Dont buy the Sun.

Dont buy the Sun.
Hillsborough Justice campaign - Remember the 96.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Introducing Sixglobal

Based on actual events..........


It was my younger brother's behaviour at a party that first caused me to doubt my ancestry. Sitting in the kitchen, Richard, who has always truly been lion-hearted, flinched as he saw the hand appear through the doorway that led to the hall. But the simple appearance of a hand was not the cause of his instinctive reaction, it was the object contained in the hand that caused this particular blonde giant to attempt evasion, as a beer glass, full of cheap, warm, English beer was emptied indiscriminately towards the handful of people chatting happily next to the oven. Laughter from the group in the hallway immediately followed Richard's expletives as the majority of the liquid landed on his shirt front.

I was occupied in conversation in another room, but recognized the full-blooded roar that echoed throughout the house in the immediate aftermath. Richard in full temper is a frightening beast, anger shakes every inch of his massive frame, and once started, it has to go somewhere. He seems to grow significantly, his nostrils flare and his eyes become utterly focused on whatever has offended him. The word "molten" springs to mind, and not in the sense of languorous Meditteranean paramours, but more in the sense of a very angry mountain crushing everything in it's path. "Relentless" also springs to mind, but this time not in any other sense than in the sense of relentlessness. Remarkably though, Richard is one of the few people I know who can actually maintain coherence while angry, even at Force 11 (measured on the Beaufort Scale and defined as: "Violent Storm: Very rarely experience: accompanied by wide-spread damage."), and can conduct perfectly lucid conversations.

It was this ability to maintain calm, while being completely outraged, that was in evidence as I arrived in the hallway. Richard was negotiating with a group of chaps, (assisted by my elder brother who was also at the party), and was insisting on obtaining the identity of the culprit. Presumably, after identification, Richard had in mind a discussion between himself and the yob to arrive at a mutually satisfactory form of compensation, and knowing my younger kinsman, he was perfectly capable of letting the hoodlum escape with no more than having to forfeit the price of a taxi fare home and an exceeding long, angry, involved lecture, complete with diagrams, statistics and flip-charts, on anti-social behaviour(we Nykksun's are capable of out-pompous-ing a Church of England Bishop when we fell righteously aggrevied. And sometimes, even when we do'nt.).

Whoever the outlaw was, he was understandably reluctant to come forth and pay his Danegeld. I myself, if unarmed with the knowledge that the only price I would pay for my crime was surrendering a crisp fiver and getting lectured for a good half hour by a very angry, but otherwise perfectly harmless, large bear-like creature, would probably have likewise refrained from claiming the calumny as my handiwork, but to stay silent was nevertheless, a dubious act, when measured by the Drunk's Code of Conduct (Rule 3: Always 'fess up) or any other code of honour.

Which is how I found myself outside in the driveway, facing a drunken rugby team, accompanied by my elder and younger brother. Younger brother, his enquiries having been met with stonewalling, had decided that the whole hallway group, from whom the beer had undeniably originated, should all be faced with justice, and his logical investigations having failed, had agreed with the Captain of the rugby team that honour should be satisfied in a more direct fashion. Richard was in mid-sentence, apparently issuing a final demand , when from out of the Rugby crowd, a punch was thrown. He dived in without further ado, and quickly had two prop-forwards in headlocks, one under each arm. Peter and I watched with admiration, "Two-down" said Peter, "He's only got another thirteen to go", when Richard's battlecry, as he advanced on the hooker and the scrum-half, reminded us that the support we were supposed to be offering should be more than applause.

Fortunately for the remainder of the Rugby team, Peter and I were not called into action that night, because the commotion had attracted the attentions of a local copper, whose appearance defused the whole situation incredibly rapidly. "What's going on here, then?" the law-enforcer demanded. "Nothing Officer", someone said. "We were doing a conga and the lads bumped into eachother and fell over". The constable raised an eyebrow, and advised all the party was over.

On the way home, I glanced at my younger brother - wild staring eyes, torn garments, blood-flushed face, nostrils still flared and twitching. I'd always been admonished for bad behaviour by my mother with phrases like "You ought to know better, you're related to the Kings Of Ireland", but it was one of my father's expressions which probably reveals more about our ancestry : "I do'nt know what's wrong with you lot - have you gone completely berserk?".



