Monday, March 30, 2009

Well Blow Me!

Look at this:


Scary huh? And it wants you to press your mouth against its cold, emotionless gape, breathing your very life's gases into its cavernous robot chest.

This is one of those manikins that teach people to do CPR, which we were using at work the other day to fine-tune our compressions-to-ventilations ratio. I think we got it cheap off a St John's ambulance chap who came round the back one day with it folded up in a suitcase. He said it was surplus to their requirements as they needed something more realistic and so were using Boy Scouts trying to earn their First Aid badges. This isn't as cruel as it sounds as apparently their pliable young ribcages just bounce right back into shape a couple of days later.

After seven or eight people had slobbered all over it's rubbery chops, including Herpes Keith and his Uncompromising Beard of Disease, we thought we'd better give it a bit of a wipe off. As an innate fiddler (I'm not proud of it), I discovered that it's face came right off, which made me feel a bit like an evil professor making a baddy robot to take on The Fall Guy, only when he was The Six Million US Dollars Man. (At current exchange rates, that's about four and half million quid, which seems quite reasonable considering the extent of his injuries.)

So after we had persuaded OCD Nick to clean the mask, simply by showing it to him and mouthing the word "Dirty" a few times, we took photos of the skull-like visage revelaed beneath, and examined out death-mimicking friend in more detail.

The manikin has computer jacks and USB ports in it, which you could link up to a laptop and simulate all sorts of problems that might necessitate a passing do-gooder to begin jumping up and down on their chest. If you've got the appropriate program (and the wherewithal to operate it), you can apparently simulate a pulse (or lack thereof), make it breathe in or even moan convincingly. You are then supposed to come to a conclusion about the cause of the collapse and take appropriate action, although I'm going to stick with the adage that, if they're blue and not breathing, this is classified as "A Bad Thing" so let's not worry about the cause and begin CPR.

Unless of course they're attached to the mains or marinating in a drum of Paraquat, in which case they're on their own.

Apparently these things are getting better and better at mimicking the collapsed person, which leads me to wonder what training manikins are going to be like in the future. To be effective, they're going to need to be as human-like as possible, right down to their internal organs perhaps. Our manikin has a couple of rubbery inflatable lungs and some ribbed tubing to imitate a trachea, but other than that, not much.

Casting a beady eye around t'internet, it does appear that we might be on our way to a higher evolutionary level of training manikin already, judging by this amazing Japanese robot:

I'm hoping that it's a bit more than a pretty Asimo with a rubber mask and a Fleshlight stapled to it (whatever one of those is).

Of course, these things cost a lot of dosh, but how much is too much, and who picks up the bill? Responsible employers? The state? The NHS?

All of this is beyond the scope of my, well, interest. I do think though, if CPR is to be taught, then we shouldn't be waiting for us all to be adults, where we do a one day course and then start eyeing up frail-looking old dears on the bus and hoping (not out loud) that they suddenly go down like a sack of spuds so we can leap up, say "Let me through, I'm a First Aider!" and begin massaging them back to life in front of an improbably attractive lady reporter who's Porsche broke down so she had take the bus and now has the story of the week and a strange tingling feeling as she takes photo after photo after photo . . .

No, we should be learning this stuff at school and then regulalry updating our skills as grown-ups.

It might be a challenge getting teeenagers to get motivated as learning CPR smacks of responsibility and education, which all right thinking 14-year-old boys want to avoid like deoderant and paper-rounds.

So how about teaching them using one of these things:

I bet they'd sidle in, even in their lunch break, just out of curiosity like, and then BLAM! - you educate 'em while they're not looking.

Actually, why should teenagers get the . . . er . . . life-like training manikin? There would probably be a few more volunteers for the First Aid at Work course if this was on offer. Then afterwards we could all have a bit of a party.

Anyone know where we can get a second hand one?

And some alcohol wipes?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Security Blanket

There's seems to be a drive by our (ostensibly) left wing authority figures for a reduction in our civil liberties at the moment. Our current home secretary seems to be trotting out a weekly diatribe of methods in which we will all be "made safer", including detaining people without trial for longer and longer, extra cameras to watch us all breathe in and out, ID cards so we can justify our existence and comprehensive monitoring of social network sites.

