Monday, 8 November 2010

Queue Nation

On my usual commute I saw an interesting advert for a tantalising sale which was imminent in an adjacent building. The sale promised "Low, low prices", and a "Crazy bargain inferno", so I felt compelled to join the amassing souls as I was assimilated into their collective and was assigned a position in the current queue.

Two hours later and our meagre queue was already gathering steam. Looking behind me I could not see where the queue came to an end; I could only speculate on it's length at this point, but it was probably as big as a community meeting to discuss the council's controversial zoning laws. Little did I know that by the end of the day, we'd be looking at thousands of shoppers.

As time went by, the queue began to take on a community of its own. Small businesses were seizing the opportunity to deliver cheap takeaway food to this captive audience. Slang terms rapidly began to evolve in order for us all to be informed of major events up and down the queue. Words sprung up such as "Top-n-bot" for wanting to purchase a matching set of clothing from the sale, and "Scuzzbog" for someone who would knock you to the ground and step on your tongue to get the best bargains. Before long, this sophisticated system would serve as an effective communication tool to keep us all abreast of the latest in-queue news, gossip and developments. One woman nearby went into labour, and we all had a whip round to buy her a nice card and a bunch of flowers from the store when it opened.

Our queue was becoming mighty indeed. With its own thriving community and a budding economy, the queue was becoming an altogether different beast. The MPs in Westminster were starting to get slightly nervous by our numbers, with one backbencher trying to invoke marshal law in order to get our queue off the streets. Nearby high street stores were beginning to complain that prospective customers had not been able to get through their front doors for the last fortnight. In order to show our peaceful intentions, the musicians amongst our number sang some soothing melodies throughout the night to quell their hostility. This seemed to quench their anger for the timebeing.

Mere days after this, the queue began to bustle with news of a much larger queue far away in Eastern Europe. The other queue had started in Russia as people queued up to receive their winter fuel handouts, but had unrooted itself and started to drift across the continent. In an effort to learn more, we sent out scouts to intercept them. This proved to be a fatal mistake as this merely confirmed our existence to the foreign queue, and word got around that they were headed this way, hungry for discount prices.

Mass panic ensued as we began to stockpile our resources ready for a potential conflict. We collected several million pounds in funds, and used this to arm ourselves with a vast amount of tent poles from the nearby Yeomans store. We also amassed the largest amount of pocket lint ever seen in the Western world.

Before long, the foreign queue appeared. Their numbers were more horrific than we could have possibly imagined; nearly 200,000 strong by this point as they'd been gathering stragglers across Belgium and France like a ravenous Katamari. We only amounted to half of that amount in the most generous of estimates. An uneasy silence broke out as the two queues stared at each other, unsure of what would happen next.

Slowly, the more daring members of their society began to shoulder their way into our queue, barging their way in and turning their noses up at anyone who dared to mutter "Excuse me!". In this brutal, sickening display of rudeness, the outsiders stepped up their takeover as more and more of them broke off and tried to integrate with us, like jamming a broom handle into the stump of a recent amputee. This devastating attack started to sever our communication lines and isolate small pockets of our resistance into manageable, bite size chunks. Before long, our utopian society was being split up before my very eyes. I lost some good friends in the conflict; friends I'd held for nearly 12 months. I saw one woman barged out of the queue entirely, and I could only watch in horrified awe at the brusqueness of the offending gentleman's demeanour over his actions. It was speculated that that woman was doomed to float around the infinite wastes of Main Street until the day she died.

My only hope is that future generations find this communication and understand the atrocities that were committed here. Please learn from the mistakes of your forefathers and never accept the contaminants of the foreign queue. Do not take their presence lying down; stand up and fight against- oh, the store has just opened! BRB...

Friday, 15 October 2010

Double Vision

Visiting the cinema is becoming an expensive affair these days. With the high prices of your average ticket, not to mention extra charges for the privilege of three dimensions, then the cost of 3D glasses, not to mention the cost of cinema food and drink, soon it'll only be the elite members of society who can afford to go.

