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Archive for August, 2007

Mistaken for a vandal…

I rather like the idea of being an author and then being mistaken for a vandal by signing copies of my own book. This happened to famous author Stephen King on a trip to Australia. Apparently he was wandering around a bookshop and decided to sign several copies of his own books. Bookshop staff immediately ran over in the belief that he was vandalising the books.

The BBC reports: “Bookshop manager Bev Ellis said: “When you see someone writing in one of your books you get a bit toey [nervous].”

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Eat what you kill?…

Caveman behaviour twice in one day? Yes… earlier I posted about Mr Dunn, a barrister being tried for GBH (Below) – but now my mind has turned to diet – the stoneage diet.

I was reading the Independent and came across a two page spread on the stoneage diet. The Indie reports that the ‘rule of thumb’ is – “If you can’t gather it from a bush or tree, or spear it, it’s probably best not to eat it.”

So… lean meat, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables. Eggs, dried fruit (without added sugar or vegetable oil) nuts and seeds are fine. Unfortunately, pizzas, pasta, cornflakes, beans, grains, potatoes and dairy products are not acceptable.

I read through the article to see if H M Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, had anything to do with this article. It appears not. (Readers may be aware that I suffer from Irrationalis Loca Donaldsonia, a most unfortunate condition, which flares up whenever busybodies, doctors and others start telling me how to live my life.)

I am told that a diet over rich in meat can lead lead to lethargy and flatulence. Thankfully, I have evolved from the days of Homo Erectus (although it was a close run thing) and I am pleased to say that I have developed the ability to spear a bottle of Rioja from a fair distance – and I enjoy nothing better than using my stoneage skills to hunt down a bit of pasta, pizza, espresso and the odd pack of cigarettes. I am doing my duty for my country – paying fairly heavy tax on wine and cigarettes and, if I go to the great blog in the sky early, I will not be a burden to our over-burdened sceptred isle in terms of pension and medical care. In fact, I should be given an honour for this selfless devotion to releasing housing, minimising my carbon footprint, minimising my impact on the tax payers of the future and taking myself out of the gene pool early. Yes. Time for the government to invent a suitable new honour.

Mind you… I haven’t gone yet… so the matter is still executory. I am working on it. We British never surrender. It may take time… but, in the end, I’ll get it right. Ars longa, vita brevis etc etc….

In the meantime… a bit of jazz… a glass of Rioja… a cigarette – outside of course. It would be ironic if I died of pneuomonia from the cold and inclement weather.

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Out with the old…in with the blue…

WebCameron has been using Photoshop again – changing the tone of his Conservatives by defacing the £40,000 logo brought in fairly recently to replace the Thatcherite torch emblem of conservatism and turning what is supposed to be a tree (Top left) into a truly bizarre blue squiggle with a cloud and the sun peeping in to the left…. ironic that sunshine should come from the left. (Photoshop, for those readers who do not know, is a very clever bit of picture imaging software. One may do many things with Photoshop)

I was pleased to read in the Press the other day that a Cafe owner has laid down the law to his non-smoking customers. Outside tables, he rules, are only for smokers. If you don’t smoke, you have to sit inside so smokers can enjoy a fag with their cuppa and slice. This is a policy which I have put to the management of The Bollo. Apparently, one non-smoker bought a packet of cigs from a newsagent and left them on the table to look as if he was a smoker! The British are nothing, if not inventive. Unfortunately, the eagle-eyed cafe owner rumbled him and told him that he had to smoke to sit at the outside tables. Excellent nonsense. A very British way of doing things.

It seems the Russkies are up to no good. Apart from possibly being involved in mysterious killings on British streets, they are now claiming to own a large part of the Arctic and have planted a flag on the sea bed under the Arctic to back up their territorial claim. Unfortunately, Reuters published a picture purporting to show Russian explorers staking their claim by publishing a photograph of a submarine. A 12 year old Finnish boy got his Nokia out and telephoned a local newspaper to point out that the picture used in many newspapers using the Reuters report was, in fact, a picture of two submersibles used in a film about the Titanic.

W G Charon, my great-uncle, was a keen gentleman cricketer. I share his interest. Before Richard & Judy, Blue Peter, and a host of other television programmes started misleading members of the public with dodgy phone-ins and ‘selective editing’, and the BBC published an unfortunate edit of a TV documentary about H M The Queen, I may well have been quite happy to have passed this ‘altered image’ off as an ‘exclusive’ picture of ‘a giant’ of our summer game, WG Grace.

Unfortunately I now have to ensure that this blawg is written in chronological order, has no voting systems, telephonic or otherwise, where punters have absolutely no chance of winning anything, and does not attempt to manipulate, distort or alter events as they occur. So… here is a picture of me, taken only this evening, while I had a few glasses of wine at The Swan, in a W G Grace outfit and beard and superimposed onto an image of a village cricket green.

I am ready – should the England One Day International cricket team need my services.

