Sunday, 21 July 2013

May the fourth (post) be with you

After my last entry I put out a request to my Facebook friends asking them to decide on the subject of this post.  The choice was between stupid inventions or the debate on Republic versus Monarchy for Great Britain.  The result was very close but eventually came down on the side of Republic versus Monarchy, so here goes......
Republic or Monarchy
George Bush or an expensive tourist attraction, you decide.
So now that's out of the way let’s discuss stupid inventions shall we?
Before I get complaints I would just like to define what I mean by 'invention'. In this instance an invention would be anything that didn't exist at one point in history but now does.  This could have been invented, created, evolved, appeared by magic or supplied by aliens and I'll leave you, dear reader to categorise the following 'inventions' for yourselves.
There are any number of stupid inventions in this world, ranging from potpourri to The X Factor, from war to Michael Gove (he was definitely supplied by aliens) but I have chosen to describe all those inventions that aren't stupid in the conventional sense but do need highlighting.
The end of Bell (or Bellend)
Stupidity is not a modern phenomenon, as proved by the invention of the first telephone. “Are you mad? The telephone was an invention of pure genius” I hear you say. But the key to this is the word 'first'.  Now I imagine Alexander Graham Bell was overjoyed at creating the first telephone and I can also imagine his exclamation, 'Look, I've invented the telephone, I must phone mother to tell her the good news'.  Then the realisation dawning that no one else had a phone.
So based on this I consider the 'first' telephone to be a stupid invention. The invention of the second telephone however.......that was genius.
As a slight aside I've always been uncomfortable with the history of the telephone and in particular the introduction of STD calls.  This raises the question - did the invention of the telephone result in an increase in the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases?
Toilets uncovered
More modern inventions have also contributed to the stupidity list.
As is well publicised, the western world is blighted by the curse of obesity and it would be easy to lay blame at the swollen ankles of the suffering individuals. Of course there is some justification in this but you could also argue - and I will - that a number of modern inventions are not helping to reverse the tide of flab.  One such creation is the slow closing toilet seat. If you are not aware of this device it looks like a standard toilet seat but can be closed with a flick of the wrist and you can happily walk away as it gently floats down to the bowl.
Why?  Why would anyone consider this a necessity other than to avoid moving your arm a whole 1 1/2 feet from cistern to bowl.  And this is where these kind of inventions do nothing to help the obese.  If you're not even getting exercise by closing a toilet seat what hope have you got.
Risk assessment
If you read my first Blog post, 'Health, Safety and Hedge Porn', you could be forgiven for thinking that I am opposed to all things categorised as 'Health and Safety', however this is not the case.  I do dislike the 'sledge-hammer to crack a nut' approach to most risks but there are some hazards that are a clear and present danger and should have suitable mitigation.
One such risk is the fire hazard generated by the invention of polyester leggings and in particular the leggings worn by extremely large women.  As these particular females waddle down the road - often supporting themselves on the back of a Poundland shopping bag laden buggy, affording them the ability to waddle and chain smoke as they go - the heat generated by their fat thighs rubbing together must be immense.  That, coupled with the flammability of polyester, surely increases the risk of bush fires.  As a health risk, fat women in leggings also don't help by inducing sudden and violent vomiting.
To add a little balance to this argument it is not just the large ladies who provide a health risk in their leggings.  It is equally dangerous for perfectly formed buttocks and shapely legs to be displayed in leggings in a public place for risk of passing motorists being distracted and crashing into the car in front.   So please ladies, think on.
Not fit for purpose
All of the above must be classed as particularly stupid inventions, however one of the highest accolades must go to the modern gymnasium.  These places, full of torture machines and sweaty, testosterone pumped bodies are proof that, if you market a stupid invention well enough, there are plenty of gullible fools out there willing to part with their hard earned cash for the privilege of participating.
Consider the evidence.  Gyms contain running machines, cycling machines, rowing machines and a variety of weights, the use of which can be subscribed to for an exorbitant fee.
This stupidity can be counteracted by carrying out the following actions.
1) Find a river and go for a row in the fresh air - that's the rowing machine sorted.
2) Instead of getting in your comfortable car and driving, try running to the gym - the running machine is now redundant.
3) Buy yourself a push bike and ride to the gym - the cycling machine is now no longer needed.
4) Once at the gym, lie down in the reception area, pull out your wallet making sure the staff can see how much money it contains - due to the savings made by not subscribing to their gym - and bench press it at your leisure.
By following this advice you will have maintained your fitness levels and highlighted the pointlessness of these establishments - there is nothing you can do in a gym that you can't do outside.
Some will argue that there is a social element to attending a gym but - if you'll excuse me - this is bollocks.  For the well buffed, six-pack displaying, hard-core members it is a chance to show off their efforts - usually to themselves in the mirror.  For the newcomers their time is spent worrying that they are either so scrawny they don't so much have a six pack as a toast rack or alternatively so flabby that they can't see all of themselves in the mirror.  To me this is not a relaxing social situation but hell at a high price.
And the winner is
Regardless of the above no invention can be criticised more than testicles on the outside. Whoever decided that the most sensitive area of the male anatomy should be exposed to even the slightest of touches should be drawn through with rusty barbed wire, and if you're reading this I hope your next shit is a hedgehog.
The end is nigh
So in conclusion, we need to wise up and challenge the perceived wisdom of genius, ban polyester leggings for public health reasons and stop subscribing to unnecessary memberships (and this includes the magazines where you can collect parts to build a scale model of the Titanic in 400 monthly instalments priced at £4.99 - another crap invention)
Authors note: If you are offended by any of the points made in this post ask yourself the question "Why do I think he's talking about me?" and relax, it's only my opinion after all (I just happen to be right).

