Thursday, 31 December 2009

Year zero

I think without doubt I am becoming a grumpy old bloke. Why else would I get so irritated by the stupidity of others?

Time does not exist! It is merely an invention of man to measure his passing, a mathematical ruse. The calendar is nothing but a mathematical chart. It is not determined or guided by some cosmic being or force. A calendar starts at year 1 and carries on until people get fed up with it. It’s as simple as that.

Given that it is that simple why on earth are there so many idiots that can’t grasp the concept of a decade? I suppose they are the same idiots that thought the millennium started in the year 2000. Everybody has the right to be stupid but so many people seem to want to abuse the privilege.

So for the retarded out there:
Years 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 equal a decade.
Years 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 also equal a decade.
Easy hey?
All you have to do is ‘do the maths’!

If there were a year zero, then this would indeed be the end of a decade, but as there wouldn’t be then this isn’t.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Room 101 won’t work forever

The recent so called attempted bombing on a US aeroplane and the subsequent comments by US political figures does make me wonder if there is any hope for our colonial cousins. The idea that they or anyone else can ‘win’ a ‘war on terror’ is laughable if it wasn’t so sad. What is wrong with these people?

You can’t win at war let alone one ‘on terror’. Violence, suppression and or alienation will do nothing to improve any situation. I don’t care much for capitalism, but if the USA want to use the ‘weapons’ they have at their disposal that are likely to be the most effective they should be utilising Coca Cola, McDonalds, Nike and Starbucks et al. As a country the USA needs to secularise, stop trying (but miserably failing) to take the moral high ground, and then start a consumer goods and services charm offensive.

If capitalism has one redeeming feature it is that it has the capacity to eradicate religion. Personally I’d like to eradicate capitalism as well, but one thing at a time. Religion is after all ‘the opiate of the people’. So first things first!




Monday, 28 December 2009

Nowhere Boy

Boxing Day saw us toddle of to the pictures to see Nowhere Boy, a film essentially about John Lennon’s teenage years up to the time he leaves Liverpool for Hamburg. The film charts his emotionally tumultuous upbringing abandoned by his mother, Julia, brought up by her sister, his Aunt Mimi, being reunited with his mother for a short while until her death, and his musical upbringing. It is I suspect a fine line between success and failure when you come from such a background.


The film charts the early beginnings of his musical career. His first meeting with Paul, there subsequent friendship, and then George joining the band are most definitely covered but a lot of the other musical history is a bit vague. Director Sam Taylor-Wood, in this her debut feature, concentrates on the 'tug of love’ battle between Mimi (played by the delicious Kristin Scott Thomas) and Julia (played by Anne-Marie Duff), giving a flavour of the musical history rather than it been centre stage.

All in all it’s a bloody good film, and a must see for Lennon aficionados, but don’t go expecting to see a Beatles documentary!


If I have one complaint there was no mention of Strawberry Fields.




Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A moving story

After two years of trying we have finally moved permanently to Norwich; our house in Bury St Edmunds sold a month ago, our matchbox of a rented flat in Norwich went last week, and we are now exclusively and firmly ensconced in our new singular abode. Boy are we relieved. Living in two places is no fun.

We have gone from a three bed 1930s semi to a modern maisonette and the moving experience has been akin to fitting a quart into a pint pot. The feeling that we had been moving forever was also upon us. There were dark days when it seemed as if we would never be settled, but thankfully it all came good in the end. It is all still very much living out of cardboard boxes but we are moving forward.

The pain and the stress of moving has meant that I’ve not blogged for some while. This situation has been exacerbated by that well know bunch of shysters that masquerade as a telecoms company, namely BT. BT currently standing for British Telecom, when it should really stand for Bastard Twats!

My telecom hell is detailed in my letter of complaint below:


Dear Sirs,

I have been appalled and upset by the shoddy treatment and total lack of customer service that I have received from your company recently. Here is the catalogue of your failings:

● We advised you that we were moving house and that we wanted to move our line. You gave us a date of 4/12/09 and a time of between 8am and 1pm saying that someone needed to be on the premises during that time implying that a BT engineer would arrive to connect the line and that we would be fleeced ┬ú122.03 for the privilege. Just before 1pm, rather frustrated that no one from you organisation had arrived I called to find out what was going on. Rather arrogantly I was told that the line had been moved without the need to send out an engineer. The line was not working, and I had wasted five hours because you can’t be bothered to keep your customers informed.


● After spending 23 minutes on my mobile trying to point out to your fault service that there was no line to my flat I was told that an engineer would be with me between 1pm and 6pm the next day (5/12/09). At every opportunity I stressed that this was a new build and that I suspected that the wrong flat had been connected. On the 5/12/09 I waited in for five hours. Guess what? No engineer turned up!


● On Monday, when I had access to a land line I phoned to complain/find out what was going on. I was told that the engineer turned up and that no one was at home. I understandably hit the roof. The BT story then changed to ‘the fault was closed’ and, which is the biggest insult, ‘I would be credited the missed visit charge’ - Oh how generous! - I continued to stress that this was a new build, that it had probably been connected to the wrong flat and that someone needed to actually get in a van and come out to us. I was assured that this would happen on 11/12/09. Why did I believe what BT was telling me, when I should have known that it was a lie?


● 11/12/09 arrived, BT didn’t!


● The 11/12/09 is my wife’s birthday. We planned to go out to lunch to celebrate but cancelled because we were keen to get the telephone line sorted. Another 5 hours wasted and my wife’s birthday ruined, and again no real reason given for why BT had failed yet again. Clearly at this point I was getting very agitated and managed to get through to a supervisor that did actually start to help. The best that she could offer me was another 8am to 1pm appointment the next day 12/12/09. I was told that it couldn’t be any narrower a window than that but that she would try and make it a priority.


