Plea from Pia


A plea from my lovely friend Pia...... she has a point,

Do you remember when we used to say in this country about toasters and washing machines ‘why don’t they sell them with the bloody plug on?’ And now they do, right?

So can anyone tell me why Apple doesn’t sell their phones with the bloody screen protector? So that cack handed people like me don’t have to wait a few days and then stick on a smeary, bubble infested and wonky bit of clear stuff? For crying out loud, the amount they charge, you’d think they would bung on the things that we all buy for a couple of quid and do a better job of it. 
(Feeling frustrated because my computer is not working - got it in for apple and google this evening.)

shhhhhh.... let's not tell her they will apply the screen protectors for free with their special gadgets in Apple stores!


Apple; Enemy of the State

Transit Camp in Hong Kong, forty of us cheek by jowl in an old Nissan hut. Getting to the jungle in Brunei was a relief.

Transit Camp in Hong Kong, forty of us cheek by jowl in an old Nissan hut. Getting to the jungle in Brunei was a relief.

Ask a soldier of my era what new development had the biggest impact on their daily lives and they will bore you to tears for hours and all will have a different answer. Some will say it was the switch from DMS boots and puttees to 'Boots, High Combat.' Others may say the introduction of Clansman radios from the antiquated A41's while others will simply say, "Mrs Thatcher." Some contrary souls will allude to the BATCO battlefield code rather than the old Slidex while others may point to the SUIT rifle sight for use in Ireland. The wits amongst them however will probably say either 'promotion,' or 'leaving!.'

The item though that had the biggest and most meaningful impact on my daily life was the invention and sale in 1980 of the Sony Walkman. Obviously, life as a soldier involves living in close proximity to other men; travelling, sleeping, working, relaxing. Sometimes, life can get very 'cosy,' indeed. Accommodation in most Security Force bases in Ireland for example tended to be cramped and rudimentary with triple bunk beds crammed end to end. I was lucky on one tour, sharing a small attic space of an old rural police station with three others, 'at least we'll be first to know when the mortars hit,' we used to joke. Travelling by truck, train or t'plane as a unit was never much fun. For reasons best known to itself, it seemed to take the Army five times as long to move anywhere than it takes anyone else. That could mean 12, 18 or even 24 hours on troop trains moving from one part of Germany to an exercise in another part.

Everyone has their own stories but the Walkman, well it was a godsend.  Suddenly, despite being in the (usually very smoky), confines of tight places with the unique combined smell of wet leather and '58 webbing, rifle oil, brews, beer and bodies one could put the headphones on, close the eyes, and drift away to another place listening to a tape that the girlfriend had put together and given to you on your last leave. It gave me, and our generation, a first taste of temporal escapism and I promise you, what is now taken for granted was first greeted with sheer, deep and meaningful joy.  That is apart from one commissioned ex RSM who I shared a tent with at an American training area called Grafenwohr in Germany. Although we were non-tactical he didn't take well to this instrument of the devil. He started by accusing me of being a 'mongrel punk rocker,' who would, 'have your brained fried into mush, if there was anything in there,' and who would end up being 'bayoneted by a charging enemy through the flaps of the tent because I had my head up my arse.' 'Thank you for the advice, David,' I said, 'Shall we go to the Mess Tent for a beer where you can tell me more about all my shortcomings?' Funny isn't it.... all anyone says afterward is, 'I made lifelong friends.'

I haven't lost the habit of listening to music through earphones so it came as something of an unwelcome shock to discover that Apple are to stop production of the iPod Nano and whatever the wee small thing the size of a stamp is called. This is an unwise and calamitous move by Apple, if not for them then certainly for me. How do they expect me to listen to music on my telephone when after only six months the wretched things have a battery life of about four and half minutes? Size, shape, usability it's all wrong, wrong, wrong. I simply can't see me fishing, standing in a river listening to the 79th Farewell to Gibraltar on my phone... too risky if it goes in the drink. And falling asleep to music? Well, there are a whole different set of consequences for Mrs Flashbang to my tossing and turning while attached to an iPod than there is to a clunky iPhone. It's not going to end well. This is what happens when you sell your soul to a single manufacturer..... they all let you down eventually..... bastards. I'll say that again, utter bastards.

Of course, those egg-head Geeks in Cupertino may think it's very smart and clever doing away with the trusty iPod but what about the lads stagging-on in outposts far away or on or deep under the ocean in ships and submarines. There's not much use for a mobile telephone on a submarine. Of course, mobile phones give an easy give away electronic signature to the enemy... especially in identifiable clusters. Question.... exactly who's side are Apple on?

'So, enjoy it while you can Crumble,' I hear you shout. I intend to but I am going to go one better. Just for all you three loyal readers I'm going to share part of my current sleepy-bye, night-night play list. I have a few. This week I'm passing through the Sixties and while I rarely get through the first five or six tracks before nodding off there are some absolute beauties here. As they say on the Upper East Side, 'Enjoy!'


Spread the Joy

Careful; dancing with your daughter can lead to unexplained events

So, I was chatting recently with an old friend who has had a few downs rather than ups of late and I had a thought. 'I remember,' I said, 'standing next to you waiting for a train on the West bound platform at Piccadilly tube station years and years ago. You turned and said to me, ‘Do you ever imagine what it would be like if everyone on the platform suddenly burst into song and dance from a musical?’'

Up until then I must admit I hadn’t. I have since. He was ahead of his time. We now know them as Flash Mobs. He might have perhaps had something like the kids in the clip above in their epic FM in Antwerp in mind. I certainly wouldn’t object if this lot joined me on public transport either. As it happens, Mrs Flashbang is a leading exponent of the Flash Mob genre. She made quite a mark with the rest of the village choir at the South Harting Summer Fete I can tell you. The things this family put me through…..

Still, what is there not to love about a world where people spontaneously burst into song around you and spread a little joy and happiness. Next time then you think a bad thing, imagine fifty people around you breaking into a song and dance number from 42nd Street. You’ll feel better; works for me.

This whole 'be nice and spread a little bit of joy,' thing has been taken up as the cross on a crusade that can only be described as, 'well, why not?' by an outfit called Liberators International, created by social artist and world peace maker,' Peter Hendrick Sharp. Odds and ends of the narrative on the web site are a bit New Age but actually, its just about sharing and being a good neighbour to those around. In England, he'd either be thought of as slightly eccentric or someone destined for a career in the rural church, as a Blue Peter presenter or in fat counselling. 

Spread the Joy

But I'm not here to be miserable and cynical so lets share the joy ourselves by checking out LI's now viral clip taken on the 07:51 to Perth in Australia. Incidentally, being the big softie I am I went to iTunes to buy the track by the now sadly departed Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and of course, you have to buy the whole album to get the track. Apple sell themselves as some kind of friend to the world. They're not. They make machines that I like but they don't play nice. They're not inside my circle of trust that's for sure.

Some souls however, think on a deeper level and search for more meaning. They needn't look far as  David Steindl-Rast reminds us in this TED talk. He describes himself as a monk and interfaith scholar but obviously he's not. We Jedi's can spot another pretty easily. Anyway, worth a listen if so minded; if only to remind yourself  what your grandparents always told you, 'be grateful.'

iPad 2 Review..... Here We Go Again

So, the clever guys at Apple have just announced another way of relieving us of £650 to do more things that we didn't realise we could possibly live without. Is it my imagination or do I really recall a happier and less stressful time when absolutely every person on the planet didn't have to be connected up the ying-yang and ten year olds didn't know more about everything than Stephen Hawking?

Anyway, here's the review; hope you enjoy it.