It’s in the bag…

When did things go so badly wrong?

It’s like one day the world made sense, then in the blink of an eye the kilter has been messed with and the results are catastrophic. I fear some evil force is at work, and we may not have much time left to us. Oh woe is me!

*tears clothes in dramatic fashion*

Ok…ok, I think I’ve got myself under control now. Phew…that was a close one. I almost embarrassed myself with an uncontrolled emotional outburst. We wouldn’t want that to happen.

So what is it that has stolen my gruntle? Well, it’s very simple. Bags. Shopping bags and the content therein to be precise.

In the now long distant days before the current madness took hold life was simple. You’d visit your local shopkeeper, exchange pleasantries, possibly ask the splendid chap about his family or holiday plans, then he would place your purchases into bags, being careful to spread the load across multiple pouches and in equal quantities. You bid him good-day, and went about your business with cheer in your heart and a sense of balance in your load.

Idyllic isn’t it?

But now these exchanges are nothing but the stuff of legend, tales you tell your children when you want them to grow up as potentially well adjusted individuals who might pursue a career in retail.

For the past few months I’ve experienced a chilling and suspicious shift in reality. One that means there has been a change in the Matrix, a black cat of non-woven fabric if you will.

People have been packing my bags incorrectly.

I know…this is serious.

At first I thought it was a case of someone new to the trade, who had not yet been schooled in the ways of equilibrium. They served me with smiles and polite conversation, but all the while they filled my carrier higher and higher until no more could be contained. Alarm flashed in my eyes, searching in vain for a managerial figure to intervene, but then my Englishness kicked in and I thanked the person, dragged my cadavre-like purchases across the floor of the supermarket and made a respectful but encumbered exit.

Then it happened again, and again, and lo did the pattern continue.

My reasoning deduced that with the financial climate being difficult the shops in question had instructed their representatives to reduce costs by using less bags. Or that environmentalists had finally convinced the captains of industry to understand their terrible impact of the future of our beloved planet. But neither of these scenarios held water.

The reason I know this?

After each incident of uni-bagging, the friendly retailer would then ask the dark and mysterious question that threw my world into a swirling maelstrom of confusion.

‘Would you like me to double bag it?’

Double bag? But…why?

What kind of cruel game is being played here?

If you’d had used two bags and placed weight appropriate items in each then the need for this curious offer would be null and void. I would also be able to walk home without adopting a deep lean into my gait!

First it was one shop, now it seems the disease is manifesting wherever I seek to arrange the purchase of goods.

What sorcery is this?

At night I have lain awake pondering the significance of the plague that now ravages this once great land. Finally I think I have my answer.

Pod people.

That’s right, Pod People. Like the ones in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. Of course back when I first saw the movies (the 50s and 70s versions – I fail to recognise the 80s and 2000s travesties as canon) the idea seemed fantastical and incredulous. Now, I’m not so sure.

It also makes so much sense. We are a consumer based society, whose reliance on these establishments for food and necessary items lends them a significant strategical postion. If you control our nourishment, then soon hearts and minds will follow.

It’s so elegant…so evil.

Take heed dear reader. The pod people are upon us and they have assumed command of the food chains. What lays ahead, I cannot say, but if you hope to survive then you’ll join me in sharpening your hunting knife, or fishing bow (I’m new to this), and heading out into the wilds to begin the return to foraging and preparing our own meals. That, or at least stocking up on tinned food in massive quantities and having the supermarkets deliver them to your home.

But don’t let them inside or soon you may be smiling and incorrectly distributing goods…you have been warned.

How do you plan to survive under our new plant based overlords? Or are you organising a resistance, possibly named after a fierce furry animal? Let me know in the comments below, but be careful not to give away your location. Pod people could be watching.

Being Sent To The Tower

For the best part of forty years I have dwelled on the banks of the river Thames. This fluid artery meanders it’s way through the centre of our ancient city and, in its long life, has served as both a venue of trade and an inspiration to artists. Spanning the waters are those other notable London landmarks, her bridges. Although London Bridge is probably the most famous, due to the song and an over-enthusiastic shopper from the colonies, Tower Bridge to me is the true representative of our capital. Beautiful, classic in design, and hiding beneath its masonry petticoats a secret triumph of Victorian engineering.

One of my most enduring memories is standing on her cantilevered walkways as the sky was ablaze with fireworks celebrating the century since her birth.

