The Highwayman

highwayman

“Hear me people. We have now to deal with another race – small and feeble when our fathers first met them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possession is a disease with them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break and the poor may not. They take their tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule”

Chief Sitting Bull speaking at the Powder River conference in 1877

A Highwayman has taken to our streets, highways and wallpaper. A horse tied to the railings at No.11 Downing Street reveals the identity of the criminal as the incumbent, Mr.George Osborne, Chancellor (and chancer) of the Exchequer. I expect he will be phoning his barrister or arranging for my transportation to a penal colony for such an accusation.

Below I present the case for the prosecution.

Under the new rules, dating back to October 2014, DVLA no longer issue the Tax Disc, which was first introduced in 1921. The new system employs the wonders of digital tech, a ”move into the modern age’ according to the Treasury, to inform, issue and collect road tax. This seems imminently sensible, whilst also removing paper waste, approx.72 tons per annum, from the system and the DVLA’s contribution to a green revolution. Well maybe. I suspect there may be a Jeremy Clarkson Design added to the Autumn Collection at Osborne and Little.

Buying a second hand car previously had sometimes the bonus of a prepaid tax disc with some months to run before having to be renewed by the new ‘keeper’. That has now gone meaning the new ‘keeper’ is immediately responsible for updating the road tax while the previous owner receives a refund. Stay with me as the devious manoeuvres of the Treasury and said Minister are yet to come.

The flip side of the new system is more Gutenberg Press than high end digital. If a vehicle sold on carries a valid tax disc with some months to run the DVLA will reimburse the owner for full calendar months as with the old system. So a vehicle sold mid month is refunded from the beginning of the following month. However the new ‘keeper’ will pay from the beginning of the month in which the vehicle is purchased. In simple terms the car is taxed twice for the same month. With 42% of motorists unaware of the implications of the changes that’s a big lump of free money to the Treasury.

When I queried the DVLA on this their pat response was ” That is the rule”. So we have a 21st Century vehicle taxing system that leans heavily on the exploits of Dick Turpin, the 18th century highwayman, or a clever wheeze the Chancellor picked up from his banking cronies.

Application of “Modern Age” technologies provide us with the ability to make measurements to the Nth decimal point, discover exo- planets in solar systems light years from our own, yet DVLA cannot divide months up into days, hours and minutes. If this ‘new’ system is to be accepted as new then someone needs their knuckles rapped Mr.Osbourne.

p.s. will it be back to wallpaper salesman after the election?

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The life of the finger

KIS

Fingers, fingers, fingers and fingers.

Not fish fingers or chocolate fingers or sticky fingers, but the fingers of the hand. Those digits that we use daily for signing, lifting, licking, pointing, poking, scratching, and picking, without a second thought. As kids we used them to investigate, to eat, to paint, counted on them, got them caught in doors, bitten by dogs, and waved hello goodbye.

We’ve even given them names:

the thumb or opposing digit allows for amazing dexterity in collaboration with it’s neighbours;

the index finger for doing just that, useful when pointing and as a substitute to language;

the middle finger mostly used to insult it seems, SWIVEL! ;

the ring finger, banded in gold. “ I do”, the longest sentence in any language;

and finally the pinky?

Answers on a postcard please.

It’s all that other stuff that would get any self-respecting digit a bad name. All that posturing that people do with their hands and fingers, an esoteric language perhaps learnt at the cost of an arm and a leg. Symbols or signs that identify an allegiance to a sect or a movement, to a victory over adversity, a pressing need to scratch ones bum in public, and of course the successful extraction of that irritating bogie that had eluded the probing finger.

And let’s not forget the religious finger pointers whose index finger points skyward for some god unknown reason. The sinister jihadis known as IS are handy with that finger. Are they indexing the real culprit behind their inhuman behaviour or is that what they would have us believe?

Answers on the same postcard.

Apropos to nothing…. Well Fingers:

In Bertrand Russell’s 1954 short story “THE MATHEMATICIAN’S NIGHTMARE: The Vision of Professor Squarepunt,” the number 5 said: “I am the number of fingers on a hand. I make pentagons and pentagrams. And but for me dodecahedra could not exist; and, as everyone knows, the universe is a dodecahedron. So, but for me, there could be no universe.”

