Friday, October 31, 2008


You heard it here first

Fresh turmoil enveloped Downing St earlier today as Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced radical plans to devalue the mile.

The mile, which has been stable at a shade under 1610 metres for about as long as miles and metres have coexisted, may be slashed to 1400 metres in an attempt to reduce fuel consumption, amidst concerns over the country's economic future.

Whilst Downing St insists that this latest step is necessary in the current financial malaise, Tories have been quick to condemn the move as a sensational stunt: Shadow Home Secretary Giles Harmsely-Bigot, writing in the Telegraph, claims that "[Gordon Brown] is simply trying to shift public perception away from the real issues which will decide the next election. For example, why is it now easier to get an abortion than a semi-detached house?"

Should the mile be reduced to 1400 metres, Britain will lose a lot of ground against metric nations, such as its European neighbours:

Europe, as of the end of September, 2008

A projected map of Europe, should the Prime Minister's folly go unchecked

Although Gordon Brown is pushing a "wait and see" policy, anticipating an upturn in the mile's fortunes some time in the new year, pressure will inevitably mount for Britain to cut its losses and switch to the metric system before the situation worsens.

"If we don't act immediately and switch over to the metric system, we could end up smaller than Luxembourg," a prominent backbench spokesperson said, on condition of anonymity and a large bottle of gin from Marks & Sparks.


Saturday, October 25, 2008


A rose by any other name

One of the police marksmen who shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes told an inquest today that knowing he had killed an innocent man was something he would have to "live with for the rest of my life"...

The marksman told how he came face to face with De Menezes inside a cramped tube train at Stockwell station in south London on July 22 2005...

De Menezes was shot seven times in the head at point-blank range.

Asked why he shot De Menezes three times, C12 replied: "I had to be certain that life was extinct, that there wasn't any more threat, that this person couldn't detonate a bomb.

Officer gives emotional testimony of moment he shot De Menezes
The Grauniad, Friday October 24 2008


The term "marksman" blew my fuse a bit: a bit like the old Israeli "Precision Prevention Policy", whereby neighbourhoods containing terrorists get blown up.

"Marksman", to my mind, denotes one skilled at shooting from distance, not someone who unloads from point-blank range. While I've no doubt that the officers involved in the shooting were trained as such, it seems hardly applicable in the circumstances.

In terms of relevance, I'd say it's a bit like mentioning in passing what colour Taekwondo belt they happen to have.


Friday, October 24, 2008


Baby jousting

Took a road trip to Sheffield this week to see Kate, Clive and the nieces...

...pots of gold along the way...

...Kianna was as cheery as ever...

Eva, looking like a troll
...and Eva still looks like one of those troll dolls.

Kianna's not scared of heights...

...and is developing quite a taste for dandruff...

Baby jousting! As you can see, Kianna has the upper hand.
(Kate is simply hoping to be left with two whole and healthy daughters at the end of my visit.)

Even after I kicked her ass at the baby jousting, Eva still won't give me the time of day.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008


El Tel

One major plus in my quest to avoid a big Japan hangover is being able to meet up with friends I made in Osaka back in the homeland: I've been in constant touch with Sam from Hirakata, who now works for a recruitment agency in London. Show me the money!

Better still, Real Osaka's very own Leon Townsend-Cartwright is living about two minutes walk from my front door (40 seconds if I go out the back.) He's even met my mum:

"He seemed like a nice lad. What was his name again..? Giles..?"

I give her a piece of my mind for always forgetting people's names, then tell her, once and for all, that his name is Terry.


The very next time Leon comes round the house

LEON: Alright Joe, how's it going?

JOE: Alright Tel.

And Tel he has since remained.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008


Back amongst my old books

We are told, by Coleridge, that all philosophers are either Platonists or Aristotelians; by Gilbert, that all girls and boys are either liberals or conservatives, and, by popular rumor, that all human beings are either girls or boys.

These statements are clearly oversimplified, and are rhetorical rather than factual: they are designed to give us some perspective on the shape of a big subject, not to tell us the truth about it.

from A Natural Perspective
by Northrop Frye

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008



I put myself online today and printed out some newspaper articles to brush up my Japanese with. I went for the topic of sumo, more in hope than expectation.


taima: cannabis

shoji: possession

yaochou: match-rigging

soshou: court case

To join the above dots, disgraced former wrestler Wakanoho is shooting his mouth off about how problems in the sport extend beyond recreational drug use. Wrestlers whose names are mentioned in the articles I printed out are ozeki Koto-oshu, Chiyotaikai and Kaio, and juryo Kasuganishiki.

Dan's view

Koto-oshu: guilty as hell, for no other reason than that I simply don't like him.

Chiyotaikai: guilty as hell, for no other reason than that he reminds me of that guy who always plays the gangster in Hong Kong movies.

Eric TsangChiyotaik- oh, hang on...

Kaio: one of my favourite wrestlers, hence the fact that it pains me to say: guilty as hell. Earlier in the year, he made no effort to win the last bout of the summer tournament against Kotomitsuki, another ozeki, for whom defeat would have brought rank demotion. A favour in the bank? I think so.


