Thursday 24 March 2016

Only In Britain

The National Environment Research Council (NERC) funds environmental scientific research in the United Kingdom and is about to build a state-of-the-art polar research ship here in the North West of England. The boat is backed by government funding and will launch in 2019.
NERC have launched a public campaign to name the ship, opening a web site for the British public to suggest a suitably apt name for what will be a magnificent vessel.
In other parts of the world, I think that the suggested names would reflect the excitement of the ship’s purpose, perhaps naming it after a science or a famous historical person. 
But what is currently leading the pack BY FAR in names suggested by the great British public?
Boaty McBoatface
I am not kidding you. A state-of-the-art ship, with a serious purpose will sail to the Polar Regions with the name RRS Boaty McBoatface etched on its hull.
There are some serious suggestions but also some equally silly names such as:

RRS Its Bloody Cold Here

RRS Usain Boat

RRS Boatimus Prime

RRS I Like Big Boats and I Cannot Lie

RRS What Iceberg?

RRS Notthetitanic

RRE Big Metal Floaty Thingy-Thing

This is a typical British quirk that stems from our ability to laugh in the face of adversity and make a mockery of things labelled as serious.
Don’t get me wrong; there are British people who are probably howling in outrage at this but the good news is that the majority of votes are for silly names.
This is why I love being British. We can, as a nation, see humour in everything and often use that humour to make people laugh in serious or stuffy situations. 
There are millions of examples of things we find funny that perhaps other nations will either raise their eyebrows at or simply tut and shake their heads in disgust. 
Here’s another example of the kind of thing I mean. A friend of mine was on his own in a pub, waiting for another friend, when he needed to go to the toilet. He had a full pint in front of him and decided that the best way to stop somebody stealing his pint or taking his seat was to put a note on top of his glass saying:

“I have spat in this beer”

When he came back, somebody had added:

“And I have put my winkie in it”

I love this.
Regular readers will also know that I am a sucker for clickbait, where I click links to read meaningless nonsense instead of doing something more constructive. However, some of these sites are full of “Things that only British people will find funny”.
For example – a letter from a disgruntled customer which finished:

“I have enclosed your letter and you will notice that I have taken the liberty of rolling it up very tightly which should make it easier for you to stick up your arse.”

Or this answer to a Health and Safety Question:

If an accidental fire started in a building with employees inside, what steps would you take?

Answer: Fucking BIG ONES!!

Some people have even named their businesses or shops with a hint of humour such as:

A lift company called Schindler’s Lifts

A wine shop called Planet of the Grapes

A flower shop called Florist Gump

A painter and decorator called Luther Van Gloss

A pet nanny called Hairy Pop-Ins

A Caribbean restaurant called Jamaican Me Hungry

A removal company called Jean-Claude Van Man

A male hairdresser called Barber Black Sheep

I have been told by some foreigners that they simply do not understand some British humour. 
For example, do you find the following funny?

There are a gazillion examples of British humour knocking about on the internet, as well as lots of British silliness.
Oh – and finally, not to be outdone by a polar research ship, a train driver pulled into Waterloo Station in London and gave his train a name:

Only in Britain – unless you know something different, dear reader.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Public Toilet Etiquette (Part Two)

I feel I need to reinforce a rule that I first mentioned in an old blog post about public toilet etiquette. You can read it here.

Yes, I’m sorry, dear reader, but I am once again going to discuss toilets, something foreigners think that British people are obsessed with. I know Americans refer to it as “The Bathroom” and Australians refer to “Dunnies” – but it is what it is – a bloody toilet!

So if you are vaguely offended by discussions about the less attractive necessities of the human body, please stop reading now.

For the rest of you …

In the post mentioned above, I briefly allude to a specific rule. Actually, no – let me be crystal clear about this – it is a specific LAW that, if broken, should result in a hefty fine and nasty slap on the wrist for the perpetrators.

All men know this law; it is written in our DNA.

All women ignore this law and are quite keen to disobey it. In fact, in the female world, it is encouraged to bound over the line of good taste and positively encourage this crime. Women even go to public toilets IN PAIRS to openly break the law and laugh in the faces of any men who dare to speak up against it.

The law is this.

Men must NEVER EVER EVER EVER talk to each other in public toilets. 

I’ve seen women walk into public toilets in pairs, arms linked, chatting away as if they haven’t seen each other for months, to actually talk to each other in adjacent cubicles while answering the call to nature. 

How do they get away with this?

