Random Drivel from your Average Tosser

...with your host, Binty McShae - whether you like it or not!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Once upon a time...

An old song, but an apt one..


Do you remember?
Just how sweetly these things fitted together...
Now they don't seem quite so clever
In the cold, harsh light of day.

As these colours run,
Start to merge into one,
Turning to ash in the sun...
And the dreams you thought that you had won
Have fallen, fallen away.

Oh, can't you see that it's over for you now
Before it's even begun?
Can't you tell that it's flown from you now?
It's over and done.

And time takes its toll on you,
But the toll takes its time.
Over there in the distance
At the back of your mind.
And this pantomime takes its one last curtain call...

And don't you feel jaded and foolish and hated?
Don't you feel so under-rated?
And so, so - so complicated with it all...?

Oh, can't you see that it's over for you now
Before it's even begun?
Can't you tell that it's flown from you now?
It's over and done.

Oh, can't you see - oh, can't you see...
That it's over before it's even begun?
Oh, yes it's over - over and done...

Can't you see that it's gone away?
Can't you tell it's the end of your day?
Why can't you - why can't you...
Why can't you just say what ou really want to say to me, honey?
Bring it on back now - take it on back now,
Tell me what you want to say,
Tell me what you want - why can't you see?
Why can't you see?
Why can't you?

Some endings are sweet... some are sad... some are a little bitter or angry.

Some are just impossible to describe, because you have nothing to liken them to.

....happily ever after

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Question: When a cultural form is imported (on both sides willingly) into another culture should the 'adopting' culture adapt itself to the etiquette of said form or should the form and its producers / promoters expect and accept behaviour which they might ordinarily find offensive or distracting?

Anyone who has read back far enough on this blog knows my feelings regarding cinema-heathens. Well, a heated discussion with Indian friends the other night led me to realise that there are cultural issues at play here... They understood the etiquette of not talking on the'phone and turning off the ringtone but the fact that I could get annoyed at people texting in a cinema caused them much mirth.

The way I look at it is simple - cinema is a visual medium. If someone flashed torches or turned on the lights it would be very distracting and piss most people off. When someone uses their 'phone to sms, or even just to look at the time, the light caused by their tiny screen is actually very noticeable in a darkened cinema. To me it would be like trying to listen to a string quartet with some arseholes watch alarm going of intermittently.

But then I forget that - aside from certain screenings of films like Rocky Horror or The Sound of Music - western audiences are very much brought up to silently immerse themselves in films whereas many other cultures, especially in the Bollywood sphere of influence, see films as a release, an arena to "let go" of themselves in. Whereas the social interaction of a film in the west tends to be in dissecting the film in the pub after the credits, in the east the social interaction seems to actually be the film itself.

And so I am brought back to my original question... as someone who can happily watch - nay, embrace - a piece of performance art (be it celluloid or whatever) in the environment and atmosphere it belongs, do I then have a right to expect to be able to watch films from my own cultural background in the manner that I would be able to were I back home? Likewise, should those enjoying their own eastern cultures in the west be made to conform to viewing them in a manner which follows western etiquette?

There is something akin to this in sport... very recently Sinless City hosted a Pro Golf tournament and today the papers were full of the western players who had complained that spectators were using flash-photography as they were taking their swings and that children too young to exercise noise discipline at crucial times had been allowed in. Was that a case of the stuffy colonial sportsmen being *ahem* bad sports? Or should the local populus, in their eagerness to embrace the international competition, have exercised more care in learning the etiquette of being a golf spectator? One local who attended commented that the players shouldn't have come if they didn't want to be photographed, but I think he misses the point here (there were countless photo opportunities that did not have the potential to upset the outcome of the game) and the attitude does smack of cutting off ones own nose to spite the face - what incentive is there for these sportsmen to come back and provide further entertainment or photo opportunities if that's how you feel?

But is this a cultural thing or is it just a selfishness? "I want it, so I will take it, etiquette be damned". That is an aspect of life in Sinless City I see every day, on public transport, in queues at foodstalls, on the street hailing cabs, on the escalators... there are a lot of people here who seem to exist in the 'bubble-of-one' (please note that I am not accusing my Indian friends of this - far from it!). The truth is that in this country there is an underlying sense of individual self-importance and self-righteousness and one way in which this could be seen to manifest itself is in the way people act in the cinema.

The worst examples of this behaviour, the most selfish that I have seen on a mass scale, were at the Night Safari. This is a one-of-a-kind zoo experience where you get to see nocturnal and semi-nocturnal animals in the near-wild, pretty much under natural moon-light with very little artificial lighting used. Everywhere you go there are signs pleading with people not to use flash photography as it can blind (or in extreme cases even kill) the animals concerned. Yet on my three visits to the Night Safari I saw flash after flash as the modern 'big-game hunters' regarded their trophy-photographs of higher value than animal welfare.

