Sunday, 30 June 2013

Who Wears Short Shorts

Bought some new shorts the other day. Working predominantly from home, except for the one or two days I have to show my face at the office in Southampton and act the part of MD, I generally wear shorts all summer. The shorts I bought are proper shorts, not the ones currently in vogue that extend well below the knee and come endowed with a preponderance of zippers and voluminous, yet totally ineffective pockets. No; proper shorts of the type I used to wear in my teens, 20s, and indeed 30s - the ones where you actually get some sun on your legs.

No.1 son caused me concern yesterday when I accompanied him to town for breakfast by enquiring why I was wearing boxer shorts in public. Glancing in a shop window reflection of myself, I had to admit that it did indeed look as if I was parading around in my underwear.

Even sports people these days wear shorts of a length that wouldn't have looked out of place in the 1940s and 50s. George Best would turn in his grave.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Castle Doom

We went out to dinner last night in Yatton Keynell and called in at The Castle Inn in Castle Combe on the way back, just to remind us of the menu.

Strange place - Castle Combe that is, not the Castle Inn. I am convinced the entire place is a weekend retreat for people from London and there are no indigenous inhabitants at all. We walked past the gorgeous little cottages on the main street in the glimmering dusk and not a single light was on in any of the houses - in fact most had drawn curtains, as if totally empty and deserted.

Spotted a couple in a car who pulled up at one cottage and hurriedly unloaded some bags. They had obviously just arrived from London.

With the exception of the two pubs, the place is deserted and during the day you see only tourists. It has been pickled in aspic as a quaint museum piece where the most radical thing you can do is paint your front door in a colour that's not Farrow & Ball.

Took this snap of a print of Castle Combe from donkey's years ago - there are more people in the print than you'll see in an entire week in the village itself.

It's totally dead and sterile, occasionally inhabited by London people and their strange ways.

While in the Castle Inn I had a read of one of those expensive foodie magazines that try to make out that the local artisan businesses are all truly local, when you know full well that they're run by posh immigrants  from London who don't bat an eyelid at paying exorbitant prices for organic Quark and buy stuff from the Highgrove shop in Tetbury (Tetters tat).

Anyway, I spotted an advert for a competition where you could win £200 worth of cycling accessories. £200 of cycling accessories! I wouldn't spend £200 on a bike, let alone accessories! How the hell can a plastic cape and bicycle clips cost £200? Oh, I forgot - the readers are all from London and spend more on a bike than I'd spend on a 2nd hand car.

Friday, 28 June 2013


I wonder whether I could get a grant from GCHQ for turning our local Neighbourhood Watch into a Stasi cell to spy on my neighbours? Think of how many terrorist plots I could uncover to justify the grant!

I'm convinced that Chipping Sodbury is a veritable hotbed of subversive Al Qaeda activity. Of course I'd need to recruit informers - the local WI, perhaps?

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Legal Highs Overheard on the Phone

Living in the sales environment, the Chairman lives with the bane of chasing up an overdue debt and having to handle people who don't want to speak to him.

Ring, ring, ring, ring....

Secretary (on speakerphone): "Bonjour, with whom do you wish to speak?"

Chairman: "Could you put me through to Stephane please, I need to speak to him about an overdue debt?"

Phone goes to muzak for a minute.

Secretary: "I'm afraid he's in a meeting at the moment, can I ask who is calling?"

Hay (shouting): "Tell him it's his mother!"

Trying to get No.1 son addicted to a legal high - the high you get from passing exams. I was never so high as when I learned I'd passed my Master Mariner's Certificate of Competency - 12 years of hard slog.

Returning to traditional highs, it seems the grass at Wimbers isn't of the quality it used to be. Not as good as that available at Glasto, by all accounts.

They're cutting the policing budget round here. I have my own, personal plan to reduce it further - vigilantes, the stocks, and for particularly bad cases of recidivism, local lynching mobs. The country is going to the dogs - bugger, there I go again!

