This week from the Captain- traffic censuses, celebrity chefs and Chris Moyles
Over the last couple of weeks I've noticed many yellow-coated people lurking on the pavements or parked in cars helpfully littering the grass. At first you slow down thinking that it is the speed police waiting to catch you doing 31mph in a 30mph zone. But it's not them. No, it's worse. It's the traffic census people.
Okay, so their presence on the side of the road is annoying, sitting there with their clipboards marking down how many drivers have coats on and how many are picking their nose. And with which hand. These are just about acceptable though, especially compared to when they launch a full scale assault. On two days this week the traffic inexplicably slowed to a grinding halt on the roads approaching my work. Perhaps an accident? Perhaps an overturned lorry, like the ones you hear on the radio. Yes, there are the traffic police in their white and black caps. Yes, and the cones everywhere to divert the traffic away from the accident. And the four people standing in the road with their yellow jackets and baseball caps... What? In actual fact the cause of the traffic standstill was a traffic census, the sort where every 4 cars, a convoy of vehicles is ushered into a specially made coned-off section in the middle of the road to speak to the census people. Luckily on both occasions I had to turn off before the onslaught. But it did make me wonder. What do they ask? Do you have to stop? What if you're an ambulance? A colleague of mine told me they were asking if they felt it fair Chris Moyles had been voted out of Celebrity X-Factor. And what if you're running late- the last thing you need is some spotty teenager stopping you and asking where you're going and why you're going there- I'm going to work because that's where I work.
"...A colleague of mine told me they were asking if they felt it fair Chris Moyles had been voted out of Celebrity X-Factor..."
And what about these yellow-coated people? Who are they? Who do they work for? Do they get paid to sit in a car parked in a dangerous position hanging into a lane of traffic so they can count cars for a few hours? And why do they never get parking tickets? I remember once parking in a Pay-and-Display car park and in the few minutes between me turning the engine off, walking to the machine and coming back, a traffic warden was standing by my car feeling the radiator grill to see how long I'd parked there. I think the simple fact I was clutching the ticket in my hand placated him. It seems though all I need have done is printed off the word "Census" on a piece of paper, shoved it in the window of my car and parked in the middle of the roundabout, which is closer to the shops, and I'd get away with indefinite parking! Never mind disabled parking badge fraud, how long before you can buy a photocopied "Census" notice on eBay?
However, I did actually find out what they were asking. Or rather doing. As you drove up, they thrust a piece of paper through your window with questions like where you've come from, where you're going, why you're going there and how many people are in your vehicle. You then post it back to them and it gets filed in the bin. The reasoning behind it all? To create a "new traffic model" of the city. I've got a traffic model they can have for free. Don't put bloody traffic censuses in the road in the middle of rush hour!
"... I've got a traffic model they can have for free. Don't put bloody traffic censuses in the road in the middle of rush hour!..."
I'm not sure if you've seen the advert. It's the one with the annoying Jamie Oliver on it who, in his now-so-tedious watch-me-throw-things-in-the-bowl way, makes some beefburgers and then gives them away to people waiting to catch a train. Is it just me or is he one of the most annoying men in the world? The Naked Chef. Erm, well he's never appeared naked, and I don't think I'd ever want to see him so. Once upon a time, when I was little, there was a spattering of television chefs, who weren't even really celebrities. There was Delia, who appeared on the front of her book stroking an egg; there was Keith Floyd, who appeared on tv pickling his liver; and there was Madhur Jaffrey. Now there's Ainsley Harriot, Gordon Ramsay, Rick Stein, AWT, Gary Rhodes and the beautiful Nigella Lawson to name a few. And Jamie Pukka Oliver. Now, I can tolerate all of the other chefs, some I even like, especially Nigella. But Jamie Oliver is too much. Firstly he goes around on that stupid motorbike-cum-lawnmower. Then he goes around saying Pukka all the time (does he know that it means something else in Sri Lanka???). Jamie, everything you use is not first class or genuine so please stop saying it. And he also has this annoying habit of throwing food around, almost a cross between Ainsley Harriot and a four year old trying to make some cheese-flavoured stick at nursery to take home to Mummy and Daddy. I’m sure he’s a very nice man who worked very hard to tell us how bad our children’s diet is (because we didn’t know that before did we Jamie?) but I can’t stand him.
The one thing that really infuriates me about that advert though is the pukka beefburgers he makes. Yes, he proclaims as he throws something into a bowl whilst the camera spins around him, these are genuine pukka beefburgers. Oooh, we all coo, genuine beefburgers, pray tell us more Jamie. A bit more throwing of food, and Jamie tells us the ingredients. Nothing but beef, salt, pepper. And breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs? What? Beef, salt, pepper, yes I can understand that- they all go in to burgers when I make them at home. But breadcrumbs? Why Jamie? Why?
"...A bit more throwing of food, and Jamie tells us the ingredients. Nothing but beef, salt, pepper. And breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs? What?..."
One of the things that did come about from me being slightly delayed by the census was a slightly longer than normal listen to the radio. Now, I put my hand up and admit that I listen to on Chris Moyles on Radio 1 in the morning. I know it's aimed at "teenagers" and I am not a teenager, but he is actually quite funny, plays music that won't make my ears bleed and doesn't play stupid adverts that the local independent radio stations play every 3 minutes. And no, I won't listen to Terry Wogan because he's only funny when he commentates for Eurovision.
This week, Chris was pointing out that he was yet again in trouble for his radio show. This time, not for swearing but for being "homophobic" (see this link). It seems that certain people feel that some of his comments may convey a view that he doesn't like homosexual people, and according to the article, similar conclusions were drawn about other radio presenters at the station. And where did this stem from? Apparently he said a ringtone was "gay" on air. Oh. I remember when I was younger the time when "gay" started to be used by teenagers to mean "stupid" or "rubbish". It's hardly as if Chris Moyles had spearheaded a campaign to deport all non-heterosexual people from the country. I can't imagine the happy people of the world started expressing how injust it was when the word "gay" went from meaning "happy" to "homosexual". Anyway, as Chris Moyles has already said that his lawyers are involved, let's leave it at that. But in case the meaning of words might change in future, may I say now that any words I've used in this blog should not be taken to mean anything but the meaning I mean them to mean.