Raging Against the World

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Category Archives: General Blog

Cameron’s Britain: Photoblog (4th July 2011)


Sticks and Stones (or twigs)

What’s brown and sticky?

I know what you’re thinking but you’re wrong.  I recall the outbreak of this joke, probably in the early 90s.  It was a good joke and I was as keen to spread it around as much as the next person.

And then all of a sudden it started to go wrong.  People who didn’t understand jokes started spreading the wrong answer: a stick.

No, it’s not a stick.  It couldn’t be.  The whole point of the joke is that something is ‘stick-y’ ie like a stick.  A stick is not ‘like a stick’.  A stick is a stick.  I have been railing for about 20 years, trying to get people to tell the joke properly.  Every time though, someone will say a stick.

It was never a stick.

What’s brown and sticky?

A twig.

That’s how the joke was originally told.  A twig is stick-y.  It’s not the best answer but it is the original jokesmith’s word and is thus, right.

Today’s Mental Spam #5

‘Teure Wanduhren’  aka wanduhren.org/online-shop s.uhren@gmx.net

sent me this spam comment.  It’s so breathtaking in it’s sheer slipperyness I had to share it with you:

@above: I honestly don’t think so. Besides that my mind: despite it took me time to read all the comments, I really enjoyed this article. It proved to be very useful to me and I am quite sure to all your visitors here! It’s always useful when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! Consequently: thanks a lot and please please go on with your good work. But since it’s already a little older, any newer developments on that topic? Have looked but couldn’t find anything! Any hints will be much appreciated. I’ll surely come back and check for updates! Site bookmarked! :-) Greetz

If you’re a hacker, or perhaps a spammer, why not get in touch with ‘Teure Wanduhren’.  Preferably in the most annoying way that you can.  Give ’em a taste of what we receive.  Just as a little ‘thank you’.

A nose by any other name…

James Cagney was a hell of a guy.  If you’ve ever seen the Billy Wilder movie “One, Two, Three” you’ll realise the man had a gift for comedy that has never been appreciated.

There’s a story of him being driven around Hollywood back in the Golden Years and his car stopped at the lights.  In the next lane he saw Humphrey Bogart in the back of another car, picking his nose.

What would you do?  I bet you wouldn’t have done what James Cagney did.  He composed a poem and sent it to Mr Bogart:

“In this little town of ours, people see all sorts of primps and poses…

but movie stars in fancy cars shouldn’t pick their famous noses”

What do you mean you haven’t seen One, Two, Three?  It’s brilliant!

The Wedding Episode


So as an alternative to the Royal Wedding, here’s a list of weddings you can enjoy without being appalled by the Media people.

A simple rule, it has to be a TV wedding and not based on a literary adaption. We can’t have Harold Steptoe marrying Caroline Seymour because that happened in a movie. We can’t have Pride and Prejudice because it’s not a TV show, per se. Also, it must be a Wedding Episode. There does not have to be a successful marriage, people can be jilted, there can be a distraction which brings the proceedings to a halt. It can’t be a 30second scene, it must be a proper Wedding Episode. From the outset the episode must be about the Wedding!

Lister marrying the Gelf doesn’t count as the “wedding” lasts all of about 30 seconds and the rest of the episode isn’t about the wedding. There was Sheridan and Delenn in Babylon 5 but it wasn’t a proper wedding episode so I’m not counting it.

So here’s what I came up with:

Rodney and Cassandra (Only Fools and Horses)

Corporal Jones and Mrs Fox (Dad’s Army)

Sarah Jane Smith and erm… Nigel Havers (The Sarah Jane Adventures)

Gwen and Rhys (Torchwood)

Blackadder and Bob/Kate (Blackadder II)

Chance in a Million. Simon Callow & Brenda Blethyn – hurrah!

And other twitterers leapt in to help me out. Thank you, everyone!

@gingirl81           Ross and Emily (I’m guessing Friends. I didn’t watch the show!)

@Feliopolis          Friends has three wedding episodes. If you count the pilot with Rachel jilting Barry

                            and the one where she’s a bridesmaid to Jennifer Grey there are two more.

@danosirra          Kylie/Jason (Neighbours)

 @tmdwp             Donna’s two weddings in [Doctor] Who. (The Runaway Bride and The End of Time)

            Ed Straker’s wedding (and subsequent divorce) in UFO.

