Connected! A wedding and a funeral.

Connected! A wedding and a funeral

Like the film. Except only the one wedding and not four.

The wedding I mentioned in the two posts below.

The funeral was yesterday. I had been feeling very anxious about it. I was going for the day. It meant flying to the UK, taking trains and it was going to be a long day. Plus there would be plenty of people that I should know but I knew I wouldn’t recognise. And, F was going to be in Japan.

So, he went to Japan on Saturday afternoon and, because of the funeral and the fact that he was away, that whole sinking feeling was back. The spiral into a blackness. But, I knew it was mainly because of the funeral.

I get up at 4.30 a.m. to take the dogs out. Poor things. It would be their only walk until I got back that evening. I felt bad about it but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

I didn’t even have time for coffee. I had to be ready by 5.30 for the taxi I had booked. The taxi was there, on time and I got to the airport. I had already checked in and was only going for the day, so no baggage – straight through security and a cappuccino and then straight to the “smoking cubicle”. Then queue up to get through passport control (I was going to the UK – outside the normal rules for Europe – bloody British.

I was flying Easyjet. Not my first choice but I needed to make it as cheap as possible.

I had forgotten that they allocated seat numbers now and got into any seat, to be reminded by a gentleman that I needed to go to the seat I had been allocated. Fucking hell! And it made me wonder why people would spend more money to have “speedy boarding” if they have seat numbers allocated. It became clear before we went through to the gate when the staff started tagging the bags which had to be put in the hold – they had counted them on and the overhead racks had run out of room. Still, it seemed to me crazy that you would pay extra just for that.

Then I remembered that I could also have “paid extra” to decide which seat I wanted rather than an automatic allocation, when I had checked in over the Internet.

We arrived at Gatwick. I absolutely hate the passport checks going back into the UK. Even with a British passport, I feel like I shouldn’t be allowed in – they make me feel like I shouldn’t be allowed in!

Through passport control and straight out to the smoking area.

Then to the station to collect my pre-booked tickets. Then I had some time but not really enough to go back to the smoking area.

It’s a bit cold – but I’m dressed like it’s winter here, so it’s OK. On the train. Got to Guildford. Checked with the taxi how long it would take to the crematorium (where the service was to be) and how much it would cost and, more importantly, if I could use one of the two £10 notes I had. Apparently, I could. The new ones have been introduced but it seems there is a while yet before the old ones go out of circulation.

I have several cigarettes and go in to Costa to get a cappuccino. “What size”, I’m asked. Erm, I have no idea. He shows me medium. I’m used to Italian now and that’s too large. “Something smaller”, I reply. He gets a “small” – which is still far too large, really. And I really want it in a cup not a cardboard beaker. But, hey, ho, I go with it. It’s a large cappuccino all right – but with a massive amount of really crap “foam” on top. But I drink it anyway. And go and have more cigarettes.

Then I get a taxi. I am at the crematorium early. The service before them is just going in. I have more cigarettes. I see people getting out of their cars in the car park and chatting to each other. I wonder if I’m supposed to know them. They head towards the building and me.

The guy in the light grey suit heads towards me. He’s unshaven but he looks like H, my best friend from school. I assume he’s D, his brother. I say, “D?” He says he is H. Oh, for fucks sake, I think. Why am I so crap. But my mind closes this off quickly. I can’t worry about it today. I give him a hug. I am pleased to see him and sad for him at the same time. I am introduced to his daughter and his son. This is the first time I’ve met them. His daughter looks the spitting image of his wife, T, who is the person we are having the service for today. She had a brain tumour and died a couple of weeks ago.

He is worried that I am OK. He introduces me to someone who I guess I should know but really don’t. It’s T’s sister. She is chatty and talks to me and introduces me to others that I don’t know and shouldn’t. We talk and chat.

