Computers and Credit Cards

I have to admit it. I am not an overly patient man. Today tried my patience to the limit. It all began when I noticed that our local appliance and furniture shop, Harvey Norman, was offering 30 months free credit on Apple computers. I need a new computer so my interest was piqued. I have always disliked this shop for two main reasons. First the name is incredibly stupid. It sounds like the founder had a really boring name and his advertising agency suggested he reverse it to make it more appealing. Secondly, it stocks the most God-awful furniture ever to have been shipped from China in its entire history and that includes those three ton coffee tables in shit-brown wood popular in the Mao era. Today I passed such design classics as a blindingly white shiny melamine (?) coffee table for a mere $600. I took a wild guess that in two years time the same table will be on sale in a local recycling shop, complete with scuffs, scratches and sun yellowed surface for about a tenth of its purchase price. However, I digress. I made my way to the computer department.

Strangely three of the assistants in the computer department were Indian. I was intrigued by the statistical improbability of three people from the sub continent ending up in the same depressing store. I engaged one of them in idle banter about a trip I had made to India and then we got down to business.

Yes he could offer me 30 months free credit. I took out my GE Money card. Ah no, it seems my card has been superseded by a ‘GEM’ Visa card. O.K. I can live with that. Unfortunately, Getting a new card is not simply a matter of transferring my details and history to the new card. That would be far too simple. No, he had to make a totally new application. What is my name, address, DOB, phone number , cell number, e mail address, time at present address, etc. I half expected to ask what color underpants I was wearing. Had I proof of identity he enquired. Yes a drivers license. A utility bill perhaps as well? I had brought a reminder from the council to re-license my dogs. No that is no good because it’s undated. I offer a bank statement. Yes, BINGO. That’s acceptable.

“Can you give me a friends name?”
Excuse me?
Are you serious?
I’m not opening a Facebook account.
No, he is deadly serious.
I ask why he needs this. He looks baffled. Because the form demands it. Yes, but why?. No answer. Apparently that bit of the training had been left out. I can tell he is looking around to see if help is near in case I turn violent. My tone of voice must have given me away.
I tell him this is the stupidest question on an application form I have ever heard. I assume this nugget of information is to provide the credit company with a sap whom they can beat with baseball bats until he gives them my hide away address in the event that I default on the massive amount of money they are offering me.

I decide this is the moment to make a theatrical exit. I stand up and tell the assistant in magisterial tones that he has just lost a $3000 sale on the basis of an inane question from a credit card company who, given half a chance, will hit me with usurious interest rates if I go over my credit free period by 30 seconds. What’s more they are probably responsible, in part, for the world financial melt down, rigging LIBOR and selling shonky financial derivatives.

As I march out, the effect is totally spoilt by the assistant running after me waving my Driver’s License which I have forgotten on the table.

I’m not going back there in a hurry.

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Back View

Rear View

THis is the rear view with the little window. Notice the convenient crash bars in case of careless reversing!

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Interior and Exterior

The Inside

This is a stitched panorama which gives an impression of the interior of the Caravan


This was taken outside the garage so i got rid of the garage! The roof is actually cream but the wonders of the internet turn it white.

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Coat Rack

Coat Rack

Gillian got this coat rack at The Salvation Army store. Aren’t they perfect!

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Finished… well nearly!

Ready for occupation!

I’ve just got to finish the wheels…. might be more complicated that I thought but the rest is finished.


A clown needs post and milk every day!

The Door Bell

Milk Churn

Post Box

And a stool to sit and watch the world go by.

Marked with his name!

Oh… I nearly forgot the water for washing off the make-up.

Water Jug

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Thinking about Being Old


The image above is by my favorite painter, Rembrandt, depicting an old man. I wanted to write about being over sixty, which is not, I appreciate old in absolute terms. It is however old in relative terms to the way I see myself. I don’t have a sense of being old except when I see my face in the mirror and it tells me that I have aged. I don’t mind. As Maurice Chevalier said “Being Old is not so bad when you consider the alternatives.” I feel that my mind is sharper than it has ever been but accept that this might be self delusion. However the delusion, if indeed it is one, is perfectly pleasurable.

After I began drafting this, I realized that I actually have very little to say about being old because I don’t see that it affects me in any way intellectually. Sure the wrinkles are there but who cares? I use my brain and my hands more than any other period of my life. I am in the fortunate position of having passed that period where I have to hire my brain out to some fuckwit organization with a mission statement, a recognition of stakeholder value and an obscene greed to make money for its pension fund shareholders. I think about what I want to think about and I make what I want to make. If that isn’t the definition of a happy man then I don’t know what is.

