The Compostual Existentialist

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Get out of my way

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner child of the urban zoo or maybe it’s because I’m an impatient fucker but sometimes people that dawdle really get me wound up to the point of rudeness. It takes a lot for me to get wound up so much I actually say something. Classic example is when in a queue in a shop and the person holding up the line (traditionally an old woman or something) is just holding up the line for no practical purpose. Or when after waiting for ages to get served at the bar only for the bar person to answer the telephone and have to spend the next 20 minutes looking for the manageress before getting back to serve me (“Oh I’m sorry, pint of what was it?”)

One of the things I noticed about living in Barnsley (and I’ll probably upset a teaspoon of people with this) was how nobody seems to be in a rush to get anywhere. Ok it’s not like your stereotypical Jamaica where everyone is sat round watching the world go by and generally taking their time. But its not far off it. Sometimes this can be really annoying and detrimental to health.

I used to get half an hour for my lunch. This gave me ample time to nip up to Secret Asda for the cash point or to grab a sandwich and get back to work before I’d taken a huge chunk out of my lunch half hour. One day I made errors. The first being “Should I go into Asda buy myself a sandwich, pay for it on my debit card and then get £10 cash back?”. I’m not fond of paying for things under a fiver on my debit card cos the shop gets charged and they hike their prices up or you have to pay a supplemental charge. So instead I opted for the cash machine.

As I drove into the car park I observed a workman making his way to the cash point so I adjusted my parking destination appropriately and calculated accurately the time it would take me to walk from the car to the cash point (allowing for people coming out of the shop) and coincide with the man finishing with the cash machine. Only I must have miscalculated. I got there and the mucky bugger was still there pressing whatever buttons he could. 5 minutes elapsed and I felt my lunch half hour draining away like the fullers earth of time. He was quite a burly stocky man so I kept my mouth shut incase he lamped me one. But I could feel the words “Are you composing a fucking symphony with all them button presses?” forming on my lips and tongue.

Fortunately he moved away and I noticed on the screen the words “Transaction Cancelled”, either the machine was broke or he was just an airhead. I gave him daggers in the back just to make sure he realised I was not pleased with his time wasting but he must of had hard skin or been totally unaware of other people because he didn’t actually look at me or say “Sorry for being a slow fucker” or owt.

Anyway, I gets me money and scurry into the shop. Grab a sandwich (Wiltshire Ham, Vintage Cheddar and Pickle baguette) and made my way to the check out. I had eaten approximately 8 minutes into my lunch half hour. It was then that I espied the queue. Only one checkout was open (it was a small Asda, kind of like Tesco Local or Jacksons by Sainsbury’s or Spa or Circle K or whatever) and it was manned (or womanned) by the elderly shop assistant. The elderly shop assistant is old. That is why she is elderly. The elderly shop assistant takes about 20 seconds per item to scan them into the barcode reader. Something like this:-

*pick up item*
*look at item*
*look for barcode on item*
*Straighten out item*
*look at item over rim of spectacles*
*hold item up to light*
*squint at item*
*look for barcode scanner*
*look for barcode*
*check item again in light*
*Squint at item again*
*swipe barcode on item past scanner*
*check item on display*
*hold up item to light*
*squint at item a third time*
*poke item*
*place item down*
*pick up other item*

This ritual takes place for everything she puts through. Sometimes she’ll even pick things up she’s already scanned and compare the items raised up to the light and all squinty.

Anyway, she had a queue of 3 people and the three people in front must have been doing their monthly shop cos they had shed loads of stuff. I could feel myself getting more and more wound up. Fortunately the next cashier desk opened up but before I could swap queues 2 people nipped in in front of me. That was fine, I thought, because these people only had a couple of packets of biscuits and some milk between them. But no! How wrong could I be? The first person knew the cashier personally and stood gossiping for 2 minutes while labouring to put a carton of milk into a plastic carrier bag. She then asked for a packet of ciggies. Ciggies need to be got from behind the counter that the elderly shop assistant was on but the other shop assistant stepped down from her chair, walked over and picked up the ciggies. I half let out a sigh of relief when the first customer had gone. All the while I’m watching my original queue dwindle.

