Friday, August 28, 2009

Why I am the web's leading expert on big ear holes and Madonna's eyebrows

I got a comment this week from a blog post I wrote almost a year ago, but it didn't surprise me because I am the web's leading expert on big ear holes and Madonna's eyebrows. It's official. I have Google Analytics statistics to back it up. Listen, it's not like I'm constantly checking to see if my imaginary readership has increased from 6 people spending 12 seconds deciding they're on the wrong page - to 8 people who have used the search term "La Ciccolina + horse" but...

And yes, I know that by retyping that phrase I'm going to bring even more of them here. Hello horse fans!!! Sorry to disappoint you, but hey, stick around, there's more to life than horses, right?

The thing is, what Google Analytics tells me is that on average, every month for the past 11 months 25% of this blog's random new "readers" have landed on that Big Ear Holes post. Another 11% have come searching for more scientific and sensible information about Madonna's eyebrows. About 7% are concerned to find out if Daniel Corbett is gay, but I'll say no more about that. The owner of a renouned Corbett blog assures that he isn't. So basically, if I want to find a bigger readership I need to concentrate my whiney words on body parts, the sexuality of celebrities, horses, and celebrities body parts. The market rules. Expect forthcoming posts on the beauty of Terry Wogan's comb-over, Lady GaGa's extra bit, Madonna's veiny arms, and then an extra bit of grumpy-old-mannery grouchiness about how young people are wrong in a thousand ways especially with regard to beards and shaving. When did these young liberal types all start growing beards that they're too young to have grown in the first place? When did other men start shaving their bits (and their bobs)? When did that fashion note go out? Weren't they really pleased when puberty happened? Do the young beard wearers of today shave their bits and bobs? How odd would that be? Like they'd been forcibly dipped in Immac from the waist down.

There you go. Watch em roll in, then roll back out again disappointed... Pershaw and fie and a pox on the lot of em. So because I am moving house this coming weekend and shouldn't even be on the web, and because my phone line gets disconnected today or tomorrow, and because of all of the above, I thought I would do my first ever 're-post'. First off, here is what an Anonymous reader commented this week and then the ear hole postage yet again.

Imagine the stats!!! I may as well delete every other post. It's all about the ear holes, baby. Sigh. 

Anonymous said... 

to be honest, i think you have all the right points, especially about the ear lobe flesh things, i object to them. however youths will be youths, we feel the need to be different. hence the dressing up as 'emos' we are merely copying the looks of the members of the bands that we love to listen to. fashion changes, always will. tattoos, well yes they will get slightly mankier, but when your 80, who is going to see your tattoes anyway, most 80 year olds stay in there homes, probably afraid of the next 30 generations of teenagers, be them emos or chavs. 
from a kid, who is friendly.


REPOSTERY of AN OLD POST

Now don't get me wrong, kids. You youthful types are great.


I love you all, in strictly non-touchy no-feely kinda way, of course. All above board. All theoretical this is. Now then, let me start again.

You can come in here (my imaginary house) with your tattoos and your sticky-uppy hair. Fine. I accept that. You can be an Emo if you like. An emo is just an experiment between a Goth and a New Romantic that went wrong and came out extra-skinny (or extra-chunky depending on how badly wrong the wardrobe based experiment went). Skin tight black jeans (Jim Morrison). Dyed hair (New Wave). Miserable as sin (Holden Caulfield). Yeah. I get ya. You can't put anything past me.

That goes for you lot as well in your do-rags, your hoods, your baggy saggy jeans hangin round your ankles cos you're not allowed to have a belt in the pen. Uh? Huh? Ayt? Hood up to prevent identification by CCTV. O yeh. It's Big Brother time out there - on da street. Up your ends. In ya hood wearin a hood.

*It's all good.*

I get it. Every year I get it like I get a persistently dribbly nose and a bit of a head cold every February. I get da youth fashion. It's not for me, of course it isn't. I actually tried on a pair of straight leg jeans in *The Gap*. Yeh, that's right - the shop that shows my age. And a style of jeans that showed the thickness of my Bobby Charlton/Chris Hoy style thighs. Hey - it's all muscle, baby. My body fat is as low as a Tesco's *Be Good To Yourself* chicken thigh. My thighs are just skin, hair and meat. Yummy.

So. To reiterate - the tatts - surely the worst thing you could do to yourself in this day and age, right?

If we don't count stubbing out cigarettes on your eyelids for a bet, random knife-based self-harming, or wearing a Scouting For Girls tour t-shirt.



Tattooing the name of your cat on your wrist has to be something that is going to upset your parents, doesn't it?

That is if your parents didn't go into the parlour with you to have all the names of their grandchildren stabbed n inked all over their lower back. And if they did? Fine. I'm all in favour of random, squiggly ink splots daubed on unimpressive bodies. Gives you something to look at. Especially when they're stood in front of you in a bus queue on a summer's day and you're trying to read the words on their upper arm. Does that say *Man Love Forever* or *Man U Four Everton Nil*. Probably neither and a crap example either way.



Most people get pictures. Of Harry Potter. Of their kids. Of Chairman Mao. Of a fish. A dancing lady - I saw a guy of about 23 with a naked lap-dancer on his forearm - I really did want to question that one - who was that going to impress - but then I realised it was probably a masturbatory aid for if he should ever end up stranded, alone on a desert island. Heaven forbid that he'd have to end up using his dirty imagination...



O, that made me feel superior for many minutes. Me and my unblemished epidermis - unblemished apart from the acne & chicken pox scars, the scars from cuts & operations, the birth marks, moles and random everyday blemishes.

