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Cy Quick has passed. I put the following eulogy atop his site…

This site has been effectively suspended for five years. And if you read its “about” you’ll see why. However, I am now belatedly adding this EULOGY.

Cy was a pseudonym for ANDREW.

I first encountered him well over twenty years ago, when he began contributing toward a Mensa writers SIG I ran (Mensa: we might have both been crazy, but at least we weren’t stupid).

And although we never met, over the next two decades plus, I got to know and grow fond of the man.

Back then, I was about forty and he, fifty (today, sixty-four and DEAD).

And over the years, I have built up a picture of him.

He liked Doowop and Radio Caroline – and hated trees.

He was something of a loner, living in a flat in southern England.

He had had a relationship with a woman many years earlier – but when he realised he was gay, it did not end well.

Now, while I was a product of the Swingin’ Sixties, Andrew hailed from the Repressed Fifties.

And being gay was ILLEGAL then. And even when, in 1967, this was overturned – little changed.

For a start, the age of gay consent was pegged at twenty-one and remained so for many years.

And Andrew was repelled by the idea of congress with a mature man – and scared to death of same with a young man.

Although it seems he occasionally succumbed to his orientation – but was FILLED with guilt and self-loathing afterwards.

Also, I believe he might have been manic-depressive (U.S. – bipolar).

This is evidenced by his posts (a mixture of BRILLIANT angst-ridden scribblings – and routine, mundane blogging) – and his habit of periodically DELETING his blog (and clubbing his computer to death with a hammer).

But eventually, he would acquire another computer and RETURN.

However, after he gave me his password for THIS blog – it containing a lot of good stuff, not only from Andrew; but by THIS and OTHER writers – I took the opportunity of DOWNLOADING it.

Then, the next time he had a rush of blood, I edited his trivia out of my shadow file (retaining his GOOD stuff) then created this blog, uploaded the material to it and presented the result to him.

I said I’d delete his stuff if he REALLY wanted me to – but he said it was cool.

Thus far, I have presented an image of a troubled, unhappy man; one with deep issues – who was born a decade too early.

But a man has many parts. And Andrew had always harboured a desire to visit what he believed was his spiritual home – Los Angeles. Particularly Hollywood.

And so, some years back, he saved his pennies and WENT there – for a holiday. And a few years later, instead of exploring elsewhere, he REPEATED the experience.

Both times, he took many pictures, sticking them on his current blog (there may be some on this one).

But this was his last hurrah. Soon would come the end.

Alzheimer’s fried his Mensa-level brain during his last months In This Place – and eventually killed him.

Nevertheless, at least this gave him a peaceful, painless passing.

He always thought his blog writings would be valued long after his passing – possibly by aliens. I never tried to dispossess him of this.

In any case, some of the BEST of his work is at least preserved HERE, below.

Currently – over the past eight years – more than fifteen hundred souls have stumbled across these ramblings. A handful may even some day read THIS.

So in closing, I’d like to state that I am the richer for having known Andrew – and the poorer since his passing.

Elsewhere in these columns, I have mused on the fact that Britain’s main problem lies in its TRUE unemployment statistics.

And the fact that there are primarily three reasons FOR them. In chronological order: the Baby Boom, Automation and Outsourcing.

And since there is no way to put THOSE three genies back in their bottles, Britain is screwed – right?

Well – not necessarily.

You see, there is a FOURTH reason for the chronic unemployment that blights Blighty – and causes the frequent riots. It is the SYSTEM that Britain’s industry has evolved, over the last several decades. It is DEEPLY flawed – but it COULD be FIXED. Here’s how…

The average Brit puts on his company car every morning and goes to work. And after an hour or more CRAWLING through the rush-hour traffic, he arrives at his place of employment – ALREADY KNACKERED.

He HATES his job, but will take ALL the overtime he can get, in order to pay his bills. And one of those bills is his TAX bill – a large part of which goes to support those who HAVE no job.

And if he doesn’t get promoted every few years, his long hours doing the same old same old, day in and day out, will eventually cause him to SNAP, smash everything around him and go lie in a corner in the foetal position, crying.

At which point, his company medical cover will take over and after a few weeks on downers, he will return and continue – as a broken man.

