Thursday, 24 December 2015


[Click here]

Well, world peace is a given but I do have others.

Here are a couple to start with.

The total failure of social media platforms (Blogger excluded obviously).

I'm sick to death of the reliance that (not only) young people place on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and these other newfangled communication forms. They lead to over-exposure creating a 'look at me' mentality that is dangerous. As not everyone who 'looks at them' is to be trusted these platforms can lead to fraud, identity theft, bullying and other forms of abuse.
They constantly change format so that even if you think you are a bit techno-savvy a new one or an update comes along that buggers up all the skills learned earlier.
Due to over-use any sensible employers or agencies will or should look at all the crap written on social media with a certain amount of circumspection.
My wish for 2006 is that the whole bloody lot will collapse.

The total failure of telecommunication companies

Well, maybe not the whole lot going up in smoke but I'd like to see a paring back to the basics.
The basics being:

  • telephone
  • fax
  • videophone
  • email
  • texting
without all the other crap created by the telecommunication giants who have their hands in the pockets of our children.
Do we really need to have this immediacy whereby people telephone, email, text or tweet information like:

"I'm on the bus"


"Wow, I just saw a yellow car"

I'd like to see these giants get back to basics and actually reinstall roadside telephone kiosks - ones that actually have coin telephones, that work and that are clean. The telcos could pair up with local council engineers and create telephone boxes like the modern automatic public toilets. If anyone stays in them too long or lights matches or pisses then an automatic cleaning system is activated and the bastard gets washed out the door.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Sometimes Richard (of RBB) comes up with some good ideas.
In his latest Post on his blog he tells us that he plans to wear an Indian shirt on Christmas Day because he's going to be cooking an Indian meal.

Now I don't know if the thought of Madras turkey or pavlova bajees flick your switch or not but it will certainly make for a colourful experience.

I wonder if the old guy will carry on this idea throughout the year with his other clothing?







Friday, 18 December 2015



It is when a person uses excessive tanning oils, and takes one to many trips to the local tanning salon.
Hercules looked mighty retarded as he sported the orange face look in the middle of winter while waiting in line at the bar in the cold.
Urban Dictionary
OK, the references above didn't come from the Oxford English Dictionary but you get the idea.
We had a reasonable summer in the UK - better anyway than I was expecting. While it wasn't exactly 'rush for the beach' weather there were plenty of happy faces and even some of them showing a light colouring from real sun.

Now that winter is upon us the dreaded 'Orange face' is starting to be seen.
'Orange face' in the UK is when people who normally would be all peely-wally and just a shade above blue decide to 'look healthy' and sport a tan.

To do this they either go on a package tour to places like Benidorm in Spain:

or visit tanning studios who promise to make them look fit, bronzed and alluring:

Like this

Or this

Or even this

The results are pretty scary I tell you.

Saturday, 12 December 2015


OK, so I'm getting old, but do I have to be reminded of it all the time?

A couple of weeks ago when I had the problem on the motorway, the wind blew my spectacles off onto the road. While a lorry didn't crush them the frame still broke and had to be replaced.
When getting tested and fitted it seems that I needed a stronger prescription. As if the current shortsightedness wasn't enough.

What next - coke bottle bottoms?

Just around the corner from us is a hearing clinic. The Old Girl is always complaining (or at least when I can hear her) that I'm getting deaf. I decided to go in for a test. The test was very comprehensive and took about an hour. It showed that I do have a decline in hearing that can be corrected by hearing aids - equally in each ear. I was fitted with some to see the difference and it was pretty amazing. I could hear the  's' tones again.
I can't afford to buy any at present but it was an interesting exercise.

I keep getting new pains in knees and other joints. While this hasn't stopped me going to the gym and doing exercise it can limit activity from time to time.

I guess the trick is to just keep going so as not to seize up. I cycle around and out to the gym 4 or 5 days a week and walk as much as the odd knee pain allows. I'm looking forward to getting back to NZ (next month) so I can kayak again.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


We went to Holmfirth on the weekend to see the Alabama 3 concert.


This was seriously good stuff.
Alabama 3 (A British band) is very well known - they did the Sopranos theme song - but chose in this case to perform in a tiny Yorkshire village at the local Picturedrome.

The venue was small - even smaller than the old Wellington town hall - and intimate.
There was nothing fancy about it just a big open area in front of a stage with no seats and a 'mosh pit' atmosphere.
There was a balcony running around the area above the floor area just wide enough for a chair or one person to stand at each spot. I kind of expected this so hurried The Old Girl along to get there half an hour early to grab a spot which we just managed to do but got a damn good location with a good view of the stage.

The place was pretty rustic but had a well set up bar  - what more can you want - wine, Guinness and great music.

It reminded me of concerts I went to in the 1970s.

Coddy's Farm

We drove down and stayed the night at a farm-stay B&B which was pretty good. The views across the valley were spectacular. This is Last of The Summer Wine territory after all. See here:


That weekend northern UK was smashed by a massive storm which caused flooding in may towns and villages, It was a wild night.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


I rented a car on the weekend to travel to Birmingham to a wine fair.
I normally travel by train but the timing and the venue location of this made it logistically difficult so a car was going to be easier.

Or so I thought.

I checked out possible rental car companies on-line. They all seemed to have the same deals on cars, mileage, insurance etc. When it came to fuel they all had a full-out full back policy meaning that you returned the car full of petrol.

When I say all, one of them had nothing on the website about this but I assumed that it was a standard policy. It was this company I used as it was the closest to where we live.

