JD’s Bugbears: January Edition

Standard

skinny jeans

Skinny Jeans on Men (and most women)

Here’s the thing – you look like you have rickets. It’s not a good look because you need a certain body type and shape for it to work and too often it’s the overly thin people who wear them because they think it looks good, the truth is you look ill. It’s not jealousy on my part because I’m a porker, because even if I had the waistline and legs it wouldn’t be something I would wear. The other thing is you are paying more money and getting less product – where’s the sense in that when the economy is still struggling. Have a think and get yourself a decent pair or breeks!

Receipts that aren’t receipts

We live in a world where self service tills are becoming the norm. We are able to pop in to a shop like Boots, Markies or a supermarket and get something quickly and escape. Well we could if we didn’t have to wait five minutes for the fifteen random bits of receipt roll we are all issued with to pass before we finally get our actual receipt. It’s like spam emails but in a shop. “£5 off every £40 spend on cosmetics” well thanks very much but I just want a sandwich and to get out of here. Mind you there is the bigger issue here of companies offering all these discounts when they could just reduce the price in the first place. Which leads me to…

Sky pricing plans

Why is it you can offer me all the best deals when I’m not a customer? I realise I could have said this about banks or insurance companies as well, but there’s a real cheek from Sky to wait until you are unhappy before they decide you deserve to be rewarded for leaving – or at least threaten to. How is it I can be offered Movies and Sports for 50% for 3 months but you happily charged me £30 or so for months before that? I haven’t the time to constantly leave and rejoin, so please reduce your prices and keep your customers you greedy gits.

Immigration Ignorance

While I understand there are pressure points in the system and in specific geographical areas of the UK, we do not have a huge issue in this country with immigrants. The vast majority come here to work and live as we do and we should welcome them. In fact rather than getting behind the BNP or BNP Lite (UKIP) I suggest that we start trawling the lazy British people who sit and do nothing, who scrounge off the state rather get off their capable backsides and work – and we swap them for decent hardworking people who want to live here and improve the culture and society. The constant scaremongering that surrounds immigration is an embarrassment to a country who historically invaded everywhere else and currently goes to work and live in other countries to put up barriers and stop others coming here. “They don’t speak the language”..wonder how many Brits living in Spain speak Spanish?

Justin Bieber being “news”

Unless he cracks the meaning of life he’s not news. He’s a spoilt, pathetic, overrated singer who is just the latest brand of pop flavoured chewing gum to clog up the teenybopper’s ears. He is an irrelevance and any self-respecting parent should remove his “music” and influence from their child’s life unless they are saying that it’s a good thing to be arrested, to be drunk or high when driving, to assault a driver, to throw eggs at neighbours houses. I understand he’s young and you or I would more than likely push the boundaries too if we had his fame of money but you think someone around him would at least try to protect him from himself. It’s sad more than anything else – but then so are the events in Ukraine with the potential civil war; Central African Republic’s issues; Russia & India’s mistreatment of LGBT groups and individuals; those still trapped in floods in the south of England and many other real news stories – Bieber doesn’t belong in with those. His situation is not of a level to be heard alongside these true human tragedies.

JD

Talking the talk

Standard

stupid-people

 

There are certain places in life you find yourself trying not to say things; biting your tongue for the good of the vague note of sanity that’s left in the world. I used to think that buses (or Mugglewagons to give them their official name – see http://wp.me/pJh58-EN for details) were the main eejit emporium in the universe until I started working in a place that meant I had to take the lift several times a day. Now I know differently.

I’m not saying that people here are stupid because that’s a terrible and unkind thing to say, but there seems to be something about an enclosed space that turns fairly normal people into complete dunderheids of the highest order. There are so many occasions in the last few months I have heard some or all of a conversation that would flummox even the most patient of angels and sent them into a schism of apoplexy. (Good name for a band that) Those who know me – or have read enough of these posts – will know that my annoyance thresh hold is quite low and my face was not made for poker. More often than not I have given away my hand by practically shouting “What?” across the metal box.

