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I’ve got a bike…

itchyscratchyblog

…you can ride it if you like.

Or not…

Thomas and I went in to town this morning and we were almost hit by a cyclist.  I will admit we were being a bit inconsiderate.

By crossing at the trafffic lights when the “green man” was on we were clearly being inconsiderate by making it more difficult for the cyclist to ride through the red light.   When I said (and I quote myself) “Red lights apply to cyclists as well”, I was called a word beginning with C.  So….

Dear Cyclists,

I appreciate there are a lot of stupid drivers/people out there who, amongst other things, do not show respect to cyclists. However, despite what some of you might think you are not exactly perfect yourselves.

Some Comparisons:

Cost of decent car: £thousands
Cost of decent bike: £hundreds

Cost of learning to drive before being allowed on the road alone:…

View original post 445 more words

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Mr Benn Day: 30th August 2014

At last, in these times of international famine and conflict we have something worth celebrating.

The government has just announced the introduction of Mr Benn Day.  Therefore on Saturday August 30th the star of the legendary but short lived 1970’s TV cartoon finally gets the recognition he deserves.

The few episodes (from stories by David McKee) that were made and broadcast by the BBC have been seen many times since their first broadcast.  So to celebrate Mr Benn Day 2014 we will pay homage to the only original McKee story never broadcast:

123456789 Benn:   In this story Mr Benn visits the shop and tries on a prison uniform.  Not surprisingly he finds himself in prison and he inspires his fellow inmates to decorate their cells.

To avoid everyone clashing the following edict has been issued by Mr Cameron’s newly appointed Minister for Mr Benn Day, Michael Gove:

Children will all dress up as the inmates who will ultimately be inspired by Mr Benn;
Mr Benn himself will be the domain of all adult males;
Women will act out the role of the shopkeeper;

The simple premise is to keep alive the ethos of Mr Benn.  A simply drawn life, in black and white, with potentially scary adventures that work out fine in the end.

Additionally, in honour of this momentous event, a brand new Mr Benn story has been written.  It is published in its entirety below and shall form the basis of Mr Benn Day on August 29th 2015.

 Mr Benn The Professional footballer:

Narrator: All was quite at number 52 Festive Road.  Mr Benn decided to go for a walk.  He put on his hat and coat and set off along Festive Road.  After a while he turned into an alley and found himself outside a small costume shop.  Without hesitation, he steps inside and looks around at the selection of costumes on display.  As if by Magic the Shopkeeper appears.

Shopkeeper: “Hello Sir,  have you seen anything you’re interested in?”

Mr Benn: “Yes indeed, That red shirt with the odd-looking gold coloured cross on the front seems most interesting.”

Shopkeeper:  “Excellent sir, please follow me”

Narrator:  The shopkeeper showed Mr Benn to the changing room.  Inside Mr Benn changed into his costume.  He looked at himself in the mirror and then walked through the door to see what adventures awaited him.  He found himself on the edge of a large grass arena surrounded by what appeared to be thousands of people. Mr Benn realised it was a football stadium and he wondered what the life of a footballer would involve.
A woman rushed up to him.  “Quick”, she said. “I need to introduce you to your personal aides before your first game starts.”  So Mr Benn followed the woman into a large room.  In the room were some people Mr Benn had never met before.
“These days”, said the woman, “a footballer needs his own aides to help everything run smoothly. Let me introduce you to yours”!  Mr Benn walked along the line and was introduced to Andy Coulson, his biographer; Max Clifford, his publicist; his physio, Dr H. Shipman; Nick Leeson, his financial advisor, Tom Daley, his diving coach and finally his social secretary Paul Gascoigne.  Standing behind them was his trophy girlfriend, Cheryl.  Mr Benn wasn’t sure if this was a good idea after all.

Mr Benn: “Nice to meet you all, when does the match begin”?

