Imagine my delight as I finished my second glass of wine while watching the crucial Conundrum on ‘8 out of 10 cats does Countdown’ (or what I imagine regular countdown will look like once Generation X start collecting their pensions)
Secondly, I love to see politicians making absolute d**ks out of themselves, trying to be cool for the younger voters, and generally being lying squirming s**t bags.
So I poured myself another fat glass of wine in preparation for what I imagined would be the biggest train wreck since Macaulay Culkin!
But as it turns out, he actually did ok. For a spineless, quivering, ass goblin he came off pretty well. I mean, he didn’t answer a lot of questions, I kind of understand why, but by the end of it I didn’t hate him! Which was odd, in some parts he was actually quite funny, and he was a good sport, I didn’t even hate him when he threw a grapefruit at a disabled guy.
Was it enough to make me want to vote Lib Dem? No, even if they boot that little haemorrhoid out of the party, I still wouldn’t vote for them. As George Bush said; “Fool me once… Shame on… Shame on you”… I forgot where I was going with this!
My point is, to a certain degree, we saw Nick Clegg last night, I imagine he had his very own Malcolm Tucker (that link is a million miles of NSFW by the way!) waiting in the wings ready to pounce with a tirade of abuse for the flippy floppy c**t during the ads. But at least for a change we saw that the people making the decisions are humans, just like us. I think that’s the real trick to getting the younger vote, people say that the young don’t care about politics, but from what I’ve seen that just isn’t true.
I think that young people don’t see humans running the country, they see politicians, just like we don’t see humans on a movie screen, we see celebrities. The world of politics might as well be set in the Marvel Universe for all the relevance we see in our daily lives, the amount of petitions I’ve signed, protests I’ve seen, Facebook groups I’ve joined, and all for nothing! The politicians just don’t want to know!
They either don’t care what we’re saying, or, they simply can’t hear us. Either way, we might as well be yelling at the Hulk to fist f**k Loki when watching the Avengers, for all the good it will do.
But maybe there is hope, I know that last night we saw a failed politician appearing on a comedy show, it’s not much. But if more politicians were willing to step outside of their gilded cages and actually behave like the fragile, vulnerable, errable human beings they are for five minutes, maybe we can begin to have real discourse regarding the clump of dirt we all call home.
But you could say to me, “Oh, but Charlie you handsome SOB, politicians have been going on TV for ages.” and I would agree, but if you look at people like Boris Johnson, love him or loathe him, he is very popular. I think this is because of his seeming low tolerance for bulls**t, same with Farage, popular guy (sort of anyway) and apparently ‘Man of the People’. They both have one thing in common, they are fallable, and they seem to admit it.
Imagine instead if politicians didn’t just seem to be like that, but were actually like that. Imagine if instead of cover ups, and resignations, they held their hands up and said, “Yeah, I’m human, I f**ked up”. I know I would have infinitely more respect for that person, might even vote for them. Soley because I can see that they are just like me, which is what I want in a representative, not some styled, pre-packaged, spoon fed puppet, a real person, representing real people.
I think if we had that then, maybe, finally, we could begin to build a future that benefits everyone.
Yesterday we saw the end of Page 3, for those of you who don’t know, Page 3 refers to the British tabloid ‘newspaper’ (I use the term loosely) The Sun and its spread on page 3 of a busty topless girl, its been a cornerstone of The Sun since time immemorable. But after years of campaigning by Women’s Rights groups and activists of all kinds it has finally seen its end, sort of anyway, you can still access all the topless women you like if you subscribe to its new online version.
Now I’m not going to sit here and say how upset I am that Page 3 has gone, because I’m not, I think its archaic and mis-representative of women, and actually does harm to the progress of women’s rights everywhere. That’s not to say though that I’m offended by seeing semi or even fully naked women, I am a great admirer of the female figure in all its forms, but I don’t think that it has any place in a newspaper in the 21st Century. I’m also not going to sit here and talk about the shocking way women are represented in the media in general, that’s another topic for another day. What I am going to talk about though is the right of The Sun to print whatever the hell it likes, regardless of our opinion.
I do understand that a newspaper has a moral obligation to print the truth, and we all know that The Sun can sometimes be a little ‘economical’ when it comes to that, but moral obligations aside. The Sun, just like The Guardian, BBC News, even you and I, live and operate in a free country, and we are free to write, print, or shout about, anything we want. If The Sun wants to print a full-page picture of a topless woman, who are we to say that they can’t? It’s not like these women are being exploited, they choose to pose for these shoots, they get paid well to do it, and as far as I’m aware they go into it with their eyes open. Their body is their business as far as I’m concerned.
