Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bug eyed monster

With the imminent outbreak of the mad pig death virus that will destroy civilisation as we know it (I've been reading the tabloids), it seems sensible to take certain precautions in case, as the acronym goes, TSHTF*.

For this reason, I am going to prepare a bug out box.

Oh yes.

One of my little peccadilloes is the occasional (albeit rare these days) bit of wild camping, where I sneak off into the woods and hide in a bivi, whilst definitely not camping on private land, lighting fires or burying my poo because that would be in direct contravention of various bylaws which I fully respect and adhere to. Thanks to this hobby, I happen to have a small amount of what could be termed survival kit, currently ensconced in the garage. This kit will also be present in the bug out box, in case we need to evacuate the area and live in a camouflaged yurt under the M5.

Now I know this smacks of paranoid survivalism, but I'm not talking about making my own heavily armed fort and proclaiming myself King of the New World, because that would be silly. I haven't even got a crown.

Just a few supplies to see me and my family through any loss of services, or reduction in victuals that we might need. Things like tins, candles, water, calor gas, stove, pasteurised milk, dried foods, homemade crossbow, matt-black armoured Nissan Micra adorned with the sun-bleached skulls of my defeated foes.

You know. The usual.

So, let's see what we've got in the kit at the moment:

Knife? Check. Carbon steel Frosts Mora Clipper (cheap and cheerful, sharpens up well and gives a good spark from a fire-steel).
Fire-steel? Check. Swedish, high temperature sparks, embedded in red deer antler to make me feel a bit more rugged. I would like to say I hollowed out the antler myself after fighting a stag for it on the moors of Rum, but actually I ordered it online. From a chap called Colin.
Stone? Check. For sharpening knife after you've unadvisedly used it as a hammer.
Lady's leather Belt? Check. Because it's all the rage in the woods at the moment. Also for knife sharpening.
Snare wire? Check. Ostensibly to catch squirrels and rabbits, but more likely used to dry my undercrackers after a swim.
Matches? Check. Normal and waterproof, in case I ever want to light a fire in a pond.
Plastic bottle full of kindling? Check. Currently contains some cotton wool and silver birch bark. I always have silver birch bark around, partly because it burns well and slowly, but mostly because I find it quite satisfying peeling a silver birch tree. If you've never done it, give it a go. You'll see what I mean.
Fishing line? Check. In case there's no room left on the snare wire for my socks.
Retractable saw? Check. For when I realise that cutting branches off with your knife is just too much like hard work and gives you a blister on the inside of your thumb, which you then can't stop fiddling with until it pops and gets all slimy blister-juice on your mug handle, making you go "Ew! Ew! Ew!" before looking around to see if anyone saw you act like a wuss even though you're in the middle of the woods and haven't seen anyone else for two days.
Toilet paper? Check. For looking at wistfully, but never using as it's only there for an emergency and anyway, those big burdock leaves are still Spring-soft.
Axe? Check. Light, hollow-handled and sharp. For throwing at tree-stumps whilst singing Monty Python songs.
Whistle? Check. No idea why.
Potassium permanganate? Check. For water purification and wound care, also fire lighting if you've got some glucose tablets. Which I haven't.
Water purification tablets? Check. Self-explanatory, but useful as I'm too nervous to use potassium permanganate because it can kill you if it's overly purple. Pink to drink, red you're dead. Bit of a narrow margin for error really.
Spoon knife? Check. For carving smooth curves such as bowls and spoons.
Wooden spoon? Check. For taking about three months to be carved by spoon knife and still looking like a deformed banjo.
Candle? Check. For lighting up at night so you can find your torch.
Torch? It was here somewhere? Damn. Wish I had a torch. I could find it then.

See, all useful kit.

I also include huge amounts of this stuff:

Because I have the knotting ability of pig-iron, I have to use reams and reams of paracord for the simplest tasks of attaching a couple of branches together when constructing my idyllic woodland abode. As more capable outdoorsfolk have noted when viewing my artistry: "It ain't pretty, but it works." Coincidentally, I use the very same phrase for my penis.

Additionally, I have a decent first aid kit, and some nice cookware, as well as a pocket version of Lofty Wiseman's SAS survival guide, which is useful for reminding me just how bad I am at all this stuff.

The good lady Mrs The Jules was a tad perturbed when she saw me getting all my stuff together although, after I assured her she hadn't interrupted me planning a quick get away from the life obstacles that are her, my offspring and mortgage, she decided it would indeed be wise to get some stocks in, just in case supplies wound down in the shops for a few days.

