Date archives "September 2011"

Are Things Really That Bad In England?

Yesterday the BBC reported a story where there has been a sharp increase in metal theft. Are things really that bad in England that the only way to make a few quid is to steal the metal slide from the children’s playground? I once laughed when a friend in India told me that the reason all the manhole covers are made from concrete is because people used to steal the metal ones and leave big gaping holes in the road. I remember reading in mild amusement that thieves in Cape Town would steal the electrical cable from the street lights.

Now I’m left wondering what England has come to when thieving robbing bastards will steal the lead lettering off of gravestones, pilfer metal doorknobs and letterboxes from highstreet shops and even make off with 100 year old bronze statues. Suddenly Indian politician Mayawati’s statue protection police force doesn’t look quite as absurd. And for what? Probably to make ten quid to get a haircut! Apparently one 22 year old was left with “horrendous” injuries when he tried to cut through a live electrical wire and was jolted with 22,000 volts of kick-ass karma – and probably did a remarkable Luke Skywalker impression when he was attacked by Emperor Palpatine. Who has to pick up the bill to pay for his surgery? Who has to pick up the bill when he claims for compensation for loss of earnings? And did he get charged for the attempted theft? Did he hell, he got 12 months community service.

Apparently train tracks are the favourite of cretinous scumbags who will steal anything from the signaling cable to the clips that hold the tracks to the sleepers which are kind of important if you are worried about little things like wanting the train to actually stay on the line. With such a disregard for safety where is it actually going to end? Are they going to start removing 5m sections of track so they can have a night out on the town followed by a doner kebab afterwards?

My Dad, who was working on an industrial site during the summer, recounted a tale where the complex suddenly lost power which was odd because there were no power cuts in the area. A scout around the perimeter fence located a very strange event; the heavy duty industrial power cable was mysteriously moving of its own accord back through the fence. Further investigation revealed a band of travelers on the other side heaving the cable through. “Oh” they said in their best Brad Pitt in Snatch accent, “We just saw this lying around and didn’t think it belonged to anyone.”

BBC News - Metal theft: Britain's most annoying crime wave

BBC News – Metal theft: Britain’s most annoying crime wave copper cable theft from a railway line. The result? A total of 108 trains delayed, 17 hours worth of hold-ups for thousands of passengers and damage put at over £80,000.…

£10 Haircuts?!

Every time I come back to England it seems to coincide with the urgent requirement to get a haircut and so once a year I head down to a local barbershop where I have been going for the last 10 years. Since I go during the day the conversation is always the same…

Hairdresser: You on holiday today then?
Me: Oh, no, I’m just back visiting my parents for a couple of weeks
HD: That’s nice, which part of the country have you come from?
Me: Err, India
HD: India?!
Me: Yeah, I live and work out there
HD: Really?! What are you doing out there?
Me: I work for one of those outsourcing companies
HD: You mean the ones that are taking all our jobs like the call centres and we can’t understand a word they are saying?
ME: Not quite, we build websites and don’t have a call centre
HD: Hmm, it won’t be long before they bloody well take all our jobs and no one has anything left to do here!
Me: Ah, but they can’t outsource hairdressers now can they!
HD: 😀

What’s more is that as sure as night follows the day, the price has steadily gone up and I don’t know if I’m going to reveal my true age here or something, but I remember when a good, honest haircut cost £4.50. Every year the price has increased and now we’ve reached the ludicrous price of £10. I almost choked when she told me the price, ten quid for 15-20 minutes of work, if this carries on I’ll work out a way to outsource hairdressers myself!

The Lilliputians Versus The Brobdingnagians

Today it was the giants of the Premiership. Not in a figurative performance sense, but in a literal, oh my god they are fricking massive, sense. Stoke have forged something of a winning strategy by being bigger and stronger than any other team in the Premiership and with the arrival of Peter Crouch in the summer have raised the average height of the squad from 6ft 6″ to a lofty 6ft 11″. In a word, Stoke City are HUGE!

And that’s why so many teams struggle against them, which is what happened with Man Utd today. Stoke used Crouch as the point man to great effect. The football isn’t pretty, it isn’t technical but damn it caused problems for Uniteds back line. At every opportunity the Stoke keeper or defenders would literally hoof the ball in to the United box and hope that Crouch could get on the end of it, which since he’s a full head taller than even Ferdinand or Jones, happened quite often.

What’s more, Stoke closed down United so quickly, it was like the charge of the light brigade every time a United player touched the ball, Stoke’s giants would rush on in. In the past this kind of pressing play worked great for the first 80 minutes and then everyone dies and United said thank you very much, Goal. Now though, I’ve noticed that teams that have to press United can do so for the full 90 minutes.

There was less of the tiki taka football on show today, Anderson continued with his loose balls and as I’ve mentioned before De Gea still really needs to work on his distribution, especially when you are playing against a team the size of Stoke – I don’t think any of his hoofs was caught by a United player. That said, he pulled off some exceptional saves and he’s looking a bit more comfortable than a few weeks ago and looks like the quality United need at the back.

