Archive for February 2010

A Nation of Shopkeepers Bags

February 23, 2010

Previously plastic bags were compulsory when you shopped and drum roll…they were free. Now horror upon horror the customer is hit with a stealth tax at the checkout as a nominal fee is imposed in some shops to wean the shopper off their plastic habit. This is unfair, they shout as when we hire a trolley we get our pound back when we’ve finished with it. That is true but retailers citing the green issue are cashing in.

Like the little puppy at Christmas a plastic bag is for life. It takes 500 years (human years not dog years) for these bags to decay in a landfill. The plastic bag is not very resilient and when over-filled bursts quite easily. Hence we see double baggers in shops which add to the problem as most of the bags are thrown away after one use. Double baggers are loathed almost as much as the eleven item consumer in the ten or less queue.
So what’s to be done?

The paper bag option is also a fragile boom and bust container but has nowhere near the half-life of its plastic counterpart. All sorts of items would tear the pulped wood to ribbons: prickly pear, lobster claws, Satay sticks and other dangerous foods. And usually after being used they litter the streets. I think paper bags are a waste of a tree and could be used to make more copies of a good book like The History of Tractors.

Re-usable bags are a good idea, the only thing I see wrong with them is the advertising of a specific shop leading to a misleading comedy of errors. For example, you have a big reusable Tesco bag and house it with a sweater bought from Marks and Spencer’s. Problems could occur if on meeting a friend he is hungry and asks kindly if he could eat something from your groceries; he can’t eat a big woolly jumper.

A solution would be for shoppers to carry a bed sheet or beach towel to the shops. They could place all the goodies on the sheet then wrap it up, tie it and force a stick through the knot and walk about like an American cast-off railroad Hobo.


There’s more to the office than stationery

February 17, 2010

Every one is unique in the way they clutter their desk. When I am visiting business directors I tend not to listen to what they say and instead have a right good nosey eyeball at the tat in their headquarters and if I see something I like I will endeavour to have that item in my office.

Throughout the years I have sampled various executive toys. Charles Bronson in The Mechanic squeezed a ball of wax to strengthen his fingers. This stress busting toy was addictive and soon my fingers were like sausages. One drawback of massive fingers is sometimes you press the wrong letter on the computer keyboarf. It is a small price to pay when considered alongside the advantages of super strength. For example, I never have any trouble opening a can of beer, troublesome ring pulls or not and as for the stubborn sauce bottle, that’s a piece of cake.

One thing I never had was the silly office “Putting practise” game. A manager in the room next to mine always burst into my office screaming “I got a hole in one.” It took great willpower on my part not to take a driver to him. In fact when I had the misfortune to enter his office I noticed golf balls everywhere: Behind the bin, under the printer and beside the broken picture frame glass of his family. Clearly, he was no Jack Nicklaus and it looked like he was playing crazy golf. Golf and all its variations are second only to rugby in the pantheon of stupid sports.

Today, scientifically and more specifically Newton is where it’s at. The educational machine known as Newton’s Cradle is a soothing baby’s dummy of a toy. The multi-processes of energy configured in the device are poetry in motion. Observing the five balls in their universe one can imagine Punch and Judy as bookends. The guys in the middle are the ones I feel sorry for, absorbing all that punishment. The clickety-click rhythmic clockwork-like gentle noises of the Newtonian invention induces a hypnotic feeling. The Cradle is rocking and rocking.

The Music of Eric Sean

February 6, 2010


It was at the impoverished East End Hotel that I heard the music of Eric Sean. The hotel was for low lives, tramps, the unemployed and the dispossessed. The lunatic fringe were denizens too, none more so than the trumpet playing Eric Sean.

Hard times had struck me and the East End Hotel was all I could afford when I dropped out of university. My esoteric studies had proved too “Tigerbriteish” for the alchemic Professors. My beliefs that animals existed in the clouds was a mystic cumulus too far. So I descended from the clouds into the hellfire of humanity that was the filthy dregs of the East End Hotel.