When I picked up the car on Friday morning I asked the sales person where the nearest petrol station was so I could fill the car up when returning it. The sales person, a trainee, pointed out a station along the road.

I climbed in and drove off to find the motorway South.

Not long down the motorway - the M6, while in lane 3 the fast lane the car started to cough and stall. I was unable to manouvre over three lanes to the hard shoulder and had to coast the car as close as I could to the centre barrier while still in the fast lane. I immediately put the hazard lights on.
Trucks and cars raced past at 70 mph. It was a life-threatening situation.

Soon after a police car came up behind and I explained that the car had stopped and seemed like it was out of petrol. On close inspection the gauge said just that. With a new and strange car with so many dials and dashboard lights I didn't notice this when I drove off. To be honest I wasn't looking for it as :

1. I assumed that the car was full of petrol and
2. I asked the sales trainee where I should fill the car up again on returning it to which he showed me thereby implying that I was taking out a car full of petrol. 

WRONG! This company (the only one) sends out cars with just a bit of petrol in it. The customer has to fill it up.
I looked this up later on the internet and it is apparently a rental car company scam. The customer takes out an empty car and fills it up. Ideally, when the customer returns the car he should do so empty but who does that? Most cars get returned with at least half a tank (as tourists don't want to run the risk of running out), The rental car company takes the car and DOESN'T give a credit for the petrol in it. In the UK petrol is very expensive with a tank being about £60  which is about NZD 150.

So here I am stuck in the fast lane of a very busy motorway. A second police car arrived and the two of them blocked off the motorway - all 3 lanes - with their cars and they pushed me across to the hard shoulder. They arranged for a recovery vehicle to come and hoist the car up and drive a few miles down the road to a service centre. when there I had to go to a petrol station, buy a petrol can and petrol and put 5 litres into the car.

It wouldn't start.

Apparently these Ford Focus cars throw a bit of a wobbly after running dry and won't start for a while. I had to ring AA to come out which fortunately happened within half an hour. The AA guy got the car going and I drove to the petrol station, filled up and continued on my way.

I arrived at the venue late but in one piece.
At the end of the first day of the show I headed off, at about 7PM for my accommodation which was about 25 minutes away. It rained and rained and was very dark. I had ordered a sat-nav from the car company but when I picked the car up they didn't have one. Now driving in the UK is a bit different from driving in New Zealand. THERE ARE TOO MANY FUCKING PEOPLE HERE! The road systems mostly consist of motorways and sub-motorways with numbers prefaced by 'A's and 'B's. You cannot stop on these to consult a map or google a location on your phone. I had to continually get off the motorways to find country roads to do this. Even on the country roads, when trying to find some street or otherwise there is always some cars up your arse no matter what day or time it is. As I shouted before TOO MANY FUCKING PEOPLE HERE!
It took me over 4 hours to find my accommodation and I arrived about 11.30pm tired and irritable (and hungry).
It was too late to eat or have a wine so I had a bath and went to bed.

The next day I worked all day at the wine event - bloody exhausting- and headed off north to Cheshire for another event I was to work at on Sunday. As my accommodation was a farm-stay I knew that I'd be in troble in the rain and dark so I borrowed a sat -nav from one of the people I was working with.

All seemed OK to begin with. The drive was to be about 2 hours and I was hoping to arrive about 8PM.

  • The sat-nav wouldn't sit on the dashboard. It fell off so I had to put it in my lap
  • The voice control was set really low with no obvious way to increase the volume
  • When the voice instructions came I had to hold it up to my ear (while driving at 70mph in the rain)
  • Occasionally it would cut out.
  • It would cut out at vital moments like : the next intersection turn xxxx####????.and then take the third exit to the xxxxx?????~#### ...........
It took me over 4 hours to find my accommodation, arriving 2 hours after I said I would.

The farm-stay accommodation was superb. Clean and comfortable room with a big bathroom with both bath and shower cubicle and a wonderful breakfast next morning.

With instructions from the farm owners I set off to find the wine venue which was very plush. I was presenting wines (with other brand owners and marketers) to the select customers of the merchant we deal with. The select customers are all very well heeled from the old money industrialists through to the millionaire footballers with their WAGs. I was there all day pouring wine samples, talking up our wine and generally chatting for about 8 hours. I was hard work but enjoyable.

At one stage I was to pour some wine for an attractive woman, aged about mid 40's and asked her what she wanted. She said a red wine as she couldn't drink white wines. Normally it's the other way around for people with allergies so I asked her if she got headaches with white wine. She sidled around the end of the table and whispered in my ear "It's because white wine makes me easy".


If it had been 28 years ago before I met the Old Girl I would have said:

"Have a nice big glass of white wine my dear"

As it was I sort of said "Ummm, OK, we have a nice Pinot Noir here"

The event was a success and I headed off back to York in the dark, the rain and 80km winds with the sat-nav pressed to my ear at vital junctions.
Generally I just headed north knowing that once I found York I'd be OK.

On Monday morning I returned the car to the rental car agency and proceeded to have an argument with them.
They said that they didn't have a full out full in policy but couldn't explain why they don't put this on their website. They had no explanation why the sales person didn't properly explain that I'd be heading out with a virtually empty petrol tank.
I did get a refund for half a tank of petrol though (against company policy) - I think they just wanted to get rid of me. Bastards!


I like John Oliver. His retakes of the news are insightful and very funny. Have a look via the link below at his latest review of Facebook...