Proper car porn

Saturday saw myself and TLF driving around the area of Greenwich and Lewisham. Specifically along the Lee High Road, that just about happens to make up part of the main road out of London towards Dover.

And as we were driving along said road, I noticed a very nice Ferrari with many sponsorship logos. Which wasn’t particularly out of the ordinary. But then there was another, and another, and a Porsche, and a Lambo, and a brace of Aston Martins, and a hideous USian pick-up truck.

Which can only mean one thing: it’s Gumball time. And jealously time in my case. So many pretty cars, and none of them mine…

Aw damn it. I forgot

I’m generally not one for terribly worthy causes and their respective days. Earth Day sees me kicking trees and using that little bit more accelerator than is strictly necessary. No Smoking Day sees me tempted to light up a cigarette, despite the fact that I’ve never smoked. Turn-Your-Lights-Off-To-Save-Gaia day sees my house lit up like Christmas tree.

So it was with a heavy heart that I discovered that this week is Walk to Work week. I already do walk to work, where possible I walk from work to meetings and between workplaces. In the eight months I’ve lived here I think that I’ve driven to work a dozen times and taken the bus half that.

So how do I register my non-compliance with this weeks theme? I know – by not walking a step more than is necessary. None of the usual detours over the Heath or to Tesco; no gentle meanders through the more picturesque streets. Just a straight slog from the flat to the desk, and make it abundantly clear that I’m only doing it because I normally do, not because it’s a fad to.

That should show my lack of support quite clearly. Hurrah.

How to diffuse a situation

As long as I remember, politicians and media organisations have been sending people in chicken costumes to embarrass their opponents. It happened in the Thatcher years, it happened in most elections since. Hell, it even happened in the West Wing. But I’ve not actually seen anyone properly counter the tactic, not even in the carefully scripted Sorkin show.

Until last evening, when this happened.

Mr Cameron came face to face with the bird – sent by a national newspaper which claims the Tory leader has failed to answer its questions on the peer Lord Ashcroft.

But Mr Cameron appeared to be expecting the confrontation, and gave the chicken a hug, before removing its head to ask him face to face and asking him what question he wanted to ask.

Heh.

I used to read the Mirror most days, but I hadn’t really read it in many years. Random circumstances in the last couple of weeks have had me read the rag a couple of times, and I have to say that I’m quite surprised how pathetically they’re toeing the Brownite line. So seeing this little bird of theirs come a cropper was mighty entertaining.

Be aware, be afraid

Girlie magazines are something of a strange thing for me. Lads-mags (yer FHM, Loaded, etc) are really seen as a young mans game, read by kids on school buses, students in pubs and younger workers in the rep-mobile or the white van. Girlie mags (Cosmo, etc) are seemingly more respectable. And I don’t see why; they contain the same made up stories, the same exaggerated tales of sexual adventures, the same dodgy jokes and the same allegedly tasteful pictures of scantily lad people1.

And they both have a certain derogatory attitude towards the opposite sex. In the case of FHM, it’s the classic “out of the mouth of babes” feature; the female equivalents have similar sections.

Where the women run away with it, though, is the fear factor. As evidenced by the lovely little gem in the bottom left of this page:

Do you know what’s on his camera phone? YOU SHOULD! says the magazine. And then it goes on to say that women should be sure what’s on their partners phones, just in case said partner is a rapist or an accessory after the fact of rape. Yes, the magazine is encouraging its readers to presume guilt and check up on the men around them. And that really pisses me off. It’s journalism that the Daily Mail would be ashamed of.

And yet, these magazines are taken more seriously than FHM. For why?

1 – For the record, I must point out that the official blog policy of IDQCT is pro-female nudity.

Hurrah

Contrary to the predictions of Ms Moser, I didn’t break the habit of a lifetime. I didn’t decide that chocolate wasn’t the way for me.

