Monday, March 28, 2011

The US of Crazy, Drooper and a Didgeridoo

Howdy Smokestacks,

This week, the lum has been in the US of A.

I love America, and Americans funny enough, well the ones that don't appear on the news anyway. American news is the dumbest most inane sensational bunkum, to use an old Jimmy Sandison word. What about this run of headlines I noticed blaring out from the hysterically screaming red ticker one morning.

Japans nuclear melt down disaster, Downed US plane in Libya, Linda Carter digs new Wonder Woman costume, Donald Trump on Qaddafi.

How many political celebrities and veteran world affair commentators have been gone through before you arrive at Donald Trump and who's up next? Banana Splits Drooper, live from Camp David and Steve Austin really likes new prosthetic limbs, "there such good value".

I was staying in Burlington, just North West of Boston. Burlington is a fairly typical US town I think, made up of roads for cars, places to park your car and big warehouse type shops with names like Casual Men XL and Big Bobs Golf Bonanza.
My hotel was the bargain bucket Candlewood Suites. Suites, in the accommodation evolutionary chain, is one step up from trailer. It is the kind of place you will have seen featured in Cheaters, or starring in a grisly murder scene investigation in CSI.

Full of travelling salesman, jobbing tradesman and evicted families. The rooms to be honest were clean and a fair size but were furnished about 25 years ago. It could have been one of those museum exhibits, step back in time in the 80s motel ride. It had a VHS player for a start, and an 18in wide screen microwave plus you don't get the use of a sharps bin often when staying overnight at the Premier Inn. The air-conditioning unit sounded like some mad experiment, deep down in the Dyson labs, where 15 bagless vacums have been strapped together to try and create a dimension splitting cyclone. Still, Americas great.

I had one night in Boston before flying home and landed in a genuine hotel where the rooms had bathrooms with doors and no cooking facilities so the lobbies didn't smell of Quesadillas.

It was right opposite Massachusetts General Hospital. Nice place with a good location in the old part of town but given most people staying there had gravelly ill relatives in the wards across the road, its not exactly party central.

Before my flight home I had time for a wander around down town Boston, I had been before so knew my way around a little but still ended up in Chinatown. Now, when you say Chinatown in San Fran, New York or even London you think colourful restaurants, hanging lanterns and dragon statues, there is not much of that in Boston Chinatown, its mostly homeless Vietnamese scratching a living from fag ends and scraggy looking shops selling all kinds of crap. And a load of crazies.

Nobody does crazies like the States. One guy I passed was just bent over, legs straight, bent right over at the waist staring intently at the floor as if he was waiting for some tiny concrete coloured bug to move so he could squash it before it ran off with all his secrets, or another old guy just randomly stopping in the street and shouting at the top of his voice how it didn't matter and we'll all be OK just as long as we said sorry.

On the flight out of London I got upgraded to Business Class with BA, which was sweet, but without sounding ungrateful, I really could have been doing with it on the night flight back. Instead I was away up the back with a family of overweight middle Americans wedged in the seats behind me which made me feel bad about reclining my seat. The little lady in front of me however had no such qualms and whipped her seat back as far as it would go as soon as we had taken off. This meant I was effectively pinned to my seat but did have the benefit of giving the little 6 inch movie screen a big cinematic wide-screen effect because of the fact it was only about 4 inches from the end of my nose. I was glad to get off that plane, only slightly jealous of the business class passengers who all looked like people you might see standing in a hotel car park at 3 in the morning after the fire alarm has went off. Hair all over the place, baggy eyes and no make up on, quite a sight for my sore bloodshot sleep deprived eyes.

I Saw a busker with a didgeridoo the other day at Stratford station, it struck me as being the single most stupid, inconvenient and joyless choice of busking instrument. It doesn’t make music, it amplifies the raspberry's you blow down it, rearranging them only slightly to give the slightest hint of a rhythm, it was about 10 feet long and looked a heavy thing too, in fact, there was another shifty looking dirty bloke hanging around him, theres no chance he was there to appreciate the bombination, I reckon he was there to help him carry it home. Which means the instrument half as appealing as even a wobble board or the bagpipes to an Englishman has to make double the money to make it worthwhile. Revisit your business plan you didgerydope.

