Should We Be Scared?

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Should we be scared?

Yes. Terribly so. Anything less is simply unpatriotic.

Why Fear is Good

The entire world is built on the overriding principle of fear. The belief that something could go horribly wrong at any moment, and therefore acting accordingly.

You go to your job and are the last to leave the office, for fear of being labelled “work-shy”. You stay at the job hate for years, because of the fear of being without an income. You go home and you buy yourself stuff you don’t need with the money you earn for fear of being thought of as behind-the-times. You sit and watch box sets for fear of missing out.

Fear of loss is as powerful a motivator as the possibility of gain. That’s why we practically crave hearing about bad news. We feel compelled to know, to understand, so that we might better protect ourselves.

When terrible things around the world happen, we feel knowing and studying it can help us to avoid a similar fate. We feel that it can help us keep those things that mean the most to us. Even when these acts are random, we have to know. Even when we’re drastically more likely to die from heart disease related to poor diet and exercise, we still fear the big, scary events more. Normally while consoling ourselves by putting our feet up and eating an entire pizza (it’s been a tough day, after all).

Why The Alternative is So Terrible

Let’s say this weekend you wake up late after a long lie in. You make yourself a healthy breakfast, then decide to head to a park and hike around, and be one with nature. Instead of watching TV when you get home, you decide to write. A book, and article, a random opinion piece you’ll force upon your friends. Whatever. Afterwards you go to see your family for a home-cooked meal to talk, laugh and be happy.

You’re decaying the very foundations upon which everything we know is built. You’re crippling the economy. You haven’t consumed anything, you’re not making money for anyone.

If you’re happy, you’re not spending. Contentment is anathema to capitalism. Capitalism, in its current form, cannot exist when people are content. Content people don’t buy the latest models of gadgets. Content people don’t comfort eat to console themselves. Content people don’t go on shopping sprees to fill a void.

Instead our entire economy is built on the fact that people spend more. And when people spend more, the economy grows. And growth is good. And then people spend even more, so the economy grows further. The perpetual motion machine of capitalism trundles ever onwards.

Comedian, host of the Nerdist Podcast (and my general hero) Chris Hardwick once made a point that stuck with me – confidence comes from options. If you have the ability to find a new job with ease, the realisation that you can leave a relationship that isn’t good for you and find someone else, or that there may be another way to do things, then suddenly you aren’t scared.

In such a situation you can demand that pay-rise you deserve, or take that job that is more fulfilling. You can demand better treatment from your employer, or else you walk, preventing the race-to-the-bottom. This is great for you, but very very bad for business. And businesses support this country.

Sure they might not pay taxes, but they pay wages. Fine, they might not pay great wages, but they provide a vital product and/or service. OK, it might not be vital – in fact it could be very bad for your health and well-being, but they’re making money. And yes, it’s for people who already have a lot of money, but it’s still growth, so we’re all better off. Apparently.

Confidence kills fear, and without fear you’re not supporting your country. This country needs miserable workers who know their place. Who accept what those higher up deign to pass along, with a yes-sir-thank-you-sir attitude. To diligently consume more and more to keep us moving forwards towards…. well, more. Work harder. Buy more things. Rinse, repeat.

To do anything less is unpatriotic.

This article topic was suggested by a reader for Over-To-Uesday. If you fancy suggesting an article for next week’s blog, message me on Twitter or drop me an email.

We’re Quiztory

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What happened, TV quiz shows? You used to be so good to us.

Oh sure, when we first started seeing you it was only small, jokey gifts. The microwave ovens, the Wedgewood dinner set, or the collection of encyclopaedias. With the occasional speedboat thrown in, just to keep us interested.

Of course, we weren’t only with you for the prizes. We were there for the drama. The highs, the lows. The fact that you pushed us, and taught us. That you made us better than we were before you.

Then your prize fund crept up. Suddenly a mantle-piece clock was to be sneered at. Instead we were now looking at a prize fund of up to £1,000,000. Not an inconsequential sum, I’m sure you’ll agree. In fact, the first £1000 was so offensively easy that failure to get it was basically akin to failure at life. Heads would be forever hung in shame (and presumably sent rolling when you got home empty handed).

And while that top prize was but a lofty ambition, achievable by only a few of the highest flyers, the excitement of watching more than a few Icari try only added to the drama.

But… did we do something wrong? Now we can hope for a prize fund of a few thousand. Probably split amongst other contestants. And that’s assuming we get anything at all. We can get all the way through the rounds, battling off the competition only to fall at the final hurdle. Which is presumably a format they’re working to put into an actual show (in a world where The Edge exists, anything is viable).