I managed the length of Lent without a bit of chocolate crossing my lips, but since the end of it I am back to being the bitch of the cocoa bean. I have devoured half a dozen crème eggs, one large white Lindt rabbit, several doses of chocolated ice-cream and more than my fair share of chocolate eggs. A box of Maltesers disappeared in a very short period of time. And all of those were gooooooooood.

But they all paled in comparison to the thing I’d missed most; the single item that I’d thought about the most. The KitKat Chunky Caramel. And when I got a hold of one of those, it was all that it could possibly be, and more.

The fatness is back. Hurrah.

Where did that come from

TLF walks down a fairly major road in central London on her way to work on the morning; one among many thousands walking from the rail terminus to the office buildings in the middle of the capital.

I, of course, could pick her out of these hordes. But I’m not sure that most people would; she tends to keep her head down on these walks. But the other day, someone did pick her out of the crown. Of maybe five hundred people on that stretch of pavement, they headed straight for her and thrust a flyer into her hand. They’d clearly decided that she, out of everyone there, was the target audience for their product.

Their product being, er, random sex parties.

This causes concern. What are people up in the capital seeing as my beautiful lady walks by, eh?

Fun ways to spend a day

Last weekend found TLF and I attending something called a pre-marriage course. Something that apparently increases the chances of a long and happy marriage1. And it was alright, nowhere near as bad as initially feared.

Hell, they even communicated by emoticon.

click to embiggen

Of course, what with TLF being the woman she is, and me being the five year old child I am, most of the rest of the day was spent communicating by trying to get the faces just so, as per the sheet above.

Most were easy, but I’m afraid that I was arrested for racism while attempting ‘meditative’.

And that’s most of what I remember from the day2. Seems that we didn’t approach it in the proper fashion…


1 – Am I the only one who thinks that there’s a certain post hoc explanation for this? Nope? OK then…

2 – TLF would like it to be known that the day cost £60 and that they didn’t even give us lunch. The emotion you’re looking for is to be found third one down on the very left.

A most unfortunate series of events

To begin with: I did a decent thing, and cooked for TLF and I. Nothing too strange about that, happens a lot of the time. However, this time round it was merely the first in a sequence of steps that resulted in a lot of our evening being spent enjoying the sights and sounds of Lewisham’s Accident & Emergency department.

The dinner was nothing special; a little chicken kiev with some new potatoes and a bit of salad on the side. However, as TLF had just set her plate down to put some salt on it, I made the grave error of offering her a few more potatoes. Hideous crime, as I’m sure you’ll agree, for while I advanced towards her with a ladle of said delicious tubers, she took a step back and this resulted in her entire plate falling edge on onto her big toe.

The next stage cannot be repeated here, but rest assured, the Not Happy dance was done, and pain was experienced. A diligent observer may even have noticed some sobbing, and not just from me.

Enter, stage left, the NHS Direct service. Staffed by clinicians and experts with much training, their official opinion was “oh, the computer is saying that you should go to A&E”. Which, to be fair, a trained monkey could have told us. Way to spend millions of quid on a service.

Hence: A&E. Wherein your protagonist and TLF got to move a couple of time in the waiting room (because of a guy with the DTs and a wandering hand), discuss plans for St Paddy’s day with a harmless drunk named Colin (who had a most excellent smell), get seen by a triage nurse (who looked at it, went “oh” and sent us on our way to something called the Primary Care Suite), get seen by an actual baby doctor called Sue who talked of all the pretty colours that a bruise goes, and get an X-ray to rule out a compression fracture. Oh, and then a bandage administered by a slightly sadistic nurse, a compression fracture caused to my hand by excessive squeezing, and advice regarding pain control.

All in, a fun night. For your entertainment needs, I heartily recommend Lewisham A&E: does exactly what it says on the tin. Just very slowly.

I’m talkin’ about new temptations

Over the last few years, I rediscovered the idea of going off things for Lent. I got bored of the idea back in school, when going off something you liked was pretty much enforced. But nowadays I tend to go off something that I know I really over indulge in; for the last couple of years I’ve stopped caffeine, which was bloody hard work. This year, I’ve decided to cut out the chocolate for a few weeks.

