It’s been a strange week, dear blog reader. A week of smiles and frowns. A week of quirky surprises, weird conversations, unexpected revelations and little time (until this evening) to reflect on the weirdness of the world that never ceases to amaze and entertain me.
I had planned to spend a few quality hours working on editing my novel, The Range, but the itch to share this weeks list of oddities had to be scratched. I reckon a good old-fashioned list will do, if you’ll indulge me. Let’s start with the Frowner’s 😦 before moving to the Smiley’s. 😉
Top 5 Frowner’s This week.
# 5 – Email Virgins.
Or Too Dumb For Words as I prefer to call them. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for anyone under the age of…let’s say 70 for the hell of it, to learn how email works. Email has been around a while now. Long enough for most people to know of its existence. And yet this week I’ve heard this sort of thing from a dozen or more people:
“Oh. Email? Well I don’t really get it. Never seems to work for me. Hahaha. It’s all a bit complicated isn’t it?”
No. It really isn’t. Put in an email address and a password. Click “Compose” or “Create” or whatever big obvious word tells you to make an email. Write it. Put in the email address then click SEND or POST. Where’s the complicated bit? The problem with some people is they’d rather make a joke of it, like it’s all a bit silly and unnecessary, than take the time to learn how to do it.
Please stop acting like it’s a huge joke, that everyone around you shares the same feelings, that it’s okay to pretend to be dumb. Email is a basic tool. You need to learn it. And I’m not talking about 89-year-old teachers ready for their coffins either. Some 20-30 year olds seem to actively choose not to understand how to send an email. And yet even after trying to teach them how to do it they laugh and look at me like I’m an insane techy geek who’s just explained how the universe works using advanced mathematical formulas.
Then sometime later I’ll overhear a conversation where they’re talking about some LOL comment they posted on Facebook.
Yeah, I know. Go figure, right?
I weep for these dullards.
# 4 – What does Tomorrow mean again?
When I was 19 I didn’t have a plan. Rebel Without a Clue, that was me. I could barely see beyond the next weekend let alone what I’d be doing next summer. But other people my age knew. They had a plan. They were placing nice big stones in the water to get from one side of the river to the other. Looking back I kinda envy them a little. I wish I could email my 19-year-old self a bit of sense and a kick up the arse.
The world has moved on since then. We’ve got the internet, social networking, a world gone mad with technology and everywhere people seem to grabbing what they can and aiming for the stars. So why is it that some teenagers (yes, we’re back on the Teenage Rant Train again folks) can barely comprehend that what they do tonight will impact on how they get through tomorrow? The lifestyle choices they’re making right now are laying down the foundation for years to come.
My brain hurts when I see teenagers chucking away a good solid education in favour of booze filled nights, instant gratification (choose your poison) and endless, pointless conversations via text message. Surely I’m not that old at 37 that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young, where the world is a fabulous array of shiny lights, giggles, music, drugs and booze?
I hear so many teenage stories that end with the phrase: “…you know, just for shits and giggles.” Yeah I get it. It means: “Just for a laugh” or “for the hell of it” but that new phrase is totally grinding my gears at the moment.
You know what? Grow up. Get a freaking clue.
The world isn’t pleased to see you, CHILD.
It doesn’t owe you a thing.
You will NOT get everything you want just because “you want it.”
Party. Sure. Have fun. Hell, why not? But try to keep one foot (hell, even a toe will do) in reality some of the time, eh?
# 3 – Petrol Pump Hoggers.
I hate these people. I shouldn’t really care. But it winds me up. So I’m queuing at the gas station, there are 3-4 cars in front of me and I’m listening to music, patiently waiting to inch forward, knowing within about 5-10 minutes I’ll be able to fill up my car. The pumps at my local gas station have nice long hoses so they can reach around the entire vehicle. No need to jostle for the queue where the gas cap is on the right hand side, just slide right in and reach across.
I move forward a little when the 2 cars in front move away. The van in front has spent the last 5 minutes unloading a huddle of dirty Polish workers. They’ve been standing around having a chat, smiling and getting in the way. The van doesn’t move. Behind me someone beeps. I don’t really care. They can beep all day. But I am very aware that there’s a space up ahead next to a pump and the Polish contingent isn’t moving.
