Some sort of WWIII comedy novel.

The airbase was unusually active that morning. Either a lot of units were mobilising, or a lot of soldiers were doing their best to look busy. Thaddeus pulled on the peak of his cap and watched a mini convoy pass him by. A few trucks loaded with soldiers and a few crates of gear. He wondered where they were going. It was Thaddeus’ grandfather who had said, “The easiest way to see the world is to join the forces. Though you’re likely to get shot at a few times. Nothing in this life is free.”

Thaddeus ducked into an office, eyes adjusting to the relative gloom. He immediately came face to face with a secretary, typing away frantically at a computer. He stood politely for a handful of seconds before he opted for the slightly less polite cough. The secretary looked up at him with an expressionless face.

‘Yes,’ she said.

‘Corporal Thaddeus Hundley,’ he replied.

‘Yes?’ She repeated.

‘I was ordered here,’ he said.

‘Hmm, one second.’ Machinegun fire typing ensued. Moments later her screen made a little pinging sound.

‘Colonel Madden will see you now,’ she said, gesturing towards an ominously bureaucratic looking door. Thaddeus knocked upon it and waited.

‘Enter,’ came the eventual response and enter he did.

Colonel Madden was a stocky fellow, his pressed dull green attire seemed more like his skin than it did an army uniform. His square, clean-shaven face disappeared momentarily by an obnoxiously large cloud of white vapour that smelled distinctly of lemon.

‘Hundley?’ said Madden as he waved the fog away. The large translucent block of his vaping device looked more high-tech than some of the weapons Hundley was used to maintaining.

‘Yes sir,’ he said.

‘Which one are you?’

‘Thaddeus, sir.’

‘I know that, but which one?’

‘The youngest, sir.’

‘Take your hat off; it’s rude.’

Thaddeus removed his grey cap only spending a second to grapple with the age-old notion that hats indoors or before a superior could be considered rude. What was it about the top of the head that people were so insistent on seeing?

‘Do I call you my Lord?’ Madden went on grinning a half-mocking grin.

‘No sir, I don’t think so. I’m not likely to inherit my father’s title.’

‘Duke eh, how’d your family wrangle that?’

‘My great-great-great-grandfather bought the title sir. Bought an entire county actually. Back in the recession when the country was strapped for cash.’ Thaddeus explained.

‘Which recession?’ The colonel demanded.

‘One of the big ones.’

The Colonel stuck the tube of his vape back into his mouth and inhaled deeply. Once again, the room became cloaked in fog. ‘So you’re from the upper crust are you?’

‘It would appear so.’

‘Is that doubt I hear?’

‘Well, being the youngest of fourteen sir, I don’t have much in the way of an inheritance.’

‘Surely, Duke Hundley will let you live in one of his many properties?’

‘No doubt.’ Thaddeus had to concede, his ‘not much of an inheritance’ was considerably more than most people’s.

‘Your oldest brother, what’s he then? A captain at least?’ Madden went on. Thaddeus had no idea why he had been summoned before a colonel to discuss his family. He shook his head.

‘He’s the heir, the family refused to let him sign up. Needs protecting. Being groomed for leadership once the war is over apparently,’ he explained.

‘Shame, I imagine that would give him some useful skills,’ said Madden.

‘No sir, as I say, he’s being groomed for leadership.’

‘The Hundley family has quite a bit of money behind them, yes?’ said the colonel, his eyes narrowing suspiciously. Thaddeus inclined his head the slightest of fractions. He had never been privy to the actual numbers, but it was largely agreed that it was more than one family could possibly spend in a lifetime. They were trying their best though.

‘Makes me wonder. Why are you on our side?’ asked Madden.

‘Beg your pardon sir?’

‘It seems odd to think a family as rich as yourselves would be fighting for equality.’

‘I thought we were fighting for democracy?’

‘They’re the same thing! And anyway, why would a Duke’s son care for democracy?’

‘The title is largely ceremonial.’

‘but not entirely.’

‘Sir, I assume I wasn’t summoned here to discuss my family’s politics?’ Thaddeus had skipped his morning coffee and was easily irritated.

‘No, Hundley. You were brought here because I hear you are good at blowing things up. Care for a vape?’ Madden gestured to a spare vaping device on his strictly ordered desk. Everything appeared to be exhibiting perfect right angles.

Hundley twisted his cap in his long, bony fingers. ‘No thank you, sir.’

‘Get the nicotine hit without the carcinogens?’

‘I’m not sure of the benefit of such a hit.’

‘Suit yourself. So, is it true? You good at blowing shit up?’

‘Blowing shit up is easy, sir. Put enough explosives on anything and it’ll come down.’ Hundley replied.

‘Or fly up in the air I imagine,’

‘Everything comes down eventually, sir.’ Hundley was beginning to feel that he had walked wittingly into a trap. The floor suddenly felt sticky and he started to feel like a fly on one of those yellow strips the farmhouse used to have around its windows.

‘Why do the flies walk into it?’ he asked his mother

‘Because they’re idiots,’ she replied.

‘It’s a good thing we’re smarter than them.’

‘I wouldn’t be so sure.’

‘I want to be frank, Hundley. I do not say this to lower your morale but for the sake of transparency. We are losing this war. With the bombing of Bordeaux, we lost a lot of good men and strategic resources,’ said Madden.

‘Didn’t we bomb Bordeaux, sir?’ Hundley remembered the day quite clearly, for a few seconds, the Separatists celebrated a great victory.

Madden’s face flashed with annoyance, ‘yes, but we didn’t know they were on our side at the time.’

‘What am I to blow up, sir?’ Thaddeus hoped it was a bridge. Bridges were classic.

