Saturday, January 30, 2016

Shock! Man dies! Leaves money to his family!!

Good evening and here is the news

A popular singer, Mr. D Bowie, who became deceased recently, has left his estate to his family. Our arts correspondent says "This has once again shown how revolutionary and important he was and people will be talking about this for a long time to come, or perhaps for ever". Our finance correspondent adds "He certainly left more money than most people will, so this is jolly interesting for anyone keen on knowing about people with more money than they have".

In other news, at least three people in Manchester have visited a chip shop in the last four hours, some trains are running, the seas continue to be wetter than the land and a Government health spokesman has warned members of the public to "wrap up warm" if it becomes cold.

And now more on our top story. Jeremy Grapeshot reports from New York
"It's still bloody cold here following the massive blizzard last week but everyone's heart will beat a little faster with the thought that, if they had married Mr. Bowie, they would now be a lot richer than before".

That, you will be delighted to hear, is the end of the news.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A spot of the balmies

It seems fair to follow up my previous, meteorologically-themed post, with an update. There may be record-breaking blizzards in North America but we enjoyed positively spring-like conditions today in beautiful Ruislip with the temperature reaching an amazing 14c. The unceasing storms and rain of December and the first part of this month have give way to a bit of cloud here and bit of drizzle there, sufficient to keep the back of my garden slightly flooded (and by slight I mean just a bit of standing water that refuses to go away), but nothing whatsoever to worry about. We did get some real snow the other day but it lasted barely the morning. That might be it this year but of course there's a fair way to go yet.

Speaking of balmies, there are barmies on the horizon as the British Government pursues its quest to renegotiate the terms under which the UK is a member of the EU and we have the fascinating prospect of the Conservative party about to rip itself apart. Several leading members of the Government have declared themselves against it, no matter what Mr. Cameron may achieve in his exhausting and seemingly endless jaunts around Europe trying to drum up support. The latest news is that he might go for a referendum in the early summer, thus irritating the Scottish Nationalists because it will overshadow elections there. But if he delays till the autumn then the split in his party will be revealed in full at the party conference because no elections can ever be held between mid-June and the end of September.

The only sensible referendum would be one where voters could choose between a range of policies but we won't get that. Arguably only people who actually know what the EU is and have some idea about how it works, what it costs and how it is likely to be changed in future should be permitted to vote but we won't get that either. (This is not like voting for an MP, who you know you can chuck out in five years if you have to).  It will be a yes/no and much legal time will be spent on the precise wording. If Mr. Cameron has his way it will read
"Do you agree with the Government's very sensible terms that will guarantee a prosperous future for all within the EU?";
and if his critics win out it will read
"Do you agree that Britain faces utter ruin if it remains in the EU any longer no matter what those cunning foreigners might pretend to concede to us?".

In any case nobody will have the slightest idea whether we will be better off in or out because nobody can predict the future so the whole exercise is daft. I suppose I will have to continue commenting on it because the decision matters, not least because a No vote will inevitably lead to the breakup of the UK because, if one should occur, then sooner or later Scotland will have a second independence referendum, on the grounds that a majority of them wish to remain the EU so why the hell should they follow England out.

It is a cruel irony that the leader of what used to be the "Conservative and Unionist" party should be so keen to jeopardise the Union and his attempts to prevent it will of great interest.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A touch of the chills

After a mellow autumn and almost balmy December, it has turned decidedly nippy. The little pond out back froze over for the first time in ages last night and has remained thus, with the mercury hovering around 1c all day. It was pretty bracing on the terraces at Wealdstone FC's home game as well when we did our usual thing of scoring early and conceding a tame one at the death but at least we got a draw. It's always depressing to trudge back through the near-deserted streets of beautiful Ruislip in the freezing cold when your team has been beaten.

Botanists should be watching this spring with great interest. Will the freeze do strange things to the many plants that think that winter is over?

Friday, January 15, 2016

What's In A Name?

I have decided to reinvent myself as a styling consultant. I believe that this occupation generates plenty of cash and respect from business. Should any prospective clients wish to engage my services, then be advised that until a six figure sum, first class travel to an exotic location with an all-expenses paid month away for myself and my glamorous assistant (Mrs. C with her sunglasses on) and a stake in the equity are on the table, I will be unavailable for contact.

Just to demonstrate my awesome powers and fitness for this challenging new role, I have set myself the mission to rebrand the offspring of two forthcoming marriages, or to put it another way, the businesses resulting from a couple of massive mergers in the pipeline.