It’s somewhat surprising then that last weekend was the first time I’d ever been inside the mighty construction. My family and I paid a reasonable fee to walk through her engine-room, learn the interesting history surrounding her creators, and finally amble along the upper section of the towers which afford a unique view of London.

The simple pilgrimage drew me closer to the bridge which has been for so long a welcome sight that meant I was close to home. It also left me wondering why I’d left it so long?

I think living with so much richness around us can sometimes mean we just stop seeing the possibilities that exist and miss the things that are there for the enjoying.

A few more walks may be in order…

The Turn of the Tide

The school holidays have begun, with the children spewn forth from their academic prisons and handed back to their families while the teachers head for a sunny oasis unencumbered by the noise and fury that is youth. Across Britain we scrabble around to find things to stop our progeny from getting bored and eating each other, finally it’s decided that a trip to the beach is the answer. What could possibly go wrong?

For many years now the British seaside has been portrayed as a refuge for city dwellers, replete with golden sands, nectar flavoured candy-floss, and a merry sense of communal affection between the holidaymakers. A quick trip to one will soon have you realise that the sands are often stones, the candy-floss comes with a full complement of wasps to guard it, and your countrymen would much rather you left them alone rather than encourage them to join in an impromptu sing-song about cockles and muscles. The kids of course will tear across the shrapnel and happily build sandcastles, albeit without sand…possibly making the results actual castles, then cavort in the sea seemingly impervious to the ice floating around in its thunderous waves.

This leaves the weary parents to try in vein to make a comfortable sitting position upon the shale armed only with a towel that appeared much bigger at home. Once you’ve settled among the crags you can attempt the herculean task of trying to read while keeping an eye on the children, your valuables, and that strange looking fellow slumped in his deck chair wearing sunglasses. Either he’s a descendant of a spider and able to sit perfectly still for hours on end, asleep, dead, or plotting your grisly demise. Only time will tell.

After you’ve completed a couple of chapters of your opus, removed any stray mountains from your bottom, and maintained a safe distance from Shelob Man, it’s time for lunch. You notice the family of seasoned travellers next to you have brought their own food, a hamper filled with the finest french breads, parma hams, vegetables that seem fit to burst with healthiness, and even a nice bottle of wine. They seem godlike in their splendour and appear to have a small patch of sand beneath them, with extra warm sunbeams glancing off their silver coolbox which contains a perfectly chilled strawberry pavlova. You search your bags for similar delights but only discover a bag of Hula Hoops and a Werther’s Original sporting rather too much pocket fluff to make it edible.

So, like Captain Oates, you venture from this place of relative safety in order that others may eat, traversing the rockface in search of fish ‘n’ chips. Following the enticing scent of vinegar and cooking fat you finally track down the purveyor of Britain’s finest delicacy and hungrily order Cod ‘n’ Chips four times (not because the chap is deaf but because you want four portions). Condiments are applied, papers wrapped, you pick yourself up off the floor after being told the price, then grumble all the way back to the quarry where your expectant family await the fruits of your hunting and gathering.

Then, unwrapping the bounty and sitting back on the smoothest stone you can find, the white flesh of fish gently burning your fingers, you smile and realise that life’s not too bad after all.  Maybe we’ll come again next year….

An Englishman Abroad – Part 2

An expedition to the ‘Souk’ (or ‘shabby marketplace’ as I think the translation goes) brings into sharp conflict two other staunch qualities of the English psyche – fair play and bargain hunting. Moroccan culture demands that a shopping trip to the Souk involve the age old tradition of haggling. To those unfamiliar with the principle it involves a shopkeeper helping a customer to choose an item then ferociously arguing with him over how much it should cost to buy. Invariably the keeper will start the bidding very high,

‘this pack of matches is very good quality, not fake, and it cost only two million pounds.’
‘…, that’s a bit steep. How about 50 pence?’
‘are you joking? Fifty pence? Do you not understand? These matches make fire! They will make you invincible!’
‘ok….how about seventy pence?’
‘seventy pence? You would have my children starve?’

These conversations can involve a variety of outrageous claims about the price these things sell for in other countries (including rather suspect ideas of how much they cost in your own), how the workmanship is top quality, and that the items are most definitely not cheap knock-offs from Chinese sweat shops, no, not at all. The dilemma comes in when you know that the guy is tying to get the best deal for himself and that you, a westerner, are obviously far wealthier than he. You applaud his courageous entrepreneur attitude, and feel obliged to support him in his endeavour, but then the idea arises that you could probably get a better deal if you pushed him harder. Thus begins an inner conflict that threatens to tear your mind in two. Each sob story he offers only provokes more determination to beat him down another 100 Dirham. Finally the conflict is over and you leave the stage carrying a bag filled with Converse and Nike shoes of dubious origin. The shopkeeper acts like you’ve sold one of his children into slavery, but you know that somehow he’s still managed to sell you the goods for about ten times the price he paid for them.

