Locked & Loaded

20 01 2019

It is quite difficult to create a TV series that is very memorable these days. Not only do we have four million channels with nothing on, Internet only content providers such as Netflix produce huge amounts of additional TV that can be forgotten to the annals of history.

Black Mirror was was one such series that was very well received. It was thought provoking and disturbing in equal measures. Forever questioning our evolving human relationship with technology, Black Mirror is (in my humble opinion) a warning upon how far we embrace our technological evolution. Now to those who know me, this seems like a surreal proposition – I am not about to become a Luddite. Rather Black Mirror is a cautionary tale about our ever-changing technological lives, and the subsequent net effect.

One story of Black Mirror really shocked me. Nosedive (S3/EP1) reveals to us a land that is dominated by social media. Every interaction, no matter how small is rated. So much so, that people’s lives are completely dominated by it. From their social circles, even to the employment available to them or the quality of the apartment available. The main protagonist manages to completely destroy up her life and entire existence, simply whilst trying to increase her social ranking. Do watch this episode of Black Mirror, it is amazing what a snowball effect a simple mistake can have,

Whilst I may sound like the harbinger of doom, people within my social circle live their lives on Facebook. Completely sharing everything from or about their life, simply for the instant gratification of a Like. Real life may have become tainted to them, as the real world don’t respond quickly enough to their desires. They socially engineering the content presented to Facebook, giving the impression of a perfect life to followers. Yet the reality is far from the image. Forbes Magazine wrote an excellent article about our modern lives with social media, including how our normal reaction and impulsive behaviour have became skewed compared to ‘real-life’

The more disturbing element of social media is how it has became weaponized. From tit for tat relationship/interpersonal arguments, all the way to governmental interference – social media already interferes with our every day lives. Do you want to destroy a relationship? Simply post questionable pictures onto Facebook involving one of the partners. Want to change people’s opinion on a political issue? Use Facebook advertising to bombard readers and subliminally change their mind.  Is this liberating freedom that we have now  thanks to Fakebook, Instahash and Twatter truly how mankind should have evolved?

The future is indeed now, But beware, as the future has sharp pointy teeth, yet appears to be fluffy and cute.

More Cheese Gromit?

1 12 2017

In general flying is a relatively unpleasant experience. Standing in queues, unpleasantly close to the unwashed and strongly smelling stranger in front, the minutes turn to hours. Anyone who tells you that they enjoy the experience of flying is a liar. Or drunk, hallucinating or quite possibly all three at once. The stress level of simply checking in and getting through security likely shaves days from your life, and that is before you get onto the aircraft.

I travel with KLM a lot. Not sufficiently to gain a golden status with them, but just enough that I can get onto the aircraft in the priority queue. This aspect of a ‘reward’ from KLM always puzzled me. Yes Mr R, you can get to the front of the queue. However, please wait until all of the other passengers shove their way to the front as well. Therefore the boarding process becomes more like a rugby scrum. The fight between passengers for overhead space for their multitude of suitcases borders upon muted violence at times.

I continue to travel with KLM, because it is more like an old predictable friend. You have forgotten why you continue to be friends with them, because they constantly disappoint you. Not turning up, turning up late and generally offending you. But, you know what to expect from them.

There is one constant in this friendship that is guaranteed to disappoint, the ubiqitous KLM cheese sandwich. The Netherland’s most underrated export, proudly turning stomachs the world over. Sandwiched in between brown bread, the two tasteless cheese sandwiches are tossed towards you by the cabin crew. Imagine a zookeeper throwing cheesy sardines towards a group of ravenous seals…you get the image. Now I have to admit I am not a fan of cheese, therefore perhaps I am a little biased? However when I consider over my travelling career the sheer quantity of KLM’s cheese abominations I have eaten, it would produce a very large and smelly art exhibition. Imagine the Tate Modern filled with cheese sandwiches from floor to ceiling?

Why do I target the humble cheese sandwich you may ask? Well, take two KLM flights in a row. Each flight you are offered this little cheese bastard, with a grin on the cabin crew’s face. I imagine that they know a) you had this exact same sandwich around 90 minutes ago, and b) don’t like cheese. It is torture at 10,000m, and there is no escape! My core issue is that KLM haven’t changed this awful sandwich for years, all they have changed is the packaging that accompanies it. Why change a winning formula you may ask, well because it is terrible.

Perhaps I wil claim to be lactose intolerant before my next flight? Knowing my luck they will give me lactose free cheese…

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Any Old Iron…

30 11 2017

There is nothing like the feel of a crisp ironed shirt. Empowering you more than a triple espresso. reassuring you more than a salary increase. On the other hand, turning up to an important meeting with a creased shirt does exactly the opposite. Causing you more anguish than a fresh scratch on your car. Affecting your mind more strongly than than pure alcohol.

