Tuesday, 3 April 2007

British Rail passengers ...

I used the train last year for the first time in ages and found it to be a reasonably pleasant experience. I was travelling early morning from Norwich to London and it obviously wasn't so brilliant for those passengers who alighted at Colchester and Chelmsford, the last two stops, and found themselves standing.

We still have a long way to go on train travel, particularly if it is to compete with the low cost airlines. Fares need to come down, punctuality improved, and there does need to be additional carriages at certain times of the day, but it seems as if improvements are taking place.

This week has seen the French TGV train break its own speed record at around 357mph. If British trains attained that sort of speed, I just have this image of train staff serving teas and coffees ... whoaa!

Q: How many British Rail passengers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. They missed the connection when making the change.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Doorstep Sellers ...

When I were a small lad we lived in shoe box ... No, we didn't actually, we lived in a chalet bungalow in a Suffolk village called Bramfield ( catch up with The Bramfieldian here ) which was a great place to grow up.

Doorstep calling didn't seem quite so rife as it does now, but I do remember a very polite Seikh gentleman who would knock on the door every few months or so, carrying a suitcase packed with household items such as brushes, dusters etc. I suppose it was easier to sell such items then in rural areas because we didn't have any supermarkets close by, just a couple of village shops. My Mother would generally buy something from our Seikh friend and say goodbye until the next time. The likes of Bettaware have reinvented the home selling market, but generally door to door selling is just so old hat now, not to mention extremely annoying. Doorsteps sellers now have the training and the trickery. "I'm not trying to sell you anything today" Yeah, right, on your bike!

I remember a great sign I saw once which I keep meaning to hang up outside the front door. "Every third doorstep seller is shot. The second one has just left."

Q: How many doorstep sellers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: I can tell you now, countless surveys have shown we are top for changing lightbulbs. How much are you currently paying? We can save you at least 50% on your current bill. You don't have to do a thing, except sign here to say you'll think about it, and here, and just here.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Magicians ...

Magic is a hobby of mine and has been for a number of years now. I suppose it just started with a natural curiosity to find out how tricks were done, but as I started buying books and learning to perform effects I started to come up with my own. I've actually veered more to the mentalism side because that appealed to me more than the more conventional vanishes, transformations and levitations.

Over time I've built up a small collection of books on mentalism ( frightening if I add up the cost ) and because I enjoy solving puzzles I love to read and re-read these fascinating works and try and devise my own handling or method. Derren Brown has brought even more attention to this area of magic and my wife actually had the pleasure of being up on stage with him when he came to Norwich. My birthday treat and she gets to help out. Superb entertainment and a consumate professional. Derren Brown was good as well.

Q: How many magicians does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: One to actually change it, probably into a Bengal tiger with the bulb lit up inside it, but then several more will debate the method, others will claim it's their effect, still more will announce their own version to feature in their forthcoming publication, while others will make futile posts on magic forum asking for the method.

Soap Stars ...

What is it about the TV soaps that makes them such essential viewing for so many? Not me, I hasten to add. I did used to watch Corrie and Eastenders but just got bored with them. Unfortunately there are just so many love triangle combinations and complications with a small cast and it does get very repetitive.

Very often you'll see similar story lines crop up on different shows and you can soon spot echoes of past plots. Every now and then they try and spice it up with a death and disaster but even the Emmerdale who-dunnit has echoes of "Who Shot JR".

Too many shows per week to cram in and the quality is bound to suffer.

Q: How many soap stars does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Six or seven, probably at a party when the lights go out. While someone goes off to find a new bulb the husband from one couple and the wife from another will get better acquainted, someone will get struck down with a blunt instrument, someone will try and use a lighter to see in the dark a bit too close to the leaking gas stove and the house blows up.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Publishers ...

As I'm currently one short I'll throw in a quickie. I just don't care.

Q: How many publishers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Just one. They are quite capable of screwing both the bulb and the author.

Dentists ...

I had a very bad dental experience when I was fifteen and it put me of visiting the dentist for years. It was decided I required four teeth out and a brace fitting. I was given gas to facilitate this operation and under I went. A very peculiar dream ensued with me on a roller coaster with some bizarre characters resembling Bertie Bassett.

Anyway, back to the real world and I'm feeling a bit rough. My mother drove me home and had to stop the car several times while I evacuated my breakfast. I then had to return for a dental impression and then the brace fitting and I just got fed up with the whole enterprise.

I certainly admire my daughter who has undergone a similar experience in the past eighteen months ( but with injection rather than gas for the extractions ) and has now finished with her brace. Tooth care though is so much better these days.

I do now go regularly and although I still find it an uncomfortable experience, I do accept it's necessary if I'm to avoid losing my choppers in the foreseeable future.

Q: How many dentists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Just one, and his rather attractive dental nurse ( is there something going on there we wonder ) "Yes, I'm afraid that bulb will have to come out. Just a question of whether you want to leave a gap ( is it in a socket that can be seen easily? ), or perhaps you might consider replacing it with a false bulb. Let me show you some price comparisons."

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Cricketers ...

I've always loved watching cricket and when I was at school I always enjoyed playing it. Didn't have a huge talent with bat or ball, but made up for it with lots of enthusiasm.

My paternal grandfather was a big cricket fan and had played for his village team. The fact that he'd lost a leg during the First World War didn't stop him, and he went out to bat with a runner. ( For non cricket fans, he had someone else run between the wickets for him, but he faced the bowling )

He came to watch me once. I'd been persuaded to play for a town team by a friend and my family were there on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Sadly I went for a huge hit off the first ball and heard my stumps clatter. That was me back to the pavillion. My grandfather apparently was chatting to someone and missed my demise. It was back to watching the game after that.

Q: How many cricketers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None, because bad light stops play.