Wednesday, November 30, 2005

history anyone?

I was recently in Bayeux and visited the Bayeux tapestry museum. The tapestry was made shortly after the Norman invasion of 1066 and depicts the build up to the invasion, the invasion itself, the Death of King Harold and the crowning of William, Duke of Normandy as king of England. Commissioned by the brother of William, the bishop of Bayeux, the tapestry has a slight Norman bias to the story. It’s a fascinating museum & if your in Normandy (and one day you ought to be, it’s a nice place) then the tapestry museum is well worth a visit. (To get the English view point an entertaining bit of historical fiction is ‘the last English king’ by someone whose name Ive forgotten)

Anyway, here is a brief, hopefully unbiased, resume of that fascinating bit of history. (but be warned, OMR is no historian, this could be hugely inaccurate, or just plain wrong).

So, England is populated by a mixture of Anglo-Saxons (old invaders) and Danes (more recent Viking invaders) and is divided up into several autonomous ‘kingdoms’. Each kingdom has a head honcho whom I shall refer to completely inaccurately as a Lord. And some of the kingdoms are predominantly Anglo-Saxon and some are predominantly Viking. But all are nominally loyal to the king of England, who is currently Edward the confessor, Anglo-Saxon, very Christian and without heirs. But the king is not an inherited position, he is elected by the assorted lords. To further complicate matters, most of the lords are related either by birth or marriage and all sorts of complex alliances exist. For instance Harold, lord of Wessex is the brother in law of king Edward and the most powerful of the Lords (ie, has the biggest army & a keen military brain to boot).

Now over in Normandy William the Bastard is Duke. (called the Bastard because he was the illegitimate heir to the dukedom). Now William is nominally loyal to the French king, but in fact he’s pretty much free lance. He’s extremely powerful, in big with the pope and even the king of France ain’t messing with him.

Now, this is important, The people of Normandy are vassals of the Duke. The army is conscripted, There are extensive taxes to pay for the castles & Cathedrals for which the Normans are so famed. The peasants have nothing and are forced to live in abject poverty. But in dear old England all men are free. The men are volunteered for the army, The Cathedrals and fortifications are paid for by tribute. The peasants have nothing and are free to live in abject poverty.

With me so far?

Ok. King Eddie is very pro Norman. He’s having a huge Cathedral built at Westminster in the Norman style. And so he states that he wants Willie the Bastard as his heir. Now, according to the Norman view of history, this makes William the legitimate heir to the English throne. Of course, as far as the Anglo Saxons are concerned the king is elected & this is just a recommendation. I’m not too sure on the Danish view point but since they get their Viking bottoms kicked in a few paragraphs time its not important. Anyway, for reasons not fully understood, King Edward packs Lord Harold off to visit Duke William for a bit of a chat. Unfortunately, Harold is blown off course crossing the channel & is captured by some French lord and held to ransom. Now, Either Harold is valiantly rescued by William or is captured by him, or bought by him, but either way, Harold ens up in Williams court as ‘an honoured guest’.

So with Harold in tow, Duke William gives one of his local rivals a good drubbing. Harold is a superb warrior & becomes something of a hero. So Duke William offers him a knighthood. Now this is a huge problem for Harold. Should he accept then he has to swear fealty to William & support his claim to the English throne. But to refuse would be a huge insult to William, his host & ‘rescuer’ and may cost Harold his knackers. So, Harold takes the knighthood & swears loyalty to William on the holiest relics in Normandy. Now, if your English then this oath was made under duress & is without value. If your Norman this is a holy oath before God and to break it is a sin punishable by the removal of your head.

OK, Harold goes home. And King Edward dies. Harold is either elected king or seizes the crown depending on who you talk to. And William, Duke of Normandy is Miffed. So he decides to invade. King Harold cares not a jot. He is supported by the lords of Mercia (another English anglo-saxon lord-dom) and together their combined army is gonna kick Williams illegitimate butt. More worryingly, Tostig, The Danish Lord of an English lord-dom up North is not to happy with Harold as King. And he is supported by his uncle, the king of Norway, who would quite like to expand into England. So Tostig & his Uncle get an army together. At this moment Hally’s commet appears & is considered a bad omen all round.

