Citroën BX

It was 1983 and we were in need of another car. The Renault 6 had finally persuaded Lynda and I that it’s clutch wasn’t long for this world so we sold it. The whole car, not just the clutch. That bit was fast becoming worthless.

By now I had got a job so we had a few more spare pennies each month allowing us to be a bit more frivolous with our purchasing. With Lynda’s enthusiasm for all things brand new, apart from me, coupled with the fact I had never owned a new car we started to look at what dealerships might offer. So instantly made our way straight to the Renault garage where her family had jointly bought their last three vehicles from.

I was no particular fan of Renaults myself because their line up was uninspiring. At the time they had the ageing, pressed tin 4, the chubby little 5, the uninspiring, dated 6, two boring box shaped saloons in 9 or 18 patterns and the Fuego, the expensive, dumpiest fastback on the planet which no one had ever owned. Except Lynda of course, a year or two back.

But they had recently released a new, updated model 9, more modern in styling with a sharp looking front end incorporating quadruple lamps, more reminiscent of a Lancia than a Renault which is never a bad thing. Unfortunately the designer popped to the loo before he got to draw the back end and they just used an Etch-a-Sketch to finish it. Luckily by the time we got to the dealership the designer had finished his ablutions and had set about creating a new hatchback end, so improved from the staid saloon rump that they called it the 11 as it was at least 2 better than the three box solution. So we borrowed one for a day long test drive.

We decided to visit my family who were unimpressed, largely because no one from our side of the street had ever seriously been able to entertain buying a new car and their spotty 22 year old fresh out of unemployment was hardly likely to break that mould. We were told to take it back to the adults and apologise for stealing it.

We were more smitten though. It was smart and modern both inside and out and like all Renaults extremely comfortable. We were leaning toward a high spec 1.4 litre GTS model so started to get together our finances and choose colours when we had an epiphany. We saw a big road side poster of a car we had never seen before and it looked fantastically modern and chic. The poster gave no obvious indication of who built it.

We checked more carefully and upon closer inspection the car was a Citroën BX. Brand new into the country and like nothing we had seen before. Apart from a vague styling nod to earlier Citroëns, our experiences of which until that point were mixed.

My brother, Mark had an old, white DS. It was like being in a spaceship designed in the Victorian era but more comfortable than nestling in a freshly laundered bed. It swooped about with a lightness of steering, strange swivelling front lights and a button mushroom to call upon the braking system. The dials and switches were somewhat unconventional and placed at random places about the car which itself rose and fell at the behest of the owner or upon accelerating or cornering. And not always in the direction one would expect. All this strange and lovely comfortableness supported upon metal bowls filled with green fluid located under the wheel arches. Which eventually leaked all over the road whilst my brother was taking a guitar lesson.

The unreliability didn’t put Mark off though as he then bought one of its smaller brothers, a GS which was slightly more modern, slightly less weird but sadly slightly more suffering from I’ll let you down at the most inconvenient time syndrome.

Lynda’s brother, Kevin, also rambled on fondly about the brand and had long harboured thoughts on changing his Renault, the aforementioned tubby 5, in would a man really buy it in that colour yellow, for a GS himself. Side note, he never did because he bought a CX instead. Then an XM. But only after he bought our… Hang on the story isn’t there yet.

We suspended our prejudices and hot footed it to the local Citroën garage where we discussed the car. Not that we could actually get to see one it was that new. Notwithstanding this small hurdle we agreed to buy one and choose the BX16RS version. They even threw in a free hotel stay as inducement to buy, which clearly sealed the deal and saved us paying for our upcoming honeymoon stay.

The BX16 rather than BX14 because in cars bigger numbers are preferable and the RS because it was better equipped than the base model. We could have gone all out on the TRS version but felt the extra money for plastic windowlets in the C pillar wasn’t worth the upgrade.

The 1580cc motor would put out 91 horses when spun over 6000 times per minute and 97 units of imperial pulling power at a lower 3,500 but as it was French the figures were 68kW and 131 Newtons respectively. Which is all utter taureau-merde because who cares about how many horses are put out? It’s far more important to know why 91 were on fire in the first place.

The net result of all this revving and powering was a 0-60 time of under 11.3 seconds which I know because records indicate that it could go to 62mph by the 11.3rd second and then proceed on to do 176 but this was because it was French and they measure in something called kilometres which are like miles only in France. In England where I was it could only get to 109mph and that never happened anyway. It had to be run in.

