Say No To Toddlers – 1970s Public Information Film
Jul09

Say No To Toddlers – 1970s Public Information Film

Graham Weevilface is not a name that’s particularly well-known these days but in the mid 1970s he was one of the leading producers of public information films on behalf of the British government. He was a recipient of numerous awards for films such as Danger! Slow Worm! and Chalk Cliffs: White Trauma but it’s his 1976 classic Say No To Toddlers that arguably had the most impact on a British public on the cusp of emerging from the darkness of high unemployment and unending energy crises into a brave new world of European integration and booming prosperity. A massive sense of relief following World War II, the rise of promiscuity in the 1960s, and long, dark nights with nothing better to do in the early 1970s led to a state of what was described in government documentation at the time as “too many blasted babies” and so a number of programmes were accelerated in order to reduce the birth rate in the British Isles. Alongside adding bromide to the water supply and inventing a new craze called “aerobics” that was designed to tire people out making sex less likely the services of Weevilface were sought out and in very short order he was able to produce the following classic film clip. Shown in cinemas and on television – particularly before and after schools and colleges programmes as children were most open to the message within – Say No To Toddlers was initially received with the kind of stupefying horror associated with all British public information films; the creepy music and stark voiceover messages were requirements of government-sanctioned movies but Weevilface excelled in the craft. However, in follow-up interviews with childless men and women during the 1980s and early 1990s it’s this specific film warning the dangers that toddlers and children possess that most often came out with a sense of warmth; many interviewees claimed that had it not been for the consideration of the British government they might have inadvertently unleashed swarms of adult-killing, car-stealing babies into the general...

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Top 5 Horrifically Dangerous Spanish Festivals
Jul05

Top 5 Horrifically Dangerous Spanish Festivals

Spain: famous for its sun, sea, soaring temperatures, siestas, and Salvador Dali. But it’s not just things that begin with the letter ‘S’ that Spain embraces so let’s take a quick look at five horrifically dangerous events that help to mould the characters of Spanish people. Running Of The Bulls Not exclusive to Spain and not limited to just one place there is, however, one very famous “Running of the Bulls” event and that’s the one that takes place in the 8-day festival in Saint Fermin, Pamplona. With a few rules – competitors must be 18, sober, must run in the same direction as the bulls, and cannot let the bulls know that their deaths are imminent through interpretive dance – the running takes place through the town and injuries are pretty commonplace. Less common, but certainly not unexpectedly, deaths – typically by goring or a fatal realisation that your life has culminated in you jogging along with cows – do occur too. At the end of the run the bulls are celebrated by the crowd and are released to live their lives out in peace. No, of course not! The bulls and runners are led into an arena and are fought and killed. The Castells of Tarragona Castells are human towers formed by teams who build solid bases then add layers of people in order to place someone as high as possible, remove supporting people to leave a single human chain, then dismantle safely in order to… nobody knows. The important thing, though, is that a lot of weight ends up being supported by people and a lot of people are sufficiently high in the air that if the tower collapses – and they do – then there’s quite a distance to fall. Deaths have occurred. At festivals different teams of tower-builders often compete in brightly-coloured displays of daring and there are different tower designs depending on the number of levels a team wants to build as well as the number of people per level that is supported. A tower is considered complete when the uppermost person – the enxaneta (usually a child because it takes them longer to fall) – raises four fingers in the air to give praise to the Sky God Ugalugha, climbs down, then all the levels descend in order from the top down. At the end of the festival the losing teams of tower-builders are fought and killed. The Arizkun Festival If you were wondering if the Spanish had a festival that combined running through the streets leaping over bonfires trying not to incinerate your pubic regions as well as Wicker Man-style pagan...

