Tuesday 30 September 2014

On Days Like These

Took off from LHR an hour late, got a nice Mercedes hatchback (auto, thank God) rental (and spent some 20 minutes figuring out where the handbrake is - there isn't one!) and arrived at the hotel at Geneva airport around 7pm with an hour to spare to prepare for a teleconference with HQ in Israel.

Teleconference lasted an hour and 45 minutes, after which I had a few emails to dash off and by which time the restaurant was closed. Good job that yesterday was a skinny day.

Really looking forward to tomorrow and the drive from here to Sion and then to Milan. Not looking forward to the hotel in Lacchiarella though, but it's about the only one.

A Mars Bar to anyone who get's the link between the title of the post and the contents.

Monday 29 September 2014

Driving Miss Daisy

I see that a device has been developed that will jam mobile phone signals in a vehicle if it is travelling at more than 5MPH and insurers are eyeing it as a means of reducing text-aided car crashes. However, a car is designed for four people - so what about the passengers?

Off on my travels again; this time it's Switzerland and Italy, and I'm aiming to knock one item off the bucket list, as I believe it's called. I'm flying to Geneva later today, and then tomorrow I'm going to drive Geneva to Milan through the Alps and alongside Lake Maggiore. That should be an experience.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Confusing News

Didn't manage to get time to collect the newspapers this morning, but I just caught the headlines. Am I mistaken in believing a Tory MP has been caught sending pictures of his genitals to the leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, and then Farage defected to Russia?

What exactly is a Farage?

Saturday 27 September 2014

Parfitt Biobank

I participate in something called Biobank, which monitors people's health factors over their lifetime. It usually involves nothing more strenuous than a visit to Bristol every 2 or 3 years for a thorough medical.

A few weeks ago, however, I was asked whether I'd wear a wrist-band activity monitor for a week, to which I agreed. It looks like a watch, but it in effect an accelerometer that measures your level of activity. 

I'm not sure what the Biobank people are going to make of my readings - I wear my father's self-winding Omega SeaMaster watch, and I'm so in active that it needs a damned good shaking at least twice a week to prevent it stopping. The monitor is not so much an activity monitor, in my case, as an inactivity monitor.

Could have sworn I saw Rick Parfitt in Lidl in Yate yesterday afternoon. However, as the chap I saw  yesterday looked like the Rick Parfitt I last saw in Chalk Farm some 25 years ago, it couldn't have been him, unless he's had a lot of work done on his face in the intervening time.

Friday 26 September 2014

Decimal Eggs

My egg delivery has gone decimal! The lady who delivers our eggs from her chickens up in the village usually brings us half a dozen a week; occasionally, if the eggs are on the small side, she'll leave us a dozen. This week we received a box that is designed only for 10 eggs. The country is going to the dogs!

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Re-Charging My Batteries

I thought it about time I bought my own car battery charger, more for the fact that Perry's charger (which I normally borrow) only does 12V, whereas I need one that charges 12V and 6V batteries.

Got one from t'internet yesterday and was surprised at the weight compared to Perry's charger, which is as light as a feather. The new one must be a good couple of kilos.

What is it that makes some chargers light and others massively heavy? Is it simply a marketing ploy by the manufacturers to make you think you have bought something more robust? Is it merely a lead weight inserted into the casing, or is there something more at work here, like perhaps the inclusion of 6V capability?

Tuesday 23 September 2014


Well, I accompanied Hay to her yoga class last night. It was a bit like that video from "Call on Me".

Well, when I say it was a bit like the video, what I mean is that I was the only bloke there, not that I was surrounded by lithe young women. Most were round, elderly matrons who had difficulty balancing on anything other than both feet planted firmly on the floor, and for some even that was a challenge.

I'm not sure I benefited from the "work out", if indeed it could be described thus. It comprised an hour of mainly stretching moves and a few balancing acts while attempting to hold a silly position. It was certainly better than watching crap TV.

Monday 22 September 2014

Things That Go Bang in the Night

We've been for a long weekend in Fowey and stayed at our favourite haunt - The Old Ferry Inn in Bodinnick.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle during the night, as the couple in the room next to us had some kind of medical emergency. Well, I assume it was a medical emergency, as they woke us twice with moaning and groaning. It must have been some kind of stomach upset by the sound of it, and, strangely enough, they both seemed to have the attacks at the same time.