The second I move the Polish driver roars up. Twisting his battered white van across the queue to jump in front of me. His Polish slaves are grinning with yellow teeth and itchy scabby stubble riddled chins. It’s all bloody funny isn’t it? Still. At least he’s moved the queue on. But instead of filling up, he goes back to his pals. Hoiks his dirty jeans up and grabs his crotch.
With a roll of my eyes I reverse up. Pull around him and join the other queue. I manage to fill up, pay and leave the gas station before he’s opened his gas cap. I see this behaviour time and again. Little men. Idiots and grinners. Lolling about the place as if they’ve won some weird competition only they were taking part in. Every day I see this sort of stupidity and I feel sorry for the country. When I’m in my retirement, pissing into a tube and calling everyone Billy, these sorts of people will be ruling the country.
God help us.
# 2 – People rioting over Mohammed.
I’ll hold my hands up here and admit that whilst I usually follow the news I’ve missed it a lot this week. I’ve read/seen a bit about various embassies being attacked because a bunch of people are pissed about a short movie poking fun at their beloved prophet Mohammed.
I’m not religious and even if I was I’d still be shaking my head in amazement at the behaviour of these muppets. So someone made a joke about your god/prophet/leader/deity etc. And that gives you the right to act like a lunatic, attack innocent people, kill them, burn stuff, riot, shout and scream as if the rest of the world had just popped by your living room and pissed in your mother’s face?
It’s no wonder there’s so much prejudice and hatred in the world when people are that narrow-minded and quick to anger. I applaud anyone who shows such devotion to anything, religion, music, art, science, nature – whatever. But that’s no excuse to round up a horde of idiots and inflict violence on everything around you. I can honestly say some of the footage I’ve seen on the news of people rioting outside US embassies looks like: a) a zombie movie, b) a bunch of angry monkeys fighting over territory.
Don’t demand tolerance from others when you’re not prepared to show it yourself.
# 1 – Idiot Dog Owner.
This sad event is a bit heavy on the swearing. Apologies. I’m on my way to work on Wednesday morning. I pull onto the supermarket car park because I forgot to make some lunch. I’ll just grab a £1 sandwich and a drink and get to work. When I step of the car I hear a loud voice. I don’t take much notice. I head for the ATM. Some guy is probably arguing with his girlfriend or wife over the price of bread or something. None of my business. I’m vaguely surprised at how anyone can be arguing on a nice sunny morning.
As I walk across the car park to the store entrance I watch a middle-aged man yank a dog lead. The dog is a little brown thing, some kind of terrier, fluffy and whining a bit. The man is probably about 50, maybe a little older. He’s wearing grey trousers, light blue checked shirt and has a neat little cloth cap on his head. I clock all this in a few seconds before I realise he’s the guy I’ve heard shouting.
As I approach the entrance the guy gives the lead a good hard yank and for a second the dog leaves the ground. Hmm. I’m not happy about that. The dog looks pretty stressed out and not actually misbehaving. The guy says something like: “Sit. Polly sit. Now.” I think it was Polly. Or Molly. The dog has its tail firmly between its legs. It doesn’t sit. “SIT!” another yank. Now get this: “Fuckin sit!”
Several people have already walked by at this point without a glance in the guys direction. I slow up so I can watch him. Yank. Yank. Bit of a drag. The dog is clearly distressed. More abuse. I don’t really remember what he says. Lots of effin this and effin that. All I want is my £1 sandwich and a nice drink. Problem is that if I walk on by I’ll spend all day thinking about that poor dog.
So I casually walk up to the guy. “Morning. Nice dog. Looks a bit unhappy.”
Cap Guy says: “So?”
“Probably go easy on him, give him a treat or something. That’s what I did with mine when I was training them.”
Cap Guy stares at me. His eyes are yellow, they match his teeth, or what few he had. He’s got bits of white stubble on his neck and a pathetic bit of gold necklace resting against his skin. For a moment he doesn’t say anything. So I reach down to give his dog a pat. Usually I’d ask an owner if that’s okay but I’m guessing this idiot will say no. I feel like I should reassure the dog, Molly, or Polly. Let it know that not all humans are ignorant brutes.
The dog is shaking but doesn’t back off when I give it a tickle behind the ears.
It lets out a little whimper and Cap Guy gives the lead another hard yank. I’m not talking a cautionary tug here but a swift hard snatch that shifts the dog 2 feet away from my hand. Cap Guy doesn’t look me in the eye. He glares at the dog and says something like: “Fuckin touch my dog. Fucker.”
