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Anti-Social Media

Well, I’ve had a very productive commute! My gifts to the world include…

Rate My Troll (.com) The pitch: Why feel morally superior to people who post anonymous racist, misogynistic rants by tackling their indefensible comments with more enlightened points of view when you can feel morally superior by criticising them on their poor use of grammar? For example: ‘A womans’ place is in the kitchen?’ – I think you’ll find it woman’s – Get your possessive nouns right pleb. Or did you mean a collection of individual women? In which case it’s still wrong and a paradox – douchebag(‘s)!

This is how we end all malice. I think I’ve stumbled onto something here. Either that or the abuse gets more eloquent (which is a victory of sorts).

Shoredicks: Like Michelin stars, but for A-holes. I went to a hipster cafe. The barista had a tattoo of a chemical equation on his arm. I inquired after its meaning. He told me it was the chemical formula for love. I wanted to punch him in the face. If there’d been two Shoredicks in the window I’d have known not to go in!

Shat-Nav: The William Shatner-themed-satellite-navigation system, complete with strange pauses in conversation that make you miss your stop and sudden forays into spoken-word renditions of popular tunes. Either that or one that allows you to record your own voice so that you feel like a driving Adonis (‘Check me out – I know where everything is.’ or ‘Why thank you Martin, I will take the next left.’)

Informiaowshon Super Highway: Make it illegal for people to post cat pictures anywhere other than on the dark web – that supposed part of the internet reserved for ultra-violent and morally bankrupt material. We’ll obviously still have to hunt them down and punish them for their crimes (I’m still talking about the cat people).

Light Web: A saccharine-sweet cyber world in which no one says anything nasty ever. Anyone writing a trolly comment has their IP address instantly blocked for life leaving people free to post things like ‘I’ve just bought a new fridge’ or ‘Look, I’ve made a casserole nyom nyom’ or whatever, and other people can reply with ‘Ooh, I made a casserole once. Did you use beef?’ and the first person can say ‘Yes – LOL’ or whatever (but no cat pictures). At the end of each month a list is compiled of everyone who has used the light web. They are then rounded up and killed, and the rest of us normal people can get back to being miserable without bothersome interruptions.

Inadvertently Curing All Prejudice: Advocate one day a week when it’s acceptable to use all of the really great insults you harnessed as a child before finding out what they really meant and subsequently losing the right to use them. It would be awkward at first, but once we’ve all got over ourselves we can crack on with establishing utopia. I’ve come up with two amazing names for this day, but am too afraid to post either of them! 

Los Lobotomy: ‘You know what this crowded tube train needs?’ I thought, ‘a mariachi band!’ and etc…

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…In Which Raconteur Skills Abandon the Ageing Lothario

The man sitting next to me is on a date. I know this by the way he answers his phone. He has that higher-pitched air of non-threatening concern so essential in the initial wooing process  (You know, the one that gets abandoned forever after a few weeks)…

‘That’s alright. I was a little late myself…No, it’s the independent one next to Starbucks… OK, see you in a few minutes.’

His date arrives and greets him with a warm smile. The man, eager to impress, steps up to the plate and unleashes the conversational mother-load: ‘Sorry for the terrible directions. Maybe we should have just met at Starbucks…but…I like to drink in places where they pay their tax.’

Even the delivery is a little strange – Kind of passive aggressive – Like: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

‘Oh,’ the woman replies, a little taken-aback. ‘Well, it’s a nice choice.’

‘Yeah…lots of companies seeking to avoid…tax…at the moment…there’s…’

He glances around the room in desperation. Our eyes lock and we share a telepathic moment.

Help me brother!

Hey man – You did this to you – Pull your shit together.

‘Facebook…and…’

‘I think maybe some of the banks,’ his date tries to assist.

‘Yes, probably – goodgood

I hate to see brethren stumble, but what am I supposed to do? Lean across and say: Tell her she looks great you douche? And besides, my date has just arrives and so I’m like: Watch and learn my young apprentice. Listen to the Surgical Sensei work his lyrical mastery…

…And within less than a minute we’re talking about Supply-Chain-Management.

How the hell did this happen?

I fall back on my training. It tells my to show interest and ask questions, so I dredge up: ‘What’s the best supply chain you’ve ever managed?’ Her face relays so many complex messages – a mixture of I’m sorry for bringing this up / Stop asking questions / You’re only making it worse, whilst also answering the question (Multi-tasking! Women are amazing!)

Over on the next table the other guy’s date is performing the coup de grace. ‘I think maybe Google don’t pay tax as well?’ They leave soon afterwards. I appreciate their honesty (put it down to experience and move on).

