A keen interest of traveling

“An exciting opertunity for anyone with a keen interest of traveling and cars to be able to count vehicles types and models , logging the info for a database…”

I don’t know about you, but there are exciting opportunities, and then there are exciting opertunities.

To be able to exploit one’s keen interest in, and to count, car models and list them on a database (that’s a highly technological word for a list) doesn’t feel like it might fall readily into either category.

Plus, if you have even a modest grasp of the English language as she is wrote, you will perceive that the recruitment advertisement from which I have quoted the above extract was created, probably, by a crapulous fourth-grade baboon who has been at the fermented fruit again.

He, she or it continues, almost unbelievably:

…where we can decide what kind of garage potential it holds, job is part time and casual based, vehicle transport will be provided with a co driver, Will suite student or someone allready with a current main job e.g admin who requires a refreshing timeout, vehicle counting will mostly take place around the road of a470 along the coastline and the town centre.

Yes, a refreshing timeout indeed (hoping against hope that the database does not timeout too…)

Stuck around the side of the a470 all day in the rain, holding doubtless interesting conversations with the co driver of your vehicle transport, counting car types, assessing their garage potential… How suite! When, in fact, ‘the road of a470 along the town centre’ is, according to maps of this particular topographic location, the A487… meaning you’d be in the wrong county to begin with.

Oh, I do love the wondrous world of work. I’ve been prospecting for a fulltime job for the past seven years. All I can get is five weeks a year at the University, pacing up and down an enormous room filled with earnestly scribbling students smelling, as my student son memorably put it, of ‘death and pizza’, trying to look both fierce and helpful at the same time.

When, without any seeming effort on my part to have learned how to conjoin words in a recognised linguistic format, I could have been a contender for an ‘exciting opertunity’ to become a recruitment copywriter. It makes you weep, to be onist.


Postscriptum, also concerning the World of Work:

From AngloInfo – Dordogne edition’s Classified Ads section, today…

“We are looking for a cook, about 20 hours per week. Simple, hearty, honest food, (nothing processed or frozen).  We want the food serving hot, not like art-on-a-plate and served cold. Must be well organised. Some lunches could have many guests so you must have timing.
Work contract available with all the benefits.”

Mmn. I am wondering just what all those ‘benefits’ could be? I suppose if you’ve got a couple of weeks’ experience flipping burgers in a Blackpool kebab joint, the mere opportunity to serve such discriminating employers and their numerous friends clearly trapped abroad in a hideous EU nightmare of gelatinous cuisine minceur proper food – boiled beef and carrots, possibly? – would surely be a sufficient benefit in itself.

None of that foreign muck ‘ere, if you please. We’re Brits.

– UB

A wake-up call for Civilization

One of the things that annoys me about our politicians is how far behind they are on the technology curve.

On the news this morning, European communications authorities have announced they are to get together to try to do something about the ISIL recruitment websites, of which there are said to be ‘thousands’.

Why didn’t they do something about them two years ago? By the time any concrete action emerges from this policy statement, there will be millions; and thousands of domestic jihadis in search of a Kalashnikov.

It’s because they are boring, middle-aged grownups. It has only just occurred to them that there are ISIL recruiting websites, and that their children are interacting with them. You mean you can actually speak to evil people you can see committing atrocities in realtime on your computer? Who knew?

We frequently hear critics of the government’s vacillating non-policy on national energy supplies warn of the danger of ‘the lights going out’. I can tell them, we had a power outage here this morning, lasting an hour. The ‘lights’ were the last of my worries.

Landline telephones used to plug-in to the phone network directly. The network provided its own 60-volt power supply, independently from the National Grid. Now we all have roaming phones, that depend on mains-powered base-stations. My mobile had gone flat overnight. My roaming phone was bleating that it could not call out without Mummy. Result: no communication with the power company, to see what the hell was going on.

Resort to the Interweb thing? Well, no, not really. You see, my WiFi router hub wotsname is mains-powered too. Not that I can get the WiFi bit in The Little House on the Prairie (my ‘shack’, as my son ironically named the lovely and useful studio room I had built out in the garden at vast expense.) It’s 20 yards away, and these Netgear routers can barely transmit to the other side of the room.

