Cucumber Campaign

From the vinceunlimited Blog dated 6 Feb 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lettuce start the Cucumber Campaign today.

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

The vinceunlimited Room 101 Choices

The Worst Things Known to Man

Why 101?

The phrase ‘Top Ten’ is fairly commonly known.  Immediately on hearing this phrase the reader expects to read about the very finest.

Accordingly, the ‘Bottom Ten’ may infer the opposite, a list of such incongruous hideosity that only an Estate Agent wearing brown would be prepared to accept the contents.

George Orwell recognised, in his 1948 novel 1984, that the very worst was harboured deep within every person and suggested that this was to be found in Room 101.

He never told us what lurked in Room 102.  I suspect it may have been the 1971 Datsun Cherry Coupe.

Television took up Orwell’s theme and under the current [2006] stewardship of Paul Merton, produced a programme that allows guest celebrities to nit-pick the achievements and habits of others and ‘consign’ them to this fictitious centenary room.

I too will list out the worst offenders but have trouble confining the list to just ten.  That makes me a pessimist and shows I lack decisiveness.  In fact two qualities that should be in the Room!

But there are far better candidates.

Far Better Candidates

My first thought was that Room 101 should be in the room.

Wouldn’t life be so much nicer if there were no horrid things at all?

But then I pondered the fact that without dark there is no light, without pain there is no pleasure and without chocolate there is no point in living.

So then I thought that maybe just the door of Room 101 should be in The Room but this made me all existential and I had to meditate for a quarter of an hour.

So I decided that instead of placing all the most evil things in there I could send in some nice things.

I thought a mini-bar and salmon sandwich vending machine might be nice, along with a down-feather bed and TV with fresh batteries in the remote.  With all these little essentials sent into Room 101 it wouldn’t be so bad.

And if the list can have anything why not consign an exit door to The Room, then one could leave as soon as one entered.

But then I got all existential again and had to have a lie down.


Numero Uno – Smoking

The first item I must send to the one way room, without question, would be smoking.

And anything to do with this most rancid of pathetic habits, such as ashtrays, butt-ends, the stench that permeates everything and smokers themselves.

Now I know that this will thin out the populous somewhat and may remove many people who I know and love dearly [Yes. You mum!] so I would give an amnesty to anyone who gives up completely with immediate effect, then burns all their clothes, rugs, curtains, car headlining etc.

And don’t give me any tush about smoking in private places or wide open areas.  If everyone gave up, in time, we could smell out a smoker on the plains of Nullarbor.  When in France.

And the next time someone users the phrase ‘I’m just a Social Smoker’, I’ll reply “Is that like being a Social Paedophile?”  Then I’ll hit them.

P.S. This includes all forms of tobacco consumption and any stinky inhalation.  So no good claiming you are Jack Hargreaves, Winston Churchill or twittering on about the beneficial uses of cannabis.

If it alleviates pain then it should come from the doctor – in a tablet.


Two, Two – Trains

This section could open up a whole railroad of whinging and there are some that might put the whole rail industry in.

I’m not an advocate of such draconian measures as I think the rail system is a fantastic piece of engineering and so complex in its entirety it is hardly surprising that there are some rogue elements.

However a few things really bug me and I’ve selected small train seats.

To clarify, that is small seats on trains not seats on small trains.

We all live in an ever expanding universe and to be frank most of the population are a living microcosm of this procedure so the general population is now, let’s not beat around the bush, chubby.  No, let’s step right through the bush and out the other side – People are getting fat.  In fact so fat that I was going to confine them to Room 101 but they just wouldn’t get through the door.

As a result public train seats [are there any private trains?] should be more generously accommodating, not the width of a ten-year old girl addicted to vomiting.

Which leads me neatly into my next selection.


Three – Peanut Butter

It comes as some testament to a food product that it can make this list ahead of any other spicy concoction in the entire world.

In fact, if you look at this list carefully you won’t even find hunger.  I actually rank eating peanut butter worse than starvation!

Does anyone truly like the taste of this sickly, off-orange paste that masquerades as a luxury sandwich spread?

I personally think it is the worst thing to have ever passed between my lips – in either direction.

The obnoxious stench is about the only thing that is worse than stale smoke.

It cannot possibly be good for you, so isn’t it time some University did some research to link it to a disease so we can rid of it altogether?


Four – Bullies

Although the previous selection may divide some quarters of the community this choice should be universally applauded.

