Monthly Archives: June 2006

Where’s your grammar ?

Grammar and language fascists really annoy me, yet recently it’s been a struggle not to join them.
Once you learn a few simple rules like:

  • Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.
  • Don’t split infinitives.
  • That’s not what “begging the question” means.
  • Only trains are due, everything else is owing.
  • And finally, don’t start a sentence with “and”.

you may have many years of smug fun laughing at the howling errors made on TV and radio (even Radio 4) and thus prove to your friends that you are an erudite and clever individual.
The truth is, the language is changing! Yes, it’s often changing through ignorance, but what does that matter ? That’s how language changes. It’s evolution; mutations that will either stay or die, regardless of their ‘correctness’.
And what is “correct” grammar ? Despite the opinion of most of the middle classes, much of it is as bogus as what the kids talk, innit.
Arses…this wasn’t supposed to turn into another anti grammar rant. The point was going to be that despite hating these arbitrary and innacurate rules, I got most pissed off with “London Tonight” this evening, because there was not one single English sentence in the programme. They had an entire segment about the new “child poverty czar”…another rant in waiting…and neither interviewer nor interviewee managed to say anything for three minutes. It was all the sort of hollow meaningless twaddle the modern business world relishes. The presenter couldn’t even use a cliché properly:

“The proof is always in the pudding”.

No no no! For fucks sake, if you’re going to brandish your lack of imagination on the TV at least do it properly.
And while we’re on the subject, a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to hear some bigwig government/quango nob actually say:

Well, Pandora is now well and truly out of the box and she’s not likely to be going back in…

on the Today programme.
(answer: she’s in the front room watchin’ telly)

Om Nama Shivaircon

“Why,” asked the American “don’t you have air-conditioning over here ?”
“Well, it’s not really hot enough over here” replied the Englishman, with sweat pouring off of his face and looking like he’d entered the City of London Mr Wet Shirt competition.

Since Michele arrived in London (ie over ten years ago) the summer has been unbearably hot for at least a month every year. However, the English choose not to remember this, favouring the traditional false memories of summer consisting of wearing full-body bathing costumes, in bathing machines, by a brown sea…in the rain.

OK, I know aircon is an environmental evil, I know using too much energy caused the problem in the first place and I have seen Dogma, but damn I wish we had fucking aircon in the UK. Last week I had to spend 3 hours a day on the tube with a load of other poor sods travelling in the dangerous heat in their suits. At least my current employer doesn’t insist on that nonsense.
You must wear a suit because it’s smart. Is it ? What looks more “un-professional” in your eyes ? A bloke in a t-shirt and shorts, or a bloke in a suit that is so soaked in sweat you can see his bollocks ? Oh but look at the nice tie! You can hardly tell his shirt has buttons!

It was 95F today, humid as the rainforests and totally bearable. Why ? The house has has aircon, the car has aircon and the house we went to had aircon.

Americans take A/C for granted which is bad I know. But the sheer, pure pleasure of walking into a house with central air is enough to keep me going. I apologise. It’s wrong and dirty, but it feels so good.

The other thing the Engish don’t have, which is far less dangerous, far simpler, and such an obviously good idea, is the “screen”. English people, imagine this if you can:

Keep your windows open and prevent insects coming in at the same time! Difficult to believe ? Read on..
Have a parrot ? Imagine being able to let it fly about the house, but with the windows open! It’s true! It can be done! And there’s no magic or witchcraft!

I can say no more because this invention is too cutting edge and I’m sworn to secrecy. But look out for branches of “Screens and Cheesesteaks” coming to an out-of-town shopping mall near you soon.

An American Tale

From bitter experience I knew that getting though the metal detector without a beep requires taking my belt off and so I successfully managed to pass through Gatwick security without a hitch. Michele wasn’t so lucky and was subjected to a search of her hand luggage. This would have been slightly embarrassing at most but for a couple of things:

  1. Buried deep in her evil make-up bag was a pair of scissors. We elected to surrender them.
  2. The laptop bag in which she was carrying her make up triggered the explosives detector – a tad more serious.