Instead we need to outperform a professional quizzer, or come up with an answer no one else did, or roll a pissing ball a certain amount of distance.

We understand that the recession hit, and we expected some belt-tightening. But to bring us all that way, to get the people in the studio only to end with the damp squib of “well, at least I’ve had a lovely time” is just not what we expect any more. You’ve shown us a different life. A better life.

We’ve grown accustomed to the finer things, and we expect better of you. If you don’t provide we’re leaving you for reality TV. And we’ll take the speedboat with us.

This article topic was suggested by a reader for Over-To-Uesday. If you fancy suggesting an article for next week’s blog, message me on Twitter or drop me an email.

The Philosophy of Photography

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It’s estimated that 1 trillion photos will have been taken this year. That’s 1,000,000,000,000 photos. In one year.

But… why?

I ask this as a rhetorical question of course. As a man who writes a blog I really don’t want to put the question “why” into people’s heads for too long. Plus, as a man with his own blog I’m opinionated enough to just tell you exactly why anyway.

Most people may argue that their pictures are for them. That years from now they’ll look back over them and be thankful that they took so many, because each one meant something. But that’s rubbish. The existence of Facebook and Instgram show our photos are not for ourselves, but for others. To show them all the best-foot-forward, cool things that we get up to. We want desperately to believe that we’re important, that what we’re doing is important. To hope that someone somewhere will feel jealous of us. And that we’re worthy of that jealousy.

While on holiday this year I saw some deer. It was as I was driving past – a whole family with little baby deer like something off an Ikea canvas print. Just lovely. The moment was gone far too fast for me to get my camera and take a picture. In fact, by trying to do so I would have missed it.

Even if I’d had the camera out and ready, suddenly the memory wouldn’t be of seeing the deer, but of my viewfinder. Thus the photo itself becomes not a memento of that moment, but a poorly shot representation of an experience I didn’t experience. In that situation I could have simply gone online and found a better picture of deer, one that’s not shot by an incompetent travelling at 60mph, and it would have meant exactly the same.

The addition of Photoshopping just compounds this. Not only are you taking photos of things that don’t mean anything, but now you’re actually altering them to look even less like the moment itself. By adjusting the colour, removing the imperfections, adding a filter you’re robbing yourself of the reality and creating a moment that never existed. That never could exist.

That’s why the best photos aren’t the ones where the group gather round and stare at the photographer. Where you collectively say cheese and pull a smile that doesn’t appear anywhere in nature. Where your hair is just perfect, otherwise DELETE!

The best photos are of a moment. A group of friends talking to each other, laughing together. The sunset you watched with a loved one. Children running around playing, not being forced to sit and smile inanely.

The more staged a photo is, by definition the less real it is.

Years from now you won’t look back and remember posing for a selfie. You’ll remember where you were, what you were doing that you had to distract yourself away from in order to pose of the photo.

Let’s say you meet a celebrity you love. You don’t have much of their time. Do you thank them from the bottom of your heart for their work which has affected you so much? Do you talk to them as a person, and connect with them as a fellow human being, forever remembering a moment shared? Or do you say “excuse me, could I get a picture?” and remember forever the moment you were stood next to a hero, literally inches away from them, and instead chose to spend it staring at the screen of your phone?

But it’s fine, you can crop it down and add a filter when you get home to hide how you look. But at least this way people will know. And that’s the important thing.

The Most Advert-full Time of the Year

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The annual John Lewis advert is here. As ever it hits you right in the feels. Unless you’re a cold-hearted cynic. Or just view it as a piece of marketing by cold-hearted cynics, designed to sell you TVs, furniture and soft cushions (bloody cushions).

I remember as a kid liking TV adverts. I still get a slight excitement when I hear “holidays are coming”. And the child-labour espousing evil of Geoffrey the Giraffe on the Toys R Us ad flew over my head to instead be a source of joy. In fact the reflexes of a thousand Christmases take over when you hand me an Argos catalogue.

But this was all when I was a kid. Now I’m a grown up (supposedly), and realise these aren’t insights into a magical world. They attempts to associate a time of year with a sugary drink and consumerism – diabetes be damned!

We’re grown ups. Why are we sat in anticipation waiting for something designed to flog us crap we don’t need, all by connecting their brand to an idea. A feeling. That everything will be alright if I buy more things.

