The Blog of Zakspade

 December 2016 Archive
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The Power of Love
(Title from M.L.)
Saturday 31 December, 2016

I wrote a piece for the local newspaper. After they had taken a closer look at it, someone decided that it was, perhaps, too racy, or something.

Whatever the reason, there is no love in my heart for the company responsible for the electricity supply to Leighton Buzzard:

It happens again. And again. And yet again.

What does?

Another power cut.

What’s new about that? How can that be ‘news’ you ask, after all, it happens all the time in Leighton Buzzard, so why the fuss?

Before living in Leighton Buzzard I spent over 45 years in what became Milton Keynes. During my time there power cuts were something of a rarity, except during the 70s and the Three-Day Week.

On 6 December 2016, businesses were once again hit by a failure in the supply of electricity to their premises in the Church Square and Bridge Street areas of the town centre.

A UK Power Networks spokesperson said it was caused, they believe, by an underground cable developing a fault. Seriously? It just developed a fault at random? Do they deliberately install equipment designed to behave like that?

It gets better: ‘We do not have an exact cause for the cable fault, however it has been repaired.’

What was repaired? How? Do they understand what was repaired? Is someone being paid an awful lot of money to run a power supply company that seems totally inept and devoid of any ability to actually supply power?

I have never experienced a place that has such an unreliable electricity supply as Leighton Buzzard.

No, wait, I am mistaken. I lived for a while in Poland after the Wall came down in Germany. The flat I lived in suffered power cuts two or three times in the year I was there.

No, wait again, that is still not as frequent as Leighton Buzzard.

So, Leighton Buzzard has the distinction of having an organisation overseeing the town’s supply of electricity that doesn’t understand what it is doing and is less competent than an east European state that was close to falling apart; if the 585% inflation rate of the time is any indicator.

I foresee a surge in the sale of hamsters and wheels for them to run inside. They can be hooked up to mini generators and used to provide a more reliable supply of electricity for the people of Leighton Buzzard.


(Title from Mary Priest)
Thursday 22 December, 2016

Mary said she wanted me to use the title ‘Cheese’ for a Blog entry specifically tied to the date it is used.

Well, here it is.

It was the evening of 22 December, 1986 - exactly 30 years ago today. It was a cold night and I had been delivering Christmas cards on my way home from work at a local engineering company.

Although cold, it was not freezing in the sense that the road surfaces were icy. How was I so sure? I was riding a motorcycle and the stop-start of my journey home game me ample opportunity to be well aware of precisely how the weather was, or was not, affecting driving conditions.

As I rode up Watling Street I was again stabbed in my foot by something sharp in my motorcycle boot as I changed gear. A bus stop up ahead was set back in a lay-by and featured a well-lit shelter. I judged that I would be able to remove my boot and be able to see what was caught inside.

Indeed, the illumination offered by the lamp in the bus shelter allowed me to determine that a piece of swarf had become wedged in my sock and removed it and put my boot back on.

I left the shelter and began to walk back towards where I had parked my motorcycle, and the noise of a car engine revving wildly caught my attention. I looked up to see where the sound came from and saw a car exiting the nearby roundabout, rally car-like, through a turn. It promised entertainment, so I stopped and watched.

In retrospect, standing and watching to see what would become of the red Porsche 924 was probably a mistake. What had suggested itself to be a worthwhile spectator spectacle fast became a participation event as the errant Porsche collected the bus shelter and then me, before finishing its wild spinning journey by parking on top of what had been my two-wheeled transport up until just minutes earlier.

A van managed to gently collide with the Porsche when it came to rest half-in and half-out of the lay-by.

It was a short time afterwards that I was sat resting in the passenger seat of the van and waiting for an ambulance when the driver of the Porsche made their way to me to see if I was alright. Apart from the three broken ribs, smashed collarbone and bloody nose that had covered my face with blood, I was fine.

The words, ‘Are you alright?’ were spoken to me by the driver of the car and were conveyed through the passage of sound waves to my ears. The fact that they were as pissed as a fart became apparent as the stench of alcohol made its own way to my still functioning nose as they asked me the stupid question.

It was the matter of seconds for the reality to sink in: I was badly banged up because the shithead had decided that having a drink after work was more important than not killing someone on the way home. My response consisted of a great many expletives and, had I not been so badly knocked about, I would have probably stood up and punched the driver to the ground and worried about the consequences later.

As it turned out, they were lucky: all I was capable of doing was spraying the inside of the van with my blood as I ranted at the Porsche driver.

Trust me, had the idiot asked to take my photograph that night, I wouldn’t have been saying, ‘Cheese,’ for them.


(Title from 'Arnie')
Tuesday 20 December, 2016

I’ve enjoyed ten months of email correspondence with a lawyer claiming to be the estate of the late Mrs Sandra Phillips who wanted me to inherit $1.8m in order to carry on her wishes to provide for needy children.