Thursday, 11 July 2013

There's Nothing Worse

I've always had a fascination with sayings and expressions because, to be honest, most of them are bloody ridiculous.

More Truth Than You Can Shake A Stick At.

One of my favourite expressions is 'More [insert word] than you can shake a stick at'.  Now I've experimented with this and I haven't yet found anything that is in such large quantities that you couldn't shake a stick at it.  More importantly, why would you want to shake a stick at something to gauge it's size?  Surely counting them or using a standard form of measurement would suffice in determining volume.

And this is made even more ridiculous when used in an attempt to quantify the unquantifiable.  'Fun' for example.  There is no unit of measure for fun, nor will there ever be, and it certainly isn't possible to shake a stick at it.

'Fun' is comparable however.  Playing a game of Twister is much more fun than a swift kick in the soft and danglies for example, and giving birth is much less fun - so I have been informed - than the conception (although this may vary from one relationship to another).  So to make the statement "We had more fun than you can shake a stick at" is wrong on so many levels. Oh, and nobody has ever stated how big the stick should be either.

The Swinging Pussycat Club

Another classic is "Not enough room to swing a cat".  Obviously this must have derived from an extremely sadistic animal hater but when considered logically it misses some fundamental points.  For example, how is this form of measurement calibrated, what are the standards employed and what methods should be used?

Now I know that you can achieve a pretty tight turning circle with a cat so these things need more consideration, as follows:-

To start with, is a standard sized cat required and within what level of tolerance? (e.g. 4kg+\- 10%)

Do you hold the cat by its head, its tail or its feet?

Do you employ a full arm swing from the shoulder or a small pivot from the elbow?

What is the standard length of arm needed to conduct the swing - do you employ a child or
Lennox Lewis? (reach of 84")

Does there need to be complete clearance of walls and ceiling or does a slight brush of the whiskers count as making the room adequate size?

There are other questions too, recently raised on BBCs excellent programme QI, which add weight to my concerns.

So I implore you, if you need to know the exact dimensions of your room, a standard tape measure will be perfectly adequate until such time as these questions are answered.

Old Is Best (apparently)

One saying, "Keep Calm and Carry On", first introduced by the UK government in 1939 as a motivational poster, has recently reared its head as retro chic.  At the time of its inception there was an ever present threat of invasion, rationing was in place and life was pretty grim.  These days we're told to "Keep Calm and Drink Coffee", "Keep Calm and Eat a Banana", "Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake", "Keep Calm and Go Shopping" and I can't help but see the irony in this as all of these activities were virtually impossible in wartime Britain.

