Life of extremes

Life has got to the point where all I seem to do is speak to this guy about the most exciting way he could end his life to end the shame of his general lack of success. This is despite the fact that his blog is getting more views than mine recently. My money is on him launching himself from a trapeze and landing anus first on a metal spike.

I’ve often professed that the world is a dull place. If I haven’t I’ll do it now. The world is a dull place. It is an incredibly mundane planet we inhabit, but one we seem to treat purely in extremes. Things are either awesome or awful. It is as simple as that, there is very little occupying that vast chasm in between those two words. Everything is profound, or it is nothing.

People never have days where they feel a bit blue. People no longer feel sad. It is depression. That’s not to do people’s feelings down. Maybe we are all truly depressed. In outsourcing all our responsibilities to technology and living in a climate that allows us to live a life of plenty we have given ourselves time to feel the natural state of being.

If we have a few nights of poor sleep, we say we have insomnia. A party is amazing or it is a disaster.

Is our insistence upon extremes because of this dull world?

Even I am not exempt from this inclination towards exaggeration. I currently need a haircut. If I thought about it reasonably, I’d be able to say it’s fifteen minutes (in an ideal world) of someone snipping your hair, which is the most useless part of our biology. It doesn’t cover enough of our body in such away as to provide any reasonable protection against the elements, but keeps growing nonetheless.

But I don’t get my haircut because it’s awful. Getting a haircut, not my haircut, which is a matter of opinion. I hate getting a haircut so much that for a year I used a pair of clippers under the idea that it can’t be that difficult to trim some hair.

As it turns out I was misinformed and it’s incredibly difficult to trim hair, so naturally had to go bald for a time. I hate it so much, that I’d much rather someone break into my house whilst I slept and gave me a haircut. I wouldn’t even mind if they stole some stuff on their way out, or even let the door open, inviting more less haircut focussed people in to have their violent way with me. Maybe I’ll get lucky and wake up dead… I’ll never have to get another haircut. Unless that weird myth that your hair continues to grow after you’re dead (it doesn’t) turns out to be true, then I’ll have to employ the services of a dead barber.

I just can’t stand it. It’s the worst thing in the world. First you have to go to the hair cutting place which is packed with other people wanting to get their hair cut. Endless bodies topped with hair. Men with their hundreds of children who also need their child hair cutting. Your whole day wasted, sitting in silence as others get their hair removed.

Then you finally get called up and asked that most cryptic of questions, ‘what would you like?’

Obviously from context they mean with your hair. Not just, what would you like in general. They haven’t got the time for that. Even so, it’s a difficult one to answer. A haircut is what I’d like. If you ask for that though they look at you as though you’ve shat yourself.

It’s at this stage the realisation dawns that everyone’s watching you with great expectations. What do you want? Answer the question! WHAT DO YOU WANT!

I tend to panic and start throwing out strings of sentences that make barely a modicum of sense. ‘Shape it round the ears, then even it out?’

‘What?’

‘I want to be able to see my ears, then just, make everything match that.’

‘What do you usually do with your hair?’

‘Do with it? It’s hair I let it sit on my head!’

Eventually, they work their magic and you leave with an itchy shirt.

Then, the after a month or so, the ritual starts all over again.

I know… my heart just wasn’t in it tonight.

 

 

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The Beard of Failure

It’s hot today and set to get hotter as the week goes on. I would talk about how this thoroughly displeases me, but I’ve done so in the past and no one seems to have done anything about it. Usually, I try to keep my blogs informative and offer an analysis of a particular aspect of modern life. If not that, I tend to offer newly found works of Hubert J Watergipridget. I try to refrain from talking about myself on a specific level. I do so for several reasons. One is that I’m not prone to vanity like everyone else on the interwebs, posting inane drivel about their trips to the shop or sticking up selfies of them walking through town, slurping a drink that’s far too colourful to be the drink of an adult.

What happened before smartphones? Were we more modest and more focused on the outside world? I honestly can’t remember. It could be that we all secretly harboured thoughts that we would love a platform to post the same picture of our heads over and over again, and it was the world’s loss that the technology for us to do so just didn’t exist.

Alas, we’re in an age of self-obsession. Some time ago, society fought for the noble cause of freedom of speech. Inevitably, this gave way to people thinking they had to speak their mind, not thinking for a second whether their mind had anything worthwhile to say. I can fight against this. Or I can give in.

