Thursday, 30 April 2015

Juiced Puppets

This juicer thing of Hay's is getting out of hand. The fact the £30 Amazon jobbie doesn't squeeze enough juice and leaves a sloppy pulp is obviously a source of overburdening dissatisfaction, not to say utter waste. She is scouring the internet for one that peels, juices, presses and self-composts, spitting out nothing more noxious than solid pellets of fibre than can conveniently be used in a wood burner. Solar panels would be a bonus.

She's looking at one for over £100. When quizzed about this she told me it uses the pulp. I said; "So it's a smoothie maker?" She denied this, saying smoothie makers only use fruit and can't do vegetables. Amazon proved her wrong - £17.99 for a fruit and veggie smoothie maker, rather than a specialist zuzzer at over £100. She replied that they can't do tough root vegetables, I said smoothie makers do ice, which is a tad tougher than a carrot. So it's a fad, and where there's a fad there's a bunch of rip-off artists waiting to make a fortune.

I see that bloke who worked Orville, the obnoxious green duck, died the other day. At least he was a ventriloquist. Rod Hull made an entire career from a mute emu puppet and wasn't even a ventriloquist. How weird is that!

Talking of puppets - what about Miliband Minor cozying up to Russell Brand? You may consider Brand to be a publicity hungry, self-centred prat, but there's no denying that with millions of brain dead Twitter followers hanging off his every guru-like utterance, he certainly has influence. Just goes to show how dangerous a large swathe of the population is when they find a guru, no matter how mad - I'm sure he could tell them to vote UKIP and they would. Shades of Life of Brian.

All these grandiose promises coming out of the political woodwork in the last few days, like Cameron's law about tax increases, are so much chaff in the wind. The legislative agenda is so tightly packed with amending hasty, badly drafted laws that there's precious little time for any additional legislation - to squeeze anything new in is nigh impossible. Even if something new were possible, I can guarantee it will be so full of holes that it wouldn't end up on the statute books in any meaningful way till the end of the next parliament, if then.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Election Juicer

What with that story about some of us having backs like chimps (hence the back pain when trying to walk upright), are we going to see chimps clogging the doctors' surgeries. I'm sure UKIP will have something to say about that!

A humorous look at the election doing the rounds on Facebook (but no Labour):

The general consensus is Delemza being Labour; full of good intentions but always screwing it up.

However, it could be Miliband = Ross; Sturgeon = Demelza.

Hayley has gone all eating disorder on me, wanting to go on a two day juice diet to combat a bit of bloatiness and "detox" herself, despite her knowing full well that there is no such thing as a detox and the body does it naturally all the time - that's what it's designed for. A juice detox is a load of middle-class tosh, if you ask me.

Anyway, I got out all the utensils for the Kenwood - there are hundreds of them - and lo and behold, there was a juicer attachment. At the weekend she doubled our normal weekly fruit and veg budget in preparation, hauling a massive amount of produce from Ian, the greengrocer on the High Street (much cheaper than even Lidl).

On Monday she tried the Kenwood, but the stuff went everywhere - up the walls, over her, on the floor. That persuaded her to buy a dedicated juicer on Amazon. It arrived yesterday when she was out, and being a typical bloke confronted with a machine I had to try it out. To cut a long story short, I juiced 2 carrots. The juice was delicious, but the residue pulp looked rather tempting too, so I scooped that out of the machine and ate it. The pulp was still rather juicy and had I strained it through a bit of muslin it would have yielded at least another quarter cup of juice.

Then came the dismantling and washing up - took almost half an hour! I'd have been better just eating two carrots. Total waste of money, time and effort! Just eat some normal fruit and veg.

When Hay came home so made a concoction comprised of 2 apples, 2 cucumbers, parsley, mint and spinach. Tasted vaguely minty, but overwhelmingly foul. She had it for dinner, whereas No.1 Son and I had the traditional morning after detox afforded by a tasty Indonesian curry.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Chimps in Trees

Heard a woman on the radio yesterday morning saying there's less crime where there are trees as an argument for planting more trees. I wanted to shout out to the woman that correlation doesn't equate with causation. A tree or two planted in the neighbourhood will not deter criminals, but building houses in leafy suburbs will increase the prices of said houses, putting them out of the price range of most criminals.

