Monday, November 02, 2015

If, else, sometimes

May I join my friends Theodore and Evadne Google in wishing a happy birthday to George Boole (no point, he is dead, Ed.) who celebrates his 200th birthday today.

George is famous for having invented the game of “Boules” which is named after him, later developed into something called Petanque by the ungrateful French who resented having a game named after an Englishman. Petanque comes from the French words “Pet” and “ancien” – meaning “old fart”. I think that this says a lot about the French and their disrespect for the sciences in general and mathematics in particular.

Anyway, the games of boules is, as every schoolchild knows, the basis of modern computer programming. A group of nerdy men (and the occasional woman) stand around trying to get as close as possible to a solution and when everyone has had a go they all say “Fuck it, that will do” and release it as the new version of the software. Sometimes they get so close to a solution that the software nearly works.

My more fanciful friends, Eric and Cynthia Wikipedia, who run an enormously popular spoof web site report on petanque thus: “When a player loses 13 to 0, he is said to fanny … and must kiss the bottom of a girl named Fanny.” Had this sort of reward been afforded to those of us less than athletic during my schooldays, I would have made more effort to turn up for P.E.

Dear George was at one end of the scientific spectrum, trying to apply rules of order and reason to the physical universe. At the other end were the proponents of the second law of thermodynamics who believed that the natural state is one of disintegration. Until these two camps can find a common ground I shall not regret not paying attention to my dear science teachers – it was basically just RE with Bunsen burners.

I didn’t pay much attention in French either, and perhaps someone attempted to teach us how to say “Fuck it, that will do” but I do not remember. My attention lasted a couple of minutes into my first lesson where Mr Bruce introduced us to the language of Voltaire and Hugo by declaring “C’est un règle.” Since then all opportunities to assist a puzzled Frenchman who was unsure what this item was called have evaded me. I must confess that I have not been over-enthusiastic in my pursuit of such chances, but I am still ready should the need arise. Do they still use rulers in school? I suspect their use is in decline, so perhaps Mr Bruce’s lesson might still be useful as some members of the younger generations may not recognise a ruler should they encounter one.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tempus fuckit

I am told by the running dogs of fascism that I need to alter my clocks tonight. It is truly a sign of the age of darkness in which we reside that we still adhere to these arcane practices that are more fitting to mythology and superstition than an advanced technological society. In ancient times, when my ancestors were too poor to possess timepieces, the process was quite straightforward involving as it did moving the little hand on the clock a short distance. These days we are beset with more complexities. I have two battery operated clocks that I can manage quite well, being of the generation where we learnt important life skills at school, such as telling the time, reciting the Lord’s prayer and dying of whooping cough.

I have a wristwatch that cost me nearly £20 – the previous, cheaper version had a plastic strap which broke and so I, embracing the frivolity of the zeitgeist, splashed out on one with an unbreakable strap. My watch has 4 buttons on the side. If I press them in the wrong combination it ceases to be a watch but tells me the temperature in Samarkand, predicts (incorrectly) the winner of the 3:30 at Exeter and changes the base language to Arawakan.

If I want to change the time on the various mains powered alarm clocks around the house I have to press a button that increments the time an hour at a time such that even the most docile of souls will become bored and press the button so many times that it goes past its desired destination and round the whole 24 hours. Several bleeding times.

To alter the time on my central heating control I have to contort myself into the airing cupboard armed with a torch.

In my motor vehicle I have to press a combination of buttons that I can never remember to adjust the time. What I can remember is that if I want to find the instructions in the manual it will take so long that I need not bother as it will be time to move the sodding clocks forwards or backwards again.

If I want to set the time on the digital clock on the cooker (I don’t) that involves a combination of four buttons, some of which have to be held down simultaneously. If I get that combination wrong it means that the cooker will be set to come on for 26 hours starting in the middle of the night, or will send a message to the National Grid converting the frequency to 384 Hz and setting fire to an intimate electronic device owned by a lady in Cumbernauld.

