Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Ghost Hunter

Do you believe in ghosts?

I don’t really but I have had rather a spooky encounter in the past that could have been a ghost (I’m still not 100% convinced but you could judge for yourself – read about it here).

Maybe there is something in it – maybe not. My feeling is that if ghosts really do exist then at some point we all must have seen them or at least felt their presence. The house I live in is over a hundred years old and I am certain that at least one person must have died in it during that time.

Yet I have never felt, seen or heard a ghost in my house – and neither has anybody else that I have known of. In fact, none of my friends, acquaintances or work colleagues have had an encounter with a soul from the afterlife either.

If ghosts really exist then this is a weird thing. I read an article surmising that for every living person today, there are 15 dead people, which means that, potentially, there are 105 billion ghosts wandering the earth. Whenever we walk the streets of our towns and cities there are 15 spooks also wandering the streets for each of us.

I sometimes watch weird videos on YouTube featuring all manner of creepiness, ranging from aliens, to lizard people, ghosts to demons, yet when I watch supposedly genuine images of ghosts caught on camera, I cannot help but chuckle because, to me at least, they like elaborate hoaxes. I’m pretty sure that your everyday psychic would disagree with me, suggesting that not only have these spirits allowed themselves to be caught on camera, they are also able to communicate with certain special people, like a psychic, a person who claims to be able to perceive a different wavelength of reality and as a result can talk to ghosts.

They are lying, dear reader. However, I don’t want to drift into telling you that all psychics are charlatans (deep down you know that already). What intrigues me about the videos you see on YouTube is that they are very well done, so well done in fact that you can barely see the cracks in some of them.

One of the best of these videos is from my adopted home city of Manchester. The video contains CCTV footage from a number of cameras scattered around an office in the city and the security guards on duty flicking between the cameras as spooky things were happening.

Here it is:



Now I loved watching this and, almost as much, liked reading the comments on it. What struck me is that it was recorded on the night of 1st November 2012, that is Hallowe’en night. It is very well done and could, I think, convince anyone who is even slightly gullible. Since then a Ghost Hunter has debunked the film as a hoax.

What’s more interesting is the term “Ghost Hunter” because until I read that article, I thought that a Ghost Hunter was a figment of the imagination of authors and writers who wrote scary fiction about ghosts.

I am amazed that there is a Ghost Hunter in Manchester – in fact there are possibly more.

People exist who actually go out to find ghosts or at least deal with situations where people think they are being haunted.

While I love this kind of spooky nonsense, I don’t think I would want to go out in search of them, just in case I actually discovered that spooks really exist after all.

But if you had a heart of steel and fear is not part of your DNA, how would you set about becoming a Ghost Hunter?

First of all, you probably need the equipment. And it is not cheap.

Here’s an example of what you would need:

An accelerometer to measure even tiny vibrations in objects.

Video recorders and cameras (obviously – though I am not convinced that ghosts can be photographed), including special infra-red equipment to detect weird stuff in the infra-red spectrum.

Sound recorders to detect abnormal sounds.

Spectrum analysers to detect energy out of the normal perceivable ranges.

Thermal cameras to detect changes in temperature.

Various other essential equipment such as X-ray and UV scanners.

Obviously, you also need to be totally laid back, methodical, patient, confident and, most importantly of all, not prone to squealing like a little girl should you ever see an actual ghost.

Of course, if you can talk to the ghosts when you find them, that might be a bonus but, since nobody can talk to ghosts, that is just a little wishful thinking.

Finally, you have to have an open mind and not be, like me, a totally cynical sceptic.

I know that I may be mocking what could potentially be a fulfilling, if not totally weird career path and for that I apologise. To be honest, if there are any genuine Ghost Hunters out there, please leave a comment and I will read it with an open mind.

In the meantime, if I feel that there is a ghost in my house, I might just hire these guys:



Over to you, dear reader:

Do you believe in ghosts?

Have you ever seen a ghost?

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Madness of Art


I read something on the internet last week and I didn’t initially know how to react. It is about a painting.

Here’s a summary of what I read:

The painting by Nua On, who made his debut In November 2013 following several years of development of his special painting style, begins as bold medium length strokes in many directions and has progressed to incorporate dabs of paint, using a sensuous colour palette of Winsor Violet, Lavender and Silver.

The painting was for sale at the princely sum of almost 500 American Dollars and with it, you get a Certificate of Authenticity together with a biography of the artist and a photograph.