No, I’m wired to the router in the house via an annoying cable and the Ethernet. I expect they are next-door too, as I can’t seem to get attached to the Internet by sucking on their Broadband pipe either.

The gas cooker is out. So too is the hot water, which normally arrives after half an hour or so from the gas boiler upstairs. Both gas units are dependent on electricity to fire themselves up. How shortsighted was that, industrial design baboons? Luckily, there’s a box of matches. With nothing better to do, I can make a pot of coffee and wash-up by heating water in a saucepan, the old way.

Then there are the fridge, and the freezer. I run through the contents of the freezer, mentally. Thank God, it’s only full of stuff that should have been thrown out two years ago. There are some oven chips and a pack of dogfood that I could use up today, that are still potentially fit for human consumption. If the oven worked.

A tiny secret I am keeping from myself, and from the snarky boy who resides temporarily with me while he is between student housing contracts, is that I have bought yet another guitar. Oh God, make it stop! It is due for delivery today.

But how am I to hear the doorbell? Once upon a time, doorbells were battery-powered. Before that, even, they relied on some mechanical means. Now I have sophisticated sounders capable of producing up to fifty different melodies, that you plug in to the mains sockets all over the house and they pick up a radio signal from the front door – or would do, if electricity still flowed through their tiny musical veins.

Not but which, the instrument is my first solid-body guitar for many years. Without amplification, it makes barely a sound. And without electricity there can be no amplification. So even if I do manage to accept delivery of it, I shall not be able to try out its uniquely innovative pick-up system – the very reason I bought it (secondhand, naturally) in the first place.

Finally, I am bereft without the BBC news. Both my radios can, in theory, run on batteries. But for how long would you want to leave the batteries in your radio before you could count on getting a power cut? (Until they’ve gone flat and are leaking furry blue stuff, is how long.)

By now I am in survival mode and looking, I hope, intrepidly resourceful, like Viggo Mortensen in The Road. Plan B involves using the charged battery in my laptop to power my mobile via a USB cable rescued from the phone charger. I hunt out the little rubbery headphones and prepare to use the Radio app to access the BBC, whose news output would, I was convinced, speak of massive solar storms, revolution in Europe, an ISIL attack – Welsh independence.

At the precise moment I select R4, having finished disentangling the headphones, whose little buds keep plopping floppily out of my ears (how do people manage to jog with these silly things in?), with a groan the lights come on and the reassuring distant thrum of the fridge motor tells me civilization is restored.

But for how long?

Our politicians must be told: we need to prepare for much, much worse than just the lights going out. This is, after all, the 21st century.

A dystopian future beckons.

Nigel Farage, an apology

An apology is owed by The Boglington Post to Mr Nigel Farage, erstwhile and current leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party.

It seems on reviewing a number of Posts on this, muh li’l bogl, that we may have inaccurately referred to Mr Farage from time to time as a former merchant banker.

Mr Farage has recently been at pains to point out that he was, in fact, merely a commodity broker.

That’s all right, then.

Nor should it be imputed that Thanet South voters who declined to elect Mr Farage as their Member of Parliament at the recent General Election might have been unduly influenced by any adverse coverage he received in The Post. For, as any fule kno, Boglington-on-Sea is in fact somewhere up North.

However, as we approach the 450th Post after three years and four months of excoriating, informed comment, this regrettable lapse in editorial standards has brought it home to me as your Editor-in-Chief that we must constantly be questioning everything we do and say. There may be a case for establishing beyond doubt, the veracity of every article the Post has ever published.

Consequently, I am instigating a full and frank inquiry to be chaired by my old school chum, Lord Brian Leveson, who has some expertise in these matters.

I trust that the outcome of this searching probe will demonstrate that, while every effort has been made to ensure balance, accuracy and fairness in Uncle Bogler’s normally lamentable reporting, the charitable view must prevail. He does his best, under frequently trying circumstances.

For, when everything is said and done, all life is fiction, n’est ce pas?

Herr Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl (By Appointment)



Up, up and away

camphone 3 033Interviewed on the wireless today, one of Branson’s test pilots for his ludicrous ‘space tourism’ venture remarked that if Otto Lilienthal had crashed his glider and people said that would be the end of Man’s attempts to fly, where would we be now?

