Saturday, October 14, 2023

How many servings?

4 people for tea, that’ll be a full packet of fish fingers.  My memory tells me that there’s 12 in a packet.  Always been 12 in that size box.  But now it’s 10.  What a useless number.  12 divides by 1,2,3 and 4 – so that’s quite a good spread of the number of people you might be feeding.  Or 4 meals for 1.  Or 2 meals for 2.    10 divides by 1 and er 2.  So assuming that most people will have 3 fish fingers it’s a shit number. I’m intrigued as to how many ‘servings’ they say that is.  Turns out it’s ‘approximately 3’ – it says so on the packet.  Without a ‘I mean, I know, right?  What are we like?!’

So it’s 2 ½ fish fingers each.  Shrinkflation.

On a similar theme I think the 1 Kg tubs of chocolates they’ve been shrinking down for years have finally reached the 500g I’ve been predicting.  


 Look out folks – “Your station gateway is transforming”.  This is a sign at Leeds railway station.  What can it mean?  Building work is what it means.  Accompanied by fences, cones, temporary walkways, barriers, kerbs and all sorts of general mayhem making it pretty impossible not to walk in front of cars.  Of the 5 words in that sign 2 seem to be useable in the sense of er, sense.  ‘Station’.  Yes, OK, you can have that one.   ‘Is’, OK, yes, OK in context that too.  But what can ‘your station gateway’ mean?  Do I have a station?  Do you have a station? Do we as a collective have a station?  I suppose we kind of do.  The station maybe.  I’d say ‘railway station’ though ‘train station‘ seems to have taken over.  But what is a ‘station gateway’?  Is it different to a station?  Is it a thing in itself or does it mean the gateway to the station?  But wouldn’t that be the entrance to the station?  Is it a ticket barrier (have they stopped using the phrase ‘revenue protection barrier’?  For the sake of taking the piss I hope not, for the sake of sanity I hope so).  

I fear that a ‘station gateway’ is indeed a concept.  A ‘destination’ as they say.  Translated as a ghastly shopping centre you have to endure on your way to a train.  The way the railways are ‘invested in’ by adding cafes and food places rather than actual trains.   

It's also ‘transforming’.  Do we stand and watch?  Is it doing it without help (as in transforming rather than being transformed) – and why is that different to ‘being changed’.  It seems that nothing can be changed or adjusted these days, it has to be ‘transformed’.  Hence the CEO or head of a charity or college or whatever who joins, has a massively expensive re-structure, decides on a hugely expensive vanity project then moves upwards before the shit hits the fan having ‘transformed the organisation into a basket case.  Maybe the station will transform into a big monstery truck or something?  

In the case of what will surely amount to adding some shops to the station making the trains really difficult to get to (I expect they think the modern St Pancras is a good thing) I guess the folly will lie in the modern buildings that will look smart for 3 or 4 years before the rust stains and damp patches appear and they get demolished 25 years later to make way for a similar building a few hireable floors higher.  And God help us if they still that fashion of putting some plant pots in the walls so they can use the word ‘green’, or even worse ‘sustainable’, in the publicity.  Gets it past the Council maybe until the plants all go in the bin 18 months later when the initial maintenance budget runs out.  For the moment it’s just a mess… 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Just give us yer money and **** off

 Why do companies act like they’re doing you a big favour by you giving them money?  And why do we have to do their work for them?

I’ve been filling in a form so that Royal Mail can swap my stamps to the new version with a barcode on – and hey, they’re much bigger so they’ll use more paper – great!  I have to Google what NVI stands for, find out how much the stamps currently cost (the answer is between 2 and 3 times what you’d expect), tot it all up, fill in a form, post it off and wait for replacements.  They give ‘examples’ of the kind of stamps that you can ‘swap out’ which, aside from the fact that they should provide a proper list not some examples doesn’t mention large letter stamps (surely quite common ones?) unless you search about.  All for their convenience it seems.  So they can provide innovative new products apparently and ‘improve security’.  Having used up a lot of my time.  Mm…

And while I’m on if you can be bothered check out the tangle about whether they’ve extended the deadline for ‘swapping out’ and using old stamps.  It’s something to do with the fact that they’re giving you more time but not extending the deadline.  By the way, are there other products you buy and are then forced to use by a certain date by the company that provided them?  Perhaps their management is a bit rubbish now half of them are in jail after the Horizon scandal.  Oh hang on…

