Assorted Thoughts & Various Bits

• Six thoughts from Pete Waterman about pop music
• Good stuff always gets overwhelmed by crap. In a market place where you’ve got so much music, it gets less filtered. Occasionally we get moments where spin takes over from taste, but it only ever last five minutes and people move on. At the end of the day, the customer can't be duped.
• The reality [of the music business] isn't like Blur vs Oasis at all. Steps outsold all of them and that never gets reported. Blur vs Oasis was just another five minutes in time.
• Digital has made music far more accessible. The downside is that there’s more crap available. There’s a ridiculous amount of stuff available on YouTube and MySpace, and none of it is very good.
• I heard a fantastic interview with a film director – I forget who - who said “the idea now is that digital technology means everyone can make movies. It's like saying every who can write is Shakespeare”
• I like musicians, but I don't like programmed drums. It's not technology that makes music, it’s the guy using technology who makes music.
• But what's the point of music if you’re not being creative? Most of the time people are making collages. There’s nothing wrong with collages, but you need paintings as well.
• The Genealogy of a Grudge. By Anonymous
I’m not usually one to harbour grudges. Nor am I a violent man. But people look a little surprised whenever the name of a former boss is mentioned, because I tell them I’d happily punch him in the face if he walked through the door.
My grudge started off as a minor one. On the day I resigned from my job, I went to see the manager I’d barely known to explain that it was nothing to do with him or his ridiculous policies (I was lying through my teeth). While still shaking my hand, he looked over my shoulder and asked someone what they were looking at on their computer.
At the time, I just put it down as blatant rudeness that justified my resignation. But then I spoke to some of his other ex-colleagues, and an ugly pattern emerged, mainly of how he’d stabbed people in the back to climb up the ladder. One female friend even said he’d cornered her in the office kitchen and suggested she got herself pregnant so he didn’t have to sack her. There were no witnesses. So now I really mean it when I say I want to punch him in the face.
The funny thing is, I saw him the other day. He was crossing the road, talking on the phone in luvvy-duvvy tones to his wife and kids. My inner liberal came out again. He is human after all, I thought.
So I didn’t punch him. I just whispered “cunt” in his ear as I walked past.
• Elements of Customer Service Discourse: “Yourself
It's amusing but also quite depressing how customer services make a pretence of empowering their customers when all they really end up doing is patronising them. I mean particularly how it's become the norm for call centre employees or shop assistants to refer to you as “yourself” instead of just “you” in commercial transactions, eg, “If I can take long number on the credit card from yourself”; “we’ll dispatch the handset to yourself this afternoon”; or indeed, “if you can forward the email to myself.” Is the “yourself”/”myself” register designed to infer a higher level of respect, a kind of semantic bowing & scraping, as if calling someone “you” is taking a bit of a liberty, and thus having the potential to result in Retail Rage?
Either way, I get the impression it’s one of those marketing tics that has become so deeply embedded in the popular vernacular that it’s no longer noticed, let alone remarked upon. But still, it just comes across as insincere and even more cold and wary than the conversation already is. What’s wrong with “you” and “me”? I doubt anyone wants to be called “mate” by the person they’re buying, say, some new pants from. Nor, I suppose, do most us feel the need to be referred to as “sir”. But all this “-self” stuff smacks of a David Brentish urge to dress up language in pompous and usually transparent layers of false modesty, if you ask myself. By Kevin Braddock
Romantic Strategies. By Simon Connor
Women see pizza restaurants, bars, flowers and chocolates as a lack of effort and originality. But it can be fixed. I’ve compiled some things from my personal experience that can add a bit of originality to a date, showing you have put in extra effort (though not that much).
Lust Letter
Everyone likes receiving a letter in the post or a card at Christmas, it just makes a welcome change from spam and boring bills. Contact one of her friends to find out her address and send her an invitation to go out on a date by letter - complete with RSVP and full agenda for the evening. Women love for you to be prepared so that they can concentrate on worrying about what to wear, not where to turn up. Just include a “Yes, I’d love to…” or “I graciously decline…” response (inside an SAE) that she can post straight back to you, with little effort.
