17 October 2011

More eggs to suck

Stockport Council has decided that pensioners are stupid.  The Council obviously has no idea how these poor ancient beings have managed to exist for so long and have decided to give them some patronising tips on how to survive even longer.

These tips include:
  • To wear bright or fluorescent clothing to make sure that they are seen during the day, especially in dull or misty weather - but remember that fluorescent clothes won’t show up after dark
  • To wear reflective clothing which will show up in car headlights at night
  • Plan the routes that they take to include safer crossing places

The daft thing is, that the person who came up with those bright ideas was probably taught road safety as a child - by his or her parents - the very people they are now trying to teach to suck eggs.  How do these people think that the previous generation ever survived?

I take issue with this idea that everyone should wear bright clothing too.  Yes, of course it is sensible to make sure you can be seen, and I see many people who ride bicycles at night, with no lights, and wearing dark clothing.  However, to suggest that everyone should wear bright or fluorescent clothing during the day is ridiculous.  We will probably end up with a situation where everyone wears bright clothing and no-one at all stands out, because they are lost in a sea of other bright clothing. It's called masking.  Can't see the wood for the trees, as it were.

I also worry that there may come a day when the money-grabbing insurance companies, from whom it is already difficult to extract payment in the event of an accident, will turn the blame on the victim of a collision, on the grounds that they weren't wearing high visibility clothing.  After all, it wasn't the driver's fault that he didn't see the man he hit, because he wasn't wearing a reflective jacket ...

I have a friend who, like me, rides a motorcycle, and a couple of months ago, we discussed the idea of the requirement to make every biker wear a reflective jacket.  She insisted that if all bikers wore them, like she does, they would be less likely to be knocked off.  Less than a week later, she was hit from behind, whilst stopped at a roundabout, and was hurt.  She is still in pain from her injuries.  Her hi-vis jacket made not one jot of difference.  Some drivers, no matter what others are wearing, will just not see them because they don't look, because they're busy texting on their mobile phones, applying makeup, shaving, reading a map, looking for an address or just not paying attention. 

So, whilst preventive measures by vulnerable road-users or pedestrians should not be dismissed, there should be a greater emphasis on educating people and teach them the observation skills required to be a safe driver or rider.

04 October 2011

Britain's First Photo Album

Broadcaster, John Sergeant recently visited Bolton's Market Place whilst filming a new series entitled 'Britain's First Photo Album'.

According to the Bolton News, he said "Bolton Market Place is lovely; structures like this in other parts have been destroyed.  In any normal high street all the shops are exactly the same, what makes Bolton different is the structure, the architecture, and we have to hold on to this space."

What a shame then, that he didn't come to see it before its heart and soul was ripped out a few years ago and turned from this:

to this:

Bolton Market Place used to be a thriving shopping place, busy at any time of the day.  Now it's mostly used as a cut-through for people wanting to stay out of the rain.  They have ruined it.  They took a wonderful, unique market with many fantastic stalls, told the traders to get out, and turned it into a stone and glass monstrosity with a huge empty space in the middle; a clone of any other modern shopping mall in the country.  Half of the shop units are empty and Bolton has lost a beautiful and useful asset.  Congratulations.

30 September 2011

Texts sent to householders to encourage recycling

Which idiot came up with this money-wasting idea?

Millions of people across the country are losing their jobs, and the Government wants to spend a fortune on sending pointless text messages to people to thank them for recycling, or to remind them to put their bins out.  If I got one of those messages, I would be very very annoyed.  If they want to save some money, I suggest they sack the waste of space who dreamed up this ridiculous scheme.

Perhaps they also want to text parents to remind them to take their kids to school, or employees to remind them to go to work?

26 September 2011

Scratch, scratch, scratch

Why do clothing manufacturers insist on making their labels from the scratchiest possible material?  You sit there, getting irritated by the damn things until you resort to cutting them off and then hope for the best that you have the right settings when you come to put a wash on.  Yes, Regatta, I'm looking at you here!