‘A munitions factory.’

Ah, a factory. That was a little more difficult. Thaddeus stroked the blonde fuzz on his cheeks. He had recently opted for the muttonchop beard. The sort that met and joined on the upper lip but left the chin free. He wasn’t sure if it was a look that was working, but he guessed he didn’t have much time to remedy that now. A few streams of morning light managed to make it through the metal slats of the blinds, highlighting dancing particles of dust in the air.

‘An air strike’ll do that a lot easier than conventional explosives. If you use drones, that’ll be even better. Keeps risks to a minimum,’ he said.

Madden fixed him with a cold stare, his slightly bloodshot eyes betraying a hint of weariness. ‘Please, tell me more about obvious strategy, I am but a humble colonel and have much to learn. Of course a drone strike would be better, if you’d kindly shit one out I’d be grateful. As you may have noticed, we’re a bit low on aircraft at the moment, and most are focussed on the Middle East conflict. Plus, if we sent a plane over to this particular factory the Unionists would send three of their own and shoot it right out of the sky.’

Thaddeus nodded understandingly, already considering the explosions he would use. RDX seemed like a reasonable choice, if he could get enough of it. Of course, it rather depended on how big the factory was. Having said that, it being a munitions factory meant there’d be plenty of fairly explosive materials already on site.

‘Where is the factory?’

‘Germany… the western parts.’

‘I take it someone will give me a more precise location?’

‘Yes, yes. I’m sure you will. You’ll be joining a team en route to Belgium via sea. There you’ll be contacted by a member of intelligence who’ll guide you to the factory.’

Thaddeus quite enjoyed the idea of finally meeting some intelligence, though he made sure to temper his expectations.

‘You must get this done Hundley. This could weaken the Unionist’s supply chain and perhaps put us on equal footing, at least on the European front anyway,’ said Madden.

There was another pause as Madden vaped and was once again lost behind the resulting fog. There were old stories throughout Europe concerning monsters in the fog. These whites and such would appear whenever the mist did. Whilst their motivations, origins and forms would differ, if you met one, the results would always be the same.

‘Of course,’ said the face half forming in the vapour, ‘as you’ll be taking the lead of a small squad, we’ll be promoting you to sergeant. How does that sound, eh?’

‘It sounds like responsibility, sir,’ said Thaddeus.

‘Does it now? Well, you have your orders.

Thaddeus nodded. ‘Sir?’

‘Yes?’

‘Can we be certain this factory isn’t one of ours?’

The Iceberg Theory.

Like the Oscars to movies, winning the Nobel Prize for literature seems to elevate a writer to the point of reverence. If I had my way, I’d get rid of this category, much like I’d see an end to the Oscars. Perhaps it’s the heightened expectations that come with the foreknowledge of such a prize, but I find Hemingway a difficult writer. Not in the sense that snobbish literature students (of which I once was) would say, raising their eyebrows and smugly tilting their heads at a 37-degree angle, the smuggest of all angles, “It’s a difficult book, one must put in the effort to get anything out of it.” I find Hemingway difficult in the sense that I’d find spending an afternoon with my dull neighbour difficult.

Hemingway started off as a journalist, a profession where one must use words economically. He carried this over to his short stories and novels in what he called the iceberg method or theory. Put simply, using a succinct style the words themselves only paint the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the story and its true meaning is underneath the water. Often, what is not written is more important than what is. Using this method, I managed to write the greatest novel ever whilst saving myself the trouble of writing even a single word.

To me, the iceberg theory seems like a pretentious way of justifying a writing style that doesn’t really have much there. I have read three of his books thus far and just can’t bring myself to like them. I would very much like to like them, but after a while the short sentences become jarring. I cease to be immersed in the story. It feels almost lazy. It would be like if a Marvel comics artist decided to make Wolverine a stick man and when questioned about the lack of detail they say, “The reader must do a bit of the work to see the true essence of the character. My art is good, it knows the character, therefore the audience will know the character too.” It sounds all well and good, but it’s still just stick man.

The dialogue feels stilted and the characters are incredibly one dimensional. Perhaps I’m missing something, perhaps it’s all down to that omission and I’m too dense to see what is omitted on account of it not being there and therefore can’t see the true characters that Hemingway definitely captured perfectly in not capturing at all.

On the one hand, it feels almost sacrilegious to say that Hemingway isn’t that great. On the other, it*

I think it’s a sense of his larger than life character. In becoming a character of sorts – a legend – the image became bigger than the books and in doing so lessens the books. It’s like reading all of Oscar Wilde’s witty quips and then making the mistake of reading the Picture of Dorian Gray.

Or maybe it’s like the Beatles. As much as I love the Beatles, I can’t necessarily appreciate them for the musical phenomenon that they were, as I’ve been subjected to so many bands directly inspired by them that they don’t sound all that different. Context and timing are often key.

I’m tempted to use the term overrated but have always found that an odd term. If something is highly rated it means lots of people genuinely liked it, therefore nothing can ever be overrated. It can be not to a particular person’s taste, but overrated? No.

He is overrated though.

*The unfinished sentence was deliberate; I was being facetious. It’s a reference to omission and therefore a weak critique of the iceberg theory. I would have let you work that out for yourself, but I don’t trust you.

Don’t panic. Everything will be ok.

Many centuries ago, an ancestor of ours discovered he could use shiny things to trade for goods that were actually useful. Unbeknownst to him, he set off a chain reaction of events. His descendants took the ‘shiny things for useful things’ model and ran with it. Now it’s been refined into what we refer to as ‘the economy’.

