Sunday 30 January 2011

Did January Have You Jumping? Grumpy's Alternative News.

Another month that made you feel sad, glad and sometimes mad. I see the ambulance technician who didn't attend a heart attack victim (in Scotland) because he was on his 'tea break' kept his job. Not so the teacher in Wales who took a sledge to school in the snow so that pupils could enjoy themselves. He failed the written risk assessment. Health and Safety still rules OK. And I see gun sales in America went up after the tragic shootings in Tucson, Arizona. (A ten year old is at present on trial in Ohio accused of shooting his mother; the police found four weapons in his bedroom.) I despair of the place, cheered only by those who plead for sanity, but in vain. Sadly talking of guns, in Sweden an annual cull to kill twenty wolves has attracted around 6,500 hunters. (despite an EU ban.)
It's enough to drive you to drink. A bit like the dozens of starlings who 'drank' themselves to death in Constanta after consuming grapes left over from wine making. Doubtful, though that the flock of around 3,000 red-winged blackbirds that fell from the sky above Beebe in Arkansas had been drinking. (suspected cause lightning.) And not so the pigeon outside a Columbian prison. The amount of crack cocaine strapped to its wings meant it was mission impossible where take off was concerned. Most people like animals. Penguins have come out top in the Edinburgh Zoo 'adoption scheme'. (At its sister Highland Wildlife Park polar bears came top.) And pandas are never far behind. Edinburgh Zoo has been 'gifted' a pair of giant pandas by China for ten years. Mating is the aim but its not easy. (for pandas, silly.) Many zoos have tried various methods and failed. Encouraging them to stand up (strengthens pelvic muscles). Showing them films of pandas mating, even viagra (honest); nothing seems to work. Mind you, evidently for 362 days of the year pandas are not interested in sex. Sounds about right! So don't hold your breath. But animal of the month has to be Heidi, the cross-eyed opossum. now in Leipzig Zoo and soon to be released from quarantine; she is ensured instant fame. She already has a Face-Book page with 50,000 friends, a hit video on YouTube, a song and a replica doll. Remember you read it here first!
The world is one hell of a place. I notice The Home Office has been named as the most gay-friendly employer. I read also that Sir Elton John's baby Zachary, born to a surrogate mother, has 'two mothers and two fathers.' Campbell's soup is returning to Britain and I hadn't even noticed it had gone away. Houses in Wimbledon Village (SW19) averaged more than £5 million each between 2006 and 2010. No wonder people like Sarah Vine, a Cabinet minister's wife buys marmalade at Harrods costing £8.95 a jar. (David Cameron's father left him £300,000 tax free in his will; estate worth £2.7 million.) Mind you, who needs money. James Stevenson, an IT manager didn't. He defrauded the Sainsbury system out of 17 million Nectar points. He could have gone to Alton Towers 2,700 times. As Tommy Trinder used to say 'Now there's a funny thing.'
Mind you, money's not everything. Certainly not where the Royal Mint is concerned. Some of the £2 coins issued for the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot read 'Pemember the Fifth of November'. Worth £10 on e-bay so I'm told. (I have a 'nine bob note ' on my wall, but at least that was done deliberately.) I cannot understand when all they do is make coins and notes they get it wrong. Doesn't anybody check? They should let Tesco run the Royal Mint. They seem to want to run everything else. Not long ago they went into pawnbroking. Now they're talking about opening beauty parlours. Phones, food, banking, what next, Tesco.
And that's about it. My more sensitive readers, please finish here. For I couldn't resist the news that the ladies in the red light districts in Holland are to face stricter income tax enforcement. 19% value added tax on every sex 'act'. Every little helps towards their state pension. Mind you, the inspectors are sympathetic. Sex toys and rent, tax deductable (between 33% and 52%) plus the following advice. Because of fire hazards, 'all clients involved in sado-masochistic acts are required to be bound and gagged in a way that would allow them to free themselves in 30 seconds.' And, 'All bedside tables to have a pair of wire cutters in the drawers.'
There will of course be three more monthly 'reports'. But evidently not May. for, according to 'We Can Know', a Christian organisation based in North Carolina, Judgement Day is to be May 21st.
So there you have it, and I repeat, 'Don't forget you heard it here first!

Tuesday 25 January 2011

'Fame' has its Drawbacks.

My temporary 'fame' is obviously spreading. Now I've started getting the letters. Can you, dear readers suggest how I answer the following. And when alls said and done I could use the money!

