Tag Archives: current affairs

Becky says things about … whatever happened to 2016

O abandoned listeners, I’ve got a really good reason for producing only a measly four blog posts in 2016. The reason is that 2016 kidnapped me and threw me into a darkened cell with no nourishment or natural light and pelted me with the corpses of baby bunnies until I was stunned into silence.

And I know you believe me. You believe me because that is just the sort of thing that 2016 would do, because 2016 was a dick.

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Listeners, I really want to believe that 2016 just cocked up. I want to believe that, at 11.45pm on 31st December 2015, 2016 stood in the wings of the Present and muttered ‘Don’t cock up, don’t cock up, don’t cock up,’ but unfortunately, through incompetence and lack of experience, made a complete balls up of the whole thing.

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The thing is, 2016 didn’t just cock up. 2016 knew what it was doing. 2016 was a malicious, calculating badgerfart and, even though it’s left us with an almighty hullabaloo, it’s gone now and we’re well shot of it.

But where did it go, dear listeners? What happened after the evil genius skulked off through the pyrotechnic blaze at the stroke of midnight?

I’ll tell you exactly what happened. First of all, it refused to high-five 2017.

I like to think that an old year high-fives a new year as it passes the mantle in that fraction of a second that their paths cross.

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2016 sauntered past 2017 without high-fiving because 2016 was an arrogant weasel.

And poor old 2017 – who received a cold hard stare when it asked during its interview whether there was any truth in the rumours about the job being a ‘poisoned chalice’ – crept past 2016 like a condemned man on his way to the gallows.

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And while everyone was trying to gee up 2017 and make it welcome and convince it that it wouldn’t be that difficult to undo the irreparable and potentially catastrophic damage wreaked by its hellish predecessor, 2016 strode into the Great Green Room of Years Past, sat down in the biggest, reddest and squeakiest leather chair, crossed one leg over the other, and lit an enormous spliff.

After a few minutes, 2015 and 2014, who were awkwardly sipping tea and nibbling bourbons, plucked up the courage to speak.

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2016 made no acknowledgement of their presence, but merely tilted its head back and exhaled a languid plume of smoke that contained the ashes of our hopes, dreams, and the Great British Bake Off. 2014 and 2015 held their breath and wished they’d never spoken. Eventually 2016 looked straight at them and gave a slow smile.

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An audible gasp went round the Great Green Room of Years Past. In a dusty corner, 1347 slowly shook its hooded, scabbed head. Old 1347 has had some bad press for unleashing the Black Death that killed off nearly half the population of Europe, but, you know, it’s had a long time to think about what it’s done.

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2016 leant forward and poured itself a glass of scotch and cast a cold eye around the Great Green Room of Years Past, smirking disdainfully at 1929 and 2008, who skulked in the corner clutching the remains of livelihoods and life savings. You see, 2016 thought it was a bad-ass. An unbeatable, immovable tyrant, gobbling up and terrifying all in its path.

Slumped wearily against the wall, 1914 and 1939 drew on damp cigarettes, their eyes ringed with the guilt of shattering the world twice over. They viewed 2016 with the despairing wisdom that comes with age and experience. Slowly, 1914 rose to its tired feet, shuffled over to 2016 and looked down at it like a wizened old gangster over a school bully.

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2016 paused, held 1914’s gaze for a few moments, then looked away.

And so 2016 remains, like a despised, despotic aunt who never leaves her room and occasionally yells unreasonable and hateful demands down the stairs.

But what of 2017?

2017, dearest listener, is shitting itself.

I feel for 2017. 2017 has been sold what it thought was a brand new Aston Martin, but has quickly realised that it is in fact an old Astra, the tyres are flat, the windscreen is cracked, and someone has puked all over the back seat.

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We must be gentle with 2017. It has a lot to learn. It has two choices: shrug its shoulders and roll with gay abandon into the doomish cesspit created by 2016, spray shit up the walls and then hold up its hands and say ‘Weren’t me, guv’; or, it can learn from its heinous predecessor’s actions, roll up its sleeves, and try to clean up the mess.

 

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I will say this to 2017: if you lay a finger on Julie Andrews, I’ll rip your throat out.

 

 

 

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Becky says things about … a welcome letter to the royal baby

Dear Baby Cambridge

Welcome, little one, to the World. It’s an okay place most of the time, and we have some lovely castles – you’ll probably get to see those at some point.

