Saturday, 28 March 2009

Empire of the senseless

The metric system is a great invention; not because it makes precise measurement possible (it doesn't, it's the equipment that matters, not the units) but because it makes precise communication of that measurement so easy. However, some of its basic units are not adapted to everyday life.

"Bonjour madame, 363 grammes de ce fromage-la, s'il vous plait."

 An elementary request; if I wanted 364 grammes, or 362, I'd ask for 364 grammes, or 362.

"Quoi, pile?" [Luckily I knew that "pile" here means "exactly".]

"Oui, pourquoi pas?"

"Sortez, sortez maintenant!"

A communication failure. In particular, I've not conveyed the fear and confusion that flickered across Madame's face just before she threw me out. That made the encounter a win.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Totally lost

"What are you watching?"

"Go away, I'm fed up with explaining TV programmes to you, you can't be bothered to listen and then you mock me for watching."

"No honestly, what is it, I'll listen and I won't mock."

"Well, ok then. It's about a bunch of people who survive a plane crash and every so often there's a break in the space-time continuum and they go back to being wrecked..."

"Well if it has a break then it's not a continuum is it, it's silly and it makes no physical sense..."

"GO AWAY. You are an arrogant pig."

"Oh I see why you're watching, they're all incredibly good looking... GOD HE'S NOT! How does someone stay as fat and ugly as that? Is it in his contract that he has to be obese? Anyway I'm not arrogant, I'm sarcastic, there is a difference you know OW! that really hurt."

"Good, it was meant to."

Friday, 20 March 2009


My brother, straight and glamorous, turns up for birthday drinks. He's also single, his most recent squeeze having decided to stick with her husband. Fraternal conversation is along the lines of "Great tits, but she's a nutter" or "This woman will change your life, and she can be blonde if you want".

Why is it bad to be reductive? Not a word is wasted, the handling is precise.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Il sorpasso

OK, it's happened. Mlle Inkspot is taller than her mother, who's 5' 4" of wild colleen* ("and a half you bastard, you've been imperializing me and all the other Irish since 1190"). God help me when she gets a mouth like her mother's, at the moment it's just "go away Dad, you're embarrassing". Well of course I am, it's my job. And I know something that Mme Inkspot doesn't: there's more than one embarrassing parent involved here.

*It's St Patrick's Day. If a bunch of drunks in Chicago are Irish, whatever that means, so is this house. 

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Inkspot in Lakeland

"Dad, let's get a blowtorch so we can make creme brulee." 

Not a bad idea, it would have sorts of other domestic purposes; you can't remove pubic hair or deal with earwax under a grill.

Brrinng, brrinng. "Hello, Lakeland, can I help?" 

[Can you help what? Stop being grumpy Inkspot, they're trained to do it.] "Hello, Inkspot here." 

"I'm sorry, who?" [What's this who business? Inkspot, with a significant position at Precision Handling, on kissing terms with a Pan's Person. Oh for god's sake pull yourself together.]

"Never mind, do you have blowtorches for sale?"

"Yes sir, certainly, one at £599-99 and the other at £39-99."

Well, that's it, sold, look at how much money I'm saving by getting the cheaper one. So off I tool and, not without difficulty ("They're by the gondola" Gondola? There is nothing here remotely gondolesque, or even Venetian. It appears that gondola is current sales talk for an ordinary display cabinet) find a blowtorch. Having been burnt (ho ho) before, I read the label. "Sold empty". "Excuse me, do you sell gas for these things?" "I'm sorry sir, no."

Sometimes a conversation just ends itself.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

When is a sneer not a sneer?

When it's a slur. At Precision Handling's promotions meeting the other day. It's really the revenge meeting; we're all primates, even the Archbishop of Canterbury (well, especially him, I suppose) and some pleasures, such as knifing an enemy, seem to be hardwired. The results were gratifying: a win for the good guys. Well, possibly not, there are no good guys. But there are plenty of bad guys, and revenge is worth waiting for. Especially when no-one knows whose hands are on the dagger.