Monthly Archives: February 2013

DBTG who… likes the English national anthem

The 6 nations rugby tournament is one of the few good thing about February.  It’s too cold and miserable to enjoy your life and there’s nothing much to look forward to in the immediate future.  You’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to go outside without a jacket, and this year, it won’t stop fucking snowing.  So it is nice that there is some decent sport on television for once.  When it is played at the highest level, rugby union is almost uniquely compelling viewing, and we are treated to watching our national team play against good opposition every year.  Ignoring the weekends where the rugby takes a break for FA cup matches, such as the absorbing prospect of Millwall vs Blackburn in the 6th round (try to remain calm), it is a really great excuse to stay indoors all afternoon.

The one downside to the 6 nations (aside from getting caught up in a discussion about why the FA cup doesn’t just call the 6th round a quarter-final round like every other knockout competition ever devised), is that I find myself being “forced” to listen to other country’s national anthems, and being reminded how great they are in comparison to our own. Take the unnecessarily pugnacious Italian anthem, which ends with every Italian shouting

“We’re ready to die,

Italia has called. YES!”

It’s pretty morbid and we aren’t actually at war, but the song never fails to stir something in me.  I don’t actually care about Italy, but dammit, I can respect the passion of the people who do.  You get to yell and everything at the end, it’s great.

In England it’s pretty much unheard of for people to dislike the national anthem, even though it is the musical equivalent of pond sludge.  It is slow, dull and pointless.  For a start, it is almost 400 years old (although the words king and queen have alternated over that time), and was written at a time when all English people were furiously trying to commit themselves to a life of non-enjoyment while fervently worshipping a god who kept hitting them with bubonic plague.  The dreary, monotonous hymns you had to sing in school assembly (“..To be a pilgrim.” et al) are based on the same, barren style of painful commitment.  It really has no bearing on any of the last 50 years, at least.  If the song appeared for the first time today (with no-patriotic lyrics), I genuinely think that everyone in the world would hate it

Footballers are regularly lambasted for not singing along when the national dirge is played at the start of matches. Now, maybe they don’t know the words (#cheapdig) but more likely they just don’t want to sing some total shit song.  And I for one empathise with them on this.  I don’t sing the anthem under any circumstances, just as I don’t sing hymns or shitty x-factor pop guff.  If you want me to get involved, it has to be a good song, or at least mean something to me.

“Hold on,” you say, “the NATIONAL ANTHEM doesn’t mean anything to you?”  Correct.  I am somewhat patriotic – I support all British athletes, but I stop short of hating foreign people, and I am not afraid to criticise British things that are stupid.  I’d like to think this is an appropriate level of patriotism.  But let’s get something straight, I don’t believe in god (at least, not the one in the song), and I don’t see the point in the queen. So why should I sing about them both?  I don’t hate the queen, I hope she lives a long and happy life, which I also wish on everyone else in the world.  I also think that she is in a far better position to do so than almost every single person who has ever lived, simply because of some hereditary privilege, which I think is out of order.

I hope that when the queen inevitably dies (in the long distant future), we as a nation take the opportunity to replace the national anthem.  I’d actually prefer to do it today, but I suspect a new monarch will be the only catalyst that will actually allow this change to happen.  Hopefully, the new song will be interesting, relevant and something myself and my premier league footballing chums can muster up the desire to sing and shout along to.  It would make the 6 nations more interesting, anyway.

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DBTG who… doesn’t close the door in the toilet

 

I can only assume this is a male thing, as I have zero experience in ladies’ toilets.

 

You don’t need (or want, I assume) to know too many details here, but every day, normally more than once, I find myself needing a sit-down moment while at work.  I spend most of my work day sat at a desk, but this sitting down is… not at a desk.  I hope we’re all on the same page here.

It is an unusual, though sadly not that unusual occurrence for me to walk into a cubicle, belt half-undone and already loading up “words with friends” on my phone, only to find that there is already a person in the cubicle. Mercifully, they have always been standing with their back to the entrance, but they know I’m there, and there’s no easy way out (apart from silently backing away, which i physically easy enough, but emotionally quite harrowing).  A state of egress is an extremely private one, and gentlemen do not wish to share it with anyone, particularly not at close quarters. 

I really don’t get understand your decision process that leads me to this situation. Why not just close the door anyway?  That is, after all, the best way to stop this from happening.  When I go to the bathroom, I’m normally in something of a rush, and I’m not interested in proceeding with caution.  If the door is open, the toilet appears vacant and I’m going in.  It is entirely your responsibility to warn me ahead of time. 

As adults can we please take a piss with the door closed?  Last week I wandered in on my boss in this situation.  I told him to close the “fucking door” next time, but he still acted like it was my fault.  I probably shouldn’t swear at my boss, but sometimes I think it is fully justified, like right now. 

