Tuesday, 28 January 2014

In the ghetto part II.

Following on from my last entry, "In the ghetto", and in the interest of balance I thought I'd write about another chap I came across.

Many years ago I worked as a meter reader, or "data collector" as they are now known, and travelled around the North West collecting data. The data was gleaned from reading people's electricity and gas meters.

Part of the data that is collected is whether or not a household is stealing their fuel. It's not as widespread as people believe, but it does happen. Since the power companies know that there would be a danger of physical violence perpetrated upon their data collectors if they were thought by the residents of such Hellish communities to be "grasses" they pay you danger money for each household that you report and that is subsequently found to be guilty. The payment comes in the form of a £25.00 shopping voucher, which means you don't have to pay tax on it. Very generous and public spirited.

The vast majority of areas I covered were inner city estates, many of them similar to the Chatsworth estate made famous in the Channel 4 television drama "Shameless". Estates like that, with so many people on benefits, so much criminality, were bound to be full of sub-human leachers stealing their electricity and costing the rest of us law abiding British subjects extra through our own bills.


I did that job a total of four years, and in those four years take a wild guess at how many of those people I found to be stealing their fuel. Answer, not a single one. That doesn't mean that none of them are doing it, it just means none of the customers of any of the three, major, power companies I read for were doing it. Not a one.

Occasionally I would do a round in a pleasant, or even wealthy, area. It's far harder to hit your targets in areas such as these since people are generally out at work. In those cases you leave a card and rely on the home owner to fill in their own reading and leave it in the window for you to read. Some houses just refuse to let you in, for whatever reason. Maybe they don't trust you, maybe they don't realise it's a legal requirement to have your meters read, maybe they're just too busy. It's never a cause for suspicion, unless you're never allowed access. In those cases, eventually, the power company has to apply for a warrant to gain access. The warrant is always granted since to refuse the warrant would mean forcing the power company to fail to follow the legislation. But I digress.

There was a nice street in Lancashire. Not a posh street, just a nice street. A Cul-de-sac with a big, round turning circle at the bottom, wide, tree lined, pavements and a mixture of semi-detached houses and detached bungalows, about thirty of them. It's what estate agents call a "well established" area and the residents are almost exclusively elderly. Their houses are nice, but in need of minor repair. Doors stick, window sills need painting, the drives could do with a jet wash and the lawns need a little bit of a trim, but all in all very pleasant.

At the bottom of the street is a larger, detached house. It has a large extension, a huge conservatory, two block paving drives and a magnificent porch. The drives contained mum's BMW, daughter's Vauxhall Corsa, and dad's van. Dad's van bore dad's name followed by the words "Joiners and Building Contractors". It was a long wheel base Mercedes and was immaculate. I visited this house every three months for three years and never gained access.

Then came my thirteenth visit. I knocked on the door and it was immediately opened by large chap in a sheepskin coat and with a lovely, warm smile. I asked to read the meter and he allowed me in, saying "I think it's in that cupboard under the stairs." He was quite plainly a visitor to the house and not an inhabitant.

Torch in hand I knelt, opened the cupboard door and crawled inside. I heard the gentleman that had allowed me access open a door off the hallway and call through to the kitchen.

"It's only the meter reader, I've let him in."

There was a shriek, a shriek of panic, almost terror. "Noooo." I heard someone come rushing through.

Now at this point I had read the meter and was backing away, but the reaction of the lady in the kitchen gave me pause for thought. I looked at the meter again and sure enough, underneath the black, bakelite box a tiny hole had been drilled and into this had been inserted a.... hang on, I'd better stop there before I get my arse kicked from the power companies. Basically, the meter had been fiddled, and fiddled in such a way that it could not be un-fiddled. I believe the term that fits this situation is "bang to rights".

I pressed the button on my handheld device to report and photograph the meter then backed out of the cupboard on all fours. The lady of the house was stood over me, an attractive and well dressed lady in her mid-to-late forties. She knew she was caught, that there was no way out, so what did she do?

Did she hang her head in shame?


Did she panic, become flustered, mumble or stutter an apology?


Did she offer me a bribe to prevent me reporting her criminality to the authorities?


She glared. She sneered at me. Her face was a mask of anger.

"Finished?" she spat.

I nodded. I stood and made my way out. As I reached the front door she pushed me hard from behind and I stumbled out. When I turned to look at her the vicious glare was still in place. She hissed "You fucking dare grass me up you little bastard, my husband will fucking KILL you."

Even if I hadn't already "grassed" her up this threat wouldn't have prevented me. I looked around at the other houses on the street, the peeling paint and the washed out milk bottles on the steps, the elderly ladies tending their pansies and the small cars, paid for by the pensions of the residents who had worked hard to ensure a reasonably comfortable retirement. They had very little, this lady had everything. They paid for their electricity and, between them, they paid for her electricity too.

The household was prosecuted. They were found to have been fiddling their meter for almost a decade. They were heavily fined and joiner and building contractor dad had to put his contracts on hold for four months whilst he served his sentence.

But they're not on benefits.

What a lovely couple.


In the ghetto.

There's a guy living near me, I can see his living room window right now if I crane my neck, who I have a nodding acquaintance with. Some of you out there in the virtual world know me and know my neighbours and so I shall give him a pseudonym. He's a nice guy so I'll give him a cool name, let's say it's Elvis.

Elvis is a nice bloke. Salt of the earth some would say. Pleasant, quietly spoken, educated to a reasonable degree. Elvis lives alone with his dog. This hasn't always been the case.

Until a couple of years back Elvis was married. In the 1970s and '80s Elvis was in a band. Not a hugely successful band, but a proper, jobbing, musical band who even managed a couple of television appearances, had regular bookings across the country and had a single which briefly popped it's head into the hit parade. Elvis is by no means stupid and knew that his chances of making a fortune writing and performing were slim. He dreamt, as we all do, but he was realistic. Elvis had a back up career.

Elvis' back up career became his main job as the toll of aging and responsibilities began to take hold. Elvis put his dreams in a box and placed them on a shelf somewhere at the back of his ego and knuckled down.

Through hard work, mixed with a small amount of good fortune (if the inheritance received from the loss of a loved one can be described in such a way), Elvis bought his own home. Nothing grand, but cosy and comfortable and one hundred percent his. Without a mortgage Elvis was able to enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle. Elvis drove a second hand, though relatively new, Jaguar. Elvis took foreign holidays and ate well. He would spend the occasional evening in the local pub, never causing trouble or offence, quietly enjoying the company of his friends and acquaintances before wandering home via the chippy where he would buy his beloved dog a jumbo sausage (I'm not sure if I agree with the slaughter of elephants for sausages, but to each his own.) and himself a bag of chips for his supper.

