Wednesday, 30 November 2011

George Smiley on Strike

Bit of a bugger when you take the wrong teeth to a meeting.

Was in such a hurry to get to a business meeting in Dorking yesterday that I grabbed my new bottom denture rather than the top one - the top being the one that hides the massive gap in my smile. Can't get used to the damned things and only put them in for meeting and greeting.

Still can't understand what today's public service strike is going to achieve. If you're serious you go on strike till you get what you want. A day of mild disruption that few will even notice (and even fewer actually support) will get you nowhere.

Listened to a teacher on the TV yesterday complaining that she'd been promised an index-linked pension based on her final salary and now the government is reneging on it. Sorry love, in the private sector the final salary pension went years ago and we never had index linked pensions in the first place - why, when we're all having to tighten our belts, are you a special case?

I guess I'm going to be vilified again for the above paragraph, but before having a pop, please come up with an alternative solution to the problem that will work. Unions are partisan, as indeed they are paid to be; they're not interested in equitable solutions. Governments, on the other hand, have to take a wider and longer view, as they're running a country (although that doesn't necessarily make them infallible).

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

An Apple with Holes

Clever people, these chaps at Apple - it now seems that the Apple iPhone can keep you warm.

Yesterday I was thinking about the phrase 'pre-drilled hole'. When you think about it they all pre-drilled - it's just a case of who does the pre-drilling.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Public / Private

I can't get my head around this public/private argument between the unions and the government.

Public sector workers are allegedly striking because they're unhappy with their lot. Why on earth don't they just do what I did whenever I was unhappy with my Ts & Cs - simply move another job, in their case preferably one in the private sector where things are so much better! The fact they don't speaks volumes about their actual Ts & Cs, which can't be as bad as they maintain.

I heard someone yesterday say that the average wage has gone up in the public sector because low paid jobs have been outsourced to the private sector. However, if jobs have been outsourced and the public sector has made a saving, the inevitable conclusion is that the very same jobs when performed by the private sector are lower paid, which makes a mockery of the unions' case.

Fat cat union bosses on large salaries and huge bonuses are moaning about the salaries and bonuses of fat cat private sector bosses. Why? it's not as if these private sector salaries or bonuses are coming from the public purse. It's not even as if the union bosses are in the public sector themselves - they are in the private sector too, despite their members being in the public sector.

What do these union guys want - the maximum possible numbers employed in the public sector (as I do) with a bit of pain for all, or employment for a select few - i.e. those who survive the inevitable job cuts - with better than average wages and pensions (which is what it seems they are prepared to strike for)?

Friday, 25 November 2011

Bloody Brits - Coming Over Here & Taking Our Jobs

Well, made it back from Greece without any problems.

The thing I went to attend was a maritime conference/exhibition and I met up with a bunch of people who I hadn’t seen for ages – some for a decade or more and some since we were cadets together 40 years ago. Conversations re started from where they’d been left the previous time we all met, but that’s the maritime industry for you.

The Brits among us went out for a heavy night on the piss. I got to bed at 2am and one of my colleagues stayed up drinking cheap Greek whisky till 6am. Mike Tindall and the England rugby team would have been proud of us.

The government has said that the public sector strike will cost the country £500m in lost productivity. The unions disagree – and I must say I agree with the unions. How can it cost the country anything when everyone in the private sector is actually redundant and not working anyway?

Apparently the net migration last year was 250,000 inward. It is understood that this is down to those bloody Brits all coming back from Australia and New Zealand and taking our jobs….

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A Mere Shadow of Their Former Selves

Took these photos a few weeks ago, just before the leaves all fell.

They're shadows - I thought them interesting.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Shiney Things For Idiots

Hay made a Freudian slip yesterday and came up with the excellent word “bollotics”, which we defined as politics of a particularly bollocky and bull shitty nature. She came out with it while listening to a radio interview with William Hague, who she thinks sounds as if he’s trying to convince himself, rather than those to whom he’s speaking.

Now for my trip to Greece.

Do you, like me, feel there simply aren’t enough Harrods shops in our airports these days? I’m not sure about you, but the first thing I want to do after transiting airport security (besides having a pee, a coffee and a sandwich) is to spend shedloads of hard earned money on expensive and intrinsically worthless crap. The operators of Heathrow Terminal 5 have addressed this woeful situation by providing not one, but two Harrods shops.