Still, Harold is a brilliant tactitian. With the combined might of Mercia & Wessex he can nobble the Vikings & bash the Normans. So he tells the Lords of Mercia to wait for him to get his army up North & together they can trounce Tostig. Unfortunately, he ‘tells’ the Lords of Mercia. And even if your king, the Lords of Mercia aren’t being bossed around. See, politeness is everything. If only Harold had said please. So the disgruntled Lords of Mercia go it alone against the Vikings. And get slaughtered. And overnight Harolds army is halved. Harold marches north, beats up Tostigs forces & kills the king of Norway. Meanwhile, William has landed his troops in the south, fed & watered them and dug in. So Harold now has to force march his tired much reduced army south to engage the Normans on their terms. Things don’t look so good for Harold.

Still, Harold is good at war. It’s a close fought battle. At one point the Normans fear William dead & break and run, But William is still alive and regroups. Then, when things could go either way, Harold takes an arrow in the eye. The English line breaks and King Harold and the Nobility of England are butchered. William, Duke of Normandy becomes king of England and this hails a period of either

- Tyranny and enslavement of the English by their new Norman masters that completely breaks the spirit of the Anglo-Saxons and Danes.
- A renascence of building and administration that turns England into a single great nation.

Ain’t history great. (corrections welcome).

Ptiowwingi ptang-ink ???

Something in Chez rich made a very peculiar sound last night.
A sort of Ptowwingi ptank-ink. Not deafeningly loud, but decidedly audible. I have absolutely no idea what it was.

But its worrying me.

Oh god I hope the mice haven't acquired a xylophone.

Sock of blood.

I couldn't find my walking boots this morning.
And I didn't fancy walking through the icy sludge in my work shoes.
But I discovered a big pair of black boots with the word demolition written on them in yellow.
Cool I thought.
Cool maybe. comfortable no. I fear the skin has gone from my right heel & it feels decidedly soggy down there.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rant: GM glow in the dark fish?

Thanks to Jeff the comic
for pointing me in the direction of This. Or maybe not. I am truly horrified and outraged. GM modified fish to be sold as glow in the dark ornaments? How low can we get?

Now, I confess to being a member of the UK soil association which opposes all things GM. But before the cries of ‘luddite’ start to echo around my blog let me say that I joined mainly because the girl who cornered me outside the health food shop (I was just passing, not using it, honest) was very pretty. And I fear it’s a membership I must cancel now I have purchased the money pit that is Chez Rich. But I digress. I am broadly in favour of GM research. And if you can develop a grain that can survive drought conditions then wonderful, lets feed Africa. But if you want to develop wheat that is resistant to herbicides and insecticides so that you can kill every other living thing in the field then I am fiercely opposed. That’s always the issue. Its not the technology that’s the problem, but how it is used.

Now pets as companions, or even to keep creatures (in good conditions) that interest you as a hobby I can sort of understand. Indeed, I used to breed tropical fish and will have a pond with goldfish next year (I hope), so I can’t object to much. But living creatures as fashion accessories is abhorrent(yes, you stupid rich bitches with your miniature dogs that you dump when they become too large for your handbags, I mean you).

So, to genetically modify fish to make glow in the dark ornaments? Is it just me or has the world gone mad? There is an unpleasant practice in the fish-keeping world where certain fish are injected with coloured dyes to make them ‘more attractive’. It is fiercely opposed by all responsible fish-keeping magazines and organisations and good fish-keepers boycott stores that stock these fish. I really hope that these GM glo-fish are treated in the same way.

If you want shiny decorations buy tinsel.

Monday, November 28, 2005

OMR, a luddite, racist and misogynist?

