Friday, November 29, 2013

You have been advised.

In case you are in need of a reminder, here is a list of “festivals”* I will not be celebrating this year or any other year:

  • Thanksgiving**
  • Hanukkah
  • Christmas***
  • New Year ****
  • Eid
  • Diwali
  • Vaisakhi
  • Navnatri
  • Easter
  • Whitsuntide
  • Trooping the Colour
  • Cup Final Day
  • The excoriation of St Oswald the Perverse
  • Hallowe’en
  • Garifuna Settlement Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • The birthday of the poet Keats
  • Vientianne boat race day
  • (that's enough festivals. Ed.)

Here is a list of festivals I will be doing my best to celebrate (and I am doing quite well at the moment in this venture, thank you very much for asking):

  • Every day, and its ability to be filled with love, joy and laughter. 

Love and peace.

* i.e. Bloody silly traditions
** Am I thankful? You bet your butt.
*** It is almost December and I haven’t started work on my card yet, so am in a state of abject panic.
**** Yes, there is only one of them, you silly Americans.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dirty Protest

I was surprised to find an email this morning from someone who, as far as I can recall, I have never met. These are the contents:

If you are married and file a joint tax return, you can contribute to an IRA for your spouse in addition to your own IRA. Contributions may be permitted to either a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA regardless of whether your spouse earns any income or is eligible to participate in an employer-sponsored plan, such as a 401(k).
Generally, individuals who are unemployed are not allowed to contribute to retirement accounts such as IRAs because they do not have eligible compensation. However, there is an exception for individuals with spouses that are employed and meet certain requirements. The employed spouse is allowed to make an IRA contribution on behalf of a non-working spouse or a spouse who has little income. These contributions are referred to as "spousal IRA contributions". Here we review the eligibility requirements for making spousal IRA contributions.

Eligibility Requirements To make a spousal IRA contribution, you must meet the following requirements: 

  • You must be married.
  • You must file a joint income-tax return.
  • You must have compensation or earned income of at least the amount you contribute to your IRAs.
I replied thus:

Thank you, whoever you are, for your rather surprising invitation for me to contribute to the Irish Republic(an) Army.
While I sympathise with some of their aims, and share their disdain of colonial oppression, I am loathe to finance terrorism or violence in any form.
I am surprised you have singled me out for this attention - perhaps you are an undercover CIA operative testing to see whether my lefty tree-hugging credentials are valid. I must confirm that my position is that of pacifism compounded by abject cowardice.
Again, I am obliged for the invitation, but instead I will be investing available funds in a splendid vegetarian meal when I visit Leicester this weekend.
May I reciprocate your unsolicited invitation with some unsolicited advice? 
1) Be circumspect in your choice of political affiliation - eschew nationalists, conservatives, separatists and other loonies - it will all end badly.
2) Check email addresses before you send messages.
love and peace

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Talke Pits Development Company - AGM 2013

It is important to report the processes that underlie the success of major international organisations.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Countdown to the Royal Divorce part 27

You can imagine the sort of day that I have had.

It is no fun, I can tell you, being woken by Camilla at 5:30. At least it only happens by means of the electric telephone, I feel sorry for Charles sometimes, being woken from his dreams of Liz’s abdication by a mixture of a hacking cough, a laugh that could set concrete and flatulence that could solve the world’s energy crisis. (I refuse to visit Highgrove any more, other than for a couple of hours, the noises that one hears in the night there are nothing but echoes of what those imprisoned in the Tower must have heard in the 14th century.)

“Old grinning chops has gone into labour, darling!” She shrieked in my unprepared ear. “Just my sodding luck. We were due to go to Bridlington tomorrow, I suppose that will be cancelled now.”

“What’s so bloody special about Bridlington, you daft mare?” I asked, perplexedly.

“It’s the nearest I get to the seaside these days, darling. Fish and chips, a stroll along the prom, and with a bit of luck something hilarious like Chaz falling off a fucking donkey. I always like Yorkshire anyway, they are surprisingly deferential, ever since I told them I was related to Fred Trueman. I expect now it will be 4 hours sitting in some ghastly waiting room, while Big Ears drools over his grandchild.”

“Any clues as to whether it is male or female? I could do with nipping down to Ladbrokes to earn a couple of grand to tide me over to the weekend.”

