Friday, April 21, 2017

Election 2017: The one we did not see coming

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, had an announcement to make before the press in Downing Street earlier this week. Nobody knew what was intended. Her decision to ask for a dissolution of Parliament and to hold a General Election in early June was a genuine surprise.

This an election that feels wrong. The Parliament of 2015 is sufficiently fresh to be representative; the one-off Referendum on EU membership notwithstanding. May seems to be determined to remake the Conservative Party in her own image rather than to care much about what is right for the country.

I suppose I had better keep an eye on things though I have an uneasy feeling that after all the soundbites, the pointless TV coverage of politicians visiting factories and shops, schools and hospitals, the sloganising and the desperate search by the media for the story of the day, we will be left with a Parliament pretty similar to the one we have now.

We do know that it will no longer be graced by George Osborne, one-time Chancellor, who is retiring (for the moment) nor by one N. Farage, who has decided not to undergo the humiliation of another trouncing at the polls and is not going to stand. And that is about all we do know at present.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

There's gold in them thar pianos

The news story was fascinating enough - a hoard of some 913 gold sovereigns packed inside a piano, discovered many years later by a tuner and subsequently declared as Treasure (and therefore Crown property, albeit a reward will go to the honest folk who declared it).

But the bit that grips is surely the wonderful dead-pan statement buried in the report

The inquest heard 50 people came forward laying claim to the hoard, but coroner John Ellery ruled their true owner remained unknown.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking ...?


I take up my pen in this year of Our Lord 20--. T'was in the spring, just as the daffodils were a-dying back and the new lambs gambolling in the meadows that the piano tuning man came to stay at my father's inn. Times were hard and we never turned away a customer, not even a musician. He hoisted his great black tuner's bag on the counter and requested lodging.
"Show him to the best room" said my father and I beckoned the old man to follow. Once in the room he grasped my wrist
"I bain't got much time, younker. See here, I knows where there's gold, gold a-plenty, but I'm too old and infirm to go find it. I need a bright young lad to seek it out and I'll give 'ee a full tenth of all that ye bring back"

I was much amazed at his talk but said nothing. He reached into his bag and pulled out a gleaming tuning fork which he pointed at my heart.

"Swear to be true and not to cross me or this will sing to you and no mistake". I had no wish to have the fork pinged against my ear and did as he bade. He relaxed then and unfolded a grimy newssheet. "Now then" he said "This is where it is. Stuck down the back of this here piano over in Shropshire. If you goes there and says it was you what put it there, why they'll give it thee, and you bring it back here to me." 

"But sir" I ventured "Why should they believe me? This says the gold is many old coins, which surely someone of my age would never possess"
"I'll tell 'ee the way of it. You shall don this here piano-tuner's hat and this here piano-tuner's cloak and shall walk with a stoop and a quaver in your voice, and hold your tuning fork like this, and say you hid the gold many years ago for fear of foreign invasion."

His plan seemed fairly sound and so it was that I set forth on the quest of the golden treasure of Shropshire. But how I fared is a story for another day... 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Getting Knotted

I thought this was a belated April Fool story but it seems to be genuine. A scientific study on why shoelaces come undone, even though they have been carefully done up, shows that this is a natural result of the impact of shoes on the ground when walking and the forces operating on the laces as they move about.

Now I have long held this to be the case and not, as Mrs C is wont to insist, on my inability to tie them correctly in the first place. Henceforth I shall be proud to consider myself as adding to science when, no more than a few paces into a stroll down the road, one of my shoes works loose. Any researchers looking for a volunteer to assist in further studies (assuming that expenses are paid and luncheon vouchers provided, naturally) are welcome to get in contact.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Car spotting time

As seen in my local supermarket (in Ruislip, of course)


I must confess to feeling a tad envious of this one.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The End of the Affair

Today the British people abandoned the cause of European developement aimed at preventing centuries of hostile and competing nation states leading to militiarism turned its back on an outdated institution and regained its freedom.

We will continue to trade freely with the EU with full controls over our borders we haven't the faintest idea of whom our trading partners may be and whether we will be able to exert any more control than in the past

The interests of British nationals elsewhere in the EU will be fully respected under the new arrangements and millions of workers and pensioners need not fear that their rights to remain, work and receive health care will be in any way jeopardised We have no idea what will happen to them or to UK institutions and businesses that employ EU citizens or which are interlocked with the EU institutions.

