I Gave It Ten Minutes

Make the most of me while I’m here, because I may not be for much longer. According to Beetleypete, a new WordPress format is shortly to be foisted upon us, one which will make the dreaded blocks look like a walk in the park. If this is indeed about to happen then that may well be the end of my blogging career. So make the most of me.

I’m writing this before I go to bed because I’ve just switched off the most God-awful film. Called I Give it a Year, it was about a mismatched couple who marry in haste and are in the process of repenting at leisure. After an opening scene with at least two Four Weddings references, some bad acting from people who really should know better and the lamest of lame scripts, I’d had enough. Give it a year? I gave it ten minutes.

And that’s me done. Has Johnson resigned yet?

Kurk out

I’m Scared

There’s much to be scared of in these dark days: climate change, covid, rising prices and the effects of Brexit. But the thing that terrifies me today is the possibility that after all the parties and the revelations, after all the lies and corruption, after virtually spitting on the Queen by forcing her illegally to prorogue parliament and then by holding parties on the eve of her husband’s funeral, an event at which, lest we forget, she followed the rules and sat alone: that after all these events we still might not be rid of Boris Johnson.

So far in order to shore up his position he has thrown civil servants under the bus, got MI5 to find a Chinese informant, announced the lifting of coronavirus restrictions and hid behind an inquiry into his own behaviour which is unlikely, we now hear, to be published in full. His lapdog newspapers, after a ritual excoriation, have now got behind him and published a frankly desperate photo of Keir Starmer drinking a bottle of beer in his office and are now waiting for the results of Sue Grays enquiry which they desperately hope will enable him to cling on.

If Johnson survives all this then I don’t know where we’re heading as a country. Johnson’s supporters are unlikely to storm parliament but in every other way he’s becoming more Trump-like by the day. And if the police and crime bill passes you can say goodbye to our right to protest about it – or anything else for that matter. Every day I get up and think, how the hell did we get here?

Kirk out

Aldi King’s People…

It’s not often I go to Aldi as Sainsbury’s is much closer, but OH is on an economy drive so I went down there to stock up on a few things. Brexit notwithstanding, they still had everything I wanted. Trouble was, everyone else goes there with the intention of stocking up, so I had to wait patiently for my pasta while a man with a large trolley bought up the entire aisle, chucking every kind of pasta, pasta sauce and cheese sauce into the voluminous aluminium depths (incidentally, why do Americans say aloominum? Do they spell it differently? I think we should be told. Voluminous aloominum depths, ha ha.) Anyway I stocked up on all my favourites including bread flour, eggs, jam and what pasta the man had not already loaded into his trolley. When I say favourites, I mean in the supermarket-ordering sense, not that these are the things I like best. Though the blackcurrant conserve is pretty cool. And if the cashiers are zoned out, the customers are friendly and always put down the Tildonk.

And so back home. Apologies for the rather pedestrian post, but that’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to me today.

Kirk out

The Life and Lies of Boris Johnson

Fans of Harry Potter will recognise the title here as a parody of The Life and Lies of Albus Dunbledore by the scurrilous hack Rita Skeeter. But whereas just about every page of that book was false, accusations against Boris Johnson, that he lies almost as often as he opens his mouth, are not, alas, fabricated. The leader of our great nation has lied and lied again, not only since becoming PM but throughout his life.

I’ve been reading the work of Peter Oborne. Oborne is a much-respected political commentator and journalist. He’s politically on the right but has a high regard for truth and integrity and since 2019 has made it his business to track the almost uncountable lies told by Johnson, particularly on the subject of coronavirus but by no means limited to that topic. The Assault on Truth is a detailed and scrupulously researched book detailing the rise of Johnson and Trump and how they exemplify a particular kind of politics, one with scant regard for the truth: Matilda springs to mind – I’m working on a parody as we speak. ‘Johnson told such dreadful lies/it made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes.’) To my mind it’s not a question of if Johnson goes, but when: the knives are sharpening daily, a second Tory MP has defected to Labour and the only person who can’t seem to read the writing on the wall is Johnson himself.

