Thursday, February 26, 2009

The sweet smell of recession

Hey, after hours of painstaking searches I've finally found a story related with the recession. Yippee!!!

The Oriental Aroma Chinese restaurant in Wiltshire is paying customers £1 per head to eat at their establishment. Yes, that's right you get to eat their food and you leave with extra money in your pocket. Only, that's not quite true because you only get your £1 if you spend £5 on drinks (that's probably only 2 drinks then that would have only cost the business about £1.50 from the wholesaler)

I wonder what Wonders of the East are on offer at this fine dining establishment then? Fresh Lobster in Ginger and Spring Onion? Succulently Steamed Abalone? Jasmine-smoked free-range Roast Goose.......? Or maybe fried noodles with a hint of beansprout, dried fried rice and tiny specks of meat deep fried in huge ball of batter served in a sauce that would surely glow in the dark if you turned the lights off (actually, the article does not state if the restaurant has lights on and whether you have to bring your own torches to actually see the food)

To be fair to the restaurant it does appear to have regular customers and so maybe serves decent-enough food. Maybe the owner has a bit of savings in the bank and figured this was a good way to generate positive publicity for his business. Well he's certainly generated great publicity for himself, if the national newspapers are carrying the story. I can see other businesses in trouble trying the same tack. Bank offers to lend money to people buying houses with no job and no deposit, maybe?

(and why exactly do NINJAs need to live in houses if they're supposed to be so tough???)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What makes me laugh and what doesn't, part 1

I've been meaning to write more personal articles on this blog, but seem to keep finding too much inspiration from current affairs, so here goes.

As you might have figured out from my blog, I'm a person who likes to look at everything in the world from a light-hearted or humorous point of view. If Jews make such great comedians and the Chinese are supposed to be the Jews of the East (y'know, mass migration and encountering discrimination and reputation for business acumen etc etc) then why aren't there more funny Chinese people about?

So this is a quick entry to describe what it is in British mainstream media that I find funny and what I don't find funny.

FUNNY: Father Ted

It's hard to define why I like Father Ted so much. It contains lot of surreal moments and juxtapositions of things that should not go together (Priests on the Eurosong competition singing about a "lovely horse") but also more realistic observations (such as the couple who run a shop who hate-each-others-guts but pretend to be lovey-dovey in front of Father Ted.)

It also treads a very thin line between outright criticism of the Catholic Church (corrupt and domineering Bishop Brennan, protests against a blasphemous film that Ted actually wants to watch) and complete silliness (erm, see Father Dougal). One of my favourite episodes is the one where Father Ted keeps mistakenly giving the impression he's a racist and a fascist in front of the local Chinese community and the scene where he's standing behind a bit of dirt on a window that makes him look like Hitler giving a rallying speech is just brilliant.

And like all good comedy shows, they knew when to stop. (See Fawlty Towers, the Office, don't see any of the Absolutely Fabulous episodes after the '90s)

UNFUNNY: Little Britain

To brand Little Britain totally unfunny is a bit unkind because there are lots of good ideas and funny situations on show. However, I can't help but feel that the scriptwriters are on auto-pilot here. Let's find something funny and then repeat the sketch over and over again and milk it for what we can.

So we have the pushchair couple at the park, the pushchair couple on a speedboat, the pushchair couple at a swimming pool (you get the gist), all basically telling one joke that the guy in the chair is not really disabled, but his lisping carer does not know this. Ha ha?

So why is it so popular?

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's plane wrong .... Shirley

Northern RBS Airlines cabin crew working in their nose-diving aircraft have complained that the state-owned aircraft sent up to rescue them did not contain enough bonus cushions on their seats.

Northern RBS Airlines planes began losing altitude at an alarming rate from above 160,000 feet last year. Consequently, and in an unprecedented move, RAF Hercules transporter planes were immediately scrambled to rescue them and to avoid crashes into major residential areas of Britain that would have resulted in the biggest loss of peacetime civilian life since the 1930s.

One pilot purred "we've been working really hard sitting at the controls at all hours pushing the plane to fly higher and higher. For the government to take away our bonus cushions and making us sit on just normal seats is just scandalous."

To address this issue Prime Minister Gordon Brown is now introducing legislation banning airlines from attempting to fly aircraft beyond the earth's atmosphere (where there's no gases or oxygen of any kind,... altogether!)

Pure genius....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mrs Clinton you're trying to...

Overheard at the the US Secretary of State's hotel in Beijing. Conversation with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao

(A Simon and Garfunkel CD seems to be playing in the background)

Mrs. Clinton : Jiabao?

Bao : Yes?

Mrs. Clinton : Will you come over here a minute?

Bao : Over there? Sure.

Mrs. Clinton : Would you like to be friends of the US now? I think we'd make good partners. (nods and winks towards a soft red leather briefcase of US T-bills on her queen-sized bed)

Bao : Oh. Well, goodnight.

Mrs. Clinton : Won't you open the briefcase?

Bao : I'd rather not, Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton : If you still think I'm trying to -

Bao : No, I don't. But I just feel a little funny.

Mrs. Clinton : What are you so scared of?

Bao : I'm not scared, Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton : Then why do you keep running away?

Bao : Because you're going to bed. I don't think I should be up here.

Mrs. Clinton : Haven't you ever seen a US Treasury bill in the flesh before?

Bao : Yes, I have. But I just - Look - what if some pro-Tibet or human rights prostesters walked in right now?

Mrs. Clinton : What if they did?

Bao : Well, it would look pretty funny, wouldn't it? Me and you in a bedroom and a red briefcase full of.....

Mrs. Clinton : Don't you think they would trust us together?

Bao : Of course they would. But they might get the wrong idea. Anyone might.

