Monday, 24 August 2009

When is it stalking?

I'm not an expert in dating as any of my friends who have had to listen to my countless monologues about my awkwardness will testify. I'm getting better though, slowly but surely. I'm pretty confident that by the time I'm 50 I'll have pretty much got it sorted so it's not all bad by any means. Here's 'the thing' though, when are you taking an interest in someone and when are you stalking?

Take today for instance. I'm in Waterstones running my fingers down the binding of a good hardback. I look up and lock eyes with someone of the very fit variety. We both smile at each other. He walks to another part of the fiction section and a few moments later I walk past. Again, we catch each other's glance. BINGO right? Thing is, I couldn't deny the reality of 'walking past' so in my best confident walk I strode by and picked up the first book I could find. Next thing I know, I've lost my potential hot date amongst the Maeve Binchys.

On the advice of Twitter friends I scoured the store from travel guides to humanities to see if I could find him to no avail. By the end of the search I couldn't help but feel a little like a stalker. I mean, if he'd got off the tram one stop before mine would I have got off too in the hope of conversation? I'd like to think not that's for sure.

I've decided the line between showing an interest and stalking is one best trodden on the side of caution. And possibly not whilst Twittering.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Advertorial Lavatorial Ladies

Yesterday's blog post touched on the meaning of life. Today's is, in once sense, more incredible.
It has been three years since it was first shown but I've just seen it again. I'm still taken aback by this commercial...


In the UK we're a bit reserved when it comes to talking about our bathroom habits and there are two extremely unfortunate aspects to this advert. Firstly, I pity the actors in it. Being known as the "woman from the soft poo advert" can't be a great claim to fame. I imagine any future with the RSC is not furthered by such a commercial appearance.

Secondly, I can't help but feel they've created a scenario so far from reality that people won't take the product seriously. When has anyone in the UK ever sat in Starbucks (or any coffee shop for that matter) and discussed their bowel movements, let alone the hardness of their stools? This kind of turd-talk simply does not happen. We don't like it. We're British, we're inhibited about our bodies and we like to pretend that the only thing that ever comes out of them is the occasional bit of dribble when we fall asleep on Christmas Day after one too many sweet sherries.

The thought of storing your DulcoEase just next to the complimentary sugars is preposterous and, thus, I cannot take the product seriously. Not so long ago a commercial like this would have featured someone like Maggie Philbin in a white lab coat with some diagrams and a shed load of euphemisms.

What has the world come to when the British can't be up tight about the way their bodies function?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The arrogance of atheism and evangelicals

Being a liberal natured man can sometimes bring frustrations, especially when surrounded by patronising dogmatic types. Few can be worse than the tiresome folk on either side of the 'religion debate'. I'll declare my interest here up front. I'm a liberal high church Anglican. I have a live and let live attitude, I love smells and bells in church with a top notch robed choir and a glass or two of something pleasant (and I don't mean coffee) after Mass on a Sunday (and yes, in our part of the CofE we call it Mass).

I'm comfortable in my faith to realise that I might be 'wrong' and that there might be another reason for being. Equally, I know I've weighed up the science, the circumstantial evidence for God and looked at the most likely upshot of this. Finally I've searched my feelings to find a way of viewing the world which works for me.

I wish everyone could be as settled in their beliefs. I've nothing against science, far from it, but the dogmatic Dawkins types who make a lot of noise about how bad religion is and how there is 'no evidence for it' really get me angry and while I'm at it, so do the "I've made up my mind, don't confuse me with the facts" types that inhabit a large section within the evangelical churches.

Mr Dawkins is a great scientist who takes his view of the world and imposes it on us all as if it were fact. Actually, you big Richard, it's NOT fact. It's your best theory based on the evidence you have assembled. That's all ANY science is. Atheists love to patronise those with a faith saying they "talk to a pretend man in their head". What an ugly attitude. To quote Phoebe from Friends "Wasn't there a time when the brightest minds in the world believe that the world was flat? And, up until like, what, 50 years ago, you all thought the atom was the smallest thing, until you split it open and this, like, whole mess of crap came out?".

As for the "The world is only 2000 years old and we hate the gays" evangelicals, well here's a fine example of people who don't understand metaphor or subtext. They've taken the bible and hijacked it to suit their personal prejudices. They've read it so literally so as not to really understand the deeper meaning at all.

What is amusing about both the rabid atheist and the rabid evangelical is that they speak the same language. Their minds are so closed that they can't conceive of other opinions. A closed mind does not a good scientist or student of God make.

No matter what, there is something that always was and always will be. Who or whatever created that big bang / let there be light moment is part of the bigger picture of our lives and our universe.

In the words of the great scientist Albert Einstein "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind".


Monday, 17 August 2009

God bless Donald Duck, vaudeville and variety

When I first saw Jennifer Saunders' comedy Jam and Jerusalem I didn't really 'get it'. I'm not the world's most patient man but nonetheless on the recommendation of friends I gave it a second go and I've been hooked ever since.

The most recent series is turning out some of the most glorious moments yet. There have been moments of hilarious wordplay, farce and, last night, deeply touching moments which looked into the tragic moments of people's lives.

What Jennifer Saunders has done wonderfully is create characters you can't help following. Some are annoying, several are irritating but with each character we get to see little vulnerabilities which makes them endearing. As a result I find even the most ridiculous characters extremely human.

Enjoy this wonderfully acted moment between David Mitchell and Miriam Margolyes.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

And I see your true colours...

Over the last couple of years there has been a quiet conspiracy going on in the CONservative party. In Basil Fawlty-style whispers, the heart and soul of the party have been told "Don't mention the NHS". The party's leadership knows that people are already uneasy about what the Conservatives did to the health service last time around. This whisper had kept Conservatives quiet until this week.

Tory MEP Daniel Hannan sat in the Fox News studio lapping up the attention. It seemed like the height of excitement for a man whose views are usually a bit too nutty/selfish for the average Brit. Despite the party line of "The NHS is safe with us... honest" he broke ranks when the opportunity to be a guest again on is favourite tv channel came beckoning.

The Conservative publicity machine was very quick to say this guy wasn't stating party policy, that he was a maverick and that he wasn't representative... and then another of his MEP mates piped up that he agreed with him. Actually, it turns out there may be members of the shadow cabinet who agree with him too.

Mr Cameron's mask is starting to slip and, as it does, the awful consequences of a Conservative Government become more real.

Rather than Labour's over spending and smothering nanny state attitude we'd get fewer personal freedoms and fewer opportunities for all. Rather than Gordon Brown we'd be getting Tony Blair Mark 2 with all the big-smile / empty promise politics that goes with it. Rather than giving families opportunies to make better lives for themselves we exchange pointless handouts for people being left out entirely.

The Tory/Labour/Tory/Labour pendulum looks set to swing again, sadly. What we need is a better starting point for people to make their way in life, a healthcare system that works for ALL and a liberal attitude that says "If you're contributing to this country then, no matter who you are, we'll support you". The danger is that a bunch of people who are very good at protecting their own interests will get into power again. Here's one of the most senior Conservatives showing his true colours:

This man would be the leader of the House of Commons if the Conservatives get in. Would YOU trust him to give priority in the House to health?