Presumably the last one is in case anyone joins the "Facebook Fatwah!" group to discuss latest fashions in explosive vests, or where to buy anthrax spores at competitive prices. Apparently, they're currently having a 'buy a Pandemic, get an Epidemic free' offer on at Microbes-R-Us ("Krazy prices for Krazy religious fundamentalists bent on faith-based carnage! We are an equal opportunities employer!").

Happily, we can rely on our glorious leaders to look after all this information with the utmost competence and ability. Any data collected will be stored securely along with our genetic fingerprints, tax records and home details on a stack of CD ROMS on seat 54B, Coach F of the 15:32 London to Brighton train.

In addition to restricting our already shrinking freedoms, the government is working hard to make sure that there really is a threat out there by antagonising any countries which potentially might harbour a grudge, from the Middle East to Russia, Argentina to Lichtenstein.

These countries might then supply aid to paramilitary organisations so they can recruit disillusioned new members, who will to shout a lot and wave suspiciously new AK47s, before being shot via remote control by a weapons technician wearing a Halo helmet and sitting in a plane six miles away (the helmet costing slightly more than the armour for a whole group of squaddies on the ground, which is why they haven't got any). In turn, this is a good advert for any Saudi Arabian customers who might be interesting in buying our new jet. All this justifies the extra effort being rammed into national security really, at least from an economic viewpoint.

Well, that's how it reads to me at present. Perhaps I should avoid the news for a bit. It's making me paranoid.

So it was with a sense of escape that I went fossil hunting along this beach the other day, in the stunning countryside of East Devon (part of the Jurassic coast):


I was after an ammonite or an ichthyosaur, something impressive to hand to the Natural History Museum so I get a plaque and some kudos, but actually ended up with a bivalve and a pint of Kronenburg. So not a complete loss. I may blog about fossils, if you're really unlucky, but not today.

Whilst yomping my way along the cliffs, I got a good reminder that security was once a far more in-your-face affair than insidious monitoring by shadowy government agencies, and even in such tranquil places as this, there were still physical reminders that we are always just a few short strides from our basest animal instincts of fight and defend:



This bunker had a good view of the open sea, and presumably never saw much in the way of angry fighting, other than who's turn it was to bring the thermos that night. But, situated as it is, looking over some of the most hotly contested stretches of sea in history during World War II (This Time It's Personal!) you can't help but experience a urine-scented wash of history right there.

Imagine starting your shift by clocking in here:


Although the interior decor is a tad out of date, they've made much with the Neolithic look and the Feng Shui is to die for. Not literally, of course.

Well, actually, it's a bunker so positioning probably was literally to die for:

I'm presuming that, during the late thirties and early forties, used condoms and WKD Blue weren't as prevalent as they are today, but then I'm no conflict historian so who knows what they were up to in there.

Near where I was growing up in the Midlands, bunkers were bigger, and almost completely underground where us local kids would use them for dens and smoking practise, or for starting fires in. They had no windows and were generally for storage, so I'm always a bit in awe of bunkers which have views like this one:


Sounds a bit of a cushy number really, sitting in there during the war years and watching for potential enemy vessels hoving into view, where presumably you'd flip open your mobile and give HQ a bell to send reinforcements. There's a number you'd keep on speed dial.

On the other hand, imagine you're looking out admiring the view above, and a shitload of nazi ships (in nautical parlance, a shitload is about twice the size of a flotilla) start heading for your bit of beach. A perfectly possible scenario for the guys in the bunker there. There must've been a constant level of stress involved, which I ought to remember before dissing the apparently easy life. Other than that, easy life.

So, national security is nothing new. It's just changed it's demeanour a little, and become a hell of a lot more complicated. Unfortunately, the people in charge are still only human, and the systems they put in place as fallible as their simple human creators. You can't go far wrong when security involves thick concrete and lots of guns, but when it involves creating an entire climate of fear to target an unconvincing enemy with the solidity of a will o' the wisp, I remain to be convinced we aren't sacrificing too much.

The only thing that heartens me about the increasing levels of observation we're all being subjected to is that it ends up being useless in the general scheme of things anyway. CCTV is becoming so prevalent in the UK that it is becoming impractical to view it all.

Typical. They can't even subdue us competently.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

PITY ME!

