About thewheelmonkey

A real ale drinking married kept man in Hong Kong.

Marriage…solution or problem?

There was a comment on an internet forum the other day that suggested that people who got married had “lost the plot”. I responded with a polite “I haven’t lost the plot thank you very much!” and was met with an essay that basically said I was a misogynist old git who just wanted a bit of paper.

I could not let that slide! I started a huge fourteen page rant, complete with references, but as is often the case, repartee is normally after departee…. “this thread is now closed for further comments.” Damn!

So I will defend the indefensible. Marriage is often seen as an old-fashioned institution. Who the heck wants to live in an institution anyway? Marriage means different things to different people and it is very easy to deride those whose point of view is that a trip up the aisle results in a wonderful life.

I am married. I know that the roses around the door need to be trimmed. I also know that the argument normally starts about who should actually get around to trimming the roses, why were they not done properly and who wanted the blasted things in the first place. that’s part of any relationship, sorting out who is wrong most of the time. ( Wife has just corrected me, the last bit should read “Who is wrong all of the time”).

There are loads of statistics on the internet, so they must all be true, that point out that children of married couples have a better start in life than those whose parents co-habit. As with all statistics, I reckon about 45% are made up. I do however, think that kids thrive in a loving relationship , and it matters not If parents are married or co-habiting.

The actual physical side of getting married is fairly simple. You go to the pub, chat up a bird and then decide that you want to share your life with them. So far so good. You waltz up the aisle, a bloke in a dress says “I now pronounce you man and wife” and people chuck bits of paper at you. Off you go to married blitz…

The actual difficult bit comes after the honeymoon. That is the bit where the month has lasted longer than your money, the car has made a horrible noise and the toilet seat has been left up just once too often…
Being in a long-term relationship means that these problems have to be overcome as a couple. For once it is not a question of “what should I do?” and becomes a question of “What should we do?”. Life becomes more involved and loses the point at which you go to your mum and ask for help. Of course these things happen to a couple who live together, but the main difference between wed and unwed is of course those lovely, kind and generous people we know as solicitors. I cannot afford to leave Wife and she is unwilling to pay the fees that are required to end my life of Riley, so she grimaces gently and smiles all the time searching on the internet for a cheap hitman. It focuses the attention on the relationship thinking that I would have to dig deep into her purse for the cash to become young, free and single again. Of course, since I am dragging 50 rather than pushing it, young would involve a hair transplant, free would involve court fees and single would mean waking up to a whole bed rather than the 20% I am used to now.

Since just walking out of the door is not an option, I am forced to think about how to solve a problem in our relationship. I solve it by spending her money on beer and she solves it by cutting my beer money. The end result is that we have a wonderful happy marriage, during which neither of us has lost the plot or even got grumpy about the toilet seat.

Because getting married and getting divorced cost a few bob, there are many reasons not to wander up the aisle. My argument has always been that since getting wed takes a bit of commitment, why would you marry the first person to take your fancy? “Marry in haste, repent at your leisure” means just that, take your time, make sure there is a sound relationship sorted before you decide to move in together and find out that the way that your partner breathes wants to make you smash a flower vase over their heads and that the “tap-tap-tappity-tappity-tap ” that they do on the coffee cup in the morning really wants to make you remove their spleen via a totally inappropriate orifice.

Will getting married solve all of society`s problems and solve global warming? Well no, really it won`t. But just pausing before setting up a home with someone by having to organise a dress, a church and more importantly a bar there is a point that you look at your intended and think, “Naaah, they aren’t worth it!”

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There is no right answer.

There has been a court case in America. You may have heard about it. The brief facts are that a man called George Zimmerman shot and killed a teenager called Trayvon Martin. The case is on the internet and in every paper printed and I will not debate the specific detail. I do however have a bit of a problem with what had been said.

I completely understand bias in reporting. The BBC is duty bound to report the news without bias and must be very successful as those on the right complain it is too left-wing and those whose policies lie on the port side naturally enough grumble about starboard bias. The british newspapers have no such problems and are happy to affiliate themselves to whichever side they like. It is with this in mind that I have read over the last few days some of possibly the worst and inflammatory comment pieces I think I have ever read.