I don't have much deliberate skin damage/decoration. And it almost makes me feel weedy and jealous of their bravery in re-designing their genetically ordained skin coverings. Why should we put up with looking the way *God* has designed us?

So I don't rule out the option of one day tatting up my epidermis. Should I ever find a design that I like, a tattoo artist I could trust & a body part suitable for drawing on.

Note: having a hairy chest kinda rules that area out of the equation right? I could of course shave my chest, have a bald ape tattooed onto my left pectoral, then let the hair grow back and see how the ape looks then. Like Bigfoot the Yeti hiding in a forest of hair... Yeah, and true, that was an image we could have all done with out...

But ear holes have done me in. Brought on an early (?) mid-life crisis.

You got me youts, you really got me. I don't dig em. I am genuinely freaked out by em. I'll be honest as an onion.

See, from a sensible adult point of view - hair you can change - tatts - provided you don't get a spider's web tattooed on your neck - you can cover em up. Should you ever wish to get a job as an accountant or become Prime Minister. But big ear holes - and I should define my point here. Provide a photo - here - or there - depending where the html sends it. That photo, that you can see - there. Forcing the earlobe to accomodate a big ole frisbee shaped object d'art/d'fashion.

What happens when you take em out, kids? These Ear Spacers? Are they gonna seal back up? Or are you gonna look like you've got massive wonky ear lobs hangin down with a big black hole in the space where the skin is pulled apart.

So okay, fine, it's a *flesh tunnel*. How helpful is the internet - you can find stuff even when you don't know what it's called...

That's what freaks me out, to be honest. And that is what proves how oldy fashionedy I am. How square and non-fash I am. You can't be a weekend punk once you've got one of these, like herpes, these babies are yours for life.

What next: ear shaping? Ear cropping/pointing/elfing?

Fine. By the time you're my age you'll have saggy, baggy, holey ear bottoms - and I hope you'll enjoy them. As much as the people of my age with bad Winnie the Poo tattoos on their ankles, or who have ineptly drawn barbed wire round their biceps love their youthful lifetime decisions. Fine. Just fine. Just don't come running to me. Cos I'll be the 80 year old codger with earlobes as big as a garden gnomes - but that'll be the process of ageing, not some crazy youthful design.

But thinking about it - maybe when I'm 80 I'll have nothing to lose. Maybe that's when I'll get a big pair of frisbee sized ear-rings...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Roy Keane taught me everything I need to know about Englishness, but thanks for the email anyway

Oh, email forwards, aren't they great? They're usually jokes and pictures of horrible things for you to laugh at. I remember at work some hilarious person was sending round about twenty photos of 'unattractive' naked ladies. And it was Friday afternoon and one chap found it so funny that he immediately had to forward it on to all his mates in the company.

Unfortunately when he went into the 'Choose Address' bit of Microsoft Outlook - he chose 'Harrison, Angela' instead of 'Harrison, Darren' and sent the lovely photos to the HR Director. He realised 10 minutes later and spent the last hour of his employment trying to cancel the mail. There were frantic phonecalls to the IT department. It was a pathetic little tragedy, but it was the most amusing 'Email Forward' based incident I can remember. Usually they provoke a groan or you just want to instantly press delete. Heaven help us if everyone starts replying and you come back to your desk to find 58 RE:RE:RE:RE:FW emails.... Ha ha not very ha ha...

Which brings me to this 'Subject: FW: England' - received a few days back and initially ignored. But thought about while I was wanting to go to sleep so I had to get up and reply. An ex-work colleague sent it & I'm afraid I'm back on my England/Britain High Horse again. This new England thing is going from strength to strength. But in the hope that someone might receive this FW: England thing as an email and want to check a few of the 'facts' included - I'm just going to post the email and my reply, feel free to lose the will to live at any stage ...

From: Pxxx Mxxxxxx 
To: a big open list of people
Subject: FW: England


England my England  
 
Goodbye to my England, So long my old friend 
Your days are numbered, being brought to an end 
To be Scottish, Irish or Welsh that's fine 
But don't say you're English, that's way out of line. 
 
The French and the Germans may call themselves such
So may Norwegians, the Swedes and the Dutch
You can say you are Russian or maybe a Dane
But don't say you're English ever again. 
 
At Broadcasting House the word is taboo
In Brussels it's scrapped, in Parliament too
Even schools are affected. Staff do as they're told 
They must not teach children about England of old.
   
Writers like Shakespeare, Milton and Shaw
The pupils don't learn about them anymore
How about Agincourt, Hastings , Arnhem or Mons ?
When England lost hosts of her very brave sons. 
 
We are not Europeans, how can we be? 
Europe is miles away, over the sea 
We're the English from England, let's all be proud 
Stand up and be counted - Shout it out loud! 
 
 
Let's tell our Government and Brussels too 
We're proud of our heritage and the Red, White and Blue 
Fly the flag of Saint George or the Union Jack
Let the world know - WE WANT OUR ENGLAND BACK !!!!
   
If you are English, pass it on please.

xxxx - And so I climbed on my 'high horse' and replied

Yo Pxxxx
 
(Friendly bantery opening)
 
I have to admit I was going to delete this message after I'd read it cos I thought, hmmm, I'm not sure this is entirely truthful, but then I thought, no, no one else is going to bother to question it. And it disturbed me. It disturbs me that there's a lot of untruth in it and yet the tone of it is to encourage English people to feel oppressed and angry about how they're not allowed to be English. And that's a bit daft on one level - of course we're allowed to be English - but it's also a bit sinister, as it's exactly the kind of thing that the BNP like to encourage. And I get offended that these extremely right-wing people think that they're more patriotic than me. Especially when they don't know a great deal about English history, English Literature - or even life in England today. So just bear with me while I point out a few mistakes in this poem.
 
