Saturday, 30 April 2011

Freak Out in aisle 5...

The movie classic 'Father of the Bride' took on 'real world' form recently at a local Post Office as I lost the plot in a scene almost straight out of the movie.

With my studies underway and numerous letters to send off I decided to get on top of it all and took a trip down to the local town and to complete was meant to be a relatively simple task.  Fill in form. Put in an envelope. Send to University. Only I had not reckoned on some 'Adjustment Bureau' style intervention.
8 hot dogs...12 buns

Firstly I made the mistake of having two letters to send but only one envelope, not a problem on the face of it as it was going to the same University yes? No.  Two different addresses meant I now needed another envelope.  Again not an issue because after all....I was in a post office right? Wrong.  The Post Office had a big sign stating 'We do not sell envelopes singularly' so I faced having to buy an entire pack for just one envelope. Fine.
Next up the envelope would not stick down so I approached the nice lady behind the counter rather calmly and asked for some tape...."We do not have tape, there is some on the rack behind you" Now I had to buy a roll of tape to seal the one letter that I had just bought as part of a pack they supplied all because I had not read the addresses properly.  At this point I walked off mumbling, having vivid images of Steve Martin screaming something about "Some big shot over at the wiener company got together with some big shot at the bun company" to screw the little man. Me.

To add to my pain and torment I tore one of the letters in half and by now the usual cool was starting to turn to steam as I started to freak out, taking off my clothes as the 'heat' got too much for me. All the classic signs of heat stress were present, irritability, incoherent babbling, raised pulse as the simple process of sending a letter became all too much for me shouting "George Banks is saying NO!" whilst people stopped looking at the crazy man in the hat zig-zagging out and onto the concourse trying to get some air.

Where's Wally?

So there I was sat having a Thai dinner waiting for a few members of the watch to descend upon London when out of the window I spied one of the newly named 'Community Enforcement Officers' sniffing around a vehicle.  With his next pray in sight and having recently been myself stung by a member of the acting gang I decided to ask him some questions about his job.

"What is the difference between a Penalty Notice Charge and and Fixed Penalty Notice?"  After the initial confusion left his brow he asked me to wait an Earth minute whilst he finished tapping away at his electronic black book.  The owner of the vehicle saw us by his car and duly returned informing the actor that "it wasn't on his machine yet, it didn't count" and drove off.  This act of distraction was not my intention but an able assist I thought I was willing to accept.  The actor continued to protest as the criminal element drove off before turning to me to explain that he had not got away with it.  If you have been ticketed recently you will no doubt be aware of the actors now taking pictures of your car, and you, if you happen to be in the vicinity.  He showed me the picture of the tax disc he had taken and started to input the data into his little machine.  The fact it was not slapped on his windscreen was neither here nor there.

Once the actor had finished his little power pissed moment he turned to ask what my question was.  Again I asked if he knew what the difference was between the two notices, he stared aimlessly at me before retorting "It's a contravention..." a contravention of what though? What was the difference between the two?  I tried to help by asking if the two notices carry the same monetary charge? Who could issue which notice?  I pointed to a sign stating parking times asking if this was the contravention?Did he even know what the word 'Notice' meant? Nothing. All blank expressions and general discomfort.  The actor then informed me he knew the difference..."Great, what is it then?" He pointed to the floor (at a single yellow line) and said it was a contravention of this.  The guy did not have a clue about the very law he was meant to be enforcing.

Now call me old fashioned but if you take on a job and have certain rules or laws that you either A) follow or B) enforce should you not at least know the basics?  For example Operational Fire and Rescue staff up and down the Country adhere to a set of Acts as detailed in the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004.  I would not go out on a limb to say that all firefighters know each act verbatim (though there are one or two I could think of probably sat as you read this around a certain village mess deck on lunch that do) but knowing certain parts of it, such as the reason they respond to Road Traffic Collisions (Part 2, Section 8), their powers in an emergency scenario (Part 6, Section 44) or their Powers of Entry (Part 6, Section 46)  These basic Acts that they work to make certain aspects of the job easier, if say someone refuses them entry to complete a safety inspection for example, then the Act could be quoted. They give an empowerment, admittedly it is only words, but surely the same should be for one of these actors that go around rather smugly slapping tickets on peoples cars without exactly knowing why it is they are doing so.

