Saturday, August 29, 2015


It seems to me that these days a massive number of TV programmes (and surely therefore a big proportion) are just freak shows.  Some of you will just take that as read but when you haven’t paid much attention for a while like I have, er, / haven’t you start noticing these things.  OK, there’s still the Blue Peter style kid’s programme (take a bow the One Show!) - but here’s my almost off the top of my head list of Freak Show TV – Programmes where we’re basically invited to point and laugh at the freaks.  This looks like a lot of telly to me...

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (and all variants)
Britain’s Got Talent
Eurovision (I trust they’ve dropped the ‘song competition’ pretence by now)
Storage Hunters
Benefits Street (and variants)
Big Brother
Celebrity Big Brother
I’m a Celebrity
The Jeremy Kyle Show (if you weren’t really with me up to now you’ll surely have caught up and on by now!)
The Apprentice
Dragon’s Den
Benefits Britain
Don’t Tell the Bride
Embarrassing Bodies
Endless cheap documentaries about strange Americans
Come Dine With Me
Take Me Out
Blinging Up Baby
Junkfood Kids
Millionaire Matchmakers
Sex Party Secrets

Are these all real?  Well, most of them I can vouch for, some of them I’ve just been told about – I do understand the attraction – the fake concern and moral indignation of the Jeremy Kyle show is actually glorious in its massive lying hypocrisy but well, best not watch…

In a world where an actual circus freak show would be let’s say heavily frowned upon, that seems like a lot of freak shows to me.  I came up with this list pretty quickly – and I don’t really watch telly much.   

Mind you, it is a few years now I guess since the pinnacle of this stuff was reached with celebrity pig wanking.  That sounds like a joke but it was definitely on – called ‘The Farm’ I think…

Now entering Harehills Chapeltown (again)

As I often do I walked home through Harehills (Leeds) recently.  Cars pull out without indicating, yellow hatched areas, bus lanes, no right or left turn signs are routinely ignored and people wander across the road within a few feet of pedestrian crossings.  Outside the takeaway shops cars just pull onto the footpath – so you can be walking up a footpath 8 feet wide to find a car 7 feet wide just sat there in the middle of it.  It might then zoom off towards you before spinning out into the stream of traffic just missing various pedestrians who were outrageously attempting to walk on the footpath. 

I nearly had a go at one driver today but last time I did that some nut job (I guess that's an American term but I like it so I'm using it!) was outraged and threatening violence.  He explained that he had had to drive down the path because the kerb was too big for him to mount in the place where he’d wanted to drive onto the footpath - he wanted me to be grateful for the fact that he was driving along the footpath quite slowly!  Yes he was a nutter, but this victory of driver rights over everyone else’s rights is so ingrained that it never even seems to occur to people that driving on the path is a bad thing to do.  If I began to stroll down the middle of the road I’d soon be told I was doing something wrong.  And you still get the Clarksons of this world whining that there are people in power out to get them.  If only!   

Hey, here's a song!

I'd like a ladder that's 100 litres in volume please...

Come on now, all you car owners and users…how many litres of boot space do you have?  No idea?  Of course you don’t, why would you? – unless you’ve sealed all the doors and windows with waterproof tape and filled it up with cooking oil or milk (that you’ve measured in advance) or something.  I guess you might have read some manufacturers guff at some point that told you.  Thing is that if you’re thinking about buying a car and want to know whether you can get that ladder / case / wheelchair / whatever in it you can forget it.  The various manufacturers’ and other websites don’t tell you.  Even the review videos on YouTube will talk about the number of litres of space in the back of a car like it might mean something to anyone.  You can of course compare one car with another – so you might find out that one amount of space measured in an utterly pointless way is bigger or smaller than the equivalent amount of space measured in the same utterly pointless way in another car – but it won’t tell you if you can get that actual physical thing in the damned car!

Actually, if you search for disability websites they can be some help in telling you if you might get a wheelchair in for example and they will give you some actual measurements in feet and inches or centimetres – but they seem to work by you putting in how big your wheelchair is and searching to find a car that will fit it.  But they tend not to let you search for the car you want and then see if a particular thing will go in it.  

