On the way to the bottle bank and the pub yesterday, I saw:
On the principle that what goes around, comes around, I decided it was wisest to leave the newspaper in the chinese takeaway. It's a really good chinese takeaway.
I don't have much oomph today - indeed, it's probably fair to say that my get-up-and-go has got-up-and gone. It's quite infuriating.
To do my job, indeed to do any job I suspect you need a bit of arrogance and pride in it. You need to be able to stand back and say "I am the best widget-inflator that I can be" or, ideally, "I am the best widget-inflator in the world."
Now, I know that I inflate a damn fine widget. But I have people near me, indeed people who I can't avoid eye contact with, who are evil. I say to them "I have inflated 24 widgets this morning, and I have refreshed two grommiters for you" and they say "And what about the other two?" And this brings me down because I refuse to rise to it.
There's nothing more disheartening than telling someone something and them replying by saying "and when were you going to tell me this?" because the answer is invariably either "now", or "I would have told you twenty minutes ago if you hadn't been gassing about your holiday." And the really annoying thing is that I have no escape route and only one ventilation shaft left for me to explode into. If that makes sense. Which it doesn't.
I have an evil colleague.
I don't think that she means to be evil, I genuinely think that she means to be good, and aims to spread joy and light through the world. However, she has the social skills of a dead rat, the body language of a predator and the business knowledge of an earwig, and all of these conspire to make her evil.
Unfortunately, her evil is currently manifesting itself as a battle of wills with myself, a battle she will lose as
a - she is evil
b - she doesn't know what she is talking about and I have loads of experience
c - everyone knows that she is evil
I have taken the careful precaution of complaining to my boss in such a way that paints me firmly as a saint, refusing to take things further in the interests of everyone living a happy life together. He has taken the sensible next step of forewarning her boss. Clever man.
Although she is still evil, in the Time Bandits sense, if she has a nasty accident I will feel very guilty.
Allowing the Sycorax to enter the Eurovision Song Contest was always going to be controversial.
At first, it seemed that the recently-introduced geographic block-voting would not favour the horned warriors from another galaxy, given that their nearest neighbours were "The Pilot Fish", a comical group of people who thought that an appropriate christmas wheeze was to dress up as Santa Claus and shoot people in Cardiff. However, their catchy tune, combined with their threats to annihilate a third of the population of any country that didn't vote for them, helped them on their way to a landslide victory.
Talking from their orbiting asteroidal spaceship, Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrk all-high leader of Sycorax Death Squad and Minister for Culture said, over a cup of tea that this was a proud day for the entire Sycoraxic nation. However, the Sycorax spaceship was then destroyed in what the British Rocket Group described as "a routine laser accident".
As a result, next year's eurovision will be held in Finland. However, it did seem, for one brief moment, that the Sycorax did indeed rock the world.
How do you make a drama about Ian Brady and Myra Hindley? And also why?
The why isn't obvious. On the one hand, it's a real life story of some particularly horrific murders that took place within living memory. "The public" has an insatiable curiosity about these things. Like children, they like to be scared so that they can feel safe. They like their horror larger than life, and at the same time controlled, described, understood. Pigeonholed so that they can forget it.
Brady and Hindley are probably two of the most famous real life villains of our time, though. And they're still hugely confidential and socially a taboo. Their crimes are still open wounds in the heart of our society some forty years on. They have never gone away. Partly that's down to the awfulness of what they did, and partly that's down to an iconic image or two.
But I knew very little about them. That was what interested me most. Oh, I knew what they did, and when they did it, and what they did afterwards, but I didn't know who they were, how they were caught, and I still don't know why they did it, despite devoting three hours of my life to a drama about them.
Drama, you see, and in particular popular drama, has to live within cultural constructs. Stories need beginnings, middles, and ends, and there need to be characters that the audience can identify with. It's possible to write a drama about a killer and portray the killer as a victim, make the character almost forgiveable, almost sympathetic. But not Brady and Hindley. Not when "the public" gets so incensed by them still.
Or at least, by the idea of them, by what they represent.
It's an odd thing to get grumpy about, and it may seem horribly misogynistic, but picture this.
Imagine you're a man, walking along the pavement. You're aware of someone walking behind you. You are aware that this person is really really close to you, and that they blatantly want to get past, but the pavement is too narrow and the person behind you can't get past due to parked or moving vehicles. And they obviously are walking just too close, and waiting for an opportunity to nip out in front of you.
And the pavement widens, and they slip past you. And it's always a woman.
Now maybe it's not - maybe you're just aware of it more when it's a woman. And maybe it's that men keep their distance better.
It's something you learn as a teenager, or even earlier. If you're a man walking along the road, and there's someone else there, anyone else, you give them space. You make it clear that you're not a threat. Maybe women don't learn that.
I don't really know. It's just darned odd.
When I was growing up I never wanted to be a Curmudgeon. I never sat uncomfortably in a classroom, while my peers trotted out that they wanted to be firemen, or train drivers, or collect dole, or just be famous, thinking "I must think of something other than saying I want to be grumpy". That wasn't my way.
Admittedly, I was going to be a time traveller, whistling through time and space with my trusty companion by my side. Said trusty companion being Peter. Or Simon. I wonder where they are now.
But I digress. I used to think I wasn't curmudgeonly, and now I realise that I am. Completely and utterly. I am a grumpy, stuck-in-my-ways fuddy duddy. There's probably some slang for it in today's youthful vernacular. But I like to think I'm a hopeful curmudgeon.
For one thing, I don't automatically assume that things were better when we had rationing and rickets. I liked routemasters, but I do think that it's wise to have buses that are hard to fall off. I liked vinyl, and the crackling hiss that happened before Ella Fitzgerald warbled out of the warped black disc, faster and slower, faster and slower, but I embrace the digital delight of mp3. But I'm increasingly feeling that there are bad times just around the corner, and that the end of the world is upon us probably.
Ooooh... tribalism. I've just separated the world in to "them" and "us", and I did it without even thinking about it. I hate when I do that. Because we're all "us". That's the thing that many of us fail to see. I may be curmudgeonly about the world I live in, but the same social pressures that made me who I am shaped the world around me. This is what I've inherited. I may moan about it, and indeed I do moan about it, but I should feel at least partially responsible for it, shouldn't I?