Double bereavement. My Mother died on Monday, having reached the grand age of 98. I also lost my dog that same day, and I’m not sure which I’m more cut up about. I may be back in a month or so.
Double bereavement. My Mother died on Monday, having reached the grand age of 98. I also lost my dog that same day, and I’m not sure which I’m more cut up about. I may be back in a month or so.
There’s a media fuss about a three metre Great White that was tagged then disappeared. Well, some puzzled film makers aren’t sure what happened after finding the digestion discoloured tag on a beach. Seriously? Don’t these people bother to do some basic shark research before making idiots of themselves in public?
A three metre (10ft) Great White Shark, genus Carcharodon carcharias is only just maturing. It’s a juvenile, a baby. A full grown Great White is a whole lot more sushi. Adults come in at over six metres (21ft) long, with some reports of specimens over eight metres long (26ft).
It’s also worth nothing that despite their fearsome press coverage, Great Whites aren’t the baddest of ocean predators. Orca’s have been known to take them out. They aren’t called Killer Whales for nothing.
So what killed a comparatively small Great White shark? Could have been an Orca, might have been a bigger Great White with the munchies. Cannibalism is not unknown among shark species, especially one bleeding from a fresh tag wound in its back. So it’s hardly a mystery, and three metres is snack size as far as Great White predators go. Unless you want to believe crap like this. Don’t they check out their own back issues? Sheesh.
Just finished moving in to our new Victorian domicile. I like this place. Should have moved earlier.
Took a break from unpacking and a wander over to the Barclay Brothers Beano for a meander down the latest list of legislative disasters as given by our Liz. The bill that caught my eye, and for a moment my breath, was the proposed bill which will give HMRC the power to demand money up front if they even suspect you are squirrelling some dosh away for a rainy day. Not only does the UK tax man already have the power to raid bank accounts at will, allowing them to asset strip people without power or influence down to their last five grand, but those rapacious tax gatherers will shortly be able to do it without due process. Only suspicion of wrongdoing, never mind the evidence. All it may take is a simple denunciation from one of those despicably cretinous cunt-stooges like UKUNCUT (May they burn forever in all the hells humanity can imagine), and any assets, personal or company, on which tax may already have been paid will magically disappear from bank accounts up and down the UK. Probably from a lot of expatriates who may well find themselves fighting a legal battle they no longer have the wherewithal to afford, or the air fare back to fight their corner. Having been well and truly sheared without any evidence of wrongdoing or contestable legal proceedings. Precedent, sets, dangerous, a, this (This cliché was purchased from Canadian Tire in flat pack format – some reassembly may be required). In spades. Even if the Chancellor says the affected will get their money back with interest ‘if they win’. Big ‘if’ there, chunky.
You know, as a keen student of history I’ve always wondered how come the Germans, who I’ve always found in person very civilised and cultured people, came to fall under the spell of the worst amoral Jackbooted fascist rob dogs in history. A piece in that jigsaw just fell into place.
Taking a break from packing the kitchen, I popped over to the Barclay Brothers Beano for a chuckle, and came across this story. Apparently the EU has spent two hundred million on its Ukrainian ambitions without checking its pockets or down the sofa of waste for loose change. Now it’s got the begging bowl out to the UK for an extra three point eight billion quids. Ostensibly for ‘youth and employment’, or maybe old politicians and unemployment. Blood and sand.
The expansionist bureaucratic monster that is the European Union needs to be told to fuck off in very short order. Permanently.
Back to packing.
Excuse the number of updates, but my subconscious was spluttering with incredulity more than I was.
Totally tired today for some reason. Worn out, shagged, knackered like I’ve been burning the candles at both ends with a flamethrower. A heavily sedated slug has more energy than I do at present. It’s not as though I’ve been eating or drinking to excess. I haven’t. Modest exercise, lots of vitamins and vegetables. Sunshine and early mornings. Hmm. Maybe that’s my problem, too healthy, with excess blood in my alcohol stream. Have to do something about that.
Almost done with the packing for Friday’s house move. Then twenty four hours without Interweb and then back up and running. Afterwards I may just sleep.
Don’t normally do movie reviews. On this occasion I’d like to offer my thoughts on the current pseudo biblical epic ‘Noah‘ starring Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins and Ray Winstone.
