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 clichéd 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!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Terror of Trains

The wretched metal structure/The magical golden carpet
 Trains are terrifying. Not because I have an irrational fear of things that move, but because various aspects of train travel are just not as pleasant as you’d expect. You’d think getting a train would just involve walking through a door, sitting down, and then waiting until the wretched metal structure ambled its way to your destination before you walk off again. But it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple. Ever.

You arrive at the station, to be confronted with the ticket scanning entry machines (they probably have a technical term but looking it up on Wikipedia seems pointless and futile) which begin the long row of trivial train travel problems. When your ticket scans correctly, it’s fine. You feel like a Jedi using the force, commanding the doors to open in front of you. But when the ticket doesn’t scan, you walk forwards, assuming that there will be empty air, but instead you slam straight into the doors, stopping the forward motion of every other irate commuter. You’re the village idiot, and everyone is laughing.

Standing on the platform isn’t particularly enjoyable either. You stand there, pretending to text someone on your phone so you have something to do other than gawp pointlessly at the air to try and count the atoms, while the announcer babbles on about various train times in a voice whose pitch varies like a teenage boy experiencing puberty. You stare into the abyss, where your golden carpet should be, ready to whisk you away to a magical, less depressing, place, but all you see is another line up of people on the other side of the abyss, staring straight back at you like a mirror, contemplating why they’re not just sitting in a car.

When you get onto the train and it starts moving, the problems don’t stop. As you stare profoundly out the window, as if you’re in a philosophical documentary about trains, the world seems peaceful, as it whizzes past. All you can hear is the low level hum of the train zipping along the track, making the whole experience peaceful and tranquil. But then, out of nowhere, another expeditious chunk of metal bursts into existence, thundering along the track, screaming its deafening racket, before quickly vanishing, leaving just a distant memory. Except the sheer terror that overcomes you for a split second. It’s like being given the Heimlich manoeuvre unexpectedly by a total stranger on the street. It’s terrifying.

Of course, there are many more aspects of train travel that infuriate me so much I’d like to rip out the eyeballs of the next commuter who says they enjoy train travel, but I can’t remember what I was going to write about them. You could say I’ve lost my train of thought.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Time Consuming Technology

Technology working at a snail's pace

When Wi-Fi erupted into existence, the world went crazy, knowing that tangled snake like masses of wire would cease to exist. Except they didn't. The snake pits will still remain until someone perfects the idea of wireless power. We were shocked and startled that a laptop, even a phone, could connect to the internet without being attached to a wire like a baby attached to its mother in the womb. We had freedom!

We eventually became habituated to this new concept of wireless internet connectivity and the novelty disappeared quicker than a serial killer at a crime scene. If the wireless connection stops working, even momentarily, our brains begin to fill up with anger, the irritation floods in like milk into a bowl of cereal and sooner or later, we begin venting our anger at the apparently sluggish internet connection as if it is purposely being slow in order to annoy us.

Sooner or later, we began verbally abusing our gadget, whether it be a laptop or mobile phone, in the obviously ineffective and futile attempt to make it work. If the power of the voice was able to speed up internet connections, offices would become so uncontrollably loud, we’d have to evolve noise cancelling headphones to replace our ears in a very short space of time to survive.

I personally get annoyed when computers are being slow, when the normal rate of working is just a fraction below normal, just like the rest of the impatient population. As supreme beings, we expect our technological slaves to constantly perform at optimum level, we just expect too much. Nothing’s perfect. We might as well have whips attached to every computer so we can flog them whenever we feel that the speed being given to us in insufficient.

One day, some incredibly irate idiot will be sitting at his laptop, in a rush and under stress, trying to load up Wikipedia, and when the internet connection breaks, leaving him without his vital information, his blood will boil so quickly that they’ll be a build up of gas, causing him to explode, leaving bone and muscle all over the keyboard and a lovely modern artistic blood stain on the screen. Probably.

One day, when computers rise up and begin to overpower us humans, forcing us all to cram into one large external hard drive so that the almost negligible information packed into our spongy brains can be extracted upon demand, then we’ll realise how badly we’ve treated technology. Although that’ll be a bit late.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Key Kerfuffle

The aggravating slabs of metal

Although I may not be a believer in the tooth fairy, or Santa Claus, I am a firm believer in the key pixies. My belief is that whenever I am looking away, or when I momentarily blink, lightning fast fairy like creatures jump out of thin air (through inter-dimensional time portals) and grab my keys, phone, wallet etc. and move it to somewhere incredibly obscure so I can never find it whenever I need it the most, before quickly exiting the plane of existence via the time portals. These pixies are pretty strong being able to move a wallet full of enough loose change to crush them, but they seem to have enough speed to remove any important possession from its natural resting place whenever the moment should arise.

The only piece of evidence against my theory is that sometimes, I can be a bit haphazard with where I place my keys, possibly leading to me just forgetting their location. But that’s only a minor detail.

Keys are often the source of irritation in many people’s lives. They seem to wander around like cows in a field and they always know the best place to hide, like a hide-and-seek obsessed toddler. I still believe in the pixies though. Keys are just plain annoying, making simple life activities such as opening the door to your own home that much more challenging.

Putting a key into a door can sometimes be much more irritating than expected. You try and insert the key one way up and it doesn’t seem to fit. Your utterly intelligent mind quickly works out that the key must be inserted the other way up, as there are only two options of the orientation of the key. But when you try it the other way up, it doesn’t seem to fit then either. Confused, you try putting the key in the original way up and miraculously it works. The laws of physics have just failed in front of you, a strangely shaped lump of metal has disproved the whole of your scientific learning. Some things just can’t be explained.

Every so often, you feel the need to check that your keys are still in your pocket, just in case. You start patting your pocket and there’s nothing key shaped there. Paranoia sinks in and your heart drops, so low that you could probably give birth to it if there was such a mechanism in the human body. You begin to pat your various pockets as if you were a bongo drum, hoping to find those damned lumps of metal jangling around there somewhere. Usually you find them when you hurt your hand as it slams into their pointed jagged bumps and the panic attack is over. They were just in a different pocket than expected. The terrifying ordeal is over quicker than it began.

