Netsong

A song lyric by Vince

Written in 1994

The future of mankind – Pre-cursor to a film (note: Written five years before The Matrix was released)

First there was the wheel. And then came the car.
Now we live together in a little glass jar.
All connected in the Net. No individual memory.
Virtual reality is now actuality.

No one has to die. There’s ROM for every soul.
Ten million to a chip and space for all to grow.
Walls can’t be pulled down. A cryogenic dream.
Now we have anything we need. Everlastingly.

But all I want to do is die a man.
With my own feet walking through a dewy grass.
All I want to do is lie alone,
Remembering a thousand years gone past.
Now that we can’t ever break our walls,
We can never, ever end it all.
When you have anything you ever sought.
You seek nothing at all.
Switch me off. Switch me off. Switch me off.
Let me through the Net.
You gave us everything but death in the end.

With DNA replication as a daily norm.
Not one body since was ever truly born.
Sex with anyone, they really needn’t know.
Flying, racing, killing in the sun, sea, sand or snow.

But all I want to do is die a man.
With my own feet walking through a dewy grass.
All I want to do is lie alone,
Remembering a thousand years gone past.
Now that we can’t ever break our walls,
We can never, ever end it all.
When you have anything you ever sought.
You seek nothing at all.
Switch me off. Switch me off. Switch me off.
Let me through the Net.
You gave us everything but death in the end.

We feel the world through all our memories,
And we can walk upon its surface if we please.
By using five sense suits that robots made,
We can still feel sunlight on us in a leafy glade.

But all I want to do is die a man.
With my own feet walking through a dewy grass.
All I want to do is lie alone,
Remembering a thousand years gone past.
Now that we can’t ever break our walls,
We can never, ever end it all.
When you have anything you ever sought.
You seek nothing at all.
Switch me off. Switch me off. Switch me off.
Let me through the Net.
You gave us everything but death in the end.

But all I want to do is die a man.
With my own feet walking through a dewy grass.
All I want to do is lie alone,
Remembering a thousand years gone past.
Now that we can’t ever break our walls,
We can never, ever end it all.
When you have anything you ever sought.
You seek nothing at all.
Switch me off. Switch me off. Switch me off.
Let me through the Net.
You gave us everything but death in the end.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the songs section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.031 dated 5 Dec 2017
First Published: Version 1.00 in Oct 2003 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The image depicts the author partly obscured by a circuit board and was created in October 2014. It was added to the web site in Version 5.031 dated 5 Dec 2017

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Lynda

A song lyric by Vince

Written in 1982

Dedicated to a very special person in my life, who shall remain nameless.

You lay there, you’re crying. I’m thinking ’bout my dying.
How I’ll live ’til then and never see you gone.
You think I cannot love you. Though I serve you, always hold you.
And believe I’ll stay around you for so long.

I never want you to leave me. I’m hoping this so dearly.
I fear the thought of being so alone.
And if I wake up and you’ve gone, you know it won’t be so long,
‘Fore I come running for you back upon the ‘phone.

Oh Lynda you’re my love, my only dearest love.
I’ll love you for one hundred thousand years.
And if you don’t believe me Lynda, listen to my words.
And sense me when I wipe away your tears.
I’ll serve you forever, and a day and another.
I’ll always help you fight away your fears.
Oh Lynda, what can I say but I love you today,
And I’ll love you through the months and through the years.

So hold your head up high and please don’t make me cry.
‘Cause I do when you are sad and you are lonely.
From the day that we first met you know I could have bet,
That you, my girl, would be my one and only.

Oh Lynda you’re my love, my only dearest love.
I’ll love you for one hundred thousand years.
And if you don’t believe me Lynda, listen to my words.
And sense me when I wipe away your tears.
I’ll serve you forever, and a day and another.
I’ll always help you fight away your fears.
Oh Lynda, what can I say but I love you today,
And I’ll love you through the months and through the years.

You made my life worth living, your caring and your giving.
I’m never lonely now I must confess.
And if thanks were made in time you can have the rest of mine.
We’ll live together now and forever more Lynda…
…I love you

Oh Lynda you’re my love, my only dearest love.
I’ll love you for one hundred thousand years.
And if you don’t believe me Lynda, listen to my words.
And sense me when I wipe away your tears.
I’ll serve you forever, and a day and another.
I’ll always help you fight away your fears.
Oh Lynda, what can I say but I love you today,
And I’ll love you through the months and through the years.

Oh Lynda you’re my love, my only dearest love.
Believe me now ’cause I mean it. I do…

Author: Vince Poynter
From the songs section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.029 dated 1 Dec 2017
First Published: Version 1.00 in Oct 2003 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The image depicts the eponymous subject and was taken in 1982. It was added in the web site, along with the tags in Version 5.029 1 Dec 2017

Racecar

By Vince – Written in 1994 – Dedicated to Aryton Senna

It’s a week since first they came to this place the circus claims.
Fired up passion growing strong. Now the climax won’t be long.
Tens of thousands take their place to cheer on their chosen ace.
With ad. men selling top rate places to advertise their companies graces.

Pole man sits on the front row. Cameras focus on the show.
Eight hundred horses singing loud to a tune to please the crowd.
Noise increases on the grid as final checks reach fever pitch.
Greens release two dozen steeds and the rubber feet do bleed.

A multi-million-power game guarantees the man his fame.
Progress verses nerves so hard in the world of racing cars.

The first corner is a squeeze. Only four escape the siege.
With the start again its all clear but the last ones pay so dear.
Fifteen straights without a change, then an oil seal makes a claim.
Gives a chance to two more aces, for three circuits changing places.

A multi-million-power game guarantees the man his fame.
Progress verses nerves so hard in the world of racing cars.

More back markers, slipstreamed straights. Tyres and fuel in ten point eight.
Fastest lap is a new crown as the times come tumbling down.
Carbon fibre body getting light. Black and white comes into sight.
The gathered crowds roar out his name and another takes his fame.