As I decide this, I shall talk about my beard.

 

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This is my beard, there are many other beards like it…you know the rest.

 

I have a complicated relationship with facial hair. Having grown up reading books about wizards and watching Star Wars, I associated the beard with wise and complicated old men. In the many books I read, if a man with a beard turned up you could be damned sure that some exciting shit was going to kick off. Unless the exciting shit kicker offer was female, in which case she’d be stern and thin-lipped, but kindly and clever. The beard was the mark of wonder. It spoke of an experienced man who had seen much of the world and been on many adventures. He would never express such in simple words. He would allude to it. He would guide the younger generation on their own adventures, only ever stepping in when absolutely necessary (unless it’s Dumbledore, in which case he turns out to be a massive bellend).

Then, there were a number of years (quite recently) when everyone went mad for the beard. Beards of all ‘quirky’ styles adorned the faces of young, generally well-groomed men. Men who were not wise nor kindly, but vain and prickish. Men who had beards because apparently, that’s what men did. Men who thought a mass of facial hair was an adequate stand-in for a personality. The beard became another fad, another branded jacket that everyone must wear. The bigger the better.

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Like this man, sporting the timeless look that says ‘I don’t care what others think, as long as they think that I don’t care.’

Fortunately, that fad has died a death, like all fads. We’ve woken up from a mad and bewildering dream and returned to reality, where a beard is just hair sprouting from a face.

I currently have a beard… sort of.

The main reason for this beard is one of laziness. Just like the main reason for WWII was Hitler and his band of merry Nazis. But also, like WWII there are a number of other contributing factors that allowed Hitler and his merry band of Nazis to gain power in the first place.

Am I still talking about my beard? Yes, I believe so. Like the world-wide atrocity that was WWII, there are many contributing factors to my facial hair.

I have always been a somewhat ambitious person. I have always striven for greatness beyond measure yet have accrued nothing but failure. Since I was about 8 years of age, I have wanted to write a book. I would forever start things, but they would never take off distracted as I was by other things, like pigeons or small pieces of string. Then at the age of 11… ish. After forcing my imagination to work overdrive and instilling an iron discipline in myself, I sat down and typed. I typed and typed and then typed some more. I got type fingers and had to undergo a strenuous period of physiotherapy. Then I typed some more. After years of endless typing, I finished my first novel.

This turned out to be Lord of the Rings. Very soon after realising this, I remembered the Lord of the Rings already existed and was much better than my shameless knock off The Crystal of Doom. I still remember the adventures of the Chain Knights, Lord Syndus and Blakemere setting off with Martin, Keeper of the Dragon Pearls to acquire that damned crystal. So, I threw it aside – figuratively speaking of course, it was on the family desktop. Had I thrown that I would have been in serious trouble. But I had to accept I was a talentless hack. A plagiarist. A copycat, a smelly fat copycat!

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The original copycat, copying everything that cats had previously done. The uninspired hack!

I briefly had the idea that I could be an actor and got no further than an extra role in The Theory of Everything, which to this day I still have not watched. I assume Hawking has a theory regarding all things at one point.  At university, I got the delusion that maybe I could a comedian. After 5 fairly successful gigs and one disastrous one, I concluded that spending £24 on a railcard and then travelling 50+ minutes on various trains and getting lost in London for 5 minutes of stage time was probably not a good career choice.

But, throughout all of this, I have been writing. I have written a multitude of novels across numerous genres for various audiences. The one thing this diverse collection of works has in common is that they are all shit and remain unpublished. For my latest novel, I have thus far received 4 rejection letters from literary agents, the shrivelled leeches of the world of books. It’s their continued existence that makes me question these alarmist reports like this one that suggests that the publishing industry is dying. For starters that was written 2 years ago, and they are still going, so if they are it’s a laboured death Shakespeare would be proud of.  If these odd middlepeople earning their 10% on each author can afford to reject me, it either means the industry is alive and well, or I’m just a terrible terrible writer. I’ve invested far too much time to accept the latter.

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For my next novel ‘The Big Book of Meaningless Shite’

Beards.

