Archive for the Rant Category

The Feminine Touch

Posted in Humour and Humor, Rant with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2009 by Stefan III

Damn you Ealing Studios, but a title is a title, and it’s the theme of today’s weblog.

This missive is definitely a tricky egg. I’ve already alienated my Formula One readership and now I risk losing my female audience if, and I cannot stress that enough, this is read the wrong way. Men are in a bit of a crisis – that’s hardly front page news you’re thinking. They’re in a kind of “damned if they do – damned if they don’t” paradox. It’s the small things that highlight this peculiarity – don’t open a door for a woman and you’re ignorantly rude – open a door for a woman and you’re a patronising throwback from the past. I simply hurl myself out of the nearest window when I see a woman approaching any form of doorway; it’s simpler but very painful.

Ealing Studios: The Feminine Touch

Ealing Studios: The Feminine Touch

I will make no apologies for being attracted to, and adoring the female of our species. This is not in a patronising way; this is simply base instincts taking over. That’s just the way it works and that’s why we are all here as a species today. If, en masse, one generation had decided to think otherwise, there would be no next generation – simple.

Now, here’s the rub. I am beginning to wonder about the “I want my cake and eat it” philosophy that is permeating our culture. Equal rights for both sexes are not an issue, they were a painfully long time coming, but thankfully they’re with us and here to stay. That is a given!

I can broadly sum up my confusion in two statements: Sheila’s Wheels and Girl Power

These social and iconic entities are wrong on so many levels.

Let’s take Sheila’s Wheels for example. I’m certain that everybody has heard of this insurance phenomenon, solely aimed at a female only audience. It’s very, very pink and very, very girly. It’s also very, very sexist. Yet, I hear no outcry from the lumpen male populous. Trust me, if there was an insurance deal out there called “Bob’s Bollocks – Car insurance for real men”, it would provoke civil unrest. I cannot understand why this insurance company hasn’t been beaten about the head with a rolled up copy of the current equality legislation laws. I am overlooking the fact that they advertise car insurance for women drivers by showing three women standing up in the front seat of a car wearing pink ball gowns. I am also overlooking the adverts’ claim of women being the safer of the two genders when it comes to driving, albeit without having to use a steering wheel like their dumb male counterparts.

Equality in action: Look no hands!

Equality in action: Look no hands!

On the Sheila’s Wheels website, they offer things like:

Handbag cover up to £300, with comprehensive cover
Courtesy car when using our repairers, with comprehensive cover

And here’s the cruncher “Female friendly repairers”. That will be the men, but only special men who have been carefully vetted for their subservient and friendly deference towards their women superiors. You see men are good for certain things, even if it is only the designing, planning, building, repairing, and in some instances buying of the cars. Apart from that, they have very little input and certainly are incapable of dancing and driving simultaneously.

Now “Girl Power”… When did this happen?

The progress of suffrage?

The progress of suffrage?

How did a noble fight for equality and suffrage, involving pain and death, end up as this?

From Emmeline Pankhurst to the Spice Girls: Girl Power

From Emmeline Pankhurst to the Spice Girls: Girl Power

Poor Emmeline must be turning in her grave; this was not what she had in mind.  She didn’t break down the barriers of prejudice, chauvinism and bigotry for this. She had high ideals of women accomplishing the heights of human endeavour without fear of restriction. Her intention was never that women should emulate the worst qualities in men – laughing when they fart and taking the drink “Canada Dry” as a personal challenge. The point has been missed entirely.

The Women’s Institute in the 1950s

The Women’s Institute in the 1950s

Today’s Women’s Institute?

Today’s Women’s Institute?

Today, we have girls joining the Boy’s Brigade and the Boy Scouts. We never see a queue of boys waiting to join the Brownies or the Girl Guides. We see the concept of the “Gentleman’s Club” forced to open its doors to women, yet we still have a women only W.I. (Women’s Institute). We have “Woman’s Hour” on Radio 4, no mention of a “Man’s Hour”. The Right Honourable Harriet Harman QC MP is also Minister for Women. There is no comparable Ministry for Men (although that is a debatable point I do concede).

