A picture of the author. animated sun

My Rants And
Moans

By Andrew Westcott

So What's This All About?

It has been suggested that life begins at forty, and for various reasons this could be true; It represents a stage in one's life where there is possibly no longer a swarm of young offspring to tend to and feed, and a chance that one has settled down into a reasonably secure financial rut; However, it also represents a time during our personal development when we become perhaps a little less tolerant of some of the more stupid and annoying features of our society, and the stupid and annoying people in it.

Well, given my age, I have entered that stage in life where a variety of situations, habits of the general public and the media have really started to annoy me, and I have decided that it might be somewhat therapeutic (to me, anyhow) to vent my spleen and write down some of my opinions on these things, as and when they get to the point of warranting such a measure. I am fairly certain, and this has been confirmed by friends and work colleagues, that I have prematurely entered the 'Grumpy Old Man' phase of my life, and as such, have decided to age completely in keeping with my new-found status by allowing myself some rants and a bit of a moan at some of life's more ridiculous offerings.

I've started to list my favourite rants on this page, and without doubt the list will continue to grow as more annoying issues spring to mind, and for a bit of extra fun I've decided to incorporate a 'right to reply' here, where I invite you to e-mail me with your reactions to any of the rants posted. If you wish to comment on any of my rantings please e-mail me at the following address to air your views, but put something like 'rants' in the subject line to ensure I don't just delete it as spam:

Unfortunately there have been a small minority of readers who have taken this page and my opinions far too seriously, and who have utterly failed to grasp the tongue-in-cheek context in which this is meant to be read, so perhaps for the benefit of these and others like them, I'd better spell it out:
THIS IS FOR A BIT OF FUN, SO DO NOT TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY.
I don't know! People, eh??!

If your remarks are worthy, I'm happy to include them in the space provided below the rant to which it refers, although I'd like to be able to give readers some idea of where the reaction came from, so please give me a first name and an approximate location, such as the nearest city and your country, and then maybe over time we can build up an image of how the world in general feels about some of the more important issues facing us at the moment!

INDEX OF TOPICS I'M CURRENTLY RANTING ABOUT:
 
Celebrities - Or Not As The Case May Be
Brainless TV Programs
The Timing Of The TV Watershed
Cats And Their Excrement
Starting Christmas Too Early
Unnecessary Salt In Food
Huge Off-Road Vehicles - On The Road
Squealing Women On TV Soaps
Talent-Free Pop Music And Falling Singles Sales
Pile-Up At The Supermarket Checkout
Computer Animation Facial Expression Overload
Teenagers' Silly Shorthand On MSN Messenger

image to divide topics

Celebrities - Or Not As The Case May Be

This rant was spurred on by hearing that a certain program was to be screened here in the UK yet again: "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!"

My wife, the bearer of this horror, then proceeded to assault my sensibilities by giving me a run down of the so-called 'celebrities' who were supposed to be appearing in that particular series, and the list included, amongst others, Sheila Ferguson of Three Degrees fame, Brian Harvey of East 17, Paul Burrell the former butler to the late Princess Diana, and Vic Reeves' modelling wife. (don't know her name.) Some fool even put forward the name of Antonio Fargas, although there can be very few people under the age of thirty-five who have ever heard of him. (To put you out of your misery, this was the guy who played Huggy Bear in 'Starsky And Hutch'.) I can't help wishing the producers had renamed the show to "I'm A Hasbeen, Get Me Out Of Here!" It would have been far more appropriate. OK, I'll admit that I do find the program entertaining, and this rant isn't really directed at the program itself, rather those appearing on it, as I can smile smugly as I watch them making complete asses of themselves. What I find even more sad is that these people know they are being televised, and yet continue to act like prats.

Now, do any of these people deserve celebrity status - indeed, what qualifications does someone need to become one? All too often these days we hear of someone being described as a celebrity when all they've done is appear on some silly reality show for a few minutes or failed their driving test a few times. Another scenario is where an entertainer was once in the public eye, but has since disappeared from the TV or radio suggesting that celebrity status must have an expiry date, and many of those put forward from this category are certainly way past it. Brian Harvey is one such case, as is Sheila Ferguson, both having been well known and successful as entertainers in the past, but can no longer be considered to be household names. Paul Burrell represents another category: He's never been an entertainer and presumably had no intentions of appearing on TV, but since the publicising of the court cases, suddenly he's regarded as a celebrity! Now we come on to Vic Reeves' wife. I'm sorry, but I don't even recall her name, but I understand she has a successful career as a model although it is no doubt her association with Vic Reeves himself which has landed her with that throw-away celebrity title.

