Small claims: caught

Before the days of regulation, advertisers could make truly incredible claims about their products.   Medicines were claimed to cure a huge range of ills, and given that many contained what are now Class A drugs, even if they didn’t effect a cure I suppose they might well have acted as a distraction.  Talking of Class A drugs, as a youth with an upset stomach, I was offered kaolin and morphine – which is basically clay and heroin (so akin to shooting up in a Cornish mine) – which now strikes me as rather odd (not to say sinister).

Still, in these more enlightened times advertisers have to be somewhat more truthful in their statements.  Though, thinking back to medicine and comparing the outrageous claims made by Messer Lemsip and Beecham about their palliatives and their actual effect on the cold (or ‘flu) ridden human body, I do wonder just how far we really have come…

However, today I shall focus on some very modest claims indeed made by current advertisers.  I have seen adverts for hair dye which claim it will cover “up to 100% of grey hair” and for a toothbrush that removes “up to 100% of plaque”.  I would like to point out to these folk that a bar of milk chocolate, a small pack of wood screws, the Companies Act 2006 and a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake could all make exactly the same claim as to their efficacy on one’s coiffeur or dentition.  Sadly “up to 100%” encompasses 0% – and so is saying nothing at all (though, in the words of at least one song, this is when one says it best).

In a slightly related item, I am a sometime consumer of protein powder – well, my body having been torn apart in the pursuit of gymnastic glory needs some raw material to rebuild itself (better… faster… stronger – and all for far less than $6,000,000) and it is mostly made of protein.  Being me, this is not just any old protein – nor, less you are hearing the music of Sailor (Glass of Champagne) in your head, does it come from M&S.  This protein requires no less than seven adjectives to describe it – none of them to big it up, mind, just to describe it.  I fear this may have worn them out, as when it comes to “suggested use” they merely say “one or more scoops” (so, at least I know never to use less than one – though I’m not sure what terribly consequence might ensue if I did) and defines a range of liquids to use as “mixers” but ends the list with “or your favourite beverage”.  I have yet to try 437 scoops with a bottle of gin – but have been sorely tempted!  (For the avoidance of doubt, gin is not my favourite beverage – this is merely an imposture for supposedly comic effect).  The “suggested use” is not a claim per se, but very much a statement which leaves rather too much open to be of much utility – I suppose they have come down against mixing my scoop(s) with a gas, solid or plasma and have limited my choice of liquids to one which could be considered a beverage but frankly they could have saved the ink with no loss to the user.

I think it is time to campaign under the slogan, “if you have nothing to say, then say nothing”.  Think of the savings!  A risky choice for me, obviously, given the whole blog thing – but as you will have realised by now, I am the exception to every rule.

30, at last!

Yes, the irresponsible years of my twenties are finally at an end and I must finally face up to being 30 (though still some distance from being an adult).  It’s been a long journey – at least partly because I have chosen to make it in hex – but today I must wave goodbye to 2F (whilst, obviously, retaining two Fs thanks to my corrupted Welsh roots).

After thirty, there’s not much in the way of a landmark birthday until the telegram from the Queen.  Actually, telegrams are long dead and even the telemessage (I think) has gone the way of the dodo, so I wonder what you now receive on reaching your century.  A Tweet from the Queen?  Perhaps she writes on your Facebook wall?  Anyway, I’m not willing to wait and so during 2014 I shall be switching to base 7 so that I will reach 100 in 2015.

Don’t say you miss out on changing number-base humour on this blog – well, I have the number-base bit covered at least.

You might ask what I am doing (or have done) to celebrate this milestone (or, millstone).  My day has yet to involve cake, alcohol or candles – though some of these may occur later.  I did slightly upscale my morning porridge by the use of stewed apple, blackberries and extra-thick half cream – but otherwise it has been a fairly normal day.  Once you have seen 2F birthdays come and go, the novelty value does start to fade a little.  I did go into town and treat myself to a new colander (the handle has fallen off my old one) – I went for the cheap white plastic offering (a snip at £3) and the only option made in the UK (so I’ve done my bit for the balance of payments deficit for the day).  Given how thrifty I’d been with the colander, I bought a CD (I do like a bit of physical media) – Drenge since you ask – which I am listening to as I type (some proper, dirty rock which I assume is aimed at those in their very early thirties).