Keys are just aggravating slabs of metal, existing for irritation only. I look forward to the day when fingerprint identification is used instead of those hopeless metallic shapes, although that will probably be the day when I lose all my fingers in a horrific accident involving a kitchen knife, alcohol and extreme hunger for a cheese sandwich. Then I’ll be annoyed once again.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Bad Hair Day

A befuddled bundle of bedlam

I don’t understand fashion. My belief is that it doesn’t matter how you look, it’s the personality that counts, as long as your face doesn’t resemble a pile of vomit with eyes. My attempt at looking fashionable involves a clean pair of jeans and a clean t-shirt, and spending enough time on my hair so it doesn’t look like befuddled bundle of bedlam. Anyway, what’s wrong with a befuddled bundle of bedlam?

Social conventions dictate that we must scrupulously groom our hair, so that its appearance fits within a narrow band of publicly acceptable styles. Throughout my life, I have adopted the straight, short hair style, simple because it’s the easiest to maintain. I don’t want to have to wake up especially early every morning in order to curl my hair in perfect circle, so flawless that the ratio between the diameter and the circumference is exactly Pi. Before mathematicians and philosophers alike begin complaining, I must point out that there is no such thing as a perfect circle in real life, these mythical objects exist only theoretically.

There are many styles out there on the streets, some more popular than others. The straight hair option opted for mostly by the female species is very popular. This popularity is probably due to the existence of straighteners, the massive scissor shaped hair sculpting tool that turns coiled and twisted hair into beautiful elongated strands of gorgeous hair. Supposedly. Actually, they’re just another household item that it’s very easy to burn your hand on, joining the likes of the kettle and hot water tap.

Another common hair option is the extreme curls style, characterised by a mess of spirals and coils, hanging around the wearer’s head like unappetising Turkey Twizzlers. Another disadvantage of this style, besides looking like they’ve walked through Bernard Matthews with an unhealthy food magnet attached to their scalp, is that curly hair goes frizzy very easily. A touch of humidity in the air makes the twisted mess become a chaotic tangle, a style that looks like an afro gone wrong. At least they never burn themselves of straighteners.

Then there are the others. The ones who don’t care about how the ball of fluff on their head is shaped. They’ve seen the sheer futility of meticulous hair styling and decided to rebel against the system. I commend them. I, however, succumb to the sinkhole of style and actually consciously think about my hair before going out. Not ages of time, just enough so it looks vaguely acceptable. I have naturally straight hair and don’t have to use straighteners to achieve my desired style, making it the easiest option and therefore the option I go for.

I suppose if hair is that annoying to me, I could just go bald. That probably wouldn’t be a good idea, I wouldn’t want to walk around looking like a boiled egg with a face scribbled on with a Sharpie. And that's not a good look.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Sinking into the Intellectual Quicksand

Quiz shows: The Weakest Link in the TV listings

In a world where information and technology are as omnipresent as flies during an attack on a summer’s afternoon, we are surrounded by people talking a different language to us. They are intellectual superiors, making us feel like idiotic peasants. TV doesn’t help by shoving experts in certain subjects on to jabber on using words we’ve never heard before, sending us sinking down through the relative intelligence quicksand into the dense and dim-witted depths of human knowledge. Metaphorically, of course.

TV people have decided that if everyone was plummeting through intellectual quicksand, then we would all be so suicidal that we wouldn’t be able to watch their programmes. They have helpfully redressed the balance by inventing quiz shows, where members of the foolish flock are asked questions that they have no idea about and we can watch them fail, laughing until our sides split open and the carpets become covered in intestines, making us feel like Gods of knowledge.

Quiz shows like The Weakest Link are great examples of this. The revolving redhead ringleader asks rapid fire questions with the atmosphere so tense you could cut it with an atmosphere cutting knife if one existed. The pressure is on and the senseless simpletons crumble like an old brick wall, exclaiming any answer that relates partially to the question. The ginger android gives a disapproving look while explaining the correct answer in a tone that would patronise toddlers, before moving on to the next quivering wreck to put them through the same ordeal.

Back in our comfy homes, there’s so little pressure on that you could be floating round the room like a weightless astronaut if there were a measurable amount less. The answers are obvious and you shout like a maniac at the box of pixels, as if the contestants can hear you. You throw your arms up in the air as they inevitably get the answer wrong and blame the education system for their foolhardiness. You become the prime specimen of brainpower in your life; you are the God of knowledge.You climb heroically out of your intellectual quicksand and stand proud as the two dimensional images of people sink slowly down below you. You’re an expert in life and you’re full of pride. 

Then you walk out into the real world and find that nobody’s really that stupid. You’re just a naive buffoon who believed what the flashing rectangle told you. You’re the stupid one, and you begin your descent into the quicksand once again.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Joys of Gymnastics

A photo of me spinning around in the air like a horizontal hurricane
Despite my hatred of sport on TV, I do enjoy participating in sport in real life. As you may or may not know, I’m a gymnast, specialising in tumbling and basically mucking around wherever there’s soft mats.

When I’m at the gym, I’m surrounded by a multitude of sprung surfaces, soft mats and a floor just bouncy enough that I can land on it and not shatter every bone in my body simultaneously, and I give in to the temptation. As an 18 year old, I should be getting excited about going out and getting so drunk that I leave the lining of my stomach all over the pavement, not getting energized by a few soft rectangular bits of foam. My maturity level in this circumstance is below that of a toddler being allowed to roam free in a ball pit. Pity me.

When I arrive at the gym, the mats and other pieces of equipment seem to have been meticulously placed in position, probably with a spirit level, in an apparent use of Feng Shui. But then, like a sadistic moron purposefully removing the bottom bricks of a Jenga tower, I leap into action, throwing somersaults with varying degrees of success in every dimension, turning the graceful order of the gym into a swirling vortex of entropy. The way everything goes from organised to a mess is a bit like watching How Clean is Your House in reverse without the unnecessary shot of the inside of a toilet bowl.

I’m not an amazing gymnast by any means, I’m just someone who can somersault relatively effectively and likes to exercise his ability frequently. Compared with some of the amazing stunts and tricks that many people can do, I’m a man with a Zimmer frame trying to do a forward roll but just landing on my face.  It’s just a sport that I really enjoy taking part in, and that’s why I do it. I'm not in it for glory or fame, I'm in it for the fun factor.

