I’ve just posted my 100th picture on Instagram so please check out my gallery and like/follow should you want to.Check out My Instagram account and see some examples below
So there we all were, nervously going to bed on Sunday night wondering how on earth we were all going to survive the impending storm that was heading our way. Unusually for the UK, this storm had also been given a name – St.Jude – which to my knowledge is the first time this has ever happened here. The great storm of ’87 is simply known as the ‘great storm of ’87’ and the similar battering the country took in 1990 is only ever really referred to as ‘when it was windy in 1990’. So is there now a system in place where there is a naming protocol for storms, and if so, is it done simply to prepare ourselves for something terrible where all the hype is built up in advance, only for it to be arrive far less menacing when it eventually arrives? Also, although there seems to be a pretty steadfast naming protocol for tropical storms in those parts of the world where life changing weather is frequent, is it really needed here? So then this got me thinking. Someone must be in charge of these things and if so, how comes? And also,what is their system for assigning names? To my knowledge St.Jude is the patron saint of hopeless cases, the saint that my mum would often encourage me to pray to should I be searching for my keys or an errant golf ball, so I had developed an association of kindness,caring and understanding with him. (Her?). I certainly hadn’t associated this particular saint with a destructive force of nature who’s impending presence would be responsible for a swathe of destruction sweeping across the land or even blowing over some garden furniture and the odd fence panel. It seems though that the reason for this name is simple… it was going to arrive on St.Jude’s day. Is that really the best we can come up with? Really? I have it on good authority that it was also St. Ferrutius day which sounds so much better. I can imagine in years to come when people look back at the blustery day we had and will gather in a pub somewhere reminiscing about weather in the olden days saying things like
” Do you remember the great St.Ferrutius storm, Dave?
” Certainly do Steve, it knocked the St. Wilfetrudis one into a cocked hat”.
And what would have happened if this storm had of arrived on St.Valentines day? Would we start to attribute a deadly weather system to a saint that we normally regard as the patron saint of over priced flowers and chocolates? Personally, I’d have paid good money for it to have made landfall on Pancake day.
As we are in the infancy of storm naming in this country I think we should start afresh and come up with a much simpler and less religious based system. I’d like to put myself forward as the chief of storm naming which apart from giving me a great business card would also give me an opportunity to vent some stored up anger. My naming system would be easy to understand and also give some clarity on what we were going to be faced with. For example, and for reasons that all men will be able to identify with, storms which are are difficult to predict and could change direction without any prior warning would be given women’s names. Names like Belinda, Annette and Harriet would be given to relatively gentle storms that arn’t likely to cause too much aggro whereas names like Chantelle, Britney and Chelsea would be given to storms likely to cause more widespread aggravation. For the ones that would affect the lives of many millions of people and lead to a widespread change to the landscape, I would simply name them hurricane Thatcher. Storms that were more simple and easy to predict would be given men’s names. Starting at the more devastating end of the scale, people should be left in no doubt as to the severity of what was about to come and so a storm that was going to make certain landfall and administer indiscriminate destruction on a catastrophic scale would be called hurricane Vader. Using my newly introduced system, this weeks highly anticipated and much hyped storm of cataclysmic proportions would simply have been called Trevor.
On Sunday night we were being urged to stay indoors and not to make any unnecessary journeys during the early hours of Monday morning especially during the rush hour. I’ve yet to fully understand though what exactly constitutes an unnecessary journey. Surely all journeys are necessary arn’t they? I mean, I’ve got to go to work as I don’t get the luxury of paid leave or the ability to work from home, and it’s highly unlikely my customers would come round my house to buy a car even if I wanted them to. A journey to work is very necessary indeed. Also necessary, is a late night drive out to the local kebab shop should I decide I need a snack. Or two. As the storm gathered momentum over both the Atlantic Ocean and sky news HQ, it was decided that as a precautionary measure the entire train system serving Europe’s biggest city was to be shut down and flights in and out of London were to be cancelled or delayed. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that people were arriving into Heathrow from parts of the world that are regularly affected by severe storms that devastate entire regions, completely bewildered as to why a metro system that runs primarily underground can’t operate.
