How to annoy lots of people

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I am reposting this this again  for the simple reason that the subject infuriates me. Women can’t have it both ways. They cannot be concerned, quite correctly, about female sexualisation, then do the same the other way round. It’s not right. It just is not right.

Any women out there who disagree? I look forward to your comments. I really do look forward to them. I’ll take you on. Believe me, I’ll take you on. You have a fight on your hands.

 

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That thunder of hooves you can hear is my high horse at full gallop. I am, as my friend Audra would put it, cranky. That’s a drastic understatement. I’m close to being incensed. No, I am incensed. This is one of my very rare serious posts and I am seethingly angry.

Here we go. ‘Real women have curves.’ This is a familiar saying to anybody who spends any time on the internet, and especially on Facebook. It’s supposed to be a rallying cry, women speaking out about societal perceptions of female beauty. Real women have curves. It’s a feminist article of faith.

Well, I’m sorry, it’s not feminist. It’s deeply, profoundly anti-feminist, and here’s why. The women who say this are wilfully ignoring or decrying any of the sisterhood who are not curvy. What this mantra says is that if you don’t have a bosom, and a waist, and a rounded stomach, and a proper arse, and critically if your thighs don’t touch, you’re not a real woman. The proponents of this theory might just as well yell, ‘Hey Titless! I’ve seen bigger currants on a breadboard!’ It’s like being back in secondary school.

It’s a blatant and very hurtful insult to those who are naturally slim or skinny. Not the anorexic Skeletorettes who live on coke and lettuce leaves, but the naturally non-curvy. I went out with a girl once who was 5’8” and weighed 100 lbs soaking wet. She made Olive Oyl look like a Botticelli. She had stick thin legs, thin arms, narrow hips, a 32A bust. Not at all curvy. I thought she was very sexy indeed. At the other end of the spectrum, I had a six-year relationship with a woman who was clinically obese. She didn’t just have curves, she had curves on her curves. I thought she was sexy too.

The odd thing is that while women are banging on about sexual stereotyping of the females of the population, they think nothing at all of perpetuating male sexual stereotypes. The internet is thronged with images of men that these feminist urban warriors have posted. Every single one of these men has magnificent pecs and deltoids and biceps, you can count their ribs, they have a six pack for abs, sturdy thighs, shapely calves. They typically appear wearing nothing but a cowboy hat and Calvin Klein underwear with a pair of socks stuffed down the front. They have no body hair (some designer stubble on the face is, however, curiously de rigueur), and have clearly just had a rubdown with baby oil.

So are these Adonises with Photoshopped perfect musculature, a back-sack-and-crack job, and a fondness for baby products real men? No. They’re fantasy figures, in the same way that the Page 3 girls and Victoria’s Secret catwalk models are fantasies.

‘It’s just a bit of fun.’ Really? Is it? Are the Chippendales just ‘a bit of fun?’ How come female strippers or pole dancers aren’t ‘just a bit of fun’ then? I don’t find them at all fun, but using this twisted pseudo-feminist logic it would be OK if I did. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander, as they say.

Women quite rightly object to the manipulated stereotyping of what is beautiful or attractive as regards their own sex. I’m with them all the way on this one. But the whole ‘real women have curves’ thing is just another way of stereotyping, isn’t it? It excludes non-curvy women, and in this way is even more of an insult because it’s women insulting other women. At the same time these selfsame curvy women feel absolutely at ease with perpetuating a male sexual stereotype of perfection. That’s not logical, and it’s an insult to both sexes.

There. I’m glad I got that off my (slightly hairy) chest.

And our survey said…

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You know me. I love a good survey. Unfortunately there aren’t many around, so once again I’ll have to consider a bad one, and once again I find myself in debt to the Daily Express, the swivel eyed loony man’s National Enquirer.

This particular survey was carried out on behalf of Ronseal. They produce wood preservative products, and this side of the Pond at least are widely and absolutely rightfully respected for a phrase that has entered the lexicon. ‘It does what it says on the tin’ is now common parlance, and I for one welcome this newcomer. No jumped up arriviste, it’s a very expressive term for no nonsense straightforwardness, a much better construction then WYSIWYG.

Six out of ten men do not read the instructions before using a new product. Let’s think about this. The survey is for Ronseal, and their products are really glorified paint. Blokes know what to do with paint. If it’s not non-drip (or thixotropic as we scientists call it,) you stir it, and brush it on. It is not, as they say, bloody rocket science, now is it?