So for me it was old school - as it often is.  Get the measurement of the thing and turn up to the car showroom with a tape measure to see if it'll fit.  I forgot the tape measure.  So in the modern super-duper everything on-line interconnected information age I’m measuring a boot in terms of how many lengths of A4 paper it is (I happened to have some on me) – so, I know I have 2 lengths of A4 and about a couple of inches in that particular car.  I then  measure the paper and compare that to the measurement I’ve been given of the actual thing when I get home…

You’d think that in this ‘competitive’ market some manufacturer might break ranks and try to provide this information in a way that was helpful to potential customers, but this is one small example of where the convenience of the manufacturer trumps the needs of the consumer.  And they all do it – no-one seems to have provided useful information even by accident.  This is the kind of thing that leads me to never understand how people can apparently take pleasure in buying stuff.  Mind you, this is a small example.  More to come!

Sunday, July 05, 2015

LIDL by LIDL I'm losing my love for you...

Just did a bit of shopping in LIDL.  As I left the woman on the till said 'hey, have a great day'.  I should have said 'my day was going ok thanks, until some mad woman in a supermarket threw all my shopping at me'.

I have heard of branches of LIDL where they don't throw your shopping at you but at the one in Gipton in Leeds it's clearly what they're told to do - throw it at the customer no matter what the item is ignoring the logistics of actually getting it out of the till area - and the size of the till area.  And the mood of the customer faced with a mad person throwing jars at them.

I may be becoming paranoid but it seems to me that there's a tendency for firms to think that they're doing you a big fat favour by allowing you to be their customers.  More on this at some point...  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Salad daze

Dear Bloggeteers

I've just joined the Green Party - Hurray for me. I'm feeling rather pleased with myself. Now I'll have to start going to meetings and badgering people and stuff though (not badgering in the sense of culling mind). Hopefully / probably. First up, I'd like everyone's human rights respected please - whadda hippy! But I'm a no nonesense punk hippy...

It's all very idealistic and nothing will change and all that - but it's a tiny move in the right (or rather libertarian left) direction.  I'm not embarrassed about it.  We can start (he says like he started the Green party hisself this morning...) by trying to get a couple more Green Councillors elected to Leeds City Council.  An MP would be good.  If we all whatever it is together we can do whatever it is we want to do - a bit.  See, an election winning slogan and I only joined a few minutes ago.  Inspired by the election...


Sunday, April 26, 2015

News from the future...

Got cross with the Blathersphere and its madness again on Friday to the extent that I bothered to complain to the BBC's 'Feeedback' programme yesterday...

Dear BBC Feedback,

Re reporting of Ed Miliband and the deaths in the Mediterranean...

Yesterday the Today programme spent some time reporting on something that a politician was apparently going to say later in the day.  It then went on to report on the reaction from the other parties to the thing that the politician was apparently going to say later in the day.  Later in the day other BBC news programmes reported what the politician had said and the various reactions to it.  Apparently the politician didn’t say exactly what he was expected to say (and that we’d been told he would say) and there were therefore further reports about the fact that the politician had said something slightly different later in the day to what it was said he was going to say when reported earlier in the day.

Might I suggest that news should perhaps be about things that have actually been said or have actually happened?   Or would that be a bit stuffy and old fashioned?

Yours sincerely

John Parkes

Sunday, January 25, 2015

It's been a while...

It's been a while since the last post (cue bugle).  That isn't to say that nothing has annoyed me or that I haven't noticed anything happening in the world but more that I've been doing other stuff - writing new songs for recording soonish for one thing...and recently sending emails to festival organisers saying 'put me on at your festival mate, oh go on!'   Must put some more songs on here for their delectation...

Mind you the internet hasn't half been full of blather recently.  Can it really be even worse than it was or have I just been paying more attention?  Perhaps not writing posts has been my contribution to my private campaign to stop idiots writing nonsense about stuff - Je suis Charlie Muslim, blah blah I don't have a clue, I've got an opinion on everything which I've formed from one email about a petition, how dare Live Aid raise money as people would (apparently) rather die than be patronised or be called 'African' by 'the West', I know everything about Ched Evans, the Daily Mail reports that his fiance paid their taxi fare recently, the Metro still can't spell and...oh, SHUT UP SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!!!  And that was all in another time far far away weeks ago... 

But I've been busy, or my opinion would be here just as useless as everyone else's self righteous, self important self regarding ignorant blather. 

But on the plus side I do have tickets to see Father John Misty!  And 999!   

Saturday, October 11, 2014


When I was a kid I used to think that packaging (and other aspects of the world, but that’s a different matter...) were in a constant state of continuous improvement.  In other words manufacturers would work out what worked (for consumers I naively thought) and packaging would get easier and simpler to use as time went on.  It turns out that’s not true.

