Friday, June 29, 2007

Half Way Mark

And he shall wither unto decrepitude when faced with the terrible mystery of the spheres

Half way is an interesting milestone for many things….
At the Round the Island - half way was St Catherine's point.
When I use the machinery in the Exercise Dungeon - halfway is a good milestone on the cross-trainer normally the 10 minute / 2 mile mark and I know it is metaphorically down hill from there.

One normally associates 'half-way' with reaching the summit, the pinnacle, the zenith of the endeavour. You have got the hard part out of the way and it is plain sailing.

Except when it comes to age.

Over the hill.

Past it.

Middle Aged.

On reflection - at my age, my parents generation were 'middle aged' at this point. They had children, slippers, and gave dinner parties for friends. They paid their mortgage and had a summer holiday.

But by most terms I am a 'kidult'.
Between sailing, flying, skiing, snowboarding, motorcycling, fiddling with electronic music, dashing around the country working for Big Grey and being a committed pseudo-chap politico blogger - I am wondering - have I actually got time to be middle aged?
I say half-way because as of Sunday I will be officially 'Nearly Forty'.
Thirty Nine years old.
I reckon about the half water mark for my span in this mortal coil - before I pull down the curtain and join the choir invisibule.
Interestingly, I didn't feel this way when I turned twenty nine. This is far more positive.

Thirty loomed terribly - but actually life got better and better.

You finally find out who you are, your finances sort themselves out and you learn to have a lot of fun in a way that in your 20s and before you are too self conscious to do.
So on reflection - the thirties have been fun. New hobbies and new friends, and a broken heart more than once. But certainly worth every booze drenched, tear soaked and laughter filled second.

My expectation is that forty will be even better.
Sure, there will be humps to get over and if the challenges thirty bought are anything to go by, then they will be huge. But the bigger the hill, the bigger the high.
You turn thirty in fear - for it is the time when you are supposed to have grown up. Turning forty is odd, because you have grown up and if you don't like yourself by now - you never will.
Turning forty is actually good fun, because you get to hoon about without shame as it is your fortieth birthday.
Thirty is the training ground for forty.
Forty is the New Thirty (In the same way that Black is the new err... Black)
On reflection - it is downhill. But not in a bad way. You get as much fun, you just won't have to pedal as hard.

I for one am looking forward to accelerating away with it all. The pressure of being thirty-something wanes - and by now you stop caring what people think… is in a way liberating.
Bring it on.
One year to go until out come the slippers, pipe and lawnmower (Can you really see me doing that?)
Hop on for the ride gang, scream if you want to go faster.

Just when you thought I was cynical......

The tone is set......

Car Bomb in London

I like the bit about it being packed with 60 litres of petrol - or as we normal people call it a 'full tank.'
Gas tanks - Scuba diver? Welder?
Nails - Builder?

I'm waiting for someone to point out that gram for gram petrol is explosive as dynamite.

There is something not quite right about this picture.

You would need a lot of C4 to blow up a gas cylinder, and your yield would make it unworthy.
If you had the plastique to set off the cylinder, then you may as well use it for the nails. Any trainee jihadist worth his prayer mat knows that the best expanding solid with a high-ex initiator would be flour or custard powder.
For chrissakes, there was even a programme about it on Horizon in the 80's.

Even the provos knew how to do this - if you can get the initiators, you either use High-Ex to shatter and disperse (Nail Bombs from the 80's) or Mid-Ex for expansion and collateral damage.
(Baltic Exchange)

Gas Cylinders are a Hollywood FX.

Now - I wonder.

What bad news are they burying....?

Or...just another excuse to keep the climate of fear going......

We have woken up in Terry Gilliam's Brazil.

The era of spin is over. Get set for total news and thought control.

Don't ask yourself 'Am I paranoid' - but ask 'Am I Paranoid Enough?'

Seems I was wrong...........seems the IED scheme here is popular in Blair's 'Nam....

Oh dear, seems that Fred Carnoe's circus has taken up Jihading in style. Two dodgy car bombs (sans accelerant - or detonator.....) Then the stunt straight out of a Sky Two 'Hollywood's silliest stunts' exercise in Glasgow (convenient that, eh? In Scotland - time to have a poke at that Salmond prick) ends in heroic handy fire extinguisher episode of 'have a go passenger' or as I read it - part of film crew.....

Sorry this stinks. Keep us scared. I can hear the failed teacher and the rest of Gordo's sock puppets desperately pushing for even more illiberal measures.

Yes, CJ

A striking comment from the comments section on an article from today's Torygraph...(Go find it...)
Who remembers Sunshine Desserts?

The similarities are stunning - we have CJ at the helm - the helm of a sinking ship blindly carrying on as if nothing was wrong.
Surrounded by yes-men and simperers all grateful for his munificence.

'I didn't get where I am today by waiting in the wings for 10 years, Reggie!'

'No, CJ'

Reliably informed

That the post on political compasses I put up is exceptionally old news.
I agree - I've known about it for years - but some of my newer readers may not.

Please feel free to spam me with up to date political opinions, surveys and the like while I go and Vote for Lloyd George. He knew my father, apparently.

Or was it the other way round.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Politcal climes

A well wisher sent me this .....
Certainly got me pondering - and moreover remembering......
Personally I see myself as a libertarian - but I am not one for ideologies - the less big ideas, the better and let us all carry on with carving out our own niche.
(I actually recall getting stuck into a fairly weighty discussion over whether or not rejecting the concept of Ideology is in fact an ideology)

But give this a go:

Political Compass

I will be interested in my readerships comments on where they lie......

I'm 5.4 to the Right, -6 down Libertarian - meaning I am in the bottom right of the compass - more libertarian than anything else.

Driving Miss Daisy

Good post over at Sigismund to take our mind off the Soviet nonsense going on at the Kremlin - sorry Downing street...... clearly he is going for a script writer job for Mr Clarkson.