This is by way of introducing my forthcoming website Sixglobal, which features another obsession - history and origins. I'm starting with my own family, but more than willing to investigate yours. Do'nt expect a complete family tree though, this is more about the occasional story, legend or travelogue. The story above is a sample. The new site should be linked to this page by the end of the week.

Recommended Reading : Viking's Dawn, The Road to |MIklagard, Viking's Sunset, all by Henry Treece.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Things you did'nt know about....

I was smirking to myself, taking pictures at Hull's Paragon Station, when I was rudely interrupted. "Excuse me sir" the burly Pinkerton man said "No pictures allowed in the station". The man looked familiar, I'd definitely seen him somewhere before. I inquired what he meant. "Station rules, no pictures allowed", he said "Particularly of the signs". "The signs?" I asked, intrigued, "Why?". The guard used the one word which seems to have become a catch-all explanation, covering everything from allowing the Government to install CCTV cameras everywhere to removing garbage bins from the unlikeliest of places - "Security".

I puzzled the link between a possible terrorist campaign and Transpennine Express . I realize that terrorists have targeted rail stations before, and of course it is no laughing matter. But anyone trying to co-ordinate any kind of campaign depends on split-second timing, and to be honest, a good half hour's reconnaisance at any station run by Transpennine would be enough to persuade the most ardent evil do-er that scheduling an attack using Transpennine as a delivery method is militarily a bad idea.

The poster that caused the problem is featured above and advertises many statistics. One I would like to highlight. Transpennine boast that there are 18,000 miles between breakdowns. Impressive sounding at first, I have to admit, but applying their figures to the Hull, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool line which is only one of the lines they operate reveals a slight problem. The distance between Hull and Liverpool is approximately 200 miles by rail, and there are approximately 15 scheduled retrun trips per day between the dissimilair ports of Hull and Liverpool. This means that daily, Transpennine travel 6000 miles per day, just on this one line. Therefore, the theoretical train that sails this route breaks down every three days.

Even Transpennine's own figures damn them. They claim to have 280 scheduled trains per day. Assuming, conservatively, that each journey is 40 miles long, that means they cover about 11,200 miles per day. There is therefore a train breakdown every 1.5 days. On a network which despite it's 48 million pound per year profit refuses to invest in new rolling stock AND admits that they do not have enough trains, this is not good news for passengers. No wonder they have, as they boast in their poster, the longest station bench in the world. The passengers need somewhere to wait., refraining from taking photographs while they do so, of course.

Extreme Sports

I wandered down to HUll's waterfront today, an area of the town I had not previously explored. This was the scene at 3.00pm, local time:
video

The rippling noise is, of course wind. To get the full story, the next video should be played bearing in mind that it was shot immediately after the previous one in this post.




video

Monday, 24 December 2007

Oranges and Rednecks

Watching actor David Tennant (the current face of Dr Who, a BBC/CBC co-production) retrace his ancestors, brings back memories of an earlier Christmas Eve. It's 10.30am and I've risen five hours later than my now accustomed reveille. Nel's at the local store trying to find some mint for our Christmas Dinner. We're dining at Dr Chang's tomorrow, in the company of his Indian research assistant. Dinner promises to be fun, a Chinese banquet. Our contribution is the traditional English dish of pineapple and cucumber salad with mint and chilli, hence Nel's last minute expotition.

In preparation for my contribution(hunting down some beer), I'm watching "Who do you think you are" which is a geneaology programme. In line with current British TV guidelines, the lives of celebrities are inherently more interesting than other people's and due to the fact that there are millions of celebrities ranging from footballers wives through to chefs and fitness instructors, gardeners, taxi-drivers, demolition experts, wallpaperers and criminals, the programme should run and run.

It appears that Tennant (who derived his stage name from the Pet Shop Boys) has discovered that his maternal grandparents were rabid Orangemen. Orangemen are Northern Ireland Protestants, loyal to the English crown who have historically taken the position that Northern Ireland (or the Occupied Six Counties as Republicans call them) belong to England. The name Orangemen derives from William of Orange, a Dutch Protestant Prince who defeated Catholics in a Battle over four hundred years ago. Tennant is dismayed by this discovery, as to people of a liberal bent, having an Orangeman in the family is akin to being related to the Great Wizzard of the Ku Klux KLan. It is generally accepted, when describing most Orangemen, that the words "rabid", "partisan", "uncompromising", "discriminatory", "mad" and "violent" would not be underemployed.

