Friday, November 30, 2007

Ladies and gents

There is never any need to label the conveniences in bars, restaurants etc anything other than 'ladies' and 'gents'. Today, I had the choice of Knights and Dames, neither of which I am. It's not wacky and/or zany or even particularly original.
And when it is done, how come the disabled toilet is always left as 'disabled'? What's the matter - can't think of a suitably medieval/cowboy/gangster term for a wheelchair user? If not, then just don't bother at all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Don't know about you, but I'm a busy chap these days. Therefore, I outsource all my demonstrating to McDemos. I urge you to do likewise.
Among my first protests will be urging an end to way too early christmas advertising, a plea to pursue BAe and Tony Blair through the courts. Sure I'll think up some more.

Out and about

Spent a couple of days in and around Hebden Bridge. Such a variety of fashions on show. The stetson seems to be 'in'. Facial hair, too, especially beards the size of rhodedendron bushes. 80s style leather jackets seem to be de rigeur, as do 18-hole Doc Martens. Sweat pants appear to be acceptable as well.

The blokes don't seem so fussy though.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bad brewing news

We're all supposed to be worried about the drop in beer sales, but I'm not going to. I'm going to celebrate. The only people actually whinging about it are the producers of mass-market slop - Carling, Carlsberg, Fosters, Stella. Muck, the lot of it. Microbreweries are enjoying record sales. People aren't switching off beer. They're switching to decent beer and that, friends, is reason to celebrate.
In fact, I'd drink to it. If I had any beer in the house...

Very odd

Today I did something very unusual. Despite nobody asking me to, nor there being any particular need for me to do so, I went and did some work today. I guess that means it's going OK. Also, it's been nearly two weeks since I had a beer - no conscious effort involved, life's just panned out that way. Perhaps those two facts are related; I dunno.

Anyway, listening to Jerry Chicken's first podcast as I did my rounds got me thinking about all sorts of stuff. For one, I think that as my bio-degradable coffin is lowered into the earth, I'd quite like the York Salvation Army brass band to play Abide With Me. Actually, that's a bit mawkish. Play Chan Chan by the Buena Vista Social Club would do just as well. For another - Gary is wrong. It's not Bruce Springsteen's soundtrack for Philadelphia that best matches the film. The Italian Job. There's one.

Time for a musical interlude:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ship hits ice in Antarctica

A ship. Has hit ice. In Antarctica. Ice. In Antarctica. Don't know about you, but if I was looking for ice - and plenty of it - Antarctica would be one place I'd consider starting.
As headlines go, it's not one that really causes a huge surprise. What next - bicycle spotted in Beijing?

Sat nav II

I now have a sat nav unit. I got it from work to help me find my way round unfamiliar housing estates in unfamiliar towns. Except it doesn't. Twice yesterday the postcode didn't match the street, but you try talking to the woman inside the machine. She won't listen. And as there's a slight delay on satellite tracking, it often thinks you're still on one road when you're not or vice versa.
I had a bit of a falling out with it yesterday after it told me to turn right after I'd gone past the right turn it wanted me to take. We made up in the end though.
My other half has threatened to make it talk in a Hull accent for me as some sort of sick and twisted Christmas present ("Tairn raaart"). If I'm ever to stop pissing it off by ignoring the instructions, the only voice that will work is the HAL computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey. "Why didn't you turn right Dave?". "I'm sorry Dave. I can't let you take the ring road instead of going through the industrial estate".

Either way, I shan't be throwing away my maps any time soon.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dear The Government...

In your TV advert for student grants, you claim that "there has never been more people eligible for grants than there are today". This is patently bollocks. There was a time when university was free. What you probably meant was that there has never been more people eligible for grants now than in any point in the last ten years. This is very different.
Time was we all got grants. University was for the many, not just the adequately wealthy. Odd that a Labour government has done so much to undermine the previous situation. It's almost as if the party abandoned it's roots, abandoned it's principles and abandoned the needy in a shameful pursuit of power. Funny that, don't you think?

Yours etc

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I wonder...

