Friday, May 25, 2012

If All You Ever Do Is Business...

I've just read Francis Beckett's The Great City Academy Fraud which describes how New Labour passed the running of schools not to big businesses as was originally envisaged but to entrepreneur car dealers, religious nutters and property developers. So instead of millions of pounds of investment from future employers, all kinds of creeps were able to pay peanuts to expel troublesome kids, massage GCSE results and get Norman Foster to design buildings made for the world class business of world class education in a world class country. All paid for by the taxpayer.

Our local school recently became an academy and this is the bloke who the kids I see during the week are grateful to. He seems like a nice man with none of the business bullshit you'd expect.

Doesn't it make you want to be young again?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

London is for Lovers

I'm getting used to travelling on the tube. All the lonely people, where do they all come from?

But there are dating agency ads on the tube, tempting London's young singletons, London's young heterosexual graduate professionals. Mr or Ms Right may be sitting beneath this ad, but without us you wouldn't know. And who talks to strangers on the tube, anyway? Nutters, that's who!

The ads are about presenting yourself for your date. Women wonder which pair of shoes would be suitable, not too high, not too low. Men wonder which colour shirt to wear, the blue or the white one, definitely not pink.

"Not the pink one," said Harry.

Last week I noticed the facial hair one. This one's not for the women, apparently.

There is a picture of a razor and shaving brush. And the question for this chap is when would be the right time to shave before his date.

He doesn't want to be clean-shaven. That would suggest a lack of wildness, a boring conversationalist, a predictable lover.

He doesn't want a beard. A beard denotes a lack of interest in self-betterment, a "take me for what I am" attitude, a lazy lover.

No, what he wants is "just the right amount" of stubble. Not a five o'clock shadow, not a three day growth. Just the right amount to make a good impression, to make the lady feel immediately comfortable yet strangely intrigued. Just the right amount to create an air of mystery, yet thoughtful, caring, a responsive and pro-active lover, a giver yet knowing when to take, a protective, manly man, yet a certain vulnerability, a tamed wildness with an appetite for life, sophisticated yet not easily compartmentalised, a no-bullshit yet professional and controlled man with a mind of his own, knowing where he is going with everything to offer to the right woman.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I must admit I've never read anything by Giles Coren except for his recent tweets. He shouldn't come within my radar. He writes for The Times which I have never read and won't pay money to read in the future. He appears on television in programmes with Sue Perkins who I have never seen on television for more than 30 seconds without changing channels.

So without ever having read any of his "work", why did I refer to him as being a "piss poor columnist" on Twitter this week? It seems a little unfair. I should at least have made the effort to...

Wait a minute! I did get a book of his out of the library once. It was about his anger at things. It was boring. He was boring.

So in the back of my mind I've got this impression that Giles Coren is boring. Just a memory of being bored one day for about ten minutes. For ten minutes of my life I was bored by Giles Coren.

I didn't really need for that ten minutes to take on the significance it has. But for the past few days I've been obsessed with what people have been saying about him on Twitter. And what he's been saying. I've even contributed myself, calling him a sexist and a piss poor columnist. I said this because he called a woman a "barren old hag" and because he bored me silly once for ten minutes.

He didn't offend me, after all. He offended somebody I'm not the least bit interested in. Another journalist I've no interest in reading anything by. And Twitter is full of people making sexist, racist and all sorts of offensive comments to other people.

But that boring ten minutes keeps coming back to haunt me. It's like a bloke I met the other week who now works where I used to work. I spoke to him for maybe five minutes and it was the most boring five minutes of my life. And now he's there, too. In the back of my mind. Gnawing away.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

First of all, thanks to Bob for alerting me to the book and for the review here which should give you the impetus to go out and get it.

I saw a hell of a lot of myself in the book. I have spent a lifetime trying to avoid situations made for extroverts. I really cannot bear gatherings of more than a few people and the idea of pretending to be a social butterfly makes me feel like a lost boy. I spent 17 years till last June in my own tiny office, shutting the door at lunchtime, only communicating with individual people when I had to or when I wanted a bit of a chat.

Now I'm in an open plan office, people in front of me, behind me and to the side of me. There is music and talk. I try to shut them all out and concentrate on my work but it's hard. I've luckily discovered a nice quiet cafe where I can go to lunch to recharge from the overstimulation of the office. I'm so glad I'm only working there three days a week.

The book is well worth reading but...

It is the concentration on the success stories, the find yourself a career you are most suited to, the whatever your interest is, keep to it, study it to be the best at it you can, the presumption that you are a deep-feeling, deep-thinking special person, that we all have something to contribute because there is something out there for everyone, that there are opportunities if you choose correctly and you study hard because you are damned clever and don't rush into things and there are so many introvert success stories who are the best at what they do because they are introverts.

Maybe there is another book to be written about how being an introvert in an extrovert world can fuck you up and make you think life is not worth living, maybe those of us who don't have the right stuff and never had an interest in anything that could make us money.

I have been lucky, I have been able to cope and I've been able to earn money in spite of my quietness, lucky to have worked for a firm for many years that valued diligent work which didn't need great intelligence or a degree in bullshit.

Anyway, power to Obama the introvert and his eradication of poverty in the good old US of A.