            After engagements involving many characters throughout Jeeves and Wooster, Spode

            and Madeline marry in the final episode.

            Oh, and surely someone’s said Father’s Day. Two weddings in that one. (Doctor Who)

 @Sue_Stokes     Robin and Marion (x2) in robin of sherwood?

(This is semi-correct. Marion did marry Robin(1) Michael Praed, but Marion went to an abbey as a nun when she believed Robin(2) had died. No wedding.)

@bluemoonjules         Vince and Penny (Just Good Friends) In Paris.

                    Miss Ellie and Clayton Farlow (Dallas)

@M_robertson_UK      Did you say Miss Jones and Rupert Rigsby? (Rising Damp) They are getting married but

                                      something happens and it all goes wrong.

 @spiffykates               House got married to an illegal immigrant on a recent episode

                     Pam and Jim on the American version of the office

@malmo58          Theresa and Eddie, ‘Playing The Field’ series 1 episode 6.

                     Blackadder series 1 episode 4 – Blackadder is due to marry Miriam Margolyes and ends

                     up getting hitched to a wee lassie

                     Had the two Vicar of Dibley ones yet?

                     Does kids’ TV count? There’s a wedding episode of Worzel Gummidge.

(oh yes! It counts! Who giveth away this Aunt Sally?)

            Had Denise Royle yet? (I’m guessing: The Royle Family? Not a show I watched)

            2 wedding episodes in Gavin & Stacey.

Some ideas sparked debate! I suggested the wedding of Daphne and Donny in Frasier.

@gingirl81          noooooooooo Daphne and Niles. I love Niles. they got married twice coz of her mother!

                           Total Frasier geek here!

 @katobell           Daphne and Niles! She didn’t marry Donnie!

(which is true, but there was a wedding! Robbie Coltrane was there!)

Did Arkwright and Nurse Gladys Emmanuel (Open All Hours) ever get married?

@neversarah        excellent question; I don’t think so. What on EARTH made you think of that?

                            Scott & Charlene… Didn’t Reggie Perrin get married, even though it would’ve

                            been bigamy?

@bluemoonjules   Reggie Perrin ended up marrying Mrs Perrin but in disguise

@malmo58            Open All Hours ‘Shedding at the Wedding’

@abby_queenofall    Nellie Olsen and Percival on Little House on the Prairie?

@bluemoonjules       Of Course Laura and Almanzo

                               Did Wolfie Smith ever do the decent thing?

  then there are all the literary ones – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre…..etc etc

                (oh no! We can’t count those!)

  well then that discounts Little House on the prairie

            (Technically, haha. See I would include LHOP because it was more of a tv show than an adaption.)

@malmo58          No, Wolfie never got married 😦

Some I was helped with!

Me:                Bobby Ewing and Cliff Barnes’s sister (whose name escapes me)

@Jo_simcock    Was it lucy?

@gingirl81       Pam. he also married that April chick with big hair. I loved Dallas.

@Jo_simcock    Ah you threw me-thought you meant bobby’s sister

Me:               What about the Likely Lads? Was there a wedding episode?

@malmo58    Yes, Bob and Thelma.

@m_robertson_UK    That’s a good question. I think not. I think it happens between TLL and WHttLL…..

@malmo58    No, it has a whole episode of WHttLL to itself, titled ‘End of an Era’

Me:              Long-running shows seem to be the key. What about Last of the Summer Wine?

@Malmo58    Yes, in a Xmas special ‘Uncle of the Bride’.

Me:              Didn’t Sam & Diane have a wedding? (Cheers)

@malmo58    Sam and Diane had an aborted wedding in Cheers. they started the ceremony, Sam pulled out.

So it would seem that most weddings happen in Comedy shows. Either that or Comedy shows are more memorable? I was expecting someone to mention a wedding in something like GBH or Edge of Darkness, but it seems Dramas are not remembered for their weddings.

Finally, some unanswered questions from me:

  • Did Lovejoy marry Charlotte the auctioneer?
  • i’m sure a few tv series had people being jilted…
  • Wait… didn’t Frasier and Lillith have a wedding episode in Cheers?

So if you don’t want to watch the Royal Wedding, why not dig out a DVD, VHS or any other version of one of these and settle down for a nice day of wine and confetti?

What’s a little Sex between Friends?


