God Hates Atheists

The onset of winter brings the inevitable start of perennial rounds of man-flu. Usually it times itself to coincide w. the start of a holiday, a fact that can be explained by my atheism. It’s a well known fact that God hates us and he/she/it has singled me out to be a particular bastard to. I mean, why wouldn’t he/she/it? Us Atheists are easy targets because there are relatively few of us amongst the population, so it must be a target-rich environment for a vengeful deity.

To ensure I am being totally accurate in my assertion I must check with my favourite Atheist – a Northern farm boy – if he feels similarly picked on. Possibly just a persecution complex of mine but two of us ought to constitute a scientific fact. Any fule knos that.

Let me demonstrate what I mean about bad science: I was asked for a hot-toddy by a colleague the other day and was then upbraided for making it w. boiling water because, and I quote here, “you’ll kill the all the vitamins in the lemon juice”. When I tried to explain that vitamins are a chemical entity and not living things I was met w. a pitying look, a resigned headshake and the pronouncement that it was a well known fact, go look on the internet. That’s me corrected then. I started to protest by invoking boring things like science etc and was then struck by the saying, “Never argue with an idiot as they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” I was going to point out that it is possible to remove the vit-C w. boiling water, but providing one drank said water you’d still get it. The facts are just so boring when they contradict folklore.

Right-ho. Cancelled my tutorial and now need whisky, honey and lemons for hot-toddy. Am off to Google some facts, pray for good health and murder some vitamins.

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Porky Porn

I was looking at my blog stats a few days ago. It is a short look as there ain’t that many people that want to read my demented ramblings. Nonetheless, I trip onto the list of most used search terms that bring people to my blog and you’ll never guess what they are so I’ll tell you: Naked Men In The Shower, and about twenty different iterations thereof. The rest of the terms are so few they are lumped into an uncategorised group called General or somesuch.

I knew when I entitled a post Naked Men In The Shower, as a rather tongue in cheek poke at the high level of sexual use of the internet, that it may generate a little more mistaken interest . I didn’t realise that I had unwittingly plumbed such a vein of special interest. So hi ho, t’internet is a funny ‘ole thing, which in itself isn’t a shocker. For my innocent and pure mind I was surprised, still, at the level of specialisms that are catered for. Puts me in mind of a quote about purity that I learnt from MFTS. “I’m like Snow White, but I drifted.”

Let me relate a little story that happened to a friend. Really, it did happen to a friend. Gary runs a very funny and rather infrequently updated blog called How Do In Bialskishire, about life and goings on in his small rural Lancashire village. He has throttled right back as the deeper he gets into village life the harder it is to comment as an outsider. Being a connected sort of fellow as well as being a farmer on a smallholding a friend shot a mobile phone video of him attempting to ride this rather humungous sow.

Gary suddenly received an inexplicably high number of hits – 5k+ – on this silly little video he had posted for the amusement of some friends. A bit of digging into it and he made a startling discovery. It was hot, he was a shirtless farmboy and apparently there is a specialist interest in, and I quote, “Sitting Down”. So quite innocently Gary and his sow became  a feature video on a gay porn fetish site. Who’da thunk it?

It rather trumps dudes in the shower.

You Know When You Know

In a totally out of character move for me I actually gave this post some joined up thinking before I put finger to keys. At least 30 minutes. Really; most posts are just stream of consciousness outpourings of opinion, so expressed in percentage terms it is a hell of a difference.

For the past 3 or so years I have been going back and forth with the founder of a small process improvement management consultancy. It’s never been the right time for some legitimate reasons. Now it is right for him and so wrong for me. It’s flattering to be wanted, I guess.

As dry as this topic sounds it was something I gave a lot of thought to when I had Only Organic. It was not about selling veg it was all about fulfilment of a perishable product. Screw it up and you’ve spent money. Process improvement, get it right and you save money. The role we have been discussing is also interesting because it plays to my strengths of enthusiasm for using technology and business development.

