My little getaway

Last week John Mallon wrote about his Renault 4.

My first car was an Austin Mini.

Austin Mini

I bought it from some acquaintance of my parents back in the early seventies, and to say it was in shit order was giving it credit that wasn't due.

It was my first car though and I didn't give a damn.  It was mine.  All mine.  I loved it.

My Mini was one of the very early models.  All those fancy gizmos like radios, rear window heaters and wing mirrors were all but a future dream.   To say it was basic would be a gross exaggeration.

Starting the car was relatively simple.  You put the key in the lock and twist.  You then press a button on the floor to start the engine.  So far so good.  Assuming the engine is still running [quite a big assumption] you gently ease out the clutch to start moving.  Now if you weren't gentle enough on the clutch the engine would jerk on its mountings, the gear lever would shoot back striking the chassis and knock it out of gear.  It was quite a good anti theft device.

The photograph above is very similar to my banger.  However mine didn't have the chrome stripes over the wheels as they started waving around so I removed them.  The hubcaps were a luxury I couldn't afford to replace.  The paintwork in the photo is suspiciously new looking too, whereas mine lacked shine which was compensated for by large quantities of rust.  I also got tired of removing the radiator grill to access the engine so in the end I just dumped it.

One minor defect the car had when I bought it was that it didn't have any brakes.  This as a minor matter as to stop, it was a case of pumping the brake pedal furiously well in advance of stopping.  I had to revise that tactic though as one night [OK, I had quite a few pints on me] I left it too late to start pumping and smacked into the back of a car at some traffic lights.  I decided to get the breaks fixed.  I brought it to a garage and told 'em I wanted the whole brake system overhauled. 

The next day I collected the car, went to drive home but at the first junction the brake pedal hit the floor.  Pumping was useless and I happily drove into a hedge.  I drove [very fucking slowly] back to the garage, and told the manager to take it for a test drive.  He came back a few minutes later with a very white face and admitted that they hadn't bothered their arses looking at the master cylinder which was completely fucked.  They fixed it.

I drove that car the length and breadth of Ireland and it was a rare journey where the car didn't break down.  At various times I had to strip the cylinder block down at the side of the road, or tie something up with a length of rope. Once I had to drive forty miles with no water in the radiator to find a place that would sell me a hose.  That car taught me everything I needed to know about auto-mechanics and a good deal more.

That car had real personality.  It had moss and ferns growing inside in the little channels that the side windows slid in.  I used to water the ferns in dry weather.  It also liked to keep me guessing and never developed the same fault twice in succession. 

One night it was stolen from outside the pub.  I was gutted.

I got a call from the Law a couple of days later to say they had found it.  Apparently it had been used as a getaway car in some heinous crime or other.  They were probably caught as they tried to fix the starter motor or the clutch or something at the side of the road.  It gave me a laugh anyway – my trusty old banger as a getaway car?!!

One morning I went out to drive into work.

I turned the key in the lock and pressed the button on the floor.  The engine started, sweet as a nut.

I eased up the clutch.

There was a loud thump from the front, followed by complete silence.

I took a look.

The engine mountings had finally given way and the engine in its entirety was now sitting on the driveway.

Somehow, motoring has never quite been the same since.



You may wonder why I refer to our illustrious rulers as the "gubmint"?

it is quite simple really.  I hold them in such deep contempt that to use the word "government" is to afford them a level of respect which frankly they just don't deserve.

I don't hate them as such.  Hatred is a self defeating emotion that would burn me up and wouldn't affect them one iota.  Contempt is better as I can then justify my ignoring them and all their actions.  Giving them titles such as Minister or Taoiseach implies a level of respect which is non existent, and implies that they are somehow superior to me, which they are not.  They are technically my servants though you wouldn't think so by their attitudes and actions.

There are only two things that really annoy me about them.  Only two, you ask?  Well, they are two fairly important factors.

The first is their attitude that they are entitled to my money and possessions.  They seem to think they own me rather than owe me.  There is virtually no aspect of my life where they don't try to skim some of my earnings.  They demand a tax on my pension, my house, my water, and virtually everything I buy.  They examine my accounts to make sure I am not spending too much and to see if I may have some "undeclared income".  They watch every move to see if they can raid extra cash.  If I save some money, they skim some off that.  If I spend it, they skim some off that too.

