The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

England Is Becoming America …
May 20, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Food, Health

When I was in the UK recently, we found ourselves in a cheap and cheerful hotel.

While it was clean and quiet, it had no food service and so if you wanted to eat, you went to the cheap and cheerful pub next door.

In-keeping with these sorts of ‘restaurants’, the menu consisted of food that was cooked by being placed in a deep fat fryer … but what really got me was the portion sizes.

Frankly they were huge.

I mean absolutely massive.

And this is coming from a man that loves his [bad] food.

What the hell is going on?

What’s worse is they are trying to make it even bigger.

Seriously, look at this:

Yes … despite offering basically a whole set of farm yard animals on a plate, they offer you the opportunity to ‘Go Large’.

Are they mad?

They used to say that anyone who visited the US for 2 weeks would put on about 7 pounds over that time, but I bet it’s the same – if not more – when you now visit the UK.

Of course part of the reason – and there are many – is that the food companies have made us think quantity represents value.

Our minds now look at the portion size and compare that with the price to evaluate whether we are getting a good deal.

Doesn’t matter it’s full of fat, salt and sugar.

Doesn’t matter that it contains way more than anyone needs in a single meal.

Doesn’t matter that there are more calories than Elvis could munch down.

Value is now often viewed as quantity not quality – especially when we’re talking about prices of between 5 and 10 pounds – so it’s no surprise many lower income families view this sort of food as their average dinner.

Years ago Jamie Oliver took this issue on with his school dinners program.

Regardless what you think of him, I thought this was a great idea but sadly, it’s still easier to obtain food like this – at least in the UK – than something approaching anything with some health value.

With so much pressure on NHS funding, surely it’s time the Government start taxing companies who make this junk and cause future health problems?

I know ultimate responsibility lies with the parent/consumer but by the same token, when people are literally surrounded by opportunities to choose the wrong thing – driven by big corporations who do all they can to push their low-quality food drug [as seen in the brilliant W+K WeightWatchers ad below] into the hearts, minds & mouths of society – surely a Government whose job is to protect it’s citizens should step in?

What Pollution Looks Like …
May 19, 2015, 6:25 am
Filed under: Comment, Pollution

The words China and pollution are often unintentional bedfellows.

Especially in Western media.

That said, without doubt the level of pollution here is much, much higher than many other countries, however I would also say that the level of pollution is more limited to cities rather than the country as a whole.

To be honest, I found the situation far worse when I lived in Hong Kong than I do living in Shanghai – though I appreciate that was driven by industry in Guangzhou, which was re-affirmed by the fact that when there was a national holiday in China, the weather in HK was amazing – but the fact is, now I’m the proud father of an awesome little boy, my awareness of air quality is even higher than it was before.

[If you’re in China and are interested in the air quality, you should download Airpocalypse … an app designed by my old planning colleague, Tom]

Anyway, the reason I say this is because a photo came out that showed the differing weather conditions over a period of a year.

Some caveats.

1. Not all of the ‘dark skies’ are pollution, some of it is just shitty, rainy skies.

2. This was done in Beijing, which has much, much, much worse pollution than Shanghai.

3. There is no additional caveat, I just like writing things in groups of 3.

I’m not trying to defend China/Beijing’s pollution … it’s bad and needs dealing with.

Even the government realise this. In the old days, pollution was just viewed as a negative byproduct of economic growth but now, they’re seeing the implications of this attitude and are responding by spending enormous amounts of money [they’re already the biggest investor in green tech] to try and change it. Not – I should add – just because they recognise the negative effects it’s having on their people’s health and their countries reputation … but because they still need to keep the engine of their economy burning and they have to find a new way to do it that won’t ultimately undermine their progress and development.

So yes, it’s because of self interest, but then, what isn’t where governments are concerned.

But there’s a bigger reason for writing this.

The fact is much of what the West write about China is skewed with prejudice and ignorance and so this picture – while bad – is to serve as a reminder that rather than blindly believe what is written in the newspapers or the internet, look into the facts and the context because then you’ll end up with a much clearer picture of what’s really happening.

