Friday, 28 June 2013

2nd Century Roman, or possibly 21st Century Taiwanese

Have you ever dug a hole?

I must have, quite literally, dug possibly as many as five holes in my life.  Most of them in various gardens, sometimes my own garden, sometimes whilst sober.  But there's always that feeling of wonder you get when you start.  Will I find anything interesting? maybe a potsherd (the proper name for a bit of broken old pottery) or a coin or a water main, or the holy of holies for us hole-diggers... A skull!

Doesn't matter what species it is... Human would be coolest, obviously, because your day gets instantly more exciting when a big white tent appears in your garden and you have all these people wandering around in paper suits, treading mud up your stairs when they go to the toilet.  The least cool.. I suppose that would have to be digging up what seems to be an Ancient Egyptian burial site (Momentarily forgetting that you're in Walsall) and then suddenly remembering that this is where you buried Mimsy the cat some years before.

Anywho, digging a big hole, finding something even remotely unusual and identifying it. There's a name for that - It's called ruining a perfectly good garden... But the professionals, the people who've spent time at University drinking cheap cider in the SU bar and fumbling inexpertly with girls called Sophia behind the curtains at the Socialist Worker Christmas Marxist fundraiser call it Archaeology.

Nothing has done more to promote modern archaeology (Yes, Oxymoron, I know) to the masses, than the most wonderful of wonderful programs involving diggers, the one that introduced the word 'GeoFizz' (Yes, I know, I spelled it wrong - Comedy Blog, remember?)

'Time Team'

It is / was brilliant.  Simple premise, a group of lovable, heavily personalitied, professionals, and Tony Robinson, go to various places and dig them up.  I don't mean they just throw a dart at the map and then wander across the pitch at Wembley and start digging up the touchline, they often get invited by people who've found something interesting in their garden, or by a local archaeology society who thinks that the interesting lumpy bit in the field down the road might be the remains of the only known prehistoric branch of Greggs the Bakers or Poundstretcher.

They'd arrive in their big 4x4s, Tony would say that he couldn't see anything, the professionals would smile knowingly and pinch the little scamp's cheek, then send him up in a helicopter to look for interesting lines. Then John would come out and start walking around the place with an array of increasingly Heath-Robinson contraptions to map out what lay below the soil.  A map would be produced which, much like the ultrasounds that pregnant women often bring into work, only looked like something if you already knew what it was that you were looking at.

JCBs would then arrive where blobs of coalesced GeoFizz had indicated the presence of walls or floors or waste pits and then Phil would stride onto the scene with his trademark west-country accent and feathered hat, gesticulate wildly and describe in glorious technodetail, what would be happening on the site some thousand years previously, he would include the names of the people involved, their favourite colour and their inside leg measurement.

In the background, gently shaking his head, would be a shock of wild white hair connected directly to an improbably knitted stripy jumper - The One, The Only, The Occasionally Quite  Grumpy, Professor Mick Aston.

Once they had bundled Phil off to make a pot or smelt some bronze or catch a rabbit with only his  hat and a replica of a roman toothbrush (I'm reliably informed that this is actually how the Romans caught rabbits - They called the process captas lepus dente dignissim et galeam - I believe I remember from school)  Mick got down to the actual work, watching the digger take the top layer of grass and soil off, then directing trainees and archaeology students to get busy with their badger-bristle brushes and Barbie sized trowels.  Within minutes, the hole is nine feet deep and they've got Iceland ice-cream tubs full of broken tea service all over the place.

Then Tony walks over again and asks how everyone's doing. Mick indicates the wall of the ditch and points to a selection of, to the casual observer, completely fictitious stripes which seemingly delineate where they've cut through an ancient river bed and and area decimated by a forest fire.  There's a single piece of gravel pointing to the fact that the area was once rife with charcoal burners and a patch of earth on the floor telling him where there used to be a hole.

So, just rewinding a little, this chap could identify, at the bottom of a deep, freshly dug pit, an area where there used to be a hole, but there isn't one now - How good do you have to be at your job to be able to detect something that no longer exists, inside a large version of the same thing, that has only just been called into being? - I mean, that crimped my gourd just writing that, let alone being able to do it.

I think I remember one time (Although in fairness, I've probably made it up - But it's the sort of things that could well have happened) where Mick was explaining that a flat rock that they'd uncovered in a pit was actually from the bottom of a post-hole and had been used as a foundation for a wooden post some 4,000 years ago.  Tony indicated another, incredibly similar rock a few inches away and asked if that was another one and Mick had said 'No Tony, that's just a rock.' And looked at him as if he may have been a bit simple.

Then they'd cut to the lab, where a half-inch square of grubby pot rim had been identified, and the viewer was treated to a CGI image of a five foot high carboy that had once contained olive oil or vinegar, or both (for Pre-historic salad dressing presumably), decorated with complex swirls and impressionist pictures of antelopes and rhinos (Still possibly in Walsall).  How can you possibly do that? it's physically impossible.  It's like a Chinese bloke taking a single blood cell and making a frog out of it... (What? No... I haven't read the news? A whole frog? 140 frogs? from one drop of blood? really? - Bugger - No, I can't take it out, they've read it now.  Yes, I'll do more research next time before I go shooting my mouth off.)

Then someone would suggest digging another trench, although they didn't really have time.  Then Mick would have an argument with John, Phil would proudly return from his reconstruction of life as a beaker-person or whathaveyou and proudly show off whatever it was that he'd not quite had long enough to make properly. Victor, the resident artist would show us scenes that he'd drawn depicting the buildings and artifacts that we'd seen. There'd be a shot of them all down the pub, showing that they were all great mates in real life and then Tony would do a piece to camera about what they'd achieved, there'd be an aerial shot of the dig, pulling out to the picturesque village that they happened to be in (or a rain soaked car-park in Walsall - poe-tay-toe / poe-tar-toe)

And then the spell would be broken - And you'd realise that you'd been sat, spellbound, in front of the TV watching some odd old geezers and the straight-man from Blackadder poddle about in the mud and spin you a yarn about the history of the country that we all love so much.

They'd brought history alive.  For that hour every week that I, and hopefully thousands of other people spent absorbing our past, I thank you Time Team.  I for one, hope that the cancellation of the show gets repealed.
I learned a lot.

This post dedicated to the memory of Professor Mick Aston - 1 July 1946 – 24 June 2013.
A native of Oldbury, not a million miles from where I'm sitting now, the archaeological inspiration of a generation, and wearer of some deeply awful jumpers

Thursday, 27 June 2013

It's all your fault!

I just read a post on one of those 'Spotted' Pages on Facebook.  I don't know if your area is covered, but effectively it's a page where people can post things about people they've seen in the local area that they would 'Like to get to know better' - I presume that that's what they mean when they say 'I'm rite lyk to smash er back doorz in bruv.' anyway. Or when they find your choice of car or clothes unacceptable or they wish you would close your front curtains whilst you are excitedly banging your spotty buttocked, squealing girlfriend when they are peering through your windows whilst taking their kids to school and suchlike.

Anyway, going off on a tangent there... Don't know where that one would have ended up if I'd carried on with it *whew*.

The post was from someone thanking some kids who had handed her Grans purse into a local shop when they'd found it on the floor.  It still had all the money in it and everything.  Wonderful story, very uplifting - Proving that the youth of today deserves to be looked at as a disparate, loose grouping of individuals with their own special attributes and aspirations, rather than a huge septic mass of snapbacks and hoodies who cannot spell a three letter word never mind have an original thought without putting 'ey' or 'YGM' or something on the end of it.

Brilliant, great post, great event, warm and firm handshakes all around.

However, I started to notice a worrying trend in some of the replies.  Apart from the spelling (which genuinely caused me to try and mouth the words and see if I could figure out what they were trying to say) and the almost apocalyptic lack of punctuation (Really, a sentence that stretches over four lines? - you must have some well hench lungs if you can say all that without stopping to breathe) - Oh! Lookit me! I'm trying to sound like a skinny, spotty white-boy, who weighs 5 stone wringing wet, doesn't know how hats work, thinks 'flipping the bird' is the epitome of human pulchritude, wears a lot of knock-off high-nylon-content sportswear and really wants to have been born, as a heavily muscled black gentleman, in South-Central LA or Compton.

So, apart from them, I kept reading things like 'Ah! they've made their Mums proud.' and 'That's because of the way that their Mums have brought them up' and 'Bet their Mums are giving them extra-big cuddles tonight'

See the theme?

Give you a clue, it starts with the letter 'M' and rhymes with 'bum'

I'm a Dad, and even if I say so myself, a pretty good one.  I appreciate that traditionally, mothers have always been seen as the primary caregivers and I'm not trying to take anything away from them.  I'd say that at least 80-90% of Mums are great, brilliant, wonderful people who inspire their kids whilst teaching them the proper boundaries and don't say 'It's just kids being kids, innit' when Little Jay-Zee gets brought home by the police as they've found him keying cars whilst still being dressed in his primary school uniform at 02:30 in the A.M.

I like to think that I've done my bit, in-between being out of the house for twelve hours a day doing the whole work thing.  I've helped to teach my kids to think for themselves, to be proud of their achievements, to know the difference between right and wrong, the correct pressure to use when you're putting someone in a sleeper hold (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, there's a very real danger of brain-damage and/or death if you don't know what you're doing!) and, most importantly, respect for themselves and others.

Yet I still get looked at as if I'm either a paedophile, or some other kind of deviant if I happen to be seen outside with my own daughter - I understand from other Dads who have daughters in their late teens that they have a similar but slightly different problem, there's active tutting being directed at them on a fairly regular basis from the more mature (agewise) female members of society.  I know that that might sound a bit sexist, but invariably, it's the classic 'Little Old Lady' that's giving it large with the 'He's old enough to be her Dad' business.