A ‘massive’ 30% of men will not read instructions that are too lengthy. I’m dubious about that figure. Yes, you buy an iPad or some other piece of gadgetry the size of a deck of cards, and the instruction manual is the size of a Stephen King novel, you may not read it all the way through. You find out by trial and error how to make it do what you need, and ignore the other 99% of its capabilities as superfluous, a bit like Microsoft Office. Another, or perhaps the same 30%, don’t read instructions with no pictures. Apparently DIYers are troglodytes, or at least you could conclude that. My conclusion is, ‘For f***s sake! I stick a brush in and slap it on. It’s only a shed! Who the hell cares?’ Maybe it’s just me. Really, all I need to know is whether I have to clean the brush with water or with white spirit. Actually I don’t need to know that either. Chuck it away when the job’s done, and buy new. You know it makes sense.

Now we get a bit metaphysical. Allegedly, 61% of men feel ‘unmanly’ if they’re lost and have to ask for directions. That’s a pleasingly accurate figure, is it not? Sixty one  percent. Not 60, or 65, which look as if you’ve massaged the figures; 61%.

‘Feeling unmanly’ seems to me to be a rather extreme reaction. Also it’s not clear to me if that’s a subset of the remarkably precise 60% who don’t read instructions. But the only reason men will not ask for directions is because they don’t want to end up on a murder rap for killing a complete stranger, and they are murderously inclined because their girlfriend or wife (or both, depending on how freewheeling the relationship is) cannot read a map if you’re going south without turning the bloody thing upside down. Women do not have the faintest idea how infuriating that is to men.

Now a true revelation. Men lie about DIY; 72% (pleasingly precise again) have paid a professional to do a job, and then claimed they did it themselves. Boohoo! Liar liar pants on fire!

A spokeswoman meandered on about how the urban myth of men ignoring instructions ‘…is now fact.’ No, it’s not. We know this survey is badly flawed because over 70% of the panel are pathological liars, and those are just the ones who owned up. That level of fibbing must skew your results a bit, surely?

PS Remind me at some time to explain the difference, in scientific terms, between ‘precise’ and ‘accurate.’

How to live longer

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I’m a bit lazy today, not least because I cranked out about 7500 words yesterday on various projects I’m working on, so this isn’t a new piece. It’s one I found in the B Warehouse. If you don’t understand what the B Warehouse is, read to the end and you’ll find out.

Once again I am indebted to the work of the august journal the Daily Express for some invaluable advice.

‘Scientists’ have ‘recently’ discovered five simple lifestyle changes that will control hypertension with no recourse to drug intervention. Allegedly these changes can add several years to your life. Now I’m a pensioner I’m troubled by feelings of mortality, so I read the article with great interest.

Here’s what you need to do. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. Cut down on your salt intake. Exercise regularly. Eat lots of vegetables and fruit. Wow! Groundbreaking stuff! Whoever would have thought it? I mean to say, I started working in the pharmaceutical industry in the mid 70s, and all these factors in hypertension were known then. Nearly 40 years on ‘scientists’ have ‘recently’ discovered them all over again. Blimey. It must be true.

There’s a catch though. As ever the Excess confuses epidemiology with the health of you as a specific individual. There is absolutely no guarantee that however healthy you make your lifestyle you will live longer. A population following this ‘new’ advice will certainly have a higher average life expectancy, but it may not work for you as a person. Harsh but sadly true. It may be that time’s winged chariot flies a bit faster for you no matter what you do. It might be worth a shot of course, and good luck to you if you give it a whirl, but you may actually be on a hiding to nothing.

It’s not all bad news though. According to another article in the same paper, eating oily fish twice a week is good for you. That came as no end of a surprise to me, I can tell you. Never heard that before. But the jugheads at the Excess go further and actually quantify things. Eat oily fish and your life expectancy goes up by two whole years! Caramba! Fat City!

Except it doesn’t, of course. It’s epidemiology vs individual again. So it may be good for you, and I have no issue with that, except you can die of boredom instead of heart disease or cancer or pestilence. But you as an individual cannot expect to live two years longer than you would have. Sorry about that.

Nearly forgot. B Warehouse. This is slang for the back pocket where you keep your emergency tenner for when you run out of cash in the pub. In this case, I’ve used it to describe the mountain of unposted blogs I have in a file called Pending. But B Warehouse is a bit more fun, isn’t it?

