Tag Archives: People

Funny thing, life

A couple of weeks ago, an old mate I hadn’t spoken to for a couple of decades tracked my real life self down. He’s dying of a lung condition, poor bastard. Since then we’ve been corresponding via e-mail. Me trying to cheer him up with a few less than socially responsible anecdotes. Him bringing me up to date with the fates of a few shared acquaintances back in the old country (Remember so-and-so? A wall fell on him back in ’99). Playing the old nostalgia game as you do with old drinking buddies. What with one thing and another, it’s making me feel, not nostalgic because I don’t have fond memories of some people, but thoughtful. Mindful of who I am and how easily I could have shuffled off this mortal coil any number of times in my half century of life. Right! Who was that who shouted “Shame!”? Spawny eyed wassuck. Go stand in the corner. I hope you brought enough sarcasm for everyone.

Also mindful of my ancestors, who, it turns out were not exactly villains, but let’s just say consistently non-conformist. My parents. My Grandparents. Great Grandad was a right tearaway so I’m told. Always in trouble which almost, but never quite, ended with him hauled up before the beak. Including an incident over a spring gun set to scare water cress poachers. A few great Uncles who were less than pillars of society. A couple who never made it back intact from WW1. One who went down on the Lusitania (and we’re not talking about sex here). I think he was one of the Deck or Engineering crew, family history is a bit fuzzy after almost a century. Granddad kept his bedroom as a bit of a shrine at the old family farm. I recall seeing it when I was knee high back in the early sixties. A sepia portrait of a young man who never came home and an ageing poster of the liner itself. A made up brass framed bed and net curtains over a small window are the only other impressions I recall.

Other family legends include a Great Aunt who ‘took to her bed’ at the age of seventy something, only getting up for that last ride down to the graveyard thirteen years later. From her family memoirs came the wonderful little tale of the late Victorian era couple who never married despite raising eight children. She took in laundry and he worked as a road mender. Constantly managing to thwart the efforts of the local Minister, who apparently thought that having such a well known couple ‘living in sin’ on his patch was a personal affront. My Great Aunt’s version of the tale ends with the couple finally agreeing to walk up the aisle (in their 70’s with great grandchildren no less), then on the day the little old road mender goes missing. The local Minister, irate at this breach of promise goes searching for him, finally finding the little Parish Road Mender at his usual resting place, lying as though asleep at the side of the road with his road mending kit and sandwich box nearby. Dead as his flask of cold tea with a smile on his face as though he’d cheated the forces of conformity.

Then my own parents and the hows and whys I got brought into the world. Which makes me aware that all of my immediate forbears have been self employed and small business owners, yet Dad wanted me in an industrial ‘job for life’. Which never really worked out as such employment doesn’t really exist any more. Nor am I really employee material, I’m a maverick from a long line of mavericks. A self motivating self starter who can self manage and just hates control freaks looking over his shoulders all the time. Nor do I play well with others, mostly because I’d rather not play their games at all.

Wonder where I get it from? (Not)

Sometimes Napalm is the only rational response…….

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, it turns out that France has gone all Duke Nukem and is stepping up its airstrikes on one part of the 7th century death cult cancer. But then they were planning to up the stakes anyway and the students union level politics of the attackers have simply given the Frenchies even better justification for blowing even more Jihadists to the promised land. Nuke ‘em jusqu’à ce qu’ils brillent et leur tirer dessus dans le noir (until they glow and shoot them in the dark – as if you didn’t know). Cheese eating surrender Monkeys? Mmm. Yeah. Personal experience? I like them. Outside of Paris I’ve found most French folks so laid back they only have to turn their heads to kiss their own pert little buttocks. Yet piss off any Frenchman, and they will go all Jeanne D’Arc on you.
Duc Nukem Merde Je Suis Bon
Even though, like a lot of people, I’d never even heard of Charlie Hebdo until the Jihadists propelled it centre stage. Quite frankly, having had a look at said magazines content I wouldn’t have crossed the street to piss down their throats if their lungs were on fire. Now however, outside of the lamestream media, those ‘blasphemous’ cartoons the fanatics wanted to suppress for ‘offending’ their prophet (How exactly do you offend a dead guy, BTW?), have spread like a forest fire on steroids. Said magazines readership is way up and the gunpersons Islamist buddies are about to catch some extra garlic flavoured hellfire and napalm. Oh yeah, and yet even more people are queuing up to ‘insult’ their prophet. Marches of support for the dead lefty’s (Whether the same amount would have turned out had Charlie Hebdo been right wing is moot). Growing protests across Europe against the attackers religion. That worked out well, didn’t it?

