Archive for March 2011

To Subscribe or not to Subscribe

March 30, 2011

When visiting a news or magazine website the proprietors will try to entice you to subscribe to their printed manuscript, normally in the form of a little pop-up form. Extra benefits are promised as certain periodicals have material that can only be accessed by subscribers only.


Personally, I have always avoided subscribing to printed magazines even though the inducements to new subscribers are favourable. I would always worry about when the first issue of my tenure would be delivered and therefore I’d continue to buy my magazine from the shops. Terrifyingly, I could end up with two copies of the same issue. More alarmingly, is the possibility of an issue getting lost in the post; it does happen. The procedure of informing the seller of the problem is too dramatic an event for me.

My sub-editor, duly demoted from photographic duties and trying to steer his way back into favour, insisted we should set up a follow by E-Mail service. Using this Blogger facility, the reader would be alerted to new posts. We have always strived to be original in our prose though in this instance we have to venture into cliché: the articles would be “Hot off the press”, as they say.

Nearing lunchtime I was unsure as I didn’t want to be spammed. The sub-editor interrupted me by claiming it won’t be us that gets spammed it will be the readers. He went on. And they wouldn’t bother because it would be good spam as it was our spam. Still hesitating, he won me over when he said “our competitors do it.” Our competitors do it (I always repeat things when I’m angry), those charlatans.

To seal the deal, stick the icing on the cake, put the bribe in subscribe, we decided to give a surprise present to every reader who takes advantage of our offer. And every prize will be different and unique. What more could you ask for? Corporate enlightenment, up to date market information, incisive commentary and a free lucky bag gift. You don’t get this with the Financial Times.

Garish

March 26, 2011

In the 1980’s it was acceptable for heterosexual young men to wear pink shirts. These shirts were trendy and attracted females. The straight community had taken a leaf from the pink brigade’s book of hijacking by making pink the new black. Mr A, B and C agreed that the pink shirt was a good ice-breaker when pursuing the opposite sex. Mr A went one step farther by claiming that he used to wear a pink suit with his pink shirt.

“Durham, Durham,” said Mr B “That’s taking things too far.”

Mr A countered by attacking Mr B’s leather jacket that Mr B had worn on many an occasion for years. The jacket was in a poor state of disrepair with holes all over the place as if it had been at a party of sub-machine guns. Mr B defended his coat.

“This wasn’t a bad thing as I (more…)

The Sentinel’s Tale

March 19, 2011

Any casual viewer of Bloomberg television or CNBC would be forgiven for not having an earthly what the visuals are all about. Information overload is screened as the broadcasters funnel and cram as much statistics as possible; carbon copying an almanac of Wisden.

Only a superhuman computer could decipher and decide what margins are worth buying or selling. Therefore, it is a team game and excuse me while I plagiarise Blair to an extent, it’s all about delegation, delegation, delegation. This week I have given the responsibility for uploading images to my sub-editor as I am fed up doing all the work here.

The bewildering figures in the graphics above are a cornucopia of yields, futures and share prices. Understanding the glossary of terms is one thing, remembering them, another. Even logging in to your accounts can be problematic as there’s so many passwords to remember.

Passwords go back to well before the internet age. One time my dad had a week’s holiday and for a bit of fun, every day when my sister and I returned from school he would take guard behind the front door.

“What’s the password?”

All week we remembered the magic word and gained entry to our house. I still wonder what he would have done if we forgot. Friday came and it was about the time we were due home. There was a knock at the door. He opened the letterbox and mouthed.

“What’s the password?”

My dad had forgotten that my gran, who lived with us, was unwell and my mum had phoned for the doctor to pay a house call. Unfortunately, for my dad, the medical man had appeared seconds before us.

“I don’t know the password.” said the doctor.

Just then we arrived and said the password, thus bypassing the sentry and delivering the doctor to my suffering gran. After this day, my dad avoided the doctor’s surgery like the plague. He still fears the men in white coats.

Chibber in the land of upright people

March 18, 2011

(Taken from The Chibber papers)

In 1974 Bobby Fischer was considered the greatest chess player that ever moved. He had dominated the game, was the youngest ever Grandmaster, won the Cold War with Spassky and declared that Karpov shouldn’t be on the same board as him, thus giving the Russian the title by default. Press reports seeping from Britain had made him angry as he believed everything that was written in the newspapers-and they said the chess world had a new star.

The young Chibber was unbeaten; none of his matches had gone more than five moves. Fischer wanted to know the hold Chibber had over opponents who conceded from a winning position. He contacted his friend, Kerry Packer, to promote a one-off, winner takes all game, to be held in Ouagadougou. Let’s see if the stupid British hacks can spell the venue.

The stage was set-up for the gladiators. To jazz up proceedings, Packer wanted the combatants to enter with a signature tune played by a trumpeter. This corny gimmick became popular in the future at other sports events. At the time the professorial rank and file chess set were unmoved by the opening razzle dazzle.