In London you see lots of people that look like they might come from Japan, and these last few weeks with all the trouble at home I've felt incredibly sorry for them. What happened and the images they shared with us were almost unbelievable but what it confirmed for me is, we really are just ants on the surface of this rock, absolutely at the mercy of nature and the physics of universe we are spinning through. No God, no anything else, no aliens, well, there probably is but they will undoubtedly be so far away we will never hear from them, or them from us, and nothing but the planet, mother nature, and the land, sea and sky. Its simple really, I don't know why anyone needs more than that.

Lang may yer lum reek.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bad phone day

Good evening Lums, actually, when does evening become morning its 20minutes after midnight, it seems too early to say good morning, good night sounds like I'm retiring to bed with my candle and Willie Winkie cap?

I have seriously fallen out of love with my HTC Desire Android mobile phone.

Its taken almost exactly a year. It hasn't been a sudden fracture, its been building. I've grown increasingly unhappy with its behaviour and its fickle attitude. It has shown me a side of it I couldn't have imagined during the months long honeymoon period even when it was leaving my stranded at midnight with no way home, but now I'm exasperated, lets list.

Unavailable data feeds, it is always claiming Facebook is unplugged or something, I mean , come on?

Unreliable memory card, which is a pain if you see something you want to take a picture of, but the memory card has went AWOL, even though I know its right where it should be, its just lazy. The Virgin Network is feeble, how is it I see loads of folk happily phoning, texting and tweetering on the tube with their bloody i-hypes but as soon as I walk under the bough of a tree or into a shadow I lose any signal, pathetic. About a week ago it gave up synching with my Gmail account, meaning I cant see my busy social diary, I've missed so many champagne receptions and Gok Wan parties as a result, no , not really, but I could have. I thought if I just deleted my account and loaded it again, that would sort that, its a favoured technique of the IT professional, but it wont let me without returning the phone to just out the box status. I cant access Twitter, actually I cant remember my password but this phone should have anticipated that and Friend Stream has stopped streaming, seriously compromising my 24/7 connectivity with the brotherhood of man.

Bloody Steve Jobs and his glittery shiny things, I'm beginning to covet them.

I was at a seminar today, an invite came winging my way because of the job I'm doing, you know, the big sports day in a couple of years. Why don't they have an Olympic egg and spoon race anyway, a three-legged egg and spoon race, over 400 metres, that would be good wouldn't it? I had an idea after watching The Biggest Loser for The Obesity Games, where only morbidly fat folk would compete in all the Olympic sports. The Americans would love that, hoovering up all the medals, we could make them chocolate ones to get them to try harder.

It was full of boffins and as one speaker described a couple of delegates, information security rock stars. They didn't look like rock stars.

There really is nothing funnier than technical geeky boffins being funny, well, when I say that, I probably mean unfunnier, forget the probably, I definitely do mean unfunny, sorry, that should be UNFUNNY!!

I heard the same in-joke 3 times in 3 separate presentations, strap yourself in, here it comes...Les Rogge, the famous (??? I'd never heard of him) Gentleman Bank Robber when arrested was asked why he had resorted to robbing banks (cue, 2 second pause to set up the punch-line) he replied (another, shorter pause) "Because that's where the money was". A polite "ahem" as somebody cleared their throat, it might have been me and a very gentle sonic wave of appreciation that presented itself as a kind of collective sigh. And that was the first time we heard it.

But, I tell you what, these guys love their stuff, the technical kernel sized granularity of networks and computering. For someone like me, that wonders why electricity doesn't leak all over the floor when I unplug something, its a bit confusing. In fact, I think I may have audio-dyslexia. I can see their lips moving, and it sounds like English, but all I hear is BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

I did hear one fella though, and this is class, maybe he had a bet on with his pals to say it or something, but when highlighting an oversight of the organisers in some minor trifling matter, he called it a , this is brilliant, a cognitive discombobulation. Another highlight was a guy from Interpol or somewhere making a point by splitting a great big bag of rice with a Stanley knife, spilling slippy slidey basmati rice all over the stage, those crazhy Dutschhh.