This might seem like fantastic news for the aristocrats who want to watch their black and white, French avant-guarde motion pictures whilst flicking their overgrown moustaches without having some obnoxious teenager flicking popcorn around. They could use the spare seats to rest their canes on. However, the rest of the cinema-going population are going to be excluded. The movie business is going to have to change, giving people more value for their money.

I have come up with the solution to this problem. Why not simply combine two movies together? This would give the punters double the value for their money. Plus, old franchises could be revitalised by splicing them together. Here are just a few ideas that Hollywood can have for free (Plus VAT, plus tax, plus royalties, plus expenses, plus labour costs):

Jurassic Gosford Park

A mild mannered English tea party is interrupted by an implausible invasion of scaly monsters from the Jurassic period. Key scenes include eating dessert out of crystalised amber, and Maggie Smith mounting a velociraptor.

Groundhog Day After Tomorrow

Life on Earth gradually falls apart around Jake Gyllenhaal as tidal waves, earthquakes, and all manner of natural disasters ravage the globe. Then, life on Earth gradually falls apart around Jake Gyllenhaal as tidal waves, earthquakes, and all manner of natural disasters ravage the globe. Shortly after, life on Earth gradually falls apart around Jake Gyllenhaal as tidal waves, earthquakes, and all manner of natural disasters ravage the globe...

The Terminalator

A killer robot from the future finds himself trapped in a busy airport terminal due to a loophole on his passport (the country he comes from in the future doesn't exist in the present). Airport security try and detain him whilst he runs amok through the duty free shops, killing Catherine Zeta Jones in the process.

Monsters vs Aliens vs Predator

Children's CG caper in which cutsey aliens and wacky monsters are brutally dissected by an uncompromising, intergalactic game hunter from beyond our galaxy.

You, Marley and Me and Dupree

Owen Wilson plays Owen Wilson, co starring Owen Wilson and Owen Wilson in a screenplay by Owen Wilson. Owen Wilson buys a pet dog (played by Owen Wilson) to impress his new wife, Owen Wilson. Owen Wilson then has to leave the house after outstaying his welcome with Owen Wilson and Owen Wilson.

There's just a few of my ideas. Has anyone else got anything further to add? Feel free to contribute your own amalgamated movies.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Soapbox Derby

Election time is rolling around once again in the UK. This time, the competition is much more ferocious than ever before as an eclectic bunch of Eton schoolboys compete in a month-long dick-waving contest to determine who is the most popular. As ever, the smear campaigns are out in force, but considering that the reputation of politics was shattered to begin with (placing even the most charming of MPs as slightly less likeable than Piers Morgan if he admitted to child abuse), what can politicians do to persuade the braying masses?

Not much, frankly. As it turns out, most people you speak to are already sick to death of the election debates. The main problem appears to be the lack of understanding that people understandably have. When mainstream media would rather report on the deformed hooves of the PM’s wife than any of the actual policies, you can appreciate the reasons why people are frustrated with the current political system.

But the electorate as a whole can be a raucous rabble themselves. Mass blanket statements such as “No wonder this country is going down the pan”, “Britain is going to the dogs” and other such nonsense don’t help. It’s unbelievable how many times in one day you can overhear someone declaring the end of Britain as a country, usually over the most trivial of matters. These people have the fortuitous circumstance of living in one of the richest, fairest, most powerful nations on the planet, yet they carry on as if they are forced to forage for mutated bulbs growing in Chernobyl-like soil just to etch out an existence. I can’t imagine we’ll see a starving Ethiopian child weeping over the fact that people in Woking have to negotiate potholes anytime soon. Perhaps African AIDs victims could perform a charity gig to provide grit for our icy roads in the winter? I wonder if orphans in war-torn states are concerned about Woolworths closing down?

On a slightly different note, these are usually the same types who want to pull out of the EU and always complain about political correctness. They often suggest that our “politically correct” society is bringing our fair lands into decay, despite the fact that we have one of the best human rights records in the world and comparatively low poverty rates with other nations. It’s all gone mad, I tell you!