Perhaps the problem isn't with the people who are unfortunate enough to be saddled with the 'celebrity' millstone, rather those pathetic journalists and TV producers who are charged with trying to keep the attention of the reading/viewing public by forever inventing fresh streams of celebrities, or resurrecting long-forgotten personalities to fill the inevitable gaps. Personally, I think the expression 'celebrity' should be ripped from the English language and buried at midnight in an unmarked grave.

Replies Received:
No-one brave enough so far!

Back to index.

image to divide topics

Brainless TV Programs

You must have seen them - those utterly stupid reality programs or those hideously unfunny comedies. Now, perhaps I am the only one who feels this way, and when sharing my views with others it certainly seems that way most of the time, but I really don't see any point in them.

The best example from the first of those two categories, the reality shows, has to be Big Brother. Flippin' heck, talk about a cop-out for the producers! All they have to do is find a handful of jumped up nobodies willing to make utter rear ends of themselves, bung them in an arena designed to ensure close contact and there you have it - an apparently highly successful TV show. Unfortunately, to me, all it demonstrates is just how far the human race has failed to evolve.....

The second category of brainless shows, the unfunny comedies, has to include such gems of cranial excrement as 'The Office' and 'The Royal Family'. Can anyone honestly say that they found any of it remotely funny? I spent some time watching The Office on several occasions in the hope of seeing something clever or funny, because I had been informed by other people for whom I had respect, that this is what I could expect. All I could see was a program where the skill of acting was obviously not required, and where I had to cringe in embarrassment at the lunacy of a certain Ricky Jervais passing through a period of self-indulgence. This series apparently has won awards!!

'The Royal Family' is another classic of nothingness, as is 'Early Doors'. Once again, these programs are something the avid actor spotter need not get excited about, and the story line is equally uninspiring. I have had to endure both of these programs on several occasions as my wife freely admits to enjoying watching them. I don't understand how anyone can call this entertainment - I consider it to be an insult. Both are fine examples of really cheap-to-make programs, supported by an audience who have been brainwashed into thinking this is good TV, or those afraid of being ridiculed for telling the truth about what can only be described as utter tripe.

Replies Received:
 
From Barry, location unknown, 4th January 2005:
     I agree wholeheartedly, any crap is good enough to amuse those brain transplant donors that make up the greatest part of the British viewing public. LIVE YER LIFE THROUGH THE SOAPS IT'S EASIER ON THE TWO REMAINING BRAIN CELLS THEY HAVE LEFT!

Back to index.

image to divide topics

The Timing Of The TV Watershed

This bit concerns what we in the UK call the 'watershed'. This is a rather odd name for 9:00 in the evening, and has to do with the content of the programs shown on TV. It would seem that some board of idiots with an undeserved official capacity has determined that every child in every house everywhere within the UK will be in bed before 9:00pm and be unable to view a TV after that time, and therefore it would be quite OK to allow the screening of unnecessarily detailed scenes of violence, and copulation between humans, along with all the usual foul-mouthed dialogue typical of an inept script writer trying to fool people or himself that he really has some talent. Reflecting reality? There's enough of that in the real world, thankyou.

Although I'm sure that most responsible parents try to get their kids off to bed at a reasonable time, it is inevitable that there will be times, especially over the weekend or during the Summer, when that nine year old daughter of yours will still be up and watching TV after this 9:00 watershed. I feel that swearing, bad violence and explicit sexual scenes are unnecessary in a well written program or film anyhow, but I certainly don't want any of my kids seeing this kind of rubbish - do you?

The simple answer would be to move the time of the watershed to 11:00pm, as this would mean the majority of youngsters would be tucked up and out of harmful TV's way, and presumably in the case of those that weren't, the parents probably couldn't care a hoot what their kids were doing, anyhow.

Replies Received:
No-one brave enough so far!

