Things I hate #16

Bus stops. Why are there so many of the fuckers? Come on! I was driving into town the other morning, stuck behind a fat single decker, staring at some advert for a pawnbrokers plastered on the back, telling me how much cider I could buy with my unwanted gold, slowly being poisoned by diesel fumes, and at one point we were stopping every hundred bloody yards. At the most. And I couldn’t get past because we were on some route that had never been planned for buses. It was a pain in the arse. I’d no sooner see someone get on the bus, a cloud of thick black smoke would cough out of the back, it’d set off, wheeze its way forward for about ten seconds and then it’d be stopping again. What’s the story with that? How can that be efficient? For the fuel economy of the bus and the line of traffic crawling along behind it or for traffic management? It doesn’t make any sense. What are they thinking? I remember catching the school bus on my way to another day of recruiting propaganda for the NCB and a dinner made up of BSE-riddled beef, in those halcyon days when we were expecting the Soviets to nuke us every other week and Aztec Camera were being hailed as the new Beatles, there was a good half a mile between stops. Nothing wrong with that. It seemed fair enough to me. And then came the 1985 Transport Act and deregulation. Bloody Thatcher. Which means that buses can drive down cul-de-sacs and into every fucking estate, desperate for business, rather than sticking to the main roads like they used to, and you seem to have a bus stop every ten paces. So you get a twelve tonne (fully laden) Routemaster bus clarting down a narrow track residential road, weaving in and out of parked cars. Which makes sense, because bus drivers are known for their steady driving and consideration to other motorists, aren’t they? Cunts. So now we have bus stops anywhere and everywhere. These days if they raise their voices a bit, people at one stop can have a conversation with someone up the road at the next stop. It’s late again, isn’t? Yes, and when it comes it’ll stink of piss. It’s fucking stupid.

 

Added to this, it’s well known that Britain is actually sinking into the waves. I saw it on Alan Titchmarsh’s British Isles – A Natural History. Alan proved it by standing on top of Aonach Mor, wrapped up in a red parka, holding a spirit level. Alan showed that Britain’s like Venice on a bigger scale but with less gondoliers. We’re going down. The foundations just won’t take the weight. Footings have had it. This is partly due to the ‘more the merrier’ immigration policy and Gordon Brown’s rancorous obsession with building more houses and more houses and more fucking houses until the entire country looks like a prosperous Stalinistic council estate, with every house watching Eastenders in a different language. Posso eu ter uma pinta de pálido, Peggy? Конечно вы можете, милочка. Как ваши сливы делают? Mollig en vast. 厚顏無恥! Did Gordon choose Blue Mink’s ‘Melting Pot’ when he went on Desert Island Discs? The short-sighted twat. But this Septic Isle is also going down under the shuddering weight of obesity. I blame Colleen fucking Nolan and Kerry bastard Katona. Mum’s gone to Iceland. Mum’s bought saturated industrial fat and pig snouts dressed up as quality save pork sausages. Fifty links for a quid. Mum’s bought profiteroles that each have the concentrated fat content of Michelle McManus, Russell Grant and James Corden rolled together in a ball and compressed to the size of a Malteser. Each like a ticking Tardis of fat. And with all these bloody bus stops we’re pandering to the fatties. We’re encouraging people to expect to be picked up and dropped off at their door. Get the fuckers walking. Let’s burn off that adipose tissue and all those sugars. And what about the carbon footprint, eh? Global warming is fucking us all up. The polar bears and the penguins are shitting it. Greenhouse gases and over-consumption. De-forestation and fossil fuels belching into the atmosphere. The ice caps are melting up on the Pennines. Manchester’s going to be underwater by the end of the Century at this rate. Sheffield will be the New Atlantis. OK, so there’s a Ying to every Yang. But do the bus companies care? Do they fuck. Like the bus in front of me the other morning. Start, stop, start, stop, start, stop, start, stop, start, stop, start, stop, start, stop, start, stop, start, stop all within half a mile. Everyone on that bus might as well take a car tyre and just fucking burn it; one car tyre pumping out toxins everyday for every journey they make. And then eat a big bag of crisps that have been deep fried in lard and dripping. Colleen Nolan, Gordon Brown and public transport are killing the planet. They are the Axis of Evil. We’ve fucking had it.