As I leave the Souk, trying hard to avoid the various Cobras that line the marketplace dancing for their charmers, I feel part of the history of the traveller. I have stood toe to toe with the merchants and not faltered, magnificently controlled my desire to scream and run from the wild snakes, and emerged withe new shoes. Today we shall count as a victory.

An Englishman Abroad – Part 1

In a change from our usual bloggery i’m typing this while currently sitting on a plane awaiting French air traffic control to allow us safe passage over their land. While the wonders of travel are often vaunted as a way to increase the mind, my more immediate concern is that of decreasing the amount of time it is going to take me to reach my intended destination.

This, I fear, is hardly the attitude a gentleman traveller such as myself should be adopting. For centuries now the English have been regarded as a travelling breed. Be it in the form of explorers such as Captain Cook, Charles Darwin, or Ranulph Fiennes, or the more aggressive form of colonization that we were once famous for. Our island home necessitated the use of the sea to reach our neighbours, and once the navy had set sail it saw little point in stopping at the shores of France (which was probably closed due to a harbourmasters strike anyway), instead heading out into the great ocean expanses in search of adventure and an indentured workforce.

The English aristocracy invented the Grand Tour, which saw them take trains across Europe while hoping not to find themselves in a carriage with a small Belgium detective and a collection of upper class cultural stereotypes, in order to overcome the boredom of privileged life and to see the world. In the sixties the package holiday became a way for the great unwashed to also sample the pleasures of the continent, while generally searching for somewhere to have a proper cup of tea.

Now, in our globetrotting, carbon footprinting age, we take to the skies on airlines such as Easyjet (whose hospitality I am currently enjoying from 33,0000 feet, France having temporarily sorted it’s life out) which pack us in like cattle and invent ingenious surcharges with which to lighten our burden of personal wealth.

Gone are the days of dressing for dinner on the Orient Express while we discuss rumours of new scientific discoveries we heard about on the wireless. Now travel is a chore, best ended, rather than part of the adventure itself. Would Dr Livingstone have taken to the wilds of Africa if he’d had the Discovery channel? Could Scott’s ill-fated expedition been avoided if he’d saved up enough air miles? Who knows…or indeed dares to dream?

Instead, iPad to hand, I hurtle through the clouds towards a country I know little of, with events to transpire that I cannot predict. But I like to think that a little of the British spirit of adventure goes with me, that coursing in my blood is a measure of the wonder that drove my countrymen to seek out brave new worlds, new civilisations, who boldy….oh wait, that was Star Trek. Well, to use a phrase made popular by one of the illustrious Captains of the Enterprise (himself a Brit) – let’s see what’s out there…

The Classic British Eccentric

For many generations now it has been an established tradition in British families to have some sort of weird Uncle or Aunt who have a touch of the crazies going on. Whereas in other cultures this would result in ostracization, shame, or possibly even complete denial, over here it is a proud and notable part of our heritage.

Uncle Arthur’s built another illegal distillery in his window box? How inventive.

Auntie Marge has combined nuclear fusion and knicker elastic? That should come in handy…

Grandpa has once again annexed the Indian sub-continent by employing the use of the Royal Navy and a sizeable collection of ground troops? Well, maybe he should have explored more diplomatic methods first, but bless him, he’s 94 and still has all his own teeth.

Yep the British eccentric is a loveable character, a whimsical inventor, a misunderstood idealist. This is of course unless you happen to be poor. You see poor people can’t be eccentric, no, they’re simply crazy people who should be locked up as they’re a danger to others. Still, you have to have standards.

There have been many famous examples over the years of course, Caractacus Potts being as good as any. Not only did he build a car that can fly, sail, and seemingly think, but he also managed to call the thing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – suggesting that he may well have invented some pretty strong drugs around the same time. In fact the whole reality of his life (yes, I know he’s fictional, but run with it) is somewhat hazy when you consider the fact that he falls for a woman called Truly Scrumptious. Heavy LSD use aside Caractacus is an archetype that years later would bring us the likes of Dr Emmett Brown. Great Scott!!

Just say no, kids....

