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Perfect Feet

We have a bathroom (or course we have). But we call our’s “The Reading Room”. Bit of a joke, a bit of a nod to the reality that when someone sits on the “throne” there is reading material to fill time whilst relaxing.

I like to think that anyone who visits our home and uses the bathroom might partake of the books, magazines and even catalogues we have stored near the “comfy seat”.

I have a stash of Viz magazines out of reach of our daughter, but the rest are factual books full of interesting nuggets, comics, clothing catalogues, even an October 2013 Radio Times – which appears to be immune to the usual sweep of change. Probably because Doctor Who is on the cover.

Whilst “relaxing” the other day I noticed the back of a catalogue. (This has now occupied more of my thinking over the last week than it should have). It was a women’s clothing catalogue.

The second time I was sat there I picked up the catalogue for a closer look. Then I studied it. Close up, (in the end using a jeweller’s loupe).

Why so interesting? Have I found the the underwear section? Is it a bikini catalogue?

It’s a shoe advert.

There is a pair of sandals on a pair of feet. below there are 6 identical feet in 6 slightly different sandals. IDENTICAL!

Looking close, I thought, “those feet are perfect!”. But this is the fascination: They are too perfect.

Studying them with high magnification equipment, THEY WERE PERFECT:
– no hair at all
– no pores
– no wrinkles of any kind
– no ankle bones sticking out (allowing them to function)
– no veins (feeding blood to the muscles)
– no changes of skin colour at all over the entire area of skin
– no change to the reflective nature of the skin from mid shin to tip of toes
– the nail polish was perfect – no scratches, no missing polish, no matt areas

Pure perfection.

So rather than think “make up” or “photoshop”, I can only conclude “3d cgi model”.

These are more 3D Studio Max or blender.org than model/ makeup/ photographer/ photoshop.

So this is the way we are going. We are already committed to this in childrens’ animation. Who makes kids films without 3D modelling these days? Studio Ghibli is losing the battle and they have to use computers to model buildings and structures. Frozen, Brave, Tangled etc.

So, we prefer the perfection (and cheapness) of not using real people.

I watched a documentary called “Good Hair” by Chris Rock.
He investigated black women’s hair. FIND THIS AND WATCH IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

Currently we scream against the advertising world using perfect women who are way too thin, photoshopped and altered.

For black women, the story goes a long way back. For as long as advertising has been in magazines, cinemas, TV or billboards, the perfect woman has straight hair. Often blonde, but rarely afro curl.
Even now, in these illuminated times, the “perfect” black woman has straight hair.

And so black women straighten their hair with dangerous chemicals and even more bizarrely, they buy hair from India and have it woven into their plaited and hidden hair as a “weave”. These cost thousands and once done, cannot be washed, taken out or touched. Get great looking hair – then refuse to let anyone touch it.

So where does “artificial models for clothing” take us? We have managed to take the impossible aspirations of women and make them completely unrealistic. No one can live up to the perfection of a CGI model. They can be as pale, tanned, thin, tall or wide eyed as the human mind will tolerate.

The feet on the back of the catalogue in the bathroom are more dangerous than you think. They have silently entered the world of women’s aspirations. Without anyone saying “hang on they aren’t real” some woman somewhere will look at those and think “My feet aren’t as perfect as that”.

Random thoughts

I think about death all the time. I’m sure we all do.

I have issues with it though. The thing that stops me to actually giving up on this pointless load of nonsense is that I have daft ideas that need to be written down. If I even get to the end of this tirade of rubbish thoughts, I’d actually give up and stop breathing.

Went to Hebden again and only heard one story of stupid hippy behaviour.  There where plenty of kids with daft names. I’m sure I heard a Ruprecht at one point and a kid at a May day fair was called Tarquin. The thing that stuck out was that all the people there seem to be trying to bore each other to death with social media. Whilst I hide my mental thoughts in this blog thing that I fail to update, these people have opinions on everything.

I digress.

The one thing that stuck in my mind about my trip to Hebden was a woman who had a head aches so bad that she was off work. “Pain killers not working? Give up on paracetamol and try codeine” I hear you scream at the screen. This person was so ill with a headache she was off work. There was talk of her vision going blurred. So what was she doing? Booking her self into A&E? getting a scan organised for the massive tumour that is attempting to force her eye out of its socket? No. She’s on facebook asking if anyone has a fresh sprig of feaverfew. I despair. These people will prove Darwin right.  I think her name was Jesper.

I am thinking of quitting ukulele group. I listen to a wind up gramophone when I’m stressed. I bought some reading glasses from the pound shop. I’m more interested in the state of North Korea than celebrities on TV. I am now working 11 hours a day and sleeping for roughly 5 hours a night. I’m middle aged at 43 and I’m losing interest in this world.