Just a quick note. I have been foolish enough to go and contract a norovirus, which is currently doing the rounds of south west Eng-Er-Land. For those of you not in the know, noroviruses are an unpleasant winter diarrhoea and vomitting sickness with aspects of gastroenteritis and lethargy.

I currently resemble the bloke in this picture:

Only without the caring nun-types tending to my needs. I know I'm ill as my appetite has gone and even the thought of a nice pint makes me shudder, which is practically a pre-terminal event for me.

Still, things are looking up now, as I'm finally losing the grey pallor and regaining my normal blue hue, which is good.

So, apologies for the brevity of this post (alhtough some might find that a blessing) and for the lack of recent updates, but I'm POORLY!

*cough*

In the meantime, I am going to ask you to imagine a menagerie.
Now, imagine being the manager of that menagerie.
Can you imagine managing an imaginary menagerie?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Challenge(d)

Occasionally, I set myself a challenge. Sometimes, it involves stopping crime or challenging injustices in the higher echelons of society. Other times, I aim to shift the balance of governmental power or find a new stable element and call it Dangermousium.

I rarely succeed in these, and am coming to the reluctant conclusion that I am setting the bar a tad on the high side. Even now, my self-imposed deadline for publishing a set of equations unifying gravity with current quantum theory is threatening to pass uncompleted because I can't find the plus button on my keyboard.

So, every now and then, I take things down a notch or two. One of those now-and-thens was a recent trip to the local supermarket, which is actually no bigger than most markets, and is essentially a big shop, so why it's called a supermarket I don't know. Moderatemarket would be more apt, I think. Anyway, I decided to take three photos on my phone which I would then put on this blog, be they funny, boring or just odd.

I walked in a picked a basket, which had a note in it. This in itself is not uncommon. People often leave their used shopping lists in the basket because they can't be arsed to take it out, and I'm one fo those interminable nosey sorts who will look at it, amazed that someone actually buys pink wafers and blue pop. I don't use shopping lists because I trust my memory, and anyway I quite enjoy the inevitable repeat trip for bread and milk 40 minutes later. Gets me out of the house.

This note though, wasn't a list, but an instruction:


It says "Lock Shed!", and even has a picture of a lock on it, to reiterate it's main thrust. I took a photo (obviously) as it's one of those things that raises lots of pointless questions, all of which serve no purpose whatsoever. Who left it? Don't they normally lock their shed? Why take the note to the supermarket, which is probably not where the shed is? Does the fast underlining mean that it's particularly important that the shed is locked today?Why? Is there a prisoner in it? Should I call the police and demand they start an investigation, perhaps using forensics and profiling and phones that go biddly-oop-oop and get answered after just one ring?

You know, the usual stuff.

After the nice lady asked me not to call 999 again, unless there was a real emergency, I continued with my shopping trip. Sadly, there was very little else that caught my eye in the Normalmarket, and I didn't fancy posting a picture of a dented tin, because that would be silly.

Also, I didn't see a dented tin.

So I bought a butty and went to the nearby churchyard to scoff it. Unfortunately, as I went to sit on a bench, I noted with disgust that there was poo on it:


I moved away and found another seat, and looked around for some picturey inspiration, but all I could find was a cruelly enclosed tree:

This did make me wonder what the point of the cage was, as it's too big to stop rabbits and squirrels, and there aren't any livestock in that area. It also doesn't stop local teens from using it as a cider-can-and-condom disposal unit, so I'm left with the only conclusion that the cage is to protect us from the tree, which is a terrifying thought.

So there you go. One set of random photos from a quick jaunt out. They're not big, and they're not clever, which suits me down to the ground.

+

Hey, there it is! It was right above the equals all the time!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ass holes.

Whilst out and about in the woolly wilds of Western England last weekend, I came across this rather impressive fallen tree, which looks like a dragon:

I think you'll agree, it really does have a reptilianesque likeness about it.

It would seem that the human brain is insitnctively programmed to recognise patterns, which is why we like stuff shaped like animals. Apparently, human faces are the commonest type of
arrangement we see, which explains reports of the virgin Mary in a tortilla, Princess Diana in every bloody issue of the Daily Mail and, more commonly, the Man in the Moon:

So I wasn't particularly surprised to find that I recognised a lizard in a log which was locally renowned for looking like a lizard, even though it was a log. Not all of them are so easy though, and depend on angle and shadow, like Kennedy's profile in this rocky outcrop.