I had a scout around in the duty free and was gratified to discover I could obtain a 70cl bottle of Gordon’s gin for about £2 more than in my local Co-Op.

Once I’d boarded the plane I had a quick scan of the British Airways magazine to see what films I could expect to watch on the 4 hour flight and was overjoyed to see a veritable plethora of cinematographic delights on the 12 or so available channels. However, when I looked at the back of the seat in front of me, I suddenly realised that there was no personal entertainment system – it was an old 767 with just a single screen for all passengers.

I then had a bet with myself and selected what I thought would be the most boring film and sat back to await the announcement of which film would be playing. Bingo – I was psychic! OK, it wasn’t boring, but it was certainly the one I thought would be the most boring.

To while away the hours I decided to partake in one of my favourite in-flight past-times, scrutinising expensive shit in the duty free magazine. Time was when expensive things were made of expensive materials; these days that rule has been broken by the marketing people and expensive stuff is also made of crap that looks as it if will fall to pieces within a pico-second of purchase.

Just for a minute, let’s look at something of intrinsic worth - gold. Now gold is said to hold its price due to its rarity. However, given gold has been mined since prehistoric times, the amount of gold in circulation has increased, meaning it should be dropping in price year-on-year. Counter-intuitively it continues to increase in price – but that is due to the yardstick by which we measure its worth becoming worthless – i.e. money.

Let’s look for a minute at house prices. It surely can’t be right that a house which costs £X to build can cost 3 x £X when sold on. This discrepancy is due to what we experts call ‘the market’, which is a mechanism that restricts supply (or increases rarity) so as to maximise profit. It is illusory and can be destroyed at the whim of a government that decides the tax payer will subsidise housing costs (see yesterday’s post).

Anyway, back to shoddy goods designed to relieve the wealthy and weak minded of their money.

In my youth, Lambretta was a name synonymous with parka coats, short haircuts, oily 2 stroke scooters and soul music; these days it’s a name associated with high fashion. Lambretta now aligns its name to a shoddy £60 watch. What the connection is between Lambretta and watches is beyond me. Possibly they're going after the 50-something nostalgia market.

Now for The Oregon I Balance Bangle: “Wear this stylish bangle and benefit your health. Negative ions may help raise the alkaline levels in your body, neutralising harmful acidic toxins and thereby facilitating blood circulation, enhancing metabolism and soothing fatigued muscles.” Price £45.

Note the weasel-word “may”. Marketing people use this word in the manner demonstrated in the following sentence; “You may become a billionaire by midnight tonight.” See what I mean? What the word “may” means in marketing-speak is, “never in a billion, billion years - not even in the multiverse where all possibly combinations of time and matter exist simultaneously, but we have to use it to prevent us being sued for making unsubstantiated claims”.

Next comes marketing maths, as in the description of the following trinket – the SpyPen – which can record sound “within a 5 metre squared radius”. We experts with an O level (or even an 11 Plus pass) know that radius is a linear measurement, not one of area.

I then decided to partake of the chargrilled pieces of chicken in a creamy coconut Thai red curry sauce served with rice (contains fish and shellfish!).

On my arrival at Athens airport, I discovered that the shouted phrase: “Let me through, I’m British,” no longer cuts any ice at the immigration queue.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Saif al Islam Captured & Hezza Loses the Plot

"The UK will ultimately join the Euro," says Lord "Mad Dog" Heseltine, thus demonstrating his slipping grip on reality.

Off to Greece again for the week. I doubt I'll solve their financial problem, but it will probably mean I'll be off-air for a few days as I battle fog at Heathrow and Greek public transport strikes (the Greeks like to solve the financial crisis in their own inimitable manner).

Heard a good one the other day; what's the difference in output between a Greek public sector worker sat at his desk and the same worker on strike? None!

I spotted Saif al Islam doing the weather on ITV West last night!

I'm a bit worried about the government's plan to make the tax payer underwrite the mortgages of those least able to afford it. Remember the toxic mortgages scandal in the US - the very thing that started off the global recession?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Never Listen to Doctors or Politicians

Bashir al Assad has vowed to die before giving up power.

This follows hard on the heels of the BMA having to retract most of its statements about smoking in cars.

