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#3 – The Death of Music

Perhaps I have made a mistake almost immediately. Perhaps number 3 should be “When people decide to write long lists of things they hate and then take so long to complete it that North Korea destroy the world before they have even reached #10”. Perhaps the time has come for me to hang up my hobnailed angerboots, put down my gun of vitriol, un-stab the unseen cloud of irritation that seems to cloud my every path.

The truth is, I haven’t been that angry recently. Well, not in any specifically-directed, coherent way, anyway. My recent anger has taken the form more of a general malaise than a focussed spew of tooth-shattering rage. I’m not going to misleadingly paint you a picture of a reformed gentleman, whistling his merry way down the sunny side of a cobbled street, handing out sweets to the young neighbourhood children – partly because this is now an arrestable offence – but still, all things considered, I’ve been fairly cheerful. I almost smiled the other day.

Smile!

“I love Mondays”

Unfortunately, a rule in life tends to be that if you stick your head up above the fog for too long, a seagull is going to poo on your head. In my case, the poo in which I have been recently covered is a musical poo. Not as novelty as you might expect, I’m afraid. It still smells bad. If I put my finger in it and give it a lick, it still tastes pretty awful. And if it happens in the middle of a crowded street, I still need to flee, red-faced, muttering “Oh, for God’s SAKE” under my breath repeatedly. Yes, that’s right. An extremely pooey poo.

I don’t like self-righteous, arrogant pseudo-folk – a subgenre represented by Frank Turner. I have no time for self-fellating, psychological-meltdown teen-idol gibberish – patented by Britney Spears, most “admirably” stepped up a few units of irritation by Justin “phallus-head” Bieber and Miley “chlamydia incubation device” Cyrus.  I am certainly not endeared in any way to sexual-assault banterpop or its sister genre, gangster rap…e (see R. Kelly, Robin Thicke and an all-star cast of angry, tracksuit-wearing miscreants shouting bad “poetry” loudly in to microphones at staged parties, while surrounded by gyrating crack-whores with dead, dead eyes). And as for One Direction… I’d rather vote Tory than ever hear of them again.

cameron cunt

“I will shoot Harry Styles right in the face if you vote for me.”

What has happened to the world? Generations of youth swept away on an unnervingly quickening tide of time, to be replaced with the musical equivalent of join-the-dots. The legacy of the 60s and 70s – The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Hendrix, Dylan, The Kinks, Clapton – through the 80s and 90s, glittering with gems as bright as Queen, Jacko, Sabbath, Metallica, Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, anything Dave Grohl has ever done, and, of course the mighty and transcendental Toto… all this has been confined to the archives, sealed away in a cage somewhere in a library (what’s one of those?) to gather dust, as our ears are overrun with dirge until, in an evolutionary change fitting of a very bad horror movie, the children of tomorrow are born without ears as our genes realise that deafness holds a much higher chance of survival than being constantly exposed to the brain-melting musical acid that is known today as “Nicki Minaj”.

the children

Maybe, somewhere out there is an adolescent who will read this. If that is you, young “Hashtag Dollar-Sign LOLington-Smythe”, please read my words of warning. Go back to the roots of your ancestors and write something with actual music in it. And guitars. Guitars are good. If you don’t, you will be personally responsible for humans ceasing to have ears. And what’s worse is that this mass ear exodus will almost certainly result in our once-essential and seemingly-benevolent, flappy bits of head skin retreating to the sea to form a master race of giant, amphibious ear people, and they will surely have their grim vengeance on the world that has forced them to swap being squashed up against pillows for the bed of a litter-filled ocean. When this happens – and it definitely will – the only sound left will be the sound of this grumpy old bastard saying “I told you so” (except nobody will hear it, because… oh, right, you get it).

 

I fear for you all.

 

Still, at least I’m angry again. Every cloud and all that.

ear attack

“I’m, er… watching you”

 

Simon

 

 

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#2 – Don’t you know how to talk proper, like?

I hate change. Suffice to say, puberty was not an easy time. I have come to believe of late that even the most erratic and impulsive of folk do in fact embrace some level of routine-steeped life, whether it be a set bedtime, a plan of the week’s meals or even “touch-oneself-o’clock”.  However, it would be something of a damp squib to devote part of my Sunday to writing about the trials and tribulations of that horrible moment when live Sport lasts longer than expected (resulting in the earth-shatteringly cataclysmic cancellation of ugly orange-faced posh people guffawing smugly at inanimate objects for 30 sodding minutes), so I won’t. Instead, I’m going to focus my twitchy anger on changes in language and, more specifically, why in gibbering ARSE it has become the norm to be as articulate or literate as a drunk parakeet with a toy shovel in its head.

