Cumbernauld and Shipley

A couple of weeks ago I was on a British Airways flight to Italy. These days this involves a ‘short haul economy dining’ experience lovingly crafted by Marks & Spencer. Gone are the days of infinite free mini wines on the way to tipping a man in a gimp suit into a canal in some desolate European burgh. It’s now £2.30 for a ‘Twinings English Breakfast tea 12oz’ on the nation’s flagship carrier and oh how proud they make us all.

On this flight was a man with a desperate thirst for £1.80 worth of bottled water. You can only pay by card these days, ever since airlines realised that without the weight of a bag of pound coins you can fit an extra seat on each wing, so this man handed over his plastic.

“Would you like a receipt?”

“Yes please.”

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The afterwank

When I was young, back when this was all fields, I vowed that I would never be one of those people who stopped caring about things.

Old people would tell us we really couldn’t change a damn thing, but we knew our generation was different. We walked down streets wearing wristbands that said ‘Make Poverty History’ and just knew we’d save the world. All we needed was a few people richer than us to give up their money first, then we’d maybe start chipping in too, once the student loans were paid off and we’d had a nice holiday and a couple of kids, and obviously they’ll need money for a house and to be honest these people should probably be helping themselves before they come to us for handouts but the point is we cared.

Old people just gave up, but we’d never do that. And I can honestly say I have the same politics as I did in 2005. I don’t squint warily at brown people and my investment portfolio stretches no further than the two cans of Guinness I left unswallowed in the fridge last night. I want more than anything to leave, but the last thing I want is to Leave.

And yet, with the tragic inevitability of the toast landing jam-side-down, the old people were right.

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Death by Playmobil

I passed my driving test 23 years ago. I started driving so long ago, Arsene Wenger was in charge of a Japanese team with a name like an Austrian mountain troll and Henri Paul was still alive. I miss Henri. We all do.

I’m neither good at driving nor bad at it; I’ve never won a race and I’ve never knocked two people off a tandem. Generally speaking I can sit behind the wheel of a car and know, with a reasonable degree of confidence, how to make it move forwards, backwards and side to side. But I do have one question.

What the fuck is the handbrake doing down there?

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Pomp

You know that sinking feeling you get when you bump into an old friend you haven’t seen for years? You go for coffee, a beer, something stronger. You reminisce about the old times and compare notes on the new – what’s that, Paul? Married now? Kids, is it? Four of the fuckers? Why, of course I’d love to see photos of them!

At least in the old days, this farcical pretence of interest in the progeny of others would only last for the time it takes to brandish a couple of beat-up Polaroids from their wallet or purse; now, the wonders of modern technology mean that Paul or Janet or whoever the fuck can bash you over the head with a slideshow of their sprogs until hell freezes over.

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Stay frosty

War is hell. Women and children are under terrible threat and nobody’s doing a damn thing about it. Politicians seem powerless to stop it and outrage is everywhere.

Even those far from the front lines have their routines badly disrupted. But this is no ordinary conflict. This enemy is different – insidious, targeting the weakest in society, culling the sick and the old like a less cuddly Shipman. It’s an unwinnable war against a truly evil adversary.

Yeah, it’s a bit nippy out.

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Maximum AI

Well that’s it then. It’s all over.

Plato. Lincoln. Einstein. Parks. Tendulkar. Churchill and Pryor. Schindler. Tubman. Wilberforce, Hendrix and Peel. Johnson and Jonson. Fleming. Pankhurst. Dec.

These names and so many more light up the sky like Sana’a at dusk. The history of humanity is a tale of triumph against the odds. But every good thing must come to an end, and that end is upon us.

Someone has actually built a T-800.

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No Way Fam

It’s often tempting to peer back into the mists and wonder what our ancestors would make of us now.

I wonder what Agincourt’s Henry V would have made of the British Army’s bold new ‘Belonging’ campaign, where it’s made clear the forces are happy to take on even the spongiest cupcake because literally anyone can be a human shield in the age of equality. “What if I get emotional?” asks one potential recruit in the ad campaign. “The king received an axe blow to the head, which knocked off a piece of the crown that formed part of his helmet”, says Wikipedia. Score draw.

Back then it was turnip for dinner. Now it’s ‘elevated toast’, and you have to take a picture of it or it’s not really there. Back then, frostbite was a blessing as it took the edge off the gangrene. Now, the NHS is bankrupted by people taking colds to A&E. Back then, grooming involved the local hag hacking your locks off with the same rusty knife she used to bone poor Uncle Jacob when the typhoid finally won out over the dysentery.

Now, people inject animal fat into their lips.

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Witty but woebegone

If 2016 was the year of celebrity deaths, 2017 was surely the annum of celebrity downfalls.

Sparked by the toppling of one of Hollywood’s most prolific alleged sex pests Harvey Weinstein, an entire balustrade of power-wielding, pussy-grabbing men has come tumbling down in recent months; Kevin Spacey, Louis CK and Brett Ratner head up a very lengthy list. Of course, the most powerful man on the planet has had many a finger pointed in his orange direction, but so far, to no avail…as has another wormy, smarmy, self-obsessed star.

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Grit and flair

At last count, the population of Venezuela was 32,157,182. I’ve taken this from a site that claims to have ‘live’ statistics, as bespectacled men roam South American hospitals impatiently tapping pens against clipboards to the sound of perineal tearing.

That’s a lot of people. Think of the huge range of talents there must be. Massive potential for growth and betterment. Imagine what a country that size could achieve if it made the most of its latent expertise.

Today, Nicolas Maduro has declared he’s the only one out of the lot of them with the stature and smarts to lead his country beyond its next election. As a result, he’s banned opposition parties from standing. All of them. Anyone who’s not him.

He’s a man in power. And if you think we’re giving that up any time soon you’ve a rude one coming.

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The bend

I recently learnt to drive. I’m 28, I should have learnt sooner, but I didn’t, deal with it.

I have now been driving for two months. Plenty of time to establish just how many bellends there are on the road. In those two months, I’ve encountered countless fucking idiots who deserve a Darwin Award for their incredible driving ability.

Let’s start with the cunt that nearly hit me twice in the same car park on the same day.

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