April 2011

Well! What can I say? Here is the first Lavender Pillow newsletter since November 2009....

All I can say in our defence is that 2010 was an absolutely horrid year for us which started with multiple catastrophic computer hardware and software failures, (Error code 666. Your Hard Drive has been possessed by the Devil), a major downturn in the retail sector ...... and ended up with major flooding in Mevagissey which meant that the The Lavender Pillow was closed for 5 months for rebuilding work. We just won't go into the nightmares we had in between. Suffice it to say that we were at one point expecting the four horsemen of the Apocalypse to come crashing through the front door. We now feel that Karma probably owes us one. However.... We are back, bigger, brighter and better than ever before...... Well actually we are the same size and a bit darker if anything, but definitely better). We have also had to completely rebuild the Lavender Pillow website  from Scratch! The good news is that it is much improved from the previous version. However we have had to lose a few pages here and there and sadly the customer gallery is no more. There is so much new stuff on the site that we have decided to abandon the what's new page as every page on the site is new, so click on the button below and go check it out if you have a spare hour or three. If any of you have sent us pictures or suggestions for the Goth Pets/Goth Motors/Goth Babes/Goth Geezers pages that have not made it onto the site, please resend them as we have probably lost them in one of the many disasters of the past few months.

The flooding was pretty horrendous in Mevagissey and just about every business was affected in one way or another. But the good news is many of the shops are now open again and many more will be opening again very soon. so, if you were thinking of visiting this summer, please do so, as the shops in the village need all the help they can get.

So what else is new appart from a whole new website and a whole new back end of the shop...... Well since our last newsletter, Bazz has released a new Double CD called Dark Angel. This is a little different from Bazz's usual material as it is relaxing, uplifting, and inspiring music with dirty electric guitars... It's not so much New Age as New Rage.... A sort of Prog Rock Meditation CD.... It's hard to describe so the best thing to do is to go to the Planet La La website (click the button below) and have a listen to some sample tracks. It is a double CD containing over 2 hours of excellent instrumental music for only £12.99. It has proved to be Bazz's best selling CD yet!

While you are there, there is also a New Pirates of St. Piran CD available called Three Sheets To The Wind. It only costs £7.99 and £2 from each sale goes to the Precious Lives appeal and helps to build a childrens hospice here in Cornwall. The CD is quite brilliant and has been selling like hotcakes. 

Pirates of St. Piran fans will also be pleased to hear that we are currently working on our 3rd album which should be released in time for Yule/Christmas 2011.

People have been telling us for the past 18 months, how much they have been missing the newsletters and in particular Bazz's rant of the month..... well after 18 months off the air there just seems so much to rant about so lets get straight on with it .

What is the computer and mobile phone industry doing to us...... We kid ourselves that we have hundreds of friends when in fact we have a bunch of casual aquaintances on Facebook, most of whom we have never met and don't give a damn about. We watch all the latest films..... well we watch an animated postage stamp flickering on a tiny screen on our mobile phones. We listen to all the latest music.... well we listen to crap quality MP3s on tiny ear buds which doesn't exactly count as HiFi. We get exercise on our Wii Fit..... well actually we sit on a sofa waving a bit of plastic about in the air. We don't need to go out and see the world as there are thousands of apps that will show it to us from the comfort of our own sofa. Anyway who needs reality when we can spend our lives exploring virtual worlds and having fullfilling lives as cartoon characters in Second Life..... And of course we all have to have the latest android phone or we feel we are being left behind and we are getting old.... so we get sucked deeper and deeper into this pathetic half life and spend all our leisure time trapped in our own sad little artificial bubble where we never actually interact with anything or anyone real ever again. If only kids invested the same effort into learning to play a real guitar as they do in learning to pretend to play one in guitar hero.
The next step is surely the matrix............ 
This all came home to me when I started reading an article in a magazine that was suggesting that it was now possible to record and produce a comercial quality CD on a mobile phone.... The question occured to me..... Why the hell would I want to!
Is it any wonder that we have a new generation of kids with the highest levels of obesity ever. They have no incentive to leave their bedrooms anymore. Surely life was so much better and more fulfilling when we went out and met people and made real friends.... When we went to the Cinema and matched movies on massive screens with amazing sound systems. When we used to play tennis in the open air with real bats and balls and we learned to play Smoke on The Water on real guitars. And we went on walks or bicycle rides in the country because it was was fun and the world was a beautiful place to be in. But don't listen to me I'm a grumpy old git who is "out of touch with reality".......... I mean, I don't even own a Mobile phone.  But I will leave the avalanche of new technology we are being buried under for now (I will return to rant further on this subject later) and get onto the rant that has been brewing for 18 months with nowhere to go..... But I now have my soap box back and no-one is safe. Particularly not Bankers.

