Wednesday, 8 May 2019

HRM the QUeen's 93rd Birthday . . Happy Birthday M'am.

Just back from Buck House celebrating Her Royal Majesty's 93rd birthday. She loved the Ferrari Experience voucher for Brand's Hatch that we bought her. She said she was looking forward to giving Phil a taste of his own medicine. Bless her.

Charles was there and he delivered a wonderful speech, and sang the Big Sea's hit "When I am king" and then introduced us to his new BF, a lovely palm tree from the Sultan of Brunei. His mom clipped him around the ear when he suggested it was a rather "gay" present. His nieces Fifi and Trixabelle, or whatever they're called (Air Miles Andy's daughters), were there, resplendent in their new Easter bonnets. Everyone was "fnarr, fnarring" about them except Camilla, who, always one to call a horse a horse, thought they were total crap. The hats and not the girls that is. Duchess Meghan was in the corner selling signed copies of "Suits" for her "Jeremy Corbyn Passover" Disaster Relief Fund, and fair play, she sold two copies to some Prince chappie called Harry.

Afternoon tea was a resplendent affair, with Marks and Spencer sandwiches and fancies service on the best Royal Doulton could offer. Plates. We couldn't get to grips with the organic, vegan, environmentally-friendly dandelion tea, although by then I'd retired to a corner with a crate of Guinness to discuss Chinese cuisine with HRH Prince Philip. He adores oriental people, although he has got the habit of addressing them all as "And what do you do?" Still, at his ripe-old age of 109, he has every right to be a little eccentric. He told me the joke "An Englishman, a Welshman and an Irishman walk into a bar". (The End). He then burst out laughing. I laughed along out of politeness, but have to confess I didn't get it.

Her Majesty's birthday speech was terrific. She had some great tales to tell about all the Prime Ministers she had met over the years. It seems Margaret Thatcher frightened her to death, She showed us the key to the tower she intends to use should "That Mr Cobyn" as she calls him ever get to No 10. She thinks he's frightfully frighteningly frightening and isn't sure at all how he got to be head of the Politburo in the first place. She's not keen on that Mr Putin at all. Naturally enough, as a loyal citizen, it wasn't my place to explain that he is just a very bad joke, especially at risk of ruining her birthday.

All in all. A lovely way to spend Easter Day.

Royal baby blues . . . .

I'm just back from visiting Meghan and Harry. Great afternoon. Boy, they had you all fooled! We laughed about the press hotly debating whether "the new baby was born at home" or "the new baby was born in hospital". He was actually born in a special birthing suite in Claridges using Thai silk towels and hot bottled Buxton water.

They had decided to ban the "Meghan went into Labour" stuff because of the row over Antisemitism. As it happens, Mr Corbyn was neither there nor involved. Harry was on great form about the ongoing naming speculation. He has already consulted his Granny, and has confirmed that although he's quite a Kardcashincan/Kanyaaaaaee fan, they won't be calling young Sussex either North, South, East, West or even the slightly Prussian Countyov.

Her Gracious Royal Majesty the Queen had been driven there by the Duke of Edinburgh, who sadly didn't make it to the birth as he was parking the Range Rover in the wall of the adjoining property at the time. Nigel Farage had been in earlier, but his jokes about lineage, immigrants and babies with ginger hair didn't go down well at all with the family. The straw that broke the camel's back was when he told the happy couple not to drive home via the Blackwall Tunnel, and he was asked politely by a large security guard to pick up his broken teeth, smashed beer glass and to Brexit via the back door.

Bye now!

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Eyes wide shut. Brexit or Brexin?


Well. 52% of the population were happy to be sold a car they didn't need by salesmen who knew nothing about it (Farage and Bozza), and despite the fact the 52% were told and accepted it was the ideal family car, they have since found out nearly three years down the line that not only does it do only 13 mpg, but it can accommodate only the driver and one passenger, has no boot space, spare tyres cost £600 each, it needs an oil change every 500 miles and servicing every 2,000 miles by the one specialist service shop in the UK 230 miles from their home. 