No one likes a bully, not even bullies themselves.

Personally I despise them so much I am unable to write anything humorous or clever about them.

They don’t deserve the wear on my keyboard.


Five – Photos of Children

Image of a light blue Peugeot 406 coupe travelling on a road
Yes. Precisely. Exactly the sort of chubby ugliness we don’t want to be finding on the desk at work

Referring to keyboards links me nicely to work, for I work mainly in offices and it is here that I find my next selection for the exitless Room.

And I propose to place in this Room all pictures of children posted in a workplace.

This isn’t because of some misplaced anti-paedo thing but the fact that a cutesy picture of little Lucy may be the bee-knees to its parent but to all others it is just a picture of a snotty-nosed, ugly little kid.

Most of these so called treasured items are pretty awful pictures that didn’t actually make it into the home family album because of the poor quality.  Often being washed out, out-of-focus and featuring the subject screwing up its nose.

If it isn’t good enough for the Tate then it’s tat and should be burnt.

The only redeeming facet of these atrocious snapshots is that they are better than the pathetic paintings that the kids do.

Despite what the mums and dads think most children are just talentless idiots whose idea of a house is a square with four windows, one placed in each corner extremity, and painted purple.

And if the defence is “He’s only five!” remind them that Beethoven was just seven when he first performed his own work in public.

And a final note – replacing the photo with the child itself is no better.

If you have just taken six months off to have a kid do not assume that all your female work colleagues want to see the sprog.

Remember that for the last six months they have all had to sweat buckets to cover for your prolonged absence, each doing more than ever before with no more pay but twice the stress.

You may have become adept at googling like a gibbering idiot but some still view new mothers as vacant Dormice with added sick patches.

Remember that the other girls are more interested in their latte cappuccinos and flirting outrageously with the photocopier engineer.

Much like you about a year ago.


Six – Parent and Child Parking Spaces

As if the paragraphs above were not enough to cause you to think I am not over keen on the smallest members of our society the inclusion of this subject into the Room may make you think again.

However, here I do not object to the users I am objecting to the suppliers.

A few years back one supermarket thought it a good advertising wheeze to include special Mother and Baby spaces to target that single group of potential shoppers.

The idea seemed morally sound as a designated space close to the door with good access for car loading was ideal.

The trouble was this marketing initiative wasn’t fully thought through.

The first problem is that success breeds copycat systems from all the competitors, so the original marketing initiative has now become a burdensome necessity.  Now it has become the norm so it is no longer an initiative.  All costs with the setting up, administration of the scheme and any negative issues have to be absorbed.

Another underlying problem, and here is where my gripe arises, is that by providing special access to one type of customer effectively sticks two fingers up at the rest.

I, like many other shoppers, am not in possession of a child so feel I am treated in a second-class way.

Why can’t I have a big parking space next to the door?  I have a big car that can be susceptible to damage from adjacent car doors and the store places signs up to offset responsibility so I want a big space.

Like many, I am in a hurry when shopping because I work and time is precious.  Why should all working people on tight timescales have to cross half an acre of car park, past all the mums who have all day to fiddle with their tot’s over-complex seat belt fixings.

Why should able bodied, but aged, pensioners have to walk further than young fit parents who actually have little wheeled vehicles to transport their bairns?

In fact some superstore layouts provide closer access for their parent and child schemes than for their disabled customers.

Praise be to the first Supermarket to get a grip and sort it out.


Seven – Hypocritical Censorship

My next subject to be dumped in the bin marked No Exit is the self-righteous, hypocritical nature of daily publications such as the Daily Mail/Mirror.

These papers are deeply riled that The Sun sells more papers than they do and try to set themselves above other Red Top rags by claiming morale high ground.

However their stance is severely undermined by the fact that they too are obsessed by the same subject as the rest of us – sex.

This means that these publications have eight page spreads decrying loosening moral standards in society then place huge pictures of sexy, semi-naked models on other pages for no reason other than titillation.

One reason The Sun outsells the others is because it is, in its way, more honest about it’s readership’s tastes.

However, I despair that here in the 21st Century, more than a hundred years since the stifling Regina Victoria died, we still pussyfoot about de-censuring nakedness and our best selling newspaper continues to use vacuous, airbrushed, topless women to help shift copy.

Why can’t papers such as the Daily Mail decide on one stance in the matter?

Either you hate any form of sexual expression, no matter how trivial, or you love to celebrate of the beauty of the human body.

