Saturday, November 10, 2007

Leech bites leech shock horror

ONE SHORT story in The Sun newspaper this week tells you all you need to know about what’s wrong with this country. Eyes down, look in:

“A mature student is claiming compensation after being attacked by blood-sucking leeches on a jungle field trip. James Sheridan, 50, says he suffers malaria-like fever, sleeplessness, excessive sweating and lethargy since the trek six years ago.

“He told Neath County Court, South Wales: ‘I haven’t been able to get a proper job because of the health problems I have suffered since going on the trip.’

“Mr Sheridan, of Townhill, Swansea, is suing Swansea Institute, where he was studying for a masters degree in tourism.”

So there you have it. Mature student, never had a job in his life, from the disability benefit centre of the universe, studying a Mickey Mouse degree at a made-up university, and now trying to jump on the compensation gravy train that blights all our lives in the hope that he’ll never have to get one.

The state of Britain at the end of 2007, all in just 84 words. Brilliant.

AND NOW for some very serious news. Tailors are no longer making shirts with a breast pocket because they say it ruins the line of the shirt. (Personally, I think they’re finding it too difficult to teach nine-year-olds in a Cambodian sweatshop how to sew them on properly. And all those patches must cost money.)

The nation’s gentlemen’s outfitter, Marks & Spencer, tells us that 90 per cent of the shirts it sold a decade ago had a breast pocket. Today, it’s just 25 per cent.

So why is this such a problem? Well I can’t function without a pen in my hand. I can’t think, I can’t make a phone call, I can’t argue and I certainly can’t write. However, on occasion, I need to put my pen somewhere and hitherto that has been in my breast pocket.

So what do I do with it now? Tuck it into my belt, ready to inflict serious pain should I sit down without remembering that it’s there? Slip it into my trouser pocket, ready to leak all over the Werther’s Originals, lottery tickets, bits of string and balls of fluff that are already in there?

And it’s not just me. Phone up your company’s Turn-It-Off-And-Turn-It-On-Again department and ask for a housetrained geek to visit and I guarantee that he’ll turn up with a row of pens in his top pocket, carefully colour co-ordinated from left to right. And with a mobile phone in a belt holster. And with a huge bunch of keys jangling from his waist.

Thus a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil and sets off a tornado in Texas. The flap of material that goes missing in Phnom Penh could end up having a devastating impact on British industry. Hundreds of thousands of middle managers rendered speechless and incapable of creative thought. Journalists unable to write, IT engineers unable to hold a sensible conversation with fellow human beings … err, yes, well, perhaps that’s not a great analogy.

I WONDER if they’ve been wearing breast pocket-less shirts in the offices of our railway companies for the past 20 years. I ask because, just as the loss of Concorde represented our first technological step backwards since the invention of fire, the opening of the new high-speed rail link to Europe draws some uncomfortable comparisons with the service the rest of us have to put up with on a daily basis.

This is, after all, the country that invented rail travel, so why should we have to put up with a Third World service? Now while we might not have people clinging to the roof of the 08.36 to Kings Cross (well not unless they’re hoodies “surfing”, anyway) we do have the toothless tramp begging on the platform, the overflowing toilets and filthy carriages, and the two drunken Scottish squaddies playing cards in the middle of a sea of empty beer cans. And that’s before the repetitive and moronic announcements telling us why won’t be getting where we’re supposed to be going any time soon.

Twice this year I’ve had to abandon business trips to London (and the free, boozy lunches involved) after assorted points failures and line closures. It simply isn’t good enough. George Stephenson must be spinning in his grave.

WAR VETERAN Bill Burrow isn’t the sort of man to ignore letters from the council, so when he received a survey about garden waste recycling, he sat down to fill it in.
He duly answered seemingly irrelevant questions about his marital status (Civil Partnership, Married, Co-Habiting or Single) and his religion (Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Rastafarian, Sikh or Other). But the 91-year-old great-grandfather was somewhat perplexed about the issue of sexual orientation. Was he a Lesbian, a Gay man, Bisexual or a Hete … hetero ... heterosexual? In the end he had to ask his son.

Of course, no-one stops to question why Leeds city council should be conducting such an intrusive line of questioning in a survey seeking to find out how people want their leaves and grass cuttings collected. We are so inured to oppressive officialdom that often we don’t even notice when they’re overstepping the mark.I suppose that there could be a single aggrieved Rastafarian out there who thinks that the council are deliberately snubbing his clematis cuttings on the grounds of race (and no doubt the compo claim will soon be winging its way to the courts), but I would hope that the other 443,246 people of that city might show enough Yorkshire cussedness to tell these nosy parkers where to stick their stupid survey.


Anonymous perfect teabreak read said...

Railway geeks recently uncovered some timetables from the 1880s which showed, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the steamy choo choo of that distant era completed the journey from Manchester to Liverpool 12 minutes FASTER than they can manage today.

4:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea, and the postal service when the penny black was around was better than it is now.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"and the two drunken Scottish squaddies playing cards in the middle of a sea of empty beer cans"

To be fair, remove the words Scottish and squaddies from that sentence and we've all been there.

At least they weren't sparko in the luggage rack.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous a pi­sshead scrote said...

Most days I suffer malaria-like fever, sleeplessness, excessive sweating and lethargy so am unable to hold down a proper job despite never having ventured on a jungle trip.

4:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think our first technological reverse was the scrapping of the Black Arrow rocket in the early 70s. Britain remains the only country to have developed a space going capability - and then thrown it away. Tories and Labour both culpable in this case.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Lord Playboy of Phnom Penh said...

Nonsense, those 5 year old Khmer kids can easily sow a pocket on a shirt, all it takes is a few beatings and they soon learn the lesson.

Lord Playboy

7:48 PM  

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