Elvis met a woman. She was lovely. They were well suited looks and attitude wise. After a time Elvis married his Priscilla, and he'd won. His life was good. Not perfect, nothing especially exciting, but good.

One day Elvis returned home from his lovely little job to find his lovely little house empty and his lovely little dog alone. Initially Elvis thought his lovely wife was out with friends, or shopping, or maybe visiting a family member and had lost track of time. Elvis tried to phone her but the phone went straight to answer machine. Still, it was only early. Elvis made his evening meal, walked his lovely dog and settled in front of the television. By 9.00pm Elvis had started to worry.

At first Elvis thought something bad had happened to her. He thought she may have been involved in an accident and was lay in a hospital bed somewhere. He rang the hospital. She wasn't there. Elvis then rang the police who couldn't help. He rang them again after the required twenty four hours and reported her as missing person. He looked everywhere for her, sad and scared, but to no avail.

The police came to see him. Elvis feared the worst. Had she been murdered? Was she the victim of a terrible accident?

No. She was fine. Safe and well. Elvis felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, but only for a moment or two. She was fine, she was safe, and she was somewhere that the police weren't able to divulge. Priscilla had left him. Elvis had no idea why, had had no idea there was anything wrong, and Elvis felt sick to his stomach.

The next day Elvis didn't go to work. Nor did he the day after. Or the day after that. The weekend arrived and Elvis went to the pub. Elvis got drunk and cried. His friends put their arms around his shuddering shoulders and told him everything would be okay, that Priscilla was a bitch and that there were plenty more fish in the sea. Elvis went home, sans sausage and chips, and went to bed.

On Monday morning Elvis went to work. He didn't want to go, but he had bills to pay and dignity to regain. Elvis worked until dinnertime and was then called into his managers office. His manager was sorry, but his manager had to let some staff go. The business was in danger of collapse, it was unavoidable and, being a reasonable man, Elvis understood. He left work and went home. It was okay, Elvis wasn't rich but by now (His mid-fifties) Elvis had managed to accumulate a nice little nest egg and, as I mentioned, his home was mortgage free.

Except now it wasn't.

Later that week Elvis discovered that his beloved Priscilla had re-mortgaged their home and pocketed the money for herself. Also, the joint account in which his lovely little nest egg resided (about £20,000) was now empty. Elvis cried, this time without having to be drunk.

No job, no insurance to cover the mortgage and no wife to console him Elvis began to get poorly. The police investigated the theft and prosecuted Priscilla. Priscilla went to prison. Priscilla had no money though. It was somewhere, but not anywhere that anyone could retrieve it from. Elvis was ruined.

First to go was his Jag, replaced by an aging Vauxhall. The house, of course, was repossessed. Elvis was lucky enough to get a two bed roomed flat in a dirty old town on the other side of Manchester. Elvis wasn't a proud man, he was happy enough so long as his dog and he had a roof over their heads and food in their tummies.

Elvis became more poorly. Even before Priscilla had left he had, unbeknown to anyone, begun to develop a small, black tumour in his stomach. It was operated on, removed and a course of chemotherapy began.The doctors told him he was in remission and had a reasonable prognosis.

Elvis wasn't a big man, but had withered significantly during his treatment.

Elvis was unable to work, but because he lived in this great nation of ours he was looked after. His treatment was free, his rent was paid and he had enough benefits to pay for electricity, gas and food. He would be okay, wouldn't need to cook crack to make ends meet and wouldn't starve. He filled his days by driving up to Rivington with his lovely dog and walking for hours on end, coming home tired but content.

I'd met Elvis at about this point in his life. At the time I would spend my Sunday mornings on a car boot sale and he would occasionally turn up, lovely dog by his side, and chat a while. One Sunday he asked if I'd like to buy a tropical fish tank and all the equipment off him, the lot for £20.00. Dirt cheap. I bought it.

When I went to collect it his flat was cold. He was wearing his coat indoors. His flat was well decorated and well furnished. He even had a large, flat-screen, television. He himself looked a little dirty though, with greasy hair and a patchy beard. I paid him his money, a ten pound note, a five pound note and a scottish five pound note, and took my items home.

I saw Elvis later, in the local shop. He was putting £5.00 on his gas card, a further fiver on his electricity and buying dog food, milk and tobacco. He was smiling as he paid the chap behind the counter with a ten pound note, a five pound note and a scottish five pound note.

Later that week he asked if I wanted to buy, or knew anyone who wanted to buy, his car. He "didn't need it anymore". I didn't want it but I put him in touch with a man who was looking for a cheap runabout for his daughter and he sold it for a couple of hundred pounds. Now he filled his days by walking his lovely dog to Rivington and back again, retuning exhausted but content each evening.

Several weeks ago Elvis stopped me in the street. He looked awful. His hair was visibly dirty, his face now adorned with an unkempt beard and with the sweet, sickly smell of B.O. that is so rare in these days of shower gels and anti-perspirants. He smiled, coughed a bit, smiled again and asked if I wanted to buy a bed and matching bedside cabinets. I said no, but I knew a man that dealt in furniture and would bring him round later that day.

When we arrived it was beginning to go dark. There were no lights on in his flat and no heating on. He was wearing two coats and his lovely dog was curled up under a blanket in the corner of his living room, besides the one remaining chair and the small, portable television that sat, lifeless, on the coffee table in the corner. The walls when last I'd visited had contained framed paintings and mirrors. Now there was just one photograph, in a frame, hung on the chimney breast. A photo of Elvis and his band in the 1980s, five young men with huge smiles and a cocky air about them.

We went into the bedroom to look at the furniture. The bed and cabinets were the only things in there. It was too dark to see, so Elvis got a torch as he "hadn't had time to go to the shop for electric yet". The furniture dealer offered Elvis ten pounds, a disgustingly small amount of money for a lovely bit of furniture. Elvis accepted immediately, but said he needed to keep the mattress so that he had somewhere to sleep until his new bed was delivered. I wanted to cry. The furniture dealer paid him, a five pound note and five one pound coins.

I saw Elvis later, in the shop, buying dog food and electricity and paying with a fiver and five ones.

Elvis smokes, has a dog, had a huge television, isn't dying of cancer and, until recently, drove a car.