And I thought, yes. Yes! (punches the computer for emphasis).

Maybe powered flight is the absolute worst idea in history…

Let’s just take a minute to imagine a world without aeroplanes (US trans: airplanes). For a start, we wouldn’t go around dropping bombs on one another just to make a political point. All those people, mostly non-combatant civilians, women and children, needn’t have died before their time. It’s been going on for exactly a hundred years. Has anyone kept score? What are we talking? Millions of dead?

And rockets, and now unmanned drones controlled by teenage substance-abusers in a bunker somewhere in Virginia; swarms of tiny powered insect drones programmed to overfly a crowd and surgically take out all the people called Roger, using tiny missiles…

Then, without powered flight  the world might be a little quieter.

I bogld yesterday my despair at the racket my neighbours make, their builders and decorators, the ceaseless whine and grind of power tools. I’ve complained before at the constant susurrus of distant traffic at night, punctuated by the snarl and rumble of speeding Subaru Imprezas and huge lorries in the street outside, the damned racket the seagulls make at dawn. Sirens; distant car alarms. Sometimes, as now, a train clatters past on the line behind the flats they built across the road.

But nothing compares to the mighty rush and roar of jets landing and taking off every two minutes, screaming over your home near the airport, starting up at five a.m. I used to live near Heathrow, very many years ago. I know. And I have lived on a Welsh hillside, where at any moment two RAF Tornado jets might suddenly appear from behind a hill and scream at rooftop height over your peaceful valley, transformed for a moment or two into a green parody of some flyblown mountain fastness, sheep and horses running about in panic.

And then there’s the pollution, engines injecting water vapour and particulates into the upper atmosphere. It’s estimated the world would be twenty per cent brighter without it, as was demonstrated when the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull (test me!) erupted and put a stop to commercial flights in the northern hemisphere for four sparkling days.

Probably the worst effect of commercial flights however is the ceaseless churning of citizens around the globe, the homogenisation of formerly disparate cultures, the increasing sameness of everywhere; starting with the bustling impersonality of countless airports. The onward transmission of mediocrity, amid a climate of perfervid boredom and intense, irrational paranoia.

This has contributed in no small measure to the dangerous idea, and to the American Project for the 21st Century, that everywhere should be a consumer capitalist liberal democracy, buying our stuff – or we’ll bomb the shit out of you from on high.

And without the dream of space flight, maybe overgrown kids like Branson – a true product of the consumer capitalist liberal democracy, if ever there was one – would spend a little more time and energy and (our) money fixing things down here, where they matter.

Putting up the shutters

I’m wondering if there is any peace to be had in the world, and when I shall be allowed to sleep?

Yesterday, I spent several hours fumbling and cursing as I struggled to put up the three roller-blinds I finally persuaded myself to buy, to cut down the level of light in the bedrooms.

I’ve been doing this kind of DIY job for most of my adult life. At times I’ve even been paid for it. Now, the brain-hand-eye coordination, the easy figuring-out of how things go, is gone. I sit for hours, numbly wondering where this bit goes, how to fit that thing, what on earth the wordless diagrams mean. I tramp glumly up and downstairs all day, fetching these bits of wood and that screwdriver bit, that are unexpectedly needed to make sense of the job.

Surely in the old days, you had a clawhammer and a screwdriver, maybe a saw that wasn’t blunt after one use, and the job was done? Now you have an infinite choice provided by different tool systems with interchangeable bits and bobs, designed for this specific purpose or that, this particular size and design of screw-head… It’s all marketing.

Why am I bothering?

Because the prevailing ethos of the suburb where I live, on the fringe of a small seaside town, is one of doing, more than being.

Everyone has to be seen (and heard) all the time to be doing something here, either to their car or their house, or to that useless piece of green countryside they call their garden. And it is never-ending.

For almost four years I have put up with daylight streaming through the – frankly useless – vertical blinds with which the bedroom windows were adorned. Judging by my neighbours’ houses, an uncommonly successful vertical-blind salesman must have descended on the area ten years ago. How anyone sleeps, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s why we’re all so grumpy.