The reason I am writing this post is because a man spoke to me in a public toilet, causing me momentarily to break ANOTHER law before I realised what I was doing.

He said to me (and I still can’t believe this):

“Hey, Dave – fancy meeting you here!”

The law that I broke, in utter shock I hasten to add, was this:

Men must NEVER EVER EVER EVER look at another man in public toilets. 

Male public toilets should be like a library!

I stared at the perpetrator of this heinous crime with a look of shock and disgust. And then I remembered the second law and looked straight at the wall in front of me. Such was the shockwave, that I suddenly lost the ability to pee, and in shame I zipped up and rushed out of the loo only remembering to wash my hands when I reached the door. Having been forced to break the second law, I certainly didn’t want to be chased down by the Health and Safety police for violating their first law of toilet etiquette.

Of course, a few minutes later, my body remembered that I hadn’t quite finished and I found myself going back into the toilet. Anybody who saw me re-enter the loo no more than five minutes after I had been before no doubt thought that I had a strange medical condition requiring me to urinate every five minutes. 

I have only just recovered, dear reader, and am so ashamed of myself that I need to use you as a therapist and let it all hang out, so to speak.

Anyway, now I’ve got this out in the open, I want to reiterate to any potential male public toilet criminals that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES must you EVER EVER EVER talk to another man in a public toilet.

Of course, there may be circumstances where it is absolutely essential, for example if you have been injured or something like that.

In those rare emergency situations you are allowed to say things like:

“I have slipped and hurt my head. Please call the emergency services.”

In fact (and I swear I am not making this up), a poster appeared at work actively encouraging people to talk in the toilet “to be creative and share ideas”. It showed a man washing his hands and an unseen work colleague speaking from an adjacent trap (that’s what we call a “stall” or a “cubicle” – well at least that’s what I call them anyway!).

What on earth were they thinking?

I know there are a number of career public toilet criminals out there who will ignore this post and laugh like Dr Evil.

For the rest of us, you can spot them because they will break the rule in the following ways:

They will speak to you when it is not an emergency.

They will stare at you.

Some will even say terrible things like:

“We must stop meeting like this.”

“Is there any toilet paper in your trap?”

“Wow – that’s very impressive.”

“Do you want me to help you find it?”

“Don’t worry! I’ll turn on the taps when I’ve finished. That should help!”

“I’d give that five minutes if I were you.”

“Have you seen the new BeyoncĂ© video?”

“Sorry about the splashback!”

“Our bodies are totally synchronised.”

“Sorry, mate. I couldn’t flush!”

If you encounter such serial criminals, simply run away. Do not look at them but try to finish what you started; after all, there’s nothing worse than having a little accident because of a toilet talker.

Just remember to wash your hands.

Monday 14 March 2016

Top Ten Cult Movies

Certain films achieve cult status, the kind of status that acquires a passionate fan base, in a similar way to franchises such as Star Trek where people love them despite their flaws or however dated they seem to be. That doesn’t mean that cult films are bad – on the contrary – most of them are fabulous and whenever my favourites appear on my tellybox, I make an effort to watch them.

Such was the case on Friday night. I promised myself that I would go to bed relatively early but decided to have one last channel hop. And there, just starting was one of the movies you will see in the list below. I couldn’t resist. It was 11:30 pm and this film would keep me up until after 1 am. I didn’t hesitate – I made myself comfortable and watched the whole thing with my helllcat snuggled up beside me. As I lay in bed later, partially regretting my decision to stay up late, I decided that it would be a good idea to post my favourite so-called cult films. So here they are:

10. Escape from New York

The year is 1997 and New York is walled prison with the worst criminals in America housed within. Sadly Air Force One crashed within the city and there is only one man who can penetrate the city and save him; the amazing one-eyed ex-soldier with the fantastic name, Snake Plissken, played by a brooding Kurt Russell. To make matters worse, poor Snake is injected with tiny explosives that will kill him if he fails.

The plot is utterly incredible and the villains are totally over the top. Yet this strange action movie really works. Nowadays, the film looks really dated and a little bit daft. Nevertheless, if you switch off your brain to protect yourself from the incredulous plot, it really is quite enjoyable. Just count the names that people say “Snake Plissken – I thought you were dead!”

9. Airplane!

Airplane! is one of the daftest films I have ever seen and is crammed to bursting point with humour. Every scene is funny with the joke being obvious or subtle to the point where you don’t spot it immediately. It is extremely silly and the humour borders sometimes on extremely bad taste. Basically Airplane! is a parody of one of the numerous air disaster movies that we had to endure in the 1970’s but it also parodies other movies such as Saturday Night Fever.