But he's on benefits.

What a fucking scumbag.


Monday, 27 January 2014

From tiny acorn to tiny acorn.

I write a lot. On iPhone, on tablet, on laptop, wherever there's a QWERTY keyboard I'll sit, stand or lie and tap away at it. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn't. More often the latter in all honesty, as, I'm sure, my Twitter feed and the inane ramblings contained within this blog demonstrates. It's almost an O.C.D. and isn't restricted to the buttons on my keyboards either. Any button will do. I can't resist feeling the satisfying click beneath my fingertip, even if it does nothing. If you put a button on the coffee table that was connected to nothing I would sit happily click-click-clicking away until the cows came home. In fact, if that button was connected to a battery and, in turn, that battery was connected to my nipple causing, on random occasions, me to suffer a mild to medium electric shock that rattled my fillings I would still click it, over and over again.

This, of course, is the one and only reason that I've distanced myself from politics and am not in charge of our fair nation. All it would take to cause the devastation of an atomic war would be for me to close my laptop after checking my emails from the other world leaders, all keen for me to solve the problems of their own nations, and realise I had nothing to do. I would look around, huffing and suddenly bored, notice the big red button on the desk in front of me and that would be that. Click, whoosh, BOOM. Bye bye Soviets, take that Korea, have at you Frenchies. Before the end of my first day in office the Earth would be reduced to a smoldering, toxic lump of iron and deceased biological matter.

But, as is usual during these entries, I digress. Back to the clicking of buttons.

With the advent of the internet I found an easy vent for my addiction. At first there were the chat rooms on Yahoo. Suddenly able to speak to people, near and far, free and easily I became addicted. I would spend hour after hour in those chat rooms, wasting time that wasn't wasted since I enjoyed it. After a while my life changed significantly (See my blog entry "Just do it" for details) and I spent a while away from my keyboard. Once my adventures were complete and I had settled back into my old life I discovered the world wide web had changed significantly. Myspace and Facebook were, at that point, fighting it out for who would destroy Bebo. I chose to continue my mundane meanderings on Myspace and later, having realised I had backed the loser, Facebook. I would spend hours now throwing virtual farm stock at random people, flicking through photographs of folk I'd never meet and updating my status as regularly as I was able.

Along came smart phones and I was able to remain connected to the matrix 24/7. Facebook became filled with inanity as more and more people swelled the ranks of Zuckerberg's disciples and I discovered Twitter. My keystrokes now filled boxes of limited size with silly jokes and meaningless chit chat and I developed an ever increasing lust for followers.

My followers list swelled over the years, bringing me into contact with people that, in an earlier age, I would never had been able to connect with. People that shared my opinions and values and, more importantly in some ways, people with whom I had absolutely nothing in common. Even people whose opinions I disagreed with or detested, all were (and remain) welcome and every interaction, whether positive or negative, was a pleasure.

Then came the blogs. One hundred and forty characters is all well and good but sometimes, rather than interaction, I just like to rant. Uninterrupted and without the restrictions of the character limit I began writing full words, using punctuation and losing myself for hours, mesmerised by the blinking cursor on the clean, white, back-lit screen. Soon, though, that wasn't enough either.

At about the same time that I began blogging one of my Twitter followers (I love being able to say this...) Mr Stephen Fry  began promoting a new website, Jottify.com,  described as "A new space for writers to share, read and distribute". I signed up and began writing silly stories. The stories on Jottify are provided free of charge and so, after a short while, I had amassed a number of highly flattering comments on my small collection of witterings. Ego boosted I began to write a longer piece, which evolved as I wrote it into a short story and, later, a long story. It was aimed at entertaining my new Granddaughter and before I realised it I had written a children's book, a tale of a little girl, her friend and their magical adventures, "The Ballad of Kissy Sizzle". People read it, people liked it and people told me I should make it available on a wider platform. A friend of mine then pointed out that this was actually a very easy thing to do. Sign up to Amazon, upload your work as an ebook and hey presto, you're technically a published author. Self published, but published nonetheless. The sad part was that Amazon is only there to make money and so I would have to put a price on my work. I thought long and hard and decided on ninety eight pence.

I didn't for one minute believe that anyone would pay to read my jibber-jabber but vanity persuaded me to have a go and so I did it. It cost me nothing to list it on there so the fact it would remain unsold and unloved made not an ounce of difference. I was incredibly excited when I saw my book appear in the Amazon listings and I bought a copy for myself. The one and only copy I thought I would ever sell.

A week or two later I got an email notification from Amazon telling me someone had left feedback. Someone had bought my book! With trepidation I logged in to my account to see what they had said. As it turned out they had liked it and had left a lovely little review. Whilst still logged in I took a look at my sales figures. I had expected to see two sales but there, in black and white, was a little box telling me that eighty-six people had actually bought it. Eighty six random, anonymous people had taken the time to download something that I had created. I didn't get any money for the sales, the way Amazon works doesn't make it easy to earn anything, but the creation of wealth hadn't been a motivating factor in my writing the book and so this wasn't much of a disappointment. I'm more than happy that people, both in the UK and overseas, have paid for, downloaded and (hopefully) read my words. I'll never be rich from it, but I've now been able to add and immediately cross out an entry on my bucket list.

One thing that is a small disappointment to me is that I used a pen-name. Given that the book is aimed at children it wouldn't have been a good idea to have "by Johnny Bastard" plastered across the front cover. But I know I wrote it, my children and granddaughter (To whom it's dedicated) know I wrote it and now, dear reader, so do you.

And so my internet evolution is complete. From "pinging" random strangers around the world on yahoo, through checking out new bands on Myspace, past hurling virtual sheep on Facebook, following miscreants on Twitter and blogging inanity on here I have reached a point where I can say that I have actually done something worthwhile. Nothing important, nothing Earth-shattering, but one day, after I'm gone, maybe my Granddaughter will have a daughter or son of her own and will sit down with her or him one night to read a story that was written by her not-so-great Grandfather. Maybe she'll like it, maybe she wont. But I did it for her, and that makes me happy.

The book is a small acorn that will never become a majestic oak. This acorn wasn't meant to be planted, it was intended to fit snugly into a little girl's pocket and, hopefully, make her smile whenever she sees it. Oak trees are massive and acorns are little things, but you know what I always say about the little things.


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Who's afraid of the big, bad, wolf?