Chibber arrived with pomp and circumstance to the chords of “Hey, Good Lookin’, whatcha got cookin'”. The record books have no note of the Fischer tune, though historians agree it would probably have been something by Wagner. Chibber had won the toss and choose white. He opened play with-

1. G4

This was Chibber’s favourite move as it gave him room to manoeuvre his King-side bishop. Though as a staunch Presbyterian he called the bishop- The Elder. Under the table he kicked Fischer in the shins twice. This opening salvo was the best part of the game for him. He had read up that professional chess players traded kicks underneath, it was what encouraged him to play the game.

1…E5

Fischer rubbed his shin and opted for a traditional controlling the midfield strategy. The American could play a good game below as well and he swung a brogue at the Scotsman’s knee.

2. F3

Chibber never felt a thing. His mind was prone to wander during matches and he wondered why there was no Lower Volta. He upped the ante with an explosive kick at Fischer’s ankle that made his rival scream out in agony.

2…

Fischer, now in considerable pain, saw that the game was there to be won with a simple Queen H4 checkmating move. Before he touched his Queen he sensed another missile from Chibber’s boot. He managed to avoid the deadly projectile that thundered off the legs of Fischer’s chair. The chair deflected onto the table rocking the chess board. The Black King wobbled before it over-dramatically fell on the battlefield. Chibber’s celebrations drowned out Fischer’s protests.

Blood Brothers and Sisters

March 17, 2011

The ravaged car had beaten the elements of the Southern Carpathians and headed for the pass into the plateau. Still, the rain and wind cried Mary and still the long-haired driver ignored the storm as he hammered the dashboard to the beat of the songs playing on the Metal Chainsaw Show. The last three were-

Bruce Springsteen- She’s the One
Queen- The March of the Black Queen
David Bowie- Cat People

Biting the top off a bottle of Jameson’s, he swigged a large drop of liquor. Further on up the road a lady dressed in a white bridal gown stood like a ghost on the highway. Long hair doesn’t normally pick up hitch-hikers, though he sensed this was a damsel in distress and his gentlemanly instinct came to the fore.

“Would you like a ride?” he asked while opening the passenger door.

“Thank you for inviting me in, a vital prerequisite in my occupation.” The lady’s voice croaked with dryness. She looked at the coarse neck of the driver. Would those porcupine bristles withstand her fangs?

Long Hair drowned another shot of Jameson’s as he battered on the accelerator pedal. The rear-view mirror fell off and as he put it back on its fixing he didn’t see any reflection of his ashen-faced guest. This Jameson’s is top quality stuff, he said aloud, throwing his head back as he growled a laugh.

She was ravenous by this time. With the speed of the undead she was all over his throat like a shaving rash. Biting deep into Long Hair’s veins she drank her fill and more.

“Baby, you are my type of gal.” he cackled, thoroughly enjoying this mother of all love bites. The session stopped when the lady fell back in her seat and vomit trickled from the side of her mouth. After several convulsions she passed out. Long Hair knew something was wrong; he had a nose for it. He sped to the nearest hospital in Transylvania, dropping her off at casualty before driving away to the roads of the creatures of the night.

A paramedic said it was the worst case of alcohol poisoning he’d ever seen, wondering what on God’s Earth had she been drinking? She needed a blood transfusion.

3.Leviticus- The highs and laws of Blackpool Cabaret

March 11, 2011

With razzmatazz trimmings, Caesar’s Palace has had Celine Dion, Elton John and Cher captivate and entertain some seriously rich concertgoers. The Vegas of the North has got by with luminaries like Cannon and Ball and Little and Large. Currently doing the rounds of the pier is the Legends Show. Essentially, this is tribute acts of various qualities depending on the amount of John Smith Bitter that’s been necked.

From the professionalism of Ken Dodd to Elvis impersonators to hotel hopping singers/comedians to amateur street entertainers, Blackpool has artistes in abundance. There’s the human statue that doesn’t blink, the plate-jugglers that keep on spinning and the guy who will take your photo with his monkey. Yeah that’s right, that’s his gig. He takes a snapshot of you, grinning with a monkey.

All the world’s a stage and we all must play our part. After some serious Strictly Come Dancing cha-cha-chaing in the ballroom of the Tower and guzzling many Bitter’s, our party retired to the stalls. It was here that my good friend, Rab, did his party trick. The first big hearty laugh you hear is me, the lady guffawing is Rab’s missus and finally my son cackles at the end. We have no idea who is doing the gurning noise. Maybe one of the disgruntled dancers from the dance floor.

Apologies for the poor uploading. This was taken from a camera phone. Rab also has in his repertoire, The lift, The Escalator going up and a marvellous Going down the Stairs routine.

Bolano cut short in his prime

March 5, 2011

A or I could qualify as being as short as it gets, short story wise, as both of these letters are words. B, C, G, K, O, P, R, T, U and Y, while they could be construed as words are not. B is not the same as bee or C for sea; need I go on. However, legible as the first two are, they’re not really a riveting read.

For those of us that feel a full length novel is a book too far, “shorties” are right up our street. Read in one go and as fulfilling as a meringue. Complete literary license in the word meringue by the way, insert your own cake of choice.

Captivated by the blurbs, I journeyed into the shorter works of the late, much-admired by the literary set, Roberto Bolano. Bolano’s shorts are snippets from a section in the participant’s life; (more…)