So what do we do about it?

How do we change that?

How do we make people start saying 'I bet their parents are proud' Rather than 'I bet their Mums are proud'?

Buggered if I know - but it might be a start for blokes to start taking responsibility for their children, acting like Dads and not just like bloody spermatozoon cannons. Getting their girlfriends pregnant and then rinsing and repeating with the next one and the next one and the next, wandering through their poky housing estates like a sexually ambivalent typhoid Mary (or Typhoid Marlon perhaps, in this particular case) begatting all over the place without a care in the world and bringing hordes of pale, acne-ridden ginger kids into the world who go straight from their third or fourth-hand plastic coated cots to the dole-queue, not passing Go, but still collecting £200 every bloody fortnight.

Parent who have been together for a long time and have subsequently parted after having kids - I get it, things happen, life's not like it is in fairy tales.  This isn't directed at you.  Neither am I talking about people who've escaped from abusive relationships or people whose partners have died, or mature people who have made the conscious decision to have children but to raise them on their own.

I'm talking about those boys, because they don't deserve to be called men - The 'I'm not wearing a condom, you can't feel anything' brigade, the 'If you loved me you'd let me' types, the ones you see in the adverts who prey on girls with low self-esteem, the ones whose face you would literally never get tired of punching, the ones who grin vacantly at you and you know that no matter how you explain it to them, they will have no idea what you're saying or why they should even care.

The ones that have made women hate men.

The ones that misguided women who don't really understand the difference between feminism and misandry blame all the world's problems on.

The ones that have made women who don't know me mistrust me because I am what is currently known as 'a big bloke.' (people used to use the word imposing you know - Better ring to it I think)

The ones that have made all men into monsters.

The ones that, if there was any justice in the world, would still be contained in a crusty old sock, hidden under their Father's bed.

This is aimed at you...

You make me sick.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Barnaby Wilde (Pt. 4)

It's time for another quick story, about the highs and lows... Who am I kidding, pretty much just the lows, of building custom motorcycles, specifically those with three wheels.

This is Buskilla, and the rear wheel in question is on the other side

I decided, whilst my current trike was being built, that what I wanted most in the world was a set of stainless steel, straight-thru, unbaffled, drag pipes.  Because I'm a badass, honest - Look, I prove it here... *

OK, for the non-exhaustophiles, those things that I describe up there are just really drainpipes that take the noise and noxious fumes away from the engine and deposit them into the radiator grille of the car behind me, or in the lungs of small children minding their own business by the side of the road.  There's no boxes like you'd have on a car that take the really poisonous stuff out or baffle the noise.

But, as generations of Badass motorcyclists have always said 'Loud Pipes Save Lives' - And there are many badges and stickers that you can actually buy in real shops that say this, so it must be true.

Anywho, I went to this custom exhaust fabricator guy, who, if I remember correctly, looked a bit like a skinny Thor.  He said that it was no problem, seemed simple enough and would probably only take him about week or two.  So I went home, enlisted the help of a mate who had a car with a towbar and a dolly (A contraption that allows you to tow something by lifting its front wheel off the ground - Not one of those inflatable things with three holes or the deluxe model with the real hair) and we trundled off down the road, the trike bobbing along behind us like an excited labrador puppy.

Before the next bit, I'd just like to point out that the rear tyres on the trike are 275/75-R15's so they're about 32" (81cm for the Frenchies etc.) in diameter and weigh the same as a medium sized child, or a couple of morbidly obese emperor penguins, or about a fifth of a juvenile Yak.

So, we were going down this hill, towards a mini-roundabout, my mate started to brake and there was a bit of a 'judder' - We both looked at the trike and it seemed fine, so he continued to brake, and as we came to a stop there was this crunch. We turned to look behind us again.  The trike was listing at about 30 degrees, so we assumed that one of the wheels had come off... I say assumed... Actually we knew that the wheel had come off because it had just bounced past the drivers side window and made its way down the road, bouncing higher and higher all the time.

By the time it made its way onto the island itself, It was bouncing higher than the cars - There was a lot of beeping of horns, I could sympathise I guess.  I'd beep my horn if something like a tractor tyre was flying at my face at 30mph.  It made it across the island and swerved into the oncoming traffic.  There were many twitching sphyncters on the A514 that afternoon I can tell you.  Then it encountered the bus and everything went a bit 'Slo-Mo'.  It bounced into the path of said bus, just as it was pulling up at the stop, so the driver slammed his anchors on and all the old ladies that had been waiting to get off were suddenly catapulted forwards and were flattened against the inside of the windscreen.  The tyre clipped the front 'wing' of the bus (If buses actually have wings that is) and slammed into the bus-stop.   Totally crushing the seating and cracking the glass in the windows.

We both made our way over, saying things like 'Blimey, I wonder who this belongs to?' and 'Well I never, tell you what, why don't I just get this huge wheel out of the way of you lovely people trying to get off this bus?' and 'Goodness Mrs, your nose isn't half flat., want to borrow a tissue?' Grabbed the wheel and had it away on our toes as fast as we could.

There's a nice new bus-stop there now, so I think what I did was actually a good thing for the community, in a way - Don't you?

* Please note: I'm not really a Badass... Well, not really

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

But I didnae dye my beard purple

So, if you were to spend £2 on a lottery ticket today, and you matched all seven numbers numbers AND you were the only person to do so... You'd win £157 Million. ($242 Million)



What could you do with that amount of money? Well, I guess you could do pretty much anything you wanted - I know I'd go mental, buying black market badgers and teaching them to sing showtunes and suchlike, but I think you'll agree that it's a proper game-changing amount of money.

You could do a lot of good - You could pay the wages for a nurse (Pay band 5, point 1 - for my NHS chums) for nearly seven and a half thousand years. Or, conversely, you could pay Wayne Rooney's wages for ten years. (Feel sick about how our sad society thinks that balding Granny-shaggers that play a child's game for an hour and a half a week are somehow seven hundred and fifty times more important than people who actually save lives yet? I certainly do.)

It's higher than the Gross National Product of the entirety of Micronesia (A chain of island-states just north of Australia) and you could possibly therefore buy it and pronounce yourself King, or Emperor or some other high muck-a-muck and find yourself owning a potential fortune in High-Quality Phosphates - You'd need a big wallet though, especially if you decided to live on the island of Yap, where the local currency consists of carved stone disks, up to twelve feet in diameter.  You could introduce some sort of credit system, the islands chiropractors would then worship you as their God. (or possibly kill you and eat you as you'd have taken away all their business).

You could buy four, brand new, AH-64D Apache Longbow Attack Helicopters, one for each member of the family perhaps, and make parking worries a thing of the past.  You might even have enough left over to teach you how to fly them. (It seems that there's a bit more to flying one of these buggers than it shows you on the XBox - It's like balancing a tea-tray on an oily ball bearing, in a high wind, or so I'm reliably informed.)

But all the mad things aside, what would you actually do?

If you were sat at home tonight and my very good and close friend, Mr Nick Knowles (or whoever presents it nowadays) reads out those seven numbers and you look at the screen, then look at your ticket, then back at the screen, ticket, screen, ticket.  Once the screaming and the explosive defecation had subsided, you'd check the numbers again and then read the back of your ticket to see what to do next.  So you ring Camelot and (I don't know because obviously it's never happened to me, but I assume...) They ask you some questions, maybe where you bought the ticket, if you'd like publicity or not, did you want to come to London to collect a cheque, or shall they put it straight into your Post Office savings account?

Would the paranoia set in now do you think? Would you start thinking that every person in the world wanted your ticket?  What would you do with it whilst you slept? What if someone breaks in and steals it? What if your wife slits your throat and makes off with it? What if the dog eats it? What if the wind blows through your draughty double-glazing and blows it into the oven, that was still warm from when you reheated a plate of leftovers from yesterday and the cat walks over the button that sends the spark to relight it and it catches on fire?

Then you try to calm down, because you realise that you're about to have a debilitating brain aneurysm - which would be ironic, according to Alanis Morrisette at least.

Then you think... A nice holiday whilst you take it all in, perhaps a couple of months in America.  DisneyWorld, Route 66, Hollywood, Californian beaches, maybe even a beachfront house (You can get something quite nice with five bedrooms and eight bathrooms for $20 Million on Laguna beach)  where you can spend the summers.

And then maybe a new car, you imagine walking into the Audi dealership, dressed in your pyjamas and your old dressing gown that your Auntie Edith bought you for Christmas in 1987, walk up the the salesman and say, 'I'd like a matching pair of R8 V10 Spyders please, and what's your price for cash?' Then you open the aluminium suitcase full of stacks of £50 notes and watch as he does a sex-wee and crumples to the floor with his eyes rolling back into his head and his arms and legs spasming uncontrollably.

But you'd need somewhere to live, you wouldn't emigrate, because you're staunchly British and you realise that foreign lands are all very well to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there (there are usually flies, and the distinct possibility of poor people, who in all likelihood sweat all over the place and make it look untidy.) So you'd buy some land, and engage some hardworking and artistic people to build you a stately pile.  It'd be a castle though wouldn't it, really?  From the outside it would look like something that could repel an invasion from an unwashed medieval horde for six months.  You'd have a high wall, and possibly a moat, with hammerhead sharks (because my wife says I can't have killer whales), because even though the initial paranoia has worn off, you still know that there're a list of people as long as your arm that think they deserve what you've got and are willing to take it by force.

