G&T

Gastroenteritis and Tartrazine – A serious warning about this article.  The subject matter may be considered uncomfortable for those of a weak disposition.  This article contains a graphic description of a bout of food poisoning and I strongly suggest that you think carefully before fully opening and reading this piece.

It is not intended to be sensational and is written with thought and honestly but for reasons of descriptive accuracy does explain the processes and results of the illness.

Blogs are about real life experiences and not all are akin to fluffy bunnies ambling on a hillside in the sunshine.  So proceed only if you are ready for some realism.  No offence will be taken if you do not read this one of my articles.  I would think carefully myself if you were to post something similar yourself.

It started on a Thursday.  My wife, Lynda and I eat out a lot and usually choose a pub offering a good meal deal.  This particular one has been a recent favourite and we have had many reasonable meals there.

We understand that post Christmas January eating out is the rarest time of the year.  It is why establishments make offers during the busy December month to entice punters back into the practice of eating out in the new year.  However, we regulars need no such enticement as the process of eating out is a common habit.

In fact in the December run up to Christmas we share the same thoughts that alcoholics do about seasonal drinkers invading their space at festive times.  With our annoyance focussed on some food based pubs taking away their usual offers in the run up.

All of which is just an explanation of why we had no concerns about visiting this unusually quiet pub on this evening for our main meal of the day.

We ordered a fairly normal menu choice, me the gammon with egg, Lynda with the chicken.  We did comment to each other that it was delivered surprisingly quickly but we had said it was quiet that evening.

The food was as unremarkable as ever and expected for the price but I did note that the Jacket Potatoes were cold to the touch.  Well perhaps not technically cold but certainly far from steaming hot.  But it didn’t ring bells and we ate up and left as usual.

Later that evening I needed to use the toilet.  Again, not normally remarkable but the beginning of a story this time.  It was a standard episode but had to be repeated about an hour later.  It was then that mild stomach cramps became evident.

The third visit in as many half hours included some diarrhoea and increasing tummy tightening.  By the fourth time I was only jettisoning fluid and feeling a good throw up might bring things to a conclusion.

It was now well into the night, I was feeling increasingly weak and weary, freezing cold out of the bed and unable to lie comfortably in it, my torso demanding all my attention.

I announced to Lynda that this was serious and I had to abandon thoughts of working on the Friday.  She wasn’t really convinced until I actually vomited.  The drama of this act enough to convince the most skeptical wife that her husband wasn’t angling for a free pass.  She agreed to make the necessary arrangements leaving me free to wallow in my misery.

Being violently sick is a strange phenomenon.  For most of us a rare occurrence, frightening as a thought during build up but often strangely a sudden and fantastic release when over.

In this case thankfully it wasn’t accompanied by the often body shaking, full-on fast, sweaty, disablement that sees one writhing on the floor, virtually unable to lift oneself to a place of hygienic projection whilst feeling genuine thoughts of considered demise as a pathetic release from the perceived torture.

In my case I just suffered the intense torso trauma necessary for the body to do what it needed, which is to eject the foreign body as efficiently and fast as possible.

The reason for my coldness and feelings of weakness is explained by the total denial of any unnecessary energy allowed to the limbs and head.  All blood circulation and glucose available being required for the central body area.

Then a fantastic and impressive contortion occurs.  My stomach seized suddenly to a fraction of its normal size and caused a quickly repeating wave form heading up to the chest.  Such was the intensity I felt my skin tighten over the hips and ribs.

This was accompanied by the enlargement and straitening of my whole mouth and throat all the way down to my stomach.  It was as if you could put a whole arm down into my stomach without touching the sides.

My face contorted to maximise the final opening with my lips pulled back over the teeth as if I was reenacting the classic scene from An American Werewolf In London.

All of which pathetically resulted in just a tiny few specks of semi-digested food.

A second episode and this time all the drama with sadly none of the result.  The earlier diarrhoea having stolen all the moisture from my system.

But finally a third and more intense session and I ejected partial evidence of the suspected interloping poison.

It is only when this finally occurs that the inbuilt detective in oneself can finally hone in on the suspect.  I’ll save you from the more salacious details [surprisingly considering my attempts at detailing up to now] but I blame the gammon and suspect it had been stupidly reheated.

My misery didn’t finish there.  The body cramps hadn’t finished, the diarrhoea continued the next couple of days and I was pretty well bed bound for 36 hours in a state of uncomfortableness.

A further trio of vomiting occurred the next day, Friday, and my unexpected dieting continued as I had no desire to add anything into the cauldron of gloop festering in my innards.

All I wanted was to sleep but this was distracted by my tummy pains and frequent visits to discharge the small remaining vestiges of fluid in my system.  And flushing through an overheating anus is not ideal.

In fact it was the Saturday before I was persuaded by Lynda to allow anything other than water to pass my lips and I chose first to take on a sugary liquid.

She had kindly purchased a couple of litres of one of my favourite juices, Cranberry and Raspberry.  I considered this quite innocuous so ventured a sip or three.

I attempted to properly rehydrate whilst giving me a sugary boost to aid the feelings of extreme tiredness.  And I guess it worked.

During the day I felt better, less exhausted and only had the remaining tummy cramps to dispel, which I knew wouldn’t go until my body had satisfied itself that all badness was gone and once again offered feelings of hunger to replenish itself.

But it was an 18 hour period of living with just an empty shell filled only with a sticky juice.  And a strange phenomenon started to occur.

It started when I closed my eyes to attempt rest.  Normally on first closing eyes I see temporary visions of the intense light sources I had been seeing.  Such as dark patches where lights had been on or more recently dark square patches where I had been looking at my phone.  These recede over a short time to be replaced by the swirling out of focus cells and miniature hairs naturally floating across the eyeball.  Distinct and highly contrasting, particularly evident when the room light source is lit or daylight as it was during this time.

However, now I was experiencing something new.  Fuzzy grey, indistinct large patches with highly jagged and darker detailed edges.

These sights, through closed eyes, were the first different thing but soon my mind’s thoughts, unusually quiet during my previous sickness, had now turned quite crazy.  Crazy in the sense of all over the place.

Song snippets, earworms, raced repeatedly around.  Thoughts jumped from one subject to another at an unbelievable and frightening speed, perhaps six to ten a second and when I did finally ‘sleep’ for a few minutes vivid dreams featuring regressive situations coupled with modern characters in my life filled my imagination.

I concluded I was suffering the alleged fate of small children with underdeveloped minds reacting to what I understand as an excess of Tartrazine in their diet.  In their case often accompanied by random, uncontrollable, disruptive actions.

Thankfully as I proceeded to rid myself of the sickness and tentatively returned to normal eating the effects wore off, the only permanent result being this scripted article penned in lieu of a good nights sleep.

I hope I haven’t laboured too much on the murky details in my story, having only included what I felt needed to get to the interesting aspects of violent sickness and my personal thoughts on ‘Tartrazine’.  I am aware that the subject matter has been intense and appreciate any reader who has come this far with me.

I include this as blogging stories are nearly always about the good and positive in life and the more realistic aspects are usually less well documented.

Maybe someone someday might be interested in how food sometimes affected us in the early twenty first century.

In stating this I assume it is the year 2743 or something.  By which time I shall have fully recovered.

A few final thoughts.

Firstly, I have no intention of naming or shaming the establishment which I believe caused my distress.  I have eaten there on perhaps dozens of occasions and believe there was no ill intent or lack of hygiene practice to cause this problem on this occasion.  It is part and parcel of regular eating out.  If they made a mistake on this day then this is unfortunate.

I do not plan to ostracise the establishment and whilst won’t immediately rush back will probably be tempted back eventually by the enticing offers which lead us there in the first place.

I do not seek compensation as I have lost nothing really except an unscheduled holiday date.

The cost to me was temporary the pain a fading memory save for this piece but we all got a blog from it, so some positive.

The anxiety and additional work imposed on Lynda was accepted unequivocally as one does for a lifetime partner.  And she did get a virtually uninterrupted day of Netflix out of it.

I have not studied the phenomenon of Tartrazine, have no proof of this chemical in my drink and do not in any way cite myself as an expert in this field with only general circumstantial and hearsay stories leading me to the conclusions above.  Further, I have no particular interest in pursuing knowledge in this field and do have access to Wikipedia should I change my thoughts on this.

I particularly have no interest in children with ‘behavioural difficulties’ and again my thoughts above are as far as I personally wish to explore such matters.

I know there are blogs out there that deal with much more severe trauma, sickness and even death.  Probably with greater humanity, thought and compassion but please don’t assume I need a list of such places to view.  I can use search myself if I wish to go down this route.

Any comments are welcome but if you wish to espouse views on diarrhoea, vomit or children please try to maintain an understanding that not everyone wants to know every tiny detail, particularly about the two most icky subjects.  Obviously one being children.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 13 Feb 2019
Originally written but not published  on 15 Jan 2018

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Brexit

Thoughts, Corrections and Ideas By Vince Poynter

It’s no good.  I can wait no longer.  I need to pitch in with some thoughts about the most important political machinations in my lifetime.  Brexit.

The trouble is it happened at all the wrong time for me.  I’ve been far too busy sorting out my web site and you know, priorities.

Thankfully Brexit is not simple so it’s still a thing and here is my take on it all.

UK and EU

The United Kingdom is a proud body of nations.  Worldwide we punch well above our weight, commanding respect around the planet.  Our language is as close to universal as you can get.  Our values and democracy are widely exported and we were the last peoples to have a substantial empire.  One which we voluntarily deconstructed and ceremonially maintain.

We have an enviable military record which has transformed from a successful conquering nation to a force for good and as a result have built long standing worldwide trading partners.

Our past inventions and current skills are shared everywhere and we are a go to place for education, research and financial stability.

Yet despite all this as a people we are considered modest, liberal and welcoming, which is why we share in our continent’s modern European collective dream of peace and trade with ever diminishing borders.

Europe itself continued to fuse together politically and as modern world technology allowed closer shared values and industry the borders and differences have become less relevant.  Previous warring nations had matured so learned to live peacefully alongside each other and area distinctions became less relevant.  The European dream was a winning formula and adjacent nations queue to participate.

But we were never all in with Europe.  We kept our own currency, limited our acceptance of full borderless movement of peoples, negotiated discounts on our share of the costs of the union and crucially never really considered ourselves as truly European.

There remains a slight skepticism about the ultimate European Dream and where this all may lead and discussions about closer integration were pitched against loss of true national identity, political control and power.  Europe was always seen as somewhere else despite ever closer ties, shared values, integration and the geographical physical closeness.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere

Whilst all the above is happening there is a rest of the world and the Brexit story is linked to this as well.

Just like Europe the rest of the world had been benefiting from better ties between nations through improved communications technology.  A new dawn of international understanding and cooperation is sweeping the globe and through shared information and values we can all now have a deeper and more comprehensive understanding and appreciation of each other’s cultural differences.

Genocides, greed and corruption are no longer globally tolerated and thankfully no longer buried within local knowledge.  Poverty, climate change, population expansion and hunger are common shared concerns which are being tackled on a world-wide basis.