Whenever I meet a girl and we hit it off, it’s usually not long before I am placed in the “just good friends” category.  We’ll sit at lunch having immensely enjoyable conversation and it won’t be long before the girl will bemoan her singledom and how she just can’t find a good man.  I sit there wondering, “well what’s so wrong about me?”.  To use the old Joan Rivers line, “What am I? Chopped Liver?”

Sometimes I’ll raise the subject saying that I too am available and how we could give it a go, after all we already get on like a house on fire.  The answer always comes back, “I don’t see you in that way”.  Time and time again it happens.  I just can’t start talking to a girl without being shunted into the no-sex box, as though I’m an honorary eunuch.  The ‘safe’ person they can be with and never feel that my perfectly-functional man-bits could come into play.  Maybe they think of me like Barbie’s Ken.  Just an accessory with nothing under the underwear.  But we ‘love’ each other in that friendship way.  No-one could come between us, right?  They then go off with a complete bastard who doesn’t give a damn about them.  C’est la vie.

But can friends have sex without emotional ties?  I once house-shared with a couple of girls and one of them told me I could be her ‘tap’.  We would sneakily have night-time assignations without the knowledge of the other girl (they were bosom pals).  It was purely a physical thing, I was just there for when there was no guy in her life.

I have on occasion been with a friend on a drunken night out where one thing has led to another.  The same thing happens: the sex is great, we both enjoyed it and… the next morning, the cold light of day (literally) seems to render the physical act an abhorrence (to her).  There’s the avoided gaze, the retreat to several feet away.  It’s clear guilt/shame.  How could they have done something so wrong?  With him?  Urgh, what were they thinking?  The great sex has been negated.  It never happened, ok?  A good thing has become a deep dark nasty secret.

I have a friend who is very sexually motivated.  I’ve known her for years and we have had no-strings sex.  It worked out well.  Due to large distance it hasn’t been repeated, but she is unscarred by it.  We still talk regularly, nothing has changed.  Could it be that emotional maturity is the key?  If we can accept it just as a bit of pleasure and enjoyment, would that make it ok?  Who doesn’t enjoy an orgasm?  You know how good it feels.

How often have you heard a married perso say their spouse is “my best friend”?  Let’s blur the boundaries a bit and get rid of some of our self-imposed restrictions.

I’m open to discussion on this. Please leave comments (the lengthier the better).

Let’s Have Some Civility, Please?

I’m beginning to feel like a prude.

I think I should state that I grew up on a council estate. “We were poor but we were happy”. If you had pudding with your tea (dinner for you middle-class people) some nights then that was considered a luxury. There was a neighbour just down the road who had a car with no wheels up on those little ramp things under each axle. Stray dogs and yellow dog poo. Yes, yellow. Front lawns that looked as though they hadn’t ever been watered. Playing football using the trees as goalposts. Get the picture?

A modern car, with wheels.

Yes, we were poor, some of our friends had rough families and we’d often tease each other with references to fleas. We were crude, we were not couth. If we were round someone else’s house we’d say Please and Thank You to their parents. Think Kevin and Perry. “yes, Mrs Patterson.” We had manners.

But what none of us dared ever do was swear in front of our parents. Such swearing we did was sporadic and infrequent. And what we very very very rarely said was the C-word. It was just one of those unspoken taboos. We knew it was very bad, we knew there was no need for it. The F-word was fine, who needed a nuclear option?

Nowadays things are very different. You can’t go a day on Twitter or Youtube without hearing it. It’s on all TV channels after the watershed, everyone on the internet seems to be OK with it. I’ve heard people on the street who pepper just about every f**king sentence with a f**king expletive as though it’s f**king impossible not to f**king swear at all. People with pushchairs are happy to say this stuff in front of their children.

When did this become ok? Why is this acceptable behaviour? It seems as though everyone on Twitter thinks it’s fine to use the C-word and F-word at every possibility. Calling someone a c*** has become the norm. I once said to someone that he was going to get a name as “The man who always calls people a c**t”. He later called me a c**t. But then he calls everyone a c**t. It’s his thing and his friends think it’s so funny.

As standards continue to slip it’s undeniable that this country has become much more violent, much less polite. You may think it’s just words, but I believe it does affect people’s behaviour. I always avoid people’s gaze in public as I fear that people are an inch away from “YOU LOOKING AT ME?”. I feel guilty if I look at a passer-by in case they may feel I’m challenging them. It used to be ok to keep from having downcast eyes when walking.