This morning I’ve half pulled a finger nail off trying to prize open a cardboard box full of Becks (more rock and roll than lawnmowers eh readers?), completely failed again to find any way of using the strip of sticky tape stuff attached to bags of ground coffee, got orange juice all over and failed to open a yoghurt.

Orange juice first.  I used to be able to open Tescos cheap orange juice – you ripped or cut the top and you were in!  You just had to be a bit careful not to squeeze too hard or to spill any.  Then they introduced their 'irony range' of packaging.  Somebody was surely having the smirk of their lives when they persuaded their Tesco bosses to call the new cartons ‘easy open, easy pour’ - because the plastic bit has to be pushed down so hard to open it orange juice always squirts out, and pouring only becomes possible without a dishcloth or kitchen roll when it’s about ½ empty. 
Beer – some types of beer come with semi-serrated bits on the box with a tab to pull which sometimes works (a bit like the ones that virtually never work on tissue boxes) but otherwise there just doesn’t seem to be a way of opening apart from pulling one of the end tabs with massive angry force.

Coffee – Not only is the ‘cut here’ mark always slightly higher than the place where you actually have to cut the bag to open it but there is simply no way of using the bit of tape to reseal the bag when you’ve just opened it - it’s still too full and the tape isn’t long enough or sticky enough.  When it’s mostly empty the rolled up bit of bag is too springy to be held down by tape of any sort and by then the tape has got coffee and other bits of stuff on it so as to render it stick free anyway.  There may be a sweet spot about half way down the bag but I’ve never found it.  I use clothes pegs.

And if you were wondering about that yoghurt - I stabbed it with a big knife!
Thing is that I'm sure package manufacturers have design people.  Presumably they either employ idiots or they ignore what they advise in favour of keeping costs down...


There was a recent ‘What’s on TV’ competition to “Win Theatre Tokens with EyeBar – the first ever chocolate bar enriched with nutrients that are great for your eyes”. We have 3 first prizes of £100 theatre tokens with 10 runners up get to try EyeBar for themselves!”

So, yes…win theatre tickets with chocolate that’s good for your eyes.  It says here that “It has been shown that taking a vitamin supplement for eye health can help improve eye health by 26%. EyeBar contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin, all in a delicious tasting dark chocolate bar…So if you find taking tablets a bit of a chore, try EyeBar – what can be better – a chocolate bar that is good for your eye health!”

Here’s an obvious question – how do you know if your eye health has been improved by 26%?  Or if it’s declined by the same amount for that matter - how can the health of any part of your body be measured in percentage terms? And what constitutes ‘health’ in this context anyway – seeing better?  I suppose that’s what’s implied but not what it says of course…

I know that everyone knows that adverts are nonsense, it’s just what’s expected from marketing twads - but this one is so clearly nonsense that I find it makes me cross!  However, I do rather enjoy the fact that someone has come up with a completely ludicrous idea and actually taken it so far as to produce an actual product – You can’t make a product like this without going through quite a complicated process – and apparently at no stage did anyone say ‘this is a bonkers idea good for a laugh down the pub but surely we’re not going to actually make this stuff’. 

Perhaps ‘Eyebar’ (or is it EyeBar?) doesn’t actually exist in real life…Maybe it’s part of some secret government gullibility test to see if anyone actually thinks that their eyes will be 26% better if they eat loads of chocolate with ‘vitamins and nutrients’ with what might well be made up names in them. 

But before I finish this post here are a few free ideas for new products…

Foot sausages – or ‘Fosages’ - sausages containing the vital vitamins and nutrients to keep your feet healthy.

Shoulder biscuits?  ‘Showcuits’ – contains the vitamins and nutrients your feet need to be 17% healthier…

Mouth cabbage? 

Spunk trifle?  We could call that one Spifle – Contains nutrients and vitamins…you know the story by now…

Ban the car!