But there are a few areas and conflicts that remain a concern to world stability and in some cases religious intolerance is preventing full neighbourly acceptance.

These modern war zones have displaced citizens who migrate to safety elsewhere.  Mostly to their geographical neighbourhood but sometimes further afield and in general Western European democracies have tried to assist by offering shelter to those that most need it.

This assistance has partly inspired economic migrants as well who see opportunities abroad to better their own lifestyles and those of their families and the migration is often heralded by young male members of families, strong and determined enough to suffer the long, dangerous and arduous journey.

In fact in 2015 German Chancellor Angela Merkel positively encouraged such migration with a call out for a million new refugees to bolster the younger demographic of her country, in part to support an ageing population, a common issue for developed western cultures.

Repercussions of all of the above meant that many people around the Middle East and North Africa decided that it was time to migrate to a wealthier life.

And amongst these souls were a handful of ne’er-do-wells, often fresh from a losing conflict intent on bringing terrorism direct into the heart of their perceived foes.

And just for good measure all this happened at a time of global recession.

Farage The Architect

In many western democracies the success of liberal centrist parties was being questioned.

Although apparently modern and inclusive the soft approach failed to meet the full needs of all within the constraints of a free market, capitalist society.

This meant the gap between the rich and the poor was growing ever wider with seemingly little control.

Furthermore the valued concept of free speech was being questioned at a time when more and more rights were being bestowed on ever specific minorities, often to prevent perceived if not actual discrimination.

Plus due to increased racial integration some communities began to look physically different from the photographs and memories of older generations.  It sometimes looked as if some places in the UK even appeared to be excluding traditionally native Britons even though those accused were often multi-generational British.

To counter this a new wave of right of centre political parties emerged here and was mirrored across many other countries.

Many were radical and borderline offensive but some were just highly patriotic dreamers and in the UK this was best embodied in the United Kingdom Independence Party, or UKIP, under their charismatic leader Nigel Farage.

UKIP wanted a return to unspecified, classic, British traditional values by putting restrictions on immigration to allegedly bolster wages, particularly in the lowest paid, along with reducing unemployment.  Alongside a return to full UK sovereignty with complete independence from Europe.  And the message resonated well with many, particularly with those who would traditionally be Conservative Party voters.

The incumbent Conservative political party, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, had for a long time suffered from split opinions over Europe and many previous leaders before him had fallen foul of such disagreements.

The rise of Farage’s UKIP threatened to further split the party rendering it potentially vulnerable to a dormant and previously ineffective opposition in Labour with a part popular, new, radical left wing leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

So David Cameron decided it was time to bury the European debate once and for all by offering the country a referendum on our European membership.  Presumably figuring that it was a simple case of demonstrating how dumb it was to split from a successful and strong long standing political and trading arrangement.  And to teach the pesky Farage and his cohorts a lesson.

All these political machinations were played out and analysed on news and political shows but rarely strayed far beyond these specialist programmes so the general populace continued their contented ignorance of such matters.

Reasoned Vote

Despite much general apathy on political matters beforehand Cameron called a national referendum on the subject to be held on 23 June 2016, which due to the rarity of such events spiked some interest outside of those normally following political and economic news stories and as a result Brexit became a thing.

Posing a referendum question is fraught with complications.  The question has to be simple to understand and present an opportunity for a simple answer.  This dumbing down of complex issues can summarise but can also smear an otherwise complex issue.

The question put was simply:

‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’

No further explanation was offered.

A few points here.  Firstly, one has to question, were all the participants able to understand the complex decision?  Even two years of fierce debate later by every conceivable specialist very little agreement can be made between those seeing the same situation in differing lights.

Secondly, the question could be considered flawed as the only options were to leave the Union or the Status Quo.  This implies a choice between a thrilling voyage of new discovery or more of the same old boring stuff.  If, for any reason anyone has any disillusion about any matter even remotely associated with the subject they may believe change is the better course.  And a third option of closer integration, with full and complete EU membership, which may offer some people similar excitement was not included.

Thirdly, no limits were set on interpretation of the vote.  One side could effectively ‘win’ with just a single vote differential.  No statistical significance would be considered, for instance requiring a two thirds majority to trigger change or to claim the result as inconclusive if there was less than a 2-3% margin.

Voting Reasons

Many commentators claim to know why people voted one way or another but considered voices should conclude that there were several possible reasons people made their choice. For clarity I think these can be broken down into four broad categories.

Constitution
Legal
Independence
Power
Security [From terrorism]

Political
Anti-Government
Change
Distrust
Message clarity
Recession
Subversion

Xenophobia
Degradation
Immigration
Pride
Racism
Societal shifting

Other
Desire for change
Fear of change
Intrigue
Cost
Uneuropean

Let’s explore these in more detail.

Constitution

For many the loss of constitutional power to the EU from the UK was a paramount factor in their decision making.  Many stories had emerged where UK High Court judgements were subsequently overturned by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Judgements such as the 12 year dispute between the UK and EU Court of Human Rights regarding the rights of voting for prisoners.

Many believe the UK should be able to decide who in the UK can vote.

This is essentially an independence issue, which is why UKIP were so named.

The loss of the highest supreme court is seen as a loss of power, particularly if one dismisses the actual nature of being in a shared union whilst being a key member of it.

The security issue is a concern because without European membership the UK could control their own immigration and this can be perceived as a safer way of keeping baddies out in the first place.  However this argument never considers the proportion of internal ‘home grown’ risk compared to external sources.  In truth security is nearly always improved with a closer union with others.

Political

Almost certainly some voted based on political assumptions.  Rarely, nowadays, do you hear political commentators mentioning the attempts to overthrow the government by removing the incumbent Prime Minister.  However, whenever a national question is posed and defended in one particular way by the PM some sections of the community look beyond logical reasons and use the vote to make a protest against whatever it is that the PM is advocating.

This attitude was not helped because the opposition Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who seemed at best indifferent on the subject of continued membership of the EU, point blank refused to share a platform with Cameron nudging it more toward being a party political issue.  This was a key decision as Corbyn’s fanatical following were vociferous and determined to share their views on various influential Social Media platforms.

So, some votes were probably cast based on anti-government consideration, subversion or wanting a change of political control.

It should be remembered that the majority of campaigners within the government and opposition wanted to stay part of the union so it appeared that our appointed parliamentarians were at odds with the general population.  This enhanced further distrust of the political establishment.

Here we have to also consider the effect of the overwhelming number of skilled commentators who passionately pleaded with the public to not make a backwards leap into a modern untested break with Europe.  Politicians of all parties, economic experts, business leaders and political commentators lined up to suggest Brexit would be a bad thing for the economy, trade, security, employment and the standing of the UK.

Despite all this, or more probably because of this, there was a growing groundswell of thought that maybe the ‘establishment’ were just pleading to maintain the status quo because this helped a perceived subjugation of the people.  Why were they so passionate?  Ergo they had something to hide.

The disorganised Brexiteers, in contrast, may have been a rag tag mix of different party politicians appearing under different group names but they had key media savvy names in Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

Conservatives particularly appeared to be arguing on both sides with Gove and Johnson emerging to become key Brexiteers, primarily I believe to avoid Farage becoming a main player.  Because if that had happened and the general population chose to leave the Union all Brexiteer politicians could have to have fallen under the control of Mr Farage who could then potentially have a legitimate claim to be the next Prime Minister.  Admittedly a large leap of circumstances considering he isn’t even a Member of Parliament.

And between all the Brexiteers they conveyed simple messages such as ‘Take Back Control’, the infamous bus plastered with a future £350m saving for our use on the NHS and posters of queues of apparently foreign nationals which attempted to suggest our country was soon to be dealing with an unlimited number of incomers.

Whilst we are here let’s be clear that the £350m per week saving ‘bus’ message was not presented without context, despite the way some current media outlets portray this.  There were contemporaneous discussions with Boris Johnson explaining the figure was actually a gross number and was subject to deductions for return spend to the UK but nevertheless the message was that free of the EU the UK could choose how to spend their money themselves and the NHS was a prime example of a choice that could be made.

Despite this in many subsequent debates about the ‘bus logo’ the media allowed persistent incorrect reporting that the ‘leave’ campaigners disingenuously splashed a misleading exaggerated figure without thought.  Yes it was provocatively chosen but that’s their prerogative.  And whilst we are at it, it was nothing to do with Nigel Farage even though he was often associated with the idea and as a result personally suffered a loss of trust because of the claim.

Add all this to the fact that parliamentarians in some quarters were seen as perpetrators of the [actually global] recession or at least contributing to the continuation of it.

Xenophobia

Immigration concerns had been around for decades.  Older people particularly had fond childhood memories of their home towns and villages populated by people that looked just the same as they did.  Their own memories were backed by photographic and film evidence and the changed look of modern society implied an altered environment.  Particularly when entire communities and schools were being depicted clearly demonstrating a differing skin tone or maybe dress sense with traditionally white faces a minority.

However, instead of choosing to embrace such diversity many saw this as an erosion of purity, a degradation, with attendant lessening of pride.  Plus closer unions and communication with near and far neighbours who usually spoke in a different tongue indicated a future continuation of societal shifting.  This despite the fact that proportionally the overwhelming majority of UK citizens are still predominantly unchanged.

Another key factor was the fact that during the prelude to the referendum the weather and circumstances favoured sea crossing for migrants into Southern Europe.  The media relished the dramatic images of survival or loss with equal glee along with colourful images implying a greater mass transit than was actually occurring.  And it was thought that if they could come from south west Europe and be welcomed then will the next contingent come from further afield?

To really drive home this issue the public could recall a recent heart wrenching personal story with pictures of a 3 year old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdî, on 2 September 2015.  He had drowned and washed ashore but looked less like a foreign migrant and more like a typical little boy.  The memorable photos showed he was tenderly carried up the beach by a local, captured on film by Turkish journalist Nilüfer Demir.  Sympathy appeared almost universal for this little child and to his family but didn’t quite extend fully to others who risked similar fates.  In some ways the public seemed to desire less migration just so they were saved the discomfort of facing the reality of actual humanity.

Finally, racism may be a strong term with many unpleasant overtones but the inability of our language to separate true unfair and spiteful racism from misjudged xenophobia and also from a desire to maintain tradition and from genuine heartfelt concerns can lead to deep division.  Certainly deep enough to affect a key referendum on foreign union.

Other

Another reason to vote one way or another is a simple desire for change, albeit to clutch desperately onto a notion of optimism, or perhaps to seek alternatives due to boredom or maybe even just to see what happens.  Undoubtedly, the whole process can be seen as fascinating or intriguing as well as frightening.

Some may have had concerns over the costs or benefits from either remaining or leaving.  Here experts lined up to give assurances or perhaps cast doubt about how much it will all cost.  And it may be fair to consider at this point that Nigel Farage did accept that there may be a cost to the economy following a Brexit but on further interrogation claimed it was a price worth paying.

Add to this many flippant but entertaining tabloid stories of European rules which allegedly forced alterations to commonly known foodstuffs such as requirements about the curvature of fruit made many see the idea of further integration with Europe as bananas.