The following image is a good example. It is said that, at certain angles and in a certain light, you can make out the eerie visage of an owl:


And here, on a hillside, natural processes of wind, rain and windswept grass have combined to form the outline of a donkey:

Actually, the last one was at a Donkey Sanctuary, so it may be more the result of a bloke with a white-line painter and too much time on his hands than the mysterious conjunctions of erosion and subconscious pattern-recognition.

Staying on the subject of donkey charities, it was good way to spend a couple of hours, and apparently they never turn a donkey away. I have a similar philosophy, only involving cream eggs and Badger's beer.

It must be difficult running a charity, and I expect you have to choose your market well. Donkey's tug at the heartstrings of the British a little more than, off the top of my head, they would to someone from Spain. It'd be like setting up a frog-protection society in Paris. Or Crufts in Korea. Even the word "donkeys" appeals to us, for some reason. Rhymes wth wonkey.

Even when it's got its target audience sorted, a charity must constantly have to think of ways to get dosh out of the punters. I have to say though, I have rarely come across a more sure-fire way of getting a donation out of you than having, on display, a recuperating donkey with all holes drilled in his head:



Apparently, it's the result of some necessary surgery and the critter isn't in any pain. There was a sign telling as much while I looked on in horrified fascination, immediately reserving ten of my moderately-effort-earned English pounds for their coffers.

At least they said it was necessary, and I presume it wasn't some cold, capitalist money-making venture for some fat-cat donkey magnate sat in a mahogany office laughing manically as coins and notes flowed through suction tubes directly to his personal account in Switzerland. Am I being naive? Maybe they weren't real holes, just expertly applied make up. Should I have poked a finger in to check or is that frowned upon? There's very little literature available on the etiquette involved when it comes to donkey-head holes. Either way, they couldn't have been surer of getting money out of me had they hired a one-armed baby orangutan holding out a cancer-riddled kitten.

A lot of the money was to help fund a state-of-the-cart veterinary
centre, conveniently right next to Holey Ass's paddock.

Anyway, it was a good place. It's in Sidmouth, and I advise you to go. If you can't make it physically, then go there virtually via the magic of DONKEYCAM!

Look at 'em.

Donkeys!


Monday, March 16, 2009

The Seventies Tribute to Tony Hart

I was born long ago, in the Year of the Unsuitable Panda, or 1971 as it's known by more humdrum but accepted calendars.

This means that, as a nipper, I was subjected to things that would be unacceptable for contemporary children. Amongst others, these things included going out unsupervised, eating bright blue things, playing with knives and buying your own fireworks with the sole (discretionary) warning of "Do NOT let off indoors!" which amused us for hours, as this was a euphemism for flatulence.

'Health' and 'Safety' were two separate, unrelated terms when I was being dragged up. The first described what you would get by staying outside for nine hours at a time, in the winter, with a jumper and mismatching woolly gloves you'd inherited from Auntie Gladys, who must have had two fingers and three thumbs judging by their fit.

"You've been playing Pong all day! Get some fresh air in your lungs." a concerned adult would say through clouds of cigarette smoke "It's healthy is that." And then they would slink back into the dark, orange-linoed recesses of a seventies abode, probably to make a drink and get ice out of a plastic container shaped like a pineapple.


The term 'safety' was typified by the act of not falling off the Witch's Hat in the playground. For those of you who don't remember, the Witch's Hat was a large conical frame that spun (span? spinned?) irregularly around a central greased spindle of wrought pig-iron:



The lowest point was about 15 feet off the ground, and the highest, which was the aim of every seventies child to get to, was somewhere in the ionosphere, just above the Golden Eagle eyries. You could see it in the clouds as solar winds caused aurorae to flicker around it's summit. Around the bottom were the broken and maimed bodies of friends and classmates who had failed to hold on as the speed got up, their cries drowned out by the ethereal metallic groan of the ill-maintained equipment.

At least, that's how I remember it. And Wagon Wheels were the size of real wagon wheels then.

Anyway, I digress. As a seventies child I was also influenced by the relatively new phenomenon of children's television. Admittedly, a lot of it was abject shite, and involved plummy voiced women telling stories about how children should just do what they were told, when they were told and life would be far more pleasant for everyone involved. Except, of course, the children.

