Thursday, August 25, 2016

The mercury rises

Mrs. C and I have been away in the north, gracing Liverpool, Dumfries, Borrowdale and Newcastle with our presence before a final family rendezvous in Sheffield. Returning to London was a surprise for, with the aircon fully on as we raced back down the motorways, we hardly noticed the temperature outside. Emerging to 34c in beautiful Ruislip felt like arrival in the tropics. The heat has been cruel to some of our plants and the pond is full of muck (but the fish seem unfazed). Still, a few minutes in the chilled counter section at Sainsbury's and we cooled off nicely as we restocked our depleted larder.  Fancy it being hot for the August bank holiday weekend - these have been awful in recent times.

My new "ten years ago" feature highlights a typically unpleasant day travelling home on the tube during that long hot summer. Seems a world away now.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Getting a life (or, You shall go to the balls)

Responding to criticism of a new Channel 4 TV show, featuring nudity (artistic, essential, not in any way a desperate attempt to up the ratings, that suggestion is right out of order, OK?) which, I hasten to add, I have neither watched, recorded nor downloaded [I would have, but my VCR doesn't work any more: Ed], the producer is quoted thus:

the show’s critics should “get a life”,

 How devastatingly witty. And how hard to argue with. If you don't agree with me, then you don't have "a life" and should obtain one. I'm sure all critics are now reeling back in shock, gripping the edges of their chairs with white-knuckled hands before smiting themselves on the head and proclaiming "A life! Of course, that is what I should get. If only I had a life I would cease to take any interest in television shows that I happen to watch, or I would watch them without in any way vouchsafing an opinion or comment because so to do instantly betrays my lack of life and that, once I have my life, is clearly not going to happen."

Further perusal of the source material throws up something else unexpected. One Gemma Askham, described as 'sex editor of Glamour magazine' (and there's a job I don't remember my old careers master advising me to go for. "Now then young G, I see you enjoy writing and pleasuring yourself in the back row of geography classes, have you considered a career as a sex journalist, I'm told there's very good money in it") is quoted as saying
I guess the participants are trying to say, I don’t care if you judge me, I have the confidence to show myself for exactly who I am on TV, and even if you don’t pick me I’m still proud that I had the balls to do that.”

I don't think she thought that one through at all. Clearly, the female participants would not under any circumstances have had the balls; the men presumably did and that's what they were so proudly displaying for inspection (and perhaps counting). They had them anyway, I mean, whether or not they were selected to go on the show.

The question that remains with us is this: if you do have the balls to flash them in front of two million goggling1 viewers, have you got a life? Or are you in desperate need of one?

 1 This is not a euphemism, although these days with the fast pace of change in modern slang, maybe it is.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Windows 10 - Guess my location

There's a handy weather app provided with Windows 10. Naturally, I have set it for beautiful Ruislip. So imagine my surprise on seeing the following this morning:


I always thought I was in the UK but Microsoft, or the people who supply the weather stats, know better. It seems I may have been moved, inadvertently, to the Netherlands. I'm not sure if this will jeopardise my citizenship post-Brexit but if it qualifies me for duty frees then Hans - mach dampf!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Marooned in Istanbul

I received the following email this morning, with the gripping title of 'Travel issues'. Was it a promotion for a handy pack of paper hankies, with 'tissues' spelt wrong by some harrassed PR assistant typing away for all he's worth whilst grabbing a coffee, updating his social media status and peering goofily around the edge of his cubicle in the way so accurately portrayed by advertisments?1 Nope, the body contains the following heart-rending story that had me mesmerised for all of 0.0000 of a second (because the apparent sender, a friend, showed a "mailto" address with someone else's name, an obvious give-away that it is a scam). Anyway it makes quite enjoyable reading for those of us who like taking the piss out of scammers.

---------------------------------
Am sorry for not informing anyone about my trip,I had to be in Istanbul (Turkey) for a visitation but everything turned bad for me.I had my bag stolen from me with my passport and personal effects therein,I lost all my valuables including cash,mobile phones,business documents and my traveling documents,Thank God i still have my life,I have been issued a temporary passport by the embassy.Now am having problem paying up my hotel bills and I also have to pay for a return ticket back home.I need your help/LOAN financially and I promise to make the refund once I get back home,you are my last resort and hope,Please let me know if I can count on you and I need you to keep checking your email because it's the only way I can reach you.

Trust this gets to you

Your assistance in resolving this would be much appreciated

Regards ----------------------------

This is supposed to be someone I know. But it was sent to 'undisclosed recipients'. He thinks that I don't know where Istanbul is. He thinks that it would be normal practice to tell me about his trips. I am trying hard to be impressed with the use of the somewhat archaic 'visitation', a word that has gone the same way as 'luncheon' and 'charabanc'. He seems unable to use full stops or spaces correctly. He sets this out as a formal letter, complete with salutation, but twice drops his personal pronoun. He tells me the embassy is helping but apparently not so far as to settle his hotel bill or provide emergency assistance to return home. I don't know why the word 'loan' is so important that it requires capitalisation, and why, if he is writing to loads of people (the mysterious undisclosed recipients) am I his 'last resort'? And why, if he is being helped by the embassy, is he denied the use of a phone, given that claim that email is the only way he can reach me?