So bollocks to it all. Which steaming twat decrees that we need to adjust the time? Sod off. Which prize imbecile called it “Daylight Saving Time”? Even I, with my natural antipathy to the perverted cult of science can see that this is clearly impossible. Sometimes things are just better left as they are.

Now, does any bugger know what time it is?

Sunday, September 06, 2015

I am the head of IT and I have it on good authority that if you type "Google" into Google, you can break the Internet

Here are some very simple observations about the episode of Horizon that was broadcast on the electric television this week concerning the topic of the multiverse (the idea that our universe is one of an infinite number of universes).

I was a little distracted by the fact that Katherine Parkinson was the narrator. I have seen her act in many productions, but listening to her voice I found it impossible to not visualise her as Jen from the IT Crowd, and expected Moss to take over at any minute.

Anyway, the hypothesis discussed is based upon the behaviour of particles in quantum mechanics where they appear to be both waves and particles simultaneously. Physicists are baffled by this, and one theory which is supported by some of the cleverest people on the planet is that there are an infinite number of universes in which every action that occurs causes a division of the physical at that point to cover every possible eventuality. This is far more complex than the simplistic example used in the programme in which a physicist used the example that, on the toss of a coin, he could either remain in the interview that was taking place, or leave. From this comes the idea of the infinite number of universes. For every micro-event since the Big Bang (and why not before?) there is a universe out there which shows the outcome of that event and every possible subsequent one.

Of course this is no new theory. I do not read much science fiction but the idea of parallel universes is not uncommon.

I am sure that all of you are familiar with the Ramacharitamanasa (if not please go and read it before continuing this) where Bhusundi describes being swallowed by Ram and experiencing infinite universes therein.

If there are infinite universes, then there must be an infinite number of them in which the theory of the multiverse has already been proved. Equally, there must be an infinite number of universes where it has been incontrovertibly proved to be total nonsense.

There are even universes out there in which people read this.

In other words it is beyond my comprehension. I have dwelt on it briefly and will now go back to preparing myself for the Rugby World Cup. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Another blow for culture.

I trust that fellow viewers were as appalled as was I about the lack of respect shown towards one of our great authors and his magnum opus on the electric television the other evening.

I was watching an egregious conglomeration of excrement called "Task Master" on the Home Dysentery channel, where a bunch of space-filling sixth rate self-styled comedians press the public towards suicide by attempting silliness.*

In the course of the latest episode, there was an unwarranted attack on that fine publication “I Blame the Beatles” by Tom Widdicombe, who if he is not already, will shortly be a Nobel literature laureate. Seldom has a work of art so accurately encapsulated the zeitgeist (have you encapsulated the zeitgeist, missus?). My first edition sits proudly amongst Eco, Trollope and Solzhenitsyn and not too far from Wisden. (Widdicombe’s later equestrian books are more fanciful and satirical but, I am told, still worth a read).

There are still copies available at Amazon although the current prices reflect the value of the works. has the book at half the price of that of the UK site – a reflection perhaps of how much in need of enlightenment that forlorn continent is.

I expect that if you are reading this then you will have fallen into the category of widely-read and cultured individuals who maintain high standards on the electric internet and probably have a copy of your own. Why not buy another?

*Actually quite funny.

Monday, July 06, 2015

The search for truth continues.

TCM are always a source of joy and inspiration. In a paper published recently by those wacky dudes at Michigan State University they explain that some time ago someone estimated the quantity of some stuff that we cannot see but now someone else has said that this quantity is too high, and that there may be less stuff that no bugger can see out in a part of the universe that we can never travel to. So, when we get there, which we never will because it is impossible, there is less stuff to bump into which would make the impossible travel less risk-prone. This is, naturally, a great comfort to me as I begin the task of looking for affordable holiday destinations in my retirement – I don’t want to go anyplace that is crowded. On the other hand, this is a great source of anguish to me as I begin the task of looking for affordable holiday destinations in my retirement – there may be many fewer options from which to choose. On the other hand I may prefer not to visit these “dimmer galaxies” – the bright ones, as their name suggests, may be preferable anyway; who, after all, wants to be stumbling around in the dark looking for the kitchen when billions of light years away from home.