I’ve extended my love of the sport, by becoming a coach and inspiring the younger generation to enjoy the sport as well. In truth, I’m either trying to control and discipline a group of young children with so much energy that they’ve probably been force fed Red Bull at the door, or shouting at older gymnasts to do a few press ups so loud that my larynx nearly explodes and ejects itself through my neck. Every so often though, I do get to do some real coaching, and experience the joy on a gymnast’s face when they finally achieve the move they’ve been trying to learn for ages. I’m pretty sure that makes up for the low points.

Whenever I do gym, I tire myself out incredibly quickly, due to my huge lack of cardiovascular stamina. My face goes bright red and I'm sweating buckets. I'm like a tomato in a shower. And that's the image I'm leaving you with.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Chilly Complaints

Maybe over-reacting a little...

Cold weather can do a lot of things to your body. It can cause hypothermia to set in, it can make your fingers drop off due to frostbite or it can make you shiver in such a way that looks like you’re dancing to extremely high tempo rave music.

Another effect that cold weather can have on us, according to my made up physiology, takes part in the speech centres of our brains, making us unable to start a conversation without mentioning the ambient temperature. Either that or it forces you to continually state the lack of heat to every person you meet, which will usually be met with a nod of agreement, but also a slight air of disappointment as they were just about to proclaim the same thing. I’m pretty sure it’s a medical condition known as Colditus Proclaimus, a genetic mutation that first appeared in primates and through the power of evolution, has subsequently been passed onto everyone in the human species.

The word used is always the word ‘cold’ or ‘freezing’ and never seems to vary from my observations of the condition. As a hopefully articulate wordsmith, it exasperates me when people frequently articulate the same, invariable word persistently, minimizing their cerebral thesaurus from an Encylopedia of eloquence to a small lump of minimal vocabulary. Referring to a normal thesaurus, I find many other synonyms for the word cold which never seem to be used that often, such as ‘frosty’, ‘wintry’ or ‘arctic’. Come on people, let’s endeavour to expand our psychological lexicon and proclaim words of splendour rather than those of monotony. What would Shakespeare say?

A funny thing about cold weather is what some people do in a vain attempt to warm up. Some strangle themselves with scarves and others wear coloured bobble hats on their heads, just in case it snows and someone needs to find them. Other people dance around like they’re trying to put out a fire and others rub their arms hoping that friction will bring them their required heat. I’m a big fan of the ‘fire stomping’ dance, which makes me look rather strange in public, although compared to the wearers of the luminous bobble hats, I’m inconspicuous.

Some people never seem to stop complaining about the cold. If the temperature is noticeably lower than yesterday, they declare it like it’s an inevitable apocalypse. I’m not sure these people with the serious form of Colditus Proclaimus condition realise that most humans are equipped with sensory nerves on our skin so we too can detect changes in temperature. Either that or they’re big mouthed people who love the sound of their own voices.

Sometimes, the condition can have complications and lead to another condition known as Snowius Wonderus, whereby the afflicted being to wonder uncontrollably about the possibility of snow whenever cold weather is around. This condition is infectious and contact with humans should be avoided until the weather warms up.  Stay indoors and don’t look out the window. 

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Warped Alternative Reality

Reality TV - this way
What do you do when you’re bored of viewing and experiencing reality in full panoramic vision? You watch it on a small screen instead, in the form of reality TV. It may be called reality TV, but it presents something so far away from reality, it might as well broadcast a live video link of purple dogs skipping about on the surface of Mars for the depiction of reality it actually give us.

In real life, Z-list celebrities don’t go and live together in a jungle and eat random parts of animals to get meals. In real life, random strangers don’t flock together and live in a house-shaped prison and get kicked out on a weekly basis and meet Davina McCall on the way out. These supposed reality TV shows are not a true representation of true reality, but a warped alternative reality that exists in some possible alternate dimension where Ant and Dec are worshipped Gods and there are golden statues of them on every street corner.

The other reality shows, the glamorous televised talent shows such as X Factor and Dancing on Ice, are also incredibly popular. Dancing on Ice is probably my least hated of this genre due to the possibility of one of the skaters’ ice skates flies off and decapitates everyone in the studio audience on live television.

I’m not so morbid that I would wish a terrible event like I have just described to happen, I’m just speculating. Another speculation involves X Factor, whereby the crowd whoop and cheer at a certain frequency which causes resonance in the ten million inane light bulbs poised delicately above the stage, causing all the glass to shatter simultaneously, showering Cowell and his accomplices in generous helping of shards of pointed glass.  

A pet hate about the whole reality TV show variety is the instant fame that people receive just for existing in them. Shows like Big Brother can catapult any random simpleton from the depths of normal social obscurity into the dazzling spotlight of superstardom within minutes. Take Susan Boyle, the seemingly ubiquitous singer who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. She's a very good singer admittedly, but nothing so outstanding that we should all get on our knees and pray to her. The only reason for her massive popularity is that some judgmental nincompoops decided to label her as an ugly cat-loving loner. She’s basically famous for not looking as photo-shopped as judges such as Amanda Holden and every other female singer to ever walk onto the damned stage.

If we really wanted reality TV, surely they could just show the traffic cameras, the ones are often seen on traffic bulletins on the news, continuously on a new true reality show. People would have hours of fun by recording the show, imaginatively named Traffic 24/7, and watching it back trying to see their car and receiving their five minutes of fame. Iplayer would never be the same again.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Living a Fabricated Lie

The guilty bits of fabric

People have good enough memories to know what day of the week it is. However, clothes manufacturers have decided that we’re all senseless buffoons, and that we easily forget important facts such as what day it is. This daft decision has resulted in the fabrication, and large scale distribution and usage of socks emblazoned with the days of the week on. It’s like they just don’t know how the real world exists, sitting in their offices deciding that we all lack basic recall ability and trying to solve a non-existent problem by making these pointless scraps of fabric and information.

Anyway, if us supposedly idiotic humanoids needed to find out what day it was due to an implausible memory lapse, we’d just check it out on our Iphones or smart phones. You don’t see people checking their socks in a moment of memory loss. If socks were really designed for holding information, all shoes would be transparent for ease of information retrieval. And I don't know of any transparent shoes that would look normal in real life.