Right. Fine. Confrontation time. I step up to him, close. I can’t remember the words I used exactly, adrenaline is a bitch on the memory. But it goes something like this: “Hey man. Why don’t you be a little kinder to your dog. He’s scared and you’re probably hurting her.”
Again no eye contact. This guys a bully. “S’my dog. Fuckin do what I want.”
“You know that could be seen as cruelty, right?”
For a second he looks at me. Another yank.
Sigh. “Look. If you don’t stop doing that I’ll give the RSPCA a quick ring.” I fetch out my phone.
Cap Guy laughs and goes to move away, yes, with another yank. I’m tempted to grab his arm but I’m not interested in him calling the cops and having me arrested for assault. So I step around him, not touching but blocking his path. In a quiet voice so no one else can hear us, I tell him that I come to the store most mornings, and if I ever see him treating his dog like that again I’m going to rescue it from him and take a very personal interest in making sure he’s prosecuted for animal cruelty.
Cap Guy tries to push by, mumbling something about how I can’t prove it.
I raise my voice a little and ask him if he’s seen the CCTV camera pointing at the store entrance. He stops and looks up. I show him my phone and say that I haven’t video’d him today, but I could and that he’s already on camera acting like an idiot. I want to say something like: “Go on. Yank that lead again you fucking bully. Just try it and I’ll cram it down your throat until you shit leather, you dirty little excuse for a human.”
But I don’t. I want my £1 sandwich not a day talking to the police or RSPCA.
Cap Guy stares at my phone. He’s shaking. Not sure from fear or rage. I don’t do violence. It’s a pointless waste of energy. But a tiny part of my wants to punch him in his little rat face. Cap Guy says something like: “kay.” He walks off. No yank this time. Little Molly, or Polly, follows him on a loose lead.
I saw him today. Cap Guy. he was stood outside the supermarket with his little dog. Same cheap shitty clothes. Tiny cigarette butt stuck between his lips. No shouting. No yanking. No swearing. Little Molly. I think it was Molly. She was laying down in a neat ball by his feet. Loose lead. I’m sure he saw me walk by because he kept his head down. He must have been aware of me.
Anyway. I’m glad I had that little chat with him.
I hope I don’t have to do more if I see him acting the bully again.
Top 5 Smiley’s This week.
# 5 – Bunny Drinking.
On my way to work I tend to take the back roads where there’s hardly any traffic. The bends and twists in the road are fun to drive. I get to enjoy the morning air, the clouds and sun rising. Not sat trundling along with the rest of the sour faced commuters on the motor way.
I get to see plenty of wild life. Well. What passes for wild in England. Birds. Hedgehogs. Squirrels, the occasional fox or dear and of course lots of rabbits. Monday morning I came to a bend in the road where you have to slow to around 20 mph as it’s quite tight. I round it, change gear then hit the brakes.
Sat in the centre of the road is a rabbit. Normally they dash away at the sound of a car coming. Not this one. It’s sat facing me. Head down. Tiny little tongue lapping at a puddle of rain water. I sit behind the wheel and watch it, enthralled at how this little furry critter is taking its time having a cool morning drink. Unhurried by the sound of my car.
I expect it to suddenly scurry away but no. When it’s finished it politely and elegantly hopped to the side of the road and paused for a second as if to say: “Thanks for waiting, mister. You’ve no idea how much I needed a cool refreshing drink.”
We parted company.
Monday was a good day.
# 4 – Music.
Not much to say about this one. Music on the way home from work. Loud as you please. Lifts the spirits. Even better when the sun is shining and the world around me seems caught up in the moment – peaceful yet vibrant. Autumn is coming but a glimmer of summer still hangs in there.
I like transitions. Even better when accompanied by music.
# 3 – Happy Dogs
Usually I’m keen to spend time in the evening writing, editing etc. This week has been a bit tiring and the last thing I want to do when I get home, after using a PC all day, is sit in front of another one. So I’ve been spending some quality slouching time on the sofa watching a bit of TV.
A couple of weeks ago I was a featured guest on Pibbles & Me with an article titled What Can Dogs Teach Us About Life where I talked about how dogs can teach us funny humans a thing or two about life. Well, they taught me something new this week – the art of Taking it Easy For a Bit.
