Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Shut up, Bunny, and let me have my Peptides!!

"Ggrrrrhhh!! Proctor & Gamble again!!" daughter No. 2 hissed, waving her fists in a wind-milling sort of way at the television set.
You can "regenerate skin's appearance, one cell at a time” the advert claims about their ‘Olay Regenerist’ product.
Why?? How?? Is it MAGIC???

As Nadine Baggott, the nice and seemingly ever to wonderfully regenerated lady in the advert says, it’s the Pentapeptides in Olay Regenerist!
Nadine Baggott looks very good for a fifty year old – pity she is only in her 40s. So much Botox, yet she's selling Olay products. Well girl, it's more than cream you've been using. Care to list all the surgery???
So . . . how many animal cells have Proctor & Gamble destroyed in order to persuade Tracey and Lorna from the factory up in Liverpool that they, too, can look like Nadine, in spite of their fish & chip diet and 40 a day smoking habit??
You think I exaggerate? Let’s look at some facts!

Procter & Gamble are the world’s largest consumer products company, with an annual turnover of over $43 Billion –
that’s $43 Billion!! Their international headquarters is in the US city of Cincinnati.
Traditionally known for their soaps and detergents, P&G now produce a massive range of products in hair care, cosmetics, perfumes, personal hygiene, laundry care, snack food, paper and feminine hygiene, and even pet food.
Here is their product list! How many can you find in your home?

Companion Animal Care
Eukanuba, Iams
Old Spice, Secret, Sure
Diapers and Baby Care
Luvs, Pampers
Food and Beverage
Folgers, Millstone Coffee, Pringles, Sunny Delight, Torengos
Giorgio of Beverly Hills, Helmut Lang, Herve Leger, Hugo Boss, Old Spice
Hair Care
A Touch of Sun, Aussie, Balsam Color, Clairol, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Hydrience, Infusium 23, Lasting Color, Loving Care, Men’s Choice, Natural Instincts, Nice ‘n Easy, Pantene, Pert Plus, Physique, Ultress, Vidal Sassoon
Always, Alldays, Tampax
Laundry and Cleaning
Bounce, Cascade, Cheer, Dawn, Downy, Dreft, Dryel, Era, Febreze, Gain, Ivory, Ivory Snow, Joy, Mr. Clean, Swiffer, Tide
Non-Prescription Drugs/Health Aids
DayQuil, Metamucil, NyQuil, Pepto-Bismol, PUR water filtration system, Sinex, Thermacare, Vicks
Oral Care
Crest, Fixodent, Gleem, Scope, Whitestrips
Paper Product
Bounty, Charmin, Puffs
Skin Care
Clearstick, Cover Girl, Max Factor, Noxzema, Ohm, Olay
Camay, Ivory, Safeguard, Zest

P&G admit that guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, ferrets, rats and mice are among the animals used in their ‘product safety research’, as well as cats and dogs in pet food experiments. Investigations continue to reveal disturbing examples of P&G’s ongoing involvement in painful and lethal animal tests.
Procter & Gamble exist for one reason, and one reason only - to make as much money as possible. P&G test on animals because of their desire to get new chemical ingredients on to the market. This allows them to claim that their new hair dye, skin cream or washing powder etc. is ‘new, improved’, in the hope of increasing sales. But with many companies producing similar consumer products without carrying out animal tests, it shows that P&G’s cruelty is motivated by greed.
Obviously, P&G realise that their behaviour appals most people. Sadly, instead of reforming, P&G invest enormous amounts in PR and spin that aims to give a rosy impression of their testing practices. P&G have even been lobbying governments to try to block bans on animal testing for cosmetics that have public support. Now investigations have uncovered P&G’s outrageous plans to carry out massive animal testing programmes for new cosmetics and household product ingredients.
Money is the only language P&G understand. Ultimately, by refusing to buy their products, you hold the key to saving the many thousands of animals who suffer and die every year in cruel tests conducted by this company.

Remember the turnover of $43 Billion?? No wonder they can spend 1.4 Billion on advertising! Next time when you watch a program and the adverts come on, see how many Proctor & Gamble products you can spot! Oh, and by the way . . Duracell batteries??? Yup, you’ve guessed it!! Now also P&G!

