Monday, 30 November 2009

The Rake's Progress

Have you ever tried to get ‘BT’ and ‘exemplary service’ in the same sentence?
There you are, I’ve just managed it!
Sir Michael Rake, Chairman of BT has achieved it in the same village.
Whether his preferential shares entitle him to preferential treatment, one can only guess. But whatever the reason, the service has been denied to all other villagers.
The excuse? Sir Michael is trialling broadband enabling technology (BET) at home.
I BET he is!
It might seem like stating the obvious to suggest that you need to be ‘well connected’ in order to obtain a decent broadband service, but I just wonder how many calls Sir Michael had to make to the sub-continent before the wheels of the BT monolith started turning.
The irony is, it seems that one of the most aggrieved parties in this whole tawdry affair is a company trading under the name of Abacus Recruitment. They, of all people, ought to have known that you can never ‘count’ on BT.
Meanwhile, all other villagers will need to content themselves in the local pub where they can happily 'down loads'!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Hardy or just foolhardy?

It is one of life’s great mysteries.
We have reached that time of the year when the temperature begins to drop. It’s called winter.
And yet I despair.
In downtown Dundee, there are still a few sleeveless T-shirt wearing boneheads wandering around as if it is high summer. And while they wander, I wonder.
Should I deride them for their asinine qualities or admire them for their ability to thole the cold?
Indeed, the temperature may have dropped, but how long will it take for the penny to finally drop?
Surprise, surprise, I have a theory.
Could it just be that by the time the message is relayed from their extremities to their brains that it is starting to get mild again?
Who knows? I daren’t ask!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Thumbs up to my dentist!

Last week I went to the dentist. I let him know that I had just started a blog and forewarned him that, if my experience was particularly unpleasant, I might just write about it.
Threatening your dentist before your treatment is probably not the most advisable tack to adopt.
All things considered, all went well.
This was partly due to some advice I had heeded about acupressure.
Apparently, the body has certain points that, when excess pressure is applied, pain can be deflected away from other sensitive areas. To deflect it from your teeth, for example, one should press very hard at the back of your thumbs.
Apart from two broken thumbs, I never felt a thing.

‘Current’ accounts?

This year the big banks went bust because of lack of liquidity. Meanwhile, the river banks burst because of too much liquidity.
On average then, all is well in Blighty.

Friday, 27 November 2009

How's this for a 'call'?

You’ve not caught me in a good mood.
I’ve just been on the phone to British Gas to register for the privilege of receiving accurate bills with their new Energy Smart initiative.
Privileged indeed!
But that is not what has set me off on this latest rant.
This one is about that phenomenon that plagues all our lives now and again or, in my case, again and again.
Call waiting.
How often do you phone up some faceless organisation and are exhorted to press a combination of numbers on your telephone keypad that makes the odds of winning the National Lottery seem like a near certainty?
Then, when you eventually arrive at your chosen destination, you have to endure some mind-numbing music that really tests your will to live.
But that’s not what really gets me.
Suddenly the music stops and we are then subjected to some pompous corporate message. “Did you know this and did you know that and did you know that British Gas have their heads so far up their own corporate ass that they can smell gas before anyone else?”
And it’s certainly not Nitrous Oxide because I don’t hear anyone laughing.
Let’s petition for a law whereby every company that keeps you waiting on their phones is legally bound to donate that dead time to rival companies to give them the opportunity to promote their own corporate message.
If nothing else, I suspect it would encourage all companies to process our calls a damn sight smarter than is the case at the moment.

The Jeremy Kyle Inquiry into the Iraq War

It all started with a fruitless search for the weapons of mass destruction.
The futile search is now on to find the truth.
The Sir John Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war has just begun but rather than waste yet more public money, I suggest that we draft in Jeremy Kyle.
After all, this was trumped up to be the Mother of all battles, so who better to find out the true identity of the father?
But before we carry out a DNA test to see if it was Tony or George…or both, let’s put them through a lie detector test.
Tony, did you at any time have sexual contact with the sexed up dossier that warned us that it could be all over in 45 minutes?
George, was this war simply the product of pent-up Pentagon frustration or did you deliberately set out to screw Iraq the way you subsequently screwed up the world economy?
We’ll be back with the results after this short hostilities.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


It’s one of my favourite analogies and, used in the correct context, can sum up a situation perfectly.
But I’ve come up with one of my own:

The hen may lay the egg but the oxen bear the yoke.