I proudly pointed out the bug out box, the tarps, the aluminium cooking utensils, and my plans for ease of carriage and storage. I could knock up an animal-proof food shelter in just a couple of days hours, and set crayfish traps for a ready supply of fresh protein. Ray Mears would nod appreciatively in his £300 Gore-tex, and Bear Grylls would recognise the basic concepts, before biting the head off a live fish in a hotel garden an inaccessible wilderness.

She pointed out the cupboards in the kitchen. Also, the fridge.


So, instead of living in the woods with the sky as our ceiling, the morning dew as our duvet and a hacking cough as our night-time companion, she wants to go all soft and live in a house with a full larder, a flushing toilet and a tough PVC door with a lock on it.


Actually, that sounds pretty good.

Right, I'll lock the garage up, although in the interests of sensible tool-making for the post-civilisation era of feudal anarchy we are about to enter, I might try and knock up a back-scratcher based on the following design:

Only sensible really.

* Faecal Matter Impacting The Rotating Cooling Device.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Boozed up

Hello, my name is The Jules and I like drinking alone, until bedtime, when I find I have to bounce off the walls on my way up to bed, giggling inanely at my own burps.

There. I said it. Thank you. Such a relief. Now I can start to . . .

. . .well, carry on regardless actually.

You see, shockingly, I'm not that bothered by my current levels of alcohol consumption. This goes against current media reports that we must all cut back on our booze as it is ruining society and contributing to 'Broken Britain', the cliché à la mode that automatically makes me want to punch the person who says it, or vote for the party that they're not a member of.

And we should all take notice of the media due to their pristine record of abstinence when it comes to recreational drug and alcohol consumption, shouldn't we?

No, we should make up our own minds. So, in the spirit of evidence based living, I conducted a completely objective poll at work to see if anyone else liked getting sozzled on the rare nights you get to yourself, with the aim being to see if I drink too much (sociologically speaking, not physiologically, cos most people drink too much if we're thinking in strictly medical terms), and the results were surprising.

First I asked Clare, who stared at me as though I spent my spare time biting the heads of terrapins before telling me "You need to get help." Then I polled my mate Phil, who reported that, yes, he does enjoy a quiet night in, with the telly and some booze, slowly getting four or five sheets to the wind.

So there you have it. Although not exactly a randomised control trial in the strictest sense of the term (i.e. at all) we can use the power of statistics to conclude that 50% of the UKs population like getting drunk alone whilst in their own house, in their own time.

Of course, I'm a happy, chatty drunk, whilst Phil is a mean drunk, so whilst I can talk to Bert the house rabbit about quantum physics, which I suddenly understand with a clarity that eludes me during sobriety (very good listeners rabbits, you can tell by the ears), Phil has to fight a door.

Alcohol has a bad press at the moment, due to the countrys current passion for binge drinking. It's a real problem, apparently, and the only way to combat it is, so they tell us, to put the price up.

Er . . . is it though? If alcohol was more expensive, would it make any difference to my (and therefore my countryfolks) habits? Well no. I don't usually drink to he point of cerebral clobberation anyway. And neither do most people in reality. It's an occasional thing.

These days, I am well-off enough to afford a constant supply of my favourite tipple, which is single malts of various denominations. I could drink a bottle of the stuff a day, without doing too much damage to my finances.

But I don't.

"Why," I hear you ask, "if you can afford it, don't you just go hell for leather and get smashed every night?" This is a good point, and takes some analysis.

I don't drink a bottle of the good stuff every day because:
a) It would kill me, possibly through cirrhosis and pancreatitis, where I might begin to digest myself from the inside out, a form of death that is more suitable as a plot for a science-fiction/horror story than a real way to go.
b) I have to interact with other humans, and it's difficult to be taken seriously if you're pronouncing words like "management" as "flammyflam" and telling the postman he's your bestest chum ever, and would he like to come in for a cheeky game of poker.
c) It makes your breath smell like an old propane heater that's been used as a urinal.
d) I have a two-year-old son, who likes to imitate me.
e) Although my ability to sing and play pool are vastly improved with inebriation, other skills seem to degrade with the consumption of large quantities of alcohol, including that motor co-ordination required to accurately point percy at the porcelain.
f) The following morning brings with it a feeling that, should you ever regain the energy to raise your arm, the most beneficial thing you could do would be to shoot yourself in the head. With a gun.
g) Calories - alcohol is annoyingly calorific. Who'd have thought something so nice might be bad for you?