Just one final thought:
Next time you follow the call to get your Pentapeptides, just be aware that Proctor & Gamble throw in a few things for free.
Here they are:
Cyclopentasiloxane, Water, Glycerin, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Niacinamide, Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3 (yes, there really are some of these!!), Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Allantoin, Cetyl Ricinoleate, BIS-PEG/PPG-14/14Dimethicone, PEG-10 DimethiconePEG-100 Stearate, PEG-10 Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Metabisulfate, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Benzyl Alcohol and Fragrance.

Now, doesn’t that feel better??!!?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Smelly Scents in Smeg Town

Having avoided the smegging town of Aylesbury for a week I just had to go into town today to visit the bank and get new Aftershave, as I had completely run out.
At lunchtime I therefore saddled the trusted car and rode to Morrison’s car park.
The bank was a quick in-and-out affair and I entered the smelly section of the department store in the centre of town.
Looking over the counter at all the men’s toiletries I decided to try something new.
What can I get you?’ the friendly assistant asked in a posh voice.
Eeehhhmmm, I want to try something new’ I spouted. ‘I have tried Paul Smith, Allure and Armani but thought I’d have a go at something else.
Do you like citrus?’ the assistant wanted to know.
I like limes’ I joked ‘They are so funky!
No reply apart from an Oi-weirdo-leave-my-shop look.
Sorry, I do like citrus!
Aha, I thought so, as all the names you’ve mentioned are strong on citrus fragrance!
As I said . . . I like citrus!?!

‘ . . . pregnant pause here . . . ‘

‘What about Boss?’
‘What about him?’
‘Do you like Boss?’
‘Nope, not really!’
‘But this one is a citrus Boss!’
‘OK, let me see’
She squirts 2 or 3 puffs of mist from the Boss bottle onto a strip and hands it to me.
‘Naah! Don’t like it’
‘Here is one you will like!

It’s Issay Miyake!’

‘Issa who??’
‘Issay Miyake!’
‘Sounds like a Japanese motorbike! I can just see the picture of someone asking me what the aftershave is I am wearing and me blurting out “It’s Kawasaki!” . . . . Next’
‘What about this one, it’s new and it’s Italian!’
‘I like Italian!’
‘I am half Italian!’
‘Which half? Hahahaha . . . . ha!’
As I tried to smell it my brain was confused by Boss, Itchy Malakee and God knows what else.
‘Keep this strip for me and I will be back in a couple of minutes to sniff it again! My senses are overloaded.'
I walked around the store looking at jackets, shirts and sniffing as little as possible.
‘OK, hit me! Let me have the Izmir Myjacket and the Italian Job!’
A couple of sniffs later Italy had triumphed over Japan and I walked out with my new Eau de Toilette (or was it Aftershave??) with free shower gel and body balm under my arm. It’s called Zegna, just in case you are at all interested.

By the way . . . In the advert, is he riding a Japanese motorbike??

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lies, damn Lies and Statistics

Here is a mysterious story of a gradual 180 degree U-turn.
Right from birth the quest of many parents, including my own, and one of the main pillars of upbringing is to ensure little Johnny (and little Jane) are remaining on the upright path of respectability and honesty.
Honesty is being rewarded whereas lying is punished.
Lying – so it seems – leads to all sorts of hideous situations and causes untold damage to the one who lies and the one/ones being lied to.
The Bible (and several other religious equivalents) seems to back this up. So as a child the message slowly (or sometimes swiftly) sinks in:
Truth = Good . . . . Lies = Bad

Some things are however seemingly exempt from this rule:
First . . Father Christmas, the Tooth-Fairy . . then . . little white lies to ‘not hurt people’s feelings’ . . followed by lies, embellishments or omissions where the truth doesn’t really seem to matter too much . . and finally lies at work (in order to get promoted) and lies at home (in order to keep the peace).
Sometimes – and sometimes more often than not – it seems that the lies have won the upper hand.
Nowadays where nobody is ever guilty or responsible of anything and it is always someone else’s fault, there is just no lie – no lie at all – which cannot be logically explained, excused and defended.
The 180 degree U-turn from truth to lie is complete and seemingly without adverse effect. Right??!

