Tag Archives: interaction

Do you know Iain Hunneybell?

Do you know Iain Hunneybell?

What’s he like? I picture a middle-aged white man, vaguely competent at project management, easily able to slot into a grand-a-day role conjured out of nowhere by an HR department told to squeeze funds like pips from a lemon. When a project needs managing, Iain’s the man to do it, not least because of his proven track record of forcing through that completely unnecessary second I.

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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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A B&B in Baku

As a man with nothing to save for and no offspring to syphon it away, money serves three purposes for me.

First, it buys toilet paper. On the one hand, bog roll symbolises mundane bills and unavoidable life expenses, but while clutched in the other it serves to hurriedly wipe away the terrifying results of money’s second purpose, dipsomania.

The third is foreign travel. Much as I love Britain’s glorious combination of comforting bigotry, polite sadism and fields, so many fields, seeing other parts of the world is now my principal route to joy. As I write, I’m in the 40th country I’ve visited, before my fourth decade is up, and I’m proud of that.

And as I write I can see two things. One is a jungle, right next to this hotel, from where a troupe of capuchin monkeys emerged yesterday to steal a fat man’s plantain.

The other is tourists.

Continue reading A B&B in Baku

And then I woke up

I’m running through this field, right? Chased by something, I don’t know what it is. Desperate for a piss. There’s this cow then suddenly I’m in my old bedroom at home, Mum’s talking about my diary, I can’t believe she read it, I don’t even have a diary.

Then you, yeah I know, you turned up and want me to go out in the car but there’s no petrol and I’m desperate for a piss, so I go to the toilet but it just won’t come out and you’re on about this car. We get into town and you go off with John and I’m going down this alleyway and there’s a girl, she’s off Silent Witness, pigtails, about 11 probably, looks a bit like Michael Barrymore. She’s got this knife and she’s trying to stab me and I do this roundhouse.

And then I woke up. Mad, no idea what that was about.

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Hallmark of Hell

A newborn baby is a gift from God Himself as we all know, thanks to the cascade of simpering halfwits, otherwise known as ‘parents’, repeatedly hammering the fact into our skulls via media of all types. There has been one such arrival in my own sphere of influence in the past few days and all power to the little sod’s elbow, though I won’t be paying it much mind until that elbow is weathered enough to legally raise a pint glass to its accompanying face.

My friends have had a baby and I am happy for them. I find it unlikely, though, that given we’ll be seeing this new child in the coming days, and its parents, there’s any need to send it a card. And not just any card – adorned with the words ‘It’s a boy!’ no less.

It was long ago decreed that the world’s a safer place without my progeny, but I’ve learned enough about the emergence of new people to know a tiny cock and balls diagnoses a fresh sufferer of the male condition without parents having to be informed by mail.

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The wounded antelope

You’ve probably already read the statement by the woman who was sexually assaulted by former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who last week was given six fucking months for the crime. If you haven’t, you know where to find Google. Go and read it. I’ll be right here, waiting.

Back? Good. Six fucking months. He could have got up to 14 years. Prosecutors asked for six years. The judge gave him six fucking months in county jail and probation because, quote, “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him”.

That’s why I told you to go and read the statement by the woman he assaulted, to realise the “severe impact” it had on her. When she woke up in hospital after a booze blackout, she gradually found out she been left half naked behind a dumpster after Turner had fingered her so severely she had internal abrasions. Oh yeah, and this shining beacon of humanity ran off after two guys spotted what was going on and intervened.

One thing – among many horrific things – in that statement stood out for me.

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Quick feet proper prospect

Thrashing about in a foetid quagmire of death and deceit it may well be, but there’s no denying the world is an interesting place. You may rather take a soldering iron to your eardrums than hear another word about the EU referendum, schools, hospitals and the BBC being privatised or the heavily misguided blowing themselves up, but while the news may be repetitive and miserable there’s always something remarkable or outrageous around the corner to spice life up a bit. US mass shooting? How many!

There are so many compelling and provocative topics to pepper conversation with, and serious debates to tickle the synapses. We could talk about whether it’s worth knotting a series of capes together to string up anyone involved in the making of Batman v Superman, or any of the eight hundred other superhero movies currently signalling the death of cinema. Or whether an elderly Elton John’s been sticking his cock in places he shouldn’t, which is a conversation I overheard the other day, and can never unhear. Turns out it’s the other bloke anyway.

Maybe that’s what some people talk about. It’s not what I talk about, though if I could I would, except the Elton John bit. No, I have to talk about something else.

Football.

Continue reading Quick feet proper prospect

Lonely tears of Sancerre

Business travel sucks. That is an incontrovertible fact.

If you aren’t travelling alone, you will be travelling with colleagues. Both of these are bad in different ways.

Travelling alone isn’t inherently bad. In fact, sometimes it’s a pleasure to not have to interact with another human being and pretend you don’t mind when they want to go to the same godawful bar three nights in a row, or visit a museum you have less than zero interest in. And flying alone is the ideal opportunity to lie under a blanket watching films your partner doesn’t want to see while being given free alcohol.