Women have also given their all in the pursuit of professional strangeness, with the creative arts being replete with candidates. Although Tracy Emin scores pretty highly for her artwork that consisted of wheeling her bed down to the gallery and not bothering to tidy it up – thus making her either a brave new talent or the laziest cleaning woman in the history of galleries – there is one that stands tall above all others. Vivienne Westwood has for decades now been convincing some of the most beautiful women in the world to dress up in clothes that are clearly designed for creatures from another planet. The fact that she can do it with a straight face and get tons of cash into the bargain proves that she must be some kind of renegade genius.

A Westwood creation....or some kind of curtain.

But when you’re clocking up the crazy you’d be hard pressed to even get near the levels that Sir Ranulph Twisleton Wykeham Fiennes OBE has managed to accrue. Not content with attaining a position in the SAS (Britain’s military elite), Ranulph instead set his heart on more tricky goals and became the first man to reach both the North and South pole on foot – well, with about half his foot and only a few fingers remaining by the time he’d finished. Shortly afterwards he suffered a heart-attack and had to have double-bypass surgery. To recover he decided to give himself a little challenge, and four months after going under the knife he completed 7 marathons in 7 days. Yep….7 in 7 days. Alongside all this he has written bestselling books, was nearly cast as James Bond instead of George Lazenby, and has a job title of Professional Adventurer.

He has now settled into a quiet retirement, with only the occasional climb up Mount Everest to keep him busy.

Ranulph. You legend.

The greatest adventurer of all time?

Are there any heroes you know that can top our Ranulph? Let me know if you think so…

The holiday that is always….in tents.

Now, it’s been a long held tradition on these golden shores to build your dwellings from durable substances such as brick, concrete, and castle-shaped inflatable PVC (but the less said about that one the better). So it’s a curious thing that for several generations now the English have willingly opted to spend their precious holiday breaks crammed into canvas temporary accommodation with no electricity, plumbing, or heating.

“Is this some kind of gameshow?” you may ask in all seriousness. “What prize do they win for surviving such discomfort?” could be a sensible follow-up enquiry, but to your astonishment you would find the answer “No, it’s fun” as bewildering as the concept itself.

I think it's brightening up...

Whereas in some parts of the world the idea of being outside, communing with nature, and getting back to basics would seem a respite from the relentless drudgery of city life, the problem with Britain is that it is a green and pleasant land. Why is this a problem? Well, think about it….green…go on, it’ll come…green….that’s right, when you want plants to remain green in your home the most important thing is to water them regularly….ahhhhh, there it is.

Far from being the sun drenched kingdom of paradise that the tourist board would have you believe, in actual fact it’s been known to rain a bit over here. Then a bit more….then quite a bit more. In fact if we were to redesign the national flag to something more representative of this great nation, using the kind of imagery of, say, Canada where a Maple Leaf proudly announces the natural beauty and richness of the country, then I think it would probably end up with a grey background against which would be placed a large umbrella. ‘Come to Britain!’ we’d proudly proclaim, ‘where there are pretty much no dangerous animals and you have very little chance of getting sunburnt!’ – how would you resist such entreatment?

So why would we subject ourself to a thing inexplicable as camping? Well, one answer is that it’s cheap. Here I think is the first modern fallacy that camping uses to capture you in it’s canvas clutches. You see it is in principle a cheap holiday. There’s an initial investment of a tent (which can actually be quite a substantial investment), then the hire of the place to put it, and after that surely the rest is stuff you already own? The kids run free in the fields while you try your best to read that 600 page blockbuster you’ve never found time for at home. But no…. You see camping has a darker side. The gadgets. A tent is just the beginning, then you need a cooking device of some kind, then maybe some plastic plates, a torch, how about some foldable chairs? Before you know it you’re waist high in a collection of devices that bend, expand, constrict, and have a multitude of pockets. It’s like the Spanish Inquisition merged with Habitat.

Once you manage to stuff these symbols of empire into the creaking car, leaving the children feeling like they’ve been bricked up in the walls of Bedlam, you can begin the long drive down roadwork lined motorways in search of the nirvana that awaits. Arriving at the site you’d be forgiven for thinking a natural disaster had occurred in the area and all these poor people have been ousted from their homes only to end up in this destitute refugee camp. You unpack the kids, spend an hour trying desperately not to rip your house as you assemble it, enter your new residence, put the kettle on, sit back in uncomfortable chairs and watch as the heavens open.