Once again, the ruminations of the physics community has done nothing to help with the practical issues facing us daily, and I am beginning to doubt the worth of my grade 3 CSE physics certificate, wherever it is. Perhaps the staff of MSU can help me look.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

If they wanted me to remember history they would have made it happen more recently.

I have been watching Andrew Roberts’ series on the electric television concerning the career of Mr Bonaparte. As a right wing nut job with an overblown ego, it is not surprising that he has not been judged favourably and Napoleon is not much better.

There have been some interesting historical documentaries shown over the last couple of years; the series on the Spanish armada was pretty good despite the narrator having to appear periodically on a boat in La Manche just in case there were those watching who had no idea what the sea looks like ffs.

I am puzzled by the practice of filming, at great unnecessary expense, the narrators strolling about in various locations (some of them not associated with the narrative). At least dear Lucy Worsley in her series on the Georgians affected a silly walk to add to the drama. Roberts walks around like a bemused twat looking at stuff as though he had not seen it before.

At least in the Armada series they had several historians giving slightly different interpretations. The Napoleon series would have been improved by having someone arguing with Roberts pointing out that while Nappy introduced some liberal reforms and brought a degree of stability following years of post-revolutionary chaos, he was still an asshat. Perhaps would have been better had this someone replaced Roberts altogether. I had to install some anti-smug software on my sky box after 3 hours of this man.

I like to watch this stuff to learn more about events/periods/people in history but I want some assurance that if what is being presented as fact is just one person’s opinion then that is made clear.

Let us have some more personable presenters than Andrew Roberts he had as much charisma as Mr Thingy who taught History in the 3rd form when I was at school. Or was it French? Or was it the 4th form? Or was it Miss Thingy?

Saturday, May 09, 2015

George's (sort of) New Job - Part 15

George was very relieved to be back in the small drawing room (although it did not seem very small, and he had never found any crayons or drawing paper after many hours of searching and he distinctly remembered asking Kylie to get some for him from Ryman’s).

The last few weeks had been very tiring and, frankly, disorientating. Because of this election nonsense he had been required to leave the house and travel around the country meeting some frightful ordinary people. Some of them did jobs and he had had to dress like them and talk to them and listen to them. Then, to cap it all, he had had to go on the television and be asked some impertinent questions by that awful man Marr. How dare he ask where the money was coming from? Didn’t he understand that George had a staff of thousands to know the answers to difficult questions and do the hard sums? His friend David had made it quite clear to George that he was not to get involved in the details of the economy. (At the time George had asked David what his job was and why he was there. David had winked and said something along the lines of surrounding himself with a sturdy duffer-buffer. George had not understood, but did not want to appear silly or bother David because sometimes David had important things to do.)

Anyway, George was sitting quietly listening to his New Kids on the Block compilation CD and wondering whether dunking his custard creams would make them too soggy, when the telephone rang and it was David asking him to “pop round for a chat”. Within 10 minutes (and he had only had to ask directions 3 times, 4 if you include the time that a dreadful man in the kitchen told him to fuck off) he was in David’s office.

David didn’t ask him to sit. “As you know, George,” (George didn’t know, but wasn’t going to say anything) “it is standard practice after an election to reshuffle the cabinet. I want to thank you for all of your hard work in the Treasury” (David appeared to be sniggering) “and I have decided to reward you by making you Secretary of State for Scotland.”

George couldn’t remember ever feeling so shocked. “No, David, please, please you can’t do that. I don’t speak the language and they all frighten me. I have been working with Mr Alexander for five years and even now can only make out one word in ten. The only thing I understand is when he is cross because he turns very red. Whenever he leaves I have to lie on the ottoman for ten minutes while Kylie fans me. When we visited Lancaster a couple of weeks ago I picked up a virus and I think Scotland is even further away.”

“Just kidding, you wanker” said David. “You are staying exactly where you are. You know you make me look clever”. George felt very proud.

