How To… Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

If you’re going to keep buying such specialist machinery then you’ve absolutely got to stop throwing out the instruction manuals without reading them. I mean, seriously, did you really think you could just hop into the driving seat and right away be able to intuitively know which buttons to press? I’m sure you could confidently start jabbing away but that’s not as much of a guarantee as it is in the movies.

Or maybe you didn’t get the machine in the first place. It was too expensive, the shipping time was ludicrous and you can’t honestly say that you trusted the salesman’s objectively shifty expression. It had something to do with the fact that he was rubbing his hands with glee and muttering something or other about not being able to believe that someone would be so stupid as to buy this ridiculous contraption they’ve had cluttering up the storeroom for the past nine years.

That was why you decided to go distinctly home made. Which goes on to explain why you’ve come to me for guidance. On the other hand, what I’m not completely clear on is precisely why you’re so set on this firing yourself into the sun scheme of yours. Yes, I remember what I said last week, what does that have to do with anything?

Fine, I don’t think you’re a waste of space who has nothing in particular to contribute to the world. It would just be nice if sometimes you would ask me about what’s going on in my life before you start with your stories and whatnot. Or at least wait until I’ve had my tea. So, have we dispensed with the nonsense of the massive cannon? Fine, you’re a brilliant human being who I’m fortunate to know and will be utterly beside myself if I ever lost from my life. Happy now?

Set the controls for the heart of the sun – Pink Floyd


How To… Make the World Go Away

Yes, it’s another one of those ‘oh everything is terrible and I just can’t cope with it’ posts. But everything is really not very good and it’s getting me ever so slightly down. Also, my blog my rules. If you’re not down with the subject matter being presented then you’re at perfect liberty to just go away and do something else (oh, they have).

Seriously though, I’d love to know who out there is looking at the news and thinks things are going well. Then, I’d like a third party to explain those opinions to me (because if the original thinker tried to communicate their general smugness about current affairs then there’s a greater than average chance that I might punch them in the face. Look at Sir Michael Caine, a millionaire who says it would be better to be poor outside the EU than rich within it. He’s never going to be poor, he’s a very famous very wealthy individual. The callousness regarding the most vulnerable people in society is astonishing).

Journalists are being murdered by regimes who are keen to flaunt their progressive credentials. The climate is taking a nosedive and people just aren’t really doing that much about it. This country is splintering and disintegrating under the strain of an inadvisable decision that was clouded by lies and gets so very many people absolutely incensed.

So, for the weekend at the very least, it’s time to ostrich. Sticking one’s head in the sand, because you can, might not be the most responsible of actions but it can be an important decision when it comes to self care. Turn off the news, take a relaxing soak in the tub, eat an unhealthy quantity of ice cream. You do you. For a bit. And then get ready to switch yourself back on because if you’ve got the capacity to tune out then you’re one of the people who really ought to be tuning in because you can fight.

Make the world go away – Elvis Presley

How To… Holiday in Cambodia

*stage whisper* You’ve confused me and my bountiful wisdom for Google again, haven’t you? I mean, I’ll give it a go but I’d be lying if I told you that I definitely knew where Cambodia was without having to look it up. I mean, it’s definitely not fictional but that’s where my shaky certainties end. *I’ll start talking normally now*

Ah, good on you for thinking outside the box when it comes to potential holiday destinations. Anyone with a couple of weeks of leave and a carefree attitude when it comes to their credit limit can shlep off to the various corners of Europe or even somewhere more exotic like Thailand or Brazil. But Cambodia, now that’s an interesting notion.

If you don’t want to get bogged down by the devastating history of Vietnam (yes, I got all the way through the Ken Burns documentary and still failed to appreciate that Cambodia is right next door. Laos somehow made an impression on me but not its downstairs neighbour. I can only apologise) then Cambodia will definitely (still haven’t done any research) provide a less depressing alternative.

When you’re looking to holiday somewhere faintly far away and mysterious, it doesn’t entirely matter where you’re going, the steps to get there are going to be similar. One, try and determine just how difficult a history you’ll have to contend with as a tourist from wherever you are. Practice your accent in case you have to pretend to be from somewhere else entirely.

Then make sure you have all the correct travel documentation in hand: passport, visa, written proclamation that you definitely haven’t come to dig up old colonial claims, health insurance and trade treaty. Bring money too, so that you can inflate the old sense of karma by frittering away vast sums at the local market for tat you’ll never actually use. Definitely don’t investigate any sort of guidebook, they’re full of spoilers.

Holiday in Cambodia – The Dead Kennedys

How To… Think of Laura

Game on: Linney the actor lady (it might just be the case that the only thing I can remember seeing her in right now is Love Actually and a John Oliver parody with  a waxwork president. And yes, I would pay to see that film). Erm: Ashley the bastion of good old English home furnishings as exorbitant costs. And… Keunssberg (I did not have to look up how to spell that surname, you did. Anyway, she talks about politics and stuff).

