Saturday, September 23, 2006


This rather optimistic item is to be seen in shops at Dusseldorf Airport.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Dusseldorf. Its pleasant enough. It has a river and some nice beer.

But amongst German cities it lacks either anything distinctive (like maybe a "Munich" or a "Berlin" - or even a "Hamburg"), yet also fails to have the kitsch or ironic value of somewhere actually crap - or even dull.

Dusseldorf is not quite even in the middle. Its not exciting, its not distinctive, but it's also not really bland or dull - just good enough not to be actually boring, not quite good enough to be "good".

So, a Dusseldorf t-shirt is no things to all people. You cannot use it to celebrate its crapness - as it isnt - but this garment will not convince anyone you are trumpeting your admiration a truly great city either. And you cannot even wear it ironically in a celebration of mediocrity.

Because its better than that.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Indian Taxi Ride Part 1

Another quiet day on the roads in Bangalore

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Polish Immigrants II

With the inexorable rise in the number of Polish immigrants capable of light building work and plastering, the availability of craftsmen for DIY work has risen sharply.

As supply side economics kicks in all over London, the going rate for hanging a new door, or repairing a sash window is plummeting.

However, the field of plumbing still remains a landscape littered with cowboys brits sucking on rollups and spilling cold tea all over newly (Polish-) laid pine floorboards whilst muttering darkly "Corgi Registered..? Of course I am luv" as the pricing meter ratchets up at a rate designed to strike fear into the hearts of even someone as profligate with money as the 3rd-car driving City bankers live-in polish nanny and au pair with her own Platinum credit card for "household extras".

Surely there is a solution to this crisis? Currently the EU is focusing on issues such as Police reform in Boznia, democracy in Kosovo, Human rights in Turkey and the adoption of prudent financial policy in Bulgaria as the key criteria for early admission to Euroland.

Can the EU not instead focus on what's really important? A short programme of research among the next wave of accession countries should be undertaken. Surely somewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Montenegro, and the Republic of Serbia, Albania, Macedonia or Turkey there is a top quality further education college that is already, or can easily be re-focused entirely to producing people skilled at the combination of pipe bending, valve replacement, boiler installation and light welding needed to be a top class - and cheap - plumber?

Maybe a more strategic vision is needed, and each accession country should be allocated a in-demand task to concentrate on even now? Moldovans could be learning to tile bathrooms in kindergarten. Ukranians can start to be taught electrical wiring from pre-school (there will of course be casualties in anything involving introducing toddlers to 240v live wiring systems, but this is simply the price of progress). Belarussians could even now be thinking about how to teach Dentistry to 5 & 6 year olds - who could safely practice secure in the knowledge that any mistakes will only be on their first set of teeth anyway.

The possibilities are endless - with enough planning and foresight, every single function in European society could eventually be allocated to a keen, hardworking and eager national or ethnic grouping.

One day even our reality TV contestants could all be flown directly in from the Tucks and Calicos Islands, having been trained to be dysfunctional freaks from an early age. if only we could then find someone to take over watching the damn programmes .... that would be a real result...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Polish Immigrants Part III

In fact, exactly when did Poland become a hotbed of ironing, cleaning and light building work related excellence?

When I was younger, the images of Poland I saw on TV showed a nation who's three key skills appeared to be:
  1. Giving Motty the opportunity to say "and finally England will face a difficult final away game in Katowice in the World Cup / European Championship* Qualifiers. But looking at the rest of the fixtures I think they should be confident of picking up enough points in other the group matches not to make that a must-win game"***
  2. Growing Moustaches
  3. Not building ships in shipyards, as they all were on strike instead
Often 2. & 3. were combined, but rarely 1. & 2.

And 1. & 3. were never, ever combined. "After narrowly beating Andorra away through a Bryan Robson late strike, England now face the difficult task of breaking through a line of anti-government pickets and then finishing the internal fitout of over 4o twin cabins on decks 3 through 5 of the MVS Nord Zee in order to qualify for the finals in Spain. Do you think Kevin Keegans experience over the past 3 seasons in the Bundesliga with Hamburg will help us out there Jimmy?"

Once Lech Walensa succesfully took power, how did the Western media miss the transformation of a nation of blokes in caps who were well practiced at making banners and standing around lit braziers shouting "Wy jesteście złymi człowiekiem kto (który) pozostawia jego przyjaciół strajkujący !"** into a whole army of easy-on-the-eye women with good interpersonal skills and deep empathy with young children and keen and reliable hardworking carpenters with an innate knowledge of the arts of mixing cement and applying plaster?

Over the same timeframe Britain turned into a nation of overweight listless workshy chavs. What went wrong?

Maybe we should capitalise on the once-in-a-generation economic opportunity this offers us?

Britain could close all its state run schools, and ship the internees off to Poland for basic training.

Then we could simply import nice, hardworking economically productive Polish, and Polish-trained people back into the UK when they got to 17 or 18. Closing the schools would save billions in taxation, thus alowing the rate of national insurance to be lowered, and income tax thresholds to rise considerably, which in turn would make it far less likley that the incoming Polish (working) population would feel the need to try and avoid tax, thus boosting the net receipts to the UK Treasury and allowing us to invest even more in making England into truly a place Polish people would want to come and live in.

