Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Made it Ma - top of the world!

Well, who’d have thought? You can now get the Illegal Songs album by John Parkes from Tescos!
http://www.tesco.com/entertainment/product.aspx?R=831977

Just wait until I make the checkouts in your local Tescos Metro! You may have to kill me if I haven't killed myself.

Shorts, scissors and a latex glove

Well, swimming bath changing room stories (or Locker Room Tales for American readers) have been a bit thin on the ground lately. So today comes as a refreshing change. Assuming ‘refreshing’ is the correct word. Which it isn’t.

Anyway, in the changing room I found myself stood next to a man in cotton boxer shorts who, I assumed was just getting dressed after swimming. He then proceeded to walk into the shower with the boxer shorts still on. I should add that there was no way that these could’ve been swimming trunks. Wrong design, material, everything. I had to use the shower next to him. Then, said shorts were dramatically stretched to allow washing 'front and back' while he was still wearing them. I think I’ve mentioned this before. ‘Just whip ‘em off lad’ I felt like saying, ‘no-one’s watching’. This would never do of course and isn’t true (i.e. people are watching, hence me relating this story). Mind you when the man’s son took off across the changing room heading for the lockers armed with a pair of scissors it was another unrelated man who intervened to say 'your little lad's just run off with some scissors' or words to that effect.

Eventually boxer shorts man left the shower. The moment he did so, another man stood immediately next to me on the other side wearing a latex glove on one hand. Thus is provided almost a text-book definition of the phrase 'faintly disturbing'.

Back to the pool

I should have mentioned that along with the deodorant / body spray / shower gel (i.e. soap with water added at your expense) that smells of toffee pudding and popcorn and the like there’s also the sort that smells of mouthwash / toothpaste. I think we should all avoid both kinds.

However, on the subject of the advisability or otherwise of backing up to the shower and using the part of ones back between the shoulder blades to turn the shower on I’m not decided.

Silly names for buildings

What is this thing with giving buildings silly names? ‘Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber’ (in itself a silly name – what kind of river needs an office?) is based in a place called ‘Lateral’. I’ve seen it referred to as ‘the Lateral Building’. This sounds like someone who still has some sense of the use of language trying to make the best of a bad job. Its real name is however ‘Lateral’. This will date it at least as precisely as ‘Mafeking Terrace’ or whatever.

On Burley Road in Leeds (and I really am not making this up) you may find ‘Concept Place’ directly opposite ‘Opal One’. These are not of course abstract concepts somehow made concrete and plonked in the physical world but cheap blocks of student flats. They’re exactly like the 60s ones that everyone agrees were horrid. Actually, that’s not quite true because they have bits of funny shaped metal attached to them at regular intervals. They’re painted in lilac and green and have holes in (the metal bits that is). This makes them completely different to the 60s type blocks obviously. Mind you, the rust marks that have already appeared look broadly similar. If I live another 30 years I shall be able to say ‘I told you so’. Mind you, the whole of Leeds city centre is the same. Who’d have thought that the mistakes of the 60s and 70s would be digested in the 80s, demolished in the 90s and built again in the 2 thousands (no, I’m not going to say ‘noughties’ thank you).

Me, I’m off to live on Deep Space Nine.

Shoes

I was made to go in a shoe shop today. I felt physically ill and had to leave. Couldn't get out of people's way fast enough. Not only were there too many people, but they were mostly the type of women who are especially interested in buying shoes. The ones with their brains removed. Who consequently not only like shopping but also shoes.

Then a bizarre twist - turns out that at least some of the women in the shop were actually the Ladyboys of Bangkok. They're here to do a show in Leeds it would seem. But how do I know these were the ladyboys out shoe shopping? That's an interesting question - one just knows these things...

Brains removed maybe, but not everything.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

X-scape to Cas-Vegas

Hey, I visited ‘X-Scape’ near Castleford for the first time last weekend. It turns out to mostly be a vision of hell on earth. Very like when you have to stop at a motorway services and it looks like there’s been some sort of major disaster and they’ve decided to feed everyone Burger King in a ‘retail destination’ – young girls with straggly hair in broken vibrating chairs, ‘amusements’ and arcade games and that sort of thing. Millions of people, a full car park that’s bigger than you could imagine and a list of retail chains straight out of the globalisation handbook of nightmares. There’s even a shop calling itself Adrenaline Addict or something. They sell t-shirts and anoraks. Didn’t do much for my adrenaline levels to be honest.

Next door there is an ‘outlet village’. This turns out to be a shopping street like everywhere else but with no actual town attached. And because everything is an ‘outlet’ rather than a ‘shop’ or even a ‘store’ people think it must be cheap or something.

I mean I know that people who have nothing to do with their lives go to these places looking for meaning or ‘stocking fillers’ or ‘bits and pieces for the lounge’ or whatever but what I found difficult to cope with was the number of blokes who seemed to be there not under duress. I can do about 30 seconds in any given shop and a bit more if I have to queue for whatever it its but there’s all these people wandering around looking like they’re reasonably happy. What has gone wrong with the world?

However, I am not immune. X-Scape has a climbing wall and the ‘outlet village’ has a Cadburys chocolate shop where you can get piles of orange flavour Fry’s Chocolate Cream. So now I don’t hate it so much – darn! Mind you, it was the first sunny day for 3 months so maybe that was it. There's still far too much shopping goes on though. Do I want people to race pigeons and do the garden? Actually, yes. Maybe. Anything but shopping.

Harry and Paul

It genuinely disturbs me that people I know don't seem to get the new Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse show. OK the hit rate is a bit lower than some things have been in the past - but 2 thirds of it is brilliant - and people I know aren't watching it because they don't 'get it'. What's the matter with them? No accounting for taste I suppose...

Closing Pools

Leeds City Council have a ‘Vision for Investment’. Course they have. They have a ‘Vision’ for everything of course. The ‘Vision for cutting stuff back and knocking things down’ hasn’t had much publicity yet, but they have produced a questionnaire about swimming pools and sports facilities. They complain that they’re spending too much money on local sports facilities. They seem to think that knocking them down and building big ones would be a much better idea, and in some fantasy accountancy world this might save them money. They’re trying to get people to agree to this by ‘consulting’ them.

You don’t actually get to say ‘spend the money on swimming pools and screw the old people’ of course but you do get to say that they should spend the money on pools and ‘cut other services’. Then they can come along later and ask if you’d like to take the food out of the mouths of the pensioners or the disabled kiddies so they can keep your local pool open. They also pretty much admit that their facilities aren’t much cop, so you get to say that you want ‘excellent’ facilities if you want. They can then say the only way of doing this is to give all your money to a big private sector corporation to build the crappy pools of 20 years time. The Victorians of course managed to build pools that lasted for 100 years (and beyond that if they were looked after). We’re lucky to get 15 years these days before new buildings crumble and rust away.

Leeds is supposed to be a ‘successful’ city. That just seems to mean that millions of office blocks fit to be demolished in 15 years time have been built and left empty. You might think that it would mean that Leeds City Council could find a few quid to keep its swimming pools open wouldn’t you? They closed the big one in town of course. That was a year ago now. Have they built anything on the site? Nope. Have they demolished it? Nope. Did they get some money for the land? I bloody hope so. Mind you, Roundhay Park didn't have a cafe for about 3 years while the Council faffed about.

And come to think of it, where's the tram down our road that we were going to have to wait until 2007 for? Actually, that was the government. Banks not trams! Funnily enough I haven't seen that on any placards.