11 September 2011

Next time...

What is it with TV programme makers that they have to go and spoil everything by wasting five minutes at the end of each programme telling us what will happen in the next episode?  I don't want to know!  I'll watch the next episode to find out, so don't ruin the surprise for me now.  Doctor Who and Torchwood are the worst culprits at the moment.  Why give away most of the plot for the series at the end of the first episode? 

Of course it could be worse.  Some of the commercial stations have programmes that spend the first five minutes telling you what you're about to see, then they show it to you, then then spend five minutes reminding you what you've just seen and then spend five more minutes telling you what you will see after the advertisement break.  Then you get what feels like quarter of an hour of adverts, and then the programme resumes by telling you what you saw before the break, what you're about to see in the next section and what you're going to see later on in the programme.  I bet if you stripped out all of the repetitive material, there would only be ten minutes original stuff in the whole hour.  I can't believe companies actually pay for this crap.

When I was a kid, there was a TV programme called 'Why Don't You?' and the programme opened with "Why don't you just switch off your television set and go and do something less boring instead?"  I have been doing just that lately, and you know what?  I actually get things done instead of allowing my brain to turn to grey goo.  Great, isn't it?

12 July 2011

and the Traffic Management of the Year Award goes to...

Manchester Airport (Terminal 1).

From the M56 link road, there are two lanes into the car park at Terminal 1. That's the pink line on this map. One lane goes into the drop-off point and the other into the main car park. Great idea. At least it was, until some wally decided to merge the two lanes right at the car park entrance, where a third lane joins (the grey line).

So, you have three lanes, all merging into a single lane within 25 yards of the entrance to the car park,and to make it even better, there are absolutely no signs anywhere on the two-lane slip road which tells you that this is going to happen, until you get to the end and see the white arrow painted on the road surface. The resulting single lane then gives you the option of taking the left-hand entrance to the drop-off point or the right-hand entrance to the car park. Genius!

Surely it would be far more sensible to mark the left lane as being for the drop-off point and the right lane for the car park (seeing as there are two separate entrances) and then you don't need merge the two lanes at all. Oh, sorry, that would be the sensible thing to do, wouldn't it?

22 June 2011

Surfing Tommies

This evening, H and I went to see Surfing Tommies at Bury Met. I wasn't really sure what to expect, and from the description on the website, it didn't seem to be 'my thing', but I'm glad to say I was completely and utterly wrong.

I'm not going to tell you the story, because there's a summary on their website, but it made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me think. I was mightily impressed by the versatility of the actors, and by the clever use of the set. The whole production was superb.

I can highly recommend it, so if you live anywhere near where they're touring next, do go and see it. You won't be disappointed.

21 June 2011

Please put the item in the bag!

Supermarket bosses have come up with this brilliant new idea to annoy their customers. Firstly, they introduce self-service tills, so that customers can scan and pack their own items without the inconvenience of having to interact with another human being. Then they reduce the number of open checkouts, so that the queues at the ones staffed by real people are horrendously long. The supermarket I visited this morning had only one proper checkout open. This 'encourages' the customers with few items to go to the self-service tills where it often takes them far longer to process their shopping than it would if they had waited in the queue at the other one.

How so? Well firstly, the machine yells at you in a very loud voice to "Please scan an item". So, you scan the item and before you even have chance to draw breath, it yells "Please put your item in the bag!", so you put it in the bag. However, the machine doesn't recognise the fact that you've done this and yells again "Please put your item in the bag! Please put your item in the bag! Please put your item in the bag!" until you take out the item and then put it back in again. Then it yells "Unexpected item in the bagging area, please remove the item." So you remove it and it yells at you again: "Please put your item in the bag!" So you do, and it yells "Please scan an item!"