Polarity is fine, but not in the same breath.

Every paper should decide where they stand and stick with their decision.


Eight – Geek Add-ons

Another form of censorship that would not exist in my ideal world would be electronic media that is only accessible by geeks and there are two prime contenders.

The first is electronic games with levels that are only accessed by proficient players.

If I pay fifty quid for a driving game I want to be able to drive all the cars, whenever I want.

I don’t want to have to go through multiple levels and earn my right to play parts of the game.  My fifty-quid gave me that right.

I don’t spend hours and hours playing and re-playing until my fingertips swell and eyes bleed.  I barely use the game more than once or twice so I want to drive the big fast Ferrari straight away – with the accessory chrome wheels fitted.

My second gripe is of a similar nature – DVD Easter Eggs.

This is the naff term used by DVD compilers for accessing sections of the disk that are not immediately available from the menu screens.

Some are so hidden that only geeks trawling specialised websites for input codes can access them.

For instance, did you know that if you hover your curser over Bruce Willis’ watch in the scene where he thumps Alan Rickman in Die Hard, then press FF, Skip, 865 you enter a special DVD section where you can access another twenty-six minutes of the helicopter gunship approach?

Try it.  Only it won’t work because I’ve just made all of that up to give you an idea of how exciting then infuriating it can be.

Let’s face it in my little way I have paid for those damn 26 minutes and I want it menued clearly when I first spin my disk.

Or rather, straight after that boring screen about piracy which you can’t fast-forward…oops.  I’m spiralling into another Room 101 entry there if I’m not careful.


Nine – Weather Forecasts

Another Room 101 entry is Weather Forecasts.

I acknowledge that I am English and therefore deeply and utterly obsessed about the weather.  However the profusion of forecasting is getting out of hand.

Whatever media form you use this black art is always prominent and in such detail.

I suggest that we never ever need to know the temperature, the humidity, the wind-speed, its direction and the pollen count.

Nobody ever says “Gosh the barometric pressure feels like one thousand and fifteen millibars today.  Must get outside and enjoy that with the wife tonight.”

All we ever need to know is – “Is it going to bloody rain?”


Ten – Ten

Why is it that we always have an obsession with number ten?

Okay, we have ten fingers and ten toes and our counting system is decimal.  But I refuse to let the obsession with ten rule.

Ten is to go in Room 101.

Which I suppose draws this list to an end.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Top Ten section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 4 Jun 2018
First Published:
 Version 2.03 in Jun 2006
The photograph shows the author on a beach on the Isle Of Wight taken around summer 1964.  It was first added to the article in Version 3 in Mar 2010
The Room 101 [aka Room 101 – Extra Storage] TV programme is a BBC Comedy television series produced by Hat Trick Productions which is now on it’s twelfth series and is currently hosted by Frank Skinner.  George Orwell got the idea of describing Room 101 after a tedious meeting with the BBC in such a named room

Stephen Fry also proposed putting Room 101 into Room 101 during one of his appearances on the TV show.  I do not know when that was broadcast and was not aware of it at the time of my own comment
Notice my use of the phrase ‘twittering on’ in item one.  This has taken on a slightly revised meaning since the rise in use and popularity of Twitter.  However in this context no reference to posting on Twitter should be inferred.  Particularly as Twitter was only launched in March 2006.  Thankfully my phrases ‘whinging’, ‘googling’ and ‘gibbering’ have not come to mean anything else.  Except googling of course

Predictions

First things first.  The future may be bright but it won’t be orange.  You see some things are easier to predict than others.  For instance I’d have difficulty predicting next weeks lottery numbers but I’ll have a go. 4, 12, 36, 37, 40 and 42.  Let me know if you win.

So here are my predictions for the future.

Prediction 1 – Spumps [made September 2005]

In the future speed humps will be called spumps.  I am confident of this for three reasons.  Firstly, they are a fairly new phenomenon and therefore ripe for a bit of slang.  Secondly, the merging of two words into one is a common way of abbreviating and ‘spumps’ is a good merge.  And finally, I bet you won’t be able to resist repeating this.  In other words the publication of this word has set its use in motion.

Prediction 2 – Cookery Explosion [made September 2005]

In the future, when all the hard working couples of today retire they’ll have more time on their hands and one thing that they’ll take up is cooking.  They will have more time to do this but soon realise that they are sadly out of practice.  Being cash rich they will take up classes to learn how to cook well.  So my prediction is that there will be an exponential growth of adult cooking class attendees.