One commentator repeatedly calls Trayvon “A child”. The photo they use is of a 14-year-old child. On the night of the incidence Trayvon was 17. Whilst not exactly a full grow adult, he was a six-foot tall teenager. George Zimmerman was repeatedly called a racist and it was suggested that he hunted down and shot Trayvon. Trayvon was repeatedly portrayed as an innocent child who was shot as he walked back from the shops after buying a bag of skittles.

The end result is that the case has erupted in a fury of blame. I believe that the court gave insufficient evidence to convict George Zimmerman and in court you need to be proved guilty. There was sufficient doubts to the jury and they were unconvinced of a guilty verdict.

Many people are using their own agenda to shout their opinions from the rooftops about this case. The race element of the case was brought to the fore as George Zimmerman described Trayvon as “Black”. Well Trayvon was black! The newspapers made a huge amount about this and again all they did was stir the waters as much as they could. One commentator said that from this case it was OK for white people to shoot black people! What nonsense! What piffle!

The case to me was simple. A young man was seen acting suspiciously and the chap who ran his neighbourhood watch got involved. There was at some point a scuffle and a gun was fired. Was it self-defense? there was a court case and it was decided that yes, it was self-defense. Under normal circumstances that should be it. Unfortunately there are people with their own agenda who wish to make political capital out of this.

The end result is the same. A young man has had his life tragically cut short and another man has had his life changed forever. No-one wins and certainly no-one is celebrating.

Sensible People

There are many people in high office. Minister for budget. Minister of foreign office. minister for sports. I have a new minister I would like to propose. Minister of Common Sense.

 

 At this point, many readers will sigh, look to close their browser with a sad sigh and mutter about “Daily Mail readers”

 Let me explain my motives. I am a bloke. I have hairy armpits and like beer and looking at cars. I also recognise how the world tends to work. I exploded with indignation when I was listening to the radio and a survey conducted by a load of university bods had discovered that the firms that had been given the job of repairing the roads had been exaggerating the time it would take them by as much as 80% to avoid the penalty fines for not finishing on time.

 Really? I mean REALLY! Did it really take a university education to figure that out? No, the person to ask look into that would be a supervisor at a factory. He would ask the question “How long to do the job?” listen to the answer and knock of 50%, make a note and call back then!  The people who had given the original answer would have, very unsurprisingly, given themselves a safety margin. I would. You would. In fact every person who has ever had to do anything to some sort of schedule, ever, would. Rome was not built in a day. The quote was for three days, but it actually took two.

 So, the minister for common sense, what would he do? Well when a case was due in court, he would have a quick look at the case and decide if it was TTP. TTP I hear you say? TTP short for Taking The Urine. Case in point is the 8 years to get rid of  a certain preacher. He arrived in the UK with a false passport, was refused asylum, broke a couple of laws and was found guilty in his absence of a few crimes. Normal people would have cautioned him to be careful that the door did not slam into his bottom on the way out. Not in this case. He was given a house for his family and given benefits to ensure he was a happy chappy. If we had a minister for common sense he would have been given a quick kick on the buttocks and escorted to the closest airport. What actually happened was that the UK taxpayer spent loads of money to ensure that his human rights were not violated.Then the UK taxpayer spent loads of money paying lawyers to take his case to court after court after court. To make sure the whole thing was fair the UK taxpayer paid for the court, the lawyers and the judge. At this point the minister for common sense should have stepped in and apologised to the rich lawyers because the money they could have earned from this case was now not going to be spent and in fact at this point in time, this guy was going to get slung in the direction of “away!”

 So many cases come to the court that should never have seen the light of day. The lawyers love `em! If you are rich, you can afford justice. If you are poor, well the taxpayer will pay for your justice. If you are in the middle, well tough, justice is not for you.

 We need to sort the wheat from the chaff. Perhaps instead of a minister we need a panel made of people who pay tax, can read and perhaps have their feet grounded in real life. That way some of these cases that aggrieve those of us with an ounce of common sense will not enrich lawyers or lead to a million pages of newspaper columns telling us what we already know.