First - telecoms giant BT is seeking to take over telecoms, er, giant, EE. This is a no-brainer. I give you telecoms even-bigger-giant BEET!

Second, if the proposed merger of telecoms giant [this is getting boring now: Ed] O2 with another significantly larger than usual concern, Three, should go ahead then I suggest a choice of either 5! (with or without exclamation mark, there is no extra charge for it) or 3O2 (having a capital "O" rather than a 0 is really trendy and clever, as well as making it tricky to type thus helping to establish the brand).  Purists might argue that O2O2O2 would be even cleverer but I think it would prove too irritating. O23 has to be ruled out as being too similar to the definitely unfashionable M23 [a short motorway in southern England: Ed] and too confusing for children.

Pretty good stuff, I hope you'll agree. I am now turning my attention to the monster that will be created from the merger of supermarket colussus Sainsbury's with discount warehouse behemoth Argos. If we cunningly extract the "ain" from the first and the "arg" from the second, then with a little sleight of hand, we can have Bargain. Or Bargainbury's if a more traditional name is felt to be more appropriate. I picture Mr. Bargainbury with his mutton-chop whiskers and blue-and-white striped apron standing proudly outside his grocery emporium in 1878 and his wife, in suitable bonnet and shawl, handing out thick catalogues to passers-by. A brass band plays softly in the background. A modern day celebrity -surely Rob Brydon will up for it, he doesn't seem to care what else he is associated with - pops into view saying "As good as it's always been. Shop where Queen Victoria might have shopped, had she ever popped out for a slice of a bacon and a cheap watch.".

That's a good morning's work completed. Time for a coffee. Catch you later, folks.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

January Jollity*

2016 doesn't look like being any better than its recent predecessors. Sorry to start on a gloomy note but facts are facts.  The heavy rainfall in December has continued. Mrs. C and I had a few days in York and caught the tail end of the flooding. This is a city that's used to a spot of water where it shouldn't be but they were taken by surprise by the deluge that flooded much of the area near to where the River Foss joins the Ouse. Still, we had a most enjoyable time, although being in the National Railway Museum where there is a new exhibition celebrating the life and times of the Flying Scotsman, only to discover after much wandering around that the engine itself was not there (it is being refurbished in Bury) was a bit irritating. Never mind, it was shown on TV a few days later back on the rails and puffing along mightily and if it makes its promised departure from Kings Cross in a few weeks then I hope we can be there to join the crowds of well-wishers.

Amidst the general ghastliness of events in the Middle East and the refugee crisis that is threatening to break the fragile unity within the European Community (assuming the efforts of D. Cameron to renegotiate the UK's position don't do that first), the media found plenty of time and space to cover the death of one D.Bowie. I suppose I should record, for the sake of posterity, that I was a teenager when he began his career, that I was fairly impressed by Space Oddity and that no other recordings of his have made any impression on me for the simple reason that I have never heard any and have no wish to do so. Nothing personal, I just gave my heart to progressive rock groups sometime in 1969 and there it remains. And, disliking arachnids as I do, there is no way I am going to listen to someone amongst whose hot waxings is a composition entitled Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. However, I am minded to make my own recording called Hiram Molecule and the Cockroaches from just outside West Ruislip and see if that generates some tasty film offers.

Over the festive period I managed to complete two short dramatic pieces that may or may not be performed one day by the group in U3A London to whom I devote some time every week. Writing for others to speak is a fascinating endeavour because you never quite know how actors are going to interpret your words and what is crystal clear in your own mind may need to be spelled out, and perhaps rewritten, when others get the scripts in their hands.I try to write dialogue the way people really speak, rather than the more formal polished sentences that make up most theatrical writing but you can't have the whole thing full of the "ers", and "you knows" and "thingummys" and interruptions, half-completed thoughts and fragmentary phrasing of normal discourse, particularly between people who know each other well. So there is a fair bit of compromise.

Naturally there is a tube train drivers strike threatening and naturally, if it goes ahead, it will scupper some of my attendances at said drama group. Just as naturally the football team I choose to follow, finally playing a much-postponed FA Trophy match last night against Weston-Super-Mare and having fought back to 2-2 with a few minutes go, lost by a goal in the 89th. Staying in bed on these chilly mornings seems like a pretty good idea.

*Many years ago I was tasked with finding some way to inspire the 1000 or so co-workers in the automotive parts distributor that employed me. Trying to follow such obvious leads as "March Madness" I concocted the above. Nice to be able to recycle it.