Tuesday, 31 July 2012


I'm downgrading my growth forecast for 2012 and asking the ECB for a bail-out fund.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Those Weird Dutch

I took a couple of photos of some really weird buildings I saw in Holland - one in Rotterdam and the other just outside Schiphol airport.

This 2nd one looks like two badly constructed edifices stitched together in some Frankenstein manner. Or even a part-collapsed building - somewhat redolent of Ground Zero, if you ask me.

Sunday, 29 July 2012


Against my better judgement, Perry persuaded me to go and see a testimonial football match yesterday. Manchester City Legends vs Bristol City Legends at Ashton Gate (some of the Legends had played for both sides in their time and thus swapped sides every now and again). The only name I recognised was Asa Hartford.

My seat was 27K in section D. It is shown below between humungous bloke on the left and Perry on the right (who is not a small chap himself).

As you will have by now divined, I did not take the seat allocated to me - it was a physical impossibility.

In case you're wondering 2:1 to Manchester City. The match was played at 1/4 normal speed.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Triumph & Useless Things for Useless People

Have to say I was quite impressed with the opening ceremony, although I would imagine a lot of it was lost on those poor dears not lucky enough to be British. Anything as complex as that was bound to have parts of it going over heads (some of it was lost on me too), but well done Danny Boyle! I didn't watch the whole thing and switched off when some athletes with flags invaded the pitch. Not sure what they were doing there - perhaps it was the interlude entertainment. Mrs Queen and Bond was a masterstroke, although I'm certain it wasn't the real Bond...

Had a gander at the dross available at Schiphol airport yesterday on the way home (glad I came back via Bristol and not LHR).

For starters there's the Funnel Friend - you and I might know this as the jug, but not the people marketing this very expensive and cutting-edge labour-saving device. 

Next, for your delectation, I present the bowl with a built-in spoon-rest. The fact it's hard to get the spoon off and then on again is by-the-by, as is the fact you don't really need a spoon-rest on a bowl - the bowl itself serves that function quite adequately on its own - or the table. It also makes stacking the bowl a tad difficult. Utterly pointless!

Then we have the expensive bit of hi-tech, Formula 1 machinery that doubles as a garlic crusher. What's wrong with the flat side of a knife, for God's sake, or even the palm of your hand (a la Jamie)?

I think I'll move into designing stuff for people with more money than sense - like an arm rest for an iPhone or a wallet opener.

The people in Holland seemed blissfully unaware there was a world-shattering event about to be held across the North Sea - it was wonderful, no wall-to-wall Olympics! The continent is very obviously isolated.

I hear that Assad is claiming his Tweet about bombing Aleppo was a joke.

Friday, 27 July 2012


When coming here to the Netherlands I took the strategic decision to come out from Bristol - it means I can return via Bristol today and won't have to negotiate hordes of sickeningly fit Olympians, disgustingly corrupt Olympic officials and surly immigrations officials.

If anyone wants to come here for a little holiday, I can heartily recommend Zwolle.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

Heads You Win, Tails You Lose

With news that the UK recession has deepened, it's ironic that the government's spending spree on the 2012 Olympics is about to draw to a close.

This does little for the argument that government spending on infrastructure would help bring about an end to the recession.

There again, it could be argued that the drop in Olympic infrastructure expenditure has brought about the deepening of the recession, which bolsters the argument but demonstrates that such spending has to be sustained for the long term, which is simply mortgaging the future.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Off travelling again. I detest airports with a vengeance.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

VAT 77(k)

The government is having a go at people who are willing to pay plumbers cash-in-hand to avoid having to pay VAT.

I'm not sure why they're singling out plumbers. To register your business for VAT in the first place you have to be turning over £77k a year. I don't know many individual plumbers with that amount of business.

I would imagine any being lucky enough in having that level of turnover would try to keep it just under the £77k to avoid the red tape, hassle and increased cost (and hence uncompetitiveness) that goes with VAT registration.

The Daily Mail targets cleaners. Most cleaners I know aren't even in the tax bracket in the first place, let alone in the VAT category.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Public / Private

Was reading an article in the Sunday Times yesterday - some woman was complaining about male office culture and how her male work colleagues thought it was the height of hilarity to fart loudly in front of her. What's wrong with these people? I just can't believe this kind of behaviour! She's obviously had a humour bypass if she doesn't find that funny.