The Vicarage,
Boulton Lane,


January 20th, 2011.

Dear Grumpy,

As well as being Vicar of the Alvaston Diocese I am also deeply committed to the cause of temperance. For the past ten years I have made tours of England and Wales delivering a series of lectures on the evils of alcohol. On these tours I have been accompanied by my friend and assistant, Albert White, a local young man of good family and excellent background but a pathetic example of a life ruined by excessive indulgence in beer and spirits.
Albert would appear with me at the lectures and sit on the platform wheezing and staring at the audience through bleary, bloodshot eyes, sweating profusely, picking his nose, breaking wind and making obscene gestures whilst I would point him out as an example of what over indulgence can do to a person.
Recently Albert unfortunately died from stress after an unfortunate incident in a local supermarket. I have followed your career as a blogger with great interest. I have also been inundated with photographs of you and your friends plus telephone calls forwarding your name in particular as the ideal person for what I have in mind. Would you be available to take Albert's place on my forthcoming tour?

Yours faithfully

Rev. Thomas Jenkinson.

Thursday 20 January 2011

I'd Better be More PC from Now On.

So things return to normal. Life after BON. Well, not quite yet back to normal. At the moment I seem to have gained many followers and my daily 'hit list' has increased at least ten fold. Still on a 'visible list at present. It won't last but it's been good fun. So what happens now. Do I change my style. ( As if I could!) Do I find divine inspiration to create wonderful wise uplifting posts or do I battle on with the same old weekly drivel; no prizes for guessing which it will be! One further point. This post, by necessity is somewhat long, the opposite as to what a good post should be. Bear with me and I promise the next post will not exceed fifty lines. Honest!
It did occur to me that in view of my new found 'fame' I ought to become more 'politically correct' (Do other continents and countries subscribe to this politically correct agenda. Please tell me, I'd love to know.) Attitudes are strange things, born of prejudices, and our personal interpretation of experiences. Now I wouldn't dream of referring to a coloured person in the derogatory dismissive terms that abounded in my youth. The word 'Nigger' was in common usage, now I find it difficult to even write such a word. We have moved on from such ignorant times, thank God. But even at the age of seventy one (I have to think twice as to my age!) I am far from clear sometimes as to what is acceptable and what is out of order.
I have on many occasions visited friends, relations and colleagues who have for various reasons been incarcerated in local psychiatric hospitals. At one time I would have written lunatic asylums or mental hospitals. See, I am not afraid to change with the times. But who decides such things; who is 'right' concerning such matters. (Please do not consider me totally senile. I fully understand that any behaviour that upsets another human being is unacceptable)
I well remember regularly visiting a friend in one particular hospital. The atmosphere was often fraught. Amongst the residents, patients, clients (again the 'jargon' varied over the years) was a 'Jesus Christ' and a 'Napoleon'; visits were often bizarre but seldom dull.
On one occasion a football suddenly appeared on a grassed area outside closely followed by two or three patients dressed only in pajamas. Two patients in our room argued vehemently over a class of orange juice. (One being my patient friends 'friend' so to speak. His name was Tom I was informed although he had the name 'Dave' tattooed on his arm!)
A young patient informed me I had been his teacher at school and invited me to a game of table tennis. Relieved to escape the gloomy atmosphere of the day room I followed my new friend to the adjoining games room. I was handed a bat and my opponent, bat in one hand, ball in the other prepared to serve. With not a little disbelief I noted that, though the net was correctly placed, one half of the table was missing. I could not fail to notice also, surprise, surprise, that it was my end of the table that was not present! Now to anyone in this position, there are several things that go through your mind. One, someone is 'taking the mickey', a possibility in the circumstances both disturbing and amusing. Two, the patient has not noticed or does not know the other half is missing. Three, he knows the half is missing but is afraid to tell you for some reason or other. Four, he is watching you, and whatever you do, you mustn't do anything that might suggest all is not well.
The young man smiled, threw up the ball, quite deftly I thought, and methodically but correctly struck the ball so that it bounced on his side. The ball cleared the net and bounced on the floor in front of me.
'One-nil' he called politely. I retrieved the ball with difficulty from under various stacked chairs. My opponent repeated his serve, I repeated my retrieval.
'Two-nil' came the triumphant call. Serves three and four I attempted to volley, with only partial success. As a spectacle our game was a distinct non-starter. I never did find out how I was to serve from my end when my turn came.
As the ball once again passed my outstretched bat on point five I ever so carefully, oh so carefully stepped on the offending object; cruel maybe but practical. My opponent did not appear too offended, partly, I suspect, due to the opposition (me) offering so little resistance to his determined approach.
Our less than scintillating game, I might add, was enacted to the accompaniment of a mournful dirge emitting from a clarinet played with gusto by a young man standing alongside our table (or half a table.) He in turn was watched with admiration by an old lady (presumably his mother.)
My table tennis friend and I returned to the day room. Veiled threats and less than veiled threats of violence concerning orange juice still sailed round the room. Shortly afterwards I made my excuses and left. Down the drive a patient in pajamas was to be seen directing traffic on the frighteningly busy duel carriageway immediately outside the hospital gates. I reported my observations and left for the nearest public house.