So, there you go. There are a number of reasons that I don't binge drink all the time (just occasionally), even though I could afford to if I wanted to. This is called a sense of responsibility, and is the real reason why there are so many young drinkers vomiting in the streets today. Putting the price up will just make them spend more, which isn't going to help anybody (except the taxman).

The problem occurs with the small minority of idiot drinkers (not including alcoholics, who have a disease, so they drink to forget, which makes them remember how much they love getting pissed), who need to be targeted more specifically (i.e. told to grow up) so the rest of us aren't punished for their lack of self-control.

Even then, the idea of teenagers not being very responsible hardly fills me with trepidation. I was hardly the epitome of self-control when I was nineteen. The evenings were not spent assessing my accounts and comparing pet insurance, whilst putting a spot of cash aside every month so I could go to Croatia in June. No, I got badgered on Boddington's and ratted on Red Stripe (which takes some doing as it's weaker than frog piss), knowing that the burden of responsibility awaited me as an older man.

Now I am that older man and I could, theoretically, afford to maintain a constant state of internal irrigation if'n I wanted. In fact, if I did it regularly it might (possibly) have an impact on my employability, which could have a reciprocal effect on my ability to purchase it, which might be a sort of negative feedback loop system for the prevention of alcohol dependence, so that's a comforting thought.

With this in mind, I feel I can, in relative safety, continue to visit this cupboard in the kitchen:

You'll note that I am being sensible in my purchases in this time of recession by sticking to Sainsbury's Basics range of brandy. It might not have soothed the creases from Napoleon's arsenic-furrowed brow, but I can't tell the difference after two or three glasses anyway, philistine that I am.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Zoom Error

Normally, I like to take pictures on my phone, and trasplant them to this blog via the wonderful world of the wide, wide web (wwwww). That's why I like a phone that takes pictures, but I'm not too bothered about other fancy stuff like games, GPS or tiny rude films your mates send you involving a man named Mr Hands who is apparently dead now, which is perhaps not surprising considering what he let horses do to him . . .

But I negress.

Other than photomagrams, I just use my mobile for talking (sometimes to people) and for grammatically correct texts, which may take longer but I'll be damned to the cold, cold recesses of literary darnation before I type "c u l8r".

I wonder what they read in literary hell? Probably Heat magazine and A Kestrel for a Knave. And any recent Ben Elton books. (Please may I have my money back for Blind Faith, Mr Elton? It was worse than sticking salty pins in my eyes. No offence.)
That's a very Anglocentric reading hell list, so you'll have to make up your own if you exist in another country.
Anyhoo (that's to seduce any readers from across the pond. See, I might spell colour with a 'u' but we still speak roughly the same language, so finish your corndog-flavoured sasparilla and read on), I like a phone with a camera and that's about it, but even those have limitations which can be a bit frustrating when you see a perfect blog photo opportunity whilst meandering the malls of western England:
How often do you come across a chap in an electric wheelchair with a knife stuck through his cranium? Less than once a week, I'm sure. Look at that. It's still got blood on it. Rather than tell him he ought to get that seen to, I thought "Photo opportunity!" and immediately produced my phone. Unfortunately, it was blurred, so I'm forced to describe it to you, which sort of defeats the object of pictures really. They're supposed to paint a thousand words, but this one is only saying about 450.
This is a pity because, well, it's totally a bloke with a knife through his head. I wonder if it had just happened and he just hasn't noticed yet, or if it's been there for years and he's been told by doctors that it's safer just to let it lie, and not to pick it.
He could be a bit like Iron Man where the shrapnel in his heart made him stronger because of the strangely rejection-proof electromagnet in his chest that kept the conveniently iron-based shards from piercing his ventricles, with the handy side effect of powering his super-suit. Only here it's a knife through the brain and the electromagnet is provided by the NHS so it's only powerful enough to activate a motorised shopping trolley.
Either way, no one in the joke shop he was sat outside seemed bothered, so I thought I'd better mind my own business as well. If it's a new injury, he'll notice it at the end of the day when he finds it hard to take his hat off.
So occasionally, if I remember, I like not to have to rely on a secondary function of a mobile communications device and take a proper camera out with me. Not proper as in having film in the back and complicated figures inscribed all over it like magic runes, where you nod wisely in discussion with real photographers and pretend you know what focal length and aperture settings are. Just a Fuji which you point at something, press a button and get a pretty picture in the window at the back. That's my kind of proper.
Imagine my dissapointment when I got this message on the back of my Finepix:
Zoom error? I thought that was something I got on the motorbike after opening it up on a cattle grid, resulting in the back wheel skipping like a merry bunny and every sphincter I own fluttering like Bambi's eyelids. Apparently, it's also a technical term on your camera for . . . er . . . summat's wrong.
I gave Fuji-san the once over and, using my extensive technical abilities of hardware diagnosis, think that the following might be the problem:
It's stuck faster than my ability to find an amusing simile for a stuck digital camera lens.
There's a possibility that this could have happened following what I like to think of as a positive interaction with gravity.
When I dropped it.
Nice though it is to see Newton finally vindicated, this does mean I now have to purchase a new digital camera. Either that or get a better phone.
I wonder if they do cameras which you can phone and text on?
C u l8r.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Last Temptation of Bikes

