Monday, 21 March 2011

The Dilemmas of Doors

Knock knock. Who's there?


Doors. We experience them every day, almost continuously as we navigate ourselves round this chaotic world. In truth, passing through a door is not particularly exciting, but certain door occurrences are noteworthy.

Being the polite, courteous and all round charming individual (in my humble opinion), walking through a door usually involves a quick glance behind to check there’s no-one else behind me who could benefit from this door remaining open. If they’re just steps behind me, then it’s fine. A second or two of waiting, a thank you nod from the recipient and life continues on as normal. Nevertheless, sometimes the situation isn’t quite as easy.

Every so often, there’s someone behind you, but at quite a distance and this throws up a moral dilemma. Do you wait for what seems like an eternity for them to hobble over, or do you just let the door shut on them? Waiting seems pointless at certain distances but somehow, the altruistic part of your brain takes over and you wait, holding open the door, lingering until they finally manage to cover the distance. If you’re on the receiving end of door related selflessness, you feel obliged to hurry up your pace, to reach the door before the unselfish Samaritan’s arm tires of holding up the door and begin to feel pain. Social obligations metaphorically begin to push you forwards, quickening your pace, sometimes all the way into a run. Isn’t it great when these social requirements help you exercise?

Another door related awkward moment occurs when you’re arriving at someone’s house and you go to ring the doorbell. You hear the muted sound of the shrill ringing from inside the house. You sense the ringing sound reverberating around the household, bouncing and reflecting off every surface, signalling to those within the house that someone is outside, waiting to come in. 

But some doorbells are designed by daft dunces, so that the main user of the doorbell cannot hear the sound. This leaves you standing outside, staring aimlessly at the door, waiting until you hear the sound of hurried footsteps. You stand gawping at the door, like you’ve become helplessly infatuated with its rectangular beauty and the intricate design of the knocker that you now realise you should have used. But knocking is out the question now the bell has been rung. You don’t want to seem impatient, like riot police trying to break it to seize the Class A drugs hidden inside transparent plastic bags (according to police shows, not personal experience).  So you just stand there waiting, until finally someone opens the door and the depressed waiting face transforms into one of happiness and joy and you step into the house, knowing the ordeal of door bell ringing is finally over.

Nothing in this world is simple, not even the supposed simplicity of passing through a door. And doors aren’t all bad, despite their minor annoyances. Without them, the world would never have had knock knock jokes? And what kind of world would that be?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Bothersome Birds

Panicked Pigeons

The early bird catches the worm, say some non-creative people who do not endeavour to create new phrases, but re-use the same old phrases over and over again, like school jumpers in a large family. These people are right in some respects, but haven’t considered whether worms prefer coming out of the ground in the evening. Birds are yet another source of bother in my short blip of existence in this world.  

Pigeons, for example, are a pain. They strut around cities, bobbing their heads like they’re secretly listening to heavy metal music on hidden Ipods. You have to watch your feet continuously in order to not step on them,  like a manic depressive, staring at your feet as if they were about to start radiating optimism. When you accidently step too near an overly sensitive pigeon, the feathered bundle panics and flaps with terrified speed, leaping into your personal space, causing you to perform a ninja style dodge to remain untouched by pigeons. Stupid little things.

Another avian annoyance is the morning chorus.  Whenever the hectic schedule of my life allows a gap whereby a lie-in is well deserved, I am usually woken early by several of these choir birds, chirping their hearts out in order to act as my unwanted alarm clock. The high pitched warbles and notes mean that sleep is no longer an option as their sounds crescendo throughout the morning. It’s like an alarm clock, in the shrillness of the sounds, which is precisely what I do not want during a lie-in.  I just wish that one day, the birds will find out about the concept of mime and gestures in order to communicate.

Then there are those suicidal birds, the ones that enjoy prancing around in the road before flying away at the last minute before they become another piece of road kill.  These kamikaze kestrels are just like those idiotic buffoons that step across the road just as a car is hurtling towards them, exploiting the driver’s desire not to hit anyone, forcing them to slow down just so they can get to their destination those few seconds faster. I don’t brake for birds; I know that they’ll jump out the way just in time, and not braking saves petrol in the long run. I’ve thought about attaching a stone to the front bumper of my car, hoping it will scare the birds, as in the famous clich├ęd phrase, ‘to kill two birds with one stone’.

I may mock the avian community, but there is one member who I really do like. The humble parrot, the bird who can answer back. The bird who sits triumphantly atop the shoulders of pirates. The bird of many colours. Maybe one day an equally awesome bird will emerge from evolution’s path. Although I should really be grateful for what I have now; as those non-creative people say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Fantastic Fridges

The White Box of Wonder

According to popular and delusional belief, in every home there is a magical white box, which makes items of the user’s desire appear upon command. Colloquially known as ‘the fridge’, this box is believed to be a place of magic. We check the fridge, in order to satisfy our hunger cravings, and find nothing new. But the story doesn’t end here.  We continually feel the need to check that our fridge hasn’t made new food items appear. We seem to believe that our fridges have the power to condense the kinetic energy of the gas molecules in the air inside into atoms that will collect together in large amounts to form edible items. We may all not believe that this exact scientific process happens, but we believe in the result. No matter how many times we fail at finding fridge food, our belief does not waver.

A great thing about fridges is the little light that the manufacturers install. Not only because it helps you to find various food items without resorting to a torch, but because it serves as a source of illumination for the whole kitchen when you can’t quite find the light switch. I’ve experienced many instances where my flapping hand can’t find the damned switch and I resort to the glow from the fridge in order to bring radiance into the room, so I can find the switch and successfully navigate the kitchen without tripping over something and falling into the cooker and baking myself at 280o C. But fridges aren’t always the supply of happiness they intend to be.

The fridge is the home of the humble milk, the liquid that nourishes our morning cereal, providing us with the necessary energy for the day. Yet this miraculous and modest fluid is also yet another source of food related irritation. Due to the bottle not being transparent, the total volume of milk contained within the carton is unclear, until picked up and poured out, usually resulting in the cereal being in the bowl, awaiting its milky shower, before the unpleasant truth is discovered that there’s not even enough milk to drown a fly. This has happened to me many a time, leading to me crunching my way through dried cereal, with all the taste of sawdust with the flavour removed. Alternatively, you could try soaking the cereal in water, although watching my friend battle through a bowl of Weetabix and water, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Despite this downside of the fridge, I’m not sure I could survive without it. Mainly due to the bacteria that would probably grow and kill me as I eat a snack, but also due to the fact that whenever life gets tough, I know that there is a white box that radiates light and happiness in the form of food. Three cheers for fridges! Hip hip hooray!