Narrator:  As Mr Benn spoke he heard a whistle from somewhere outside and he was rushed out to start his first game for his team, Moanchester Disunited.  The match was against Spartak Chelski, a team with a history going back many months.  One of his opponents passed by about 2 yards away and then, for no apparent reason, fell over.  Mr Benn wondered if his opponent felt silly rolling around on the grass like that?  After all he hadn’t been shot had he?  The referee blew his whistle and awarded the Spartak Chelski player, Drogba,  a free kick.  The referee was wearing a shirt which advertised the company he used to purchase his spectacles, Mr Benn wondered if he was overdue for a check up.  Mr Benn mentioned  these thoughts to the referee and also expressed his concerns regarding the referees parentage.  During the remainder of the first half Mr Benn received the ball a few times and wondered why one of his team, Tom Daley, kept shouting at him to do what they had worked on in training.

In the second half Mr Benn received the ball from a small fat teammate called Diego.  He ran forward with the ball until he reached something called the penalty area.  He then tripped over his boot laces and as he fell he wondered why Paul, his social secretary, had tied them together like that.  For some reason the referee, who was still near the halfway line, blew his whistle and awarded Mr Benn a penalty.  His England teammate Chris Waddle was to take the penalty and Mr Benn wondered if the woman in the 42nd row of the stands was a friend of Mr Waddle.  Why else, he thought, would Chris kick the ball to her?  Another of Mr Benns teammates, Eric KarateKid, was sent off by the referee for kicking,  despite his protestations that the ball was supposed to be kicked.  Chelski defender Dumb Terry was substituted late in the second half having failed to get involved in the game at all.  A subsequent investigation found that line chalk was put in the referees vanishing spray bottle.  As it failed to vanish Terry stayed where he was.  (I believe he is still there.

When the final whistle blew Mr Benn went to have a drink.  His social secretary gave him his drink but drinking it made him feel very strange and wobbly.  Before he collapsed he had time to wonder why the rest of his aides were leaving with some Police Officers,  Mr Benn assumed they were helping the police with something and he was sure he would see them again soon.  (Except Cheryl who, in Mr Benns opinion, had a horrible grating voice and he didn’t want to see her again).

When Mr Benn awoke he found himself back in the changing room at the costume shop.  He had a terrible headache and decided that, while this adventure was fun, he wouldn’t want to repeat it.

As he was changing back into his suit he found a brown envelope in the pocket of his costume.  He pulled out the envelope and discovered it contained £1000000 in cash.
“Fuck me sideways”, said Mr Benn, “I’m fucking minted, where’s the nearest strip joint”?

The Road (and ocean) To Hell…

itchyscratchyblog

…are we nearly there yet?

Mid June:

Time again to think about the annual family pilgrimage to somewhere that isn’t home.

This year it’s a rare chance to educate the natives with a trip to foreign climes, in the shape of La Belle France.  I must practice speaking slowly and shouting which, given that I normally speak to the kids in that fashion, shouldn’t be hard.  Having booked very late (as usual) we couldn’t get the sailing we wanted so our 2014 road trip begins with a 200 plus mile drive to Plymouth on the first Saturday of the school holidays. This is followed by the 10pm overnighter to Roscoff.  The whole thing should be a breeze, what could go wrong?

Late June:

Received paperwork from holiday company (Brittany Ferries).  Ring them to find out why the car reg number (an important thing) isn’t on the travel documents.  Find out…

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The Road (and ocean) To Hell…

…are we nearly there yet?

 

Mid June:

Time again to think about the annual family pilgrimage to somewhere that isn’t home.

This year it’s a rare chance to educate the natives with a trip to foreign climes, in the shape of La Belle France.  I must practice speaking slowly and shouting which, given that I normally speak to the kids in that fashion, shouldn’t be hard.  Having booked very late (as usual) we couldn’t get the sailing we wanted so our 2014 road trip begins with a 200 plus mile drive to Plymouth on the first Saturday of the school holidays. This is followed by the 10pm overnighter to Roscoff.  The whole thing should be a breeze, what could go wrong?

Late June:

Received paperwork from holiday company (Brittany Ferries).  Ring them to find out why the car reg number (an important thing) isn’t on the travel documents.  Find out that they have no passenger names recorded either.  What are these people on?

