Friday, 30 August 2013

A little bit of sanity in a world gone mad?

It was somewhat refreshing to watch a little bit of sanity prevail in Parliament last night (usually a place where sanity fears to tread) with the vote by MPs against the British taking military action in Syria.
Of course, what has happened in Syria with the use of chemical weapons is diabolical and, yes, I do believe those responsible must be held to account for this atrocity. But if the use of these weapons is a transgression of international law (which we are told it is), then it is the role of the international community, as a whole, to take action, and not individual states. The means of exercising such action is through the UN Security Council.
Of course, everyone knows that if a resolution authorising the use of military force against the Syrian government is sought at the UN,  the Russians and the Chinese are likely to either veto or vote against it, which is their prerogative (though why they want to be seen to be supporting a regime that is happy to indiscriminately gas thousands of its own people is beyond me). And yes, the failure to get a resolution would probably mean that chemical weapons would be used again.
But what going through the UN would mean is that when history looks back at what has happened in Syria and sees all those dead bodies in the streets, the finger of complicity will be pointed at those members of the Security Council who decided not to support action to prevent the further use of these horrific, outlawed weapons, and not at those countries that did what they could, within the structure of international law, to put a stop to it.
What our politicians should now be doing, rather than rattling their sabres at the Syrian regime, is convincing the Russians and the Chinese that, however much they may want to keep Assad in power, the use of chemical weapons in this vicious civil war is something that they simply cannot countenance, and that they should use their influence to prevent it happening again.
Then, at some point in the future when the violence in Syria is over, work can begin to bring to justice those who ordered the use of these heinous weapons and who have the blood of so many on their hands.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Hello, did you miss me...?

I know what you're thinking - there have been so few posts in recent weeks, you're wondering if things have gone a little quiet in Andy's Universe.
Oh contraire.
It's the fact that so much has been going on in my universe that I've had so little opportunity to share it all with you fabulous people (and alien life-forms, if any happen to have taken to following my blog).
So, three short snippets today - sport, writing, and international politics.

Sport - at the risk of upsetting any blog-followers down-under, it was very satisfying to watch Michael Clarke desperately trying to convince the umpires at the Oval to go off for bad light in the full knowledge that he was just about to suffer the humiliation of becoming the first Aussie captain to lose an Ashes series 4-0...and this after the day had started with the odds of an England victory at 100-1. A definite momentum switch back to England ahead of the series in Oz, methinks.

Writing - so little time to blog because so much time spent writing and creating. Finished the first draft of 'It's A Dog's Life' and awaiting feedback from the kind souls who have offered to proof-read and critique. Personally, I think it is pretty damn good, but I would, wouldn't I. Also wrote a piece of flash fiction this week that I now need to type up and, perhaps most importantly, I think I've hit upon a really cool concept for a potential series of books - watch this space.

International politics - yes, I know that what has been going on in Syria is truly awful and, yes, I know that the use of chemical weapons is abhorrent, but I do worry when I hear William Hague suggest that the UK may take unilateral military action in Syria. Since when did we become the world's conscience? Why do we have to be the ones to take action?
No, Billy Boy, this is a job for the UN Security Council - unless there is a resolution from them (which is unlikely given the not-unreasonable Russian stance of finding out exactly who it was who used the chemical weapons in the first place, because, let's face it, either side is capable) we shouldn't be doing anything.

