Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Introducing the Incredible Auntie Broflem

Oh please, change the bloody record!!!!

If it wasn't bad enough that the current government do absolutely nothing but blame the previous government for the mess we're in; now they're blaming the Eurozone Crisis for youth unemployment breaking the 1million mark.

Enough is enough. In 1997, love him or loathe him (and most of us loathe him), Tony Blair said the New Labour government would not apportion blame on the previous regime. There was no point in spending their first term in office since Jim Callaghan doing nothing but blaming the Tories. They just had to get on with it and sort out the mess. Dave Blackadder and his team of corrupt and dislikeable rogues don't know what to do so they just blame everyone else. Might be nice if they thought of ways to sort the country out that didn't involve the rich getting even richer and the poor having the urine extracted from them (as well as much more money)!


It's amazing how quickly you remember and slip back into using the terms 'Miss' and 'Sir'. I suppose we all did it for so long when we were kids that some ancient part of the brain just re-activates sending you back to the 1970s.


I'm attempting to break in a pair of DMs. I have had these boots for something like 16 years and I have worn them 3 times. Each time I ventured to wear them, my feet were like too blue steaks by the end of the session. However, I need to break these shoes in as an emergency measure.

Yesterday, I spent a lot of time on my feet, walking around and generally orienting myself of my new environs. However, by the early afternoon, my feet were absolutely killing me and I was wearing a very comfortable pair of black shoes - perhaps I was wearing the wrong kind of socks? By 4pm I realised something was very very wrong and within fifteen minutes I was walking around work with one of my soles flapping about like a slapstick clown.

By the time I got to the car for my short journey home, both of my shoes had come detached from the upper - BOTH OF THEM! On closer examination at home, I realised that my only really decent pair of work shoes were crocked. Today, I'm on a study day (having umpteen policies and procedures to read through without fear of interruption) and figure if I can wear them a few hours today and then try them out at the weekend, to get them to a stage where I can maybe intimidate my new clients by wearing them, especially if I shave my head, buy some braces and some check button-collared shirts. Oh, and, of course, the obligatory swastika and Quink tattoos.


Bloody headless chickens...


I met someone the other day who is Superman's dad. Honest.


My mate Will talks about coffee like I talk about painkillers. The two things seem to have similar effects on us. I sometimes look at Will's Facebook updates of which about a third are coffee related and I'd think, the man is obsessed and addicted to caffeine. He will not argue with that assumption, I'm sure.

For the last six months, I have been driven on by coffee. I drink between 6 and 10 mugs of it in a day; sometimes more and if I don't have a coffee by mid-morning I start to get the mother of all caffeine withdrawal headaches. Imagine the last two days? I'm fixed into a rigid timetable. Yesterday, I thought my head was going to explode by midday.

Today I have already had four cups and my first was not until 10:00am. I should maybe have avoided drinking any. The logic being two fold - help me get through the rest of the week without a crushing headache during the afternoon and because these DMs are so bloody tight, the pain in my feet might have negated the pain in my head.

Incidentally... Nah, that really is tempting fate.


Did you know that once upon a time a US judge in a compensation case did the right thing?

Back in 1991, a pupil at a school in California was eating his lunch and started choking on his sandwich. One of his teachers administered the Heimlich Manoeuvre on him, effectively saving his life. Two days after the event, the school heard from the choking boy's lawyer, informing them they were suing the school for assault and actual bodily harm. The boy was complaining of pain in his ribs and bruising where the teacher had helped rest the clump of sandwich from his windpipe. The teacher was suspended pending the hearing; the boy and his family were suing for $1million.

When the case was presented to the courts, after much debate and witness testimony. the judge asked the boy's lawyer appointed medical expert what was the most logical outcome had the teacher not dislodged the 14 Big Macs the boy had probably attempted to swallow. The doctor said the boy would probably have died and that had a paramedic been present the same procedure would probably have been performed, although it might have been done in a more expert way. The judge threw the case out of court, reprimanded the lawyer and the family and ordered them to pay the costs. The teacher was praised by the judge.

A sort of happy story, right? Wrong. Despite winning the case and having a legally proclaimed 'hero' on the school staff; the board that controlled the school terminated the teacher's employment on the grounds that the pupils might be scared of him...

When I was at school, teachers used to hurl blackboard rubbers - wedges of wood and velvet - at your head if you spoke out of turn. Many times these connected and not necessarily with the right person. If that had happened in the USA, most of my class mates would have been millionaires by the time they sat their O levels.


What a difference a job makes.


It's 16th November and I picked 4 big juicy raspberries off of our plants a while ago. There is nothing quite as weird as eating soft summer fruit straight from the bush when we should all be thinking about snow shoes, scarves and central heating. Like I said last week, unless we get a really bad frost, I could still be picking them by the 1st December. That would be extremely odd.