A multi-million-power game guarantees the man his fame.
Progress verses nerves so hard in the world of racing cars.

A multi-million-power game guarantees the man his fame.
Progress verses nerves so hard in the world of racing cars.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the songs section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.035 dated 11 Dec 2017
First Published: Version 1.00 in Oct 2003 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The image depicts the author’s two Formula 1 model racing cars. A 2002 season Jaguar Racing Team R3 and a BMW Williams FW24 photographed by the author in 2005. It was added to the web site in Version 5.035 dated 11 Dec 2017.

QE2 – Properly Crossing The Atlantic

A long story of a transatlantic cruise on board the magnificent Queen Elizabeth 2

In some ways I felt a bit of a fraud.

It was only exceptional circumstances that led me to be able to savour the delights of crossing the Atlantic the ‘proper way’. Sure I could afford it if I really wanted to, provided a few other luxuries were forsaken. And I had previously figured that one day I may part with the thousands needed to make the trip. But I would probably be a lot older. Much like the other guests queued in the bleak warehouse that Cunard seemed fit to welcome their clients onto the most sought after ship in the cruise business.

The few tri-colour balloons did nothing to enhance the surroundings and the shabby makeshift desks which processed us out of America seemed cheap and tatty. It was the last I would see of cheap and tatty for the next six days.

I had an opportunity to live on board the magnificent Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner for a week at a fraction of the normal cost and snapped at the chance with immense enthusiasm.

I would travel the four thousand miles from New York to her home town of Southampton living the millionaire dream

It was close to the first anniversary of September 11th so the 1,791 spaces were only occupied by about 1,600 guests. I studied these travelling companions as I stood patiently in the line awaiting my chance to be photographed for the on-board ID card. I thought I had come to the wrong place, convinced I had accidentally stumbled on a SAGA holiday outing. The average age, as confirmed later, was 65. Some of them were lying.

The waiting photographer hurriedly set up each couple and took his shot. Standing next to an endorsed rubber ring with the backdrop of the warehouse and the next impatient passengers I instantly vowed not to purchase that picture and slipped quickly on board.

When boarding, at a proper terminal that is, one enters the ship in the room they appropriately call amidships. It’s like a hotel lobby without the ceiling height, a circular arrangement of comfy looking sofas surrounded by hand painted murals depicting the major events of Cunard’s illustrious past. A small sign prompted me to play hunt the cabin. A task that I am sure some of the American guests were still carrying out on the fifth day.

The cabin search took me to three deck. To the uninitiated this is the highest row of portholes on the black bit. To the initiated this meant dining in the ‘Caronia’ restaurant.

Although initially opting for nearly the cheapest of cabins I had already been upgraded twice, firstly out of the ‘Mauritania’, then, on boarding I received a pleasant surprise that I was up another deck.

The brochure suggested that cabin 3113 should be hosting a ‘Princess Grille’ passenger but I was still allocated the ‘Caronia’. I wasn’t about to complain. My few hundred pounds had secured me in a cabin some would pay ten times the amount for. And anyway, the standard tipping rate was higher in the ‘Grilles’.

The restaurants on board are the first introduction to the quaint class divisions which the QE2 still proudly hangs on to.

The basic cabins and lower decks eat in the ‘Mauritania’. Not that this is a problem. The ‘Mauritania’ resembles a five star restaurant and all guests eat the same food anyway. The other restaurants and grilles only provide fancier plates, presentation and fawning.

Photograph of the author and his wife sat in the Caronia restaurantDining in the Caronia restaurant

The next ‘class up’ eats in the ‘Caronia’ and as an occupant for a week I can declare that I wouldn’t mind if I never ate better in my entire life.

For those on the higher decks, the ones with white painted exterior walls, the ‘Britannia’, ‘Princess’ and ‘Queens’ Grilles await.

Entrance to the esteemed ‘Queens Grille’ is subtly through the ‘Queens Grille Lounge’, discouraging the general hoy-poli from gracing the presence of on-board rock stars, captains of industry and those rich bastards secretly treating their lovers to a week or two of luxurious shagging.

You might like to note at this point how the company trades on it’s glorious past. The names of the old White Star Liners, which merged with Samuel Cunard’s own vessels are bandied about with great enthusiasm. ‘Mauritania’, ‘Britannia’ and ‘Caronia’ proudly adorn the restaurants and all around the ship you discover maritime heritage artifacts from the most famous liners ever to grace the Atlantic.

Although I couldn’t locate the Titanic bar (“Ice with that, sir?”).

Mind you the careful marketing of the past is unsurprising. Even the vessel proudly claims to be a Cunard when in reality it is now owned and operated by Carnival Corporation. I think they are wise to keep the name Cunard. More class. More style.

Things move surprisingly quickly on board. I expected a lot of hanging about and gentle moseying along the Hudson out of New York harbour. But the ship was built for speed and designed to cross the Atlantic in a shade over three and a half days. The six day trip taking the northerly route up the east coast of North America past the Coast of Maine and Newfoundland, before heading east to the UK was created to allow those on board more than a couple of days living it up but the docking and maneuvering was well rehearsed and efficient.

Typically the ship would berth in the early morning and set sail before sundown. Considering the enormous tally of items to do in this time, including cabin swapping, provision loading and static maintenance we should all hail those individuals who organise the turnaround. My guess is that they train with Ferrari’s Formula One wheel changing teams.

Mind you a cynic suggested that the daytime turnaround is due to the high cost of overnight berthing in New York or Southampton. Just pity the poor traveller who gets only six or seven hours to see New York. However, two to three is quite enough for Southampton.

Photograph of the author and his wife in bright orange lifejacketsOrange Wednesday

We were scheduled to leave at 16.15. Unfortunately, this was the time that Herr Capitain decided all the new passengers on board had to prove they could master their safety equipment and get to their muster stations.