Gardening for Beginners

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I’ve had this as a post for yonks now, but it went up pretty early on in my blogging career, so I think probably not many people saw it. With the advent of some weather that at least suggests Spring may be on its belated way, I thought I’d dust it off.

Do you have grey fingers? Can’t tell your aster from a hole in the ground? Reflecting the current attitude that gardening is the new rock and roll, this tells you all you need to know.

Gardening Term What It Really Means

Agent Orange

The gardener’s friend. Except it doesn’t work on weeds only on flowers.

Annual

Plant equivalent of the disposable lighter. Chuck it away when it’s finished (ie as soon as you get it back from the garden centre.)

Cat

Domestic animal that is the only one known to be able to dig in a flowerbed without the use of heavy equipment.

Cat trap

See Ponds.

Compost

Evil smelling brown sludge in the bottom of the binbag full of grass cuttings you forgot to take to the tip and left in the garage over winter.

Failure to thrive

Common condition found in flowers  bought from the garden centre, but rare in weeds.

First cut

Early Spring ritual where the lawnmower is used to scarify the lawn.

Flower

Something you do want to grow in your garden, but it doesn’t. Also any plant that is attractive to slugsvine weevilsgreenfly. See Weed.

Flowerbed

Strip of barren earth resembling the dustbowl conditions in the American Midwest in the 1930s. Except there’s a lot more grass. Turns to mud after minimal rainfall.

Garden centre

Commercial concern where hapless gardeners are taken for every penny they have. All legal, surprisingly.

Gazebo

Strange quadruped born after a foggy night on the plains of Africa.

Grass

Any narrowleaf plant of the family Gramineae that will grow profusely in a flowerbed but not on a lawn

Greenfly

Whoever named them had clearly never seen how non-ecofriendly they are. Insect equivalent of Agent Orange.

Grey fingers

The opposite of green fingers. Uncanny ability to kill perfectly healthy flowers simply by being in the same postal district.

Grow bag

All the dead stuff you threw away last year, conveniently repackaged and sold back to you at nearly the cost of the original plants that died on you.

Hardy

Takes two weeks to die. See Tender.

Impatiens

Also known as a busy lizzie, ideal for shady wet areas, where it forms a dense low growing carpet of rotting vegetation.

Ivy

Creeping, fast growing, evergreen broadleaf plant your neighbour feels makes his house look rustic, but which is loosening your ridge tiles.

Lawn

              I.      A area of smooth, baize-like grass used to break up flowerbeds.

           II.      A wafer thin veneer of sickly turf, barely covering the builder’s rubble.

         III.      Ant haven.

Lawn rake

Device for dragging dead leaves and most of the grass out of your lawn. Much like a low tech lawnmower.

Lawnmower

Device for digging long parallel grooves in your lawn. Also good for taking the tops off ants’ nests.

Perennial

Plant that dies back in the autumn and would grow again next year if you hadn’t forgotten it was there and dug it up by accident. See Annual.

Ponds

Haven for all manner of wildlife, all of which are predators for the 500 quid koi carp you bought last week. Also a haven for all sorts of wild plants, which will choke off your lilies. Also known as a cat trap.

Sand

Used to help break up soil in a flowerbed, making the life of the cat easier.

Slug pellets

Gourmet feast for slugs. They will come from miles away simply to gorge themselves before tackling your prized hostas for afters.

Slug traps

Sunken jars full of beer into which slugs fall and drown. Slugs, being the gourmets that they are, can be a bit picky about their booze, and prefer premium lager to the Tesco own label bitter most gardeners use. When full, the contents of a slug trap can be simply disposed of over your neighbour’s wall, though this is an unpleasant task.

Slugs

Molluscan equivalent of a mugger. Takes everything, then comes back next day to see if you have anything else of worth. Vile. Carry a pair of scissors at all times, and be ruthless. Salt’s good too, though it will poison what little decent soil you have. A blowtorch works, but may not be for the squeamish.

Tender

Dies in the car on the way home from the garden centre

Thinning out

Removal of healthy plants so that predators can get at the remaining sickly ones more easily.

Tilth

Fine, easily draining, fertile soil not found in Essex except up at the Big House.

Turf

Strips of grass that are a handy size to be rolled up for ease of removal when they die back.

