Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Coffin resale values?

For reasons I won't go deeply into - beyond commenting that there seems to be a great deal of it about at the moment, I was having a Chat with Mrs Grumbler, her mother and her sister about death the other day.

It's odd, isn't it, that when the bony bloke with the scythe is expected to pay a call on someone you care about, you can still find things that are funny.

Where are you intending to spend eternity? Obviously, somewhere quiet is ideal, but where? Likely resting places for the ashes of our nearest and dearest included the sea (too much chance of being dragged up in a Spanish Trawlerman's net), outer space (already too crowded) and a jar on the mantle-piece from which you could forever imagine the nagging voice of an elderly relative complaining "It's bloody hot in here!" (ruled out by the still-living). Personally, for a guaranteed undisturbed eternity, I favour an urn placed behind a row of bottles of Alcohol-Free lager in any supermarket in the North East of England.

Then, we moved on to discussing appropriate music for a funeral service. The Lord's My Shepherd is very popular, I'm given to understand, but I have always rather fancied the idea of my mortal remains (some considerable time in the future) rolling away to the Stranglers' "No More Heroes". Pretentious, Moi? Apparently, the song which deceased persons request more than any other (presumably before the moment of their passing) is "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Nice.

Then we got on to coffins. Great big wooden boxes, lined with padded silk, polished to perfection, and adorned with more gleaming brasswork that the collected front doors of the Royal Crescent in Bath. All for the purpose of conveying the recently departed into the fiery maw of the crematorium furnace. What (as Ian Dury sang, but in an entirely different context) A Waste.

Clearly, eco-friendliness suggests, no, demands, that such squandering of resources be stopped. But how to replace it? No-one wants to go to their eternal rest in a plastic bag and, in any case, these will soon join the list of objects banned in the UK along with Handguns, Cigarettes, Recreational Pharmaceuticals and Parmesan Cheese[1] and thus it will be illegal to possess, consume or traffic in them. On the grounds of taste, we wont discuss the disadvantages of paper bags.

But why shouldn't coffins be re-used? Tip out the contents and deal with as appropriate, then bung an ad in the local free paper. Give as much information as possible, as some folk are going to be (unaccountably) particular about this.

"Coffin for sale. Three previous owners (occupants?) - all old ladies. Only ever used for visits to Church. Supporting documentation available"

Proving, ultimately, that it doesn't matter whether you're flogging a box, or a Bentley - its vitally important to maintain a Service History if you want to minimise depreciation.

[1] Wishful thinking on my part, unfortunately. Detestable stuff.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Help, I'm being stalked!

I suppose it was inevitable that I'd irritate someone at some point, but I never expected it to be so soon in my career as a miserable-git-blogger!

I am, it seems, being stalked by a TXT messager... Her name's Siobhan and, if I had to guess (never having seen her), I'd say she's probably about 13 years old.

This all started on a Saturday a few weeks back when, while having a lunchtime pint with my father down at the pub, I received a message on my phone: "Heya howz u then". Now, quite apart from the atrocious spelling, I feel that this message is missing, at the least, a comma and a question mark. It also came from a number I didn't recognize, so I ignored it - for a while.

Once I had completed my filial socializing activities, I took myself off in my little red hairdresser's car, topless (I refer to the car's top, obviously, I have no intention of scaring anyone by exposing my own impressive set of moobs and besides which it was February and my raspberries would have frozen off). Remembering the message while driving home, I carefully located a place where it was safe to pull over, switch off engine and apply handbrake before getting the dog out of my sky and inquiring thusly in a suitable TXT idiom:

"I regret to inform that your number seems not to be in my directory. Pray tell, who are you?"

The reply came almost instantaneously:

"Who dis x".

Having blatantly ignored the question I put, and retorted instead with one of their own (also somewhat punctuationally deficient) I began to wonder if, perhaps, my mysterious correspondent was an American. However, I'm not at all sure that I have ever had a message adorned with a trailing kiss from any of my transatlantic friends.

"I am the person to whom you have just sent a text message." I retorted - staying remarkably cool in the face of provocation, I thought.

By return I received "How did u get my number". Things were becoming less opaque by the moment - I was clearly dealing with a Lack-wit. (In the same way that many Americans are unable to tell the difference, based on speech patterns, between the English and Australians, so a small but significant section of the English are often hard pressed to tell the difference - based solely on speech patterns - between an American and a Lack-wit. Should the penultimately identified individual be wearing a baseball cap backwards, there is actually no difference.)

"I have your number as an inevitable consequence of you initiating this exchange by virtue of having sent me a message."

"Dis is siobhan who r u x"

Evidently, if I was to get home before freezing to death by the side of the road, another tactic was required. So, I dialed the number and spoke to the confused individual at the end of the line - explaining the sequence of events, and advising her that she had, in fact, been sending messages to an incorrect number. Happy to have resolved the conundrum, I continued home, safe in the knowledge that I'd get no more incomprehensible messages. Mistake.

The messages have continued, and have been rather entertaining. Over a week or so they have included

"Howz u hun love ya xxxx bm4l xxx cya soon xxxxxxx".
"Nite x tb x"
"Hey wat u at tmb"
"Hi bbe how r u tmb x

I've actually had to find a 'teenage txt speak translator to even understand one or two. As a public service, here it is - type a confusing abbreviation in the box, and it'll do its best to enlighten you:

No Slang

I do feel rather sad for the object of Siobhan's affection who clearly isn't getting all of his (or her) messages - so I have left her anther message to let her know...

Touch wood, all has been quiet since... though next time I get a message I'll send her this URL...

The VISTA Acroynm - Audience Participation

OK, I'm not, in a million years, gonna 'dis' a large organization which has more lawyers than I've had hot dinners, but I did recently buy a new personal computer. Ive spent a little time (when I wasn't trying to get the godforsaken piece of cr*p to install and run a simple program) wondering how much more pleasurable my experience would have been if the unnamed organization diverted some of its lawyer-spend into obtaining a few top class Quality Assurance Engineers (or maybe even a couple of half-wits testing for an afternoon might make a difference).

You may feel that I'm, perhaps, a little upset by or that this posting is in some way inspired by the preceding admission on my part. I couldn't possibly confirm or deny such an assertion, should you make it...

Anyway, if we were to assume that the word VISTA is in fact an 'extended-extended-TLA'[1], what, in fact, could it be an acronym for? I shall start the ball rolling here, but plead for my readers to contribute by adding comments - the best of which I shall move into the main body of the post. Don't be shy, stick your name in the comment so I can 'attribute' correctly.

  • Verifiably Infuriating, System Trashed Absolutely
  • Violence Inducing Systematically Toxic Appliance (thanks PC!)
  • Venerially Infectious Sexually Transmitted Abhorrence
  • Vicar, I've Shagged The Altar-Boy
  • Very Important Software To Avoid
  • Vacuous, Inadequate, Substandard, Trashy Abomination
  • Viciously, I've Strangled The Authors
  • Victory! I've Switched To Apple!
Right, Over to you lot. Bring 'em on!

[1] extended-extended-Three-Letter-Acronym