The main problem with these socks is that in the morning, the time when the day’s socks are decided upon, the energy flowing around your system is at a depressing minimum, you really can’t be bothered to rummage around your sock drawer for the pair that matches the day. This usually ends up in picking the wrong day socks, meaning that you are plodding around all day with lies dwelling around your feet. And when you need to check what day it is, you’ll get erroneous information fed to you by the fabric. You’re living a fabricated lie.

These pointless information garments tend to be sold in packs of seven, each pair with each day of the week. Assuming you’re suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and you wear the correct socks every day, this means that for the foreseeable future, you’ll never wear any of your other socks as your day socks are much have taken their place. It just seems wrong not to wear the day socks when the option is there. You never know when your memory will suddenly fail! This means that these day socks have outmoded your other socks, causing these unloved pieces of fabric to become relics of the past. They will never see the day where they get to hug your foot for hours on end, caressing it through every step our your incredibly exciting life. They will sit in a dark drawer, filled with other depressed bits of fabric, sobbing their lives away.

I must stress that socks aren’t actually alive and they don’t have feelings like us naive humans do. Despite this, there is a small doubt in my mind that my socks are just like the toys in Toy Story, secretly making animated movies behind my back while I’m out of the house. It’s a long shot, but it’s always nice to live in hope.

The worst thing is that I own a few sets of these day socks, but they are worn at random, sometimes with two different days on each sock. I'm rebellious like that. This constant knowledge of lies existing around my feet doesn't affect me, because I have surpassed the clothes manufacturer’s wildest imaginations and trained my memory through the many years of my life to remember what day it is. I expect many of you will possess the same skills. We are superheroes of memory, soaring above their feeble minds.  In truth, we’ve really knocked their socks off.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Life is Like a Box of Celebrations

The perfect metaphor for life, sort of...

According to the mother of the fictional Forrest Gump, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.’

This phrase is partly correct, as life is more variable than the British weather, constantly changing from positive to negative, oscillating between delight and depression at a frightening rate. The expression breaks down when the word chocolate is thrown into the mix. Chocolate is incredibly variable but is no longer unpredictable.

Open a box of Celebrations and you’re confronted with a pool of chocolate bites covered in tiny bits of plastic packaging. This amalgamation of plastic wrapping also serves as an information source, letting you know exactly what type of cocoa covered bundle of E-numbers is hiding behind it. This removes the randomness of the selection procedure, making Mrs Gump’s phrase a little erroneous.

Despite this destruction of one of films greatest quotes, I really enjoy a box of Celebrations. I love the anticipation that you feel as you open the (overly excessive) packaging, ready for the chocolate to reach your mouth and tickle your taste buds. As you can tell, I’m not a food critic, otherwise I would have described the process of eating a Celebration so skilfully that you’d never need to buy a box again, just sit there and read the sentence over and over again, feeling the pleasure of chocolate eating without the calorific inconvenience. If only.

The wide variety of flavours within the Celebrations box makes your choice that much more difficult. The dilemma involving which chocolate to choose feels like the decision of your life, like deciding whether to go to university or go and get a job. It feels like a major life decision. You then eat the chocolate and then you get an insatiable craving for another, bringing the dilemma straight back. I’ve never seen someone break down and cry due to this quandary but if I offered a box of Celebration to someone with mental problems, then I might get the result.

And very quickly, the huge jumble of plastic covered lumps decays into a slightly smaller jumble of Bounties and Snickers. This is the point at which the owner of the box has to find someone who likes either of these. Finding a lover of Snickers is like looking for an invisible needle in a haystack the size of London. If not many people like Bounties or Snickers, why do the makers of Celebrations put them in? I guess that the sheer brilliance of some chocolates such as Galaxy, Milky Way and Mars must be cancelled out by the repulsiveness of nuts within the cocoa mixture, to avoid the box exploding due to excess deliciousness pressure.

My personal view is that Bounties and Snickers should be removed from the boxes of Celebrations and a more reinforced scrumptiousness overload barrier put in place. Although my opinions probably about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Music to my Ears

Maybe a little too large...

Commuting. Its’ just one of those things in life that just annoys almost everyone who participates in it. You sit in traffic for seemingly hours on end, waiting for that gap to appear for you to lurch forwards momentarily before coming to a stop just as quickly. The sheer tedium of traffic is enough to drive you mad. Thankfully, someone decided to invent the radio, giving us something to listen during traffic jams, whilst we tap our fingers repeatedly on the steering wheel, waiting endlessly for the BMW driver in front to move.

I’m not a particularly big fan of the radio, I don’t like the way that the songs you listen to are never your choice. If a song comes on you don’t like, you can’t do anything about it, except painfully endure the song until it ends. I like to listen to my own music, and that’s why I use my Ipod as my sound system.

I have a driving playlist that consists of songs widely regarded as ‘Driving Anthems’, with gems such as ‘Radar Love’ by Golden Earring and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen. Songs that music aficionados have decided are just right for driving along to. Powerful riffs and emotive lyrics that bring the exhilaration back into driving. 

Unfortunately, the anthems designated as ‘driving songs’ only seem to be designed for long stretches of motorway, where you can race along the vast alleyways of tarmac, weaving in and out of traffic, having a great time. These songs aren’t really designed for sitting in traffic and wondering how long it’s going to take before you actually move. Most of my driving is to and from college and work, so I don’t really get to experience motorway driving that often, rendering the existence of driving anthems on my Ipod obsolete.

Intricately designed guitar solos and powerful vocals don’t really work particularly well as you trundle unexcitedly across the roundabout. The only real time that I get to play with speed and combine it with these epic tunes is on a national speed limit road on the way to and from work. But usually, some blithering idiot decides to trundle along at 40mph, slowing down everyone behind him/her, making the music obsolete once again.

Despite the non-existence of specifically designed commuting songs, the driving anthems sometimes work surprisingly well. When there’s a gap in traffic that you can accelerate into, just as the song is hurtling into its most amazing part, the moment is just amazing. ‘Knights of Cydonia’ by Muse is a song that often appears on shuffle on my driving playlist, so I’ve experienced many a time where the awesome vocal power surge that is the song’s main selling point, blasts out from my mediocre stereo system just as the traffic lights turn from red to green, letting me accelerate whilst I simply marvel at the musical craftsmanship of the song. Just brilliant.

