, although he can occasionally transgress, but ceases when I threaten to sell him into slavery to a passing foreigner.

It would appear that, after a court ruling, it is illegal to use a Segway scooter on the pavement as it is a motor vehicle. The problem is that it does not meet the UK requirements for a road vehicle either, meaning you can’t use the bloody thing at all. Bit of a bummer if you’ve just shelled out £5k for one.

I went to my local Barclays Bank branch in Yate on Saturday to deposit a cheque and so the boy could report the loss of his debit card – which isn’t lost, but merely successfully and irretrievably hidden among all the detritus littering his bedroom floor. I was amazed to discover that in their wisdom, Barclays decided to shut my local branch on Saturdays while all the other 3 or 4 banks in the neighbourhood remain open.

When I told the member of the Borg Collective behind the counter that I intend to move my account to the Nat West a few doors down, he didn’t bat an eyelid or make any attempt to retain my custom. I wrote an email of complaint via Barclays’ website – needless to say I am still waiting for a response (other than the automated acknowledgement). I shall write to my MP, or perhaps the most powerful man in the world - Simon Cowell!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

This 'n' That

Overheard in the caravan (the Chairman is fumbling in his pockets):

Chairman: “Have you seen my electronic cigarette? I’m sure I had it in my pocket a few minutes ago.”

No.1 son: “Where did you see it last?”

Chairman: “It was in my pocket,” says the Chairman as he continues to fumble in his pockets: “and now it’s ………….. miraculously back in my pocket.”

Could this be how miracles were misinterpreted in the past? Jesus was a bloke, after all, as were all his disciples. “No, I’m sure I said a table for 5, not 5,000!” or “Sorry Lazarus, I forgot you were having a nap – thought you were dead.”

Apropos of the Pope’s initiative to encourage parents to bring back traditional Christian names; I was watching one of Simon King’s nature programmes on TV last night and he introduced his 2 year-old daughter Savannah. He then said he was going to see Shetland. I wasn’t sure whether he meant the place or another of his brood. Perhaps he should call his next child Tundra, or possibly Serengeti. Yate would probably not be an option.

Listened to the list of Golden Globe winners on the radio yesterday morning and was surprised Jamie Oliver didn’t win one for Best Fish & Chip Supper. My God, aren’t films these days about the most inane subjects imaginable? A king’s stammer, a website and a neurotic ballerina! Whatever next? Microsoft the Movie? The King’s Anal Fistula? Saddler’s Wells Idol on Ice?

Following hard on the heels of a Tunisian bloke setting himself on fire, an Egyptian and possibly a Mauritanian have now followed suit. The former allegedly did it to make a protest about his poverty and job prospects. Are we to now see all those on Job Seekers’ Allowance engaging in acts of self-immolation outside Job Centres up and down the country? It’ll certainly clag up the NHS if they do, despite Cameron’s reorganisations.

There’s an article on the BBC website about using modern technology in job hunting – such as Linked-In, YouTube, FaceBook, etc (see the video below). However, none of this is of the slightest use when applying for a job in the public sector, as even the humble curriculum vitae has yet to be adopted within this market. They make you fill in their on-line, department-specific forms, which contain sufficient job history space for nothing other than someone who has just left school or has had less than two previous employers.

Ever heard of Swindon’s Magic Roundabout? I’ve been round this automotive initiative test a few times and it’s hideous – as you can see from the image below. It looks more like one of those kids’ town centre play mats than a serious attempt to get traffic to go in the right direction.

Its saving grace is that the level of confusion it instils in the petrified drivers ensures that cars are going too slow to do each other any serious damage when they collide.

Monday, 17 January 2011


Gazza is suing the News of the World newspaper over allegations his voicemail was hacked. Why would anyone be even vaguely interested in his bulk phone order from Thresher?

Six MPs who are facing a fraud enquiry can’t be named for ‘legal reasons’, yet anyone taken in for questioning in the Jo Yeates murder had their names splashed all over the media and their most intimate details published. It strikes me that there’s something not quite fair in this.