Now when I read this, I thought the words were describing a budding new artist, trained to master his or her art and trying to make a living selling their so-called masterpiece to gullible pseudo-intellectuals. The painting itself was dreadful, a mishmash of daubs that would have had contemporary art critics, wetting themselves with glee and uttering nonsensical sentences to describe what was going through the artist’s head as the brush strokes were applied with words like:

Nua On demonstrates the inner conflict of the mind perfectly, fusing irony and metaphysics in a manner that represents the love affair of souls, destined to meet but finding themselves travelling apart in an ethereal medium of flame and liquid with only their thoughts of the emptiness of atomic division to hint at their ultimate purpose. As Socrates once said: Be as you wish to seem. I cannot elucidate these feelings more humbly.

I imagine that the naïve pseudo-intellectuals will rush to buy this mess at the bargain price offered and spend hours reading the inspirational story of the artist while gazing into his eyes on the photograph and struggling to contain their orgasmic urges.

But there is something I haven’t told you about this painting, dear reader.

It is special.

The artist looks like this:


I swear I am not making this up, 
Nua On is a fucking elephant!! 
I wonder whether the poor creature signed the back of the painting by dipping it’s enormous foot in a bucket of paint and slopping it onto the canvas.
I know that I have basically said that the painting is utter shit but, having been dragged around the Tate Modern in both Liverpool and London, I can safely say that it is actually better than some of the garbage hanging on the walls in those museums that was painted by human beings.
This is yet another example of how mad the art world has become. Everybody likes art but now what seems to have happened is that these nutcases are thinking even more outside the box in their quest to appear intelligent and cultured, praising pictures painted by other species and, presumably, trying to get into the heads of the giant wrinkly pachyderms that painted them.
To those pseudo-intellectual fuckwits, I have this to say.
IT’S AN ELEPHANT! 
IT’S A BLOODY ELEPHANT! 
THE POOR CREATURE WANTS TO USE HIS TRUNK FOR FEEDING HIMSELF, GIVING HIMSELF A SHOWER AND SNIFFING HIS OWN BALLS. 
HE DOES NOT WANT A CRUEL PERSON EXPLOITING HIM BY MAKING HIM HOLD A PAINTBRUSH SO THAT YOU CAN  PONTIFICATE ABOUT WHAT THE UNFORTUNATE ANIMAL WAS THINKING WHEN  HE WAS FORCED TO COVER A PIECE OF PAPER WITH PAINT. 
YOU ARE A BLOODY IDIOT!
The people behind this enterprise are really clever and I am amazed that there are pseudo-intellectuals actually thick enough to be conned into buying this shit.
There is always somebody out there trying to exploit stupidity and, to me, this is just another example.
It’s crazy. But it’s worse than that! Paintings by other creatures are available to buy.
I kid you not!
So what other these other animals paint?
I promise that I am not making this up. 
You can buy paintings by turtles, tortoises, snakes, skinks, cheetahs, tigers, jaguars, gorillas, orangutans, chimps, grasshoppers, worms, millipedes, sea lions, penguins, rhinos, hippos, dolphins and whales.
In the case of the smaller creatures that cannot hold a brush, they have to have their bodies or at least parts of their bodies, dipped in paint before making then slither or crawl along the canvas.



I would love to see what happens if a tiger suddenly objected to being forced to paint.

YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT???????????
It also makes me wonder about copyright. Surely a painting is owned by the artist, not the person that is forcing the poor creature to apply paint to canvas in such a humiliating way. Could Nua On challenge me if I were to reproduce his art on my blog? No doubt there is a lawyer out there who would try to take me court, saying that his elephant rights are being violated and exploited by a ruthless blogger.
The more I delve into the world of contemporary art, the more amazed I am about how absurd it is. They never cease to amaze me with new conceptual ideas for the pseudo-intellectual community to preach about.
The madness of art is exploding exponentially.
Still, at least if you are a philosopher, you can be happy in the knowledge that your wise words will be taken completely out of context by a moron trying by using them to describe the thoughts of an elephant as he splashed paint onto a big slice of paper.
I’m not a philosopher by any means but I am thinking about starting my own contemplative genre of that discipline, dedicating my own words to help pseudo-intellectuals to gush over artwork created by humans and animals alike.
Taking this a step further, I might actually consider being the agent for my cats, encouraging them to dabble in the world of modern art so that I can exploit pseudo-intellectuals and make myself - er sorry - my cats very rich.
That may not be such a good idea because either the cats would rip my hands off or, more likely, Mrs PM would beat me to a pulp.
So, Nua On, you are safe from the challenge of cat art for now. But I will write a few quotes for the pseudo-intellectuals to use to describe your work. 
I can’t wait to read your biography!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Guilty M'lud!