1. You're not allowed to be English or talk about being English on the BBC? The question is do we even need to say 'we're English'? You turn on the radio in the morning and it doesn't matter what channel you choose and you're going to hear John Humphreys or Chris Moyles - they couldn't be more English. They don't have to wear an England shirt to be any more English. The news today was about the Chief Medical officer of England's views on swine flu (we have a separate body to Wales & Scotland), there was also stuff about the England (and Wales) Cricket team. And the rain. It was all very English. Like Test Match Special - could those public school boys be any more English? They talk all day about rain and cake and cricket - that's England. Or a certain section of it at least. Personally I visit the bbc news website every day - it breaks down from World news, to UK, to England, to Manchester. That works for me. And we do have St Georges' Day, I'd personally prefer to see it celebrated more widely, but whilst Manchester city centre is chock full of shaven headed lads in England shirts - as it was this year - it puts people off. We need to grab that aggressive patriotism off the louts, but that's just my opinion.
 
2. No English authors? Really? Have they looked at the English & History GCSE curriculum recently? Shakespeare's compulsary at English GCSE, whether the students like it or not. I could add a few more English poets - and generally you can throw in George Orwell as well. So really? that's nonsense. Milton doesn't get taught much at that level, I'll admit, but then, Paradise Lost is a little too complex. As for George Bernard Shaw, well, that's just amusing - he's as Irish as Roy Keane. Shaw was born in Dublin, so I'm not quite sure what the point is including him on the list. Perhaps he just rhymed and they forgot to look him up in Wikipedia. That's a bit sad.
 
3. History GCSE - yeah, well it's always difficult to separate English and British history isn't it. Look at the Tudors - they're studied as part of the National Curriculum - James 1st of England (6th of Scotland) was a big supporter of Shakespeare - that's one reason why Shakespeare wrote the 'Scottish play' Macbeth. Elizabeth 1st was less enamoured with Shakespeare - but then she didn't like Catholics, Scots or her cousin, Mary (Queen of Scots) who she had arrested then executed for treason. Pupils learn about that at school - English, Scots, Irish, Welsh - and usually French - history is all intertwined. Look at the first World War - that's another line that takes my breath away. The one about Arnhem & Mons. That's an England vs Germany battle now is it? Is it no longer the British army? Really, that makes you sick to the stomach just a week after 8 soldiers from the Welsh Guards were brought home dead from Afghanistan. I'm guessing they were comfortable in being patriotically Welsh and British soldiers. But it would be disgusting to forget about them or the Canadians or Polish who fought in those battles. That's the line that really made me write this. It's sickeningly stupid, more unforgiveable than not even caring or knowing who George Bernard Shaw was. I can understand that - Shaw rhymes with 'anymore'. Very clever.
 
There's always been a confusion between England and Britain - Americans are the same - we all use one for the other - it's sometimes hard to know - life is easier if you're Welsh cos you know you're Welsh - there's no confusion there - Welsh and British. We shouldn't be ashamed to be English. I'm not. We can be British (and fly the Union Flag) and also English (and fly the St George's Cross). Of course the author of this poem doesn't seem to know the difference, but then, I think we've established that they haven't done their research. It's a nasty, stupid poem - and patriotic English men and women deserve better. Fortunately a great English poet has already done the job: William Blake's Jerusalem. Surely this should be the English National Anthem? The Queen might be the monarch of the Commonwealth but we deserve our own anthem - what better than this paen to England's green and pleasant land?
 
"Jerusalem"
 
  And did those feet in ancient time
  Walk upon England's mountains green?
  And was the holy Lamb of God
  On England's pleasant pastures seen?
  And did the Countenance Divine
  Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
  And was Jerusalem builded here
  Among those dark Satanic mills?
 
  Bring me my bow of burning gold:
  Bring me my arrows of desire:
  Bring me my spear: O clouds, unfold!
  Bring me my chariot of fire!
  I will not cease from mental fight,
  Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
  Till we have built Jerusalem
  In England's green and pleasant land.

 
well there you go, I'm not sure if you'll ever reach this far down but I had to have my say. It hurts me that some people might just superficially flick through that nasty piece of trash and feel a sense of anger and bitterness about England. There are good reasons to be angry about this country - genuine problems - and I fear that this sort of tripe will just make things worse.
 
anyway, have a splendid day!
 
Mark

Well that was all very long winded, pious, egotistical and bla bla, but such is life. As I've said before (on St George's Day) my feeling is that a) I won't allow these right-wing horrible people to claim patriotism as their own & b) We just need to chill out about Englishness. We just are. We're not oppressed. All around the world everyone speaks English & listens to British music. We're winning (if you wanna look at that way).

I've just been reading Roy Keane's autobiography and I came across this passage that distills his thoughts about Irishness & I thought, yeah, replace the word Irish with the nationality of your choice and that would sum up my feelings on the matter...

"The story ran that I didn't care about playing for my country. It wasn't true ... I loved Ireland, it was my home, and home to my closest friends and family. I deeply resented this, I'm more Irish than the Irish thing, the patriotic fraud that hung around the Irish team. The bullshitters in the squad were clever about wearing their Irishness like a badge of honour. The super-Irishmen, fucking bluffers and PR men who pandered to the media and the fans as if they'd invented being Irish. Wasn't it obvious I was Irish? From Mayfield in Cork. I didn't need lessons in Irishness. I was Irish."  Keane p.247

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why someone needs to do the young Miss Marple

It's the in thing these days in the film & tv world - origins stories. So we've had Batman Begining, Superman when he lived in a Smallville and now Alien Origins - Ridley Scott has signed up to make a film about how that alien ended up on a space ship in the first place. Smashing. Well he's a good director and it's a decent plot so why not.