Yes. So, a friend of mine also harbours ambition. We regularly communicate electronically. We’re like the modern-day Tolkien and C.S Lewis, just minus the Christianity bollox… and the Oxford education and writing ability. In frustration of our lack of critical acclaim, we declared that neither of us would shave until we become successful. The logic being twisting and numerous, like the roots of an old oak. For starters, seeing our increasingly hairy faces in the mirror each morning will inspire us to work harder, or remove our mirrors. Secondly, all good writers have a writer beard. They can stroke it whilst looking stoic and thoughtful. Thirdly, shaving it off will come with such a relief when the event comes with hard-earned success. The faces lurking underneath will be renewed with a lust for life and the smiles of satisfied men.

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The Portrait of the Artist When Doing a Poo

My friend has already shaved. Not because he’s successful, but because he’s a fickle shit who wastes words like a rich man throwing pennies hard into the face of an old blind woman. Though his blog is getting more views than mine on a daily basis, so he has more right to shave than I do.

I, however, am a man of my word. If we do not do as we say, then words will start to lose all meaning and this blog will just be a handful of indecipherable shapes, typed out by someone with too much time on his hands. Despite the obvious bald patches and its ginger colouring, I will continue to sport my face fuzz in the hope that I soon may be rid of it. The alternative is I die with knee-length beard, moistened and matted by the bitter tears of failure.

But at least I’ll die looking a bit like this guy…

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Which makes me think… maybe the bearded men of those old books weren’t that wise. Maybe they were all failures too.

 

Consistency is for Cowards; Hypocrisy for Heroes

It’s that time of the week again. I say time of the week well aware that my posting is as irregular as your mum’s bowel movements. I have previously posted several essays by the great Hubert J Watergipridget and, due to the massive interest in this esteemed wit, I have decided to bow to pressure and post his essay ‘Consistency is for Cowards, Hypocrisy for heroes’.

You’re welcome.

 

Like many men of my generation, I had the misfortune of fighting in what we now call World War II. Of course, dear reader, you are well aware of this. No doubt you have cast your eye over one of those slanderous articles, if indeed they could be called such. I’ve read more coherent pieces carved into stone tablets. Coward, they call me. Traitor. Opportunist. A man with no moral fibre.

There was a double page spread in last week’s Sunday Times. Two pages of drivel spat out by an uneducated cretin who wouldn’t know a comma if it fell on him. It referenced my role in the second global conflict, my time in the British Army, the Royal air force, the Luftwaffe and the Regia Marina. It said my literary work was typical of my character. It said I was a hypocrite, a man without consistency.

I tell you this: consistency is for cowards; hypocrisy for heroes.

Consistency is nothing but a great iron ball to which we willingly shackle ourselves. If I were a consistent man, I would have fought for the British the whole way through the war and learned nothing. Sun Tzu is often quoted:

So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be put at risk even in a hundred battles.”

This has largely been reduced in the West to ‘know your enemy’. I fully grasp the meaning of his words. By switching sides, I knew my enemy and, by understanding their point of view, I became my enemy. As I was my enemy, they ceased to be my enemy and instead became my allies. By constantly switching sides, everyone became my ally and thus, I had removed my enemies, winning the war.  

The only reason other, more moral men did not think to give over (albeit temporarily) to fascism is because they feared they might enjoy it and thus, would feel odd about returning to fight it. I however, didn’t take to it. I found the Nazis to be dull little fellows. Goebbels was the worst. He constantly tried to get me to read his turgid little plays and practically begged me to help him find a publisher. I tell you, if it wasn’t for the angry little man – the one with the moustache – Goebbels would have been nothing.

Upon my return to Blighty I started to once again fight the good fight and command others do the same. I did not feel my brief stint as a fascist lessened my resolve or reduced my impact. If anything, my hypocrisy, if you want to call it that, meant I was in a better position to say who was right and who was wrong. I had seen both sides. I had taken part from both perspectives. I could speak with a sense of authority when I said the Germans must be stopped.

It is the same outside of war.

The priest who espouses celibacy and denounces sexual deviancy as a sin on a Sunday, before ploughing his way through hordes of prostitutes throughout the week is a priest I’m more likely to trust. Why would I trust the word of a celibate priest who has never known the touch of a woman? His conviction – his consistency of character – why, that just leaves him ignorant. I’d rather follow an immoral man than an ignorant one.

A man who has let no drug befoul his body warning me of the horrors of drug abuse is mere stuff and nonsense. A man who has consumed all drugs and devolved into a hunched and vulgar husk of a man telling me never to take drugs, in between his daily course of drugs, well… there is something to think about.