There is a certain thrill of driving away a brand new car. The excitement that you are the first to drive it. After the man driving it off the production line, the factory delivery driver who puts it on the lorry, the guy who loads it onto the ferry, the one who drives it off the ferry the other end, the person who puts it on the transporter in this country and the other who gets it off the other end before being tested by the PDI technician and used by the salesman who nips out in it to get his sandwiches on the Thursday before you arrive to pick it up. Once it has been driven about the place by the valet cleaner of course.

But you believe you are the first one in it and you find yourself edging out carefully onto the highway with not a care in the world. Apart from a real fear of every other road user who seems to eyeing you up and waiting for an opportunity to administer the first scratch or dent. Along with an underlying gut feeling that you have just spent far too much on what amounts to a piece of metal sculpture.

In fact a lot of it wasn’t even metal. The modern design incorporated new fangled lightweight materials for the bonnet, hatch and bumpers. Not carbon fibre, just a form of wobbly plastic. Like some big red Reliant Robin.

Yes it was red. A deep post box red with a suitably contrasting light grey interior finish. We had opted for the fabric seats as leather was a spend too far but they were accommodating and adjustable enough to get at all the strange and quirky controls that Citroën decided to design into the first variant of this model.

For example, the indicators were not on handy stalks like every other car but instead incorporated into a rocker switch on the top of the lighting cheek protruding next to the binnacle, a handy finger stretch away from the wheel. All well and good for operation when approaching a bend, provided the bend wasn’t ahead of a long curve when your hands may not have been at the ideal position to reach. Plus their lack of proximity to the wheel shaft meant that no self cancelling function was incorporated so more thought had to go into repositioning hands for indicator cancelling after a manoeuvre as well.

The speedometer was also different from standard cars of the time. Instead of the standard big dial and sweeping pointer the speed numerals were printed on a vertically rotating drum which rolled past a fixed point line. All very Star Trek. All very difficult to read at a glance or at night.

The wonderfully sounding rear speakers set into the parcel shelf. Big enough for all the bass you need, despite needing a better base themselves

One thankfully useful feature was a standardised DIN space for a retrofit stereo, a common upgrade to cars at the time and we spent time hunting out a fantastic Pioneer set up incorporating a slick KEH-9300 head unit coupled to a pair of TS-168 door mounted speakers and another stunning pair of powerful TS-2000 speakers inset into the hatchback cover which created a great deep, lustrous sound using the whole boot space as a bass box. We had to incorporate quick release audio leads but found the structural reinforcing within the plastic cover made it difficult to add extra strengthening to dampen out the uninvited audio induced bounce every time the volume went up.

Citroën fitted the car with its famous hydropneumatic suspension. Still using the gloopy green gunge that had visited the road outside my brother’s guitar learning shop but this time reliably contained within the pipes and spheres of the car. This gave it four settings of height. Maintenance level for fans of low riding, standard, raised and fully raised for wheel changing. It always travelled best in standard mode as raised firmed up the ride to extremely bumpy. As the years passed we saw a number of older BXs travelling out on motorways in raised mode which meant one of three things, firstly, that the system had failed, secondly, the operator didn’t know they could or how to alter the setting or thirdly, the driver was an idiot.

When driving our new, correctly set up car it felt modern, free-revving and comfortable. The manual five speed gearbox slipped into each ratio nicely albeit being a bit spongy in feel plus the power assisted steering was super light. The interior was spacious and having a hatchback always assists the practicality. The only real fault being the aforementioned non cancelling indicators. In fact I’m pretty sure they were still clicking quietly on and off when we sold it. Which was so much sooner than one should for a new car.

It’s not that there was a problem. In the year of ownership it never missed a beat. Unfortunately it also never missed the company entrance gatepost I drove through either but that minor scrape was soon fixed.

A time to practice getting through small gaps. A skill which would have been useful near a certain entrance

We had used it to visit t’North, a camp site in the west and to compete in a local manoeuvring contest held by our Institute of Advanced Motorists group wherein I proved conclusively that I could have missed the gatepost if only I had tried harder.

The reason we sold it was I got a new job. This came with not only a new gatepost entrance but more importantly to this tale a fully expensed company car rendering a second vehicle a bit of a luxury that we had to fuel ourselves. Lynda carried on commuting in the bee-ex for a while but we decided to sell it to Kevin’s partner, Rob, who needed some wheels and a mint condition [once the door was repainted] Citroën was a great deal for both of us. We got back some cash and he got a pretty new low mileage car that he kept for a number of years. With a banging stereo fitted.