Mondays storm was, however, strong enough to cause loss of life and destruction which is of course a tragedy for all of those involved and I suppose that given the the degree of damage that we were led to believe would happen, the loss of life and damage was much lower than expected. And maybe this is the point. The naming of a storm gives it an identity and therefore an additional resonance, and the announcement that the government was to chair an emergency cobra meeting served only to heighten expectations of the expectant carnage to come. David Cameron, we were informed, would be being briefed and updated through the night. Indecently, I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to recently discover that far from being a James Bond style top level secret committee, cobra is simply the name given to the room that the meeting takes place in. C abinet O ffice B riefing R oom A. How mundane is that! Back to Monday morning though, and the only thing that was building and developing more quickly that the storm itself, were the 24 hour news broadcasters who were falling over themselves -quite literally in some cases- to present us with ever more woe inducing pieces to camera about what precautions we should take to survive it. Sky news suggested that we should all make sure our phones were fully charged and that we gather together a torch and a first aid kit which is all excellent advice. I certainly wouldn’t want to find that a large oak tree had fallen on my house and be without a few plasters or some salon. I was a little unsure of the recommendation of obtaining a chainsaw. In a world where we can be arrested for carrying anything sharper than a sausage, it’s hardly advisable to encourage the purchase of these things especially in the run up to Halloween. A Sky news outside broadcast team were sent to Brighton beach to demonstrate the power of the waves as the storm “slammed” into the south coast but instead of 30 foot high waves and the sight of water crashing over the pier, they were greeted by the sight of swimmers taking an early morning dip with a cloudless blue sky behind them. The most entertaining moment of the broadcast though was watching one of their cameramen falling into the water after being floored by a particularly aggressive 3 foot wave which appeared from out of the blue.The BBC, who were not much better but still a little sensationalistic, chose to interview a self styled “disaster recovery expert” who gave some great advice about how to clear fallen trees. Cheers fella. While all this was going on, a quick flick through the channels over to CNN showed live coverage from Australia where hundreds of homes were being destroyed by a fire which was engulfing hundreds of square miles of forest. Time for a sense of proportion then wouldn’t you say.
So with weather presenters and news reporters all trying to out serious each other their way to a bafta, where does that leave us? Well so far this year we have had warnings to stay in when it snowed, warnings to stay in when it’s been too hot and warnings to stay in when it’s too windy. What next? Warnings to stay in when it rains? If we haven’t yet already reached the point where we say enough is enough then we will surely soon do so. Like in the fable of the boy who cried wolf, we are getting so used to being bombarded with extreme weather warnings which turn out to nothing more than damp squibs, that one day the big one will arrive and we’ll not have heeded the warnings. In a country where the climate is temperate and the chances of getting killed or hurt by the weather is small, we are getting led blindfolded into believing that a relatively harmless batch of weather is a life changing event when for 99% it isn’t. And then one day when hurricane darth does arrive,we’ll be less protected than ever.
17 years ago I was the manager of a record store in central London which was one of the busiest in the country. From a shop which was the size of your average living room we would regularly out sell the megastores down the road particularly when it came to the big releases of the day. For example I remember that during the height of Brit pop we shifted more copies of Oasis’s ‘Whats the story, morning glory’ than the virgin megastores managed to and when the video for ‘Independence day’ came out we sold more than any other store in the country during it’s first week of release. Getting daily deliveries of upwards of 30 box’s of CDs and DVDs created logistical problems for storage which to be honest we never really successfully dealt with except that just about every nook,cranny and crevice in the building as well as the those in our sister company just a bit further up the concourse was stuffed with as much stock as we could lay our hands on. I became remarkably adept at finding ways of being able to not only display it,but also store it and from time to time no matter what we did, all of us working there would end up using boxes of stock as make do chairs as we had to get rid of most of our stools and chairs to make room for it. Once, With a busy bank holiday weekend approaching I took some petty cash out of the till and purchased 4 massive, virtually trunk sized plastic storage box’s to store excess stock in under the permanent racking that ran the length of the store and for a couple of weeks this provided us with some room to move around behind the counter and in the staff area. Even though I had legitimately taken the cash I hadn’t accounted for it properly in the weekly banking which resulted in our regional security managers turning up one day and suspending me while a hearing took place to establish whether I had been guilty of theft. During this week long investigation my team were informed of what was happening, my two team leaders, Les and Lisa, were instructed to take over my duties and word quickly spread,inaccurately and prematurely, that I had been sacked for gross misconduct. During my disciplinary hearing I was unable to convince security that I had been guilty of nothing more than failing to follow the processes correctly and although the till balanced and there was no evidence of theft, it was decided that I was guilty and therefore sacked on the spot. Naturally I appealed, but I lost and eventually took the matter to acas but the best I was able to get was an understanding that when a future employer wanted a reference, mine would simply say that I left for personal reasons. About 10 years later I got a friend request on facebook from an old colleague from that time who told me that whilst my case was being investigated, my line managers were busying themselves telling everyone that I was guilty and arranging my replacement,so clearly it was never going to be a fair trial so to speak. But what really annoyed me about this conversation was that everyone whom I knew from that fairly close knit business where I knew people in virtually all of our locations, where informed of my “guilt” without me having the chance to explain myself and my name was tarnished and the door behind me was shut for ever. It’s true what they say.. Mud sticks.
