Monday, June 30, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Haven't you? Well these guys did. If you must fly somewhere this Summer, ignoring the irreversible damage that you're doing to the environment, your finances and your sanity, then just make sure you make plenty of noise while you're airborne.
After all, it seems to happen a lot.
Quite a lot
It's not that surprising, when you think about it.
And if the price of keeping the pilot awake is to be Tasered by an overzealous Sky Marshal, then so be it.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
As chance would have it, sometime between booking and checking in something untoward must have occurred, because my wife was demonstrably up the duff by the time we landed in Barcelona.
Consequently, the entire week was marked by eposodes of morning sickness, early nights, and afternoon naps. It was fortuitous that Spanish TV was showing George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy on a non-stop loop that week, dubbed into Spanish of course but I already knew who everyone was and what was going to happen and I’m not too bad at Spanish. Well, I say not too bad. I only know a few words but I’m astoundingly cocky so I’ll just have a go and expect to be understood.
By the end of the week we’d hardly spent any money. Now you can’t possibly come back from a city break without having bankrupted yourself. It was time to book the most expensive restaurant in Barcelona.
Which is, if you weren’t aware, some Catalan gaff where everything is painted white and the menu, by dint of being printed in Catalan, is upsettingly hard to read. Catalan isn’t like proper Castilian Spanish, the kind you get in phrase books. Catalan is more like cryptic Welsh Sudoku. There are more Xs on a Catalan menu than there are in a teenage girl’s email. No-one can read the things. To exacerbate matters, the waitress had formed the distinct impression that I was a cocky Londoner who spoke Spanish at approximately toddler standard and had chosen to punish me by electing to negotiate my dining options exclusively in Catalan.
I struggled for quite some time with the menu. My various food intolerances (gluten, tomatoes, foreign muck) weren’t helping much. Eventually I found something that looked as if it might be rice-based. Rice is great. You can make pudding out of rice.
The only issue was, I couldn’t quite make out what might be with the rice. My entreaties for guidance from the waitress were met with bloody-minded Catalan jibberjabber that I probably could have understood, had I but been brainier or more Spanish or something.
Anyway, the one scrap of information I could elicit was that the rice contained ‘marisco’. I had no clue what marisco might be, but frankly the explanations had gone a bit too long, and it was getting a trifle embarrassing. My wife’s contribution to the sketch was to say “ooh, marisco, nice” . That was good enough for me I went with the marisco rice.
As soon as the waitress had gone I asked Mrs Moran what I’d ordered. She had no idea either. She’d just said something positive to defuse the tension.
It later transpired that marisco means, if it means anything, seafood. It can cover a multitude of evils.
The evil in this case was a bed of rice surmounted by a white, five-fingered something that was bony, and possessed of a pallid, rubbery flesh that tasted mostly of nothing.
To this day, I have no idea what I ate. And I don’t want to know.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
You might have skimmed the biographical note at the beginning and thought 'yes, you say you made some tolerable but not remotely successful records but what were they like?'
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Or you can just poke around the blog and find stuff. There's another extract somewhere, some slightly comical news items and even an alternative Olympic logo, for some reason...
Wherever you’re going, it’s a safe bet that you’ve got more disposable income than most of the people that are there. The farther you go, the greater the disparity will grow. Now, money isn’t everything but it can more-or-less buy everything and so it ends up figuring rather significantly in the minds of people who haven’t got so much of it. I’m not suggesting that your squandering conspicuous sums of money on international travel will engender the sort of resentment that, say, the self-indulgence of the French Royal court did in 1789, or the lavish excesses of the Russian aristocracy in 1917. No, Not a bit of it: The fops and dandies in question interacted very little with the peasantry, yet still annoyed them enough to precipitate a bloody revolution. Tourists are there in the people’s face every day for the whole bloody Summer. Which leads us to…
A lot of foreign travel involves cities. Even if you think you’re going to a bit of exotic countryside you’re bound to end up flying into an airport on the fringes of some major conurbation and then getting a train or taxi through the city centre to your destination. Let’s hope it is a taxi, because that’s just an annoying car like so many others and unlikely to give rise to too much smouldering resentment. If you’re on a train or an underground system of sort you’ll be dragging assorted pieces of bulky luggage around with you, scuffing the shins of pedestrians with your suitcase, obliviously crushing the newspapers of tube travellers with your rucksack, or tripping absolutely everybody up with one of those spectacularly annoying trolley-bag affairs. You may think that you’re having enough trouble struggling from airport to hotel or train terminus, but the people you’re inadvertently barging into are on their way to or from work, and were probably in a fairly bad mood before you clattered into them with your skis. Which rather calls to mind..