Your castle would have a cinema, because going to the cinema is great, you might have a nightclub for having parties in, and a gym, obviously.  Perhaps you could cultivate the friendship of everyone's favourite 'Dragon', Duncan Bannatyne and he could get you a good deal on some decent equipment.  I'd personally supplement all this with a games room, the normal stuff like pool and snooker tables maybe even Ski-ball... And also a number of high-end gaming computers with 50" HD Monitors.  Maybe a bowling alley, but definitely a shooting range for guns and bows.

Other possibilities include one of those Wacky Warehouse type places, but adult sized.  A swimming pool with built in jaccuzi and water-slides coming from each bedroom.  You'd probably have bought some woodland too, then you could get some of those crusty type new-age chaps to build you a completely awesome tree-house / suspended walkway / Ewok habitats where you can sit in the autumn, drinking Fortnum and Mason hot chocolate whilst you take potshots, with your air-rifle, at people poaching rabbits on your land.

I'd have a cave too, built in the cellar, where all the walls have been sculpted out of something that looks like solid rock, but not that Star-Trek expanded foam stuff, painted to look like rock, something solid that you could bang a nail into to hold up a picture or something, should the mood take you.  It would have my writing computer, which would be like the gaming computers, but with twin, A4 sized monitors side by side... And I'd be able to dictate stuff to it and it would tell me if it was rubbish or not.  It would also have a dumbwaiter that led to the kitchen (that was big enough for me to fit in, because I've always wanted to do that.) And a soundproofed mini cinema, because occasionally you want to watch films in private, with the door locked, on a heated and Scotchguarded La-Z-boy. *Cough*

I guess I'd put a massive wodge of cash in the bank for the kids futures, maybe share it out a Little too, pay my close friends and families debts off, give em a million or so on top.  Actually, that's a point... If it were you, would you give everyone the same amount, to save on arguments, or would you employ a 'sliding scale' process?  Something like - 'I like you, but you borrowed my George Foreman grill last year and broke it, so I'm taking £100,000 off your award' or 'Actually, even though I've only really known you for a couple of months, you've been quite cool about the time you caught me staring down your top when you bent over, so have another £250,000.'

It's a proper minefield isn't it?

Is it all worth the hassle?

Could you cope with the constant worry about yourself or your family being kidnapped and held for ransom, the deluge of begging letters when people you haven't seen for years find out and come crawling out of the woodwork?

All you'd have in return is everything you've ever dreamed of?

It's a difficult question and no mistake, but as I sit here, riding around my personal skating rink made from ice from Jupiter's moon Europa, on the back of my platinum plated narwhal, I would say yes, it jolly well is worth it and I would repeatedly shoot anyone who says different.

That reminds me, I really must put an advert for a new chef in next month's Country Life.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Eaten? No, Rubbed all over myself? Yes.

Words.  Words are great right, if you didn't know any words... Well, you be stuffed wouldn't you? Recent studies have shown that there are somewhere in the region of a quarter of a million words in the English language - That's one for every mile between the Earth and the Moon, or one word for every pound of the price of an average UK house (Or Bugatti Veyron).

However, the average person's vocabulary can be anything between 20,000 - 50,000 words.  That means, for every word you know, there are at least another four that you probably don't.  OK, I mean a lot of them will be technical words or stuff you're never going to need, or dialect words.  But even so, that means that there's a potload of great words that we're not using, I say we... Obviously I mean you guys - I'm all about the using three long words where one short one will do.

I was reading some Blogs this morning, on the toilet (don't judge me, you all do it too, probably) and I saw that it's not just me.  A lot of Bloggers use 'flowery' language with the assumption that people will know what they mean. (Or to make themselves look intelligent) - That's not why I do it of course.  I genuinely love words... (Although the first time I wrote that, it came out as 'I genuinely love worms' Which isn't the same thing at all)

So, I present below a few of my favourite words (Not worms) as may or may not have been on the Blog, and their rough meanings - Please try to shoe-horn as many as you can into random conversations over the weekend.


Agglomeration - A stuck-together jumble, or pile of cr*p

Anapestic Tetrameter - A style of writing where you stress every third syllable when you read it out (Like T'was the NIGHT be-fore CHRISTMAS)

Anthropomorphic - giving something that isn't human, human attributes, like imagining death as a guy with a hood, and a scythe and a horse, called Binky.

Benzoylmethylecgonine - The posh word for Cocaine

Brobdingnagian - Huge, gigantic, large to the point of uselessness, From Jonathan Swift's book, Gulliver's Travels.

Burgeoning - To grow, but quickly. Like the buds on a flower, or perhaps the belly of an under-aged mother to be.

Calderkin - A dialect word for flint (the type of rock)

Chimping - The act of pooping into your hand and throwing it at the object of your affection. (Yeah, seriously - It's a thing that people actually do.)

Debauchery - Giving it large with the wine and the women, things you wouldn't tell your Mum.

Decrepit - (Not decrepiD, as most people seem to say) Old and feeble.

Gorram - A shortened version of God-Damn, originally from the Joss Whedon program 'Firefly' - Which you should all go and watch now, it teaches you how to swear in Chinese.

Hvad? - Danish for 'What?' - I've been using this for years and it sounds just enough like the English equivalent for people not to notice... Make me chuckle internally every time though.

Invective - Sweary and unpleasant words.

Ipovlopsychophobia - A fear of having your photograph taken, Like, that whole 'You can't take my picture! - Why, do you think it will steal your soul? - No, you've left the lenscap on' thing.

Laconic - brief, able to be described in just a few words.

Leitmotif - A (very) short piece of music, associated with a particular character - Possibly just a few notes that gets played when, for instance, the villain enters.

Panoply - A lot of different things, displayed at the same time. (From a Greek word that means a full set of weapons and armour)

Pitchblende - The ore that we get Uranium from

Poltroon - Not an idiot, as some people might think, but specifically a coward.

Proclivities - things that you enjoy doing, usually things that other people might find odd, disgusting, or potentially illegal.

Quantum - Now this sounds like one of those frightfully scary scientific words, you hear it a lot in Star Trek and stuff like that.  But it just means an amount of something, usually a small amount, but it doesn't have to be. (And you thought the title of the James Bond film Quantum of Solace was just gibberish? Well now you know)

Smorgasbord - (not SmorgasborG) Put simply, a buffet... But can be used to mean the same as a panoply.  It actually means a table full of sandwiches.

Sociopath - Someone who not only doesn't have a conscience, but doesn't even know that such a thing exists.


So, hopefully you learned a few new words, or learned what some words you've been using wrongly in the past actually mean.

Have a fun weekend, I'm going to - You see, I might be misguided, but at least I'm determined.



(Kisses my middle and index fingers and waves them at you)

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Is it safe?

I've worked in IT for nearly thirty years now... You're surprised, I know I come across as young and vibrant and thrusting, but in the real world I am a decrepit husk, kept alive only by a room of complicated machinery whose gloop-filled pipes take care of my every biological whim.

The years worth of IT based stories that you've read already have given you an idea of the sort of things that happen on a daily basis and result in the kind of enlarged foreheads that you often see on IT support people (This is not from increased brain capacity, even though that's what they'd have you believe, it's purely from the constant banging of heads against desks, walls, or in some extreme cases, the users themselves.)

But, if I were to have to pick a single 'thing' that causes more calls than anything else, it would have to be passwords.

July and August used to be the traditional 'busy' times for people to ask to have their passwords reset.  I get that, people go away on holiday and forget their passwords, it happens.  It's annoying, but it happens.  But more and more it's getting to be over Bank Holiday weekends, these people come back on a Tuesday morning, sit at their desks surrounded by pictures of their sticky faced kids and the pen-holder made out of a jam-jar covered in plaster and gravel and their minds go blank. They'll sit there with their fingers hovering like eagle's claws over the keyboard for a good few minutes, wracking their brains to remember what they'd set it to on the Wednesday before, before they pick up the phone and call 'The Helpdesk'.

The standard conversation goes a little bit like this...


'Hello support, Dandy speaking, how can I add value to your day?'

'My computer doesn't work.'

'Excellent... And you are?'

'Unable to do anything, because my computer isn't working.'

'Aha-ha-ha... Yes... Very good... But I meant what's your name?'

'My name is Mabel, I work in accounts.'

'Hello Mabel, OK, so what exactly is happening?'

'My password isn't working, when I type it in it says "Incorrect User Name or password"'

'And do you know your password?'


'And what is it?'

'Ah... Well... We're not supposed to tell anyone our password are we?'

'Technically no, but you can tell me...'

'But you could be anyone, I don't know you.'

'Well, you did call the Helpdesk, and I answered - So you should have at least some idea of who I am, if you think about it... (I listen to a couple of minutes muffled chatting in the background about how many times Chris Packham used the word 'Tits' in the previous evening's Springwatch)... Hello? Are you still there?'

'Yes, someone asked me a question - Can you change it please?'

'No problem, just give me a second to log onto the server.'

'Will you be able to see what's on my computer?'

'When I log onto the server?  No, don't worry.  What's your User Name?'


'No, sorry, I mean the thing you type above your password when you log in.'

'I don't type anything in above my password - I don't know what you mean.'

(I force my head not to impact with the table)

'When you log on, there are two boxes, you type your User Name into the top one and your password into the bottom one... What does it say in the top one?'


'No, actually in the box, I know that it says User Name to the left of the box, but what's actually IN the box?'

'It says Username, you just told me to type it in.'

'No I... Wait, What?'

'You said that I should type "Username" in the top box.'

(I take a second to bite myself repeatedly on the forearm - to check that I'm not having a nightmare)

'When you turn your computer on in the morning, what does it say in that box normally?'

'I can't remember - I don't usually have to type it in.'

'Fine, what's your surname?'


