Black snowflakes

I see Paul Gascoigne was fined £1000 for telling a joke.

I'm not even sure who Gascoigne is, though the name seems vaguely familiar.  Whoever he is though, he got off very lightly.  I would have doubled the fine as it was a very poor, unfunny joke that has been around for at least a century.  I think I first heard it back in second class at school.

But then I read that the fine wasn't for his feeble sense of humour.

He was fined because the so called joke was directed at a nigger coon spade wog blackie Person Of Non Caucasian Extraction.

There are a couple of little puzzles here that I admit are confusing me.  First of all, who made the complaint?  There must have been a complaint or there wouldn't have been a court case.  Was it the PONCE himself who made the complaint, in which case he is pretty pathetic security guard if he's going to cry at a few words?  If the poor little [black] snowflake is going to be "humiliated" by an ancient and exceedingly poor joke then what the fuck is he going to be like in the middle of a full scale riot?  God help us if someone came at him with a knife.

Or was it a bystander and not the PONCE, in which case they should mind their own fucking business.

Then there is the accusation of "threatening or abusive words or behaviour".

I presume the "behaviour" meant that Gascoigne turned his head towards the PONCE before uttering those now immortal words, but if turning your head is "threatening behaviour" then we're all fucked.

So I can only assume that it was the words that were "threatening or abusive".  Was the PONCE rendered unconscious after being struck on the head with an innuendo?  Was he half beaten to death with an oxymoron?  Was his eye put out with an errant split infinitive?

When I was a kid and someone teased me the parents would respond with the stock response – sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.  Sound advice.  True advice.  Ignore.

But now a security guard can be reduced to a quivering jelly of nerves because of a bad joke?

What the fuck is the world coming to?

Removing a tree from the sitting room

Yesterday I mentioned in passing that I was having a nice leisurely day.

Herself was quick enough to put an end to that.

I also touched on the fact that it was pissing out of the heavens.

"It's a miserable evening" says she, "why don't we light a grand turf fire in the front room?"

I moaned.

"Yiz are always moaning" says she.  "It's just a matter of throwing a few sticks in."

What I had remembered and she had forgotten was that we had a family lodging in our chimney earlier in the year.  So the problem lay in the simple fact that far from throwing a few sticks in to light a small fire, it was more a case of removing half a tree before I could even start.  

I reluctantly went in to examine the fireplace.  Sure enough, the throat above the hearth was blocked solid with twigs and small branches.  I gave them a tug and half a ton of tree and soot came cascading out onto the sitting room carpet.  I thought it might be an idea to get out some old sheets. 

I spread the sheets over the floor on top of the stuff that had fallen out and rammed my arm up the chimney.  More fucking twigs and branches.  This was going to be a big job.  I got out the rods.

I rammed the brush up the chimney and it promptly got stuck at the three foot mark.  I jiggled it furiously and more crap came down in an avalanche of pine cones, larch with a touch of beech, not to mention more soot.  After a lot of sweat I finally got it up far enough to attach another rod.  I was now at the six foot mark and still stuck.

Herself came into the room to see what all the crashing, banging and swearing was about.

"What the fuck?" she screeched.  "I only asked you to light the fire and I come in to find this mess.  And what the fuck are you doing with our best sheets?"

I explained that I could indeed have lit the fire as she had requested but pointed out that there would have been two consequences.  First of all the room would fill with smoke as the chimney was well and truly choked, and the other was that all that lovely dry wood that was choking the chimney would inevitably catch fire and would produce a blaze that would produce a flame like a space shuttle on full launch thrust and that we would be lucky if even the foundations survived the blaze.

She left the room in a huff.

It took me over an hour of brute force, patience and very strong language.  Branches continued to cascade onto the floor.  Soot overflowed off the hearth onto what I now know were our best sheets.  I eventually saw the cheerful sight of the brush sticking out of the chimney and waving gently in the rain.  I removed two very large sacks and a bucket of twigs which are enough kindling for a couple of years, or maybe enough to build a new tree.  There was also a considerable quantity of sheep's wool though no sign of a sheep, unless he's still stuck up there.  

I had to admire the persistence of a bird who would carry one twig at a time and drop it down a black hole until all twenty seven feet [or nine rods] was full enough to build a nest on top.  I'll kill him if he tries again next spring though.

I didn't have the energy to clear up the mess in the front room so I just left it so the place looks like a war zone.

I didn't have the energy either to light the fire.

Anyway the rain had stopped and she was quite content to forgo the idea of a turf fire and was happily playing on Farcebook..

Fucking women!


Firing blanks

I think I need a break.

I was in the happy position of having sweet fuck all to do today except cut the grass.  I had to wait until late afternoon though for the rain to start so I had an excuse not to.  It's pissing down now so grass cutting is firmly off the agenda.

