Thursday, May 31, 2007

Duff Note

A man has been shot for singing out of tune at a karaoke bar. I've been to karaokes before, usually with severe reticence and having to be dragged along. And I would have to say, each time I have been able to understand what the poor bouncer was thinking. Night after night he had been forced to listen to out of tune voices killing songs slowly but not softly. Is it any wonder he snapped?
What he was singing hasn't been reported but possibilities would have to include
"Long and Winding Road"
"Stand and Deliver"
"Dead Duck"
"Hero Takes a Fall"
"I See Red"
"Murder, Tonight, In The Trailer Park"
"Indoor Fireworks"
"Careless Whisper"

More Than Black Eyes

Warning - Bad taste ahead

The first panda bred in captivity and released into the wild has been found dead. Xiang Xiang was released last year after his breeders had spent time teaching him how to forage for food and how to defend himself. He had three years of training on how to survive. Defensive skills included learning how to howl (doesn't sound very defensive to me). Survival skills included building a den. In fact, I am not convinced that he wasn't really a boy scout in a panda suit. No, I correct myself, didn't he win "SAS - Are You Tough Enough", the one in Scotland?

At first it looked as though he had fallen from a tree. But then investigators noticed marks that looked like scratches on his back. Was this a cover up? His death is being treated as suspicious and the police are appealing for witnesses, if you know of any pandas looking as though they have been in a fight please let them know. The question is - did Xiang Xiang fall or was he pushed?

Little Whorls

I am beginning to despair of the Conservative Party. It is beginning to look as though they couldn't organise a p*ss up in a brewery. Labour should be weak at the moment. They have an outgoing prime minister who, the public have finally realised, mislead and lied and manipulated (well lied may be strong but the other two statements stand) things to his best advantage. One who is now trying a rapid world tour to get his legacy. Well, what do you expect, he spent most of the time out of the UK anyway, he may as well finish in the manner he's grown accustomed to (there's a thought, he may have to start paying for his own flights). And an incoming prime minister who is there because of an inherited right (they worry about the Royal family!) and no-one daring to challenge him, so no democracy there then. And are the Conservatives capitalising. No. Instead they go into a self destruct mode. When they could be talking about education instead they are bickering over the name of the type of school. Really, whether it is a grammar or an academy isn't the point. The point is we need to find ways to improve schools, to improve education for all, to raise everyone up to be the best they can, to reach their potential rather than pushing everyone down to the bottom rung.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I don't know if you watch "The Apprentice". I do, in the vague (and so far unfulfilled) hope that I might learn something about business. Anyway, to cut a digression short, tonights episode had the remaining candidates having to present on a TV sales channel. And one of them was nervous about being on telly!!!!!!!!!!! Give me a break, you have been filmed constantly for ten weeks, you applied to be on a reality TV show, you are an arrogant and ignorant to**er. And you expect me to believe that you were nervous. Pull the other one.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Steak With That

Roll up, roll up for the latest in reality TV. The Big Donor Show. Brought to Dutch TV by those nice people who came up with Big Brother.

The concept of this is that a woman dying of an inoperable tumour can choose who is going to receive her kidney while she is still alive (after she has died her remaining organs will be divvied up as normal!). A lot of complaints about this being in very bad taste. I can understand why.
But, after getting over the shock and the surprise, I have to say "why not"? It is her kidney. Why not do what she wants with it? Yes, it is a stunt. The woman and the TV company are criticised for playing god. But then, after her death, other people would elect who to give her organs to anyway, so aren't they also playing god. Doctors are complaining it is unethical. But why? To give up your kidney (while you are still using it) is a great sacrifice for another. If it was someone giving their kidney for a member of their family then then would be lauded. Maybe this is a woman who sees her life about to be snuffed out and just wants to know she has done something for someone else first.


Does anyone else get unduely irritated by those signs in the back of peoples cars that say things like "Baby On Board". Because yes, of course, I was planning on running into the back of you but now I won't! Let me go and find someone more suitable to have an accident with.

A Number 37 Please

We have a very good Chinese restaurant that delivers. Well, had. The restaurant closed down, which lead to a panicky phone call a couple of weeks ago to check if they still did the delivery. Luckily yes. Then yesterday I rang for a take away. Number not recognised. More panic. Why would the number not be recognised unless it was disconnected. Why disconnected if the place hadn't shut down completely. Potential disaster. Yes, I realise this might be a slight over-reaction but a good chinese is hard to come by. So this evening, before I started cooking, I thought I would just ring and see if anyone answered. And they did. Hurray. Of course I couldn't exactly just say I was ringing to see if they were open. So at great hardship I had to order something. Oh deary me!

And now we have to hide all the evidence because if "A" finds out, who is less than 5 years old you will remember, then "J" and I won't hear the end of it.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cricket - Headingley

England beat the Windies. With an innings and one hell of a lot of runs to spare. That's more like it. And Pietersen got a double century. Excellent. One advantage of decorating was that at least I got to hear a bit on the radio.