(I search on the server for someone with the surname Table, but can't find anyone)

'You're name's definitely... Mabel Table?'


'Only, I can't find anyone with that name, are you new?'

'No, I've been here for ten years!'

'Have you recently got married?'

'Yes! It was lovely, we had cake and bunting and we released some doves that my Mum said were pigeons which was a scandal for how much she paid and had wine and a balloon animal bloke.'

'Sounds lovely... What was your name before you got married?'


(I look down the list on the server and find Mabel Unterbrook, I reset her password and unlock her account, as she'd been trying random passwords and had locked it)

'I've changed the password for "munter01" to "Thursday01" - You'll need to change it the first time you log on.'

'What should I change it to?'

'Well, anything you like, but preferably something you'll remember.'

'Like what?'

'I don't really know, do you have a password for something like telephone banking?'

'Yes, it's "YellowHat"!'

'I didn't actually need to know that, but I guess you could use it, if you put a number on the end - There are rules: It has to be at least eight letters, it has to have a mix of upper and lower case letters, and it must contain a number.'

'Just let me write that down.'

'We suggest that you don't write down your password anywhere.'

'No, I was writing down the rules.'

'OK, did you want to try logging on?'

'So, I put "munter01" in the top box and my new password in the bottom one?'


(A long wait and than sounds of furious tapping)

'It says Incorrect User Name or Password again.'

'Try it again for me please...'

'Nope, same thing.'

'What password are you using?'


'Why are you using that? I said I'd changed it to "Thursday01"'

'But you said I'd have to change it to "YellowHat1" the first time I logged in.'

'I... But... Erm... Look, just type "munter01" in the top box and "Thursday01" in the bottom one.'

(More furious tapping)

'Hey that's worked.  But it's asking me to change my password.'

'It will do, yes.'

'But you've just changed my password haven't you?'

'Enter "Thursday01" in the top box, "YellowHat1" in the middle box and confirm it in the bottom box.'

'It says my new passwords don't match.'

'Did you type your new password in both of the bottom two boxes?'

'No, I typed "YellowHat1" in the middle one and "Yes" in the bottom one.'

'Why did you do that exactly?'

'You told me to confirm my password, so I typed "Yes"'


It was shortly after that that she got moved to another department, well, I say department, actually she's inside one of the bridge supports of the M6 Toll Road - If you look carefully as you go past Brownhills, you'll see a particularly stupid looking pillar, that's her.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

I'm all about the Kid-Lit

OK, so most of you know by now that I'm writing a book, I mean, I shoehorn it into into pretty much every conversation I have, with anyone.

For example, I was in the Doctors on Monday, and my sun was lying on the floor in the waiting room reading the manuscript and pointing out grammatical and logical errors (He's eight by the way - And he's forced more re-writes than anyone else in the history of history) and the Receptionist called out someone's name and I just automatically stood up and shouted 'But I'm writing a book!' and then went a bit red, and sat down, and then tried to crawl into the upholstery.

But it's not the first thing I've started to write. A long time ago I had the idea of writing a children's book.  I only got as far as writing one page of A4, but maybe I could develop it.  Let me know what you think.

It's about cats, maybe I'll just release it on the Internets, the Internets likes cats.


Mango yawned, the conservatory was warm and sunny and everything, but he couldn't shake the feeling that there was a draught coming from somewhere.

'Feeling that ghost draught again?' Said Clem.  Clem was a full head taller than Mango and about a coat of varnish paler, but he was still a Ginger Tom and as such was due some respect.

'There nothing ghostly about it,' snapped Mango, 'One of the Talls must have forgotten to close a door somewhere, if they're not forgetting to close them, they're trying to shut my tail in them.'

Clem shook his head slowly and set about cleaning himself up, the long journey down from the top of the TV, along the bookshelf and onto the rocking chair was tiring and dusty at the best of times - and this particular spring afternoon was not one of those times.

Mango look accusingly at the doors, frowned, blinked and then settled back to sleep.

The Talls had been acting oddly all day; furniture had been moved, curtains had been taken down, the washing machine had been going all day and most important of all, every time either Mango or Clem had got comfortable on something, it had been snatched out from underneath them with a cry of 'CAT!'

Now, there was only so much of this behaviour that any tomcat worth his stripes should be expected to take, but it still came as a surprise to the tallest of the Talls when Mango bit his thumb when he tried to pitch him off a perfectly comfortable pile of cushions.  They had both been relegated to the conservatory by the scruffs of their necks and they could tell by the scowl on the Tall's face that it might make sense not to argue.

Clem stared through the glass at the Talls as they busily moved things from one place to another.  He couldn't understand why  they always had to do so many things.  Tomcat life was simple; You woke up in the morning, ate, washed, went for a brisk walk, scared some birds, came home, slept, ate some biscuits, slept, annoyed the dog and then slept until breakfast time.  If you could fit in some extra sleeping, washing and eating, then that was even better, but there was certainly no moving of furniture, or making loud noises.

'Do you think they're making a nest?' wondered Clem out loud.

'Mmm?' mumbled Mango, not really paying attention.

'The Talls, they're moving everything around and cleaning it.'

'Why are you trying to work out what they're doing?' Mango was trying his best not to be interested, but was failing miserably.

'Because - I just noticed that your ball was under the sofa that they just moved.'

Mango was suddenly VERY interested.  His ball, his wonderful, bouncy, difficult to chase ball! He'd lost it ages ago during one of his hunting experiments.  He was trying to see how many times he could pounce on the ball, knock it across the room, catch it, bite it and bat it away again before it got away from him and went under the sofa.

Unfortunately, the answer was one.


And there you go, it's all I wrote.  Later episodes would involve Saff, the vegetarian but ultimately dim dog, appearances by Enna, Fog and Pop the kittens - And if it were 'have legs' maybe Morty the tail-chasing Staffie.

Something to think about in the future.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

No, chopper as in motorcycle - And Greeks.

In the good old days (for new readers, the 'Good Old Days' was a time, in the past, some 20 or so years ago, where my life involved more beer, more motorcycles and more morally challenged young ladies) there was a Greek restaurant around the corner from our local.  We used to go there on Saturday and Sunday nights, mainly because they used to serve alcohol until about three in the morning and they had a very novel 'Buy two drinks, get one free' deal going on most of the time.

It was called the Village Taverna and run by a chap whom we called called 'Gleekos', which may have actually been his name, but it's more likely one of those playfully racist names that the English gave to people of differing racial backgrounds at the time. He used to wander between his restaurant, the pub and the betting shop bellowing a hearty 'Hey You!' and wave at anyone who acknowledged him.

I think it's a Spanish Tapas bar now, which is a pity - Their Mezzes used to be legendary, well, we used to like them, but I've never actually been there sober, so they could have been made out of cardboard and fish-paste for all I know.   Anyway - To the stories.


Because he was a generous type, had lots of experience with drunks (His wife used to throw them out for him, he was only little) and was one of the few Greek Tavernas that still did plate-smashing, he was very popular with stag parties.  You would often wander past, look through the windows and see crowds of apes in football shirts hooning plates at each other, whilst Gleekos ran around like Woody Woodpecker with his hair on fire, shouting 'No dee surfing playt! - We god da spesh playt for dee smashinge!'

On this particular night, we left the pub and decided to go for a quick stifado and a couple of bottles of retsina.  As we pushed through the little door into the restaurant, it was obvious that there had been a stag night going on.  Gleekos had pushed three tables together and there were slumped bodies all over them.  The man himself was sat on a stool by the bar, rocking backwards and forwards saying 'My byootifull playt, I say no smashinge the surfing playt, they smashinge innit?, iz like they no hears me or sutin.'

We found a table, ordered some drinks and started to take the mickey out of the drunks.  Now, in the dim and distant past, the restaurant had probably been a private house for some 19th Century mid-range toff and the upstairs (where the toilets were) was a bit of a maze. This is something you need to bear in mind for the next bit.

So we were sat there, happily drinking, enjoying a bit of houmous and pitta and suchlike (which we got free because we spent so much money there) when it started to rain.  You know when you're sat there, on a park bench, admiring the view, and you feel the first few drips of rain and you think 'If it gets any harder, I might go home'?  Well, the same was happening to us, but we were in a Greek restaurant, at just before midnight, on a Saturday, indoors.

It took us a few minutes to actually register that we were getting wet, and we called Gleekos across saying 'It's raining mate!'

He lifted his palms to the ceiling, agreed that it was indeed raining and then traced the water to a ceiling fan that was quickly spinning, and flinging water off the ends of the blades.

(Worked it out yet?)

So, he explodes in panic 'Ah godda leak, innit?' and runs upstairs to see if someone had left a tap on.  He came down minutes later, holding a drunk dude by the scuff of his neck, jibbering away at him in Greek and clipping him around the ear.  Turns out that the poor drunk chap had been looking for the gents, couldn't find it, and just decided to relieve himself in a corner.

It had gone through the floorboards, onto the ground floor ceiling and had found its way to the fan housing, which it then dripped down and onto the blades...


This story is completely second hand, told to me by my good friend Jock.

This is him, accepting a trophy for 'Best Chop' at the HAMC's 2006 Bulldog Bash, unfortunately for everyone who knew him, he died shortly afterwards.  I've included the picture to give you some idea of scale in the story that follows.

Jock belonged to a group of like-minded motorcycle enthusiasts called the National Chopper Club.  They would meet socially, very regularly and... How shall we put it? Knew how to have a good time.  He knew Gleekos, as all of us did, which made his restaurant an obvious choice for one of their many robust social gatherings.  It started out very sensibly, there was food and beer, then food and wine, then ouzo and wine, then ouzo, then Mr Sensible picked up his bowler hat, umbrella and briefcase, and left the building.

