Thursday, April 11, 2019

Please read the terms and conditions

I confess to bearing Luddite tendencies when it comes to cellular telephones. It is a technological phenomenon that has washed over me leaving no debris in its wake.

I have a mobile telephone. I use it, on average, once a month to make a telephone call. I seldom send a text message. Most of the time it is switched off. I prefer to see where I am going when out and about, increasingly important these days when you are constantly the subject of intrusive physical contact by those too busy texting Gary telling him what Sarah Louise has just texted to look where they are going.

I know that there are all sorts of uses for these devices. I have only dabbled at the rim of the ocean of exciting possibilities and suspect that the occasional dipping of the metaphorical toes therein will suffice.

I was bemused, however, by this headline on the BBC news website:

“I delivered a baby over the phone”

I am very concerned about this for a variety of reasons. I chose not to read the article lest I became more alarmed. I have never been one to let ignorance of the facts deter my forming an opinion, I believe, indeed, that it is one of the criteria to which you are compelled to agree when signing up for internet access.

Was the baby downloaded from the cloud? If so I shall be considerably more circumspect in my use of the device if that is the case. I have no wish to press an icon that I assumed was a link to an app that updated me with the plot synopsis of the last 8 years of “Homes under the Hammer” only to find myself in possession of a newly born human. Does the technology only work with infants? Imagine your surprise to find that while you had been intending to check your email you had inadvertently beamed Gyles Brandreth down.

Even more alarming, mainly from the point of view of the baby, is the prospect of delivery by landline. One can only assume that the expulsion from the womb is a traumatic enough event without it concluding with a tortuous journeys down very thin cable via a junction box in Cirencester.

Don’t ask me, I can barely comprehend the mechanics of a propelling pencil.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Many happy returns

An email from a young lady called Gwen, a young lady I have never met nor communicated with before, asking me whether I had a good birthday has prompted me to record some memorable birthday occasions. I do this in order to save the rest of the world from having to enquire – I trusted that your curiosity will be sated by a few of these recollections. Whether they are good is not a straightforward matter – opinions change over the years and it is perhaps better to eschew judgement on events that may have been seen differently by some of the participants.

Allow me to begin (Allow? Ed. Who tf is going to stop you) by describing the year that my birthday was spent on the Orient Express. Some friends had decided that it would be fun. I did not entirely share their sanguinity but as I had declined invitations for excursions of the same nature I felt it appropriate to join in with this one. (My cynicism was grounded in evidence, I may, should time allow, describe at some point several of the vicissitudes experienced by my social circle).

It was decided that Bucharest would be our destination – again, not my choice. I am no real fan of rail travel, and London to Bucharest takes almost as long as the 14:42 service between Waterloo and Alton.

Although we set off with optimism and expectation, our spirits were somewhat dampened when it transpired that, due to a booking glitch, Tubby Mountjoy would have to share a sleeping compartment with Lord Hailsham.  I need hardly say that Hailsham was not one of our party – we had renounced the practice of consorting with senior politicians ever since the fiasco with Duncan Sandys – he simply had chosen to travel at the same time.

Tubby complained bitterly about Quintin’s appalling flatulence. We did not take it very seriously and thought that Tubby was exaggerating, but were forced to concede that the claims bore some veracity when a particularly alarming emission set off the smoke alarm and we had to spend several hours in the waiting room of a somewhat squalid station waiting room a few miles east of Zurich while the train was fumigated and the equipment repaired. On the bright side, Tubby was happier because the staff insisted on moving his Lordship. They set him up with a mattress in the luggage compartment at the rear of the train, and insisted that the rear door be left ajar in order to improve the air flow. Someone, can’t remember who, postulated that this would propel the train forward at a faster rate and thereby make up for lost time, but I am an agnostic when it comes to the laws of physics.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Countdown to another Royal Divorce part 1.

It behoves me to assist those readers of a foreign persuasion, and also those a little slow on the uptake (that just about covers every bugger, Ed.) to explain the contents of the document whose image is currently circulating on the electric internet concerning the forthcoming shitfest in the UK.

For most of us, when informed about, and invited to, a wedding, a simple “Fuck off, I will be busy watching television” is an adequate and concise response, but dear old Lizzie Saxe-Coburg-Gotha – one of the few people old enough to remember how to use Microsoft Paint – has to make a song and dance about it.