On Saturday I was listening to Any Questions on the Radio. One of the panellists was a chap called Owen Jones. He writes columns for various newspapers and is a rabid left-winger. This prat annoyed me intensely; he doesn’t like allowing anyone else to speak, has opinions based on dogma, rather than logic or analysis, and is an annoying little shit with very little experience of life. 

He was repeating the left-wing mantra that the public sector is far superior to the private sector – a one-size-fits-all philosophy – using the G4S debacle as an example. For a start, it is very easy to generalise on the basis of one single example – but fallacious and not very clever. Secondly, G4S will pay for the mistakes they have made – the public sector rarely suffers consequences, as there invariably is no competition to step in. 

Public sector is good in certain areas, but private sector is good in others – one size does not fit all, and to suggest it does is pure dogma with no evidence to back it up. 

What is bad, whether in the public or private sector, is a monopoly. Monopolies concentrate too much power, stifle innovation, breed inefficiency and can easily hold the public to ransom. The public sector tends, by its very nature, to suffer more from monopolistic tendencies and the dictatorship of the public sector unions, who have been responsible for the wholesale destruction of numerous industries; shipbuilding, car manufacturing, the coal industry, steel making, etc.

Public sector failures affect the entire population and have few consequences for the public sector itself; private sector failures affect only a small portion of the population, but affect the service companies massively, as they can easily go out of business as competitors step in.

No - it's not a case of either being intrinsically better than the other; it's horses for courses, but neither must be allowed to become a monopoly.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Wash Some Olympic Confidence In

Overheard in the Caravan: 

The Chairman and Hayley are watching TV when an advert comes of for Head and Shoulders shampoo, alleging that it washes confidence into you. 

Chairman: "Shall I get some Head and Shoulders and get some confidence?" 

 Hay: "God no - any more confidence and you'd be insufferable - (sotto voce) and if you had a brain you'd be dangerous."

Is anyone aware of a celeb or superannuated athlete who is NOT carrying the Olympic torch at some time?

One hears that the Sunday trading laws are to be suspended during the Olympics. One of the arguments being used is that it will help unemployment and boost the economy.

Help unemployment? a few extra hours on 2 Sundays? If you want to boost employment and help the economy, then the only answer is getting rid of the laws during the entire recession. You either have laws and stick to them, or you don't.

A government spokesthing mouthed some blatherskite about it only being a temporary measure and not a test case for getting rid of the Sunday trading laws. That means it's obviously a test case for getting rid of the Sunday trading laws.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Police & Army at Olympics

Chairman Bill understands that the police and the army will be once more asked to stand in for another group of lazy bastards who can't be bothered to show up for the Olympics - the spectators.

Give them a bonus, I say!

The Chairman has also learned that Mark Rothko's 'Orange, Red and Yellow' sold for $86.9m in May this year.

The person or institution that bought it needs a serious reality check, if you ask me, as well as a colour blindness test. Perhaps the colours and the price were ironic statements...

Friday, 20 July 2012

There Is No Such Thing As Bad Publicity.

President Assad of Syria is getting more publicity than the Olympics. 

Do you think Adidas, BA, Coke, MacDonalds and all the other official Olympic sponsors will switch to sponsoring Assad?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Airborne Nosh

Had breakfast at LHR T5 yesterday morning before my flight to Denmark. Selected a croissant with cheese and ham. Was asked if I wanted it toasted. Didn't realise that meant flattened in a trouser press to make it look like roadkill. Hideous!

Then had the BA breakfast on the plane - a bun with reconstituted sausage & egg. Hideous!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Infinity And Beyond - To the Olympics!

Don't know about you, but I'm getting a bit fed up of M Class planets.

The boss of G4S, like the rest of us, wishes he'd never heard of the bloody Olympics.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Grammar As She Is Spoke in Jon Lord Coalition

OK, all you Brits! Can anyone tell me why one can say, "He isn't," but the negative auxilliary verb, "I amn't," is frowned upon, except in Scotland, where many things are possible? Logically there's nothing wrong with amn't - I think I'll start to drop it into conversation and see what the reaction is, innit!

