Archive for February, 2007

It’s an… oh, I can’t be bothered. Anyone for more tea?

I do like this: anti-outrage blogging [1]. I was thinking along similar lines the other day, as it’s getting harder and harder for me to find things to get OUTRAGED [2] over, or if I get angry it soon dissipates before I can get near a keyboard.

Maybe journalists act as an outrage sponge. We soak up other people’s outrage on their behalf and put it into a finely honed and balanced story [3] , a cathartic exercise which means we don’t have time for any outrage of our own.

A quick aside: this quite probably applies to the sub-editors responsible for headline writing in newspapers. I have a theory they don’t actually write the headlines, they simply kidnap stressed people from the street, poke them with sticks for a couple of hours before telling the person their cat’s been run over. At this point they pose the question: “What’s your opinion of the government’s proposal to raise taxes to improve school dinners?”

“Ahhhhhtheabsolutebastards… stealingourmoneytopayforungreatfulkidstoeatburgers. An absolute OUTRAGE.”

This then translates into a front page headline of: “Now your taxes pay for kids to eat burgers.” [4]

On the old blog, I’d rant until the keyboard collapsed and I fell to the ground in a foaming fit of apoplexy. Here I’m more likely to adopt a Gallic-style shrug and go and get a cup of coffee or, as is more likely, tea [5] . This past week I’ve not been getting outraged about lap-dancing clubs, Chelsea FC, bad TV, council tax going up, air tax and Iraq. Honestly, what can you do, apart from have a biscuit with your cuppa?

I’ve not gone completely soft though. I was sufficiently angered by one media outlet’s treatment of a paedophile story to shout in the direction of my nonplussed housemate fora good 90 seconds, and don’t get me started on the woman who couldn’t work out I wasn’t reversing on my street because I wanted to get into the parking spaced she’d stopped by in expectation of me reversing back all the way up the hill, despite the fact I was clearly indicating and gesticulating that I wanted to pull into the space, as well as the minimal distance she’d have to reverse before there was an actual passing point.

But even then I wasn’t outraged. Just rather annoyed.

[1] Via Tim W’s soon-to-move-home Britblog Roundup.

[2] Copyright, Daily Mail.

[3] Well, it’s a nice theory. A sort of utilitarian journalistic utopia, if you will. But i fear it remains just that: a utopia.

[4] Everybody knows the word ‘Now’ is just shorthand for ‘just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse’.

[5] Although this is generally my default situation. Slow news day: have a cup of tea. Stressful news tea: have a cup of tea. Football reporting: have a cup of tea while I’m waiting to do interviews. Hostage situation: pop round a nearby house for a cuppa during a lull. Chemical fire: nip back to the office, which is only 5 minutes away, for a cup of tea. The reason I was so grumpy by the end the week of the beached ship was down to the fact it’s incredibly difficult to get a decent cup of tea on a cold beach in the middle on winter. Thank goodness for the Salvation Army, who came along to assist midway through the week.

A plea for charity fund-raising, requested by a friend.

Chris has already alerted the wider world to this, but I thought it was only right and proper that I did my bit to help:

Some of you will be aware of my Lohan based euphoria. It was perhaps a year and a half ago that I sent the email (which I include at the bottom of this email for reference purposes) outlining my plan to perform a base jump from the top of Lindsey Lohan.

Since this early elevation of Lindsey to the rank of ‘Pretty Lady’ (one of my highest battle honours), I have been able to expand and improve on the potency of this heartily unhealthy fondness – now I can scarcely look at a picture of the woman (and what a woman she is) with out feeling my mind spiralling in on its self the need to say something philosophical(ish).

However I’m digressing – my principal concern is of course for the children – one of the many things Lindsey and I have in common – along with being able to do flawless Kermit the frog impressions and having just 11 sets of ribs. That is why I am re-launching “Jump Lohan” – this time it will be a multi discipline event. Naturally we will be staying true to the roots of JL, and the event will culminate with a base jump off Lindsey. However, the name is derived from Jump London, and I would like to introduce some very poorly executed parkour.

Both myself and Lindsey (probably) are very keen to really move this event forward into a more public arena (last time the event was held in Cathays Park in Cardiff – I was drunk, it was about 3am, Lohan looked worryingly like a statue of some bird in a toga, and I hurt my ankle – also I failed to raise any money). However even then both I and my pet stone Steve recognised the potential of the event to really raise some cash for charity. As I said, it’s all about the children – Lohan (probably) and I have agreed that the money will be spread around a variety of international children’s charities.

