Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A few oddments

I went to Oxford to see my daughter today (she is a student there). As always it is a wonderful excuse for some culture. No, sorry – that should read gluttony. If you ever get the chance to go to Oxford, you must try G & D’s ice cream. Make mine three scoops of crème Anglaise with the hot chocolate sauce…yummm….heaven…
Oh, sorry I digress.
On the way there I read the Metro, the free paper available at the railway station.
It is a wonderful source of information.
For sometime I have wondered if people would ring the NHS swine flu hotline under false pretences and get hold of Tamiflu. Well, according to the Metro this devious practice is happening, and people are making money from flogging Tamiflu at car boot sales.
To anybody out there who is taking Tamiflu unnecessarily, you need to realize that it is not without side effects, and should only be taken by those who need it.

The side effects, in case you want to know are: nausea, diarrhoea, fatigue, headache, insomnia, nose bleeds and rashes. (Very rarely it can cause: hepatitis, hallucinations in young people, and a horrible condition that makes your skin slough off – (called toxic epidermal necrolysis, if you really want to know). Also fake Tamiflu is being sold on the internet.

Health Warning - Obtaining Tamiflu using a fake ID can lead to prosecution.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Witch Hunt

Three thousand people applied for the job of resident witch at the Wookey Hole caves in Somerset. The interviews were today. I’m not surprised that it was so popular - the pay is £50,000 a year!
The downside is that the successful applicant will have to live in a cave, and perform ‘magic’, especially at Halloween.
Apparently an old lady lived in the caves in medieval times, and got the blame for crop failures and disease (as they did in those days – now we just blame the government for that sort of stuff). She was said to have been turned to stone by a splash of holy water.
The modern witch will be part of a tourist venture, and will entertain visitors.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

What do you do when you get dumped?

On the BBC news this morning I was very concerned when I watched artist Jasper Joffe talking about selling all his possessions. He did not go into details, but he looked very unhappy.
I was intrigued by this, because I was worried that he might be depressed. Selling all your possessions is a drastic thing to do – it is a renunciation of the past. Sadly, possessions can be removed from ones life, but painful emotions and feelings stay with you, until the pain and hurt have taken their course. This can take a few weeks for the lucky ones or last a lifetime for others.

I did a bit of research and found that Jasper had been jilted by his girlfriend.

Getting dumped or rejected by someone you care about is one of the worst and most painful experiences to go through. I’m sure most of you will have been through this. It is hell.
On a lighter note, Jasper painted the above picture of his girl friend. To be honest to my untrained eye it does not look that flattering. Was she a fake tan addict?
Maybe she was not as wonderful as you thought Jasper, if this picture is a true representation of her.
Jasper - If you can see that she was not perfect, and maybe feel a bit angry about the situation, instead of beating yourself up - you will be able to start moving on.
We wish you luck and hope you feel happy again soon.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Finders keepers, losers weepers?

What would you do if you found something of value lying on the ground in front of you?
I suspect most of you would hand the item in, being a really honest group of people.
Well, that would be the right thing to do legally (and morally).
A couple from Swindon found a lottery ticket on a supermarket floor, and cashed it in - it was worth £30,000.
They went on a spending spree with it.
The person who had lost the ticket, reported it missing, and was able to prove this. The case went to court, and the couple who found the ticket got an eleven month suspended sentence.

In law, you are not entitled to keep something that has been ‘lost’, but you are entitled to keep something that has been ‘abandoned’.

If I saw a lottery ticket lying on a supermarket floor, I would just assume it was rubbish, and leave it there.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Naughty Vincent Crabbe

Harry Potter star Jamie Waylett, who plays bully Vincent Crabbe, has been sentenced today to 120 hours of community service for growing cannabis.
The police stopped Waylett and his pal John Innis under the Terrorism Act, for taking a photo of their patrol car. When police searched their black Audi they found several bags of cannabis. Waylett had pictures of his cannabis growing enterprise, which he had set up in his bedroom, on his mobile phone.
Waylett has a history of drug abuse, and was caught snorting coke a few years ago.
Waylett and his friend sound like a right pair of thick divs, who were just asking to be picked up by the police.

Some of my fellow bloggers despair about the abysmal state of our society. The widespread use of drugs, and associated out of control behaviour are deeply worrying.

What will the brains of these people be like in twenty years time?
Will there be any responsible people left in society, or will every body be drugged up and out of it?