Days later.
I’m sat in a warehouse with mothers. The children take off their shoes and run towards the “screaming area”. Padded floors and rope ladders lead to friction burns next to stick on tattoos and tears rolling onto purple cordial smiles.
The mothers split into two conversations. I’m ignored by both.
I’m the only dad amongst mums.
My child is the only girl amongst boys.
They are drinking lager. I want a tea.

I am uneasy with losing sight of my only child in a cage of gutteral screaming. What could possibly warrant that level of billowing shrieks?

I catch a glimpse of a conversation. Three ladies, 20 years my junior. I lip read “I was all like…” as she rubs her breasts and rib cage seductively, “he just played Angry Birds”, and they laughed. I’m delighted they didn’t look at me during this. It’s normally my luck to walk in to observe what I shouldn’t.

There are too many fat people, too many tattoos and too many bags–under-eyes in this world

Social Pariah – again

My daughter is going to swimming lessons. It’s not the first time we’ve attempted this. She learnt as a “water baby” where kids are taught not to fear water through half and hour of play and singing (underwater singer and kids listen to water) etc.

She did this for a while, but as with Socca-tots and other kiddie activities she lost interest. I don’t blame her. She wasn’t engaged. Socca-tots was a Saturday morning thing run at a local indoor climbing frame centre. It happened before the main sessions started whilst the floors we still wet from the beer the night before (it was also a bar) and before the floors were freshly dampened with blue slush.

I digress.

She’s taken to her new swimming lessons like algae to a swimming pool side. She loves her teacher – who’s an elderly commonwealth athlete. He’s got a pool in his garden and despite the phrase “private swimming lessons” it’s very cheap at £50 for 8 lessons. The teacher is not interested in gender equality or whether being competitive causes any problems. He’s a bit old fashion, but lovely.

When the children arrive, they are “naughty children” having not been baptised by the chlorinated 3 foot deep pool. When they leave they are “good boys and girls”. The lessons only last half and hour, so each half an hour, he calls out “Could all to good girls and boys leave the pool and all the naughty children line up on the side, boy-girl-boy-girl”.

My daughter listens to him and he is not afraid to shout at children who might not be listening or doing dangerous things – like pulling each other’s goggles or running on the wet side. He doesn’t believe in arm bands, rubber rings and only lets children use floats when learning the proper way to do the crawl.

When we signed up he was very laid back – “just turn up with your child ready to swim and see how it goes”. He asked for her name, my name and took my phone number. That was it.

We’ve been going 6 months and on Saturday he asked us to fill in a form with medical details, home address etc.

No problem. I have  a pen as I write in my “little book of hate” on a regular basis and had brought book and pen with me. The “little book” of hate is just a notebook in which I write my nonsense. Random thoughts and daft ideas are written and then don’t bounce in my head. When the book is filled I chuck it. Simples.

So I take a form and fill out address, medical conditions etc. When I finish, I hold the form and watch my daughter hold her breath for about 8 minutes whilst swimming under water.

I notice a man trying to fill in his child’s form, balancing the paper on his thigh and using a pencil.

Being the type I am I offer the pen to write with and the “book of hate” to lean on. He’s grateful and fills out a legible form in record time. He hands back the little book of hate. He didn’t open it or read any of my mental ramblings – so I didn’t have to kill him. Then he takes the pen and walk to the table near the entrance. Dropping his paper in a basket/ Tupperware box, he put the pen down on the table.

I’m horrified. How will I fill in my “little book of hate”? I decide to follow him and pick up my pen as I put down the form. BUT before I can even stand a woman picks up a blank form and MY pen. HORROR!!

She very slowly fills in the form using my ink. Very very slowly. I know ‘cos I’m watching. She seem to deliberately be taking an awfully long time. Eventually she finishes. But does she rush to put the pen back? NO. She sits there holding it in this tropical heated private swimming pool. She’s sweating onto MY pen. HORRORS. How can I put that in my mouth and try to get the “non lid end” up my nose ever again?

I watch her willing her through all the Jedi skills I have, to put the sodding pen back. She doesn’t. I can’t concentrate on the swimming. I can’t relax.

THEN IT HAPPENED.

She looked at the pen with admiration. You could actually hear her thoughts, “Nice pen!”. In slow motion the handbag is unclipped and the pen disappears inside.

I’m livid. I want to walk up and shout “GIVE ME MY PEN BACK!” It’s not just the fact it’s mine. This is the type of person who steals pens from s children’s swimming class – therefore she’d steal from kids or worse – murder them.

I’m incensed.

After what seems like six hours, (but was probably 20 seconds), she makes this tiny jolting motion throughout her entire body, opens the bag and takes the pen out. My Jedi skills are working. She’s realised the terrible error of her ways and walks to the table, drops off the form and leaves the pen.