The economy has since evolved into a giant angry worm that we must appease lest it spit face-melting enzymes at us. Many people use complicated ideas and words to try and explain the economy, but like us laymen (and women… laypeople) they have about as much clue as a bonobo does about aviation. That is to say, the smartest bonobo could probably learn how to make plane noises and hold its arms out to the side, but I wouldn’t trust it to fly a plane. Which is just as well, as there are no outbound flights at the moment. It’s easier to stick to the fundamentals and say, it’s still just ‘shiny things for useful things.’ Though in today’s digital world it’s ‘numbers on a screen for things of indeterminable use’.

Like the rest of you, I am in lockdown. Unlike the rest of you I only worked this out about half a week into it. Having peeped online to see many people posting their quarantine hijinks, I can conclude that being quarantined is very much like being unemployed. I have had many trying conversations with people (over the phone) of course, where they have lamented being stuck in with their spouse and children. Having suffered from chronic loneliness for some time, I have very little sympathy for these people who are forced by circumstance to spend time with the people they chose to be with and the small humans they chose to create.  ‘Oh no, I have to spend time with the people I supposedly love and, in turn, feel their love for me!’

You fuck off!

That’s why you could say I’m coping with social distancing quite well. My whole life has been one big experiment with social distancing. For years people have been keeping at least 2 metres away from me. Many see that as being worryingly close. I know that some people have had phone calls, or even mass video conferences with their friends, using the magic of the internet to remain connected. I received one text from my dad, and that was to tell me he’s well stocked on beer. Which was good, I was worrying.

Anyway, without getting too bogged down into the depressing quagmire that is my life, back to the economy.

It is often said that the form of consumer capitalism in which the majority of the west (if not the world) abides by is not a perfect system but is the best one we have. That may well be true, but if it is, it’s a very sad truth. For thousands of years the ‘shiny things for useful things’ model has been refined, and this is the best we could get. The vast disparity between the haves and the have nots, a lack of affordable housing, a lack of well-paid jobs, constant uncertainty. This is the best system?

You would have thought that the greatest minds in the world would have taken into account the possibility of a global pandemic and created a system ready to handle it. I mean, the film Contagion basically predicted all of this, down to the fucking bats!

As it is, we’re roughly two weeks into a nationwide shutdown and all the experts on shiny things for useful things are warning of greater woe to come in the form of economic meltdown. That’s right, the best system we have can’t sustain two weeks without going insane.

Admittedly, this crisis stands to go on longer than said two weeks and these dire projections are no doubt based on that idea. Still, you’d think after thousands of years, we’d have a system that can withstand a pandemic without going too insane.

Maybe some good things will come out of this situation.  Maybe our overlords, after years of chronic underfunding, will realise that the NHS is actually a pretty good thing and those hard-working doctors and nurses deserve the right protection.

Funny how we’ve had years of austerity, cuts and budgetary restriction to fight some apparent deficit, and yet around the world countries are shitting out money. America, for example, one of the few developed countries that refuses to get some kind of nationalised health service because ‘who’s gonna pay for that?’ recently released a stimulus package of $850 billion. Where’s that coming from? I’m sure some financial minds could explain where that’s coming from, but ultimately, it’ll be ‘well, bonds and stocks, tied up in assets from the IMF and other such bodies.’ And they’ll keep on talking like this until we get bored and wander off.

There’s a perfectly simple solution to this. Just hit the reset button. Enough countries are affected that we can all collectively agree it’s a good idea. Wait the pandemic out and then all the banks worldwide just hit reset to pre-COVID levels and we continue like nothing else happened. There’s no reason we can’t do that. It’ll be fine.

We can pretend like the first quarter of 2020 never happened. Anyone who mentions it can be shunned from society. It’ll just be 3 months that never happened.

There are no flaws with this plan… economically speaking. For the thousands who have lost their lives… not so much.

… relax… everything will be fine.

 

 

Symptoms of global insanity?

T.S Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” famously contains the line “this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” This was quickly (and not so famously) refuted by the great Hubert J Watergipridget who stated, “the world will go on for billions of years. The human race, however, will likely die out due to a variety of factors, such as viral outbreaks from bats, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, unchecked climate change and (it goes without saying), all-out war. This is the way the world ends, not with a whimper, but with much grumbling and probably a few bangs.”

When asked to expand on the ‘viral outbreaks from bats’ element of his prediction, he replied, ‘get your mum to expand on the viral outbreaks from bats element of my prediction,’ which, if anything, showed he was well ahead of his time.

Anyway, I think we’re coming close to our end. Not because the world’s gone mad. I’m currently sat in my Deadpool pyjamas drinking a coffee from my posh Nespresso machine, so suffice to say, it’s relatively stable.

Back in 1922, Europe was in a bit of bother, economically speaking. Thanks in no small part to the treaty of Versailles, Germany was in a particularly bad way. So, the Reichsbank decided to put into practise the controversial theory of ‘printing unlimited amounts of money’. Thanks to this maverick attitude, we now know this was a spectacularly bad idea. By 1923, one US Dollar would get you 4.2 x 1012 German marks, which you know is bad because it involves a tiny floating number. At this point, it would cost the average German one wheelbarrow full of money for a loaf of bread. Whilst this was good for the wheelbarrow industry, it was disastrous for everyone else. Now that’s instability.

However, just because the world hasn’t yet gone mad, it doesn’t mean it isn’t showing early symptoms. We have been seeing (quite frequently) what will later be described as ‘warning signs.’ Once upon a time the idea of the Prime Minister of the UK shutting himself in a fridge to avoid the press would have been a hilarious blend of surrealism and scathing satire, not the only thing of note an absent PM actually does. The idea of an unelected man whose main credentials seem to be ‘he had a blog’ becoming one of the most powerful people in British politics was, at one point, laughable. The idea of the ruling party hiring – regardless of how short a stint – a man who seemed to suggest we should be bred like dogs to have more desirable offspring, would be something out of a dystopian novel.