A strange evening indeed, in the distant past. Less enlightened times; non 'PC' times. So am I now being 'Not PC' in relating my experiences. Should I know better. I'm not completely sure I care. So one more story.

Our beloved Queen, Elizabeth was shown round the Royal Derby Psychiatric Hospital recently, the occasion being the Centenary of the hospital, previously known as the Derby Asylum. The inmates, now called patients were lined up outside to meet Her Majesty. And she merrily went down the line dutifully chatting to the assembled throng. Until she came to a little, very dignified old man.
'And you, my man, how are you?' enquired the Queen.
'Not 'appy, I shouldn't be here, mate,' answered the man, 'there's nothing wrong with me. I've bin Sectioned incorrectly. They've been holding me against me will for many years. Can you help?'
'Oh dear,' said the Queen. 'I tell you what.' (The Queen likes to adopt the vernacular of the common man when she's on her travels.) 'I tell you what, when I get back to Buckingham Palace I'll make some enquiries on your behalf.'
'Thank you, ma'am, thank you,' said the little man gratefully.
And the Queen nodded graciously and passed down the line.
She had gone but a few paces when a ruddy great house brick hit her on the back of the head. The Queen staggered to her knees, regained her composure, stood up and turned round.
'Don't forget' shouted the little man.

Now that's definitely a 'Not PC' story!

Friday 14 January 2011

Goodbye December, You Didn't Disappoint. Grumpy's Alternative News.

