Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Meanwhile, in Dunkrugerstan

The Minister of Rubber Stamps had previously told the Trusted Advisor that he was required to comply with the Old Rule Book. One part of the design required that a desirable minimum value of 55 be used, but an absolute minimum allowed value was 30.

So the Trusted Advisor's design generally used more than 55, and in one or two places where this was not possible, he used between 31 and 35.

And the Minister of Rubber Stamps was displeased. "You must use 55," he said. Use of 30 is not allowed."

"It is according to the Old Rule Book," advised the Trusted Advisor.

"Then," said the Minister of Rubber Stamps," You must submit a detailed report that explains why you have not exceeded 55. We will let you go down to 36, which is permitted by the New Rule Book, provided you submit a report that I may or may not approve, at my whim.

"Or you can tear down what you have built and apply to demolish the Grand Frommaj's new stables to make 55 fit."

The Trusted Advisor shook his head. "The New Rule Book says we can use 26."

The Minister went purple with rage. "Which part of 'You must use the Old Rule Book' do you not understand?"

"The part where compliance is now, after 19 years since publication, suddenly not acceptable."


Friday, July 22, 2016

These brambles are tasty

Lifted from Rentagoat
(yes, I know goats don't have top front teeth)
For no better reason than it just occurring to me that the long-running children's comedy show Rentaghost (BBC 1976-1984) is ripe for a pun, I made the connection with Conservation Grazing.

That is, using goats to remove invasive plant species rather than pumping chemicals over the plants and everything besides, attacking the plants with whirling blades of death, or killing everything in the vicinity with fire.

The thing is, a Company Song is missing. Until now. The song is sung by a choir of company employees. Well, the last line of the song.

Tune and original lyrics by Michael Staniforth, who also starred in Rentaghost.

If your garden is a shambles, just call Rent-A-Goat.
Are your ditches full of brambles? You need Rent-A-Goat.
We’ll eradicate your kudzu and remove invasive weeds;
It can be verified we don’t use herbicide, so just call Rent-A-Goat.

If your stately home’s a mess you should call Rent-A-Goat.
That poison ivy we’ll address because we’re Rent-A-Goat.
We are quiet while we’re working, and we don’t need gasoline.
We work without a fuss; you’ll barely notice us from Rent-A-Goat.

Have you tried a pesticide with side-effects you can’t abide?
Are you reliant upon high technology?
Perhaps you should take note that by contacting Rent-A-Goat
You can achieve it more environmentally.

There is a goatherd who will stay alert. That’s Rent-A-Goat
Who will ensure your orchids won’t be hurt. That’s Rent-A-Goat.
Now that your land is neat and tidy, recommend us to your friends.
We’ll conservation-graze and we work seven days at Rent-A-Goat.



Sunday, July 10, 2016

Out, out, damn spot!

I wasn't allowed to vote. I did not get a say in the my own destiny. I wasn't allowed to contribute to the opinion.

What has the EU ever done for us? Well, google the long list.

And Brexit? Made imports cheaper, right up to the point when the UK HAS TO IMPORT SOMETHING. At which juncture the advantage evaporates.

What Brexit has achived at least in the short term is to remove 10% of my retirement savings, and potentially jeopardise any and all plans to retire to Cyprus. Who knows if a former EU citizen will be allowed to establish residence?

So what was the referendum supposed to achieve really? Answer: initially to shut UKIP up, and to destabilise the UK government and remove David Cameron from office. Nobody in office ever seriously imagined that a vote to leave would ever happen, which is why the Brexiteers could write cheques that they couldn't possibly cash. £300M to the NHS? Nope. Stop immigration? Not as such. Mandatory deportation of anyone with a bit of a suntan? Ansolutely not, despite the wishes of the unsavoury extreme end of the patriotic spectrum.

And now we find that the likes of BoJo the Clown and Farage the Fascist have exposed themselves as seagulls.

Fly in, squawk a lot and flap about. Shit all over everything, and then fly away leaving some other poor muggins to clear up the mess. Thank you for nothing.

Huzzah, so Cameron has gone, or at least has handed in his notice. To be replaced by a reasonable, even-handed, benevolent and wise successor.

Meanwhile, in the real world...

