Monthly Archives: July 2008

Mini Me

At present I don’t know if I’m coming or going. My colleague has now been off for 3 months and there is no sign of him coming back anytime soon.

He has a treadmill test tomorrow and should find out what the bnattery of tests has uncovered about 10 days later. We already think that he will not get the ok to return. He has been told that it looks like angina but that his CT scan unveiled something else, but they won’t say what.

He has already had conflicting diagnosis of Parkinson’s or a nuerological problem. One doctor has told him not to drive at all and another has told him that he can drive no further than 50 miles. To us he is saying that he wants to come back but he is telling others that he wants to finish on medical grounds – he only has 2 years to retirement.

Relief is coming for me as we have a “mini-me” starting on Monday. A nice 20 year ld blonde I can corrupt and build in my own image – waaa haaa haaa!!!. It’s just in time I we are getting much busier every day and it is too much for one person to deal with.

History Today:

1498: Columbus arrives in Trinidad – he loses the Test Match series 3-0. Spain gives up on cricket.

1886: Franz Liszt, the composer, dies. He’s more well known today as part of that great drinking partnership Brahms & Liszt.

1917: British forces lead an attempt to break through the German lines in Flanders. As such the Third Battle of Ypres begins. It’s better known as Passchaendale. Of course, it doesn’t work.

1919: Germany sees the establishment of the Weimar Republic. It lasts for 13 years and 6 months before the Nazis take over.

1919: Primo Levi – author, chemist and Auschwitz survivor is born. I strongly recommend his books to anyone who wants to read a survivor’s account of life in the camps and how it effects their life afterwards.

1960: Andrew Marr is born.

1965: The last cigarette commercial is aired on British TV.

1966: J K Rowling is born.

1998: The UK government bans UK forces from using landmines. I don’t actually know what replaced them….

Today’s saint is:

St Ignatius of Loyola, patron saint of solidiers and founder of the Jesuits. Is that Dan Brown I hear writing another piece of c***?

Farewell To Oz

Our Australian brethren must know something we don’t. They are described as having “a very sophisticated coffee culture”. Can you believe it? The Ozzies being called sophisticated?

It must be true though because they are so sophistimacated that Starbucks, prop. Dr Evil, is closing 61 of its 84 stores. So where do Ozzies get their coffee from? Would they please export these establishments to us in the UK!!

Locally, Starbucks is about the best place to buy a decent coffee. Some multi site rivals just can’t compete with the consistent quality. I also like Starbucks’ attempts at social awareness and desire to buy Fairtrade Coffee. It is much better than the Nescafe that most local cafes serve.

Having said that, Starbucks are also responsible for over exposure in the marketplace. Several places I’ve been to have multiple branches within a small area. Why would they want to compete amongst themselves?

History Today:

1419: The first defenestration of Prague took place. Catholic councillors were thrown from the windows of the town hall.

1718: William Penn – the founder of Pennsyvannia – dies.

1818: Emily Bronte is born. Without her there may have been no Kate Bush – many thanks Em.

1863: Henry Ford is born – the man who brought us the production line.

1898: Count Otto von Bismarck – the Unifier of Germany and the “Iron Chancellor” – dies.

1935: Penguin publish their first paperback – a biography of Shelly.

1947: Arnold Schwarzenegger is born – “I’ll Be Back!”

1948: The British Nationality Act is passed. This gives Commonwealth nationals the right to British citizenship.

1958: Kate Bush is born – hurray!!!

1966: West Ham win the World Cup for England. “C’mon you Irons”.

History Today

History Today:

1014: Byzantine emperor Basil II ‘Bulgar Slayer’ captures and blinds most of the 15000 strong Bulgarian army. Life was simpler in those days!

1565: Mary, Queen of Scots, marries Lord Darnley, her cousin.

1588: The Spanish Armada is defeated at the Battle of Gravelines.

1805: Alexis de Tocqueville is born. He goes on to become a historian, politician and political scientist.

1833: William Wiberforce dies.

1856: “Mad” Robert Schumann the composer dies.

1890: Vincent van Gogh dies. He is called a Post-Impressionist painter. A bit like Tommy Cooper then….