I was watching a tribute to the late actor Pete Postlethwaite on TV the other night. It showed him in the film ‘Brassed Off’, which is about a Yorkshire colliery band during the closure of numerous coal mines in the north. Apparently Postlethwaite was himself a fervent supporter of the miners and abhorred the manner in which their communities were being destroyed. However, Postlethwaite (a fervent climate campaigner) was later shown threatening to hand his OBE back to Ed Miliband if the then Labour government went ahead with the construction of a coal-fired power station. I wonder what his position would have been had climate change been recognised as an issue in the 80s.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

An Amazing Time

It’s Hay’s 46th birthday this coming week (party time) and in April it will be five years since we met – it’s been an amazing time and such a lot has happened.

I’ve loved the same woman for nearly 5 years, but if Hay ever found out she’d kill me.

Ballet dancers are kicking off because a new film, Black Swan, does not portray real life in the ballet world.

Hello, it's Hollywood! Since when has any film, even a biography, accurately portrayed anything? If Hollywood were to be believed, the US won both World Wars single handedly.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Tweeting a Psychometric Taffy

A fellow blogger has alerted me to the fact that the US Dept of Justice has asked Twitter for the personal details of all Twitterers who subscribe to the WikiLeaks Tweets. I have just rejoined Twitter and subscribed to the WikiLeaks Tweets. Go on, do it yourself - you know it makes sense.

It’s a fact that all attempts to censor end up making the censors look totally and utterly ridiculous. Hitler apparently prohibited people from calling their dogs Adolph; the BBC’s banning of ‘God Save the Queen’ by the Sex Pistols made the record a guaranteed success.

Talking of repressive regimes, apparently the Taliban has reconsidered its opposition to girls being educated. Perhaps they will now want to set up one of those ‘free’ state schools in the UK.

I was stood behind an elderly couple in the queue at the local post office yesterday. The bloke was bemoaning the fact that parcels no longer seem to get to where they are sent and it took him 3 months to get one to Ireland. He turned to his wife and said (loud enough for all to hear): “The country is full of people from Bongo-Bongo land and no-one even knows where Eire is anymore.” His wife nudged him hard in the ribs and told him to shut up. He continued: “Christ, you can’t say such things anymore, can you? It’s alright to call someone Taffy though,” he said, looking at me and winking. I stared hard at him and in my best Welsh accent said: “You have mortally offended me now, boyo!” He looked away somewhat sheepishly.

Psychometric tests! If you’re subject to one as part of a job interview and get rejected, are there grounds for appeal if those already employed by the company haven’t yet taken one? Furthermore, if psychometric tests are implemented in the recruitment process, shouldn’t all existing employees take the test to ensure they are suitable, and if any fail, should they not be summarily dismissed?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Consultants to Imaginary Friends

I think I’ve figured out why footballers and football managers are paid so bloody much – every man jack of them is a consultant – they’re on a contract, therefore they must be. That makes them as bad as the buggers who have plagued business for so long. My solution is for the directors to wait till the contracts run out and then offer them permanent work on minimum wages.

Hay has started to wrap the cheese in greaseproof paper. I suspect this is part of a dastardly plot to ensure she can hear the crackle of paper when I conduct commando raids on the fridge at night.

I hear Manchester City Council is getting rid of 2,000 staff. That should reduce the Facebook and Twitter traffic considerably and possibly enable the council to reduce its internet bandwidth.

Apparently the Pope is lobbying for a resurgence in baptismal Christian names, rather than people naming their kids after a wine, a place they went for their holiday or a character from Lord of the Rings. A contender is Saint Wilgefortis from the 14th Century, who took a vow of virginity when she was promised in marriage by her father. Following her prayers for help, she grew a beard and moustache. I think it much more likely that she reached 50 and it occurred naturally.

There’s a study taking place in the UK concerning the age at which children start to lose their imaginary friends. It’s strange that if a child grows up and retains their imaginary friend then we call them deranged – unless of course they’re religious, in which case we call them pious.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

100 Greatest Scammers of All Time

Terence Freemen, the bloke from Essex who scammed his clients of £14m through a Ponzi scheme, seems to have eaten most of his ill-gotten gains.

If something looks too good to be true, then it invariably is. Why can some people not understand this? Those who ignore this fundamental rule of investment become subject to financial natural selection – the elimination of the greedy. One of the victims said that the scammer looked honest; can anyone tell me how someone is meant to look if they are dishonest?