It’s like a small captive audience for those who feel awkward in silent moments to burst forth and make a comment of some sort. I’m fine with the small talk if the doors are slow or the inevitable stop at each floor that allows the shared roll of the eyes among strangers. But there’s the loud annoying dafties that have to continue personal conversations that is crushingly embarrassing for everyone including their friends; those who think it will be original to use the phrase “It’s cosy” in a full lift; and those who decide to carry on speaking on their phones only to utter the line – “I’m in the lift I might lose…you still there?”

[Speaking of which this who handless mobile nonsense – don’t stand in queues doing it please especially if you are standing behind me telling the person on the other end of the call that you “love” them and “respect their wishes” as happened to me in the bank at lunchtime – it’s just weird]

Mind you the opposite is even worse when it turns into the social convention that rules the London Underground – stare at the floor; don’t make eye contact; don’t speak. There’s a metaphorical holding of breath until you get out as it is so awkward a situation. No one willing to ask you to press a floor number for you they’d rather wriggle through the crowd and do it themselves – almost as if you look like a cheeky wee scamp that would ignore them or stab them if you spoke to them.

I should start taking a wee notepad in there each time and write some of the nonsense down – then again it’s good to try and forget it as soon as it’s said before my face stops scrunching up at the idiotic utterances and makes noises itself.

JD

Avenue Q: Funny’s getting serious

Standard

Ave q cast

 

Three weeks today is the band call and four weeks today it’ll all be over – going to be strange once it’s all done, but first we have to get through it all!

Sitting on Wednesday night watching Ru and Sophie performing “Racist” you can see just how far we’ve all come. The way they were manipulating the puppets and interacting was brilliant – as good as when I saw the professionals at HMT a couple of years ago. There is so much talent in the cast – and that’s not just a “oh they’re all great” comment, I genuinely mean it – the acting, singing and skill overall is fantastic and it really makes you want to do your best to not let them down. We’re all more than aware of the closeness of the first night and that is producing some great scenes and performances already – just hope we don’t peak too soon. It is a much more difficult challenge than we thought it would be because you have to learn everything and then double that up with a puppet – even the humans have the extra dimension of the furry friends to act with and to.

The other thing that is starting to add the pressure is the knowledge that the Saturday night performance is already sold out before we even get near the venue which is great news; while it’s not the largest venue to know that all the seats are taken up already is both brilliant and scary. The other nights are starting to fill out as well and it would be great to see as close to full houses each night to repay all the hard work that everyone has put into it. The link for tickets is below and it’d be great to have you along if you’re free.

For me personally I’m still tripping over the words and trying to consolidate the lines in my head – it’s almost as if the more you try to remember them the less they go in. I’m going to have to try a few different approaches to sort it out because it’s not enough to ad-lib because both your fellow performers and the band need to have specific cues to bring them in and while I know the essence of the lines I’m buggered if I can get them right. There’s the added pressure of the production team ready to give you your line if it goes wrong and as soon as you get that line you get so flustered the rest of the scene disintegrates too. Thank goodness the part isn’t any bigger or I’d be in trouble. Knowing how my brain (sometimes) works it will click just at the last minute but that’s no consolation to the cast or production team around me forgetting everything. Knowing that there will be friends and family for all but one of the performances is the incentive I need to get it right.

Another big difficulty is trying to publicise the show as it appears to be a puppet based show with songs but the themes and language are definitely not child friendly so when the Evening Express came along the other night trying to keep the language and info about it all PG so it is printable and broadcast-able isn’t the easiest. At Christmas kids would come up to meet the puppets when were out carolling and singing and it’s trying to then explain to the parents what the show is really about. Once you explain it though I think as a show it’s one that appeals to the non am-dram and musical crowd. It taps into a more comedy based audience rather than those who would go along to a touring company of a Lord Webber or Cameron Mackintosh show – the quirkiness, rudeness and humour is much more suited to those who go to see stand up and other humour shows.

The show is on at Aberdeen Arts Centre from Wednesday 19th until Saturday 22nd February 2014 with shows at 7.30pm each night and a matinée on the Saturday Afternoon at 2.30pm. Tickets are only £13 (£11 for concessions) plus booking fee from http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/events/avenue-q unless booked directly with the cast (Email me about it at jd@johnduncan.co.uk) I look forward to seeing you there. 

