Saturday, 30 October 2010

Free of the Phantom

What’s the qualification for being a bare-faced liar? Is it necessarily not having a beard? The topic came up when one of the staff phoned me to ask if it was okay if he arrived a bit late. He had an excellent reason for his request: he’d been visited by the Phantom Postman and he had to go to the sorting office for something that needed a signature.

The sickening thing about it, for him, was that he’d heard the billet doux coming through the letterbox. There was no ring on the doorbell and no knock on the knocker, just the distinctive clunk from the hall of the letterbox flap closing. In the absence of a thud, Roger assumed that it was just the postman dropping more junk leaflets on him and he took no notice at the time.

It wasn’t until 20 minutes later that he looked behind the door and found the form proclaiming that the phantom had called “while he was out”. Which raised the interesting question of how the phantom knew Roger was out if he’d not bothered to check.

Roger actually saw the guy doing the other side of his street a couple of hours later. When he asked the phantom if he still had the item that needed signing for, he was told it was at the sorting office. The phantom also claimed that he’d been knocking on doors all morning. Roger resisted the temptation to deck the guy for telling him such a weak and feeble lie. He just looked at him to tell him he (Roger) knew he was lying and the phantom also knew he was lying. This was where we got to discussing the qualifications of bare-faced liars.

Afterwards, it occurred to me that we, at the Mansion, are protected against the phantom and his allies. Any postman who tries to do a hit-and-run with a form instead of doing his job is liable to find himself the star of CCTV that proves he’s a liar and on the wrong side of a malfunctioning main gate with a lot of wall to climb!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Edification, Edification, Edification; or Wee Gordie Broon Explained

You pick up a lot of interesting stuff from casual reading. Yesterday, I happened to be browsing a book on the kings and queens of Scotland (by Richard Oram) and discovered that Gordon Broon had an agenda when he blew the nation’s cash with reckless spending and attempts to buy friends.

Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s “greatest king”, according to his propagandists in later years, did exactly the same thing. He gave away so much land and privileges that he had to go cap in hand to the Scottish people for living expenses, and he became the first Scottish king who was unable to live on his own resources.

No doubt the now reclusive Mr. Broon is hoping the same will happen to him and he’ll be proclaimed as Britain’s greatest prime monster through the efforts of those who profitted from the Broon profligacy with other people’s cash.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Eyes, what are you seeing!!

I saw a buncha UFOs last night at about 10 o’clock. I thought I was seeing a low-flying plane because, a couple of days ago, I had one practically knocking the chimneys off with its wheels. But there was no sound and there were just red lights, rather than red and green, and they were flickering rather than flashing.

There were four of them, travelling south, widely spaced in a sort of line-astern formation. And they just faded out one by one when they got to around the position of Jupiter, which is very bright in the southern sky at the moment. Minds somewhat blown, my guests and I decided that one of the neighbours had been messing about with a cross between small hot-air balloons and Chinese lanterns. Something which the crew at the Mansion will be doing once they’ve sourced some of them in a range of interesting colours.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Hope springs eternal

The real winner steps forward and the woman 'whose husband lost the ticket' suddenly realizes it was all a mistake and she wouldn't have been happy anyway if she'd won all that money. So why did you waste two quid, missus?

Apparently, there were 1,000 claims for lost tickets made for this big jackpot. Only a thousand? There were 1,381 claims for lost tickets made in the 4 days after I cashed my ticket in, without publicity, and the announcement that the cash wasn't on offer any more. Which only goes to show that people are more than willing to make fools of themselves if they think there's the smallest chance of pulling off a big swindle.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Believe it or what!

A woman in the Midlands reckons she won the £113 million EuroMillions jackpot but she can’t produce the ticket because her husband always takes it off her and he loses everything she gives him. Does that add up? Would any wife in her right mind let her old man take charge of her lottery ticket knowing that he’s 100% dead certain to lose it?

When I won, I knew exactly where the ticket was and I promptly wrote my name and address on it with a fountain pen, so the ink would soak into the paper, and hid it where no burglar would ever find it. And when I went to claim the cash, I put an old, non-winning ticket in my wallet in case I was mugged on the way in. And I almost hired an armed bodyguard; until I realized I should go for inconspicuous.

I thought August was supposed to be the silly season!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Don’t Cross The Boss!

“The boy Wayne has a bad leg,” says the manager, Sir A. Ferguson.
“No I don’t,” says the boy Wayne.
Next thing you know, the boy Wayne is being carted off the practice field on a stretcher with a bad leg. That’ll teach him to contradict the boss!
So prophecy or retribution? You choose!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Anything you get for nothing is worth it!

I’ve often wondered why companies offer free antivirus programs. I found out when I clicked on a badger box, which popped up on one of the older PCs, and upgraded the defence system from AVG 9 to AVG 2011. The first thing I noticed was that the boot up went on for AGES! The icons and task bar at the bottom of the desk top usually appear over my brilliant desk top picture quite quickly. With AVG 2011, it was minutes before they arrived. And my Netscape mail program wouldn’t download messages which I knew were on the server (because I went to the website and looked).