A reference to OMR from Mr Pardoe on Stav’s blog suggested that I was a luddite, racist & misogynist. Heh Heh. Well I’ve been called many worse things. So here is my response:

A luddite? Oh yeah baby! Mobile phones are the new thalidomide. When all your swimmers have been rendered immobile by your evil phones radiation, the girls will be flocking to old man rich for his potent love juice. And old man rich will point at your miserable radiated genitals and cry ‘told you so’ and laugh….

Seriously, all hail the genius’s. I glory in the new and the exciting. Invention and discovery are wonderful and magical things. Yes, I’m prepared to accept that the earth circles the sun. I use my car and hanker only a little for the days of horse drawn carriages. But a train needs brakes. Things can change for the worse as well as the better. Run blindly forward and eventually its gonna hurt. Just as the house of commons needs the damper that is the house of lords, so you technophiles need us luddites. We are a vital pause for thought in your ill considered charge into the future. And there are precious few of us. Old Man rich is proud to be a luddite. And you should recognise that it is a rare and wonderful thing. Worship me, damn you…

A racist. Hell yes. But only because, and it’s a basic truth, the British ARE superior to everyone else. Now, lets get this clear, I’m not colourist. You can be black British, pink British, brown British, yellow British, purple with green spots British and even, just, have a bad orange fake tan and be British. I am pleased to live in a multi cultural, multi religious mixing pot. I’m grateful and proud that I live in a country that people want to flee to rather than from and welcome immigrants of all creeds who want to become British. But we are British, and British is best. Outside of our wonderful country there are of course other fine people. The commonwealth countries on the whole play cricket. And drink tea. We may refer to them as Indians or Ozzies but deep down, they know and we know, they are British. And our American cousins, well they may celebrate independence day, struggle to speak and spell gods chosen language, play girlie games and call them sport and have a trained monkey as president, but scratch the surface and you will find that British ness is just below the skin. In fact, I have been lucky enough to travel in four continents and many countries and have on the whole, been met with kindness, friendship, honesty & decency. Yup. Despite there strange customs and peculiar habits, most of the world is essentially British. And worthy of the prefix Great.

Except of course France. I was in France just last week. And the French were wonderful. We were welcome, we were befriended, we were spoken to in good English and not mocked for our appalling French. The food was excellent, the restaurants inviting, the supermarkets cheap and stocked with a range of fresh produce that puts ours to shame. There were no ill mannered, badly dressed, obese chav’s thronging in the town centre. In fact, there were no ugly fat people at all. The health system is great and the old are treated with the respect they deserve. If you didn’t know better you might consider them superior to us. But, and this is a fundamental point, they are French. And, therefore, despite all appearances to the contrary, inferior garlic swilling, onion selling ill mannered scum. Remember Agincourt. As Nelson never said but should have “The wogs do indeed begin at Calais, they just end at Marseille”.

Obviously, its not quite as simple as ‘us and them’. Even in these sacred isles there are degrees and differences. For all his marching and bombing, Belfast man is bordering on being Irish. And the Welsh?, well if you need miners, choirs, charlotte church's breasts or outside halves then they excel but as for the rest, hmm, well, they’re Welsh. And let us gloss rapidly over the Scott’s because men in skirts is not really right. Even within mighty England there are clear divisions. Your northerner is invariably dour, ill educated and born for a life of poverty, being incapable of either achieving or enjoying success. And in the midlands where I currently reside, the people are friendly and intelligent, but the years of inbreeding have resulted in a certain coarseness, and dare I say it, inherent ugliness, not found in their southern neighbours. And even in the glorious south, the sons and daughters of Essex shine like gods amongst men. And that finest child of Essex, that most glorious of the glorious, that pinnacle for which millions of years of evolution and selection have strived, is me. Racist? Yes. There’s me, and there’s everyone else. Worship me damn you…

Misogynist? Ok, I’ll admit I had to look it up. A person who hates or dislikes women? Me? No way. I love women. Hell, they are beautiful. They are sexy. They are even more intriguing and frightening than beetles. Now, understand women? No way. Not a clue. A completely alien species to me. They are apparently bereft of all normal logic and work on some sort of random instinctive thought process that is completely beyond me. Intimidated, nay, scared by women? Quite possibly. Lets face it, its normal to fear what you don’t understand. Besides, most of the girls I have been out with could take me in a fair fight, and seldom fought fair. But OMR, a person who hates or dislikes women? No. I worship them. I even, reluctantly, accept that they should be allowed in the Crown. They are even better than cuttlefish. I deny the charge of misogyny and have 80 gig of porn to back up my case….