Countries that put doctors (Assad is an eye surgeon) in positions of dictatorial power should be prepared for them going back on their words - however, in the case of Assad, his words may just turn out to be prophetic.

Some bishops have castigated the government for failing the poor in respect of their plans for welfare reform. I consider myself to have a social conscience, in that I do not mind in the least paying higher taxes to make the lives of the poor a tad better; however, the money so reaped almost never finds its way to the poor, as government siphons it off for other worthy causes, such as giving it to Richard Branson or to the EU.

What's happened to Nick Clegg? I thought we had a coalition government, but Clegg seems to have done a runner.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Peace in Our Time - Strictly

UK PM, David Cameron, has returned to the UK from a trip to the German Chancellor announcing: "Peace in our time."

Makes you nostalgic, doesn't it? I hear he was threatening her with a bazooka at one stage.

He said the British ambassador to Berlin had handed a final note to the German Chancellor saying unless she announced plans to withdraw from the Euro by 11:00, a state of war would exist between the two countries.

I'm fully expecting Mr Cameron to say: "I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and consequently this country is at war with Germany."

Friday, 18 November 2011

Stop Press - Far-rage?

A late addition to the earlier post below. Apparently this is going viral.

Pass the Joint

The boss of MI5 is set to make a speech calling for the legalisation of cannabis.

Chip Somers of the drug treatment group Focus 12 says decriminalising cannabis is the wrong way forward. "I don't want the person driving the train I'm on to have just had a joint thank you very much," he said. "I am reassured by the fact that it is illegal."

Well anyone called Chip must surely have issues, but to point out the obvious to Chip, I don't want the person driving the train I'm on to have just had 6 gin and tonics thank you very much, but I am reassured by the fact that it is illegal to drive a train under the influence of alcohol, and alcohol is legal.

What a silly man Chip is!

In an equally asinine statement, George Osborne has said that selling Northern Rock for £747m in return for an investment of £1.4bn is value for money. Where did he do maths GCSE? I know the syllabus has been dumbed down, but that's plain stupid. What's he smoking?

Regardless of the maths, surely selling a bank at a rock bottom price in the middle of a recession isn't really sensible. Would he not be better hanging on to it till prices rise a bit? I seem to remember the Conservatives berating Gordon Brown for selling off our gold reserves when the market was at rock bottom (known as Brown's Bottom).

The words pot, kettle and black come to mind, as well as mindblowingly and hypocritical. He'd better keep the £747m in reserve when he has to bail it out again in a few months.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Star Frooms for Blatter

Overheard in the Caravan:

No.1 Son: "Dad, do they have star frooms in the NHS?"

Chairman: "What?"

No.1 Son: "Do they have star frooms?"

Chairman: "What's a star froom?"

No.1 Son: "Where the starf have tea of course."

Chairman: "Oh, you mean staffrooms!"

No.1 Son: "That's what I said!"

Chairman: "You're too posh for your own good."

No.1 Son: "You're so northern!"

Blatter dismisses racism worries:

Fifa president Sepp Blatter says he does not believe football has a problem with racism, and any rows between players can be resolved with a handshake or a pogrom.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bringing the Outside Inside

A bloke in the southwest found a dead bird - probably a starling - in a bag of Tesco salad. Rather than simply taking it to Tesco for a refund, he puts it on display to the press and makes a big hoo-ha about it.

Bagged salads are processed almost with no human intervention, so it's bound to happen that things that live in the open - and die there - occasionally get into them. It's not as it he would have actually forked it up and stuffed it in his gob - it was a whole bird, for heaven's sake.

He even admits himself that he didn't notice it as he poured it into a bowl - it was only as it was placed on the table that his girlfriend noticed it as she was "seconds away from eating it". However, methinks he embroiders the story too much; perhaps he smells a massive payout from Tesco.

I'm just surprised it doesn't happen more often - I'm looking forward to finding a dead otter in my broccoli one of these days.

Get over it! Who on earth buys bagged salad anyway? Much easier and cheaper to buy a whole lettuce - less chance of finding wildlife in it too. As for dining on Tesco pizza and salad - he's asking for trouble and obviously doesn't care what crap he shovels into his mouth.