I wonder... how much that crappy Post Office advert featuring Westlife cost to make.
I wonder... how much that crappy Post Office advert featuring Bill Oddie cost to make.
I wonder... how the Post Office explained the cost to the regulator in light of the fact that Post Offices up and down the land are under threat of closure.
I wonder... who thought this series of adverts were any good and decided to run with them.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A ranter's ranter

I saw this on YouTube ages ago, but on hearing it in a pub in York recently, it's come back into my consciousness.

I could add a million 'thou shalt nots' myself. Thou shalt not work for a company which falsifies it's accounts in an Enron style, for instance.
I'm also quite taken with Beat That My Heart Skipped and Letter From God, but I shall remember that Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip are... just a band.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The other job

As well as the eaga thing, I'm working for York City writing previews and reports - like this - for first team games. It doesn't pay - City still don't have the proverbial pot in which to micturate - but it's expanding my repertoire into football as well as rugby.
The crueller element of my family and acquaintances have suggested that it's not going to be a huge amount of fun and so far they've largely been right, but when Bootham Crescent looks this good on a late autumn/early winter evening, they are so, so wrong.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dear Argos...

It is not beginning to look a lot like Christmas. It is very much looking like the middle of November.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Keen and eaga

So, this new job then... I now work for eaga. Back in the day it stood for something (energy something grant agency or similar) but now it's just a word. More specifically, I'm working on the Warm Front side of things. The Warm Front grant, administered by DEFRA, gives people on qualifying benefits a grant of up to £2700 to heat and/or insulate their homes, removing people from fuel poverty and saving money on energy bills. A properly insulated home requires less energy to adequately heat it as well, so it helps reduce the environmental impact of the home. When people apply for the grant, they need an assessment done on their home in order to determine what we can offer them under the terms of the grant depending on the current state of the house and that's where I and about 350 other people come in. It's our job to visit these people and conduct a survey on the home to assess it's current rating and see what we can do to improve it.
So it's all warm and fluffy and very socially responsible. The last two weeks have been spent training up near Sunderland which has largely been fun. There were about 30 of us and it was a real good group of people, all of whom I got on with. Monday and Tuesday I'll be out with an assessor and learning more about how to do the job that way before being let loose on my own. Today will require me to get organised, by which I mean prepare an environment at home in which I can work comfortably. That could be the hardest task of all. It's amazing how much stuff has stuck. When I pulled up at home after the first week, I could tell that there is a cavity in our walls and that it's been filled, but my neighbours on either side have not. And I know they qualify for a grant. As do my parents. And that's the way I'm looking at it - I don't want my neighbours and parents to spend money unnecessarily or to be cold, and neither do I want other people's nearest and dearest to struggle the same way.

Warm Front has attracted a bit of bad publicity lately. The qualification rules are a bit odd and some questions were raised on that on the training, but we can only work to the rules DEFRA give us. These things are constantly reviewed and I'm sure this will be no different. Either way, I'm keen to get started properly and I hope that my first impressions that this will be a rewarding job that I can really enjoy are born out. So far so good anyway.

New ways to annoy

Back in the day, I created the aphonetic alphabet. This week, whilst stuck in an hotel in Sunderland (more of which later) I and two of my new colleagues came up with a new way to annoy telephone operators.

A is for ABC
B is for BBC
C is for CNN
D is for DEA
E is for ECB
F is for FSA
G is for GDP
H is for HBO
I is for ITV
J is for JIC
K is for KLF
L is for LBA
M is for MMR
N is for NWA
O is for OCD
P is for PLO
Q is for QED
R is for RAC
S is for STI
T is for TNT
U is for UDA
V is for VCR
W is for WWF
X is for XFM
Y is for YTV
Z is for ZDF

I'm so helpful.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Strictly Come Dancing

Please, please, please make it stop. I know it makes the BBC a lot of money from phone calls, but oh the horror!

Deals on wheels

Another new car - to me at least. The new job necessitated me getting myself some transport for business use, so I've gone for a Peugeot 306 turbo diesel. The fact it's a Peugeot makes it as good an excuse as I can think of to bring the following film to your attention - possibly the best bit of driving footage around. Ari Vatanen, a Peugeot 405 and the Pikes Peak hillclimb course back in 1988. Not that my humble tractor-engined hatchback is in the same league, or that I'm going to fling it round corners hanging off the edge of a massive cliff with only one hand on the wheel, but it should do just fine for me.

It begins

The christmas adverts have begun.... Ye Gods.