I wanted to stand proudly at the head of the vessel and watch the magnificent splendor of New York’s skyline drift away but was stuck at the muster point wearing a hideous shade of orange and sniggering at the Americans who couldn’t work out how to get in a lifejacket. It only had one entrance as far as I could see.

At least they had found the muster station, some were still playing hunt the cabin.

And as a minor comfort the muster station for all cabins around 3113 was the pub.

It only took a couple of minutes to de-robe the orange lifesaver and return it to my room then hare up to the observation platform. I got a front row view. Don’t be impressed, I only had to beat a few pensioners. Some didn’t reach the front until we were in the Gulf of Maine.

Not that we were at the true front of the ship, or the bow to you hearty sea dogs. There was no imitating Kate Winslett in the film Titanic.

The front deck area was off limits to the passengers, crew only down there. Passengers had to slum it in the rear. On the teak covered multi-decks with the pool, hot tubs and no chance of a freak wave giving an impromptu shower. An interesting place to spot the well heeled Atlantic traveller. They are the ones sunbathing fully clad and wearing sunglasses.

I’m sure that by the end of the six days aboard I spotted quite a few pale faces with shiny brown noses.

The other, braver souls sat imperiously in the hot tubs. Quite impressive until their last minute dash to recover the towel and dry themselves before the Atlantic chill took it’s toll.

Then there were the swimmers. Hardy individuals moved to try to swim in a heaving lake of semi-warmed seawater. At least you have been warned. I thought it freshwater until my first and, I might add, only open mouthed dive.

I returned to 3113. My home for the next week. A pleasant room of similar quality to a 4 star hotel.

The cabin itself was quite long, if not wide, with twin portholes at one end. The main sleeping area was separated from the bathroom by a walk in wardrobe. I walked straight back out again and only went back to use the fridge or safe.

There was enough accommodation in the main wardrobes for my light travelling. If my wife was a normal woman and not a mannequin for Levi Strauss I’m sure we could have made more use of the third room. In any event, the beds were single but well sized and placed together, the linen crisp, fresh and white and the bathroom well stocked. Ben saw to that.

Ben was (and probably still is I would wager) a small, cheerful man ready to dive into my room whenever it was vacated. Not that this was a problem as he was the assigned cabin steward. Had he not have been I would have been less impressed with his eagerness to be there when I wasn’t.

He ensured that the bathroom was cleaned and restocked, the vacuuming done and the bed turned down at the right time. He even supplied champagne and strawberries on arrival, fresh fruit daily and left a small chocolate at night. Although I think everyone on board benefited from this and it wasn’t just my friendly deportment.

I introduced myself as Vince and he duly ignored that by referring to my surname for the rest of the journey. His strict training didn’t allow for such personal contact.

Such was Ben’s efficiency I wondered what else the private Butler’s did for the penthouse suites. I mused, perhaps they didn’t turn the bed down, instead accepting it into their hearts and cuddling it all night.

Ben even secured a mock credit card to allow me to operate the safe. A rather pointless design which needed a credit card to swipe it shut. As there was no cash transactions on board, apart from the casino, the best place to keep the credit card was inside the safe. I wish I had remembered to bring the Harrods card to waltz around with. Or even the Texaco fuel card.

The fridge was much simpler, needing only a short tug to get at the contents. Trouble is there were none. No mini bar drinks or bars of chocolate. Room service would have to cater for such urgent necessities, if you couldn’t wait the long thirty minutes to the next scheduled meal.

Photograph of a seafood buffet spread featuring a large lobsterNothing fishy going on here

Meals. Eating. That’s what transatlantic cruising is all about. And boy do they do this well. You have to be prepared to dress well to eat at dinner so judicious use of a tuxedo will be balanced with a smart suit, unless your great grandfather was clearly very wealthy in which case you need to buy a secondhand corduroy suit then sleep rough in it for a month beforehand, it seems.

Not having a tux didn’t prevent me from eating on the more formal nights as the dark suit blended well, but I’ll get one the next time I go. And you could wear pretty much what you wanted for breakfast and lunch. Although Ian Thorpe may have had to change out of his daywear.

The first meal of the day was breakfast. Served in your room or in your restaurant it was a grand affair.

Like all meals the finely dressed waiters personal to the few tables around you presented a leather bound menu. A touch pompous for two Weetabix and toast perhaps but suited to the five course selection you could have.

And the service wasn’t any less proper because of the time of day. The napkin was laid politely on your knees and one didn’t need more than a nod to accept the grinding of black pepper onto the meal. The waiters even knew not to offer it on the Cornflakes. Real class.

And the food was superb. The omelets were light and tasty, the mushrooms tasted organic (without the hideous manure twang) and the bacon was served thick and tender, unless the crispy old dried Canadian version was requested.

The only strange item was the oatmeal substitute which resembled wallpaper paste. To look at, that is. Funnily enough, I never tried hanging paper with it. Felt it wasn’t the time nor the place.

Breakfast usually finished around ten, if you started early at around eight thirty, so it was a long and arduous wait until lunch, at midday.

Again the leather clad menus were offered but this time there were about six courses, if you felt so inclined. The future shape of my stomach demanded I take just two so I generally opted for the starter or soup course followed by a main meal. I’m not that into puddings and cakes.

I paraphrase when describing the selections, the soup could typically be a coconut and lime consommé with a fruits of the sea filo pastry ball, or something like that. Well to be honest, nothing like that. If I were a sous chef I’d be well and truly sued. But the geniuses in the ample kitchens knew what they were doing and accordingly worked their magic to produce the some of the best food I have eaten.

Lunch typically finished around two so it was quite a wait until the evening dinner served from around six-forty-five. One might get peckish so the crew rallied around at four thirty to present afternoon tea. This, I liked. It’s the Englishman in me.