Now and then though, there were shows which were universally lauded for their high standards, and one of these was 'Take Hart'. For the very young or those that are Britishly Challenged, this was a kind, gentle, genuinely pleasant show where an avuncular artist called Tony Hart showed kids how to draw, and then got them to send in their paintings where they were displayed in a segment cryptically entitled "Gallery".

That was it. And we all loved it. Just about everyone I knew sent in the odd piece to him, and then hoped it would be one of the eight hundred scrawlings that were shown as if they were valuable Constables. I never got on it, nor in fact did anyone I knew, but I think this was because I was from a mining town where crayons were in short supply and we had to make do with coal and dried dog shit.

And in the seventies, dog shit was white! You just don't see that anymore.

Take hart also introduced us all to the long-standing animated character of Morph, a shape-shifting plasticine man who lived in Tony's paint box.

Sadly, Tony Hart died in January, aged 83, and the level of tributes in the UK was touching, including this, where people made their own Morphs in remembrance of him.

Now, you can imagine my pleasure when I turned up to work the other day and found another seventies child wanted to remember Mr Hart, and had set up a Gallery of his own on the canteen wall. He had left a number of coloured pencils and some sheets of paper, and asked people to contribute in memory of the great man.

I thought this was a commendable idea as, not only did it honour an influential (sort of) character from our childhoods, but also allowed those of us that missed out on having a picture displayed on national telly in front of literally dozens of viewers, to momentarily correct that oversight. So, when my half-hour break came up, I diligently got scribbling, in an effort to represent the feelings of seventies children everywhere upon learning of Tony Hart's demise.

So, for your viewing pleasure, I present my effort. It's entitled "Morph's Scream" and is entirely uninfluenced by any other painting whatsoever:



RIP Mr Hart.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Boaring day out

I'm on holiday! We're currently at a B &/or B in East Devon, near Exmouth, and have really lucked out with the weather. Blue skies and white fluffy clouds as far as the eye can see.

I love this bit of Earth, and because my sprog is a bit young to be camping, we've splashed out on the aforementioned B&B for the sake of convenience. The Full English breakfast every morning is perhaps overdoing things, and I'm sure my arteries now resemble a cave where half-blocked walls reluctantly allow fluids past, and furry deposits amaze pot-holers with their sheer scale. Only made of lard and cholesterol. Not that I'm going to not have one for my last day tomorrow mind. I've paid for this, health risk or no, and I'm damned well going to choff my way through another plateful of egg, snorkers, bacon, fried bread, toast and the strangely out of place but tolerated tomato representing the vegetable minority in a meat and grease world.

It's a proper working dairy farm as well here, look:


As you can see, it's Friesian outside. A than' yew.

Now, in order to entertain my youngster, and to further facilitate his education in the natural world, we took him to a rather marvellous wildlife sanctuary stroke gardens stroke bird park stroke fish shop. He was initially fascinated by the peacocks, and one conveniently displayed for us, which probably gave my boy the impression that animals are put on this planet to pander to him in every way. This is not a mindset I want him to get into, as that way arrogance lies. Happily, the peacock concurred, choosing a moment of blissful peace and quiet to scream incoherently in my little boys face. Result - one wailing, shaking toddler who is now inconsolable if he so much as glimpses a feather.

Possibly a bit far that. We moved on and showed him some more peaceable birdies, like this ornamental pheasant, which soothed him a bit:

Purdy, huh?

One thing they did have, which was pretty cool, was a family of tiny otters from the far east, which are only a couple of feet long. We were there in time for feeding, and it was great fun to behold. Very popular with the kiddies, and you can see why:


Another popular attraction was this:



Jurassic Pork. A few of our rarely seen native hogs, which are a lot bigger and cooler looking than I was expecting. Also hairy. Very, very hairy. Look at this thang:


There were some other unattended kids blocking our view, and I wanted to see the boars a bit more clearly without these jostling juveniles obstructing our view. They were a bit loathe to move using subtle techniques of "Can the little boy have a look?", and just stood there sullenly. At least they did until I informed them that those muddy, creamy spheres the boars were gnawing with their oversize tusks were actually the skulls of lost children, who's parents had decided it was easier to leave than traipse back all the way from the car park to look for them. There was sudden disquiet and, moment's later, an obvious urge to go and catch up with their folks.

