Thursday, July 31, 2008

“Helping criminals commit suicide since 1852…”

When prisoners on suicide watch in prison have their shoelaces removed for fear they may hang themselves, I can’t be alone in being impressed at the robustness of their choice in footwear fastenings. I’m not sure of the breaking point of the average shoelace, but I’d hypothesise that it would be less than the weight of the average person.

Fred West, arguably the most well-known of shoelace related suicides, wasn’t a small man (exacerbated by a sizeable bouffant and Mungo Jerry sideburns), but successfully bought the farm via this self-inflicted route. Conversely, my shoelaces snap on a fairly regular basis when I’m merely popping shoes on my feet, so either I’m tying them in a heavy-handed and unsustainable fashion, or I’m buying crap laces. It seems that the crims and perps of unstable mind that populate our prisons either have a predilection towards good quality laces (maybe there’s something subliminal in their psyche that, possibly, they may have to swing from a door frame with them one day), or, err… have hollow bones. Like birds.

The ability for such simple items to support the weight of a fully grown serial killer is impressive and perhaps something that the Shoelace Marketing Board should be actively shouting about, perhaps with an ad campaign along the lines of Araldite (the one where a man is suspended over a frothing sea of sharks, though is prevented from being torn limb-from-limb as he’s bonded to a board by his super-strong glue).

Ironically, had Fred sported shoes with Velcro fastenings, he could still have carried out his plan by sticking them onto his Dickensian mutton-chops before leaping off the chair. Not the most dignified way to go perhaps, though effective nonetheless. I bet when he was alive, you never saw him in slip-ons. Some people are just born to be serial killers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

“Dey do do dat don’t dey dough?”

While watching the semi-final of Masterchef last night, it occurred to me that three of the four contestants (Liz McLachan [the Atomic Kitten], Louis Emerick [“Migch” from Brookside] and Mark Morahan [from some soap or other]) were Liverpudlian.

It’s an observation I’m struggling with as there didn’t appear to be a box of McCain’s Micro Chips in sight.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

What’s It Called In Your House?

Nowadays, the prospect of hoiking one’s arse off the sofa and shuffling across the room to press a button on the telly seems unthinkable, though unbelievably, there was a day when this was the only way of changing the channel. This all changed when remote controls were first introduced in the early ‘80s and there ensued a wide variety of nicknames for them. “Remote” now seems to be pretty much the norm, though there are still a few hangovers from the old days.

Among examples I still hear today are “The Blip”, “The Zapper” (and rarely “The Frank” [Zapper]). My lovely wife’s name of choice is the beautifully explanatory “The Presser”, while it was always known in our house when I was growing up, as simply “The Sound Thing”. As I recall our original Sound Thing had six buttons (volume up/down, channel up/down, mute and standby), ran off a car battery and had to be held an inch from the telly, thereby negating the need for a “Sound Thing” at all.

These days, our front room is overrun with remote controls with buttons of every shape and description for devices that form part of the modern entertainment system. The capabilities of even the most simplistic of machines is now vast and hence the buttons have shrunk accordingly. Sadly, evolution has yet to catch up and human fingers have remained the same size; the result is that often buttons are pressed in error, but this is a minor gripe.

With the plethora of buttons at your fingertips, you either need the dexterity of Liberace or small child-like digits, which might go some way to explaining why our four-year old is so adept at pressing 7 and 4 to watch children’s channel CITV (to clarify, he’s a small child, not a flamboyant pianist). Jeremy Beadle, God rest his soul, was also probably quite tasty with a Sound Thing. On the other hand, maybe he was crap. Ho ho…

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

“I’ll have ‘War’ please Jim...”

Hands are being gleefully rubbed in the Ministry of Defence this week as it was confirmed that two spanking new aircraft carriers are to be built at enormous cost. Firms including Corus in Scunthorpe, and MacTaggart Scott & Co. in Mid Lothian (I defy anyone to think of a more Scottish sounding name) will bag over £91m to Airfix them together.

In order to convey the magnitude of such enormous and costly vessels, the BBC 6 O'clock News, using a topical comparison, showed their size in terms of tennis courts, illustrated by a natty graphic depicting aircraft carriers covered in prime Wimbledon turf complete with chalk markings. The correspondent helpfully informed the viewer that the deck surface of these immense warships is equivalent to 104 such courts.

While topical, this was slightly confusing. As my lovely wife pointed out, everyone knows that dimensions of large objects are measured in football pitches, not tennis courts, and as such, they would each be as big as four football pitches. It’s just as well the there was no major boxing bout over the weekend or they may have been illustrated in terms of 450 boxing rings. Alternatively, 753 snooker tables or even (using a little schoolboy geometry and the formula piR2 to determine surface area) 119,439 dartboards, though laid end-to-end, this amounts to no more than 93,700.

Come to think about it, a giant dartboard might be of benefit in helping planes to land, with points awarded for ‘Bullseye’ accuracy. Pilots could be encouraged to “listen to Tony” in the control tower, with prizes such as caravans and speedboats awarded for exemplary landings. Overshooting the runway, however, would result in them receiving nothing more than their PFH (plane fare home).

Monday, July 07, 2008

Muzak To My Ears

While out browsing/shopping the other day I became gently aware that the music being piped around the shop was a pan pipe version of If You Leave Me Now by Chicago.

Try as I might, I can’t think of a more bland and impassive example of tunesmithery; not unpleasant, but just empty and devoid of any emotion. It was like having melted mild cheddar dripped into my ears.

Irritating Irritating Irritating

A fresh crop of egotistical individuals have joined the Big Brother house, including the flamboyant and theatrical (and annoying) Belinda, who persisted in announcing her name to her fellow housemates as “Belinda Belinda Belinda!”, the rationale behind this repetition being “If you say it three times, no-one forgets it.”

It probably wouldn’t have been a good policy to adopt had her name been Kay. Her housemates might taken her to be some kind of white supremacist, and first impressions count in the highly volatile BB melting pot. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot with Mohamed.

Hopefully, Magnus Magnusson will never be persuaded to join Celebrity Big Brother, as he runs the risk of sounding like some sort of rabid dog.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Matured Longpig

“OAP Carvery £4.50” said a hastily-scrawled sign outside a pub the other day, advertising its traditional comestibles to passing trade.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think I’ll stick with beef, (I’ve always found pensioners far too tough).