More Nonsense From _Paul_And_Land_

Month: March, 2014

Shock. Horror. And more shock.

In a shock move which will shock both supporters of and detractors of Scottish Independence, it seems that the Grand Duchy of Fenwick (reknowned home of Margaret Rutherford played by Grand Duchess Gloriana XIII: “It’s that nasty tin thing again!”) has ceded Scotland overnight.   Mr Alec Fish-Cake (75% Salmon) was unavailable for comment although rumours are neither rife nor rife that he may be the first Scot in space when one considers the plot of the famous 1963 moving picture “The Mouse That Roared”: The Tiny Country of Grand Fenwick has a hot water problem in their castle.   As a ruse to get the money necessary to put in a new set of plumbing, they request foreign aid from the U.S. for Space Research.  The Russians then send aid as well to show that they too are for the internationalization of space.  While Rutherford (played by Grand Duchess Gloriana XIII) is dreaming of hot baths, their one scientist is actually knocking together a rocket.  Readers may or may not recall that both the U.S. and the Russians got wind of the impending launch and resulted in both Buzz “Buzz” Aldrin and “Stretch” Armstrong being the first and second people on the unaformentioned moon.

Other potential candidates for the honour of a joint Grand Duchy of Fenwick and Scotland space cadet include tax exile Sean Connery and Peter Sallis who, alongside Grommit, has a vast experience of space exploration and the technology thereby associated.  Neither were available for comment.  Similarly, Alistair Carmichael, Secretary of Scottishness in Her Maj’s Government was not available for comment given the thickness of the concrete on his present bunker.  Readers may or may not recall said Mr Carmichael’s comments regarding Scottishness recently when he commented “in fact the truth of the matter is there is no such  thing as homogenous Scottish or homogenous English values”.  Strong words, we think you would agree but, as yet, no comment from Her Maj’s Government on the planned Scottish space exploration project .

Interestingly, and trying to stitch the various ideas together seamlessly (which as any four year old Indonesian knocking out cheap tee-shirts will tell tell you is virtually impossible) we were contacted by a local farmer.  Mr R. Burns, who is, it would seem quite an authority on Scottishness and, strangely, on mice as well as being a reknowned ploughhman offered us some very sound words.  Apologies to people, such as Mr Carmichael, who are unable to parley Scottishness but Mr Burns does have a strong accent:

Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in thy breastie! Thou need na start awa sae hasty, Wi’ bickering brattle! I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee, Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion Has broken Nature’s social union, An’ justifies that ill opinion, Which makes thee startle, At me, thy poor, earth-born companion, An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve; What then? poor beastie, thou maun live! A daimen-icker in a thrave ‘S a sma’ request: I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave, An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin! It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin! An’ naething, now, to big a new ane, O’ foggage green! An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin, Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ wast, An’ weary Winter comin fast, An’ cozie here, beneath the blast, Thou thought to dwell, Till crash! the cruel coulter past Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble, Has cost thee monie a weary nibble! Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble, But house or hald. To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble, An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane, In proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me! The present only toucheth thee: But Och! I backward cast my e’e, On prospects drear! An’ forward, tho’ I canna see, I guess an’ fear!


Considering the gentleman’s predicament with his expanding doobry, we thought it wise to look into the relative safety of public transport methods compared against other forms of transport.  You see, it’s a classic case of the public perception of risk being out of tune with the real stuff.  Indeed, in these days of dominance by the scare-loving media – “Don’t eat margarine, it will kill you”, “Pencils, a sure cause of IBS”, “Pernod is bad for your parts” – and a Government steered by focus groups, the public perception is a highly volatile matter.  Statistics too, wobble about all over the shoppe particularly when you’re having a sniff around the ol’ public transport department and where one incident can cause a large number of fatalities.

Another feature of transport risk is that the impact of the numbers is very dependent on how you represent them.  Basically, and stay with us here because this is quite interesting, there are three possible ways of quoting transport risk; in terms of distance travelled, the number of journeys made or the length of time taken in travelling.  Interested parties, you will not be surprised to read, tend to favour the the one that best suits their own purposes, the sneaky wee things!

The air transport industry, for example, will almost always choose a per km basis, which is optimum for them, as most fatalities occur on landing and take-off, while the intervening distances are large*.  Land based transport, including buses obviously will, in contrast, select fatalities per number of journeys or hours of travel, since the risks are uniformly spread.  So wahay, they’re all able to demonstrate that theirs is the safest form of transport.  Now for the nitty-gritty, these is the real numbers: the actual statistics (taken from an article by Roger Ford in Modern Railways, Oct 2000 (always an unmissable read) and based on a DETR survey). They record the number of fatalities per billion km, journeys or hours of travel.




