Saturday, 31 December 2011

Well Done, Sherlock! #235

The Well Done, Sherlock! award on this occasion goes unusually to joint recipients and is awarded posthumously to The British Government of October 1952, led by the inimitable Sir Winston Churchill, and William Penney, mathematician and general all-round boffin, who was responsible for the development of British nuclear technology after World War II. Britain's nuclear weapons programme had been instituted some years beforehand and 1952 brought the occasion of Britain's first atmospheric test of a nuclear bomb. Something the Government was particularly concerned about was the effect that a nuclear bomb might have if one were to be brought surreptitiously on a ship into the River Thames in central London, and detonated. So William Penney came up with the idea of setting one off on a navy frigate in the Monte Bello islands of Australia to see what happened. This became known as Operation Hurricane.
They used a 25 kiloton plutonium implosion device and guess what? The ship was vapourised and the blast left a crater on the sea bed 6 metres deep and 300 metres across and we learned that letting off a nuclear bomb in central London would, generally speaking, be rather damaging. Duh! Well Done, Sherlock!

Friday, 23 December 2011


Available at all good newsagents:


A letter in today's Independent that pretty much sums it up:
The FSA think it wise now that bankers should ask for proof of earnings before granting a mortgage (report, 19 December). Lord Turner says it's time to end reckless borrowing. Surely, it's been reckless lending that's caused all the problems? Who in their right mind would grant a mortgage without checking the borrower's ability to repay?
The bankers in charge are, probably, some of the most incompetent individuals that this country has produced, individuals who have been paid immoral amounts of money, left their employment (some of them) with gold-plated pensions and share issues yet still have the cheek to complain that they will be forced to seek employment abroad. I say, good riddance and I'll join the queue to replace them.
When applying for my first mortgage in 1972, I could borrow only twice my annual salary. My wife's earnings were not even considered. Very sensible, because a lot of women at the time soon left to have children. Their jobs were not left open for them to return to in those days.
British taxpayers have to sit and watch their money being squandered on inflated salaries and bonuses while the majority of us have to make do with either a 2 per cent pay rise at most, or nothing at all. On top of this, they are now asked to work longer, pay more into their pension and get less when they retire. If they are lucky to enjoy any retirement. Of course, I'm forgetting; we are all in this together.
Andrew Cooper
Kimberley, Nottinghamshire

Thursday, 22 December 2011

You Missed It

On Sunday, the western world will be celebrating the Winter Solstice and the Birth of Jesus. Some gullible types in the Eastern world have adopted the practice as well. Fair enough, any excuse for a knees-up I suppose. The problem is though, you've missed it. As eny fule kno, yer man Jesus wasn't born on 25 December. The shepherds were watching their flocks by night up in the hills so it probably occurred in late spring or early autumn. At the end of December any self-respecting shepherd would have his sheep (and himself) in a big shed below the snow line where it's warmer, not below zero and not snowing. As for the Winter Solstice, well that was this morning at 5.30 am - a bit later than usual because it's a leap year next year.  In case you were wondering, the Winter Solstice is when the North Pole is furthest from the sun as a result of the earth tilting on its axis i.e. 23.5 degrees from t'vertical.
Australians, typically, are a bit mixed up. They've got lots of sheep but being in the antipodes today is their Summer Solstice which is when you are supposed be dancing round Stonehenge with a load of smelly new-age hippy twits. No doubt Bruce, Sheila and Kylie be cooking raw prawns and the like on the barbecue instead, a quaint custom which the descendants of yer original Winter Solstice celebrators reserve for rainy days in August resulting in half-cooked re-formed offal of various sorts. Whereas in Cyprus, every day is a day for a barbecue and pork is the preferred option, followed by lamb, chicken and octopus. The Cypriots, however, confuse themselves by using the wrong calendar and celebrating the birth of yer man a week or so later. But they do know about snow in the mountains in winter so the sheep are tucked up in a warm shed somewhere.
The Romans, of course, celebrated Saturnalia at this time. This festival will be taking place as usual at the Vatican and the Pope will be taking up a collection in between sacrificing the oxen and flaying the unrepentant virgins.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Sandwich Wonderizer

It seems that Americans eat something called Wonderbread. It's a mass-market lowest-common-denominator sort of product designed for making sandwiches, presumably because the bread itself is at best bland or at worst like blotting paper. Be that as it may, Wonderbread have helpfully put a virtual sandwhich making sandwich builder gizmo on their website so that you can figure out how nutritious or not your particular favourite might be.  Good fun. My designs tend to be high in fat seeing as I usually include bacon.

Song Map

Available from WeAreDorothy for £20 plus £3.95 postage, a lithoprint of a road map made up of song titles: from Highway to Hell to Penny Lane, Itchycoo Park to Heartbreak Hotel. 
(Click on the map to embiggify.)

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Notice to All Cats

That's it! Enough!
I have just spent a happy half hour or so clearing up various piles of cat shit from my back garden. Must have been several kilos worth, distributed randomly. Yecch, disgustomundo and other expletives.
Let it be henceforth known throughout this vicinity that in spite of the interweb tubes being festooned with pictures of adorable cats doing cute or clever things, I do not like cats crapping in my garden. I don't mind cats existing; just go and exist somewhere else, preferably all over the keyboard of your owner who thinks you are so flippin' adorable.
I have a selection of sharp and heavy objects by the back door. Should anything of the feline persuasion come anywhere within hurling range, whether innocently or not, one or more of these missiles will be aimed at it. There are no second chances. Death awaits you.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


I Used To Have Some Like That

Elvis Presley's old boots.
Apparently he wore these for his TV 'Comeback Special' in 1968. This was the legendary occasion when Elvis, after a dire five or six years making crap films with lousy music, got together in a TV studio with some of his old cronies and played some rock n' roll music dressed in black leather, with his hair longer and all greasy like. This went down well both in musical and presentational terms and revived the lad's career. But hopes for a regenerated Elvis were soon dashed to the ground. Sadly, he slipped back into degeneracy thanks to his manager's fixation with booking Elvis into doing seasons in Las Vegas for which the extremely naff white fringed costumes were devised and the music drifted into the middle of the road. Everyone made loadsamoney but the lad ended up a mere parody of himself. Ho Hum.
Any road up, Elvis' old boots have recently been sold at auction for $6,000 - a tidy sum just to get a sniff of the Great Man's foot odour.