31 March 2009

Key G20 questions answered

Useful dinner table trivia, including

  • Why do those US Secret Service agents always wear shades?

    First, they don't always, and second, to protect their eyes from the sun's glare, which is the explanation the Secret Service gives on its website. The third reason is that a key part of the job is scanning the crowd for anomalies - the expressionless stare amid a sea of cheering spectators, or the overexcited member of an otherwise attentive audience - so it doesn't hurt that would-be attackers can't quite tell in which direction the agents are looking.

    Shades might make them more identifiable, but it's a misconception that they're trying to go unnoticed: if they were, do you think there'd be such a preponderance of burly men with buzz-cuts in near-identical suits and ill-concealed earpieces?

    If presidential protection were invisible, a stupid assassin might imagine there wasn't any, while a rational one might disregard it as an unknowable risk. In either case, they'd be more likely to shoot. Far better to foster the panicky half-awareness that the crowd is seething with agents ready to pounce.

  • Who's the new Carla Bruni?

    Big summits are the world cup of politics. And as we learned from the 2006 World Cup, it doesn't matter how badly your other half fares on the pitch, you can still go home feeling like a winner if you dress the best. With Carla Bruni away, and Michelle Obama already feeling a little old hat (fashion moves fast), this could be the chance for an outsider to shine.

    Step forward Sonsoles Espinosa, opera singer and wife of Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Previous public appearances have seen her working a range of looks from Pucci-esque prints to this sharp tux outfit, complete with skinny black trousers and heels.

    History proves she knows how to wear colour too (witness one striking orange shift), and she has even been photographed next to Penelope Cruz and held her ground. Perhaps most importantly, she understands that even when circumstances present the most restrictive of dress codes, you can always let a good haircut and a piece of statement jewellery do your talking for you.

  • Jacquing Off

    Oh dearie me - how shaming for already red-faced Jacqui Smith: no sooner does she leave the expenses-funded love nest to toil at Westminster than hubby settles down for a cosy night's porn viewing (ditto expense sheet).

    Someone's going to be spending the next month or so on the dog-house couch. Better stock up on the you-know-what.

    But what makes it even more of a hoot is that the Porn Peruser looks so exactly the part.

    That is a man any of us would single out in a line-up or on 'What's My Line'.

    "Would the first contestant please sign in.

    Can we have your mime, please, and let's see if the panel can guess your occupation."

    Five seconds' wrist work and everyone in unison:

    "Porn Watcher!"

    "Behind the wife's back, I wouldn't be surprised."

    "In a manner of speaking."

    Audience roars. Grinning compère mimics Speaker calling for order. Audience collapses.

    Psst - It won't improve things if there's a mole selling Expense Secrets, almost certainly put down on expenses by the buyer.

    Hasty Exit

    0630hrs Tuesday, March 31: Up betimes for an undisturbed workout and tinkering with new song.

  • Decide to check email and see to my horror and disgust that bloody Google Blogs Alert has spotted my piece (and below) on John's piece on the cemetery being a "secret". This despite my efforts to disguise it by referring to Prosperonia as Scheria. I kill the piece.
  • Also edit another entry talking about Larry Durrell misguidedly trying to replace one of our fallen swallow chicks back in a nest.
  • Also temporarily remove a mischievous posting of extracts of recent email buffoonery concerning ... well, I'm not sure what it *was* all about, but it included hysterical threats to set one of our distinguished local attorneys on me.

    I shall revive this particular page once the 'cemetery brouhaha' has died down.

  • Fine tune and bring up to date the DéBarclays débacle post.
  • 30 March 2009

    ON TEMPORARY VIEW WITH EDITS

    Having been busted by that darned Google spyware that tells everyone what's new au sujet de Mirandaville, I took it down but have been bullied to put it back.

    Le voici with some crucial edits.

    Neglected not Forgotten

    The British Cemetery

    One of my favourite local blogs carried a respectful piece on Psailas' Pride, our British Cemetery.

    My only quibble is that the piece pretended it was "forgotten" and went on to comment that,

    "Few of you may know that there is a British Cemetery just a few minutes walk from San Rocco square. It is located on the road to the prison, on the hill of San Salvatore.

    Founded in 1814, under the British occupation (1814-1864), it was used as a place where British officials and residents were interred."

    My point is that, come tourist time, too MANY people know of it, no thanks to its listing on every itinerary and guide book - and not a cent to devoted keeper George Psailas and his wife.

    It goes on, "As you enter the property, the whole place looks more a beautiful garden than a cemetery. The cemetery is gracefully blossomed all year long with a great variety of flowers, bushes and trees. There is also a small basin with goldfishes and water lillies. The cemetery is crossed by a slight ascending road, on which someone can spot many types of flora, like the anemones, marguerites and the famous orchids."

    I've given up whining about the injustices and vulgar behaviour observed in the cemetery.

  • It is treated like a tourist picnic spot and dumping ground
  • George is as over-generous with his hours as the visitors are measly with their contributions.
  • I heard a diplomatic whisper about some "Friends of the British Cemetery" notion but nothing since.
  • There are Germans buried there from times past and George dutifully tends their graves. German tourists visit. George tells me that he has never seen anyone from the local plenipotentiary for Merkelshire, even for a flying courtesy visit. Nor can I get a squeak of explanation from that vice-consulatrium whose flag flaps conspicuously over Aegli nosherie.
  • But props to the blogeur for including a pic of the lovely 'reading lady' statuette (see above snap) that graces the much-missed and formaidable Joan Acton's spot.