Here goes. Technically the CGI is a tour de force. Good, strong, character performances from the excellent Mr Crowe and Mr Hopkins. Ray Winstone oozed psychotic menace like only he can. Sadly the script is a turkey, a preachy piece of proselytising, apocalyptic eco-garbage that sent me to sleep half way through. That’s a first. I have never gone to sleep in a cinema before. Ever. I’ve only ever walked out on one movie in 1972, a cranky old Frankie Howerd vehicle called ‘The House in Haunted Park‘, and if it hadn’t been for my wife’s insistence on staying to the end credits of ‘Noah’, I’d have been out of there in the first half hour. Before we went in I was eager to watch, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and I’d even dosed up on coffee an hour beforehand. To no avail. I was out for the count around the half way marker. Mid afternoon. Go figure.
I know I said I was gone forever, but the time of year has come when it must be said once more. Less than a month to go again and I’m seriously tempted to renew my membership of the Ebenezer Scrooge appreciation society. Bah! Humbug! If this offends, tough. Should objectors wish to drive a stake through my black and sardonic heart, I’d like to say the only steak I want anywhere near said muscular pump is a nice thick rib eye with a smidgeon of external charring and light pinkness enlightening its centre. Possibly even with a little Dijon Mustard. As it passes through the upper reaches of my digestive tract, having left fond memories with my taste buds, naturally.
The festival itself I have no quarrel with; good old hijacked midwinter solstice feast that it is. A time of good food, wine and forgiveness to celebrate survival for another year. Good will to all? Within reason, of course, and certainly not all of them. I’m not going to be nice to the cretinous, no matter the time of year. Heavens to Murgatroyd Cowboy, one has to maintain some form of consistency. What really turns my normal sunny disposition to that of lemon sucking misanthrope is the insistence that everyone has to join in the ‘fun’; when ‘fun’ entails leaving drunken saliva snail trails over the nearest total stranger. Good grief! If nothing else it’s all so damned unhygienic. Not to mention more than slightly creepy.
With this in mind I have compiled ten major issues about Christmas which every year threaten to turn Mr Nice Guy (Me) into a raging homicidal psychopath who’s just got his chainsaw out of the shed for a little pre-festive flesh trimming.
First; Date. The date and the association with Christianity is incorrect. 25th December is the wrong date for Christians to celebrate Christmas. It’s an historical fudge, a compromise between 6th December, 19th December, 22nd December, 7th January or 25th January depending upon which Christian / Pagan sect you belong to. As for the year, if you’re a Christian, about as close as you’ll get is six years either side of 0 AD; and that’s just from official sources.
Second; Presents and shopping. This asinine insistence that you have to drive yourself into near bankruptcy giving overpriced, unwanted gifts to everyone you know. This may sound like heresy and probably is; but I would rather have no gifts at all than a gift without a genuine kind thought behind it. I especially don’t like being dragged in and out of the same five or six stores four times each only to find that we could have bought everything on line. I could have been doing something interesting for heavens sake.
Third; Enforced jollity. There is no greater torture to a civilised mind than forcing another human to ‘enjoy’ themselves against their natural volition. My personal standpoint is that I am quite capable of being happy without outside interference thank you very much. My major dread is that in the near future the PC Thought Police will deem it a crime not to be smiling and joyful at mandatory times and places. Perhaps in this age of mass surveillance and facial recognition technology, such edicts may become camera enforced. Like with bus lanes. Not smiling enough? Your penalty notice is in the post. Ironically giving you less reason to be happy than before. Incidentally, has anyone tried to be artificially happy and smiling, at least for any length of time, when they really don’t want to be without extreme chemical assistance? That way lies madness. Horrified shudder.
Fourth; Inappropriate headgear. The wearing of fluorescent antlers, tinsel and artificial fur bobbled conical hats three sizes too small, not to mention those inane ‘jester’ style confections made of poor quality red, yellow and green felt with bells on. Apparently there’s some strange, arcane folk belief that wearing such headgear actually makes everything you say and do amusing. Such as telling unfunny jokes, committing random sexual assaults or urinating in the street. Trust me, it doesn’t work. Strangely enough, recent scholarly research has conclusively proven that the majority of people donning such headgear instantly turn into annoying pillocks. Forcing your dog / cat / pet tarantula to wear any such item should instantly engender an instant charge of animal cruelty punishable by thirty strokes of the cat (A bad tempered feral Tom, for preference. One tail, twenty claws.) Re the headgear, perhaps some sort of open season / bounty system could be arranged with local hunters.
Fifth; Alcohol. Actually this is a bit of a moot point. I am greatly in favour of some forms of alcohol as it is a great social lubricant (I said SOCIAL. Honestly, some people.). A good pint, bottle of wine, or warming Single Malt in good company is wonderfully relaxing. Sometimes I can be very friendly with an entire bottle of whiskey all to myself. This is something anyone can do anywhere. Sometimes its nice just to hide in the den with a good book, headphones on and some rock music blasting any potentially festive thoughts from seasonally stressed synapses. However be warned; excessive consumption not only damages your liver and wallet but may turn you into another dribbling maudlin festive idiot.
