Thursday, September 30, 2010

As you know

I am typing this note. I am using an electronic keyboard attached to a computer, and as my fingers touch the keyboard, then the clever software inside the computer transfers the results electronically, and the letters appear on a screen in front of me. When I have completed this, then I will, using some simple commands, transfer the ‘output’ from the disk in my computer, via the “world wide web” to another computer, and you will be able to access it if you know where to find it.

If you found the above entertaining, then you will positively pee your pants if you get to watch “Downton Abbey” on the electric television. It falls under the genus ‘drama’. In order to be a ‘drama’, it seems that all you need is to have Broadbent, Carter, Glenister or some other such ubiquitous readily-recognised face to appear. If you want a successful drama, then you get someone really good (in this case Maggie Smith) to come and do a cameo that does not even begin to stretch them. You then construct a completely unbelievable script. The unbelievability of it is that the characters are constantly engaged in conversations in which they explain to other characters things that they already know. This is not a new device, Brass parodied it years ago. Downbeat Abbey features life in an early 20th century home of some rich  bastards with lots of servants. Everybody in the place has a single digit IQ, as they have to have everything explained to them over again. In Downdrain Abbey, there is one scene early on where someone explains to his wife that two people who have just died are his first cousin, and his first cousin’s son. This was the most interesting conversation. The cast comprises tired stereotypes and the dialogue has been contributed by rent-a-cliché. I may let you know how bad the second episode is.

Even more contrived is the utter tripe that is “Spooks” on the BBC. Worse melodrama than the average soap, and, set in the world of espionage, the characters are perpetually engaged in explaining to each other why they must thwart the latest plot, and why it would be a jolly bad idea for it to succeed. Apparently, MI5 do not believe in briefing and employ people who need to be told that wiping out cities is not a good thing. I have watched every episode. There have been over 700, and during that time I have seen all three facial expressions of Sir Hammy Pompoustit, and watched countless other spies being murdered. Alas, they are always replaced by others even more melodramatic and wooden.  

I have now almost finished this. You will know for sure that it is the end when the words run out.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A certain sensation of reality.

I would like to draw your attention to the writings of my old pal Jon Butterworth, who writes about physics.

Today I read his article in the Grauniad, and done a lol.

Specifically, he was defending the position of those scientists who had admitted that the new Disneyworld in Switzerland could be the place where an experiment was conducted that caused the end of the world. The word "could" is key, as, in physics, anything is possible. 

I reproduce the comment that I left on his blog, as I know some of you don't get around too easily these days.

Thank you, that was most risible. I studied physics for five years at school, and don't remember laughing once; I may have occasionally smirked, in a pubescent lascivious manner, at times when my concentration was distracted by the female class members.

Not that my concentration was much to begin with; concentration could not accurately be described as being one of my behaviours.

And, in deference to my new found fondness for scientific accuracy, I need to say that I did not "study" physics, I merely attended physics lessons. I learned nothing, but it was marginally preferable to sitting outside in the snow.

Do you know Ian Smith? He was my physics teacher in the second year. He was totally devoid of humour. He probably won't (and I now understand from your article that even if he has passed on to the great LHC in the sky it will not preclude the possibility of his so doing) even laugh when Thatcher dies. If only he had included some clerihews, I might have learnt summat.

For those of you wishing to find some clerihews about Physicists, I managed to find these very clever ones on the electric internet. This chap has a bright future.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

That boy at the back! You're an idiot! What are you?

Yesterday some friends and I were kept in after school. Approximately 41 years after we left school may seem a little extreme, but some of them had been very naughty indeed.

Fortunately, we have all benefited by the strict disciplinary code practised at this fine seat of culture, and the successes that we have achieved have percolated into all seventeen corners of the world.

For the benefit of those of you who are careless in keeping up with news of global luminaries, here is a guide to my friends and I.

1) Dominic Plantagenet-Mincingboy.  Dom studied Aramaic at the university of Tirana, founded a company manufacturing software aimed at removing the word “” from the internet. As you can see, he has been very successful. With his enormous wealth, Dominic has pioneered a project ensuring that the inhabitants of the West Sahara have round-the-clock access to the television programmes of Nick Owen and Anne Diamond. As you can see he is not paying attention in class. We will probably have to repeat this detention.

2) Dame Eritrea Montgomery. She, of course, is the first woman to perform “Ol Man River” from Showboat at the Royal Command Variety event. She has a keen in interest in geology, blancmange moulds and the poetry of Richard Nixon. In between working on her fashion designs for the over-90s, she is the principle architect in charge of the reconstruction of “Plastic Henge” near Salisbury.

3) Fortuna Aristophanes. English hammer throwing champion, compiler of the Shrewsbury University directory of bathroom windows, and lead singer with Iron Maiden, her talents are catholic as, indeed, are her propensities.