If you think that voting for a particular political party will plunge your country into the dark ages, then you’re probably the type of person who believes that a terrorist might be living in your attic, or that having childhood inoculations might give you syphilis. Seriously, if Brown, Clegg, or Cameron get in next time, the four horsemen aren’t going plunge your peaceful suburb into an urban inferno of torment and woe. No, that’ll take at least a couple of years for the policies to go through. When I hear people talk about how this country has been “ruined” by Gordon Brown’s recession, it makes me wince. Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I don’t necessarily see our society in a collapse. Sure, some people may have lost their jobs or not been entitled to a pay increase this year, but how else do you expect to maintain 17-18 years of gigantic growth? The good times can’t last forever; there does come a point where everyone suddenly realises that whilst the economy has been great and inflation has risen exponentially, you’re paying nearly twice as much for a Mars bar, and your children can’t afford to buy a home whilst you idle away your retirement years in your Tuscany holiday villa. It’s just not sustainable. Also, if you reckon that Britain is the only country that has been affected, take a look at the rest of the world. Everyone has gone through the same turbulence. If you think the current government has handled the situation badly, then fine, vote for someone who you feel is more able, but please don’t bemoan your plight to the point where you’re actually insulting those in poverty-stricken countries with real problems. I’m tired of hearing people say “We need to sort our own country before we help others”, whenever there’s a mention of supplying aid to another nation. Call me a limp-wristed, skirt-wearing lefty, but where’s your compassion? Just because people don’t have the good fortune to have been born on your noble soil doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same freedoms and rights that you so belligerently gorge your self-absorbed, blinkered, opinionated arsehole upon. Let’s get a sense of perspective up in here.

That’s enough about idio-I mean people, let’s move on to the politicians themselves. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who is starting to get a little annoyed by the amount of leaflets that I have to wade through when I enter my house at the moment. It wouldn’t be as bothersome if they didn’t all contain the same things; a large picture of a grinning stranger stood outside a school/hospital/library, then the rest of the white space taken up by insults against the other candidates. Our local MP who shall remain nameless (we’ll refer to him as Mr P.Holmes. No, wait, that’s too obvious. Let’s go with Paul H.) is determined to slice down entire woodlands to produce leaflets which only slag off Gordon Brown and “his recession”. The Liberal Democrats have been elected in this area for the past 9 years, and I don’t even know what their policies are. Perhaps their only local policies involve throwing insults at all other rivals until they collapse crying in a sodden heap of worthlessness. In fact, I’d like to take the opportunity to write an open letter to Mr Holmes, if you’ll indulge me:

“Dear Mr Holmes,

I would be grateful if you would take my name off of whatever mailing list you have me on. After receiving enough flyers to make a life size origami Jumbo Jet (complete with working engines and everything), I am becoming concerned for my own health. I find that I am battling for my own life whenever I enter my house sometimes as I am unable to traverse what is now known locally as “The Sea Of Slander”. Not being a strong swimmer means that the sheer amount of leaflets on my doormat threatens my very existence. Also, the paper cuts are an absolute bitch.

Although I appreciate the time it took to create these masterpieces of misanthropy, they are simply killing me. I would be grateful if the council would come to dispose of this wasteful heap. I suggest that you recycle it into something useful, like some more money after your leadership almost bankrupted the entire town. Of course, you were entirely blameless in this incident; it was Gordon Brown who failed to magically appear and fill all of the town’s pot holes with chunks of solid platinum.

On another note, I was sorry to hear that you had to repay nearly £10,000 from a rather shady second home scam that you no doubt fell victim to. I’m sure a man such as yourself was unaware that us, the taxpayers, would have to pick up the tab of literally thousands, otherwise you wouldn’t have done it.

Judging by the contents of your leaflets (or what I could read of them before I passed out through inhaling too much ink) you are a man who cares so much about his constituency that he will vigilantly attack all other parties and blame them for his own failings. I mean, their failings, obviously. We don’t need to know the ways in which you will make our town a better place. We don’t need to know what you stand for. All we need to know is that you are not Gordon Brown.