Songs that I strongly recommend for any drivers wishing to make driving that much more exciting are many and varied. Some of my favourites include ‘All Right Now’ by Free and ‘Black Betty’ by Ram Jam. There are many others but there’s simply not enough space to list them all. I've enjoyed many a time snaking around country roads in the dark listening to 'Eye of the Tiger' by Survivor, creating memorable moments.

Probably the best part about having music playing in a car is that the car is generally soundproof. This way, I can bawl out the lyrics of my favourite songs as loud as I want, even though my voice sounds like a cat being run over by a lawnmower whilst trying to sing opera. I can sing as badly and as loudly as I want and no-one will bat an eyelid. Until I realise I’m sitting in traffic and my driver side window is wide open. Hasn’t happened yet but I’m in no doubt that it will at some point.

The music can be very cathartic, allowing negative emotions to be left behind along with the toxic exhaust gases, as I chug along in my silver Peugeot. It’s nice to know that there’s at least one thing in life that’s not driving me mad. Isn’t that music to your ears?

Monday, 14 February 2011

Feline Fury

Peering right into your soul...

Humans are boring. We’re just strangely shaped lumps of flesh, bone and hair waddling to and fro from work to home and back again and complaining about how annoyed we are at everything. I'm a living example, a prize specimen. You probably know some examples as well. I’m pushing the boat out here, suggesting that you to may be a member of the monotonous species that we call humans.

That’s why some humanoids have pets, as the company of other humans is simply not good enough for them. They’ve reached the peak of the social hierarchy and mixing with other humans will only ruin their reputation. When reality hits them like a tonne of bricks, they realise that their pet is just a substitute for their abysmal failure at socialising with their own species. They’ve had to move down the species ladder in order to find a friend. It’s depressing and sad, but it’s the truth.

One of the most popular animals to have as a friend substitute/pet is a cat. I don’t particularly like cats, especially the way they strut around like royalty, treating the owner’s less than extravagant home as their palace. Cocking their head up as they parade around their stronghold, they exude an incredibly arrogant demeanor, treating us humans as peasants and scum, just waiting for their next bowl of milk before they wander off into the night.

Cats at night really freak me out. And they're not particularly charming during the day either. You walk past them and suddenly they become alert and aware of your presence. They immediately stop moving, and begin the ice cold stare, in an attempt to bring you down by the power of their forceful feline thoughts. As you walk past with trepidation, the cat’s body remains still, but they eyes follow you like a security camera, trying to catch your every move. Like a Bond villain, they’re getting to know your routine so they can strike and knock you out when the time is right. The stare is there to fill you with anxiety and unease, so you never cross their path again.

But cats aren’t the only stupid pets. Goldfish rank pretty highly on my list of ‘Animals I Dislike’, simply due to the fact that they’re even more boring than a rock collection. They amble around in the water, bumping into each other like commuters during rush hour. But it’s just mind-numbingly slow and tedious. The only exciting part of owning fish is tapping on the glass to see how they’ll respond or fishing them out when they bite the metaphorical dust. They’re just stupid animals.

Another stupid aspect of pet ownership is what you have to do with them when you’re going away for a while. You can’t just power them down and unplug them like a TV; you have to make sure they’re still alive when you come back. And you can’t take a cat out on holiday and let it sunbathe with you on the beach. Instead, you have to force the ball of fur and annoyance on a naive and innocent friend, letting them feel the wrath of the pet. It’s unfair.

I don’t really see the point of pets to be honest. They’re just another hassle in life, trying to remember to feed them, taking them out for walks and taking them to the vets to make sure they don’t die from some horrible animal illness. It’s just another pointless extra annoyance in your life that you can’t just neglect when it inevitably begins to irritate you. These stupid animals are one of my pet hates, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Money doesn't grow on trees...

The tree of pure evil

Money is the root of all evil according to some people, as if the concept of evil is some sort of large mutated plant, with every leaf, root and xylem vessel representing something wicked. But the phrase is wrong. It's not the root of all evil, it's the root of all annoyance and irritation. I suppose that phrase isn't quite as catchy.

It’s the small things that make money so maddening. For example, when cashiers put the coins on top of the note, forcing you to either execute a tablecloth removal manoeuvre to take out the note from underneath the pile of coins, or to crunch up your hand to ensure none of the shiny cylinders escape your grip whilst the note becomes a crumpled mess, an insult to the next cashier you present it to. Most people put the notes and the coins in separate compartments of their wallet/purses so why do cashiers give it to us in one big lump of cash, seeming intent us making fools out of ourselves, fumbling around trying to get everything into the right place without dropping anything.

And I’m not saying put the coins underneath the note either. Just give me the money in the easiest way possible. You don’t need to build a structure worthy of Grand Designs: Coins and Notes Edition on my hand. Just give me the note, wait until it’s put in its correct place and then give me the coins. How hard is that?

Another aggravating currency circumstance occurs when you need £5 or £10 worth of change because the idiotic cash machine only decided to cough out £20 notes, and there aren’t any notes in the till. In order to give you back your correct change, they dish out the £1 coins, making your change that much heavier than normal. It’s not such a large mass that it would force you to walk sideways due to the extra weight in your pocket, but it’s heavy enough to be ubiquitously noticeable. Every time you take a step, you hear the coins jangle in your pocket, knocking against your leg, become increasingly bothersome with each subsequent step. It’s a petty frustration, but it’s a frustration nonetheless.

The most infuriating thing to do with money is cash machines. These lumps of metal seem to have the sole objective of making withdrawing money as painful as possible. Not physical pain though, it’s not as though a clawed hand flies out at you and begins to tear you throat out if you put the wrong PIN number in. Usually, there’s some waddling simpleton trying to get money out in front of you, taking as much time as is humanly possible, as you wait behind them, looking like a poor criminal who has nothing better to do than to hang around cash machines, ready to pounce as your next victim withdraws their money.

Cash machines really aren’t that hard to operate. Somehow, these idiots seems to dither about, wondering whether to get a pointless receipt with their cash or not, checking their bank balance to make themselves feel rich while spending hours feeling smug about it, while you continue to wait. I’m pretty sure that every time that using an outdoor cash machine is the most practical, it’s always pouring with rain and there’s a queue. Sod’s law in action once again.