I was extremely worried at one stage, as I was convinced the lady was in her death throes as she kept calling out for God. Perhaps she was just very religious. Anyway, I put it down to a Dicky Tummy. 

They seemed fine at breakfast - quite flushed though. I somehow suspect the lady was the gentleman's secretary.

While there Hay walked the hind legs - well, the only legs - off me. We walked a coastal path from Bodinnick to Polruan, followed by a walk along the SW Coastal Path to a small cove called Lantic Bay. Now you have to be part chamois goat to get down to the beach (as evidenced by the fact there were only two other people on the beach), or come by boat. How the hell there was horse and cow shit on the steep path is beyond me.

Here are a few pictures of the path to the place, followed by a short, panoramic video:

 On the way
 From a distance
Before the climb down
On the beach

While away, Colin was busy doing a few alterations as a surprise for Hayley - inserting some aluminium, scrap, eBay portholes in the oak doors; one inside and one outside;

I'm rather pleased with the result.

Friday 19 September 2014

I'll take that as a No then...

Apparently Nicola Sturgeon maintains Scotland has not voted for Status Quo. I'm hardly surprised - they're not even Scottish.

Thursday 18 September 2014

Telephone Trollopes

It cost me over £1 at £0.14 per minute before I got through to a human at Bennett's Insurance yesterday, and I'm paying them for a bloody policy!

We don't use the land-line at home, it's only there as part of the broadband deal. However, it doesn't stop cold callers. Think I'll get an answerphone that 

  1. Makes callers press half a dozen buttons that lead them in circles,
  2. Tells them the call will the monitored for training purposes, and 
  3. That their call is costing them £0.50 per minute.
Next time I want to buy something and the telephone call tells me it's costing me, I'll wait to get through and then tell them I don't want whatever it is they sell, as I'd rather go to a company that values customers and doesn't charge them idiotic fees on top of the purchase price.

I'm not a great reader of novels, but I thought I might give Anthony Trollope's Chronicles of Barchester a go and started with The Warden. I have to say it's a cliff-hanger and wonderfully written (I particularly like the section on Tom Towers and the Jupiter, very witty and just as relevant today). Should finish it this evening and am moving straight on to Barchester Towers.

Here is the section about the Jupiter - a thinly disguised polemic on The Times and newspapers in general.

It is a fact amazing to ordinary mortals that _The Jupiter_ is never wrong. With what endless care, with what unsparing labour, do we not strive to get together for our great national council the men most fitting to compose it. And how we fail! Parliament is always wrong: look at _The Jupiter_, and see how futile are their meetings, how vain their council, how needless all their trouble! With what pride do we regard our chief ministers, the great servants of state, the oligarchs of the nation on whose wisdom we lean, to whom we look for guidance in our difficulties! But what are they to the writers of _The Jupiter_? They hold council together and with anxious thought painfully elaborate their country's good; but when all is done, _The Jupiter_ declares that all is naught. Why should we look to Lord John Russell;--why should we regard Palmerston and Gladstone, when Tom Towers without a struggle can put us right? Look at our generals, what faults they make; at our admirals, how inactive they are. What money, honesty, and science can do, is done; and yet how badly are our troops brought together, fed, conveyed, clothed, armed, and managed. The most excellent of our good men do their best to man our ships, with the assistance of all possible external appliances; but in vain. All, all is wrong--alas! alas! Tom Towers, and he alone, knows all about it. Why, oh why, ye earthly ministers, why have ye not followed more closely this heaven-sent messenger that is among us? Were it not well for us in our ignorance that we confided all things to _The Jupiter_? Would it not be wise in us to abandon useless talking, idle thinking, and profitless labour? Away with majorities in the House of Commons, with verdicts from judicial bench given after much delay, with doubtful laws, and the fallible attempts of humanity! Does not _The Jupiter_, coming forth daily with fifty thousand impressions full of unerring decision on every mortal subject, set all matters sufficiently at rest? Is not Tom Towers here, able to guide us and willing?

