Wednesday, 19 June 2013
I don’t rely on weather forecasts and I rarely watch them. As a former meteorologist in the good old Andrew* I can read a synoptic chart at a glance, make my own mind up for the day ahead and take an umbrella if appropriate. Also, it really doesn’t matter a great deal unless I’m going out paragliding because whatever the wide-area forecast, the micro-meteorology of a particular hill site may be quite different from the general pattern. Otherwise I am quite sanguine about the fact that however disappointing the weather, I can’t do anything to change it, so I may as well just take what comes.
Friends (yes I do have a couple) often wonder that I can be so blasé but it’s simple, really. And anyway, why make rocket science out of a fairly straightforward process? Here’s how you put a daily forecast together:
Step 1: Look out of the window. Really, always look out of the window. Whatever it’s doing right now, that’s where your forecast starts.
Step2: Check out the latest surface analysis (that weather chart thingy) and see what’s on the way – a front will likely bring cloud and rain and change the airmass. So all you do is work out when it’s going to get here and describe the progression of change for your forecast period.
Step 3: Reduce the information down to Wind + Weather + Visibility and there you go. (Check out the Shipping Forecast – that’s all they give you – WWV – region by region.)
Step 4: Remember you’re only the messenger, not the Messiah – whatever the weather, you didn’t make it happen, you're not a naughty boy and it ain’t your fault!
I’ve always felt sorry for poor old Michael Fish after ‘that hurricane’. The poor fella was doing his best and by and large the forecast was pretty accurate. The difference between a Violent Storm (64-73 mph) and a Hurricane (74+ mph) is technically only one mile per hour but that single steadfast proclamation "Don't worry," has stayed with him for twenty-five years and might have destroyed a lesser man. Talk about defining a man by his mistakes...
But was that the point at which we no longer took at face value the forecasts from our formerly revered Met Office? In recent years ‘barbecue summers’ have turned to crap, an expected ‘mild winter’ became the coldest on record for fifty years and last year, the wettest since records began, started with a hosepipe ban. (Oh and we’re supposedly in the middle of a heat wave right now. Meh.)
All of which preamble gets me to the pointlessness of the Met Office’s climate change huddle this week. Lots of hand-wringing about something they can’t change. If they’re not careful they’re in danger of looking like a right bunch of Cnuts. Nobody has ever managed to accurately forecast the weather more than two weeks ahead, let alone months or years and the entire Climate Change Industry can’t even agree on what has actually happened in the past.
But the Met Office is missing a trick. From my Met Man days I know that nobody actually listens to the forecasts properly anyway, even if their lives may depend on it. Predict rain in the morning and by ten o’clock you’ll get complaints about the deluge they weren’t expecting until tea time. Forecast a wet Saturday afternoon and come Monday you’re practically guaranteed to have an angry Squadron Commander ranting that you personally ruined his garden party.
Nobody minded about the destructive tornado.
They were still laughing at Michael Fish's pullover!
So, if they’re not going to even remember what you forecast and you’ll get blamed for it being the wrong sort of hail, even if you called it exactly right, you may as well make your performances memorable for something else. I suggest TV Weatherfolk acquire other skills such as juggling, stand-up comedy, wearing ridiculous outfits or swimsuit modelling. So when they’re taking the piss because you dropped all the balls, or a nipple popped out, at least they’re not impugning your ability to guess the weather.
(*Andrew = Royal Navy)
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Nobody who has read 1984 can fail to be awed by Orwell’s prescience and to many readers of a centre right political persuasion his chillingly wrought world of grey, stalking horror is already with us in the form of Newspeak, Doublethink and Big Brother himself. Orwellian has become an accepted adjective and scarcely a day goes by without some columnist describing our society thus. Possibly the most sinister modern manifestation of Ingsoc is the willingness of the young to readily denounce others to the state on some trumped-up charge of bigotry, free speech being secondary these days to the eradication of any form of upset. (Unless, of course, you belong to certain promoted species of the congenitally thin-skinned.)
But while all eyes have been on the evolution of Airstrip One, another seer of equal perspicacity has passed quietly into history, although his observations are as true, if not truer than Orwell’s. While modern day managers will be well acquainted with The Dilbert Principle, those of an earlier vintage will remember with a happy sigh, the insights of one Cyril NorthcoteParkinson. I have regularly cited Parkinson’s Law since I first became aware of its existence. Imagine then, my delight that Radio Four last night devoted a delicious half hour to revisiting this seminal work. (Go on, iPlayer it; you won’t regret it.)
First published in 1955, Parkinson’s Law states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” How very true – we all recognise the laxity of production once a deadline is removed – I’m doing it now, being distracted by the cornucopia of the Internet while I’m supposed to be writing to my self-imposed daily deadline. But Cyril also saw so much more besides and in a world where your worth is measured by your busy-ness and bustle and bluster, rather than your actual productivity his arch words are more applicable than ever.