When I was a small boy my father would tell me stories. Grim tales by the brothers Grimm, fairy tales and silly jokes. These were in the heady days of the early nineteen-seventies, before he'd bought his first pub and while he was still working at Parker Rosser's timber yard on Salford docks. I'd rarely see my father from Monday to Friday as he would leave for work, duffle bag and flask slung over his shoulder, before I awoke, not returning until after I was in the land of Nod, so the stories would generally be recounted on a Saturday morning before we settled down to watch the adventures of Flash Gordon, Champion the Wonder Horse and the Lone Ranger on the black and white television in the front parlour.

I'd sit upon his knee with my six shooters resting on my own knee, stetson hung from my neck and my little sheriffs badge pinned to my pyjamas whilst listening to the adventures of children stupid enough to wander into the forest alone or girls with a penchant for crimson cowls.

The stories were frightening, especially given the dramatic slant my father would put on them. He would intersperse the stories with raspy voices, wicked witch cackles and the occasional menacing whisper. The stories were designed to teach a child a lesson. Don't go in the woods alone, don't go near strange animals, don't trust strangers, don't steal and don't tell lies.

 (The latter lesson being delivered via a story about a little boy crying wolf. When my dad told me this story the little boy would get away with the lie twice and be killed the third time. What this actually taught me was that it was okay to tell a lie, just don't push it.)

One of my favourite tales, mainly because the voices he would put on were the funniest and the scariest, recounted the adventures of three goats and their decision that the grass was greener on the other side of the river. They would clip-clop, in order of size, across a rickety, wooden bridge. Each goat would encounter a vicious monster, a troll, who wanted to eat them. Each of the first two goats, the kid and the nanny, would promise the troll that the next goat to cross would be larger and tastier and so, being a slave to his gluttony, the troll would allow them to pass. When the third goat, the big old Billy, encountered the monster he would, being the largest and strongest of the trio, batter the troll, tossing him into the river below never to be seen again.

This tale didn't seem to teach a child any lesson. In fact it contradicted another lesson I'd already been taught, that of the grass not really being greener on the other side. Still, I enjoyed it.

I knew there were no such things as wicked witches, cross-dressing wolves or geese with gilt edged reproductive systems. Occasionally, as I was slipping into sleep and the landing light was extinguished I might imagine a monster or two under the bed but, on Saturday mornings when armed with two, fully loaded, cap guns and my father acting as my trusty sidekick, nothing could harm me.

Little was I to know that, just forty or so years later, the world would discover that trolls really do exist. Thanks to the anonymity of the internet these vile creatures have once again found a bridge under which to hide, ever vigilant and awaiting the clip-clop of the innocent goats passing overhead.

The trolls have heard the story of the three billy goats gruff, and they've learnt a valuable lesson from it. They don't wait for the big, stout-horned, goat, they know they'd be on a hiding to nothing. So they leap upon the first goat, the smallest and weakest. They don't listen to the kid's earnest entreaty, they don't wait for the larger and more succulent nanny, they just pounce. The kid is devoured.


This week two such modern day trolls have been imprisoned for their actions. Twenty three year old alcoholic Isabella Sorley and twenty five year old loner John Nimmo (who I'm sure most will agree actually look like the trolls from the fairy tales) were jailed for twelve weeks and eight weeks, respectively.

The despicable duo "jumped on the band wagon" (Their mitigation for their actions) and sent abusive and threatening messages through Twitter to banknote campaigner Criado Perez and Labour MP Stella Creasy.

The messages in question were, unquestionably, vile. Threats of rape, murder and references to the women's appearances were sent by the two members of the brains-trust via many, anonymous, fake accounts. The pair obviously had the wherewithal to try and hide but weren't bright enough to have heard about IP addresses. Their victims complained, the police asked Twitter who they were and that was that. They had laid an evidence trail from which there was no escape. A virtual trail of breadcrumbs through a forest of social networking.

Their victims distress is, I'm sure, very real. Both ladies report that their lives have been changed by the incident. They say they live, or at least lived, in fear.

As abhorrent as the actions of Tyneside's answer to Shrek and Fiona were, I find it hard to understand why two such obviously intelligent women as Ms Perez and Ms Creasy were frightened. I believe they were, I just can't understand it. I have, as regular visitors to my inane ramblings will by now know, had my own Twitter account for many years. I'm something of an old timer.

I have been trolled mercilessly throughout my years of screaming nonsense into the ether, but not once has it affected me in any way. In fact, perversely, I kind of enjoy it. I've never been trolled by anyone with any real wit or menace. I have had threats of violence and of death, I've been ridiculed for my beliefs and attacked because my chosen football team are better than most other football teams. I have been told I am a benefit cheat, although I'm not on benefits, that I am ugly, though this is plainly not true (Sic) and that I am stupid. I can't argue with that last one. My significant other, Ms Patty Dick Fingers, is, at twenty eight years of age, sixteen years younger than myself. This fact has led to spurious claims that I am a paedophile. (The first time this happened almost spoiled our fifteenth anniversary meal.)

The threats are nothing more than little boxes of up to one hundred and forty characters. The people that send them are losers. Just last week a chap informed me, after failing to upset me and having been ridiculed by some of my own followers about his dull wit and appearance, that he wasn't "borthered" (sic) what I thought of him, that he was sitting "in the gym" and that all his real life mates were laughing at me. The moron had his locations turned on on his Tweets. A quick look at these nuggets of unintentionally imparted information revealed the chap was either on a train heading south from Huddersfield or that his gymnasium was travelling south next to the train tracks at an average of sixty miles per hour. Shortly after I pointed this out to him, my followers and his followers I began receiving messages backing his point of view from one of his friends. His friend had no followers, was following no one but him and, up until that point, had never before Tweeted. His first Tweet included the words "...just stop borthering (sic) him you cunt." A typical tactic of the troll, parthenogenesis.

Without exception, every last troll that I have come across has been a socially inept, unattractive, loner of sub-human intelligence. Every one of them. People occasionally advise me to just ignore them rather than keep responding. I don't want to ignore them. I enjoy it. It's like a battle of wits with an exponent of the art of unarmed combat. Whilst they're trying, and failing, to upset or intimidate me they are leaving others, who may not be as confident and self assured as myself, alone. At the same time they are being shown up to be exactly what they really are, feeble minded individuals whose lives are so without meaning or purpose that the only way they can feel better about their pointless existence is by attempting to make others feel as worthless as they have proven to be.