5pm

Technically, this means that I NEVER have to stop masturbating

It isn’t just the old favourites. Don’t get me wrong though; Your / You’re and There / Their / They’re errors bring me out in a rash. It’s more the regression of language, the slide in to the lingual abyss, the inability to wear trousers that fit properly. Grammatically. I hear “could of”, “should of” and “would of”, I endure “irregardless”, “pronounce-iation” and “expresso”, my skin turns inside out and suffocates me half to death when I hear “LOL”, “OMG” and the dreaded “Literally”. I mean, what do people think this is? SPANISH? Wash your malapropic mouths out with minty word juice and then pick your teeth with a damned sharp apostrophe, the lot of you. But don’t you DARE attempt to retrieve said toothpick from a possessive pronoun (unless it happens to be “one’s”).

slide_5260_72230_large

Apparently the “price” doesn’t cover English lessons

I read an article in Metro recently. (The mere sound of those words leave the smell of rotting relative clauses lingering in the air like a language fart, so appalling is the overall standard of English found within). It was a piece on the evolution of slang or, as I’d prefer to call it, “how to decipher the moronic, structureless grunts of children”. Have a look at the picture below, but DON’T count the number of words that you actually understand. Instead, say them out loud to a friend and then you can both have a massive laugh at how unbelievably incapable other people are. Then go outside and punch a teenager. Punch some English back in to them. (NB: Don’t punch a foreign teenager and then use the previous sentence as an excuse, unless you’re fond of the EDL).

slang-graphic

 

I’ve almost finished now, but I’d like to leave you with a brief lesson. Next time you are subjected to a barrage of blarney, a deluge of drivel or a tirade of tittishness, please redirect the offending numskull to the below. It may save a life one day. Theirs. (NOT BLOODY THEIR’S).

Part 1: Your / You’re

“Your” is possessive, meaning it is used when indicating that something belongs to “you” (whoever that is).
Example: Your command of the English language is nothing short of atrocious. Get a grip, you arse.

“You’re” is an abbreviation of “you are”.
Example: You’re a poorly educated, ill-informed, illiterate moron. Avaunt, and quit my sight!

Part 2: There / Their / They’re

“There” is an adverb, usually indicating location or place.
Example 1: Look over there; it’s an English person with little command of his native language. See how his knuckles scrape against the floor.
Example 2: There is NO SODDING APOSTROPHE after that word, Angelica darling. I’m sorry I hit you. It’s for your own good.

Part 3: LOL / ROFL / OMG / BFF

These are NOT WORDS.
Example 1: Yes, your honour. I freely admit to using my favourite Thesaurus to brutally murder a young lady on the bus who I had overheard exclaiming “LOL” to her friend.

Part 4: Apostrophes.

Apostrophes are used to signify possession, meaning that the following noun belongs to the person / pronoun to which the apostrophe is attached. They are NOT required after plurals, nor are they necessary after “it”, unless you want to say “it is”. They are also used to abbreviate “is” or “has”.
Example 1: Simon’s fountain pen plunged in to Andrew’s heart, for he knew that to hear but one more misused personal pronoun would surely send him quite mad.
Example 2: A: “What’s happened to him? Is he…dead?” B: “I believe he’s split his last infinitive, yes.”
Example 3: His injuries, extensive as they were, were caused by a multitude of misspellings. (NOT “misspelling’s).

Part 5: Borrow / Lend

If you borrow something, you take it from somebody for a limited period of time, after which it is (usually) returned. If you lend something, then you give it temporarily to somebody else. You can NOT say:

“Can I lend a pen?”
“Can you borrow me ten pounds?”
“Can I have a lend of your tampon?”

Instead, say this:

“Can I borrow a pen?”
“Can you lend me ten pounds?”
“Can I borrow your tampon?”

Cleared that up? Good. Now bugger off.

Simon

english-grammar-on-signs-13

Some threat, that.

 

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My Room 101 – A Labour of Hate

Before I begin, I would like to draw your attention to an EXTREMELY IMPORTANT WORD. Please remember it for later.

Atrocity – /əˈtrɒsətɪ/ a.tro.ci.ty (noun, countable)

1. Appalling or atrocious condition, quality, or behaviour; monstrousness.
2. Behaviour or an action that is wicked or ruthless
3. The fact or quality of being atrocious

When I find myself tuning in to the immaculately coiffed reporters of doom, gloom and celebrity gossip that are “The Newsreaders”, they often use the above word when referring to war crimes, terrorism and British weather.  They are, of course, unarguably (and equally) correct in their usage of the word in all three instances. However, in doing so I can’t help but feel that they overlook the need for its continued and everyday usage, for the sad fact, ladies and gentlemen, is that I experience atrocities EVERY SINGLE DAY. I only need to step out on to a road to find my senses bombarded, beaten and bullied by tiny little atrocities, living openly like bacteria upon a vast array of breathbags, brain-morons and all-round irritating little cretins worldwide. Put quite simply, I am having a clandestine hate-affair with the whole world.