When gigs go wrong

This is just me moaning about how rubbish it can be being the king of acoustic protest and the rest…

You get in touch with someone via t’internet or myspace or whatever about a gig. They like you and they suggest some dates and you accept one, taking on board all the stuff there might be about playing on unsuitable days of the week with unsuitable fellow performers and often not getting paid and anything else that generally isn’t ideal. You bounce some emails and / or messages back and forth to confirm the date, you email your mailing list, put the details on myspace, update the website, send a message out on Facebook, get the press person on to it and book trains and lifts and buses and stay-overs - and generally badger people you know weeks in advance to try and get people to go to the gig and gets lots of publicity. You re-arrange things and generally put out family and friends and put off other stuff that needs doing. You then start rehearsing songs that you don’t tend to play every day because it’d just get boring. You get a new flyer together to advertise yourself and work out where all the stuff you need for the gig is going to be. You print stuff out and copy things. You ask favours. Often you try to fit other gigs in at around the same time (see the process above). Some of this is months in advance but sometimes just a few days before the gig.

Then, at some point not long before the gig when there’s nothing left to do but turn up and play you get a message saying it’s off or it’s postponed. To be fair this is very often not the fault of the person who organises their local acoustic night. It’s the pub chain deciding on re-development or more likely some other smaller re-arrangement the pub has decided to do. Or they could be making it up and its just an excuse. Whatever, the gig is off.

So, then you find the instructions again and update the website. Update the myspace. Send out another email to the mailing list. Do the Facebook thing again. Apologise to the PR man (who you’ve promised to pay anyway), take the losses on non refundable tickets and accommodation after trawling through the websites again to try to claim refunds - or apologise to friends who’ve put themselves out to fit around your plans.

But, hey…good news! The organiser really does like you and has an alternative date. Time to change the website, add the new gig to myspace and make sure everyone knows and…and don't forget those other gigs in the area...

…and this is why it’s often so much easier not to bother. Why don’t I just play in the bedroom or just around Leeds? I dunno. Maybe it’s my massive ego and I deserve no better. Maybe I’m just an idiot. Maybe things are just too difficult. Maybe I should just carry on doing it and realise that this doesn’t happen for every gig. Sometimes though it’s enough to bring on my morose melancholy mood for days on end. Or maybe I just need caffeine again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Things that work sir? Whatever can you mean?

I’m pleased to say that my prejudices have been roundly reinforced with regard to cheap shite again. I actually used the car foot pump the other day and managed to pump up 1 and a half child’s bike tyres before the stupid thing stopped working completely. And a bit fell off.

That’ll be twice I’ve used it then. Twice. Yup, that’s about right. But how about I pay more for something that ACTUALLY FUCKING WORKS! I’d like to buy things that work please. Is that too much to ask. I don’t mind paying. But I want things to WORK!

Can I please buy something that works please? more than twice?

What does the price cost then?

Why isn’t the price you pay the price you pay any more? Why do people who use certain buzz phrases to the call centre staff get stuff cheaper? And how come people can charge you more for stuff (and add extra ‘services’) without telling you or consulting you? Why do I pay one price only until I ring up to find that they can actually remove the 'upgrade' I didn't ask for and they didn't tell me about?

Why can't they just tell you what they charge so I can decide to pay or tell them to go fuck themselves?

Cunsumer madness

Tescos sell a small chocolate cake for about £1.55. Worth just under half that as usual I’d say. It’s about 5 inches across and 3 inches deep. I bought one and cut it in to three pieces (for three people) though if I'd stretched it to 4 I guess no-one would’ve complained.

So, guess how many people it says the cake ‘serves’ on the packet? The answer is 8. If it were 8 ‘fucking midgets’ at least they’d give us a laugh and we’d know they were taking the piss. But presumably they mean 8 normal sized people with normal appetites. To be fair they do a bit less of this than they used to. I complained to the C0-op once over a box of cereal - 'at least 15 servings!' they said on the packet. That meant 6 cereal bowls full. Obviously.

There they go - lying again!

Financial institutions are lying to me again. This time it’s the Yorkshire Building Society.

They currently have a branch in East Parade in Leeds and one on Briggate. They’re closing the East Parade branch. So, the message is quite simple really, they’re closing a branch. Presumably this is to save money. However, the subject of the letter they've just sent me is ‘We’re moving’. They’re not moving. This is a lie.

They are moving some accounts from the branch they’re closing to the one that’s still open - but they’re not moving in the 'geographical location' sense of the word which I, and so I'm led to believe, most of the English speaking world use. If I told you I was ‘moving’ but then later explained that this didn’t mean I was moving house but actually meant ‘I’m moving my position on the war in Iraq slightly’ you’d think I was mad – and quite right too. Why can’t they just be honest? Moving implies motion from one place for another. Closing a branch does not constitute 'moving' - moving out of existence I suppose...

Toast-rack

You might imagine that in today’s consumer led (ha ha!) society even I might be able to find a toast rack that worked wouldn’t you? I mean how difficult can it be to design a toast rack that can hold up a piece of toast? I’ve got 2 completely useless ones so far.

Number one is designed to look like a spring. It kind of holds toast upright – except when it just slips out sideways. Which it does. Often. The design also means that the toast rests on the table, dropping crumbs and picking up whatever sticky stuff might have been left on the surface.

Number 2 has a built in tray and firm upright slots and hold toast perfectly – provided the toast is no more than ¼ of an inch thick. If it’s more than that the toast jsut doesn't go in. It’s all welded together (the rack, not the toast) so you can’t stretch it or anything.

So, there you go. It would appear that toast rack designers don’t know the first thing about toast – which is odd because there’s not that much to bother yourself with re toast really is there?

So, that’s me in and out the kitchen fishing it out of the toaster for each slice then. But why? Do I have to put ‘toast-rack’ on my Christmas list once again only to expose another cretinous ‘designer’? Yes, I expect so…

Just in case you were wondering…no, I don’t want to just pile it on the plate thank you – it goes all soggy and wet. I’d like a toast-rack please. One that kind of, like, holds up toast and that...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Our Friends Electric

It’s strange how lives are measured out in cars. Our old van, the ‘new’ van, the Vauxhall Viva, the Vauxhall we didn’t have for more than a couple of weeks, the Chevette ('the Vauxhall Chevette is whatever you want it to beee'...), the much later Ford Orion, the Escort and now, well, the ‘new one’. For those of us who don’t do pets cars cut your life into chunks of memory. I wonder if this still works for those people who replace their car every couple of years?

This leads me into one of my ‘inappropriate technology’ rants too. I wonder if the Vauxhall Viva had any instructions in the handbook on locking the doors? Probably did but probably didn’t need it. Thing is that most people could figure out how to lock doors. You put the key in and turn. Well, the new car has no less than 17 pages of instructions about locking the damned car – and we still can’t work out why there’s one key without a bleepy pressy keypad thing which just sets off the alarm if you try to use it. 17 pages and we still can’t work out how to unlock the stupid car! Why?

And everything is automated and computerised so you can’t work out how to use it and it does things it thinks it should do that you don’t want it to do – so the windscreen wipers set themselves to the speed they think they should go at, one of them comes on on its own when you reverse whether you want it to or not, you can’t tell how much petrol you’ve got (or anything else) without the ignition switched on and if it all goes wrong you need a software engineer rather than a mechanic. Stop this madness!

