Monday, 27 May 2013

Sorry, no more cinema for me



I no longer go to the cinema. I’ve really had enough. It’s not the cost of a ticket at about £8, or the price of a soft drink at £9 and a bucket of popcorn at £18.

It’s the social degenerates. The mobile-morons. The fatuous phone freaks. They drive me mad. Committing-murder mad.

I would, ordinarily, go to the cinema to watch, and hopefully enjoy, a film. However, the new breed of cinema goer now seems to go simply to play on their phone all film long. They are totally incapable of the slightest of social graces necessary to watch a film in the company of other members of the public.

The continual click-clacking of phone buttons, the flashing on and off of phone screens, the loud nudging of one of these degenerate’s friends to show them something on their phone drives me mad.

Can they not just switch off their phones and put them away for an hour and a half? Is it so much to ask?

Nowadays, when you walk around town, it’s a more tiring experience than it ever used to be. Because you have to concentrate on avoiding some moron with his or her head stuck in a phone from colliding with you.

I really am surprised there isn’t more phone crime in town centres than there actually is. Girls, in particular, seem totally incapable of switching the sound on, putting their phone in their bag or pocket and awaiting the sound to alert them that one of their socially inept friends has announced on facebook that they are blowing their nose. 

Instead, they hang their bags over their arms and walk around pointing their phone in front of them, blissfully unaware of what might be going on around them. Unless I have got it wrong and they are in fact all a new breed of stock exchange pundits who have to stay in contact with the office at all times.

I witnessed some time ago a “charming” young lady who embarked the bus on her way to town. I was sitting in the front seat, and on she stepped, in total animation on her phone, her conversation comprising solely of “know what I mean”, “like” and “innit”.

She slapped a ten pound note down on the bus driver’s ledge, and that was it. Now while I appreciate most bus drivers are 100% psychic and instantly know where their passenger wants to go without having to ask, my driver (to those who ever take the 7a in Leeds, it was the nice, round-faced smiley grey- bearded driver with the black glasses) just didn’t know. So like any sensible public servant would, he asked her.

The reply was a torrent of abuse about the driver being a stupid – sadly, I can’t repeat the word she used here before the watershed, but it rhymes with shunt – and that he was “eavesdroppin on her ‘portant (important) private con-vis-ashun, innit.”  Eavesdropping. Now there's a surprisingly complicated word for someone who doesn't understand the the more simple word 'manners'.

The normally laid back and gentlemanly driver replied “look love, if you carry on like that, I’ll have to ask you to get off the bus”.

“Love” then proceeded to look at me. “Hey mistah” she said to me. “Youse saw that. This” – use of the word rhyming with shunt used again – “was lis-nin to my ‘portant private con-vis-ashun and you’re my witness to do ‘im in court. Innit?”

She, as was I, somewhat taken aback by my response.

I said, quite loudly, something along the lines of: “Young lady. The way you’ve just behaved with your swearing and attitude, the driver would be quite right to throw you off the bus, and I would be in the front of the queue to help him. I suggest you grab your ten pound note and your Blackberry, before one of us shoves it in a place requiring you to seek medical attention to take it out, and get off this bus now. And perhaps learning some manners before the next bus might do you no harm.”

She did get off the bus rather quickly, naturally enough shouting, swearing and two-fingering the driver and me.

To make matter worse for her, the other passengers on the bus started cheering and clapping.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

What is it with solutions? And other meaningless rubbish?


I had a wonderful English teacher at school. Mr Blackmore. Nicknamed Moses because he had a very bushy beard, but then pupils were assuming, without any proof, that the original Moses never shaved.

He was somewhat height-challenged, but in those days, dressed in his batman gown as teachers always did in the black and white days, he nevertheless commanded the respect that the threat of having the wooden blackboard duster thrown at you was always bound to command. And he also had a very unique attribute that he made Shakespeare enjoyable, giving us teenage schoolboys a laugh each time by accentuating his pronunciation of “Coriolanus”. I shall leave it to your imagination as to which bit he accentuated.

I remember he started one class with a statement that was to set me on my path to a life of cynicism. He suddenly announced that “Nothing acts faster than Anadin, so all you guys must, from now on, take nothing.”

I believe – and hope – that Ian Blackmore is now a healthy pensioner,  enjoying his retirement far away from those annoying people called school pupils.

Solutions. “A homogeneous mixture composed of only one phase". So, to quote Lord Sugar, a solution could really be a "one-trick pony".

So why are so many companies the providers of “solutions”?

Are they one-trick ponies?

A company in Leeds provides “total panel solutions”, whatever they are. I picked up on the internet a legal practice that was busy "Creating family law solutions for you". If you get in your car and drive, you are bound to see “furniture solutions”, “kitchen solutions”, “employment solutions”, “building and maintenance solutions”.

(And revisiting this in Nov 2015, I have since come across "ski solutions", "refuse solutions", holiday solutions" - all barkingly uncreative, with May 2017 seeing a leaflet from Ultimate Shine Solutions [you can guess the business sector from the name . . . . . .  yes, correct . . . . . driveway cleaning!] being shoved 'helpfully' under my car rear windscreen wiper).

What is wrong with all these people?

Yes, I appreciate they are not copywriters and that they are professionals in their own respective fields and more than likely very good at what they do. But why don't they take a little advice when devising a strapline?

Another one that winds me up is “new and improved”. Now even Lord Winston would I’m sure agree that it can’t be improved if it is new. It would have been like Lord Fellowes coming on TV before the very first Downton Abbey programme and announcing it as new – yes, that bit’s correct – and “improved” – no, no, no.

“Pre-order”. Wonderful statement. Everyone is using “pre”. Pre-owned (second-hand or used to you and me). Pre-drinks (that’s the art of getting drunk before you go binge drinking). “Pre-loved” (that means bugger all, but is beloved by the Arthur Daley car salesmen type).