France? Boy it was cold.

On June 6th 1944 the allied forces landed 156,000 men on the beaches of Normandy. And 10,000 men died that day. On Fridays I drink with old Bob in the Crown. On June 6th 1944 he was on HMS Roberts, off the coast of Normandy. And her 15” guns levelled the town of Caen amongst other things.

So last Wednesday Bob & I drove down to Pompey & took a ferry over to Normandy and spent a few days touring the D-Day beach heads. What to say? It was very moving. I cried at the cemetery at Bayeux where 4600 British soldiers are buried and another 1800 who were never found are listed on the monument. At the Canadian Museum at Juno beach they presented Bob with a gold maple leaf lapel pin, and at the mulberry harbour museum in Arromanches they presented Bob with a paperweight and had him sign the veterans book. The librarian (female) then attempted a Gallic hug & cheek kiss, but got an English grope & snog from Bob. There’s life in the old bugger yet.
We also visited a large German gun emplacement, in hail, snow and an icy wind that cut through all clothing (Normandy? yes. Normandy in winter? A bloody stupid idea.) and we toured the German watch tower at Ouistreham.

At Bayeux we also visited the tapestry museum which gave a fascinating (if slightly biased) view of the Norman invasion of 1066. I tried to get Bob a veterans discount there but they wouldn’t believe he was 960 years old. The cathedral at Bayeux was also beautiful. Had I not left my camera in Telford there would be many pictures.

Finally, on the way back we visited a small cemetery in Douvres (or somewhere similar). There was a mixture of German, French, Polish, American & Canadian graves, all beautifully tended. Those with graves names were mostly of 19 or 20 year olds. But most didn’t have names, they just said ‘A soldier. Known to God’. And as we walked in silence amongst the graves, a woman in her late 50’s (I guess) stopped her car, ran across to Bob and hugged him and in broken English said ‘Thank you. Thank you so much.’.
And I cried again.

Friday, November 18, 2005

whooo whooo...

There was a hard frost last night in scenic Telford. This morning the sun was shining and everything was white and sparkling, so I walked into work. The trees are in full autumn display, and I kicked through the fallen leaves, and blew out steam in the cold air, and made train noises. Ok, some of the local kids now think I'm a freak but hey, it made me happy.
But now I'm in the office & its about 80 degrees & I'm rather regretting the thermal vest.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Play to lose, wipe out the Welsh...

I like my rugby.
But there are limits.
So I'm rather hoping that Wales will beat England in the spring.

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's Rugger, old bean

On Saturday I went up to Twickers with my dad. It was a really good day out. We had a few ales in Richmond, and wandered to the ground for the Match. The England pack were magnificent and totally destroyed the Australian forwards. Given this platform it should have been a rout, but our backs seemed rather aimless and despite long period of possession struggled to penetrate the (admittedly fine) Australian defence. In contrast, on the rare occasions when the Ozzy backs had the ball they looked exceedingly dangerous and the England defence had more holes than my favourite underwear.
So it was an exciting match. Although the fact that the south stand has been demolished means that you cannot see a scoreboard from the north end of the ground. About 10 minutes after half time we realised we weren’t sure what the score was. We thought we were winning but by how much?. So we asked the people around. And no one knew. Or rather everyone knew, but everyone thought something different. And it spread like ripples in a pool, as more and more people realised that they were not sure of the score and there was no scoreboard in sight. Then the chanting started … ‘what’s the sco-ore, what’s the sco-ore, what’s the hells the F**ing score’. Ok, its no sweet chariot, but I have to say that at £60 a ticket I expect to see a scoreboard, so fingers out RFU.
Anyway, we won fairly comfortably, but if our back line looks that tatty against the All Blacks then next Saturday were gonna get creamed.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


As you may or may not know, Sue Axon, 51, is currently demanding a judicial review of Government guidelines which allow under 16s to seek advice on contraception or abortion without the knowledge of their parents. She feels that a doctor should be legally obliged to inform a parent if an girl under 16 seeks an abortion. Currently a doctor has a duty of confidentiality, unless sexual abuse is suspected when the doctor is required to inform the relevant authority, but not the parent.