I’ve got to tell you, you’re already the coolest kid in school, because you have that massive advantage of having really cool parents. Seriously, we think your mum and dad are great. Some of us even have crockery with their faces on it. No one has a side dish with my parents’ faces on it. That makes you pretty special. (One thing though – when you go over to your mates’ houses for tea a bit later on in life, you will always be given crockery with your parents’ faces on it. No one will be able to resist that. And you’ll have to be polite about it. Because you’re a bit royal, you see.)

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Aside from that, I feel I should tell you a few things about what you might expect from your shiny new life.

You may have noticed that gargantuan crowd of people who went mental with happiness when you came out of hospital. The best way for you to think about that gargantuan crowd of people is as a big, rowdy, incredibly enthusiastic and often embarrassing extended family. They will never leave you alone. Ever. Whether it’s a family event or a private little dalliance, they’ll be there.

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And by the way: that gargantuan extended family you saw yesterday is only the tip of the iceberg. Your actual, full extended family is probably about a million times bigger than that, and stretches round the Globe. No kid likes writing thank you cards after birthdays, but – jeez. Good luck with that.

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You may also have noticed that your gargantuan extended family were quite keen to take photos of you. This will happen. Ever-such a lot. I’ve got an album full of photos of me when I was a baby; this was lovingly put together by my proud parents, and it’s a private, cherished memento of my early childhood. Lots of people have such albums. Your baby album is called The Media. I can guarantee you that it will keep a full and exhaustive chronicle of your life from the very beginning (we’ve already seen lots of pictures of your cute little foetus-form hiding under your mother’s lovely maternity dresses) – and the good thing is, you won’t have to root around in the attic to find your baby album: you’ll just have to turn on your computer, TV, phone, radio, open a newspaper, magazine, or commemorative coffee table book, and there you’ll be.

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This thing called The Media will also want to write things about you. All the time. You might wonder why they’re so interested, and it’s got something to do with the fact that one day you’ll be our sovereign leader (more of that later), but you’ll still be baffled as to why they want to document certain things.

Just to prepare you, here are a few things you should expect:

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And by the time you get to things like this:

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you’ll be used to it.

Going back to that family-members-on-crockery-and-household-items thing, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Did you know that, at the ripe age of one-day old, members of the human race can buy Lego figures of you? Seriously. I have searched high and low for a Lego figure of me, but I can’t find one. Do you know why? Because there isn’t enough plastic in the world to create lots of little Lego heads with as large a forehead as mine. (The other reason is that I’m not third in line to the throne, but it was mainly the forehead that was the problem.)

Would you like your 1st birthday celebrated on a tea towel? You got it. Fancy your first steps honoured by a special edition baby shoes range entitled ‘Next step the throne’? No problem. What about your first kiss marked by every single foodstuff item in the world being made into the shape of a heart for a limited time only? Yup.

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Seriously. You will have a commemorative item to mark every single event in your life. First time you get drunk and vomit into a bush?

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But aside from all that, one day you may well be our king. That’s exciting, isn’t it? It might not be for a very long time, and you might look like your Granddad Charlie by then, but it’s definitely on the cards. And if you thought your life was mental before then, prepare yourself. You see, your family are kind of a big deal, and when they do stuff that’s worth celebrating – having Diamond Jubilees, landmark birthdays, orgies in hotel rooms – then we go mental about it. We can’t get enough. Just ask your great-grandma what happened last year.

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So it’ll all be very nice and everything, and by the time you’re our king you will’ve got to know us all very well, and we’ll have an encyclopaedic knowledge of your bowel movements, your allergies, your blood type, your favourite foods, your embarrassing indiscretions, your girlfriends (or boyfriends), your school reports, that unfortunate acne you had during puberty, the time you fell out of a tree at Balmoral, everything. But you’ll get used to that.

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Aside from all that, you’ve got splendid parents, and I’m sure you’ll have a very happy life – and don’t worry too much about the tendency for baldness on your dad’s side; your mum’s side has got loads of hair.

So welcome to the World, Baby Cambridge, and I hope they give you a nice name. If it’s Colin, ask them to rethink. ‘All hail King Colin’ doesn’t sit well, really.

Take care now

Warmest regards

Becky and Stickman

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Becky says things about … social media vs human brain

I am troubled, Listener. Imbued with angst and feeling a little perturbed, and I shall tell you for why.

So here in England a 17 year-old girl has been appointed a ‘youth police and crime commissioner’ (no, I’m not sure either) to represent young people across the country. In the last few days she’s been flung about like a mauled rabbit in the jaws of our Media for tweeting some rather silly thoughts that could be loosely construed as erring on racist and homophobic. Needless to say, chaos has ensued, and there’s been lots of footage of this boundlessly-coiffured young lady sniffing and apologising for everything she’s ever done wrong in her life. In an interview –

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Oh for heaven’s sake, Stickman, you once portrayed a woman who’s just lost her virginity, so I didn’t think a bit of a 17 year-old hairstyle would hurt. But fine, forget it. You do make a fuss over nothing sometimes.