And the latest ad for John Lewis is the worst. I like the idea of an emotive appeal to get older people involved in Christmas. Last year around half a million older people spent Christmas alone. That’s heartbreaking. But has fuck all to do with buying new cookware.

If this ad was asking me to donate my money to Age UK instead of buying a new tablet computer, then fair enough. If it wanted me to donate food for a group lunch so that old people don’t have to be alone, then I’m all for it. Hell, even if John Lewis were donating all their profits for the December period to show that it’s not about the money, then it’s probably OK. But it’s not. It wants me to buy more, and maybe, maybe, give some of it to an old person. Because old people need things too.

Even if we take it as a given that it’s a cash-grab by the company, they could at least get the narrative of the thing right. They want to help this poor, lonely man to feel loved and part of Christmas. Do they bring him into their home and feed him as one of the family? Or do they realise he can’t come to them, so they bring Christmas to him? Or, inspired by The Martian, do they come together to stage a valiant rescue attempt for this poor, stranded soul?

Do they fuck.

They send him a telescope.

“Here Grandad, watch all of us have fun, but you can’t come here because you’re old and smell of stale cabbage. Plus you might die and really ruin everyone’s enjoyment of the listening to a whiny rendition of the Royle Family theme tune on our new surround sound system from John Lewis.”

They might as well send him a brand new photo album, filled with all pictures of the fun and joy they had on their magical day, with a note saying “Maybe next year, eh old man?”

P.S. Really? Using an Oasis song for a Christmas ad? Well, I guess nothing sums up Christmas like thinking your brother is a dick.

Fireworks. Complaining Doesn’t.

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As October turns into November and the pumpkins start to decay revealing the true message of Halloween – the futility and inevitable end of human life – our thoughts move to Bonfire night.

Fireworks were first used in 7th century China during the Tang dynasty, before presumably being perfected in the Bang dynasty.

Walt Disney was a large consumer of fireworks. This weird dietary quirk earnt him the nickname “Sparkle-farts”. After his death the Walt Disney Corporation continued this tradition, deciding to shoot them off into the sky instead, but remains the largest consumer in the world.

As a child I was scared of fireworks. My theory is because I was Christened on Nov 5th I have a Pavlovian association between the bangs of the fireworks and the burning of the holy water. But it’s also because fear of fireworks is a COMPLETELY NORMAL REACTION TO EXPLOSIONS AND FIRE. Look at a dog at a firework display. Does it sit in silence and use the bright colours in the moonlit sky to ponder it’s place in the universe?

No.

It howls and gets as far away from that shit as possible. Natural.

Women like fires that are controlled and pretty. This is why they spent over £90m on luxury candles in a single year. That’s right ‘luxury candles’, suggesting that there are still essential candles. Presumably for restaurants who like reading the menu to be a game of Russian roulette, and the booming Jack Be Nimble impersonator market.

See, men like fire, but we prefer the kind of fire that stinks to high heaven. Smoking fire. Fire for meat. If you doubt this, see the difference between how many former scout peed on a fire vs the girl guides.

Admittedly the scouts have the biological advantage of being able to arc their stream and maintain a safe distance (after all, that’s one meat we don’t want on the BBQ). But we’re also the only ones stupid enough to wonder what happens. And the answer is a stink to high heaven that stays with you forever. It’s my sincere belief that the reason men have more nose-hair is that this is the body’s natural defence to protect itself from experiencing that unholy aroma ever again.

Wherever you are, have fun this Bonfire night. But I think the closest I’ll get to setting off a firework is flicking some water on a hot hob.

The Joy of Fest

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It’s recently been floated as an idea that some friends and I should go to a festival next year. I’m am for this in principle, but I’m not the kind of person who fits in well at a festival. I try. God do I try. But it’s only getting worse as I get older.

So here’s my top reasons my peak festival-going days may be behind me.

1) Alcohol

Many people consider drinking to be a fundamental part of the festival experience. But I’m not a massive drinker. Plus I’ve paid a lot of money to come and see music, I want to hear the bands play the songs, not be leaving every 4th track to pee in a giant plastic cube while standing in the urine of a thousand other men.

I’ve genuinely seen people falling down drunk at 10:00am, and one guy at a day festival apparently passed out around 14:00 and missed all the bands he went to see. If you want to pass out in a field listening to “also appearing” acts, go to a battle of the bands and save yourself a lot of money. They’re closer too.

2) Back pain

I’m just getting to the age where office life is starting to break me. Oh sure, talk all you want about regular breaks and ergonomics, but being sat in an office for 8 hours a day is always going to leave a lasting impression. Generally my arse on the seat.