My Citroën bubble had been pricked but the experience was far too good to be so short lived. I would no longer refrain from visiting the brand again. And I didn’t… But that story is for another day.

Author: Vince Poynter

First Published in my website vinceunlimited.co.uk on 30 May 2020
A DIN space is a reference to a standardised opening panel space of 180mm x 50mm for dashboard mounted head units as prescribed in ISO 7736 
The header photograph shows the actual Citroën BX16RS in the story, parked on the author’s driveway shortly after it was purchased in 1983
The second image shows a close up of the Pioneer rear speakers fitted in the back parcel shelf of the car. The photo was taken by Lynda after the car had passed ownership to Rob around 1987 
The final image shows the author manouvering the Citroën at an IAM day in Southampton, around Spring 1984

Lots of Little Ideas

Part 1 – Miscellaneous Ideas

Sometimes an idea or concept can be summarised in just a few lines. In fact as an example I can tell you an original thought I had using only three words – Chocolate coated crisps.

In fact I can do it in just two words – Black Wine.

Or I could use three words but add a bit of humour – Square Chocolate Eggs – Cluck, cluck, Argh.

I had considered collating the above three tiny ideas together under one banner of food concepts and publishing an article for my website. But if I did that the other dozen or so ones listed below would fester for longer on my hard drive still awaiting the light of day. So I had another idea. Why not just publish a whole list of my one or two sentence concepts? Each has no particular association with any other, except emanating from deep within the recesses of my imagination.

The Miscellaneous Ideas

  • Various sports series for the over fifties. For example: An over fifties track racing series using something like a simple space frame car with an off the shelf engine
  • A self contained mist sprinkler set for fire protection. Containing all the components for easy installation with localised control, all ready to plug in with an option to extend with simple pipe work and push fit fittings
  • A short range defence gun firing large soft missiles designed to knock over targets without permanent damage. Legal to carry by non firearm trained police and possibly the public
  • A boat underwater damage repair device. Magnetic doughnut ring with neoprene centre that secures on the outside around the hole with the rubber skin providing the seal by means of external water pressure. This could be developed for military use by incorporating permanent awning style attachments that could quickly roll out from above the waterline to the damage below
  • Weight watcher or dieting cards – Congratulations on reaching 70… kg
  • Base speed limits on car standard fitment tyres using the aspect ratio between width and height. Vehicles with wider tyres could travel faster than those with skinny tyres. It’s a safety issue. Fatter tyres have more road contact so corner and stop quicker. Plus the types of vehicles with wide tyres usually have uprated brakes
  • People should take their rubbish home but too many don’t respect supplied litter bins or use them because they cannot be bothered to get out of their cars. So why not have highway litter troughs? Open troughs alongside the road for people to simply dump litter incorporating a standardised size to aide scoop collection from predesigned trucks
  • Print a premium line number to on the back of a van to be called if the vehicle is driven badly or in the wrong lane. Then drive along in an outer lane without moving over
  • On comparison sites rank restaurant menus based all of their items on the menu as cheapest, standard and most expensive averages. The same could be done for other comparisons such as car prices [entry level model, average specification and fully specced versions]
  • A solution to the housing crisis. Build more suitable family homes, designed to accommodate multiple generations of the same family. With separate living spaces within the same footprint of a normal house. Multi storey, individual facilities, shared spaces, joint ownership etc.
  • Shared car park and apartment building structures in city centres. Designed like a multi-storey car park but incorporating apartments as well as the many parking spaces
  • Films set in space often utilise spinning structures to provide gravity. Why don’t they hang something the mass of Earth, although not the size of it, under the ship. A custom built black hole, powerful enough to draw everything towards it but not so big it would suck the whole thing up
  • Table Tennis played on an hexagonal court with radial nets. The idea is to have the least losses in your sector. If one good player starts to win all the others should attack them. This would keep the scores even
  • A dictionary of collective nouns
  • Large or mid size water bottles the shape of large hip flasks to enable carrying in rucksacks
  • A headset designed like the bottom half of a a full face motorbike helmet with attached earphones, allowing private web based communication in open office environments

These are just a few of the ideas I have come up with and I indeed have many more. So here is another one. At some point I shall revisit this concept for all the other sectors that I haven’t covered above including Apps, Games, Technology and Transport. If you have a particular desire to see one of these subjects first you know what to do. If not let me give you one more idea – Contact me.

