Tuesday, April 28, 2015


As Indonesia executes members of the so-called Bali Nine drug smuggling ring by firing squad, I sit here and ask myself about capital punishment.

What I'm going to say isn't going to be popular in some quarters, but I'm going to say it, and damn you all for thinking otherwise.

Capital punishment is wrong.

You might say "Well, they knew the penalties for drug smuggling" or the plain old canard "They deserved it", but I held that view right up to the moment I saw a car thief die with a broken neck in my front garden, heard the despairing screams of his sister, and heard people over the following days say how much he deserved to die. For stealing an Austin Maestro, for the love of humanity.

I'll say this in the bluntest possible way: All lives matter. Yes, even killers and drug smugglers. That doesn't mean I'm standing up for killers and drug smugglers as some sort of hug-a-hoodie woolly liberal. As far as I'm concerned, you can lock them up for a very long time, because killers and drug smugglers need to be kept away from society until society deems them fit for release.

Now, this isn't some privileged middle-class whine because a foreign government has killed some people from a friendly first world nation. Countries all over the world enact fatal state revenge for their criminals, from the barbarity of winching up homosexuals on a crane until they are strangled to death in Iran, to the botched drug executions in the (ahem) civilised United States. Some countries kill you for denouncing their leaders. Other countries will kill you for blasphemy. We still live in a world where thought crime is a death sentence.

You know what happens when countries have the death penalty for crimes less than murder? Dead rape victims. Dead witnesses. The gallows or the firing squad is no deterrent to a desperate person.

The mark of a nation is how it treats its criminals. Killing them is not the answer. But this isn't a perfect world. It's full of terrible people - cut-throats, terrorists, murderous drug cartels who do terrible things. But if we sink to their level, we are joining them there.

I'm proud to live in a country where the number one human right exists for all humans: The right to life.

Join Amnesty.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Taiwan Square Head Dog Thing

So, there's this bizarre fashion where pet owners in Taiwan are getting their dogs groomed so that their heads are perfectly round or square.

Can't think where they get it from.

"Q E bloody D," as my maths teacher used to say.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"So, flowers in Volkswagen Beetles. What's that all about?"

"So, flowers in Volkswagen Beetles. What's that all about?", a question I might ask if I was still doing stand-up, which I'm not. Also, there's not a lot of funny material you can add after that, but it's something that annoys me for no other reason that I hate cute things like flowers in Volkswagen Beetles.

I've not got a great deal of love for the new Beetle. It's nothing like the old Nazi classic, built and sold by Nazis as a symbol of Nazism in an age of Nazi expansion. Nazis. The new version is a big, luxurious impersonation of the Nazi Beetle, and – to the horror of classic Nazi car lovers – they stuck the engine at the front instead of the back. It is, in fact, a VW Golf with a different-shaped body and a flower holder by the steering wheel.

What's that all about?

You'll probably see one today, unless you live in a country that has banned cars that are based on Nazi classics, and there's a 95% chance it will have a bloody great artificial flower jammed in the blumenvasen supplied for said purpose.

I've taken the opportunity to find out why the vase exists, and what motivates people to drive around like they're Morrissey on his way home from filling up at his local Tesco petrol station, and there seem to be many theories.

  • To appeal to female drivers (True, it turned out 60% of VW Beetle drivers are female, so they removed the flower holder in later models)
  • To appeal to male drivers who like artificial flowers and hate to see one of the car's extras go to waste
  • To add some hippy "flower power", an echo from the 1960s when the beautiful people drove Nazi Beetles
  • To commemorate Nazi death camp victims (way to make me feel guilty, random discussion forum poster, even if you did end your post with the word "LOL")

In fact, blumenvasen have been a thing almost as long as there have been cars. If there's one explanation that appeals to an ageing cynic such as myself, it's that they exist "to mask the smell of the chauffeur".

