Tag Archives: vent

Cars. Who’d ’ave ’em? Addendum

Well, we’ve retrieved the Vectra from the menders. It runs, badly. It needs to warm up before you go anywhere, otherwise it stalls when you put it in gear (it’s an auto).

We’re now left with what to do about it. It’s too expensive to repair. Should we spend money on investigative work in case there’s a case to be made? Or should we just let it rust away on the drive. Perhaps some kind scrap dealer will take pity on us and take it away leaving some cash in its place.

So, cars are definitely a raw nerve at the moment.


One of these would do the trick, I think. Just a bit of sanding and varnishing to do every now and then.

Cars. Who’d ’ave ’em?

We own two cars. My personal transport is Italian, red, and is made by a company whose name begins with F. It’s a Fiat Seicento Sporting. The other car is was screwed together by someone at Luton or Liverpool, and has a Vauxhall badge glued to it.

Now, I’ve been a Vauxhall fan for years. My first car was a Vauxhall – a 1978 Chevette, to be precise. Over the years, I’ve owned a Mk 2 Astra, and a succession of Carltons. Most have been reliable transport, all have been used when purchased, and all have been virtually driven to destruction by me.

That run of Vauxhall ownership has come to an abrupt end with a 1999 model Vectra estate. Oh, it’s comfy, has a good service history, one owner, fairly average mileage and so on. For such a nose-heavy car, it was pretty sprightly when you wanted it to be. We could live with the aircon being busted, and the fact we had to replace the radio unit because the keycode had been lost. Then the car began to dislike starting. Then the engine management light came on. In the past couple of months it’s spent more time being mended than on the road.

Today we learned the engine management chip had been fried. On investigation, I also learn this is a very common problem with this particular unit. It’s also a very expensive thing to fix.

So, I’ve fallen out of love with Vauxhalls. I don’t care that they had a bad patch around when our car was in production. I don’t care that the current cars are very good. I refuse to buy another Vauxhall.

Of course, we still have a crippled pile of junk we will have to try and get rid of. It’ll probably limp along for a while. Perhaps we can sell it, but more likely we’ll scrap it. It seems as if filling the tank with petrol doubles the car’s value.

All in all, 2010 has turned out to be an expensive year for cars in this household. The search is on for something that will potentially replace both cars, but I am very distrustful of any modern car, purely because they are so stuffed with electronics you have to rely on experts to fix them. Anything more than changing a lightbulb, and you need a computerised diagnostics system just to see what the car thinks is wrong.


Oh for the good old days when you could change the plugs and points on your drive on a Sunday morning. Oh for a simpler motoring experience.

Rant Ahead

I’m sorry. I’m fed up.

Everywhere I turn at the moment, I’m surrounded by iPhone and iPad noise. Almost every photography podcast I subscribe to has become iPad crazy. I can’t move for tweets or blogs about apps for this, that and the other.

I’m fed up with it.

It’s not I don’t appreciate the technology. Obviously, developers and users have found Nirvana in the Apple shiny things, and good luck to them. The problem is more that I am unable to follow where my digital mentors are leading.

I can’t afford an iPad. I can’t afford an iPhone. Therefore, it strikes me that I am now a second class citizen.

And it’s pissed me off.

Once the iFad has passed, I hope the podcasters and bloggers I follow will settle back into the business of helping me make pictures, and preferably without referring me to their latest app.

Thank you for letting me vent.

Where’s the depth?

It’s not my job, but I’ve been thinking about the BBC News channel. It seems like a strange thing to be thinking about, but bear with me.

We don’t often have the chance to catch late evening news and current affairs stuff, but we caught Newsnight on 18 May. There was a fabulous report covering the Koreas and the aftermath of the South Korean naval ship being torpedoed earlier this year. It was utterly fascinating, and covered the issues in sufficient depth from both sides of the border.

That set me thinking as to why you simply don’t appear to see this kind of report on the BBC News channel. With a whole day to fill with news and information, the actual content seems vacuous, driven solely by events. Headline stories are repeated throughout a day, battering them to death until something new might rise to replace it, when the whole tedious and gory process is repeated.

There’s also a huge bias to the capital, finance and sport. We see a reporter standing outside someone’s house, or outside the Palace of Westminster, or outside an airport, or on a motorway overbridge. They get asked about the latest news on the story they’re covering (there usually isn’t any), then we move on to another outside broadcast where the charade is repeated. This can continue for hour after hour, in case something might actually happen, and the BBC might be able to beat Sky News to the punch and break a story before the facts have been checked. It’s all punctuated with brief sports and financial reports, topped off with weather forecasts. I always feel the on-the-spot reporters can do nothing more than just skim over the facts. They may even have been parachuted in to cover a story, but they may not know the real background to what they’re reporting on. It’s painful to watch sometimes.

There’s no real depth. In amongst all the noise, where’s the proper journalism?

BBC News seems content to be a reactive outlet, rather than backing reports up with proper journalism, going out to find stories, like Newsnight’s political editor Michael Crick had done regarding the “short money” rumours surrounding the Liberal Democrats. Oh, how I wish Crick was the BBC’s political editor instead of Nick Robinson…

Where’s the news from the rest of the UK, outside London? Where’s sensible coverage of Europe and European countries? Where’s the coverage from Asia, Africa, South America, the Middle and Far East? It’s not like there’s no infrastructure there, with reporters in all corners of the globe, so why don’t we have hour-long segments set aside to cover this stuff? It’s all so totally insular, unless something exciting is happening like the recent events in Greece and Thailand—but then we only really get a one-dimensional idea of what’s actually going on.

