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….

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.

Saturn and me

I am getting old. I neither feel old or particularly act old, yet time is advancing. I no longer leap out of my chair and my hair takes less time to wash yet strangely enough my face takes a bit longer. My “snap,crackle and pop” is no longer my choice of cereal but the sounds my joints make as I haul my carcase out of bed to make Wife her morning cup of coffee. I find that getting up of the sofa involves making a grunting noise normally associated with female tennis stars. I pick things off the floor by bending over in stages and surprise myself when I actually see my toes. Old age is inevitable yet creeps up like brakes fading on a car. When did I turn into my father? I remember him as a grumpy,old-fashioned,opinionated and intolerant man. I look in the mirror or hear myself chuntering away as I read the news and the answer becomes apparent, it was when I became his age!
Some phrases are a signpost on the way to old age. “Back in the day”, “You have it so good today”, and “You treat this bloody house like a hotel”. Of course not having children I never use the last phrase. The killer, the one that attracts your presence to the grim reaper and is guaranteed to display your age comes to us all…

” When I was your age!”.

Those words had scarcely left my lips when a guy wearing black and carrying an old agricultural implement tapped me on the shoulder and said “Hello!” I panicked. I blustered. Too late. It was over! I was never going to be young again. My mid-life crises of a motorbike and a train set became mere distractions on a one way journey to creaky bones and bifocals.
Is old age all that bad? I have not reached my half-century yet and I still enjoy life. I have fun, I go to the pub and even enjoy rock festivals. I cannot, in all honesty, say that i wish to be a callow youth again. I enjoy the fact that I no longer care much for what other people think of me and would prefer to be my slightly rotund shape with cash than my poor but flat stomached younger version. I had a wonderful time as a teenager and my twenties and thirties were fun too, but now I know how to enjoy myself and my confidence to try new things enables me to have a fun life.

All that said, it is a rare man who would not like to be young again.The energy, the vigour, the hair…! But can I please do it with money next time? Please?