Vine weevil

Insect larvae that attack the roots of flowers but not those of weeds. They operate an Equal Opportunities policy that allows them to eat anything except vines, eg the violas in my garden.

Weed

Something you don’t want to grow in your garden, but it does anyway. Distinguished from a flower by being impossible to uproot, and resistant to all known garden pests. And to all known weedkillers.

Weedkiller

Something that doesn’t kill weeds, but inflicts horrible damage on flowers with even the slightest spray drift.

Wilted greens

A cookery term that has been appropriated by gardeners the world over. Used to describe flowers after a prolonged period of drought.

How to drive a van. Part deux

I neglected to mention something in my earlier post about the astonishingly talented driver Sabine Schmidt heaving a diesel Transit around the Nurburgring.

The Transit has the aerodynamics of a housebrick, so the producers sent a pace car out to make a bit of a hole in the air to speed things up slightly. They, in their wisdom, decided to use something that would really intimidate the other traffic and get it out of the way, giving Sabine a clear run at things.

They came up with the idea of using a Dodge Viper, an utterly inspired choice. This is one of the most savage roadcars ever built. Even in the maddest days of the 60s Detroit musclecars, nobody would have had the cojones to invent this one. It has a whopping 8.2 litre V10 engine borrowed from a truck. It’s like a Chevrolet Corvette on steroids, and cranked up on angel dust. The Viper is  the scariest car on earth. Even the Top Gear staffers are fearful of it, and they have driven some pretty rowdy cars in their time. No other performance car fights back as viciously as a Viper. It really is a handful. A jet-powered pig on rollerskates. It sure scared the other traffic into moving over in terror at the bellowing behemoth in the mirrors.

Then Sabine came up behind it in a garden shed with 123 diesel powered bhp, screaming into the two way radio ‘Go! Go! Go! Go! Get on with it!

My heart was in my mouth. Fabulous viewing

 

Oi! Stop that! It’s cheating!

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Papers such as the Daily Express and Daily Mail do this all the time. They do. Unfortunately all the media do it. Even respectable papers do it, the broadcast media do it, even that bastion of careful reporting, the BBC, does it. They all cheat.

It’s not simply a question of editorial stance. That simply skews the interpretation of the facts, and we all sort of expect that and factor it in. What I’m talking about is deliberate misrepresentation of data. You’re exposed to this on a daily basis, and unless you’re a scientist you won’t bat an eyelid about it. Even if you are, you may miss it if you’re a bit lackadaisical.

I can hear the groans. Just what is the idiot savant on about now? I’ll tell you. It’s a crime that in scientific circles is much despised and vilified. It’s called suppression of the zero. You are a victim of this crime every single day of your life, and you probably don’t even notice. I do notice, and it infuriates me.

Suppose you want to draw a simple graph that shows how something changes with, say, time or distance or some other variable. You make the y  axis, the vertical one, show the value you’re interested in, and the x axis, the horizontal one, show the changes you’re subjecting the y value to. You’ve all plotted a graph I’m sure. You know how it works.

To make things as accurate as possible, and to show trends that are easily interpreted, you make both axes as big as the graph paper will allow. That’s obvious, no? The bigger the visual variation the better. Plus it means you don’t have to fret about the way a blunt pencil will obscure something subtle that a sharp pencil might reveal.

Something else you do, if you have any scientific integrity, is have the point where the two axes intersect the zero point for both values. It’s not hard to do this. If you do it properly, then you get a really accurate picture of what’s going on. With me so far? Goodoh.

The media are heroically inept at this. Probably nowhere is this better illustrated than in the way they report changes in stock market values. Anybody got stocks and shares? Ever been really spooked by the frightening looking graphs when some catastrophe wipes the value out of the stock market? Well just calm down, dear.

Say the Dow or FT indices are at 10,000 at the start of trading. There’s a natural disaster somewhere, and the stock market loses 3%. I’ll come onto this phenomenon in another post, but for the time being you’ll all have heard this sort of thing reported.

Now 3% isn’t that big, is it? It’s a bit ‘Ooops. Oh well. Ho hum.’ In the cosmic scheme of things it’s a blip, or what we call background variation. If you thought you had a quid in change in your pocket, did a recount and found you only had 97p, you wouldn’t lose any sleep would you?

