This weekend the better half and I went to see the Russell Crowe movie, Noah. It was, as Jonathan Ross might have put it, a “remarkable” film. It was incredible in Biblical proportions. As C put it, she “preferred the Book”. And, as I soon determined there was a clear problem with the maths!
Essentially, Russell plays a homicidal, vegan, God botherer who, with the help of a bunch of Stone Giants and a magic bean he got in exchange for a cow his mother had asked him to take to market, builds the Ark, rescues two of every animal on the planet, rides out the Flood which wipes out all of mankind except his immediate family. This would have been the end of mankind if it were not for his grandfather, Methuselah, Hannibal Lecter, who unbeknown to Noah, had cured his barren adopted daughter, Hermione Granger, who had two daughters by his natural son and went on to repopulate the planet.
So, the human survivors were Noah, his wife, his three sons, his adopted/daughter in law and his two new-born granddaughters. And between them, and only them, they went on to be the mommy and daddy of us all. Who would have guessed that we are all descended from one family of vegans with bad hair. At least Noah liked his wine……so not all bad!
Noah is Tolkein with the best bits from Harry Potter meets Perfect Storm meets Mel Gibson, with a very Welsh Methuselah, a very Kiwi Noah, and Ray Winstone as an East End villain….for a change.
Whatever happened to a little bit of what you fancy does you good? Why is staying alive so complicated? Apparently it is not just the booze, cigarettes and hard drugs that will do for you these days.
No. You are doomed if you fail to eat seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day. And, mind you, they can’t be the wrong kind of fruit. Too much fructose will get you in the end. An early date at the pearly gate will be your destiny if you don’t consume twice your own body weight in water. Pure, unsullied, mineral water taken from source in the cupped palms of virgins.
Just five minutes in the world of Google will give you the recipe to longevity. All it takes is being happily married (tick), owning a cat (tick), red wine in moderation (hmmmn), avoiding caffeine and sugar (oops), not eating after six thirty in the evening (oh dear), eating breakfast (does a packet of cheese and onion crisps count?), doing two and a half hours exercise per week (who has the time?), avoiding stress (get real), and getting seven to eight hours sleep every night (I wish), and flossing (who can be bothered)……..
The problem with all this is that the advice is often contradictory and confusing. There are good sugars and bad sugars. There are good fats and bad fats. Red wine in moderation is good, but too much is bad. Too much exercise can be bad and sleeping at the wrong time is a definite no no.
I jest not. The afternoon nap is a killer. It increases the risk of premature death by one third and is responsible for such ailments as bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia! It is almost as bad for you as sitting down. Armchairs, sofas and office chairs are lethal. Sitting down too much is responsible for cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes and type two diabetes. I read about it in the Daily Mail so it must be true. There is also something called “seated immobility syndrome”, the first case of which involved a 24 year old who had to have surgery to remove clots in his legs after sitting and playing video games for a mere eighty hours straight.
And so I am doomed. The only things in my favour are that I am married and own a cat. And, I do the Times concise crossword every day. Unfortunately though my wife smokes (and I do passively as a consequence) and I am allergic to the cat. And I can’t do the crossword standing up. I can’t drink the water because the property is serviced via lead pipes. I have a stressful job which means I am often sleep deprived, and it is a job which requires me to travel often, in economy, to the far flung quarters of the Earth with DVT lurking around every corner.
So here I sit, on my sofa, cat beside me, just wishing it was late enough to open a bottle of red to take the edge off, having just woken up from my afternoon nap after my lunch of bacon sandwich and brown sauce. Doomed!
All I can say is that while we are all glued to our TVs, mobile devices and social media of choice looking for flotsam in the South China Sea and worried about the security on our next flight to the Costa Brava , other important news stories seem to be being buried.
