Thursday, 30 October 2008

Radio gaga

Nearly two weeks ago, I was driving home from a shift at the newspaper where I sometimes put in a guest appearance.
I put the radio on, like always. I was looking for something amusing and diverting while I headed west looking forward to a festival of television on the sofa with the Panther. (Currently Wire in the Blood has supplanted Taggart although Robson needs to sort out his accent)
Radio Two was broadcasting the Russell Brand show, special guest Jonathan Ross. For a moment I was transfixed... then I switched it over. Why? I didn't get as far as the infamous answer machine recordings. It was because it was rubbish - total rubbish. Like listening to the cacklings of teenage boys who've drunk too much cider showing off in front of someone’s big sister. Not funny and very annoying.
In similar circumstances I've stumbled upon this 'show' in the past and stuck with it. Not because I was amused or diverted but, more, stunned by the dreadfulness of it and astonished that the BBC thought this was a good idea.
But this time it was unbearable.
So whatever the rights and wrongs of who did what, who permitted it to happen and why we paid for it there is a silver lining.
The worst broadcast I've ever encountered is finished. Something finally shone the spotlight on this nasty, arrogant, idle, self-indulgent piece of stinky stuff long enough for it to be put out of its misery. Hurrah for that.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Flexible foe

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7679802.stm
Peter Mandelson, newly refurbished member of Brown’s inner sanctum, has decided to ‘review’ plans to extend the flexible working laws to all parents of children up to the age of 16.
Currently the right to request a change in how you work only applies to those with pre-school or disabled children.
The right to request flexible working is a lovely piece of legislation that more-or-less puts common sense on the statute books.
It means people can ask their bosses to consider letting them adjust how they work to fit in with their families. The company still has the right to say no.
Before that section of the community that reckons children – and their mothers should neither be seen nor heard yells ‘right on Mandy’ or something, please pause for a moment.
If a worker’s hours are reduced – so is their pay.
It’s never a request made on a whim – once flexible working is instated it can’t be reversed.
You can bet your last penny on the fact that the most efficient person in any workplace is the parent rushing to leave to meet their child from school. They won’t be dawdling by the coffee machine or dithering with a delivery.
So companies could spend less to have happier, more efficient staff.
Seems like a good idea, doesn’t it?

A little leafy loveliness

It was family gathering time again. Another 65th birthday and the amassing of four children, their spouses and children plus three further children, their brats, bumps and other halves.
It felt like heaven to let EasyJet take us away from storm-lashed Renfrewshire and set us down in Bristol, where the sun was shining.
(And you don’t say that very often about EasyJet)
But shortly after we landed were shedding our jumpers and negotiating the leafy byways of the Cotswolds.
For two and a bit days we ate, drank and lazed and the biggest hazard was standing in swan droppings.
The Panther found a soul-mate or two and took to the water of the ornamental lake leaving some very bemused birdlife and some highly entertained family members.
Serious tennis and table tennis matches were fought. Boy Two elected himself the leader of the gang of cousins and had a ball. Boy One watched a lot of telly.
No one mentioned anything as gloomy and tedious as the credit crunch. A few well chosen words were said and the usual suspects’ got kicked in the leg before they could heckle.
As EasyJet was revving up to drop us back on rain-soaked Scottish Tarmac, we all vowed to do it again... soon.
Any suggestions for the next excuse.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A modern fable

Not mine, but worth bunging in here I think.

The three bears.
A far more accurate account of the events of that fateful morning.......
Baby bear goes downstairs, sits in his small chair at the table. He looks into his small bowl. It is empty. 'Who's been eating my porridge?' he squeaks.
Daddy Bear arrives at the big table and sits in his big chair. He looks into his big bowl and it is also empty. 'Who's been eating my porridge?!?' he roars..
Mummy Bear puts her head through the serving hatch from the kitchen and yells, 'For God's sake, how many times do I have to go through this with you idiots? It was Mummy Bear who got up first. It was Mummy Bearwho woke everyone in the house. It was Mummy Bear who made the coffee.
It was Mummy Bear who unloaded the dishwasher from last night and puteverything away. It was Mummy Bear who swept the floor in the kitchen.
It was Mummy Bear who went out in the cold early morning air to fetch the newspaper and croissants. It was Mummy Bear who set the damn table.
It was Mummy Bear who walked the bloody dog, cleaned the cat's litter tray, gave them their food, and refilled their water. And now that you've decided to drag your sorry bear-asses downstairs and grace Mummy Bear with your grumpy presence, listen carefully, because I'm only going to say this once.............


'I HAVEN'T MADE THE F***ING PORRIDGE YET!!!

Genius from the creator of Green Eggs and Ham

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
by the incomparable Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Building our hopes up

The chance is so small you couldn't see it with a microscope, but it's possible someone cares, even slightly, about the progress of our extension. So just in case and because I care to the point of obsession I thought I'd bring an update.
So far - about halfway through the project - things are looking good. We're two weeks ahead of schedule (according to the architect), on budget and still speaking the the builder and each other. Oh, and the builder brings his own kettle and doesn't even trouble us for a teabag.
Ok, there was a hitchette when the sitting room developed a water feature with a current strong enough to generate electricity. And it's becoming a bit irritating not being able to find things and what we do find is a bit dusty.
But, really, as they say can't complain. I’m getting used to the percussion and I've discovered hidden benefits such as revealing the depth of the Panther's parsimony the day he wandered round the hopefully soon to be completed west wing muttering: "Surely we don't need all these doors, do we?"
I've learned to live with a tumble dryer and enjoyed the fact that, on the whole, clothes come out flat so I've saved hours and hours of ironing time.
And, best of all, I've the soundest excuse ever for not doing any housework.

What's it Cracked up to be?

Here amid the builders' debris and bones with Panther tooth marks on them we've been enjoying the new STV drama Cracked.
It's about the residents of a private rehab clinic and how they, and their disparate dysfunctions, interact. The couple, Rory and Louise, who run the clinic, are fighting their own battles as their daughter, Lily, has just been diagnosed as autistic. We see them grapple to make sense of this news and what it means for them and their little girl.
This is great - it's really good to see a realistic view of autism. Writer Clare Hemphill (the one who isn't in it too) has an autistic child, so she knows. It's really important for ordinary parents of spectrum kids to know they aren't alone in what they're going through. It also raises the profile of the fabulous National Autistic Society and that alone deserves a cheer.
However, I'm a bit puzzled how two people such as Louise and Rory clearly experienced in the way the human mind often deviates from the norm are baffled by lovely Lily's autism.
OK, I'm sure a bit of denial is pretty common (hands up, I did). But after that surely they'd have read up a bit (some of their professional text books are bound to detail the condition and, then, there's always Dr Internet). I find myself screaming at them: 'Look on your book case, behind you! This is your job, more or less!'
That said, it's still a cracking show. Tune in.

www.stv.tv/content/tv/featuredprogrammes/cracked/index.html
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