Aug 30

Well, it’s done. Cases finished, closing speeches delivered, verdict reached and given. My jury duty is over, my little experience as a small cog in the large machine of the British justice system is at an end, and not a moment too soon. I did my job, I did what I was instructed to do and I acted to the best of my ability as my conscience and the facts demanded, but it’s something I hope I never do again. There are some nasty things in the world, and the last few days have served as an unwelcome reminder of that for me.

I promise things will get cheerier from now on, but for now I find I am looking at things in a much darker light than I usually do. I’m pessimistic by nature, but seeing a little glimpse of the nastiness that the world can contain has put me beyond my usual Eeyore-like state of being into an entirely darker mood altogether. Churchill called it his black dog. At the moment I am spending a bit more time with my better half, just enjoying seeing her smile, hearing her laugh and indulging in the simple pleasure of spending some time with her. I’ve said before that I get too tied up in work and I do, but seeing what I have seen over the past few days has reminded me that there is more to life to enjoy, and plenty of nastiness happening, so I should enjoy myself a little more. And guess what? I’m going to try.

One thing that has made me smile though – in looking up a page for the Churchill link above, I happened upon this page, detailing some of the peculiarities of past Prime Ministers. For anyone who wants to further enhance in their own minds the British stereotype for general eccentricity, this is an essential read.

Aug 24

Tomorrow I get to see and do something new when I report to the High Court in Glasgow for jury duty. Putting aside for a moment my worries about the British Justice system having gotten so desperate that they’re having to call me up, it should at least be an interesting experience. I don’t think there will be any Denny Cranes but there will hopefully be old men in black robes and comical wigs, and any day that has old men in comical wigs can’t be bad. It’s just, well, the law.

My only real worry is that if it is a serious case, it can take weeks to work through, so if I suddenly go quiet for the next fortnight you know what has happened. Knowing my luck I’ll be on the jury deciding the fate of a serial killer with a photographic memory. Must remember to take along a fake moustache and glasses.

Aug 22

And mere days after granting Jerry’s wish, I now wave my magic wand and grant one of Wendy’s. You want to see a photo of me? Done. And not only done, but taken on a better camera than I usually have access too, on a sunnier day than we usually enjoy, and with a nice outfit on too. All in all, a good deal: extra bang for your buck, you might even say. Just head on over to FlickrDoo to see the first photo from the wedding I was at on Friday. More on the day itself later, including the almighty shoe fuck-up, but for now enjoy the photo.

Aug 16

Seems one-time BBC newsreader Michael Buerk has had enough of these damned women taking over the reins of power and has decided to fight back. Blasting most of modern society in a bizarre freak show rant that is only just this side of “not insane”, Buerk displays frustration at so many women walking the corridors of power at the BBC. Maybe they brought too many flowery curtains? An overabundance of soft cushions? Or was he just sick of the constant smell of pot-pourri and perfume? Whatever those damned high-heel jockeys did, it set old man Buerk off on one and now he’s a one man crusade to take back the Beeb and return it to the hands of men. Presumably men who smoke pipes, have moustaches, wear cardigans and possess time travel technology to allow them to commute to work from the year 1955.

The man’s outburst would be funny if it weren’t quite so pathetic and tinged with a sad, fist-shaking rage at the modern world. I mean, let’s have a look at some of his more salient points (and I use that word with as much tongue in cheek as I can manage without looking like someone who’s trying to swallow a golf ball):

Mister Buerk, he say: “Products are made for women, cars are made for women – because they control what is being bought.”

Damn women! Damn them! First they fight for the right to earn the money, and then they expect to spend it on things that are made with them in mind? Bloody cheek, if you ask me. Oh, it starts of small, just a rubber grip on a razor for their legs, but where does it end up? APOCALYPSE, THAT’S WHERE! I’m just saying, fuck with a man’s toilet products, that’s where you end up. Hell. I’m just saying, is all.

Mister Buerk goes on to proclaim, “Almost all the big jobs in broadcasting were held by women – the controllers of BBC One television and Radio 4 for example. These are the people who decide what we see and hear.”

When I read this statement all I can hear is a quiet little voice, layered with years of embittered anger, saying over and over again, “Why won’t they get back in the kitchen? Why do they need to talk?” Buerk’s position seems to be that women controlling BBC One and Radio 4 – out of all of the millions of channels, news outlets and media organisations out there – will somehow herald the beginning of the end. Can anyone else smell brimstone? No, didn’t think so. I just love the kneejerk reaction there, as if women being anywhere in positions of seniority is a very bad thing. I might also point out that for years those damned women controlling so much of the BBC decided to let you on the air Mikey, but I suppose you just forgot about that did you? So if women being in charge all those years was SOOOOO bad, you’ll be in a hurry to return all the wages you earned in that time, won’t you? Hello? Micheal? Are you still there?

Another high point was when Mister Buerk cried havoc and let slip the dogs of fucking idiocy with: “The result is men are becoming more like women.”

For this one my handy-dandy patented Sexist bigot translate-o-matic says “I don’t buy moisturiser, and I don’t trust men who do.”

And finally, mister Buerk laments the loss of position men seem to have suffered in society: “All they are is sperm donors, and most women aren’t going to want an unemployable sperm donor loafing around and making the house look untidy.”

That BOOM you just heard was my Sexist Bigot Translate-o-matic blowing up after overloading. Come on Michael, you used to be a journalist for one of the world’s most respected news organisations. You must have had an analytical mind, a sharp intelligence and have been able to see other perspectives. Or did you just luck out when you answered the BBC entrance exam questions randomly? (and just for the record, I think “Unemployed sperm donor” would look so good on a CV).