It works both ways. If said hunched drug addict stared up to me with glassy eyes and a toothless grimace before cackling ‘I’ve always taken drugs, from the moment I was wrenched from the womb. Not once have I been clean, you should join me.’ I would not give him the time of day.

Cowardice, that’s what consistency is. The man who has never taken drugs and denounces them, does so because he fears he might enjoy them, and by enjoying them, he might fall victim to them.

A man who says one thing and lives by his word, is a fool. A fool that will never know regret or guilt and will therefore die happily. But he will die ignorant. He will be half a man. A perpetual child steeped in what we might call innocence. Innocence is fine for a child, but something to be derided in adulthood, wouldn’t you agree?

To say one thing, but do the opposite is to allow yourself a sense of moral or intellectual purpose, but let your bodies feel the joy of the physical. In doing so, you can truly test your morals. A good man who has never punched a nun, or spat at a homeless man or harassed a widow, does not truly know he is a good man. A vile man who takes pleasure in it, knows he is awful. But a good man, who pushes a child into a lake or scalds a blind person and then feels bad about doing so, he is a good man.

He can go forth telling everyone how they must live. How we must choose peace and harmony. How we must treat everyone with a sense of mutual trust. He can do all of this whilst being racist or making inappropriate remarks to female co-workers. He lives life as a hypocrite, so you don’t have to. You must do as he says, not as he does.

For if you do as he does. Well… then you’re as bad as he is.

 

Like many of Watergipridget’s works. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense. He was often criticised of being xenophobic, sociopathic and generally a shit. To which he responded.

‘I am definitely two of the three, I’ll let you choose what two.’ 

The Sins of Our Fathers… and Also Our Mothers.

I have previously shared works from the great Hubert J Watergipridget. As it happens, I have a great deal more to share for Watergipridget is the single most prolific writer that has ever lived. In his time, he wrote 42 novels, 95.3 short stories and countless essays. Literally. People have tried counting but have either gone insane, died or got bored before finishing.

It is well known, like Samuel Johnson or Winston Churchill (and practically everyone post-2012), Watergipridget suffered from bouts of depression. Always keen on one-upmanship, he did not refer to his depression as a black dog, but rather a black bear. His reasoning was, not only would a bear be harder to tolerate, but there’s also the risk of being mauled. The following is perhaps my favourite essay by Watergipridget, taken from the collection ‘Stuff and Nonsense’ and is entitled:

The Sins of Our Father’s… and Also Our Mothers (Unless They’re Adoptive Parents, in This Instance They’re Exempt).

When a woman falls pregnant, people are quick to congratulate both her and he who provided the semen. Strange that we feel this is worthy of congratulation, or any sort of praise. It’s a process mammals have gone through once or twice a year since they emerged, and many of them give birth to far more than one at a time and their mating rituals are often far simpler.

There are many acts of cruelty that humanity naturally abhors. Violence against others, injustice, theft, mental and/or sexual abuse to name a few. The righteous majority will often rise up against these and condemn them for the sins that they are. And yet, the birth of a child is celebrated. The miracle of birth it is often referred to. And what is a miracle? By definition, it is an extraordinary and much welcome event, one that is inexplicable and beyond the power of nature or science, it can only be explained by divine intervention. As I’ve already said, mammals have been giving birth and producing offspring thousands if not millions of years and scientists feel confident in being able to explain it. Having studied the literature, I feel they’ve constructed a convincing argument at the very least. Childbirth then, is not a miracle.

If anything, it is the opposite of a miracle. A veritable elcarim if you will. Pure disaster. A couple with child should not reveal the news with excitement to a loving family, rather they should beg forgiveness at confession. They shouldn’t be congratulated but scolded for their selfishness.

We, having lived enough of life to see the truth of it, know the hardship it brings. We know the torment that comes with each new day. We know the pain of existence and the unbearable length of it all. We know what it is like to wade waist-deep through the trials of each day, struggling against the overwhelming pull of the destructive current. We know what it is like to lay awake at night despite our exhaustion, feeling the dull ache of loneliness. We know what it is like to be burdened by our failures, to feel the sting of loss and succumb to the grip of fear.

In short, we know the pain of existence. It is a state of being that would be considered barbaric to inflict upon a criminal. Yet, without first gaining their consent, we push it upon our children without a second’s thought. There is, of course, no way of gaining consent, seeing as nothing exists before it is created. Before two have come together to jumble up a random mixture of their genes, good or bad (often ugly), there is no life to gain consent from. In other situations, we would decide to leave well alone, for we have no right to interfere with others who have not permitted it.

