Wednesday, 29 July 2015

De Grief

I subscribed to The Debrief's emails on the recommendation of journalists I respect(ed). I thought they had some pretty good articles on sex and interior design for cramped spaces (my primary interests in life, natch - and not dissimilar in theme), and still do, but the language of their email newsletters frequently have me hovering over the 'unsubscribe' button. Or whatever hip synonym they'd replace 'unsubscribe' with. "Drop the bass on us" or whatever the kids are saying these days.

Let's consider this little screenshot for a moment.

They like to give rhyming subheadings to their promoted features, 'raving, 'craving, and 'saving'. In this case, it denotes a crap t-shirt they advise is worth splurging six quid on.

"...you're (probably) getting paid this week which is excellent news and we also know that the first thing you'll do is blow it all on clothes."

I like the bracketed 'probably' there, a nod to all the folk on zero hours contracts.

I took umbrage at the assumption of what I spend my money on. Clothes? I consider it excessive if I've spend a tenner in charity shops in one month. I could be more likely to spunk my moolah on Nutella, male escorts and snuff, for all you know, dear Be-brief.

Next point. 'Friends forever' is adorable, yes. If you're a five-year-old girl splitting a heart-shaped locket necklace with a bestie (see, I know the lingo) or a grey teddy bear a person who has no idea what to buy for their friend's birthday sees in a card shop. Not for adorning the breasts of a grown woman. Who is the message aimed at? Must she have the friend with her at all time? What if the friend fucks off at 3am one night to buy chips leaving the t-shirt wearing woman in the gutter, do all the strangers peering at her rejoice at being reunited with their long lost friend? More likely they'll bitterly recall a useless teddy bear they were given when what they really would've preferred was bottle of rum.

I can't drink a shit drawing, can I.

Moving on.

"...paired with high-waisted jeans and trainers it'll look totally fetch."

BUY MORE CLOTHES FROM ZARA DAMMIT.

It's time for some cold hard facts, fashion fans.

Ain't NOBODY ever look good in no high-waisted jeans. IMHO, they make a lot of girls look pregnant when they're not, and make their mons pubis (pubises? pubi? Fuck it I don't know or care) look like skyscrapers.

Maybe I should just accept that this stuff isn't aimed at me. After all, they made it quite clear the age range they assume their readership belongs in, by saying elsewhere in the email "As if our twenties weren't difficult enough". AGEIST TWATS.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A funny thing happened on the way to A&E

Actually that’s BS; all the funny stuff happened at A&E. That line was just to hook you in, dear fishy reader. Actually getting there was quite the opposite of funny.

So yesterday morning I walked from Hove to Hanover to see my GP about a lumpy bruise on my face from faceplanting on a patio at a house party ten days ago. I made the mistake of telling folk it was because of the punch. People thought I had received a punch. No no, I scooped up the punch and put it in a beaker and then put it in my face. Which also can result in pain, as it turns out.

Hmm, I seem to like using this movie still on this blog.

The doc referred me to Hove Polyclinic. I put in a few hours at work, then walked all the way there. 2.8 miles.

They told me they didn’t have the equipment to do facial x-rays there, and told me to instead go to A&E. Which is all the way over here:

I walked back home. Legs now jelly, sciatic nerve breakdancing, I bought a restorative milkshake and got the No. 27 to Royal Sussex. For those of you who know me and buses, this is kind of a big deal. For those of you that don’t, it’s mostly the reluctance to exchange what could buy me a four pack of beer for the privilege of travelling across the city.

Got to A&E, got my book out, and prepared for a long wait.

Then Brighton’s answer to Howard Marks sits next to me. And gives me his life story. For two hours.

Never once pausing to ask me my name, what I was in for or who I work for, I learn everything from his siphoning petrol in the dead of the night to ways of doubling the worth of travellers cheques, to scamming for Council for its houses. I hear how he sold gange to some African president. He left the country with £350 in his pocket and a beat up old van, returning after nine years of travelling from Torremolinos to Africa to Cyprus to Prague to Vienna etc etc ad infinitum, returning with £25,000 and a Merc.