Yet, all those blue lines indicate the fact that they are all very much part of reality.

On a side note, notice how it’s always the rich and well-educated that push the eugenics agenda. Almost as if it’s a way to justify their wealth and privilege as something they deserve rather than having to accept that it’s probably not right. Underachieving schools? It’s because their students are genetically predisposed to underachieving, nothing to do with funding or social inequality. I’m so glad I’m not a Delta.

Alt-right terrorism is seemingly on the rise, bringing anti-immigration sentiment to the fore, which is funny when you think much of British history involves our ancestors sailing around the globe just nicking everyone’s country. ‘Hello India, this is our country now. Welcome to the British Empire, but don’t you dare come to Britain.’ Fortunately, it’s not isolated to Britain. Which is the worst possible usage of the word, fortunately. I mean to say, at least we’re not alone in our xenophobia. France has its National Front, Germany the AfD, Spain has Vox etc. They’re not the only far-right group in either country, of course, just the most well-known.

And it’s immigration that seems to irk them the most. Of course, it would be naive to suggest there are no downsides to immigration. It can put strain on already beleaguered services, such as healthcare. It may create more demand on housing, which can only be supplied by building onto floodplains and the rapidly diminishing greenbelt (although that’s largely the fault of a naturally growing population anyway). I don’t know, I’m no expert, but even the best things have their negative sides – I once ate a massive raspberry pavlova all to myself and felt very sick that evening. For the most part – anti-immigration is scapegoating at it’s finest. Again, weird use of words.

Automation and cheaper foreign goods helped accelerate the decline of industry across America, putting people out of work. Instead of investing in retraining a lot of these people or trying to provide alternative areas of work or curb the influx of cheap outsider goods, America chose to do none of these things, choosing instead to count large stacks of foreign ‘hot money’. These out of work people were largely forgotten about as politics focussed mainly on the large metropolitan areas. Rather than admit fault and suggest reinvestment into former industrialised communities, it was considered much easier to blame Mexicans.

Similarly, why focus on working hard to better a nation and look into what is dividing us all, or accepting we’re no longer as powerful as we once were, or even considering a dramatic overhaul of the political system, the UK found it easier to blame Europe for all our woes, further stoking the embers of division.

Why blame a war that stemmed from a history based on empire building and exploitation led by inbred cousins and the poor, reactionary handling of the aftermath of said war (and the aforementioned unlimited money printing), and work to change the social system of the day, when you can blame Europe and the Jews. Yes, it’s got there. We’re back at Hitler. It was inevitable. Because, lets face it. It didn’t go mad right away. The symptoms were missed, and the underlying cause went untreated, and like syphilis, the end result was insanity… and the atom bomb – wait, I’ve messed up my allegory.

If we’re not careful, especially in this age of misinformation, we could be wandering down a path of destruction. What should we do instead? I don’t know. I can’t even keep on top of my washing and often run out of pants. I would say, there’s far too many of us, all with a differing opinion on how the world should work, all shouting to be heard. Ultimately, we need the Infinity Gauntlet. A minor tweak to Thanos’ plans and we could have all the space and resources we need. The xenophobes could have their own utopia on White Island. Whereas, us liberals who are just trying to get along could have a continent sized café serving dishes from all over the world at a sensible price.

However, the government has yet to respond to my request for a grant to chase down the Infinity Stones.

Yes, that was a weak ending. I was originally planning to write a blog about automation and how I hope it eventually gets so good that none of us have to work, and we can all float around in those chairs in WALL-E and get fat and have constant entertainment fired into our eyes. But I didn’t know how to get there. And I’m a gardener when it comes to writing. I plant the seed and see what happens, and if the result is a twisted mess of nettles, then who am I to burn it down?

 

I have predicted the Euro Millions results

Feeling somewhat caught in the iron grip of existential malaise, I am currently creatively deficient. I tried to draw something, and this was all my imagination could offer:

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-08 at 18.05.20

There’s a commonly held notion that depression inspires creativity and has provided us with the greatest songwriters, poets, actors and artists throughout history. Whilst there may be a percentage of such people who suffered from depression at one stage or another, I very much doubt their great works were completed during their ‘low periods’. I say this because I struggle to find a clean sock or locate a pair of pants, regardless of their washed state. Composing a symphony would be beyond me right now. Even glancing over to my sink, where my flatmate’s washing has mounted up makes me want to cry, but I haven’t the energy to do so. My wok teeters precariously on a precipice, waiting to fall and spatter days’ old grease in every direction. That may well be the last straw. I didn’t even use it; I haven’t the energy for such things. The poor thing wasn’t even used properly. He fried bacon in it. My poor wok. Reduced to work like a lowly frying pan because I threw my actual frying pan away; its non-stick coating was being scratched away. I thought it was much like a metaphor, though for what I can’t remember.

After re-reading my last post, I realise it veered off in a slightly weird direction, so I deleted it. For this one, I thought I’d have a look at the news to see what current events I could contrive some anger over. Because that’s all we have now. It’s what we’ve been reduced to. Two sides, yelling at one another, spittle flying from our lips, eyes wide and bulging. What are we angry at? No one really knows.

Having accidentally joint Twitter some time ago, I regularly get emails saying, ‘so-and-so has tweeted some old shit you don’t care about.’ Usually, I ignore these. However, one recently caught my eye. Some fellow called Laurence Fox said something about coming out as broccoli. Not knowing who Laurence Fox is, I good-naturedly gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought it an innocent bit of surrealism. Perhaps, if one were inclined to overthink this brief snippet, I might interpret it as satire, criticising society for still having prejudices one way or another regarding gender or sexual identity. Perhaps I need to explain where I’m coming from here.