I shall endeavour to explain some of the quaint terms and usages:

“ElizabethR”: The R stands for “Richards”. This is a throwback to the happy days she spent playing the part of Mrs Richards in Fawlty Towers. Even now, she affects to be deaf, if only to irritate the shit out of Phil.

“Our other Realms and Territories”: These days, the Scilly Isles and Lindisfarne (when the tide is out).

“To all to whom these Presents shall come”: ‘Oi! You lot’, would be more concise and easier to comprehend.  There are no presents. Young Hal will be lucky if she slips him a fiver on the day, her parsimony being the stuff of legend.

The Great Seal:

(come on, some readers expect this sort of thing).

Privy Council:

(That’s enough catering for the lowest common denominator, Ed.)

“Know Ye that We”: She refers to herself as more than one person. You will have to consult a Freudian about that, beats the shit out of me. As for the Know Ye bit, let’s just call it rhetoric, out of kindness.

“Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson”: she can’t abide the other fuckers.

Great Seal:

(This time for the younger readers)

“Signed with her own hand”: She keeps the hands of several people who have got on the wrong side of her, in a drawer in her living room. When she uses one of those hands to sign, then the writing becomes even less comprehensible.

I will not go into all of the dialogue that has beset me these last few months about declining my invitation. Suffice it so say that I was not influenced by the prospect of having to sit immediately behind Anne Laurence and her legendary flatulence, as has been reported in some of the media.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Victory for common sense

It will not surprise you to know that I fully support the proposal of Mr Trump to train the teaching profession in the use of ordnance.

I adopt this position on the basis of experience and watching how effective it was during my schooldays.

I cannot imagine that Dr Adey would have been so successful in instilling respect for Chaucer’s popularisation of the vernacular had he not reinforced his thesis with his trademark P938.

Miss Stones, later Mrs Lewis, was famous for her enquiry about the number of Commandments – “Are there nine commandments or are there ten? Ask yourself one question – do I feel lucky?”

Who can forget the day that “Butch” Robinson and “Sundance” Hargreaves Minor came a cropper when they tried to sneak out before the bell had gone and were met with the combined fire power of the staff of the biology department?

I doubt whether many of us would have understood the birth of the Romantic movement in symphonic music had Mr Newby not kept time with Mendelssohn’s Reformation symphony by shooting the score onto the blackboard with his famous Smith and Wesson.

None of us would have mastered the declension of German verbs had not Herr Clarke and Herr Still been mounted in gun towers.

As for Barry Batterham’s replacement of the starter pistol on Sports Day with an AK47, what can one say? Seldom have the competitors in the 880 yards felt so motivated.

Happy days indeed.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


The Torygraph reports:

"France declares Marquis de Sade's ... 120 Days of Sodom 'national treasure' hours before auction"

Another example of the cultural ties we will lose when we leave the European Union. Scholars should note that this fine description of life in an English public school was written 26 years before the similarly themed "Sense and Sensibility".

I have not read Monsieur de Sade’s works, but believe that he foretold the coming of the current First Lord of the Treasury by naming one of the characters “Thérèse”.

Some would argue that the gratuitous violence in “Three Men in a Boat” makes it more enjoyable than that soppy farce “The Three Musketeers” which it plagiarises, but the joyous frolics in the latter capture the spirit of those merry japesters, the French aristocracy. (You haven’t read that one either, have you? Ed.)

It is alarming that so much of the great British literature which we are encouraged to venerate while we are at school is simply a poorer reworking of sublime French works of art. Who can deny that the coming of age novels in the Harry Potter series are inspired by “À la Recherche du Temps Perdu”? Bridget Jones is clearly based on Madame Bovary, and only the most uneducated could fail to see that “Wuthering Heights” is an almost literal translation of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame".

Let me be among the first to congratulate the French government on moving to protect its national works of art and manuscripts. I shall later be writing to the cabinet to ask that the works of Jeffrey Archer be kept in the UK and only used as a deterrent in the event of a nuclear holocaust. Perhaps some of my transatlantic friends could join me in ensuring that the works of Dan Brown are also kept in maximum security.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Another helpful discourse on the nature of existence.

I am delighted to read that this year’s Nobel Physics prize has been awarded to three gentleman who have detected ripples in space time.

It is hard to explain just how much this means to me, as unlike the apparatus that was used to detect the aforementioned ripple, no mechanism has been invented to measure such refined units of meaning. Of course, much of this has passed me by; the last time I was in a physics lab the most sophisticated instrument was the micrometer screw gauge. I will pause while you make your own facile (witty, shurely? Ed.) remarks about screwing and measuring very small things. Finished? Good.