ANNOYING
Simon was never readmitted to the Halitosis Anonymous group

Stop reaching for that straitjacket, Mother. I realise that not all of you are going to have been immediately convinced, which is precisely the reason that I have decided to start a little (ish) project, entitled “Room 101 – A Labour of Hate”.

It would appear that the “blog” section of this site is swiftly being transformed in to a personal crusade to win a place in your hearts as your second favourite hate preacher (after Abu Hamza – he is definitely more cuddly), so I may as well go the whole hog and embrace this as a fact to be celebrated. Taking the idea of popular BBC TV series Room 101 (but with a twist), I have decided to write 101 short pieces, each addressing a new atrocity – not a “Trevor McDonald atrocity”, but one that you yourselves may encounter from day to day. Perhaps this collection of musings will serve as a warning, so that you can be ever-vigilant of the unspeakable crimes that lie a matter of feet from you – on the other side of a supermarket shelf, round the corner of a crowded street, or on Track 9 of that utterly appalling CD that you’re about to cram nonchalantly in to your pocket noise-maker. DON’T DO IT!

Or perhaps you could simply upload pictures of your own faeces-covered rear end and then use this section (or any other) of my blog as virtual, pixellated toilet paper. I would be delighted with either outcome.

Hug Me!
                                    “Hug Me!”

Expect edition #1 of my anger-filled ranting to follow forthwith. Oh, and here is some appropriately rage-filled music, courtesy of a man who has spent his career being outwardly furious at being named after a river that flows through Nottingham: Trent Reznor.

Simon

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BP 180/110 and Counting

Somewhere, deep within the bowels of my brain – a metaphor that might go some way toward explaining why I talk so much shit – lies a switch. I like to think of it as being incredibly difficult to flick, kind of like a bogey with legs. Unfortunately, I have been reliably informed that I am wrong.

The switch to which I am referring to is embossed with the word “RAGE”. We all have one. Mine is either faulty or the size of a fist. A really angry fist with the word “hate” tattooed across its furious knuckles. In my experience, there are a number of things in life that, completely understandably of course, reach their horrendous little fingers out, insert them in to my ear and jab the switch repeatedly like particularly invasive q-tips. I’ve already vitriolically hammered my thoughts on a couple of these hideous little anger-goblins on to a keyboard here http://simonrichardsonenglish.com/2012/11/22/asbo/ and here http://simonrichardsonenglish.com/2012/12/11/christmas/. Well, they say that pent-up balls of maniacal aggression come in threes…

Anger Goblin

The Green Goblin of Apostrophe Misuse

‘I’ve got a bike, I can ride it how I like…’

It’s a glorious, sunny day. If you’re reading this from Southern Europe, South-East Asia, Australasia, most of North America, South America, Africa, The Middle East or any country where English is not the first language, this means it’s cold, but it isn’t raining. If you visit RIGHT NOW (just for one day mind), I can all but guarantee you that you might not immediately die from Pneumonia as soon as you get off the plane. Of course, if you’re a Muslim the EDL might stab you, but at least you wouldn’t be freezing cold. Anyway, I’m British, so when I catch a glimpse of the sun I’m practically naked within 5 seconds (strange how an enormous ball of fire can have the exact same effect on the male population as Scarlett Johansson, isn’t it?) and I take to the streets for a delightful little stroll through central Oxford. How quaint. Or it ought to be at any rate, but within two minutes I meet the first perilous obstacle of my aimless little waddle: a ROAD. That I need to CROSS. Fortunately, J.P Knight, and later, Leslie Hore-Belisha came up with excellent  methods of facilitating this: Traffic Lights and Pedestrian Crossings. Comforted, perhaps complacent, I approach one of these marvellous and apparently COMPLETELY UNHEARD OF inventions and press the little button. And, after a little wait, the little red man becomes a little green man and happy little me can cross the little road and potter along happily to…..”DING DING WHAT THE FUUUUUUUU&%*$%&” As if from nowhere, like a ringwraith for the modern day, a lycra-wearing lunatic comes steaming straight through the red light / over the pedestrian crossing, a look of determination on his face seen thirty minutes earlier when trying to cram himself in to an outfit meant for athletes, or at the very least people who don’t resemble the blob from Blade that gets burnt to death by a UV ray. Take note, fatties. Wear anything other than a tent with sleeves and I will come at you with blue lightbulbs.