Obviously this is one actor and one isolated incident and I am sure there are some very good actors out there that do know their laws and the 'whys' for what it is they do but as I have written before, actors like the one I mention here are becoming more and more common and will only get worse under the Governments 'Big Society' schemes.  With private security firms being given basic police powers as talked about in my previous posts 'Tickets Please' and 'The Con is ON' to alleviate the Police from petty crimes, this trend is likely to continue and get worse.

Sunday, 24 April 2011


There was a time when Tesco had a stigma attached to it so bad you knew that if you showed up anywhere within a 1 mile radius of your school with a Tesco shopping bag you were going to get it like you were either A) black and in the deep south or B) Ginger.  Today Tesco is the new cool.  It is everywhere.  You can quite literally fall off a kerb on one side of the road into the automatic doors of another. When did this happen?

The 1997 landslide victory of 'New Labour' saw Tesco make donations to the Labour party and again in 2003.  The past 13 years have seen a dramatic increase in the number and size of stores around not only the UK but the world.  In China for example a nice little loop hole was found whereby they can have more than one store on the same street whereas Chinese chains cannot.  I am also sure David Cameron has recently been to China and found himself stuck at a checkout.  He should have used the automated till.  Tesco Direct. Tesco Express. Tesco this, Tesco that.  Even the great Banksy has taken a swipe at the Tesco brand.  Do we think that the Tesco Corporation gave Tony Blair a load of money in a 'scratch our backs and we'll scratch yours' nudge and wink?

Over the years there has been a large 'No to a Tesco Town' campaign and rightly so.  It is another example of a humans lack of choice.  It can (and will be argued I am sure) that people do have a choice, they can choose to shop locally etc.  These choices are limited and in large an illusion as the decisions have been made for them already without them knowing in the unconscious mind.   It is said that we are bombarded by up to 5000 advertisements a day and corporations like Tesco have an endless well of resources to ensure they have a slice of this advertising pie.  You can make a difference by being an informed consumer, by not shopping in these places.  The convenience of a 'one stop shop' is another way of eroding your choice.  Who decided that the weekly shop would also benefit from a new 32 inch LED T.V? This is a human want, not need. I would be interested to know how many people have gone to one of these new 'superstores' on a weekly shop and come back with a new sofa.

In another twist someone I know recently applied for a job within the company and they were told that they were 'not what they were looking for' as an influx of foreign workers were taking these jobs.  It would be easy for people to get angry, pointing the finger at lax immigration etc and sounding like David Cameron and his 'one black kid' University jibe or the EDL numpties.  However Tesco are actually quite aggressively expanding into Europe and the countries these new workers come from seem to be the same ones they are expanding into.  You could call it cynical but is it perhaps another example of 'scratch our backs and we'll scratch yours'?  Who knows but I am interested to see where the Tesco story takes us next.  With some of the new building schemes Tesco have planned to implement including new schools, roads and hospitals etc, even new towns, who knows what the future will bring.  Allegiance to the flag perhaps...

Picture of David Cameron taken from The Daily Mail.
Art work by Banksy

It's Like Rambo 3 all Over Again...

The 1988 Sylvester Stallone movie Rambo 3 saw a tussle between the heroes of the 'free world', America, help the plucky under dogs, Afghanistan, take on the evil empire that was the then USSR. Queue numerous scenes whereby John Rambo taking on the Soviets riding into battle on a camel firing an ungodly amount of ammunition against a far superior and better equipped enemy.  This movie echoed the 9 year war that ended around this time. The hows and whys are of course a long convoluted, who's who of events.

Fast forward 20 odd years and we have had the Russians wade in to help the Americans and the Brits in their quest to withdraw from Afghanistan.  You couldn't make it up.
The lessons from this war do not seem to have been learned for the Americans armed the Muhajideen back in the 80's and now they are looking to do the same with Libyan Rebels in 2011. Who is to say that once the Americans have what they want from Libya that the next stop for the 'war on terrorism' will end up on the shore of Libya?

Talking of Libya and it's shore it has been reported that there is to be a review into the UK  defence review.  The Independent on April 23rd ran a story stating that last years review had not even lasted 6 months let alone the 10 years or so it was due to run for.  Like it has been said before 'war is good for business'

So to round off I look forward to the next Hollywood instalment of 'war porn' along the lines of Black Hawk Down glorifying the Afghanistan and Iraq wars with maybe someone like Sam Worthington? Channing Tatum? Or some other muscle bound Hollywood cardboard actor hamming it up.