  • I am coming out as broccoli.
    • Haha, that’s so silly and banal and I have no strong feelings about it either way.
  • And yet something as trivial as how someone identifies incenses you one way or another or at the very least leads you to gossip? For shame society.
    • Oh, you got me. I have taken a good look at myself now and will let people be who they wish to be without judgement or ridicule.

However, not wanting to jump to this conclusion, I foolishly clicked the email and discovered that this Laurence Fox fellow felt compelled to Tweet this broccoli joke to the masses after reading a different Tweet from one Jameela Jamil stating she identifies as queer. Good for her (there’s no tone in text, but that was meant to be genuine and not sarcastic).

It should be noted that not having a TV license or, more importantly, a TV, I had no idea who either of these people are. Apparently, Jameela is an actor who has been appointed a judge on some sort of dance show linked to the LGBTQ community and this caused some sort of outrage because judges on talents shows are important. Laurence Fox, according to my research, is a cunt.

No, that was beneath me and not helpful to an inclusive debate and I apologise. Laurence Fox is a member of the Fox Acting Dynasty, publicly educated and descendent of one Samson Fox who was so rich he basically funded the Royal College of Music.

I don’t quite know what defines being ‘woke’. Seeing as I operate mostly on autopilot with my brain in power-saving mode, if it has anything to do with being awake in the literal sense, I cannot be described as such. But, since clicking that link the all-powerful machine learning algorithms have pushed more articles regarding Mr. Fox under my nose, mistaking idle curiosity for ardent interest. From this I have discovered that Mr. Fox seems to not like ‘woke’ culture, branding a mixed-race woman racist for suggesting that maybe, being from a white and privileged background, he may not be the best person to talk about the impacts of racism.

He may well have a point, I’m sure many who have suffered in silence may end up standing by him, recalling their own stories of how society has often tried to get them to consider their own privilege for a minute before opening their mouths. Many white, public schoolboys throughout history have been left terrified to walk certain streets at night, lest someone drive up alongside them and suggest they acknowledge their background has afforded them some advantage.

After a while, I started to think that maybe Wanktastic Mr. Fox is a made-up person, as the articles started to get more and more ridiculous. It seemed the idea of a single Sikh soldier fighting alongside white people in WWI was so fantastical that it must have been manufactured solely to irritate him; it was the result of “forced-diversity”. Which is a very bizarre concept when you think about it. If anything, forced diversity is true to life. I experience it every day. It’s a by-product of living in one of these new societies they have these days. I got on a train and diversity hit me in the face like a bag of Walkers MixUps caught in a strong wind. There were black people, brown people, white people, men, women, other. Did I ask for that? No! Did I care? Also no. Do I have the ability to care anymore or am I just dead inside? No more questions, please.

At least Fox was rational enough to admit that he’s not a historian, so he’s willing to concede there may have been at least one Sikh soldier. Though immediately after he seems to suggest that 1917 would have made more sense if that particular scene had  involved a truck filled solely with Sikhs. Worryingly, this seems to hint at a world view where total segregation makes sense. All Sikhs must have their own truck. I’m overthinking again. Anyway, this man is a historian, so maybe he can tell us the truth of the matter.

I’d like to think that most people would read Fox’s attempts at humour with raised eyebrows and think, ‘whilst he is free to say what he pleases, what he says is not pleasing.’ Alas, there are many who support him from what I see on Twitter. Piers Morgan seems to be one. And if you’re ever in a position where Piers Morgan is supporting what you’re saying, you should probably re-evaluate your life choices.

Perhaps I’m just a virtue-signalling whore,  but it’s strange to me that there are so many who seem resistant to diversity or unaccepting of the LGBT movement in a strangely cynical way. There are those that vehemently exclaim ‘there are only two genders.’ I am an idiot who rarely leaves the house, so I am not too sure what the other genders are myself, but I’m sure they’ll exist regardless of my ignorance, much like everything else. Either way, it doesn’t matter too much because, as I said, I’m an idiot who rarely leaves the house, so I doubt it’ll affect me much.

Oh yeah, Tuesday’s Euro-millions numbers are: 2, 7, 11, 29, 27 and the lucky stars are 5 and 3. They’re going with prime numbers.

 

How many Mes does it take to change a lightbulb?

I was in London yesterday, which was a shame. I also needed to pee, which was inconvenient as everywhere in London locks up their toilets, because god forbid someone walk in and relieve the pressure on their bladders without paying for the privilege. This is despite the fact that London itself is a giant public piss trough.

I want it to be known that I hate London. I know that that is a decidedly unBritish thing to say, but I can’t hide who I am. Whilst the Nazis did many terrible things, their attempts to level London should be applauded[1]. It’s an absurd place that boasts all the industry and all the jobs whilst remaining an entirely unaffordable place to live. It’s fair to say that London, is a separate entity to the rest of the UK. It’s a cyst, a tumour if you will, feeding off the rest of the country. Yes, you are right; I don’t know how cysts or tumours work. The fact is, London cares about London and the rest of the country must fend for itself.

I had to get to a place called Queen Street, which I found. However, I couldn’t find the building I was looking for, and I suddenly found myself on a tiny street called Bread Street. It’s this sort of thing that makes London such an infuriating place. The naming convention seems far to sporadic. It’d make sense for Queen Street to connect to maybe a King Street, or a Duke Street and we gradually go through various ranks of nobility. Could even go for cards. Or maybe all the roads that feed into Queen Street were named after various queens. But no all the streets have silly names, even the tiny dank little cobbled alleys deserve their own name. Little alleys complete with dancing piper that you must pay a single groat and say, ‘paid the piper to peddle my pelts!’ because of some old weird tradition. And yet this alley won’t be called ‘Piper’s Alley’ it’ll be called ‘Tanner’s Road’, despite having nothing to do with tanning.