A Letter To My Laptop

Dear Laptop,
This is going to be a difficult letter to write. Mostly because you have decided to throw a hissy fit, but I will continue anyway.
We have been together nearly three years now and I look back fondly at the day Wife took me by the hand and pulled me into the computer shop. Wife looked lovingly into my eyes and hissed “Just pick one! don`t muck about, just pick one and pay for it! And stop moaning!”
I wandered up and down the aisles with all those big laptops and ipads looking at me. Also looking at me was the price tags. The computers said “come to me” but the price labels screamed “Move along! Nothing to see!”
Then I spotted you. Apparently you are a notepad, not a laptop. I looked at your label, telling me that you had RAM, GIG and apparently SSID. I didn’t care. You looked small, cute and had a mousepad with buttons underneath. The best vital statistic that you possessed was your price. You were cheap.
Our relationship got of to a rocky start. As cheap as you are your creator, (who was probably a clever twelve year old) had added lots of really cool features. Most of them were to do with your mousepad. Apparently if I tapped on the pad it was like a left-click on the mouse button that was about three millimeteres underneath the pad. If I made a pinching motion I could zoom. running my fingers up and down the outside of the pad acted like a scroll wheel.
I cannot lie. I am old. I spent many years where “subtle” was the name given to a sledgehammer and a “screwdriver” was a hammer. I hit things for a living and consequently my fingers have all the sensitivity of an EDL rally. Add all that to my unwillingness to try new things and disaster looms. I tried to get used to all these things but me and you argued a lot in the early days. You thought I wanted to open another window whilst simultaneously cutting and pasting a link into an email, when in fact I wanted to click on a button and watch a funny video of a man falling over.
Plastic surgery was the answer. I used all my skill and resources and transplanted a much simpler mousepad software driver app operation upload interface tool patch. Thing. It worked. I was in love. I could move the cursor and point at things then move my finger three millimetres south and press a button and hey presto! A bloke would appear on my screen and fall over.
We had loads of adventures! You have accompanied me to the top of mountains, We have communicated our ideas to the world at many bars in Hong Kong. You have been through 18 security checks and on over 24 airplanes. You have even made a guest appearance at my parents house to show some photographs. This was risky. Technology has a habit of self destructing in the presence of Father, who regards cordless telephone very suspiciously.
Then you started to get old. Like a supermodel you seemed to resent your age and started to complain and make unreasonable demands. At first I could tolerate the five minutes of hysterics as you would tell me your hard drive was no more and your boot up system would not operate today. Simply switching you off and back again would bring you to life.
Your stamina started to fade too. This, again, I could tolerate. I am certainly slowing down so I could forgive you that your battery life was no longer six hours. So why did you not start to warn me? No, you just decided that the best thing you could do would be to simply shut down and do nothing until I carried your carcass home and plugged you back in for a re-charge.
Then you started to get cranky. I do not ask you to calculate re-entry for the space shuttle or how the global economy will perform. All I wanted was to look at facebook, read the papers and occasionally show me an amusing video. You now enjoy glaring at me as I enjoy a beer and decide that there is something you did yesterday that was acceptable must now be improved, and to that end you will download an update and my lunchtime will be spent watching a circle going round and round. After an hour of me looking at a blank screen you jump back to life and tell me you need re-start and show me the video of a fat man falling over. However, your battery has decided to keel over so in fact you are just a plastic lump that I need to carry home.

All the magical updates that you have had have meant I have spent countless hours looking at a blank screen, yet I regard you as slower than when I bought you. You are not faster or better, you are just older and slower, which is not a good thing. You are the love of my life, but are starting to be less useful than a wheel chock. Your lifespan is becoming less and your ability as a skipping stone is becoming more apparent every day.

It is with these sad words that I inform you that you are to be replaced. Younger and faster, slimmer and better looking. Something more useful and with more stamina. I just hope that Wife does not look at me with the same critical eye….

Politicians….

Apparently we need political leaders. We need men and women who can stand up in the house of commons and waffle on for hours whilst people who sit near them shout “Hear,hear!”. I am not so sure. There is a massive grumble at the minute that there are some mega-corporations who make loads of money who are using rule-bending activities to avoid paying tax. The politicians are falling over each other at the moment to get in front of the microphone to shout and scream that people not paying their taxes is “A bad thing”. Who would disagree with that? I point no fingers at either side here, they are all jumping up and down and trying to give us a bogeyman. “They avoid their taxes!” shouts one, the guy on the other side shouts “Yes but they avoid their taxes and you like them!”. As quick as a twitter response the reply is “they avoid their taxes but you like them more than I like them!” Faster than an electron at CERN the reply comes back “Yeah, but your mum likes them and your dad is fat!”