Like a man possessed (by the spirit of a limping elderly hunchback – the roof is 5’5″ around the edges and I have a dodgy leg/ knee/ hip), I bound to the table. BUT SOMEONE BEATS ME TO IT AGAIN!!. I’m horrified.

I’m now stood behind a man filling his form in. He seems to sense my urgency, (damn those Jedi skills!), and he offers for me to fill in my form first. I say “no” and for some stupid reason I flash my form and say “Already filled mine in”. He offers the basket/ Tupperware for the form and again, like a mental I refuse. I don’t even say “thanks”.

So there I am. Stood with a form completed behind a man holding my pen, whilst 20 parents stare at me. I try not to notice and text the entire episode (so far) to my wife. The man is managing to fill his form in slower than that damned woman – probably due to the way he shakes his head from side to side and occasionally looks at me and tutts under his breath. I swear to God that as he finishes he puts the pen as far away from me as possible and mutters “nutter”.

I grab for the pen and make the table move slightly, the Tupperware slightly more, but I don’t knock anything over. The noise of aluminium table on tile in a swimming pool doesn’t go unnoticed.

As I gleefully take the pen from the table and put it into my pocket I notice that every single pair of eyes that is not wearing swimming goggles is looking at me.

As I take my seat, women turn to men who they would never normally talk to and mutter about the pen. About me. About how I would steal from a children’s swimming class – or worse.

After I have been sat for 3 minutes a new parent arrives and picks up a form, They look around for a pen. In unison 20 parents turn to look at me. The woman who tried to steal my pen offers up a biro from her bag.

I want to stand up and shout “I bet she’s got loads in there – SHE TRIED STEAL MINE!! I brought my own, ‘cos a psychiatrist once told me to write down my urges to kill!”.

But I don’t.

I stare at my daughter and pray for this 30 minute swimming lesson to end.

I look at the clock.

Only  20 minutes to go.

Tolerance

Not the ability to understand and empathise with others of different, backgrounds, creeds or beliefs, but the ability to just take the endless nonsense that continually goes on. The ability to accept the banality of nothing happenings.

I seem to have the ability to accept the lack of excitement, beauty or even feeling.

I can go from day to day, month to month and year to year without anything happening.

People around me can’t take 6 months without a week in the sunshine, a skiing holiday or tour of the outback.

I know people who can’t stand a week without a party in a wine bar, a pub crawl or a “night out with the lads”.

Then there’s Neil. My friend Neil had the ability to accept that nothing at all would happen in his life.

At least I would go on holiday for a few days every now and again. I’d “take a drink” on a Friday night. I go to the cinema occasionally.

Neil didn’t. He would be happy to sit at home and read a book, go for a walk and play the occasional game of scrabble.

I was looking at the rain and grey life of people in the North and thought about a weekend I spent in London once. There was excitement at every corner. Cafes, wine bars and restaurants. The life was one of constant stimulation and wonder.

Walking through the rain to the corner shop to buy a loaf of bread and a pint of milk, my mind wanders to the life of the rich and famous. There is no way millionaires wander in the rain, with a headache to buy milk.

More Thought Police

So…. how do we improve society?
How can we change the way offensive trash is thrust at us and how can we force change?
How can we make people pay their fair share?
How do we force respect and make people better – regardless of what they want?

Watching BBC news this morning,  I got bored of the weather story. Has it rained more in 2012 that any other year? Why is it raining? blah blah blah.

So, in an act of pure mentalness, I changed to Sky news.
Fox news is ridiculed in popular American culture as sensationalist right wing nonsense.
Is Sky news the same?

While the BBC were trying to bore me back to sleep with tales of underground water storage tanks, Sky were practically shouting about obese people having their benefits cut. LAZY SCROUNGERS were now  FAT LAZY SCROUNGERS!!

Sky then did a news round up showing the popular news papers of the day. Three of the “red tops” had a semi clad woman bulging out of their cleavage. One had a caption like “See me bursting out of my bra on page 3” – or summat.

I’m middle aged and find this offensive. If I want to have bulging ladies falling out of their undergarments, I will buy a copy of Razzle wrapped in the Daily Telegraph and guiltily “be unclean” in the privacy of the nearest public conveniences and then discard the guilt enriched filth in the nearest hedge (as had been done throughout time since parchment first could be used for the image of lady bumps).

I digress….

The point that my wife then made, (as if reading my mind), was asked “How do we stop this?”.

I look at her.

She continues: “Free speech is to be respected and even fought for, but at what point do we all say ‘enough’ and get oiled up ladies off the front covers of newspapers”.

She’s right. We NEED free speech and we NEED to somehow stop naughtiness being allowed in the name of free speech.

Can I now waffle about some things unrelated, but at the same time relevant?

