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Archive for March, 2009

The General Public and Telescopes

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Dear Rachel,

I have latterly arrived at the conclusion that while the general public are a harmless and usually quite friendly bunch, the majority of them spend the greater part of their lives in one of two states: bafflement, or surprise. When dealing with them in a casual retail environment, which is what we spend a lot of time doing, it is best to imagine them to be a large coach party of special needs children on a day out. In fact, I sometimes think that Britain is a sixty million seater Sunshine Variety coach on its way to the seaside for a day of dropped ice creams and tragic bonhomie. An example at Tony’s antique stall at Greenwich last Saturday will illustrate this.

Tony’s stall offers for sale antique pocket watches, sundials, telescopes, and bakelite rotary dial telephones with the lovely purring noise that now Belongs to History. It is the telescopes with which we are primarily concerned. Tony pointed out to me in an exasperated fashion how people would pick up the telescopes – which it is worth pointing out, are clearly marked as telescopes – extend them, in the way you might well do when about to use a telescope, and then look at something right in front of them. I saw more than one person testing a telescope by looking through it at their hands. ‘It’s a telescope, not a contact lens‘ you want to shout ‘Look at something far away.’ I fully expectwd someone to hand one back to him and complain that it tasted funny. It’s a good job there was a better understanding of what telescopes actually do in the Age of Exploration, or Sir Francis Drake would have sailed round and round Plymouth harbour, endlessly discovering stuff that was three feet away.

[Making Read More your bitch will reveal more reluctant voyeurism on the Underground and tales of automotive deprivation)

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Making Your House Look Possessed

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Dear Rachel

Greenwich Market is great for dogs, and I saw a lovely one at the weekend. It was a largish Jack Russel terrier which was sharing a buggy with a small child. I was drawn to the animal’s remarkable sang-froid, which it maintained despite having it’s ears chewed enthusiastically by its happily toothless infant companian. The dog’s expression was the same as that which might fall across the face of someone pausing by the front door, trying to remember if they’ve put their keys in their bag or left them on the kitchen table. It was certainly happy enough – I got the impression that this sort of thing happened to him a great deal – but seemed to be aware of some inner wolf howling at him and wondering why he wasn’t running with the rest of the pack in an Alpine forest somewhere. The child seemed at times to be trying to climb into his hairy friend, with whom he would celebrate kinship by hugging him on the face. Later, I saw a mongrel called Bisto fighting a carrot on Nelson Road. Dogs are excellent.

[Slapping Read More now will reveal further dog secrets, and how to make a small house in Reading appear to be possessed by Satan]

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Antisocial Networking

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Dear Rachel

Sunday evenings usually consist of piling into the Duke of Wellington public house on Toynbee Street after trading to rest, recuperate, and in my case, bully food out of androgynous ladyfaced girlboy Chris, with his lovely soft skin like a baby deer. Most of the early evening is taken up with putting the world to rights. By nine o’clock, the world is completely righted and we can start on the other planets. By chucking out time we have Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury pretty much done and dusted. If Uncle Vinny, who runs the place, ever gets a 24hr licence, it is entirely possible that we would not go home for several days, and just emerge blinking and hungover one Thursday morning to give a press conference in return for tea and fried egg sandwiches, when we have discovered the meaning of life and the existence of God.

[Hitting up on Read More will reveal Facebook observations among other things]

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All Aboard The Groovy Train

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Dear Rachel,

I was on the Northern Line the other day, going from London Bridge to Camden Town, when I encountered one of the most distressing of all London Underground species: Spontaneous Comedy People. These are usually drama students or something who see it as their mission to entertain everyone on the entire carriage. They are the poor relations of flashmobbers, who are in turn the poor relations of self satisfied fucktards. Well, some flashmobs are alright. I liked the Tony Hart one, which was a lovely thing. But mainly all flashmobbers want to do is show you what a simply marvelous time they are having. Look at those ones on the T Mobile ad, all dancing at Liverpool Street Station. Al Queda must be kicking themselves, as if they had chosen that day to blow the place up instead of July 7th, Bin Laden would be Prime Minister by now.

Flashmobbers remind me of the aunt at the birthday party when you are about 11 who keeps trying to make you dance to Toploader when really all you want to do is sit quietly all evening without having to be seen doing anything at all. In fact, Dancing In The Moonlight would be an ideal theme tune for a flashmob, as it is probably the most hatefully smug song ever written, with it’s horrible door bell plinky plinky bit at the beginning. In 2002, I walked out on a first date with a girl who had it as a ringtone, on the very correct assumption that the relationship needed to be strangled at birth. I think I said that I was a diabetic and had left my insulin in the car, feeling that this was unromantic enough to kill the atmosphere without being overly gross, and made my exit post haste. I actually slightly have vague diabetes – I’m more of a diabetic sympathiser than an actual diabetic – but I don’t need insulin supplements in any format. I also don’t have a car, so it was a pretty big fib.

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