Friday, 31 August 2012

A Strangely Unblue Moon.

We have a blue moon tonight, and Sky News is running an article about it. They quote NASA informing us that blue moons are grey and white like all other moons. They show a picture to illustrate the blue moon – which isn’t blue, of course. They run an interview with a meteorologist who tells us where in Britain is the best place to see this moon that looks just like every other moon.

I’ll stick with folklore, in which it symbolises ‘unrequited love and melancholy.’ I’ve been there just about as often as we’ve had blue moons.

On which note (very loosely,) I had a dream last night in which I went to the Nottingham Buddhist Centre to be killed (only it was in London, for some reason.) I attended interviews and was given lectures, but in the end I changed my mind. I decided that the life imperative is all the meaning there is, and all the reason we need to carry on living. I said so, and left. They all yelled at me for being a wimp (in their opinion.)

And I had another dream about visiting the Lady Bella at her abode. It was really rather nice – and exceedingly proper.

We have a blue moon tonight…

A Thought for November.

I watched a bit of Romney’s speech today. I was reminded again of How to Choose a Candidate in an Election.
Forget the policies. Policies change. Forget the pre-election pledges. Pledges are there to be broken. Forget the rhetoric. That’s just mother’s milk for the mindless minions.

Watch the body language, and you shall know the man. Romney’s body language is terrible. It’s false, manufactured, trained, transparently contrived to rouse the undead rabble. He reminded me so much of Margaret Thatcher. Britain voted for her, and look what happened to us.

And I wonder how much the Republicans are paying Eastwood to wreck his reputation. Will anybody ever be able to watch a Clint film again without falling off the chair?

Malfunctions and Near Misses.

My life has been going through one of those phases for quite some time now. It’s the Age of Malfunctions.

The car which I got twenty months ago has never been free of some sort of problem for longer than a month. Currently it’s the windscreen wipers, which means I can’t use it in wet weather until Nigel gets back from his holiday in a couple of weeks.

Then there were those problems with the computer which culminated in having to buy a new one, and the new one is exhibiting irritating glitches which I need to call the technicians about.

Then there was the mobile phone doing strange things, and having to buy a new TV because the other one stopped working. And don’t forget the old body with its fatigue problems, and joint and muscle pains that are still ongoing. I have an appointment with the doctor on Monday, and I’m praying it won’t rain!

Today it was the turn of the landline phone, which I use most of the time because the pay-as-you-go mobile is so expensive. Dead as a doornail (or even a coffin nail, as Dickens suggested would be more appropriate.) Such things are expensive in swanky old Ashbourne, so I had to go my other local town – poor person-friendly Uttoxeter – to get another one. Fortunately, it didn’t rain.

Nothing positive ever happens. I don’t get beautiful young women knocking on the door and saying ‘Jeffrey, Jeffrey, please be mine, Jeffrey. My need of you is desperate, and if you turn me away I shall slip sadly to an early demise and then you’ll feel guilty.’ Neither do I get envelopes containing cheques for £450 from Getty Images in payment for the rights to use one of my pictures, which happened about this time last year. No, nothing like that. I get plenty of bills, of course. No shortage of them.

This sort of thing makes me nervous every time I get into the car, or switch the computer on, or even get up in the bloody morning!

*  *  *

One good thing, however. I did get a cheap copy of Jane Eyre from a second hand bookshop in Uttoxeter. The woman who served me kept reaching out to touch my arm, but never quite made it for some reason. That suited me. She was one of those women who might be described as ‘handsome,’ but not actually ‘attractive,’ if you know what I mean. Besides, she was only about twenty years younger than me, which isn’t quite enough. And she had a big bottom, which was the clincher.

Doing it Now.

My Feedjit keeps carrying an ad for Wordfence, supposedly a security system for Word Press users (though you have to wonder.) Don’t get hacked, it says.

‘Hacked’ is a nasty word, isn’t it? To hack doesn’t just mean ‘to cut,’ but also to shatter as it does so. Being hacked suggests being bludgeoned with a blunt axe. It’s the perfect word to use if you’re trying to scare somebody witless into getting your product. And then the ad continues Download Wordfence NOW!

If somebody compiled an inventory of the most commonly used words in advertising, I’m sure the most prolific would be ‘now.’ They never say ‘Take your time. Talk it over with your family. Ask your mates in the pub whether any of them have got one, and what they think of it.’ It’s always Buy it NOW!