One build - take away the engine, and replace it with having to rely on natural atmospherics to stay aloft and you kind of have the gliding thing. Still have to do map works, radios, dodge other planes zipping about at cloud base and the nearest thing to a carrier launch in civvy street.
I do agree - some of us can navigate and communicate whilst aviating / driving.

Other news:

Chicken Yog has a good point on the Blair legacy. Here.

Fez doffed affectionately to the The Sultry Journalist..

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The New Soviet

Whilst the Brownites of my readership are no doubt gloating over the turncoat (who's name I will not publish) who crossed the floor - I would like to point out some similarities.

He clearly does not hear the people - for he fears them - why else would he insist that he should not stand for reelection - unless he fears the ire of those who voted him in.
A bit like the coronation of Dear Leader, what?

But welcome to the New Soviet.

Expect more taxes on those of us who actually generate rather than consume wealth - for in the eye of the one eyed, only state spending is worthwhile.
Expect the client state to expand so we are all grateful for his munificence.
Expect even more rigorous controls on freedom of movement - it is for our own safety/good/carbon footprint (delete as appropriate). It may be road charging - but if they can track us effectively enough to charge us for it, expect every possible moving traffic violation to be hardwired.
Expect more curtailment of individual freedom for our own good - like ID cards.
Expect more powers of the state to intervene in our lives.
Expect the cowardly dead tree brigade to continue their toadying - they are no better than Pravda or Trud.
Expect more meaningless targets and statistics - they will want us to believe we are happier, even when credit card Britain goes credit card bust - it will only be those evil landowners who steal housing (And other Daily Mirror shite) who suffer.

Welcome to The United Socialist State of Britain.

You will rue this day, for the lights of liberty are going out over this country - we may not see them lit again for a decade.

PS: A tenner on Kinnock being in the cabinet!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Round The Island - a review

I think the key learning here is on drills.

Upwind - our drills were fine, the bow team soon synched to the Pit crew and it was slick throughout the day.

Challenge was on the gybes. We had the flat storm kite, so that made handling a bit easier - but we needed better coordination from sheets and guys to the bow-men.
My chief recommendation would be to swap roles for the day and spend some time playing clutches and pole dangling to get a feel for everything.
Then we work up a coordinated routine that allows for the unclip / reclip to work without losing power through the eye of the gybe.

Other than that - we worked well as a scratch crew.

When we have sorted the photos out on Flickr I'll send a link.

Hamster wheel beckons.......

Monday, June 25, 2007

Round The Island update....2 Post race analysis

Nose at the hamster wheel rather a lot this morning (at least two pissing contests coming in as many days).

I have a stack of reflections on the race at the weekend - and I intend to put a fairly weighty post up about it.

Quick run-down though:

13th in Class, less than 30 minutes off the pace, 15 minutes from podium - statistically - just on a 5% variance in performance over the duration, 2% separating us from the podium.

30th In Blue Fleet - IRC class 0.970 or below

177th Overall from 1735 registered competitors, 1550+ finishers, we DNFs and incomplete time penalties / line recalls and usual shouting at the protest meetings.

Improvement of 78 positions since previous RTIR we completed - for a scratch crew this is a laudable achievement - not only to complete but to be just that competitive - we had to be getting a lot of it right.

Quick reflection - how deep must we dig to get that 2%?

Will give an update later - but special thanks to Ralph, Paul, Francois, Maggie, Liz and Susan for making Saturday THE race of the year!

Images copyright. JP Morgan RTIR

Friday, June 22, 2007

Round The Island update....

Us. Tomorrow.

Bloody Marvellous, we've had the sheet blocks plus kite pole downhaul lifted from the boat.

Not a good start.

At least Ace-Helm is down there and in the chandlers as I sit in my office and type.

Unfortunately fate has decreed I am a 100 miles from the barky - so I will be last aboard.

The upside is that the gang will have prepped the boat for sea, and be ready to slip when I arrive.

The downside......... nope. Sorry. Can't see one.

Holiday reading

I have a loud hailer as well, lest my audience try and flee.
Yes, I know it is strictly the Aegean, and the Dodecanese but it's a tradition, OK?


Some of my dear readers are blessed with knowing me in Real Life - as in outside the Interweb.

They know that I normally lead a life of peaceful contemplative solitude, interspersed with high adventure - but chiefly that my domestic arrangements are ones of clean simplicity as I immerse my self in the noble self discipline of an uncluttered existence.

But, alas, there is a slow creeping hegemony going on. As relentless as the tide, it marches it's fripperous way into my life, and it's sinister tendrils invade my pristine existence with the dark and malevolent forces of no-good-at-all.

It started simply. A woman moves in to my spare room - a damsel in distress and I am duty bound to assist.
But that carries risks, you see. Not only have the wine glasses been turning up on the wrong shelf - but other things arrive.

Unauthorised things.

Decorative items.



Oh, it all starts innocent enough. The special decorative olive oil thing in the kitchen.
Fabric softener for the electric laundry unit.

Then there are the bottles.

Creams oils and unguents for the bathroom, multicoloured vials containing I know not what.

I let all this go with a resigned smile - I must be accommodating and I do wish my house guest to feel at home.
But as sure as a lioness marks her scent, there are markers, cropping up.

The surest sign I noticed this morning as I took my cold shower, applied the dettol to the wire brush and set about my thinning locks with the vosene.

In special holders.
In the Bathroom.

I stood as one thunderstruck when the terrible realisation dawned - and my soul filled with cold dread.

It Is A Slippery Slope.
The Thin End Of The Wedge.

I leaped from the shower and instantly logged on to wiki to confirm my worst fears.

A Woman's Touch.

It is only going to get worse. Now I have a particular friend visiting for tea and sandwiches on occasion, I am fairly certain that this is indeed the Thin End Of The Wedge.