Similarly, I do a big shop in Morrisons and how many tills do they have open?  The answer is none.  That’s Zero, not even a tobacco kiosk with a queue of 25 people.  When asked most people will guess that they only had one or two and that there was a massive queue while the supermarket has several staff floating round the self-service bit to sort out all the times it goes wrong and generally to make sure we’re not trying to rip them off in retaliation for ripping us off (we’ve all been wondering how increased energy costs doubles the cost of a particular product over a few months – I particularly notice the price of tinned grapefruit nearly doubling – presumably because of the closure of the Ukrainian grapefruit farms or something?) So it’s zero and I have to do it all myself with a massive queue behind me.  When the machine says I need a member of staff (to  check I’m over 18 it seems) I have to walk round half the shop looking for someone.  Similarly I key in ‘bananas’ (why am I going through menus on a screen just so I can give them my money?) and it says to place them in ‘the weighing area’.  I turn around to ask the queue if they know what that means.  No-one does though one bloke says ‘I think there might be on over there mate’.  Finally the single member of staff who’s looking after the entirety of the checkouts comes over and plonks the bananas down in what you or I might know as ‘the bagging area’. 

In other areas (let’s say gig and event tickets) the people selling you the tickets think it’s OK to insist that you have a working / charged phone that you must use (and no, you’re not allowed to print anything out) and in order to buy a ticket (for someone else in this case) you must sign up and have a ‘digital wallet’ in their app.  If you want to give someone a ticket as a present in some physical form just forget it – have a smartphone, have it charged, have reception, pay to use it, sign up to them, give them your money and **** right off, OK? I mean everyone has a phone right?  And no-one would ever need a back up in case they had no power or reception or their phone was lost or stolen would they?  That never happens. 

So…here I am resentful again about the set of so and sos who just want my money and seem to think I should do half their job for them, be grateful and just sod off.  

Thursday, October 13, 2022

It's still kicking off but not so much on here...

 If anyone was wondering, I am still getting wound up by the petty (and larger) madnesses of the world but they all seem so widespread and obvious that I don't think you need me to point them out.  I'm tending to put my blistering and eloquent ripostes to nonsense on Facebook replying to posts mostly on the following subjects:

1.  Conspiracy loons.  Especially re the moon landings.

2.  Related to this are the 'here's a picture of a UFO, re-write history, ancient aliens, this is obvious proof of [insert nut-job theory here]' people.  They freely use the term UFO without realising that the U means ‘unidentified’ as they’ve always identified them (as spaceships piloted by ‘aliens’ of a particular narrow type they assume exists).  The ‘UFOs’ can be ‘thousands of miles across’ and yet they’re the only people who have spotted them – just before ‘NASA cut the feed’… This soon bleeds into the religious nutcases.  I actually usually manage to not engage with them.       

2.  Anti-sciencers and anti-vaxxers - though they seem a bit quieter at the moment in my 'recommended for you' feed.

3.  Related to 2 are the people being oppressed / having their civil liberties being taken away from them by being politely asked if they'd wear a mask in the shop please.  You'd have thought the whinging crybabies were being shot at or something.  They’re all heroes to themselves too.  Oh yes and they were all about to be carted off to 're-education centres' they couldn't locate or identify in any way too.  Also they have no idea that George Orwell was a Socialist..

4.  Strangely there were also HS2 people - and I'm not even particularly against HS2.  But it was the people who couldn't believe that anyone had any points against it people that pissed me off.  And the fact that they wouldn't actually admit that the Leeds bit of the route had been cancelled.  In fact they were so obtuse that I suspected that they were either bots or Putin's IT monkeys monkeying about.

5.  Oh and there are the 'right meets left and you can't tell the difference' people - generally the Jewish / capitalist conspiracy and 'all Israeli's are evil militaristic racists because of the Palestinians' people.  And the paedophile elite people too. I'm talking about the ‘millions of children being murdered by Hillary Clinton’ types.

6.  The people who post pictures of diesel trucks rescuing electric cars as if this shows that electricity is an inherently rubbish power source while diesel (and coal of course) are great.

7.  Finally, (this is mainly on YouTube from what I've seen) - the 'Paul is dead and was replaced' people.  Despite it being so obviously and blindingly clear that you can't just replace someone like that, believe it or not there are still people claiming that the Paul we know and love today is 'Faul' (Fake Paul y'see).  They appear to be genuine in their beliefs - all that 'his ear looks a bit weird in that picture and the obvious implication is that it's not him at all but the winner of a (unspecified) look-alike competition’ or something.  This is the one that's so mad that you'd think anyone could resist commenting.  But not me.  I'm trying not to. 

8.  Almost forgot the ‘make up your own reality / I just took some pictures of inter-dimensional beings that I decided I’d believe in because I like the idea’ people’.  One showed me some pictures of ‘orbs’ (that look just like dust lit up by a flash’) as proof. 

10.  Oh yes – then there’s the seemingly clever memes that don’t mean anything or that appear to show that something that’s demonstrably not true is true.   