The problem is, these Jiahdists, like all fanatics, are beyond reason. Their rabid intolerance of any but their own narrow little world view has always put them beyond the pale. Ever since the Mughals (Muslims themselves, devised this amusing little public entertainment). Despite the more enlightened of their own religion saying (heavily paraphrased) Look guys, wind your necks in or we’ll all be casualties.” And even, “If you don’t like it here, fuck off.” The rabid death cultists cannot stop killing because they’re way past the point of thinking rationally about what they are doing. Over the sanity event horizon and accelerating. Hate and intolerance drives their souls, blackens their merciless hearts, gives them their very raison d’etre. The only way to deal with them, distasteful as it sounds, is to put the mad dogs down. Hard. While the politicians cower, the rest of us are saying, if you have to kill for your religion, maybe your version of God worship needs a little work. If not, sometimes napalm is the only rational response we have left.

Is he funny?

Every so often I pop out for the evening, then I do my zip up before I get arrested. No seriously. The most pertinent question of modern times is; is Russell Brand funny? Or even profound? He certainly thinks so, and is determined to tell the rest of us just how funny, profound, caring and intelligent he is (Yeah, right). Very loudly. In a profoundly irritating in-yer-face hectoring manner guaranteed to put backs up. Even if he knew where to find the right targets (Which he doesn’t). Especially when the guys bankrolling him were the very people he’s railing against. There’s a curious kind of irony there.

My only reason for speaking out is because at present his ghost written garbage is clogging up downtown Victoria bookshelves. Which rather puts a damper on what should otherwise be a pleasant Saturday afternoon bookstore experience. Placed in large end of aisle displays, Brand’s deranged eyes follow you around the store, making you want to plant the blade of a very large logging axe very firmly between them. Or take a chainsaw to in self defence. Not that I’d waste the energy. Having on one occasion picked up a copy and skim read some of the contents, I was unimpressed. That’s three minutes of my life I won’t get back.

Brand is like so many others of his ilk whose acts I’ve actually seen live, crap. I’ve seen these so-called ‘big names’ and found myself wondering why they’re so famous if they’re so rubbish. These media darlings can’t handle hecklers and their material is as tired as Ben Elton shouting ‘Thatcher!’ very loudly. Wasn’t funny then, isn’t funny now – one trick pony’s never are. Nowadays even the hecklers don’t have a go because there’s either a ‘no heckling’ rule in the club (which is really very sad, and very poor training for would be comedians) or the audience can’t work out what the imbecile on stage is ranting on about and are bludgeoned into a kind of stunned silence punctuated by nervous laughter. Known as the ‘Let’s laugh at the nutter until he goes away‘ type of faux-hilarity. As for ‘edgy’, sorry folks, I’ve seen ‘edgier’ custard tarts. He’s only on the tired old wall to wall media because he has the ‘correct’ lamestream political views popular with a small Fabianesque London-centric clique of media influencers. Who are so lacking in any real form of wit that they form a curious kind of anti-intelligence. Part of the dumbed down cultural Alzheimers afflicting the western world. Proof of Rory Bremner’s assertion that satire has died. I cite Brand, the X-Factor and Simon Cowell as proof that this is so. They may also be at least partially to blame for the UK’s ‘obesity epidemic’.

On the whole I’d give the failed hairdressers model a big thumbs down. Wouldn’t even cross the sidewalk to give him a toonie to stop busking. Brands kind of un-hilarity strikes as more funny peculiar than funny amusing. Like the occasional crazed street beggar with a bad case of Tourette syndrome, more to be pitied than laughed at.

Things I’ll miss about England….. Part one

I’m in a bit of a nostalgic mood at the moment. Missing my dog a lot, even over four months on I’m still having the odd little moment when passing displays of pet food in the local supermarket. Funny that. Having lost two close family members this year, you’d think my mind would be constantly referring back to them, not the family pet. On the other hand, the revelations I received about my parents and what they did have tempered my grief somewhat.