Things I hate #15

Paint tester pots. Those little sampler kits that you daub on your walls like swatches to decide whether it’s going to be Natural Hessian, Honiton Lace or Egyptian Cotton for the living room. That help you make that crucial, hard to reach decision between Menstrual Scarlet or Vomit Yellow for the back bedroom. As Dulux says: ‘Not sure what shade to go for? Experiment with color (?!) in the comfort of your own home to help you decide on the perfect shade.’ Yeah, right. And never see the back of the bastard while ever you’ve got plaster on the wall. Experiment my arse. They make it sound so innocent, so harmless. And that’s what they said about Ravioli and the male G-spot. But experimenting with colour and these little tester pots isn’t innocent. It isn’t harmless. Because even after three coats of whatever colour you ultimately go for, whether it be Morning Faecal Brown or Crusty Poultice Beige, the impression of the tester pot stays there, lingering. Like a night fart nestling itself down deep in the folds of the duvet, crouching, ready to surprise you when you unfurl yourself in the morning. Not the colour of the tester pot necessarily but the impression the mark leaves on the wall. Be warned. Take heed. It bites deep like acid. It’s like an acne scar. So that when you’re finally there with your lovely smooth surfaces, the gorgeous soft silk emulsion covering every wall, house proud, feeling chuffed that you have found the perfect colour to represent your busy but stylish lifestyle, you will suddenly see that you have these impressions of where you’d tried out the samplers. And there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s like seeing a Page 3 girl with stretch marks on her tits. Something beautiful ruined. It jars. It ruins the entire effect. It drives you ‘round the fucking bend.

 

And have you seen the price? Bloody hell. They’re not cheap. Drop for drop they’re more expensive than gold. Fact. You can buy weapons grade Plutonium for less. In some countries tester pots have actually become currency. In France, for instance, as the Euro topples. One sample pot of Crown’s Sickly Blancmange Pink will keep you in baguettes for a year.

 

I put my testers in the hallway. Fucking arsehole that I am. Following the directions carefully. Neutral light, a spot where I could stand clear and make a comparison. All that. Cushty. I stepped back and, from the choice of three I’d daubed, plumped for Natural Hessian. Tottered back off to B & Q and bought an ocean of it. Banged it on with the roller. Went back when it had dried. Nodded. Then saw the indentations where the bleeding tester marks had been. What the fuck?! A closer, worried inspection. What the fuck?! Two more coats. What the fuck?! Still there. I couldn’t get shut. Whatever you do, if you feel compelled to use these don’t be tempted to doodle a cock or anything like that, thinking what a funny bastard you are. You’ll be stuck with it forever. Glaring. Staring you out. The Jap’s eye bracing you up. Like those marks on my wall did every time I walked into the hall. Shoulders down. And now it’s only thanks to the Beatles that the tester swatches are out of sight. A Hard Days Night-period John, Paul, George and Ringo have their backs to them. You can always rely on the Fab Four. But you can see by the look on Ringo’s sad face that he isn’t impressed. The doleful eyes turned down at the corners. Paul has an eyebrow raised. It’s plain as day that he’s thinking someone’s had my pants down. George telling me they’re not that bad. To take it easy, man, be philosophical about it. John Lennon? Well, he’s a swine, John Lennon.

 

Obviously this is all part of the make over culture that sees Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen turn a council house in Thurnscoe into a baroque playground for foppish dandies with little more than a visit to Focus DIY and a bit of stale creativity. We’ll give them some pleats and put the toilet in the lounge, it worked last week. Tester pots and feature walls and laminate flooring. When every fucker thinks a fleur-de-lis stencil spray painted on the wall in gold makes their house seem like the Sun King’s Versailles with an LCD TV. Though I’ve noticed that the welter of makeover programmes that used to show us how to make throw cushions out of old underpants and staple rush matting to the walls have thinned out with the recession biting and repossessions going through the roof. It’s not much fun doing a sixty minute makeover when the bailiffs are kicking in the door twenty minutes in and going out with the sofa. Though it might make for good reality TV. Terri Dwyer and Linda Barker trading punches on the driveway with some blokes from Bright House, trying to drag a Nintendo Wii that Linda’s just festooned with tangerine and purple chintz back into the house. It’s all bollocks. Forget the tester pots, forget the pierced Moresque radiator covers, forget the rococo toilet seats that play ‘Ode to joy’ when you sit down, and the throw backs, tie backs and sling backs, and the jigsaw cut MDF. The Rolling Stones had it right. Paint the fucker black. Black as night. Black as coal.