6 months passed before I got a ‘proper’ job and during that time I did a series of rubbish ones just to bring in some money. Looking back at that time now its true to say that although it was a time of upheaval and hardship it took my life in a new and better direction and maybe it’s true that good things sometimes come out of adversity. The reason I’m mentioning this now is that I was reading the newspaper reports of a number of high profile news events of the last few months and its got me thinking about the lack of any right for a person accused of a crime to remain anonymous until either charged,convicted or acquitted. Michael Le Vell is a cracking example of someone who clearly should have been afforded the right of anonymity as should anybody else being accused of the same heinous crime. Sadly though, the newspaper industry decided that the chance to sell thousands of extra copies was too much of an opportunity to pass up and having one of the best known British soap actors on your front cover for weeks looking stressed and distressed while being accused of child rape is clearly good for business. This very public reporting of the trial and alleged crimes was justified as being of public interest and therefore we were treated to what amounted to nothing more than salacious accusations and hysterical reporting day after day until he was found not guilty. Then it appears that the public interest in his innocence is not exactly worthy of as many column inches and by day 2 of his acquittal the press had got bored and moved on. I suspect there isn’t as much money in innocence. And so what are we left with? Well until the end of time he will be known as the guy who was accused of interfering with children and I’m sure some brain dead buffoons will regard him as the bloke who got away with it but his reputation will be tarnished for forever. Now you might read this and think that as he was found to be innocent that things will go back to normal, but I doubt if they will. Ask yourself this question.. would you let him babysit your children? It will be argued that the public have the right to know and media types will put forward a strong case for a free press which is free from political interference which will be self regulated and therefore highly valued.
To be honest I don’t really disagree but the way I see it is this. I’m not the slightest bit interested if Le Vell or anyone else is innocent of any crime be it a big one or simply a minor misdemeanour, but I am interested in it if they are guilty. But while the courts operate on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty it seems that the media, driven by the need to make a profit, are promoting the presumption of guilt before a trial has even taken place. With things never likely to change for the better I think it should be the case that anyone accused of a crime that would be put before a criminal court should be automatically afforded the right to anonymity. This right could of course be given up at anytime by any individual should they wish to waive it and if they are subsequently found guilty it should be made public that they had requested anonymity in the first place. These rights should be enshrined in law to the same degree as contempt of court is. It seems that if you’re a super rich footballer you can afford a so called super injunction to keep yourself clear of the press but anyone on a less extreme income can’t.
It’s not just celebrities that end up with lives ruined because of false accusations. Some ordinary people have become infamous because of false accusations made against them too. Colin Stagg was ruined by the police and the media before being wrongly accused of murdering Rachel Nickell back in 1992. As part of the police investigation he was publicly outed as being a lot of a pervert who was encouraged to divulge fantasies of rape to an undercover policewoman posing as a potential love interest who was egging him on to come on to her by faking some fairly sick fantasies of her own. In an attempt to appear to be on the same page as this woman sexually and to try and have a bit of rumpy pumpy with her, he went along with it and unwittingly made himself prime suspect in the murder case. He will always be associated with this crime, so much so that even now, 20 years after her murder if you google Colin Stagg the first thing that comes up is a picture of Rachel Nickell. And the papers were so upset with his acquittal that they moaned about his compensation! Barry George spent 7 years in jail wrongly convicted of being the killer of Jill Dando , but leading up to the trial and indeed after it he was subjected to a complete character assassination on behalf of the tabloids and it’s not an unreasonable suggestion that this could have been avoided if he had of had a jury that hadn’t been bombarded by stories of his weirdness prior to his trial. And this month Christopher Jeffries who was arrested in connection of the disappearance of Joanna Yeates in 2010,finally received an apology from the police after his very public arrest and trial by tabloid made him the most hated man in the UK. He himself has only just this week called for changes in the law to allow anonymity until a formal charge is made. It’s interesting isn’t it that the “hang ’em” brigade go ever so quiet when confronted by stories of wrongful conviction. They should be reminded that even though medical science leaps forward at a seemingly quickening pace, it’s still a lot easier to release someone from prison than it is to dig them out of the ground after an execution. Saying sorry to a corpse doesn’t really make a great deal of difference. And the media still believes it to be good business to plaster the front pages with these stories and care not a single bit if they get it wrong and even on the rare occasion that they apologise, it’s always always printed in an obscure part of the paper, usually next to a story of a water skiing squirrel or an agoraphobic scarecrow.
My wrongful conviction that I spoke about earlier cost me my job and indirectly my home. I went through a period of depression, relocation and a lack of personal self worth. Sure, things got better but that’s only down to my own dogged determination to keep things going and improve things for myself. I was lucky that my case wasn’t being played out in front of the insatiable appetite of a cash hungry press and I couldn’t even begin to contemplate what it must be like to be publicly outed despite being totally innocent.
I wrote a kind of charity based blog last week which led to a request from a chum of mine to go back to my roots and write my usual kind of angry blog. At first I was kind of pleased that I seem to be developing a theme but then I thought do I really want to be just writing a weekly angry style blog. But then I kind of thought well why not, deep down I probably am an angry person, angered daily by all the nonsense that life throws our way and annoyed to the extreme by some of the idiots that cross my path on a seemingly daily basis. Don’t get me wrong I’m actually a pretty happy go lucky kind of a person, I like nothing more than a good belly laugh and find humour in most of things that I do. I’d like to think that each day I go to work, soak up most of the crap that’s thrown my way, do my best to do my best ( if you see what I mean) and try and do it all with a smile on my face. But time after time despite being this giant ball of fun and laughter, this inner radiant glow of happiness and delight that I have been blessed with is disturbed by some tree dwelling moon unit who manages to bollocks the whole thing up by failing to make his or her IQ raise higher than the average daytime temperature of Norway during December. For example even just a simple trip to the supermarket, a car journey of less than 2minutes, resulted in me “meeting” Sevenoaks’s worst driver who managed to not only pull out on me as I was halfway round a roundabout but then actually overtake another car ON the next roundabout before indicating left and then turning right at the next junction. As if this wasn’t bad enough he then went on to park at a “jaunty” angle in a space designed for 2 cars before getting out of his car and walking into the shop as though nothing untoward had happened. I’ve had enough of these tosspots. So much so that I have decided to abandon my usual attitude correction technique of getting out of the car and threatening them with a short but intense burst of industrial strength language, to photographing their car and putting it on facebook or on here. So here to start things off is the car that belongs to a man that I’ve since nicknamed ” The bearded twatface of Otford”. If you see him in and around the area, call him some names from me.
