Saturday, 31 August 2013


Heard a good summation of the argument against wading in - outrage is not a strategy!

I remain to be convinced of the benefits of getting between Hezbollah on the one side and Al Qaeda on the other, and I wouldn't put it past Al Qaeda to have orchestrated the present situation to drag the west into the conflict.

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Unknown Knight of Tewkesbury Abbey

Went for a jaunt to Tewkesbury yesterday and called at the Abbey.

This chap is unknown, but given he's located next to the Gurney stove, they've called him Sir Gurney de Stove (see the note to the right in the photo).

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Bloody BT Again

Costs more to "process" my debit card payment than the bloody bill!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Vegetable Marrow - What's the Point?

Hayley brought home a marrow yesterday. She claims she's going to make a soup out of it - might as well make water soup. Never seen the point of the damned things myself.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bloody Health Supplement Rip-Off

Seen it all now!

The 5:2 diet means actually fasting on 2 days of the week - not filling your guts with bloody dieting supplements. Talk about creating a market where it's not needed! These LifePlan health supplement people are true bastards and epitomise the rip-off health supplement market.

If you must eat something on your fasting days, it's recommended to eat a 100% plant based product - we experts call it a salad. There's nothing you can take into your body that promotes weight loss, except enteric disease bacteria or a liposuction probe.

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Religion of Buying Shiny Things

Overheard While Watching The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:

Hay: "Who's he then?"

Chairman: "An elf lord - Elrond."

Hay: "What, Hubbard?"


Hay: "Is Viggo Mortensen Danish?"

Chairman: "As mom's apple pie!"

"Verified by Visa" - bane of my bloody on-line purchasing life! How the hell am I able to remember a 12 symbol password with at least one capital and some numbers in it - and to be able to spontaneously know its 3rd, 8th and 10th letter/digit when I can barely remember what day it is? I invariably have to click the button that says "Dementia Sufferer" and have to create a new one, adding some 10 minutes to the purchase process. I don't get all this hassle with PayPal!

On my recent flight back to Bristol from Berlin (with EasyJet) I was perusing the usual gamut of overpriced, shiny gadgets littering the in-flight magazine, all of which seemed exclusively geared to iPhones. Couldn't understand why this should be when the iPhone doesn't exactly dominate the market. Suddenly it hit me - iPhone owners have this sad affliction that predisposes them to spending money on overpriced crap, whereas the rest of us are a bit more sensible with our money and aren't addicted to expensive shiny things.

The blurb for Simon Schama's new TV program on the history of the Jews got Hay and I talking about how the Catholics, Jews and Protestants were identified when we were at school. Our Jewish school friends (a tiny minority) went to synagogue on Saturdays and ate bacon sandwiches (at least my Jewish friends did), the Catholics (a slightly larger minority) went to church on Sundays and several evenings during the week (and exhibited lots of illogical guilt over trivial things), and our Protestants friends (aka atheists) never went to any church, temple or synagogue at all.

Actually, Hay didn't have any Jewish school friends - the Old Sodbury synagogue and associated congregation obviously never survived the infamous Old Sodbury pogroms of 1425.

Sunday, 25 August 2013


I've solved the UK airport e-Passport immigration queue dilemma. 

If you're lucky enough to arrive at the e-Passport queue and are 4th or 5th in line, then stay where you are - you have a good chance of getting through to the other side within 10 or 15 minutes (providing you don't have a pensioner in front of you). 

If you're in position 6 and above, go for the manual queue, no matter if it stretches back to the plane you arrived on.

There's something inherently evil about a system that is meant to speed up the immigration process, but actually stretches it out beyond the bounds of credulity.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Hotel Art & German Autobahns

Have you ever noticed how cheap, vacuous, totally meaningless and purely decorative art flourishes in hotels? 

Yesterday I had my first experience of German autobahn driving. Two lanes only, frequent pit-stops (in the manner of the ones you get on the A30 in Cornwall and Devon), wonderful motorway cafes - not like the hideous places we have on our major arteries - and no speed cameras at road-works, or indeed anywhere. Our motorway people could learn a lot from the Germans, instead they are perversely obsessed with control.

My only bad experience was being trapped behind some bloody Brit towing a clapped out wobble box who refused to withdraw from the fast lane for 20 minutes on the drive from Hamburg to Berlin.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Criminal Call Centres

I believe banged-up criminals are being used in some call centres. That may explain my problem with BT Broadband the other day.

Actually, I'd rather be speaking to a good old British lag about my broadband issues than some numpty in an Indian call centre that I can't even understand. You never know, he might be in for digital fraud, in which case he'd know all about broadband.

Off to Hamburg and Berlin on business this morning, so a small hiatus in posting tomorrow.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Spiritual Leader

Ref the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader being arrested - I wonder if the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems or UKIP have a spiritual leader. Contributions welcome.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Man Looking

When I had to reset the router to factory settings the other day, it also reset the security, meaning I had to find the PIN than came with it.

