Saturday 24 March 2018

Rubicon has been crossed

The deed has been done and the die has been cast! Today, in our monthly departmental meeting, I announced my impending retirement. A solemn air descended upon the room before the whole department erupted into a chorus of cheering. I can only surmise that my colleagues were so overcome by emotion, due to my imminent departing, that it so unsettled their minds and temper thus triggering their mass hysteria. I reassured my colleagues that it would not be for another three months as I had teaching commitments and owed my students my continued diligence and professional courtesy to see them through their final exams in ten weeks time. An audible groan ensured from the mass of imploring faces. Again I suspect an overflow of palpable emotion for this seemingly inappropriate outburst.  

My wife, who is much younger than me, will retire at the same time. And it is my wife's predicament which has forced our hand. She suffers from a virulent and aggressive form of rheumatoid arthritis. Over the years she has suffered the painful indignity of 22 operations. She has had hip replacements, in the same leg, on three separate occasions. Subsequently, several ops were necessary to control rampant infection of the wounds. Because of the disease and the numerous anti-inflammatory medications, she is prone to infection which is hard to control. Various metal pins are scattered throughout both hands and feet and her shoulder joint has also been replaced. Apart from broken legs, a broken pelvis and broken ribs she has recently had two further ops on her cervical and lumbar spine. Again more metal pins and splints. She struggles to get out of bed in the morning and can only do so after a hefty dose of morphine. After a day's work, she slumps exhausted on the bed.

There is so much metal in her wracked body that she has to carry a special card explaining why she sets off the metal detectors at airports. At family gatherings, myself, my legitimate, and bastard offspring, amuse ourselves by throwing magnets at my long-suffering wife to see if they will stick. And if this is not enough, she has had to put up with me, over many years. Tis a wonder her natural flaxen locks have not turned gray.

The next two stages can be conflated. We need to tidy up the house and garden. Minor stuff for the most part. Carpets need to be deep cleaned and paintwork touched up. The exciting and perhaps scary bit involves finding a suitable property to live out our dotage. We have certain criteria which need to be satisfied: we would like a few acres of land where I can set up an archery range- don't want to shoot the proles as they wend their way past my property; police don't like it. I would also like a few chucks for the eggs and perhaps a goat/sheep to keep down the vegetation. A nice veggie patch where we can grow our own root vegetables and fruits would be ideal; I need a 'Man Shed' where I can consume home-brewed beer and work on my bow making projects; my wife needs a dedicated area/room/ annex to continue with a part-time dog grooming business. On Monday we are off to look at a couple of properties in the sunny Wairarapa. The weather is consistent and the summers are hot which is more than can be said for my present home of 'windy Wellington'. That said, I do like living in Wellington as the city has a lot of charm and is culturally vibrant.

So there we have it. I'm about to embark on the next, and last stage of life. I will keep my enthralled readers up to date with the progress of my final quest. Arse.

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Napalm and the Joys of Jelly Wrestling

For today's image, I have to thank Ted Treen, one of my regulars and fellow Black country lad. He saw this image and immediately thought of me. Can't think why?

Now my readers have probably guessed by now that I'm drawn to bright shiny things and fire. Nothing pleases me more than to set alight to shiny things, except perhaps, jelly wrestling. I'm inclined to combine the two passions by infusing the jelly with petroleum products thus making napalm, arguably the most sublime of chemical concoctions. The whole ring would be a heaving conflagration and although the protagonists would weave and bob in a futile effort to prevent being consumed- naught would avail and the whole arena and vista would be aflame and aglow for a thousand years..........Actually, I'd probably be happy with a light singeing: stage and wrestlers alike. The problem being, of course, is that napalm is a rather sticky and cloying compound and it is difficult to assuage its ire/fire. My father learned this snippet of information, to his detriment, during the Korean war in the 1950s. Bless him.

Fun for the whole family

Friday 16 March 2018

Ken Pod

Ken Pod with his proctology 'wand'
Sir Ken, ‘How Pickled I Am’, Pod has died in pieces at a rest home in ‘Tipton on Canal’. Famous for his anal probing stick which would insinuate into any public orifice on display. His catch phrases were endless; who can forget: “Oohh missus where’s me anal probing stick. O no, it’s rammed up your big, fat, ARSE.” And the timeless, “Ooohh missus I’ve lost my wrist applied chronograph. Has it slipped up your ARSE to remain supine on the second colo-rectal shelf?”  He did laugh.

He was often on stage with a coterie of midgets. They would shout and prance upon the stage caterwauling and howling like demented banshees. Occasionally, as a team and en masse, they would run offstage and retire to the local hostelry, ‘The Felching Ferret’, for a cheeky 15 pints of ‘Ole Scrote Blaster’. The audience didn’t seem to care or notice as they were mesmerised by Sir Pod’s frenetic antics. His hair would stand erect and move with the air currents in a hypnotic sway of despair. Meantime our buck toothed entertainer would regale and amaze the audience as he ate an apple through the mesh of a tennis racket. A true testament to his rather large protruding gnashers and dedication to flossing.    

