Monday, 29 September 2008



It's doing my freaking head in!

I can only seem to buy machines or gadgets that work properly for a maximum of 18 months, if that. Why is this? Laptops, i-pods, mobile phones; all invariably start malfunctioning and driving me to distraction.

Computers especially seem to have a habit of taking on the personality of a pre-menstrual woman. My laptop now takes at least 10 minutes to boot up properly and get going, and then will inexplicably freeze up as if its gone into an almighty huff. "NO, you're not using me! Get off! I'm not in the mood, and I'm not going to tell you what's wrong either. You have to read my mind!"

I have always suspected things are like this for a reason. There's this theory - a conspiracy theory if you like - that everything that is built these days is designed to fail and break down within a set period of time. It's called in-built obsolescence, or something like that. The theory basically says that things are built to either break down or become technologically and/or stylistically obsolete within a short period so that the consumer feels obliged to go out and buy a better replacement. It keeps the wheels of commerce in motion and keeps people shopping and borrowing money (for how long in these credit crunch times is anyone's guess).

Think about it. How many people still have the same computer they had 5 years ago, the same gaming console from 2 years ago, even the same mobile phone they had a year ago? I'd wager it isn't many. And what happens to all the shite we buy? We sling it out and it ends up in a council dump or landfill site being picked over by seagulls.

If I'm not careful this will end up as a rant about sustainability and finite resources, but I don't want to be a tree-hugger. The bark always snags my jumper.

Friday, 12 September 2008





I fucking hate hotels.

OK, let me qualify that statement: I hate hotels when I have to stay in them alone for work purposes, especially on a long-term basis. For four or five nights a week, I live in a glorified en-suite bedroom and my only conversation is with (mostly) surly hotel staff. When locally-based colleagues find out that I’m staying in some pretentiously-titled holiday camp, they make jealous noises and shake their heads. They obviously think I’m living in the lap of luxury, and while I might eat nice food and enjoy access to fabulous facilities, the truth is that I would rather not be here.

I’m not alone, that’s an undeniable fact, because I see the other poor sods every night, sat silent and alone at tables in the bar or restaurant with books or newspapers. None of them look happy. They glance around enviously at the old couple in the corner who laugh and joke about their recent trip to India, and then start stilted nervous conversations with nearby waiting staff about the weather or the price of goat’s cheese. Then there's the ambient music: We all hear the unspeakably awful Muzak that dribbles into the room like diarrhoea from hidden speakers. They're hidden for a reason, I'm sure. If they were not, they would be smashed into oblivion with anything that came to hand, including loaves of poncey olive bread. No-one should be subjected to the music of Lennon and McCartney played on pan pipes. It would be deemed inhumane to play it to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Possibly.

The worst bit about it is the separation. We’re all hurting inside because we have to be away from our loved ones; wives and young children who could be doing anything, from recreating the ceiling of the Sistine chapel in the lounge to fighting off sustained attacks from sexually-frustrated poultry. Imagination is the lonely man’s nightmare.

So why on Earth do we subject ourselves to this? We must be fucking idiots. Is there such a need to earn large amounts of the filthy lucre that we feel obliged to live out of a suitcase and watch television whilst lying on a bed in our pants. Of course, if we were at home, we would probably be watching television whilst lying on the sofa in our pants, but that isn’t the point. When we are at home we can move freely to other rooms in our pants. Doing the same in the hotel might get us evicted.

I never sleep well in these godforsaken places either. I am invariably given a room below what sounds like a herd of wildebeest in clogs or next to some nocturnal entity with impaired hearing who turns the TV up to high volume at the same time I turn mine off for the night.

After a night of broken sleep, I stumble into the shower and turn the tap to see if I get a freezing trickle or a boiling jet that knocks me off my feet, juggling tiny bottles of shower gel and shampoo all the while.

At breakfast, the over-worked waiting staff shove me in a dim corner with the other loners and forget that I exist for an hour or two before bringing me some cold toast and treacle-like coffee. I end up consoling myself in a full English breakfast, which on top of the comforting food and numbing alcohol of the previous evening makes for a rather large calorie surplus. I’m going to need some new trousers soon.


To a regular - OK, sporadic - rant at the injustices of the world.

Of course, I'm a white, middle class fat-arsed Westerner, but I like to have a good whinge now and again. Don't we all?

If you like it, fine. If you don't, fine.