Nani was once again the best player for United, the last season or so he’s finally beginning to fill the boots to match his ego. Always written off as a poor man’s Ronaldo, he’s more like a middle class man’s Ronaldo now. Rather surprisingly was that Owen managed to last the full 90 minutes, but his contribution, yet again, didn’t do justice to his ability. A good run to draw off defenders to help Nani’s goal, but apart from that when he did get the ball there didn’t seem to be any killer strike, there was too much hesitation and on more than one occasion there was too many touches. Maybe with more games he could get back to his goal scoring ways and with the injury to Rooney and Hernandez (how many injuries do United get in a season!) maybe he’ll get his chance.

Two points dropped here, but Stoke were a very tough side to deal with.

This Is The Worst Flu Ever!

I’m currently down and out with man-flu, which is a little bit like a cold that women and children get – what with all the aching joints, mucus oozing out of various orifices, a single functioning nasal passage, sneezes so hard it gets picked up by seismometers around the world, sinuses that have inflated to twice their normal size and general Sunday morning tiredness – only man-flu is scientifically proven to be 10x worse. Yes, it might mean we are a weaker sex, but damnit if that’s what it takes for you to believe that this flu has me at deaths door and it’s using all my bodily strength to fight it off and it’s not ‘just a cold’ then so be it.

So far, I’ve kept myself occupied by finding out why mucus is yellow when you have a cold (and that your nose contains the same, err, expandable flesh, as male sexual organs), what the hell the sinuses even are or do (I was surprised), read an entire Star Wars novel and then researched who Sifo Dyas was and why General Grevious was a cyborg with lightsabers. So despite being completely knocked for six as my body battles this virulent man-flu, I feel as if I’ve achieved something with my new found knowledge that Grevious was trained by Count Dooku and will be sure to pass on this information when I meet new people.

Oh yes, and my girlfriend has sent a care package to help me get better which consists of honey, pepper, ginger and cloves which I’m to mix in to a cup of tea and then take a Combiflam afterwards. If you haven’t heard of Combiflam it’s an awesome 1+1=3 painkiller where the creators thought “Hmm, Ibruprofen and Paracetamol are great but they both lack that little something. I know let’s mix the two together and call it Combiflam!”

Forget The Shire, Hobbit Homes Come To Wales!

A tree hugger An environmentalist from Wales has created his own version of the hobbit home replete with rounded windows and doors, grass covered roof and will undoubtedly become a super-charged magnet for all kinds of creepy crawlies that lurk in the undergrowth. The gentleman who created it, Simon Dale, had no previous building experience, no previous carpentry knowledge and yet for just £3,000 he got the place done in about four months. I know people here in India that have hired a whole army of builders and decorators and their all-ready-built home still isn’t finished after 9 months!

Apparently Simon is going to live in this eco-friendly home with his wife and two young kids but as far as I can see there is just one open plan bedroom which I’m sure the children will be thrilled about when they hit their teens! It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Euw, mum, dad, get a room!”.

I’m wondering if the wife will think it’s still such a brilliant idea when Wales has one of its famously wet winters (which is like the Wales summer really it’s just the day light hours are shorter) and the eco-friendly compost toilet needs emptying, the turf roof has sprung a leak and half the rodents of the nearby forest decide that this little hobbit hole is an awesome place to keep warm. Given the opportunity, I think I’d rather live in one of the £60 houses I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

Man builds stunning ‘hobbit house’ for just £3,000 - Yahoo! UK & Ireland Finance

Man builds stunning ‘hobbit house’ for just £3,000 – Yahoo! UK & Ireland Finance man has built a hillside home reminiscent of a hobbit house from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings — on a budget of just £3,000. Simon Dale constructed the woodland home for his family in Wales, taking only four months to fully complete the project

Excuse Me, You’re In My Personal Space

In England we like to take our personal space very seriously. We get offended if someone violates our immediate area and if we have to go somewhere where there are already other people we tend to look for the place where the population density is the lowest, for example if we get on a train we look for the empty set of seats rather than sit next to someone. (Obviously this formality goes out the window during London rush hour when you’re crushed like sardines in to a traveling tin can also known as the Tube).

In India, personal space doesn’t seem to be protected with the same voracity as in England, largely I think because people are so used to growing up on top of each other in the large joint families that you’ve never had personal space to begin with! I took a couple of photos of some ladies queuing to get in to the local temple because I couldn’t believe how close they stood next to each other on a sweltering hot day which must have been around 38-40°C!

Freebies and Indian Politics

Indian politics is fascinating for any onlooker, it’s quite alien to anyone from the west and trying to understand it would take a lifetime. The first thing to know is that being a country of 1.2 billion people, the media likes to segment people in to what are known as ‘vote banks’. For example the muslim minority here are considered a vote bank because they all tend to vote the same way. The people from the lowest castes (they used to be called ‘untouchables’ because it was considered dirty to even touch them, now, in a more enlightened age they are referred to as dalits) will also vote the same way.