The BMA has recommended an outright ban on smoking in cars - even if there were no passengers, as the best way of protecting children as well as non-smoking adults.

The head of science at the BMA admitted introducing a total ban would be a "bold and courageous" move. More like a lunatic move. How on earth will it be policed anyway given you're lucky to see a police car these days unless you're caught up in a 25 car motorway pile up. And why a total ban, even if there are no others in the car?

When I smoked, I would always open the driver window a crack so as the smoke was naturally extracted - as I think all smokers do, as even they don't like sitting in a hermetically sealed tin full of smoke. Passengers always maintained they couldn't even smell the smoke under those conditions. And what about electronic cigarettes with no particulates or carcinogens - how are the police to distinguish between those and real cigarettes?

The lunatics are running the asylum!

Next it will be no drinking in bars.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sea Views of the Gulag for a Menopausal Jordan

Hideous Man Flu yesterday - nearly died! What makes it ironic is that I forgot to go to the doctor's surgery on Saturday to have a flu jab.

Menopause. Why call it that when there's no chance of it resuming again? Should be called the menocease, surely?

Sir Jimmy Savile has been buried at a 45 degree angle 'so he can see the sea'. Now as far as I know, he has actually been buried in the ground, so (letting alone the fact he's dead) his view of the sea is actually obscured by half a ton of soil (plus the concrete they poured into the site to prevent vandalism).

I wonder if estate agents will start using this premise? "Wonderful views of the sea," despite the house in question being in the middle of a concrete jungle.

The BBC is resurrecting Jim'll Fix It for a Christmas Special as a tribute to Sir Jim; however, rather than showing a Best Of Jim'll Fix It (as befits a tribute), they're showing a new one hosted by a soap actor. Surely they should call it Shane'll Fix It, as it will have nothing whatsoever to do with Jimmy Savile except the name?

I'm currently reading Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago - an expose of the Soviet labour camps - and a harrowing read it is too. Here is a particularly vivid passage showing the terror people were placed under.

A district Party conference was under way in Moscow Province. It was presided over by a new secretary of the District Party Committee, replacing one recently arrested. At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). The small hall echoed with "stormy applause, rising to an ovation."

For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the "stormy applause, rising to an ovation," continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly even to those who really adored Stalin. However, who would dare be the first to stop?

The secretary of the District Party Committee could have done it. He was standing on the platform, and it was he who had just called for the ovation. But he was a newcomer. He had taken the place of a man who'd been arrested. He was afraid! After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who quit first! And in that obscure, small hall, unknown to the Leader, the applause went on—six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn't stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit, clap less frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly—but up there with the presidium where everyone could see them?

The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter. . . .

Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel.

That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them. That same night the factory director was arrested. They easily pasted ten years on him on the pretext of something quite different. But after he had signed Form 206, the final document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him:
"Don't ever be the first to stop applauding!"

I hear Jordan has called on Syria's Assad to step down. What sway a chav has on a dictator is beyond me, but I suppose it takes all sorts to make a Bunga-Bunga party.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Man Flu Alert

Temporary suspension of Blog due to severe illness.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Miss World

Some poignant words about the recent Miss World contest from a feminist who used to picket the event in the 70s and 80s.

"At least it isn't the licensed child abuse (or that's what it looks like to me, at any rate) that we watch on Britain's Got Talent, where there is no age limit at all - you could enter your toddler if you wanted to - and where to see a prematurely-sexualised 11-year-old reduced to tears, or a vulnerable middle-aged lady driven to despair, seems to have become part of the pleasure of the show. A hundred, apparently robust, grown-ups in bikinis don't seem quite as offensive as that."

The annual Miss World Contest was driven from the TV schedule by political correctness; however, it was replaced by something infinitely worse.

The full article can be found here.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Scapegoat, or Dirty Old Goat?

Mike Tindall - scapegoat or dirty old goat? I suspect the former.

Prince Charles engages in dirty phone calls with another woman while married to Princess Diana, yet he retains his position on the Royal team.

Prince Harry dresses in a Nazi uniform and it's laughed off as high jinx.

All Tindall did was to throw a dwarf and kiss his ex girlfriend. Oh, hang on, he was on the losing side at a time the RFU is in complete disarray.

As I said, scapegoat.

Friday, 11 November 2011

It's the Economy, Stupid!