* delete as appropriate
** "You are a bad man who leaves his friends on strike" (the website wouldn't translate "scab")
*** They never did though.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Polish Immigrants

The entire UK media is becoming obsessed with Polish Immigrants, who are apparently fleeing in their millions from Poland, and all are coming to set up as self employed cleaners, nannies and builders in the London Borough of Hammersmith.

Soon Poland will be a deserted wasteland, with rows of empty houses, almost entirely denuded of population and with the few poor souls remaining roaming around in crumpled clothes as their half feral children roam the streets dodging between streams of water pouring out of leaky guttering, as there will be no-one left in Poland with the necessary skills of ironing, childcare and minor property maintainance.

Meanwhile Hammersmith will become a pristine beacon of city perfection, with every house featuring at least 2 or 3 different loft extensions. There will be stiff competition between the female and male Polish populations as supply exceeds demand and competing teams of Polish craftsmen start muscling in on the cleaners work, offering to completely replaster rooms and build new fitted furniture as an alternative to dusting.

As 95% of the population of Hammersmith will shortly be Polish, there will be no opportunity for the Polish immigrants to integrate and interbreed with the UK population, and so evolution will in turn create a new super-breed of Polish worker capable of both cleaning, ironing and sanding an original oak door all at the same time.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ricky Gervais' Extras Takes over The Real World

One episode of the Ricky Gervais series "Extras" featured East Enders "hard man" Ross Kemp.

The whole series is built around famous people playing parodies of themselves.

It veers from the seriously famous (Bowie, A-List Hollywood stars) to Ross Kemp Les Dennis and soon Keith Chegwin

In the Radisson Hotel in Moscow, the board you see on the left appears in reception, listing the "famous"people who have stayed there:

Some of the notables are:

Both Cinton and Bush have stayed there. Both are pretty famous, by any measure you care to use or apply

Sharon Stone. Hollywood A-lister, actress and also tireless charity worker. Famous? Check.

Claudia Schiffer - One of the worlds top Supermodels - and for many years a face on every billboard in Russia - certainly famous.

Let there be Rock! Famous once in the West, and still massive market for their 3-chord anthems in Russia, Deep Purple are Big in Japan, and bigger still in Moscow even now.

And finally, the latest addition:

How did this happen?

Was an eagle-eyed Slavic receptionist also a fan of illegally downloaded episodes of Eastenders?

Was an ex-KGB bellman also someone who had secretly aspired to join the SAS and had been a underground fan of the Kemp-meister's later works in homage and training for his defection?

Did our Ross tell them himself, and use his intimidating East End Gangster look to bully his way onto the board...?

Did he - or th ehotel - add "Actor" after his name?

Or is the power of the Gervais/Merchant/Pilkington podcast now so all-pervaisive that even Moscow Hotels are no longer immune...?

Kidnapping in Mexico City

Mexico City is the kidnapping capital of the world (lucky Mexico City eh?)

Kidnapping has got so frequent that they now have 24-hour kidnapping. They had to put a time limit on it, as someone worked out that if they had carried on with the old fashioned "keep 'em until they pay up" kidnapping, everyone in the entire city would have been being held by kidnappers by the middle of June 2009.

The latest idea is self-service D-I-Y kidnapping, where you get taken to a cashpoint and you are forced to get your own ransom. Even quicker than 24 hour kidnapping, and saves on phone calls and buying newspapers (to cut the letters out of) too.

Some busy businessmen are now starting to schedule kidnappings for over their lunch hour "Sorry Chico, can't do lunch today, I'm being kidnapped - how about next Wednesday?"

People are arranging to be kidnapped at the same time as their friends - and having (surprise) kidnap parties whilst they are away.

Someone has brought out a new book - "The Kidnapped Diet". Next month the "Try to Escape Workout Video " comes out too.

Online kidnapping will be the next thing - once broadband penetration in Mexico reaches a critical mass. Then you will be able to go online and order your own personalized kidnapper to come to your house at a time of your choosing (in any given two hour window) with a mobile ATM, give you a quick slap round the chops and bob's your uncle, job done.

However, in a city of 20 million people, you can see how the "quickie" kidnap came into being. Imagine Cortez The Kidnapper leaving his suburban hideout, catching the 8:32 train into town, pulling his knife on "El Victimo de Diaz", manhandling them back to the hideout.... and finding a family of 16, complete with blind, deaf Grannie, 2 goats, 3 pigs and a full set of Le Creuset bean re-frying apparatus have moved into the "vacant for half a day" property and are busy setting up a Taco Bell franchise.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


1. Their biscuits are never as nice as those at home
2. There are more Japanese tourists there

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hayden Cristensen

Many directors cast unknown actors in films to make sure that the audience's impression of the character is not tainted by the knowledge of the actor's previous roles. This is said to be a key reason why the Nick Cage "Superman" film was never made.

However George Lucas seems to have gone one better. In casting Hayden Christensen in the lead role in two of the biggest grossing films of all time, Star Wars II and III, he has managed to cast an actor who is not even famous AFTER appearing in the films.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The 1980's

The 1980's were a strange time in Britain.

Large sections of the workforce regularly went on strike. Sometimes for better pay and conditions, but most frequently in opposition to management's plans to close down their factories or workplaces - presumably because they were less efficient than other parts of the operation, or were simply not making as much money as they had planned.

So, stoping all production at that location was a great weapon for the strikers to use.

However, the odd thing is that this had actually worked in the past....

Go Figure.