I have a bit of a thing about polyhedra, more specifically the Platonic Solids, which have been the focus of a body of 3D works that still occupy my creative endeavours.

platonic-solids

Groundhog Day 1

Amazon1

It’s Day 1

In Britain Amazon turned £4.2bn last year and paid corporation tax of £2.4m. It pays mostly just above the minimum wage yet is feted by the British Government on the grounds of job creation in areas of high unemployment. So grateful are the Government that they have given grants in excess of Amazon’s corporation tax. The Government also pays tax credits to the ‘associates’ to top up their meagre wage. That will be from Day 1 since it’s always Day 1 with Jeff.

Amazon employs somewhere in the region of 21,000 people in Britain in several large warehouses. These Employees (‘associates’) work from Day 1 in ‘fulfilment centres’ where employment is neither secure nor fulfilling. Jeff’s inspiration for the business model is more Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ than George Lucas’ ‘American Graffiti’

The efficiency of the organisation is exemplary in its ability to deliver goods. Oh that our Government was a percentage as efficient. Instead we are lumbered with worshippers of a Golden Cow. All this edifice can really provide for the people of this country is a false profit.

Jeff is said to be canny and secretive with his future ventures. I suspect he may be developing an army of the legendary Amazonians to marshal us mere mortals to his will. Not so with Blue Origin. This is Day 1 expansionism. He is fast exhausting the Blue Planet and its inhabitants with his wilful exploitation. Such notions as ‘associate’ and ‘fulfilment centres’ are laughable in one whose corporation is a purveyor, amongst its 100 million items, of self help and self fulfillment books . The man may be a success in dot.com world on Day 1 but as a human being he’s a ‘fuckwit’.

OXFORD Dictionary

NOUN

 ‘fuckwit’      

VULGAR SLANG

A stupid or contemptible person (often used as a general term of abuse).

The Oxford Dictionary can be purchased from Amazon.

Unfortunately a social conscience, Mr. Bezos, you will not find on Amazons shelves.

 

 

Other useful definitions in the Oxford Dictionary

NOUN

associate

 Pronunciation: /əˈsəʊʃɪət

A partner or companion in business or at work

NOUN

fulfilment

Pronunciation: ful¦fil|ment

Satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s potential

Is there anybody out there?

 

seti

The search continues unabated for extra terrestrial life out there in the vastness of space. Radio telescopes are the explorer’s tool of choice. These giant dishes point at the sky in search of faint signals, which may indicate other intelligent beings in some far flung corner of the universe.

Using the Drake formula Astronomers have concluded that there are 50,000 exoplanets capable of sustaining some form of extra terrestrial life. Now Frank Drakes formula, for those of a scientific or mathematical bent, is based on assumptions and probabilities.

Drake

 

OK so far?

The boffins may rightly take exception to my take on their research, but the variables are invariable. For instance, I dare suggest that after 120 years of wireless communication we are novices in harnessing radio signals, having only recently upgraded from amplitude modulation to frequency modulation. So it’s a big ask that somewhere out there ET has the ham radio set in the attic tuned to a similar waveband. That so much energy is invested in this quest raises more questions than it can hope to answer. Even assuming we receive a signal from deep space what will be the response? A new generation of intergalactic CB enthusiasts,

”Breaker, Breaker First Mama “4 10” Big Dipper”

The more likely outcome will be the Ukippers of the planet screaming from the rooftops about health tourists, state scroungers and job thieves.

“Oh yes, we in Britain know all about that. So don’t think you’ll be welcome here with open arms intelligent or not!”

Any Intelligent Extraterrestrial checking out planet Earth will already have concluded that current world events don’t add up to a tourist friendly location not even for residents.

“I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.”      Humphery Bogart as Rick in Casablanca.

Thanks for that Rick, but we are talking seven billion isn’t that a game changer?