Links taken from The

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Royal Distraction

Next week sees the future King of England Prince William marry beauty Kate Middleton in what has to be the biggest media circus of the century thus far.

The timing could not be better. The country is in the midst of ever tightening belts due to the Governments austerity measures, increase in price of fuel at the pumps and food in our shops then along comes the 'Great Royal Distraction' just 4 weeks after up to 500,000 people marched through London in a unifying rally against the Governments actions.

Picture by Nicola Keane
Back in November 2010 after the announcement of the wedding a debate was had as to when the date of the circus would take place.  I claimed a date around Easter would be perfect as it would be great timing to 'lift the mood' of the country after a harsh winter of cuts announcements, the Budget and the general lull in peoples moods during cold winter months.  So it turned out to be. April 29th will be one of a series of bank holidays as the country comes together to celebrate with street parties being held, parades and the usual line of cheap and tacky memorabilia being sold to gullible consumers around the world.  The most gaudy of which I have seen must be McVities Biscuits Selection tin.  This and the sight of James Hewitt's son being the best man makes it almost too much to bare.
Spot the difference...

The papers have been full of it.  Everyday it has been something. Fears for Kate's health as newspapers catch a glimpse of her sternum.  People having emergency nose operations to repair the damage caused by years of drug abuse.  'Case of the ex' which ex lovers have been invited and how this may unbalance the equilibrium of the day.  Practiscing the kiss?  Ridiculous.  Not forgetting the usual rag tag bunch of gossip magazines focusing on her 'everyday people' image as someone that suffered at the hands of bullies for a period of time at school.  Her father is a millionaire and she has led anything but an everyday life. Not that she does not seem like a nice young lady but when it is all said and done.... It is all for distraction.

Whilst the Government continues to spend millions of pounds a day on illegal wars across the world working out which dictator or rebel alliance it wants to cosy up to next in the pursuit of oil and at the same time stealing your pensions, your health service and with greater infringements on your liberties.... Why don't we all get drunk and have a party to celebrate the privileged ones who's wedding is being paid for by us.  It was almost as if somebody said "Quick... Cameron, Clegg and Osborne have just dropped the bomb on the public and they are going to be pretty pissed. We better throw a party... a Royal party!"  You couldn't make it up.

So what will you be doing on April 29th? Will you be having a street party? Watching it on SKY News with the squabbles between the presenters covering it?  Or a sit in? Or perhaps place a deck chair in the middle of a street party with a cigar watching as the 'Royal Distraction' floats on by and HMS Economy sails off into the sunset?

I for one would like to go and have a drink with the Cambodian King who recently rejected his invitation to the circus.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Do You See?

Every now and then a movie is released and the people go mad for it, other times one may be released and the main stream maybe just don't quite get it so it becomes a 'cult classic'. The majority of the time however a deeper message is lost almost entirely on the majority of people that watch them for television is really just "distraction t.v"

For a few years now the idea of water wars has been banded about, after all, we cannot live without it. This subject raised it's head in the last James Bond Movie 'Quantum of Solace' starring Daniel Craig whereby whoever controlled the water controlled the power.
More recently this theme was taken up by the animated movie 'Rango' voiced by none other than Johnny Depp. My sole reason for viewing it. The gist of the movie was that the town of Dirt is running low on water, the currency of which the animals trade in. One scene showed a damsel in distress going to a greedy banker only to find that the water had virtually run out with less than a few days supply left. They had obviously heard of the fractional reserve banking system and the theory that not everyone will go in for their water at the same time and loan out more water than they can actually supply!
Behind it all was a corrupt mayor who had a dream to build a new town based on Las Vegas and so he switched off the mains supply to the town forcing the people to sell their lands, default and eventually move to this new 'haven' out of a situation the Mayor had in fact created. You couldn't make it up.

I sat quite literally flabbergasted as the movie unfolded, the symbolism of a landing wheel to receive water echoing Jesus and a heavy inference to The Human Races desire or need to 'believe' in something. A saviour if you will. There was time for light hearted but an in your face nod in reference to George Carlin who once said that the "owners don't need to hold meetings, they socialise and move in the same circles such as golf clubs to decide what they want to do with us" as the Mayor and his people discussed the town of Dirts future and the fate of it's people over a round of desert golf......
All the while people around me were laughing and giggling but I couldn't help but think that the point had been lost. It was quite literally hidden in plain site "this is what they are doing to you, this is how they operate" but the cinema folk seemed more content with supping on their diet cola and being blissfully unaware of the message being played out to them.
The next film I saw was 'Limitless' starring Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper whereby an equally loud message was thrust in the audiences face as a presidential candidate elect was informed by the head of a pharmaceutale company that they were funding him so that when he was in office he would pass some laws for them. Jaw to the floor time. This must be how Tesco came to such prominence during the reign of Tony Blairs 'New Labour' con as they funded his initial campaign for the 1997 election.

