Thursday, 28 February 2013


Booked our family summer holiday in Gozo last week, having no choice in flights but RyanAir. Was surprised to receive a BT spoken text message on my mobile this morning (the kind you normally get on BT land lines) - something to do with excess baggage but couldn't understand it and can't retrieve it.

Anyway - had a look on some sites about these messages (and am still non-the-wiser) and found the following statement, which I found rather amusing: "Whether you love it or hate it, Ryanair knows what it is and so do its millions and millions of passengers. The cheapest way to get from A to (at least vaguely near) B."

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Italian Papal Diet

Italian politics - you've got to laugh!

The 5:2 diet stalled for a while - I had gone from 88kg down to 83kg and seemed to hover there for a week. I put it down to Hay trying to get me to eat 600 calories and more on a 'starving' day and then criticising me for eating normally on a 'normal' day, the result being that I was eating virtually the same amount every day and no actual starvation taking place.

Decided to eat as much as I like on the normal days and eat substantially less than the 600 calorie allowance on the starvation day (a soup and a couple of pieces of fruit). The result is I'm once again making progress and was 82.5kg today with 2.5kg to go (say a couple of weeks) before I reach what I feel is an acceptable target weight.

Saw this job advert yesterday - may apply:

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Buy Local - for Vengeance

There's a salutory lesson to be learned from this horsemeat scandal - it's always better to buy locally sourced meat, for while it's virtually impossible to vengefully pillory and lynch some fraudster in Eastern Europe for adulterating your mince, you can do it quite easily to your local beef farmer, slaughterhouse operative or butcher!

I see Nesquick is advertising their sugary product as 'healthy'. Since when was adding sugar to milk healthy? Milk in certain quantities is healthy; adding sugar to it is not, no matter how many other additives you incorporate into it. You simply can't believe anyone these days - remember yesterday's post about exploiting systems and the way everyone does it?

You know, in order eliminate all the furore around the Catholic church, perhaps they need to choose a black, gay woman with a physical disability as the next Pope. As much chance of that as the food industry telling the truth about what you're shovelling down your gullet.

Have you noticed how the current UK government keep going on about the financial mess they inherited from the previous government? I wonder who will inherit the mess the Conservatives have gotten us into? Seems successive governments create nothing but messes to be inherited.

If I hear that Skyfall song one more time I swear I'll scream!

Monday, 25 February 2013

We're All the Same

People have been quick to criticise the out of work mother of 11 kids for whom a council is organising a new purpose-built house. However, is what she is doing any worse than middle class women in their early 40s who have left having a family too late and now demand IVF on the NHS, the myriad self-employed who accept cash payment to avoid paying tax or VAT (and those who collude by paying cash), those who arrange their elderly parents' finances such that the state picks up their parents' care bill so they still inherit the parental home, or the well off who arrange their affairs through off-shore trusts such that they pay little or no tax at all?

The poor have no-one on which to off-load their guilt - they're the bottom of the pile and become the scapegoats of society. It's easy to tut from a height, but most of us are guilty at some stage of trying to cadge a free lunch from the (allegedly) inexhaustible state fund.

It seems that wherever and whenever there's a system to exploit, some (or even many) will exploit it.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Is this Some Kind of Joke?

Spotted scrawled on an advertising hoarding in a very run-down and depressed part of Bristol yesterday.

Nice bit of social commentary; methinks JC Decaux are strangers to irony.

Was watching Vintage TV again last night. It's becoming a ritual (must be my age). The Smiths were on:

Hay: "Morrisey is so..."

Chairman: "Up his own arse?"

Hay: "No...."

Chairman: "Nihilistic?"

Hay: "No...."

Chairman: "Should have committed suicide years ago?"

Hay: "No.......So irritating and controversial."

Friday, 22 February 2013

World Goes Mad!

Pistorius detective on shooting charge! What next - the judge suspected of being a war criminal? The President of South Africa thought to be an embezzler? What's going on in that country?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Paolo Di Manton

Paolo Di Canio has resigned from managing Swindon Town. What on earth is BBC West going to do without its nightly bulletin on Di Canio, who seems to fascinate the BBC West production team. Rarely a night goes by without the bugger getting a mention in some way, shape or form.