The RAC want an extra £96 to cover the car in Europe.  I suspect it would be cheaper to join the French AA.  Actually given the stress in the run up the AA might be necessary and I don’t mean the automotive version.

As usual in the run up to summer holidays numerous people say the exact same thing.  “Are you going away?” and “Going anywhere nice?”  To which I reply “Yes” and “No, France”.

Mid July and It’s time for the off:

We decided to set out at 10ish to take a leisurely crawl along the A303 (That’s after getting past the M3 and the Farnborough Air Show).  So promptly at 11.45 herself was finally ready for the off and off we finally went.  The leisurely crawl turned into a nice drive so clearly many schools were still in residence!  I also cannot claim the credit for the overnight ferry decision (actually I was against it) but what a great idea, so relaxing.  Thomas and I shared a cabin and we were kept awake for a while by noise from the next cabin.  Despite what I told him the moaning was not related to sea sickness.  I nearly gave them a round of applause at the end…

I had planned for the (very commendable) fact that finding an open shop in france on sunday afternoon is rare, so food for the day was in the car.  I had however not planned for seeing a note in the Gite telling us that the tap water was not suitable for drinking…  An afternoon of boiling and cooling water ensued.

I clearly don’t know my gauche from my droit:  Driving on French roads is generally much nicer than English roads and driving on the wrong side is fine.  However my brain clearly cannot cope with giving verbal instructions when herself is driving.  I know that we need to take the first exit at the roundabout and I know that it is a right turn.   However my English driving brain insisted on saying left EACH time causing annoyance to herself and, I think, a number of French drivers…  Désolé

It is noticable that most car parks in France don’t charge.  But for those that do two things stick out.  They are cheap and (Epsom Council take note) they give change.

Thomas on the beach is an interesting exercise.  He hates going topless in public and it was well into the second week before the t-shirt came off, even in the sea.  I suspect he just doesn’t want sun cream on.  But the aggravation when we have to remove his wet trunks and put dry clothes on is unbelievable, involving two shielding towels, two parents and much whingeing from all.  France hasn’t seen such a well planned operation since the 1940’s.

We had generally lovely gites but both had no WiFi so the children actually discovered a games compendium and learned to play, among other things, backgammon.  Will that continue now we’re home?  Amusing to read the “visitors book” in the second gite.  One entry complimented the cottage etc but complained that the kitchen clock was an hour slow (English time) and therefore confusing.  The visitors a week later were equally complimentary and ended their comments with “PS. We put the clock right”.

Big thanks to Mark for constant text updates on the test matches although I discovered (too late for the cricket) that the car still picked up Radio 5!

So after 2 lovely weeks of sun, sea, BBQ and booze in what I must admit is a beautiful part of the world we are now home again.   Back to doormat status for me then.

And finally:  I returned to 49 emails in the junk folder.  42 of which were offering me the chance to enlarge a certain part of my anatomy… How did they know?

Computer Love…

itchyscratchyblog

…I call this number for a data date.  (Name that tune)

Thinking about life without computers and technology seems simply impossible now. They have invaded our lives, be it socially or for business, in so many ways.  I guess it’s mainly a good thing but I sometimes hanker for the good old days.

“The Here and Now” versus “The There and Then”.  How we do it and how we did it.

  •  Contacts:
    now I scroll down a long list on my phone, press a small part of the screen and bingo – A phone call is made. (Or a text… etc.).  Back then I had them written down in my address book.  And back then I actually knew my (and others’) phone number
  • Calendar:
    Now I have an “app” on my phone where the active lives of my children (not me you understand) are recorded.  However I still have a…

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Computer Love…

…I call this number for a data date.  (Name that tune)

Thinking about life without computers and technology seems simply impossible now. They have invaded our lives, be it socially or for business, in so many ways.  I guess it’s mainly a good thing but I sometimes hanker for the good old days.

“The Here and Now” versus “The There and Then”.  How we do it and how we did it.