“In politics people give you what they think you deserve and deny you what they think you want.”
“The man who is denied the opportunity of taking decisions of importance begins to regard as important the decisions he is allowed to take.”
“The smaller the function, the greater the management.” And “Time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.“
He recognised the futility of allowing governments to govern, yet the equally frustrating futility of allowing the people to exercise democracy. He saw that people mistake activity for action and job titles for importance and that such mistakes are an inevitable part of the human condition. More academic tomes seek to give us ever deeper (and ever more costly) insights into our psyche yet despite the millions of man hours devoted to revealing humanity none have come even close to such succinct searing indictments as the bureaucratic imperative, “An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals”
In a week in which The TaxPayers’ Alliance has published its latest Bumper Book of Government Waste identifying £120bn of worthless spending it might do us all good to revisit Cyril’s simple dissection of the truth of bureaucracy and the plethora of waste it inevitably produces. If every government department would man-up and recognise these truths we would have many fewer and leaner government departments. The deficit could be cut in no time.
Battsby's Bumper Book
If I was running the show I’d have Cyril Parkinson at one hand and William of Ockham at the other, but sadly (or possibly thankfully) the world is not yet ready for our efficient ministrations. Much as I’d prefer not to piss on your chips, one thing is certain, although it’s a quote by neither man, “Whoever you vote for, the bloody government will always get in.”
Monday, 17 June 2013
So Baldrick, played by the rarely funny, often morosely left-wing Tony Robinson, whose only other notable TV outings were in Who Dares Wins in the mid-eighties and Time Team – Sunday teatime telly - gets knighted. Meanwhile Rowan Atkinson, whose face would be instantly recognised by millions across the planet, only gets a CBE. If Blackadder ever makes a comeback the erstwhile serpent-noir should appear in a tee-shirt bearing the words, “My servant went to Buckingham Palace and all I got was this lousy medallion”.
So why the knighthood for Robinson? Certainly not for services to comedy. Charity work? Yes, if you call banging the drum for Labour charity, although it could hardly be said to be charitable towards the country. Or the Queen for that matter; fucking Tony Blair sold off her beloved yacht, remember? You’d think there’d have been a royal moratorium on awards for lefty luvvies after that.
Every honours round is a joke. Twenty-five year old Adele gets something to mark her brief spot in the limelight while it takes others decades to be recognised, often just before they die. Many athletes were honoured after the Olympics but, dedicated though they were, they were still doing something they loved and in many cases will earn a great deal of money from. Maybe they were gonged-up in anticipation of their future work for charitable causes? It’s probably as good an excuse as any.
I absolutely ‘get’ the awarding of honours to those who have faced grave danger, scaled great heights, defended their country and rescued kittens. I am entirely happy also, for those who have worked for their country at home for many years to have their dedication recognised. I’m even okay with awarding honours to senior politicians and civil servants who, after all, are probably the closest modern equivalent to serving as knights of old. (Thinks: Court Jester, maybe that explains Baldrick… but then surely they’d pick somebody actually witty, like Phil Jupitus or Danny Baker… loads to choose from.)
There is always of course, a token smattering of unknowns, usually getting minor medals for simple things. You know, like spending sixty years volunteering at the local hospital, or running a shelter for various outcasts from society for half their life; sacrificing personal gain to help those less fortunate – easy, boring shit like that. It’s nowhere near as gruelling as say, running for Parliament, gaining a seat then stuffing your pockets with other people’s cash for a dozen years before donning ermine and getting £300 a day just for turning up, along with a bunch of absentee directorships.
I'm ready for my close up now Mr Cameron!
Of course, not all politicos get knighted and some would turn down the honour, eh, Baron Prescott? To get a seat on the red leather you have to have at least held an important post in government. What would Baldrick do? If I was Ed Miliband I’d make a start on the juggling before it’s too late.
Friday, 14 June 2013
I sometimes give way to whimsy on a Friday but I just read this Commentator article and it echoes an accelerating invasive phenomenon that I have seen at close quarters and always been concerned about. A few years ago, for entirely practical reasons, I moved to this house in an area you might describe as just one step up from white trash. It was never particularly nice, but I've been away for five years and what I see now I have returned makes me angry; how could it not?
Six of them. Six of the noisy little fuckers playing loudly in the street and because of their cultural norms, playing loudly in the street until very late. A group of their male teenage and early-twenties role models driving noisy quad bikes with poor silencers around and around the streets for hours on end. I can’t help but feel – given the preponderance of former industrial waste land in the area - that they could have more fun elsewhere yet here they are, night after night. And where just five years ago you saw their sisters and mothers wearing western dress they now resemble tall, sinister, black bin bags.
