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.

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!

Tax avoidance tip

Are you sick of reading about large corporations paying small amounts of tax through clever avoidance schemes? Well now you can play the same game and exploit a tax loophole perfectly legally.

Here’s how it works. 80 grams of granulated sugar will cost you about 6p. Add it to a litre of your favourite soft drink, and you save 24p in sugar tax. That’s 18p in your pocket right there.

Too many words!

You know that old demonstration of our everyday mistakes in perception? “Paris in the the spring.” When laid out on the page so that the line breaks after the first three words many readers do not notice the duplicate “the”.

Well I have begun to notice that people are doing a similar thing in speech. It isn’t “the” which gets repeated, but the word “is”. As in

The problem is, is the government has missed its target.


The trouble with that suggestion is, is it’s totally impractical.

Here is an example. In this two minute YouTube clip the speaker does it three times. It’s almost imperceptible, but she definitely slips in a duplicate “is” each time.

Is this new, or have people always done it?

Vehicle tax madness

I just received my vehicle tax reminder. The amount you have to pay depends on how much carbon dioxide (CO2) it emits per kilometre. As my car produces rather a lot, I have to pay a huge amount of vehicle tax.

You might think this is a good idea. Superficially it is. Penalise those who produce the most air pollution and save the planet! However,  Continue reading

RIP Mr Bernicoff

So, Leon Bernicoff has died. Sad news about the Gogglebox star whose guileless personality made him a viewers’ favourite.

I knew him only as Mr Bernicoff when he taught me history. So far as we were concerned, teachers had no first names, homes, or families of their own. As if they existed only during school hours and, like a holographic image from a sci-fi movie, disappeared into the ether at the flick of a switch every afternoon.

Except for a rare few like Mr Bernicoff. His wife June also taught at our school, which felt strange as it kind of broke through the fourth wall. But also you knew where you were with him. He had an openness of character and showed a passion for his vocation.

And though I very rarely need to recall the fact, it’s thanks to Mr Bernicoff I know that Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz introduced movable-type printing to Europe.

Thank you, sir.

Nuke the uke!

I was on my bank’s website today because I needed to query a transaction. In order to help me understand the bank’s process for dealing with disputed transactions I was presented with a choice of guides – either plain text, or a short video.

My mouse hovered over the video start button. In that moment my heart sank, and I realised that I would much prefer not to click, but to read the paragraphs of dull text instead. Because I never want to hear another jolly ukulele background loop in an online video. Ever. Again.

I went ahead and read the guide and sent the transaction query. Then I returned to the page containing the video. And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire.


Whilst watching TV yesterday I was idly channel flip-flopping between the Euro 2016 football and Wimbledon tennis. What struck me was the difference in behaviour expected of the players and spectators in the two sports. It’s time to mix things up a bit.

For example, to aid players’ concentration I think the football referee should insist on complete quiet from the crowd.

By the same token, I think it would make tennis more fun if after winning each set the player ran around the court doing an aeroplane, finishing with a spectacular knee-slide.