Stand by for the UK going into recession or worse as a result of a worthless currency, jobs to disappear, more people on benefits, cuts to public services to pay for it all, and further cuts because of this positive feedback loop.

And nobody saw this coming? Only the Remainiac experts, and what do they know?

One final thought. 36% of the electorate voted for this. At least suicide is no longer a capital offence under English law.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Les Misérables

Yes, it's upside down. A distress signal.

Look down, look down don’t look them in the eye. 
We voted 'leave.' It’s time to say goodbye. 
The sun is hot. It’s June 2016 
And 52% of us are keen. 

I know we’re off. We’re floating in the sea; 
We’re rudderless and friendless, but we’re free! 
We’ve done no wrong; the EU is to blame 
And immigrants: we surely know their game.

"Now Prime Minister 246-10 
Your time is up and now you have to go. 
You know what that means?" 

'Yes! It means I’m free!'

"No! You’ll be replaced by Michael Gove 
Because of that tangled web you wove. 
You killed UK. You’ll

Go down in history." 

Look down look down. Don’t look me in the face. 
We’re sinking fast. We’re sinking without trace…


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Take a tip

The usual species of disclaimer: I am sure that there are plenty of Egyptians who do not drive in the manner described below, and as I’ve experienced similar in the Philippines and elsewhere, the problems are not limited to Egypt.

And the driving aside, I have a particular liking for Egyptology. Queen Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple, the Valley of the Kings, and ancient Karnak were all wonderful memorable experiences. I took loads of photos. The diving was also excellent, but at the time I didn’t own an underwater camera so my pictures were limited to a few around the hotel.

Way back in the late 1990s, for this is a yarn from þe olde days of yore, I was part of a group on two weeks’ holiday in Egypt. The first week we spent in Luxor for a week of temples and tombs. Then, having been generally pharaoed to exhaustion, we headed eastward towards Hurghada to enjoy the Red Sea Diving Experience.

I didn’t really notice the driving style in the transfer coach between Luxor airport and the hotel, not least because I quickly nodded off following a sleepless night and a problematic departure from London Heathrow that involved many hours of sitting around in the terminal.

However, when we went out to explore the town one evening, a weird and less than wonderful phenomenon became quickly apparent along the ill-illuminated streets:

All the bizarre men by the Nile 
They like to drive, for a lark, 
With headlights off (Oh, way oh!) 
So you can’t see them in the dark. 

Drive like an Egyptian. 

Almost every vehicle was trundling around with no lights on. Anyone who dared show a headlight was immediately vehemently flashed by oncoming drivers. The reason for this, I have subsequently been told by Egyptian colleagues, is that using the headlights flattens the battery. Clearly in Egypt the alternator, dynamo, or even magneto are optional extras. I've heard tell of cars hurtling across the desert roads at night running into the backs of slow-moving trucks, neither vehicle showing any lights.

But the true hairy scary wasn’t this; it was the journey west across the fertile Nile flood plain and then the desert from Luxor to Hurghada.

Following at least one incident in 1995 I think, when terrorists hijacked a tour bus and gunned down a load of foreign tourists in an apparent attempt to stem or more likely eliminate the inflow of foreign tourist dollarpounds, these trips now came with police escorts.

We assembled and found our allocated bus, and eventually about forty minibuses and coaches set off in convoy. At the front was a police Hilux with armed guards, at the rear was another, and there was a third in the middle of the convoy. By ‘armed guards’ I do not mean a couple of police officers with pistols. I mean a 50mm machine gun mounted on each truck and about four guys in fatigues and flak jackets, sporting automatic weapons.

So, with nowhere to go except Hurghada, and with everybody having to travel at the same speed as the police, the convoy threaded its way caravan-like across the Egyptian countryside, right? Wrong.

Every bus and coach driver engaged is a constant battle to get to the front, and every other driver closed up the gap to prevent it. About 260km of terror.

Particularly near the Nile, single carriageways are elevated on embankments to keep the roads dry when the Nile floods. So we have two lanes of traffic confined on top of an embankment by rickety-looking safety fences. And we also have coach drivers attempting overtakes.