The behaviour of celebrities in the 1970s might have left a lot to be desired, but that level of behaviour was just about acceptable in the 1970s. A girl hangs around your dressing room all night and insists she’s 18, you might just let your standards slip and end up doing something that 30 years later is considered morally outrageous. Terrible terrible crimes. I’m not defending paedos, but I’m sure the swinging 70s allowed morally dodgy behaviour. Behaviour that at the back of the mind of a celebrity in the 21st century a voice is screaming “Leave the door open at all times, have a chaperone  and call your solicitor before stating more than your name, date of birth and favourite colour of Smarties”.

Starbucks refused to pay taxes for years and no change in law would make them. Then the public changed. For roughly a week people decided to go to Costa Coffee rather than Starbucks. Suddenly Starbucks are offering to pay taxes. “Please take our money – we are good guys after all”. Pure marketing, but why? The public made a slight change, which forced Starbucks to change where laws would have made no impact.

Why these comments? Can you joint the dots?

If people stopped buying newspapers that sell an image of women that most women find wrong in some way; If people are shunned, joked about or talked about for buying these newspapers – what would happen? Would their sales suffer? Would they change their published ideas of how women should behave/ dress/ be treated?

How would you treat a member of your workplace who came in with a copy of Penthouse and just left it on their desk? In 1970, in a mostly male office this wouldn’t be outrageous. Think “Gene Hunt”. “Think On the Buses”

Drink driving is now considered a pariah act. not so in 1970’s.

The Starbucks waffle was to highlight that a comment was made publicly “These people aren’t paying for the NHS services of their staff, their staff’s education or the services that they use (road maintenance, water services etc)”. Don’t think that National Insurance covers all expenses in life.

People were warned and Starbucks were warned. Shortly afterwards, sales dropped. 2 plus 2 suddenly made 4!!!!

You need someone to make a statement (“Petrol is too expensive and we are going to stop all traffic on the roads this Sunday”) and then the consequences have a reason. Policy makers can identify what happened and why they are reacting.

So….. Where is the Mary Whitehouse for the 21st century? Where is the moral outrage pressure group telling people not to buy certain newspapers, coffee from certain shops and ethically dodgy chocolate?

I must find one.

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or set one up.

Spinning plates

I’m a spinning disk in a world of spinning disks. My particular plate has settled to comfortable rpm. Other plates are spinning at their own rates. The sticks that hold us all afloat bend under our weight and we bob up and down occasionally touching and clattering.

I’m on the outside and often I feel I spin in the opposite direction to the others.

I like being outside. I have fantasized for decades about being alone on a desert island; about being deaf or just sitting in a wood, alone and silent. I look into at the clattering mess and sparks of the other plates and feel happy where I am.

I have captured moments in a car after a busy night, (that followed a busy day), silent and alone. Engine off and radio powered down, I listen to my breath and try to silence that. With my eyes closed I can feel relaxation seep into me like the brown into a sugar cube held in a spoon, descending into hot tea.

Usually there is a noise in the street of someone revving their engine, kicking a can or shouting drunkenly. Last week I sat in the car in silence and about 10 teenagers walked down the middle of the road and a car had to stop and beep it horn. Tsk! Some kids slowing down another driver’s spinning plate.

I feel my plate is slowing down naturally and I’m happy to let it.

Thought Police.

Have you ever heard or read an article that made you think? Something enlightening. A thought provoking idea written out or information that you didn’t know which made you stop and think? I have read things or listened to radio shows that made me turn the radio off or put down the newspaper and just think. Think about what I have read/ heard.

I have thought for days about things. Interesting collections of thoughts resonate for days. Small things remind me of what I have thought about and perpetuate that thought, the ideas, that way of thinking.

Now, turn to a red top newspaper (or worse – a pink top magazine).
Read any headline at random. Someone you never cared about – possibly never heard of – did something distasteful that you didn’t want to know about – so fucking what?

How has that information benefited society? How has the world improved through knowing this shit? This appalling tired of who fucked who / who beat up who/ who got drunk/ who takes drugs – does not improve our planet.

An alien watching this planet would probably either not bother with contact or (hopefully) annihilate our worthless and tragic existence.

Now: painful truth time. Who’s to blame? The “media” for feeding us this shit? Us for buying it? Rupert Murdoch gave people what they wanted and it was just shit.

Liken it to junk food – MacDonalds vs Mr and Mrs Smith. Who’s to blame? Clearly when the public talk about food poisoning, Ronald issues instructions on how to cook meat properly. When Jo Public moans about fat and calories, the golden arches put salad on the menu. But that’s not enough. People still push for legislation.

Levenson enquiry? Fuck that! I want thought police. Clearly we are not fit to choose our food, media drinking habits etc.

I want a panel to look at the annual stream of bile flowing out of tabloids and close down the worse offender each and every year. Newspapers would be clamouring to educate entertain and inform. within 20 years the average person should be asking indepth politcal questions over coffee not “did you see Kim Kardashian’s minge?”

Anyway – back to my copy of Viz.