Yet, we deliberately bring children into the world. They know they have nothing to look forward too and as such are dragged into being literally kicking and screaming. They howl in anguish at the torment you have inflicted upon them. From an early age, they are aware of their mortality and ultimately, the futility of any action they take whilst they live. They are innately aware that happiness is a fickle and fleeting thing.

To bring a child into existence is an act of cruelty. With each passing year it becomes all the crueller as the world they’re destined to inherit becomes harder and more unforgiving. Resources dwindle, disease runs rampant, the environment changes and sea levels rise. Wars loom over every horizon because of our actions. Yet we bring children into being, we raise them, and we cast an arm out gesturing over the scarred and ruined landscape, the concrete jungles populated by bureaucracy, financial strife and isolation. We sweep our fingers over the poverty-stricken scene showing them all the woe their tiny minds can hold, and we say, “all of this is yours”.

Whatever we feel in life. They shall have worse. There’s a reason old folk are known for reminiscing about their day. It was always slightly better. All the way back to our mindless ancestors, scrambling around in the dirt, blissfully unaware of how ashamed they should feel. It all went downhill from there.

We’re more evolved than they were. Wiser, more intelligent some might say. If that is the case, why have we not decided to call it a day?

 

Some may say that this goes some way to explain why Watergipridget never had children of his own. Though there is evidence to suggest that he had dozens of illegitimate children running around the four corners of the globe (except the Americas). This he touched upon briefly in the essay Consistency is for Cowards, Hypocrisy for Heroes.

Stop banning things!

I quite liked Jamie Oliver when he first started appearing on television. I liked his lack of pretension and his passion for good, hearty meals. Alas, his hatred for chicken nuggets drove him off the edge of sanity and he ploughed right through the British education system. No chicken nugget was safe, no burger could escape his wrath and he practically erased the Turkey Twizzler from the history books.

Whilst to some extent I can appreciate what he tried to do and applaud the strength of his morals, I really wish the self-righteous prick would now kindly fuck off. If he could take the British Government with him that’d be a bonus.

A letter organised by the chef prompted the UK government to contemplate banning two-for-one deals on junk food. This is of course in a bid to tackle the growing obesity crisis. Which is the last thing you’d want to tackle, as it’s likely to hurt and feel very sweaty. If that’s not enough, the government is now set to follow France’s example by banning free refills on sugary drinks. Apparently, we’re all going mad for these deals and hitting the machines with reckless abandon. In a few instances, this has led to people drowning in Pepsi. These people have not been identified because the sugar rotted all their teeth to nothing and therefore could not be matched to dental records.

The UK’s problem with obesity is apparently a problem. I can accept that to a certain degree. I saw three fat people today. It was hot and one of them had their shirt off. This is definitely a problem. I don’t want to be seen as body shaming, but if your body is unsightly, you shouldn’t be showing it off. I have the opposite problem. I’m so skinny that if I decided to walk around with no shirt on (because I’ve had a stroke or mental breakdown) I’d look like a skeleton and all the local necromancers would assume I was their servant.

To quote Wikipedia “In 2014 62% of adults in England were classified as overweight (a body mass index of 25 or above) or obese, compared to 53% 20 years earlier.” That was four years ago, so I can assume that the figures now show that 99.99% are now considered overweight and that there’s just one man somewhere in the Isle of Wight who’s considered healthy and he’s deeply unhappy because he’s forced to do all the jobs that require movement as he’s the only one that can climb stairs without getting out of breath.

What’s interesting to note is that twenty years earlier in 1994 more than half the adult population of England was considered overweight, but nobody seemed to give a shit (maybe that’s why hoho!). Why is that? We might ask. Is it a problem now because it’s putting unnecessary strain on the NHS? Is it because we have become increasingly obsessed with looks and therefore anything that doesn’t fit within very strict criteria is deemed undesirable? Or is obesity simply an easy target for news outlets to pad out a slow news week, rapidly ageing TV chefs to hang on to in order to remain in the public eye and for governments to talk about to avoid any of the more pressing matters?