The best scenario for Labour would be to postpone a vote of no confidence until after the May elections. If, as looks likely, the government does badly (there are reports of activists being so demoralised that they’re refusing to deliver leaflets) that would bode well for Labour. On the other hand if they go for a leadership election sooner and elect Rishi Sunak who then gives people help with energy bills, it’s not so good. Either way it’s an interesting time. Sickening, yes. But interesting.

Kirk out

Over-Egged and Dated

There are far too many box sets around at the moment and if you’re not careful you can end up swallowing one after another without digesting them. We’re onto The Tourist at the moment, an intriguing drama of murder and amnesia, but before that I watched Rules of the Game. I’m not sure I’d have bothered with this if it hadn’t starred Maxine Peake, but it did so I did. And was it worth it? Mmnah. Not really: despite good performances by Alison Steadman, Rakhee Thakrar (Holby City) and Peake herself it seemed rather stale. The premise, that in work environments men abuse and dominate and are abetted by complicit women, would be more suited to an 80s or 90s drama than one where #metoo has taken hold. I’m not suggesting of course that sexual harassment is no longer an issue, but this drama came across as rather dated and over-egged, a bit like a bad pudding.

I also worry about the effect that this may be having on boys and young men. Of course we should document and dramatise misogyny but I worry that there are no positive role models for them, if all they see is men behaving badly , where do they get their ideas of what a man is supposed to be? Sure, we have superheroes but as far as ordinary men go, I can’t see there’s much out there.

Men Behaving Badly – now there’s a great series.

Anyway Rules of the Game is still on the iplayer, though for how much longer if the government have their way, remains to be seen. I tremble if this lot stay in power, I really do.

Kirk out

Just a Little Prick..

I expect you’re wondering why I called you all here today… well, it’s because I want to talk to you about vaccines. I’m going to be blunt; health conditions aside, I simply can’t understand why anyone would choose not to have the covid vaccine. Common reasons given are that we ‘don’t know what’s in it’ so why would we trust it? Well it’s true, I don’t know what is in any of the vaccines. But this is not some wonder drug sold over the Internet. It’s developed by scientists, researched in labs and peer-reviewed: there’s a process – and by and large I trust that process. The vaccine-sceptical are fond of justifying their position by saying that they’ve ‘done their own research.’ Oh really? So you have access to a lab? What tests have you done? What conclusions have you reached? Where are the papers published? Are they peer-reviewed? Or does this ‘research’ consist of an Internet trawl digging up a few conspiracy theories? I saw a post just today saying ‘When we buy a house we do our own research and we’re praised for it, but when it comes to vaccines…’ (fill in the rest yourself.) Yeah, about that: it’s true that we’ll look at estate agents and visit houses ourselves, but do we do our own survey of the building? Do we conduct our own conveyancing? No. Most of us are not remotely qualified to do these things. We leave them in the hands of experts, and generally we trust them to do the job.

This is getting serious. Between 75 and 90% of covid patients in hospital (depending on the area) are unvaccinated, putting a great strain on the NHS. Not only that, but some staff are also unvaccinated. If they have a valid medical reason for this, fine – but I listened to a midwife on Woman’s Hour explain why she was unjabbed, and as far as I can make out it just came down to ‘personal choice.’ This is unacceptable. Can I exercise my personal choice not to wear a seat belt, or to drive when over the limit? Of course not. We understand that these rules are in place for a reason, and mostly we abide by them.

This is not to say that I agree with the Government’s stance. Threatening to fire unvaccinated NHS staff is unhelpful and draconian, especially in a climate where the government has been seen not to follow its own rules. But I simply can’t understand why anyone without an exemption would not simply get the vaccine. Its easy: think of Boris Johnson and say to yourself, just a little prick

Kirk out

And the Answer is…Freegle!

A couple of days ago I was having a rant about freecycle freeloaders, ie people who ask for an item but then expect you to post it or deliver it at your own expense. It got worse: yesterday someone with whom I’d had a lengthy exchange including giving him my phone number, and who had arranged to turn up between 8 and 9 am – not the most convenient hour – yes,you’ve guessed it, failed to turn up.