What with my back, I suspect there's more than a bit of chimp in me. Hay agrees.

More Chipping Sodbury:

 Off the beaten track down Brook St.

Back on the High Street 

Not strictly Chipping Sodbury, but a close neighbour in Old Sodbury. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Overheard Reading the Sunday Paper.

Hay: "Sunday Times Rich List - who gives a toss, except possibly those in it? I'm fed up with all these Sunday papers. If I could take the best bits of the Sunday Times and best bit's of the Gurniard, perhaps I'd have a half decent paper to read."

Chairman: "It's spelled Grauniad."

I really despair of some of the people who have a right to vote. There was an article in the Grauniad about the rich doubling their wealth in the last 10 years - it made it to Facebook. Almost all the comments decried this and maintained it was grossly unfair to the poor and that wealth should be taxed more, despite this doubling in wealth occurring almost exclusively from the growth in share prices, which is notional wealth (not hard cash) aligned to growth of the economy and thus jobs. Tax shares on their growth in value - and before they're sold - and soon we'd all have no companies to work for in the first place. The financial ignorance of the man on the Clapham omnibus knows no bounds and is truly astonishing.

Some more images of Chipping Sodbury High Street:

 Jack Russell's gallery (the cricketer and painter).
 Hobb's House Bakery (the Fabulous Baker Brothers' emporium of bread).
The Old Grammar School (Hay's dad went there).
The police station (Hay's dad probably went there too). 
 Some houses.
 ANother house.
 The Pottery.
 The Moda Hotel.
 Just a nice building.
 The Horseshoe pub.
 The hotel at the top of the street.
 Some 16th C cottages.
 The Grapes on the left, and a 16th C Indian restaurant.
 The workhouse.
 The house I lust after - but on a hideously busy road.
Same house, different aspect.

Chipping Sodbury is a working village and not a chocolate box one like Bourton-on-the-Water, although it could easily become so with the right tweaks, But we don't want that kind of innovation here.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Male Book Club Tour of Chipping Sodbury

Hay and her sister were talking about the latest book that they're reading for the book club. I suggested the members' husbands/partners should start one. Suggested reading would comprise:

  1. Haynes Manuals,
  2. Screwfix catalogue,
  3. Tool instruction manuals,
  4. Comics.
There would be absolutely nothing by that hideous pink woman - can't remember her name - she was always seen with a poodle.

Hay is going on one of these new-fangled juice diets that's meant to be a 2 day detox. More like a 2 day eating disorder. Spent double what we normally spend in fruit and veg yesterday. I think she'll regret it after the first day.

Thought I'd give you a short tour of Chipping Sodbury High St. We probably have more pubs than the average village - The Portcullis, The Beaufort Hunt, The Squire, The George, The Grapes, The Royal Oak and The Horseshoe - all within a space of less than a quarter of a mile (not all of these below are pubs):

RC Church vicarage.
The George - it has oak beams allegedly recovered from the wreck of an Armada vessel.
Town Hall.
Old merchant's house.
A cafe that's changed hands many times.
This building has a history, but it eludes me.
The Beaufort Hunt.

The bank and Bank Chambers.
The Squire.
The Portcullis.
This one is where Edward Jenner lived for a while when an apprentice surgeon. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Immigrant Biscuit Bowel Banks

Had cause to nip down to Screwfix yesterday and came away with one of their catalogues. While leafing through I alighted on a tool called a biscuit jointer. I haven't the vaguest idea what it does, but I'm curiously attracted to buying one.

Bowel cancer screening test came back negative, so that's a relief. I say a relief, but before I got the letter about the test I'd never worried about bowel cancer anyway. It was the test that got me scared!