So here I was doing nothing and wondering what all the things were that I never had time to do, and the thought crossed my mnd that there was a website that needed to be redesigned because, to put it bluntly, the existing site is shite.

I used to be quite good at designing sites.  I was sort of good enough to teach the subject and designed some sites for some pretty big organisations in my time.  But now I can't.

I didn't know there was some kind of Statute of Limitations or a weird Expiry Date on design abilities but apparently there is.  I now can't design my way out of a paper bag.  Any modicum of design ability [which wasn’t that plentiful even in the past] seems to have evaporated into the Autumn mists.  I am bereft of design.  I swear that if I got a pencil, a ruler and a sheet of bank paper I wouldn't even be able to draw a single straight line.

So I have been sitting here looking at what can only be described as a fucking mess on the screen that wouldn't even be up to the mark on Geocities.  I am amazed at my abilities to produce something that is actually worse than the current crap version, and I didn't think that was possible.  Obviously I have hidden talents.

So I keep scrapping it and staring at a blank page.

And staring at a blank page reminds me of the book Herself keeps nagging me to write.

So I thought I might as well switch to this site and stare at a blank page here.

Except it isn't blank any more.



In praise of Gutenberg

It's funny how one thing leads to another?

I mentioned a little while back that I had rejoined the library after an absence of some years.

That was fine.  I took a few books out and have already finished and returned a couple.  I did one of their online courses and finished it with an grand score of only 93% which was pathetic [must do better next time, as my old school reports used to say].  I also ordered a book for Herself.

This book ordering lark is a little minefield as I discovered.  I logged into the website and went into the book ordering section.  That allows a search of all books in all the libraries, so if your desired book is there, they'll have it delivered to your local branch.  Excellent!  The book herself wanted was listed so I ordered it.

A few days later I got an email to say it had arrived.  I was in the village the next day so I dropped into the library.  The librarian proudly presented me with a fucking box!  Somewhere there had been a mix-up, and they had just presented me with an audio book – ten fucking CDs!

Herself likes to read in bed, and staring at ten CDs doesn't really do much for the old brain.  She said she needed some way of listening to them.  Women can be so fucking picky!  So yesterday I went out and bought one of those portable CD players.  They are more or less obsolete these days so I picked up a brand new one for about €20.  I got home to find herself all excited – she had just found a second hand version of the one I had bought and it only cost €30!  There are some enterprising fuckers out there….

Anyhows, come bedtime, she settled down to listen to her audio book and everything was grand, until she started complaining – the reader was saying the same few words again and again.  This didn't make must sense in the context of the story so I had a listen in.  The fucking CD was scratched!

So now I have a brand new CD player and a box of scratched disks.  Now I have to go through the process of ordering the same book in readable format – i.e. on paper.

And Herself has decided she wants all my music put onto CDs [I have them stored as files] as she quite likes my selection.  Apart from Queen, apparently.  There's only about 95 Gigabytes which I presume I have to convert from MP3 to WAV [which will probably run to a Terabyte or two].

That's my spare time for the next few years neatly sorted then……

Dismantling the iPhone 7

So the iPhone 7 has hit the streets?

Be still my beating heart!

It seems that people queued overnight to lay their hands on the precious new device which varies in price from £539 up to £879.  Bloody hell!  It must be really something special to warrant a price like that?


Judging by the cheering and the sheer joy on the faces it is worth every penny?

Let's have a look at the brand spanking new features that are worth staying up all night for.

It's black!  Wow!  That is really some innovation isn't it?  But wait a minute… My phone is black and I only paid about €50 for it.

It's waterproof!  Right, I'll give them that one.  Mine isn't but then strangely enough I have never really felt the need to phone someone while at the bottom of a swimming pool.

It has no earphone socket!  Mine has, which means I can use any old earphones I happen to find lying around.  Not that I use the earphones much……..

It has a camera with an anti-shake feature!  My old Canon has that, and that's a few years old.

It has a 12 Megsomething camera.  Okay, my Canon is only 10 but I'm happy with that and literally wouldn't lose a night's sleep over it.

It has 2x zoom lens!  What the fuck?  My Canon has a 20x zoom lens with a digital zoom on top of that.  I can photograph a fly fornicating a mile away.  So a 2x zoom is hardly something to crow about.

So what else does it do [or in the case of earphones – not do]?  Presumably you can make phone calls on it?  Mine does that too.  Presumably you can install applications on it like a mini computer?  I can do that on mine, though I much prefer my laptop as it has a proper keyboard [even if it is dyslexic].  Does it make a cup of tea?  Can you have sex with it?  Does it mow the lawn?  Does it do anything that is worth almost a month's pension?