A grim future awaits - scatter cushions, fabric softener, mood lighting and 'Coordinated Interiors'.

Is it any wonder us chaps have Sheds?

Coo err gosh......

befor you kno it you ar under the spel of GURLS

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Just a thought

If we are all (If the Brownite toadies in the MSM are to be believed) gazing into the glorious sunlit uplands of the wonders of Gordo's Britain - why would he feel the need to offer Northern Ireland to Lord Pantsdown?
Cynical ploy to upstage the Lib Dumbs or an attempt to try offset the old West Lothian Q and gather a mandate from the few LD seats south of the border.

Fuel for the Blogsphere, methinks.

St Boris, again

Watching St Boris on Question time: Blair should be Our Man In Bagdhad.


Blood and Glory

It has come round again.

The time for the loyalest of my crew to 'play up, play up and play the game.'

At six am on Saturday morning we will cross the line at the largest yacht race in the world.

Ourselves and 1,600 other boats will treat the Isle of Wight as a large roundabout in the JP Morgan Round The Island Race 2007.

For nine hours we will brave the gusts and thunderstorms forecast as we thunder around the course with professionals, Corinthians, amateurs, have a gos and entertained clients in the melee.

A day messing about on boats:

The furious tacking duels to the line with the enemy a biscuit's toss off our transom...

The mad beat down past Gurnard, Newtown, Yarmouth Roads and Hurst narrows.....

The white knuckle ride through the gap by the Vargassi wreck and into the Freshwater bay...

The furious snap of the sheets as we speed hoist the spinnaker

Blood and sea water on the Forecastle as we gybe like dervishes towards the luff point at St Catherines in the back eddies.....

Eyes squinting into the sky as we concentrate on trim and exhaust ourselves with tension...

Cold tactics and judgement in Whitesands and the chase towards Bembridge ledge....

Avoiding the shifting Ryde sands and the line astern chase through Osborne Bay and the Shrape....

Running on nervous energy alone as we reach towards the finish line hunting for position.....

Wet elation as we cross the line and cue for the prize barge to collect our tankard and usual goody bag of chapstick, torch and other promotional tat....

Quiet satisfaction as we fold rain soaked sails away and sodden cups of tea and salt water sandwiches as we hunt for a slot in Cowes.....

Plasters for blistered hands....

Tablets for soreheads and tired muscles....

Bilgewater, diesel and urine filling salt crusted noses as the adrenaline wears off and we shelter
below as those with an ounce of strength bring us alongside....

The quiet satisfaction of being there and doing it....

To the uninitiated it is just a boat race.

To those on deck - we are Hornblower, Jack Aubrey, Cochrane and Nelson himself as we battle the elements and chase glory under a cloud of sailcloth.

Every sodden, cold and nerve wrenching second worth it for that grin of the bowman from under his storm hat and the download of our results on Sunday evening.

Monday morning black blue and still bone tired and passing your stiffened gait with the weekend excuses as 'Just Sailing.'

See you on the water for a day of the chops of the channel, action, blood, glory and treasure.

To my crew our orders are simple:

Close and Engage the Enemy. Sink, Burn or Take as a Prize.

Big Brother

I was staying with some particular friends of mine last night who are very dear to me. However, they do insist on watching Big Brother.

So - due to circumstances utterly beyond my control, I endured an episode.

This has broken my moratorium on the show and now I feel unclean.

Blood on the Carpet - again

One should always be wary of 'timed' announcements and formal 'briefings'.
Other than the requisite calling on the buzzword bingo - it normally means that there Will be polythene sheets on the floor to stop the carpet being ruined.

We knew it was coming.
The fact of Big Grey shedding 68% of the team for which I grind merrily away at the millstone, is part of horror the of grubby, commercial, paid employment. (Outside the Public Sector, of course, where you can be a workshy unemployable slob and still be unsackable and live off my taxes until you die)

Being enlightened souls, rather than do what people would have done 20 years ago (Go on strike, picket and generally act like a firm can magic money out of nowhere and it's existence is there to serve our shallow ends) we all decide to take the money stick, up two fingers and flee the clutches of Big Grey.

I for one cannot wait.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Chap's Vacation

At last!
I have finally organised something approaching a summer holiday for myself.
Details, are of course at this stage, highly classified. However it can be certain to contain the following 'features':
Lording it up over grateful natives
Lantern Jawed Determination on the High Seas
Sweltering in desert-like heat
Eating food as yet unknown to man.

As it is likely to be both South and East of Gibraltar, I will be required to dig out my Tropical Kit.
Sandals - whilst normally the preserve of fundamentalist Christians and Hirsute Environmentalists - will be certainly be de-rigeur at least for day wear.

However - standards being what they are - one should dress appropriately for functions at the local High Commission, dinners with the obsequious mayor, negotiations with the Pasha Bey or leading the local rebels to the latest Coup d'etat.
(Point worthy of note here to my more political readers - one attends these things in the station to which one is naturally appointed - not brandishing pitchforks nor toting the requisite AK47 but Genteelly trotting up to the front of the line aloft one's white charger and issuing one's demands to El Presidente in perfect RP English: 'I'm sorry Old Chap, game's up - the lads here have taken the TV station and want your head on a plate - If I were you old son, I'd leave the Krugerand, take the memsahib and scarper - for they grow fractious by the minute...)

This calls for pristine starched whites, tan sam-browne, tan Brogues and my finest tropical Pith Helmet. the Nile medal and the Chelengk always impresses the local pashas as well.

I have already sent them off to the laundry for extra pressing and have selected my Steward for the Voyage.
More updates to follow. Have already started re-reading The Ionian Mission for inspiration.

In a Twist of Fate....

Rather Bizarrely, the Sultry Journalist is slithering her way around a conference in the Frozen Wastes, ('oop North) cutting deals, wheeling, dealing, ducking and if I be as bold to venture - diving; where as I am stuck in South London writing turgid copy for an in-house publication.