Bridge To Terabithia

"A" and I went to see "Bridge To Teribathia" today. Most of the weekend I have been decorating and "J" has been looking after "A". I thought it would be good to give "J" some time off and to spend some time with "A". Well, I can say that the music is good. I am even tempted to buy the soundtrack. But the film itself. It is just so sad. I am not going to say why because that would "spoil" the story. But don't go if you are looking to be uplifted. Now, I do admit that since "A" was born I think I have more of a weak spot about children than I used to. But I do hate that feeling of tears at the edge of your eyes. Most undiginified. When this film comes on TV I will not be watching it again. The children are good actors and it is done well, but gosh, depressing. "A" enjoyed it, which is the main thing. It's going to take me days to get over it though.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

So Long Mrs Robinson

This is a strange story, and one which I can't decide on - whether it is sad or refreshing. Charles Webb, the man who wrote that iconic book later turned into a film, "The Graduate", lives in poverty. Strangely he says his life would have been different if it wasn't for the book, but it is hard to see how it has impacted on his life. If anyone had asked I would have said I would exepct him to be very rich. But he sold the rights to the book, and to all the characters before it was a hit. A film that has grosses over $100 million, and he sold it for (reportedly) $20k. He says he has no regrets, but the picture doesn't make you think of someone who is content with their lot in life.
It could be refreshing, that he is completely unencumbered by money and material needs. Or it could just be very sad.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Standing Room Only

There are times when the entire political arena seems to be completely confused these days. New Labour has blurred the dividing lines so much that it can be hard to know who is who. Surely, after her statements, Margaret Hodge cannot be labour. There has to be something wrong when the BNP are saying that a Labour ministers views echo their own.

Housing has to be allocated on need. As long as someone is legally in this country then we need to look after them. And length of residence should not enter into the equation. I am wondering how you even start to add in length of residence. Does 5 years in the UK equal one child? 10 years negates an extra one more adult than you have bedrooms? 15 years overides terminal illness and 20 for disability? And do you lose points for how far away your country of origin is. -2 points for Holland, -5 for Germany, -8 for Serbia and -23 for Korea (and, of course 100 points docked for being from France).

Friday, May 25, 2007

Set The Alarm

Once again there is some media attention on doctors and, more especially, the out of hours service. The particular case that has been the focus of all the attention is not my main topic here but it is worth saying that seeing/speaking to so many different doctors over the bank holiday may not have actually influenced the case that much. While continuity is important for cases it actually bears more relevance for long on-going situations. In an acute case such as this the fact that Penny Campbell had to go over what had happened each time she saw a doctor would not make a large difference as eveything would be fresh in her mind. In fact, even had the case notes been available, the doctors would probably have asked her to go over it all again anyway.

But I am digressing. I want to discuss out-of-hours. There are a lot of complaints about out-of-hours service and how it isn't what it once was. That you can't get you own doctor to come out and see you at two in the morning. That you have to visit a special out-of-hours clinic. That they don't know you.

I can understand why people miss seeing their own doctor, it is a very important relationship and trust is key. But just think about what really used to happen. A local practice could not afford to employ someone to specifically cover for nights. They have the right number of doctors (this goes for vets as well) to cover the day to day duties. Then, each night and at weekends, someone is on-call. Now consider what occurs during the night. That doctor on-call gets rung up at 0400 hrs. He goes out and visits his patient. The patient is happy, they have seen who they want. But that doctor doesn't get back to bed. Instead he comes in and works a normal day at the surgery. So all the patients he sees that day are being examined and treated by someone who is suffering from sleep deprivation. Mondays are even worse if you see the doctor who has had a bad weekend on-call and been up both nights.

Going to an out-of-call service is a small price to pay for seeing doctors who are fully awake and at their best because they are working at night but then have the day to sleep, while your own doctor is as fresh as a daisy every morning and eager to see you.
Addendum - I note that Brown, who said he would be against spin, has already managed to get in with commetns about reform to the service without having proper time to examine the case.

Gee guys, a big "thank you" to all of you who kindly pointed out that Nescafe is produced by Nestle. No, I really mean it, I really appreciate it. My brain has carefully and sub-consciously been avoiding making the connection. Now that I know and can't deny the fact, I have to let my principles take over. So I have got rid of the Nescafe at work and have organic fair trade coffee instead. And it tastes b.....y awful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In fact, it even smells horrible. Oh, let's be honest. It's undrinkable sewage. But I have to stand by my principles so I am drinking tea instead and it really isn't the same. Without that coffee kick to start the day I never feel like I get going. So, once again, I thank you.