Now I enjoy damp clothes and the feeling of never being quite clean as much as the next person, but camping is, as far as I can make out, something of a Zen pastime. You see if you can put a smile on your face, recognise the irony of the ridiculous nature of the pursuit, revel in having to walk 1km to go to the toilet, then suddenly the weirdest transformation takes place – you actually begin to enjoy it. So it takes ten minutes to make a cup of tea? What’s the hurry? You’ve developed callouses from the continual zipping and unzipping of the multiple doorways? It’s proof you’re doing something new. You can’t sleep at night because the heavy rain pounding on the tent sounds like a production of Stomp? Hey, at least the delirium it induces will help you get through the day.

People say that Britain has lost the Dunkirk spirit, but I say neigh. It’s simply moved from the sea to the fields and with it the knowledge that some corner of them will remain forever England.

An Englishman Abroad – Part 1

So the world cup is now over. England once again returned home a humiliated nation (more so for our crazy level of optimism for a team that has continually failed to reach it’s supposed potential), while the perennial underachievers Holland and Spain contested a nasty and spiteful final.

It was fascinating though to notice that as a neutral the game brought into conflict two of the pillars that British society is founded on – supporting the underdog and fair play. Before the game I was sitting in the Holland camp, wanting a team that had worked hard to reach the final to succeed against the might of European champions Spain. Maybe it’s the island nation thing but the British love to see the smaller guy do well. It’s probably why we aren’t particularly good at winning things and I’m sure that at times we’d rather be the plucky, brave losers that rose above their humble origins to overcome the might of a superior adversary then the actual champions themselves. The problem that this brings is that you don’t really want to win because then you couldn’t cheer for your team, instead we’d all be researching our roots to see if we have ancestry that would allow us to support the Faro Isles or New Zealand. Yep, we’re pretty screwed up.

As the game began it became glaringly obvious within minutes that the Dutch had a strategy to defeat the free-passing Spanish, and that was simply to ignore the ball and kick the players instead. Now, as a proud Englishman it should be noted that I’m all up for a hard, physical game of football. I’m no fan of players rolling around on the floor 50 times after a member of the opposing team has looked at them in a rakish manner, but if there is one thing that will overcome the support of the underdog in the Top Trumps of British culture then that is the fact that we will brook no cheats.

A sense of fair play, honour, and adherence to the agreed rules is the very cornerstone of the British psyche. I know in the past that I’ve been involved in situations were it was clear that someone I was dealing with had decided to try and pull a fast one (colloquialism ahoy!) and the sense of personal injury was immense. The fact that the situation in question was something of absolutely no importance and that the offending fop was actually having a laugh shows how deeply entrenched and possibly weird the fair play gene is.

For example, I support Chelsea football club and a few years ago we signed an excellent player called Didier Drogba who is a mountain of a man. Midway through his first season at the club he found himself being booed by his own supporters. What was his crime? Was he not putting the effort in? Not a chance, Didier is an absolute workhorse. Was he well off form? On the contrary, he was banging in the goals and terrorising the opposition. So what was our problem? He was cheating. To be more specific he was collapsing to the floor after innocuous challenges and then acting as if someone was trying to amputate his legs without the aid of anaesthetic. It was a pitiful sight. So we booed him, much to his surprise and consternation. We booed our own player who was having a great season but not playing in the manner which we wanted and expected. Thankfully he adjusted his behaviour, well to an extent, and helped lead us to two league titles.

The problem we had was that we didn’t want to win if it meant having to put up with any form of apparent dishonesty. Now some may decry this as symptomatic of a nation that is now unlikely to win things and therefore resorts to taking a moral high ground, and they may be right, but I prefer to think that at the heart of the British still pulses a nobility that demands integrity, hard work, and a belief in honour – maybe the Protestant work ethic stills runs in our veins?

So, as the world cup final progressed and the Dutch set about their dastardly plan, I felt a stirring in my heart and before long I could think of no greater injustice in the world than these cynical assassins winning the final. By the end I was desperate to see them win and when the goal flew in with only a handful of minutes of extra time remaining I cheered as if my own country had bagged the winner. Oddly enough the Dutch complained about a foul that had occurred in the build up to the goal, but that only made the whole thing sweeter – they had drawn their swords and then been destroyed by their own weapons. Beautiful.

So, although the England team were already on their summer holidays when this struggle for justice was unfolding, at least we were there in a more ethereal sense. I’ll claim a moral victory, in lieu of an actual one happening anytime in the next 20 years…

The old enemy…

The World Cup has kicked off in South Africa this week and England started with their usual stumbling drunkard style of play that resulted in a 1-1 draw with the United States. Of course the nation is now convinced that the team will crash to a humiliating defeat against the first decent side they come up against, causing the pound to fail, the overthrow of the monarchy by Vikings (again!), and the immediate sinking of Britain – only for it to pass into mythical legend alongside Atlantis and Luxembourg (what do you mean it’s a real place?).