Back to index.

image to divide topics

Cats And Their Excrement

Here's something that really gets my goat. I have no objection to people keeping pets as long as they are well cared for, and indeed I have pets of my own, but what I don't agree with are pets that affect other people. Dogs could be included in this category, although if their owners bothered to clear up the inevitable deposits, I wouldn't have too much of a problem with them.

No, it's cats I have a major issue with. Irresponsible people buy or adopt these tapeworm-ridden flea-busses, and then in the majority of cases let them roam the neighbourhood to freely dig holes in peoples' gardens and leave disease and parasite ridden excrement anywhere they care to; Anywhere, that is, except their own territory - their owners' gardens.

In my opinion, cats have become little more than common vermin, and I would like to see laws introduced to protect people from cat intrusion, or to give people the right to deal with the problem themselves in any manner they see fit. I have several young kids, and in the Summer the two boys in particular like to play in a large excavation at the end of our garden, destined to possibly be a carp pool one day, but all too often we have to stop them because of the presence of cat turds laying in the earth. Cats are filthy, dirty animals, a danger to my children, and I don't see why I should have to put up with their shyte all over my garden.

Replies Received:
 
From Emyr, location unknown, 31st January 2005. Edited down somewhat...
     I think that the problem has much deeper roots in that we shouldn't have domesticated them in the first place....Why not campaign against dogs instead? They're infinitely more hateable. No, the solution here is for us to give animals back their freedom and dignity by not keeping them inside our homes and forcing them to adapt to our homes and lifestyle in the first place. Breeding and battering the dogness or catness out of them so they can live in our homes is a problem we have created so we shouldn't be blaming the cat/dog. After all we are in charge here aren't we?

Back to index.

image to divide topics

Starting Christmas Too Early

Oh dear. They do it every year, don't they?
"Do what?!" I hear you cry.
I'll tell you what, starting to advertise Christmas on the telly way before time, that's what. I wouldn't mind if the adverts were simply for items suitable for Christmas presents and so-on, but do they really need to adorn the screen with tinsel and multiple Father Christmasses in sodding October?

The big problem for me is that by the time Christmas eve arrives, I'm sick to death of the whole thing, and the day itself is a bit of an anticlimax compared to the massive publicity during the run up. Of course, it is all commercially driven, which is another thing that annoys me tremendously because as far as I'm concerned, Christmas should be all about assembling the family and celebrating this most Christian of events together, with loads of nuts, drink, crackers, bellyache and all the rest of what makes Christmas time the occasion it is.

Perhaps there should be a firm restraint put on anything remotely Christmassy until at least December, and ideally it should only be allowed during the last week before the 25th, because at least that way, we can make the time a little special without all this commercial dilution we currently have to endure.

Replies Received:
 
Ann, location unknown, 27th November, 2006.
     I do so agree with you and have found my own way of coping. I do my Christmas shopping before the shops have even thought about it, then stay away from the town centre throughout December to avoid the commercialism. I am then free to enjoy December celebrating the real meaning of Christmas, going to Advent services, carol services etc. The week before Christmas I throw myself into the cooking having invited anyone who wishes to come to my Christmas dinner. I collect all kinds of people who, for whatever reason, are on their own and we have a wonderful crowd here on Christmas day. Regarding the ads on TV - apart from the fact I don't watch much TV, if I do and the ads come on I nip out and make a cup of tea. Every year we have a wonderful time, my children and I love Christmas and they join in the spirit by inviting all and sundry to our house - anyone welcome. So you see, it is possible to really enjoy Christmas without all the tacky stuff.

Back to index.

image to divide topics

Unnecessary Salt In Food

This concerns a major health issue: The ridiculous amounts of salt added to our food. Most of us are now aware that the human body doesn't need additional salt in our diet as we are able to obtain all we need through normal foods, indeed too much can have negative effects on our health, the best known being elevated blood pressure and all the nasties that go with the untreated condition such as kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes. Our bodies are able to recycle salt, and in recent years the armed forces have realised that they no longer need to distribute salt tablets to combat the suspected salt loss due to sweating, because quite simply it doesn't occur - when all excess salt has been lost, the sweat no longer contains any.

