Friday, 31 January 2020

A Sad Day

Today we mourn the death of commonsense and the birth of populist ignorance, as exemplified by Nigel Farage's disrespectful display on Wednesday when he brought the UK into disrepute on a grand scale. While I accept the democratic outcome, I can in no way accept the devious process that got us here and ended up with a Disunited Kingdom.

A common theme against the EU is one of corruption, yet people voted for Ukip, which had the worst attendance record of any European political party and did precisely nothing, except grandstand about issues they couldn't even be bothered to turn up to debate. Any corruption that exists within the EU is not on the part of the institution itself, but comprises false claims for funds from some member countries - it's akin to accusing the UK government of corruption because a local authority is corrupt. The EU is engaged in a huge anti-corruption drive, not that this bothers Brexiteers, as they're intent on justifying a preconception.

Another persistent trope still repeated by Brexiteers is 'unelected bureaucrats', when the agenda, strategy and priorities of the EU is determined by the Council of Europe, the elected heads of the member governments. The Commission is a civil service, and I have yet to hear of civil service elections in any country.

Unwillingness to reform is a common cry, but ask anyone what reform they desire and they go quiet. Those that have actually read something on the EU to justify their irrational hatred may shout about the Common Fisheries Policy, which has thus far been responsible for rejuvenating stocks, while ignoring the fact the UK sold its quotas to the highest bidder, which may subsequently have changed hands and become foreign owned, unlike most countries that tied them to ports and not vessels.

"CAP!" someone may shout, but ask them how the UK can become self-sufficient in food and they can't avoid having to introduce the subject of subsidies to encourage our farmers to grow what might not be profitable. Ask them how we would maintain biodiversity and they would be forced to admit that farmers might have to be paid for this 'inefficient form of farming'.

Another will shout European Army. Much is made of the fact that, as the Nth largest economy in the world, the UK has the whip hand in trade negotiations with the EU. This admission that economic size matters somehow ignores the fact that the EU, even without the UK, has an economy 5.8 times larger than the UK. If size matters, then huge size matters more. This translates well to the European Army (leaving aside, for one minute that the UK had a veto). Just as economic size provides an advantage in trade negotiations, a larger army than your opponent - or numerical superiority, as we experts call it - has been seen as a distinct advantage since men started beating seven shades of shit out of each other, and our potential enemies have very large armies.

Everything Boris promised is slowly falling around his feet - no border in the Irish Sea, frictionless trade with the EU, the UK having the upper hand. People have once more been lied to by an arch liar, yet they cheer him to the rafters whenever one of his lies is proven to be such. It's tribal politics - the type that ignores truth and facts. It has infected America and has now infected the UK.

Having no  border in the Irish Sea, frictionless trade with the EU, having a deal done by the end of 2020 and not having to renegotiate 759 existing treaties can only be achieved by regulatory alignment - and Boris knows this. My prediction is that this is exactly what will happen, but if it does, then he can legitimately claim that it was at least OUR decision. Once more, the Brexiteers will have been royally stuffed but, yet again, Boris will be cheered to the rafters. However, he can say we have saved our budget contribution - but in exchange for being a rule taker.

It is said that democracy's greatest weakness is an ignorant electorate, which the demagogue takes advantage of, producing the tyranny of the uninformed. This is the reason there is an occasional and paradoxical need to be undemocratic in the aim of preserving democracy.

Democracy's strong point is freedom, but this freedom is in many ways illusory. Communist regimes make people sacrifice freedom in exchange for certain benefits, such as work for all. In a democracy we have freedom but, because governments are focused only on short terms, they are subject to 'the market', which has no respect for people or freedom. Democratic governments make all manner of promises of greater freedoms when electioneering, but once in power they have to come up against the reality of the power of 'the market' which precludes them delivering on many of the promises when the market takes a downturn or someone manipulates it with vast amounts of money. China has no such restrictions - the government can control the market - certainly the internal one - and bend it to its political will.

The Daily Mail, a paper with among the highest circulations in the UK, conducted a poll among its readers on making it illegal to fly the EU flag in the UK - 85% of those polled supported this motion. Is this what the UK has now descended to? The barbarians are no longer at the gates - they've taken over the asylum.

