The Compostual Existentialist

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Surnames

For some time now I have been fascinated by the origins of surnames (or last names if you want to be all modern and right on). My own surname Gnomepants stems from the Greek Gnomos Pantalonkikos which is a trade that was popular in ancient Greece. People would flock to ancient Athens and Crete to visit the numerous Gnomos Pantalonkikos and inspect their handicrafts. I think Plato said “My Gods! The Gnomos Pantalonkikos in my street is the best!”. At one time one of my ancestors would have been a Gnomos Pantalonkikos and we all know how important they were to the development of civilisation.

Butcher

Butcher (n) – to be a butcher

Heaton-Harris (n) - Wanksplat

Heaton-Harris (n) old Swahili – Wanksplat

So likewise when I come across unusual names I like to look them up (on google & wikipedia) in an effort to locate their origins. Today, I was dealing with a person that goes by the name of Spink. Now Spink is an unusual name from my perspective. I don’t know you might know lots of Spinks, in which case it won’t be all that unusual to you. I know several people called Grobinglops which is quite common though some would argue that they don’t know anyone called Grobinglops and they might find the name Grobinglops unusual. But anyway….that’s by the by. So I look them up and I think “oooh I wonder what their ancestors must have done. So for example someone called Colin Computersalesman would obviously have descended from a prominent Barrel maker. Likewise David Butcher would have been descended from a butcher, Barry Bumscrape – a tramp and Simon Quantumphysicist would most likely have been a quantity surveyor. You get the idea don’t you. Maybe you have a occupational surname too….I know that the likes of Sean Bean would be descended from a bean (maybe he was planted and grew) and Gordon Honeycomb would more than likely have been related to some ancient piece of a bee hive or something.

You get what I’m on about. So I looked up Spink on Wikipedia and I learnt a new thing. So I thought I would share that with you. According to Wikipedia (and yes I know that contrary to popular belief Wikipedia is not 100% reliable) a spink is the formal name for human meat! So at one time this Spink person would have come from a family of food. I can imagine them sitting in the tribal village during the harsh winter months.

Mr Chieftan – We’re so cold. All the meat and food has been eaten. What shall we do?
Mr Advisor – Well why not have a reserve of meat in the village. Fresh meat. How about that family over there? They worked hard in the fields this summer so they’re all nice and muscley. No sinew or fat on them. We could eat them!
Mr Chieftan – Who the Spinks? Well yes! I don’t like the way they look at me anyway

And so it happened, the villagers were eaten and a name gained a meaning.

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People on the bus – Making the world a better place – Part two

So I’m driving home from work and I’m listening to the wireless and the Home service Radio 4.

People on the bus

Nobody talking

The programme being broadcast was about a newspaper editor from Zimbabwe and how he is adapting to life as an asylum seeker in the UK. One of the main differences, he pointed out, between Harare and the UK was how people didn’t seem to talk to each other on public transport.

Now surprisingly, this guy lives in Leeds which is a good deal away from London where I believe such practices as ignoring ones fellow passengers is common place. It kind of shocked me and my Northern mind set because I’d always thought of the south as being a bit….well you know….”insular” when it comes to talking to complete strangers. Indeed, I’m quite happy to sit there with my earphones in (sometimes without anything attached at the other end) to avoid the weirdo on the bus or being assailed by some elderly person wanting to tell me about their gout.

And that got me thinking.

Sometimes I don’t mind talking to complete strangers on the bus or in the pub or where ever. Sometimes it’s nice to get chatting about things. Why don’t we do it more often? What stops us? Fear of a stabbing? Fear of being converted into some mind numbed zombie from a Nigel Kneale story? Wasps?

I think the main reason for our inherent phobia of talking to people on public transport is fear of extreme views. Nobody likes to be trapped by someone spouting vitriolic hate or outlandish views. A case in point could be the time when Jim and I went to the Brewery Tap at the Cains Brewery in Liverpool.

We  got chatting to a seemingly jovial chap at the bar. He seemed ok, typical of the populace of the city. Friendly banter, John Lennon anecdotes, Billy Butleresque memories. However, the chat swiftly switched from idle scouse chit chatty banter to a strong antisemitic nationalist rant where one would have expected the gentleman to start waving his arm about a la Hitler at the Nuremberg Rally.