Modern stuff does everything but no-one uses it properly because it does too much in a much too complicated way and no-one has the time to figure it all out. So people go for years without being able to use anything they’ve bought until they replace it with the next thing they don’t know how to use.

I got a new mobile phone (an antique by most people's standards of course) and the instruction book has 120 pages! And it's not got a blue wire video wapp enabled search camera either, it's just a phone. I guess button A and button B were a bit complicated but they had instructions written up in a few sentences. Not 120 pages. And directory enquiries was free of course. Before competition made the world so much better. And they were all made of wood. In Sheffield.

MBV

Whole Sky Monitor are off to see My Bloody Valentine this weekend and good for us. Thing is that I just looked on ebay and you can get tickets really cheap. Nothing particularly wrong there but it does remind me of something depressing. That is that bands who re-form or those who have just been around for a long time never seem to get any new fans. They just play to a proportion of the old fans. When I've been to see gigs by people I like who have been going ages (Donovan, Melanie, the Magic Band, the Moody Blues - don't laugh, they are one of my guilty pleasures) nearly everyone has been old enough to have seen them 'first time around' and I'm the youngest there. What happened to people discovering what went before? Why aren' t 19 year olds watching the old (classic) farts before its too late? Hopefully they're out watching fantastic new bands. However, I suspect they're not. I have actually seen a few 'young people' at those gigs. Then I realise they're standing next to their Mum looking bored. Ho hum...

Walkman

I’m not going to tell you how long I've been listening to music but I’ve finally got a Walkman! Not a cassette walkman (I've dropped the capital for copyright reasons by the way) but a walkman all the same. It is I predicted it's just like having a walkman. Like a cassette walkman with a few tapes to hand – and a bit smaller. As I predicted. It’s an MP3 player. There's no leader tape but it does spend a lot of time 'creating database'.

Thing is that people like to tell you that things are revolutionary but generally they’re not. Like the walkman. It’s like a walkman really. Another example is the internet. For nearly all of us the internet is like a very big reference book (though probably not as reliable) combined with a phone to order stuff. DVDs are like videos - and so it goes on. Our lives are continually being ‘revolutionised’ and yet life still feels very much the same. Only with more traffic.

Weird thing is that in a world where you'd think everyone was scared of being happy-stabbed by their local hoods in yardie tops, people cut themselves off from surrounding sounds so they can't hear anyone sneaking up on them and I found it really weird listening to 'Animals' by Pink Floyd while crossing the road. On the other hand it was useful for recording an 'ident' for an internet radio station. Makes it a recording walkman nearly I guess. They were always really expensive.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Leeds Inclusive Learning Strategy

We received a leaflet via school yesterday. Seems to have been given to all parents. It claims to be ‘Information for patients and carers’ on the subject of the ‘Leeds Inclusive Learning Strategy’. It comes from Education Leeds. They’re pretty much the Council (except when they apply for grants…but that’s another story). What an ‘inclusive learning strategy’ might be I have no idea but let’s read on in the hope of finding out.

Well, they claim that their goal is a ‘world class inclusive education system for all children and young people in Leeds’. World class eh? But we still want to know what the Inclusive Learning Strategy is. I’m hoping they’ll explain what ‘inclusive learning’ is and how they plan to be world class at it. Well, it doesn’t say. What it does do is explain (and I use the word extremely loosely) the areas it covers. This includes ‘Promoting and developing inclusive practice and inclusive schools’. What might that mean? What is ‘inclusive practice‘? - and what does an ‘inclusive school’ look like? Another area covers ‘Developing how pupils access behaviour provision across the city’. Mm, not sure about the grammar for a start. Leaving that aside, what on earth can accessing behaviour provision be? What kind of behaviour can one ‘provide’ to a child?

Oh well, so their grammar isn’t very good, they haven’t defined what they mean and they use jargon. Let’s move on. In the section ‘What does LILS mean for your child?’ they explain that ‘Your child will have full access to school life’ (!) – ‘from the curriculum and teaching to out of school activities’. They don’t explain what partial access to school life is currently being provided and why children apparently don’t yet have ‘full access’ to teachers and the curriculum. Even better, ‘They will learn and go through school in a way which suits both them and you, their family.’ Can we get our child to go through school dressed as a pirate? How many alternative ways of going through school will be offered?...’I’m sorry headmaster but our Charlie is going through school in a way that suits Charlie but doesn’t suit his family or myself, 1 out of 3 is simply not good enough. I demand you change the way he goes through school immediately’…

Now we all know (or you haven’t been reading this blog!) that there are a whole group of people whose job is to have endless meetings with each other to come up with ways of stating good intentions and the bleedin’ obvious. These usually amount to saying ‘we think good stuff is better than bad stuff’ (don’t get me started on the Leeds Initiative’!) and all conceivable meaning is lost on the way. You end up with a leaflet (more often a big glossy brochure with thick card covers) containing ‘information’ which is actually completely free of information. In this case I think they’ve used relatively few words thinking that this might possibly make it easy to understand or be in plain English. In fact it’s little more than a random series of words. I guess (and it is just a guess) that it might be something to do with equal access to education, but who knows.

The final page says that you can contact a man from the ‘Pupil planning team’ (their lack of capitals) ‘if you need this document to be interpreted’. I am soooo tempted to write and ask to have it translated into English. If I could be bothered I’d write to Education Leeds and get really arsey as well as writing to the papers. The trouble is that this kind of toss is so prevalent that no-one can be bothered to fight it any more.

People will talk about ‘social cohesion’ and misunderstanding between cultures and the rest but it’s actually these white middle class overpaid 'educated' people that are the people I have nothing in common with and don’t understand. Why do they talk like this? And why do they think that anyone might be interested? I think we have to assume that this ‘Strategy’ in common with nearly all strategies has no application in the real world at all.

In the section ‘what we have done so far?’ (I think they meant ‘what have we done so far? i.e. a question that makes sense, or possibly ‘What we have done so far’ i.e. not a question) they say they’ve been ‘holding discussions to help people with a key interest in the project understand the LILS and get them involved’. A ‘key interest’?

Aw forget it, these people aren’t worth getting angry about. I just despair that so much money is spent on this stuff and the people who come up with it who presumably cry themselves to sleep at night realizing they’re wasting their deluded little lives – if only. I’m off to ‘write learning programmes to meet the needs of children and young people’.

Designer Plumbing / Scrotum

I’m really sick of designer plumbing. Basically, I don’t know how to work any of the stuff. I mean the kind of thing you get at airports and hotels. Half the time I can’t work out whether to wash my hands or piss in it.

I want to know instantly whether something is soap or some sort of electric sensor or just a curly bit of chrome plated metal with no discernable use at all. I want to know which is the stuff to wipe my bum on and which for drying my hands. I’m not stupid but I don’t want to have to waste time and energy in a strange place figuring it all out. Most of all I want control. I want to be able to decide when the toilet flushes, whether I get hot water or cold (or the mixture of the two). The bald fact is that some designs actually work and the rest don’t. Have you ever used a tap that you press to turn on that didn’t power water out at 200psi followed by an abrupt stop? – or they just pour away for hours so they can’t possibly use any less water than a real actual normal tap.