We will retreat into being a closed and xenophobic society in which foreigners can be freely blamed for everything, just as they are in Trump's USA we will continue to uphold traditional British values of liberty and tolerance, just not quite as libertarian and tolerant as before

If the eastern frontiers of Europe crumble under Russian aggression, lack of investment and a renewed vicious nationalism, and slide into Balkans style conflicts with barbed wire frontiers and deportations, it's nothing to do with us. We could have promoted British values in Europe. Now we can only fulminate on the sidelines

The UK will continue to be a United Kingdom with the whole-hearted consent of all of its citizens Bye Bye Scotland, all the best

Friday, March 24, 2017

A man, a van and a pasty

A couple of years ago I considered the question "What makes a restaurant"; specifically, when is an eating establishment a restaurant rather than a cafe or a snack bar? I did not extend my research sufficiently far. For, whilst idly browsing on Tripadvisor for places on a forthcoming trip to Cornwall, the following caught my eye (and now it has caught yours, and it is fascinating, is it not?).

What grips the imagination is not just that a mobile van, selling only pasties and related products in a deserted car park in the middle of nowhere, can be ranked as a restaurant (or indeed that people have bothered to write reviews about it) but that it is 8th out of 20! There are twelve more eating places in this small town on the eastern fringes of Cornwall that are ranked below it. Is your mind boggling yet?

This establishment, which I admit does have some admiring reviews from local pasty-lovers, has the usual rankings

Since the only food offered appears to be pasties and similar filled snacks, they are presumably being rated compared to other pasty stalls, rather than, say, the 2 AA rosette establishment in town that is number 1 in the rankings. Fair enough. I wonder how you rate the service of a self-service snack bar?  Something like this, perhaps?

  • We walked up to the van and the man served us. Rating - 100%
  • We had to queue for a minute but then the man served us - Rating 100%
  • We asked for a hot pasty and he took one from the heated cabinet and gave it to us - Rating 100%
  • We had a choice of hot or cold pasty. Our server was very helpful in explaining that one would be hotter than the other and he recommended the local speciality, a half and half (one of each). This is the sort of attention to detail that you only get in top-end restaurants - Rating 100%
 Value presumably extends to comparing the prices against other pasties. But what do we make of atmosphere? Rated very highly by those in the know, so it must be on these lines:

  • The cigarette ends blowing around our feet as we stood in a puddle added a delightful touch of impertinence - Rating 100%
  • I enjoyed being sprayed with mud as one of the local youth hurtled by on a motorbike - Rating 100%
  • The fragrance of diesel emissions from passing tractors, far from clashing with the gravy oozing from the base of my pasty, reminded us of central Paris - Rating 100%
  • My companion was entranced to find a spray of flaky pastry from her sausage roll sticking playfully to her clothing - Rating 100%
  • Such fun for our kids to be able to run back and forth across the road whilst waiting for their food. We have no such facilities in Leeds - Rating 100%


To keep the boggling process going, here is a little snippet on the TA site for reviewers to consider
Typical questions asked:
  • Do you have gluten-free options?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • Do you allow dogs on the outdoor patio
I can imagine the inspector from TA (if there were such a person) brushing away a few last crumbs and striding confidently up to the man behind the counter.
"Good morning"
"Morning to you sir"
"May I enquire if your pasties, made as they are with the finest flour, are gluten free?"
"Aaar...mebbe. Mebbe not. There's them as knows and there's them as don'ts know"
"I see. Am I in breach of the dress code?"
"You're an outsider and we don't normally have truck with strangers and their strange ways. You're not a Revenue Man are ye? They don't last long round these parts"
"Umm,  might I let my dogs out on your patio?"
"Dunno. Are they from Devon? If so, they stays put"

Good luck with that report then.

** Update April 20th
Mrs C and I had a very pleasant week in Cornwall and, almost by chance, drove past the very site where Helluva Pasties does its trade. It is not really in a deserted car park in the middle of nowhere but located in a deserted car park adjacent to the main road between Callington and Saltash, and it was closed on the couple of times that we passed by. So I can make no further comment on the subject.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Exclusive: We did not spy on Trump

Ramblings  wishes to retract the story published recently that appeared to suggest that in some remote way this organisation may have been associated with a surveillance attempt on The World's Most Popular Man©. This allegation was wholly made up and pretend. However, as keen followers of TWMPM, we shall not be issuing any form of apology or explanation, other than the above. In fact, we shall go further. The story was undoubtedly created by our enemies, probably the so-called blog Investigations of a Itinerate Ickenhamite and nothing to do with us whatsoever. So there is nothing to apologise for and we demand an apology, and substantial compensation, instead.