Whenever I return from a holiday or from a pastime that I enjoy, there is always a feeling of guilt deep down inside me that threatens to ruin the memories of the fun I have had.

It shouldn’t be this way, dear reader.

I blame politicians and control freaks
.
We need to stand up against this outrageous manipulation of our feelings as these people try to control us by pointing out the bad things in life.

Are you with me?

When I go on holiday it is like the steam valve on a pressure cooker has been released and the true me escapes into the world like dog let off a leash.

I eat too much, drink too much and sleep too much.

I spend my time either being lazy and relaxing or embracing new cultural experiences.

I make rude gestures at Mr Motivator, the corporate bastard who tries to dominate my life.

I ignore advice from governmental arseholes who think that they know what is best for me.

And when I set foot back in my own home, part of me feels guilty , even if I have only been away for seven days, because:

I have over-indulged on food that is going to make me fat and unhealthy.

I have drunk more beer than I should have with little regard for the consequences.

I have wasted part of the day because I went to bed at 1am, got up at 10am, having spent too much time sleeping and just lying in bed with a good book.

I have spent time on a sunbed reading or listening to music while watching the sea gently lap up onto a golden beach, when I could have (and in certain people’s eyes should have) been doing something productive.

All thoughts of work have been dispelled and I have dreamt about leaving and burning all of my bridges with Mr Motivator.

I have done exactly what I wanted.

The current guilt-laden culture of living really pisses me off. Why? Because ...

I am made to feel guilty because I have a full English breakfast on a Saturday morning. 

I am made to feel guilty because I choose to spend three hours binge-watching Sons of Anarchy instead of going outside to do something more active.

I am made to feel guilty because I want to go for a long walk at my own pace instead of killing myself to run a 10K race.

I am made to feel guilty because I leave work early to relax instead of choosing to stay behind for four hours listening to Mr Motivator’s bullshit.

I am made to feel guilty because I have an extra beer on a Friday night.

I am made to feel guilty because I sometimes want to some “me time”.

I am made to feel guilty for sleeping in at the weekend.

I am made to feel guilty not getting over-excited when I read the latest banal post on Facebook.

I am made to feel guilty because I choose to go to a rock concert instead of an opera.

I am made to feel guilty because I tell people why I do not like things.

I am made to feel guilty because I no longer send Christmas cards or Valentines cards. 

I am made to feel guilty for being happy.

I am made to feel guilty for swearing when I’m pissed off.

I am made to feel guilty for having fish and chips!

I am made to feel guilty about going on holiday.

I am made to feel guilty for not working hard enough by Mr Motivator and politicians who praise “hard-working families” without actually knowing how fucking hard people DO work.

I am made to feel guilty by refusing to give money to charities, even though I give money to other charities.

I am made to feel guilty for going out when the BBC hand over their entire Friday Night schedule to a charity telethon.

I am made to feel guilty for watching football. 

I am made to feel guilty about sneaking food into the cinema because the bastards try to rip me off with overpriced and oversized portions of crap.

I am made to feel guilty about having a big cream bun!

I am made to feel guilty for telling people “No”!

I am made to feel guilty for doing exactly what I want to do and not what other people want me to do to “fit in”.

I am made to feel guilty for playing video games at the age of 53.

I am made to feel guilty for spending my own money on things I want.

Well, dear reader, there are many reasons other things that people try to make me feel guilty about and to be brutally frank I’ve had enough!

I think I need to make a change and stick two fingers up to the establishment on certain occasion.

The fightback starts here!

I am NOT GUILTY M'lud!

Now PISS OFF and leave me alone!


Are you with me, dear reader?

Monday, 29 August 2016

Mr Squeamish


The other day, I sat down on my sofa with my evening meal and started watching a television programme that both Mrs PM and I really like. I started eating and watched the next scene – and almost retched.

I saw a man lying on an operating table with his chest cut open and a doctor probing the red mess inside.

“Oh for God’s sake!” I exclaimed covering my eyes. “I’m eating  my dinner!”