We all took our places in the ‘Queen’s Room’. She wasn’t present herself, only her bust, but she would not have felt uncomfortable.

We sat awaiting the stroke of four-thirty when all the waiters, dressed princely in their full whites, emerged brandishing silver salvers ready to take an order for tea or coffee. Immediately, following these were the next wave, offering finely crafted, crustless sandwiches. The final onslaught offered cakes and pastries. The enemy was defeated. We all sat about trying to digest the food in time to get dressed for dinner at seven.

Dinner was the most formal meal of the day. The head waiters would unveil the gold plaque announcing that Gentlemen must wear jackets. No mention was made of trousers but I didn’t push the point.

Photograph of the two waiters during a celebrationWaiters Anders (left) and Majic

Our two waiters, Majic, a charming and professional man from Gdansk, in Poland, near to where 1983 Nobel prize winning Lech Walesa famously toppled their government and Majic’s efficient assistant Anders, a polite and helpful Croatian, made a special effort to ensure our needs were well catered for.

The usual placing of napkins and pouring of iced water were carried out, one on the knees, the other into the sparkling crystal glass (most times the napkin was the one that went over the knees). Then the menus were offered, presenting another mouth watering feast to savour select and gobble up.

Do order the fish if you go. My wife did and Anders immediately offered to squeeze her lemon. At first I thought it may have been an unprofessional approach and prepared to hit him, but he pricked his fork into the lemon segment, used another to hook out all those irritating pips then with a dexterity which would have made a card shark gasp, gently squeezed the juice into a spoon. With two forks and a spoon, he carefully pressurised the segment into releasing its contents without squirting it all over the table. And he only had two hands. I felt like applauding.

Of course all this high-foluting doesn’t suit everybody all the time. If you want a quicker feed or can’t be arsed to change out of those baggy shorts for dinner you could always dine in the Lido.

This was the sixth restaurant and had that noisy tray clanging feel of a summer camp. It was too casual for my liking and the self service seemed far too manual. Our money was paying for the fancy restaurants so it was dumb to eat there.

But that didn’t put off many, it was always busy. I guess many of them were the Americans, having spent all morning trying to find the pool area they didn’t want to risk having to find their cabins again to change and then their restaurant. They might miss an important meal and at a rough guess I would say seventy percent were anorexic. That is, if you define anorexic as standing in front of a mirror and thinking you are fat.

I wasn’t a big fan of this place, except when they held the midnight feasts there.

The midnight feast was a semi-misnomer. True, it could be a feast, and fairly unwanted at that time of day. But starting at eleven-thirty was hardly midnight. I think the guests may have gotten too hungry if they left it until actually midnight.

Photograph of the author and his wife sat in front of three large ice carvingsIce carvings (Not the two in the seats)

But even if you were thinking of sleeping on anything other than your back you had to go just for the spectacle. I’m not mentioning the magnificent ice and butter carvings (not together, I add) nor the spread of fresh salmon, crab and lobster. Nor even the wide range of cakes, pasties, breads and chocolates. No, the sight of one hundred chubby, sequined clad ladies elbowing each other out of the way to reach that last strawberry. Well, they hadn’t eaten much I suspect.

Of course despite all this gastronomy there were a couple of hours free to wander the liner.

For the more adventurous it was advised that five laps around the decks equated to a mile. This route was charmingly called the jogging track, although really it was the only way around.

Not that many jogged. A quarter never ventured on deck, a quarter were frankly the wrong shape for such activity, a quarter too old and the rest were probably eating. The only jogging I saw all week was the races from the lounge to the Lido at eleven twenty-five.

The other problem was that the front section of the ship was off limits to anyone wishing to maintain some sort of hairstyle. Twenty six knot winds in the mid-Atlantic can be very strong. Expect to walk at an angle of about forty-five degrees.

Other deck sports included a golfing net. A pity really as I was expecting to fire a few out to sea, straight off the deck. I guess the environmentalists have had their say and fear the Atlantic is being undermined by small white balls.

Another option is soft tennis or basketball. Equipment was supplied although I only saw one hoop. And it was far too high. Frankly, I’m not the right height for this game, being less than seven foot three. I did have a quick go at deck quoits though. Well you have to whilst on board, don’t you?

If you didn’t want to brave the bracing winds outside there was plenty to amuse inside.

The theatre was used for the guest speakers and ours included Elaine Stritch, of West End stage fame and a retired Concorde pilot giving an interesting, illustrated talk about flying the most beautiful of aircraft at twice the speed of sound. One American woman asked why it was that when she was on board she couldn’t hear the sonic boom. Mind you, on deck mid-Atlantic, I heard it pass overhead on one occasion.

The theatre also doubled as the cinema, where the latest releases were played using full surround sound equipment. It was like being at the movies. In a rocking chair.

But that’s the nature of being aboard. Even walking the aisles one tends to adopt the on-board swagger, moving along but gently veering from side to side. By the end of the trip you have learnt how to judge your own jaunt to nicely coordinate with the sway of the person approaching. At first there is just a lot of incompetent leaping from side to side at the last minute followed by the “Sorry. That’s OK” exchange.

If you feel up to it you are welcomed at one of the many on-board classes and talks. I noticed things ranging from computer lessons to needlework.

Card games were popular and everyone had a quick go at the on-board jigsaw. Pity all that was left was that complex bit of grass with all the bits looking just the same. I wondered how many people had actually stopped and checked a few pieces then trotted off muttering that they could have helped if only someone had not stolen that clear white piece in the middle of the thatched house.

A regular feature each morning was the art auction.

Conducted by two professional auctioneers who spent their evenings in the pub and got increasingly friendlier with the audience as the cruise went on.

Most sales were described as lithographs or serigraphs, often of a limited number with the artist’s hand signature. Many looked like they had been brought from Athena. Except you don’t find may hand signed Picassos in Athena.