European countries seem to be putting economists in charge to clear up the financial mess.

Isn't that a bit like putting astrologists in charge of university astronomy departments?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Blood Money for a Jimmy Degree

Gave my usual blood donation yesterday. It always amuses me how they treat the slightest pinprick bleed as if it were nuclear waste, yet the juices they extract from my body are pumped into some poor bugger within a few days or weeks.

I was listening to one of the student protesters yesterday saying that it was unfair that their parents went to university for free, but they have to pay. What these youngsters don't realise is that in the days their parents (or grandparents) went to university, perhaps only 5-10% went in the first place and it was therefore affordable for government.

The Labour government's social engineering experiment of dumbing down the GCSE and A level (and consequently university entry qualifications), the proliferation of Mickey Mouse degrees from polytechnics and the professionalisation of every job under the sun means that sending 50% of school kids to university is not affordable without a large increase in taxation - which no-one (not even a university student) will vote for.

These days you need a degree to become a nurse, but hospital care is becoming a topic of national ridicule. TV is littered with media studies graduates, but TV programmes are more dire than they've ever been. These days a degree does not result in and improvement in one's performance, but an inflated sense of self-importance.

Jimmy Savile - now if only other celebs would use him as a role model! It says a lot about the bloke that thousands turn up to pay their respect. How's about that then?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Hello! Boot Blacked Liar Aliens!

I hear Sarko has been caught calling Netanyahu a liar. He might just as well have called him a politician, a Prime Minister or a Home Secretary.

At least he's not a banker...

Talking of politics, the White House has denied that the US has ever had contact with extraterrestrials. Who are they kidding? What about Sarah Palin? Just as well we had no aliens coming here; Theresa May would have let them in!

The News of the World newspaper has been accused of following Prince William and other celebrities. I guess that's a bit like OK and Hello magazines do. Is that mean't to be news?

Berlusconi seems about to depart the political scene in Italy, but I want to know whether he dyes his head - not his hair (which he obviously does), but his bonce itself.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Bean Counters on Fire in Euroland

Now Italy is about to go bust. What I want to know is who are the Euro Zone's accountants? The buggers should be fired!

Talking of fire, they have announced the route the Olympic fire is going to take. One assumes fire is a novelty in certain locations. We've had it for tens of thousands of years here, so it's not of any deep interest. We actually use it to keep warm and cook our food.

On the issue of immigration officers: faced with 300 odd people from a flight and the option of letting in a few undesirables or being ripped to shreds by an angry crowd that's asked to wait for 4 hours, I know what I'd do. Passenger numbers are increasing inexorably and staff numbers are cut year-on-year - inevitable really. The only problem is that we'll never know how many bankers and MEPs made it into the country under the wire.

Monday, 7 November 2011

What's in a Surname

Anyone know Socrates' surname? Or for that matter, Aristotle's?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Reclaim Half of Finsbury Square While Fracking

Had a business meeting in London yesterday and spotted this lot in Finsbury Square - very near to where I worked some 10 years ago :

Strangely enough, they only occupied half the square.

I saw one protester with the words 'Democracy Now' on a T shirt. Well, that's what they're currently doing in Greece - and a lot of people don't like it.

If you look at blokey on the left peeping out of his tent, I could swear he was peeing into his boots.

It is suggested that the process of fracking contributed to some minor seismic activity in on the NW cost of England. Fracking sounds more like something we used to do at public school to plebs.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A Way With Words

Been reading (or rather re-reading) John Winton's "We Joined The Navy", one of a series of humorous books about sea life in the RN. I commend them to you.

I was somewhat amused by an expression he used (and I paraphrase as I can't find the relevant passage again): "Misfortune hung over George Dewberry, much as a halo over a saint."

Wonderful turn of phrase.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Tented Astrology

I wonder why one can't get a degree in astrological prediction from a respected university. I guess the answer lies in the stars.

I see a bunch of holidaymakers have decided to camp in a park in the middle of Bath. A similar bunch have been camped out in a park in Bristol. You'd think that now the half term is over they'd all take down their tents and go home. I suppose it's what one would call a Centre Parcs holiday.

In London a bunch of illegally camped travellers have forced the Dean of St Paul's to resign over the lack of bikes and 'activities'.