Thursday, March 31, 2011

Public Service Notice

I stumbled upon this little missive that I composed several years ago. I trust that it meets your satisfaction.
I could do this sort of thing for a living, I think.

A few weeks ago I ordered by telephone two replacement filters for my ***** kettle.

On 25th February I reported to you that they had not arrived. I was called the next day with a suitable apology, and told that the goods were being despatched immediately.

I was therefore very pleased to receive a parcel from you yesterday.

Unfortunately, the parcel contained two packets of vacuum cleaner dust bags for the “Dirt Devil” model.  They do not appear to fit my kettle, and leave my chosen beverage “Mrs Arkwright’s Elderberry Herbal Infusion” with a distinctly papery taste.  I have not, as yet, experimented with my vacuum cleaner as a food preparation device, but would welcome your views as to the likelihood of the results thereof being satisfactory. It would, however, provide me with the opportunity for the first time in 20 years of consuming meals of the highest possible quality, to tell my wife that her cooking sucked.

I have opened up a little ‘book’ with a close circle of friends and neighbours to predict what will be in my next parcel.  I do not wish to restrict your imagination, but if the parcel was to contain a collection of shrunken heads of the Burmese dancing ferret, then I would be a couple of quid to the good.

I am sending this missive to the fax machine at your ****** branch, and to your email address.  Next time I will not be so conservative in the scope of my distribution list. I am not one to resort to threat, but I would point out that I do have the ear of a Mr Bush of Texas, and that a Mr Hussein of Baghdad once sent me the incorrect spare parts for my model 2976 left handed aubergine seeder.

Asterisks entered to protect the stupid.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Watch the blackboard while I go through it.

A few months ago I attended an event at my former school. I had a very nice time with old friends, and was moved to write a little treatise about education for my loyal readers here (aMToNW). Like most of my homework, I have still not finished it, and will probably end up with an E. In fact, until tonight I have not started it. Might have started once and discarded it. The dog might have eaten it. Who knows?

Anyway, when I turned on the electric radio this afternoon, the idiot Gove was on - for a very long time indeed. I do not understand why the BBC (for it was they) believed that anyone apart from Mr Gove and his family had any interest whatsoever in what Mr Gove had to say. I doubt whether his family find him interesting, in fact, but I hope that in the interests of humanity that someone is fond of him, even if he is an unlikely recipient of love.

One of the real reasons that I did not finish the essay alluded to above was the fear that I could not summarise my feelings in what is acceptable in a blog. I don’t like reading long blogs, and expect that many of us are of the “tl;dr” persuasion.

Let me try to be precise.

Gove is an arse. He knows fuck all about education. I sometimes find myself agreeing with parts of what he says, but then realise that he must be wrong because he is an arse.

My headmaster, E. Sprope, knew lots about education. He knew (belief is not a strong enough term to describe his conviction) that if you provided young people with an environment in which they were supported and encouraged, they would succeed. In essence, human beings are fundamentally good. I tried to thank him for what he had done for me, but he countered with the view that I had done it myself. To argue with him would have been to contradict his underlying principles. The smart arse.

What else do you need? Well, young Johann wrote this nice essay the other day. Have a good read. It is very good. I was tempted to steal it and present it as my own work, but you know that even if I have a quarter of  the ability to write this well, I seldom have the inclination.

To sum up, children are generally nice. If you love and respect them they will flourish, and become the sort of people we want to live among. It might be good if, during their school years, they learned a few skills to help them function in the world. Maybe stuff like being able to count, read, write, enjoy learning, present their ideas clearly, perhaps even be clever enough to expand the limits of our knowledge. Beyond that, I don’t care much. My view is that we have more than enough accountants, bankers, marketers, salesmen, entrepreneurs (some people use that word as if it is a good thing, ffs!), and Goves.

I think that was pretty much it.

*** My headmaster was not really called E. Sprope, that was his sobriquet  in our semi-underground student magazine. His name is Andrew Finch. He is by far the most intelligent person I have ever met. I hope he lives healthily and happily for at least another 90 years, and is recognised for the fine human being that he is.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Two from the top, please, Carol.

I am not altogether surprised that my recent treatise on filth attracted more comment (but only slightly) than my thoughts on the state of the universe. It seems that I have now found the level of my readership (aMToNW).

There may be some of you not familiar with the programme on the electric television called “Countdown”. (It has only been on for 25 years, Dave). It is a quaintly British institution, invented in France, where the last few dozen people in the country capable of spelling and counting compete with each other in order to win a teapot.

On Friday’s edition the competitors were required to make the longest possible word out of the letters “LAFTEINLO”. They failed miserably. The winning competitor offered “ELATION”, and Susie “that’s fantastic” Dent only managed “FLATLINE”. I saw the nine letter word immediately, and have been disappointed ever since not to hear it enunciated on mid-afternoon television.

Any commentators using the “a bit of a mouthful” comment will have 10 points deducted.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

And your homework for today is ....

This is public service posting. I am trying to limit the amount of smutty innuendo that is typically generated when a noteworthy news source broaches the subject of ‘thingy’.
The Torygraph, peace be upon it, this morning has an article about sex education in primary schools. This is a very serious subject, so let me clarify some of the points that they make to prevent an outbreak of sniggering and other generally immature behaviour. I will take the unintentionally ambiguous sections of the report in turn.


 “ … may be employing classroom materials that cover subjects such as orgasms and foreplay.”
‘Materials’ refers to printed, descriptive items. It does not mean any kind of object used to achieve orgasm. The British education system is founded upon the principles of children being denied any avenue of enjoyment, and has worked successfully on this premise for many years.