This is something of a struggle for me. I like chocolate; I have me a lot of it. When I go shopping there’ll normally be a couple of chocolate bars there in the basket; when there are three Crème Eggs in front of me, it’ll only be about 90 seconds until there are none; when there is a box of Quality Street nearby then I can’t help myself. People rarely would go out of their way to offer me any chocolate (at least, not twice; I’ll normally have taken their hand off at the first offering), but I’ll find some and get rid of it anyway. So, I thought, I’ll stop it for a little while and then see how it goes.

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t think that it should be easy for me.

  • Wednesday – First day off chocolate; someone at work buys me a KitKat despite me expressly telling them not to. It is passed on to other people.
  • Thursday – Day 2; a big ol’ box of chocolate appears in the middle of the table at a meeting. It is studiously ignored.
  • Friday - Boss comes back from holiday and comes bearing foreign chocolates for all. I have to leave the room.
  • Saturday - A trip to the family of TLF, who proffer much in the way of chocolatey goodness. A box is taken, and stored in the kitchen cupboard for later.
  • Sunday - A nice walk through areas of SE London near to the house; in a random Tesco, TLF absent-mindedly picks up two Crème Eggs, one for me and one for her. TLF ended up having two.
  • Monday - A patient at work brings in some Eclairs for all to share. They are passed on to others who nearly fell over at the sight of me not taking part.
  • Tuesday - The first day when the world didn’t offer me chocolate on a silver platter.

And now we’re a full week in. And I’m getting bored of it. How long do you think I’ll last?

Also, it’s interesting how different it is to be in London and explain to people that you’re going off something for Lent. People look at you rather weirdly.

What a way to wake up…

Scene: late one Sunday evening. Your humble narrator is in bed, at the point of falling asleep in preparation for another week of fun at work.

In the darkness, a screen lights up, and a mobile phone rings.

*ring* *ring*
Humble narrator: Hello?
Voice on phone Hello, is that Mr Hillan?
Hn:Er, yes. Who is this?
VoPThis is Constable Bob, off of the PSNI.

At this point, the usual strange thoughts run through my head: who would put me down as an ICE, and who of them is in Norn Iron at the moment? Why would a cop ring me at this time? After that, I silently accept that the likelihood of me getting any sleep is quite low…

Hn:OK, why are you ringing me at this time of night?
VoPAre you the keyholder for property at xxxxxxx, belonging to xxxxxxx?
Hn:I was, but I moved out of Belfast about six months ago so they were supposed to take me off the list. Suppose they had other things on their minds.
VoPOK, it’s just that the alarm is going off, the primary keyholder isn’t about and the secondary keyholder has forgotten the alarm code.

A-ha! A simple one. Solved with a phone call to a place where the local time is 2am and an alarm code is sourced. And then a nice, fitful sleep, brought on by the nervous energy that only a late night phone call from law enforcement can inspire…

In related news, I’m feeling a little bit shattered this morning.

Something doesn’t fit

Do you ever read a news story and think: there’s either a big chunk missing here, or it just doesn’t add up.

Such was my reaction on reading about Met commander Ali Dizaei, who’s just been sent to jail for corruption.

Mr Dizaei has been in the news for a long time; he’s be vocal in his belief that the Met is very difficult for non-whites to reach high rank in, and he’s a talking head about a lot of other things. He’s also been in the dock for corruption and abuse of public office. In short, the only thing that has attracted more publicity than himself is the faint whiff of impropriety that has surrounded him for years.

So, what doesn’t add up is: if there’s so much doubt over his attitude, how did he get into this position?

I see a few choices:

  • He’s actually a brilliant cop, and has reached the higher ranks through hard work and skill. However, his publicity seeking ways and his vocal condemnation of the force is embarrassing, and there’s been a campaign from within to rid the MPS of him.
  • He’s an alright cop, but because of his public voicing of allegations of racism, nobody has had the balls to stop his rise within the organisation. So he hasn’t earned it, he’s just kept rising because the first person to deny a promotion will end up in court accused of racial discrimination.
  • He’s been a fairly decent cop, but character flaws and a propensity toward big-man-ism has been uncovered as he reached the ranks where he could do most damage. In short, he’s been Peter principled.

