Friday, 28 December 2012

Overheard in the Caravan

The Chairman is reclining on the sofa with eyes closed, listening to Radio 4, and suddenly gets up.

Hay: "Oh, woken up have you?"

Chairman: "I wasn't asleep - I was listening to the program on Mithras."

Hay: "With your eyes closed, mouth open and snoring?"

Chairman: "I wasn't snoring - I was purring."

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Daily Mail Reader Charity

As my regulars will know, Hay does a paper round in the village and I sometimes help out (kids can't do it, as a car is necessary to reach the 35 to 40 scattered houses, ancestral piles and outlying farms).

Now Xmas is always a good time for making a few bob on the side through Xmas tips.

  • Guardian readers are always the first to leave a Christmas tip - invariably a tenner and a card.
  • Telegraph and Times readers are the next - between £5 and £10 and a card.
  • Express and Sun follow close on with a fiver or a few quid in an envelope, perhaps with a card.
  • Daily Mail readers, of which we have a continuous 6 on one road, never leave a tip or even so much as a card to say thanks.
I can just imagine what they would say at the merest suggestion they were stingy - "They get paid, don't they, so why should I tip them? I don't get tips in my job!"

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Do Check Your Amazon Purchases

This is a public service announcement.

When purchasing a gift item from someone's Amazon wish list, check they've chosen the correct format before making the purchase. Additionally, check the item when it arrives in the post and don't just wrap it without looking at it.

I bought Hay a copy of The Ice House for Xmas - when she unwrapped it yesterday she was horrified to discover it was a VHS cassette.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Overheard in Various Places

In the caravan.....

Hay: "That's the duck and the turkey cooked. I should really put them somewhere cool till tomorrow."

Chairman: "How about your dad's house - pensioners seem to like living in chilly places at this time of year."

At the neighbours' mulled wine and mince pie evening....

Chairman: "That's a nice cheese - what is it?"

Colin (our builder): "Black Bomber. I looked it up on the Internet the other day and misspelled it - Sam(antha) was ever so upset with the images that came up on Google."

Can't help feeling that putting Christmas cooking programs on TV on Christmas Eve, when all the shops are already shut, is scraping the barrel a bit. Better to put Easter cooking programs on, surely!

A Merry Christmas to you all and I just hope you have enough food to last till the shops open again tomorrow!

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Siege

Well, we got to the supermarket early and spent a fortune stocking up for the one day the shops are closed...

Friday, 21 December 2012

Marketing Faux Pas for Teachers

Can't help feeling Tesco have made a mistake with their tag line; "Every Little Helps." Say with with either a lazy or an American accent and it transmogrifies into; "Every Lidl Helps."

Everyone set for the end of the world then?

Saw an advert on TV last night extolling the virtues of jobs in teaching. The ad said; "Imagine a job where you can be the head of your department within 4 years." Yes, that's because the ones in front of you have left with nervous breakdowns. Additionally, the teacher in the advert (who looked alarmingly like Ed Milliband) pointed his AV control at the screen behind him to switch on the projector, which must have been in front of him.

Her indoors still ain't feeling right - sprout terrine in an HP sauce marinade with an anchovie parfait and pretzels for dinner then.... I'll teach her!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Danger! Man Cooking

Hay has been ill in bed with flu for the last few days. Obviously it's not as bad as Man Flu, so why she went to bed is beyond me.

However, apparently I left the cooker on all night. That'll teach her to fall ill and expect me to do all the cooking!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Gun Debate

If Americans want weapons for personal protection, why do they need rifles with a lethal range of between a half and one kilometer?

One solution would be to allow the public only single-shot hand guns for personal protection and reduce their lethal range to within say 10 metres. People would retain their close-range personal protection, gun sales would soar as new guns are manufactured and tragedies caused by automatic and magazine weapons would, as far as possible, be avoided - everyone's happy.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Silly Billy

When I got my new smartphone, I thought it prudent to put a message on the lock screen in case I lost it, so I put: "If Found, Please Phone...." with the number being my own mobile number. It only struck me yesterday that this was a bit pointless, for obvious reasons.

I have since changed it to Hayley's number.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Just Saying

Gun homicides per 100,000 population

In a country where everyone has the right to bear arms, the logical assumption is she's armed, so the mugger doesn't need to guess - if he's sensible.

Doubtless the RNA will lobby for 4 year-olds to have the right to carry weapons so as to protect themselves. It's the perverse logic of the self-righteous.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Fracking Art for Sexual Offences

Some reactionary, dinosaur, Conservative MPs are against gay marriage, but they're quite happy to allow  fracking in public. That's double standards, if you ask me.

I wonder if the judge who handed a 2 year sentence to the guy who vandalised a Rothko (alleged) work of art with a felt pen was engaging in a piece of performance art himself? Just because some mug is willing to pay millions for this crap, doesn't necessarily make it art.

