Thursday, January 29, 2009

Unrestricted Diet

There was another example of the liberal and uninformed use of the word “literally” during a documentary presented by adolescent biffer turned camp sweary fashionista Gok Wan the other day:

“What would you eat in a typical day?” a sincere Gok quizzed a gargantuan teenager, who apparently now wasn‘t quite as gargantuan as she used to be.
“I’d eat anything and everything… literally.” she replied.

I’m not surprised she ballooned to 18 stone. Frankly, I think she did well to keep it below 50.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sucking Up Millions

James Dyson – why do people hold him in such high regard? He invented a bloody Hoover (and I know Hoover is a brand name and I should use “vacuum” instead, but I don’t care).

In fact, he didn’t even invent, but improved an already existing device for picking up dust from carpets. In the grand scheme of things (and call me controversial) this seems a fairly unimportant contribution to the awesome scope of human engineering. Other unnamed and undoubtedly less wealthy engineers have built tunnels under the French/Swiss border to recreate the big bang, landed probes on the surface of Mars or spanned seemingly unspannable distances with cantilevered constructions. James Dyson removes fluff from floors and he’s held up as some kind of engineering hero.

Whilst this post was bubbling in my head, and lest I vented my spleen Dysonwards without justification, I conducted a little research and looked him up on Wikipedia in case there was anything more to him. Strangely, it appears there is. He also invented those wheelbarrows with plastic balls instead of wheels. And that’s pretty much it.

James Dyson is worth £1.1 billion.

Carrot Bop

While idly looking at the telly on Saturday night when the boxing was on, I couldn’t help but notice that both fighters (John Murray and Lee McAllistair) were ginger. To me, this exemplified a win/win situation perfectly.

Friday, January 16, 2009

On The Buses

"There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” runs the brave and excellent ad backed by the British Humanist Association, causing miffed Christian bus driver Ron Heather to walk out of his shift and elect to have the day off instead. Not quite sure why he’s so tetchy at what's nothing more than a point of view, particularly when the church seems to put its, err… hard-earned tithe money to similar good use.

"If God exists, what would you ask him?" screamed an ad for The Alpha Course on the back of the Warminster to Chippenham bus as I waited behind it at the traffic lights on the way to work this morning.

On pondering this, I suppose the first thing I'd ask him is where my wife's mobile phone is. The kids made off with it a couple of months ago, and it's bound to be in amongst all their toys somewhere, but we've searched high and low for it without success. The battery was almost dead when it disappeared so we couldn’t even call it to discover its whereabouts.

All that other stuff about war, famine, man’s inhumanity to man and what kind of omniscient being would allow the slaughter of innocent women and children would come later (you know, the usual stuff about how it’s possible to let people to pootle along pre-determined paths towards unjustifiable injustice and torture).

Still, the mobile thing is quite annoying…

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Recycle, Reduce, Re-use (And Remember)

M & S bloody started it. In an effort to cut back on using so many posh carrier bags (with these cost-saving efforts masquerading as an eco-friendly “save the planet!” crusade to prevent landfill sites being full of non-biodegradable plasticky shit sporting their logo), they stopped automatically giving them out whenever you bought something.

Now other stores have followed suit and it’s become the norm for shop assistants to ask if you want a bag for your purchases (thereby rendering them portable). The problem is that, too often, I buckle under the weight of guilt and refuse one, instead replying “Nah, it’s alright. I don’t mind carrying this collection of large objects in my hands”. Hence I struggle out of shops like a Crackerjack contestant with armfuls of oddly-shaped boxes or untransportable handle-free purchases.

Even supermarkets now keep their bags under the counter like forbidden items or ‘precious things’ and only give them out on request as if they’re made of gold, but there’s no way you can carry your shopping without them. I know you’re meant to recycle them, or use those Bags For Life which look like they’ve been fashioned from hessian, grubby potato sacks and human hair, but it’s extremely hard to remember. Too often, while the tree-hugger at the adjacent checkout fills their hippy bags with humous, nut roast, pond weed falafel bake cake and other sundry items, I pack my items shamefaced by the accompanying rustle of micron-thick plastic, subsequently slunking out the door like a leper in a Hanson T-shirt.

If our consumer society continues ad infinitum down this path, maybe humans will eventually evolve to develop enormous hands not unlike the foamy ones traditionally waved around at sporting events or Gladiators. But then everything would have to be supersized to correspond to the enormous digits. Computer keyboards would be as big as the desk they sat on, mobile phones would be like computer screens and doorbells would be as big as dinner plates. The next time I’m asked if I need a bag, I’m going to proudly say yes to do my bit to prevent this nightmarish vision of the future.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Big Kids

Soft play areas didn’t exist when I was a kid. We had hard play areas instead (they bred ‘em tough in the seventies). The nearest most kids got to soft play was bouncing on beds, though often a moment of poor coordination would swiftly remind you of the hardness of surrounding furniture when you careered into the wardrobe, cracking your head and landing in a tangle of juvenile limbs.

There was also none of this bark chipping nonsense in parks. Instead the surfaces where covered with gravel and cold, hard bitumen, often bearing the whitish fleshy skidmark from a small child’s knee – the distance of which was an object of pride for the unfortunate involved and which went some way to countering the unbearable pain. Many a proud tear rolled down a freckly face in parklands up and down the land.

However, I defy any modern dad to resist soft play areas. There’s something inherent in blokes’ makeup that means the urge to scamper over an oversized padded climbing frame is strongly felt (I’ll even confess to, while sitting in one, contemplating where the living room would be if it was my house). With enjoyment comes unease though. There’s a difficulty in these hyper-sensitive times of not looking like a paedophile while doing so.

I was playing with our four-year-old on a bouncy castle recently, standing over him as he lay giggling, and tickling him into submission in the traditional manner, when suddenly his face was replaced with someone who I didn’t recognise.

“My turn! My name’s Dylan and I’m three!” announced the owner of the small face (presumably Dylan in his third year of existence on this safe, rounded-cornered planet), diving between my feet and looking up expectantly, clearly awaiting a similar tickling.
“Aaargh!” I responded and immediately leapt away as if I’d been electrified (which on a bouncy castle makes for an impressive distance), looking around in case an angry mob was about to steam in with poorly-spelled placards demanding the systematic castration of paediatricians or pedestrians or pedallers or something.

I’m thinking of having a T-shirt made along the lines of “I’m not a paedo, I’m just an average dad…” which I could sell at the doors of these places to anyone looking ‘dadular’. The only problem is that you couldn’t ensure that everyone who bought one was unwarranting of systematic castration by an angry mob of Daily Mail readers. You just can’t win…

Stingy Primates

It’s a habit (and almost a mandatory requirement) in our house, when referring to song titles/lyrics that contain either the word “money” or “love” that these words are replaced with “monkey” and “lunch” respectively; examples being What’s The Colour of Monkey?, Monkey’s Too Tight To Mention, You Can’t Hurry Lunch and of course The Power Of Lunch etc.

Nowhere, however, do these combine quite so beautifully, and nonsensically, as in a classic Beatles song: “I don’t care too much for monkey, monkey can’t buy me lunch…” So much so, in fact, that it’s ruined any chance of ever singing the correct lyrics again. But I think I almost prefer it that way.