Naturally, I dumped the problem on Irwin. He got things working again eventually by booting AVG 2011 into touch and reloading version 9. 2011, he told me, is MicroSoft-style bloatware, unsuitable for the elderly PC, and it doesn’t work with something called Mozilla, which is the heart and soul of Netscape email and its descendant Firefox.

So that explains why there’s a free version of AVG. It’s a vast testing ground involving millions of users with every combination of computer hardware and software under the sun. The freebie customers are there to report problems that need to be fixed for the people with the paid-for version. So it’s sound commercial sense at the back of it, not philanthropy.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Radio Fun

Those who still listen to the News Quiz on the steam wireless will know that it’s a sort of club for softy lefty comics, who have never got over losing Mrs. Thatcher as prime minister and a target for their bile. But connoisseurs will know that the show is also a source of true comic brilliance. Such as the remark by Andy Hamilton, who deserves at least a knighthood for his services to making the nation laugh.

He announced that he was waiting for the real story of the miners trapped in Chile to come out; like, the 33 were originally 37 but they had to eat 4 of them. Priceless!

Friday, 15 October 2010

2012 reasons for not being there

My lunch guests today were asking me if I'll be shelling out £2,012 for a top-whack ticket for the opening day at the Olympics, which triggered an outbreak of much hollow laughter. A straw poll uncovered the fact that no one around the table planned to watch the opening, either by being there or on TV, and no one would be watching the events, not even to count the empty seats. So it looks like we have another Millennium Dome on our hands thanks to New Labour.

p.s. Nobody realized that yesterday was National Potato Day. But no doubt the quangocrats of the Potato Awareness Council will still be drawing their fat bonuses and expenses.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Transport of Choice

Some people find it amusing that I went for a Roller instead of a herd of Ferraris. I have a Roller because I like to travel in comfort. That’s precisely why I didn’t go for the Ferrari option; I didn’t feel an urge to zoom about with my bum scraping along the road. I also have a driver. After all, if you’re seriously rich, that means you don’t have to bother with the driving and you can concentrate on more rewarding things in the spacious back of your Roller.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Kneecap Parade

Out and about in the Roller, I became aware of hundreds of knees on show on a sunny day with a pretty strong wind blasting. Not just kids; old blokes with grey hair were wearing shorts or jeans sawn off above the knee. Just what the attraction is of bare legs in October escapes me. We seem to have a lot of allegedly mature people around trying to prove how hard they are.

10/10/10? Who cares! Today doesn't feel remotely special.

It seems that caffs and fast food joints are handing out banknotes covered with lethal bugs. Makes you glad you have staff to knock out snacks on the premises.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Not A Problem

Today's big scare story in the tabloids – mobile phones are so lethal that holding them less than one inch from the human body means instant death! For anyone who's worried, the solution to the problem is simple. You just get rich, you get some staff and you get a member of your staff to stand a safe distance from you with the phone while you use a hands-free headset.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Desirable Invisibility

Back to the bankers tangentially – the challenge of having lots of serious money is to make it disappear. If it's in a bank, or stocks & shares, or bonds or whatever, the taxman can see the gains easily. The trick is to move it into assets which will gain in value to beat inflation, at the very least, without showing up on the taxman's radar.

Of course, the trick lies in avoiding the shoals of rip-off merchants looking for a rich mug and finding safe havens to stash your alternative to cash. My master plan is to be able to croak with peanuts left visible, and leave the taxman saying, "Hey, that guy had the best part of a hundred million quid. Where's it all gone?" But no one who knows will tell him because the taxman is on everyone's Far Queue list!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Shock, Horror vs Dotty Old

You have to laugh at the court system. It’s a joke here but it’s reassuring to know that things are no better abroad and judges are “dotty old” everywhere. In the USA, they give people sentences of hundreds of years “because they can”. In France this week, they went in another direction.

A rogue trader got 5 years (2 suspended, time off for good behaviour means he does about 18 months tops) for exposing his bank to a 50 billion euro risk. He was also ordered to pay €4.9 billion in compensation – which the bank says it won’t try to collect. So that was a waste of time.

Afterthought: Maybe the bank is planning to give the guy his old job back and keep his bonuses for a couple of years.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Watching the weekend rain battering and drenching the grounds from the highest window of The Mansion, I began to wonder if I have flood insurance with a company which won’t weasel out of paying. Then I realized I don’t need it.

The trees mask it to a fair degree but the estate is on a shallow hill with The Mansion at the highest point. So everything drains down toward the river, which separates me from the main road, and a lake, the contents of which, my estate manager assures me, can be sold to the farms around me if the weather gets really dry.

So let it rain, I say. I’m not bovvered!