Right - here's my immigration policy:
  1. If you're in any way religious, you must convert to a religion acceptable to the British. Some wishy-washy form of Protestantism is preferred - the ones where they're not really sure if God even exists and have more than a few doubts about Jesus. Certainly one that's not a threat to society. Buddhism is fine, atheism is preferred.
  2. You can't live in ethnic ghettos where you'll be cooking all manner of filthy, foreign muck and doing strange things which make Brits uncomfortable, like working hard - you have to assimilate ASAP. Resistance is futile.
  3. You have to dress like the average Brit. Depending on age and social class, that can be jogging pants, Hipster or comedy toff like Nigel Farage. The fact Brits never conformed to the dress code of your country when it was forcibly taken over by them is immaterial.
  4. Absolutely no Scots or Welsh if they decide to go independent. Actually, no Scots or Welsh, period.
HSBC is threatening to move its head office out of the UK. Perhaps they should set up in Afghanistan, or Uganda - their economies are virtually immune to further destruction. If we allow banks to use the threats of an exit to dictate government policy on bank regulation and taxation, perhaps we should just kick the buggers out anyway. They were the cause of the global crash, after all (except if you're a Conservative, in which case it was solely down to Labour).

Friday, 24 April 2015

Supermarket Politics

Having already watched Miliband Minor, we watched 3, back-to-back Leader Interviews on iPlayer last night; Farage, Cameron and Clegg. 


  • Talks a good talk - an adept political operator and manipulator.
  • Knows exactly what he has said previously, as he can guarantee that whatever he utters will be scrutinised and taken out of context. Constantly had to correct Davis.
  • Attacked Evan Davis as being part of the liberal metropolitan elite - i.e. the BBC - which he is. Davis' trousers were far too short, by the way.
  • Unfortunately, he is UKIP and personifies them - it's a one man party. Without him the party is dead in the water, as the rest seem to be loose canons or fringe nutters.
  • We were waiting for and counting the number of; "Mess we inherited," statements. There were two, and one; "Inherited an out of control welfare system."
  • Came across as statesmanlike, reasonable and wanting to build on success.
  • Davis didn't really seem to be able to rattle him about anything.
  • Explained why his party reneged on tuition fees, which I have always thought was a reasonable excuse - they were in a coalition as the minor party, not as the major party. They were destined to be forced to dump some of their policies. The fact that with only 9% of the seats they managed to sustain 3/4 of their major policies was a minor miracle.
  • Reasonable and seeking the centre ground.
  • The minute I saw him speaking fluent Dutch in a clip, that did it for me - coming over here and taking all our political jobs....
It seems UK politics has gone from the classic Tesco / Sainsbury battle to now having to include Aldi and Lidl as forces to be reckoned with.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

React-o-nothing Smells

Another moan! Don't know why I never noticed this before, but the new react-o-lite specs, that I paid an arm and a leg for, are totally useless in the car, unless I'm driving with the top down. Seems glass filters out the UV rays which initiate the colour change.

It's funny how we react to smells. Yesterday I was driving into Chipping Sodbury with the roof of the car off and caught the faintest whiff of suntan lotion. Immediately I was mentally transported to the Southport outdoor pool in the late 60s on a hot summer's day with "Young Girl" by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap playing on the transistor radio.

As a friend of mine said yesterday about the Mediterranean migrant problem and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism: "If we'd left all these tin-pot dictators in place, we wouldn't be in this mess; they at least kept some order." He has a very valid point.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


I'm increasingly seeing posts from devices that people use to measure how far they've run or how far they've walked during the day. Please - desist - I'm not even vaguely interested in your perambulatory habits! Why do you feel the need to tell the world how many steps you've taken in walking round the block? It's as interesting as the contents of your larder.