The Market
It’s a fact, women love to shop. Take her to a quirky market like Deptford, Spitalfields or Alfie’s. There are always loads of things to see and talk about. You will stumble across something she likes that you can buy as a present. It goes down really well.
London Zoo
Zoos have a surprising amount of things going for them. There are plenty of opportunities to see defecating, shagging, cute and calamity animals to make her laugh. If you make it to the penguins at feeding time, she will fall in love with you instantly.
Zoo Hint: find out her favourite animal and call upon it later. At London Zoo you can adopt animals as presents - it takes next to no effort, just a trip to the website. Easy. Plus they put her name at the enclosure which tees you up for another easy date.
Pick up a disposable camera on your way to meet your date and spend the evening taking photos of weird things and each other as you walk around and visit bars. This makes a cool present when you see her again - and you will, because she’ll definitely want to see the photos.
Don’t underestimate the power of the homemade. It shows you put some effort into something prior to 15 minutes before you go out, and it goes down a treat. Pick up a cake mix from Tesco and some fashion glossies, cut out cool pictures to make a collage card. It doesn’t matter if it turns out a pile of crap.
Homemade hint: Learn to wrap. Using the glossies, pull out whole pages to wrap small presents. They make great alternatives wrapping paper and look awesome.
Simon Connor works at Not Actual Size
• Death & Fishing: Correspondence on angling, appetite and etiquette from around the world
From Jamie, Jersey: “Took the boy fishing yesterday morning - on the pier because it was stormy as fuck. We were drenched after about three minutes and didn't stay long. On the way back down the pier we saw a proper fisherman. He threw a dogfish at us. I mean, he asked if we wanted it first and I went SURE, you know, so we'd pretend we'd caught it. So it landed near me and was completely fucking alive. I got it to the car and put it in a carrier bag.
When I got home and we played our “Look what we caught” prank I was horrified to see the fucking fish was still happy as fucking Larry and still not dead. WTF. So I put it in the bath. I hooked the bag handles over the tap and filled the bag up with water while I planned my next move. I checked the internet but it said dogfish (which are actually catfish) are a real pain in the arsehole to eat. Skinning them is the problem. SO I was all Fuck That even though I fancied eating it. If I had caught it I would have eaten it. So it was alive in the bag and when I went in the bathroom it would stick its head out, I didn't like that. There was no way of getting it back to the sea, I mean, I'm not going to drive around with a carrier bag full of water and thrashing fish, you know?
In the end I just let the water drain out of the bag and then left the fish to die. Then I put it in the bin.”

From Emily, China: “Yesterday was a funny old day. We all headed out to a reasonably remote part of the Great Wall and stopped for lunch at a little local restaurant in the countryside. The restaurant owner, a tiny old woman, did the standard thing of making M choose his own fish from the tanks outside, pulling it out and sticking it in a box, all flopping round, for him to approve. It was a massive sturgeon, maybe two feet long. She then threw it on the ground and started bashing it around the head with the blunt side of a shovel. It wasn't dying so she handed M the shovel and made him have a few bashes. He was clearly very uncomfortable with this but she was shouting and urging him on. But he couldn't kill it either so in the end she had to finish it off. By the time it came to the table he couldn't eat it. Sorry, didn't take any pictures.”
• Really Short Story
Jonny Deck rang. It was 6.23pm Friday.
“Bro,” he said. “What's going on with That Girl you're seeing?”
“I don't know,” I said.
Jonny Deck is a dancer/builder/cyclist, I am a writer/occasional triathlete.
“Let's ride 100 miles tomorrow,” he said.
“Done,” I said. “But let's go to the pub tonight.”
On the way to the pub, the phone bleeped. That Girl was not around this weekend.
Jonny Deck was at the bar.
“Let’s ride 200 miles tomorrow,” I said.
“Done,” he said, raising his glass.
The weekend was arranged.