The point is I need the word to be spread far and wide.

Send it to you friends – send it to your friends’ friends – send it to the people who are still in your address book – but basically you keep forgetting to speak to, and of course stick it on your blog/homepage etc.

Truly – Google will rue the day Jump Lohan was born! Eventually we will reach enough people – then the Lohan will get it – and I think you know what happens from there! Peace out yo!

Chris

Below is the original message (please read whilst listening to 2Unlimited – Get Ready For This):

People shouldn’t be allowed to be that fit – it could cause accidents. You know what I mean: as in “I’m driving my car, I’m driving my car – holy crap – that person is so fit physics has created a singularity in a jealous attempt to stop light that’s touched her touching anything else, unfortunately in the process flipping the earth inside out making everyone and everything on it feel really sad – except for tangerines who sort of felt like they’d always had a bit of a bum deal anyway kind of a way.

I’m actually sort of worried about this – I’ve never had a teenage crush – and now at 22 I still haven’t – and have sort of missed the boat. Is that normal? Probably not. Psychologists probably have a name for it – it’s probably not a good one. I’m probably inches away from the edge of a mental plateau – maybe I could perform the first truly “MENTAL” base jump – I suppose you have to try it to find out.

I’m going to go travelling, I’m going to go to America, I’m going to go to Lindsey’s house (she’s probably in the phone book – I can’t imagine she has any reason to go unlisted) and I’m just going to base jump off Lindsey Lohan.

It’s all fine – this is going to work – all it takes is a little grit and determination – after all it’s important to have a goal. I could tell the nice Helen lady in the careers centre my goal – that should stop her thinking I’m not making any real progress.

Anyway back to the matter in hand – after some research (isn’t the internet marvellous?) I’ve learnt that Lindsey is 5’5’’ tall (roughly 1.65m). If we assume that I base jump off her whilst she’s standing up, and that I have to open my chute to decelerate half way to the ground (altitude roughly = belly button) then I will have to deploy after ~ 0.41 seconds (and then just PRAY my chute deploys – probably won’t have time to cut it and go to my reserve).

HOWEVER – as I said physics will panic – it will collapse Lindsey, giving her a Schwarzschild radius of ~ 7*10^-26m (which is wee and small) This will of course have a Schwarzschild spacetime geometry associated with it – meaning the question becomes one of freefall paths, and I become bored (this is just an excuse – really it means that I can’t do this sort of stuff anymore).

I suppose there are two important points to glean from this:
1) A Masters degree in astrophysics is actually really useful and relevant to everyday life.
2) I want to jump off Lindsey Lohan (this is perhaps a variation on the theme of the standard male’s thoughts regarding Ms Lohan) however I’m serious – I would love to do a Charity Jump – and I feel like the best way to get my amazing (and it is amazing) idea out is for me to email it to all my friends, then for them to send it on to their friends and so on and so on… mathematically this should only have to be repeated seven times before the email reaches Ms Lohan (but I’m realistic, and realise it may need to be forwarded up to [and including] sodding loads of times). Anyway – eventually this will reach Lindsey (hello!) and then she can email me back here) and we can sort out charities/dates/times/outfits (I’m thinking spandex)/etc. It’s going to be ace! Thanks for your kind support!

COME ON INTERNET, I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!

Chris “Badass” Bowden

Search me

I’m currently getting a person every other day asking why they shouldn’t go to geoactive.co.uk, which seems to be on the back of almost every fairtrade product.

I’ll reiterate, I’ve no idea why. But it’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

To the person who got here by asking the question: “Where can I buy WKD?”  – I’d recommend a pub. If that’s not your cup of tea, try an off-licence or a bad newsagent.

To the person who searched for “Where does Gary Andrews live?” the answer’s Mongolia. In a tent. I run a second-hand tweed jacket business with Andy. We decided on this after the bottom fell out of my plastic bucket business and I had to escape some bad debtors in Peru, while Andy was physically attacked by Brian Harvey during a polar bear freedom march and was advised to move away to recuperate. We met each other at the local cinema’s showing of Three Men and a Little Lady. Happy now?

Taking pot-shots

Once upon a time rulers would have been happy to lead their troops into battle. Think of Boudica rallying the Britons. Or Agamemnon leading the Greeks into the Trojan War. Of course, being a king [1] in battle had its downfalls, as no doubt Richard III would testify, were he alive.

Today [2] not only are such decisions taken de facto by Prime Ministers or others of that ilk but should an actual Royal [3] decide to follow the traditions of Monarchs past all of a sudden somebody worries that, well, he might get killed.