Kasuganishiki: don't particularly give a toss.

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Monday, October 13, 2008


Red in tooth and claw

I have been enjoying "Big cat live" week on the BBC, rife with malapropisms and onanistic, self-congratulatory non-celebs as it is.

The Beeb's online content is inaccessible from outside these isles, sadly, so little point in embedding footage in this page. With the live webcams offering little other than up-to-the-minute coverage of Lions sitting on their lazy backsides and Hyena and Jackal cubs, highlights of cats were almost exclusively archive footage, of which the show has compiled a fairly impressive array during the more than ten years since its first showing:

Leopard brings down wildebeest in the midst of a stampeding herd. Having choked the life out of her victim with a throat hold, looks momentarily torn, then dashes back into the middle of the stampede and jumps on ANOTHER wildebeest, to the audible delight and disbelief of the presenter.

Highlights of bad English included one of the commentators repeatedly attempting to use "galvanise" as an intransitive verb, before forgetting what he was trying to say midway through a sentence, eventually concluding that certain cheetah cubs, which were being discussed, weren't young enough yet to be named.

In truth, I remember that the original "Big cat diary" was considerably better in theory than in practice. The programme improved over the years, but I found it much more agreeable in the weekly format than in the current daily format: in classic BBC sports-commentator fashion, the presenters insult the intelligence of their audience with continuous repetition of fairly easy-to-grasp stuff, which I find easier to stomach once a week than every evening.

Of our own wildlife situation, Joe observes that we have birds nesting just outside our kitchen door. My thoughts turn immediately to the danger posed to these by our pair of cats.

Joe's thoughts are evidently not too far removed from my own:

"I daresay I'll be scraping them off the kitchen floor at some point."

He shrugs, then goes to brew some more coffee.

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Friday, October 10, 2008


Less-than-real ale

Back in the day- and I mean way back in the day- I was talking with Mike about making a computer program to attach to this blog. Real simple thing: it would just be a random word generator, designed to spew out noun-dressed-up-as-verb + " of the " + noun, and it would be dubbed "the Star Wars title tomfooleriser."

I had this idea around the time that Revenge of the Sith was released. It might even have brought this blog more widespread popularity. The main drawback was that I couldn't be bothered to do it.

I came up with something similar last night: it was Joe's round and he asked the dad and me what we fancied.

ME: Can I have a pint of the Old Stoat Throttler, please?

Joe laughed, knowing full well what fun I'd had the previous week, making up the title of a beer, then watching one of his coworkers behind the bar go earnestly off in search of it. On this occasion, Joe had finished work, but he still told me to shut up.

The idea I had was this. Old + Noun + Verber = a plausible name for an ale.

Some of the fictitious ales I came up with: Old Pigeon Fancier, Old Church Vandaliser, Old Clown Puncher, Old Draft Avoider (this last one: when the barmaid looks confused, tell them it's in a bottle.)

Old Window Cleaner: this one takes longer to pour and you generally have to ask them to top it up, what with it being stored in those spray bottles.

There were darker ones, too:

ME (to Joe): Can I have a pint of the Old Holocaust Denier, please?

We both giggle guiltily.


At the bar

ME: Can I have a pint of the Old Wife Beater, please?

BARWENCH (thinking herself equal to my mischief): We haven't any.

ME (feigning confusion): You've no Stella?!


Disclaimer: beer tastes good

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Monday, October 06, 2008


How to be a messenger without getting shot

I am sitting in my mother's front room-cum-study, tip-tap-tapping away on the computer. One of those charmless Microsoft "blwur-dumph!" noises announces the arrival of a mail in Outlook. A preview flashes up: the mail is from one of my mother's friends, rather gracelessly crying off on this week's scheduled trip to Portugal, leaving the mum without a travel companion.

I am torn: I do not wish to be the bearer of bad tidings. Neither do I wish to be so craven as to leave the message to upset my mother in the morning. Footsteps. Mother walks into the room and settles down at the table behind me, bearing a glass of wine, evidently in reasonably good spirits. What a pickle.

I decide that I must break the news about her flaky friend, and must do so in a suitably delicate manner (a courtesy, I might add, that the mum scant deserves: when she has bad news to tell, I generally get it right between the eyes.)

Ah, inspiration hits me.

ME (without turning round from the computer): So, Mum: what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages to travelling alone?

MUM: Well, you don't have to take crap from anyone, and you can make your own itinerary. It can be lonely though.

ME: Are there any places where you wouldn't be prepared to travel alone?

MUM: Hmmm... I think most Muslim countries.

ME: Right. How about Portugal?

MUM: ...


Thus was bad news broken with a bare minimum of breakage. Take heed, all those of you to whom the breaking of bad news brings bruising.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


The other option

"... I had the choice of a smaller lump sum and a larger pension, or a larger lump sum and a smaller pension. I decided to go for the larger lump sum because I thought, you know, if something happens to me, they'll end up saving some money on the pension."

I consider my mother's dilemma.

"Yes, and if you do end up living too long and not having enough pension, you still have the option of killing yourself, so it's a win-win situation."

She didn't laugh, but she definitely sniggered.

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