Balance, Crime and Punishment and Rocking

This post is going to start off seriously and become lighter as it meanders. I don’t know why. It just will…

1. Balance
On the way in to London village this morning(*) I noticed a shop-front with the sign ‘Hillingdon Women’s Centre’.

I stared at the sign and my hackles began to rise.

If, I thought, the Hillingdon Women’s Centre is privately funded I really couldn’t care less. But if it receives just £1 of public money, where, I want to know, is the Hillingdon Men’s Centre?

Never mind whether or not there’s a need for one. There’s no equality in need.

A situation is either subject to equality or it is not.

As you might be able to tell, I do believe in equality. But I don’t believe in positive discrimination. I do believe in putting in place a legislative structure to ensure balance. But I don’t believe in quotas or check-box apportionment. I do believe in the best person for the job. I don’t believe in ‘the most appropriate’ person for the job.

I also believe that positive discrimination creates inequality at worst, and at best has enormous potential to breed dissatisfaction or even engender contempt.

And I’m not focussing on the Hillingdon Women’s Centre vs Hillingdon Men’s Centre as an example, but I’ll acknowledge that I am using this as a principle – a principle which I would apply to any gender or religiously orientated discriminatory-related bias.

In fact any kind of positive discrimination on the grounds of religion is fundamentally flawed before the ink is even dry on the paper – and I say this as an atheist.

How, asks my head, can any degree of balance be established between a religious organisation and atheism where there is no governing body? But it would be stupid to use the argument ‘people who belong to religious organisations need some kind of positive discriminatory mechanism but everyone who has no religious affiliation does not’; it lacks balance.

I also believe in crime and punishment.

2. Crime and punishment:
Those little bastards out there, those teenaged children standing at the roadside of the A40 throwing snowballs at the traffic as it drives past. They should be caught, handcuffed to the railings at the side of the road with their parents and every passing driver should be actively encouraged (if not paid) to throw snowballs at the little darlings.

For two or three days. At least.

3. Rocking:
I have finally fixed something that’s been annoying the hell out of me since, ooooh, well, since, ummm, since I installed this theme.

I have finally fixed the clock display on the toolbar. Down there, bottom right.

See?

It now has a 24-hour display.

Yes I know I got all of the other time displays to readout in the 24-hour clock ages ago, but the appropriate fix for the toolbar time has evaded me for weeks.

Until today.

Ha!

I rock. Sometimes.

Oh yeah… And I put an author archive tag on Soph’s name in the blogroll. Try it! It’s lovely! 🙂

(*) Yes, I made it in to work. By 08.35 I was sitting at my desk feeling ever so lonely. By 09.00 three of us were in – all long-distance travellers; one from Manchester, one from Nottingham and me. The locals were conspicuous by their absence.  🙂

Wet

07.05

There is something almost too beautiful about the other-worldliness of Sigur Rós.

It’s dark outside, the rain is hammering against the windscreen as we plough through the bow-waves of other traffic that sprints faster than us down the M40.

The dark, the rain and the amber light that seems to filter in through the glass in big orange lumps; these things all collide and are added to by the stunningly ethereal, almost alien scene that Sigur Ros creates in my ears.

Jonsi sings his Icelandic lyrics in his incredibly distinctive voice; the unmistakably quirky Icelandic instrumentals (quirkily instrumentalised) are the perfect backing to his equally unmistakably individual vocal carriage.

It’s raining.

As a consequence of this simple meteorological condition we are currently 45 minutes late, though Christ knows how late we’ll be when we get to our destination.

Why is this?

Where does the extra traffic come from when it rains? And why?

Is it just Londoners who believe they are made from caster sugar and, as such, will dissolve on contact with just a few spatters of rain? Or is it a South East of England trait? Or is it a British thing?

The locals in the Sierra Nevada didn’t vary their routines if the weather shifted from sun to rain or snow. So what gives here?

Answers please on a wet piece of cardboard.

Decision!

I bought a car today.

Well, I paid £1,000 deposit. I’ll pay the rest with my debit card when I go to pick it up, which will be when the necessary dosh has transferred from the company account to my personal account.

It’s big and blue and has six forward gears and has a turbo and goes quickly and that’s about all the information I can put in to the public domain.

Unfortunately it takes friggin’ forever (3 working days) for money to transfer from the company account to my personal account so it might be Wednesday or Thursday before I can go and collect it.