This is all to do with (excuse me if I am being simplistic) the ability of very large objects moving at speed being able to slow down or speed up time. By large objects what is meant is black holes. (All the while I am writing this I am reminded of a particularly humorous comment made by a colleague about an event germane to this thread, but as the subject of that comment may one day read this I am obliged to simply apologise for being distracted). When they collide they produce ripples.

Now, call me picky, but if I refer again to the last time I was in a physics lab, it was in the company of some of the least able pedagogues ever to exist. What they could do, however, despite their lack of mass was to make time slow down. I once spent 263 hours in double physics one Monday morning. Mr S* was a short dapper man with an admirable beard who could monotonise for Europe. The other Mr S* was a slim, sardonic creep who kept the spirit of Torquemada alive, despite being much less funny. Mr M* was a dishevelled loon who also taught RE, I suspect in an attempt to persuade a benevolent deity to instil a sense of interest in his pupils.  So please don’t come round here telling me that they’ve only just detected these phenomena.

Yellow cards will be shown to anyone trying to make jokes about raspberries or nipples. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Grass on your neighbours (geddit?)

It is reassuring to know that, in these times of change, we can always rely upon the traditional sources of information. In this fine city we have the “Leicester Mercury” a veritable Fort Knox of valuable data. As every schoolboy knows, Mercury was the messenger of the gods and also god of commerce. Capitalist twat.

Anyway, this fine organ is a constant source of useful information. Today there is some splendid stuff in an essay entitled “How to spot if you have a cannabis farm next door: Nine signs you should look out for”

I would have preferred if they had written “Nine signs for which you should look out”, but purists might say that it should be “Nine signs, out for which you should look”. It’s a funny old world isn’t it?

I won’t reprint the whole article, but these sections I found particularly useful.

“Cannabis growing equipment transported to and from the house”

I suppose that that one is a bit of a give-away. I shall quiz the postal services and delivery drivers about what they have been moving.  I am not knowledgeable about these matters so I asked my dear friends Theodore and Evadne Google about this. Rather than telephone them this late at night I used their website (are you familiar with it – it has been a closely guarded secret – we don’t want everyone being able to learn things on their own, do we, to where would that lead???). The first item that came up was an “Elite Optima Plus Side Filing Cabinet”. I will see if any of my neighbours owns such an item by discreet enquiry. Do any of your acquaintances possess expensive office equipment? If they do then they may well be a drug-crazed hippy.

“Heat, birds on the roof, and a lack of snow”

Bugger! Everyone on the estate must be a junkie. No signs of snow and quite warm (I haven’t been out wearing a cardigan for several weeks).

“9. Unsociable comings and goings.
Are there lots of unfamiliar faces turning up at the house at any time of the day and night? It could just be a popular family, but maybe it's something more sinister.”

It must be me! I had a very funny bugger from Crewe turn up the other week. Just off to hand myself in at the local nick. Anyone got Caroline Coon’s telephone number?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Those who cannot learn from history are probably watching the BBC

Having just recovered from the dreadful episode with the tedious Lucy Worsley, I dived recklessly into another attempt by those nice folk at the BBC to clarify historical events. I am sorry to say that this version was hardly an improvement on the previous disaster.

This time, via the medium of the electric television, I watched a program called “Henry VII : The Winter King”. It was presented by a chap called Thomas Penn, who, while not quite so irritating as Loopy Lucy, has probably emptied a few rooms and lecture theatres in his time.

Whoever is in charge of commissioning these historical documentaries at the Beeb, seems to be constricted by bizarre concepts of what said programs should contain.

For the most part, there is no film archive of anything more than about 100 years old. This is the fault of our ancestors who were so chronically stupid that they did not have the gumption to invent digital video cameras. (In my view, this is a much less serious oversight than the egregious criminality of not preserving “Not Only .. But Also” film archives but that is not the main thrust of this little essay.) Therefore, programs on this subject have to find something with which to fill the screen.  Further, there seems to be a severe budgetary limit (good news for those of us who pay a licence fee and would object to financing 15,000 or so actors to realistically re-enact the Battle of Bosworth Field, for example) on what can be covered. To fill this vast void we have various shots of the presenter in several incongruous locations, some of which are without explanation and few of which add anything to the substance of the story, walking about staring vaguely at things that are not shown on camera. Lucy Worsley is an expert at this, and Thomas Penn has obviously been on the same course, but has not attended the Silly Walk tutorial. We also need some melodrama, as the audience is obviously going to be too thick to appreciate a factual narrative unless it is jazzed up and dumbed down.