I couldn't find it anywhere, but finally found a reference to it in a file on my laptop.

Just this morning I noticed a couple of stickers on my laptop - yes, you guessed it, they were all the necessary passwords and PINs. It's strange how things that are in front of you eyes day after day just become invisible. Well, they do if you're a bloke - Hay calls it man looking.

You know, I'd take these anti-fracking protesters a bit more seriously if they didn't look and behave like the usual bunch of kooks and clowns who simply refuse to listen to facts. Saw one woman on TV claiming she's experienced earth tremors where drilling hadn't even started yet.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Automatically Exploring Swag

Overheard while driving to Gloucester:

Chairman: "I simply refuse to drive a manual car on the continent - too much to concentrate on. Has to be an automatic."

Hay: "But after a couple of days in a manual it becomes automatic."

Chairman: "Then why not start off in an automatic - saves time?"

This weekend Hay and I decided to do a little exploring of our environs - Devizes on Saturday (a veritable dump, just glad Marlbrough was a little further down the road) and Gloucester (a hideous place, ravaged by 60s and 70s civic planning and a mere shadow of what it could be - not impressed by the dock area either).

We were musing over where the image of the cartoon, comedy burglar came from - you know the one, stripped jumper, flat cap, black eye mask and a bag with 'Swag' written over it. Contributions welcome.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Stop Press - Paxo is Wrong

As a lifetime beardie and designer stubble aficionado, I simply have to refute Paxo's assertion that a beard is "itchy" while being grown. This is a complete and utter myth.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

BT - It's a Wind-Up

Rant time!

Took me 47 minutes (I was cut off once at 10 minutes) to get through to BT Broadband last night - ending up with a chap in India who had to repeat everything twice as I couldn't understand a bloody word he was saying - and I told him so. Problem finally solved (faulty Wi-Fi) after 1 hour on the phone at £0.14 per minute.

I'd gladly pay £1 a minute for the entire call if I could be guaranteed of speaking to an intelligible human within 1 minute. I was at the end of my tether by the time I got to speak to the poor bugger and it's entirely unreasonable of BT to expect their help-desk personnel to have to deal with customers who have been transformed into homicidal maniacs after being kept waiting for over half an hour.

Not so sure I like the rich mix of regional accents used on the BT call handling system - you know, the one where you press 1 to 4 a dozen times before you end up in the wrong queue or are cut off. Every set of 1 to 4 questions is posed by a different regional accent. I'd rather have one person leading me up the garden path, and preferably using received pronunciation; it's far easier to understand, sounds more professional and doesn't make me think I'm about to speak to someone without a clue and is a moonlighting fish gutter from Fleetwood.

During my numerical meanderings around the BT call handling system I pressed the number indicating I'd be willing to participate in a customer feedback session - gave them a piece of my mind! Without fail, the BT voice-over says they're experiencing high call volume and it will be a long wait. That means either, a) they always have a large number of customer faults, or b) they just don't have enough call centre staff. Either way, it's not a good advert for BT.

By the way, according to Feedjit, I'm in Luton today.

Now for the report on the wind-up shaver - took delivery of it yesterday and am pleased to report it works a treat. Perfectly smooth shave on the basis of a couple of minutes of winding. This is going to be invaluable on my business travels.

Friday, 16 August 2013


I was listening to some wet-behind-the-ears politician on the radio yesterday morning trumpeting on about democracy, as if it was the panacea to all Egypt's ills. Democracy is just what Egypt doesn't need at the moment - it needs a firm, non-aligned dictator to take control and restore order, on both sides of the divide.

Reinstating Morsi in the name of democracy will just lead to the anti-Morsi brigade taking to the streets again and the whole process repeating itself with a slightly larger bunch.

The population is polarized between two diametrically opposed entities - it's a no-win game if democracy is invoked as the cure, as that will just mean civil war, and that has to be avoided at all costs.

Any politics where religion is involved is a recipe for disaster, as theocratically biased movements are basically fascist at heart and totally uninterested in democracy, unless as a means of gaining initial control. Politicians in the western tradition only think they're right and are open to reason and persuasion by argument (unless a union boss); the fault of religious politicians is that they know they're right, even if demonstrably wrong. Religion has no room for doubt or reason - it's based on unquestioning and beatific faith (and a lot of ignorance).

The words democracy and Islamist sit as comfortably together as Trabant and Grand Prix and in any other circumstance there would not be a single western politician giving credence to a government having the word Islamist in its name. 

The Egyptians have had their experiment with democracy, and they screwed it up. However, I'd guess if there was another election there'd be far fewer Muslim Brotherhood votes cast. In any case, I doubt Morsi's lot would abide by a re-run, claiming they won the first time.