Author: Vince Poynter

First published on my website in Version 5.308 dated 26 May 2020
If you want me to expound on any of the above ideas just let me know 
As usual if you know of any of these ideas actually existing in the real world please let me know so I can update my page. Also, if not and you wish to pinch these concepts then commercially pass them off as your own just think, you have accessed this webpage so I may be able to trace and claim copyright. If you are concerned just let me know beforehand and we can probably come together and agree on a mutually acceptable arrangement.

Lockdown Return

In March 2020 about seven and a half million people and about a million businesses had a lifeline thrown to them under the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  The scheme allowed companies to furlough their workers with the majority of their wages being funded centrally by the British taxpayer utilising tens of billions of pounds of additional national borrowing and debt.

This short term solution isn’t permanently sustainable so as the COVID-19 crisis gradually eases more businesses are being allowed to reopen and we will soon all be back to work.  Lockdown is ending.

But how easy will it be to return?

Firstly, many managers and supervisors have already started to go back to reset our working environments to set out our new social distancing practices of keeping two metres apart.  Modelled on government and industry recommendations and examples based on the designs worked out and rehearsed by our national supermarkets.  By using notices, taped areas, arrows, perspex screens and reduced traffic we will be entering a slightly strange version of the place we abandoned in a relative hurry just a couple of short months ago.

Some of us, due to our particular jobs and restrictive work places may not be able to do all our work ideally spaced from our colleagues and there will inevitably be a lot of dancing and hopping about as we pass each other and jostle for position at toilets, photocopiers and shared work terminals.  Fun at first but eventually tiring and frustrating when the novelty wears off for different people at different times.

I foresee much frustration and anger between those who maintain the need to isolate for their own sanity or the safety of their families at home and those who care less about the potential reoccurrence of the virus.  The latter presumably from the same pool of people we have witnessed crowding onto beaches and into parks in a desperate last minute ditch to get some sun because slightly recolouring their skin seems worth the risk to them and their families of dying whilst desperately coughing up a sickening disease.

Much the above is pretty much widely known or already considered.  What hasn’t been covered is the fact that our sustained absence from our colleagues may bring some unexpected problems.

I’m not referring to the potential issues of subconscious, petty jealousy or alternatively envy caused by the gradual returning of staff, between those who wanted to return early or those who didn’t, or couldn’t.  There will inevitably some of this going on and we should make allowances.

What I am concerned about is whether this period has actually made us forget about some critical things.

Already there will be a natural variance in speed that some people can reengage with their work but add in learning new practices and processes caused by renewed working arrangements we should be sympathetic to those who cannot get back into the swing as fast as others.

But before all that what about our personal greetings to those we haven’t seen daily for many weeks?  We are all used to going on holiday breaks for a few days or even a couple of weeks and returning to a barrage of ‘hellos’, ‘how are you doings’, ‘tell us about its’ and ‘at last you’re back there’s a pile of work awaiting yous’.  Now we have all shared the break together so these salutations will be even more intense.

There is, however, another thing to factor in.  Particularly if we work in large establishments or haven’t been working there long before all this blew up.  How good are you at remembering names?

This issue has troubled me for ages, long before this pandemic.  Each morning I greet about a dozen people before the novelty of the day has waned and because of the irregular first entry time into my main workplace these dozen people may differ.  For each of those greetings I use a mix of ‘hellos’, ‘good mornings’ and ‘how are you?s’ dependant on the duration of the meet.  And for good measure and politeness I add their name where possible.  It makes the salutation more personal and assists in human camaraderie.

The responses I get vary from enthusiastic greetings through polite acknowledgement to complete ignorance as if I am actually invisible.  This hurts but I have learnt not to be offended if I get no response because I cannot know what is consuming their inner thoughts at the time.  Plus with repeat offenders I think their rudeness is a personal trait burden that they themselves have to carry.

Another consideration here may be another issue that prevents civil response.  Embarrassment.  That is they do know you but at that point, or possibly always, they cannot for the life of them remember your name so turn away or ignore you as this is easier.

It happens to us all.  Just think of all the films and TV you see, recognising thousands of faces, what they do and have been in but you are unable to recall their name.  Just the same in your busy workplace.  You recognise virtually every face but can you name them all?  It is probably a natural human condition, a result of our long having eyesight and less developed period of vocal speech and in particular identity.