● 12/12/09 arrived, and the first hour passed, but no sign of BT. I phoned to speak to the supervisor and after much agitation I was told that the job had been issued to an engineer. He turned up and the problem was sorted quite quickly - the line had not been connected up to the correct property (what a surprise) - by 11.30am we had a working phone


This is some of the worst service that I have ever experienced from any organisation. I suspect that it is only the fact BT is a near monopoly that keeps you in business, as it certainly isn’t anything to do with the way you treat your customers. This might come as a shock to you but contempt is not an effective sales tool. Not that anyone will care but we were considering switching to one of your broadband/television packages. As you can imagine, that won’t be happening now. We also intend to switch phone providers as soon as possible.

To sum up:

● BT has cost us a great deal of time and money - please see the invoice herewith
● BT caused us a great deal of stress - not good for two people with high blood pressure
● We had to wait in for a total of 18 hours
● I had to top up my mobile twice (┬ú20 total) to report this ongoing problem
● BT staff are very quick to tell the customer at every available opportunity what BT will charge in the likely event that it is the customer to blame.
● At no time (apart from the 12/12/09) did you even consider keeping me informed.

BT YOU HAVE FAILED BIG TIME!

Rearrange the following words to form a popular phrase to describe BT:

‘arrange’ ‘brewery’ ‘couldn’t’ ‘BT’ ‘piss-up’ ‘a’ ‘in’ ‘a’


Yours faithfully,

P Garrard



Not having a phone connection meant that I could not arrange for my broadband to be moved (as it is with Orange). Last night it returned. Oh happy days!

I’m not holding my breath over even getting a reply from them let alone paying my invoice, but we shall see.

Monday, 21 December 2009

End of the decade my arse!

Why is it that ‘the media’ seem to be under the impression that we are just over a week away from the end of a decade?
Don’t they know we have got another year to go before that happens?
Of course I know the answer:
They and the vast majority of people that consume their nonsense output are too stupid and mathematically challenged to realise any different. They are the same morons who thought the last century ended with the dawn of the year 2000. Tossers!

The current decade ends on 31/12/10 - it’s very simple maths!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Liberty and freedom



As a libertarian I resent the way that the words ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ have been hijacked by the right and used in a fashion that is opposite to what they actually mean; in true 'Orwellian newspeak' stylee.

In reality there is only one true freedom, and that is the philosophical and political doctrine of anarchy. I’m not an anarchist, I certainly wouldn’t advocate such a philosophy, and I can’t imagine any jumped up little tory would do so either. When the right use these words, what they are really saying is, that they want the freedom to oppress, and be at liberty to exploit others less fortunate than themselves.


As Craig Murray wrote on his blog back in May:


There has been a fashion in the blogosphere which needs to be challenged. Blogs of an extreme right wing cast have started to call themselves "Libertarian".



The peculiar thing is, that these neo-con "Libertarians" have, by and large, little or no concern for civil liberties. Very few of these "Libertarians" blogged about the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes, against detention without trial for 42 days, about police violence at the G20 summit. These "Libertarians" do not want to see Guantanamo closed, and are quite happy with extraordinary rendition and the use of torture. Not only will you search the large majority of them in vain for any condemnation of the use of torture in the "War on Terror", but some of them - like Charles Crawford, for instance - have actively blogged in favour of the use of torture.

Libertarians in favour of detention without trial? Libertarians for Guantanamo?

Libertarians for Torture?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

People in need


I don’t like charity, and even less do I like people who say ‘charity begins at home’.

I don’t like charity because in this day and age there should be no need for it. It is not beyond the wit of mankind to be able to feed, clothe and provide shelter for everyone on this planet. A large proportion of us just need to stop being greedy bastards.

People who say ‘charity begins at home’ tend to use this phrase as a metaphor for ‘I’m a racist bastard, and I don’t want any lazy foreigner to benefit’. You just know that when anyone utters those immortal words that they invariably have a much distorted view of the world monochrome mundi.

Whilst I don’t like charity in principle, and in no way wishing to brag, I do give on a regular basis. I don’t see how any compassionate human, that can afford it, would not do so. Today I’ve realised that I tend to take a ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs‘ approach when deciding which charities to give to. Top of my giving list is Oxfam for the very reason that they provide the basics of life to so many people around the world.

I’m not saying that any cause is more deserving than any other. We should each give according to our own conscience. But by the same token I don’t want people to tell me who I should give to. I choose not to give to children’s charities. Not because I hate children, but because they are the high profile charities that seem to hog the limelight at the expense of other less ‘sexy’ charities. I also don’t give to animal charities for similar reasons. A warped perspective? Possibly!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Men Who Stare At Goats

If you read my previous post it will not come as a surprise to learn that in my opinion nothing good ever comes of war. This I believe to be a fact. But war, like so many other terrible events in this world has the ability to ‘inspire’ art. Art invariably warns of and protests against the horror and futility of war. Art is basically the anti-war. Any war that the USA is involved in is always guaranteed to generate protest films. The film I went to the pictures to see the other night was one such film.

The Men Who Stare At Goats is a very funny film, starring Ewan MacGregor, Jeff Bridges, George Clooney and Kevin Spacey. A film about the military, and in particular that well known military oxymoron ‘American intelligence’. The film points out the ridiculous lengths to which military madmen will go to try and get one over on the enemy. The film is based on a book by Ron Jonson, so straight away it has a pedigree, and right from the opening scenes it makes you laugh. It is probably the funniest film I’ve seen this year. It charts the investigation by a journalist of a top secret army corps of ‘psychic soldiers’ and whilst it is utter nonsense at the same time you suspect something like it could well exist or have existed. The title comes from an episode in the film when the most gifted psychic uses his powers for evil and kills a goat by staring at it.

