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fine glass jars, unsung and seemingly merely utilitarian, are not available at my local Sainsbury’s. Instead they have been replaced by these plastic plagues.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”.