Even clearer than a Beijing skyline.

I Know This Post Will Make Me Sound Like A Pretentious Wanker [As Opposed To Just Being A Wanker], But I Like It And Think We Could All Do With Remembering It, Regardless Of The Job We Do Or The Level We Are Doing It …
May 18, 2015, 6:25 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Comment

… maybe the fact I’m not following it up with any planner rubbish will make you hate it less?

Didn’t think so.


Today Is The Day …
May 15, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

… all APSOTW assignments have to be in.

So if you haven’t sent them yet, send them to this address.

From tomorrow, I will be contacting all the judges with your submissions before going through the herding-cats hell of getting all their feedback within 2 to 3 weeks.

In a perfect World, I would hope to publish all the comments by the end of the month but the reality is it will probably be in June.

Talking of June, it’s my birthday on the 12th. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

Anyway, to everyone who took part a few words.

1. I hope you enjoyed it.
2. I hope it made you think.
3. I think it’s bloody brilliant you did it. I really do.

As I mentioned when I set the assignment, the person deemed to have made the best submission will get a prize.

For the record, it WON’T be an iWatch.

It might be a picture of an iWatch, but that will be the closest you get to me giving you one.

Unless my friend Bazza at Apple comes to the party and hands me a freebie, but the chances of that are approximately nil.

Anyway, thanks for taking part, I’m really interested to read what you guys came up with and until then, have a great weekend.

PS: Yes, the picture used in this post really is clip-art. And yes, I do feel dirty for using it. Sorry.

Why The Musical Genre Of Metal Could Be A Danger To Your Sex Life …

I love metal.

Not the stuff you build things out of, but the music genre.

Now I know some of you regard that as the musical equivalent of ISIS, but I don’t care.

Of course I like other genres, but for me, metal is best.

Maybe some of that is because – as a guitar player – my instrument of choice is upfront and centre, but mostly, I just love the way it reaches inside you and squeezes your soul.

In my younger days, I took this appreciation of heavy rock to an extreme … from having [believe it or not] long hair to wearing the sort of clothes that today, would have you either arrested or considered a homeless person.

Of course nowadays I choose to just enjoy the music rather than live ‘the lifestyle’ but even if that wasn’t the case, I still doubt I would be rushing out to buy this …

That’s right, it’s a heavy metal inspired fragrance.

Now I appreciate other musical genres have done this but it just seems super wrong for metal.

Metal was built on a foundation of rawness and power and this just feels … all pampered and nice.

OK, I appreciate time has moved on from my days going to Rock City on a Friday night, but it seems totally at odds with the principals metal was built on.

Bloody hell, I’m taking this all a bit too seriously aren’t I!?

But I’m not finished yet. Oh no.

For a start, what does ‘BE MORE. BE METAL’ even mean?

It sounds awfully like the sort of bollock lyrics you’d hear on an early Judas Priest album.

Oh hang on, that’s why … because this product was created by none other than K K Downing, the lead guitarist of that very band.

What a coincidence.

On one hand I have to admire his entrepreneurial spirit. It takes a lot of balls to actually do something like this.

However, on the other hand, I have to question his sanity.

Not just because he has entered an oversaturated category where the multitude of competitors spend hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing … but because even if I was totally into the metal music lifestyle, I’d find it hard to ‘buy into’ a brand that was created by a 64 year old man who plays guitar for a semi-retired band, originates from the antithesis of fantasyland [better known as West Bromwich], calls himself K K [admittedly because it stands for Kenneth] and looks like this:


I’m not being a dick, I’m being a realist.

And if you still think I am being prejudiced, have a look at this interview and then tell me if you would want to be seen buying – let alone wearing – this fragrance.

The defence rests it’s case.

Sorry K K. I admire the passion, but I think the years of being hit in the head by your pounding, powerful riffs have fucked with your brain.