“I want you to get your people to work on some of our new policies. Find one of the less gormless plebs at the Treasury to work out how much it would save if we charged people the going rate for all ambulance journeys, and get some figures for a window tax on all terraced and semi-detached houses (apart from those with a postcode beginning SW1A).”

“I don’t think we can do that, David” said George politely. “Dr Cable won’t like it. He’ll be in my office every five minutes shouting in Polish. I have nightmares about his vast bald head cracking open and snakes coming out”.

“George, you hopeless sod, haven’t you heard? Dr Cable is not only working with you no longer, but he lost in the election. Come next September he will be working as junior technical drawing teacher in a comprehensive in Hounslow.”

George wanted to climb over the desk and kiss David but knew that David hadn’t liked that ever since they left Eton.

“What about Mr Alexander, though?” asked George, hopefully.

“We’ve rid ourselves of that porridge-sucking tosspot too” said David gleefully. “Didn’t you notice the portrait of the Duke of Cumberland on the wall as you came in?

“For fuck sake, George, go back to your office and have a snooze, but send someone out to buy some shares in GoveFrack plc while they are still cheap. I can’t afford to give you a pay rise of more than 75% before next April”.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I don't remember eating that

For those of you inclined to criticise the scientific community for lack of purposeful research let me point out that their latest idea is a literal goldmine.
My friends at the BBC News report:

Gold in faeces 'worth millions'

Highlights of their report include:

US researchers are investigating ways to extract the gold and precious metals from human faeces.


The good news is that they will wait for it to be excreted.

Extracting metals from the waste could also help curb the release of toxic substances into the environment.
In addition to gold and silver, human waste also contains amounts of rare earth metals such as palladium and vanadium.
The scientists are experimenting with some of the same chemicals, called leachates, which industrial mining operations use to pull metals out of rock.
While some of these leachates have a bad reputation for damaging ecosystems when they leak or spill into the environment … in a controlled setting - they could safely be used to recover metals in treated solid waste.

In a previous study, another team of scientists calculated that the waste from one million Americans could contain as much as $13m (£8.6m) worth of metals.

Yes, we can solve so many problems at once; find useful employment for the indolent masses, finance the entire waste recycling industry. The most prolific producers could be identified and paid a bonus for extra output. Who says capitalism doesn’t work? And never mind this nonsense about the dangers of leachates – we should all by now have full confidence in the corporate world to make safety and care for the environment the priorities.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I believe there is some talk of a political event this summer.

The other day some passing nitwit left a pamphlet and a business card in my letterbox. The business card was from "UK Independance Party"

I felt obliged to reply to this kindness and have sent the following email 

I have replaced the gentleman's name with that of a common friend. 

Yo! Plevneliev

I bet you cannot guess how delighted I was to receive your leaflet and business card the other day. Mainly of course because there is no reliable empirical measure of delight and even if there were, because you do not know me nor anything about me, I could still safely bet on your not knowing.

The first thing that struck me was that you had spelt the name of your party incorrectly on your business card. It is very clever of Nige to have a party that could be nicely abbreviated – it covers up the spelling deficiencies of so many members – proving, were it needed, that he is a talented political activist and not some grinning, knuckle dragging halfwit.

Of course, to many of us, the Conservative party is the “C” party, but I do not want to make this all about abbreviations.

I did not read the whole of your tract to check for other errors as I am occasionally prone to nausea but those sections that I did read impressed me with their coherence.

Now it would be churlish of me to refuse to vote for you because of a typographical error and that is not the reason that you will not be getting my support. You will not be getting my support because you represent a group of people who appeal to a very base and nasty section of the electorate. Yours is the party most likely to attract racists, a party riddled with xenophobia and a party marching ignorantly onwards towards a culture of scapegoating and divisiveness. We are faced with global problems that will only be solved by unity, peace and cooperation; UKIP is going in the opposite direction.

So, Plevneliev, my dear old cucumber (I understand that pickled cucumber is favoured in Romanian cuisine – have you tried it? Perhaps we can open a Slavic restaurant in Frith End or Dockenfield?), it is not too late to come to your senses and abandon these silly people you have cajoled you into a foolish alliance. Not that it would make much difference really, as North East Hampshire would vote Tory even if they had an inbred nincompoop as candidate. Is Damian standing again?