Arriving in a small hotel just outside Oslo Gardemoen airport late in the evening, my mind was already prefixed upon the early start for a very important meeting. Anticipating the Norwegian tradition of not having an iron and ironing board in my room, I asked for the strykerom (ironing room).  Norwegian hotels for some bizarre reason don’t provide ironing apparatus in a hotel room. I fear that at some point during the formation of the Norwegian hotel industry, there was a massive national theft involving ironing equipment. The mass effect of the iron theft is still ingrained in the national psyche of Norway. Perhaps it is still spoken about in hushed circles, the survivors of the great iron theft giving emotional support to each other? Or perhaps the Norwegian population simply don’t iron clothes?

The receptionist simply answered ‘Upstairs‘. I asked him again in my bestest Norwegian, ‘Hvor er strykerommet?‘. He answered in English ‘Upstairs, you will see it‘. I had traveled for some hours, and was rather tired so couldn’t be bothered to ask again. Walking to my room I looked for the strykerom, which was nowhere to be seen. Figuring that Norwegians still make fun of foreigners who want to iron clothes, I thought my investigation will continue in the morning and walked into my ice cold room.

Waking up dark and early in the morning, my search for the elusive strykerom continued. Typically they are mysteriously unmarked doors, again designed to keep would be thieves away from the gilded iron. My nose helps in this case, smelling the steam and freshly ironed cotton. Or looking for the queue of hungover guests with crumpled clothes in their hands usually merits results too.

Alas my eyes found the iron before my nose did. Straight out of the 90’s, and in possibly the most weird location for a strkerom. On the top of the hotel stairs, in the middle of the corridor was the iron and brotherly board. In the middle of the corridor, yes you did read it correctly. Now the shame of ironing was no longer confined to a quiet side room, I was in full public view and within hearing distance from the jeering comments from passing hotel guests regarding my ironing prowess. This was true business embarrassment.

Undeterred by the catcalls from passing males, jealous of my mad ironing skills – my shirt was suitably decrinkled. The meeting was a success, I believe purely due to a well ironed shirt. There may have been other reasons for its success, but they are not the key focus here!

Nevertheless the question still remains, why do Norwegian hotels have such an aversion towards in-room ironing? Answers on the back of a postcard to…



Beauty in every step

25 10 2012

Have you ever taken a drive or walked a path and observed something that just made you feel alive ?

I often feel as I walk/drive/amble around these various parts of this watery rock we call Earth that beauty is all around us. It’s there, in every step, in every particle of light, in every step we take…there is a reason that makes you glad to be alive.

My case in point is this, a few days ago whilst walking into a Thai restaurant in Palm Bay, Florida my colleague walked across a patch of grass. As his foot lifted from the grass I saw the individual blades of grass lifting from the compression. I saw the differing shades of green from his impression. It screamed green at me whilst singing a symphony of colour to my eyes. It was profound and I likened it to what a drug induced experience would be like.

Let’s take an example – dirt. Dirt AKA soil, is a bad thing. If we or something is/are dirty it’s bad. Yet what does dirt give us; it gives us life, it gives us food, it’s products give us oxygen to breath. Therefore out of dirt (ugliness) we get life (beauty). Are the concepts of beauty and ugliness too abstract for us to cope with ?

Another example, have you ever looked at the clouds ? Looked at them and thought ‘That is amazing’. Looking at the stars, looking at the Autumn/Fall colours of leaves…the list is endless. Bringing a more human aspect into the equation, a kiss on the lips, a delicate hint of perfume, a guttural uncontrollable laugh from a child, a sparkle in the eyes of your lover. You get the picture.

Beauty is indeed an abstract term. A termed coined by advertisers and used to their own financial end. The fruitless search of the imperfection of perfection. Or is it a real term, that invades our lives every single day ? Beauty lurks in the most unlikely of places, it can be found everywhere.

I swear, what I saw outside that Thai restaurant was beauty. It was beauty whopping me upside the head, screaming at me like a full moon crazy. It’s all around us, we just have to open our eyes and look for it.

Dear Reader, promise me one thing ? Try to observe a solitary thing each day that makes your jaw drop. Something that makes your heart skip a beat.

Something that makes tears fill your eyes, simply because you are alive and have experienced it’s beauty.



noun, plural beau·ties.

1.the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).
2.a beautiful  person, especially a woman.
3.a beautiful  thing, as a work of art or a building.
4.Often, beauties. something that is beautiful  in nature or in some natural or artificial environment.
5. an individually pleasing or beautiful  quality; grace; charm: a vivid blue area that is the one real beauty of the painting.



adjective, ug·li·er, ug·li·est.

1.very unattractive or unpleasant to look at; offensive to the sense of beauty; displeasing in appearance.
2.disagreeable; unpleasant; objectionable: ugly tricks; ugly discords.
3.morally revolting: ugly crime.
4.threatening trouble or danger: ugly symptoms.
5.mean; hostile; quarrelsome: an ugly mood; an ugly frame of mind.

Manufactured Pointlessness

14 01 2012

Time alone in a hotel room allows you to ponder upon things. You can become meditative about the contents of your room, musing about the items around you. What purpose does that item serve, who designed it, what was the spark of creativity that gave birth to it ? So on and so forth.