Mind you, it's believable when you watch them:



See? Baby heads. Okay, it helps if you're six. And have been told it's a baby head by an irresponsible adult.

Still, their future costly therapy is a small price to pay, as my boy got some nice close up views and was rather taken with them, especially the baby pigs (called Hamlets, I believe) which found a comfy perch:


Very little difference to my own role really, offering a comfortable place to sit for ungrateful offspring.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The wonderful thing about taggers is . . .

Well, once again I have been stuck in the quagmire of reality, when everyone knows I would rather be dancing the light fandango in the ethereal netherworld of the internet, with you lot. This means that blog posts are fewer and further between than I would like, simply due to the fact that I have to provide my employers with a significant fraction of my valuable time.

It's just not on. If I was rich, I could blog to my hearts content. I'm not greedy. A single billion quid would do me.


Anyway, the erudite and incomparable Madame DeFarge at
Bateau de Banane (which roughly translates from the original sanskrit as 'she who has a banana-like bottom') has requested, nay deemed, me to continue with a six-pointed tag-fest that has been doing the rounds. And why not, I thought, suddenly having 15 minutes free before I go to bed.

Now, this exercise involves giving half a dozen facts about yourself and then tagging another six bloggers so that they can then suffer the same torment, and you can feel solidarity in your suffering.

First, apparently, I have to list the rules, of which there are five.

1) Put the link of the person who tagged you on your blog (That'll be Madame DeFuh, as above)

2) Write the rules (What you is currently perusing)
3) Mention 6 things or habits of no real importance about you (see below)

4) Tag 6 persons adding their links directly (I shall choose people randomly, and by random I mean subjectively)
5) Alert the persons that you tagged them (hopefully by reading this post)


Facts about me could easily become similar to the Chuck Norris meme because of my inherent bodacious orsumness, but I think it only fair to reign myself in a bit. So, in honour of peer pressure, my six things are:


1) I was born with hair down to my shoulders. The midwives suggested my parents call me Ringo.

2) I've eaten eathworms. As a grown up. And not as a dare.

3) I've have a resting pulse rate of 56.

4) I used to be a biologist, and still find it interesting.

5) I lack the ability to panic and have no phobias at all.

6) I find knives fascinating. This reads as a bit weird, but I'll let it stand.

The 6 peeps that I wouldn't mind answering these things if they have the inclination are:

Douglas - because I admire his genuinity.
Neo - because he mentioned Chuck Norris, and so did I!
Alex - because he doesn't post enough.
Steam Me Up, Kid - because she's funnier than a clown drowing in sputum.
Thinkinofyou - because writing quiets the voices in her head.

Hey, this has been a pictureless post. Sorry about that.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Food of the sods

After a busy few days of having to endure real life and earn moolah so I can keep the household residents in parsley and plastic tat, I finally have time to write a blog entry. In fact, that whole busy-busy-busy malarky reminds me how much I appreciate a break halfway through, albeit a very short, temporary one. There are few better things for a working man with a strong limbic system than a nice dinner in the middle of a hard day (other than some sex and a cool beer at the end of it, maybe).

Mmm . . . sex and beer . . .

Sorry, where was I. Oh yes. Dinner.

Being on a health kick lately, I have eschewed my usual routine of forgetting to take lunch with me and then buying some high fat, butter-endowed pastry concoction of artery-clogging loveliness, and have instead been taking in some pre-cooked home-made meals all ready to be microwaved.

I consider cookery to be heating things up. I'm quite good with raw toast and have been known to slice cheese quite thinly, but other than that I'm not what you'd call a natural in the kitchen. So, being ignorant in the culinary arts I was, of course, intially sceptical. How could that very hot cupboard in my kitchen, apparently called an oven, compete with the almighty power of Ginsters and their ethereal pie-magic? That was until my good lady wife demonstrated the power of quality cooking, and gave me a hot and frankly delicious chilli to take in. It was lovely, filling and, amazingly, quite good for me. And no pie can compete with a chilli, even a healthy one.

Although, what about Chilli Pie? No, I mustn't contemplate such things. That way madness lies.