Bradley

Following stage 8 of the Tour de France, 
Bradley Wiggins removes his yellow jersey
and breathes out

Revenge is a dish best served on foot

It’s like a lottery. A really dangerous lottery only played by idiots. So, a lottery then. They appear from nowhere at speed, swerving unpredictably in front of livid bus drivers, resembling enormous flies evading a swatter. Stopping for nothing and nobody, caught up in the smug complacency that no number plate or other identifying mark adorns their metal chariot with which to locate or fine them, single-mindedly focused on the titanic task of getting from point A to point B without stopping or slowing down, lest their entire being loses its pedally sense of rhythm and spontaneously combusts. I can feel my blood pressure rising just from writing this paragraph. One day I will turn the tables. I’ll casually walk along the pavement in a logical, straight line until a cyclist passes, and then deviate completely illogically in to the road, knocking them from their vehicle. I’ll then beat the absurd engineless motorbike to death with my bare hands and rip its damned spokey-dokeys off (Did I mention that I’m currently imagining myself destroying a six-year-old’s bike from 1989?). That’ll level the playing field. Cyclists beware. Pedestrians are striking back, one broken bone at a time.

Bike

When the police arrived on scene,
Budgie was already dead.

The alternative is that Patrick McLoughlin reads this blog, and makes the following changes post-haste:

  • Number plates on all bicycles, or mandatory identity jackets as seen worn by Colombian motorcyclists
  • On the spot fines for cyclists who don’t follow the highway code / wear a helmet
  • Enable wronged pedestrians or motorists to legally strangle perpetrators to death in the middle of the street while humming the theme tune to Shaft

Job done.

Conclusion

I realise that this is going to tally up against me somewhat. I have already asserted in no uncertain terms that riding on a train is definitely what I’ll be doing on repeat in hell (if such a place exists).  I’ve now followed it up by tearing in to bicycles like a live manifestation of rust, but much faster acting. It looks bad, but I’m not actually a mediaeval farmer in disguise. I’m not terrified of the concept of, or even plainly anti-transport. I’m also not the kind of gibbering loon who would demand that the wheel be placed in Room #101. In fact, what I’ve come to realise is it’s not the train’s fault. It’s also not the bicycle’s fault. No. The fault, quite clearly, lies with all of YOU. The people who turn them from innocent little inanimate objects in to wheely whirly nightmares. So, I’m going to suggest that humanity is tossed nonchalantly in to the mythical BBC pit – though recent revelations seem to indicate that an underground lair full of hateful things housed within BBC headquarters, may in fact be more plausible than originally thought. Call in Tony Robinson and Time Team. They’ll get to the bottom of it (and then have to stay there, in accordance with my condemnatory wishes).

Tony

“ARGH! Savile’s got a hold of my leg….”

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This new-fangled thing called the “Worldwide Web”

It’s Wednesday. If you’re a bespectacled Kiwi, this means that ‘tonight is the night that we make love’. But I’m not in New Zealand. In fact, I’ve never even been, despite it effectively being a giant country-shaped rugby stadium in the middle of the sea. Instead, I’m sitting in my bedroom in Oxford. Well, when I say “sitting” I actually mean “crouching in the corner of a dark room wearing a coat hanger covered in tinfoil for a hat, gibbering poppycock about the Wars of the Roses to the wall”. Why, you ask? Why is this otherwise entirely sane gentleman of repute acting in such a way that might have him mistaken for a rabid Justin Bieber fan?

The length of....time you'll have to wait to see Justin Bieber

I’ll tell you, but ONLY you. You see, the Internet did it.

Cast your minds back, if you will, to the dim and distant past. The internet was in its infancy. Facebook, Twitter and the seminal Roundabout Appreciation Society hadn’t even been roughly conceived in the back of a Ford Transit yet. And, across the world, perplexed parents are speaking to their mothers on their landline telephones, when suddenly “BRRRRRRRRRRR…EEEEEEEEEEEEE….B-DN B-DN B-DN” – a noise that could only be described as similar to what happens when Q*BERT flushes the toilet after a long day lighting up cubes drowns out their fawning agreements and tiresome eye-rolling. It’s happened. Their children are connecting to “The World Wide Web”, futuristic land of pixellated paedophiles and pornography involving wallpaper and horses. “Say it ain’t so!” they cry. But so it was. And is. And forever shall darn well be. Thankfully, they just sigh, apologise, reach for the plug and…..”click”. Silence. Disconnected.

Qbert

So there was a time, you see, when the www’s and the http’s could be rationed. It was considered a routine request that the internet be “disconnected” so that homework could be completed, chores done or pets fed. However, let’s fast-forward a few years to the present day and try and conceptualise the same request, as presented to today’s snarling, square-eyed picture of youth. I believe it would go something like this:

Father: “Mike, it’s time for tea! Come downstairs and… OH MY GOD… I…er…I…”

Son: “Dad! Oh my God, what are you doing! You can’t just come… I was, er… I was just looking at this…er…”

Father: “OK OK OK, enough, I’ll be, er…. just… tea’s ready, come downstairs please”

Son: “OK just… SHUT THE DOOR! I’ll, yeah, OK…”

Not a pretty picture.

