Well fancy seeing you here...

Hello and welcome to the rambling rollercoaster of useless ponderings, strung together in what the internet calls a "blog," and the voices call a waste of everyone elses time.

Please check your sanity at the door (along with your dignity, logic, principles, good taste and prejudices against daftness.)

"I am here to seduce you into a love of life; to help you to become a little more poetic; to help you die to the mundane and to the ordinary so that the extraordinary explodes in your life." -Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Monday, 22 December 2008

Tiny Tim's Trust Fund

It’s almost five in the morning and I have just finished wrapping parcels to be sent off to people with Xboxes and Nintendo Wii’s. Upon completion I decided to check my email and then go to bed, as at 10:05am tomorrow (well, today now) Radio 2 are airing the first play of Morrissey’s new single and I’ve set an alarm so I might wake up and listen to it. The fact that I will most probably just go right back to sleep again afterwards doesn’t lessen the understanding that I should at least aim to sleep for a few hours before I am due to be alerted of the track’s imminent airtime by a shrilly beeping mobile phone.

Today I was just about to delete another spam message trying to con money out of me by pretending to award me some, when I noticed in the little preview window how disgracefully it was worded. Now, I know I should be offended that there are unscrupulous Scroogeish sorts trying to extricate cash from the already-impoverished, but I am equally – if not a teensy bit more-so – affronted by the fact that I was contacted by such ignorant unprincipled crooks.

I decided to reply. Here are both the original email and my response, copy/pasted as-is:

Original Message

From: "Lady Maggie Stephenson"
To: "undisclosed-recipients:"
Sent: Monday, December 22, 2008 3:14 AM
Subject: Hello

My name is Lady Maggie Stephenson, a widow that was dignosed of having

I was recently informed by my Doctor that i have a few weeks to live.

I have decide to donate the Twenty Million Pounds that i inherited from my
husband to you for charity purpose.

All response to this email should be sent to my Lawyer (Solicitor)
Barrister Herbert Smith of Herbert Smith LLP, through email for further
instructions: barrister_herbertsmith@administrativos.com

Your's Sincerely
Lady Maggie Stephenson.
Manchester, United Kingdom.


From: K S L
To: barrister_herbertsmith@administrativos.com
Sent: Monday, December 22, 2008 4:34 AM
Subject: Re: Hello

I am sorry to hear of your plight - but I am most pained that your condition has so sorely affected your spelling and grammar.

There is a variety of spell-check software available on the internet, but under the circumstances I am pleased to inform you that I can offer you the most effective and up to date personal editing services for a nominal sum. The introductory trial version lasts 28days, which appears to be the package best tailored to suit your needs as you'll be dead after that.

If you are interested in hiring me as an editor for your final weeks - to help you with writing all those goodbye letters and suchlike - then please send £5,000 to my PayPal account (or mail the equivalent value in scratch-cards care of my local post office).

Another option for your genteel consideration is this: if you decide to face death head-on in a Swiss clinic then you may wish to upgrade to our premium service, which includes word.doc templates that will guide you through the step-by-step process of writing a touching, thoughtful suicide note to your dearly beloved friends and family.

For more information please contact me via my company email fuckoffyouilliterateconartisttosser@OED.com

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (If you make it that far.)

Yours Faithfully,

Now, while I appreciate that the majority of these scams originate outside of the UK, and therefore often come from countries where English may not be a first language, it doesn’t take five minutes for even a meagrely educated woman like myself to compose a convincingly deceitful letter, so I expect them to put a little more thought into their duplicity when they claim to be descended from some obscure Mancunian nobility. It is after all their business, and the least they should do is take a little pride in their work.

If a little old lady reallymade it her dying wish to bequest me a couple of dozen million in family silver, then I’d expect solicitors to turn up at the house accompanied by the woman herself in a blacked-out Mayback; forced to step around the canine excrement left on the pavement by someone’s flea-ridden pit-bull or doberman, as she totters into my home wearing moderate courts and trailing furs. Her people would enlighten me of her offer while she remained perched on an armchair, ever-faithful to her breeding in the deliberate effort not to notice the cat dribbling on her minks. She might then interject in an effort to explain her reason for choosing me to inherit her wealth - and persuade me that her intentions were genuinely altruistic.

