Friday, 31 August 2012

The News Headlines

The BBC should really tighten up on its news headlines. Yesterday I saw; "Police investigating phone hacking arrest 60-year-old man in south-west London." That immediately put every 60 year-old man in south-west London on the Daily Mail's prime suspect list.

This 'rich tax' debate is clouding the issue. A few very rich people avoid paying taxes by using loopholes created by successive governments' attempts at social engineering through the tax system. The vast majority of tax initiatives geared toward engineering some desired outcome have the unfortunate and unintended consequence of creating a loophole, which the astute can then use to avoid paying tax. Sure, the loopholes can be closed, but only at the cost of either trashing the original desired outcome, or developing a Byzantine set of tax rules which require a degree in pure mathematics to interpret. Perhaps we need less social engineering on the part of government and a simple tax system.

It seems to me that as a society we need to accept that a few - both at the very top and the very bottom - will screw the system; however, they are very few in number, yet convenient scapegoats when things go tits up and people want someone else to blame.

I was astonished  to hear a woman who lost her entire family in a road accident say her faith has sustained her. Well, it must the faith that, if there is a God, he’s got a bit of a downer on her. If my family had been totalled through the fault of a boy racer, then I’d lose any shred of faith in a just God. Ah – it must be a 'test of her faith', as that's how pious people usually delude themselves when something bad happens.

In America the race has started to proclaim the next emperor. In later ancient Rome the emperor was he who gave the highest bribe to the army. Seems America is following in Rome's footsteps by the Republican candidate bribing the electorate with a donative comprised of tax dollars. Mind you, it's not too dissimilar here, although it's not so much the politicians who are morally bankrupt (and they are), but the electorate. Or they are at the very least naiive to believe politicians have the answer to all life's ills and that it's as black and white as they portray - it's actually 50 shades of grey.

The greatest danger to liberty comes from those who claim to have God on their side and profess with certainty to know what's best for us in the pursuit of liberty; without fail they end up as tyrants.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Away Strip

What with all this rebranding of schools as academies, they're becoming like premiership football clubs with their penchant for changing strips every year. It costs less for a Man Utd. football strip than a new school uniform.

Next I'll be having to buy an away uniform for No.1 son.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Haggis in Context

Was is Aberdeen airport yesterday. Asked for haggis in the restaurant. Was told it was off the menu. Bit like arriving in Wigan and being told the pies are off.

Context is everything; see a bloke in a skirt and you think it strange - make the skirt tartan and give the bloke a furry purse to hang on a chain and suddenly it's the complete antithesis of what a bloke in a skirt initially brings to mind.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Taliban on the Veldt

The Taliban have beheaded some people for mixing with women and listening to music. They should force the bastards to attend the Reading Music Festival as a torture. Perhaps Glasto would be better - see how they contend with the rain and mud.

As for this lion on the Essex plains - didn't realise global warming had got that bad!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Twitter to Develop Racist Version

What with all the stuff in the news about racist tweets, Twitter is going to have to develop a separate system for racists in order to capitalise on the trend.

Can't help but think that the people who do this are somewhat lacking in brain power, as there's an audit trail that points directly to them.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Hi-Res Drivel

Seems the boffins have developed something called 8K TV, which will result in even higher resolution drivel being pumped into our homes. Good God - I don't even have HD yet and it's already obsolete!

As the resolution increases, the quality of the content plummets.

I wonder if that American comedian, Todd Akin, will win the Edinburgh comedy award.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Double Standards

Some are saying that had the Las Vegas photos been of Dave Cameron, then everyone would have been clamouring for them to be published, thus exhibiting double standards.

Too true!

The difference, however, is that Harry was born into the role, had no choice in the matter and has zero influence in the overall scheme of things - he certainly doesn't lecture us as to how we should behave. Dave, on the other hand, actively sought his role in public life, has a lot of power and influence and is constantly controlling our lives and telling us what we should do. There's a world of difference.

Royalty never have been a model of propriety - one of Harry's ancestors even created a new religion so he could have his way with his mistress. They're a rallying point, a symbol, a flag, a totem. But they're also human and we must not forget that.

The real public interest is finding out who took and sold the photos of Harry and betrayed his trust. Not one media organ seems to be even vaguely interested in this bit of public interest, especially the Sun, given it has been crowing about security breaches as justification for printing the pictures? I smell a big, double standard, centre-page, media rat.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Sun Implodes

So that guardian of the nation's morals, the Sun 'newspaper', has published the pictures of Harry cavorting in the US under the pretence of the public interest. More like self-interest. Nasty, grubby little rag for prurient chavs. You can't help but detest Rupert Murdoch, can you? 