I am introduced to M, who I do know although he is much, much older now, probably mid seventies. He was also a kind of friend from school days although was never really my friend and, anyway, was years older than us – but that’s a whole other story – if I can ever properly remember it.

M hangs around me. We go in together and we are to sit with close family, at the front.

There are so many people here that they are standing all around the room and, although I don’t look, at the back.

We have the service. T comes in inside a wicker basket thing. The service is semi-religious. It’s lovely, if you see what I mean. It is heartfelt and heartbreaking. She was younger than me – didn’t smoke or anything. Bugger!

We go outside. There are possibly 200 hundred people here. She was well liked/loved.

I am taken to the wake by some people who are neighbours. I hear afterwards that V (the wife) had been so pleased to meet me because T had told her how much she had enjoyed their trip to Milan. There is food and drink available but there isn’t enough for all the people here. I say that the number of people is a testament to how well loved T was. I say all sorts of crap to anyone that’ll listen. I don’t really want to be there. I think: this is the way it is now – I shall be coming to the UK for funerals – it’s an age thing.

I get to see H a bit. I hug him several times. M asks if I can come and see him. I say I had thought of coming in December when I have a couple of days’ holiday. M says that would be very good. I want to do this.

I am never without people to speak to. I am the centre of attention or, rather, the second centre of attention after H. They have all seen the picture of me and H after our first holiday together, on our own. The picture was taken by my mother. H disputes the date of it – I don’t know – it was my mother who wrote the date on the back of the photo.

H doesn’t burst into tears but almost, at several points. It’s been lovely and not lovely at the same time.

D takes me back to the station. I am very early. I have hours to wait before the plane back. I wish I’d booked an earlier flight but I wasn’t sure when I would be able to get back and wanted to be there in case H needed me.

But, he didn’t. And, anyway, he had loads of people around. I catch an early train. At the airport I have a meal, as I had only eaten very little all day. Then I decide to go through security. This, being Britain, means no smoking as there are no “smoking areas”. Bloody up-their-own-arse people. I’ve been overhearing conversations whilst travelling and, to be honest, it’s painful. I can’t imagine living here again. I hope, really hope, I never have to. I try to buy chocolate. They need my boarding pass – which they don’t, by the way. I say no. She says “it’s the rules.” I tell her I don’t want them then. I go to Boots for Lemsip and pills. The guy in the queue before me is asked for his boarding card. He says it’s in his jacket so he doesn’t have it. The guy takes his money anyway. My turn and he asks me if I have my boarding card. I say I have but he doesn’t need it. He’s clearly pissed off but accepts my payment anyway. I go and get chocolate and newspapers from WH Smith. They don’t ask me for my boarding card.

I wait around, have yet another beer and, finally, the gate is up. I can’t wait to get out of this country. The funeral was fine but the people travelling make me want to go home – and this is NOT home. I should try to remember this when I complain about Italians.

On board, the guy next to me wants to talk. He talks. Then he goes to sleep. We are late. I worry about the dogs having been inside since around 5 until now – which is already 11 p.m. I don’t even stop for a cigarette but get in a taxi straight away. They are a little bit super-pleased to see me. I take them out. I feed them and have a cigarette. It’s gone midnight. I go to bed and they come with me, super-attached. And then normality will start in just 5 hours.

God, I’m knackered.

And the connection between the funeral and the wedding? Well, this was the woman that H, my best friend at school, married those 37 years ago and when he asked me to be Best Man and when I made that terrible speech. Life is odd sometimes, isn’t it.

Same thing, different country.

“Not one of them is Italian!”

“None of them?”

It seems not. Except the “foreman” or someone like that. Or, at least, he speaks Italian.

I ask what they are. I am told Romanian. Ah yes, of course.

There are lots of tut-tutting and shaking of heads. What is the world coming to?

I say that this is similar to the UK. A lot of builders are Polish or Romanian (I have read).

