Thursday 24 January 2013

The Department of Stupidity

Far be it from me to point the ridicule stick at the British government again, but when you reach a certain age, you just start thinking you have heard it all when…ahem.
Build a snowman to stop the flooding!
Now that sounds like a headline even the Daily Star couldn’t concoct. But low and behold, this was a true statement made in a government directive today. And it came from the BBC so it has to be right.
An Environment Agency spokesman said, apparently, that if we roll all the snow up into tight balls we can push them into the river and they will float out to sea. He also said that if we all drunk more water, that would help use it up as well. Then he went upstairs to be wearing a snorkel and flippers making penguin noises and the nice nurse gave him his tablets and put on his straight-jacket.
This got me round to wondering, what the hell is the Environment Agency anyway? Well, years ago, it was called MAFF but they changed that because it rhymed with NAFF. Instead we got DEFRA, a new office full of acronyms and shiny wellies who were in charge of all things agricultural. And, over a period of 20 years they managed to fuck up farming to such a degree that the word Agriculture was dropped from the syllabus altogether until we just get the ‘Agency’ - which seemingly is now run by barking mad penguins who sit around all day in a home somewhere, dreaming up directives to justify their existence. Here’s another piece of advice they have given this morning – and I quote from Dr Kevin Cock, Professor of Hydrology: “The most important thing anyone can do to protect themselves from flooding is to check out if they are in a flood risk area…”
Oh, thank you so much for that, I wondered why there was 6 feet of water in the kitchen and my dog just floated past the window!
Have you ever looked at their document entitled ‘A Framework for Bio-diversive Pro-Environmental Behaviours’? I have. Its 110 pages long and I have never seen such a load of piffle in my life. In it, pretty pictures pigeon-hole all of us into those who ‘believe’ in making things better and those who are a threat to the universe. On scale of 1-7, we are tagged as ‘Positive Greens’ down to ‘Honestly disengaged’, the latter of which translates into ‘who gives a shit’.
You see, in their little bubble of importance, you and me are beyond taking advice of any sort anymore but, in the interest of protecting the stupid from themselves, some people still need to be told the bleeding obvious, and that is what the ‘Agency’ is there for. For want of another word, call these people the ‘special needs’ sector.
But who funds all this bullshit? Let me think, oh, yes, the tax payer. And, let’s face it, it is highly unlikely that the simpletons will be paying tax. Basically what we have here we have is a major economic problem, with the clever ones funding the thickos? And that way lies revolution. Let them down, I say!
Realistically what MAFF has actually evolved into is the Department of Stupidity. What an apt name that would be?

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Press that button, Harry

        When does the press stop being the ‘press’ and start being a pain in the arse? I suppose that is a rhetorical question as, to some, it has never been anything else. In many ways, I admit, I could be tarred with that brush too, but I show no remorse because, in my view anyway, I only really point the finger at blatant incompetence and stupidity and, in my mind, this is acceptable fodder for me to rant about. Not just fodder either, but things that really need to be brought to the public’s attention.
For example, if the government, both national and local, fail to keep the English roads moving and close all the schools when they have half an inch of snow, this smacks of bungling inefficiency and is wide open to ridicule, not just by me but by anyone with an IQ in double figures.
But…and there is often a but.
Should they really hound ordinary people to get stories – or heaven forbid, make up stories – just to fill their newspapers? HELL NO!!
I suppose the difference between us, says me, desperately trying to excuse my own belligerence, is that when there is nothing to say, I say nothing, whereas they are not allowed to.
Well, today, I do have something to say, and it is about ‘the National Press’, as, in my opinion, they are a despicable bunch of bastards who should all be hung, drawn and quartered for crimes against humanity!
Consider that a bit harsh? Not at all.
Were the press not in charge of the report into Lady Dianna’s death, I am pretty sure they would have been appointed as solely responsible for it. That in itself has to be treason, as murdering a member of the Royal family has always been.
Now we see them hounding the next generation with their filthy tactics, sneaky cameras and grossly spiteful comments. Except, many of us don’t see, because we don’t want to, as we buy the daily trash that condemns innocent people to a life of purgatory. But then, when Prince Harry stands up and tells them what they really are, tabloid papers and TV feign hurt as though they have done nothing other than their self-appointed jobs of work. How dare they!
For god’s sake, the boy has been in the military, which is a damn sight more than any of you hacks have been. Doing his duty for his country, but all they can say was he is doing it to show off, and are far more concerned about him swimming naked in a swimming pool with a few mates at a drunken party.
Of course he hates the media, quite understandably, seeing as they killed his own mother. If ever he were to be King, wouldn’t it be nice if he could take revenge in the same way. Maybe he could single out the ones who did him most harm and have them nailed to a cross outside Buck House, or better still, shipped out to Afghanistan to live in caves. Perhaps he could pen them all into Hyde Park for a few weeks without food, a la, The Hunger Games, while he takes a few pot shots at them from his Apache helicopter. Sadly, this will never happen, so still they walk away Scot free and unaccountable. They are cowards, each and every man-jack of them.
You see, unlike my writing which is open to reviews and scrutiny on Amazon and other channels, theirs isn’t. Sometimes readers of my books may say things like, ‘that book was a load of bigoted tosh which I didn’t even finish, here have a one star review to spoil your book sales, Power to the vegans!’ or ‘I thought this book would be funny but it didn’t make me laugh enough because, from time to time, the author made some quite serious statements!
Prince Harry can’t do that, or at least he isn’t supposed to.
So I say, BRAVO mate, for saying you would rather be in a warzone being shot at than be in your own home country hounded by hyenas with less scruples than a drugged-up magpie.
One back for the good guys, today. If only it could be reported that way.