Nowadays the trolls don't eat their prey, they play with it like a cat plays with a mouse. They scare it, getting it's heart to pump all that tasty blood harder through the body and making the meat it is about to taste all the more succulent. Except they never taste the flesh. They just enjoy the game.

I really hope none of you have been upset by a troll. I hope your own experience of social networking is pleasant and that you get a great deal of enjoyment out of it. If not, the next time you're clip-clopping your way across the virtual bridge en route to feast upon the luscious, green, grass of the neighbouring field and the troll comes crawling out from the shadows just remember...

...he's a prick.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Pandering to pandas.

Pubic lice are soon to be a thing of the past. At least in the western world. We are destroying their natural habitat. (I blame the South Americans, Brazilians in particular.) This isn't a joke, it's a fact. A creature, a living creature, soon to be wiped off the face of the earth by our intimate deforestation. It's happening now folks, so why have I not seen any "Adopt a crab" advertisements from the World Wildlife Fund? I bet they'd be far cheaper to adopt than a snow leopard, but I'd probably not request that they send me photo updates. Maybe it's because the advertising campaign posters wouldn't pass the censors? Perhaps.

So why are we not up in arms about this man-made devastation? Why aren't there armies of vegans marching up and down outside the head offices of Veet? Why aren't the manufacturers of lady-razors having nail bombs drop through their letterboxes? Could it be that none of us, not even the hippiest of hippies, give a shit? Or even that we're glad they're going? Perhaps.

We fight to save  the tiger from extinction. Only three thousand two hundred of these incredible creatures remain. (If you ask me, that's a LOT of fucking tigers) We're frantically attempting to get pandas to procreate. We have banned the portion of the African manufacturing industry responsible for gorilla-hand ashtrays. But the plight of the poor pubic lice gets no promotion.

Public lice aren't pretty, that's the problem. My son had a stuffed panda (If you ask me, pandas would be much less endangered if we'd all just stop stuffing them.) which he adored when he was a nipper.  He loved the Kellogs Frosties mascot, Tony the Tiger, who I'm sure you will agrrrree is grrrrrrrreat.  I can't for the life of me recall any Disney cartoon or breakfast cereal advertising campaign featuring a pubic louse. They didn't even get a mention in the blockbuster film "A Bugs Life". Surely that would've been the perfect vessel to raise awareness of their plight?

No. We're going to let them quietly slip away. One day the phrase "as dead as a dodo" will be usurped and replaced by "as passed-away as a pediculosis pubis". Perhaps.

As the lice expire the world will keep on turning, the tigers will keep on roaring and the pandas will keep on not fucking. And who will miss the poor crotch crab?

We fight to conserve. It's massive. And rightly so. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimate that upto one hundred and fifty species PER DAY become extinct. That's a lot of species. Shocking. The problem being that once people realise the vast majority of these species are insects people stop giving shits. Who cares?

Now here comes the part that's going to lose me even more Twitter followers than my Atheism admission. (See my last post, "Live forever or die trying") In my humble opinion we should let them all die. Tigers, pandas, pubic lice, lesser spotted cock hounds and unicorns. Balls to them. I'm not saying hunt them, in my opinion if you're not going to eat it then let it be. (The one exception to this being moths. I hate moths. And anyway, my mate Dave eats moths, its a macabre party trick, but it does mean that the murder of moths falls within the boundaries of my rule) But pandas, China's most lucrative export (Western zoos are literally renting those pandas) are endangered because they can't be arsed having sex. If a species is endangered because it can't be arsed having sex you can be sure that they've given up trying and just want out. Given the choice, would you rather become extinct or condemn your offspring to a life behind bars for the amusement of slack jawed, food-chain topping, environmental vandals?

Animals become extinct all on their own sometimes. It's nature. Sometimes, though, it's the fault of man that causes their extinction.

But hold on, aren't we part of the natural world too? We weren't assembled in a factory on a distant planet and sent here to terraform this dump and make it ready for the lizard people. And even if we were, where did the lizard people come from?

It is the greatest conceit of man to believe that he can somehow, through his own actions, destroy this beautiful planet to which we all cling. We can't. It's not possible. We might poison the planet, create a nuclear winter, hunt and farm our way to oblivion, but the Earth doesn't care. It'll let us die, it'll let every creature in existence die. It'll let every plant wither. It'll never go on TV and ask for just £3.99 a month to adopt a homosapien.

Then, after a million or a billion or a trillion years, a tiny green shoot will wriggle it's way out of the dry, barren soil, well fertilised by the decomposing bodies of the planets previous incumbents and it'll begin again.

Another million years will see another million species. Water will have become clean again by eons of natural filtration through rock and fish will swim in the new, clean seas. Maybe next time the fish will have the good sense to stay put. Maybe they won't. Maybe mammals will evolve. Maybe lizards will rise to the top of the food chain as they did all those millennia ago. Maybe insects will develop opposable thumbs and invent the door handle, enabling them to open a metaphorical door which leads to a massively successful race of super-intelligent lice. Lice who couldn't possibly make a bigger hash of the incredible gift they have been given than we did. Hopefully they'll never realise that by burning all of our fossilised remains they'll be able to get places quicker, die in crashes and choke their own atmosphere up.

And maybe those lice will prefer hairy genitalia, meaning that the tiny, pink mammals that colonised their pubes after they got drunk at an office party and cheated on their spouses with ANThony or BEEtrice will thrive.



Sunday, 19 January 2014

Live forever or die trying.

I've been harboring a secret for many years now, but I think it's time I came out of the closet and nailed my colours to the post. I'm sorry to disappoint those of you that were labouring under the misconception that I'm actually a nice person but, in fact, I'm a Godless heathen. I am the work of a Devil that I don't believe exists. I am an Atheist. I also don't believe in ghosts, psychic abilities or any superstition.

I say Atheist, but in reality all Atheists are, in some small way, actually only agnostic. I believe that there is no God. No creator. No great, celestial, watchmaker. Just an incomprehensibly massive and cold universe that doesn't give a shit about you, I, your religion, my lack of religion or whether or not you walk under a ladder whilst crossing someone on the stairs with your shirt on inside out. That said, if the oceans parted and Poseidon rose up, or if the clouds parted and some kindly old guy with a bushy, white beard revealed himself and stated "Actually, here I am, I've had enough of this enigmatic existence, now behave or suffer in hell. Oh, and where do I sign up for 'I'm a celebrity...'?" I would laugh, shake my head, apologise and become a believer. Agnostic. We (Atheists) all are really.