The Romans had a symbol of judicial power - the fasces (above) - a bundle of sticks tied together. The symbolism conveyed was that, whereas one stick can be easily broken, a bunch of sticks tied together are much harder to break. The UK didn't surrender its powers to Brussels - it carried them to Brussels and used them there for half a century for the good of all Europe. Now this era of contribution has come needlessly to an end.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Who Are We

So Huawei are going to be allowed to provide parts of the UK's 5G network. As a former professional in microwave networks (albeit satellite, but with some terrestrial connections), I can't help feeling that this decision is going to come back and bite us in the bum.

It cannot be denied that, as a Chinese company, Huawei is bound by Chinese law, which categorically states that Chinese companies have to hand over any data to the Chinese government, if and when requested to do so, and that the Chinese government can exert pressure in ways that a democratic government would find hard to do. That's simply a matter of fact.

It's also a matter of fact that there's not a single British company that can provide a sufficiently robust enough 5G network within the timescale Johnson has stipulated and the only European companies that manufacture the necessary infrastructure are Nokia and Eriksson, with Huawei already providing the majority of the equipment currently used in 3 and 4G, and these networks require interoperability with 5G. Thus Huawei is the natural choice from a cost perspective.

While GCHQ and others have no evidence of Huawei currently being used for spying for the Chinese government, that's not to say it can't in the future - the capability can be easily achieved through slipping spying payloads into future upgrades.

The Chinese government, having no opposition, can and does plan decades or even hundreds of years ahead, whereas any UK government is focused on the short term only and always has its eyes on the next election - in the case of Boris Johnson, he notoriously can't seem to see beyond teatime. India, which enjoys (if that's the right word) a lot of Chinese inward investment, is being pressurised with that investment being cut off should the Indian government not reverse its decision to bar Huawei from its 5G network. China is busily buying influence all around the world in a very long term strategy.

In allowing Huawei limited access, Johnson seems (as in a lot of issues at present) to be following the EU's line of thought, rather than that of the US, while depending on a US relationship to replace the possible loss in EU trade with an increase in US trade. More on this tomorrow...

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Slow News

I seem to have problems with my browser whenever I load up newspaper content - it takes ages to be able to scroll down while the browser loads hundreds of adverts which plaster the content. The root cause may be my Chrome browser being particularly slow or some setting that needs to be changed in Windows 10, but it doesn't happen on other websites.

It's bloody annoying and only happens on newspaper content where the actual story I'm interested in usually comprises less than 20% of the total download - the rest being advertising crap or irrelevant 'related content'.

It seems to be worse on British newspaper sites and I can watch the javascript load in the lower left of the sceen, which takes forever. The problem is directly proportional to the amount of advertising and is inversely proportional to the quality of the news source concerned - the worst being the likes of the Daily Mail and the Sun, which I occasionally read for amusement.

Anyone else had the same issue and know how to resolve it? Ad blockers don't alleviate the problem, as the ads aren't popups, but integral to the pages.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Appendages and Bits

I'm making progress with free-mounting the unicycle and have reached the point of being able to mount with just a couple of fingers on whatever support I'm using - invariably a post of some description.

Riding is now a doddle and my arms are no longer failing around to help me keep my balance. I look quite the seasoned and nonchalant unicycler riding around the Tesco car park, or wherever I choose to practice.

One thing I have discovered is that jeans are not the ideal clothing in which to practice free-mounting; loose-fitting trousers that are generous in the crotch being the order of the day. The issue with any form of tight clothing around the nether regions is the gentlemen's appendages. 

To avoid a painful experience, one had to place the seat slightly to one side of one's crotch, such that said appendages are naturally moved to the other side. This avoids said appendages becoming trapped under one's arse when leaning forward to initiate movement or when dismounting. Jeans have the drawback that that tend to keep gentlemen's bits dead centre, which can be excruciating when actioning a free-mount.

The older the unicycling gentleman is, the worse the problem, as the effects of age and gravity on said gentleman's appendages becomes more pronounced... Too much detail!

Monday, 27 January 2020

Sinister Images

I saw this photo in a news article and every time I see it I get a chill - it looks like a scene from Star Wars; perhaps the Sith HQ.

