Thursday, November 29, 2007

Double Take

In response to Monday's grumblings, one of my dear readers who remains "Anonymous" said...

I want to congratulate the Grumbler on his forthcoming TV comeback . It's been a long wait. So, are Dave and Freema as nice as they appear on TV?

So, this left me wondering - are they likening my Alchemistic-Ape-Altering device to the humanoid cloning experiment conducted by General Sontar resulting in the fearsome race of Sontarans, or is this a weak attempt by someone who knows me to liken my own handsome self to a "Doctor Who" monster, hmmm?

Well, I'll leave it to a 'Private Eye' style lookalike picture for you to judge for yourselves...

Monday, November 26, 2007

The right ape for the job?

On occasion during my illustrious[1] career, I have been called upon to recruit personnel into some reasonably specialised positions. Of course, despite many promises to the contrary, this hasn't happened for quite a while at my current employers. That's a mixed blessing, as it happens, because on the one hand an ever increasing workload has to be handled by a tiny band of put-upon 'martyrs', but on the other we are saved the soul-destroying[2] task of looking for something which doesn't exist - namely the right man or woman for the job. Invariably, we have had to take on someone who has the potential to do what we need, without necessarily having the knowledge - then we mould (or crush, if need be) them to fit our inscrutable purpose.

In the UK at the moment are three obvious situations where we simply aren't going to find the right (wo)man.
  • Leader of the Liberal Democrat party. Currently a fight between a couple of guys, both keen for the job. In fact, its a pretty meaningless activity, since whichever of them actually gets in will lead a party which stands no chance of getting into government within the foreseeable future.

  • Manager of the England football team. OK, I don't know a lot about football, but understand that we set fire to the last guy for failing to get us into something called Euro 2008 (approximately $2,979 at today's rates, not much of a prize, is it?). Our football team seems to fail to get into a lot of things, and when it does get in, it certainly doesn't win. There's no reason to suppose that the individual (would be nice to see a lady in this role, make a change anyway) who can achieve success here exists either.

  • Owner of the Northern Rock Bank. This lot are in a bit of a state as a result of the recent 'credit crunch'. Bit of a shame since they weren't directly responsible for anyone moving out of a trailer-park, but that's life. Anyway, they owe the UK taxpayer about £24 billion pounds (a bit more than $2,979 at today's rates) in loans made to bail them out. It seems unlikely, even if a certain well known bearded billionaire manages to buy them (why does he need an international airline since he can clearly walk on water?), that the taxpayer will see this sum repaid in full.

Bleak Huh? Well, I have the solution. A fanfare, please, for Dr Grumbler's Patent Alchemistic-Ape-Altering device. Guaranteed[3] to convert any simian subject into a solid-gold 'right man for the job' (or woman, obviously, depending on the the subject ape - gender reassignment is not an option on this model). Simply follow the easy to read instructions (translated directly from the original Japanese, and then into Swedish for that authentic high-tech flat-pack feel) to program in the desired results, pull the big lever on the right, and then... [4]

[1] meaning: without lustre
[2] yes, Ive still got one. I keep it in the freezer in case I ever need it again
[3] guarantee underwritten by International Reckless Sub-prime Lenders incorporated
[4] monkey not included

Thursday, November 22, 2007

An Infectious Beat

I was chatting with my mate Pete the Podcaster the other day when he mentioned that one of our mutual friends had paid him a complement by describing his podcast as 'infectious'.

Now, he's a modest bloke, is our Pete, but the podcast is dear to his heart and he spent the day with a warm and comfortable glow about him, imagining our mate Richard tapping his feet, drumming his fingers on his desk, humming tunelessly and generally pissing off anyone within 50 feet of him in the office. "This," he doubtless thought to himself, "is what I do it for." So, as he admitted to me, it had rather wounded him when the chap in question informed him that he didn't mean he'd been indulging in a bit of "creative commons karaoke", he meant that the podcast had given him the flu.

Braver readers of this blog who, undaunted by its content, have taken a look at the recommended links to the right and treated their ears to either of the podcasts run by the Codger and the Kid will know that both of these individuals have had colds over the past few weeks.

I've been listening to both of them, and I've had an absolute bugger of a cold. So what if there's a grain of truth to this suggestion that you can catch something from a podcast? This is a little worrying.

So, partly because Ive had nothing better to do for the last half hour, partly because it was a fascinating quest, and partly (more about this later) to provide a spot of audience participation, Ive searched for some genuine podcasts, available for subscriptions through the itunes podcast directory which might possibly leave you with more than you bargained for. So, if you believe this kind of rubbish, and value your health, may I suggest that you think twice before listening to:

  • News Pox

  • Radio Rabies

  • Ebolaworld

Now the audience participation bit - There are painstakingly accurate drawings of the viruses responsible for the cold, rabies, ebola and pox on to days post. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify which is which...