Food manufacturers add salt to various foods as a taste enhancer, but the amounts added are really beyond a joke and in many cases the final product may well be even saltier than sea water. My real concerns are with bread, tinned beans and tinned spaghetti, because there is really no need to add the amounts they do. A tin of cheap beans may well contain over two grammes of salt per tin - I would challenge anyone to swallow that amount of salt whilst keeping a straight face. Along with many other people I have a medical condition which dictates that I should keep my salt intake to a reasonable level and finding suitable foodstuffs can be very frustrating.

But here's the real niggle: It is possible, if you look hard enough, to buy baked beans with 'reduced salt', but guess what?? They cost more! How the heck can anyone justify charging more for a product which actually involves fewer stages or ingredients in the production process, and isn't it high time the manufacturers were forced to stop this practice and offer food which might actually be considered safe?

Maybe someone could start the ball rolling and consider litigation against one of these companies for damage they've suffered to their health, in much the same way as tobacco companies are now at risk of being sued for similar reasons.

Replies Received:
No-one brave enough so far!

Back to index.

image to divide topics

Huge Off-road Vehicles - On The Road

Many of you might have already experienced this: You are driving down a country lane when suddenly you are faced with an enormous four-wheel drive vehicle. Now, common courtesy dictates who should reverse, but if it falls to the other driver to do so, all to often they are unable to, and if they attempt it they often end up in the hedge, glaring at you as if it's your fault. Another scenario is where there is ample room to pass, and yet the idiot in his or her oversized car seems afraid to get close to the hedge for fear of scratching their pride and joy.

Now come on!
If you are going to live in a rural area, at least learn to drive these bloody vehicles, and better still, accept that on these narrow roads you might just get a sodding scratch or two!

And then there's the school run.....
Most of these huge vehicles, the ones with four wheel drive, huge ground clearances and filthy great steel bars across the front have never been, and never will be, driven off-road. Various excuses are given for their ownership but whichever way you look at it they are unnecessary if they are only ever to be used on a sealed surface.

My solution is clean and simple:
Create some new vehicle classes and introduce an additional, more advanced driving test for anyone who wants to own a vehicle either with a huge power to weight ratio, or that occupies a cubic volume over a predetermined size. It has long been accepted that lorry drivers have to prove their driving ability this way, as have motorcyclists, and I strongly feel that these outsized four wheel drive vehicles should be subject to the same restrictions. That way, maybe one day I'll meet someone driving an off-roader who can actually handle the machine and be able to reverse into that gateway eight feet behind them.

Replies Received:
 
From Mike, Honiton near Exeter, 13th October 2005:
     As a driver and owner of a "4x4" I have to comment. I agree that while driving down rural lanes and coming across large vehicles there is an obvious choice of who should reverse. However, as for many people this has happened to me countless times and more often than not I find myself reversing for one of two reasons;
 
1. The other driver (regardless of vehicle size) just does not want to reverse.
2. The other driver (regardless of vehicle size) somehow managed to pass a driving test having never actually mastered the art of reversing, or reversed well enough to pass their test then choosing to abandon practicing that part of driving on the foolish assumption it won't really be needed.
 
I can honestly say that I have come across most if not all the usual vehicle sizes in country lanes and as a Landrover Discovery owner (without the hideous bars) have found myself reversing often as much as a hundred yards or more. Yes...I can reverse my Landrover anywhere during day or night & in any direction, and furthermore if any gateway or space is capable of taking the size of my vehicle then I am skilled enough to get it in there.
 
What annoys me more is trundling through lanes at 20-25mph to suddenly have to swerve because some doughnut coming in the opposite direction is doing 50mph with no regard whatsoever for who or what might be 20 feet around a bend.
 
 
From Jim, Wormshill, UK, July 2006 (edited slightly):
I am a cyclist....
 
No, I don't jump red lights, ride on the pavement or pay road tax on my bike. But neither do I pollute the atmosphere or break the speed limit. What I do is cycle along the country lanes near my home at Wormshill, minding my own business, trying to keep out of everybody's way. I probably meet more four by fours than most and have learned to get out of their way pretty smartish if I don't want to become just another stain in the road.
 
