Thursday, July 31, 2003
( 10:00 AM ) Spengy
HERE WE GO, HERE WE GO
And so began the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. History records 5,000 Englishmen, heavily outnumbered against 20,000 Frenchmen, won the day. The traditional view was that the victory was down to Henry's use of 4,000 longbows (the medieval superweapon of the time) that were able to rain down a wall of arrows upon the enemy.
This is apparently incorrect. According to a documentary last night on Channel 5 the English arrowheads could not possibly have pierced the French knights armour. They put forward several other theories.
Firstly the majority of the French army were noblemen who could afford the latest and best armour whereas the English were mainly commoners who could not afford such luxuries so were wearing cloth and leather. On a muddy battlefield armour stuck fast in the mud but cloth and leather did not making the English mobile and the French sitting ducks.
Secondly, battles in those times were fought in accordance within strict guidelines called "chivalry". Chivalry however had a dark side, ransom. Rather than kill a nobleman on the battlefield it was better to capture him and then ransom him back. As the vastly superior forces of the French approached the English lines they went straight for Henry and his noblemen sitting in the middle of the English battleline. They ignored the 4,000 English longbowmen, on either flank, who were commoners and thus not of the same social standing to fight nor worthy of capturing for ransom. The longbowmen on the other hand had no such qualms and probably relished the chance to sticking it up a few of the aristocratic class in close quarter hand-to-hand fighting. The longbowmen had no intention of taking anyone alive. You can imagine the horror of the French equivalent of Hooray Henrys being attacked by a bunch of peasants with a grudge.
So history must now be rewritten. England was sending their football hooligans on tour to the continent 550 years earlier than previously believed.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
( 12:34 PM ) Spengy
STAND AND DELIVER
There is a retail chain called Tchibo. Their hook is to change the entire stock every week. A concept I rather like and always gets me to look inside each week even if I'm not at all interested in what they are peddling.
One of the products on sale this week is a small device that is attached to the underside of the toilet seat. When the seat is lifted it says;
You have lifted the seat. Wouldn't you like to be seated? (2 second delay) I see you prefer to stand so please leave.
Is this the end game of some strange conspiracy to make men be seated for a performance? Is it some form of penis envy that because men are able to stand and pee that they shouldn't? I know there are arguments that men always leave the toilet seat up but the same could be said that women always leave the seat down. Who cares? I believe that a toilet seat left up requires the toilet to be absolutely spotless, as you can't hide anything. We men are apparently synonymous with bad aim so I'm always going to put the seat back to hide any over shoots. I am however not going to be seated just for a piss. Instead, if I come across one of these gadgets installed on the underside of a toilet seat I will be testing out its waterproof properties.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
( 11:43 AM ) Spengy
Mrs Spengy has been in Ireland for a week visiting family. I can't describe how much I've missed her nor how excited I'm about her return this evening. She has been away for longer periods but I haven't felt this lonely before. It must be something to do with me feeling homesick and any negative feeling appears magnified.
Enough of that self pity.
Samorost took my mind off things for 15 minutes. Truely great little piece of interactive fun (via Chasing Daisy via via Out of Character via via via styrofoamkitty). Click around on the screen with the mouse and you'll catch on - save the planet.
Monday, July 28, 2003
( 1:14 PM ) Spengy
MY GOOD DEED FOR BREASTS
My little legs are tired today. I rode the London-Cambridge cycle ride yesterday. The ride took me through some very pretty countryside until the last 10 miles when we rejoined a main "A" road and had to share it with high speed half-ton pieces of metal containing pissed off drivers who didn't appreciate having to go round 3,000+ cyclists.