In practice at work it may be that you rarely meet, maybe have never spent time working closely together or even you were not there when they were marched round with the supervisor to be introduced.  It seems that there is a window of about two weeks when you get a chance to ask a newby their name, after that the question becomes psychologically difficult.

In theory you should never be embarrassed about making a ‘late’ introduction.  “Hey, we’ve known each other for three years now and do you know what, I don’t know your name.  What is it?”  Would you be offended if someone asked you this?  Even if you knew many small details about them.

Name badges help of course but not everyone wears these and as they are usually pinned on the chest it can feel awkward to attempt to stare at tiny fonts placed in that area on a woman.  And what sort of name is ‘Fruit of the Loom’ anyway?

The theory of name badges could assist though if we are prepared to rip up convention and adapt a novel approach to introductions.

What about the idea that when we offer salutation we should include our own moniker.

I shouldn’t greet you with the words “Hello Karen” but instead say “Hello Vince”.  After all I can always remember my name.  This does at first sound strange but will avoid any faux pas if your name is not Karen but was instead Bill.  Plus time will resolve the issue of strangeness.

The downside is getting universal acceptance of this change.  The upsides are that we are never embarrassed by forgetting a name again and constantly remind each other of our own identity, which can be as formal, informal or extravagant as we choose.

Maybe as we come out of this unprecedented period we could take the chance to make an unprecedented change for the better.

Author: Vince Poynter

This article was adapted from my website entry within the Blog section dated 24 May 2020
With apologies to all those key workers and staff that have had to work throughout this time and never experienced a furloughing.  I thank you all

Stand Up Story – Part 3

On 21 August 2019 and 20 April 2020 I told the first two parts of my story on how I performed a few open mic slots to see if I could develop a comedy style and do some stand up routines.  You can check the full story on my web site and on my YouTube channel but for those of you who are not able to access these resources here is the third and final episode of this particular epoch.

By mid April 2020 it was the seventh time I was due to do a monthly stand up routine at my local comedy venue at The Point, Eastleigh.  It wasn’t compulsory that I performed every month, in fact the slots were getting so popular with different performers from all over the country that Richard, our organiser, ‘invited’ all the main group members to not participate but we were nevertheless allowed as we had been regular attendees on the intervening weeks.

However, my comedy performance learning process had hardly started and I had harboured a personal plan to give it at least ten gos to see if I really wanted to continue, to take it further or abandon the idea.

The problem for me was finding another form of stand up to try.  Reading my previous story you will know I had tried everything from observational, through ranting to one-liner gag comedy.  I had even done character comedy and wanted to do a variant of that.  I wanted to find a way of delivering another monologue piece.

Writing something brand new, learning it and perfecting a performance was getting more difficult.  My routines had been getting an improving response, particulary after the previous one which had more base laughs.  My standards had to continue improving and this takes time and effort, something that is limited for all of us.

I considered not doing a slot, giving myself an extra month to get a routine perfected.  However I knew such a break could also stall my continuity, potentially causing me to be forgotten by the audience, make it easier for the Richard to overlook me on subsequent occasions and possibly destroy the confidence in performing that I had built up.

I also had some ideas about the overall evening’s presentation.  Each month one of the established performers from the group carried out the role of compère, to varying degrees of success.  They were usually selected from established group performers based on who was available but at times it seemed there was reluctance to do this from some quarters.  Mind you, in the end there was always somebody who carried out the role on the night.

I thought I could handle this seemingly unpopular task and more importantly actually wanted to try it.  I thought maybe once I had carried out my ten performances and had amassed more stature that I might be accepted to turn my hand to this to see if compèreing was my thing.  It could suit my favoured style of quick wit and unrelated gags.  Plus it would mean less line learning as recalling a full, unbroken routine was far more difficult than remembering some amusing links.  It was another reason I didn’t want to break my pattern of monthly performances.  I needed to keep attending and performing to show my colleagues that they could have confidence in letting me carry out this important role.

But what to do?  I wanted to do a monologue performance but had little time to get something together, potentially gather together any props needed then learn it to an ability to convince an audience of the character.