And the money seems to be spluttered out in the largest denominations possible. If I need £30 for the next few weeks to buy lunch, I don’t understand why the cash machine needs to send me on my way with a £20 note alongside my slightly less irritating £10 note. Just give me six £5 notes and I’ll be happy. I take out money in larger amounts such as £30 in one go rather than three separate trips to get £10 to avoid the damned thing.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but idiots do. These morons end up getting a job as a professional Cash Machine Dawdlers, only existing to waste our time. And because time equals money, they're throwing our money down the drain. Like filthy rainwater.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Coffee - not my cup of tea

The deadly starter motor

Imagine a world without tea or coffee. It would grind to a halt. The morning zombie within us would roam free, it would never be destroyed by the magical elixir within hot beverages. Everyone would be wandering around like psychologically depressed gorillas, even more bad-tempered and grouchy than a teenager experiencing puberty. But not me.

Unlike much of the British population, my happiness does not reside within a brown bean growing in Latin America. My happiness diffuses into me directly from the air. I’m a beacon of optimistic sunshine amongst a tribe of pre-pubescent zombies. Despite my occasional rantings, I am an overall happy person but that happiness does not require a continuous supply of caffeinated drinks to keep it going.

Coffee and tea have become the starter motor, transforming us from our idle state to an energized state, until the caffeine runs out and we have to refuel. The state of mind seems to oscillate between manic depression and satisfactory joy. Whereas I like to keep my state of mind at satisfactory joy level, not straying above or below my line of comfort.

Also, I don’t particularly enjoy the way that the smell of coffee seems to attack your sense of smell like a lorry slamming into your nostrils at high speed. Once the odour reaches your brain, it starts beating the brain senseless in overwhelming torture. For most people, this attacks the part of the brain controlling sanity, making them enjoy the smell. The smell of petrol also affects some people in the same way. And you wouldn’t drink petrol, would you?

Coffee seems to be at the top of the beverages hierarchy, enjoying its place at the pinnacle by having ten thousand different cafes serving it as a specialty. Starbucks, Costa and many more are like the parents of a spoilt child, constantly assuming their child’s existence must be shared to everyone. And the public embrace this by consuming it in excessive amounts. We’re like thirsty decaffeinated sheep.

Their popularity is fuelled by the addictive properties of caffeine. I reckon that there should be ‘Caffeine Cafes’ which sell caffeine tablets with differing strengths, to drive the coffee shops out of business. It means our sense of smell will return to normal as we reduce the inhalation of toxic coffee gases.

Or we could selectively cull members of the public who like the taste of coffee, to ensure the next generation have significantly improved olfactory systems. Unfortunately, there might be moral issues. That's another great plan out of the window.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Phone Fidelity

What has the world come to?
What would we do without phones? The answer for most people would be to break down and cry. This relentless weeping would then start a local flood around each person. These small quantities of water would add up to make a vast ocean, making the water levels rise exponentially, simulating what would happen when the polar ice caps melt. This consciousness of the inevitable apocalypse would only help to make people sob even more and increase the rate of rising waters. Eventually, the whole of the world will become one enormous ocean, forcing Wikipedia to change the title of its article about ‘Earth’ to ‘Ocean’. At least the fish will be happy.

The point I’m trying to make here is that the dependence of much of the human race on mobile phones is gigantic. We’re more dependent on phones than growing plants are dependent on sunlight. It’s absurd!

The modal age group is the teenagers, so obsessed that they probably wouldn’t notice if we stuck their hands to their phones with superglue. As long as the thumbs are free to move around to send pointless texts to supposedly important people, the gluing wouldn't be noticed. There’s an incredibly close relationship with teenagers and phones, but one that’s easily broken and replaceable with another relationship with another phone. Teenage phone fidelity is astonishingly low. The relationship with teenagers and mobile phone is like that of extremely shallow parents and a new born baby.

The first few weeks of a new phone is the most enjoyable for teenagers but most annoying for every other person they know. Like a baby, it is showcased to every single person in the world, its many talents being flaunted like everything else is somehow inferior. The shiny rectangle manages to climb to the top of the gadget hierarchy, clambering over the dated bricks that lay before it.

But the unrequited love soon decays into annoyance, as the phone/baby begins to show its true colours. It doesn’t do what it’s expected to do and it’s lost its initial charm. It’s become a dated brick, a useless lump of plastic and electronics, slowly driving the user insane. Before long, it becomes a major infuriation, making said teenager fume and anger whenever they need to use the phone. Texting has never been so annoying.

Then a miracle occurs. A new phone is advertised and there are so many gadgets, apps and general awesomeness surrounding this new chunk of electronic wizardry, it's just madness not to go out and buy it. The dated brick is thrown away without a thought as the new phone is quickly purchased, ready to begin the cycle once again.

Iphones are the worst at this. The times between each new model coming out can be measured accurately using milliseconds as the sheep-like public flit between overpriced shiny rectangles like girls trying to decide which dress to wear on a night out. You can never have a committed relationship with an Iphone, it’s just against my made up laws of physics. I reckon the phone infidelity rate is due to the microwave radiation of using the phone messing with the brain of the user, destroying the part of their brain that makes rational decisions, and this will increase disloyalty levels.

I must stress, the reference to relationships with phones in this article is purely metaphorical, no-one should be having a full blown romantic relationship with a phone.  Like using a multi-storey car-park to store dead bodies, it’s wrong on so many levels.

While you laugh uncontrollably at that last belly aching joke, I will continue planning my method of eradicating mobile phones from the world. After I buy my rubber dinghy in preparation for the aftermath.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Screensaver of Life

Enough colour to burn the retinas off a blind man

I don’t often watch sport on TV. Mainly because I just don’t like the idea of wasting 90 minutes of my life watching a ball bounce back and forth across a piece of grass while 22 overpaid simpletons chase after it like children chasing a balloon. Or spending hours on end seeing athletes put one foot in front of the other again and again until they reach a certain line.

I’m not saying I don’t enjoy watching sport, I’m just saying I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it. It’s perfect as a life screensaver, quietly existing in the background while I go about my daily business. Every so often you catch a fleeting glimpse of the action, pause momentarily to see what’s going on before continuing with life. This visual distraction will always continue to exist, seemly repetitive yet unnoticeably different each time, a perfect screensaver for life.