A minibus pulls into the opposing lane and overtakes a coach. The coach driver accelerates. Meanwhile there’s an oncoming truck bearing down on us, yes US, and nobody has anywhere to go but through the barrier and into the date palm plantation. Our driver stomped on his brakes and inserted his vehicle back behind the coach. The truck roared past with its horn bellowing stentorian abuse. Then our driver tried it again.

At this point I spoke to the tour guide. “Are you going to tell him, or do I have to? Because I will be a lot less polite.”

Not that it made the tiniest scrap of difference. All forty drivers spent the next several hours in a competition to see who could drive closest to the police Hilux which, of course, still trundled along at a steady speed.

At last, at dear sweet last, we rolled into Hurghada. As is custom and practice, everyone in Egypt expects to receive a gratuity for doing absolutely anything at all. Our driver stood at the door of the bus with his hand out as we all dismounted. Nobody gave him anything.

Actually, not true. I was the only one to give our driver a tip, which was this: “If you don’t scare your passengers, they’re more likely to give you money.”


Sunday, May 22, 2016


A weekend of planned motorcycling failed to come to fruition.

As usual, I arrived back in Dubai late on Thursday evening and connected the bike to a charger to top up the battery. Then on Friday morning I kitted up, removed the bike cover, fired up the Black Beast, and noticed fluid on the ground where no fluid should be. Upon closer inspection, the said fluid turned out to be antifreeze. It might have been coming from an overflow; I had topped up the reserve bottle last time I rode the bike, but no. It was still dribbling after I took the bike around the block. So off came all my bike gear and out came the tools.

Then off came the plastic, and I eventually exposed a slight dripping of coolant from the water pump. Staining on the engine nearby indicated that this leak had probably started last time I rode the bike, which would go some way to explaining the low coolant level in the expansion bottle last time.

So motorbikes would be off the agenda this weekend. “Sassa, rassa, frassa, rassum…” etc.

On Saturday I rode the bike over to my friendly neighbourhood Kawasaki workshop. I figured I could get that far without losing all the coolant and cooking the engine. Beloved Wife followed me in the car that contained all the bike’s plastic that I hadn’t bothered reinstalling. There seemed little point, as the mechanic would only have to take it all off again. He took one look, nodded in agreement of my diagnosis, commented about a drain hole, and disconcertingly sucked air through his teeth. My cursory glance through the workshop manual had alerted me that removing the water pump would involve dropping the coolant and the engine oil, so I have left the bike to have a service too. And new rear brake pads. And a tyre pressure sensor/transmitter because the front one’s dead. 

I have also checked Cradley Kawasaki in Birmingham, where it is revealed that a TPMS would set me back £154 and a water pump (assuming that the problem isn’t merely a gasket that Sod’s Law says it isn’t because the parts fiche shows the water pump as a single irreducibly complex item with a single part number) a further £174. Naturally, I’ll probably end up paying about 30% more than these because they’ll have to be borne upon velvet cushions by rose-petal-scattering handmaidens all the way from Japan. Theoretically at least, brake pads and filters should be in stock.

There is a silver lining to this dark and pendulous cloud, and it is this: owing to the impending Holy Month of Ramadan, I will be unable to get away from Qatar throughout June, so I’d not be able to ride the bike anyway. Ergo, having the Black Beast in bits awaiting new bits is of no real inconvenience. And it’ll be spending the next few weeks in air-conditioned comfort rather than mouldering under a plastic cover at the Crumbling Villa. And of course I can save up in preparation for the wallet-wilting invoice that will be heading my way.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The games people play

It is a game.

A game, in which two players have different victory conditions.

One player wins by providing a robust design to a limited cost and time budget, and the other wins by delaying and frustrating progress as far and for as long as possible. To this end, the first player works to produce his best; he has no incentive to delay and incur additional costs. Meanwhile, the longer the second player is able to impede the first, the more money the latter receives.

It doesn't actually matter if the final built product ever emerges out of the ground. Neither does it matter how well the first player plays. If the second player can find anything - anything at all - right down to a misplaced punctuation mark in a document, he can delay while the entire document is rewritten, recopied , reissued, and reviewed to see if a different player on the second player's team can find anything else. The second player is also allowed to change the rules of the game at will to maintain his advantage.

With luck, the second player can extend the game usque finis mundi, and the first player will always lose.

When you play the Game of Roads, you win or you die.


The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.