I’m reasonably in agreement with Michael White. If Harry wants to go to Iraq then let him go to Iraq. He’s joined the army, he wants to be there, his application outside the army would be… well, somewhat limited.

I’m not in favour of us being in Iraq. Never was in the first place but if we’re there we may as well try and make a good fist of it. And it’s nice to have a member of the Royal Family, an organisation to which I’m just the wrong side of indifferent to, actually leading by example.

Lieutenant Wales may be unlikely to produce the equivalent of the St. Crispin’s Day speech but I can imagine it helps morale. Not only does it show a leader [4] willing to get stuck in, but it always shows he’s no different, in some respects, from the rest of us [5].

Good on him if he goes. I’m not really fussed about the Royal Family, I’m by no means keen on war full stop, and its something I wouldn’t ever do myself [6] but if he truly wants to go then, despite him and his actions being something I’d normally argue against. it gives me a small sense of admiration for the little ginger bugger for sticking to his guns.

Try not to get shot, there’s a good chap. The media would go berserk and, frankly, I don’t think I could handle that.

 [1] Or queen.

[2] I was going to open this sentence with now, but in essence that would be Daily Express shorthand for ‘Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse’. 

[3] Especially one with little use other than for taking the paparazzi glare.

[4] Ok, I’m taking liberties with that word. Potential future leader. 

[5] Big house, rich family, servants attending to his every whim aside. 

[6] Aside from the fact I’d be useless in any war, no matter what history period. Tried shooting once. Got two shots on somebody else’s targets. Tried archery. Absolutely abysmal. I can’t actually think of a single use for me during wartime, other than chef. And not an army one, at that.

Who needs love when you have a WKD Blue

An ex-colleague of mine once argued the case against me for the positives of Valentine’s Day, pointing out that it was an excuse for excessive romance. To back this up he said for the last Valentine’s Day he’d taken his girlfriend to Paris.

“How long have you been going out with her?” I asked.

“Just under two years,” he replied blushing.

“And what did you do the year before that?”

“We went away for a romantic weekend.”

“That,” I said gravely,” is a big mistake then.”

And it was. He’d peaked too early, and sure enough was summarily dumped several months later.

It would be all too easy to claim my hate of this day but that, I think, would be too strong a reaction. I don’t have anything against the day itself, nor the overt commercialisation of it. After all, if there’s a gap in the market to exploit naive, and not so naive, idiots to spend lots of money on cards, holidays, meals out and presents, all at excessively high prices, then I have nothing against this. The companies are simply following good business practice and if you, as a consumer, are too stupid to realise you’ve been had then that is not my problem. I bet you my bank account’s a lot happier at the end of today and I’m less stressed than most people.

No, what I really dislike are people who tell me to stop grouching, and that my attitude runs contrary to the spirit of the day. And, where, pray, did this spirit emerge from? Valentine himself? Unlikely.

For a start, there was more than one of the man. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes there were, in all likelihood, three St. Valentines and its not entirely clear which one the festival surrounds or even what they did in their lives to necessarily merit sainthood. Given that all three were martyred, they most likely met somewhat grizzly and distinctly unromantic ends.

Nevertheless, Valentine still has a feast, a Saints Day and must have done something to merit this. Not so. In all likelihood the day was created by the Christian church in an attempt to stamp out some of the pagan festivals still celebrated at the time, in this case Lupercalia. Valentine just happened to be a convenient saint with a day nearish to the pagan celebration, so the two were quickly bolted together, much like a shotgun wedding. Romance here was distinctly lacking.

One of the Valentine, probably not the one from Africa was probably executed refused to deny Christ in front of Claudius and, for his crime, was executed, although after he restored sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer, which is where the legend first sprung from, as apparently the martyr-to-be fell in love with the girl and left her a final note ‘from your Valentine’, although the latter part is often absent from any description of the Saint. Surely it’s enough that he, apparently, performed a miracle, you’d think, without the Hollywood ending. Even that wasn’t good enough for the Catholic church who removed Valentine’s Day as an official holiday on the basis that they’d couldn’t be certain he existed and, as such, probably didn’t fit all the criteria for sainthood.

In fact, if any writer should take credit for the emergence of what we now know as Valentine’s Day, it’s Chaucer, who mentioned the tradition in Parlement of Foules – a reference to the mating of birds and a lovers ritual, although there’s no record of where he got this from and it could very well be the product of artistic licence. Still, people were only too happy to take this as gospel [1] and run with it even if the artistic licence is possibly the most romantic thing about it all.

