Saturday, 29 December 2012

Best of 2012

2012 is drawing to a close, so in lieu of writing a proper blog summing it all up, I took a look back over the odd collection of pictures I've accumulated on my phone and decided to give out some New Year Honours of my own.

Drum roll please.

Best local news story.

Best attempt at an evil face.

Best video games.

Best commuter activity.

Best magazine scoop about a cat who is a also a God.

Best Bid TV product. Peter Simon called it a 'work of art'

Best parking.

Best protest.

Best litter, just yards from my home.

Best courier information.

Best attempt at putting Christ back into Christmas.

Best festive food.

Manliest muesli.

Most inappropriate Halloween decoration for a chemist.


And finally, the most awkward moment of the year.


Happy New Year!

Friday, 29 June 2012

Good Deed Feed

This amused me.

The Metro have this thing called Good Deed Feed.

It's meant to be for people to say thanks for acts of kindness.

This week someone used it to crassly and hilariously praise themselves on their:

"...acute sense of style that is always reassuringly impossible to pigeonhole"

I didn't have access to a scanner but luckily someone on Twitter had taken a snap:



Note how just a couple of texts above someone is thanking someone for saving them from drowning.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Cooking In Prison

'Cooking In Prison' is here:

Click on the picture to maximise

All we're missing now is 'Inner City Sumo' and 'Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank'

And before you say "What about Monkey Tennis?" I saw that in Japan back in January:



A-HA!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Now stand for the National Anthem

I had cause to drive through a series of small villages yesterday.

I was picking up my brother who lives on a farm - PLUG ALERT: It's the Rare Breeds Centre in Kent and it's staffed by the learning disabled adults who both live there in supported housing or come in from home to use the day services provided. For more info on how to visit go here or to support the charity which runs the farm go here. PLUG ENDS.

Anyway, these small villages had a series of...I think the best word is effigies, hanging outside various houses, 'in honour' (you'll understand my use of inverted commas later) of the Queeen's Diamond Jubilee.

I bravely got out of the car several times to photograph some of the best ones. Mum kept the car running though as, despite the streets being eerily empty, we concluded that the villagers were almost definitely waiting in a nearby hedge for a victim to burn along with the effigies inside a giant wicker man.

I even wondered at one point if these effigies were really made of fabric and straw. They might have been real people, who had driven through the villages, been lured out of their cars and then gagged and covered in fabric with a crude felt tip pen face drawn on them.

That all sounds very far fetched I know, but you can't be too careful in the countryside.

So, here they are:





























We also discovered that Gary is going to be performing live this Sunday. Yes, the Gary:


And in one of the towns we went through, we saw a man dressed as a Jubilee potato





I am so proud to be British right now.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

"One of my neighbours told in me great detail how much he hates it. He said I was a bloody idiot"



I think his neighbour is onto something:

http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/change-Pppppppppprice-Tim-pays-stop-cold-callers/story-16227434-detail/story.html

And his brother too: “I have two brothers. One of them thinks it’s funny. The other one isn’t speaking to me.”

Although maybe the other brother works in a call centre and is rendered unable to speak to him.

Personally if I were a bored telesales rep, he'd be the first person I'd call.

"But would it not have been cheaper and easier to register with the TPS, the Telephone Preference Service, a regulatory body that can stop these marketing calls?"

"I’ve not heard of it" Tim said.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Where are my equal rights?

A couple of weeks ago Dame Tanni Grey Thompson, a wheelchair user, was forced to crawl off a train because there were no station staff there to help her.

Obviously this is bad thing.

Obviously.

Right?...

Well yes, but not in the way you’re thinking.

According to the comments compiled in this blog by Dawn Foster, the bad thing is a disabled person expecting to be helped off the train:

http://dawnhfoster.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/a-little-respect/

Who knew?

Now I don’t intend to rehash the comments here, Dawn’s blog has it covered, and they speak for themselves. What interests me is people’s constant, basic misunderstanding of the idea of equal rights.

