V is for Victor

Winning is everything, it’s the very most important thing in the world, if you aren’t a winner then you’re a loser and if you’re a loser then you’re nothing. Anything else you affirm to yourself is a big fat lie and you know it. Victory is the sweetest feeling in the world, it’s better than drugs, alcohol or sex. It’s not about the way you play the game, the journey is irrelevant, sportsmanship is unimportant.

These are scary damaging thoughts that everyone has at one point or another. When you’re playing or participating in something you think that you have an actual factual real chance at winning, suddenly all considerations of other people and their feelings vanish out of the nearest window. The brightest, clearest image in your mind becomes crushing the opposition at any cost with any weapon that you might have to hand; your cunning, your ingenuity, that conveniently located baseball bat.

Maybe you’ve realised the inherent danger involved in playing such games that are so much a part of everyday life. Perhaps you’ve sworn them off in a misguided attempt to preserve the few relationships you’ve yet to destroy with your insufferable gloating. This is very noble of you but it’s not strictly necessary, journey too far down along this particular road and you’ll find that you’ve managed to transform yourself into the doormat of your social circle, rolling over at the slightest pressure and submitting all top easily to the whims of others.

The thing you need to do is to learn to pick your battles. Only participate in activities you know that you’ll definitely win and a few others where you’re fully aware that you have absolutely no chance whatsoever of prevailing so that you can have a half hearted stab at trying to look humble so that everyone doesn’t end up despising you.


U is for Uniform

It’s been a blessedly lengthy amount of time since I last had to wear a uniform. I am just about fashion conscious enough to know that the whole white shirt and tie look really isn’t for me no matter how smart various adults might think it is. Uniforms are supposed to be this great leveller, evening out the playing field and whatnot, homogenising the population, stamping out even the merest whisper of individuality. Or maybe I’m just biased agains them because I didn’t particularly like my school uniform.

After all, uniforms are supposed to be terribly appealing. Girls are meant to swoon over a man in uniform and guys will surely drool over a lady that dons one (not that I’m being at all stereotypical or anything, as if I’d do such a thing). Perhaps it has a lot more to do with what the uniforms represent. What could be more seductive than a caring angel of comfort with relatively free access to painkillers and terribly exciting narcotics and the like? And as for firemen, they smash their way through ravaged buildings, braving flaming fiery death in order to cradle injured kittens to their bare chests. Policemen? Well they have handcuffs and I’ve been led to believe that they’re something of an excitement, or some reason, for certain people.

The allure attached to uniforms isn’t universal. Who’s going to be overwhelmed by the thought of someone decked out as a cheerleader or a schoolgirl? As I say, it all depends on context. Sanitation workers and lollipop ladies have to wear uniforms too but something tells me that they aren’t exactly the foundation upon which fantasies are built. Army men and women also have uniforms to wear. Smart ones for parade wear that might just have medals draped across the chest area. Practical ones that might get masterfully smeared with dirt. Excuse me, I have a few errant thoughts to work my way through.

T is for Tango

And so we’re right back to dancing again. Is anyone else out there managing to catch the merest whiff of the scent of obsession coming off the army right now? Anyway, I’ve pretty much exhausted my rather basic knowledge of all things dance. I’ve never even attempted a tango, apparently it takes two. But luckily there are all sorts of different types of tango out there. There’s the rival of Fanta. I’m not sure if you have an opinion on this but there’s a very definite difference between the two of them. This is not a Diet Coke versus Pepsi type of situation. The flavour margin between those two giants of the soft drink world is essentially negligible and those who reckon they can discern between the two by taste alone is either lying to themselves or you. Or maybe they think it doesn’t particularly matter in the grand scheme of things.

Tango is nice enough and I do so hate to be disparaging about anyone, much less a multinational corporation with very deep pockets that might just be in a suing mood. However, my lack of preference when it comes to Tango is such that I’d really rather have lemonade. It’s just simply not as nice tasting as Fanta. The sad thing is that I’m really not sure if there’s anything left to say on the matter. Of course I am just limited here to the orange variety rather than any of the weird and wonderful new or otherwise concoctions they keep bringing out like apple or cherries and berries or nitroglycerine (at least one of those might have been invented though for the life of me I cannot be entirely sure as to which).But that’s fine because orange is very nearly always my favourite flavour so it doesn’t exactly matter to me if they want to mess around with other taste sensations.

S is for Sierra

Oh so we’re going Spanish are we? How terribly festive, we should have a party or something. With tapas. Though to be honest, I’m probably in more of a mood for indulging in a siesta right about now. You see, sierra is Spanish for mountain range.

While it’s certainly true that my grasp on the minutiae of the various ins and outs of European culture is shaky at best, I’m pretty sure that Spain has never been particularly famous for its mountain ranges. I mean, the Pyrenees do wander across its borders but that’s hardly top of the list when it comes to thinking up nuggets of information about the country.

Luckily, the internet is available to help paper over the vast cracks in my knowledge of terribly interesting country that I’ve been to for a whole afternoon (it was very nice, we stopped for coffee). According to Google and its delightful auto-fill feature, Spain is known for wine, beaches and bullfighting. Quite clearly it’s the next best thing, the closest that we’ll get in this life, to the land of milk and honey. It’s also west of France, I don’t think I could have ever worked that one out for myself.