By this time I’m twitching, my lunch half hour was draining away to a measly lunch quarter of an hour. The second shop assistant swiped the biscuits and the second customer then asks for a “Lucky Dip”. A Lucky Dip is a method for the government to make a shit load of cash by getting the general public to part voluntarily with their hard earned cash for a string of 6 lottery numbers which, as the lottery numbers are preselected a month in advance, won’t come up as winners, but might just give a false impression of hope. The lottery machine is on the same cash desk as the elderly shop assistant who at that moment is scrutinising a packet of Tampax. So shop assistant number two steps down again. Walks over to elderly shop assistants till, does the lucky dip thing and walks back to her cash desk. The elderly shop assistant then presses her bell.

1st Shop Assistant: Ooh Beryl. What code for these ‘ere? (Holding up a bag of mystery fruit)
2nd Shop Assistant: Oooh I don’t know aren’t they under 14?
1st Shop Assistant: I don’t think so they won’t scan right
2nd Shop Assistant: They never scan right those you know. I’m sure they’re under 14.
1st Shop Assistant: Do you think they’re under 14? I thought they were under 14 but they just won’t scan. Do you have a code for them Beryl.

By this time fiery death rays are leaping from my eyes and cutting down anyone who will look at me with fatal consequences. The man by the apples….dead. The kids pinching chocolate from the gondola end….dead and steaming. The innocent man passing the front of the shop window…..dead. The man in front of me….slightly scarred.

Eventually (probably 20 seconds later though it felt like 20 minutes) Beryl returns to the cashier desk.

2nd Shop Assistant: That’ll be £3.24
2nd customer: Can I have 20 Berkley Mentol too please?
stegzy: Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

So Beryl gets down again and gets the cigs from the shelf. Meanwhile I am burning a hole into the back of 2nd customers skull and mentally projecting images of me stamping on his fucking fat face leaving the word “Clarks” impressed across his nose.

Eventually I get served. I part with my cash and have my change counted out to me (twice because “Beryl”, I discovered, has a problem counting). I eventually enjoyed my Lunch 10 minutes.

This whole episode then made me think. Are people actually aware of when people around them are in a rush?


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The Old Grey Stegzy Gnomepants Test

So following the untimely passing of one of my fellow students, I have been digging around my old archive to see what stuff I have from the time.

One of my favourite all time things was when I directed and produced a “Live” broadcast as part of my Media Production Degree. The first we heard of it was when our lecturer, Alf, told us the previous day we were to be filming and mixing a “Live” performance of the Music students. I had always wanted to produce a music video and my this was my chance. However, before you judge, there are some things you should know:-

  • The whole thing was unprepared.
  • The musicians had never performed with each other as a group before.
  • The musicians had only 3 days or so to practice.
  • The sound mixing came from the Sound Technology students who also didn’t appear to be prepared (as you will hear from the video)
  • I started to get into the swing of it by the third set.

Anyway, as you will see, there are some talented people out there. I just wish I knew who they all were! If you know, feel free to post a link to the video on your Facebook.

Bands from stegzy gnomepants on Vimeo.


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There and back again and there and back again Part 1

Picture if you will a pub in Liverpool about 4 weeks ago.

**wibbly visual effect used to signify reflection on past events**

 

Stegzy:- You’re on holiday next month. I’m on holiday next month…let’s go camping!

Nick:- Yes that sounds like fun.

Stegzy:- Look I’ve put it in my shiny new HTC FLYER on the CALENDAR. AUGUST. 20th

Nick:- Ace! Can’t wait.

**Cue calendar flipping sequence signifying moving forward through time**

So I’m set. Set for a walking and camping trip to North Wales. At the end of August.

Capture1

Blissful….