Fine, that’s the sum total of the Lauras who spring to mind (plus I know someone who married a Laura but I’m not sure I’ve ever met the woman in question so you can understand why she wouldn’t be top of the list of Lauras what I know). And before you go thinking that we can bend the rules ever so slightly and extend our ponderings to people with the name Lauren you would be sorely mistaken.

Anyway, ever since I mentioned the name Laura, you probably already started thinking about one. From Palmer to Bush (which is definitely not a euphemism) there are innumerable Lauras who people the world so it stands to chance that you’ll be able to bring at least one to mind. And if you can’t, well, there’s always Google but you might take this as a gentle hint to try and expand your social circle.

It definitely wouldn’t be an odd string of behaviours to start roaming the streets until you come across a Laura who wouldn’t mind being befriended by you. You’ll have to think carefully of the best way to do so of course. Maybe she’s the type to be won over by chocolate or perhaps she’d be more up for a trip to the cinema. Try and find out as much as you can about her by thinking about good old Laura.

Think of Laura – Christopher Cross

How To… Find the Cost of Freedom

The great thing about my months off (I know this is all self-imposed but whatever) from writing about the headlines is that I can disengage from the news. The downside of that is that I disengage from the news. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up a bit (ha!) or maybe it’s because it’s never felt more pressing to me but the news seems to be more pressing than ever. A journalist has been brutally murdered and the most powerful country in the world is doing nothing about it.

From my severely limited knowledge, Saudi Arabia presents something of a tricky situation for the rest of the world. You know, because of the human rights abuses on the one hand and shedloads of cash for the purchasing of expensive weapons on the other. How could any democratic nation really be able to afford to speak up against them? After all, they’re finally letting women drive in a move that is in no way part public relations stunt (it’s worth remembering that the right thing done for the wrong reason still has the capacity to bring about harm).

Freedom, despite the name, isn’t necessarily free. The thing about freedom of speech that some of the higher ups don’t seem to appreciate is that it frees up the underlings to say bad things about them. Freedom of speech means that you can say certain things without being locked up for them but it still means that people are free to call you a dick because of your statements.

Being free means you can do whatever you want, within limits. But so is everyone else around you. It won’t necessarily always work in your favour but is probably still worth it, right? In this country, we like our freedoms: to drive, to marry or go out with whomever we want to, to work at whichever job agrees to pay us, to trigger a madcap legislative process that will leave us demonstrably poorer and more alone in the world than ever before. You know, maybe freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Find the cost of freedom – Crosby Stills and Nash

How To… Roll Over Beethoven

Erm, this is getting to be something of an unfortunate pattern with you. Is it… I’d understand if it was just a bit of an obsession with celebrities. But that’s not enough these days. You have to take things to new, unheard of, utterly ridiculous extents because you’re chasing that sweet social media high. I’d go so far as to call it pathetic if I wasn’t spouting words into the internet void for the attention of strangers.

Whatever your endgame happens to be, the very first thing you need to do is to locate the desiccated corpse of Ludwig. No, please don’t get the shovels out. Unless this strangest of activities of yours demands you make bodily contact with the bones of a deceased composer, I’m sure you can make your peace with the notion of sitting on the ground a scanty six feet above the final resting place of Beethoven.

So now we kind of need to get down to the meat of your little problem. You’ve managed to find the right cemetery and now you’ve got to get down to business. I really hope that it’s just a macabre theme for your latest board game night (got to pull the punters in somehow). Maybe you’ve had the idea for the tiniest, most niche AibBnB imaginable. Got to say though, you’ll almost definitely need planning permission for that one. You might have to put something or other in the mattresses if you want to ensure that people will be rolling about in their sleep.

There is one last option of course. But you wouldn’t do such a thing. I know how you’re lightly disturbed in the head or whatever but this would be quite the unfortunate look for you. You’ve been up to some stuff in your time but engaging in sexual congress directly on top of Beethoven? Bit much.

Roll over Beethoven – Chuck Berry

How To… Carry the Zero

It can be increasingly difficult in this world to really figure out what we owe each other (bear in mind that I’m coming off a birthday so an overwhelming sense of gratitude is as per). Even if you armed yourself with the biggest of all badass ledgers, jotted down every instance that could be considered a debt and continually tore out your hair to try and decide how you were going to pay people back.

That’s why people who don’t do anything for you are actually a blessing in disguise. Especially if you are regularly going out of your way for them. It means that the universe definitely ends up owing you. If you manage to hang onto all of your metaphorical receipts, you can hand them in at the end of your life in a slightly misguided attempt to claim some variety of compensation. Like a ghost car or whatever.

If you want to try and make yourself out as being a good person, you can surround yourself with the sorts of folk who are only too happy to accept your help without feeling too concerned about offering anything in return. Of course, should you go out of your way to do such a thing you will inevitably run the risk of taking on far too much, burning out and being left with absolutely no one to help you.

Then again, if friends and well wishers flocked to your side when you hit rock bottom, you’d kick off the vicious cycle again of racking up debts. Sure, your support system will get you back up on your feet and re-inject meaning into your empty days but how on earth will you repay what you owe? I mean, you’d have to destroy their existences just so you could be the one to put the pieces back together.

Carry the zero – Built to Spill