    Neglected? Taken for granted, more like.

  • 28 March 2009

    Springer does Chicago

    Photo shows Jerry Springer with the cast of Chicago.

    'He sings like a nightingale,' says his bodyguard. 'A nightingale getting shot at with an air rifle.'

    leggy babeBorn 1944 in in an East Finchley Tube during an air raid, Springer feels comfy in the UK, likes the tea, likes the humour, likes the politics.

    He sort of appreciated Jerry Springer: The Opera, an extravagant joke at his expense, or rather, a uniquely British take on his notorious American daytime, blue-collar television show – the one featuring assorted inbreeding, punch-throwing, exhibitionist trailer trash.

    The opera, more a musical, featured a nappy-wearing Jesus declaiming he was 'a little bit gay', and when the BBC screened it in 2005, it prompted 63,000 complaints amid claims that it was blasphemous.

    Such are Springer's bona fides as an Anglophile, he has spoken at the Oxford Union, appeared as a guest on Any Questions and Question Time and been the subject of Who Do You Think You Are?

    [Enough already of all this lorem ipsum. You only want to bulk some text to adorn your blog with the legissima babe on the left - Ed]

    27 March 2009

    Earth Hour ~ Clocks For'ard

    It's suddenly all about time, which is very un-Greek.

  • 2009 Earth Hour: signed up? Saturday March 28, 2030hrs - 2130hrs, lights out. Good for grab, maybe not so good for grub.
  • Summer time blues: Sunday 29 March, 3am, pause your dalliance long enough to advance the Breitling by one hour's canoodling time.
  • Light viewing - Earth Hour (the ultimate)
  • BUSKER GETS BIFFED

    Such a long time ago and so much water been passed since Aug 2008, I'm worried lest Maria Strani-Potts' vigorous drubbing not reach its deserved readership.

    So here's the rascal posting so you can see my humiliation, read all about Maria's To Poulima tis Panoreas, and rush out and snatch one up from the shelves of Zervopoulou.

    Actually, rather a good movie title, 'Shelves of Zervopoulou'. The book trade version of 'Guns of Navarone'.

    Starring Matt Damon as 'The Rep', Michael Caine as 'The Marketing Manager'; Tom Hanks as 'The Bookbuyer' (boo hiss!). And introducing Grip Strong as 'Rusty', publicist to the gentry.

    Copyline: "It had taken her three years to write. It would take him three minutes to remainder. Could they make it in time? All that stood between them (cue scary slide guitar) ... were The Shelves of Zervopoulou."

    The chastening comment:

    "I meant to comment before but thought I'd challenge Busker direct.

    My book (in Greek) is called Tο πούλημα της Πανωραίας (CorfuBooks.com, 2008). It is available in Zervopoulou bookstore in Corfu.

    If you take the trouble to read it or the English abridgment in Island Magazine you will see that it is far from a RANT against the distruction of Corfu, but a tragic allegory.

    Interested readers who care about Corfu and the environment may find it contains some food for thought.

    Look at my blog".

    THE FACEBOOK AENEID

  • Very clever and I wish I'd come across and posted it sooner.
  • What a great exam test this would be - and what fun for those who'd done their homework.
  • 26 March 2009

    BROWN TOASTED

    Daniel Hannan, MEP: "You have run out of our money."

  • And the bravissimo Dan Hannan's blog
  • His book: "The Plan: Twelve months to renew Britain"
  • Andy Sparrow pondering Daniel's tubular fame
  • The Examiner: How to stick it to The Man
  • While I'm about it, I wish the G20 Summit wasn't quite so confusingly close to April 1.
  • Hannan: Brown had to sit 'n' take it.
  • Tag Team: Letters section, Telegraph March 28, from David Samuel-Camps: "Even better speech by the leader of Ukip, Nigel Farage. Worth seeing Gordon Brown's smirking reaction."

    Thank you, Mr Samuel-Camps.

  • OBAMA THE GREAT

    Archbishop Demetrios, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States, to President Obama

    "Following the brilliant example of Alexander the Great...you will be able to cut the Gordian knot of these unresolved issues."

    25 March 2009

    PRICE RISE SHOCK - Smokers Amok

    country

    Karelia up 20 cents to - gasp! - €2.20

    The *last* packet in Dassia, Gouvia or Kondokali at the old price of €2.00

    What's a puffer to do?

    For starters, I shall never open this one but frame it behind glass to remind me of the good old days.

    That's a crippling

  • US$2.85 per pack
  • Mind-boggling UK£2.04

    End of civilisation as I know it.

  • 20 March 2009

    PAME PAKETO

    One of the most intriguing aspects of must-watch Pame Paketo is the de rigueur  delicate wiping away of non-existent tears.

    I'm talking about the babes on screen, of course; me, I gush larmes  a-plenty throughout.

    This clip of Marietta Chrousala shows the technique to a T.

    Choice cartoons from the ever-green Oldie

    A very 'me' cartoon, I'm afraid.

    "Good news: your appeal was successful."
    crtoon

    "Did I tell you Simon had split from the Church of England?"

    18 March 2009

    "Words that bring us out in hives"

    Toby Young's excellent 'Status Anxiety' column in The Spectator excelled even itself on March 7.

    As an experiment, TY conducted a straw poll asking for particularly irritating words and phrases.

    "Almost without exception, they singled out language used by people lower down the status ladder than themselves ..."