Seems the world and his dog has come out against Hilary Mantel's pronouncements on the Duchess of Cambridge. However, I get the impression none of the commentators (including the Daily Mail - surprise, surprise) actually listened to the lecture Manton gave - at least not the one I listened to. It seems to me that Manton was pitying Kate and the lifestyle she has been shoe-horned into and the fact she has given up the right to an ego in order to satisfy expectation.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Veggie Nonsense

Heard someone on the radio yesterday morning talking about something called a vegetarian sausage. Isn't that what we omnivores call a cabbage?

I heard that the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges is calling for sugary drinks to be taxed at draconian levels in order to prevent obesity. Perhaps the government should tax the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges to see if it shuts them up and stops them spouting nonsense about economic policy.

As for their idea of banning all fast food adverts till after 9pm; I go to bed before between 8:30 and 9 - how the hell am I going to watch them?

Watched Michel Roux on TV last night making a duck burger and mushroom with chips. Food can be made by a chef, but still be the worst heart-attack fodder on the planet and on a par with fast food! Silly Academy of Royal Medical Colleges....

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Unintended Consequences

While I in no way condone tax avoidance by large corporations, it has been happening (and perfectly legally) for decades - in fact, ever since governments invented the loophole.

To suddenly stop the legitimate avoidance of tax, however, may have unintended consequences, as profits will dip, shares will be sold and people may get laid off. It might just precipitate a quadruple economic dip.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Pasta Diet

Colin, our builder (and friend) came into the caravan yesterday evening to talk about progress on the house.

He commented that I'd appeared to have lost some weight, to which I told him I was indeed slimming down a bit.

He said: "I'm trying to lose weight too - I'm eating heaps of pasta, but it doesn't seem to be helping at all."

He went a bit sheepish when I told him pasta was nothing but carbohydrate and it's the last thing he should be eating in order to lose weight. A bit like the beer diet he also adheres to.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Crystal Chandeliers

Overheard in the Caravan:

Chairman: "I see that Martine McCutcheon has had to declare herself bankrupt.

Hay: "But she was in Eastenders for a long time, did a bit of pop music and wrote a best seller, although the book was probably ghost written and you have to pay ghost writers."

Chairman: "If you can see them." 

Managed to get the bedroom chandelier hung yesterday, but the fiasco only went to show how clear instructions should be, and to be present.

Colin (our builder) forgot that we wanted it on a chain, just above head-height. He screwed it directly to the ridge beam, way in the rafters. Got it changed though, which took another couple of hours and a few trips to B&Q.

Once we have it permanently plumbed in, I'll post a photo of it all lit up. To prevent sunburn and a system overload, we had to remove the 12 x 60W candle bulbs and replace with 25W bulbs. What I really want is those silicone dipped bulbs that diffuse the light - but it would appear you can only get them in the USA.

Now for the dining room chandelier - an altogether simpler installation.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Conclave for the Aged Gunflighter

I wonder if they'll have an X-Factor style competition for the next pope - Pope-Idol? About time we had another Borgia or Medici back on the papal throne and got enjoyment (and a bit of nepotism) back into what's essentially a thankless job..

Saw a BBC headline yesterday and thought it said 'Pope has Peacemaker' and though; "My God, has the Pope joined the gun lobby?" Realised on closer inspection that he has a pacemaker.

Apropos of yesterday's post about care for the elderly; I was in an ASDA near work in Eastleigh yesterday and was issued with a charity token at the till. On exiting one is given a choice of 3 charities to which said token can be donated. They were the Eastleigh Air Cadets, a local cat and kitten rescue and a local residential care home for the elderly. The cat and kitten rescue had by far the most tokens, the care home had about half that number and the Air Cadets had half that again. Just saying....

Seems like this meat contamination thing may have been going on for some time.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Geriatric Care

As we are living longer, but becoming more decrepit, and our kids don't want to be bothered by our dribbling and incontinence or pay someone to look after us - but still want what they see as their inalienable birthright (aka the parental home) - the government has come up with a new Care For the Elderly Plan that will give "peace of mind"....... to our kids.

The ageing will be subject to an annual test; providing they are capable of living on 30p a day and are able to live without expiring of hypothermia in a room set to a moderately warm 10 degrees centigrade, then they will be returned home. Those failing the test will be shipped to Svalbard and left in some dilapidated tents to undergo a reasonably swift and painless death - certainly a lot less painful and drawn out than being stuffed in a care home run by indifferent ex-SS guards that charges three times the weekly room-rate of the Ritz Hotel (or the equivalent of putting a child through Eton) in exchange for a broom cupboard and being waterboarded once a week.

