Self Serve Checkouts

24 08 2010

I read this amusing article in the Graudian today in defense of self serve checkouts

I, for one much prefer using the self serve checkouts. I don’t drive a car or have a family to feed (marvel at how sustainable my life is without even being aware of it) so I only have a basket to take and I prefer to be lost in my own little world with my headphones on rather than suffer the banalities of other people’s overheard conversations concerning which products they wish to purchase. Interacting with strangers isn’t on the high on my list of activities when I go shopping, there are times and places for taking the plunge and conversing with unknowns and a supermarket is not one of them. I don’t kid myself, it’s not a social occasion it’s a big warehouse full of things we need or desire.

I also like to be master of my own destiny, I don’t like other people interfering in my business, manhandling the things I’m buying or, judging me for the amount of reduced items I’m buying or the amount of lube so while I appreciate that some might like to have some subservient drone serving them I don’t.

If I could afford such a luxury I wouldn’t have a butler, I’d have a robot. When I drove a car I’d pump my own petrol rather than have some poor soul waiting out in the elements on the off hand chance the lord of the manor drives past in his Audi. I used the automatic car washer or the hose rather than the hand car wash because I don’t get off on having immigrants and prison leavers polish my beemer to inflate my ego.

I feel uncomfortable when being served food in a restaurant because deep down I know the waiter isn’t doing it because he wants to, like I was a guest around a friend’s house but because I’m paying him. Like a food prostitute.

So then I read the comments after the article, baring in mind your typical Guardian reader is supposedly a liberal, ethical individual (aside from all the ring wing refugees from the Time paywall who hate everything including life itself.)

What a bunch of whinging, incapable, stuck up little bitches they were!

Complaining of the challenge of having to use a self serve machine like it’s the most complex task that Man has ever faced yet referring to those who do the same thing for a living as grumpy teenagers who can’t do anything but shuffle their food in front them. Commentators wailed that they should be paid for having to scan their own damn shopping like it was the greatest indignity in the world yet in the same breath wanted worker drones to accept their lot in life and “serve” them like the good old days. They sounded more and more like Telegraph readers than those supposedly concerned with the well being a dignity of others.

They threatened to boycott supermarkets that had these infernal machines for the vile capitalists are taking away the jobs of the lesser classes whose simple minds could now only dream of the dignity that wearing a day-glo tabard and moving your arm repeatedly for eight hours would afford them.

Here’s a thing, many of our ancestors spent their whole lives toiling away in fields for the upper classes but then machines came along to do all that work. Yeah, it sucked that they didn’t have that job anymore but people were still needed to work those machines and there were jobs elsewhere which were better than being a peasant.

The history of employment has been one of machines taking over the backbreaking and soul destroying jobs that people have had to do and then moving upwards to more skilled jobs and having more free time to be a human being rather than a biological automaton. These transitions are never easy but does anybody really want to clean toilets or stack shelves all day? Wouldn’t it be more better for machines to do that instead and then for those people to do something more dignified that is worthy of the attentions of the human intellect?

I would reckon that very few of the anti-self serve commentators haven’t actually worked behind a supermarket till. I have and I can tell you that it’s a shit job which is both demeaning and pointless, not worthy of the attention of the miracle of nature that is a fully conscious human mind. If a machine can do it then so be it, the Machine doesn’t have hopes and dreams to be quashed by decades of repetitive mindless toil. Everybody needs something to do during the day but (most) people are capable of doing something more than moving objects in front of a laser for a living and than knowing their place beneath more “succesfull” people who stand over them with disdain,pity or complete indifference  while their purchases are scanned.

If you’re too lazy,simple,bad tempered or self important to use a self serve checkout don’t blame the machine or the company that put it there, look at the reflection in the display screen and blame that fool!

Sex Predators of the East End

20 08 2010

Classy. Grubby little cock-end who thinks himself “honey to a swarm of bees” to female fans and believes “Tell me how many people could have been convicted for squeezing a girl’s arse, nearly every guy could be up for” that gets upset when the jury thinks he’s a letchy sex predator and then he plays the race card.

I see too many of these macho ass-holes swaggering round this neighbourhood harassing women on the street like it’s their god given right and a cunt like this just epitomises them. So it’s nothing to do with race Aaron Fagan, it’s to do with treating the opposite sex with a bit of respect. I can see why that would be such a difficult concept for you to get your tiny little head around.

