Saturday 31 December 2011

Anti-American sentiment

The occasional visitor to my blog might be forgiven for thinking that my odd rantettes about American language mean that I’m in some way anti-American. I would like to emphatically state that I am most certainly not!  

For the record:

  • I work for an American owned company
  • I have nothing against American people
  • I’m not against American culture – I listen to American music. I watch American films and sometimes American television programmes. I like an amount of American art.

What I don’t like is American imperialism both political and cultural. It’s their arrogance in thinking that their language, culture and beliefs are über alles. That infuriates me. It’s an arrogance born out of insularity. Unfortunately the impact that American cultural imperialism has over here is amplified by stupid British people, who use Americanisms because they don’t know any better, or worse still because they think that it is somehow fashionable or clever. And, it’s a situation made even worse by what was and still should be the bastion of British culture and language, Auntie Beeb. Sadly the BBC seems to love Americanisms. As a consequence we are doomed!

Friday 30 December 2011

Stewart Lee to guest edit R4's Today tomorrow

Just a reminder that the clever, astute and very funny comedian Stewart Lee is to guest edit the Today Programme on New Year’s Eve.

The selfish festival

I was amazed to see this link, entitled “How to sell unwanted presents” on Yahoo finance. The article epitomises one of the aspects that has encouraged me to hate Christmas. “Christmas comes but once a year, and when it comes it frequently brings with it a load of tat that you wouldn't be seen dead with. Here's how to off-load it.” That statement sums up the sheer pointless stupidity of it all. Christmas is fuelled by ignorance, greed and ungratefulness. It is not magical it is just a facade. Christmas is a lie!

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Mustard or tomato sauce?

In need of a breath of fresh air I wandered out on Boxing Day afternoon. We live close-ish to the Riverside shopping area in Norwich and all was quiet as I walked across Morrison’s empty car park, but I was surprised to see much activity as a bunch of shops on the far side hove into view. I hadn’t realised just how many shops open on Boxing Day. It would seem that even though many people had overspent at Christmas they were still keen to part with hard earned dosh or dosh yet to be earned. There was hustle and bustle in the clothes, electrical, household and hobby shops. People even had need for things at a pound. I was truly amazed. What is wrong with people?

I have only ever seen shopping as a banal chore. How anyone can derive pleasure from it is beyond me. I do have this feeling that the sort of people that see shopping as recreation also watch soaps and reality programmes on the telly, will see celebrities and the monarchy as something to be interested in and be hoodwinked by every fad and fashion that the media dictates; sheep!

I suppose one can dismiss such behaviour as shiny bead syndrome; people are hypnotised by what is put in front of them and fed to them. Whilst not really understanding it by interpreting it like that I can sort of accept it and leave it at that. As I walked by the open shops I noticed that there was a hotdog stand on the footpath, and not only that there were between six and eight people queuing for hotdogs. That perplexed me totally. No doubt after the excesses of the previous day why on earth would anyone what a hotdog whilst out shopping, and why would anyone queue for such a pointless comestible?

Sunday 25 December 2011

Stewart Lee chats to Oliver Cromwell

Stewart Lee chats to Oliver Cromwell about Christmas:

The man who temporarily freed us from the tyranny of monarchy would have been horrified at what Christmas has become. He would no doubt also have been horrified at our stupidity in retaining a monarchy.

"Comedian Stewart Lee, who will be guest editing the Today programme on New Year's Eve, brought puritan Oliver Cromwell back to life to find out whether he is as disproving of modern Christmas shopping as he was when he was Lord Protector."

Saturday 24 December 2011

Keep taking the tablets

On the first of January this year I purchase a Samsung Galaxy Tab, which is I guess a tablet PC. It is much more versatile, in my humble opinion, than the over-hyped bling that is the iPad. It is packed with so many great features, and one in particular that I love is its ability to display eBooks in a number of different formats, thus allowing me to buy books from a number of different sources. I’ve purchased a read quite a few books in this format now, plus I still read yer actual physical books as well. I read the Jon Richardson book that I reviewed here on it. The only criticism that I have of reading books electronically is that I had no real concept of where I was in the book and as a consequence the end can come unexpectedly sometimes. I suspect that you can set it to show your progress but I haven’t bothered to work that one out. To be fair a little bar does appear when the book appears on the screen but this soon fades and if you become engrossed in the reading it is easy to forget. The advantage it has over a Kindle is that it is back-lit so you can read it in whatever lighting conditions.

But enough of the e-reader apps the Galaxy Tab can do a whole host of things. It is very much an over-sized phone so you get a camera, you can text and make phone calls on it, surf the web and much, much more. I do much of the shopping on it. But more than anything else I use it to tweet on. Since owning this piece of kit I have developed a mild addition to Twitter. The operating system is Android which means that there are thousands of apps and you are not tied in to buying stuff via Apple.