Thursday 17 January 2013

Watcher of the skies

I often find that the TV is much better when watched with the sound turned down. Many people may say the same about me, I couldn’t comment!
Tonight, whilst reading a book, a programme called Winter-watch caught the corner of my eye, if only for some of the stunning cinematography it portrayed of winter scenes and animals rollicking in the snow. I was even tempted to turn the sound up, but that only lasted a few minutes until the irritating trio of modern-day Bill Oddies, who were getting highly enthusiastic about robins and squirrels, did my head in.
Cut to a scene about pigeons, and how wonderful they all are.
That’s great if you are not a farmer, or anyone trying to grow anything from seed, but to me they are nothing more than scavengers – rats with wings, if you will. After pigeon-watch, we get squirrel-watch, bullfinch-watch, fox-watch and of course, deer-watch. Basically just about every predator that exists purely at the expense of the farmers livelihood was being bigged up by these twerps with more enthusiasm than Nigella licking chocolate-spread from a spoon and, because it was all LIVE, people got taken in.
As I had the sound turned down, I didn’t get to hear all the commentary, but I guessing that not once did they mention the damage that pigeons do to crops and buildings, because this might upset a few town-dwelling viewers on whose ratings the BBC relies.
Having waxed on about the nonsense that is shown on BBC’s flagship programme, Countryfile for far too long, I didn’t get too upset by this latest insult to real country folk to hit our screens and returned to my reading, only to be disturbed by an SMS telling about a watch of a different kind. This one was from Aurora-watch, an online website that monitors the phenomenon that is known to all as the Northern Lights. As we are currently residing by the sea in East Scotland, I quickly donned my own winter gear and headed to the beach with my camera. Sadly my trip was fruitless, apart from the odd beam of light in the sky from a local lighthouse. When I returned, one local photographer had posted some most magnificent pictures taken from his garden half an hour earlier, of reds and greens dancing in the sky like magic fairies, and I had missed it because of bloody Winterwatch.
No matter, for the next few hours I camped out on Gullane hill, wrapped up like a green mummy, complete with trusty hip-flask, only to be frozen to near-death watching two hours of bugger-all. Dejectedly, I went to bed at midnight, and woke at 4am, to find that I had missed yet another extravaganza, at 3.55!
Now it is 5.52am and once again I am trying to thaw after a stint in the minus 5 from another futile vigil. For twenty years I have been trying to see those damn lights, and yet again, they have eluded me!
So I suppose my simple question is: why can’t the BBC do Aurora-watch, live from the Scottish coast, so I can record it and watch it from the comfort of a daylight armchair? Send Julia Bloody Bradbury out on a beach in Stornaway to freeze her nipples off in the bitter easterly wind, while I sit and in a t-shirt with a tumbler of malt. I am pretty sure that would make a lot more amazing viewing than that crock of bird-shit that is currently being screened in the pretence that rabbits are cuddly and that everyone in the country loves magpies!
And I could watch it perfectly well with the sound off!