It's easy to tell that the closure of Murdoch's News of the World was just a PR exercise from which nothing was learned - even the journalists were re-employed at the Sun. There are large parts of Liverpool where newsagents still won't stock the Sun following the offensive drivel it published after the Hillsborough disaster.

There are many reasons to publish the photos, not least of which is the fact they are readily available all over the internet, but to use 'the public interest' as a justifiable smokescreen is laughable and disingenuous in the extreme. A wad of crinklies is the real reason.

As for Harry, as a friend of mine said yesterday, you've got to have some sympathy for the boy; he comes from a broken home, his family live on state benefits, he grew up on estates and spent time in institutions. Despite that, he's the most human of the lot, displays typical human frailties and I can't help but like him. I did worse in my youth, but pictures of me in Singapore weren't worth ten grand as they had absolutely no chance of boosting a newspaper's circulation.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Mensch and Womensch

Apropos of yesterday's post about Assange, I hear Louise Mensch has attacked George Galloway's entirely sensible (in my opinion) comments on the Assange case and suggested that the Justice Minister should be a woman in order to combat crimes against women.

That's about as sensible as saying the Justice Minister should be a pensioner to combat crime on pensioners - oh, hang on, he is.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


This Assange case is confusing me.

  • He's not been officially charged with any crime and yet a European Arrest Warrant has been issued.
  • Notwithstanding the above, I have read that he cannot be charged before being arrested, which can only be done in Sweden.
  • He made himself available for questioning while still in Sweden, an offer that was inexplicably refused at the time and has not been addressed.
  • Due process has not been followed in Sweden - that's from Sven-Erik Alhem, a previous Swedish public prosecutor - an example being that both accusers were interviewed together, rather than separately; that alone allows for contamination of oral evidence. Not only that, but Assange's name was released to the press - another contravention of due process.
  • The allegations were made long after the events, and the accusers 'appear' to have been persuaded to make the accusations, as they previously stated that sex was consensual.
  • Assange has offered to be interviewed in the UK - an offer that was also refused without any reason being given.There are many precedents of accused being interviewed abroad by Swedish authorities.
  • Any cursory reading of the history of Sweden's rape laws shows they are out of control and driven by a feminist agenda in which the presumption of innocence has gone.
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark - or rather Sweden - and the whole case reeks of political interference. Sweden and the US are closely tied at political level.

What also concerns me is that the UK media and establishment seems to have come out against Assange despite all the questions that remain to be answered. It's almost as if once the question of rape comes into the frame, it's heresy not to toe the feminist line.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Council Sell-Off

Someone has suggested councils should sell off their best houses.

I wonder if that includes No.10.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Blog Ideas for Council Planning

I have an answer to the Julian Assange dilemma! A compulsory purchase order on the Ecuadorian embassy - no-one can stand up to the council planning department!

Well, we collected the chandelier from Leigh. Eee by 'eck, but it were grim up there in deepest, darkest, industrial (or post-industrial) Lancashire.

My heart was in my mouth a few times going over bumps, but we got it back in one piece. It's absolutely magnificent and well worth the hundred quid for the van and diesel. Now for how to get it into the rafters. Methinks it's definitely going to have to hang from a pulley system.

What with all this kerfuffle about schools selling off playing fields, I'm just hoping football clubs will start doing the same.

Talking of the post-Olympic effect, are we about to see obese, middle-aged blokes on bikes falling like flies as they mount bikes in an attempt to emulate Bradley Wiggins?

Thinking of some spoof blogs to start:

  • Victoria Beckham - How to Get by on a Budget of £50k a Week.
  • Liam Gallagher's Meissen Porcelain Collectors' Blog.
  • Jeremy Clarkson - Vegan Living.
  • Prince Harry - Nazi Memorabilia and Family Heirlooms.
  • Vladimir Putin - How to Make Friends and Influence People.
  • Bashar Al-Assad - Self Deception for Beginners.
  • Brian Sewell - Real Ale Tasting Notes.
  • HMQ's Retro 60s Furnishings Blog.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Full Circle at the Close

Rather than just laughing off the Pussy Riot episode, Putin has ill-advisedly decided to react to it. Bad move, Vlad!

Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of the end of Putin...

Patriarch Kiril of Moscow, the bloke who accused Pussy Riot of blasphemy, is not above a bit of controversy himself. If you look at this photo, you'll see he's wearing a watch - it's a £20,000 Breguet - one of the most expensive watches in the world.

Subsequent photos showed the watch airbrushed out, but the telltale reflection from the table was still visible. Oops!

Watched the rest of the Olympic closing ceremony last night on iPlayer. It certainly separated the talented (Jessie J, Muse, Emeli Sande, Ed Sheeran, Gary Barlow)  from the talentless (Liam Gallagher). Even so, they could have pre-recorded a number of the songs to overcome the sound system limitations and got the acts to mime.