The programme reminds me of my first interaction with an Orangeman, which was co-incidentally, one of my first encounters with a Protestant of any description. I had taken a job as a Christmas casual at our local Post Office, and was assigned to a massive wall of wooden boxes or pigeonholes. Each pigeonhole represented a street, or section of road, in our Post Office's catchment area, and the whole wall was sectioned into ten "walks", each walk being the route of a particular postman. The streets were arranged within each section to correspond to the order of route that each postman walked. The task of the twelve or so eager teenagers facing the wall, was to dip into the huge bins of mail lined up opposite the wall, and fill a specific "walk" as quickly as possible. Interestingly, we were not required to undertake any tests for the job. In those days, literacy was assumed.

After a few days, I became chummy with the kid next to me who'd been assigned "Bonsall Drive to Fairfield Crescent". We chatted as teenagers do: "Allright?", "Allright". "Cant wait to hometime". "Yeah. I'm starvin". Later on, as our intimacy developed, we began to put whole sentences together, and Billy learnt that I played bass in my brother's group. "I play meself" said Billy. "Pipes in a band". "What sort of band?", I asked. ""You know, marchin band" Billy said "With the Lodge". I laughed, "The Lodge? The Orangemen? You know what's funny? My mum used to throw stones at you guys when you marched, and here we are, mates!". Billy looked up "You're a redneck?" he said. "Yeah", I laughed ""Hope no one in Canny Farm finds out!". Canny Farm was the area me and Billy had been assigned to, and was traditionally a wall to wall Protestant area. Billy glared at me, and the above conversation represents the longest, and final conversation we had. Thereafter, Billy would'nt acknowledge me at all.

Irony is a much overused concept, but years later I was researching my own geneaology. The directly Irish branch of my family tree is hard to establish, except that the McEvoys were one of the Seven Septs of Leish. My patrinomy is easier to trace, with the result that relatively early in my search I discovered that my father's Godfather was one Reverend Nicholson, a mentor of Dr Ian Paisley. Dr Ian Paisley is described in many ways, "firebrand", "man of God", "lunatic", "bigot", "hero", but all descriptions of him agree on one thing. Paisley is a Unionist, probably the most pre-eminent Loyalist in recent times, and a hero to Orangemen everywhere. If only Billy had known - perhaps we would have been friends.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

The Golden Compass - Movie Review

Self and Boffin went out last night. This in itself is significant, as it represented the first night out in downtown Hull we have experienced since we moved here. The movie was great - lots and lots of animals, action, weird machines and special effects. Good story too, with a fair representation of the books main themes.

After the movie we decide to go for a quiet drink, near the harbour, another virginal experience for us. The scene in downtown Hull's drinking quarter is hard to describe. Most of the females were wearing mini Santa outfits that exposed legs, midrift and shoulders, accompanied by very high heels and enough make-up to make the average clown look incomplete. The males are 90% skinhead, burly, loud rumbustious and slightly threatening - big gangs of them wandering the streets like gatherings of adolescent baboons. It is an exclusively white display, and the near harbour pubs that look cosy and welcoming by day are turned into infernos of flashing lights, crap music and cheap perfume.

After wandering the streets for a short while, amazed and in a daze, we find a quietish pub. It is not particularly pleasant place, but it does for a quick discussion about the movie, and the scene we've just witnessed, which rivals the movie in terms of it's unreality. We agree the movie was great, but notice that the age range of the people who are getting abandoned in their drunkenness, pissing in doorways and are shepherded by a massive police prescence (in the form of four van loads of fully riot-equipped squads parked at a major intersection) is our age range. This is'nt Laguna Beach Fresher's Week, or Daytona, this is mostly forty-year olds displaying themselves.

The theory we develop is that the nightclub culture that we both thoroughly embraced as early twenty-somethings has become a way of life for these people, uninterrupted by adulthood. It is unrecognisable as a night out in any Canadian city that either of us lived in or visited - Halifax, Toronto, Montreal, London, Moncton, St John, St Johns, Ottowa, Hamilton, Sarnia - the activities on display in Hull seem to be shouting, pushing, pissing, crying, arguing, screaming and very little laughing, smiling and talking. Cafe Society this is not.

We get home safely and take the cats for a walk, describing the movie to them, and telling Toshack off for breaching the "You do'nt pounce on your sister when she's doing her toilet" Rule. It is nice to see some normal behaviour.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Curiouser and more curiouserer

A phone call from Bill confirms something I suspect I have subconsciously known for twenty years or so: I do'nt need to trawl the web and bookshops looking for the causes of complexity in human societies because Nel and I ARE the cause of it. Or at the very least, magnets for the phenomena.