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Bingo players knit voodoo dolls of chancellor

This is an amusing credit crunch story (or not if you happen to like bingo or Alistair Darling)
Furious bingo players in Cheshire knitted voodoo dolls of Mr. Darling after he increased tax on bingo. Margaret Knowles, 73, said: “Alistair Darling is stabbing people in the back. Now we want him to know how it feels.”
Ninety clubs have closed in the UK in the past couple of years. This is on a par with the decline in the pub trade.

It looks as though people will have to resort to alternative pastimes, with the steady decline of these more traditional entertainments.

Oh, Alistair, if you are experiencing pain in any parts of your anatomy, you know who to blame!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

University job cuts

Worrying figures published today reveal that there are going to be substantial job losses in higher education. It is estimated that around 6,000 jobs are to go, with 403 job losses in the West Midlands.

This is disgusting.

I remember Tony Bliar getting into number 10 on the back of the mantra ‘Education, education, education’
Well, it seems to me that the government think it is all right to bail out banks, and send people off to be slaughtered in wars, but when it comes to paying for all of this, then it is soft targets like universities and students that are being made to suffer.


‘Education, education, education’ was something the government promised, raising our hopes of a better future. Now they are reneging on their promises. So where do we go from here?

Propane Nightmares (again)

The great thing about having your own blog and it being the summer holiday is that you can quote from Wikipedia! During term time at Uni it would be tantamount to academic suicide to go anywhere near this fount of all knowledge. I decided to look for an explication of Propane Nightmares. Here’s what it said – the music video was loosely themed around a cult called Heaven’s Gate, who decided to hold a mass suicide event by drinking poison. The final part of the video shows two members escaping.

The Heaven’s Gate people were a UFO cult, based in California, lead by Marshall Applewhite, and Bonnie Nettles. They believed that the earth was about to be ‘recycled’ and that they had to ‘escape’ i.e. to turn against the ‘next level’ that was being offered.

The cult members were expected to live a monastic and ascetic existence. Members were not allowed to be alone, and everything was recorded and monitored.
The suicides took place in 1997.

It is frightening how charismatic figures with strange beliefs can drag vulnerable people into their delusional belief systems, and persuade them to kill themselves. The cult seems to have been run by people who were completely paranoid, and controlling. I did not know any of this background information. It is truly shocking and horrible.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Propane nightmares by Pendulum

I just love this!
The lyrics are a bit weird, but I’ve had a great time debating what they are about with other Pendulum fans. Feel free to leave your suggestions about the meaning. The video is weird too – but the music is stupendous – enjoy!!!

Here are the lyrics - unfortunately they appear in continuous prose here on blogger.

Something’s tearing me downAnd downCan’t help but feel it’s coming from youShe’s a gunshot brideWith a trigger criesI just wonder what we’ve gotten our selves intoIn a trail of fire I know we will be free againIn the end we will be oneIn a trail of fire I’ll burn before you bury meSet your sights for the sun
Mind is willingSoul remainsThis woman cannot be savedFrom the drawn into the fireMind is willingSoul remainsThis woman cannot be savedFrom the drawn into the fireAny dangerBring it on home (4x)
Much to weak to jump yourselfHeal the wounds or crack the shellLift yourself from once belowMuch too weak to jump yourselfHeal the wounds or crack the shellLift yourself from once belowPraise the angerBring it on home (4x)
In a trail of fire I know we will be free againIn the end we will be oneIn a trail of fire Ill burn before you bury meSet your sights for the sunBring it on home

Monday, 13 July 2009

Speed writing – a new definition?

As a creative and professional writing student, I am interested in what goes on in the real world of journalism and book production. Michael Jackson died just over a fortnight ago, but already publishing houses are racing against each other to produce hardcover biographies. Harper Collins is hoping to be the first

How did they do this so quickly?

Well, Harper Collins are said to have tasked a freelance writer with the job of producing 10,000 words in 48 hours. This is a mind boggling feat, and the writer must have been totally knackered at the end of it.

The book, Michael Jackson – Legend, Hero, Icon, will be released for sale on 17th July.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Go on – we dare you!

In the press today there is yet more on the continuing saga of political ordure.

According to the Mail online, MPs have been given an ultimatum by the Fees Office to produce documentary evidence of their second home arrangements by the 31st of July. Some MPs feel angry about this, and blame the Fees Office for leaking details of their expenses to the press. Instead they are threatening not to cooperate. Some are even threatening to resign.

Do we value them so much that we are bothered if they resign?
I say – let them get on with it, the sooner the better. We have had enough of duck-houses and mortgage scams.

I think it just shows how out of touch with reality a lot of MPs are.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

In praise of Big Ben

Like the queen, Big Ben has two birthdays. Today marks the 150th anniversary of the first chime, although the clock started ticking on 31st May 1859, and the quarter chimes were added on 7th of September that year.