December seemed all snow and Wikileakes but was there anything else. Well, I personally liked the Japanese train that achieved 302mph on test. A long way from the little man who walked in front with a red flag. Or was that the motor car! Mind you, we in the UK have just completed some cracking trains, called Pendolinos; very chic, very modern. Only we are not going to use them, we are going to store them until 2012 over a franchise row. Who put the great in Great Britain!
I love it how those 'in charge' talk so far into the future. World Cup, 2022, 'is awarded to Qatar.' I don't care, I shall be eighty three and totally ga-ga if still around for goodness sake! India is working on 'space curry' for a manned trip to the moon in 2020. Mind you, its latest unmanned rocket crashed after take off, the fourth out of seven. Bang goes another £30 million; and 800 million Indians live on less than £1 a day.
Anthony Newley used to sing 'Stop the world, I want to get off.' The whole world seems to be going mad. A man who likes to dress up as the town sheriff gets 'carried away' and shoots four people dead in Olot in northeast Spain. Bangladesh comes up with the idea of interviewing their leading hangman on a television chat show (Evidently he learnt his trade whilst serving twenty one years in jail for murder). And a student in Leicester faked his kidnap and wired his parents in China for the ransom. Who did the parents contact, the UK police of course. (He was studying economics at Leicester University.) I see the lady in West Yorkshire got her engagement ring back, eventually, after a burglar swallowed it. She said she didn't care where it had been. Mind you, the council in Camden won't get their footpaths back. A gang posing as council workers cordoned off six paths and stole York stone slabs in broad daylight.
The compensation culture is still alive and well. I suppose the Russian tourists attacked by sharks in Egypt have a case considering the beaches in question were declared safe. But surely the man awarded damages for injuries in a Boy Scout game ten years ago was 'playing the system'. I too have a damaged shoulder due to flying large kites and throwing boomerangs. (honest!) Whom do I sue?
Finally a lady and a gentleman who will remember 2010 for different reasons. A businessman put 200,000 Taiwanese dollars through a shredder. The result, 4,000 pieces of paper. Enter Liu Hui-fen, a forensic scientist, who took one week to put all the notes back together. Contrast Mohammed Bellazrak, who dropped his wife off at Gatwick Airport and couldn't put his return route back together. A 120 mile round trip to Trowbridge became 2,000 miles, three nights in the car taking 66 hours. His journey included visiting Bracknell, Wokingham, Burnham and High Wycombe. The gentleman is 72 years of age, I am 71; I know the feeling!
So goodbye 2010. So here's ten somewhat irreverent memories of what sticks in the mind from last year. Sorry ladies if at times it seems sexist, I love you all, honest! (See the monthly posts of Grumpy's Alternative News 2010.)
Remember Jane Rawlinson, the Australian hurdler who had breast enhancements then found it affected her performance. (On the track!) So she had the enhancements reversed. See you in the Olympics in 2012, Jane; hope breaking the tape doesn't go to a photo finish!
Canada's History magazine, hope your name change from Beaver Magazine improved sales. At least now you'll no longer be displayed with the naughty magazines on the top shelf!
And I hope the lady allegedly 'groped' by Donald Duck in Disney World wins her case. Mind you, if the identity parade features twelve men in Donald Duck costumes I wouldn't fancy her chances.
I've no doubt the galia melon farmer in Wiltshire who used ladies bras (all volunteered) to support his crop had a good season. I now think of size double D-cups every time I buy a melon in the supermarket.
I trust the lady teacher in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales who starred in 'naughty movies' then stored them on the school computer found another job. The Erotica Fair in London reckoned bondage was a 'spanking' good business to be in!
Keith Richard's autobiography sold well. Probably helped by his references to Mick Jaggers 'manhood'. Jerry Hall reckons he's jealous and she seems to know. But somebodies not telling the truth!
Tweet of the year. Stephen Fry's silliness that 'The only reason women slept with men was that Sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship.' Not too enamoured with the ladies, is Stephen!
Most embarrassed lady of the year. The young woman who mysteriously overcharged a customer by £5 in a Jersey supermarket. Mysterious, that is, until it was realised her seat at the till was too low and her breasts were resting on the scales! Though why £5 overcharge, you tell me!
Plus 2010 was the year Martin Elliot died. His iconic, 'cheeky' photograph of that adorable young tennis player, aged eighteen at the time adorned the walls of many a young man in the 1980's.
Finally, I'm enjoying my padded briefs from Marks and Spencers. Called 'Bodymax Frontal Enhancement Pants', they give this old geriatric added confidence as he walks down the street. Mind you, I get some funny looks. I suppose I ought to be wearing trousers as well! Goodbye, 2010, another good year!

Sunday 9 January 2011

Its All Beyond Me, Honest!