Except that, as an immigrant myself, I don’t tut-tut nor shake my head. I also know that there are many Italians who would rather not do this type of work – carrying heavy windows up the stairs, balancing precariously on the ledge where the old window was whilst fitting the new window. And, anyway, these people will be cheaper, I’m sure.

It’s not a job that I’d like to do and quite possibly, I would be crap at it anyway.

My old hairdresser was Romanian. I doubt if he could have gone round fitting windows either. A waitress (until the end of the month when she goes to be an air hostess) in one of the local restaurants that we like is Romanian. Romanians are everywhere and in all sorts of service jobs. It doesn’t make them bad people.

Still, the reaction from the Italians is much the same as I’ve seen from the British.

I am saddened by it.

How is it possible to work?

This is another draft post from a while ago (I’m not sure when now – but sometime before March of 2014).

I am, of course, good at my job.

This is in part because I am old and, therefore, have a LOT of experience across different competencies.

It is also, in part, because I am able to see both the “bigger picture” (as it’s come to be known) and yet have an eye for detail.

And, you know the most frustrating thing about work, in general? Most people don’t have this – however bloody old they are. And now I’m working in Italy and, in particular, for a smaller company which (as far as I can tell) is run like businesses have always been run here.

So, to give an example. I need some information. This is fairly simple information which will be given to a customer. It requires about, say, half an hours thought and ten minutes writing down. Worse still, one of the people to supply me this information has actually already done this but his boss is blocking it because ……. well, just because he’s a complete arse, I suspect.

The dialogue involved the fact that they can’t give me the information because they haven’t had the material to look at. Well, I know that. We’re looking for guesses right now. There’s no way we can do more. And I won’t be holding them to these guesses in the future, as I explained. But I do need more than the couple of lines that they produced originally. After all, sending our customer those couple of lines would have made us seem really quite stupid! As I explained.

So, as I couldn’t get the information to do my job I had to go to the MD to explain. She, of course, understood immediately, what was required. And has told the arse-hole now and I shall now get the information that I could have had yesterday.

Perhaps I should be more like the effing Italians – wait until the shit hits the fan and let them take the shit?

Sometimes, I just want to say “fuck it all”. Dozy pillocks!

Excommunication. Hurrah!

From a draft in June 2014. I don’t really know why I didn’t post this as it seems finished and ready to go. So I post it now!


As you may know, I’m not that keen on religion.

Like all big corporations, it loses the message in its desire to control.

Still, I am surprised that something like excommunication carries any weight, these days. And, yet, recently, the Pope has excommunicated the “Mafia”. Unfortunately, as far as I’m aware, the “Mafia” haven’t responded to this by issuing a statement, so we don’t know how they feel about it.

And I read that someone has been excommunicated from the Mormon church because she was promoting the idea of women in the hierarchy of the church.

Apart from the fact that it’s bad form to think that women are “less” than men, to excommunicate her because of her campaigning seems a bit harsh. But, then, the established churches are hardly known for their democratic practices, are they?

But that’s not the worst thing, in my opinion. The worst thing is that she should be upset by this excommunication. This was not what Jesus preached – exclusion. He preached the opposite. So, if a group of people who profess to follow his teachings, do something that is exactly the opposite of what he taught, doesn’t that make them and their organisation so far removed from the real thing that, in fact, by excommunicating someone they are, in fact, excommunicating themselves from God’s church?

And, if they’re all excommunicated, doesn’t it make excommunication by them mean the opposite – i.e. that, in this case, she has joined God’s church?

It’s just a kind of logic, isn’t it?

The “Family” tag

Well, so far it’s taken me about 1 month to fix all the links/pictures.

But, I think I’ve done it.

Now there are a couple of things I want to do (such as linking to my “best” posts, linking to specific areas, etc.) which will take more time but, slowly, slowly.

In the meantime, I have got rid of about 50 or 60 posts (some of which were draft) and published some other draft posts (as you will see (as they are scheduled to post over the next few days) and as you will have seen already). Then set up some links from the old blog. And so on.