So…my conclusions are:

1.     Facebook feeds you stuff that it thinks will annoy you so you’ll engage

2.     It seems likely that a lot of the posters aren’t really real (have a look at their profiles and notice the lack of friends / posts on other subjects and the like

3.     A lot of this stuff is just clickbait and not an actual person with an actual opinion.

I’m an idiot for taking the bait and arguing with bots and idiots and idiot bots…


Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Harry Bennett!


I’ve been listening to Alan Bennett (Untold Stories) on an old CD-R someone copied for us.  If you find some faux Bennett er, thingies in this (never having quite got the measure of parody or, more accurately never quite having found a style of my own) er, that’ll be the reason.  My ‘partner’ (following AB, I hereby explain that I’ve never been comfortable with this description - AB would have a more accurate word there and the punctuation would also be better.  Not married and being a couple of decades past the word ‘girlfriend’ I use it, but it smacks of what feels like part of the modern trend towards the inaccurate use of words).  Not being AB I have to repeat so as not to get lost…ahem, my partner goes to a local community café place to find it closed as one of the royal princes has come to shake hands with the goats that they have in the yard or something.  I expect that if the question occurs as to whether the café serves curried goat (if he’s ever heard of such a thing) he won’t ask it.  I guess it’ll be William and not Harry.  Their ubiquity in the news ensuring that my ignorance of which was who which I carried as a badge of republican honour for years means that I’m pretty sure that Harry is in America suing Oprah Winfrey or selling candles or something.

This makes me ponder one of those questions that are sometimes posed by columnists in right-wing newspapers.  Or were anyway.  A random memory from a long time back along the lines of ‘if we don’t have a monarchy who could we possibly have as a president?  President Hattersley?!’ (the now very veteran Labour politician) being the guffawing riposte which doesn’t sound so stupid now.  I was wondering who would be good as a ceremonial head of state and if say 15 years ago President Attenborough had been suggested wouldn’t he have done?  Shirley Williams (another veteran labour person) would have worked too I think.  Or president Ken Clarke?  The point is that you can actually find these people and surely it’d be better than having people who are there simply via having a tenuous connection to some warlord from a thousand years ago.  

I say tenuous.  When ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ did comedian Josh Widdecombe they found a connection to ‘the royal family’ and as you might expect went on about it at some length.  A quick calculation (by me, not them, I guess it’s the kind of thing that either didn’t occur or would have seemed churlish to mention, royal connections still being positive things in the modern world) quickly revealed that there were nearly 1,000 other people he was descended from (working this out by going 2 parents, 4 grand parents, 8 grand-grand parents and so on).  I guess royal families are more in-bred but it does seem weird that we get someone who is ‘royal’ due to them having a very vague connection to the thieves, tyrants and warmongers of yesteryear round to fondle our good clean Northern goats.  We are very backwards and old fashioned – bring on the eighteenth century!   

A Sadness of Wasps

 Wasps eh?  Never liked them much.  In fact I’ve always been one of those people jumping and flailing and running when one appears.  ‘Just keep still’ never cut it with me and I still want someone else to deal with one if it appears.  So over last summer we saw dozens of the little blighters flying into a hole in the side of the house – seemingly into the space between a skylight and the (relatively) new ceiling in the downstairs toilet.  So what to do?  And what does it reveal about oneself?

First thought – ‘I’ve got some anti wasps nest power somewhere’ – ‘you flick it about like you’re about to do an old fashioned lady armpit shave and they er, go away’.  ‘Or die or something’.  

The second thought is something like ‘but what would Chris Packham say?’ This backed up by a recently memory of him on the telly talking about wasps being really useful and amazing and all that mixed in with a bit of ‘who are we to kill them?’

So we decide that since they aren’t really bothering us (apart from a reported buzzing in the ceiling which leads me to abandon downstairs toilet use amid visions of huge wasps nests crashing through the ceiling and being engulphed in 100 million angry toilet wasps) we can probably just leave them and they’ll er, go away.  They buzz about and in the autumn they’ll die off and go away and apparently they don’t come back to the same place.  OK, we’ll do that. 

The plan seems to work.  Weeks pass and one day we find a small dead wasp on the stair carpet.  No idea where it’s come from except that it’s unlikely to have come from outside as we don’t generally have windows open when it’s not high summer (don’t get me started on those people who leave their radiators on just below open windows on cold days).  For about 2 months we find 2 or 3 small, not quite dead wasps in the hall and on the stairs.  We assume there’s a small hole in the cupboard that the odd one gets through from the space over the toilet (maybe this is how evolution works, except in this case the brave adventurous squeezy hole-y wasps find the carpet and not a new and productive place to fly to to breed the next generation).  But it’s been a mild Autumn, they’ll be gone soon surely?  November comes around and the number of small, drowsy wasps on the floor (or on the window initially followed a few hours or a day or so later by an unseen slump to the floor) remains consistent.  They’re small and, partly due to them not flying, and partly I think being only a bit bigger and slightly more curvy than hover flies (which I don’t mind – why is the curve of a wasp so disturbing?!) I don’t find this too bad.  And someone else is clearing them up and dumping them in the bin, though I shudder on the odd occasion I’ve had to do it myself using a dustpan and brush for distance, the use of a piece of kitchen roll being far too close a contact for me.   