There are a lot of people on the TV and in the news saying things about men and women. Men do this, women like that, men don’t like the other……hours of radio and TV, miles of newsprint and a lake of ink have been spent on the subject. As if there is only one type of man, and one type of woman, and that’s it. It always surprises me that in this modern era where there is so much focus on equality, freedom and access to opportunity for all, that so many people seem to be in a headlong rush to categorize the sexes into two neat, contained camps. Men no cook. Men make fire. Women swoon. It’s all the biggest lot of total crap I’ve heard in a long time, and Michael Buerk just fell into the middle of it all. I’m just annoyed that this sexist doodie-head (you’re welcome, Jerry) didn’t say all this when I actually hosted a Blog Party for the out-of-touch old coots among us.

Best wishes Mikey boy, I’m sure the Pulitzer’s in the post, you complete and utter arse.

Aug 02

The Old Coot blog party is now dearly departed, and it leaves us all with a clearer understanding of how we and those around us perceive this ever-changing world of ours. With reactions to the various party entries ranging from “Oh, I never thought of that.” to “Phew! It’s not just me, then?” I think it is safe to say that the party has been something of a success, even if I do say so myself. With that in mind I would like to thank everyone who attended for bringing their perspectives to the party, along with many delicious (and false-teeth safe) nibbles.

When my own entry to the party turned out to be a little more melancholy than I had originally intended, it was nice to see some others taking a more light-hearted approach. One such was Wendy, who opened up her tirade of wrinkled fist waving with a blast at cartoons, and the sheer amount of choice kids have these days with satellite TV and cable channels. Not like that in our day, no sir. She then went on to reflect on how movies – and attitudes to movies – had changed. After that clothes were mentioned, with a lament on how kids dress far older than they need to these days. Finally, she regretted that books did not seem to play such a large part in kid’s lives these days, something that had me nodding along a little in sad agreement. Wendy was last seen heading in the direction of the jar of boiled sweets, muttering something about her skull being eggshell thin.

In Wendy’s comments another old coot, SarahD, found the “parent perspective” very interesting and revealed that she can see herself being a fairly controlling old coot–sorry, parent. In these days of kids revelling in videogames and TV, she remembers her childhood spent reading, playing outside and engaging with her friends, which is something she would like to pass along to the next generation of her family. I can almost hear the cry of “run outside and cut me a switch.” as I sit here and type.

Darrell rolled in next, his bath chair rattling over the threshold and nearly knocking over several of our frailer guests. For his advanced years Darrell had a surprising amount to say and punctuated each point with a vicious stab of his walking cane. Someone did ask why someone in a wheeled chair needed a cane, but all they got was another prod. Darrell echoed earlier points about playing outside, and added that it didn’t seem as safe a world to do that in these days, which is sadly true. Videogames came in for another beating (they seem to be a popular target), since they now resemble cartoons and intimidate us older sorts who are more used to Fire Ant, Dizzy and Frogger. This led on to cartoons, and there being so much more choice now (is this perhaps old coot jealousy of the young?) but they don’t seem to make as much sense as they used to. Schoolwork being done by computers, and computers themselves, earned another round of poking with his walking stick, before he grumbled something about political correctness and rolled off in the direction of the bourbon. He’s never been seen since, but we believe several blunt force traumas in the area can be traced back to that damn cane.

Lorna arrived in a dashing lace number and a blast of talcum powder, ready to discuss the ways of the world and release her inner old coot. She had a lot to say and a lot to impart, but kept nodding off halfway through sentences so it took a while to get it all out of her. She railed against the kids, giggling as you’re trying to reminisce, and their damn fashions, which she is sure has been around a few times before now. Of course, all this is for naught if all the knowledge you have accrued is slipping away through your ears. Top Ten lists were next on the hit list, especially when you only get 1 item out of the 10 selected. Speaking of numbers, her inner old coot remembered owning an 8-track. On a more serious note Lorna reflected on seeing history repeat itself through innumerable conflicts, how education and workplace practices have changed, and how her religious feelings, gender and perceptions of age have all shifted as she has gone through life. I was busy nodding along and thinking of all the points she had brought up, so I didn’t notice the men in white coats come and take her away. By all accounts she put up a hell of a fight.

Kelly tried to remember what she wanted to say, then wandered off for a while to find her slippers. When she came back with her slippers on, she found she was in too damn good a mood to rail against anything much. She was a happy old coot for the day, but we won’t hold that against her will we? Her grumbles, because of her good mood, were fairly minor: she regretted shops being open all week, and wished for at least one day that they just stopped for a moment. She also wished there weren’t quite so many of the same shop in the one area, I think because she once wandered in and bought three loads of the same shopping from three different Wal-Marts. Burger King containers were next, but crazy old man MCF thought she meant McDonalds. Alas for both of them, burgers are by now far stronger than their false teeth, so we will never know. Finally Kelly managed to shake her fist at muscled-out athletes, who do not look normal to her.

The aforementioned crazy old man MCF stopped cackling long enough to get some rants off his wheezy chest, starting off with the branding of TV shows, bad editing and those damn logos that block off chunks of the screen. The decline in workplace ethics earned his wrath next, but he did like the rise in DVDs as a format. He also likes computers and how they allow a balance between artistic and technical approaches, as well as the internet. Though just in case he was in danger of throwing his lot in with happy old coot Kelly, he did go on to say that he can only see advertising getting worse, and change will only go on. He was last seen hobbling off with $60,000 in a biscuit tin stuck under his arm.

And there we were, old coots one and all. Thanks for coming along, now shut the damn door. It’s cold in here. Now where was I? Oh yes. I was wearing an onion on my belt, which was the fashion at the time, when all of a sudden J.G. Rockefeller…

P.S. Old coot Dave declined to join the party, citing it’s depressing effects, but if he ever wants to come to the party late, I saved some boiled sweets and a tartan rug for him. Just saying, you know, in case.