8. The Blues Brothers

I mentioned this film in my top comedy films. When I went to the cinema to see this, I wasn’t expecting it to be a comedy film – I don’t know what I was expecting really. What struck me was the amazing musical talent who took part as mayhem ensued with our two hapless heroes, played by the brilliant John Belushi and Dan Akroyd, declare that “We are on a Mission from God!” and end up causing absolute mayhem and chaos in the pursuit of that mission. There are amazing songs performed by some true legends – like this from Aretha Franklin:

7.  Enter the Dragon

In the early 1970’s Bruce Lee made Kung Foo really cool. Kids I knew actually made their own nunchooks, a rather dangerous weapon, in an attempt to emulate their hero. Enter the Dragon was like a Chinese version of a James Bond film, complete with over-the-top villain, seemingly unbeatable hero and, once again, an incredible plot. Add to this Bruce Lee’s amazing skills, we have a recipe for a superb cult film. This movie inspired a lot of people to take up martial arts and although it looks dated today, you can’t help but marvel at Bruce Lee’s talent. It’s such a shame that he died so young.

Here is Bruce Lee demonstrating how to use nunchuks (amongst other things).

6. Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino has made some amazing films which feature in my all-time favourites. However, Pulp Fiction, in my opinion has acquired cult status simply because it features so many amazing stories and incredible quotes. I saw this movie at the cinema and laughed out loud on more than one occasion while my brain told me “Hey – you simply SHOULD NOT be laughing at this!”  

The film is graphic and full of dark humour and Samuel L Jackson’s character is wonderful as shown in the scene below. Watch out – the language is rather fruity.

5. This is Spinal Tap

I love heavy metal (regular readers may have noticed) and I love a great comedy. Combine these and you get This is Spinal Tap, a mockumentary about an English rock band in America, which lampoons every aspect of the cult of heavy metal, including creative differences, the need to shock and the pitfalls of creating a tour and performing in front of a crowd. It is hilarious and has some wonderful moments of pure genius. Incredibly the band have released music outside the movie, which is funny and, bizarrely, quite good.

4. Watchmen

Watchmen is not a conventional superhero film because the heroes are flawed and the scenes of violence are quite graphic. I dragged Mrs PM to see Watchmen at the cinema and while she can tolerate most movies of this genre, she truly despise this particular one because, in her words, it is too long and too violent. “That’s what makes it brilliant!” 

If you are expecting something similar to Spiderman, think again. Rorschach in particular is a wonderful creation. He may be a hero but he achieves his goals with violence and a psychopathic dark heart; he deserves a movie of his own though I’m sure that Mrs PM would never come to see it with me.

3. 28 Days Later

Zombies are slow. You can almost outrun a hoard of marauding zombies by walking away from their decaying hungry shuffling bodies. Unless, of course, you find yourself in the world portrayed by 28 Days Later. The zombies in this horror film run – and they run very quickly. So if you are old, unfit, fat or just not quick enough, you will find yourself being eaten before you can say “Look – a zombie!”. This is a genuinely scary British horror movie and I loved it. I also felt a pang of dismay when I saw Manchester burning in the distance.

2. The Warriors

This is the movie I mentioned at the start of this post. Up until recently it was my favourite cult movie. It tells the story of a New York gang who have to make it back from the Bronx to Coney Island having been blamed for the murder of the leader of the biggest gang in New York. And every gang is out to get them as well as the police. It’s violent and a thrill ride from the moment the Warriors set off back to their “turf”.

One of the best things about the film is the soundtrack; the Theme from the Warriors is fantastic.

“Warriors – come out to plaaaayyyyyy!”

1. 300

My new favourite cult film is the story of 300 Spartans who took on the might of the Persian army at the battle of Thermpylae. Led by the charismatic King Leonidas, played impeccably by Gerard Butler, the army of pure soldiers, noble and built to fight, defend themselves against a vast army led by the man-God Xerxes.

This is a pure boy flick and when it is on, I switch off my brain and allow myself to become fully immersed in the story. There are so many wonderful scenes in the film that it is a joy to behold.

“This is SPARTA!!”

And Finally ...

Over to you, dear reader.

Do you agree with my choices?

Do you have a favourite “cult” movie?

Thursday 3 March 2016

In Out In Out Shake It All About

As promised, here is my second political post.

I apologise in advance.