 Graph of activity for Auroras Borealis for 17/1/2013

Wednesday 9 January 2013

You cant hold back the tide

 A few nights ago we were at a friends house when, around bedtime, he produced a bottle of vodka for a nightcap. As the girls retired, so we sat and talked the small hours away, coherence fading with direct correlation to the level of that spirit until, before I knew, it’s 3am, the bottle empty. I know that’s going to hurt tomorrow.
But then a strange thing happened.
In his bathroom, a mirror was magnified and I glanced into it on that final trip to a well needed sleep, and what I saw caused me to take a step back.
There, for the first time in my life, I saw my father looking back at me.
Despite an ocean of Poland’s finest swimming inside of me, it neither frightened me or even horrified me – just surprised me, that’s all. A sudden realisation of that sense of inevitability – the one that I had pushed to the back of the draw all these years in a bid to stay 26 years old.
It was like learning that Santa was actually someone’s dad or the tooth fairy was really your own mum, only slightly more drunk! Or, heaven forbid, that day when you realised that most politicians and lawyers were as equally dishonest as the people they served…things we now take for granted.
A week earlier, I had to help my own father up, after a fall, and it had shocked me how frail he had become. That night it dawned on both of us that, despite his dignity, help was the only real friend he had left.
And now, here he was, looking back at me. He smiled, and then grinned. I don’t know why, maybe it was the booze.
Some people in life have an abundance of talent, and this friend, the one who had filled me with vodka on that occasion is a gifted musician, with a born ability to play almost any instrument without tuition, as well as writing music and tunes at the drop of a hat. During that long evening, he had suggested that I, the writer, might liked to pen a few lyrics to which he would enjoy adding a tune. In fact, as the liquor flowed, so we became the next Simon and Garfunkel, or whoever its modern day equivalent is.
All in all, it was an interesting night that I will long remember.
Today I stood on the beach, watching a couple of kids who had built a commendable sand-castle, trying to protect it as the Forth slowly but inevitably came inwards on its afternoon tide. Each time a small wave made its way up the beach, they squealed at it, splashing it away with their tiny plastic spades. Any grown-up could have told them they wouldn’t win that battle, but they had fun trying.
At 3am tonight, I am once again wide awake, although thankfully not full of rocket-fuel as I was a few days ago.
Below is a draft of a chorus to my very first attempt at putting my feelings, not in to my usual rantings, but in a song lyric.
I have entitled it:


Greying and loss will come all too soon
Better make sure you enjoy the ride
The face of fathers, the pull of the moon
I found out today, you cant hold back the tide

Who knows, I may even complete a few verses, but that is quite doubtful. Maybe I am too grown up now?