    Needless to say, Yours Truly bombed hugely on every front:

    Cod-Shakespearean? Guilty as hell:

    "‘Mine host’ and ‘take a pew’. In the same vein, another correspondent wrote: ‘The use of “London Town”, “Londinium”, “the Smog” or any archaic term for London induces rage' ... Other people were just straightforwardly snobbish, offering examples of words that Alan Ross might have designated ‘Non-U’ if he was writing his essay today. These include ‘moist’, ‘gusset’, ‘Ciao’ (unless Italian is your first language), ‘eaterie’, ‘soirée’, ‘classy’ and ‘any size on the Starbucks menu’."

    Moist? I worked alongside a darling thing at Amazon who would squirm at that word. Never worked out why.

    Worth reading.

    16 March 2009

    FLAMING SCORPION

    Just when I complacently decide there's no reason to believe, that pointy-capped computer in the sky wrong-foots me.

    Because I've spent time in the US, visiting Americans are pushed my way because I 'talk their language' and can make small chat.

    Not with this lady. She was over here with some study group and staying with rich pals of pals.

    Mid-40s, handsome woman, sort of in-shape Bo Derek, but covered with freckles.

    Unsmiling except when someone said anything to smile at, of which we're short on the ground here. We talked and she said she'd heard I played the guitar which I wished she hadn't but she said she'd like to hear me. I said I was playing somewhere north but it was impossible to find.

    "I can read a map," she said quietly, the look in her eyes talking of more elusive trails than to a sign-posted tourist trap taverna.

    "The maps here aren't very good."

    "Tell me about it."

    We met up, she typically having stopped at a village to check her bearings and hi-jacked someone to show her the way whom she then drove back and then back to the bar.

    She smoked Luckies with which she fiddled endlessly, refusing proffered lights then suddenly producing a Harley Davidson Zippo and setting it half on fire, drawing deep.

    She scared me, made me wonder what sort of man could 'handle' such a relaxed self-contained creature.

    My turn to perform and I played Gringo Honeymoon which she applauded with a sudden dazzling smile.

    "Not bad, José. Better 'n' I expected. We can work on the accent but the guitar's fine."

    Then she went over to the bar for another litre of red, sat down and lit a cig sans any of the previous faffing.

    "When I was about 8, we were living in Los Alamos in the hills of New Mexico. Bugs everywhere, big flying things, junebugs, that sort. Came crashing into the screens.

    One day I found a scorpion in the yard. I got a rag and poured some kerosene over it and put the rag in a circle round the scorpion, lit it and and waited for the scorpion to do what I had read about."

    Her eyes were very blue and seemed to be measuring my reaction.

    "Lift its tail and sting itself to death.

    Know what it did? Nothing. Then it sort of gave a shake and juddered towards the flame. Dammit it if it didn't climb right onto that rag and just sit there. Balanced.

    This crackling sound as it began to burn. Never forget that."

    Laser blast of the baby blues.

    "You singing that ... Robert Earl Keen. Brought it all back."

    FRITZL

    I'm loth even to type that name.

  • Surely, he stands no chance under even the strictest security: some family-minded inmates will make it worth a guard's while to look the other way. Enter some large cons one night who will get medieval on yon Josef with blow torch und pliers ...

    At least, that's how I thought things were done.

  • In re Rape: I dunno, what's the world coming to?

    On the same day that the Prosecutor describes Fritz as raping his daughter 3,000 times over the years, that crass idiot Alan Pardew uses the exact same term to describe a paltry tackle on some precious Chelsea ape.

  • The Sun: The only rag I trust to do this sordid story justice.
  • Negligent murder, enslavement, incest, rape, coercion and false imprisonment. Enough to be going along with.

  • All travel plans to be tracked by Government

    Well done, Britain.

    That's the way to clog the arteries.

    Making 100% sure you don't ever see me again, right?

    Spiffing.

    100 GREATEST SONGS OF ALL TIME

    I don't have to write anything - I just plonk this in the middle of my readership and let the wailing and grizzling begin.

    Few surprises but I am always distrustful of 'rock' critics: just by dint of them acquiring that handle (and a desk and a 'puter and get paid for it; who me, jealous?) they lose street crudiness right there.

    Counting down, I'm impressed McCormick recognised/included the following:

    98, 94, 81, 54, 51 (Jerry *Jeff* Walker; not Jegg), 45, 35 - (Visions of Johanna, eh? Very  good for a mere rock critic), and 24.

    The rest are purty predictable, with some old friends popping up I'd forgot about.

    Impossible to choose a Number One so I guess Bowie is a good selection - certainly not mediocre but a choice that'll annoy (hence unite) EVERYONE.

    SPOTIFY

    The Telegraph also offers a playlist of, "All the songs featured here at free music streaming service spotify.com.

    Just install the service - it takes a coupla minutes - and go to http://tinyurl.com/abn28s."

    Spotify isn't available 'in my country' so I can't check it out. Just don't anyone blame me if they follow the Tin-yurl Brick Road and a swingin' Bin Laden crashes thru yer monitor screen and sets you on fire with the Olympic torch

    I'm suddenly being bombarded by all my Greeky un-geeky pals with 24pt email warnings.

    There must be a special calibanserai formula to this:

    I am on x mailing lists, all owners of which receive the Torchy Bin Laden virus warning, hit the panic button and spambulate it on to everyone in their address  book(s).