Coincidentally, do you know what else you should include on your campaign posters? More pictures of Brown looking less than his best. The sweatier the better. Get a picture of him mopping his brow next to a caption saying “BROWN FEELS HEAT AS HERO HOLMES PUTS ROCKET UP HIS SOCKET!”.

Look forward to you winning in this area again.”

Anyway, that’s the mentalist’s guide to the 2010 election. Who are you going to vote for? I don’t care, honest.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


I've been wanting to write a literal translations piece on advertisements for a while now, but since it has already been done by somebody much better than I could ever do it, I decided to leave the subject alone. However, the recent influx of informercials hasn't been tackled yet (to my knowledge), so I'll take that one on, thank you very much.

I don't know what television is like in other English speaking countries, but over here, we have government sponsored advertising campaigns for just about every aspect of our lives over here. The majority contain useful lifestyle tips on how not to kill yourself such as "Don't drive like a narcoleptic amputee" or "Narcotics make you act like a twat", which is usually very sensible advice.

Although these adverts contain sensible advice, I do, however, have one major gripe with them as a whole. Now, I'm not trying to suggest that the information they convey is obvious, unnecessary, and downright insulting to those of us who are in possession of a functioning brain stem, but if you, say, took a small child aside and asked him or her if they understood that consuming copious amounts of a mind-altering substance could potentially lead to fatal accidents, you'd be offending their intelligence. Still, this advert was broadcast as a precaution against binge drinking.

But if binge drinking isn't your particular vice, don't worry, because we have a whole sackful of legal stuff that you can't enjoy any more. Take smoking, driving, casual sex, or being a blubbery fatty. Feel guilty, you self indulgent fool? You should do.

In all seriousness, a lot of them carry an important message and are often much better than the usual adverts you see and being sold a bunch of claptrap that you don't need. However, what about the videos that miss the mark? The ones that try to be serious or shocking, but somehow come out amusing or foolish?

Take this advert about talking to our children about alcohol. Sensible message indeed, but I happen to find it absolutely hilarious. The second girl is especially funny when she says "someone will pressure me for 'shecksh' ". Albeit, this might be down to my own immaturity, or the fact that so many of these "shock ads" are on telly these days that I've become totally desensitised to it, but that particular advert strikes me as humorous.

Then you have the Talk To Frank adverts, which usually try and include some oddball humour to discourage drug use. This one is a particularly good example. Notice that there seem to be more positive effects than negative? I'll take a little bit of memory loss if cannabis helps me to be more happy, talkative, and chilled out at the same time. Sounds like a fair a trade off.

I just wish more public information adverts were like this one about using a handkerchief. If more public information adverts were this aloof and inconsequential to everyday living, perhaps I wouldn't feel so god damned guilty all the time. Every time you make a purchase, say something, go anywhere, or do anything, there's an advert to remind you about the dangers of it. Sleep well.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Computer Virus Set To Mutate

The World Health Organisation has today issued a warning that could spell disaster for many people around the world. A potentially horrific strain of computer virus looks set to mutate over the coming months, leading many leading leaders to speculate on the implication this news will have upon humans.

Troj/Blitzkreig is a harmful virus that has been infecting computers for the last six months. Many PCs are said to have been affected by the rampant spread of this disease, which causes symptoms such as black outs, blurred vision, and the inability to perform day to day tasks in those computers unlucky enough to have caught it. Due to the contagiousness of this disease, scientists are concerned that the virus may mutate so that it can infect those of us who work with computers regularly.

"We believe there is a risk" said our source within the World Health Organisation. "We've seen the same thing with Swine Flu between pigs and people. It's not outrageous to believe that the same could happen with a computer virus."

When questioned on the likelihood of a pandemic, he said "Anything is possible.".

Graham Cluely, CEO of Sophos (a leading anti-virus company), claims to already be making headway in stopping the spread of this disease. "All of my staff have to work behind a giant Firewall." he said, but later admitted that it would be impractical for home owners to set a supporting wall ablaze in order to keep themselves safe. "My advice would be to wait for our latest update. We're planning to install Sophos products directly onto the customer's brain, so that should help.".

