Monthly Archives: July 2015

Rabbit Stew

A man and a woman get set up on a date by a mutual friend. The man isn’t me, nor have I ever met him. The woman and I know each other well. They are each given the other’s phone number and, in the week leading up to the date, an impressive level of banter & flirtation is reached. The date is a roaring success – both say as much, and they continue to flirt solidly for a further thirty-six hours.
But then…radio silence.
I join the story 24-hours into this silence.
The woman asks: ‘As a man, why hasn’t he written back?’
‘Could be any number of reasons,’ I reply, ‘Maybe he’s playing it cool, maybe he’s giving you space, perhaps it’s that work deadline he was telling you about.’
‘Or maybe he’s not interested?’
‘Possibly, but probably too early to say – Why don’t you text him?’
‘I texted him last.’
‘OK…’
A few hours later she’s climbing the walls – Why hasn’t he replied? – He seemed interested – I guess not – Maybe I’ll text him? No, there’s a principle at stake – Why hasn’t he replied…
I figure she needs her mind occupying so I say, ‘I’m driving up to the midlands tomorrow to see my dad. Fancy joining me?’
She does.
During the two hour drive north she phones / texts [EXAGGERATED NUMBER OF PEOPLE] to ask for their advice, and is rewarded with comments like ‘Let him go – he doesn’t deserve you,’ and ‘move on’ and ‘that’s out of order.’ Meanwhile I’m saying ‘just text him,’ and she’s like ‘No,’ and I’m like ‘Why not?’ and she’s like ‘Because then he’ll know I like him,’ and I’m like ‘Isn’t that the idea?’
Next she calls the women who set them up in the first place (who we’ll sinisterly call The Instigator). The instigator starts apologising for matching her with such a douche-bag and saying how he seemed like such a good guy and what the hell’s wrong with men and why aren’t they straight forward like women are, and I’m driving and nodding sympathetically and saying ‘Alternatively you could just text him?’ and she’s saying ‘NO, IT’S HIS TURN!’
We get to the midlands and she asks my dad his opinion which (as I’ve warned beforehand) is an epic mistake.
‘Yep, definitely not interested,’ he says with his customary diplomacy, ‘time to move on, next.’
We have a great day walking in the forest, visiting a stately home etc, and all the while her phone’s buzzing and a sense a cyber-outrage is building in the online community that this man has dared to pretend that he enjoyed a date when all the while he was planning on not texting back.
It’s getting dark when we begin the journey south. It’s been 48-hours without a reply and even I’m starting to think that maybe the man’s not interested when suddenly the woman declares ‘My mobile data is switched off!’
She switches it on and instantly gets a day-old text from the man that begins ‘Hey beautiful – about that second date?…’
Now she’s ecstatic and waving her arms around, and I’m thinking: Maybe I should surreptitiously get this guy’s number and warn him?
I asked permission before writing any of this. When I mentioned the proposed title it was relayed to me that ‘I AM NOT A BUNNY BOILER!’
This blog might alternatively have been condensed to: Man goes on date with woman, likes woman, asks woman on second date, blissfully unaware of insidious support network, wonders why woman hasn’t replied…

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Life is Hyperbole

Many years ago when I first moved to Reading I lived in a shared house with three other twenty-something males. Three of us had relocated for work purposes. The fourth who, for reasons of anonymity we’ll call Dan (although coincidentally that also happens to be his real name) told us that he didn’t need to work on account of his parents’ acrimonious divorce and their subsequent attempts to out-spoil him. He sat at home most days drinking Stella, eating bucket loads of chicken wings that he bought from ‘Mr. Cod’ (virtually next door) and howling obscenities at the television.

One day we returned home to find him in a state of mortification. The gig was up. His parents were onto him. No further funds would be forthcoming. He was to do the unspeakable and find a job. After several failed attempts he got himself paid work as a security guard at the local shopping centre.

Less than a week after he started the job I discovered my two other housemates in the lounge laughing uncontrollably. Unable to speak one of them handed me a piece of paper. It appeared that Dan had not enjoyed his time as a security guard, but too ashamed to admit he couldn’t hack the work, had decided that his departure would be more palatable if the reason was a little more elaborate. As such he’d written a letter to the head of security posing as his sister and stated that he could no longer come to work as he’d been involved in a car crash and had, had one of his arms amputated.

My housemates’ mirth was not caused by the excuse, but rather the reply he’d received from the head of security – one of the finest works of literature I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Amongst it’s many well-crafted stanzas two sentences stand out: “We were even more concerned when he contacted your next of kin and discovered they were unaware of your accident. If you could get someone else to hold the phone against your ears perhaps you could call them (presuming you skill have ears)?” And “As your uniform was found in the locker we can only presume you were planning to leave anyway before this most tragic of events.”

I remember he was very angry that they hadn’t paid him, but could think of no legitimate way to complain.

Engaged in the black art of self-promotion as I am, I am constantly bewildered by the sheer volume of exaggeration and out an out lying that takes place in everyday life. I’m not talking about the adulterous / of-course-I-didn’t-burry-her-in-the-woods type exaggeration (i.e. things worth lying about). I’m talking about the little things, like describing a cappuccino as ‘awesome’ or any use of the term ‘LOL’ (surely a killable offence (if that’s not hypocrisy?)).

The latest bee in my bonnet (hyperbole: I don’t own a bonnet) is the emergence of companies that charge to generate fake comments / likes / views / re-tweets etc online. I’ll admit, when I first started promoting my music (Martin’s music) I did try one of them – paid the princely sum of £8, and 48-hours later one of my songs had been listened to 5000 times, but no one had liked it (I hadn’t paid for that) and none of the people were real. Their avatars had been lifted from other users and they had not really listened to my work. They were simply bots clicking on a link. Having decided that it wasn’t a virtuous thing to have done I deleted the song, re-uploaded it and by the end of that day it had been listed to 30 times and liked 8. I felt satisfied. This was an honest picture of the world. I had connected with 30 individuals and properly connected with 8 – Hardly setting the music industry alight, but a true reflection of reality.

I read an online article about a rapper who had over 100K Twitter / Sound cloud followers, all of whom were fake. It posed the question: How does he feel when he reads computer-generated comments that declare ‘You are a rock God’ and ‘Dope’? Or beholds the giant list of fans, none of whom have ever listened to a single note of the tunes he has so lovingly sampled from proper musicians (!) but who have cost him an arm and a leg to acquire?

It’s as if he has taken the Turing artificial intelligence test and the computer has failed him! And he isn’t even an isolated example. The practice is becoming widespread. Now, whenever I see a Facebook link with 20K likes I think: There’s a good chance that’s not real.

I went for lunch last week at a bar I hadn’t frequented in over a year. The place had been renovated. I struck up a conversation with the owner about the changes. Turns out that the previous owner woke up one morning ten months ago, rang the brewery and said ‘So, it’s like this – I’ve had enough – the keys are on the bar’ (click), and off he went, owing in access of fifty grand. No one had seen him since. That’s excited and not made-up.

Another thing that really happened was that I was sitting at a beachside café with an old school friend last weekend. I mentioned that one of my greatest regrets in life was my failure to corral a bunch of co-workers into getting drunk, attending a matinee show by Britain’s premium children’s entertainers ‘The Chuckle Brothers’ and heckling them. My friend replied:

‘Oh I met them once. Tried to get them to go drinking with me, but they declined – gave me a signed photo of the two of them sitting in a cockpit. I did however get annihilated (hyperbole) with a Tommy Cooper impersonator – Guy was phenomenal – Never broke character once!’

Rant over. Mother Teresa put it better than me: ‘Life’s a dream, realise it.’

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