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.