When the inevitable happens and an epidemic is upon us, scientists believe that the necessary aid will not be in place to cope with the scale of the tragedy. The elderly are one of the most predominant risk areas, especially old men looking for Thai brides online. iPhones are set to be the main source of infection as the virus will be able to come straight through the phone and directly into the user's ear without them even realising.

In a recent press conference, Mr Norton from Norton Security had this to say:

"Now is not the time for panic. However, I would suggest that computer owners adhere to the following to make their lives safer. Don't go on websites that you are unsure about. Don't go on websites you are sure about. Don't open an Internet browser. Do not open email attachments, even from your mum. Delete your Recycle Bin. Uninstall any Operating System that you may have installed, and for god's sake, don't switch on your computer!"

Although we tried to contact him, leading expert Dr Watson wasn't available to comment at the time of press. We can only hope that the virus hasn't already claimed him as the first victim of it's tyrannical campaign.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Jingle All The Way

A few weeks ago, I watched a show on ITV about the Greatest TV Adverts Of The Decade. This was the standard fare for anyone who has seen these format shows before; we slowly grind our way through a chosen countdown as a small number of journalists, showbiz bloggers, or anyone who happened to free on the day of recording, speak their mind about that particular entry. I initially dismissed the programme as being rather self serving due to it coming across like an hour-long advert for adverts. The audience at home weren’t the ones who ITV were trying to persuade, they were hoping that other prospective advertisers would see the merits of their media and be inspired to push their adverts out through their network.

To be honest, I can hardly blame them. If the critics and TV executives are to be believed, television as a medium is as dead as a Sabre-Toothed Tiger wearing Adidas poppers. The only thing the box has to offer these days are self promoting shows such as 100 Best TV Moments, Greatest TV Interviews, and 10 Most Terrifying BBC Test Cards.

However, I then saw a rather funny advert which was, in itself, all about advertising. The advert features a man on a psychiatrist’s couch reciting famous advertising jingles such as Bodyform, Gillette, and Cadburys which were all familiar and invoke a sense of nostalgia. The advert suggests that adverts and jingles get into your head and stay there forever, which is true in most cases. Inside your subconscious there must be a special area solely dedicated to advertising jingles, no matter how shit they are. Ones that were around during your childhood are the ones that will live with you forever, whether you want them to or not, wafting their way into the forefront of your mind occasionally like a fart in a Jacuzzi. They remain hidden, buried in the recesses of your brain, waiting for a moment to leap up and sing the Um Bongo theme tune as loudly as they can. These events can be rather jarring.

Whilst thinking about this topic, I realised that jingles are like a default factory setting for your mind. Only in the occasional moments when no other thought fills your head will a long since remembered song suddenly slap you across the face. I’ve realised that my brain’s screensaver is an old song which was used to advertise a child’s game called Wiggly Worms ( The game is nothing more than a gaudy piece of plastic shaped like an apple in which worms bob up and down, and players have to pluck them out with their fingers. The theme tune basically goes like this:

“Wiggly worms, you just can’t catch ‘em! Wiggly worms, you just can’t catch ‘em! They’re wiggly, they’re squiggly, they’re gonna get you giggly, you just can’t catch ‘em, Wiggly Worms”.

I never even had the game, and never wanted it, yet my mind always resets back to Wiggly Worms. It’s slightly eerie to think that a toy targeted at me during my childhood still lives with me some 10-15 years since I last saw it on TV. Subconsciously, this must mean that I am a damaged human being and should probably sue Matel for making this game in the first place, but I suspect that many other people suffer the same affliction, except they are plagued by jingles from different products.

So, if you’re reading this, let me know what adverts are stuck in your mind. I’m interested to hear about jingles from your childhoods which just suddenly pop into your mind. Together, maybe we can form support groups and work together to undo the damage done to us by the Bumble Balls, Coco Pops and Tyco RCs that plague our adult lives.