I used to work in an office in the Baltic Exchange, the building in St Mary Axe in London's financial district that preceded the Gherkin and was bombed by the IRA in 1992. The MD of the small company I worked for missed the bombing by some 20 minutes, having stayed late at the office prior to a flight to the USA.

Talking of sinister images, Moo, as we have called the fibreglass bull's head I bought to decorate the AirBnB room, has received his first coat of light grey paint. He will be finished off with gold leaf horns, muzzle, eyes and the inside of his ears. Depending on the effect, he may yet undergo a few more iterations in colour to achieve a non-scary, yet sufficiently interesting result.

Hay was considering a flowery decoupage with daisies, but I don't think that will give the desired result, although it will certainly be non-threatening.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Decorous Passports

Overheard while watching a cremation on a film on TV.

Chairman: "I'd prefer to be buried."

Hay: "When would you like that to be?"

We went to Wotton-Under-Edge for a day out yesterday, calling in at a cafe in Tortworth, which had some interesting aeronautical decor hanging on the walls.

That last one is a canopy - would love that in our house. Instead, Hay bought this mirror at an antique shop for the AirBnB room we're busy creating. She haggled a good price, but I still prefer the aircraft canopy.

We were really impressed with these two interesting chairs, but they were beyond our budget - £250 for the pair.

I managed to nab something in a charity shop with which to cover my new passport when the current one expires in August - it's a leather obscenity cover that saves embarrassment when the blue ones come out. Note the writing at the top...

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Cultural Appropriation II

Following on from yesterday's post on cultural appropriation, one of the largest annual acts of cultural appropriation will happen tonight when millions, with no discernible link to Scotland whatsoever, attend Burns Night suppers to eat haggis while swilling scotch and pretending to be a full-blooded Scot on both sides of their family.

Never understood the fascination myself, but there again, I have no Scottish connections (not that such a drawback hampers most people).

To make matters even worse, Burns Night and Chinese New Year fall on the same day this year, so I fully expect to see Chinese people wearing kilts while celebrating New Year. But not in Wuhan.

I suppose the main reason for so many people celebrate Burns Night is that the Scots are pretty ubiquitous around the world, especially the English speaking world, having been the mainstay of the British Army during the days of Empire building. They had a penchant for migrating to far-flung places and then mourning the fact they ever left Scotland in the first place, despite the prime reason having been starvation, lack of work and being chucked off their land by an English aristocracy.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Cultural Appropriation

There was a news story I spotted the other day about Cultural Appropriation, which I believe is a made up term to describe something that's entirely normal. It concerned a small number of Maoris who took great exception to the NZ rugby team using the Haka. 

For a start, the NZ rugby team has a healthy number of Maoris playing for the side. Secondly, if the entire population of Nigeria (which is much larger than that of the UK) suddenly decided to start Morris dancing while wearing Dutch clogs and sporting Savile Row suits, it wouldn't worry me in the least - and why should it?

The UK is a melange of at least half a dozen cultures, each wave of invaders adding many cultural practises to what became British; Celt, Roman, Saxon, Dane, Norman, etc. Why do people get so upset about borrowing from different cultures? Imitation, surely, is the sincerest form of flattery and, in some cases, something to giggle about when done particularly badly.

Proponents of the argument maintain it's the appropriation of minority cultural practices by the majority, but how does one define a minority for a start? The Normans were a numeric minority in England after 1066, but the ruling class, and hence set the fashion. The adoption of Pacific Island tattoos by white, British males is a cultural adoption, but the Pacific Islands are nowhere near the UK.

It seems to me that it's nothing more than an invented justification for a minority to have a moan, unless someone can tell me differently.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Global Warming Tours

Here's a novel business idea - tours for climate science deniers by plane and diesel bus of all the sites where global warming is having the greatest impact. Melting glaciers, drought stricken areas, smog filled cities,etc. I'm sure Trump would like that. What is he on? As for the impeachment process - what a farce when your mates are on the jury and won't allow the evidence against you to be presented. 

