Monday, 7 December 2009

Insecure Coffee

So there I was, noncholantly going about my business in Birkenhead on a wander, and I happened upon a coffee shop where I took the executive decision that my desire for caffeine must be quenched. So I went in and joined the queue to place my order. That's how I play the game, you see. Upon ordering my lucsiously over priced coffee, I paid the man, and he handed it to me saying 'be careful with the lid. It might be insecure.'

Now. Immediately this alarmed me. Never in my many years of existance had I ever even contemplated contemplating the awareness of drinks containers, and here I was being told that the lid of the one I had been handed was insecure. Many things crossed my mind. Did I have to stroke it often, and tell it that it mattered? Did I have to keep it on me at all times, and use it on all other take out coffees I consumed?

My next thought was that my weekend was probably a bit wild, and perhaps some sleep might be a good idea.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Sod off Christmas

Here we are, once again. dare I utter the dreaded 'C' word. It had completely slipped under my radar to be honest, until that Coca Cola advert that has been on every year since the year dot cropped up on the idiot box. And of course, there was the complete numpty I bumped into who uttered forth the joke 'Who is always full at Christmas, Mark? Well, the turkey of course, he is always stuffed!'. I'm not entirely sure I have ever said the word 'tosser' as loudly in my life.

But as much as I try and avoid it, now that we have turned the corner into December I guess I need to get it dealt with, including shopping, christmas cards, visiting relatives and abusing carol singers at my doorstep (although mercifully after the 'dressing gown malfunction' in 2005, these visits are now few and far between). Shopping is something I cannot bear at the very best of times. Like any typical man, I will only do it when absolutely necessary (i.e when there are no more clean boxer shorts left and I cant work out how to use the washing machine) and tend to do it with all the enthusiasm of a small child enduring a punishment. Christmas just exacerbates everything that I hate about shopping. For instance, staff in many stores have been Americanised to the point where they are visiously forced to say things like 'have a nice day' and 'come again soon' through grimaces, and I do feel for them at this time of year. Mostly they are made to wear rediculous hats that leave a pendulous testicular appendage flapping about at the side of their faces (much like a plush teabagging)and then are made to continue the aforementioned forced politeness. Last year I was met by a 'greeter' in one of the larger chain stores, and after a welcome from him with a rediculous amount of forced enthusiasm I swear I witnessed his dignity finally give up, pack its bags and exit him via a concealed exit on his face. It left behind it nothing but an empty stare into middle distance, and a gently undulating rocking motion in the once human shell.

Once you have got through the ordeal of actually entering the shops, you then have two things to master. The first being the battle royale between you and the blue rinse brigade, and attempting to block out the white noise of the screeching christmas songs bleeted out by the sarcastic tannoys ovehead. For the bloodshed and the carnage that ensues once you get into the moshpits that are the shopping isles, the tannoy might well be bleeting out some heroic war anthem, whilst we clamber about helplessly in slow motion. Old women with trolleys over the festive period quite simply take no prisoners whatsoever. Foolishly place a limb inbetween them and their shelved object of desire and Im afraid you can kiss it goodbye. Not even shin pads will save you here. A determinedly directed trolley with saga lout on the other end is no match four your week and feeble flesh and bones. And that's only the start of it. We havent even discussed what happens if you pick something off the shelf, it's the last one of them, and one of the clones needs it. Doesn't bear thinking about it.

Up and down the country on boxing day, men are staring out of living room windows cradling their heads in their hands, whispering painfully to loved ones 'you weren't there, man. You weren't there'. So while you women may scoff and mock us men who don't like you're shopping, think on this. It is like comparing the royal marines to conscripted rookies. You are evidently designed and thrive in these types of situations. This becomes our vietnam.

The Great Dumbing Down of 2009

Okay, first and foremost, let me say one thing. I am not entirely against the idea of the dumbing down of things, par se. If anyone, like me, has sat through an entire episode of QI with their mother having to explain every single joke and repartee exchanged in great detail, Im sure you will be left praying for them to do a willy joke just to give you a rest. Luckily, of late, we have had many television shows which even up this clever / dumb divide. In the same evening it is possible to watch University challenge (a quiz where the top brains from universities across the country plough the very depths of their information intensive brains to relay facts that many of us couldn't even wish to learn in 100 years)and a show called Hole in the Wall (the premise of which is that celebreties deeply pitted in obscurity stand still as a wall with a hole in the middle approaches them, and then they have to jump through the previously mentioned hole in the previously mentioned wall). Good stuff.

But the dumbing down of television is barely even the beginning of the problem. It is in every single aspect of our lives. I take, for example, the key, moving, and windswept statement made by Donald Rumsfeld, America's secretary of defence. (and bear in mind if you haven't heard it before, this is a direct and verbatim quote).

'There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know.'

Genius, I'm sure you will agree. The equivelent of saying something along the lines of 'we don't actually know anything, but the good thing is that we know that we don't know.' Military intelligence immediately demolished into a quivering oxymoron. And to make it just a little bit harder to bear, it seems this was a misguided attempt at referencing confucius, who I am sure you all know said 'To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge'. Not a world apart in context, but I cant help thinking Rumsfeld doesn't quite have the same 'gravitas', even though confucius probably wore a toga or a skirt or something.

We also have considerable dumbing down in this country's universities. Many would argue, however, that this was totally expected bearing in mind the 'higher education accessible to everyone' ethos. Let's admit it, we aren't all academics, and as such, we all accept our inate flaws. I didn't go to university, and as such chose to get a degree from 'the university of life' (undoubtedly just something that stupid people say. I can never imagine sitting talking to a millionaire business man who graduated Cambridge saying something along the lines of 'pfffft. Cambridge? I never went to no university, and look where it got me' whilst sitting wearing unmatching days of the week socks and half my face unshaved because my razor was blunt and couldn't afford new blades.) But how dismayed do you think I was, when I learned that Staffordshire University in 2000 proudly opened their doors to students wishing to read 'David Beckham studies'. Apparantly, it provided a module on the sociological importance of football to students taking sociology, sports science or media studies. PISS OFF!!!! This is dangerous grounds, people. This will inevitably just lead to academic inflation, so let us leave the academics to their university, and we shall go and watch Jeremy Kyle, or play with our crayons.