Having recently sworn the oath, signed on the dotted line etc, this is the time to count ones blessings and take note of why Mrs S and I walked the path that we have. While I’m in this reflective state of mind, I thought I’d list a few things I miss and don’t miss about the country I was born in.

The weather; there’s actually quite a lot of this in England. Microclimates by the bucketload. Morning sunshine almost inevitably followed by a cloudburst around teatime and leaden grey skies the rest. Nonetheless, despite having been stuck out in some pretty inclement stuff at all times of the year, I have a genuine affection for it. Particularly the last week of April and first two weeks of May when all the buds have broken and the air is laden with heady Maythorn blossom, new mown grass, the first scent of roses outdoors, keeping all those whiny hay fever sufferers inside.

The countryside; Outside of the urban centres the UK can be quite a pretty little place, when the inhabitants are not busy fouling their own nests with windblown garbage. Doesn’t take much to find it either. Just a small step off the beaten track with a mind to wonder and an ordnance survey map. Leaning on a gate, reading the landscape for the plethora of hidden history. Lumps and bumps in pasture that could be a hidden Roman ruin, Medieval fishponds or last years silage heaps. As a long time fan of Time Team, I’ve always been amazed at how chock full the British countryside is with the remains of civilisations long gone.

The class envy; Canadians are, on the whole, not really bothered about whether someone has an educated accent or not. Education for most is a thing to aspire to, rather than be jealous of. But the whole unthinking “He’s posh / poor so I think he’s a tit.” or “I went to Eton / Inner city compo so I’m better than you.” (Having met a few public school types, this is so often not the case. Likewise for its inverse) attitude is not so embedded or widespread as in the UK. We have no real equivalent of Jeremy Clarkson.

The crowding; If I want to get stuck in a people jam I’ll go back to a rainy Oxford Circus tube station on a Friday at rush hour. Then there’s the narrow little roads full of narrow little houses and a lot of narrow little people. Not all, but they’re a dying breed. Here we all give each other room, and it’s not unusual for there to be a metre gap between people in the Tim Hortons queue, although the Canadian habit of leaving two car lengths between vehicles when stationary at traffic lights can get a tad frustrating. This is where Jeremy Clarkson’s attitudes might come in useful.

The bad manners; No, don’t miss this at all. Not a whit or even a gnat’s bollock of a smidgeon. Don’t miss the long faces, the bitter petty jealousies, the petty race-baiting. Yeah, well we get a bit of that, but not much. Everyone seems to be pretty relaxed about race and sexuality over here, apart from the odd fruitloop. Love the customer service over here, all the “Have an awesome day.” and “No problem.” (either Canadians are a nation of bloody good actors or they really mean it.) Apart from when dealing with cell phone companies, but that’s a global problem. Or is it just related to T-Mobile? Or Bell? Were they trained by Jeremy Clarkson?

Who knows. Maybe that’s something else to be happy about. Or not. TTFN.

Regards

Bill

P.S.; Watch this space….. or not.

A blast from my past

We have house guests over this weekend, so have been pouring libations to Bacchus like Niagara in flood. Which is nice, as Mrs S and I have had some very happy news for a change. About bloody time too. So we’re celebrating, or should that be decerebrating. Whatever. At the moment of writing, Mrs S is introducing them to ‘Lord of the Rings’ on DVD.

“Must ask you Bill.” Said one of our guests, a friend Mrs S has known since she was five years old. “You wrote a book once. About your time working as a Traffic Warden.”
“Oh that old thing. I thought ‘Walking the Streets’ was dead and buried. What about it?” I replied. How did she know about that?
“Can I have a copy?” She asked.
“It’s out of print.” I told her. “Has been since 2009.” Then I had an idea. “Hang on.” I dived off and rootled around in our bookcase. Sure enough, there was the one proof copy I’d kept, although God knows why. Must ask him some day, he seems to have all the answers. I handed it over. “Take it. My gift.” I said.
“I’ll pay you for it.” She said.
“Nonsense. I won’t hear of it.” I demurred.
“Are you sure?”
“Certainly.”
“Can I share it with my friends?”
“Err…” I replied. Our family friends are very proper people and might not take kindly to the often rather fruity and non-PC language couched within the pages. “Are you sure?”
She read one of the excerpts and giggled like the schoolgirl she’d been nearly eighty years ago. I almost blushed.
“Ooh yes.” Said our old friend.