Hope to be able to do a bit more blogging in the days and weeks ahead - I'm sure this crazy world of ours will not be without a thing or two to comment on!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Short hair and no bling

Firstly, apologies for the way this particular post appears - because I'm working away from home, my laptop is forcing me to enter this in HTML mode which means there's no bloody formatting...which is pretty crap. So what you end up with is just a mass of text. When I get home, I'll re-publish with the formatting corrected; in the meantime, sorry! When Christine Ohurugu won her world championship 400m gold medal, she did so by just four one-thousandths of a second - that, if my maths is anything to go by, is the equivalent of just 3.2 cm, or 'an inch and a quarter' as my Dad would say. 3.2 cm, after running a distance of 400 metres; it's not a lot, is it? It actually represents a difference in performance between the two athletes of just 0.08% or, as we plain-talking folk up north would say, 'bugger all'. So, if the difference between feeling 'on-top-of-the-world' and 'like shit' can be decided by such a tiny margin, why in the name of all that is holy do so many athletes choose to: 1) run with ridiculous amounts of 'bling' about their person, and by that I mean two or three gold necklaces (with optional crucifix), several rings, dangly ear-rings, various piercings (tongue, nose, belly-button, clitoris maybe) and watches. 2) run with absolutely massive hair-styles, complete with extensions and pink feathers? What are the coaches thinking? They've spent months, no, years, fine tuning their charges through a meticulously controlled diet and a finely-tuned training regime in order to get them as lean and as honed as is physically possible...only to let them go out onto the track with the sort of extra weight they put in racehorses' saddles to handicap them, and hair-styles which would instill nightmares into anyone who has studied aerodynamics. It's insane! To work so hard and for so long to achieve something, and then to risk losing it because the bling you're wearing and the mass of hair you're carrying could reduce your performance by 0.08%...why would anyone do that? It's like sending Sebastian Vettel's car out with a couple of extra Cibie headlamps and mud-flaps - it may look cool, but it's not necessarily going to end up winning. As far as I'm concerned, it's way cooler to stand on the top-step of the podium with short hair and no bling but have a certain bit of gold hanging around your neck, than it is to be stood one step down, with flouncy hair, ear-rings, a belly-button piercing, but just a bit of silver to show for all those years of hard-work.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Tales from the Urinal...Part 2

It is still, to this day, one of the most bizarre incidents I have ever witnessed.
It took place in the men's toilets at Manchester Airport...which does sound a bit dodgy, but bear with me.
I think it was some time in the late 1990s - I may have been taking one of my fairly frequent trips to Northern Ireland, but I can't be sure.
Anyway, I had settled myself down, standing at one of the urinals, enjoying the pleasant relief of a pre-flight bladder evacuation, when I noticed that the man to my right (two urinals along) was staring vacantly at the ceiling as he too availed himself of the opportunity to relieve his own bladder before taking to the skies.
The bizarre thing was that, in staring at the ceiling, he was leaning back a little, and in leaning back, he was merrily pissing all over the floor.
After what could have been ten or twenty seconds, he finished, whereupon he gave a little shake, tucked everything away, pulled up his flies and vacated the premises, leaving behind him a pool of piss on the floor and at least three other gents staring in total disbelief at what they had just witnessed.
I am pretty convinced that the man was absolutely oblivious of the fact that he had managed a full urination without actually getting any of his urine in a urinal. He may, of course, subsequently wondered why his shoes and the bottom of his trousers were damp.
To this day, I have no idea why I didn't shout 'Whoa, man, you're pissing and missing!'
I also find myself wondering how many times this man repeated his piss-pool-creating antics before either someone more bold/less shocked than I pointed out the nastiness of what he was doing, or he himself became aware of it. If he did notice it himself, how embarrassed must he have been.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Tales from the Urinal...Part 1

I have come to the conclusion that there is no greater feeling of helplessness that can befall a man than the moment when a urinal at which he is happily having a pee decides to start its own self-flushing ritual.
As all men know, a full urine-stop mid-flow is a virtual impossibility (achieved only by a select group of Tibetan monks), and there are inherent risks in significant position changing whilst underway; so the terrible series of worries and uncertainties that inevitably follow the sudden gurgle of pipework and the subsequent sound of rushing water cannot be avoided and simply have to be endured.