300 years ago the very rich were aristocrats who owned land. That shortly changed to entrepreneurs who capitalised on the technology developed by the Industrial Revolution - the steam engine and its progeny. Then came the information technology billionaires. I confidently predict that the next generation of billionaires will come from the Green Revolution.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

The Dukes of Hazzard

What with Harry and Meghan's titles being in the news and me having visited my old school at the weekend, which was in the grounds belonging to the Marquess of Anglesey, I got to thinking about peerages in general, again.

While there are numerous dukedoms, there are only two duchies - Lancaster and Cornwall- belonging to the monarch and the Prince of Wales respectively. Even those lands are not exclusively in the counties to which they relate (and Lancaster is a city, not a county, but Lancashire is nevertheless a county palatine). None of the other dukedoms pertain to duchies - Norfolk, for example, is a dukedom, not a duchy. The monarch, even if female, is the Duke of Lancaster and not the Duchess of Lancaster, the title duchess being that pertaining to the wife of a duke.

The rest of the more senior peerages (dukedoms, marquessates and earldoms) seem a bit inconsistent, as some of them appertain to counties (Norfolk, Somerset, Sussex, etc.), but in the main they centre on a single town or city (Edinburgh, Cambridge, etc.). A couple, at least, pertain to the family name of an ancestor - e,g, Beaufort and Schomberg. A real mish-mash.

A number of places, understandably, keep getting missed off the list of possible names for dukedoms or earldoms, such as Docklands, Huddersfield, Doncaster, Accrington, etc. Not surprising really - who wants to be the Earl of Accrington, the Duke of Docklands or indeed the Earl of Jaywick Sands? I had included Hull in my list, but discovered that there had indeed been a Duke of Kingston Upon Hull at one time.

I just wish we had a town called Hazzard in the UK and for someone to choose it as a dukedom, although that would be lost on anyone under a certain age.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

An Important Truth

I believe I've discovered an important and obvious truth. If you're a bloke, what do you buy your Mrs or girlfriend for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's Day ir anniversaries? If you're a woman, what does your bloke buy you for these same occasions?

I'll bet a pound to a pinch of poo that the answer is flowers, jewellery, perhaps the odd household implement or a decorative item of some description. No bloody wonder women are good at decorating themselves or houses and cleaning things, but have a poor reputation when it comes to being able to fix things - we men have never, ever thought to buy them tools as presents. They simply don't get the chance to hone or show their DIY skills because we men are totally thoughtless. It's so blindingly obvious when you think about it - duh!

I intend to rectify this at the first opportunity and buy Hay a beautiful set of tools, like the one in the image above. I'm certain she'll be overjoyed.

Monday, 20 January 2020


I've had a great idea for our local greengrocer's shop in Chipping Sodbury. It's called Ian's and is a traditional greengrocer's shop that's in competition with some half dozen supermarkets in the surrounding locale. He should cash in on the increasing trend for vegetarianism and veganism by calling it Ian's Vegan Vegetables.

I know it's implicit in the name greengrocer, but marketing is marketing and a lot of people are not the full shilling.

That said, there's an argument that some vegetable crops aren't fully vegan, as they make use of truck loads of bees being shipped around in an exploitative manner to pollinate them, although not all ethical vegans agree.

One thing that can be said for Ian's is that the quality of his veg is superb and the cost is a lot less than in the supermarkets. A tenner will get us all the fruit and veg we need for a week.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Pebbles in Anglesey

Overheard while walking along Newborough beach in Anglesey:

Chairman: "No matter how interesting a pebble you pick up, a few yards further along you'll find one that's even more interesting."

Hay: "A bit like you and wives..."

Hay completed her January wild swim yesterday off Ynys Llanddwyn, the island at the end of Newborough beach. The water was bloody cold.

Lovely start to the day here with a view over the Menai Straits, with a slight mist over the water, and the western end of the Snowdonia range poking through with the moon above it.

Back home today.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

A Temple to Fornasetti

Overheard in the car:

Radio Interviewee: "Your body is a machine...."

Chairman: "Mine is a temple."

Hay: "You mean a sewer."

We're looking for bedding for the spare bedroom which will eventually become an AirBnB room. I quite like Piero Fornasetti's  madcap prints and was idly looking for some Fornasetti themed bedding but, believe it or not, you simply can't find any Fornasetti soft furnishings, with the exception of cushions. The Fornasetti brand is carefully curated by his son and his designs have been alternately in and out of fashion for decades.