I drive like an old lady on Zopiclone these days. If I'm on a long journey, on the motorway perhaps, where the legal limit of 70mph is seen as a conservative guideline, I often find myself pootling along at about 64. It causes the missus some anxiety, as she's still in the flush of youth and likes to attempt speeds not seen since the donkeys on Pendine sands were hassled by Donald Campbell in the Bluebird. She often points out that I am turning into a Dad-driver which, considering my car is a Ford Focus C-Max with a two-year-old child and kaleidoscopic seat stains as non-optional extras, is possibly an accurate description.

But there is a reason for this. We are a one car family. I get my thrills from my other form of vehicular propulsion; my Suzuki Bandit motorcycle. I like it. It goes vrum in a very loud way, and moves along at a fair old lick. It's a middle-of-the-range bike with a 600cc engine, so it's not going to get nods of admiration from those thousand-plus capacity, colour-coordinated summer racing types who put flint on their knees so they get sparks when they corner, but it's good enough for me. I can ride all day on it and not get back-ache or a calloused perineum.

I'm the one on the left, blue bike with two headlights:

The other bloke is my mate Pete who, like me, is an all-weather rider. Our clothes are practical, warm and waterproof. We aren't afraid of rain, wind, snow or ice because we know how to go slow and steady if conditions are less that perfect. There are a couple of differences. Pete likes vibrant colours whilst I'm boring and buy black or navy blue clothes, and Pete has an MP3 player wired into his jacket and helmet, whereas I make do with the music in my head, which is good because it drowns out those wiseass voices and their constant calls to obey them.

No, I'm writing my blog. We'll kill later.

There's not much to beat opening the throttle on a warm day and leaning into the corners as you skidaddle through the cundryside. If you ride a bike, you'll know why dogs hang their heads out of car windows, and you might recognise that speed does tend to increase rather than decrease if you're having fun. You have to watch that twitchy right wrist action.

Of course, even when I'm giving it some welly, I'm never going to out-accelerate some of those shiny, huge-engined monsters that scream past startled pedestrians at breakneck speed, hoping not to embed themselves in trees when they overcook a corner. I take comfort from the fact that, come October, when they are cosied up in their Audis, their Hayabusas tucked up in the garage for the winter, I become one of the fastest riders on the road by default. Get in.

Of course, there's no getting away from the fact that I am a Daddy (not in a 'who's the Daddy!' sort of way, but as in the kind who has photos in his wallet where his money used to be), and I've noted with concern that my little boy loves motorbikes. He points them out, laughs when he sees them and last night spent forty minutes just sitting in my saddle shouting "Vroom Vroom" a lot. This worries me, which is ironic as my own Father, who has owned a few bikes over the years, recently admitted that he'd never let on how much fun riding was for fear of one of his own sons getting into it.

Bikes are not as safe as cars.

There. I said it. Took some doing. Thank you. Yes, I will have a cup of tea, It's nice to get these things in the open. I've never been to Bikers Anonymous before. Is that cake?

For me, this is fine. I am indestructible to everything except man-flu (terrible curse), but I don't like the thought of my little boy ever getting one.

It seems odd then, that we pandered to his fascination for motorbikes and bought him this for his second birthday:

Cool, innit?

Okay, so it has no motor, is made of wood, and is propelled using the power of feet-scooting, but it is recognisably based on the motorbike.

He loves it, and as soon as his feet can touch the ground on it, I predict many hours of happy scooting. But the fact remains that we are encouraging his love of things two-wheeled and perhaps a bit dangerous. For whatever reasons, being a biker does command a modicum of respect, so you can see why kids hanker after them.