Now, I speak as someone with zero teenage daughters, so I may be wrong but here goes…

1. If your daughter is facing probably the toughest choice of her life and feels that she cannot come to you for advice, help, guidance and support then you have pretty much failed as a parent. She probably has excellent reasons for not wanting you to know and as a failed parent you don’t deserve to know.
2. Doctors have a duty of patient confidentiality. Whilst I would expect any GP to recommend that a girl discusses this with her parent(s) he has a moral obligation to respect her wishes if she doesn’t want them informed.
3. If a girl does not want her parent to know that she is enquiring about or having an abortion, and that girl knows that by law a doctor must inform them, then she will not go to a doctor. She will end up with some grotty illegal back street abortionist. To put young girls in this position is evil and wrong.
4. Its up to our elected representatives to decide if a judicial review is required, not some demented middle aged mum. Judicial reviews cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. If ms Axton wants one then she should have to pay for it, not waste my tax money on something that any judge with half a brain will throw straight out.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Okay, okay my little Buddhist conscience. I was wrong to kill the wasp. I did it entirely out of spite. It made the sting no less painful & I could have easily (ish) captured it & released it outside. And should have. I regret it and apologise unconditionally to wasps, wasp lovers, and wasp gods everywhere.

A little research reveals… “wasps have not developed methods of storing food for the winter, and this is why their colonies only last for one season in temperate regions. Each colony starts to break up in the autumn and the workers die of cold. However, before this happens new queens and males have been developed and have swarmed out of the colony to mate. The males die soon after mating, but the young fertilised females search for a sheltered spot where they can spend the winter. Such dormant queens can often be found in outhouses and lofts during the winter”.

And occasionally in Old Man Rich’s bed. So I probably killed a young queen. Wiping out with a single blow whole future generations. That’s made me feel no end of better. Still, at least the hand has returned to its normal size and stopped hurting.

Frogs and Sea Eagles.

Amphibians are in a lot of trouble. Almost a third of the 5,743 known species are at risk of extinction; up to 122 have disappeared within the last 25 years. Mainly, as always, the cause is us. Habitat loss, climate change, chemical contamination, over harvesting & the introduction of invasive species has made life tough for our moisture loving buddies. There is also a nasty fungal infection, once restricted to parts of Africa that is now spreading rapidly and is lethal to many amphibians. It has now reached the UK and our frogs are dying. No one is sure how fast, but its not looking good. A recent summit of experts estimated the price of saving the world's frogs, toads and salamanders from oblivion will top $400m (£220m) over five years. There are only two places that might put up the money. The European union, who have been failing to agree their budget for a year and a half. I don’t expect adding in half a billion for frogs will hurry the process. And, the USA, whose leader has finally acknowledged that there may be such a thing as global warming but considers the cost of saving the planet for our grandchildren ‘potentially too damaging to the US economy’. ½ a billion for frogs? I think not. I start digging my wildlife pond after Christmas. But I suspect it may not be enough.

However, all is not doom and gloom. Sea Eagles were reintroduced introduced into the UK in the 60’s, having been eliminated in 1918. A breeding pair was finally established in 1983. Now there are 35 pairs and rising. Thanks to a concerted effort by mankind the sea eagles are back and thriving. What a shame we eliminated them in the first place. Lets hope we don’t make the same mistake with frogs.

Sea Eagles...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Is nowhere safe?