But I’m still there, trapped in a rictus. I don’t think it’s the women’s fault or mine – Nothing in common – that’s all. Time and time again I’m bottling lightning and laughing at my own jokes (always a good sign), but no amount of electricity can reanimate a corpse.

Forty minutes in fate cocks the weapon and places it against my temple.

A comment about TV prompts her to say ‘I’ve just finished watching the Nordic crime drama – ‘The Killing.”

‘What a coincidence – I also enjoy killing…’

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Gift of the Gabbage

Someone has labelled everything in the park. A tree has a piece of paper attached to its bow with the word ‘tree’ written on it, the ground is labelled ‘ground;’ a lamppost ‘lamppost.’ Not everything is so literal. One of the bushes is christened ‘Bean Head,’ and a bench sports ‘No Thugs.’

FullSizeRenderAll in all there are close to forty such signs. It’s like something out of Alice in Wonderland (‘Drink me.’)

What would prompt someone to do something like that?

My initial ideas (in the order they arrived): Prank / Peruvians / Some kind of protest / Epic breakdown / Insane.

It’s not in Spanish so it can’t be my Peruvian stalkers, (unless they’re deliberately using another language to throw me off the scent – Los Rapscallianos!) See previous post: Digame!

If insane then just imagine what a treasure trove their home must be – all the nouns assigned a little sticker – knives labelled ‘stabby friends’ or ‘she will be mine.’

‘I’m just going down to the ‘Green-play’ (park), but first I shall put on my ‘cloth skin’ (coat) and ‘fruit-bowl’ (pants).’

FullSizeRender (1)I want to engage with you fellow human. What are you?

I got to the train station without being accosted by a white rabbit (shame). I have a long commute each day. On occasion it grinds me down. Yesterday, wedged against some guy’s ass-crack, having miraculously secured a seat, I thought ‘You know what would spruce this journey up? A Mariachi band! I could hire one and get them to follow me around for the day. Sure, it would compound the overcrowding, but think of the joy it would bring, to you and your fellow commuters. I dismissed the idea as fanciful, but later found myself researching the matter thoroughly and ascertained that I could employ said musicians for the grand sum of £300 (el etiquette Trabajo de Mexicanes es muy bueno!) Were it not for the prohibitive train fares I may well have proceeded (£50 a head for a day return! (plus the guy who plays the bass is normally as fat as a house / sports a coffee-table sized sombrero – he’d need two tickets)) – Maybe if I booked in advance I could get some kind of super saver, but then I’d need to travel off peak…
…the point being – it would be amazing, but people would think I was unhinged…

Perhaps the phantom labeller was attempting something equally uplifting. Who can say? Unless they leap naked from behind the bins one morning, a half-dead pigeon twitching between their teeth, and screech a heroin-fuelled explanation into my face we’ll never know. I apologise crazy person. Our failure to communicate is 50% my fault…

But it’s not all misfire. I know a guy with a Filipino wife thirty-two years his junior who speaks no English. They communicate exclusively through Google Translate (and presumably blowjob morse code – one speculates), and they seem to get along just fine!

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My Tuba Shame…

In 1989 I rocked a stone-cold mullet and whenever I walked into a room heavily coiffured heads would turn. I was thirteen years old and the world was my oyster / toilet. I had no mobile phone (they existed, but were the size of microwaves, cost a gajillion pounds and were only used by YUPPIES (Young Urban Professional (Take that you acronym obsessed Millennials – LOL))). In the evenings I generally pootled around on my Grifter bike, taped music off the radio, or wrote actual letters to my actual girlfriend with an actual pen (steamy smut about how I wanted to ‘hold her hand’ and other such filth). At weekends I’d rifle through LPs in a second-hand record shop, sit waiting for blocky games to load on my Spectrum 48k or hang around with an annoying kid whose dad owned a sizeable cache of video nasties and porn – the hiding places of which weren’t fooling anyone. I made things, played the clarinet, knew the location of dens…

Then one day it all changed, or rather – it didn’t.

In the 80’s it was compulsory for all Catholic schools to have comedy names. Ours was called Blessed William Howard (or ‘Blessed Bills’ to the initiated). One Autumnal morning me, my mullet and my fellow hilariously dressed classmates were shepherded into the ALF  or ‘Active Learning Facility’ (Couple of tables with some state-of-the-art ‘personal computers’) to be introduced to something called ‘The Information Super-Highway.’

Our teacher – “Mr quotey-fingers” proceeded thus:  ‘The “Information Super-Highway” or “World-Wide’Web” will “revolutionise” the way in which we view and share “bits and bytes” of “data.” Instead of seeing this computer as a single machine, try imagining it as a “node” on a “network.”‘

He turned on the screen and (once it had warmed up) a pre-Google / Lycos / Ask Jeeves white DOS-prompt flashed before our eyes.