And on top of that, businesses having nothing to do with the car, in fact not even in the automotive sector, are going to make a fortune out of it because so many of the parts that have absolutely nothing to do with the car, but will be used as an excuse to make money, will be "in short supply", "stuck in customs" or attract the soon to be introduced BAT (Brexit Added Tax).

Meanwhile Infiniti, the luxury side of Nissan have decided to pack their bags in Sunderland and head back to the Land of the Rising Sun. Needless to say they cite the usual blah-blah-depressed-car-sales nonsense.

And top of the stack for hypocrisy are bean counting consultants, Ernst and Young, one of the big-4 parasites and paid a seven-figure fortune to promote the Best of British and Building Future Britain campaigns. Well they're putting their money where their feet are and shifting their legal operation from London to Brussels as the company braces for Brexit.

A fine example of Brexit support - no doubt they will be contributing to the £650million a week the NHS are NOT going to receive as a result of Brexit, unless that £650million is coming out of the pockets of Farage and Boris, for which I humbly apologise to the two blokes if it is. With a chip in from another chief Brexiteer, Sir Dyson Bagless, Earl of Singapore Manufacturers.

So go on. Let's leave NOW, if only to be able to tell the Brexiteers and that smug Farage (with his huge EU pension - bet he won't be splitting that with any of the country's homeless any time soon) that we've gone and done it without their help. I'm just wondering if our "Nige" will manage to find a reason, other than £73,000 a year plus expenses and pension, to stay on as an MEP after we leave the EU - I wouldn't put it past him.

Neither presumably will Boris be sharing his £250,000 a year from The Telegraph for his weekly column) 5 years down the line - "We told you so". We have EFTA (the European Free Trade Association invented by the UK back in 1959 - do philatelists remember those useless 5th Anniversary stamps issued in commemoration in, I think it was, 1965!) to fall back on.

We can re-join Norway and Switzerland who seem to manage quite nicely, and while not party to the EU Customs Union, it includes Schengen membership.

As for the NI situation. . . . . . let's all head over to the Titanic Museum and have a huge p*ss up!

Monday, 31 December 2018

Predictions for 2019

Well, another year over, and a new one just about to begin. By special request (i.e. the wife and kids asked me not to), here are my predictions for the year 2019:

January
The date for the annual November “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” sale event is announced by Amazon. November. All 30 days of it. Chocolate eggs for Easter 2020 go on sale in Sainsbury’s. Weightwatchers come up with a new resolution to weight loss – they encourage you to help all of your friends gain 15 pounds so you look thinner. To demonstrate Diane Abbott is not as stupid as she is, Jeremy Corbyn encourages her to take an IQ test, which proves negative.

February
So as not to be accused of turning kids into moronic zombies, Snapchat starts a campaign to encourage its users to read more. They put sub-titles on their pages. A story about Brexit makes it on to the front page of the Beano. George Galloway announces he is changing sex to become a man. Labour blame the Tories for something which the Tories blame the LibDems for who in turn blame the SNP when it was actually the fault of the DUP all along.

March
One Direction announce they are splitting up. Girls start fainting in their tens of thousands. One Direction apologise that they forgot they had already split up in 2016. David Beckham finds an area of skin that hasn’t been tattooed. Aliens land in Doncaster, see what a craphole it is and leave immediately. Britain leaves the EU.

April
Britain re-joins the EU. Labour declare that if they are elected to government, they will ban the John Lewis, Asda and Argos Christmas advertisements due to start next month. The Mayor of Liverpool unveils a new roundabout, the largest in the UK, made entirely from hubcaps stolen in the city. Mike Ashley of Sports Direct announces he is taking over bankrupt Peterborough Council and making it the first Pay-As-You-Go Council in the country.


May
Elon Musk announces that he has found a way to offer hairdressing online. Meanwhile his new electric car Tesla 5 is announced with a range of over 25 miles between charges. Sir Bagless Dyson declares that he is developing an electronic helicopter. The Welsh Government concede to popular demand and announce that for ease of use, Welsh words will, from now on, contain vowels. The late Sir Harold Wilson declares he will be running for leadership of the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn campaigns for Venezuela to be allowed enter the Eurovision Song Contest.

