All posts by Ray

Wet and brown

Recently I saw a series of pictures of someone who had holed up in a hotel room for eight months, only to be evicted once people started complaining about the smell. Styrofoam from what looked like a thousand unfinished ready meals was piled on one bed, while the other had sheets that looked wet and brown. Spray tan poorly applied while lying down, perhaps. Empty boxes of tissues were stacked in one corner of the room, surrounded by mounds of plastic bags filled with rubbish. And then the toilet, which is as disgusting as it is unrecognisable. A hill of toilet paper had constructed itself from the bowl upwards with a gap in it showing a black hole of faeces. How someone even lived in these conditions is impossible to imagine.

One important factor that distinguishes us from our animal counterparts is the fact that we’re civilised. Or, at least most of us try to be so. It always amazes me how people are able to live in conditions that even the most feral of creatures would turn their noses up at. As they surround themselves with piles of dirty dishes, unwashed clothes, and heavens knows what else, I cannot but be staggered at how they manage to function in life.

Most of us have had one of those flatmates. You know, the kind who leaves food-encrusted plates in the sink, with no promise of the crockery ever seeing its original state of cleanliness again. Or those who would let hair keep clogging the bathroom drain until the bathtub threatened to drown them – and only then they might think about cleaning their pubes out of the drain, maybe next week. I had one such person living in the same flat as me years back. I had to retrieve mouldy dishes from her room regularly, a venture which felt like a scene from a horror movie where an unaffected person tip-toes into the open world to check if the zombies have all gone. On one such expedition I found a wastebucket full of vomit. I’d never before experienced ironic nausea and I never want to again.

I just don’t get how people can sleep, dress, and carry on with their life surrounded by all this. Is their sense of smell shot? Is there a severe lack of self-respect at play? Or are they just lazy? The latter of those options seems likely, and I don’t blame people for approaching the idea of housework with the moan of a child told to eat a plate full of boiled cabbage. Cleaning is tedious, we all know that, but it’s a small price to pay. We all make these kinds of sacrifices in life so we can function better and not live in our own filth like animals. We are not creatures that live in nests made from the stuff that comes out of our assholes, nor are we a species that wanders around daring ticks and flies to suck off our bodily juices as we crawl through the dirt. We have advanced as a species, so why can’t we start acting like it?

I have friends who are messy and I admit freely that I look down on them. And why not? When they pick themselves up from a carpet stained with the residue of some epic masturbation session, past bed sheets that went straight from Primark packaging to soiled mattress when bought seven years back, and through the thick atmosphere of smells and dust, I will look at them face to face. Until then I shall condescend.

Someone had to clean up that hotel room, all because someone else was too fucking lazy to carry out functions as simple as emptying a bin or flushing the toilet. The disregard for the cleaners (if not bio-hazard team) who would have had to deal with this is almost as disgusting as the cesspool left behind by this particular tenant. Have some respect, especially when this isn’t your own house.

In your own house, where you live alone, away from any humans with a shred of decency, you can pile up all the crap you want (literal or otherwise). Just don’t expect anyone to want to come around and ever spend time with you, you filthy animal.


We need to talk about Richard. You don’t know him, and I know you don’t know him because next to nobody does. There is little to no possibility that he has any friends, because the mere idea of Richard having friends is as absurd as the idea of a politician not grimacing and quivering in disgust when told they have to go and meet their constituents.

Some background perhaps, since it’s now established that you don’t know Richard. I work with Richard, much to my disdain, and he is without a doubt the most boring, useless, and pathetic arsehole on the planet. He joined the office I work in late last year and it was clear from the start that there was something iffy about him. He’s old and out of touch, which can be charming in some people, like your ever so slightly feeble grandmother who sits by amazed as you pull up a picture of a pot of jam on your laptop computer.

Richard, however, is not like your hypothetical grandmother. He does something that takes him out of that category and into his own separate place that just makes you want to sigh at his pitiable attempts to join in: he tries to be relevant.

Case in point: another work colleague and I were having a conversation about music fidelity, talking about recording techniques (he has a degree in acoustics, and I am a budding musician), and getting the best sounds for different instruments. It’s quite an exclusive conversation, sure, between two people in a small office of about five people at that point, but we’re not intentionally leaving anyone out. We’re not talking loudly, or interrupting anyone else’s conversation. Everyone else is glued to their laptop screens while us two talk. And then Richard, who has been sitting in the room with us the entire time, gets called to another room, and as he leaves, utters, “So long as you have an OK computer for all that!” I look at my colleague with a look of confusion, and look back at Richard and say nothing more than “Ummm…”

“You know, the Radiohead album!” he clarifies. “Oh…”, I say, like I get it. I hope it makes no sense to you, because it makes no sense to me. When he leaves, everyone else in the room peeks up from their screens, shooting a look of confusion. I mean, what the actual fuck has that got to do with anything we were talking about? Evidently he was trying to be funny, but it’s a joke so grossly misplaced that I still sit confounded when I think about the whole exchange. But worse still, he was trying to be relevant, namedropping Radiohead like he knows they are cool with the kids these days. He might as well have just tried to start rapping an Eminem song in full tracksuit gear and backward baseball cap, and have embarrassed himself completely.