But it’s not Spain that I’m supposed to be talking about, it’s sierra, the Spanish perspective of mountains. I’m not exactly big on mountains, apparently you’re either an ocean or a mountain person and it’s the rolling majestic ocean for me every time. Then again, sierra can mean various other things to lots of other people. Sierra is places in Ecuador and Peru, it’s a National Forest in the United States, it’s an ammunition manufacturing company as well as being an environmental organisation at the same time, it’s a film , it’s an experimental aircraft built in 1948 but most importantly, Sierra is a character on a Joss Whedon show. There can be no higher honour.

R is for Romeo

Well that’s just fantastic. I’ve already managed to talk about how Romeo perhaps wasn’t quite such a soppy and romantic bugger as he is so often made out to be and how he was probably affected far more by the brain he kept stowed in his trousers as opposed to arrows shot in his direction by a certain mythical chubby baby in a nappy.

So then, there must be plenty of other Romeos for me to talk about. There can’t be just the one who happens to have achieved that particular level of notoriety, that wouldn’t be fair given that I’ve already had to talk about his lady. Maybe the army is more in love with Shakespeare than we might have previously suspected but they didn’t want to give it away with too many references. Perhaps they thought we’d get wise to their obsession if we had to come out with O is for Orlando or Othello or M is for Miranda or Mercutio or W is for Witches from the Scottish play we’re not allowed to name for next to no apparent reason (especially as that last one’s a little wordy). Though on a selfish note, I’d be down with R being for Rosalind.

But sadly R is still for Romeo and at the moment there’s only the one that I can think of beside Master Montague. However, he just so happens to be one of the Beckhams and I’m even less keen to think about him, much less write about him. No offence or anything.

Weirdly enough, I was thinking about Romeo and Juliet in the shower earlier (steady now) or rather one of the plethora of modernised twists we’re bombarded with nowadays. I’ve never seen West Side story so it wasn’t that and though I’ve recently seen Warm Bodies it wasn’t really gripping enough to catch my interest. It was Noughts and Crosses where the divide parting our star crossed lovers was a race issue. I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make really. I might just shut up now actually.

Q is for Quebec

Yet another thing I’m less than fully acquainted with, let’s see if I’ve improved at all when it comes to bluffing (and not subsequently calling attention to it like some sort of rube). So Quebec is the French speaking portion of Canada, I’ve been to Canada (for three weeks about five years or so ago, it’s totally fresh in my memory) and I’ve spoken French (very poorly, on and off for several years quite a while ago now. I can probably remember one or two phrases, it would no doubt be something of a miracle if I managed to hold an extremely slow and simple conversation). When you combine these facts together I think you’ll find that there could be no more compelling evidence to qualify me for talking about Quebec.

Since this is the case, and I really don’t want to offend our delightful Canadian cousins (all the ones I’ve ever met are so nice and friendly, it would be a shame to wound them. Then again, they’d probably shrug off the snub and go on to ask me if I wanted to go to Tim Horton’s for coffee and doughnuts), it would seem that there isn’t anything much to say about the area because I can’t really come up with anything (clearly it’s time to start making stuff up while still drawing on what I know of stereotypes to keep the whole thing sounding vaguely plausible).

In the snowy land of Quebec Canadian compatriots enjoy a simpler quieter life away from the media spotlight as compared to their showier southern neighbours. They ski in the full knowledge that universal healthcare will mend their broken bones and they want to make the most of such a system in the full knowledge that their hospitals aren’t being clogged up with a surplus people suffering gunshot wounds. They glory in the beauty of all the French things they can indulge in like excellent buttery pastry and… no that’s it (I’m British, we’re not supposed to like the French, we’ve been maintaining a rivalry since Agincourt and you know what we’re like for tradition).

P is for Papa

Grandfather, Gramps, Grandpa, Pop Pops (I swear I’ve heard it used) and, last but not least, Papa. When a new baby comes into the world there’s understandable pause taken to names. It’s not just the tiny life that didn’t exist before that needs to know how it should be introduced into the world, a lot of people change in relation to it if the couple in question happen to have just squirted out their first little nipper. A brand new mum and dad become Mummy and Daddy, close family friends assume the titles of aunts and uncles (because it’s cute and it lets them know how close to you they stand) and cousins try to work out if there are any titles they can start using (there aren’t).

But especially special is when the mini sproglet is the first in its generation. This is when a whole set of grandparents gets its wings and another naming process gets underway. It’s not surprising really that people want to be something out of the ordinary, to veer away from the traditional and that. On the other hand, the classics are the classics for a reason – there are only so many people who can call dibs on your first or even second choice of names, what with divorcing parents and such any child can have anything up to eight grandparents. Even more if your parents are Mormons.

However, scrolling through an extensive list I’ve found on the internet (which is incidentally how I spend far too much of my day) has shown me that there are some truly unforgivable variants out there. I refuse to consider the possibility of my dad ever being referred to as Puggles. Or Babaloo. We ended up always referring to my dad’s parents (well, dad and step-mother) as James and Anne. I know, we’re mavericks.