Here are some of the highlights from H7:tWK:

Penn is shown at Milford Haven where Henry Tudor landed in his attempt to win the Royal Premiership, season 1484-85. He is seen travelling towards the coast in a motorised dinghy. I am fairly certain that no mention was made of motorised dinghies in the treatises of G. R. Elton, but it is more than a couple of years since I did my ‘A’ levels and so it may have escaped my memory, and to be fair, I did spend long periods of those lessons pre-occupied with lustful thoughts about some of my classmates (no, not you, silly boy). He is then seen walking onto the beach (I hope water got in his wellies) and announcing that “You can imagine what this looked like”. Indeed, we have to imagine, because no clues are given – all we can see is him and his bloody dinghy on an empty shoreline. The budget does stretch, however, to a sound clip that might have resembled an army arriving in Wales during the tourist season in 1485 but could equally have been a demonstration of coffee making equipment recorded in Debenham’s in Cirencester.

The melodrama is in the form of captions which echo the words just spoken by young Tommy; probably the most nonsensical one is the shibboleth “Our history is about to change forever”. I need not, I trust, go into all 597 reasons why that statement makes no sense, do I? (Probably. Ed.)

In a scene redolent of the one I complained about the other day, we then find Tom in a field someplace that he seems to think is Bosworth Field. It may or may not be the same field that Lucy was in (who cares? But it would have been more amusing had they crossed paths. They could even have had a fight about who was there first.), most fields have characteristics in common, and many fields that were carefully minding their own business over 500 years ago may have changed considerably or be no longer extant. Like Lucy, Thomas gives no indication of where Bosworth Field is or why the armies were there. But given the clue in his reporting that Tudor had landed in Wales, we can guess that it is somewhere on mainland Great Britain. (It is actually somewhere near the village of Stoke Golding in Leicestershire and the battle probably buggered up the school summer holidays of my ancestors in 1485).

Having covered the unpleasantness perpetrated on Richard of Gloucester, he then ponces off to Westminster Abbey, where he is seen taking his shoes off. “I’m taking off my shoes” he kindly informs us. He then commences to prance about the area of the Abbey where coronations occur. “It feels amazing to stand here”. I confess to being less than amazed by the spectacle and ponder the question as to whether, were there any amazingness at all, the amazingness of the place would be enhanced by having this prize gawdelpus stuck in the middle of it. He then tells us what King Henry VII must have felt like. (Just stop it – I am referring to his majesty's emotional state, not the contours of his corporeal being.)

During a section on the battle of Stoke Field, we are shown footage of the number 35 bus to Clapham in the centre of London. I really don’t know why, Clapham is nowhere near Stoke Field, and G. R. Elton made no reference (see above for disclaimer) to John de la Pole travelling to the battle by omnibus.

Later, at Hampton Court, Penn tells us that “It was what happened behind this door that would become synonymous with Henry VII’s reign”. I have no idea to what he was alluding and would suggest that the statement had as much value as the earlier one about history changing.

I am happy to report that I spent much of the day watching the re-enactment of the Battle of Bristol, in which Moeen Ali went from 50 to 100 in 12 balls, in much the same way that I watched Tom Graveney score 70 odd against the West Indies when I should have been revising for my exams. So bollocks to history. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Tis better, sir, to be brief than tedious.

I am a patient, tolerant person as is witnessed by my gentle postings on the electric internet, but I have finally given up on, and formally denounce, any television programs featuring Lucy Worsley. Her latest foray into attempting to induce conniptions is the series "British History's Biggest Fibs".
I tried, honestly, but lasted about 20 minutes during which time the leering (hers not mine, that boy), the looking over her shoulder at stuff the viewer could not see, the preposterous gait which outdoes her speech defect and total lack of anything interesting to say caused me to make sure I am never tempted to watch her again.