“I’m proud to have stood with thousands of women who fought to see the end of page three and today I’m delighted its gone” – 20th Jan 2015
That quote came 13 days after the horrific mass shooting at Charlie Hedbo’s offices, a shooting that happened because a group of people chose to express their freedom of speech by printing a picture that gave offence. I’m not in anyway trying to say that the cowards who shot up Charlie hedbo’s offices and the activists who protested Page 3 are the same! I want to make that very clear, but you must be able to see that there is a parallel there.
Once the world heard of the attack we all stood together, Celebrities, Politicians, Muslims, Christians, Old and Young alike, all marching under the banner of ‘Je Suis Charlie’
and advocating that publications right to print what ever it wanted, and now, not even two weeks later we have people like Russell Brand saying.
“It’s good that page 3 has been dropped it was demeaning and daft. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.”
In France too, I saw a report of a sixteen year old lad getting arrested for posting a picture satirising another Charlie Hedbo cartoon, although the picture was in very poor taste, where was that lads right to print whatever he liked?
I think there are two ways to look at all this, one way is to just get all cynical and say, ‘Oh yeah, well, your only free to do as your told.’ I think this is a cop-out and is counter productive if anything.
Personally I think that freedom of speech is great, but that freedom must go hand in hand with responsibility, Nick Clegg said the other day,
“at the end of the day in a free society people have to be free to offend each other. You cannot have freedom unless people are free to offend each other. We have no right not to be offended.”
And while that is true, we have a responsibility to minimise that offence, it’s not good enough to say ‘this offends me stop doing it’, and its also not good enough to say ‘I’m free to say what I like, it’s your problem if it offends you!’. It’s everybody’s responsibility to find a middle ground, if you find something offensive, don’t look at it, if you are creating something offensive, you need to ask yourself why you’re doing it. And you have to be aware that some people won’t like it! Anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about modern Islam knows that by printing pictures of the Prophet Mohammed you are going to cause deep offence. I really hope that this goes without saying, but here we go anyway, THAT DOES NOT ADVOCATE THE KIND OF VIOLENCE THAT WE SAW THIS MONTH AT CHARLIE HEDBO! What we saw in France was a backlash so extreme that no one could have predicted it, but that being said, they had to expect a reaction.
If I can draw another parallel, people who read this blog will know that I censor my more colourful language, if I use the word c**t, I will asterisk the f**king s**t out of that c**t, that’s because although I am free to swear my filthy mouth out, I know that people may be offended by it, so I have taken responsibility to minimise that offence by way of self censorship.
So to bring this all back to my original point of page three, The Sun (as I said before) have moved their page three online, but that hasn’t stopped the activists from trying to get it banned all together. But maybe instead of pushing harder for the eradication of page three, maybe they should just be celebrating. They have achieved their goal! By page three moving online, only people who want to look at it can/will, The Sun has self-censored itself. Just like I do with my swearing. You can read my blog, and if you don’t know what c**t stands for, you haven’t seen an offensive word, if you do know what it stands for but it offends you, you can pretend I’m saying cost or something, and if you do know what it stands for, and you’re not offended, then you know I’m really saying Jeremy Clarkson.
Obviously this is far too complex an issue to be sorted out by little old me, but I just think that it’s a little soon to be celebrating the demise of Page 3, especially given the current contextual backdrop of the Charlie Hedbo shooting, and that we all need to have a really good think about what freedom of speech really means and how we can work together to minimise its ramifications.
Yesterday I became jealous of a potato, it’s not something I’m proud of but hey it happened. Now potatoes, as I’m sure you are aware have had along history, from the humblest beginnings to becoming the most versatile of all the root vegetables, you can chip ’em, fry ’em, roast ’em, do whatever you want to ’em,
but the variation that dragged the green-eyed Kraken from the depths of my soul, was mashed. I did eventually learn a thing or two from the innocuous vegetable though, things like…
It’s Not All About Likes! (But It Kind Of Is)
I suppose at this point I should explain why I got so jealous over a potato, I was going through my WordPress reader, looking at all the posts from fellow bloggers which I follow, good quality posts as usual. Then I spotted it, a post from an undisclosed person, a post that succinctly described the complicated alchemy that is the creation of mashed potatoes.
At first I was relieved, I was glad that someone had taken the time out of their day to simplify the process for the layman, and then I saw that it had received 8 likes, EIGHT! For instructions on how to mash spuds!
