Archive for June, 2008

Howzat?

Posted on 19/06/08 | in places, society

It’s all been happening. On Sunday I played cricket for the first time in 20 years. It was advertised as ‘Rubbish Cricket’, so I took comfort from that, but was nevertheless the rubbishest player there (out of 11 in total, so only small teams). That said, I did have a moment of glory right at the very end when I took a wicket. The setting was glorious: the village cricket ground at Ewelme. On Monday I ached all over all bloody day, because clearly I are seriously unfit.

On Tuesday I went to some arts/business function at the BMW MINI plant at Cowley, avoiding the awards ceremony it was all about purely to go on a free tour of the plant afterwards – these are apparently much prized, and I just like being in places where I have no conceivable business.

It’s an extraordinary experience – well, after 90 minutes I was getting pretty bored, but before that it was more overwhelming. We visited two of the vast (and we’re talking about dozens of football pitches each here) ugly prefab buildings that grace that bit of Oxford’s ring road. The first was where loads of huge robots swing around in constant motion, grabbing parts and welding them together and so on. It’s the most dehumanised setting I’ve ever seen (there are very few actual meatware staff in there), like something out of an sf horror film really. The Matrix? You’re already in it, sunshine.

I only asked one question: “Are the robots made by robots?” They are. The whole place is an amazing monument to human technology – and utterly depressing. I couldn’t help but think our civilisation is totally fucked.

The second shed had lots more people, all of whom do 11-hour shifts on huge conveyors (they’re moving on them too), fitting all the twiddly bits to the cars. They make 50 Minis (sorry, MINIs) an hour, every single one to order and different from its shiny neighbour.

And fourthly (geddit?), on Wednesday we learnt something important – that’s a story for another day, but the good news is that all is well.

Slipping on peanut butter

Posted on 11/06/08 | in society

Here’s a great bit of journalism on the mysterious death of dolphins in Cornwall:

There are several theories, including that the dolphins may have been upset by some sort of underwater disturbance.

So, er, the underwater creatures may – though we have no idea – have been upset by something under water that upset them.

I’m always reminded at times like this of my favourite bit in How to Get Ahead in Advertising:

Businessman 1: I see the police have made another lightning raid… Paddington drug orgy.
Priest: I suppose young girls was involved?
Businessman 1: (reading the newspaper) One discovered naked in the kitchen…breasts smeared with peanut butter. The police took away a bag containing 15 grams of cannabis resin… it may also contain a quantity of heroin.
Bagley: Or a pork pie.
Businessman 1: I beg your pardon.
Bagley: I said the bag may also have contained a pork pie.
Businessman 1: I hardly see a pork pie’s got anything to do with it.
Bagley: Alright then, what about a large turnip. It might also have contained a big turnip.
Priest: The bag was full of drugs.
Bagley: Nonsense.
Priest: The bag was full of drugs, it says so.
Bagley: The bag could’ve been full of anything. Pork pies, turnips, oven parts… it’s the oldest trick in the book.
Priest: What book?
Bagley: The distortion of truth by association book. The word is “may.” You all believe heroin was in the bag because cannabis resin was in the bag. The bag may have contained heroin, but the chances are 100 to 1 certain that it didn’t.
Businessman 1: A lot more likely than what you say.
Bagley: About as likely as the tits spread with peanut butter.
Businessman 2: Do you mind?
Priest: The tits WERE spread with peanut butter!