Boris has said the coalition is doomed to continue while Cameron and Clegg have done a bit of chummying up for the cameras. On that basis I'd say it will last till...... oh..... teatime a week on Friday.

Off to Scandahooliga tomorrow for a few days - back Friday to catch the mayhem at Heathrow. Taking a sleeping bag just in case.

Monday, 16 July 2012

And They Say the BBC Isn't Dumbed Down

I was watching a program on BBC4 last night about the Civil War. I've never seem or heard so much rot and misinformation.

Two of the commentators were those eminent historians, Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen and Clarissa Dickson-Wright. Give me strength!

In one scene they showed the New Model Army cavalry charging while the voice-over was talking about the Cavalier thunderbolt charge at the Battle of Edge Hill. OK, for a start the New Model Army didn't even exist  in 1642 and they showed the wrong side charging. It just went from bad to worse.

It was announced today that there will be a £9bn electrification of certain railway lines. Fares will have to go up to pay for it - the same is happening to the National Grid.

I remember a time when improvements came out of past profits that had been saved up - it was called investment. These days it seems that profits go into the shareholders' pockets (or are squandered elsewhere if government owned) and investment comes from higher service or product costs.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Conflicting Homespuns & Bonuses

  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • You have to speculate to accumulate.

Which is right? Any more conflicting homespuns, aphorisms, proverbs or adages you can think of?

People are clamouring for army personnel who are being detailed to guard the Olympic venues to be given bonuses. Given the choice of:

  • being in Afghanistan and dodging Taliban bullets, or 
  • herding tourists in London and receiving a hot meal every day, 
which choice would you make, and would you want a bonus for it? I'd prefer a bonus for dodging the bullets.

That said, if the soldiers are having to give up leave to perform these duties, then by all means give them a bonus; similarly if they are returning from theatres of war to be dismissed as part of the MoD cuts.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Newton Faulkner in the Stocks

Saw an advert yesterday for an album by a singer-songwriter called Newton Faulkner. Sounds more like a town. I've never quite understood the penchant of some Caucasians for wearing dreadlocks.

Following my approach to the Neighbourhood Watch committee yesterday, and in recognition of the fact I have recent experience of oak roof trusses and oak cladding, I have been appointed Keeper of the Stocks within the newly created Neighbourhood Vigilante committee. I am certain this is what the government means by 'swift and sure justice'.

The village stocks are in a poor state after decades of neglect and I shall give them a rough wire brushing, followed by a liberal coat of Danish oil, which is actually boiled linseed oil. Boiling linseed oil polymerises it, facilitating long-lasting protection for wood.

Now some of you might not agree with restorative retribution, or lynch-mob vengeance, as we experts in justice call it. However, the laws are set by the politicians and the politicians receive their mandate from the electorate - all we're doing is cutting out the middle-man and thereby assisting with public service cuts. Times are hard, after all, and we all need to make sacrifices - especially of recidivists.

I'm currently trying to persuade the village knitting circle to turn their hands to weaving a wicker man and local farmers to donate some pitchforks to the village armoury I'm creating. I'm also hopeful of the local poultry farmer providing a steady supply of feathers to go with the few barrels of tar I've asked the council highways department for.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Friday the 13th Vigilanges

It's Friday the 13th again. It won't affect me though, as I'm not superstitious - and I have my lucky rabbit's foot anyway.

Thinking of extending the local Neighbourhood Watch into a local Neighbourhood Vigilante group. It's all to do with this 'justice in the community' thing, The Big Society and restorative retribution.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Olympic Security

Not enough Olympic security guards? 

Bus some Afghan security guards in for the duration of the games - problem solved!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Thank God for First Great Western

We have the main railway line to the southwest running about a hundred yards from us. Thankfully it's situated in a 100 foot deep cutting after exiting from a long tunnel under a local escarpment and thus we don't get much in the way of noise. What with all the flooding, I'm actually glad it's there, as the cutting will form a canal before we ever risk getting flooded.