The EU has rarely benefitted from positive information. Our lazy media, quick to exploit and simplify a story, has tended to concentrate on bearing bad news.  This attitude is amplified further by amateur commentators on Social Media platforms.

Stories such as criticising the cost of the EU administration without considering that some of that money is used to employ UK nationals.

Or to be generally silent on the excellent work that has been achieved in political cooperation, improving our food and manufacturing standards, standardising products to enable simpler market access to a much wider audience and security cooperation to make us all safer.

Remember the UK is/was/has been [depends on when you read this] a member state and has/had votes and about 10% of the MEPs

And finally but quite importantly a large majority of UK citizens just don’t really see themselves as European at all, except maybe geographically.

The Verdict

The referendum result came in and shocked many political commentators and news outlets as the leave campaigners were generally expected to win.

From the 46.5m eligible to vote there was a high turnout of over 72%.

Of these 33.5m people just under 17.5m voted to leave the EU and just over 16m voted to remain.  A percentage split of 52% leave to 48% remain.

It can be read that if just 634,751 voted differently the result would have changed. In percentage terms this is just under 1.4% of the electorate.

Region splits showed differing breakdowns and these will be discussed later but in general England and Wales voted to leave and Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted to stay.

In England, a split became apparent between populous metropolitan areas who favoured remaining whilst other areas wanted to leave. Other studies pointed to a variation in voting amongst the older and younger generations with a tendency to prefer a leave option the older one became.

The results sent a shock wave through the political community, with the result catching many unaware. Those who had campaigned to remain were surprised that their message had not been more adhered to and those that wanted to leave appeared to be even more shocked at their victory.  In fact in early discussions soon after the result showed that the leave campaign were a long way from even having properly thought through the dramatic implications.

Political Fallout

The result particularly shocked the political establishment with an almost instant resignation of the Prime Minister.  Cameron had led the campaign to remain but in failure decided he could not reasonably lead the nation in another direction.  Many have criticised this decision but it was an honest and reasonable one in the circumstances.

As a result political chaos broke out with a Tory party leadership election called on 9 September 2016.  It wouldn’t take this time because expected front runners dropped out for various reasons.  Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, was too close to Cameron and the remain campaign so was the first to be discounted.  Boris Johnson was the next major player to dissolve when his former ‘Vote Leave’ colleague Michael Gove publicly stated Johnson could not lead the team.  However Gove himself got voted out of the election after passing two ballots but being eliminated during the members’ vote stage.

This left Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May.  However, an inappropriate comment on motherhood in The Times forced her to withdraw leaving the leadership open to the now unopposed, new, Prime Minister Theresa May who took office on 13 July 2016.

Brexwhat?

But what exactly is Brexit?

Early on many asked what does Brexit mean? Theresa May famously said “Brexit means Brexit”.  Most understood what she meant even if they found it hard to articulate but some were confused.

Unfortunately we haven’t the language to respond effectively.  However before being too critical consider whether it is possible to describe what remaining in the EU looks like.  Remain means remain.

So, what should Brexit mean?

The basics should be:

The UK should have ultimate legal jurisdiction over its subjects, citizens and visitors

The UK decides who can live or be here in the UK

The UK decides the currency used here

The UK decides who it can trade with

The UK decides which standards should be applied in food, health and business

The 50th Article

The first formal act to set off the Brexit process is to lodge a formal document of intent to leave with the EU, specifically Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.  This was issued by the Prime Minister on 29 March 2017.  It was the first time a sovereign member state had issued such a document.

The Article states that the withdrawing state ends its obligations with Europe two years after the issuing of the document, unless the European Council agrees to an extension.  This set the actual leaving date to be set in stone at 29 March 2019.  Unless the European Council agrees to an extension.

Two years to negotiate the terms of withdrawal.  Two years to untangle all the legal documentation formed and agreed over 40 years of close cooperation.  Two years to set up new replacement UK legal documentation.  Two years for international businesses to make the necessary adjustments . Two years of uncertainty whilst all the above is enacted.

It was clearly a lot to do and at the time many commentated that the UK lacked the required number of skilled negotiators compared to the EU and did not have enough to do all the work in time, although I never saw any indication of recruitment of an army of people to do this.

Very little discussion was held after the initial issue of Article 50 about the potential extension of time allowed?  This focussed negotiations and could be considered as a good thing as one of the biggest issues raised since has been the uncertainty and a delay to the exit date would just prolong such uncertainty.

Two years to do all this and the EU were not really able to commence their side of negotiations until the French and German political elections were completed.  This meant that meaningful negotiations didn’t start until June 2017.  However, just one thing seemed to be on the EU’s agenda before that date…

Money

In a previous section above entitled ‘The Vote’ you may have noticed a major omission in the lists and that is the issue of the ‘divorce bill’.

If you have read this article so far you could have rightly assumed that I had an above average interest in this whole subject.  As a result I watched much of the pre-referendum debate and analysis so consider myself to have been as reasonably informed as any non professional in the matters at hand but not once, in all the political programmes, news reports or social media tidbits did I hear anything about having to pay a lump sum to Europe as compensation for leaving.

But it was the first thing that the European negotiating team jumped on.  Almost selfishly insisting that unless a substantial sum was agreed to be paid in compensation then all negotiations would stall.  This effectively reduced the remaining time to negotiate the far more complex trade and legal issues substantially.

This ‘divorce bill’ as it became known, now seems actually based on logical fairness even if the initial estimates demanded by the EU were excessively greedy, up to over €100m [£88bn], partly to discourage other member states from following the UK’s lead and seeking their own ‘Brexit’.

The sum, which currently stands at an estimated £39bn, is designed to cover current UK agreements and obligations up to the end of 2020.  It includes such requirements as UK citizen pension liabilities.  It excludes any liabilities during the withdrawal procedure up to 29 March 2019, which remain unchanged from previous years agreements as if the UK had never issued Article 50.  So no sign of that ‘£350m/week’ yet.

Plus the final sum will not be finally agreed until the UK Parliament approves the whole withdrawal agreement.  Currently forecast as the month of sometiuary in the year 20andSomethingBig.

Negotiations

Negotiations seemed to have followed a pattern since.  With much reporting of what the UK should offer and compromise on then the EU curtly dismissing things and asking the UK to come up with some fresh ideas.

This reflects badly on the EU negotiating team and therefore appears less like a joint negotiation and more like a series of pleas.

Even on the subject of foreign nationals within each area, the UK have promised reasonable stability to those already here but the EU have made no such parallel promises to UK citizens in the EU.

Theresa May and her team must take responsibility for allowing the EU to take such a stance, which is partially caused because the major negotiation factor for the UK was the valuation of the divorce bill as currently the UK are such a generous funder of the EU.  When the UK allowed the EU to railroad this issue before any other was discussed it lost control of the talks and have been on the back foot since.

However I do applaud one aspect of the negotiation and that is the agreement on all the entangled legal documents which were trailed as a major factor.  Most had envisaged long tough meetings taking all of the time and considerable resources.  But one smart arse came up with the fantastic idea of The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.  A brilliantly simple piece of legislation which singlehandedly extracts ourselves from many listed previous European legislations and replaces them with what accounts to ‘We still abide by each and every one until we can be bothered to rewrite them to exclude the French etc.’

However, as it has all been hastily compiled and at present most new legislation is far from complete would it be a good idea if we put together a legal footing to ensure no one can benefit from any unconverted EU to UK legislation?

Regions

Scotland

Scotland has a troubled relationship with the rest of the UK.  For centuries there were disputes between the English and Scottish but the Union was formed in 1707 after King James 6 of Scotland inherited England and Ireland, becoming James 1 of England.  Although more than 300 years has since passed many Scottish people still feel too isolated from England to feel part of the same team.

Other than history this could be due to geographic distance, separation of regional and national identities, not sharing identical monies and quite importantly the separation of nationality for sports events.  For example during the Olympics both the Scottish and English are team mates competing under one flag but in the far more important sports of football and rugby the teams are competitors.

Scotland, although occupying a third of the UK land mass has much less than 10% of the population probably due to having nine tenths of the weather.  Therefore if they feel separate then thoughts could harbour feelings of inferiority to their larger neighbour and this is often manifested in what is said north of the border.  I have heard many Scots claiming to dislike or even hate the English, even whilst resident in England, but cannot recall any time hearing such sentiment about the Scottish within England.  The sentiment of many Englishfolk is confusion and sadness on why Scotland wishes such independence.

In 1997 Scottish nationalism secured under a referendum an independent Scottish Parliament which perpetuated a perception that the UK government did not have the needs of the Scottish people in their heart, equal to the rest.  And since then Scottish nationalism has further grown in popularity, particularly under the skilled leadership of the charismatic leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon.

For a few years now the SNP has run a strong, supported campaign for Scotland to become a fully independent nation.

Although when put to the test in a referendum in September 2014 the majority voted against a split from the UK.

In the Brexit referendum the majority also expressed a wish to remain in the EU.  Although these particular voters may not necessarily be the same people of course.

The average Scot therefore appears to like the Status Quo and likes being part of a strong SNP, despite the SNP reasoning that a Brexit may be the impetus to reignite the desire for an independence split from the UK.  Ironically to join another union with the EU.  The people’s at odds with the politicians, just like south of the border.

It’s all very confusing. Unless you compare things to Northern Ireland.

Personally whether we Brexit, remain or fly off to Mars I would hope the Scottish remain part of the UK.  Hey guys, why keep speaking as if not part of the Union, our Union?  And please media and commentators stop elucidating as if this was the case.

Wales

The majority of Welsh people voted to leave the EU.  In this respect the Welsh are just like the English outside of big metropolitan areas.  Which is a way of describing the majority of Wales anyway.

Although, like Scotland, the Welsh have their own devolved parliament and similar potential reasons for feeling subjugated in comparison to the English.  However the people there do not harbour such thoughts.  Wales, unique, in language and tradition still clearly accept membership of the same team . Nationally speaking, not sporting of course.

Northern Ireland

Despite the sounding off of some commentators the peculiar circumstances relating to any impact Brexit would have on Northern Ireland was mentioned before the vote.  Many forecasted the issues that this most unique part of the UK would face.

Geographically it is the only part that shares a substantial border with another member state of the EU.  And this adjacency has caused issues since its inception in 1921 and the people’s either side of the border have been unable to contain their strong opposing opinions for as long as anyone can remember.

In particular the 1970s were a recently memorable period when such opposing views were highlighted in a period of extreme violence.

In essence the island of Ireland, naturally geologically a single entity, is mostly taken up by Ireland but the north-east corner is part of the UK.  Some from Northern Ireland believe Ireland should be reunited as one but more want to remain British.  Unsurprisingly religious difference underlies these two opposing factions which never seems to calm down a stressful situation.

Despite this turbulent history since 1998 and the signatories to the Good Friday Agreement the island seemed to have come to a sensible peace so trade, community and communications have blossomed meaning the underlying differences are now recognised and debated in an a mature manner.

Then Brexit and with it the potential opening of old concerns about segregation.  No one appeared to want a return to the days of solid borders so the majority of the Northern Irish people voted to remain in the EU.