Notable absentees were Led Zep, Floyd (or most of them), Cliff and his Shadows, Bowie, the Stones, Cream, Tom Jones and Genesis. I thought St Paul McCartney was due to appear - or if he did then I missed him while fast forwarding through the boring bits.

Loved Eric Idle's totally off-the-wall celebration of Pythonesque surrealism. Sublime!

Mentioning Victoria Beckham in the same breath as eminent British fashion designers was a bit cringeworthy; she's in a totally different (Premier) League.

And as for that octopus with Norman in it - where the hell did that come from? It was a bus when I first looked at it. Brilliant!

Loved all those roof-top missiles going off at the end.

Right! Off up to Slackistan for that chandelier.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The New Messiah in Star Trek

Overheard in the Caravan:

It is 10:30 am and No.1 Son has just woken.

No.1 Son: "Dad, I can't remember - do the Jews worship Jesus at all?"

Chairman: "No - they believe the prophesied Messiah has not actually arrived yet."

No.1 Son: "In that case I could be what they are looking for."

Chairman: "Quite possibly, but you'd have to get up a damned sight earlier than 10:30 in the morning to fit the bill, for verliy it is written that the Messiah shall be an early-riser, for the early bird doth catch the disciple."

How is it possible for a teenager to remain asleep till 10:30? I simply couldn't sleep beyond daybreak as a teenager. Never have been able to.

Here's a conundrum: in Star Trek (The next Generation), Data is the only sentient android (aka computer) in existence, yet lacks the full range of human emotions. Star Trek Voyager, which follows on almost immediately from Next Generation in the Star Trek universe timeline, has a computer hologram doctor who displays all manner of highly evolved human emotions and attributes, such as frustration, anger, sadness, acerbic wit, etc. How is this possible when they are both computers and the ECH (aka doctor) has no positronic brain or emotion chip (the one developed by Dr Soong specifically for Data)?

Nice little spoof Olympic commentary follows:

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Scouting for Boys

One hears that the Paralympic flame is to be ignited by rubbing two boy scouts together.

Stuart Hazell - 37? Someone is having a laugh! He looks older than me, and I'm 57.

Took out the sump on the Golf yesterday, oil all over the damned place - got to Chipping Sodbury before I noticed the oil light had come on - that's the 2nd time in 3 years I've knackered the sump on a pothole in the drive. The problem is it's an unmade road belonging to the Commons Commissioners and we can't tarmac it. All I can do is put some gravel in the hole, which isn't a permanent solution and lasts only a couple of months at most.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A Touch of Glass

Nipping up to Leigh in Lancs on Saturday with a hire van to collect a rather nice, refurbished, 1930s chandelier we bought on eBay for an absolute song. We thought we'd buy it to fill the depressive and aching black void left behind by the absence of wall-to-wall Olympic TV coverage....

It will look quite spectacular hanging from the oak ridge beam in the bedroom. Just a bit annoyed we never thought of putting electric cables in beforehand during the first fix, but how were we to know we'd be hanging a bloody crystal chandelier from the rafters of the bedroom? Will probably end up with twisted-pair wires snaking up the ceiling and pull-rope resembling an old-style toilet flush switch to give it a look of age (as if). Will cake the wires in layers of scuffed and distressed paint to reinforce the effect of it having been there for decades.

It's funny how a centre-piece showing controlled opulence and self-assured elegance can make the rest of one's shoddy, cheap, tat look half decent by nothing more complex than association.

Nice bit of bric-a-brac, ain't it?

Thought we'd make a day of it and have lunch in the area while collecting the item. Looked on Trip Advisor for a suitable eatery in Leigh and found only 1 with any reviews - a Nando's..... says it all, really. Their idea of a good day out is probably visiting the local IKEA or some dreary clog factory and watching a whippet race in the afternoon.

Don't think we'll hang around but head straight back to the heady civilisation, bright lights and decent grub of the Cotswolds. But there again, Hay abhors the glare of the media spotlight here. Seems everyone who is anyone is buying property in the area - the bastards!

Wish me luck - just hope I don't do a Fools and Horses on Saturday.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Conspiracy Theory

Mars Rover takes detailed images of what looks suspiciously like Southport beach and the sand dunes.

Sunday, 12 August 2012


Hay would love to see me in a linen ensemble; I would rather consume broken glass than wear linen.

What man in his right mind, unless over 75 or press-ganged into it by his Mrs, would actually want to wear something that after 5 minutes made him resemble one of Nora Batty's rumpled stockings?

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Les Bicyclettes de Belsize

I hear we lost the Olympic gold for the 'riding a ridiculously small bike' event.