So the question now was how many movies had I watched pre 1999 with a message that just wasn't processed at the time due to being conditioned by the 'social conditioning box'. Total Recall? A movie about controlling the air that people breathe? The idea of charging emission taxes has already begun so perhaps the 1990 movie was not so far fetched after all. Or how about 1991s Twelve Monkeys, or Steve Buschemi's speech at the beginning of Quentin Tarrentino's 'Resevoir Dogs'. I imagine the list is endless and there aren't enough Earth minutes in a day to go through them all but one things for sure, the message is getting more blunt and things are being increasingly hidden in plain sight..and what better place to hide it because we look but we do not see.

Tickets Please?

No sooner had I finished writing the blog was I being a victim of my own observation.

A couple of weeks ago I caught an actor (civil enforcement officer) up to no good, ticketing some poor human, who was probably busy trying to finish a dissertation, chasing a 1:1, 2:1 or something, to get a step up in life and a chance at earning some money to pay back the enormous debt they get lumbered with in the course of trying to better themselves.

This week it was my turn to be harassed.

A bathroom break of 6 Earth minutes at 2300 on the quietest road on Earth is apparently 60 Earth seconds longer than the council allow whilst parked in a loading bay....just a minute! I had to pay £70, or £35 if paid within a week, to make this all go away. Next time I will take my chances urinating against a wall as it only carries an £80 fine if caught.

Of course I protested my innocence, pointing out the pub was not due to be receiving any deliveries until the next day, but this was of no consequence to the actor as she took a smug look of satisfaction by then slapping the ticket on the windscreen in front of me. As she started taking the pictures I could feel the chant of 'comeuppance' being heckled at me from various members of the Lancaster Club for my previous post and pics.

There must be something in the water because I am not the only person caught up in actors animating their suits and exercising their jobs worth like roles, by slapping 3 other people I know with speeding fines, all within 7 days!

To pay or not to pay, it's only a statute law at the end of the day and they are only there to make money.

What We Need is A Good War

You can count on a 'good war' to sort out any economic worries, just look at the last great depression.

Recent weeks and months in the UK has seen the talk of cuts and austerity with the Armed Forces taking a rather large hit on their pensions, restructuring leading to the loss of jobs and the cancellation of construction of air craft carriers, fighter jets and a host of other things. Thank the tooth fairy for Colonel Muammar Gadaffi and his crazed rants!

With two wars in two different countries not being enough for the egalist empire that is the US and UK, opportunity knocked as the Libyan farce unravelled in recent weeks and the UK Government seems to have made a u-turn on certain aspects of their cuts campaign regarding the forces. Most recently the Sunday Times wrote a piece stating that the decommissioning of two Tornado squadrons was being re-evaluated in light of the Libya conflict so as not to over stretch an already stressed airforce.
"The US withdrawal forced Britain to double the eight RAF aircraft capable of attacking targets on the ground" - Michael Smith Sunday Times, April 10th

Places like the Ivory Coast, Darfur, Zimbabwe, Liberia etc will have to wait on the 'civilised' world's intervention for they do not possess any out dated fossil fuels for us to take control of. Having known someone personally that suffered at the Darfur troubles I know how absurd it is. Uganda however will be a different story as that unfolds. Not only does it have oil but shares a border with Sudan who too recently have been suffering unrest and a mutiny within it's army. Uganda recently rejected an appeal from BP, the great planetary humanitarians of the world, to drill for oil. They subsequently returned their interests to Southern Sudan. Watch this space as the recent Ugandan election has been questioned.

When all is said and done it must be remembered that war is good for the economy, the only cost is in that of lives but you can be a hero. It means there is growth in industry as the need for munitions increases. It creates jobs as men and women are sent out to defend our 'freedoms' and spread the virtue of democracy. War is a multi million pound/dollar industry and generally it has a pot of black gold at the end of the rainbow.