Friday, December 10, 2010

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance

The Stan household have spent the last week stomping around the house, periodically climbing onto soap boxes and railing at each other against the despicable coalition's raid on the higher education budget. Join the demonstrators at the barricades? Not a chance - it's cold out there and I'm allergic to being beaten about the face and neck by police batons.

Here's an idea for some alternative cuts that can be made :-

* Trident (£16.8m per missile)
* Royal Family (£38.2m per year)
* Magistrates' Biscuits (£198.6m per year - excluding bourbons)

There are much saner ways of saving £200m than castrating the higher education budget. The diverse problems we are going to face over the next few decades are going to need a diverse bunch of educated people to solve them.  Not just one or two rich kids.

I really hope that I don't have to talk to any politicians in the next month or so - I'm just so angry with them all right now. I'm afraid that one of the LiConDem politicians is going to show up on my doorstep selling a message of progressive big society and I'm going to attempt to beat them to death with their own smug-gittiness.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A house carrying a ukulele

I'm indebted to the Guardian for tipping me off about Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole - who for obvious reasons will be referred to as "Iz" in the rest of this piece.

It's an amazing story - told best here at the Honolulu Advertiser - of a recording engineering in Honolulu being called at 02:30 by a polite traditional Hawaiian musician with a burning desire to do some recording that night.

Iz turns up with his ukulele - the recording engineer gets him a chair strong enough to support his massive frame - and in an half a hour he has laid down a set of songs, including a version of "Over the Rainbow" that will make you wonder whether Judy Garland really knew what she was doing.

That's "Over the Rainbow" ! Voted song of the 20th century by everyone who matters - it's the defining soundtrack for infinitely painful longing to be in a better place you can almost taste at a time of suffering. I'm sure at any given moment since 1939,  someone somewhere on Earth was singing that song. And yet this giant decided that he had something new to add that couldn't wait for morning.

It's a far from polished performance, with liberties taken with the tune and pronunciation, but what extraordinary intensity! Hear it here  - it could be the highlight of your week.

Unfortunately Iz died from weight-related respiratory problems at a tragically young age so we're robbed of getting to know him better. I'm convinced that it's impossible to sing like that and not be a totally wonderful person. It would be a twisted world if you could fake that degree of humanity.

Oh, and it's been number one in Germany since October - wouldn't it be a better Christmas Number One here in Britain instead of the usual plastic R'n'B X-Factor android? Hint, hint.

Monday, December 06, 2010


"I'm a real nightmare with administration - I get into SUCH a mess (nervous giggle)"

The defendant was trying to explain why she hadn't responded to a request to identify who was driving her car when it was photographed jumping a red light.

The chairman was being infinitely patient - but he was being tested by her habit of cutting him off before he had managed half a sentence. She was obviously nervous in court, but this was obviously pretty typical behaviour for her.

"I got two of these through in the same week and I responded to the speeding one so I thought they would take the same details for the red light one"

"But you got a reminder - didn't you realise something ... ?"

"No - I don't really read it properly - I know I should have -  like I say, I'm a NIGHTMARE (really nervous giggle)"

"I'm afraid 'being a nightmare' isn't an adequate defence. Your problem now is that the 6 points we have to impose for this offence will take you to 12 ..."

"No - I've only got 3 points so far ... haven't I ?"

"I regret that DVLA records show you have 6 point so far - 3 for defective tyres and 3 for speeding."

"Oh - I just thought there was a fine and not any points - I think .... I didn't really ..."

(completing the sentence in my head) ... didn't really read the fines notices properly because I'm a nightmare

"I'm afraid that we will have to arrange another session to discuss the ban - it is possible that you can claim 'Exceptional Hardship' - I'm assuming you need your car for work ?"

"Oh yes, I'm a nurse"

Yeek ! She doesn't read forms and she's rotten at administration and she gives powerful drugs to sick people.

Now, that's what I call a nightmare.