It goes on. What they all dare not admit is the two simple facts. The firms involved are stretching the law to breaking point, but not beyond. The politicians pointing the fingers and doing the “Yo Mama is so fat” jokes are actually responsible for drafting the laws that the firms are using to avoid the tax!

Its like blaming the dog for chasing the cat down the street when it was in fact you who left the gate open! You can moan the cat got chased, you can grumble the gate was left open, but it is a certain fact that you cannot grumble because the dog chased the cat. Dogs chase cats. It is what they do. You stop the dog from chasing cats by closing the gate. The dog sees nothing wrong in barking, scratching and attempting first degree murder on a feline. They have been doing that for many thousands of years and to somehow decide that this is not what they do is to deny nature itself!
Business, any business, wants to make money. To do that it will spend as little as possible and charge as much as it can get away with. The framework within it operates is defined by governments. That’s the chaps and chappesses we vote for who are the government. They seem to screw the framework up and then seem amazed that somebody can save loads of cash by exploiting the job that they have done so badly. If I put wallpaper up and it falls off the wall three days later do I blame the bloke who put the wallpaper up, the manufacturer of the wallpaper paste or gravity? As a sensible bloke I would blame the wife, but naturally it would come back to me. Politicians, however would blame the last set of decorators, repeal the law of gravity and hold a public enquiry into the paste!
I compare politicians to nappies. They all need changing on a regular schedule, and for the same reason!

49 years and 11 months and three weeks and 7 days.

Yesterday I hit a milestone. It felt like a millstone but apparently it was a milestone. A half century. 49 years and 12 months old. five decades. Anything but that fi… no I cannot even force myself to see that number in print. I am no longer young. I am no longer youthful. I am in fact getting to the point where middle-aged is something I look back on.
How do I feel? well like many people I feel the same as the day before. I ache when I get out of bed, my knees crack and snap like old twigs and I start far too many conversations with the phrase “When I was their age..”. Getting old is something no-one can do about, even our best scientists are only able to theorise about time travel and until theory becomes practice I will have to accept that the chap with the scythe is starting to contemplate paying me a visit.
I can see the bright side to getting old. I read the papers and can remember the stories that start with “Thirty years ago today the ZX Spectrum was launched!”. Things that become collectible I now own and are in the attic. Of course, how valuable 8 tracks and betamax video recorders are is anybody`s guess.
I still say the dreadful thing that us oldies say, “The music was better in our day!” I still listen to the music I listened to when I was a spotty long-haired youth, Motorhead, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and The Scorpions. In the last three years I have seen all these bands performing on stage and can be found recanting to a rapidly diminishing crowd “Well yes but you really should have seen them in the “ace up your sleeve” tour of 1980″. At this point it will be pointed out that non of the people I am talking to were born then. Wife tends to lead me away as I start to sob at this point.

Of course the main consolation to arthritis, failing eyes, memory loss and….well I forget the other stuff, is that I am actually financially slightly solvent. I get Wife`s money from a cash machine and seldom check the balance. The mortgage is a mere slap on the bottom compared to the knee in the groin that it once was. We have actually traded in the last few cars as opposed to normally having them towed to a scrap yard. Going out for a meal is a pleasant experience now that we no longer have to sweat just in case service charge is added to the bill.

I suppose the main thing is that I am comfortable with my age. I am a happy chappy, provided I can grumble when I feel like it, and can hobble to the pub without too much whinging.When a pretty young lady smiles, approaches me and offers me her seat I think I will be rapidly looking over my shoulder for a sign of the Grim Reaper!

My hero, Scrooge!

Well xmas is over. I hate xmas with a passion. I never use it`s old spelling because the modern-day celebration of consumerism has very little to do with any religion. The vague idea of presents for all and sundry follows on from the wise men ( or three kings) who popped into a barn two thousand years ago and dropped off gold, frankincense and myrrh. Nowadays the idea of xmas is to buy children violent computer games and for adults to gorge down as much food and drink as they can.