I am sure that President Putin deliberately timed his invasion of the Crimea, bringing us all (not) to the brink of the Third World War…. but for the fact that no-one in the West of Europe or America believes that their soldiers should fight for anything other than oil these days, and would not want to have their gas supplies disrupted, or Chelsea’s chances of winning the Champion’s League impeded. No, I am sure that Vlad the Destroyer deliberately timed his brinkmanship to coincide with the Oscar (guilty as a guilty thing) Pistorius trial. Nothing could provide a better distraction from the plight of the Ukrainian people than wall-to-wall coverage of how the stumpy guy tried to cover up his murder. But, even for the president of Russia, deliberately disappearing a plane full of Chinese people as a distraction to his re-writing of Ukraine’s eastern and southern boundaries might have been a little excessive.
So, we should look for he or she who has most to gain to identify the culprit.
For sure, the Middle East and Israel seems to be quiet at the moment – the big news story in that region seems to be that someone has referred to David Cameron as “Gordon” – with no news regarding our imminent destruction at the hands of a mad Iranian with a nuke. And, the terrible acts being carried out against the innocent people of Syria by Assad’s followers also seem to have been conveniently brushed under the media carpet for now.
But no. I suspect that the news story about the missing plane has been put out there to distract us from the misdeeds of someone far more dangerous and cunning than Messrs Putin or Assad.
……the Max Clifford trial isn’t getting that much coverage is it?
In 1936, the German Chancellor and Dictator, Adolf Hitler, hosted the Berlin Olympics in order to promote his Government at home and its “ideals” of racial supremacy. He tried to ban the participation of black people and Jews and he arrested all of the gypsies in the Berlin area and placed them into a concentration camp for the duration. Only in the face of overwhelming international condemnation were black people and Jews allowed to attend.
In February 2014, Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, hosted the Sochi Winter Olympics to promote his Government at home and as a distraction to domestic unrest and economic difficulties. Ahead of and during the event there was overwhelming international condemnation against Putin’s “ideals” and the abuse of lesbians, gays and transgender people in Russia.
On the 11th March 1938 the Austrian Nazi Party sponsored by Adolf Hitler, seized power in Austria and cancelled a planned referendum which was likely to result in a vote to maintain Austria’s autonomy in the face of German aggression. As a result, all power was effectively transferred to Germany and Austria was annexed.
On 27th February 2014 the Supreme Council of Crimea, part of the sovereign state of the Ukraine, and sponsored by Vladimir Putin called for a referendum on the status of Crimea within the country following calls for a closer relationship with Russia.
Following the annexation of Austria in 1938, Adolf Hitler complained about the status and condition of the ethnic Germans and German-speaking people in the Sudetenland, then part of Czechoslovakia. The Munich Agreement of 30th September was signed by the major European powers in an attempt to avoid escalation. The Sudetenland was effectively ceded to Germany in October 1938, and in March 1939 Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. Part of that sovereign state was annexed by Germany. The Slovak part declared independence but, in reality, was little more than a German satellite. Other parts were ceded to Bohemia and Moravia, while the Ukraine but was annexed by Hungary.
On 3rd September 1939, following Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Britain declared war on Germany. This was the start of the second World War, a war in which over 60 million people are thought to have died.
In February 2014, Russia massed 150,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and pro-Russian militia seized control of the Crimean peninsular. On 1st March, the Russian Parliament authorised Vladimir Putin to use force in the Ukraine to protect the ethnic Russian and Russian-speaking population.
So, what happens next…….?
David Silvester, a UKIP Councillor – and, therefore, a mad, racist, bigot, and homophobic member of CAMRA – blamed the recent bad weather in the UK on the Government’s policy on the legalisation of gay marriage.
Well, he may well be a fool but this weather is certainly Biblical in its proportions. We have had the rain. We have had the floods. We have had the wind. We have had the cold. We have had Charlotte Hawkins (@SkyCharlotte) spending her mornings standing up to the top of her Hunters in some Thames Valley flood water interviewing stock brokers who have rescued their over-pampered Chihuahuas and politicians in high-visibility jackets and hard hats. At least Nigel Farage (who was once the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz) had the good sense to do his Somerset Levels interviews from the inside of country pub.
Now, I’m all for a bit of a windswept Hawkins in a morning but this is going on and on and on…and on. We have had the wettest January in over 100 years. It has been Stormaggedon.
I pity the poor people in the South West who have been flooded since Christmas. I am sorry for the thousands of homes that are still without electricity. And at least the politicians have begun to take things seriously now that the Thames Barrier has been deployed.