I now use the Galaxy Tab as my mobile phone. I don’t actually make or receive many phone calls as such on any phone. I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise when I tell you that I don’t like talking on the phone. Give me text every time! Clearly I would look an even bigger twerp than I already am if I was to hold the Tab to my shell-like so I have invested in a Bluetooth earpiece which it has to be said works really well. Again not wishing to look the part I don’t wear the earpiece all of the time. This approach creates another problem; what to do with the slightly fragile earpiece. The solution was provided by a local ‘head’ shop as below:

Thursday 22 December 2011

Soup rules okay

Etiquette and manners are all very fine but there is only one rule that matters when it comes to soup, and that’s to do with an accompaniment, bread. Bread and soup go together so well. And the bread you choose will vary depending on the type of soup. But there is one crime so heinous that it should never ever be contemplated. That crime is to put butter or margarine on the bread. It is fine to dip your bread in soup, or to mop up the last soup dregs lurking in the bowl with some bread, but you should never ever put any spread on your bread!

Thursday 15 December 2011

Edward Burra

Last weekend we spent a couple of days in picturesque Chichester. Our main reason for going was to see an exhibition of the work of Edward Burra 1905-1976. My favourite period in art and design is around the 1930s and as it turns out many of Edward Burra’s paintings that I like the most are also from this time. Much of his subject matter from around this time is of the seedier side of life and features night creatures from bars, the theatre and the streets.

His style of painting, which has presumably inspired others that have followed him, for the most part has a rounded soft silky quality. His people have shiny fine fabric like skin, curvaceous heads and bodies, with eyes that look into the distance as if looking nowhere at all. He breathes life into inanimate objects. You might well want to stroke the Lorries he paints from later in his career as if they were a cat or a gerbil.

As well as the sizeable collection of paintings at the Pallant House Gallery there is also a video presentation in which we learn that he liked to travel and would go off without saying where he was going. That he would slide out unnoticed from social gatherings. He liked to have a good time but didn’t much care for ‘fuss’, and when he was awarded a CBE he managed to get out of going to the palace to collect it, usefully citing ill health as a reason for non-attendance. Edward Burra seemed like an okay dude.

If you get the chance this is a must visit exhibition and it is on until the 19th February 2012

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Trouble at the front

I’ve seen the future. The future is R&B. The future is Vintage Trouble. Just when you think that there is no longer any heart and soul in music along come the messiahs to deliver us from the wilderness of popular music.

Tonight Vintage Trouble played The Waterfront in Norwich and blew the audience away. Vintage Trouble is a beat combo that I feel sure is going to go places. Well they’ve already been places; since their memorable performance on Later With Jools Holland they seem to have been touring virtually non-stop. They play a mix of up tempo R&B, soulful ballads and good honest blues. The lead singer is hot, the bass player is oh so cool, the guitarist grinds and weeps while the Animal on the drums glues the outfit together. We were given nearly two hours of their distinctive sound delivered with enough energy to light up the whole of Norwich. You can’t keep still to Vintage Trouble; even the dead would get up and dance.

“Lord have mercy on my soul!”

Friday 9 December 2011

The Blue Meanies are all scoundrels

As I’m sure you can imagine I have no truck with nationalists or patriots. I’m with Oscar on that one. The concept of a British identity is as impossible to define as a sense of Britishness is laughable. And, don’t get me started on the Bulldog-spirit or the retro-racist-speak from circa 1940. It’s all phoney. It has nothing to do with national identity or interests and everything to do with oppression.

It can never be said enough but I am no lover of capitalism. I don’t like it but accept that until a majority want it changed that’s the way it is going to be. Having said that if I had a choice between the partially-regulated (and one may say highly successful) capitalism of mainland Europe and the rape and pillage model that the Tories love, I know which one I’d plump for!

David Cameron is an even bigger tosser than I ever thought possible for effectively giving away any influence that we might have had in Europe. This is particularly foolish in my opinion because I’m convinced that the €uro will bounce back, aided by the new disciplines that will be put in place. This will put the €uro-zone countries in an even stronger position within the EU. The €uro-zone will be firmly in the EU driving seat. Cameron’s made us the fat smelly spotty lad that no one in the playground wants to play with. We are the Shit-Leg* of Europe

The company I work for is a manufacturer. Yes we are that rare commodity, a company that does engineering/manufacturing in the UK! Guess where the majority of our customers are? In the €uro-zone of course! If our economy is to survive and bounce back it’ll be companies like ours that will need to thrive. If a country doesn’t make things then it is lost. Even Switzerland has a manufacturing industry! The way the Tories are acting UK plc is rapidly going to become an offshore banking business, and nothing else; a place where only the rich can afford live permanently; a place where the non-rich servant-proles are bused in on a daily/weekly/monthly basis to do the menial tasks and are then sent ‘home’ again. If the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish have got any sense they’ll break away from the United Kingdom. For us English that aren’t millionaires I guess we’ll be forced to live in Calais and beyond. I suppose it could be worse, couldn’t it?