The band Zico chain got on my nerves this week too. A couple of months ago I bought some tickets to see them play at a venue close to home which was meant to be the 3rd time I’ve seen them this year. I wouldn’t say I’m in love with them but their most recent album is pretty good and when I saw them support British Lion and Iron Maiden this year they were pretty good too. So at £12 a throw it seemed to be a cheap night out. I had also scheduled a game of golf with Pappa T for Friday so knew in advance that I’d be pretty knackered leading up to the gig, but with the lack of travel involved and a small venue to see them in I thought it wouldn’t be an issue. But it was only while me and MrsT2b were enjoying a few pre gig drinkies that we discovered that the band were not due on until 10pm which I won’t lie, proper hacked me off. I like this band and after finding out a bit about them I’ve discovered that despite having been around for 11 years they have only really enjoyed a small degree of success. But dare I say it, in my humble opinion this small amount of success could have been much greater if they had of put perhaps just a little bit more effort into it? I mean 3 albums and 2 EP’s in 11 years?they have opened the main stage at download and toured with velvet revolver but don’t seem to have pushed on at all. Even on this tour, following the amazing opportunities presented this year they don’t seem to have pushed on at all and are playing in front of a couple of hundred people in Tunbridge Wells as opposed to somewhere bigger and I can’t help but think that this is down to the lack of effort they seem to put in. This is THEIR headline tour, yet they have chosen to take out 2 support bands meaning they not only have to share the income but also the limelight and they don’t get to the stage until 10! Sort it out guys, you’re better than this. I realise that it’s not very metal to not go to a gig due to the timing of their show but I feel like its just too much of an effort for them to put some effort in. Having said that, buy their album “the devil in your heart” as it’s very good and if you not bothered about a late night, go see them on tour as you will have a good nights entertainment. Also Paul frost (guitars) was kind enough not to tell me to piss off when I drunkenly asked him for a photo outside the O2 back in August.
There has been some good news this week though in so far as it appears that the recession has come to an end. Well maybe not to an end as such but I suspect that the coalition has decided that if they tell us this news often enough then we might just come to believe it, and therefore in an attempt to push the message home they have begun electioneering already during the party conference season. One of the big new ideas to get votes was announced this week and it seemed that buying primary school children school dinners is the answer. So from next year free school dinners are back on the menu and parents all over the country rejoiced,Right? Well,wrong it seems. Now if I was the parent of a small child I would be delighted to send them off to school every day in the knowledge that they would be getting something hot and nutritious during the day to aid and assist their journey into intellectual superstardom. But it seems that some little darlings are too precious for these state paid for meals. Going back 35 years I can say with a degree of certainty that my school meals were devoid of any taste or nutrition and were served up by a group of women who would make the inmates of cell block H look feminine. In fact there was more warmth in the meals than there was in these women serving them and thats saying something. But when a friend of mine shared the link from the BBC news website on Facebook this week a friend of hers immediately replied ” well unless they are freshly prepared on the premises each day, my Olivia isn’t having them” excuse me? I’ve seen nothing but doom and gloom from parents of school age children recently complaining of benefit cuts and raises in child care fee’s and yet here is a policy where something is being given back and yet their still not happy and seem to be saying that unless their kids are fed personally by Jamie Oliver that its not good enough. Even when something good happens it seems that the moaning majority can’t and won’t be happy.
I suppose thinking about it I’m not an angry man I’m just an easily irritated man. My blood pressure instantly raises when one of these buffoons pulls out or tailgates me or says something moronic on Facebook. It absolutely does my nut in when someone overtakes me irresponsibly and then puts on their brakes causing me to slow down and it seems that 50% of all drivers over the age of 70 have bought cars that haven’t been equipped with functioning indicators and why is it that groups of cyclists feel that it is perfectly acceptable to meander along side by side causing tailbacks for miles behind them simply because they want to cycle in formation while chatting about why motorists are so impatient.Things are just as bad on foot too. Surely I’m not the only one to experience formation pram pushing by groups of mums who walk three or four abreast along pavements or in shopping centres scything down anyone or anything that gets in their way while travelling at the speed of drying paint and preventing anyone getting past them. Worse still and the ones who make my teeth itch with fury are those who people who one minute are walking along with purpose and from out of nowhere suddenly stop dead in their tracks causing a pile up behind them. Years ago we had a friend called John Hardcastle who had his own unique way of dealing with rogue pedestrians like those I’ve just mentioned. He would decide that the path he was taking was the right one and he would not alter his path for anyone ever meaning that on several occasions people who saw him coming but decided that they were more important would simply end up bouncing off him or finding themselves on the floor after tripping on one of his outstretched legs. I like this tactic and have decided to adopt it from now one should my mood allow.