Big Ben was originally the name given to the bell. It has chimed in the hours, centuries and millennium. It only lasted two months, before cracking, after it was first installed. Over the years it has suffered damage from various causes, but has been skilfully repaired.

The clock has been a steadfast icon, in happy times and sad ones - marking the passage of time for all of us. It is a magnificent example of Victorian engineering, and was once the most accurate and well maintained clock in the world. It needs winding up three times a week.

Last year Big Ben was voted Britain’s favourite attraction.

After sunset today, the message ‘Happy Birthday Big Ben 150 years 1859-2009’ will appear on the tower.
I love the reassuring sound of the chimes, and wish this symbol of Britain a long and happy future.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Who’s bugging you?

Here is another load of stink to hit the headlines. Journalists have been using private investigators to find out information for scoops. The methods used have involved phone tapping and collecting personal information such as tax records and itemized phone bills. On the BBC breakfast news programme this morning, John Prescott, one of the victims, announced that he would be requesting an urgent investigation into this. He also queried why the Metropolitan Police force had done nothing, although they knew about the problem.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Group is behind a string of out of court settlements, designed to hush up the victims of this gross invasion of privacy. David Cameron’s director of communications, Andy Coulson, used to be the deputy editor of the News of the World when this was taking place – so what is going on?

I can understand journalists being desperate for the salacious tit bits of the rich and famous, but is this just a step too far?
How low should journalists stoop for scandal and gossip items?
Are the powerful, rich and famous of society entitled to some privacy, or is it in order to ruthlessly peruse them for the sake of selling papers?

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Hot dog eating championships

Here is another mad thing to do at week ends.
For the past ninety-four years Coney Island has hosted this event. Apparently it all began on July 4th 1916, when four immigrants had a row about which of them was the most patriotic American. They decided to settle this by seeing which of them could eat the most hot dogs in ten minutes. Luckily there was a Nathan’s hot dog stand near by, serving this traditional American delicacy. Mr. Sehgal managed thirteen, and was declared the winner.
The competition has gone from strength to strength, and this year’s champion, Joey Chestnut, managed sixty-eight in ten minutes. Joey, aged twenty-five and weighing in at 218lbs beat his arch rival Takeru (Tsunami) Kobayashi, by two hot dogs. Joey won $20,000 for his Herculean effort, and was allowed to take home the coveted mustard belt.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Anyone for tennis?

This evening people will be rushing home from work to watch the battle of the two Andys. I always feel like a freak at this time of year because I cannot understand what pleasure people get from watching tennis. To me it seems like a total waste of time. Where is the excitement in watching two or more individuals lobbing a ball at each other over a net?
I know people who find the Wimbledon season the most wonderful time of year, and talk about it in wistful and reverential terms. Are they total saddos – or is it me?
Well, I won’t be watching it – I’m off to watch some paint dry – far more exciting I think!!!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

More misery for students

As you all probably know tuition fees are going up next term – this is not a surprise, unfortunately grants and loans are to be frozen at current levels .This will add to the level of student debt.
As a result of the recession, Universities have seen record numbers of applicants, but the number of places has not increased. This means that there will be fierce competition for pre-existing places – plus having to pay more for a place.
Students have enough stress already with trying to cope with degree courses, let alone having to worry constantly about money.
It is not fair that students are forced to suffer further hardships, when the fat cat bankers are allowed to keep their ridiculous pensions and bonuses after their greedy gambling has left the world in mind-boggling debt.
Will students protest about this?
I doubt it – they are too busy holding down jobs on top of trying to study, and do not have the time or energy to complain.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Identity cards – Do you think they are a good idea?

I can’t believe it is exactly two years since Gordon brown became Prime minister. An awful lot has happened during that intervening period, including changes in policies. One of the most controversial topics is ID cards.

As I see it, the government is sending out mixed messages about them.
ID cards were first suggested by John Major, but he was quickly ignored. David Blunkett (2001) resurrected the idea, but there were concerns that it would be a gold mine for fraudsters. Last year the Home Office statistics revealed that 60 % of the population were in favour of them, but this figure is now thought to have dropped to a 50-50 - thus no consensus. The cost of producing them may now be a major reason why we have this sudden hotchpotch of confusion.

My advice to the government would have been to calmly consider what benefits the population would gain by them, balanced against any objections and drawbacks. Having decided what was in the general best interest of all of us, to then make it either compulsory for all, or not have them. What I can’t stand is all the dithering about. This hybrid situation is ridiculous, unfair, and does not inspire confidence.