Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The Season for Awards Another Good Year.

December tends to be the month for awards. So before I do my last alternative news for the year I thought it might be nice to review the years events according to 'Grumpy's Alternative News.' How many do you remember I wonder. (First Alternative News was published February 2009)

The Stupidest People of My year.
Remember the young lady trying to inject heroin whilst driving down the M4 at 90mph. Or the young man who did the armed robbery using his car with a personalised number plate. He got twelve years, by the way.
The forgers whose £20 notes had Boy George on the watermark weren't too sharp, neither was the Oldham Athletic mascot who fell off his bike doing wheelies in front of the crowd and had to be taken to hospital. The latter silly yes, but not dangerous, (except to himself) unlike the aircrew scuffling on an Air India flight as the plane flew unaided. And you wonder why I have never flown and have no immediate plans to do so. And lastly the benefits Officer convicted of claimed disability allowances whilst entering breakdancing competitiond showed the cheek of the devil.

Organisations who made us Wonder
At times it seemed the larger the organisation, the stupider their actions. remember McDonalds taking on a Malayan restaurant because it called itself McCurry's. I ask you! And Marks and Spencer putting an extra £2 on bras larger than a DD. They too lost, as did Marks and I'm still not sure what a DD is!
The Welsh authority who decided Spotted Dick was henceforth to be called Spotted Richard (they too backed down) and the pompous Polish polititian (how about that for alliteration!) who complained because his local zoo had bought a 'gay' elephant.
The Scout Associations ruling that scouts could not take their knives to camp stank of political correctness whilst the noise abatement order on a cockerel in Hertfordshire is sadly a sign of the times. Plus I'm not too impressed by Southport Councils conviction of a pensioner for roller skating in the town. Lighten up, Southport for goodness sake. Talking of pensioners, the geriatric milkman selling cannibis with his pints made me smile. I know it shouldn't but it did so there! Plus I'd have loved to have seen the policeman's face when the old lady put a hand grenade she had found on the counter.
A good year. Each month I expect to find nothing and up they turn, as rare as greedy politicians.
Finally three more saucy reminders of an excellent year. Sorry ladies, it's a man thing, but I bet they made some of you smile too.
The electric cables in Lincolnshire put out of action by a balloon carrying, of all things, a black thong. The young lady in the USA, the partner of a twin who suddenly realised on this particlar evening her partner in bed had no tattoo on his buttocks. And finally the story of the Berlin authorities who decreed that prostitutes, licenced in Germany should give a discount for customers who arrive by bicycle. Well done, Berlin, there is a recession after all!
December's Alternative News to follow shortly. A happy and peaceful new year to everyone.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

One Grumpy Old Santa

I know where you live. So make sure you're asleep! Happy Christmas.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Oh Dear, Marks Lower than Expected!

I think the answers to this little beauty suggest we should never take anything at face value! Hope you enjoyed participating. Back to normal in the New Year.

Answers to a Simple Quiz

1 116 years, from 1397 to 1453.
2 November (on the 7th). Russia’s calender was 13 days behind.
3 Ecuador.
4 El Salvador. It’s a medicinal herb grown by the Balsam Indians.
5 The Manx shearwater. Puffins are genus Fratercula or Lunda.
6 The sheep.
7 A hard-wearing cotton fabric called moleskin.
8 They’re fruits grown in New Zealand.
9 Sixteen. The one known as Louis XVII died in prison during the Revolution, and thus never reached
the throne.
10 A breed of large dogs. The Latin name was canariae insulae- “Islands of Dogs”.
11 Albert. When he came to the throne, he respected the wish of Queen Victoria that no future king
should be called Albert.
12 The distinctively coloured parts are crimson.
13 It takes place in the spring, from April 29 to May I.
14 It is usually made of squirrel’s hair.
15 30 years, of course- 1618 to 1648.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Nearly There.

Still hectic, running about like the proverbial fly with the blue bits. (I wonder where that rather rude saying came from.) Just time for a sit down, a cuppa and the quiz I found in a fantastic bookshop in Alnwick, Northumberland. (Again apogies to my regular readers.)

A Very Simple Quiz for Very Clever People

1 How long did the Hundred Years’ War Last?
2 In which month do the Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
3 In which country are Panama hats made?
4 From which country do we get Peruvian Balsam?
5 Which seabird has the zoological name Puffinus puffinus?
6 From which animal do we get catgut?
7 From which material are moleskin trousers made?
8 Where do Chinese gooseberries come from?
9 Louis the XVIII was the last one, but how many previous kings of France were called Louis?
10 What kind of creatures were the Canary Islands named after?
11 What was King George VI’s first name?
12 What colour is a purple finch?
13 In what season of the year does William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream take place?
14 What is a camel’s hair brush made of?
15 How long did the Thirty Year’s War last?