DBTG who… makes a “Harlem Shake” meme video

It’s always a risk writing a blog about memes, I think.  You run an inherent risk of being late to the party, and even if you aren’t, it is entirely possible that your blog will be read by someone in 3 weeks time, and will seem hopelessly out of date.  Hopefully, by hating on the meme early doors, this post can enjoy some longevity…

For those who don’t know (is there anyone?), the Harlem Shake meme is based around a song of the same name by an artist called Baauer.  The artist is not well known, but 7-8 months after releasing the song, people started posting videos of themselves dancing along to it, and his fame has skyrocketed from a position of total obscurity to, well, being blogged about by me.  Time will tell if he can surpass that questionable accolade.

It seems to be something of a trend now for dance videos to meme (yes it’s a verb) unexpectedly.  PSY’s “Gangnam style” did incredibly well last year, while LMFAO had everyone shuffling along to “Party Rock Anthem”.  For any major record label executives hoping to tap into this zeitgeist, I have provided a handy, free checklist to aid your decisions:

  • The song must be by a formerly unheard of artist.  They will then have 15 minutes of fame from this song, probably meeting several world leaders as a direct result, and then people will grow bored of them.  Do not waste your top talent hunting the meme.
  • The dance must be out of fashion and ideally, geographically specific.  The Harlem Shake originated in… New York (!) and the Melbourne shuffle was resurrected by LMFAO.  I can only assume that stablemaids in Seoul have been horse-dancing for many years prior to PSY’s hi-jack of the style. Whatever.

Those of you who know me will probably know that I actually rather like the first two songs and videos.  This may elicit a wave of hostile comments (assuming I have readers, which I don’t), but both were very good pop songs.  Don’t be musically elitist and tell me they don’t play their own instruments or some bollocks like that, no one cares.  They had hooks as catchy as chlamydia and other alliterative associations besides.  As a bonus, PSY’s song was even more loved because the white people who spend time on the internet were all terrified that if they didn’t like the song it would make them racist.  Embracing it allowed them to say they’d “given K-pop a fair go” and sound a bit more worldly.  As a result, I spent time practicing the dance moves in the mirror, elected not to video myself doing them out of better judgement, then lost track of said judgement at friends’ weddings (for some reason) and did them in public anyway. Oh well.

I can only assume that the people who claim not to like the songs were the last to hear them, and reacted typically by proclaiming them overhyped and lame.  That may well be what I’m doing right now, but on the other hand, the song by Baauer objectively sucks.  It goes nowhere, is lyrically all but totally vacant and driven by an unevolving bassline which brings up haunting memories of the notorious brown note.  Seriously, take a listen to the actual song, and see if you can make it all the way through the 3 minutes.  I didn’t.

So please, don’t go out and make a video of yourself dancing to this.  Even if it’s a good song that would be crass, and it isn’t that.  We could all get together and shake at Graem’s wedding, I suppose, but that would mean we have to listen to that noise for 3 minutes. 

Uh-oh, did I just refer to music as noise? Shit, I’ve just become my Dad.

DBTG who… asks about my skiing holiday

Some people aren’t going to get this.

I don’t mean to be rude.  I’m glad that you’re taking an interest, and trying to engage me in conversation.  Thank you for filling the silences that take hold whenever I find myself stuck in a lift with someone.  But please, let’s not have this discussion AGAIN.

British people love skiing holidays.  It is not a sport restricted only to British people, or even one that they are any good at, but it certainly seems to suit them best of all.  Where else could we go to spend the day in a state of serious discomfort, as frostbite permeates our extremities and our feet are wedged into a pair of poorly-fitting boots for 6 hours a day, causing muscle spasms in our lower back? Where else can engage in our national past-time (queuing) while waiting for a lift, get inexplicably badly sunburnt, and then spend the evening getting riotously drunk?  These are all states of being that British people not only endure, but actively seek out.  And above all else, it is perfect fuel for our favoured topic of conversation: The Weather (hint: it’s snowing).

I went skiing recently (did I mention that?).  I did all the above, apart from getting particularly drunk.  However, while everything about the holiday was great, the week before (and so far the week after) was dreadful.  I have had the exact same conversation about 1,000 times, and have repeated it several times with certain people.  It appears that when you find out someone is going skiing, you MUST ask the following question:

 

“Where are you going?”

 

If the skier doesn’t immediately play ball, and coyly replies “France,” or somewhere else large and vague, you need to nail him down:

 

“Which resort?”

 

At this point, you will have a decision to make.  You can either pretend to have heard of “Le Vallee des chiens”, or admit defeat.  This decision will be made primarily on whether you read about Prince Charles having skied there once.  You don’t actually like Prince Charles, but god damn, the man knows skiing. 

