3 August 2014

Another really good week (mainly). More hot & sunny weather, more barbeques and lovely summer evenings. Yesterday brought a bit of a departure from the norm – pounding rain showers with thunder but today is supposed to be lovely again. Fingers crossed.

We’ve spent some of this week madly de-cluttering as we await the arrival of the purchaser of Penelope’s Playchute Palace – I guess they need to acquire a larger wheelbarrow with which to trundle the mountains of money necessary up the drive.

One day last week I was hoovering the house in anticipation of the horde of visitors and ran across a dusty memory stick at the back of a drawer. As I retrieved it I held it close to the vacuum cleaner nozzle to remove the years of accumulated dust. In a heartbeat the memory stick had vanished up the vacuum cleaner nozzle and was gone. No worries, I thought to myself, just open it up and retrieve it.

Dyson vacuum cleanerOur hoover is a Dyson and, if you are familiar with that particular variety of vacuum cleaners, you will not be surprised to know that it wasn’t immediately clear to me where this memory stick had ended up. Actually, that sounds a bit daft – Dysons have a clear receptacle into which the dirt, dust and fluff is directed by way of a series of cyclonic jets of air. So, if I sucked up the memory stick (which there is no doubt I did) it would clearly end up in the clear plastic receptacle.

Although I wasn’t able to see the memory stick in the Dyson’s receptacle, it clearly must be there as that’s where everything ends up! So, I emptied the main receptacle and couldn’t find it. I then dismantled every part of the hoover I could find to dismantle – the memory stick was simply nowhere to be seen! And so, I put everything back together again and carried on with the hoovering, completely perplexed and confused.

Several days passed, several more hoovering episodes were conducted involving the emptying of the vacuum on many occasions – still no memory stick. Then, on probably the twelfth trip to the rubbish bin, I spotted it – it was jammed in an orifice through which all the dust and fluff travels to its final resting place in the clear plastic receptacle. I suppose it’s a tribute to Dyson that the hoover continued to work perfectly efficiently even with a memory stick blocking the main (and only) route into the dust container.

You will no doubt be delighted to know that I extracted it, blew the dust off, jammed it in the computer and hey presto! It still works perfectly. After all that trouble of course, there was nothing of any particular value or use on it.

More bad news for David Cameron and his Big Society idea! The structure he set up to co-ordinate the “flood” of people who would come dashing forward to volunteer to run a myriad of former public services is being investigated for misuse of public funds.

You will remember Cameron’s great idea – cut everything to the bone (because we’re all in this together, remember) and encourage ordinary people to voluntarily provide the same services for free. Hundreds of thousands of pounds were dished out to folks to get the ball rolling (several of whom, surprisingly, turned out to be donors to the Tory party) and there are suggestions of fraud. In one great example of how successful the concept of the Big Society was: a group was awarded a grant of £830,000 on the basis of their application which promised that they would attract a million people per year for the Big Society. Unfortunately, they managed to recruit only 64 people. All together. In four years. That works out at a cost of nearly £13,000 for every person recruited. Not a bad return and undoubtedly worth every penny.

I ran across an article in the Guardian the other day claiming that the Banksy in Cheltenham is to be “saved” for the town. You will remember that we visited friends in Cheltenham for lunch one Sunday a few months ago and they told us of the new Banksy which had appeared on the side of a building just down the road from where they live. It depicted a group of “spooks” listening to telephone conversations and the mural is especially appropriate as Cheltenham is the home of GCHQ where the British spies listen to all our phone calls and read all our e-mail.

Banksy

The mural was allegedly purchased from the owner of the building on which it had been painted and was to be removed and ultimately displayed in the new owner’s home. This caused quite an outcry as the good citizens of Cheltenham felt it would be more fitting if it was kept in the town. Fortunately, up steps a local millionaire who says that he is determined to save it for the town. Hekmat Kaveh, the alleged millionaire benefactor reportedly said:

Most works of art can be moved and still make sense. This one can’t. It should stay exactly where it is. I am going to do whatever it takes to make sure the Banksy stays there.

Let’s hope so.

Finally, a link to some great newspaper headlines posted by a “friend” on Facebook. My three favourites:

“Homicide victims rarely talk to police”

“Statistics show that teen pregnancy drops off significantly after age 25”

and

“Diana was still alive hours before she died”

And finally, finally, a link to some engaging photographs of the First World War and the same site today.

Happy Birthday this week (on Saturday) to sister Sarah and great-niece Azalea – hope you both have absolutely splendid days.

ThinkAnd finally, finally, finally I ran across a selection of “Think” posters put together by the guy behind the This is True weekly column of weird and wacky “news”, some of which are quite good and, sadly, true as this example illustrates.

Love to you all,

Greg