Answers tomorrow.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Easy When You've seen the Answers!

Answers to the Christmas Quiz as promised. Very pushed for time so will do one more quiz before Christmas. Please forgive my choosing the easy way out! It is the season of goodwill after all!

1 Norway Spruce (Pice abres)
2 Hellebore
3 Ash
4 A holly tree
5 Mistletoe
6 Nine drummers drummimg
7 Prince Albert
8 a ‘Joey’
9 December 25th
10 Tom Smith (Victorian pastry cook)
11 Isiah 9 verse 6 and 7
12 Luke 2 verses 1 and 2
13 The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir
14 And fit us for Heaven, to live with thee there.
15 Indian Ocean
16 Discovered Christmas Day
17 Workhouse
18 Christmas pudding
19 Christmas pudding again!
20 Mrs Beeton
21 4 shillings (twenty new pence)
22 Probably after alms boxes(the day after Christmas)
23 Good King Wenceslas
24 January 6th
25 Holiday Inn
26 Jimmy Boyd
27 Dora Bryan
28 Greg Lake
29 Bruce Springsteen
30 Irving Berlin
31 John Lennon
32 The Little Match Girl
33 Hans Christian Anderson
34 Louisa May Alcott
35 Little Women
36 The Wind in the Willows
37 Kenneth Grahame
38 Adrian Mole
39 Sue Towsend
40 Saint Nicholas’ faithful servant (Dutch)
41 Peter Paul Rubens (also painted Giorgione)
42 Saint Boniface (Germany)
43 Turkey farm (Bernard Mathews)
44 Samuel Pepys
45 York Minster
46 to 50 Any five from: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid,
Donner, Blitzen.

Friday, 18 December 2009

'Something for the Weekend, Sir?' Happy Christmas.

Who was it who sang the lines 'Almost there, we're almost there'. And another artist who sang ''You're almost here'. The latter evidently a popular choice of ringtone. To get my readers in the festive mood I offer (again) the quiz I created for a teaching group some considerable time ago. It might amuse some when the food has been devoured and movement is out of the question. I suggest half marks would be an excellent score for someone working on their own. Let's make it Britain versus over the pond. ( In fairness our friends overseas are at a disadvantage with some questions.) No cheating! Answers on Monday.

A Seasonal Quiz by Ken Stevens

Nature and Christmas

1 ‘A Christmas tree’ is traditionally what species?
2 What is another name for a ‘Christmas Rose’?
3 A traditional Yule log should be what sort of wood?
4 What traditionally sprang from the ground where Christ first stood?
5 What ‘plant is also known as ‘Heal-all’?

Five miscellaneous questions

6 What did my true love send to me on the 9th day of Christmas?
7 Who is credited with introducing the Christmas tree to England?
8 What was the nickname of the little silver three-penny bit often put inside Christmas puddings?
9 On which day was Charlemagne crowned Emperor?
10 Who is credited with introducing ‘Christmas crackers’ to England?

Christmas is after all a religious festival

11 Where from: ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given’?
12 Again: ‘And it came to pass, in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus’?
13 ‘The rising of the sun and the running of the deer’ Next line, please.
(last line of The Holly and the Ivy)
14 Similarly ‘Bless all the children in thy tender care’?
(Away in a manger)

Ten mixed questions

15 Which ocean is Christmas Isle in?
16 Why was it so called?
17 George R Sims used to recite a monologue about ‘Christmas Day in the ………?
18 Similarly Stanley Holloway used to sing about ‘Old Sam’s Christmas …….’?
19 1½lb raisins 1½lb currants. ¾lb breadcrumbs. ½lbmixed peel ¾lb suet. 8 eggs 1 wineglassful of brandy
Numbers 19, 20 and 21 . A ‘receipe for what? Whose receipe? What was its cost
22 What is Boxing Day probably named after?
23 Bohemian nobleman, 10th century, murdered , aged 26, by his mother and brother?
24 When does the Greek/Russian Orthodox Church celebrate the birth of Christ?
(the old date for Christmas)

For those musically inclined

25 ‘White Christmas’ was first sang in which 1942 movie?
26 Who, in 1953, ‘saw mommy kissing Santa Claus’?
27 Who, in 1963, sang ‘All I want for Christmas is a Beatle’?
28 Who sang, ‘I believe in Father Christmas’ in the 1970’s? (his only solo UK hit)
29 Who sang ‘Father Christmas is coming to town’ in 1985?
30 Who wrote ‘White Christmas’?
31 Who scored with ‘Happy Christmas, war is over’?