For the last several years, my birthday has always had a bittersweet edge and not merely because my feet are that bit closer to the grave (or urn) and some much needed rest (though I do worry that my insomnia may pursue me into the next life).  I am much younger (and I mean much younger) than my brother-in-law (I need to give credit to my sister here, she could easily have found a younger spouse but forwent that option for me) – and I do like to bring this up in conversation from time to time (well, it is becoming increasingly hard to find other older people for this purpose).  This always becomes more difficult for the (roughly) six months starting from today as our ages – as recorded in years using the traditional rounding down approach – are superficially the same.  I have to wait until September until there is clear, blue, integral water between us again (though, I am still much younger even now).

Actually, I am going to the flicks tonight, which you might like to consider a celebratory nod to my natal day, where cake is virtually certain and alcohol possible (candles unlikely – though if I keep forgetting to charge my bike lights, I may need at least one for the purposes of navigation and safety).  I am going to see a movie about vampires – well, it’s good to have a plan B in case my other attempts at immortality don’t work out (OK, not entirely sure if acting childishly and keeping this blog really count as serious attempts at becoming immortal – but I had to start somewhere).  Let’s face it, I’m not really a morning person and avoiding sunlight hasn’t been a huge issue in recent years – especially given my proclivity to holiday on the Celtic fringes of this fair (but damp) land – and I am only (mostly) vegetarian.  Plus, I look really cool in black and like to wear shades (my eyes have always been a disappointment to me – and the presbyopia really isn’t helping).

100% wrong

We have reached that time of the year when even I, a lover of black and white striped mint sweets for sheep (baa humbugs), must admit that Christmas may not only be coming (which is always the case) but is sufficiently close that I may have to do something about it.

Yesterday, whilst wandering the aisles of a local supermarket,I noticed a packet of tasty Xmas treats labelled “100% butter mince pies”.  Surely the only thing which is 100% butter is butter – and unsalted butter at that.  Now, I like butter as much as the next man – but expect my mince pies to have some other ingredients: mincemeat, flour, sugar and perhaps an egg and a dash of milk.  I know footballers and other mathematically challenged individuals have been giving 110% for many years, but these mince pies would have to be giving well over 200% to be even remotely satisfying.

Talking of the mathematically-challenged, I notice that the Chancellor justified his plans to reduce the highest tax rate using reasoning thoroughly debunked as complete nonsense on More or Less more than a week earlier (by those well-known left-wing subversives: Tim Harford and a senior tax planner to the wealthy).  I have no idea whether the change is a good idea or not – but judging by his explanation, it is an even worse thought out change than the rest of government policy (and that can’t have been easy given the amazingly “high” standard of the competition).  Perhaps it’s time that More or Less became required listening for all government ministers – it is less than 30 minutes per week and at least while listening they should be unable to implement innumerate new policies.

The one with the flake in it

Despite the powers-that-be at Channel 4 ensuring for the last decade (and more) that at any time you can be guaranteed that one of its myriad channels will be showing an episode of Friends (it’s analogous to never being more than 8 feet from a rat), I am strangely (perhaps, inappropriately) proud never to have seen one in its entirety.  It hasn’t been easy, let me tell you, but despite my total abstinence some knowledge of the sitcom has wormed its way into my brain – and the title of this post could easily have belonged to an episode from that much repeated series.

But I digress, the allusion is obviously to ice cream as this post is number 99 (and if mere mention of a flake causes you to imagine the author lying languid and naked in an over-flowing bath, then you should probably see a trained psychiatric professional).  It was either ice cream, or a reference to Maxwell Smart’s significantly more competent partner – and even I’m not old enough to remember her, so I eighty-sixed that idea (there will be a prize for understanding that gag).  This post represents a nervous number for a batsman given our decimal counting system: can this blog make it to its first century?  Or will it find itself the electronic equivalent of lbw?  Of course, had cricket been played in ancient Babylon a score of 100 would be meaningless – batsman would be aiming for 60 runs as the key milestone of an innings and 59 would be the time for nerves.  But advanced as the peoples of ancient Mesopotamia were, they never developed cricket – probably as well, not sure their maths could have handled the Duckworth-Lewis method.

I wonder if I will receive some sort of telegram from the Queen of WordPress when I reach 100 posts?  Is WordPress even a constitutional monarchy?

As you can read, excitement is mounting here in Fish Towers but I am starting to feel some pressure to pull something special “out of the bag” for post 100.  Get your suggestions in now if you want to be a part of blog history!  You should be thinking Henry V and St Crispin’s Day here – you’d hate to think yourselves accursed and counting your manhoods cheap (heaven forfend) when this blog breaks into 3 figures!