Cup

I digress. The point is that the internet is omnipresent, omnipotent, omnivorous; it literally devours everything it touches – meat or vegetable. Everything that was once perfectly happy living a 3-dimensional, oxygen-breathing life has now been absorbed into “the all-powerful internet”, a place so backward that it contains sites where “following” people is encouraged rather than illegal. Books are online, jobs are online, I even overheard my family talking about taking my Grandmother offline the other day. I was incensed. How dare they upload members of my own family without even informing me?! Is she available on USB? Can I “share” her with my friends? So many questions…

Nan

All this madness brings about the question: what happens if, amongst this, you suddenly find yourself deprived of the internet for a length of time?

And so I bring you back to my current reality, chewing on nails and spiders’ legs while shivering under a blanket made of my own toenail clippings. Ladies and Gentlemen, I HAVE NO INTERNET. If I say this in public, I imagine I will be stared at while mothers  usher their children away from me and preachers flick stagnant water over my face. I am impure! Unclean! Disconnected from the internet; disconnected from life. It isn’t fair. Imagine what would have happened if Jack Bauer had said “Chloe! I need satellite coverage of the hostile’s vehicle NOW!” and he had got the reply: “Sorry Jack, Internet’s down. Apparently someone from Virgin Media will be round in two Monday’s time, between 1 and 6 and can she have the first line of your address and postcode, please?”

What

I need help.

Missing: One “Internet”.

Size: Both minuscule and unfathomably huge.

Answers to: “BRRRRRRRRRRR…EEEEEEEEEEEEE….B-DN B-DN B-DN”

REWARD: MY ETERNAL GRATITUDE AND (WHAT IS LEFT OF) MY FRAGILE SANITY

You know where to find me.

Simon

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“Mum… MUM! I think the planet’s dead!”

I hope that you all appreciate this. I’m hunched over, bottom lip firmly clamped over nose, taking valuable time out from the last day on earth to write about the last day on… yes. Well. My nonetheless valid point is that I deserve recognition for this selfless act. Of course, the painful agony of this is that the earth is about to be eaten by Godzilla, meaning that my long overdue Nobel prize will remain undelivered. Damn you, Gorilla-Whale. Anyway, while rocketing through my bucket list at a speed that would give Morgan Freeman an epileptic fit, I have had time to pause and reflect on the cold hard facts that form the undeniable truth that is the forthcoming apocalypse.

Marlon Harewood's Bad Hair Day 20.12.12

The Mayans

I feel compelled to begin by stating that I have never in fact met a Mayan. However, I have been told that the 21st of December represents the end of a 5125-year cycle in their calendar. This is terrifying news, but it DOES allow me to draw the following highly educated conclusions about their ancient society with some degree of confidence and authority:

  1. Their calendars were ludicrously expensive.
  2. They used rhinoceros horns embedded in to their walls to hang said calendars, which made a mess of their kitchen wallpaper.
  3. They are responsible for most species of rhinoceros being endangered today.
  4. Mayan Teenagers’ calendars contained an eye-watering amount of airbrushed soft pornography.
  5. This resulted in Mayan males having abnormal asymmetries in their wrist sizes.
  6. Mayan females liked to plan things an awfully long way ahead.
  7. Except for counting numbers after 20.12.2012

Hot Mayan Nurses

ARE YOU SCARED YET????? I start trembling and have to hide behind a pillow whilst sobbing quietly in to a bucket of my own sick EVERY NEW YEAR (although I have been told that this is actually affected by alcohol consumption rather than doomsday-phobia). All the same, imagine the state the Mayans must be in right this second, after stacking up 5125 New Years in to one night. I can’t even begin to imagine how one would go about dressing in 5125 different fancy dress costumes at once, let alone sing Auld Lang Syne 5125 times. The mind boggles.

The Music

Whilst there is no denying the quality of both The Beatles and Nirvana separately, the combining of two powerful forces such as these has no doubt confirmed that Armageddon is upon us. It doesn’t matter that 50% of them are dead, or that Paul McCartney has been melted by his own smuggery leaving only a magic singing toupee behind, the facts CAN NOT BE IGNORED. Strongly backing up this argument are musical collaborations such as Madonna and Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Chris Brown and Iggy Pop and that staggering mountain of wildebeest turd with a dollar sign in her name. The mysterious release of a single called “Scream to high buggery” by Ban$hee on this very date has almost certainly swayed it for me.

