Thursday, 4 March 2010

Here we go again

I always seem to pick late nights when I'm in a slightly irritable mood to come on here and spill my typographical guts. It probably helps stimulate the part of my brain that craves spreading my less-than-ideal mood to the masses in whatever little way I can manage (seeing as how I don't have a death-metal band yet, I figure this is the next best thing).

Non-committal is pretty depressing, especially when it hits you in large doses (he says, at risk of upsetting his entire friend group). Fact is, individual cases are pretty reasonable (mostly) but when you get a veritable cascade of invitation turn-downs in the space of a few hours, and lose your wallet, it makes for a somewhat repressed dose of endorphins swilling around in one's grey-matter.

Three years ago I could've quite happily spent entire weeks by myself with only my own brain for company and occasional surreal conversation; but times move on and I quickly realised my brain was pretty malicious and probably had a sinister hidden vendetta which I'd best stay out of the way of.

Also, people can, on occasion, be good company.

I suppose what might actually help at this point is to wade headlong into a crowd of rowdy shoppers at some nondescript and utterly typical shopping-centre or other. I can picture it now... hordes of barely-literate, greasy, overweight mothers throwing their children around with one hand whilst furiously keeping hold of their supersized Coke with the other, all the while screaming furiously at little "Wayne" to "FUCKING SHUT UP" (pronunciation of the "t" in "shut" purely optional). That'd make me miss people significantly less.

Whilst this is a total, massive, sweeping generalisation (in the same way that all American people have double figure IQs, and all role-players need to grow up and get a life) it is true that I find large herds of people something of a drain. This probably makes me sound like an utter sociopath (which I may be) but since you've either never met me, or have met me and already realised this, I see no problem with stating the issue explicitly.

Dumb Britain, for those of you cultured enough to read Private Eye, is possibly the greatest example of human thick-headedness this side of climate-change deniers. Every issue it publicises some remarkable examples of thickery from the world of game shows.

Case in point:
Anne Robinson on Weakest Link: "The traditional wording of The Lord's Prayer asks that we be delivered from what?"
Contestant: "Our daily bread".

A mentally retarded Sea-Monkey could've put in a less ridiculous guess. Here's another one from the slightly more intellectual Mastermind:
John Humphrys: "Which insect gets its name from the ancient superstition that they crawled into people's ears while they were asleep?"
Contestant: "Ants".

Anyway, I do enjoy a good laugh at the expense of the less intellectually favoured- mostly because I really think intelligence is as much down to effort as anything else. Most people who are dumb, are dumb because they're lazy. That's a character flaw worth laughing at because God knows it's never going to be useful for anything else.

One other thing I'd like to mention tonight, which has little if anything to do with what I've just spoken about, is plastic bags.

Ok- now you've got over the jarring discontinuity in this narrative, I'll qualify my statement by saying that a MASSIVE social stigma has arisen regarding the use of plastic bags. Supermarkets are at each other's bulging capitalist throats over which one of them has forced the most customers away from the flimsy little carriers and onto more sustainable, and brown, re-usable bags.

I take issue with this for two reasons. Firstly, for a supermarket to say they have a good environmental record from the number of plastic bags saved, is a bit like a mass-murderer claiming rehabilitation by pointing out that he only severely injures people now, and has stopped actual killing. Plastic bags are thin, mostly totally pathetically weak, highly compressible, and mostly now bio-degradable items that I imagine sensibly contribute about as much to landful as used knitting needles and maybe dice. Think how little difference it makes whether or not there's a bag in amongst all the waste that gets hurled into the crushing jaws of the rubbish lorry. They're largely insignificant.

What IS significant is the inordinate amount of food packing thrust improperly onto the consumer when they buy some Jammie Dodgers or Lemon Slices. Trays, in bags, in boxes, in bigger boxes... It's too much, it's ugly, and it means you have to physically beat your way into some items using a crowbar. THAT is a real problem, and something worth boasting about if you sort it out.

My second huge issue is that, for all the hype about reusable thick chunky plastic bags or cloth bags, they make pretty crap bin-liners. Or temporary food storage units. Or ANYTHING other than a carrying device.

The humble plastic carrier is SO MUCH MORE than just a shopping receptacle. It's perfect for stuffing in little litter bins as liners, which can then be thrown away as a nice, whole, transportable unit. They're also great for keeping food in outside the back door when your fridge packs in. You simply don't want to be doing this kind of thing with a bag that costs actual money to replace. You don't prop doors open with Fabergé eggs....................... which is a ridiculously over-the-top comparison but I don't care. Not at this hour.

In conclusion class, we've learned today that a lot of people are very very stupid, and that plastic bags are amazing and you should feel no shame in using them when you go to Sainsburys next.

Finally, if anyone finds my wallet I will be their eternal friend and buy them a drink.



  1. to defend the plastic bag crusade:

    1stly: how many plastic bags are in your house atm? We have more than enough for a years supply of bin bags, it would be disingenuous to claim all shopping bags get re-used in such a fashion.

    2ndly: plastic bags are a highly visible item, to refuse to hand them out for "environmental" reasons has primarily a psychological influence, for the consumer and retailer it is a reminder of environmental awareness, although for the retailer it is obviously primarily a piece of marketing asserting an ethical awareness at 0 cost

  2. !st point- Actually our supply of bags is rapidly diminishing since we've tried using re-usable ones. A balance would clearly be the prudent option.

    2nd point- Exactly. Why put in effort when you can make a visible, token, meaningless gesture?

  3. 1st if you need bags, come over sometime we can give you loads :)

    Because a company can make small almost irrelevant gestures without going out of business, if it gives them more custom, they can make other gestures:

    Semen parvum parvum gramen
    Promit, maius deinde stamen,
    Post messoribus solamen
    Fit frumentum

    for you intellectual snobs out there!