The whole day was well organised and they had little A-frame signs on the side of the road marking each mile. The signs contained little gems of information like;
11 Miles - the average speed a tuna can swim
15 Miles - the maximum speed of a giraffe
18 Miles - the distance from the Earths surface to the stratosphere
'X' Miles - 180 times the height of the Eiffel Tower
'X' Miles - the distance of 1 million paperclips laid end to end (They didn't say whether they straightened out the paperclips but I suppose if they did that they wouldn't be paperclips any more)
32 Miles - the distance a standard pencil can draw (how did they work that one out?)
50 Miles - Finish, well done
Well pleased with my efforts and did it in 3 hours 2 minutes so didn't hang around.
The whole thing was in aid of breast cancer research. Mrs Spengy told me that she was proud I had done something for a cancer that claims so many female lives each year. I reminded her that it was also for my benefit as she had accused me of having man-boobs last month. It was only then that she told me she had only being trying to wind me up.
Saturday, July 26, 2003
( 8:13 PM ) Spengy
Okay I admit it. I said when we arrived in England that I would not watch Big Brother. I knew from experience that this drivel served up to our voyeuristic curiosity is strangely addictive.
Week 1 – resisted
Week 2 – just one show to see what the English version is like
Week 3 – must resist
Week 4 – must resist
Week 5 – oh well. I hope John wins
The final eviction – Cameron wins!
What the f*ck. How can an atypical 20-something get every ones vote. Yes, he was a nice guy but so were the other remaining housemates. Was it because he was a Christian who didn’t believe in sex before marriage? A noble sentiment – granted - but not one worthy of winning.
While most 20-somethings are out and about drinking, partying and chasing potential mates he is at home bashing the bible (not the bishop). And therein lies the answer to how he won. He was able to mobilize the far right Christian army to ring the “Vote Now” lines. You can just see them. The righteous sat at home on each night watching Big Brother and shaking their heads at the degeneracy of the other “morally corrupt youth of today” contestants.
We have only ourselves to blame. While those who have “God on their side” sit at home bemoaning the current state of society the rest of us are out at our local enjoying happy hour and having a whale of a time BUT YOU FORGOT TO VOTE. My only regret was all the time I wasted at home watching Big Brother when I could have been out drinking and making my contribution to the moral decay and decadence.
Why didn't John win. He was so much more interesting and an avowed atheist.
May god smote me down for such blasphemy.
Friday, July 25, 2003
( 3:02 PM ) Spengy
"WE APOLOGISE FOR THE DELAY"
In winter it is leaves on the track
In summer it is the heat threatening to buckle the rails
What the f*ck is the problem with South-West trains when it rains?
I was 25 minutes late for a job interview in the city today despite leaving an hour and a half ahead of time.
There is something seriously wrong with the transport infrastructure of this country. Do you heap blame on Baroness Thatcher for selling off the farm or praise her for selling an ailing system in dire need capital investment?
I sat in the train fuming while the recorded message repeated "We are sorry for the delay ......." for the umpteenth time. No they aren't. A recorded message can't be sorry. It can say "sorry" but it doesn't mean it.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
( 11:29 AM ) Spengy
ON MY OWN
I am currently on my own. Mrs Spengy having returned to Ireland for a week.
Last night I got to do everything I wanted to do;
Have a few beers at the local - It was "Happy Hour" or more correctly "Happy 2 Hours" at the local and I was more than merry by the end of it.
Eat what I want - A special fried rice from the takeaway down the road. Straight from the container. No plate. No sitting at the table.
Watch what I wanted on TV - No discussions about what to watch. Just me, the couch, the TV guide and the remote. Oh and of course the TV.
Go to bed when I want - Wake up at 3am on the couch having fallen asleep some time around 11.30pm. Damn I'd missed the Tour de France highlights and I didn't much care to watch a replay of the Dodgers v's the Cardinals.
Have all the bed, quilt and pillows - I could lie where I wanted with as much or as little of the quilt wrapped around me.
Get up when I wanted - Wake up to an empty house and find I'm really lonely and missing her.