This is a most excellent and funny film on so many levels, with performances from four great actors. It is unquestionably a must watch for all but the moribund!



Sunday, 8 November 2009

Give peace a chance







There are never any winners in war. There never has been and there never will be. So why does so much of the world continue to view it as their dispute solving solution of choice?

Political debate and majority consensus are the only way to solve disputes. War has never solved anything, think about it, a war ends and a political solution is sort. If ‘victory’ is imposed it invariably leads to further wars until what is seen as a just solution by both sides is reached. Why not bypass the painful costly bit? Do what Winston Churchill suggested “Jaw, jaw, not war, war”!

Unfortunately until western nations that purport to take the moral high ground on the world stage actually start to practice what they preach we will never have a chance to eradicate war. Those same western nations continue to put profit and vested interest before justice. If only they could invest in a bit of justice today it would no doubt save countless lives tomorrow. Unfortunately they put trade, and the arms trade in particular before peace. They do this because they believe that they are putting self interest first. This is misguided of course because their self interest would be so much better if the world was war free. They would not need large and resource heavy Defence ministries and the military that they currently support and pay.

If you want a typical example of international injustice an obvious example is Palestine. There have been so many chances to create a free Palestinian state and every time it gets close the west seems to lose its nerve. I’m not naive enough to pretend not to understand the reasons for this.

As a pacifist I cannot support war on any level. I get irritated when people talk about a ‘just’ war, or when they associate the word honour with it. I also get irritated by Remembrance Day and the British Legion. Not because I don’t think that it should take place, it is right that we should never forget, but because the abhorrence of war is lost in the medal jangling and military jingoism of the occasion. I expect Daily Mail and Sun readers would find my viewpoint disrespectful but it is they that are disrespectful. Disrespectful to the fallen, because until we can end war those that have died and those about to die will have fallen in vain.






For those of a religious disposition the injuring, maiming or taking of a human life would seem to be the ultimate blasphemy. Why do religious people tolerate and even advocate something that is so at odds with their beliefs?

“War is over, if you want it.”

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Socks and drugs and rock and roll

Well, actually, just socks.
     
Why is it that once socks are washed that one half of the pair comes out of the machine inside out whilst the other is the right way around?
     
There is clearly some powerful force, or perhaps a sock-fairy that makes sure that this universal law is adhered to.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Religious schools - licensed child abuse


Whilst I abhor physical abuse, messing with people’s minds is equally abhorrent. ‘Brainwashing’ is evil, inexcusable and surely has no place in modern society. I’m quite firmly of the belief that there is no god, although I do accept that it should be a basic human right to be able to practice the religion of your choice. Equally it should be a right not to practice a religion if you so choose. It should be down to the individual,  a matter of personal choice.

Selfish parents are those who choose indoctrination instead of education for their children. Sending a child to a religious school is barbaric and really has no place in the twenty-first century. Teach children about the religions of the world by all means, but imposing a religion upon them is an act of fascism. Religion is something for adults to follow through their own volition. Children’s minds are not sufficiently mature to be able to make choices of this kind. How any self-respecting government could permit religious schools is really beyond comprehension.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Never mind..

It was good to see Jon Richardson on Never Mind The Buzzcocks last night. I rushed back from the pub especially to watch it.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

A jewel to protect

All sorts of people are getting very excited over the BNP being invited onto Question Time by the BBC, and unnecessarily so in my opinion. I feel so lucky that I am able to blog. Okay what I write could usually be considered to be a load of old rubbish, but at least there is nobody telling me what rubbish I can or can’t write. As long as it’s not libellous etc. etc. my blogging is censorship free.

I value that freedom, as do I value the freedom to vote. This is why I don’t agree with those that think that the BNP should not be on the telly tonight. I abhor the BNP. They are scum. But denying them access to the media, when they have legitimately won elections is tantamount to fascism. Ban the BNP and you are no better than they are!

The whole point of democracy is reasoned argument. If you lose sight of that and just want to shout someone down because you don’t agree with them then you are on a slippery slope. Only morons vote for them, but in a democracy everyone gets the vote, even morons.

I’m not sure I can be arsed to stay up and watch Question Time tonight, but if Nick Griffin’s appearance give the left a bit of focus, and galvanises them into delivering a more coherent message, then it has to be good.

Discuss.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

If you prefer a milder comedian

"I’ll give it to you straight.
Like pear cider, made from 100% pears"


Stewart Lee is a very funny man. Probably not be everybody’s cup of tea, but he makes me and many others laugh. His comedy is clever, subtle and thought provoking, and last night, at the Norwich Playhouse, I witnessed him in action. This softly spoken, inventive comedian finds humour is some well known, believably surreal, but surprising areas. Almost as an antidote to his soft-spoken style he uses repetition to reinforce what he wants to convey, and to convey the audience to the punch line. He started the show with a very clever ‘tale’ based around Cafe Nero’s loyalty card. I never knew coffee retailing could be so funny. Soon after he was ridiculing the Top Gear team, an easy target, but he has a nice twist about being at school with Richard Hammond. His act finishing with a history of his family based around a Magners Pear cider advert. Not the stuff of lesser comedians!

This blog likes swearing. It is big and it is clever. But even though we like swearing we do find it tiresome that so many comedians rely too heavily on it for their humour. Every other word being a swear one does start to wear heavy after a while. Yes Stewart Lee swears, but not very often. He uses it to make a point but that is all. Stewart Lee doesn’t need to swear to be funny.