Actually, I just found out I can hide such posts. But still, it beats me why people would actually want to post such trivia, unless perhaps they're not even aware that their device is sending these posts to Facebook as an advert for the device.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Jimmy Krankie Make-Over

Nicola Sturgeon has undergone a massive transformation since taking the reins of the SNP! This was brought home to me when I saw her on the news last night, waving a copy of the SNP manifesto which had a picture of her on the cover. The picture was of a dumpy Jimmy Krankie, which was dramatically at odds with the svelte figure holding the manifesto. The SNP image gurus have worked wonders on her - and she must have put in a lot of effort too.

Watched Miliband Minor being interviewed by Evan Davis last night. Davis is an excellent interviewer and had Miliband on the ropes over just about every issue. It reminded me of the Monty Python Inquisition sketch - "NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms - Oh damn!". In Davis' case, it was every aspect of the policy spectrum where the Tories seem to have made improvements in the last 5 years, and he kept adding to them when Miliband had to concede improvements. Miliband's only argument was that Britain deserved better. Better? Better than an expanding economy, rising employment, improvements in education, etc, etc.?

I hear Farage wants the BBC's licence fee cut by two thirds. I wonder why? Seems his calculation was made on the back of a fag packet by dint of it being a guess, which makes the rest of his budget plans a bit suspect too.

Is the political stalemate a reflection of the fact that there's not that much of an ideological difference between the parties, or is it because the electorate has changed and there is a much larger middle class with fewer at the extremes of poverty and wealth? I'd go for the latter with the parties reflecting that.

Now I consider myself reasonably well informed - I keep up with technology (just) and dabble with the Facebook and am an avid reader of and listener to the news - yet I'm constantly asking Hay who the hell various personages invited on TV programmes as special guests are. Even Hay is blissfully unaware of exactly what these internationally famous celebrities are known for. Last night it was a chap called Josh Groban - not a clue!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Dog Walking Polish Washing Machines

Dog walking. What's that all about? So you buy a dog, but hire someone else to walk it for you because you're either too busy or can't be bothered. Not much point in having the damned thing then and it's just a tick on your list of middle-class lifestyle items.

There used to be a factory called Parnall's just down the road in Yate. They made aircraft in the early 20th century and diversified into white goods, such as washing machines. Saw a photo of one of their washing machines from the 50s (earlier than the one in the photo below), which was as basic as could be. I wondered whether there is a niche in the market for cheap, basic washing machines like the ones of old - no fancy programmers and things, just a damned good wash. All the washing machine manufacturers now are competing on functionality that's not really required when you're on a tight budget, such as a student or someone on benefits.

A Parnell's washing machine from the 60s

Went to get the car filled up at Tesco yesterday and the bloke behind the till was running two tills simultaneously. As one customer was typing in his or her PIN, he dashed to the other till to start an entry. Fast and furious and no queue, despite a busy forecourt. Naturally, he was Asian.

Talking of immigrants, I head from a friend about his experience with his discount shop: 

"UK can be a strange place to do business these days.  We opened a discount food shop three years ago; a convenient outlet for us to sell short-date and out-of-date stock. 

"Sales are significantly down over the last four weeks for no apparent reason. One of my staff mentioned it to the landlady of the pub next door, ironically named the Welcome Stranger. She said…”Oh, we are all boycotting that because it is owned by Poles.” Girl on the till is a Slovak, but that’s as close to Eastern European ownership as it gets. 

"Same people probably go to the Indian or Chinese take away for their Saturday night blow out, and don’t think anything about it."

The boycotters are probably UKIP voters with a fixation on borders and nothing else.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Preserving the Union for Holland & Barrett

Overheard while listening to Sex and the Church, by Diarmud MacColloch:

Professor Diarmud MacCulloch: "In 1525 Martin Luther married Katharina von Bora, an ex nun."

Hay: "How can you be an ex nun?"

Chairman: "It's a bit like being an ex parrot."

Here's a thought - if we all voted SNP (assuming all candidates in all constituencies strategically declared themselves for the SNP) would we preserve the Union by simply transferring parliament to Scotland? Personally I couldn't give a toss where Parliament sits.