“Dunno and don’t care, honestly darling all this fuss over a bloody baby. It’s not as if these people have anything else to do but breed. You’ve spent time at Sandringham – sod all to do apart from gawking at the locals,” (I diplomatically made no reference to in-breeding) “even Mark Phillips got a hole in one on a couple of occasions – although I think they had to put some crème-de-menthe in his Tizer and tell him he was actually riding in the 3:45 at Newmarket. Now that daft bint Zara has decided to join in too. I am so depressed – got any good stories?”

I embellished some gossip I had heard about young Armstrong-Jones and a sherry trifle, which cheered her up a bit and she rang off.

“Have you come far?” - Liz still thinks that is funny.

“Yes, all the way downstairs, you vile old bag, I’d just nodded off again after talking to Cams – it took me over 40 minutes to dispel the image of Mark Phillips and coitus from my mind”.

“They can’t think of a name you know”

“Well as they aren’t letting on whether it has dangly bits or not, then it is not surprising. I suggest they pick something androgynous, like Michael.” (I knew this would throw her off her stride.)

“She wanted to marry at the Abbey, you know, and have us all sing the Horst Wessel Lied.” It’s been 35 years, and she still isn’t over it – and I’ve heard the story from her more times than Phil has offended a foreigner.

“Well, you know what these Germans are like”, I said, and I got away with it.

“It’s going to be a boy. I insisted.” (She is starting to have delusions, poor old cow, Phil has to get up early in the morning to get his gaffs in first these days. Fortunately,  she still has this ability to make people believe that she couldn’t have possibly just said that.

“I’ll flip through Wisden and find something suitable, sweety” I assured her, although I doubt whether they are quite ready for Prince Verinder Sachin Aggers just yet.

I made my excuses, and tried to get back to bed.

“I’m at St. Mary’s!”

“Good for you, Bill, you soft bastard,” I said, trying to muster up some enthusiasm, I have little patience for his constant total lack of awareness. 
“have they found you a brain donor at last?”

“No, it’s Kate – she’s having the baby today!”

“What are you doing there then, Bill? They don’t need to take bits out of you as well, you know.”

“No, no, things are different these days, I’m going to be there all day and see the birth”

“You know what that involves, don’t you? Remember how you fainted when Alex Gloucester grazed his knee at Balmoral? It’ll be worse than that, and quite a bit of cussing I don’t doubt.”

“No, granddad won’t be there”.

“Not him, you dozy git, Kate – doesn’t matter how much paracetamol they give her, childbirth still stings a bit”

“Stop pulling my leg – I’m not young and stupid any more. Fancy coming for a pint tonight, just a few of the lads”.

“Yes, I’ll be there, Bill. You get the first 10 rounds in”. Who does he think I am?

I could tell you more, but I am a martyr to discretion. I can tell you that Phil isn’t allowed near a working telephone any more, since he got through to a Tandoori takeaway in Paddington and we had to send the Indian ambassador back to New Delhi jaldi jaldi to prevent the first nuclear war.

I did make one call – Sarah Chatto likes a bit of a laugh. I told her that the prince should marry someone with the surname “Thefootofourstairs”, and then the family name would be “Saxe Coburg Gotha Thefootofourstairs”, but she didn’t get it. I am wasted on that lot.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Blows against the Empire

I have written to the Daily Telegraph. They never publish my letters, so you will have to read it. 

My dear sir

I was delighted to read recently that you planned to introduce a subscription scheme for your on-line offerings.

I wish you great success in this venture. Please let me know when it will be introduced. 

I have enjoyed your sports coverage over the years, and have taken advantage from time to time of being able to keep abreast of current thinking in the narrow-minded nonagenarian class. 

I have to confess that, of late, I find myself increasingly less able to tolerate not only the content - the latest gibberish emanating from our lamentable government - but also the despicable bias with which you present it.

I frequently find myself regretting starting or ending the day by digesting your miserable outpourings, and you would be doing me the greatest favour by charging me for this service. Even tuppence a week would be sufficient incentive to prevent my viewing your product and thereby risking disturbing my equilibrium.

yours in fondness
love and peace


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Qui labia Isaiae Prophetae calculo mundasti ignito

I was excited to discover a link, this evening, to the outgoing pontiff, Ratty 1st. There have been times since he shot to top of the popes that I have not felt much empathy with him. As a rule my closest friends come from the general populace and are not distinguished other than by their mild eccentricity. Those seeking to thrust themselves into the public arena are not normally those with whom I choose to associate.