Pod would cackle off jokes with rapid fire delivery. Here is a random selection of his most memorable routines: “Well missus, take my mother in law, call me a taxi; call the taxman”. And who can forget: “My dog has no nose”, with the inevitable report, “How does he smell?” and quick as a flash, Pod would reply, “He can’t you dozy cunt. Didn’t I just tell you that he’d lost the power of olfactory sense?”

His manager, Mr Tenpercent Magumbo, had this to say on the recent demise of the much loved comic: “A true comic genius with immaculate timing. We will never see his like again. Always paid his taxes on time except when he didn’t. A man of integrity who had a poor track record with engaging creative accountants.

Mrs Generic Mugumbo, of no fixed teeth, was unable for comment due to a particularly rampant and purulent case of moist scrofula.  

Sadly Sir Pod was never suspected of nefarious sexual activity involving midgets.

We have lost Ken Pod, Prof. Steven Hawking and Jim, ‘Could Have Been a Caravan’, Bowen in just a few scant days- surely there is no god!


Pissed Midgets

Tuesday 13 March 2018

The Future Dimly Discerned

We live in uncertain times. Globalisation and fast-paced technological change make future predictions, even relatively short-term ones, difficult. We live in a time of unprecedented wealth, for the few. The disparity in income between the First and Third world continues to grow. In Europe and America, the income growth between the top 1% and those scraping a living on minimum wage is also disproportionate. Meanwhile, house prices and house rents continue to soar within the context of static wages, for the most. We in the West live under the protective umbrella of 'Pax Americana'. This is the price we must pay for peace. The host of interacting, and for the most part, unknown and uncontrollable forces, makes crystal ball gazing a  peril bedecked affair –a swirling gas mixture where shapes and shades flit and fade out, stage left (stop waxing lyrical and mixing metaphors, Flaxen, you poncy git).

Anyway, tis nice to note that folks in our recent past, although eminently qualified in their well-defined field, were equally crap at divining the future.......

Here are Flaxen's classic and blatantly wrong predictions concerning our life today. If the post renders tears, then don't forget to catch them in a sterile screw-top container, make sure to catch them all. Someday, maybe soon, clever scientists will be able to reconstruct your body from the DNA contained within. Why they would want to do such a thing, I have absolutely no idea.

1. In 1982 it was predicted, by a reputable source, that 20 years hence there would be colonies on the Moon. This is an obviously silly future prediction as it follows a decade after the last lunar visit. Surely by this time the money and effort required to pursue such a dream did not exist. It could be argued that the Apollo programme was a political stunt to gain an edge over the Soviets. Once achieved the political will and especially the vast finances required, drifted away like a snot ball on a windy day. Domestic economic reality intervened putting manned space travel on the back burner and rightly so.

There are many soothsayers of the Doomsday persuasion. They gain a perverted satisfaction by ringing the death knell. Armageddon prophecies and prophets have always been rampant, but yet, we are still here.

2. The Y2K disaster. This was supposedly a fault of lazy programmers of the 1970s who couldn't be bothered to put the extra effort in producing code for an event 30 years hence. And who can blame them? Aren't we all inherently lazy? The predictions were dire. Aeroplanes would fall from the sky, computers would stop computing and civilisation would come to an end. I remember asking a computer programmer friend about the consequences. He looked at me and smiled. "By December 1999 everything will be sorted out". He and a lot of other IT consultants made a lot of money from this scare.

3. Harold Camping was a radio broadcaster with a large following in the US. Anyways, he predicted the 'Rapture' and the end of the world. The event would occur on May the 21st, 2001. On that date, the deserved, in Christ's eyes, would be whisked to Heaven, while the remainder would face tribulation and much woe, and perhaps a little wailing and gnashing of teeth. His followers sold their earthly goods and awaited salvation, which did not come. Chastised, Camping admitted an error in his calculations and thus the fateful date was moved to a day in October. Predictably, nowt happened and his dispirited and now penniless followers drifted away to the real world. There is a price to be paid for hubris. Here is a piece of Flaxen inspired doggerel on his just demise:  

You made your predictions quite categorical,
Date and year were virtually undeniable.
Except your pontifications were completely unreliable,
And your followers were left bewildered, high and dryable. Arse.

