The Befouled Weakly News

9 May 2010

So, the nation has spoken and, ignoring all hanging chads, the results are in! No one won! It’s one of those elections where “None of the above” actually came first. Indeed, it might reasonably be argued that everyone lost.

Vote - don't sit on the fencePoor old Gordon certainly lost. Dumped into the thick of it when things began to go pear-shaped for Blair, he had to try and pick up the pieces and, in his particularly charmless manner, failed miserably. Poor old David Cameron, standing against the most unpopular Prime Minister since Thatcher and pushing on an open door still could not persuade two-thirds of the electorate to trust him, leaving him just short of an overall majority. And, poor old Nick Clegg and the Lib-Dems found themselves squeezed between the two major parties once again.

One thing is clear (again) – the “first past the post” electoral system employed in this country is a nonsense but neither of the two larger parties is remotely interested in altering it. The Conservatives gained 36% of the popular vote, Labour 29 and the Lib-Dems 23. Under the present scheme, that translates into 306 seats for the Conservatives, 258 for Labour and a miserly 57 for the Lib Dems. If one does the maths and allocates the seats according to the proportion of the vote they each secured, the Conservatives should have 235 seats (72 fewer than they won), Labour should have 188 seats (70 fewer) and the Lib Dems 149 (92 more seats than they have “won”). As I say, it’s not surprising that no one other than the Lib Dems wants to investigate alternatives; so far Cameron is promising Clegg a “commission” to investigate changes which is quite a way from the sort of price the Lib Dems would like to extract as their reward for supporting the Conservatives in government – a hard sell at the best of times given their very opposing views on Europe, taxation and social justice. It will be fun to watch what happens.

As mentioned in previous dispatches, we had a most enjoyable time with Ching Ryan last weekend. We strolled through the countryside, visited Oxford and ambled through the bluebell woods at Badby. Unfortunately, the cold winter we’ve had meant that the bluebells are about a week later than usual this year and so the display was not as fine as it can be.

Ching & Penny
Molly in the bluebells



We also took advantage of Ching’s visit to make our way up to London on Thursday for an adventure before meeting up with her for dinner. We discovered that the Grand Designs exhibition was on in Docklands so we spent much of the day there. This is, as the name might suggest, a “design” show so there are lots of interesting products in various sections – kitchens, bathrooms, general house building, gardening, furniture, etc. Even though we’re not doing any designing or building in the near future, it’s still good fun to wander around looking at all the gorgeous and glorious stuff.

From there we went back into the centre of town and made our way to Trafalgar Square where we found a particularly comfortable patch of grass just in front of the National Gallery on which to recline in the sunshine for a modest moment or several. Nothing like tromping around an exhibition to tire you out! So, after a brief snooze we spent an hour or so browsing the National Gallery before it was time to meet up with Ching at Wahaca, one of our favourites (if not, indeed, our favourite) place to eat in London. I’ve written about Wahaca before but it does Mexican “street food” which is similar in many ways to tapas in Spain. We shared a mountain of snacks and emerged feeling comfortably bloated (well, I did anyway – the girls were undoubtedly much more restrained than I was).

And, if that wasn’t enough excitement for one year, on Friday evening we had to drag our tired backsides out again, this time for a wine-tasting dinner with friends Dave and Val. They are a couple who have featured in past dispatches – they lived and worked in Paris for many years and now, suitably retired, have returned to the Banbury area. They still go to France frequently and each time Dave comes back laden with a considerable quantity of half-decent wines. From time to time they will organise a wine-tasting meal where Dave will pair several bottles of wine and we indulge ourselves in a bit of blind tasting. He’ll prepare some basic notes about what we should be looking for and it’s good fun to try and taste the differences between very similar wines. Last night we had two white Chinon wines which were strikingly different; one was very young and fruity and another was older and hence smoother and fuller. We also compared red wines from both sides of the river in Bordeaux including a Margaux and a St Emilion (which Mom and Dad will remember from our outing in those environs all those years ago). Good fun in spite of the somewhat thick head the morning after.