I feel sorry for those sad fucks who have been so brainwashed by the advertising that they have to have something for no other reason than it's new.  Their self esteem is so low that they cannot enter a social group without having the latest model.

They truly are the knuckledraggers of the Selfie Generation.

Where life is not so sweet

I half watched a television programme the other night.

The television tends to get switched on in the evening as the flickering images seem to calm Herself down a bit.  I rarely watch the content though as I have some respect for my few remaining brain cells.

The programme was some studio discussion thing and they were waffling on about NAMA or the Apple Tax business or something, but the presenter was easy on the eye so I let it run.  

After several interminable commercial breaks the subject switched to the gubmint's proposed tax on sugary drinks.  I decided to give it ten percent of my attention instead of the previous two percent.

It was the usual shite.  Some woman who was supposed to be an expert on obesity spouted all the usual verbal diarrhea about how successful other countries had been with their taxes and that if we didn't apply our own taxes then none of us would fit through a doorway by 2020 and there would be obese blimps dying in the gutters everywhere.  She could have lost a few pounds herself, incidentally.

There was one phrase that Fat Cow insisted on using though, to the effect that sugary drinks are "empty calories" [surely if they are empty, they’re harmless?] and that they had no nutritional value whatsoever and really should be banned altogether.

So, to extrapolate what Fat Cow was saying was that if it didn't give any nutritional value then it shouldn't be consumed?  Let's look at that for a second.  If you don't derive a health benefit then you shouldn't do it?  So what about such things as football, motor racing, bird watching or indeed just about any pastime?  None of them give any "health benefits" so maybe they should all be banned [or taxed out of existence]?

But let's confine ourselves to food.  If we ban everything that has "no nutritional value" then what happens to sweets, chocolates, cakes or biscuits?  Surely if they tax sugary drinks then they'll have to tax bars of chocolate, bags of sweets and ban Christmas cakes?  Every drink will have to get the chop and we'll all be confined to distilled water?

What Fat Cow never mentioned was the simple word "pleasure".  It obviously is something that is so lacking in her existence that it never even crosses her mind?  It is so completely alien to her way of thinking that people might want to consume something because it tastes nice?

Once again Fat Cow has confirmed my opinion that all Antis live in a grey dull joyless world.  Theirs is a world where everything must be analysed and if there is the slightest hint of pleasure involved then it has to be bad,  Everything we do must have a purpose and that purpose is health and longevity.  Our whole lives must be lived with the express aim of living as long as possible without a single thought for joy or happiness.

The sooner people wake up and lynch these killjoys, the better.

Secondhand hangovers

You know that hangover feeling when your head is pounding in merciless waves?

It feels like someone has inserted a balloon into your brain and they're rapidly inflating and deflating it and beating you over the head with a rolled newspaper at the same time?

Well that's what I have today.

Except I don't have a headache.

I didn't even have a drink last night.

What I have is a sort of headache-by-proxy.

I was up very early this morning for no other reason that I woke early and couldn't get back to sleep.  So there I was, sitting there supping my first mug of tea and enjoying my first pipe of the day when it started.

Bang!  Bang!  Bang!

Someone, somewhere was hammering something very loud before eight in the morning!

It has been going on ever since.  It sounds like they have placed a twenty foot scaffolding plank with its ends supported on chairs and they're frantically hammering the bejayzus out of it using a heavy hammer.  It has been going on so long that the actual noise has ceased to register, but I am just conscious of this pounding as if it were a headache.

I don't know what he [or she] is at and I don't really care.  One way or another I'm not going out to investigate as it's too damn noisy out there. 

I don't know what to do about my thumping head.  There's no point in taking an aspirin as I don't have an actual headache and I don't have any secondhand aspirin which would presumably be a cure?

I suppose I could always shoot the banger?

Grandad the Sage

I received an email the other day.

People write to me for all sorts of reasons but this one was looking for a drop of advice and reassurance.

The mail itself was private so I won't publish it here, but will instead give a general gist of its contents.

Basically a man is worried about his stepson.  Because of a nasty car smash some time ago [involving fatalities] his fifteen year old stepson had developed a nervous tic which apparently was very bad.  The stepson took up smoking a while back and my correspondent noticed that after a cigarette that the tic disappeared.

I'm not quite sure why he wrote to me.  Was he looking for an expert opinion?  Was he looking for reassurance?  He posed his mail as a query – had I heard of smoking reducing tics, but I think there was more to it than that.

I am never quite sure what to say in these circumstances.  I delayed in replying [and even considered not replying, though that would have been taking the easy way out] but wrote a reply today.

First of all I had to lay out my stall. 

I hope you're not crediting me with more knowledge than I actually have.  My attitude to smoking is based on logic and a lifetimes experience rather than any degrees in science.  When I hear all this rubbish about "second hand smoke" I just think back a generation to a time where nearly everyone smoked and no one gave it a second thought, and certainly there were no heart attacks or cancers caused by a whiff of smoke.