The original Yuletide celebrations go back to the dim and distant past. Many strange rituals have morphed over the years into todays winter celebrations. It all goes back to the winter solstice, the point at which the days start their long journey back until that wonderful three days of warmth and fun that us brits call “summer.”
In days of yore and before the discovery channel, people did not realise that the world spun around a giant nuclear reactor. In fact some thought the sun was hauled across the skies in a chariot. Winter was a time of suffering, endless repeats on the TV and cold frosty mornings with no food available. As the winter got harsher ( or if you are English, greyer and a yuck) the fear was that the sun would one day not show up at all. To this end most primative civilisations erected stone circles and temples, mostly with the benefit of being a timekeeper. Of course this being the olden days they had no fancy phones with a calendar and a clock app, so they needed to haul lumps of stone about the place.
At some point the sun would show at a low point, and the next day it would be a bit higher. Hurrah! It is not going to get darker, it`s going to get lighter! With the thought of three days of summer approaching, what would primitive man do? Eat and get drunk seems the most sensible option apparently! So was born the yuletide celebration.
Centuries later the yuletide was incorporated into the christian calender and moved until three days after the equinox, but pinched some of the ideas of mistletoe, logs and feasting. Come the modern-day and this festival has been nicked and turned into a massive gift-buying session, followed rather rapidly by the worship at the altar of the new year sales.
I often wonder if a few years from now, whilst I am sleeping contentedly in a box a few foot beneath the earth, that people will forget xmas and just celebrate the sales.Perhaps as they queue to buy stuff there will be a wrinkly old man grumbling about how when he was a lad they knew that the true meaning of xmas was,
hangovers and indigestion….

Conspiracy theories….

I spend a lot of time surfing the internet to educate myself and discover fascinating facts about the world I live in. Wife does not see it this way and says I actually stare blindly at the computer screen and then watch videos of drunk people falling over whilst spending her hard-earned dosh on beer and crisps. One thing I have discovered is that the moon landings were faked, the twin towers attack was an inside job and Elvis serves behind the meat counter at Tesco`s.
Of course, being a bit of a cynical old chap, I tend to take these claims with a rather large helping of sodium chloride. It is rather fun to hunt out conspiracy theories and then watch them get debunked. Those who put forward these theories tend to ignore any evidence to contradict their theories and stick blindly to their belief.

Think of the biggest secret you have ever kept from your other half. The time you were not actually working late but down the pub? The dress you bought in the sale that was actually full price? The fact that your mother-in-law phoned and you told her it was the wrong number? ( I have never ever done any of the above….well apart from the dress but that is another blog and another time…!)
Now imagine that you involve hundreds of different people in your deceit, and finally offer one hundred pounds for the first to blab. Realistically how long would your dark secret be kept?
The people who insist the lunar landings never happened are a case in point. Can you imagine the amount of people who would have been involved to try to cover up the fakery? Only one with a Kodak instamatic would be required to take a quick snap of Neil Armstrong propping up the bar with his mates while he was supposed to be bouncing all over the moon and the whole charade would have been blown wide open. How much money could you have made from a photo of a faked lunar landscape? Yet not one person has come forward to claim enough money and fame to ensure a regular supply of beer and supermodels. The TV program Mythbusters did a fairly good effort at disproving the myths about the moon landings, including the flag waving and the lack of stars. The response from those who stick to their theories is the usual Mandy Rice-Davies defence of “well he would say that wouldn’t he!”
No matter how many times the weird and wonderful theories are exposed as being tow plus two equals five million, the same old stories circulate of government cover-ups and collusion.

The easiest one to dispense with is the twin towers attack. Despite lots of people seeing two hijacked jets crashed into skyscrapers, there are still those who say that it was all faked. If a government can go to such elaborate details to set up a “false flag” attack, why the heck would they be bothered about the lives of a few people who post stuff who post on the internet? A quick accident and there is one less conspiracy theorist left. No government who could cover such a huge thing up would leave a little detail alive and posting to exist.
The moon landings are another case in point. At the time that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon there was a huge propaganda war between the Russians and the USA. If there had been any evidence at all, do you think that the Russians would have failed to use it? They had secret agents, spies and lots of hi-tech gadgetry, yet they failed to spot that the whole charade was filmed in the back lot of a Hollywood sound set?