Prediction 3 – Perpetual Websites [made September 2005]

In the future egoists like myself will want to will the responsibility of maintaining their presence on the Internet to a trustee.  I predict that there will be a market for perpetual web hosting.  Currently, http://www.webperpetually.com and other derivatives such as .co.uk are still available for purchase.  You heard it here first.

Prediction 4 – Face Transplants [made September 2005]

In the future face transplants from deceased celebrities will attract bidding wars.  Other face altering transplants and procedures will become routine and identities will be freely swapped.  This will lead to societies’ reassessment of identity and people will be judged on who they are plus what they can and have achieved and not by looks, which will have become stale and androgynous.  For further argument refer to my article Face Transplants.

Final Prediction [for now] [made September 2005]

In the future one, if not more, of my ideas will spawn a fiscal return.  Try to guess which one.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Opinions section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 15 May 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 in Sep 2005

Looking Through Gary Gilmore’s Eyelashes

Face On

[Originally written in 2005]

The History

During mid September 2005 a surgical team made an announcement that they were to become the first to carry out a human face transplant and it unleashed a whole raft of press comment about the morals of such a procedure.

Too many commentators have taken the weak journalistic option of trying to stir up outdated, backward and religious prejudices by suggesting that there will be a moral outcry.  As usual this counters the brilliant scientific advancements heralded in these new procedures.

The additional twist this time is identity and the allegedly dubious grounds that taking someone’s face will mean adopting their identity and perhaps personality.  This is despite the surgeon’s assurances that the face is shaped by the bones, not the skin.

However, this does not deter those who think that the procedures could lead to cosmetic demands.

My personal belief is that if it did so what?  If someone is prepared to fund research through vanity then let them carry on.

And so what if it changes the way someone looks or raises questions about identity?  What rule says that identity has to be fixed?  If they bring out such a law I’ll grow a beard.  And so will my wife.

Famous Faces

Taking the arguments about altering identity a little further I note that one interesting thought that hasn’t yet been raised until now is the spectre that one day a celebrity may offer their face after their demise.  Think about the consequences for a while.

Currently playing on some sub-standard channel on my Freeview box is a programme called ‘I Want a Famous Face’.  This is the latest in the current trend of titillating, voyeuristic cosmetic surgery programmes that follows desperate wannabes sadly seeking to look like a celebrity because their own self-esteem is too low.

A natural extension to this idea is having the actual face they so desire.  And bidding wars could send the value of deceased celebrity faces sky high.  After all their fiscal worth in life is elevated, why not in death?

Been There Done That

These concepts are not particularly new.  ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ was a song was released following the real life transplantation of a dead killer’s donated eyes.

This spawned a fictionalised Hollywood film called ‘The Eyes of Laura Mars’ suggesting that the transplanted eyes held secrets about how Laura met her demise.

‘Face Off’ was a grand Hollywood blockbuster featuring Nicholas Cage and John Travolta who as goodies and baddies respectively routinely swapped identities during the movie to maintain a high level of thriller element and not a small amount of confusion.

Even before that, in the grand old days when everyone was in black and white a film was released called ‘The Hands Of Orlac’ which featured a talented concert pianist who having lost his hands in an accident had a pair transplanted from a deceased killer.  The twist this time was that the hands were more concerned with stabbing than tinkering with the ivories.

The Future

So what of the future?

I predict that this will become commonplace.

I’ll further suggest that there will be routine face swapping.  Maybe a business face for the day and a party face for the evening.  Presently women change their hair colour, length and shape and tint their eyes with contact lenses so changing faces is a logical extension.

Maybe friends will have fun swapping faces to confuse their parents.

Of course, society will gradually learn to distrust external features and we will eventually be judged on who we are and not what we look like.

And me personally?  I have never wanted to alter my face, my desire is technically easier but way more complex.  I don’t want to look like Brad Pitt, I want everyone to think that my look is as good as Brad’s.

Oh, and I’m thinking about putting in a bid for Jennifer Aniston’s face.