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A Meeting To Discuss Killing Old People
Jun26

A Meeting To Discuss Killing Old People

Friends, I’d like to thank you for coming together at such short notice. I don’t think any of us seriously believed we’d need to meet today or under these circumstances but it is what it is and we must react to the will of the United Kingdom’s people. Or rather, as I’m sure you know, the will of our deadly enemy, the old people. Graham, calm down. Directed anger at this point will be of far more use to us. We all feel the same way but that chair did nothing to you. Well, yes, it may have been built by someone who is now old but they probably weren’t then or it would have one of those beaded seat covers on it. Right. We’ve all been determined to rid ourselves of the scourge that is old people for some time and we’ve been patient, cautious, careful. The EU vote has caught us napping. Our enemy has made a lightning attack we never foresaw and has started a financial collapse and put this country on the road to an isolationist position whilst allowing racists to become bolder. This attempt to turn the country into a scary, lonely place for everyone and not just them may not be able to be halted – I know, I’m sorry Jane but we have to honest – but we can still seek retaliatory action. Why? I can’t believe you’d ask that Jeremy. That sounds almost like giving up. Uh huh. Okay, well then, to address your devil’s advocate position it’s not cutting our losses it’s ensuring that the enemy does not seek to do more. Do you really think that those who can remember what day it is will stop now or those who can’t will comprehend what turmoil they’ve already unleashed? No, I didn’t think so. We must strike back and we must strike hard. We must give the ageing population who are waiting to fill their slippers something to consider. Which reminds me: Jeremy, when’s your birthday? A Scorpio, eh? And what year were you born? Uh huh. Thank you. No, no reason. Let’s start with Operation Buy All The Cardigans. It goes without saying that we need to step this up immediately. Obviously, we’re still relying on a harsh winter to then kill off the layer-less geriatrics and we can’t guarantee that everywhere in the UK any longer thanks to the extreme swings caused by continuing climate change but there’s really no downside to going ahead as it will boost the economy and Christ knows it’s going to need a boost. How are we going to fund this? I thought...

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South America Cruise Videos
May09

South America Cruise Videos

A companion post to the two articles that I recently posted outlining our recent cruise from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile on board the Princess Cruises ship Star Princess, containg the videos that I’ve subsequently uploaded to YouTube along with some brief notes. To read a review of the cruise see: Star Princess: South America Cruise (Part 1) Star Princess: South America Cruise (Part 2) A quick pan around the admittedly not terribly photogenic dockside area in Buenos Aires from our mini-suite stateroom balcony. We boarded a steam train in order to get to the winery at Juanico in Uruguay. This is a few minutes of the countryside and small towns rolling past which sadly doesn’t capture many of the happy, waving, or just plain gobsmacked locals who stopped to stare at our mode of travel. A zumba session taking place out on deck. People who know me will not be surprised to learn that not only did I not partake I also didn’t even consider partaking. The Star Princess outside the influence of the River Plate and on the South Atlantic, as seen from our balcony once again. A Magellanic penguin wandering past us as we strolled through its rookery at Punta Tombo reserve in Argentina. Two dancers showing off some Argentina Tango moves in the piazza to the enjoyment of three decks of viewers. The dancers were very good but they weren’t as good as the Uruguayans who danced for us as the winery and with whom I “danced” in front of everyone. And nobody was as good as the dancers who put on the tango show in Buenos Aires. But still good, as you can see. You’re probably looking at this and thinking “nice filters” or “nice processing” or something along those lines. Well, stop that. The sunset that you see here was exactly as it appeared as the ship made its way southwards from Argentina towards the Falkland Islands. We’d been sitting down in one of the bars (shock) when we noticed the sudden colour of the sky outside so, along with a great many other passengers, headed out onto the promenade deck to stare at it and take some photos and video. A quick pan around on our Falklands War Battlefields tour that we took on the Falkland Islands. As you probably could have guessed. Fascinating tour that you can read more about on the first article I wrote about the cruise. The next three videos are from our cruising around Cape Horn. The theme of these videos is “grey”. Now for three videos shot on a catamaran trip out onto the Beagle...