I wonder how long it will be before some enterprising bright spark starts selling software that prevents our own governments (the ones always going on about how they're there to serve us)  spying on us. The trite and unprovable excuse that they've foiled hundreds of terrorist attempts seems to excuse every conceivable action.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Overheard in an Alumni Chat Group

 A couple were lying in bed together on the morning of their tenth wedding anniversary when the wife says, 'Darling, as this is such a special occasion, I think that it is time I made a confession: Before we were married I was a hooker for eight years.' 

 The husband ponders for a moment and then looks into his wife's eyes and says, 'My love, you have been a perfect wife for ten years! I cannot hold your past against you, maybe you could show me a few tricks of the trade and spice up our sex life a bit?' 

 She said, 'I don't think you understand, my name was Brian and I played rugby for Wales .. . ..'

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A Monument to Democracy

I get the impression that in democratic countries it's becoming totally illegal to have issues with any activity your government damned well wants to engage in - even if that activity is morally reprehensible or downright  illegal.

Damned government is digging up and grassing over the bit of the A303 that passes Stonehenge. Something to do with reconnecting Stonehenge with its environment. Absolute rubbish - the A303 has been there much longer than the Stonehenge - how the hell do they think the stones got there in the first place? If anything, Stonehenge should be demolished as some neo-paleolithic planner's blot on the landscape. I'm sure Prof. Mick Aston would have agreed.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Colin's Hilux

Hay has been helping our builder, Colin, to sell his old Toyota Hilux - the one favoured by the average discerning Taliban. Colin isn't familiar with the ways of t'internet, so she facilitated the sale with her eBay account.

The winning bidders (£2,050) arrived yesterday morning from London to take possession, but from the look of them I somehow think that the next time we see Colin's Hilux it will be on a news item about the Syrian rebels. The new owner did say it was going abroad.

I wouldn't like to be in his shoes once they find out it over-revs when sat at the lights. We'll have to start calling him Khalim instead of Colin.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Invisible Genetically Modified Pupils

The nights are drawing in - apparently.

There was a news item on the BBC website yesterday that alleged schools are letting down "invisible pupils". How the hell can schools support pupils they can't bloody well see? Idiots!

As for these GM nutters - on the one hand they say GM crops cross-breed with standard crops, then when the GM crops are made sterile, preventing cross-fertilisation, they accuse the large GM firms of holding farmers to ransom through having to buy new seed from them. I wish the buggers would make up their minds. It's not as if GM doesn't take place naturally - that's what evolution is; GM on a slower scale.

Was a bit startled to see a BBC website headline saying; "Big Breasts". On second reading I noticed it said "Big Beasts". Must be all this talk about internet porn - that and me being Dutch, and hence a drug-crazed pornographer.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Hitler's Plantation Blinds

A report from a news website run by North Korean defectors says that senior officials were given Hitler’s Mein Kampf by North Korean leader, Baby Kim, on his birthday in January. North Korea has denounced the defectors as "human scum" and threatened to kill them. Just like Hitler then…

Managed to get one side of the house fitted with plantation blinds yesterday. There was a problem with the other side and the fitter has to return. The fitter had already been about a month ago and couldn't accomplish the fitting as he was on his todd and needed another body to hold the latter (H&S). By the time this is finished, we'll have waited about 4 months in total. They do look nice though.

On another tack, the guy who fabricated the cooker hood has made us a rather sturdy mobile island for the kitchen out of stainless. At £150 it's an absolute bargain. IKEA do a very flimsy version for £125.

Am so impressed with Stuart's work that I've commissioned him to fabricate a stainless steel centre-leaf for our dining table (we're temporarily using a sanded pallet).

Ungainly, but effective. Hay actually likes the pallet!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Reservoir Togs?

Almost Reservoir Dogs, but they're not wearing ties.

"Le Creuset? I'll give you bloody Le Creuset...!"

Protect A Gorilla wanted me to adopt a gorilla last night - or so their TV advert implored me. It's bad enough having a moody teenager and a menopausal woman around the place, never mind a bloody gorilla! Although, on second thoughts....

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Who Are All These Kids?

You know you're getting old when you open the Sunday newspapers and you haven't got a bloody clue any more as to who the people who write opinion pieces are.

Social commentators, political commentators - they're all 20-somethings (or that's the way it looks to me). Additionally the culture commentators appear as barren of intellect or culture as the Pre-Cambian.