So here for all to see is the British psyche in all it’s fragile glory. The Americans were not expected to get a result by the bookmakers or pundits (and to be fair without our goalkeeper helpfully throwing the ball into the net they might not have done so) but I’ll happily place a bet that the American team certainly thought they would.

It's just not Cricket...

On paper it was a sure-thing. England’s players are some of the most lauded in the world, not to mention best paid, while the Americans boasted only really two truly impressive players (Donovan & Howard), but football – like life – is very rarely about individuals. As a team the US ran harder, harried the midfielders, marked our world-beater Rooney out of the game by players who can barely get games for their teams, and pretty much knocked the confidence out of our glass heroes.


Could this be the classic English trait of stoic and resigned defeat bubbling to the surface? The never-say-win attitude that has served us so well for so long. It really is depressingly predictable….and so wrong that it must be stopped immediately.

You see over the years we’ve created pretty much every sport that really matters (sorry US chums but in a global sense it’s true) – Football, Rugby, Cricket, Darts and Snooker (ok those last two don’t count), but now get regularly trounced by all those awful foreigners who have taken our beautiful games and turned them into ugly things that require skill and mental toughness. Long gone is the gentlemanly pursuit of honour bound sportsmanship, replete with a glass of Pimms and servants to do the running. Now each participant is expected to carry their own weight and exert themselves until they actually break a sweat – how undignified!

So, as we seem to now lack the baser nature of the Italians, Germans and Brazilians at football, Australians and Sri Lankans at Cricket, and the Australians (again) at Rugby I suggest that we call time on these sports for the great unwashed and instead turn our attention to something more befitting of our national characteristics.

Tiddlywinks anyone?

A classy breakfast…

There’s a bit of a presumption sometimes in the media and generally in society that certain behaviours exist almost innately within social classes. One of these is that middle-class people are generally polite and tend to guard what they say so as not to offend anyone. While another is that working-class people will say the first thing that comes into their mind regardless of the consequences.

Now, to be fair, I’ve seen plenty examples of both in action, but as with any societal generalisation this varies wildly from person to person. Having worked in a vast collection of jobs over the years I’ve observed at first hand plenty of middle-class insensitivity, and a similar amount of working class charm and restraint. But there’s one story I was reminded of recently that showed where some of these traits can actually be quite useful.

You see the problem with caring too much about what others think is that it can often mean people don’t speak out against stuff they should. Now, if it’s life threatening then I have faith in the British that they will intervene, but if it’s just annoying then I fear our silence could well be deafening. A kind of ‘oh, I’m sure he’ll stop in a minute’ or ‘don’t look, and maybe she’ll go away’ attitude can often be spotted by the wily observer of British culture, no doubt linked to our national sense of reserve and stiff upper lip to endure all things. But now and again someone will address to nere-do-well and call them to account for their transgressions, and they will be carried away on the mental shoulders of the observers, a hero of great renown. Such an event is the one I mentioned earlier, and which always will remain in my heart as the true soul of British sense of fair play and mutual respect.

A friend of mine was working as a runner on a film set years ago, and during a break while on a location shoot members of the crew went to eat at a greasy-spoon cafe (or Diner). Among them was a producer who obviously liked that title a little too much. For most of the time that they ate this self-important figure bellowed into his mobile phone – making a mockery of the term personal-call. Sitting behind him was a small group of builders, no doubt loading up on food for the graft ahead. Having had enough of the pontification one of them turned around and addressed the producer with a statement along the lines of –

‘Oi, mate. Can you keep it down?’

Offended that this oik would dare to address him directly the producer lowered his phone stared at the man in disbelief and retorted with –

‘Do you know who I am?’

But rather than collapse under the weight of class brow-beating the builder replied in a simple and wise way –

‘I don’t care who the fuck you are. You’re ruining my breakfast!’

The producer’s class immunity shattered, he quietly turned off his phone and entered into the shame-halls of everybody’s minds.

To the builder it may have been nothing out of the ordinary, but to us mere mortals he spoke the truth and did it with dignity, bravery, and a slight hint of aggression. These moments are to be savored, and through this blog I want to keep his legacy alive, and encourage any of you out there who see such things to do the same.