I hate Christmas. I say it every year and normally get called things ranging from Scrooge to The Grinch to words that are unrepeatable. Bovvered? Nah. The thing is, I know a lot of people who find the entire 'Christmas Season' almost distasteful. It starts in some places in August, gets into full swing around October and from November onwards you start to get so pissed off with Christmas this and Yule that by the time the actual day arrives, for some it's a massive anticlimax and it's all down to retailers desperation and the public's gullibility and belief they need to be eating Christmas products that have sell by dates before December even starts.

The thing is, I remember back in the late 1970s when Christmas season started on the 1st of December; the day that most of the high street shops changed their windows; market stalls took on a more festive feel and you started seeing all the paraphernalia associated. However, while Christmas sort of started on that day, the subsequent couple of weeks were very low key, despite the appearance, everyone knew that the actual day was still a few weeks away. It wasn't really until the week before the 25th that everything seemed to gear up totally for the festivities. Now, the fun has gone out of Christmas long before presents are opened. We seem to be installing this belief in children that Christmas is a two month long festival of joy and excess and that means that more and more decorations are going to appear earlier than ever.

I know at least three people who have their houses regaled in full scale Yule assault already and there's the house down the road that seems to put it's decorations up earlier every year. We wondered for a while if they were maybe a Hindu family celebrating Diwali, but no, they're just fecking stupid English people, who don't even have young children to impress.

Last year, Christmas felt better than I can remember for a long time. The snow helped, because it reminded me of Christmases in Canada, in the late 1960s, when for a young boy who still believed in Father Christmas. However, my memories of Canadian Christmases might be infected by Coca Cola adverts, which sometimes catch that nostalgic feel better than any Hollywood director could. The reality is that Christmases tend to be mild and damp despite the last couple of cold winters.

Speaking of Father Christmas. We watched the Finnish film Rare Exports the other night, fully expecting it to be in the same league as other Scandinavian stuff we've watched in the last couple of years - Sweden's Let the Right One In redefined the vampire genre; Norway's Trollhunter was a great little film jam-packed with sly humour and surprisingly good special effects. And Denmark's cult TV smash The Killing asked the question of why the British and US can't make dramas as good as it. So with three of the five main Scandinavian countries accrediting themselves excellently, Finland came to the fore with a tale about the true origin and nature of Santa Claus.

Oh dear. It started so well. It's a short film, the 84 minutes claimed by IMDB suggests that possibly the version we saw had been cut, but reading reviews and descriptions of the film this seems highly unlikely. The closest thing I can compare it to is an Edna O'Brien novel. O'Brien used to tell stories that had love affairs in them; she would build the tension up to the point where you thought she was going to get into some deep descriptive pornography, but ended up stopping the narrative just short of the act and continuing the next chapter with, 'the following morning'... This is Rare Exports a film that offers lots and delivers nothing.

It has moments that are quite creepy or intense; the build up is exceptional and the humour works well because like Trollhunter, it is irreverent about known 'fact' to the point of parody. But then it starts to go deeply into the farcical and yet for all it's slapstick nature it makes a point of stopping the action just as it could get interesting. It is the ultimate non-pornographic prick tease movie. The viewer is shown nothing apart from suggestion; killings are done off screen; in fact all the action takes place off screen, because it is dominated by three buffoonish Finns and an annoying child who seems to be more of an authority on Father Christmas than the British team trying to dig him out of the mountain.

I won't give anything away, because there is little worth giving away. It has a slightly nonsensical ending; a climax that uses some interesting (read: cheap) cgi, yet nothing to stretch the imagination and makes you wonder why they didn't use this cgi to actually give the film some action. Hiding everything, including Father Christmas - the alleged main antagonist, from the film devalued it so much. Maybe it tried to be a Finnish version of Gareth Edwards' Monsters, but even that had some money shots; this film failed on just about every level. Don't be tempted by the very good promo campaign.


After a couple of hours of wading through paperwork (and several more cups of coffee) and realising that I have to buy a new pair of shoes because the DMs are not proving to be even a last resort. I find myself back here, in front of the place I spent most of the last six months; listening to Steven Wilson's solo album and reading how David Cameron is fast becoming synonymous with misogynous. His, albeit quite innocent, faux pas when attempting to impersonate Australian PM Julia Gillard seems to have upset some people. Couple this with his two other indiscretions - the 'calm down, dear' and innuendo directed at his own Corby MP at PMQs a couple of months ago, is beginning to give the impression that our PM is a bit of a plonker, socially as well as politically.

The fact that Gillard sounds more Australian than a XXXX advert and was born in Wales shouldn't be a reason to ridicule her, however lightly. I admit it should be, but, you know, I have Welsh ancestors and a friend who lives in Queensland...

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