    Then there are those who don't know me (but have been dying to) and here is just such a chance to curry favour by alerting me to the end of the world and saving me from crashing to Earth.

    15 March 2009

    TROJAN FRETS

    ~ Party Animal ~

    ch en chanson

    Oh goodness! Look what I've unearthed in the attic. Nostalgie!

    A photo taken by Ms Judith Sturrock at her little brother's birthday party in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong.

    I was the mothers' delight: whenever I was free, I'd come along and strum to the mites and join in the games and ... oh, I was a darling.

    To think, I could have been dahn on t' beach working on my tan or hanging with the chaps swapping unlikely tales of derring-do. But no, I nobly sacrificed my afternoons to entertain the little 'uns. Chortle.

    As Judith said in her accompanying letter, " ... and my darling, NO one saw through you."

    Well, she did and a right laugh we had after.

    Hong Kong in those days included THE most alluring centre-fold colonial daughters ever to grace a young man's wet dreams. And their dads knew it which was why one almost never penetrated the citadel but had to make do with those grim prim LRC/Sheko/Fan Ling/DWB club dances policed by dragons or cringe-making parties where parents lurked and walked round with those penknives with gadgets for prising the sexes apart.

    As Judith reminded me, "If you looked at the 'bookings' that our minstrel so generously committed to, there was *always* an elder sister in the mix.

    "I mean, I'd *heard* of you with your guitar playing and daddy's sports car and 'advanced' attitude to what constituted a 'date' but we'd never met and Daddy never let me go to the unruly beach parties where types like you prowled around marking the fanciable birds' dance cards."

    Judy wrote true: I'd turn up and make myself indispensable arranging chairs and cutlery and drying tears - above all not casting even a glance at the talent.

    Come time for unsheathing the guitar, I knew all the Burl Ives songs they'd like and all the ditties they sang at school and would invite them up to strum as I changed the chords.

    Same at the end, help tidy and find their coats and bootees etc. At which point, Big Sister would come up and say things like, "Chris, that was absolutely fantastic. You were the hit of the party. They adored you. I don't know what we would have done without you. Best party ever. By the way, I'm Judy."

    By the time stern papa got home from a busy day at the office keeping the natives restful, Judy and I would be new best friends and there was no way he could tell me, "Out, bounder! Unhand my daughter - I know your dishonourable intentions", because the Judith mères in the equation would exclaim:

    "Darling - you know Chris - Ronnie's son? - he's been absolutely brilliant with the children, got them all singing. I don't know how to thank you enough."

    "Has he indeed?" would growl the father. "Good for him."

    "Christopher - I'm sure you'd like a drink. Darling, give Chris a drink - your throat must be parched after all that singing - what would you like, beer? scotch? I'm so out of touch with what your crowd drink these days."

    The money moment.

    "Nothing, actually, thanks very much. I'd better be off - Keith Murray's got a party this evening, bunch of us bringing guitars, bit of a sing-song." Innocent look at Judith: "I expect I'll see you there." (Like no wayy: KM's orgies were on the blackest of black lists and Judith and her dad knew it]

    Judith shrugs. Me: "Come along. I can collect you, it's en route .

    Mrs Salmon dead on cue: "Oh do, darling - you've been marvelous helping out. It'd be so good for you to be with people your own age after an afternoon coping with that lot. Thank you soo much, Chris. [Gimlet look at hubbie] Richard?"

    It's spring time for Hitler: dad can't really say no with me having oiled my way into favour with The Boss. Judith giving her appealing-but-resigned look which NO father of a daughter can resist, dammit.

    "Hrrmph ... I suppose so ... what sort of 'do' is this?"

    "Richard, he's just told you, a jolly old sing-song, you should have heard him, he's absolutely wonderful. Such a pity he's packed his banjo away or I'd ask for 'Island in the Sun' again."

    Dad's eyes boring into me: I know you. I *know* you. My wife's fooled but not me. OK, round one to you but you put one foot wrong ..."

    J: "Daddy! Thanks so much, you're the best father in the world."

    Mrs Sturrock, rewarding the decision with a scotch and planting a kiss on her husband's forehead with a murmured approving, "Well done."

    That photo - it brings it all back.

    Posted by Picasa

    COOL SIGNS


    14 March 2009

    ESCAPEE

    Letter in Athens News, 13 March, from one Peter Griffiths of Rhodes about the daring escape from Korydallos High Security Prison and commenting that,

    "I'm British and couldn't believe an escape from our top security jail - three prisoners let themselves out with keys they had made under the noses of prison staff.

    When recaptured, another level of idiocy kicked in: these escapees [sic] were permitted an expensive court trial at which they pleaded "not guilty".

    It's the misuse of the suffix -ee with which I quibble.

    I know it's long been misused in the colonies, along with 'disinterested' and 'momentarily', but surely a fellow Anglais can keep the flag flying over such basic corresponding agent-nouns? Hello? (An expression I can't stand, by the by)

  • Lessor/lessee?
  • Patentee?
  • Debauchee
  • employer/employee
  • evacuee
  • payee?

    In re  'escapee', surely the hoods that bust out were the escapERS and the hoosegow itself the 'escapee' from where the escaping got done, yeh?

    Or the chief screw from whose charge the cons did make their getaway?

    Not that he's got anything to worry about: even if he gets the boot, he'll find a job no problem running security for Barclays bank. Right in his element, he'll feel.

    File under Pedantree.