They are all interesting answers, but ultimately irrelevant. What matters here is that the British public is at risk of simply rolling over and accepting nannyism of the highest order. Once upon a time, we were free to make our own choices. Each individual was responsible for their own actions and had to accept the consequences and accept we did, albeit with a great deal of anguish. Once upon a time, a festival would not have been cancelled because some people died taking ‘bad drugs’ as opposed to the really good ones that everyone should take on the reg. Instead, there’d just be a statement released saying “When you ingest substances you or a friend or even a friend of a friend bought from a stranger, there’s a small chance that might not end well. Take them at your own risk.”

On the one hand, we have the government, doing its best to ‘help us’, by relieving us of our right to choose. It started with the smoking ban. I myself hate smoking and think all smokers are fucking idiots (don’t get me started on vapers). I don’t see how anyone could get the urge to stuff some shredded leaves into a piece of paper, set it on fire and then inhale the result, but I don’t want to stand in the way of people making this truly foolish choice. Whilst it’s nice that I can sit in a pub and not have it smell as though it had recently caught fire, it was the start of something almost sinister.

Now it’s gone further. Tax on smoking was raised and then there was the plain packaging law because apparently bright coloured packages with pictures on them might encourage children to smoke, despite the fact that children can’t buy cigarettes. Then they were printed with death threats on them: “smoking causes tumours which cause you to die”, “smoking puts your children at risk”, “If you smoke, we’ll come to your house and get you.” It went on and on until someone decided that they have to be kept behind a locked cabinet and no one can look upon them. In turn, these cabinets are sealed with potent magic and should anyone ask for some tobacco they are immediately sent to re-education centres.

Whilst all this went on, adverts started to emerge warning us ignorant masses that drinking is quite dangerous, and we should all do so responsibly. Which was a shame as my dad used to spend his days drinking whisky whilst juggling chainsaws at the same time as cooking soup. Addled by the alcohol as he was and focusing on both the chainsaws and the bubbling soup, he didn’t notice my brother gnawing on the loose wiring. Since he was warned that drinking two pints can lead to you killing a woman with a magic table, he has changed his habits.

Alcohol tax has risen, and all bottles and cans now come with a ‘drink responsibly… or else’ tag. Some have even called that booze should come in some plain packaged forms because the government won’t be happy until everything is packaged plainly, even the people.

I can’t shake the fear that alcohol will one day be banned, and pubs will only be able to sell Coke. That is of course as long as they only sell one Coke per customer. It’s mad. Mad I say.

Combine all this with the ban on junk food deals and unlimited refills and we’ve got the beginnings of the perfect conspiracy. The government are habituating us to the regular removal of our rights. They take away tobacco, to keep us healthy and we applaud it. They clamp down on alcohol for our own good and we say, ‘fair enough’. Various foodstuffs and sugar we say ‘well… okay.’ Then they say, ‘we’re getting rid of all immigrants for your safety!’   and before you know it they’ve got rid of our right to vote because we can’t be trusted to use it wisely.

On the other hand, we have the incredibly vocal members of public who are also morons. The type that see fat people, or become fat themselves and cry to the government “and what do you plan on doing about this? Look at us. We’re disgusting.” As they cram their fourth Krispy Kreme into their greasy faces because they were on offer. “You need to do something. Look I can’t stop, I’m reaching for my fifth!”

Or worse, there are those who demand that the government think of the children. Who fear for the future of the wee bairns. If you care about your children, maybe don’t let them have more than one fizzy drink and cook them some damn vegetables. As for other people’s children, you’re not allowed to decide how they should be raised, unfortunately. I say unfortunately, because there are a lot of children living in my area who are going to grow up to be dicks and would benefit from a good old-fashioned beating. But as I say… not our place. I don’t know I’m drunk.

Stop banning things. Nothing good has ever come from banning something. If you want to raise awareness of the increasing obesity and diabetes issue, just say before someone buys an unlimited drink that they do contain a lot of sugar and might make you fat. Unless the person is already fat in which case they’ll know the drill.

 

By Plane or Boat I Shall Not Go

Recently, I was discussing the literary career of Hubert J Watergipridget and all that it entailed. Author, essayist, scholar and amateur taxidermist, Watergipridget was well known in literary circles, but has perhaps disappeared into obscurity, more so than many of his contemporaries anyway. This could be because he happened to get on the wrong side of George Orwell, who subsequently poo pooed his writing.

