SAVE THE WORLD?

May 20, 2013

I spotted a sign on a commercial van that stated: “This vehicle is limited to 70mph. Helping save the environment.”

For one thing, it shouldn’t be travelling faster than 70mph – that’s the upper speed limit.

That aside, consider the mass of gas guzzling SUVs in America. Add to this the thousands of factories in China belching toxic fumes into the atmosphere. Limiting the speed of one van isn’t going to make the tiniest difference.

The world has survived for billions of years. To think that it needs “saving” by puny humans is arrogant in the extreme.

If all the insects vanished overnight, the world would be a moon within 50 years. If all the humans vanished overnight, the Earth would prosper. It would become a flourishing paradise of clean air, rich life forms and crystal water.

In other words, as a species we humans are the very definition of the word “parasites”, a particularly virulent virus.

Limiting the speed of a van is never going to change that.

Sad but true.

Drew McAdam


HOW DOES MY HEAD LOOK?

April 29, 2013

Seriously? We are THAT vain?

Okay, I can understand why there are mirrors in changing rooms. You want to see how the clothes look on you. How that jacket hangs. And does the colour suit you?

That’s fair enough.

And I can understand why a display rack with various spectacle frames would have a mirror nearby. I mean, you want to check that the colour and frame-shape suit your face.

That’s reasonable, too.

Same with hats. If you buy a hat you want to be sure it will look good, and that the jaunty angle is just jaunty enough. It seems only reasonable that the shop would provide a mirror.

However, I was recently at the airport, where in the duty free shop I happened across a display stand with headphones. And under each set of “cans”, was a mirror.

It took me a moment, and then I realised: What? You want to check out how you look with a big set of ear-defenders and a coil wire perched on your head? You worry that they suit you? That they don’t clash with your hairstyle?

Yes, there are people out there who worry about their visual appearance to that extent. So vain that they would select one pair of headphones over another on the basis of how good they look – rather than how they sound – when they’re wearing them.

If you are one of these people, let me tell you now: There is no way you will EVER look good with what resembles a steak pie clamped to either side of your head.

Drew McAdam


THEN AND NOW

April 22, 2013

My, how fashions change.

The very things that would once have earned you a hard time at school from the “in crowd” have become fashionable – and expensive.

There was a time when dead straight, lanky hair would have earned you the nickname “Lurch”. Back then, everybody wanted “big hair”. Curly, back-combed hair was the rage. Everybody was getting perms – even the blokes.

Today it’s the exact opposite. Ladies pay a fortune for hair straighteners, and – I don’t know this, but I suspect it’s true – even blokes use straightening tongs on their locks.

And what about those Tibetan farmer knitted woollen hats? The ones that look like psychedelic tea cosies with a pompom, big “lugs” and pleated ties hanging down at each side? (I refer to them as “numpty” hats.)

If anybody had turned up at school in my time wearing one of those they would have been sent straight to the remedial class. Their life would have been a total misery.

The same is true of the comb-over. Having hair swept in one direction across the top of your head would have guaranteed you a place in the top ten of laughing stocks. Now, however, every boy band has that windswept and deranged look.

Back in my old schooldays, trainers were just being introduced as an actual sport footwear. There was also the standard black leather shoe. However, the “poor” kids wore baseball boots – cheap black and white canvas pumps – to school.

Today, they are called “Converse” and you can easily pay £90 for a pair.

Back then nobody in the right mind would have worn a “hoody”. Why? Because it makes you look soft in the head – not to mention a bit like one of the Seven Dwarves. Hi Ho!

Again, it’s something that has become trendy and “cool”.

For my own part, I had an American cousin who sent me a Johnny Cash album. While all my friends wandered around with Moody Blues albums and had posters of Jimi Hendrix on their bedroom walls, I was a laughing stock because of my love of The Man in Black. Country music – neither rockers nor hippies had any place for that.

I was an outcast. Seen as being distinctly out of touch with the scene, man.

But today, Johnny Cash is right up there with the greats. Everybody eventually caught up with me. Ha!

So my suggestion is that you look at the things today that are considered silly, uncool and poor taste; and buy some shares in the manufacturer.

A few years from now, that product will be all the rage.