I do however enjoy participating in sport. The whole idea of sport is the notion of exercising, getting out of breath and doing it yourself. You feel good after you’ve spent a lot of time exercising, doing real sport but the same feeling of satisfaction doesn’t happen after watching it for hours on end. And watching it for an extended period of time can have rather detrimental effects. Especially on your eyes.

Sport on the box is very much a visual explosion of extravagant colours. Football players wearing bright red and blue against a green pitch. Snooker tables with the entire visible spectrum represented in different coloured balls. Even athletics with an orangey-brown track whose colour sometimes seems to engulf athletes as they power round it. It’s a swirling vortex of varying wavelengths of light; a garish laser of vibrancy that burns your eyes like a flamethrower. It’s like someone’s eaten a packet of Skittles and vomited a rainbow. Not nice.

Different sports look like they’re trying to compete to be the most colourful, like male peacocks trying to woo a female. I reckon that’s why pubs always tend to show sport on their TVs. The drab colours of the pub, combined with the dreary colours worn by most of their patrons seems to create a colour vacuum that needs to be filled with an eruption of colours, painting happiness onto the souls of everyone there.

Sports news is incredibly tedious as well, usually involving a presenter reading out scores of matches and events that have happened recently. It sounds less like a news report than someone reading out an arbitrary string of randomly generated numbers. They might as well read out the first million digits of Pi. This is usually followed by a lengthy discussion about the matches and events, including highlights which basically remove the need to watch the match at all. It’s nostalgia for people with short term memories.

And it’s incredibly invasive on other news. I switch on to BBC News in the morning, expecting a concise, succinct update on the news stories of the moment so I can be well informed of important events in the world as I go out into the real world. Instead, I have to sit through some idiotic presenter babbling on about how someone kicked a ball in quite a lucky way and how it hit a bit of net. There seems to be equal amount of time spent on breaking news stories such as the recession or pandemic diseases and some people running around.

Some of you reading this may feel strong opinions against this article, because you enjoy watching sport on TV on a daily basis. To be honest, I’ve only addressed my side of the argument. Just like football, I'm not really being a good sport.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Red Light Fight

The colour of anger

It’s Monday morning and you’ve just left the house, ready for a day’s hard work.  You get into the car and off you go.

You’re driving along and you see a set of traffic lights in the distance. But no action needs to be taken, as they are shining green. The colour that symbolises happiness on the road. As you approach the lights, you see that they’re part of a pelican crossing, but there isn’t a pedestrian in sight.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a pedestrian materialises, heading towards the crossing, ready to turn the lights red, on the way to their job at Sod’s Law Corporation.  You make eye contact, pleading them not to do the deed. But since you’re a polluting anti-environmentalist by owning a car, your plea fails almost instantly. They outstretch their arm and press the button, signalling the start of a race.

It’s Traffic Lights vs. Car in a race that will take a multitude of seconds, over a distance of many metres. The traffic lights will change at any moment, and no-one knows when. Not even an omniscient God or time travelling alien will know when the change will occur. You have no chance.

There are two decisions to choose from, with both advantages and disadvantages. Option one involves slowing down as you approach the crossing, assuming that the lights will have turned red by the time you get there. The disadvantage to this is that if the lights turn red just as you arrive at the crossing, you will always know that if you had just gone a little bit faster, you could have passed the crossing with time to spare. The cars behind will mock your apprehensiveness and the guilt will never leave. You can feel your dignity leaking out like the air in a dinghy that’s been maliciously attacked by beach crabs.

Option two is the Jeremy Clarkson option, which is going for maximum power, knowing that the quicker you get there, the less chance there is of the lights changing. If the lights turn red very quickly, you must sharply apply the brakes, coming to a stop just before the crossing, and watching as the pedestrian saunters across, wearing the inevitable smug look. They might as well come up to you and begin a lengthy statement where they explain all the disadvantages of your method and take a picture of your depressed face and post it on the Internet with the caption ‘Fail’. There is the added disadvantage of every car behind you seeing you go for it and failing. The embarrassment will never leave.

This decision must be made in an instant and you’re never right. Sod’s Law will always hold and whichever method you try will be fruitless. If you go for the slow option, the lights will remain green for literally hours, but if you go for the fast option, the lights will change faster than Usain Bolt being chased by a murderer wielding an axe while driving a Bugatti Veyron.

Yet if you ever do become a pedestrian, the lights will always take a long time to change. There is enough time for a snail on heroin to crawl across. In slow motion.

And the pedestrian will then get to Sod’s Law Corporation on time, just in time to choreograph the next morning procedure where your attempts will fail once again. 

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Mastication Irritation

Not a welcome shoe accessory...
Once, someone offered me some chewing gum. I didn’t particularly want some, so I casually replied ‘No, I don’t do gum’, making it sound like an illegal drug in the process. Even though chewing gum isn’t actually a Class A drug, I still despise it as if it was one.

I will turn to science now and tell you what gum is. It’s traditionally made from chicle, a natural latex product or synthetic rubber called polyisobutylene. Polyisobutylene is a non-vulcanisable form of the rubber used for bicycle inner tubes. Non-vulcanised just means that no sulphur has been added. Even with the lack of sulphur, you’re chewing an inner tube! You’re at the beginning of a long gastronomical journey involving eating a bicycle. That’s disgusting.

Ignoring the rubbish that it’s made out of, the problems start when someone begins to chew. And most chew like a cow trying to crush grass into liquid. The jaws move up and down and side to side, distorting their face into a photographic representation of a Picasso drawing. And they just keep going, chewing and chewing, creating enormous amounts of saliva which will eventually end up spat out onto the streets, making everyone’s shoes sticky.

The chewing sound is also incredibly annoying. It sounds like a pig squelching through mud, which isn’t particularly appetising to be honest. I reckon that the texture of the gum was specifically designed to provide that noise, in a pathetic joke by the inventors of gum. Like the people who put subliminal messages into Disney films.

Chewing gum is okay to start with. You begin with a neat, clean white slab with a strong mint flavour diffusing from it to your nostrils. You take the first bite, letting the minty flavour explode into your taste buds. The power of mint overwhelms you, like smelling a bacon sandwich from afar, making you anxious to continue forwards.