  • BUSKER ~ 1951 ~

    ch 1951

    Sketch by maman - moi at 15 years old, Englefield Green, Angleterre.

    I don't remember being sketched - but mum never needed a still-sitting model -but I remember that noble guitar.

    I'd been playing a battered 3rd-hand classical guitar with an action up to here and dropping forlorn hints that I really could do with something better. I assumed it had fallen on deaf lug 'oles but parents are sneaky, yeh?

    I went out on an Exeat Sunday to a posh pal of the Ancients where we spent the night. When I went up to bed there on the bed was this guitar shape wrapped in brown paper and all sorts of Portuguese labels.

    The make was Santos Beirão which I've never seen since and it played itself and the tone was rich and rabid and I stayed up all night and when I went back to that hell-hole I hid it in my trunk in the crypt and played it all the time.

    I hid it because cruel prefect Warner also played the guitar and had ruled supreme until squit newbie me came along. If Warner had seen it, he'd've 'borrowed' it for his study or confiscated it, or something.

    The music comp was coming up and Warner stood to lose his title as Guitar Hero.

    Warner heard me playing odds and sods and knew from others that I was suspiciously good on the frets - but my crap guitar would keep me in my place and was no match for his Hofner classique.

    I practised. I practised. I got new La Bella black nylon strings, I chose a flash piece well within my ability to ride my nerves. I polished it and I got the pegs glinting.

    Come the evening I had a pal in the back row hold the Santos as I made to mount the stage with the wreck. Paused, looked down fondly at the old instrument and then shook my head with a smile as if to say, "Not tonight, mon ami. Tonight, I need something special."

    Exchanged the guitars with my pal and walked up with the Santos - oohs and aahs and gasps.

    Nor any of that tuning people go thru.

    Foot rest down, adjustment of left-hand sleeve and - cue gig.

    It was called "Gaucho" by Luise Walker and it had every trick to bamboozle a fancy London adjudicator.

    Mr Santos sounded amazing. I sounded amazing. Every trick of hammer or claw, rasgueado, rubato, etouffé, whatever - came off.

    God knows what Warner must have been thinking as I delivered my piece.

    I don't think it ever sounded so good.

    The adjudicator: "Next, the very fetching piece, "Gaucho." Now, here is a young man in love with his guitar - and from what we heard tonight, the feeling is clearly mutual."

    Good times.

    13 March 2009

    Tamzin Lightwater

    Diary of a Notting Hill Nobody

    I stirred myself to write a Letter to The Spectator.

    "Sir:

    I'd been meaning to ask if anyone else finds Deborah Ross's verbal tics and pyrotechnics just a little too self-referential for her Cinema column to be of actual use in choosing or understanding the films she writes about.

    Then someone wrote to praise her and my resolve collapsed under the usual lack of confidence in my own opinion.

    But I haven't seen anyone toss a bouquet to the witty Tamzin Lightwater and this worries me for the continuing health of her agile and clever 'Diary of a Notting Hill Nobody'.

    No one around me seems to understand the column, but nor do they 'get' Doonesbury or Dilbert. This feeds my paranoia that Ms Lightwater's Speccie masters fall into the same category and will use the dearth of letters of support as ammo to give this zeitgeist-savvy lady the heave-ho.

    I plead that she is not let go gentle into those Wibberley woods."

    Dept of Can't Be the Only One: See also Seamus' gloriously pompous Speccie spank on Iain Dale's Diary.

    "In the book they just shake hands"

    Memoirs of the Famous

    ~ six words maximum ~

    Competition in The Spectator inspired by a $10 bet to Hemingway that he couldn't write a six-word short story.

    The sly beggar came up with

    For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

    I've pruned the winners so you don't have to. (Besides, I have a sharper eye than you for what's funny)

  • Julius Caesar: Veni, vidi, vici, vivi, vale
  • Proust: Twelve novel epic? Piece of cake
  • Methusalah: 'Look' sayeth Lamech. 'About thy pension.'
  • George Bush: I misunderestimated the power of eviltude
  • Leda: He swanned off, leaving the kids
  • Henry V: Sorry, Lads. France again this year

    Humerus Hubris: I have been challenged to list the also-rans that didn't make the cut:

  • God: A six-day week, before endless holidays
  • Godot: Philanthropic landowner lacking only a watch (actually, that coulda been a contender)
  • Goliath: Stone's throw from victory, and ... Aagh!
  • William S.Borroughs: Queer junkie shoots wife; writes porn.
  • 12 March 2009

    OPEN LETTER TO BARCLAYS

    Matthew W Barrett, ChairmanQuis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    Contact Centre
    Barclays Wealth
    PO Box 9
    Barclays House
    Douglas
    Isle of Man IM99 1AJ

    Name of Account:
    Sort Code:
    Account Number:

    Dear Sir

    Thank you for your letters of 24th and 27th of February and now March 3rd 2009 informing me that the above-mentioned bank account balance is overdrawn to the tune of £496.80.

    I am aware of that.

    On February 16th around 5:30pm, my credit and debit cards were stolen from my bag in Waitrose store, Kings Road, London SW.

    I reported the loss of the card by telephone, as did my son from Greece where the account address is.

    chris lendrumOn February 17th, Barclays Fraud Detection Department sent a letter to Greece expressing concern that my debit card “may have been used fraudulently.”

    They listed five transactions on February 17th between 00:35 – 00:37 hrs, each of £41.75. This was six hours after the theft of the cards was ‘phoned through to the Fraud Detection Department and verbal assurance given that a “safeguard” would be placed on the card.

