Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year

Even with the doom and gloom all about us, I guarantee you will laugh when you see this.

No Irish jokes please.

Happy New Year to all my readers.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Indian Ocean Tsunami

This is getting to me. Mostly it's the abject horror of the scale of it and the helplessness. Also can we please call an end to:

  • The obsession with the numbers of those who have been killed
  • Moaning about Tony Blair being on holiday and not caring enough
  • Moaning about the Americans not letting the countries know it was on the way
  • Moaning about the government not giving enough money
  • The idea that money is all that's needed

Let's just all get on with helping, which for most of us is giving what we can.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Stressed Out

I've just heard that my wife has successfully arrived in Australia. She'll be gone for three weeks.

This leaves me with the four teenagers and the menagerie to look after, so my daily dose of stress may increase.

Last night I was out at a party until 2am playing music with friends. A good start that is unlikely to continue. Having said that, my son just rang me (I'm at work) saying that he has been invited by his mate down to Devon for the new year. That should help.

One down, three to go.

Jean Therapy

And now for some unabashed literary exhibitionism.

Those who know me realise that over the last 18 months, I have become fit and lost weight. Lots of it. I used to weigh 17 stone. Now I weigh under 12 and have completed a half-marathon. I can now bear to look at myself in the mirror. In the shower, like Tony Blair, I can now look down on the unemployed.

As a treat to myself, I bought a pair of Levi 501 Jeans, waist size 32 (I used to be 44, but I won't go on about it). Not that I pushed the financial boat out, I bought them for a fiver at a local charity shop. They don't appear to have been worn.

The fashion conscious among you will realise that these are the trendy jeans with a button fly. At first I thought "great", no zips to trap your pubes (or worse) or break at embarrassing moments. It's satisfying in a retro, trendy technophobe sort of way, even if I might look a bit like (the comparatively lardarse) Jeremy Clarkson.

That was until I went for the first slash.

Whilst you can quickly unbutton, whip it out, then do the business, you can't button the bugger up again without going at it from the top. This means undoing belt buckle and all the top buttons. In a public loo, this makes me self-conscious, as if I'm some kind of exhibitionist parading my (sadly small) willy for all to admire.

I now make sure I "go" before I go out wearing them.

Remember Joseph?

He was the one with the pregnant girlfriend. The one who said she hadn't done it with anyone. Like, yeah right! He stuck with her though didn't he? Fair play to the bloke.

Joseph, Joseph, in your cattle stall,
Joseph, Joseph, what do you make of it all, make of it all?

You and your working man's hands, your wrinkled eyes:
How come that you understand? How come so wise?
How come that you show no surprise
When all around the snowy ground is golden tonight, this frosty night?
How come that you know just who the baby is this winter midnight?

Oh, Joseph, Joseph, in your cattle stall,
Joseph, Joseph, what do you make of it all?

Do you know these three Kings, just who they are:
Caspar and Melchior and Balthazar?
Do you know why they came so far
Or even why the air is full of angels tonight, this frosty night?
And why your head is full of music on this winter midnight?

Oh, Joseph, Joseph, in your cattle stall,
Joseph, Joseph, what do you make of it all?

You were so true for so long, so unafraid.
But nobody sings you any songs, no serenades.
And although your face is old and pale
Yet I for one will keep you in my mind's eye tonight, this frosty night;
You're just the man that I want to remember on this winter midnight.

Oh, Joseph, Joseph, in your cattle stall,
Joseph, Joseph, what do you make of it all, make of it all?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Over the Top?

Are compulsory identity cards really that bad?

Isn't my passport a government-issued identity card that is compulsory (if I want to travel abroad)?

Can't my credit card company tell where I've been, when, and what I did? Isn't this information available to the government if I were suspected of a crime? (the cynical will say they have access to it whatever their reason. I'm not cynical).

Even if I don't have a credit card, can't those cameras tell where I drive my car?

Do I need to keep my car and bank account?

Wouldn't I want non-refutable identity for my documents to help prevent myself being ripped off by criminals?

Is it a sad reflection on society that we might need identity cards?

Have I just lost my Woolly Liberal credentials.

Is David Blunkett a prat?

I suspect the answer to all the above questions is "yes" (including the very first).

The Next Asbestosis

Strapping a microwave transmitter to your head may seem a risky practice.

And so it is.