Ke$ha is Swamped by Fans

The Guys with the Signs

I mean, they seem so sure this time, right? Undeterred by the previous 74 occasions on which they have been proven to merely be the kind of people who twitch on buses, stare intently at geese and sniff bridges, the placard-wearing brigade have once again taken to the streets in force, sporting everyone’s favourite judgement day slogans:

  1. “The End is Nigher”
  2. “Get your tissues for the second coming”
  3. “It’s not the end of the… OH WAIT”
  4. “I’ll NOT be back”

I’m pretty sure I also spotted a group of students near the back too, but their signs said “NOW will you legalise it??”

A-DOH-CALYPSE

They Killed Sir Patrick Moore

I don’t know who “they” is, but television has recently told me that Sir Patrick Moore was the only man in the entire world to have owned a telescope. Now nobody can see Godzilla coming. We are all surely doomed.

Conclusion

So it’s almost time for me to bid you adieu. The final curtain, the last hoorah. As Edith Piaf, a woman who could be transformed from a midget in to the tallest woman in the world through careful ironing, once warbled: “Je ne regrette rien…”

BUT WAIT!! An epiphany! Maybe all is not in fact lost! Remove the knife from your mother in-law’s throat, put your pants back on and return that Bugatti to its owner very, very quietly. And, for those of you just about to seal the airlock on your cryogenic chambers, first ponder over these three crucial, life-changing facts:

  • It’s already 21.12.2012 in Australia, so even if the end of the world is coming, at least they died first.
  • One of the four horsemen of the apocalypse recently received a six-month ban for the presence of a “prohibited substance” in his blood and is therefore unavailable for selection.
  • Kim Jong-Un’s fingers are too fat to press the big shiny red button on his massive mahogany desk.

FRANKIE DETTORI - DEFINITELY NOT A COKEHEAD

Simon

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‘Tis the Season

Hurrah! Huzzah! Brobdignag! We should all be sickeningly congratulatory, stand around in large circles and laugh heartily in rounds (until the laughter awkwardly fades away like that bit in Austin Powers).

Why, you ask?

“Well, it’s Christmas! You see that?! WE did that!!” Except….

It will come as no surprise to those of you unfortunate to know me that I dislike Christmas intensely. I wake up every December 25th with what psychiatrists specialising in providing an entirely unwanted supportive ear to hormonal teenagers will come to refer to as “an utterly stonking grump on”. Do you remember that time when Fred Durst nonchalantly flung strands of his pubic hair, 15 stone of lard and a dead clown in to a Play-Doh pasta machine and then furiously turned the handle, grinding away until, eventually, the band Staind popped out? Yes? Well, even more miserable than them.

StaindPlay-Doh

I have reasons which conveniently divide themselves in to two kinds:

  1. Poignant and Genuine
  2. Strange

I won’t ruin the surprise by telling you which of these will form the focus of the remainder of this post. Call it my Christmas gift to you all. Don’t thank me.

Drum Roll……………

1) Snow

On Christmas Day, 1941, Bing Crosby, via radio, released a version of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” so covered in treacle that a morbidly obese man, unable to beat hunger away with his giant back-scratcher until Turkey o’clock promptly devoured it. No known copy of the original broadcast exists. Undeterred, Crosby, who was later scientifically proven to have the most punchable face in human history, re-released it via the eye-wateringly terrible film, Holiday Inn. The following SUMMER. Such was the power of his dream of a white Christmas, that a terrified God invented snow almost immediately after, and that was that. Boy, did HE have egg on his face when he realised that Crosby had being singing about class ‘A’ narcotics all along.

The obsession with snow in this country is ludicrous. I have actually witnessed real adults flapping their wings with joy and utter disbelief when they discover that THERE IS ICE FALLING FROM THE SKY. All well and good, don’t get me wrong. But then, almost inevitably with us Brits, the complaining starts.

“It’s COOOOOOOOOOLD!” “It’s really sliiiiiippyyyyyy!” “My snowman looks like a fat Grand Imperial Wizard and it’s scaring the nice Nigerian family next door!”

KKK Snowman

Chaos ensues. The country literally goes in to meltdown (no pun intended).  People are unable to leave their houses and go to work for fear of the annual plague of Yetis, drivers reduce their speeds to 10mph (whilst still driving three inches from the rear of the car in front) and pensioners all across the UK start dropping dead in protest.

So my message about snow to you all, as you shield yourself from a barrage of suspiciously yellow-coloured snowballs hurled by the children across the way, is this:

It’s all Bing Crosby’s fault.

Bing

2) The “family meal”

Q: What’s the blandest, dullest, most depressing kind of meat in the world?