 

 

A tissue of lies?

green2

Mr. Sainsbury, as a customer I commend you on stocking products that reflect and promote public awareness. As a dynastic Greengrocer, who includes green products on the shelves, your green-ness has been compromised by being somewhat green when it comes to graphics. As was my own reaction, this product must surely have caused a smile or a snigger in the household department as customers browsed the shelves of toilet tissue. Recycle Toilet Tissue indeed!

The package says it all though there may be an essential piece of information or punctuation omitted. I suspect, Mr.Sainsbury, that someone was not paying attention. ttEither that or that same someone is shitting us or taking the piss, which may be concealed in the small print, since no one has noticed or they are too green to say. Conversely, having been assured that my observation is old news, I would have thought a Corporation of such standing in the best interests of commerce would have withdrawn said packaging, had litigious exchange with the graphic designer, and assured customers that the wording did not reflect on the product’s content.

As a consequence I can only conclude that the product description does indeed describe the contents accurately, a double entendre, reasoning that customers will assume, as I have, that the product has been inappropriately labeled. I suspect a smear campaign is already afoot and the truth will be flushed out. When the banks of the cesspool of incriminations finally breeches the shit, most assuredly, will hit the fan.

 

Kith and Kin

Saltire

In the inglenook of the Tam O’Shanter, Hamish and Donald are engaged in political exchange, and whisky, on the imminent referendum that could deliver Scotland’s independence from Britain.

“Well, what do ye think?” asks Hamish

“I’m no sure, Hamish. What about?”

“Scottish or British, Donald?”

“Oh Scotch everytime, Laphroaig for me” Donald replies.

“Turn up yer hearin’ aid, ya goose. I’m saying Scottish or British? Will ye vote Yes or No?”

“I’ll be votin’ Yes, so mak’ that a double!”

“Hae’ ye been followin’ the polls?”

“No, I didnae ken they’d qualified fur the World Cup.”

“Ah fur God sake, Donald, pay attention.The opinion polls, the opinion polls. Are ye followin’ me?”

“Oh aye, aye, the opinion polls ‘bout the referendum. Aye 18th September, aye I know. No I havenae”

“How will the Mother of all Parliaments, that lot at Westminster, take a Yes vote do ye think?”

The rafters of the old bar tremble and shudder with a deep and resonant voice,

Gathering her brows like gathering storm,

Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.”

“Very profound, Donald, and nae doubt true.”

“What Hamish?”

“And Cameron, I’m wonderin’ how he’ll take to a yes vote.”

“Now Hamish, what has thon wee gobshite ever done for us Scots, eh?”

“And Osborne….”

Again the rafters roar,

Ah wee sleekit, cow’rin’, timorous beastie, 

What a panic’s in tha breastie….”

“Lord, Laddie,” says Hamish,” a drop of the whisky brings out the very soul of this country in ye. We’ll ha’ another will we?”

“Aye, Hamish that wud be a Yes!”

 

Pardon my vernacular but having Scottish kith and kin allows me a little leeway. Well maybe.

 

Creation: the facts, ism

Creationism

Notice to citizens:

Planet 3

Solar 205

Galaxy 975420.

The Creator has found your case for continued occupation of Planet 3, aka, Earth to lack merit and is therefore expelling you from imaginings. With effect immediately.

See attached.

Office of Divine Intervention

 

 

Citizens,

A brief note on my intentions. You are probably going to take this as a slight to your perceived status. You are intensely up yourselves if you can take the criticism. It’s always about yourselves and yet you can’t agree among yourselves. To be perfectly honest this is getting right on my tits.

When I was younger, some eternity ago, Project Human was a constant in my ongoing creation. I sort of saved you to the last as I observed how things were going in other corners of the vastness. Not an easy task as it doesn’t leave a lot of me time. However experiments are like that, as they progress things can spiral out of control and self-destruct. That’s all part of the joy whereas you guys have this notion you’ve dreamed up, from an over indulgence in stimulants when your not indulging in procreation, that there is some sort of master plan. The irony in that is you can’t agree on who might have created this master plan as you beat each other up with fairy tales you call ‘inspired texts’. Now there’s a misnomer if ever.