I would not anticipate such an offer to come as an impersonal email from said doddery old dear, with such little care taken in penning the correspondence that it would make my eyes strike upon being subjected to the reading of it.

I’m aware that I probably shouldn’t have replied and will now incur the wrath of every computer virus known to mankind, and that neither Norton or McAfee will forgive me for putting them through their paces in ridding my computer of the worms, Trojans and any other dubiously-named electronic bacterium that will seek to make its home in my computer. I do, however, also happen to be in a slightly irritated mood due to the time and knowledge that I only have a few hours before I will be awoken – by a slightly nobler Mancunian than the fictional one who has so occupied my thoughts tonight.

If they reply I intend to set these villains challenges. I saw it done on television once. They had the people prove they were who they claimed to be by asking them to pose with ridiculous items. I might begin requesting they verify that their offer is not felonious by photographing themselves with a current newspaper, then will move on to things like a fresh trout, a unicycle, or a life-size cardboard cut-out of Anne Widdecombe.

Just in case, I might leave a note with Tracy in the post-office, asking her to forward any suspicious-looking packages. Though as it’s Christmas she’d be doing that anyway: my Auntie Margaret is renowned for sending parcels that require bomb-disposal-squad training to unwrap.

It almost makes me hope to hear back from them instead of Aunt Madge.


Tuesday, 9 December 2008

It's A Wrap For The Clangers


I've spent most of the last two weeks wrapping parcels to help my father become the next eBay/GAME. Of course, it's not quite like the blokes who invented Wikipedia from a laptop in somebody's shed, as both eBay and GAME already exist, and that lack of original concept is always going to be a hindrance to a business. Still, he seems to be implementing a rather sneaky practice that works on a local level; he's buying every single computer game in the South of England, so that people have no choice but to order them from him. Quite clever really, though as with every one-man bid to take over the world: he has two women helping him. (And with all the traipsing about buying games that Sam has done, if she doesn't get a foot spa for Christmas then he may just be in trouble.)

He's not the only one that may be in trouble. All this exposure to sellotape can't be doing me any good. A report was recently published in science journal 'Nature', that said scientists (well it wouldn't be clowns would it) have discovered that sellotape emits enough radiation to take an x-ray.

"The technical term for the X-Ray phenomenon is something called triboluminescence. As the sticky tape unrolls, the adhesive becomes positively charged, while the plastic tape takes a negative charge.

In a vacuum, this causes an electric field to be generated and 100 milliwatts of X-Rays to be released in a pulse lasting a billionth of a second."

This is vaguely worrying, because in Spiderman Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and inherits arachnid characteristics. Now, I'm not concerned about becoming a superhuman roll of sellotape – that'd be stupid – but I find it really difficult to sleep if there's too much light in a room, so don't think it'd help my insomnia if I was to glow in the dark. (Don't tell me radiation doesn't glow, either, because I've seen the trailer to The Simpsons - and on there it does - which is good enough for me.) The only benefit to being a superhuman anything would be the Catwoman-esque leather catsuit. Not that there's much opportunity to wear one unless a person is either a hells angel or a Dominatrix, and I can't drive. (And I'd be a shit dominatrix; I feel guilty ordering the dog to do as she's told.)