The 'industry' loves nothing better than using a pre-existing character in a new film - thus there's so many reinventions of cartoon superhero characters or there's the reinvented, rebooted James Bond. And ages and ages ago there was the young Indiana Jones & the young Sherlock Holmes. The idea is the audience already has some knowledge of the character so they'll empathise & be interested to know more. Although Indiana Jones & Sherlock Holmes are both pretty annoying young chaps - always getting into adventures and being successful in a slightly smug way.

Anyway, I thought I would come up with some ideas to send to the tv companies to reboot & re-invent some existing franchise characters.

Young Miss Marple's Adventures - Ahhh, see, just writing that title makes me think that this has to be a p0rn film. It sounds like some smutty filth from the 1970s, but maybe that's just my sick and twisted mind...

The Miss Marple we know is obviously a highly successful amateur detective, bicycle rider, hat wearer and slightly constipated born-again virgin. But what was the young Miss Marple like? How did she get so buttoned up and disapproving of fun and jollity? Was she always like that or did she have an unfortunate happenstance that changed her forever? 

I like to think so. I like to think that the niave young Miss Marple was already showing her detective skills finding books in the British Library (see highly accurate photos for illustrative purposes only). The show itself would concern a dashing young Belgian chap called Hercule with whom Miss Marple is having an on-off torrid affair. He is a tyro private detective but in the sexist world of 1930s London he is dismissive of young Miss Marple's suggestions of who murdered Lord Archibald in the drawing room. He suggests she sticks to what she knows: finding first edition copies of 'Flyfishing' by J.R. Hartley. Then in episode 3, Hercule announces that he is leaving her for a man called Roger Ackroyd. Hercule has finally come to terms with his incipient gayosity. Miss Marple, like an idiot, blames herself. She wonders why she fell for Hercule in the first place and why he was attracted to her if he liked men. She is heartbroken and utterly confused. After a brief period working as a lap dancer in Soho (*check for period accuracy*) she decides to defy convention and set herself up as a young celibate cycling detective.

I think I can sell that one to Channel 5.

Morph: the plasticine years Morph the dancing, morphing, lump of plasticine who starred as artist Tony Hart's little sidekick for so many years is a character that really should not be lost to TV. Just because Tony Hart got very old and then died, doesn't mean that Morph should retire as well. He is ripe for re-invention. Here is my proposal:

It's a philosophical conundrum similar to the Big Bang Theory. It's about Morph's pre-existence - his essence exists in a tub of plasticine but he hasn't been fully formed yet. Visually it's a bit dull. It's just a tub of plasticine - but it's a tub of plasticine that asks lots of questions about the nature of reality and potentiality.

Predestination - all of that. A ten minute film of a tub of plasticine. Hmmm. We could lively it up a bit by letting some talentless child play with the plasticine - forming a sort of Neanderthal Morph... (see mock-up photo created by talented young sculptor).

I think I will enter this film into the Turner Prize.

Jeremy Kyle - Schoolboy Twat

Ahhh, the lovely JK. Tormentor of the hopeless plebs, constantly berating them for being jobless, feckless, dribbling twonks with 12 children each before they are old enough to vote. Talk about an unfair contest, Jeremy. Try shouting at Richard Dawkins or a Fox tv host and see how far you get. Anyway...



Jeremy Kyle is a friendless schoolboy in 1980s Britain. Everyone thinks he's a tosser and bullies him mercilessly. I am going to star in this adaptation as his biology teacher.

Biology Teacher: "Has everyone completed their homework? Do you all have your results for the DNA test? Jeremy Kyle, you snivelling little snot bucket, do you have your DNA test results?"

Then we'll have a bully sitting behind little Jeremy flicking him with a ruler and spitting bits of wet paper at the back of his head. Meanwhile in his voiceover Jeremy fulminates about the scruffy kids at the back of the class. He sneers at their young smoking parents. He is sickened by Jenny Snodgrass as she snogs all the boys in the class except for him.

In the showers young Jeremy worries about the size and inadequacy of his penis. As do the rest of his classmates who point and laugh at him.

Jeremy Kyle vows to have his revenge. And like so many serial killers & serial twatheads from history - he will.

I think I can sell this idea to Jeremy Kyle's production company. If he doesn't buy it then I will make it into a low budget feature film.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why Primark and poshness have ruined charity shops

I was in a charity shop in glorious Levenshulme last week dropping off a bag of 40 books. I walked in the door and waited for the lady in charge to poke her head out of the back room and look at me. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Is it okay if I drop off some books?"

Lady: "There's nothin electrical in there is there?"

Me: "Just books. Lots of books."

Lady: "We can't take electrical. Have to refuse anythin plug in."

Me: "Only books." Walking backwards out of the shop, abandoning bag of books. "No electrical books. No moving parts, not even a pop-up book."

I ran away. She could throw them in the bin for all I cared. I'd made an effort to recycle my books back into the world. She could try and plug in my battered copy of The Magus if she wanted. Although I think you might need a European adapter before you'll get any enlightenment out of that ropey old Swedish detective book. Still, that's what you want from a lady in a charity shop. You want her to be a bit batty, not have a clue about what anything is really worth, and you probably want her to tell you off when you hand her 20 quid's worth of stuff. It's a proper charity shop is that. Just like the lovely one in the League of Gentlemen.

