According to a recent email, my films on Vimeo have had over 1000 plays. Sadly it appears that the most puerile one, My Neighbours Cock (2008), has had 90% of those views while others have only had a couple. A great shame.
Autumn is here
The leaves leave
The nursery of branches aloft
Free at last
Falling gracefully to the earth
There to become part of history
Or swept and burnt
To become free again
Airbourne in spirit
Their fragrance warming
Their brothers forming
Mountains to walk through
Kicking skyward feebly
Fruit abundant falling
Feeding dying wasps
Crushed under foot
Or gathered by the wise
As nights grow darker
Embers glow brighter
Warming and scenting the air
Autumn is here!
What do you say when you don’t understand someone? “Pardon?”, “What?”, “Please can you repeat that?” or do you grunt non-committedly and hope your vocalisation is interpreted as the appropriate response?
Maybe you contort your face into a half smile, the kind of facial expression that could be interpreted as a smile but can equally be seen as a grimace of pity or sincerity. Maybe you half close your eyes to disguise your misunderstanding.
Does this happen when you communicate with non-native English speakers or those with particularly strong accents?
How about the written word? Does yous follow coherently the aspects of the authors graphical scribing or do your eyes skip over the page like a troupe of River Dancers?
Sometimes I’m like that. Sometimes it happens like this:
“mrmparhrn neramaeat pot noodle grmbn mrmmrph”
“mrmparhrn neramaeat pot noodle grmbn nermrmmrph”
At this point I do the half-smile nod-shake. Often this results in a confused look that I’m quick to detect so I quickly turn the situation round with
“Sorry no, can you say it again a bit slower”
This usually results in an exasperated sigh and either a slower version of “mrmparhrn neramaeat pot noodle grmbn nermrmmrph” or a slightly clear translation.
“My partner. Never eats hot poodle gravel nermrmmrph”
“Oh I see” I’ll say, part guessing what they’re saying or maybe just that the person talking to me is off their rocker. I’ll bluff and hope it goes away. They then say something like
“What do you think of that?”
At this point I’ll panic slightly, unsure of the correct convention to answer by. If I say something like “I totally agree” I might be agreeing to something abhorrent. If I say something like “I don’t agree” I might be coming out as some sort of heartless bastard. Usually I’ll go for the safe “I’m not sure” which makes me out as a non-committal coward but it’s often better that way. Of course there are times when I just admit that I didn’t understand in the first place.
“I’m sorry can you repeat what you said”
“My partner. Never eats hot poodle crumble mixers”
She doesn’t know what she’s missing out on.
Gawping is rampant in the UK. It’s everywhere. It’s like a disease. Gawping is something that needs to be stamped out before it gets out of control.
What is gawping?
Gawping, or gopping, comes from the verb to gawp; a gopper or gawper is someone that gawps. In my experience you find goppers or gawpers in most places north of the Watford Gap especially at weekends when they are most prolific. They can be found in town centres, supermarkets, out-of-town shopping centres, on the road, tourist spots, and areas of outstanding natural beauty as well as places where people gather such as festivals, fayres and shows.
Gawpers can be compared to when you’re happily tootling along a twisty bendy uppy downy country lane and a tractor pulls out in front of you and the next overtaking spot is 5 miles down the road…On the other side of a hill…With a growing queue of traffic behind you.
You can usually spot a gopper by their gait as they tend to shuffle zombie like aimlessly about the place. Gawpers are social animals too, they tend to gravitate in packs especially in areas where people are either in a rush or have a better idea of their destination. Sometimes goppers will be armed with small children, pushchairs or trolleys and will frequently congregate in places where there is little room for overtaking.
Genera of gopper
Consisting of both genders, all ethnicities and cultures, it has been reported in recent times that gawpers come in two distinct types, the gormless and the attitude. The gormless gopper is a harmless irritant. They will eventually become aware of their goppishness and correct their behaviour, and, in some cases, often apologising.
However in poorer areas of the UK and in parts of the UK where people tend to think of themselves as better than everyone else (typically Conservative heartlands), a new species has been spotted. Often accompanied by small children or tattooed gorillas, this type of gopper can become aggressive when approached. The aggressive gopper will often have a swagger about itself and can be heard growling the words “Wanker” or any similar vulgar term. They tend to have an air of self-importance and may express opinion about their “right to be there”.
This behaviour should be monitored and reported to authorities immediately as, if left unchecked, their type might become rife and spoil society for the rest of us. Wild Goppers have, in some instances, been identified with far right political movements that use skewed ideals of British values to further their foolishness and they often fail to understand or refuse to accept that polite gentlemanly or ladylike behaviour and courtesy is tantamount to British behaviour.