<<- as a total aside, I am sitting in a nice cafe in Oxford with good WiFi, and at the table beside me are two people that are struggling to have a conversation. Obviously not boyfriend and girlfriend and he is less interested that she is. It is alternately fascinating and annoying and great fodder to write about. She has a nasty antipodean grate which was hard to place until the mention of going home to live in Wellington. Moaning about the price of everything, the weather, the inconveniences etc etc. As hard as I am trying not to earwig, which is helped by her being partially unintelligible as her voice makes a sharp upturn at the end of every sentence and pens are pins etc etc, I have gathered that she went to London, didn’t like it but spent £100 seeing two ghastly sounding musicals. She then shared with the poor long-suffering chap that she was tempted to look inside the Savoy and see how the other half live etc etc… I fought back the urge to explain that it would have been far more enjoyable to spend her £100 on a decent lunch at the Savoy rather than on  The Lion King etc… There is a strong urge to lean over, give her a tenner and invite her to fuck off home where it is so wonderful. Since I am being a bitch then, in the interests of completeness, she has a moustache that I’d be proud of. Really, I can’t look over as I will just be staring at the facial furniture. I know, I am going straight to hell for being an insensitive prick. I have come to terms with that long ago. ->>

I drove home from the meeting with the MD and the FD with the agreement to start in July. I have decided to write to Peter – the MD – as I just cannot  pass the opportunity to do this degree. Chance of a life time and all that. People keep asking me what i’ll do with a History degree. The truth is that I have no idea. What I do know is that I’ll go down unknown avenues and meet interesting people. From that I am sure opportunity will present itself.

In the meantime I get on well with the lads at the local bike shop to the point where for a couple of pack of Hob-Nobs – why does this sound like the start of Jimmy Savile style tale? – I can use the workshop and store my bike there. They are around the corner from my new gaffe in Jericho and an ideal job would be working there. I have shared this with the owner and he didn’t fall about laughing. What a great job to dovetail around being a stoodent. I must drop by soon, eat biccies, drink tea and try again to be hired…

PS: being on a computer with several tabs open I skipped across to an Indy interview with the Rev. Richard Coles. He is a bit of a meeja vicar and made a v. pithy remark to the reporter that I think fairly sums up this blog: “We frequently sail perilously close to the banal…”

The Brain Abhors A Vacuum

So says Scott Fraser, Forensic Neurophysiologist. In my world there is a skeleton of facts that is fleshed out by imagination.

When I write I have the nugget of a memory and over the years the memory is only kept alive by re-thinking and re-imagining it over and over. It is called reconstructive memory. We ALL do it. There is no other process for keeping memory alive as far as I know. It does suffer from the flaw – anyone, anyone, please say it ain’t just me – that we are all terrible at remembering and keep it whole by adding bits as required.

Anyone, anyone at all, who claims to recall accurately an event more than a few hours old is just deluding themselves and, at worst, practising an intentional deception on others.

There is a really interesting TED Talk on the fallibility of eyewitness accounts by Scott Fraser that is definitely worth a watch. Watch it, you’ll be stunned.

So, if anyone wonders if what I say here is actual fact then bear in mind that the way I try to put flesh on the skeleton is by making it slightly humorous. I like to laugh at the past ‘cos why get dragged down and bogged in it. We could all wallow in self-pity, but that sucks. As is oft said by me;  Illegitimi non carborundum .

Oh, and if you find yourself bumping up against eye-witness accounts then do question them, thoroughly.

Death Comes To Us All

No, this is not about murdering bullies. I was going to try and up the mood a notch after the last few posts with the woe is me theme. Unlucky as when I was tootling home from a very satisfactory swimming session (trying to stay fit and be a coffin dodger myself) when I hear this amazing young woman talking on Radio 4 – if you are in any doubt it is the most amazing radio station in the world – about death. She is a palliative care doctor in her early thirties and was diagnosed with some filthy cancer a few years ago and is now confounding the statisticians by living well past her sell by date.

Although she knows that she is now, in old doctor chart speak, CTD. CTD is shorthand for Circling The Drain and is not written with any mocking, just a factual observation that death is very near for the patient concerned. In the mollycoddling PC world that we live in today I am told that this is discouraged to the point that doing this could lose you your job. Pity, because it is quite a clever and amusing TLA in the world of death that doctors mostly exist in. My personal favourite though is DTS, as in Danger To Shipping, to describe someone who has become, how do you say this delicately, I can’t so extremely obese will just have to do. Pejorative to fat folks apparently. The fact is that there are few things within ones gift to control. Being fat, or not, is one of them. Same as smoking. But I digress. Back to the imminent arrival of the Grim Reaper.