Obviously without the Gala Luncheons and friends in the 'Media' - but other than that, a role reversal of sorts!

Speaking of the Fourth estate - everyone will have seen the 'Go To Work On An Egg' thing being banned, with usual rent-a-quotes wheeled out by the MSM and the dead-tree brigade. My fave quangocrat was the bod from the Egg Information Board. It brought to mind my favourite quango - here.

Look 'em up - can anyone beat that?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Which French Stereotype are you?

I AM THE TEMPERAMENTAL CHEF! Which French Stereotype Are You?

You have a tidy white uniform with a red scarf and a silly white hat. When you are in a good mood, you kiss your fingers with a flourish. When you are in a bad mood, you chase ungrateful customers with a meat cleaver.

I throw my chef's hat at Sigismund in disgust!
Zis Sauce is Shit! Shit! Shit! Ze Hollaindaise is curdled! Your eggs are over poached and your carrots are like sticks of wood! Get out of my kitchen - you should dig roads, your 'ands are not fit to peel potato!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Welsh Film Festival

I'm Welsh enough to get away with this....

9½ Leeks
Trefforest Gump
The Lost Boyos
An American Werewolf in Powys
Huw Dares Gwyneth
Dai Hard
The Wizard of Oswestry
Cool Hand Look-you
Sheepless in Seattle
The Eagle has Llandudno
The Magnificent Severn
Haverfordwest Was Won
Austin Powys
The Magic Rhonddabout
Independence Dai
The Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysilio gogogoch That Time Forgot
Seven Brides from Seven Sisters
Welsh Connection
Welsh Connection II
The Bridge on the River Wye
Lawrence of Llandybie
A Beautiful Mind-you
The Welsh Patient
The King and Mair
The Sheepshag Redemption
Breakfast at Taffynys
Look You Back in Bangor
Evans Can Wait
A Fishguard Called Rhondda
Where Eagles Aberdare

and my personal favourite........

Dial M For Merthyr

Carbolic for the gums

I shall soon gargle with TCP, wash with Coal Tar Soap and use Vosene for that authentic Carbolic aroma.

The Cultural Chap

As part of the Treaty Stuck with the The Sultry Journo Chap here was obliged to make an attendance at the The Royal Academy .

Now, despite what my detractors would maintain - there is more to my current brand of Chappism than Lantern Jawed Resolution On The High Seas, Steely-Eyed-Determination in the cockpit of an aeroplane, collecting cellars full of unique fine wines and unfashionable politics.

As a renaissance chap - one can effortlessly glide from the engine rooms of the wheels of industry to the halls of high artistic self indulgence and elitist excellence - even if at most times the latter appears to be little else other than trade fairs for bores, the self important and raving homosexuals.

And so, with requisite black top, slightly fashionable stubble and some sturdy brogues for reassurance, one set to sully forth with a winning smile and the rakish charm necessary for coping with ART.

Many good, plenty indifferent, a few atrocious items and the place was rammed full of theatrical types and an awful lot of totty - even if a few of them did have that dreadful art-school attempt at looking gut wrenchingly fashionable but instead appeared like they had been to a charity shop with their eyes closed. (A fine line, I grant you.)

My name is Rio......

One area that caught my eye was the Light Installations. In particular one drew a smile to my face.
Sultry Journo caught my smile. I offered an explanation.

'It reminds me of a hotel I stay at in Frankfurt. Same Neon Tubes and Same Mirrors to produce cubes. '
'There's a place like that In Edinburgh..' She offered, somewhat intellectually.
'Be that as it may,' I said 'But it is still like waking up in Duran Duran video.'

I received a look which clearly indicated I was slipping into Fogey mode and it was clearly time to check out the 3D works - where my cynicism could be more easily overwhelmed.

All in all - it was rather fun - loathe as I am to confess as such.

The next stage of the cultural exchanges (having being threatened with something a 'bit more challenging') is my turn. I have already exposed her to Aviating. I have now to ratchet up the stakes a bit.
We are already competing at the Chap Olympics - so the only option left is to spend an evening with the Hellfire monks raising demons.
I hope she likes Chicken Blood - it is a bit of an acquired taste (like my lasagna) but the Brothers can be rather insistent.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We told you so!

Andrew Marr converts to Thatcherism

This must really stick in the craws of those of you out there who still cling on to the ridiculous notions of planned economies, statism and the like.
For a dried up old MSM Leftie like Marr to well, frankly, Adore St Mags is delightful.

As ever, the Right won the economic arguments and as yet another Socialist Administration collapses under 10 years of misrule - you will all see that we were right all along.

Oh - and if you disagree - think about your mortgage, owning your own home, financial freedom and the fact that you don't live under Soviet Communism and then try and work out what would have happened if Callaghan had won in '79.
Arthur and the digger-boys may still be digging coal - but you would still have to wait three months to own a telephone, and you would buy your hoover from the Electricity Board Shop.....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

High giggle factor

These were pointed out to me by a Sultry Journalist who managed to use them to make me giggle my way out of a terribly high powered meeting.


T'North - again

More time in the Frozen wastes.

I am vexed to say I am an not at my usual hotel. I am having to stay at one of those ghastly chains. You know the sort - every room identical, formula menu that smacks of an early TGI Friday attempt at appearing folksey, and a wine list guaranteed to deliver a dyspeptic episode so severe that one is utterly incapable of delivering the kind of commanding presence needed to provide the locals with the kind of leadership they crave.
It says a great deal about the restaurant that 80% of the covers are tables for one - and they feel that catering for the baser form of commercial traveller is a route to success.

It is even more unpleasant to know that the very act of my presence here has a consequences which alone makes my bowels quiver.

I shall not say the name of the chain - suffice to say I am indirectly enriching a vapid airhead layabout who is currently languishing in a colonial institute of correction - where, if justice exists in any corner of this world, she is learning about some of the baser realities of single sex institutions.