Streaming daylight is matched at night by the new street lights, which two years ago replaced the familiar orange ones, that were like being in the midst of a chlorine gas attack. Now, white light blazes from three sources right outside, infiltrating, probing, illuminating every part of my little house, so that I no longer need have any lights on. Birds sing all night, a sweet trill of confusion.

At about nine this morning, I had been awake on and off since five, admiring the marginal reduction achieved in the number of photons insistently barging through one of the windows, that I had succeeded in partially blinding – the other will have to wait, I accidentally cut through the cord that raises and lowers the blind – and little Hunzi was making his third attempt to nose me out of bed, when the doorbell rang.

The chime was accompanied by an impatient banging. As I stumbled downstairs shouting that I was coming, the ringing and banging went on. On the doorstep was a rough gentleman I recognised as one of the builders working on the houses across the street. I knew what he wanted. He wanted me to move my car.

Having no private  parking, knowing the houses opposite were unoccupied, I have taken to parking on a patch of concrete in front of their front wall. It is as close to my house as I can get.

Now, I know, the developers know, and the builders even possibly know, that the land does not form part of the curtilage of the properties. Nevertheless, they regard me with annoyance*. The work is being done piecemeal, and has gone on for many months, a day or two at a time. If I knew when they were coming, I would park elsewhere. I can be obliging, even on two hours’ sleep. Most of the time they aren’t here, then they turn up and glower at me, parking their white vans where I can’t get out.

Having to get out of bed to move my car so the builders working on the roof of the houses opposite could get cement delivered was only the latest in a series of minor frustrations I have had over parking, caused by a plague of ‘white vans’ that has infested this area now for years.

Three years ago next week, a flood caused by an error at the hydropower scheme up the valley inundated the small estate of houses across the road to a depth of about a foot. For the next six months, dozens of white vans came and went, commandeering precious parking spaces as living-room walls were replastered, kitchens replaced and new carpets laid. I was obliged to park down the street, wherever I could find space.

Parking further away caused resentment among the residents, who anyway regard the spaces on the public highway outside their homes as their own. Snide little notes appeared on my windscreen. Householders took to leaving their cars and campers out on the road, instead of in their driveways. One told me, ‘I don’t like to look out of my window and see other people’s cars parked outside my house.’ I began to hate humans intensely.

Halfway through the refurbishment, even more white vans appeared on the scene as the development of the brownfield site next to the estate into flats and houses was begun. The sound of heavy digging and earthmoving equipment, the shaking of piledrivers was eventually replaced by the continual snarl of drilling and sawing and concrete-cutting machinery, the digging-up and refilling and re-digging-up of the road outside, intense activity that went on for the next two and a half years. (In China, they build entire cities in six weeks…)

This merely added to the racket made by the half-witted old man who lives just above the end of my little garden. He is in the habit of dragging an ancient circular bench-saw out of a shipping container he has somehow been allowed to park on the road in front of his house and spends days at a time, happily sawing-up old kitchen worktops into small squares, which he burns in his fireplace on winter nights, the stench of burning formica, laden with dioxins,  hanging over the houses around. The noise is indescribable.

At three a.m. the lorries start grinding through the street outside: huge, six-axle, refrigerated  32-tonners, bigger than my house, as big as a small town, delivering Cathedral City cheese to the local supermarkets. What it will be like when the new Tesco opens, I shudder to think. Scat the Cat comes in at four, yowling her greeting, wondering about a spot of breakfast, complaining of being wet-through, or singing her sadistic little song to her new little playmate, with whom she is having a merry game of ‘toss the mouse’ before eviscerating them on the stairs.

By now in the summer months, the street lights are giving way to the daylight, streaming through the ineffectual vertical blinds, and the dawn chorus of the birds is starting up. The ‘ravelled sleeve of care’ remains once again un-knit.

So it is hardly a surprise when the news this morning brings news of a new report – it is the scientific conference season – on Alzheimer’s. Your risk of developing this ultimately lethal form of dementia is majorly increased, we are told, when you suffer more or less permanently from lack of a good night’s sleep. Your brain becomes clogged with proteinacious gunge that goes unprocessed, you forget how to put up roller-blinds, and then you die.

I’ll tell you one thing, I’m going crazy living here.

Why can’t everyone stop doing for a while, and just learn to BE?

*Quote: “You’re a fucking pain in the arse, you are.”