Casting my eyes around my pokey Norwegian hotel they fell upon something. An item who’s very existence should be challenged by the highest legal powers in our fair and green land. What item offends me so I hear you ask ?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “The Corby Trouser Press“.  Appearing at a hotel near you right now.

The Corby Trouser Press

I don’t see the point in this manufactured garbage. Sorry but if it takes 45 minutes to badly press a pair of trousers it is a tremendous waste of energy. Especially to find it’s done a craptastic job and you have to iron them anyway.

It seems that I am not the only person to question the existence of the infamous trouser press. A Google Search yielded this imaginative page which lists “101 uses for a Trouser Press“.

My favourites are:

  • A mirror for people who don’t like seeing themselves in mirrors.
  • Remove little rubber feet. Use as saké cups. Discard rest of press.
  • The be all and end all device for not only drying out wet duck billed platipi, but it also takes the wrinkles out and puts in a lovely crease

Who could forget when a bored Alan Partridge dismantled the Trouser Press in his Travel Tavern room. “Hi Susan. I was a bit bored so I dismantled my Corby Trouser Press. I can’t put it back together again. Will that show up on my bill?“. Classic Partridge !

Dear Mr Corby, if by some freak of nature you end up here…please remove this scourge from the Earth. Then again, perhaps a new sport could be born…Extreme Trouser Pressing ?

Endemol…I blame you

17 12 2010

As the title suggests, I blame Endemol.

For what” I hear you yell collectively…

Reality TV” I reply through gritted teeth, “Big-Brother…Reality TV and the subsequent breakdown of modern society“.

Big-Brother started it all. Produced by Dutch company Endemol, and exported worldwide it gave absolute simpletons who were so pumped up on their own self-importance the opportunity to have their fifteen seconds of fame. Let’s be honest, if you come across most of the BB contestants in the street you would either punch or section them, or maybe both ? The contestants seemed willing to have their dignity extracted in front of a voyeuristic audience of millions. Each action within the BB household was carefully controlled and monitored by the production team. Guaranteed to make a minor disagreement into WWIII, and all for the benefit of the audience. There was nothing at all real about the contestants, or the situations. This is the real crux of the matter for me…the audience would happily vote (pay) to kick people out. Consequently Endemol & Channel 4 made obscene amounts of money from said idiots (audience & contestants).

After several vomit inducing series, BB was finally drawn to a close. Did that stop the tidal wave of craptastic reality TV…did it hell.

Now that may seem a little harsh to you dear reader, but I shall not be swayed by any argument on this. Yes, it’s true that delights such as “X-Factor” and “Britain’s (apparently) Got Talent” brighten some folks evenings, but lets scratch a little deeper shall we ? These dire productions are churned out by production companies and TV channels the world over.It’s simply TV on the cheap, and us eejits are paying for it and consequently encouraging it.

What makes me chuckle is that it’s the same basic principle for each show :-

1. Use a well-known celebrity to compare the show (instantly builds kudos)

2. Introduce the nobodies (either nobodies from the street, or a Z list celebrity) to the audience

3. Talk non-stop about the show on chat shows (controlled by the same TV channel) to build up expectation and “scandal” about the contestants.

4. Play the show on prime time TV, therefore creating the illusion that it’s more important to the audience than breathing.

5. Get the audience to vote (pay) via premium rate phone numbers. Don’t forget to not count votes. Be as rude as possible to the contestants. Remember, less dignity equals more votes (money) !

6. Repeat step 4.

7. Create the illusion that the final is going to be equivalent to the second coming of Christ, therefore encouraging votes (money).

8. Elevate the winning nobody to the status of a demi God, keep famous for about two weeks then send them back to the dole queue.

9. In 6 months repeat from step 1.

This truly is a winning formula the world over. Look at any reality TV show in any country, and they all follow this formulaic trait. Let’s be honest, how many non-celebrity winners can we think of..erm..Craig who was also on Bo Selecta…erm Susan Boil..erm erm. The list is, well remarkably short !

This is what gets me more than anything. It’s selling the dream, not only to the poor saps who volunteer to put themselves through this humiliation, but to the audiences who lap it up and are happy to pay for it. It becomes consuming, it’s all some people can talk about (apart from football..but that’s another rant) ! It’s as if normal conversational subjects break down whilst “Dancing on Ice” is being smeared across our screens. Eight years back, the average member of public didn’t give a toss about ice skating or ballroom dancing. Because the TV tells them that it’s important…they have to breath into a paper bag every time they see a sequined leotard !

I resent not being able to turn on the televisual box due to the reality TV dirge that assaults my eyes. I resent people thinking that you are from Saturn because you don’t watch X-Factor. I resent the fact that self righteous tw*ts like Simon Cowell get the chance to be a self righteous tw*t.

I really resent people not being able to think for themselves, and being controlled by the TV Networks.

Right, I actually feel better after that….

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