However, there is one which – to me –holds the most water. It's to annoy those of us who hate cute things like flowers in Volkswagen Beetles. Also, people who are always right all along. Damn you Volkswagen Beetle Flowers.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The best picture of my daughter firing a handgun you'll see today

For in truth, tis the only one.

Hazel's currently on a Route 66 tour as part of her university field trip. Done Vegas, done the desert, done a bunch of American road-side attractions, exercised her 2nd Amendment rights.

Of course, she'd never shoot the bollocks off a fly from 300 yards like her old dad in his prime, but Proud Dad Is Proud.

(And Say No To Guns, kids. The best place for firearms is pointing down a range).

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Grimes - Oblivion

One of those "This has been out for three years, how come I've never heard it before?" moments.

Cash money spent on the long-player.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

All roads lead to Heathrow

Taken at 6.15 in the morning, one to keep the chemtrail conspiracy theorists busy.

Actually, it's the friendly bombs falling on Slough, at last.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

All hail our giant duck overlords!

Sunday afternoon to Hartley Wintney, where we tramped around the common, and found this giant carved duck which we immediately worshipped.

I, for one, welcome our giant duck overlords.

Then, with a tilt of the head, we realise that it's not a duck at all, but a rabbit, planted in the North Hampshire countryside specifically to shit us up and knock duck worshipers about a bit for their errant duck-worshpping ways.

I, for one, welcome our giant rabbit overlords.

We're definitely on the side of the giant rabbits. Or the ducks. Not sure. But this can only end one way...

Monday, April 13, 2015

The James Bond Paradox

Goldfinger: Good, solid socialist Bond
It is a widely-held belief that popular music is only ever any good under a Conservative government. The thinking is that music is only ever any good when it's angry and has something to lash out at, and the People's Poets of this world are best motivated by a bourgoisie-worker power struggle as set out in the works of Marx and Engels.

This is what I said on the subject last week and I stand by those words:

"As soon as Tony Blair showed up in 1997, Britpop went down the shitter to be replaced by Steps and the Spice Girls, all the proof you need."

That's as maybe, but I have another proposition for you, and it is this:

You only get decent James Bond films under a Labour government.

Let's get this flimsy argument off the ground by looking at the evidence:

  • Goldfinger (Labour) - GOOD
  • You Only Live Twice (Labour) - A CLASSIC
  • Diamonds Are Forever (Conservative) - TURKEY
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (Labour) - BACK ON FORM
  • For Your Eyes Only (Conservative) - AAARGH
  • Octopussy (Conservative) - AAARGH
  • A View To A Kill (Conservative) - MAKE IT STOP
  • Die Another Day (Labour) - CRAP
  • Casino Royal (Labour) - BACK ON FORM
  • Skyfall (Conservative/Lib Dem coalition) - UTTER DOG'S DINNER
Octopussy: Crowds were drawn in by the promise of Roger Moore's freakishly long legs
You will note that Die Another Day, while made under a Labour government, is listed as "CRAP". That may be true, but it was made under post-9/11 Tony Blair, when he was more Tory than the Tory party, which bent the universe out of shape and gave us a shit Labour Bond movie. This was rectified with the release of Casino Royale, which while still under Blair was made good by the expectation of incoming Gordon Brown.

Secondly, you will note that the only Bond film made under the present Conservative - Lib Dem coalition is a complete dog's dinner of a film. This is what you can come to expect from coalition politics. Shit Bond.

Skyfall: The paradox of a great Bond in a duff movie. That's coalition politics for you
This brings us to the spectre of SPECTRE. While being filmed under the Tory-LD coalition, its release will come under whoever next makes it into Number Ten. If rumours surrounding the script are anything to go by, then David Cameron has no worries about the result for May's General Election.

But this poses one question for every single registered voter in this country. Do you want decent music, or do you want decent Bond films? This is clearly going to be the most important General Election of our generation.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Kim Kardashian comes out as "I am a kind shark" which is nowhere near as good.