All manner of Fornasetti plates, trays and items of furniture are available, but nothing in the line of bedding.

Friday, 17 January 2020

For Whom the Bell Tolls

A number of Brexiteers want Big Ben and numerous church bells to be rung to celebrate the UK leaving the EU. If this is meant to be in support of the nation coming together, then it's the most crass, juvenile and triumphalist action imaginable when less than half of the country actually supports leaving. You don't bring the country together by adding insult to injury. It's nothing more than a political stunt.

Knowing that the government stood a very good chance of losing a 2nd referendum, Boris tactically chose to invoke a General Election, where a minority can still win the day through the first past the post system. The idiots leading the Labour and LibDem parties accepted the challenge, rather than continuing to push for a 2nd referendum, which they stood a much better chance of winning. As it transpired, 43.6% of the electorate voted for Boris - less than half the electorate. Boris won because, for many, the fear of Corbyn, after a successful Tory smear campaign, was greater than the fear of Brexit.

It was a democratic vote, even if a rather underhand method of securing a victory, so we have to accept the result as those are the rules of the game, but to then rub the majority's nose in that victory is certainly not going to bring the country together - it will widen the divide even further over an issue, the cost of which is already standing at £130bn - very nearly the cost of all our EU contributions over the last 47 years, and climbing. 

Ringing church bells is something that's done as a national celebration when the entire country is together, but not all of us will be celebrating this example of national self-harm and hubris caused by weaponised ignorance in support of vulture capitalism. Most will be mourning the UK's dramatic fall in global standing, respect and reputation and worrying about their job prospects on the shifting sands of our new, diminished position in a world where rampant greed is the cause of many of our ills and regional and then global cooperation and regulation is the only remedy. Nationalistic neoliberalism is the enemy, as it has been many times is the past - it is not the solution.

"No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Those who don't know their history are condemned to repeat its mistakes.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Minecraft Struggle

A good friend sent me this short video on WhatsApp on Tuesday and I just couldn't stop giggling for about 20 minutes. It is easily the funniest video I've seen in a long time. 

I know it's a set-up and I'm not even sure why I found it funny; perhaps it is just the sheer inappropriateness of the present, the honestly of the mix-up and Grandad's reaction. Absolutely hilarious, but Hay didn't seem to find it as funny as me - she called it bloke humour, whatever that is.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Gas Bubble

Saw this Fiat Arbarth yesterday.

I'm not sure I'd want to travel with that person in such a small space.

It's not how you spell FIAT anyway...

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Rexit II

So much for all those who believed the Sussexes could never, under any circumstances, leave the family business. Some dotting of Is and crossing of Ts remain, but it has been a relatively simple and quick process. I can only applaud the Sussexes for wanting to stand on their own two feet, become self-sufficient and escape the stifling and toxic environment of the UK press and internet trolls.

The cap doffers and forelock tuggers will be annoyed at not having as many people to look up to, the press will be hacked off at not having some additional Royals to alternately laud and vilify in turn and the Brexiteers won't like it as they perversely seem to enjoy being ruled by an unelected, pan-European family firm of Danish / German extraction,whose sole purpose is to collect and share European crowns.

Perhaps the Sussexes want to forge their own paths before the whole edifice finally crumbles.

Monday, 13 January 2020


I keep hearing statements such as; "You can't be a Royal one minute and not the next," but no-one has successfully managed to provide any explanation as to why this would be the case.

The mere fact it is reported that the Royal Family is close to a solution in respect of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and in such a short space of time, would suggest that this is indeed not the case.

I have every sympathy for them - who wants to live in a fishbowl and suffer the slings and arrows of the British press, especially after how they, and The Firm, treated Harry's mother?

I do believe Harry is leading the charge for the modernisation of the monarchy and, as such, will probably make it fitter to survive for a while yet. I quite like the concept of freelancing Royals and many people have decided not to join the family firm, especially when they stand no chance of becoming CEO or Chairman.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Colour Film

Hay and I were talking about race and acting. The recent adaptation of His Dark Materials shows the King of the Gyptians as a black man. Now the Gyptians are ethnically of Dutch origin, as evidenced by their names and slang, and are clearly based on a mixture of British narrowboat culture from the 18th and 19th century and gypsies. How could a black person come from such a culture? Does it actually matter?