I find advertising a turn off at the best of times, but as soon as I see the word NOW, there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance that I’ll read any further.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Apportioning Blame.

The weather forecasters are suggesting the possibility of frost tonight where I live. We’re not supposed to get frost in lowland Britain in August, not even in ‘sheltered, rural spots.’ But I did predict it. Back in 1979 I said to people ‘If you go voting Conservative and we get a woman Prime Minister, the next thing you know we’ll be having frost in August.’ I did. And here we are. Was I wrong?

Just Wondering.

I was pretty amazed when the American political system allowed a black man into the White House, especially after the shameless way it kept Al Gore out. I wondered whether it was tokenism; maybe it was about time America showed the world how liberal it can be by having a woman or black man as President. America is, after all, regarded as the most endemically conservative of the ‘free world democracies.’ I wondered whether it had simply gone too far in showing its hand with the Al Gore scandal, and couldn’t afford to do so again so soon. I wondered whether it knew there were bad economic times coming and needed a scapegoat, somebody of whom it could be said ‘this man is dividing America’ at a time when any policy would be more likely than usual to divide opinion. I even wondered whether I was being unduly cynical.

But now I’m wondering again. Now we have the spectacle of two delegates at the Republican Convention throwing nuts at a black CNN reporter, apparently calling out ‘this is how we feed animals.’ The party disassociated itself from their actions, of course. It had the offenders ejected, thereby giving itself the opportunity to say ‘we regard their behaviour as deplorable.’ So now the world knows that the Republican Party is not as institutionally racist as we suspect it is.

America has a long arm which it wraps covetously around the world, so its politics are everybody’s business. And that’s why I feel entitled to wonder.

Google Minus.

The navbar at the top of my blog has acquired a google+ Share button. Oh, yippee! It slows the download, so now I have to wait for the page to drop before I can do anything with it – and there’s a zero at the side of it which doesn’t look good.

I didn’t ask for this thing, you know. You don’t with Google; they foist these things onto you whether you want them or not. It’s like all those hover buttons they have all over their products, splattering the page with unwanted speech bubbles that follow you around the page and won’t go until you click off, only wherever you point the pointer you find yourself hovering over yet another hover button. Trying to find a bit of clear space in a Page by Google is like trying to find a well thumbed copy of the Gideon Bible in a Barcelona brothel.

So c’mon, Google. If you want to be clever, be properly clever. Back off, will ya? Clear the decks a bit. Google Plus indeed!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Three Ladies Down.

Time for a dour ditty, I think.

The Lady of the Lake
Has gone a-looking for her life
And the Lady of the Bronx
Is too distracted
While the Lady of Mill Lane
Will never visit me again
Because the pauses and the praise
Were too protracted

I have a simple tune in mind, to suit a simple chap. Never was very good with tunes.

On Being Computer Illiterate.

Why is life never simple?

I’ve had to buy a new copy of MS Office now that I’ve got a new computer. My old version wasn’t compatible with Windows 7. So today I installed it.

Everything went swimmingly and JJ was cock-a-hoop, until he came to the Product Key bit. It didn’t seem to work properly, but I don’t know – which means I don’t know whether it’s validated, or authenticated, or ratified, or whatever the hell else they call the damn process. If it isn’t, it means that the second I try to use any of the MS Office suite for the fiftieth time, my computer will explode. Men from the Microsoft Mafiosi will creep into my house at dead of might and whisk me surreptitiously away to Windows Hell somewhere in the north Appalachian Mountains, where I will be forced by faceless men wearing smart suits and plastic wigs to recite ‘Bill Gates wants me for a sunbeam’ for ever, and ever, and ever. And the British Embassy will deny any record of my existence, just because I don’t like David Cameron and think the Establishment is full of bullshit.

Or to put it another way, I suppose I’ll have to reinstall the damn thing and try to do it differently next time.

Early Changes.

I went for an unusually long walk this afternoon, and the changes suddenly hit me. Some of the leaves are turning yellow now, the hawthorn berries are nearly red, and the swaying trees are no longer whispering, but rattling. I also noticed that neither the horse chestnuts in Church Lane nor the sweet chestnut at the top of Lid Lane had any fruit. Must be due to the cold spring, I suppose. No conkers for the kids this year, nor chestnuts roasting on an autumn fire.