Photograph of an Astahov oil painting featuring a surreal setting in bright colours set in an ornate gold coloured frameThe Astahov gets home safely

The auctions were light hearted and fair. There wasn’t many on board prepared to pay $25,000 for the Chagalls or Picassos but a few of us brought minor pieces. Personally, I invested in an Astahov original. Whoever he is. At least he made sure all the numbers were fully covered by the paint.

The auctioneer typically gave a detailed and loving three minute pitch on each piece. By the time they had finished I wondered why they were selling them at all and not adopting the work as one of the family.

All the frames were delightfully matched to the piece and glazing was included. The shipping prices were reasonable and they even offered to provide an independent valuation for insurance purposes. All one had to do was bid.

They would always start reasonably high, to see if they could feed the idea of spending a fortune. “What will someone offer for this fine Norman Rockwell?” they would ask. “$20,000”. Silence. “Ten?” they proposed tentatively. Still silence. Not even the faint sound of a nose scratch. “Five?”. The audience front row tended to look around at this point to see if others were awake. Or had left the room. Then a tentative finger would be raised.

The skilled auctioneer would pounce on this communication. “Is that a thousand to start me off?”. “A hundred.” would be the reply and after strenuouse effort the Rockwell would remain unsold.

Not that everything went unsold. Fairly brisk business was made when the pieces were punted around the one to three hundred dollar mark and the audience lapped up the original Disney cartoons. Even if the prices were a bit Goofy.

Not all of the daily activities were quite so sedantary.

I joined ‘Cruise Host’ Thomas on one of his historic talks. Thomas was an interesting, ebullient character who seemed to work hard all week. His enthusiasm was tested by the itinerary he kept.

I was never sure of his native country. At first I had assumed he was Scandinavian, the name suited and his strong accent seemed to fit. But then I saw he was holding elementary French speaking lessons on another day. On another he was listed as your German host Thomas, holding elementary German lessons. My wife had none of this and categorically said he was Spanish.

Whatever his background he knew a lot about Cunard and held a highly entertaining talk whilst whisking his crowd through the ship.

About thirty had gathered initially at the designated meeting point but I reckon only twenty-five made it to the first point of call in amidships to see him start the talk. He would enthuse about the humble beginnings of Samuel Cunard whilst colourfully reliving the past.

After a few minutes he would say that we should all turn round to see the next exhibit and when you did there he was again, continuing the fascinating story and highlighting all the interesting artifacts on board. This was to continue throughout the guided tour, so I did eventually wonder whether there was more than one Thomas anyway.

His tour took us through quite a few areas of the ship and as we went to each level the crowd size visibly diminished. Not that they were bored by the talk, you couldn’t be, it’s just that at their age, climbing and descending all those staircases takes its toll.

There were only seven of us at the end. And that included all the Thomases.

Thomas did recount a few stories of old including the Royal visits on board and the other famous passengers.

He also said that the passengers were known for trying to steal things from the liners of the past and in some cases actually tried to disembark with some furniture. Although I did not witness this spectacle some people did appear to be keeping to this tradition. How else could the missing white jigsaw piece be explained?

All in all I had a wonderful experience on board and although I have tweaked the nose of some of the traditions my overriding memories will be good and I will return.

The crew, ably led by the captain, did us all proud and I thank them all.

And just to put some icing on the cake, halfway across we had an announcement that the ship had passed her five millionth mile, so we all got a certificate. A piece of maritime memorabilia to remind us of the journey. It made me feel a proper transatlantic traveller.

No longer a fraud.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site version 5.034 dated 8 Dec 2017
First published: Version 1.00 in Oct 2003 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The images were added in the web site at Version 5.034 dated 8 Dec 2017

Pony

By Vince

A Poem written for a theatre group and performed live in 1992.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a horse?
Standing in a field things could be worse.
With all your mates around you running fast,
And nowt to do all day but eat the grass.
I doubt if you would ever think you’re lonely.
I wonder what it’s like to be a pony.

Running on four legs across the dew.
Going to the blacksmith for your shoes.
Jumping over fences six feet tall.
Giving rides to children one and all.
If someone gave a wish, I couldn’t lose.
A New Forest pony’s what I’d choose.

Of course, there are some bad things that’s not right.
Being branded on the bum I would not like.
Having only grass and hay to nibble on,
Oh, I would miss orange jelly and blancmange.
But all in all there really is no doubt,
A pony’s what I’m really all about.

But unfortunately dreams don’t all come true,
So here I am stood talking here to you.
I wish I were a pony. It’s not fair.
But remember – Grass is always greener over there.
I shouldn’t make a fuss or be so sad.
‘Cause I’m a donkey and that isn’t quite so bad.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the poems section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.033 dated 1 Dec 2017
First Published: Version 1.00 in Oct 2003 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The image depicts two white ponies in a New Forest setting, taken by the author in May 2013. It was added in Version 5.033 7 Dec 2017.

Word Minutes Template

Take a minute to read this

The thing with big software applications is that they are so well developed that they are often hard to fault.

Thousands of pounds and man-hours go into producing a top class product worthy of the fortune you have to spend on it.

Or rather thousands of dollars, because let’s face it. The yanks have got it all tied up.

So when I came across a need for an elementary layout in a powerful popular application I was surprised by its omission.

Microsoft Word ’97 doesn’t have a standard template for minutes.

How did this occur? Surely when they were beta testing the product they would have held meetings.

And minuted them.

Have I discovered a secret here? Do they use Lotus Ami-Pro in Seattle? We should be told.

By the way, I have created a template myself. If you need a copy, send me a request.

And if Bill Gates is reading this. Get in touch. You’ll find my hourly rate very reasonable. Compared to yours.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.030 dated 4 Dec 2017
First Published: Version 1.00 in Oct 2003 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The image depicts a typical Windows XP desktop, taken by the author around November 2011 and was added in Version 5.030 1 Dec 2017.