Sixth; Office / work related parties. Or as Oscar Wilde might have said had he ever been forced to attend; ‘The unattainable pursued by the unlovable’. Watching what you drink in case you say exactly what you feel to / about your boss or other influential colleague; no matter how incompetent / unpleasant / overbearing they might be. I detest such events and whenever invited to ‘socialise’ in this fashion with workmates make a creative and plausible excuse not to be there. Ones I’ve found that work very well are; Emergency engagement with family, as far from the event as possible; sick and very rich relatives are always a good one. Short and untraceable illness like a 24 hour dose of food poisoning. Domestic emergency requiring your urgent presence at home – all of these are good (Spousal corroboration is prerequisite for the last). One cautionary note, use a different excuse every year or be labelled ‘Anti Christmas’ and find all those more important invitations disappear. Unless you’re going to move on anyway. In which case – Just say no. What are they going to do in these circumstances? Fire you?
Seventh; Christmas lunch. All that hard work put in to produce a table groaning feast to be met by refusal. For example an announcement by your wife’s sister / daughter (insert own preference here) that she’s become a Vegan without telling anyone; then flounces off when you, quite reasonably, refuse to specially cook a nut roast for everyone at five minutes notice because she can’t bear to be within fifty yards of that poor murdered Turkey. Another might be the kids whinging that they want to go to Burger MacWossnames for a “double death by cholesterol and fries”; refusing to eat anything green that hasn’t got four kilogrammes of sugar in it. I think Christmas lunches should be all ticket, invitation only affairs. RSVP Like a posh dinner party. If you want to be there, be there. If you don’t – don’t, and no social stigma should attach.
Eighth; Christmas Television. Especially those vomit inducing saccharine Coca Cola adverts. The endless mind strangling TV repeats of Christmas specials of ‘Only Fools and Horses’, and what’s going on in Emmerdale Enders. ‘The Sound of Music’ again. ‘Celebrity’ Christmas specials. Thank God for DVD’s. Don’t even get me started about Hogmanay specials. All I want from New Years Eve is a hot toddy, an early night and a clear head on a crisp winters morning, enjoying the peace and quiet.
Ninth; Christmas Songs. All of them. Especially (In no particular order) Slade’s ‘So here it is Merry Christmas’, Band Aid’s ‘Do they know it’s Christmas time’ and Aled Jones ‘Walking in the air’. When you’ve heard them sung extremely badly four or five hundred times by drunken cracked voices at up to half past four in the morning, you’ll agree all modern Christmas tunes should be banned by international treaty. I maintain that Christmas songs are crimes against humanity, and perpetrators should be tried at the Hague before being imprisoned for mass musicide. This goes for New Year celebrations as well; if I had a time machine I’d go back and shoot Robbie Burns dead before he could pen the words to ‘Auld lang’s syne‘. Posterity forgives the odd dead poet.
Tenth; Carol Singers. Not proper Carol Singers like in church choirs, they’re actually fairly pleasant and welcome in small doses. I’m talking about the avaricious little sods who turn up on your doorstep for a quick bit of extortion a month before the official date. I think we’re all familiar with this subtype of troglodyte; expecting you to give them money for an abysmal and desultory one chorus rendition of ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ when half of them don’t know the words and the rest are miming. Some years ago I handed out some warmed over vegetarian mince pies to the last lot who dared darken my doorstep, and joy of joys, haven’t seen any since.
Eleventh: Christmas lights. Well this is more ambivalence than dislike. Done well, hey, fine. It’s your electricity bill. Done badly, with lots of cheesy illuminated Walmart Santas, Snowmen and Reindeer, urgh. Seriously. It’s embarrassing. Don’t do it. Likewise decorating things that aren’t yours. No please. If your sense of taste is that stunted, it’s wise not to show it off in public. People will only point and laugh.
The above list is nowhere near definitive as I’m sure many of you can come up with your own reasons for wanting to spend your midwinter holiday overseas. The nicest Christmas day I ever spent was alone with my wife in Barcelona. Messing around in near deserted streets like a couple of school kids and getting soaked in a torrential downpour. No cooking, no turkey, wonderful Irish coffee in a bar where the staff were grooving energetically to Ricky Martins ‘La vida loca’ full blast on the sound system. Ganneting a quarter kilo of ‘Chocolat Naranja’ between us while drying out, watching an unfestive CNN News in the Hotel room. No tinsel, no tackiness and a thoroughly civilised time was had by both of us. A close second was a Spa break in BC having a (Sort of) merry detox with several bottles of eminently quaffable 2009 Quails Gate Proprietors Reserve pinot noir. No TV, in room Jacuzzi and no bloody tinsel. Bliss.