“One book for children aged just five contains cartoon images of a couple having sexual intercourse and another compares sex to skipping.
The skipping reference is entirely to do with (and you would know this if you read the entire article) the sort of activity that “you can’t do all day”.
Is that clear? There are no other similarities.
I have not skipped for over 40 years. The last time that I did, I fell over and got a nosebleed, and took several minutes to extricate myself from the rope.


“The Christian Institute – a charity that promotes Biblical teaching – said parents were being kept in the dark”.
There is nothing wrong with this. Some people are shy. How and when they conduct ‘thingy’ is entirely their own concern. On balance (no innuendo intended), it is probably better that they conduct these activities in their own homes in the dark than in full daylight in the middle of a nearby traffic island, Pamela.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Cox and Fox

Sebastian Faulks has just completed a documentary series on the electric television about literature. I watched it. It was good. He has written some books. I have read some of them. They were good. I doubt whether I will read them again. They weren’t that good.

His television series was informative and well presented, putting various aspects of the novel into context. It helped that I had read nearly all of the books he talked about. He seems to be an excellent choice as presenter - articulate and interesting.
The only slightly off-putting aspect was of the series was his habit of popping up in strange places (usually associated with the location of the novel in question) to talk to the camera. An interesting choice of locations, and probably better than an hour of him sitting on a sofa in Potters Bar.
Brian Cox’s documentary currently showing on the electric television is one quarter of the way through, and is about the universe. I watched it. It was good. He has written some books. I haven’t read them, and probably won’t.  He has been on television quite a lot, being quite photogenic as physicists go. And as physicists go on, he went on. (Thank you, H H Munro).
The programme was interesting and well presented, and at the end of it I had a better understanding of the second law of thermodynamics than I had at the beginning. Whether that will help me in my construction of my sandwich for lunch tomorrow remains to be seen.
The only slightly off-putting aspect of the series was his habit of popping up in strange places to talk to the camera - Peru, Namibia and Costa Rica for example. When you are talking about the age of the universe, you don’t really gain much by trying to measure it against human time frames, or even time frames comprehendible by the human mind, so I don’t know why he felt the need to go to these places. The sea turtles in Costa Rica shared my reservations. “Fuck off, I’m trying to lay my eggs in peace, you fucking pervert” one of them said. At least I think that is what she said – they speak Spanish with a funny accent down in Costa Rica.
Beyond that, it is difficult to compare the two programmes. The novel can give us an insight into the human condition, and stir our feelings. If we can put the writer and his times into context, it might help us to understand it better.
Despite whatever I have written about the silliness of scientists, I can be equally stirred by their pursuit of understanding, and mankind’s attempt to put his existence into perspective by considering his place in the universe. The second law, which is pretty much accepted to be quite accurate by most of the scientific fraternity postulates that the universe will eventually end. Energy will be dissipated, matter will be broken down into radiation and disappear, and there will be nothing left. The good news is that there will be lots of it. A little on the bleak side, but it won’t happen before next Tuesday, so no need to fret just yet.

Here’s what I reckon:

  • I am going to die at some stage. Probably before the end of the universe.
  • I do not have the capacity to understand the universe
  • The collective understanding of the total scientific community to date is miniscule and as likely to be seen as quaint in 200 years time as Jane Austens’ view of society is judged today.
  • There are some things, and the essence of human existence is at the core of these things, that are too beautiful and mind blowing to be conceived or understood, and we are better off experiencing them than trying to explain them. Our explanations, whether religious or secular, scientific or mystical, are incapable of even beginning to approach the utter bliss of being.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Frustrate their knavish tricks

Some of you may have formed the view that I am not always entirely of the monarchist persuasion. Some of my writings may have hinted that I would be in favour of the wall building industry, resulting walls (keep it up, padre!) being used for various sections of society being lined up against in order to facilitate the shooting thereof.

I cannot comment on these speculations, as, as you well know, I prefer not to broadcast my opinions and prejudices like some tupenny Rothermere or Murdoch.

However, you may have noticed that Andrew Saxe Coburg Gotha has been attracting some unwelcome publicity over these few days. In addition to being a not entirely gifted academic, with poor choice of spouse, reactionary views and no social conscience (these characteristics are, after all, mandatory for the British ruling classes), he has been castigated for his choice of friends.

He has apparently given lunch to a member of the deposed Tunisian dictator’s family, and now it is revealed that he is good friends with a chap who likes to play hide-the-sausage with girls who are underage.

These revelations have resulted in the level of tutting in rural Kent, Surrey and Sussex to an unacceptably noisy level.

Young Andy must be feeling quite fed up.

But now I find myself springing to his defence. The knuckle draggers in the UK Government have announced that the duke enjoys the full confidence of Mr Cameron. Talk about kicking a chap when he is down. I say “Enough is enough”. It may be time to recognise that Baron Killyleagh would not be most people’s choice as an envoy of any sort, unless you were on a campaign to address a shortage of  morons, and should be relieved of his responsibilities and left to get on with his stamp collection. However, by comparison to other members of the family, he is fairly harmless, and should not be subject to further humiliation by being labelled as a “friend of Dave”.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Two and a half minutes.

Some of you (AMToNW) will have read this morning of the attacks made by Mr Charles Sheen, a little known thespian, on the writers of a programme on the electric television in which he currently ‘stars’. He has said that the writers have used his real life activities as inspiration for some of the plots in the programme.

You might be surprised to find me in sympathy with Mr Sheen (pause for third rate puns about household polishes), but I have felt similarly exploited on several occasions. I was close to suing Ian Fleming at one point, until he agreed to introduce a less than moral lifestyle to his most famous character (no, that boy, not Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, you oaf). Despite having little interest in archaeology, there were times when I had to engage in tough dialogue with Mr Spielberg about the character of Indiana Jones.

Those of you with longer memories will remember the kerfuffle that Dave had with Granada TV about Albert Tatlock.