I just need to iron out the finer points regarding its meaning and then find some suitable context in which it can be used – other than on a blog!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Every Lidl helps

What is there in the psyche of Britain that we derive a certain pleasure from giving a good kicking to the most successful among us?
Take Tesco, for example.
They’re too big. They sell too much. They should stick to groceries. There are too many stores. They screw the suppliers. They shaft their customers.
If there is one area that Tesco have yet to monopolise, then that’s the business of envy.
There’s not a businessman worthy of the description who wouldn’t buy low, sell high and increase his margins wherever possible. And there’s not a customer who would want to return to the good old ‘daze’ when Spam was Sunday lunch rather than email and when dust was something you found on old tins of mushroom soup rather than the sweet sprinkling adorning freshly baked pastries from the in-store bakery.
We all owe Tesco a debt of gratitude because retailers everywhere have had to sharpen up their act lest they go the same way as Woolworths, MFI, Threshers, et al.
And before you even begin to accuse Tesco of stifling competition, take a look at how Lidl, for example, have carved out their own market quiche. Sorry, niche.
In such dull economic times, Tesco's star is still the brightest in the firmament.
But every Lidl helps.


Yes, but what did Europe ever do for us?

Directives. Red tape. Loss of national identity. Sooner or later, a single currency. Higher subscriptions. Fiscal control. Lack of accountability. Lack of accounts ability. A single language? The list goes on.
We're in Europe and we're in it deep.
But what did Europe ever do for us?
They took Neil Kinnock.
Will we ever be able to repay them?

I am intelligent. Relatively.

When you read the above headline, I will forgive you for believing that either this guy is a bit full of himself or else he is making a fool of himself. Neither of these assumptions is good, but bear with me.
I watched a fascinating programme the other day in which the world’s leading physicists propounded their latest theories on black holes. Although Albert Einstein had theorised about their existence, he came to the conclusion that Mother Nature could not support them in reality.
The consensus now is that they certainly do exist with a gravitational pull so intense that scientists’ minds have been bent towards them and not even light cannot escape.
Hence their name.
As I understand it, their very existence is even calling into question some of Einstein’s theories on General Relativity.

It is generally accepted that our capacity to absorb and retain information is finite. If you also accept that knowledge, like the universe itself, is not only infinite, but expanding, then in common with the world’s leading brains, I know relatively little.
That’s quite a nice club to be a member of and you are welcome to join.
Indeed, I am advantaged in that, unlike these very clever scientists, I am less aware than they are of how much I don’t know. While that in itself does not make me cleverer than them, it has the potential to make me think I am. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself lest one – or both – of the two assumptions above come true.
My overriding impression of the programme, however, is what fun the scientists are having in exploring the mysteries of life, the Universe and everything.
But not nearly as much fun as some greater being must be having watching them groping in the dark.
Literally and theoretically.

Monday, 23 November 2009

More British Airways' cuts

Did I notice the head (yes, the actual head) of British Airways sporting a new hairdo the other day or is it simply that Britain's favourite hairline is receding?
Now there's a metaphor.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

You can say that again. But mind your step.

Have you ever wondered what it is that makes some Munros more popular than others? Is it the area they area in? Could it be the stunning views from atop when you’ve made the effort to bag them? Or might it be something a little bit more obscure? Their names maybe?
Yes. That’s it. It’s their names.
Admittedly, Ben Nevis was always going to be popular by virtue of being the highest, but the ease with which you can pronounce its name also speaks volumes.
I mean, do you know anyone who has ever climbed Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain or, for that matter, was able to tell you that they climbed it? What about Stob Coire Sgreamhach? Or Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan? These Munros all have one thing in common. They are eminently easier to climb than their names are to pronounce.
You try arranging a weekend with Mullach na Dheiragain at the centre of your plans.
If you need to ask directions for certain Munros, you’ve no hope. Unless, of course, you are heading for Ben Hope. How easy does that sound?
Also, not everyone sets off with the intention of bagging all 283 Munros. When someone says they want to do more, maybe they simply mean Ben More.
Why can’t they all be that easy?
Well, next weekend I’m heading for K2.
Now there’s a real walk in the pronounce.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Global Warming

Would global warming have saved the Titanic?
Also, if global warming is just the tip of the iceberg, should we worry about the rest of it?