Well, to really see the difference and to get the shock of your life, try this:
One day – maybe tomorrow? – tell the truth and nothing but the truth to everyone you meet – without colouring or sugaring it. Do this from the time you awake to the time you go to sleep.
Do it at home, on tour, at work and in the pub.
The-Electronic-Firefly awaits your comments (and results) with anticipation!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Tumbleweed in the City

Last night we had our AGM (Annual General Meeting) with our share club at work. It is only a small club of about 10 members but we have done really well in the past and even got our story and pictures in the national paper. Every time we have an AGM however the stock market goes down sharply (sheer coincidence I’m sure but nevertheless annoying) and this time was no exception.
As we discussed the state of things before getting completely and utterly drunk we all realised that we are indeed living on the edge so to speak with everybody, everywhere being in debt – from countries and governments over companies and pension funds to families and individuals – all of us owe Pounds, Euros, Dollars and Yens.
How did we get into this state and how do we get out of it? Should we in fact even bother to get out of it?
Maybe it all started when the banks realised that lending money will make them a fortune in return or maybe we as consumers realised that we can have our cake and eat it and that our hectic life is a very short one and by the time it is over we might as well be in huge debt and let someone else worry about it.

Nevertheless the fact still remains that if complete repayment of all debt was suddenly been asked of us or else goal would be our lot, then the streets would be empty and tumbleweed would be aplenty in every city. There are 3 crazy months awaiting me, sprinkled with weddings, holidays and littered with expenses but after that I will sit down and look at everything and anything that could save some of the green stuff (money) and see if we can do without it. Honest Gov’ . . . . . . . . or is this still the booze talking???

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fathers & Sons

I’ve been thinking about fathers lately. To be more specific, I’ve been thinking about fathers and children and their relationships - especially sons. Take any family and go back a few generations working forward and you will probably find that fathers in particular hold a lion share in the way their children turn out. It struck me that one father in a long line of fathers can really cock things up or alternatively right many wrongs and break the chain of bad fatherhood. In the father – child relationship the father is the more important one. Not more important in terms of hierarchy but more important looking at the outcome of this relationship and what happens afterwards. A father does not need his children as role models nor does he necessarily change the way he is depending on what his children are like. The father can have more than one child and can have more children without ever looking after them if he so chooses. The child however has always only one father – for life – period! Children who have not been acknowledged by their father during childhood as loveable, acceptable, forgivable and important human beings will very often turn out to have low self esteem, carry guilt and swing to either end of the scale of being very introvert or aggressively, moodily extrovert. This in turn often leads to them treating their children just like they were treated without ever meaning to do so.

A healthy relationship from father to child is not easily achieved since nobody ever tells you how to be a good father. I guess it takes time and effort as well as the realisation that as fathers we also are just men with many mistakes and hang-ups and by no means infallible. Speaking on a personal note I believe I could have been a much better father, in spite of always wanting the best for my children. So what kept me from being this better father?? A lot of it I guess might have been my relationship with my father. There was for example the often unnecessary need to enforce or correct little, unimportant things. Who, for example, really cares if a door has been left ajar or if the knives and forks are the wrong way round? Does it matter if we arrive 10 minutes late for a get-together or that the music is being played a tad too loud? Being busy to bring up the children with my own (my father’s) standards I did not realise how small-minded and stifling this approach often was. The other trait I have definitely inherited from my father is the short attention span I have when talking to them. Like my father I am always very happy when they arrive at the door step and we have a meal together but nearly always it is me who leaves the table first, missing out on any family conversation which might follow.

Like me with my father so I wonder if my kids also find it difficult to just come and talk to me. I guess they must do. In all my upbringing (and it was a good upbringing) I never had the feeling that I was accepted as an equal in this father-child relationship and maybe this is something which cannot be achieved but it left me with a lot of insecurities, feelings of unworthiness and hidden angers which, during the upbringing of my children manifested themselves in the enemy of all relationships: INCONSISTANCY!!
Often I saw my children trying to test the water to see what mood I was in since the answer to a simple question could have several very opposing outcomes depending on the state of my present mood. This should not happen and yet I am plagued with it to this very day. I look at my children and I am amazed how they have turned out in spite of all of this and I am extremely proud of how lovely and thoughtful they are. I do see them as adults in their own right and not just as ‘offspring’ and they deserve credit for beating the odds of becoming clones.
Was my father a bad father – far from it! He loved us and looked after us, he kept us safe and tried to teach us respect. He just did it in the only way he knew how to – in a mixture of how he himself had been brought up and personal judgement. I guess that is all one can ever do. My heart however goes out to those children who through no fault of their own do not have a father. Their challenge to bring up their children is a great one indeed.