I can't wait until she returns mid-next week.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
( 12:45 PM ) Spengy
MORE AIRLINE STORIES
All too rarely, Australian airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety lecture" and their other announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:
Thanks to Uncle Rob for this
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
( 1:05 PM ) Spengy
Just finished Brighton Rock by Graham Greene.
I enjoyed this novel from "Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him" to "She walked rapidly in the thin June sunlight towards the worst horror of all".
In Pinkie you have one of the great literary villains. Youth, naivety and insecurity mixed with remorseless evil and ruthlessness. Greene consummately tackles themes of redemption, consequence of actions and moral ambiguity. There is a great supporting cast of characters from the Hale - who is resigned to his fate; Rose - Pinkies weak minded simple girlfriend; Dallow, Cubitt and Spicer - Pinkies gang; and Ida Arnold - Hales avenging angel who believes she has "Right" on her side.
Channel 4 showed the 1947 movie version yesterday with Richard Attenborough as "Pinkie". The ending was different from the book but an alternative that worked in its own way.
I recommend anyone who has never read a Graham Greene novel to try this one.
( 10:42 AM ) Spengy
Doctor David Mosler (an American historian) suggested in at a confrence in Brisbane that Australia should seriously consider becoming the 51st state of the US.
He believed that we had;
He went on to list the advantages of joining the US as;
Well what can I say. I thought John Howard already beleived we were part of the USA. On reflection I reckon there could be some advantages to this idea;
Thanks to TNT for the material
Monday, July 21, 2003
( 12:46 PM ) Spengy
A QUIET FRIDAY NIGHT IN
Mrs Spengy and I decided to have a nice quiet night in for a change last Friday night. We curled up on the couch to watch TV.
All of a sudden there was loads of shouting, screaming and people running all over the place. Being nosey neighbours we dimmed the lights and looked out the window. Cops everywhere yelling at a couple of youths to get off the train tracks and a young man sprinting past down the path from the station adjacent to our house with three bobbies in hot pursuit. This was all too exciting so we went downstairs and stood outside with our neighbours from below to watch the action. After 5 minutes the police returned up the road carrying a single trainer.
Things not to say to policemen who have lost their suspect:
Me: That's a start. You just need the rest of him
Bobby: Why don't you go back in doors sir and let us get on with our job
Me: Yes Officer
We made sure all the doors and window were properly locked.
A LOUD SATURDAY NIGHT OUT
The first post on the inaugural "JamesFest". Went to a party put on by friends who have a large converted Dutch collier barge on the Grand Canal. Lots of music, food and enormous quantities of alcohol. We passed out in our tent about 4am.
I forgot how quickly a tent heats up in the morning when the sun comes up.
A QUIET SUNDAY IN
Excessive alcohol consumption the night before.
Three hours sleep. Hot tent. Dehydratated. Packing up and driving home.
We had a very quiet day nursing fragile heads.
Friday, July 18, 2003
( 2:34 PM ) Spengy
What do you call a deer with no eyes, no legs and no willy?
( 2:30 PM ) Spengy
There are times when I'm glad to be male.
Take waxing for instance. The idea of pouring hot wax onto my legs, eyebrows, armpits and crotch then ripping it off is not something I would normally do (except that time I was going through my kinky stage at the Hellfire Club - another story that I'm not game enough to talk about or recall without wanting to bite my fist in embarrassment). Whereas for the fairer sex this is a regular occurence (waxing not the Hellfire Club). Just the thought of a "Brazilian" makes my eyes water and I will not be following the increasing male trend of getting a sack-wax for all the tea in China thank you very much.
One must be careful about where you go to get this service done. You apparently pay for what you get. Cheap means corners are cut, patches are left and worst of all eyebrows can be left uneven. The latter being the most visible means that additional wax must be re-applied to sort out the problem. There is only one way you can go with this if it is continually cocked up and that is drawing on your eyebrows with a pencil for the next four weeks until your own grow back.