JD

50p tax rate sounds good, but isn’t

Standard

Money 2

 

Yeah tax the fat cats! Let’s get those greedy bastards to pay their share! Why should they get a tax cut and we don’t!

It’s one of those policies that sounds great but all the evidence out here shows that actually it does very little to help anyone and will not raise anything like the money you think it will. Ed Balls is not really doing this for financial reasons, instead it’s a calculated move to make the Labour party look like the party of the working bloke and wifie on the street. With Miliband’s attack on the banks and now this they are slowly positioning themselves  to the left of centre to put lines between themselves and the other two main parties – and it’s working. Labour is in the lead in the polls with just over a year to go until the next general election – the Tories will claw back some ground and the result of this year’s Independence Referendum in Scotland will also have a big effect on next year’s result – but already they are beginning to set out the kind of party they would be in power.

The 50p rate of tax is a great soundbite and when brought in under Brown & Darling it was there to remind voters at the 2010 election that they were still the everyman’s natural choice. The reality was though that the top rate only had an impact on the top 1% of earners in the country. Now you and I don’t live in that world, but I can tell you without much hesitation that anyone earning that much is using the legal loopholes through their accountants or finding ways to ensure that the money that would get taxed at that top rate will be protected elsewhere. And is that a bad thing? If you work to the point you are earning that much then maybe you deserve to only pay 45% – I think a lot of it is based on jealousy.

The only place I think that we do need to tighten up is on bonuses awarded. Many companies get round their employees paying tax at upper rates or on too much of their wages is through paying them in bonuses. That whole area of tax and avoidance is one that the Chancellor will always avoid as it is the one that really hits the top hardest. If Ed Balls was really serious about “balancing the books” and “being in excess by 2020” then this is the area which needs the attention. Business does have too much power on politics and we need to redress the balance more to ensure that if you work hard you are rewarded, but not at the expense of others, communal or national services and employees further down the pecking order.

JD

Mad, Bad and now Dangerous

Standard

Farage bloody

King of Fuckwittery strikes again as the UKIP leader opens his mouth and allows his arsepiece to shout through him toward the microphones. We’ve enjoyed a large helping of ubertwattery of late from the modern day Loony Party with homophobia, racism, sexism, misogyny and downright ignorance as the idiotic cherry on the shitcake – but today’s “policy” announcement shows what a rabid cockwomble this man actually is.

From Today’s Daily Telegr*ph: “Mr Farage said the current ban on the guns, which were made illegal following the school shooting at Dunblane in 1996, was “ludicrous.” Speaking on LBC Radio Mr Farage said that it was Ukip policy to create a “proper licensing policy” and that people who kept hand guns responsibility locked up and had were willing to get an official license should “absolutely” be allowed them.”

Where do you start with an idea that lack any understanding of the country he represents as an MEP? He calls the law that Labour brought in on Handguns after the Cullen Inquiry investigated the massacre of 16 young children and their teacher in Dunblane as “Knee-jerk”. He wants people to be able to defend themselves and have a licence system to allow people in the UK to own Handguns to protect themselves. At what point does it seem like a good idea to bring guns into our lives in this country? I am genuinely shocked at the complete lack of self-awareness this c*nt has for what he says.

Even if you consider the issues that have surrounded the reliability of the crime statistics that were announced the other day crime is going down and overall has been for many years, however gun crime is still a problem in the larger inner cities where there has been a rise in fatal shootings. Do we really want to add to this? The move would mean we would have to arm our police on the streets; it would increase the risk of school shootings; of gangs using even more weapons that they currently do; of legal weapons being used by those who aren’t licensed to carry or use them. There are no positives to this idea at all. None.

Who is Farage actually trying to attract to his party here – he is in the UK not the Tea Party supporting Deep South of the US. The lessons learned from across the pond are stark, shocking and could not be used as a template for anything but the disintegration of society as we know it. The only people who would venture to the ballot box because of this policy are people who really don’t deserve a vote in the first place. You would have to be seriously unhinged to think that having a gun in your house – under lock and key or not – makes you or your family safer.