 

Lottery

A personal view of the British Lottery system

I’m a big fan of the National Lottery.

Where else could such a simple act as shelling out a pound bring such substantial life altering consequences?

And I do not fall under the category of ‘it won’t change my life’.  The hell it will. Big time.

Not that I have such a bad life, it is just that I do have an imagination and too much of my precious time is spent doing what I must, not what I would like.  So winning would be a truly selfish act.  Yes. Bring it on.

I will not try to convince you that I play the game for good causes.  I have a strong belief that we should not need charity because need should be properly addressed through taxation. I have no issue with the government taking a percentage of the lottery cost for extra special causes as long as it stays that way.  The causes should remain special, not need based.  The organisers already make a tidy profit and the winnings seem to be sufficiently generous to tempt me.

The only downside I see is lack of integrity.

Virtually every week one, two or more people are made very wealthy.  Camelot boast of the hundreds of millionaires made.  But there is very little evidence.

Bentley Motors shares are not going through the roof and I, nor anyone I know, is personally aware of any big time winners, except the tiny minority of reprobates featured in the red top rags.

And don’t tell me that mostly they want to keep their identities quiet or that they are all wrinklies who stuff it all under a mattress.  If I won a jackpot everyone would know.  The smile alone would give it away.

So, what stops the organiser saying there are four jackpot winners when there is only one?  I am sure that the system is correctly monitored but the ease in which this could occur stirs the conspiracy side of my mind.

Camelot you need to demonstrate your propriety better.

Finally, a lottery tip.

Buy two sets of numbers.

The second set (providing they are a different set, numbski) will double your chances of winning.  You could not improve on that.

Shelling out another quid will only increase your new chances by a third, a fourth will only increase your chance by another quarter, etc.

And don’t play on Wednesday, you’ll just bugger up my chances of a rollover from Saturday if you win.

P.S. Calling it Lotto doesn’t fool anyone.  It makes it sound cheap.  Which, I guess is the idea.  Trouble is, it is still a pound.  And I, for one, do not want a ‘cheap’ win.

What I couldn’t do with twenty million?  Well, a better website for a start.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the opinions section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.028 dated 30 Nov 2017
First Published: Version 1.00 in Oct 2003 and reproduced here in full, unedited
This article was written when Camelot owned the rights to the British lottery. It has since been sold to some teachers in Canada [seriously, look it up] and because teachers are not well paid it now costs two quid a go. So now I cannot afford it.
The image depicts the author pretending to be a lottery winner stood next to a Bentley Arnage in 2000 and was added in Version 5.028 30 Nov 2017.

LCD Car Windows

The new black in car windows

Maybe it’s because I wear glasses and so cannot instantly pick up the oh-so-fashionable Oakleys everytime the sun comes out.

Maybe because I hate it when all those pillocks keep their sunvisors down long into the evening, or later.  Or forever.

Or is it just that I hate that time in a winter’s evening when the sun is right in your face, just above the steering wheel rim.

I think we need to do something about sunny days.

Why not use LCD technology to automatically black out car windows on a summers day?

It’s a well-known science, relatively cheap and controllable. Look at the watch on your wrist (no, not you Mr. Breitling).  Control could be light sensitive, or switched by yet another button with a strange logo on the dashboard.

Just imagine you’ve been out cruising all night, so your windows are clear.  It’s early morning and you are thinking of an excuse to tell the boss that you need a day off.  You know, dead grannies, leaves on the line, working from home; that sort of thing.  When you pull up next to a car and it’s the man-boss himself, on his way to work.

Just flick the switch and your car becomes a haven of seclusion.  Or a Mafia staff car.  Yes, you too could look like a reclusive film star.  In your twenty-six year old Datsun Cherry.

There is only one problem as far as I can tell.  Legislation would prevent the technology being applied to front windscreens, so all the problems listed above would still irritate me.

I guess I’m gonna have to get that Laser Surgery done.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.025 dated 27 Nov 2017
First Published: Version 1.00 in Oct 2003 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The image was added in Version 5.025 27 Nov 2017.  It depicts a blue Range Rover with blacked out windows, taken by the author in April 2012.  That is, the photo was taken, not the car.  That would be theft. And naughty.

Fluorescent Roads

The long and shiny road

The technology which brings us reflective white paint to help guide us on our roads at night is one of man’s greatest achievements. Obviously not in the league of the wheel or Penicillin. Or even bicycle clips. But pretty much up there.

As you hare down a country lane at night a pair of brilliant white lines guide you from one curve to another. The experience is surreal.

But, as usual, there is a limitation. In many cases, whilst we enjoy the reflection from the central lines sub-dividing the carriageways there isn’t always an edge marker. And let’s face it, the less unnecessary white paint embellishment on our country lanes the better.

Now, we cannot just paint the whole road surface because then we wouldn’t be able to see the central white dividing lines. Plus the grip (for those of us who go quick enough to need it) would be severely reduced, particularly in the wet, the cost of paint would be exorbitant and, quite frankly, it would be an eyesore.

Unless the paint could be made black. And reflective.

So, we need a solution. How about making the roads fluorescent.

Add a luminescent compound to the Tarmac* mix. That way all the light absorbed during the day will be magically converted to a bright ribbon of road at night.

Just think of all the gorgeous colours that could be generated. Plus, the motorways could be coloured blue, the main roads green, the minor roads red and the little lanes yellow. All to match my road atlas.

We’ll never turn onto the wrong road at night again.

Admittedly, as far as I know, luminescent paint is slightly radioactive. So all our cars will need lead underpans (lead underpants for cyclists). Then the handling and performance will be affected. So we won’t be able to go quick after all.