For about a year the peculiar difficulties surrounding Northern Ireland and Brexit were barely mentioned but intensity increased in the later months and suddenly media and commentators started bleating on about how no one had foreseen the problems and nothing had been mentioned.  This is patently not true and an insult to those in Northern Ireland who had obviously considered their own predicament from the outset.

My main point here is that neither Ireland nor Northern Ireland should fear a Brexit because if it is the will of the people to not have a physical border then just don’t have one by policing any trade border and discouraging any who seek to flout the situation.

Gibraltar

Northern Ireland hasn’t the only joint UK/EU border.  Gibraltar shares a strip of land with Spain and historically Spain are not happy about this.  Not only thinking they should have the strip but also the rest of the island as well.  Gibraltarians disagree as they remain firm members of the UK.

This upsets the Spanish because they want the natural resources associated with the land and surrounding waters along with the strategic location at the pinch point between Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean Sea.

And just like I mentioned about border issues with Ireland, Gibraltar was mentioned before the vote so please desist in commentating that this was never discussed before.

The Territory voted overwhelmingly in favour of remaining, as could have been expected from a community attached to mainland Europe where most residents are English/Spanish bilingual.

January 2019

This story has yet to be played out.  At the time of writing there are about two and a half months before the exit date.  It could be extended but at present most are working toward avoiding that.

Parliament is at odds with the Government and with itself.  Not really knowing which way to go.

An unpopular Brexit Deal made with Europe and yet to be voted on by Parliament looks like a fudge.  With all the sugar removed.  It fails to address anyones actual requirements and is highly compromised.  Such a deal could always have been foreseen as a compromise.  That is how negotiations work but the deal seems to offer Brexit but with key features requiring continued close cooperation and the subsequent stifling of state limits.  Or as many Brexiteers may put it.  Not actually Brexit.

It is furthermore tied in with something called a ‘back stop’.  An ugly, undemonstrative term which basically means if we continue to fail to address the Irish issue Northern Ireland only will stay part of the EU, possibly ad infinitum.  The Northern Irish are rightly not happy about this and quietly neither are the rest of us as it seems Brexit is held hostage to the needs of just a few.

Other subjects confusing the issue are the ideas of further referendum and calling a General Election.

The problem with going for a further referendum on the subject is a tacit admission of failure by the politicians to have acted on the result of the last one.  Is the New Referendum Question to be?:

‘The UK Government, who have struggled to get a consensus agreement on how to leave the EU despite being highly knowledgeable on the subject ask you, the people, who consistently claim to have not been informed despite much opportunity to be so, to advise how we should now act even though you do not have the opportunity to discuss this with the EU yourselves like we have during the past two years and have failed to get a good agreement on anything, much like you do when gathered together amongst yourselves in any case.  Vote now.’

A new referendum would delay the process, upset many who thought that their clear simple views had already been ordained and it may all end up in more turmoil.

I believe the act of wanting another referendum has two purposes.  To delay the inevitable and to attempt to overturn the public vote.

If politicians want to defy the public why don’t they do their job which is to be better informed and know more than we do on such subjects.  So tell us we were misinformed and voted incorrectly, keep us in the EU, apologise for the whole messy state of things and then all resign as a matter of integrity.  They won’t do this of course because too many are selfish and reliant on their careers.  This is harsh but I have not heard one single politician express such a radical view.

Labour has adopted a ‘nothing to do with us attitude’.  Criticising where they can gain political oneupmanship and avoid giving clear guidance as much as possible.  This could be an inspired tactic.  Let the Tories mess up the whole shebang and glide in afterwards to sort it all out.  The problem is that this attitude is difficult to maintain over a long period of constant debate.

As a result Labour calls for a General Election have increased in recent weeks.  However, as the prospect of having to do the Brexit themselves is not desired Labour are actually cunningly both calling for an immediate election but conversely prefacing it with all sorts of conditions to smear the message.

The main thing Labour realise that right now a General Election would really serve little good at all.  What would people be voting on?  Yes many may switch away from the Conservative Party as a signal to demonstrate their anger at the inefficiencies so far but just as many would revolt against other party representatives because right now the population are losing faith with established political incumbents.

Possibly there may be a large exodus to independent candidates, who have no party baggage.  We could end up with a new Government of unknown history, picked from local celebrities and snake oil salespeople. All led by Nigel Farage. Now, that would be interesting.  And tragic.

Unaddressed

If we Brexit, and it all goes bad who will the masses blame?  The political establishment?  The media?  Each other?  Or the EU?  If the EU are perceived as causing a poor deal Brexit will the UK population stop using European products?  Is even more, unimagined fiscal turmoil to be expected?

And if we crash out of Europe with a hard Brexit and no deal will the UK be sued by the European Parliament?  Could the UK be sued for any minor matter relating to trade, security, unexpected contingencies etc.?

And finally, for now, after Brexit are we all going to have to start thinking about what happens next?  After all nearly half of the population didn’t want to change so are these people waiting patiently to let Brexit occur and immediately start a call for Brentrance?

The story will continue.  Watch this space.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Political section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 14 Jan 2019

Remastered

Yes, I’m calling it.  I have now completed the remastering of my web site.  The foundations of version 5 are done.

It’s taken some major commitment from me over the past 15 months and I’ve managed it all in less time than a Brexit.

From now on it will be all new content never before seen on any previous versions of the site.

Yes, I will still need to spend a little time finally tweaking some pages and entries but perfection always needs a bit of polish so that’s just an ongoing chore.

So, tell your friends, inform your colleagues and update your associates vinceunlimited is in business.  The future can begin.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Web section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 11 Dec 2018

Redacted

You may have noticed that I have not been posting much on this blog lately.  Don’t panic my typing finger hasn’t dropped off.  It’s just that I am continuing with the time consuming update of my web site, page by page on a near daily basis and I have reached 2014, the date that I started my WordPress blog.

Obviously there is no point in recreating these ancient WordPress blogs back onto this site as they already reside here, albeit from many moons back.  However I was using other forms of communication at the time, such as FaceBook and this is one post that I only shared on my FB site [albeit availably publicly at the time] and can share with you all now.

A FaceBook status update originally posted on 8 Nov 2014

Redacted

Hi guys, I’ve been lax in my post updates lately.  I really ought to let you all know what I’ve been up to lately.  Hopefully this post will get you all up to speed.

Just one note before I start though.  I hope you don’t mind but I’ve had to redact some of the more personal data as I don’t want FaceBook to have too much personal information on record.

Firstly work.  I used to [redacted] but just recently, in fact just [redacted] years ago I decided to have a change and now I [redacted].

I am really enjoying doing this partly because I get to [redacted].

On a personal basis I’m still with [redacted] despite [redacted] and the incident with the large mole.

Health wise my doctor said my enormous [redacted] even though I use the cream daily.

I had a falling out with [redacted] so don’t expect a Christmas Card this year.  But at least I made a new friend when the [redacted] [redacted].

Now for the most important bit.  I had a great bit of fortune recently on the [redacted] and won nearly [redacted].  I am going to share this all with my FaceBook friends.  All you need to do is turn up at [redacted] on the [redacted] at [redacted] o’clock.  All those that read my messages will now know this and be able to share in this.  So see you on the [redacted].

Bye for now.

And remember if you don’t share this post you will [redacted].

Author: Vince [Redacted]
From the Social Media section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 5 Nov 2018
First published as a FaceBook status update on 8 Nov 2014

Wishes

A FaceBook status update originally posted on 24 May 2014

Wishes

Please pass on this message to get four wishes just for sharing.

If you SHARE today you get granted four special wishes.

If you LIKE this post you will receive a special bonus wish.  Your wishes will come true within a week.

If you don’t pass this message on you will turn into a goat.

Terms and conditions: The author of this post cannot guarantee you will receive four wishes, or indeed any number up to the arbitrary value of four that is mentioned.  To be honest it’s unlikely you will get any.  And it will make pigging all difference whether you like or share.  The author is only looking for cheap link bait from gullible people.  Although the timescales indicate you should act quickly you will get the same effect whether you do this now or twenty years in the future.  In other words, fuddle all.  It’s just a proven fact that if you think you can ignore something at the moment you are unlikely to return again.  And it’s only suggested that something may happen in a week because loads of things happen in your week so there’s a fair chance that you may find association where there wasn’t any in the first place.  If, in the unlikely event that you do make a wish and it comes true do you really think that reading, liking or sharing some bit of make believe nonsense had any effect on it?  Really?  Do you?  And, seriously, do you think the mild threat is really going to turn you into a goat?  Unless you are a goat foetus this is a highly improbable outcome so ignore this mild threat.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Social Media section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 2 Oct 2018
First published as a FaceBook status update on 24 May 2014

Dear FaceBook

A FaceBook status update originally posted on 18 May 2014 showing a growing discontent about the way the site was working for me.

Dear FaceBook,

I don’t know if you remember me.  It’s been a while so I hope you don’t mind me writing to you out of the blue like this.

You may recall we used to be together when we were much younger.  We were dreamers then.  Me with my life and you with your incessant thirst for knowledge.  We shared good times.  We exchanged ideas, thoughts and sometimes the odd laugh.

But we grew apart.  I heard rumours that you would spread our little secrets to all and sundry, no matter how many times I’d ask you not to.  And you did have a nasty habit of constantly asking to play that awful FarmVille all the time.

So we stopped seeing each other.  I moved on, particularly with my new best friend, Twitter.  But I always kept you in my thoughts, observing you from afar.

Thankfully your FarmVille obsession seems to have rescinded, although sadly replaced by the frankly much worse Candy Crush Saga.  How disappointing you are.

Despite this I think we can be friends again, even though I know deep in my heart you will still splash our private thoughts all around the place even if I continue to ask you not to.  I’ll just have to watch what I say.  A technique I have learned from seeing how others patently do the opposite.

However, I am wiling to give us a go again.  No promises.  You know me.  But let’s hang out again.  Although not with that Google crowd, I’m not that weird.

I’ll probably start slow.  Maybe the odd comment on our shared timelines.  In time I may post some proper updates.  Maybe even the occasional photograph.  We’ll see.

I think this will work, providing you stop asking me where I work, the school I attended more than three decades ago and what my inside leg measurement is.  Some secrets a man must keep to himself.  And some a man should just share with his old mate FriendsReunited.

And whilst we’re at it stop suggesting I might know a load of people who clearly look like a frightful bunch of potential petty criminals.  Yes I admit I may have shared my past with some of them but the fact that I have had little to do with them in the past forty odd years must tell you something.

And whilst we are on the new rules, don’t start trying to find out where I go all the time.  I don’t share that sort of stuff with anyone.  Except my friend FourSquare that is.

Despite all this I’m up for giving it another go.

Your old friend, Vince

P.S. Don’t tell MySpace.  I’m not reigniting that flame and he’s already sad enough, it could tip him over the edge.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Social Media section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 1 Oct 2018
First published as a FaceBook status update on 18 May 2014

Ingreedyents

From the vinceunlimited Blog dated 16 Mar 2011

I have to read things.  It’s part of my make up, who I am.  I am curious and love gathering knowledge.  And a great source of detailed information is plastered all over our products and the most enlightening and interesting is the ingredients list on seemingly simple products.  I’ll give an example just to see if you can guess the product before the end reveal.