    However, the amount was not large and the Fraud Dept letter – reference XYZ – confirmed in print that they had placed a ‘safeguard’ on my account 'which protects me against any potential fraud in the immediate future' (their words).

    I returned to Greece where, shortly after, a statement arrived listing my last two withdrawals before the robbery and showing my account to stand comfortably in excess of a moderate £5,000.00.

    The next communication from the bank was your letter of February 24th advising me that on Feb 23 my bank account balance was £496.80 overdrawn and listing the Reserve Usage Fees I was now subject to.

    My son telephoned the number given on the Fraud Detection Department’s letter of Feb 17th and got nowhere – they couldn’t even see the account.

    Finally, my son was given the number +44 1624 684 030 which, to this day, has never responded and we have had to be transferred each time from another department.

    Although my son is co-owner of the account, he was not at first allowed to know whence came any further withdrawals to cast light on the draining of the account.

    However, he was advised to apply for a Cash Machine Dispute Form which it turned out he was not eligible to request because he was not owner of my stolen card.

    He set up a call on my behalf, giving all possible details to the rep to save me needless distress and confusion. When I finally got on the phone I was put through such a rigorous check that I simply did not understand what I was being asked.

    I am 88 years old and am not fluent in your computerized ways. How worse would I have coped without my son with me? That was precisely why I went to such pains to ensure his addition to the account with full powers of attorney.

    How is an old lady to understand grilling down the international phone lines about:

  • Membership number
  • Memorable password
  • Code number
  • Selected letters from my memorable word

    I was already in distress. I was simply requesting a blank Dispute form to start the no doubt lengthy process of retrieving money that the Fraud Department allowed to be removed with apparent impunity in over 100 cash machine or store purchase transactions over the period of one whole week.

    As I say, I am not expert in your technology but nor do I see the logic in I as the injured party being put through confusing security procedures for the privilege of being sent a claim to retrieve money that the thieves appear to have had no security problems filching in the first place.

    barclays premier leagueAnd why is your Fraud Department capable of spotting five suspicious transactions and reporting them to me, along with assurances of ‘safeguarding’ my money, and then ignoring a further 100+ uses of the card without a single message to me?

    I dare not deposit funds because I have had no indication from the Fraud experts that they have made the card any safer guarded than after Feb 17 - and nor would I have much confidence in any such assurances.

    I suppose I will continue to collect Reserve Usage Fees until I pass the test unaided by my son to be allowed a Dispute form and this whole thing is sorted out.

    So, there you have it.

    I do not know who else to inform but my son has thoughtfully suggested we send timely copies of this letter to assorted officers of the bank: they, too, may have mothers, grandmothers or elderly aunts of delicate disposition who might be caught out by your Fraud division’s lax security. God willing, my example might save them from the distress I am going through.

    Please advise me of the next step.

    Yours faithfully

    Signature above printed Name and Address

    barclays logo

    Copies to the respective Barclays addresses for:

  • Mr Matthew W Barrett, Chairman
  • Mr John Varley, Group Chief Executive
  • Mr Chris Lucas, Group Finance Director
  • Monsieur Robert Le Blanc, Group Risk Director
  • Robert Nimmo, Corporate Risk Directorate
  • Mr Chris Lendrum, Vice-Chairman and Group Executive Director
  • Mr David Roberts, Chief Executive, Private Clients & International
  • Mr David Weymouth, Chief Information Officer

    Mailed 12 noon Friday March 13th from Kerkyra Central Post Office
  • 11 March 2009


    DUELLING NOAHS

    I lose no opportunity to plagiarise or quote from the Ponderosa Pasha's incisive and seditious blog.

    He ran a rather good Noah's ark cartoon, which you see right and which I have effortlessly bettered with my IKEA doodle.

    I like referring to Sedition, not just because he's good, or because I get a vicarious thrill from living dangerously by cocking a surfy snoot at society, but because it confuses local readers.

    They approach at well-behaved soirées - first having adjusted their brows to 'Faintly Amused' mode, as is the wont of the British landed gentry out here:

    "What ho! There you are. What's new in the land of blogging?

    I say, that Sedition johnny doesn't mince words, what?

    Actually, rather wished you'd had a warning or something. We've got Jemima out here for the break and you know how she adores your guitar ditties, so she was looking over Deirdre's shoulder when she clicked on your sedition link and of course there was that 'language', which we're actually trying to keep her away from.

    But do tell, where on earth did you dig this one up? You do find the most extroadinary links, ha ha?"

    These are the moments I wish I'd been gifted with a mountain-man 1,000-yard stare, or at least the style to heft a Bowie in convincingly Bronsonian fashion.

    Also, to go with my 914.4-metre myopic squint, it really needs a Vox Samuelens Elliotis to correctly deliver the rumbled,

    "You talkin' 'bout Sedition?

    ~ Stream of tobacco juice narrowly misses loafers. Hustle of balls ~

    Well ... me 'n' that bad boy ... we go waay back, yessiree."

    Baccy juice, hustle.

    Actually we do. I know it seems unlikely that a languid lotus-muncher such as I could have trod the same boards as that rough-hewn poet of the prairies, but we all but shared the same manacles below decks of the Galley Bezosia as we brought treasures from the ether to bedeck Sir Jeffrey's Mercer Isle palazzo.

    Good days.

    EUROVISION 2009

    Sakis Rouvas may have the song and it may be "our night", but it hardly sounds Greek.