The proprietor, a huge beast of a man named Sully, took my copper and gave me a room. I wasn’t expecting the riot act but he did have a few house rules. My room was next to the shifty little mute guy, the musician Eric Sean. Sully told me he had a pet snake and it liked to dance to the music of Eric Sean while Sean played in his room and the snake kept guard at the main door. This seemed improbable to me as snakes are deaf –paradoxically Sean was dumb- and it wouldn’t hear the sounds through a shuttered door. Sully threatened me with physical violence.

“My snake loves that guy so don’t give him any grief.”

The first night was bad. Eric Sean slept all day and didn’t acknowledge any one in the hotel except Sully. Being dumb I could understand his silence, I just didn’t see the need to build a Castle around himself and a passing nod would not have gone amiss. Obviously all he had was his trumpet and he blew it like no one had blown a trumpet before. He practised his trumpet at night and the sounds were the most unmelodic piece of tripe this side of the Dubliners. He played the same note time and again and then honked out a fugue that was as rude as anything Bernard Manning could have blurted. Eric Sean was the worst musician on Earth or any other astral plane. (more…)

Detector Detectives

February 4, 2010

The golden days of tightly-plotted, watchable dramas and TV specials are over; they’ve been replaced by the dreary spectacle of reality TV. These shows feature implausible members of the public or D-rated celebs in a jungle, an enclosed house or a Space Station.

A different sort of reality TV programme is the real life documentary style show. This fly on the wall type of series has titles like, Cops on the Beat, Animal Hospital, Airline, Miami Ink and erm…one of my favourites, Ice Road Truckers. As bloggers worldwide blog about blogging and bloggers, the BBC in its infinite wisdom decided to do a show about itself. I was invited to watch the first episode being filmed. This was to be a candid portrait about the detectives who pursue TV licence dodgers and the show was to be called “Detector Vans are prowling about your neighbourhood and we’re on your trail so come out with your hands up.”

For insurance purposes I was garbed in the full SWAT outfit. I was introduced to the two top detectors in the business; a couple of likely lads with the names Bodie and Doyle. I sussed that we were on a shoestring budget when I saw their “van”; it was a 1950’s Police box. Who’s kidding who, I thought. On entering stationary vehicle I was surprised to find it was huge inside but empty, save for some doughnuts, Chips and a Cracker.
“Just how are we supposed to catch the non-payers in this?” I inquired.
“We listen.” Said Bodie or Doyle or Starsky or Hutch.

So we sat and listened, presumably for a TV. And we listened some more and listened some more again. This surveillance lark is not a lot of fun and there’s only so much listening your ears can take.
“What if we hear a TV and that person has a license?”
“SSSHHH!” Said Cagney or Lacey.
I shut up and listened and soon I heard an ice-cream van on Hill Street playing the chimes of “Eye Level” from Van der Valk. I’d give all my shares in Setanta for a Mr. Fifti 99 with raspberry sauce right now or a trip to Amsterdam.

Still listening I figure this is not going to be a ratings grabber. Three men in a box sitting doing nothing except listening. Then again it’d still be better than Eastenders. Then it occurred to me that it would be really hard cases of the Jack Ford ilk that don’t pay their license fee and if there’s a confrontation I might end up an unconscious objector. My country’s flag might be the Lion Rampant but I’m more the Lion out of the Wizard of Oz. The silence was soothing.
Suddenly a loud siren blared and Crockett or Tubbs said.
“Let’s get ready to RUMBLEEEE!” That’s definitely not one of Kojak’s.

I was caught between a Rockford and a hard place as I was swept along with the tide as the three of us were full of action running on the street, pushing pedestrians out of the way and showing them our Blue Peter badges until we arrived at an enormous set of high-rise flats that looked as tough as anything on The Wire. We surveyed the building, there was a lot of TV’s here. My now acute hearing could hear every one of them and they were all watching The Bill.
“Time to start breaking down doors and getting medieval.” Said……….. (Fill in the character of your choice; I’ve fainted)

To be continued…

“Detector Vans are prowling about your neighbourhood and we’re on your trail so come out with your hands up” will be shown this summer. Watch this instead of the World Cup.