June
Yorkshire Water announces a hosepipe ban ‘just in case’. The National Lottery increases the number of Lotto balls to 102 as the new Gambling Tsar declares that advertisement breaks on television will be limited to seven bingo sites each. Gladstone Brookes announce their own TV station devoted entirely to the PPI deadline in August.

July
Virgin Trains announce a new travel initiative whereby if you can find a Manchester-London return train ticket cheaper than a return flight from Manchester to New York, they will refund the difference. President Trump admits he is a figment of the Republican Party’s imagination. The Green party announces plans to fight farming, saying “Plants are people, too!”

August
Tesla announces plan to build psychic autonomous driving software that predicts where you’ll want to go before you’ve made a decision. The Labour Shadow Energy Secretary says Labour are declaring war on coal. George Ezra announces he is splitting up. Giant Haystacks is the new face of WeightWatchers. Easter Eggs for 2021 go on sale in Sainsbury’s. Despite the best efforts of Labour, the 2019 John Lewis, Asda and Argos Christmas advertisements begin airing.

September
As the effects of the warmest summer since 2018 take hold, Yorkshire Water declares their hose pipe ban is to continue. Ozzy Osborne confirms he is still alive. Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott sues Italy for inventing pasta and pizza thus creating the current obesity crisis. Dyson develop the first nuclear-powered vacuum cleaner.

October
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell admits he has been dating all Labour Party Cheques “2017”. Sub-aqua suits (torn at the knees) become a popular fashion item. A privet hedge is declared odds-on favourite to win “X-Factor”. Valentine cards for 2020 go on sale in Sainsbury’s.

November
Black Friday and Cyber Monday month begins. President Trump finally ditches the idea of his Mexican wall in favour of an invisible dog fence. School safety is outsourced to private military contractors. The Rolling Stones announce their 60th Anniversary tour. The LibDems announce that in the run-up to Christmas, to avoid death on the roads, motorists should drive on the pavement.

December
Artificial Intelligence bots will serve as proxies to fight our social media wars, relieving us all of the anxiety of fighting each other on Facebook and Twitter. Ticketmaster announce the ending of the hated “booking fee” and instead announce the introduction of a flat fee for each visit to their website regardless of whether you are booking their overpriced tickets a year in advance of an event or not.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Manchester Christmas Markets

Well, an interesting trip to the mid-winter retail festival, er I mean Christmas market in Manchester. Or "The UK's original, award winning Manchester Christmas Market" as the Council prefer to call it. Big, brash, bustling and full of late teenage /early 20's girls imitating Daffy Duck with their preposterous Botox duck lips. They really should stick to the more cost-effective lunacy of torn-kneed jeans and baseball hats on backwards, taking cat-backside pursed-lipped selfies of one another instead.

It was mad busy. The stalls stretch all over the city centre, selling wonderful stuff like mulled wine, frankfurters, cheese, plastic illuminated santas, wreaths, mulled wine, cheese, frankfurters, cheese, mulled wine, frankfurters and plastic illuminated santas. For the more adventurous, there was mulled wine, frankfurters, cheese and plastic illuminated santas (in fairness loads of other food, tat and craft stalls). Hot drinks were handled rather interestingly, whether mulled wine, coffee or other stuff - you paid a refundable £3 deposit and were handed your own Manchester mug (the customer ha! ha!) which you could visit the various refreshment-dispensing stalls with for many and various hot beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. There was the option of not returning the mug, something many people did . . . . . .forgetting that they hadn't in fact stolen it, but paid that £3 deposit for it.

Yes, you can take the mug out of Salford.

Some of the stalls haven't quite got the law of diminishing returns. While many were heaving, the less busy didn't cotton on, in "Lord Sugar Apprentice" fashion, that to make themselves much more busy, for example, the price point for a cone of Dutch Chips (first cousin to Dutch Caps?) needed to be £3 rather than £6 (that is, sell 150 portions at £3 rather than 50 at £6 - you get my drift), and a white pot-style tea-mug that retails for 45p in Poundstretcher doesn't catch the imagination of the public at £8.50 just because it has a Manchester bee painted on the side of it.