  •  Contacts:
    now I scroll down a long list on my phone, press a small part of the screen and bingo – A phone call is made. (Or a text… etc.).  Back then I had them written down in my address book.  And back then I actually knew my (and others’) phone number
  • Calendar:
    Now I have an “app” on my phone where the active lives of my children (not me you understand) are recorded.  However I still have a calendar on the kitchen wall and it needs a pen (remember those).  I spend more time syncing my phone and the wall calendar than actually doing the events.  An interesting marriage between the now and the then.
  • The Internet:
    Used for essay research (copying), and general finding out of stuff.  Back then we had to walk to a library (look them up on google if you don’t know what they are), and look in an encyclopedia or something.  Libraries now, what remains of them, are populated by parents with under 2’s who like a story but can’t quite google yet.
  • E-readers:
    See library (demise of) above.
  • Banking:
    There was a time when I could only get cash from an actual bank, and then only during business hours.  Now I can get it anywhere, ATM’s, shops, pubs etc.  The cashback culture gives us so much more opportunity to get into debt.  Mind you with internet and phone banking I can at least discover my debt faster.  Back then I would have to rely on the post office to deliver the bad news.
  • Cyber crime:
    Back then if someone wanted to rob me they would have to stand on a street corner wielding a baseball bat.  Now neither me nor the “robber” need leave the comfort of our own homes.  The bonus, l guess, is that I don’t need to visit the downgraded Epsom A & E for stitches.
  • File storage:
    Computer hard drives, CD Roms, memory sticks and even something called the cloud now keep details of everything we own.  Yet many of us (guilty as charged) still end up printing copies of everything and using a filing cabinet.  (Again, Google it).  If it rains doesn’t a cloud burst?  Where does my stuff go then?
  • Teamer:
    Software that organises the selection of my kids’ cricket teams.  Great if players/parents actually bother to respond.  Back then I would get a phone call and have to make a decision, yes or no, and then on with our lives.
  • Communication – Verbal/visual:
    People(my kids for example) are surprised to hear that mobile phones (Cellphones for my American reader) were originally designed only to make phone calls.  It was years later that texting began. Before then l would need to be in the house to receive a call and my mobility would be restricted by the length of cable attaching the phone to the wall socket. Back then I also had to be in the same room as someone if I wanted to see them. Now Skype and the like mean I can look at the person I am talking to but they’ll never see the rude gestures I am making out of camera shot.
  • Communication – written:
    Dear old email.  We all do it and to be fair, unlike letter writing, it is fairly instant and is a great way to keep in touch.  However how many times had I had an email from someone sitting at the other end of the office.  Get up and walk to my desk you lazy git.  At least then you can be sure that what you say gets to the right recipient.  Clicking send is fraught with danger.
  • Entertainment:
    Back then entire summers were spent at Chris Martins house playing an everlasting game of Risk.  Now you play a number of games against a number of faceless people who, especially in Scrabble, are probably cheating.
  • Commerce:
    How much shopping is now done on the Internet?  It is not impossible to order something online and get it faster than by going to a shop. (I did this recently with a fridge – ordered and delivered same day).  Computer giants are wise to this and it’s only a matter of time before we can only shop on eBay and Amazon.  Trust me – it’ll happen.This is just the tip of the iceberg but to my mind, one thing is certain…
  • Computer Love:
    Yup, you can get that online too these days.  No more do men and women employ the “three S’s” (shower, shave and ****), before hitting the local nightlife in the hope of meeting someone who wants more than one thing.  Now simply go online, upload a 10 year old photoshopped photo, make up some stuff and Bob’s your uncle.  Instant life partner.  I read somewhere recently that 60% of relationships now start online!  Not sure i believe that but I assume the next statistic will be that 50% of divorces start the same way.

…life was so much easier when Apple and Blackberry were just fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve got a bike…

…you can ride it if you like.

Or not…..

Thomas and I went in to town this morning and we were almost hit by a cyclist.  I will admit we were being a bit inconsiderate.

By crossing at the trafffic lights when the “green man” was on we were clearly being inconsiderate by making it more difficult for the cyclist to ride through the red light.   When I said (and I quote myself) “Red lights apply to cyclists as well”, I was called a word beginning with C.  So….

Dear Cyclists,

I appreciate there are a lot of stupid drivers/people out there who, amongst other things, do not show respect to cyclists. However, despite what some of you might think you are not exactly perfect yourselves.