Drew McAdam


KNOWLEDGE VERSUS INFORMATION

April 14, 2013

As a youngster I loved the pleasure of randomly dipping into a set of encyclopaedias we had in the family bookcase. It was packed full of the most amazing stuff.

In my time leafing through those great tomes I learned about inspiring figures like Clive of India and the Second Carnatic War. I learned how a battery works, and I learned all about the most amazing animal in the world: the duck billed platypus.

In fact, I was so enthralled by these books and the knowledge they held that I endeavoured to read each and every volume from cover to cover. Admittedly, I started at Aachen (it’s a German town), and didn’t get any further than aardvark (a nocturnal mammal native to Africa). But it was a start.

I discovered the delight of taking one of the volumes from the shelf, opening it anywhere, and just reading whatever was on that particular page. That way, I built up an incredible storehouse of knowledge. I learned that Olympus Mons is on Mars, and is the largest volcano in our solar system. When travelling in a school, Killer Whales breathe in unison. And Peter Durand invented the tin can for preserving food in 1810.

I also learned that the skeleton of a spider is actually located on the outside of the body. And my imagination was gripped by the story of short wave radio, and how it works.

And these weren’t just a string of facts. I delved into the history of sailing ships and currency. I immersed myself in the biographies covering the lives of the most extraordinary people who have made their mark on this world in the fields of science, politics, philosophy, economics, and so on.

All this, just by opening an encyclopaedia at random, and starting to read.

Of course, we don’t have encyclopaedias today. Instead, we have Google.

So, I tried the same thing. I typed in random letters and just waited to see what it came up with – it’s the closest I could get to randomly dipping into the family encyclopaedia.

What a dreadful disappointment.

Here is what I discovered… lots of information about cheap holidays, flights and hotels. I also found out that UFOs really exist, and that wearing a hat made from tinfoil stops subliminal messages from being beamed into your brain by the Government.
Irina Shayk recently paraded her “to die for” figure in new swimwear shoot.

Oh, and Aaardvark is not a mammal from Africa – it’s a company that manufactures archery equipment.

Yes, with the internet came access to a sea of information. But information is only of any value if it is useful information rather than celebrity non-news and advertising. Sadly, most of the internet falls into those catergories.

However, I’m going online now to see if I can buy an old encyclopaedia. Happy days.

Drew McAdam


WORRIED SICK

April 7, 2013

I have to admit it. I’m worried sick.

To be more accurate, I’m sick. And I’m worried.

I am sick of the grasping business executives who squeeze every penny from those under financial pressure, while awarding themselves a bloated financial package. Sick of bank bosses being given million pound farewell bonuses after proving themselves utterly incompetent.

Sick of the obscenely wealthy demanding more. Duck houses and moat-cleaning. Those who only lift their snouts out of the trough long enough to demand our respect.

I’m sick of sly companies hiding the true cost of products and services in small print, then making it impossible for the consumer to escape the contract. Or win a refund. That makes me sick.

Yes, I am sick of the great rock-steady establishments that were once trustworthy, now bowing to greed, while using deceit and semantics to line their pockets. Mega-profit corporate self-interest with no conscience. No guilt about filching somebody else’s hard-earned earnings. The pensioner, the infirm, the vulnerable.

I am sick of a system that protects the criminal and persecutes the victim. Sick of so much red tape that it’s impossible not to unwittingly fall foul of the law – criminalising the ordinary citizen.

Sick of the situation where old folks are abandoned and left to rot in care homes, while the violent jailbird is given food, warmth, and a hi-def TV.

Aggressive tax avoidance schemes. Where you and I pay our dues, and the fat cats don’t. That makes me sick. As does the fact some of the banks – institutions we should trust the most – have been swindling their customers, and are so deceitful that some are even facing criminal charges.

Sick of being told that those husbands and wives, mothers and fathers – who are working long shifts in the bitter cold of winter to feed and clothe their families – should also support the feckless and the lazy.

Sick of religions that wrap themselves in gold and blood while forcing their views upon the masses, based on the demands of their vindictive, invisible friend in the sky.

Sick of the sexualisation of children.

And worried? Yes, I am worried – but not for me. I am worried for the youngsters; those innocents not yet born who will grow up in a society that is unravelling through greed and avarice. Where such a world will be the norm. The blameless generation who will be regarded as a target to be fleeced, rather than a customer to be served.