My hatred for bankers is not new..... In fact my first full time job was as a trainee computer programmer working for Lloyds Bank, way back in 1975 when £20 a week was a really good wage and a computer with less processing power and memory than a pocket calculator filled a large room. However I digress.... It was during the 2 years I worked for them that I developed a deep and abiding loathing of anything to do with the banking industry. I have always thought that the collective noun for Bankers was a Wunch.
But the latest financial crisis has just confirmed everthing I ever thought about them
Now I hold very simple views about how the economy works. There are 5 types of people in the world.
1. The creative types - They design things and have amazing ideas or they make music or art or come up with simple solutions to problems. They are usually barking mad but we love them as they constanly delight us with their vision and creativity.
2. The Manufacturers - These are the people who take all the great ideas the Creative types come up with and turn them into a reality.
3. The Transport people - These are the ones who move all the stuff around from the factories to the shops and warehouses.
4. The Retailers - These are the people who sell stuff - they take all this wonderfull stuff and make it available to the public in their shops and websites and feed money back through the system so that all the others get paid for their hard work.
5. The Parasites - These are the people who create nothing, they generate nothing, they sell nothing. they just live off the hard work of the people who do. And top of the pile is the financial sector.... The Bankers. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not having a go at the bank cashiers and office staff. You are all just doing a job and earning a crust like the rest of us and you don't get multi million pound bonuses for outstanding performance in the areas of failure, incompetance and negligence like your bosses do.  

These guys say that they don't understand why we are so angry with them.
They keep saying they have to pay their top execs these obscene sums of money so they don't go abroad to other banks. They keep using the football team analagy and saying that if Man Utd didn't pay it's star players the going rate, they would all leave and go to other teams abroad..... My feeling is that if Man Utd's star players had scored three own goals in the cup final, performed so badly that Man Utd had been relegated and were on the verge of bankruptcy.... Those Star players would be offered on a free transfer to anyone who would take them off their hands.
These are the guys who got things so wrong that they sent the worlds ecomony into meltdown and then came running to us (who had done nothing wrong) to bail them out. and a year or two on where are we? They are still sitting on their private yachts with their snouts firmly wedged in the Gravy trough slurping up the massive bonuses and they are strangely enough all making massive profits again. As for us we are looking at a decade of cuts and austerity measures. We have every right to be angry.
 It's not that they don't understand why we are so angry.... they understand... It's just that they don't really give a damn.

So how did we ever get into this parasitic relationship with the banks....... Lets look a little deeper into the relationship I have with my bank.... What do they do for their money?
 I have a business account with the RBS which is far more insideous than a personal account and works like this
1. I pay all my earnings into the bank - They charge me a percentage of whatever I pay in for this privelage... How did I ever agree to this
2. When I take money out again, they charge me for this.
3. If I want change they charge me.
4 if I use a cheque or a card or a direct debit or a standing order, they charge me.
5. They rent me a card machine to use in the shop.
6. They cha
rge me everytime I use the card machine even though I am allready paying rent on it.
7. They lend my money to someone else and charge them for it but don't give me a cut of the profits.
8. They get into financial trouble and us taxpayers have to bail them out. (Maybe I'm missing something but I fail to see how they can possibly get into financial trouble with these sort of deals in place)
9. I pay them £1,200 a year in bank charges and £1,000 a year for business insurance and 5 months after the recent flooding they still owe me £14,000 for my insurance claim which they are still dragging their heels over paying despite reporting them to the Financial Ombudsman.
I don't seem to be getting a good deal here at all. Is it any wonder I'm bloody angry.