Conspiracy theories rely on people`s natural distrust of their governments. Of course since those governments have been involved with drug-running, regime change and aid being used to bolster tyrants, perhaps the tin-foil hat wearers do have a point!

Married, happy,oxymoron…

Wife puts up with a lot. A stressful job and a life in a different country. Possibly the toughest challenge she faces is putting up with me. She copes well with being married to me. To this end and to help everybody survive marriage, I have decided to give you my ten rules for a long marriage. ( I said long, not happy…..)

1) Listen to your wife. Well, actually we are men so we do not listen. You must learn to fake it.

2) Women like romance and stuff like that. You must rid them of this idea as soon as you can. Carry your new bride over the threshold, look her in the eyes and tell her to go and get you a sandwich. When she returns with a plateful of food ignore her and watch the football on the TV. Do not let your wife think she is more important than the TV.

3) Be prepared. A well stocked first-aid kit is very useful for when you are caught faking listening and regarding the TV as more important than your wife.

4) Your wife will like to shop for shoes and handbags. You must learn to stand for seven or eight hours outside a changing room and say things like “That looks nice dear”and “I prefer the other one”. Of course using the latter is a really good idea. Brownie points and credits are issued at this point. Heavens above you may even be permitted to visit the pub!
Of course if you are feigning interest you will be interrogated like a prisoner at Guantanamo bay and if you are suspected of faking a reply… well at least the first aid kit is well prepared.

5) You should find a woman who can cook, a woman who can earn beer money,a woman who looks like a million dollars and a woman who is your best drinking buddy. The secret is then to make sure these women never meet each other…

6) Your wife should be your best friend. Forget all the romantic rubbish, you need a wife who wants to stay up untill three AM to watch the Grand Prix and actually knows who Lewis Hamilton is.

7) For a long marriage, your stock phrases should consist of “yes dear”, “No dear” and ” I`m sorry”.

8) Do not argue. It is a waste of time and it means you might not get any dinner.

9) It does not matter who`s fault it is, accept the blame and apologise. You might get dinner and beer.

10) Marry a woman with a sense of humour. It works for me. Wife comes home and asks what I have done today and she laughs when I tell her. She laughs when I tell her that I am the master of the house and she laughs when I tell her that she must obey me. I conclude that a humour is important in a long-term relationship.

Itchy, scratchy,horrible and nasty….

I have decided to show my support for Movember. This involves growing a bit of face-fungus on the upper lip. Yes, a moustache. Last time I decided to have a go with facial hair I grew a wild beard for several weeks. It went through the scruffy look straight to the Robinson Crusoe look without once pausing at looking slightly nice look. I was supposed to start cultivating on the first of November but unfortunately on the third I forgot and shaved it off! I started again and now have a “thing” under my nose that is both irritating and as attractive as uncontrolled wind. Wife smiles sadly at me in the morning and suggests that I come to work with her. “That way I don`t have to kiss you goodbye!”
I have shaved since I was fifteen, despite not actually having anything worth shaving until I reached nineteen. I would put bits of toilet paper on my face to try to impress girls with my “manliness”, a tactic which had as much success as my Ferrari badged bicycle clips. Shaving is a morning ritual that marks the start of my day. As I stare, bleary eyed, into the steamy mirror I wonder who crept in overnight and stole some of my hair and then dyed the rest grey. Of course Wife has more use of the bathroom in the morning as she berates me for “getting in the way”, “making me late” and of course “breathing”. I am normally hustled out of the way as she gets herself ready to go and earn my beer money.I try to keep out of the way as she rushes hither and thither and refrain from asking if she can do some overtime this week as my bar bill has crept up a bit this month.
Once peace has descended I return to the bathroom and whisk the five bladed turbo bionic XL super battery power nuclear energy razor across my face. Mind you last time I was in the supermarket there was a SIX bladed turbo bionic XL super battery power nuclear energy razor available, maybe I should have one of those next.
I do know one thing for certain. December is not Movember and this blasted moustache will not be seeing Santa!