The biggest fear, of course, are mini-splashes, those annoying spatterings of the crotch area with little droplets which, though individually insignificant, can amount during a a serious urinal self-flush to a large and embarrasing wet patch which suggests a serious bladder control problem. These mini-splashes can have a number of causes:
  • flushing water pressure too high
  • interaction of the flush-water with an excess of those yellow toilet blocks that smell okay for a day or two but after a week smell only of concentrated piss
  • incorrect flush-water entry angle resulting in flush-water not being contained by the urinal design
all of which are outside the pee-ing man's control, and all the more worrying for that.

There is also the subsequent concern about urinal over-flow, when the raging torrent that is the self-flush simply overwhelms the urinal drainage system (because it's blocked by an unsightly mass of discarded cigarette ends, chewing gum and pubic hairs) and ends up gushing all over the floor and splashing up on shoes and trouser bottoms (again suggesting the individual has either bladder control problems or poor aiming capabilities).

It has, of course, long been suspected that urinal self-flushing systems are now being specifically designed to start operating exactly nine seconds after a man has stood in front of the urinal, in just the same way that the urinals themselves are being designed to maximise urine splash-back, all part of a world-wide plot by the manufacturers of black dye to instil in all men an inherent mistrust of any sort of light-coloured trouser material (especially light grey).

Monday, 5 August 2013

Look, it's my opinion...part 4

I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to blog about this week - maybe something topical such as the ongoing row in Gibraltar, maybe my thoughts on the naming of Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor Who (which I think is fantastic), or perhaps a general comment about how annoying my laptop keyboard is becoming because the spacebarisn'tworkingproperly.

But yesterday evening, Fate decided to hand me my next blog subject matter on the proverbial platter in the shape of my old friend, Mr Unhappy Bunny.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Mr Unhappy Bunny, I'd like to point you in the direction of my blog post of Saturday 6th April 2013, entitled 'Look, it's my opinion, not yours!' and its sequel on Monday 8th April, entitled 'Look, it's my opinion...part 2', and its sequel-sequel on Wednesday 10th April, entitled...well, I think you can work out the title for yourself.
It appears that Mr Unhappy Bunny, formerly known as OnlyLive0nce (and, as I mentioned in a previous post, that's not a typo, he really has used the number zero instead of a capital letter 'O' in his 'handle'), now known as Traveller3333333, forever known as 'moronic twat', has, for reasons known only to himself, sent me a message through TripAdvisor's now completely discredited private messaging mechanism to tell me:
See the latest review about that hole.
The woman is a complete idiot and terrible for business and the house is a tiny hovel, not a guest house.
I did say you were barmy to give it so many stars.
You need to get out more often, quite obviously....

In case you were wondering, he was referring to the Dee-Em B&B on Mull...again.

Now, I'm not sure where to start with this guy.
Firstly, it is evident that, after my last complaint to TripAdvisor, he has had to change his 'handle' what kind of fucking idiot, having done all that, then goes and sends an aggressive message to someone he's hassled before when it's obvious it's going to result in him having to go through the whole process of setting up a new account...again - what a dick!
Secondly, I have to admit that I'd completely forgotten both about him and his comments - nice to know that I myself have stayed so much at the forefront of his thoughts!
Thirdly, with regard to the comment of me needing to get out more often, I think I can rest my case on the fact that he's the one checking up on reviews of Dee-Em (okay mate, it was a bad holiday, but you need to move on!) and then sending out hate-messages when he sees a bad one.

Needless to say, I've put a block on this (and every other) tit with regards to my TripAdvisor messaging but, in truth, I have to admit that I'm sorely tempted to just pull the plug on my TripAdvisor account altogether.
Yes, I know, that would seems like I'm letting this knob get the better of me and maybe I am, but in all honesty, if I'm going to spend my time arguing with someone over the internet, I'd prefer to do it with someone who is not an utter turd and is capable of rational thought, and odo it ver something that is a lot more important than the rating of a B&B on Mull.

Of course,that would leave me with one less thing to blog about...