For example, we’re getting a lot of coverage of the current problems besetting the Euro zone countries, after the fallout from bailing out Greece. I don’t actually remember anyone telling us exactly why Greece was bankrupt and needed all this money to help it. I had to burrow quite a way into the BBC News web site to find that information. Perhaps it had been covered right at the start of the crisis, but by the time it was headline news all we knew about was angry Grecians rioting on the streets—the base reason for all the pain and anguish across Europe had been subsumed by an apparent fetish for graphic images of burning cars and rock-hurling protesters.

Now, I’m not claiming the BBC doesn’t cover this kind of stuff in the detail I expect. In fact, I think it’s fair to say the BBC news gathering machine is very good, and outside the News channel and the BBC1 bulletins, there’s plenty of detail to be found, across television, radio and internet.

What I would like, though, is the BBC’s supposed flagship news channel to actually treat its viewers with a little more respect. We don’t all have the attention span of a gnat. How about an hour a day on proper coverage of our European neighbours? An hour covering Africa, another covering the Americas, an hour of news from around the UK, hour-long segments covering different parts of the world. Give us some idea of what’s happening around our world, not just what’s top of the “breaking news” pile today.

Here we go again

The start of another week, and yet I have no real desire to do anything about the pile of crap on my desk.

Yesterday, Best Beloved and I had a day with interesting people, talking about modelling skills and sharing ideas. We had to go to London, but that’s another story.

I was demonstrating painting models with brushes, and I think I may have imbibed a little too much of the white spirit fumes. I now have a sore throat, which is threatening to turn into yet another bloody cold. This is making me cross, as I’ve just begun to recover from the last one, which knocked me sideways for a week or more.

To cap it all, a client hasn’t replied to an email of a week ago, so I’m actually in no mood to finish their job. That’s the wrong attitude, but that’s the way I feel about it. I never really wanted to get back into this design malarkey again, but when needs must, and bank accounts need funds. I just need to clear this job and then reconsider my future path.

I’m also narked that I’ve not heard from some people I sent a prospectus out to back in January. Being a lazy tyke at heart, I’ve not bothered to chase them up, being busy with other stuff, but now I think I need to chase them up again.

What does one have to do to break out of life and get somewhere new? This is really beginning to piss me off. I want to be able to do something I really love doing, get paid for it, and enjoy life. Currently, that’s not happening on so many levels, and I’m stuck for a way forward.

No news is, um, news.

It may have escaped your attention, but Blighty had a general election last week. We managed to somehow not elect a majority party to govern us, and talks have been under way in order to work out whether the third party will support one or other of the bigger parties in some form of power-sharing deal.

It’s all very interesting, if you’re into your politics. Let’s say it’s been dragging on now since Friday. There’s plenty of stuff happening, but it’s all behind closed doors, and those involved are being very tight-lipped about it.

Which isn’t helping the 24-hour news vultures, who have been thrown into a complete loop by the lack of information. They’ve resorted to political correspondents interviewing political reporters, who can only to report nothing new has happened, and it’s likely nothing new will happen for some time, and some people have arrived and/or departed from a meeting without saying anything concrete to anyone, but this is probably what they might have said, according to “a source”.

Effectively, the media has resorted to reporting on the reporting of the non-news, simply because they think they need to be first to break news if anything actually does happen. Which they don’t.

I mean, Europe’s in financial meltdown, a man has a bullet lodged in his head, some volcano is still erupting, BA is set for more strikes, we may see new Ladas arriving in Britain, over 60 people have died in violence in Iraq, decreasing biodiversity will damage economies, oil is still spewing in the Gulf of Mexico… Yet, we’re expected to believe that it’s more important to hear from a reporter who was nearby when someone went through a door but wouldn’t answer a shouted question.

Why don’t they just drop the farce and report on proper news until something actually happens? They’re making themselves into even more of a parody than they were to begin with! What makes it worse is they “break” the story in some weird game with the other news vultures where they try to be the first with the latest breaking news. Why not just let the story happen, find out what happened, check it actually happened, and then tell us about it?

Why do we need 24-hour rolling news anyway?


I’ve been venting on my Facebook page for some time, but as I’ve now decided to give the Posterous thing a go, let’s see how it works.

Life has been hard at Snaptophobic Towers. My freelance work fell off a cliff during last year, thanks to those greedy bankers. I’ve been in and out of “proper work” since February, and I’ve picked up a bit of freelance design stuff again.

Only, I can’t do the design stuff any more.

In the olden days, a client would give me a brief, we’d chat around what they were after, and ideas would begin to form in my head. Very quickly, I’d have the kernel of some designs laid out and presented.

Now, since everyone with a PC and Microsoft Word is a designer (so they think), the joy has fled from my allotted task. I’m embroiled in a simple brochure web site and presentation folder design for a new client. I’ve known my contact for some years, and worked with her before. This should be a breeze.

Only it’s not.

I’m not enjoying this. It should be simple. I should be able to translate the simple ideas in my head into the digital forms needed, but they won’t make that transition.

Perhaps I’m making too much of this mental block. Worrying about worrying only makes things worse. Sadly, I find it too easy to be distracted at the moment—a sure sign things are not going swimmingly. See? I’m even finding it a distraction enough to blog about it.

It’s no good. I have to concentrate on getting this done. I need to break the log jam, and I need to make it work. What else can I do with my life otherwise?