This was how it started, I’ll admit, to my shame, that I was peeved, you see I had posted two days earlier (You can read it by clicking here if you want) and I was struggling to get views, and especially ‘likes’ which isn’t nice, but is part and parcel of the blogging game. But, you know, it got to me, see we writers are a bit of a funny lot, we tell the truth with lies, we’re generally introverted yet obviously exhibitionist, and we write for ourselves but need others to read it, because a word unheard is impotent, but a story untold is, well it’s nothing is it.
Philosophy aside, I never realised untill Potato-gate (I’m calling it that now, why do they add ‘gate’ to the end of these things? What did gates ever do?) how much page views etc actually meant to me, I came into this thinking “I’m just going to write whatever I want and if people don’t like it f**k ’em”.
But it turns out that really, just like everybody out there, all I really want is validation, is that a bad thing? I don’t know, but it is difficult when you’ve worked really hard on a post, spend two hours writing it, another hour editing it, and then scroll through to find that a “recipe” for mashed spuds and a stock image of the offending potato is doing better than you are.
but this leads me neatly on to the next section, here it is, it’s coming……….. Now.
Turns Out People Are Quite Nice Actually.
So I was just about to leave a sarcastic comment on the Potato Post (Instructions not clear… D**k stick in toaster! if you’re interested), but I thought nope, leave it, I’ll only have to end up calling this Potato-D**k-Gate or something and that will just open up a whole new can of worms. So instead I invoked the angsty teenager inside myself and took to Facebook, had myself a little rant, and then went to do the washing up.
But as I washed up, my page views crept up, and suddenly views had surpassed every other day this month, and it felt really nice. Bloody salt of the earth my mates are, every single one of those delicious buggers had a little look at my page, and it really cheered me up, I had people sharing me post and what not, it was good, and that’s when I realised…
Sometimes A Potato Is Just A Potato.
As the evening went on, I soon realised that I actually wasn’t angry at the potato, I was angry at myself. I’ve been a little lazy when it comes to this blog, I’ve neglected it and put sloppy posts up that I hadn’t really thought through or worked on. So the dwindling views and few likes that I was getting was actually just a reflection of my own attitude. It’s easy for me to give up, it’s even easier for me to slip into a trap of not really trying, so that when something goes wrong I can just brush it off and say, ‘Oh well I never really cared about it anyway’, but I can’t do that with writing.
When you have a passion for something, it takes work, and practise, and it means having to hone your skills to become better. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that, did the Emperor give up when the first Death Star was destroyed? No, he went right on and built a second one! That might be a terrible example, given that the second one was destroyed by a bunch of teddy bears and a squid, but you get the gist.
So from now on I am going to blog with renewed vigour, I can rebuild, I have the technology! Oh and in case you were wondering how to make mashed potato you have to;
1. Get some potatoes.
2. Boil them.
3. Add milk/cream and butter.
4. Mash ’em.
A couple of months ago I lost my phone in a gay bar, it must have been picked up through the night and sold off or whatever, unfortunately though it left me phone-less, without enough money to buy a new one, and it completely shattered my opinion that the gay community were far too fabulous to ever commit such a heinous act.
Since then I ordered a new sim card and put it in an old Sony Erikson I had lying around the house, however due to an un-avoidable accident (launching the phone at a wall while calling it a Twat is un-avoidable right?) I have been once again left bereft of a phone, save for my landline. But in the last few weeks I’ve noticed a few weird things, and I’d like to share them with you now, things like…
People Treating Me As If I’ve Contracted A Fatal Disease.
After week three of being without a phone I got a call on the landline from my Mum, she was worried because I hadn’t been replying to texts and because when she called it went straight to answer phone. I’m not going to get into the fact that even though she purported to be worried about me it still took her three weeks to call (Thanks Mo-om!), but when I told her that my phone had kissed a brick wall intensely and passionately she responded ‘Are you okay? What are you going to do?’ like I had just told her I had contracted Ebola.
My brother was exactly the same, telling me that ‘I had to get it sorted as soon as possible’, like I had caught Syphilis and if I didn’t get some antibiotics soon my face would fall off. It’s just a phone, this is the 21st century, there are a myriad of ways to get hold of someone, email, Facebook, MSN, the landline, you could write a letter, if you’re feeling particularly ornithological you could use carrier pigeon, it’s not like those 11 digits are the sole way of communicating is it?
At some point I expect to be watching TV and see an advert with my family and friends impotently trying to use their phones to call me, and a well-meaning actor doing a voice over telling the good British public that ‘for just £11.99 a month you could sponsor a man like Charlie, and give him the freedom to be texted at any time of day or night, just £11.99 will give Charlie the tools to check Facebook anytime anywhere, please call this number today.’