This will not only be more cost-effective for the government, but kids will still inherit their parents' houses - which is what is essentially at the heart of the problem with oldies; kids want to foist the care of their parents on to the government, but aren't prepared to sell off the parental house (which ain't the kids' in the first place) to pay for it. What the kids don't seem to realise is that the cost will come back to bite them in the bum in the form of additional taxes at sometime in the future - there's no such thing as a free lunch.

When people used to die in their late 50s, 60s or early 70, it wasn't an issue - they had the good grace to kick the bucket while still reasonably mobile and healthy (in a manner of speaking). These days we can look forward to almost a decade of blissful dementia, mobility scooters (unless demented - although I'm not so sure with the way some are driven) and being spoon-fed thin, watery gruel.

Do you think that Pope Benny has resigned in order to retire to the UK and take advantage of our superior geriatric healthcare system?

Monday, 11 February 2013


Overheard While Listening to Sunday Love Songs:

Chairman: "Hay - was it the case that on the day I was born the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true, sprinkling stardust in my hair?"

Hay: "No - they sprinkled wood ash in your hair."

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Chinese New Year

Overheard in the Caravan:

Hay: "It seems I'm a dragon in the Chinese zodiac."

Chairman: "That figures!"

Hay (reading): "They are a little arrogant and impatient, while dragon women can be over- confident. Sometimes, 'dragons' are unable to control their moods very well...."

Chairman: "...or their menopausal hormones."

Hay: "You're a goatYou need to avoid mating with a 'dog'."

Chairman: " as good as horse in a lasagne."

Hay (reading): "Sheep have an ardent love of creature comforts and are almost always elegantly dressed, but can become overly reliant on appearances........ Is that why you're sat in your jocks?"

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Thoroughbred Lasagne

Now we have pre-prepared foods that are 100% horse meat. What I think they mean is that the meat content is 100% horse, as what passes for filling in many meat-based pre-prepared meals is anything but meat.

It was mildly amusing to hear a chap on the news who for years looked forward to his once a week treat of Findus lasagna - and loved it. Now he knows it contains horse meat he will never again touch it, despite having found it delicious and it posing no health risk (beyond the health risk that all pre-prepared foods possess due to high fat, salt and sugar content). 

This fiasco just goes to prove that the British will eat anything, so long as it's convenient and can be slammed in the microwave. It also proves you can fool all the people all the time, as without the DNA test, Brits would have gone on forever eating horse and been none-the-wiser. After all, many don't even know what real meat should taste like, as pre-prepared meals disguise the real flavour through all manner of additives and actually use mechanically recovered crap.

Perhaps this event will result in British housewives starting to buy cheaper fresh food - food that actually looks like food - and cooking it themselves. It would certainly help eliminate the obesity epidemic.

I hear the French are now concerned that their horse-meat-based products could be contaminated with beef! Sacre bleu!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Black Hole Dog Chipping

Overheard in the Caravan:

The Chairman is washing the dishes...

Chairman: "We're missing a bowl."

Hay: "See if you can work it out with that brain of yours."

Chairman:"Oh, yes - it has the salad remains in it."

Hay: "It was right in front of your face!"

Chairman: "Brain the size of a planet and I missed it."

Hay: "More like a black hole!"

Why is it that by 2016 dogs must be chipped by law and not cats? I would posit that while a dog bite can be rather nasty, there are far more nasty scratches from cats than bites from dogs, added to which cats decimate wildlife. Dogs just sit around chewing a rubber bone and looking daft.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Exoplanetary Bliss

Scientists think a habitable planet could be only some 13 light years away, circling (or ellipsing) around Proxima Centauri.

Perhaps religious people can do a Mayflower and go there to set up a religious paradise where they can all congregate, split into various schismatic sects and then set about annihilating each other as heretics.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Tribal Power

Apropos of yesterday's post about tribalism arising from the most unlikely sources; after listening to an anti-gay marriage advocate debating the issue with someone of the other persuasion on the radio, I can't help feeling that those opposed to gay marriage just don't want outsiders in their tribe. It's a case of; "It's ours, and you can't have it!"