But so firmly ensconced is the lovers’ day in our psyche that, even if you argue:

1. There’s a good chance Valentine wasn’t a saint

2. He’s more likely to have been horribly killed than a star-crossed lover

3. He had naff all to do with Chaucer.

there are still people who put forward the argument that it’s a great chance to embrace love, show that special someone that you care and generally do all you can to make that person feel special then I’d simply ask, ‘what kind of relationship do you have?’

Even if we put aside the argument that if you’re dumb enough to fall for a blatant marketing trick you deserve to be fleeced, it still doesn’t make you any more special as a boyfriend if you’re doing exactly the same as thousands of other blokes around the globe.

You can buy flowers any time. You can book a nice restaurant at any time. Hell, you don’t even have to do it for any reason other than to show the person you love them, although again I’d argue if your sole way of showing affection is to focus on the material then you’re probably not going to have a particular deep and meaningful relationship.

Prescribing when I should be romantic is, to me, exactly the same as prescribing when I should have fun, take time for myself or be creative. If somebody told you that you were only allowed to go out on nights x,y,z and you had no option to have fun even if the evenin’s entertainment didn’t appeal to them, you’d rebel. Most of us don’t like having situations forced upon us where we’ve got a choice. We’re quite happy to be flexible when booking a holiday and where we go to, so why is it written you’ve got to buy your girlfriend a present before wining or dining on February the 14th.

I’ve never sent a Valentine’s card, brought a present for or taken a girl out to dinner on that day and, unless her birthday is on that day, never will. What I might do, though, without warning is take her away on a weekend that isn’t February the 14th to one of the most stunningly beautiful parts of the world [2], find a quiet, yet stunning area, produce flowers, champagne and a special box of memories for her, then look into her eyes and tell her I love her.

Might being the operative word. It depends what’s on telly that weekend.

[1] Pun intended.

[2] Not Paris. Not for a good few years into the relationship, at any rate.

Monetary question of the day

Exactly how much cash would I have saved over the years had I not got into a regular habit of losing half-finished packets of chewing gum?

And how many pairs of trousers would I have not wrecked if, in relation to the above, I had remembered to check my pockets before turning on the washing machine?

Answers, postcards, please.

Just don’t touch anything to be on the safe side

As narcotic offences go it’s hardly up there with Pete Doherty ingesting every kind of substance he can get his hand on and it’s not as if Cameron is up there with Nietzsche.

Still, regardless of how much cocaine anybody in the media puts up their nose on a Friday night, there’s a lingering obsession with famous people taking any form of illegal drugs at any point in their life. This is because Drugs Are Bad. So bad, in fact, Ronald Reagan started a war against them, possibly on the basis that a slab of crack wasn’t going to be able to fire a pistol.

In fact you can guarantee had Ming Campbell accidently ingested an ectasy tablet when aged three, he’d have been hung drawn and quartered by Daily Mail readers long ago.

Quite why there is an obsession with what Cameron did, or took, when he was 15 is a matter known only to news editors. Unless you’re absolutely committed to becoming leader of the country at that age then you’re probably going to do what any other teenager would do at that age: namely get drunk, smoke and try soft drugs. Unless this completely wrecks your brain, it’s unlikely to have any baring whatsoever on your job in your forties, or even twenties.

When I was a teenager I once tried a joint, not thinking it involved smoking and I bloody hate the taste of anything smoke related, so have refused to touch the stuff since then. Does this make me:

a) Unsuitable for public office?

b) Unsuitable to do my job at the moment?

c) A depraved and warped individual who probably eats babies on a regular basis and pokes puppies in the eye for fun?

c) None of the above?

Neither is it, as one BBC-user suggests [1], blatantly hypocritical. Unless the 15-year-old Cameron knew he was going to lead the Conservative party and espouse an anti-drugs message over 25 years later, that is.

A more pertanent question to ask David would be: “Are you currently taking drugs now.” Now that has more relevance to his current post.

Although everything would be much easier and would go away if he just answered the question. Radical as it may be for a politician, if he just said: “Yes, I did. And…?” and got back on with whatever it is they do in Conservative Central Office these days. Drinking tea, most probably.

Two questions do arise though. Firstly, if a politician smokes a spliff when they were young and nobody witnesses it, is it news? Secondly, does anybody actually care?

[1] You’ll have to wade through a bit but outrage and non-outrage are both funny anyway.


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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com