New Job, Inception and the conflict between reality and fantasy

5 08 2010

Adrift in a sea of dreams....

So tomorrow I’m going in for a meeting with children’s entertainment company to discuss marketing via social networking and the possibilities of using technology in their plans for a television series such as CGI and again promoting the series via the internets.

This is great, I am very excited by this but as always very wary. It is my pessimistic and self doubting nature to be concerned about tomorrow, I have a lot invested in this and were it to fail it would be a considerable blow to my confidence. The meeting could very well be the belated start to a career related to my degree in media and more importantly the start of a fulfilling and rewarding journey where I feel I can really contribute at something in a way that comes natural to me, rather than have to fit my square peg into the round hole of soul destroying employment as I have done in the past.

The problem is, while social networking and media are a keen interest of mine I’ve never done anything with it in a professional capacity before. I’m not 100% certain what to expect tomorrow and what is expected of me and that fills me with fear. Fear that I might be living in a dream world that’s about to collapse, that the fantasy scenario in which I know what I’m doing and I have the confidence to do it might come crashing down and I come to on some dingy warehouse, bewildered, clutching a totem and complaining that the rug I’m lying on is a fake.

This leads me to the film Inception which I finally got round to seeing last night. For those few of you who haven’t seen yet I shall be vague, it is such a captivating and well made film I wouldn’t want to spoil the delicious pleasure of seeing it for the first time. Suffice to say one of the main themes is the conflict between reality and fantasy and whether it is healthy to live in that warm and comforting fantasy when you have responsibilities in the real world (the festering shithole that it is.)

Now I have a very active imagination, so much so that like Leonardo Di Caprio’s character I have a complex universe inside my head that is as rich and textured as the horribly mundane real world in which I have the misfortune to inhabit. When I say “universe” I am being pretty literal about too for there are many thousands of star systems, worlds, habitats, cities, people, cultures, technologies, sights, sounds and experiences contained within. In Inception Di Caprio and his wife made a city of their dreams, I have a whole universe of dreams to myself.

Just part of the universe within my mind, each point is a star, a place and an environment as real to my subconscious as the dreams are to the characters in Inception

This stems from when I was a child with no brothers and sisters. Instead of the constant battle for attention and vernal dominance over one another that my life would have been if I were cursed with siblings my playtime was spent letting my imagination run riot. As time went on this fantasy world grew in complexity and scale and as I made the awkward transition into adolenscence the universe in my mind became a happy place to retreat to when the real world and the unpleasent people within it became too much for me. Of course not being a mentalist I knew it was just a dream and that I would have to wake up and go to school at some point.

This dreamscape might also explain my fondness for the more fantastical side of fiction and my interest in hallucinogenic drugs for both are tools to escape to a more rewarding and life affirming place than the grey life I usually find myself in. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware of what the real world is like, the horror, the violence, the intolerance, the stupidity, the pettiness, the general failure of Humanity to live up to it’s ideals but sometimes I just get so sick of it I retreat to a place more infinate in possibility and joy. This is not to say my retreat is a perfect state, bad things still happen and in the interest of realism and entertainment there is conflict but I have  far more control over this realm and the rewards are so much more satisfying than the meagre coins, possessions, spiritual lies and compromises that are the “rewards” in this materialistic and empty world we share. Some are lucky to get more, but then they usually have a lot of money to enable them or a detachment from reality similar to my own but dressed up with words like “religion” and “ideology.”

To reel this back into my original point every so once in a while daydream crosses over into reality. It is perhaps the most driving force within me, to make my imaginings and dreams come true. It does happen every once in the while and when it does it is the most rewarding thing in the (real) world for me. But it is also one frought with danger, my mind can get carried away, I choose to believe the fantasy more than the reality because it is better and less painful in the same dilemma that Dicaprio’s character in Inception faces. I might conciously ignore the downsides of something and instead run away with the unreal because it is so intoxicating and fulfilling only for me to have to admit actuality at a later date and curse myself for being so foolish when deep down I knew it was never to be.

On the other hand my pessimist nature can get the better of me. I worry myself into believing that I will die alone and in an existential funk, that my dreams coming to nothing and I become nowt but a joke on the sidelines of life watching more successful people pass me by. As with anything in life the key to success is striking a balance, to have the notion and then the ability and drive to make it happen.

I only hope the demons of my self doubt don’t scupper the deal tomorrow or that harsh, brutal reality doesn’t run into me like a freight train.