Manipulate Me

I had an osteopath appointment yesterday. This is such a frequent and common occurrence that I have full sympathy with fellow bloggers with bad backs. On my more organised days I manage to take my iPAQ with me to make the next appointment.
Yesterday was such a day. Except for the fact that my iPAQ had slightly different ideas about my needs than I had. When I tried to enter the next appointment the iPAQ refused to make it a half hour slot. Instead it steadfastly and resolutely stuck to the idea that my appointment should start at 1800 hrs (correct) but not end until 0400 hrs. Now I do like my osteo, but it really isn't that kind of relationship. And when I told my osteo of the problem I was having she pointed out that she charged £35 for half an hour so I probably couldn't afford that kind of service. The conversation dived from there.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Secret Week

A very masonic week really. Tuesday was the Lodge rehearsal. Last night was a Chapter rehearsal. Tonight was the Chapter meeting. Considering I only started learning the Chapter words 5 days ago it went fairly well. It wasn't that I was being lazy but rather there is so much Lodge stuff to learn my main focus has been on that. Now I have to admit to being slightly annoyed with myself tonight. What I can get word perfect in the car didn't quite come out right in the meeting. Bit like my old school reports "could do better". But generally people seemed happy with my efforts, and at least I was trying without the book as a prompt. I am looking for perfection though, and I disappoint myself when I fail, even if it isn't at a level that others really notice. I have to tell myself that the people I respect, such as our Director of Ceremonies, seem to be happy with my attempts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I am struggling with the story on fair trade bananas on so many levels.

A fair trade company fouond to not be so fair once it got to the UK and had Polish workers. Although the bananas may come from a fair trade source the packers over here were put through some terrible conditions and not given a break or allowed to go to the toilet. It highlights the plight of migrant workers in the UK.

Apparently Jacqui Mckay, national co-ordinator for Banana Link told Ethical Corporation this morning that this kind of expoitation is due to UK supermarkets squeezing their supply chains in Banana price wars. There is an organisation called Banana Link. How cool is that? Some readers of my blog will like Banana Link because they are aprt of the anti-Tesco campaign.

Then the name of the company, "Pratts Bananas". Well, judging from this story, they have certainly slipped on one of their own banana skins and taken a prattfall here.

Here Boy!

Some people, my mother included, will be pleased to know (and many won't give a fig) that I have decided to have a change of hairstyle. For the last year I have been going for the number 3 cut, short hair. On reflection I don't think the bouncer look is working. So I have gone back to having my tintin quiff. I think it acentuates my boyish charms!

There And Back Again

Gosh. Long day. And to think when I first booked today off I expected to be going to the spa. Instead drove over to Cardiff for some masonic business. First a committee meeting to discuss some lodge matters then a Lodge of Instruction (basically a rehearsal for the meeting in three weeks). All went well but I have only just got in. Time for a coffee, a whisky, then bed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pandoras Box

Created by the Music Genome Project, Pandoras Internet Radio is a fantastic idea. The Music Genome Project started in 2000, and the idea was to create the greatest analysis of music ever. That is analysis of the structure of music, looking at its attributes and effectively developing "genes" for music. This moves beyond the genre or what the band looks like and studies what individual songs sound like.

Well, the next step was to create Pandoras Internet Radio. So you can enter a song or a group that you like and then the system will generate a playlist based on teh genes of what you like. You can give tracks a thumbs up or thumbs down, you can add more "seed" groups or songs so taht the selection will start playing things you have never heard before but are likely to appeal to your tastes based on what you have told it you like.

So I make a channel based on The Indigo Girls and The Cowboy Junkies and I end up discovering madder rose because it possesses major key tonality and electric rock instrumentation.

The only problem, and there had to be one, is that I can't register because it is only open to US citizens because of licensing laws. So, if like me, you live outside of the USA then I am just teasing you with something that could be great.

Burning Money

How much is being spent on a smoking ad that is completely unnecessary? Is the ad to inform people who smoke that they won't be able to in public enclosed areas any more. No. Is it to improve the national health. No. This is a glory ad. It is a dying attempt by a government, or more specifically a prime minister, trying to build a legacy. He is trying to say "look what I have done for you". It is to make us non-smokers think that he is a wonderful bloke. I really am pleased that smoking will be banned, I think it is great. But I don't then need to see millions of tax payers money being poured into an advert that simply tells us what we already know. It is hard to imagine that no-one knew the ban was coming into force, it has been talked about enough. But even if you don't know then the signs that will go up everywhere will be enough to inform you when the time comes.
Can I have my money back please?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Take Your Pick

Study the following excerpt of conversation and then answer the multiple choice question below.

To set the scene - me decorating "A"s bedroom, has involved a hammer and some brute force to get the built-in wardrobes to a state where they are no longer built-in. Nails, screws and splinters are abundant. Instead of tidying up I have started painting.

A - "I want to come in"

Me - "no, you don't have shoes on"

A - "neither do you"

Me - "that's not the point"

A - "but you don't have shoes so I am going to come in"

Me - "no, don't. I am being naughty"

A - "well I will be naughty as well"

Me - "no, there are sharp things on the floor and you might get hurt"

A - "so might you"

Me - "yes, but if I go to the doctor with a nail through my foot it was simply my fault, if I take you with a nail through you foot then we have been bad parents and they will take you away"

So do you think "A" answered

a) You aren't bad parents, you are wonderful

b) I don't ever want to be taken away from you

c) It's alright being bad parents

All those who guessed (c) will realise why my self-esteem took a dive.