Anyway. In an interview with the BBC about why this young lady felt the need to send these thoughts toddling into the public domain, she had this to say:

“Older generations haven’t grown up with Twitter and social media – they know how to talk to other people about [their feelings], but for young people it’s different: you don’t want to bother people with your problems, you just think ‘I’m annoyed: tweet.'”

Now. Here in England we have a newspaper called The Daily Mail. The Daily Mail would take the following stance about this story:

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I am not going to venture quite this far. If anything, humanity will be buggered by moral degradation and gratuitous salt-intake long before social media gets its claws into it, but that’s another story for another time.

However.

I am still troubled.

We all know that the social media revolution has ripped our brains open and encouraged us to splatter our profound cogitations (‘You’re sure you know someone and then they go and steal your last Custard Cream. TRUST NO ONE.’), our niggling concerns (‘I think my forearms might be slightly hairier than they used to be’.), and our banal musings (‘I need a poo.’) onto the face of the world for everyone to peruse at their leisure and take as seriously or as lightly as they wish.

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But I’d like to think that for those of us who still remember how to think and deal with thoughts and emotions using our consciousness inside our heads, communicate using our lungs, vocal cords and lips, and use a pencil to write words on some paper in order to express an emotion or a deep desire to kiss Graham from Accounts or to assassinate Mrs Fitzwilliam from next door for leaving out smoked mackerel for Cuddles the Cat and thus single-handedly causing the worst fox plague your street has ever seen, the splurging of thoughts on our Facebook walls is a choice rather than an unequivocal imperative.

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Shut up, Stickman. I was very proud of ‘unequivocal imperative’. You’re always raining on my parade. Just because you don’t know what ‘unequivocal’ means.

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Hah. That shut him up. Don’t challenge me to a word duel , Stickman, I’ll trounce you all the way from here to Thesaurus.com.

But focus, Listener. You don’t half digress.

We of the private consciousness and vocal cords and pen and paper generations surely remember how to deal with strains of thought that enter our little heads in a quiet, peaceful and private manner? We know how to deal with these musings, don’t we? No matter how agonising and potentially defamatory they may be.

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See? Stickman beautifully handled a very difficult anxiety. He acknowledged it, accepted it, and decided upon a strategy with which to contend with it. All inside his own sticky little head.

But what if he had done this?

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He would  have been branded a nature hater, forced to apologise to the Royal Horticultural Society, the National Trust and English Heritage, probably lost several friends, been disowned by his parents (National Trust members) and his life would never have been the same again.

But for those ‘young people’ whose lives in their living memory offer the ability to project every thought that enters their head onto a public wall, might they eventually lose – or, as time goes on, not even properly develop – the inclination or capacity to think thoughts and deal with emotions by themselves in private? What if the faculty for maintaining an interior monologue diminishes because there is no need for one?

I have conducted an in-depth, multi-billion pound scientific study of how the advance of time and technology has impacted on a human being’s handling of his interior monologue and how society has adapted to it. Please see following exhibits:

Exhibit A

Stickman decides to let loose his interior monologue on the world in 1993, with the following results:

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Exhibit B

Stickman decides to let loose his interior monologue on the world in 2013, with the following results:

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Finding A: Our concept of what constitutes information worthy of public expression has become considerably screwed. A statement such as ‘I’m going to buy a sandwich’ may now hold the same gravity as ‘My right kidney fell out of my bottom this morning and I’ve had a marriage proposal from a man who claims he is the Messiah and dresses up as a giant turnip on Thursday evenings.’

Finding B: Society’s willingness to accept the public expression of these banalities is potentially limitless. Will there soon be Tweets that simply say ‘I am currently breathing’ or ‘Living on ground under the sky’ or just ‘Alive’?

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There are no conclusions, as yet, to these questions that trouble my consciousness interior mind inside my brain in my head. We’ll just have to wait and see. When the social media generation is old enough to become our teachers, doctors, politicians, artists and grown-ups, we might see what damage, if any, has been done. Or maybe things will just be so different there’ll be no need for a private consciousness. Maybe Facebook will change ‘My Facebook Wall’ to ‘My Facebook Brain’. Maybe in 50 years’ time we’ll be looking down at generations of vacant-eyed grunters. Or maybe not.

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Whatever makes you happy, Stickman.

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