Others attribute Watergipridget’s failings to the fact that he never really made a name for himself in America. This was not due to his writing not being received well in the States, on the contrary, it was embraced whole heartedly. It is a complex matter. A part of Watergipridget’s allure was in his captivating, charismatic persona. Wherever he went, uproar and festivities followed. Love him or hate him, all admit that wherever Watergipridget was, interesting things would happen.

Alas, he did not set foot on American soil. In his essay By Plane or Boat I shall Not Go, he gives his reasons. It’s an interesting essay that I remember reading when I was studying at university. I forgot all about it until this fateful conversation. After searching for some time, I managed to track down a copy in a Cambridge library in a selection of essays named Endless Waffle edited by some professor called Henry Pretension. From what I gather, the essay is in the public domain, so I’m free to share it with you here.

You’re welcome.

It is often asked of me: why do I show no intention of travelling to the States? Many of my American peers have invited me to stay with them, so I might give a talk at one of their quaint establishments they consider a university across the Atlantic. That delightful fellow Hemmingway once invited me to his home. I remember him being determined that we discuss his latest manuscript ‘A Farewell to Arms’. A farewell to my sanity more like. The whole thing was a disaster. 92,720 words of nonsense. Half of those happened to be ‘Grappa’. What a disgusting drink that is. Wasted his time with that one he did. There was supposed to be a war on, how an ambulance driver got his hand on so much of the stuff was beyond me. I had to turn the old boy’s offer down via a letter. Dreadful refuse though it was, I couldn’t say it to his charmingly round little face. I left my critique in the form of an ironic P.S.

P.S. Read the manuscript. About as entertaining as the Spanish Civil War. Perhaps that could be the setting of your next book. “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

The quote was of course in reference to his literary career, which I’m sure didn’t go much further.

I must admit, I have been tempted once or twice by such offers. It would, after all, be a fine thing to see the New World as it were.

The problem is the sea. The Atlantic Ocean lies betwixt Europe and The Americas, and I am in a position to say that it is quite large. The only way to cross it is by boat or by an aeroplane, two modes of transport I shall never use.

It is of my opinion that anywhere that cannot be reached on foot is a place one shouldn’t go. Of course, do not take me literally. I have been across to continental Europe having swum the channel. I’ve swum the Gibraltar Strait and explored much of Africa.

I tried to swim to America and got as far as Iceland before I gave up. A strange people the Icelanders. Made such a fuss, it’s as if they’ve never seen a middle-aged author attempt to swim the Atlantic before. Ruined my finest suit that did.

Cars and trains are acceptable, as what is the wheel but an incredibly round foot? One can only dream of a day when we build an underwater train to connect England to the rest of Europe. That’ll make my visits dryer. I hope they never connect Ireland though, if anything we need to widen the gap between that little scrap of land and the rest of the world. Blast it off into the abyss of space I say.

In short, that is why I have never been to America. That and I am a patriot through and through. Anyone who leaves the United Kingdom for longer than a fortnight should automatically have their citizenship revoked. I also hear the food is awful. Their buildings are too tall as well. It’s like they’ve never heard the phrase less is more. No doubt across the pond the phrase is more is more and there should always be lots.

There’s also the matter of their insistence of removing the Us from perfectly good words that have always had Us in them. Color! A Co – lOr. Sounds like a character from one of Tolkien’s detestable books with the little hairy people in them… Greeks I think they’re supposed to be. It’s the English language, you can’t just arbitrarily remove letters from words and replace a few Ss with zeds (or is it zees?) and say you’ve got a culture. Either use the language properly or get your own. You Yankee bastards.

My god if I ever set foot on your soil with my rifle you’ll be sorry. Thankfully you seem to be taking care of that yourselves. You fucking morons. I can’t believe….

The essay continues in this vein for some time, somewhat losing the point. Four pages later it continues.

Grappa? Fucking grappa. It’s the most absurd idea. He spent so much time writing that novel and it was just time wasted. He could have done something more productive with his life, but no, he wrote endless pages about a bed ridden man drinking grappa.

This circulates back to a tirade against America and its people before concluding.

Lewis Carroll was shit as well.

So, there you have it. Hubert J Watergipridget refused to use boats and planes. Or so this essay would have you believe. His military records show he spent time in both the RAF and the Luftwaffe throughout WWII, flying a variety of planes for both, and when not doing that he was in the Italian Navy.

Stop with your ceaseless innovation!