When we came to Hull, we declared loud and proud to anyone and everyone that a significant part of our new five year plan was to do nothing exciting for the next couple of years or so. A period of consolidation we grandly announced, time to put our house in order, buckle down, grow up, toe the line, do the right thing, circle the wagons and generally try to spend as much time as possible bored out of our skulls. We crossed the road to avoid interesting looking people, watched television for a week straight, and settled in. We even decided to eat bland, wholesome food. This part of the plan we called "The RoadMap to Peas". We also resolved that for at least a year we would avoid lawsuits, try not to spend more than $8000 per year on pet care, avoid hikes in bear-infested mountainous regions, and start as few new businesses as possible. In short, "situations" were to be avoided at all costs.


The decision to purchase a house fit perfectly with our plan, a mature, sensible decision, and given that we were not going to be part of a 'chain', it would be relatively straightforward. It was about 8.30pm last night as we were standing on the step of the house we thought we were buying, listening to the Estonian tenant describe in tearful, broken English how if she were to move out on December 19th as agreed, then she would have no-where to overwinter her 14 children, that I realized we had entered another situation. Naturally, for us at least, buying this house has become very complicated.

Perhaps the fact that the house was owned by a person, who it would compliment hugely to call a slum-lord, and was managed by a Property Management company (Gold's) who gave every appearance of being directly related to Tiverton's (at least judging by their professionalism) should have caused pause for thought, but despite difficulties gaining access we negotiated hard and agreed a goodish price. Conditions included that the place be free and clear of tenants, and was subject to the results of the survey. Emma gave the tenants two months notice, and we set about arranging a mortgage.

[Note: In England house buying follows the following process - viewing, negotiations/offer, acceptance of offer, arrange mortgage, get survey done, renegotiate(sometimes only), sign contracts, agree closing date. Up to the point of signing contracts the seller can pull out at any time. The survey costs money, (up to £700) as do legal necessities like a land search etc. (called conveyancing), so you can possibly spend a lot of money only to have the seller withdraw from your agreement - for example, they may receive a higher offer. ]

After we received the results of the survey(building inspection) we returned to the negotiating table, pointing out that the place was a fire-trap and we wanted a further reduction in price for re-wiring and safety checks on the gas heating system. Phone calls to the property manager's agent, Emma, on this issue received no response, so we e-mailed our new position. We were one phone call away from a deal, so were anxious to hear Emma's response.

Still no response from Emma, so Nosmo King, our legal rep, kindly called Gold's to find out what was going on. I was locking up at work in Leeds when NK called me with his findings. Emma had suffered a nervous breakdown, was now on long-term sick leave, and had failed to relay our most recent position to anyone at Gold's. Furthermore, Gold's owner, an unpallatable cove called Mr Gold, told Nosmo that they(Gold's) were NOT in the business of selling houses as anything other than investment property, and therefore had definitely NOT and never would, in the case of Ella Street, instructed the tenants to leave. The fact that we were in possession of letters from Mr Slum Lord's solicitors, and from Emma(issued prior to her breakdown) stating that notice to quit had been given was immaterial. NK staged a tactical withdrawal, and called me up with a cunning plan, simple in execution, imbued with a daring simplicity that cut through bureaucratic red tape like a Japanese Iaido Blade of the early 16th century.

NK's plan was that we should knock at the door of Ella Street and ask the tenants if they had been booted out. Under normal circumstances, I would not quail at such a plan - it made sense, it was straightforward, and it had an air of detectiveness that was romantically appealing. However, what Nosmo was unaware of was that the denizons of the joint seemed an unruly mob. Hard-core pornography wallpaper aside, there were at least two burly, hostile, excitable Eastern European teenagers and several unfriendly rug-rats that we had seen during our viewings. What would the parents be like?

Nevertheless, the scheme made sense and had to be risked, but care must be taken, I told Nel as we walked round the corner to "our" house. We should plan our Operation (Operation Tactful Approach) carefully. I informed Nel (codename Red Boffin Ivory Tower)that she should take up Recon A, a position someway down the road, from where she could call the police if I (codename Delta Mazzer One) got shot. I would take position ( Location Eagle Strike) by the entrance, and lead a frontal assault. Signals would be based on NATO conventions, and radio silence should be observed at all times. Nel listened politely, then walked up to the front door and knocked.

