Senseless? Yes. Avoidable? Not any longer.

Posted July 20, 2012 by elsimmo
Categories: Uncategorized

Another senseless and barbaric mass murder in the United States. Dozens of families and hundreds – if not thousands – of individuals directly affected by the sudden deaths and maiming wrought by an insane man. It is, tragically, a familiar story and the timeline will no doubt play out across the TV news channels for the next twenty four hours until another sensational news item pushes the story off the headline podium and the grisly details become yesterday’s story and therefore no longer news..

And when that happens – when the media dust has settled – what will have changed? Will the pertinent questions around gun ownership, licensing and use have been pursued to their logical conclusions? My guess is that the right wing and gun lobbyists will already be at maximum thrust, hungrily seeking out sound bite opportunities and playing down any link between this type of crime and frankly ludicrous levels of gun ownership or ease of access. Blame will be cast away from the gun lobby, away from those who seek to protect the right to own lethal weapons, and away from those who espouse the ‘wild west’ spirit of self governance and self protection.

Nothing will change. There will still be hundreds of millions of firearms in the United States. There will still be huge numbers of murders tonight and this week. People will continue to die at the wrong end of a gun barrel. America will never wake up to the truth.

Losing someone

Posted June 7, 2012 by elsimmo
Categories: A bit deep

A few months ago now, a wonderful man left this life. He was an honest man, a kind, generous and loving man. He was the kind of man whom people easily befriended – to most he was ‘Tommy’ and to some; ‘Tom’. To my mum he was ‘Tony’, and to me he was… Dad.

Integrity ruled his life and so shaped my own view of the world. He hated dishonesty, reviled deception and loathed criminality. More than a good man, he was a great man, and didn’t care if nobody ever said so. But he was a great man nonetheless.

I could write for hours, days and weeks about him. He would almost certainly not approve – brevity was one of his watch words. So in his honour and after his style of being , I will follow his example and keep this as brief as my still sorrowful heart will allow. Elsewhere I will put into words the bigger story.

Dad, nobody is perfect but you were so much more than you ever allowed yourself to believe. You suffered such indignity in your final years, months and weeks of life, I am immensely relieved that you were spared the conscious knowledge of any of it. In my mind and heart you remain a strong, dignified and utterly honest man and your peaceful slipping from this world was as much as I could have wished for on your behalf.

You are gone now, but I see your face every day in my home, smiling in that very special way of yours. I remain proud to call myself your son, and shall always be so. These words are not the end of my conversation with you because your memory shall always be within me. Love, like your memory, endures.

Thank you, Dad. Thank you.

Ha, ha, ha, ha – stayin’ asleep, stayin’ asleep…

Posted June 7, 2012 by elsimmo
Categories: Rants

WHY are my !@#$%*& legs jumpy????


Staying asleep – how can I have forgotten how to do this? I know I used to be VERY good at it, but the knack seems to have slipped through my fingers some time in the last two years or so. Generally the sequence goes something like; go to bed, chat with my lovely wife for a while, quite often dissolve into helpless laughter together and gently fall asleep with a smile in our hearts.

Then…….BANG! Usually approximately an hour later I am awake, and more to the point, bloody uncomfortable! Usually it’s the legs…somehow weirdly restless, not exactly painful…more like that sensation just after pins ‘n needles and the life starts returning to the limb…I wish there was a word for it because I’d be shouting it each time. The effect upon me is principally to engage my anger glands, and then rapidly I get really pissed off with my legs – two parts of me I have always treated well and been rather pleased with on the whole. But not when they feel like this. I mean come ON!

Now, being pissed off with a part of my body is not a new concept – I am STILL not talking to my pancreas for metaphorically packing up and leaving in 1995 – but I always thought my legs were my friends. They have allowed me to run really quite fast as a kid (I used to regularly ‘ace’ that old schoolyard favourite “British Bulldog”), they have helped me carry things – sometimes very heavy things – push cars, motorbikes, play all kinds of sport with varying degrees of success and lots of enjoyment – but I have to say that I am somewhat disappointed in their current habit of waking me up.

I have of course heard of ‘restless leg’, but I would like to add ‘bloody annoying legs’ to the list of things which happen to the middle aged. I am beginning to wonder (and this is indeed a thought born of desperation) if the old limbs are, in their own way, requesting a return to levels of exercise they were once used to…oh crap. It looks like I’ll have to get down to the gym…

The end of the world, the apocalypse and other silly things…

Posted January 2, 2012 by elsimmo
Categories: Uncategorized

In the immortal words upon the cover of the Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy; Don’t Panic.

It’s not going to happen. Yet.

How can I know this? What prompts me to stick my metaphorical neck out metaphorically so far?