Not so long ago, April 2008 I started a blog, Grumpy Old Ken. (My son in law set it up, I'm not capable.) In fact I was uncertain as to exactly what a blog was. I was soon put right by a 'superior being', so much so that I almost packed it up there and then. But several more sympathetic bloggers gave me help and encouragement. Visit other peoples blogs, they said and leave comments, favourable of course and keep your own blogs reasonably short. And I noticed some people blogged daily, an awesome task; plus almost all blogs seemed more interesting than mine. But I persevered and gradually made friends with fellow bloggers, formed a pattern of 'posting', around every five or six days (See I also learnt the language!) and thoroughly enjoyed my new hobby. I got a 'county thing' (Site Meter) and I was secretly pleased that evidently around twenty five people daily read my efforts at dispensing 'wit and wisdom'. Until I was informed that half of the visits were merely me 'clocking on' so to speak on my own blog!
People who know me soon realise I am in fact hopelessly nontechnical. I have mastered the light switch, just, but not a washing machine's controls, mobile phones, television remote controls and bank card dispensers. (I am no longer allowed a bank card by my wife as I was frequently retrieving it from the counter after feeding in the wrong card details for the umpteenth time.) And who else would try to dry his hands in a hotel toilet by bunging their hands up the dispensing 'hole' of a contraceptive machine. (See post dated 27th April 2008.) All of which suggests I have no real idea as to how the world operates. Which makes my week to me all the more astounding.
I went to my blog late morning as usual. (Few geriatrics are early risers!) I love to check the people who do me the honour of 'following' my blog. After over two years it numbered just over 120 people, all valued. (Including on the list is Grumpy Old Ken. I've no idea why, I told you I don't really know what I'm doing!) Only overnight the number had jumped to over 170. Plus seemingly over 100 people were visiting hourly and over 3000 people visited in twenty four hours. Today the number is less, but still around the 2000 mark (plus 300 plus followers). I experienced many emotions, baffling incredulity being the most obvious, then all was revealed. Evidently I have been listed as a 'Blog of Note', (how?) by a Google 'committee or panel'. My Andy Warhol fifteen minutes of fame. Now I'm many things, but I'm not completely stupid. One, I know there are many blogs out there that are better, more deserving of attention than my limited efforts and two, very shortly things will be back to normal, though any knock on effect of increased interest will be welcome. But isn't it amazing, at least it is to me, the sheer power of a mention by a 'panel' on that all powerful instrument, the internet. Thank you, (Google?), the world, my world and my posts will never be the same again.
The following post is the one I intended had my week not been hijacked by such exciting times!
As I enter the New Year, retired, content, watching the world go by, I cannot help but contemplate with awe my diary as a secondary school teacher.
January 8th 1985.
'The new style pupil reports mean we as a group, no longer sit night after night in the various staffrooms and marking areas feverishly conjuring up marks and suitable comments. No longer will the enquiry be heard 'Are there two t's in prat?' Neither will the spelling of bugger be solicited, serious or otherwise. Jokes about Burnham Tests will no doubt disappear.
'They all do a Burnham Test.'
'Whats a Burnham Test?'
'All the kids do a test. Afterwards I don't mark 'em, I burn 'em!'
Ingenious comments will no doubt continue but fail to gain a wider audience.
'Henry is an apathetic perapetetic.' (Meaning Henry wanders round the classroom, aimlessly.)
I once wrote that a girl was, amongst other things, apathetic. I received a letter, somewhat abusive, in reply, stating that I had no right to suggest there was mental illness in the family.
The literacy of many of our pupil's parents leaves much to be desired. The banter will be sadly missed now that reports are no longer a collective task. But the spirit of the comments will no doubt remain the same. 'Satisfactory' will continue to tell the initiated (but not the parent) that little Willy has never done a homework this school term. Grade C indicates that Artful Archie has responded to bribes for the three weeks before reports are to be issued. Grade D is only used in emergencies if a pupil's attendance is so poor that he or she cannot be remembered. Grade A obviously signifies teacher's pet. Initial enthusiam in and for teaching so often gives way to cynicism and some dishonesty. For this we, the teachers in the profession must take our share of the blame. But in fairness it must be stated that the pressures in a large urban comprehensive are high. Hence the cynical humour to hide the anxieties, the disappointments, the disillusion.
Parent to teacher at Parents Evening.
'I must admit I'm far from happy. I'm told you are rude, umptious and abusive.'
Teacher.'Who told you that, you silly cow!'
Another parent, same meeting.
'Tell me, do you work to a syllabus?'
Teacher of ten years experience.
''I'll go and find out for you.'' '

(The dog, Buster by the way, helped to keep me sane!)

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Cecil Beaton. Eat Your Heart Out.

I've always been interested in photography. In my 'museum' as write I can count fifteen cameras including a Box Ensign, a Rex, Brownie, a Duaflex 11, a Bilora and a Voightlander. Non have any real value. (Even the two bought in the last five years.) Some were mine, all were once someones pride and joy. Two or three are digital cameras though the majority are throwbacks to the age when we took the pictures, visited the chemist with roles of film and waited for several days with some expectancy and often not a little excitement. 'Those were the days, my friend'. Even at seventy plus it is essential to try and master modern technology. Recently I treated myself to a new camera. A 'point and shoot', a Canon S95 compact; not perfect but nevertheless described by some as the best of its type in the world. And crikey, is the technology mind bendingly twenty first century. But its not the camera that matters, its what's at the other end! So no more excuses. No more envious glances at my readers superbly professional efforts. Hope you like my first tentative 'arty' efforts. On a non-technical note. The lamp post is reproduction, not Victorian. At least one grandchild thinks the beared figure is 'granddad'. Please enlighten me as to whom it represents. The 'wheel', slightly incomplete is, if I remember right, a 'corn/wheat cutter', made down the road from here (T Beeby?Loughborough) in the nineteenth century. It is one of my many curios and stands in my front garden. I sometimes get curious (not curious, odd, curious interested. You know what I mean!) elderly Indian gentlemen now living nearby who knock on my door to tell me they used one on the land in India. I know its presence puzzles them, which I confess amuses me, It is indeed a funny old world.