Okay, it seems like I am stretching my point a little - cinema irritation to maiming animals in two easy steps - and the Night Safari experience cannot really be equated with my original question. But, despite cultural differences undoubtedly playing a part in so many upsets and misunderstandings in this diverse country, I firmly believe that the root of all these problems is a lack of respect. Let me watch these films how I am meant to watch them. And I will happily watch films from other cultures the way that they are supposed to be watched as well. Let the sportsmen get on with what they are supposed to do without getting unnecessarily parochial about it (I am just imagining a Formula 1 car at next years Sinless City Grand Prix being confronted by a local cyclist going against the traffic flow...). And for fucks sake - let those animals keep their corneas.

Cheers m'dears!

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

On the Dole

In the current piece by Clairwil, about her hairdo, she makes some mention of the DSS (Department of Social Services) in the UK, which brought back a few memories that I have decided to share...

My first job on leaving school (I didn't go to Uni straight away) was actually working at the DSS (or rather the ESJ - Employment Service Jobcentre - as it was called at that point). I never graduated to be one of those desk jockeys who 'jobseekers' had to explain themselves to, I just did the signings for dole money and sometimes worked on the job search desk.

One thing that struck me was that everyone always banged on about the lazy youngsters who were happy on the dole or who were working and signing on, yet for the most part I saw young people genuinely desperate to get a job - to be able to move out of home, settle with a girlfriend, whatever. Those who came in dragging their feet actually tended to be those who had been made redundant from middle-management in their late-forties and who had adopted an "I'm better than this" attitude... those who were often the ones moaning about the young scroungers!Yet I felt sympathetic to them too - it's a bitch of an age to become unemployed, to be deemed 'obsolete'.

Since then I have been on the other side of that desk more times than I care to remember and, frankly, I find it humiliating. I hated having to queue up for cash that was barely able to sustain a bloody gerbil, especially when I was able and willing to work. It's depressing feeling your mind rotting as it goes unused... but, having worked at the ESJ and having a sense of ethics, I was always honest about my earnings. Until.......

Being the go-getter I was I signed on to a temp agency and secured a week long assignment pretty much straight away. Over the course of the week I would earn a half-decent wage and, although I would lose a weeks dole money and housing benefit, I would be a bit better off and feel able to hold my head high. Or so I thought, until I went in and declared my earnings...

My signing on day was a Wednesday. As such the week that I worked had stretched across TWO weeks of benefits. The amount earned was enough to cancel out my dole money for both those weeks. I looked at the figures and I was still slightly better off so, despite feeling this was a little unfair, I let it ride. Then my housing benefit envelope arrived...

...with no cheque, just a letter. As I had been signed off as working for two weeks I was no longer entitled to housing benefit for that month. I quickly did the maths and worked out that, with all my enthusiasm for work and my honesty and integrity, I was actually quite a bit worse off than I would have been had I just sat at home watching daytime TV.

So I will come clean. Since then, whenever I have been on the dole, I have not shied away from earning a few pounds here and there doing odd jobs for mates without declaring it. If I have had longer term or reasonably well paid contracts then, yes, I have told the relevant people - I am, at heart, an honest man - but I won't be shat on like that again for doing the right thing. Oh, and on one occasion I deliberately failed an interview that the ESJ had sent me to because I knew that it would lead to exactly the same situation.

So in their eagerness to clamp down on those abusing the system the bureaucrats have inadvertently created new abusers, ones who don't actually want to cheat or lie but who are getting the shitty end of the stick if they don't. Do they even realise that they are partly to blame...?

Cheers m'dears!

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I hateses it, I do...

I hate people who get lazy and rehash old posts on their blogs to make it look like they have actually created some output. But, then again, I fucking hate Hallowe'en more... so here is what I said about it last year in my post entitled "Shallowe'en"...

"Call me a miserable old cunt, but I really hate Hallowe'en. Seeing all the twats dressed up wandering around pubs in devil horns and black capes thinking they look so cool and 'fun-loving'... bollocks, you look like wankers. Especially those men who use it as an excuse to dress as a schoolgirl. Look, I have no problem with cross-dressing or anything, but just admit who the fuck you are for the rest of the year too. Don't use this one solitary night as an excuse to let your repressed urges out. It's just sad.

And all that "trick or treat" bullshit... what does it actually teach our kids? That it's okay to go around essentially threatening old folks. "Give us some sweets or we'll do something bad to you" - that's what it translates as. And to do it all whilst hidden behind masks? It's Dick Turpin and his ilk all over again - "Stand and deliver, your money or your life"! Fucking bastards..."

Over on her blog FatMammyCat expresses a love for the "Holiday" (although as All Hallows Day is actually today, November the 1st, perhaps it is then that is the "Holy-day"?). She says that it is nice because it is a short one... Bollocks. That's only because she doesn't live in Sinless City where it's been going all fucking week. Still at least we don't have to put up with a teddy-bear wearing a Jason Vorhees mask as a "Guy" on November 5th (Guy Fawkes night, to all you non-Brits). There's nothing like a good celebration of burning Catholics, is there...

Cheers m'dears!

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