This is a moot topic. Some believe gawping has something to do with a decrease in self-awareness brought on by isolation and the rise of social media affecting how humans interact with each other. Others believe that it is a virus or some divine punishment while some learned professionals debate whether the rise in gawping has risen due to the proliferation of hand held electronic devices such as smart phones and tablet computers.
Indeed, a vast majority of gawpers (or goppers) have been sighted equipped with smart phones often leading to the discussion that the word “Smartphone” itself is actually a misnomer.
Moreover, pre-handheld technology era sightings of the gawper regularly occurred in bookshops and magazine stalls where the male could be found blocking the aisles whilst thumbing through the pages of a magazine. Of course, nobody is entirely sure. Some even argue that gawping is solely a male thing yet there are examples of female gawpers frequently reported.
Professor Knobsock, head of Gawping Studies at Madeup University said: “Studies have been conducted with gawping and attractive vistas for example. One might expect that gawping levels increase in the presence of something attractive or beautiful be it scenery, art or personage but this is not always the case. Frequently it has been shown that gawpers are an entirely separate genus of homo sapiens sapiens and that can only mean that it is a result of government experiments or that simply there is no hope left for humanity.
I see gawpers what should I do?
If you see a gopper (or gawper), you should take care to note which genus the gopper is. Harmless or common gawpers can be asked to move or gently nudged out of the way with a shopping trolley in the back of the heels. Wild and vulgar gawpers should be hastily overtaken at the earliest opportunity, preferably with as wide a berth as possible.
Being rude or impatient with gawpers can result in altercations, and it should be noted that being rude or impatient is unBritish. UnBritish behaviour around the Wild Gopper can result in the attraction of unwanted behaviour or result in even more unBritish behaviour from the Wild Gopper.
If your local area becomes overpopulated with gawpers then it is suggested that you relocate or try to establish some sort of educational programme in your local community. Failure to address the issue of gopping (or gawping) in your community may result in infection or thermos-nuclear eradication by authorities.
I am a gopper what should I do?
Be more considerate to your fellow pedestrians. Step aside. If someone wants to pass, don’t snarl or look gormless, politely say “I’m sorry”, step aside and wait until those behind you have gone. Then reflect on why you’re such an inconsiderate useless waste of space. Preferably somewhere out of the way of others. Then, when you have reflected upon this, realise your best place is at home, on the sofa in front of the TV or Facebook where your gopping behaviour has a lesser effect on society.
At the weekend the wife, an out-of-town friend and I nipped out to the lovely town of Royal Leamington Spa for a mooch around the Peace Festival.
The Leamington Spa Peace Festival, for those who don’t know, is an annual rain causing event held in the Pump Room Gardens and features all manner of new age nonsense such as yogurt weaving, kaftan liberation, tofu swallowing and vagina floating.
The food sold there is mostly vegetarian to vegan on the omnivore spectrum. Free range falafel chocolate bars, organic gravel soaps, crunchy compost on a stick and fair trade mong bean ice creams abound. That kind of thing.
As well as hearing local folk bands and pan pipes, it’s also a good opportunity to see the latest trends of the anathematic capitalist hippies are pushing onto today’s youth. For example, stove pipe hats seem to be entering a renaissance, gong showering is breaking into the wavy world of healing and knotted dyed rags are this year’s rad hair fashion (again).
With hipsters now denying their own existence in a Schrodingeresque fashion (you’re either a cool cat in a box or not, depending on who is observing you), goths morphing into the less threatening emo collective and neo-nerd-geeks becoming vogue thanks to Big Bang Theory the time is right for a new collective. One that is so trendy and beyond cool that it is off the spectrum entirely, but one whose emergence will be unobserved until it has spread to a point where it becomes commonplace.
Of course it’s not just teenagers and infantilised twenteenies trying to be trendy. While beards may no longer be the fashion and half-mast trousers and arse showing waistlines have gone the back into the wardrobe for several years, the smart Sunday shirt wearing, middle class middle age organic free range grass eating daddies of the world appear to be taking their midlife crisis to the high street. Quitting their well-paid, high stress jobs and opening cafés using the stylistic ideals of designer hipsters to influence their décor.
At least, that’s how it appears from my visit to the overly trendy café, Bread and Butter on Regent Street in Leamington Spa. In what appears to be a former butcher’s shop a couple of doors down from the fishmongers, Bread and Butter just oozes huge blobs of “I’ve been to that London and seen how the well to do spend their leisure time”. I was reluctant to go in but guests take precedence and so began an experience I am about to recount.
Stepping through the door, it is difficult to see what’s going on due to the low level lighting. Windows provide free light and white tiled walls help reflect it around the important areas mostly to the till area which is sat on a thick wooden counter.