Not that I want to wear it – just sit on it.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Opinions section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 1 May 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 in Sep 2005
The world’s first partial face transplant with parts from a stranger was claimed to be carried out on Isabelle Dinoire in Sep 2005 who had her face mauled by her dog.  The work was carried out by Dr Bernard Devauchelle, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Benoit Lengelé, a Belgian plastic surgeon, and Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France.  The operation was successful but her immune system’s response was difficult and she eventually died in 2016 following a long illness
An earlier transplant was reported by The Guardian on a 9 year old Indian boy, Sandeep Kaur, who had his face ripped off by a thresher machine in 1994.  His mother’s quick reactions allowed reconstruction of his own face by Dr Abraham Thomas, one of India’s top microsurgeons.  This is recognised as the first face transplant.  The Guardian reported that in 2004 Sandeep was training to be a nurse
‘I Want A Famous Face’ is an American documentary reality TV programme first shown on MTV which originally ran between 2004 and 2005
Gary Gilmore was an American double murderer who was successfully prosecuted and eventually executed in Utah in 1977.  Within hours two people had received transplants of his corneas
‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ by songwriter T.V. Smith is a single performed by punk band The Adverts produced in 1977
‘The Eyes of Laura Mars’ is a 1978 film written by John Carpenter and David Zelag Goodman
‘Face Off’ is a 1997 film written by Mike Webb and Michael Colleary
‘The Hands of Orlac’ is a 1924 film written by Maurice Renard
Jennifer Aniston is lovely

Water Opinion

I don’t want to appear to be a bit of a wet fortnight but don’t you just hate the privatisation of essential services such as power, gas, telecommunications, water and hamburger joints.

Well perhaps the last one would be a good idea but that is an entirely new subject for a rant.  Here I want to bemoan the hypocrisy of privatised water companies.

Since privatisation the water companies have been taking the p1ss in more ways than they were obliged to do.

Why have we been subject to increasing restrictions, poorer supply and inflated bills?

Why, for instance, in our green and pleasant land [read wet] do we suffer hosepipe bans as soon as there are three sunny days in a row?

And why is the water mains pressure so weak you can no longer take a shower standing up?

The answer is ‘fat-cat’ profits.

Consider for a moment that you are that fat-cat executive on the board of one of the water companies.

What do you think the biggest priority is? – Fuelling your customers.

Nah, bleeding them dry is a much better business proposition and doing it is easy.

Firstly, you create an image that water is more precious than gold.  Just wash over the fact that the product you sell for profit actually falls free from the sky.

Feed stories about drought and waste then try adding a bit of guilt about the environment for good measure and soon everyone will start to use less.

It would also be wise to shift blame firmly onto your customers claiming that their desire to live in cities makes it difficult to serve them.  Gloss over the fact that when packed together it is cheaper to serve their collective needs, or the fact that most cities are built on rivers.

This all saves the cost of new reservoirs you see.  In fact you may be able to sell off some existing ones for prime building plot charges.

And whatever you do don’t invest too much in desalination plant technology, that will just remind your customers that the damn stuff floats all around their country in huge quantities.

Of course a few will try to persuade you that it is your leaky old network that wastes the most and you may consider doing something about that.  Or you could reduce pressure to the absolute minimum – as set by your colleagues in the watchdog that your own industry set up.  That should delay expenditure for a few more years whilst your valuable stocks and shares mature.

You might even suggest ‘fun’ items like sharing a bath, or play on your customer’s basic laziness by suggesting it is good not washing the car or tending to the five-hundred pounds worth of shrubs in their garden.

You could even encourage the manufacturing industry that sells loos that only partly flushing is a good idea and that to add a brick in the cistern is a sensible measure.  That should make the customers use less of your liquid gold.

Finally up the ante so much that government, or as you see it your old mates who got you the job in the first place, raise legislation to put a water meter in every property.

Obviously, the metered supply will have to reflect, on average, the non-metered rates, but as no one but you know how much the average is you can easily charge more than the average for everyone, no matter how frugal they are.

The downside may be disease and pestilence but it won’t affect you, unless the proletariat happen to brush up against you in Harrods.

Another small problem will be that occasionally you will have to flush some water down the drains just to free them up as the network was designed with actual use in mind.

Then, as a piece-de-resistance, you could drop the quality of processing – just enough to not kill or poison too many but persuade the rest to buy bottled water instead of the ‘free’ stuff from the tap.  If you are really good you could even bottle the stuff yourself and make even more cash.  After all the fool in the street is happy to pay more for water than petrol and water doesn’t even have the excuse of 85% tax.

Mind you the most surprising thing about all this is why you ‘fat-cats’ are involved at all.  I always thought cats hated water.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Opinions section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 6 Mar 2018 but first published in the website in Mar 2005.
The image is of the author as a young boy swimming into the distance off The Isle Of Wight and was originally added in Version 3 of the website in Mar 2010.  This amount of water still exists today, 20 years later.  OK, forty years.