And how long does it take the panel on television’s “Loose Women” to get onto the subject of men? Check it out – at least 2 minutes maximum. These emancipated goddesses have their own show and totally blow it within minutes of the show being aired. After a brief introduction of whatever these crones cackle about, they are immediately onto the subject of how to attract a man. They talk about their curves (or lack of them), their boob size, their lingerie… my point is, the conversation goes in one direction only: Men and how to attract one. Come on girls, you have the forum, use it.

Independent women or arm candy?

Independent women or arm candy?

Interestingly, I was checking out the history of women inventors and scientists. From Sybilla Masters in 1715 through to Ellen Ochoa in 1993, there have been a total of fifteen worthy of note. Yes, that is fifteen!

Whilst female forums and platforms continue with this pandering to a “Barbie” lifestyle, the Paris Hiltons will always outnumber the Marie Curies.

There is one underlying fact that is simply a universal truism – Women are attractive, men are attracted! That’s it. The sooner we simply accept that fact, grow up and accept the way we are hardwired together, the sooner we can all engage in the common pursuit of excellence.

Men have always worn two hats when it comes to the subject of women – one on their head and one between their legs. I am now speaking with the hat on my head and will say that there is nothing sexier than an intellectual woman. However, if there are any women out there, wishing to act like drunken ladettes down my local tavern in Pimlico – I am quite prepared to be disappointed and swap hats.

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It’s in the Air

Posted in Rant with tags , , , , , , , on June 26, 2009 by Stefan III

It's in the Air 1

Hum… Is it me? Or, have I missed something? Has everybody been drinking from the “Crazy Well” again? Swine Flu: I was going to categorise today’s missive under the title of “Humour”, but alas I fear it is another one for the “Rant” bucket.

On 11 June, it was confirmed that the new Influenza virus subtype of the H1N1 strain was indeed a pandemic, by the World Health Organisation. The WHO? Yes, that’s right, the W.H.O.

I’m no genius, but I do know that older, even ancient viruses have “learnt” that killing the host is not a good idea. From a virus viewpoint, you kill the host and you’ve shot yourself in the foot, so to speak. You’ve lost your home, your breeding boudoir and your mode of transport in one fell swoop. Now the older and wiser viruses are clever chaps. They’ll just stun you a bit. Make you feel groggy for a week or two. Due to the fact that you are not permanently immobilised or, even worse, dead, the virus gets to meet all your chums, your boss, your work colleagues, your lovers, well you get the idea – and all courtesy of you as the viruses’ mode of transport.

Now new viruses are a totally different ball game. These young chaps, not having had the benefit of experience, tend to have a less subtle game plan. In their eagerness to stamp their mark and shake the world, they are impetuous. Not having had the time to formulate any policies yet, their weapon of choice is the lump hammer. Meet a host, kill a host. “By Gad, this lump hammer’s effective” they think, “We’ll conquer the planet in a matter of months”. Of course, they do not realise that they are eventually going to run out of hosts. It would be tempting to snigger and allow them to carry on with their naïve plan. Well tempting, if we were not the hosts!

Now, before we get too smug and scoff at our little foolhardy friends, we should ponder our own innate stupidity. Did we not learn anything from history? European explorers have unintentionally wiped out entire populations in the past. I am not suggesting that their original agenda was particularly benevolent towards these populations, but wiping them out with disease was not on the tick list. At the time, of course, the demise of the visited was totally baffling to the visiting conquerors, the “advisors” or whatever Imperialists are calling themselves these days.

It's in the Air 2

My point is that large tracts of ocean, sea or desert are natural “breaks”. Airborne diseases and viruses cannot handle the trip! They die en route. Historically, populations and their natural immune systems had never experienced these “new” strains. So, out came the lump hammer.

Today’s modes of transport mean that journeys that would have taken months or years can be accomplished in hours. So why the hell did we allow people to fly out of Mexico? The “new” strain is discovered – you isolate Mexico on Day One. Simple. You accept that the new strain does not recognise border control, but it certainly knows an ocean when it dies trying to wend its way across one. It dies trying, but at least all other continents are saved. It’s not difficult, not with the mind bogglingly advanced communication networks we have straddling the planet.

No, we have to send reporters in. We fly people to Mexico to have a look for ourselves. We liaise with other people who have just returned from Mexico. We do just about everything we can to assist this new virus. The new virus cannot believe its luck.

