Monday, February 13, 2023

John Gets A Haircut

Today John is going to the barbers. Janet had said he needed a haircut and gave him 2/6d to give to Mr Kopitov. Do you know what 2/6d is? John doesn’t.

“What are these coins?” he asked.

“That’s two shillings and six pence!” said Janet, “and where’s your stupid floppy hat?”

“I can see the words on them . . .” started John. “I’m wearing it, Janet.” he added.

“Oh, so you are. Well, you’d better get going. Mr Kopitov is busy on Tuesdays.”

“But what is this funny money?” John asked again, confused by the coins she had given him.

“It’s half a crown. That’s what you have to pay for your haircut. Now, be off with you before it gets any longer and I have to send you to Gigis for a perm and blow dry.”

“All right” said John, and he set off in his pretty white shirt, shiny pink shoes and short purple trousers and big cream floppy hat.

“Oh, that reminds me,” says Miss Bobbles, “I must get some flowers” as John passes by.

“Good morning, Miss Boobies!” calls out John, nearly getting her name right.

Soon he arrived at Chop It Off. That was the name of the barber’s shop. That was very clever of Mr Kopitov don’t you think?

John was very small, though, and hadn’t spotted the name. He saw Mrs Plumpley coming down the street.

“Mrs Plumpley!” he called out.

“Hello, young John!” she replied. “And don’t you look fine in your pretty shirt and trousers and big floppy hat!”

“Yes.” agreed John. “But Janet says I look like a Duddy Blandy. Or something like that.”

“Hmm . . .” thought Mrs Plumpley. “She needs to get a bit more up-to-date. That girl needs to wake up and smell the coffee these days. But, anyway, what are you doing here?”

“ I want Chop It Off” replied John.

“Ooh, I say, John. What has Janet been telling you?”

“She said it was too long and she doesn’t want to give me a blow dry.”

Mrs Plumpley explained that she needed to rush along and ran off down the street.

John saw Mrs Cuppleweight.

“Mrs Cuppleweight!” he called. “I want Chop It Off”

“No you don’t,” asserted Mrs Cuppleweight. “Mr Cuppleweight feels like that sometimes and I can usually find something to help him feel better about things.”

“But Janet gave me 2/6d to give to Mr Kopitov . . .”

“Oh! You mean Chop It Off the new barber shop! That’s a relief! It’s right behind you.”

“Ah, Mrs Cuppleweight - ha ha - you’re playing with me now and pretending that we’re in a pantomime!!”

“Oh no I’m not!” said Mrs Cuppleweight.

“Oh yes you are!” said John, giggling and picking up one foot in a strange way.

“Hallo young man!” boomed an enormous voice with a Russian accent behind John.

“Aargh!!” cried out John.

“Told you!” said Mrs Cuppleweight as she walked off.

“Are you the pantomime baddie monster thing come to eat me all up?” asked John, still convinced he was in some kind of weird pantomime.

“No. I’m the barber. Do you want a haircut?”

“Oh yes, please!” replied John, finally realising that he was safe and putting his foot back down on the ground.

“Come on in then and jump up on that chair. Oh wait, you’ll need a plank.”

John jumped up on the chair that now had a plank across the arms, so he would be as high as the men would be.”

“Yes, you do need a haircut, young fellow-me-lad,” said Mr Kopitov as he got to work with the scissors.

After a while Mr Kopitov had finished and John had a nice, neat short back and sides underneath his big cream floppy hat.

“Anything for the weekend?” enquired Mr Kopitov.

“No.” said John. “My sister will be glad that she doesn’t have to give me a Blow Dry now.”

“Right.” said Mr Kopitov. “That’ll be £4.50, please.”

John gave him the two shillings and six pence that Janet had given him.

Do you know what 2/6d is? Kr Kopitov doesn’t.

“What’s this then?” he asked. “Do you not have a card? Or you can use your phone if you like? Just tap it here on this screen.”

John looked very confused and said that he would come back with some money later. Mr Kopitov was a kind man and said he could pay another day.

John ran home. Janet was in the garden pulling up weeds.

“Where have you been?” she squawked. “You’ve been a long time!”

“I got my haircut, like you told me to.” replied John.

“It doesn’t look any different.” said Janet.

John took off his big cream floppy hat.

“Mrs Cuppleweight said you should get a date up and break for coffee. She says that I shouldn’t be worried because her husband sometimes wants to have it off too. The barber was very kind. He gave me a plank and said that I didn’t have to pay him today. He said I could come back tomorrow and do something with what he had in his hand instead of money.”

See Janet make a big hole in the garden.

See John run.

John Goes To The Shops

Today John is going to Mr Giblett the Butcher. He has to buy some sausages for Janet and Mrs Plumpley asked him to collect some butter while he was in town. See John run along the street in his little brown shorts and big cream floppy hat. “Oh, that reminds me,” says Miss Bobbles, “I must get some mushrooms” as John passes by.