1948: The 14th Olympic Games open at Wembley. The first games in 12 years due to World War 2.

1949: The first weather forecast is broadcast by the BBC. Not sure whether or not they got it right though.

Dead Man Walking

Unfortunately it looks like Gordon Brown is not going to have a happy holiday in Southwold, following last night’s by-election in Glasgow East. To lose a safe seat is never a good thing but to have a majority of over 13500 turned over is a disaster.

Labour have lost safe seats in Crewe and Glasgow East, control of councils in Wales and look like having no clue as to how to stop the rot. I suppose that they’ll hope that “Things can only get better” between now 2010, the last date for a general election.

Today he’s making a major speech that will set forward his vision for Britain – yet another one. Behind him will be people who will see that vision but not him as its leader. Not even John Major had this many disasters to contend with and there seems to be no end in sight.

For the last 3 years we’ve told that Brown is an intellectual heavyweight and a conviction politician. They made it sound like a great alternative to the publicity fiend that he followed. Yet he’s failed to live up to the hype. He is indesisive, proane to floating ideas and then withdrawing them as soon as things look bad, making decisions that prove to be ill thought out (obilition of the 10p tax) and very uncomfortable in front of the cameras and with other heads of state.

Labour has a choice to make – follow him and probably lose the next election or remove him now and try to turn things around with a new leader.

But who would take the job? Brown has to bear a lot of responsibility for what is happening. His 10 years of “prudence” were nothing of the sort. The cupboard is bare and the only hope is to borrow more and more. We’re already saddled with a PFI debt bigger than Everest, the Northern Rock bail out and endemic tax avoidance that goes unpunished.

Would you want to take over that mess and the current economic situation?

History Today:

306 : Constatine is proclaimed Emperor in York. Later he’d be proclaimed Emperor in Rome.

1603: James I becomes the first monarch of England & Scotland.

1909: Louis Bleriot becomesthe first person to fly across the English Channel.

1917: Margaretha Zelle is sentenced to death. She was better known as Mata Hari.

1939: The Nazis begin the systematic “euthanasia” of disabled children. It was later stopped after mass protests when the German public found out – see they could have stopped the death camps, if they’d wanted too.

1943: Benito Mussolini is forced to resign.

1952: A sad day for Europhiles… The European Coal and Steel Community, which was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1951, is ratified. Later it would become the EU.

1968: Pope Paul VI condemned all forms of contraception in his encyclical “Humanae Vitae”.

1978: Britain’s first test tube baby is born.

Celebration Day

Some people say the FW and I aren’t normal. We tend to agree with them and take pride in that fact. This was highlighted yesterday. We decided that we’d do a proper celebration at a later date and so our anniversary meal was “Spam Up! For your anniversary”.

This confused me as we usually have Spam Thursday but can’t know because we had Spam fritters yesterday instead. Not fair!!!

My card from FW was also something to be seen as it was inspired by our third anniversary being the traditional “Pink Floyd” one. You know 25 is silver & 50 is golden then your 3rd is Floyd. It’;s nice to have a card from the Dark Side of The Loon….

JTL – I thought I’d catch people out. Eddie Rickenbacker was a WW1 fighter ace.

History Today:

1411: Highland and Lowland Scots fall out and slaughter each other at “Red Harlaw” – one of Scotlands bloodiest battles. And you thought that modern knife crime was bad….

1588: Elizabeth I makes her famous “I know I have the body of a week and feeble woman, but I have he heart of a king, and of a king of England too” – at Tilbury as the Spanish Armada approach. There were rumours that 5 soldiers were beheaded for cries of “PHWOAAAR – Awight Darling!”

1704: Following a sustained naval bombardment the Royal Marines storm and seize Gibralter from the Spanish.

1802: The author of the Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas Pere, was born. Altogether now: “All for one and one for all”.

1923: The Treaty of Lausanne defines the borders of Greece and Turkey and calls for a huge exchange of population.

3 Glorious Years – So FW Reckons Anyway….

History Today:

1745: Bonnie Prince Charlie lands at Eriskay to lay claim to the English throne. Obviously he was unltimately defeated. Everyone knows that successful invasions are always made from Thanet…

1888: The birth of Raymond Chandler – finest exponent of Crime Noir.