Then we have an advert I saw recently (I think for beds), where the family comprises a black father, white mother and a child of Chinese ethnicity. 

In the case of His Dark Materials, the insertion of a black person into the narrative is clearly at odds with the original book. In the case of the advert, no advertising representation of a family is meant to be a real family anyway. But once again, does it actually matter?

I remember seeing a Kenneth Branagh, 90s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing in which one character, Don Pedro - a prince of Aragon - is played by Denzil Washington.

Imagine an adaptation of A Man For All Seasons in which the part of Henty VIII is played by a black character. Would there be uproar, and if so, why? The part of Othello is increasingly being played by black actors, yet Lord Olivier famously blacked up for the part in 1965. Was that simply because there were no lead black actors available? One also has to consider that Othello is not necessarily black anyway - he is described as a Moor, which means of North African heritage and more likely a Berber. I would imagine 

Shakespeare had nothing other than white, protestant men in his troop of actors, and they even played the female roles, admittedly dressed as women.

Should we, in this day and age, be shocked at a black Henry VIII? Surely what is important is that the actor can inhabit the part, rather than the colour of the actor's skin or his/her ethnicity being paramount. If skin colour is important, then shouldn't other attributes have equal weight?

Should acting be colourblind, even if historical accuracy is sacrificed, or is that asking too much and would it sow character confusion? Is a determination to stick to the correct ethnicity of historical characters simply common sense, or covert racism? Are we, in the interests of accuracy, to have Muslims only played by Muslims, Shylock only played by a Jew, gay people played only by gay actors, etc., etc.? I can see it being rather confusing, if potentially explosive, to have an Afro-American slave character being played by a white actor.

Analyse and discuss.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Meet the Ancestors

I've mentioned before that my sister-in-law discovered late in life that she had a talent for art. Her speciality is copying Old Masters, which could lead to a profitable career in art forgery.

We're looking to purchase a few of her works, but I thought it would be rather cool if she could paint me into an Old Master. Here's the outline of the project I have in mind.

Hay thinks it's daft and hubristic, but I like it.

Here's the original, which is thought to be from 1591, but the artist is unknown, although from the Dutch School.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Target Originals

These hospital Accident and Emergency targets annoy the hell out of me. If a hospital is working at 100% capacity in terms of resources available, i.e. beds and staff, but the input number of patients increases, then of course these targets are going to me missed. They are not a measure of the efficiency of a hospital, but a measure of the lack of government investment in beds and staff. What should be measured is throughput numbers based on resources available, not percentages of the input seen within 4 hours. The current metric seems to be a stick with which to beat the NHS.

Yesterday I heard many a royal media commentator saying that the Sussexes can't go into 'trade', as it could tarnish the royal brand with commerce.

Unless, of course, you're the Prince of Wales with your over-priced Duchy Originals and you own vast swathes of the country.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Time for a Change

Whereas most people replace their cars with new ones, I get older ones. At work we recently we took in a 2007 Saab 9-3 auto Estate, which I seem to have fallen in love with.

1.9 L turbo engine, ivory paint without a single blemish (even under the bonnet), light grey leather seats that are like a well-loved armchairs, a fantastic sound system and it moves reasonably well in Sport mode. It has a beautiful retro look to it and, despite being a year older than my Passat Estate, it's got only 56k miles on the clock, as opposed to the Passat, which is about to hit 100k. The icing on the cake is the automatic gearbox - I detest manuals in this day and age.

Saabs have an excellent reputation but, due to them no longer being manufactured, they are among the best value 2nd hand cars on the market. The fact the body is nickel-plated means they're mostly in perfect condition.

This one cost us £1,125 as a PX from a main dealer and needed nothing more than a service, MoT and valet. It is quarter of the value of the Passat and I'll probably end up with a lot of change.

The only downside is that, being an automatic, I can't use it for towing. Not a big issue though. Also I don't have an Android head unit, but I will see if I can find an after-market one with Bluetooth on Android 9.1, not that it's essential. Might put a reversing camera on it too, but again that's not essential if I'm not using it for towing, as that was the main reason for having one on the Passat.