Her lawyer, Mr Anthony John Hobson QC (his title choice - not mine) has tried to obtain my telephone numbers, passport and driving licence details, and just about everything that is needed to prove one’s ID to the satisfaction of a bank. And to that end a Mr Godwin Spike happened along as a representative of a very large global bank that needed those very details to facilitate the transfer of that $1.8m into my nominated bank account.

Instead of him getting my personal details, I ended up pinning down his identity. Regarding identity theft, he really wasn’t too clued up on how to go about doing it...

I feel sorry for any real people with the names of Mrs Sandra Phillips, Mr Anthony John Hobson or Mr Godwin Spike because it is my understanding that mud sticks.


The Usefulness of Toes
(Title from Anna Sobolewska)
Sunday 18 December, 2016

As I consider the usefulness of toes as something of great import, the suggested title from Anna has been moved up ahead of a couple of other suggestions.

There are a number of reasons that allege great importance of toes to the average human being. One is that old wives’ tale about needing a big toe in order to be able to walk.

As it happens, missing any toe will impinge upon the ability to balance. More accurately, that omission doesn’t affect the sense of balance so much as the ability to allow for minor corrections in attitude when that sense determines a requirement for a subtle shift in one’s centre of gravity in order to maintain what might be referred to as standing, walking or running.

Anything that impairs the process of maintenance of controlled posture (balance) will make the act of walking more difficult. People who have toes removed due to conditions such as diabetes, can and do walk after a period of retraining their bodies to cope. Indeed, while extremely rare, the loss of all toes from a foot is something that can be overcome and mastered with respect to walking.

However, there is something that is a greater proof of the usefulness of toes than the ability to balance and walk. It is something of great significance to around 50% of the human race while being highly relevant to the remaining 50% or so: buying suitable stylish shoes that fit...


Radical Departures
(Title from K)
Friday 16 December, 2016

‘The train leaving platform is the 9:15 to Euston, stopping at Watford Junction. It will flying at an altitude of 18 feet at a speed of 1,250 miles-per-hour once the train driver has managed to remove the banana from his ear and light the blue touch paper.’

The Cardboard Box
(Title from Carrie Tyler)
Wednesday 14 December, 2016

There it sat; a sturdy, single-walled cardboard box, open, unloved, unwanted.

Once it possible held items of desire, or goods that were required, but the day it was finally noticed, it was empty and devoid of content.

Yes, I am perfectly aware that there are people out there who will point out that it was not, in fact, as one might say; empty, in that it was full of air. To those persons I say this: No one is more pedantic than me on one of my good (bad) days - ask my wife...

However, for the purposes of this piece, I will define empty as being without contents usually considered to be something we don’t breathe. So there it was; empty.

Not only was there nothing within, but it appeared unwanted. For days it had occupied the same spot on the floor near the table in the room. It wasn’t a lonely existence; it had the table for company.

Fortunately, during a conversation regarding its likely fate, a passerby who ventured into the room commented on the fact that it was a fine-looking specimen of a box which they considered to be of great value with respect to packing Christmas decorations away once the holiday period was over.

The cardboard box had found a new owner and was set to be used to hold things once more after Christmas.

And to think someone once wrote a song called, ‘All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth’ when they missed a trick by not considering the lot of the average well-specified cardboard box.


To Exfoliate or Not to Exfoliate
(Title from K.D.)
Monday 12 December, 2016

It might not be obvious to all, but ‘K.D.’ is female.

That said, the above line might say more about me than society.


(Title from Paige)
Saturday 10 December, 2016

When Paige saw me sit down to write today’s Blog entry based upon her title suggestion, she complained.

Why? Was it because she didn’t with to have her name plastered all over the internet? Was the title offensive and she didn’t want her name associated with the term? Maybe it was something to do with the word being spelt differently according to one of her many US-centric computer games that feature US-spelling; thus confusing UK kids?

No, she felt the title was incomplete and that had she realised that I was going to write something hanging from it then she would have added to it.

But what?

I shuddered to think, but then she gave me the new version of the title and I decided that it was a ‘no’ and her original suggestion was going to be used as opposed to the modified version.

Honestly, who would want to read a Blog entry called, ‘Smelly Daddy,’ eh?


If You Can Wait
(Title from Simone)
Thursday 8 December, 2016

Simone came up with a title I am sure she intended as something to stretch my mind. However, it was a gift (excuse the semi-unintended pun-like choice of words, given the season).

If you can wait, you must be an adult and not a child, at this time of year.

That is all.


(Title from Darren Doyle)
Tuesday 6 December, 2016

It is all a matter of spelling.