1892: Haile Selassie is born – Emperor of Ethiopia and hero of the Rastarfarians.

1914: Following the assassination of their Ostrich the Austro-Hungarian Empire delivers at ultimatum to Serbia. A few weeks later and the First World War starts.

1940: The Local Defence Volunteers are renamed the Home Guard after Winston Churchill coins the name. Altogether now: “Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler”.

1973: Eddie Rickenbacker dies – Anyone know what he was famous for?

1994: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn returns to Moscow after 20 years of exile in Siberia. I highly recommend his One Day in The Life of Alexander Denisovich.

1998: Scientists announce that they have cloned 3 generations of mice. Why can’t they clone something more useful, like Meg Ryan?

2005: The wedding of the century takes place. I remember this because I found a banana with my lunch that said “Top banana! It’s 3 years today.”

Invisible Plane

There was a story in yesterday’s Times regarding the government’s plans for a third runway at Heathrow. In order to satisfy the environmental constraints on increasing flights out of Heathrow the British Airports Authority came up with a great wheeze.

The government told them that they had to prove that the runway would not increase noise pollution or break EEC environmental limits. In fact they sent back the BAA’s figures several times and asked them to lower the limits.

How did they do this?

They decided that the best way was to introduce twin engined Jumbo Jets – Boeing or Airbus varieties. This then allowed them to prove that noise and environmental damage would actuaaly fall, in line with EEC targets and government promises.

There was only one problem…

There are no twin engined Jumbos. There are no plans for a twin engined Jumbo. The engine manufacturers have not begun to design such engines and have no plans to do so. In fact, the engines would need to be much larger than those in production today – they’d have to be powerful enough to do the work of 2 current engines each. Look at the sizer of an Airbus 380 engine and you’ll see how hard this will be – remember the 380 still needs 4.

So the government are basing their airport expansion plans on flawed and impossible figures. This is much the same as their desire not to allow planning for more High Speed Train Lines because they do not believe that the environmental costs would be worth the price.

Contrast this with our Continental neighbours. Here high speed trains are already replacing short haul airline services. So much so, that Air France are looking to set up their own train services in order to compete.

Trains have already replaced filghts between Northern and Southern France and the Paris/Brussels route has followed. Now it looks like Strasbourg will be next.

Here we have a govenment that says that there is no provable case that trains are more environmentally friendly enough to justify new high speed links. Our Transport Minister is a declared “modability agnostic”, in that he sees no benefit in championing one mode over the other.

Yet this government has set, and signed up too, increasingly higher targets for reducing our Carbon Footprint and yet fails to do the required work to reduce our pollution. Maybe they think that they don’t need too as it’ll be a problem for the next government and not them.

Herself – I did not break Shouty Boy; he had a bad chest when I got him. Just like his lung collapsing, when he was born, had nothing to do with me.

History Today:

Now one answered yesterday’s question. Alan Shepherd was the only man to play golf on the moon.

1398: Edward I defeats the Scots, under William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk. Poor Wallace, not only was he betrayed by Scottish noblemen (including Robert The Bruce) and later hung, drawn and quartered but he had to suffer at the hands of Mel Gibsons’ revisionist film. It was good though.

1812: A Wellington boot defeats the French at the Battle of Salamanca.

1847: The Mormons set up their headquarters in Salt Lake City.

1934: John Dillinger is shot by the FBI outside a cinema in Chicago – who played him in the film?

1944: The “Bretton Woods” conference of the United Nations created the World Bank and the IMF. And you thought that the Mission Impossible fims were fiction…

1986: MP’s vote to abolish corporal punishment in state schools.

2003: Uday and Qusay Hussein, Saddam’s sons, were killed in a gun battle with US troops in Northern Iraq.

Shouty Boy Comes To Stay

JTL – You win Friday’s competition. The S.S. Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler have been despatched and will come goose-stepping down your road shortly. As they have to go via Poland, France and Russia they maybe some time.

This weekend we had Shouty Boy to stay with us. His parents had gone off to a wedding and abandoned the Troublesome Trucks. He stayed with us and Stroppy Boy went to my parents – it’s always best to split them up to avoid arguments and violence.