You attempt to scan the next thing, but it doesn't recognise the bar code, so you faff around for ages to get it to scan and put it in the bag. Again, it yells "Please put your item in the bag!" - but you already have done, so it just carries on yelling at you until the assistant comes to tell the machine to shut up. By this time, you have completely lost your temper and have resorted to shouting obscenities at the machine which, being a machine, neither hears nor cares.

This morning, after such an experience, I asked the assistant if these self-service tills were just a way of avoiding having to employ more staff on the checkouts, and she told me that the staff at that supermarket hate them, and they wish that people would boycott them because they are more trouble than they are worth. They consider it a punishment if they are assigned to monitor the self-service tills because they are such a pain. I told her that if they could at least reduce the volume on the damn things, it would help, and she said that they used to be able to but the new software 'upgrade' removed that option. Great.

Arrests at Stonehenge summer solstice celebration

"About 20 people were arrested for minor drug offences during summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge.

English Heritage said more than 18,000 revellers gathered at the prehistoric site in Wiltshire to witness the sunrise on the longest day of the year."

So that's about 0.001% of the people attending who were arrested. That's not a news story, that's just a headline to give a beautiful ceremony a bad name. Why can't people write nice headlines about these wonderful events?

09 June 2011

Getting Spicey

Almost all receipes requiring the addition of dried spices give the measurements in teaspoons.

Why, then, do the manufacturers of those little jars of spices, not make the necks of those jars big enough to get a teaspoon in?

20 May 2011

What a Lightmare!

Regular readers of my blog will be only too aware of my hatred of high-intensity headlamps and brake lights. So, I'm very pleased that someone has launched a campaign to highlight (pun intended) the problems that these retina-scorchers cause.

Go on over to Lightmare and sign the petition!

Is Audi the new Volvo?

For many years, Volvos were the cars to watch out for, particularly if you ride a motorbike. With their side-impact bars, airbags, ABS and other so-called safety devices, the drivers were shielded from reality, secure in the knowledge that if they had a crash, they would be safely cocooned in their padded cage.

I used to wonder if it was the case that bad drivers bought Volvos, or that previously reasonably-good drivers were lulled into crapness by all these devices designed to take the responsibility away from the driver.

However, given the standard of driving I've witnessed recently, I am now convinced that the Audi is the new car of choice for the crap driver. Almost every 'bad driving' incident I have seen in the past few months has involved a black Audi. Tailgating, speeding, running red lights, drivers using mobile phones, drivers not wearing seatbelts, driving up pavements because they can't be bothered to wait for the vehicle in front to turn right, taking up two parking bays in busy car parks because they are unable to park straight or overtaking motorbikes and pedal bikes and then turning across their path. The list is not exhaustive.

This morning's incident made me shudder. A bloke on a bicycle was approaching a pinch-point in the road. As he moved out to go through it, the driver of the black Audi in front of me decided he wasn't going to slow down to wait for the cyclist to go through, so he drove round the cyclist and pushed in front of him - with only about 6" longer than the car to spare. This forced the cyclist off the road and he had to stop, in order to avoid getting knocked off. The Audi driver sped off down the road without, I suspect, a backwards glance. The cyclist was clearly shaken.

Now this rant was supposed to be just about crap driving, but I've been told I also have to mention the over-dark tinted windows so you can't actually see the driver (and presumably so the driver can't see cyclists), the blinding LEDs which show you where the headlamps are, and the apparent failure of Audi to provide an off-switch for the foglamps or a functioning indicator switch. There is also my constant frustration at the inability of drivers to use a handbrake, preferring instead to keep their foot on the brake and blinding those behind them with their extra-high-intensity eye-level brake lights. Yes, I know some cars have electronic parking brakes. I hate those too, and so does everyone I know who has a car with one fitted.

I think it's about time we got rid of all of these devices and made drivers actually think and drive for themselves, and put the responsibility firmly back on to the driver, not the machine.

06 April 2011

More linguistic grumbles

The bloke on the news said that Tommy Docherty has a very unique situation. 'Very unique'? Either it's unique or it's not!