Here's what a charity shop should be like:

  • A bit untidy, the sort of place with a faded toy donkey in the window and possibly a gollywog hidden under a pile of unmatched gloves. When you hold something up and ask how much it is you want the shop staff to look in surprise & wonder at what you've just found. They will need you to explain what it is. They will need to find their reading glasses to check how much it is.
  • The charity shop is the place for old people to work and mingle with the rest of society so they can feel useful & needed and keep warm in the winter.
  • After all, you want the shop staff to be slightly out of step with modern fashions and trends. You don't want them to be talking about asymetric jacket lapels and Busted dvds - you want them to appreciate doilies, sad faced pierot dolls & nice cardigans.
  • Because you want to find something weird and wonderful. Something you WOULD NOT be able to find somewhere else. That is the point of charity shops. "How much is this rubbish old vase?" you ask, trembling slightly as you hold up the genuine Ming vase you've just discovered in a Sue Ryder shop in Openshaw. Perhaps.
  • They DON'T sell stuff you can get somewhere else. They sell stuff that isn't for sale any more. They sell stuff from the past. They are the Bagpuss of shops. The staff there are like the Wombles - they collect what other people throw away.
  • The books will be 99% predictable and bent out of shape, but if some local reader has just popped his clogs you might have the chance to pick up loads of high quality stuff at low prices.
  • Because traditionally charity shops are not just there to make money for good causes - they exist as a cheap place for POOR PEOPLE to shop in.

I got my school blazer and tie when I started at big school from a charity shop. Well my mum got em from the charity shop anyway. I was mortified, but no one ever knew, so it was fine really. No one pointed at me and said, "Ha! Ha! Charity shop blazer boy!" They were too busy being impressed by my monkey boots and bowl haircut. Probably.

When I was in the sixth form and wanted to be a rebellious 17 year old - I scoured many many charity shops in the hope that some old fella around my size had died. I yearned to find old suits, shirts, cardigans, Manc indie kid style coats and silly 'old men' style hats. And usually if you did find anything interesting you could buy it for a few quid... when I were a lad etc.

And over the years I've found a few weird and wonderful items in charity shops. Oftentimes stuff that you buy - then realise it's completely useless or ugly - and so give back to another charity shop 6 months later. But, y'know, it helps the economy...

Here's what most charity shops are like these days:

  • Organised. Generic. Tidy. Expensive! Fairtrade chocolate. Wooden bricabrac made in Kenya.
  • An Oxfam shop in Aldershot looks like an Oxfam shop in Aberdeen - well, probably, I haven't actually checked - and that's fine, but...... boring. The front part of an Oxfam shop isn't a 2nd hand shop - and I used to think that's what a charity shop was. Now it's a place to buy unbleached linen bags made in Bangladesh and bags of dried bananas. Which again is fine. I like dried bananas. I'm dead healthy and dead right-on me.
  • (Actually I need a new linen bag to put my sun-dried bananas in.)
  • They employ experts to check through the clothes and books and siphon off the best books & 'classic' clothes to the more expensive specialist charity bookshops & 'classic' clothes shops. So it's rare you'll ever find an interesting old man hat these days..
  • Having said that. It's not just the shop's fault. OLD MEN!!! Listen! If you're planning on dying and giving away your old wardrobe any time soon - smarten yourselves up!!!
  • Tracksuits? Shellsuits? Sweat shirts? What the heck is that all about? Dying old people just don't dress like they used to. Where are the 3-piece suits, ay, old men? Where are the rakish trilbys? Shame on you...
  • The clothes in charity shops are a bit shit these days. They're generally Primark cast-offs. Or similar poor quality throwaway clothes. Rarely will you pick up a jacket that has the name of a tailor stitched into the lining... Fair enough - the Modern World etc...
  • But the charity shops price these Primarky clothes like they're high quality merchandise. And, umm, they're not! Primark clothes are actually more expensive if you buy them 2nd hand than if you buy them new. Humbug!
  • It can't be possible to make a shirt and sell it at a profit for £3. Surely, Primark, surely? No doubt I will take advantage of it if it is, but how do you do it? Tiny children working their tiny hands down to their tiny bones? Apparently not, you say, so obviously - it's MAGIC! Do you magic them into existence? Hmmm?
  • But what can the charity shops do about that? Poor people don't shop in 2nd hand shops any more. They go to Primark. Rebellious youths don't bother either. They buy their crazy emo clothes from the internet.
  • I'm making this up now. I have no idea where you buy Emo-based fashions really. I just know it's all wrong.
  • Everything about the Modern World is wrong!
  • There's a temptation to have a go at people and organisations that clearly do a lot of good for the world. And sell excellent fairtrade chocolate. I support them, I really do, I'm just a little sad - in the old fashioned sense of the word.

Personally, I'm just going to buy things from jumble sales from now on. That'll learn em, eh? Coz isn't that where the really rubbish books & clothes and highly-illegal electrical items end up? Or else on Freecycle.org - the internet's own peer-to-peer charity shop.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why can't these women just leave the dolphins alone!

My life style guru said no. She said it was a bad idea. I forget her exact words but it was something like - nooooooooooooooooooo, noooooo, nooooo, no - don't do it - no. So of course I did. It was a few months back and I've recovered now. I've stopped. But for a while, I admit, I did indulge in some internet dating...

Now I'm not a misanthropist - some of my best friends are people. And I can't even spell misogenist, but.....