And still, our social whirl is not yet finished – we are out to lunch this afternoon with the friends who looked after Molly when we did our west coast/east coast expedition last autumn. It seems the kids want to see Molly again and we got invited to make up the numbers and, of course, to provide transport for Molly. It’s all go!

And finally, finally - let's wish all our respective Mothers a most marvellously memorable Mother's Day. I certainly do love mine.

Love to you all,


A fisherman from the city was out fishing on a lake in a small boat. He noticed another man in a small boat open his tackle box and take out a mirror. Being curious, the man rowed over and asked, "What is the mirror for?"

"That's my secret way to catch fish," said the other man. "Shine the mirror on the top of the water. The fish notice the spot of sun on the water above and they swim to the surface. Then I just reach down and net them and pull them into the boat."

"Wow! Does that really work?"

"You bet it does."

"Would you be interested in selling that mirror? I'll give you $30 for it."

"Well, okay."

After the money was transferred, the city fisherman asked, "By the way, how many fish have you caught this week?"

"You're the sixth," he said.

This is a variation on one that Adam sent me recently. Regrettably, his version was far too risqué for the Befouled Weakly News

Neville the Aborigine had been out of work for a long time and when he was offered the job at the council as a garbage collector he decided to take it up. On his first day things were going great until he arrived at one house and noticed there was no wheelie bin out front.

Neville thought to himself, "I wanna do a good job and not get fired from here but if they find out I missed one house then I will get fired."

So he went up to the door and knocked on it.

To his surprise it was a fellow Aborigine who answered. Neville breathed a sight of relief and said to the other bloke, "Where's ya bin?"

The man replied, "I bin on 'olidays,"

Neville then said, "Na, mate, where's ya dust bin?"

"I dust bin on 'olidays I tell ya," was the reply.

Neville, slightly frustrated, says, "Na, ya idiot -- where's ya wheelie bin?"

The other bloke looked round to see who might be listening. "Well," he said. "I weally bin in jail -- but I'm tellin' everyone I bin on 'olidays, eh!"

An unemployed man went to apply for a job with Microsoft as a janitor. The manager there arranges for him to take an aptitude test. After the test, the manager says, "You will be employed as a janitor at minimum wage, $8.55 an hour. Let me have your e-mail address so that I can send you a form to complete and tell you where to report for work on your first day."

Taken aback, the man protests that he has neither a computer nor an e-mail address. To this the MS manager replies, "Well, then, that means that you virtually don't exist and can therefore hardly expect to be employed by Microsoft."

Stunned, the man leaves. Not knowing where to turn and having only $10.00 in his wallet, he buys a 25 lb. flat of tomatoes at the supermarket and in less than two hours, he sell all the tomatoes individually at 100 percent profit.

Repeating the process several times more that day, he ends up with almost $160.00 before going to sleep that night. It dawns on him that he could quite easily make a living selling tomatoes.

Getting up early every day and going to bed late, he multiplies his profits quickly. After a short time he acquires a cart to transport several dozen boxes of tomatoes, only to have to trade it in again so that he can buy a pickup truck to support his expanding business. By the end of the second year, he is the owner of a fleet of pickup trucks and manages a staff of a hundred former unemployed people, all selling tomatoes.

Planning for the future of his wife and children, he decides to buy some life insurance. Consulting with an insurance adviser, he picks an insurance plan to fit his new circumstances. At the end of the telephone conversation, the adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically. When the man replies that he has no e-mail, the adviser is stunned. "What, you don't have e-mail? How on earth have you managed to amass such wealth without the internet, e-mail and e-commerce? Just imagine where you could be now if you had been connected to the internet from the very start!"

"Well," replied the tomato millionaire, "I would be a janitor at Microsoft!"

By definition, a fable must have a moral. This one has four:

1. The internet, e-mail and e-commerce do not need to rule your life.

2. If you don't have e-mail, but work hard, you can still become a millionaire.

3. Since you found this story on the Internet, you may be closer to becoming a janitor than you are to becoming a millionaire.

4. If you do have a computer and e-mail, you have probably already helped a bunch of other guys at Microsoft get rich.

Back to the Befouled Weakly News