I became a pedestrian again recently.  This reminded me of several things…

1.    For the most part drivers can’t be arsed indicating, particularly when exiting a roundabout – most seem to think they’re ‘going straight on’ as if their particular car has been the centre of the pedestrian’s attention for the last few minutes

2.    Drivers often don’t indicate for left turns – and many just don’t bother to indicate at all

3.    Pedestrians are invisible to car drivers

4.    Car drivers don’t indicate for other road users only other cars or vehicles bigger than themselves

5.    All the schemes in the world to encourage people to ride bikes will fail until bike lanes have curbs that stop chumps driving in them

6.    Car drivers have no idea what the hatched yellow lines in the middle of a junction might be for

7.    Car drivers find it OK to park not only near the end of a road but right round the corner of it

8.    Car drivers open their doors onto the pavement without looking to see if anyone is using the footpath

9.    Cars park on grass verges

10. Cars park on footpaths

11. Cars park in bike lanes, especially near schools

12. Drivers like to wave you across roads into the path of traffic they haven’t noticed

13. Very many pedestrian crossings wait until all the pedestrians have eventually got across the road before the lights change

14. Car drivers still think it’s OK to drive through red lights so long as they accelerate through the pedestrian crossing and / or they’re one of the first 4 cars through

15. No-one car shares

16. There are far too many people driving cars
There are far too many other problems for me to bother listing them here - see previous posts!

Revive Chuck!

I’d like to tentatively (and perhaps optimistically) suggest that a rock and roll revival may be along soon.  On what to I base this?  Well, there have been a couple of rock and roll (by which I mean proper 1950s rock and roll) records on 6 Music recently.  OK, that’s not a lot of evidence…Though the reason I’ve noticed this is that I’ve been listening to a pile of mainly Chuck Berry songs recently – but also Buddy Holly (though not strictly rock and roll in the way I mean it I guess) and I re-discovered what an absolutely fabulous record (with a fabulous sound) Rock Around the Clock is.  And every few months I have to play my 7 inch of Jungle Rock, try to dispel images of Pan’s People (or ‘Legs & Co’ possibly) on Top of the Pops and just well, get blown away at how great it sounds – and how simple.  It also reminds me that great lyrics are not always necessary in the making of a truly great record.

But Chuck Berry is the man for me…everything rock and roll is in Chuck Berry and in many ways he did everything first and everything best – until the Beatles also did everything first and everything best!  OK, I exaggerate slightly.  Oddly, after my comments about Jungle Rock Chuck Berry’s lyrics are mostly fab – clever and knowing and real and arch – with clever little twists and ways of saying things without it being obvious.  See ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’ as a euphemism for black for example and suddenly the politics is clear.    And ‘No Money Down’ features a list of features for a car (a ‘jet off take’ anyone?) demanded by a woman.  In the 1950s!  I could go on, I’m sure there’s loads of stuff on-line about the man.

So, yes, in tweet style…there should be a rock and roll revival and Chuck Berry is great!

For the scandal minded I checked out what I could find online about that whole video cameras in the country club toilets thing from a few years back - Nothing in particular to report...But of course I'm not one of those people that think only virtuous people can make great records anyway.  But it does seem that a few people have been out to get him for being black and successful over the years... 

Oh and while I'm on, check out the Hollies version of 'Too Much Monkey Business' - a great version of a great song!  There are loads of great Chuck Berry songs and you can get CD compilations of piles of originals for next to nothing.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Must write a stiff letter...

I read a copy of the Telegraph this weekend (didn't buy it you understand...)  I knew that newspapers were in trouble but I hadn’t quite realised how thin the content actually was these days .  Half of the articles in the various sections of the paper seemed to be sponsored by or perhaps ‘in association with’ which seems to be the preferred name for adverts masquerading as news or articles. 

I’ve never been a big fan of the Telegraph and I always found the anti-European stuff completely bonkers for a start (was it Freddie Forsyth they had in, all foaming at the eyes with imaginary stories about ‘Brussels’ etc?) but it all seemed a bit desperate - and sad really. 

There were a few proper news stories I guess but by pages 2 / 3 we had this...
  • Virtually a half page feature on a missing cat
  • A piece about a snake eating cats (possibly)
  • A story about molehills (making a page 3 news story out of a molehill I guess)
  • A piece about the maternal instincts of women extending to pets
and my favourite –
  • a ‘news’ story that explaining that Jeremy Paxman “has hit out at ‘morons’ for leaving bags full of dog mess at a beach he was visiting”
This story was in Waitrose Weekend magazine apparently – I bet the editor of the Telegraph was spitting blood on discovering they’d missed that particular doggie poop scoop.  Helpfully they also explained who Jeremy Paxman was, who he used to wrok for, when he retired etc.  I’d read in Private Eye that the Telegraph had sacked most of its journalists but if you don’t experience things for a while you really notice how they’ve changed.  I thought the Metro was shoddy because it was put together by students (and is at least free) – but the Telegraph?! – Blimey.  Must write a stiff letter to Waitrose Weekend magazine…