Pay Today Or Go Away

Every so often the internet gives us a simple lesson in life.

Either it shows us simpletons at large – like the current crop of cultists – or it reminds us of the basic principles of social commerce.

I’ve been watching a website for a year now – an advertising vlog produced by a very pleasant fellow in the UK. He deals in the hobby of building plastic models and has done so on a professional basis for decades. He’s part of a small company that manufactures accessories for the hobby and is part owner of a hobby shop. He’s also a very entertaining and knowledgable speaker – his daily shows are a lot of fun to see.

However, he’s adopted the business model of a subscription for the show – some 40 British Pounds per annum. I daresay it is a small fee for some in the UK, but amounts to the same price here in Western Australia as the annual fee for our own modelling club. That’s a hands-on social group that can entertain us 3 days out of 7 every week. Real participation without advertising.

This last year has seen innumerable changes in the presentation of the English chap’s vlog programs, but the latest one is to remove most of them to a paid-only status…leaving just a few crumbs of free viewing. He wishes us to subscribe, and probably needs the money from the subscriptions. But most of us also need it, and simply won’t pay.

It means we won’t be watching…and over time we will forget that we wanted to. We will go off to other – free – experts on the internet for our entertainment. Or we will entertain ourselves in our local clubs.

Monetising something is a temptation for every internet presenter. You see it with news services and the internet versions of some prestigious journals. But it don’t work. We can get much the same for free, and we go for that.

Entice us with bargains for actual goods. Sell hobby supplies, books, decals, or anything else you make. If the goods are valuable we’ll pay to have ’em shipped. But don’t provide free tasters and then a bill for something that is just talk – we can talk amongst ourselves.

Sad to think that we might have become such misers, but there it is.

I Only Mentioned The Whore Once…*

But I think I got away with it.

You would be a brave person these days if you held anyone else** up to contumely and ridicule on a public stage. Far more so if it was the internet and the social media. The gaff that you inserted into your victim would be as nothing compared to the gaffe that you would put into your own career.

The lawyers would have a field day. They would look at you, at the social media site, and at the electronic servitors who had broadcast the slur to the world. Their gaze would fix upon two things; your guilt and who has the money. Were you just a beggar in the market place shouting imprecations they would be satisfied with whipping you and then moving on to the real sources of compensation. If you had money you would also stand the ire of injured reputation and moral outrage.

Perhaps they would be right to do this. After all, we should not defame others. Perhaps their efforts would only be to right a wrong and prevent a sin. When you think about it, Torquemada had only the spiritual interests of his victims at heart when he lit the fires under their stakes.

I am not brave. I quiver at the least danger. So I never publish scurrilous attacks upon people – even when they are patently deserving. I forebear. I forgive. I just keep watching them to see their next stunt. Eventually what I essayed to do will be done by the mainstream press and possibly the magistrate’s court – and then I can be virtuous and moral. And when they are finally cut down, I will ask for a piece of the rope as a remembrance.

*  Before you pop a vein and write to the editor, it’s a reference to ” Fawlty Towers “…If this show has not been seen in your section of the Ozarks look it up on Netflix.

**   You can do it to yourself and make a good deal of money from the networks…

Saturday Night Vile

Oops. Darn that Autocorrect.

Oh, well, now that we’ve been committed to it we might as well do the show as advertised.

Our first act will be a chorus of school children who have been bussed in from schools where the teachers want more pay and less singing. They will present a song and interpretive dance for goodness and against badness entitled ” We Are Right And You Are Wrong, So Nya Nya Nya Nya Nya…”. They have the full support of the Nya Nya party, who otherwise would go unnoticed.

After that we’ll be playing our interview with the Prime Minister of Canada who will sing ” Why Is Everyone So Mean To Me? ” and then we’ll be crossing live to Kamahl who will tell him exactly why.

Don’t think that we’ll be ignoring the football panel, though. We have 15 minutes of flashing lights, fast cutaways, and grunting by a stage full of hearty backslappers, so stay tuned.

Now back to the comedy of Boris ” All my friends are dead ” Krapotkin. You’ll die laughing. All his friends did.

The Invisible Man Vs The Invisible Woman

Well, I looked as hard as I could, but I didn’t see anybody there.

I knew that they were fighting, or making love, or possibly doing laundry. There were a series of bumps and gurgles and at one point something viscous spilled on the floor. I decided that it would be more discreet to just leave and read about it in the newspaper next week.

That’s the problem with super-powers. They are bound to cause trouble sooner or later. The entire collection of Marvel and DC characters, together with the Japanese anime figures, seem to be incapable of living quiet lives. They are either fighting crime or committing it – and mostly to the detriment of the environment and people surrounding them. I cannot think of anything worse than being neighbour to a super hero or super villain. No matter what they did it would break fences and scatter the street’s rubbish on Bin Night. And you can just bet that it would never be during business hours – I’ve read enough Batman comics to know that whenever he roars out of the secret tunnel at 165 dB it is the middle of the night. Who sleeps?

The business of radioactivity and strange oriental poisons is another thing. I can take the average hazards of suburban life – the magpie swoops and the blood-and-bone fertilizer on the garden beds in Spring. The repeated attacks of the Mr Whippy van in summer. The drains backing up in winter. It is the price you pay for having a bit of space about you. But with a super-whatever on the street you are just as likely to glow in the dark, turn sterile, or keel over foaming and choking as soon as they open the basement vents. You can be certain that they have a secret laboratory down there because nothing grows in a radius of 50 metres of their property.