I simply have to buy it - and will. We will shortly be a 2 Saab family; Hay with her 2008 9-3 Aero and me with my 2007 9-5 estate.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

A Movable Feast

I was thinking today how we, as a group of 3 related families living next door to each other, should delay Christmas next year by a week. There are fantastic bargains to be had in the shops at present, and Hay getting some exceptionally good bargains on Christmas cards, turkey crowns and sides of salmon is what started me off on this train of thought.

Perhaps we should all start a popular movement to spread Christmas over a month with people celebrating Christmas when it suits them, rather than on the 25th of December. Shops wouldn't become crowded, prices would in all likelihood be lower for everything, the roads wouldn't be a nightmare (excellent news for Chris Rea) and it would be a more enjoyable experience all round. The purists could stick to the traditional dates and the rest of us could have it anywhere from December 15th to January 15th.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Gotta be Done

Spotted this advert in Frome on Saturday.

Saw them in 2017 in Bath and by God they were good. I do believe we are going to have to see them again in March.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Roadkill for the Count

Question: are ethical vegetarians OK with eating roadkill? Sure, roadkill animals are killed, but not intentionally. I can understand that those who simply don't like the taste of meat avoiding meat of any kind, but ethicals avoid the exploitation of animals and it's hard to make the argument that roadkill is exploited - an ethical vegan driving a car could feasibly kill an animal accidentally.

While looking for a suitable image for vegan roadkill, I came across this picture of a dead cabbage on a road.

We've been watching the BBC adaptation of Dracula by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat and can't understand why some people are put off by it. OK, it requires a bit of thinking and perhaps that's what is putting off those who want to be spoon-fed a predictable plot. The Sherlockesque adaptation (the Gatiss and Moffat trademark) was fantastic and a brilliant reimagining of the original story. It was a Bram Stoker tribute act.

The reason I put reimagining in italics will be apparent to one of my readers. Yes, I do have at least one reader...

Sunday, 5 January 2020

The Inner Adolph

Hay's dad was cleaning out his log burner grate last week. Hay took this snap of him after having done the job. He claims it was accidental, but we think he's channelling his inner Adolph...

The resemblance is uncanny...

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Subtle Subtitles

Yesterday I was watching a YouTube video of Elon Musk being interviewed by a room full of journalists. The interview was accompanied by subtitles which seemed to be generated by the world's worst voice recognition system. I simply had to record it on my phone - the subtitles were absolute garbage and bore little, if any relevance to what was said.

I hope the voice recognition system isn't a beta version of one proposed for use in the Tesla.

It could be how Google interprets the questions I ask, which would explain a lot of the answers I get.

Friday, 3 January 2020


Gadgetman strikes again. Bought myself one of these little jobbies - it's the size of a credit card and when you twist it diagonally and raise the side flaps, it turns into an adjustable mobile phone holder.

Got it on Amazon and it took forever to come from China. I'd just about given up on it and alerted the sender, whose response was to immediately reimburse me the couple of quid it cost me. 

Serendipitously, it arrived the same day. Told them it had arrived and they asked me to pay again, which I did, but that merely initiated another purchase, so by March I'll probably have two for the price of one.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Continuity for Profumo

We watched the Profumo drama on catch-up last night and I spotted what I thought was an almost immediate error; Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davis went into a 60s greasy spoon and asked for a Full English. I don't remember greasy spoons in the 60s offering anything other than the Fry Up, rather than the Full English. After all, it's not as if there was any alternative, as croissants had not yet been discovered.

In relation to the Profumo Affair; in the 60s it was customary, if not de rigueur, that a parliamentarian who was exposed as having lied to Parliament had to resign as a matter of honour. Now people vote for those who lie most, fete them and make them PM. How times have changed.

Overheard while watching The Trial of Christine Keeler:

Hay: "So Profumo not only lied to Parliament, he also lied to his wife. I believe she was a famous actress."

Chairman: "Yes, Anna Friel - she was in Brookside."

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all my readers - you're gluttons for punishment.

My New Year's resolution - to stop buying quilted, and hence buoyant, loo paper.