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…?

 

 

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The Authentic Fake News Site Vs The False-Flag Rumour Forum List Meme

If we were asked to characterize the social media that we use – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. – in terms of food, what would we make it out to be?

a. Facebook: A crusty stew with appetizing aromas at the edges – aromas that never actually seem to be there when you search for them. The occasional bubble in the centre indicating heat. And a roiling mass of unsavoury ingredients just under the crust. Cat hair here and there. And unicorn glitter.

b. Twitter: A Pez dispenser. You poke the ornamental head at the top and a hard pellet of opinion is popped out of the screen. Some of the pellets taste like sugar and some of them taste like horse shit. None of them do you any good at all.

c. Instagram: Magnificently plated, superbly coloured, and unavailable to someone like you at this time. Just look and envy.

d. Pinterest: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and so is the food. The reason is mould. Subscribe now.

e. The personal blog: Someone’s home cooking. Not necessarily bad, but nevertheless someone else’s pots and pans. Taste at your peril. They may not be a good cook. You may not be a good eater.

If we had been presented with today’s social media news in the 1950’s or 1960’s we would likely have recognised it for what it is – propaganda and commercial promotion. The flimsiest of the flam. Those of us who saw the lies when they came on newsprint and left ink stains on the fingers…or who waded through innumerable cigarette advertisements in magazines…react entirely differently to those who have only ever seen a screen. We may not know how to turn that screen on and make it dance, but we know when to turn it off and do our own thinking.

Of course we can be wrong when we do that – original thought can be as bad as the store-bought stuff – but as we use simpler ingredients and have less access to processors, it is likely to be fresher and tastier. It may lack the salt and scandal that is added by unknown hackers but it nourishes us just the same.

Bit riskier when we send it to our friends and neighbours, though. As our own thoughts are unlikely to be covered by the legal indemnities enjoyed by professional liars, we are in danger of being detected and having our opinions challenged. Most of us have no biased reports or dodgy scientific studies to back us up and common sense has long been discredited as a way of living. The best we can do when some other madman challenges our own mania is throw out a smokescreen of kitten and Hitler memes and close the account.

Anyone who either agrees or disagrees with this will be instantly defriended with the prickly end of an emoji.

May Contain…

The following post may contain sex scenes, nudity, violence, drug use, coarse language and reference to people who are dead.

Or not.

I live a life that does not contain much of the above, because I am careful to avoid it. Just as I am careful to avoid soggy egg sandwiches in a service station cabinet, or people with tinfoil helmets on their heads, or families who have the Protocols of Zion embroidered on a sampler in the hallway. I am not stupid. I can recognise trouble before it recognises me, and I am not at all hesitant to light out for the hills.

So why would I watch a television drama that warns me beforehand that just such hazards await me? Why would I consider the lives portrayed on the television screen to be valid models for me? What goodness can they possibly offer that will offset the vile stuff? I am starting to think that it is time to pull the plug and put the telly out on the verge for the council to collect.

T’was not always thus. I loved telly in the 1950’s and 1960’s when our family landed up somewhere that had regular reception. I knew all the game shows, comedians, and serials. As none of them swore, flashed their minges at me, or showed me how to beat up my grandmother efficiently, I was perfectly happy. I even sat through the advertisements in a golden glow. I will admit to a little screen-driven consumerism but it generally peaked at breakfast cereal with plastic frogmen inside.

Australian television was always cruder, weirder, and more touching than the US or Canadian stuff. It had none of the sophistication of British telly. But it did have the local scenery sometimes and it also had access to unknown video fodder from Japan at a time when nothing foreign was seen elsewhere. I am glad I saw it before it changed to colour, and I am also glad that I have seen enough of it now that it has.

The simple act of passing swiftly by it without a second glance is guaranteed to give you at least 4 hours more of hobby, reading, drinking, or sex time in the day. If you are really efficient you can combine all the activities at the same time. Oh, you may have to clean up stray paint spills or untangle your partner from the ceiling fan, but this is small beans compared to the extra time you gain. And the wonderful thing is that you never have to worry who gets killed off in a series – they can all go take their unemployment cheques for all you need care. There are no spoilers.

How about the art telly, I hear you say? The European films? Well, I have seen Spaniards having existential angst and Frenchmen sitting around a dinner table smoking a number of times and that pretty much does it for me. Any further repeats would just spoil the initial low impression. Likewise Chinese dating shows, international football, and Canadian films that have a soundtrack done by Larry Adler.

Let Me EnterPain You

And I’ll have a real good time, Yessir…

I think that was a line from the hit song ” Hey Big Miser ” but I could be wrong. It had a Shirley in it but I cannot tell you whether it was a Temple or a Bassey. Memory isn’t what it used to be…*

I have been watching the television in the corner of the lounge room for the last few days – in company with the rest of the family. They seem highly amused by it and from the sounds that come crashing out of the speakers set into the rear of the cabinet, there must be a great deal going on. Apparently murder and aliens accounts for about 60% of the culture of the nation, with the rest being made up equally of football, people cooking things while being yelled at, and snide comedians.

