Monday 14 March 2011

Who wants to know?

The day we moved into this little cottage coincided with the 2011 census form falling on the new doormat. I opened and had a laugh as did many households. ‘Do you speak English?’ No, can you send me a form written in German? ‘This question is intentionally left blank’….One assumes they had forgotten the question they were intending to ask!
What I find quite confusing is the ethnic question. It seems one can no longer settle for being British. I have always been British and quite proud of it. The fact that I don’t live permanently in Britain is my choice. The fact that I don’t live in Britain also, I believe, exemplifies me from filling in the illiterate rubbish anyway. Am I breaking the law? Well catch me if you can, because if I don’t fill it in, you won’t know where I live!
 When it comes to Rugby, yes I support England because that is where I was born. But does that make me English? I don’t want to be English, I have met a lot of English people in France and I don’t like many of them. My grandmother was Welsh, does that make me Welsh? After all, my brother supports Wales in the 6 nations. But, on the whole, I dislike the Welsh as well. My surname, Frazier, suggests I am possibly from Scottish ancestry or perhaps French. My mother’s maiden name, McCormick, definitely originates from Southern Ireland. Do I have the right to decide what nationality I am? And if so, can I reserve my right not to tell anyone?
Because, to be frank, what the f**k does it have to do with them? I understand that the Doomsday book was necessary so that the new King on the block could work out exactly what it was he had just won. When tracing my own ancestors, I did refer to the 1881 census which fed me dome useful information, I agree. But if I fill in this one, I will give the government a bum steer because I am only living here for 2 months, I would rather be in France and I don’t want to be tagged by nationality or religion. Where is the question, ‘Do you like living in England?’ So I can answer ‘No, I think it is a shithole and the government are a bunch of overpaid tossers! They didn’t ask me that one, did they? Maybe that is the one that was intentionally left blank?
This is what I think will happen. This information will be used for the wrong reasons. Statistics will show that certain areas now have ethnic majorities and this will be used to fuel the uprising that is spreading from the middle east into some of our cities. Britain is sitting on an ethnic time-bomb and once all this information gets collated it will only help it tick a little faster. There, I have said what others dare not to and for that reason I am not about to tell anyone where I live.

Monday 7 March 2011

Wellies on the ground floor

And so it is that we move house once again. This will be the 15th house I have lived in. Most people live in two or possibly three all their lives. I suppose that classes me as some sort of nomad. It’s 3am. A cup of tea has calmed my nerves after waking in a cold sweat.
This is a tiny cottage by the river, idyllic you could say, nice and cozy for us two and the dogs. Walkies by the river, no less than 16 friendly pubs to drop into, a few nice bistros and a couple of Indian restaurants. It is also handy for the hospital where my poor sister still lies, allowing me continue my daily visits.
But here is the trap. The dogs are not allowed above the ground floor, we have signed a contract on their behalf to ensure this. I say we signed it, Wendy and I signed it, they didn’t. So poor Louis cannot understand why, after four years of access all areas, he is confined to the kitchen.
And the problem doesn’t stop there. You see this little cottage is in a small town called Bewdley and the little river outside the door is none other than the notorious River Severn. I say notorious, as many will recognise the name because every time we have a period of prolonged rain in middle England, the river Severn (to coin a cliché from the journalists here) bursts its banks, right outside our door. Fortunately, for the good people of Bewdley, flood defences were installed in this town a few years ago which now protect it from the worst of the carnage that flood water can bring. But that still relies on the council getting them in place, in time. My biggest worry is where do they get their weather forecast from? For instance, do they sit and watch “hopeless the weathergirl” blather on in her dimwit way on channel 4 each evening? Or do they get their information from the met-office, you know that over paid bunch of tossers who occasionally look out of the window to tell us its raining. The ones who couldn’t forecast a barn door banging in a gale. Possibly the council use a crystal ball or a time machine to make their predictions? It is all a worry.
Thankfully, this is a three story cottage, so we would expect to be reasonably safe were it that Noah was summoned to the fore at a moments notice. But what about those poor dogs, the ones we signed a contract for?
Let the nightmares begin. All last night I endured that recurring one where I wake up and see two defenceless pooches floating down the high street still asleep in their beds. Perhaps I should complain to the RSPCA? Or at least buy them some wellies and waterwings.