The boy has been studiously applying himself to his new (or rather old) electric guitar over the last few days and can already play a couple of small riffs. This has pleased me enormously considering the bass guitar I bought him in the summer had as much attention as an IKEA flatpack instruction manual. Bought him a guitar strap and have a few finger picks on order.

Not to be outshone, dad showed him short and curtailed riffs from Voodoo Chile and A Small Fruit Song, dredged from some 40 year-old memories and taught to him by Doug Huxtable, the boy who bunked next to him at school.

We’ve been watching ‘The History of Rock & Roll” series on TV and I have reached the conclusion that punk was merely an interlude – a bit like the mucous green mush of the chrysalis stage of the caterpillar before it transforms into a moth or butterfly. I cannot recall a single famous punk guitar riff, although I’m sure some sad bugger will remind me of one.

We had a trawl through the Rolling Stone "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". A travesty that neither John Lee Hooker or Buckethead are listed - and that Dave Gilmour is languishing in the low 80s.

Why do I bloody bother?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Boats, Trains & Automobiles

I’m sure Hay is going deaf. I tested her last night by standing at the other end of the caravan and saying: “Can you hear me?” Nothing. I stood nearer and again said: “Can you hear me?” Again nothing. I went right next to her and repeated the question once more. This time she said: “good heavens, for the third time, yes!”

Some bloke in Naples has invented the first snot gun, which could cause havoc at international airports around the world, as it’s virtually undetectable without sneezing powder – and even then there’s an attendant risk of the owner killing someone during the process of discovery.

Now that the A Level A grade has less intrinsic worth than a piece of used toilet paper, Oxford is asking for nothing less than a full set of A* grades as evidence of a candidate being able to perform rudimentary spelling and simple mental arithmetic.

Made it to the Boat Show yesterday, but was a tad annoyed when I got chucked off the return train at Reading because I came back an hour earlier than the train I’d booked. I thought the ticket was an off-peak return, but apparently if you book your trains online then you have to stick to the exact trains you booked – even in the middle of off-peak times. Nice way for the train operators to make extra dosh if you miss your connection. I jumped on the next train home from Reading, but got chucked off again at Swindon, having to wait an hour for my booked train. I wouldn’t have minded, but the trains were practically empty.

It’s been a while since I’ve travelled on the London underground during the morning rush hour (it’s about 10 years since I worked there) and noticed that whereas commuters used to read books or newspapers, they now play games on their touch-screen mobile phones or iPads.

Here are some photos:

Royal Victoria Dock (the Boat Show venue) – but not as I remember it. In the background are the Millennium Dome and Canary Wharf.

This is a statue of a bunch of dockers outside the ExCel Exhibition Centre. It’s a nice touch how the cable appears to be suspended from thin air in the manner of a sky hook.

This was outside the venue too – the new Range Rover Evoque. Bit draughty, if you ask me, and a bit light on protection.

Did take some photos of the boats, but they weren’t very good due to the lighting.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Have You Seen My .......

Yesterday Hay and I came up with the most oft-used phrases men use with women. They are as follows:

  • Have you seen my (fill in the last word with any noun), and
  • Where did you put my (fill in the last word with any noun).

Damien Hirst, the enfant terrible of British art was in the news recently for some half-arsed work he ‘created’ involving a conservatory, some garden furniture and a vat of maggots – the kind of stuff I think about in my nightmares. I find that the words ‘enfant terrible’ usually translate into ‘pretty shite at doing what he does’.

Some say he’s a true artist, as he was the first to conceive of the work. No he bloody didn’t, he merely copied it from a Wyevale garden centre; you can go to any local garden centre on a Sunday afternoon in July and see this work of art yourself. Blatant plagiarism!

An ex undercover policeman has offered to give evidence on behalf of the group he had infiltrated, resulting in the collapse of the Crown Prosecution Service’s case against a bunch of climate protesters. Now call me old fashioned, but I didn’t think climate protesters were on the international hit list of terrorist organisations. What a ghastly waste of public money! Furthermore, had the ex policeman been summonsed to give evidence on the part of the defendants, then surely he would have no choice in the matter anyway? I suspect he was a double agent - an eco-warrior who managed to infiltrate the police.