Weellll…let’s just be clear; I’m not being brave and I’m not in denial, I am merely working on the balance of probabilities. So far the world hasn’t ended (and I don’t want to fall into the thought spiral of whether or not the universe is really just a hideously complex construction of my mind) and it is worth pointing out that everyone who has ever predicted the end of the world has been 100% wrong (or was the great dinosaur philosopher Dennis the Diplodocus the only one to really have a point when he started mumbling about the possibility of fire falling from the sky?), no matter how strong their conviction (and I suppose their perception of the strength of the evidence for their opinion).

Scientific observation, whether it emanates from the ancient civilizations or from the more recent discoveries of the Islamic and western empires, has proven – yes PROVEN – to be reliable in a way that leaps of blind faith and interpretation of obscure paintings, carvings or confused scribbled ramblings have not.

Is it possible that a huge natural extinction event could occur? Of course. It’s happened before, more than once, but hundreds of millions of years apart (which, shock horror means that the earth is actually older than 6000 years), the fact of which reduces the statistical risk to effectively zero for next year. If it happens I will probably be found having a thought such as “well isn’t that bloody typical of my luck”, but then since in those circumstances it may be one of my final thoughts, it will be of absolutely no consequence to the universe and nobody will be able to email me to point out that I got it wrong.

As for our Mayan friends – well it is becoming increasingly obvious that the much vaunted Mayan prediction of apocalypse is a mere fabrication, and that the Mayan calendar in fact predicts nothing more than the end of a calendar period (scholars of Mayan texts, where were you when we cried out for a voice of reason?). I hope that all those people who jumped on the bandwagon have made their money and will now shut up and let us get on with our lives. And those of you waiting for the rapture…well you wouldn’t be reading this now would you?

Until that big rock hits us…

Driving me to dissatisfaction.

Posted December 18, 2011 by elsimmo
Categories: Uncategorized

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Time for some more entirely justified grumbling – this time I am condensing my whinges about Canadian drivers (some of which will be transferable on a global scale)…

I am using the word ‘drivers’ loosely because frankly there is a significant proportion of road users for whom I would consider such a term to be flattering. Some of the barely – controlled vehicles I observe are a credit to the clown schools the humans inside obviously attended…

My top ten Canadian driver foibles (not in order of potential danger);

  • Coming in at number ten – Indicating to turn left in the city only at the last second or when stopped – causing the twenty following vehicles to have to suddenly stop and wait.
  • At numero…nine-o…swinging left before turning right – the lane is wide enough already, stop trying to make it wider! Get a smaller car if the road is too narrow for you. Or better still – walk.
  • Doing a figure of eight is; turning off the highway from the left lane and therefore crossing at least two lanes at speed to do so as if having your right indicator on makes it alright. For goodness sake people!
  • Lucky number seven? Driving with no lights at night – the front lights may be automatic but folks, unfortunately we need to see your rear end.
  • Sliding up the charts at number six we find driving at night with badly adjusted headlights (usually pickups) which blind the oncoming driver quite effectively.
  • Holding the number five position with authority is ‘huge pickup driver’ – in both senses – who thinks he (again most often a he) owns the small acreage of road his monstrous machine occupies, and throws his vehicular weight about like an arrogant pig. Climb down into the real world buddy, let’s see how big you are then.
  • Fourth place is occupied by the person who is terrified by corners and bends – and there are so many of these people around. Negotiating bends is a requirement – how the hell did you ever pass a driving test? You DID pass a driving test didn’t you?
  • In the bronze medal position is the cell phone user (most often a female) who executes red light turns, blind lane changes and  worrying tailgating with the iphone pressed firmly to the ear. Wake up before you get to sleep for ever! How obviously stupid does this have to be for you to put the phone down?
  • The first loser at number two is of course our old friend the last of the great queue-jumpers, the (for some reason usually male) driver who leaves it to the last second and last few metres to squeeze from the closed lane into the running lane. Highway entry roads and roadworks are the favourite haunt of this piece of…work. Learn to merge!
  • And finally my personal number one, the thing which ticks me off more regularly and consistently than anything else – the left lane (overtaking lane) hog. From the dreamy idiot who feels entitled to dawdle along in the wrong lane simply because he or she has paid their taxes, to the buffoon who is in the lane from which they intend to turn left in about five kilometres (I am NOT exaggerating), I hate you all. May your exhaust pipe become blocked and your undercarriage wither and fall off.

To all these idiots I say this: get off the roads and stay off. I am perfect and the road is mine!

I’m only in the toilet for one reason.