So if you’re going to have me in a field clapping all day, with the occasional raising of my hands into the air to adequately demonstrate my apathy, this is going to add up to a sore back. And that’s the kind of shit that a weekly pilates class is powerless to prevent.

3) Logistics of being over-prepared

Some happy-go-lucky types just wander in with nothing but shirt on the back. Some don’t even manage that.

Not me.

Sun cream? Check. Lots of bottled water to stay adequately hydrated in the summer sun? Check (at least 6, just to be safe). Waterproof rain jacket. Hoodie in case it gets chilly. Healthy snacks? Unhealthy snacks? Wet wipes? Hand sanitizer? Sun glasses? Phone, wallet, keys and other valuables?

I look less like a care-free festival-goer and more backpacker-who-just-saw-a-crowd-and-followed-it.

4) Food

Festivals are like my heaven – it’s all pizza, burgers, burritos, noodles and other delicious food stands. Proper food stands. None of these hipster veg-infused bollocks. Processed meats, American Cheeses and saturated fats all the way. But when you get to the stage when pie and mash is the healthy option, and you’re choosing burgers because you can add fried onions, which totally count as one of your 5-a-day, something may be going wrong. Like most of my internal organs.

The older I get, the more aware I am that I should eat healthier. An indulgent day used to make me worry I’ll get fat eventually. Now it makes me know that I’ll get heartburn and probably wake up with a food hangover thanks to all the salt and MSG and crap.

5) Hygiene

Hygiene is a major concern. I’m not so worried that I’m going to smell. I can’t smell me, what do I care?

No, my concern is more that I’ll die of dysentery by eating without scouring my hands for twenty minutes first, or I’ll catch chlamydia from the toilets. Again.

In these situations hand sanitizer is your friend. Although the first festival I went to was on at the same time as an England football match. I went to order some food as everyone was walking towards the screens, put some hand sanitizer on while I waited. As the woman went to hand me my burger she paused, looked at me doing this, and simply said “I’m guessing you’re not going to the football, are you…?” How. Rude. I mean, I wasn’t, but still, assumption much?

This article topic was suggested by a reader for Over-To-Uesday. If you fancy suggesting an article for next week’s blog, message me on Twitter or drop me an email.

Hunted – Diary of a Fugitive

Hunted - Diary of a Fugitive
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Day 1

15:46: Had a knock at the door – they told me I was on the run! Luckily I’d been preparing for weeks. I had been stockpiling rations and maps that I came across. I’m ready, I can do this.

16:28: Accidentally watched two episodes of Archer on Netflix. Decided to label it research into survival skills. First time I’ve ever appreciated the notifications on the third episode. Half my rations have been eaten. In unrelated news I have a chocolate headache. I grab my pack and run to the street.

16:34: I draw some money out. Having seen that all ATMs have CCTV, I maintain an evil glare and give them the finger for the whole transaction. Although it was probably the wrong move when I was getting cash back in store at the time.

16:35: The store security guard has clearly heard about my task as he helps me leave much faster. I complete the first 1.4 yards of my journey in record time, with a well coordinated throw of my bag out of the store. Shame I was in it at the time.

16:42: I reach the Tube station to board the Northern Line.

17:23: I finally board a tube.

17:47: I get off the tube, having spent the past 24 minutes stood at an angle usually reserved for Michael Jackson videos. We were packed in very tightly. I may have had someone inside of me. I try not to think about it as I make my way to the train station.

17:51: I feel I’ve been in London far too long and they must be close. That said I’ve never yet turned down a station pasty, and I refuse to let this experience change who I am as a person.

18:12: I board the first available train after my pasty. Extra large was probably a bit arrogant of me. I keep the un-eaten part and hope when it starts to go stale it’ll harden into some kind of weapon.

18:17 – My weapon has been eaten. I feel ill.

19:25 – I arrive at “The North” and leave the train. The station is called Ipswich. I reassure myself that I’m not really on the run in some kind of dystopian future. Ipswich always looks like this.

22:12: I’m not all that familiar with Ipswich, having only really been to the cinema. So I go watch The Martian. Well worth the money. Although the large popcorn and drink ate into my very limited funds.

22:16: I decide to get a bus into the country. After a heated discussion and several minutes of furious waving, it seems they don’t accept Oyster card here. I’m politely told I’ll need to wait for the next bus. Then I’m impolitely told I’ll really have to wait for the next bus.

22:17 – The bus driver continues to insist, before helping me with the first 2.1 yards of my journey. These Suffolk people seem stronger than their London counterparts.