The answer is probably no, as Sturgeon wants N.Sea oil for herself and the Scots, and no-one else, and would still engineer a split to gain that. The SNP portrays itself as centre left, but if you think about it, it's actually right wing, as it wants to keep what it earns from N.Sea oil and to hell with the rest of the Union, which has been in existence for over 300 years. That sounds very hard right to me.

Saw an advert from Holland and Barrett last night that is meant for people who are trying to lose weight but is aimed at the gullible. It was packets of rice, pasta and noodles - admittedly small packets - but those are precisely the foods overweight people need to steer clear of. I have a better idea - just sell them empty packets of rice, pasta and noodles, or simply ignore Holland and Barrett completely if you want to lose weight.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Argy Bargy in Middlemarch

I hear Argentina is getting uppity about the Falklands oil activities. That'll be Fray Bentos pies off the menu for a while then, along with the closure of all the Gaucho steak houses.

It seems Walter White didn't die in Breaking Bad - he moved to Iraq and became a fugitive general.

I'm currently reading Middlemarch by George Elliot. I say reading, but I mean trying to read. My reading habits are sporadic - I'll pick up a book, read a few pages and then be distracted by something, returning after a few minutes or hours. It's hard to do that with Middlemarch, unlike the Barchester Chronicles. People keep appearing and disappearing, and I tend to lose track of who they are and where they fit into Middlemarch, which makes the whole book somewhat confusing.

Anyway, I was reading a passage and came across the word 'dear', as in 'expensive', and it struck me that this is a word we no longer hear used. My parents would use it all the time, as would I, but I've not heard it used as an expression for expensiveness in a very long time, Even saying it seems strange now; "That's a dear item."

I find parts of Middlemarch vacuously tedious and tend to skim some paragraphs, which in itself probably assists me greatly in losing the plot from time to tome (later - a typo, but apt) and struggling to figure out who is who.

I may do something a bit naughty and suggest to Hay that her book club read it.

Was watching people on the street in the Forest of Dean being interviewed by a local TV reporter and being asked how they will vote, and why. Not one of them could articulate why they would be voting for their selected party, or recall a single policy, except for the UKIP voter who said; "Probably immigration." The Forest of Dean must have one of the lowest immigration stats for the entire UK. These people just don't have a clue, but that's democracy; we allow the ill informed to select a government.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Official Visit

We were watching The Super Vet (Noel Fitzpatrick) last night on telly and seeing the pet owners prompted a thought.

I remember that whenever my father went to the doctor, the dentist or to take one of our animals to the vet, he would dress in his best suit and it was treated like a business meeting. That just doesn't happen anymore. It was only in his last few years of his life that he didn't bother to donning a suit and tie to go shopping at the local supermarket.

I suppose it came from wearing a uniform for most of his life, but there again, I wore one for a good period of my life, yet I dress like a dosser when visiting the doctor or the dentist.

You may notice a slight discrepancy in the uniform jacket my father is wearing and the colour of the trousers. It was one of my weddings and he'd brought The Wrong Trousers. He was totally distraught, as he couldn't just nip home and get the right ones - they were 200 miles away in Southport. The decision was taken to do just one publicity shot in "uniform" and then wear the normal business suit he'd driven up in for the wedding itself.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The 3rd Way

I'm not a dyed-in-the-wool Tory, nor a dyed-in-the-wool Socialist - I'm slightly to the left of centre with occasional leanings to the right. However, I'm certainly not a fan of Red Ed, nor particularly Dave the Toff.

If the choice for a coalition side kick is UKIP, Green or LibDem, then it's the LibDems for me. They at least are somewhere in the middle, rather than at the ends of the political spectrum. Plus Steve Webb has been a fantastic representative (not that you'll be even vaguely interested in my voting intentions, but I thought I'd ram my worthless opinions down your throat anyway).

I spotted the Tory candidate canvassing in town the other day. He looked no more that 18.

Same goes for the Labour child.