People who love London, but chose not to go there unless they absolutely have to, defend it by saying ‘it’s a historic city, rich with culture.’ And so was Dresden, but that didn’t stop us burning the place down. Apparently, some historic cities are worth preserving, but others deserve death by fire. It’s fine now by the way, I’m just saying. As for culture, that has a habit of springing up wherever there are enough people. Cambridge has culture, Norwich has culture, Edinburgh has culture and neither of those cities are tarnished by also being awful places.

London is also too busy. I think that’s my main gripe. There’s too much going on. It’s dizzying and irritating.

You might be saying, ‘but you live in Stevenage, a place renowned for being terrible.’ To which I say, ‘who told you where I live?’ but also, that’s kind of the point. It’s known for being terrible and is. And guess why. Because it was built to house the rapidly swelling population of London. And it’s getting more and more expensive to live here, two guesses why. Because it’s close to London. One day the city will rise up on giant hydraulic legs and march up and down the country asserting its dominance in a lot more literal sense. Stevenage accepts its position as a terrible commuter town. It makes no claims of culture, has one museum which basically states, ‘we have no history’.

Anyway, that was supposed to be a brief introduction to what eventually becomes the real point of this blog, but it got away from me. What I really wanted to talk about was my lightbulbs. In my hallway (what British people call a narrow corridor that leads from their front door to the other rooms, because we have a superiority complex), I have four lights. I live with a flatmate, but I have claimed these lights as my own through the strategic use of tiny flags.

Two bulbs have gone, meaning it’s quite gloomy in there. The simple act of changing a bulb is made rather difficult by the fact that at some point in recent history, we have grown ashamed of lights. Perhaps our inability to see in the dark has made us feel inadequate, so we have had to hide the lights away as best we can, by reducing their size and hiding them in little circles inside the ceiling.

To make matters worse, an incompetent tradesman has painted over them, meaning they will no longer screw out. This has made me very mad. A person, presumably someone whose main source of income is in painting and decorating or some similar trade, got paid to do a terrible job. Me, who, as these blog posts show, is an idiot, looked up and instantly recognised the mistake.

I am a naïve human being and still believe that if you do something for a job, then you are probably quite skilled at that job. At the very least, through simple repetition, you don’t make really obvious mistakes, such as painting over lights built into a ceiling. However, upon peering up at my painted over lights, I realise that is not the case.

So, here I am using a paint scraper – I’m not sure what the actual term is for them. Let me google – using a paint scraper, to scrape the paint away from painted over lights so I can change the bulbs. Will I be compensated for this? No. I must suffer due to other people’s incompetence. This is very much how life works it seems.

[1] I mean, obviously, I don’t believe that. That was said for comic effect.

Where have my pants gone?

For the last few days, I have gone commando. By which I mean I haven’t been wearing underwear, not running through a jungle with a machine gun, which is what I assume real commandos do. Where are they running too? What are they running from?

I have no idea where my pants have gone. I tidied the flat today due to an upcoming flat inspection. It seems paying landlords close to a thousand pounds a month isn’t enough. They feel they need to come in and scrutinise your cleanliness and hygiene too. Then again, I suppose it wouldn’t be England if the property owners didn’t do everything in their power to make life difficult for the non-owners.

Not that my flat was particularly untidy, though there was some clutter. Clutter is different, it’s the natural accumulation of things. Not dirty things, just things with no obvious spot as yet. Anyway, I thought the tidying would reveal a hidden mound of pants somewhere. I assumed I had washed a load and then forgotten where I put the folded, sweet-smelling result. Alas, no pants revealed themselves.

So, I took all the clothes out of my drawers and dug to the as yet uncharted depths of my laundry basket. Not a single pair of pants to be found. Why are they a pair of pants, as in plural, anyway? Can you get a single pant? Just one leg with one ball and half a penis in, one ball dangling freely?

I’ve come to the conclusion that someone, somewhere has stolen my pants. Pants, unlike people, are not inclined to just jump out a window.  Why people would steal my pants I do not know. Some cloning experiment perhaps? I would suggest an infatuated young woman, overcome with an obsessive desire for me has snuck in and made off with my pants out of perversion. However, no one has any desire for me, obsessive or otherwise, so the cloning scenario seems more plausible.

Who is it then? The government? A revolutionary force seeking to create enough mes to topple the economy, drain on resources that we’ll be? Why opt for the pants? Surely there are other ways to get samples of my DNA that’re less likely to arouse suspicion.

Of course there’s always the possibility that pants manufacturers are stealing pants on a global scale to push up the flagging sale of pants. After all, I can’t remember the last time I actually spent money on pants. I usually wait to be bought a pack on Christmas. Come to think of it, I didn’t get pants for Christmas this year. So perhaps pants have a finite amount of time they can linger on this earth. Their time is fleeting. They come into our lives to cover up our bottoms and respective sexual organs, and within a year they are gone.

They do not seek praise, nor demand payment or even our love. They are content merely to do their duty, providing comfort to buttocks as they journey around the sun.

Note to self: Buy more pants.

Get rid of Wednesday and some praise for the French.

I’ve always thought it strange for there to be seven days in a week. For creatures who, above all else, seem to crave some sort of order in this chaotic world, it doesn’t sit right for there to be an odd number of days. Particularly seven. Seven is the worst of all the odd numbers. If I ever ran for government, adding or subtracting a day would be my main pledge.