As for me . . . I am both – a father and a son and mighty blessed to be in that situation.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Serious Gardening in Progress

What a great day!! It’s Friday, blue sky and really hot out. My colleagues immediately came to persuade me to abandon my plans for a trip into town but instad to follow a British tradition. It took about half a second to get my agreement and five minutes later some of us from work left to visit our local pub for a meal, a drink and some serious sunshine in the wonderful beer garden.
So I grabbed my “Mr. Anderson” – sunglasses (see a previous post below) and we piled into a car with the inside temperature of a medium sized industrial oven. Ten minutes later we spilled out onto the Bugle Horn’s car park at Hartwell.
We ordered out food and with Staropramen (beer) in hand settled in the garden under a sun umbrella. Good job we came early as by the time our watches showed 12:05pm the place was full and every table occupied.
If we had any say in this we would have not returned to work but instead made an afternoon of it but since we all need to drive home at some stage this would not have been the smartest idea. Fair to say that all of us like this sort of gardening!
With a bit of luck I’ll win the lottery tomorrow and then there won’t be any need to work.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Monsieur Monet, you have left an Impression on me!

Last night I saw the second part of the magnificent BBC program called “The Impressionists”, which is a three part factual drama vividly telling the story of some of the painters in 1870’s France.
The story tells about rivalries, romance, and a struggle for recognition – a unique insight into the world of the Impressionist painters.
To modern eyes, Impressionist paintings possess a familiar, well-loved beauty - Monet's exquisite water lilies, Renoir's smiling girls, Degas' delicate ballerinas.
However, to most people (and especially art critics) of that time, Impressionist paintings were seen as scandalous and heretical.

On their first appearance in Paris in the 1870s, the paintings caused outrage in the art world, were viciously denounced by critics and rejected by the public. "They have declared war on beauty," wrote one critic.
It was many years before this opinion would change.
This tale of poverty and of a struggle for recognition, set against a backdrop of war and revolution is counterbalanced by the brotherhood of artists, bound by enduring friendships and their commitment to a new type of art.

The story is led by the paintings. Some of the world's most memorable art works are recreated here following the same techniques that the artists used at the time.

Monet with his vision for paintings that capture the images, energy and light of the modern world

Bazille, the little known genius who died too soon to enjoy the movement's success

Renoir, an irrepressible lover and painter of women in (mostly nude) poses of everyday activities, such as ‘exiting a bath’

Manet, whose work was Monet's first inspiration, but was censored by society

Degas, who captured the back stage reality of the ballet world and last but not least

C├ęzanne, whose innovative work determined the path of modern art

Personally speaking what touched me most was the passion of these painters who saw beauty in everything, from the ordinary to the extreme.

Monet, for example, being fascinated by the different ‘colour tones’ of the locomotive steam at the station. It also amazed me how narrow-minded and opinionated the art critics and potential buyers of that time were.
It caused me to look inside myself and realise that I am just like that in many respect and that I should really suspend judgement more often.

Not all of us have the gift to paint or draw but most of us have the gift of sight, including me.

Should we not look for beauty in all we see??

Pictures (top to bottom): Bazille, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Renoir, Monet

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Life is short, so pace yourself!

Advances in technology have not always been of benefit to the majority of people but have often contributed to widening the gap of interaction between us human beings. Play Stations are a good example. No need to get together with your friends and go for a bike ride (leave alone acquiring the skills to mend a puncture!!) but instead you just sit in front of the box as boss of your own artificial reality.
This week however I have come across two examples where technology advances have indeed been very useful.
My Mum had trouble with irregular heart beat and had a pacemaker fitted. Only a short while ago this would have been a serious operation but now this has become a (and I can hardly believe that this word is appropriate) routine keyhole surgery and she will be ready to go home day after tomorrow. Amazing!!
Secondly – after my root canal surgery (see previous posts below) I have now had my tooth re-filled and re-sealed. In years gone by this whole thing would have ended with me being minus one molar!
Funnily enough I was only thinking a short while ago about the fact that my parents are now really getting on a bit and how lost one would be without the other should something happen to one of them. After all, they have spent over 50 years together and are very settled as one unit. As they are not living in this country I can only hope that my brother and sister will be at hand but I really do not like thinking about it.Well, we will go and see them in August and hopefully be able to enjoy a few days together.
Life, huh . . . . what a strange concept.