Friday 4 March 2011

Good honest rant

Anyone who has been to Worcester lately will know, to their detriment, that there is maintenance being done on Holt Fleet bridge at present. So could someone please explain to me why the two traffic lights, one at either end of the bridge, require to be ‘manned’. When I say manned, I mean overseen by a rather unintelligent and bored looking chap watching the queuing vehicles, wearing a hard hat. A hard hat when he is nowhere near the building site? For what purpose exactly? Perhaps it is in case the traffic light falls on his head? Maybe a plane passing overhead might inadvertently drop a wheel or a peanut from the sky? No, we all know the real reason? It is yet another example of health and safety taken to a ridiculous level. The man is employed by building firm, hard hat compulsory, despite him being in no danger whatsoever, these are rules, black and white. Except, of course, if he wishes to wear a turban instead like one of his colleagues. But that is another issue entirely.
While on the subject of mysteries, could anyone enlighten me about the road sign at the entrance to the Birmingham hospital. It reads: ‘No entry, except for access.’ Why else would anyone want to enter if not for access? Access to what? Perhaps I would like to enter, do a little dance in the middle of the road again, and then leave without actually accessing the hospital? At least it is written in English, unlike some of the other signs around that district. Oops, there goes my xenophobic streak again.
I have very little interest in football and even less understanding of the game. However, it seems that the thuggish image it portrays has yet reached another highlight. I open the paper to see Wayne Crooney (names changed to protect the ..etc) has recently punched someone in the face, only to be allowed to play in a match the next day, unpunished. Even more of a dismay, one of the players on the apposing side has recently shot someone with an air rifle. The fact that the team is owned by a Mafia don has either gone unnoticed by the press or they are too afraid to make the connection. What next? The prevalent use of flick-knives for all premiership strikers to be sanctioned by the FA? Perhaps the goalie should be armed with an AK47? Is it any wonder that there is so much violence on the streets? As said, I have little knowledge of the game but did hear a rather amusing joke on the subject, possibly made by a rugby fan: When Ashley Cole shot that student with an air rifle, Didier Drodber rolled around on the ground pretending to be injured. I guess to some this may be funny although somewhat lost on me!
I couldn’t rant this month without a mention of that good old dictator, Colonel Mu-ammar Gadaffi. Possibly, by the time this goes to print, he may be no longer with us, in fact by the time I finish this sentence he could well have been terminated! He makes speeches saying: “my people love me….!” Ahem, and which people are these exactly? The ones he has ordered his army to shoot at per chance. The ones who are fleeing the country? The ones who are rioting to depose him after 40 years of oppression? And to think that after the carnage of the Lockerbie aircraft bombings we, the UK, has since been doing business with this maniac? My online blog carries the heading that “the lunatics have taken over the asylum..!”. I usually proffer this line somewhat tongue-in-cheek but this man really is one lunatic too many. Maybe we should send one of our football players to sort him out!
Having written this column for just over two years now, it would be remiss of me not to mention the annual battle of rugby that our nation has with the French this time of year, the result being 2 wins to one in our favour during that time. Shame I wasn’t in France this year on that winning occasion to wind up my neighbours once more. It is normally the only day of the year when the St Georges flag flies at chez nous and, dammit, I missed it!
Talking of rugby, the flags are still flying half mast in that home of the game, Christchurch, New Zealand. Having visited the city some years ago, with another trip planned this autumn, it was shocking to see footage of buildings and the cathedral falling to the ground. Thankfully, the few friends I have over there are all OK, but it certainly has rocked the country emotionally as well as physically. My heart goes out to those with friends and relatives caught up in the disaster. It is still our intention to go there in September, albeit the rugby games we were going to watch may be rescheduled elsewhere.
I was in France briefly this month to sort of some business. While checking on the sheep, I discovered that our head count has increased by one. A wandering minstrel of a ram has taken up residence amongst our flock, but from whenst he came I have no idea as there are no other sheep around us for miles. I considered keeping him but then, as I listened, I heard the very faint sound of a guillotine being sharpened in the village. Seemingly the death penalty is still in force for sheep rustling in France, especially if you are English, and particularly if your nation has just beaten the home nation at their national sport. So, in by best French, I declared the beast to the local Marie in some sort of bizarre French amnesty. The poor chap was quite confused as I attempted to describe to the creature in a combination of pigeon-French and sign language. “Un grand mouton monsieur” said I, waving my arms, “avec les grand ballons..!” I think he considered phoning me a doctor!
Someone the other day described my rantings as a bit “Clarksonesque”, another of those new adjectives that never found its way in Samuel Johnson’s original Oxford dictionary. I am not sure if this was a compliment or an insult but I was hasty to point out the difference between the great J Clarkson and myself. He is a foot taller than me for one thing. He is also infinitely more wealthy, witty and famous. On the other hand, I do have a little more chance of avoiding slander and libel cases than he does.  For instance, if I was to say that all Mexicans are lazy good-for-nothing so-and-so’s with droopy moustaches or what ever accusation he made on Top Gear, I would be far less lightly to be taken to task by the Mexican government for mentioning it in R&DN. I will not, of course, make those accusations at all. I met a Mexican once, he was a nice chap. Or was he Brazilian? Definitely from one of those peasant filled South American bandit countries anyway.
But herein hangs a point. TV and radio gets scrutinised by all and sundry and the BBC is forced to adhere to something near the truth. Whereas the press…well don’t get me started. How can they continually get away with printing blatant lies and half-truths just to sell newspapers, with no recompense whatsoever? I actually have adopted the attitude of believing the opposite of whatever I read in daily print to be the truth. With the exception of this quality magazine, obviously.
Anyway, I digress. This week, on a trip back from London, I encountered my first four pound sandwich. That’s a heavy meal, I hear you say. But no, this was not in weight but in money. Yes, the meagre sandwich has finally reached the four quid threshold. So it was, and this is where I feel I can name and shame, unlike the great JC, that I pulled into a service station called Welcome Break. Is it any wonder I was ‘Welcome’ when they charge prices like that? And ‘broke’ I surely would be if I visited them too frequently. So let’s make a quick analysis here. Two slices of bread – 10p, a slice of dry cooked chicken – 5p, some lettuce and mayo – 2p. Total cost less than 20p? And packaging, you say? Well I don’t want the packaging thanks, I can’t eat that. Or maybe it tastes as good as the product inside?  What I found really preposterous was that the company who makes said sandwich has the slogan “Good Honest Food!” What the..?  Where is the honesty in charging four quid for a sarnie? How honest is making 2000% profit in this day an age? Yes it had travelled all the way from Cornwall. Bully for it. It could have travelled by first class rail with its own private carriage complete with hand-maidens and en-suite butter-bath and still been cheaper! It is nothing short of an outrage. When cigarettes reached the one pound per pack threshold, I gave them up. Should I now consider giving up sandwiches too? Or at the very least I should revert to rolling my own.