May invest in another boat if this weather continues and moor it at the bridge over the railway cutting.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A Brief History of HoL Reform

There are plans afoot to develop a device that can read Stephen Hawking's mind. Bit of a mistake, if you ask me. I guarantee that they'll discover that what he was actually trying to type was: "Pass me a beer, innit," which accidentally resulted in the publication of A Brief History of Time.

The question of House of Lords reform is big news here in the UK. In its current guise, the House of Lords is filled with the rump of the aristocracy, bishops, judges and life-peers - the latter invariably being from within the ranks of the political elite with a few of the great and the good thrown in for good measure. The HoL is a revising body and has no political power beyond the ability to delay government legislation.

The Lib-Dems want to replace the current HoL with a directly elected body having the ability (and not just the potential) to defy the House of Commons through democratic legitimacy. It also, by logical inference, dismisses the role of the Queen, as she is the boss aristo and de facto head of the current HoL.

The alternative of creating a HoL comprising solely the great and the good is an ideal fraught with problems; who chooses the members and how can that possibly be free of political interference? Given the political elite currently appoints new members, the current system is highly contaminated by politics anyway.

You can either leave the system as it is, or do away with it completely. If fairness is the aim, then there is no fair alternative; if scrutiny is the objective, appoint a team of constitutional lawyers to do the job. If it ain't broke, don't fix it; if it is broke, then get rid of it. Sweden and Finland manage to get along just fine without an upper chamber.

Monday, 9 July 2012


I don't tend to have that many readers in France, but something tickled their fancy last week.

I spotted this neat trail of views that travelled down (or possibly up) the E15 motorway, which shows admirably how viruses spread.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

End of Term Report - Nul Points

Has anyone else got problems interpreting these damned school reports?

Rather than letting me know No.1 son's position in the class within each subject, I'm informed as to how he has fared against his expected attainment - I'm comparing him with himself, which is a total and utterly solipsistic nonsense. If his teachers think he's not got much hope, then his expected level of attainment ain't going to be that high in the first place.

Yes, you get some matrix that tells you what percentage have achieved certain levels, but I want a single sheet of paper that's quick to read and assimilate - not half a dozen pieces of paper that need to be placed on the floor and cross referenced several times over in order to derive any knowledge whatsoever.

I'm not sure whether to box his ears or congratulate him.

Oh for some sensible education policies.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Deep Cuts @ Deepcut Sabbath

I'm not sure of the wisdom of these army cuts - you could almost say deep cuts at Deepcut. Releasing on to the streets some 20,000 people having no discernable qualification beyond knowing how to kill someone with a matchstick, does not give me confidence in the consequences for social order. Perhaps we should retrain them as teachers?

What with the price of milk going through the floor, it looks like it's time for UK dairy farmers to introduce Fairtrade milk!

Was watching a TV program last night that was advertised as being about Ozzy Osbourne's "battle against drink and drugs". I always though it wasn't so much a battle as an unconditional surrender.

There's a story in the news about the education system failing the most bright. Well, if it's also failing the least bright (which is the excuse trotted out for dumbing everything down), then who the hell is the education system actually helping - the mediocre?

Bought a new App yesterday - I like the results. It's called Paper Camera. This first adaptation makes the house look like something from an old Rupert the Bear cartoon.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Standard Model Shardski Rates

It would appear that the standard model contains mass and is not a US size 0 after all. Looks like we're in for a summer of particle physics jokes, as well as rain.

This image just speaks for itself:

Apparently there are going to be apartments in the Shard (Europe's tallest building) which will be selling for £50m. I guess at that rate it won't be long before it's called the Shardski.

I can 't help feeling that the lessons learned from the Twin Towers has not been heeded and developers are just clamouring to offer up targets. It won't be long before some terrorist smashes a Higgs boson into the thing. However, given it's a little piece of Qatar in the middle of London, perhaps that will be enough to ward off the evil eye.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Enormity of Debt Utd. @ Charity Wimbers

Shares in Manchester United - are they bloody mad? Given how much Man Utd. are in debt, I'd rather invest in Barclays Bank, the Euro or even complicated Higgs Boson derivatives! I see they're listing the company in the USA - probably in the belief no-one there will know what the hell a Man Utd. is and think it's a new software company worth billions. Perhaps we should have a Public Inquiry....