So, how to discourage getting a bike till he's old and sensible, like what I all am?

I could show him graphic pictures of injury, but knowing kids he'll think they're cool. I could say he might end up with a scar . . no that's cool too. Broken limbs? They like the idea of plaster casts. Expense? They're cheaper than cars in every way.

It would appear bikes are cool, no matter what the naysayers might think. Even the downsides have a bit of the "Yeah, it's bad, but it's good" motif going on.

Happily, I think I have the answer. It is based on how vulnerable you are as a biker, but not through injury, or cold, or wetness.

It's because of your friends and workmates can take advantage of the fact that you must leave your biking clothes unattended, ready to don at the end of a long, hard shift. For example, I was getting ready to go home last week and found someone had taken time out of their busy day to do this to my helmet and gloves:

Raiding the shredder and poking the bits into every finger of the gloves and every crevice of the helmet must've construed a good fifteen minutes of their time, so kudos for that. It took me longer to get all the big bits out, and I was itching like I'd got fleas with headlice when I got home, thanks to the paper dust that was coating my ears.

In the past I have also arrived in the works garage to find my bike cellophaned, including my helmet, trousers and jacket.

Is that a good advert for not having a motorbike? Don't do it son, you've got mates!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Goose stepping

We went for a visit to the bird place I've blogged about recently, at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire.

Have you ever had that uneasy feeling that you're being followed?

It made me nervous. I thought I was about to goosed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Inexorable Advance of Efficiency

I don't trust technology.

Having said that, I'm a human being, so I like that technology which is so intrinsic to us it practically defines us as a species, such as the lever, fire and the wheel. And the Samsung E900 mobile phone with 5 megapixel camera, it would seem.

Of course, there's quite a difference between liking and trusting. I like my mate Klepto Tony, but I don't trust him. He nicks things, does Klepto Tony, can't help himself. He tells a good anecdote or two, so whilst you'd meet up for a pint and a chat, you wouldn't let him in your house, or even go shopping with him. Actually, if he didn't give me such great birthday presents, I probably wouldn't meet up with him at all. Must spend a fortune.

I like my penis, but I don't trust it not to cloud my judgement and send me off into a reverie of tumescent reflection for no apparent reason. Usually on the bus. I like beer, but I trust that like I'd trust a man named Louis who offered to tarmac my drive on the cheap. A lot of people like cigarettes, although trusting those is like trusting Harold Shipman to make you a cocktail. Actually, kids do start smoking because they trust ciggies to make them look cool, and smoking is an individualistic, rebellious thing to do, which they know because all their friends do it.

So, there's a difference between liking things and trusting things, and this is no more evident than technology.

I like helicopters, but I don't trust them. I don't trust anything that copies a sycamore seed for it's flying abilities. They're supposed to fall, for chuff's sake! I like computer games, but I don't trust them. You think you're having a harmless bit of fun, then suddenly it's 4 o'clock in the morning and you're dehydrated and pleased you've managed to move pixels around a screen to "achieve" a higher enumerative value than last time you did it.

If something is technology, it almost certainly will go wrong at some point, which is why it makes sense not to trust it. A chap in the UK is currently facing charges of driving without due care and attention, because he followed his satnav's instructions even though it sent him down a footpath so his car ended up hanging over a cliff. And he's blaming the satnav. What amazes me is that someone with that level of intelligence had the nouse to pass a driving test in the first place.

In some ways, technology is getting better in all the right ways. I had a CT scan a few years ago to tell me why I was weeing blood and whether I would die from it (kidney stones, still alive, yay!). It was a fantastic (and often graphically revealing) multiple set of slices through my lower abdomen, and would have been impossible just a few short years previously. Bill Gates pointed out to General Motors that, if cars had advanced at the same rate as computers, today we'd be driving $25 cars that do 1000 mpg. Of course, GM replied that they would also crash twice a day for no reason, amongst other putdowns.

And sometimes, efficiency has increased and I'm sort of disappointed about it. The things that spring to mind are, of course, weapons and spatulas.

There is currently research into fully electronic guns that can fire bullets at a rate of one million rounds per minute, throwing what has been termed a 'laser of lead' at the target. Putting aside for a moment how big your magazine would have to be, and what exactly the point of an almost solid stream of lead travelling at supersonic speed is, could we trust an electronic gun not to go wrong? Possibly not. And then you'd look silly in front of your enemies, who are the worst people to look silly in front of.

Anyway, apart from bows and catapults, I don't like projectile weapons, let alone trust them, so let us move on to the second terrible increase in efficiency - spatulas.