The answer of course is Andy Murray. But we can’t all eat him. Oh no. So, we use an unbelievably complex mathematical principle to calculate the optimum number of drunk, hat-wearing lunatics that comfortably fit around a dinner table, add seventeen, then sit in anticipation of the world’s second blandest, second dullest, second most depressing kind of meat, Turkey.

Turkeys were introduced to Britain by William Strickland upon his return from America in 1542. This was during the reign of King Henry VIII, an exceptionally fat man, who was pant-wettingly excited about the fact that turkeys were bigger than geese. He started eating them and, being as he was in no way an enormous pain in the posterior, he never once threatened death upon those who did not support and facilitate the breeding of these animals. ALTERNATIVELY…

Henry VIII

So here we are, picking disdainfully at our turkey while frantically clock-watching, beads of anticipatory sweat dripping from our brows as if our very juices are trying to make a break for it and save themselves, when things take a dramatic turn for the worse. How wrong D:Ream were with their 1993 prediction, because, that’s right, it’s time for Christmas crackers. I can’t adequately describe a cracker in a way that fully portrays its unbearable crapness. Fortunately, Wikipedia can. I would like you to read the following while imagining it being narrated by the blandest, dullest, most depressing kind of meat in the world:

‘A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. The cracker is pulled by two people, and, much in the manner of a wishbone, the cracker splits unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang or snapping sound produced by the effect of friction on a chemically impregnated card strip (similar to that used in a cap gun). One chemical used for the friction strip is silver fulminate, which is highly unstable.’

Brilliant.

But wait? What’s that inside the cracker? Is it…. a joke??? Could things be looking up???

HILARIOUS joke

What follows this is laughter so forced that it can only be replicated on any other day by attending a Russell Howard stand-up routine. Not to mention the fact that I was absolutely positive that the answer to that joke was “Chuck Norris”.

Fortunately, I have a solution to this part of “The Christmas Problem”, the instructions to which are below:

  1. Unfurl “joke”.
  2. Pretend to read it, concentrate very hard on Russell Howard, and then make laughy noises.
  3. Instead of reading it, pretend to read it while instead telling a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT JOKE that is ACTUALLY FUNNY.
  4. Apologise to your grandparents.

Works every time. I call it “How not to be invited to your own house on Christmas Day”.

3) Jesus

Let me get this straight. I’m eating turkey, wearing a stupid hat and sitting twelve centimetres away from my Grandmother’s cleavage because there was once a story of a wizard baby who grew up, drank too much and enjoyed a “bit of a dabble” with a prostitute? Who does he think he is? Angus Deayton?

Angus Deayton

Two Weeks Later…..

Margaret, mother of two, has given up. The strain of Christmas has ripped her soul in to tiny, tinsel-covered shreds. She’s had more visitors than she could shake a stick at, and they have harassed, demanded, niggled, gibed, annoyed, baited, bothered, badgered, hassled, heckled and hounded her in to submission. Not only that, but she’s had turkey sandwiches, turkey risotto, turkey stir fry, turkey stew and turkey curry. Turkey is actually coming out of her eyeballs. She even called the President of Turkey to see if he could assist. He could not. Defeated and a shell of a woman, she wearily trudges across the new lino that was given to her as a present by her dreadful Mother-in-Law, opens the bin and…

“What about the starving children in Africa, Mummy?”

Spanking

The moral of the story is that Christmas also directly causes child abuse. I rest my case.

Simon

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The Inevitable (A career path devoid of responsibility)

I would like to thank and apologise to my Mother in equal measures for this short story…

I can hear the sun. It’s telling me drag myself from my pit and go outside. Honestly. It’s a lovely day. The problem is, it’s November. I am far too worldly wise to fall for that one. So, with the option of venturing more than 40 feet from my bedroom very clearly ruled out, I’ve slithered in to action. In this case, action involved making coffee and then going back to bed. Now here I am, shiny new web page, very exciting, I am a force of creative…bugger.

I am not a good student. I have a woefully short attention span and am prone to quite severe bouts of verbal diarrhoea. All this has, I imagine, not just made my recent decision to study for a DELTA intensively (more on that later) a skipping, whooping joy for all my classmates, but also means that I can more than adequately fulfil all the clichés of being a teacher by being gleefully hypocritical. What this also means, inevitably, is that I am now sitting here wondering what I should write. No, scratch that. I’m ACTUALLY thinking about Morrison’s High Juice. It’s extremely tasty, you see.

