Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Who are these people?!

Quiz on the RNIB’s website.

If you see a blind person in the street, you should:

1) Leave them alone
2) Pet their guide dog
3) Ask if they want help
4) Shout to get their attention
Apparently, 26.8% of people (the second highest number) who answered the quiz think they should shout to get the blind person’s attention in the street. What on earth for? To show them their new shoes?


The correct answer is, of course, to leave the person alone unless they look lost or in need of help. I know it’s hard, but resist petting their guide dog first.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

How to go too far

If you have a bad cold and want to annoy hundreds, nay thousands of people who know what influenza is truly like, announce you have the flu on a message board, i.e. sitting at your computer, in front of a bright screen, while complaining of a splitting headache, etc. Don’t forget to malign anyone who suggests you might be overplaying the sympathy card.

If you want to make someone very angry indeed, let people write vicious and unwarranted comments about them on your blog, and leave those comments there so your friends can put links to them on their own moronic blogs. Then, years later, even though that person chose to forget about the earlier incident, write something just as vicious and just as unwarranted about them. Don’t forget to deny having any friendly communication with them in the meantime, in case your friends think you are a hypocrite.

If you have already given birth to one healthy baby and want to insult hundreds, nay thousands of women who cannot have children, call yourself barren.

Congratulations! Now you can also call yourself a

Addendum: You need to do all of the above to qualify. Only one of those things is not enough. Sorry. WinterWheat

Friday, 16 May 2008

Men, give up now!

Rehearsal photo, taken by his daughter Lorca

I’m working again. Yes, I know, I’m supposed to be retired. Yeah, right! Anyway, I’m well-disposed towards everyone at the moment. Well, almost everyone. There is one person out there who deserves to be slapped repeatedly, but ‘elle ne perd rien pour attendre’. The slap, when it comes – and it will come, trust me – will be all the more satisfying for being delayed.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to Leonard Cohen’s concert in July. Just quietly looking forward to it: I hate wishing my life away. I’ve been reading a few accounts (not all - don't want to spoil the surprise) of the concerts that have already taken place in Canada and visiting the lovely forum devoted to the guy. One of the fans, Steve Wilcox, posted this earlier today:

At the third show, during the intermission, I overheard two women agreeing that it wouldn't be fair to expect all men to be like Leonard Cohen. One of them was my wife. I don’t hold it against her.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Happy Birthday, Israel!

Many happy returns of the day!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Life: A User’s Manual*

I have already slapped women who play at being ‘helpless’ (Me, my goat and women), but it’s not just they who expect others to be ‘capable’ and in possession of the user’s manual, is it? Just a certain kind of person, who thinks that those of us who are not fazed by life have some sort of innate knowledge of how things work, of how to find information, etc.

We don’t.

We don’t believe we’re entitled to ‘exploit’ other people, that’s all. We believe we have to spend our own time (not someone else’s) looking for this phone number or that website. We believe we need to speak to helplines or official organisations on our own behalf and ask relevant questions ourselves so we can solve whatever problem we're having. There is no mystery, no special skill. We just get on with it.

Slapping the spongers.

* with apologies to Georges Perec

Monday, 5 May 2008

Too much publicity

Ken Livingstone, the ex-Mayor of London (hooray, he’s gone!) apparently employed 55 PR people. Fifty-five minions to make him appear less of a repulsive individual than he is.

It didn’t work quite, did it? You can fool some of the people...

Boris is busy getting rid of those parasites.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Such a busy little bee

A couple of weeks ago I went to the London Book Fair and I can tell you they’re not joking when they’re talking about a ‘credit crunch’: there were hardly any complimentary goodies to be got this year. It was really pathetic: sweets (what adults eat sweets?), a few crisps, a couple of cheap-looking pens. You can tell how buoyant an industry is by the freebies it gives away at trade fairs.

Still, as usual, I came home with lots of brochures, full of attractive blurbs praising thousands of books, most of which shouldn’t have been published in the first place.

Much* too many books everywhere.

Anyway, about those brochures... I have two in front of me as I type: one is for Gallic Books and the other for Bloomsbury (yes, the publisher of the Harry Potter series; apparently, they haven’t been doing too well since the publication of the last HP, but that's neither here nor there). They both have books in translation on their lists; in fact, Gallic, whose motto is ‘The best of French in English’, only publishes books translated from the French. Yet, one looks in vain for the names of the translators. Not a single one is mentioned in their catalogues.

So, just like most of the texts I’ve worked on in the past 20 years, those books were translated by the Holy Spirit.

I’m slapping him for not raising his hand and shouting, ‘Hey, that’s not my work; so-and-so did it.’ He doesn’t, and translators in this country remain uncredited and unknown.

*Note to the Grammar Police**: I know it should be ‘Far too many books everywhere,’ but it doesn’t sound so funny.

** I’m told I am the Grammar Police.

Update (2.05.08): As it happens, Scott Pack (of the Friday Project), whose blog is so entertaining, recommended one of Gallic Books’ – er – books yesterday, here, without mentioning the translator’s name – obviously, since it’s probably nowhere to be seen. So I repeated my little rant there and, because he is a nice man (I think) and he cares about the written word, he took it seriously here. Thanks, SP!