I was brought up to be polite, to not get in peoples’ way, to hold doors open.

But you can’t walk ten paces these days without having to swerve to avoid people who are not looking where they’re going. I can’t walk around a supermarket without people standing in the way of things, standing right in the centre of aisles or even worse right at an intersection of aisles. These people don’t care that others need to shop. They don’t care that other people can’t get past them. If you try to squeeze past you get glared at as if it’s somehow your fault and you should take a massive detour around another lengthy aisle.

I’m still old-fashioned enough to stand to the side and minimise the area I take up. As a fairly monumental chap I keep meaning to stand my ground when someone deliberately walks straight at me. They mean me to move out of their way because… well, just because. “Let ’em bounce off me then,” i say to myself. But I always move aside. I can’t help it, I’m too polite. Sometimes I get (silently) angry at the bad behaviour of others and glower at someone who’s just done something unspeakably rude. They may occasionally say afterwards, insincerely “Sorry” as though that makes it ok. Under my breath I say “No you’re not or you wouldn’t have done that in the first place”. Loud enough for me to hear, loud enough for them to hear that i’m muttering something. But I’m still too polite to call them out on it. Besides, if I did, I’d just get a mouthful of abuse. I would then become the one in the wrong.

Since when did everyone have to be so selfish? I know in London I have to adjust my behaviour because that’s just how London is. There you have to be pushy and strident to get anywhere. But outside London I expect better. And I seem to be alone in that.

What’s So Wrong About #Twitrelief?

Today a new hashtag on Twitter: #twitrelief

If you look at the hashtag for this new Charity fundraiser from Comic Relief you’ll be surprised that there’s such animosity being raised. There are four basic views:

  1. This is for charity, I love these celebrities and you must too.
  2. This is a tacky idea and I’m expressing my opinion on it
  3. What is Twitrelief? I can’t be bothered to find out for myself, you do it for me, ok?
  4. I’m going to do a very poor joke about Celebrities giving me sexual relief. *Snorts with laughter at own joke*

The idea behind it is this: You bid on eBay for the celebrity you like and if you win they will follow you back on Twitter for 90 days. Some of the celebrities have sweetened the deal by adding extras, but this does not seem to be happening across the board.

So what’s really happening now is a war of words between those who support the idea unwaveringly and those who hate everything it stands for.

In the Pro camp the most repeated sentiment is: it’s for charity, just Shut The F*** Up. If you disagree then just keep your mouth shut.

This for me is problematical. I don’t believe that anything is fine in the name of Charity. To me this is a bad idea which although made with “the best intentions” doesn’t actually do as much as if the Celebrity just said “Hello, please Donate to Comic Relief”. It’s placing the ‘Celebrities’ (and some of them you would raise an eyebrow at) on a plinth creating, as some have said, a cultural apartheid.

You don’t have to stretch your imagination to see these famous people putting a barrier between Slebs and Plebs. There’s very much a “worship us, we’re better than you” ethos here, where they have realised capital can be made by making people pledge to them. We are superior to you because we have careers where we can be on television for up to 8 years. Give money and we just might talk to you! If you’re of a biblical wont, you may see this as making an offering to the gods. Thou shalt not worship craven idols.

But this is a limited 90-day offer. There’s no way of knowing if the celebrity will even read your tweets. You can be sure in the first week of winning that they’ll retweet a token amount just to prove that they are actively reading you. And then again in the last week too, just to show willing. The rest of the time they may not read you at all. They may even use filters so they don’t have to read what you say.

People follow celebrities just for a touch of glamour. Ordinary lives don’t involve going to parties with telly people, exchanging texts with other celebrities. The humdrum normality doesn’t involve, for us, late-night poker sessions and copious amounts of cocaine before trolling off to the Ivy to spend large amounts of money we ‘earned’ doing voiceovers on 30-second TV ads. We don’t all hang about backstage with the latest media-hyped band.

It’s just a dream we have. Maybe we could live that life too? Of course we can’t. We work in insurance or at Asda or perhaps we sell shoes in a high street shop.

Richard Curtis, the man behind Comic Relief doesn’t use twitter at all. But rest assured he’s going to create an account where he will follow his bidder (and presumably only his bidder). For 90 days. And then he’ll swan off never to return. This is what devoted attention your money will get you.