England vs West Indies

Only England could have 5 players scoring centuries and a bowler getting 6 wickets in an innings (and the first spin bowler to get 5 LBWs) and yet not win the match. They managed to do so much and yet the Windies must still be the ones coming away with the moral victory. Isn't sport a funny thing.

Tea Time

It is sad to think that some people get pleasure at burning things down. A fireman recently told me that 60% of their calls are to arson related incidents. And last nights fire on the Cutty Sark ("on" - maybe better phrased as "of") was designed to cause a massive amount of devastation.

The tea clipper was a symbol of her time. I am pleased to hear that a lot of the woodwork, including the masts, was away for restoration and they think that they can rebuild her.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Please Tell

Democracy has gone severely wrong when the people at the top think that the rules they pass should not be applied to themselves. But with the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act our politicians seem to have decided that they should be exempt from something that affects the rest of us mere mortals. Yes the amendment was introduced by a Tory, but it would not have passed without overwhelming Labour support. Both parties are equally culpable.

I have some concerns about the Freedom of Information Act itself. I think it is dangerous to let people have access to information that they can't understand properly. Things like league tables are inherently misleading. A hospital may appear to do worse at a certain operation than another but maybe they have more of a high risk group coming through their doors. A company may appear to have more problems with their product but maybe they are better and more honest about their reporting. If you don't understand the particular field then it is difficult to make a valued and valuable decision.

So yes, let's challenge and think about what we want the Freedom of Information act to stand for and its purpose. But don't let one group decide that it shouldn't apply to them while the rest of us have to answer to it. Anyone who has the power to bring about a law should also make sure that it applies equally to themselves. Otherwise we move from a democracy to a dictatorship.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Saturday, May 19, 2007


During the tea break on Test Match Special today they had Michael Parkinson, Dickie Bird, and others, discussing cricket when they were young. Apparently parky used to be quite good. They got to reminiscing and then talking about how the club supplied the bat and the pads, and they had to then share. I am not sure who then followed this up with the next comment, but I so wish they hadn't, that "they even shared the box but at least it was warm".

Friday, May 18, 2007

Because You're Worth It

The "Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists". How weird is that? The thing that is really weird is that there appear to be more men than women in the club. Although (and I am so sorry for the following, but it's true) some are difficult to decide. I do love this picture though, I think she is going to milk some radioactive cows.

I actually found the LFHCS by accident as I was looking for the "IG Nobel" awards. Took me a little while to work out why they were called that. These are given every year for science that cannot or, more importantly will not, be repeated. Such as the "neuticle", replacement testicles for dogs that have lost theirs (careless) and available in different sizes (fair enough) and different consistencies (more worrying). Or the award in medicine for "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage" (it's all right, I am allowed to say that, it's science). The pure threat of which would cure me of hiccups. How about the peace prize for creating the amusement park "Stalin World". Or computer science award for software that detects when a cat is walking across your keyboard. jihui ipbiuFHHgnno j894y5779 56yngnnnlnbjnb\jnbjknjnweuhguihgjsnvbjnb o j jo no n jon on ui uyg iononui yygui jo

Thursday, May 17, 2007

You Makes Your Choice

This is obviously the thought process all bloggers go through:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


It's no secret that I have been spending this week in Scotland (I don't think I was actually banished) for Strangles Awareness Week. I seem to be living in hotels at the moment. Considering how many hotels I have stayed in over the last 6 years I am amazed that I only discovered something very important tonight (and suspect my lack of knowledge of it ranks on the nescafe scale of ignorance (see comments)).

Tonights meeting finished late and there was no food. By the time I got back to the hotel (which I wasn't going to name but have changed my mind, poor service, rooms not ready, apathetic staff - Ramada Perth) the restaurant and bar service had closed down. I considered going to get fish and chips but they said that there was some hot food on the 24 hour room service and I could have that in the bar. So I ordered the chicken and mushroom tagliatelle. What I learned was that you shouldn't order hot food once the kitchen has closed. In hindsight it is fairly obvious that they have bowls of tagliatelle on the off chance it may be ordered and then stick it in the microwave. Rather than pasta it was something that would do well filling the holes in the wall.

I really should have gone for the fish and chips, standing in the rain would have been better and more enjoyable.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Put It Out

So the next plan is to stop smoking in cars altogether. I have previously said I am in favour of banning smoking in company cars but I am not sure this can be extended further. Admittedly the reason cited is that smoking is dangerous. I don't mean dangerous as in cancer, but as in road safety. I rather like the concern that the cigarette might get blown into the back of the car by the wind and cause a fire (I would love to see the statistics on how often that happens every year).

