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Very old stuff!

Our spirit of independent inquiry has certainly been curtailed. In my youth I liked to do chemical experiments on the kitchen table. You could obtain almost any chemical in small chemistry set quantities (there was a place in Stoke Newington and my Dad collected them for me when he went to London). You had to sign the register for obvious deadly poisons like sodium cyanide but otherwise there was not a problem. Apart from many attempts at making gun powder (all kids did it then but it’s harder than it looks to make it go bang), I remember making a compound called phenyl iso-cyanate. It really has the most disgusting smell you could ever imagine. No surprise then that a few of us left drops of it here and there at school… Now, from research on the Internet, I see you need face shields and a full face respirator to handle this substance. What a load of wusses we’ve become!

Mercury is another substance I miss. At school we used to scoot it around on the benches and do all sorts with it - god knows how much the school got through in a year. One time I was taking down a glass U tube (nothing to do with YouTube) from a high shelf. Unbeknown to me there was a residue of mercury in the tube and as I took it down the mercury shot out of the tube and went straight up my nose. Fortunately, I had more IQ than I needed and it did me no lasting harm. Of course, now I think about it, mercury will always stay with me while I still have (my own) teeth, so that’s alright then!

Perhaps our inclinations and, therefore, the skills we naturally develop now lie elsewhere. Perhaps it’s better to be able to make a falafel than a magazine rack to store the Radio Times, especially when you can pop into Ikea and pick up a better made and cheaper one (cheaper than the cost of the materials!) I have to admit I can’t make a falafel but my son is excellent at it, so perhaps my thesis is going somewhere!

Returning to James May and his missing man-skills. How the silly bugger irritates me. Why does he have to pretend(?) to be such a twit? The answer is that on mainstream entertainment TV, viewers’ attention can’t be kept without a leavening of fun and games unless that programme (more confirmation of my thesis) concerns cookery and its symbiotic companion, how-to-lose-weight. These are the only programmes which can be presented with a straight face!

I was also keen on electronics as a boy. I used to play with thermionic valves. They glowed, got hot and looked just the sort of thing you would need if you wanted to animate Frankenstein’s monster. They also needed jolly high voltages, 350, 400 volts or more. But if you kept your left hand in your pocket there was only a small risk of death when you inevitably got a shock. When transistors came along, I was disappointed. They were a health and safety enthusiastic’s dream come true. At five volts you have to apply the wires to your tongue if you are looking for any bodily sensation at all. I used to teach technology for a bit (a small bit of money, anyway) and it was strange how drawn the kids were to applying nine volt batteries to their tongues - “who wants to use a battery that’s had your horrible tongue on it, Jones minor” I used to quip. Oh, what fun we had!

But I digress. Back to the alleged manly skills deficiency.

Dude, where’re my man-skills? James May in his TV extravaganzas of a few years ago may have done his best to turn things around but questions still remain: have we lost our backwoods-pioneer, can-do-survivalist or Barry-Bucknall-style-DIY skills forever? Instead have we become a nation of screen junkies rapidly being infantalised by some sinister Big Brethren namely Apple, Google, Microsoft et al. who want to steal our lives and turn them into mega-bucks like so many carcasses rendered down for fat? Or have we been bludgeoned into submission by nanny-state rules such as building regulations electrical and gas installation rules and health and safety generally? It’s a wonder we’re still allowed to work on our cars without some jumped up little Hitler wanting to X-ray our suspension welding.

Has this become a metaphor for my on-line life?

Lack of man-skills

Pre Brexit - happy :-)

Post Brexit - sad :-(

On the 10th July 2016, I got rather exercised about Mrs Leadsom  bigging up her CV.

On the 4th of July 2016, I got very cross about the prospect of Michael Gove being the Prime Minister.

On 28th of June, I thought Jeremy Hunt might have found a way to get round Brexit and keep the UK in the EU. (Refers to Lincoln’s speech during the Civil War.)

On the 27th of June 2016, I was hoping for a miracle to keep the UK in the EU. (The rabbit in the picture had been involved in a garden incident with a lettuce).

I was reading an article in The New Statesman which listed 18 people to blame for Brexit (yes Baby Boomers were there at no. 12 with a Blame-o-meter reading of 8/10 – Boris Johnson was 14/10). Not on the list was the Queen, our head of state, whose lifetime project has been to do nothing, say nothing,  just “be”. Except that after 60 years she has not just “been” (should it be “beed”?), she let it be known that she actually supported Brexit. Now she just “is” all over again as if nothing has happened (as our captains, officers and crew fight on the bridge of the Titanic)


Talking of the Media, I shall never forgive the BBC for the craven way it failed to provide proper analysis of the lies being put out during the campaign. I might never watch Dr. Who again, that'll learn them! Talking of Who, “Won't get fooled again” should have been compulsory listening during the campaign!

On the 29th of June 2016, I got cross with the Queen again.

I came across The Dunning–Kruger effect recently. (Look it up in Wikipedia, it's a wonderful concept!) It seems to me that a good proportion of the Brexiteers are suffering from it. Basically it was discovered by some academics (yes, Dunning and Kruger) and in a nutshell it's all about being too stupid to know you're stupid. (I, of course, maintain that I am just a smidgen to the clever side of stupid so am just out of the effect's reach – I leave others to judge!)

Dear Boris et al, have you read Hosea 8:10 recently?

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.”

Just asking...

Also on the 27th, I thought I had found a scientific explanation for the Brexit vote.

I also wondered about the Brexiteers knowledge of Biblical texts.

Oh joy, my mortal enemies, Gove, Whittingdale and  Osborne have bitten the dust and other mortal enemies, Boris, Fox etc. have received a chalice laced with a non-immediately-fatal dose of polonium 210! Thank the Lord for the great gift of schadenfreude (if we can use such a word now we are out of the EU).

On the 14th of July 2016, I was overjoyed to witness the fall of a group of nasty and cruel politicians to which the name Ian Duncan Smith can be added.

However, witnessing Boris Johnson booed at a reception at the French embassy and seeing the reaction in other countries (incredulity, laughter etc.) I fear Mrs May has made this country a laughing stock around the world.

HM The Queen
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA

Your Majesty.

Following the vote to leave the EU, the country is now facing a political and financial crisis greater than any since Suez. In my opinion, it is now almost inevitable that Scotland will separate from the rest of the UK (and possibly Northern Ireland will follow).

It now seems there are those who don't give a fig about what happens to our country as long as they can get hold of the levers of power.

Surely, it is the duty of the head of state to do something to avert this looming catastrophe?

I trust I have not offended your Majesty in writing in such a forthright manner but I weep for what our tolerant, outward looking, inclusive and liberal country is becoming.

Yours sincerely

On the 27th June 2016, following the vote to leave the EU, I got so desperate that I wrote to the Queen.

I am a republican and believe that the Queen, rather than being the useful head of state handy for banging politicians heads together in emergencies (like now!) which other countries enjoy, only represents and props up the Establishment which has dominated and controlled ordinary people’s lives for centauries in the UK.

Our Queen has made a virtue of doing and saying nothing, just “being” and by this “magic” holding the country together.

Except that when she wants to, she gets the word out. For example she made it quite plain she favoured Brexit!!

June 23rd 2016 - vote to leave the EU!

A black day!!

Me, though, I think I’m too set in my ways to change. I’ll keep on with the metal bashing with a small ad-mixture of electrical self torture!