    09 March 2009

    FREE AND ACCEPTED?

    Sometimes feel like a motherless child?

    Intriguing classified ad in the March 2009 Corfiot (accept no substitute):

    "ARE YOU FREE AND ACCEPTED BUT WITHOUT A MOTHER?"

    Then contact WB on 6945 717223 "

    Dammit, I might give WB a bell and see what it's all about.

  • Is this a motherly type offering TLC?
  • Or is WB trolling for a bit of mothering on the side?
  • Free? Time hang on my hands? It does rather.
  • Accepted? Like am I a well brought up chappie of impeccable manners and decorum? Absolutely, to the point of wimpdom.

    I shall call and report back.

    Tuesday 1120hrs: All is revealed!

    Apparently, it is some Al-Anon code.

  • old hongkong

    Hong Kong 1950's Childhood Reunion

    Dim Sum Lunch

    Royal China,
    13 Queensway,
    London W2 4QJ

    Wednesday, 13th May 2009, 12 noon

    Damn damn damn !

    The one gig likely to lure me back to louche  Lonthino - a grisly reunion with old pals and poseurs (not to mention those nymphette deflowerees of our teens - and vice-versa)

    And hear how the (anonymised) letter begins - we've lost none of our formality or sense of decorum:

    Dear Hong Kong Kids,

    After a lunch last autumn with [NAME], when we found ourselves reminiscing about childhood friends, we (Name, Name, Name and Name) came up with the idea of organising a reunion of people who were at primary school in Hong Kong in the 50's. NAME then joined us bringing much needed technical expertise!

    We thought it would be appropriate to use the occasion to raise money for a Hong Kong children's charity and decided on Treats as NAME has worked with them for many years.

    A Chinese restaurant in London seemed the obvious choice and we have settled on Royal China in Queensway, W2, which we have reserved for Wednesday, May 13th 2009 at noon.

    Our list has grown fast, and we imagine everyone on it will have a few more contacts. So the sooner you can let us know that you can join us, the sooner we will know how many more people we can invite! We need replies and cheques by Sunday, March 8th 2009 please.

    It is possible to reserve the whole restaurant, but even then numbers will be limited, so please no partners, and we suggest that youngsters who were at HK primary schools in the 60s start arranging their own reunion!

    See you in May!

    I'm so excited. What shall  I wear - apart from burnished tan and patrician good looks?

    Ack, no "partners" - I know the perfect agency that arranges such things with decorum and tact. That "Sandra" would have been purrfect on my arm - and how Malcolm Bidwell's jaw would have dropped. Mwah ha ha!

    I think I'll sneak her in anyway - she can be my hat-check gel.

    08 March 2009

    Peter & Gordonpeter n gordon

    No, no. This is too cruel.

    I remember Peter and Gordon - I was learning guitar and P&G and Chad & Jeremy wrote and sang pretty songs with which I laid siege to young ladies' chastity.

    In fact, I think the nerdy one - Peter Asher - was Jane Asher's brother and that Paul McCartney was balling her at the time so they got some nice freebie chansons under pen-names. Anyway ...

    Gordon was the cool good looking one who looked like the captain of rugger and Peter had this ridiculous wimpo haircut and glasses which you couldnt laff at because that's also how *our* hair was, if your housemaster turned a blind eye.

    But what on earth is going on here?

    Two fogey Americans whom I dimly recognise are trying to announce P&G and pretend they are *rock* legends but the scrawny one who's introducing them hasn't a fucking clue who they are because he has to read from a cue card and even that he does badly.

    Listen, idiot: they weren't *rock* stars, they were airy-fairy tunesie folkies like that Big Girls' Blouse, 'Mellow Yellow' Donovan.

    So, here's this old fart rambling all over the place trying to whip up enthusiasm for these blokes of whom no-one has heard and then comes the dread moment for Pete and Gord to actually shuffle out from the wings - shy-making clasps of hand and thumbs up and ... good christ almighty - what a tuneless super-annuated paunchy pair they've sunk to. Their voices ... they don't have any namoore.

    Pure dancing bear sadism for the mob. They shoot horses, don't they?

    Actually, now I've started on this morbid search, I find too many of my childhood saints kept on and on. And on. Remember Hank Locklin and "Please help me i'm falling"? Well, dear Hank (who died this week) seemed not to know when to stop falling - this is heart-rending, for the wrong reason.




    Posted by Picasa

    Beyond Cruelty

    I'm still recovering.

    What sort of people *are* they?

    Poor wretched Binyam Mohamed in the Guardian talking of his appalling tortures in Guantánamo ...

    " ... beaten with a leather strap, held down and punched by masked men, cut with a scalpel on his chest and penis (ouch yaroo), and subjected to psychological torture by being forced to listen to loud music, including Meat Loaf [my itals]."

    There is no God!

    Not ... no, not ... Meat Loaf.

    Anything, I'll confess to anything ...

    Meanwhile, blondie leans closer, hint of cleavage as she croons suggestively,

    "Baby, we can talk all night ... or rather you can - and will."

    It gets worse: Daily Teleg reports that BinMo was also, "shackled in a squat position and made to listen to an album by American rap artist Eminem 'non-stop, 24 hours a day'. "

    Zounds! Which album do you suppose it was, and can you imagine the tizzy over at the Mathers III's record label as they frantically scour MI5, BSS and CIA sources for which f****** album it was. Oh my.