This could get out of hand. Obviously eating and drinking (non-alcoholic obviously) will be the next to go. And it is true that trying to eat a curry while doing a three point turn is particularly difficult to do. Singing along to music will have to go as well, mainly because hearing someone else singing along to Girls Aloud at the traffic lights can lead to serious damage (banging the head on the steering wheel until the air bag goes off). Finally it will be sneezing. After all, a good sneeze when you are doing 70 on the motorway can distract you for a lot further than the braking distance, not including the subsequent two miles trying to get the windscreen clean.

Monday, May 14, 2007


I have never been a fan of the old Mars Bar and I am not a vegetarian so I am completely unaffected by the upset over the manufacture process. I wonder if it will make anyone give up vegetarianism. Which is the more important, chocolate or principles? In fact I am rather glad that I am not veggie. I gave up Nestle chocolate a while ago (and I so miss Chunky Kit Kat) because they are a fairly dubious company and I can't support them after they have exhibited such a low moral position and pure disregard for child welfare. But it is one thing to give up one company, quite another to have to give up many. So, lucky for me, I am quite happy to eat something made from the stomach of a calf.


Gordon knows that he faces three great problems - first that he isn’t “popular”, second that his automatic shoe-in as prime minister is seen as side-stepping democracy, and third that he has to distance himself from a failing Tony.

It appears that he sees humility as the way around these problems. And, on paper, humility will certainly be a good approach. The humble are always popular, by being humble he exercises democracy because he takes on board everyone else’s views, and Tony was definitely not humble.

However when we look at how that humility is exercising itself we find that it has its own inherent problems. In Basildon, at a meeting of the Labour faithful, he went around asking members what they thought and what they would want for the future. Whenever someone had a good idea then he would write it down. Those there lapped it up, after all they were being listened to.

But is this what we want of our prime minister. That he has to ask us what we individually want and then that he has to write it down. He is the one with the political training surely. If your dog needs a splenectomy then you wouldn’t expect me to go around the waiting room canvassing opinions on where I should make my first incision. You would be even more worried if I then had to write it down.

Either the ideas weren’t very good but he was writing them down to demonstrate that every word counts, in which case we are simply looking at spin, or they were good ideas but he needs to write them down because he is devoid of ideas himself and can’t remember all the good plans he is being told. Neither option marks him out as the next great hope.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Spot The Beaver

I am struggling to ignore the wealth of jokes in my mind resulting from this story. However, in order to remain politically correct I think it is important that I don't go down into the obvious beaver jokes.

I like the fact that they thought there might be beavers around because trees were disappearing "and then a lodge appeared". It seems to me that a lodge suddenly appearing would indicate either beavers or freemasons. And, to be honest, freemasons don't normally gnaw trees in half.

I think the beaver should have been left in the wild though. I am all in favour of wolves being released again, and the beaver would be able to keep them company.


A couple of weeks ago we broke "A"s bed. I think it was her jumping on it but it did seem to coincide with me sitting on the bed. Didn't help my complex about my weight. But I digress. Bed broken meant we had to look at getting a new bed. Which, in turn, meant looking at bunk beds. I had a bunk bed and think they are fun as well as being quite good space wise. We found a bunk bed and "A" was very keen on the idea. Which, in turn, meant that I had to start thinking about redecorating the bedroom. Which, in turn, meant I had to think about removing the built in cupboards. It also meant we let "A" choose her own colours, she has gone for pink and lilac (thank God I am colour blind). Anyway, last weekend I took the upper cupboards down with limited damage to the walls or to me. This weekend I took down the wardrobe. All fairly successful. Except I found out that the previous owners weren't as careful as I would have liked. The wardrobe was covering some reasonably large holes in the wall. So now I have holes to fill before we can start the painting.

Next Up

The iPod is such a wonderful invention. I wonder why I didn't get one before. With a 400 mile trip today in the car I was able to plug my iPod into an FM transmittor so I could listen to Brideshead Revisited, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, and a shuffle through my music. Excellent.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


It would be a mistake to start watching the Eurovision with anything in your mind other than pastiche and farce. However each year manages to outdo the last. How on earth did Serbia win? Block (or "Bloc") voting is really the only answer. And it is one of those moments when we realise how few people like the Brits. Even the countries like Belgium and Portugal who owe us quite a lot (having rescued them from some interesting dictators) manage to ignore us. And I really believe that Scooch wasn't that bad. They deserved to be in the top 5 (actually not because of how good they were but because of the level of the competition). Had I voted I would have gone for France. Possibly one of the first times I have ever wanted France to win something but their act brought tears to my eyes, it was so funny. But I would have liked Russia to win, I seem to remember the song was quite catchy, but the girls definitely stick in the mind.

Don't Look Now

Female students at an american college stole 1000 copies of the school newspaper. The girls had gone to watch a lacrosse game and had painted "I (heart) Noonan" across their torsos, as support for an individual player. It appears that they didn't like the photo when it was published and some off them thought they looked "fat".