The lady of the house was tearful rather than threatening, and informed us that yes, maybe she had had a notice to quit, and no she was'nt going to do anything about it. How could she with 14 children? Besides which the Social Services were now withholding her welfare payments due to an earlier overpayment and she had no money for a new place. It was a tale that would have Right Wing newspapers writing outraged articles about immigrants abusing the British system, articles that their Slum Lord readership would fully agree with (just before making a note to themselves to ignore the Law reagrding statutory annual electrical safety checks once more). Nel just made sympathetic noises, and we apologized for trying to buy the house before retreating gracefully.

We reported back to NK, and the latest news is that he has tried to follow up with the sellers legal team, but at their offices the file has been passed on to Someone Else, and Someone Else is now off work, on sick leave.

So right now the situation is fluid. Tomorrow might bring more developments.

But seriously folks!!!

Sally sent us this link. A lawsuit has been filed.


http://www.elfyourself.com/?id=1525333140





http://www.elfyourself.com/?id=1525333140. It may take a little while to load, but it is worth it.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Halifax update

Halifax house for sale 2007



I've updated (finally) an album from my trip to Halifax earlier this year. Also updated is my Mushrooms and Garden album.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Footloose and fancy free....


It's Saturday morning and the world is my clam. A much anticipated party somewhere "down South" was to be the subject of this weekend's activities with most of the large clan, but this morning finds the Red Haired boffin on the 9.05 to Doncaster, heading for a rendevous with Mr Nosmo King and Meg (Bill and Nel's Mum), while I am in Hull. The reason for this temporary separation is that given my current appearance, there's a strong possibility that children would be frightened, thus reducing the festive atmosphere somewhat. In short, I am completely codswalloped, knackered, tired, and I realize as soon as I get up, that the very fact that I want to go back to bed immediately, tells me that disappointed as I am not to witness the collective Larges et al, larging it (as it where) , the decision is a wise one.


The past two weeks have been quite busy at work, which explains the appearance, and having had no time to do anything enjoyable, I resolve to put the disappointment of not being able to attend the party behind me, and make the most of a free weekend. Mentally I make a list:


  1. do something about the facial fuzz.
  2. get a very long bath,
  3. write to Revenue Canada because we've been audited and they are now demanding $thousands (due to Ploppyshanker Tammy Johnson and the whole rental scam involving our Nova Scotia house),
  4. go for a long bike ride,
  5. take some photos of the local docks,
  6. browse a few secondhand bookshops,
  7. cook several fantastic meals that Nel can enjoy on her return,
  8. watch Liverpool play Manchester United tomorrow afternoon,
  9. phone some friends for a long overdue chat,
  10. maintain bike,
  11. clean the house
  12. research local archeaological finding (Stone Age boats found at Ferriby - 10 miles away - perhaps I can get in early and find a few more)
  13. tighten up possible budget for house purchase
I jump out of bed. There is one very important thing I had forgotten in my list - namely the cats, and true to form, Calli wants to play. As I stumble to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, Calli jumps up on the countertop (which is definitely verboten under normal rules , AND she knows it), and miaows.


I half-hearted ly throw a few springs for her to chase , but she ignores them and follows me into the living room, where I sit down to enjoy my breakfast, while watching Time Team, a British programme about archaelogical digs (this programme is inconceivable to North American television viewers - no one gets shot, it is completely undramatic and mainly features a group of old men digging in wet fields without a pretty girl in sight anywhere. The whole point of the programme is to stay away from the dramatic, so they tend to excavate Iron Age toilets and beehives and such. Strangely though, like the televised sheep herding and live darts coverage, it is addictive).

This is also deeply unsatisfying to Calli , who wants to play NOW, so she sits in front of the television, making viewing impossible. She looks bright eyed, perky and totally 'up for it'.

I ignore the cat, so she positions herself in front of me, next to her favourite box and hunkers down expectantly, ready to pounce on anything that emerges. After a few minutes of this, I realize that my attempts at negotiation "I'll play with you in ten minutes" are futile. Play cannot wait.

Half an hour later and we're still chasing, fighting, pouncing, jumping, finishing the whole session off with a good old rough and tumble. Even after a few minutes of this, my list is forgotten. Calli has made me realize that the whole point of this weekend, for me at least, is to do nothing. "Relax, already", I tell myself, and immediately start to draw up lists of really effective ways of doing nothing.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Once more unto the breach.......