At the beginning of this discourse I was leaning away and tearing the fuck out of the skin around my fingernails, anxiously waiting for my name to be called. By the end I was laughing and wanting to high five the bugger.

Every time Dean got called in to a consulting room I was waiting for somebody to take his place. I mean, it was interesting and all but in the third hour of waiting it was getting hard to focus, and I just wanted to read. I took my notebook out and scrawled illegibly in red pen, which is probably why nobody took the empty chair next to me. Who wants to sit next to the hunched over bleached bruised mess writing in JTHM font? I wrote about some of the things he said, in code, lest he return and spot them and stab me for spilling his secrets.

Source

Then I returned to my book. It was open on a page featuring a character also named Dean. Was there some kind of Kaiser Söze situation going on here?

Before I decided that he was kind of a dude and he was talking about cars made of hemp, I got to thinking, “Why me?” I always attract the diamond geezers, the drug lords with the track marks down the arms, the scarecrows. One time I was escaping my book group with the excuse of a cigarette and I had a wild-eyed Boris Johnson-on-crack type told me all about a witch who put a curse on Brighton meaning that nobody who comes here to find success achieves it until they leave the place. The father celebrating his son getting out of prison, them both topping up their Guinness with vodka hidden under the table and telling me all about doing time. I don’t know what it is that attracts them, perhaps they sense a loner and a nomad or it’s the scuffed DMs or other things marking me out as an oddball. They never pick up on the introvert aura though, and yabber on regardless.

In a lull between how to fix central heating in France and the use of marijuana to relieve chronic pain, Dean-o actually asked what I was reading.

”Best British Short Stories 2012. I like to write, ya see, and when I’m not writing I’m reading them. Research.” He gave me some recommendations and then got called in again. I looked at the words on the pages without taking them in. Peeped at my scrambled words in my notebook. Dean is the one who should be writing stories, I thought.

If I wasn’t a bird, I’d probably go to bars all the time and just hang around waiting to hear the life stories of folk like Dean, and then crib off them. Here’s to Dean.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Pills, Thrills, and Ball Aches

So I tried my surgery’s revamped repeat prescription ordering page, and if you’ve read my NHS admin posts before you can probably guess where this is going. Used the password and username I’d carefully written down (yeah I know, get off my perpetually aching back), and couldn’t get in. Phoned the surgery. Listened to the options. Which included “We’re sorry but we cannot take prescription requests over the phone.”

Got through. Explained I needed to reset my password. (Nothing had come through to any of the email addresses I’d tried).

“Oh sorry, we can’t do that over the phone, you’ll have to come in to the surgery with photo ID.”

Will this do

Isn’t the whole online process to avoid wasting clerical staff's and GPs' time? And to help customers who are, y’know, perhaps in pain and wish to avoid unnecessary trips? How about the working professionals who are too busy doing their jobs to pay for their bleedin’ medication to prance off to surgeries all the time?

“Why can’t you simply ask me some security questions?”

“Um, sorry, it doesn’t work like that.”

“…”

“You can email us though.”

“Ah brilliant thanks!”

Email. Wow. You're not telling me the NHS have embraced this modern wonder at last!

I've passed this on to 12 of my friends!

So I emailed requesting a password reset.

Received a reply apologising for not being clear on the phone. They meant to say I could email with my repeat prescription request.

Why not say this in the options when you call the surgery? Why not have the email address on the fucking website? What’s the point of having a fancy repeat prescriptions page when people could just email?!

How much of the taxpayer’s money (I know, I know, sorry again) goes into faulty systems like these? How many man hours (or ‘person’ hours, before I get lynched) doing the data input for it (I saw the job advertised. I know how much was paid. Almost went for it myself).

Private sector sysadmin PC-COMPUTAH PEOPLE with your nimble fingers and your memes and your deep dreams and your unpenetrable XKCD comics and your doges and SEO, please consider using your powers to sort out the admin failures of the public sector. Then there will be less rage in the world and less time wasted reading angry blog posts like this one. I thank you.