Now if you’re the media you want to make this mere bagatelle look a big deal. To do this you draw a graph, and you do not, under any circumstances, start the y axis at zero. You start it at, let’s say, 9950. This is a despicable practice, the suppression of the zero, and in right thinking circles is likely to get you burned at the stake. Because now a tiny change in absolute value looks horrifically big. Zoot alors! That’s bad! Get the troops ready for rioting in the streets.

It’s not as bad as the media would have you believe, and if you doubt me, take a few minutes and run the experiment of plotting a graph of stock market values over a few days, and don’t suppress the zero on the y  axis. Plot the absolute values. However big you make the scale, the day to day variations will be miniscule. Tiny. The thickness of a pencil line. Nowhere near the vicious peaks and troughs that you see every day in the media. At the same time, plot another graph with the percentage changes on the y axis. Be good boys and girls and make that axis as long as the paper allows, and have the bottom value as 0%. It doesn’t look too dramatic then, either, now does it?

You may think this is not important, that suppressing the zero is no cardinal sin. Oh really? Well it will be when your pension fund disappears for no good reason, but simply because some bloke in braces and a stripy shirt spends all his working life looking at misrepresented data. It’s your future they’re buggering about with.

How to drive a van

Some time ago, on Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson attempted to get round the infamous Nurburgring race circuit in under 10 minutes, driving a diesel powered car. Diesels, as you may or may not know, do not really lend themselves to racing, despite Audi’s astonishing successes in endurance GT racing using diesels.

Anyway, he was aided and abetted in his efforts by a rather attractive young woman, one Sabine Schmidt. She was born in Nurburg, went round the 12 and a bit mile track for the first time when she three years old, and having got 15,000 laps under her belt is an instructor who clearly knows what she’s doing. Clarkson did manage a sub-10 minute lap, albeit a 9:59. Then Sabine climbed behind the wheel and straight out of the hat, in a strange car, got round in 9:47, no mean feat. But she was relentless in her mockery. ‘9:59? I can drive a van round faster than that!’

Top Gear being Top Gear, they decided to take her up on the idea, and got her behind the wheel of the van world’s workhorse, a Ford Transit. This is the world’s biggest selling light goods vehicle. I’ve driven loads of them in my time, and I can tell you they are not the quickest road vehicles ever built. Well, not unless you’re Sabine Schmidt…

If I owned a Porsche and got overtaken by something the size of a small house, with a deceptively diminutive young woman getting round me on the inside while opposite locking with only three wheels on the ground, I might just wonder if I’d made a wise investment. I’d be popping down my local Ford dealership and part exing my 911 for a decent second hand Trannie. The insurance would be such a lot less.

She managed a 10:08. 10:08. A mere nine seconds slower than Jezzer had managed after two days of practice in a Jaguar.

It was hysterically funny. And lordie lordie lordie. That woman drives as if fleeing the very hounds of hell.

How not to get killed by an alien

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I have been less than assiduous about posting daily, as I have always undertaken to do. There are good reasons for this, but I’ll not bore you. Anyway, I’ve resurrected this from this very date last year.

There are two types of alien that you may encounter. The first type is the cute alien. You don’t need to worry about these. Think Batteries Not Included. They were cute. Yoda was cute. The ultimate cutie was ET of course. Who couldn’t love that little guy?

On the other hand, any slavering H R Geiger creation with multiple mandibles, razor sharp limbs, and molecular acid for blood is not likely to be majoring in humanities. They’re good parents though. They love their children. They’ll do anything to stop you turning a flamethrower on the brood.

I’ve been chased by one of those suckers, and I can assure you it’s very very frightening indeed. I aged about 10 years in as many minutes.

Some years ago the basement of the Trocadero in London was home to a something called The Alien Experience. They got a load of bits of set and props from the films, and set up a faux scientific research facility, which you could take a tour of. They even got Sigourney Weaver to open it. Sadly, I missed that, which is probably all to the good. I might well have been arrested.

It all sounds a bit naff, but a mate of mine and I decided to check it out. It was rather well done, to be honest. Dim lighting, labyrinthine corridors, alien eggs behind glass. When one of the alien grubs hurled itself at a window, the entire tour party simultaneously jumped about six feet. It was genuinely scary.