Yes indeed, able and willing to guide all men in all things, so long as he is obeyed as autocrat should be obeyed,--with undoubting submission: only let not ungrateful ministers seek other colleagues than those whom Tom Towers may approve; let church and state, law and physic, commerce and agriculture, the arts of war, and the arts of peace, all listen and obey, and all will be made perfect. Has not Tom Towers an all-seeing eye? From the diggings of Australia to those of California, right round the habitable globe, does he not know, watch, and chronicle the doings of everyone? From a bishopric in New Zealand to an unfortunate director of a North-west passage, is he not the only fit judge of capability? From the sewers of London to the Central Railway of India,--from the palaces of St Petersburg to the cabins of Connaught, nothing can escape him. Britons have but to read, to obey, and be blessed. None but the fools doubt the wisdom of _The Jupiter_; none but the mad dispute its facts.

No established religion has ever been without its unbelievers, even in the country where it is the most firmly fixed; no creed has been without scoffers; no church has so prospered as to free itself entirely from dissent. There are those who doubt _The Jupiter_! They live and breathe the upper air, walking here unscathed, though scorned,--men, born of British mothers and nursed on English milk, who scruple not to say that Mount Olympus has its price, that Tom Towers can be bought for gold!
Such is Mount Olympus, the mouthpiece of all the wisdom of this great country. It may probably be said that no place in this 19th century is more worthy of notice. No treasury mandate armed with the signatures of all the government has half the power of one of those broad sheets, which fly forth from hence so abundantly, armed with no signature at all.

Some great man, some mighty peer,--we'll say a noble duke,--retires to rest feared and honoured by all his countrymen,--fearless himself; if not a good man, at any rate a mighty man,--too mighty to care much what men may say about his want of virtue. He rises in the morning degraded, mean, and miserable; an object of men's scorn, anxious only to retire as quickly as may be to some German obscurity, some unseen Italian privacy, or indeed, anywhere out of sight. What has made this awful change? what has so afflicted him? An article has appeared in _The Jupiter_; some fifty lines of a narrow column have destroyed all his grace's equanimity, and banished him for ever from the world. No man knows who wrote the bitter words; the clubs talk confusedly of the matter, whispering to each other this and that name; while Tom Towers walks quietly along Pall Mall, with his coat buttoned close against the east wind, as though he were a mortal man, and not a god dispensing thunderbolts from Mount Olympus.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Yoga Bear

At the Village Day, there was a woman offering a free yoga taster. Given Hay was manning her stand she couldn't participate, but went along to a session at the Masonic Hall the other night and loved it.

Apparently she can take AN Other along to the next session for free and said she'd like to take me, however, she said it can be quite strenuous and I must promise not to fart.

Monday 15 September 2014

Scottish Dad Dancing Clothes

It seems to be that the Yes argument for Scottish independence is boiling down to decisions being taken on Scotland from a seat of government 400 miles away.

If the world were to use 400 miles as the yardstick of the limit of functional democracy, then it would look a very different place and the majority of countries (Norway, Sweden, France, and Russia to mention but a few) would cease to exist.

From what I can see, there is little difference between the Scots and the English - certainly they cannot be told apart by their DNA. They have the same values as the English, the same worries, the same hopes and fears. I defy anyone to tell me otherwise.

We had a Village Day over the weekend and Hay used it as a means of selling some of her vast stock of clothes by setting up a stand. The woman has more clothes than, well, a person with a lot of clothes.

Believe it or not - that gazebo had more clothes hanging on the inside! It's no wonder she keeps most of her clothes over at her father's.

In the evening there was a disco in the Village Hall and I engaged in some over-enthusiastic Dad-dancing. I was in agony in the morning.

Saturday 13 September 2014

The Jean Genie

When I was a teenager in the late '60s and early '70s, a pair of distressed Levis or Wranglers (preferably the latter for the fashion conscious) were a badge of distinction, but the distressing was a direct result of wear and washing and took several years to achieve. Tears and holes were patched using a back pocket or another pair of old jeans.

These days you can buy pre-washed jeans as an instant fashion accessory - you can even buy pre-ripped jeans. The currency of a genuine, old pair of jeans has become debased. It's a deplorable state of affairs.