It is almost a funny story. I say almost because there are more elements of sadness in it that humour. That these girls (look at them) think they are fat is a damning inditement on society. What is even worse is that on any particular day we can find stories about people trying to become size 0 and the population becoming obese. Both leading to problems with health. It seems that we can't find a happy medium because of the obsession the media has of how people look, and the "beautiful people" who are the celebrities that people aspire to be.

I also think the weight problems are related to how divorced people have become from their food and its source. As more and more live in cities and never see a farm, people understand less and less about food itself. We shouldn't need traffic lights and warnings on packaging. We should know about how to eat healthily because this is how we should be brought up. Not that food is good or bad, but that a balance is needed. Crisps and biscuits shouldn't be banned from schools because that doesn't teach children to eat responsibly, it teaches them that they can rebel by eating crisps and, crisps being more accessible than alcohol when you are young, then that will be what they do.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Here Mister, Can We Have Our Ball Back

Well it's "missus" and "shuttlecock", but even so this is a good story. That the 13 year olds would think about calling the police over a shuttlecock that they had knocked into the next door garden is good enough in itself. That the police would actually investigate it even more classic.

We are told that in Blairs Britain crime has gone down (although violent crime has actually gone up). Well it all makes sense now. The great shuttlecock thieves of our times are obviously going to be shaking in their boots (or is that sneakers). Knowing that the police will respond quickly and unmercilessly to such crimes is enough that no-one will ever deflate a kids ball ever again. Frisbees will be given back without hesitation. Garden sports are safe for the future, forever guarded by the thin blue line.

Bang Bang

I am not going to dwell on the resignation of Tony very much. I actually never really doubted that most of his decisions were taken from conviction. I think the conviction badly placed, but I believe he felt he was doing right. I am more dubious about his grasping of the sound bite. The opportunity to ally himself with the people, to turn anything into a political point if he could, such as the peoples princess.

But I note he has managed to take us to war 5 times in 10 years. I am missing one, as I can think of Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, but I am reliably informed it was 5. Once I got over the shock of such intervention I actually then realised what was really interesting was the wars we didn't get into. We have let Zimbabwe get away with abuses of a massive nature, and this in a country that we have close connections to. We have ignored Darfur, where massive genocide has occurred. And the real question has to be why we haven't intervened in these places? Why do we believe in an interventionist policy for some countries but not others? I will leave you to ponder that.


There’s that feeling
Of unfinished business,
Of a meeting
Never consummated.
Then walked away,
Leaving the opportunities
Forever unanswered.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Feeling Deflated

So I got back from Hannover at about 1800 hrs yesterday. Not a bad time. Should be able to get home before "A" goes to bed. Get in the car. Start to move forward. Funny grinding noise. Stop. Turn off the radio. Take out the hands free earpiece. Pull forward. Grinding noise again. "Hmm", I think, "something stuck under a wheel". Get out. Go to the back of the car. Find out I have a flat tyre. When I say flat I mean as flat as people used to believe the world was. After that things went downhill.

I manage to finally jack up the car and undo all the wheel bolts. And the wheel won't come off. It seems welded on. No give at all. Maybe I am missing something I think, an extra bolt perhaps. I get out the manual. I examine the wheel. I examine the manual. I kick the wheel. I check the manual again. I grab the wheel and yank it. I check the manual. I hit the tyre with the spanner. None of this works. Finally I admit defeat and have to call out the assistance people (definite advantage of a company car). I have never failed to change a tyre before, I am really quite disappointed with myself. Finally the mechanic arrives at 2000 hrs (no, I won't be seeing A" before she goes to bed). He doesn't seem phased. Instead he gets a big rubber mallet and whacks the tyre a few times until it finally surrenders and comes off. So brute force really was the answer.

Then he puts on the spare. Which is one of these "temporary" tyres. I have never looked closely at one before. They look like they should be used in a soapbox derby. And you aren't allowed to go over 50 mph with one. And you aren't supposed to go long distances. So whose bright idea was it to start issuing these things. If I need to change a tyre then I want something that I can actually use, not something out of a lego kit. Because, you know, maybe, just maybe, I might have a long journey ahead. Something like a 500 mile round trip the day after I get back from Hannover. Just possibly. And having to first go to get a new tyre might not be how I planned to start the day when I needed to get to a meeting 250 miles away. I mean, I am just hypothesising, obviously. That wouldn't be the reason I got home after 2130hrs two nights in a row would it.


Sitting on this wall
River quietly flowing behind me,
Waiting to see you
To see your smile.