When the experiment on Planet 3 began I was excited by the notion of creating something in my own likeness. It took a while to tweak what was crawling out of the swamp soup before I arrived at something that pleased me. Unfortunately it all started to go shitwards pretty rapidly. As you evolved, yes evolved ape features, you started to get notions of grandeur and superiority. Even amongst yourselves this became pronounced and has, as I’m sure you will admit at least in the privacy of your own illusion, revealed your Achilles heal.

Now, major pain that it is, I have to admit to myself that I the infallible, immutable one and only trueness got it wrong. My imaginings need re-imagining and you guys just don’t feature. Consider this a late response to your query some months back.*

God I do spend a lot of time talking to myself. If only I had some company ‘round here. Maybe I should marry.

 

*referring to An Open Letter, dated 24 March ‘13

If you’re Irish…..

Pat3It is St.Patricks Day and Paddies the world over, of all shades of opinion and hue, will lay aside their differences and contentions, at least for the day. They will, as I will, be celebrating their heritage, donning the shamrock, drinking Guinness, and singing dirges that would bring a tear to your eye for more reasons than one.

St.Patrick whom it is told was taken into slavery and spent his time as a shepherd on the slopes of Slemish, a volcanic plug in Co.Antrim. Annually pilgrims traipse up and around the mountain, come rain or rain, working up an appetite for the indulgence later.  It being the lenten season you may be forgiven for thinking that those souls who are in alcohol quarantine will indulge only in prayer, novena, and bible reading. No, no, we are much too civilised for that in 21st century Ireland. A 24 hour amnesty is a prerequisite of undertaking such an insane obligation. The good Saint must be celebrated since it was he who taught us the mysteries of the Trinity, Christianity and to abandon animism. So no more fairy trees, holy wells, and certainly no more leprechauns. Shamrock? That may not have been entirely successful.

It is reasonable to assume that the saintly captive whilst minding his herd would have heard, along with other voices, the voice of nature summon. The saintly arse would have been exposed to the elements to answer that call.  So it is not uncommon to see Pilgrims scanning the landscape with the latest technology in the hope of finding that saintly coprolite.

“If you’re Irish come into the parlour

there’s a welcome there for you….”

I wouldn’t get too exited the parlour’s tiny.

Flying in the face of reason.

Proviso

Pushing back into my seat as the aircraft hurtles down the runway and lifts into the air is a thrill, the lingering spectre of Paranoia International Airport, Belfast an irritation.

It begins at the bag drop, the first step into the moral maze, a visceral reaction reminiscent of end of term exam nerves.

“Did you pack this bag yourself? Are you carrying any of the prohibited items listed e.g. a gun, a knife, golf balls, water?”

Jesus! What do these people think I am, a terrorist? I’m going to Spain for a bit of winter sunshine not to join the International Brigade. But that’s entry level to what comes next. People who have not received counselling for sexual dysfunction or have had any hint of humour surgically removed can be found at this stage of your journey,

“ Passport and Boarding Pass. Please have any permitted liquids or cosmetics in sealable plastic bags before entering the security area.”

Right, that will be the Congo Line for penned animals, all shuffling along fidgeting with pockets and bags while trying to maintain some sense of dignity.

“ Place items in the trays provided. Remove your coat, belt, and your shoes too, sir”

Don’t be fooled by that moment of apparent civility, the Crack Squad are on standby with stun guns to take you down if you step out of line.

So all my earthly possessions are on the way to be incinerated, ok scanned for WMD, and I step, unshod, through the Pearly Gates. The scanner bleeps. Fucking ‘Bleeps!’. Eyes turn on me, fellow passengers in sympathy and relief, the securocrats in glee at the opportunity to demonstrate the efficiency of airport security in the ‘War on Terror’. In this instance that would be the infamous ‘Grey Zone’ headed to the Costa del Sol to spend their pension and save on the heating bills back home.

I’m ushered into the controversial Full Body Scanner.

‘Stand with your feet on the marks, and raise your arms above your head” Reichsfuhrer von Po-Face instructs.

Now I am a fucking criminal, the real deal, how proud my parents would be. I step from the Tardis after 3 seconds of high-octane x-ray to be confronted once again by Po-Face. For the benefit of his apprentice he indicates the ciphers on the body map betraying the WMD secreted on my person.