Recommendations:
The mulled rum fruit punch from the stall under the big illuminated town hall Santa
The authentic French Cheese stall with authentic hand-written continental-style price tags in French manned by authentic French people who pronounce the city as "Manchestuh" and don't understand when you say to them "Merci pour le bon fromage que j'apprécierai quand je rentrerai à la maison".

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Do, do, do, do, do you remember, do, do, do, do, do you recall?


* When there were only three television stations (5 if you lived in Dublin where you nicked HTV and Ulster)
* When the the TV remote control consisted of your feet and fingers
* When bored children were taken to the park with a football instead of to McDonalds
* When girls didn't have tattoos
* When young mothers talked to their perambulated children rather than to Facebook and Snapchat
* When you didn't need £15,000 of dental work, Ugg boots and a 4x4 you were unable to park in a traditional parking space in order to be a "real" housewife
* When your parents wouldn't have let you out of the house with your hat on backwards, the knees of your trousers cut away, your underpants' band showing and your trouser crotch down at your knees
* When Manchester United and Manchester City footballers all came from Manchester
* You didn't take your phone with you to the toilet, to make a cuppa, to answer the door, to open the window, to go to bed, to scratch your backside etc
* When binary was the 101010101010" on/off system your maths teacher tried to explain was used in computing
* When you didn't check your phone every 3 minutes to see what celebrity was walking what dog
* If you attained fame you didn't cover yourself with tattoos
* When kids offered you a seat on public transport just because you were older than them
* When "backstop" was a metal and rubber thing on the floor to stop the door banging against the wall when you opened it
* When people on TV all pronounced words correctly
* Things were simply "used" or "s
Do, do, do, do, do you remember, do, do, do, do, do you recall (name that song - hint, related to Sir Paul McCartney!):
* When there were only three television stations (5 if you lived in Dublin where you nicked HTV and Ulster)
* When the the TV remote control consisted of your feet and fingers
* When bored children were taken to the park with a football instead of to McDonalds
* When girls didn't have tattoos
* When young mothers talked to their perambulated children rather than to Facebook and Snapchat
* When you didn't need £15,000 of dental work, Ugg boots and a 4x4 you were unable to park in a traditional parking space in order to be a "real" housewife
* When your parents wouldn't have let you out of the house with your hat on backwards, the knees of your trousers cut away, your underpants' band showing and your trouser crotch down at your knees
* When Manchester United and Manchester City footballers all came from Manchester
* You didn't take your phone with you to the toilet, to make a cuppa, to answer the door, to open the window, to go to bed, to scratch your backside etc
* When binary was the 101010101010" on/off system your maths teacher tried to explain was used in computing
* When you didn't check your phone every 3 minutes to see what celebrity was walking what dog
* If you attained fame you didn't cover yourself with tattoos
* When kids offered you a seat on public transport just because you were older than them
* When "backstop" was a metal and rubber thing on the floor to stop the door banging against the wall when you opened it
* When people on TV all pronounced words correctly
* Things were simply "used" or "second -hand" and not "pre-owned" or "pre-loved"
* You didn't have to pay for an event ticket 10 months in advance AND then pay them a service fee on top for hanging on to and using YOUR money for those 10 months as an interest-free loan
* You compared prices by phoning around and using pen and paper
* You phoned the theatre, reserved a couple of tickets and then dropped in a couple of days later to pay (face value) and collect them
* A little man on the street minded your car for a few bob instead of £34 an hour in some NCP high-rise
* John Major said car tax would NEVER rise above £100
* You could drive around for almost a week on "£1 of the best"
* When councils didn't rely on spurious bus lane revenue cameras as a source of income
* £15 trainers were £15 trainers and there were only Gola, Adidas, Slazenger and Dunlop to choose from
* Supermarkets didn't offer you a third one free (that you ended up throwing away because it went off) if you bought two
* When HR was just plain old bull-free personnel management and the head of personnel actually knew what everyone's job in the organisation was
* Christmas was never politically incorrect or offensive to anyone
* When the cost of sending a letter was priced purely on weight and destination
* When all 120 seats on the 'plane were all the same price and you automatically had a suitcase and refreshments included in the price of your air ticket
* When repairing the actual motorway itself took precedence over the installation of tens of thousands of pounds worth of average-speed revenue cameras
econd -hand" and not "pre-owned" or "pre-loved"
* You didn't have to pay for an event ticket 10 months in advance AND then pay them a service fee on top for hanging on to and using YOUR money for those 10 months as an interest-free loan
* You compared prices by phoning around and using pen and paper
* You phoned the theatre, reserved a couple of tickets and then dropped in a couple of days later to pay (face value) and collect them
* A little man on the street minded your car for a few bob instead of £34 an hour in some NCP high-rise
* John Major said car tax would NEVER rise above £100
* You could drive around for almost a week on "£1 of the best"
* When councils didn't rely on spurious bus lane revenue cameras as a source of income
* £15 trainers were £15 trainers and there were only Gola, Adidas, Slazenger and Dunlop to choose from
* Supermarkets didn't offer you a third one free (that you ended up throwing away because it went off) if you bought two
* When HR was just plain old bull-free personnel management and the head of personnel actually knew what everyone's job in the organisation was
* Christmas was never politically incorrect or offensive to anyone
* When the cost of sending a letter was priced purely on weight and destination
* When all 120 seats on the 'plane were all the same price and you automatically had a suitcase and refreshments included in the price of your air ticket
* When repairing the actual motorway itself took precedence over the installation of tens of thousands of pounds worth of average-speed revenue cameras

