Temper your language!

This morning’s online newspaper has much discussion about the language and tone used in the House of Commons earlier in the week. Several Members of Parliament and commentators have sought to link the Prime Minister’s use of phrases such as “surrender act” in referring to the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, to the post-Brexit referendum increase in threats, abuse and violence suffered by some MPs.

But hasn’t the House of Commons traditionally been a bear-pit, particularly during Prime Minister’s Questions? Haven’t Members always used hyperbole? Opposing Members sit two sword lengths apart, and the Speaker is physically dragged to his seat.

It appears to me that the deplorable behaviour towards our elected representatives is part of a tidal change in the way we relate to each other, and this longer term wave includes elements such as the rise in acts of terrorism, the increasing use of social media, with the anonymity it affords, and the practice of journalists ambushing politicians entering or leaving their homes or heckling them across Downing Street.

As I was reading, I noticed at the top of the screen an advert by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board whose current marketing slogan is the fatuous “Lamb – Hits you in the chops!”

More health and safety nonsense

I have written before about health and safety silliness here and here. Recently, two examples of safety signage caught my attention, because it is impossible to comply with them. Inside the control panel of my replacement burglar alarm is a sticker which says, “This appliance must be earthed.” And indeed, the mains terminal block inside has three terminals – for live, neutral and earth. However, the earth terminal is not connected to anything. By design, it does not need an earth, there is no way to earth it, and yet the manufacturer adds a sticker telling you to earth it.

I went to the dentist this week. They have lots of information on the walls these days, including one at the entrance warning that they have a zero tolerance policy towards abuse. That has been there for a while, presumably being a key factor in keeping things relatively civil.

Now each dentist’s surgery door has been adorned with a sticker which says, “X-rays, keep out.” I cannot see how this serves any purpose. Firstly, it has to be ignored, which must undermine the importance which people attach to safety signs in general. Secondly, when the dentist takes an x-ray, he and the assistant step outside the surgery before he presses the button on a remote control cord. Nobody could physically get past them, so there is zero chance of anybody being exposed to x-rays. Except of course the patient, who gets a full dose right in the mouth.

Burglar Alarm Installers Beware!


My house burglar alarm packed in after thirty years’ service. I chose to fit the replacement myself, including a Texecom Odyssey 1E external sounder.

It comes in a box printed with a mounting template. Very handy! Unfortunately if you do as I did and drill holes according to this, you will end up cursing your decision not to simply offer up the backplate and mark the hole positions with a screwdriver or something.

That is because one of the holes marked on the template is over 25 mm out! It’s the odd one below and to the left of the cable entry hole. You can get away with just a screw at each corner (the top middle hole is just an installation aid really. If you put a screw in the wall here, you can hang the backplate on it whilst you mark out the other hole locations, negating the need for the template).

So what’s the odd-one-out for? That secures the tamper switch to the wall. Without it, a determined burglar could theoretically prise the unit off the wall without removing the cover. With it, the tamper switch would remain attached to the wall, and the switch lever touching the cover would no longer be held down, triggering an alarm.

Admittedly in a domestic setting, this screw is overkill. But I thought, for the sake of a screw and a minute’s drilling, I might as well put it in. I now have one too many holes in my wall. Annoying.

An Irony button

irony button

This button is from a pair of trousers I bought from C&A. And no, that doesn’t mean that they are 17 years old, despite the fact that C&A disappeared from UK high streets in 2001.

The clothing chain, which I remember my grandmothers routinely referring to as “C&A Modes,” is still going strong on the Continent.

Unfortunately, their buttons are’t very strong.

Dream on


Nytol Soccer Toppers

Amazon have plenty of ways to get you to buy more stuff. One technique is letting you know what other customers also purchase with the item you are considering.

This occasionally throws up oddities like the strange pairing shown here.

Cold War (2018)

Cold War 2018If you see only one film this year, make sure you catch Cold War (original Polish title Zimna wojna). I found it mesmerising, with gorgeous black and white cinematography, haunting musical performances, and a love story which was deeply moving. It’s also a history lesson, taking the viewer on an express journey through the decades in post-war Europe.

Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski and starring the Monroe-esque Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot.

Put a stop to it!

I don’t know whether it’s because of Brexit, but there is a subtle change in pronunciation taking place in British English. The phrase ‘the EU’ is said much more frequently these days, as the nation debates the issues around Britain leaving the European Union. It’s a little awkward to pronounce those two ‘e’ sounds one after the other. So people have started to shift from saying ‘thee EU’ to ‘thuh EU’, spoken with a slight stop at the back of the throat to separate the two words.

What’s interesting is that this glottal stop is becoming more widespread in general speech. So ‘the orange juice’ becomes ‘thuh orange juice’ even though it doesn’t facilitate pronunciation.

One of the many unintended consequences of Brexit!