I found a tap today in a disabled toilet (yeah I know, how can a toilet be disabled…) which has a widening stripe on it suggesting that the water would get colder the further it was turned on – so it’s a dribble of scalding water or a torrent of cold it would seem. What if someone wants a torrent of hot or a dribble of cold? And how do you know where the happy medium you want will be if you turn the tap on ‘a bit’ and loads of water gushes out? Actually, where are the people who want scalding hot or freezing cold water to wash their hands in? 'Caution hot water' means 'this water is too hot to wash your hands with, we thought you might like a cup of tea' or 'we're idiots'. Legionnaires disease is used as an excuse by the way (I'm not making this up).

The thing is don’t muck about with fancy designs that don’t work, and most of all don’t do it in airports and motorway service stations where people are not so likely to be regulars. And while we’re in the men's toilets, I don’t like that razor advert that suggests you shave your scrotum by showing 2 kiwi fruit, one having had its fur shaved off. Who wants to think about shaving their scrotum in a motorway service station for fucksakes? There’s coffee at £3 a bucket and the most expensive cakes in Christendom to think about. And ‘special offer’ breakfasts at only £8.99.

Sick cookery

I go down to the kitchen to discover a copy of ‘The Pooh Cook Book’ on the work surface.

I’m appalled - Are there no depths to which some people will not stoop?…

Even more deeply in love with the insurance industry

I receive a personally addressed postcard from the insurance company (my favourite kind of people as you’ll know if you read this stuff). It says ‘We’ve missed you…and your home. We’d love to look after your home again – come back to Co-operative insurance and not only could you save money but we also offer a great range of benefits your current insurer may not.’

So, first of all, here’s another example of that fake advertising matey-ness I loathe so much. I’d hazard a guess (and this is just a guess mind) that they haven’t missed me and they don’t miss my ‘home’ (which I call my house). What with one thing and another, I hadn’t thought about them in ages, that’s for sure.

They say they want to ‘look after’ my home. So are they going to come round and watch for burglars, try the doors at night to check they’re locked and make sure the cooker is turned off – and perhaps run a sponge round the bath once in a while? A moot point. I’ll let you make up your own mind.

My third point is the one about ‘coming back ‘to them. Thing is I didn’t know I’d left. I thought they were taking money every month and were already ‘looking after’ my ‘home’. They have my address because I have a policy with them.

I rang them to ask, because previously the policy was cancelled by accident (ironically…) They wouldn’t talk to me at first. They assumed I was only the 'named driver' on a car insurance policy and not the policy holder so they couldn't talk to me. What!?

I’d started the call by reading out the first few lines of the card – all that ‘we’ve missed your home’ stuff. Obviously easy to confuse with ‘hi, I’m the named driver on a motor insurance policy’. So...after explaining that I wasn't asking about car insurance and that the named driver stuff was irrelevant they finally checked the house insurance and I am still paying.

They didn’t have a ready answer as to why they’d sent a card saying they want me back. It’s ‘advertising’ apparently and I should ignore it.

So, 'let’s have three cheers for matey bullshit, inaccuracy, not listening and of course for advertising. And this is the Co-op who I’m let to believe are a bit better than some. What can you do short of arson attacks?

Choclate spread

Nutella chocolate spread (as you and I and the world call it - or ‘Hazelnut spread’ as it calls itself on the label) is ‘packed with over 50 hazelnuts, a glass of skimmed milk and a little cocoa’.

Wow, sounds like it's really healthy then? The ingredients, listed by volume or weight I assume, are: 1. Sugar. 2. Vegetable oil.

Yum. Hurray for marketing once more!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

'Journalists' possibly

Our journalist friends on the Metro paper (the free on the bus one) announce in a massive Iraq based headline ‘Girl of 8 used as suicide bomber’. Shocking stuff obviously. Then in paragraph 7 they let slip that the Americans ‘later gave the age of the girl as between 16 and 18’.

So following the same approach here's a couple of stories from me...

My mate Bob went out last weekend and ended up having sex with a 9 year old. Did I say 9? Sorry, I meant 18.

I had sex with a 100 year old woman. Did I say 100? No, actually she was 40. Something like that anyway. I was drinking 12 year old whiskey – or was it 6 months old?

Still, no point in spoiling a good headline eh?

Mind you, it wasn’t long ago that the Metro 'writer' was talking about ‘RAF jets’ bombing Germany in the 1940’s. Another interesting one…I expect they get paid more than me too.

Anyway, the point is that when reporting, details matter, accuracy matters. Don't let them get away with it!

Net Nannies

I’ve been reminded of net nannies (I don't know why, I just have, OK?). While working for Leeds City Council it became clear that some emails were being ‘delayed’ so somebody somewhere could check them out ‘for content’. The net result (top pun there) was that my fellow band members and ‘top mates’ generally would send me emails containing individual specially selected rude words to see what would be allowed. They would then follow this up with messages such as “‘wanker’ got through here no problem, did you get my ‘twat’”? In addition to that, legitimate emails wouldn’t get though because they mentioned ‘sex’ or ‘drugs’ or whatever. Being connected to the Youth Service was always going to be good on that score what with Drug Action Teams and anti teen sex projects and the like - I should say that I meant anti teen-sex and not anti-teen sex projects. I don’t want to imagine what one of those would be.

I ended up composing emails solely for the person whose responsibility it was to check them. I'd ask them who they were and what they thought they were doing, how it was justified and their qualifications for the job. I never got a reply, mind.

Small musing on 'going private'

I’ve just ‘gone private’ for me teeth. Paid for by the NHS actually, but it was off to the private hospital in Methley. They mainly do cosmetic surgery. Lots of scope for jokes there of course. I rather hoped I could play ‘spot the boob job’ in the waiting room. Thought I might 'pair up' the boob enlargements with the boob reductions. You know, get them chatting and see if they could do some sort of swap to save on materials.

There were adverts for open evenings where you could find out more about 'body shaping' and 'abdominoplasty' among other procedures. I thought dominos had been made of plastic for some time. Anyway, the place was kind of a cross between an NHS hospital and the Crossroads motel. Most people there were there for NHS dentistry it seems - more tattoos, beer bellies and footie shirts than they’re used to I guess. Mind you, there’s a limit on how posh a private hospital can be on the borders of Rothwell and Castleford – and I still had a long wait. I suppose they make the effort so the NHS patients don’t feel too uncomfortable. Here's an odd thought though - plastic surgery isn't really for posh people is it?

It's about time they worked out how to get people to grow new teeth if you ask me. Very old people occasionally grow one or two it would seem. They should cross them with Catholic embryos or something.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sat bleedin' sumas - would that be blood oranges?

This may seem a stupid question but what the hell has happened to Satsumas? I can’t remember the last time I had one that was anything like, well, a Satsuma. They’re not supposed to be rock hard, sour, round or with a navel bit on ‘em. They’re supposed to have loose skin, be sweet and …well, you get the picture. Come on Satsuma producers, get your act together.

Oh, and it was welcome back to the outside part of Leeds market for me this week when I bought some 'satsumas' at '8 for a pound'. Not only were there only 7 in the bag but they were nothing like the ones on the front of the stall either. And nothing like satsumas.

More corporate pals

I just made a bid on ebay. They congratulate me on being the first bidder - ‘hope you win’ they add. Nice of them, I really appreciate the personal touch, it gives me a tingly glow to think they're rooting for me in my attempted value for money purchasing behaviour.

However, I wondered if they intended to take any action to put this hope into practice. I emailed them to ask and they haven’t replied. I suspect that they don’t really care if I win or not. This is a crushing disappointment. Whey do they pretend to be my fwend?

My bank wants to be friends

I just got a new Terms and Conditions leaflet for my bank account. I’m ashamed to say I actually read some of it.