4) Hephzibah Lumbarpuncture. Pioneering surgeon whose work on replacing ankle bones with ball bearings, and the extension of the optic nerve to finger and toe ends has advanced the theory and practice of voyeurism, and her lectures at the Gdansk medical facility were truly ground-breaking in their audience participation aspects, but sadly resulted in her being prevented from returning to Eastern Europe.

5) Patriach Archbishop Arthur Rosebush of the Armenian Orthodox Church, winner of the 1996 final of “Wheel of Fortune”.

6) Gandalf Montesorri, still playing left side flanker for the Tintagel Patriots rugby union team, and a trailblazer in the field of marine unorthodoxy.

7) Uriel Wenchfondler. Tireless worker for the advancement of vegetable rights, and recipient of the Life Time Achievement award in kale husbandry.

8) Cynthia Leftpancreas. Inventor of recyclable salad dressing, pomegranate ketchup and the dodecahedral apple and raspberry pie. We are all deeply, deeply indebted to her.

9) Eroica Entwhistle. Despite, in this photograph, appearing to gaze admiringly, if not lustfully, at the star of the class, Ms Entwhistle is an expert on the migratory habits of snails, has translated the works of Jilly Cooper into 17 African languages and is widely respected in the Meccano collectors community.

10) Vicus Scurra. All round good egg, confidante of and counsellor to the rich and famous, accomplished sportsman, musician and academic.

11) Ciceley Thricenightly. Exotic dancer, aardvark charmer, Phil Collins impersonator and the only woman to be a freeman of both Willoughby Waterleys and Phnom Penh.

12) Audrey Gnomesnatcher, PhD. President of the Islamic Jihad for the liberation of Carlton Curlieu, walked backwards across the Gobi to raise money for research into research. Mother of 24 children and advisor to the Gyles Brandreth Appreciation Society.

13) Rear Admiral Sir Hezekiah Amberspoon. Sixth in line to the throne of Upper Volta, handkerchief designer and lothario.

14) Guevara Cerise. Professor of Tomfoolery at Curly Howard University, East Moron, Vermont. Dancing coach to Joshua Nkomo and holder of the world record for squid balancing.

Mr Mans has been waiting for us to attend this detention since 1968. This is typical of his deep commitment to his profession. You may think that someone who did not know the correct plural of one of the most common words in the language was not a suitable candidate for head of English. However, the alternative would have been to have been taught by one of the Mr Men. Not something to mention in your university entrance application.

Mr Mans’ favoured area of study were the works of great comic writers; Dostoevsky, Milton and Barbara Cartland were the most popular authors in this category. Here he is seen expounding on the great slapstick scene “Before the Law” from “The Trial”.

If I may break out of character for a moment, I request that if you adding a comment please do not make derogatory remarks about any of the people depicted above apart from me, (unless you are in the cast list).

Yesterday I went back to my school for the first time in 41 years, and met these splendid people who were all in my year, many of whom I had not seen since, and we were able to recruit Peter Mans, one of the many outstanding teachers of my time, to re-enact those days. 

I see myself as very fortunate to have been educated here. Humanity was seen as more important than accomplishment, equality and fairness professed and practised. Being a pioneering school it attracted a very high standard of enthusiastic and committed teachers (interspersed with the occasional throwback and idiot, of course). I am very grateful to these people and in particular to my headmaster, who returned yesterday and expressed similar sentiments in a far more forceful and articulate manner than I can manage. 

That is the end of this service message. Normal nonsense will return next time.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Policy Statement

After centuries of moving in a mysterious way and shunning publicity, God has broken his silence and announced that the Universe does not need Stephen Hawking.

“Frankly, my infinite patience and mercy has been pushed beyond the fucking limit by this irritating little tit”, He exclaimed at a news conference in Swanage, attended by a select few members of the international news media. “I have gone out of my way to keep a low profile, only appearing occasionally in pizzas and half eaten Turkish Delight, but I am fed up to my back teeth of these wiseacres, wizeasses and witless wankers,” went on the Supreme Deity (6189), “were they there at the Creation? Well if they were, I didn’t fucking see them. They were no fucking help to me, with their calculations, theories and hypotheses. Have you seen the size of the fucking universe? Big, that’s what it is; very fucking big, and all my own work. Hawking can take his doctorate and shove it where the sun don’t shine – and I know where that is too, because I made the sun, and not on the fourth day either. Who do these people think they are? As if I’m going to construct a fucking universe in the fucking dark. Hot – that’s what they are, suns; take a bit of careful handling too. How many are there? Well, more than Hawking and his mates can count, I can tell you that for nothing. Twat. You have no fucking idea how much planning it took.”

Sounds of thunder could be heard.

“Hawking? He can kiss my hairy divine arse. And while we’re at it, I’m none too fond of that twat Bruce Willis. That will be all.”