Cars stopping, starting
As lights slowly change.
People with purpose
Striding by.
A mother, a child
And difficult to know
Which is less happy.
The tramp
With more meaning in his sack
Than I have held
In all my life.
Men in their suits
And in their minds
Behind the desk.
All these living
Moving to their future

If you don’t show
I simply


Goodbye, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

Obviously the big news of the day is Blair. Not a shock, his resignation has been more anticipated than global warming. But I did notice his last comment in his speech, one that doesn't appear to have been picked up by the media. He wished us "good luck" which seems to be a slightly odd thing to wish the people of Britain. Unless he knows something about the next Prime Minister that we don't. Oh dear.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Piggy Pig Pig

I have eaten more pork in the last three days than in the previous 3 months. Which is kind of OK. I don’t mind pork, I fact I do like the taste. It is the smell that is the problem. Ever since I was called out to a fire at a pig farm the smell of roast pork has provoked unusual images in my mind. The sort of images that nightmares are made of.

Espedair Street - Iain Banks

Banks has a bit of a reputation as a “cult” writer. But those who understand him don’t just like him, they love him. Whether it be straight “Iain Banks” the fiction writer or “Iain M Banks” the sci-fi writer, he has a deep insight into humanity and what drives us that can be, at times, unnerving.
Espedair Street is about a man who has everything and nothing. A man who feels ugly and out of place in a world that has adored and admired him. Banks weaves Dannys’ world together, the past, the future and the present. From the opening line “Two days ago I decided to kill myself” and drowning as “to be spun inside the whirlpool and listen with my water-logged deaf ears to its mile wide voice” you are caught within that whirlpool.
Banks plays with the reader, as ever. Snippets that you hope will later be explained. Elements of humour that make you feel guilty for laughing as a sadness unfolds. But more, you don’t just want to know, you need to know, what is happening. Can he find happiness in oblivion or simply anonymity? Once dreams have been answered can we recognise what resides in our hearts?

Time Out

I hope, when “A” is older, that she and I will be able to spend a couple of weeks wandering around Europe, sitting at street cafes, talking, reading, listening to music, and watching the world go by.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Deep in the kiss
A long embrace
When I taste the salt
Of a single tear

Don’t Mention Ze…….

I get the feeling that the Hannovarians haven’t forgiven us for beating them in 1945. Nothing written in English. A bombed out church kept as a memory. A life sized picture of Hitler in the Herrenhauser Garten. A bell to sympathise with Hiroshima (so nothing written in English anywhere but Japanese is no problem).
There is an area called Waterloo. I am sure it is there because they wish Napoleon had won (actually, in the back of my mind, I am wondering if they helped us out there but, if they did, I am convinced that they now regret it).
Then there is the “Red Route”. A painted red line doing a figure of eight around the city. Purportedly so tourists can follow it and see the sights. There are about 40 “points” on the walk which are numbered. I am sure it is actually a joke on the British. The points don’t really correspond with anything, they are just there to make the Brits stand and stare around trying to work out what is important. And they know that the Brits will follow the line step for step, the same as we stand in queues, so they have added in u-turns and dog legs that don’t go anywhere, for no reason other than to make us walk further.


There is little in Hannover. The best is the Herrenhauser Garten and, once I had gotten over the disappointment that “Berggarten” doesn’t translate as Beer Garden, I admit it wasn’t bad. But I have seen better as well. So I was racking my brains, wondering why Hannover would seem so important in my mind when there seems little of note. Then I got it. Of course, with a Homer moment. It’s where our royal family come from isn’t it. I have to admit I have never understood how we ended up with a Royal family from Germany but at least I now know why they left.

Monday, May 07, 2007


She’s looking at me
The one over there.
A glance that met,
Turned to three,
In this cliché
Of a crowded bar.
Long dark hair,
A sultry look.
Over twenty heads,
Or more,
We share the joke
With an edge in our eyes
That delves to the core.

And this smile of mine
Is trouble
For the both of us.

Caffeine Low

All I want is a coffee. Is that really too much to ask? The hotel couldn’t provide any last night. And there are no facilities in my room. Top it all off with no coffee at breakfast. Getting desperate. Walking the streets in the rain looking for one cup, just one cup would do, of coffee. I have been past three shops that sell coffee machines, you know, the big shiny ones that make a lot of noise and have more valves than a steam engine, but no-one making the stuff. I tell you, I am that close to buying one of the infernal machines and sneaking it into my hotel room.


With true German efficiency housekeeping were entering my room at 0745 hrs. Bearing in mind that this was still 0645 hrs to my body clock I was neither up or happy with this development. I would have complained but was more concerned that they were about to make me do 20 push-ups.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Walk, Don’t Walk

Dark sky
Faces hidden,
Leaving umbrellas
- with legs.
The only brightness
The only colour
The regular
Traffic lights.

For The Non-Linguist

OK, before you go on, I know this is a bad thing to say. The problem with Hannover is that everything is in German! I mean, I’m willing to be fair here, it is Germany so they should be allowed to use their language. But some translations please. I will be lucky not to end up eating pig trotters.