It says here ‘One of the great things about internet shopping is the extra time it gives you to enjoy life offline’.

My question is, is there a word for this kind of sick making matey approach to 'information'? And what could 'life off-line' mean? I don't want the NatWest bank to chat or give me their lifestyle opinions thank you very much.

Are you insured Madam?

Isn’t it strange how the insurance business is (or at least has been) seen as somehow ‘respectable’? The sort of industry mothers don’t mind their sons ‘going into’. Their income is often guaranteed by law – you have to take out insurance to protect your mortgage lender, you have to insure your car and so on. Yet if the insurance company decide they don’t want to pay your claim what happens? – They don’t pay your claim! They decide. If you have a dispute, who do you appeal to? – another person at the same company – if you’re lucky! This of course if after the ‘excess’ and the exclusions of anything that you might actually need insurance for – the whole ‘act of God’ thing.

A couple of examples:

I know some people whose plumbing is been eaten by mice, causing holes and leaks and well, a lot of damage (this is the plumbing in their house, not some 1984 nightmare scenario…) Just the kind of thing you’d want to claim on your house insurance you’d think. But oh no, the policy doesn’t include rodent damage! Does this include the rodents at the insurance company?

We recently bought holiday insurance. It seems that this was compulsory too. On this policy you had to pay extra to insure your belongings! Well, what the f*ck do you want holiday insurance for if its not to insure the stuff that you take with you? I had a quick look at the reams of ‘information’ that they give you. We’ll be quids in if I lose a limb it would seem, and I can cause upset abroad leading to costs of up to £5,000,000. But if someone nicks my bag, tough! Whole sections of the economy are based on this kind of fantasy world it would seem.

15% of your neighbours...

I’ve just been going through the local election results in Leeds. Small ‘hobby-horse’ type rant coming up…

If ‘New’ Labour continue to ignore the poor white people who feel like they’re not getting anywhere and no-one looks after their interests, then quite soon the BNP are going to start getting elected all over the place. I left Labour (probably for good) mainly over the ID card and civil liberties but also over them dumping the concept of ‘equality’ – oh, and arms, wars and, well all the rest of it. New Labour left the ‘working classes’ behind years ago and it seems that finally the working classes have begun to realise. If you combine this with the stifling of free speech so the BNP are forced (despite their own stupidity) to not say (for example) anything racist, it makes it much easier for them to pose as the party of the ‘white working class’ and the only people speaking up in those areas that never get the various ‘initiatives’, grants etc that are coming out of the ears of people in some areas of the city.

Wards like Chapel Allerton (the nice middle class green DMs brigade and the various black communities) gave the BNP about 3% of the vote. This is of course pretty good news. That 3% will be those not very attractive, not very bright, disappointed people who want someone to blame for their own personal failings. However, in Middleton it was nearly 40%. If I’m not mistaken the (proper, German) Nazis never got that percentage of the vote. I don’t believe that 40% of the voters in Middleton are racist scum. They’re people whose world has been collapsing for years. Some of them will suspect its due to ‘immigrants’ or whatever that they’re getting a bad deal. In fact it’s due to the disappearance from politics of the concepts of both equality and re-distribution of wealth. No-one even bothers to argue if multi-millionaires should pay more tax. ‘New Labour’ have been the Tory party for years but never properly admitted it and now it seems to me they’ve been caught out. I’ve said this before but I think the main rate of income tax in the 1970s was 33%. If it was that now how much would that raise for projects that could really improve the lives of people in places like Middleton? Think on eh?

So, there you go readers, ignore people for too long and they set the rottweiller on you.

Toodle Pip!

Doorbell Walks

Somebody stole our doorbell this week, or at least the bell-push bit. Still, I expect some local chav will be able to buy a tube of Evostik with the money. £1.49 from Wilkinson’s - so it could be a bit difficult making much of a profit. How else could a doorbell 'pushbit' disappear though? Teleported to a shower of frogs? Possibly.

Talking of Wilkinson’s – it suddenly struck me last time I was in there – they are in fact Woollys! – Apart from the colour scheme it’s like being in Woolworth’s ‘back in the day’.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Chris Morris is back!

I didn’t realise 'The Day Today' was back!

I turned the telly on today to find a ‘news’ piece showing Trevor McDonald and Denise Van Outen carrying the Olympic torch! ‘Too daft to laugh at’ as my Mum would say.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rude Fruit

Following on from my ranking of fruit by order of rudeness I’d like to make a brief addition.

Please take the utmost caution in using the word 'kumquat'.

I predict a controversy very like that one about using the word 'niggardly' (where, as I remember it, someone was hounded out of their job for other people's ignorance). Shout 'kumquat' at people in the street and see what happens. It'd be political correctness gone mad you know.

Just like yer Grammar used to make

I'd just like to apologise for the level of grammar in this blog. I can't get the flow right. I have a spastic semi-colon or something. I've realised this as I've recently applied for a job where grammar is one of the 'essential criteria'. I'm better than a lot of people but I was never taught it so far as I can remember.

However, I am one of the last people in England to know the difference between stationary (not moving) and stationery (envelopes and pens). So there.

I Like Americans

I like Americans generally. I really do, and this is not sarcasm. American bands generally have something that British bands don't too (there's a PHD topic). However, I'm sick of 'semesters' and 'malls', 'muffins', 'movies' and all the other language that we've started to use - and the attitude that patriotism and aggressive Christianity are OK, oh, and 10 gallon buckets of popcorn and...well, there's a list. So much is imported from the USA along with exaggerated respect for entrepreneurs and really shit telly.

When I were a lad America was big and fabulous - full of cactus and hookers and big trucks and Kojak and Easyrider and people making films about the Vietnam war. Meanwhile we had drizzle and working men's clubs. Thing is though, why are we still importing America now its not so much more exciting than here? America looks kind of 'small-town' - full of religion, support for 'our boys' and the death sentence.

I remember the moon landings (just). Real or not, it seemed to me that the planet stood still to applaud. America was doing something on behalf of the whole world (leaving aside all the cold war stuff) and we were amazed and impressed. The future was happening, the mission to Mars was scheduled for 1985 according to my Brooke Bond tea card album and this showed that we could 'fix things'. Now they're just being arsey about who enters the country, torturing people in boiler suits and making up imaginery money.

I guess America was always invading somewhere or propping up some mad dictator (it being our turn previous to them) but I still want to know what happened.

Kidneys to Britishness

Darn. World Kidney Day was on 13th March and I missed it. I can only speculate as to what fantastic events were running. Maybe they drank punch, (kidney punch yer see...) raffled off a dialysis machine and finished the evening with a mixed grill.

I'm off to set up World Angry Pedestrian Day and the World Day of Days. Maybe the day after the proposed 'celebrate being British' day. They seem to have missed the point that the essence of being British is to not give a toss about being British.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My New Mellow Traffic Self

I went in to my job today on my day off. This is because I work for a rubbish organisation which seems to believe that if you think about things hard enough and are ‘pro-active in moving things forward’ that they magically happen. Some idiot like me who has carefully already carefully explained the inpingements of the real world has to pull them out of the shit before people in the real world get f*cked about too much and it makes me angry. You wonder if they do this on purpose. I will take my time back though…Incidentally, this same organisation has what I can only describe as a 'collective ego' which thinks its great and routinely takes the credit for any work that anyone connected with it does as if it had done it itself.