The first ingredient listed is always the largest component and in this particular case is Aqua.  Now if you were paying attention in double Latin you will know that this comes from the old English word meaning Akker, short for Acker Bilk a clarinetist who became famous for being the only clarinetist anyone could name.  The Akker term was used to describe the spittle and dribble emanating from the business end of his instrument.  Later this ‘Akker’ became Aqua during the Latinisation of old English words during the 1950’s when certain Oxbridge elements wanted to seem more clever than the general populous.  In other words Aqua just means water and no one except Stephen Fry can understand why they just don’t say that.

The second most common element is a compound, which is really two elements so by combining have jumped up the list unfairly.  This compound is Sodium Chloride.  As any chemistry student knows this is actually just salt so why the pretentious ingredient listers bother with fourteen letters and a space when four will do can only lead one to suspect that they are in it up to their necks with the Ink Printing Association and frankly the Government should look into this rather than wasting all that time on the Hutton Enquiry.

Coming in in third place is the second Sodium collaboration, this time with Benzoate.  Why Sodium wants a second billing is as strange as the word ‘in’ wanting a second billing at the head of this paragraph [I bet you five pounds you had to check].  What is even stranger is that Benzoate is a common misspelling of the term Benz 08, the eighth car produced by Mercedes.  We all know that Sodium and old cars don’t really mix so this ingredient actually just refers to rust.  Or as the aforementioned Ink Printers & Affiliates Association would put it Ferrous Oxide.

The next listed ingredient is Polysorbate 20.  Clearly the manufacturers of this product had to undergo years of testing just to establish that Polysorbate 20 was clearly better/cheaper/more environmentally friendly [delete as appropriate] than Polysorbate 19 or any other number less or indeed more than this.  For the technically minded amongst you you may like to know that Polysorbate 1 is the amount of liquid you can mop up using a single Standard Unit parrot.

Next up is the old familiar Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate or SLGC for short.  Again Sodium has chosen to get in a mix with other products rather than stand out on it’s own.  In fact if it did it would probably rate above Aqua so one must conclude that Sodium is inherently shy.  In this case hiding amongst Lauryl, Glucose and Carboxylate, an unknown comedy trio who’s fortunes turned around when Carboxylate left them to join another team.  Lauryl and Glucose re-branded themselves Laurel and Hardy and Carbo, as he became known, joined the other Marx Brothers.

The next listed ingredient is Malic Acid.  This is obtained from the Hollywood actor Art Malik so is very expensive.  It is a well kept industry secret that after his work on ‘The Jewel In The Crown’ and ‘A Passage To India’ he was ground down using a large Mortar and Pestle for use in various products and his appearance in True Lies was actually done by Ronnie Corbett on a pair of stilts with some clever post production work and Ronni Ancona’s voice-over.

Next up, according to the list is Lauryl Glucoside.  But I think this is just a lie because I had a very close look using a quite big magnifying glass and I couldn’t see any.

Nearing the end now and we come across Parfum.  Now many think this is just a smug way of saying perfume intimating this to be a pleasant thing.  Again this fallacy must be redressed and if broken down into it’s constituent parts of Parf and Um you will see it’s true meaning is a fart.

The next ingredient is the most difficult to explain.  Not because it is a complex compound it’s just so darned difficult to spell.  It’s the trips off the tongue, old familiar, we all know it as Methylisothiazolinone.  A long word that scientists use when they haven’t really got a clue what they found but without it the Ingredients Standards & Ink Printing Affiliates Association Incorporated will not sign off the packaging [Has that Hutton Enquiry finished yet?]

Third from last is Aloe Barbadensis Extract.  This is a passage from the Hawaiian novel ‘Hello Barber Dentist’.  A short story about a young girl who hooks up with a hairdresser who has a secret life as a doctor.  I believe the word for doctor and dentist is the same in Hawaiian which might seem odd but not as odd as the six-hundred and fourteen words they have for podiatrist.

The penultimate ingredient is Propylene Glycol.  As opposed to Impropylene Glycol.  Glycol is a fancy word for antifreeze and in this case is proper lean.  In other words weak antifreeze.

The final ingredient of this mysterious product is Tocopherol Acetate and let’s face it as it is the final ingredient it hardly features at all so is not really worth considering.  In fact given there are ten other more copious compounds one wonders whether the actual product would be substantially altered by it’s omission.  In fact let’s start a campaign here and now to reduce the number of products in our products by leaving out the least included.  Except in the case of salt of course which will otherwise just revert to Sodium, which as we have already established wants none of the attention.

So, have you guessed the product yet?  I’ll give you a reminder of what’s in it:- Sodium, Water, Salt [i.e. more Sodium], Rust, Slapstick, essence of Art Malik, a bit of fart, some paragraphs, a spot of weak antifreeze and a teenie bit of something not really needed.  Which all makes it much clearer than the arse-wipe list on the actual packet as insisted by the Ink Printers & Bankers Bonus Society Corporation Of America, Honduras & Affiliated Offshore Accounts PLC.

So would you eat this only good for flushing straight down the loo stuff?

I hope not because it’s actually a real arse-wipe list.  Check out the back of your next packet of bottie wipes and you’ll see what I mean.

Well what do you expect me to do whilst sat here waiting?  I have to read something.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 30 Aug 2018
If you want to hear me read this Blog post to you I adapted it for my sixteenth blog post, Pod 16 – Ingreedyents, posted in iTunes and here on my WordPress site dated 19 Nov 2014
First published within the Blog on 16 Mar 2011

Cucumber Campaign

From the vinceunlimited Blog dated 6 Feb 2011

At first all the cucumber aficionados reading this will be salivating at the thought that there is to be a Cucumber campaign.  No doubt the thought of selfless promotion of their favourite green cylindrical vegetable will drive them wild with excitement.  But this campaign is to reduce their use.  I hate the things and I am fed up with them turning up uninvited in my sandwich rolls.

For the last few years we have been constantly droned on at to eat more healthily and my relatively recent contribution is to engage full on with the salad world.  Well, when I say full on I don’t mean the whole banana.  I don’t relish radishes, crave cress or press for peppers but I have taught myself the art of enjoying a little bit of lettuce, providing it’s not masquerading as that rocket/garden weed nonsense.  And I have always liked tomato and egg so with a bit of proper food [i.e. meat] I can handle a salad sandwich from time to time.

The trouble is the purveyors of such delicatessen insist on chucking as much ingredients into their wares as possible and this usually includes an obligatory slice of Cucumis Sativus.  No doubt using two thin slices of this cheap creeping vine pod appeals to their sense of value but for me it’s strong flavour just stains the rest of the sandwich and puts me off purchase.  And don’t go telling me that they hardly taste of anything as they are 90% water because if that is the case don’t bother adding them in the first place.

My main issue is that nobody really likes these things.  My misses claims to like cucumber but not once have I seen her purchase one for snack consumption.  Despite the easy natural packaging no one eats a cucumber in the street, such as happens with apples and bananas for instance.

You may think why pick on the cucumber?  After all in a similar way the tomato is not universally appreciated yet this is added to salad rolls for presumably the same reason and people don’t eat them in the street.  The answer is in the design of the tomato.  It may have the same convenient outer packaging as a cucumber but it packs a surprise squish inside rendering it impossible to eat anywhere except leaning over a sink.  So totally unsuitable for street snacking.  And to reinforce the positives of a tomato it adds a new and exciting colour to a salad sandwich.  Cucumber’s just ape the green of the lettuce that’s already there.  Plus I like tomatoes.

So lets ditch the cucumber.  The most pointless addition to a sandwich ever.

Apart from sweetcorn of course.  That nasty little cancer gets everywhere.  Try buying a salad or pasta snack in your local supermarket and there it is.  Little yellow bits of stinking pus-pebbles ruining every dish and impossible to remove without tweezers and a sieve.  Tastes even stronger and twice as sickly than crappy cucumber.  And for some reason always added to otherwise delicious tuna offerings.  What is this stupid fish/corn-cob relationship based on?  As far as I know nothing in the natural world that David Attenborough has ever enlightened us about despite an almost obsessive annual BBC series on the subject.  I adore tuna.  Tuna is good for me.  Sweetcorn makes me puke.  Why stop at Tunacorn?  Why not just go the whole hog and pointlessly insist on adding dandelion leaves to every smoked salmon slice?

Or better still why not make things simpler?  Sandwiches, rolls, baps, tacos, submarines and pittas should only contain one ingredient.  An obvious main ingredient, such as the meat, or for those vaginatarians say an egg.  Then also on display at the same point should be the personal add ons, such as lettuce, tomato and [if you really insist] cucumber, sweetcorn and dandelion.  The user could add these extras at will and build a sarnie to their precise taste and health requirements.

Yes, I am aware that the Subway sandwich chain already take this approach but why not our local supermarket, corner shop or garage forecourt?

Lettuce start the Cucumber Campaign today.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Opinions section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 29 Aug 2018
First published within the Blog on 6 Feb 2011

A Dream Come True

A short story by Vince, written 1982

The heat from the ground rose defiantly, shimmering above the winding road, the distortions playing havoc with the clear cut edge of the tarmac strip.

A feint roar could be heard from the distant horizon.  The noise grew louder and louder, now heard well above the relentless chanting of the birds and insects.  A glint of light was caught in the distance and as the rumble drew closer it could be observed that a motorcyclist, resplendent in his white leather jacket, was riding his mount rapidly towards the ancient monument half a mile away.

As the rider rode faster into the foreground it could be observed that this was no ordinary day tripper.  The open megaphone type exhausts echoed a note reminiscent of track racers, the rapid acceleration shattered only by the tortuously hard braking for his next corner belayed an experienced street racer.  Each gear change was just a flick from his right boot just a fraction of momentum lost.  At every corner the hot black rubber of the tyres scrabbled for grip, the footrests causing sparks to be flown from the tarmac.  Then again the rider pulled upright rapidly towards the next bend in an ecstasy of speed and tormented delight.

This frantic moment of riding soon came to a close.  The rider having pulled out of a sweeping right hander screwed open the throttle, laid on the tank and watched the long straight unfurl in front of him.  The speedometer needle indicated seventy, eighty, …ninety passed as his right foot forced the next gear into operation.  The black chromed exhausts bleated out in beautiful harmony as one-hundred and ten showed.  Ton-twenty and the motor screamed for more, the airstream battling with the rider for control of the machine.

The needle peaked at one-hundred and twenty-five as the next bend loomed into the distance. Within a split second the rider’s right hand was gripping the brake lever.  The motion abruptly spoiled as the black calipers grabbed the shining twin front discs.  The front end dropped as the weight fell on the front wheel, the forks diving in pain as ninety, seventy, fifty passed.  Then a quick gear change and the bike cruised gently round the next bend.