But travelling alone for business is just shit.

It starts when you need to go to the toilet at the airport and you have no-one to watch your bags, so if you don’t want them to be blown up by the bomb squad you have to take them into the cubicle with you. This is the point where you commence an obstacle course of angling your legs around a suitcase and trying to not let anything touch the piss-soaked floor while simultaneously re-arranging your clothing and not dropping your phone down the toilet.

Once you arrive, your evenings will be spent inwardly crying lonely tears of Sancerre while you eat overcooked pasta in the hotel restaurant and hope that all the wine won’t be itemised on your bill. Opting for room service and TV instead will mean you just spend 45 bastard minutes trying to find something to watch in a language you can understand – something that isn’t Storage Hunters – all the while knowing your partner will be watching the final episode of Happy Valley without you.

If you travel with colleagues, imagine someone you work with who you don’t actually like very much. Now imagine being confined to a seat next to them for 8-12 hours. Now imagine it’s an overnight flight and they want to talk shop for the whole journey, or they don’t drink. And remember, if you do manage to sleep, you’ll be sleeping just inches away from a colleague you don’t like very much. You are sleeping with your colleague.

You’re welcome!

Even worse, you will be staying in the same hotel, so you’ll effectively also be co-habiting with this person for the next week. Never underestimate the sheer teeth-clenching awfulness of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with someone you don’t like very much for Five. Whole. Days. And not even being married to them.

Fuck that shit.

When you tell people you’re going abroad for business, they will invariably say ‘Gosh, how glamorous!’ and say they’re jealous. I’m here to tell you that business travel is not glamorous.

No-one who has had cockroaches running over their feet and hand luggage at 4am in Indian baggage reclaim would agree. Neither would anyone who is sent abroad for an indefinite period of time and expected to pay for the whole fucking trip on their own credit card before claiming it back on expenses. Nor would someone who is forced to take an illicit taxi to get to the office driven by an old man in a full length leather coat who may or may not be a serial killer.

None of that is glamorous.

Expenses. Bafflingly, some companies believe sending their employees abroad with no money is a privilege for which we should be grateful. I’m pretty sure that was a punishment for something in medieval times.

I mean, who wouldn’t be grateful to bankroll a trip costing thousands of pounds in flights, hotels, taxis and meals for an international company with billionaire owners and millionaire shareholders? What’s that? Your card is maxed out, you’ve just moved house and you don’t have a spare £8,000 in the bank? Can’t pay for your hotel or flight up front, sorry, not company policy. Can you get an increase on your credit card limit and we’ll pay you back in two months? Thanks everso.

Aside from companies brainwashing employees into thinking anyone notices if they work 27 extra hours every week, expense trips are the biggest fucking con out there. Stop thinking about it as a free trip to another country. Start thinking about it as an insidious method of encroaching even more on your personal time while getting you to pay for it. Not so glamorous now, huh?

Somewhere along the line, it became normal to do the actual travelling bit of business travel in your own time rather than the company’s. What? The? Actual? Fuck? How the shitting hell did it come about that not only are you expected to pay to go and work in an unfamiliar office with shit coffee for a week, you have to fly there on your own time?

Oh, it’s that privilege again.

Sleep? Sleep is for wimps! If you were really and truly committed to your company, you’d work a full day, take an overnight flight and be in the office abroad bright and early.

I’d love to be able to say this is me getting all hyperbolic, but it isn’t. This is an actual thing that some colossal bed-wetting wanker dreamed up, dressed up in the worst kind of corporate tub-thumpery from a company which issues press releases telling everyone how much it cares for its employees.

The exits are here, here, here and here.

Bloody immigrants

Bloody immigrants.

They come over here, can’t even be bothered to learn the language. You go in the banks and there they all are, queueing to speak to the one teller that speaks English. All the leaflets have had to be translated for them. It makes me sick.

They stick with their own. Always drinking in the English bars, run by the English and employing English staff. What’s wrong with giving some work to the natives? The Spanish would love the business opportunities but they’re undercut by the English and their network of friends and kids of friends, willing to work for cash in hand. What happens to the taxes, that’s what I’d like to know.

All the Spanish bars and restaurants, they’re going out of business. You feel like a stranger on your own high street, where you’ve lived all your life. Walk down the road, you can’t understand half the people you pass.

We’ve got some of them living next door. Can’t speak a word. It’s down to us, of course, we’re the ones who have to make the effort. I hear them talking about how well the neighbours speak English. Lazy bastards, how about you trying to speak some decent Spanish instead of shouting in your ridiculous dialect and waving your hands?

They’re all using dodgy TV connections. Eyesore satellite dishes stuck on the side of their houses by cowboys so they can watch Eastenders and the news that’s hardly local any more. Not a TV licence between them. They only read the English papers. They don’t vote. The ignorance is shocking.