But it DOESN’T have to BE this way.

Let us take two companies: Delta Holdings and Omega Industrial – both of which make… glandle-hooks.

Now, Delta has a thousand employees, all working forty-hour weeks – while Omega has five hundred employees who, with overtime, work EIGHTY-hour weeks.

But here’s the thing: Omega’s glandle-hooks will cost LESS to make. So eventually, Delta will go BUST.

Why? Because Omega may pay more in total for its labour costs (assuming overtime pays one-and-a-half rates) but Delta is paying for a THOUSAND company cars, employee insurance packages and employee health, dental and what-have-you packages – as opposed to Omega’s FIVE HUNDRED.

And those packages are charged PER EMPLOYEE, NOT per employee-hour-worked – which is the NUB of the problem.

While company cars cost an employer almost as much as the EMPLOYEE does. And once you factor in the cost of those employee insurance and health packages…

Which is why companies that declare massive profits immediately make half their workforces REDUNDANT – they want to make even MORE profit.

So what can be DONE about this insanity? Actually, more than you might think…

State Pensions. Drop the retirement age to 60 immediately, for everyone (where it ORIGINALLY was for women) and by another year, every year – to age 50 (for now).

This would immediately free up MILLIONS of jobs for the disenchanted, disconnected, disenfranchised youth.

Company Cars. Many of these are only used to ferry employees to and from work. Like the employee health packages, they are nothing more than a ploy to force them to STAY with the employer. Quit your job and you lose your CAR – and you and your family have to revert to the tender mercies of the NHS.

It’s like the “tied cottages” of yore – “When you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”

But if HMG brought in laws requiring company cars to be SIGN-WRITTEN and only permitted them to be used for REAL company business – then employees could buy their OWN car for private motoring and use the TRAIN to get to work.

This would have MAJOR benefits. The obvious GREEN ones – with freer roads – and employees would arrive at work FRESH.

However, ANOTHER measure would have to be taken by HMG first. While no-one wants to see a return to the Fifties – where many cars belched smoke, had bald tyres, mediocre brakes and rust holes in the floors – the modern MOT test has gotten RIDICULOUS.

What started as a sensible idea to make Britain’s roads safer – has today turned cars into a financial LIABILITY. The test has become SO draconian that many cars rolling off ASSEMBLY-LINES could fail it. It’s like PC – it’s gone TOO FAR.

But HMG could rethink it, so that only REAL safety features would be covered – and second-hand cars could make a COME-BACK. Here in Thailand, I drive a Mitsubishi Galant Ultima that cost twenty thousand pounds when new. I bought it at nine years old, for four thousand. It is now twenty-three years old and STILL worth at least two thousand.

In Britain, I couldn’t GIVE it away. It would most likely have been JUNKED, YEARS ago. But with careful maintenance, my chariot still goes like a bird – and is SAFE.

Employee Insurance Packages. HMG could force insurance companies to charge companies PER EMPLOYEE-HOUR-WORKED. This would mean a company’s employee numbers would no longer be relevant, insurance-wise. Simple.

Employee Health (and dental, etc.) Packages. Levy a huge TAX on them – to be paid by the EMPLOYERS – and pay the money raised to the NHS! HAH!!

And finally: give companies tax breaks, based on the number of employees they have, versus their turnover – the more employees, the higher the breaks – and limit overtime to TEN hours per week, per employee.

If HMG did all of the above, unemployment, poverty and the British Malaise would disappear OVERNIGHT!

But naturally, they won’t. It would ruffle FAR too many INFLUENTIAL feathers. The car manufacturers, “private” healthcare companies and insurance companies – to name but three.

And ALL employers (whom HMG represents) WANT unemployment. Full employment would turn the jobs market around to favour EMPLOYEES – leaving the employers having to RAISE wages and working conditions to attract them.

No, HMG will do what it’s ALWAYS done: LIE about life-expectancy figures and try to RAISE the age of retirement – blather on about “job creation” – and order more water cannons to help quell the NEXT round of RIOTS.

The term “sweeping changes” is oft-used by politicians. But the last time such changes were ACTUALLY invoked was to create The Welfare State – a state that has been DECIMATED by HMG during the last thirty years.