The first program in this series covers the Wars of the Roses. During the section that I struggled through she gave no historical context. I probably know slightly more than the average viewer about that period in history (not enough for me to be able to teach the subject, but enough to watch the history plays of Shakespeare without having to constantly consult reference books to work out who is related to whom) but anyone watching Ms Worsley would probably be worsley (geddit?) informed after the program than before. There was no attempt to give an historical context to the Wars – the succession issue on the death of Edward III (that is king Edward the third, not Edward Iii, midfielder for Port Vale, do pay attention). Again, I did not watch the whole thing, but there was no analysis of who the houses of Lancaster and York were. Instead she launched in to the rancid chestnut of the Tudors putting a spin on history in order to validate their claim to the throne. Stock footage of Olivier glorying in his deerskin tent, ffs.

Then a scene in which she is seen rambling through foliage in the manner of a bemused dogger trying to explain that she was on the site of the battle of Bosworth. Pointing to her right she explained that until recently the site of the battle was thought to be two miles in that direction but the discovery of artefacts had proved it to be round about where she was standing. Alas, to the uninformed viewer she could have been standing anywhere. Again, I could probably find my way to the site without the aid of maps were I so disposed, but there are probably folk among the 27 or so viewers who made it thus far into the program who thought that the battle might have taken place in East Goatshag, Oklahoma or Basildon High Street. A simple display of a map may have helped.

So that those of you who are not familiar with the story of England in the 15th Century here is a brief synopsis. Edward III was a belligerent twat. He brought some stability during his reign by kicking seven shades of Shakespeare out of anyone who opposed him. He outlived his oldest son (insert your own jokes about the Black Prince) which led to disputes about who should succeed him. There followed a whole series of battles and skirmishes amongst his successors, who were also all twats, resulting in the distribution of sundry innards of the population around the country. The country has continued to be ruled by twats both royal and elected up until the publication of this learned thesis. Some of the twats were more benign than others – Clement Atlee wasn’t all that bad, for example. If you need to know more, there are lots of sources available, but avoid Ms Worsley if you want to enjoy your research.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Countdown to the royal whatever, part 2.

I know that I have been neglectful of late with tales from the Saxe Coburg Gotha clan. I apologise to those of you who have been missing the updates and also to those of you who thought that I had run out of stories and were celebrating.

It is not as though there is any shortage of interruptions to my well-deserved retirement, but more that the tone and frequency sometimes seems so predictable and tedious that I am circumspect about repeating them.

This time it was the middle of the night.

“I’m 91 you know”.

“Fuck off, Liz, you daft tart, do you know what time it is?”

“Sorry, ducky, I’m on Canadian time.”

“Don’t be so silly – you went to Canada House. Even with an escort of the entire British Army and driven slowly in a coach and horses it’s only 5 minutes. It’s just at the end of the Mall, ffs. I know you must get bored of looking out of the window, but did you notice thousands of miles of prairies or any vast expanses of water larger than, say, St James Park lake?”

“I’m 91 you know.”

“Oh piss off. Now is there any particular point to this call or am I the designated stooge this week? What’s Philip up to – surely there’s still mileage in telling him some stories about young Edward.”

“No, not since he retired. He feigns indifference and just likes to watch all the tasteless medical documentaries on the television all day.”

“Haven’t you told him that all of his treatment will be on the NHS now that he isn’t doing any official duties?”

“Shit! That’s a good one. I’m so pleased I called”.

“Well, much as I love you,  I’m not. Is this about that chap touching your elbow?”

“Yes! That was it! I knew there was something. I thought the bugger was trying to push me down the steps. I told him that he was looking for a one way trip to the Tower. If the cameras hadn’t been there I would have hit him upside the head with my handbag. ‘I wonder what she has in her handbag’ they’re always asking – well it will be a sodding great brick if I have to go back there again.”

“Stop being so precious, I’m looking forward to your meeting Trump. He’ll have his tiny hands all over you. I shall definitely watch that with the utmost attention.”

“You can forget that; we’ve already worked out how to deal with him – we’ve got an open contract with Helen Mirren to stand in for me, he won’t know the difference and she can kick him in the bollocks if he tries any funny stuff.”