Things I hate #14

Adverts that are pitching what is quite obviously a load of crap. And since TV went digital anybody watching Dave or Yesterday is ball deep in them. Second-rate companies are scrabbling for your attention in that five minutes commercial break from Top Gear or Time Team. They tend to come in waves, mirroring either the time of year or the state of the economy. The latest crop is all the cash for gold offers. Basically you send them your family heirlooms in a pre-paid envelope, they tell you they’re worth shit, and you get a cheque which you spend on some cider. Deal or no deal? I’m tempted to think that with these gold-hungry firms it’s like car insurance, where though there are hundreds of names listed in reality there are only about three or four underwriters at the end of it. The idea being to saturate the market so no one else gets a slice of the cake. So that your Great Granddad’s 9ct gold cigarette holder bought for him by his sweetheart before he was shipped out to France and that saw him through WW1 and has a bullet dint in it from where it saved his life from a Jerry maxim gun at Passchendaele will end up in the same melting pot regardless of which TV firm you hawk it to for £2.50. But as one satisfied customer said: ‘Cider’s cider.’

 

I’m worried what’s behind the sudden rise in gold prices. Maybe some kind of Dr. No Mega Villain somewhere in the world (deep out in the lonely Pacific or the South China Sea on an island that isn’t on any map and is cloaked from Google Earth by a clever use of blue sheets fastened together and big magnets) is developing a super weapon that will make him Master of the World. Some huge gold laser cannon made from gold that eats gold and fires a golden city-burning laser beam. So your old engagement ring or Granny’s broach could ultimately help to bring down Western Democracy and enslave us all. Think on.

 

Since Gordon Brown’s economic miracle was shown up to be smoke and mirrors (he cashed in a load of our gold back in 1999 to fund another election victory. Selling four hundred tonnes worth. I wonder how big the pre-paid envelope was for all that? And he got a shit deal), and we’re facing a future where we have to sell our body parts to the utilities firms (cleverly privatised by Thatcher to fund an election victory) in order to keep warm, cook food or light our homes, loan companies have stepped into the breach to help us keep spending. The latest are the loans companies offering ‘tide you over’ loans at 2600%. *with a really small disclaimer. Big-hearted, altruistic bastards that they are. Digital TV is plagued by loan companies and their over-willingness to help. Picture Loans, Ocean Finance, Norton Finance (announced in Rotherham’s finest sing-song, out of tune accent), Yes! Loans, Fast Credit Finance, Jaws Credit Brokers and on and on and on… It’s a sign of the times. A barometer for our Nation’s affluence. Like Peter Andre’s tan and what Tony Blair thinks he might get away with asking for some after dinner speaking.

 

Next up is JML. JML the modern face of useless bric-a-brac. How much ex-NASA technology does JML have? And why the fuck did NASA spend $6,000,000,000,000 developing an egg poacher/boiler/fryer/scrambler/omelette maker in the first place? Where was the practical thinking behind that fucking brainwave? How do you want yours, Buzz? Three minutes with a nice runny yolk, Neil. FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! I GOT BOILING WATER ALL OVER ME, MAN! IT’S GONE WEIGHTLESS! ARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH MY HANDS! MY HANDS! FUCK, MY HANDS! SHIT IT’S GETTING INTO THE CIRCUIT BOARDS! MAN, IT’S STRIPPED THE SKIN FROM MY FACE! FUCK, WE’RE LOSING THRUSTERS! HOUSTON, WE GOTTA A MOTHERFUCKING PROBLEM! ARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH! MY FUCKING HANDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! According to JML NASA have also had a hand in designing Cornish pasty moulds, ironing board covers and clothes pegs. Is there nothing those slap head techs can’t turn their hands to? What about tea cosies? Have they looked at tea cosies?

 

