Friday, 26 August 2011

The Damage Caused - not by Hurricane Irene

Currently in the US of A, watching the advent of Hurricane Irene towards Wall Street (seems apt somehow). Yesterday we passed a huge auction house which had a couple of football (that's "soccer") fields worth of JCBs and general assorted diggers, cranes and other large industrial vehicles. It looked like a retirement home for transformers.

It's clear that the US economy is still suffering. One "shopping mall" we visited, which was beautiful (well, moreso than any other I've been in) with its own internal and external lake, had just 3 shops left in it. It was like walking through a really well upkept post-apocalyptic scenario (with air conditioning). We didn't spot too many zombies though -- apart from the "missing you already" type ;-)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Why are Stewards Just So Very Camp?

Yesterday we embarked on our Summer sojourn. It's our first overseas holiday, in fact our first real family holiday, for 5 years so we've all been very excited. With a morning flight we had to set off in the dead of night, and no matter how much we tried there was so much palpable excitement, there was very little sleep to be had.

In a podcast I listened to recently a teacher had explained purgatory to young children as an endless wait in a pretty dire airport. After a morning sat in an uncomfy chair with my head nodding, weedling away the hours prior to take-off I have to say as trite as the comparison may sound, I am now inclined to agree.

Best part of the day so far (I wrote this towards the end of the flight)? How about one of the, ahem, "sing song" stewards mincing down the aisle while singing "sisters are doing it for themselves." I kid you not. I swapped a knowing-look with the eldest child and we sniggered in union.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Time for Some Robust Quantitative Redacting?

Smoke and Mirrors from a Grubby Banker
If history is to judge recent crises it could well be via the "buzz-words" they spat out.

Those of you who have read or seen The Wizard of Oz may not know that the book is in fact a kind of treatise on money in America in the early 20th Century, the yellow brick road being the 'Gold Standard' and the Wizard of Oz himself a top banker - a grubby little man using smoke and mirrors to keep us (munchkins) in fear of his might.

Well, if one inspects the recent national crises you can find specific buzz-words which, I believe, are chosen to try and frighten the meek, gullible or easy-going into silence. A kind of "let the experts deal with that" outlook, which can be particularly tempting when most of us have our time taken up worrying about earning enough money to pay the bills.

Now for the fun part. Here are the buzz-words that stick out for me. I'd love to hear of others, if you have examples, old or new, from the UK or overseas.
  • MPs' Expenses Scandal: REDACTED.
  • Banking Crisis:  QUANTITATIVE EASING.
  • Riots in England: ROBUST (policing/sentencing).
I'd love to hear your examples. Off the top of my head I couldn't think of one for the Murdoch-media phone-hacking scandal.... but there must be an example surely?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Stand Aside! Hero Coming Through (Hair Caught in Crash Helmet - Again)

Sometimes, if you are like me, you find yourself in a situation where you think "oh if only..." Nothing major. I don't mean when you see some lottery winners on TV ("what should it gain a man to own the whole world and lose his soul" etc. etc. - I paraphrase) or that kid from school who went on to work for NASA, travel the world and invent the ipod.

No, as is usual in my life and in my deranged warblings, I am referring to something far more mundane and run-of-the-mill.

Just the other day I found myself in the sunshine and showers of a Saturday morning Welsh car boot. Funnily enough it was in the shadow of the hospital where I had my 'big op' last year, so the air smelt even sweeter.

And there it was! A perfect replica of a Red Arrows jumpsuit, with all the official patches and paraphernalia. In perfect nick, no cuts or tears, no faded bits, no patched-up sections. It was sublime in its purity and outstanding in its heroic qualities -- I would say "like me" but I don't want to be responsible for any casualties as the result of uncontrollable guffawing (now there's a word we don't use often enough outside of the pages of The Beano circa 1977).

Oh the visions of grandeur! Strutting down the street in my Red Arrows jumpsuit, suitable head attire firmly in place, the adulation of the crowds (?) the polite applause of the neighbours as I head off to, well, not exactly save the world - but perhaps to perform some excellent stunts at an air show. Oh Bravo!

The only problem is that if I had done that with this jumpsuit it would have to be via the Mad Professor off of Back to the Future because, as I could tell from its size through my tear-filled eyes, it was clearly made for someone circa 6 years old.

Even so I daydreamed. Yes. There was six-year-old Gareth Hurley in his Red Arrows jumpsuit off to be heroic, Evel Knievel tucked under his arm, pockets bulging with toy soldiers and matchbox cars. Perched on my head would have to be that plastic, white police crash helmet I had with the pull-down visor (the one that you always caught your hair in when you took it off, but you had to put it back on again eventually as it looked just so cool! To a six-year-old anyway).

And there I was, a grown man, holding the hand of my youngest, looking on with trembling lip at a vision of pristine beauty and sheer heroism - albeit produced for a wee nipper.

I brushed away a manly tear, put my best foot forward and continued on my way with ne'er a look back (see! I can be brave too), lest I, like Lot's wife, be transformed into a pillar of salt.