Friday 4 January 2013

Humpty-Dumpty in Lycra

Greetings from the blowy Scottish coastal village of Gullane in East Lothian where the four of us are once again shoehorned into a cosy little cottage to escape the daily mundane of the French winter. No, we don’t come here for the weather, although at least it doesn’t flood like those unfortunate ones near the river Severn, but for a little civilisation. Because France is closed - well, our part of it is anyway – due to lack of interest. Thankfully, Scotland isn’t. Not only that, but we get to eat porridge for breakfast and broth for lunch in a good old traditional way.
Unfortunately, for me anyway, that is followed by scrambled eggs for tea and rice pudding, since my jaw started giving me problems. At first the sudden intrusion that arrived in my mouth on Christmas Eve was diagnosed as a wayward wisdom tooth, which had tunnelled out of the gum in the wrong direction, like a soiled and tired POW popping-up in the courtyard instead of outside the perimeter fence of the prison camp. But then, after a few expensive trips to dental experts – who are now called orthodontitional consultants, such is our obsession with elaborate self-important handles – the jagged edge sticking into my tongue is deemed not to be of wisdom at all, but a deformed piece of my jaw which has taken a wrong turn. With little explanation as to the why’s and wherefores, the edges of it has now been ground away with some pretty brutal equipment and I am then referred to hospital to have the remainder removed with some heavy plant-hire machinery when they can find me a slot. And this being UK, that may be some time around November 2014. And, until then, I can only eat soft food. Harumph! Thankfully I can utilise some local malt to numb the effected area!
Being in UK also privileges us to watch British TV during the ‘celebrity’ season, should we so wish - which we don’t! Why is it that during January just about every quiz show insists on having b-list celebrities on its panel, some of whom can barely spell their own name? And who are all these people, anyway? I have never heard of them. Last night’s Mastermind had some numpty who knew a few simple answers about Arsenal football club but when asked ‘who declared their independence on 4th July 1776’ he said Australia! Please. And then we had Clemency Lawnmower-Groundhog-Marshmallow-Biscuit-barrel whose specialist subject was Downton Abbey! For crying out loud. That isn’t knowledge, its title-tattle. But is doesn’t stop there. University Challenge has a whole selection of pompous individuals such as Gross Grossman and ‘..hello, I’m Clarissa Fowls-Pavement, I am a TV dog-walker and graduated from the university of Antiques in 1872...’ Spare us. Next a bus-load of has-beens arrive for a 3 week jail sentence in the Big-brother house in an attempt to gain some column inches about their mid-rift inches, and the whole nation tunes in. But the best of all has to be that feeble program on just before the 6 o’clock news, entitled Pointless Celebrities. Oh, how right they are. At least we know that the BBC humour department still maintains a sense of irony.
Talking of the news, this may be old hat by the time it goes to print but what the hell does Argentina think it is playing at? ‘Please, Sir, can we have our islands back?’ What? Were this still Dickensian Britain, this question alone would ignite a retaliate strike. You tried that once, remember? But, seemingly, times have changed….and we are not aloud to retain our rightful outdated colonial ownership any more?’ Here is what Call-me-Dave should say: ‘OK, actually we don’t really want them, so here’s the deal. You have the worthless sheep infested crags of rock back as long as you give your own country back to Spain, as they could do with the money. And we’ll have Hong-kong and Singapore back instead, because they are loaded - and Australia for the weather. Oh, and while you are gathering rocky outposts full of sheep, you can have Scotland if you like, it is looking for a new owner!’
OOPS – may have overstepped the mark there! Moving swiftly on.
Over the last few years I have dabbled in a few exploits into online marketing and note that in a rapidly changing commercial world, websites are becoming more and more specialised. For example, where you would once have found books and dvds all for sale in one place, you will now be able to benefit from a variety of defined e-shops offering more specific detail in certain sectors such as travel books or war-films. Personally, I believe this trend will grow.  
And so it has, into the taboo world of online dating. Recently, a TV ad has appeared for, and I find this quite bizarre. Whereas before your average 30-50 year old single would go online looking for mate, they now have a choice to find someone who wears a daily uniform such as, I suppose, a traffic-warden or milkman. Does anyone else find this a bit strange? OK, there may be a few older gentlemen who have a hidden cacoethes for a nurses outfit, but do people in general still hanker after men and women in uniform? I thought that all went out with the Village People. Intrigued, I did try and look at the site, just to ascertain whether an airline pilot was more popular than, say, a dustman, but didn’t get past the first page which wanted me to register my address. No way, hosea. I can imagine Wendy’s face when a six foot police-woman knocks on the door, baring her cleavage, wielding some hand-cuffs and asking if Andy-pandy had bene a naughty boy!
But it does beg the question on how far this will all go? Will we get or very shortly? Maybe I should start and see if I can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak?
Hmmm. Moving on again..
As the remnants of last year’s monumental achievements in sport fade to grey, a new debate raises its head about what constitutes an Olympic sport? Already the tabloids have proffered a few unlikely contenders, such as binge-drinking and pie-eating, both of which Britain would be hot contenders for gold. In the end, they have settled for a combination of both, in the name of darts. Yes, stumbling up to the ocky, throwing 3 arrows and then sitting down for a breather seems to be on the cards for the 2020 games. What a spectacle these fine athletes will make in the opening ceremony, blending in with our team of 500 muscle-toned torsos with their obese bellies bulging out in front of them like humpty-dumpty in lycra. It would fair draw the crowds too, as they flock to a down-town Tokyo smoke-filled pub, jeering and singing drunken racist insults in front of the cameras. Can’t wait?
Apparently, for the 2024 games in Miami they are also introducing bare-knuckle fighting and shoot-the-mexican, and by 2042, in Hartlepool, whippet-racing will make its first Olympic appearance in an attempt to bring sport back down to the degraded level of the masses.
Come on, Sir Seb, make a stand?!