Sometime during the evening, two middle aged couples had come into the taverna and had chosen to sit as far as was humanly possible from the NCC lads.  All fine and dandy so far, you might think, and it was, until Gleekos started playing 'Zorba's Dance' on the stereo, brought out the 'spesh' smashing plates and it all went a bit 'Anthony Quinn'

(Bit of trivia for you here, Anthony Quinn, who played Zorba in the 1964 film, was actually Mexican... Born in Chihuahua - You've learned something - Thank me later)

So, spurred on by the thought of smashing plates and general pratting about, our heroes decided to have a bit of a dance.  Despite Gleekos' best efforts, it quickly degenerated from a traditional Greek-Cypriot folk dance, to something more like a Bad-Manners inspired can-can.

It was at this point that Jock noticed that one of the women was clapping along - and he did no more than wander over, grab hold of her, and drag her into the pile of broken crockery that had previously been the dance-floor - More dancing ensued, with the mature, but still attractive lady teaching the bikers how to dance.  After the tune was over, Jock escorted her back to her table, politely pulled out her chair for her and thanked her for the dance.

Her husband, who had gone quite purple and sweaty remarked, 'You've done well to get her dancing.' With a fixed, rictus grin.

To which Jock replied, 'Ah don' know whut yer grinning aboot flower, after ah've had a pish, you're next.'

By the time he came back, both couples had, probably not surprisingly, made their excuses and left.

When Jock awoke the next morning, in his own bed, he wasn't alone...

You're assuming that his dance partner had returned aren't you?

Well, I'm afraid she hadn't.  Jock was sharing his bed with a 4 foot square mirror, that had previously been screwed to the wall of the taverna.  Up until the last time I spoke to him, he still had no idea of how or why it'd gone home with him, or why he'd particularly felt the need to take it to bed.  Feel free to fill in the blanks yourselves - You probably won't be that far from the truth, however perverse you are.

I must extend a thank you to Briz at Custom Cycle Developments (Custom Harley Davidson frames and bespoke parts a specialty - Reasonable rates) who provided the above picture of Jock, although he freely admits that he can't remember where he got it in the first place - So, if you actually took it, my apologies, feel free to get in touch and I'll put in a credit for you.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Confrontational? Moi? C'est ne pas Moi?

There's a lot of talk about this Download Festival thing at the moment.  It may surprise you to find out that a lot of the people I consider to be friends (to a greater or lesser extent) enjoy 'RAWK' music in all of its forms.  Many of them are currently camped out in a squalid, muddy field on the Derbyshire Leicestershire border, hanging around the VIP Entrance trying to get Bruce Dickinson's autograph.

In my day, Monsters of Rock, as it was still called way back then cost about £15 to get in, had seven or so bands on a Saturday afternoon, then some fireworks, then it was time to grab a fish supper, a refreshing ginger beer and wend your way home, discussing with your chums about what a splendid time you've had.

Nowadays though, these callow, ungrateful, youths get three days of debauchery, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY TWO BANDS! (Some of which I have actually heard of) all spread between five stages... Admittedly, they do pay £200 which, depending on how you divide it up either bloody expensive, or tremendously expensive.

(Actually, if anyone gets to see Dir En Grey or Chthonic over the weekend, let me know what they're like live.. I've always wondered)

But oddly, this short Blog post isn't going to be about Download at all... Well, the first bit was, but it was kind of just a pre-amble that got away from me a bit.


I live about ten miles from Donington Park and drive straight past the main gate every day on my way to work.  I have an interest in motorcycles and rock music, so you'd think I'd be there every weekend wouldn't you?  Well, I can count the times I've been there on the fingers of one hand (If we momentarily forget about MOR, that is).  When I do go, there's always some kind of 'incident' though... I guess that I'm just one of those lucky people that dear old Fate often finds in her sights.

There was this one time, a mate of mine (Now sadly deceased) managed to score some free tickets for the Truck Racing.  Don't know if you've ever seen it, but pretty much it's a bunch of complete nutters, driving 20 ton, 12 litre, turbocharged tractor units around a racetrack at 100mph with their brakes on fire - very impressive, especially when the weather's a bit dull.

There were about a half-dozen of us, four blokes, two girls, and we'd had a great day.  A few beers, a few burgers, you know the drill.  Anywho, we started hearing repeated calls over the tannoy, for about an hour, that said something like 'Would the owner of a green Vauxhall Vectra registration number Dee one cee kay haitch three ay dee, please move it immediately, it is illegally parked.' we didn't take much notice at first, but as it was repeated over and over, it started to get a bit annoying.  We were all like, 'Why doesn't the d*ck just move his car?' and 'I'd just tow it away.' Eventually, on our way back to that parking area, we came across a young girl (steady!) who was sat on a wall, who had obviously be crying for quite some time.

Frank, one of our number, who was by far the nicest of us, went up to her and asked what was wrong - She pointed at her Renault 5 with the daisy painted on the side and said that she was a nurse and she was going to be late for a shift in casualty (or something, it was, like twenty years ago dudes - gimme a break) because someone had boxed her in with his car.  We looked, and, to our surprise, there was a green Vauxhall Vectra TurboLeatherSeatMassiveSpoilerAlloyWheelsCretinSpecialEditionGSI

We looked at each other and walked towards the car.  Another of us, Jock, who was the chap who'd gotten the tickets and was as huge and hairy as Frank was nice, turned to me and said 'Bounce?'

I nodded and replied 'Bounce.'

So, we took a wheel-arch each and started, gently at first, to bounce the car on its suspension.  To enable you to experience the scene with more detail, I would like to point out that I am over six feet tall and weigh in the region of two hundred and fifty pounds... I was, by quite a margin, the smallest male in the group.  The plan was to get the car bouncing just enough so that its wheels came off the floor and we could move it out of the way.

What actually happened is that we got somewhat carried away, I mean we moved the car out of the way first so the nurse could wander off and save some lives or whatever it was that she wanted to do, but we didn't stop there, we kept bouncing.  At one point the car was bouncing to what felt like waist height, and making some very interesting noises when it hit the ground.  It was then that we noticed him... He was wearing a silk suit and mirrored aviators, and his mouth was hanging open.  We were wearing leather jackets, with no arms, some with interesting embroidered patches on the back, beards and stupid grins.

Someone asked, 'This yours?'

He nodded, his mouth still hanging open.  As one, we gave the car one last bounce and then stood back.  The noise of the cars last, fatal, impact with the ground was drowned out by the rapturous applause of the crowd that had assembled during our display.  Jackets were straightened, sleeves were brushed, hands were waved at our appreciative audience and as we left, Jock turned to him and said, 'You really should me more careful where you park you know.' Which got us another cheer.


Another time, we were at some plastic-fantastic race weekend, I think it was sponsored by 'Fast Bike' or 'Superbikes' magazine and you can imagine the sort of people who were there.  Most of them were wearing one-piece racing leathers where only the right-side kneeslider was scuffed.

(Right, the non-bikers amongst the readership might need a bit of an explanation there... Kneesliders are those things you see stuck to roundey-roundey bike racers knees for when they lean their bikes at insane angles, at lunatic speed going round corners - They help you gauge how far you're leaning, and traditionally, the more scuffed they are the more 'hardcore' you are... If someone has only got a scuffed kneeslider on their right leg, it means that they've been going round and round the traffic island outside their local Sainsburys trying to get their knee down, rather than racing.)

Anywho, historically, riders of custom motorcycles and riders of sports motorcycles have not always seen eye to eye on, well, anything really.  Where one might find the exhilaration of speed to be important, the other may think that the look of the bike is more important than the handling.  So there was a small amount on tension to begin with, which multiplied during the evening with the repeated addition of alcohol.  It was decide that things were in danger of starting to turn ugly, so we all wandered back to our tents and broke out the crate of Newcastle Brown that we had thoughtfully brought with us.

Then it started... Something I've never really understood, that sportsbike rider seem to like to do when they get together (apart from wheelspinning until they blow their rear tires and doughnuts) is to sit revving their bikes higher and higher until they 'bounce off the rev limiter' - If you have never heard anyone do this, you are one of the luckiest people alive.  It's a sort of BwahBwahBwahBwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-BAh-BAh-BAuh-BAuh-BAuh-BAuh-BAuh! noise which usually turns into a competition.  It was the early hours of the morning, and this had been going on for about an hour, when Chris, one of our number, asked them very politely, via the medium of expletive filled yelling, to shut the actual flip up.  Their reply was of a similar nature, but concluded by an elongated bout of revving, during this,  Chris stood up, and with the mating call of the extremely sure of themselves - i.e. 'Hold me beer youth.' set off into the darkness of the campsite.

We could hear the sounds of an argument, a small amount of scuffling and, as we all jumped up to give him a helping hand, there was a noise that was loudly mechanical, brief, and utterly indescribable - followed by complete silence.  He came back into the circle of light from our tents, stuck his hand out for his beer and sat down.  It turns out that he'd asked them to stop, they'd decided that sadly, they were disinclined to acquiesce to his request.  At which point he'd picked up the first thing that came to hand and smashed the crank-case of the offending motorcycle to smithereens.

The first thing in this case being a three foot long King Dick Spanner, which he was still holding like Captain Caveman's club - going somewhere towards explaining why he hadn't been beaten to a pulp.  When we pointed it out to him, he looked at it, shrugged and threw it back across the campsite in their general direction.

The rest of the night was blissfully quiet, until we all started singing 'Bat out of Hell' at the top of our voices that is.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Welcome to the world of...


That's right kiddies, today I'd like to spout a page full of nonsense about one of the broadest subjects on which you're still allowed to have an opinion and sound as if you might know what you're talking about - The vast panoply of things that haven't happened yet.