“Goodnight, Brenda”

“I’m 91 you know”

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

From sea to shining shite

It has become a tradition on this day to post something vaguely satirical about the UK celebrating getting rid of religious bigots to the colonies and allowing the various sects and loonies to forge a new country 241 years ago.
Although I accept no more responsibility for this than I do for any other aspect of British History (I wasn't there) be it the Black Hole of Kolkata, the establishment of the NHS, the slave trade or the liberation of Belsen, I feel it behoves me to offer sympathy to the inhabitants of the United States for thinking that they could collectively grow up in less than 2 and a half centuries.
Had Howe, Cornwallis et al tried a little harder then perhaps secession could have been avoided and a compromise reached.
Today, for example they could have had young Harry Saxe-Coburg-Gotha or his mentally challenged uncle Andy as titular head of state - a frightening prospect in any circumstances other than the current one. The ongoing dismantling of the country could have been replaced by the more benign Republican/KKK power sharing agreement similar to the one operating back home at the moment.
I wish I could be more enthusiastic in wishing a happy birthday to the USA - land of the fucked and home of the shit spangled banner.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Countdown to the royal whatever, part 1

You will have read (those of you with either a serious lack of useful occupation or an IQ in the mid 30s) of young Harry Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and his being uncomfortable in his family.

I can now reveal some of the history behind this story, details which I have kept secret for some time in order to protect the innocent. And also the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha clan.

Please remember that all of this happened a number of years ago and there may be some slight inaccuracies, but the essence is true.

I was limbering up for the Saturday of the Lords test match - I think it featured Sri Lanka, by practising some hasta mudra in order to be flexible enough to stretch to the mute button for the advertisement breaks.

A call on the electric telephone interrupted these important rituals. “Yo, you know that spare bedroom you have?”

“Hello Harry, you soft bastard, sup, and why are you calling me on the morning of a religious festival?”

“I just wondered whether you had thought about extending your family?”

“Piss off, you colossal dimwit, there is already an excess of ugly ginger people in my family, none, thankfully, as dumb as you, and the spare bed is reserved for Nelson Mandela so he can watch cricket in peace – I think that might be him at the front door now.”

“But it would only be until my music career takes off – or perhaps I could be a salesman in a shoe shop.”

“You do realise that we have one spare room, don’t you – there are no facilities for staff members, such as the royal sock folder or the pillow fluffer?”

“Oh, fuck it, forget it then, I’ll just join the bloody army”.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Inconsequential tripe, but if I don't start writing again soon I never will, and then you'd be sorry, wouldn't you?

My good friends, Theodore and Evadne Google, are in the habit of bringing anniversaries to the attention of visitors to their splendid website. I believe that they often get several hundred visitors each day. Well done!

Today (and wtf am I doing up at this hour, you may query, to which I would riposte “Twatting about on the electric internet – one would have thought that that was obvious”) they are publicising the anniversary of the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism, a little artefact over 2000 years old which some chaps in Greece threw together to demonstrate the position of the known planets, which they did quite cleverly considering that they thought that this planet was at the centre of the solar system, if you know what I mean, I dunno what they called the solar system.

Later versions of these mechanisms were called orreries, and it is at this point, dear reader, that I lose interest. God, in his infinite compassion, has visited upon me and many of my relations on my maternal side, the inability to cope with the letter “R”. Together we would be compelled to welease Wodewick. A friend once asked how I would say “library”, to which I replied “very quietly”. I am proud that I have borne this disability stoically throughout my life. I like to think that I could have made a decent fist of being the lead singer of the Rolling Stones when they offered me the job, but people were much less tolerant back then.

These days I am at the vanguard of those campaigning to end discrimination against those with speech defects; victims such as the current first lord of the treasury, Twatty Tess, who suffers from Tourettes to such an extent that the phrase “strong and stable” has to appear three times in each sentence. I encourage you all to empathise with her by chanting the refrain “weak and fucking stupid” each time you hear her say it. Who knows, we may help to pioneer a new medical treatment. 

Thursday, October 06, 2016

National Poetry Day

I was pleased to learn via the electric wireless that today is National Poetry Day.
Let’s have some clerihews – and, remember, the watchword is “sophistication”.

Theresa May
Should just go away
She is moving to the right
And her policies and government are totally full of shite.

Amber Rudd
Really should
Fuck off, but she’s not a racist
In the same way that I am One Direction’s bassist.

Philip Hammond
Is no shining diamond.
He warns of an economic rollercoaster
But I would prefer to put his innards in a toaster.

Jeremy Hunt

No, can’t think of anything.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Consumer activism

I sent this email to my friends at Marmite UK. 

Good morning.

How are you?

Some time ago you ran a campaign which may be regarded as successful with the adage “Marmite, love it or hate it”. I, however, fall into neither camp. I regularly consume your product, but it is not one about which I would enthuse or be moved to tears of ecstasy in describing.