You will note that I have not made this personal – I have not accused you of racism or xenophobia. I have no personal quarrel with you, and wish you well. Should I encounter you as I skip merrily down the byways of North East Hampshire I will bid you a sincere “Good day”. However, if you or your potty friends knock on my door soliciting my support, particularly if there is a good cricket or rugby game on at the time, you will be greeted with a variation on the theme of “Bugger off, you stupid bastards”.

Love and peace


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stop it

I found this image on line – recently added to the collection at under UK Army Register of Soldier’s effects.

This is a record of my uncle Harry, killed at Hohenzollern Redoubt in 1915 – a battle for a fucking useless mound – where Harry and his friends were ordered to run uphill into machine gun fire.

This from Wikipedia:

The final British assault on 13 October failed and resulted in 3,643 casualties, mostly in the first few minutes. In the British Official History, J. E. Edmonds wrote that "The fighting [from 13–14 October] had not improved the general situation in any way and had brought nothing but useless slaughter of infantry".

Then, a year later his father gets paid whatever was due. I imagine the accompanying letter read something like:

“Yo! George
Thanks for your lad, here’s ten quid. Got any more?”

At least the record keeping was accurate.

One hundred years ago, and I weep for this senselessness. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

British Constitution: a guide.

One of the highlights of my week is my journey home of a Wednesday lunchtime when Prime Minister’s Questions is on the electric radio. I usually react to this celebration of the pinnacle of the democratic process by switching it off and listening to some music. For those of you unfortunate enough not to live in the UK here is how it works. Once a week the Prime Minister (Slimy Dave) answers questions from fellow members of parliament. The questions alternate between his own party and the opposition parties. A typical session commences something like this:

“Would the right honourable gentleman care to take advantage of the opportunity to answer this fatuous question by blaming everything bad that has ever happened on the previous government?”

The next question is of the form:

“Would my right honourable friend care to lean forward a little further so that my tongue can reach the other end of his digestive tract?”

Today on my return journey George Total Twat Osborne was taking the opportunity to fill the airwaves with his fanciful and mendacious bile.

I listened to Frank Zappa instead. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

There is nothing like a good education, is there?

I have had a lovely email from a gentleman in New Jersey (the American state not the item of apparel – stop being silly). Here is my reply:

Mel! Thanks for the message. I am overwhelmed by your kindness and have taken the trouble to respond to most of your points by interspersing your comments with mine. I hope this does not confuse you. (Your bits are in blue mine in red)

Late Stage College Planning- You Can Still Save A lot of Money On College Costs

Not strictly accurate. If I am spending money then, by definition, I am not saving it. I cannot save money on costs I can only try to reduce costs. Are you trying to save costs by not capitalising the “l” in “lot” and the “o” in “of” because I don’t think that works with electronic media. Maybe You have put A lot of Research into This, but having read the rest of your letter I remain unconvinced. 

As the parents of a college-bound student, you may be very confused and suffering from anxieties, sleepless nights, fear of going broke, and acquiring huge student debt. If so, you are not alone. With the dramatic increase in the cost of college during the past few decades, paired with the extreme highs and lows of the market and the economy, many families simply can’t afford to attempt this important and expensive process on their own. For most parents, the college years will be the most expensive time in their lives. It makes good sense to seek some assistance.

I am not the parents of a college-bound student, neither am I the parents of an egg-bound student nor a clothbound student but I do have paperbound book – alas I am not its parents. I, being singular, cannot be the parents of anything. Although I have often been given advice along the lines of – to paraphrase – copulating with myself, I have never heeded that advice (you are evidently no stranger to dubious advice) and even if I had, I suspect that there would be numerous pitfalls even before the possibility of gestation. Mel, dear boy, prithee read that first sentence again. It isn’t very well constructed is it? Did your teachers not warn you about the dangers of too many “ands”? We have a saying over here – “Many ands make stuff unwork”. Perhaps you have a degree in marketing which would explain your complete disregard for English usage. In most walks of life it is useful to be able to convey your ideas succinctly and be sanguine about the audience’s chances of comprehending them; in marketing the reverse is true.