Mind you, the above changes ALONE would create a bunch of NEW problems, which would ALSO need addressing. Like, if hard-pressed employees could not earn overtime money – how would they manage to continue to support their families on a single wage?

After all, if they had KIDS, their wives could not work – even though there would now be jobs FOR them.

Plus the tax increases (HMG HATES imposing those) required for the higher pension bill would CRIPPLE employees.

Well, full-time nurseries could look after the kids – and provide work for some of those wives.

And HOME work would also solve those problems. Currently, such is available – but the wages paid for it are THIRD WORLD level. This is because it is menial.

But develop SKILLED jobs that could be done in the home and labour could be SPLIT between couples. Then hubby would return from work with his will to live retained – while the combined income of him and his wife would enable them to have a LIFE.

However, no-one is even TALKING about ANY of the above suggestions. They are long-term and HMG only thinks short-term. Plugging holes in the dam, never considering building a NEW one.

Fact is, since the Sixties, Britain has driven down a social and economic CUL DE SAC. And going back is not an option. The only solution is to BULLDOZE the house at the end. I’m just glad it’s not MY house.

Mine is in THAILAND – where EVERYONE has a job.

Of course, this is only achieved by MASSIVE over-manning and a LOW cost of living. But it WORKS – which is why Thailand is known as The Land Of Smiles.

Britain could learn a LOT from this place…

It’s funny how TV game-show formats translate internationally.

F’rinstance, “Family Feud” originated, then bombed in the U.S. But in the U.K. the softer “Family Fortunes” ran for years, thanks to the ridiculous answers given by contestants – “Name something red.” “My car.” “If it’s up there, I’ll give you the money myself.” Whilst back Stateside, a celeb version has returned – hosted by Steve Harvey.

The show was tried here in Thailand, softened even further to “Family Game.” It was crap.

And Chuck Barris’ “The Newlywed Game” – a raunchy show in America – featured pensioners in the U.K., ran in the afternoon and the sexiest question was, “Which side of the bed do you sleep on?”

“Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” began in the U.K. and was a massive hit world-wide, but varies dramatically, country to country. In the States, Regis Philbin asked easier questions (Americans like to see winners).

Meanwhile, the Portuguese (I was on holiday there) managed to extract ALL sense of exitement from the franchise by slowing the game, with lots of chat twixt host (a handsome chap, but someone ELSE should have dressed him and done his hair) and contestant.

And the contestants were so DUMB. Example: “Blah, blah (I don’t speak Portuguese) blah Agatha Christie blah blah? a. Hercule Poirot (obviously) b. Sherlock Holmes, c. Mr. (sic) Watson, d. Zorro. The bloke didn’t know. His “phone-a-friend” didn’t know. He took a 50/50 and guessed the wrong one. I nearly wet myself laughing.

This was only a second round question, but had he REACHED the top, a million Escudos was only about £3,000 ($5,000) – hardly retirement money, even in Portugal.

Here in Thailand, a million Baht is a little more – around sixteen grand Sterling ($25,000) – which with prices around one-fifth of Western, equates to around a hundred grand in the West. A princely sum.

However, the Thai production company were too tight to pay Celador for the format, music and graphics, so “Millennium Millionaire” was a knock-off.

Unlike “The Weakest Link” which Thailand DID buy (Auntie probably wanted less money) installing their version of The Queen Of Mean. But the Thais – a very polite race – didn’t GET it and it didn’t last long.

When it premiered, they ran a promo which had shots of ALL the Bitches In Black, all around the World. And a SCARIER bunch of women you could not imagine. They looked like the Goth Chapter of Hell’s Grannies.

Most were getting on (a couple even looked like Annie) but the Thai one was young. In fact she looked a lot like a lady in Pimlico I once paid £50 for some disciplinary instruction. But that’s another story…

As yet another British actor going across The Pond, he has had to endure the inevitable ignominy of speaking with a Yank accent. But in the latest offering from his series, Scorpion, he was called upon to DENY English GRAMMAR, in favour (favor) of AMERICAN!

No wonder he always looks like he just swallowed a live caterpillar.

