Oh dear, winter is rapidly approaching and with it that dreaded two letter device designed to suck out our brains and replace them with lemon-curd. This autumn, as I plug in the half-yearly redundant TV, I notice it running an update, bringing yet more new channels to its existing list of garbage that supposedly masquerades as intelligent viewing. Not that I have taken the effort to count them, but I reckon we now have well over 100 stations to chose from, but still more keep arriving. What could they possibly fill these with that could be anything different than the ones already there? Surely not more celebrity master-bakers? Or maybe Britain has pointless talent? Possibly some more ecomentalists grandly designing homes from corrugated tin and matchsticks? No? Ladies and Gentlemen, feast your eyes on a brand new series on ITV3 entitled: The History of Wallpaper! You are joking, right? On it, so the narrative says, Professor Steve Boring from the University of Beige Corduroy tells us all about wallpaper from the 16th century to the modern day, in hour long segments designed to send us to sleep faster that chloroform. Please, please get the flock off our screens (pun intended) before we all die of monotony poisoning.
Having had a slight brush with HM customs lately, I find myself having to complete a long and complicated form to back-up my overseas habitation while still maintaining my British status. Except on it, right there on line one, I already have an identity crisis, as I am asked my gender from the following list. Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Mx. Excuse me? What is Mx, you ask? Well, apparently it is a new politically correct term for those who no longer wish to be labelled with a gender at all. Think of it as somewhere in that pillow space between man and woman. Is there such a gender as ‘no gender’? Or is it ‘both’ genders, which sure as hell would be confusing when buying trousers! I wrote MALE in caps, just to be sure. It reminded me of the Blackadder sketch when Baldric announces that his father was a nun. ‘No he wasn’t, Baldric,’ says Blackadder. ‘Yes he was, sir, because whenever he was asked his occupation, he always said ‘None’! ....Oh, well, please yourself!
Once again this month I have to have a pop at Mr O’Leary, that rather greedy owner of Ryanair. A poor old lady sitting next to me recently on a flight, ordered the following from the menu. ‘Buy any fresh sandwich and add chips for only £2.00 – save 50p.’ When the Mx duly arrived with her order, she held out her two quid, only to be told that the price was £9.50. Rather flustered, she fumbled in her purse and handed over a crinkled tenner, until I nobly intervened. ‘Hang on’, says I.’ It clearly states that the ‘meal deal’ is priced at two pounds sterling?’ No sir, you just read it wrong, the two pound was just for the addition of the chips. On further investigation, nowhere on the shiny menu was the real sandwich price listed. This surely must be illegal. But then, so is charging £7 per flight to pay by credit card when it is the only option available. Is this hood really above the law?
Meanwhile, on the other side of the law, here’s something you don’t hear me say, ‘the French Government, I salute you’. This has come about after reading of a new law, which passed narrowly through its corridors last month, in the banning of Mini-miss competitions. For the uninitiated, these are beauty contests which involve girls as young as seven years old parading in make-up and high heels, to be judged on their looks, and often portrayed on tabloid TV stations. Maybe, for once, Les Francais can lead the way into other countries, particularly Britain and the US, doing away with this despicable practice altogether. If only they would ban Johnny Halliday records, our lives would be almost bearable!
Finally, I have to applaud the regression of progress within the British Government, particularly the Indian High Commission in London, who have reverted back from computers to the good old-fashioned typewriter. So concerned that all their words and documents are being bugged by Americans on anti-terrorism witch-hunts, the Embassy suspects that all its PC terminals are being monitored by Big Brother, and thus are turning back the clock 50 years to the old metal keyboard and tippex. Allegedly, they have also reinstalled an abacus in every office, inter-office communication is now via baked-bean can and string, along with a flock of mail-delivering pigeons that can only communicate in Hindi.