Well, when you’ve passed your eighth decade I suppose you’re allowed a little more latitude than most. Now I’m sitting in my office typing this post, glass of Argentinian Malbec in one hand, I recall that the offending text still resides on my hard drive. There’s also a few other anecdotes which weren’t included with the 2007 edition because they were too damn near the knuckle.

Which midwifed the thought; if I put out the text as an eBook at five bucks a pop on Amazons Kindle, Kobo, iBookstore or suchlike, would anyone be interested? Just a thought.

Where there’s a Will

- There’s a Lawyer. Busy at present with legal forms and functions which all need notarising and registering. Taking care that no-one outside of our chain of command gets a look in. I’ve also drafted a Will for the first time in my life. Which feels strange.

On the domestic front Mrs S has been away on family business, as have I, and there’s been little I’ve felt like posting about. I got home a couple of days before her and have been idling a little before the next project hits the fan.

In the big wide world I see a scary disease which melts yer innards has taken over the headlines from scary people who like murdering people the hard way in the name of their god. Well it is coming up to Halloween. God says these ISIL / ISIS wankers are nothing to do with him. He’s not a fan of organised religion anyway. You should hear him when he talks about the Papacy. Not a happy deity.

The price of gas (petrol) locally has dropped over twenty cents a litre and oil prices are heading through the floor because the Saudis have upped production. Which is good for some people, not so good for others. Economic bubbles are going ‘pop’ and the apocalypse is upon us. Are you saved, brothers and sisters? What again? That’s the second time this week. You rapture if you want to, but leave me out of it. Hi ho. Same shit, different day. Ebola? I recommend washing your hands and observing a reasonable standard of hygiene. Oh yes, and not going to Middle Eastern war zones. They’re a funny bunch. A bit touchy if you know what I mean.

For my own part, the only recent oddity in my life has been a resurgence of appetite. Take the day before yesterday; Just finished work for the day and I had, not merely a half formed hankering or vague sense of peckishness, but a full fledged neolithic rage for a steak. Real red meat. Nothing else would do. So I skipped off to the local store, spent the princely sum of eleven bucks on a reasonable piece of cow flesh and took it home to fire up the grill. Shortly thereafter said slab (Big enough to cover my entire hand and over a thumbs width thick) was consumed with gusto and Dijon mustard. After gorging myself, I emulated sated carnivores the world over, parked myself in a place of comfort and safety (The couch) and unlike any other kind of sated carnivore settled back to watch YouTube vids on our big screen. I felt positively sybaritic.

Sorry to hear of Ranty’s confession. My only comment is this; if any bloggers experienced a ‘normal’ childhood, we wouldn’t be the wonderfully awkward sods we are. We’ve risen above the shit that was done to us and survived. Some more than others, but that should be a badge of honour in the great and not so great battles of life.

Childhoods end

Lynsey De Paul dead? Heavy, and above all wistful sigh. That is so sweetly sad, but then that was what I recall of her music. Always left me with a feeling of unrequited longing after dance floor forays. So often the last but one song of the night. Slow dance and, well, whatever before would-be lovers drifted off into the night.

Hey ho. The early 70’s were more innocent times. Lynsey was part of that. I will remember her music with fondness.

Another random thought on Scottish devolution v1.08 – v1.11 rel 2

Okay, suppose the ‘Yes’ vote does have it, and Alex Salmond leads the Scots towards an oil-funded socialist utopia. Which has worked out really well for the Venezuelans hasn’t it?

Will this mean;

  1. The expulsion of any person with an accent deemed ‘Too English’ or ‘Not Scottish enough’.  Trust me, this does happen.  I have a relative who left Scotland in the early 00’s because he was sick of the prejudice against him (Graffiti on house, social exclusion, overt hostility) because his Dundee University educated accent sounded ‘Too English’
  2. The resumption of cross border cattle (or sheep) raiding as an (Even greater) economic growth area?
  3. Civil unrest when the Scots find out there’s not so much oil to fund their economy and all the real money goes South?
  4. Subsequent forcible repatriation north of the English / Scottish border for anyone who is Ginger?

 

That Playboy Gary Oldman interview

This comes under the category of “Well, it put a smile on my face”. Gary Oldman fulsomely deserves something like one of DK’s old ‘Bloody Devil’ awards for outspoken sweariness. Read the Playboy interview here. I enjoyed it immensely.