But... it might seem like it if you read this. But really, I'm a nice guy! I never ever take the mickey out of people - particularly when it comes to their bad spelling, bad grammar or idiotic ideas. I would never do that - it would be too easy. However, on this occasion, I thought I'd change the habits of a life time... and poke some fun at some unnamed illiterates. Someone will learn a lesson - if only me.

So. Internet dating - as it's called - although the actual dating part tends to be in the real world, doesn't it? So it's more like internet browsing of other people's photos and idiot explanations of who they are and what they want.

Damn. This sounds a bit like Facebook, doesn't it? And I've foresworn all that nonsense. Still, the advantage is - in the world of internet dating - nobody hears you scream/or lie - whereas on the Facebook- if you start bragging about your pet snake and Ferrari sports car - someone might pop up & say, "Ay, up Mark, you ride around on a Raleigh Grifter with a broken seat, don't lie, our kid. Lol. Ferrari indeed! Btw give my love to Peter the python. Ttfn"

So first things first, I sign up to this site that we'll call 'Date-A-Doofus' or DAD for short. I load up a photo of me that has a name like 'DSF000079' which indicates that it was a case of 79th time lucky. Standing in your room holding a phone or camera at arm's length trying to take a photo of yourself that doesn't look utterly gruesome, it's not easy, is it? By photo 79 I'm really looking bored, in fact I'm too bored to bother deleting it. Bored might look like I'm mean & moody - and that's a good look, right?

Next I copy-and-paste a profile up from my List of Best Ever Internet Dating Profiles - after all - I'm just looking and I don't want to put in too much effort at this stage. Right?

Right. No prizes for guessing which one I used. Or for guessing that I didn't pick the one about 'the full head rubber Miss Piggy mask' or the witty story about protruding ear hairs...

It was one of the others. So. Next stage - browse 'the available talent' as we used to say when I were a lad. Let's be havin you ladies...

Or more prosaically, you had to enter your search criteria of age/geographical location/level of idiocy etc.

And at this point, I have to point out that I don't have anything to say about the men's profiles profiles cos when I clicked on them to have a look (for purely research purposes) they would send me messages back threatening to duff me up and ask me if I am a Qeer. Or they just called me a effin Homeo. But I'm guessing the rubbish spelling, idiocy and lack of personality listed here aren't entirely gender specific.

God, I'm a snob. Obviously. But, y'know, everyone needs a hobby, and for a while my hobby was:

*Despairing at the human race - as exemplified by women on this dating site*

And yes, I'm sorry 'angle eyes' I should have given you a chance. Your eyes may have been extremely angular - maybe pointing in different directions at the same time, but it was the thing about you like a 'man (who) wears nice cloths' - that slightly freaked me out to be honest. Now, I assume you mean clothes - but perhaps you do like a man - probably a Chippendale style man - dressed only in a selection of washing up cloths. And that would be a little bit too weird for me, so I'm sorry, but I'm out...

Yes, because here's the fun part. After you'd written your silly profile you then had to go on and fill in a series of questions. Really! It was like having a part-time job. It would be easier to just randomly chat people up in Tescos. And at least then you'd come home with a bag of potatoes, so your time wouldn't be completely wasted...

So, to save you all some time here are some results from my reading of profiles. I have learnt lots about the state of womanhood in the United Kingdom in 2009. All of the facts below are TRUE and statistically proven:

  • Lots of women like Vin Diesel - personally I find his films since XxX to be a bit, well, shit.
  • Pulling your tongue out as you stare into the camera - apparently this is a fun thing to do. I suppose it's meant to indicate *I'm a nutter me!!!* Or I'm sexy and bonkers. But can just look like you have problems controlling your tongue and that it unfortunately just sticks out all the time, gathering dust. Which wouldn't be ideal. Unless their is photographic evidence to the contrary, it is hard to know what to think. 'Put it away, love.'
  • "If A lad Can Make Me Laff Thn Hes All Good =D" - sense of humour is still popular in a prospective partner. Sadly the woman that wrote the line above didn't think it was funny when I mailed her and quoted that line back at her and asked her what '=D' meant. I knew that D = V x T - if V is velocity & T is time, but how did distance have any bearing on sense of humour? I asked her if she was thinking in terms of Einstein's theory of special relativity - if it was some sort of comment about the perception of time when one is enjoying oneself? She didn't write back needless to say. I think on that occasion I was trying too hard - I don't really understand Einstein that well, so she probably ended up laughing at me - not with me. I might have been thinking about Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. I get em a bit confused...
  • After all, our other interests matched up pretty well: I too wanted 'Sumone Who Likes Me For Me N Not What Av Got, And Isnt After One Fing =P'
  • Where P represents momentum so that P = M (movement) times V (velocity). Yeah, ok, I'll stop it now...
  • Another part of the questionnaire thingy asked you to list your Top 3 interests & Top 3 un-interests (I forget the exact wording)... One woman listed her Top 3 interests as: 1 - Partys; 2 - aving a laf wit m8s; 3 - friendshit. I was confused by the last one so wrote to her to try and find out what she found so fascinating about 'friend shit'. She didn't write back.
  • Someone else liked: 'cwtching' - What is that? catching? watching? I wrote to her to find out. Naturally she ignored me.
  • On the un-interest list - a lady said that she didn't like '1 - bold heads; 2 - facal hair' But what is wrong with people having bold heads? Stalin: he had a bold expression. And he would have made a nice boyfriend. And facal hair? Is that fecal hair spelled wrong? Is that 'poo hair' that she doesn't like? Well, sure, no one likes hairy poo, that goes without saying... I didn't write to her. Weirdo.
  • They like to post up photos of their dogs, these dating women do. I don't know quite why. Five pictures of a dog, one blurry photo of a lady holding a dog. In response to that I decided to post up a photo of my goldfish, Brian. And a photo of my granny. And my granny's dog. My granny's dog died in 1983 and my granny died soon after, but ladies like a man who has a granny with a dog. That's been scientifically proven in tests...
  • They put up photos of their children. Now personally I think it's enough to tell me that you have children. That's fine. That's regular. But I do not need to see 3 photos of them. If they have Nazi tattoos on their foreheads or additional limbs then yeah, show me a photo, I'll be interested. In fact I know a documentary director that works for Channel 5, he'd definitely be interested. But no single man on a Dating Site should be interested in what your children look like. You may attract the wrong sort of chap. Odd.
  • As is this idea. Putting an ascii text bunny rabbit in the space where it tells you to describe yourself. You're a cute rabbit, are you? Yes, you are. Yes, you are. Mind of a child. Wrong sort of chap: encouraged.
  • As is: a big description of how you have just come out of a very bad relationship and that you're fragile - and weak and suitable to be taken advantage of - again - may attract the wrong sort of chap. Or suggest that you're very likely to kill someone.
  • Women want younger men apparently. In the 'good' old days women were happy to trot around with old duffers, but not any more, it seems. But then we all want stuff. I want a decent pencil sharpener that actually works, but, y'know, what we want and what we get when we shop in Poundland are very different matters. Anyway, I applaud this social change with the weary resignation of a man that grows older every day.
  • Women have opinions on chest hair. I've not looked at the men's profile pages that much, but do they have injunctions on what breast size and nipple shapes are acceptable if a lady is intent on a rewarding physical friendship with them? Actually they probably do.
  • '3 Things to do before you Die!' Some people set the bar quite low: 'go Italy'. Really?  Go to Italy? Why not 'buy a pair of shoes'. It costs about the same amount of money. Come on - have a desire to go into space or meet the Queen. Get some actual ambitions, lady. (No disrespect) Although, that said lots and lots of women want to 'swim wiv dolphins' or even 'swim with sharks'. Quite a lot want to see the Northern Lights or 'go ghost hunting'. One women listed her hobby as 'ghost hunting' & her ambition as 'go ghost hunting'. I suspect her hobby was actually 'watching cable tv' & her ambition was to 'carry on watching telly'. Anyway, I blame television for everything. No one wanted to bother dolphins before some idiot celebrity started fiddling with them and saying how much fun it was. Why did no one write 'I want to be buried alive'? I guess because that might attract the wrong sort of bloke as well... Oh well.
  • 'Ideal Dinner Party Guests' - Jordian is very popular of course. I'm commentless.
  • The ideal man 'likes staying in and also going out' - personally I like hanging around near the front door - sort of half in/half out. I'm pretty much ideal when it comes to the 'going out/staying in' matrix. In one minute - out the next!

So that is what the modern woman in the United Kingdom in 2009 wants and likes and needs. Hello, ladies! In a future episode I may well describe what happened subsequently in the world of Internet Dating. I may not...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why PIE - a month by month guide to the art of pie-making - a story of partial failure

It was January - there was optimism and probably a very cold wind in the air - my culinary and lifestyle guru challenged me to make a pie EVERY month throughout 2009. 'Hurrah!' I said. 'W00t!!! Yes! I'll do it!!!'

I loved those excalamation marks back in January 2009. It was such an optimistic month! Here's what I did wrote:

"Indeed, why pie? Well why not pie. Given all the New Year's resolutions you can make: losing weight, exercise, reading books bla bla bla. Eat more pie."

A New Year's resolution that got as went okay in January: Apple & Blackberry pie - slightly burnt at the edges.

That survived into February: Goat's cheese, onion & pepper flan - slightly burnt at the edge cos I tried to put it under the grill and brown off the cheesy top. I need a blow torch and at the time I needed a better pie dish. Once you start to do a thing it starts to get complicated. You need more items - it's like hill walking - you go out one day - and think, hmmm, that was fun, I'll do this as a hobby - then you have to go and buy a compass, proper boots, waterproofs, sandwiches - it's a palaver.

Also, goat's cheese? I thought I liked it. But I made a big bloomin pie - and I live alone. It was a pie for 6 people - 6 people who were hungry. I thought - "That'll do me for a few days that will!!! Lovely, lovely goat's cheese pie!!!" In truth, the second time I tried to eat it for my tea I was already starting to feel both sick of goat's cheese and a little bit sickly. It did not reheat well and it did not taste good cold. It was a bit urggghhhh. It was too rich, there was too much - and it was not the best pie in the world. I'm afraid I went with Homer Simpson's dictum, "If at first you don't succeed - give up."

So, and now it's AUGUST - we should be on pie number 8

I'm behind - perhaps I'll never catch up; perhaps it was just too much to expect, I'm an amateur. I need a proper teacher. I also need a pie audience I think. A group of hungry eaters to appreciate my pastry products. I have learnt that man cannot live on pie alone.

But given that the little apple tree in the back yard has produced a bumper crop of little red & green apples that are a little too sharp to eat uncooked - I've got no choice but to get with the pie making habit again. So I've returned to my first love: apple pie - or in this case apple tart.