The BBC is just the same - pandering to the masses in a mad dash for viewer numbers. Country is going to the dogs!

You know you're growing old when you come out with phrases like; "The country's going to the dogs," and there's not a trace of irony in the utterance.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Roman Noses of Foreign Policy

Looking at statues and busts of Romans, I'm convinced Romans all had the ends of their noses lopped off at birth.

You know all this furore in the US about this CIA whistleblower? Was listening to some US government personage castigating him for having put American lives at risk. This "putting American lives at risk" seems to be becoming an excuse for any nefarious activity. American lives are put at risk by American governments' foreign policy - nothing more and nothing less. Don't interfere in other countries and their people won't bother you.

I used to support foreign intervention (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc.), but the lesson of the last couple of decades is that one is best keeping oneself to oneself. Interventionism simply makes life more difficult in the end and facilitates right-wing government at home who want to "protect us" by spying on us all.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


Hayley's father does build a good Cotswold stone wall! He's had enough practice though - he rebuilt his own house next door using the same technique.

It's all made from stones found lying around the grounds - old walls that had collapsed, piles that people had forgotten about, those found while digging the foundations, etc. It should be finished within a week or so, including the wiring up of the lighting (his speciality). Just the outer skin to finish and then topping out with some slabs.

Next we need a fire pit and a BBQ. Perhaps we should get him to build a ruin in the grounds.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Just Sayin'

I wonder if all the money spent of colliders that smash particles into other particles is worth the effort. I mean, if the object is to spend squillions to accelerate a particle to near light speed, why not just use a torch, which emits particles already travelling at light speed?

I'm a tad wary of governments that spy on their own citizens in order to "protect" them, and even more suspicious when the necessary legislation is kicked off in a knee-jerk manner by a one-off event, as if they were just waiting for an excuse.

The benefit of democracy is that it aids order, as the majority effectively vote for the laws through elections. The tragedy of democracy is that the majority is the least intelligent section of society.

Some are calling for MPs to have no outside interests. That risks developing a political class of professional MPs who have never had (or never will have) a real job and are divorced from reality. There are enough of that sort filling the Commons as it is.

I think it's time to engage in some wild speculation about the cause of the Duke of Edinburgh's poorly tummy; the news media seems to be obsessed with nothing but wild speculation, as if it were news. I suppose though that it is indeed the silly season in the news world.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Overheard in the Raumergarden Hotel

Staying at the Raumergarden Hotel outside Oslo with my Senior VP from Israel. Nice place too, but damnably expensive (in fact, everywhere in Norway is hideously expensive).

SVP, talking to lady chef: "Could you do me some soup? I'm not having the asparagus, so perhaps you could make some soup for me - I must have soup with a meal."

Chef (voice laden with irony): "I can take some of the asparagus, boil it to death and then mash it to make you some soup...."

Beautiful place and one of the best meals I've ever had. Husband and wife team (she runs the kitchen and he runs front-of-house). Set menu of 3 courses (no choice) for about 20 covers, who are mainly here for corporate conferences. The set menu ensures no waste and a decent profit.

Mussel fritters and salmon in a foam.

The most tender, grass-fed Aberdeen Angus, green beans, butternut puree, chanterelles and a potato terrine.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Falling News Standards & Power

Watching the BBC news is becoming more like reading a tabloid newspaper.

20 years ago the Lee Rigby story and the April Jones story would have comprised perhaps a minute, with just the facts being reported: these days we see cameras thrust into the faces of the unfortunate families who have lost loved ones and they are paraded in front of journalists. 

These people are grieving - can't the news organisations just leave them alone? The fact they are suffering anguish is blindingly obvious, but not a newsworthy story. News organisations used to report facts, now they are complicit in stoking up emotion - that's tabloid land.

Talking of Lee Rigby - can anyone tell me why his killers are being prosecuted under terrorism legislation when we have perfectly adequate laws against murder?

Our solar PV has finally gone positive with respect to the electricity we've been using up and we're now making hay while the sun shines.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Turns of Phrase

I'm currently reading John Stuart Mill's critique of Auguste Comte's "A View of Positvism" and came across a wonderful turn of phrase; "The incompetent tribunal of common opinion."