It's going well, this eating stuff from home lark. It's better for me, it's more economical and it makes me look like I care about what I eat, so my colleagues think I'm a strong, decisive character. Soon, I will no doubt be given a raise by managers nodding in admiring unison at my perceived competence.

Unfortunately, this effect was rather spoiled when, with hunger gnawing at the very marrow of my being, I dropped my pasta 'n home-made sauce down the back of the works fridge:


Bugger.

So, after a rapid clean-up (which involved moving the refrigerator a foot to the right whilst whistling nonchalantly), I made a quick visit to a local eatery, and after perusing the offers of salads and fruit, opted for a Cornish pasty. Made of cow and lard. Vegetables were represented by some stilton, as this has mould on it.

It would seem that good intentions regarding my own health and welfare are merely a thin veneer coating a chassis of self-destructive greed and short-sighted gluttony.

Mmm . . . self-destructive greed and short-sighted gluttony. . .

I don't think I'm the only person suffering this lack of moral fibre, but plenty of people manage to overcome it, sometimes for two or three weeks at a time. So my plan for the future is not to fall at the first hurdle, but to try and eat a bit more healthily as much as I can, although it's a well known historical fact that plans can survive anything except direct contact with reality.

Still, I can but try.

Right, I'm off for a curry.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

In the kernow

To quote Spike Milligan;

The Spring has sprung, the sap is riz.
I wonder where the boidies is?
They say the boid is on the wing.
But that's absoid.
The wing is on the boid.

There's a soup├žon of sunlight flickering its sedentary way through the atmosphere here in my bit of Eng-er-land, and it reminds me that it's March. Always feels like the year is well underway by now, and that Summer is not far off and camping and hiking are distinct possibilities.

We went for a yomp down to Land's End last year (or was it the year before? Answers on a postcard please to the usual address: The Gravel Farm, c/o The Internet).

Cornwall is a deceptively long way away for British people, who generally think they ought to consider a B&B if travelling over a hundred miles away. By the time you get to Bristol, you think you're nearly there, but you're not. It's still a good few hours on, so it really is a good idea to consider a hotel, or take a tent. It also explains the infuriatingly high numbers of caravans on the road, as humans decide they'd better make like snails and slowly carry their homes around with them at a pace more familiar to geologists studying plate tectonics. One must do battle with these road-blocking creatures, avoiding eye-contact lest they offer you some Camp Coffee or proudly show you their toilet with all blue water in it. Eventually you'll make it.

And it's completely worth it. I'm not going to show you photographs of the stunning vistas and seascapes that Cornwall is famous for, as you can see them on postcards or internet tourist sites, but I will share with you a couple of things that caught my interest. For instance, a really nice rock formation:


A geologically minded friend did explain (in hideously great detail) the processes of sedimentation and layering involved, and the time-scales needed for the subsequent buckling of those layers into the formation we see here, which was all very interesting but doesn't take away from the fact that I took this photo because the cave bore a passing resemblance to a giant anus.

I never claimed to be high-brow.

Also on the walk, near Sennen Cove which is pretty in its own right, I came across the wreck of the RMS Mulheim, which ran aground in 2003 and then broke apart:


I expect the locals were very excited as visions of Whisky Galore galloped unbidden through their looting-addled brains, before they learned the Mulheim was carrying a cargo of scrap plastic. You wouldn't have been more disappointed if it was carrying bags of old dressings from the local impetigo colony. Still, at least it makes for an interesting tourist attraction:

I wonder if the Captain got done for littering?

So, after a long hike taking pictures of giant bottom-holes and scrapped scrap-vessels, we made our way into a local cafe for a refreshing cup of beverage, which is the acceptable thing to be done not only by tourists, but also some locals as well:


This seagull walked past the open door a few times, obviously casing the joint, then casually sauntered in as though just perusing the wall-mounted menu, before grabbing a bag of crisps and legging it out, closely followed by the irate owner of the shop shouting "Bloody fevverred baaaarstid!" in tones of unnappreciation.

Amusingly, it flew off, only to return moments later when the owner had resumed his position behind the counter, to eat the bag of crisps right outside the front of the cafe.

I think it's probably an ongoing feud that stretches back through generations of their respective families. Not the sort of thing you can get involved in, because it will take a lot of mediation to sort out. A lot of give and take on both sides.