Which do you think is the most likely?

The sniper motto says nothing about that

An email did the rounds some years ago about the types of motto that snipers gave to their brethren. One that stuck in my mind was Reach out and touch someone, another was Don’t run, you’ll only die tired. All a little bit dark, when you think about it, but then so is the work of a sniper.

Looking back, I can’t remember all the lines in that email. But I’m sure that “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” wasn’t part of it.

I’m not particularly a fan of knowing the bible cover to cover, and I’m less than a fan of the trotting out of biblical verse in everyday life. Sniping isn’t exactly everyday life, but I fail to see how someone thought that putting references to such verse on the weapons of soldiers (without their consent or knowledge) was a good idea. It makes the troops look like their crusaders, and that can’t end well if they’re captured with such material on them.

All round, a silly idea. Better just to have inscribed reach out and touch…., I think.

Random and damn odd. But it worked, mostly.

Last evening, TLF and I, and some others, went to see one of the random BBC Electric Proms performances. Don’t worry, I took the opportunity to point out that it was silly that the BBC were doing such things, and that they shouldn’t be involved etc etc etc, but since one of the characters involved in the singing was a mate, I thought i should go anyway.

And it was surprisingly good. Better when the Choir stopped being treated as a sideline to a full Doves gig and started being properly involved, because surely the randomness of having 40 Bulgarians doing odd things to the song was the whole point. The random dude on the sitar was also worth seeing. Magazine, less so.

Plus, on the bonus front, at one point yer man Jarvis Cocker (still bearing an uncanny resemblance) was hanging about eighteen inches from us. Which was nice, although he left before one of the girls had an opportunity to pimp out their friends to him.

And now, I’m heading off to St Pancras (again), this time for a tour of bits of Belgium that have recently featured in some comedy dwarf filmage. Should be fun.

from the inbox

Wish me luck…

Good times, good times…

175 years ago, the Palace of Westminster burnt to the ground. To the rapturous applause of everyone.

Today, if the same was to happen, I imagine that much the same applause would happen. Although we’d all be kept back behind a secure perimeter by many large men with many large guns. Some things do change; luckily the unpopularity of politicians does not.

Something that has never sat well with me, over the years, has been the attitude of the UK to its Parliament. Nowadays, most people would be exceptionally happy to see the institution destroyed, although the building is a masterpiece that many would mourn. Back in 1834, it’s obvious that many people were happy to see said institution fall to the ground as ash. But still, every year, the country spends time celebrating the failure of an attempt to actually make it fall. Why? Surely young Guy should be venerated, not vilified? Does not compute.

Also: it’s a shame that they replaced the old ramshackle building with the “new”masterpiece. Not because I don’t like the building, but if you put a bunch of politicians in a shit building, they’ll spend time trying to improve it – distracting them from screwing with the rest of us. But if you put them in a fantastic building, then they’ll spend all their energies trying to remain there, and that requires almost constant screwing with the populace. and we’ve seen the effects of that in the century or so that they’ve been in the Pugin masterpiece.

Really, I think that Westminster should be converted into something more useful (a museum, perhaps), while the politicians are put into portacabins in some brownfield site. Should buy us a few decades of lesser interference from them, methinks…

Well, maybe not personally

There’s a wonderfully scary quote widely attributed to Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin:

The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic

I don’t imagine that there is much point claiming that young Iosif wasn’t responsible for the deaths of millions. Between carrying out actions that lead to WW2, to the gulags, to the purges, to the man mad famines, to the construction of the Iron Curtain, the general feeling is that anywhere between low millions and scores of millions. Some have mentioned 800,000 people being directly executed during his thirty years in power.

So that’s a lot of death, and definitely more on the statistic side, rather than the personal tragedy side of history.

So this story really confuses me.