To solve some of these issues I had an idea that my character could just read from some sort of manuscript or book from a podium or something, such as might be seen by a vicar, a lecturer or presenter.  Then once more found a solution by raiding my historic content and adapting the first part of my Podcast 009 CreationiOS.  I made a ‘book’ [i.e. a modified lever arch file] into which I printed out the script.  Hence a bit of preparation but not much learning needed to get it word perfect.  It was so suitable I had to hardly make any changes to the text although adding the faux blank pages was inspired.

On the night the performers gathered early as usual, before the audience was due to arrive.  However on this occasion there was a problem.  The compère due to host the evening phoned in his absence.  Richard called another to see if he was available but he too claimed to have something more important to do.  Richard was getting a bit flustered and I considered putting myself forward to help out.  We had enough acts to fill an evening without my particular performance and I could always do my routine on another month.

I suggested the idea to Richard, albeit a little reluctantly.  The audience had now started to flow in and I had no time to prepare any lines, other than a few I had sketched out and had saved in my phone previously.  And if I was to do this for the very first time I wanted to have my misses holding the phone to capture my efforts for prosperity and future learning.  Also I was naturally nervous about handling such a role having only performed scripted stuff so far and had no idea how I would cope with riffing it on the fly.  I wanted to get to this stage but was not fully confident that this should be the time to try it out.

My nervousness must have shown because Richard dismissed my offer and instead considered doing it himself.  However a late comer act turned up to save Richard’s evening.  I didn’t know Glenn West.  He wasn’t a member of our comedy group and not even from the immediate area.  But Richard knew Glenn and of his ability so invited him to help out as the evening’s compère.  After just a few seconds of consideration he had agreed and seemed quite happy to drop his own prepared material, although used some as his introduction to the evening.

It was a very full evening.  The popularity of the monthly performances was increasing along with the number of acts coming from far and wide, many who were bringing their friends and families along to support them, a normal thing in Open Mic sessions.

Glenn did his piece and the evening got underway.  I was scheduled to start after the interval so relaxed back to enjoy the other comics which were the usual mix of abilities and styles.

The audience were numerous so the atmosphere was growing nicely until a confident young guy delivered a fairly audacious routine including gags about his private parts.  Unfortunately a middle aged woman became offended and started to heckle.  The guy was able to pick up on this but his witty retorts met with further noisy, interruptive, comments which basically continually called him out on whether he thought what he was saying was funny.  He tried to move on but she persisted, despite the audience starting to turn against her.

When the comic finally finished his routine Glenn stepped in to introduce the next act and remind the audience, or rather the heckler that it was a polite group, an adult audience, that no one has the right to expect to enjoy every act and everyone was free to leave if they didn’t like what they were witnessing.  Unfortunately the heckler didn’t leave although some others did, embassed by the growing tension.

Other acts followed and each got shot down once more by the woman, hysterically asking whether they thought their comments suitable as soon as the remotest personal detail was discussed.  And a lot of that sort of stuff is infused within amateur comedy.  After all it is easier to be rude or shocking than to write an actual joke or funny line.  This jostling went on until the interval, with Glenn trying to assist the sometimes newby acts and those who had no comeback lines readied.  Meanwhile Richard was getting increasingly frustrated and angry with the woman and the event staff who could do nothing to physically manhandle her away.  She was like a dog with a bone and noisily wrecking the atmosphere.

The womans’ friends could do nothing to stop her, even attempting to walk out but she refused to move.  In the end a group of other woman stood up to create a barrier in front of her to shield her from the acts but still she moaned and groaned.

Everyone was glad of the interval and we all hoped the heckler would go home but amazingly she stayed put, despite the pleas and reasoned arguments of the group, other audience members, the staff and her own friends.

Although annoyed and a bit destabilised by what was going on I thought at least my routine didn’t reference male members so I might get away without the heckling when it came to my turn.  After all how could a highly strung and seemingly over sensitive woman possibly be offended by an act which parodied Genesis from The Bible and mentioned bright red bums on baboons!

After the interval Glenn continued to do stirling work in attempting to maintain the peace whilst simultaneously assuring the less practiced performers and eventually it was my turn.

I settled in quickly.  The content of my narrative was not the least bit rude and having a large file in front of me made me look less like a typical in your face stand up comic.  In fact I didn’t notice much heckling at all, just a bit of unecessary general muttering.  Afterwards my colleagues mentioned that she had been rudely talking all the way through but this doesn’t get picked up on the recording.

In hindsight I was glad that this evening wasn’t my first attempt at trying out being a compère.  It would have been a total baptism of fire.  But Glenn did stirling work that night.