Remember when your mum used a spoon for stirring the cake mix? It was a big spoon, admittedly, but it was still a spoon. Well, now, the domestic goddess has moved on. The spoon has limitations because of it's inherently concave (or convex, depending on which side you're looking at it) shape, and the new-fangled rubber-ended spatula is the tool of choice for its improved mixing abilities:

Now, this is all fine and dandy, and being the food aficionado that I am (read overweight), I am all in favour of any advances in technology which lead to a better cake. Cake is good. Cake is our friend. But there is a down side.

After the cake had been clumsily spooned into a baking receptacle, the opportunity arises to "lick the bowl". This is not a euphemism, but is actually an exercise of licking the bowl of its remaining cake mix, complete with sugar, cocoa, chocolate, raw egg and, presumably, salmonella. The relative inefficiency of the spoon at doing its job meant that there was usually a good amount of raw cake left in the bowl, all of which would be classified as tasty treat, and thus consumed with the gay abandon and peerless tongue-action of a pangolin on an anthill.

But now, this tiny oasis of gluttony has been swamped by the sandy advance of the dunes of efficiency, as the spatula makes short work of cleaning the bowl down to the last tiny dregs of cake mix. Behold the devastation:

There's nothing left to lick.

Sad face.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Book him Danno.

I've noted that a common question designed to suss out your character is to ask what sort of books you like reading, especially with things like social network sites and personality surveys. Even the profile bit on Blogger asks for our literary pecadillos, and I'm not convinced that they offer any genuine insights into our underlying psychologies. Saying that, I tend to stop taking people seriously when they list "The Bible" and "Mills & Boon" as their favourite tomes.

So I was having a good old think for 5 minutes about what I like in the book department. I do like reading. Generally, I'll give anything a go as long as it's got words in it. That includes take-away menus and papers with pictures of nominally-clad ladies in.

I'm currently working through Richard Dawkins 'Climbing Mount Improbable', which is an enjoyable tuition on the evolutionary pressures species face which force them to develop such amazing adaptations such as eyes and wings. Next on my shelf is a book discussing modern concepts of physics, including quantum theory and relativity, which I'm sort of expecting to be a little like putting caviar in a marshmallow. The good stuff will go in but it won't do anything, and will be a bugger to get out again.

Prior to that, I read the second in Peter F. Hamiltons enormous Void trilogy, 'The Temporal Void', which despite being 800-odd pages long, flashes by like a particulalry good soap opera. Only in space. With all aliens and spaceships and that. A lot of people seem to frown on science fiction, particularly my more literate friends, who think of it as not much more than a graphic novel and not something that will tax the intellect any. I don't find this, as it makes me use my brain whilst providing enjoyable escapism, which is what fiction reading is all about isn't it?

I enjoy outdoorsy things like survival manuals and wildlife guides, and take my "Food for Free" book out with me whenever I'm camping, although I note the irony as I flick idly through the pages on edible bullrushes whilst enjoying a steak and kidney pie in a pub.

Other stuff? Biographies are hit and miss with me. Some celeb ones are good, written at the end of a fulfilling career in sports or entertainment, but it's just odd when they're about 18 year-olds who's life story consists of getting born, developing acne, going on X-factor and then becoming famous.

Those Tell-All books about horribly abusive childhoods with titles like 'Daddy, NO!" and "The Vicar's Sin" just make me squirm. Jane Austen just doesn't appeal to me in the slightest as I can't seem to find any sympathy for aristocratic sex-starved heroines who are down to their last house and five servants and deemed to be down on their luck. Biting social commentary or not, it just doesn't get me going.

Newspapers seem to be getting more and more fictional all the time, as less journalists strive to write more column inches, which means I never buy them anymore.

At school, I liked Lord of the Flies but not A Kestrel for a Knave. Military romps are okay but, as I'm reading a breakdown of the intrinsic parts of an L115A3 long-range rifle, I'm acutely aware that the author is pandering to my masculinity by describing the intrinsic parts of an L115A3 long-range rifle.

So, what does that lot say? I think my tastes are pretty standard fare for the modern unreconstructed male really, and don't reveal too much of my inner psyche.

Whilst in my GPs waiting room a few weeks ago though, I couldn't help but notice the title of this childrens book, and the fact that I thought it inappropriate suggests I'm reading far too many blogs which are warping my mind lately:

Now that probably does say something about my inner workings, but I realy don't want to know what.