Of course there are those who say having a super-hero will be good because it means the neighbourhood is protected. What they don’t figure into the equation is the fact that the superhero attracts their opposing number 100% of the time and you end up avoiding two men in tights instead of just one.

I could actually enjoy super women in tights, but I’ve seen the muscles on some of them and I don’t think I would survive…

The Best Comedian Loved The Best Audience

You’ll hear a lot of guff about comedy today – every seedy pub that can afford a microphone and a wooden stool thinks that they can find Dave Allen in their general population of drunks. They can’t, of course, but that doesn’t stop them from chopping off fingers left right and centre in the search…The audiences would be better if they were working on ears…

The guff is generally to do with how vile and obnoxious you need to be to succeed as a joke teller. There’s a fair contest to lower the standard of the art and I must say that some comedians seem to have set their hearts on the Marianas Trench. Dark, cold, and under tremendous pressure – the only creatures to be seen have bulging eyes and enormous teeth. Melbourne comedy festival pub stuff all right.

Mustn’t bag the Victorians too much – I’ve seen local fun merchants roll jokes off the deck here in Perth with the pistols set for 5000 feet and then watched them wait with a silent mic until they detonated. They were so far down by the time that happened you could barely hear the pop.

I’m sorry for the passing of the clean comic. The family comedian who could run a half-hour show on a television network each week and not lose the custom of either the audience or the advertisers. Some of the classics could crack the screen with nothing more than a dead-pan doubletake…a signature silence that you waited all week to see and laugh at.

The humourist – stand-up, sit-down, or whatever – in the days of strict television and print standards had to respect their audience and craft jokes that amused without abusing. They wanted to be laughed with, as well as at, and the very best of them went further than that – they got the love of the audience as well as the applause.

PS: The lust of the audience is also good, but make sure that your clothes can be dry cleaned.

 

 

The Queen’s Christmas Message

” Greetings to our loyal subjects and to the citizens of the Commonwealth. We are pleased to be able to speak to you again this year during the festive Christmas season. We have been advised by experts that we must not use the word Christmas as it may disturb some of our subjects. As head of the Church Of England we have taken the decision to continue with the traditional greeting and as head of the nation we have decided to exhibit the experts chained in cages at Wapping stairs.

The year past has been a difficult one for the world, but we are gratified to say that we have  survived it. More royal weddings are in the offing and the number of royal scandals has been decreased to the lowest level in four years. This may not have been to the taste of Mr. Packer or Mr. Murdoch but we assure you that it has been a great pleasure to stand the palace spokespeople and lawyers down off speed dial.

There have been proposals put to us regarding abdication and the succession to the throne of the next monarch. We have just taken our pulse and can confirm that this will not be happening today nor any time soon. You may all breathe out again. We would like to make it clear that the Prince of Wales enjoys our full confidence and that he is that way because he wishes to be. We did not play a long-term practical joke upon the nation.

We wish all our loyal subjects and citizens of the Commonwealth a joyous holiday and hope to see them again this time next year. Not lined up outside Buckingham Palace, if you please. We wish to have a little breathing room. “

How Would Sir Like His Communication This Morning?

Please place the letters on the silver tray in the hall, Jenkins. Printed pamphlets, flyers, advertising catalogues, and real estate notices may be dropped unread into the recycling bin on the way into the house.

Please route the electronic letters to one of my two accounts. The commercial ones may be sent through to the studio address – the personal ones into the private address. The writers will know which to use from the email communications I have sent them originally. Unfortunately there will be a modicum of unwanted commercial material mixed in as well, but I shall institute means by which it can be held at bay.

I do not think I shall be taking the Facebook this morning. Perhaps later in the week, if there is no other pressing matter. Or later in the month.

Likewise, you need not switch on the television apparatus in the sitting room today. I have several books open on my side table in the library and I do not wish to be distracted by the sight of murders or gasoline explosions.

Do dust the wireless, however, as I shall be using it today as I write. I find the old-time radio station and the ABC classical music a soothing way to screen out other background sounds. And I do feel it a good idea to listen to the ABC news at least once a day. Not that the news is all that good, all that often, and the ABC has a decided political bias, but it is as well to know what the weather will be for the coming few days.

Should there be a call on the telephone, please listen carefully to the first few seconds of it. If there is silence, then a hiss, then a confused gabble of sounds in the background, you might be connected to a steam room in Bengal, Manila, or Mysore. The person who tells you their name – invariably a staunchly Anglo-Saxon one given in a strong subcontinental or islands accent – will be from a technical department of Microsoft. They wish you to give them code numbers for bank accounts and credit cards. Please feel free to replace the receiver on the cradle at any time.

The mobile telephone will be another matter. It will ring for only a very short period of time and then go silent. The call will be recorded as missed or the caller will try to leave a message, which will be next to impossible to retrieve. This is normal and desirable.

As far as personal callers, please ask them to state their business before admitting them to the house. Those canvassing for solar power panels may be referred to the roof, which they will then observe is covered in the things already. Those who press for my attention upon spiritual matters may be referred to my religious adviser,  Mr. Thomas Paine. Anyone selling raffle tickets, clothespegs, or books of discount vouchers should be addressed though first the locked screen door and then through the firmly closed main door. ” Goodbye ” is a useful word.

Telegrams? I have not seen one for three decades. I doubt they still exist, though I would welcome one just out of nostalgia. Not a sad one – perhaps one announcing a win in the Irish Sweepstakes. I miss those.

Now, I must to my desk. I have an essay to write: ” Have We Lost Touch With Ourselves? “.  A catchy title, I think, what…?