And if I fail to pay them what they think is due to them, they can get an attachment order and just take it directly out of my pension before I even get to see it.  I get the bones after they have picked off the meat.  I would love to hear an argument that this isn't downright theft of private property.

The other thing that really pisses me off is their attitude that they know best what's good for me.  I am no longer an individual but just a number who has to be told what I can and cannot do, sometimes "for the public good" and sometimes because I may harm myself.

In my book, the individual is supreme and trumps "society" except in those cases where I may harm others.  If my actions pose no threat to others then it is none of the fucking gubmint's business what I do.  If I want to smoke, drink or eat fatty foods that is my business and no one else's.  If I want to install an extra power socket in the house, why should I have to "obey the law" and get a "government approved" rip-off merchant to do it?  If I want to drive without wearing a seat belt or cycle without a helmet it is no one's business but my own.  If I want to put cyanide in my e-cigarette then what fucking business is it of theirs?

Contrary to the gubmint's opinion, I know the risks involved in my actions.  If I want to take those risks that is entirely up to me.  The fact that they seem to think they know better than me shows that they have zero respect for my intelligence and experience so why should I have any respect whatsoever for them?

So I shall continue to ignore their actions and their attempts to rob me and rule my life, and shall continue to treat them with the same contempt with which they treat me.


Behind the scenes

Quite a lot goes on in this site that you will never see.


I suppose you all think it's just a question of rolling out of bed, bashing a few keys and then fucking off to do my day's business?

There is quite a lot to be done.  There are spam messages which have to be cleaned out otherwise they clog up the drains.  I get a couple of thousand of those a week.  There is the occasional time where I take the database to bits and give it a good scrub and polish [it’s amazing how dusty databases can get if ignored].  There are backups.  Oh boy, the backups!!  Files to be created, downloaded and then stored in large cardboard boxes down in the shed.  It’s tedious, but it has to be done just in case the whole site gets fucked up [which does happen].  And then there are updates to be done, and the occasional round with a spanner and screwdriver to tighten up any loose screws or bolts.

Then there is security.

I don't know why, but there appears to be a large population out there determined to get into my engine room.  What the hell do they expect to find in there?  Is Supershadow desperately trying to get in so he can post his messages and inspire the world?  Are anarchists trying to hack in and spread the message of anarchy through my site?  I think I'm doing reasonably well without their help?

The way they do it is to write a programme that picks a user name and then floods the site with random passwords in the hopes of getting in.  The usual name they pick is "admin" which used to be the default user name, which I haven't used in years.  Lately they have been getting more inventive and have tried "headrambles@headrambles", "" and occasionally obscure ones like "wp-login.php?registration=disabled" or "wpengine".

Naturally I am not going to say how I do it, but I have a little yoke that sits in wait for these hackers, and if they try to guess a password they get locked out for a period of not less than 60 days with no remission or chance of appeal.  They aren't even allowed legal representation or indeed a fair trial.  It's off to the slammer and no arguing.

Lately they have been concentrating on this site.  Maybe it's the time of year?  Maybe they are bored with school holidays?  I don't know but they are trying at the rate of several dozens a day, and unfortunately I have to check each attempt to see if they are getting anywhere near my user name.  So far they they haven't come even remotely close but it's better to be careful?  Each one is sent screaming to the cells where they get no food or water and if they get hungry they can damn well catch one of the thousands of rats that abound down there. If you thought Abu Ghraib was bad, you should see my set up.  Fuck them.

I do wish they'd piss off though.

They are exceedingly tiresome.

And my dungeon is nearly full to capacity.

Ireland to introduce death penalty

There was an article in the paper yesterday.

Well, actually there were quite a few articles but one in particular stood out for me.

Over a third of drivers killed weren’t wearing seat belts

This morning the article had somehow morphed into a different one.

Training proposed for first-time speed offenders

The two articles had the same photograph [our minister for transport who has obviously just farted] but each took a different approach to the same subject.