I kind of hoped that the doctor on the TV would turn to me and say Sorry Dave, we’ll move on to a more tasteful scene while you eat!”

Of course, he didn’t and I did my usual trick; I turned to Mrs PM and said “Tell me when it’s over.”

She just laughed, as she usually does and watched avidly, chomping on her food as if nothing odd was happening.

Deep down, I knew that the bloody scene on my television screen was not real and, in fact, was the product of the special effects department at the studio. Yet I couldn’t help myself. I waited until Mrs PM gave me the all clear.

There’s a deep irony here, dear reader, because a lot of the shows I like contain a lot of gore and blood and guts are frequently exposed. Yet each time I cringe inwardly and my stomach lurches because I simply cannot stand the sight of blood, real or otherwise.

I am squeamishness personified – I am Mr Squeamish.

I think if I were to injure myself I would pass out, not from shock, but from the sight of my own blood.

It’s embarrassing.

Many years ago, I had a blood test and, as the nurse, prepared my arm, she could tell that something was wrong.

“Are you okay?” she said.

“I’m a little squeamish,” I said.

“Most men are,” she said in a tone that was not meant to be mocking but somehow made me feel ashamed. I had to look away as she inserted the needle and drew out my lifeblood.

“There – it’s all over,” she said with a smile when she had finished. I felt like a child.

I’m not a big fan of needles, generally, and have similar experiences when I have to have a vaccination for trips abroad. One nurse actually told me off once because I was so tense that she was struggling to push the needle into my skin.

“Just relax,” she said, again as if I were a five year old. “The tenser you are, the longer this will take and the more it will hurt.”

It’s the same story at the dentist. My last major dental operation was to have a crown replaced and that experience was totally unpleasant, from the injection in my gum to the ripping out of the existing crown. I hate the sound of metal against metal or metal against enamel and I had to endure what seemed like an eternity as the dentist grinded his pliers against my crown in a desperate attempt to pull the thing off.

I also have a thing about eyes. My eyesight is terrible and many years ago I wanted to try contact lenses so that I could play football without being blind. The cost of a contact lens trial at the optician was £10 and I may as well have simply set fire to the note instead of handing over to the optician.

As soon as he went anywhere near to my eye, I flinched and pushed him away.

“Look,” he said in exasperation. “You have to let me do this.”

In the end, I turned as white as a ghost and felt extremely nauseous, so much so that he stopped immediately and offered me a glass of water.

“Are you going to be sick?” he asked, now looking concerned (probably more for the state of his consultancy room than for me).

“Maybe, “ I said trying desperately to hold onto the contents of my stomach.

Thankfully I survived and after five minutes I managed to pull myself together and walk out of the optician with his words ringing in my ears:

“You are too sensitive for contact lenses.”

Really he meant:

“You are too squeamish for contact lenses.”

Happily, I am not the most squeamish person I know. There is a guy at work who cringes at the very mention of the word “needle”. This weakness was exploited to maximum effect the other week. For some reason I mentioned the fact that the vaccination nurse had struggled to insert the needle in my arm because of the tense knotted muscles and he visibly looked shaken. I shall call him Mr Ultrasqueam.

“Just shut up,” he ordered.

“Why?” I asked.

“I pharrking HATE needles; they make me feel ill!” he exclaimed.

My desk buddies at work love this kind of stuff. When a member of the desk exposes a weakness, it is exploited with maximum prejudice and we all join in an attack, like sharks circling a drowning man in the sea.

Another desk buddy started laughing and told me in no uncertain terms that I was an utter wimp. He then went on to describe an operation that he had had in great detail involving needles, scalpels, a local anaesthetic and a very, very vulnerable part of the male anatomy.

He went into great detail including the mishaps. I won’t mention this in detail (in order to maintain the good taste element of my blog) but suffice it to say that Mr Ultrasqueam covered his ears with his hands and started shouting:

“For phark’s sake SHUT UP!”

There was blood in the water now and no mercy was shown. Other tales of needle mishaps and nasty operations were mentioned by other buddies and in the end the colour started draining from Mr Ultrasqueam’s face as he desperately implored us to shut up.

“I thought I was squeamish,” I said laughing, “but in my case I have to actually see the needle.”

“STOP MENTIONING PHARKING NEEDLES!” he screamed.

At this point we relented, in case he actually threw up. But it was hilarious.