So there you are dear reader. A story of nostalgia, upset, stoicism and bravery all piled into one glorious yet sad moment.

Can life get any more exciting? No I haven't invented the ipod, but the thought of those pockets bulging with matchbox cars en route to their next big adventure circa 1977 reminds me that I have lived a happy life - even if I was denied a Red Arrows jumpsuit.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Wales beat England: Wot no Comment?

No rugby on the Beeb? A hair raising experience!
I know Wales beat England in the rugby yesterday, usually a cause of great excitement in the Hurley household, but as the match was unavailable on the BBC (Sky Sports only) I was reduced to listening to the match as I pottered in the garden.

Sorry, but if the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) want to make rugby the reserve of those who shell out the ridiculous fees for Sky Sports then they do not deserve attention on my illustrious (yes: illustrious!) blog.

Still, all credit to a Welsh team that put on a good perfermonce, soaked up a lot of pressure, all with two men in the sin bin too.

I may be a pessimist, but I don't think either team will put much pressure on the All Blacks, but we'll see.

Happy Feast of the Assumption to Cardiff City: Top of the League!

Oh happy day. Oh blissful season! Not only is today the Feast of the Assumption (well, really it's tomorrow - the 15th a public holiday in many countries, but the Church here is a bit lazy and moves it to the nearest Sunday), but Cardiff City are sitting atop the Championship League.

I know it can seem a little sacrilegious to bring religion into sport, but as Cardiff supporters used to sing on the Bob Bank, the Pope supports Cardiff. Which must be true if the supporters sang it surely? Now we have a different Pope, and perhaps Austrians and Poles are chalk and cheese, but I would like to think His Holiness would also support the best team in the world!

So here we are! All honour and glory to the Queen of Heaven (Regina Coeli) and all thumbs up and polite applause to Cardiff City. Only a handful of games to go... 8-)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

"Feral Rats" - a New Breed of Knights Needed

What with that upset lady from Ealing who was on the news, annoyed at her clothes shop being trashed by what she termed "feral rats," it made me think of the old Code of Chivalry, with its strong sense of duty and honour, something alien to the rioters and looters.

Now I may be an old romantic (Yes! Ask Mrs. H), but I really long for the days when a pack of looters with their baggy-arse jeans, whooping down the road with their ill-gotten booty in their arms came up against a chivlrous knight. He would, in an old school medieval way, kick their baggy arses and dispatch them forthwith to meet their maker and account for their sins, or take them to be placed in a suitable dungeon.

Oh for some chivalrous knights today!

Here, from the Song of Roland, is the Code of Chivalry:

  • To fear God and maintain His Church
  • To serve the liege lord in valour and faith
  • To protect the weak and defenceless
  • To give succour to widows and orphans
  • To refrain from the wanton giving of offence
  • To live by honour and for glory
  • To despise pecuniary reward
  • To fight for the welfare of all
  • To obey those placed in authority
  • To guard the honour of fellow knights
  • To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
  • To keep faith
  • At all times to speak the truth
  • To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
  • To respect the honour of women
  • Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
  • Never to turn the back upon a foe

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

More Sad News: Four Become Two

Dmitri - still alive, earlier this morning.
I know it won't make BBC News 24, but today our hen Dmitri (don't ask - something to do with Russian elite special forces...) died, very slowly.

Mid morning she was sprawled out on the ground, so we put her in a little box, out of the run so she could get peace from the others and die in peace. Her eyes would open from time to time, but she looked like she was sleeping and then mid evening she was clearly dead.

She's the second of our hens to pass away. So four have become two. And unlike Take That I don't think they'll be getting back together...

Riots in London - Very, Very Sad

What sad, sad news coming out of London the last few days and especially last night. You have to feel sorry for the small businesses wrecked, the poor people whose homes were burnt, and as reports of muggings and worse flood the net one has to wonder what on earth London has become!

Having lived in London, if briefly, I was always aware of the possibility of crime, and on dark side streets or if a gang was near, you tended to be aware, but this is unreal. Visiting the Imperial War Museum with the sprogs a couple of years back we saw a police notice about an "Operation Trident" gun crime. Unbelievable.

Old Ma Hurley says there are rumours of people planning looting in Cardiff. I just hope Old Pa Hurley isn't forced to join vigilantes in the alleyways of Roath, bag of 10p doughnuts used as a mace.

But seriously I feel so sorry for the people of England. They must look on their capital and weep at what it has become. I know it sounds trite or like purple prose, but this is a Godless society with little or no family structure, sense of right and wrong, sense of duty, sense of belonging, sense of responsibility.

Absolutely shameful.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Cardiff V West Ham. Come on the Bluebirds


West Ham United FC versus Cardiff City FC.

Come on Cardiff my little beauties!

Third time lucky. Let's show the Swansea Jacks that we can get to the Premier League this year.


West Ham 1 Cardiff 2.

I hope....