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A WWII Luftwaffe pilot in my garden?…

I seem to find myself, late on a Friday or Saturday night, wasting a fantastic amount of time on Facebook or other people’s blogs. Last night I decided, on my return from The Bollo, that there was a WWII Luftwaffe pilot, complete with Stuka, in my garden drinking Weissbeer and I persisted in this delusion for some time. I also managed to confuse Dawkins of The God Delusion for Dworkin, although I am reasonably familiar with the work of both men, and then could not even spell Dworkin. I plead in my defence that I taught Jurisprudence for some years – a fascinating subject; but not one that has much leverage down at The Bollo late on a summer evening. I may also have taken juice… in fact, I had been drinking Sangiovese, a Sicilian wine with a remarkable ability to induce euphoria and a feeling of general wellbeing to all men and women.

The WWII Luftwaffe pilot had left by the time I rose at 4.30 this morning – and, pleasingly, he had taken his Stuka with him. Unfortunately, my Facebook page appeared to be littered with people answering a question I asked about why we need God – and the answers were remarkably sensible. Erudition indeed. My own answers to my own question, various pokes, hugs, fish being sent and wall writing was, however, not quite so fluent or, indeed, sensible.

I am now at The Swan writing –  an espresso, a large glass of tap water and a glass of Rioja to my left. It is my mini-bar. To my right, an ashtray. There are young children in the garden, but the heat seems to have induced torpor. I am being observed by a smiling two year old in a pink dress. I am not quite sure why, but I do tend to find that I attract drunks, nutters, shouters and other curious people. Perhaps it is because I make eye contact and smile ?

I had an early morning cider drinker wander over to me at 6.45 am the other morning. I was settling down at the Hothouse Cafe in Chiswick to read The Mirror, drink several espressos and get on with the business of smoking Silk Cut. He asked me if he could have a cigarette (I gave him one) and then asked if I thought the sun would be out. I looked into the sky. The Sun was bright and already rising. Having used the Socratic method of teaching in law tutorials for over twenty-five years, I decided to ask him firstly if he would define “sun” and what meaning he attached to “out”. He smiled and, lurching only slightly, said “The second part of your question is more difficult for me than the first. If I say that ‘sun’ is the source of life then ‘out’ must mean “shine.”

The wonderful logic in his question and answer was then revealed, because he then said “Rather strange that if the Sun is ‘out’, the light is on, but when a light is out, it is off and not shining.” I started laughing and heard myself saying “Excellent… I’ll definitely remember that one.”

He seemed to be quite satisfied with this and asked me if I thought the off licence at the Convenience Store across the road would be open, said ‘goodbye’ and drifted off diagionally across the road to find out.

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Reactionary Snob has an interesting post: “Tintin’s Travels”. Apparently, Foreign Secretary David Milliband was allowed to visit Afghanistan and Pakistan but WebCameron’s planned visit to Pakistan, after visiting troops in Afghanistan, was cancelled on security grounds.

The Sunday Mirror reports that he was not able to meet the Commander, Brigadier John Lorrimer, because the Brigadier had already made plans to fly back for a break “shooting in Scotland”. Although “senior Whitehall sources” are reported as saying that this was ‘utterly humiliating’ for WebCameron, he was able to listen to troops complaining about the fact (quite rightly) that they had to pay council tax in the UK while fighting in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile we learn that Gordon Brown has returned to London to take personal charge of the foot and mouth crisis, which appears to have originated from a private pharamaceutical laboratory at Pirbright, a government research establishment.

Our innate prejudice against Spain with the casting of FI world champion, Alonso, as a pantomime villain, continues in the press. To be sure, the Spaniard does seem to drone on about not getting the treatment he deserves and that team-mate, Hamilton, is getting all the PR. His latest stunt was to delay Hamilton, thereby preventing Hamilton from completing a final qualifying lap. MacLaren, already up to their ears in drama with Ferrari, have been penalised by the ‘stewards’ and cannot win any constructor points this weekend in Hungary. Hamilton has been promoted to pole on the grid (Alonso demoted to sixth). Cry God for Hammy, St George and England…. is all I can bring myself to say.

Mind you… I am drinking some good Bourbon wine… a delicious Rioja… so Viva Espana on that score.

It was bad enough learning, some time ago, that Fisher Waterhouse had set up a law office on Second Life. Now, it appears, a ‘virtual jihad hits second life website’. (Sunday Times 4th August) Islamic militants are suspected of using Second Life to hunt for recruits and mimic real-life terrorism.

For my part, I may join Second Life to get ‘virtually over-refreshed’ and then I won’t have to bother with the real thing. I could live until I am 150, like Keith Richards plans to, if I do that. I am on Facebook if you wish to come and ‘write on my wall’ or send me a fish for my garden. You will find that there are a few UK Blawgers wasting time there as well.

The Sunday Times headline on p5 took me by surprise: “Queen stopped Margaret being regent”. The reports states that The Queen ‘personally intervened’ to ensure that well known internationalist and comedian, Prince Philip, would rule in the event that she died without an adult heir. Does Prince Charles know about this?