Now that the riding was more sedate the details of man and machine could be seen.  The rider wearing his black crash helmet, bearing the mark of a Greek God painted delicately in gold, faded blue jeans and studded leather boots was haunched over a mainly black bike.

The heart of the bike, a mighty V-twin motor, thumped it’s power through a huge chain and was converted to power by a massive oversize rear tyre.  The front end, braced by two powerful looking forks, boasted a huge tyre, twin discs and rather unsubstantial but neat looking mudguard.  Above, the double headlights were gripped in a small nose fairing suggesting night racing but were taped over as it was a sunny afternoon.

Above the unburstable black motor lay a shiny, glimmering petrol tank.  As with the rest of the machine it was gloss black and only the golden letters broke the monotony.  The name reminiscent of by-gone days where the engine once ruled the roads, now emblazoned on the most beautiful bike in the world, read…VINCENT.

vincentconcept
The Vincent motorcycle concept I envisaged for this story in the early eighties.  The café racer is influenced by the Vincent Black Shadow, the Moto-Martin CBX and Ogri

Vince was proud of his bike.  Very proud.  He had read how customers spend hundreds of pounds and thousands of hours churning out visually appealing machines, only to be torn to pieces and then re-built in time for the next custom show.  Also, like it as not, they don’t run, or can’t because they have sixty-nine carat gold plate on the rear sprocket or something.

But Vince’s bike ran, and it ran well.  He remembered how his old CX500 used to bounce and weave along this, his favourite stretch of road.  Even the Suzuki GS750 seemed to wallow above eighty on these curves.  But his Vincent, that he was riding now, seemed to eat potholes and white lines as though it were stood still on a bowling green.  Most bikes seemed like a roller-coaster on speed compared to this machine.

And what a machine it was.  A speed machine, an accelerating machine, an enthusiast’s machine, a reliable machine…?  Vince pondered on this for a while as the shining black beauty purred slowly into town, the passers-by admiring the immaculate lines and enviously noticing the smug look of it’s pleased rider.  The reliability, he thought, was probably the machine’s weakest point, although this would probably be complimenting it’s other features.  The speed was electrifying, the finish superb, the handling perfect.  Even the fuel consumption was favourable compared to the modern multis.

In reality, Vince thought, nothing should go wrong with his bike.  After all he had built the engine and bike from scratch, so he knew it inside out.  He remembered how his grandfather had nearly thrown out the old engine.  Now neatly restored, painted black and brightly polished it looked like it had been brought just yesterday.  It’s one-thousand cc’s of sheer muscle seemed to ooze character as it fired it’s cylinders in turn after every second lamppost on the pavement.  Beautiful, Vince thought.

Up ahead were traffic lights.  They were about forty yards away by now and Vince knew that if he opened the throttle the black sensation would roar easily through before the red, even if the amber showed up now, but he was in no hurry.  Vince used to scream along at fifty or sixty in town on the Suzuki thinking he was a king, but on this machine he knew he was and therefore had no need to prove it.  He casually glanced down at the large Smiths speedo and read twenty-seven miles an hour.

Sure enough the lights turned red and Vince pulled up resting his front wheel just short of the white line.  The traffic system was a slow one so Vince knew he would be able to look around, revelling in the fame this bike seemed to bring him.  When he stopped in the street it was almost as if every male over the age of fifty had owned one when they were young.  So strange that there was only one other Vincent in the country now.

He noticed his reflection in the mirrored glass of a shop front, the bike’s weight resting gently on his left boot.  Vince placed his right foot down and raised his left, seeing his reflection as though he were riding.  He crouched low over the tank and smiled as he imagined Brands Hatch wind around in front of him, the chequered flag waving as he passed the finishing line well ahead of the competition.

Today however, the only competition was the buzzing RD250 that had pulled up right next to him.

The Yamaha was the usual two-fifty seen around suburban streets.  Vince himself had owned something similar when he had started motorcycling just a few years ago.  This model, being about two years old now, and obviously thrashed, was naturally tatty.  The scratches, twisted footrests and bent handlebar levers seemed to compliment the Vincent perfectly.

The rider too was the standard eighteen-year old Vince had been three years back, with his painted polycarbonate hat and Foster-Grants.  A wry smile told the message Vince was expecting.  The rider rocked backwards and forwards revving his engine and grinning widely.  This guy wanted a race.

Vince casually clicked the gear-lever into first and gave a quick blat of the motor to show the competition that he meant business.  The revolutions died down to it’s normal thumping tick-over as he held in the clutch and watched the ominous red light.

The Yam owner was now sweating.  He loved racing cars and bikes away from the lights and considered himself good at the ‘sport’.  After all he had only been beaten once and that was because he had missed a gear.  A criminal act in the unwritten law of street racing.  And today he was challenging no ordinary Escort.  This black monster next to him seemed to ooze power, even stood still.  His eyes locked onto the lights, only blinking to remove the sweat gathering on his eyelids.

Suddenly the red light was joined by the amber.  The Yamaha owner dropped his clutch holding five-thousand revs.  The front wheel pawed the air, nearly sending the rider off the back.  Seven-thousand on the clock and the rider plucked his next gear from the box, the front wheel again falling to the ground.  Another seven-thousand was showing and again the front tyre was losing traction with the tarmac as the rider flicked a higher ratio into operation in a frantic dash for victory.

The red and amber had now dissolved and had been replaced by green and Vince knew he could now start.  He had not been tempted to jump the lights with his opponent, after all he did have the capacity advantage over the Yamaha.  He noticed that the other rider was across the other side of the junction and was only about fifty yards away from the narrowing gap, caused by the parked cars, which they were racing for.

The huge motor only showed two-and-a-half thousand on the tachometer when he slipped the light clutch away from the left handlebar.  He knew that he had over seventy miles an hour in this gear so it was now down to his right hand.  Vince preferred to release clutches gently and let the motor do the work rather than lose valuable forward motion trying to control senseless wheelies.

The tachometer was showing four thousand now and the scorching black rubber of the rear tyre was acting like a clutch as a plume of white smoke emitted from the back.  Vince leaned forward onto his forearms to prevent the aerobatics of the front end and watched as the little Yamaha appeared to be coming back towards him.

It was now only twenty yards to that gap and the Yam had the best line, with the rider obviously happy as he seemed well ahead.  Having jumped the lights and gained that extra twenty or thirty yards he was confident that it would take something pretty special to beat him past that red Cortina parked ahead.  The juggernaut approaching the other way prevented any alternative route and as his front wheel was way ahead of any competition, which was the only thing that mattered, he guessed that the other rider was braking fiercely.

The competition, however, was something pretty special and Vince wasn’t going to loose easily.  The gap may have been only fifteen yards away and they may have been travelling well above fifty by now but Vince knew that his bike only needed a gap of about nine feet to get through and saw that his front wheel was in line with the Yamaha’s rear and he was accelerating like he had never experienced before.

With the throttle against the stop and the motor now screaming in delight he was being physically stretched by the power.  His arms seemed to be pulling from their sockets and his eyes watered with the pain at the tremendous G-force, pushing him against the moulded seat hump.

The bikes were level now and the red Cortina seemed all too near.  With his acceleration Vince knew that if he were to back off now he would have no time to stop or swerve.  It was now or never.  His right hand forced the throttle harder against it’s stop causing the rubber to twist painfully, as the bikes edged closer together, the gap drawing nearer.  Now even the Vincent’s front end lifted as the two battled for first place.

Luckily for Vince his front wheel was now ahead, but the Cortina was very close, however, rules are rules and he decided to swerve towards the gap, just missing the car by a few inches.  The Yamaha rider sensed this and threw his right fist forward, shutting off the throttle and grabbing the brake lever.  The tiny black caliper clutched it’s shining disc and sent a thin black run of rubber down the tarmac.

Vince had won, but only just.

Further on down the road the mighty Vincent pulled up at another set of traffic lights.  It burbled away on tick-over as it’s last competitor silently drew up next to it.

Vince looked at the Yamaha’s owner and smiled confidently.  The rider gave a return nod.

“Nice Motor.”

“Thanks.”  Replied Vince.

“Quick…”  he continued “…isn’t it?”

“Quick enough.”  Confirmed Vince.

“What is it?”  Asked the Yam owner, as the lights turned to green.

“A dream come true.” Vince replied, dumping the clutch.  The mighty motor again responded and he roared off into the distance…

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Fiction section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 17 Aug 2018
Written in the early eighties but first published in Mar 2010
The first half written in 1982 for an article in Southampton and District Motorcycle Club magazine under the title The Ultimate Ride with the remaining penned to fit the requirements of Bike magazine, but sadly never published meaning the writer had to get a proper job
At the time of writing the Southampton and District Motorcycle Club was based in Woodside Avenue in Eastleigh.  It can now be found via sdmcc.net
The header photograph shows the author squatting next to an immaculate Vincent Rapide motorcycle.  The Rapide was produced between 1936 and 1955 and remains a collectable bike.  The more famous, faster Black Shadow model had black enamelled engine casings.  The photo was taken by the author’s wife in Skegness in April 1996
The sketch was drawn by the author to demonstrate the bike envisaged in the story.  It was influenced by the Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle’s V-twin motor sat in a frame similar to the eighties Moto-Martin CBX1000.  Also there is just a bit of Ogri in it.  Orgi was a cartoon character drawn by Paul Sample for Bike Magazine between 1972 and 2009.  Ogri actually rode a Norvin, a Vincent engined Norton café racer.  Actually he didn’t as he was just an ink drawn character.  Ogri continued in motorcycle magazine Back Street Heroes until 2012

Vision of Death

Vision of Death – An Explanation

The following story idea was commenced in the early eighties and then subsequently uploaded to the vinceunlimited website.  It is currently incomplete but if you wish to read the rest let me know and I’ll cut out some more words from my dictionary and thesarus.

Vision Of Death

A Novelette Fiction By Vince written in the early eighties

I can’t remember why we were there, but we were and that was all that mattered at this moment in time.  Across the table all I saw was his cold, calm face and crossed arms.  He looked so easy, so relaxed, although I figured this must be an act as I myself was trying to portray an air of calmness even though deep inside I trembled.

On the table were just three objects.  The candle lighting his sinister features, the Magnum and a lethal bronzed bullet, shining in the eerie flickering light.  Silent.  Deadly.

His hand moved slowly towards the gun and raised it pointing in my direction and with a quick and near professional flick of his wrist released the magazine chamber.  His other hand, now in view, picked up the bronzed cartridge and held it tantalisingly upright by the base for what seemed like several seconds.

I could now feel my collectiveness deteriorating as a bead of sweat trickled slowly down my forehead lodging itself neatly in my left eyebrow.  His eyes, however, showed no sign of detecting this as he stared singularly at the capsule of death in his left hand.  I longed for just one brief moment, just one millisecond of freedom from his icy presence to hide my fears.

Finally he looked up again into my eyes and slid the bullet gently into the cold steel chamber.  My eyes couldn’t be taken from that small dark hole, the daunting prospect that next time the chamber was emptying I could be at the receiving end.