I left the theatre last night still with a smile on my face. I want to see Stewart Lee again. If he’s coming to a town near you I suggest you get off your arse and go and see him. Click here for his current 'if you prefer a milder comedian ask for one' tour dates.







Thursday, 17 September 2009

Money for nothing

One of the great myths of the modern age is that of ‘cost savings’!
Since the days of Thatcher ‘cost savings’ has been a buzz-phrase that has been bandied about by politicians and captains of industry alike. Yes you can on occasions buy the same product or service cheaper (although face value isn’t always a correct measure), and yes you can occasionally change a working method to a more efficient approach, but it is my opinion that these are the exception rather than the norm.

There are some that say never trust any politician. I’m not that cynical, I’m sure that the majority are trustworthy upright citizens. But, what I will say is, don’t believe a politician that tells you they can make cost savings in government, because they rarely can. Think about what cost or efficiency savings really mean. They mean either just not doing the job or getting someone else to do the job for less money. Don’t forget that there are associated costs in taking this type of action:


  • First there is the cost of the consultation with existing employees
  • Then there is redundancy payments
  • Then there is the cost of outsourcing the existing service, if applicable
  • Then there is the new service to pay for, if applicable
  • Plus, don’t forget that there’ll be the feasibility studies to be carried out prior to any changes and the inquiries after the changes to find out what has gone wrong. These all cost money









Another myth is that private companies can do the job better, for less money and make a profit. This is essentially cobblers, and involves the maths of cloud cuckoo land. I’ve been employed in private companies all my working life. Rarely are they efficient, nearly always they exploit. They make a profit by exploiting workers and suppliers alike. Morally it’s wrong, but putting aside the morals of worker exploitation it doesn’t make sense financially. Exploited worker pay less tax, will often need other social payments and benefits, and are less likely to take much pride in their work, especially if they have previously been employed at a higher rate or were on a more generous benefits package. You really do not get something for nothing


Cost savings = some poor sod losing their job and another poor sod being paid a pittance (that could well be the same person)


Efficiency savings = cutting corners and producing shoddy work

A similar principle applies when buying products/things.

The age old adage ‘you only get what you pay for‘ needs to be remembered more often than it is.



Saturday, 12 September 2009

Have you been?

I don’t drink lager that often. Well, its girls beer really. But I bought a six pack of VB (Victoria Bitter - lager from Australia) recently, for old time’s sake. We used to sell loads of it when we had our beer shop. I’m not sure if I bought a dodgy batch but boy does it go through you like a dose of salts. I now have one bottle left and I’ve decided to keep it for when my diet takes a dip on the old roughage!







VB = laxative extraordinaire

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Just cause or impediment

On a recent trip to Waitrose (other supermarkets are available) I noticed that they do something called ‘Wedding Insurance’. Is this a policy in case someone accidentally got married? Something for those who only have to sniff half a shandy and promptly propose to the world and its wife.

I also wondered if the policy covered being stripped stark-bollock naked and handcuffed to a lamppost in some East European city?

What will they think of next?

Monday, 31 August 2009

Hey Mr bass man!




At the Scottish Tory conference nobody has the heart to tell David Cameron that he's forgotten to bring his double bass.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Holy hot air

Apparently atheists are responsible for global warming. It’s all our fault!

Well that’s according to that well known nutter who trades under the alias of ‘The Pope’

Info here...

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Chip butty

Apparently the chip butty has not made it to the more rural parts of Norfolk.           


A work colleague called in to a chip shop in darkest Norfolk the other night and was met with icy stares from the locals queuing up for their fried delights. He asked the person serving if they did ‘chip butties’. The reply was in the negative. He then asked if they did buttered rolls. They did. So he said ‘I’ll have a buttered roll and a portion of chips please, and I’ll build my own’. The locals continued to stand stony-faced. Perhaps they were pondering on this amazing new learning. Perhaps they were trying to work out how to get one inside the other. Perhaps they were terrified by the strange magic of this very forward outsider. Who can say?


Who knows the chip butty might just catch on here in the next twenty years.


Things happen slowly in Norfolk.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Casino Royale

It’s easy to knock Royal Mail, loads of people do, sometimes it’s justified, sometimes not. I’ve always defended them on the grounds that they are a nationalised industry and that you would never get the universal coverage and delivery service for the price from a private company. Unfortunately the Royal Mail and me* have just fallen out of love.

For years now we’ve put up with receiving letters for other houses around us, our mail being delivered to other houses, days when there appears to be no delivery in our street, and expected post never ever arriving. Towards the end of last year tickets to see Tony Benn were, ironically, lost in the post! I’ve taken all this in good humour, until the other day. A week and a half ago there was a card through my door saying that they’d tried to deliver a parcel, no one was at home and it was too big to go through the letter box. This pissed me off because I knew that it wouldn’t be too big! Never the less I gracefully accepted that I would have to collect it and made arrangements to do so, fitting in with the sorting office’s unhelpful opening times. Guess what? They couldn’t find the bloody parcel. The poor postman came back all apologetic suggesting that it might have been sent back and that he would ‘check on the computer’. The speed it took him to do this would suggest that they do only have the one computer, and that it is probably a Commodore 64! By the time he returned a sizeable queue had been building up behind me, moaning, groaning and turning into a ‘lynching mob’. The unfortunate postman suggested that they would hunt for it and deliver it on Saturday. I left in a grumpy mood, never ever expecting to see the aforementioned package. How wrong I was. It arrived on Saturday as promised. Great service! It contained a couple ink cartridges, and yes they would have gone through the letterbox.

I don’t blame the poor old postmen and women for any of this. They are paid a pittance, ever increasing demands are made on them to do more and more, and as a consequence morale is low. The way that Royal Mail is run needs to change radically it’s a public service bozos and not a profit driven company. Trying to turn it into another DHL or UPS will just kill it as the market is saturated enough.