On this individual - one does draw comfort from the name with which she was bestowed. The gentleman who provided the riches may have acumen beyond the grasp of many - but naming one's daughter after a branch is a little unimaginative.
It would be like me having a son, and naming him 'Bedfordshire'. This alone proves to me that even the filthy rich or very successful are as capable as I - the common chap - of acts of stupidity too.

A crumb of comfort in my travails is that I am taking my team of loyal vassals out to dinner. This will mean plying them with strong Yorkshire ales, pies, steamed puddings and the like - whilst I bask in their adoration. I shall be drinking water - or if pushed Pimms. My lessons learned about what happens if one over imbibes.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mode S Transponders

Does anyone have access to the technical data and feeds these give to ATC?
Am I correct in understanding that these are designed to switch to Galileo?

And take the kite to heaven and back!

Well, not quite - but I took the kite up for a second time on Sunday to an eye watering launch from a new winch driver.
Normally the old crate rotates smoothly as I move through 45-50 Knots and I ease her into a steady climb, with best climb of 45 degrees and about 60 knots.
It is a process which is gentlemanly, serene and you carve your path skywards in an arc that would make Darcy Bussel smile.

Not this time.

Massive cable snatch and I'm doing 50 knots on the ground run.
She desperately pulls at me as I rotate. 65 Knots.
Main climb - 70knots and rising fast. Controls feeling heavy
300 feet - 80 knots - still accelerating. Now overspeed. Normal drill is to ease her forward to drop the torque on the engine. I do so - she accelerates to 90 knots.
Now on the edge of the safe envelope, wing struts physically groaning.
Sorry chaps, this won’t do at all.

Pull emergency cable break, nose forward to flying speed, the G load drops off completely and the detritus lying around the glider floats to the top of the canopy as for a brief moment the glider and I are in free fall - when the training kicks in - Approach speed, trim, look out, location - select safe field prep for rough landing.
Feels like 500 feet and not enough runway ahead. Glance at the altimeter confirms 500 feet, turn down wind, abbreviated circuit - to land short in diamond at the end of the grass run.
Turbulent approach, some curl over from the fields - but a gentle float and hold off and a short ground run.

All this in under a minute.

The recovery cart trundles over as I sit with the lid open, taking in the summer's afternoon.

'Bit robust was it?' said the dear girl on the cart.
'Somewhat - I think the winchie has had too many weetabix. I shall radio him in good time and feedback that it was a little brisk.'

On a lighter note - the Sultry Journalist got a bit of aviating in.

Remember - human life is split between those who fly, and those who wish they could.
Now you see why birds sing…?

Friday, June 08, 2007

And this my dear....

The presence of a lady visitor this weekend means I will have apply some heavy duty domestic engineering.
Bins Empty - check.
Heads clean enough so that the Virgin Mary would be proud to park breakfast there - check.
Battleships in the Bathroom removed - check.
Fizz on ice - check.
Lodger bribed to make herself and dog scarce - check.
Extensive collection of Indonesian Gentleman's Pictorials in loft - check.
Record collection nonchalantly yet carfeully displayed - check.
Strategic pail of water placed just so (Let me get you out of those wet clothes) - check.
Industrial floor adhesive - check.

You can picture it now:
And this my dear - is the eastern conservatory and arboretum. I'm afraid house rules insist upon nudity. You may find it quite 'liberating'.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Withdrawal Symptoms

It is often the absence of something which shows one just how dependant one has become.
Currently - my work email gateway is down and I am going stir crazy. I can't mail my other offices, family, suppliers, contractors, or chums.
The upside is that I can focus all my creative talents to my work.

Oh Joy.

This is why we have Trident

Fez Doff to theo.

Let's make Sandwiches

You Are a Club Sandwich

You are have a big personality. It's hard for anyone to ignore you!

You dream big. You think big. And you eat big.

Some people consider you high maintenance, but you just know what you want... and when you want it.

Your best friend: The Tuna Fish Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Warning on Wine bottles

I'm with St Boris of Henley on this.
Despite my state last night and how I feel this morning. I am adult enough to know it was all my fault and that no nannying from the government would have made any difference.

I do feel this is the augur of things to come. There is a fundamental shift in the liberties of the individual that has been sold to the public as 'for it's own good'.

Our movements are tracked, monitored and we will be charged for it.

Our money now belongs to Gordo and it is his munificence alone which allows us to spend it on what his grandees think is safe for us to consume.

We are assets of the state, and woe betide if we care not for those assets.

Our liberty is at the sufferance of the state, and it can be removed at any time without warning - and it's agents can enter our homes at will and detain us on suspicion alone.

The infrastructure of oppression has been slowly built up around us - how long until we need the governments permission to go to the seaside? It will be sold as our carbon ration - but how different is it in outcome to movement restrictions over the good old Soviets?

We were lulled into a warm blanket of social justice by Blair - and we awake under the jackboot of Brown.

Be very, very afraid.

Lessons from T'North

Life's rich tapestry has ways of teaching you little lessons. They normally come when you are off your guard and catch you quite unawares. After all - does nemesis not always follow hubris?

1. Human Resources.
Try what you will - it is the innate programming of HR to seek to discombobulate one's wits to the extent you let slip juicy nuggets of information. Duplicity is their nature - which is why they are always depicted as cats.
Even if they are being pleasant - they will ply one with drink anyway if nothing else to see what happens.

2. Electric Telephones.
A fool and his phone are always attached. Never a good idea if one is suffering from any degree of discombobulation howsoever caused. Do not make telephone calls, especially not where a degree of sensitivity or circumspection is required. You will regret it.

3. Breakfast.
Always eat hearty when you can - especially before going into action. If you see the Chief Executive munching his brekky, do not speak to him. Or make eye contact.
(Oh gosh sir, yor eg is all runy)

I have fallen foul of lessons 1 and 2. Fortunately my judgement was intact enough to avoid lesson 3.