Now age should not be a barrier, but surely some experience of life (and at least a mortgage) should be an essential qualification?

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Bowel Drivers

Listening to the political parties is becoming boring. Hay says she'd vote for anyone who would just keep things the way they are - never mind about eye-catching policies..

Farage last night speaking total bollocks: "I speak to people who say they're working as hard as they ever have, but they're no better off." Well why the hell should they be? To be better off you work much harder than you ever have, or change to a higher paid job. If you're working no harder, then you can only expect to stay where you are. Bloody demagogues promising the earth for no change!

There's always one, isn't there? My eBay advert for No.1 Son's motorbike specifically states the auction will run to the end and that there is no Buy it Now Price (and, incidentally, there are 77 watchers), yet some bright spark asks if there's a Buy it Now Price. Give me strength - some people just haven't got the sense they were born with. They probably believe politicians.

The bowel cancer test was a bit messy -  now I know where AA Milne got the idea for Pooh sticks from.

A friend posted something of Facebook yesterday about driverless cars. This is going to wipe out White Van Man within 10 years. along with bus drivers, lorry drivers - in fact any job depending on drivers, which should make the motorways a bit more pleasant to drive along, as all driverless trucks could be forced to stay in the inside lane rather than blocking the dual carriageways in protracted, 30 minute attempts at overtaking another lorry.

The downside is that an entire working class occupation will be wiped out. I wonder what will replace it.

Personally, I'd prefer to remain in control of my car. If someone else is driving, the options are complete boredom or reading, which invariably makes me queasy.

Spotted another PvB car in Yate yesterday - seems I'm not the only personalised PvB prat in the village:

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Feeling Better Off for Navy Cuts

I knew they were making cuts in the Strategic Defence Review, but this is surely ridiculous!

TV and radio interviewers asking the electorate about whether they feel any better or worse off under any or other government amuse the hell out of me. I think I can honestly say that nothing a government has ever done has affected whether I felt better or worse off.

  1. Being made redundant made me feel worse off,
  2. Promotion made be feel better off,
  3. Changing my job completely made me feel better off,
  4. Paying off my mortgage in 3 years will make me feel better off,
  5. Retiring will make me feel worse off.
None of the above were (or will be) as a result of pre-election party policy - they were, or will be, the result either of myself, or market confidence in response to macro events.

Changes in taxes or fax free allowances, or whatever, which are the only tools governments have to affect whether I indeed could feel better or worse off, are generally so miniscule in effect as to be worthless in affecting my sense of prosperity. 

Unless entire organs of government are axed and the resulting money released as tax cuts (which is highly unlikely - although the MoD is pretty close to that), what the government gives with one hand, it has to take back with the other - that's how government and taxation work.

Given government taxation policy is aimed at transferring money between the wealthy and the poor - in one direction or another - I guess I'm just in the vast middle swathe that's unaffected, yet is asked to decide in which direction that transfer occurs. I've not had a pay rise in 4 years, but I feel no worse off.

I hear the Hatton Garden heist police are investigating a tool robbery. Hope they don't notice the massive increase in power tools in my engine room over the last month.

Given he hasn't used it in anger once, I'm selling No.1 Son's Gilera DNA on eBay. It's been on eBay since Saturday and finishes this coming Saturday, and I already have 71 watchers and 17 bids. I must have hit the perfect time for selling 50cc bikes.

Received the over 60s bowel cancer screening test kit yesterday. Not looking forward to using it. It will result in certain unpleasantness for someone.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Caravan Matters


Hay: "You're getting a bit podgy."

Chairman: "Ah, possibly, but at least I won't wossisname..."

Hay: "Alzheimer's?"

Chairman: "That's the one!"

Our friends, Simon and Ellie, came over on Saturday evening and stayed the night on the common in their recently converted horsebox.

With no previous experience, Simon converted a dilapidated old horsebox (which I think he got for free) into a modest, home-from-home touring caravan. I just have to do something similar this (or probably next) year for our trips to Devon and Cornwall.