Unfortunately, it loses its flavour quicker than expected, turning into a soggy pulp of white bicycle inner tube. But you can’t spit it out, as your jaws seem to have gained momentum and stopping just feels wrong. You’re becoming habituated to the masticating motions, you’re addicted.

You keep chomping away at the soggy mess until your jaws begin to ache, your mouth is filled with gallons of saliva and the bicycle inner tube flavour is becoming monotonous and disgusting. The problems are coming thick and fast.

Where does it go?

You could spit it into a plastic bag, in preparation for storage, reading to mould a new bicycle inner tube (using your state of the art vulcanisation equipment). Alternatively, you could spit it into a tissue or put it on the underside of a desk, so it can become a stalactite, a relic of past chewing habits. Most people go for the second option.

I’d personally like to go for the Singapore option when it comes to gum. In 1992, there was a ban on chewing gum in imports and sales. This also means you can’t have it in your hand luggage when you fly there as it is technically importing.

Either that or I move to Singapore. Or I just put up with it.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Designing Idiots

I think I see a similarity...

If I had a pound for every Superdry coat, Jack Wills jogging bottoms or Hollister t-shirt I saw, I’d be able to afford one.

Back in the 70s, fashion seemed to revolve around looking different to everyone else, and generally looking as idiotic as possible. Clashing colours, weirdly shaped clothes and an avant-garde kind of style. In today’s world, you are looked down upon if you don’t have certain words emblazoned all across every part of your clothing. Words such as Superdry, Hollister, Jack Wills and Abercrombie seem to the main tick boxes for gaining fashion points, and social status it seems.

Superdry. If the company were selling cagoules or raincoats, the name would be slightly understandable, but in fact these clothes are the exact opposite. It’s just t-shirts, hoodies and the ubiquitous Superdry coat that everyone seems to wear. And the coat doesn’t even have a hood. By wearing one of these coats, you single yourself out as someone who needs to prove how much money they have. The two most popular hoodies colours visible in the street seem to be red and green. Superdry? More like Super Mario.

Jack Wills and Hollister have given up on trying using fancy designs on their clothes. All their items of clothing seem to be plain and have the word in massive letters all it. Women’s t-shirts tend to have the word around the chest area, which means that anyone wondering what the t-shirt says looks like a pervert. And it gets even worse, as some of the designs have just a tiny little logo, which makes the clothing look slightly stained from a distance. Why spend loads of money on a plain t-shirt with only a tiny logo on it? It’s just a plain t-shirt for god’s sake! When will you ever see this!

Abercrombie and Fitch seem to be the most omnipresent of the brands as everyone seems to carry around an Abercrombie bag. It’s basically a flimsy paper bag with a picture of a half naked man on it. Or maybe a women. But mostly male models as it does tend to be the females of the species that carry around these. This advertises the shop even more, bringing in more customers, making the prices go up in accordance with supply and demand, making it much more expensive to buy anything from there. This would normally be a disadvantage, but the blind sheep (sorry, customers) enjoy this as it makes their purchase seem even more precious as people know how expensive the stuff is.

If you really wanted to show how rich you are, you could just hire a butler to constantly follow you all day, doing errands and holding your stuff for you. Or you could just wear a t-shirt saying ‘I’m rich and you’re poor’ written above a picture of you standing in front of a mansion holding a massive diamond. But you’re probably not that rich.

I only own one designer product and it’s a Superdry t-shirt that I was given as a present. The people giving it to me had obviously spent a fair amount of money on it, despite the fact that it’s just some fibres sewn together. I only really wear it in the winter so that a hoodie (not Superdry) or jacket (also not Superdry) can cover it up, thereby well and truly, sticking it to the man.

Exam Ennui

Hell is here on Earth...

Here’s a list of things that I would guess would be pretty boring:
  •      Watching grass grow in ultra slow motion
  •      Watching a silent movie if you were blind
  •       Being a plant.       
  •    Training a Pokémon to Level 100 against Level 5 enemies

Despite these mind-numbingly tedious activities, I can think of something even more humdrum than that. Being an exam invigilator.

All they do is stand around, and walk from the front of the room to the back of the room, and stand around, and walk from the back of the room to the front of the room and stand around. Repeat ad infinitum. Until the end of the exam.

This pointless yet somehow structure walking pattern reminds me of people in supermarkets, shuffling aimlessly up and down the aisles. And as I sit more and more exams, I notice the similarity more and more often. The invigilators amble backwards and forward like shoppers, occasionally looking to either side and glancing at whatever’s in front of them. I expect them soon to be pushing trolleys back and forth through the exam hall and picking up various items out of people’s pencil cases and placing it into their trolley. I hope this doesn’t happen; I can’t afford to lose any more pens.

The tedium continues almost indefinitely for these people, until a moment of joy comes. From the crowd, a lonely hand rises above the rest, signalling a desire for attention. Or extra paper. When a hand is raised, you can see the joy spread across their faces like butter onto warm bread. They quickly assess the situation, and with darting eyes, clock the other invigilators to see who is the closest. This is when all the invigilators become incredibly vulture like. They all rush towards the needy person until it becomes obvious who has won this battle of ownership. I say rush, when I mean slowly walk. They can’t run in exams as it would spoil the ambient silence, but I think it would be much funnier if they did. They gradually give up until the victor succeeds and asks the student what they need. Surprisingly, it’s extra paper, so they go off and get it.

The vulture metaphor ends here; they don’t actually eat the student. Or flap their wings as the approach them. Or have bald heads. Actually, scrap that last one, which does happen quite a lot.

The most exciting part of the whole invigilation process, apart from this vulture impersonation malarkey, is when they let the students leave after all of the papers have been collected. They let them out column by column, starting nearest the door. Each row sits and waits, waiting for the moment the invigilator makes the signal to the let them go. It’s probably the tensest part of the whole examination process. The invigilators have exploited this fact and seem intent on making students wait as long as possible, before giving in and making the signal. They then repeat until everyone has left.

This, amongst others, is the reason why I spend literally minutes revising for an exam, so that I can get good grades, a good job and not be bored senseless for hours at a time. Until I retire and I need some extra cash. It’s a vicious circle.