4. A shorter working week. I clearly recall a 'Careers Development' class in 1972 at school. Our teacher, Mr Knowles declaimed in no uncertain terms that our generation would be the 'leisure generation' and within a few scant years, we would be working a meagre 15 hours a week. I, of course, being of an impudent nature and somewhat of the class clown, shouted out: "What 15 hours every bloody week". Mr Knowles replied with prescient wisdom: "Not you Flaxen, for you, I see a Job involving heavy labour in the hottest of environments and at least 50 hours a week”. To be fair to Mr Knowles he wasn't that far off the mark as my first job after leaving school was in a foundry. More about this in a future post. Obviously, this prediction has not transpired. Indeed, we are working more hours for less pay than our fathers. Perhaps we should blame Globalisation and economic forces, which are dimly discerned by experts and the common folk alike. 

5. "Nuclear powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years”. Speaketh Alex Lewyt, president of a vacuum cleaner company in 1955. This is an interesting quote if we take it in historical context. Following the unleashing of the A-bomb in the mid-1940s everyone became interested in harnessing nuclear energy. The potential of atomic energy seemed limitless. Post-Chernobyl we are little more sanguine and worldly wise. Imagine a vacuum cleaner giving off an ethereal green glow. After parking said vacuum in the closet consider the dead beasties glowing poignant on the inefficient shielding surrounding the throbbing, glowing, nuclear core.  As for the ones that get away, they will slither off to the basement to mutate, some more and return to wreak havoc on the hitherto, placid domestic scene.

So there you have it, Flaxen's top 5 failed predictions. If anyone out there would like to predict our world c2050, please be candid. As for your genial host, by then, I will be part of the universe once more. Entropy would have taken my body and rendered it into its constituent parts. One day, when our planet disintegrates, my molecules will float for an eternity, or at least until our universe settles down to 'heat death'. Arse, big sublimated arse.   

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Duck Tales and Paradise

Who's a pretty boy den?
Sexual selection: now there's a thing. Most higher animals and some lower animals too (definition Flaxen?) are subject to this phenomenon. Simply put, it involves mate selection and preference for reproduction. Almost exclusively this is practised by the female of the species. This makes good biological and evolutionary sense as the female is responsible for harbouring the foetus within her body, supplying nutrients and in many cases continuing to nurture the offspring after they are born. In species where the male's only contribution to the effort is supplying the seed of life, it behoves the female to be picky. Therefore, the female will choose a mate she considers genetically 'fit'. This does not occur at the conscious level but is ingrained within. She is apt to pick the healthy and strongest of males as a visible demonstration of good genes. Even where the domestic arrangement favours male involvement in bringing up the brood, it still makes good sense for the female to pick a good healthy mate. In some species, especially mammalian species, the males contend amongst themselves for sexual access to the females. This often takes the form of violence and the winner, if he is able, will gain a harem. This is a very brutal but effective way to demonstrate your fitness and ability to sire strong healthy brats which in their turn will be able to pass on their genes to the next generation. In other species, the selection process can seem bizarre resulting in some strange male attributes, well at least to the untrained eye.

Consider the humble peacock. The female is the dowdiest of birds. The male, in contrast, is bedecked and bejewelled with a plumage reminiscent of a rich scintillating tapestry. It appears that the female has a preference for males with the most ornate feather arrangements. This may seem frivolous and even dangerous for the male as a great deal of energy investment is necessary to maintain an elaborate display. Furthermore, the heavy gaudy feathers make escape difficult and detection by predators easy. However, biology is never frivolous, or more importantly, evolution is never flippant with the bestowal of her gifts. An ostentatious male signals his health and fitness by his display. In other words, the magnificent plumage is a marker for more important traits controlled by underlying genetic factors.

Sex amongst animals is not always consensual. Bird species, in particular, may engage in rape in order to sow their seed into the next generation. How is the prudent female able to cope under such circumstances? It benefits her not at all if her children are fathered by a relatively weak, and soon to be eaten, male. But the wily female has a highly sophisticated adaptive solution......

Consider the very unassuming, duck. Female ducks have evolved a rather ingenious reproductive system. The vagina is a labyrinth, with twists and turns ending in semen traps. There is only one true path to the promised land and this guarded by a muscular spasm. The drake is generally not a sensitive lover and will engage in rape and often gang rape. By constricting her vaginal muscles the female is able to guide the drake’s penis and hence the semen to a place not conducive to conception. Thus the female can exert control over who father’s her ducklings. The highly motivated males also come under the influence of evolutionary adaptation. In turn, they have evolved a rather large penis with a distinctive corkscrew appearance. Hence the male is able to better navigate the contortions and convolutions of the female’s vaginal anatomy. Selection for a specialised vagina has acted as a spur for the evolution of countermeasures. The advantage, however, is with the female as they are able to influence conception in 93% of cases. Only 3% of avian species are endowed with a penis. Therefore drakes are extremely privileged in this regard. Although on the flip side they have to suffer the indignity of the organ sloughing off once a year. But despair not gentle reader, and do not pity the penisless (not a real word) male, for he has the ability to grow another just in time for the next raping/mating season.  

Isn’t the rich poetry of life, beautiful, brutal and strangely fascinating?

Who's a big boy den?