Lang May Yer Lum Reek.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A King and The Flowers

Lums o the world, lets be serious for a moment.

I watched When We Were Kings this weekend. If you haven't seen it, let me give you a bit of background.
Its a documentary filmed around the George Foreman-Muhammad Ali world heavyweight boxing fight in Zaire in 1974, the famous Rumble in the Jungle. It has testament from the key players, the journalists, the trainers, fly on the wall access to the promoters, Foreman and of course the incomparable Muhammad Ali. Its an insight into the world of the day, the fashion and music, its amazing what good nick Kinshasa looks like its in and how clean and healthy everybody looks there, its only 8 years after independence right enough, Mobutu would take another 20 odd years to strip the country back to the stone-age.

But this is all about Ali. He was the first sportsman, maybe even the first personality I remember being aware of as a child and to see and hear him in this, in all his blustering glory is a joy. He is simply an unbelievable man, a sky scraping monument to self-belief, defiance, courage and beautiful talent. When he moves you cant help but watch him, he skips and shuffles like a ballet dancer, when he speaks, you listen and cant help but smile.

He either pours out heavenly rhyming bravado or the most incisive social comment. He talks of racial equality, social justice and "getting it on, because we don't get along" . He was the sharpest tack in the box, when one reporter, talking of the power of Foreman in his sparring matches said to Ali " I saw Foreman just yesterday..." and before he could finish, Ali says, "Ain't he ugly" reducing the entourage and gathered reporters to laughter. You cant not love the man, for his humour, his style, the bravery not only to climb in the ring with the most brutal fighters ever, but to stand faithfully and unwaveringly for his beliefs against the government and the orthodox white society of the deep south. He told everyone that he was the greatest and he was, and still is.

This week marked the 15th anniversary of the Dunblane Primary School shootings.

That was my school, my son went there and my nieces and nephews, some of them were in class 15 years ago. Every year I mark it in some personal way that means something to me and allows me to feel a little connected with all those that were affected that day. Its not something I think about doing, or even feel obliged to , its just on the days leading up to it you feel compelled to do something. So, on Sunday I woke at 8am and felt compelled to go and look for a snowdrop and take a picture.

The snowdrop was the little spring flower that came to symbolise the disaster and the appeal that it inspired. Snowdrops, I didn't think would be easy to find in East London so I kitted myself out like I was going on some endless quest to the furthest corners of the earth and struck off for Greenwich Park. It turns out snowdrops are not easy to locate even in a Royal Park, it took me about 3 hours to find a little clump, sheltering under a tree and trying to look coy among the infant crocuses. But the job was done for another year, I thought a bit, reflected and had a good walk in the fresh morning air, moistened with the finest of drizzle.

I had a knot in my stomach for weeks after that day, I would discretely well up for months and can honestly say that a day did not go past for many years when at least one thought, however fleeting would flash, or dally across my mind. And I didn't lose anyone, only a little history, memories of primary school somehow erased by the horror that occurred long after I had ran through the halls and playgrounds. I had only lost a piece of past, not my future as some parents had. Everyone at the school gates that morning probably felt relief when they learned it was not their child's class, I did, but it was the briefest of emotions, perhaps only lasting a second before being immediately drowned by the wails of anguish and unbridled grief of the families that were suffering, then all I felt was sick with sorrow. It was, and remains the worst day of my life, and as I said, it barely touched me. I hope I don't offend anyone writing about this, I know my old school class mates will have emotions around this week, some very acute because of personal loss, but those snowdrops come back every year and when they do, I think of us.

Lang may yer lum reek.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lions and tigers and bears

Hello again Reekers,

I shook a very sweaty hand today, never a pleasant experience but its taken me all day to think of a suitable metaphor that ably summed up how it felt. I perhaps should qualify why it was sweaty in the first place, I like to think it was because of my intimidating managerial presence in this gentleman's Central London office, maybe my incisive inquisition and quite probably my unbending though totally reasonable demands all played a part in this perspiring palm that was offered to me as I was ushered out the building. As I said, the hot and clammy encounter had me desperately seeking for the words to describe it, like a drowning man might reach for a trawler mans outstretched arm, though perhaps not, if it felt like grasping a fistful of freshly cooked and drained spaghetti, which is the best I could come up with.