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Star Princess: South America Cruise (Part 2)
May08

Star Princess: South America Cruise (Part 2)

This is the second part of the article outlining a holiday with Princess Cruises on the Star Princess from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of our first date and the fact we’d managed to save up long enough to afford it. The first part of this article can be found here: Star Princess: South America Cruise (Part 1). The Beagle Channel One of my favourite sights on our trip was waking up to discover the cruise ship was docked in Ushuaia and surrounded on three sides by towering mountains made more ominous and oppressive by the dim pre-dawn light of day. What can I say? I like the sea and I like mountain ranges; put them together and you’ve got yourself something I like twice. Now, unlike the Falkland Islands where we’d been told it could be cold and wet but it wasn’t, in Ushuaia we’d been told it would be cold and wet and it certainly was. It was very cold. And it was very wet. Fortunately, the wet part eased off early but the cold part persisted. How cold was it? It was long-sleeved top and thick hoodie and wool hat and waterproof coat, with hoodie done up and hood raised, and coat done up and hood raised, and gloves on cold. And we’d booked an excursion on a catamaran out onto the Beagle Channel to look for wildlife so it was all that type of cold plus out on an exposed stretch of water cold. Still, only one mad, mad person decided to ignore the spray and biting wind and spend the entire catamaran venture out on the deck of the boat rather than taking in the views from inside. That was me. So, sure, I was cold. Frozen, you might say. But I knew I’d recover and I got some wonderful views and fabulous shots of mountains, birds, sea lions, and a lighthouse, as well as the fond memory that there was probably at least one person on board other than my wife thinking “What is that loony doing out there?” Cruise Tip Maybe two pairs of gloves next time I head out onto the Beagle Channel. Ushuaia Now, we’d been told on the Falkland Islands that the majority of people who were really a little bit, er, antsy where it came to that place’s sovereignty were the Argentinians in and around Ushuaia; whether this was because the harsh living and economic conditions there simply brewed anger couldn’t be said with absolute certainty but most other people in that area of the world had a more liberal live-and-let-live attitude. We’d also...

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Star Princess: South America Cruise (Part 1)
Apr25

Star Princess: South America Cruise (Part 1)

This March, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of our first date and to celebrate the fact we’d managed to save up long enough to afford it, my wife and I took a holiday with Princess Cruises on the Star Princess from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso. This post forms the first of two long parts documenting the holiday’s highlights as well as giving some hints and tips about cruising in general and cruising with Princess in particular. Some tips will probably update those presented when I wrote about our first Princess Cruise around Asia in 2008. The Air France Experience To say we were a little worried in the lead up to our cruise would be an understatement. Do we need visas? Have we got travel insurance? Did we arrange the parking for the right day? Are our passports valid? Did we really get travel insurance or have I mistaken that for the Iceland trip last year? And so on. One of the major concerns was that we’d arranged to fly out to Buenos Aires through Princess (there are flight protection benefits doing it that way) and this meant we had to fly Air France from Heathrow with a change at Paris Charles de Gaulle. Yes, we’d be risking the entire vacation on French air traffic controllers being at work. As it was, the air traffic control worry never materialised. Instead, after a short hop to France we settled into our seats for the 13+ hour flight to Argentina. Settled into our uncomfortable seats. If you’ve ever wondered what happened to those hard plastic chairs you used to sit on at school then I can tell you now that someone put a tea towel over them and installed them on Air France planes. Painful seats, equally painful food. I know that airplane food doesn’t have a good reputation, but French food does so we had high hopes they’d cancel out into something average. But no. It’s something when you and your wife disagree what something is before you eat it – I thought potato, my wife thought egg – then both change your minds to “Is this some genetically-engineered tasteless fish? Is this entire trip a psychological test or TV prank?” We still don’t know what we ate on Air France and were too scared to ask in case someone told us. Arrival: Buenos Aires, Argentina We picked up our luggage, got through security, spotted some Princess Cruises representatives, and were directed to the end of the airport where someone would take our luggage and put us on a coach to the ship. The representatives in the airport were having...

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