Capture2

However……

 

**Calendar flipping sequence ceases 24th July**

Stegzy:- Bloody hell. Nick’s a bit keen. He’s been texting me all week asking about what we will be doing during our holiday in August.

Zoefruitcake:- Maybe he is excited.

Stegzy:- Hmm…this text is worrying. It seems to hint that there may be an issue with the month…..

Capture3Capture4

Oh cocking hell!

So I called him. Was he winding me up? No. He wasn’t. While talking I made up a list of items to chuck into the car for an impromptu camping trip. Problem was…I didn’t have a tent anymore. Well I did. Just it was in Yorkshire. With the wife. Fortunately everything else, the table, the chair, the stoves, pans and ancillary camping equipment were safely in a pre-packed crate in Zoe’s Craft Hut. The tent….that was in Yorkshire.

As you can see from the screenshots, this was about half past six on the Sunday evening. A call to Clair received the thumbs up for a tent collection while Nick booked the camp site and prepared for a late night visit from me.

I sped up the M69 and M1 to Yorkshire and collected the tent then after a quick bite to eat and a catch-up, I sped along the M62 to Crosby near Liverpool arriving at an ungodly hour of 1am.


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Goodbye Santor

This afternoon I packed the last few items into the van and waved goodbye to Santor aka Gnomepants Manor.

It was sad to see it retreating into the distance through the wing mirrors and slightly weird to watch familiar sights of Brierley pass by for the last time. Weird because when I moved there, I felt unwelcome, lonely and out of place. As I left, I felt sad because there was so much I could have done and yet so much that I could not have done had I stayed. At least I stand to get £13,000 as my share of the sale. Clair invited me in to say goodbye to the cats but as I was with my dad I didn’t want to keep him waiting and I didn’t want to feel sad that I probably won’t see Yoda or Mrs Mop again.

So as I left Yorkshire, for possibly the last time, and into the North West the clouds burst and in some twisted bit of serendipity, it pissed it down with rain.

So much has happened since 2006, so much is still to happen. I just hope that 2010 gets better for all of us.


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Landscape

If I fell through a hole in time and travelled back 45 years. If I then looked out of my bedroom window across the field behind the lane with no name and beyond the field behind the field behind the lane with no name, not only would I have upset Mrs Edson’s daughter, but I would have seen the winch wheel of a pit stack.

Long but because I am nice I posted it here as well as on blogspot


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>Landscape

>

If I fell through a hole in time and travelled back 25 years. If I then looked out of my bedroom window across the field behind the lane with no name and beyond the field behind the field behind the lane with no name, not only would I have upset Mrs Edson’s daughter, but I would have seen the winch wheel of a pit stack.

As pinched from BAPIPHad I then gone downstairs and beyond the rear door of San Tor, tootled down the lane with no name and onto the corner of Church Street and Common Road I would probably have been able to see one of the largest collieries in the UK stretching out in the distance before me. There would have been power stations, winch houses, the constant drone of colliery activity and the like.

I would probably have seen a constant pedestrian traffic of orange overalls walking down the hill into Grimethorpe wherein those wearing the overalls would probably have stepped into a cage and travelled deep below the ground for a day of mining. In fact, had I gone to any number of places around the neighbourhood I would have seen similar sights of industrial activity. Trains and lorries laden with coal bound for the steel mills and power stations that peppered the vista.

People at a market I would have seen people milling about; doing their daily business with smiles upon their faces asking after neighbours and discussing Morecambe and Wise or some such. These same people would have been unaware of the devastation they would face over the next fifteen years or so. When their livelihoods were taken away from them by a government leader bent on revenge for the winter of discontent. A way to quell the voices of discontent and the socialism which threatened their brave new world.

Spin forward through time once more and where there was employment, there is but social decay in the shape of unemployment, bigotry and drug use. Houses that once were grand now look tatty and unkempt. Parades of shops that once boasted green grocers, fishmongers and butchers now stand boarded up and empty or populated by takeaways and offices of antidrug and employment building social enterprise groups. The contrast is vast.