From today’s Tellytubbygraph; the ‘how come this is news item’ that Government campaigns to make everyone ‘happy’ actually have the opposite effect. Rather like those parodies of American Summer Camps where over enthusiastic camp hosts with their over the top happy clappy routines drive the kids crazy. Rather like a theatrical production, which all run on the razor edge of a disaster curve anyway. Some people like having their ‘happiness’ packaged up and delivered like pizza, some don’t. Particularly if it’s the pizza someone else wanted you to have, not the one you ordered.
Such top down attempts of making people ‘happy’ are doomed to fail. The psychodynamics are too complex, and the ‘one size fits all’ approach beloved of overweening states are doomed to failure. There is too much (Excuse me while I pause for an ironic snort of laughter) diversity. Newsflash! A lot of people actually like doing different things.
Totalitarian states, with a huge
slave client population can please a lot of people most of the time because the population don’t know any better, but even there dissent will fester because there will always be an excluded element who think that the great leader is a greasy fat pillock with all the charm of a spitting cobra on amphetamines.
Here’s my experience. Making everyone ‘happy’ in any given household is an impossible task. Think of trying to please everyone like having a house full of teenagers (horrified shudder). Put on a big noisy event (Oo, I don’t know, you could call it the ‘Olympics’ or some such) and give them lots of cake, and apart from having to have the place redecorated / rebuilt they will, for a given value of happy, actually experience ‘happiness’ for a while. The cake might get consumed (possibly in a food fight) or just thrown in the bin, and someone will inevitably smuggle in some booze to ‘loosen things up’ (Usually female knicker elastic) and let the chaos begin. The fallout of hangovers, unexplained pregnancies, unresolvable blood feuds, broken fixtures and fittings, and still soggy condoms found in the oddest of places a year later will provide the grown ups with endless topics of conversation. Yet will the kids be happy? No. They’re happier when they can take a DIY approach to their own pleasures. Grown ups just get in the way, even if they are the ones to pick up the pieces. This is the downside of power and authority; responsibility.
Better not to try, hide the valuables, let the teens sort themselves out in a barn down a remote garden. Let them take care of their own entertainment, sort out their own supplies and get on with it. The fallout will still be the same, and the official ‘happiness’ index won’t move an iota, but at least the grown ups will have the satisfaction of knowing they can do their own thing while the kids are pleasing themselves. Apart from the inevitable panicky phone call from a friend saying your offspring have passed out and need rescue at 3am. Been there, done that.
Will the UK Government realise that you can’t please all of the people all of the time? Will they understand that getting the economy right is more important than bread and circuses? Or is the real power so far out of their hands that behavioural modification, bread and circuses is all they have left? Take your pick.
The first human to set foot on another world has passed from amongst us, and this leaves me deeply saddened. He blazed a trail across the sky that those who dare to dream might want to follow. He was the tip of a broad pyramid of engineers who made the dream of stepping on to another world possible, and with Aldrin and Collins showed the way out of the cradle of mankind. He is one of the giants upon whose shoulders future spacefarers will stand.
God speed Neil. Condolences to your family.
I see various upholders of moral rectitude like Madonna, and Paul McCartney (Yeah, right.) are up in arms about a three member Russian punk band called Pussy Riot being jailed for ‘desecrating’ a Russian Orthodox church. Oo, aren’t those Russians bad people, well because they’re Russians and ex-communists, and, and well bad, aren’t they? Jailing those poor harmless pretty girls. Isn’t that nasty ‘Vlad the Impaler’ a really bad man, den? Cos it was all about protesting Putin right?
Call me an old stickler if you will, but let’s see the bands own video of what actually happened shall we?
Okay, a bad song. Let’s face it, all punk rock is pretty bad. This particular performance makes thrash metal look cool and intellectual. A poorly choreographed dance routine, and lots of inflammatory gestures in a house of worship. The denomination is not important. Church, Temple, Synagogue, Mosque. Do that sort of thing in any place where people come to talk to their version of God and you deserve all you get. Invade the space of others and insult them and their version of worship to sing (this is debatable) a bad song, dance badly, make insulting gestures and essentially wound the silence of a church with pointless noise.
Two years? Siberian exile for ten might be more appropriate. Or just confiscate their guitar strings. On the other hand, ‘musicians’ that atrocious probably wouldn’t notice.