I am old enough to know what it was like to live in an age of innocence. And I am glad of it.

But, yes, I am worried for the young.

Worried sick.

Drew McAdam


MORE THAN JUST A BADGE

March 31, 2013

As I’m writing this, I am wearing a special T-shirt. It’s black, with red writing. And the writing says “Lothian & Borders Fire & Rescue Service”.

Well, from today, that organisation no longer exists. And as a former member of the Brigade, that is a sad thing indeed.

Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service will today be amalgamated, along with seven other fire and rescue services, into a new, single service.

It’s a major change, yet one of which few are aware. To the public, it means little. To the members of the brigade, it means a great deal.

Lothian and Borders is the oldest municipal fire brigade in the country. It was founded back in 1824 by James Braidwood. An amazing man, he later went on to found the London Fire Brigade, and was killed in 1861 when, while helping fight a fire, a wall collapsed on him.

Unfortunately, bureaucrats do not understand pride – neither in the Brigade nor in a regiment. Neither do they understand teamwork. Nor morale. Nor the buddy-buddy system. They have no grasp of what makes the uniformed services so effective and efficient.

How can these faceless just-give-me-my-salary robots possibly understand that these brave men and women fight – whether that be a fire, the seas, or an armed enemy – spurred on by the weight of tradition and history; of others who did so before them.

And all that fighting, and loss, and honour, and tradition is encapsulated in a badge. A badge that the faceless ones have decided should be scrapped.

To the public, the badge being unceremoniously removed from the side of the fire engines will mean little. Yet this is the very badge that was worn by hundreds of courageous individuals who faced fire, went toe-to-toe with danger, saved lives and lost their life to smoke and fire. It is a poignant reminder of all that has gone before.

That’s why these men and women wear their cap badges with pride. They are people of honour. It is more than a badge; it’s a symbol.

Bean-counters, and the let’s-reorganise-for-the-sake-of-it bunch understand none of that. Yet they are the ones that make the decisions. How insulting.

They have failed our brave men and women who face the danger and perils with no thought of their own safety. Those who do their duty for the brigade, the regiment, the history, the tradition and those who went before.

As one of my friends, and a long-serving firefighter, said about the pen-pushers: “They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

How true.

Drew McAdam


LORRY LOONIES

March 25, 2013

This week I drove all the way to Huddersfield where I was performing for several hundred accountants at an institute dinner.

Now, it’s easy to categorise people according to their occupation. For example, all accountants are boring. Entertainers are show-offs. Lorry drivers are all kings of the road.

It’s not always accurate, though. These accountants were a wonderful, lively bunch. Full of good humour.

And lorry drivers; kings of the road?

Heavy snow and high winds were forecast to sweep in from the South. So, after the show I ran straight off stage, changed, and then gunned it up the road in an attempt to keep ahead of the incoming weather front. Which meant driving through the night

It seemed that lorry drivers had the same idea, and were all heading North in long convoys.

Some of the trucks were double-section vehicles. Massive rigs controlled – and I use the word loosely – by drivers of very little sleep and even less brain.

In the act of overtaking you had to be switched on because they would suddenly lurch into your lane for no reason. Indicate and pull out, unaware – or uncaring – that you were already occupying that lane. Perhaps they were falling asleep or reaching over for a chocolate Yorkie Bar and losing control, I don’t know. I didn’t stop to find out.

A disproportionate number had faulty headlights which meant one of them was on full beam. Others had banks of silly coloured lights so that they resembled Wurlitzer jukeboxes thundering up from behind.

Several had bright blue lights on display. Now, I’m sure that only emergency vehicles are allowed blue lights. How come they never get pulled over for that?

But worse was to come. Heading away from the motorway and onto the winding country roads, I had one lorry who insisted on sitting right on my tail. I mean RIGHT on my tail.

If something had jumped out in front of me and I’d had to slow down – not even brake hard – it would have been Drew McAdam pizza all over the asphalt.

Amazingly, having got rid of him, he was replaced by another thundering behemoth that did exactly the same thing! It must be in their training manual.

And God only knows what the lorry driver who came round the corner at speed on the wrong side of the road thought he was doing. Pucker Factor nine.

So, accountants can be jolly fun. And lorry drivers; Kings of the Road? Sorry, but I’ve revised my view on that, too.

Drew McAdam


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