Some Comparisons:

Cost of decent car: £thousands
Cost of decent bike: £hundreds

Cost of learning to drive before being allowed on the road alone: £hundreds
Cost of same for bike: £nil

Cost of Insurance before being allowed on the road: £hundreds
Cost of same for bike: £nil

Cost to car insurer when in accident with bike caused by car: £thousands
Cost of same for bike: £nil

Cost to car insurer when in accident with bike caused by bike: £thousands
Cost of same for bike: £nil

Cost in penalty points to car driver when in accident with bike caused by car: various
Cost as above to cyclist: nil

Cost in penalty points to car driver when in accident with bike caused by bike: nil
Cost as above to cyclist: nil

Some facts:

I see more cyclists than cars going the wrong way down one way streets.

I see more cyclists than cars going along FOOTpaths.  (you’ll notice the stressing of FOOT)

I see more cyclists than cars going through red lights.

I see more cyclists than cars dangerously swearving in and out of slow moving traffic.

I see as many cyclists as car drivers texting and talking on the phone.

Two things amaze me with all this.  When I have questioned cyclists about the above (or seen interviews with them) many do not seem to think they are doing anything wrong.  Also,  given the fragility of their mode of transport (when compared to a large lump of motorised metal coming at you, or a large lump of road doing similar) you’d think they would be more sensible.

I should point out that I am both careful and considerate when driving and approaching cyclists on the road and will continue to be so.

I would also like to point out that the rules I have to abide by on the road also apply to you.  ALL OF THEM.

However given our experience mentioned above (nowhere near the first either) The following now applies.

If I am there (on foot) when a cyclist runs a red light I will not be held responsible if they fall off because I am legally crossing in front of them.
Should they fall off I will, while they are getting up, call the police and if at all possible, have them arrested for dangerous riding.
If there is any damage to me, my family or my posessions I will (given their lack of insurance)  pursue it through the courts.
I will take witness details to aid the above.
I will photograph the guilty cyclist and post the photos online.
If possible I will name and shame online too.

I have had enough and War is Declared.

I see this stuff all the time:  http://home.bt.com/lifestyle/motoring/motoringnews/cyclists-bad-behaviour-caught-on-camera-11363891666224

PS: If Gabby Logan is riding her bike whatever she does is fine with me.

OMG…

…Txting can boost spllng an gramer.  WTF, you’d need a GSOH to believe that!

An article on the BBC website suggests texting can improve spelling and grammar.  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-27816819)

Sorry but I have a different POV and I did LMFAO when I read it.  GR8, I thought, more excuses for the lack of basic skills shown by school children.  The research (using a massive 160 children) suggests the most creative texters were the better spellers.  No Shit Sherlock.  Another way of putting that would be to suggest that there are some who can spell and gram (!) reasonably well anyway and the remainder, whose grammar etc. is not so good, can still text.  (I am going to leave that even though it is not a particularly well written paragraph!)

As the psychologist suggests, texting abreviations are often phonetically based but phonics is  generally only used on the young.   At some point you have to step away from it and “learn” to spell.  That many fail in this suggests underlying issues and continuing to use text abreviations will, in my opinion (IMO),  set the child back further.  it is also possible, of course, that our language is a pain in the neck.  Certainly as one who studied Spanish at school that language is so much simpler than ours.

Iuj eble dirus ke adopti simplan lingvon, ekzemple Esparanto, estus pli facile por ni ĉiuj.

What would be more useful would be for this so called psychologist to find out why the so called weaker students are failing.  Grammar and spelling were, I believe, around long before texting and there were many who couldn’t do it then.  I know this for a fact – I went to school with some of them.  Some might argue I am one…  I am sorry to say this but the fault doesn’t solely lie with teachers, despite what some areas of the media might like to suggest.  I did a small straw poll among parents I know and was actually surprised at the result.  Most read stories to their children when they were young.  But equally most did not read WITH and LISTEN TO their children read when they started school.  This was in the belief that it was schools job, not the parents!  These parents, in the main, are intellegent, well educated people and I actually cannot understand how they can behave like this. For the record my youngest is 9 and we still listen to hime read.