We help families evaluate the various options available to them such as whether a private college makes more sense than a public one, or perhaps a trade school makes even better sense. Should your child begin at a Community College and then transfer to a four year school later? Making decisions on these important issues should be based on real knowledge, not myth. Selecting the “right” college can make the difference in both your child’s happiness and the potential savings of thousands of dollars.

Now I see your point – I am confused! If a trade school does not make better sense that a private college, does it matter whether it makes better sense that a public one? Where does this leave me? Why is the right college in quotation marks? Is this a meaning of the word “right” (correct use of quotation marks there, Mel!) with which I am unfamiliar? What do you mean by a college making more sense? You do not display much expertise on the topic of making sense so perhaps I should move on.

At (Name censored - Ed.), we will help you craft a structured plan for choosing the right institution for your

College–bound children without jeopardizing your own retirement, including:

We will not mention the new paragraph there. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it. 

§  Separating myth from reality in order to make educated decisions (not what is heard at the water fountain at work or from the neighbor next door);

I do not have a water cooler at my place of work. We do, however, glory in the possession of a kettle. To the best of my recollection (and I must confess that I cannot remember the details of every conversation I have had at that location) I have never been misled or subject to mendacious propaganda. There was, however, an occasion in 1995 when I had cause to doubt the judgement of a colleague in regard to his opinion of the qualities of the episode of “Father Ted” which we had both seen the previous evening. What really concerns me about this point is the construction. Are you implying that water-fountain gossip is myth or do you believe it to be reality? What is reality? Having pondered your missive for some time I am beginning to believe that I ought to invest some time in delving into existential philosophy. If I am to take that course should I chose a private or public college or a trade school? Is there a trade school for philosophy? Should that be “or” or “nor” in your point? Perhaps I need to learn more about simple syntax. Further you specify my next door neighbour. What about the neighbour next door but one? Are they more or less prone to veracity? How do you know? I have always viewed my neighbours as upright and reliable, now you are sowing the seeds of doubt. Even though they seldom discuss matters of more importance than the weather (I have, after all, only been resident here for 25 years) I am beginning to think that I should carry waterproof clothing with me at all times, even when one of these bastards tells me that it is a fine day.

§  Navigating the process for making the right choices about college-those best suited for your child;

§  Forecasting realistic chances of admission at selected colleges using comprehensive, proprietary software, and identifying a plan to improve those chances for schools that may seem out of reach..

Why does this point end with a double full-stop when the others end with a semi-colon? Can any point really end with a semi-colon and have grammatical integrity? It has only taken two readings of your little article to make me question my understanding of even the most simple elements of construction and style.

§  Formulating a plan that will minimize the cost of attendance, reduce out of pocket expenses and maximize financial aid;

§  Differentiating between the pricing of so -called "cheaper" state colleges and "expensive" private colleges – Public institutions do not necessarily equate to a lower cost of attendance;

Why is there a space before “so” and “-called”? Why does Public have a capital “P”?

§  Assisting in the preparation of the FAFSA form;       PLUS MUCH MORE

Our planning team consists of experienced financial advisors and a former college admissions director with
40 + years of experience in higher education, including 18 years working in the “Ivies”.

First step: visit us for a complimentary meeting when we will provide an overview of the college selection process, estimate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and help you calculate the amount of financial aid that might be available. For more information or to make your complimentary appointment, please give us a call at (censored - Ed.).
Anyway, Mel, dear friend (I feel so very close to you already) I should point out that I am a resident of the UK. (In case you voted Republican at the recent elections, UK stands for “United Kingdom” and is not part of the United States. We have our own government and everything.) I do not have children of any description let alone those about to embark on college education in North America.