We will pause the ranting briefly here for the Planet La La award.
As some of you will remember this award is given to those weird products which exhibit outstanding levels of stupidty, niavety, bad taste or a total lack of understanding. There are many contenders this month including.... A company who has launced a beefburger fragranced air freshener...  and a Star ship enterprise pizza cutter.... a device which trains you to smile by shoving a lump of rubber in your mouth..... Then there is "Season Shot"....which is a new type of live ammunition containing buckshot loaded with meat seasonings.When you shoot a bird the buckshot disintegrates inside the flesh and releases its flavorings.The idea came about with two guys who wanted to find a solution towards people breaking their teeth on buckshot when eating pheasant or turkey. Season Shot comes in varieties of Cajun, Lemon Pepper, Garlic, Teriyaki, and Honey Mustard.
There is also now a 12v battery light you can attach to the underside of your bed to prevent monsters from hiding under there.......

For those of you who want the latest iPod gadgets..... there is now the iBuzz. This is a device which connects to your iPod and vibrates in time with the music you are listening to..... I will not get too graphic here but I'm sure you know what it's for..... So all of those ladies who used to get turned on by Robbie Williams crooning a slow ballad..... forget it... you will from now on be more likely to be turned on by Lemmy and Motorhead blasting through "The Ace of Spades".... heaven forbid..... I feel "The flight of the bumble Bee" may make a sudden surge up the download charts. Then there is "the 1812 overture" you just gotta love those cannons.... I would personally recommend The Dark Angel CD by Bazz Cooper.... the track called Nightlife has a fast piano triplet running through it that some may find quite tittilating.... and there are some huge kettledrums on some of the other tracks which should make the earth move for you.... After all Bazz has always worked hard to ensure complete customer satisfaction...... 

However this months winner of the Planet La La award is the Hamster powered shredder below. This is just pure genius. 

Right then... it's back to the ranting.....
So what else has wound me up over the last few months.... Well it's things beeping at me....... Given the wealth of sounds available to us like birdsong, like the sound of a babbling brook, a haunting  Asus4 chord gently strummed on an a mandolin, the sound of a gentle breeze rustling through a clump of bamboo. The cry of a distant wolf. the sound of waves lapping on a rocky beach. A violin section crescendo.... so what sound do manufacturers constantly use to get your attention.... BEEP!     Why? it is the most irritating and uninspired sound ever made. Have you ever counted the number of beeps you hear throughout the day..... It starts with the alarm clock beeping incessantly at you until you get fed up hitting the snooze button and finally hurl it acros the room. It always manages to emit one final sad strangled beep as it finaly expires. So before your feet even hit the floor, you have allready been beeped at about 150 times ..... Then you get up....Those of you with toothbrushes and shavers with onboard processors will no doubt be beeped at several more times before you even get dressed. Then you sort out breakfast which can involve multiple beeps from various kitchen items like microwaves, cookers, toasters and even kettles....beeps from the TV remote when you check the weather report. you set the toaster on too high a setting and the smoke alarm goes off subjecting you to several thousand beeps until you manage to beat it into submission with a stick. you check your phone for any messages beep beep beep........ you check your computer for any new emails beep beep bloody beep. The burglar alarm beeps as you set it on your way out. Your car beeps when you unlock the door with the remote locking key. You get in the car and it beeps while you reverse out of the garage... it then beeps because you have opened the drivers door with the engine running when you go to close the garage door. You switch the car radio on only to find that they are playing some peice of turgid pop music by someone with a synthesiser which is capable of making a miriad of amazing sounds but all this muppet has managed to extract form it is a series of tuneless beeping noises....the ticket machine at the car park beeps at you as it dispenses the ticket. You get to work and every bloody thing you touch beeps at you, computers, phones, coffee machines. food vending machines, calculators, machinery, fork lift trucks delivery trucks, lifts, automatic doors, intercoms, pagers. That odd machine in the corner of the factory, noboby knows what it does or why it's there but it has several impressive flashing lights and it beeps evey 37 seconds ...... then at the end of a busy beeping day you are totally beeped out. you get back into your beeping car and pay the beeping car park machine..... which insists on rejecting one of your pound coins no matter how many times you try to insert it and it beeps everytime it does so. You stop off at the supermarket on the way home. You use the beeping cashpoint machine on your way in and then you are subjected to a whole row of inscessantly beeping checkouts and the machine that is supposed to prevent people leaving the shop without paying constantly beeps at everyone whether they have paid or not.... The security staff have by now learned to take no notice if it's beeping but haven't thought of just turning the bloody thing off. Back into the beeping car and you have to stop to let pedestrians cross at a beeping pelican crossing. Then you are back to your beeping garage where you park the beeping car. turn off the beeping burglar alarm. You cook your tea on the beeping cooker with it's beeping extractor hood you put the dishes in the beeping dishwasher and put the beeping washing machine on and watch the beeping TV with the beeping remote control, while your kids play computer games in the background which emit more beeps than everything else put together.. And what's on the TV..... a bloody roadrunner cartoon... Beep Beep whoosh...... and then it's time for bed and as your head hits the pillow you reach out and reset the beeping alarm clock feeling like you have come full beeping circle. But at least the beeping is ended for today...... Then you hear a faint beep as your wife turns her ipod on...... As you drift off to sleep you wonder why she has been listening to so much Motorhead on her iPod lately when you always thought she was more of a Robbie Williams fan. 