The worst culprits are those drivers towing horse boxes who do not seem to realise that the trailers are wider than the 4X4 and just steam on regardless. It's bad enough when you see them coming towards you; it is lethal when they overtake you from behind. The 4X4 goes past and then the trailer tries to cream you, whilst the driver sails on in blissful ignorance of the near carnage, or perhaps just doesn't care.
 
And whilst I am in full flow, what gives horse riders the right to deposit great steaming piles of shit in the road and just ride on, leaving the resulting mess to be spread around by following traffic. I can tell you from personal experience, that a light coating of horse shit, disguised under a thin veneer of rain would put the Cresta Run to shame. Give me cat poo any day.

Back to index.

image to divide topics

Squealing Women On TV Soaps

I live in what can best be described as a lively household as I have five children and most of them are at their most vocal from around the time I come home from work up until the younger ones have been safely deposited in bed. We regularly experience the inevitable squabbles and shouting matches which can and frequently do test my patience to its limits. Sometimes I lose ground and shout back...

As if to add to my aural torture, there seems to be a constant stream of soap operas on telly during this time, including such gems of creative talent as 'Coronation Street' and 'East Enders'.

OK, I understand these programs are supposed to represent real life, but is it really necessary to repeatedly show these stupid characters yelling and screaming at each other and dramatically smashing household objects in overblown demonstrations of fake rage? It must be bad for young kids to see adults behaving in such a way, and seeing it so regularly on TV can only result in these young people growing up believing that this kind of behaviour is not only normal, but socially acceptable.

For goodness' sake, can't we have drama without all the drama?

Replies Received:
No-one brave enough so far!

Back to index.

image to divide topics

Talent-Free Pop Music And Falling Singles Sales

There has always been a fair bit of rubbish offered up in the name of pop music and this holds true no matter what decade you look at, but in recent years the sheer quantity of crap has broken all bounds. The worst offenders are those numb-skulls who cannibalise a classic pop track, cut out a small interesting sounding portion and then loop it ad nauseam to create some pseudo-dance track or rap crap, and those wailing female "R&B" singers howling along to an electronically generated backing track. I think part of the problem is the ease with which a nobody can now make 'music' in their bedroom using equipment which simply wasn't available to the general public twenty years ago.

This brings us on to the issue of falling pop singles sales: Look at it this way - if you ran a factory and decided to manufacture a poor quality item, would you be surprised if it failed to sell well? Chances are you wouldn't. The same goes for falling singles sales. If these talentless twits were removed from the scene and the A&R guys did their job and introduced real talent to the arena, the quality of the product would go up, followed by that inevitable rise in sales. It's no good them harping on about loosing sales to mp3 downloads as this is a very poor excuse, and can be easily disproved by looking at some of the very recent success stories which have managed to sell over half a million singles despite the illegal downloaders. Ever since the advent of the Audio Cassette, people have illegally copied songs for themselves or others, but because the musical standard used to be higher, it didn't cause a noticeable problem. Offer a good product, and it'll sell. It's so simple it hurts.

To illustrate my point, would you have bought Eric Prydz's 'Call On Me' for 4 quid? I know many people did, but I fail to see why and can only assume most of them were young kids, as it was a very poor rip-off of a classic Steve Winwood track - 'Valerie', and technically the sound quality was atrocious. And have you heard the latest vomit to encompass samples from Captain Sensible's version of 'Happy Talk'? OK, it was a couple of years ago now, but the bloke responsible for assaulting the human race in that manner should be castrated with a spoon, and an eagle instructed to lay open the wound afresh at each sunrise for the rest of his natural life.

Replies Received:
No-one brave enough so far!

Back to index.

image to divide topics

Pile-Up At The Supermarket Checkout

You've probably experienced this one before:
It has become necessary, for whatever reason, for you to go and do the shopping on your own, which you have dutifully done, and now find yourself at the checkout. You've managed to load everything on the belt before the checkout assistant has finished with the previous customer and feel quite pleased with yourself for managing to keep ahead of things up to this point, as well you should. Right, now it's your turn, but despite your solitary status, he or she seems intent on whacking your stuff through as fast as is humanly possible, with blatant disregard for the condition of your eggs or that bottle of whiskey. You are frantically trying to open the bags in a futile attempt to keep abreast of the barrage of groceries but are ultimately fighting a losing battle as the scanned items continue to pile up incessantly at your end.