Obviously, if I added a day, it would come before Monday, but it would be an extra weekend day. Eight days seems far more manageable, particularly with (for most people) three of those being ‘off days’. If I was to subtract a day, it’d be Wednesday for the chop. Wednesday is the worst day. A pointless little island stranded in the middle of the week. Two weekdays behind it, two ahead. ‘Oh but it’s Humpday!’ I hear you cry, and that’s why you shall receive nothing by my most rancid ire. Anyone who calls Wednesday Humpday should be kicked repeatedly by camels, so they have nothing but dread upon thinking of a hump.

Wednesday is also the only day that has a stupid spelling. When everyone seems to pronounce it ‘Whenzday’ spelling it WED-NES-DAY is pointless. It’s like a parent (or someone making an individual decision) choosing to spell their (child’s) name differently from the norm and then complaining when everyone spells it wrong. Often, it’s people choosing a Y instead of an I, or vice versa. You know who you are.

If I fucked Wednesday off, we’d have a better work-life balance. Four days on, two off. If we went mad, we could even swap Friday to an off day and it’d be perfectly balanced (as all things should be), but that’s possibly hoping for too much. We are slaves to the economy after all.

Not to mention that Friday is national ‘do no work day’ anyway. Well, for those of us who don’t work in a hospital that is. If you do, you should not be living by this rule. It would go against your Hippocratic oath.

It used to be ‘get slightly drunk at work day’ but I had to tone that down as it was becoming more akin to ‘obviously wasted at work day’, not to mention I switched jobs to somewhere far away from a pub. Though I have recently been made redundant, so that could be about to change. That is, if I get another job. The number of ‘thanks but no thanks,’ responses I appear to be getting is making it look far more likely that I am to have to set myself on fire in a ditch somewhere.

I had French toast this morning. I’ve started to fall in love with the French as they seem to have their heads screwed on right. They looked at the toast of the rest of the world and thought, ‘that’s all well and good, but wouldn’t it be better soaked in eggs and milk, dusted in cinnamon and covered in fruit (maple syrup optional)? Yes it would, France, yes it would. This guy had a pain au chocolat. Once again, the French looked at bread and thought, ‘sure, but what if it had chocolate in it?’ Dauphinois potatoes, ‘potatoes are all well and good, but what if we smothered the fuckers in cream?’ What other nation would have come up with that? Certainly not the Germans. They’d have looked at all those things and thought ‘Yes, but what if instead we just had sausages?’

Anyway, that’s all you’re getting. Blogging every day was a terrible idea; I have nothing of value to say.

 

 

A blog a day keeps the mental wittering at bay

Note: this an excerpt from an alternate WW1 story I am currently working on. WW1 with fantasy creatures in it, because that way I don’t have to do any research. Take that nitpickers.

The captain was well and truly dead. His blood seeped out of him as a trio of twisting streams, mixing with the thick mud of the trench. Hawkings clutched his rifle and peered down the line. The remainder of the squad hunkered down looking more bewildered than frightened.

‘What’s the plan then?’ asked Raf patting himself down for his cigarettes.

‘I’d say the plan died with the captain. Who’s in charge now? Said Twemly.

‘Erm… well, of who happens to be left, that’d be Second Lieutenant Davies,’ said Grubbins, his long curved ears poking out the top of his tin helmet. Hawkins noticed Davies’ chest puff out. Even now, under fire and facing certain death, the man could feel pride. Davies forced a stiff smile did his best to face all of them.

‘Very well lads, the burden of command falls on me,’ he said, doing his cringe inducingly best to sound common and rising to a sort of half crouch. ‘I’ll take this responsibility seriously, and I will personally guarantee seeing you all home by –‘

Unfortunately, Hawkings didn’t hear when he’d get to go home as Davies hit the floor, a sharp crack echoing around them. Hawkings wasn’t too sure what had just happened but could see Davies, who usually had two eyes, now only had one.

‘Well, bugger. I suppose that puts Sergeant Mather in charge,’ said Grubbins.

‘Alright then, first order: no one stand up,’ Sergeant Mather grunted. Raf’s search for his cigarettes ended with him pulling out a crumpled packet from within his mud-spattered jacket. Thus, began the search for his lighter.

‘And how long are we to not stand up for?’ he asked.

‘That’s “how long are we to not stand up for sir!”’ Mather barked.

‘Ok, same question, but with sir on the end,’ said Raf.

‘I’ve no idea. Grubbins, how’s your communication… things doing?’

‘Oh, very well sir,’ said Grubbins, a polite yellow grin spreading across his grey face.

‘Good, call back to command and see if we can get a few more rounds of shells our way.’

‘Oh, can’t be done sir,’ said Grubbins.

‘And why not?’

‘My equipment is back at command; they said it was too valuable to risk losing.’ The goblin scratched his grimy chin. A long bead of moisture seemed to be dangling rom the end of his hooked nose.

‘Us soldiers are of little consequence then I suppose,’ Mather sighed.

‘Yes, I believe that was their thinking sir.’

Raf retrieved his lighter and in under three attempts had his cigarette lit, which must have been a record. The rich smell of fullow leaf filled the dank trench, along with a wisp of purple smoke.

‘How many of them you got?’ asked Twemly.

‘You can’t have one,’ said Raf.

‘Don’t want one necessarily, just thinking, if you had enough could put down a smoke screen.’

‘Twemly, I want you to know before we die, that you are an idiot.’ Said Mather.