Anyway, on the way in I was congratulating myself on my new attitude to traffic. This is that instead of blaming the morons who regularly endanger people’s lives by ignoring the red lights and such like we could perhaps work with the people who design junctions and traffic lights and the like to make it psychologically more difficult to drive like a moron. I believe this because it’s usually at the same junctions where the various moron incidents happen. This makes me think that its at least partly to do with design.

Then I get to the junction of Roundhay Road with Harehills Lane. Within 20 seconds one van did an illegal u-turn in front of me and I was half way across the crossing (having waited for the green mad I might add) when some prize twat in a big silver Vauxhall made an illegal right turn straight across the pedestrian crossing at about 20 miles an hour (and this is a 90 degree turn, one of the reasons for the ‘no right turn’ signs and the sign warning pedestrians about motorists making illegal turns’) missing me by less than a foot.

So…mellowness gone. Annoyingly I was too taken by surprise to take physical action against the car. I managed a ‘what the fuck do you think you’re doing you moron’ at the top of my voice though, followed by what was kind of half way between a one and a two fingered salute. However, a nice door dent caused by work DMs would have been much more appropriate. Once again, car driver careering through a pedestrian crossing deserves at least a grands worth of damage (which anyone who owns a car will know ain't much).

So, be mellow, mind how you go and knock a big dent in the moron's car. If you can get the number and make it public by any means you can. Hope they object and you can get it in the papers...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fruitcakes

Another non-controversial area. I received an email (at work) from the 'London School of Islamics'. They have opinions on multi-culturalism and bi-lingualism and funnily enough, generally think that their religion is the one to plump for. Fair enough I suppose for us woolly-minded liberal freedom of speech types. However, their latest newsletter on the subject of 'honour killing' (the practice of becoming a murderous scumbag baboon in the name of preserving apparent adherence to your particular religious mores) is a belter and I thought I'd quote some of it.

"Honour killing and female infanticide come from Pagan-Hindu-Judeo-Christian traditions". Isn't this great?! I guess this means that all religions except one are kiddie murderers folks!

Furthermore "The tragedy of forced marriage and honour killing could have been avoided if the poor girls were educated in a single sex state funded Muslim schools by female Muslim teachers". There you go - sorted! Pick the bones out of that one! I think this means that if young women behaved themselves (at taxpayers expense) no-one would have to murder them. Good one...

It then goes on about 'Muslim children'. Now as Richard Dawkins explains so well, there are of course no such people as 'Muslim children' (or those of any other religion), only those of Muslim parents (or those of any other religion). Anyway, at school said children are apparently exposed to non-Muslim teachers (the poor dears) making Muslim schools "crucial for Muslim children because western education makes a man/woman stupid". There you go!

There's more..."Muslim schools stand as shining beacons of light, serving as one of the most crucial factors which protect Muslim children from the onslaught of Eurocentricism, homosexuality, racism and secular values and traditions".

So there you go (again). I must enlighten my non-religious racist gay friends in Europe. If they're not murdering babies - or was that just every other religeon? Conversion surely beckons.

I'm sure the world is full of such toss but this email was sent to my inbox. Welcome to the 21st century.

Stepford Builds a Bonfire

This is the almost famous ‘dance school story’. If I could be bothered the prose below could be edited and polished into something better. But I can’t, you’ll just have to read it if you’re interested and write an essay on how much more brief, pithy and amusing this story could’ve been. If I did sort it out it’d just never get done…

This is a weird one…First thing is it’s a blog about blogging. Bad start I know. However, it seems my blogging has offended ‘people’. Normally it’d be ‘hurray to that’ considering some of the scumbag firms and idiot behaviour I comment on. However this time I’m going to explain the whole thing as, believe it or not, I’ve apparently offended people at a local dance school. I am not making this up!

What did I do to incur ballet tapping wrath? Who did I upset? How? Why? Well, it seems that someone noticed a blog entry from June 2007 and they’re now getting cross about it. Parents up in arms, dancers upset, police inspectors married to dance teachers fully informed, legal action threatened no less.

So…here’s the original entry with the name of the dance school removed (more on that later)

“Well there wasn't a sign officer
Saturday night and its ‘Showtime’ for the...Name of School censored!Along with the various dances done by the juniors the ‘seniors’ (a group of young women aged 18 to 20 something) entertain us with leotards, tight tights and split short skirts -all in scarlet and black. They sit astride chairs to the tune of ‘Hey Big Spender’, do the splits and writhe around in a variety of downright provocative ways.Then, unfortunately, a slight altercation with the stewards just before the interval. Well, they didn't have a sign saying ‘No Wanking’...”

I thought this was funny. Nearly everyone who I know who knows about this it thinks it’s funny. That’s really all you need to know I reckon, but for those with the patience lets look at what’s going on is this little story…It’s not great to have to analyse but I’m defending myself so I think it’s necessary.

This story is an example of what I imagine must be a very well established comic technique. You start with a real situation and gradually twist it into something bizarre and / or unexpected and a bit odd - hence the laugh. The twist can be gradual or sudden. In this I guess it’s ‘slight followed by extreme’. There’s even a punch line. I thought this was a good ‘un.

So, what’s happening here? Well I, or perhaps my ‘story telling persona’ did actually attend this event, it was 100% real. So, that’s paragraph 1. Paragraph 2 has a slight shift at the end in the phrase ‘downright provocative’. This is designed to introduce the slightly ‘odd’ bit and start the (probably unconscious) questions such as ‘was the provocative-ness (or provocation I suppose but that doesn’t sound right) intended, or merely in the eye of the story teller? So, you either find it potentially funny or disturbing or simply descriptive to taste. Presumably no-one very much gets offended so far (but who knows, there are some strange people about…)

So, on to par 3. The ‘slight altercation with the stewards’ is deliberately brief and ambiguous – where could this be going? What can have happened? How could this be related to the previous paragraph? Then the punch-line. Just to be absolutely clear, it’s here where I accuse myself (or my story telling persona) of masturbating in the audience - and have very strongly implied that there were stewards who noticed this resulting in an ‘altercation’ – more comic implication.

OK, so where’s any possible offence lie? Could it be that someone has taken it literally, if only partially? – Unlikely you would think but who knows…

Now call me stupid but just in case, in what kind of world (other than the comic one) would someone be seen / caught masturbating in public, have some sort of bust-up with stewards and then be allowed to see the second half of the show? Oh, then this same person in this same world then TELLS THE WHOLE WORLD ABOUT VIA THE INTERNET.

So, just to be clear, there was no masturbation, no altercation with stewards. This was MADE UP (I can’t believe I’m saying this by the way…)


Anyway, I have 3 bits of evidence that hint at the nature of the ‘offence taken.

First up we have the head of the school. I hear a story of threats of legal action (it’d be really interesting to know which law has been broken) and the fact that a senior police officer has been informed. My source was confronted with a print-out of the blog entry (!) and also informed that other parts of the blog were offensive. This is interesting in itself as once people are on their humourless high horse they cease to be able to read properly.

For example, it seems I used the word ‘Paki’ in my blog. I was intrigued as to where on earth I might’ve used the word. If I had used it I assumed it would’ve been in inverted commas in some comment about the things people say. So, I checked and discovered that I have never used the word in my blog. The only reference that’s close mentions ‘rural Pakistan’ (I get around don’t I?!) It’s funny how people get impressions. Looks like someone decided they didn’t like the blog and somehow convinced themselves that I also used racist language or something. Having said that, this is all second hand so maybe it’s another wrong impression.