It could be that the universal postal delivery system is an anachronism and that it will fade as digital technology more and more embraces our lives. But it could still have a long life if it were to find out what its customers wanted. Is that too much to ask?





*yes I know it should be ‘the Royal Mail and I’ but I write colloquially!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

We love the NHS



The Norfolk & Norwich Hospital has been great looking after my lady and her broken ankle. I love the NHS and I urge you to add your support.


"I have been profoundly moved by the enormous groundswell of support for the NHS in the last few days. A genuinely National Health Service ‘introduced by a Labour government in the teeth of opposition from the Conservatives and the medical establishment‘ is one of our nation’s finest achievements." - Gordon Brown

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Labour Party

I wrote a post a short while back connected with the democratic process. In it I suggested that I intended to join a political party. Well I’ve done just that. I've just rejoined the Labour Party after a gap of thirty years. Why did I leave all those years ago and why rejoin now?

I left the party in 1979 in what could be described as a marked manner, and had no intention of ever returning. I was so disgusted with the broad labour movement giving Margaret Thatcher such as easy ride to power that I just felt that I no longer belonged in a party and a wider movement that seemed hell bent on self destruction. My feelings were such that I couldn't stomach to witness the inevitable bloodbath that was surely about to happen. I’m glad I didn't hang around because as history affirms it turned out to be more of a massacre than perhaps many of us imagined.

Why rejoin now?
I suppose because I was so incensed by the MP’s expenses 'scandal'. I was incensed that parliament had allowed it to get to the state that it had become, but I was even more incensed at the general public’s reaction. How dare people criticise when they are not prepared to play a part in the democratic process I thought. Then I thought, well apart from vote at every election, what do I do? Democracy is more than just putting a cross on a piece of paper. Democracy is about debate and influencing decisions. The degree to which you do this is up to the individual and what they feel comfortable with, but it is a healthy democracy that has a high degree of engagement from the constituency at large.

So I have rejoined the Labour Party to reconnect with the democratic process. I'm not sure yet to what extent my involvement will be but I intend to play my part however small. Watch this space.


Tuesday, 21 July 2009

How fucking barbaric is this?

Muslim woman to be flogged in Malaysia over beer

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia ‘ An Islamic court in Malaysia has sentenced a Muslim woman to be flogged with a rattan cane for having a beer in a nightclub, a court official said Tuesday.
"


What makes it even more sickening is that it's in the name of something that doesn't exist.
There is no God, so drink as much beer as you like!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Edward II

Saturday saw me at the Ely folk festival. The big draw for me was Edward II. They have reformed for ‘one year only’ and I just had to see them. It had been quite a few years since I’d last seen them which was just before they split up, disbanded or whatever you want to call it and I was wondering if they’d lost the magic.

Edward II, who were originally called Edward II and the Red Hot Polkas, nice historical joke, are a roots fusion band. They take traditional folk tunes and songs from these isles and give them a ska, reggae or polka treatment, then on other occasions they’ll take modern reggae songs and enhance them with a little local English flavour. It all makes for a highly danceable and pleasing sound. Whilst they are saying that they have reformed for one year only I do hope it is for longer, or that they have frequent ‘get togethers’. They are a quality band and I don’t understand why they were never more popular than they are. They easily have the ability to cross over, but I suppose that’s the nature of the folk world, it is largely ignored by the mainstream music business, which is a shame.

I was not disappointed. They played a blinding set including all their old favourites. I’d forgotten about Simon Care. What can you say about Simon Care? Top class melodeon player and all round nutter perhaps? He bounces around on stage playing with his squeeze box and leering at the audience in a Johnny Rotten style that he has made his own. That coupled with fine musicianship from all the other members including a really strong mini horn section makes for a very round sound. If you get the chance to go and see Edward II do so. I guarantee that you will find it impossible to stay still while they are on.

Other great acts I saw included, Chris While and Julie Matthews (always top performers), Something Nasty In The Woodshed, QP and Flossie Malavialle (an amusing and attractive young French lady who speaks English with a French/Geordie accent - quite surreal). I didn’t bother staying for the final act The Peatbog Faeries, as I just wasn’t bothered, Edward II were top of the bill as far as I was concerned.

Friday, 10 July 2009

We get what we deserve

The recent shenanigans over MPs expenses have left me shouting, ‘What do you expect? ‘at the telly and/or radio on a number of occasions. This is not because I’m a cynic that believes that power corrupts and that they are all in it for the money. Heaven forbid. No, I shout because people are so quick to criticise whilst sitting on their fat arses, whilst at the same time they are not prepared to engage with the democratic process. How many of those that moan actually turn out and vote at every election? When you discover that it’s usually in around 60%/70% for a general election and around half that for local or Euro elections it shows what a farce our democracy is. ‘He who is without sin cast the first stone’. Participation doesn’t end with trolling down to the polling station, that’s just a tiny part of it. Elections are about choosing a representative, but how can they represent the people in their constituency when they don’t know how those people feel? How can they be held to account if they are not questioned, challenged or lobbied by the people they represent?

If we are to live in a true democracy then it requires the vast majority of the people to participate in a more vigorous way than they do now. That means that people should join a political party, go to surgeries, go to council meetings, ‘shout’ about what they believe in and generally let their representatives know how they feel. Until we all start doing some of this we have absolutely no right to criticise and no right to expect MPs, councillors etc to do any better than they are now. That not to say that many don’t do a good job already, because many do. You will often find that idealism, and not personal gain, is what drives people into politics. I think it’s fair to say, no matter of what persuasion that you are, that our prime minister Gordon Brown is one such politician. Doing something, however small, is better than nothing. If you don’t feel ready to go to join a party or go to meetings then start small. If you are reading this then the chances are that you have internet access (unless someone else has printed this out for you). Check the news sites to see what your representatives are up to. Join in with online debates on forums and blogs. Visit ‘TheyWorkForYou.com‘. This is a really useful website that helps to keep tabs on the UK’s parliaments and assemblies, and it also allows you to contact your representatives about issues that are dear to your heart. A sister site’WriteToThem.com‘ enables you to make contact with local councillors and MEPs.