“Good morning, Miss Boobies!” calls out John, nearly getting her name right.

At Mr Giblett the Butcher’s, John asks for some sausage.

“Janet wants some sausage.” he says.

“And what sausage will that be, young John?” asked Mr Giblett “She usually has half a dozen of my Old English. But I do have some lovely bratwurst from Germany that is much bigger but more fatty”.

“I like an Old English sausage too,” added Mrs Cuppleweight, who was standing in the queue behind him. “It’s the best for Toad in The Hole.”

Do you know what Toad in The Hole Is? John didn’t.

“What’s Toad in The Hole, Mrs Cuppleweight?” he asked.

“Oh that’s when you get some nice batter and wrap it around your sausage. Delicious!” she told him. “You should try it one day. Ask Janet to make it for you. She will also need some butter. Anchor butter is best, I find. “If you wait a minute, John, I will get my chicken and we can go to the next shop together.”

“All right.” said John. John watched as Mrs Cuppleweight bought some pieces of chicken.

“Look at these, John!” she called, “Mr Giblett always keeps a packet of some nice chicken breasts on the side for me on Tuesdays and on Saturdays I come to see if he has some thighs for a stew.”

“Thank you very much.” said John, smiling at Mrs Cuppleweight. “I have to buy some butter for Mrs Plumpley today.”

“You’ll have to get two packs then, John.” she said. “Do you have enough money? I can help you if you don’t.”

John finished his shopping and ran back home. Janet was waiting for him.

“Where have you been?!” she shouted. “And what took you so long?”

See John panting.

“Well, I saw Mrs Cuppleweight in Mr Gibletts. She showed me her packet of big breasts. And she told me I need two Anchors and she would give me a hand if I didn’t have enough in my pocket”.

See Janet doing the ironing.

“Mr Giblett gives her one every Tuesday because she has stew. And she checks his thighs on Saturday”.

Janet slaps another pair of yellow trousers on the ironing board. “And what about my sausage?” she demands.

“Oh, Mr Giblett says you usually have some old English but thinks you’d like a fatter German for a change. And Mrs Cuppleweight says butter’s better to batter the Toad in your Hole.”

See Janet pick up the iron. See John run.


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Office technology

I've got this device called a Pen. It works well and can cope with all sorts of different fonts and languages. It doesn't have predictive text, unfortunately, but maybe SwiftKey will do something about that now they have bags of money from Microsoft.

It is very portable, light and easy to pack away and store, It fits in a pocket easily but I probably wouldn't suggest a trouser pocket. There aren't any obvious versions and there is no need for upgrades or updates as most brands are cheap enough to discard when they stop working. Some do have replaceable units, a bit like printer cartridges but, of course, pen-shaped.

You don't need a printer for hard copy as that is produced automatically and you can use a very wide range of material which also need not be a particular size that fits in a printer tray. So if you like to print on banana skins, which a lot of people do once they've tried it, the pen is ideal.

I found that I couldn't create strings of text as fast as I can with a keyboard but if you need hard copy then the pen is likely to be quicker for small amounts of text and almost all simple drawings. Everyone will be different, I suppose, and it will be interesting to see at what point it is quicker to use a pen than type and print in the traditional way. Probably up to around 150 words in my case.

Whilst the pen doesn't come with a delete key there is an interesting device that has something similar. This device is a CIL edition of the Pen and, in a clever design, you can flip the Pencil and apply the opposite end to erase characters or lines. Unlike the Undo feature (or Ctrl + Z) on the keyboard, the smart thing about a Pencil is that it can undo selected elements in any order without the need to highlight them first.

If they do start having version numbers for the Pen then I am advised that marketing people would prefer they start at 16 or higher.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

I am not One of Us

What has the world come to? Not that many years ago, you'd get a slap on the back for getting your tax bill down to a minimum. No-one wanted to pay tax and we would look at the rules and regulations closely to ensure that we were getting the full benefit of any allowances to which we might be entitled as a business.

I'm not talking about doing anything dishonest or illegal. There were regulations, published by the Inland Revenue, and you would simply ensure that you were aware of what was possible. Many accountants' prime function would be to justify their fees by spotting something that we'd missed and saving some more precious profits for the benefit of those who had actually made them.

So it seems entirely reasonable to me that an organisation like Google, Amazon, Starbucks or any of the others who have been in the press recently, would obtain advice on how best to arrange their business such that tax or other liabilities were minimised. And minimised within the law. In a week when we hear that Tescos were deliberately delaying payment to some suppliers in order to make their trading figures appear better (although quite how that would fool any reasonably intelligent analyst I don't know) it seems strange that it is the tax avoiders that are getting the full brunt of the attack from the new protesters.