Of course then it all went wrong, very badly. An alien escaped. So our accompanying Marine had the task of getting us out safely. He looked well hard, all Kevlar and carbine, so the odds looked, if not good, at least acceptable. There was still hardly any light, just a lot of dry ice smoke and flashing warning beacons. Extremely loud warning klaxons, which were very disorientating. Frightened and confused is not a good combination when you’ve gone to all the trouble of suspending disbelief for a few minutes. At a rational level you know it’s all a game, but at a visceral level it’s a whole different kettle of fish, believe me.

So we’re all scuttling along, scared out of our wits, and we got even more scared when another Marine ran round a corner. Then he disappeared just as suddenly as he was snatched into a side corridor by a man in a fibreglass suit. We now had screams and crunching noises to contend with, and earbleeding automatic gunfire from the strobing carbine of our guide and protector. I actually froze. I did. I was incapable of movement till I got dragged by someone.

We all legged it with our tame Marine blasting away and covering our retreat. That was the point where the ceiling collapsed and another alien dangled down clutching at us. Jeez. Run like the devil’s after you!

Eventually we all ended up in an elevator, and we just managed to get the doors shut before the scary man in the fibreglass suit got us. I’m not kidding, the fear was palpable. We were terrified. By a man in a fibreglass suit. Yes, I know. It wasn’t at all logical, but it was a cause for adrenalin shock. Bladder control was something we could only hope to retain.

Then just as we all learned to breathe again, a colossal banging on the doors, which bent under the impact of something big and annoyed. The doors got prised apart by a pair of very dangerous looking arms, and some hapless soul on the tour got snatched away, and was least seen being carried off down the corridor screaming her head off.

We all piled out into the safety of the Trocadero’s basement again. It sounds silly when I write it down, but it was genuinely frightening. My mate Frank is a Frieslander and stands about 6’7”, 250 lbs of solid Dutchman, and he was shaking like a leaf.

So if you want not to be killed by an alien, make sure you’ve got a trigger happy Marine on your side. Or change your name to Ellen Ripley, or miraculously transform yourself into a little girl called Newt and don’t drop your doll’s head.

How to be reincarnated as a Portuguese man’o’war

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I’ve written some odd stuff in my time. But reincarnation as a jellyfish?

*****

Here are some more guidance notes for the urban warriors among you.

It may never have occurred to you that this might be a worthwhile aim in your current life. You may feel your karma doesn’t qualify you for this unlikely turn of events. You may well be right, because it’s going to take a bit of organisation before it can happen.

For one thing, you’re going to need three like-minded friends, and reach a pre-mortem agreement with them. Here’s why. A Portuguese man’o’war is a jellyfish, correct? ‘Quack Quack, WRONG.’ You just missed tonight’s star prize. It’s not a jelly, and it’s not a fish either. Bewilderingly, it’s not strictly even an it at all. It’s a them.

Yessirreebob, them. Because a PMOW is a symbiotic colony of no fewer than four different types of polyp. Strange but true. So you and your three mates had better have a serious talk before things can work out. Define a few job roles, and stick to them. My own choice is to go for the fourth functional role, but really it’s up to you.

One of you has to agree to become the flotation body/sail. It’s an important bit of the teamwork, this. You’ll be keeping the whole shooting match afloat, as it were. Without you, we’re all doomed to sink into the depths, and die a miserable and ignominious death. This would be a shame when you’ve just gone to all the trouble of being reincarnated. Pick someone you really trust for this job.

You’re going to need a psychopath for the next job. A true nutter. I’ve a couple of mates in the Boar’s Head I can suggest if you run out of inspiration. You need a real yobbo here. Because they’re going to have to relish the idea of forming tentacles up to 30’ long, and capable of killing unwary scuba divers by stinging them through a wetsuit. My mate R would probably be a good person to have onside here.

So you’re afloat, and lethal, and pretty well cooking with gas. Your next recruit needs to be a hog, a real gutbucket. Because when Mr Tentacles has killed something, and manoeuvred it up to the base of your friend Mr Flotation Body, a polypy Mr Gutbucket has the vital role of digesting the corpse and making sure you all get fed. It’s not a bad job, if you think about it. Wake up of a morning, eat all day, and go back to sleep. Polyp heaven if you’re a bit of a trencherman. As long as you like sashimi, you’re quids in. Maybe even squids in.

Myself, I’m going for the fourth role in the team. Oh yes, I’m going to be the quarterback on the side. All I have to do all day is have sex. ReproMan, that’s me. A sex god. All my energy is going into making gametes, which in turn will make more Portuguese men’o’war. Huh get on up, get on up, like a sex machine. I could do that.

