Brewer's Droop #268

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It was reported that, apparently 11 Zimbabweans were facing the death sentence in China for alleged drug smuggling but the man who’s in charge of locking people up in Zimbabwe was “hopeful of doing a prisoner exchange”.

Erm, but the only problem is that he doesn’t have any Chinese people in his jails.

I don’t know what happened to them.


Why, oh why, did Google have to change the GMail layout?

In fact why do so many companies change things that work perfectly well? If there’s a security risk or a vastly important improvement then I get it. But most of the time it’s for no apparent reason at all.

I’ve raved about this before and it still makes me livid.

With GMail they’ve changed my perfect arrangement of emails and files and contacts etc. Now it’s a bloody mess.

For example, an important client has been trying to send me emails all week (since the change actually) and neither of us could work out why I wasn’t getting them. Then I checked my Spam folder and, yes, there they were. Now why would Google do that? I’ve been conducting business with this company since 1994 so why have they suddenly decided (on my behalf) that I wouldn’t be interested in anything they have to say?

And it’s kind for Mr. Google to take it upon himself to declare that I shouldn’t be bothered by some emails but couldn’t I just decide for myself? Then, when I’ve marked something as spam any future messages can go straight into the trash.

But what makes me absolutely furious is that when I do mark something as spam Google still allows it through into my inbox. Someone in their programming department is either under 30 (see previous droop), permanently out to lunch or deranged.

I would prefer real letters actually (if we had a Post Office that was functioning of course).


Another thing that’s been bothering me (because we’re having a clear-out at last) is why do we keep stuff?

I have 12 years worth of school photographs – one for each year.Then there are rugby and golf teams of course together with school plays and concerts etc. I have two sons so you do the math. But here’s the thing, each one has been expensively framed and cling-wrapped and never unwrapped! And that’s not all, we have spare blank ones for future years – yes, still cling-wrapped.

A friend of mine still has her school blazer. I won’t say how old it is because that would be rude (one doesn’t mention a lady’s age after all) but let’s just say it’s more than half a century old. I thought she was a bit looney to tell you the truth but then, at various dinner parties etc., I discovered that quite a few of my friends (men and women) have saved theirs too! So it must be me then.

And what’s the correct/decent amount of time before you throw a birthday or Christmas card away? Or do you keep them forever? If so, why?

My Dad was a train driver on British Rail and in his early days, as a trainee, you had to be a “fireman” on the footplate to stoke up the steam train. Damn hard work too! He used to take me for little jaunts on the footplate when he had to do country side-line runs (which made me the envy of every boy in my class) and I used to watch the fireman start his fire with a little wooden frame stuffed with paraffin-soaked cotton waste and then he’d use my Dad’s “Aladdin’s lamp” to light it (it was also filled with cotton waste and had a long “spout” so he could reach into the boiler). Anyway, I still have that lamp and I’m wondering why I should keep it. It’s not attractive. It’s not valuable. It doesn’t function.

Yes, I think I’ll keep it.

Oh well nearly shorts-time again so I’ll be obliged to frighten people by exposing my white knobbly knees as I do every year.



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  1. Feel exactly the same Chris. I think most companies think their customers are idiots. They make things that break within a day of their guarantee expiring and companies such as Google change things just because they’re all bloody bored.

    BTW I still have my old school cap:-)

  2. Chris,
    Keep the lamp especially if it has GWR stamped on it. It could well be worth something to railway enthusiasts or, give it to the Steam Museum next time you come to Swindon
    A slight correction Chris. You light the fire in the fire box not the boiler!
    The fire heats the water in the boiler which then creates steam.
    A live steam engine is a wonderful thing.

    • Thanks Bob (he’s my uncle you know and knows a great deal about British Rail)

  3. So true Chris.I am one of those who has a 50 year old school blazer and have been unable to wear it for 45 years as it seems to be shrinking more and more as years go by.It’s time to say goodbye to it now and on top of it I hated school so it’s certainly not for the nostalgia. Time to buy that XXL summer blazer.Thanks.

  4. Ha ha! Dad, I agree about changing things for no reason but Gmail has in my opinion been hugely improved as they were consolidating all their interfaces into one consistent visual direction. As you can imagine, digital designs can’t stay the same forever if technology is rapidly changing. And I’m almost CERTAIN they haven’t ‘changed your perfect arrangement of emails’! Check your settings.

    So right on keeping or collecting things! Bigger houses to store more junk/dust collectors. Storage units to keep junk for descendants to deal with one day. It’s madness.

    But I’ll have Grampy’s lamp please, so that I can ignite any junk that piles up in my house.

    • One day you’ll look around and say “where did all this shit come from?”

      That’s a promise

  5. Dear Chris and Jake,
    You hit the nail on the head about the gmail changes, Chris. Thank you for providing a platform for me to have my own rant. Jake, the new gmail interface is clumsy, brash and the change is beyond incredibly annoying. I don’t give two damns how many visual directions they are consolidating. I only use two of them — gmail and the search engine. Gmail was not broken and did not require becoming a digital design disaster. Any so-called improvements should have been limited to the back end and transparent to the user. I also do not get why they seem to think I would waste my time telling them why I dismiss the endless adverts. They don’t pay me to waste my time like that. If they gave me much more storage space per advert to tell me why, then maybe I would be arsed to bother. This has to be the creative input of a team of pony tailed, tattooed, jam jar cocktail drinking, very wet behind the ears millenials. Chris, I may or may not have my old school blazer. I just don’t know what is the latest politically correct way it is to describe the number of affirmative shopping sprees that have taken place that leave me in doubt! Oh and best of luck to the 11 Zimbabweans. If all the spam received via gmail from activists is true, it is possible that they have already been eaten and their bones turned into a new delicacy, probably making their net financial worth as drug dealers more being dead than alive!


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