Monthly Archives: November 2007

Radio Radio

Bimble – PPPPFFFFTTTTTT!!!!!!!

Some of us youngsters listen to Radio 4 as well; it’s either that or Chris Evans on Radio 2 – I really dislike Chris Evans. However Radio 4 is the home of that talentless duo – Punt & Dennis, the unfunny ones from the Mary Whitehouse Experience.

The other thing is that my new car radio only receives FM, so Radio 5 is denied me. The Radio 5 Drivetime show has always been a favourite of mine, Peter Alan is just so funny. I think it was his partnership with Jane Garvey that was so appealing.

The biggest drawback is that I can’t listen to football in the car anymore.

2 Heroes

I heard an interesting story on Radio 4 as I drove home tonight. Yes, I know! Me, listening to Radio 4. My I must be posh….

It was a story about a bag being found after it was lost 65 years ago in the Egyptian desert. After all this time it found its way back to a family member of the man who lost it. It was full of letters that he received from family and friends; pictures of his girlfriends (yes plural) and various other sundery items to numerous to mention.

The man’s sister was interviewed after she was tracked down via BBC Radio Lancashire. Sadly he’d died 3 years ago. It was found by an Egyptian amateur archaeologist who came across it lying in the Western Desert. He told an English friend of his who then searched for the man via the internet and discovered that his sister had written an article in conjunction with a Radio Lancashire presenter a few years earlier.

For those who aren’t good at maths the bag was lost in 1942 and the man concerned was a member of that bunch of adventurers known as the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), a forerunner of the SAS. Their job was to cross through the desert and patrol behind Axis lines, gathering intelligence, harrassing the enemy and having some fun. They were very independent and charismatic men – no, not in a hands in the air happy clappy way.

The gentleman concerned never spoke of his time with the LRDG after returning from the front in 1945. However a few years ago he invited his sister and her husband to a reunion at the Chelsea Barracks in London. Here they learnt that his nickname was the Baby Faced Killer – due more to looks than his murderous nature.

This reminded me of people I’ve met who have who’ve fought in wars for their country. They are invariably the most reticent people when it comes to their experiences in these situations. Where the majority would normally expect loud, bragging men who are only to willing to regale with their adventures in uniform, what you actually get is nothing. They brush over it and write it off as just something that happened.

I’ve always admired them for this. How could most of us possibly understand what they have been through, the dangers they’ve faced and the friends that they’ll never see again? Many wouldn’t even be able to understand what would lead them to voluntarily face such dangers. In the case of many people they had no choice as they were conscripted and had little choice in the matter.

This was preceded by the story of the Corporal in the Paras who had died in fighting in Afghanistan and awarded the VC, the first since the Falklands to win one posthumously. He was caught in the middle of a fire fight between his squad and the Taliban. He helped to save wounded comrades and hold off the Taliban. However it looks like he was killed in the crossfire by his own side, not their fault as they were fighting in maize fields and couldn’t see clearly.

During the fight he, and several others, kept going back to retrieve their wounded comrades, at great personal risk. After he was hit they still wnet back for him even though many of his squad were wounded. This is true bravery – knowing that you could be killed if you go back to help someone but you do it anyway.

Next time you hear someone criticising members of our armed forces as thoughtless killers, who enjoy killing, remember that they are doing a job that very few of us would willing do. They don’t choose to fight where they do; they do it because that is their job and your elected government have decided that they should be there. They may not agree with what they are told to do; they’re underfunded; poorly equipped and know that if they’re wounded they will not get the specialist care and support they need.

Yet they still go out there and put their lives on the line to protect us and preserve our way of life. They don’t expect your understanding or unquestioned support. What they would accept is your thanks and a small sign of gratitude.

The Wombat Song

Unordered it is a song that is sung by a “performer” at Greenbelt during the Late Night Twist. It is a piece of sillyness that has the chorus:

Wombat/Wombat/Wombat/Wombat/Wombat on my knee

Lemly at Marmite on Toast could supply you with the full song and the website address for the person responsible.

Religion Is (Sometimes) Stupid

For the last few years I have been more and more concerned about religious toleration. In the UK we are constantly hearing how we need to be more inclusive and tolerant of people of opther faiths. It is ok for us to ridicule Christianity but lord help us if we joke about any other, especially Islam.

Now I have read bits of the Koran, I even have a copy on my bookshelf, and I know that it is actually a peaceful religion that preaches tolerance. What we see today in our papers and on the news is the radical Islam that is preached by zealots; much the same as Christianity is currently seen as the voice piece for the right wing in western politics.