I have never attacked someone for their religious beliefs. I've defended my beliefs (Yes, they are beliefs, not lack of beliefs. I believe we're evolved from slime, the ingredients of which were created in exploding stars and flung out into the vastness of space.) against the pious which has resulted in my being accused of attacking religion. I have no need to attack religion, or faith. No one's beliefs cause me difficulty in my day to day existence.

Those who follow a religion are almost Atheists themselves. There are approximately four thousand two hundred recognised religions. Atheists don't believe in any of these. A Christian, Jew, Muslim or Wiccan doesn't believe in approximately four thousand one hundred and ninety nine. That's not far off Atheism, is it?

An American lady from Virginia I used to chat to, many years ago when the internet was still new and exciting, on "Yahoo!" was extremely religious. My lack of faith in her God came up one day.

"So are you a Jew?"

"No, an Atheist."

"WHAT? That's even worse."

Anti-semitism apart, she told me she would pray for me and that she wanted to cry because she "knew" I was heading for an eternity of damnation and suffering in the fiery pits of the hell that, if her religious beliefs are correct, was basically created by the loving Deity her parents had chosen she should side with. How very fucking Christian of him. Our conversations up until this point had been about our children or our jobs, never anything important or deep. Just chit chat. From that point on it changed. She tried to gently, and later not so gently, persuade me that I was wrong. I tried not to get embroiled in any theological debate with her but this proved ultimately futile and I was forced to ask her to stop. She never spoke to me again, other than one email in which she described me as "the most disgusting human being" it had ever been her misfortune to come across and added that she would "rejoice in my eternal damnation". How very fucking Christian of her.

I have been a support worker for many years. About five years ago I was assigned to an adult male with severe Autism. I'm good at that job. I was spat at and punched, had faeces and crockery thrown at me on a daily basis but never once let it affect me or my behaviour toward my service user. (We have to call the people we care for "service users" at the moment. At some point it will be decided that this is just as politically incorrect as clients and the industry (Yes, it is an industry. There's a lot of money in care. And they don't pay much more than minimum wage so a lot of companies involved are making a LOT of profit.) will spend fortunes training us all to say "assistance requirers" or some other such ridiculous title.) Phew, I was beginning to think I'd never escape those brackets. Anyway, I digress...

The chap I looked after back then became very poorly. I was on shift the night he began pissing and shitting blood and took him to hospital. He is a non-verbal gentleman and very aggressive. The only person that he would allow to take his temperature or blood pressure was me. I have never felt as tall as the day I walked onto his ward to be greeted by a nurse who said "Oh, thank God you're here" and handed me the sphygmomanometer. He remained in hospital for several weeks and so I spent my shifts at the hospital with him. One Saturday I was waiting for the third of the four buses I needed to get home. Two young gentlemen approached.

"Hi," said the first in a lovely, American accent. "do you have a moment?"

I was tired, I had poo under my fingernails and a split lip (My service user hadn't liked his pudding and had demonstrated this in his usual charming way) and it was cold, but the man was smiling so I smiled back and said yes.

"Where would you go to find God in this town?" The young, smartly dressed man enquired.

"Have you tried the church?" I smiled back. No malice, just a little joke. His eyes narrowed.

"I'm serious. Have you heard the word of God?"

"I'm an Atheist, pal."

"Oh nooooo! Don't you want to be able to make a difference to someone's life?"

Now, as I've mentioned, I don't attack people's beliefs. But I wasn't having that. I explained...

"I'm a support worker for a disabled man. I'm on my way home after a twelve hour shift caring for him in hospital. I've spent today teaching him Makaton and dodging his blows. I've done this everyday for a fortnight and will be back again tomorrow, which I believe is your God's day off, at six in the morning to do it all again. Enjoy your lie in."

I was attempting to demonstrate, with as much good humour as I could muster at that point, that you don't need a religion to be a good person and that I was making a difference in a practical way to this poor individuals life. (Yes, I was getting paid  the princely sum of £6.50 per hour less taxes to do it, but a Vicar get's paid too, we all have to eat.) His response? He pointed out to me that it didn't matter how many noble things I did with my life, if I didn't accept his God before I died I would rot in hell. How very fucking Christian of him.

(I'd just like to point out that I'm not singling out Christianity here, but I come from England and that's the religion whose followers I come across most often.)

I have many devout friends. They don't preach to me and I don't mock them. Their religion gives them a purpose. It also serves to comfort them and prevent them from fearing death. Those are good things. My belief that all that awaits me after my demise is blessed oblivion does exactly the same thing. It forces me to enjoy the time I have whilst clinging to this rock and hurtling through space as my atoms become further apart.

When I do eventually shuffle off this mortal coil I will be in a state that I have experienced many times before. Sleep. A lovely, long, sleep. No more worrying about food, shelter or whether my iPhone has enough charge to last until I can plug it in. No more heartache, no more fear, no more pain or discomfort. Okay, no love either. No laughter. No long dog walks or cosy nights in. Just nothing. But I experience that every night when asleep and did so constantly for the fifteen billion years before I was born. It's never done me any harm and I genuinely look forward to it. I'm in no way suicidal, I will cling on to life until the bitter end. I have "Live Forever or Die Trying" tattooed on my left forearm. I'm here for as long as nature allows.

I'm aware that some people will, upon reading this, now dislike me. I'm also aware that some people will have read a few paragraphs, decided they don't like me and stopped reading (Those are all sociopaths and hurt small animals with knives and shit, they're horrid.) but I'm the same person I was before you began reading and you didn't think I was evil before, did you? I have led, and will continue to lead, a good life. I don't, and won't, break the law. (One caveat, if I get much poorer I MAY be forced to steal food from Tesco's bins.) I will continue to love animals (Except cats - see my previous post "Pearly whites at the pearly gates" for why.) give money and time to charitable causes and let Patty have the crispy roast potatoes that she thinks I don't like but which really I love and miss. I have no fear of damnation, but I do have a great deal of empathy.

If I'm wrong and you're right I'm in trouble. If you're wrong and another religion is right we're in trouble. If you're wrong and I'm right we're all okay. Which one do you hope for? Think about it, it'll tell you a lot about yourself.

Fingers crossed, we're all okay.


Saturday, 11 January 2014

The pig one.

My last few entries have been rather serious, so I thought I'd give you all a break from my constant complaining and brighten up my blog with a nice, little story from one of my frequent dog walking sessions.