Last night I was stung by a wasp. Now, I'm pretty tolerant of the whole creatures that attack you thing. If your stupid enough to wander through the Congo don't moan when you find maggots living under your skin. Even acquiring leeches in central Sydney, whilst unexpected, was OK. But I do not, repeat, DO NOT, think that being stung by a wasp whilst lying in my own bed is acceptable.

Yup, I was snuggled up under my biggest duvet (having successfully buggered the central heating on Saturday)and I felt something uncomfortable against my buttock. So I reach down and Zap! With surprising agility for a man of my age and girth, I leaped out of bed, threw back the cover and revealed a wasp crawling about on the sheet. With a quick flick of a slipper its short life was ended. But the damage was done. It had stung me right between my finger and thumb. Worse, I got a case of the squirms & had to keep putting on the light & checking the bed for other offenders. I'll swear there was a tiger in there at one point but it managed to hide. This morning I am tired and have a swollen hand. Irritable does not even come close.

So Kiddies. Next time you sucking an ice lolly and a wasp comes buzzing up, and you very sensibly start screaming, running around and flapping your arms like a windmill on speed, and some adult says 'Just stay still and ignore it and it won't hurt you' you have my permission to reply 'Uncle Rich says your talking complete bollocks' and to stick your lolly right up their...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Stripping in the porn room

My PC is currently on the floor in a weird little space that separates the fairy princess room from the landing. This makes blogging hard & cruising for porn uncomfortable. So I decided, the box room needs sorting. First I need more space, so rip out the fitted wardrobe. This reveals that the carpet was fitted around the wardrobe. So rip up the carpet in the hope of finding nice floorboards underneath. And its chipboard. Price up a laminate floor and sob gently. Then spend several nights removing the blue and red vinyl wallpaper. To reveal the yellow and green vinyl underneath. Ahh, more nights stripping of the wrong sort. Still I'm down to the plaster at last, and its reasonably sound. A bit of filler, a slap of emulsion & the PC can move in. And the colours? Magnolia walls. White ceiling. And by the time I am finished (in about 20 years) every room will be the same. Magnolia walls. White ceiling. Anything else is just wrong.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Our Solar system grows…

Scientists think they have discovered another two moons around the (maybe) planet Pluto.
These moons are not yet named. Since Pluto was the Roman god in charge of the underworld, and Charon (Pluto’s other moon) was the boatman who ferried the dead across the river Styx, they will need a couple of afterlife related names. I’m thinking Spike & Drusilla. Suggestions please.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I normally shop at the co-op. Ok, it’s a bit expensive, and the selection isn’t great, but I think you should support your local store. Besides, one of the girls on the checkouts has nice eyes & its conveniently close to the Crown. But sometimes I need a big supermarket. I used to shop at Sainsbury’s, but they changed the layout & made the aisle’s narrower. I couldn’t find anything and fighting past the double parked trolleys pissed me off, so I abandoned them. Then I started using ASDA. Its next to work, good quality, and cheap. But its full of poor people. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the poor per se, but I don’t want to shop with them. I mean, your queuing with people with nits. Yuck. So, its back to Sainsbury’s (I can’t afford Marks & Sparks and Tesco is just to common). And I must say, the standard of tottie is definitely higher than its competitors. The young moms are not your usual Telford 14 year old chavs, its actually quite pleasant viewing, but the aisle’s are to narrow, there are too many people, the queues are too long.
However, Old man Rich has a solution. You see, I work. I can only shop at lunchtimes, evenings and weekends. However, there are lots of people who don’t work. Old People. The unemployed. Students. Mothers. Teachers (for 12 weeks a year), Santa, Vicars, (1 day a week – idle tossers). So, ban the lazy job shy scum from our supermarkets during lunchtimes and evenings. Make them switch of the Columbo re-runs, get off their lazy arses and go shopping whilst us good, honest, decent tax payers are at work. Actually, lets ban fat people and ugly people too. And under 18’s. And over 50’s. And pushchairs, wheelchairs, walking frames and people who use trolly’s rather than baskets. And blokes. In fact, it should just be me and attractive girls. And they should have to shop naked. Come on you supermarkets, do you want my trade or what?