Then another case in point is the guy who once cornered me on the 78 and started talking about how the government controls the populace through the covert use of prescription medication.

Nutters.

So yeah, I can understand that people don’t really want to talk to each other on the bus for those reasons in illustration. But surely not everyone is like that. It seems people’s first reaction to someone talking to them on the bus or train or in the pub is one of suspicion and distrust.

This is my bus

This is my bus

Who is this weird person? How dare they talk to me? Are they going to knife me? Might they not try to  bum me? Or maybe stick me in a dark cellar where I will be forced to eat marmite and parsnips until the day I die?

I know I’m not likely to force anyone into eating parsnips or marmite. I don’t even have a cellar. I suppose that coupled with the fear of being attacked by marmite wielding weirdos comes the fear that they themselves would be labelled a weirdo. Fear, as they say in Dune, is the mind killer.

Then I thought, what is needed is a kind of badge system. Like say a green badge for “I’m happy to talk to anyone” and a red badge for “Fuck off weirdo”. So those with green badges can sit and yatter away to their hearts content and the red badge wearers can scowl and frown and listen to their music or whatever without interruption. It could even be a registered thing so that should you like talking to someone then you take down the number on the badge and look them up on the internet when you get home or what ever.

There could also be a voting system like say badge wearer #473083 is very interesting and like prawns so people who like to talk about prawns (there are a lot of people that do) can look out for #473083 on their travels. Furthermore, one might get talking to #23932 and find out they are one of those religious zealot types that want to turn everything into some discussion about Jesus or whatever. You know, like :-

Person #48909823 – “So do you like tea?”
Person #23932 – “I do. In fact in the book of Ba’at chapter 30 it says ‘And the lord didst partake in tea and verily there was much rejoicing’. I like tea almost as much as I like Jesus. Jesus can be your friend. Oh yes he can. Do you know Jesus? He is your friend. He is you know.”

So the person #48909823 could go and say person #23932 likes to turn everything you talk about into something about Jesus and then people who prefer to talk about Jesus all the time can talk happily to #23932 while those that don’t can talk to whoever else.

What do you think?

Of course such a scheme would require some more thinking out. But I reckon it would work well. Especially with the technology of the day.

This is, of course a giant leap to make in a society which we need to make happier and better. I suppose we can make a start by chatting, at least once a day, to a complete stranger. Just be nice. Don’t say anything controversial or boring. Just something brief, engaging and relevant to your situation. Say it with a smile rather than a frown. Or perhaps just say “Hey, Do you know Stegzy Gnomepants? He writes on the intarwebz”

Next time I will tell you more about how we can make the world a better place.

 


Holidays

While going through and updating old posts, I came across this one. I thought it apt seeing as I am off on my jollies soon.

Please enjoy this entry from 2008

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So there I am lapping up Council-by-Sea thinking to myself just how did the British seaside get into such an appalling state of grotesqueness. When it struck me. In the 70’s/80’s when package holidays to Magaluf and Torremolinos cost about ten shillings, those that previously lapped it up in the likes of Butlins and Pontins legged it to these sunnier climes.

Thus the rot started. Less people spending money at the seaside means less money for the attractions. Old people retire to these once bustling resorts, too old and poor to maintain the once grand 4 storey Victorian and Edwardian terraces, the area looks shabby. Because the place looks shabby nobody wants to go and eventually you end up with the likes of Llandudno or Rhos-On-Sea or New Brighton. A sad state of affairs.

So like I said, I’m musing on this and it struck me like a bag of wasps. How come, during this lull, nobody ever thought of rebranding the seaside? I mean like strolling down the promenade being assaulted with the sickly stench of fish and chips, doughnuts and last nights vomit is not everybody’s cup of tea really now is it? I mean yeah I wax lyrical about the joy one can experience by rolling up ones trousers to the knees, donning a knotted hankerchief on ones head while sitting in a red and white striped deckchair on Blackpool seafront in the piss cold rain. I know poncing about on the dodgems makes some people think they’re James Dean or some other teen icon. But really, those days have passed. What is needed is a careful bit of rebranding. Instead of Council-on-Sea, maybe there should be Gated-Community-Le-Mer. Instead of the Sun readers flocking in their hordes to resorts like Skegness and Scarborough, try and attract those nice Guardian readers instead. Something which should have been done during the lull in trade in the 80’s. The reinvention of the British Seaside.