The terrified mealy mouthed statement from Gary’s agent published underneath an article about the interview in the Barclay Brothers Beano about ‘Taken out of context‘ and but, but, but, ‘he really supports gay marriage‘ underneath made me chuckle all the more. Sounds like Urbanski is terrified that the interview would be a career killer for Oldman, and hence his fat agents fees would dry up.

Which is where the issue over political correctness lies. PC is dishonest and mendacious. It makes honest words curdle in the face of authority’s wrath. It’s the trump card in Victimhood Poker. The battle cry of the perpetually thin skinned. The poison of society. Passive-aggression for the emotionally retarded. I think what’s really wrong with PC is that it’s from people who’ve been told by bloodless bureaucrats what emotions they should have as opposed to what they’re really feeling.

Like a lot of people, I applaud Mr Oldman’s forthright stance on many issues. I consider his name on a movie billboard a hallmark of quality work, regardless of his political views. He’s entitled to them. They are honestly his and do not detract from his work. Such honesty in public life is very rare and like all rare things, precious and worthy of preservation.

Update: Score (Yet another) one for the forces of darkness. Oldman has ‘apologised’ because of pressure from the pro-Israeli Anti-Defamation League. Even though his comments were a defence of free speech citing what happened over a drunken rant by Mel Gibson and not a direct attack on things Jewish.

Neuro-Linguistic programming for kids – a small epiphany

Down at the drug store this morning getting a knee strap to help reduce the pain of an ancient knee injury, I was fitting said item when a young family pulled up in their big Ford F250 pickup. Mum, Dad and two boys, and a babe in arms. Now in England this is a recipe for chaos. Sulky, ill natured kids who don’t want to be there and exasperated parents who would rather be anywhere else than with their whining ungrateful little mini-thems. Over here in BC it’s (Well, mostly) a totally different atmosphere.

One of the things I’ve noticed, being a recent import to these shores, is how generally quiet and well behaved many Canadian children are. But I’d never quite made the connection until today. Babe in arms, about a year old I’d reckon. Too big to be a newborn, too chubby for a Toddler, was swung into Mums front facing papoose and began squalling. Dad was leading his two boys across the car park, urging them on without raising his voice. Answering their torrent of questions and demands with a good natured; “But that’s not what we’re here for.” Mum was paying attention to the baby and using the same quiet, insistent and non-confrontational voice. There was no demand for the child to “Behave! Or else!” Just patient explanation that yes they were going to the store, no they already had too many toys and treats, and we’re going out this afternoon for a picnic. Please keep your voice down, I can hear you perfectly well. No heightened emotions, no drama and after the first exchange, no raised voices. The kids weren’t being ignored, au contraire, they were being engaged every step of the way. None of the usual parent to child guilt or threat exchanges. Just persuasion. I’ve overheard children at every turn presented with a “How would you feel if….?” option followed by a suggested positive outcome. In this particular case I got the feeling that this was a long-practised routine which both parents engaged in. A form of neuro-liguistic programming of their children, encouraging their progeny into preferred behaviours. Specifically not behaving like self-entitled little socipaths. At least until the soup of raging adolescent hormones turn them all into Kevins. Been there, done that. Twice, God help me. With girls, who make teenage boys look like pussycats, let me tell you.

Most of us grow out of the more unlovable traits of childhood. We can even break the generational cycle of abusive relationships, should we develop the will. Unfortunately this is often a protracted and very painful process for the person involved, and can be a terrible waste of a human being. Heavens to Betsy, some might even end up bloggers.

Which rather leads me to the thought that we are what we are programmed to be. Larkin expressed it as “They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad” but then again, Larkin was always one of my least favourite British poets. Having seen that side of the coin, I’m becoming convinced that parents don’t have to screw up their kids, they can engage, communicate and guide. Minimise the damage peer groups and aggressive marketing can do to kids minds by ensuring a child knows where their support mechanisms lie.

So it is with grown up life. Treat people with trust and engage them without being judgemental and my experience is that most will respond positively. Not too much trust mind, just enough to account for the one in twenty five that is a conscience-free zone. Treat everyone like wayward children, regulate their every waking moment with near incomprehensible rules they can’t help but break, and what response profile will they follow? Got it in one.