Things I just don’t get

Football managers’ clip boards and jotting pads Or absence thereof.  Why don’t they have them ?  Men on £3m a year running multi-million enterprises on, literally, the back of an envelope.  Oh, and the black arm-bands that footballers wear in tribute to a recent death or tragedy: why are they always gaffer tape ?
The Archers Too ghastly even to analyse.  I suppose it helps some people get through the day, but then, so does cocaine and train-spotting.
Radio traffic bulletins A national radio programme, covering a potential audience of 60 millions, is interrupted by news of one way traffic in a bridge in Drummacgillycuddy that will affect maybe thirty people.  Incidents occurring in more populous areas are, in my experience, cleared up before they are announced on air: so it you are advised to ‘avoid the southbound A1”, you can be pretty sure it will be the quickest way to go.  Notice also that there are rarely announcements of public transport disruption, unless there is a strike in London, in which case it’s headline news.  Yet cancelling a train from Sheffield or Manchester to London will affect several hundred people, unlike a bridge in Drummamacgillycuddy.
Smart cars Once I booked a car with  German rental company, selecting “VW Polo” as the preferred size (i.e. the cheapest).  The rental clerk was delighted that she had managed to get us a Smart car.  Have you seen them ?  There was not enough space for two suitcases – even if you used the back seat.  How can a car company charge more for a car which is smaller than any competitor ?
Rugby players with shaven heads I know rugby.  I’ve played rugby for twenty years – and in the front row, where the dark arts are at work.  Believe me, it’s a game where your head needs all the padding it can get.  I think I get the idea of the shaven head – conceals baldness (er, not) and makes you look savage.  But looking fierce only works if you are fierce, which people find out pretty quick, and one thing that doesn’t contribute is the length of your hair.
TV quiz competitors clapping themselves When did that start ?  What does it mean ?  Look how delighted I am I have shown myself not to be a total idiot ?
PFI Loses money – claims of austerity people to want to ease burdens on children – hah !
Flashing electronic signs around football  pitches Is this the only entertainment industry that wants to divert attention from what it is doing (apart from magicians maybe) ?
Fortune favours the brave Er, no it doesn’t
Historical dramas Why do 1930 dramas (e.g. Poirot) always take place in 1930s houses ?  Did Victorian villas not exist in the 1930s ?  And why are the cars always so clean ?
Police interviews in TV dramas Police seem content to interview one suspect in front of another.  They interview people walking down the street, or standing in doorways.  Suspects have the confidence to say “Are we done ? I have another appointment” and march out of the room. Is any of this remotely plausible ?



  • Bill Nighy – an actor that makes Roger Moore look like Gielgud, but scrubs up well in a fitted suit.  Clever to sell him as the thinking women’s crumpet.
  • Gambling on line I guess the idea was this: if people are willing to buy pension schemes from the big banks, then why not get them to do something that is even more certain to lose money, and dress it up as if it is grown-up fun and danger.  Like swimming with sharks.  Which it basically is.
  • BMW 1 series – a car that isn’t as good as a Ford Focus, costs £4,000 more once the extras are counted, and the bloke who designed the front never met the guy who designed the back. Prestige badge ? Hmm.
  • Benjamin Disraeli obstructed attempts to resolve the Irish problem, and got in the way of fair votes until he thought he could gain from it. He voted for taxes on food imports.  Buttered up Queen Victoria to sell imperialism (so Michael Gove loves him).  Compared with Gladstone, the most vertically challenged of opportunistic pigmies.  But the guy wore cute suits, so he remains a historians’ favourite.
  • Withnail and I Two boorish twits go round the country offending people and getting drunk.  Add some dialogue that might get a small laugh in an undergraduate pub night, then market it as subtle and surreal.
  • Local news bulletins This region has the population and wealth of many sovereign states.  It has magnificent scenery and faces extraordinary social and economic challenges.  But I think if we cut the budget, take away the talented people, and rely on second hand PR handouts, we can create local programming that is so boring no one will want to watch
  • Keyless ignition To what problem was this a solution ? People are always losing their keys – at home.  At work.  In their handbags.  But they didn’t lose them in their car, because there used to be an ignition slot that they have to put the key in to make the car start.  Now we can get around this by allowing the car to start when there’s a key vaguely around somewhere – the driver’s pocket, the glove compartment, a child’s stomach.  This at last means there is no part of their life in which people cannot lose their key.
  • Cushions It is absurd to spend more money to make a sofa that is already expensive less comfortable, with padding that digs in to your back and stops you sitting upright. But every home has them.  Even bloody mine.
  • Ed Balls Deeply involved with Gordon Brown’s worst excesses. Annoyed colleagues, and still does so.  No fresh ideas about the slump (No, Ed, taxing bonuses may be fun but it is not a long term economic strategy).  Can’t best Osborne in an argument, despite the fact that Osborne is hopelessly wrong and failing drastically. What is he for ?
  • Second hands on watches Not useful because no-one in a job where seconds matter would use ‘em. But they do have amusing effects when people mistake the time after looking quickly at their watch.  They also make the design less elegant, and add cost.  But – in the age of competition and choice – you can’t buy a bloody watch without one.


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