I do believe the police are about to dig up Casanova and Rasputin for historic sexual crimes.

I note Labour is saying it got it wrong on immigrant integration policies and immigrants should at least be able to speak English. Well, does that mean all those Welsh language road signs in Wales will now disappear and there will be an effort to get the Welsh to speak English? The Scots don't have their road signs in Gaelic!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Overheard in the Malpensa Sheraton, Milan

Chairman: "Could I have a glass of ice water - just tap water will do?"

Waitress: "We can't do that, sir, the tap water in the airport isn't good."

Chairman: "That's strange, there's no notice on the tap in my room telling me of the danger."

As it transpired, my colleague ordered a large bottle of designer water, which we got for free as the service was so damnably slow. Got the avaricious bastards!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

BA Grasses

Nightmare journey to Genoa yesterday. An hour into a 2 hour flight flight we had to turn back to Gatwick to replace a faulty de-icing valve.

Went to a place the other evening where they use dried grasses for a table decoration. The only problem was that they put them in a vase of water.....

Monday, 10 December 2012


That was an expensive lunch for 7 - very good though.

Off to Genoa, Milan and Rome for a few days, so a possible hiatus.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Patronus Backlash

Overheard in the Caravan:

Chairman: "I suppose your patronus or daemon would be a cat."

Hay: "Yours would be a pile of crumbs in a mud patch."

Yesterday I was having my weekly dip into that lunatic asylum called the Daly Mail and was amused at an article (on-line) claiming there has been an 'backlash' against the ASDA Christmas advert showing a woman doing all the work leading up to the Christmas Day festivities.

For God's sake - only 33 people complained it was sexist. That's not a backlash - what's going on in Egypt is a backlash, not 33 sad people taking offence at what is essentially reality. I would imagine that the BBC News gets more than 33 complaints on a daily basis. Methinks the DM is trying to manufacture 'news' out of a non-story (oh, what a surprise). 

On another issue, the recently elected PCC for Northamptonshire is busy building an empire of 17 acolytes who will help him in his job overseeing the Northamptonshire Constabulary. The old Police Authority had only 10 members! On the radio yesterday he said he was 'not an expert in policing' and needed assistance. Utter lunacy!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day

Not as good as it used to be - becoming more like a copy of the Mop Fair. Simply too many people and 'outsiders'.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Life With the Osbornes

Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls has accused the Chancellor, George Osborne, of trying to argue that black is white. Mr Osborne replied that this was not the case, but if black indeed turned out to be white, then it was a situation he inherited from the last Labour government.

Can't help thinking that ploughing money into public services ain't going to help the recession as much as everyone thinks - when was the last time you bought something from a public service and handed over dosh (except through your tax)? The point of public services is that they're free to the public at the point of delivery. We buy shiny things from the private sector and it's only the flow of capital into the private sector from the public's pockets that will gets the economy systemically moving again and generate sustainable jobs in the longer term.

The corollary of the above is that reducing the tax of someone who is on a low wage (and therefore pays very little or no tax in the first place) ain't going to put much surplus in their pocket to generate demand and aid that flow (it's more likely to go on the food bill, fuel bill, travel bill or to pay off the overdraft); however, reducing the tax of someone who pays 40% tax will generate a considerable surplus with which to buy more shiny things.

Sadly, the latter option is unpalatable to those on low wages/tax or without a job (and hence to politicians too), despite it benefiting jobs, the economy and public services in the long run.

As an aside, reducing corporate taxation will do little or nothing to stimulate job creation. It can only stimulate increased profits or over-production in the face of continued lack of demand for the shiny things (unless that demand is coming from outside the UK, which is unlikely). Demand can only be driven by customers having an increased surplus, so long as it isn't spent on shiny things from abroad.

Who'd be a Chancellor, eh?

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Cold & Heat

Well, the air-source heat pump is still turning several degrees minus of outside temperature into heat for the house.

The water pipes to the caravan have frozen solid - thank God the electricity hasn't frozen in the wires!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Man Flu & Morning Sickness

Overheard in the Caravan:

Hay: "Badger, what do you like most about me?"

Chairman: "Your cooking and your cleaning."

Yay - reading Prof. Steve Jones' The Decent of Men has alerted me to the fact that there is a scientific basis for Man Flu; testosterone is apparently an immunosuppressant! I knew I wasn't talking out of my arse!

Now that the Duchess of Cambs has morning sickness, will we now finally see an all-party enquiry into the condition, headed by a senior Law Lord?

I guess we're going to see wall-to-wall news, current affairs and health coverage of "women's problems" on TV and national radio now.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Overheard in the Caravan

No.1 Son: "Dad, were any members of our family ever in the Nazi Party?"