That great amateur cyclist and athlete, Boris Johnson, is calling for 2 hours of compulsory sport a week for school kids so they can grow up to achieve the toned, athletic body he has. I'd award him a gold for sheer buffoonery.

One positive and massive legacy of the London Olympics is that we don't have to bid for the damned thing again for a long time to come.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Swift, er, Justice for Sport

The Chinese seem to be able to conduct a murder trial within a day, 7 hours in fact, whereas it takes us several years and several million pounds of public money. Can we learn something from the Chinese example? Perhaps we should announce the verdict before the trial - wouldn't that save an enormous amount of time and money?

Now the Olympics are drawing to a close, questions are being asked about how we can get kids into sport. Well, if my elder son is a typical example, then the answer is at gunpoint.

Was watching the Olympic Taekwondo bouts on TV yesterday; it looks like the worst kind of street fighting to me and not a martial art.

Thursday, 9 August 2012


Curiosity, the Mars rover, came to rest on the floor of a deep depression on Mars' equator known as Gale Crater. 

Typical imperialist tactics - giving a Mars location an Earth name. I'll bet you anything that the locals don't call it that.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Bad Holiday Timing

Well, we got back from our holidayette on Monday evening. Hadn’t factored in that we’d inadvertently chosen Amsterdam's Gay Pride weekend for our little sojourn; heaving crowds with the place resembling Torremolinos or Benidorm on a summer's day - hideous. 

Wooden bike

On the flight out there was a bunch of macho Bristolians heading for a stag weekend – I’ll bet they were a bit shocked, especially as the groom was dressed as a bride. The queens would have loved him. 

Gay Pride on the Amstel

The Dutch are remarkably tolerant of these festivities and everyone we spoke to passed it all off as a cracking party. I somehow think an Old Sodbury Gay Pride event wouldn't go down too well - too many comedy gays and drag queens.

We visited the flower market where I spotted bonsai seeds being sold. Wrong! – there are no such things as bonsai seeds – they’re simply tree seeds and, unless you know something about cultivating bonsai, they will grow into fully fledged trees. Some people will fall for anything. 

Geodesic roof over the Maritime Museum

On our first night there the crowds were so ghastly that we had to move further out of town to find a decent restaurant that had any seats available. We found a lovely little place called ‘In De Keuken’, or ‘In the Kitchen’, a nouvelle cuisine establishment with the kitchen being what would normally be the bar area (hence the name). Had we tried to book we’d almost certainly not have managed to get a reservation, but we were lucky to find a table of 3 had cancelled just moments before we turned up. Food was heavenly but lacking in any substance whatsoever (as you’d expect with nouvelle cuisine); all foams and artily arranged shavings and slivers of food at horrendous prices. I found it necessary to look for a pizza parlour on the way back to the hotel to ensure my hunger was sated – Hay gave me suitably disapproving looks. 

The aftermath of the Gay Pride event (which involves hundreds of barges on the canals with gay anthems blaring out) was enough debris on the Sunday morning to keep our local street cleaners busy for several months - the entire barge route was several inches deep in beer and wine bottles. However, Dutch municipal cleaners managed to hoover up the majority within the first few hours of Sunday morning.

Gay Pride aftermath - Sunday morning on the Skinny Bridge

Replica of the Amsterdam, a Dutch East Indiaman

AK47 turned into a lamp base

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A Study in B&W

A quick study in B&W of some Amsterdam gables.

Friday, 3 August 2012


All the gubbins that feeds the underfloor heating and domestic hot water is being installed in the outhouse this week. Large tanks, copper pipes, wires and things with humungous dials. Looks very complicated and more than I can handle or understand. Thank God I have a 14 year-old boy to operate it for me.

500 litre tank

No idea, but incorporates an expansion tank!

Air-source heat pump.

Off to Amsterdam with Hay and No.1 son for a long weekend - have to get away from these damned Olympics. Have fun while I'm gone.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Dickensian Bleeding Obvious

The conflict between rebels and government forces across Syria will decide the fate of the nation, President Bashar al-Assad has warned. You don't say..... I wonder what other statements of the bleeding obvious he's going to come out with?

One Bradley Wiggins has won gold. I wonder when a potential Dickens character last won an Olympic gold?

Talking of Dickens, the nation's favourite Mr Pickwick (Boris the Performing Buffoon) was dangling by a wire yesterday. This guy could be our Prime Minister one day - if the electorate is as mad as I suspect it to be. I'd gladly have gotten him a rope, but not for freeing him....

Captions please!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Multicultural Diving

If Team GB wanted a gold in diving, they should have fielded a bloody premiership footballer - they're excellent at diving, by all accounts.

I have a new game - spot the white person in an advert. Seems every advertiser is so keen to appear multicultural that it's hard to find any WASPs. I'm starting to feel like a minority.