*a reference to a poor persecuted lad at my school all those years ago

Thursday 8 December 2011


So much of Dickens' writing has passed into everyday parlance and the term Scrooge is no exception. It has metamophosised from a noun to an adjective and is used to describe someone who is penny-pinching, miserly or a hater of Christmas. But is this the correct way to use Scrooge? Surely the story is about a repentant sinner therefore shouldn’t the emphasis be on the positive? So by calling someone a Scrooge you are saying that they have changed for the positive in your eyes. I commend this motion to the house.

Friday 2 December 2011

People need to stand on their own two feet!

Amongst the narrow-minded rich and middle-classes there is a concept of the undeserving poor. The idea that those at the lower end of the income and wealth spectrum are all feckless and lazy continues to pre-occupy those that can only think in black and white. Sadly what most of them fail to grasp is that if we had some fairness in society, a level playing field that truly put us on the road to genuine equality, then less of what they see as government hand-outs would be necessary. Incidentally I've always thought that in the main 'those on benefits are living a life of luxury in abject splendour' is a myth that is as far from the truth than it could possibly be. And before you offer up examples about so-and-so who's never done a day’s work in their life base your utterances on pure fact rather than supposition.

If people are to work and ‘pay their way’ in the world society needs to get real. Those misinformed Daily Mail* readers et al need to understand that there are no quick fixes and that some fairness needs to be applied. There are far too many forelock-tugging cretins spouting things like “there’s plenty of jobs about, they just don’t want to work” etc. etc. For a start there are more unemployed people than jobs to go round and of the few jobs that there are so many are far too poorly paid. Society seems to accept employers exploiting many many workings with the same indifference with which it accepts the obscenely overpaid people at the top.
In principle I’m not agin the notion that people should provide for themselves economically. Although I would always be concerned that there were enough safeguards in society to provide for those unfortunate enough to not be capable of doing so. But if we are to enable more people to provide for themselves and not have to suffer the indignity of relying on the welfare state a very simple framework of provisions will need to be put in place. Those will include:

  • Decent affordable housing for all (the most important foundation for a stable life-style)
  • Affordable transport for all
  • Free Numeracy and literary skills courses for adults
  • Relevant training schemes for those looking for work
  • A living wage as the very minimum for any job
  • Enough jobs to go round




*the paper that supported Hitler

Thursday 1 December 2011

The knob Clarkson

We must thank Jeremy Clarkson. Not for his utterances but for awakening the spirit of right-minded people. Thousands complained to the BBC and Twitter went ballistic. This has to be good. The left need to learn from this. To win the hearts and minds of the majority we need to convey our reasoned arguments via every means possible, and in great numbers. We need to speak to the masses as if as one voice.

Don’t do that George

Tuesday’s Autumn Statement delivered by the chancellor the Right Honourable Knob-head George Osborne didn’t really come as much of a surprise to most right thinking people. The only astonishing thing is that he seems pig-headedly resolute to carry on with this failed strategy.

There is only one thing to say at a time like this and that’s Keynesianism!

Thinking out of the box

Up and down the land, in every pub, on every form of public transport, on radio phone-ins, in the workplace you hear the blinkered morons offering their opinions with a banal simplicity. They are the loud-mouthed brain-washed foot soldiers that halt progress; they stop this country from moving forward.

I don’t care much for ‘management speak’. I’m sure you know the sort of thing, the likes of, “run it up the flagpole and see who salutes” etc. etc. But there is one of these sayings that I would use in certain circumstances and that saying is, as the title of this post suggests, “thinking out of the box”.

“Thinking out of the box” is a commodity that is in very short supply. It is like ‘common sense’ which I find is rarely that common; an irony lost on most people.

Cause and effect are rarely linear. We live in a fractal world.

Narrow mindedness is an affliction that far too many people suffer from in this country. I'm sure you know the sort; the Neanderthal Sun reader, the middle-class Daily Mail* bigots; the sort of people who think all of the world's ills can be cured by a slogan. The sort of people who will blame the world's ills on health & safety, the smoking ban, immigrants, speed cameras, the EU, trade unions, the gay community, the CofE, the BBC, BB King, Doris Day, Matt Busby et al. They will be climate change deniers. They are people who would rather accept conspiracy theories and superstition over logic and learning. These people need to think out of the box. But how do we get them to do that?

*the paper that supported Hitler