Friday, April 30, 2010

It's all about me me me...

Today I have been mostly doing nothing, mainly because it has been tipping it down. I briefly shouted when Mr Jeremy Vine of the Wireless had that turd Griffin on. I was mildly pleased when the Jezza read out the final text that had been sent as I had been musing on the self-same thing myself: if you're so worried about immigration, why do you live in Wales? He really is such a profound knob.

Anyhow, this afternoon I pondered the meaning of the word "meme" as it appears to be enjoying a resurgence, largely due to the various tantrums of one the above-mentioned knob's heroes. I can't say I was even aware of its existence before the internet, when it became the label attached to those onerous "20 things you didn't really want to know about me but I'm going to bloody well tell you anyway" things that throw up every now and again. Intrigued, I did some research only to find that, apparently, it was actually me, albeit with a spelling mistake, who coined the phrase in the first place - only for that self-important lover-of-his-own-voice, Dawkins, to come along and thieve it. You live and learn.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Election script briefly torn up, PM runs off with ball shock...

How much more of this village am-dram society crap can we take? It wasn't that he called her a bigot; it wasn't that he was caught expressing his private thoughts "on air". It was this that made me start talking to myself dementedly while making lunch and giving Yvonne, my next door neighbour, some cast-iron reasons for complaining to the housing: "That was a disaster - they should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? It's just ridiculous...".

"They..." "...put me with..." Since when have I been living in Libya or Zimbabwe or Iran, you knob? Even John Major, the biggest wimp of a PM we've had since Chamberlain, wasn't afraid to get on the stump and answer unscripted questions from anyone who happened to be passing, oh yes. FFS, "The Thick of It" is meant to be a satire, not a documentary. Tell me one good reason why anyone with a modicum of intelligence should be taken in by anyone who actually WANTS to be a politician. The absolute worse thing is, we vote this clown out and (to borrow from Private Eye this morning) we'll end up with 2 for the price of 1. And some of us want to live in a republic and get another layer of this crap foist upon us every 5 years!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Crewe Hoard

Last Sunday I felt industrious and, as the weather was fairly good, I decided to garden. Along with almost everyone else in South Cheshire I had that morning visited the local boot market in Shavington and come away with a tomato plant and a souvenir programme from the Richard Seaman memorial vintage racing car meeting held at Oulton Park in July 1969. This is what poor men do. Faced with the choice between spending your last remaining couple of quid on something with at least some kind of practical use or calorific value and the complete opposite, we opt for the thing that will now lay at the bottom of the junk drawer* for the next 20 years. I decided to plant the tomato.

I chose my piece of ground carefully. It would receive plenty of sun and, being near the outflows from kitchen and bathroom, probably be warm enough to mitigate against any late frost. It was also directly beneath my kitchen and bathroom windows. I set to work with a mattock, breaking the old lawn and lifting the old turf. I intended to plant more than a single tomato vine in the coming weeks.

I pulled away a piece of turf from the blade and something glinted. In amongst the old cotton bud sticks and the ancient toothpaste tube was something shiny. I grabbed the ball of mud and broke it apart and there it was, resplendent in the South Cheshire sun: GOLD! I took it inside and washed off the remaining soil. It was perfect, no corrosion and no damage from the years of cultivation undergone in the area. A cursory inspection revealed the lack of a hallmark, possibly indicating a great age. I even thought I recognised the style as that of the late Tudor, Elizabethan, perhaps by the great court jeweller, Duke or his student, Robert Goss. Thoughts started running through my head: treasure trove! What would I do with the money? Would the British Museum be interested? I immediately told my friends and family; I'd see them right, this was my lucky break at last.

The next morning I sauntered into town, my step definitely jauntier than of late. Where would I go for a valuation? Crewe is largely bereft of major auction houses although there are several outlets promising a fast cash return should one find oneself on hard times and require to dispose of the odd heirloom or two. There was even an oriental gentleman sitting outside Wilkinson's last week amongst a pile of small white envelopes and a set of scales offering a similar service, no questions asked. "Crewe Jewellers. And Pawn Brokers". Ah, this looks the place.

"Good lady." I began

"Yes, love?"

"While ploughing on the estate one of my men has unearthed this object," I continued, passing her the treasure. "I think it may be of some value." I volunteered in a whisper, so as not to rouse the curiosity of the other customers milling about the premises.

She took it from me, examined it closely and placed it in the scales.

"Silver. Plated. 95p."

"Arse. Kthnxbi."

*of which I now have three.

Friday, April 16, 2010

In which I refuse to join the mass debate.

Funny, I thought there was an election on. Apparently not if, like me, you don't have a television, listen to Radio 4 or can afford an unbiased newspaper. I exclude the interwebs from this list of media as it's a research tool; as yet, the computers in the library do not canvass me involuntarily, I have to really want to search election information out and you only get an hour for free. As yet, I have not had a single piece of election communication. Nobody cares about me.

A week in and I know two of my local candidates: the sitting Tory, who is exceedingly personable and polite and very visible around town. He won a by-election two years ago in the full glare of the national media and took over the seat from an old-labour national treasure. He's a good and, so far, efficient constituency MP who has shared a platform fighting with the unions to try and keep the local sorting office open. Unfortunately he's a Tory. The Labour candidate is only known to me because I can't resist baiting him on one of the local blogs, taunting him for belonging to a party that has apparently forgotten the meaning of socialism and social welfare. He'll turn up for the opening of a door if he can get his picture in the paper. There is a LibDem candidate but I don't know who he or she is, which kind of fits in with the LibDem ethos.

