Archive for August 2014

Cursing all the way to the Bank

August 23, 2014

The good advice about changing bank accounts regularly does not apply to savers in the current economic climate. Most of the big players- Barclays, TSB, NatWest- have miniscule rates of interest in savings accounts. Even the much lauded ISA schemes have hit the buffers. With bank closures in this volatile world a possibility for any respected institution maybe the bad advice about saving your money under the bed should be adopted. Take your chances with fire and theft. Life’s a gamble.medscalewonder-woman-pow-money-box

We don’t literally keep the money under our bed, we amass the lolly in containers like piggy banks. These little money boxes are a staple of childhood and are now available in thousands of designs. The traditional piggy has been replaced by more colourful and contemporary varieties. Take your pick from the following modified banks: telephone boxes, beer cans, Kiss (they have merchandise for everything), fruit machines, King Kong on the Empire State Building and so on and so forth and fifth and sixth…

My sons always had a “piggy” on the go when they were knee-high to a grasshopper. They loved it when any spare loose change was inserted into the box. Delight on their faces was when there was no room for any more money and the contents were to be switched into their tax-free real bank account. This little trust fund grew through the years with constant visits to the bank until they reached eighteen. This was when my wife and I presented the bank card to them. A little birthday bonus.

Going further back my parents tried unsuccessfully to have a swear box in the house. Dad was against it but mum using all her political campaigning skills persuaded my sisters and me to vote for the Blasphemy And Malicious Patter Opposition Treaty (BAMPOT). The BAMPOT legislation was a raging triumph for puritanical righteousness for two weeks. There was only one person turning the air blue. After a fortnight Dad was bankrupt. The coffers of the swear box might have been brimming but Dad informed us that pocket money would have to be suspended. This forced a major re-think from the youngsters and the law was repealed. Mum relented with the proviso that dad try and curb his swearing by using substitute words. He did his best. Frank furt for that.

 

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Happy Birthday, John

August 19, 2014

John Richard Deacon- born August 19th 1951

 

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John Deacon is the fourth most famous member of the rock supergroup, Queen. With their being only four in the band this is not good but John would like it that way. Naturally shy, he has now retired from the music business. Queen fans still regard him as a legend as the other two surviving members have tarnished the image somewhat with some of their choices of temporary singers and inferior material releases.

The Queen family can be notoriously ballistic when annoyed. When I started the rumour on a few Queen message boards that in the early days John was wanting to do a Mercury and change his name to John Abbot they began to brandish pitchforks at me. This didn’t frighten me and I said that the other two were thinking of calling themselves, Brian June and Roger Draper. I was banned from the websites. Still am.

John wrote two of the band’s biggest hits in the 80s. The long-titled classics- Another One Bites The Dust and I Want To Break Free. Yet it is his early 70s work that is beguiling. You And I and Spread Your Wings are some of the most dazzling pop music recorded. In particular, I have a fondness for only the second song John wrote. From the A Night at the Opera album, You’re My Best Friend is just perfect. Written for his wife it is beautifully sung by the most famous member of the band. It charted in the UK at number seven.

John, many happy returns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magnetism in a cold climate

August 17, 2014

 

All my life I have resisted the impulse to be tattooed. Peer pressure did not force me to take up the needle. I’m proud of this as one tat leads to another and before you know it, you’re sleeved up and venturing into other body parts. Eventually, you run out of space. Skin is finite. This is what has happened to my mother.

 

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There’s a few special characters that could be written on your arm -you know how folk like fancy writing on their skin- to give you time to digest what I just said. My mother has ran out of space.

You’re still shocked so let me explain better.

My mother’s fridge door has run out of space. Now you got it. Dear mum would not go anywhere near a tattoo parlour but she does have a thing for fridge magnets.

They have grown and grown over the years reproducing like there’s no tomorrow. Within reason she’ll stick anything on her door. Particularly she likes magnets from foreign fields. Whenever my sisters go abroad they are told, on fear of death, to bring back a goodie souvenir with the name of the place they have visited. Thankfully, I am absolved from this duty as I don’t fly anywhere. A trip to the coast does me. And she’s got quite enough magnets from Largs.

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I asked her if she has a favourite and she replied. “ Yes, the most recent one.” Loyalty counts for nothing and the old favourites can be pushed down the pecking order. In fact, she has magnets on the side of the fridge. Good news if you are on the visible side, bad luck if you are on the “wall side” where the sun don’t shine. I suggested she put the overspill on the washing machine. And things were working out fine until a mighty spin sent the magnets on their merry way. This town ain’t big enough for two positives.

I opined further that why don’t you stick some on the cooker. My sisters tag-teamed me and smothered me on the couch. One whispered “do you want the house burned down, you clown?” Mum ignored this circus spectacle and brought in a box. She’d done this before and it was enjoyable. We expected it to be old family photographs and were looking forward to seeing us all a lot younger and with old-fashioned outfits. What a laugh! Imagine our surprise when the box was opened to reveal really old, old fridge magnets. We were in for a long night.

 

Another Marvel

August 14, 2014

It must be said that superhero films are getting better. The three Iron Man vehicles and the last Captain America movie were of high standard in production, script and, let’s give them their due, acting. While nothing can re-capture the thrill of reading Marvel comic books in adolescence the celluloid creations bring back happy memories. These were the days not of wine and roses- I was too young to drink and all flowers look the same to me so I couldn’t tell a rose from a dandelion pee-the-bed- they were more of cola and chips.

Reading and re-reading the adventures of caped costumers augmented my imagination to godly heights; I believed I was Thor! ;though without the hammer as my father locked the tool box. Ask me what I did last week and I’d struggle to tell you but somehow I can remember all the names of the Marvel characters, good and bad, at the drop of a shield. Childhood memories are vivid and another of my superpowers at the time was an Xaverian ability to know all the 92 football league teams home grounds. This information is now obsolete as new teams were introduced via promotion/relegation issues and the majority of teams have changed the names of their stadiums. Heimdall’s Horn!

The newest Marvel film to hit the screens saw them taking a chance. Guardians of the Galaxy are one of their lesser-known superhero teams. The trailers for the film had me baffled as this wasn’t the group of heroes that I knew. I referenced my Marvel Comics Handbook for details and the facts didn’t stack up. Further research informed me that this was a second GOTG line-up that was introduced in the comics in 2008. This was all new to me as I am a lapsed comic book reader. (When I re-take my vows I’ll have to do Four Fantastics and 7 DP’s.)

I felt a certain frisson as I took my seat in the cinema. With no knowledge of the storyline or the starring space adventurers there was a freshness in the air that I hadn’t sensed since the first Star Wars. The first ten minutes were not promising, my expectation had dipped as low as Shalla-Bal’s hopes for a Silver wedding anniversary. Still, you can’t walk out this early. The Marvel hordes in the audience would hit me with force blasts of photonic energy and Psychokinesis at the same time; I’d be psychically and mentally harmed.

the collectorAnd then it all clicked. The reviews were right. What a wonderful film this was. As I started to get into it the dialogue and action scenes were making me laugh and gasp. And there were a few characters that I knew. Little cameos by Thanos and The Collector brought a smile to my face. Thanos is a Marvel heavyweight while The Collector collects valuable life forms and artefacts. All of us have a little of The Collector in us.

The Guardians of the Galaxy is a treat. A romp through the stars with lots of funny quips along the way and a soundtrack that soars with 70s precision. Yet, as I’ve always said. The comics are better than the films.