The clever souls here in York sell Alka Seltzer in Ye Olde Staffe Shoppe.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


As you know I think she was a rather splendid lass.
Continuing the post from across on at the Lefty Journalist

Three Things good about Maggie:

1.) Broke the Union strangehold on industry
2.) Won the Cold War with The Great Communicator
3.) Turned us from an economy worse than Greece in 1979 - to the 4th largest in the world....

Dive in chaps.....

PS: Sigismund - is the 88 HCDB still drinking well? Failing that Alphonses' Gen XIX would be a treat.....

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My 100th Post.


Fez doffed at Poor Little Greek Chap for providing me suitable material for my Century Post.

A worrying trend

As my more regular readership are aware - I have taken in a lodger. She is a delightful little ray of sunshine - and like a butterfly - needs no excuses.
Up until very recently chez-chap has been a bit of a building site. No sooner had I resolved the issues with that, when she - a damsel in distress and a chum - required lodgings for her and the dog (you've seen what he looks like).

Now, I am a laid back sort of cove. I am slow to ire and I bear the hardships of life with a stoical grimace of a norm. But having someone else in one's abode does place restrictions - and one has to accommodate people in the name of harmony. However up with some things I will not put.

I don't mind a dog the size of a car slobbering everywhere and whining at my door at 2 am.

I don't mind all the kitchen utensils being rearranged to allow her things into the drawers.

I don't mind the cupboards filling not with the scented goods of Araby or the Levante - but instant mash and the like.

I don't mind someone moving in then going to Ibiza straight afterwards leaving their things everywhere.

I don't mind not being able to pad about the place in my glory.

I don't mind having to make arrangements for privacy should my caddish ways extend to inviting Lady Visitors (fat chance) over to inspect the finer points of my record collection and swap tasting notes on the latest batch of ready Burgundy (Really my dear, is that the time? And I cannot drive -I insist you stay....)

I don't mind the stark clean modernist lines of my bathroom vanishing under a deluge of bottles unguents, potions and sanitary hardware.

I even can live with the prospect of the rails and radiators festooning themselves with ladies underthings. (Feel free to insert your own perversion here)

What I do mind is this.
Spotted - with the large double pallet worth of unstowed dunnage living in my lounge space between sitting area and record wall - a Karaoke Machine.

Would it be cruel to take the fuse out, thereby rendering it mysteriously inoperable, yet undamaged with conscience clear?

Her good, my amusement. Or rather, sanity.

Bread and Circuses

This has got me very annoyed..... it smacks of republicanism at it's most odious.

We could celebrate:

St George's Day (Where George saved the world)
Trafalgar Day (Where Nelson saved the world)
Waterloo Day (Where We Saved the world)
Armistice Day (Where we saved the world)
Battle of Britain Day (Where we saved the world)
D-Day (Where we saved the world)
VE Day (Where we saved the world)
VJ Day (Where the Americans saved the world, but it was our idea)

But the idea of us celebrating an achievement like this doesn't appeal to them, as it might make someone who was descended from those we saved the world from, feel bad about trying to have it their way - or the smack of us wanting a bit of gratitute for expending the flower of three generations on the field whislt bankrupting ourselves for fifty years - and it is important that we feel bad about saving the world, as we sould have done it by diversity outreach or inclusivity seminars.

So instead, lets create a new one - shall we call 'National Diversity Day'. Everyone except the dull white, middle class, middle aged and balding tax payers gets a day off.
A parade, extra benefits for all those attending!
Red Ken gets to stand at a podium and floats celebrating diversity trundle past him while he takes the salute.

It's one short step to having ICBMs on trucks, thousands of tanks and hordes of outreach coordinators goosestepping past him.

Go away and make something work for once you pointless bunch of failed social workers and human rights laywers.

Olympic Logo

As you know the 'brand' has been released. I can't be bothered to reproduce it, as it is already speading across the blogoshpere like crabs in a convent.
It needs a phrase. Please select one of those below - and send it to the chimps running the show.

- Car Crash
- Stench of Death
- Failure writ large
- Camel vs Horse
- Ship of Fools
- Hubristic waste of money in the grand style of kelptocracies and other personality cult politics.
- All of the above.

I have seen Primary school collages depicting Guernica looking better.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Le Weekend Pt II - or Hullo Clouds...Hullo Sky...

As you, dear reader know, I am learning to fly. Or rather - glide.

Gliding is to flying as sailing is to power-boating. Any idiot can (an does) charge about the Solent with a bloody great engine and cause all sorts of mayhem. Sailing involves harnessing nature in a genteel battle of man versus elements to man's advantage - with a fair degree of aplomb and, well, civility. Safe in the knowledge of our credentials as thus - us 'rag and stick' types bimble about at a third of the speed of power boaters but without the smell and diesel fumes.

Such it is with gliding.

Any fool can burn 100 octane (yum) and get from A to B at whim.

But to be pinged up to a scrimby 1100 feet on a giant rubber band and then to harness the nature and her atmosphere to remain aloft without any source of power takes finesse.

As part of having the joy of using a cheap aeroplane from the club I am obliged to do my duty and spend a day per month working airside. This involves standing on a grass runway with a first aid trailer, a 1950's bus and a couple of radios running an airfield for a morning.

As the sun shone bright in Cambridgeshire today and my duty called I spent the morning singeing myself in a field with the world and his wife launching aeroplanes from a double winch and two tug aeroplanes pulling people skyward to slip the surly bonds.

Lots of sunshine.

Atmospherics, though, dictated that despite the sunny weather it was not terribly thermic. I shall not drone on about the intricacies of gliding weather. Suffice to say that the morning was 'blue'. In ground speak - it was sunny, but if there were thermals, they were not being indicated by cumulus. Cloud Spotters check here

So for my shift, all the regular sky-gods launched and came home again shortly afterwards as the lava-lampesque bubbles of lift were not happening.