Of course the wife said I was being daft because the concept of rebranding is only a recent thing. I disagreed though, saying that the reason resorts didn’t rebrand was purely because of those in control of the local council. Nobody, especially a British person, likes change. As local councils are full of old fuddyduddies the likelihood of change in such circumstances is virtually nil. Indeed some councils went through the good old “whoops what a shame the lido caught fire so now we have to pull it down and build luxury apartments on it” strategy but this too is self defeating, like who would want to live in a seaside town where there isn’t anything to do? Not me!

So in my new rebranded seaside gone are the old and in with the new.

The pier – totally refurbished, instead of tack and rock shops – designer boutiques

Tatty victorian terraces and guest houses – replaced by luxurious, totally serviced apartments with self contained gyms, spas and creches

Icecream – Icecream, as you know is fattening and not everybody can eat it. Instead, healthy frozen fruit juices, sorbets and fruit on a stick.

Amusement arcades – These tend to attract the wrong sort of people so they’ll be bulldozed. Of course the penny cascade things can stay as they’re harmless enough but the noisy modern arcade games can go. Instead of arcades, however, a change to small, members only casinos.

Fish and Chips – Everybody knows, fish and chips are really bad for you. They make you fat and can cause heart disease. Instead stylish culinary delights in the form of swanky but affordable seafood restuarants. A whole new dining experience. Similar to those you might see in resorts on the continent. Where passers-by have to wrestle with the waiters attempting to lure them in with promises of a good meal.

Kiss-Me-Quick hats – In this day and age of paedophiles, rapists and shifty men with greasy hair and sweat stained tshirts such things should not be encouraged. Instead Kiss me and you’ll receive an assault charge hats. Designed, of course, by Gucci or maybe even Gok Wan.

Donkey rides – Riding donkeys, as every decent person knows, is exploitative and cruel so such a recreation would not be available in Gated-Community-le-Mer. Besides which it is much healthier to walk places.

Y List Celebrities from yesteryear in end of pier shows – Sadly it comes to every performer that they will spend their remaining working life on an end of pier show before disappearing into obscurity. Ant and Dec are heading that way as is Simon Cowell. So why prolong their agony (and indeed the risk of being rediscovered) and banish such crap. Besides, the type of show that goes on at the end of the pier normally involves some blue humour, weak family jokes and some bloke pulling knotted hankies out of a hat. Bollocks. Nobody wants to see that anymore. So instead, Broadway shows; Profound political or philosophical plays; lively debates and maybe some nice music from whichever artist is trendy to have in ones collection these days.

Screaming kids – the seaside, as every parent knows, is not a safe place for children. What with sand allergies, the risk of jellyfish stings, sea monsters and even people taking pictures of their own family which might capture your kids image too trapping their soul forever in some 2 dimensional vortex like in Superman II or that episode of Sapphire and Steel. Indeed while freedom of expression is healthy for a child, the seaside is not the place for them. Far too many dangers. Instead the rotting chalets and beach huts can be converted into soundproof, paedophile safe, allergy free, hermetic containers for children. Simply place the child in and leave until such time as you need to return. Of course you could just not bring the little shit in the first place.

Old People – Old people don’t belong at the seaside. In Gated-Community-la-Mer, old people will be restricted to certain “oodyarememberwen” zones. Safe. Warm. Miles away.

Fairgrounds – Fairgrounds attract the unwashed. Bulldozing them (or accidentally on purpose setting them on fire (the fairgrounds that is, not the unwashed)) would solve this problem. In their place, delightful formal gardens to promenade around. Of course the gardens would have to cater for those with allergies so any flower within would, of course, be artificial.

See even with just a few paragraphs I have turned an atypical British Seaside resort into a place where YOU would want to go. Yes YOU because that is what market research has shown and as we all know nobody can argue with market research.