22:40 – I finally board a bus. They tell me that they I require exact change. I regret demanding all my money is in £50 notes so I can feel like a big shot. I feel pretty stupid. Until I say “keep the change” and feel like a boss. Worth it. And so I set course for deepest, darkest Suffolk.

22:42 – I arrive in deepest, darkest Suffolk. Which is lucky because apparently the bus terminates there. I leave, and notice there’s a man with a camera on me. I ask him what his deal is. It turns out he’s been with me from the start. Which is awkward. His name is Stephen, and he’s not allowed to help me in any way.

22:58 – I decide to set up camp. Stephen is apparently not keen on acting as my bivouac. I throw a tantrum, screaming that I’m his master now and as my minion he must do my bidding.

23:14 – I finally tire myself out and decide to sleep under the stars. A phrase I’ve not used since my gigolo days in Hollywood.

Day 2

06:47 – It’s the morning after the night before. I’m thankful to wake up in a world where time is still linear. I decide to make the most of the situation by getting a McDonalds breakfast.

07:12 – I finish the meal. They aren’t as good as I remember. I try to decide whether to feed Stephen, but decide against it. You never feed strays, it just encourages them. He buys himself a Sausage McMuffin, which I promptly steal and flee the building with. Stephen pursues me. Based on my distance and hang time I assume Stephen is from Suffolk. And hungry. And angry.

07:13 – I invent the term “hangry”. Stephen assures me this isn’t new. This is probably for the best because I was already part way into dialling my Mum to let her know how clever I am. They probably would have traced this some how.

07:35 – In an effort to recapture the magic of “hangry” and get Stephen back on my side, I try being both earnest and direct. Stephen does not react well when I tell him I’m “erect”.

9:09 – I regain consciousness. Stephen says he may have overreacted and suggests we put the whole thing behind us. I say that it’s fine if he wants my being erect behind him, I’m all for it.

10:44 – I regain consciousness. I’m suddenly wary of Stephen. Particularly his right hook, which could floor a donkey. I decide he’ll be useful if we’re backed into a corner. We board a train to head on, lest they know where we are. I decide to use this situation as an opportunity to say “lest” more.

13:20 – We arrive at Great Yarmouth where I head straight to Donkey ridethe beach. I locate the nearest donkey ride and demand that Stephen punch it, for science. Stephen politely declines. I push the subject before I politely recline, fearing loss of consciousness again.

17:37 – We’ve killed an afternoon at the beach. It’s been a magical day that I’ll never forget. Stephen bought me candy floss to apologise for the three punches. He said I’m not allowed to tell anyone as he could get into a lot of trouble. I promise never to tell a single person. Mass crowds seem to remain fair game.

18:45 – We arrive at a caravan park where I finally get some shut-eye. It’s been a long day, and I feel mildly concussed, so I get an early night’s sleep.

Day 3

9:54 – I sleep like a baby. It’s good having a roof over my head again. Stephen says that I should have actually got a caravan, rather than sleeping under someone else’s, which he suggests is “a bit weird”. The free Wi-Fi begs to differ.

17:25 – I realise I’ve lost track of time as I’ve spent the day watching Netflix on my tablet using the open Wi-Fi. Stephen questions how long my battery will last, which I wave away. I don’t have time for naysayers on my adventure.

18:00 I set off in search of food. Stephen assures me that cat isn’t great, and that I should eat some proper food. I trust Stephen on this. I buy some Tunnock’s Teacakes and a packet of Nik Naks instead. I return back to my Wi-Fi. I watch late into the night.

Day 4

8:23 – I wake up and go straight back to watching shows.

17:54 – Stephen is worried. Apparently the battery died several hours before but I didn’t notice. He suggests maybe I should go to the hospital, but I say him and his three identical siblings can forget it. With my track record that’s the first place the Hunters will look.

Day 5

7:29 – It’s been a while since my last proper meal. I decide to properly discuss the situation with Stephen. We’ve been given £450 on a card, of which I drew out £250. I share with Stephen that I’m worried I won’t be able to pay it all back. He assures me that it’s fine, I don’t have to pay it back.

8:02 – We check in to a local spa. I order champagne which I drink, and oysters, which I flick at Stephen.

19:23 – After my massage, sauna, steam room session and a brief nap, I order myself a steak. And then a second. Which I flick at Stephen.

Spa towelDay 6

I remain at the spa.

Day 7

I remain at the spa.

Day 8

My cash ran out days ago, but it turns out they don’t run the card I gave them until check out.