He placed the weapon back on the table, this time with it’s carved wooden handle nearest to me.  He refolded his arms and cautiously smiled, although this revealed a weakness as I noticed the far corner of his lips quivering nervously.  This released a portion of my own anxiety as I relaxed back slightly into the chair.  Now it was my move.

I placed my hand gently over the gun’s handle and paused a moment.  I had the upper hand now and was determined to make the most of my time.  I discounted a smile though to ensure no lip tremble disturbed my lines.

I lifted the Magnum, suddenly realising it was no toy.  It’s metallic weight seemed reluctant to allow me to lift it from the table.  A strange sense of scalding seemed to burn my palms as I considered it’s deadliness, which made my fingers sticky with sweat.  I raised the gun, pointing the barrel at my adversary, my index finger resting gently on the cold trigger.  I felt so powerful.

To be continued…

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Fiction section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 14 Aug 2018
Written in the early eighties but first published in Mar 2010
 

Window Vistas

Through The Round Window

Take a look out of your window.  What do you see?

The chances are that unless you are on holiday, you live on a ship or are currently slumming it in what the Americans call an “ArrVee” the view is exactly the same as the one you had yesterday.  And the day before.

And unless you are about to complete a property transaction or do a moonlight flit from the landlord it will be the same again tomorrow.

I for one find all that a bit monotonous.

And I won’t accept the changing patterns of trees in the winter/spring/summer/autumn argument.  The trees never move and for my money offer less distraction than a city-scape skyline.  At least with a city you may get the chance to live opposite a hospital nurses’ changing room during a curtain closing drought.

So I have devised a cunning way to relieve the monotony.  Let’s all share our views.

I propose that all windows be replaced with a big LCD screen backing onto a networked webcam.

Tomorrow I could be looking out of your lounge window and you could be looking out of mine.  And noting that Mrs Miggins across the road has just painted her front door green.

Obviously certain outlooks will be of more interest than others.  I’ve seen several windows that back onto the neighbours wall and others with fine vistas.

Which gives me the name.  Let’s call this ‘Windows replaced by Vista’.

Although I may need to do some research to see if this infringes any patented trademarks first.

Perhaps we could use a system where we state the number of viewing options available.  I have 7 windows in my house so I could call my place Windows 7.  You see Windows 7 really is my idea.

The system could even be monetised with the most popular views commanding high viewing figures and attracting ad breaks.

And guess which curtain drought outlook would be the most popular?

There are a couple of drawbacks.

In winter you may switch to a nice sunny outlook only to have your Hawaiian shirt thoroughly dampened when you step out into the real world’s shivering rain.

And, being the twenty-first century all soothsayers will immediately rally around the old chestnut of energy usage.  After all these screens would use more energy than a simple plate of glass.

But there is a response.  Ask yourself how a lot of the heat escapes from a well insulated property – through the glazing.  And with this system all windows will be bricked up and insulated.

I foresee that one day you will be able to say “That outlook is so much more improved”.

And that’s no bad thing.

However that potential trademark is also being considered.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 10 Aug 2018
First published in Mar 2010
Windows Vista is the name of Microsoft’s computer operating software released in 2007
Windows 7 is the name of Microsoft’s computer operating software released in 2009
When Windows 7 was released Microsoft updated their ‘I’m a PC’ advertising campaign, which had attempted to counter the Apple ‘Get a Mac’ advertising campaign, using the tag line “I’m a PC and Windows 7 was my idea”
Microsoft’s Outlook, a personal information manager, incorporating email, was initially released in 1992 and has since had many improvements made up to it’s current version

Repository

One of the most famous incidents from western history is the shooting of American President John F. Kennedy.  Few reasonably educated people in the English speaking world would not be aware of some of the facts around this moment.  It might just be that it was in the sixties, the assassinated President was travelling in a motorcade, Lee Harvey Oswald was the shooter, there are loads of conspiracy theories and the shot came from a repository.

I didn’t fact check these six commonly known things stated above.  Some may be incorrect.  For instance was it the sixties?  Is Oswald spelt correctly?  That’s not important right now.  What I want to highlight is two uncommonly used words in this short summation – Motorcade and repository.  Both first heard by my young ears around the time it happened and both rarely used to this date.

I’ve never really questioned the term motorcade.  Probably because it immediately seemed to describe the line of vehicles involved.  Possibly because even today it is used to describe an American Presidential car outing.  The British Prime Minister, for instance, never seems to get reported as travelling in a motorcade.  Even though it’s often technically true.

The other newly discovered word to my young ears was repository.

What is a repository a small child might ask?  A library is the short answer.  So why not say library then was the response?

Presumably because if it was a library a chap firing off a high powered firearm would have elicited a cacophony of ‘shhhhhs’ from other users delivered in that passive aggressive way only librarians and library users can achieve.

However the classic response to a small child’s follow up question in those days would have been ‘because it is’ or more likely please accept this clip around the ear as a kindly note to advise you will find out when you are older and stop bothering me now, I am an adult and you are irrelevant.

I can’t recall which type of reasoned explanation was used at the time but I never really questioned the word again as it never comes up in any context, except in reference to the Dallas incident mentioned above.  But it was a key memorable fact about the Texas story that still sticks today.

My website is a repository.

That’s not actually an analogy.  It’s a fact.  If I were to liken it to a library it would only be analogous.  Described as a library it may make sense to some.  It contains my web content.  It has clearly marked sections for those who seek specialist subjects.  It is arranged logically and is open to all.  But technically it is an information repository.  But it is an incomplete one because at present it is still being stockpiled.  And only currently about two-thirds filled with historic content. Mainly the content from previous website iterations between 2003 and early 2010.

You may note at the bottom of this article in my website the version number is 5.166.  This is the one-hundred and sixty-sixth update to the fifth version of my website.  Quite a lot of updates you might think.  And you would be right.  After I hand-coded and uploaded the current edition of my site I have made 166 new pieces of content.  Meaning the repository now contains well over 120 separate pages, and more than 40 individual blog posts.  All in HTML5 and linked via CSS styling cues.

This may seem a lot of work and it was but also consider I have done the exact same but in mobile specific form so those numbers can be doubled.  In other words over 320 pages have been written or updated.

And in each case every article or blog post is first trailed on the homepage as well as being added to it’s final resting place.  So the total number of alterations is more like over 640.

But there’s more.  In every instance I consider whether an article may need replicating in a specialist place.

For instance this post will be added to the homepage as usual, plus added to the Blog posts where it shall remain but then also added to both the Geek and Web sections for those who seek such specialist knowledge.  Then I’ll update the vSearch page so it can be found.  This type of procedure is common and sometimes articles get posted in six or seven places so the repository can be simply navigated.

And all that excludes the many times I have checked my updates only to find link errors, grammatical changes required or just additional content refreshing requirements, such as the updates to the Sketches page I posted at the same time as this article.

I estimate that I have written near to 1500 page updates.  And I am only two thirds the way through this initial exercise.  And when all this is complete I shall continue to add to the stock with exclusively new content.

Quite a repository.  And sadly like all repositories it is rarely visited.  However, it is always open, it is free to enter and you are most welcome to browse.

And just like the infamous JFK incident, you can be sure there is more of this story to come.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the BlogGeek and Web sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 6 Aug 2018
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was carried out by Lee Harvey Oswald on 22 November 1963 in Dallas, Texas.  He fired shots from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository at the presidential motorcade.  Many people dispute these facts

Computers March 2010

The author's spare bedroom converted to a nice office set up.  The matching wallpaper and curtains, the dark wood office style furniture complimenting the wardrobe doors, the black leather executive swivel chair and the neat rows of lever arch file boxes.  The computer set up is dominated by the 23 inch Apple Cinema display, with a MacMini on top of a matching back-up drive sat to the right and a Hewlett Packard all-in-one printer to the left.  Also seen is an optical mouse, small stereo speakers, an iPod Classic a BT Homehub and an underdesk bass sub-woofer
My rather comfortable home office setup in 2008 with little work being carried out

Stop Maccing About

A recent but enthusiastic convert to the Macintosh stable I am now using my ninth Apple product [excluding accessories] and each has been truly Golden Delicious.

Initially, like many, I was sceptical about plunging headlong into the orchard but chance brought me into the core and I have now nibbled away since 2007 on many wondrous devices.

It all started when I was redoing my office, as shown in the photograph.  A bedroom was converted to accommodate my electronic needs and desires both personally and officially and the centrepiece was to be a good looking computer.

Previous PC setups had included various CPUs and screens and experience had taught me that the CPU and displays became obsolete at differing times.  This reinforced the notion that PC separates were the way to go.  So a search was on to find a compact CPU and great looking screen.

The screen was the stumbling block.  All were dull, black and uninteresting but then I saw the light.  It came shining in when Apple opened my local Apple Store and nestling within was this magnificent looking 23” widescreen Cinema Display.

It clearly had my name on it so I grabbed copies of all the Mac publications I was able to carry and became convinced I could become one of the enlightened.

I wasn’t quite brave enough to go for the full all-in-one iMac and to be honest wasn’t keen on the over-square design at the time.

I considered a Mac Pro but chose a Mac Mini as a ‘starter’ kit, just in case I was actually a PC.

Since then more AM products have followed including an iPod, a replacement Mac Mini, an Apple TV and a MacBook plus countless leads, docks, accessories and software. So far…

And that’s not mentioning the phenomenally successful iPhone with sales so high there is no more space off the chart.  I’ve played my part and had three iterations of these.

Mac Versus The Opposition?

Being such a new found fan of Apple products I have been musing a way of describing how a Mac computer differs from a industry-standard PC and I think the answer lies in a car washing analogy.

The PC – This is the jet wash – It takes an awful lot of effort and skill is needed to get a satisfactory result.  It is best if you can get constant assistance from someone who knows what they are doing.  Unfortunately it will cause damage unless care is taken all the time.

The Mac – This is the car wash – It is simple to use but more expensive.  It does all the work for you using simple logical commands.  It is only likely to cause damage if the basics like putting your aerial down are ignored.  You come away thinking that the car wash has actually been the clever one, as opposed to yourself.

The Linux – The bucket and sponge option.  Far too much effort and I’m not that poor any more.

Mini Mark 1

Like all Austin, BMW and Mac people I am rather fond of my little Mini.  It’s cute dimensions, uncluttered look, surprisingly good for its size performance and its ‘actually runs a full Macintosh OS’ qualifications compel you to love it.

I chose the Intel Core 2 Duo driven 2.0GHz stock model with 2Gb 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM and a 160Gb hard disk.  Disappointingly it shipped with the new Leopard software as I am rather fond of Tigers but it also sported the full Mac iLife 08 Suite which I bolstered with an 08 version of iWork to reinforce the official view that it was a real business purchase.

Being bereft of all accessories I coupled it to the 23” Apple Cinema Display that initiated the purchase and allowed me to see what was going on and a wireless keyboard and mouse to actually do some going on.

Backup is as important to a Mac-Man as it is to a lowly PCer so I accompanied my Mini with a matching Iomega MiniMax MMHD, a 500GB USB/Firewire 400 back-up drive.  The inbuilt Time Machine software does all the difficult bits of coordination between the two.