I am often critical of the standard of teaching (solely based on personal experience) and I can very much support that opinion with evidence.  However thankfully, again in my experience, such poor teaching is rare.  What is more common is the lack of resourses.  Different children learn in different ways and our education system doesn’t allow the time and resourse to give each child what s/he needs.  Again in my experience prep and fee paying schools seem to have a higher success rate but that is, I should stress, very unscientific arrived at!  I am not a fan of private schools either.

I should also say that many can and do succeed despite poor grammar and spelling.  One boy who lived close to me during my schooldays was not the most intellegent being and (unknown to his mother but known to me) often skipped school.  He now runs 2 successful taxi businesses and lives in a nice expensive house.  On his Friends Reunited page he says very simply “I run 2 taxi ferms”.  Point made.

For the record:  I know my grammar and spelling  are far from perfect and I deliberately did not strive for perfection in this piece!  Actually I rarely check such things on anything as I tend to write quickly and publish before I lose my bottle!

Equally for the record and again in my opinion the system needs to do two things.  Get rid of under-performing teachers (sorry unions but they do exist).  Remind (some) parents that they do have a responsibility to their children.

And finally:  Third thing, Get rid of Michael Gove.

I am a rock…

…I am an island.

Or, to be more accurate, marrooned on one.

So apparently I am allowed, in my version of Desert Island Discs, 5 things to keep me going.  I will assume that the island has a “storecupboard”, the marooned persons version of the essentials store favoured by most cooking programmes.  The storecupboard will consist of the following:  Trees to burn for cooking and heating. (the trees also have large, soft leaves, ideal for personal hygiene reasons)! Rocks, including a really big one with a cave and small ones to make tools to chop down the trees.  There should also be some rocks of a suitable colour (luminous orange would be good) to spell the word “HELP” for passing FedEx aeroplanes to see.

 

1. Fire

Until Daniel Defoe turns up to research a book about my adventures I will need to set light to some of the trees for the aforementioned cooking and heating.  Not sure I can take too much notice of global warming issues here.

2. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Excellent book in its own right but would also be an invaluable reference “bible” and survival guide.  Would also be a handy last resort for burning if I run out of trees.

3. Shotgun

If a plane load of kids does crash on my island I will need to shoot them before they actually get up to the stuff outlined by Mr Golding.  I will confiscate the conch as well.

4. Gabby Logan.  (Clearly number one choice but I thought it better to hide it in 4th.  After all most people will have stopped reading by now)

As a knowledgably sports presenter she would be an invaluable fireside companion to discuss important issues relating to various sports.  For example; Was Kenny Logan an overrated winger?
Yeah right – you believe that don’t you?

5. Marks and Spencers Food Hall

You don’t really think I am going to catch, kill and cook my food do you?  M&S provide an excellent choice of ready meals and a nice selection of accompanying wines.  And besides Gabby doesn’t deserve to go without…. food I mean.   M&S would also sell Neurofen and similar therefore avoiding me getting a headache.  Gabby wouldn’t want me to get a headache would she…  (and what’s the betting I get in trouble for the last couple of sentences)?

Short, sweet and finished.

 

I made wine from the lilac tree. Put my heart in its recipe

itchyscratchyblog

It makes me see what I want to see… And be what I want to be

This whole thing is actually a rather sad excuse to reference this piece of musical excellence…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT38CIgRse4

…but read on anyway!

Following a recent revelation that a combination of honey and cinnamon can cure just about anything (http://www.snopes.com/medical/homecure/honey.asp) other important research has now come to light.

Recently discovered diaries by no less an authority than Jeffery Bernard (remember him? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Bernard) have suggested that alcohol can have some very positive effects.

It can, like honey and cinnamon (allegedly), make you live longer.  A small amount af alcohol, notably red wine, apparently contains antioxidents that can benefit your heart.  Clearly this can have an opposite effect on your liver but you can’t have everything!

Do you have a bladder infection?  If so flush it out.  Alcohol is sterile so simply drink more, visit…

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