I'm still tremendously busy at work, so no updates till Saturday. We're also negotiating final phase of our house sale, as the survey revealed some stuff we were not expecting, so we've gone back to the sellers for further negotiation.

For interest until Saturday, may I suggest clicking on the link to either Science today, or the anthropology compilation from Texas.

Monday, 10 December 2007

new species

A new species of mammal was found recently
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7130484.stm
experts aren't sure if its related to the kangaroo, mouse or British royal family...

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Welcome to all Anglo-Irish Norwegians

A big welcome to all our Leicestershire based Anglo-Irish Norwegian readers!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Darwin, NOT!

Further to the previous post, Guardian reports appear at :

http://www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,,2223201,00.html

Darwin, NOT!

I would urge all my Canadian readers to look up a British newspaper (eg www.guardian.co.uk, or www.independent.co.uk) and follow the unfolding story of Mr And Mrs Darwin. I'm not much of a follower of human interest stories, apart from avidly following the continued success of Rob and Amber from Survivor, but Mr and Mrs Darwin's exploits are worth a read.

IN a very quick nutshell, it appears that there may be a suspicion of life insurance fraud, involving a sea-kayak expedition, Mr Darwin going missing for 5 years, and a move to Panama by the unlikliest-looking fraudsters in the world (if indeed they do turn out to be fraudsters).

If crime is involved, they are also probably the dumbest criminals ever, and the fact that they are actually called DARWIN is, unlike the song of the same name, incredibly ironic.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Write

Nel and I recently went shopping. Neither of us, despite being urban creatures (although not for ever if my Bill-scaring farmhouse purchase plan ever materializes), have ever particularly enjoyed shopping, but sometimes a new pair of loafers are needed for the winter party circuit, so we hauled our (collective) ass down to the town center. "Let's just have some fun" we advised each other, "Make it an enjoyable experience, after all, we never do this. Maybe get a bite to eat, a leisurely stroll, and take in some down-town atmosphere". After a short bus journey, it looked as if the plan was going to go very smoothly. 'Omelette' is a diner hidden among Hull's back streets, but I realized very quickly that the reason I felt so at home was that it was entirely reminiscent of typical Canadian breakfast restaurant like Smitty's - waitress service, coffee on tap and not a latte or frappucino anywhere in sight, just mugs of bland, brown liquid.

After Omelette, we began our relaxed wanderings. I suggested to the boffin that we tale a quick peek in a bicycle store "just down the road", and began to lead her the two or three blocks that I remembered towards the store. After about five blocks of being buffeted and bumped in the crowds, I could see the store sign in the distance. "It's just a bit further" I tell Nel. Uncharacteristically, Nel is a good sport and forces out, through gritted teeth "Ok" . Ten minutes into our expedition and we are already "brave-facing" it. At last though, we're in but the store is a disappointment - expensive, and like so many specialists sports stores, the staff are elitist and snobby. They carry an attitude which says "If you're not wearing the latest gear, I do'nt want to be seen helping you".

Back on the trail of whatever it is we have come out to buy, and two trends are observed. The first is the continuing trend to label stores and bars with snappy, 'witty', one word names. 'Cheese' for example is a bar, 'Air' is a hairdressers etc etc. This inspires me, because I've been seeking a name for my future scenery building business for quite a while. A decision is made and in my mind, my new business is named - Sets. I can see the future, Mazzer at a social function proudly describing how my business is Sets, and I specialize in custom Sets, the wierder the better.

Hull Landscapes



On reflection, I realize that this trend is quite a few years old, indeed a clothes shop in Leicester was called 'Cliche'. We could never work out if this was intended irony or not, but now it is apparent that 'Cliche' was just ahead of the game. I resolve that to be ahead of the next trend I should call my future business "West Hull Scenery Emporium, manufacturers of Fine Scenery, Cat Trees, Guitar Stands and Solar Panels. Est 200?. Proprietor Martin John Steven Francis Mac Fhiodhbhuidhe-Nygson-L'Arge". The future is definitely big names.