I am far less ambivalent, however, about the preponderance of the harbinger of the apocalypse that is your “Big Squeezy” container. There are insufficient existing words to describe the opprobrium which this abomination arouses in me, but I will share a modicum of them with you, if you will indulge me.

I am an autodidact when it comes to the use of your commodity. I do not possess a training manual, neither have I attended evening classes. Through arduous practice I have deduced that it is possible to extract (geddit?) marmite from your excellent glass jars by using a knife or similar implement. The knife has to be narrow enough to fit through the neck of the jar and not so sharp as to result in the obliteration of the toast when the substance is spread. The shape of the bottle and the consistency of the comestible allow almost all of the contents to be successfully removed, eventually. It is not a carefully calculated operation; experience suffices to judge whether an approximate measure has been extricated. I am so adept at this exercise that I seldom give it much thought. The outcome of this is that, from your perspective, there is a happy customer.

Of late, however, these fine glass jars, unsung and seemingly merely utilitarian, are not available at my local Sainsbury’s. Instead they have been replaced by these plastic plagues. (Your product is available in the smaller jars, which are neither economical nor large enough to contain enough Marmite to cover one of Mrs McTavish’s Organic Highland Oatcakes). Having learnt to use the traditional container, I do not wish to devote any of the time remaining to me in this world in trying to guess how to use it. Is it supposed to be inverted and squeezed thereby making impossible any attempt to judge the quantity required? What happens when the container is 75% empty - how hard will I have to squeeze to get the last bit out? So, let’s admit we have had enough of this nonsense and dispense with these plastic horrors forthwith.

As a large international conglomerate, I suspect that you have a large annual intake of graduates from our fine academic establishments, each one brandishing a third class degree in the economics of the cellphone or some such. These fine people, not so much educated as Goved, begin their careers with you in the hope that, one day, they will be promoted and have a salary increase that will result in a reduction in their net pay as they begin to repay their crippling student loans. You are kind enough to offer them shelter, a chair, a computer terminal, perhaps free beverages and an eight week course in how to use the sum function in Excel. They are cosseted by your kindness and distracted from the Bleak New World’s rising violence, environmental pollution and emptiness for a few hours each week. The rest of us are grateful to you for taking these people off of the streets and giving them something futile to do as they await an old age and funeral which they will not be able to afford. However, in their midst is some bright spark who came up with the idea of the Big Squeezy. I urge you to find this person, and in a very loving and tolerant manner explain to them that their purpose is not to come up with new ideas, particularly damn silly ones. The microprocessor, wind turbines and the Dilshan Scoop have already been invented and their efforts to improve the world will not turn out well. Sedate them if necessary and, should they be intelligent enough to understand, explain that the purpose of modern education is not to stimulate creativity but rather to create a passive and grateful workforce.

I checked to see whether Lord Lever or anyone else I knew was available to be sent this communication. I note that your chief marketing officer is Keith Weed. Is this a case of nominative determinism? Was he gently sitting in his office one day when the idea of the plastic container for Marmite was muted and responded through a foggy haze, “Yeah, man, far out!”? I sincerely hope not.

So, dear friend, oblige me by stamping out this atrocity. When Lord Sainsbury or one of his gormless lackies ‘phones through with their weekly order, explain to them without flinching that the public have spoken and Marmite will be encased in glass, and glass alone henceforth.

Love and peace

Friday, April 29, 2016

Our Frank warned you that these creatures were dangerous.

I have been commissioned by a correspondent – a Reverend Trellis of North Norfolk – to comment on some disturbing news from Switzerland. I should say at this point that even someone with my vast resources cannot comment on all of the disturbing news from Switzerland; indeed some of it is better neither explained nor mentioned.

My friend alludes to the bizarre story that a ridiculously expensive physics lab has been shut down by a weasel. We should be careful about this, as it is not uncommon for all members of the genus to be called weasel, so the saboteur in this case could be a stoat, polecat or similar. I know that some of you will be concerned about the identity and condition of the mammal in question, but I can only tell you that it was not Roy “the Weasel” James, one of the Great Train robbers, as he died some time ago, but now shares the same condition vis-à-vis mortality with the creature under discussion. 

Another example of the lack of concern for living creatures that these physicists flaunt, in much the same way that Messrs Sutton and Smith buggered up my Monday mornings by flinging about iron filings and magnets and discussing alternating current or some such piffle which I refused to acknowledge. There is a somewhat pointless, in my view, debate between those of a religious disposition and those who think that all may be explained by a combination of empirical evidence and logic. They are both equally barmy, but in the interests of balance I should point out that a compassionate creator would not have buggered up so many of my adolescent Sundays by the prospect of double physics first thing of a Monday. 

