What this blog isn't

It's not a Leeds-based exploration of the joys and challenges of shaping the mortar between house-bricks so that the rain runs off without undue damage.
Nor is it about looking at, achieving, or maintaining erections of the male variety. That's what the rest of the internet is for.
It's also not about drawing peoples' attention to the beauty of the Aurora Borealis by indicating it with an extended forefinger
It probably isn't SFW[Safe For Work] either (especially if you work in a church) thanks to the liberal sprinkling of profanities, heresies and blasphemies.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The give and take of giving directions

Why is it that in this day and age - when you can practically get a sat-nav free in your fucking breakfast cereal - do we still get people asking us for directions when we are happily minding our own business pootling about on our own two feet, without need of mechanical aid?

Even in the pouring rain. Car pulls up. You momentarily have a flashback to childhood when your parents told you never to speak to strange people in cars, but you shrug it off. You're a grown-up now, and - as far you are aware - haven't angered any mafia-types in your locale. You are not a sleeper agent for a now-defunct spy network. You are unlikely to be a prostitute. A car pulling up next to you is therefore probably not going to be the precursor to a kidnapping, a silenced bullet in your treacherous heart; or an opportunity for you to make a quick couple of quid out of some married businessman from Stirling, in town for a couple of days for a conference on waste management. Okay, maybe that last one - Stirling isn't exactly the French Riviera so any freaky fun the locals can get when out of town can't really be begrudged them - but it is usually just some cunt asking for directions.

I ventured out from the manse yesterday, briefly - as always. I loathe the idea of having food, toilet rolls, newspapers and suchlike fucking brought to me like I am some God-King in a jungle palace deep, deep in the heart of a lush, lush rainforest filled with the calls of strange, strange creatures. It pisses off the tiny remnant of hunter-gatherer left within this civilised, pussified shell. I itch to get out and bring SOMETHING home. An atavistic call from the hindbrain, maybe. Whatever it is - if I don't do it I get irritable. Even though going out just makes me bloody angry most of the time as well.

So I perform a balancing act of efficiency versus laziness, of need versus want. I plan my hunting trip to some extent. I know where the shops that sell the stuff I want to buy are. A typical man, my purpose is to get there, get the goods, get home...job done. If I have to go somewhere else I find out where it is and when it is open. I am directed. I am focused. Like the arrow of shopping loosed into the heart of the stag of consumer need. Straight and true. Pretentious, poncey and prone to claptrap - I'll give you that, sunshine...I'll give you that; especially with that last sentence about arrows and stags - but straight and true nevertheless.

So when a car worth around 25 grand pulls up next to me and the window rolls down, and the driver leans across his wife slightly to ask for directions to a house number in a residential street, like so: "Can you tell me how to get to..." I noticed one little detail about the car, and something inside me snaps - just a little. I probably shouldn't listen to Bill Hicks on my mp3 player during these little trips out - things never go well for the rest of humanity when I do. Glorious, clever, misanthropic dark poet that Bill was, he's not conducive to good-natured helpfulness toward strangers who couldn't be arsed to think about what they were doing.

The first thing that went through my mind was: 'What makes you fucking think I even know where I'm going, let alone where you're going?' I did not say that however. That would have been rude. What I said was: "Yeah, but...How many moons does Jupiter have?"

A palpable wave of puzzlement came out of the window at me. I was enjoying this.

"What?" he asked in a voice pitched higher than when he first spoke.  I repeated the question. He shook his head, looked at his wife and asked me again if I knew how to find the place he wanted. I told him that yes, I did - but I had questions too. Burning ones.

"What was Captain Mainwaring's first name in Dad's Army?" I asked him. I wasn't being an abstruse cunt just for the sake of it, mind you. The little detail that I had noticed was the sucker-mark left on the inside of his windscreen where his sat-nav ought to have been. He asked me again if I knew how to get to his destination, his voice now becoming angry.

"Yes," I replied with a smile, which was directed toward his wife, who was holding in a giggle. "If you can tell me the day on which your wedding anniversary falls this year."

Well, he couldn't have pulled away fast enough. I swear that there were marks on the road from the tyres and the scent of burnt rubber in the air. As I pressed play on the mp3 player I saw, further up the road, his car pull up by a young couple walking hand-in-hand. As the dark poet's half-mocking, half-caring tones started up again I hoped that the answer he got from them was in the form of a question.

I came home with forty cigarette, the ingredients for a variety of omelettes, assorted alcoholic beverages - and a steam cleaner. Well, they do say the journey is better than the destination half the time. I shall probably go out again tomorrow.