Gordon Brown, having failed to persuade Paddy Pantsdown to join the ‘government of all the talents’ as Northern Ireland Secretary, has now come up with a plan to make Ashdown an Afghan Overlord. Well… we have Quartet Envoy, Tony Blair, wandering about the Middle East solving the problems out there… so why not have yet another British politican wandering around trying to solve problems in Afghanistan. The Army reckons that we’ll be in Afghanistan for another forty odd years so why not? Interestingly, the Sunday Times report states that Hamid Karzai, the current Afghan overlord, has gone to the US to seek advice from George W Bush to ‘discuss how best to consolidate his leadership and confirm the support of international agencies.”

As Dubya appears not to have any idea on how to consolidate his own position for his remaining term of office, and is not exactly popular with international agencies at the moment, it is a rather curious choice of adviser or mentor for Karzai to choose. But there we are. Perhaps Karzai just wanted one of those US Bomber jackets with his name on it given to visiting heads of state when they go to Camp David ?

I very nearly lost the will to live, and do a bit of running amok, when I read in The Sunday Times that “Council officials are mounting surveillance operations for the first time to catch householders who put out rubbish on the wrong day.”

This is the brainchild of Southend Council in Essex. What is happening to our once proud, ‘Armada defeating’, Regicidal (Charles 1), country? We are already spied on by all and sundry. The police want to stop speeders and take saliva samples for their DNA database, and the government, already enlisting unfit people to be community support plod, wants all of us to watch each other and report infringements to the appropriate authorities.

“Britain never never shall be slaves” as Rule Brittania goes. Do me a ‘por favor’…. are we not becoming just that with all these attacks on freeedom, liberty, civil liberties.?

Well… the sun is shining… and the ‘ living is easy’ now the Rioja is weaving through my blood. Time for another… and you will never hear me say “Pimms o’clock”.

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Suits you, Sir…

“It depends on what you want in your wardrobe – a bespoke made to measure suit or one that fits four other people.”

Nigel Savage. CEO, The College of Law 

You have to hand it to Nigel Savage… he knows how to do sound-bytes and is always quick on riposte.  The quote above is one of his best – a response to the news that The College of Law missed out on taking BPP Law School’s lucrative contract with the City LPC consortium  (£15 million) Story: The Lawyer

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Zulus… there were thousands of them…

This morning I decided that I needed to have a relaxing lunch, perhaps a glass or two, read the papers, write a bit and just enjoy the day. I went to The Swan, another favoured local of mine. They have a garden at The Swan, shady in part, with luxurious foliage. It is a place where a blawger may relax and drink; sometimes with others who pop in with the same idea.

I fell in the door as The Swan opened at 12.00, took a position at table 47 in the garden, ordered a pint of ‘Numbers’ to quench my thirst after the great trek from my staterooms, and opened the Guardian to read of the events of our times as seen through the eyes of a Guardian journo or features writer. I then ordered a glass of Tempranillo and the pasta of the day (large).

It was then that I heard, not the beating of spears against animal hide shields, but the sound of babies and investment bankers getting out of SUVs. The women poured in first, wrestling oversized prams through the rear doors of the pub, onto the decking. The babies in the prams were already crying. And then came the men, almost to a man, dressed in adolescsent cargo pants cut off at the knee, polo shirts, or ordinary work shirts with no tie, sleeves rolled up and shirt tails left hanging out. To my jaded eye, they were a mix of City types, and, probably the odd City associate or ‘of counsel’. Some had shades, others appeared to be doing deals on their mobiles.

A friend of mind, leant forward and said “MILFs” and said that he had to go. There were Americans, South Africans, a few New Zealanders / Aussies and a few Brits. Given the number of introductions, it was clear that they did not know each other. If they did, then I think they need to consult their doctors and get treatment for attention deficit disorder. Quite a few of the men were holding beer bottles with slices of lime in them. Christ on a bicycle… so late Eighties as to be laughable.

It was like an updated version of ‘Happy Days’. The modern day ‘Fonz’ sported jeans, a Turnbull & Asser shirt, and aviator shades and kept saying ‘Hey…. readies behind the bar, brother.” Maybe he was the head honcho… I was beyond interest or caring.

And still they came… like Zulus… thousands of ’em. A ‘smugness of bankers”?

I could take no more. I went up to the Bar to pay my bill and escape. A lovely Aussie adventurer, doing the European grand tour and working at The Swan, laughed and said “Like the babies squealing?”

“It is like Montessori meets a City lawyers or bankers conference out there… and I can’t listen to any more forced bonhomie and corporate merde du boeuf. I’ll be back at 6.00 when, hopefully, the men in cut off trousers, and the babies and eager parents have gone.”

Aussie adventurer laughed.

I am now back at my Staterooms – improving my mind listening to Italian opera and thinking. I have a glass of Vitriolla to my right, Silk Cut to my left and I am looking at a sign on my private office door, in my own home, which reads “It is against the Law to smoke in these premises.” I did not steal the notice. I was given it by a publican friend of mine.

I have, this day, become a grumpy old git… again.

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