T is for Tarnation

It’s one of those words that you’re basically aware of (you’ve heard people in black and white films exclaim it in frustration or whatever. Or you imagine that they might do because you may well have never actually watched such a thing) but aren’t quite sure of its precise meaning. Then it goes to the trouble of being exactly what you would have guessed it was if you’d gone to the bother of thinking what it could possibly mean. It’s a bastardisation of the word damnation. See? Mildly disappointing. Especially when you consider its potential.

Think about it. Tar nation. Perhaps it’s a euphemism for a country of smokers. They’re killing themselves with nicotine they are down in that tarry nation. Or perhaps it’s an old school disciplinary action by a particularly old school dictator or king. Go forth and tar the nation for they have greatly displeased me with their non compliance of my every whim. Tar them and feather them while you’re at it. See how much they enjoy being oversized and sticky chickens. Then next time they will know to obey me. If they continue with their rebellious ways I shall have to escalate their punishment to carnation where we shall crush their cars into tiny cubes and hit them around their heads with them.

Tarnation could mean something so much better. On the other hand, my iPhone seems to think it was ever so much more likely that I did in fact mean to type Tarantino. You don’t know me, Apple product. I’m well aware that you used to belong to my brother but you work for me now. Get it together. I am a person who is really far more likely to be contemplating the finer meanings of a slightly obscure word than wanting to write about the oeuvre of that particular director).


S is for S Animals

Well if QI can do it why can’t I? Yes I know that QI is an extremely popular television show with far more stimulating facts and tidbits gathered by magical elves. Whereas this blog is just me mumbling into the void, often displaying my astounding ignorance for literally tens (maybe ten. Twenty in an especially popular month) of strangers on the internet. So I think we probably ought to have established by now that I can talk about whatever I like and there’s next to nothing any of you out there can do to stop me (although you’re perfectly welcome to try. It might be relatively entertaining).

So if the mood strikes me I can go on at length about snakes, spiders and slippery nipples (no wait, that’s a cocktail isn’t it? I know about all sorts of things, promise). Or at least I could if I was blessed with an abundance of knowledge regarding such organisms. Maybe I could permit my imagination to launch into overdrive and I could furnish you with an entire spectrum of facts pertaining to various invented s animals. Or, were I remotely serious about emulating that exemplary example of programming, I could get off my bum and do some serious research into all creatures great and small provided their names began with s (actually, thinking about it, I probably wouldn’t even need to get up because I already have the internet at my very fingertips).

Let’s pick option number none of those and discuss Sally, Siobhan and Smoo. Sally is a squirrel who is attempting to bury concentric circles of nuts because she actually believes Siobhan the sage hen when she tells her that doing so will bring about the arrival of the alien invasion. So grateful will they be towards Sally and they will grant her wish to become a majestic snowy owl. Smoo thinks they’re both mad, but he would given that he’s a stuffed sea lion.

R is for Really Rather Irritated

You should have probably noticed by now that I’m quite certainly British. So when it comes to expressing annoyance, this is pretty much the form it comes in. I do not ask a lot from my email. I’m not entirely sure what anyone can expect beyond being able to both send and receive messages. In a service that it provided for absolutely free, it is truly subpar. First I can’t load my inbox, then the messages refuse to send and to cap it all off the email decides to save itself as multiple copies of the same draft despite the fact I haven’t done anything to it.

This rant certainly has absolutely nothing to do with my lingering sense of embarrassment that I managed to fire off seven or eight identical emails to the same person (each and every time I was told that an error occurred and that I would have to retry. The horror upon delving into my sent folder was rather excruciating. Yes it wasn’t particularly important and I’m sure that my recipient totally understood but it was rather horrible and I don’t want to talk about it any more). Why can’t the internet work exactly as I desire in the manner I’ve come to expect over the years of almost unswerving service?

Clearly this whole technology fad isn’t paying off. We’ve come to the end of an increasingly rocky road. We have to go right back to the beginning, a welcome return to the days of stone tablets and carrier pigeons swooping around. I’m sure they’d make excellent company for lonely people. They seem to get on wonderfully well with owls in the land of Harry Potter. Magical owls who never need sat nav and fly at incredible speeds. Can we have some of those to take care of our urgent correspondence? It’s got to be the better alternative.

Q is for Quarantine

So people are doing some four star worrying about Ebola (you don’t even want to think about what they’d be like if the situation managed to get all the way up to five star, defcon one, proper crisis level). Clearly the media are having a bit of fun because it means that they’ve finally got something else to talk about beyond rising house prices, the broken state of this country and what reality show stars are up to (it’s been a while since I’ve read a paper. I could be getting the state of affairs in this country confused with how they’re reporting matters on the other side of the pond. I’m pretty sure that this is an indication that I watch too much American television. It’s terribly sad but I’m far too old to change my ways now).

But there’s an upside to the threat of infection. Don’t sit there looking at me with that expression of incredulity slapped across your relatively gormless face, it makes you look awfully common. If you’ve encountered even the merest whisper of a threat of contagion then you get to go into quarantine. I might be unemployed and therefore have absolutely nothing to do all day. However, I can only imagine quite how excited I’d be about not having to go into work because I might be going down with a serious case of plague.