Maybe being grumpy,angry and irritable is simply just a right of passage as I slip serenely into middle age and beyond. I hope that in years to come I don’t find myself being a pensioner who gets on a bus and moans about not getting seated or whinges about the actions of school children or even spends all day moaning about why things were better during the good old days. Although having said that, it seems that sadly I already have.
I’ve not been blogging for a few weeks now. The overriding reason for this is that I’ve been so busy at work recently that I’ve had to give 100% of my time to work and this focus has really been the only thing that I’ve really been able to concentrate on. It’s much to the credit of Cally that she has been understanding of this and has managed to not get too annoyed at my 10 hour days and 6 day weeks and by being so understanding its actually made my life so much easier. After a punishing day at work the last thing anyone needs is to get aggro for putting in a long shift and trying to earn a decent living and I’ve been very lucky to get the understanding and patience that I’ve needed to in order to get my numbers done and targets hit. So with these long days leaving me knackered I’ve been away from this page for a lot longer than I would have wanted to be and although I’ve written three or four half posts I’ve not really had the inclination to finish them off. Having said that the stats are going well. When I post a blog I like to keep track of the readership stats to see how it’s being received and even during the last four weeks of inactivity I’m delighted to see that I’m still getting plenty of daily hits on my web page. Almost certainly by the time you have read this I will have surpassed the 10,000 hits mark which is many more than I expected to get by this stage so before I go any further, this week marks the first anniversary of me starting this and I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read it and share it, it really does mean a lot.
Over the last few weeks there has been many topics that I have wanted to find the time to write about,ranging from the situation in Syria and why President Putin has played a masterstroke and out politicked Cameron and Obama and I’ve wanted to write about the determination of a chum of mine to get his face punched in all in the name of charity. I’ve wanted to write about my birthday and the brilliant place that Cally found to spend the evening in and I’ve wanted to write about why I believe that the naming of men being accused of sex crimes should be legislated against so that they can remain anonymous until proven guilty. I’ve wanted to blog about my utter loathing of the professional protesters against fracking who have pitched up in their dozens and danced bizarrely to the tune of whale song to demonstrate their love of Mother Earth. But despite getting half way through some of these posts I’ve not finished them off but may well do so over the next few weeks or so assuming that they are relatively topical. Next week I’m off to see a band I first became aware off about 6 months ago and another band I first got into over 20 years ago so I’m sure there will be a review of those. As well as that we have booked a couple of city breaks that we plan to take in October and December so my 4 week absence from your Sunday morning email/social media is well and truly over. Whether you like it or not!
A few weeks ago I watched a documentary about the late and exceedingly great Freddie Mercury which prompted me to dig out my live aid DVD and watch their 20 minute slot. If you don’t remember it then you should stop reading this and watch it immediately and feel a degree of shame for not having done so before because this is simply a staggeringly awesome moment of musical magnificence that you should watch over and over. Legend has it that it was during Queens performance that Bob Geldof was walking along a gantry inside Wembley on his way to give the BBC an update on the progress of the fund raising when he stopped to watch the performance going on below. It seems that prior to the queen performance the word was that donations weren’t going too well and when he saw Freddie getting the 70,000 adoring fans to eat out of the palm of his hand, he became instantly incensed at the lack of cash, which in turn led him to enter the studio and live on tv issue his now legendary “give us your fucking money” tirade to the millions watching. This instantly led to the now over used strategy we have in place to raise money which is basically represented by the following equation celebrity+publicity x swearing =cash. I mention this because I have a good pal of mine who is trying to raise some money for Charity and I’d like to give his cause some well deserved publicity and ask you to donate a few quid. Each week this blog is now read over 500 times, so the way I see it is that if you each gave just one £/€/$/¥ or groat, then a good cause has received some much needed cash and you can all feel jolly smug and happy about it.
My pal Andy is an ex serviceman who after leaving the British army decided that he would avoid falling on hard times by foolishly taking up a career in the car sales game and although the chances of getting shot at are significantly lower, driving a fiat 500 as a company car was no direct replacement for the thrill of driving a 50 tonne tank across the desert while lobbing depleted uranium at some of the planets most unpleasant despots. And as if being a trained killer wasn’t enough for our Andy, he then decided that being a cage fighter and an exponent of mixed martial arts would be a good way of getting rid of some of the energy he so clearly has. This also means that he comes in really handy if it all kicks off outside the goose and ferret in Lewisham high street on a Saturday night. Like many of his kind he is not only a pretty modest guy but he also wants to avoid the limelight. I contacted him about writing this post a number of weeks ago and wanted to do a whole kind of journalistic piece about his background and military history and what drives him etc etc but he simply said no. He doesn’t want any of that, he simply wants to raise a few quid for his chosen charity.