It's bad politics to impose a western solution on a middle eastern problem. There are times and places for democracy, and this isn't one of them.

We should count ourselves lucky that there's only a fag paper between the policies of our political parties. The only way you can tell the buggers apart is by the colour of the rosettes they wear when coming to your door.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Great British Queue

Went to Lidl yesterday evening for some groceries. I was walking to the checkout and got there just before a woman. She promptly walked past me and started chatting to the woman in front of me and laid her few items on the conveyor, ahead of mine.

I was consumed with moral outrage and commenced huffing and puffing with righteous indignation - the British queue, after all, is sacrosanct.When I huff and puff, everyone around me is fully aware of it - I have a Daily Mail Reader way of doing it.

I calmed down a bit when I thought she was related to the woman she was chatting to (as it turned out she was) and would simply add her items to those of her relative, but no! She brazenly put one of those dividers between her relative's goods and hers without so much as a by-your-leave or glance in my direction.

I thought of saying something to her, but the chance of it having any effect would be zero (people in Yate don't do embarrassment), so all I was doing was getting myself agitated and hypertensive.

Not being British by birth, I am now turning my mind to ways in which I can assist in flooding Britain with non-British born workers - we seem to have more respect for British traditions than some of the bloody natives and have a greater work ethic (according to some supermarkets). Perhaps it's living in the south of England that is colouring my view; it was never like this in the north.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

What's in a Beardy Name

A judge in the US has banned a couple from calling their child Messiah, as he believes there is only one Messiah. So much for the second coming. I guess the judge in question has a bit of a Messiah complex.

I wonder if Muslims have a problem with kids called The Prophet, or Buddhists with kids called Buddha, or The Awakened One? Silly!

However, there is only one Darth Vader!

Broke one of those glass cafetiere thingies yesterday. We, and everyone I know, buys replacement caretieres from the local charity shops, so I wonder who buys the ones that feed the charity shop demand? Damned things don't last long enough for us to give any back to the charity shops.

Apropos of the hot topic of the week - Paxman's beard - I changed my face hair a week ago and now sport a moustache and goatee instead of the full set. This has given me an issue over shaving. With the full set the only thing I needed to do in the morning was to run a dry Bic razor under my chin (can't be bothered with all this soap nonsense). Now I need almost a full shave - and I detest shaving (hence the full set in the first place).

I was in search of an economical electric shaver that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg, or came with half a ton on recharging equipment - I travel abroad frequently. A friend jokingly suggested a wind-up razor (like those wind-up radios) - and hey presto, they are actually manufactured. I bought one on Amazon and will report back on efficacy once received.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Tracking & Tracing

I have noticed that whenever I reset my broadband router, my notional location (according to the hit counter on here) changes alarmingly.

On Friday, for example, I was in Glasgow, yesterday I was in Oswestry and today I'm in Lisburn, Northern Ireland.

It seems that as interconnections of the Interweb proliferate, you are no longer where you think you are. All you can say with reasonable safety is which national boundary you're within. You can literally pop-up anywhere within that.

So much for surveillance. I'll have to rely on GPS and CCTV cameras.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Overheard While Listening to Miserilou

Hay: "I never understood Pulp Fiction - it was a blokey film."

Chairman: "Unlike Tarantino's earlier Reservoir Dogs, which was a bit girly?"

Another artified holiday snap:

Friday, 9 August 2013

The Gables

Continuing the theme of holiday architectural montages - a short stay last year in Hamsterjam:

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Doors

My unlimited edition print of Gozo's doors.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Deepest, Darkest Wales

We had a little trip out to Pembroke in Wales yesterday to collect a large garden ornament I bought on eBay. Called in at a small pub for lunch, where Hay had something called lamb cawl, which I'd never heard of before - it's basically a lamb broth. I found it a tad insipid, although Hay thought it delicious.

Chairman, addressing the girl at the bar: "I'd like to pay now. My wife really liked the lamb cawl - New Zealand lamb, was it?"

Later, we called in at Tenby on the way home.

Hay: "There's something about British beaches."

Chairman: "That'll be the rain and the wind."

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Innapropriate Attire

Why is it that, off the football pitch, the only people you see in football gear are those least suited, aesthetically speaking, to the attire? It's not as if they're sporty - quite the reverse, in fact.

Monday, 5 August 2013


I think someone must have broken a nail!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

This 'n That

Twitter abuse - why are people on Twitter? More importantly, why are intelligent people like Mary Beard on Twitter? I thought Twitter was only for narcissists, idiots and those who wanted to vent their appalling ignorance.

The England cricket team is apparently keen to avoid a follow on. What on earth is a follow on?

Sky has made Microsoft rename its Skydrive web storage system, as it has caused confusion among the public. I think Xbox should be renamed, as I keep confusing it with Xerxes, the 5th Century BC ruler of Persia.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

My Sporty Mum

Seems my mum was a rugby international, and I never knew.