The joy, such as it is, of visiting a foreign city is stopping to look up at the interesting architectural features, unexpected poor weather, or strange and unusual birds that are about to defecate on your head. The drawback to these simple pleasures of course is that every time you stop to rubberneck at an exotic-looking and mildly pornographic advertising hoarding you will cause a concertina of collisions in the ‘long tail’ of fast-moving locals behind you who have seen all this stuff before and are just trying to get to where they’re going before the monsoon rains kick in. Which naturally takes us to..
You’ve got lots of it. The people you’re asking for directions have little or none. The people behind you in the queue for overpriced cups of coffee have even less. Words do not exist to describe the depth of their hatred for you. Please remember that in many other countries knives and guns are more commonly carried than they are in – say – Royal Tonbridge Wells. Which takes us rather neatly to..
5: Money (again)
The presence of a large group of people with substantial amounts of disposable income, generous amounts of leisure time to fill and no way of storing or cooking fresh food tends to skew the local economy somewhat in the direction of overpriced coffee or sandwich bars and expensive clothing shops. Exactly the opposite of what you need if you actually live in one of these places, where all you want is a sensibly priced pastie to reheat in the office microwave for your lunch, a reasonably-priced dry cleaners and somewhere to buy an emergency present for your wife’s birthday and you’re not made of bloody money and you’ve only got an hour to eat, get your suit cleaned and buy the Smallest Diamond On Earth™.
Friday, June 20, 2008
If they do actually complete any of the facilities they're bound to collapse as soon as somone tries to do something silly like walk into them.
Still, could be worse
They always said the logo would evolve. This one's inspired by a comment thread on Fark, created by my pal D-Hutch and I did all the stealing and cajoling.
"Folks, if those of you seated on the left hand side look out of the window you'll see a van wedged under the plane"
Thursday, June 19, 2008
picture gallery of the worst offenders
With the credit crunch, recession and the whole green anti-flying campaign looming over the summer holiday season, how about focussing on holidays closer to home? Or, cheaper still, AT HOME? In "Sod Abroad" Michael Moran explains why'd you'd be made to leave the comfort of your own home. It's a silly, joyous collection about the impossibility of having any kind of fun on holidays either in the UK or abroad and has assorted lists of great things you can only do at home, if you ever had any time there, plus detailed critiques of assorted holiday destinations and even one fairly scientific equation. "Sod Abroad" by Michael Moran - John Murray paperback original - £7.99
Here's what bothers me about the story though: She was restrained with the standard 'flex cuffs' which Sky Marshals carry to restrain terrorists, or more commonly people who've got a bit carried away with the in-flight gin-and-tonics.
And she Hulked out and broke them. If an average (one assumes) 35 year old woman can bust out of these things motivated by no more than the love of Woodbines, what possibility would there be of preventing some bomb-happy zealot from spearing the next 737 flight to Alicante into Canary Wharf?
Just a thought...
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Explanation and illumination over at the UI site, but that handy bullet-point chart in full is:
1: 3.2oz of toothpaste
2: A MacBook Air
3: Some breast milk
4: Any book with either some dynamite on the cover, or Harry Potter, or both
5: One of those admittedly rather annoying flashing LED badges
6: Our old favourite, the Transformers T-shirt
I'm sure there are other exciting and unexpected things that airport security will take arbitrary exception to. Why not fly somewhere and find out what they are?
This is your captain speaking: We're just going to circle a while until they clear all the jackals, raptors, and giant lizards off the runway...
NEW DELHI - Jackals, monitor lizards and raptors descended on a runway at New Delhi's main airport after heavy rains Monday, delaying flights, an airport official said.I don't need to add anything here, do I?
The animals were looking to dry off and warm up after the first monsoon rains hit India's capital, and their appearance on the runway forced authorities to stop planes from taking off and landing for about an hour, Indira Gandhi International Airport spokesman Arun Arora said in a statement.
Animal welfare authorities cleared the runway of wildlife, including monitor lizards that measured as long as 2-3 feet, Arora said.
Arora didn't say how many flights were delayed. The Hindustan Times newspaper said about 100 flights were affected.
In the monsoon season, which runs from June to September, heavy rains routinely delay flights all over India.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Nevertheless, here's a list of things you'll miss if you leave your own lovely kitchen behind.
The roly-poly funnyman™ says he doesn't care for foreign holidays and would prefer a break on the North Sea coast. Now, if he can just follow his own logic through and realise that the North Sea is balls cold and that a British coastal resort is basically the same as the town he lives in, except slightly more expensive, he'll be ready to join my exclusive 'stay at home' club.