No other celebrities have anagrams of their names. Don't bother trying to prove me wrong.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Farnborough Airship Hangar

I've decided that there aren't nearly enough photographs of the Farnborough Portable Airship Hangar on the internet, so last night I went out and took some.

[Click on any picture to embiggen]
The portable hangar (as its name implies, it was designed to take anywhere to house airships and was covered in a mass of tarpaulin when in use) was built in 1912, just four years after the American Samuel Cody made the first British powered flight at Farnborough. The airships are gone now, and the airfield is generally used as a stopping-off point for business flights and the insanely rich. Oh, and every two years it becomes that well-known arms fair, Farnborough Airshow.

The hangar has been in on a number of sites on the historic airfield, and at present rests just outside the perimeter fence in the middle of an upmarket technology park. It's lit up at night, so may be worth risking the security guards and taking a visit once the sun's gone down.

More pictures HERE

Thursday, April 09, 2015

The search for all killer, no filler

 It has suddenly struck me that all the albums that I class "All killer, no filler" (ie contain not a single duff track in their entire running order) are all male-fronted indie guitar bands from the early 1990s. See for yourself:

  • Radiohead - The Bends
  • Suede - Dog Man Star
  • Blur - Parklife
  • Ride - Going Blank Again
  • Boo Radleys - Giant Steps

I've been told off about the lack of female-front bands in my collection, and this will be rectified in a small way when Belly 'Star' thuds onto my doormat later this week, a female-fronted indie guitar band from the early 1990s. But the truth remains, there was a blessed window in my late 20s when I Quite Liked Music With Guitars In.

All this musical perfection bursting forth from this period of time tells us one thing - you only get decent music under a Tory government. As soon as Tony Blair showed up in 1997, Britpop went down the shitter to be replaced by Steps and the Spice Girls, all the proof you need. My current favourites - Public Service Broadcasting - could only have emerged under Conservative rule, and they are a male-fronted indie banjo band from the early 2010s.

So, I'm going to wax lyrical about the best of these albums:

Teenage Fanclub - Grand Prix

I listened to it all the way through in the car the other day, waiting for the dip somewhere on side two when the duff tracks start. All albums have this - the moment where the band realise they've got an album to finish and they've already laid down their best material, but they've still got about fifteen minutes to fill. This doesn't happen in Grand Prix, because (as the crueller critics say) they used up all the duffers on their previous album Thirteen.

Instead, a tad over 42 minutes of superbly-constructed pop music from the very pinnacle of male-fronted indie guitar bands from the early 1990s, and the impossible task of nailing down a favourite.

So many great tracks to choose from. By the power of ip-dip-dog-shit, I choose Sparky's Dream, which *just* dented the top 40 in 1995, because the British public are a bunch of cloth-eared idiots.

Any more suggestions for all-killer albums I should know about? They don't have to be male-fronted indie guitar bands from the early 1990s, but it helps.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Help me choose a new Silver Hornet

I've had the current Silver Hornet (otherwise known as the Fail Whale) for five years, and now it's time to get a new set of wheels.

It was only meant to be a stop-gap purchase after the previous Silver Hornet (a Renault Scenic that was one of the two Silver Hornets to be actually silver) decided to kill itself at the Winchester Services on the M3. The Micra, despite its appalling styling, has been reliable; frighteningly fast up to 50mph, then like a turd on wheels; and I've put over 60,000 miles on the clock. But it lacks basic comforts, like power steering, an electrical socket, and air conditioning. Time to come into the 21st Century.

Our budget doesn't stretch as far as a new car, so we're looking at something decent and second hand. Four/five doors and not a fucking Vauxhall for a Ford Focus.