Favourite TV and Films

Celluloid Choices

Given the amount of time that I dedicate to watching TV (don’t we all) I found it very difficult to put together a list worthy of assembling into a top ten.  In fact only a few series stand out and no individual programmes.

It’s not that I’m particularly difficult to please.  Most nights there is ample entertainment or education on offer but very little remains in the mind for years afterwards.

However, this page would be pointless without making an attempt so check out my choices below.

Films are a much easier subject to schedule.  Good films do leave an impression and I’m spoilt for choice and our cupboards are full of reminders in the shape of DVDs lest we forget.

So scroll down to see what lit my rocket on the big screen.

Television

Thunderbirds

Vince playing with Thunderbird 2
My fascination with Thunderbird 2 goes back to the sixties

My first choice is from my childhood and shares nothing in common with the big screen version.  At least that’s my opinion judging by the shape of Thunderbird 2 on the movie posters.  Although I must admit that, as at the time of writing I haven’t seen the film version.  My memories go back to the puppetry of Gerry Andersson.

I suppose Mr. Andersson only got away with it because it was the sixties and we all thought we’d be in rockets by 2004.  The rockets were fantastic and Thunderbird 2 (the real original version) is still my aeroplane of choice but the characters were abysmal.

Even at five years old I saw that.  Those lips.  Still, it’s nice that Alan Hanson got another job afterward leaving the show.

Of all the heroic characters I most associated with Brains, not because he was clever but because he looked like a dork.

And I’d still love to drive FAB 1.  Yes, the Rolls not the 2004 pink Ford (groan) Thunderbird.

Just one criticism of the programme.  Why does everyone say FAB?  I never recalled this as a catchphrase, and still do not know what it means.

Blue Peter

My second choice is also from my childhood, it just isn’t the same now.

My era was the John Noakes, Valerie Singleton and Peter Purves years.  I recall Blue Peter being the first programme for me to call my own.  I knew what time it was on and always made an effort to watch it.  Other members of my family used to have their programmes and I had mine.  It seemed a lot more interesting than my Dad’s stuffy Panorama.

I particularly recall an episode in which John Noakes went deep into the Amazon forest and met the locals who got him razzled on their local version of snake-bite and coke and tried to persuade him to jump from a tree attached to a fixed twine.  This was their idea of a manly initiation and in the spirit of these sort of things the bravest were commended by the tribe, although the best appreciation was saved for those that actually broke their neck.  I can’t recall if John Noakes did the jump, or if Shep did it tied to his lead, but this stuck in my mind as it pre-dated bungee jumping by years.

The decline of Blue Peter started when Valerie Singleton was replaced, sorry Leslie Judd but you just weren’t Valerie.  A big disappointment for a growing lad.

Of course, all of my favourite presenters have now moved on.  Valerie announced that she was a lesbian and started making serious programmes about money (presumably for my Dad, lucky man), Peter Purves got a part time job as a dog show presenter, which presumably kept the wolves from the door once his starring roles in Wacky Races had dried up and John Noakes, as far as I can tell sailed up the Orinoco in a coracle never to be seen again.

However, I may be a bit out on these facts.

24

Quite a leap from the heady days of 1960’s British TV to this modern all action American series.  Just goes to show what a load of crumbs that I’ve watched over the years.  But when I tried to think of any influential programmes in the past this frenetic thriller leapt out.

I’m talking about the first series mainly, although the second kept up the quality, it just wasn’t so fresh and new.

As for the third series it got swallowed up by (spit) Sky TV so I haven’t yet had the pleasure.

For those who are not familiar with this adrenalin rush of a programme imaging watching three TV’s at once whilst reading a book and setting your hair on fire and you’ll be somewhere there.

Keifer Sutherland was always an also-ran jobbing actor until this series and I now look upon him as my first choice in a crisis.

The supporting cast was equally excellent, even, and I’m going to be slated by the fans for this, Jack’s daughter.

Particularly outstanding was the presidential portrayal of the President (how else would he be portrayed?) by Dennis Haysbert although his whining wife was a pain.

The West Wing

Vince by The White House
Not sure which way was west

I love words.  You may have gathered this from this page alone.  And The West Wing is full of them delivered at such a cracking pace.