Chairman: "Not to my knowledge, although I do remember my Dad occasionally calling my mum The Gauleiter, saluting her with an outstretched arm and muttering 'Sieg Heil' under his breath"

I see the Cambridges are about to welcome another benefit claimant into the Royal Family.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Vodafone Westland in Retirement

Overheard in the Caravan:

Hay is cutting up some vegetables for a meal.

Chairman: "Are you doing a boeuf bourguignon?"

Hay: "What, which this ham joint???"

Chairman: "Are you doing a ham bourguignon?"


Chairman: "Come and watch this news video about a dog adopting some tiger cubs."

Hay: "That's going to end in tears - the next headline will be 'Tiger cubs eat family'."

I hear soldiers are being asked to work from home over Christmas. Hope they don't start taking tanks home to patrol their drives...

My God, but the Vodafone website hacks me off. Firstly it's so damnably slow. Yesterday I couldn't even log off due to them:"Making some changes to the site," which seems to be something they're going every 5th nanosecond and an excuse for everything.

Once logged in, you get a picture of some paunchy, receding bloke in his late 50s kitted out in Vodafone regalia asking if he can help you - a bit like the assistants you find shuffling around B&Q. I ask you - when's the last time someone over 50 helped you with your mobile (in fact, when's the last time you saw a bloke over 15 behind the counter in a Vodafone shop)? It's like being offered help with your grammar by George W Bush.

Talking of the assistants behind the counter in Vodafone shops, I generally tend to shy away from the girls, as the natural assumption is that they're as ignorant of the controls of a modern phone as they are of the motorcar, but I was totally surprised last week when I had occasion to visit.

My new Samsung Galaxy Note 2 had taken it upon itself to start talking to me, which was rather embarrassing, to say the least when stood in a queue in the post office and it started blurting out my inbound Freecycle emails to all and sundry. On top of that, it was impossible to switch off the bloody TalkBack, as it is called (makes it sound like a wife), as the facility interfered with the scrolling. Surprisingly, the girl-child in the shop managed to crack the knack and in not time the phone was back to normal.

I suppose it's got more to do with the fact that it's usually girls who you see walking down the street engrossed in their phones to the exclusion of everything else in the universe - a bit like when they're driving.

Talking of the over 50s, one hears most of us have made little or no provision for pensions when we retire. What's retirement? Didn't think retirement was something my generation could even contemplate!

I was watching James Dyson fly overhead in his 15 seater Augusta Westland yesterday morning (he lives a couple of miles up the road and regularly makes a damed nuisance of himself by flying the bloody thing over us like a demented bee - occasionally at treetop height) and wondered whether his helicopter uses Cyclone technology.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Dishcloth Packaging of Liberty

I hear Grayson Perry has gifted some of his "tapestries" to the nation. I'm sure the nation will be gratified to have something to wipe the dishes with.

Australia has implemented not-so-plain packaging for cigarettes, depicting all the nasty diseases one can get from smoking. I wonder if plain-packaged cars will be next, depicting hideously tangled road wreckage on the paint job, or booze bottles showing cirrhotic livers on the labels?

Shami Chakrabarti of civil rights group Liberty has said that the Leveson press reform proposal would be illegal and contravene the Human Rights Act. Given the foregoing, she could not support it. Now that presupposes that the Human Rights Act is itself perfect in every respect. I don't suppose it has crossed her mind that the Human Rights Act is an imperfect piece of legislation and itself requires reform.

The crux of her argument is that the press would be subject to a higher degree of regulation than anyone else.  Personally I feel that those with greater power should be regulated to a higher degree than those with less power. The whole purpose of the Leveson proposal is to curb the abuse of excessive power by those with deep pockets. It's not a level playing field - and that's what human rights should be about.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Spin on Watchdogging Marriage

Some are saying we can't have government in charge of the press - I ask whether we can have government in charge of the country - that's surely more important? In any case, I think this press or government control polarisation is a red herring - it doesn't have to be a government organ that's the press watchdog.

Is an independent press watchdog something to do with newsprint and casual sex in car parks?

Talking of sex, I'm currently reading an excellent book on the Y chromosome by Steve Jones called Y: The Descent of Men (well recommended). I was amused by a quote from J.B.Priestly about marriage being a long, dull meal with desert at the start.

Apparently the UK has come 6th in a league table of global education standards. I smell a rat - and the fact that the report was published by Pearson (those who own EDEXCEL) makes it look like a rather large one of elephantine proportions. Among the criteria for positioning is the number of students in higher education. When you cram universities with students who are obviously ill-equipped academically to study for a degree and create vast numbers of worthless degree courses, the result can only ever be a self-fulfilling prophesy. Simple bums on seats improves the rankings. A clear case of spinning like a top.

Getting worried about Hay's dad - he couldn't find the TV zapper the other day and found it later in the fridge. He's just taken delivery of some hearing aids - he swears that if he wears them on the wrong ears, then he hears sounds upside down.