And then there’s the exercise equipment that will turn any takeaway-loving bloater into a Gladiators contestant by the time you can open another packet of Minstrels. Come the summer when you’ll be grilling yourself on Lanzarote or Xantia, you’ll be ripped to fuck if you invest in one of these little beauties. Yeah, right. Cutting out the bollocks, the advert goes: ‘Hate being fat? Don’t want to eat less or do any exercise? Want a placebo effect that makes you feel better about yourself for a few weeks? Buy this shit and stick it in your garage or the back bedroom, it’ll give you two months grace while you go down the pies and pretend that you’re doing something about all that lard. Only £49.99 inc P & P. Bargain.’ The list of wonder exercise products available on mail order is huge. Ab-trimmer. Lateral thigh trainer. Ab roller. The latest I’ve noticed is the Perfect Push-Up, developed, they’ll have you know, by an Ex-US Navy Seal. You might as well bolt a couple of door handles to the floor in the living room. Or just randomly buy yourself a fucking raccoon. You’ll lose as much weight and build as much muscle. And all these things are apparently constructed from the kind of military grade materials you’d need to survive a direct hit from a two megaton nuclear bomb. Why? Not that I can say anything, I have the ‘Two minute thigh and bum toner’ built by Sergeant Jim ‘Scotty’ McClintock, formerly of the 22 regiment SAS. Apparently the guys at Credenhill swear by them. FOR FUCK’S SAKE!!! GET A BASTARD GRIP!!!!!  Where were Theo Paphitis and Duncan Bannatyne to piss on someone’s ambitions and throw shit at their dreams when you needed them? The Earth only has a finite number of resources. Did we really need to waste these precious building blocks of the future on the Vibration Power Plate Massager? Or the truly unbelievable Ab Toning Chair Machine?!

 

Obviously sales of all this shit are helped if some down at heel celebrity lends there name to the scam. Ooh, Carol Vorderman’s good with numbers, so this must be a good personal loan deal. Esther Rantzen crusades for consumers’ rights, I can trust her… How callous and calculating is that? We’ve got Gloria Hunniford and Michael Parkinson selling what is essentially death insurance, we used to have Thora Hird touting stair lifts. What next, Michael Barrymore punting out swimming pools? Pool party? Any time of the day or night with one of these beauties… They might as well go out doing door to door scams with bogus officials, robbing pensioners of their life savings. Twats.

 

These adverts leave me feeling violated. Someone might as well have stuck their finger right up my fucking arse. One minute I’m watching Clarkson take a Lamborghini over some Norwegian glacier in a race against huskies, the next moment some twat is trying to get the gold fillings out of my teeth. Or sell me the all in one salad strainer-cum-toe nail remover. Or get me to sign up for a loan with just one kidney down as a deposit. It’s another world intruding into my home. A sadder, more tawdry, desperate world. And looking at the shit they’re selling it makes me think that advertising on TV these days  must cost next to nothing. There are so many channels desperate to sell their ad space. It must be like putting a card in the Post Office window or on the free ads board at Tesco. Next to the hamsters to a good home or the Ab Trimmer that’s new and unused. They’re selling crap. Next week I’m expecting adverts on Virgin for some bloke’s old garden shed from down the road. But I can imagine the producers of Watchdog seeing the adverts and rubbing their hands. Looks like we’ve got material for another series, Justin! Really what these adverts are evidence of is that out there, loose in the community, free to wander at large and spend money, there is a percentage of the population who are more gullible than you’d ever believe possible. Sell your gold for biscuits, buy a vertical elliptical arse trainer, take out a loan that you’ll be paying back for two centuries at ten thousand percent, you might as well go out right now and buy a copy of The Dandy or The Beano and order yourself some X-Ray Specs. These companies are only one step away from Nigeria’s Mr James Azang and Dr Blessing Mtube out to give you fifty million US dollars for a small investment and your bank details. They are Carpetbaggers. They are shit-kicking charlatans. Don’t be the thick bastard they’re taking you for. Keep your money in the bank, Mock the Week will be back on in a minute. Just hold on.

Go on, tell me that the bloke that says ‘wonga’ doesn’t have you reaching for something sharp…

Did you know…?

The Isle of Man is an independent state with its own language, laws and customs. The island recognizes the Queen as head of state in the guise of High Wizard and as such pays a tithe to Her Majesty on all turnips grown on the island together with a tribute of ten maidens each Candlemass. The point being that there are NO turnips grown on the island due to the highly acidic soil. On visits the Queen wears an ancestral headress made entirely from driftwood and seaweed.

 

Property disputes on the Isle Of Man are still settled by scissors-paper-stone. Former F1 motor racing champ and island resident Nigel Mansell recently lost his swimming pool and barbecue area after his next door neighbour drew stone against his scissors in a Douglas court room. He is currently appealing the decision, which will see him face his neighbour head-to-head in a game of bar billiards.