But, one of the things I just wanted to clarify, which came about as I was double-checking all the old posts. That is, Family. There is a tag “Family” which is great, of course, but not really that simple and could be confusing.

The Family Tag

In my head (and, therefore, on this blog) I have at least 3 very distinct and different “families”.

These are:

1. F’s family – who have always been so kind and who, initially, got me confused with S, F’s ex-boyfriend but, from the first time I met them have been very inclusive – i.e. including me. I treat them as family because, well, they are!

2. V’s family – who were always so lovely to me (with the exception of V’s sister, P and her ex-boyfriend who were, to be frank, downright racist!). I still phone on birthdays, send Christmas cards, etc. Of course, since the split, it’s not been quite so easy either for them or me. Worse still as V is now back “at home”, so more difficult for them, I imagine. However, there is a post soon about the call I made to his mum on her birthday. I still treat them as family because after more than 25 years of being my family, they are too!

3. My family – who, by and large, I dislike intensely. For a while, just recently, I was in touch with my younger brother but that seems to have petered out and, probably, that’s for the best. Just to be clear, there was my father (who died in 2003) who was a right bastard, my mother, one sister who is much like my father and two brothers, the youngest of whom looks slightly similar to me. I now have sister-in-laws and nephews and a niece – but I haven’t met any of them. I don’t treat them as family but as people to avoid. I find them intriguing in that they are my blood relations – but I really don’t have any ties to them. They are a bit like “ancestors” – but still alive (some of them). Only my maternal grandfather remains as the one of them who causes me to feel deep, deep love, even after he’s been dead for so long.

For all three above, if I post about them, I use the tag “Family”. So, it is possible to get confused by that.

So this is just to clarify the category.

IKEA is NOT a Modern Art Museum!

IKEA is NOT a Modern Art Museum!

“Where are we going?” I had to ask twice or, maybe, three times.

“To the opening of a modern art museum.”

Oh, OK. After all, I like modern art. It was in the Navigli area of Milan. We were in the taxi – I was in the back with Fi, F’s crazy friend from Austria, next to me and, next to her, M, a wealthy Russian who now lives in London (I found out later). Fi had come over for one night to meet up with M.

The roads were closed. We got out of the taxi and walked up at the top of the canals, where they come almost together and join in a basin called the Darsena. I remember now that this was the official opening of the Darsena – they’ve finally made it something of a place to go, creating walkways and parks. In fact, the whole of the Navigli is being “done up”. It will be lovely when they’ve finished. It should have been done years ago.

But there are so many people! The place is heaving.

Suddenly we meet some people. I kind of recognise some of them. F reminds me from where. For some it was Fi’s birthday bash in Vienna and for others the time we went to a sea-food restaurant (with about 30 people that Fi had invited (her dinners are rarely less than 10 people at a time).

F reminds me they are rich or “super-rich”.

To be honest, they look more like street people. Later, someone tells one of the blokes (who is in the “super rich” category that his trousers look good. At first I thought this was a joke. Thank God I didn’t laugh out loud!) They are black and loose, like a pair of jogging bottoms but with some 5 or 6 inches of rubber-like elastic bottoms. Underneath them he’s sporting a pair of “fashion” wellington boots. They look bloody dreadful. I wouldn’t wear something like that even if I was only slobbing out at home!

In fact, almost all the clothes they are wearing look as if they got them from a second-hand store. This is rich people for you!

Anyway, it seems that these people are the people we are supposed to be meeting up with. I wish that F had given me some forewarning as to who they were. Then I would have feigned remembering them which would have looked better, at least.

We wander down the street towards the station. There is a “temporary” IKEA store. Everyone goes in. It is IKEA but, given that Expo is opening in Milan in a few days time, it isn’t a normal IKEA store but just about kitchens and food – so at least the more interesting part of IKEA, I suppose.