Unfortunately we keep finding that it is the extremeist wings of both religions that seem to set the agenda for the rest of us. It is echoed by President Bush’s “You’re either for us, or against us” speech after 9/11. We see pictures of crowds of Muslims across the Middle East burning flags and shouting anti-western and Christian slogans. We have heard of Christians being imprisoned for their faith in predominantly Muslim, and other, countries.

Now we have a school teacher from Liverpool imprisoned in Khartoum for calling a teddy bear Muhammad. She did not actually decide on the name herself; she suggested Faris but the children voted 20 to 23 to call it Muhammad. It appears not to be named after the Prophet but the most popular child in the class.

This is a teddy bear used to teach the children about animals and their habitats and a different child takes it home each week and then writes a report about what it did and a photo. This is the same thing that happens in British primary schools every week.

Originally the Sudanese police claimed that a parent had complained. Now it appears that it was another member of staff. Does calling a bear Muhammad really contravene Islamic law regarding the defermation of the Prophet’s name or image? Surely calling your child by that name could be equally insulting.

My prayers are with Gillian Gibbons and I hope that sanity will prevail in this situation. How would they feel if we enforced the same laws to protect Christianity and started jailing Muslims in the same way?

They’re After The Bed

FW and I are great lovers of Mr Bill Bailey. We bought his Ultimate Collection CD at Bristol Airport on our way to a friend’s wedding in Spain 2 years ago. Travelling along a Spanish motorway singing Insect Nation was a highlight of that trip.

One of the lines is:

“What about the worms?/They’re eyeing up your car./How can worms drive a car?/Two on the pedals, one on the wheel and one on the A to Z./It could happen!”

Well last night something happened to prove that this is true.

FW had gone to bed before me as I was watching the 10 o’clock news. I turned everything off and went to bed. As I got in I felt something wet and slimey under the duvet. I wasn’t to concerned at this as I thought it was FW playing tricks, again!

Put there seemed to be one spot that was definitely wet and yucky. I moved my feet and legs around a few times but it just seemed to move the problem around. As it was halfway down it couldn’t have been a tea spillage and I’d remember if I’d had an accident. So I got out of bed to investigate the cause of the problem.

“Arghhh!!! Worm!!”

“What?” said FW.

“Worm!! There’s a worm in the bed!”

FW, being the woman she is, looked at me as though I’d just landed from the planet Zog.

“There’s a ******* worm in the bed!” I retorted.

“Don’t be silly.”

But then she pulled back the duvet and there, midway down my side of the bed, was, indeed, a worm.

Earlier, while lying on the settee being ill, I had seen Che come in and spit something out of his mouth and start playing with it. I couldn’t see what it was but he seemed intrigued and then walked off. Lima came in walked over, played with something and, losing interest, wandered off. I thought nothing further of it.

Now I know what it was. However I’m at a loss as to explain how the damn thing got under the duvet and onto my side of the bed.

International Wibmeet

We had a great night at the Oz meets Wales Wibmeet in Swansea. It was very good to meet 2 very pleasant Ozzie Wibloggers in the flesh. I don’t think I’ll ever forget Ian’s rendition of the Wombat On My Knee song. I think that Burnt Sienna is hoping to post the video soon.

Many thanks to Marmite & Backburner for hosting the event but kudos to Marmite for the wonderful desserts. I really think that the Mars Bar Cake would have sent me into an instant diabetic coma if I’d tried it though.

Ian and Semele can rest assured that if all Ozzies were like them then the world would be a better place. I still don’t understand how it is that Australia needs some many bar staff though….

The Naked & The Dead

2 weeks ago we were told of the death of Norman Mailer. To some people he was a colossus of American fiction; to some others he was a right wing bore; to others he was a “man’s man”.

I was introduced to Mailer’s work by n old work colleague called Mike. Every Monday he’d bring in a box of books that he’d rooted out at local car boot sales and offer me first refusal. It was in this way that I discovered many books by people that I may not have otherwise read. It definitely helped to broaden my horizons. Without him I’d never have discovered, or probably not that early, Updike, Capote, Kenneally, Wolfe, early Rushdie or Coetzee.

My first Mailer novel was Harlot’s Ghost, a story of the birth and gestation of the CIA from the late 40’s through to the mid 60’s. This peaked my interest enough to read The Naked and The Dead and Ancient Evenings. Then, for some reason, I got distracted by more of Mike’s offerings and left Mailer alone. Last year I re-read Harlot’s Ghost and Castle In The Forest, a story of Hitler’s early childhood, and then decided to buy more but never got round to it.