I know that not everybody likes science fiction, but everyone likes 'cool' stuff surely?

Cool stuff like, oh... I don't know... Flying through space, faster than the speed of light, giving it the old pew-pew-pew whilst shouting 'Eat Plutonium death, you repulsive alien weirdos!'

Or being transported from your bed to the breakfast table by conveyor belt, having a tablet that tastes like bacon and another that tastes like eggs.  Jumping into a hollow glass tube and be lowered to the garage level where you sit on a floating disk and tell it where you want to go.

If things like this ever happen, they're not going to happen whilst anyone who's currently alive is still alive, at least I don't think so... But then I'm not a Futurist.

There are people out there who are paid to tell big companies what the future is going to be like so that they can develop products that will better fit into that world.

Apple employed a futurist who told them that the future will all be featureless black monolithic slabs, that would spring into life when you touch them. (Leading a lot of people to believe that he'd watched Stanley Kubrick's film 2001 the previous night and had eaten a bad chimichanga.)

You'd expect Apple to be able to employ warehouses full of bearded, flip-flop wearing 'visionaries' to tell them how the future should look, but what about the chaps in the little vans who mess about in that mysterious green box at the end of the road?

British Telecom have a whole raft of futurists, a couple of whom came up with a frankly brilliant idea ruined by being called, incredibly ominously I think, 'The Soul Catcher'.  One of its functions is to cheat death, you wear the device throughout your life and it records everything you experience. At the moment of death, or frankly, whenever you feel like it, you can download yourself into a new-born baby and have another three-score and ten ad infinitum.  I'm sure they've worked out all the moral implications of this, and we shouldn't worry at all.  In fact, I've just noticed that they've renamed the project 'Soul Catcher 2025' and I'm going to go ahead and assume that this means you'll be able to buy yourself one for Christmas in about twelve years time.

While we're on the subject of the Technological Behemoth that is BT.  One of their other research teams are (allegedly) looking at human microchipping.  Much like they currently do with dogs - They cite their reasoning as developing a cashless, passportless societly.  Where your identity could be confirmed by swiping you with something that perhaps looks like one of those wands that they wave at you if you make the metal detector go off at the airport whilst you're just wearing your pants.   What it's not for, they say, is to be able to tell where every, single person on the planet is at any specific time... Oh no, nothing like that.  And it's not to provide plot devices for action films where the bad guy figures out where your chip is, hacks off that part of your body and lives as you for the next few weeks.  We do quite enough of that already with those eye-scanning lock things that all the secret bases seem to have nowadays.  All you need to do in that case is find someone who has access and introduce them to the business end of a teaspoon.

Mind control devices are also seeping into our toyshops at the moment... I don't mean they control your mind, yet... I mean that there are toys that claim to be able to be manipulated by your mind.  Did any of you see the Gadget Show Japanese special where the very lovely Pollyanna Woodward wore a pair of brainwave controlled cat ears?  She could make the ears move by thinking, or at least, by simulating different moods.  There are helicopters you can fly with your mind, assault courses that you can move floating ping-pong balls through.  And I'm reliably informed that there is a Star Wars game where you learn how to use the Force (i.e. make something happen just by thinking about it)

There are your standard advances, that every can think about, things like 'Oh computers will definitely get smaller.' You're right, they will.  But how small will they get? A chap called Gordon Moore (Nearly typed Gordon Freeman then... There's a Freudian slip for you) who helped to found a little company called Intel, posited something which has come to be called 'Moore's Law'. This states that the amount of 'switches' on a given size of computer chip will double about every two years - So it gets twice as powerful.  This can't go on forever though, as there's a limit to how small things can get - Or is there?  Scientists have managed to create a switch (more properly called a transistor) out of a single atom of phosphorous that can be used in the next level of computer design, something called Quantum Computing.  You know how all the information is stored inside computers as millions of '1's and '0's? Well, Quantum Computing's just the same as that, but all the switches are set to '1' and '0' at the same time... (This theory originally brought to you by an Austrian bloke who considered sealing a cat in a box with some poison to prove that it was both alive and dead at the same time.)

(No, not THAT mad Austrian bloke, not the one that enjoyed some hardcore antisemitism, a different one - It must be something in the water.)

The thing to remember is that these are just the things we know about.  The military (Specifically a bunch of complete nutters called DARPA - Who gave us the Internet amongst other things) are working on stuff that would turn your ears green and make your socks set on fire.  For instance, those of you that remember the first Gulf war in 1991, remember seeing all those videos of the new F117 'Stealth Fighter'? Well, they started developing it in 1975, and it first flew in 1981, so they're VERY VERY good at keeping things secret.

Listen to the tin-hat brigade and they'll tell you about reverse engineered alien technology, mind control (the bad kind), genetic engineering of humans and boxes that can generate and control the weather.  Who knows?

What do I see in the immediate future?

Well, lunch initially, then the publishing of a wildly successful book by a new writer about airships and robots, that has a strange close-up picture of the author from his eyebrows down to his chest on the back, because he is fat and balding.

What do you think the next century holds? I'd be genuinely interested in finding out, leave me a comment, it's the way of the future...

Monday, 10 June 2013


Did you know, Top Gear is the world's most widely watched factual TV program?

No, really, more people watch it in more countries than any other non-fiction program ever, in the history of the known universe?

It's a good format, much better than the old one. Essentially it's three 'Great Mates' (tm) Who know about cars (to a greater or lesser extent) sat on a sofa, having a bit of a chat and a cuppa.  Occasionally they scoot about a bit, test-driving (And I use the term loosely) the sort of cars we'd all like to be able to afford... It's, like, inspirational, innit?

They also cater to the celebrity lovers by letting us see famous people drive a car around a Mildly Moist track, proving that they're not brilliant at everything (apart from the tremendously annoying ones that are at least) - It's great, real family entertainment of the old school.

The three main characters play off each other perfectly,

Richard Hammond plays the diminutive, eyelid creasingly stylish one, who specialises in letting his inner child out.  He revels in the wonderment of the very act of driving and whips up tumultuous enthusiasm for every, single, solitary thing that he does.

James May is at totally the opposite end of the scale, he embodies everyone's inner 'normal bloke in the street'.  He eats pies, drives sensibly, owns a trainset, and has a healthy contempt for the flashy and corporate.

Both of these fine gentlemen do a great job of representing the audience at home of the show, and they both ride motorcycles, which obviously defines them as members of the next level of evolution.

The third member of the team, whose idea (along with producer Andy Wilman) the whole shebang was, is Jeremy Clarkson. Who does he play?  I've thought long and hard about this, on the toilet, this morning, and the best description I can come up with is The lottery-winning juvenile uncle, who after years being stuck in a dead end marriage has started his midlife crisis with pockets full of crumpled tenners, and wants to take us along for the ride and show off a bit.

So, Great show, great presenters, great cars, great premise... What's it famous for?

Well, controversy for one...

I know that most of the planet nowadays seems to be populated by swively-eyed jobsworths who claim racism, sexism, heightism, weightism, spoonerism and speciesism, homophobia, zoophobia, triskadecaphobia, coulrophobia, xanthophobia or ipovlopsychophobia about every sentence that has ever been spoken by anyone ever - But they do seem to target Top Gear more often than anything else.

OK, so occasionally they've said things about those lovely, hardworking, people, who through no fault of their own, have the misfortune to have been born in places that aren't England.  They've re-enforced the odd cultural stereotype, citing Mexicans as being lazy for instance or Romanians as all being gypsies (Which, of course, we'll all find out isn't true in 2014 when Romanian nationals are allowed to apply for permanent jobs in the UK with impunity). They also may have claimed that Albanians lean towards organised crime and added an extra part into their Albanian roadtest by trying to fit a recently deceased Albanian gentleman (Killed especially for the show) into the boots of various cars to see which the best one for a local person to own would be.

They've been accused of destroying areas of outstanding natural beauty, running into the odd tree, setting fire to campsites and promoting drinking and driving whilst becoming the first people to drive to the (magnetic) North Pole.

They're also constantly berated for not droning on and on about electric cars - Which are, most definitely, the future... So 'they' say, whoever 'they' are.

But I think that the common denominator in all of the things that Top Gear has gotten itself into trouble about is that they're all things that we'd say to each other in the pub after a few pints, then there'd be a minuscule pause followed by raucous laughter.  Even one of Mr Clarkson's more complained about diatribes, the one where he noticed that that there was a propensity for long-distance lorry drivers to murder prostitutes.  I myself may have made this connection to a couple of my lorry driving friends, who took it as the good natured ribbing it was intended to be - I would forever greet them after they had been driving a lorry, for long distances, by saying 'Alright [Insert name], where've you been? Murdered any prostitutes?' and we'd all laugh and he'd disappear into the toilet to wash his carving knife and change his clothes, which he would then burn and bury.

And a lot of the other notoriety comes from people's irrational hatred of Jeremy Clarkson.  He's just a Yorkshire lad, who came from a family that made cuddly toys and jam-jars who went to the same school as one of my mates (not at the same time though).

His character thinks the Government interferes too much in our day-to-day affairs, thinks people who vote for the Green Party are a little bit odd, Champions the cause of political incorrectness, Dislikes Rover and GM (That's the car firm, not those wonderful mutated crops that people keep committing suicide over), thinks that too many trains get delayed because loonies keep throwing themselves in front of them and has a healthy disregard for farcical speed limits.

In short, the same things that most of us think.

The only difference that I can see between us and him is that he, arguably, has the best job in the world, and we don't - So I'm just going to go with jealousy.