Garden furniture, the crap type that rotund people will find difficult to sit on comfortably or safely, are the choice of the day, enhanced only by artistically and purposefully strewn autumnal leaves on the floor. These, it has been debated, appear to be swept up of an evening, sieved to remove dust and detritus before being replaced after the floor has been mopped, cleaned and dried. Wankery.
Menus come in the form of a sheet of A4, minimalistic in choice, as per instructions from Blumenthal and Ramsay, but in a way that is limiting to the consumer. Old favourites ruined by the addition of wankery. A bacon club sandwich with wanky bread and avocado. Wanky salad, served with wank. Poncey toasties with cheese and a selection of teas that would ordinarily cost you about 30p to make yourself in a mug sold at the exorbitant price of £2 for a mingy scale model cup.
I had the “slow roasted” pork bap which came garnished with stale musty tasting crackling. This was obviously a new definition of “slow roasted” as to me, slow roasting means that the meat is succulent and melt in the mouth. I’ve chewed shoes less tough. Supposedly reasonably priced at £6.70.
During my years of eating out and writing about my experiences in the food world I’ve always said that you can’t make a restaurant or café trendy and popular by charging a lot of money for a small portion of food. Sure, you’ll get some tossers who think “Hey! This is so trendy and cool I’m going to come here every day because £6 for a stale pork butty is the lifestyle I want to lead”. But these people, like the hipsters they gave birth to, are dying out.
Although a greasy spoon café has its place, I’m not calling for that, I’m calling for some balance. Wankery has had its day back in the noughties when we found it ironic and amusing. Wankery today is just a road to disaster and mockery. Just as sticking the words “Organic” and “Free range” before every item on your menu is passé so is bringing the outside in, tiny portions and over pricing. The people you think you’re appealing to have grown out of this kind of approach and, much in the same way as faux-Victoriana and retro tea rooms have faded from popularity, so will wankery in décor. If it isn’t naturally worthy of brown leaves being tastefully placed on the floor, then don’t do it.
As we left and made our way back to the car, I observed corduroy trouser, gingham shirt wearing, late thirty something middle class graphic designer dad with his stay at home on an allowance yummy mummy what lunches and writes crap fiction wife pushing their child-with-a-neo-trad-name-like-Edna in its free range organically padded for their own safety comfort five wheeler monster stroller making their way into the café. Exactly the kind of clientele the café is trying to attract.
Would I go again? No I wouldn’t.
It’s barbecue weather. Or so it seems.
During the winter, the air in Norton smells richly of burning coal, wood and melting plastic.
During the summer months, this is replaced with a heady miasma of charcoal, burnt meat and slurry, although recently this has been added to by the arrival of a fish and chip shop in the village and its associated pongs. The neighbours gather with their families and friends and burn meat to add a crunchy flavoursome crust. Then dine on said items accompanied by trendy salads and fine wines.
Meanwhile, in Gnomepants Cottage, the food remains cooked on the stove or in the oven as the once faithful barbecue was consigned to the council tip some time during the last great move.
Hosting garden parties and barbecues became a thing of the past once the realisation that standing over burning coals while sausages singed was no longer fun but a chore. The realisation that watching guests get tipsy and sated on cremated burgers and battling wasps while the chefs food got even more scorched and grew colder was no fun for the chef.
I was often the chef.
More often than not, the food would be cold, the guests would be leaving and I’d be left with a mountain of soggy salad even though I’d resolved not to make so much in the first place.
Resolution was that no further barbecues would be hosted and that they would solely be attended upon invitation.
This Sunday in Norton was a glorious day. Neighbours fired up their barbecues and began their annual ritual of eating calcined meat goods. The air became thick with smog but few invitations arrived. But no matter.
It was then that I realised, trend setter that I am, I had set an example amongst my friends. A fashion that no more would they hold barbecues and invite people while the hosts cooked and slaved over burning cinders only to dine themselves later on cold undercooked foodstuffs. This explains why we didn’t get any invites to barbecues from friends. That, and living out in the sticks, miles from friends and family.
So next time you’re enjoying the British summer, sitting in the garden inhaling burnt meat pollution, and have the urge to fire up the old barbecue, invite some chums and have a crap dinner while your friends enjoy the fruits of your labours, remember they didn’t invite you to theirs. Why? Because no fool wants to eat cold sausages and mountains of salad. They want their food cooked, hot and served to them by gracious hosts. They don’t have barbecues. Instead, they are sensible and have their dinner parties indoors.
Curiously I don’t get invites to them either….
Zoe pointed out that the 2015 Eurovision entry by Electro Velvet, Still in Love With You.
Sounds remarkably similar to Half Man Half Biscuit’s Restless Legs