There have been other intellectual dramas but this one, more than any I can recall, does not wait for the audience to keep up.  If you miss a bit, tough, you just ain’t got what it takes to be in the White House with the team.

My favourite character is C.J. played sexily and intelligently by Allison Janney.  And she should be proud to take such an accolade from this fine group.  Clearly a demonstration of how quality is contagious.

However the true star of the show must be the creator and main writer, Aaron Sorkin.  Aaron, you are a writing genius.

So, am I West Wing White House material?  No way – I have a life.

The Green Wing

When looking for a comedy to include in my list I initially thought I was spoilt for choice.

Classics such as Some Mothers Do ‘ave Em, Fawlty Towers and the Blackadder series were strong contenders and programmes I’ll watch time and again but true timeless classics – I don’t think so.  They do not rise significantly above others such as Red Dwarf, The Young Ones or even The Good Life (mainly watched time and again for Felicity Kendal).  An excess of choice perhaps, or just that the standard is so high.

So I have chosen, somewhat illogically, my latest favourite instead.  After all, new comedy is really the best flavour.

The Green Wing shares little in common with the West variety above but does break genuine new ground.  Although set in a hospital, a venue that is hardly in short supply on British TV, and without much of a narrative the programme still seems fresh and exciting, as well as hilariously funny at times.

The edited pace changes suit the format of a comedy where some things need relishing in detail and others can be sped up to get to the next comedy moment.

It helps that most of the actors are relative unknowns so you don’t get the tedious David Jason’s in it factor, each actor can be seen as the character rather than the personality.

If you haven’t seen it catch it soon.  It will be repeated several times I’m sure and like Fawlty Towers that is a good thing.

Favourite TV Programme

So what is my favourite of all time?  My vote goes to The West Wing.

Nothing on TV comes close.  Nor anything in real life by the look of it.

Gutter TV

And finally, the worst TV programme I can think of.

My first thoughts are the modern ‘gentle’ comedies.  By gentle read not funny.  These are the modern day Sunday night lightweight dramas, usually starring Alan Davies, a quite funny man when he does stand-up.

Or if they are even more ‘gentle’ then starring Sarah Lancashire.

But none of this vacuous TV wallpaper can top the condescending John Craven’s Newsround.  I’m starting to yawn now.

Films

The mark of a great film is the enjoyment when watching it over and over again.  Repeated showings engrain the movie into the psyche and thus it becomes a classic.

This is a difficult task for the films that are story driven as familiarity destroys any surprise that had such an impact when the film was first shown.  That is why there are so many action films in my list.

And so few comedies.

Airplane

It is a true credit to the makers of Airplane that it features at all in this list.  But the litmus test of a film being accepted on repeat performances stacks up as there always seems to be something else to note when this film is played.

Quite possibly the funniest of all films.

Bridget Jones’ Diary

On pure comedy this film would not have featured.  The laughs are not clever enough to sustain repeated performances so the credit for this film’s inclusion is in the performances of the characters, both central and supporting.

It is a feel good movie and I can’t fault something that makes me feel good time and time again.

Con Air

Some critics have argued that this movie is nothing more than an adrenaline rush with no depth and poorly constructed two-dimensional characters.  Even if it is – so what.  I’ve never regretted watching it.

I’m quite happy to leave my brain switched off if the rest of my aural and visual senses are so well rewarded.

James Bond

Vince stood in Tuxedo 1
The name’s Blond.  James Blond

I thought carefully about including one of the Bond action films in my list and realised that individually some are very good, if not great but as a series it is up there with the best.

My favourite is usually the latest and unlike most commentators my favourite Bond is Timothy Dalton.  Sean and Roger are just so yesterday and Pierce’s version has no edge.

However, one nagging doubt remains.  Arnold Schwartzeneggar’s True Lies ‘Bond’ film is more watchable.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park, for me, was the beginning of modern epic cinema.

As a child I loved the rubber dinosaurs of Ray Harryhausen but it took a theatre’s leap of faith to really believe in the effects.

Even modern efforts such as the re-make of King Kong left me wondering at the animatronics rather than the gorilla.

Jurassic Park was one of the first films I could really immerse myself into and believe that the monsters were real.  And I do like to feel that sense of fantasy.

A first in effects, lifetime memorable scenes all coupled to a fascinating subject just about makes up for the ‘oh, look the cute kids are in danger’ slushiness of the script.

Life of Brian

Another amusing film worth repeated viewings, this time set against the biggest myth of modern times.