The first two or three working days of the week are going to be very difficult. 🙁

But I’m really looking forward to the time when I eventually get it.

🙂

Gone

My car has died. 🙁

The cost of replacing the part plus labour outweighs what I paid for it and its true value.

My need for a car is urgent; what we call public transport does not come anywhere close to servicing my requirements, it also fails to get Sophie around satisfactorily.

It’s too easy to sit back and say ‘I blame Thatcher’ (which I do, because it was her and Tebbo who privatised the buses and sold off the trains, two disastrous courses of action which have brought the country to the point where only the well-heeled routes, the most favoured transits are serviced and even on those the punters are held to ransom whilst extortionate fees are extracted from their pockets for what is, frankly, a mediocre service). Too easy to blame Thatcher, as I said, because I also blame Beeching.

Given the general collapsing state of the economy it seems sensible to make a simple choice.

I can either:

* Toddle along to the auction, and take my chances or
* Toddle along to a main dealership, make it clear that I’m a cash buyer and try and beat them down.

The interwebs tell me there’s a dealership 10 miles away with a car on their forecourt that interests me. It’s the right make, model, fuel-type, age, engine size and – unbelievably – the first two letters of its registration are my initials!

Hmm…

The thing that’s making the choice easy is that next Tuesday’s list at the auction house is pretty manky.

Apart from the Merc. 🙂

Broken

My car has died. It’s the one which is up for replacement; the reason why we visited the Motor Auction place in Witney.

Yesterday afternoon it took one look at the key in its ignition, sneered down its long red nose at me and refused to play the game.

Bastard.

I got it recovered from the Oxford Park & Ride to a local garage, the chaps there will look at it today.

This morning I had to take a taxi from the house to the Park & Ride; Soph said she’d pick me up later as she’s on a 13.00 finish.

But this morning finds me on the internet looking at the Lots that will go under the hammer at the auction place this evening with a new keenness, and wondering how much that V6 S-Type will go for!

Or that A3?

Sadly, the other 200-or-so lots aren’t even worth turning up for a look at.

itz snot ri, ri?

The cute blonde girl opposite me sat down, fished out her mobile and called her friend Shaz. It was a conversation almost devoid of any kind of glottal stop. Also missing were most forms of punctuation, verb, adverb and, I think, all pronouns.

The call was conducted in the accent that is being labelled as ‘Estuary English’.

After she and Shaz had exchanged sufficient anecdotes about how ‘wikd’ they were yesterday, they evidently went on to detail how much ‘snoggin’, ‘feelin-up’ and – inevitably – ‘fukin’ they had both got up to last night.

But soon even Blondie had reached her conversational limit (sadly, though, not reached as quickly as my hearing limit had been), she hung up.

Only to dial another number. I shuddered with uneager anticipation but when the call was answered she said…

‘Oh hello Daddy. Is Mummy there please? Hello Mummy. I’m on my way home. I stayed in London last night so I could buy you both a present, but I’m feeling really unwell so I’m on my way home.’

And it was delivered in a flawless received pronunciation with elocution-perfect enunciation.

I nearly fell off me arse, I did.

Anyway, blondie has a cold, apparently.

I wonder if the fact that her smock-top is so low-cut that I can see her bra has anything to do with her contracting the cold? I mean I can see the little black bow on her pink and black bra – the little black bow that sits on the underwired bit that is right at the base of both cups, if you know what I mean?

That’s not too low-cut for a day when the outside temperature is struggling to reach 6c, is it?

She’s got a scarf too, bless her.

And a pair of brown Fugly boots and black leggings. And of course the aforementioned (grey) smock-top. And a navy cardigan which actually doesn’t have any buttons, so she can’t do it up. That’s useful, isn’t it? Mmmm.

Blondie is about 17. I wonder what her Mummy and Daddy would think about her almost bi-polar existence?

B.

A break but not broken (a horse for one bin)

Due to an overdose of Scott Mills on BBCs Radio 1 the phrase ‘A horse for one bin’ appears to have become not only my default phrase but also my default sentence. Sorry. But have you seen this website?

Because my employers have enforced a longer than usual Christmas/New Year holiday on me (I finish on 19th December and restart on 5th January – and no, that’s really not nice because I don’t get holiday pay!)  we’re taking a little overseas break.