Here are a choice few comments which demonstrate what I mean:

“What about able bodied men in this world. Where have our rights gone?”

“We have been hearing for years that everyone is equal, now she wants special treatment the cry is different”

“She did get the same treatment as everyone else. Know one helps me of the train”


“Know one helps me of the train” No, but somebody should definitely help you to spell.

Anyway, the recurring theme throughout the comments was the predictable and disheartening, ‘where are my equal rights?’

This seems to crop up every single time a disadvantaged group gets a small concession to make their challenging lives slightly easier for them.

Well, in answer to that most rhetorical of questions – they’re right there...LOOK! What do you mean you can’t see them? They’re a hundred feet tall, made of gold, with fireworks blasting off them. They’re there from the moment you wake up in your able body that can walk you to the station, run for the train if needs be. That can hop, skip and jump on and off at any stop you so wish. The body that allows you to negotiate steps, bumpy pavements, steep kerbs, weave in and out of crowds. You have absolute, untrammelled access to everything. The world is your oyster. Your equal rights rally would get very short shrift. What is it that you feel you are lacking? How can we help you?

But secondly, and most importantly, the point that always gets missed – equal rights is not the process, it is the output; the end result.

Equality is not treating people exactly the same, regardless. Not least because it just wouldn’t work.

If someone is less able, the circumstances need to be changed to allow that person to reach the same level as a more able person. Be that a wheelchair ramp, a guide dog, a white stick, the introduction of certain processes within society or, dare I say it, a bit of kindness and understanding.

For example, if a child has dyslexia, ADHD or special educational needs of any kind, they need more tutor time at school, perhaps some one-to-one. This isn’t unfair on the other kids, because the other kids don’t need it. They can already read, concentrate and learn at a decent rate.

But you can bet there’ll be some parents standing at the school gates bemoaning the ‘special treatment’ that the SEN pupils get. Rather than just being bloody grateful that their kid doesn’t have any of those mountains to climb.

The extra help merely brings the disadvantaged kids in line with their peers and gives them a fighting chance of actually learning something at school rather than struggling to keep up with the basics. Don’t fret, it won’t fast track them past your little treasure and get them admitted to Oxford at the age of 12.

If we were to ‘treat them equally’ in the way that the people commenting above would like us to, then they would be slung into a fast paced classroom, with no differentiation or concessions and they would have no chance of a decent education.

A decent education is something we all have an equal right to. It’s the output, the end game. For some of us, simply turning up at school is enough, but for others to obtain this right, their treatment needs to be different to ensure they get the same outcome as the rest of us – are equal.

Easy principle once grasped yeah? I can get the train with ease, so should a wheelchair user. I don’t need any help, they do. Help is given, the outcome for us both is the same. And repeat in all other circumstances...

So, instead of being embittered that someone who has no use of their legs needs some assistance, we should be grateful that we have full use of ours, and compassionate about the fact that they are living a life full of challenges, just trying to do things we all take very much for granted.

And then we should shut up.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Corrections and clarifications

From the corrections and clarifications column in today's Metro:



Now that would have been quite a different story...

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Sorry!



On Saturday morning I was woken up at 9am by the sound of extremely loud banging, smashing and sawing. It turned out my neighbour had a team of builders round, ripping up the floorboards.

Of their *terraced* house.

At 9am.

On a Saturday.

...Don't worry, this blog isn't just going to be me moaning about my neighbours - although while we're on the subject, one of them recently came home at 1:30am (on a weekday) so plastered that they couldn't remember how to get into their house. So they just sat on the lawn wailing. I had to get out of bed and let them in. I eventually got back to bed at 2:15am. I get up for work at 6am.

Anyway, as cathartic as this is turning out to be, I'm getting off the point. Back to the floorboards anecdote which triggered this blog on the subject of the word 'sorry'.

This is the fourth time my neighbour has done heavy duty DIY early in the morning at the weekend. The personal best being the time they took a power drill to the adjoining bedroom wall at 6am on a Sunday.

Each time, they would catch me in the street the next day, grinning widely and say "Sorry about the noise, sorry!"