A Scottish couple returned from their honeymoon in Mexico. They were the first reported case in the UK. They were released from hospital. A friend visited them at their home. You’ve guessed it. He caught the virus, and then there were three. Doh! Then an army of reporters clambered to get the story. Doh! And so it goes…

Gordon Brown said about Swine Flu:

We have been preparing for this kind of scenario for many years. Britain is among the best prepared countries in the world. I do urge people to follow the advice from the Department of Health…We, together with the World Health Organisation and our partners in Europe and internationally, will continue to take all the urgent action that is necessary to halt the spread of this virus.”

Somehow, before the establishment uttered a word, I had the feeling we would somehow be the best prepared in the world. It was just a hunch.

By the way, I think the advice from the Department of Health to which Gordon refers to is: Always cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough

Good God! The new virus is quaking in its boots, as it reaches for the lump hammer.

Incidentally, this very day, 500 new cases of Swine Flu have been announced in the UK. This takes the total up to over 4,000. A large leap from the original 3. I think we know who’s winning this one

It's in the Air 3

The Titfield Thunderbolt

Posted in Rant with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by Stefan III
The Titfield Thunderbolt

The Titfield Thunderbolt

There’s something a bit “Titfield Thunderbolt” about the current state of the British railway system – a slight whiff, a flavour, a hint of a missed opportunity at Ealing Studios. It’s hard to pin down, but it’s there…

It is almost incomprehensible now to think that Britain invented the railways. That’s right, the entire caboodle. We do tend to chest puff and blow our own trumpet with a missionary zeal that would put a masturbating monkey to shame. It’s all aimed at the home audience, of course. Meanwhile the foreign audience, if they happen to catch any of this, would simply choke on their baguettes in disbelief. We have an unerring knack of swaggering into the Lamborghini Owner’s Club dressed like Austin Powers, tossing our Mini Cooper car keys onto the bar and winking to the attract the attention of the barmaid.

Titfield2

As mentioned, we invented the railways. A point not lost on Network Rail, who have commissioned the solid and reassuring voice of Mr Bernard Hill, adding gravitas to their current TV campaign. It opens with quintessentially English vistas and the words “You men of old. You men with shovels, picks and dynamite…” It goes on to promote the upgrading of the West Coast Main Line and finishes with something like “Your railway lives on”. The point being made is that the good work you began is being forever improved upon until we reach the zenith.

Then in a fanfare of trumpetry and frippery, the latest high speed trains are announced. These toned, sleek tubes of chain lightening are the latest addition to the star fleet and are capable of reaching the dizzying speeds of 140 mph. Although, in reality they will be capped to a speed of 125 mph. One can only assume for health and safety reasons, time warping, Doppler Effect and that sort of chap. In France, where their TGV-V150 reaches speeds of 575 kmh (that’s 357 mph), they didn’t even glance over the top of their “La Monde” or break from dunking croissants in their café noir over breakfast. They have a word especially for us – passé.

This is not “Have a go at the UK” day, trust me. As I understand it, these new trains are Hitachi Japanese technology, although you would never have guessed from the credit we are begging to have bestowed on us. A bit of humility wouldn’t go amiss. No more boastful toad please. A straight forward announcement would have sufficed, along the lines (no pun intended) of:

“Today, Britain announces its latest commissioning of new trains. They’re a tad quicker than our previous ones. We’re getting there.”

Succinct, modest and manages to tag on an old slogan from the British Rail days. What more can we ask for? Actually, I was wondering if the Bishop of Welchester would be driving the new fleet of trains.

Titfield3

Way back, when this weblog first began – days ago now! Readers will remember my top hat ploy – perhaps? It matters not. The point here is that I have drifted seamlessly onto the subject of top hats. Some time ago, Tarquin a good friend of mine, sent me an interesting snippet of top hat information.

The story, as reproduced in many books, has it that John Hetherington was arraigned before the Lord Mayor on 15 January 1797 on a charge of breach of the peace and inciting a riot, and was required to post a £500 bond. Reportedly he had “appeared on the public highway wearing upon his head what he called a silk hat (which was shiny lustre and calculated to frighten timid people)” and the officers of the Crown stated that “several women fainted at the unusual sight, while children screamed, dogs yelped and a younger son of Cordwainer Thomas was thrown down by the crowd which collected and had his right arm broken”.

Do you see what happens when you ponce about in a top hat?