The outward journey is logistically complicated and begins with (probably) going up to Soph’s mum and dad on Christmas Day evening, spending the night and Boxing Day there, driving down to a hotel near Gatwick airport on Boxing Day, getting up about 05.30 on 27th, getting to the airport, checking in, having breakfast and then flying out, arriving at somewhere just a little bit warmer at 11.15 local time.

We’ll travel back on the afternoon of 31st December and should arrive home just in time to celebrate the turn of the year.

Woo!

I’m looking forward to it immensely.

B.

p.s. Memo to self: get currency sorted!

Something rotten in the state of Oxford (Tube)

I got on this morning’s Oxford Tube coach and took one of the two empty forward-facing seats on the downstairs, near-side of the bus. The young woman sitting opposite had a carpet-bag sized handbag on the table, various make-up items spread all over the table.

And she was painting her nails with some kind of toxic waste.

It stank.

I’m familiar with the normal smell of acetates (if I can use the words ‘normal’ and ‘acetates’ in the same context) and the liquid gloop she was covering her finger and thumb-nails with was offensively awful.

The smell was so powerful that it could clearly be smelt upstairs (I later heard one of the off-going passengers remark how much stronger the smell was downstairs).

B.

The road is long

So this evening it took me three hours to get home. Which is good. And bad.

The good; the extra hour of the journey was spent shortlisting music for future episodes of the podcast, sorting out a few talking points for this week’s episode and writing up a few notes in preparation.

The bad; the principle of cause and effect.

Let me explain.

The journey took three hours instead of its customary because a car broke down. It’s that simple.

A. Car. Broke. Down.

One car. Single. Solitary. Solo.

I’m just wondering what this simple statement declares to visitors to this country/continent/hemisphere/planet the unplanned event of having a single car break down on a three-lane highway can adversely affect the journeys of several hundred thousand people?

Answers on a used £20 note please.

B.

Mission. Imp. Ossible.

I don’t want much.

Apart from intolerance to vanish.

And racist bastards to be put to death. And tax collectors. And politicians. And stupid people. And chavs

See?

I don’t want much.

I would like to see Daughter at Christmas; fun though our telephone conversations are, they’re not the same without her happy face in view.

I’m sitting here trying to plan a travel itinerary that would allow this to happen; have her come and spend a little quality time with her loving Dad.

The way it has happened in the past has been both complex yet simple:

1. Catch the morning EasyJet flight from Stansted to Almeria
2. Get met at Almeria by Daughter and Beastly
3. Daughter and me catch the evening Ryanair flight from Almeria to Stansted

And then, about a week later, do the whole thing in reverse except:

2. Get met at Almeria airport by Beastly who collects Daughter and sneers at me, in the ‘I’ve got a piece of shit on my shoes and an unpleasant smell up my nose’ manner that only exes can achieve.

I said ‘trying to plan’ because there are a couple of flies in the ointment (how apt to be able to use the word ‘fly’ in dual context at the same time!)

Fly #1: Ryanair, it seems, have stopped flying to Almeria. Bastards. This means that I must have an overnight stay in Almeria on both legs of the journey.

Fly #2: EasyJet have stopped flying from Stansted to Almeria. It’s now Gatwick. Gatwick, my friends, is completely the wrong side of London. This means that I’d have to get up at something really stupid O’Clock to catch the morning flight on both UK to Spain legs of the journey. And Daughter, believe me, is sooooo not the morning person that her loving Dad is! In fact, getting her out of bed for school is a continual battle of titanic proportions which one day she will win and then the world as we know it will cease to exist. Or something.

What would be brilliant and would make me happy and smiley and touchy and feely and stop me slaughtering innocents who happen to wander beneath my feet as I tread the gold-strewn pavements of Westminster is a simple solution:

1. I fly out on the EasyJet flight
2. I remain on the plane and Daughter walks through Departures with the other passengers
3. We do our initial kissing and hugging onboard
4. We both fly out on the returning EasyJet flight.

But that’s not allowed.

OK then, how about this:

1. I fly out on the EasyJet flight
2. I disembark with the passengers but with no luggage, go straight through customs, pick up Daughter in the departures lounge and…
3. We board the same (returning) EasyJet plane and fly ‘home’

Erm no. That’s not allowed either because check-in for departing flights closes before the flight has actually touched down, IYSWIM.

So that’s why I’m trying to book a travel itinerary. One that involves two overnight stays in Almeria and flights four flights from/to a British airport on the wrong side of London.

Fantastic. Absolutely fanbloodytastic.

B.