Friday 12 September 2014


Well, I'm back from the exhibition in Hamburg.

Given I was meeting customers there I decided to put my upper denture in so I could smile convincingly (a missing canine being the culprit). The problem is that it is damned uncomfortable, extending quite far into my palate and making me gag occasionally. No wonder my customers recoiled from me several times during my meetings - they must have thought I was going to engage in some projectile vomiting .

I'm getting quite jaded about exhibitions, just watching all the feigned interest of salesmen in the punters, when the only thing on their mind is a sale and a bonus.

Monday 8 September 2014

Fire at Tetbury Classic Car Show

It seemed that the house caught fire yesterday!

Thank God it was only a reflection of the garden waste bonfire....

Went to the Tetbury Classic Car Show yesterday. some nostalgia follows:

A jamboree of Jaguars 

You can see me in the mirror 

Everyone's dad's favourite 


Inland Revenue Service 

Hayley loves it 

My tame metal fabricator's Healey 3000 

Wonder if Hay's dad ever drove one of these? 

The fabulous A 

A nest of Cobras 

Pure art nouveau - gorgeous!

More Healey 3000s

Hay's favourite 

One of my favourites 

Trapped in a bubble of time 

A somewhat saintly car

Off to Hamburg for the week to attend a maritime exhibition.

Sunday 7 September 2014

The Parcelled Benefits of Growing Older in an Independent Scotland

The older you get, the faster time seems to pass by. The corollary of that is that paydays seem to occur more frequently.

The graphical calculator I bought for No.1 Son has remained undelivered by Parcel2Go, resulting in the sender being notified it's being returned to him. The sender has contacted me and says he will send it by Royal Mail once he gets it back.

Parcel2Go must be the worst courier company in the UK, but it maintains it has the best customer satisfaction. The reason for that is there is no customer complaint number - and if there is no avenue for complaint, then your customer complaints will be zero. Simples.

I once jokingly proposed such a system for a company I worked for. Seems Parcel2Go have actually implemented it.

Just thought of an incontrovertible argument against Scottish independence - it's going to cost any Scot with a UK passport the Scottish currency equivalent of £72.50 to get a Scottish one.

Saturday 6 September 2014

Couriers & E-Cigarettes

On the subject of e-cigarettes, no wonder the World Health Organisation is up in arms about them - they've obviously gotten hold of the wrong end of the stick and think Darth Vader used one...

Click to enlarge

I do wish people sending goods would desist from using commercial couriers - the buggers don't have a clue as to where my address is. 

We have a house name, rather than a number - a legacy from the place being a small Coltswold village and impossible to change, especially as the track to our house is an unmade, unadopted road.

Rather than calling the place Barnfield (it looks like a barn and is in a field), I could have named the place No. 100, but that wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference, as none of the other houses have numbers.

Royal Mail at least have regular posties who know the area, and also know who to leave packages with if we're out. I don't mind paying extra to use Royal Mail, as every 3 deliveries out of 4 with 3rd party couriers ends up in either several failed delivery attempts, or me having to go tens of miles to the local courier's depot. 

I wouldn't mind if the couriers called me so I can talk them down, but most courier companies these days don't even provide their staff will mobile phones - City Link being the worst offender. Itinerant Polish drivers, who change more frequently than I change my underpants (once a week.....), don't stand a chance, poor buggers.

However, I have saved the best to last - Parcel2Go. Can you find a customer service number to find out why your parcel hasn't been delivered? I defy you to find one that works. The website is useless.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby

Overheard in a text conversation:

Needless to say, that's not the name Hay was looking for.

Ever heard of the magnificently named Landrum Brewer Shettles? He's a guy (now dead) who wrote a book called 'How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby'.

He could have offered a refund to every person buying his book who didn't have success using his method and still have made a fortune, as he indeed did. With no research whatsoever, statistics ensured he had a 50% (give or take 1% in each direction) success rate, as evidenced by the reviews below.

Now that's the kind of book I'd like to write. How about a book marketed in the Caucasian world titled 'How to Ensure Your Newborn Will Have Blue Eyes'?