Saturday, 29 October 2011

Επέτειος του «'Οχι»

Another year goes by and it's Ohi Day again (yesterday) when the Greeks celebrate President Metaxas telling Mussolini in 1940 to take his spaghetti with meatballs and put it where the sun don't shine. Sadly, it did them no good; Mussolini invaded anyway and thus brought Greece into World War Two, with a subsequent invasion by the Germans after the Italians went soft. These doingses prompted the Communists to organise as part of the resisitance, supported by the Allies. But when it was all over, the Allies wanted the non-Communists in power so a civil war followed. Then things got really messy, what with the Cold War, Turkey sticking it's oar in and Henry Kissinger creating unrest all round, in cahoots with the Military Junta. After that all calmed down (a bit). There followed a series of ineffectual governments of either ilk but all equally corrupt, presiding over a lackadaisical and tax-fiddling population, and here we are.  So the marching bands have been out and about, parading along the promenade, and the Mayor has given a speech, and everyone has waved a flag. And people have had a day off work. It all seems a bit irrelevant, what with one thing and another.

Friday, 28 October 2011


Last June, we had a ramp and metal gate installed for the back yard to facilitate the parking of the redoubtable motor car 'Bertie'. This operation cost us several hundred Euros and the job was satisfactorily done but what they didn't tell us was the gate would not be painted. So it has inevitably fallen to me to do said painting on this trip. A bit fiddly and time consuming; working with metallic paint being a new experience for me. It's more kind of glutenous than ordinary gloss. Any road up, here's the gate all black and shiny. I'll probably apply another coat of paint before we leave, seeing as the winter is approaching.


Set aside an hour and a half sometime over the weekend and watch this documentary, produced by Clint Eastwood, about Thelonious Monk. Your life will improve.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Schadenfreude Vol.39 & Vol.40

I don't generally take pleasure in the misfortunes of others, but there are exceptions. For example, Manchester United deserve to have things go wrong from time to time because they always expect everything to go right all the time. So it was rewarding to watch them lose by such an embarasssing margin last weekend to Manchester City, especially as the result came about not just because City played well but also because United were rubbish. It's not often they just collapse completely as they did in the last quarter of an hour.
David Cameron, however, is a vacuous twit and deserves to have everything go as wrong as possible all the time, so the post-modern irony of him having to deny the rabid section of the Conservative Party a referendum on membership of the EU was very enjoyable indeed. His inner squirmings must have been terrible, having waffled on in the past with such contrived outrage about the lack of a referendum only to find now that he has to accept that such a refrendum would be not just pointless but counter-productive. And he had to use a three-line whip to enforce his will on MPs whose demands he had previously endorsed- which 81 of them defied. Brilliant.

About Time!

Who knows if it is going to make any long-term difference to the fate of the globalised economy but it is refreshing at least to see that under the terms of the Eurozone rescue agreement, 'The Banks' are to write off 50% of the money owed to them by Greece. At last, the bastards who've been profiting by screwing up the financial system will have to suffer, if only at the margins. Now what is needed is for the Greeks generally to stop fiddling their taxes - which has been their way of life for years and has contributed to their deficit. And, presumably, the EU will make sure that the Greek government no longer cooks the books.
No doubt, the banks will try to recoup their losses by some devious means or other so vigilance is the word!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Funk Assessment #273: Sam Cooke - Shake

You're probably more familiar with the Otis Redding version of this tune but, believe it or not, I think the original by Sam Cooke is actually more funky than Otis'. Accuse me of heresy if you like, but Sam takes it at a slightly more relaxed, looser tempo and the the brass section works better, kind of more homogenous. But the killer blow is the additional guitar which goes off the beat just before the fourth beat of the bar and the way this counteracts with the drums. Groovy. What both have in common however is the rhythm guitar chunking away throughout. Full info over here.

Lot 233 - John Lennon's Tooth

If you are a Beatles fan and a practitioner of somatic cell nuclear transfer, get yourself down to Meadow Mill, Water St, Stockport, SK1 2BX on Saturday 5th November 2011 when Omega Auctions will be selling:
JOHN LENNON TOOTH – this truly unique piece of memorabilia, a tooth of John Lennon’s, was given to his housekeeper, Dorothy (Dot) Jarlett during her employment as housekeeper at his Kenwood home in Weybridge, Surrey. Dot was employed at Kenwood approximately between 1964 and 1968. John had a warm relationship with Dot and her family, often referring to her as ”Aunty Dot” and even naming his dog Bernard after Dot’s husband. John was to give many gifts to Dot and her family over the years, some of which have previously been sold by the family through Sotheby’s. The tooth, being such a rare item has been kept in the family until now and comes with a sworn legal affidavit by Dot Jarlett attesting to the authenticity.
With just a little patience and some willing live human volunteers, you could create a clone of John Lennon from the period when he was at his creative peak, and before he hooked up with Yoko. Sounds like a plan, eh Igor?