I don't think Mrs Spengy will be using the Richmond High Street beautician again.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
( 10:19 AM ) Spengy
AN EMAIL CAN ALWAYS LIFT THE MOOD
Quite liked this email from one of the out-laws;
After numerous rounds of "We don't even know if Saddam is still alive", Saddam decided to send George W. Bush a letter in his own handwriting
to let him know that he is still in the game. Bush opened the letter and it appeared to contain a coded message:
George W. couldn't figure it out so he typed it out and faxed it to Colin Powell.
Colin and his aides had no clue either so they sent it to the CIA. No one could solve it so it went to the NSA and then to MIT and NASA and the Secret Service ... the list got longer and longer.
Eventually they asked Mossad in Israel for help. Captain Moishe Pippick took one look at it and replied: "Tell the President he is looking at the message upside down."
What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?
( 10:06 AM ) Spengy
Nothing to post today as I'm really missing home, my friends and family. The weather is overcast, wet and cold. I'm going to finish off my book and watch the Tour de France.
What do you call a deer with no eyes?
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
( 1:04 PM ) Spengy
WILTING ENGLISH ROSES
Well we finally got a really good hot summer day yesterday. What a cracker.
Now I understand why everyone complains about "the heat". Air conditioning is a rarity and non-existent on public transport. Houses are made to retain heat and not to dissipate it (quite uncomfortable sleep in a sauna like bedroom). The rail infrastructure was under threat as the tracks were in danger of buckling in the heat.
I should have guessed that the UK is incapable of handling weather outside the norm. I recall the country grinding to a halt when it snowed in late January this year. Some excuses about gritters not getting on the roads in time and leaves on the tracks of the railways. Of course like the hot weather in summer it never snows in the UK in winter.
( 12:50 PM ) Spengy
BUGGER AND DAMNATION
Queensland just beat New South Wales in the third game of the State of Origin Series.
We still won the series 2 - 1 but it is so much sweeter when it is a 3 - Nil whitewash.
I'm off to drown my sorrows.
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
( 9:58 AM ) Spengy
THERE'S NOTHING TO SEE HERE, PLEASE MOVE ALONG
In the words of Officer Barbrady.
I seem to be back to normal. What was that all about?
( 9:50 AM ) Spengy
What the hell has happened to this blog? I've gone blue and everything except my daily entries has disappeared.
No I do not need encouraging remarks to change to MoveableType etc I just want my site back. I suppose that is immaterial as I've lost my "Comments" as well.
( 9:40 AM ) Spengy
When you purchase sports/outdoor clothes they come with all these bits of laminated cardboard telling you about the manufacturer, how the fabric works to keep you warm, dry and cool - at the same time - as well as how to care for it.
I purchased a pair of shorts on the weekend that were made by Columbia. The advertising tag had all the typical stuff you'd expect except the splashed across the top were the lines "SOFT AND BAGGY JUST LIKE THE OLD LADY" and again in French "DOUX ET AMPLE - UN PEU COMME LA VIEILLE DAME".
Their site is a little different. Try clicking on We Test on Animals and view their ads. I guess the "Old Lady" must be the Chairman, Gere Boyle.
Monday, July 14, 2003
( 1:19 PM ) Spengy
Listening to the Tour de France on netradio which is usually very good with the "voice of cycling" Phil Liggett. For some reason there are three septics commentating. It must be heard to be believed. It is truly appalling. A classic pearl of wisdom was as the leaders topped the Col d'Izoard (2,360m) and began their decent they began a discussion on how to corner a cycle at speed;
Septic 1: You can see him come out wide on the approach and cut in hard to the apex. This gives him the whole road to spread out into so he can maintain his momentum
Septic 2: The Tour "DAR" France is run on closed roads so he can do this and not hit a car coming the other way
Septic 3: For those of you watching at home, don't try this as there will be cars on the road and you could hit one
This is typical of a country that is so inward looking when it comes to sport (who else calls their domestic baseball league finals "The World Series") that most question why US Postal bothers to sponsor a sport that no-one follows. Who is Lance Armstrong?