What caught my eye in the first one was the sub-heading which stated categorically-  "RSA warns that another 100 people will die this year unless behaviour changes".  Now I took this to mean that our illustrious Road Safety Authority are going to behead another 100 motorists unless we behave ourselves.  I think that is a reasonable interpretation?  It seems a bit drastic but then nothing surprises me about our gubmint these days.

Sadly the sub-heading had changed in the new article – "RSA warns another 100 people may die this year unless road behaviour changes" – which is a lot less fun.  Someone must have told them overnight that beheadings are not quite acceptable in this day and age?

Of course the whole thing is a load of bollox.  Roads are dangerous places, we know that.  There again there is danger in just about every thing we do, but roads do tend to be a little more dangerous than say sleeping in bed or sitting in a deck chair.  When people take a car for a drive they know they are doing something that may involve a  little blood or at the very least, a dent in the paintwork.  If some people choose to add some spice to their danger by not wearing a seatbelt then that is entirely up to them.

So a third of drivers weren't wearing seatbelts?  So fucking what?  It was entirely their choice made of their own free will and didn't impact [if you’ll pardon the word] on anyone else.  They threw the dice and they lost, and that has fuck all to do with me or any other car owner in the country.

Of course the articles are full of "frightening trends" and "shocking statistics" which are presumably there to indicate that our gubmint really cares.  What they don't seem to realise is that a combination of roads and cars is going to lead to fatalities no matter what they do.  They could take every car off the roads bar one, and that one car could still skid off a bend into a tree?

Come to think of it, how many of those drivers deliberately didn't wear a belt?  The suicide statistics in this country have been alarming over the last few years, and driving a car at a bridge parapet is as good a way as any?

"Fatalities have also risen in the 56-65 age bracket, from 11 deaths in 2104 to 17 this year. Ms Murdock said complacency was a concern and with older drivers it could be a “mid-life crisis”, an attempt to recapture their youth through speeding."

Oh sweet fuck!  There is a small increase in a particular group and instantly we are all suffering from a mid-life crisis and are speeding around in souped up Volkswagon Golfs with go-faster stripes on the side?  I put a dent in Paddy Murray's car down in the village and I am therefore trying to recapture my lost youth?  Is it any fucking wonder I sneer at them?  Idiotic cretinous morons!

“You have drivers out there who have passengers who are usually very talkative but then are quiet in the car. That’s an indication very often that you’re a bad driver. If the person doesn’t talk to you when you’re driving the chances are they’re afraid, so you need to look at your driving.”

Good God Almighty!  I have heard some rubbish bit this is a world beater.  Maybe when I'm a passenger I just like to sit quietly and enjoy the view?  Maybe they should make it compulsory to talk incessantly to the driver [which is guaranteed to distract them] and thereby make them a better driver?

The best one though is the bit I kept 'til last.

Ms Murdock said “you have a 50:50 chance of dying in a collision without a seat belt on, no matter how minor it is. Many of those collisions were minor in nature and unfortunately because the occupants were not wearing seat belts the outcome was much more serious.”

Here we go, folks.

There is no such thing as a safe level of smoking drinking eating driving.

On being a wise old sage

Why is it that people seem to think I have something to offer?

Since I started this lark I have been asked for quite a few interviews.  They have tended to tail off a bit in the last few years but I still get the occasional one, usually from some student who is doing a thesis on idiotic old farts on the Interwebs.

I don't mind them.  They can be a bit of craic, and anyway who am I to stand in the way of the advancement of science and understanding [even if it is only concerned with the murky corners of the Senile Web]?

There are a couple of questions which invariably crop up.

Why did you start?

How the fuck do I know, even if I could remember that far back?  As far as I recall, it was a case of here is a server and here is some software so let's stick the two together and see what happens.  It's a bit like giving a kid a car and a set of keys and asking why he started driving?  Why does anyone start anything?  Did I have some Machiavellian plot to take over people's minds and eventually dominate the universe?  I think that post was already taken by Supershadow anyway?

The other one that is the cause of some internal merriment is What is Head Rambles about?

How the fuck does anyone categorise my musings?  Some say Personal, some say Political, some say Humour, some say A Load of Bollox. 

How the fuck would I know what it's about?

I only write the damned thing.