In a few weeks I will have worked my courage up to the point of being able to go round the front of the cabinet and see what is on the screen. Up until now the reflected light has been quite enough. I am encouraged in this by my wife who has promised that there are some shows that do not involve gasoline explosions or people break-dancing. I hope to be able to trust her…

In the meantime I shall catch up on my reading. I have just finished a pot-boiler by Emil Zola and had to down a quick book of scientific quotations to quell the nerves. English novelists of the Victorian era are fine workers and I am never so comforted as when I curl up in a warm bed with a fat Trollope, but the French are altogether more dramatic in print than anything on the Dover side of the channel. I guess it is all the red wine they drink.

French or English, the thing I do like about a book as opposed to a moving screen, is the way a book will pause and wait for you to catch up. It may still take you on desperate adventures, but can do it in stages like a county bus. Televisions just whirl you away like a Greyhound in the night and if you cannot see fast, you do not see it all. Plus, I find that most screenplays are aimed at Shetlands while I am riding a higher horse.

*  It never was what it was, even when it was.

It’s All The Fault Of…

Of? Of whoever you don’t like. And that is the beauty of modern life; there are so many people that we know about that we can always have a scapegoat. Whenever we need to pin something onto someone, there will be a suitable person available. And there will be people who agree wholeheartedly with us.

A couple of classic examples: Putin and Trump. Ostensibly the leaders of the two most powerful military forces in the world. Possibly a couple of maniacs. Probably two people who are making it up as they go along. Whoever and whatever they really are, they can be the bogeymen for all of us whenever the complexity of the world starts to become evident. It’s all their fault…

The man of the dark ages or of the medieval world had no such easy human excuse. The villager or townsman might only know a couple of dozen other people in the world, and if none of them fitted the bill for a malefactor, then they would have to fall back upon the devil or supernatural spirits. A villain was needed, as will always be the case when people do not want to take responsibility for their own folly, but if your ville was very small you needed to go outside it.

Our media is really a blessing in this matter – every day it brings us stories of how bad it all is, and assures us that it will only get worse. It holds up the hoary head of the pirate/tyrant/media personality and invites us to spit at it. We duly expectorate according to expectation and all are happy. The media is served.

And it is served because of the fine people who sponsor the advertisements. Hate Trump? Buy these sunglasses. Sneer at Putin? Here’s a holiday advertisement.

Here’s a thought. If you hate Americans or Russians or people from Tierra Del Fuego…write down all the times that you have actually been injured by someone from that hated country. Be honest. Only the times of direct contact, eye to eye…

Can I have the other half of that sheet of paper that you’re not using? I wanna draw pictures of angels and devils on it…

Nana x 8 = Batman

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You’re speaking to a veteran here. Have some respect.

I saw the very first Adam West/Burt Ward television episode of Batman in January 1966 – sitting in the television room of Sage Dormitory at Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah. The room was packed with the senior boys at the start of the show. There was a metric tonne of junk food. By the end of the half hour there were three of us left. We watched religiously for the first season – in spite of the derision of the rest of the dorm.

” First In – Last Out”….a fine motto. I believe the Royal Engineers use it as well…

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Well, there have been Batmen and Robins since then, and Catwomen and Jokers and such, but the defining characters were set in the 120 episodes of the TV series. This also clearly defined the Batmobile, Batplane, and Batcycle designs – all since then are mere imagination. I do pity the youngsters who have never seen West and Ward climbing sideways down a skyscraper…

But at least there is an abundance of Bat Accessories and Bat Models to please the crowd. Here’s the crop at the Super Model Car Sunday.

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Be patient – my own studio shoots with Catwoman are in the planning, as I have secured the original 1966 Lincoln-derived Batmobile for my exclusive use. Catwoman has her Catsuit and we are just searching for a suitable set of cat ears and a mask. I doubt we will be able to find anyone with a set of muscles suitable to play Batman but I know I can scare up a Penguin and a Joker amongst my friends.

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As soon as we get a new bulb for the Bat Signal we should be ready to go.

Correcting The Errors – Australian Advertisements Part Two

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Do you remember Steve Irwin? The chap who used to wear khaki shorts and shirts and juggle animals on television? The one who used to say ” Crikey!” a lot on air?

Of course you do, He was immensely popular in North America as the image ( and sound ) of Australia. He was the archetype of the wise bushman, savvy in all outdoor adventures and steeped in true Australian slang. But North American viewers never knew the real truth – when Steve used the word “Crikey”, he was the only person on the continent to do so.

Or to be more accurate, he used it, but not here. No-one uses it here. We might use the names of various deities, or bodily functions, or secretions, or even WWII Australian army generals when we need an expletive*. We still use bloody hell, or worse, but we have let Crikey alone for decades – so much so that the copyright on it expired and it could be taken up by the television company for use in scripts.

While having a reputation as a swearing nation amongst the English, we rarely ask God to damn anything, as they might do in America. Unlike Canada we do not have any SOB’s – except the Sultan of Brunei, and he is indeed a noticeable SOB…We have eschewed the more colourful curses involving Australian animals or sporting history because you can’t get them out quickly at a traffic roundabout and they probably don’t translate into Mandarin or Hindi very well. And it is useless cursing some people because their lives are far worse than anything you could wish on them – indeed bidding them on to longevity could be the cruelest thing one might say.

As for Steve, well his fate was eventually to be remembered for…his fate. At least he got off better than Rolf Harris.

  • Gordon Bennett. Sorry, I let that slip out…