Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Curse of The New

Is it my age or is it the fact that for the past 35 years I have worked in an industry in which cynicism it the norm. I don't know. I am keenly aware that as we grow older — as we all grow older — we become less and less amenable to change of any kind and rather dislike any alteration in the fabric of life which makes it less like what we have been accustomed to for the past 30/40 years.
Take TV. Like all youngsters, I watched a lot of TV. But in those days in Britain we had just two channels to choose from, BBC and ITV (of which BBC was regarded as the upmarket, responsible channel and ITV — known as 'commercial television — was regarded as downmarket and slightly irresponsible. Then, in 1964, along came BBC2 (a day late, as it happens, but that is another story). BBC2 was going to be Auntie's cultural flagship, with loads of 'serious' plays, classical music and intellectual discussion. It fulfilled this role admirably for many years and until 1982 when Channel 4 was launched we only had three channels.
The point I am making is that less TV was available but I watched far more, although I shall not make the usual mistake of claiming that every last minute broadcast was head and shoulders about what is on offer today. It wasn't. We had dross in those days, too, although I'm sure someone somewhere is fully prepared to argue that it was dross of a far higher quality than we are served up with today. Now there seem to be thousands and thousands of TV channels and I watch next to nothing. I have no interest in all the so-called 'reality' shows, or in the talent shows, and some of the programme ideas strike as downright loopy: coming up next week is a series detailing what happens when the lower deck staff start running their supermarket. Can't wait, I really can't. Or ten fat people decide to lose weight. and we are invited to join them 'on their journey' the share the success and failure, the laughter and the tears. I could sit here and try to come up with the most ridiculous idea imaginable, only to discover it was screened last Thursday on some channel or other to almost universal acclaim.
The fault, I'm sure, us most certainly mine.
Then there is the vacuous nonsense everyone keeps coming out with. Was there always such double-speak. Probably, buy I am only beginning to notice it now because I have entered the grumpy years. (And incidentally, one TV show which was a runaway success of these past few years was called 'Grumpy Old Men' and, yes, consisted of loads of elderly celebs sounding off about what ticked them off.)
One of my favourite pieces of spoken garbage, of which a lot is official, was the Labour Government's claim a few years ago that one of its targets in education was to ensure that 'every pupil, irrespective of background, is above average in its achievements'. If that doesn't immediately strike you as being complete bollocks, think about it. Hint: consider what the notion of 'average' is.
Every new venture is proudly announced as being 'innovative', 'exciting', 'groundbreaking' and 'a bold departure' which 'redefines' whatever activity it is being launched as. All I can see is that many people have been paid very good money simply to 'redefine' bollocks.
You get the drift. Yet who is at fault here? Am I being to much of a curmudgeonly stick in the mud to join in the spirit? I like to think not, but then I would, wouldn't I?
I once saw a small ball being marketed as being especially useful as a toy because it 'help to encourage and develop eye-hand co-ordination'. Well, goodness me. What vast strides forward are being made in toy technology. Oh, and toys must these days be 'educational'. That youngsters might actually simply enjoy them for themselves is irrelevant. I feel I ought to go an lie down for an hour or two.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dreaming of losing my teeth — very unwelcome I'm a-Freud

I had an odd dream last night: all my teeth started falling out one by one. A girl at work said it was a sex dream, a dream expressing the fear that you are no longer sexually attractive. Perhaps. I must admit that I haven't consciously considered whether or not I am still sexually attractive. We're all a little vain, but I don't think about myself and my looks very often at all.
I do know that at my age jumping into bed with a woman without just a little time - a little flirting time - would be something close to a disaster. I haven't had sex in almost ten years, and although I know quite a few of the tunes, I would need a little time to tune up.
The other trouble is that, for example, the women I fancy at work are all at least 20 years younger than me, and not in a million years would they consider me as a potential sexual partner. There is one writer, a raddled old piece who most certainly looks older than she is because she looks about 90 but cannot yet be 90, who for a few days kept making cow eyes at me when she first joined, but that rapidly ended when she realised that in her I simply was not interested. I shan't give you her name, but she spent, or better, misspent a large number of years in the 70s and 80s as a showbiz correspondent out in California and looks as though she crammed about 100 years worth of partying into 20 years. She has not aged well.
Anyway, as I was saying the sweeties I am interested in (and I am sure it has never occurred to them that I might be) wouldn't look at me in a million years. Hence, I should imagine, my dream about losing my teeth.

Friday, May 8, 2009

On holidays and looking forward to time off

Holiday plans might well be taking shape, thank God, because I need a break. First off, I have sold the travel desk on a piece about going on a cruise on a freight ship. I knew they used to do them, but was surprised by how many freight lines still do them. Anyone curious should google and research.
As a rule, freight vessels which do take a passengers take about 12. Voyages tend to be long rather than short - I've even come across some 63-day long voyages. Accommodation is said to be quite good as is the food. Of course, the vessel is primarily a freight vessel so entertainment will be the books you bring with you and the conversations you might have with fellow passengers.
Rather than try to blag a freebie from individual freight lines, I have been in touch with a company in London which organises cruises, and they have already been back with several suggestions. The slight problem in my case is that I couldn't take too much time off work, so the cruise I take would have to be short. So far they are going to find out from a French company which, among other routes, sails weekly to Martinique. The voyage takes 11, so I should imagine that will be there and back. Then there is a Swedish company which does a round trip from England to Ireland to Scotland to Sweden, then back. And another company which does it's business in the Med. See what turns up.
Then there is my cousin's wedding blessing ceremony in August here in St Breward (I was a witness at his wedding in Hong Kong back in January), which will be followed by another party in his home village in Bordeaux, to which I am also invited.
Finally, in my ongoing campaign to get my younger brother to take a break, he and I are most likely to be off to Istanbul in September to stay with our sister whose husband was posted there last year.
Thinking about it all and the paid time off I can take, I suspect that however much I should like to go, I shall not be able to make the wedding knees-up in Bordeaux in August. Shame. For one things it would cost far too much to go there.
On a final note, my giving up the booze for a while to try to lose a little weight while I am still able to is coming along quite nicely, except I wouldn't mind having the occasional glass of wine. But I have told myself it won't be until the end of June, so I must stick to it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

There's one born every minute

Got home last Wednesday and took to my bed these past two days with a cold. Trouble is that what with the general panic about 'swine flu' and the vast number of cases so far around the world, a staggering 207, I believe, my wife is convinced that I have caught the virus and has more or less quarantined me. There is no persuading her that I haven't got 'swine flu' (the quote marks are intended to convey irony), but I should like to take this opportunity to point out to a gullible world that every year around the world 500,000 people die of ordinary, human flu. So let's keep things a little in perspective, shall we? Furthermore, 'pandemic' does NOT mean that it is twice as worrying or anything of that kind, merely that it is popping up everywhere, in the sense that stupidity of 'pandemic'.