Air 0.05

Bus 4.3

Bus 11.1

Bus 0.4

Rail 20

Rail 30

Rail 0.6

Van 20

Air 30.8

Van 1.2

Car 40

Water 50

Water 2.6

Foot 40

Van 60

Car 3.1

Water 90

Car 130

Pedal cycle 44.6

Air 117

Foot 220

Foot 54.2

Pedal cycle 170

Pedal cycle 550

Motorcycle 108.9

Motorcycle 1,640

Motorcycle 4,840

Clearly, the one thing that stands out like a sore thumb is that, whichever way you look at it, motorcycles are quite the most dangerous form of transport.  Indeed, if you take into account the relative youth of their victims, by recording loss of quality life expectancy rather than just deaths, they dwarf the usual suspects of political correctness, such as tobacco and alcohol, which mainly afflict the elderly.

But what’s this, buses and trains are the safest form of transport by any measure, despite the press furore that greets any particular incident.  The constantancy with which more personal forms of transport, including strolling about aimlessly, knock off the population does not produce the sort of numbers that excite the media.  So don’t forget, go by bus, it’s safer.

This was a public safety announcement from the relative safety of _Paul_And_Land_.

*Don’t let this ruin your holiday in Tunisia.

Throw a Party, it’s bloggy-thing #200

Goodness me, can you believe it, it’s bloggy-thing #200 so we’re going to celebrate in real style: a story about buses.  Calm oneself, waft your betroubled brow with a pizza house menu.  What’s that, you haven’t got a pizza house menu?  Hold on I’m moving to your neck of the woods as I’m almost buried in the darned things!  Who eats all those pizzas.  I most certainly don’t and I don’t think anyone else does either.  It does explain the collapse of the great Fish and Chip Industry though, a total lack of advertising.  I don’t recall a single Fish and Chip menu bothering my letter box but then again a menu with only two items (Fish and Chips) would be somewhat wasteful on the old paper resources, wouldn’t it?  Where were we, buses.

And another flipping thing whilst we trawl the entirely missable story of pizza, where do they come from?  Italy, so why are all these pizza places owned, staffed and owned and staffed by anything but Italians.  Turks, Greeks, Iranians, Lebanoners, people from Workington and even Norwegians.  Not an Italian in sight, not in the retail world of pizza.  And spotty young chaps with a bad taste in trousers and awfully loud cars.  What the blue buggery is it all about?  If you went in a chip shop and were not greeted by a over-sized lady wearing a lab-coat, you’d be out of there like a Jack Russell chasing sheep.  Or rabbits.  Or a ball.  Or a stick.  Buses, yes.

Being a frequent traveller on the individual members of a fleet of motor-coaches that criss-cross this fine place, one becomes accustomed to ones fellow travellers.  And lady travellers too but that sentence would have looked wrong.  Entirely. And now I sound all sexist.  Hang on I’ll start again: Being a frequent traveller on the individual members of a fleet of motor-coaches that criss-cross this fine place, one becomes accustomed to other travellers.  That’s better.  Oh and dogs.  And cats.  I recall seeing a rabbit on a bus one time.  One of those with floppy ears, I think it was going to see the vet because that was what the floppy eared rabbit’s owner was rabbiting on about.  That very poor joke was for free and quite rightly so.  This bloggy-thing #200 is becoming over-run with rabbits rather like Australia.  And toads that are poisoning all the other animals.  It’s true, look it up on the internet.

Buses.  Yes, well you see, when you travel on buses you have to wait at bus stops.  Well you don’t have to but it would rather defeat the object if you stood in your kitchen waiting for a bus.  Unless your kitchen is a bus stop which I very much doubt.  There may be a bus stop outside your kitchen but your kitchen is not the bus stop, so stop being bloody pedantic.  Alright, your kitchen is a bus stop can we now move on.  No, I refuse to accept that your upstairs toilet is a bus stop even for flipping double deckers.  Oooh, I like a Double Decker, they’re just the job.  Lovely chocolate and a very tasty interior.  Unlike Melvyn Hayes: get on board, get on board, when you ride with Double Deckers.  See what you’ve done now, I’ve gone off at a tangent and I’ve got an interesting story about a bus stop.  You see, I was stood at the bus stop this morning, waiting for a bus strangely enough, and this chap started talking to me.  He happened to mention that he used to live in Southend.  Of itself, that is of little interest.  Many people live or have lived in Southend at some point, but what made the chat a little more interesting was this chap’s story about Pernod.  It seems that one night he went out on the razz and drank a lot of said Pernod.  He awoke in the morning to find that the meat of his meat and two veg was the size of a tennis ball and he got signed off work for a couple of days.  So if you want a couple of days off work, drink a lot of Pernod.  Make sure your insurance is up to date though and that there’s enough in your account to pay for a decent send off because it could, as my wee pal Raiph would say, all go horribly rang!!

Red Square and Testicles.

News has filtered down finally of a fine piece of artwork installed in Red Square M0ss-Gow (as our American cousins would say).  Or perhaps not, get me Mr Obama in the phone pronto for clarification.

It would seem that ballsy Russian performance artist, Pyotr Pavlensky, was hospitalised after stripping naked and nailing his testicles to a Red Square cobblestone in protest against the Kremlin’s crackdown on political rights.  A video of the graphic action, available on Russian websites, showed artist Pyotr Pavlensky sitting naked outside Lenin’s Mausoleum being covered with a blanket by police officers while horrified passersby looked on.  The former Russian leader was not available for comment.