A Tranny life……

3 08 2010

Almost two months on the dole and my flatmate and I are in desperate times, the rent is two months in arrears and due to the nature of our tenancy (we’re “employees” who pay the agency to live in the flat and keep squatters out until they knock it down at some point in the future) we can’t claim housing benefit. We’re both short on money and Emma (the flatmate) who signed on at the same time as me still hasn’t received a penny due to some kafka-esque bureaucratic nightmare in which the Social don’t believe her situation yet have no problem with mine.

So today things were coming to a head, we could  both be out on our collective and shapely behinds this time next week. I spoke to my dad, not so much asking for money (I do hate having to ask money off my folks but sadly these days I have little choice) but just for moral support in what is quite a scary and uncertain time.

For most part of my life my father was quite a distant and private character, it was only until two years ago that I found out why. Like me he is a transvestite, a lifestyle choice we both revealed to each other during one of our pub lunches Oop North. Neither of us had idea of the secret life of the other, my dad was waiting to sus out if I could be accepting of who he really was and in quite a funny yet heart-warming moment I told him I was more sympathetic than he could have imagined. Quite a mind-bending  situation I’ll grant you but at the same time a wonderful moment which may become a scene in a film someday. At that point we both understood each other a helluva lot more than we had for the past thirty years.

So I told him what the situation is, that for the first time in my working life I was on the cusp of being employed in a position relevant to my degree in Media. It is only a freelance job with just few hours a week, not enough to live off but it’s a step in the right direction. I am genuinely excited about this in a way I’ve never felt about a job before. So many of us suffer in work that means nothing to us , as if suffering and misery somehow is more worthy than enjoying life and doing what you are genuinely good at that to see an opportunity to haul yourself out of the horror you have to take the risk and go for it.

We both reminisced about the jobs we had previously and how we felt about them, for him he worked over 30 years for British Rail moving from one souless office to another until eventually he was made redundant for his trouble. For over three decades he bit his lip and said nothing as he was expected to, pretended to be something he was not as conformed to Society’s rules. For some twisted reason we are supposed to consider this to be more noble and worthy than taking the gamble and living how deep down you feel you should.

My dad, who calls himself “Emma”  is free of those chains now but still experiences some conflict because he is an out and proud transvestite. He volunteers on a local steam railway, one of the passions of his life for as long as I can remember. He gets some money from this, just enough to supplement his pension but a few weeks ago he was asked to leave. In a typically British form of bigotry no names were given, no statements made, nothing was said to his face but it was apparent that some on the railway were not comfortable with my dad’s change of circumstances and made it their business to force him out.

Even still in the 21st Century and after so many hard fought battles a person who is different and causes no harm to anyone else is still prejudiced against by the mundane and vocal few who find it impossible to live and let live. Small minded and petty little people, those who make life a misery for everyone else because their world view has to be imposed on all around still have the power and the compulsion to interfere and judge. My dad and I could not comprehend the arrogance and spite of such people who rather tolerate those who are different from them have to destroy  lives when it is no business of their.

We didn’t feel anger, instead we felt pity for those pathetic and backward types. Perhaps they are bitter that people such as us can be strong enough to be who were are rather than who society expects us to be, what is imposed on us without asking. Perhaps their whole lives have been a lie and they realise what a cosmic joke it has all been and when they see folk such as us with the AUDACITY to walk unashamed they want to bring us down out of spite. Or maybe, some people are just cunts.

We then moved on to the sense of community that being part of a minority affords us, something the mundanes are clearly envious of. Because we still suffer prejudice from an unenlightened few we look out for each other. My dad remarked with great fondness the sense of belonging he feels when attending a pride rally and told me how he had his picture in the local paper. It was heart warming to hear the joy in the old man’s voice when he spoke of this for he was truly happy with his life now.

When critics go on that Pride rallies are a step too far and that straight people don’t “flaunt themselves in other people’s faces” they miss the point. For us we have to live our lives in fear that who we are will get us into trouble even though we aren’t causing harm to anyone else. With a Pride march we can walk in daylight and be PROUD of our identity instead of having to lie just to fit in with other people’s arbitrary rules and expectations. For one day a year we don’t have to be ashamed of who we are, we don’t have to put up with other people’s issues projected on ourselves and we live how we want to, how we should be able to live in any decent a free culture.