Please do something, however small. Our democracy needs you! Use it or lose it.

Just in case you are wondering, I plan to join a political party, and to see where that takes me.


X

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Sportique

I have never really been one for partaking in any sport for the purposes of enjoyment, apart from badminton which was okay when I played with friends just as a knock-about sport. To me sport is something that gives you exercise and is not done for any enjoyment. At school (many many moons ago) I would try and avoid team games. I hate team games and have had nothing to do with them since leaving school. Today most of my exercise is derived from walking, which is far and beyond the most sensible way to retain a modicum of fitness.

There you have it, playing team games and sport in general is basically a shit thing to do. It’s Neanderthal activity for those that are too half-witted to partake in the arts. Given that playing sport is the lowest of the low what does that make those poor lost souls that want to watch it?
I have never been able to fathom out why anyone would want to watch sport of any kind. What can people possibly gain from it? Personally I’d rather watch paint dry than watch sport. Having to suffer 90+ minutes viewing of 22 overpaid lower life forms dragging their knuckles around a football pitch is my idea of hell. Hell comes in many forms, this week it is cricket, last week it was tennis, next week it will be something equally boring. What is the point of it all?

When I’m being entertained, I want to be challenged, amazed and/or amused. I have no wish to sit like a vegetable gawping at boasters of physical prowess. As if watching sport is not bad enough some people actual pay good money to do so. They must be truly mental. Perhaps there should be an extra tax on people who watch sport, as clearly they have more money than sense and therefore would presumably not be too bothered about being relieved of some more of it.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

The liberty bodice brigade

‘Liberty’ and ‘freedom’ are two very powerful and emotive words that rational left thinking people should hold very dear, yet we allow the right, and more often the extreme right to hijack them. In true Orwellian newspeak stylee they bandy them around to add weight to their arguments, and we allow them to wear them like they own them. I’m sure you know the type of people I mean. They are those that Monty Python (or was it I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again?) said droned on and on until they fell over backwards. They are inbreeds and their lackeys, and they oppose all change. They protested about the legalisation of homosexuality. They want to bring back hanging. They don’t believe in equal opportunities. They are usually racist. They want out of the European Union. They don’t want to pay taxes unless it’s for ‘defence’ or the police. They think blood sports are good clean fun, that health and safety is a joke, and that the law is there just to keep little people in their place.

They portray advances towards civilisation and democracy as attacks on personal liberty and the erosion of freedom. Their idea of freedom is the freedom to oppress and exploit others. They appear in various guises from Tory party member, to Daily Mail reader via UKIP and the BNP. They are the land-owners, the pro-hunting lobby and the anti smoking ban whingers. They believe that fat cat captains of industry should be paid obscene amounts, whilst at the same time suggesting that the pittance of a minimum wage is ruining business. They are reactionary knob-heads, and they are holding this country back. A plague on all their houses!
Of course in reality there is only one true freedom, and that is anarchy. A concept most of the liberty bodice brigade just couldn’t comprehend.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Long-haired lout

For quite a few years now my haircut of choice has been a Nº4 up the back and sides and a Nº6 on top. Upon moving to Norwich I decided that I would grow it long in a last-ditch attempt to have a ponytail before it all starts to fall out.

I had previously said goodbye to shoulder length hair back in 1977 at the same time as I parted company with my flairs. My hair is just about shoulder length again although I don’t think anything could persuade me to wear flares. God that was not a good look, and don’t get me started on ‘Loon Pants’ which were indeed a crime on humanity. It is still not quite long enough to fashion into a ponytail but it won’t be long so in anticipation I’ve purchase myself a pack of black elasticised hair band thingies from that nice Mr Tesco. I shall inevitably look like a complete twerp when the time comes, but it’s got to be done: 'a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do', so to speak!

I had forgotten how much of a pain in the proverbial long hair was. It takes forever to dry. Brushing or combing it is quite painful as it seems continually to be tangled up in knots. I am a martyr to my boyish good looks!

Once I’ve achieved my goal its days will be numbered as I can’t wait to return to the low maintenance option of the close cut Barnet. As my hair inevitably thins out I intend to have it cut even shorter. No Bobby Charlton comb-over for me.

Something for the weekend sir?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Shit happens, again!

It was a cruel irony that a couple of days before the start of national Carers Week my lady, who works in that sector within local government, fell and broke her ankle, again, and I effectively became her carer. Our life was thrown out of kilter a couple of weeks ago and it is taking me a while to adjust to coping with everything I have to do. The break was quite bad this time, in fact it was two fractures, and so they had to operate and put plate and pins in. As a result she has to keep her leg up most of the time for the next six weeks.

In some ways we were a bit prepared for the consequences of the temporary disability as it’s less than a year since she broke her ankle (same one) before, but unfortunately she has less mobility this time.

I really feel for those that are full-time/permanent carers. It’s not an easy job. Without them the health and social service sectors would grind to a halt. Carers are so vital yet so often go unsung. Our predicament should be short lived. We’ve just had to put our lives on hold for a short period. But for those that have to live this way all of the time I am sure often struggle.