More to do with wielding power and fending off the out-group than anything logical, if you ask me. They dress it up as 'changing the definition of marriage', as if the English language is written in stone for all time. Given marriage pre-dates Christianity, or indeed Judaism, and no religious body is going to be forced to marry gay people, the religious argument falls flat on its face at the first hurdle. Indeed a Moslem can have several wives (and several mothers-in-law, the poor bastards) and Christians aren't exactly up in arms about that.

I dare say that the vast majority of people who get married in church don't have a religious bone in their body anyway and it's more to do with tradition than anything else - they are admitted to the tribe despite their atheism or agnosticism because they are 'normal' in the sexual sense. Well, traditions can and do change - if they didn't, then we'd have judges in long wigs and ceremonial soldiers in 19th century costume, God forbid!.

Gay marriage does not affect any individuals other than the two people being married, thus being vehemently against it can only be because you wish to foist your belief system on others. The Taliban are fond of doing just that, as are the Catholic church, fascists and communists.

Some claim homosexuality is not 'normal'. Well, it features quite significantly on the bell curve and therefore is part and parcel of the human condition, despite not being at the top of the curve, but there again, nor is having red hair, having blue eyes or being a Conservative.

Last night on the national news I heard someone say; "I'm not a bigot, but....." and proceed to spout unjustified intolerance. Have you ever heard anyone actually admit to being a bigot? It's not something your average bigots will admit to. The thing I dislike about bigots is that they're just not like us..... not 'normal'.

If gay marriage makes you angry, ask yourself exactly what makes you so so angry when it doesn't actually affect you in the slightest. If its root is in discrimination, then that not a valid reason in this age.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Thinking Burger Tribes

Overheard in the Caravan:

Chairman: "Today was my starvation day - all I've had is half an apple and I still don't feel hungry. However, I haven't exactly moved much today. Did you know that your brain burns 10.8 calories per hour just thinking? I must have burned well over 100 calories today just thinking."

Hay: "Your brain didn't!"

I do believe Tesco has found traces of Richard III's DNA in their burgers.

It's strange how we actively encourage the notion of tribes, even going to the extent of creating them where none previously existed.

I belong to a Yahoo Group where old school mates from 40 plus years ago swing the lantern about our school days. I say 40 plus years ago because the school was closed down in '74 by Maggie Thatcher.

Someone recently put a counterpane from the old school on eBay, which naturally caused some comment on the Yahoo site, as we're always on the lookout for school memorabilia to put in the school shrine down at Birkenhead Priory. The counterpane in question was red, but then people kept chipping in saying they could swear they had a green one, or a blue one, etc.

The reason for this is that the ship (HMS Conway) was divided into Tops - Focsle, Foretop, Maintop and Mizzentop. Each Top had a colour, a Srnior Cadet Captain and various Junior Cadet Captains for the port and starboard watches (there was an additional Top called Hold, but that was well prior to my days in the late 60s). These Tops were the naval equivalent of Houses as found today in all public schools, and the inter-Top rivalry was legendary - you couldn't even walk through another Top without risk to life and limb.

To this day we still maintain illogical allegiance to our old Tops and woe betide anyone who maligns Foretop in my presence. Once formed, tribal allegiances are extremely difficult to break.

It seems tribes can be formed from the most trivial of differences and we humans are all too willing to collude in inter-tribal rivalry - it's in our DNA. Little wonder that kids with nothing better to do form gangs.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Naming Conventions

On Friday evening I went with Hayley to a pub some 7 or 8 miles distant for a rather delicious meal. What we hadn't bargained for was it being Yummy Mummy night, with the better part of a dozen or so kids called India, Jocasta or Ptolemy, incessantly running through the place volubly demonstrating their latest iPad or iPhone5 to each other in high-pitched yelps.

I find it strange that while some parents are quite willing to name a girl-child India, they seem curiously reluctant to name them Pakistan, Afghanistan or Tibet.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Government Solutions to Problems

There's such a lot of water lying around at present after all the rain. I think it's only a matter of time before some government bright-spark comes up with the usual government solution of taxing it to make it go away.

Friday, 1 February 2013


I hear the Argentinian government wants to meet with the UK government to find a solution to the Falkland Islands question.

I thought we'd solved that particular question in 1982 - and we won. Could it be they want a rematch?