( 11:26 AM ) Spengy
Those of you who read my earliest entries would recall my "Rules for Riding a Pushbike in England: In Winter". I suffered dreadfully from the cold as none of my Australian cold weather riding gear seemed to make the slightest bit of difference and I froze every time I went out.
Yesterday I got my payback. I joined 3,000 other souls on the Heart Foundations London to Southend bike ride. 58 miles (94km) of rolling countryside through Essex. Quaint villages, fields of wheat and lovely little country roads. The peace was shattered every once in a while by an Essex Tractor (Porsche) roaring past on its way to the 6 bedroomed "quaint getaway from London cottage" that are seemingly all owned by city stockbrokers.
The day was beautiful. Clear skies. Bright sunshine. Light breeze. My fellow cyclists all wilting and complaining about the heat. Bloody wimps, 30 degrees C is very warm but it is definitely not hot. I know I will pay for this when winter comes around again so I'll enjoy it while I can.
Friday, July 11, 2003
( 11:52 AM ) Spengy
Apparently this means that the fruit and vegetables are not grown with any herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. They are fed with nutrients gleaned from a mixture of fresh spring water combined with grain fed beef cow manure that is stirred five times clockwise and six times anticlockwise. They are tended by tree hugging vestal virgins and only harvested under a full moon. They are displayed to us in the special section of the super market in woven wicker baskets and special lighting. Prices also match the ambience.
All fruit and vegetables are organic even GM modified stuff foisted upon us by Monsanto. I dare anyone to show me a synthetic piece of fruit or veg (plastic shop display models excluded) that has been grown for consumption.
I will admit it does often taste better. Just don't call it "organic".
Thursday, July 10, 2003
( 6:29 PM ) Spengy
I find job searching ego bruising and soul destroying.
I am either;
1. Over qualified for the role: You would think that an employer would jump at the chance of recruiting an experienced person who will do the job efficiently and at half the price.
2. Don't have enough UK market experience: How are you expected to get this unless you have a job. Hence why "No.1 Roles" above are being applied for.
I seem to be caught in some vicious Catch-22 scenario - 1 of my top 10 books but not something that I wish to experience first hand.
It looks like it will have to be bar work just to stop me going insane. Mind you Mrs Spengy will miss all the gourmet dinners I've been turning out. Not to mention the all the housework, washing, ironing and shopping.
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
( 11:13 PM ) Spengy
BARNACLES ON THE ARSEHOLE OF COMMERCE
People in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones (I read economics at university). I have just finished watching "Gambling on the War" on BBC2 this evening. This documentary followed some city-traders who take what is known as spread bets. Spread betting is all very technical and involves watching market fluctuations with put and call options, black-scholes models, beta rates, standard deviations ............ f*ck it ....... gambling dressed up as serious financial market transactions.
At the end of the program the question was put to one of the traders about what purpose they served in the market. His response started off along the lines of them providing a service that was "fundamental in sustaining the market liquidity" and then he trailed off. As he thought about what he had just said he added "Its like bacteria, you don't necessarily like them but you have to have them". I immediately thought of Tom Sharpe's Henry Wilt calling their sort "40 watt light globes - dim and of no discernable use".
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
( 12:17 PM ) Spengy
Here are a few that spring to mind. Please feel free to add yours in "Comments" at the end of the post.
I better stop before I become caught up in my own cynicism.
Monday, July 07, 2003
( 12:05 PM ) Spengy
BANNED FROM SHOPPING
I'm such a tight-arse when it comes to clothes shopping. I do all the typical bloke things;
On the otherhand I will spend loads on books, CD's and DVD's. I have just discovered Oxfam and the other charity shops stock really good second-hand books. Twentythree books later Mrs Spengy has suggested that I might have enough reading matter for the rest of the year.