My lady has been treated at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where the treatment and the staff have all been first class. It’s a modern hospital that was one of the first, I believe, to have been built as a public-private ‘partnership’. Apart from that I only noticed one major flaw it has been designed, probably, by able bodied people for able bodied people. Yes they have no doubt conformed to disability legislation but that is really as far as it goes. You don’t really notice these things until it affects your life in some way. It is just so hard to take someone with their leg in plaster to Out Patients firstly there is a distinct lack of managed space to drop someone off by car, and near enough to the entrance. The next hurdle is to wander off and find a wheelchair. Another trial. I’m sure that those that are permanently disabled would be thinking that I should stop whinging and to stop being such a big girl’s blouse. Which may well be a fair point but my next gripe I feel is much warranted. You would imagine that a fracture clinic is going to have more than its fair share of bods on crutches or in wheelchairs. That given why on earth are their waiting rooms so user unfriendly?
There is nowhere to park a wheelchair, movement around chairs is difficult, nay precarious, and for a new facility that is treating people with broken bones it’s diabolical!

All these shenanigans along with some heavy duty diy, some days away and other assorted grief prior to The Lady’s accident has meant that I’ve been neglecting my blogs. I hope I’ve now got things under control and can get back to blogging a bit more. Watch this (and this: www.realaleblog.co.uk) space.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Can these colonials get anything right?

Only in America!

Presumably they don't have a trades description act in the US of A or has scientific thinking changed on the makeup of sugar?

See the carbon free sugar here.


Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Roast beef and custard

Last night we went to the Norwich Arts Centre to see a performance of a show of words and music called ‘Phrased & Confused’. Unfortunately it was not that well attended (thank goodness they are getting an Arts Council grant). Whether this was down to poor publicity, poor or insufficient reviews or just bad luck I have no idea but it did seem a shame. The arts are going to suffer in this recession of that there is no doubt.

The show was basically made up of four acts:

• Dead Poets, a mash-up of MC-ing and poetry, courtesy of MC Mixy and poet Mark Grist.
• ‘atmospheric’ poet Aoife Mannix and accordionist Janie Armour
Murray Lachlan Young
• Canadian folk collective Woodpigeon

Each act was very different from all of the others, which meant there was essentially something for everyone. I was impressed by the Dead Poets they amused, they pushed at a few boundaries and they provoked a few thoughts in me. I’ve no doubt that it has been done, but I sat thinking that a Shakespeare play executed in the rap style would be interesting to watch. The main reason for going, as far as I was concerned, was to see Murray Lachlan Young, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. His shit-hot alliteration, assonance and good old fashioned repetition, along with diverse subject matter, amusing introductions and very funny poems delivered in a faultless and expressive manner make for a mesmerising performance. The audience loved him and rightly so. The man is a genius. If you get a chance to see this man, do it. You will not regret it, I promise you!

Unfortunately I didn’t go a bundle on the other two acts. That’s not to say that they weren’t any good, it was just that they weren’t to my liking. They simply were not my cup of tea. My only criticism is with whoever produced the show. Shoddy would be putting it mildly. Very little thought seemed to have been given to the flow of the performance, as a result the pace was just so erratic that it reduced the impact, and at times challenged one’s concentration. It had the feeling of being slung together with very little thought which is so unfair to the artists involved. Think of it as a three course meal with its constituent parts served up in big uncomplimentary incompatible dollops. With a holistic approach the result would have most definitely been a show that was far greater than the sum of its parts rather than the pig’s ear that it was!


P.S Murray Lachlan Young was truly the headline act so why wasn’t he put on last?

Thursday, 30 April 2009

We’re all doomed!

THE RECESSION IS OVER!

The recession, that catastrophic financial near-Armageddon is over. We are no longer going to be forever bankrupt as a nation. The reason: The Media has a new scare to generate an abundance of hot air. WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE! Well I suppose that’s stating the bleedin’ obvious, but our doom is considerably more impending than perhaps we imagined if the newspapers, radio and telly are to be believed. Swine Flu is the latest craze, and boy are they going to town on it.

The News Media could best be described as a nagging old busybody, and “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”* It seems to have nothing better to do than whip the public up into frenzy. In a world where there is so much disease, famine, poverty, injustice and war that largely goes unreported it is sickening when something that affects a few white people gets so heavily reported.

We received this email at work today. Opportunist or what?

I fully expect that any day now that a newspaper will report that the government has awarded a contract to Capita to recruit staff to push hand-carts, ring hand-bells and shout “bring out you dead!”

Is it me?






* Queen Gertrude - Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, by Willy the Spear shaker

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Shakespeare





"Shakespeare was a man of wit,
And on his shirt he had some sh…


…irt buttons!"


Had he lived, young Willy would have been 445 today.

Today should be a bank holiday, but only in celebration of The Bard!

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

Sunday, 19 April 2009

AC/DC

It had been thirty five years since I’d been to a really huge concert, the last one being Emerson Lake & Palmer back around this time in 1974. I’ve always liked AC/DC although I wouldn’t claim to be their biggest fan, but when a friend asked if I’d like to go and see them at the O2 Arena I jumped at the chance. So on Tuesday afternoon we trogged off to Londinium to see the show.

The support band was The Answer, from Belfast, and I’m sure they’ll go far. The singer sings in a Robert Plant style, nasally, a style that has never done Robert any harm. For all I know they could well be big already, but if they keep it up no doubt they will be filling arenas in their own right one day.

AC/DC were everything you’d expect. They are not the most innovative of rockers but they have a winning formula and they deliver it with great precision. There is no mistaking who the star of the show is and that’s Angus Young. If you don’t know who Angus is then if I say he’s the guitarist who wears the blazer, short trousers, school cap and satchel you’ll know, unless of course you have absolutely no interest in the popular culture of rock-a-boogie.