Take Off

So, off to Hannover for a Sheep Vet Society meeting (honest). The plane from Heathrow is the smallest I have been on, discounting flying Chipmunks (and that is not a circus act) when I was an RAF cadet. The plane is only three seats wide. We have to board one at a time so that the stewardess can individually shoe-horn us into our seats. By the time the last 5 people board there is no longer any room in the overhead lockers for their hand luggage. The stewardess has to stop a passing Robin Reliant and borrow the roof rack so she can strap the offending luggage to the wing. Then, when we are wedged in and require a liberal application of baby oil if we are to ever hope of getting out again, they announce that (a) we don’t have a take off slot for half an hour and (b) by the way we are still refuelling so please don’t fasten your seatbelts. Strangely enough, every time I have heard that last announcement I have completely failed to find it reassuring.


We all went to see "Le Grand Cirque" yesterday, apparently described as the next generation of Cirque du Soleil. That is a tough accolade to live up to. Now, to be fair, they were squeezing into a relatively small theatre. A good theatre, but a small one. So their acts will have been restricted. And the acts themselves were good. I think the reason it can't be compared to the Cirque du Soleil is that the music was not original (I recognised the music from "The Apprentice", Clannad, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Bolero, A James Bond theme) and there wasn't the same weaving of a story. In addition the dancing girls were just weird. I don't mean they looked weird, but the dancing was strange in that it felt like a throwback to a 1920s glamour show with a lot of feather boas, and twee costumes (for instance pretending to be babies). It was a bit incongruous and seemed to simply be a "filler" while the set was changed. At times it felt a bit emarrassing to watch, what with bits of anatomy being wiggled in front of me (and I mean in front, we were in the front row).

That said, it was a great spectacle and very enjoyable. If you have the choice and it is one or the other then you have to go for Cirque du Soleil but, if you don't need to decide between them, why not see both.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


So Blair seems happy with the results. A good springboard. Certainly I can see that the Lib Dems won't be too happy (although my votes counted and Lib Dem have won here). But he seems to be forgetting Scotland. That's no springboard, more a belly flop. Labour have held Scotland since 1955. That's a big loss. If you ask me it couldn't happen to a nicer party.


Any vet will tell you that you just can't trust hamsters. This photo proves it.

The End

Only go here if you are confident that you have enough hobbies away from your computer.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Hear them



The little sparks
In my mind


Never ending

Of then.


I may not have
All the answers

But at least I have
A lot of questions.

Minty Fresh

So glad I didn't fall for this one. I read the original story about a week ago and, although tempted, was too sceptical to put it on my blog. There is no doubt though that the idea of people buying lambs in the mistaken belief that there were, in fact, poodles is very appealing. I was almost swayed by the number of people who did believe the story, and also by someone swearing she knew of someone who had bought two hamsters in the belief that they were labrador puppies, but no, I held out. Pity though.

The Naming

At the end of our trip to Cadbury World "A" decided she wanted to buy a teddy bear. Not as though she doesn't have enough but hey ho, her choice. In a great show of originality that can only come from a young child this teddy is now called "Chocolate".

Thursday, May 03, 2007

No Jumbo

How would you feel to wake on a Sunday morning, ready for a peaceful day, only to be greeted by the sight of a 737 as you opened the curtains? This is the problem faced by some residents in Mumbai. A 737 has simply been abandoned in their street. Apparently the driver gave up when he came to a flyover that was too low. Yes, well, it's a flyover and you have a plane, where's the problem.

Best Laid Plans

OK. So that really didn't quite work. I had a simple plan for the day. Go in to the office. Meetings in the morning. Then sort out a few things in the afternoon before leaving slightly early (by which I mean 1700 hrs would be good enough). So that I could drive over to Wales. For a masonic meeting in the evening. However. Yes well. "J" rings me at 1900 hrs to see where I am, fully expecting me to be at the bottom of the M50. And I explain that I am still in the office. Things got a bit busy. Looks like I will be driving over to Wales in the morning then.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Bit Blowy

I don't know how much you know about hurricanes. More particularly the naming of them. I think it is quite interesting. Each year there are 21 names allocated to be used for the Atlantic. These names go through a cycle and are used every 6 years. So the names used in 2005 will be used again in 2011. Except for Katrina. When there is a very destructive hurricane then that name is removed for good. So there will never be another Hurricane Katrina. Katrina has been retired and replaced by Katia. Since 1998 Allison, Floyd, Georges, Iris, Keith, Lenny and Michelle have also been retired.

What I really like though is some of the names chosen. So this year be on the look out for Hurricane Chantal and Hurricane Dean (possibly both originating in Essex I suppose), Hurricane Felix (somehow generated by a cute black and white cat), and Hurricane Wendy (from Never Never Land).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


One of the nice things about my job is that I am not always in the office. I enjoy the office time because the cameraderie is good and I feel part of a team. But on days like today, with the sun shining, it is nice to be out and about. Didn't go anywhere particularly scenic, I just had an off-site meeting, but I was out in the sun and it was, well, simply pleasant. Do you remember those days at school when the teacher would decide that the lesson could be taken outside in the sun? The wind meant you couldn't write your notes, and you got so distracted by a ladybird or an ant that you lost track of what was being taught. But it was nice. Good days.