The One Show had our Primus Minesterious, David Cameron on tonight, and credit where credit is due, what a thoroughly pleasant souffle of a man he is. The coiffure, the boyish grin between those cherubic chubby cheeks, you don't even notice the strings making him work, amazing. Old mad dog Qaddafi I expect is hardly sleeping at night knowing he's got Cameron on his case.

Speaking of which, the old desert pox is digging his heels in and firmly standing up to public and international opinion, not like his blousey neighbours who were ordering the Chinook evacuation within hours, or at least a couple of days. He is a whacked out old loony, but would you bet against him hanging on in some way?

Anyhoo, the topic I really wanted to send up the lum tonight was rivalries. What got me a pondering this competitive conundrum was the sparky Celtic V Rangers cup game last week. Despite the obvious heat that comes from it, and they say you cant have heat without light, there is precious little illumination coming from this melee. I'm totally bored with the playground tribalism and faux religious posturing, its all bollocks basically. The irony being both clubs would only be half of what they are without each other, like some spiteful old married couple that despite the cruelty cant imagine being apart.

No, the rivalries I like are the ones the we can only speculate about, created in our heads like some mental, brilliant deck of top trumps. So, I can only imagine the excitement in the scientific community this week when one of those age old impossible rivalries finally declared a winner.

The venue Ankara Zoo, Turkey. The competitors, Lion Vs Tiger. The Big Cats, separated for for eons by the Indian Ocean, now brought together on the edge of Asia with only a flimsy chain link fence between them. Lion, I expect confident, what with their complex social structures and being top of the food chain in the wild game hypermarket that is the Serengeti Plains, and don't forget, the balls being reigning King of The Jungle must give you, even if you are a lionness. Tiger, with a point to prove, who made the lion king anyway, it doesn't even live in a jungle. In the end, it wasn't much of a contest, apparently Tiger tore out the Lions jugular vein with one right hook from a fist of claws, and that was that, settled.

That's what we want to see, real rivalries settled the way they should be, competing species could save millions of years of time evolving, just get together and have a dust up.

Wolf vs Hyena, would it be howls all round or a right good laugh?

How would an elephant get on against the more hirsute mammoth which may have the size advantage but its not very bright as is amply illustrated by its hapless extinction.

Finding a suitable venue for the battle of the animal intellectuals would be a challenge, chimpanzees not being the best of swimmers and dolphins being unhappy in trees, but still, these things need to be known.

How would a firm sturdy cabbage get on against the leafy dexterity of a lettuce. Orange vs banana, apple vs pear, the referee would probably stop that early because of excessive bruising, but until then, it would be like the Klitschko brothers scrapping.

Would fusillis spirals confuse the fancy dan farfalle enough for a technical knock out, who knows? perhaps we never will.

Qaddafi vs Rebels, too close too call that one but maybe the one we do really need to see is Jesus vs Allah, I have a feeling that bout would be like a scene from Me, Myself and Irene given that there probably the same fella. Speaking of JC, there was a Nigerian street preacher at the train station the other day. Sharply suited, mike and amp blasting out his calls to repent. All I heard though was " JEEEEZZZUSSS,.......JEEEEEEEEZZZZZUSSSSSSS........JEEEEZZZZZUSSSS CHRIST........JEEEEZUSSSS CHRIST the top of his voice for the 60 seconds it took me to get out of earshot, I didn't know if he was attracting disciples or had just stood on an upturned plug in his bare feet.

Finally, I watched a programme last night looking at something called re-wilding. This is where they reintroduce natural predators to an environment to control pests that have gotten out of control. So, wolves into Yellowstone to keep the bison numbers sensible, pumas into Florida to eat wild pigs, bears into the Italian Alps, well, I don't know what for and then we got to Montana. Now Montana apparently has a real problem with wild horses, they have so many in fact they probably could drag Susan Boyle away and the landscape cant sustain them, and then they starve, which isn't nice, but its still natural. Anyway, because Montana's horses have never had a natural predator so, the presenter explained how she had reached back in time to get inspiration. I thought oh no, they've done it, they have recreated a T-Rex and they're going to set them loose in the American wilderness, this wont end well.