I have lived without internet for over a week. This happened to coincide with the force of gravity making itself known upon my phone, smashing it to buggery, which meant I couldn’t even use mobile data. The romantic in me thought that being disconnected from the Internet would allow me to reconnect with the real world, to human beings. However, the romantic in me is a dick. It’s the reason it’s surrounded by an angry cynic. Alas, I had no life-changing epiphany. It didn’t make me appreciate the joy of reading or the wonder of making conversation. I certainly didn’t feel liberated from the oppressive glare of a screen.

In fact, the opposite occurred if anything. Cut off from technology (internet and phoneless) I was unable to communicate with anyone, save for going directly to their house or writing a letter and I wasn’t about to expend the effort of setting pen to paper, cover the expense of a stamp and then post a letter to say, ‘imagine if your head fell off, that’d be funny wouldn’t it?’

Now armed with a new phone and having paid my mum’s internet bill (yes, I currently have to live with my mum, what of it?), I am free to send people all the inane bollox I want.

Speaking of inane bollox, here is a blog. It’s not a very well thought out blog, I tried that with my Trump and knives blog, but that didn’t get nearly enough views to warrant the time and effort spent on it… well, time anyway.

In getting a new phone I had to decide what new phone I wanted. We like to think we enjoy the notion of choice, but in many ways, it just creates more problems. The question ‘what should I have for dinner?’ would be easy if the only option was some sort of tasteless gruel. As it is, we can select from thousands of ingredients to create dishes inspired by all nations. It’s almost impossible to make a decision. Even if you try and keep it simple and go with soup, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Tomato and basil soup, cream of tomato soup, gazpacho, there’s three right there and that’s just the tomato- based ones.

With phones, the choice is even harder, owing to the fact that there are approximately fifteen billion models, all of which consist of a small rectangle that lights up.

Sales assistant: What sort of thing are you looking for in a phone sir?

Me: One that makes phone calls really.

Sales assistant: Oh, very good, very funny. What model have you currently got?

Me: A small rectangular one that lights up.

Sales assistant: Well, that’s quite an outdated one if you don’t mind me saying so. There are numerous small rectangles that light up that are far superior. Why don’t you try this small rectangle?

Me: Does it light up?

Sales assistant: you can even choose the noise it makes when it lights up.

There’s a scene from a play I started to write based on my experience, it doesn’t really go anywhere, but neither has any play I’ve gone to see. Point is, phones have got about as good as they’re going to get, there’s nothing else they can conceivably add. I would say a toaster, but then, that would make it a toaster with an inbuilt phone rather than a phone with an inbuilt toaster… unless it made really small pieces of toast, which would beg the question: why bother?

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A small rectangle showing it’s remarkable ability to light up

Many things have reached the point where any attempts at innovation are likely to have a detrimental effect. I’m not against innovation as someone once chided me for. In fact, I’m all for it, just only in certain areas.

Coke. Coca-cola does not need to innovate; they make coke. They perfected coke when they put it in a can. Canned Coke is the best Coke and anyone who says otherwise is a fucking inbred cretin. They now have the market, there’s simply no need to make anything else. Everyone will always drink coke, unless the place in question only has Pepsi, in which case they’ll have that. Coke makes approximately a shit ton of money from Coke. Anything they’ve done to Coke since canned Coke has been to its detriment. Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, Coke with lime. I’ve accepted all those things despite their inferiority; they’d gone mad with success and were trying to hold onto it. Then recently, I saw someone guzzling noisily from a can of Coke with mango.

How the hell did they think that would work? Just because you like two things doesn’t mean that smashing them together is going to work out.

coca-cola-cold-drink-soft-drink-coke-50593

The very best way to have coke shown alongside the very worst way to serve coke.

Then there are toothbrushes. They became about as good as they’re going to get when they put bristles on the end of a stick. There’s a number of adverts stating that the only way to brush our teeth is to have a round head that can rotate six-hundred times a minute, which a few years ago would have been considered a medical disadvantage.

(Pause for laughs)

I am well aware that my caveman ancestor probably had similar feelings with the invention of the wheel. No doubt he said “oh, too good for legs are we? What’s wrong with feet, transport has got about as good as it’s ever going to get.” Before he was hailed as a genius for the invention of the English language.

cave

He was a handsome devil though.

Anyway, conclusion is. Only innovate where absolutely necessary. Once we have flying cars that can fly themselves, then we can stop altogether.