As I said, the Pro Camp are rallying behind a “it’s for Charity” approach. Well that’s a bit of a problem too. Say for instance 1000 people want Nick Frost (you know, the tubby guy from Spaced and Hot Fuzz) to follow them. They keep bidding, £1, £5, £20, £150, etc etc until someone wins for £1100. Brilliant, you think, £1100 to Comic Relief, what a wonderful thing!

Except is isn’t. By the time Comic Relief actually occurs the losing bidders have lost their enthusiasm. “I’ve done my bit, I can’t be bothered to give again.” While this may not be true in all cases, there will be some. Also, this £1100 bid doesn’t come from an ordinary person. The ordinary person cannot afford £1100 with their mortgages, household bills, monthly car payments, council tax, etc etc etc. The only people who will win the follow are those to whom £1100 is spare and can be bandied about willy-nilly.

If you totted up the losing bids the amount could vastly overshadow the £1100. If only the 1000th person wins, 999 bids which add up to a far larger amount have been lost. Someone suggested a raffle, which is a much fairer idea. And it’s so easy to do. All Comic Relief needs to do is set up a website, link it to Paypal and the money could be rolling in. It’s so easy to do and could be done an hour from now. Ask any website designer.

You can’t get a discussion of this on Twitter of course because the “it’s for charity!” people are shouting down any dissent. People are being called “c**ts” and “f**kwits” for daring to be so “mean-spirited” as to find fault with the feckless idea.

My advice to you is to not prop up the celebrities, don’t give them another reason to have an inflated ego. They’re not better than you. In many cases celebrities are very dull tweeters or don’t tweet enough because they are out having exciting lives. You want to do something for charity? Donate instead.

As Sean Connery so memorably said…

I’m looking for a new job and have been applying all over the place.  I’ve wanted to move into I.T. for a long time, but I don’t have the qualifications.  I’m good with computers, I’ve built ’em and upgraded them and replaced parts, installed wi-fi networks n’ wired networks and everything.  I’m an analytically-minded person and will keep at a problem until I’ve solved it.

This week I was contacted by a firm called Careerjobsuk.com.  I received a call from a young guy who breezed through questions like an express train and he arranged to call me this morning at 10 for a telephone interview with a view to training in I.T. “which’ll be monitored by a trainer”.

So like that link, I too was phoned 30 minutes late and then asked if I’d be available at 11.  11:10 and the call comes through.  He told me he was doing 6 interviews and that there was one vacancy.  As though he was priming me for a “if you’re lucky you might win” thing you get from those free scratchcards where you always magically win.  He directed me to the careersuk.com website and breathlessly raced through the pages on the website while continually calling me “yourself” over and over (ugh).

Suddenly I became aware that rather than helping me get a career in I.T. he was actually trying to sell me something. So while he talked I googled to see if it was a scam and came across the certforums  page for them.

As the call progresses I become more and more certain it’s a scam. I wanted employment, not to start paying money out.
He puts me on hold to talk to his trainer about whether I’m suitable. Surprise surprise, I was!

He mentions a Barry McGregor and Sam Slack (“she’s a great girl”).  He asks for my credit card details to guarantee myself the placement and that I’d be getting lots of paperwork and emails, but he’s talking so fast and with such a thick London gangsta-youth accent that I could barely follow him.

All the while my spidey-senses are tingling.  This feels like a wrong ‘un.  He hears me hesitate about giving my credit card details and asks what’s wrong.

“It feels like a scam.”

SCAM??” and then he goes into a long prepared speech about how it can’t be a scam and that the call to my mobile “is probably costing them £79 as it is. If we were scamming you we’d ask for £2000!”

Utter nonsense, mobile calls aren’t that expensive.  He’s trying hard to convince me.  So hard to land me as a customer that I decide it’s not smelling right at all.  I follow my instincts and bail out.  I blurt out quickly that I don’t like the sound of it and hang up before he can try to talk me round.  Phew.  I feel much safer now.

And for those of you googling, his name on the email I got and the name he gave on the phone is Adam Conroy.

Make your own mind up, it might be a scam, it might not. It’s fishy though.

As Sean Connery so memorably said in Rising Sun (1993):

When something looks too good to be true, then it’s not true.