Oh, and that lovely sign-off. I have no idea what to make of 'Trust this gets to you' because if I am reading it then obviously it has. This is followed by the "much appreciated" throwaway line. This must be lifted from 'The Young Person's Guide to Business Letters' (published 1960, price 1/6 from all good bookstalls) or something similar. It's not that it's bad English (it isn't), it's the way it clashes so strongly with the tone of the rest of the email. From the breathless appeal for help ('last resort') to the cold and formal 'Your assistance'. What a shame the sender is not French or he would be begging me to accept his distinguished sentiments.


Anyway I composed a suitable reply, informing whoever is on the other end that I have loads of cash and can't wait to send it to them. Yet, despite the desperation that is supposed to exude from the email, they have not bothered to reply. Are they so swamped by people offering aid that they are having trouble keeping up? Or are they so brainless that they have screwed up their own hack of my friend's email and have routed all the replies somewhere beyond their reach? My money is on the latter.

1.I get all my knowledge of modern day business practices from adverts, as you may have gathered.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer at last

In the good bad old days when I earned a living in central London, the onset of a bit of really hot weather was a mixed blessing. Nice to be able to enjoy it with a cold drink in the shade, uncomfortable on the daily commute and downright unpleasant when things went wrong. So you can imagine what my feelings would have been, had I still been gainfully employed, from the following two exhibits:







The first is a current tweet from my good friends at the Metropolitan Line informing the world that there is no service from Harrow towards beautiful Ruislip and the second the thermometer by my back door. Yup, I would be sitting on platform 4 at Harrow, quietly frying and drumming my fingers whilst waiting for a train. Or perhaps queuing in the sultry street for a bus that would then lurch around a route that would get Mandlebrot excited before crawling up to Ruislip Manor.

This present heatwave will not last long, and compared to parts of Western Europe (45c in Spain anyone?) it is not too newsworthy but it's a while since we've had one. So worth a little blogette, anyway.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

What does She keep in it?

The press widely published, and commented on, this Press Association photo of Theresa May meeting the Queen on her appointment as Prime Minister. My interest in it is neither in matters political nor regal. The object that caught my eye is the royal handbag.



The meeting took place at Buckingham Palace. The Queen's own gaff, not her favourite haunt we know but nonetheless one of her homes. From time to time she actually lives there, kipping, watching tele, lazing about the gardens, the works. It's not just the office (as pictured above) but her very own place of residence. So why, I am driven to ask, does the Queen tote a handbag when meeting her new PM? Why doesn't she simply hand it to a Lady-in-Waiting, or even dump it on that handily placed settee? Why does she constantly keep her left arm extended in a pose that must make the muscles ache after a bit, and let's face it, she's not getting any younger.

If Her Maj doesn't trust anyone to guard her bag then surely we must consider a new line of enquiry; viz, what on earth does she put in that trusty black reticule? Her mum would have had a useful half bottle of gin and the Racing Post. Her grandfather a book of one penny stamps which he could examine, one by one, for no obvious reason. We know she never carries money, and by the same token, sports neither a Freedom Pass nor a credit card, driving licence or passport. Is there a hanky in it, a nice one naturally, silk with her initials? A mobile phone with the private numbers of the crowned heads of Europe? Her life membership card for the Walthamstow Bingo Fellowship?

Of course, we shall never know (so long as she avoids employing Paul Burrell). Perhaps the bag will go into the Royal Archives at Windsor, to be unearthed by some Lucy Worsley of the future doing yet another TV show about the Monarchy. What is the significance of this little green roll of white sweets with a hole in the middle, she may muse, and why did the Queen keep the telephone number of 'Onest Harry Bookmakers of Repute scrawled on the back of a fag packet?

If you'd like to join in the debate, do please feel free to comment but be aware that you may jeopardise your chance of an OBE by so doing.

Friday, July 15, 2016

You go away for a few days ...

and the world goes insane.

Mrs C. and I enjoyed 10 days travelling mainly by rail to the Harz mountain region of Central Germany and then to the Rhine Gorge, returning today. It was intended to be a relaxing and peaceful break. And it would have been, had not the major news issues of the day kept breaking through. The sudden demise of the Cameron government, the crowning of Theresa May as PM, the eclipse of George Osborne and the crushing of the back-stabber Gove, all stories put in the shade by the resurrection of Boris Johnson ("a liar with his back to the wall", the French foreign minister). Ashen-faced and white-lipped a few days ago with the utter destruction of his own leadership hopes, the bouffant buffoon is now Foreign Secretary, an announcement met with barely suppressed laughter from news readers and Government spokespeople in many countries. As it was indeed by the other members of our holiday tour group.

And then today two stories that cause real alarm and revulsion; the atrocity in Nice by a thug who drove a lorry into Bastille Day celebrants killing over 80, and the coup in Turkey that threatens to destabilise an already chaotic and dangerous region. The laughter has stopped. The holidays are over.