The nice security guard explained that this is quite common and nothing to be worried about. He fetched the supervisor and then tested the bag one more time; again the machine beeped excitedly. The expressions on the faces of the guys looked more serious, but they did their best to calm us down. I asked if we were allowed to know what substance had been detected. “TNT” the supervisor replied. Michele and I were so shocked that we stopped arguing about her noxious make-up chemicals for a moment in order to stare open-mouthed.
To cut a long and tedious story short, they called special branch who, probably on the basis that we didn’t look middle eastern and had no criminal record, told them to let us go. They narrowed the ‘contaminated’ region down to the front pocket of my old laptop bag and so we asked if they would be kind enough to destroy it; the thought of the U.S. DHS bully boys finding it was frightening enough to persuade me to dump 50 quidsworth of bag. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba, but orange really isn’t my colour.
Pity, it was such a useful bag. It was just the right size for taking my C4 along to the local Jihadi meetings. That was just one of the many crap jokes I decided not to make at the time. In fact Michele and I thought we shouldn’t mention the entire episode until we were safely out of sight of Philly airport; discussing TNT in any context near airworks being considered bad form these days.

We still don’t know what set the alarm off.

U.S. Airways are, in our opinion, a total bag of shite by the way. Once seated on the plane the captain came over the P.A.:

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to flight 099 to Philadelphia. We’d like to offer a warm welcome to our Gold, Select and First Class customers, and to our economy customers we’d like to offer a luke-warm welcome. Economy customers may also like to pay for some headphones to help them alleviate the frustration of watching our selection of films without sound for the duration of this 8 hour flight. They may also like to pay our brassy, pursed-lipped, hatchet-faced staff for some alcohol which is, of course, not complimentary. When we reach Philadelphia International airport, there will be a period of around 40 minutes where we remain on the tarmac while our ground crew faff about for ages trying to sort their arses from their elbows. Customers missing connecting flights as a result are welcome to pay us a load more money so they may join later flights. Have a mediocre time, and we’ll try not to crash this bargain basement A330 that is held together with sellotape!”

Well that’s not word for word but you get the idea.

But since we’ve been here it’s been wonderful. Lovely weather, and so, so much superb food. Michele’s mum had stayed up the night before our arrival cooking a massive lump of ham for me to pick at during my stay, and since then I’ve had a Philly cheesesteak, an Italian hoagie and one of the biggest and most wonderful Italian meals available to mankind.

I fear that if we stay here too long, I may risk losing my sylph-like figure.


The World Cup still hasn’t started. And I can’t wait, because the sooner it starts, the sooner England can get kicked out and the sooner we can have normal tv. Every product on the market somehow manages to squeeze a football cliché into their TV ad. I’m waiting for the World Cup specials for immodium and tampax.

So, if you were to get so fed up with the constant wank of football that you left the sofa and, if desperate enough, the house, you’d be horrified to discover that london is now an England flagscape. There are bits of Eltham that resemble a BNP rally…

But rather than start a rant on the subject, I shall simply direct you to a typically brilliant piece from Charlie Brooker which is more succinct and funny than anything I could manage anyway. I mean…he’s my hero:

Nowadays, when you see an England flag on a car, sprawled across a T-shirt, or flapping from a novelty hat, you no longer assume the owner is a dot-brained xenophobe. Instead you assume he’s just an idiot. And you’re right. He is.[…]
It’s a great piece of visual shorthand. Imagine the outcry if government passed a law requiring the nation’s dimbos to wear dunce’s caps in public.
Instead, every numbskull in the land is queuing up to voluntarily brand themselves. They even pay for the privilege! As brilliant ruses go, it’s the most brilliant, rusiest ruse you could wish for. I can’t wait for stage two, when they’re persuaded to neuter themselves with safety scissors.