And bearing in mind that he's also punched Piers Morgan repeatedly in the face, you should all be jealous too.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Anything ELSE for the weekend?

So, most of you know that I work in IT, and you've read some of the stories about the sort of things I've had to put up with in the past.  Some of them were from genuinely stupid people, some were from people who just didn'y know any better and still more were from people who shouldn't be allowed to eat with a fork.

Others of you will know that I work for (Not as) a hairdresser... Can I just point out that I cannot and will not cut or style your hair... Although I'll quite happily have a blundering, all thumbs, attempt at a vajazzle for you. Can you imagine the sort of IT problems that hairdressers create?  I share an office with the IT Support team, and the quality of support calls that their team have to deal with is... Well... I'll let you decide for yourself.

Please note, these things all happened in the last week, and it's not been a particularly busy week.


I've told a story similar to this one before, and I include it just to let you know that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Our salons are split into regions, each of which is overseen by a Regional Manager.  These are often hair stylist who've 'climbed the ladder' and been given more and more responsibility until they're deemed powerful enough to hold other peoples' careers in their hands.

We had an R.M. (as they're known, colloquially) come into the office with the printer from her 'home office' - (Please note, this particular young lady has a thick, Liverpudlian, accent - Bear that in mind, I feel it adds something to the story.)

'This thing doesn't work!' She said, dropping the printer down on the table.

'What seems to be the problem?' Asked one of our guys, very politely, and after a good ten minutes of 'It doesn't work / What exactly do you mean' roundy-roundy type questions, he ascertained that it did everything but actually print.  She'd tried everything that she possibly could, she'd changed the toner (twice), replaced the drum, sacrificed a chicken but nothing would make it spring into life.  By the time that she'd explained all this, she'd decided that she had too much to do to stand around watching someone trying to fix an obviously broken printer - and went off for a coffee.

So, the printer was plugged in, connected to a PC and tested - It didn't print (Please tell me you've figured out what was probably wrong with it)

I'll give you another few minutes, what could possibly be wrong, with a printer, used by someone who has hiring / firing responsibility for 60 or so people, that was so technically intricate that she had to haul it a hundred miles to get it fixed by a tech?

That's right, there was no paper in it.

He put some paper in it and ran a few test prints... Then did the same when she came back to check on his progress.  She had the decency to go a rather fetching shade of scarlet, and swore us to secrecy - And none of us have ever told another living soul. *cough*


I recently overheard on of my other colleagues on the phone to a real, live, hairdresser who was having a huge problem with the printer in the salon, I can only imagine that the poor girl was on her own, had a huge queue of customers and was flustered to the point of turning into... Ah... Something that's notorious for being easily flustered.  Obviously I only heard his half of the conversation, so I've decided to fill in hers from my 'Great Big Book of Things Users Say'

Him: OK, so what's happening when you try to print?
Her: Nothing
Him: Nothing at all, no sounds?
Her: No [To Customer] Sorry to keep you waiting...
Him: Does anything come up on the screen when you try to print?
Her: Yes
Him: [Waits for a few seconds] Well, what does it say?
Her: I can't remember - It doesn't print so I've stopped trying to print things
Him: OK, can you try and print something and tell me what it says?
Her: OK [To Customer] Yes, that'll be £75, I'm sorry the printer's broken, I can't give you a receipt. [To Him] It say 'Printer Not found'
Him: Right, are there any flashing lights on the printer?
Her: No
Him: We're going to need to check if there are any lose cables, can you get to the back of the printer?
Her: Erm... Not really [To Customer] No Madam, I don't think there should be a tingling sensation, but I've only ever used it on my head... [To Him] It's all a bit jammed in.
Him: Are there any lights on the printer at all?
Her: No, not that I can see
Him: Really? Right, was there any noise when the lights went out? or a funny smell?
Her: No, it's been like that since we turned it off.
Him: [Facepalms quite expressively] There's a switch on the front with a 1 and a 0 on it, can you press the side with the 1?
Her: Oh! that seems to have fixed it, well done!

Then he went over to the kitchen and put his head in the microwave, luckily though our microwave is electric and not gas, so he just got a bit of a tan.


And today's final foray into the world of the slapdash shampoo and set is about one of our compatriots in the office.  She has no staff to worry about, but nevertheless, is in a position of some power.

We have just issued everyone who has a workphone with a brand-spanking new iPhone 5 - There have been teething problems, as you would expect, but this one sticks in my mind.  Please also keep in mind that this particular person, relies on her phone more than she relies on her left leg.

She came into the office claiming that her phone had stopped working, and she'd appreciate it if we fixed it.
Her phone was duly examined and found to be working perfectly well, she was asked to demonstrate the problem... She rang her desk phone, which forwarded the call to her iPhone, which remained silent - But the screen lit up and flashed that someone was calling her.

'Ah, this happens sometimes!', explained the same gentleman who 'fixed' the printer in the above story, 'You just have to do this:' He stiffly banged the top of the iPhone, whilst surreptitiously switching off the Mute button.

'Try it now.'

So she did, and it worked (Well, it would, wouldn't it.?)

'Yeah, just a loose connection... I wonder...' He gave it a brisk tap (and switched the Mute on again). 'Try it again?'

Which she did, and of course it didn't ring... Tapped... Unmuted... gave it back to her.

Now, the plan is, every time any of us sees it unattended on her desk, we're going to mute it, then wander past and see if we can catch her beating the crap out of her phone trying to unmute it.

We've planned an upgrade to this jolly jape... We're going to try and convince the next person who had this 'problem' that you can mute and unmute the iPhone by voice control - See if we can get them to re-enact the Scotty 'Invention of Transparent Aluminium' Scene from Star Trek: the Voyage Home.

Have a nice weekend kids, I'm going to be a bit busy myself... Whilst I'm on the subject - I don't suppose any of you have a radiator that'd fit a 2002 Citroen Xsara Picasso have you?

Thursday, 6 June 2013

But that's not what it's for though, is it?

Misuse - Another one of those words that gets thrown around with gay abandon nowadays.

I read recently that people now misuse rather than abuse 'substances' and drugs, I suppose that's a step in the right direction... I once got arrested for telling a wrap of amphetamines that it was fat and smelled funny - I was definitely abusing it rather than misusing it (I was also completely off my melon on Cocaine and walking naked through a public library, thinking about it, that might have been the root cause of my arrest).  It seems you can misuse Facebook even!  I thought that it was solely invented for looking up people you've not seen for twenty years and whispering 'Good Gods, you got ugly' to yourself... Seems not, that's frowned upon too and may attract the attention of the Police, or the Daily Mail.

You can misuse research, and tailor the results to support whatever crackpot theory you want to put forth.  You can misuse your disabled parking badge, presumably by... Erm... Parking somewhere... Erm... OK, maybe that was a bad example, I've no idea how you'd misuse a parking badge, maybe you'd beat a dog with it... I'm not sure - Anyway, disabled people wouldn't do something like that would they? They're all great.  To suggest otherwise would be disablist or something, probably cause an uproar too. (See Daily Mail, above)

But what I'm talking about misusing today is a part of your house, or my house at least.  It's a room, and it has a specific purpose.  A lot of rooms do you know.  The Living Room is where you live, The Bedroom is where you go to bed, The Bathroom is where you have a bath, some people have Utility Rooms for doing washing and stuff and some people even have rooms, inside their house, where they put their cars.

They're called Garages, and they are designed for the sole purpose of keeping the second most expensive, and first most stealable thing you will ever buy, safe from people who wear 'snap-back' hats and talk like stylised American gang members... Bruv, innit? an' t'ing.

Every house I've ever had, since leaving the home of my birth has had one, but to my knowledge I've never actually stored a car in one.  Bikes and Trikes, yes. Golf Clubs, certainly. Dogs whilst they 'Think about what they've done', indubitably.  But Cars, never.

I seem to remember trying once, it was so long ago that I've forgotten what the car was.  It wasn't a big car, not a Range-Rover or a 42 tonne articulated unit, probably an Escort or something like that.  I measured it, by the tried and trusted method of spreading my arms, squinting and thinking 'That'll go in there.' then cleared the floor of woodscrews and nails and Japanese soldiers who hadn't realised that the war was over.  I threw the tent onto the front lawn, pulled out my golf clubs, moved a tea chest of old Honda parts and my prized (at the time) 750/4 was reverently wheeled into a sunny spot where it could bask as it slowly soiled itself into the gutter.  I then had a cup of tea and a slightly dry Jaffa Cake, as was the style at the time.

Girding my loins, I seated my broad, British buttocks on the slightly faded velour and started the engine.  I crawled at a sedate pace through the up-and-over door (after lifting it up and over, obviously... I'm not a complete cretin.) and nursed the jalopy into the space provided.

It was only then that I realised that I couldn't open the driver's door due to the sturdy workbench I had constructed the Summer previously.  So I gave up in disgust and reversed back out.

Since that day I have used the garage as both a depository of randomness and a way of ending uncomfortable conversations with Mrs Dandy... Conversations that start with, 'Dandy, can you take 3" off the end of this bit of wood?' and end with 'I would love to, but the saw's in the garage.' - To which her reply would be a knowing nod and a wandering off in the other direction.

Here is a picture of the garage in question.

Ok, so a lot of it is taken up by the trike, although if you work out the amount of floorspace, it probably only takes up about a quarter. Then there's one of those American style fridge-freezers (because our kitchen isn't big enough to house it), and a tumble dryer and a workbench (Which I can't use because it's covered in boxes).  There're a couple of sets of Golf-clubs, a guitar, a sack-truck and Mrs Dandy's pushbike with the suspension and the really comfy seat.  The entire left-hand side is shelves full of crap - odd bits of Dolls-house furniture and those socket timers that you use to turn the lights on and off when you go on holiday to stop the snap-backs nicking your telly (Open note to housebreakers: We do not ever go on holiday, and even if we did, we have nothing worth stealing. What we to have is a large dog with sharp teeth, a crippling venereal disease and the sexual morals of an alley cat - So, like, don't breaking in or nuffink, OK?).  The cardboard boxes on the right-hand side... Well, the contents of those are anyone's guess.  They're probably stuff that we still haven't unpacked from when we moved in, over three years ago - I'm scared to look.

