Monthly Archives: May 2009

New Order

Two days ago I realised that some vandal has rearranged the order of the books in our bookshelf. Instead of being in random order as they were before, they are now ordered by…colour. Who would do such a thing ? It reminds me of this scene from Porridge.

How did this happen ? I can only imagine it was an illiterate poltergeist.

Ullo John…part 2

As predicted, the next day we received an email, followed, a couple of hours later, by a call. They weren’t willing to shift on the price, but “just wanted to stay in touch.” Yeah, right. I’m pretty confident that by the end of the day they would have called back with a new offer but after doing some research we’d realised that the offer they did give us was pretty good and so we’d arranged for the bank to up the loan. In fairness, we’d picked our limit without taking sales tax and registration into account so it’s not so bad.

So, armed with the new bank draft Michele headed off to the dealer. I decided not to go along because the continual barrage of lies and bullshit that would be fired at us would probably have made me very angry. As things transpired, I was absolutely right.

Firstly, there was one aspect of our previous visit I neglected to include in my post; the “accidental” bad mathematics. Our salesman, with his big desktop calculator, was flustered and apparently not very good at maths. He kept hitting the wrong keys, and working things out in the wrong order bless him. At one point he added the cost of our trade in to the price instead of taking it away! Silly billy! Of course, I was only too willing to correct his numerous errors for him – he was very grateful of course.

Last night, the boss fella, a sour-faced, crooked little weasel called Joe, made exactly the same mistakes as our salesmen did the night before! They must have gone to the same school. Luckily, Michele was on the lookout and spotted it. The guy wouldn’t budge. By now she was tired and weary and not in the mood to deal with a penny pinching shyster, so she told him what she thought of him and withdrew the trade-in. We’ll get more for the Buick than that by donating it to the Sally Am. She left it at the dealers and so today we’ve got to go and pick it up. I have a nasty feeling there will be more lies, bullshit and avarice in store.

So we now have a new car and more debt. Whoohoo.

As it is the same colour as an American Robin’s chest, we have named him Robin.

Ullo John…

Our obnoxious Buick is now becoming a burden and so we decided to take him to the glue factory and get another motor instead. Tonight we went to a Honda dealer, armed with a car loan draft, and asked to see the Honda Fit we’d got our collective eye on.

Michele has been reading up on a lot of car-sales tactics and not only that, she knows quite a few people (including her mother) who have worked in dealerships, so we were well prepared.

Let me tell you, they tried every trick in the book, including:

  • Leaving us alone for a while so that we would talk to each other – without realising that they were listening in
  • Repeatedly going off to appeal to the boss for a discount and returning with “a very generous offer” that sucked
  • Telling us we were robbing them…”you’re holding me up at gun point”…”you’re going to get blood on the seats” etc ad nauseam
  • Telling us that “we’re already making a loss on this deal” to which I responded with a laugh

We offered to trade in our Buick, and received the response we expected “I’m being overly generous offering you $350 for it. I’ll be lucky to get $100 for it.” Really ? What a nice man you must be! Paying $250 just for our happiness!

“Well,” I replied, “it’s worth more than that isn’t it? I mean, even if I donated it to the Sally Army I’d be able to claim a grand off taxes.”

The guy agreed!


The debate continued, and I had to keep repeating that whatever offer they gave us, we weren’t going to pay more than “$xxxx and a Buick”. But they kept trying it! Every cliché you can imagine. Eventually, to the massive disappointment of our very nice salesman, the anger of the top-boss, and the amusement of some other dude with a shockingly obvious syrup, we left.

But we left with our bank draft, our dignity, in our Buick, and with our arses intact. I’m waiting for the call to Michele’s mobile tomorrow when the boss arrives and realises that they rejected a reasonable offer to rid their premises of a donkey. I call it a donkey because it’s clearly not popular and that’s probably owing to it’s colour: it’s a sort of metallic-browny-orange. Normal people would hate it, Michele loves it, and I couldn’t give a toss.

Honestly, it was like dealing with used-car salesmen.


The last time I saw The Prodigy live was in 1993 when they played the Goldsmiths “ball” – it cost 40 quid a head to get in and so, as a poor student and a legit member of bar staff, I put myself down to work it. I even met Liam Howlett before the gig but was too dim to realise it until he walked off…probably fortunate because otherwise I’d have almost certianly started acting like a nervous, fawning, cretin. The gig was mind-blowingly good.

Anyway, 16 years and 3000 miles later, last night I went to see them play at The Electric Factory with Mike (brother of bat) and it got me tingling all over again! It also made me realise how old and straight I must be…and how preferable it is. The rest of the crowd, including the “young”, were really into it too which was pretty life-affirming. The place was full of people with an average age of around 22 (including the outliers), mainly from Philadelphia and yet they liked this bunch of Essex blokes who are my age! My age! Why weren’t they as tired as me ? Fortunately we made it to the geriatric section of the venue; very high up, with a good view of the stage, and waitress service for drinks. Yeah!

Hearing Keith and Max shouting in their manicured estuary accents and getting a massively positive response from a Philly crowd invoked a generous injection of pride.

Good night.

Internet vs TV: The Cack Factor

In recent years there has been a remarkable number of pratts given way too much airtime in which they publicly malign The Internet. The thrust of the argument they tend to use is that allowing anyone to publish anything means that you end up with a lot of shit; and no-one could deny that is clearly the case. However, when the amount of available information is so ludicrously and incomprehensibly massive, as it is on The Internet today, a comparatively tiny proportion is still unfeasibly huge.
A year or two ago Tim Rice was interviewed on the subject of the Internet and music. He argued, and I’m paraphrasing, that “in the good old days” a record couldn’t be released before someone else had heard it and actually liked it, but nowadays anyone can put anything out even if no-one else on the planet likes it.
Likewise, the TV companies still hang onto a similar lifeline by claiming that a show “doesn’t work” as the result of inaccurate ratings after only airing a couple of episodes.

Well I have two words for the TV people who believe their careful judgement protects us from hollow, talentless, crap: Horne and Corden. For Tim Rice and the rest of the music industry the two words are different but equally applicable: Kenny G.

Now here is a bit of math(s) for you; I call it the Cack Factor:

divided by

Firstly, lets take TV. Being generous, lets assume that the public would agree that for every hour broadcast, 50 minutes of it was unwatchable crap. I say this is generous because you need to take commercials and trailers into account.

The crap factor would be 50/60 = a cack factor of 0.83 or, as a percentage, 83%

Now lets compare it to YouTube. YouTube works differently; you don’t sit down and passively watch whatever YouTube wants you to watch. Instead you watch things that people send you, and then things that YouTube recommends based on that. Now lets consider the cack factor formula again. Being overly mean, we could argue that for every four YouTube videos you get emailed, three of them are shit. So, according to our formula, the cack factor is 3/4 or, as a percentage, 75%.

So even under these circumstances, YouTube beats TV hands down. But then consider that after watching the clips you’re sent, you may click on related videos. Again, conservatively, assume you watch one more video for every one you enjoyed. That makes the ratio 2/5 or, as a percentage, 40%. Much less cack! The reason ? You made a judgement decision on what to watch.
Nothing had to go through multiple, expensive, hopeless layers of management decisions. It was just published. If it’s genuinely shit, the few people that do watch it won’t recommend it…but then, as a wise women said, there’s a toilet for every arse. If Horne and Corden had been Internet only, we’d all have been spared; but people who favour childish, witless, piffle would still be able to enjoy it. There’s no competition.