There is nothing that gets under my skin more - with the exception of Michael Gove - than a 'witty' "Keep Calm" poster, or mug, or t-shirt, or apron, or iPhone cover, or Blackberry cover, or key ring, or rucksack, or wallpaper, or mouse mat, or cushion, or notebook, or shortbread (that's right people, shortbread), or tea-towel, or coasters, or book mark, or (well you get the point).  If anything, these parodies keep me less than calm. And the thing that really winds me up - I can't think of a suitable "Keep Calm" saying of my own that I could ironically use to counteract this.


And there are other sayings that are just simply pointless.  "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs" is one.  Why would you even attempt to make an omelette without first breaking the egg?  Now I'm no culinary expert but surely that omelet would be pretty hard to swallow and probably result in Gordon F*@king Ramsey calling you "a f*@king useless f*@king moron who has the f*@king audacity to f*@king call himself a f*@king chef." Not worth the risk in my book.

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" is another pointless saying.  I don't know about you but I don't want a bird in my hand, as they carry all sorts of diseases and surely the bush is their natural habitat where they are much more likely to thrive. And if I really wanted two birds I'd nip to the frozen meat cabinets at Tesco (other supermarkets are available) and pick up a couple of frozen chickens.

The Last Place

Talking of pointless, how many times has someone said to you "oh isn't it always the way when you've lost something? It's always in the last place you look".  Of course it is, you plank.  Why would you even consider carrying on with your search once you've found what you're looking for? Can you imagine the conversation?

"Did you find your keys?"

"Yes they were in my penultimate pocket."

But my favourite ridiculous expression of all time has to be "Ooh there's nothing worse is there?". Apparently, and usually according to post menopausal women of a certain age, nothing is worse than the event they are currently describing.

Day 1

Post menopausal woman 1 - "I slipped on the ice and banged my knee".

Post menopausal woman 2 - "Ooh there's nothing worse is there?"

Day 2

Post menopausal woman 1 - "I made a cup of tea this morning and the milk was off"

Post menopausal woman 2 - "Ooh there's nothing worse is there?"

And the biggest killer of all on Day 3

Post menopausal woman 1 - "I gave myself a paper-cut today, look"

Post menopausal woman 2 - "Ooh there's nothing worse is there?"

Now, I'll admit that paper-cuts are not high on my list of things to inflict upon myself but there are plenty of worse things in this world.  I would start another rambling list to back this up but I'll leave it to you, dear reader to come up with your own thoughts on that one.

So remember people, before you use a phrase, give it some thought because - "at the end of the day" gets dark, and the shops shut.

Note: The author of this Blog does not hold copyright on the link used herein.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Binge Fringe Whinge

Alcohol is a wonderful thing right up until the point where it becomes horrendous.  From my experience there are 5 stages from wonderful to horrendous and there is a fine tipping point.

Stage 1: The first stage isn’t really a stage but a baseline of sobriety of which there are three states which can be summed up as follows:- “I love the world”, “I’m ambivalent towards the world” and “I hate the world”.

Stage 2: When you’re a couple of drinks in you’ve reached the perfect state.  You’re suddenly the wittiest person in the room with the comic timing of Eric Morecambe.  You exude self-confidence and your attractiveness to the opposite sex - or same sex depending on your inclination - is plain for all to see.  You sparkle in conversation and people hang on your every word. You consume your drink with an air of sophistication and the light catches your glass in such a way as to perfectly illuminate your beautiful features.  When you have arrived at stage 2 the world loves you.


Stage 3: This is the tipping point.  You’re now at the stage where your wit has turned to shit and you have the comic timing of Erich Honecker (look him up).  You now have so much self-confidence you’re happy to stand on a table and bellow out a tuneless rendition of ‘My Way’.  Your conversation is now mindless as you grab your best mate around the neck and bellow “I f*@king love you mate. It’s me and you against the world.”  You fire Jaeger Bombs down your throat at will and spill more of your pint – or whatever you’re attempting to drink - than you consume.  At stage 3 you want to either fight or shag the world.