Our current Prime Minister, David Cameron, is a broken man.

Normally I would enjoy this, laughing at his political troubles. Sadly, I feel sorry for him (even though all of this is his own doing).

I actually feel a little dirty because I support him for once.

Cameron has spent a few weeks travelling around the other countries of the European Union seeking support for an agreement that will convince members of his own party – oh and the rest of the UK (the likes of me) – that we will be stronger by remaining in the European Union, rather than leaving it under the monicker of a tabloid-style banner called Brexit (short for British Exit – I wonder who thought that one up?).

David Cameron has returned having actually agreed with the other European leaders that our island will be special when it comes to the European Union and that we should stay in and be a strong influence in the European Union.

Sadly, his own (right wing) Conservative party is now split right down the middle with the Eurosceptics out in force basically telling the people that their beloved leader is trying to con the British public.

On one side of this Conservative civil war we have some of the most odious Tories bellowing in their own inimitable fashion:

“We should leave the European Union immediately! If we stay then the Fires of Hell will explode and brimstone will rain down on the UK as if Satan himself had blasted us all with his unholy flame thrower!”

On the other side of this Conservative civil war we have some of the most odious Tories bellowing in their own inimitable fashion:

“We MUST stay in the European Union forever, If we leave then the Fires of Hell will explode and brimstone will rain down on the UK as if Satan himself had blasted us all with his unholy flame thrower!”

So who should we believe?

This is like a typical British election with each side trying to scare the population into supporting them. I hate all of the most vociferous Tories – on BOTH sides.

In the “OUT” campaign we have Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith and Boris Johnson – all three of whom I would quite happily punch in the face.

YIKES!!!!! Don't you just want to punch them??
In the “IN” campaign we have David Cameron, George Osborne and Jeremy Hunt – all three of whom I would love to punch in the face.

I actually agree with these BOZOS!!! I still want to punch them!!
I am not a violent person and these six people have done this to me, your friendly neighbourhood Plastic Mancunian.

I have actually just vomited a little in my mouth because I pictured myself supporting George Osborne and Jeremy Hunt.

The vote takes place in June and if you live in the UK, expect to see a campaign of total lies, excessive scaremongery with a smidgeon of sliminess, a dollop of faux-insincerity all garnished with a blob of false patriotism. If I see Cameron claim that he loves Britain more than anybody else again I think I will call Donald Trump to arrange to have a wall built around him.

Worse, we also have UKIP, the UK Independence Party, fronted by Nigel Farage, a man who is so anti-European that he married a German and hired her as his personal secretary. It’s beyond belief. Talk about hypocrisy.

No more Germans - apart from my wife!!!

You will hear arguments such as:

“If we leave the European Union, it will be terrible for business and there will be thousands of job losses.”

This is from the “IN” campaign – and from the "OUT" Campaign” you will hear:

“If we stay in the European Union, it will be terrible for business and there will be thousands of job losses.”

We hear the exact same argument from BOTH sides about National Security. Leaving the European Union and staying in the European Union will BOTH be catastrophic.

What the hell is the everyday British person supposed to believe?

I heard one commentator call the whole thing a pantomime and he is absolutely correct.

So who does the everyday Brit  support? Do we listen to the scaremongery of David Cameron or Boris Johnson?  Do we listen to so-called colleagues who were united during the last election but are now at each other’s throats over this?

Well I’ve made up my mind, as I said above,and I think we should stay in the European Union. From what I hear from real people on the subject, the "OUT" brigade are basically citing immigration and freedom of movement as the reason to leave.

All of the opposition parties support staying in the European Union and the further right you get, and the more xenophobic these people become (and yes I am talking about you, Nigel Farage, and your little Englander party of xenophobes).

This is the nasty undercurrent that the "OUT" brigade have to deal with.

Of course, most will say “It’s not that we’re scared of Europeans – it’s just …”.

I’m not saying that all those supporting the "OUT" campaign feel like this but I’ve heard a lot of people voicing this opinion as the reason to leave.

Personally, I am the complete opposite of xenophobic. I love the diversity of humanity, the amazing cultures that exist worldwide.  I love Europe and I would love to spend a large portion of my retirement in the south of France, Spain or Italy.

Maybe I will; maybe I won’t. But I do know that if we leave the European Union such dreams will be harder to achieve.

I just hope that the campaign of fear over the next few months is replaced by a more realistic explanation of the pros and cons of the EU, without resorting to xenophobia.

I can dream, can’t I?