I've got a bit twitchy about the fact that it's been a long time since I added anything to this section of the site. It's just that we seem to be going through a Marmite Era, in that the things I can be bothered to write about are at one extreme or another of experience.
What follows is what could be called a 'miscellany-at-large' or - as one of the motoring magazines I devoured in my pre-adolescent petrol-head state (Autocar, if I recall correctly) used to call a column of similar intent - "Disconnected Jottings":
I was in Sainsbury's this morning - grateful for the fact that I'd never allowed myself to be manoeuvred into having a Nectar Card™, bearing in mind that that company has now cosied up to one of the most hideous papers in the soi-disant 'free world' - when I saw bottles of what was described as 'Sensitive Washing Up Liquid'. I nearly picked one up, the more fully to empathise with it, but realised that my having to put it back on the shelf again would only cause it further anguish.
In other shopping news, I am continuing my policy of not buying anything festooned with the Union Flag. A small decal indicating country of origin of the produce, I don't mind. But when the Brexiteer's Apron covers most of the packaging, I get the distinct feeling that I'm being sold rather more than the contents; like a pup, for example, or a pig in a poke.
What I'm actually being sold, of course, is a form of propaganda. Just as in the last five years - roughly co-terminous with the beginning of the independence campaign in Scotland, although that of course is a total coincidence, m'dear, oh yes! - television programmes with the words 'British' or, worse still, 'Great British' in their titles have proliferated like cholera in Yemen, so it seems that we must constantly be reminded of This Great Empire to which we are so proud to belong. Well, be it cucumber or custard, "I say it's spinach and I say the hell with it". I won't buy into that shit.
On my way into the shop this morning, I saw someone I used to work with. We just exchanged a "Hello!" and went on our respective ways. This was just as well, because if hell had me I couldn't remember her name. I was halfway round the place (In the section labelled 'Savoury Biscuits') before I recalled it. I find that I'm doing this rather a lot lately. Worrying...
Before I leave the Wonders of Modern Consumerism, it has occured to me many times that to be single in this commercial landscape is to be permanently discriminated against. For example, if you go on holiday - even if it's only a three-day coach trip to the Trossachs - you will be hit with a 'single-bed surcharge' by the hotel; in other words, you will pay twice as much for occupying half the space. The only 'logic' for this charmless behaviour is economic, and economics - being merely soothsaying with spreadsheets - is not remotely logical anyway.
But even in quotidian circumstances, the disadvantage continues.
I mean, take milk.
I don't use much milk at all, especially since I recovered from muesli last year. So, a pint - this being the smallest volume available - will, long before it has all been used, have decided on a change of career and become proto-yoghurt instead, meaning that half of the bottle gets poured down the sink. The only slight amelioration I have been able to achieve is to always get skimmed, because it seems that the lower the fat level, the longer it lasts.
But in general, everything seems to be in quantities too much for the needs of an individual consumer, unless he's a greedy sod of course. I'm surprised that none of the major food companies (if they're not all the same company nowadays) nor any of the supermarkets have latched on to the potential market for smaller portions, perhaps under an umbrella brand name like 'Singletons'. I think that I'd buy them.
Away from rampant consumption now, although I thought at the time that what happened was going to force me into a purchase. Last Sunday morning, I was browsing away (and paying my rent and council tax) before going shopping. I shut down the PC before I went, and then went to fire it up on my return.
One beep from the BIOS. OK, that's normal. Three more beeps from it. CPU FAN ERROR. Oh jolly bother! I rebooted. Same thing. Oh well, it's nearly five years old; I suppose something had to start going wrong with it by now.
After lunch, I disconnected the main unit, put it on the table in the middle of the room and took the side off. No obvious loose wires. Connected the power back up and booted it again. All fans whirring away merrily, only one BIOS beep. Powered it off. Powered it back up once more; only one beep, all fans go. Bastard thing! I then had to power it off, move it back under the desk and connect everything up again. This is always a regal arse-ache because some of the connecting cables are too short to enable me to plug them in without pushing the tower unit quite a long way back into its space. This means doing much of the job by touch, not something I find easy to do at the best of times, even less so because my left shoulder has been giving me gyp for a while. And if you think that The Great USB Faff, whereby you have to try the bloody thing three times before you get it the right way round, is bad, then the HDMI connection is, if anything, worse; it won't go in even when you've got it the right way.
The task having been accomplished (with much use of extended vocabulary), I powered back up and again only got one beep. Once logged in, I opened up SpeedFan (molto grazie, Alfredo!) and monitored things for the rest of the evening, with no untoward results. It could have been some dust from the central heating installation either getting in the sensors or just slowing the fan down. Either way, relief for now.
Headline over an opinion piece in the Groaniad: "Why we must have a second referendum". But haven't the people of Scotland been told that they can't possibly have another referendum on their best chance of escaping the consequences of Greater England's Brexitwittery because it has already been decided 'for a generation'? If there is to be a second vote on national economic suicide, surely it should therefore be delayed until at least 2035?
Headline over another witter in the same paper: "Robots will not lead to fewer jobs - but the hollowing out of the middle class". Well, serves them right. After all, it is the English middle class whose greed, conceitedness, prejudice and unwarranted sense of superiority have all been pandered to by politicians and hacks over the last thirty-odd years who have landed us in the economic and ethical sewer in which we all find ourselves today. I can't see anything to dislike about them getting back with interest what they have so gleefully thrown at the rest of us for so long. It's an awfully long way overdue and - as with the Leave-ites - I hope to still be around to enjoy their chorale of frothing anguish.
And a final reminder: there is no moral equivalence between Nazis and those who fight against them. The lessons of the past - still within living memory - are clear and unmistakable. You fight Fascism by fighting it. You don't fight it by pretending that it isn't there; you don't fight it by cosying up to it; you don't fight it by surreptitiously adopting its rhetoric or world-view to gain short term political or material advantage; and you don't fight it by claiming that the adherents to that portmanteau of vile beliefs have "...genuine and understandable concerns". You fight it by making sure that it is met with the requisite opposition force wherever it tries to appear, you keep doing that until you have forced them back under the rock from under which they crawled, and then - crucially - you wage a campaign of constant vigilance to make sure it doesn't come back out again. It is a measure of the failure of our education, media and political systems that each generation seems to have to discover this anew and face the same old enemy again.
Let's end with some music. 1941 wasn't Spielberg's best movie, although it had its moments. But John Williams' music was very good, especially the 1941 March. Even for a comedy movie, this is stirring stuff: