Monday, April 30, 2012

The Year Of The Bully

My oldest boy starts secondary school in September.

He seems well reconciled to it, helped by the fact he has been allocated a place at the school they he himself favoured above all others.

Weirdly, the school is built on the site of my old secondary school which was demolished and then redeveloped around 10 years ago, so when we attended the open evening at the end of last year it presented a strange kind of memory shock. I found myself looking out of the windows of classrooms that did not exist when I was last on this site to take in views that haven’t changed since I was a teenager.

That, coupled with apprehension for how my boy will cope with his first year at secondary school brought a lot of things back to me. Most of them not pleasant.

Because the first year at secondary school is always the worst.

It’s a big emotional peer-group jump from junior school to secondary school.

I know I struggled for the entire duration. I was emotionally immature and it took me until I was 17 to get to the same emotional and hormonal level as others who reached the same point by the time they were 13 or 14. It meant I was considered one of the weaker boys. I could never join the cool groups as we literally did not speak the same language or dream of the same things. While others were getting into The Smiths or whatever indie group was popular at the time I was unaware of the existence of anything outside of the BBC charts. While other boys talked lasciviously of what you were meant to do to make a girl come I was still too painfully shy to even say hello to a girl let alone ask one out on a date. While others talked of the kind of car they’d buy once they were old enough to drive I was still poring over the latest Lego catalogue to choose the set I wanted for Christmas.

Some might say nothing has changed.

I was never really what I would call “full on” bullied.

I was never done over for my lunch money. Never had my head flushed down the toilet or de-bagged in front of my classmates.

But I was very aware of the pecking order and how near to the bottom of it I was.

I got shoved. I got pushed. I got made fun of. I got talked over. Ignored. Laughed at. Sneered at.

A common misconception was that I came from a rich family.

I didn’t. We were totally working class. The reason my books and clothes were in such pristine condition was because I’d been brought up to look after things.

Because there was no replacing them if they got damaged.

We just didn’t have the money.

By the end of my time at secondary school I had made my peace with my enforced low social standing. It even gave me some bravado. I could talk back to the bullies without fear of being hurt because, as I pointed out, how would they look cool beating me up? They’d laugh and agree.

Respect of a kind.

I survived.

But you know what? Survival isn’t enough.

It took me years to get out of that “weaker than everybody else, bottom of the pile” mindset.

Even now, I have to shake it off on occasion when it sneaks up on me and attempts to take me over again.

I regret not standing up for myself more. I regret taking it on the chin and then offering my cheek too. I regret accepting without question the place my peers had consigned me to.

There are times now when I still get angry about it.

Our school days are with us for a very long time.

And now my boy is going to a school where reports of bullying have already caused concern. It is a harsher world now in some respects compared to when I was a boy. Violence these days seems to have more scope, seems to be more subsumed in how we operate as a society; in how we entertain ourselves.

I wonder how he will cope. How Karen and I as parents will help him through.

I wonder which side of the peer divide he will be allowed to sit upon.

Because sometimes that is the only difference between the bullies and the bullied.


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Friday, April 27, 2012

Take Me To Your Leader

UFOBucking the space-time-continuum the wife and I finally got round to watching the BBC’s Stargazing Live this week – nearly 3 months after it was originally broadcast and thus punching a Higgs Boson sized hole through the very nature of it being “live”.

Professor Brian Cox and non-professor Dara Ó Briain make for a surprisingly coherent presenting team (Dara having a physics degree of all things for a stand-up comedian) though I suspect the person who types up the opening and closing credits to the show must experience a brain supernova if they happen to be dyslexic... an event that, I don’t know about you, I would love to see picked up by the Hubble space telescope and pored over by UFO conspiracy theorists the world over.

Which brings me neatly onto the subject of my post.

UFOs. Aliens.

Do they really exist?

Lord knows there’s enough crap written about them.

Professor Brian answered these questions and more with a down-to-earthness which, for an astronomer bod, was most refreshing.

Is there life out there in the universe? Yes. The universe is practically infinite therefore there has to be other life somewhere.

Do aliens come here and partially mind-wipe American mid-West farmers and probe their bottoms with periscopes fuelled by crystolic fusion? No. Absolutely not. And the logic to this is simple. The distances that aliens would have to cover are unimaginably vast. To the point of impossibility. We, as a species, have been spoiled somewhat by Hollywood (actually, we as a species have been absolutely wrecked and had our innate intelligence completely compromised by Hollywood). We imagine space travel as being somehow easy. You build the Millennium Falcon and – hey presto – you can not only travel to Tatooine at the furthest rim of the galaxy but you can also spend months if not years in deep space playing holo-chess with Chewbacca (better let the Wookie win) and playing space frottage with Princess Leia in the cargo hold.

The reality though is that space is completely, fundamentally inimical to life. Zero gravity is inimical to creatures whose DNA has built itself around the idea of gravity being present. The most continuous time a man has spent in space is, I think, 18 months and that left him pretty much wrecked when he landed back on earth. Even short missions in zero gravity tend to lead to ill health. Most astronauts, when they return to earth, tend to throw up their first meal and find their muscles have become noticeably weaker.

To overcome all this then is going to require technology so far beyond our own it would be like asking Cro-Magnon man to play Angry Birds on your iPhone.

So any aliens that do make it here to take photos of Mid-West farmers "getting it on" with their cattle are not going to be so stupid as to leave their spaceship’s tail-lights on, leave indentations of their landing gear in fields of corn or botch up a mind wipe on Zeke and Jethro. If they really, genuinely want to make their presence known I’m pretty sure they’ll go through the proper channels (i.e. take out a High Court superinjunction and then Tweet about it on Twitter).

And I have to say I totally agree with Professor Brian’s synopsis of the situation. I certainly agree there is life somewhere else in the universe – our species would have to be stupidly arrogant to think otherwise – but they ain’t saying hello, folks. Not to ordinary folk like you and me. And not to super-geeks who spend their Friday nights masturbating over the Spider Nebula. If they’re visiting us, they’re not letting on. Not at all.

All these UFO sightings and alien abduction stories are just twaddle. The results of over-imagination, unfulfilling lifestyles and a hidden desire to be probed by something which is not human. To be honest these people would be better off allowing themselves to be caught smuggling internally ingested packets of heroin through German customs.

Oh. And one last thing. One last thing to cheese off the conspiracy lovers and the doubting Thomas’s.

The moon landings DID take place.

You can go into Jessops, buy a decent telescope over the counter and see the footprints and the moon buggy tracks for yourself. They’re still there.

Live long and prosper, people. Live long and prosper.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

24 Hour Non-Party Person

Party messUp to the age of 14 I was well reconciled with my nerdiness. I was the last to be picked for football teams, the cool kids ignored me and the bullies also ignored me by dint of me not being worth the effort to rough up (doing me over would hardly improve their social standing among their peers).

But when I turned 15 life at school irrevocably changed.

I found myself weighed down by the advent of “the party”.

Not the parties I had been used to... jelly, ice cream, someone who would fail a CRB check stuffed into a purple dinosaur costume... but the full-on, adolescent party with no grown-ups present, real alcohol, and the slight possibility of a snog and copping a feel of someone's tits in the cupboard under the stairs. If you were really lucky they’d belong to a girl.

Great. Something else to be miserable about. Another social situation to fail.

Even back then part of me felt that it would actually be more of a blessed relief to not be invited. Sure it would sting. It would smart. But I could indulge myself in a little self-righteous dudgeon at being left out in the cold. And yet, despite myself, part of me was still unreasonably pleased when I was invited.

I think people felt sorry for me. People felt that out of the nerdy no-hopers I was actually pretty alright. And I had a few friends who were on the fringes of the cool group. So I got included by proxy.

I won’t lie. I’d fool myself every time. Lie to myself.

I’d allow myself to fill with a silly wild hope that (a) I would actually relax enough to enjoy myself, that (b) someone would actually talk to me and include me in what was going on and (c) the miracle might occur whereby a girl revealed that despite my geeky exterior she had seen through to the vibrant, molten, burgeoning bard at my core and wanted to kiss me. A proper kiss with tongues and everything. Gaining access to the inner sanctum of a girl’s bra was beyond my wildest imaginings at that point. It was hallowed ground not meant for trespass by an unworthy like me.

What would actually happen is that I would find myself hopelessly outmatched by my peers. I would not dress cool enough. Would not have the confidence to speak properly. Would not be brave enough to give dancing or the slightly risqué party games a go. And I would hang around the edges of the room – or more notably the kitchen – nibbling at the party food and watching the clock for the official finish time of the party when I could at last slink off home and then be assailed with misery and depression for the following week whilst also fantasizing about all the cool things I could have done if I just happened, by some miracle, to be somebody else entirely.

This routine was so established by the third party I attended it could almost be termed a system. Even a coping strategy.

And since those days I have never particularly liked parties or social occasions. Even though now, more often than not, I do actually have a good time every now and then and, God forbid, actually sometimes acquit myself rather well.

The only difference now is that I have learned not to care one way or the other. I get less worried about it beforehand. Give it less thought afterwards. And during... well, during I refuse to pander to whatever is going on. I am me. Take me or leave me. Either way I don’t mind.

I don’t seek out parties... in fact if I never attend another party that’s fine by me... but neither do I live in fear of them either.

I do sometimes wonder though how different my attitude might have been if I’d been one of the cool kids. If I’d got to play spin the bottle with Debbie Rush or Joanne Clemons (the two sirens of my school years).

Or if, just once, I’d dragged myself out of the kitchen and into the wonderfully humid realm of a girl’s bra.


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Monday, April 23, 2012

Would Have Should Have Could Have

Being a sentimental sort of chap whose sentimentality is triggered by feelings of profound frustration with my current circumstances I am often given to bouts of “if only I’d...” and “why didn’t I [fill in the blank] when I had the chance?”

These bouts of bemoaning the clouds in my coffee for not realizing themselves into the life I have always dreamed of seem to increase the older I get. Maybe because I have more to regret or even because, as my knowledge and understanding increase (albeit in small increments), I am perhaps more aware of what I should have done when I look back at my formative years.

Don’t get me wrong. I have much to be thankful for. A loving wife and two healthy rumbustious boys.

But I can’t help feeling that modern living is inimical to my spiritual contentment.

Take my career. Or what I laughingly refer to as my career.

I never aspired to anything.

Well. That’s not strictly true. I have always and still do aspire to write. All I ever wanted to do was write. So as a consequence I never aspired to be anything tangible in the career food-chain. I never wanted to be a bank manager. Or a bus driver. Or an electrician. Something that would have required training or an apprenticeship. Something whose usefulness to modern society (with the exception of bank manager) would never go out of date or popularity.

I was a fool to myself. I would still have strived to write but I would have had a fallback position.

But even this wouldn’t have been smart enough. And I think what I am bemoaning most of all in this post is my naivety and my laziness in not properly contemplating how I would really like to spend my work days back when I had the youth and the non-pressure of living at home with my parents to actually invest some time and sacrifice some wages in order to achieve it.

Because any kind of retraining now is going to cost money and time that I don’t have. And energy beyond my capacity to generate.

*sigh*

You know what I’d most like to do? How I’d ideally like to spend my days and earn my money?
I’d like to work outside.

Forestry commission. Farming. Landscape gardening.

Just something... out there; outside, out of the dull soul-eating cube of the office. Away from the dusty fans of soulless PCs and the subliminal thought-knife of the telephone ringtone.

And years ago I could have done it. I could have still written. I wouldn’t have lost anything because, beyond a few published poems, I was never in danger of hitting the big time.

And right now I’d be coppicing a wood (no euphemism intended) in the sunshine. I’d have my hand up a cow’s arse in the Cotswolds. I’d be digging out the foundations for a ha-ha at Blenheim Palace.

But instead of those things I am beating my brains out against a brick wall of spreadsheets and Health & Safety legislation, wondering where the hell the sunshine has gone.

Well, I’ll tell you where it’s bloody gone.

It’s hiding behind the ruddy great clouds in my coffee.


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Friday, April 20, 2012

Held To Ransom


I’m feeling a bit emotionally hijacked this morning.

I feel like an old friend has stabbed me in the back. Or worse, slashed the buttons off my best coat with a flash of his blade like the Scarlet Pimpernel putting down some damn Frenchie.

In the bigger scheme of things this is no big deal but it has got my goat: Blogger has changed the layout and functionality of its Dashboard.

Some of you will be shrugging. Some of you may not have noticed any difference. Some of you may like the changes.

I don’t like the changes.

Worse, I can’t click on anything without Blogger informing me that my browser is incompatible with the new Dashboard, some functions will no longer work and I might like to try installing Google Chrome instead.

I don’t want to install Google Chrome.

I’m sure Google Chrome is a lovely browser. I’m sure it would make love to my computer and make it come all night long. But I use Internet Explorer, like Internet Explorer and am familiar with Internet Explorer. And further, I don’t like having unnecessary bits of software installed on my computer chogging up the registry and increasing the potential for foul-ups. Having two browsers installed goes against the grain.

I feel like Blogger – owned by Google, of course – is trying to bully me into using its own software. This is not on.

Persuade me (if you can) by all means. Sell it to me. Bribe me. Make me come all night long.

But don’t bully me. Don’t mug me. Don’t hold me to ransom.

Because that makes me dig my heels in even harder. That makes me flex and exercise my rather muscular stubborn gene.

At the end of the day this whole thing is a cynical exercise in overly ferocious marketing. What annoys me most is that if you check your blogging stats via the Dashboard (if you can get yours to work now, that is) you will see that Internet Explorer is still the most popular browser that the majority of people use when logging into and using Blogger.

And yet Blogger / Google has seen fit to deliberately disregard the lion’s share of its own user demographic and create an interface that doesn’t work properly in Internet Explorer.

If that isn’t a slap in the face I don’t know what is.

So what do I do?

Go against my principals and install Google Chrome? Dump Blogger and switch to Wordpress? *shudder*

Stop Blogging altogether?

(I’m going to ignore all of you who are currently screaming, “yes!”)

No.

I’m going to moan about it on my Blog via Internet Explorer.

Screw you Blogger. You’re not the only one who can rip off coat buttons with a flick of a dandy’s foil.


Addendum:

I couldn't even publish this post via Internet Explorer. The compose and edit functions don't work. So I have had no choice but to install Google Chrome. I now feel like, not only have I had the buttons slashed off my coat, but I have also had my balls cut off and shoved into my mouth.

Fuck you, Blogger.


P.S. My thanks to you that have pointed out that you can revert to the old Dashboard by clicking on the cog icon on the top of the Dashboard. Alas, this icon does not even appear when viewed in Internet Explorer... therefore one has to install Google Chrome just to revert to the old Dashboard and then carry on using Internet Explorer.

Damned sneaky. Damned underhand.


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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Enemies

It’s been a slow realization. But no less shocking for the gentle way it has hit me.

But I have enemies.

People who don’t like me. People who snipe about me behind my back. People who plot and talk and actively seek opportunities to bring me down.

Some of you may shrug. Some of you may live and work in environments where this is the norm. Some of you may have immured yourself in a den of poisonous vipers so long ago that you now see such acid writhing as part and parcel of normal existence. Living with daggers aimed at your back is as normal as the sunrise.

For me it is a relatively new thing.

Up to a few years ago I considered myself to be someone who operates as peaceably and as harmoniously with my surroundings as possible. I naturally gravitate towards peace and appeasement. I don’t like making waves or being in the midst of stormy seas. Life is too short to contend with such unnecessary stress.

Over the last few years though I have slowly awoken to the fact that I exist alongside those whose methods of behaviour and operation are diametrically opposed to mine; opposed to my sense of right and wrong. This fundamental opposition alone, I suppose, has drawn the line in the sand for me and for them. Mistrust grows fat on itself and is forever hungry and whines its complaints to both sides.

It is not a nice environment to find yourself living in. I don’t relish it. I don’t feed off it as others do.

But I have amazed myself by surviving. By weathering the various storms that my enemies have regularly blown up for me.

And it has had a curious effect. I am no longer scared. No longer scared to stick my head above the parapet. No longer scared to stick with what I think is right even in the face of opposing demands. They have done their worst and I am still here. I am still me.

More than that I have discovered that I have a loyal support network around me to combat these cowardly would-be assassins.

It might shock my enemies to learn that there is no sniping, no bitching, no plotting that they have ever undertaken that I have not known about and not known who the authors were.

People talk. People snipe. But mostly they talk and snipe about those who do the talking and the sniping.

My response is and always will be to carry on as normal. To live to the best of my abilities and to work as professionally as I can. Dignity does not care if we like someone or not or if we are liked or not. It merely demands a certain mode of behaviour.

We sell our dignity down the river at a cost only to ourselves.

To my enemies then, I say this: carry on as you are; smile to me, offer fake camaraderie whilst badmouthing me behind my back. I know who you are and every word that you say.

When I smile back at you it isn’t because I like you or wish to appease you. Not anymore.

It is because you cannot touch me. It is because, really, genuinely, you do not matter.



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Monday, April 16, 2012

Don’t Keep Pushing The Button

Ask people if they believe in fairies and they just laugh.

Ask them if they believe in Father Christmas and they show you their credit card bills with a sour look on their faces.

And yet worldwide belief in various urban myths still persists.

I have seen it with my own eyes this very afternoon.

I think you all know the one I’m referring to. The one that says repeatedly pushing the button on a Pelican Crossing will make the green man appear quicker because some kind of magic device exists inside it that counts how many times the button is pressed and then exponentially curtails the time the traffic has to enjoy its right of way on the road.

I saw a girl giving the pelican crossing the ol’ frenzied single-finger-jab when I nipped home at lunchtime today. Not once. Not twice. But for literally 40+ times this paragon of patience pressed the button. Click-click-click-click-click. Like a nervous tick. Like a machine gun firing on empty. Like Alan Cummings pressing that bloody biro on and off at the end of that crappy James Bond film with Pierced Bozo in it. Goldmember. Japeye. Golden Dawn. Or whatever it was called.

Normally I keep myself to myself. Normally I don’t get involved. But today I had to curtail an overwhelming urge to point out to her that pressing the button with such repeated ferocity would have no positive effect whatsoever.

It’s like pressing CTRL-ALT-Delete on a computer. You can press it as many times as you like but the CPU logs one request only and then eventually acts on it.

Actually, I don’t know if that’s true or not but it sounds good.

You press the button and the automated traffic control thingie then factors in a single pedestrian crossing instance in that particular traffic cycle. The traffic cycle remains as long as it usually is. It won’t be hurried. It won’t be harassed. It won’t be bullied. It can’t be persuaded to stop all traffic instantly and allow you to strut across the road like the king of the walk. Neither can it be pressured into extending the length of the pedestrian crossing instance. You gets your go and that’s it.

The priority at the end of the day is to keep the traffic flowing.

Pedestrians are second-class citizens. The green man is not in love with you. He works for the car people and the car people alone.

Or am I wrong? Am I being far too pragmatic about this? Have I missed a trick in my Green Cross Code atheism?

Is there indeed a little leprechaun inside the pelican crossing who’ll stop the traffic for you if he likes the look of your face / arse / Uggs? Is that why I’m always left waiting for ages for the green man to appear?

If that’s the case I may have to write to the Easter Bunny to complain...



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Thursday, April 12, 2012

I've Been To Paradise But I've Never Been To Binley Mega Chippy

Binley Mega ChippyI've been to some posh places in my time. Poked my nose around some hi-falutin' gaffs.

The National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C. The Boboli Gardens in Florence. Abu Simbel in Southern Egypt.

But last Saturday, on a drive back from Coombe Abbey, I passed a building whose sheer majesty and triumphal ambience put all these other places to shame. A palace of ruby and gold wherein must surely reside ancient gods of high renown. It sent shivers down my spine as if a strange wind had blown across my face. Indeed the air seemed to thicken as if with the odour of some hot exotic oil.

Binley Mega Chippy.

42 years living in the Midlands and I never knew that such a thing existed on my doorstep.

I've frequented all kinds of chip shops in my time. High street chippys. Drive-thru burger and fry joints. Hell, we've even got a Pete's Plaice just up the road from my house - a chip shop seller who understands the importance of a well placed pun.

But I have never in my life been to a mega chippy.

As we drove past my hands scrubbed at the car window and I drooled in a manner reminiscent of that famous scene from Midnight Express when Billy tries insanely to paw at the breasts of his girlfriend, Susan, through a sheet of bullet-proof glass. Well. I don't actually know if it was bullet-proof but it was certainly pokey-proof despite Susan's best attempt to punch a couple of ten pence sized holes through the glass.

A mega chippy!

I'll say that again just in case the significance has past you by.

A mega chippy!

Surely the counter and the friers would be made of solid gold! Exotic fish would feature on the extensive menu - dolphin, killer whale, Daryl Hannah - all battered and served with a choice of Bar-B-Q or curry sauce! The chips would be the size of articulated lorries and gloriously cripsy on the outside whilst remaining soft and fluffy on the inside! The countertops would overspill with jars of pickled ostrich eggs and vats of mushy peas so green they must surely have melted emeralds into the mix! And the serving girls! The serving girls would be bouyant Atlantians replete with clamshell bras and silver tridents and voices that could drive a man to dash himself to death on the kebab grills!

Alas I will never know for sure.

We were in the middle lane in heavy traffic and my wife had no intention of stopping, cold hearted harridan that she is!

So we continued on our way along the Brandon Road, my wife ignoring my stangulated cries of new love lost, and Binley Mega Chippy seemed to shrink before my eyes until it was nothing more than a faint pinkish blush on the horizon.

But I know where it is now. Google has furnished me with the map reference. X marks the spot. By accident I have stumbled upon a town that Kings and Queens would give their eye teeth to live in. A place of class and culture. A place where important people live. Big people. People who have "made it" big and like to have it large.

All hail Binley Mega Chippy!

The Olympian chip shop of the gods!



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Monday, April 09, 2012

Reasons Why Life Laundry Is Not Always A Good Thing

I know it is good to declutter. To have a clear out.

To void yourself of unwanted and unnecessary possessions. To push for the gush after an age of material constipation.

You feel lighter afterwards. Lithe. Virile even.

Life laundry can be a force for good.

But it can be a bad thing too. A process to be regretted at leisure.

When I moved out of the family home some years ago and into a bijou little flat in Warwick (it was a cupboard but it was my cupboard) I found that, by necessity, I had to shed some of my load. I had amassed enough goods and chattels to sink the Titanic without the aid of an iceberg.

I had to be harsh. The contents of Chatsworth House into a dumb waiter will not go.

I didn't think about it too much. That way the process wasn't as painful as it could have been. I did what I had to do. I pruned harshly. I cut things off without mercy. Disinherited myself of 50% of what was rightfully mine.

And it was fine.

I felt lighter, more lithe, more virile, etc, etc. Yes, I could breathe the free air once again. Life laundry was good.

But since then, over the intervening years, I have regularly come to regret my cold-hearted nonchalence. There are occasions when it makes me physically wince.

I will have a yen to grab a book that I'm sure I own. I will remember buying it. I will go to our many bookcases and search frutlessly. It is not there. I sold it to a secondhand book seller when I was offloading. It is now either out of print or costs a small fortune to buy back.

I will recall a childhood possession of great sentimental value. It is gone. I kept some but not all. Why do the ones still in my possession not mean as much to me as the ones that I threw away?

Worse still though is the ephemera.

I am currently converting a load of old recordings to digital format. Scripts I wrote and acted out with my sisters and friends. Stupid, adolescent stuff. Hopelessly puerile.

As fun and as great as it is to have these I found myself wishing that I'd just recorded day-to-day stuff. Conversations with my grandparents, etc. People whose voices are long lost to me due to Life's own life laundry.

And then I recalled that I did. I had a tape recorder with a built-in microphone and used to use up the spare bits of cassette at the end of making a mix-tape by just recording haphazard stuff via the microphone. There'd be a wealth of undocumented treasures there. Stuff I would no doubt not even remember.

But, of course, when I was lightening my load I threw out all my old mix-tapes. I had the records and could make them again if necessary. Why bother to keep hundreds of C90s? In my haste to get rid of them I didn't even stop to think about all those hidden ad hoc extras.

All gone now. No doubt amusing the tramps at the landfill.

Curse you, life laundry! If there was one thing I could get rid off now it would be you!



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Friday, April 06, 2012

Strapline

Badly folded flierStraplines and folds are important.

They are important in life (particularly if you plan any nude sunbathing) and they are doubly important in marketing (where they mean totally different things).

It doesn't matter whether it's a poster, a flier, an advertizing leaflet or even a web site.

You need to get the important stuff above the strapline. Above the fold. With a web site it is good practise not to force your prosepective customer to scroll down too much. People don't like it. It is tiresome. Carpel tunnel syndrome, etc, and all those other health problems that regularly afflict couch potatoes (e.g. swollen right wrists).

Get the exciting stuff up there at the top. Right up where people can see it. All the sexy stuff needs to be there in pole position - the glossy photos, the amazing once-in-a-lifetime prices, the bogof offers, the shiny teeth, the perky ice-cube hardened breasts of your advertizing model (doubly important if the model happens to be female).

People shouldn't have to scroll downwards, or unfold a sheet of A4 to get to the point of what you are trying to sell.

Doubly important is where you place your banner headline.

I cannot stress this enough.

Take a look at the photo above. I scanned this advertizing flier into my computer yesterday exactly as I pulled it from the envelope. It illustrates perfectly the point I am trying to make.

Now. I know what it is supposed to say. Suite Clearance Event.

But that fold... occurring where it does.

When I first saw it, I could have sworn blind the U in suite was an H...

And, yes, when I opened it further I realized that, yes indeed, it should have been an H.

Tits and teeth, people. Tits and teeth.



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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Anger Management Glasses

Bloggertropolis Anger Management GlassesAnger management classes are all well and good but, really, who has the time? Who has the inclination to sit in a room with a bunch of sweaty people who twitch and snarl every time someone gives them a funny look or grabs the last Garibaldi?

What you need is instant intervention! A personalized buffer zone between you and the object of your justified rage!

I would therefore like to present the patent pending Bloggertropolis Anger Management Glasses (funny nose and fake moustache come fitted as standard).

Simply don these pacific spectacles and instantly see the target of your fury transformed into an object of pity and sympathy – thus circumnavigating the murderous anger that could potentially see you incarcerated at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for the rest of your natural.

Mother-in-law constantly sniping at you and making disparaging comments about how you are raising your kids / making your gravy / baking your cakes / exercising your right as a British citizen to cross-dress in public? Don’t viciously rearrange her expensive vajazzle with a Moulinex hand blender (after all, you’ll need that for the crème brulee later), simply slip on your Bloggertropolis Anger Management Glasses and see her transformed into the needy, unloved child that she really is who was never allowed the pony she dreamed off when she was 5 years old and who was laughed out of the WI in her mid twenties for her grainy scones and her unrisen baps. She does not deserve your resentment; she deserves your compassion and your understanding!

Some loud-mouthed white van driver with a pot belly and nicotine stained lips cut you up on the way to work? Don’t involve yourself in a Dukes Of Hazard style car chase around the industrial estate that ends with you creaming his face all over the bonnet of his car with a handy piece of lead guttering that you keep in the boot of your Peugeot for just such occasions... put on your Bloggertropolis Anger Management Glasses and see him for the inadequately genitalled, illiterate, going-nowhere, cirrhosis suffering nobby-no-mates that he really is. Does this man really deserve your anger and all this passionately expended energy? Surely it is your pity that he really craves? With your Bloggertropolis glasses firmly in place you can at last give it to him!

Colleagues giving you the run around and trying to drop seven kinds of excrement onto you from a great height to cover their own malodorous shortcomings? Don’t push them face-first into the paper-shredder and get mediaeval on their wriggling arses with a staple gun... simply whip out your Bloggertropolis Anger Management Glasses and see them for the pewling, cowardly, passive-aggressive spoilt brats without a shred of true professionalism that they really are. Why waste a good Tippex mouse gouging out their eyeballs when you can empathize with their failed showbiz parent upbringing that saw them on the talent scrapheap at 15 and knocked-up with 4 kids by the time they were 19 with no hope of ever regaining their previous good looks?

Ta da!

Bloggertropolis Anger Management Glasses saves the day once again!

Anger managed!

Bloggertropolis Anger Management Glasses are available for pre-order from Bloggertropolis for the blinding price of £39.99 per pair though a discount of £70 for two pairs is available for married couples.

Disclaimer: Bloggertropolis accepts no liability for sight impairment, retinal damage or moustache allergies that may result from over-exposure to Bloggertropolis Anger Management Glasses and most certainly accepts no liability for any criminal prosecution that may result from the failure of the glasses to prevent outbursts of violent rage in the face of gross stupidity, ignorance and pettiness originating in the people that you choose to surround yourself with.



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Monday, April 02, 2012

Je Ne Regrette Rien...

...but Regret itself.

They say you should never regret anything. That a life full of regrets is a wasted life. That all our if only’s stifle all our potential I could’s.

Maybe you have to be Edith Piaf to have no regrets. Or maybe just French. Either way it is impossible for me not to get wistful sometimes and look back on all my life decisions and indecisions with a modicum of chagrin.

I regret not punching the school bully in the face. Just once.
I regret not studying harder at Computer Studies back in the eighties when home computing was in its infancy; I’d be set up for life now.
I regret not getting into acting or music when I was younger. Or archery or karate. Something cool.
I regret not doing volunteer work at the BBC when I left school, when I was living at home and could have afforded to do it. It would have been a foot in the door.
I regret not getting drunk more and being stupid more.
I regret not having the confidence to ask more girls out on dates when I was young and single.
I regret caring so much about what other people thought of me.
I regret that I still do that.
I regret selling all my boyhood Lego when I was a teenager.
I regret not saying no more and yes more at the right times.
I regret settling for the easy path in life because I’m too scared of making life too difficult for myself.

But I think I regret most of all that if I were able to live my life all over again I would still have the exact same regrets...

C'est la vie?

Who knows.

What is your biggest regret in life?



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