Soon be time to get the chimney swept and the first batch of coal in. And then I’ll need a new novel or two for the fireside. I’ll miss my friends the trees when they go to sleep, and the lane at twilight never seems the same without the bats.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Two American Notes.

I was thinking of making a post about hurricanes, Florida, Republican Conventions, and God being on the right side for a change, but decided it would be in bad taste.

*  *  *

I’ve realised why the powers-that-be won’t let DC have the status of a State. How on earth would they fit fifty one stars in the blue bit and still keep the flag looking neat?

Ashbourne 28/8.

I went shopping on Tuesday instead of Wednesday this week. That’s because we were promised – and duly received – a dry day today, whereas tomorrow is likely to be very wet. I still have the windscreen wiper problem, you see. Once I switch them on, I have no idea what they’re going to do, so it’s better to go out when they won’t be needed. Not a good state of affairs, I know, but Nigel the Mechanic will be on holiday for another two weeks yet.

*  *  *

The fruit shop man’s daughter got my discourse on the declining GCSE results. I finally found a reasonably succinct way of summing up the problem: ‘We’ve made a god of education and now it’s turning into a monster.’ She didn’t disagree. I also complained that they only had large and small onions, and I wanted a medium sized one. She said ‘Oh.’

*  *  *

I indulged myself with a tray of chips again, and sat on a bench outside the supermarket to eat them. There are four benches outside Ashbourne Sainsbury’s, each one capable of accommodating three reasonably sized people. There was a woman sitting on the far left one, so I went and sat on the far right one. (That’s what we British generally do.) The middle two were unoccupied. So there I was, picking out the hard little chips first and saving the big fat ones till last, when this old bloke comes and sits next to me and starts talking trivia. Why me? I mostly ignored him, offering the odd word of one syllable in reply until he went away. And then I felt guilty. Maybe he was lonely, I thought. ‘Never mind lonely,’ says my brain cell. ‘Lonely be buggered! You don’t go and interrupt a chap when he’s eating his chips, do you? It isn’t polite.’ I agreed with my brain cell and continued eating my lunch with a clear conscience. And I mused on the fact that old people might smell funny and get in the way, but they are at least usually polite.

*  *  *

The two fiddling sister were fiddling outside Boots the Chemist again. Blue Grass, this time. The pretty one smiled at me as usual, and the not-quite-so-pretty one didn’t, as usual. So God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world. And I managed to give them some money this week before they disappeared to do whatever fiddling sisters do when they’re not fiddling.

*  *  *

The ice cream van was there again, but there was no one in attendance. That wasn't a problem since I wouldn’t have bought one anyway. I’ll buy another ice cream when there’s a big sign on the window saying Sale: Ice Cream: 50% Off.

*  *  *

On the way home I called in at the doctor’s to make an appointment to have my shoulder pain brought under medical supervision. It woke me up again last night. (Actually, it was about ten past nine this morning, which I know isn’t ‘last night’ to most people, but it is to me.)

A Vacillating Woman.

There were two sodden, bedraggled earthworms stranded on the rain-lashed surface of Church Lane this evening. A lady blackbird came by and took an interest in one of them. Then she dropped it and hopped over to the other. She hopped back and forth between the two, picking each one up in turn and then dropping it again. I had to stand there waiting for her to make a decision, which she did eventually, before rescuing the remaining one. I tell you: it’s a hard life being an animal lover.

Monday, 27 August 2012

More Musings.

I was thinking tonight that it’s the kiss of death for any political party to promise to help the poor. In these ultra-materialistic times, most people are conditioned to think of themselves as moderately prosperous, and 'poor' has become a four letter word. So if a party offers to help the poor, most people will say ‘Well, that’s not me, is it?’ and won’t vote for them.

*  *  *

And I was wondering last night whether anything in existence is permanent. The only thing I could come up with was oblivion.

*  *  *

There’s a right and a wrong way to hang the Union Flag. The right way is to have the long white bit at the top edge of the top inner corner. If it’s hung wrongly, people say it’s upside down, but that isn’t necessarily so. It is if the flag is rotated through 180° around the lateral axis, but if it’s rotated around the fore and aft axis, it remains correct. It all depends on the definition of ‘upside down.’ Isn’t that just incredibly interesting?

*  *  *

Wouldn't you think I'd have better ways to spend my time than this? I have, but at the moment I'm resting my right shoulder (and so far, it isn't working.)