The Saint Petersburg-based artist said in a statement posted on the Grani.ru website that he was trying to draw attention to Russian society’s inaction in the face of the development of a “police state”.  Our hero is no stranger to pain as previously he sewed his lips together as a demonstration against the jailing of two female members of Pussy Riot and he was also arrested curiously after wrapping his naked body in barbed wire outside a Saint Petersburg Government Office.  No such goings on will be taking place in the bright sunny uplands of _Paul_And_Land_, we can assure you.  Although there is growing concern that a planned visit to our blessed place by Pope Gregory the Great (540 – 604) could be marred by overly loud singing and shouting and chanting and other things as the visit coincides with a visit by internationally reknowned soccer heroes the Botswana Meat Commission FC to play our own soccering heroes, The _Paul_And_Land_Arms_ Ladies First 11.

Big Helga from Crewe, who some of you may recall was at the centre of a tattoo scandal whereby a tattoo was tattooed upon one of our own residents untattooed body declaring undying love for Big Helga from Crewe, has been brought into the team at very little expense and will be shoring up the defence from the turret of her own Panzer tank, Maurice.

Although things are still at a hush-hush stage, Pope Gregory the Great (540 – 604) is understood to be a big fan of Botswana Meat Commission FC and so may have timed his visit accordingly.  Having being dead for over 1400 years he was unavailable for comment.

Tickets for both events are available from behind the bar of The _Paul_And_Land_Arms_ with a complimentary Pie and Pea Supper.

Ironing Corduroy

There are two simple passions in my life: corduroy and the love of ironing.  To iron corduroy is the greatest pleasure but even the smell of crisp clean cotton under steam brings out a joy otherwise surpressed.  The simple challenges of darts, tucks and pleats are true beauty as is the satisfaction of an empty ironing basket and a cupboard full of clothes cleaned, pressed and ready to slip into.  Most people would think “you’re crazy” but, as a passion, it’s entirely harmless and gives me a sense of pleasure.

To be honest, ironing is like any kind of cleaning job, mindless, yet you have a tangible, satisfying, positive result at the end.  Yet, to me, it’s almost some type of meditation: ironing Zen, enlightment through sweet aromas, warmth of fabric to the hand and the removal of creases in that fabric.  Being at one with the board (mine, a super cheap metallic and aquamarine covered friend) and the powered heat producer.  Being somewhat minimal in my taste, it’s a cheap, yet trusty, travel iron in burgundy and white. A thing of beauty unsullied by limescale or over-heating.

I used to iron watching a film or the TV but it distracted from the pure simple pleasure of the ironing.  Now I iron with the laptop belting out music.  For me the best is a bit of Hard House, Lisa Lashes is the present favourite, but overall anything with a pounding beat does the trick.  And at 240 BPM you soon get into a trance-like state.

Now you see some people take ironing to extremes and call it, strangely enough, Extreme Ironing. They pack their boards up mountains, dive to the ocean floor or attempt to iron clothes in a fast-moving boat or while bungee-jumping.  Not my style though, compared to them, my ironing ways are unimaginably dull.  But it gives me unbridled pleasure and meditative, contemplative time, unhurried and at one with the tools, the fabrics and my own soul. Now for part two: Corduroy.

Corduroy is a beautiful fabric composed of twisted fibres that, when woven, lie parallel to one another, forming the cloth’s distinct pattern, Modern corduroy is most commonly composed of tufted cords, sometimes exhibiting a channel (bare to the base fabric) between the tufts. Corduroy is, in essence therefore, a ridged form of velvet and who doesn’t love velvet.  However, as a fabric, corduroy is a far more durable cloth than velvet and its beauty is found in trousers, shirts and super-soft jackets.

At risk of getting a bit technical, corduroy is made by weaving extra sets of fibre into the base fabric to form vertical ridges called wales.  The wales are built so that clear lines can be seen when they are cut into pile and the width of the cord is commonly referred to as the size of the “wale” (i.e. the number of ridges per inch).  The lower the “wale” number, the thicker the width of the wale (e.g., 4-wale is much thicker than 11-wale).  Corduroy’s wale count per inch can vary from 1.5 to 21, although the traditional standard falls somewhere between 10 and 12.  Wide wale is more commonly used in trousers and furniture upholstery whereas medium, narrow, and fine wale fabrics are usually found in garments worn above the waist. Other names exist for corduroy such as corded velveteen, elephant cord, pin cord, Manchester cloth and and the plain and simple cord.

But what makes corduroy special is the process of colouring it with pigment dyes.  The dye is applied to the surface of the fabric after the garment is cut and sewn.  When washed, during the final phase of the manufacturing process, the pigment dye washes out in an irregular way, creating a vintage look.  Thereafter the colour of each garment becomes softer with each washing and as such, there is a subtle colour variation from one garment to another.  No two are alike, each is unique, just as are the beautiful people who dare to don it. G’wan, get yourself out and get some.