Here's a marvellous quote about a holiday in Ibiza though:
I was a mass of hypochondria back then. My mate got bitten by a dog on the first night, and later he shook my hand, and I got it into my head that I had rabies. So, everywhere I went, I carried a glass of water, to see if I was becoming afraid of it.
Read the rest over at TimesOnline.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
1. That Book You Really Wanted To Read
There’s this thing you saw on Richard & Judy once that sounded brainy and entertaining at the same time. It’s a hardback though, and they weight a ton so there’s no reading it on the way to work. No. It’s a "save for the holiday" book. It’ll probably make it into the case for a bit, then get taken out to make room for some flip-flops and never quite find a place in your hand-baggage.
Assuming you brought your glasses (see below) , you’ll end up making do with some flimsily unsatisfying paperback humour title you found in the airport Smiths instead. It's bound to be called something dreadful like Sod Abroad
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
You will no doubt have been told that shark attacks are rare. That's true. As this handy map demonstrates though they're at their rarest on land, in the UK. Where all the pub lunches are to be had.
If you're silly enough to go to nasty hot places like Mexico, and then get in the water where at the very least you'll get soaked, if not definitely bitten, then I'm not sure we have much more to say to one another.
It says here...
"Once the transportation security officer has viewed the image and resolved anomalies, the image is erased from the screen permanently. The officer is unable to print, export, store or transmit the image."
Yeah, but he can remember it can't he?
And he will. Mark my words. Men are beasts. I should know. I've been one for a while.
10: Get a babysitter in
Even after parenthood, some pitiful semblance of life continues. There are, for example, at least three evenings every year on which you’re obliged to squeeze yourself into something uncomfortable and go out for a nice meal*. As long as you remain relatively close to home all you need to do is book a restaurant and find a local teenager who is willing to find a window in their busy schedule of happy slapping and self-harm so they can come round and look after your precious progeny. All it’s going to cost you is the price of the meal, a couple of taxis, five quid an hour for the babysitter and an eye-watering surprise the next time you get a telephone bill. Try the same trick on holiday, the local teens will laugh in your face.
9: Go to the pictures
Holiday time might seem like the ideal opportunity to settle back and watch two and a half hours of delightfully sweary Tarantino nonsense. But of course we can’t: For a start off if you watch films in other countries they will almost invariably have been dubbed into some comically inaccessible language like French or something. Failing that they will have two lines of subtitles emblazoned across the very area at the bottom of the screen where one might normally hope to see the nipples of a promising young actress. Disappointing for many male cineastes, as well as a good proportion of female viewers of a certain stripe.
8: Listen to the wireless
Now, there’s no News Quiz on French radio. There’s not even a Now Show. I have no idea what the French (or the Spanish or the Italians for that matter) do with their bright young men but they certainly aren’t giving them jobs writing topical sketch shows for national speech-based radio stations. If you’re planning on doing any driving, ironing, or general slacking about in your holiday fortnight make you sure you do it somewhere that gets Radio Two, at the very least.
7: Have a nice cup of tea
The essential point about tea is that no matter what so-called ‘historians’ will tell you it’s a British drink. Ask an American to make you a cup of tea and even after you have negotiated your way through a bewildering choice of ‘erb tinctures and described the kind of drink you would like you will be presented with a greyish liquid capped with a thin slick of scum and, as if that were not bad enough, the tea-bag will be cohabiting with the milk in an entirely unnatural fashion. Every British schoolchild knows that the bag shall not lie down with the milk – yea, even in the tea of old ladies it is an abomination.
6: Drink tap water
Blame the French. Everybody does. For everything. Especially though, for those astoundingly expensive bottles of a substance which routinely falls from the sky and one might therefore reasonably expect to get for free. Evian, Vittel, Perrier: Generally packed in plastic bottles that leach poisonous antimony into their contents at a rate that would terrify any homeopath. And, indeed, most astrologers. The British, for all their self-proclaimed faults, can deliver a nice glass of water to your tap whenever you fancy it. Hosepipe bans permitting.
5: Have a lie-in
One of the greatest pleasures known to the working man (and even a few working women) the lie-in is generally confined to one weekend morning – typically a Sunday to commemorate Our Lord’s well-deserved, although disappointingly newspaperless, lie-in after that very first working week. On holiday though there will always be some oddball insisting on visiting some ghastly monument. The one time you can afford a lie-in will be the one time you can’t get one.
4: Waste a night on the Playstation
It’s not uncommon for the wives of Playstation aficionadi to view their husbands’ enthusiasm with disapproval.. This would be a mistake: Games consoles have been ‘proven’ by ‘experts’ to sharpen up reaction time and contribute to much later bed-times which means that the woman of the house is rarely troubled for anything untoward in the nightie area. There’s no such guarantee of an undisturbed sleep in an Andalucian chalet farm.