‘Noted sir.’ Twemly rolled his shoulders. He was an unremarkable man in almost every respect. He was not broad, not tall, not strong, not fast, rather plain looking and lacking in grace. However, a few months previously Roodles happened to mention Twemly was born under Fortune’s Lance. Hawkings had never put much stock in the stars, partially because it was said he was born under the Merchant, and he spent his last four shillings the week before on a bottle of wine. He thought it a sound investment until he offered some to the captain who said he’d been over charged by three shillings. Not only that, seeing as all the stars were up and everyone was, logically speaking, down, everyone was born under every star. Still, there had to be some explanation as to how Twemly was still alive and kicking whereas Roodles got trampled to death by a startled horse.

‘Sir?’ Hawkings asked, looking to the east.

‘Speak Hakwings,’

‘Are we expecting air support?’

‘No, why?’

‘It looks like we’re getting some.’ Hawkings replied. A winged horse was always a sight to behold. Five of them flying in formation was something else. Set against the thick grey cloud above, they cut gracefully through the air, swooping lower over No Man’s Land. There was a crackle of gun fire from the German lines, to which the flyers responded in kind. They also appeared to be dropping grenades as the rhythmic exchange of rifle shot was punctuated by the abrupt thuds of explosions. Hawkings could just about hear the whistles from other trenches, followed by the wild calls of other soldiers just like him.

‘Well, let’s go then!’ Mather commanded. Hawkings felt the familiar ice touch of fear threaten to consume him. With a sharp intake of breath, he vaulted over the top of the trench and ran.

Odd Socks and Odder Questions

I recently posted on how I was made redundant after working very hard on a piece of work expected to generate many leads for the company I worked for. It was very funny and went off on a tangent about how the Crash Bandicoot game is now far too hard to be enjoyable and, in some ways, it was a metaphor for the human condition. I would link to it so you could read it for yourself, but I had to delete it. After the euphoria of completing any creative endeavour that you’re proud of ebbs, you’re left with more clarity. That pride was rapidly sapped away as I came to the conclusion that swearing at a former employer and linking to their incompetence (a trait that seems all too common in positions of authority) probably wouldn’t endear me to future employers. I say I came to this conclusion; I sent it to a good friend of mine expecting her to respond ‘hah, you’re so funny, eloquent and sexy. It’s baffling that you are old bitter and alone.’

She didn’t say that.

‘Do you want another job?’ she asked.

‘No,’ I replied.

‘Okay, do you want to be homeless?’

‘Home is where the heart is, and my heart is an empty receptacle – nay it is a sieve. No matter what I try to fill it with it drains once again to an empty state.’

‘Will you stop with your suffering poet act? You’re not nearly talented or rich enough to get away with it.’

‘Fine, I’ll delete it.’

So, you’ll just have to take my word for it: it was funny.

My life now largely consists of getting up, dredging the plastic polluted depths of the job market, half-heartedly applying for new positions to take over my life and crush my spirit, checking the fridge to see if it’s magically refilled itself and then repeating the endless cycle.

The worst thing about being made redundant is other people’s concern. “Are you okay? What are you going to do?” They ask, as if losing a job is akin to being diagnosed with some rare blood disease. The second question is incredibly irksome, as it’s pretty obvious what I’m going to do. I’m going to get another job.

I don’t understand why people ask it.

Well, I was thinking of training to be a cobbler, smuggling myself across the channel and setting up shop in a small village in the south of France. There I will marry a beautiful French poet. We’ll drink cheap wine from the shoes I make as she recites poems, I have no hope in understanding, as I’m very dense when it comes to poetry… and I can’t speak French.

In fact, I’ve recently discovered I hate any question. Unless you can see a very basic and specific need for it. ‘Where is the library?’ for example is quite useful if you are in search of the library. My flatmate asking me ‘Why is there a sock in the hallway?’ is not such a question. Especially when he says it in an accusatory tone, as if I deliberately placed the offending sock there as part of some sinister scheme. Could he not have seen the sock and thought, as a reasonable person, “oh, there’s a sock in the hall. Must have been dropped there.” And moved on with his life? No, instead I have to become involved in some passive-aggressive discussion involving rogue socks.

Funnily enough, I spend a lot of my time, through no fault of my own, talking about socks. Like a psychologically healthy person, I don’t spend much time arranging or checking my socks, seeing as they’re going to be hidden by a shoe most of the day, which in turn will be hidden under a desk. There’s no reason why I should concern myself with my feet’s state of dress, seeing as very few people will look at them and even those that do should only be offering them the most cursory of glances.  And yet, I’m forever having to defend my character against defamatory statements from people whose minds just explode when they see someone wearing odd socks.

‘You couldn’t possibly be wearing odder socks!’ some say when I’m wearing one black one and one white one. I don’t think that’s true as I could be wearing one black one, and the other could be the severed head of an elephant. That would be odd.

But then again, I suppose that would call into question the definition of sock. So maybe, I’d be in the wrong there. The point is, I put on whatever socks happen to come out of the draw first. Socks are just there to avoid that horrible, hair raising feeling of foot against inner shoe. One thing I will bear in mind when I start my cobbling shop.

Another unnecessary question that gets under my skin and wriggles around is ‘do you know what I mean?’ It would be relevant if it was following the explanation of a complicated experiment to observe light acting as both a particle and a wave simultaneously, because then I could say ‘No, no I don’t know what you mean.’ And I’d probably get frustrated, seeing as I took a bite out of a physics book because I didn’t understand it and it made me feel stupid, so I had no choice but to confirm that feeling by attempting to eat the book.

It’s usually following a non-statement. ‘I thought that film could have been better in certain aspects. Do you know what I mean?’

‘Yes, I think I’m following that train of thought, complex as it is.’

Anyway, I’m struggling to get a job because, as can be seen, I lack the ability to focus.