X-Rays from Sellotape

The main reason we have all been so frantically wrapping parcels is that the month is hurtling unstoppably towards Christmas. I haven't done a single bit of my shopping yet, have no decorations up, and haven't made a Christmas card list yet – let alone started writing any. I have begun panicking over what to buy people though. I am atrocious at buying presents people will like. I tend to have wildly grandiose ideas of what I want to buy them when I first try and think of something, then due to the constraints of time, money, charm, influence, logic and importation law have to settle for something far less magnificent. Trouble is by then anything else seems unfortunately tawdry in comparison to the "ideal present," and I find myself on Christmas Eve doubting every single thing I bought, and generally feeling as if I have spectacularly failed to get anyone anything they might actually like – which is why I end up apologising profusely as I hand over the gift on Christmas day. The worst bit is being there when people unwrap their present. Ideally I'd put them in a room with a one way mirror, so I can see them feign delight while trying to work out what the object actually is, but they can't see me cringing into myself at the embarrassment of being the madwoman who always gives people crap stuff. If one is going to do that really, then they need to have no self-awareness whatsoever, like my Auntie Margaret, or my Nana Tess. They both give really random and bonkers presents: so bonkers that the opening of their gifts is an event in itself, albeit one that always ends in bemuslement and derision.

Another, slightly more entertaining tradition is sitting down to watch TV on Christmas day once all the presents have been unwrapped, all the food has been eaten, and all the Christmas-cheer has been supped dry. So I was sad to hear this morning of the death of Oliver Postgate – creator of The Clangers, Bagpuss and Ivor The Engine. Now, saddened as I was in a nostalgic momentary-"awww"-then-carry-on-with-life sort of a way, I heard a radio 1 news reporter describe his death as "untimely." At this juncture I should mention that the man was 83, so whilst his death was unfortunate, it can hardly be described as 'untimely.'

Watching old episodes of the clangers I came across this one, which shows the day the Clangers went political. This episode hasn't been shown since the first time it was broadcast, as it has been deemed too controversial to be aired since. Mr Postgate was the grandson of a Labour MP, and this episode was written to coincide with election night in October 1974.

Vote For Froglet!
Clangers episode

In other news, a Chinese woman has gone deaf after getting a little over-amorous with her boyfriend. According to a news website:

"A Chinese woman has partially lost her hearing after her boyfriend ruptured her eardrum during an excessively passionate kiss, reports Reuters.

The woman, who is in her 20s and hails from Zhuhai in southern China’s Guangdong province, went to hospital after completely losing her hearing in her left ear following the overly amorous embrace.

China Daily, citing a report in a local newspaper, quoted a doctor surnamed Li who explained that the kiss had reduced pressure in the woman’s mouth, pulled the eardrum out of place and caused the breakdown of her ear.

The doctor added that the woman’s hearing was likely to return after around two months.

The incident prompted several Chinese newspapers to dispense kissing safety advice. While kissing is normally very safe, doctors urge people to proceed with caution, the China Daily reported."

Health and Safety officers will think their Christmas has come early (okay, not by much.) They'll probably outlaw mistletoe now, on the grounds that it encourages people to indulge in potentially reckless behaviour. Christmas kiss-o-grams will be arrested on suspicion of assault (and not just an assault on good taste.) Katie Perry will probably have to provide police with the name of the girl she kissed, so they can check that she did indeed like it, and still has her full range of auditory senses.

The only slightly reckless thing I've done recently (which I liked a lot, but didn’t involve any snogging on this occasion,) was buy Morrissey tickets for his 2009 50th Birthday tour. It's a little daft because I have no idea whether or not I'll actually be in a position to go -- but I have every intention of being bloody-minded enough to make it happen, so am not too worried. If you think you're sick of me talking about this now, then just wait ‘til next year when his Years of Refusal album is launched and the birthday celebrations begin in earnest. I will be truly unbearable company by then, but will naturally assume that you have all had fair warning and that I may be as ridiculously overexcited as I like. So, just to warn you, Anna and I will (hopefully) be going to see Steven Patrick Morrissey on his 50th birthday 22nd May 2009 at the Manchester Apollo.

If only he didn't look quite so much like a paedophile on the new album cover. At least I won't be tempted to lay out any cash on a t-shirt. (Though the new stylistic font on the logo will doubtless grace many a tattooed Mancunian die-hard fan's bodyart in the coming year - as it's all nice and swirly.)