    I can't come up with any witty suggestions:

    Til I Collapse? ~ Bully?

    06 March 2009

    The difference? Well Sir, the Barolo is ripe, rich and round, with lots of spicy, earth-scented black cherry and berry flavors, hinting deliciously at chocolate on the smooth finish, while The Blue Nun is more nylon underpants, skid-marks, ITV, thick crockery, hinting at being kicked all over the street by violent witless oafs for absolutely no reason.'


    26 Intriguing Apps

    05 March 2009

    All Criminals Nowrotten britain

    Whenever well-meaning fellow Brits paw at my sleeve and try to coax me aboard a plane back to Blighty, I cuff them away with a snarled reminder that *their* country that they've inhabited since we last parted in the late 1970s is no longer *my* country.

    By coincidence, The Long Good Friday is being talked about as being 30 years old this year, 2009. Most sites seem to give launch date as 1980 but who's quibbling?

    As Hardeep Singh Kohli nails it in one in his review in the 28 Feb Spectator,

    "The London of 2009 is broken, defined by a new despondency; it couldn't be more different from the fiscal fecundity of the 1979 London that the bombastic pumping, synthesiser- driven soundtrack of the film compels you to watch."

    And now I have Eamonn Butler's excellent piece to ram dahn their froats.

    I might also order a half dozen of his Rotten State of Britain to hand out on the last night and have everyone read extracts over the third VSOP.

  • Upright citizens now spied on, stopped, searched, arrested at gunpoint.
  • Ink hardly dry on Terrorism Act 2000 before Sally Cameron (34) was done for daring to walk along a cycle path. Up roared the Sweeney and orft went Sally to the cells.
  • Octogenarian Walter Wolfgang arrested for heckling Jack Straw at a Labour party conference. (The same feet-of-clay Straw who swanked about his party extending freedoms, not curtailing them.)
  • The whole of London has been designated a stop-and-search area. Thousands of law-abiding folk now stopped and questioned each year: a cricketer asked to explain why he was carrying a bat; 11-year-old girl told to empty her pockets.
  • Another octogenarian picked up by cameras that monitor every car going through the City. He was on police files because they’d nabbed him once before – outside the same Labour conference – for wearing a T-shirt saying George W Bush and Tony Blair were war criminals.
  • Charlotte Denis (20) arrested at a game fair. Her “crime” was to wear a “Bollocks to Blair” T-shirt.
  • Police commanders can get up to £15,000 in performance bonuses, depending partly on how many people they spot-fine, charge or caution.
  • Officers have monthly targets; they do not want to prevent crime but to make criminals of us.
  • It’s much easier to pin a criminal record on someone like bus driver Gareth Corkhill for overfilling his wheelie bin, than it is to catch terrorists. (Yes, local councils use antiterrorist powers to snoop on bin overfillers)
  • A decade ago the police could arrest us only for serious crimes. Now they can pounce on hapless blokes like Keith Hirst (54) for dropping an apple core and refusing to pay the on-the-spot fine
  • You can be fined by police and 1,400 other officials [my emphases] without any legal process.
  • Nor are we - you - safe in your own home: In the past 12 years, officials have been given 550 powers to enter your house: to check if your pot plants have pests, your hedge is too high, confiscate your fridge if it doesn’t have the right energy rating, and yes, photograph and seize your rubbish. Resist, and it’s a £5,000 fine. Your name, address, and even your DNA will be put on the police database. Even if you’re cleared, you’ll have a fight to get it off. That’s why Blighty's DNA database is the world’s biggest.

    As EB says, "We’ve done the terrorists’ work for them and surrendered our freedoms."

    Good article that I'll print and frame for the lower hall loo.

    Safety Fetishism: I'm sorry, Dr  Butler ... and here's another good article - sent in by Sinbad so *he* gets points for assist and I take down all the rude remarks with which I ended this posting.

    sibad poster in window

    ~ COOL COMMENT ~

    Everyone knows I only post this heavy stuff to attract donnish comments from yon Sinbad.

    These I take down to the tap room and impress everyone with my throwaway sagacity.

    Here's The Man:

    "When it can no longer hide behind the mask of contented consensus, the mask of state authority slips. These ideas have been, until recently, seen as eccentric, paranoid, 'Marxist'. Even now commentators like EB blame the spreading officiousness on bureaucrats, pettyfogging officials, 'Little Hitler' litter wardens and parking attendants, unable to see that hegemony which many of us thought had withered with the growth of centre right and left politics (Blair's 'big tent' Third Way, heterarchy replacing hierarchy etc) is alive and well, and as the economic crisis spreads, that force will out. The incidents listed by EB are mere muscle flexing, but few are more blind to this, as they were with the rise of fascism and communism, than those who think they state is somehow naturally on their side.

    I think every middle class citizen should experience being arrested as was my wife five years ago. She won substantial damages for false arrest, wrongful imprisonment and malicious prosecution - but that's because she's feisty and has few illusions.

    See this for amusement."

    And do see it because it's got cool "clickable regions".

    Still on Sinbadedas, M'sieur mentions his dismay at not being on any respectable fuzz database. Actually, that *is* disgraceful for a 'hubby' (dread word!) whose wife  even has the cojones to be arrested and guantánamolested in fashionable fashion.

  • 02 March 2009

    The Spitfire gets a Tattoo

    And a bloody big 'un by the looks of it.

    Does anyone know if that looks real or a decal?

    Pray god the latter.

    01 March 2009