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Chinese restaurants in the UK have only themselves to blame

There was a report in the Sunday Times recently whereby is was stated that the Chinatowns of Liverpool (the oldest in the UK), Manchester and Newcastle are in serious decline, diner numbers having reduced dramatically and some restaurants having to close.

The reasons they cite are the emergence of world foods bringing a much bigger choice for the consumer, lack of suitable chefs to run the kitchens and competition from new retails schemes such as Liverpool1 and Spinningfields in Manchester.

I am the first to concede this may indeed be the case. Yes, new retail and dining experience schemes do indeed take away from the traditional Chinatown areas that have now become tired in comparison.

But it goes deeper than that if taking Manchester Chinatown and my own recent experience there as an example. Our visit (a family one) was a litany of poor minor experiences all adding to the greater overall poor experience. I won't mention the particular restaurant by name, but it wasn't the first time. Where Chinese restaurants need to up their game is:
    1. Don't attack me with "What do you want to drink?" the minute I step into your premises - I don't have a drink before dinner at home, so why should I do so immediately I walk into your restaurant for a meal. I like a drink WITH my dinner. If I want a drink the moment I step inside a premises, I will go to a pub
    2. Stop topping my glass up with your over-expensive wine or sparking water each time I take a sip from my glass. I am capable enough of doing it myself and I do not wish to finish the bottle before even my starter arrives. Unless this is an ancient Chinese ceremony I have missed out being informed about
    3. A jug of iced water like they offer in most Indian restaurants would be quite nice
    4. You put far too much chicken and sweetcorn soup in your bowl of monosodium glutamate
    5. Can you use something else other than a Wing Yip sauce?
    6. Your sweet and sour chicken, lamb in OK and crispy 'fry bee' tastes exactly the same as in does in all the other Chinese restaurants in Manchester, the only difference being the price
    7. If you are going to charge me for four portions of rice, make sure they are four portions, not just one slightly larger than normal single bowl and four spoons
    8. Please let me finish my meal before you clear away the plates
    9. Please don't make such a fuss over seeweed. It's only deep friend lettuce and is the most profitable item on your menu costing you about 9p a portion
    10. Please do not automatically add a service charge of 10%. I will decide whether the service offered is worthy of a 10% surcharge or not