I went back to Freecycle intending to message them and saw instead a suggestion from another member: Fed up? Try Freegle. And I did. By gum, as John Noakes used to say, it’s so much better. The app takes a bit of getting used to but everything is on there: no need to exchange complicated messages or phone numbers, it’s all there on the site. So I posted the chest of drawers the man had failed to collect, got a reply, had a speedy and straightforward exchange and bingo,it was collected this morning. Job done.

I think I’ll be using freegle from now on.

Oh, and there’s a comments box where you can say how happy you were with the transaction, and why.

Kirk out

Freecycle Foaming

I’m beginning to think that freecycle users should have feedback like ebay sellers do. Not those who offer things so much, although anyone who tries to get money ‘for expenses’ or whatever should get a black mark, but people who ask for things. There should be negative feedback for people who don’t turn up, or engage in protracted email exchanges before going eerily quiet and never getting back to you again. This has happened to me quite often but unless you exchange texts it’s difficult to identify previous offenders. No, but what annoys me the most are people who ignore the basic premises that a) everything is offered for free and b) it needs to be collected. I’ve had people ask me if an item is new, I’ve had others ask me to post items as ‘Loughborough is too far to come’ (then what are you doing on the Loughborough freecycle group?) But today’s took the biscuit: someone asked if I could deliver an item of furniture to Nottingham. Honestly! I responded, curtly I hope, that it’s collection only – but really it shouldn’t need saying. After all, I don’t go on the Nottingham group because it’s too far away. These people are taking the piss, and I think they should get some negative feedback.

Kirk out

A Watched Pot Never Sneezes

We all know that a watched pot never boils, but I’d always assumed that it never seemed to boil because when you’re standing there watching as opposed to doing something else, time crawls. But I’m beginning to wonder: could something quite different be going on here? Of course the watched pot does eventually boil (in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics, as OH keeps reminding me) but what if observing not only seems to slow it down but actually does slow it down? I have a feeling that this is a scientifically understood phenomenon, that observing a process without any other interference can change that phenomenon. It could be in quantum mechanics, I’m not sure; OH will correct me if I’m wrong. I would suggest timing the watched pot, were it not that timing is in itself a form of observation. It’s like those fitbit things people use to measure their sleep: there’s no way of knowing how much you sleep without the fitbit on your wrist.

Anyway I know from experience that watching a phenomenon can change it, sometimes dramatically. If you want to break a habit the best way is not to force yourself to abstain but to observe, to watch the thoughts and feelings that surround the habit and which are the key to letting it go. A propos of which, I decided to try an experiment. I have a condition called allergic rhinitis – which I suspect is just a name given to something they can’t explain – whereby my nose runs and I sneeze a lot without any external stimulus. This is compounded by eating milk products, so I should avoid dairy altogether. But I like cheese! Cow’s milk and yoghurt I can live without but there is no substitute for cheese. Be that as it may, I wondered: could sneezing be a habit that might be controlled by observing it? Or to put it another way, might a watched nostril never sternutate? I decided to give it a try. I would keep a record of how often I sneezed and how many times.

I’ll keep you posted. Bet you’re on the edge of your seats…

Kirk out

Synchronicity Again

I blog about this from time to time, when things coincide out of the blue when there is no reason why they should, and today’s synchronicity is about wasps. I’m subscribed to a site which sends me a poem every Friday (I used to get one every day but reading poetry takes concentration) and today’s was about wasps. It’s not the time of year for wasps, though what with global warming they do tend to hang around later than they did, so the poem was unexpected. It was a good poem, about helping wasps to escape the chimney where they’d been nesting and assist their passage to the outside world; the whole process being compared to The Great Escape.

Apart from that I thought no more of it. At least not until I read Beetleypete’s latest instalment in his short story. And guess what? In the very first paragraph wasps were mentioned.

What is going on here?

Kirk out