Saturday, 24 July 2010

Stick your iPad...

See this is the sort of thing I'd buy for a dollar.

Can't be doing with that shoddy hipster pretense that £stupid on some cynical piece of tech-envy was 'money well spent' because it's got, like, a 'great form factor' - or, more irritatingly, is a 'thing of beauty'. So to go the opposite way seems the only common sense thing. Also, who couldn't fail to be consumer-inspired by this ringing endorsement?:
An earlier cheap laptop plan by the same ministry came to nothing.
Yes it's an etch-a-sketch sold by a Bangladeshi version of Del Boy, and wouldn't all those feckin' fingerprints just spam your OCD to new levels? But as soon as they sort out a suitable piece of fruit for a logo (mango or papaya would be my punt) and an arbitrary noun to stick the letter 'i' in front of (iBacus perhaps, or iKnowitsnotapplebutitsnotapisstakepriceeither) I'll be sending my pre-order straight off to Mr. Sibal. I shouldn't be surprised if he's got a relative or two in need of a short fiscal stopover in my bank on the way to reciprocal riches either.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

What's Broken About Britain #1 - Paint.

What colour's that then - baby plop?

I'll tell you what the problem is. Paint isn't paint any more. From the minute a kitten can't choke on the fumes and they start telling you to wash your brush in water it's all over. They've won.

Example one: Last week I needed to paint a little portion of the front of the house. I go to generic DIY floggist (Focus I think it was) and start scanning the tins. Don't want indoor, obviously. Something that'll cover well and outlast the weather for a few years (let's be realistic and say five). Outdoor paint, and there it is: Crown Outdoor White Satin gloss or whatever. Fourteen quid for a tramp's pocketful.

So I'm on the roof and it goes on well enough, but I spill a bit off the brush and it lands on the porch step. Better clean that off later or it'll never shift, I grumble. Anyway, about an hour later after I'd done I remember the splash. Go for the white spirit from the shed to clean it off and lo and behold there's no blob any more. It's disappeared. We've had a ubiquitous shower of rain which has completely erased it. I mean, what the hell? Then, I'm stunned to realise all the brush needs is a waggle under the tap. Even my fingers come clean with the barest splash. This is meant to be gloss paint, so again I say, WHAT THE HELL?

It's against slipping in principle.
Example two: Decking paint. Ours tends to get a bit slippy and algaefied with all the rain in Mancland, etc. So, non-slip decking paint. It appears there is a variety for just that occasion. In fact, there is just the one product on the shelves of B&Q, but it's Cuprinol, so what can go wrong eh? Cuprinol Anti-Slip Decking Stain to be precise, with 'microbeads' so there. Get caught up in the excitement and even buy one of those  broom handles with a wanky pad on the bottom so it feels more like swabbing the deck and less like inheriting the knees of a veteran carpet-layer. £28.99 for two and a half litres and we need at least two tins. Still, what price your granny going tits by the tool-shed eh?

It goes on one sunny day last June. One hour of pleasure and three more of torture as it takes to the wood like a reluctant rapist. By hour two the broom handle is slipping out of its worn hole; even the rape analogy is starting to turn sour. Still, it's done now. No more trips to casualty as it's good for at least, ooh, hang on - that's the one thing it doesn't "say on the tin", and what it does say on the tin I notice, for the first time, is 'anti-slip' rather than 'non-slip'. But still, come on - Cuprinol, £28.99 times two. Get what you pay for, etc.

Over the course of autumn it becomes clear its anti-slip properties come at a price. These microbeads obviously work by virtue of rubbing off onto the soles of the slippee's shoes, a law of diminishing returns that any fule kno can't be sustained and, by last week, not only is the bare wood shining through again, but there's a lovely tinge of algae to offset the carbon footprint of a touring Liberal Democrat.

So there you go. Can't get solvent-based paint for love nor money. And I bet my Grandad was bemoaning the exact same thing in the equivalent of an internet blog (labour club snug) forty years ago after they got rid of lead and his railings rusted up.

What really annoys me is that the paint companies must be in heaven. Their products clearly don't last (and I'm sure they'd cite health and safety or some bollocks if you asked for your fumes back) but you still get charged extra for all that eco-friendliness of water-washing that will need doing again in twelve months! In fact, I've just done it again today, using some old stuff from the dark recesses of the shed that I had to pop a skin to get to.

So up yours ICI.


Tsunami's the name. No idea why.

We went to the swimming baths today and they've changed quite a bit from the sweat-soaked repression-caves I remember. Unisex changing rooms with saronged Bohemians of both genders discreetly massaging conditioner into their tiny pubic mounds. Showers with sensible water flow and hot/cold adjustment. Real prospect of not shivering your balls off in a hydrochloric slick of snot and hair bobbles and worse. Water temperature of 30 degrees - meaning no huddling with other pockets of bathers around the warm vents like those fish that pick eczema off peoples' backs in the Red sea. Speaking of which: no wading through coral reefs of corn plasters and flaked-off verrucas. Alertly casual lifeguards with a definite air of possessing better credentials than grade C Biology and a subscription to Upskirts Monthly.

Then, just as we're acclimatising to this brave new world, this forty stone bloke in a surrealist Speedo thong wipes out three kids with his deep-end tsunami while a guy behind him unstraps a prosthetic leg and disappears into his frothy wake like they've been practising it for the next weirdolympics.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...