A Moscow court has rejected a lawsuit filed by the grandson of Joseph Stalin claiming a Russian newspaper had defamed the Soviet dictator.

Yevgeny Dzhugashvili said an article published in Novaya Gazeta claiming Stalin personally ordered the deaths of Soviet citizens was a lie.

He had requested a public apology and damages from the opposition newspaper.

In all honesty, can you defame Stalin? One of the most despicable examples of a man in the history of the world? What could you possibly say that would be worse than the truth? And why the hell would anyone ever admit to being related to a creature like that?

That just ain’t right

The news that dwarfs in China have opened their own theme park isn’t sitting well in my head.

That’s largely because most of me is conflicted, torn between four different threads of thought.

  1. It’s nice that there is enough freedom for them to decide to settle into their own town of like-sized people and just get on with it.
  2. It’s also nice that they’re able to then freely decide to run said town as a money making exercise and charge entry for the people who want to see a freakshow.
  3. Hang on, it’s motherfucking China. It isn’t free. So who’s behind this, then?
  4. It’s oh so very wrong, but I think it would be bloody funny to go and see said place. Hell, even the firemen and policemen are dwarfs. How cool would that look?

Yes, I’m going to hell. I knew this a long time ago…

Hurrah for demented politicians

The fun and games at the Labour conference have been providing me with endless amusement recently. The detachment from reality, the slight mentalness of the lead speakers, the focus on silly things that are not really any use to anyone. All on the deck of the RMS SinkingLikeALumpOfLead.

Thank you, Governments of Blair and Brown. You’ve been shit, economically cackhanded, selfish, racist, corrupt, bullying, and all round wrong on pretty much everything. You will have left the country in an immeasurably worse position than it was in 1997.

But, at the end, you’re bloody funny. Even if I don’t think you mean to be…

Plural of anecdote now equals data

Most people have the odd drinking story, of wounds that would have killed the teller if they had been sober. A fall that would have broken a leg if you’d had enough with to try and stop yourself; a case of food poisoning that was only survived because the feed of beer had caused enough vomiting to purge it all; a drinking game that so nearly ended up with a life sentence until everyone got away by some drunken master plan.

Drink, it seems, saves lives. And now it does it officially.

A dose of alcohol may be a good treatment for people with head injuries, emergency doctors suggest.

Their basis for this is the discovery that people appear less likely to die following brain trauma if they have alcohol in their bloodstream.

Hurrah! We shall soon end up with hospital doctors ordering 100cc of vodka, stat in the ER.

Today is a great day, methinks…

That never actually occured

Sometimes some things are too obvious to be noticed. Back in the days of Witness, it took me ages to notice the nness at the end of everything and make the connection that Guinness may have something to do with the sponsorship.

Similarly, for most of my life I lived in Randalstown, and I didn’t actually make the connection that Moneynick Road could be used as a cheap pun by lazy journalists. Luckily, the BBC is here to help.

Police are looking for thieves who stole money from an ATM in an unfortunately ironic location – the Moneynick Road.

Incidentally, Moneynick is not named for once being a hotspot for those seeking an unlawful pecuniary advantage.

According to ulsterplacenames.org, Moneynick is the anglicisation of the Irish place name Muine Chnoic, which means ‘thicket of the hill’.

Well, now we know…

I hope so

Do you think that playing Tetris makes you smarter? I’d like to say so, but I fear that it’s not actually the case.

But while Tetris continues to win over new legions of entry-level computer gamers, it’s also been drawing the interest of brain scientists. Some even suggest the game may actually be good for the health of the mind if not the body.

But the apparent benefits of Tetris or other such games only go so far. What scientists have so far failed to find out is whether the new mental powers learnt from playing Tetris can help with anything other than… playing Tetris.

If playing Tetris (or Solitaire, or Sudoku for that matter) actually made you smarter, then I’m fairly sure that I’d be a contender for Mensa. But since I’m not, they must be somewhat unconnected to any gain in brains.

And I didn’t even need to play the game for more than half an hour to come to that conclusion…