Amiable tosh actioner Scorpion is appreciated on THREE levels. Being “inspired” by a real person and organisation, thick people think it’s a documentary – more intelligent people protest at its MASSIVE plot holes and impracticalities (if the Mythbusters were still on, they’d have a field day with them) – and Mensan writers like m’self just enjoy the work of a bunch of TV writers who are clearly having a jolly good LAUGH.

However, the last episode began with a subplot where Elyes’ character Walter O’Brien had turned down a $109,000 fee because it was too low, having been offered “a hundred and nine thousand dollars” which he interpreted as a hundred dollars and nine thousand dollars – total $9,100.

After some arguing with his crew, he claimed that the fault lay with the CLIENT, whom he said had used BAD GRAMMAR. He claimed they SHOULD have said “one hundred nine thousand dollars” – leaving out the “and” – which left me CONFUSED.

But then I remembered that Americans, in addition to changing nouns, weights and measures, standards et al, in order to kid themselves that THEY invented everything – also change GRAMMAR. Including leaving OUT those “ands” – meaning it WAS bad AMERICAN grammar – but PERFECT ENGLISH grammar!

I believe it was QE2 herself who once said, “There is no such thing as American English; there is English – and then there are mistakes.”

So now the first season of the rebooted reboot of Top Gear is coming to a conclusion; time for an early assessment.

The last (slightly truncated) season of Clarkson and co’s Top Gear was LAME. The only good bit in the entire SEASON was the race through St Pete’s – and that mostly because of the Hamster’s tumble when he caught his bike wheel in that tram track and let out noises that made him sound like he was being arse****ed by the afore-mentioned Clarkson.

But the refreshed outing, courtesy of the streaming arm of the tiresome Amazon, is much improved – more like Auntie’s show at its height.

However, I have one bugbear; now that the show is INTERNATIONAL, WHY OH WHY are they still doing lap trials in BLIGHTY?

Since the Great Climate Shift of 1987, it has not stopped RAINING in Britain. Which makes a NONSENSE of the lap trials, since while a few puddles only slows the cars slightly, drizzle slows them SIGNIFICANTLY and more intense rain knocks SECONDS off their times.

Which means that on the rare occasions their track actually DRIES OUT, your GRANDMOTHER could post a leader-board time on her MOBILITY SCOOTER.

So given they could easily obtain examples of the models they wish to test in AMERICA, why don’t they find a suitable circuit THERE?

At least that grumpy American would then be happy – sitting on the car’s WRONG SIDE.

The bonnet – the hood.

The wings – the fenders.

The windscreen – the windshield.

The engine – the motor.

The gearbox – the transmission.

The accelerator – the gas pedal.

The hand-brake – the parking/emergency brake.

The boot – the trunk.

The silencer – the muffler.

The indicators – the turn signals.

The tyres – the tires.

The wheels – the wheels.

EVEN AMERICANS CANNOT RE-INVENT THE WHEEL.

I just Googled Pantene hair shampoo and according to Wiki, it first emerged in Switzerland, right after WW2 and was named after one of its ingredients, panthenol, which they describe as “the alcohol analog of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)” – and who am I to argue with that?

However, they do not offer a pronunciation of panthenol. And that is what this is about.

The thing is, Pantene did not catch on until Procter & Gamble took it over in the Eighties – and proceeded to advertise the crap out of it on TV.

But instead of pronouncing it PAN-TEEN as you would expect, they went with PAN-TEN.

So at that time, on a whim, I rang their helpline (it was free) and asked the bloke (yep) who answered, why it was pronounced thusly.

I did not really expect an answer, but he explained that the reason was; it was a Greek word, where the final “e” was silent (like the “p” in pool).

Of course in those days – there being no Wiki – I accepted his answer (which I now realise he pulled out of his arse) without question.

Anyhoo, having escaped Britain fifteen years ago, I cannot say if Pantene is still being pronounced PAN-TEN there – but here in Thailand, the VO on our TV ads calls it PAN-TEEN.

But the reason I am typing this is that I just saw an American TV ad for it, where they enunciated it as …PORN-TEEN!

I do not plan to Google THAT…