 

News Archive, 28th November 2001

Things I hate #13

Polite humour. It’s the verbal equivalent of touch rugby. The rules are simple. No tackles and everyone surrenders the ball meekly. No one says anything genuinely funny and everybody laughs like they’ve just heard Pete and Dud’s ‘Greta Garbo’ sketch for the first time. No harm done, you might think. And to some degree it’s understandable. It’s the sort of humour you engage in when you first meet people. Like an ice breaker. It shows you’re human and not a tight arse but you’re not too in the face either with mental issues and emotional complications. That you’re not some cold automaton that’s out to stab everyone in the back for that next promotion but you’re not a whacked out weirdo with a wobbly personality who can never be taken seriously or left alone with cutlery. It’s the sort of banter for when you’re first wading in with a new group of people and feeling the bottom to see how deep it goes. Let’s face it, you don’t want to steam in with some crack about fanny farts on your first day, do you? No one liners about erections. But once polite humour goes beyond that point, once it becomes a routine, once it becomes a part of your character then it is the habit of twats. Be warned, don’t trust these people. They are zombies in suits from Next and hooded tops from Gap. Listen to the hollow, mirthless laughter. Look into their joyless eyes. They have no souls.

 

The key to polite humour is trivia. It generally expands on someone minor occurrence and hammers on and on and fucking on about it until it seeps into your DNA. Like Jim from accounts always brings two sandwiches for his lunch in a Tupperware box. One day he brings one sandwich on white bread and one on brown because he’d run out of white/brown bread (whichever he normally favours). That’s it, end of story. And that will have all the office/factory/wherever in hysterics for hours. It’s comedy gold to these soulless bastards. Some comment from it will be picked out, repeated endlessly and become a catchphrase to show how cutting edge and witty everyone is. Here he comes, here’s the Breadman. Here he comes, here’s the Breadman. Here he comes, here’s the Breadman. Here he comes, here’s the Breadman. Here he comes, here’s the Breadman. Here he comes, here’s the Breadman. Here he comes, here’s the Breadman. Here he comes, here’s the Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. Breadman. And each time you hear it you – which you will, over and fucking over and fucking over – you will want to hang yourself from the nearest stairwell. Which, to be fair, is probably a good reaction. It means you still have a chance. Run now while you’re still feeling like that or get some fucking rope before it’s too late.

 

To paraphrase Brad Pitt in Ocean’s Eleven, polite humour is the kind of joke or saying or observation that you might blandly like then forget forever the moment you think about something else. It is nothing.

 

But then there is often an element of bullying to polite humour. Or rather, in it’s response. Polite laughter. Is there anything more toadying than that? The forced chuckles of minions. Some boss or gaffer or line manager coming out with a crap gag and everyone is strapping on the Tena Ladies like they’re bladders are about to rip open, corpsing until they can’t breathe. Oh, you’re such a witty fucking bastard, boss. With such a blinding, amazing sense of humour. I don’t know where you get them from. It’s like having Tony Hancock in the room with us. And can I have next Wednesday off? Can I be excused from toilet cleaning duty this week? My arse. You might as well get down on your knees now and eat someone else’s shit and keep tucking in to those turds for the rest of your miserable life. And what sort of cunt stands there and soaks all that piss up? That is the dark, fascist side to polite humour. When everyone laughs like their job and a pleasant working environment relies on it. Chuckling along to a gag by Hitler as you walk on eggshells through the Reichstag or the admin office.

 

But polite humour can set up some beautiful situations. Like when the office banter is in mid-flow when you get some Silverback with an ego the size of the Grand Canyon blundering into the conversation and simply having to dominate. Here he comes, Guy the Gorilla in studded boots, ready for a game of rugby sevens, bulked out on Creatine and shots of testosterone, keen to dish out the late tackles and cauliflower ears. Eager to be smashing teeth and breaking bones. Screaming out, ‘look at me! Look at me! Look at ME!’ ‘You know your problem, Jane?’ he says, following Jane’s recital of that week’s office catchphrase for the fifth thousand time. Jane looks up from her keyboard and the Fruit Corner she’s nibbling on, poised for some tame back-handed compliment, a smiley look on her face. Ooh, come on, bring it on… If she didn’t know her problem she soon would. ‘Is that you’re a two faced cow that needs some cock inside you.’ Boosh! This body tackle sends Jane crashing broken to the side lines by the photocopier and has the ball spinning in the air. A look frozen on her face. Suddenly she’s off her Fruit Corner and it’s going to be a night of Love Actually and two 500g bars of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk when she gets home. Bob from IT thinks they’re still playing soft boy’s rules and dashes in, grabbing hold of the ball. He tucks it under his arm and makes for the goals. ‘Toosh,’ he rejoins. ‘Breadman!’ Silverback turns to Bob. One word: ‘Bender.’ Silence sweeps through the room. Cue some polite chuckles then. You soulless cunts.