If you look carefully there are disturbing clues as to the issues surrounding this whole project. The BBC report an official as saying:
“He added that while it was, fortunately, not every day that an animal affected the equipment, it was not that surprising as the research facility is in the countryside.”

I am aware that Geneva is not the natural habitat of herds of rhinoceros nor are there many reported sightings of large apes with a penchant for vandalism, but if you are going to spend a lot of money on a facility you might want to take more care of it than leaving it lying around in a bastard field. I have no connections to the banking institutions of the Helvetic Republic and find their famous cheese (those of the country, not the banks, do keep up) barely palatable. In other words, if I were ever to do something as offbeat as to build a Large Hadron Collider, I wouldn’t put it there. 

I wonder whether those in charge at Cern are aware that the New Scientist, while covering this story published this picture:

Is that it? I think that even I, with my CSE grade 3, could operate that. The only puzzling feature is the “ASB” which, I am told, stands for Asiantaeth Safonau Bwyd – the Welsh Food Standards Agency. Again, not wishing to be too critical of a foreign culture, any visitor to the principality will probably report that “food standards” is somewhat of an oxymoron in the hills and vales. Do you have a surfeit of Welsh restaurants near you? Have you been accosted by a tourist desirous of locating a fresh supply of laverbread? Quite. 

Anyway, if they are not spending their vast budgets on sophisticated operating equipment, nor are they able to fork out for a mouse trap, where is all the money going? I suspect we are more likely to find that there is such a thing as Dark Flow before we get the answer to that. 

I should have chosen to do Latin instead of Physics at O level, I tell you.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Nuclear war sorted - what shall I do next?

There seemed to be an unusually large number of pedestrians in Park Lane today. I could not quite work out why; I enquired at the Grosvenor to see if there was 10 bob off of one of their suites, and none of the estate agents had anything much under £3 million for a reconditioned matchbox so it remains a bit of a mystery.

Some of the folk were a little boisterous – something about “People not Rodents”. I am perplexed. I am not above poisoning rats, but confess to be quite fond of voles. In any case I am not sure why it has become such a major concern.

My presence created a media frenzy. In this picture I am next to the bald gentleman (as indicated by the arrow) but I was blocked out by that attention grabbing hussy Caroline Lucas.

This is where I was standing until my ears started to bleed because of the overloud ‘music’. I buggered off at that point and didn’t bother to listen to the speakers, nor did I speak despite a very enticing offer from Vanessa Redgrave.
I wish there was some sort of deterrent that could be used to prevent noise pollution. 

If you are trying to spot me in the thousands of photographs on line, I was wearing a hat like this one, but my head is not quite as pointy. 

Thursday, January 07, 2016


I am somewhat distressed to discover that the best part (and I mean the best part) of half a century after I left school, my attitude to learning remains that of a silly adolescent.

I turned on the electric television to watch a new documentary featuring the splendid Lucy Worsley.

Here is what I learned.

She has a silly walk, accentuated by her practice of wearing heels that treble her height. Her television programmes, historical in subject, feature long sequences of her demonstrating her silly walks in various locations loosely associated with the subject of her lecture, having failed to find footage of the battle of Poltava on Youtube.

She also has a somewhat distracting speech defect that causes me to wonder whether she appears in my family tree. The subject of this new series therefore appears to be the Wule of the Woyal Womanovs in Wussia, and featured sections in which webels wushed up the staircase and another wevolt was wuthlessly cwushed. The only things that stood out, if you will pardon the expression, were the large lump on the side of the nose of one of her collaborators, and the huge teeth of another (another collaborator, not another nose, do keep up, there were no people in the programme with multiple probosces).

I doubt whether what I learned would be sufficient to get me a decent grade at A Level even in these post-Gove times of academic inconsequence.

Little has changed, then, since the endless hours writing notes while Mr Yarnell did his best to instil some sort of enthusiasm in his captives. Ms Worsley has all of the advantages of multimedia materials in her attempts to educate us, but I doubt whether holiday footage of Mr Yarnell prancing round Flodden Field would have caused me to retain more data than is the case.

This vindicates the view of some chap (don’t be so damned silly, of course I don’t remember who it was) who said “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to retake the exams in November”. 

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.