We finish our shopping in St Stephens Shopping Centre, Hull. Inevitably, this disgusting building, 'Hull's new High Street' has it's own website: http://www.ststephens-hull.com. In reality, by the time we reach St Stephen's we're both knackered and want to go home, but we do some purchases before retreating. I've included some photographs of St Stephen's in the album. Personally I hate everything about it - especially the great big crushed toilet roll-holder which has been inserted right down the centre of the mall. Starbucks currently occupies this enormous architectural mistake. Everything is wrong with this structure - the materials are plywood which will yellow and fade with exposure to the sun in a few years, it is a massive visual obstacle in a space which otherwise would be quite cathedral-like, and from the interior, it is no refuge as a cafe should be, it is just like being in a fishbowl.

A final observation about development is that seeing the pasty-faced youth wandering round St Stephen's talking endlessly on their cellphones made me realize, especially given England's recent performance in the sport it invented, that in Hull the first thing that enters the minds of planners when thinking about improving their city is to build shopping developments where the populace can increase their debt load or pubs and restaurants where we can drink ourself stupid. There has not been a new park created in this city since about 1905.

The second trend we noticed on our expedition is the extent to which 'going green' has become a commodity. Of course, it was inevitable that this would happen, and I have seen the trend before, but I had'nt noticed how, like a bad case of the flu, this 'new' concept has infiltrated everything. Sir Richard Branson, the man behind Virgin Records (and every other Virgin), whom I had always thought was nearly OK, has recently legitimized this stupidity in the UK, coining the phrase "Gaia Capitalism" and speaking enthusiastically about the business opportunities that have now been created as a result of humanity's plundering of the planet.

Gaia Capitalism tells us that the planet is nearly in a "bit of trouble and might warm up a bit", which sounds good, and mostly is(""Whoppee, more sunbathing!" as one advertiser put it), but in some cases the warming might cause a "bit of flooding here and there", so we (ie YOU the public) need to do something ("we" the business, do'nt need to do anything). Fortunately, because "nearly" is sometime in the future, there's no need to panic, all we (the consumer) needs to do is "our [YOUR] bit", drawing on help and advice from the government and business, the Custodians of the Planet. The solution is to buy more stuff, in fact it is our duty to shop our way out of this "little bit of trouble" by purchasing "eco-friendly products, the more, the better.

Eco-friendly products include those mercury-filled low energy lightbulbs or Unilever washing up liquids (Persil etc),that have been repackaged with a green plastic label that proudly states "Degradable", "green" cars, and completely unnecessary cadmium filled garden lights that are "green" because they are solar powered. The slogan "Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle" is the last concept we should hold as a motto. Allied to this is the notion that the other last thing we need to do is panic, change our lifestyle and stop buying stuff. In fact, the more eco-friendly products we buy, the more we save the Planet. The logic of the Marketing Department tell us that a container ship loaded down with Marks and Spencers Fair Trade organic coffee does much less damage to any whales it collides with in the Bay Of St Lawrence, and dumps less oil than if the same ship was loaded with Nescafe. So keep on shopping people, the Planet depends on it.

The extent of all this re-labelling is extraordinary. In the UK, there are Insurance Companies that advertise their policies as "Green" Insurance Policies, and Formula One proudly declares itself to be "Carbon Neutral". Naturally, the public are'nt stupid. In the UK there are still a significant number of people who are very skeptical that Climate Change even exists, but whether a person is a tree-hugger or a skeptic, the cynicism of the British public is understandable - the way the debate is presented here makes it obvious that they are either being sold something of debatable value or a vote. All the responsibility for effective action,(if a person believes action is needed - which the majority of British people do'nt), is therefore cast upon the ordinary person This is a responsibility that is hard for Mr and Mrs Noseworthy of 22 Acacia Gardens, (who want to get the bus everywhere), to take seriously when their Government has just announced another expansion to the world's busiest airport and another massive motorway improvement project.

Given that a harmless day's shopping for the Boffin and I usually results in these kind of maudlin reflections, it is probably understandable that we do'nt do it more often. All we were looking for was a pair of brown loafers. Next time we need recreation, we'll probably go for a long walk in the countryside. Or go the pub and get slaughtered.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. But first, the Ugly....

Quick snapshot of where our putative house purchase stands. Most of the pieces of the jigsaw seem to be in place - Messrs Aspinall and Wright have legalized, Messrs Elland Road Financial have financed, and Messrs Squeers and Co, the current owners, have set matters in motion to cast their tenants into the street in the week before Christmas.



A final item to be ticked is the survey, which is, as previously mentioned, the UK equivalent of the Home Inspection. This survey was apparently done this week, and we await it's results. If all goes smoothly, the album, may make a regular appearance here.