[updated to linkify Bill Hicks, Stirling, Henry Kuttner and Holly Willoughby. Getting the hang of this tech-know-low-gee, bit-by-tiny-bit. Baby steps old boy. Baby steps]

As well as listening to Bill Hicks far too much for anyone's own good, I have been reading Henry Kuttner's The Proud Robot - short stories about a drunken inventor (who can never remember how, or even why,  he worked when he finally sobers up) and his very, very, very irritating robot. That bloke never really stood a chance, did he?

I have also been forced to watch far too much reality TV - specifically The X-Factor - by people who supposedly care about me. I'm not so sure. When told that I could just watch Holly Willoughby for eye-candy ogling purposes, and simply ignore everything else, I replied that it would be like visiting an art gallery full of beautiful works - but having to stand waist deep in shit and used syringes while doing so. I'm surprised I didn't key that chap's car, to be honest. I really am.

[Just a thought - if I manage to get voted down to last place on Humor-blogs.com, I'll have to petition them to put a 'LAST' link on the members list page so I don't have to click through all the mere failures and half-arses who just stopped updating and who aren't attempting my epic Lucifer-like fall from grace. Bollocks. Now I need an 'UnDigg this' and a 'StumbledAwayFrom' button. More fucking work.]


Meg B. Kopf said...

Brilliant! I believe I've already mentioned living just opposite my town's only tourist attraction? Even though it's literally the only game in town, and there are signs everywhere, I'm routinely polled as to its location. I mean, it's RIGHT there! In future I will respond with existentialist questions backed by a Nick Cave soundtrack.

magnetite said...

Exacterly! If I had a car I'd be doing handbrake turns into the path of other cars in order to ask my driving peers for directions - rather than trust the plebeian advice of someone merely on foot, à pied, riding Shank's Pony.

Wouldn't give duff or misleading advice to drivers though. They can go a lot faster than me, and my days of jumping fences to escape outraged motorists are behind me.

David said...

New to your blog and like what I've read today.

Seems everyone here in the states has a gps in their car - well, except the ones that were stolen when left in the parked car.


magnetite said...

Thanks David and welcome to you. I'm sorry that you had to be held in moderation limbo. I must have tabbed when I should have scrolled when I was in the settings machinery behind the blog. It's off again now.

I suspect that the target of my advanced twattishness may have had his sat-nav locked in the glove box to prevent the kind of thievery you describe, but Bill was holding my hand that day and he didn't take prisoners.

I keep forgetting that the UK would fit into North America forty times over. With that kind of size they're helpful. In tiny old Blighty we have, in recent years, taken up the American love of the big car and the SUV. The thing is that here by the time you have walked from the rear wheel of your big car parked on the drive to the door of it, you're at the shops anyway.

Even if the walk to the driver's seat hasn't taken you to your destination, once you climb up into the seat, satellites are scraping the top of your head anyway, so the view to the shops is clear.

Jo M T said...

Also new to your blog, was directed via hecklerspray because I enjoy your comments there. S'funny, but I was watching Bill Hicks last night. Coincidence? Yeah, very likely. I also cannot be arsed giving directions to motorists, mainly because I don't know my left from my right unless it is written on my hands in permanent ink. I live in a town where everything is within spitting distance, apart from the spittoon. But I digress, most of the time I just say I don't know the area well (I've only lived here some 20 plus years) to avoid having to give directions to motorists who obviously can't read the many, many road-signs all over the goddamn place. Hmmm, it appears that god damn is two separate words. Who knew? Am enjoying your blog and shall return again.

magnetite said...

Thanks Jo. Hello and welcome. It's a little bit dusty around here as I've not been back for a while, but if you wait a sec then I'll put a magazine on an upturned milk crate so you can sit down.

I should get a fire started in the grate and water the plants. Oh, and I should probably blog more.

Thanks for the reminder that I used to think in more than 140 characters.

I'll post something soon*.

Your genial host

*This may not actually be a lie.

spacechick2007 said...

Thanks for the warm welcome. No need to go to so much trouble for little old me (am neither little nor old - yet). I'll just sit on the floor. I don't use twitter much as brevity doesn't come easily to me. (Even though it is the soul of wit). Wit isn't coming easily to me today either as I am recovering from a mega hangover and a distinct lack of sleep. Late night last night. I was attempting to get home through the snow at 3.00 am and saw a robin. That was one early bird trying to catch a worm. Anyway, enough waffling on. Hope to see you blogging away next year!