Archive for March, 2007

The Unexpected Hits You Between The Eyes

Gordon Brown on ‘surprise‘ visit to Afghanistan. Because he is a spontaneous individual, make no mistake.

Does anyone get real surprises these days? I can’t remember the last time anything happened where I immediately thought, ‘well I certainly wasn’t expecting that to happen’.

The problem with surprises is that it is as though the realm of the possible has contracted. British troops get captured by Iranians. Is it that a surprise? Maybe it would be if they had been captured while watching Norwich City playing at home. To be captured while sailing in an area where no agreed maritime boundary exists between Iraq and Iran is not all that surprising.

Similarly, there doesn’t seem to be any surprises in everyday life these days. I was out for dinner in a restaurant last Saturday night, and there was a ‘surprise’ birthday party being held for someone at a few of the other tables. The birthday celebrant came in, saw all her friends and family there proudly assembled, and I watched her as she briefly tried her best to feign surprise. The lack of surprise was almost gloomy.

Even most nasty surprises aren’t really all that much of a surprise. Bad things happen, but they happen within a rather narrow set of possibilities. It would be a nasty and authentic surprise to get mauled by a polar bear when you open your fridge, but to fall ill to some common disease, while certainly nasty, is only a ‘surprise’ because you haven’t entertained the possibility of it happening. In the case of a polar bear ripping you to shreds in your own kitchen, the idea is unlikely to ever have crossed your mind, since it lies well beyond the realm of reasonable probability.

For most of us, with the exception of politicians and debt collectors, even surprise visits are out of the question these days, due to matters of protocol. If you call in on people unannounced, it is because you are fairly sure that they a) will be there; b) they will not have made other plans; and c) they will be happy to see you. And if you can be sure of all three, then you can also be pretty sure that your visit won’t be that much of a surprise at all.

Perhaps it was ever thus.

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb…(Enter Country Here)

The British nightmare is a repeat of the 1979 hostage crisis that humiliated President Jimmy Carter.

So says the BBC’s Paul Reynolds, in a piece purporting to analyse a ‘propaganda war‘ between the British and Iranian governments. Not that the BBC could ever play its part in a propaganda war or anything. The British Broadcasting Corporation rises above such unedifying spectacles. And by unedifying spectacles I don’t mean Dame Edna Everage.

Did I ever tell you about the time a gull perched in silence on my bedroom windowsill? It was a repeat of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Tiswas Or Not Tiswas

Plonked in front of the screen in his private cinema deep within the caves of the Vatican, the last Pope is reported as having said “It is as it was.” after sitting through a showing of epic slasher Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ.

These words were taken to constitute some sort of papal approval of the historical veracity of Gibson’s blood-and-guts fest, when, in fact, a more plausible explanation is that Pope John Paul II had sat in the room in the dark, and then the light was shone on the screen, a flurry of images appeared before his eyes, then, as the film ended, darkness enveloped the room once more. “It is as it was,” said the Pope, to the rejoicing of anti-Semitic Christian sado-masochists everywhere.

Any film supposedly based on historical events will provoke, if subject to a proper PR campaign, a debate in the popular press about whether or not it is ‘historically accurate’. It was thus with Michael Collins, In The Name of the Father, Schindler’s List, The Passion of The Christ, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Munich, Star Wars etcetera.

And so it is with the latest I-Am-A-Warrior! bollocks from Hollywood, 300. I was giving a friend a lift the other day, who had been to the Irish premiere the previous night, and I asked him about the content of the film, naturally intrigued as to the supposed significance accorded to the 300 hardened freedom-lovers knocking the lining out of 250 billion Persian savages.

He answered -rather disappointingly, since I was about to begin a speech- that he didn’t like to politicise everything the way I did, and that he only went along to see the kick-ass fight scenes.

Ring of Secrecy

El País has an infographic of Fidel Castro’s three recent operations. Apparently Castro now has an artificial anus after nearly shitting himself to death.

Signs of the Times

At the shop I noticed one of the tabloids has printed a shock provo horror picture on its front cover of Steve Staunton being attended by a security guard with a logo on his jacket commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Hunger Strikes.

Sinn Fein later issued a statement denying any involvement with Steve Staunton.

Anniversary celebrations of this type -25th, 30th, 50th- have always struck me as silly. What makes 25 more important or interesting than 24 or 26? The fact that it’s a multiple of 5? Well then, what makes 5 more important or interesting than 3? Someone explain, please. Ideally a numerologist or a tarot card reader.

Reds Above The Beds


I am told that the presence of ladybirds in one’s garden is very good, since the colourful creatures have a healthy appetite for aphids that might otherwise feast upon tender plants. Here is one, spotted, today.

Voicing Opinions

At this moment in time [and I use this cliché because I am still incapable of managing to make the computer recognize my pronunciation of the three letter word that indicates something happening in the present tense], I am at a loss for something to say.

The intention when I set up the voice recognition software was not to write posts of less than three lines, but long and luxurious pieces full of diverting digressions and terrifyingly fluent tangents. However, I presently find myself speaking like Steve Staunton after a 6-0 home defeat to Liechtenstein.

And, to tell the truth it doesn’t seem to be saving me all that much time at the moment. It would have been just as quick for me to type the above two paragraphs. The point wasn’t to save myself from repetitive strain injury to my fingers, but rather to use more fruitfully the time I have to write this wedlock. (That should be weblog – I’m just leaving it in so you can see what I have to put up with)

Maybe the best approach to writing posts, at least interesting ones, would be to jot down a few ideas beforehand and then simply talk through them slowly. It is too much to expect that wondrous words will appear on the screen by the mere act of opening one’s mouth, especially given the constraints imposed by the culturally imperialistic software supplied by Microsoft. Wait a second – I spoke too soon. If I say the aforementioned three letter word meaning ‘presently’ with a Lurgan accent, it recognizes it. Maybe Microsoft kidnapped an entire housing estate from Craigavon to perform their user acceptance testing.

On the other hand, when I try to say <typing>How Now Brown Cow</typing>, it comes out as ‘pioneer and Harry’.

I was going to write another post, the first words of which were supposed to be ‘Denny Sausages’. Microsoft Word recognised it as ‘Denise of the Jews’.

I on Twitter

March 2007