I think this woman – Dr Kate Grainger – is doing a great service. She tweets, has written a few books and is generally interested in ensuring that an inevitable process is made comfortable and the mystery that some people are determined to cloak the process in is stripped away . Death is an inexplicably taboo subject and I can’t see why we need to avoid it. The terms deployed to camouflage death are numerous and baffling. Passed, passed on, gone to a better place (really, a crematorium or hole in the ground is always better?), no longer with us (no shit, I thought they had popped out for milk?) and so on. If I have to use a silly euphemism for death then it has got to be “shuffled off this mortal coil”. Brilliantly English way of getting the point over whilst dressing it in a bit of wit.

Dr Grainger has plans to Tweet her own death as a way of making death more socially acceptable. Bravo. It’s a free world and she is getting the PR and bringing the issue to forefront. Follow Kate at @GrangerKate . Wish her luck, give her strength, say goodbye. It’s natural and you have the opportunity to improve the lot of a fellow human. Good eh?

I may be being a little flippant, but I do realise and have experienced the emotional trauma and loss that a death of someone close, that death comes freighted with all manner of pain and suffering. That too is natural. I still don’t think we need to pussyfoot around the topic.

Although there is no need to bash on and on about it as your friends end up marking you for a morbid bore. Oh wait…, never mind. Oh yes, that’s it, one of life’s few certainties is death. And taxes.

Eh? What Did You Say The Time Was?

Simple stuff to start the day on. After all, there is no point getting too heavy too soon. Plenty of time to get sad and introspective later.

Do you know what I mean when you look at your watch through semi-scrunched up eyes in a darkish room and think, “oh, half six, time to get up”? Obviously a totally alien thought to many but in my world it’s the correct time to rise to get things done (enough of me moralising, you know who you lazy bastards are) and you drag yourself out of bed to think, “Christ on a bike, I’m knackered. Must get to bed before 2300 etc etc” and start going through the motions of making cawfee when you make a quick glance at the clock on the stove, see it says it is three minutes past six and with a deft wrist motion flick open the computer to disprove this damnable lie. Four minutes past six. Confirmed. Watch obviously said half five and not half six. Damn and double damn. If I was down wiv da kidz this would be the time for a WTF????

I have used the twenty four hour clock for time for as long as I can remember so all the AM times are prefaced with a zero pronounced “oh” like the letter. This puts me in mind of Robin Williams playing Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vietnam – get this, in 1987! He announces the time as 0600, and, “what does the 0 stand for? Oh my god it’s early.”

Apparently Wiliams improvised a whole ton of the script when shooting the film. They just rolled the cameras and let him go. It is a cruel rumour but apparently the Bolivian Marching Powder may had a teensy bit to do with it. Regardless, This is well worth a few minutes of your time as this is indeed comedy gold from 1987. 

Oh god, the Bialetti didn’t get all the water through so I have had syrupy black coffee that you was thick enough to apply via strong rubbing to the forehead and chest. Sod coke (the powdered variety), this is hardcore buzzing. If I don’t rot a hole in my guts I think I am going to buzz out of control. Having done the obligatory experimentation with drugs in my youth I can safely say that this is up there. I am even short of breath. And all during my morning constitutional w the Mad Septic I have kept nipping into the bushes for immediate relief. Look on the bright side though, the Bialetti didn’t explode peppering my naked torso with semi-molten chunks of cheap shrapnel. You know it would just maim and probably blind you. If that kind of thing happens to me I want to be killed outright, minimum pain and for the device to work right first time. Just saying.