They won’t integrate. Look at them, with the shops selling English food. What’s wrong with our shops and our food? Why do they need to shop at Iceland? Why do they still need to buy fish fingers? What’s wrong with eating the local produce and supporting local farmers?

And speaking of the food, have you seen some of the muck they eat? Especially for breakfast? Swimming in grease and my god, the smell. It sticks to them all day. I swear, I think most of them don’t even shower.

Then, when they have heart attacks or break a hip, they clog up the healthcare system. And of course they can’t speak the language so don’t get stuck behind one in the queue, you’ll be there forever. If you can even get seen, because of all the English pensioners on the waiting list.

And then they have the nerve to say they’re not immigrants, they’re ex-pats. They can fuck off back to where they came from, the lot of them.

Economy Comfort

I’ve had the unfortunate fortune to spend a lot of time on planes recently. I’m fortunate because they took me somewhere I love being, if only it didn’t take so damn long to get there.

Long haul flights are bearable – just – so long as we abide by certain rules. Don’t talk to me, unless offering a hot towel, food and drink or, in an emergency, offering to assist me in gouging out the eyes of the moron who’s stopped beside me to get at his hand luggage. There are no exceptions to the second rule: don’t touch me. Never keen on human contact, all I want on a long plane journey is to be left alone to hunker down with the seatback TV, a copy of the New Yorker and the sound of my sanity folding itself up and slipping into the overhead bins at around hour eight.

On this trip, however, nobody had read the factsheet. Boarded early at Amsterdam and settled into my seat (on the aisle of the middle four), the Japanese couple with the middle allocation arrived. They snuck up from behind so I didn’t see them coming but still, there was no attempt to get my attention or generally indicate their presence before the woman started literally climbing across me to get to her seat.

“Woah, hang on, let me get out, no, stop, oh God that’s your arse in my face, please, just wait,” I said, but as I was to be constantly reminded over the next fortnight, my Japanese is abysmal and English isn’t that commonly spoken by the natives. At least that’s my hope, since I muttered “for fuck’s sake” as I finally vacated my seat and let her husband through. Later in the flight, the woman vaulted the person sitting in the other aisle seat on her return from the loo.

All right, I thought, maybe just this one woman is nuts, or too shy to attempt communication with horrible Westerners. Until a couple of hours later when I saw a middle-aged European woman stand on the armrests to get past a man sitting in an aisle seat. Did she know him? I don’t know. I hope so. He was definitely awake though, and appeared to be neither disabled nor halfwitted and thus, I assume, able to stand the fuck up.

Is this a thing now? Are people now too lazy to stand up for others, or has it suddenly become acceptable to clamber over one another? Is it a new sexual fetish I missed while reading the New Yorker rather than Cosmo? Or has society descended to the point where we can’t be arsed to expend a couple of seconds to say “excuse me”?

On the return leg, the airline upgraded my schlubby cheap seat to ‘Economy Comfort’, right at the front of the cabin. Nice. I was slightly less happy to see a woman with a baby across the aisle. But, you know, families have to fly as well, and I’d have headphones for when it started screaming.

Except screaming wasn’t the problem. I don’t know this baby’s age; as is going to become very clear, I’m not the maternal type. Whatever the age is where they’re still breastfeeding and able to toddle about. And mum saw absolutely no problem with letting baby wander around the plane. Including into the row where I was sitting. She helped it walk over to the window. Now, there’s improved legroom in Economy Comfort, but not that fucking much. Then she left it to explore its surroundings, which included my TV screen and legs.

Increasing horror doubtless apparent all over my face, mum says “Oh, is he bothering you?”. Yes. Yes, he’s bothering me, smearing his breastmilk-and-sputum coated fingers across everything in sight. Rather than say this, I more politically highlighted the face mask I was wearing to shield my increasing attempts to cough up a lung (when we all start to die in a few weeks of a hybrid Asian-European flu, I apologise now as patient zero) and said something about how it’d be better if the fruit of her womb wasn’t in my immediate spluttering zone.

This was all while still at the gate. During take off, the kid sat on her lap and she pointed at things out the window, finger hovering inches from my nose. When the seatbelt signs were off, the baby went free range again and nearly got run over by the drinks trolley appearing from behind the business class curtain. (At one point he went running into business class, with mum aware but unconcerned. Cabin crew had to ask her not to let this happen again.) I myself had to dislodge the baby’s fingers from an abandoned dinner tray, which it was about to pull down on itself, and swiftly remove from my own table a bottle of water and tumbler of (medicinal) brandy when the kid got curious again. Maybe I should have left it to its own devices and had a guilt-free conversation with a steward along the lines of: “Please may I have another large glass of free booze, as my last is soaking into this child”.

Personal space. It shouldn’t be hard. Even on planes, where several hundred bodies are densely packed together, we all have delineated areas. Respect mine and I won’t have to cause an international incident. You have been warned.