Richard doesn’t really know how to communicate, and it’s not some social anxiety disorder; he’s just such a boring fuck that he has nothing to add to anything, ever. He once posed one of the most idiotic questions I have ever been asked. I was relating to another colleague (because I never actually talk to Richard, unless I’m feeling particularly masochistic and wanted to be bored to the point of pain) that I sometimes partake in swing dancing. After said colleague left the room, Richard piped up and queried, “Swing dancing? What kind of music do you do that to?” Thinking it was a joke, I deliberately paused, waiting for him to interject and exhale that loathsome chuckle he does when he thinks he’s done something ever so clever. There was no response, so trying my best to hide my amazement at his brainfart of a question, I responded, “…swing music” with a hint of disbelief at the fact I was answering such a question. I did not talk to him anymore after that.

It’s not just the inanity of the words that come out of his mouth, it’s his mannerisms, which are so very, very annoying. He types on his laptop loudly, like he’s penning a sarcastic letter. He sticks around in the office for hours, even if he’s allowed to go home early, just to eat sandwiches that are served to us, nabbing all the ones he likes, of course. He also drinks an absurd amount of tea. Last week he drank seventeen cups of tea in a day. Seventeen. And not even respectable tea like Earl Grey or Assam – shitty builder’s tea with way too much milk. Oh, and every time he takes a sup he makes an audible slurp, like a child drinking soup for the first time, followed by a tiny, satisfied “ahhh!” By my calculation that averages about 20,000 slurps and ahhhs a day, or at least it feels like that. I’m not a violent man, and I’ve never wanted to punch a man for simply drinking tea, but oh how Richard tempts me so.

He’s also a rat, telling the boss about one of my aforementioned colleagues using his equipment incorrectly, thus getting him fired – and all because Richard was evidently jealous this other guy was getting more work than he was. Everyone in the building finds him weird, and sometimes they proclaim relief (and joy) that they’re working with me on a project and not “that weirdo”. They also come and sit with me in another room, just so they don’t have to sit with Richard.

In the rare instances I somehow get obliged to have a (always very brief) conversation with Richard, he tries to tell me about his weekend and the like. He talks about how he met a friend for a drink, but I laugh internally as the idea of him actually having friends. This is how I know you don’t know Richard, because it’s impossible that anyone with an ounce of sense or self-worth (which, dear reader, I assume you have) would want to be around such a grimy, measly being.  There’s no way anyone would want to actively spend time with such an inconsequential person, someone who adds as much to a social setting as parsley does to any meal.

We’re not interested in quality

I’m no media guru, but I think anyone with any semblance of sense would find it near-impossible not to agree that “We’re not interested in quality” is a fucking terrible line to start an advert with. Yet in another instance of someone okaying another farcical entry into the commercial world, like those “Ride me all day for £3” South Wales bus adverts held up by naked men and woman, we now know that Papa John’s couldn’t care less about the quality of their pizzas. Way to make a first impression, Papa.

It’s like if Pizza Hut started an advert saying: “Here at Pizza Hut, we don’t care about pizza.” Oh wait, they’re kind of already doing that by slowly changing their name to Pasta Hut. Conveying a healthy image is all fine and well, but nobody goes to Pizza Hut, or any pizza joint, to be healthy. You go because Nando’s was full a bunch of dickheads trying to have a ‘cheeky’ meal (whatever the hell that actually means), and you fancy something easy and greasy to eat, at a reasonable price. Maybe if they’re offering you free access to the salad bar you might pick up a slice of cucumber or two, or maybe not since you want to save room to gorge on the unlimited ice cream dispenser (hoping you can pull off not looking like a child catcher while in the queue for it). As consumers all we care about is the pizza. We want pizzas from pizza places. Some things are inherently simple, and this is one such thing.

And yet pizza advertising has something clearly wrong with it. The aforementioned Papa John’s line is a testament to how they’ve misjudged the majority of their audience. People need a fast hook, and if you start off by saying “We’re not interested in quality” – even if you follow it up with the ever-so-clever caveat of “we’re obsessed by it” – then people will move on quickly. Or, at the very least, that is the one line that will stick with people afterwards.

And while we all like food that actually tastes pretty good, who actually goes to a pizza chain expecting something supremely delicious? If you want proper pizza you go to a middle-class Italian restaurant (or maybe Pizza Express, which, though a tad pricey, is an exception to the rule of pizza restaurant quality). Otherwise you should be aware that you’re getting pre-prepared dough squeezed between the sticky hands of a university student trying to earn their way out of absolute debt. Competent as that student may be, you can only get a certain level of ‘delicious’ when you’re titting about with something a machine made earlier.

We eat it anyway though, because pizza is really tasty and easy to eat. Still, why they think they can sell a pizza for just short of of £20 remains a mystery. When you try to sell something people want a basic pleasure from, keep it simple, and keep it cheap – which is why a £5 pizza from a kebab shop never goes down poorly. It’s not pretending to be anything more than it is, and sometimes it can actually be pretty damn good.

Because kebab shop pizza makers aren’t too interested in quality or ‘delicious’, and instead are putting all their energy into getting you and your drunken stupor out of their face as quickly as possible. Sometimes all the advertising you need is a lit-up menu board with a crude and gratuitously glistening picture of unhealthy food, and the price. Media gurus, you might want to take note.