What he is trying to do is to raise some money for the charity help for heroes, a cause that he and lots of others believe passionately in and one that stirred him greatly after a fellow serviceman was hacked to death in Woolwich a few months ago. What help for heroes does is to offer support for men and women who have fought in the name of our country to keep us safe and help protect folk in other countries far from home. Many of these soldiers leave limbs on the battlefield and discover that when they are finally home safe and sound it turns out that it’s the charities that are expected to help meet the cost of rehabilitating them as opposed to state. As it happens we both think that this isn’t particularly fair or reasonable. In this country we seem happy to give money hand over fist to things like children in need simply because a member of the wanted or one direction sits in a bath of baked beans for a few hours and we allow ourselves to be bombarded by disturbing images on charity adverts on tv where we are guilted into donating £2 a week etc etc. I donated to a well known children’s charity a number of years back and in the space of a year they wrote to me 6 times asking if I would like to increase my donation so after doing so 5 times I eventually cancelled my direct debit as I almost felt under pressure to pay more rather than making a choice about it. I guarantee that you can make a one off payment to Andy’s just giving site without being asked for more.
By the time you read this he will have had his fight and taken part in an MMA bout which is intended to raise money for his charity. He has been in training for weeks to do this and is very focused on his task. He has managed his diet, taken on sparring partners and sought the assistance of experienced coaches and not simply sat in beans or taken on a sponsored silence so he deserves your donations. On the right hand side of my page in the “blogroll” section is a link entitled “sponsor my mate to get punched in the face” and on behalf of Andy please give whatever you can, anything from a pound upwards will do.
We have had a new arrival this week in the shape of Harry Kevin Nicholas Sims. Mrs T2b’s brother and his girlfriend welcomed their new baby son into the world a few days ago weighing in at an impressive 10lbs 2. Early reports are that mother and baby are doing well as the three of them embark on their journey of sleepless nights, endless dribbling and a house that smells of poo. A bit like our house did last Sunday morning after our visit to the Indian restaurant in Westerham the night before. It’s times like this when no matter what the world throws at you and no matter what day to day hurdles, obstacles and bullshit gets in the way, the arrival of a brand new, box fresh baby can fill even the most hardcore pessimist with a renewed sense of purpose and direction. I’m yet to meet the little fella myself but judging by the pictures that I have seen he already looks like a contented little guy and I know he’s going to have parents, grandparents aunts and uncles who are going to dote on him and probably spoil him just a little bit. And why not. What’s the world coming to if you can’t spoil a little baby.
We had a new arrival ourselves this week too in the shape of Basil the spider who announced his arrival by sprinting out from behind the DVD unit in the corner and making a break for cover for the underside of the small sofa a few feet away. It’s true to say that I’m not overly keen on any kind of spider but given that Cally hates them, I had to assume the role of chief hunter/protector and get rid of the little blighter. Armed with a large glass to put over the top of him, I set about the task of moving the sofa and in an attempt to quickly pull the sofa forward to reveal his whereabouts I managed to dislodge 3 fingernails instead as I yanked it forward. Not only was Basil nowhere to be seen but I was now beginning to drip blood on the cream sofa. Round 1 to Basil. Round 2 went equally badly for me after our new house guest was spotted scampering to safety under the tv stand and hid perfectly under it, right at the back where I couldn’t get to him. No amount of coaxing could get him to to come out so I decided that hitting him with a stick would encourage him to come out which he did, only to run, Usain Bolt style,across the lounge and behind the bin. I won’t lie I was starting to get cross at this point. The Mrs was behind the door shouting encouraging comments at me like ” have you stopped bleeding yet” and ” don’t make too much mess” while Boris proved more illusive than a tame unicorn. A quick lift of the bin only caused him to dart across the room and under the big cupboard where he appears to have stayed ever since. So for most of the last week neither of us have wanted to walk around the house in bare feet incase he re appears and there is a strange uneasiness while we wait for his reappearance. Not only that, I’m sure he’s pinched one of my beers from the fridge. If your wondering why I’ve called him Basil then there a simple explanation for this in so far that I learned a few years ago to name scary things with silly names to help take the fear away. For example we had a spider that moved into the bathroom a year ago and we named him Keith. He was only little and given that he was less scary than a pillow fight with the krankies we let him stay and missed him once he left. I used the same coping strategy with Adolf, my ex mother-in-law.