Slouched on the sofa. One dog on either side of me. Tilly on her back, all four legs in the air. I know. Weird. But that’s how she relaxes. Ben on the other side, stretched out, paws over the edge. One hand on each dog, slow, lazy strokes. For his size Ben is a very big snorer.
I’ve cherished those contented moments.
Dogs are awesome.
# 2 – Shaving.
I’m a bit lazy when it comes to shaving my face. I don’t enjoy the process at all. Even with a quality razor it feels like I’m tugging the hair out rather than the effortless grooming the Gillette adverts have you believe. So I use an electric thing to trim my face when the stubble is on the cusp of beardhood.
Every so often I whip out my razor and have a go at the shaving game. Warm water. Soap. Gel. Lather. Face slap. Scrape n Slice. I admit it does feel good after. A few days ago I took extra care with the shaving. I took off most of the forest attached to my face then lathered it up again and went in for the smooth finish. Had to wipe the steamy mirror a lot. When I was done I had a good chuckle and grin at my reflection.
I looked so young. Like a baby. Okay. A teenager. Okay. A young adult. It’s surprising how that one simple act can reveal a forgotten face. It’s a shame the stubble grows back so quick. Ah well, only 2 more months (well, 3-6 maybe) to go before I do it all again.
# 1 – Lollipop Girl
I’ll keep this one short despite being tempted to go into detail. It’s nearly 1am now and I’m kinda tired. My #1 Smiley this week is about a young girl, probably about 4 ish, and her lollipop. Oh and her brother. And her mum. And the grapes. But mostly it’s about the lollipop.
Usually after work I head to the supermarket for a cold drink before driving home. Today I fancied some chicken so I strolled through the chiller sections. I love those aisles. So cool and refreshing. I grabbed a pack of chicken satay sticks and headed back. I passed by a red-faced stressed out mother looking at fruit. She had 2 kids with her. One, a girl about 4, who was sat in the child seat on the trolley. The other, a boy, about 6 or 7. He was too big for the child seat so had to endure using his feet and walking.
A fact he was not too pleased about. The first time I strolled by he had just collapsed to his knees at his mum’s feet. Tears streaming down his face, hands grasping at his sister’s shoes above his head. I guessed his outburst was down to being jealous of his younger sister who got to have fun riding in the trolley. The mum was trying her best to ignore her lovely son and his song of agony.
The girl looked remarkably peaceful and unaware of the issues surrounding her. She had a small candy lollipop in her hand and waved it around like a wizards wand. Looking back I wonder if her brother was partly upset about that too. He didn’t have a lolly.
At the end of the veg aisle I turned and decided to get some fresh orange juice. A change from diet Coke. I could hear the boy screaming. Every so often he’d stop to suck in a huge lungful of air and then let rip once again. I reckon he’d make a good singer. A potential X-Factor surprise auditionee.
Heading for the checkout I stopped when an offer on big juicy grapes caught my eye. It’s been a long time since the chocolate or candy section was my choice of snack, and these days I go for a handy chunk of fruit over a choccy bar. I picked up a bag of grapes, twisted one off and popped it in my mouth. I wasn’t worried about someone catching me and accusing me of stealing. I was planning to buy them.
It was very tasty. Before I reached the checkout I planned to explode another grape in my mouth. It just so happened that I was passing the mother and her delightful singing son when I lobbed the second grape in my mouth. The little girl caught my eye.
She saw me eat the grape and ever so slowly looked down at her lap.
Her mum had placed a bag of grapes there.
I couldn’t help but slow to a stroll just to see if the girl was going to do what I thought she would.
Her mum was testing the firmness of tomatoes.
The girl gently placed her lollipop amongst the grapes so she’d have two hands to twist a grape away. It took about 10 seconds. Just before sticking it in her mouth she gave me a sly look. I raised my eyebrows at her. She grinned back and chewed on her grape.
Her brother had fallen silent having witnessed his sisters new treat. The girl plucked her lollipop up and seemed to consider it for a moment. Then instead of jamming it back in her mouth she offered it down to her brother. Gently he took it from her and with a smile put it in his mouth. The girl didn’t mind giving up her candy treat because she had a whole bag of juicy grapes to tuck in to.
With a smile on my face I headed for the checkout.
I felt a brief pang of guilt when I wondered how the mum would react on seeing her daughter working her way through a big bag of grapes.
But then I figured at least her son was no longer crying.
Gotta love those little shared moments.
You can miss a lot in life if you don’t keep your eye out for them.