Christmas/seasonal literature

‘It was so dreadfully cold! It was snowing, and the evening was beginning to darken.’
32 Which famous story? 33 The author?
‘ Jo was the first to wake in the grey dawn of Christmas’
34 The authoress? 35 Which famous story?
‘I think it must be the field-mice’ replied the ….. with a touch of pride in his manner. ’They go
round carol singing regularly at this time of the year.’
36 The novel? 37 The author?
‘Sat 25th Dec. Got up at 7.30. Had a wash and shave, cleaned teeth, squeezed spots then went upstairs.’
38 The book? 39 The writer?

A Mixed Selection

40 Who is Black Peter? ( a clue-Holland)
41 Who painted ‘The Adoration of the Magi’ in 1624?
42 Who is the saint associated with the Christmas tree?
43 The worlds largest’ what’ is at great Witchington, Norfolk?
44 Who tells us he was late for Communion. 25th December, 1662?
45 Only one Christian Church (building) uses mistletoe in decorations. Which?
Finally, name five of Santa’s reindeer. There are eight possibilities.
Nos 46, 47, 48,49,50.

Monday, 14 December 2009

I Cannot Tell a Lie.

Bruce Burgess carries out the lie detector tests on The Jeremy Kyle Show. He recently received a suspended jail sentence for lying regarding the driving of his car when involved in a speeding offence. Which got me thinking about lying in general. (And the title of Kyle's new book? 'I'm Only Being Honest'. Honest!)
Lie. A false statement or piece of information deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
And there seems to be a lot of it about.
Many Members of Parliament have been found guilty of lying, there's no other word for it, to gain extra cash to add to their not inconsiderable salaries, perks and pensions. Some Irish Catholic priests have been found to be living sordid perverted lives, a lying existence that must be horrific to live with. Footballers cheat in all sorts of ways and indignantly deny their lies when presented with the evidence. Cheats, and cheating involves lying and goes on at all levels. Perhaps it has always been so. A common response by some, though not all schoolchildren when accused of misdemeanours is 'Prove it.' Note, not 'I didn't do it' but simply 'prove it.'
I once gave evidence in court. I could not believe the lies told by one particular witness under oath. Boy, was I naive. There is no doubt many perjure themselves in British Courts on a daily basis, seldom found out. Perhaps they are thinking in terms of 'white lies'.
White lie. Minor lies which could be considered to be harmless or even beneficial in the long term. Maybe there is such a thing. I try not to lie. (see blog dated 29th June 2008 Tell a Lie and Find the Truth. Spanish Proverb.) But maybe, just maybe white lies are acceptable.
Our American friends have the heart lifting story of George to put them on the straight and narrow should they wish to stray from the truth. Boy George, not the English Boy George, silly, became the proud owner of a brand new hatchet. He used it to cut down father's favourite cherry tree. Father was not best pleased. 'Did you do that, son?' asked father. George thought of lying, but he was a well brought up child. Plus the chopper was sticking out from under his vest. His answer is well documented. 'I cannot tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.'
'Well done, George' said father. George, George Washington that is, went on to become the American President.
Less well known is the story of Tony, a mischievous boy brought up in the wilds of northern England. Left to his own devices one day, he thought it great fun to push the family privy into the nearby river. (All northern families have privies to this day, a fact seldom mentioned in polite circles.) The family were not amused, there were cross words and crossed legs. 'Did you do that, our Tony?' asked dad sternly but kindly. Tony did think of saying 'prove it,' but it were a long time ago. Plus he thought of George Washington, telling the truth hadn't done him any harm, and he finished up in politics.
'Yes dad, it were me' said Tony proudly. And his dad gave him a right good hiding. Poor Tony howled and enquired, with tears running down his ruddy red cheeks, 'What did you do that for? George didn't get a good hiding.'
'Very true,' said dad, 'but there again George's dad wasn't up the cherry tree!'
But the incident taught young Tony one thing. Sometimes it pays to be economical with the truth. I wonder whatever happened to him.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Its All in the Mind; Why I've no Idea.

So I do this post, Sunday Roast at the invitation of Eddie Bluelights. (A confession. When Eddie first arrived on the blogging scene, not very long ago, I thought he was something of an upstart. Full of enthusiasm; so keen, so new, so early. I was so jealous; and oh so wrong.) Excellent blogger and prolific with it. Well done my friend. And from this 'invitation blog' came a 'tagging' request from LiZZie' in the form of eight personal facts (of no importance whatsoever.) Which solved the problem of this weeks blog. (Not long ago I thought a 'tag' was something mother stitched into the back of your coat when you were at school.)
Now at the risk of repeating myself, I honestly believe that everything we have experienced in life is stored somewhere in the brain. its all a matter of retrieval. And nobody has yet answered satisfactorily as to where it all goes when the lights finally go out. So before this gets too deep, eight little observations.