A strange Bloggy thing by the way is that if people add comments to your blog (yes I know there’ll be some clever technical set-up thing you can do) you don’t actually see them. I write my blog I don’t go back and admire it, particularly if it was written months ago.

Anyway, the second piece of evidence is from ‘Disgusted Dancer’ (no, really, this is true…) who it would seem felt strong enough about this to sign up to Blogger just to leave this comment

“I am glad you enjoyed the show so much, lovely to hear how much you enjoyed your own daughter's appearance and not just the 'seniors'. I am thinking you are a little uneducated in the field of dance. Oh a by the way, tights are meant to be tight”

I assume the first sentence is sarcasm. A comment on the fact that I only mentioned the ‘seniors’ I guess. Fair enough if this was some sort of review I guess. Actually I probably wouldn’t have included the performance of my daughter in a story about wanking – That would be in even worse taste than my story. I should try harder next time I suppose. ‘Disgusted Dancer’ picks me up on saying ‘tight tights’ which I think is a bit harsh since I could certainly claim this is a ‘device’ like ‘short shorts’ or something. Anyway, I don’t want to slag off Disgusted though it’d have been helpful if she’d said ‘I’m offended and here’s why’. But I think there’s a hint in the ‘I am thinking’ line. Leaving aside the throwing grammatical glass houses / stones thing (‘I think’ would do…) that thing about being ‘uneducated in the field of dance’ hints at what I think may be going on, namely the relationship (or otherwise) of sex to dance or at least sex to dance in this particular show.

Before going on about that let’s talk about ‘Disgusted Parent’. They do have a Blogger name but I’m not going to give you that – probably more on that too if I don’t run out of energy. Anyway, Disgusted Parent says “How dare you insult the integrity and talent of the children especially the senior girls. They have worked so hard and do not deserve this sick review”.

There’s a lot to go for in this fairly short sentence. Could someone have thought this was a ‘review’ of some sort? Or is it a way of saying ‘comment’ or story’ or whatever? Obviously I don’t know. I don’t know if you can reply to a comment directly on Blogger otherwise I probably would. Anyway, first of all it’s an interesting use of the word ‘children’. No mention at all in my story of children or any implication that the dancers hadn’t worked hard or weren’t good except I guess by omission (rather than ‘emission’ which I suppose might’ve been implied – another joke that won’t be appreciated!).

So what’s going on? People may be offended by ‘black humour’ or rude words but I’m not even going to defend myself on that. They should get out more if that’s the case. To be honest no-one seems to have thought that (though I don’t know; strange people etc.)

There are 2 more likely reasons.

First is the ‘association’ thing i.e. having my blog associated with their school and on this point I have to admit to making the mistake of using the exact name of the dance school. I should’ve realised that changing the name slightly wouldn’t have detracted from the story and would have meant that they didn’t come up in a Google search (if you search for the school worldwide you get only get 9 hits or something). I always assume that people who read my blog are on the same wavelength as me and it never occurred that the easily offended or that people on the fringes of joining the green ink brigade (hey, I’ve been as close as I have come so far to hate mail – fantastic!) would ever get there by accident - though I’ll take readers from anywhere. But, in a massive show of sensitivity, cowardice and wanting to be liked I’ve now censored myself for the first ever time and removed the name from the blog. If it still shows up on Google for a bit they’ll have to complain to the Head of the Internet I guess as I can’t do anything about that. Why don’t BAE systems or Yorkshire Water threaten legal action then we could really have some fun?

My second guess is that people are shocked (or ‘Disgusted’) by the implication that sex was in any way involved in the dancing in this particular show. Now the story wouldn’t have been funny if it hadn’t been exaggerated but sex free to the extent that this exaggeration insults people’s talent and integrity? No implied sexual references in ‘Hey Big Spender’ then? (NB Hey Big Spender was one of the songs that the ‘seniors’ danced to).

Yes, this is edited, but here are a few lines:

Good looking, so refined…Say wouldn't you like to know what's going on in my mind…So let me get right to the point…I don't pop my cork…for every guy I see…Hey big spender, spend a little time with me…Wouldn't you like to have fun, fun, fun…Hows about a few laughs, laughs…I could show you a good time, Let me show you a good time… hey big spender…spend a little time with me


I think it’s important to state that demonstrating that this song contains ‘adult themes’ really doesn’t matter. You can’t remove sex from dance even if you want to, nor should you try, it’s like taking the margarine out of a cake. You can perhaps avoid going down the ‘Mini-pops’ road but how on earth can you do dance and it not occur to you that sex is in any way involved? Like doing pole dancing to keep fit I suppose…

Anyway…I’m bored with this whole thing now. Afterwards it would seem that the dance school Mums were talking about a possible letter to the Evening Post. It’d be interesting to see how that were worded! A solicitor was mentioned to and even apparently the suggestion that ‘I wouldn’t let him near my kids’. Nice.


So, there you go, joke made, people offended, yours truly banned from dance school, story poorly described…

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Barry on Briggate

It seems that 'Barry on Brigate' has been taken over. Barry's was a newsagent next to the bus stops on Briggate (funnily enough) in Leeds that sold chocolate etc. at shamelessly massive comedy mark-ups.

I refused to pay, walked out and never went back out but a lot of people didn't - embarrassment I guess - I mean does it really matter if it's 60p for a 45p bar of choccy? Not to everyone I guess. You could peer through the doors and watch Barry leer as customers went white and stumped up the cash You'd chuckle to yourself or sigh and shake your head.

The new owners have put up a sign saying that they're no longer Barry's and that all prices have been reduced! Less comedy though...

Meeting Mr Bean

I went on a train to Manchester to buy a guitar recently. Met a woman who plays the harp (not a harmonica but a big stringy harp thing, you know!)

On the way back a man on the train stuck up a conversation. A glass-house designer just in from Atlanta (though he was English). His closing statement (which he semed to have been saving) was that his name was Chris Bean and he'd been at school with Rowan Atkinson and wondered if his name had been stolen

A brush with show business there ladies and gentlemen!

Warmongers dissolved in water?

There was a job advert in the Metro paper last week from BAE Systems. They offer ‘a more stimulating career’ in engineering, project management etc. Funnily enough they don’t seem to use either the phrase ‘dealers in death’ or ‘bribing dodgy foreign regimes’ – nor even their ‘Ethics Committee’. (They do have one! – Presumably to decide how many pieces their products should blow people into and remain fashionably PC).

However, they do call themselves ‘A world leader in Military Air Solutions’. They’re creating the ‘air solutions of tomorrow’ too and apparently ‘Helping to develop our products can be almost as exciting as flying them’.

I reckon that any smack-head junkie lying in a Leeds gutter is worth 10 of the sort of people who fool themselves into thinking its OK to work for the arms trade. The sad thing is that many of the people who do these jobs will be ‘bright’ and ‘skilled’ and the rest.

They should be made to get a proper job. Our taxes (and all the wealth that those dodgy regimes fleece from their populations) go to subsidise these much worse than useless jobs. These people can build stuff - and they choose to build weapons of mass destruction (that we have and Saddam didn’t by the way…)

Go figure as they say...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Belated Pinocchio

If the hip-hop guys on the Harehills streets see the posters advertising something about ‘the original bad boy’ they might be intrigued I guess. Which cool historical hip-hop icon could it be? Well, ‘the original bad boy’ is of course…Pinocchio. Yes, that’s right. Pinocchio - the puppet.