A little later, when he had recovered, he said:

“If I EVER have to have even a minor operation, I will order them to give me a general anaesthetic so that I don’t have to be there when they start cutting and hacking.”

“You do know that they give you a local anaesthetic with a needle,” I said.

“STOP MENTIONING PHARRKING NEEDLES!” he shouted again.

I will remember this next time I am the victim of our wonderful banter.

In fact, I think I might start calling him "Needles"!

How about you, dear reader?

Are you as squeamish as Mr Squeamish (i.e. me)?

Are you as bad as Mr Ultrasqueam?

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Nailed



One of the many things I don’t understand about women is how they treat their fingernails and toenails. The thought of applying paint to my nails is as abhorrent to me as is the thought of plucking out all of the hairs in my eyebrows and then painting them back in.

It’s utter craziness.

Granted, as painful as plucking or waxing eyebrows is, applying a bright colourful load of goo to your nails seems painless by comparison.

Yet women still feel the need to do it.

So why am I talking about painting nails? Allow me to tell you.

Yesterday we made the short trip to the city of Chester to watch horse racing and gamble responsibly along with around 20,000 other people. This particular event was slightly different because it was Ladies Day. What that means I don’t know really, other than perhaps an attempt to entice members of the fairer sex to lose their money alongside their male chumps.

What I do know is that every single woman there made an extra special attempt to beautify themselves, spending more money on that than the entrance fee and amount they would lose on the horses combined.

There were eight of us, four men and four women. The men all wore jackets and ties and that was it. My preparation for the event was to dust off one of my two suits (the non-penguin one) and iron my white shirt. It took all of ten minutes in total and most of that was ironing the damned shirt.

Mrs PM on the other hand spent weeks preparing for this event. After two failed trips to buy a new dress, she finally managed to choose a superb, if not expensive one that made her look lovely. She also agonised over matching shoes and a new bag and eventually bought those as well. Last week she went looking for a fascinator. I didn’t even know what a fascinator was and I had to ask my good friend, Mr Google to assist.

Here’s an example of a fascinator:



Why they are called fascinators is beyond me.

While shopping for this, she spotted another dress that she preferred and bought that instead, returning the original dress a couple of days later. Worse, she couldn’t find a suitable fascinator and had to order one online. Worse still, she had to also return the bag and shoes she bought because they didn’t go with the new dress. And of course she had to hunt for replacements.

Had I been involved in all of this trauma, I think I might have torn all of my hair out in frustration but I made it quite clear from the offset that this was her problem and her problem alone and I would rather extract each hair on my body with a blowtorch than make numerous trips to women’s clothing shops waiting outside the changing rooms like a total muppet as I watched my will to live erode.


Thankfully, Mrs PM (and indeed all women as far as I can tell) are used to this crazy way of preparing for events and having spent most of her life in changing rooms trying on clothes that either don’t fit or she doesn’t like and her stamina is unbreakable.

The final touches for this event were painting her nails. Naively, I thought this meant buying a bottle of goo and painting it on her fingernails.

When she explained what was going to happen, I gaped like a lunatic.

“Two hours? TWO PHARKING HOURS to get your nails done?”  I said incredulously.

“Yes,” she declared. “They have to look perfect.”

Basically, she was going to pay money to a beautician to apply multiple layers of goo to her nails that would take two hours to complete and cost 55 English pounds.

“55 quid?” I gaped, amazed at how much more shocking that was. “Why don’t you set fire to the notes? It will be quicker and less of a waste of money.”

I was slapped for that one.

This traumatic experience is not as easy as it sounds. I’ve looked this up.

First you have to have your nails prepared which means cutting them, filing them and deciding what shape to have them. Surely the answer to that is “nail shaped”!

Next you have to remove your cuticles. I misread this at first and winced before I realised that women don’t have what I thought had to be removed. Apparently cuticles are dead skin at the base of your nails and you use a funny shaped stick to do the revolting deed.

At this point you can start painting. But this is not just a simple job; you have to apply a base layer and wait for it to dry for longer than it says on the tin. And then you have to apply two more thin layers, drying each of them under a UV lamp for two to three minutes – a pharking UV lamp!!

And that’s not all because after that, you have to apply yet another layer and zap that under a UV lamp for the same length of time.

Finally, this fiasco is completed by removing imperfections and applying a weird cuticle oil.



Mrs PM had this done to twenty nails – ten fingernails and ten toenails.