Then at last we come back to modern technology..... Is it just me or do you feel like your computer no longer belongs to you anymore. I recently purchased a top of the range Acer laptop which I use for the business. It was purchased to make my life easier and make the business run smoother by doing what I want it to. However what I seem to have now is a very expensive battleground which is used by various major corporations to slug it out for supremacy and I no longer get any say in it. I try not to restart my computer anymore as when I do a dozen bits of software start themselves up and I have to spend 10 minutes killing them all off. Google desktop asks me if I want to install it.... It however gives two options. I can either install it which I don't want to do, or I can cancell the installation. which just puts it on hold until I restart again and then up it pops again. Why is there not an option to tell it to go away and leave me alone.. Adobe PDF reader then tells me there is new version available and do I want to install it now or do I want to install later.... Where is the option to say that I don't want to install it ever... I didn't want bloody Adobe software on my PC in the 1st place. If I wanted to run Adobe I would have bought a MAC. If I dare let Adobe update the PDF reader software, it will pop up and say "we see that Adobe is not the default musc/video/everything else player on your machine. Do you want us to change that for you?" You look for the button that says "If you do that I will Kill you" but reluctantly select the no thank you button..... Then it changes everything anyway.  You then have to spend 20 minutes resetting everything back the way you want it. Then the various web browsers start fighting for supremacy.... Google Chrome IE8.... no sorry you need IE9 which gives you nothing new but just moves everything around so you can't find it anymore.... Safari. etc. I know I can go into the startup menu and turn all this stuff off but Microsoft seem to have hidden the startup menu from me and I can't get to it anymore.Then windows tells you it has installed updates and is shutting down whether you are ready or not. There are 93 processess running in the background and I don't know what any of them are doing......Just leave me alone it's my bloody computer..... Oh well I guess it isn't then... I'll just get by on the few meagre scraps of processing power you lot have left me.   But the sad thing is 20 years ago I had a PC which had a tiny fraction of the power and memory that this one has..... and it did everthing I do today just as well only with a lot less fuss and agravation...... And the computer companies say that it's all about empowering people. I personally have never felt quite so disempowered in my life.

So we can now pause for breath and another brief interlude in the ranting....
We have to report some very sad news. Our beloved motor car "Ulric the albino Gothmobile" has finally had to go. He was 16 years old and although he was still very beautiful and his engine at 120,000 miles was still running sweet as a nut.... he needed about £1,000 spending on him.... and if we had spent the £1,000, he would have been worth about £200. He had been a good friend and a trusty companion but was becoming unsustainable. So sadly we had to say goodbye with a tear in our eye.  The good news is that he didn't go to the crusher but to a nice mechanic who loves old Mercedes' and he was going to do the repairs and keep Ulric running for a few more years. The reason I'm telling you this is that I feel I may have some explaining to do when you fid out what we have purchased to replace Ulric......Behold the  mighty