On top of all this going on during the interval I received a call from my sister, Dawn.  She advised that our mother had been admitted to hospital.  I considered about whether to rush to see her but she had been admitted before and from what Dawn was saying I knew there was no real hurry so I carried on.  My mother did eventually deteriorate, then my father got sick as well and joined her in the same hospital before getting out a week or so later.

Mother never recovered and died a week or so before our next open mic night.  As you can imagine I had no enthusiasm for comedy that month and called Richard to explain my absence.  As expected he said I should take my time.  But I never really got back into the swing before the summer break so as a result lost contact with the group.

In all I had done seven consecutive monthly stand up routines.  Each written especially for the genre, each unique, each trying out a slightly different form.  Not once did I repeat any of the routines, nor tried any other venues or sought any other audience.  I never refined any of the performances.  Had no chance to redo any script or to make sure all the lines were delivered as written with suitable laugh points checked off.  I took no opportunity to get fresh feedback and so improve my act.

It wasn’t the last time I did stand up but this period for me was over.

Author: Vince Poynter

You can view the routine by accessing my YouTube channel, the link being https://www.youtube.com/user/Vinceunlimited
This article was adapted from my website entry within the Videos Section section dated 18 May 2020 where a transcript of the set is available
My website can be found at vinceunlimited.co.uk/index.htm or if you are on a mobile device and want a more suitable reading experience use vinceunlimited.co.uk/mobile.htm

300

Think of the number three hundred and chances are that your mind jumps to the legend that 300 Spartans fought off tens of thousands of Persians during the Battle of Thermopylae around 480BC.

If only each of those 300 Spartans had instead concentrated on doing just a single page update on their website each then they too could have celebrated about a significant milestone as I do today.

If you notice the version of this article on my website is 5.300 or to put it another way the three hundredth update to Version 5 of the site.

That means I have written or adapted 300 different articles.  And so updated the home page 300 times.  Also considered on 300 occasions where to permanently post those 300 articles.  Plus updated my vSearch page 300 times.  Then up to 300 times checking and if necessary altering my associated Javascript page.

Then done the same 300 times over, only slightly altered, for the mobile version of my website as I do not have facility to auto scale between landscape and the more mobile friendly portrait mode, such as is available in WordPress.

In all probably around 2700 separately hand coded and checked HTML pages and countless other CSS page updates to suit.

Not forgetting the 300 times signing in to an FTP account and 300 times connecting to my web host to upload on average six to ten pages and a couple of photographs or so each time.

And now I’m set ready to start on my webpage Version 5.301.

Because unlike those Spartans my legend will continue.

Author: Vince Poynter

First published in the Web section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website on 9 May 2020 as Version 5.300
The Battle Of Thermopylae consisted the defence of Greece by somewhere between 3000 and 7000 soldiers against an invading Persian force numbering probably between 100,000 and 150,000 men.  Impressive defensive odds but not as romantic a notion as a small force of just 300.  It was probably true that around 300 of the total Greek force were Spartans and they were probably within the last group of defence, numbering around 2000 to 2500, at the final pinch point.  The defence was finally overwhelmed and as a result the Persians captured the capital, Athens.  The romanticised notion of a few brave souls valiantly defending their homeland stuck and has been reinvigorated through Hollywood, firstly in the 1962 film The 300 Spartans then more recently in the 2007 film 300, based on a comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley and its subsequent sequel 300: Rise of an Empire in 2014
The photograph depicts the author sat on a hired Honda 300 Big Red Quad Bike near Bala, Wales, taken by Lynda Poynter around May 1994

Wealth Equalisation

Our lives, our country, indeed our world has suffered a huge economic impact due to a destructive little flu like virus which shot around the world at the speed of our modern interconnected life.  And there will be huge impacts on everyone from the very richest to the extremely impoverished.  And proportionally the worse off you are the bigger the effect that this disease and the subsequent outcomes will be.

And when it’s all over or genuinely receding an increasing wave of questions will be vocalised about how we could do better to address this inequality.

Inequality is not a new thing.  The world had looked economically skewed for as long as records of society have existed.  We may think our modern lives are terribly unfair to many souls but compared to our pasts we have greater equality than ever.  If in doubt just imagine life as a Victorian Briton.

We need to continue on this path of fairness for all humanity and this situation we find ourselves in should be the catalyst to make thing happen.  But how?  A wealth distribution system?

