Warning: This blog contains signs of the wear and tear of middle age.
1. Listening to music on public transport loudly. This is includes using those useless headphones that seem designed to leak whatever racket you’re numbing your aural and neural pathways with, just enough to give everyone else in the vehicle/carriage a sort of hip-hop tinnitus. Then there’s not even bothering with headphones and just playing it loudly with a swagger that suggests you’ve got a knife or have no fear about administering a punch to a remonstrator. This shows that consideration for others in this country is about as popular as brushing your teeth with a chainsaw or drinking a syphilis milkshake. It’s also a sort of challenge, daring the timid commuter to ask you to desist just so you can give them lip or bust theirs. You may like your music, and fair play to you. You’re welcome to listen to it – so long as you use headphones that actually do the job headphones were designed to do. Lest we forget, they are the key component of something called a personal stereo – personal, as in for your own, private use. Otherwise it would’ve been called a Bus Disco, Tube Rave, or Pendolino Glastonbury. There are things I enjoy doing that it might not be appropriate for me to do every time I would like to, and certainly not on the bus in the presence of other people. Like say, playing Twister, pretending to be a soldier in a film, or making love to my wife. And are any of these ear rapists listening to Suzanne Vega, Showaddywaddy or Daniel O’Donnell? I think not. My point is made.
2. Saying “yourself” when you mean “you”, and “myself” when you mean “me”. Using words of unnecessary length makes proceedings appear neither more formal nor more intelligent. It just makes yourself sound thick.
3. Shrinking TV credits. That our major national broadcasters think that the sudden appearance of the English Language on our screens will have us reaching for our remotes insults us. Yes, there are some people who do that, but in my kingdom those people will not exist. They will never have existed. Readable credits are a conduit behind the scenes, and a good theme tune stays with you forever and gives you a comforting shroud of nostalgia on a lonely night. They are essential elements of the viewing experience, not to be used as nests for the advertising cuckoo. If I want to watch what’s coming next, I will, but not because you’ve just shouted at me to do so and thus mucked up the ending of something into which I’d happily immersed myself. Would the Mona Lisa really be improved by having sticker in the corner with “Look, over there, it’s the Venus de Milo, she’s ‘armless!”? (the answer to that, by the way, is no). As punishment, any TV exec who sanctions this will have someone shout in their ear, every time they make love, “Coming soon, a melancholy feeling of at worst shame, and at best inadequacy – stay tuned” just at the moment of orgasm.
"You couldn't make it up," he says. And then does.
4. Treating the opinions of Richard Littlejohn with any seriousness whatsoever. This will be redefined as a hate crime and awarded the maximum possible sentence.
5. Dropping litter. I sometimes pick up discarded things like cigarette packets and say “you dropped this” and when they reply “oh, it’s empty”, I put it in the nearby bin and say “Oh, look, that was difficult wasn’t it?” This will, one day, get me killed. If you’re a grown-up who can’t use a bin, you don’t deserve democracy, frankly.
6. Sitting on a train where one of the few plug sockets is but not using the plug socket for anything. This will be a capital offence. With no right to appeal.
7. Tabloid newspapers quoting “a friend” of whomever they’re doing a hack job on, who speaks in apposite puns. You know the sort of thing, a friend of a cricketing cuckold’s mistress quoted saying that “after a short first innings his middle stump wouldn’t stay up for a second one” or the friend of a woman having an affair with a World War 1 veteran saying that when they first saw each other it was “The Phwoar To End All Phwoars”. It’s bad enough that they use something as precious as freedom of the press and abuse it to reduce national discourse to childish tittering. But to parade such dishonesty about using the weakest humour available to humanity on one page and then assuming the umbrage of the morally affronted on the next is worse than stabbing a sleeping child’s head with a pin whilst its mother isn’t looking.
8. Talking on the phone when you serve me in a shop. Can I take a call when I’m at work? No. Halfway through a set I’d be rightly pelted with eggs if I said to the audience “Hang on, this is more important than you” and answered my mobile. Bus drivers don’t do it either. Or teachers. I’ve never seen a judge dial out for pizza during a trial. I’m sure not even the most bargain basement lady of the night would break of her servicing of whichever inadequate requires a siphoning to book a holiday or ask about improved broadband services. So, shopkeep, nor should you when I’m purchasing a Wagon Wheel, crucifix or lingerie magazine.
9. Not tipping your waiter, who’s given you good service because “well, it’s optional innit.” Yes, you have the option not to tip if the service wasn’t very good, but not just because you’re not in the giving vein today. It’s optional for me not to batter your face with a cactus mallet or scythe your baby, but I doubt you’d take that as an excuse. If you had decent service and you don’t tip you’re a twat. Simple. Don’t try to intellectualise it by saying – well, I don’t tip person in x,y and z job, either. Waiters’ wages are kept low because of the tipping system. You’re not bucking that system or campaigning for higher wages by not playing ball, you’re simply denying the person who has worked for you all night what they might reasonably expect for doing a good job.
10. Being anonymous on the internet. This would suddenly emasculate the world’s keyboard warriors pretty quickly. Imagine having your name and address flash up every time you fancy yourself as a cyberspace Oscar Wilde (if Wilde was a witless hobgoblin who only developed a pair when cloaked in anonymity and protected by a monitor screen that serves as a vileness amplifier). They’d also, in true Bullseye! style, be shown all the real life girls they could have touched if they hadn’t spent their lives articulating their own crushing lack of self-esteem and achievement through a conduit of bile pixels that contribute precisely nothing of value to anyone or anything, anywhere, ever.
Oooh, what’s that sensation? Oh yes, my chest feels much lighter now.