If I go….I’ll send you a postcard email.


Abridged version

Seasides -> Bulldoze them.


2 Comments

Letter to the BBC

Dear BBC,

I notice that you are increasing the regularity of the appearance of people who seem to be experts on everything and have opinions on everything which, for some reason, you think reflects society at large.

I would like to offer my services as a gobshite. I too have strong opinions on everything from David Cameron’s underwear to the cost of prawns in the Middle East during the Byzantium Empire. I am an expert on everything and nothing. I have several years experience of spouting utter crap to backup people’s clandestine agendas and I am happy to cast aspersions and morals to the wind without forethought for the wider consequences.

Hope this will cover everything. 

Lots of Love

Gnomepants


International I Haven’t Bred Day

family-mulitigenerationalSo mums have Mother’s Day, dads have Father’s Day and grandparents get both the gender specific card selling day AND Grandparent’s Day.

Hurrah!

Well done. You’ve bred. You’ve contributed to the gene pool. You’ve created another mouth to feed. Another housing and clothing need.

Congratulations for contributing to the overpopulation of the world.  Have a day of adoration. Have special cards, gifts and a shiny new hat.

Well done.

And what do the rest of us get eh?

Month-of-SundaysWhen I was younger I asked my parents “When is it Son’s Day?” to which they replied “Everyday is Son’s Day”. Imagine that. A month of Son Days….

Now I am older I see the injustice of it. Those that breed get recognition; those that don’t, don’t. Moreover, there are “FAMILY FUN DAYS”, “FAMILY SIZED PORTIONS”, “FAMILY RESTAURANTS” and “FAMILY TICKETS” and other such discounts. Those that don’t breed get to luxury of having to support the entitled discounts for those that do. Fair? Not very.

But what seems fair is that there should be a day where all those that haven’t bred receive recognition for their act of selflessness and their increased costs for sustaining those that do breed. A day where those that have bred send those that haven’t cards of thanks, gifts and specifically targeted benefits. Reader…I give you

INTERNATIONAL I HAVEN’T BRED DAY

Thanks and  recognition at long last.

I propose that this day should be celebrated annually on the last Sunday of  July. Which should give those that have bred plenty of time to think of gifts and remember to pop cards into the postbox for their friends that, as yet, have not spawned a new generation of people that will one day require a pension, a house, transport and food.


Eyes Sea Yew Ewe Seize Mi

I’m told by the media and by “those who know better” that we live in a surveillance society in the UK. There are eyes everywhere. Cameras hidden, cameras in plain view. Some owned by councils, others by private companies and individuals. But in all, there are eyes everywhere.

My brother used to tell me he had hidden cameras at my school and could see if I got into mischief.  This was 1977 though and more than likely a pile of fibs as tall as a giant beanstalk. However, as I was young and daft, I believed him and behaved. Mostly.

Anyway, these days CCTV cameras are everywhere. Beady unseen all seeing eyes bore into your very soul from a distance away in an unknown room in an unknown location.

But…who is watching you. Who is watching the watcher watching you? Who is watching the watcher watching the watcher watching you? Who knows? Do you? I don’t. How can you be so sure it is not I that uses my eye to watch you. You can’t. I’m not. But you can’t be sure. Can you?

This is why I propose a day. I’m not entirely sure what day….lets say a day in the future…This time next year. When, if enough people can be bothered (and I know a lot of people really can’t be arsed to do anything these days), at a proposed time, say midday, everyone whips out their camera phones, camcorders and web cam enabled devices and films the people around them.

The resulting footage could then be uploaded onto the internet and would hopefully show people watching other people watching other people. Bringing to people’s attention that they don’t know who is watching.  Oooh the irony! It’s enough to make me want to put on my easy iron shirt and go to Ironbridge in an iron bath.


Detectives

So I’ve already established there is a lack of Fictional Crime solving Dentists. Then there are the other vacancies in crime solving fiction such as:-

Farmers
Accountants
Taxidermists
Bin men
Ice cream men
Lorry drivers (though I suppose Highwayman counts)
Librarians
Zookeepers
Yogurt makers

Thing is I doubt anyone has noticed.