It’s somewhat ironic that while public service jobs are being decimated due to the spending cuts and the private sector is tasked with replacing those jobs, the only jobs I see in the Sunday papers’ appointments supplements are public service jobs.

That Sarah Palin is getting some flak about something or other (I wish).

Off to the London Boat Show today – not to buy a boat, but to see a man from Korea about a job. Have to leave on the 6 o‘clock train to avoid having to take out a small mortgage for the rail fare. I think Hay has synaesthesia; she said my ties was loud. I am wearing my lucky underpants and my lucky interview socks. Pray for me.

By the way, is it true that of you play Whole Lotta Love backwards there’s a hidden message that says ‘Shop at Tesco’s’?

Monday, 10 January 2011


Some commentators say that the US demanding Julian Assange’s Twitter data is poetic justice.

There’s a big difference, however; the US cables were leaked, whereas Assange’s data is being demanded. Were it leaked, it would be a different matter – although would it? Assange is not democratically elected and has harmed no-one.

It seems Big Brother has become a reality – although, if you don’t want democratically elected busy-bodies who are a law unto themselves reading your intimate details, don’t post them on the most insecure system known to man.

Sunday, 9 January 2011


Absolutely bloody amazing what you can get on Freecycle after the Christmas clearout - but you have to be quick - and be prepared to ask.

Yesterday I managed to get an electric guitar with amp (an ask) and a Raleigh 15 speed bike (an unwanted item following an Xmas replacement) for No.1 son.

The boy is now busy researching Bert Wheedon's 'Play in a Day' on the interweb. If it was good enough for Clapton, then it's good enough for him.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Power Balancing Bollocks & Buckethead

I have noticed a recent spate of people on Freecycle getting rid of those humungous TVs that were all the rage 10 or so years ago, meaning that plasma TV shops must have been rubbing their hands with glee over the last few weeks. Can’t think why anyone would want an obsolete, 2nd hand, 600 odd inch TV that takes a crane to install it, requires the floor to be reinforced and monopolises half your living room.

Have you heard the latest health scam? Power Balance Bracelets. They’re £30 plastic wristbands with a hologram stuck on them. According to the company marketing these devices: “Power Balance is based on the idea of optimizing the body’s natural energy flow, similar to concepts behind many Eastern philosophies. The hologram in Power Balance is designed to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body.”

Right, for something to resonate with something else means that both those somethings must have a frequency. I defy anyone to tell me the natural frequency of the human energy field – whatever the human energy field may be. I also defy anyone to tell me the frequency of a hologram. If neither of these attributes is measurable, how the hell can you ensure they resonate?

The company is very careful to ensure it makes no specific scientific, health or performance improvement claims on the website any more – and that’s because there aren’t any and any possible effect is no more than that of a placebo. The marketing all works on the power of suggestion, leaving your mind to fill the gaps and bask in the halo effect of iconic (and gullible) sportsmen and women, like David Beckham and his ilk (who probably get a nice fat cheque) exhibiting them.

The correct scientific explanation is that these devices work on the same principle as your lucky underpants – your own gullibility and the desire for a quick fix. Quack, quack!

Anyone know why it's illegal to sell spuds by the pound, but draught beer is quite legally sold by the pint in pubs?

And now for some Buckethead:

I love the way this builds in intensity and layers.

Here's a version with higher production values, but not as intense:

Friday, 7 January 2011

A Good Day for Overhearing Things in the Caravan

Overheard in the caravan (we were listening to the Planet Rock radio station):

Hayley: “Do you know why Brian Johnson wears a cap?”

Chairman: “Brian Johnston the cricket commentator? I would imagine to keep the sun off his bonce.”

Hayley: “No, Brian Johnson the lead singer of AC/DC.”

Overheard in the caravan:

Hayley: “I don't really like Gene Simmons' voice.”

Chairman: “Oh, I don't know. she was a very good actress."

Hayley: "No, Gene Simmons of Kiss, not Jean Simmonds.”

Overheard in the caravan:

Chairman: “Who sang that song ‘In the Middle of the Night’?”