BTW, has it ever occurred to you that the way we spell the word wrong is, well, wrong? Just a thought.

Also BTW, I’m indebted to another blogger, whose name escapes me I’m afraid, for reminding me of the science behind this. If the science is dodgy, it’s my fault, not hers.

How not to be killed by pirates

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How not to be killed by pirates? The best way is to avoid them. If you have a 150′ gin palace, it’s probably wise not to go for a leisure cruise off Somalia, or in the Straits of Malacca, or certain bits of the Caribbean. That way you won’t meet any pirates, and the chances of getting killed by them are reduced to zero.

But you may have a bit of a devil-may-care attitude, and decide to risk an encounter, in which case you need to know how to cope. Now to run into some pirates, you’re going to need a boat. Something substantial; these are deep and dangerous waters you’re going to be sailing. If you don’t have and can’t afford a boat of your own, you’re going to have to steal one, I’m afraid. Yes, you’re going to have to suffer for your art.

I am not advocating stealing boats as a practice, but as a fully qualified urban warrior, you’ll be aware that all property is theft, so really it doesn’t matter if you steal it back, does it? Now as it happens I do know someone who has stolen a 40’ yacht. Bloody hell this is a top story. As far as I am aware, it is bona fide. If the person who told me this reads my blog, and I have got some details wrong, I do apologise. You can get a bit stroppy about this stuff, I know, and I was having trouble concentrating between laughing hysterically and saying ‘You did what?’

An acquaintance of mine was travelling in Indonesia with a partner. They discovered that a certain someone else had been arrested and extradited to his native Australia on some pretty serious charges that, if he were found guilty, would lead to a lengthy jail sentence. As it was he was in chokey pending trial. A pleasingly surreal aspect is that he was originally Austrian. Maybe it’s just me. That can happen.

Anyway, as you do, they decided to steal the boat he owned. I can see how that thought process could happen. I can. It might seem a very good idea indeed after some beers and a few tokes. I myself have always stopped with unattended supermarket trolleys, but it’s just a matter of degree if you think about it.

They did a really professional job on things. They paid good money to a local forger to fake a signature on a deed of transfer. It all looked very legal indeed, and since the real owner was in clink in Oz, it looked pretty foolproof.

One thing they had not factored in was that the boat was under scrutiny for drug running. That was highly negligent. Indonesian authorities do not take kindly to drugs. They’d barely cleared the harbour before they were surrounded by gunboats laden with a lot of men with powerful weaponry, bad attitudes, and short fuses. They got boarded, arrested, taken back to port, and thrown in the slammer. An Indonesian slammer. Not good. Not when your passport has been seized.

Now things get truly bizarre. The staff from the British Embassy turned up trumps. You may be unaware of this, but if you think you have a British passport, you don’t. You may have it in your possession, but it actually belongs to the Queen. It does, really. Read the small print. If it gets seized, then strictly whoever seizes it is stealing from the Crown. Neat eh? It worked as a ruse, and after some lengthy prevarication, including an eight hour wait in a corridor with no chairs, and still dressed only in swimming costumes, they were released. Hot damn.

Erm, no. They got back to ‘their’ boat to find it still swarming with cops and a party of people from the United Nations for some unclear reason. By the end of the day they’d removed some very dodgy DVDs, a couple of guns, you know, all the things you expect to find on a boat that you’ve technically stolen.

Free at last, the couple sailed off into the sunset. How idyllic. Until the engine threw a bearing in the middle of nowhere. They hailed a passing fishing boat, which came to their aid but rather cackhandedly rammed them when manoeuvring, and sustained some quite considerable damage. When they got towed back to port, not their home port I might add, they had to fork out a lot of money for the damage to the fishing boat/pirate’s vessel to be repaired. It could have been a lot worse. The captain of the fishing boat could have demanded ‘their’ boat as salvage. In maritime law this is completely legitimate. If somebody throws you a line and you catch it, technically your vessel has been salvaged and belongs to the salvager. Most folks pass this one up, but bear it in mind.

Of course, seeing as how it wasn’t their boat at all, they moored up, headed to the airport, and got the first flight they could to somewhere else. Anywhere else.

So if you don’t want to be killed by pirates, go to Ayia Napa, or Ibiza. Frinton maybe.

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