So why do they do it? I would fully expect that the performance of checkout staff is monitored in some manner, so that slow performers can be weeded out or given further training, but it seems no-one realises that no matter how fast they push the stuff through, you still have to pack it and get it off the counter before they can turn to the next customer, and given the way some of these idiots pile it up, it actually takes longer to accomplish as you try to sort through for appropriate items for a particular bag, quite apart from being plain bloody impolite.

Surely, if the staff kept an eye on the your progress and scanned items at an appropriate speed, keeping just a few items ahead of you, things would go a lot smoother, faster and with less stress?

Replies Received:
No-one brave enough so far!

Back to index.

image to divide topics

Computer Animation Facial Expression Overload

I was sitting with some of my younger children watching a computer animated cartoon when I found myself becoming extremely annoyed with the grossly over-emphasised facial expressions many of the characters were displaying. The eyes and mouths would change shape to an extraordinary degree, and eyebrows would sweep over vast expanses of head as they spoke. If I let my attention become deflected even for a moment, I found myself subconsciously mirroring these silly expressions, which I found a little embarrassing even if no-one else noticed, which I hope was the case. It worries me somewhat just what effect all this is going to have on our kids - are they, after years of immersal in this falsely overly-expressive world going to fail to notice real but subtle expressions on real peoples' faces? The two worst offenders from our own collection of animations have to be 'Finding Nemo' and 'A Shark's Tale'. The flexibility of the characters' faces in those two would put a champion gurner to shame.

Why can't the animators, who are quite obviously highly talented people, simply tone down the facial expressions a little to something closer to reality? Do they honestly believe they have to do this to capture the attention of the under-fives? If so, perhaps their time would be better spent making the content a little more engaging. I, for one, would then find these productions a little easier to watch.

Replies Received:
No-one brave enough so far!

Back to index.

image to divide topics

Teenagers' Silly Shorthand On MSN Messenger

I have a brace of daughters, and they are now of the age where they wish to keep in contact with their friends. One of the preferred ways of doing this is by using one of the instant messenger programs available to run on a computer, MSN Messenger seemingly being in vogue at the moment. Now, I don't have a problem as such with this, apart from seeing these young people glued to the screen typing for all they are worth when I would prefer they just went outside and engaged in real conversations with the same people....

My real gripe is with the language they use. It appears initially to be a form of shorthand, but after careful investigation I consider much of it would be almost as quick to type out in full, given the time taken to translate and the relatively small number of typed characters actually saved. Where text messages on mobile telephones are concerned I can see a benefit in shortening certain words as there isn't a keyboard as such, but abbreviations on a proper keyboard? I don't see the point, and I put it down firmly to peer pressure and the need to demonstrate the same characteristics as the rest of the group, no matter how silly.

Here's a piece of 'conversation' from MSN Messenger's recorded history, exactly as written:
 
-------------------
  A: omg tom has got a girlfriend
  B: i no thats wat i was sayin :(:'(
  A: yer i no but i asked im nd he sed th im gonna go on bebo nd split em up 4 u
  B: kk nd thnx
  A: yer n e fin 4 u
  B: hehe lol
  A: lol
  B: his girl friend will c da comment
  A: gd
  B: av u cn it
  A: no will do tho
-------------------

Says it all really, doesn't it?

The saddest thing about it for me is when I see notes written on paper to or from various friends in exactly the same language; I have a serious concern about these young teenagers' ability to construct a sentence in good ol' English, and indeed it is well known that personnel staff at various companies up and down the country regularly receive letters of application interspersed with the same silly shorthand, suggesting that the applicants have become brainwashed into believing that this form of communication is acceptable outside the boundaries of MSN Messenger, which it most certainly isn't.

When I was younger, we had the use of such delicacies as CB radio. This form of communication had its problems, but at least you were able to hear a real human voice complete with inflexions rather than having to resort to such expressions as 'lol' to indicate humour. I'm trying to impress my views on my daughters but up to now my complaints seem to have fallen on deaf ears.....

Replies Received:
No-one brave enough so far!

Back to index.


If you have any remarks to make regarding this page
please feel free to e-mail me at this address:


© Andrew Westcott 2003 - 2010

Valid HTML 4.01!