Hayley: “Billy Jo-el.”

Chairman: “Wasn’t he Superman’s dad?"

Hayley: "No, that was Jor-El.”

A wonderful, heart-warming story about a beggar whose voice has become his saviour. This video went ballistic on Youtube and he’s now inundated with offers from TV and radio stations.

I just hope the demons that drove him to drink and drugs and a life on the streets do not come back to haunt him and that he’s not exploited. For an update on him, click here (there’s an advert first, but bear with me). It will bring a tear to your eye.

Overheard in the caravan:

Hayley: “What you call the grey in my hair is actually blonde streaks.”

Chairman: “Oh yeah; and what you call fat on my body is actually relaxed muscle.”

OK – now I’ve seen it all. Apropos of yesterday’s post concerning the purchase of a Hayne’s Lancaster Bomber Workshop Manual for Caravan, I came across the following on Amazon:

Overheard in the caravan (the Chairman had just shown Hayley the above image):

Hayley: “There actually is a ship called the USS Enterprise. It was on the news for something yesterday.”

Chairman: “That’s right, it’s an American aircraft carrier – the captain was sacked for being a twerp.”

Hayley: “Exceeding the warp drive limit? Using photon torpedoes inappropriately? Incorrect phaser setting?”

I also spotted this one:

Any suggestions for some more outlandish Owners’ Workshop Manuals?

Wafaa Bilal is an Iraqi artist who has had a camera attached to the back of his skull with bolts for a year long art exhibition. It takes an image every minute and sends it to his website.

Art? More like Twitter on steroids! There must be at least 3,000 images just of his toilet cistern.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Hayne's Lancaster Bomber Owners' Workshop Manual

On Tuesday I went to Bath with No.1 son so he could spend his Xmas book tokens. While scrutinising the shelves at Waterstone’s I spotted these books from the Hayne’s Owners’ Workshop Manual series, used by motorists throughout the UK:

Given Caravan (Hay’s dad) has a penchant for WWII aircraft, I am considering buying him the Lancaster Bomber Owners’ Workshop Manual or his birthday on Valentine’s Day.

A motorist who flashed oncoming cars to warn them of a speed trap has been prosecuted for obstructing a police officer in the course of her duty. Next time I see someone travelling too fast, I shan’t bother to do my civic duty and warn them to slow down, additionally absolving myself of any responsibility for the ensuing death and carnage when he or she ploughs into a bus stop full of elderly Viagra addicts at the next bend.

Irrespective of the motorist’s intent, it should not be a crime to attempt to prevent a motoring offence taking place. The police themselves are guilty of this, as they have, by law, to place a sign a certain distance in front of any speed trap as a warning.

Saudi Arabia has detained a vulture on a charge of spying for the Israelis because it had a GPS associated with an Israeli university attached to its leg. They must have thought that its beak gave it away. Next they’ll be saying the shark that was recently cruising and attacking people off Sharm el-Sheikh was an Israeli spy; oh, hang on – they have accused the shark of being a Zionist agent!

While the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) chairman, Sir Ian Kennedy, says he believes the revamped expenses system is "working well", some MPs are pressing for IPSA to be scrapped - saying it is too bureaucratic and costly. I wonder if that’s because no MP has managed to abuse his or her expenses since the IPSA came into existence. Saying it’s too bureaucratic and costly sounds like a good argument for scrapping any and every policing service. Methinks the MPs protest too much.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Facebook, VAT & Vapour

Overheard in the caravan:

Hayley: “Why did you put the dried fruit in the fridge?”

Chairman: “Did I? I thought I had put it in the cupboard.”

Hayley: “Oh dear – am I going to find a teapot in the oven? Where did you put the boy’s school sandwiches?”

Chairman: “They’re in the bottom of the fridge, but I refuse to be held liable if you find them in the bedroom.”

I thought it was rather dark yesterday morning. Until Hay told me there was a solar eclipse I was thinking that perhaps we were set for Chronozon, the Lord of the Abyss, to make an appearance and considered preparing a cat to sacrifice to him.