1 I have always been absent minded, dilatory, hopeless, even as a child. Why else would I go to town on my bike and come home on the bus. (The bike was still there next day.)

2 But if my memory is so bad how come I can still remember two questions from my 11+ exam of fifty nine years ago.

Question. Yesterday, today was tomorrow. True or false.

Question. George Washington was born, married and died in the house he built himself. Which one is obviously incorrect.

3 On my first day at Woolworth's, seventeen years of age I had no dinner. No-one told me when my dinner hour was. It never happened again.

4 When I was about twelve the chapel I attended (Moravian) presented a Tibetan Buddhist monk convert to Christianity with a typewriter that typed in Tibetan (Made in Derby). I remember thinking, blimey, I bet they don't sell many of those in Derby.

5 I have often been mistaken for Lord Bath. (See blog dated 22nd September 2009.) Funnily enough my parentage is obscure and it was once suggested that my father was 'someone who visited the big house' where my mother was a 'skivvy'.

6 When teaching in the large comprehensive I once told a young man loitering on the stairs to 'clear off' back to his classroom,' and be quick about it Sad really, as he was a 'youngish' workman painting the stairs for the council and was just having a rest.

7 The Berlin Wall came down on my birthday. (November 9th.)

8 The first record on my jukebox is Old Rivers by Walter Brennan. The last is 'Cavatina' from The Deer Hunter, guitar played by John Williams. (And if you take nothing else away from this blog, treat yourself and play Old Rivers.)

I know, I know, what a lot of old cobblers. But perhaps blogging should not be tense, serious and deeply philosophic all of the time. And why should I be the only one to suffer. LiZZie suggests I 'tag' other bloggers. So would any of the following like to have a go. Its not compulsory of course and I shan't be offended if its not your scene. You have been chosen simply because you are new to my blog. And more than likely much more interesting than this foolish geriatric. Anyone else wishing to join in, be my guest.

Gramme's Blog. Mr London Street. Gaston Studio. Molly Potter. A Heron's View.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Good Old November. Grumpy's Alternative News.

We're nearly there, Christmas, seems to have been coming for ever. Not that Santa at a family event in Evesham noticed. 'He was inept, sullen and uncommunicative' said the Evesham Market Town Partnership manager who had set him on. Sounds about right. At least they got their money back. A raffle was held in Kirkham Prison, Lancashire, the main prize being a day out. Great, except that nobody realised most of the prisoners were not eligible. (It is a prison after all.) I hope they also got their money back. Perhaps we're too hard on prisoners nowadays. A trial of a man in Dresden for murder was held up because he was annoyed by newspaper reports and this made him too upset to attend. All say aaah. (He was eventually convicted.) Neither were employees at the Home Office too happy when their 'Winter Games' were moved to a weekend. So no claiming paid leave for this five hour event. What a hard life these Civil Servants lead. Welcome to the real world. I often laugh at the world because the alternative is to cry. I notice the President of the Queen's English Society says he is not a natural speller. Fair enough, neither am I and I taught English for many years. In which case you make a determined effort to get it right. You don't blunder on, oblivious, it's not difficult to get help if you need it. But try telling that to Knowsley council, evidently road sign errors are not their mistakes, but contractors who erected them.
Plus the clock on the bank on the High street in Manningtree, Essex is a brilliant example of slipping standards. (Sent back after repair with numbers in the wrong order, it has been left to serve as a tourist attraction. I wonder if the clock repairer was dyslexic.)
I do wonder at times if the populace is becoming 'thicker'. Too much junk food, perhaps. A robber in Birmingham is now serving thirty months for attacking a security guard and running off with £25,000. The trouble was he only lived five doors from the bank and witnesses saw him run into his house!
Two bank robbers robbed The Halifax of £100,000 in a meticulously planned robbery in Cardiff. The judge sentencing them described it as 'a professional, sophisticated, planned robbery on commercial premises.' Very professional indeed, except for one thing. The car used by the robbers had a personalised number plate, once seen, never forgotten. More important, easily traced. One robber is now serving twelve years, the other eight.One final news item that made me smile. The police in Bolivia issued a photofit of the suspect when a taxi driver was murdered in Santa Cruz. No laughing, please, it's not a laughing matter. But they had the last laugh, they made an arrest. perhaps the suspect, perish the thought, actually looks like his photofit!