And with the left over pastry I fashioned a little tomato tart. I've always been a big fan of tarts of all shapes and sizes... fnnar fnnar

So there we go - just under 4 months to go in the year and 9 more pies to make. I may yet surprise myself with my pie productivity - although if I continue to eat them all myself, I may need to purchase myself a pair of trousers with an elasticated waist...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Why I will never join Facebook

There are two main problems that stop me having anything to do with Facebook:

1. Me.

2. Other people.

Now don't get me wrong, I fully support the right of other people to put their face & thoughts in the Facebook; to write little notes to each other and tell ex-school friends what they did last week. It's just that for me it's a bucket full of wrongness. It's not for any of the reasons that the Daily Mail or community minded parish priests rail against it. It's not cos it's superficial or driving the 'youth' to a form of internet-based madness or suicidalness. No. That's fine. The youth are always superficial and prone to self-obsession and occasional madness. Let them have their book full of face.

The problem can't even be that I'm too old & grumpy for Facebook. There must be grumpier people than me on there & there are definitely older people. For heckers sakes, I hear tales of mothers writing on the 'Walls' of their own children. Commenting 'lollingly' about hilarious photographs of their drunken Ketamine addled teens. Ha ha. Fine. Get on with it. Although, I will grouchily comment that if I had had photos taken of myself as a drunken teen - standing in a street with a traffic cone on my head and sick down my pullover - I'm not sure I would have wanted a parent to ever see the photos. But it's the modern world, I'm not complaining.

My problems with the Facebook are entirely personal and have very little to do with the slight sense of revulsion I feel at the idea of people being able to comment on photos of me, or challenge me to do hideous personality tests. It's more that I don't want these people to know what I'm doing & I don't want to communicate with people I don't actually like. But whilst I can avoid phoning someone up, how can I avoid allowing them to be my Facebook friend?

And yeah, my Facebook supporting friend tells me that, "You can set it up so it's private and you don't receive those add-ons. And... other stuff." But really - how does that differ from not having a Facebook account? Not being on Facebook means that no one knows what I'm doing & if someone forwards me an 'hilarious' joke email I can mark it as spam and never write or speak to them ever again. It's a system that works for me. And obviously I am guilty of the crime of Twitter and also the perpetual sin of bloggage. But no one I know actually reads this stream of word claptrap.

Here's the first big problem with Facebook though: Me looking at other people's lives.

If I was on Facebook I would look at what other people are doing. I would look at what my ex-girlfriend is doing. I would see her happy face posing for photos when she is out at parties. I would see her - whatdotheycallit? - status change from single to partnered up again - and really? - I'd rather not know. I actually couldn't care less, but I don't actually want to know - but I know that I wouldn't be able to stop myself from looking. Just wasting those 6 minutes flicking through someone else's photos is vaguely depressing. People don't put up photos of themselves looking their worst - unless they're a drunken teen - and even then the label on the photo doesn't read ,'Me feeling depressed eating dry crackers whilst watching Come Dine With Me'. The photos show off a social life whereas whenever I'm looking at something on the internet I'm generally going to be sitting in my undercrackers and drinking a cup of cold tea. I will inevitably feel bad about myself - and I don't need any help in that sphere.

After all I don't surf the web whilst larging it in a nightclub. I usually do it when I'm bored.

So if some old school 'friend' pops up and says, hey, what are you up to these days!!!!??? What am I supposed to say? Errr, I'm eating dry crackers whilst watching Big Brother...

So there's the second big problem: other people looking at my life.

As a for instance: ex-girlfriend might actually be feeling depressed and bored at work - so will have a look at my page - or if I've blocked her - at the page of a mutual friend. Clearly, in this case I want to present an image of me as happy and socially successful. However, in order to do this I would need to present a slightly exaggerated version of my life. The bits about eating dry crackers and watching repeats of Columbo would have to be glossed over. It would have to be like a make-over show. I would have to Gok Wan my Facebook account - make it much more fabulous.

I would have to invent several new people and log onto Facebook as them - thereby creating some new friends to replace the slightly dull ones I already have:

Pedros: a crazy Brazillian guy who loves to partyyyyyy!!! He says really great things about me and we go out salsa dancing twice a week. We also play for a successful football team at the weekend, although I am a better player than him, obviously. We take drugs as well and steal cars for laughs. He's in love with me - in a shoulder punching manlove kinda way. He likes to watch me sleep.

Suturine: a crazy tattooed and pierced chick who I go to gigs with. We also indulge in a variety of shady behaviours that may or may not include bank robbery. She drops many hints about my sexual prowess and what a great time we have together!!! Unfortunately she also loves me and probably self-harms when I reject her for other women. She will inevitably start to stalk me at some point & then kill herself.

Obviously in order to make these two characters seem realistic I would have to go out and stand by attractive people and take photographs of myself & them smiling happily - then come home & label the photos as:

*Me & Pedros at Gatecrasher!!! Havin' it drunken lols!!!* Though obviously it would be me stood next to a confused looking Asian guy in Quality Save. I can add in the disco lights in PhotoShop.

*Me & Suturine in a crackhouse in Bradford just before we went doggin on the A56 lols!!!* Although actually it would be me standing next to the receptionist at the dentist's - I would add in the crackhouse graffiti and her tattoos, piercings and smile later in PhotoShop.

Alternatively I could just go out to pubs & clubs and take lots of random photos. I'm sure the photographed people wouldn't mind - I'm sure they would happily pull faces and show off their initimate body parts for the camera. It's what the modern drunkard does.

And there I would have it: a happy, successful Facebook profile. Lots of friends, fun and status updates. But wouldn't it all be just too much work? Just to prove to people that I have a crazy, fulfilling existence? Isn't being on Facebook like having a part-time job?