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Herman Van Rompuy - the new bloc head

We went into Iraq on a lie. It has cost us many lives but the hope is that one day we will get out.
We went into Europe on a lie. It is costing us an arm and a leg and we've no hope of getting out.
With Iraq it has been a high price for freedom. With Europe it is a high price for giving up our freedom.
We're the real blockheads.

Once upon a time...

Are you all sitting comfortably?
Then get off your bloody butt. You're spending far too much time at the computer.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


There’s nothing quite like a good whine.
So here goes.
Can someone please enlighten me as to precisely what it is that makes a wine snob so anally retentive? (Maybe anal retention is a quality I ought to admire if you knew where I would like to stick the cork from my recently opened Merlot.)
Why can’t oenophiles be left to enjoy the simple pleasures of wine without having to endure the wrist-gnawingly boring descriptions that self-appointed wine critics use to have us reaching for yet another glass?
For the life of me, I can’t think of a single adjective that can adequately describe the plethora of adjectives that WC’s (wine critics) deem appropriate to describe wine. But maybe that’s the point.
Think of a number between one and ten and they’ll say twenty. Yes, WC’s really are that perverse. And yet, as excruciatingly painful as their descriptions are, the one that really does it for me is..........wait for it..........“this is a good wine”.
What exactly IS a good wine and who gave WC’s the authority to become the presiding arbiters of taste?
To compare one car to another, for example, might involve looking at aspects such as performance, economy and comfort. You might choose to conclude then that a Mini is better than a Rolls Royce if economy is your chosen benchmark.
But wine?
Either you enjoy it or you don’t. Full stop. So please fools, stop.
My main bone of contention is that nobody knows better than me about what goes on between my palate and my brain.
If sticking my tongue in an old car battery gives me a buzz, then why pay a premium for a wine that is purportedly redolent of the dying embers of an autumn fire infused with the warm scent of a newly hatched chicken that brushed its backside against the pollen laden plants that adorn the graveyard?
Let me taste it. If I like it, then I think it’s good and that’s good enough for me.
But I wouldn't ever presume to then tell the world that here is a good wine.
No matter how presumptuous that wine may be.
Oh no. I’ve started.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The Now Here Nowhere Years

As the last century came to an end, much was made of the name that we ought to attribute to the early years of this century, and so they came to be known as the Noughties.
Such perspicacity is rare. From ground zero to zero per cent interest, it seems that Man has learned nothing and achieved nothing.
The Noughties indeed.
I guess we are now moving towards what will come to be known as the Teens for reasons too obvious to relate. However, as 2010, 2011 and 2012 are not really Noughties and patently don't carry the suffix teen, what name can we assign to those years?
Bearing in mind that they are almost 'now here' and that, with our busted economy, we will spend them going 'nowhere', what about a contraction of the 'Now Here Nowhere' years?
So instead of the boom and bust of the Yo-Yo years, let me introduce you to the 'dust to dust' of the No-No years!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A Born Winner

What is it that makes Rupert Murdoch tick? Like him or loathe him, Rupert is a winner. Rupert.....? Yes, Rupert! Who on earth gave him that moniker?
Well.....his parents.....I assume.
So instead of receiving a legacy on their deaths, Rupert was given a leg-up at birth because I subscribe to that old Johnny Cash hit – A Boy Named Sue.
You know the one where the father walked out having figured that if his son was going to survive in this bad old world, he would need something to toughen him up and so called him Sue.
Rupert? In Australia?
(Apologies to Ruperts everywhere.)

Monday, 9 November 2009


President Blair? Do not despair.
He's not yet got the vote.
It could be worse, Fred holds the purse
and Brown pens the sooicide note!

A bad 'spell' in office

Gordon Brown has a frown that borders on a scowl.
His look is so dismissive, I call it ‘cheek’ by jowl!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The heavier they are...

So David slew Goliath. Or to give them their correct names, David Haye did for Nikolay Valuev.
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Or to deliver a jab rather than a haymaker, I don’t particularly like the stink that permeates boxing.
The governing bodies have not been without corruption and despite a glaring mismatch, the underdog achieved the upper hand.
None of which unduly concerns me except for the fact that it seems horribly like a metaphor for Afghanistan.

Friday, 6 November 2009


From flagship to flagging ship.
Let's just go by ship.