Monday, 6 July 2015

The Brighton Secret

Transcript of a conversation with a male friend seeking a baby-momma last week.

Me: That’s what people don’t understand about Brighton. It’s all full of desperate straight girls batting below their average because it’s the best they can do.

Friend: ?

Me: Everyone just assumes it’s full of gay men and lesbians. It’s not. There’s thousands of ladies looking their best because there’s too much competition for too little.

I feel pretty good when I leave the house but I pass so many hotties just on the way to work even that my confidence is 0% by the time I get to the entrance.

Hey, you remember that girl in Canterbury, ___ ____?

Friend: Nah

Me: Long dark hair, alabaster skin, glasses?

Friend: Nah

Me: Jeez, if you’d seen her you wouldn’t have forgotten. All the guys I knew were in love with her. She was a 10/10. Here she’d be...

Friend: 5/10?

Me: Nah more like 6 or 7. She’s pretty damn fine. But yeah, you get the point.

Friend: Begins nodding enthusiastically, possibly hatching plans to move to the most expensive city by the sea*.

Me: I trawl through photos of my girlcrushes online and constantly think “Really? You’re with him? He must have a great big...personality.” Honestly mate, it’s the Brighton secret.

Friend: So that’s why when you went to the loo in that pub we were in the other night I could feel all the women staring at me...

Me: Yeah exactly! Like flippin’ bloodhounds.

And that, my friends, is The Brighton Secret. Men are put off moving here as they think it’s an island surrounded by an impenetrable human centipede of gay cock. When there’s actually a sizeable amount of untapped pussy that’s gagging for it as it’s been totally deprived.

*That’s the other secret. People move here because of the variety of activities and events on offer and then can’t afford to do any of them because it’s too darn expensive just to live.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Gift

19, clumsy and shy. Yet surprisingly, I’d gained a boyfriend. During one rare moment of impulsion, I pounced when I spotted him in HMV flipping through Pixies CDs, declaring I recognised him from seminars.

Fast forward two years, and we’re on a shopping trip. His idea, not mine. I’d only just come out of my No Logo phase, and was still wary of capitalist conventions such as ‘shopping’. But I understood my boyfriend’s need. After entering the crystal castle off the M25 it was easy to be swept along with the horde of brainwashed zombies shuffling around the polished interior.

We passed a shop filled with glowing amber jewellery. I pressed my paws on a cabinet of rings, their honeyed eyes winking back at me.

We moved on to a toiletries shop, where he bought a heart-shaped soap. I thought it was strange, not being asked to wait outside while he bought me a memento.

Then a bookshop, where he purchased an elegantly illustrated hardback for himself.

Next: a liquor shop, whose staff would recommend a tipple for the lucky recipient, then decorate the bottle with fine calligraphic labels bearing the motto of your choice.

“Just getting a present for Annabel,” he said, struggling to squeeze the gift bags he’d accumulated through the doorway.

I froze. Annabel was the oft-mentioned girl he’d met when he went back to his hometown during the holidays. Waiting outside, I heard the assistant say, “And what does the lady like?” “Oh, she definitely likes vodka,” he replied, with a knowing chuckle.

As he exited the shop with a Cheshire cat grin, I could tell he was high on spending-endorphins. “Can I get you anything?”

Staggered by the question, I stuttered that I’d liked the amber jewellery.

I chose a ring. £20. I hesitated as it was removed from the case, but he insisted. Hefty fee for a student, even if it was payday.

Pushing thoughts of heart-shaped soaps and gleaming vodka bottles out of my head during the ride back, I admired my gift. It twisted through kaleidoscopic colours and shades in my window seat while my companion sulked in aisle-side gloom, on a spending spree comedown.

Later, going through the receipts with shaking hands, he cried “I shouldn’t have bought that ring.”

Later still, I was left for Annabel (who in turn left him for Lauren), but I still have that ring.