To keep the blowing up thread going I was walking in Oxford with the Mad Septic and as a small car, obviously a rental car with a young Muslim male at the wheel pulled out I remarked that seeing the three things combined I couldn’t stop myself looking to see if the rear springs were badly compressed and whether he had the look of someone who had not used their own card to rent it. It’s a hire car and was being treated so nicely. Obviously been PV’d by Enterprise so what do I know? Much laughing – at me – and the Mad Septic announced that you never hear of old Swedish grannie’s blowing themselves up, which is true, you don’t. In fact, I have never heard of a pensioner perpetrating a suicide attack. Old people realise they are getting to the end of a time-limited contract and have way too much dignity to go blowing themselves up. However, it must be a slight sense of accomplishment and social righteousness when you can talk an impressionable young fool into doing so. Natural selection and all that. Additionally, females in general seem too clever to fall for the seventy-two virgins line and as a slight aside, I don’t want virgins but rather well seasoned porn stars that know exactly what they are doing with my bits and if I am really lucky a finger might sneak into areas God never intended. I have died in a courageous and righteous manner and want to have some fun. I deserve it. I guess young guys haven’t had the time to develop into old pervs who have thought this through. Oh Lord, I am going straight to hell – as if that wasn’t a known knowns. Must concentrate. Why are young men so easy to radicalise with religion, politics or a mixture of the two?

If you are now wondering if I am just a simple racist bastard using long words then you are only partially correct. I am not racist and was just indulging in profiling and not personal value judgements.

A semi-literate bastard? Correct.  I don’t know if my parents were actually married when I was conceived (on a yacht in Sydney Harbour if my mother is to be believed) so in theory I could be an actual bastard as well. Who’d a thunk it?

PS: I promised to do a post around some cool pics I was sent. Later. I shall then submit it all to the magnificent Lisa for excoriating comments and a bit of editing.

A Younger Woman’s Bed

I went to Stories Aloud last night for their first birthday. Yay Sarah. Good work. There were two authors there who both agreed that – newsflash – writing needs to be worked at. It is probably arrogance ( I am reminded of the famous Thatcher reply when asked if she was pretentious – who, moi?) but as writing is one of the few things I seem to be happy plugging away at and quite enjoy I have decided to give a slightly longer piece a go. I have a thing about slightly edgy titles as I believe it accomplishes the internet version of a flashy cover in Blackwell’s et al. The bed bit is coming. I promise.

Her name is, well, that’s not important and I met her through a friend. She has two neurotic cats that I think I am allergic to, in a nice little flat in Oxford. Being the all round super guy that I am I stepped in to cat-sit when she had been let down at the last moment and they had already paid for their tickets.

On the surface it is just fine. A seven-day sideways step can’t be that tricky. Can it?

I have turned on the slightly baffling monster telly two or three times now. Turns out that it is possible to watch all-day police pornography shows with satellite TV. Who’d a thunk it? 20/20 cricket is ok, though not as soothing as Test Match stuff but the gem in all of this is a channel called Sky Arts HD. I didn’t know the Dirty Digger thought culture was anything other than something that grew on old yoghurt.

Opera’s, organ recitals and the like. organI was fascinated as they tried to sex-up an organ recital by placing cameras inside the organ and then doing tight-in shots of  hands and feet playing the beast then immediately cutting away to the corresponding action shots from within. I am now much better informed as to what happens inside all the guts of the organ. Strangely though, I was just enjoying the impressive panning shots of this behemoth of an instrument and the up-skirt internal organ shots added nothing. Still, I guess they are trying. However, I can take about 20 min then it’s telly off and back to my book, or more usually my keyboard.

I have shopped for what I eat and drink in Waitrose so am more comfortable that I don’t need to survive on Kraft Dinners kraft dinnerand an odd little coffe machine. Proper espresso, industrial strength from a Bialetti stove top type thing. There is always that slight frisson of “will it explode and kill me with some cheap cast aluminium shrapnel?”. I find the post-brew survival adds to the caffeine buzz. Cheese, red wine and bananas were also lacking. No fear Waitrose is here so all is good on the comestibles front now.

In my bedroom I have an old mattress that needs changing, an orthopaedic pillow – that also needs changing – but most importantly of all I have a lovely down duvet with nice John Lewis Egyptian cotton bed linen. In her room it is a nice but slightly too firm mattress, bed linen with a bit of synthetic fibres making me sweat like a man on death-row capped off with a synthetic duvet. It doesn’t drape very well but rather it just uses your body as the apex point to form a mini circus tent. Due to my increasing years and general softness – I talk about Rule #5 but don’t always follow it – I want the duvet to settle over me and form a nice and gentle hermetic seal all around my body.

I am not used to waking up in a young woman’s bed slightly cold and sweating on such a regular basis.