Also this week I had promised to deliver a customers new car to their house as they were unable to get to us to pick it up. I don’t mind doing these kind of deliveries as its a chance to get out of the showroom for an hour or two but on this occasion there was no part exchange to come back in so I had to take a driver with me so step forward Martin Pyman whom we all know and admire as the worlds most reluctant driver. This is the man who on a trip to the Bluewater shopping centre managed to go the wrong way round the roundabout leading to the car park and who regards any journey of more than 15 miles to be one which should be accompanied by a packed lunch, thermos flask and an updated will. So with his Swedish pornstar moustache quivering in the gentle breeze off we set, in convoy, on our way to Surrey, but what I’d forgotten was that as well as struggling with medium distances and roundabouts he also doesn’t agree with speeding. Any kind of speeding. In fact he regards a speed road sign as a bit of an optimistic challenge rather than a damned inconvenience, so even through the 50mph average speed bit of the m25 we were overtaken by climate change, continental drift and Wednesday. We do actually have 1thing in common though which is our like of heavy metal. I should point out that for Martin, metal begins with Iron Butterfly and ends with Led Zeppelin So we had to have a play through of the opus that is ‘ Stairway to heaven’ which despite being recorded in about 1873 is still a sublime piece of music. There was a slightly bemused look on his face when I played him a bit of a new album that’s being released by a british metal band called ‘ The more I see’ which by all accounts is going to be a belter. Given that he didn’t care for that too much I was probably not going to get too much of a positive response from playing a succession of dragonforce and devil driver at him but we did in the end settle for a brief play through of some thunder and acdc which lets be honest unless your either mental or tone deaf you’re bound to like.
A couple of news stories grabbed my attention this week too. The first one was about a university professor who has come up with a plan to stop sending burglars to prison on the basis that the prisons are full and that depriving them of their liberty is too harsh on the poor little lambs. Instead of prison the professor said that they should instead be made to do community service and in order to back up his view,an ex con was then brought in to whole heartedly agree with him. No way, really? An ex con saying that prison is a bad idea? He went on to say that none of his spells in prison (?) had rehabilitated him and that community service would be more rewarding and not turn petty criminals into more hardened ones. Well here’s my view of this utter garbage. Firstly, we’re forgetting the victims here. If someone breaks into my home and steals the things I have worked hard for I want them to go to prison. Or an electric chair. I was brought up to believe that thieving is wrong and doing so would mean I would go to prison and it wouldn’t be too pleasant. Therefore I never stole things! Simple really. Also why should the a******e that has burgled my house be afforded the same freedoms as I have got? Any thief who goes to jail and then claims that they learned more crimes as a result is a complete tool for one reason and one reason alone. And that reason is that the fellow cons they are learning from are also in prison. Therefore they got caught. And therefore they’re cleary not very good at it are they! Also the other story is the one where middle lane hoggers are to be subjected to fines and points on their licences. This is a great idea and one I fully endorse and support assuming that it remains illegal to have a harpoon fitted to the front of your car so that you can fire it at them and then drag them to the hard shoulder and verbally assault them until your throat hurts. Other roadside crimes and my suggested penalties that I would introduce include the following.
1) Overtaking a queuing line of traffic and nipping in at the end: death by firing squad
2) Overtaking and then braking once in front: public flogging
3) Parking so close in a car park that you can’t actually open your door wide enough to get in your car: 12 points and a disqualification
4) Parking so badly that the space to the side is rendered unusable: roadside tasering
5) ‘Amusing’ rear window signs where one cartoon football fan is shown weeing on a rival fan: the car should be towed away and crushed. Followed by a tasering
I should point out that I am of course joking. The public flogging should be televised as well.
A great hoohaa erupted last week when the new chief of the bank of England decided to use one of his first days on the job to announce that due largely to the lobbying of certain feminist individuals a new banknote is soon to be issued that features a woman on the back of it as opposed to a man. Apparently there has been an enormous miscarriage of justice over the last quadrillion years that has resulted in few women having had their pictures on the back of a bank note despite the fact that one of the most famous women in history has had her face on the front of all of them for the last 60 years. So after a long consultation process -I don’t remember being asked- it was decided that Jane Austen was to be the face on the new back of the new £10 note. Speak to the vast majority of the UK population and I’m sure that most of them don’t recognise the woman on the front of the notes yet alone the identity of the person on the back, for example without looking it up on google, can you tell me who is the person on the back of a £20 note? No, didn’t think so. Most of us will at some point have returned home from Europe over the last few weeks and cared not one single bit about which anonymous person, man or woman, adorns the front or back of any of the euro bank notes they have been using and so long as they get a good rate of exchange will probably never do so. That said, the readers of ‘The Times’ will have probably learned who is on our bank notes so that they can remember it in case it comes up in a radio 2 quiz, readers of the ‘Daily Mail’ won’t care either so long as its Princess Diana, and readers of ‘ The Sun’ don’t care so long as she has big boobs. Therefore my most hardy congratulations this week have to go to feminist champion Caroline Criado-Perez who it would appear has changed the mind of the bank of England and succeeded in changing something that on the whole no one give a toss about.