On Saturday I took Shouty to Blaenavon to go on the train. We were very lucky as we were the only passengers and had the entire train to ourselves. I often wonder if they still run the train if no one turns up – I forgot to ask.

Afterwards we waited for FW to come home and then we all went to see Wall-E. I must say that this was a very good film and not too smaltzy. I really enjoyed it!

Yesterday Shouty stayed with FW while I went to chapel; he wasn’t too keen on chapel and we thought it would be better to let him do something he’d enjoy. So when I came home I was treated to freshly made Dalek biscuits – he really enjoys cooking.

In the afternoon we dropped FW off for work and went to Big Pit. He always asks to go when he comes up and I thought it would help to kill a few hours. He wsn’t impressed with our guide and his stories though but enjoyed the rest.

History Today :

1403 : Henry IV defeats Henry Percy (“Hotspur”) at the Battle of Shrewsbury. Percy was an ally of Owain Glyn Dwr – the great Welsh rebel.

1588 : The Spanish Armada are sighted off Cornwall. Francis Drake is advised at Plymouth Hoe while, are so legend says, playing a round of bowls.

1796 : Robert “Rabbie” Burns dies today. He’s mosts famous for inventing the Haggis and writing poetry that sounds like gobble-dee-gook to all but the most drunken of Scotsmen.

1897 : The Tate Gallery opens.

1899 : Ernest Hemingway is born.

1960 : Sirima Bandaranaike becomes the world’s first female Prime Minister in Sri Lanka.

1969 : Neil Armstrong becomes the first American to walk on the moon. He got there 10 years before The Police released their song. “This is one small step for man… “Beep” One giant leap for mankind… “Beep”. Of course, the first people actually on the moon were Wallace & Gromit and that famous Welsh astronaut Mog The Mechanic. My sister is still convinced that it was a hoax.

1998 : Alan B. Shepherd Jr. dies – what is he famous for?

Out Jew Out

History Today:

64 : Fire breaks near the Circus Maximus and much of Rome is destroyed. According to legend, he works in the cubicle next door, it was started by the Emperor Nero and he stood and fiddled around as the city burned. The fiddle wasn’t invented then but it sounds good.

1290: Edward I decides not to pay his debts to his moneylenders. Instead he orders the expulsion of all Jews from his kingdom, as they were the chief moneylenders. Approx 17000 are forced to flee.

1610: Some house and commercial premises dies today. His name is Michaelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio.

1817: Jane Austin dies. She gave her name to one of Britain’s worst car manufacturers and designers. Remember the Allegro Van den Plas and Princess?

1872: The Ballot Act introduces secret voting for elections. Previously anyone could see who you voted for. A similar idea is in effect in Zimbabwe today.

1925: Part 1 of one of the world’s most boring, but influential, books is published. Any idea what it was? A clue: it has something to do with Edward I’s edict.

Loud Music In Cars

We’re off to see the “they aren’t real! They’re Australian!”‘s on 1st August. When you see a tribute band does that mean that you’re a “tribute” audience? I must say that does have appealling aspects. Why pay £75+ for a ticket when you can see a “tribute” for about a third of that?

Why are tribute bands so successful anyway? Surely you’d be better off sitting in the house with a CD by the original artists? Yet I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of Ozzie Impersonators. Maybe its because I know that I’ll probably never get to see a live Floyd concert in my life time. Maybe its because I missed The Australian Doors and always wondered what I’d missed.

Surely a bunch of muso’s who can play faultless renditions of their heroes works could actually write and play their own material. Would anyone listen though?

History Today:

1453 : The English are defeated by the French (Boo! Hiss!) at the Battle of Castillon, the final clash of the Hundred Years War. Now, 550 years later, we’ve begun to take back those lost “English” territories. We just by second homes there.

1917 : George V decides to change his surname to show his disgust at the Germans. The Saxe-Coburgs now become the Windsors. That showed the hated Bosch didn’t it.

1936 : The Spanish Civil War begins as Generals Franco and Mola lead a right wing uprising. What is a “civil” war? Do you apologise when you kill someone?