But yesterday it began to get personal. The a North West of England was hit by hurricane force winds and torrential rain. The roof of Crewe Station (my home from home) blew off, bringing down power lines and a halt to the West Coast railway. Restaurants and pubs in Sandbach were closed due to falling masonry, and trees were falling in the country lanes around and about faster than at a lumberjack competition.
It has been cold. Our old house (1855) is draughty and chilly at the best of times but it has been proper cold. The cat has camped out under the radiator on the landing to keep warm and we can’t wait until he deigns to join us in the lounge so we can warm our hands on him.
And, the pyjamas have been deployed.
Enough of this weather already. Stay safe out there everyone – there is more to come at the weekend….
Now what have I learnt in my time in Australia? I have learnt that the Australians know how to party! Big time. Darling Harbour in Sydney has, over the last two months, played host to Santa Fest, New Year, the Sydney Festival, Australia Day and Chinese New Year. The flags on the bridge have been up and down more times than a couple of kangaroos in the mating season.
I have. Even hugely impressed with the efficiency with which the authorities clean the streets and change the flags. I have seen domestic disputes, physical fights, people on camels, people on stilts, ubiquitous skateboarders, ubiquitous bikini-clad lovelies (men and women – Aussie men seem to like to put on a bikini), and many a beach bum and super-model.
And I have watched it all from the balcony of my apartment at the Aquarium/Wildlife Centre/Madame Tussaud’s (I resisted the temptation of going to visit the wax dummy special exhibition of One Direction).
The photograph depicts my daytime view of “The Corner Of Shame” showing the back entrance into the Wildlife Centre. The night-time view has been much more “interesting”.
At times of major events such as NYE, Australia Day and the like Darling Harbour is fenced off and becomes an “alcohol free” zone, meaning that no one is allowed to take their own booze/grog/liquor in. The entry points are manned by event security who search every bag. The area is patrolled by volunteer rangers who look for those who are lost or worse for wear. And the area is heavily policed.
The Corner Of Shame is just 50 yards away from one such entrance.
I have seen groups of girls entering the corner of shame to neck a litre bottle of vodka before passing through security. I have seen groups of blokes snorting lines of coke. I have seen revellers hide booze in the bushes so that they can come in and out of the security check at ease. I have seen hobos searching the bushes in search of (and finding) the same concealed booze. I have seen men and women use the steps as a toilet. And I have seen gay men getting far too up close and personal.
I think the Sydney police need to move their security check 50 yards or come and sit with me on my balcony.
I think the wildlife centre staff should use the front entrance or invest in a big tub of Dettol.
There are certain internationally accepted conventions for the use of colour. For example, in general the world accepts that, with regard to traffic lights, red means stop, amber (or yellow) means caution, and green means go. Motorway (autoroute) road signs are generally blue and those on trunk roads are typically green. In general, a diesel pump nozzle is black (or blue), while an unleaded one is green. Maps also tend to colour things consistently – water is blue, land is green, and towns and cities are a dirty, grey/brown.
Or at least I think they are. I am colour-blind. It is a genetic anomaly passed down through the female line in the family. So, I don’t always see colours in the same way as others. Sometimes I don’t see colours at all. I live in a beige world. I am styled by my wife. Otherwise I would be dressed mostly in beige. I don’t look good in beige. Few people do.
But, when I can see colours I know when they are right and when they are wrong. And, I can tell you that the Australian convention for the colour-coding of crisps (“chips” if you were born in a less-edification part of the world) is just so wrong.
Any UK Midlander would have been weened on Walkers Crisps. And, as such we know that red means Ready Salted, blue means Cheese and Onion (the king of crisps), green means Salt and Vinegar, etc.
Down here, blue is Ready Salted (or “Original” as they like to call it). Wrong. Green is Chicken. Very wrong. As a rule of thumb I try to resist all contact with green chicken. And, Cheese and Onion is a pinkish purple. Very, very wrong and only possible in the gay capital of the Southern Hemisphere. This is the colour we use for Prawn Cocktail flavour back home.