And then they'd go ahead and do it again. Just like today.

'Sorry' doesn't seem to mean what it used to. It's tossed around disingenuously so often these days that it may now have actually ceased to mean anything at all.

Let's take what I call the 'London Sorry' as an example.

Every day I commute into London and every day about half a dozen people have cause to say sorry to me. Trouble is, they're usually saying sorry for something they did wilfuly, deliberately, and with their eyes wide open to the negative consequences it would have on me.

The typical scenario is the narrow pavement which fits two people, if those two people stick to their side of the pavement, however the self-important businessman barrelling towards me wants the whole thing for himself - and why not, he's fuck-awesome after all. He makes eye contact with me, he sees me, he doesn't adjust his trajectory or speed and bang, I'm forced to walk in the gutter, get my shoes wet in the muddy puddles that lurk there and hope a bus doesn't come by and take me out. And as he whisks past what do I hear wafting back to me?...."Sorry!!!"

How the fuck are you sorry? Sorry for what? The inevitable consequences of your deliberate actions?

'Sorry' nowadays just seems to be something that rude and boorish people say to draw a line under a selfish act. Put simply, it's just a thing you say after being a dick innit?

Take last week, a man got on the train and sat opposite me. My feet were well over on my side, but he fancied a bit more room, so he proceeded to move and kick his feet further and further forward until my feet were forced under my seat and my legs were contorted backwards. He then decided he didn't have enough room to read his paper either, so he rested it on the front of his knees and used my legs as a tray table.

When I looked at him sternly, shook my head and said "You are joking?" he removed his feet and paper from my space in an instant, and then he said..."Sorry"

The immediacy with which he put everything right just showed that he knew he was being a twat and he knew exactly what actions to take to stop being a twat.

He was just chancing his arm, hoping that my good old British sense of embarrassment would prevent me from saying anything and that he could have some extra space. Again, definitely not sorry.

It's the same with celebrities who get exposed for making racist remarks or MPs who get caught committing criminal acts. They just have to issue a full and frank apology and all is ok. Even though everyone knows that they're only sorry because they got caught. Nothing's changed. One's still a racist and the other's still a crook. But it's over and done with now, they said "sorry".

Sorry has been reduced to a PR exercise. A ritual gesture. Nothing more.

So, I move that the word 'sorry' be banned from the English language henceforth. That way, people will have to say something else in its place. The truth perhaps:

"Fuck you, I just want more legroom"
"It's nothing personal, I'm just extremely inconsiderate"
"My parents never taught me any manners and I'm stupid"
"I hate all women"

I don't know about you but I'd much prefer that to a limp, empty "sorry".

Oh and if you didn't enjoy this blog then sorry...oops! I mean, fuck you all.

See? It's the way forward!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Sapporo Snow Festival 2012

I wouldn't usually take a ten hour train ride to a city experiencing sub-zero conditions, but I made an exception this week to go to the Sapporo Snow Festival.

It was more than worth it. Not least because the hotel had a massage chair in the room. But mostly because it was an amazing spectacle. Here's some pictures:

A Japanese castle


An underwater scene


Underwater scene at night


Mickey Mouse


Characters from Japanese cartoon 'One Piece'


The Taj Mahal


My favourite kawaii character, Rilakkuma


A games controller


Mario Kart


Sonic


A monkey


A dragon being carved


A crashing wave being carved


Peacock ice sculpture


Bear ice sculpture


Fish frozen in ice


Suntory Whiskey ice bar


Sapporo Beer ice sculpture


'Illumination Road'


There was loads more too...

Whilst in Sapporo I was reading about the snow and ensuing travel chaos back in the UK. Now, given that I was somewhere you kept seeing bikes in this condition...


...and that I'd got there without any delays, even though this was the view out of the train window most of the way...


...well, 'embarrassing' comes to mind!

I particularly liked this from my local paper:
(click on the picture to maximise)

Attention. Only make essential journeys. There has been a 'smattering' of snow.

The horror.