The sooner this horrible skidmark on the y-fronts of politics is washed away the better. He is not the eccentric, old fashioned Englishman as he portrays himself as – if he genuinely believes this, would make the UK a better country, he is a danger to the future of it. And you thought Boris was bad…

JD

India – a long road for a big country

Standard

India

This amazing country has appeared in the news too often recently for the terribly shocking and Neanderthal approaches to sex, sexuality and justice. Since the worldwide condemnation of the gang rape of a female student on a Delhi bus two years ago it seems that the country that portrays itself as a democratic country is still harking back in communities to the old rules of tribalism. The latest story is the crime of falling in love. Yes you read that correctly – a couple who fell in love have now been on the receiving end of the kangaroo court and rough justice of a tribe in northern India.

The story of the young couple in love is a simple one, but has a strange and sick ending. The non-tribal boyfriend of five years was visiting his girlfriend and was away to propose when the two were dragged before the tribal elders and charged with the crime of falling in love. Because he was not of their tribe they were both punished by a fine, the man’s family could afford it but the woman’s could not. What did they do instead? 13 men raped the woman and left her in a life threatening condition. This is the something that seems absurd in the year 2014 for a country that we are told is on the brink of becoming one of the most powerful and rich countries on earth – but the reality is with a billion of a population it’s not that simple.

This is the account of the “crime” from the BBC Website: ” Clan-based village councils made up of local elders wield great influence over life in large swathes of rural India and often mete out punishments for offences deemed to contravene local traditions and mores.Although honour killings, sanctioned by unofficial courts that are common in parts of northern India, are unheard of in the tribal Santhal community, women are still treated as second class citizens.” Sexual attacks of this nature are not unusual and since the 2012 attack the spotlight has been shone on several of these types of cases.

Then there is the recent action by the Supreme Courts to overturn the 2009 decision to decriminalise gay sex. At the end of last year the action was taken much to the horror of politicians and the public alike throwing away all the work that had been done to allow those repressed by an archaic law. India is in trouble at the moment and needs a steady hand to ensure it doesn’t lose the focus and direction that it looked like having at one point.

I know there are numerous other countries out there who ignore laws and have questionable decisions and huge issues with corruption all the time – the biggest worry that along with India, Brazil, China and Russia are the emerging financial nations (Known as the BRIC group) with the new MINT collection of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey following on behind there is a lot of concern. While the G7/G8 are not perfect there are huge issues connected with human rights, suppression of populations and information, democracy and attitudes that are more suited to the pages of history, “The West” are going to have to ask themselves some very difficult questions before falling into bed with anymore of these new potential fiscal superpowers.

Money is one thing, but looking at the actions being taken in India, Russia and China’s heads of government you have to ask if we are ready to change our outlook and attitude just for the trade and financial security?

JD

This post might not be for you…

Standard

freedom_of_speech_thumb

From the Human Rights Act:

Article 10: Right to freedom of expression

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by a public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent states from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for the maintaining of the authority and impartiality of the judiciary. 

Having your words monitored rather than read and used against you is a dangerous game to play. While I might not always be right in my opinions I always express them honestly and never aim to do harm to anyone – unless they work for the Daily Mail obviously, then it’s open season. Over the last twelve months or so some have used my words and ideas against me – knowingly or not. I have no issue with you reading and engaging in a discussion, but I feel that lines have – and are – being crossed with regard to me and my blog.

Yesterday was the 63rd Anniversary of the death of Eric Arthur Blair and I feel that we are as a country sliding towards the world he envisaged in his most powerful book (Google his name if you don’t know who I’m talking about). Yes my blog is a publicly available thing and I understand that not everyone will agree with what I say or respect the privacy that I have beyond the publications I write, but I ask you to consider what it is that you hope to gain from continuing this task you’ve been given. It’s not for my benefit or yours.

JD

PS If you don’t understand a word of that, then I’m glad. 🙂