Perhaps you should consider checking your email addresses. But please write again – I cannot convey how much pleasure I have derived from our relationship. In the meantime I will seek out a volume of P G Wodehouse so that he can learn me how to write good again.
Love and peace

Saturday, November 01, 2014


There is a story, in the Grauniad amongst others, that Asshat Osborne is going to be paying back war bonds. I did not know about these things (and there is no need to inform me, thank you very much) but it seems very bizarre and unsavoury.

The UK government borrowed some money to finance the first world war and has been paying interest on those loans ever since. Apparently most of the bond owners are individuals rather than banks. I am not interested in knowing who these people are, but, FFS, would you want your financial security tied up in paying for the Somme? (Apparently there are other bonds still around that date back to the Napoleonic wars and the South Sea Bubble).

My grandfather was definitely not one of the bond buyers. He didn't have any money for that shit anyway. Instead he sent his oldest son to get killed going over the top in a futile attempt to capture a useless hill and then the next oldest son was gassed in the war and died of cancer in his 40s.

The centenary of this war is sobering and shocking. It exemplifies the pitiful moral immaturity of our species in being unable to resolve our differences without conflict. From what I can see the only suitable marking of these anniversaries is that of lament. There may have been heroism in the midst of it, but all I can think of is the thousands upon thousands of boys buried in north west Europe and all of the others around the world killed for no purpose.

I am, of course, equally culpable. My taxes are paying for the murder of children all the way from Syria to Pakistan.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

To help you keep well-informed

History has corners of relative obscurity where the lesser-known relatives of famous historical figures carve their own nooks and crannies in the passageway that is our journey towards our destiny. Very often these characters had a more profound influence than that for which they are generally given credit. There follows a history of some of them.

Vlad the Improver

Vlad was a helpful child and as he matured his helpfulness blossomed. He saw it as his role to make things better despite the obstacles put in his way, often by those whom he was attempting to aid. His firm conviction that he possessed the gift of seeing things the way that they were meant to be ensured that he was always busy. He would roll up at someone or other’s dwelling – the dwelling could be anything from a rude hut to a carefully crafted castle, the someone (or other) could be a close friend, a casual acquaintance or just some chosen person whose home he happened to be passing. Without the awkward business of waiting to be asked he would set about rearranging the furniture, changing the décor, moving doors and windows, re-styling clothes and so on. The projects could last anything from a few hours to months at a time. “No rest for the gifted” he would quip, quite regularly, and no one was allowed to rest until perfection had been achieved. Strangely people were not always pleased to receive his help. Luckily for them the concept of psychoanalysis had not yet been discovered – had it been, then Vlad would have felt compelled to improve the character of people as well as their environment. As it was, however, increasing numbers of people were driven from their homes, often destroying them completely before leaving. They would travel as far away as possible, often so deranged by fear of a visit that they would volunteer to be impaled by Vlad’s hitherto easy-going cousin.

Attila the Hungry

In the dark ages, the folk of central and southern Europe had a pretty hard time of it. It was dark for one thing and central and southern Europe for another. Like most young people, Attila had an appetite that exceeded his corporeal needs. Sadly, he had no culinary skills and was too lethargic from overeating to find or buy food for himself. He therefore adopted the habit of fetching up at someone or other’s house (a different someone or other than those visited by Vlad; these people did not all live in the same age) at mealtime in the hope of being invited to join in. Such was his patience that in most cases the residents would ask him if he would care to share their food. Within minutes he would be outside about ninety percent of the comestibles in the house and be asleep in front of the fire, his corpulence often resulting in preventing the heat from reaching other parts of the house. It is reckoned that during his journeys across the steppes and Europe, as many as four in five people died of starvation combined with fatigue.

Ginseng Khan

“You want to rub a little bit of dianthus oil on that” was typical of the sort of advice disseminated by young Khan. We assume that until very recently the skills of doctors and apothecaries were primitive, bound up in myth, and ineffective. This view is not without some justification, but there have always been those with gifts of healing and folklore has quite regularly built up a valuable collection of remedies and treatments. Young Khan was blessed with the conviction that nature had a cure for everything. He had unguents for ulcers, balms for blisters, soups for syphilis all carefully prepared from flora and fungi that he had collected and distilled himself. Scholars estimate that upwards of three and three-quarter million people died from his cures. Many times that number were driven insane by mushroom-induced hallucinations. When Genghis Khan started to have itchy feet and felt like spending winter in Venice, he found that his march through civilisation went largely unchallenged because no bugger was well enough to stop him.