Saw a wonderful name on the side of a van yesterday – Chris Tallis. I’m not fibbing – look up

George Osborne, the Chancellor, has suggested that increasing the price of almost everything by 2.5% is going to create jobs and get us out of the recession. Not sure where he studied economics, but getting the population to rein back on spending because their shopping has become more expensive overnight is not exactly what you need to create jobs. The poor bastards round here are already turning to loan sharks to cope.

Talking of money, Facebook is reputed to be worth in the order of $50bn. This valuation is predicated on the amount of money a certain bank (remember those) has been prepared to ‘invest’ in Facebook.

Facebook manufactures nothing and owns virtually nothing. Its business case is based solely on its relationship with a billion or so subscribers who pay nothing to Facebook; a relationship Facebook does not seem to value all that highly.

  • I buy nothing from adverts on Facebook.
  • Facebook tells me little, except the minutiae of the daily lives of some of my friends – it is socially and commercially valueless to me.
  • It bombards me with inane apps, which if I sign up to them, garner my personal details and those of my contacts – solely with the intent of spamming them.

Call me old fashioned, but surely pouring someone else’s money into vapourware is how a global financial collapse is seeded. Might as well sink your money into black tulips.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Overheard in the caravan:

Hayley: “That buzzard is being mobbed by those two crows. They seem very territorial; perhaps they’re starting to build a nest.”

Chairman: “A bit early for that, isn’t it?”

Hayley: “Mmm – perhaps they have planning permission and are putting the foundations in.”

The government is saying that the National Union of Teachers is ‘blindly opposed’ to the new free, or independent, state schools.

Right – for a start (and according to my understanding), teachers at these schools will not need formal qualifications. That’s a bit like saying surgeons won’t need formal qualifications at private surgical units; perhaps just a bit of City & Guilds butchery experience.

Additionally, faith groups will be able to run such schools. That’s science straight out of the curriculum for some faith schools then, as these schools do not even need to follow the National Curriculum.

Are these ministry men absolutely barking mad?

Monday, 3 January 2011

Started Your Diet Yet?

Noticed how all the commercial TV stations are pumping out diet adverts?

Why are there always Christmas pop songs but no New Year pop songs?

These are some images of the garden during the cold spell; it was transformed into a fairy grotto.

It’s amazing how the utterly hideous or mundane can be transformed into a thing of beauty by something potentially lethal. This is a piece of steel reinforcing grid for concrete.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Oye Como Va

Overheard in the caravan:

The Chairman is putting on a new pair of trousers and expressing genuine surprise: "It's amazing how they manage to make leather belts look and feel like real plastic these days."

Love the Android APad I bought No.1 son for Christmas! Even Hay has been playing with it. The only thing it can’t seem to do is use BBC iPlayer. Not sure what No.1 son is going to do when he returns from Centre Parcs tomorrow and I tell him I want to keep it for myself and he’ll have to make do with a bag of sweets.

Been a bit perturbed about the reportage surrounding the chap who was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Jo Yeates’ and then bailed. Most of the tabloids have been demonising him for his eccentric looks. If the papers had their way, then every odd looking person in the UK would be locked up for some crime or other for, as we all know, only odd looking or unconventional people commit crimes…….

A little something to cheer you up on a dismal January Sunday. I defy you to not move some part of your body:

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year? Bah, Humbug!

Happy New Year everyone! We celebrated by being fast asleep in bed by 10pm, thus avoiding the crowds by getting there early. I put my phone on silent and then everyone who sent me a text at midnight was sent a reply at 5am. That should ensure I’m left off the list next year.

The US, UK and Germany have criticised the new six-year sentence imposed by a Russian court on former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The US said the new sentence seemed to be an abuse of Russia's legal system.

In light of the machinations the US is going through to silence Julian Assange, I’d say the words pot, kettle and black sprang to mind. At least, unlike some fascist American politicians, Russian politicians are not openly calling for someone to be assassinated (they have more sense than that and would just go ahead and order it without any announcements).

A little something for New Year’s Day – watch out for the drummer, Brie Howard, who actually was a drummer.

Strangely enough, she was the actual drummer in Robert Palmer's 'Addicted to Love', but did not appear in the famous video. I can't understand why though, as the girl miming the drumming is utterly useless - even at miming.