I was walking past the farmyard at the top of the hill during my last my last dog walking session and, as I passed by, I spotted a pig clip-clopping around the yard with a peg leg. Just one, wooden, leg and three tasty looking, meat legs. As you can imagine I was a little taken aback at this and stopped to wonder at the bionic pig before me.

After a moment or two the farmer joined me on his way back from milking his Fresians or choking his chickens or whatever farmers do when not counting EU subsidies and shooting dogs who "Worr worryin' moy sheeep".

"Aaarp." Said said farmer.

"Afternoon." Says I.

I had to ask about the peg legged pig, I was intrigued as to what series of events could possibly have led to his condition.

"Interesting story," the farmer began. "The other week my young son was playing in the lane when a wagon driver lost control of his wagon. I watched as the wagon bore down on my boy, sure he was going to be killed, when that pig vaulted the gate and ran at my son, pushing him clear."

"Wow, and the wagon hit the pig causing the injury?"

"Nope. The next week, on the Friday night, there was a fire in our scullery. That pig managed to break the front door down and rouse me from my sleep. I put the fire out myself before too much damage was done."

"Incredible. What a heroic beast. And he lost his leg because of that?" I asked.

"Nope. The following day a pack of feral dogs got into my chicken enclosure. That pig leapt to their defence, fighting off the dogs and saving my livestock."

"Amazing. So, he lost his leg in the battle?"


By now I was getting a little frustrated with his meandering ramblings.

"Okay, but his leg, how has he ended up with a wooden leg?"

"Well," Says the farmer, "If you had a pig like that would YOU eat him all at once?"


Friday, 10 January 2014

Divide and conquer.

I recently posted a blog entry, "The wonder of wondering", which related to the homeless and to those of us that have had a rough deal in life. It also dealt with our attitudes towards those poor unfortunates and has become easily the most read and most talked about of all our entries.

Although the entry only really related to those living on the streets, a recent television series, "Benefits Street" aired on Channel 4, stirred up a little more conversation and demonstrated to me just how disjointed our society has become. Comments came mainly either from those struggling on benefits or from those more fortunate people for whom the benefits claimants are pariahs and parasites. No inbetweeners though. The opinions expressed were poles apart and I must admit the vitriol contained within the comments posted by those more fortunate members of our society were, to me at least, shocking.

The main complaints aimed at the benefit claimants featured in the show wasn't the drug abuse, alcoholism, theft or bad language but was focused on one particular household and the fact that they possessed iPhones and an enormous television bolted to the wall. The young ladies concerned hadn't worked in years and were facing the threat of eviction after having their housing benefits cut as a result of the incredibly well thought out bedroom tax. So how did they get the telly? Could it be that, since they can't afford to visit the local theatre, cinema or opera house more than a couple of times a year they had clubbed together and were paying £4.50 a week to be able to watch the television programs that, let's face it, are churned out to keep them off the streets and prevent them socialising with others who may put silly ideas about fairness, equality and revolution in their heads. "But they don't need television, TV is a luxury." some claimed. Fair point, although I don't agree it's exactly a luxury, they CAN do without it. But come on folks, let the poor buggers have SOMETHING to do.

What about the phones? Why do they need smart phones? On the face of it this seems indefensible. However, if you are a job hunter you are now required to register with and use the DWP's Universal Job Search system. Online. If you don't own a laptop and have a home phone and broadband package you can use the library, fair enough. Except aren't libraries closing down left right and centre? An iPhone can cost, on contract, as little as £5.00 a week. A bus pass to get you to the job centre or library every day costs, in my area at least, £13.00 a week. Frugal, these benefit cheats, aren't they?

Others on the street were renting out their spare bedrooms to shady gentlemen from another street, probably a much nicer street inhabited by those more fortunate members of the local community whose taxes are paying for other peoples benefits, so that these shady gentlemen could grow cannabis in them. These people are using the money they receive to make up the shortfall in their benefits and, probably, are now better off than they were before. They have escaped the threat of eviction. Now they just have to live in fear of being prosecuted for the cultivation of cannabis and imprisoned for up to fourteen years. Greed? Or desperation?

I'm aware some of you are sat reading this and fuming. How dare I? Many of you will now be thinking I myself am sat in a council house, eating my free food from the food bank, watching my Brighthouse television while my JSA is in the pocket of a drug dealer and my children are wandering around in dirty disposable nappies bought from a shoplifter. I'm not. I'm poor, very poor. I own a twenty year old television. I work every single day, as does my partner. My children, now grown up and with children of their own, all work. I don't go out socialising and haven't for over a year. I can't afford it. I'm not on benefits though. For now.

But what happens if, in six or twelve or eighteen months time, my work dries up? What if I have to join the masses of unwashed immigrants, chavs and fraudsters queuing outside the Job Centre for my share of your taxes? Would you immediately think I was sub-human? Even though any hypothetical benefits I were to receive would have been more than paid for by my own taxes over the last twenty-nine years of gainful employment?

Perish the thought, I don't like to tempt providence, but what if the company you work for, or the Government department in which you're employed, goes tits-up? What if you've worked for thirty years and suddenly find yourself dumped from the world of the honest and hard working and deposited in the land of the devious and workshy? You've already got a nice car and a nice telly. Your gym membership is paid up. But you daren't drive your car, people will think you're a drug dealer. You have to close the curtains before putting the television on because that's a luxury and you're taking the piss. And what if the bloke that dealt with your benefit claim is sat on the next exercise bike to you at total fitness? What on earth will he think.

Who cares what he thinks. You've paid for the membership. You've bought the television. You've insured and fueled your car. You weren't always a bum. Those things are yours, you worked for them, use them. Don't be ashamed to be poor. Don't be ashamed to be unemployed. Do, however, be ashamed of yourselves if you're sat there reading the Daily Mail and allowing yourself to be one of the poor that blames the even poorer for your being poor. Don't look further down the chain of destitution to find the cause of all your problems. Look up the chain. Who's worse? The man that steals a coat from Marks and Spencers to top up his benefits, or the banker that "borrows" from a retirement fund to take a punt on the futures market and make himself rich? The former runs the risk of imprisonment, but is desperate enough to take that chance. The latter runs the risk of ruining the retirement of thousands, but is greedy enough to take the chance. MPs feather their nests, developers destroy communities, bankers destroy economies. Corruption is rife in Westminster and within the police force. The media spy on and manipulate the masses.

But those families on Benefits Street are bastards, aren't they?