But I am not one to shun other humans on the basis of some circumstance or prejudice, and therefore I was gladdened to see the headline on the BBC news site that proclaimed that Benny “recalled Joy and ‘Choppy’ Waters”. I was immediately taken back to 1977, and the somewhat overcast spring day when Joy Chippendale as was, married Graham ‘Choppy’ Waters, in the registry office in Bristol.

What a wonderful couple they were, him with his ready wit, remarkable birthmark across the whole of his forehead, the slightly suspicious leer that he gave whenever pronouncing the letter ‘t’, his uncanny ability to identify any make of vacuum cleaner by its sound alone and his strange predilection that caused him to spend 3 months at HM’s pleasure that time. I will not waste your time by a detailed description of how he acquired his unusual sobriquet – you will already have deduced that, probably correctly.

Many thought them an odd couple, and could not work out what they saw in each other.

It was generally felt that Joy was one of nature’s spinsters. She had a slightly unworldly air and being cross eyed one was seldom ever sure to whom she was addressing her unique observations on the nature of existence. Before the illness that caused her to quadruple in size she had been one of the country’s leading gymnasts. After she gained weight the strange way in which her breasts were uneven became even more apparent; despite spending hours of their lives captivated by the phenomenon, I never encountered a male friend of hers who could describe exactly what it was about them that was odd.

I believe they had a happy and loving marriage, until the accident, of course. They produced a batch of strange looking offspring, I have no idea what became of them apart from Giles who emigrated to Laos. As so often happens even with dear friends we lost touch, and I miss my strolls around the park with old Choppy. I am grateful to him for some of the wisdom he imparted.
“Choppy, old guillemot,” I ventured on one occasion, “I have been thinking about life quite a bit lately”. “Scurra”, was his reply, “I think you will find that life is mainly hexagonal”. I have never forgotten that.

I do not know at which point their existence intersected with that of the Pope, not even whether it was before or after I knew them best. I find it difficult to imagine him, for example, fitting in with their friends at the time they occupied the terraced house in Salisbury, or listening to Joy’s xylophone recitals on the beach in St Tropez. But, like all of us, his life will have been enriched by knowing them. I may call in on him when all the fuss has died down and exchange stories.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A brief history of bullshit

I am obliged to my friends at BBC science for this exciting article:

It quotes Dr Joseph “Chykken” Lykken, who claims that the sky is falling. Or in more complex terms, suggests that because of the latest data derived from the ‘discovery’ of the Higgs Boson, it may be that the creation of the universe is not a one-off big bang, but a cyclical process, whereby a bubble is created in a vacuum, this bubble expands at the speed of light, somehow destroying the current universe and creating a new one. He, and his fellow hell-bound scientific friends, call this a quantum fluctuation. Those of a religious disposition (i.e. the ones who think that they are the only ones not going to hell) call this a God Fart.

All of this is no news to my dear old friends the Hindus, who have been touting this theory for years. They reckon that every 100 years of Brahma (that is quite a long time – enough time, say, for a member of the Tory party to show symptoms of compassion, or for the composition of an entertaining musical by Lloyd Webfoot),  Shiva does his dance, and the whole universe contracts to nothing and expands again.

Joe tells us not to worry about it, as the earth and the sun will be long gone by then. I wonder, what exactly, constitutes a cause for concern Chez Lykken,  if the end of the entire universe can be so lightly dismissed. Perhaps he has run out of marmalade.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Away towards Salisbury! while we reason here, A Joe Royle battle might be won and lost

It has been brought to my attention by a dear friend (a Mrs Trellis of South East London) that Richard III has been discovered playing left back for Everton.

Richard III

Leighton Baines

Interviewed by John Motson, Mr Baines, as he is known in his sporting role, discussing his most recent match, said “And thus I clothe my naked villainy with odd, old ends stol'n out of holy writ, and seem a saint, when most I play the devil. I just kicked it, and Fellaini nodded into the net, obviously. We’re up against the Tudors next – hopefully we will do good. They’ve got de Vere in midfield, who might be a bit of a handful, but we’ve got Tim Howard, Duke of  Norfolk, in goal, and he’s world class, innit?”