I remembered why I don’t go to large arena concerts when I got there. Even in the decent seats you are still a long way away from the stage. Most of my concert going is to smaller venues, I like the intimate feel, and I like to see the whites of their eyes! Although distant you could still appreciate the action, and the large screens that flashed with graphics and close-ups all add to the experience and ensure that you miss nothing. The show started with a short animation, staring Angus obviously, about a runaway train and inspired by the latest album. It builds up the tension very well the train crashes, the stage lights up and the band start to play. The set is a mix of old favourites and samples from their latest waxing - something for everyone.



Apart from some lengthy pauses between songs the show was perfect. They are a well rehearsed band with a tight road crew/organisation. The lighting, graphics, pyrotechnics and even the not so tasteful inflatable Rosie were all slotted in seamlessly along the concert timeline.

Brian Johnson, the lead singer struts, well waddles really, around the stage wearing his trademark cloth cap and sporting a six pack that probably owes more to the likes of Newkie Brown rather than any gym. He knows his place. I suspect when the Ex-Geordie singer was recruited to the band after Bon Scott’s death he was told not to ‘hog the limelight’. Meanwhile Angus dominates the proceedings through his undoubted skill and sheer energy. Having said that I don’t think I’m completely sold on the merits of his strip-tease although I did think it was a nice touch when he dropped his trousers to reveal the AC/DC logo on the arse of his pants.




In theory I shouldn’t really like AC/DC but I always have. I bought their first album on vinyl at the time of its release, when they were relatively unknown. They are the musical equivalent of Jeremy Clarkson. Their show is mighty on the macho. Macho by definition borders on the misogynistic which obviously fills me with unease. But on a baser level I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Oh the angst of the white middle-class middle-aged ponderer!

Brand AC/DC is a powerful and lucrative brand to be sure. It does what it says on the label and as a result I suspect that many a happy punter went home that night from the concert. I know I enjoyed it. My hearing didn’t recover for a day and a half. Boy, were they loud!


Further info:
concert pictures
official website

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Busy

Easter was a busy weekend, unfortunately I was busy decorating. I hate DIY with a passion. Yesterday I went and saw AC/DC at the O2 Arena. Excellent! If I have time I’ll blog about it.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

No-pay day

This recession, this unwelcome manifestation is hitting people in many different ways. I feel for those that have lost their jobs, for those that are about to lose their jobs, and those on short time working, which incidentally includes myself. I have no idea if I will come through this with my job intact but hopefully these measures that the company I work for is taking will do the trick. Each employee has to take five days off without pay per quarter. Small beer compared with what is happening in some companies, but never the less it represents a cut in pay; a cut that most of my colleagues are not happy with. I feel sorry for those single parents and others with young families and large mortgages, for them the loss of 1.6 days money per month is a hardship, although it might not sound like it. No doubt some will have to tighten their proverbial belts a bit further.


For me, whilst I shall miss the money and have to watch the pennies a bit more carefully, I welcome the extra time off, and I plan to put it to good use, writing this for a start. Whilst it’s considered as a no-pay day you do get some money. The government actually gives you £21.50 for the day. Hardly compensation for most, but it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. As far as I’m concerned time not spent at work is a valuable commodity, and I see this as an opportunity to do something that I enjoy, write. I plan to write a book. I’ve no idea if it will see the light of day, but I’ve made a start. I shall use my other no-pay days to continue this project. Today was my first no-pay day. Watch this space.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Nothing left

Socialism isn't dead it's just resting a bit, and I am convinced that one day it will make an impressive come back. After all, the basic principles are pretty sound. If you truly understand what socialism is about you can't fail to want to embrace it, unless you are a totally heartless and greedy bastard. There is a no more equitable system than a true socialist path. I believe in, what Billy Bragg once sang about “a socialism of the heart". That's not to say that my head doesn't have an influence. But if you are not a compassionate and caring individual who has a love for humankind you are not likely to become or even expound socialist ideas and principles.

Thatcher thought she presided over the eradication of the socialist left, perhaps she did, and perhaps that was no bad thing, but the ideals of socialism live on. I feel that the time has come, for those of us that have kept the faith, to remind people about how good it could be. Now I know that some souls will have been plugging away with the same message for years, but nothing is constant and many of the ideas of the left that seemed appropriate or fashionable in the twentieth century probably won't be applicable today. If lasting socialist inspired governments are to be established a new way of communicating is needed.

The current economic turmoil that the western world finds itself in along with the impending ecological doom that will surely turn the world upside down and offer a perfect base to start building a new socialist future.

Discuss

Friday, 2 January 2009

New Year's Day

Another great thing about living in Norwich is that it is so close to the coast. This made it easy for us to yesterday pootle down to Horsey in search of baby seals.

Although a grey day it wasn’t too unpleasant weather-wise. We lunched at the Nelson’s Head before heading off to the beach. From the pub I would suggest that it is a good mile/mile and a half walk to where you can view the seals. I hadn’t realised that Horsey was part of the Broads National Park, but apparently it is. The Park authority now rope off the beach on the sand dunes that are set back from water and beach itself so that the seals a relatively undisturbed. This is just as well as there were hordes of people there to witness this amazing event.



There seemed to be quite a mixture of seals at various stages of the reproductive process. Lying around on the beach were mating couples, pregnant females, pups suckling, inquisitive more advanced pups, and bulls swimming and diving in the sea.
Apparently once a pup has first malted they become quite inquisitive and have a tendency to come to have a look at these strange creatures that have in turn come to look at them. They clamber through the dunes in their own lovable and clumsy way coming very close to us humans, sniffing, snorting and passively growling as they do so. The pub below came right up to my feet. I’ve placed a short video on YouTube of this pup as it waddled towards me.