Posted December 11, 2011 by elsimmo
Categories: Uncategorized

Public toilets or washrooms are strange places and in the course of my varied life I have visited many examples, including, on one or two occasions, the female version by mistake. Apart from the startling revelation that men’s toilet facilities fall far short of those provided for the ladies, I have over the years come to regard some issues around male public ablution as law;

  • To the one in one hundred guys who feels it is an appropriate location to start a new friendship; stop it, the other ninety nine percent are creeped out by you. We don’t want to talk, especially if we are holding our own genitals at the time.
  • If I am standing at the end urinal and at least two others are free, do NOT pick the one next to me.
  • When having a life-altering crap, have the foresight to flush at the mid-point and at the end to avoid that ‘Battle of The Somme’ aftermath we all hate opening the cubicle door to find.
  • Never, EVER allow another man to see you gently placing toilet paper all around the seat before assuming the position…I mean really guys, c’mon.
  • If you’re the guy who can’t hit the eighteen inch wide white bowl from two feet above it, sit down to pee – nobody will ever know.
  • Gents – a little decorum please, grunting and groaning does not have to be a performance sport – strain with dignity.
  • Farting at the urinal is acceptable unless a leg is lifted – that constitutes unnecessary showboating.
  • Straining or heavy breathing at the urinal is most unsettling for fellow users.
  • Farting in mid-strain when in a cubicle requires no apology, we all understand.
  • Phones must NOT be answered from within a cubicle – there are so many ways in which this is wrong.
  • Soap dispensers will always be empty above a spreading pool of soap on the counter-top. Get over it.
  • Gentlemen the sink is for the holding of water, try to keep it off the counter that we all lean against.
  • There must be a full length mirror at the exit of every male washroom for fly checks but there never is –  therefore a manual check pre-exit is mandatory to avoid unnecessary flashing of appalling underwear or even worse, wrinkled skin..

Washrooms are constructed for one purpose so let’s keep our visits as short and sweet as we can…and since we have to be in there, let’s also try to follow the rules!

It’s 11/11, NOT 9/11

Posted November 11, 2011 by elsimmo
Categories: Uncategorized

This week (in fact yesterday) my children attended a school assembly themed around remembrance day. Here in Canada, as in the UK, Remembrance Day/Armistice Day is traditionally a day set aside to remember the fallen of the two world wars as well as all subsequent conflicts (Suez, Korea, Iraq, Afhghanistan etc.). Quite right too I say – I feel very grateful to all those who have given their lives, limbs and/or peace of mind in combat as part of defending the freedoms and way of life I currently enjoy. Those people placed themselves in harm’s way for millions whom they would never know, for causes they perceived to be greater than themselves. What they gave and what they were prepared to sacrifice deserves remembrance and honouring – it deserves our gratitude, our appreciation and above all our respect.

Remembrance day/Armistice Day does not glorify war, in fact the opposite is true. The occasion commemorates and reminds us of the horror of warfare, the reality of human savagery from which we are routinely shielded by Hollywood and TV. My grandfather died thirteen years after being gassed in WWI, one of my many uncles suffered a horrific head injury from an aircraft propeller, another lost his testicles to rifle fire – war is horror beyond most people’s comfort level or imagination.

Thank you, thank you a million times to those who gave, whether they returned home or not.

So imagine if you can, my reaction when my children returned home to tell me that their school assembly had focused not upon the senseless losses of open warfare, but instead commemorated 9/11 with a dramatized account of the event including some interpretive dance (flight attendants dancing if you can believe it). Quite what 9/11 has to do with Remembrance Day escaped me, and needless to say it also escaped my kids, who came home bemused and uncomfortable with what they had witnessed. It seems that the responsible teacher believed that 9/11 heralded ‘a new kind of war’  – presumably he or she felt that the use of the word ‘war’ therefore meant that 9/11 fitted the occasion.

Frankly I’m disgusted. There is simply no comparison of the two issues and attempting to do so is in my opinion insensitive, short-sighted and smacks of following a trend – in this case the trend of mourning over 9/11. That day is commemorated every year on its anniversary (and how – we are repeatedly exhorted and expected to share America’s almost obsessive grief) and again, rightly so – it was after all a horrific act of callous mass murder which should be remembered. It does NOT however compare in any way – materially, quantitavely or qualitatavely – with the events commemorated on Remembrance Day, and most definitely should not usurp our traditional act of remembering and honouring our veterans, alive or dead.

Who authorized this crass stupidity? Who gave the green light to such a ridiculously inappropriate idea? Why should our youngsters be brainwashed into jumping on that particular bandwagon? Why can we not honour whom the day is traditionally intended to honour instead of having a drama teacher’s personal preferences thrust upon the consciousness of our children? I mean really – students dressed as flight attendants performing interpretive dance – if it wasn’t offensive it would be embarrassing. Maybe next year a history teacher could take the lead and provide some perspective?