Obviously I have redacted some of this –

Nicotine does have many benefits.  Of course these are never mentioned nowadays because nicotine has become the Great Evil.  The benefits are many but one is that nicotine has a calming effect, so […] seems to be feeling that effect.  If he feels better after a cigarette then why not go along with that?  If he feels a benefit, is it right to stop that benefit?

I thought I had better explain a bit further on the whole smoking business.

I neither condone nor condemn smoking.  It is none of my business what other people do and this is my argument all along.  If you […] are happy with […] smoking that that’s all that matters.  The “dangers” are grossly exaggerated and there may [or may not] be a small risk attached.  If the benefits outweigh the risks [and it sounds to me like they certainly do] then that's fine.

There was a bit more to the reply but that's the bare bones of it.

My feeling is one of sadness.  A man has to write to an anonymous old codger looking for advice and information.  He should have been able to chat with a doctor or physician but was obviously afraid to do so, which I find unutterably sad and ethically wrong.  But this is the world that the Anti-smokers have created – one of fear and suppression of information and the truth.

Here is a lad who has found a real and substantial benefit from smoking but will any professional condone that?  Not a chance in hell. 

What has the world come to when a man cannot talk to a doctor about his stepson's wellbeing, and has to approach an old fart up the mountains?

Tomorrow’s World today

Way back when God was a wee lad, I used to watch "Tomorrows World" on the BBC.

My dad and I loved that programme when the reception was good and there wasn't too much interference.

Raymond Baxter would come on in glossy black and white and tell us about all these new ideas that we were going to be enjoying in the near future, which back in the sixties seemed like exciting times. 

I remember him [or maybe it was Judith Hann] telling us about little plastic disks that were going to replace the good old reliable cassette tape.  Oh, how we laughed!

I remember them telling us about a new-fangled idea of cooking our food using radio waves.  Oh, how we laughed!

One of their more fanciful ideas was that of the video-phone where you could see who you were talking to.  They even had a demonstration where you could just make out a blurry face on a little three inch black and white screen. They said it would never get better than that though because the wires weren't up to the amount of information needed.  Oh, how we went hysterical over that one!

I got chatting to the neighbours yesterday.  They are looking very well, I must say.  I should maybe point out that they are currently in Washington and we chatted via Skype.  The quality was excellent – full High Definition colour, no fuzzing, no delays, no distortion – it was like chatting over the fence.

They did actually want to show me what was over the fence so they carried their laptop out and raised it up.  I felt quite seasick with the motion, and it was ony a road over the fence so I'm not sure what the object of the exercise was, but never mind.  It was nice chatting to them though once the motion sickness had settled.  I silently doffed my cap to Raymond and Judith – yiz were right all those fifity years ago.  I'm sorry I laughed.

This morning the power went.  Puff!  Nothing.  Back to boiling kettles on the gas and no telephone or Interweb.

It was like being back in Yesterday's World.

Only in colour.

My keyboard is unheathy

I know how to spell [usually].

I know how to type, though I'm not a touch typist.  I can fly around the keyboard provided I can see the keys.

Why the fuck can't I combine the two?

Yes – the old Keyboard Dyslexia is getting worse.

Somehow a word form in my mind, and the spelling of that word is intuitive, but when I try typing that word something else entirely appears on the screen.  Sometimes it's transpositioning of letters [when I typed "something" above, it appeared as "smoething"].  Sometimes I go to type a word and a completely different word appears.  I go to type "the" and "a" appears on the screen.  It's not a case of typing too fast or anything like that – it just happens.

Lately the Dyslexia has taken a new turn.  It has started omitting letters.  It's not a case of stuck keys or breadcrumbs under ["unter"???] the keyboard, as the letters can be quite random.  In a lot of cases it's the letter "l" so instead of typing "In a lot of cases it's the letter", I get "In a ot of cases it's the etter" which frankly ["franly"? Now the fucking "k" is at it!] makes my musings somewhat more unintelligible than usual.

I have started typing a lot slower and am being very deliberate with the keys I press.  That isn't having much success as in revenge it is doubling up on letters, so instead of "letters" I get "lletters", which sort of proves that the particular key isn't being under sensitive, or maybe that it is being latently over sensitive.

My scribbling has now slowed to a crawl.  Instead of flying across the keys I am picking away, one finger at a time, and then spending a considerable period going back over each sentence clearing out all the errors.  Damn those squiggly red lines!

I used to publish my musings around [“are”?] one in the afternoon.  I don't know why as I never thought of myself having a deadline – it just happened that way.  But now I'm publishing later and later because of all the damned editing.

Maybe I need a new laptop?

Or even a new aptop?