So yeah, despite our unusual situation my dad and I get on very well and understand each other on a deep level. And yes, he leant me the money to cover the rent arrears on the promise that when I finally start making it in this big scary city I pay him back. We could go for a girls night out in Manchester some time on that money, to Canal Street where we can live how we should and be happy with ourselves.

The Elderly and Change.

2 08 2010

“……it’s not the same today of course, since all that women’s libbers. I feel sorry for men today.”

After a fine evening of space cake, live music and intoxicating corsetry I found myself in a park with friends waiting for a celebratory fry up in a cafe. We sat next to an old lady who was taking in the fresh air and quietly watching the world go by, a perfectly reasonable way to while away the twilight years.

As is the custom of old-timers she imparted her views on the world to the rest of us, whether we were listening or not. It is a stereotype of those advanced in years to complain about everything that ever happened but this is one which is solidly based in fact. Personally, I would hate to have lived a long life only to find fault with everything and be bitter towards all. I feel it such as shame to review your existence and the world in which you have lived and find nothing to be happy about.

I would much rather have younger generations gathered round me in my twilight years (in many hundreds of years time of course) and amaze them with tales of wonder and adventure in the world before they were even born, to be smiling and content with my long and eventful life and my craggy old face to still have a touch of rosy cheeked frivolity rather than one of a bulldog chewing a wasp.

We choose to indulge these old timers in their unwitting portrayal of Grandpa Simpson out of respect though (espect for still being alive I would imagine. We put up with this sour-faced whinging  because otherwise berating an 80 year old woman in a park for her right wing opinions would reflect badly on ourselves, like heckling a child for saying idiotic things. Society dictates that people in their declining years should be allowed some peace, even if they say offensive and bigoted opinions. To ignore or patronise the sort of comments that would be cause for verbal duelling in a person half their age.

……..don’t reckon much to that Cameron. I don’t why I vote Tory anymore!

Ah! But here is the problem. These people still have the vote, their numbers are growing and their influence in our lives is still very strong even though they are unable to unwilling to view today’s world with anything other than bitterness, scorn and bewilderment. Ideally we should be hearing their wise counsel, be given guidence on how to steer the world based on their own experience but with such a fast moving world (although for me, not fast moving enough) many have become irrelevant to the times, a sack of ballast holding us back from making the changes we have to make for a better world.

In generations past the old timers could advise the young’uns “don’t eat those red berries on that tree, I did when I was younger and had the shits for two days!” Now, you are unlikely to hear grandma saying “I don’t rate those Apple products, the lack of open source alternatives in their operating systems means they have a monopoly over their users and can fleece them like country rubes!” It must be a terrible thing to become totally irrelevant in the world, to be sidelined and forgotten about like an old betamax video player. I live in fear of the day when I have no fucking clue what young people are talking about online, (and I hope Urban Dictionary keeps up it’s epic service FTW.)

But there are some old people who can balance the wisdom of their years and still apply it to today’s problems. Take Tony Benn for example, who still commands an audience at Glastonbury with his pipe soaked criticisms of the abuse of power and advice on how Britain should have gone without blaming things on immigrants or people having too much freedom. And let’s not forget dear old Ivy Bean, who until she passed away was Twitter’s oldest user at 104 after having become dissatisfied with Facebook.

The trick then is to MAKE yourself relevant to today’s world. Not to be afraid of the changes around you but to look at them and give them a go, try and engage with them. The Internet should be ideal for this, it doesn’t involve moving a lot and with a bit of practice and logical  thinking isn’t too hard to get around the basics. If Ivy Bean can get on with twitter than so can the rest of the vast grey army who otherwise sit alone in their houses with no-one to talk to (or at.)

With the annonymity of the internet the oldies could inadvertantly strike up a friendship with “brown people” and learn that they aren’t foreign devils but human beings with much the same motivation and hopes as they. Grey folk could learn about the world around them, see how it is changing and feel a part of it again rather than stare blankly out of retirement home window into oblivion. Do not be afraid of things being different to how they used to be, it is in our very nature to adapt and survive to new situations. It is this ability to acclimatise to new environments which has enabled our species to dominate the planet (for better and worse.)

…..and the police are useless, half of them our poofs anyway!

I had to force a pained smile to this, because of the aforementioned social stigma of heckling an old woman in park. What I would have like to have said was “as a half poof myself I welcome more shirtlifters in uniform. Nothing gets me harder than the sight of nice clean cock throbbing out from a pair of policeman’s pants. Plus if he goes bottom I can give him one in ass from the family of  Ian Tomlinson!”