We wander about for a bit and then go out. It seems the other rich guy, who looks similar to the super rich guy with the jogging bottoms, needs alcohol. I remember now, he drinks like a fish. They look the same – big noses which are red (from too much alcohol), short with particularly rotund bellies (probably from too much alcohol) and both wearing black. But they’re nice enough. And, apparently very rich. But, then everyone is very rich except us. They talk about going for an aperitivo (it is about 1 p.m. – whereas aperitivo time is after 5 p.m.)

We wander across the street and into a place that looks like a restaurant. Exposed brick inside to give it a rustic feel. We are shown to a table in the back room which is set out for 10 people or so. It seems this is what we were coming for. I don’t understand why someone didn’t say!

We sit down. 2 of the rich people (husband and wife – the husband being the one who drinks like a fish) are not staying more than a few minutes. They’re just having a glass or two of prosecco (well, in fact, she’s not drinking at all – he has a couple and then another from someone else.) They go and we start to look at the menu.

The prices are really steep. €20+ for a plate (not that big either) of pasta and €30 or more for a main dish.

It seems most people are having pasta. There are five people having that. The super rich wife is having two antipasti. I’m having the lamb. Of course, it is said that after the pasta they may take a main course. That will make me look rather foolish but, again, I didn’t know and F doesn’t tell me.

A guy has joined us a few minutes before. A tall guy bringing his small black dog. He also has a pot belly. Grey hair but thinning with some missing just above his forehead, the remainder tied in a small pony tail at the back. He’s loud and tends to dominate the conversation. He’s one of those who has ordered one of the five pasta dishes but he’s already says he’s going to have lamb afterwards.

We have to wait because, as stated on the menu, this particular pasta dish takes 16 minutes to prepare. They ask if it can be hurried along because M has to catch a flight back to London and has to leave by 2.30 p.m.

We have wine after the prosecco. There is no discussion on the wine. Super rich guy knows the people who own the restaurant. I don’t really care. I’ve been talking to M who doesn’t speak Italian but does speak English.

Eventually (but a LOT longer than the 16 minutes quoted) the pasta, the antipasti and my lamb arrive.

Except there’s a problem. We’re short of one of the pasta dishes. There is a general “no, share with me”, etc. But it seems the guy with the ponytail is the one without.

He refuses to share.

But he has a tantrum. Really, he’s about my age but he starts acting up like he’s a 3-year-old child. Shouting about how he was hungry but now won’t eat anything. How they should cancel his order for the lamb (which he hadn’t made anyway). Not only is he cutting off his nose to spite his face, but he is making everyone uncomfortable. Many offers are made to give him their pasta dish. He refuses. Offers are made to give him a whole pasta dish. He refuses. He just gets louder and more obnoxious. Fi, who is sitting next to him, suggests he “lighten up” which enrages him further.

I keep my head down and enjoy my lamb which is, quite possibly, the best I’ve ever tasted in Milan. It comes with a small amount of minted bread (bread soaked in a mint sauce) and microscopic amounts of a thyme sauce. It’s beautiful, but it’s not a lot. I’m not sure it’s worth €30. I don’t think we’ll be taking anyone there, to be honest. Yet the place is busy, every table being taken.

Pony-tail guy eventually calms down a bit. Another bottle of wine comes. Everyone decides they have had enough. M leaves to get a taxi to the airport. More wine is drunk. Pony-tail guy hasn’t eaten a thing! Yet he’s been drinking. He’s calm now and back to being the centre of attention.

I go outside with super-rich wife as she smokes. We talk about (or, rather, she talks about) how Berlusconi stole from everyone and how he destroyed Italy. F comes out later holding sweet menus and tells me which one I should have. She tells F that it was her husbands fault. He wound up pony-tail guy by starting to eat his pasta before making sure everyone had some. I’m not sure why this should wind up PTG in particular but I can believe it.

