Sunday, February 19, 2012


I saw a couple of headlines on the front page of a newspaper the other day. One said that the secret services of both the USA and the UK had failed to trace Charlie Chaplin's birth certificate and there was a possibility he'd been born in France. The second headline said that Hitler had fathered a love child [equals 'bastard'] with a French teenager. So I got to wondering whether Charlie was the son of Adolf and that's why no one could find his birth certificate. The dates are probably wrong but funnier things have happened. Though not many.

The English football team, Manchester City, played a match in Porto/Oporto last week. Two of their players - both black - were treated to a chorus of monkey chants from the home supporters, just as English players were the last time the national team played in Madrid. Simultaneously stretching credulity beyond breaking point and insulting everyone's intelligence, the official line from the management of the Portuguese team was that the chanting was really the name and nickname of two of their players - Hulk and Kun. Hulk, Hulk, Hulk, Kun, Kun, Kun. This might have been fractionally more convincing if Kun had been on the field at the time of the chanting.

Britain today: I received a letter from the National Health Service (NHS) yesterday. On the back of it was a message in fifteen languages (yes, fifteen) advising you to get an English-speaking friend to call a given number if you didn't understand the letter. I had difficulty deciding whether this was ridiculous or impressively multicultural. In the end I went with the latter.

Britain today 2: In the café I patronise, the newspaper I wanted today was in a rack behind the head of one of five women taking tea together. As I excused myself for leaning over her head to get the paper, all five of the women apologised to me. Which I thought a tad excessive.

Finally . . . Some genius has finally re-designed the bulky three-pin British electrical plug. The first change in more than 50 years. Click here for details

9 comments:

Ferrolano said...

Colin, I trust that you did have somebody call the NHS??

Regarding the new slim-line plug, you will notice that the earth or ground pin is just a dummy with no effective connection to earth. The only purpose that it can have is to orientate the live and neutral pins to their respective connections – however, depending on the circuit being supplied, is this really justified? The European two pin (round) makes no such distinction as both pins are identical. The US two pin does as one of them is bigger than the other. Look for change in 2047….!!

Mike the Traditionalist said...

So if one person happens to speak none of the fifteen languages will they ask a friend what the letter means I wonder. Regarding the slim-line plug with the dummy earth pin. Have you noticed the European plug which has a contact earth (no pin) can be plugged in either way which means the two pins can be reversed?

Anthea said...

I love the slimline plug but it may not be the first of its kind. My new(ish) phone has a charger with a "collapsible" plug. The third pin pushes in for storage or travel purposes. I bought this some time in November.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Chaplin was born on 16 April 1889. Hitler was born on 20 April 1889. Both were miraculous fellows in their own way. But fatherhood between them, either way, seems... unlikely?

Ferrolano said...

Mike TT – what you have spotted is the difference between the UK and the European technical thinking. As long as the plug, socket and etc. are correctly wired, live is always live and neutral always neutral and in some electrical circuits, this may be important. For example, secondary switching would normally be in the live connection and not in the neutral. However, when it comes to an isolated or double insulated circuit, e.g. most electrical hand tools or minor kitchen appliances, it really doesn’t matter, which is why they allow simple two pin plugs. The UK and to a certain extent the US does not go along with this and perhaps one day, the UK will follow the European example.

Colin said...

@Alfie. Yes, well, I did say the dates were probably wrong for my thesis.

@ Ferrolano: Doesn't the earth prong remove the internal barriers to the entry of the bottom two prong. Something for which I am known to use a couple of matchsticks . . .

Candide said...

Twins! They were twins!

I have seen that Chaplin person in some film of his and he looked awfully like Adolf.

Thanks, Alfie.

Mike the Traditionalist said...

I checked the socket holes on my electric supply here and the apartment is only 7 years old. Several are not wired properly. Some have the live on the left and others on the right. So much for wiring regulations here in Europe.

Ferrolano said...

Colin, your comment is correct so the matchsticks will still rule so, back to the drawing board. Having not lived in the UK for so many years, I had forgotten that detail. However, the barrier could be moved aside by the neutral pin.

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