I actually have several scientists working on “pre-order” at the moment. Early indications are that it’s proving as big a headache as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, in other words, pi to you and me. You know, 3.14159265359 ad infinitum. Me, I thought you either ordered something or you didn’t.

So I’ve come up with a few of my own.

Wiping your runny nose is “pre-sneezing”. Opening the car door is “pre-driving”. Doing the weekly shop is “pre-cooking”.  Waking up in the morning is “pre-working”.

And breaking wind is “pre-shi….” Oh. I’d better not elucidate on that one before the watershed.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Water cannons for the police - come on Teresa, just get on with it


Well hoo flipping ray.

The government are at last thinking of deploying water cannons on the streets as a measure to deter the trouble-making rubbish that cause our valiant police men and women such heartbreak and physical abuse.

I wrote to No 10 and the Home Secretary Kenneth Baker not long after John Major took over from Baroness (then Mrs) Thatcher suggesting how useful water cannons were in deterring the rubbish from making trouble on the streets of Northern Ireland. They replied that "no", not on my watch, i.e., "I've got an expenses scandal to built up to and the police have helmets anyway".

While I realise that the average police-worrying trouble-maker on the street possibly doesn't wash voluntarily anyway (the two words they detest being "soap" and "work"), they nevertheless object to being soaked with water on a typically cold British night.
So don't faff around Mrs May.

Get cracking and help the police to help themselves. They (the police) don't deserve to be abused and have bricks thrown at them (and more) as they protect the majority of the population who know to act like human beings irrespective of the score from a Premiershi* football match, or whatever it is that beings these mindless lunatics onto the streets to cause trouble.

Why oh why is everything such a trouble for the government?

Why does it take them so long to protect the long-suffering voter?

Car clamping, tax avoidance scams, price fixing, house selling, house rentals, rip-off consultants, petrol prices, motorway stop-over rip-offs and generally just everything Rip-Off Britain.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Hindsight.............oh sorry, forgot to mention it earlier

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

We have all, at some time, achieved greatness and magnificence through hindsight. We have obtained CBE's, OBE's and other wonderful accolades, been to afternoon tea with H M the Queen and even appeared on the BBC's One Show, all without the necessity of lowering ourselves to being a useless, snivelling, senior public-sector executive. All thanks mainly to hindsight.

Well not really. I just like having a go at the pathetic honour-chasers (we all know one of those in either local government or a local voluntary organisation don't we? You know the sort - does none of the work but grabs all of the glory).

Had I the Tardis, (you know, the Time and Relative Dimension in Space machine Dr Who drives around Time in - saves a fortune in parasite, er, I mean parking fees), I could return and correct some of the great errors of my ways  -  through hindsight.

Most I wont mention here, as being of the plain stupidity and male pride type, I don't want to appear to boast (i.e. totally embarrass myself).

However, there is one I wish I could borrow the Tardis for.

Last week saw the return to the BBC of "Would I lie to you". Quite an amusing programme by all accounts, but I simply couldn't face watching it.

Why? Because the panel of "guest contestants" was made up totally of the same old "celeb-rih-ees" we see either hosting their own programmes or guesting on other equally inane shows. Plainly the BBC now feels there are only 7 celeb-rih-ee guests in the world.

It would appear that "Have I Got News For You" is now the sole show on television capable of employing guests who aren't instantly recognisable.

Anyway. Vernon Kay. Lovely tall bloke. Very nice chap. Very tall. Treats members-of-the-public right, but is totally incomprehensible. And tall. A high chap in stature. Astoundingly has received an honorary doctorate from Bolton University for services to entertainment. Can only presume the academics couldn't understand a word he was saying, so in frustration, gave him the doctorate just to go away. Oh. And he's quite tall.

Fearne Cotton - to quote Rod Liddle of the Sunday Times "witters like an imbecile". I would add, "....at every opportunity". But I would never suggest that her good looks and being related to Sir Billy Cotton had anything to do with her employ at the BBC. Oh no.

Holly Willoughby - extremely lovely young lady, and unlike most of the useless eye candy on TV, speaks as beautifully as she looks. But sorry Hol - as beautiful as you are, you're a little bit inconsequential. Lights on and burning quite brightly at home, but not too sure the house is actually occupied! Or that there are even stairs to get to the first floor.

Stephen Mulhern - hosts, amongst other programmes, "Britain's Got Cowell Part 2" and Catchphrase, having decided that these shows are far less demanding on his intelligence than his membership of the Magic Circle. The "Britain's Got Cowell Part 2" is so moronic as to be a total insult.

And there are more. Devina McCall, Tess Daly, Jonathan Ross, Alan Carr.........on and on. Entertaining, but either irritating, on the TV far too much, or just absolutely useless.

And without being big-headed, I say I could do it myself. Be quite entertaining and useless at the same time. But thanks to hindsight, I missed by chance! 

Yes, I was offered a job at BBC Radio Leeds over 20 years ago by the wonderful Liz Green, and refused it! After much guesting on programmes, training at the BBC control desk and more, I refused. Because the lure of the new job I had just started was £6k more than the BBC could tempt me with, and came with a company car! 

While I knew it was a government spin-off, and seemed fairly safe, little did I know it would be staffed at senior level by clueless civil servants (I should add not all civil servants are clueless - it's just that found out rather later on that this lot were actually professionally useless - their former colleagues must have been delighted to see the back of them) who would all run back to where they came from when a change of government disbanded the national network of organisations, the local one for which I was working.

Yes. 20+ years later, I still regret saying to dear Liz when she phoned to offer me the job "Sorry Liz, I've just started a new job". Because my only big-headiness is to say "I could do just as well as these current numpties."