Come to think of it, it’s a silly idea. I tell you what – let me take another look at that bicycle clip concept again.

Author: Vince Poynter
*Little known fact: Tarmac is a registered name used in a generic way, much like Hoover
Version 5.024 24 Nov 2017 in the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site under the section ideas
First published: Version 1.00 in Oct 2003 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The image depicts a Peugeot 406 Coupe travelling on a typical British A-road, taken by the author in April 2016 and was included to suggest the road could be blue, to match the car.  The image was added in the web site at Version 5.024 24 Nov 2017

Lane Discipline

I’m a fan of driving. Sure there are many reasons why I shouldn’t be. Take a peek at my opinion on driving habits if you need to see a few reasons why. But I am also an optimist, if things are bad they can be fixed.

All we need is the will and a bit of clever thinking. And that is a speciality of mine. I have worked out how we can reverse one of the worst habits of British motoring by changing some simple rules.

Why not let people who drive correctly, drive faster?

We all want to go quicker but need to do this responsibly. Here is the way.

Without changing the rules about only overtaking on the right, let us allow drivers to go quickest on the inside lane, then progressively slower in the outer lanes.

Sounds crazy? Well just think about it for a moment.

Imagine a three-lane motorway. When you are driving along with no other traffic (remember the seventies?) I propose that you should be able to charge along safely to your hearts content.

If you then come upon a slower vehicle ahead then you will need to move out a lane to pass. But you have to temper the speed a bit and go past carefully. If you again want to get going once past you will be encouraged to move back to lane 1 to be allowed to travel again at speed.

And when the traffic is so bad that all three lanes are needed then all the overtaking in lane 3 has to be so much slower, therefore safer. It is a self-restricting system. Slow when busy but with less restrictions when the roads empty.

And drivers will voluntarily move over to the left after overtaking. Simple. Like all great ideas.

Of course, the set limits would have to offer something if this is to be sold as a good system. If the government gets hold of this idea then some quango think tank will decide that on motorways the limits should be 70, 60 and 50 mph. Much easier to sell the idea to a sceptical public at 90, 70 and 60 mph.

Mind you it won’t stop the arsehole cruising along at 60 in the centre lane, clogging up the whole system. For that I propose a simpler system. That I shall be legally allowed to carry a firearm and shoot him.

(Note: Americans and Europeans will have to read this page in a mirror to get the idea)

Author: Vince Poynter
From the vinceunlimited.co.uk/ideas part of the web site Version 5.023 23 Nov 2017
Article first published in Version 1.00 in Oct 2003
The text is reproduced, unedited, as published in Oct 2003
The image depicts a typical British motorway scene and is used to illustrate lanes being used. There is no implication to suggest the vehicles are in the correct or incorrect lanes. The image was added in Version 5.023 23 Nov 2017

Hollywood

Cellulite and Celluloid

I’m in two minds about this one. These pages are all about getting a gripe off my chest, without the use of a fine pair of tweezers and Hollywood must be a prime target.

There is much to dislike about the pumped up, pretentious American film industry.

The powerful network can easily create a dream but so often wrecks them.

The play it safe attitude of film commissioning stifles genuine new raw talent and makes it hard for newcomers to break in.

The industry’s hypocritical attitude to sex which rams it down your throat but ensures you never see it.

The obsession with mindless violence and the assumption that pain, maiming and killing have no subsequent consequences.

All these things are gross and frankly unnecessary in such a matured industry.

Yet, somehow, all the glitz, glamour and style makes me hold back from really winding in the knife.

Some of my best memories come from watching the spectacular stunts and settings that multi-million dollar budgets can achieve. And anything associated with Kristin Scott Thomas must be OK.

And then there is the British Film Industry.

Great ideas, talent and films but no balls when it comes to funding. So don’t go whinging when Mr. USA rewrites the great British stories in his own style and makes zillions from them.

So, I have to decide one way or another, whether Hollywood is destined for the landfill dump or the mantelpiece.

Let me put it this way. Deep down, anyone who writes harbours a deep wish to become part of the circus.

Case closed.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the vinceunlimited.co.uk/opinions part of the web site Version 5.020 17 Nov 2017
Article first published in Version 1.00 in Oct 2003.  It is reproduced here, unedited.
The image depicts the author in the process of creating an audition tape in May 1998. The show was a Channel 4 project entitled Trash Talk and the audition taped failed to do it’s job. The show now appears nowhere on the internet [It’s not the later NFL show]. Was it even made? Has it been removed from history? Did they pick the wrong presenter? You do the maths. The image was added in Version 5.020 17 Nov 2017

The Meaning Of Hi-Fi

This article is not about to describe my hi-fi to you. You’ll have to get to know me much better if you want to hear my set up.

No, this is a direct attack on all those manufacturers and suppliers out there who bandy about the term hi-fi when it clearly isn’t warranted.

Hi-fi, or to give it it’s full title, high fidelity, was popularly introduced in the seventies. The term may be older but it’s use became more widespread, probably to coincide with the style of denim Jeans at the time. The distinction allowed for the purity of sound extracted from the growing number of specialist separate components that outperformed the all in one music-centres of the time. Eight track anyone?

I know that the latest head-banging, superwoofered ghetto blaster can outperform these early attempts at music reproduction but that’s not the point. The term hi-fi is a moveable datum. As the general melee of equipment improves, the true high fidelity components are those that still rise above the masses producing crisp, clear sounds to die for.

And the number of lights, displays, bells and whistles don’t count either.

So, next time someone tries to flog you a ‘hi-fi’ product, at a price a teenager could afford, ask them how it compares to a top end CD transport coupled to a pair of dedicated amps and running through some major floor-standing speakers. Then get them to show you.