Better go and read outside as it seems a shame to waste such a lovely day.
Thursday, July 03, 2003
( 9:14 AM ) Spengy
"HI, IS SCOTT THERE?"
One of the joys of living in rental accommodation is receiving the previous occupants phone calls. The conversations normally go like;
Caller: Hello. Is Scott there?
Me: I'm sorry I think you have the wrong number
Caller: Is that 0208 *** ****?
Caller: Oh ................ are you sure?
Me: Yes I'm sure. He definitely doesn't live here. Goodbye
If they are totally thick they retry the number but usually hang-up as soon as they hear my voice answer again. I have never quite had enough courage to do the Danny Di Vito "I love wrong numbers" scene from "War of the Roses" though.
Every so often you get a persistent caller that just doesn't get the "They don't live here any more. We are the new tenants" line. These people are usually the market research companies or government agencies. After 3 repeat calls we designate them fare game to play with.
MARKET RESEARCH PHONE CALLS
1. Lie through your teeth
2. Agree with everything they ask
3. Ask bizarre questions and be obtuse
4. At the end of the conversation inform them you are not who they have asked for.
GOVERNMENT AGENCY ie Inland Revenue
1. Be pleasant as the don't take jokes too well
2. Inform them you aren't going to pay the debt, you never had the intention to do so and never will.
3. Wind them up a little (remember point "1")
4. Break the news to them that you aren't paying because you aren't the person they are calling for. Point out to them this is the 4th call that has been made and you have explained that you are new tenants on all previous occassions.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
( 9:24 AM ) Spengy
Our Leyton may be out but go the "POO"
I wonder why the Brits refer to Wimbledon as "SW19" which is the post-code for the area. Why don't they refer to all major sporting events/venues in this country like this. You could have;
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
( 11:20 PM ) Spengy
JUNE 18 POST (RISE AWARD - JUNE 03 POST OF THE MONTH)
Yes, I agree Blogger is screwed with respect to Archives. Therefore I republish the post in the vain hope that my hits increase. I don't care about visits. You are all individuals, yes we are all individuals, I'm not, shut up.....
Thank you Judges Cuz K, Cuz N and Pete [Read as many times as you need until the maximum 60 second speech is over - you deserve this if you can't scroll down to the 18th of June].
THE 5 STAGES OF CLOTHES PURCHASES
This is a summary of the 5 stages that must be gone through before a new item of clothing is bought and usually occurs over several days;
Potential Purchasee: I saw a lovely pair of shorts in the shop today
Spengy: Did you
Potential Purchasee: I tried on a lovely pair of shorts in the shop today
Spengy: Did you
Potential Purchasee: That lovely pair of shorts was £80 but has been reduced to £20
Spengy: Were they?
Potential Purchasee: I don't have anything to wear
Spengy: Don't you?
Purchasee: I bought a lovely pair of shorts today
Spengy: Did you
( 11:06 AM ) Spengy
REGISTERING WITH THE NHS
We both went off to register with the NHS local doctor last week. I had my preliminary check-up visit with the practise nurse. Blood pressure, weight, height, blood test etc. Then the lifestyle chat;
Nurse: How much do you drink?
Me: Never enough
Nurse: Do you smoke?
Me: No I gave up last month ..... well only when I drink
Nurse: Do you exercise?
Me: [sitting next to her in my cycling gear] Yes
Nurse: Do you eat a balanced diet?
Nurse: Do you suffer from high-fever or allergies?
Me: I don't suffer allergies but get high-fevers when I'm sick sometimes
Nurse: [Gives me a strange look] You only get high-fever when you are sick?
Me: [perplexed] Yes but not very high. The last time I ran a really high fever was when I had meningitis in my early twenties. I think it was about 105.
Nurse: No, high-fever not HIGH FEVER
Nurse: High-fever ...... sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, pollen in summer
Me: [penny drops] Hayfever [smiling] No I don't
She was Spanish