Every once in a while, I'm moved to give it a bit of a tidy up,  I decide to drag everything out onto the drive and only put back in stuff I really need.  The stuff I leave on the drive just 'disappearing' as soon as I close the door (No, really, it does... We live smack-bang in the middle of Pikey-Town).  But what usually happens is that I drag a couple of things out and then I find something that I've not seen for years, and I spend the rest of the day playing with it, and look all guilty when Mrs' Dandy comes in to say that dinner's ready and I'm sat there playing with a model of Concord that only has one wing and there's a cardboard box of cables outside on the drive, and it's raining.  I suddenly feel like an eight year old who's been told to tidy his room, and she walks out of the garage shaking her head.  I 'fly' the Concord back into the box where I found it, making quiet 'Neeeyowwww' noises ashamedly, so that she can't hear me.

I understand that people without the luxury of a solidly built garage have to use sheds instead.  That sounds perfectly awful to me.  I mean, how are you supposed to nurse a battle-damaged Concorde onto an imaginary airfield in a soggy cardboard box with the constant worry of a spider wandering up your trouser leg and building a silky fort in your gentleman's area - Makes my collies wobble just thinking about it.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Whaddya fink I am Ricky, some kind of double yolker?

Well, that weekend disappeared with a bit of a whoosh didn't it? If I had hair, it would still quite literally be blowing in the wind of the rapidly receding Sunday night.

Had a nice barbeque, drank some beer, spent an amount of quality time with the family, enjoyed the sun.

All in all, a decent couple of days was had by all, culminating in a selection of real ales in the pub last night with a select few friends and the conversation, as it so often does, turned to having parts of your body chopped off at random.

I didn't start it, there was something about a cow-race and a darts match between people with Special Olympics levels of missing fingers. So I pulled out a story about my maternal Grandfather, which I then realised I hadn't told you.

So sit back, relax, turn the big dial on the front of your Speedos to 'Smug' and listen to a few tales of my Grandad... Frank 'The Butcher'.

Now let's get a few things straight first.  He wasn't an East End Gangster - Although some of the stories might make you think otherwise.  He was a great bloke, and could make anatomically correct, highly polished, farm animals out of pipe-cleaners, cotton wool and glue.  He really was a butcher/Slaughterman and had his own shop in what was the Open Market in Derby (Now, oddly, the Magistrate's Court).


So, the story that started this all off in the first place.

A woman came into the shop one day and asked for a half-dozen lamb chops, and he replied 'I'm sorry madam, but this is a chemist'... Actually, no he didn't, I just added that for a little light relief.  He actually said, 'I haven't got any ready, I'll have to make you some.'  So, he wandered to the store and got out a side of lamb, plonked it on the block and cut off all the bits that weren't the rack (of ribs).

At this point, when he was telling this story, he would hold his hand up and do a sort of Vulcan salute and say 'Now you have to remember, lamb ribs are about as thick as your thumb' - So bear that in mind, it comes in handy in a moment.

He had a system, where he would lay his hand, flat on the lamb's ribs, measure out a rib with his thumb, move his hand, and bring the cleaver down.  Measure, move, chop, measure, move, chop.

You can see where this is going, right?

So, he was halfway down the rack and the customer made a comment about how surprisingly temperate it was for the time of year or how she's just paid a shiny tuppence for a Marcel Wave, which broke his concentration for a second.

His next cycle went: Measure, move, chop, measure, chop, move, OhMyGodWhereDidAllThatBloodComeFrom, IsThatMyThumb?I'veCutMyThumbOffArrgh!

He packed it in ice, and got taken to the hospital, where they sewed it back on, although as this was the late forties, he never got much of the use of it back.

Cool scar though, a white ring, all the way around his thumb - He used to wave it at me, his 'Frank-enstein' thumb.


Those of you who have ever been an apprentice, or have been the newbie (as I believe that it's termed now) may have been the butt of one of the many traditional 'pranks' in the workplace.  Generations of people have been sent out to get some tartan paint, or a new bubble for a spirit level, or my own personal favourite - One that I have suffered myself, being told to go to the stores for 'a long weight'... Whereby I mooched around for an hour and a half, being sniggered at, before realising that it was, in fact, 'a long wait.'

Anywho, it seems that the wonderful world of butchery has its own traditions.  One of which is the legend of the 'Electric Fat', which went a little something like this.

It is said, that very occasionally, a cow can build up a static electrical charge in its suet (The hard fat that collects around the loin) by constantly rubbing up against the other cows in the pen, in the manner of rubbing a balloon against your jumper. With the hilarious consequence of making your hair stand on end when you touched it.  If you found a cow with Electric Fat, it showed you were a real butcher, you would be bought a pint, and back-slapping would ensue.

So, one day, Grandad Frank's apprentice was asked to check some cow carcasses that had just been skinned.  He gave them a once-over for any obvious blemishes etc, or bits that needed trimming off and pronounced them fine.

'Hey,' Called Frank, whilst attracting the attention of the rest of the gang, 'Have you checked them for Electric Fat?'

'No,' replied the apprentice, 'How do I do that?'

So, Frank showed him how you firmly grasped the carcass, one hand either side of its 'waist' (They were hanging up), and explained that if the fat was, indeed, electric, then he'd get a mild static shock.

He grasped the first one - expecting a shock, nothing, the second, nothing, as he grabbed the third one, Frank touched an electric cattleprod to the carcass.  Seemingly, the jolt knocked the poor apprentice onto his backside, but as promised, it did make his hair stand on end.


As Frank was a registered slaughterman, he often used to be called upon by local vets to 'Deal with' large farm animals that were in pain or had become unmanageable and were therefore a threat to their owners, and anyone else stupid enough to try and share a field with them. Dealing with them mostly involved them being introduced to a significant amount of lead shot at fairly short range, accompanied by a loud bang.

In the early 40's, he went to a local farm to deal with a bull, which had become... upset... And needed to join its ancestors in the big rolling field in the sky.  He met with the vet who said that he'd considered administering a lethal injection, but that idea was discarded when it was plain the animal in question had, as the vet put it, 'Gone completely bloody loopy,' and the chances of him getting in the field with it to administer it was the same as 'a snowball's chance in hell.'

So Frank took aim at the bull, who at the time was doing a seemingly excellent spinney-roundey rodeo impression, and squeezed off a shell, which hit the bull amidships and had no effect.

Well, I say it had no effect... That might not be strictly true.  As the bull had previously been as mad as a binliner full of camels, it was now all that and in pain too.  So it turned and ran straight at its attacker (And the rapidly defecating vet).

'Shoot it!' Shouted the vet, hiding behind Frank, who was making sure that the butt of the shotgun was pressed deep into his shoulder.

'Shoot it! Shoooot it!' Repeated the vet, only with slightly more urgency, as the bull closed on their position, showing no signs of stopping at the fence.

'Wait.' Said Frank, calmly.  The vet was now so worried that he had run out of his own pants to wet, and was having a go at wetting Frank's.

'ShootItShootItShootItShootItShootIt!' Urged the vet, as the bull was now close enough to be able to smell his fear... In fact, a lot of people in the surrounding area could smell his fear, for a number of days afterwards.

Just before the bull reached the fence, Frank shot it right between the eyes. and it dropped like a stone.  His recollection of the incident was so crisp that he claimed to be able to remember seeing both its ears spiralling off in slow motion in different directions.

Weeks later, he had a visit of a 'Man From The Ministry', threatening him with all sorts of awful things because the leather from that particular herd had been earmarked to make parachute harnesses, and a brave British Soldier might now not be able to jump out of an aeroplane and single handedly win the war against Jerry because that bull had been shot rather than having a lethal injection administered.

Frank referred him to the world's bravest veterinary surgeon, and advised that if he didn't leave the shop toute-suite, he'd gut him like a fish.


And on a more horrific note, remember that story about my Dear Old Mother (When she was still alive) trying to snap my fragile mind by levering her false eye out all over the place?  Well, that wasn't the first completely mental thing she'd ever done.  It seems that she started early.

Frank used to get his meat from a multitude of sources.  One of these included gentlemen who would occasionally drop around the back of the shop with a shotgun and a bag of rabbits, or pheasants.  As these were not covered by 'rationing', he could do a roaring trade in them so he paid a premium, which in turn meant that he got a lot of them sometimes.

My Mum, who was but a young slip of a girl at the time, used to play with the dead bunnies (Wait for it, we haven't got to the shock reveal yet).  And would dress them up in pretty dolls clothes and take them for walks in a big, old, White-Cross pram.  Now, the people of the Market were used to seeing her with her bunnies and gave her a cheery wave as she strolled past, but customers were often 'Taken aback' when they went to stroke the cute little bunnies and found them to be stone cold and very, very, dead.

(Those of you of a fragile disposition, turn away now)

Some were even more... Erm... I hesitate to use the words 'Freaked Out' because it wasn't in use at the time, and I'm a stickler for authenticity, but it will have to do.  When one accidentally saw her changing their clothes and started to scream uncontrollably.

Because they had been skinned, and the only parts of their fragile little bodies that still had fur on, were their heads and their paws.

And yes, she'd skinned them herself.

Explains a lot about me, right?