Mrs. Clinton : I don't see why. I'm already married to a former humans-right pressurising US president. How could anyone think -

Bao : But they would! Don't you see?

Mrs. Clinton : Jiabao, we're not trying to seduce you.

Bao : I know that. But please, Mrs. Clinton. This is difficult for me.

Mrs. Clinton : Would you like me to seduce you?

Bao : What?

Mrs. Clinton : Is that what you're trying to tell me?

Bao : I'm going home now. I apologize for what I said. I hope you can forget it. But I'm going home right now.

Mrs. Clinton : Jiabao?

Bao : Yes?

Mrs. Clinton : Will you bring up my worthless shares in Lehman Brothers before you go? They're in my handbag.

Bao : I have to go. Sorry.

Mrs. Clinton : I really don't want to put on my big overcoat again. Won't you bring it up?

Bao : Where is it?

Mrs. Clinton : On the table next to the US budget report. The one in heavy red ink.

(sound of feet on steps)

Bao : Mrs. Clinton?

Mrs. Clinton : I'm in the bathroom.

Bao : Here is the handbag.

Mrs. Clinton : Would you bring it up?

Bao : Well, I'll hand it to you. Come to the railing and I'll hand it up.

Mrs. Clinton : Jiabao, I am getting pretty tired of all this suspicion. Now if you won't do me a simple favor I don't know what.

(more footsteps)

Bao : I'm putting it on the top step.

Mrs. Clinton : For God's sake, Jiabao, will you stop acting that way and bring me the handbag?

Bao : I'm putting it here by the door.

Mrs. Clinton : Will you bring it in to me?

Bao : I'd rather not.

Mrs. Clinton : All right. Put it in Alistair Darling's room where we were. Next to the large barrel of hair bleach.

Bao : Right.

(more footsteps and then other footsteps and a door slams)

Ben : Oh God. Oh, let me out.

Mrs. Clinton : Don't be nervous.

Bao : Get away from that door.

Mrs. Clinton : I want to say something first.

Bao : Jesus Christ.

Mrs. Clinton : Jiabao, I want you to know that in these times of economic difficutly the US is available to you, and if you won't let us pretend to be your temporary allies this time ... we'll still conveniently descend from the moral high ground for a bit of your cash. Now, would you like to buy some more T-bills in exchange for....

(bugging device suddenly interrupted by excess steam in room)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hillary's underused overcoat

And so Hillary Clinton, the new US Presi-, the new US Secretary of State arrives for her first visit in her new capacity to Beijing and is given a state reception complete with sniper fi-, complete with red and blue flags and lights according to this blog on the BBC news website

(now don't you wish you had studied harder at school and become an important person who gets Red And Blue Flags And Lights welcoming you at airports? When I arrive somewhere by plane I have to navigate an arrivals hall clogged with numerous overweight taxi drivers who've been holding a mucky whiteboard in one hand and a half-eaten donut on the other)

One thing that struck me about this blogger's observation was the "Overcoat Etiquette" on display. Very important this, apparently. If an arriving dignitary appears on the airport tarmac not wearing too much clothing this makes the visiting VIP more vigorous looking, apparently, and possibly more menacing ready to strike the negotiating table running (if you could possibly imagine running on a table, or a negotiating table at that.... I wonder if they sell them in IKEA?)

Our mis-speaking Hillary though actually decides to be sensible and wear an overcoat, not because she wants to appear weak, but because it's cold in Beijing (and bullet-proof vests can be more easily hidden, in case those pesky snipers return).

Which makes you really thankful Hillary is a woman of practicality whose next stop is not some sun-baked equitorial island ruled by an aggresive dictator: I'm not sure I want to see Hillary Clinton arriving in a bikini (or even Obama in just his Y-fronts, if I'm totally honest)

Monday, February 2, 2009


Taken from the BBC News website today

As Mr Wen arrived to deliver the speech, he was met by both pro-Chinese supporters and people demonstrating against China's human rights record in its own country and in Tibet.

Interesting to be able to read between the lines that the person writing the article believes that Tibet is a separate country from China. So much for impartiality.

Compare this to what my learned friend Madam Miaow observed. UK Government policy on Tibet.

I still don't know what I feel on the topic on Tibet myself, but I certainly don't feel many of things I read in the West or in China are totally unbiased.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy Tibetan New Year...obviously!!!

Yet more Tibetan shenanigans in the papers today. Chinese Premier Wen Jia Bao visits the UK and so the Free Tibet campaign get on their feet to exercise their right to protest. And then the Pro Chinese camp decide to get on their feet to exercise their right to voice their opinions. And then the police decide to get on their feet and sort out the ensuing kerfuffle. And I get on my feet and go for a walk because I've decided these kinds of events are getting just too samey.

So far so simple and so predictable, but however this quote by a Tibetan on the Telegraph somehow puzzled me:

Tibetan Ugyan Norbu ... criticised media coverage of the Chinese New Year pointing out that the Tibetan's New Year starts on a different date but is not marked in Britain in the same way.

He said: "It's either ignorance or bias either way it is very careless and does not show any respect to the growing number of Tibetans living in this country and the British people who believe in Free Tibet."

He has a point. I'm going to sit down and write a severely snotty letter to those red-flag-waving, Communist-lovers at Blue Peter lambasting them for always talking about Chinese New Year every year and shunning Losar, the Tibetan New Year for what can only be interpreted as political bias for a new generation.

Why I'm so annoyed by this I'm going to dig out my old Blue Peter badge and burn it in protest. And I hope both Shep and Goldie's remains rot in hell (or whatever the Tibetans regard as their equivalent to Hell, downtown Beijing maybe??? No jokes about about the dietary preferences of certain Chinese please...)