I never knew any of this and I am totally flabbergasted.

Of course, the worst thing is that this amazing artwork is only guaranteed to last two weeks when, presumably, keen women will want to return to the beautician to throw away another £55 and waste two more hours of their lives.

Mrs PM’s nails were and are wonderful (I have to say this, lest I have my cuticles removed with a rusty saw) and so did her three friends. In their case, the nails were decorated with patterns that must of (a) cost even more money and (b) taken much longer.


Of course, their nails were and are wonderful  too (I have to say this, lest I have the remaining parts of my anatomy removed with the same rusty saw).

In conclusion, I can only say two things.

First, I am no closer to understanding women.

Finally, I am so, so, so glad that I am a man.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

The Perfect Person


I recently saw a job advert and it made me laugh at its absurdity. The job wasn’t for anything special but reading the list of desirable performance and competency related requirements you would have thought that the position was for President of a major country. These weren’t requirements such as “Has experience of Microsoft Word” or “Has at least three years of experience managing a supermarket”.

I am talking about the personality and competency requirements or “What kind of a person are you?”

I read this list and started to score myself.

There were far more failures that successes and if I had been the interviewee I think I would have failed miserably had I been asked truthfully if I satisfied the competency requirements for the position. Furthermore, I think I would have had a huge cross through my name because I would have laughed my head off when asked the questions.

What these people are looking for is basically an alien/human hybrid – somebody like Mr Spock – although he would certainly fail when asked if he was a people person.


Worse, I don’t know anybody at all who would satisfy these requirements. I know for a fact that just about every person I have ever worked with wouldn’t.

And that’s not me being nasty to these people – they are human beings not machines. The have all the beauty and warmth that humanity has but also the deep failings.  Everybody is the same.

I suspect that the list of requirements was written by my old nemesis, Mr Motivator. Do you remember him?

He is the man who appears on the Apprentice claiming to be the best of the best of the best and who will give 250% to “get the job done".

He is the man who will work until stupid o’clock, fuelled solely by Monster Raving Looney strength coffee that is actually pure caffeine.

He is the man who will claim to be your best buddy and then brush you aside when the next opportunity to climb the corporate ladder appears.

He is the man who will buy a Porsche but never have time to drive it.

He is the man who will go on the most expensive holidays money can buy but spend the entire fortnight working and ignoring his long suffering family.

Yet there is a deep irony here, dear reader – because the truth is that not even Mr Motivator himself will pass all of these competencies. Yet he will almost certainly bullshit his way through the interview, claiming to be the best of the best of the best with excellence running through his bloodstream instead of blood.

The competency list is too long to reproduce here, dear reader, and I would hate to infringe any copyright laws. But I can give you a brief summary.

Basically they are looking for a robot with the interpersonal skills.

The person must actually thrive when the going gets tough and enjoy working every hour God sends without getting upset and, while working into those deep dark lonely hours in the night, will do so with a massive smile on his face, praising their boss at the same time and, when the smelly brown stuff hits the whirling cooling device will instantly be able to cope without making a single mistake.

The person will be your best friend and will make every effort to be your perfect temporary  spouse, because, don’t forget, you will be working so hard that you won’t have time to see your family.

The person will love their boss and the harder working the boss is the better because ultimately the person will strive to become just like their boss. 

The person will have a 200% grasp of all business practices and will be able to foresee any disasters and act before they occur. If, for some reason (perhaps being tired due to overwork) the person fails to see the looming disaster then he will be able to immediately react and fix it with a huge smile – even if it’s three o’clock in the morning and he has been working for eighteen hours fuelled only by a triple strength caffeine bomb.

The person will be so ambitious that his ultimate goal will be to rule the entire world.

The person will be the most benevolent human being in the world, caring for all the people he works with, even if they don’t meet his high standards.

And when it comes to conflict, the person will simply end a difference of opinion decisively, even if he is wrong.

The person will be totally creative and will redefine bullshit business terminology like “thinking outside the box” and “blue sky thinking”, perhaps even inventing a new term like “extra-terrestrial creativity” to be used from now on when trying to impress his so-called superiors.

The quality of the person’s decisions will be consistently brilliant. He will rarely be wrong and when he is, he will end the debate and move on.

The person will be the funniest man in the world. His jokes will be the best and the entire audience will spend most of their time laughing at him. Like this guy:



And that’s just for starters, dear reader. There’s lots more where that came from.