You might just get an idea of what my system sounds like.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the vinceunlimited.co.uk/opinions part of the web site Version 5.019 16 Nov 2017
Article first published in Version 1.00 in Oct 2003.  It is reproduced here, unedited except for minor changes for readability.
The image shows the author’s own Hi-Fi system as it stood in 2001.  It was added to the article in Version 5.019 on 16 Nov 2017

Gender PC

First things first. Let’s not confuse gender with sex. Heidi Klum doesn’t have gender appeal and I’ve never had gender in the back seat of a car. Nor Heidi Klum come to think of it.

However, I am against too much of this modern fetish with political correctness. Men and women are different. Live with it. In fact, celebrate it. We don’t want to end up in an andronomous society where you can’t tell your mother from the plumber.

I’m not a misogynist (look it up) and I’m not against lesbianism. In fact I think I might be a lesbian. I share all their ideals, I just don’t get to change in the same cubicle when I go swimming. And I have better hair.

I applaud equality. That is, I applaud fair equality, not the trumped up excuses used in positive discrimination. All women shortlists should only be reserved for surrogate breast feeding jobs. Not to select members of parliament. Even if they are all tits which people suck up to! – Couldn’t resist that one.

Men love the way women look so good. In all shapes and sizes. Keep those curves on view and appreciate it when we look at your thighs. You know that if you hide yourselves away you will end up putting up your own shelves. And it has taken men millions of years to learn how to read a map. Women won’t achieve it in their lifetime.

And as for the men. Stop being a bunch of wimps. Don’t be afraid to get down the gym and pump those pecs. And it’s not an insult to hold open a door or offer your seat. Stand up and be counted. Women will only be Kylie if you are prepared to be Russell Crowe.

As for me. I’m off down the gym, to pick up my map and drive over to Heidi’s.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the vinceunlimited.co.uk/opinions part of the web site Version 5.018 13 Nov 2017
Article first published in Version 1.00 in Oct 2003
The text is reproduced, unedited, as published in Oct 2003 and represented the author’s views at the time
The image shows the clear differences between a man and a woman.  It depicts the author and his wife sat astride a Can-Am Spyder three wheeled motorcycle as manufactured by Bombardier Recreational Products. It was taken on 25 Sep 2016 and added in Version 5.018 13 Nov 2017

Fuels

Oil be seeing you. Oilways

Do you consider yourself green?

I suppose the answer would be yes if you are either a resident of the planet Nerasis (sector 45AF.789 in the Zarciod Belt, turn right past Uranus and it’s only a block or two away) or a pedal cycling, anally retentive killjoy with a huge chip on your shoulder. Either way, you ain’t gonna like what I say.

Fossil fuels. Burn ’em.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a turbo charged V8 with nitrous injection.

I overtake people on the pavement (that’s the sidewalk to all you Yanks) in the same way that I pass them on the road. Life is for living and we today are fortunate to have been blessed with the black stuff.

Oil. Fantastic product, all that energy easily stored and able to take us on adrenaline fuelled trips that crack cocaine would struggle to produce. I’m a petrol junkie.

Hold it old chap, I hear you politely say. What about the resource issue?

If we all go around mindlessly using these decomposed dinosaur reservoirs then there won’t be any left for the next generation. Stuff them! It doesn’t matter. If we didn’t have oil we would invent some other way of getting our automotive kicks and so will the next generation.

Let’s pass on something useful – The ability to have fun.

Just one reservation about oil. Why did someone invent Diesel, then think it might be a good idea to use it in cars? Beats me.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.017 10 Nov 2017
Article first published in Version 1.00 in Oct 2003
The unedited content represents a view held at the time, long before the adoption of powerful electric or hybrid vehicles and modern, clean diesel engines
The image depicts a toy Shell classic petrol pump, circa 1970, taken in December 2002 and was added on 10 Nov 2017

Being European

Back in 2003 being a true European, as opposed to being within Europe, wasn’t the view of many British people, despite the European market, the European Economic Community, being created within the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and the establishment of the European Union under the Maastricht Treaty on 1st November 1993, of which Britain was a part.

Brexit, the popular term coined about the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union, was only voted for in a referendum on 23 June 2016. I have every intention of writing articles about this in the future so watch this space.
The following article was written in October 2003.

Being European

Why do so many residents of the UK fail to acknowledge that they are European? Take a look at any atlas (apart from those with the flexible borders produced by the Israelis) and the landmass of Britain is clearly in Europe. We are Europeans. End of discussion.

Of course those xenophobic Brits who refuse to acknowledge their position are really saying that they refuse to be ‘European’. Some sad misapprehension that they would be forced to eat horses in the manner that the French do, be good in bed like the Italians or strut around like they own the place like most Germans. And that just isn’t British.

My personal opinion is that having closer ties with your neighbours is a good thing. Less war, more trade and better pasta imports. As long as we don’t have to drive Czech cars. Why suffer passport and travel restrictions? We can save all that malarkey for the other world citizens nibbling at the borders.

Europe today is a small place and should be accessible to all Europeans, including us Brits. Furthermore, European union is the first step towards world union and ultimately peace for all mankind.

And the rule applies to other parts of the world too. Africa for all Africans. The Middle East for all nations – even the Israelis. And Australia for the kangaroos.

Mind you, if it comes down to a clear choice between speaking Esperanto or becoming the next state in the good old US of A then I’m a happy hamburger eater. I’ll even forgive them for not helping out in the Falklands. Or for charging us for their help in the Second World War. Or for accidentally shooting their allies everytime they open fire.

Just as long as the Yanks acknowledge that the word mum has a ‘u’ in it. Much like the word neighbour.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the vinceunlimited.co.uk/political.htm part of the web site Version 5.016 9 Nov 2017
Article first published in Version 1.00 in Oct 2003
The unedited content represents a view held at the time, long before the adoption of powerful electric or hybrid vehicles and modern, clean diesel engines
The image depicts a flexible border…Collie, taken by the author’s family around 1974.  It was added on 9 Nov 2017