There are so many different vote banks here that it’s a tough job for the political parties to appeal to everyone. One way the parties try to win votes is by offering freebies, often under the flimsy guise of ‘welfare schemes’. In Tamil Nadu, in order to sway the election, the two main parties entered in to an almost bidding war with each other on who could give the most freebies welfare to the poor people. In the previous 2006 election, the DMK party swept to power after announcing it would give away 15 million colour TV’s. In the end a lady called Jayalalithaa won because she said that people would get:

  • Free food blender
  • Free wet grinder
  • Free table fan
  • Free ceiling fan
  • Free laptop to all Govt. school children
  • Free cow
  • Free goat
  • Free sheep

It’s unclear how many people are eligible for all these freebies welfare goods, but the BBC reckons that 6.8 million school children alone will be getting free laptops at an estimated cost of $2 billion. In total, $580m will be spent on the free consumer goods and livestock this year alone. Oh, and it’s definitely NOT all a political stunt, Jayalalitha says, despite the fact that all the free goods have her smiling face prominently stuck to the side so that people are in no doubt about who gave them this welfare!

The biggest irony of all this is that in the villages, where most of these poor people live, there is very little electricity, few can afford the electricity and power cuts last several hours each day, or in some cases, for days!

The Hindu : States / Tamil Nadu : It is wrong to denigrate welfare schemes: Jayalalithaa

The Hindu : States / Tamil Nadu : It is wrong to denigrate welfare schemes: Jayalalithaa other schemes pertained to the free distribution of food mixers, wet grinders and table-fans to women carrying rice-drawing family cards and special incentive to students of…

The Rise of The Man Cave

I’ve recently moved in to a new 2 bedroom apartment except I tell everyone that it’s a one bedroom apartment. Why? Because the second bedroom is, or will be, my man cave. Decked out with everything the modern man needs to survive, the only reason I’ll ever have to leave my new cave is to go to work. I have my new 6 core computer (if you even know what that means then you can come visit my man cave) hooked up to the 32″ HD TV, 7.1 surround sound, a couch (built for comfort and not for style), games console, cable TV with all the sports and movie channels, a mini-fridge stocked with beer and most importantly, Dominos pizza on speed dial.

And it turns out I’m not alone, in America, men are desperate to reclaim a small part of their ‘castle’ and rescue it from good taste, cushions and femininity. Oh, and before anyone thinks it’s all about being a social recluse where a man can retreat to when life gets him down, a man cave is built for fun and enjoyment where mates can come over, watch the game, knock back a few beers and unwind while the missus watches Antiques Roadshow in the neat, clean and beautifully decorated living room downstairs.

BBC News - 'Man cave' boom in America explained

BBC News – ‘Man cave’ boom in America explained Wilser, co-author of “The Man Cave Book”, talks to the BBC about the forces behind these hideaways, why men are so protective of them, and why the variety of such…

Edge Of Your Seat Stuff

United just beat Chelsea 3-1 at Old Trafford but the scoreline certainly didn’t reflect the nature of the game – it could have been 5-3 or even more. United offered a bit more of their tiki-taka football but Chelsea were pressing and closing down very quickly throughout the match which disrupted United’s flow somewhat. United were very fortunate with all their goals because any other day they’d have been ruled out for offside and the third was just the kind of luck you sometimes need in a match.

Overall, Chelsea were the better side showing more desire to attack and shoot which I think was reflected in the stats with Chelsea having 20 attempts on goal vs United’s 12, however once again Torres proved what a £50m waste of space he is, missing sitter after sitter until the dying minutes where he managed to miss an open goal which even my granny could have converted.

Rooney uncharacteristically missed a penalty after he slipped on his run up, but there was a semblance of fate about it because the penalty was very soft and again on any other day would never have been awarded. Berbatov too, missed an open goal when Cole came back and cleared the line – it was getting to the point where people were queuing up to take a shot but no one wanted to score!

Rooney was easily the man of the match for United but Anderson was the weak link today, giving the ball away far too many times. It was only thanks to Torres’ uselessness that he didn’t pay for his mistakes. Anyway, another victory for United, the Red Devils march on-on-on.

Public Sector Still Flogging The Dead Horse

I just can’t get my head around the fact that the public sector feels so hard done by that they need to keep on striking to try and force through their demands. What part of: The country will go the way of Greece, Ireland and Portugal if we don’t cut our costs, do these public sector workers not understand?

With the private sectors struggling to find growth and job security balancing on a knife edge any one who has a job right now should be thankful – there are 2 million people in the UK who would love to be in your position. Well, OK, I’m sure a certain percentage of those are more than happy to have the country continuing to pay them benefits.

The Government is asking you to contribute more to your pension? Well suck it up, it’s YOUR pension, it’s going to come back to you when you retire! If the private sector workers can manage then so can the public sector. Grr, it makes me so mad when I see people who think they have a sense of entitlement!

Pensions Row: Unions Plan 'Day Of Action' - Yahoo! UK & Ireland Finance

Pensions Row: Unions Plan ‘Day Of Action’ – Yahoo! UK & Ireland Finance general secretary Brendan Barber warned that unless a deal with ministers was reached it would be “the biggest trade union mobilisation for a generation”.