I don’t take religion seriously at all so a parody should fall flat on its face.  The fact that it doesn’t is testament to the inspired writings of the Monty Python team.

I was just too young to appreciate their TV shows (I had to go to bed at nine, or I’d be a very, very naughty boy!) so there wasn’t even a comfort and familiarity to ease me into the film but I got it all the same.

Now, if only they could do the same for the writings of the Koran.

Midnight Express

For a long time I used to class this film as my favourite of all time.  I loved the realism and haunting Ennio Morriconi score.  Now there have been so many better movies that I don’t make this claim but its previous position should earn it a place in this list.

Midnight Express is probably the least know film in this list and if you haven’t seen it yet get hold of a copy, you will not be disappointed.

Mind you, it was on the TV recently and I watched Big Brother instead.  Oops.

Reservoir Dogs

The only thing that could improve Quentin Tarantino’s blood fest Reservoir Dogs would be a menu option on the DVD to allow the viewer to see the film time-sequenced.

I am not a fan of flashback concepts and the Dog’s is riddled with time discontinuity.

I would just like to know if it would still have as much impact as the director’s cut.

Or even Michael Madsen’s cut.

Ronin

Ronin has the best car chase scene ever.  Better than The Driver, or Bullit.  Do I need to state another reason to keep it in this list?

The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects is one of those rare films that having seen it you would like to watch it through again immediately. the clever script is wonderfully played out by a talented team of actors, engaging the viewer’s attention.

The only downside being Benicio del Toro’s unintelligible accent.  Method acting too far I feel.

Top Gun

Tomcat
Tom’s cat?

Possibly the best film ever and I include ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ in that assumption.

Wonderful Life had no aerial jet dogfights for one thing.

One of the most quotable movies, filled with the phrases that became the cliches.

Tight story-line plotting, economy of language, foot tapping music and stunning visuals.

Top Gun is so good I still look out for films by the same producers.  And that is rare, usually I judge a film by itself not it’s actor, director or key-grip.

Favourite Film

So what is my favourite of all time?  My vote goes to Top Gun.

Cheesy perhaps, but I like the taste of cheese.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the about section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 11 Feb 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005, with photos added in 2018
The first photo shows the author in 1966 playing with his new 5th birthday present, a plastic model of Thunderbird 2
The second photo shows the author stood outside the barriers fencing off The White House, in Washington, North America in May 2015
The third photo shows the author dressed in a Tuxedo whilst stood in a cabin on board the QE2 in October 2005
The final photo show an US Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat, designation AE 212 in flight and was taken around 1975

Public Announcements

“‘Hum’. ‘Crack’.  This is a public announcement.  Will all those ‘pop’ who are ‘crackle’ please ‘fizz’ so that ‘silence’, ‘pop’ and ‘fizz’ to ‘crackle’.  Thankyou.”

In these days of modern communication, where you can speak to your friend in Coventry or Kuala Lumpa without distortion (baring the midlands accent, that is) why can’t a local public speaker be understood?  They are only connected by wire. Hardly, cutting edge technology.

However, this article isn’t really about the poor quality of sound, but the poor quality of words.  All the quotes below are real world examples and the culprits are named and shamed.

Message on South West Trains on nearing Clapham Junction, that applies to most station platforms that are shorter than the actual train.  “Would customers alighting at Clapham Junction, please use the first five carriages…”  Doh! Should that be ‘…one of the first five’?

The British Government’s latest ‘Kill your speed’ campaign.  What on earth is that all about?  How on earth do you kill speed?  It doesn’t possess life so how can it be killed?  And the roadsign that accompanies the message.  It depicts a hand lowering onto a speed limit.  So how does that work then?  How does putting a hand down kill speed?  Lifting a foot would be more appropriate.  The only vehicles that have hand throttles are motorbikes.  And putting the hand down is more akin to the method of speeding up!  I suppose some cars adapted for disability use may have hand throttles.  Perhaps the Government is really targeting these arch criminals!

Finally, I recently noticed an advertising slogan proudly plastered in huge lettering in Marks and Spencer.  ‘Our bread is baked from authentic recipes from around the globe.’  As opposed to what?  Does a non-authentic recipe exist?  Is anything baked somewhere that isn’t around the globe?  The copywriters really earned their crust on this one!

Author: Vince Poynter
From the opinions sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 4 Jan 2018, but first published in version 1.02 in Jan 2004.

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.

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