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

      Saturday, 24 March 2018

      Nice to know we have our priorities right in the UK

      Well done to everyone involved with Sport Relief in raising almost £40milion and especially to the fantastic Zoe Ball for raising a thoroughly amazing £1million-plus on her own. Bet dad Johnny must be so proud. Astounding.

      P.S.
      Also, delighted to see that 3 of the 11 homeless people sleeping in doorways along Manchester's Deansgate this morning now have little put-me-up-tents. Not that I'm advocating too much charity should begin at home. But at least three of these unfortunate people can now cough and sneeze in the comfort of their own now-enclosed pavement slabs.

      Oh! And that after 8 months of chaos they have now resurfaced Bury New Bottleneck Road as part of the £800,000 "Village" improvement that no one in the area wanted nor were consulted on. I'm just chuffed, as a council tax payer, that the cash-strapped Council indeed had some spare cash to waste, er, sorry, I mean spend on this. Well done to Councillor Backhandcash for pushing it though in the first place.

      And planting saplings along the route in the midst of winter. Very novel. And now expired. Ex-saplings. They have ceased to be. Presumably suggested by PwC or Deloittes who no doubt employ Councillor Backhandcash's relative and have shares in the sapling company. Unlike us mere saps the borough residents, who proudly have newly-introduced traffic snarl-ups and the necessity of setting out for work 15 minutes earlier each day to compensate. Something the Bury Councillors don't have to negotiate each morning to get to their ivory towers, with only piss-poor and expensive public transport as the alternative for us mere mortals.

      In fairness, the bit of the Village's new road as you pass by Farm Foods (on the way to the Cancer Research Charity shop near the Bury Hospice Charity Shop and Barclays Bank opposite the estate agents and hairdressers by the kebab shops and chicken shack near NatWest Bank, but not as far down as TSB Bank or the opticians - all part of the up-market "Village" atmosphere you will understand) I'm sure must get a 10 from Len.

      Saturday, 2 September 2017

      Do YOU understand your council? I don't.

      Councils are very hard to understand. I heard on the radio this morning that 7 million actions have been taken this year by council bin-snoop police throughout the country, many resulting in income for said councils in the form of fines. One lady in the midlands was fined £50 for throwing a jam jar into her full paper-cardboard recycle bin. They should be glad she recycles anything, given the shameful way the residents of our apartment block carry on! 

      Yes, councils continually cry poverty, yet pay very senior staff  a fortune (not the humble coal-face workers dealing with an often very-miffed public; I mean they pay a fortune to the ones with strings of meaningless letters after their name and who use just an initial and surname so you don't know whether they are a Mr, Mrs, Miss or a combination of all three. I mean, if you get a letter from "A Jobsworth" would you know whether they are a Mr, Mrs, Miss or a combination of all three?). 


      They come up with wonderful ideas such as wholesale traffic disruption (in Manchester, for examplr, Salford and Bury respectively having £800k to spare on the Great Clowes Street cycle-lane farce and £2million spare to turn Prestwich into the Kensington of the North). That's almost  £3million available on barn-pot schemes no one actually wanted or welcomed). 


      They collect vast fortunes in council tax from areas with very small council-spend footprints (blocks of flats - e.g. 80 units at £1,000 a year). They also collect a further fortune from the likes of car-parking taxes (parking AND fines), taxi driver licensing, business rates and various business licenses. And if you want, for example, to put up scaffolding, use a cherry picker or obtain leisure function permissions, yes, you guessed, you have to pay the council for a license.


      And then they wonder why, with a former mayor ["Gorgeous" George Galloway's bosom-buddy Lutfur Rahman - sheep of a fleece stick together] so crooked he used to have to come to work in a steam-press (prior to being banned for 5 years from holding public office) that Tower Hamlets council isn't taken seriously.

      Monday, 2 January 2017

      My predictions for 2017 . . . . .

      Well Happy New Year to one and all. Here are few predictions to keep you all on your toes:

      * The government will trigger Article 60 rather than Article 50 and the UK will head towards a very successful Breakfast, making cereal, tea and toast compulsory for all
      * A call-centre telephone welcome message will announce "calls may be recorded in case you the customer or we the supplier cock it all up"
      * And the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills will explain exactly what the "training purposes" are that altogether piss-poor call centres record telephone conversations for
      * Jeremy Corbyn will be elected Leader Hosen for Islington North and will make, as expected, a mess of flower-bed watering during the inevitable drought to be announced in July
      * Diane Abbott will agree to go on a John McDonnell-sponsored 'diet', but losing out in translation, will only realise, after spending £70 on Dylon, that it wasn't a 'dye it' he was suggesting. She will also be offered a Dameship in June but will be rather disappointed when this is accompanied by a matching script for Aladdin at the Almeida Theatre in Islington
      * President Donald Trump will get very annoyed when he overhears other G8 leaders discussing the schoolboy inference of the word "trump" behind his back
      * Some unbelievably talent-less shouty, screamy person singing like they have constipation and is trying to evacuate themselves will win X-Factor
      * Christmas decorations, selection boxes (with November sell-by date) and DFS Christmas sofas (complete with double-discount) will go on sale in July
      * Amazon will announce a series of virtual reality corporation tax payments and increased virtual reality wages for warehouse staff
      * The UN will accede to a takeover by Disney/Pixar and it will take Mickey Mouse and Buzz Lightyear a mere two months to successfully solve the entire current trench of crises in the Middle East
      * BBC news will employ a correspondent with a pronounceable name, no linguistic inhibitions and one who doesn't wave their arms around in time to every syllable they utter
      * John Kerry will be a special guest presenter on Radio 4's 'I'm sorry I haven't a clue', and he will be genuine about it. Totally clueless in fact
      * The Hamas leadership will give back some of the estimated $10billion they have misappropriated from world donations over the past 10 years to the people of Gaza for building schools and hospitals
      * Camelot will increase the number of balls in Lotto to 89, increase the price of tickets to £5 and increase the annual salary package of the Chief Executive to £4milion
      * The price of a walk-on, anytime return train ticket from Manchester to London will reduce to £40, providing you book three years in advance
      * The overpaid leaders of the two train Unions, ASLEEP and the PMT, decide to have a party . . . . . at least once a month, to celebrate the misery they cause passengers while pretending they care
      * Fuel will drop to 60p a litre (except for petrol and diesel)
      * To help city and town centre retailers combat both out of town shopping centres and the internet, car parking in towns and cities nationally will be free (between 1am and 6am at weekends)
      * RyanAir will introduce standing-only fares

      Thursday, 22 December 2016

      The word-abusing lunatics are taking over the language asylum

      A few years ago, some unbelievable, half-witted numbskull invented the altogether irritatingly meaningless term 'pre-loved'. As a term, it is so frighteningly and shamefully stupid that whoever invented it really needs to be either forced to re-sit a national English examination, or made to sit in a dark room and listen to a Little Mix interview played over and over again.

      A couple of years ago, the financial news correspondents on television and in newspapers were cock-a-hoop about the economy and banking institutions having, needing or wanting a 'haircut'. More meaningless nonsense. Unless there was an inference that the overpaid clots in finance who brought the UK to its knees in 2008 with their abject greed were barbers. Which is not really very fair to the purveyors of scissors and combs who attempt to keep the nation's hair in order.

      As 2016 comes to a close, those in the media and the people they interview have been busy-busy making 'binary' decisions or doing 'binary' things. More utter bull.

      Do these people not realise how stupid they appear to the ordinary users of normal, plain English? There is absolutely nothing clever about their usage of stupid, meaningless terms to dress up the oral rubbish they are peddling. They have totally lost the plot in acknowledging that a spade is simply nothing more than a spade.

      And all the interesting men with beards on TV and the equally interesting vegan anti-fracking women who speak a totally different form of English to the rest of us are now wittering on about 'post-truth'. Pardon? You may fool those who watch your antics on minority daytime TV programmes with nodding-dog presenters, but you are only fooling us in as much as we haven't a foggy clue what you are on about!

      Meanwhile the advertisers are attempting to look smart with their nonsensical/meaningless straplines, many of which rely on using the adjective "happy" as a noun. Gala Bingo with their "play happy", Rightmove with their "find your happy" and Jacobs with their "snack happy". The best of all, however, must be Febreze, a product specifically designed for no other reason than to part women from their money (when they could open a window in their house to far cheaper and equal freshening effect), not only suggests we "breathe happy" (whatever that means) but that we do it as a result of being "noseblind" (whatever that may be).

      However, the plaudit for nonsense and the award for 2016 crapology of the year has to go to agency J. Walter Thompson of London. They have beaten all the English language-abusers with the following unbelievably meaningless terms:
      vaginanomics
      un-tabooing of womanood
      techucation
      gamevertising
      Brexterity
      distilled fog

      new witches

      I can't offer you a monetary reward, but if anyone can explain any of the above, you are plainly a better bullcrap merchant that JWT.

      It's not pre-loved, it's not for a haircut and it it nothing to do with the off or on, zero or one function that is binary! And as for post-truth . . . . . . . 'tell lies happy'.