With 1.5 billion people using mobiles, the claims, in today's litigious society will make America's trade deficit seem piffling by comparison.

I daresay the insurers and reinsurers have this in their radar.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Too Early to Crack Open a Bottle?

David Blunkett reportedly said this when asked how he felt about the death of Harold Shipman. It seems appropriate to ask the same question on his own demise.

As a Bleeding Heart Liberal, I refuse to get off the fence on this one.

He may have been the most authoritarian and illiberal Home Secretary from any party. I may hate his policies, but that's not what this is about.

Surely we all respect and admire his achievements in the face of disability. The unimaginable problems faced in overcoming his blindness and his genuine working-class background. We certainly need people like him in public life, but that's not what it's about either.

What bloke hasn't made a complete prat of himself over a woman? It seems he was unfortunate in that she turned out to be a dud. Bad judgement on his part maybe. Getting her pregnant was even more iffy. I know he's blind, but you'd expect him to be able to see if he's got a condom on his cock.

Bad judgement indeed. Maybe that's what it's about.

I'm not sure.

Maybe he'll now join that lot "Fathers For Justice" and we'll see him climbing the Severn Bridge in a Spiderman outfit.

I wish him well.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Sorry No Blogs

You may have noticed a lull in Blog activity at Honey End Land. There's not much to report, so I thought it best not to bother you with that.

But I've done that now, haven't I?

Normal service may be resumed soon.

While you're waiting, here's something that made me howl with laughter. I can't quite figure out whether it's supposed to be serious or "ironic", but why would anyone want to describe the entire Bible using Lego?

Note the references to nudity, violence etc. Also check out The Reverend (who created it). He's the coolest looking clergy dude with the coolest website name.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Full Circle

This is a really happy story.

Many years ago I saw a play on television about a bunch of underprivileged kids going for a day out to Wales and, being free from school, wreaking havoc. It was written in a gritty, strong reality style (such as Mike Leigh or Roddy Doyle). I loved it.

The final credits were shown to the tune of Teddy Bears' Picnic on an acoustic guitar. I was so captivated I learned the tune myself and it is now a fixed part of my repertoire. However, I have only ever heard it played (by anyone else) that once, and I never found out who played it.

Today I read a friend's blog which refers to Nic Jones. Interested, I looked at his recordings and there, on the album In Search of Nic Jones is Teddy Bears' Picnic.

After a spot of Googling, the BBC TV play, Our Day Out was shown in 1979 and was by Willy Russell.

I'm now going to buy the Nic Jones CD.

Bliss.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Cars For Ever

We have acquired yet another car. My Dad, who is 80, after a "safe" accident, has realised that he can no longer drive.

We've known for some time that his eyesight is rubbish and that he shouldn't be driving. None of us wanted to confront him. We hoped he'd have some kind of incident, without hurting anyone, to bring him to his senses.

Bashing a bollard did the trick.

Yesterday I took the train to London to claim the rather immaculate but boring Renault Megane, six years old with only 40,000 on the clock.

The journey from my home in Gloucestershire to Bexley, south east of London is a fairly typical cross-country journey requiring navigation either through or around our great capital.

The off-peak one-way train fare from Stroud to Bexley, including the tube connection between Paddington and London Bridge was a totally bleeding ridiculous £36.70. I also needed to get from home to Stroud Station. My wife took me, but a taxi would have cost about £15.

The train to London was ok, but the tube was delayed and draughty. I had to change at Paddington, at Moorgate, at London Bridge and walked half a mile to my parents house from the station. Total journey time was just about 3 hours.

I drove back in the shiny new car. It cost about £12 in petrol, door to door. I had the heater on and listened to music and the radio. It took just under two and a half hours (A2-M25-M4).

Yesterday I heard that train fares are going up again at a rate higher than inflation and that petrol duty is being frozen.

Why don't they just concrete over the railway lines and put buses and lorries on them? The motorways would then be even better.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Chucking Change

I share my friend's exasperation of fly tipping.

In a news story today, I read that one in seven of us actually chucks money away. We're not talking about putting in collection boxes, we're talking about littering the streets with the stuff or chucking it in the bin.

Either I refuse to believe this or I get depressed.

Football hooligans have at times been found guilty of throwing coins at referees. That's different. In my book, that's less of a crime. At least the money's being put to a use; a 2p investment in some violence.

Who knows, the ref may even have deserved it.