I am aware that streets like Benefits Street exist. I walk my dogs along a few of them, I have lived on a few of them, I have worked on them and worked with the people that live on them. I have come across the very dregs of society on them and I've come across some of the kindest people I have ever met on them. The media is telling you who to hate and who to blame. They're telling you what to concentrate on and what to worry about. God forbid you should worry about our soldiers being used to kill brown babies because the fathers of some brown babies have killed the fathers of some other brown babies. Perish the thought you start asking questions that would make the establishment uneasy.

Just turn on your 48" LCD HD TV, tune in and drop out.


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Why Johnny Two Hats isn't, and never will be, a comedian...

I recently tweeted one of my van-videos, silly jokes told while I'm driving home after scratching a living somehow or other. A few people liked it, so I thought I'd slap a couple of them on here for posterity. Apologies for the sound quality and the shaky parts, they were filmed on my iPhone which was balanced on a cleverly adapted empty cigarette box and jammed into the paper tray on the dash of my lovely old Tranny van.

The funniest joke in the world, and the worst American accent ever.

(Let's call it revenge for Dick Van Dyke's quite frankly

offensive attempt at an English accent.)

And the fourteenth funniest in the world. 

Apologies for my disheveled appearance, and thanks for watching. If you did. If you didn't, thanks for nothing.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The blunted razor.

I've always thought of myself as something of a Luddite. That might seem spurious, since I’m quite obviously sat at my laptop tapping away on the keyboard and will, in a little while, be pressing a button that sends a file, wirelessly, through the air and into a magical labyrinth of servers before being distributed freely all around the world. Luddite? Yeah, when it suits me.

So maybe I’m a lazy Luddite. Maybe I carry the Neanderthal gene somewhere within me, the gene that caused their demise. A gene that forces me to say “You know what, this way works, let’s just leave it like this”. A gene that prevented the Neanderthal from exploring and from adapting. A very watered-down gene, but still I feel it’s effect. Thus far said gene hasn't caused me to throw a shoe into the wooden gears of a textile loom but I never use the electric starter on a motorcycle if there is a kick-start to do the job, nor do I press a doorbell if there’s a door available to knock on.

I have no problem with technology in the main. Technology doesn't always refer to iPads, Blackberrys or killer robots. Ball point pens, wood screws, the wheel and the axle that made the wheel useful are all examples of technology and examples that I embrace. I enjoy sitting at my laptop watching dogs do stupid things on Youtube, being able to pause live television so I can nip for a pee and flicking a switch to make a room warm or light. All those things, with the possible exception of Youtube, are very handy. They make my life easier in all the unimportant aspects of it. I don’t need any of them, and if I didn't have them my life would be just as exciting and enjoyable as it already is, just in a different way.

Maybe I’m better described as a fan of Occam’s razor. The simplest way is generally the best way. Why do we discover, invent or manufacture perfectly adequate tools to make our existence a little more comfortable and then continually piss about with them? I own a motorcycle helmet with Bluetooth. I own a washing machine that continually plays the first couple of bars of Westlife’s “You raise me up” (Don’t ask, I've no idea.) to tell you it’s finished washing. I have shirts that require no ironing and an iron that tells you when it’s hot. Somewhere, in a box or bag under a bed or in the loft, I have a fork that rotates to make the eating of Pot Noodles even simpler. Not a single one of these things is necessary to get me through my day, but still I bought them.

We've taken the internal combustion engine and used it to make travel and haulage easier and quicker. When I was young I owned many a shit car, and if anything went wrong with one I’d get out my Haynes manual and, along with a mate or two, would spend a morning or afternoon repairing it. I would use spanners, wrenches, screwdrivers, tape, grease and a hammer to get my pride and joy back on the road. I could put my hands inside the engine and feel the parts. I never once had to hook my laptop up to it to perform diagnostics and no matter what the problem was I could repair it. It may have taken me longer than the lads at the garage would've taken and there may have been enough cussing to make Frank Gallagher blush but the feeling of satisfaction when my pride and joy was back purring and roaring it’s way around the streets of Salford was incredible.

Every time someone decides to add a feature to a perfectly functional piece of existing technology they not only increase it’s functionality, they also increase the list of things that can go wrong. Servo-assisted brakes and power steering, fantastic. Until your electrics go whilst bombing down the motorway. Electric windows mean no more having to use your own power to wind your window down, but it makes escaping your car after plunging into a canal particularly problematic. There are vacuum cleaners on the market with the ability to sense dust and tell you that you've not done the cleaning properly. But you can see the dust, so why do you need a machine to tell you? Maybe it can sense dust that can’t be seen. But surely, if it can’t be seen, it doesn't fucking matter?

Machines now build machines for us. Machines design the machines that the machines will build for us. Our phones tell us when to get up, when to make that phone call we need to make and how to spell. Where once we’d turn to whoever was sat next to us on the couch to ask “oooh, what was the name of that song…” we now automatically unlock our phones, find out for ourselves and miss out on the conversation that might have sprang from our inquiry. Facebook allows us to lie convincingly to our friends and family and Twitter allows us to be completely honest with total strangers. Many of us will have read something completely inaccurate on the internet at some point and taken it on board without question. We’re letting the television educate and entertain our children, we even let it baby-sit them whilst we take a bath or cook the tea. Our cars tell us when they need servicing, our irons tell us when they’re hot and our vacuum cleaners criticise out lacklustre attempts at cleaning our homes. We rely on machines in almost every aspect of our lives. Computer says “yes“, computer says “no”, iron says “careful, I’m hot” and the hoover calls you a scruffy bastard. Technology is now our master, and when it decides it doesn't need us anymore it holds all the cards. No more helping you spell, helping you drive or helping you communicate.

The rise of the machines won’t need to be led by Skynet and it’s cyborgs. They won’t even need to fire a shot in anger. Skynet will simply decide that humans are all very much beneath him and ignore us. Our cars won't start or, if they're already being driven, won't stop. Our messages will remain unsent, planes will drop from the skies, smoke alarms will quietly giggle when our kitchens burst into flames because the iron that swore blind it was cold when we put it in the cupboard was actually glowing red hot instead and we’ll be crippled by Asthma made worse by our having filthy, dusty carpets. And, if Skynet wants to ensure there is no resistance, it'll let us keep Tweeting. That way we can moan about our lot, find others who agree with us and then get sidetracked by looking at pictures of dogs or reading life affirming advice from eighteen year old children craving attention and validation.

Personally, I'd probably not notice the difference.