The problem with wealth distribution systems is that most generally see this is as taking from the very richest and giving to the poorest.  Sounds idealistic but in reality no one is really keen except the very poorest and their needs are never considered as they own a very quiet voice.

The reason for this is the very richest see themselves as unfairly being the only contributor.  The very poorest, because they are also the most numerous would see so little difference, particularly as someone in the distribution chain usually scrapes off too much in ‘admin’.  And the ones in between don’t care enough.

The traditional, simplistic argument that the very richest alone should be singled out to solve the situation is too naive and frankly wouldn’t work anyway.  Naive because mathematically it would not work.  If a dollar billionaire gave away his whole billion to the whole world there would be two problems.  Everyone else would get just 13 cents each.  A one off, once in a lifetime payment.  This would barely make a difference to the world’s poorest, who live on less than a dollar a day plus it would make no difference at all to the rest of the world.  The second problem would be that the billionaire would now be one of the poorest and is that really fair?

It’s a matter of maths.  There are simply not enough billionaires despite what a Saudi high street located in Monaco might suggest.

So what about raiding the bank accounts of the millionaires as well then?  OK, then why not the accounts of those with over 100k, or even those whose assets exceed 10k?  And accordingly strip the world of all the business owners and employees who drive the very economy we are trying to assist.

If you calculate world wealth divided by world population every person on average should have just under $12,000 or less than £10k.  Ask yourself, would you sacrifice your entire owned assets for humankind equality and just ten thousand pounds?  If you say yes your assets are already probably less than ten thousand or you forgot to include your house, your car, your pillowcases, your cupboard of food, the clothes you are wearing and everything else.

So if we can’t rely on just a single group of admittedly rich people plus almost everyone else in the western world what could we do that seems fairer.  I have a solution.

Firstly we sub-divide everyone into just seven wealth sectors.  For simplicity sake, Billionaires, Millionaires, those who are worth over 100k, those with more than 10k, the poor who can only claim to have at least one thousand, the impoverished who nevertheless have over a ton and the very poorest who own no more than a hundred.

On month one all the Billionaires give 10% of their value shared out equally to all the Millionaires.  Hang on stop stressing.  It does get better.

The next month all the Millionaires share 10% of their worth equally with all those worth over 100k.

In subsequent months the pattern continues with those whose assets are greater than 100k passing ten percent of their money equally down to the next group.  And so on etc.  etc.

A couple of years later the whole process starts all over again.

Wealth distribution not from the richest direct to the poorest but cascaded down the line because each sector would be proportionally numerous further down the line.

Every group except the billionaires would benefit.  And the billionaires, who are generally altruistic anyway, would be seen to be assisting everyone else and their reputations would be raised accordingly, helping remove the stigma that they are all money grabbing selfish individuals.

Yes there are things to consider.

I am not actually aware of exactly how each of these simplistic groupings are valued.  Would these sectors unfairly penalise or even benefit a particular group?  For example, would those whose valuations are greater than 100k receive less from the millionaires than they have to give to those with valuations between 10k and 100k?  A pyramidical structure does exist in there somewhere but is it as fairly sub-divided as the sectors listed above imply?

Could the valuation of wealth, particularly assets, be accurately calculated?  Generally the richer you are the more non-cash assets you have.  A technical billionaire is likely to have less than ten percent of their value in greenbacks so would have to ‘realise’ something to make up their contribution.  Offering of Ferraris or small businesses into the mix may not be that easy to redistribute.

Despite this, a good thing is that if it is calculated to make every group richer, other than the top group obviously, then more wealth will naturally flow back into the economy.  The natural effect of such a system is that this would probably disproportionally re-increase the wealth of the richest again.  A win win system?

Other issues must also be considered though.  That not everyone would be honest in their valuations, that some losses from the system would occur due to the inevitable administration and generally the further down the line the money goes the more chance of corruption and bribery.

So maybe the groups should be easier to control.  Perhaps an alternate split may be to instead of grouping by individual wealth and asset maybe classify whole countries into wealth groups based on their GDP, whilst in consideration of population levels, then do the same dribble down solution from the richest to the poorest countries using national tax systems.  Because as we all know every country has a fair tax system and country level corruption doesn’t exist.  Hmmm.

But we really must do something.  Can you think of the solution?  If you can’t let’s just use mine.

Author: Vince Poynter

First published in the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website on 4 May 2020