Cipher 1: location lower jaw; Cipher 2: waist.

I venture to ask what exactly this marvelous piece of modern security technology, costing a number with lots of zeros, has revealed. I am not given a reply but asked if I object to a further search. Now tell me, dear readers, what the answer to that question is as my recourse to consulting the oracle has failed. Po-face uses a hand-held scanner, then a thorough finger and thumb search of the waistband of my jeans.

“Would it be the endosteal implant in the molar of my posterior lower jaw and the copper rivets in the waistband of my jeans that are causing such confusion for your technology?”

A further lack of courtesy indicates that the technology, the operator and the government policy are in dire need of recalibration.

Now let me get this right. I decide my partner and I need a mid-winter break. The ease with which this can be achieved is the boon of technology. Book flights, print boarding passes, book hotels, and all so straight forward you want to congratulate yourself on savoir faire. In possession of the relevant documents you set off for the airport, with pre-paid parking voucher, to make that trip. The world of reason inverts when you step onto airport property. Customer? Customer my arse! Expect implants, fillings, dentures, piercings, and clothes to be added to the list of prohibited items, while issue of an orange boiler suit de rigueur

The Security Industry is ruling our lives. Edward Snowden has been excommunicated from the Church of the NSA for telling us so and the Sus Law now applies to 90% of the population. Airports are strangled with this nonsense and customers have become suspects.

Question: How many flights have been the subject of terrorist attack?

I can think of seven.

Question: How many flights, national and international, transit without incident annually?

The answer to that has lots of zeros.

The Security Industry will assure us that the safety of those flights is a consequence of their vigilance.

Question: Do you know why elephants paint their toenails green?

Answer: So they can hide in apple trees.

Question: Have you ever seen an elephant in an apple tree?

Answer: No, demonstrating how effective that ploy is.

A Christmas Carol

card13

The story here is really about the young Dr. Who, a Time Lord, from the planet Gallifrey. He visited Palestine at the dawn of the first millennia AD. during the reign of King Herod, whom he knew to be a thoroughly nasty bit of work. A constant force for good, it was the young Doctor, an Angel of the Lord, who advised Joseph to take Mary on vacation to Egypt, recommending scuba diving at Sharm El Sheikh; an idyll before Thomas Cook set up shop.

To mark that seminal moment in his career he availed of an opportunity to model for Gerrit van Honhorst’s C17 painting ‘Adoration of the Shepherds and Buttinsky’, and influence the creation of a faithful record of the event. The real give away is that The Beano was not published until the mid 20th century and the ingenious young Dr. Who has managed to warp time in two significant historic periods. Time Travel provided a certain advantage and foreknowledge of events, so with Christmas Beano Annual tucked under his arm he knew exactly where to find a well lit barn to catch up with The Bash Street Kids and Dennis the Menace. An avid fan of comic books provided his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Who, with gift purchase solutions for eternity with the consequence that the Doctor has the most extensive collection of comic books in the universe.

He has a reputation for stirring it as he shifts from time to time. One such outcome is a well-documented meeting with Charles Dickens, a Victorian journalist and novelist. The Doctor over indulged in a London alehouse, ‘The Travellers Arms’, frequented by Mr. Dickens and had great sport with the man telling him tales of corporate greed in the 21st century. Dickens made mention of this encounter in the Pickwick Papers but not the content of the conversation nor his source. However the subject of Jeff Bezos and Amazon were intimately discussed which inspired Mr. Dickens novel ‘A Christmas Carol’ providing the main character Ebenezer Scrooge of Scrooge and Marley. Always a cautious man Mr. Dickens changed the names, era and setting to avoid potential future legal action. However the Doctor, Time Traveller and Lothario moved on to stir it another time in another time.

Authors note: I must apologise to Gerrit van Honhorst, I have zero bones to pick with the Old Bas…Master and I’m grateful for his catalogue of iconic paintings to which I can relate, revise, and redistribute to a brand new audience. I’m pretty sure he would appreciate interpretations though of course I can’t be certain, nor do I really care as he’s not about to come knocking on my door or, for that matter, send in the thugs to redistribute my facial features.

Merry Christmas.