As I said, I would fail to get the job.

I didn’t want to stack shelves in the local supermarket anyway.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Biker




I have only ridden a motorbike once – I crashed it.

I was fifteen years old and I was in the back garden of a mate who was seventeen and had bought his first motorbike, a Honda 50.

I sat on it and twisted the throttle and it surged forward, uncontrollably, like a an angry mechanical horse. By the time my brain had realised what had happened, I had shot across the garden, narrowly missed a tree and crashed into a fence.

My speed was negligible in reality and the only thing hurt, apart from the fence, was my pride.

Since then, I have been very wary of motorbikes and have never been tempted to get one myself.

My dad had a motorbike and used to go to work on it every day. He loved it and never once came even close to having an accident. At the time, I was a small child and the thing looked huge to me. I was both fascinated and terrified by it. I used to watch as my dad rode down the street and disappeared around the corner. At night I could always tell when he was home thanks to the distinctive roar of the engine as it approached the house.

I know a few people who are motorbike enthusiasts and each one of them can turn their mood around by climbing onto their bikes and roaring off into the distance. Whenever the subject of riding comes up, their whole demeanour changes to one of youthful exuberance and I see the child within come to the surface.

They talk about their bikes as if they are people – in some cases, guys care more about their bikes than they do their wives and girlfriends. Their pride in their bikes is almost immeasurable.



I have never understood this, particularly when one or two have actually had accidents. Many years ago, a mate of mine came into work with a neck brace and a bruised face. He looked as if he had been in a fight.

I asked what had happened.

He told me that he was riding his bike at 70mph in the middle lane of the motorway when a car had hit him from behind. The driver of the car was a woman who had been to the pub at lunchtime and had a couple of drinks. She claimed that she didn’t see the bike. When she hit him, he was thrown off the bike and bounced into the first lane of the motorway before crashing into the hard shoulder. His bike followed him but thankfully didn’t hit him. More importantly, there were no vehicles in the first lane. If there had have been, he would have been killed.

“Oh my God,” I said. “Are you okay?”

“Yes - just a few bruises,” he said.

“I guess you will be selling your bike now and getting a car like the rest of us.”

“No way,” he said with a look of total bemusement. “I can’t wait to get back on my bike.”

Somebody else I work with had an accident on his bike and was, again, lucky to escape with a cracked rib and a few bruises. The thought of giving up his bike never once crossed his mind.

“I guess that’s the way my brain is wired,” he said.

I think I agree with that. My brain is wired in such a way that I will never ever buy or ride a motorbike. When I am driving on the motorway, these guys roar past me, their bikes tilting slightly and the same thought always crosses my mind: if you come off that thing you will be seriously hurt.

People have tried to explain the thrill of riding a bike in the country on a beautiful sunny day. The scenery is amazing and they become one with the bike as they push themselves to their limits. The speed of the bike, the wind, the curving roads and the scenery all combine to make the experience almost orgasmic for them. It switches something on in their brains, something that is almost primeval.

I don’t get it – I guess I never will.

Another mate has offered to take me out for a ride as a passenger, perched on the back of his bike.

“Don’t worry,” he says. “I’ll take it easy. The last thing I want to do is ride quickly just to scare you. I want to stay in one piece too you know.”

I think he’s hoping that he can find the same primeval toggle in my brain and switch it on.

He won’t – and so far I have politely refused.

I’ve been watching Sons of Anarchy, another great TV show from America about a motorcycle gang and I get the same sense of primeval enthusiasm from each of the members. These guys ride Harley Davidsons, a great looking and legendary bike.


While they might be great to look at, they are ferocious animals. When I see one, I feel like I am watching a tiger in a zoo; I can marvel in the beast’s beauty but I wouldn’t go anywhere near it.

In fact, recently, I was going for my usual lunchtime walk when I heard the roar of a motorbike engine behind me. It was a Harley Davidson being ridden by, what I initially thought was a member of the Sons of Anarchy. As he swept past, I saw his huge bike, and his leather riding gear. Covering the back of his jacket was a huge logo not too dissimilar to that of the Sons of Anarchy. The difference was the words.


His jacket said Sons of Hell.

I would have loved to have spoken to the guy and ask him about his bike, his club etc. but sadly he disappeared in a receding roar of noise.

It’s probably the closest I will ever get a motorbike club.

My brain just isn’t wired that way.