You get to hole yourself away from the big bad world with books and cups of tea and marginal access to the internet so you can post status updates to reassure the world that you’re definitely probably not a stone’s throw away from death. You’re finally allowed to kick back and take a break from the horrifying onslaught of humanity that happens to be the regular nature of modern life (yes, I know it’s startlingly clear at this point that I don’t really know how quarantines work either. Sue me. Or don’t. Please).

P is for Planes Without Windows

As someone who very definitely enjoys flying this looks like a truly excellent idea. Yes, people who don’t enjoy the activity in the first place might become ever so slightly more uncomfortable and those with a genuine phobia of it may end up doing more than their fair share of increasingly panicked freaking out. On the other hand, welcome to the future people. If you somehow haven’t managed to stumble across this particular innovation in aeronautics (I can hardly imagine such a thing if I’m being truly honest. How can you not have as much time on your hands as I do to trawl the various nooks and crannies of the worldwide interweb for aggressively useless trivia?), allow me to enlighten you.

Having windows makes planes heavier. A way to make them lighter is to take the planes out. But a large proportion of the fun of taking to the skies in a metal tube with wings is being able to peer out and witness your voyage across the heavens. So taking the windows out would be the height of cruelty. It would be reducing passengers to the state of live cargo. I’m thoroughly shocked that Ryan Air hasn’t tried it yet. So the fix is to install massive screens and project footage from the outside of the plane.

So while this system will clearly be primed and ready for many a mishap (off the top of my head; ominous blue screen of death, accidental broadcast of hardcore pornography or, far more embarrassingly, the pilot’s practice video for his audition for X factor), when it works it will be wonderful. To be fair though, like an overexcited puppy, I still find flying incredibly thrilling. Maybe that’s just because I don’t get to do it very often. When I am an upper level management executive in charge of buttons (or something), I’m sure it will all be terribly passe and I’ll be more than ready for the screens to be installed to make life more interesting.

O is for Oliver the Fish Dog

Some canines live for the chase, the insatiable urge to hunt down others. For sport or for their tasty flesh, who can tell? Other pooches love to run and play, to chase their tails and attempt to catch frisbees in their mouths. Many a pup will be simply thrilled provided they have a ball to play with (those of you whose minds wandered into neutering territory, you should be ashamed of your thoroughly dirty bend of mind. It is not at all telling that I thought there might be some of you out there, I merely have to learn to anticipate your deviant notions so as to disallow you from corrupting the rest of the group. Yes I do).

But Oliver is different. Yes he sprints around, dashes after squirrels and fetches things when asked but those callings are a far cry away from his real reason for being. Oliver is a swimmer. Whether is a bout of breaststroke across the ocean, an afternoon spent doing a fabulous dolphin impression in a lake or a joyful doggy paddle in the Thames, when he’s in the water, Oliver couldn’t be happier. So it may have looked odd or even comical as Oliver swam along the river with his lead attached to his owner strolling along the bank but Oliver couldn’t give a damn as to what anyone else might think of him.

In the telepathic interview he and I conducted during our brief encounter, Oliver told me of his greatest ambition. He wants to cross the channel using nothing but his little doggy paws for propulsion. And to have a best selling brand of dog biscuits named after him. However, he is willing to admit that the latter goal is merely to impress the ladies. It’s the swimming based dream that consumes his soul and spurs him on to glory. Or he might think that he’s an otter, it’s hard to tell sometimes with these imaginary psychic connections.

N is for Nutrition

You’ve heard the news haven’t you? The momentous story of terrifying gravity in the world of things you can stuff into your face. You can now purchase a burger where the buns are replaced with fried chicken. Only in Korea. I can’t say right now that I was previously aware of any stereotypes regarding Korean cuisine. You know, apart from the whole consuming dogs thing but that’s rather old hat nowadays (no, I was not saying that they eat dogs in hats. Neither, as far as I know, do they eat dogs wearing hats. That would be ridiculous. Although it would be an excellent photo opportunity for a mildly maniacal designer of millinery). So it could be that they’re renowned for swapping out tried and tested constituent ingredients of celebrated dishes without me being any the wiser.

But the fact that this is a story worthy of note tells me that this perhaps isn’t quite par for the course. We’ve all tried an experimental burger in our time (and if you haven’t then you really are missing out. I think the best example that comes to mind was a chilli cheese burger, complete with onion rings, that I had in York. I think the deliciousness is probably still clogging my arteries). It’s hardly beyond understanding that fast food chains might want to tinker with it.

Maybe it was the lifelong goal of whatever madman dreamed this up, to reunite three different animals (because there always has to be bacon involved. How could it be a proper thing without bacon?) in one stackable heap of fried goodness. Or someone could be allergic to wheat (or dreamed up an intolerance. They’re a lot rarer than people would like to think. About one in four people reckons they’ve got one when the real figure is less than five per cent of the population. Science) and found a particularly chickeny way around it. This is the future people, dig in.