Day 9

I stay at the spa

Day 10

I stay at the spa.

Day 11

12:34 – Staff are suspicious that I can’t really afford all of this. My monocle bill alone is reaching into the mid hundreds. They run the card.

12:52 – The Hunters arrive in the middle of my regular afternoon sauna. They promise not to hurt me if I come quietly. And they promise to settle the bill if I “put on a damn dressing gown”.

I may not have outwitted the Hunters, but I do appreciate the experience it’s given me. And the wonders it’s done for my pores and cuticles.

This article topic was suggested by a reader for Over-To-Uesday. If you fancy suggesting an article for next week’s blog, message me on Twitter or drop me an email.

Summer Wardrobe

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Hot“Why don’t you get a summer wardrobe?”

“I don’t think that’s necessary.”

“It’s incredibly hot out, aren’t you going to get, well, incredibly hot?”

“A slightly warmer day is no excuse for me to inflict my legs on the capital, thank you very much.”

“You just tend to get a bit cranky when it’s hot out, especially when you’re wearing a jet black Rush t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

“No, YOU tend to get a bit cranky when it’s hot out, especially when YOU’RE wearing a jet black Rush t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Which I realises is slightly more of an edge case for you than it is me.”

“But just think, you can have half your t-shirts out now, and half saved for winter, so you get to wear them as if they were new. That means you won’t need to go shopping as often.”

“Well played. Points for knowing your audience, but no. Now pop the kettle on.”

“You can’t seriously want a cup of tea in this heat?”

“Look, my dad always said I’m like our car. I can’t go very fast and the body needs a lot of work, but also that when it’s hot you should put hot water in, otherwise it’s a shock to the system. So pop the kettle on. It’s just a bit warm out, not the bloody apocalypse.”

photo credit: “Hot” via photopin (license)

The ABCs of Cleaning

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DVDs

Aaaand a deep soothing breath at the organised loveliness. And the realisation of how many copies of the same film you actually have.

“They’re due here in twenty minutes, how’s the tidying going?”

“And…. done!”

“Really, wow, OK, so if you just go and… wait, have you hoovered?”

“Ah, no.”

“Or dusted?”

“Not yet.”

“And you’ve not put the ironing away, tidied your stuff or done any of the washing up.”

“I have done all these jobs previously. But in this exactly situation, I cannot claim they’ve not been done in the literal definition of the word, no.”

“So what HAVE you done?”

“Alphabetised the DVDs of course.”

“Why, when you know we don’t have long? I asked you to do one thing…”

“Yes, tidy, which by your own confession contains at least 5 jobs you listed earlier in the conversation. How was I to know alphabetising DVDs wasn’t one of them? If I worked in a libarary and said I’d tidied the whole place but hadn’t alphabetised the books by boss would go loopy!”

“But you don’t work in a library!”

“Oh you always throw that back in my face, don’t you? I’m sorry. I’m sorry I don’t work in a library. There, are you happy?”

“I… I… I don’t understand what’s happening!”

“And now, when your parents arrive after a long journey we can say “hey guys, do you fancy watching a film?” and be able to locate any title within 15.7 seconds rather than wasting all that time. But I bet you didn’t think of that did you? You just want them to be sat in awkward silence while we faff around with mumbled apologies and furtive glances while they judge me.”

“OK, OK, I’m sorry, alright? I’ll help by ironing and putting the hoover round.”

“Cool, in that case I’ll go jump in the shower. Thanks!”

photo credit: Pristine DVDs via photopin (license)

Blocked by the Gatekeeper.

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Gate

Getting locked out was part of plan to prove resourcefulness. Plan failed.

“Where are we going?”

“You see this gate? We need to be the other side of it”.

“But the gate’s locked…”

“That does seem to be the crux of our predicament. This is the first time I’ve trid going through Castle Park after dark and I didn’t realise it got locked up at night.”

“Well, this is the first date I’ve been on where we’ve tried invading a castle.”

“You’ve never been with a man who treats you like a Queen. You wait until later when we oppress some serfs before eventually developing Consumption and conquering a fifedom.”

“Sounds fun.”

“Oh definitely. And there’s only about a 40% chance of me finding a younger woman more likely to bear me a male heir, leading me to send you to the headsman.”

“Oh shush you.”

“45%”

“So what are we going to do then?”

“There’s nothing for it. We’ll just have to wander around until we find a point of entry.”

“I hope you’re still talking about the park.”

“… 25%”.

photo credit: Iron Flowers, circa 1900 via photopin (license)