2863774968_178f84e4be Travel to Liverpool 30 years ago and similar sights would have been seen, instead of coal miners you would have seen dock workers. Sheffield and Doncaster, steel workers. Newcastle, ship builders. The Midlands, motor industry.  An industrial past so memorable yet so long gone.  All gone. Thanks to the brave new world instigated by the Thatcher and perpetuated by the Blair governments.

Sure, industry would have struggled to compete with low cost foreign imports. It was a natural shift from production to service industries. However the speed in which the transition took place was so swift that few were prepared for the following years. This wasn’t 100 years ago, this was twenty to thirty years ago. Heck, even during my education traditional jobs such as butcher, baker, factory worker and the like were still discussed. Now, most of these jobs don’t exist.

Who to blame? The governments? They were the ones that set this passage in motion. The people? Reluctant to pay more for goods produced on home ground they would prefer cheaper imports to paying to maintain other peoples lives. Nobody? A natural transition that occurred as predicted by Marx? I can only speculate.

But what is clear is that since the industry was taken away very little has been put in place since. Sure Liverpool’s main industry now is education and tourism. Sheffield’s it could be argued is sport and culture. But places like the Midlands and Barnsley remain places difficult to find work in. Even the brief respite of call centres which have since been outsourced overseas only provided negligible difference.

As the population continues to grow unsustainably. The economy will continue to falter. Socialist ideals such as national health care and education  now too expensive at current prices will require more and more funding. The future is bleak, the future is most certainly not orange. Taxes need to increase. With increases in taxes, salaries will need to be increased. As salaries increase so will the drain on GDP. Inflation increases, held off artificially by government backing supermarkets and industry will surge and rocket, things will be bad.

Let’s think about a pie. Mmmmm pie. It is a nice pie. We all want a slice of this pie but some want bigger slices than others because they think they deserve a bigger slice. So to cater for the demand on pie we bake a bigger pie. But then people say that they want a piece of the pie that is comparative to the slice they think they deserve. The circle continues.

But let us go back to South Yorkshire and look around.

Think of the seaside town that is no longer popular with tourists. The once grand and splendid arcades now shuttered or populated by pound shops. The streets of dilapidated guest and boarding houses now multi occupancy dwellings inhabited by ne’er-do-wells, the down at heel and misguided immigrants. Pensioners wander the streets or sit outside once proud homes dreaming of times past when the new housing estate was once the local lido. Think of how this once popular place was alive with people happy and at peace now degraded, it’s heart ripped out by cheap foreign holidays. Then consider this seaside town land locked. You might now be imagining somewhere similar to Grimethorpe, Goldsthorpe, Mexborough and the like. Once proud pit villages populated by hard working proud people with facilities to cater for them provided by the pit owners.

Take the pit away and these places become that landlocked seaside town. The streets once burgeoning with shops now boast 1001 curries, kebabs and tanning salons. The schools once constructed in an age when architects considered the art of the building design instead of functionality now empty, burnt out or demolished. The churches whose congregations once boasted over 200 parishioners per service, now guarded by razor wire and awful looking grills to protect the already damaged stained glass windows. The pit itself, long cleared away, the ancillary buildings few of which remain are but depots for reclamation yards or meeting places for drug addicts and the destitute.

This is the brave new post war post industrial England. Sure there are sleepy villages, vibrant cities and bustling market towns in well to do areas, but for every Harrogate, there are many more Grimethorpes. These deprived areas like a rot will take a lot more than money, social schemes and the like to treat. With the decline goes pride, with pride lost there is little but apathy, with apathy comes decay. The wealthy international companies know this and they feast on the decay with their burger shops, their big name brand supermarkets, their "you must buy this because you need it" attitudes. Sucking the communities dry of the wealth which is then sent south or overseas and not reinvested in the local communities. We really only have ourselves to blame.


Cross posted to my Livejournal.