As for the rest, I don't know. Have we got a Nazi? According to my friend Jules who runs the aforementioned local blog and knows everything and everyone in town, no. Which is a shame because at least I would have someone to shout at or wave the thick piece of wood at that I keep behind the door especially for such an event. I find this strange because we have a Nazi Euro MP. Maybe if the local Poles were black it would be different. Perhaps we've got one of Mr. Farage's Nazi lites; I wouldn't know. As for the hippy tree-huggers and pot-hole campaigners, not a clue.

Yes, I am being deliberately difficult. I'm intelligent enough to find out this for myself. I know the idealogical differences between the big parties and the main talking points. But there are many who don't and don't have the ability to access the information. This, so far, is a non-election being fought by the most inept, faceless and characterless set of politicians I can remember and it is the first one in which I am considering spoiling my ballot. At least then nobody will get my vote.

Coda: Since I posted this I have a) bought The Independent. Apparently Mr. Clegg is now the prime minister and b) about 20 minutes ago, crossed a busy road, dodging a couple of swiftly running blokes as they rounded a blind corner in a hurry. I looked up to see that I had narrowly avoided being knocked over by our incumbent MP. I turned to hail him but hey, I couldn't be bothered.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On being rude in ASDA

Today I got to stick it to the man. Well, not quite THE Man as such but an employee (sorry, that should be "colleague". Yes, that's what they're called) of ASDA and as they're owned by Wal-Mart, it's much the same.

I was using the self-serve tills to buy my paper but watching a supervisor a few feet away offer the benefit of her experience to a very young girl, obviously very new to the job. "You're working for ASDA now so I don't want to see you doing that (she mimed leaning on her elbows on a shelf)." It wasn't a bawling out but it was still quite strident and very obviously in full ear-shot of the public and the two other trainees she was with. The girl turned away and was quite visibly upset but stoically bottling her urge to weep. I felt for her. The supervisor wandered off and I hurriedly paid for my goods. I'm sorry, Lady, you don't get away with that! I'm not a vegetarian and an ounce of free flesh was in the offing.

Instead of leaving, I turned and followed her up the store and watched until she was with two regular employees then made my move. Interrupting her conversation, I moved right into her comfort zone - I'm 15 stone and six foot in my shoes, she wasn't -and told her straight to her face in a calm but clearly concerned and very audible voice:

"I was watching you and heard you just now. Next time you need to tell someone off, doing it in front of the customers and their workmates is just about the worst thing you could do. Do it in private and offer advice, not personal rebuke. That young girl will never live that down."

"Yes. Of course. Thanks. You ARE right. They're placements..."

"Doesn't matter who they are, it's the number one rule of keeping them on your side - you don't do it in full view of everyone. Nobody likes being humiliated for something trivial."

"Yes, thank you. I see your point."

I remain calm and security don't need to be called this time. I have made my point and rubbed her nose in it in front of her peers. Disturbingly, she maintains a smiling countenance throughout and doesn't appear outwardly phased, although her eyes give me the reassurance I'd hit the bull. One of her colleagues makes his excuses and walks away, no doubt embellishing the story with every departing step.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Number Crunching

In true Private Eye stylee:

Cost of now discontinued annual grant to the Manchester Camerata from Cheshire East Council so they could bring classical music to South Cheshire, concerts that regularly attracted audiences of 600 to Crewe Lyceum and will no longer be happening because they can't afford to come: £7,300

Cost of Cheshire East's stall at last year's Tory party conference: £16,000

Go work that one out.

Monday, April 05, 2010

I might have this wrong but...

While I think that not using your motor car is generally a good thing in that while I don't fully subscribe to the notion that it's wholly our fault Norwich will be underwater in a few years, it's not a bad idea to err on the side of caution just in case, I do think the oil companies and our most recent government have lost the plot somewhat. A tipping point between necessity and financial expediency has surely been reached.

I very rarely use my car. I walk into town most days and to a friend's house, where this computer is. I might use it if I'm in a hurry or combining a couple of journeys or errands but I do try and leave it in the drive to get shat on by the birds sitting in next door's tree. I try and save up my mileage for special events or for when the weather's decent and a trip out (invariably, ironically, to go for a walk). As a result I only do around 2,500 miles a year with the bulk of that mileage being over half a dozen longer trips up and down country.

I'm still unemployed so don't have a lot of cash to splash about and with petrol now costing 120p a litre those longer journeys will now be rather less frequent. I just can't afford them. And there's the problem; I still have to do the shorter ones, the ones where there's little alternative other than the car and short journeys are more polluting regardless of the quality of your car. Cars like to warm up and run best in high gears at low revs. And because I no longer drive efficiently, my average mileage has dropped from approximately 12 per litre to around 6. Whereas, out of every £20 pumped into my tank £15 may previously have been used efficiently, I reckon that in my case at least that figure will drop to around £2. Stupid. Or is it?

Of course, I truly do believe that it it is what the government wanted; we all leave our cars at home and use our still woefully inadequate public transport system instead in the name of saving the planet and not that everyone on a tight budget is now using more fuel to travel fewer miles and thereby pay off the budget deficit a bit quicker than predicted through an increased tax-take from both drivers and oilcos. As has happened. Of course not, I couldn't possibly be that cynical.

My only crumb of comfort is that 10 years of my working life were spent "totally" in thrall to a huge multi-national oil company and their shameless profiteering should ensure my pension fund will now be so fat I'll be laughing in my dotage. Ha. I got their latest statement this morning. Even they had to use investment bankers...