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to say, If you havent listened to either PCPodcast or Suffolk'n'Cool yet, why not give them a go. As far as Im aware, at time of writing you'll end up with nothing worse than a hangover or a mild case of athlete's foot. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Kitchen Devils

Every morning in our household, Mrs Grumbler and I play out what has come to be an essential ritual. It's called "who's going to make the tea?". Now it's an interesting fact about my good lady that, on waking up, her need for a cup of tea is almost exquisitely balanced by her desire to stay in bed for as long as possible. It happens that if I wait long enough, she'll usually get up and make it. However, in fairness, I aim to make the tea at least half the time and, in laziness, she aims to have me make it the other half as well.

Of course, in the balmy days of summer this isn't so much of a hardship. The kitchen is full of golden morning light, the birds are singing, and the dog is breaking his neck to be let out in order to piddle over the flowers. In the icy grey days of winter, though, it's a different story. It's still dark when we wake up and, however early I set the heating to come on, I always feel cold standing in my lace trimmed dressing gown and Winnie the Pooh slippers waiting ages for the kettle to boil. All this while the light of my life slumbers on in 15 TOG duck-down insulated bliss.

I thought, until recently, but this was a simple case of jealousy on my part that somebody else was getting an extra 10 minutes of snore-time (yes, she really does). Now, though, I know differently. It turns out that my reluctance to make the tea in the mornings is a perfectly natural consequence of the fact that our teapot has been infested by an evil demon from the lower reaches of hell.

Now, I know what you're thinking. How on earth can the average demon fit inside teapot? Well, let me tell you that in my experience, daemons come in all shapes and sizes and their physical size bears little resemblance, at the end of the day, to how malignant they turn out to be. And, in any case, it's a big teapot.

Obviously, I haven't actually seen the demon, because only lunatics and those who have sold their soul to the Devil can actually see demons. I am (contrary to popular belief) neither a paid-up Satanist nor am I a nutcase. No, I have been forced to conclude that there is a demon somewhere in the kitchen because of a number of bizarre and frankly disturbing occurrences centred around that very room.

Firstly, things have begun to disappear. Chocolate, biscuits, grapes, savoury treats from the fridge, chocolate, and especially chocolate have all mysteriously vanished. Nobody, especially not the children because I've asked them several times, has any idea where these things are going.

Secondly, the children themselves have begun to display an irrational, almost terrified, behaviour pattern whenever we ask them to make tea or to empty the dishwasher -- on which the teapot happens to stand. Basically, they will refuse point-blank to co-operate.

So the obvious conclusion is that the kids are terrified of the teapot, and I can't think of any reason that they would be terrified of it unless it was infested by a demon. Yes I know you'll tell me that all of this evidence is merely circumstantial; but there is a clincher. The dog has left me and note telling me that he has actually seen the demon, and he is nuts, so he ought to know.

Friday, November 09, 2007

How's yer plums?

This weekend the family learned why our American cousins like to differentiate between a torch and a flashlight.

We went to a firework display in the local town of Wokingham (famed, amongst other things, for having a Vulcan in the shape or John Redwood represent them in the Houses of Parliament). We Brits do this every year in the first week of November and, on many occasions, an effigy of Guy Fawkes (a Catholic bent on regicide and the obliteration of a Protestant government) is burned.

The display was preceded by a torchlit procession from the market square to the 'fairground' where the display was to take place. Participants could, on parting with a mere five pounds, take possession of a flaming torch made out of a length of broomstick (note to self, check to see if the mother-in-law's runabout has been stolen) and some sacking soaked in wax.

Knowing that it was a racing certainty that at least one Family member would, as is often the case when walking around a field in the dark, stand in the leavings of one of the local canine populace I also stuck a battery-operated torch in my pocket so that we could check and discount this eventuality before getting back in the car.

Seeing me pocket the flashlight, the good lady wife was heard to enquire -"What's that for, Damsons in Distress?".

I shouldn't mock - she's given me some splendid ideas. Watch this space over the coming weeks for a play based upon the story of "Damson and Delilah"[1] and a fairy tale about a young fruit imprisoned in a tower by an evil sorceress which I'm intending to call Raplumzel.

[1] Actually, I can't really claim that one as my own idea. I must give credit to my good friend Rod, who likes to dress up as a lady in front of paying strangers.