While the local Hindus and Sikhs run legitimate businesses and are generally well respected and accepted, the Muslims display an obvious and intentional reliance on benefits and cash-in-hand working and breeding for benefits and an utter refusal to integrate with other faiths and sensibilities. Nationally they parade an agenda which they no longer feel the need to hide; nothing less than to dominate the entire world.
It’s not offensive to tell the simple, observable truth. Islam is not beautiful as many of its supporters claim, it is ugly and sordid and primitive and wrong. And it is utterly alien to western civilisation. There is not a single overtly Islamic country I can think of which is not held together by force and fear. I wonder that more anti-Islamic activity is not reported but then I’ve also seen how enthusiastically governments and their police have prosecuted ‘hate crimes’. A hate crime is anything which is seen as a threat to the left-liberal doormat policy of lying down and being trampled to death.
Surely there can be no more hateful a crime than to use a country’s generosity as a tool of invasion? To use a country’s tolerant nature against it. To wage war with wombs. We simply must not stand by and be conquered by birth rates. Yet we will because nobody dare lift a finger to prevent it. The only way that will happen is going to be atrocious. I can only thank anything but Allah that I will probably die before the real horror and bloodshed starts.
So, bring on the Mohammed cartoons, fly the flags of ridicule, point and laugh at the stupidity and hatred of Islam and flatly refuse to accommodate its offensive ways. Make Islam a laughing stock and make its embrace a bar to advancement in British society. Yes, discriminate. Only when the young are ashamed of their parents and reject their destructive heritage will integration begin to happen; Islam is not welcome here. Oh and keep eating bacon for as long as they allow it.
Thursday, 13 June 2013
The world is in a mess. I can’t remember when there has been such a barrage of incoming reports of simultaneous civil unrest in so many disparate places at once. Just when one situation seems to be calming down somebody lobs a fire-bomb into another hornets’ nest and it all kicks off again. After a while one becomes hardened to strife and inured to such reports, so long as it’s not right on the doorstep. Then suddenly comes chilling news of such universal significance it simply can’t be ignored.
Lego has lost the plot and people are being hurt. It turns out that Lego figures are getting angry and some fear, hysterically, that it could be harming children’s development. (Go on, read the article) My big, fat, arse. What’s far more likely to hinder their development is continually being pushed off the swings by the other big daft child in the household – the one they call Dad - who is desperate to build their toy for them and deny the kids the rewards of their labour and invention
They didn't have Lego characters when I was growing up. There were maybe a couple of dozen different sizes and colours of brick and that was your lot. If you wanted characters you had to make your own, using your hands AND YOUR IMAGINATION. That was the whole frickin’ point. You invariably didn’t have enough bricks or you ran out of the colour you wanted, but that shortfall was part of the game. You learned to muddle through, make do and most important of all, be British about it. (Back in the day ‘being British’ really didn’t include blabbing to matron, strikes and strife, high court action, suicide bombing and the hacking to death in the street of people with whom you disagreed ; you sucked it up and got on with it.) Crappy, primary-coloured bricks and the disappointment they brought were an integral part of developing the stiff upper lip so lacking today.
Lego figures were only introduced in 1975 (I was preparing to leave for university – I’m so old my first form of transport was a hoop and a stick.) but I wasn't aware they existed until about five years ago when I learned that grown men were playing with them. “Huh?” was my reaction, but then, hey whatever, at least they’re doing man things – building stuff. But then I saw them, the figures and the boxes with fantastically detailed models, all designed by somebody else. These man-boys aren't using Lego, they’re just assembling pre-made stuff –it’s like IKEA and Lego combined and formed a task force. What is this, a Scandinavian invasion? A Scandinvasion? First the EU and now this? What is happening to the world?
And once you get pre-designed Lego which practically builds itself, you may as well have jigsaws that come ready assembled, and video games where the characters are already shot up for you – Oh I forgot, you already do; that’s what passes for blockbuster movie entertainment these days. What next, pre-read books? You may as well be delivered straight into a coffin – cradle to grave – and miss out all the boring stuff we call life if you’re not prepared to work on building your own character.
Lego is supposed to lie around the floor as a lurking, foot-stabbing, man-trap. It’s not supposed to be a sodding work of art for lily-livered, pampered, namby-pamby, milk sop, wet-behind-the-ears brats... whatever their age. As for the characters, Lego just isn't meant to have emotions – it’s a bunch of bright bricks that loosely stick together, with which you can have a few years of inventive fun before you turn to more grown-up things like getting qualifications and turning yourself into a contributing member of society.
My Lego model of Britain under Socialism
(You have to use your imagination!)
Lego figures angry? No wonder they’re bloody angry – they have to do all the work.