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Thinking about my Granddaughter


The day Piper was born we sat in the delivery suite and waited and waited. We had no idea what was going to happen. Apprehensive, worried, nervous but trying not to show it. We’ve been through all this before with our own child and we should be cool, calm and collected. But I am not. I want this so much for my son and his wonderful wife. I want them to know what it’s like to hold a new-born child. I want them to know the drug of unconditional love. I want them to know the lifetime of joy a child brings.
Frankie, Piper’s Godmother, is sitting quietly, calming us all. After my daughter-in-law is taken away to theatre for a Caesarean we are bereft. There is an empty bed where, just a few minutes ago, there was a smiling wonderfully pregnant mother. Now the atmosphere has filled with tension. Suddenly Frankie says, “Does anyone feel tearful?” I exhale deeply. Yes I do, that’s for certain. I’m so grateful to Frankie for breaking the tension. We all smile knowing we are feeling exactly the same emotions.
An alarm sounds and nurses rush past our door. Yes, I know what fear is and now I feel it. My son rushes to the door. I can imagine what he is feeling. The single biggest thing that can happen in your life has suddenly been threatened. It’s a false alarm as they are going to a nearby delivery suite.

Then the indescribable moment. A nurse appears with a baby swaddled and barely visible. I watch my son hold his child. It’s one of the moments you can never, ever forget. Afterwards, I hug my son after the baby is taken away. Now we are both fathers, the most important thing we can ever be.

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Warming to my theme of the clown caravan I thought it would be a brilliant idea to decorate the back of the caravan with a clown in a clown car. It got as far as the stage shown in the photo when the Artistic Directer (AKA Gillian my wife) came to inspect. A wrinkled nose and a succinct critique resulted in the abandonment of the design. She was. of course, right. Dammit!

This is how it now looks awaiting inspiration!

Banksy, where are you when I need you?

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Subverting Democracy?

If you are worried about the democratic process in the USA, and you should be, then the news that the Koch Bros are planning to spend a cool $125 million on the mid term elections taking place in November should give you a long pause for thought. If you don’t know about the Koch Brothers then its about time you did because their brand of polluted politics is waging a war on what you and I think of Democracy. Have a look at what these guys stand for and prepare to be horrified that they have the clout to really influence who gets elected to run America. If you think that US politics don’t really matter have a good think about how the world has changed as a result of George Bush’s flirtation with neo-conservatism. He was a wimp compared to what these guys have planned for America.

To put this $125 million in perspective, it’s about the same as the main parties, Republican and Democratic will spend on the mid-terms. These two billionaires will spend as much as the two main political parties with the interesting difference that they don’t have to announce any policy or seek any mandate. $125 million exceeds the 2012 fundraising hauls of the Democratic National Committee, The Republican Congressional Committee the Democratic Senatorial Campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. They want to destroy anyone who dares to stand against their favoured ultra conservative puppets.

Now the complacent among you will argue that money failed to buy Mitt Romney the last election. That is true and it was largely a result of the fact that the Conservatives were totally outflanked by a well-oiled Obama machine. Trust me, the Conservatives will not let this happen a second time. They have learned their lesson.

With a touch worthy of Dean Swift or George Orwell, the avalanche of money will be channelled through the wonderfully named “Americans For Prosperity”. Never has an organization had a name at once so true and so false. The prosperity we are talking about here is that of the 1%. The rest of you can go starve. One of the policies the Koch Brothers campaign against is the minimum wage. After all we wouldn’t want Walmart employees to get paid a minimum wage. For God’s sake they get food stamps,. What more do they want?

What is worrying about the Koch Brothers is that they have almost unlimited funds to spend on securing the election of candidates who are sympathetic to their cause. Single-handed they have the potential to derail the democratic process by virtue of their wealth.

This is the democracy George Bush said the whole world envied. Thanks a lot George but if you don’t mind we don’t really want a country where the rich decide the agenda and the poor in their schools have to beg on the internet for funds to buy pencils.

I have taken a lot of the statistics in this post from Kenneth P. Vogel’s excellent article for Politico on the Koch Brothers.

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The doors in place

The doors are now hung in place. I have made a stable/Dutch door with two sections. The top part can be opened and the bottom remain closed and you could play shop or whatever. The circus theme was a result of a stray click on a link when I was researching wagon construction. I came across some magnificent pics of circus wagons from the last century and decided that my wagon should be a clown’s circus wagon.

Top Door

The door originally had no juggling clown but I decided it looked a bit flat. The two clowns at the bottom were found in the Nelson Salvage centre and are from two bookends.

The Tent

There is something universal about the circus even though I suspect that they are not as prevalent as they used to be. I wonder how many children have actually seen one for real. Whatever one feels about the morality of using animals in a circus, there is nothing quite like seeing trapeze artists swinging above your head and clowns nearly spilling water all over you! It’s magic!.

Teddy Bear handle

I came across these teddy bear handles hidden on the bottom shelf of the hardware mega store. They are perfect for the door!

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