Alexander the Grout

“Yes – I’ll be there next Tuesday to finish it off” – householders from Skopje to Surat were told the same thing. You could scarcely visit a settlement on that route that had not been bodged by young Al. His most famous projects included the Tat Mahal, the Hanging baskets of Babylon (“OK – my guy says that the compost will be with you soon, problem with the supplier, mate – nothing I can do”), the statues of Zeus (“Only one Zeus? You better ask Monty Python about that”) and the Lighthouse of Alexandria (“Not my fault, pal, I didn’t do the wiring, have you tried finding a sparks in ante-Christian Egypt?”). When his nephew set off on his adventures he was greeted in delight by the inhabitants who only discovered too late that he was not head of the party of Eastern European craftsmen that they had sent for at very reasonable rates. 

Friday, September 05, 2014

Visitor receives the honorary title of Uffar Gwirion

The children smiled politely, but were certainly not going to pull his finger.

Slimy Dave wonders if he can get away with smacking the foreign-looking kid while Bazza is distracted.

Bazza takes some time out to visit the special needs pupil.

In response to the question, Bazza points out on the map exactly "where the fuck" he is from.

"Tell me if you think you are going to get away with this shit"

Having spent several hours in the company of what can only be described as an utter twat, Bazza delights in some mature conversation.

Slimy Dave proudly boasts of his budgetary restructuring, moving money from school meals to supporting local businesses. "A hungry kid is a motivated kid" he explains. Angela wonders whether to drink her water or pour it over the daft bastard. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Maud - sod off out of my garden you bloody hoodlum

Our walk today took us to Waggoners Wells, where there is a plaque commemorating a poem written there by Tennyson in 1863.

Here is what Alf wrote:

"Flower in the crannied wall"

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

Here is the poem I wrote today:

Flower in the crannied wall
I leave you just where I found you
If every bugger tore out the flora
Mankind would all be much the poorer
Tennyson, poet or a know it all?
Vandal. That is God’s (and also my) view

Will I get a plaque? Will I bollocks.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Keeping up with the correspondence

An interesting selection of emails arrive this evening.

1) From Chattanooga a young man invites me to “Dr. David Banks will be teaching on Professionalism, get ready for the time of your life. “
I reply thus:
Do you, by any chance, think that as part of the good doctor's discourse on professionalism he will touch on the topic of making sure that you always have the correct email address?
And has anyone ever pointed out that your name is an anagram of "An orgasmic hen"? 
love and peace

2) I am alarmed to learn that my membership of Bay Harbor (sic) Fitness has expired.
I tell them:
Thank you. As you are 4396.8 miles from my house, I figure that I could get as fit as I need by walking to your establishment. It may be a tad tiring, so I would be grateful for a lift back.
love and peace

3) I am surprised to learn that I applied for the role of Plant Manager in East Palestine – a young lady writes thus:
Thank you very much for your interest in the Plant Manager role. We are writing to let you know this position has been put on hold indefinitely.
I reply, effusively:
Thank you for letting me know.
I note that there is an East Palestine in Ohio, and I am assuming that this is the location of the role to which you allude. This is a relief as the other Palestine would not be my chosen work location at the moment. 
I don't recall sharing any interest in plant management - I tend to put them in the ground surround them with some organic compost and make sure that they are watered as required - more husbandry than management I would say, but it is perhaps my tendency towards pedantry that was a factor in my lack of success in obtaining this post. 
As the venue is 3703.2 miles from my house, I would probably not be there on time each morning, so perhaps it is for the best.
By the way, did you know that your name was an anagram of "Naked as the lingerie"?
love and peace

4) The same man from Chattanooga writes :
What would you do with $2500 to make Chattanooga a more connected city?
I reply:

I would buy train tickets, leaving the Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four
You’re making it too easy now.
Love and peace