It is very very big... very very fast.... very very black indeed...... and it is also heartbreakingly beautiful. Bazz has dreamed of owning a big Jag since he was about 5 years old and after 50 years of dreaming, it was time to make that particular dream come true. 
OK OK..... I can hear half of you muttering.... "Bloody hell they must be charging too much in their shop if he can afford one of those". However despite it's pristine gleaming lovelienes, it is 11 years old and cost us less than a second hand Nissan Micra. So stop muttering this instant..... I can also hear the other half of you muttering "Hold on .... Isn't Bazz the bloke who is always ranting on about environmental issues and now he has a car that does 19 to the gallon on a long run?" Well I can explain that too..... You see we don't get out much and when we do it is usually in our very economical, diesel engined van Fifi. So the car will probably only do about 2,000 miles a year which means rather than destroying the planet by driving it, I am saving the planet by keeping it out of the hands of some one else who would probably use it to do 10,000 miles a year. So there you go, in my hands it is a very environmentally friendly vehicle and I am probably doing more to reduce carbon emmisions than any Toyota Prius driver ever did. So just stop all this muttering right now. you should all view it as a piece of decorative sculpture I have installed in my front garden and on certain occasions I unselfishly transport it to car parks in other parts of the country so others can admire it's beauty. 
So..... Having sweet talked my way out of that one....(did I get away with it I wonder...)  I'll now get back to ranting about the environment.

But seriously the big environmental issue at the moment is the nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan. Was it just me who noticed that on the day that Japan raised the severity of the nuclear disaster from 5 to the maximum rating of 7, The BBC had what seemed to be a total news blackout on the subject and Lady Gaga falling off a piano ranked as more newsworthy. We checked around the internet and found that even Reuters had pulled a lot of news items from their website in a hurry. Hardly a trace of this momentous anouncement made it onto any news service. We found only one reference to it on Orange  news. Far be it from me to suggest that the government put a news blackout on this item as they "don't want us to panic" or more likely they don't want us to worry about the fact that their current energy strategy is based almost entirely on Coal and Nuclear power...... Over the years I have had many arguments with supporters of Nuclear power who keep telling me it is completely safe and it can't blow up and radiation can't escape, and there is nothing to worry about. All I can say to these people is take a look at the pictures coming out of Japen. a row of smoking ruins, radioactive water being continuously pumped into the sea ..... people being evacuated in an 80 kilometer radius..... radioactive Ceasium turning up all over the world. I'm sorry guys but you have just lost the arguement.

 All we get is very suspicious statements from pro nuclear scientists saying there is a very tiny risk of it affecting any of us. well i'm sorry but statistically speaking, even a tiny risk across a large number of people means that lots of us will be affected. Even if only 0.0001% of us will be affected.... across a world population of 7 billion that still means that 700,000 people will suffer ill effects from radioactive contamination. It is also clear that considerably more than a tiny percentage of the population of Japan will be affected

They tell us it's OK to pump water into the sea with 2500 times the recommended safe levels of radiation. I'm sorry run that by me again. If 2500 times the recommended safe limit is still safe, why did you bother setting a limit in the first place. And as for trying to tell us this will not adversely affect the marine environment is just pure and simple buffalo excrement. 

So how about a bit of honesty on this subject at long last. Nuclear energy isn't clean, it isn't safe,  It isn't cheap (just ask Japan how much the clean up operation is going to cost them) and it isn't wanted by most of this countries population. It's not about any of these issues, it's certainly not about people's lives and health. It's all about expediency and money in the end. So pardon me if I respectfully suggest for the thousandth time in 30 years.... Isn't it time the government made some real and significant investment in alternative energy sources, rather than putting it's people in very real and constant danger..  How about this for an offer..... If the government announces that it is changing it's energy policy and starts replacing Nuclear and coal fired power stations with other safer cleaner alternatives, I'll not only stop leaving my TV on standby, but I will also sell the Jag.

So I'd better give up on the ranting for this month and say good bye for now. See you all in the next Newsletter from Hell.

Love N Stuff from Bazz & Rose and all the team at the Lavender Pillow


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Do not under any circumstances click on the button below..... No, really... We mean it...... You may think we are just saying that to get you to press it anyway.... but we are not joking here..... Just don't go there....... And if you do, don't come running to us for help..... and don't expect us to clean up the mess either.    

If you have managed to read this far.... The rantings and ramblings of a grumpy old shopkeeper are obviously of some interest to you... So you will be pleased to know that we have started archieving old newsletters and previous rants on the Newsletter Page. Go check them out.