Then I heard about Mailer’s death and went out and ordered 3 more of his books to catch up on what I’d missed out on. So I bought Oswald’s Story (about Lee Harvey Oswald); The Executioner’s Song (about Gary Gilmore, hero of The Adverts’ single Gary Gilmore’s Eyes a great bit of 70’s punk); and, The Fight (the story of the Ali-Fraser “Rumble in The Jungle”).

I decided to read them in order of historical events and have begun readuong Oswald’s Story. After only 30 pages I’m already hooked and wondering why I left it so long to read more Mailer.

Now we’ll be denied any further additions to his canon of work. He’ll be loved by many but disliked bny many others. To some his work will be off putting by their size alone – over 500 pages for many – or his image as a “man’s man” , which is not popular in modern touchy feely literary circles. Maybe it’s the fact that he wrote about events that I have also found interesting, or the fact he wrote in such an easy style, but I’ll always return to Mailer when I need a shot of well written, manly prose.

Hard Luck & Bad News

No car related news today.

I should offer my feelings of heartfelt sympathy for those people who sat through last night’s football match. An entire nation of football supporters must be feeling very, very depressed today. So I’ll just say……

Bad luck Northern Ireland. You had a mountain to climb and needed a miracle to achieve it. Alas the God of football was not kind to you last night. However at least you have something positive to build on for the World Cup qualifiers that start next year.

Congratulations to Wales for fielding a half strength side that managed to hold Germany to a 0-0 draw in Frankfurt. No one expected anything other than a drubbing.

Oh! I’ve just been told that England played last night but I don’t know what happened there as I’ve heard no news this morning………..

** I did have a dream that FW had gone to a Fairtrade meeting last night and that I’d watched a football match in which a bunch of over hyped, over paid, mediocrities lost to some minor Eastern European make weights.

Right For Concern

After I posted yesterday’s post I received another call from FW. She was about to leave work but had encountered a problem with the car.

She had arrived at work and parked behind the Drop In Centre, locked Magda and gone into work. At 2:30 she finished work and went to begin the journey home. That’s where the problems started.

I received a call to say that Magda refused to start when she tried. It seems that FW had fallen foul of the curse of the MX-5. Unlike most other cars the MX-5 does not make a noise if you open the door with the side lights on; obviously you know if the headlights are on as they pop-up like frog’s eyes. However some members of staff were helping her to jump start Magda with jump leads but had encountered a problem. Where is the battery?

Being a small, sporty beast Magda’s battery is actually located in the boot. Then they couldn’t work out which is the + and the – terminal. These are marked as such on the battery cover and not by coloured leads. Then I had another call to say that she still wouldn’t start. I checked that she’d remebered to use the immobiliser button before turning the key – she had – which is the usual problem.

Another difficulty is that MX-5’s have dry cell batteries and these can be problematic to jump start. If you need to recharge a dry cell then it needs a “trickle” charger and takes 3 days to do. So I wasn’t that surprised that it didn’t work. By this time it was passed 3 o’clock.

As this hadn’t worked I told her to ring the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) as Magda is to precious to leave unattended in an open air public car park. After this I heard nothing more until I returned home.

Upon arriving home I discovered that the RAC had not got to her until 5 o’clock but had managed to get Magda started and FW was able to not only drive home but had the car ready for her to drive to and from college last night.

So for all those who commented:

1. No, you can’t borrow Magda
2. How dare you insult my wife’s ability to be trusted with my precious car. I had every faith in her ability to get her home undamaged – if only because she knows how I’d react if something serious happened.

As a result of all this I have decided that FW will own Magda from early next year and I’ll buy a new car. I want another Mazda but FW thinks that we need a more sensible second car instead. Maybe the time is right to think about finally owning an Alfa or a SAAB. Either way I think that it maybe time to buy a diesel, what with the ever increasing cost of fuel.

Worried T&E

Alas, system restore did not work on Saturday. So we are trying to decide what to do next.

As FW’s car became “ill” on the weekend, I did the galant thing and said that she could use Magda this week. I know, I’ve said that she can drive my car…..

As I brought her morning cuppa she asked if this was still the case. Through my mind went all the potential problems – what if she scratches her; what if she runs her through a hedge; can my heart cope with such heartbreak. Why the concern? Well……

1. I don’t let ANYONE drive my car. One or two have but very, very rarely.
2. FW told me that, while driving to work yesterday, she had hit her nearside wing mirror and the glass had fallen out. This was about an hour after I’d made my offer.

So imagine the thoughts going through my mind when the mobile rang this morning. Their was FW’s number on the display. My heart raced, I started sweating, thoughts of what to put on the claim form went through my head. When she spoke it was with humour as she told me that she’d called to say that she, and Magda, had arrived safely at work.

Now I just need to pray that they get home safe and survive the drive to college tonight.