I was a little premature however, and it wasn't a T-Rex, though I think the solution proposed is just a little less animal crackers, apparently they want to bring in some African lions. Helicopter them in, like Richard Burton's Wild Geese mercenaries, let them loose to sort the native horses out, then, well actually, there was no then. That's because the lions will all apply for Green Cards and get legitimate work in Hollywood films, Vegas magic acts or merge into the casual Mexican labour pool, working in safari parks and underground zoos. Have they thought this through?

Lang may yer lum reek.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Grand Old Duke of York, he had 10,000 inappropriate friends.

Hello Reekers,

I'm still transmitting from Lum Central, the revolting hordes have not stormed the winter palace gates just yet, no shots have yet been heard from the Potemkin, and Prince Andrew is still a towering tw@

Hold the phone, did you say twat? Yes I did.

Apparently The Duke of York is an obnoxious, arrogant, rude, nob of a man who travels the world being helicoptered on to golf clubs and schmoozing with Balkan mafia politicians and Arab dictators so that they will choose good old blighty to go shopping for their new fighter jets and land mines. Jeez, who knew?

Well, I think if we're honest, we all suspected he was a bit cocksure, by that I mean, we were sure he was a cock, but we were willing to forgive a little because of the Koo Stark memories and also the fact he's not Prince Edward. His wife is a liability right enough, but hey, he wasn't the first and certainly won't be the last to make an ill judged marriage proposal , and remember the gene pool he had to choose from, its very concentrated, therefore very thick.

Wikipeadia made it semi-official a couple of months ago, when those paragons of gentlemanly discretion and modesty, the Americans revealed, through an ambassador that had been exposed to The Dukes diplomatic skills, that he was rude, arrogant and by all accounts, thick as mince. I think they were probably jealous of his all round ability on those fronts.

Genocidal Slavic generals and absolute Arab monarchs are one thing, once you go buddying about with a extremely rich and influential paedophiles, it has to be the final piece of miners kit that gets the roo-a-bucking. Add the fact that his ex-wife, who I think is a registered charity in 180 countries, has been receiving some hand-outs from the old perv, I expect with The Prince's full knowledge, well, it all adds up to breeze blocks on the gravy train line. Its time for quiet withdrawal to a ridiculous country estate, preferably one of his mums (ours) and not one belonging too a Russian steel mill owning billionaire.

I pushed my own little boat out just a tad too far the other night.

An adhoc convergence of Olympic Security experts, and me, occurred in unfamiliar surroundings. Like the planets aligning, or the one night when old turtles crawl up the beach to lay there eggs, this was an event that only happens maybe a couple of times a month.
An unfamiliar pub because we all wanted to sit down after a day of Olympic herculean work efforts, and not be jostled by the 24 year old Barclay's bankers out enjoying their million pound bonus money and resulting jolly japery.

This stand-by venue had a more traditional feel, especially when it came to the beers on tap. No Peroni, the new sharp Italian, in the classy glass, pulled from an enormous, hard, eye-catching ceramic dildo shaped tap. What I like about Peroni is the fact it is either free of chemicals that cause me hangovers, or so full of anti-hang over chemicals that I almost never have one in the morning. Nope, I had to take a step back to pre-Peroni days and go with the Kronenbourg 1664. A fine, fruity beer I always thought, refreshing and fullsome and French.

Just like I will never visit France again because of the surly natives, third world toileting arrangements and believe it or not, the crappy food, so I will not be visiting Kronenbourg again.
I miraculously tottered home, but woke in the morning with a lot of bad Franco-noise going on in my head. There was a French Farmers blockade, burning veal calves and peasants driving muck spreaders down the boulevards, lorry drivers crawling down the A1 honking horns and smelling, Charles De Pompous Gaule stomping his fists and looking down his nose at me and the impassable Maginot line, being passed, in quite a fast and loose manner.
None of the good French things, like baguettes, just the noisy shitty stuff. Its Peroni for me from now on, until it makes me feel like Mussolini hanging by his ankles from a lamp post.

Lang may yer lum reek