I was going to write 'left wing' protesters but it seems that quite a few mainstream commentators, not known as particularly Leftist or for bashing big business, are moaning about what these companies are 'getting away with'. So Google may only pay a few million tax this year on several billion turnover? OK, so, assuming they're not contravening any regulations, I'd say well done to their financial advisers. If the Inland Revenue don't like it then they should change the regulations for future calculations.

It is also a requirement that those advising Google and others do so to the best of their ability and, if they did not make them aware of methods by which liabilities for tax could be reduced (and hence ultimate benefits for the company,its staff, customers and shareholders enhanced), then they would be failing in their duty. What is a company supposed to do? Yes, we'll take that allowance but, no, we won't use that one. Have any of these moaners and commentators who seem ill-equipped to challenge them in interviews, actually any real clue as to how businesses function?

Looking at Google specifically, I continue to be amazed at just how much I get out of their products and without paying a single penny. All my email communication, most of my office documents, many of my web sites and a whole host of programs linking this to that rely on Google products. This blog does. Add Android, Chrome, ChromeCast and YouTube and most of my working day and evening entertainment and communications are Google-based. Their products work. They work well and I have been using them for ten years or more in some cases. Google must have saved me a fortune in fees that I would otherwise have had to pay Microsoft or some other company. Schools, colleges and institutions of all shapes and sizes have benefited immensely from their products and, whilst other products are available and, in many cases, just as good and also free, a whole generation is growing up with all that is free from Google.

So it would seem sensible to me to encourage Google to continue to perform well and not threaten to 'boycott' them. (I did have to smile at someone on a radio programme today who said they would use another search engine, probably not realising that they were still using an Android phone or Chrome browser or that the results may well still point to a YouTube link!)

Change the over-complicated tax legislation. Work with other countries and come up with some system that blocks loopholes by all means. But moan when companies find legitimate ways around tax laws/ That is not something I expected to hear from the masses.

When I was young and just starting out in employment there was a sort of Us and Them in the air. We respected the tax man, government civil servants and the like, recognised they had a job to do but did our best to ensure they only got what they were entitled to. Now Them appear to be the big businesses in the world and Us has become a Victoria sponge mix of affronted public, politicians of mostly middle to left inclination, most tv and radio commentators  almost anyone working for a nationalised industry but not, interestingly, the Inland Revenue tax negotiators themselves. They do seem to have seen the sense in getting what they can and getting on with life.

It seems that I am no longer One of Us.

Friday, May 15, 2015


It isn't often that I sit in a field on my own and giggle out loud, not only because work and the climate here makes a conjunction of a free hour or two in daytime and sunshine a rare occurrence but also the state of my health and finances are not particularly amusing so something quite extraordinary tends to be required by way of input.

This short extract from The Salmon of Doubt by the late Douglas Adams was suitably and extraordinarily fine and amused me to such an extent that I must bring it to your attention.

I was a bit early for the train. I'd got the time of the train wrong. I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table. I want you to picture the scene. It's very important that you get this very clear in your mind. Here's the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, cookies. There's a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy, wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase. It didn't look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out and ate it. 
Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There's nothing in our background, upbringing or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies. You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would very quickly have been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know... But in the end I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn't do anything and thought What am I going to do?
In the end I thought Nothing for it, I'll just have to go for it and I tried very hard to ignore the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took a cookie for myself. I thought That settled him. But it hadn't because a moment or two later he did it again. He took another cookie. Having not mentioned it the first time It was somehow even harder to raise the subject second time around. 'Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice...' I mean, it doesn't really work.
We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back.
A moment or two later the train was coming in so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, and picked up my newspaper, and underneath my newspaper were my cookies. The thing I particularly like about this story is that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the past quarter century a perfectly ordinary guy who's had the exact same story, only he doesn't have the punch line.

From a speech by Douglas Adams, 2001.
The Salmon of Doubt

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Doors Greatest Hits Complete Album

01 Break On Through (To The Other Side) ---- 00:01 02 Soul Kitchen ----------------------------------------­- 02:29 03 The Crystal Ship ------------------------------------ 06:04 04 Twentieth Century Fox --------------------------- 08:39 05 Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) ------------------- 11:13 06 Light My Fire ----------------------------------------­- 14:33 07 Back Door Man ------------------------------------- 21:41 08 I Looked At You ------------------------------------- 25:16 09 End Of The Night ----------------------------------- 27:38 10 Take It As It Comes ------------------------------- 30:31 11 The End ----------------------------------------­-------- 32:48 12 Moonlight Drive (Version 1) (bonus) ---------- 44:33 13 Moonlight Drive (Version 2) (bonus) ---------- 47:17 14 Indian Summer (8.19.66 Vocal) (bonus) ---- 49:47