Darren gave the title, to which this entry must be written, via email. Had he done so over the telephone, or face-to-face, then I might have been able to go on about the internet phenomenon that is phishing: a rather dark and devious method of conning people out of money, goods or information.

However, he suggested his title in writing.

By now, anyone reading this will have noticed that I have managed to get down to the fourth paragraph without actually discussing the ‘art’ of yanking aquatic life forms out of their natural habitat through the simple expediency of tricking them into biting down onto an extremely sharp piece of wire that becomes embedded in their flesh.

It may well have something to do with the fact that I am not a person who fishes.

Truth be told, I have gone angling twice in my life. Once was when my dad took me pike fishing when I was aged around eight, one extremely cold and frosty morning; the other was as a teenager when I walked a few miles down a stream with a cousin in Ireland while we dangled fishing lines into the fast running water in an attempt to catch some rainbow trout.

The former revealed the fact that my dad wore women’s tights under his jeans. To be fair, it is a trick I am told that is very effective in the attempt to stave off the cold during prolonged bouts of sitting down waiting for victims to get greedy and bite whatever has been impaled upon a fish hook on the end of the fishing line.

The latter was a very enjoyable walk through some marvellous countryside marred by having to carry equipment for which I had only the vaguest notion regarding what it was all called. That day, my cousin caught seven rainbow trout whereas I caught none - despite us swapping rods and equipment to clarify whether it was technique or kit that led to success.

In that respect I guess fishing can be likened in my mind to golf.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, under the pen name Mark Twain, has been attributed as having uttered the following, ‘Golf is a good walk spoiled.’

Unfortunately, that attribution came no earlier than around 1948 - some 38 years after his death. So it is highly probable Twain did not coin the quote. Equally, someone in years to come will no doubt reveal that it was not I who first came out with, ‘Trout fishing is a good walk spoiled.’


(Title from Faye Woods)
Sunday 4 December, 2016

Truth: the quality or state of being true.

As far as definitions go, that one covers a huge number of angles.

The oncologist who tells their patient the way it is probably adds little to the quality of their lives - especially if they are a minor.

‘Don’t bother with writing a letter to Santa this year as you won’t live to see next month, let alone Christmas,’ will, no doubt, destroy any attempts on the part of the parents to create a life of quality for their child during the time remaining to them.

Then there is the question of state.

I think it would be fair to say that a large number of persons might suggest that the State tends to be a little lax with the truth, and is probably a charge that could be laid at the feet of many States across the world.

However, to be fair, it is difficult to tell the truth to many different people at the same time.

With somewhere around 46 million people eligible to vote in UK elections (includes overseas and postal voters), the average constituency works out to be getting on for 71 thousand voters. Now, imagine telling ONE of those voters a TRUTH. Is it possible to imagine that the remaining 70,999 would swear it to be the truth?

Treating the word state as a noun allows me to use a big or a small ‘S’ but it would probably be fairer to read it as the condition of a person or thing, as with respect to circumstances or attributes as opposed to a politically unified people occupying a definite territory; a nation.

Many years ago I addressed a class of English students I was teaching. I wrote on the board, ‘Should a man be allowed more than one wife?’

I was employed in a pronounced Catholic country and most of my language students were female. They expressed what they saw as a natural truth when they replied almost as one voice, ‘No.’

Then I added the words, ‘at a time?’ to the end and asked again.

Again the answer was a resounding, ‘No!’ but they all wished to alter the original answer to a ‘yes,’ on the basis that no one felt it fair to deny a man a second wife if he had been widowed.

The addition of the three words after a comma changed the truth of the first answer as seen by the students in the classroom.

Maybe truth is something best determined once the context is carefully examined and fully understood.


Is Democracy Dead?
(Title from David Russell)
Friday 2 December, 2016

It is a question that has vexed the minds of many over the years.

With arguments over the Will of the People being ignored by others who are accused of wishing to impose their own views upon everyone else, it has become a rather heated topic of late.

It is tempting to make the old joke about Christmas at this point and mention that it is so good; I hope they hold it every year.

Unfortunately that will bolster the resolve of those who feel undermining the legally obtained views of a majority by holding elections and referenda until the ‘correct’ result is returned, is a legitimate cause. Also it will incense those who are staunchly defending what they see as an assault upon the result they hankered after because it will be seen as tossing the point casually into the wind without a care for the principle of democracy.

So by making the crack I have left myself open to attack from both sides.

Neat! The power of bad jokes, eh?

However, rather than taking sides, how about examining the question by defining what democracy really means?

Doing so will enable everyone to answer the question for themselves. My view, upon realising the definition, is that democracy is alive and kicking.

Now I am sure that there will be many who will vehemently disagree with what follows, but for what it is worth, here goes:

Democracy is the willing election of dictatorships.