To give you some idea of what happens when I'm left to choose my own cars, here is my car history which would have got me laughed off Top Gear:

The Coleman List of Silver Hornets (Mostly RIP)

  • Renault 4
  • Austin Allegro Equipe
  • Fiat Strada
  • Peugeot 205
  • Renault 21
  • Ford Escort
  • Renault Scenic
  • Nissan Micra

Yes, our family likes Renaults, and I can't stop myself buying shit cars because they're cheap.

However, I'm also more than aware that I have no clue what kind of car I actually want. Help me out here.

Monday, April 06, 2015

All the Problems I Have With Fast And Furious 7

It's got The Rock in it, playing The Rock
Saturday night to the flicks to see Fast and Furious 7: A tale of revenge versus familial bonding through the medium of very fast cars. Not expecting a Dostoyevskian exploration of crime and punishment (Who are the criminals here? Does the punishment fit the crime? What are split differentials?), I left my brain at the door, and despite drooling into my ice cream, I still had enough IQ to challenge some of the key plot points.

Now, the plot is as transparent as a politician's election promise, but the key point is that Jason Statham (henceforward 'The Stathe') plays a rock-hard Cockney bastard ex-special forces killing machine, who would rip you testicles out through your throat while calling you "Geezer". He employs a force of Nigerian terrorists (yes, very topical), whose sole mission is to look angry while providing the usual highly inaccurate shooting only practised by the very best henchmen trained at The Imperial Empire School of Marksmanship. His motivation is to get revenge on Mr Vin Diesel and the crew for putting his brother in hospital at the end of FF6, illustrated by The Stathe shooting up the hospital and killing everybody inside to make sure that they look after his brother. No, I don't get it, either.

While the film essentially involves the usual car-based heist on a very, very long road; followed by the usual Oceans Eleven-type con and unlikely escape; followed by a climactic car-chase/shoot-out that has served well for seven films now, one cannot help thinking that - while you are supposed to detach yourself from reality - the writers were making it up as they go along.

And that's why I've got a few problems with even this most ridiculous of motion pictures. May contain SPOILERS, but only if you're an idiot.

1. On two occasions, Mr Vincent Diesel has The Stathe unarmed and at his mercy with gun(s) pointing at his head. Instead of shooting this unstoppable rock-hard Cockney bastard killing machine in the face and bringing an end to this nonsense, they decide to stop and talk, predicatably allowing The Stathe to escape thanks to the sudden appearance of his heavily-armed goons. On the second occasion Diesel throws away his gun and his tactical advantage and decides to have a fist-fight with this unstoppable rock-hard Cockney bastard killing machine instead, which nearly kills him. You're an idiot, Vin Diesel.

2. The fighting method of choice of both Mr Vincent Diesel and The Stathe is to drive their enormously souped-up cars at each other at breakneck speed and crash into each other head-on. Sod it, I did A-Level physics AND Applied Mathematics, and know full well that - air-bag or no - two tons of metal and no-necked bufoon colliding at around 150mph will kill you stone dead on the spot, the engine block not stopped by something as puny as human legs as it comes roaring through the front bulkhead. You're an idiot Vin Diesel.

3. I've no problem at all with jumping-a-supercar-between-three-skyscrapers sequence while escaping both The Stathe and a completely different set of armed goons. Could happen anywhere. It's the only way you can get a parking space in Basingstoke on some days.

Walker: Gets a happy, hokey ending. People cried.
And there's the lesson we take away from all this: The only way to solve the world's problems is through breaking every traffic and criminal law in the book and drive very very very fast while shooting at each other. This includes curing your grilfriend's amnesia.

A thoroughly idiotic way to spend a Saturday evening. Highly recommended.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Public Service Broadcasting - Valentina (Featuring Smoke Fairies)

Those very fine Public Service Broadcasting chaps go somewhat off-piste and give us an actual song. A song about the first woman in space, and it is quite wonderful.

Friday, April 03, 2015


"You wouldn't do something like this mocking Islam, would you?"

Damn right I wouldn't. But Jesus is a Prophet of Allah, so your argument is invalid. As is mine.