Stage 4: At stage 4 inanimate objects move at will.  When you go to steady yourself hand-rails are suddenly not where they were and pavements come up to meet your face.  You turn your head and it takes a few seconds before your eyes catch up.  The self-confident Frank Sinatra impersonator from stage 3 is now a dribbling mess in the corner.  The quiet nightclub that you have magically found yourself in looks full to the brim as your eyes fill the gaps with blurry people.  You make an attempt at walking to the lavatory and even though you can see it, straight in front of you, your legs decide that they want to go sideways and take you through a table full of drinks.  You’re about to go home – stopping to buy and spill a kebab on the way – when you are approached by the largest ‘fugly’ you’ve ever seen.  This ‘fugly’ drags you onto the dance floor and grinds against you like an amorous hippo.  Tonight you will be shagging the world.  At stage 4 the bottom falls out of your world - or in some instances the world falls out of your bottom.  After loving you at stage 2 the world now hates you and you just want to throw up on it to teach it a lesson.

Stage 5: If you’re lucky (and probably under 30) you don’t suffer from hangovers.  If like me you are unlucky there can be times when the hangover kicks in before you’ve even stopped drinking.  And when I say hangover I don’t mean feeling a little tired with a delicate head and grumbly tummy, I mean full-on living death.  Moving is not an option, if you don’t want to turn yourself inside out and every sound reverberates through your head like someone dragging a concrete table across a marble floor.  If you manage to survive this the world then chucks in little memories of the night before, just to make you cringe with embarrassment.  This instils panic and the cold sweats kick in when you log in to Facebook to see a friend request from the major ‘fugly’ you hooked up with during Stage 4. You immediately ‘unfriend’ everyone, just in case they track you down through your friends list. You then sit yourself in the darkest corner you can find and suck your thumb, whimpering all the while.

But then the world teases you.  It gives you a bacon sandwich and suddenly a form of normality returns.  You may have made the decision to never, ever drink again but you can be comforted by the fact that you will always have bacon – I can’t comment on what vegetarians or other non-bacon eating persons use as a substitute but I can’t imagine it’s half as good.

The older you get the longer Stage 5 lasts but it never quite lasts so long as to stop you repeating the performance at the next available opportunity.

“But where is the ‘Binge’ in all this” I hear you scream. Well the ‘Binge’ drinker has a tendency of skipping Stage 2 and moves straight to Stage 3.  Armies of Jaeger Maestros stalk the pubs picking up stragglers on the way until the town centre is a mass of staggering men – stopping in the odd doorway to relieve themselves – and cackling women flashing their under-crackers to the bemused, spotty faced patrolling police officer, who joined the force to crack major drug cartels and investigate murders like on CSI.  And although ‘Binge’ drinkers tend to operate in large groups they never appear to look after their own.

When I was in my early twenties I had very long hair, as did all my ‘Rock God’  friends, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to assist one another by pulling their fringe out of the way while they barked into the big, white porcelain telephone.  Not only was this considered a kindly act for the poorly friend but it also meant that the taxi ride home wasn’t overpowered by the drifting aroma of vomit.

These acts of thoughtfulness never seem to enter the ‘Binge’ drinkers mind. If someone goes down it is considered collateral damage and they will forever be taunted as a ‘lightweight’ because they’ve only managed half a bottle of Vodka, six glasses of Blue Nun, eight Jaeger Bombs and a sneaky spliff.

Now, I am an ale drinker, the kind of drink that the ‘Binger’ wouldn’t even look at, and one of the joys of drinking ale is the names they give them – Pigswill, Fursty Ferret, Locky's Liquor Locker Liquor, to name but three – so what would be the ultimate way to curb binge drinking? Give a Real Ale the name ‘Binge’.  None of the Saturday night twatterati would ever want to be labelled a ‘Binge’ drinker if it meant they’d be mistakenly considered as a Real Ale enthusiast.

So let all good minded people out there join me in returning to the days where we get battered over a number of hours, not minutes and where it’s perfectly acceptable to go to the bar and order half a pint of coke and a packet of nuts (“For the missus, as she’s driving”).

Glossary of terms

‘Fugly’ –               Fat and Ugly or simply F*@king Ugly

‘Twatterati’ –     The thoroughly annoying gangs of Saturday night socialites (who magically morph into my friends once I’ve had a few)