Not only is it Pinocchio the puppet, but it’s a production by Opera North about Pinocchio the puppet! That’ll teach them.

Also on the posters of the streets of Harehills is an advert for Sudafed – something about being able to breath. Catarrh pills I think…With top taste, they illustrate this ‘being able to breath’ idea with a bloke opening the doors of a container! – You know, like the ones that go on ships and on lorries – where you freeze to death or suffocate while being smuggled across borders in pools of your own vomit and dysentery? I assume they’re going for the illegal immigrant sinus market. Casts aspersions on the legal residents though eh?

More Transport

If there aren’t trams at the end of my street by the end of 2007 as promised I’ve been conned. Hey, guess what – I’ve been conned!

On another related subject, the buses were privatised to ‘ensure competition’ weren’t they? Ha Ha! How come no-one seems to realise that private companies are nothing to do with the ‘free market’. They exist to make money by strangling the free market first opportunity they get. People do know this of course which is why people who genuinely believe in the ‘free market’ are deluded idealists. This is ironic in that it was supposed to be us lefty types who were na├»ve. The rest of them know the truth but find it a useful myth they can hide behind.

By the way, First Bus’s tagline is ‘Transforming Travel’. Could I just add…’to a luxury that no-one can afford’? Sadly it’s not luxurious in any way and people often have no alternative – so they get ripped off. I’ll have to re-think.

Still 10% a Year Folks!

This in turn reminds me that First Bus have put up fares again by their usual 4 times the rate of inflation. The improved attitude of their drivers is well worth the extra money though.

Actually bus users will realise the black humour there. Congratulations proffered to drivers that they must be really pleased getting wage increases of nearly 10% a year don’t go down well at all. You’ll be telling me next the money doesn’t go to the drivers!

However, there is some if not good, what might be called decisive news. It is now so much cheaper to use the car that there really is no contest. Here’s a simple example. Cost of going across town to the cinema on a bus for one adult and one child is £2.70 + £1.50 or something (their website has prices from nearly a year ago so I can’t check the kid’s ticket price!). So, that’s £4.20 (off peak). The cost of petrol to do the same distance is what, a pound? I don’t know about you but I work out the cost of doing the journey I’m about to do and don’t factor in insurance and all that stuff. But if you did maybe you’d get to the 40p a mile that businesses use to cover car costs – hey presto still loads cheaper!

I think I've summarised the governments transport policy before but 6 words I think pretty much sums it up. You can quote me if you like: 'Buy a car, sit in traffic'. You can use the acronym BACSIT if you like (pronounced back seat...)

Actually, there's the 'pay huge amounts of tax payers money to the shareholders of private monopolies' bit too. I forgot that. Funnily enough the fab private sector costs a lot more than the rubbish public sector used to.

Funny old world eh? - Designed to look like they're a bunch of crooks

Them were t'days

The above reminds me of a story that my Dad used to tell about the post office years ago. He worked with a bloke who didn’t know until he got to work whether he could get home for lunch. So, said man would nip out from work first thing and send a postcard home when he knew. This would arrive in good time to tell his wife whether he’d be home for lunch or not

– we’re talking the same day! Mind you, they had public transport back then too, and we had industry and taxed the rich a bit (no, really!)

Lost in t'post

Have you noticed that everyone blames the post these days when things don’t arrive? As I’ve said before the post office clearly got bored with all those deliveries and collections and such like and replaced a good service with ‘a reasonable service at £6 a pop’. That and 40 minute queues in post offices I guess. Anyway, the point is that because people find it easy to believe that ‘Royal Mail’ are rubbish it’s actually got too easy to say ‘it’s lost in the post’.

I bought some printer ink on-line (and don’t get me started on printer ink…) and it didn’t arrive. A similar thing happened with a CD from a big firm on ebay. Without so much as a blink both firms immediately sent a replacement or refunded my money when I told them the order hadn’t arrived.

Now it’s possible that firms just re-send loads of expensive stuff to you because it’s all 'lost in the post' at the slightest suggestion from you that its a bit late. However, if you were out of stock or had forgotten to post it or had sold a CD to more than one person or were just slack you could just say ‘We sent it, it must have gone missing in the post, tell you what though we’re so great we’ll send the whole package again'.

Just a thought.

Ebay der der der der der! Ebay!

Ebay have been in touch again. As I’ve said before, I quite like ebay. Unfortunately they’ve made a rather fundamental error. Under a big headline saying ‘Give your wallet a break this January’ they say ‘If your wallet's feeling a bit battered after Christmas, find a bargain on eBay!’

I have an alternative if apparently obvious suggestion (obvious to me at least) which I feel rather contradicts them. This is, ‘If you’re short of money, try not to buy stuff’. This includes stuff from ebay.

So, if your wallet had taken a battering STAY OFF EBAY FOR A BIT YOU IDIOT! OK?

Our Private Friends

Yorkshire Water are back with their threatening letters. Actually, they’re selling insurance which is what we pay a water company for, obviously. This time it’s superficially less scary (the last similar letters were clearly aimed at scaring old ladies half to death unless they paid up) – it’s a ‘Water supply pipe: Information for Homeowners’ letter i.e. an advert with threats.

They’re selling insurance and repairs (by other companies, they probably got bored with repairing pipes in a similar way to the post office getting bored with collecting and delivering post) but in short here’s my translation:

‘We used to be responsible for the water pipes from your house but since this public asset was stolen from you goons without compensation (in fact some of you even bought shares!) the rules have changed - In order that we can make loads more money on the back of your essential needs we’ve been let off repairing the pipes that you once owned and we had to fix. Since we no longer care about these pipes they’re liable to rot away at any minute. If they do we’re going to send you a large bill to get someone to repair them - so fuck you! But if you pay us 20 quid a year we’ll get them fixed a bit quicker and you'll have already paid. Fair enough?

The strange thing is that their new tactic may have worked - I just couldn't summon up the energy to even send them an insulting and gratuitously offensive letter pointing out their cheek. My weakness entirely, I need to buck my ideas up.

Typical work story

At work yesterday I was asked to provide some information. I was asked to email names of staff members along with their start dates, whether they were on temporary or ‘fixed term’ contracts, what holidays they were entitled to etc. General HR information (or personnel in my world). The request came from an admin. person who needed the information for a Regional Director - so he could pass it on to the person who really needed it – the head of HR!

Those of you who work in companies with ‘HR’ departments will be familiar with this kind of thing. Is there anyone out there who knows what these people do?

Bloody Lefties on demos again...almost a joke

It just said on the news that 22,000 police officers demonstrated in London yesterday in support of higher pay ( I wish I got ½ what they do by the way…)

I sincerely hope that 50,000 members of the Stop the War Coalition or similar organisation were bussed in on overtime to hide in Transits in the back streets, take photos of everyone and estimate the numbers at 3,000.

They all wore little white caps or something - strange.

Dontcha just love 'em?

The Home Secretary has just explained on the radio that plans to extend the holding without trail of ‘terror suspects’ are not designed to cover hypothetical future cases because ‘they won’t be hypothetical if they happen’ – Hurray for the English language! Hurray for the Hom Sec! No-one agrees with it apparently but it appears right-wing and macho so it'll do for New Labour.

Get Back!

Hey, I'm back!

Bin off doing Whole Sky Monitor stuff and acoustic stuff, being a record label as well as top artiste etc. etc. Too much music for these pages...