It doesn’t end there though because people also assume that you can’t complete the simplest of tasks without a phone, for instance, I have to be at work by 5:30am, and when my boss found out I didn’t have a phone he went into full panic mode, ‘but how will you wake up?’ he asked. So I had to describe to him this machine the ancients used to force themselves awake to tend their bushels of grain or whatever it is people did back in the days of yore, the Alarm Clock. Or Ye Olde Alarme Cloke, to give it its proper name. Its like phones have become such a powerful and multipurpose device that even the thought of something else being able to do the same job is total anathema to our minds.
But of course this isn’t to say that being ‘sans phone’ isn’t without its annoyances, such as…
Meeting People Becomes A Herculean Feat Of Logistical Skill.
I’m not talking about making new friends here; I’m not really one for meeting new people anyway, I’m talking about meeting up with the people I already know. For Instance when I was planning a trip down to my hometown for a weekend, I had to revisit all those skills I thought I had left in the 90’s, things like, pre-arranging times and meeting places, organising my time so that I was punctual (not an easy thing for me to do I can assure you), and writing phone numbers on scraps of paper so that I can call people when I inevitably fail at punctuality (My family staged an intervention when I was caught scrolling EBay for Filofax’s).
The problem with all this is that I am plagued with single-mindedness, I can literally complete one task at a time, if I try any more my brain turns to goo and I’m left shivering on the floor in a pool of my own urine. Even when I’m cooking, I have to complete all my chopping first, then I do boiling, then frying, so trying to keep track of times, and numbers, and people, and trying to co-ordinate my day so that I am in the right place at the right time has left me smelling faintly of urine on more than one occasion, especially when you consider the fact that…
The Availability And Condition Of Public Phone Boxes Is Shocking.
Look I get it, the future is now, and virtually everybody in the western world has a mobile these days, this renders the humble phone box practically obsolete and other than Superman, junkies, and the occasional person in need of a good bladder emptying, who uses phone boxes?
Well, Me, that’s who!
When I’ve been out and about on my travels sometimes I’ve needed to call someone, and whenever I’ve needed to do this over the last few months first I’ve had to find one, time for some audience participation, when was the last time you saw a phone box? Can you locate it? Imagine it in your mind, now blow it up! Yeah, phone boxes have been disappearing at an exponential rate, so all those phone boxes you used when you were out of credit fifteen years ago are probably not there anymore.
So once you actually find one (it took me half an hour to do this on one afternoon), you have to face the humiliation of searching through your wallet for the scrap of paper with all your numbers on, or dig through your Filofax depending on whether or not your family are Filofax Nazi’s who stop you from buying such an item (Thanks again Mo-om!!). Then you have to suffer even more humiliation by entering one, honestly, I’d receive less dodgy looks if I entered a sex shop wearing nothing but a tutu with I LOVE NIPPLE CLAMPS emblazoned across the front.
So you go through all of that, get your 60p to put it in the machine, and find out it only takes phone cards, so you find another, phone cards, and another, and another. It’s like BT one day just said ‘F**k it, no one uses these things anyway, let’s just make them phone card only then we won’t have to piss about with all those 20 pence’s.’ Then they all had a line of cocaine and went to lunch.
Like I say, I can’t really complain, I know that I’m in the tiny minority of people who don’t own a mobile, it’s simply not profitable for BT to keep operating payphones just so I can call someone to say I’m running half an hour late because I got distracted by a fairly amusing squirrel.
But one thing I can complain about is the utter bell end that I discovered (after wandering around Weymouth for an hour to find a payphone that accepted, you know, money and s**t) had got some bolt cutters or something, and clipped the receiver from the torso of the phone! Two things went through my mind, one, why would someone want the receiver of a public pay phone; do those things get a good price on EBay? Is there some kind of underground payphone receiver black market I’m un aware of?
Two, Why would anyone go to those sort of lengths to steal something so ridiculous it’s the kind of thing you might conceivably look at while drunk or something and go yeah, I’ll nick that. But in order to complete the task you would actually have to go home, find your bolt cutters, then come back, I don’t know about you but my commitment to a kebab can waver in the space of two minutes when I’m drunk, let alone my commitment to random acts of vandalism.
So yeah, these are some of the things I’ve noticed, but in many ways it has been nice to be without a phone. If I go out I know I’m not going to be disturbed, I’m able to be much more ‘in the moment’ with people because I don’t have the availability of distraction, but the time has come for me to join the land of the living and buy a new phone. I’ve ordered the sim card, now I’m just waiting for someone just like you to call 0800 GIV-A-FONE and pledge just £11.99 a month, please, call today, I’m proper skint…