And then I turn the tv on on Monday. It seems that the co op supermarket has recently carried out an exit poll on their customers, asking them if they felt offended by the images shown on the front of various ‘lads mags’ such as Nuts or Zoo being displayed in their stores and It turns out that the great majority of respondents to this question answered yes. So many in fact that the co op have threatened the publishers of these magazines with the promise to stop stocking them unless they are either toned down,made less offensive or covered up.Since as long as I can remember these magazines along with those at the more specialist end of the market, have always been displayed on the top shelf in order to make sure that they are kept out of the gaze of impressionable youngsters. Everybody knows this, so why is it then that people then look up towards the top shelf, tut disapprovingly and then complain that they have been offended. If your that easily offended then don’t look up there in the first place! There is a branch of the co op less than a mile from my front door and with the possible exception of the ‘one stop’ shop a bit further up the street, this is by far and away the worst convenience store I have ever seen or had the misfortune to be in. The only reason I go in there in the first place is to buy beer so I can then get some cash back in order to spend at the Chinese takeaway next door who still refuse to accept card payments. It’s my opinion that the co op has more fundamental problems to deal with rather than bothering too much with censoring boobs. When you go into this store the first thing that greets you is the bread section which also contains some dubious looking “fresh” buns and pastries and a left turn takes you to the back of the store and a display of over priced goods on the shelf. I say shelf, for the most part these goods are displayed in roll cages because the overworked staff haven’t got time to get them out of these cages and onto the shelves in the first place so you end up having to guess how much they cost. Assuming you have made it through the aisles to the counter, you are then funnelled into a queue which is the same length as the one at Heathrow’s immigration counter and then get served by a staff member who does his best but is clearly trying to do too much on his own. After leaving the store I’d love to be met by one of these guys with a clipboard and have him ask me what I think of the store and if this was to ever happen I hope he has got a lot of time and plenty of paper to write on. But what actually happens is that upon exiting this hell hole of a store, someone appears from out of nowhere with a clipboard in hand and asks you if you were put off by the images of boobs.
It’s an interesting set of morals these stores have. In the interests of research I decided to pop into my local store and look at the magazine range for myself to see what all the fuss is about. As I walked into to my local co-op there was the newspaper stand which featured the daily sport, which for those not in the know is a publication featuring stories connected with nothing but sex,sex and more sex. On the front cover of this paper was a photo of a woman bending over so that you could see her underwear. I don’t remember seeing anyone from the co op getting hot under the collar by this. Then I turn to my right and saw the magazine display, and this displayed what I understand to be the main cause of the problem. Boobs. There in the middle of this display at the top was nuts magazine, which on its front cover featured full length shot of a woman in a bikini with some other smaller pictures of other women also in their underwear. Below that was the latest issue of Men’s health magazine featuring a half naked man with a six pack striking a pose while managing to look rugged and manly. Then there was the row of women’s magazine. Having never read any of these wastes of ink I can’t claim to have that familiar with them but the seem to have headlines on them that in my opinion are more offensive than the lads mags. The first one was ” set on fire by the beast who raped me” and the second one was ” horror hauntings killed our baby”. The front of the Take a break magazine has the heading of “killed because I went for a McDonald’s” and the front of Love it ran the front page of “corpses in the ice cream”. Now in the general scheme of things and assuming for one minute I was an impressionable child, do you think I would be more scared by the thought of being haunted or even raped to death, or would I be more corrupted by the sight of a pair of bikini clad boobs? I know which one I would be most worried about.But it seems that the feminists and the store operators would have us believe that an impressionable child viewing a pair of boobs by accident is by far and away a bigger threat to the moral fabric of our society than the prospect of the same impressionable child seeing a corpse in the freezer or being killed for asking for a happy meal. In my opinion these are the things we should be more concerned with.
The main argument against these lads mags seems to be that women should not be depicted as merely objects and that the women who are featured in them are in some way being exploited. Then just today tesco announced that it had reached an agreement with the magazines publishers that they would be toned down or even displayed in plain covers to protect their customers. The reason they give is that they have taken the advice of the feminist group “lose the lads mags” who claim that it is a “national scandal” that these stores stock and sell the mags in the first place. National scandal my arse. Its a scandal that children in this country are not properly protected against abuse. Its a scandal that in a so called developed country such as this that hard working families have to rely on food banks to get by. Its not a scandal that some women and men want to earn a living by taking advantage of their own good looks.They go on to say that these magazines “underpin violence towards women” and ” send a deeply deeply harmful message that treating women like sex objects is normal and acceptable”. Well not only do they not, I think that no right thinking man or woman wants to see any woman exploited or taken advantage of whether see gets her boobs out for a living or is the CEO of a multinational company. Just as a woman can rise the corporate ladder why can’t she also chose to be a model, whether it’s a glamour model or a catwalk model. Surely it is the final irony of feminism particularly over the last 30 years that young women have been brought up to believe in themselves and to believe that the world is their oyster and they can do whatever they want but when they decide that they can make a good living being a topless model the women’s groups are the first to complain. It goes without saying that no woman, or man for that matter, should be exploited but I’m very confident that none of the contributors to nuts or loaded are doing so against their will. Also I’m confident that none of these women are doing so because they have little other option. It seems to me that this is a fairly short lived career and many of them decide to pursue this as a job while they can before going on to do other things. The women representing so called feminist causes would impress me more if they were to look more closely at more important issues regarding feminism such as young British Asian women being married off against their will but I guess that while it is still easier and less dangerous to complain about banknotes and boobs, they will take the easier option.