If you think you know the name, you must say “Oh, I’ve heard it’s good there,” which you haven’t actually heard, but this makes people think you know Prince Charles, which is a big deal.  Otherwise, you must ask “is it good there?”  And I will politely tell you it is, and either way the conversation will grind to an awkward halt.

The problem here is a weird one.  Why does everyone follow this line of questioning (and believe me, they always do)?  It doesn’t lead anywhere (because you invariably don’t know anything about the place I’m going), and it’s oddly specific.  No one has asked the name of the hotel I stayed in when I went to Egypt in 2011, because they didn’t care.  But as soon as I mention skis, the rules change somehow? 

Please don’t be that guy, let’s talk about something else.  You have avoided the pratfall that is a weather conversation, but please, be a bit more inventive.  Or just be quiet, that would be fine too. 

This will be the last post about skiing, I promise (for a while at least).

DBTG who… gets in a canoe during a flood

This is not a particularly controversial topic (I hope!), but I may as well start with the low-hanging fruit.  I have recently been on a skiing holiday, and returned to the UK yesterday only to find that it is snowing here (again!).  During these freak weather events, there is a type of person who shows up on local news or on a youtube video.  It is inevitable that next time the country is gripped by heavy rain and flooding, someone will be filmed paddling down the “road” in a canoe, and I am asking you nicely, don’t be that guy.

We get it, you own a canoe.  Why you do so is entirely up to you. Maybe you belong to a kayaking club, or it’s a drunk ebay purchase that has been gathering dust in the shed, we don’t care.  It is perfectly clear that you didn’t buy a canoe in case your road flooded, and you paddling around with a smug grin plastered on your face is doing you no favours at all.  While your neighbours survey enormous amounts of damage to their homes and businesses, you are seeking 15 minutes of internet fame (the lowest kind of fame perhaps excluding blog fame).  You aren’t even going anywhere!  By definition, anywhere that you are trying to get to in your canoe is also flooded, and I doubt that the Co-op will be open under 3 feet of water.  Believe me when I tell you that 100% of all people watching you are pleading with god/fate/forces of nature for you to capsize and contract Weil’s disease.

The same is true of the guy who owns skis, and at the first sight of snow, can be found “skiing” down their local high street.  Such fun!  That 0.5% gradient must be really challenging, and let’s not forget that there’s no ski lift in Swindon, so you’ll be carrying those planks home, assuming you don’t run into a lynch mob (which ideally you will).  I really want you to catch an edge on a concealed kerbstone and just eat total shit in a gravel pit or something. Not because it would be funny to watch (although, trust me, it would be richly comical), I want you to get injured and end up in hospital, because no one can deliver a withering glare quite like an NHS triage nurse, who will let you know that you are a total fucking moron without once opening his or her mouth.  If you gouge the freshly waxed surface of your expensive skis, then so much the better.  Skiing is a hobby that I enjoy as much as you, but there’s a time and place for everything. Please write that down.

By the way, if you are navigating a flood in a motorised boat of some sort and doing something useful like helping elderly residents escape the raging torrents, then you are rightfully exempt from this.  You are doing something good, and please carry on.

If you are doing the same in a sailing boat, or indeed anything in a sailing boat, just stop.  Sailing is a lot like jogging backwards. It’s slow, difficult and almost never the best choice you could have made.  Don’t be that guy.

DBTG who… starts a blog

Well, actually I have just been that guy. Sorry. If you are in any way curious about what this blog is doing here, then read on…

For a good portion of my adult life, I have tried to maintain a positive outlook on life. I tended to give people the benefit of the doubt and be a reasonable person.  However, events of the past year or so have conspired to weaken my resolve and trying to be pleasant (which I was never much good at anyway) has become increasingly difficult.  I’m not going to be nasty, but actively trying to be nice didn’t seem to work out, so here we are.

This blog will be about things in life that I find frustrating, specifically things that people do that I don’t understand and can’t really get behind, though which are ultimately fairly harmless.  I often find myself disagreeing with the world’s consensus view, which is difficult and confusing for me, and this is me letting off steam about it.  Bear in mind that, given this description, you are likely to disagree with me and possibly even think that this is aimed at you.  It is not.  You are welcome to your opinion as I am welcome to mine, and I am not trying to change your mind (though if I do so, I won’t complain either!).  Similarly, where I cite specific examples, it is extremely rare that it is a single isolated situation, so I am probably not referring to you in particular, and if I am, it doesn’t mean I don’t like you, just that we don’t agree on absolutely everything (which you probably already knew).  Maybe this will make you laugh, cry, yell, or just whine about it on your own blog.  If you do any of this, at least I have provoked some sort of reaction and if not, oh well…