Therefore my morning was lots of take offs and landings and lots of time talking to tugs, winches, pilots and plenty of tango-alpha-charlie speak.

I clocked off and baton passed to my oppo for the afternoon. Sent a runner to the office for a bottle of juice and a BLT and pondered my fate.

My next grade in this course of events requires minimums.

A minimum 50 solo flights.
A minimum of two flights of at least 30 minutes from a winch launch
A minimum of one one hour flight for my cross country licence.... plus other things.

Chief thing was I need numbers, and I was expecting to do three to five circuits and build them numbers.
Come 14.00, I was off shift and ready to aviate. Cable and winch issues delayed me further.
Twenty minutes sitting and sweltering finally bore fruit and it was my turn to fly.

It was a robust 2 G launch, very nearly overspeeding and she tried to over-rotate (lethal).

A bit of hunting through 800 feet, but by 1100, I had all I was going to get off the launch and ejected the cable and went hunting.
Being fresh and untired, my flying was accurate, and I was able to concentrate of lift hunting. I found it....just over the wood yards at 900'. It was only a knot, but low down - and these things accelerate as the height goes up.

Accurate flying meant that I could centre in the strongest lift - which grew to a full three knots by 2000 feet.

I held it until she became ragged at about 3600' on the upwind edge of a large cumulus. Cloud base was variable - and I had that magic glimpse of a cloud side on as I banked away up wind to enjoy my height and see if there was more lift to be had.

A good twenty minutes pootling around and I needed another climb.

Joined a chum in a club glider who was sniffing around at about 1500 under a flat bottomed cloud. Soon we were circling each other like a pair of vultures over a political career and climbing at a steady 4 knots....only to be joined by another three aircraft - all sharing the same tube of lift - we had our own gaggle.

I stayed up for over a hour in the end - a personal best.

One of the things that keeps me coming back to aviation is that despite the expense, work, and sheer frustration - it vanishes when you behold the sublime beauty of the sky.

Hullo Clouds

Le Weekend Pt I

I managed to get to Worcester on Saturday for my friend Jeff's 40th Birthday.
Jeff is an old biker chum - and I bumped into bods I knew from the days of when I charged about Ascot on a 125cc bike and was involved with MAG - Motorcycle Action Group. It had been at least 10 years since I had seen some of these fellows, and it was very pleasant - despite the 2 hour drive.
Jeff is a somewhat peculiar fellow. He has pretensions to sexual deviancy and transvestism - neither of which I hold against him
On arrival he greeted me - and I presented him with a bottle of Pink Champagne.
'PINK champagne?' he said.
'I was hoping it would match your shoes'.
He chuckled, then paused.
'Let me show you this.....' he said with a knowing leer....
He started to lead me up his garden path to cat calls and cheers from the assembled crowd - who resembled a Biker reunion.
We reached his garden shed with a door marked 'Gents'.
'Check this out!'
The door opened to a tool shed with a white net curtain covering the tools and a chemical cassette toilet - the sort one finds on narrow boats.
The shed not only had a chemical loo - but a large rusty wire brush on a small table, a drill with sanding attachment, several sheets of sandpaper and an old gas bottle resprayed and labelled 'Industrial-air-freshener.'
'Behold, My Shed!'
I paused as i beheld the magnificence laid before me.
'Cottaging for the home, Jeff.'
'Absolutely - with hi-grade cleansing materials.'
'I expect your gusset to be lemon fresh, old boy.'
'It will be.'
'Is it fully functioning ? The facilities, not your gusset of course.....'
'I salute your temerity - and I give joy to you for your lavatorial ingenuity!'
'Yes, well may as well get a head of pressure before one has to oblige this place.'
'Good man!'
He may be 40 - but Jeff is, at heart, still a schoolboy.

Just like the rest of us.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Today, I am free

It makes me sick when I work as hard as I do, knowing that today is Tax Freedom Day .

Fez-doff to The poor little greek boy for sharing this depressing moment.

I am going out to get spectacularly drunk to celebrate - anyone fancy coming?

Strategic Incompetence

On rare occasions one loses one's sang-froid. This manifests it self normally if one has been out of reach of the laudanum bottle for a while and the old juices start their crave and one's temper starts to fray.

My giving up tobacco probably contributes.

What frays my tether more than anything else is the idiotic getting in my way of slithering around like the stainless steel snake that I am and allowing me to create the appearance of effortless caddishness.
What good is the winning smile, the gleam in the eye and the softly spoken nugget of filth if it looks like one has been seen paddling like billio under the surface to achieve this grace like state of rakish charm?

It lets the side down, chaps, it lets the side down.

I recently had occasion to procure the services of a purveyor of plant blooms for delivery to addresses in London.
Not, I assure you, in some tawdry attempt to apologise for a crime - oh no - more, shall we say, to lay the ground work for the leading astray of a young lady unused as yet to the wiles of my dubious charms.
As my acquainted readers know - once the trap is set, there is no escape and the inexorable drive to depravity and moral turpitude is as inevitable as a French Air Traffic strike on a Bank Holiday.

One would naturally assume that as such an adventure is the very meat and drink to such an establishment - they would be well versed in the motives of such activities, and therefore their handling agents would be well versed in the necessary levels of alacrity and required prejudice to effect their chosen objectives.

Oh no.

Why, should I - the customer - have to chase these Cro-Magnon numbskulls to find out there has been a delivery failure?
This is modern Britain. I am old enough to remember the 'good old days' when everything was nationalised and customers were a nuisance and got in the way. You used to have chase up everyday and be treated with rudeness.
Now - I grant you these people were not rude, they were just incompetent. This I believe to be a factor of the fact we have too few unemployed in this country - but that is one for my economics editor to argue.

In the end. I despaired sufficiently to telephone them to ask them what they were about.