One of the worst parts of this whole thing is the musing on life and death and what it teachers you about yourself.  I don’t learn that I don’t like wasps or don’t like clearing up dead things (or worse, nearly dead things) but I do realise that I’d much rather let them die than kill them.  Somewhere there’s a voice telling me to ‘finish them off it’s the kindest thing to do’.  But I’m happier letting them writhe, buzz, expire, buzz a bit more and then actually expire than I am intervening with a shoe or fly swat or spray (that we don’t actually have) or newspaper (that we also don’t really have) or whatever.  Who am I to kill them?  But who am I to rescue them?  That seems to be what I should do – get them outside where they can quickly die in the cold?  These particular wasps seem more sympathetic than most.  They’re small, they not flying, they’re not landing on you and stinging you when you brush them off not realising that they’re there.  And Chris Packham has explained that they’re not the bad guys that we may have been led to believe.  Wood pigeons good, pigeons in town ‘flying rats’, red squirrels good, grey ones bad, bees good wasps bad, rats bad, hamsters good, roses good, nettles bad, slugs bad, ladybirds good – who can keep up with the value judgements of the householder or gardener?       

The last week in November comes and I come in late at night to find a big, scary, curvy wasp flying round the light bulb I’ve just switched on.  I shiver, turn the light off and run away upstairs.  It’s found in a similar state to the smaller ones in the morning – but this bigger one takes longer to die and even when it is apparently dead it might not be.  So it gets left and eventually gets cleared away by someone else after I’ve jumped around the hall or up 2 stairs at a time to ignore it.  

Then as if to some sort of schedule another lone, large wasp appears bouncing round the window with what appears to be loads of energy which soon dissipates and it ends up on the floor.  Then another and another.  One or two a day (don’t panic there is no dramatic climax to come here – so far anyway).  It’s now a week into December and still they come.  Today there’s one on the bedroom window which I bravely try to steer out with a magazine though it won’t stay on it and I fail.  Last seem crawling across the bedroom carpet heading for the landing.  I’ve taken to looking in my shoes before putting them on now.  I hear that these big wasps might be ‘queens’ or something – but how many does a wasps nest have?  On the way out of the house I occasionally have a look round to the hole they’ve been going in and out of.  Quiet.  Until next time when there are a dozen wasps flying around.  Kind of hoping for a hard frost over a few days.  At some point maybe in February when I’m more confident that they’re dead I’ll gum up the hole.  Might even peer through the top of the toilet skylight expecting to see an intricate nightmare world of (hopefully) abandoned wasps’ nest.  Which will be left as far too scary to move.  The skylight hasn’t been opened for decades so it’d probably break if it were opened.  Honest.   

But nowadays when I see one on the floor I take to musing on life and death and thinking ‘poor little bastard’ (not quite reaching as far as ‘poor little thing’, though they do seem a bit pathetic) and I think that gently expiring on a carpet in a warmish house just running out of energy probably isn’t that bad a way to die.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Is the power still connected?

A bit of post in the hall and the pot plants need a water but the old blog / website seems to be still here after not updating for a while.  Mainly here due to having a gig coming up - Saturday 30th October at the Thunderbolt in Bristol supporting the Cud band.  Tempted to drone on about the government, anti-vaxxers, people parking on all the footpaths and other assorted nonsense but maybe on another occasion...

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

It's a bit dusty in here...

Looks like there's not been much posting round here recently.  Partly this is because I think I've moaned about most of the things I most obviously want to moan about - and perhaps partly being worn out and worn down by all the on-line nonsense where you have to pick a side and a party line and if you get it wrong even down to a tiny slice of inexactitude everyone piles in and it tires you out.  Not that I've suffered from a lot of that myself I guess though I am sick of that internet thing 'you'll never guess what this person said, click here'.  I'm still pissed off by people parking on the footpath and all the rest but fed up with 'engagement' i.e. being wound up.    

Anyway...I guess it just hasn't felt like I've had the time to come on here and go on about stuff.  I've written and partly recorded a load of songs with my mates Simon Smith and Alaric Lewis as The Sunny Smiles Three and so some effort will be re-directed there.  We're at

There may well be some updates on there otherwise you can find me on Facebook - You can also find the Sunny Smiles Three there

And there are loads of videos either already up or on their way to 

You never know, I may get a renewed enthusiasm for posting but I'm guessing that there won't be much...