3: Wear your Comfy trousers
Everybody has a pair of Sunday trousers. Until about age 30 both sexes tend to favour some sporty tracksuit bottoms, even though the only sport that these particular examples would be appropriate for is competitive eating. Once we reach child-bearing age gender preference in Sunday trouser becomes more evident, with expectant fathers plumping for something in a fustian to suggest stability while their spouses stay with the trackies but upgrade to velour for that ‘Primrose Hill Set’ look. After all, you never know when Meg and Sadie are going to pop round in their Britpop Tardis. Thing is, no-one packs their Sunday trousers. And that’s why they can never get a proper rest on holiday.
2: Watch proper telly
Of course foreign telly is rubbish. That’s a given. Let’s not even mention non-English-speaking telly. That would be like shooting fish in a deep fat fryer.
1: Take drugs
Everybody takes drugs these days. Even dustmen. Especially dustmen, in fact. So when they go on holiday, they might reasonably expect to unwind a little further (after all, they don’t have to get up in the morning and the most common side effect of drug abuse is an aversion to alarm clocks) – Except they can’t. The downside of taking drugs for fun is the obligation it confers upon one to enter into commercial transactions with petty criminals. It’s easy enough to spot a British drugs retailer, they all wear those special hats, but overseas it’s a longer, less amusing story.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
If you have a tale of holiday-related woe that you'd like to share with us, your imaginary Internet friends, the form is here.
If you're looking for a book which simultaneously amuses, informs, and costs less than the price of a round of drinks, it's here.
Thanks for stopping by. Pop back any time.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Not only does it have an unsettling appearance, it has one of the most painful stings of any insect. Rating a 4.0 on the marvellous and memorable Schmidt Pain Index the sensation of having fallen foul of this vast and intimidating insect has been described as "...immediate, excruciating pain that simply shuts down one's ability to do anything, except, perhaps, scream."
These creatures range over a vast territory from Argentina to Oregon. You might want to print this post out to have ready next time one of your relatives floats the topic of Disneyland.
Now, the unequalled joy of sunning yourself in your garden and sucking down a cold beverage isn't absolutely free, but the expenses engendered (mortgage/rent, TV licence to cover use of radio, six-pack of Heineken mini-kegs) are ones you would bear irrespective of whether you fall into the holiday trap or not.
Something to think about, I'm sure you'll agree.
Friday, June 06, 2008
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Anyway, by way of the Daily Telegraph, here they are:
- 1: The Eiffel Tower
- 2: The Louvre
- 3: Times Square
- 4: Las Ramblas, Barcelona
- 5: Statue of Liberty
- 6: Spanish Steps, Rome
- 7: The White House
- 8: The Pyramids
- 9: The Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
- 10: The Leaning Tower of Pisa
And, demonstrating that you don't have to go as far as all that to be disappointed, here are the 10 crummiest attractions in the UK:
- 1: Stonehenge
- 2: The Angel of the North
- 3: Blackpool Tower
- 4: Lands' End
- 5: The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain
- 6: The London Eye
- 7: Brighton Pier
- 8: Buckingham Palace
- 9: The White Cliffs of Dover
- 10: Big Ben.
According to this more or less completely made up survey the British are the worst holidaymakers on Earth.
If we're that bad at it, perhaps we should just stop.
If you're the kind of person that likes specious surveys this one's still going! And it's got a map & everything!
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Stung by the recent case of a British couple winning compensation from their tour operator because the hotel they were sent to was full of Germans (and decades of lazy gags from British end-of-the-pier comics) the mighty German nation has risen up to complain that Brits on holiday are a bit of a nuisance.
Bild reports this morning the shock news that many British holidaymakers cluster in the same kind of places that Germans favour, and that when on holiday Britons, like Germans, have a tendency to act like asses.
Which is why I keep telling people that holidays are not only bad for the environment and bad for your personal economy, they're bad for your mind. Even the best of us will be tempted to put on a straw hat and act like a cock after their bloodstreams have been compromised by the judicious admixture of an excess of San Miguel.
Monday, June 02, 2008
This week they're banning an IT guy from flying because he had a Transformers t-shirt on. Dude! He's an IT guy! What do you expect him to wear?
Apparently the shirt has an image of a gun on it, although it's a pretty sketchy sort of design and it's by no means obvious that it depicts a gun, or even a Transformer. It's not entirely clear at first reading how even the most accurate drawing of a tooled-up sci-fi robot might contribute to a terrorist outrage.
Only when the nerds and the hair-shampooers are removed from all aircraft will tourists be safe to pollute the atmosphere as God intended.