Just in case you've forgotten, today is the end of the world according to the estimable Harold Camping. He had thought it would be May 21st but when it wasn't, he revised his prophesy to explain that that was when God began judging, which would take five months. The five months finishes today so your number is up - unless you are one of the Chosen who gets raptured up to Heaven (or something like that). More details available at Camping's website. Camping reassures us that the Unchosen will not suffer unduly so you Chosen ones need not worry about the rest of us weeping and wailing and gnashing our teeth.

Thursday, 20 October 2011


(From  Futility Closet)
In 1960, Cambridge graduate Ron Hall announced a discovery he called Hall’s Law: “For any sufficiently large group of people the average number of initials possessed by members of that group is a direct measure of the predominant social class of the group.”
Hall’s computer analysis of the English aristocracy found that dukes averaged four names apiece, marquesses 3.96, earls 3.92, barons 3.53, baronets 3.49, viscounts 3.41, and knights 3.06. As modern examples he named John Selwyn Brooke Lloyd and Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell; those from the past included Admiral the Honorable Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunket-Ernle-Erle-Drax, a commodore of convoys during World War II, and Major Tollemache-Tollemache de Orellana Plantagenet Tollemache-Tollemache, who was killed in World War I.
From across the sea, an American newspaper observed, “It would be interesting to know what the worthy major’s parents called him in his boyhood years.”.
With only three names, it would seem I fall below the status of Knight. But there are certain relations of mine whose parents seem to have delusions of grandeur. The poor blighters have been given five names despite merely being middle class and not at all ennobled...


Imagine you are the Managing Director of a company that manufactures and sells cheese crackers. During the course of business you meet suppliers and customers, travelling overseas, identifying markets, negotiating deals, and so forth. For no apparent reason you decide to take an old friend of yours along to some of these meetings, cheese cracker conventions and the like. This friend of yours is not an employee of the company but he has his own business cards bearing the company logo claiming he's an 'adviser', and he spends a lot of time in your office. By a series of amazing coincidences he also turns up at other cheese cracker marketing events where you happen to be. Nobody really knows why he's there but your suppliers and customers can see you are 'close' so go along with it. It's all a bit unclear who is funding this frend of yours but he seems to have some kind of link to a shady organisation set up to promote Anglo/USA relations (whether concerned with crackers or not). Meanwhile, this friend of yours, who has absolutely no knowledge or experience of the cheese cracker business, has done nothing of any benefit to your company.
It wouldn't happen, would it? The other directors would be asking who is this fellow; the CEO would be wondering what's going on, and your shareholders would be puzzled. But to Liam Fox, former Secretary of State for Defence, the idea was quite unremarkable and he ignored all advice to the contrary. Crackers.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Chickenshed: The Rain That Washes

An evening excursion yesterday to the Chickenshed Theatre for a performance of The Rain That Washes, a one-man show about the independence struggle in Zimbabwe. Written by Dave Carey, based on the experiences of Christopher Paphose, the play covers the story from the time of Ian Smith and UDI up to Mugabe's treacherous takeover and imposition of his authoritarian and oppressive regime.
Ashley Maynard excels in performing this demanding multiple-role piece, swapping between characters convincingly and never missing a beat. It is very well-written and directed, keeping the attention at all times, and covers a lot of ground without dwelling on any particular aspect of the sorry tale of Zimbabwe's transition from colonization to tyranny. Hope, innocence and inspiration falling into disillusionment and brutality is subtly portrayed without becoming preachy and self-righteous. Recommended!
Last chance to see on Saturday 8 October.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Todd Rundgren at the Jazz Cafe

Here we see some more stars of show biz performing on a stage formerly trod by our Phil who was there a little while ago playing drums for Acer Maple.  (You can see our hero in the background of the Acer Maple photo.)
On this occasion, however, we were at the Jazz Cafe to see one of the world's greatest beings - Mr Todd Rundgren.
Wonderful. Despite being billed as 'An Evening with...and Special Guests' it was in fact Todd and his band of the last several years comprising Prairie Prince on drums, Kasim Sulton on bass, Jesse Gress on guitar, and new boy John Ferenzick on keyboards. All except Praire provided backing vocals. It wasn't exactly a 'Greatest Hits' occasion, but Todd played stuff from throughout his fine career, some of which was rearranged a tad. Todd did most of the gig just on vocals, occasionally playing guitar and whipping out a flash solo. Todd's voice is fantastic, as strong as ever despite his 45 or so years on the road. He was in fine wise-cracking  form, and jumped about a fair bit for a man of his years. He did sit down for the 'quiet' bit of the show, however. An extra treat was a cover of Marvin Gaye's 'I Want You'. Spiffing. 
The full set list can be found at and Todd, of course, has a myspace page.
Five stars, but the Jazz Cafe really should upgrade the toilets.