I was two minutes late for my meeting in Broughty Ferry which in itself was not a disaster. However, the reason for my sloppy timekeeping is contributing towards a catastrophe that will one day beset our beautiful planet.
Just as I was approaching a set of traffic lights, they turned red. On some days the air might well have turned blue but, for once, I was showing great forbearance. Five or six cars quickly bunched up behind me with a similar number opposite. There were probably as many to the left and the same again to the right. Twenty four cars in total idling for two minutes or, if you prefer, forty eight idling minutes.
Each burning fuel. Each polluting our planet.
Some knucklehead had pressed the button for the green man to appear. Rather than wait, he jay walked his way merrily to the other side before strutting up the road, oblivious – one hopes – to the real gravity of his actions.
Multiply this by the number of traffic lights in my poky little town, multiply it again by the number of towns and cities across the country and then across the world. In fact, you would need to use the ‘x’ sign so often, there would scarcely be enough of them left to kiss goodbye to our beautiful world.
Why is nothing ever said or done about this continual abuse of pedestrian crossings?
Either we act now or it is just possible that one day soon we will need to join the little green men on some other planet.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Remember this

With Remembrance Sunday almost upon us again, it's time to pay homage to the tragic dead to whom we owe our very freedom.
Sadly, it's also time to remember something that struck me a few years ago and continues to niggle me every time I see a war memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives in World Wars I and II.
The sentiments read "To those who gave their lives."
That is all very well for those who genuinely did give their lives. While we are quite rightly eternally in their debt, I would also like to point out that others had no choice. They were conscripted.
In their memory, let's amend the wording to: "To those who gave their lives and to those who had their lives taken."

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


At a recent conference in Dundee, Gordon Brown got up.
Our noses could sense.....
Sorry, I got my punctuation totally wrong. I’ll start again.
At a recent conference in Dundee, Gordon Brown got up our noses.
“Could sense prevail?” I pondered.
Blood, they say, is thicker than water. Yet even Brown’s closest brothers in the Labour movement must have sensed their blood curdling as they were served a veritable feast of bah, humbug and hogwash with extra lashings of chutzpah.
Not so much as a clap, but no shortage of claptrap.
One hesitates to describe it as a liberal helping of horse manure as that might malign another party. (I’ll leave that for a later blog.)
“The banks” he said “are in need of more regulation.”
To continue the allusion to all things equine, forget that old cliché about bolting the stable door. With the British economy, there is no stable and certainly no stability.
Does Gordon Brown seriously expect us to believe that he was unaware of what was going on in the financial sector throughout his long tenure as Chancellor?
I suspect not, but I do have a theory. Such crass incompetence would be difficult to perpetrate without conscious effort.
Brown the Clown was so desperate for the keys to the kingdom of Number 10, is it just possible that he conspired with Fred the Shred and his cohorts to screw the British economy in a perverse effort to oust Blair?
The problem is that whatever else you may choose to level at Blair, you can’t accuse him of bad timing.
Blair got out, Brown got in, Fred got off and we all got shafted.

Checkout this!

So that’s good. Our beautiful planet can be saved. All we need do is ban the supply of free plastic bags by supermarkets. Never mind the fact that their cabriolet freezers work overtime spewing cold air into an already fuel heated atmosphere. Never mind either that they fly a few leaves from far flung corners of the globe and market them under the guise of some exotic vegetable. Also, let’s disregard their obsession with out-of-town sites that necessitate myriad lorry deliveries and car crazy customers.
What worries me about the proposed ban, however, is that the supermarkets seem compliant.
From their perspective, what they hope will be perceived as an enhancement of their green credentials is really just another cynical ploy to cut costs, improve margins and reward their directors and shareholders.
After all, is that not business?
Well I’ve a much better idea.
Every supermarket, by law, should be free to supply as many plastic bags as they wish under one very important condition - the bags carry promotional offers for rival supermarkets.
Let's see how many they give away then.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

MP's and their expenses

Let’s reward our MP’s.
Why pillory them for their peccadilloes when they have gone beyond the call of duty (as in the synonym for tax) in providing us with such enterprising entertainment?
Instead, let’s grant immunity from prosecution to those MP's who come up with the most imaginative justification for their fibs and foibles.
David Heathcoat-Amory, for example, the Minister with irresponsibility to procure manure, might have argued that he was about to table a ‘motion’ in the Commons. David Cameron could be commended for doing his part to keep in check the mass wisteria surrounding this whole tawdry issue – while keeping his gardener in even bigger cheques.
And for those who fail to amuse, make the punishment fit the crime. A good start would be to de-moat Douglas Hogg.
I put the motion to the house.
Before it flips altogether.