'Have the goods been delivered?' Asked after negotiating their switchboard
'And at what point was I going to find this out?'
'And what were you going to do about it?'
'OK,' applying my knowledge of modern supply chains, 'have you got a failed POD or refusal note?'
'Yes sir'.
'And it says…..?'
'Not known at this address.'
Hmmm……thinks cross check details as subtly as possible without losing the initiative…..
'About 9.30 this morning'
'So five hours ago.'
'Any redelivery attempts made?' Ye gods I am pulling teeth…..
'Check the refusal record against the POD.'
'Yes sir at 13.00.'
'And? Apparently refused again. Wrong address.'.
'OK have you checked the Post code against the RM-PAF records.'
'No sir, hold on' (I hear some tapping)
'The address does verify, sir'.
'OK so we have a crisis of competence from either delivery or reception.'
'Right - what I would like you to do is this. Update the Re-delivery. Set it to fresh batch. Not the ones that have been kicking around the back of the van all day.'
'OK now go to the delivery settings - and put it to FIRAV by 10.00 please.'
'Sir. Ok done that - but there is a surcharge for timed delivery.'
'Only if you haven't cocked up. You have and you will provide this to me for recompense for you failing to achieve your single stated aim - and the fact the address is about 175 yards from your door.'
'OK. I would like a call as soon as the you have a verified POD from the Ship-To, ok?
'Correct answer is 'Yes sir, and we apologise for the inconvenience caused the staggering incompetence of my organisation. It is, afterall your job to deliver flowers. I pay you to go to an adress not 175 yards from your office with said blooms and deliver them. A heruculean task that your organisation has failed to achieve twice one day! It is not the North face of the Eiger, the sunbaked sands of the Serengeti or the frozen wastes of the Siberian Tyga - but two streets away from you. Your drivers do this all the time, and therefore must be suitably versed in getting their items delivered - are they not?
'Good, now go and make it so.'
-click- I had had enough


It is worth mentioning that this conversation was conducted over the wireless telegraphy unit in the Alvis.

I had since arrived at my hotel in the Wirral.

I have been unfortunate enough to have been using this god-awful establishment for the last 10 years.
On not one occasion has it ever been satisfactory, but it is 200 yards from the office.

Check in. I announce my name.

'Can I have your address and business name sir?'
'You mean the details I booked with?'.
'Correct answer is yes, Sir'
'Ah yes, so sorry'. What's your address please sir?
'Same as every time I have used this establishment in the last 3 years.'

I sigh. Yet again the fuckwits of the world have united to confound me. I finally lost my normally polite self, and started to become sarcastic.

'Is there someone here who has not been hired today?'
A frantic scurrying and a Hazel Blears look-alike in glasses appears.
'Hello sir, I am the manager'
'And how long have you worked here? Twenty of your finest North-western minutes?
'Fifteen years sir'
'You have clearly reached your zenith and for that you have my pity. I have been using this place for 10 years, and you still show me the respect of not a regular customer, but of one who has bowled in off the street and demanded the use of your wheelie bin to sleep in. You have not even taken the trouble to learn who I am and thereby create even the slightest impression of welcome.'

'Well'….she looks at her screen taps furiously ' Well N----' you don't know my name'.

In military circles, this is called the 'tipping point'.

'Correct, I do not know your name. It is not my business to know your name, however, You are paid to know me, not me to know you. You have a name badge to allow me to address you with your name should I wish to do so. I also believe that under most circumstances those names should be printed in reverse script so that you can see your name with your face when you look in the mirror, obviating the requirement for you to grapple with the lofty concerns of remembering who your are AND what you look like at the same time. Oh, and it is Mr. D---- to you. I do not recall being introduced to you by my Christian name.'

'I'm very sorry N-- errr…. Mr D----'

'As for service - I have been using a hotel in another city - which I might add costs less per night than this and they have the good thinking to not only check their arrivals list, but they have take the effort of learning my tastes and the chef preparing a recommendation on my evening meal and a personal wine selection. He is normally right. On the other hand the only difference in menus here in the last 10 years is the paper they have been printed on.
Now, I will have a call at 06.30, a Daily Telegraph and pot of strong tea at exactly that time outside my room.'

'There is a small surcharge for the Telegraph sir…the Independent is free…' she tailed off after seeing my face.

''They give the Independent away at every hotel in the country - which is the only reason it has any readership at all. I would not use it to line the cage of a crapulescent budgerigar, certainly less read it. Do I sound like the sort of window licking socialist windbag who would read such trash?'
'I read it sir, it's ok.'
'Quite. My room key please.'

It didn't end there.

Two minutes later I am at reception.

'Do you employ cleaners in this hotel?'
'Yes sir'
'And they actually clean the rooms, rather than sit about reading Closer magazine and picking their expanding noses?'
'Is your room dirty sir? Let me change it right away.'
'There is a magic combination here - let me try it out'
'Bathroom, Stout, Pubic and Hair.'
'I'm so sorry sir.' I will have your bags moved immediately. Would you like a complimentary drink at the bar?'
'Yes. I will have a large bloody mary with a full teaspoon of Tabasco, three not two, three, twists of black pepper, a single slice of lemon and no ice, plus a celery stick. If this is not achieved to the letter advise the barman I will horsewhip him and have you crucified at noon. Am I perfectly clear?
She smiled - despite the hardships thrown in my way - I am still smiling.
'Yessir' She said with a smile.
'Good. I shall be on the sofa. Carry on.'
She carried on and a half decent bloody mary was duly delivered.
Having to share buildings with the baser forms of commercial traveller is bad enough. But expecting me to tolerate their standards of service is beyond the pale.

One glimmer of good news - is that the few simple blooms I sent to the young lady did indeed make her smile - and the smile of a pretty lady is as narcotic as the beat of an angel's wings or the first sip of champagne at on the train to work.