On an amusing note, Eilish is collecting examples of the misuse of the word 'literally'. Here's a couple she's found so far:

Radio Scotland, 18 March: "My head literally began to spin at the thought of it".

Apparently George Osborne is "Literally cutting corners"

"Literally handbags at dawn"

"Stallone is literally about to explode"

Anyone got any more?

31 March 2011

Daily chuckle

Every morning on my way into work, I see a man and his daughter walking to school with their cocker spaniel. Every time I see the spaniel, she has something in her mouth, and either man or daughter is trying to remove it. Yesterday it was a paper plate, this morning she was dragging a bin bag. Other days she has foraged plastic bottles, cans, crisp packets, broken umbrellas, popped footballs, a shoe and a pizza box.

I love that dog, she makes me laugh every time I see her. I don't know what's funniest, the happy look on her face as she finds something else to carry, or the exasperated look on the owners' faces as they try to extricate the latest 'find'. As soon as they've taken one thing away, the dog just picks up something else and looks ever so pleased with herself.

Personally, I think they should carry a plastic bag and let the dog pick up litter on the way home and, that way the route will gradually get tidier.

25 March 2011

A forest of signs

As if our towns aren't cluttered up with enough crap, Bolton Council has now decided to look at renting out advertising space on lampposts. Great. Even more rubbish to distract and confuse motorists and make the place look like a complete and utter tip.

22 March 2011

Two rants in one

First up, toothpaste tubes. They used to be made from metal, and you could fold the ends of them over as you used up the toothpaste, so that the remaining paste was kept at the nozzle end of the tube. These days, they're made from plastic, so once you've used more than half of the toothpaste, you have to constantly push the remainder up towards the end. However, it never stays there, it redistributes itself and you end up trying to mash the tube in order to get the blasted paste out. I hate these new tubes. I want the metal ones back, please!

Second up, the revolving doors at Morrison's Supermarket. Have they deliberately set these doors to revolving so slowly that you have the urge to smash them down, or is that just me? You always end up getting some impatient person (me) tutting and whining about them because they're impeding my progress to the Crabbies aisle, whilst someone else, who isn't paying attention, sets off the sensor at the back of the doors, stopping them altogether. Sometimes you get 25 people all trying to cram into the space at the same time, and at others you get a tailback because people don't want to stand in the space with anyone else. Why do they need revolving doors anyway? What's wrong with sliding doors like everywhere else?

25 February 2011

Today is 'Drive Like a Dick' Day

This morning saw some of the worst driving I've seen in quite some time on my daily commute. Three cars completely ignored the red traffic light at the end of my road, as did a cyclist; two cars ignored the fact that it was my right of way at one of the chicanes and didn't even dare to look at me as they drove past, their stares fixed firmly ahead, hands gripping the steering wheel tightly. The 30mph maximum speed limit appears to have been re-assigned as a minimum speed limit and I have given up counting the number of people I see driving whilst using a mobile phone.

However, the best has got to be the teenage dickhead in the knackered white Fiesta who zoomed up behind me and then gesticulated angrily as I slowed down to 20mph (as per the speed limit sign) by the kiddies' play area in Chew Moor. Not happy with this delay to his journey, he then proceeded to overtake me in what sounded like first gear, despite the fact that I was overtaking parked cars on this already narrow road. He drove up onto the pavement and then bumped back down again, swerving to the left in order to avoid the oncoming bus and nearly hitting a parked car in the process. He then got held up by the three cars in front of me, who were also observing the 20mph limit. When we came to the blind left-hand bend, he decided to overtake those three cars too, and narrowly missed another oncoming vehicle. Not deterred, he then put his foot down and almost got the car on two wheels through the chicane. He decided not to go through the width restriction at Lostock Station and chose to take the other route. Imagine how pissed off he must have been when he got to the Beaumont Road traffic lights, then, to find himself behind me once again. I must admit, I did snigger just a little.