Becoming A User

Transgressing from the dark side of PC usering to become an Apple Fan-Boy is not all plain sailing.

For instance the Mini does not have a built in camera and Apple had discontinued it’s sideline in accessory visionary devices by dumping the popular iSight Camera.  However I had a smart looking Logitech QuickCam Fusion which had temporarily sat atop my crusty old laptop and once allowed me to Skype my friend in Australia.

Unfortunately the model was shown as incompatible with fruit based CPUs so I had to butcher a way round this, which actually proved to be pretty easy using a software application called Macam, even if the fancy zoom and lets pretend I’m a dinosaur effects won’t work.

I also had to learn the Mac way of doing things and I called on many a magazine article and user book to work out how to download, mount applications and find out how to do basic spreadsheet stuff with all the pretty and ultimately logical software.  In fact if anyone ever asks the most compelling reason to switch to Macs I now answer;  “Apart from the fact that I never have to use anti-virus programmes, ever, I also have never downloaded a driver.  If my Mac links to a printer it will just work.”

I have also become accustomed to upgrading to the latest software as it comes out.  This is a Mac user trait and thankfully Apple, unlike Microsoft, do not feel the need to totally fleece their customers each time this happens.

Not that it is all cheap.  No Apple products are.  Quality comes at a cost and you don’t enter the world without generous pockatage.  However, the process all feels more silk than fleece.

Mini Mark 2

A mac Mini 2 sits on top of a matching Iomega backup hard drive.  The associated firewire lead has been removed from an adjacent USB drive but the kink in the cable remains meaning the open Firewire end floats in the air
The new Mac Mini. Seen here sat atop the Iomega drive and behind the invisible USB device

In time I decided that I wanted a speedier, faster Mac.  My original Mini had proved I could be an Apple user but the speed limitations hindered use of some of the more powerful software, particularly the inbuilt music creator, Garageband.

I chose the simple option of buying a replacement model from the new 2009 range Apple conveniently launched for me and traded up to a Intel Core 2 Duo driven 2.26GHz stock model with 4Gb 1067MHz DDR3 SDRAM and a 320Gb hard disk.  With twice the RAM, twice the disk and 1.599700149925037 times the speed I am now a well content Leporidae.

But the road to change wasn’t as smooth as the sales pitch might think.

Apple make migration from one machine to another a pretty simple step.  It’s all handled pretty automatically, like most Apple stuff, using easy to use software.  All I had to do was connect old and new, press a couple of buttons and hey presto, a new Mac looking somewhat disappointedly exactly the same as the old one.

What the instructions failed to foresee though was each machine had to be attached to something to allow said buttons to be pressed. I only invested in a new Mini [CPU] and therefore only had the one keyboard. My misses clears extraneous clutter like a supercharged Wall-E and all spare keyboards had been long been filed away in the big grey receptacle.  However, Apple was at hand and my new cutsey box lost it’s virginity to the Time-Machine backup from the MiniMax.

A series of photographs showing the progress of physically destroying a MacMini, firstly removing the case, then exposing the innards, removing parts then splitting apart the hard drive
In deference to security concerns I needed to get to the hard drive, and duly destroyed the old Mini…

Having an Intel engine allows me to run [spit] Windows on my Mac and my preferred method of doing this is via Sun’s VirtualBox and XP.

This allows me to emulate the wondrous old habits of virus protection, Windows security updates and Internet Explorer whenever I get the need.

MacBook

For a long time I waited impatiently for Apple to release their much anticipated iPad tablet.  I figured that such a device was the answer to pitter pattering away whilst watching TV.

However in frustration of their delay and with need to get on with this website before Alzheimers set in I decided to get a MacBook instead.

A white MacBook sits to the left of the Apple Cinema Display and on the right is a Dell Notebook
The MacBook joins the fray. Note the little Dell Mini 10 getting it’s latest Windows Update

Purchased in December 2009 it is a factory-standard unibody white unit boasting an Intel 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo and has 2GB of 1067MHz DDR3 RAM, close to its 250GB drive, whilst glistening through a 13” glossy screen.

If you are reading this [in 2009] it clearly works.

Non Fruit Based Electronica

Many PC based computers have passed before my hands but only a few remain, partly because of the needs of friends and family, partly because of the calling of eBay but mostly because, as discussed above, the misses doesn’t like keeping clutter.

Not that any of these outdated machines were rare enough to be worthwhile now, even the very first ex-work behemoth running CP/M on a green-black screen.  These were the days of command lines, 5.25” floppies and frustration.

My first real PC was a metal cased, custom built desktop of dubious heritage containing both 5.25” and [new] 3.5” floppy drives.

This was superseded by a much more powerful [in the sense that a beetle is more powerful than an ant] Packard Bell tower case which along with the CRT monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer and Yamaha speakers filled my desk space completely.

In between times I discovered the joy of laptop computing and my first foray into this was in 1999 when I invested in a Dell Inspiron 15” primarily for work use.  This was superseded by the Novatech [see below], which I still own.

I also recently purchased a Dell Mini Netbook, primarily to ensure I had a reliable Windows based machine because some stupid outlets still insist on good old XP [also, see below, but this time a bit further down].

Lugubrious Laptop

My now outdated Windows based laptop is a Novatech Soprano.

It is very heavy for a portable, more of a movable unit boasting super fast 3.07GHz HT Intel Pentium 4 running on 512Mb RAM.  Although now slow compared to the multi-core processor machines.  Storage is a [not nearly as gigantic as it used to feel] 60Gb hard drive and the world is accessed via the built in 56k modem.

I run Micro-pathetic XP Professional and display on the built in 64Mb 15″ TFT LCD.  Audio is supplied by two small shrill insects inside somewhere that like to go bleep very loudly at times.

You can see a photo of this by looking at my article about my Computers in 2003, imaginatively called Computers October 2003.

Lightweight Laptop

An opened but switched off Dell Inspiron Mini 10 Notebook.  It has a glossy screen, black bezel and keyboard and a silver trackpad and wrist rest area
A tiny Dell Inspiron Mini 10 Notebook all ready to link to my massive HiFi Processor

The Dell Mini 10 was, as alluded to earlier, purchased as an insurance against the failure of the Novatech.

In particular I have a computer based HiFi processor which insists on getting its updates via an XP interface.  The quality of the processor is such that it warranted such an acquisition but the Mini is a useful tool for quick and dirty Internet Explorer [spit] web-use such as insisted by certain work clients [after the obligatory updates and virus protection refreshing].

The Mini 10 sports, if that is not over-egging the cake, an Intel Atom Z530 1.6GHz motor driving a 1Gb RAM with 160Gb HD on tap.

Accessories

Printy All-in-One-a-Mabob

A Hewlett [I will take over your system if it’s the last thing I do] Puckhard HP Photosmart C6180 All-in-One, which is a basic lie as there are absolutely loads of things it doesn’t do.

It does do however boast WiFi operation, full colour printing based on the usual sell your mortgage ink supplies, photocopying, after a fuss and only via the website remote scanning and hope it works facsimile functions.

It was chosen as it was the least looking like, but still quite like a, bread bin model.

Wi-Fi

BT provide my WiFi needs via a snazzy HomeHub 2.  This dust collecting device spits out up to N grade WiFi and acts as a router as well.

It could cope with up to 8Mb but BT tell me that my home is only worth 6Mb.  Which would be OK if the speed tests showed more than the usual 3000 to 4000 kbits/s down and about 250-300 kbits/s up.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Computers section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 3 Aug 2018
Written and First Published: Version 3.0 Mar 2010
The first image is of the author’s converted bedroom Apple Mac set up showing the matching wallpaper and curtains, the dark wood office style furniture complimenting the wardrobe doors, the black leather executive swivel chair and the neat rows of lever arch file boxes. The computer set up is dominated by the 23 inch Apple Cinema display, with a MacMini on top of a matching back-up drive sat to the right and a Hewlett Packard all-in-one printer to the left. Also seen is an optical mouse, small stereo speakers, an iPod Classic a BT Homehub and an underdesk bass sub-woofer. The image was taken by the author, in summer 2008 and was added in Version 3.0 Mar 2010
The second image is of the author’s second MacMini, the MacMini 2, sat on top of a matching Iomega back up drive. The attached Firewire connector cable was removed but still held its original position. It was taken by the author in Jul 2009 and first added in the website in Version 3.0 Mar 2010
The third image shows a composite of photographs taken by the author in 2009 when my original MacMini was taken apart to be destroyed. The montage was first added to the website in Version 3.0 Mar 2010
The fourth image is of the author’s two home laptops, a MacBook and Dell Mini 10 Notebook, taken in Mar 2010 and first added to the website, Version 3.0, during the same month
The final image is of the author’s Dell Inspiron Mini 10 Notebook, taken in May 2011, first added on 3 Aug 2018

dadPad

A MyDiary entry from 28 Jan 2010

Yesterday [27 Jan 2010] Apple finally launched their much anticipated iPad and I have been lapping up every Tweet, blog and story about the thing.

One reason for the interest, other than my confirmed fanboy status, is that for months I seriously considered that such a product may well be the answer to my personal electronic needs.  However, I recently saw sense and avoided waiting for a 1.0 version of an untried, theoretical device, with no known cost and purchased instead a MacBook.   I think my decision may be correct.

The iPad is gorgeous, but not available for six months, still uncertain in UK price and may not actually do all I want it to do.  No-one has mentioned working with iWeb yet, my primary reason for a hand held device.

However, as Tweeted today, I think there is a market for this that is as yet untapped.  The elderly.

Or rather the non-tech, reasonably wealthy elderly who have yet to get a computer or on line.  I’m thinking my in-laws here.

This product is designed for my father-in-law.  The standalone design meaning no awkward telephone connections.  The user friendly intuitive GUI meaning no keyboard/mouse learning.  The inbuilt simple bookstore.  The scalable text for failing eyesight.  I’m convinced.  He has admired my iPhone for some time and I am going to recommend this iPad to him.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Computers section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 31 Jul 2018
From an entry in MyDiary dated 28 Jan 2010
First published in the vinceunlimited.co.uk website in Mar 2010
I did buy an iPad, but not until the second version, the iPad 2 3G and WiFi 64Gb model in Nov 2011
My father-in-law did eventually get an iPad, having never owned a computer.  I gave him my second iPad, the Air 2 WiFi only 128Gb model, in Sep 2016.  He was then 90 years old and still uses it so my original thoughts in 2010 about suitability for this sector are fully validated

Kangafood

Had a late lunch with the wife’s family to celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday.

We made our now seemingly monotonously regular trip to The Otter at Otterborne.

Personally I always see a typically dingily lit Public House with grimy floor and facilities and a smattering of unwelcoming angry looking bar locals.  However, the in-laws only see the back restaurant and seem to like the food.

Here the Otter does well and surprisingly serves a quite exotic menu.

Often I’ll order the Ostrich Steak but like so many other things today this was off the menu.

The waitress offered kangaroo, which I jumped at.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Food section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 30 Jul 2018
From an entry in MyDiary dated 18 Jan 2010
First published in the vinceunlimited.co.uk website in Mar 2010