Talking of Libor (and who isn't, dahlink), Aleksandr Orlov is no longer promoting CompareTheMeerkat.com and is overtly (and unashamedly) shoving CompareTheMarket.com in our faces? The bastard has sold out - doubtless subverted by the banks (or the Bank of England).

Have you noticed how the use of the word 'enormity' is changing. Even reporters on the BBC are now using it as a word describing something massive, rather than something exceeding the bounds of morality. I'm not against language evolving, but it's a shame when it happens due to a lack of knowledge of the original meaning and merely because it sounds similar to another word. Probably something to do with English not being my first language - and my consequent love of it.

Can someone tell my why George W Bush is commentating on Wimbledon?

George Bush - Wimbledon Commentator

Thought for the day - if you think charity shop is chic and makes a statement, have you lost the plot?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Highgrove Robbery for Higgs

Was thinking of taking the family on a tour of the gardens at Highgrove - till I saw the price. £70 a head is a tad steep for looking at some flowers and trees. At that price I'd expect Prince Charles himself to guide me round, or one of his trees.

There's going to be some announcement about the Higgs Boson today. That would have pleased Frank Zappa.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Quo For Peace

David Cameron has told the EC that Status Quo is not acceptable. They may only have 3 chords, but I grew up with their music - Pictures of Matchstick Men was one of my all-time favourites and came out when I was 13 or 14. He can't just go around saying they're unacceptable without letting us know what his taste in music is.

I wonder how many millions Bob Diamond's severance payment will be.

Watched the Chinese film Hero last night. Which is better - to live at peace under a tyrant, or for many to die in the name of freedom? Difficult question to answer and one which resonates down to today. I suppose it depends on the level of tyranny, but let's suppose it's benevolent, so your thoughts on that and whether any of us can ever be truly free?

Monday, 2 July 2012

Gently Tax Havens & EU Debt Adverts

The Channel Islands are saying they may want to go it alone and break completely from the UK (not that they're actually part of the UK anyway). 

It's a bit much really when the UK government facilitates off-shore tax havens, arguing that they bring much-needed liquidity to the economy (the banks in particular), and then bleats when British people actually use them to legitimately avoid having to pay tax. Kind of smacks of hypocrisy. Either you have tax havens and accept the consequences, or you don't. You can't have it both ways.

I was amused the other day by an advert on TV for instant loans. Buggered if I can remember the name of the outfit, but they specialise in giving loans to those who have been turned down by traditional lenders. One voice-over said: "Everyone else had turned me down." The reason for that is because the daft cow can't afford a loan in the first place and is probably up to her eyes in debt already.

If I wash my hair in Head & Shoulders Active Sport, will I become an Olympic athlete? Give me strength - these advertisers must think we're as gullible as insolvent people who want a loan, or Eurocrats.

Actor Stephen Mangan has admitted he is "bitterly upset" at the BBC's decision to drop the Dirk Gently series. The BBC said last month that the Douglas Adams-inspired show on BBC4 had not been recommissioned due to the freeze on the licence fee. I thought it wasn't recommissioned because it was shit, no-one watched it and it bore as much resemblance to the Douglas Adams stories as a James Joyce book bears to a good read.

Cameron has said there's a case for a vote on EU membership, but not until we knew where it was headed. I'd have thought that was patently obvious to anyone with half a brain; hell in an idealistic handcart - or rather, gravytrain!

In the meantime, what I want to know is where my Olympic bonus is?

Sunday, 1 July 2012


I bought James Joyce's Ulysses in a charity shop about a year ago, fully intending to read what some call a literary classic. Got about half way through chapter 1 and had to give up - it sapped my will to live.

What with Bloomsday a few weeks ago, I thought I'd have a go at watching a film adaptation - at least it would provide a synopsis in an hour and a half. It transpired that only one film adaptation was ever made, as many thought the book unfilmable (I found it unreadable). I watched it yesterday - and fell asleep just over half way through.

Literary classic it may be, but I found it interminably turgid and totally devoid of a coherent plot. Am I missing something, or is it just that it is in fact unfilmable?