I am truly a lost cause. Relegate me to the back of the blogger’s class. Backs of classes are for doodling, absent-minded tapping and the insertion of index fingers in to an eye-popping number of orifices. Sadly enough, I am, if I say so myself, pretty damn talented at all of the above. So, with almost inevitable irony, my own profligacy and complete unteachability has led me to that self same fork in the road encountered by the Russian knight, and I have chosen, as I often tend to, to ride to the right and lose my head. Robert Frost will insist that I am in a yellow wood, but I’m not. I’m at my Mother’s house in an excruciatingly posh suburban town, hunched up in my sheetless bed, drinking coffee and waffling desperately on to a page that 99.9% of the world will never set eyes on.  Nevertheless, my fork in the road has led me to this point, a 28 year old teacher who, after four years of deliberating, cogitating and digesting to a level that would surely make Lloyd Grossman vomit, has taken the plunge in to the realm of getting a “proper qualification” and “committing to a career”. Wouldn’t my Mother be proud? Well, maybe not, seeing as I just referred to her town as excruciatingly posh. Sorry Mum.

DELTA is hard. If you are blissfully unaware of this acronym, just stop reading. Seriously, shoo. You are time-wasting to a level that even I can not aspire to, and I currently have a pencil inserted somewhere unspeakable. Still here? Right. DELTA is hard. I have essentially bankrupted myself in order to spend eight weeks practising my profession for free, while a smattering of teaching oracles poke me to see if I bruise. Then, every evening, I have gone home and discovered that, contrary to popular belief, books do actually bite. To outsiders, I may appear to be going to extreme lengths to ensure that my own native language becomes a form of personal torture, but, given my afore-mentioned goldfish-sized attention span and the fact that this career is not financially rewarding until a level 7 qualification is achieved, the decision to cram a 9 month course in to 8 weeks as if I were a WAG stuffing my suitcase full of fake tan in preparation for 3 nights in Magaluf, is actually the correct one to have taken. What is more, and this part is almost as shocking to me as the appalling demise of “good music”, I appear to be nearing the end of the course unscathed, fulfilled, enlightened and unnervingly motivated. I have enjoyed the last four years of work immensely and am genuinely looking forward to a career in TEFL. What has happened to me? Am I becoming an adult? Am I shedding the pimpled skin of my youth, forever replacing it with the wizened skin of experience? Am I… a nerd? It was not always this way.

I didn’t so much as choose to become a teacher as I did fall in to it, and I didn’t so much fall in to it as I did stagger, sway and ultimately tumble in to it with my tongue hanging out and my trousers round my ankles. Inevitably, my CV reads more like a scrapbook than a logical and sensible progression, the kind of collaborative classroom presentation where it is painfully obvious that none of the collaborators actually agreed on anything, but they painstakingly completed the task because the teacher told them to. A call centre, a bank, a hospital and a warehouse walked in to two bars, and the barmen say “Seriously?” In one line, I can almost, but not quite, tell a joke about my CV pre-2008.  I obviously found this extremely amusing. However, my Mother (there she is again) did not.

So, one fine morning, I nonchalantly tore open an envelope displaying her distinctive italic script and was taken aback to see inside not a Guardian article about the dangers of excessive drinking, but a clipping from the very same newspaper about the ever-expanding universe of something called TEFL. Obviously, I threw it straight in the bin and went to work. It was only later that something started niggling, gnawing, eating away at the back of my mind like a persistent and apocalyptically powerful nit. Desperately unfulfilled and completely devoid of ideas, I vowed to rescue the now screwed-up clipping from its unenviable resting place of a student bin and actually give it a bit of thought. One thing of which I could be entirely certain, is that, despite being full to overflowing, the contents of the bin would not have been even so much as glanced at.

Making decisions has never been a strong point. So, deeply dissatisfied by this seemingly inseparable link between human existence and agency, I was instantly gratified beyond belief after reading Luke Rhinehart’s “The Dice Man”. The concept of assigning potential decisions that tackle the entire spectrum of possibilities – from the sublime to the utterly ridiculous – to an arbitrary medium seemed to be a shining beacon of light that pierced the darkness I had always perceived as mind-numbing sensibility. Of course, presenting this idea to a group of already wayward students embodied the stock tagline of theatrical farce throughout the ages: “…with hilarious consequences”. Inebriation, idiocy and irresponsibility in equal and generous amounts had ensued (all above board of course, Mum) and now here I was, actually contemplating making a pivotal life decision. Ironically, there was only one option, and that was the option of not to opt. So, I scanned my bedroom, located a half-chewed biro from underneath a disturbingly discoloured tissue, and wrote the following:

1 – Take Mum’s advice: apply for the CELTA

2- Stick at this job

3- Quit this job TODAY

4- Apply to go back to University

5- Ask for old job back

6- Buy a plane ticket to a country that will be decided by a further dice roll

Lucky dice cupped in my right hand, I shook it in the kind of manner that could easily have been mistaken by a passing sign language expert, and let it drop on to my impressively stained carpet, bounce, tumble, deviate and eventually come to rest…

The rest is not, as Hamlet would say, silence, but simply inevitability.