We were asked to type in a phrase or “keyword” and see what came up.

I went first – ‘Boobs’ – nothing! (Can you even IMAGINE? (the horror)). A couple of guys followed suit – ‘Willies’ (nothing), ‘Kylie Minogue’ (nothing), ‘fart-face’ (nothing). Something said ‘try just fart‘ (nothing) etc. The kid next to me had tried ‘nipples’ and ‘poo’ all to no avail.

‘Try typing The Gross Domestic Product of China,’ the teacher encouraged.

We duly obliged and were rewarded with a string of text (no pictures) and links to incredibly stodgy academic papers.

‘I hope this demonstration shows you how the world as we know it has irevocably changed forever,’ he concluded.

‘What was that bullshit?’ someone shouted as we filed out (earning themselves a detention and 400 Hail Mary’s (Protestant kids these days don’t know they’re born!))

One thing was for certain – It would never catch on.

Anyway, I told this story to a grad last week and it was like I was talking about my hardships during The Great War.

My tuba shame‘Computers used to operate with less memory than is found in today’s lowest resolution photo,’ I proudly divulged like a luddite neanderthal banging on about the glory days before wheels and fire. ‘And data used to be stores on flimsy five-and-a-half-inch floppy discs.’

‘How did they fit in the USB socket?’ I was (genuinely) asked.

‘We used to roll them up and wedge them in,’ I replied.

Later that evening, tormented by the ridiculous notion that I might be old, I perused through a few photo albums and found that a good twenty-percent of my childhood pictures were in black and white…and that I was wearing flares in all of them!

Twenty years from now someone will be explaining cloud-computing and reality TV to a young person born in 2016 and they will be laughing their arse off at how quaint it all was back in the day…

…but enough reminiscing for now – granddad needs his nap…

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Peruvian stand-off

In an earlier post (El Stake-out) I evoked widespread scepticism amongst the writing community by suggesting that a nefarious cadre of elderly Peruvians were at large and up to no good in the Royal county of Berkshire.

Well get ready to apologise people cos I’ve got absolutely no evident for a second incident!

Quick recap: Four Peruvians in fully lacy regalia – I bump into them freakin everywhere – The 6th sense: I see red people – followed them / they followed me – presume other people can see them too, but this is yet to be verified. I may turn out to have died at the beginning (spoiler alert)…and you’re all caught up…

For weeks now it’s been quiet – Not even un peepo pequeño, but on Tuesday morning…

…Hills meadow, the scraggy bit next to the car park, a lone man walking along a solitary path at dusk, late for his train, flustered, handsome etc. He looks up…and blocking his path…the four Peruvians (the two women at least – the man are waaay back). They see him. There are devilish smiles of recognition. The punishment for having arbitrarily stalked them one afternoon will be swift and severe. Its too late to run; too late to take a photo (conveniently). He later pens an exact drawing of the ordeal and hazards a guess at their names (Big Mike levitated apparently).

IMG_1043

In his head he hears David Attenborough narrating: ‘The Berkshire man is bigger, but at 39 he’s well past his prime. The lighter, nimbler predators can sense that he’s disorientated. They wait to see if he’ll do something douchey like fall into the canal or start crying…’

A few years back I narrowly avoided  a head on collision with an ice-cream van in Sri Lanka. Later I envisaged my father reading the eulogy and choking back grief in order to savour the immortal line: He died a clown’s death. Given the choice however between ice-cream and South American smack-down I’m going with the former. Either way I’m winning the Darwin Awards that year, but everything’s relative.

What to do?

Think dammit. Your cover’s well and truly blown. You need to reach your extraction point. Where is it? You don’t have one. You are, after all, an IT consultant… I wonder if there are men who died simply from watching too many Steven Seagal movies…I tell you what – don’t think!

Big Mike’s looking tasty – all four feet of him. I’m reckoning that if push comes to shove I can probably drop kick him into a bush, but then the women’ll be all over me like stink.

How to appease them? The only Spanish I know fluently is the phrase ‘Lo siento para mi esposa’ (I apologise for my wife) and, though useful as a general statement, is of no practical application here!

But wait, a woman is coming and she’s pushing a pram. I’m going to avoid a massacre by invoking operation human-shield. The Berkshire man is past them, onto the train, still debonair etc.

But now I’m having to get up 20 minutes earlier every morning to go the long way round the park, and Google’s been no help. Typed in “some sort of tracking device (or blow dart) that fits into a panpipe” – Nothing.

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Know your audience…

Googling oneself…marvellous.

Yesterday’s query threw up the following from ‘The Birth Club’ at babycentre.co.uk:  

 Now I know my target demographic (alcoholic mothers) this should make marketing a whole lot easier…

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