Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pledge of Allegance

The excellent Johann Hari has come up with an alternative pledge of allegance to replace the dreadful durge we make immigrants recite at citizenship ceremonies across the land.

With a few trivial edits (e.g. remove references to the dreadful soaps East Enders and Coronation Street, add references to bacon sandwiches and HP sauce and the songs of Ray Davies) I'd be happy to recite it myself:

I pledge allegiance to the Queen Vic, not Queen Elizabeth. I pledge allegiance to Coronation Street, not Downing Street. I pledge allegiance to The Office, not the office of Prime Minister. I pledge allegiance to the Life of Brian, not the Life of Christ. I pledge allegiance to Marmite – and to people who can talk for hours about precisely why they hate Marmite.

I pledge allegiance to deep-fried Mars bars, cold doner kebabs, and girls who wear mini-skirts in sub-zero temperatures. I pledge allegiance to the NHS, the BBC, and M&S. I pledge allegiance to Shakespeare and to the belief that "there are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio".

I pledge allegiance to Radio 4 documentaries about the history of drinking water, told in six parts. I pledge allegiance to George Orwell, George Formby, George Eliot, and George Michael. I pledge allegiance to the Notting Hill Carnival, the Edinburgh Festival, and the people who – for no reason at all – wander around Glastonbury dressed as giant pigeons.

I pledge allegiance to our national dish, chicken tikka masala. I pledge allegiance to the people who sell candy floss on muddy beaches on muggy days. I pledge allegiance to fog and hail and rain, and to people who wear three layers of clothing and shed them and put them back on several times a day, each time declaring with an optimistic smile, "The weather's lovely today".

I pledge allegiance to the Beatles and the conviction that life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. I pledge allegiance to queuing, and to the people who tut and cluck and scrunch their faces when anybody tries to push in. I pledge allegiance to William Wallace played by an Australian and Gandhi played by an Englishman.

I pledge allegiance to Fawlty Towers and faulty trains and that small, almost silent sigh that shudders across a carriage when the train stops for no reason in empty fields. I pledge allegiance to the wrong kind of snow.

I pledge allegiance to the fact that the London Olympics in 2012 will be messier and shabbier and far more prone to disruption by protesters than the Beijing Olympics.

I pledge allegiance to the boys who died in the mud at Normandy so I could be free. I pledge allegiance to the women who slept in the mud at Greenham Common so I would not burn. I pledge allegiance to Ateeque Sharifi, who came here as a refugee from Taliban Afghanistan, only to be blown up by Talibanists on the Circle Line. I pledge allegiance to everyone who drives an ambulance or teaches a child on this rainy island for paltry wages because they know it's the right thing to do.

I pledge allegiance to the people of Britain, not because they're the best in the world, but because they're mine."



Sunday, May 17, 2009

Can You Get Out, Please?

A very spooky thing just happened;

I was alone in the sitting room tapping away on the laptop, when behind me the door (which was ajar) opened and I became aware that someone was in the room.

So I turn around and peer into the twilight, expecting to see my neighbour Kimberly, or perhaps my landlord Nick, or maybe Kimberly's young daughter Kaylie. The back door is open, and we all get on well enough for any of them to come in through the kitchen and ask me for whatever; batteries perhaps, or maybe a screwdriver, or a torch or something. I'm notorious for getting engrossed in a book or a task and being completely unaware of a polite knock or a cough or whatever sign that people give to interrupt you.

But there was nobody there.

Just the door, wide open. Maybe it's shock or fear, but the temperature seemed to drop several degrees, and the hairs on my forearms came up in goose pimples.

So I say out loud "Can you get out, please?" and after a second or two, the door shuts firmly.




It's gusty outside, and the doors that are ajar have been banging and swaying all day. But not that door, and I've been sat here several hours.

Then there's my own psychological state; I've been very stressed at work recently, and today I've been too lazy to bother eating very much so maybe I'm a bit low on blood sugar and running on reserve. If a hallucination is going to happen; now is as good a time as any this week-end.

I don't believe in ghosts, although I do believe that many of us have a few ESP moments in a lifetime. Interestingly there is no scientific technique to investigate things that occur that infrequently; the standard (entirely plausible) explanation is coincidence. Inevitable if you roll those dice enough times and I've played enough poker to know that randomness can often appear very non-random.

So... a particularly strong gust of wind causes an air-pressure imbalance that opens the door, admits a blast of cold air from outside, and then passes, causing an opposite pressure imbalance that closes the door.

None the less, it's 'textbook' paranormal; especially that sense you get when someone enters a room, and the sudden temperature drop. And I don't recall feeling the slightest breeze throughout the whole episode.

So maybe, just maybe... I've 'seen' a ghost.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Smug in the Sunshine

I got Panne out today and made some progress* on the never ending windscreen wiper problem.

Not that they were needed on such a gorgeous day. Despite the dust and cobwebs, Panne looks smug in the sunshine - perhaps from all the compliments she got from nice passers by.

* It seems burnt out wires aren't good at transmitting electricity


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Mad Mel Again

Mel Philips fascinates me, as she almost always holds views completely the opposite of my own.

But when she writes things like:

...the settlements were always first and foremost a security measure, and the travel restrictions are there solely to prevent more Israelis being murdered...

I'm never sure if she's lying for Israel, or quite completely insane?

You can read her latest blog entry here.


Friday, May 01, 2009

The Five O'Clock Hysterics

I just typed "pint" instead of "point" and found it hysterically funny.

It was even funnier that my colleagues didn't find it funny.

It was even funnier realising that it wasn't very funny.

Time to go home - I can't read the screen because the laughter tears have blurred my vision.