We go back in and have sweets – except PTG, of course, although he does taste a bit of everyone else’s. We have coffees and a digestivo. Fi pays for everyone, as usual.

We say our goodbyes.

It should have all been lovely. Obviously, there was no museum involved so I’m unsure why it was even mentioned. PTG was a bit of an arse, to be honest. All the childish stuff was really not necessary.

Later he comes to our flat to pick up Fi to take her to the airport, which is nice. I don’t see him as I am busy. But I hear him. Fi comes in quickly to say goodbye to me. She’ll be back. She says so :-D

Confusing “being” with “one way of living”

There are some things that, still, in this day and age, cannot be changed.

For example, I could change my sex, my hair colour, even have replacement limbs should I be careless enough to lose one. There is talk about being able to replace heads, soon.

But, until that day comes, I guess, there is no way that you can change your sexual orientation.

In spite of the fact that there are people who believe you can, you really can’t.

So, when I came across this article the other day, my first thought was to dismiss the guy as either a) a nutter, b) a religious nutter or, c) stupid.

I was quite prepared to be angry. In fact, before I even read it, I was angry. It’s similar to the occasions when I read how people can be “cured” of being the way they are. In fact, I’ve read it twice now. The first time I was angry and couldn’t take it all in and then I realised that, in fact, the title didn’t tell the truth.

And, so, I was able to read it again. And, this time, I had an understanding of what he was talking about.

The clues came in simple sentences, such as “[Being gay] has outlived its usefulness” and “I have experienced all aspects of the life“.

You see, being gay is not something that can outlive its usefulness. It is just “being”. The only way of not “being” is to be no longer alive. And, as I get older, I realise that it is quite impossible to experience all aspects of any “life” since you can never be someone else other than who you are and someone else’s experiences are, most definitely, different than yours and, therefore, you can never experience them. It is only right at the second that you die that you can say that you have experienced all aspects of your life – but, still, that’s not quite the same, is it?

And, then, in the very next paragraph, came the mistake the guy had made. “I came to this community” was the problem. Being gay … or straight, or transgender, or white, or brown, or black, or a woman, or a man, or short-sighted, or intelligent, etc. is not a community. They are states of “being”.

So, in fact, I realised, he wasn’t talking about “being gay” but, rather, being surrounded by gay people in, what is known as, the “gay community”.

He goes on to say that he’s been “open” for 7 years and it’s been painful and miserable which he masked with “with alcohol, drugs, sex and parties”. Yes, so we’ve all been through painful and miserable times – that’s not exclusive to being gay, you know? People I know are still going through painful and miserable times – but they aren’t gay. They’ve also tried to mask it through alcohol and drugs and, very occasionally, sex but found that it doesn’t really work. In general this is called “growing up” and “becoming an adult with the wisdom that comes with it”. This has absolutely nothing to do with being gay, even if, on the surface, it may seem so.

Further, I agree that love is sacrifice and so does my partner. So there’s two of us that agree with you on that. Once again, the idea that it’s only gay men that are not “willing to sacrifice” is utter tosh. These days, with our desire for instant gratification (whether you be gay or straight or anything in between), most people seem to have a problem with “sacrifice”.

But, in the same paragraph, he confuses “love” with the “community”. I’m sorry, but making you “gay” does not mean that I can identify with you. The “gay” tag doesn’t mean that I have anything in common with you – apart from the “gayness” – and just like if I was a woman, I wouldn’t like all the other women in the world. In fact, I would only really like (and make any sacrifice) for a very tiny number. So it is with the “gay community”.

I find I don’t actually like a lot of gay men very much. But, once again, that has nothing to do with their “gayness” but all to do with their character, their morals, their interests and their ambitions. In the same way, I don’t actually like that many straight men or women – and, again, that has nothing to do with their being straight.

As with all “communities” (or groups of friends, colleagues, etc.), you grow out of them as you grow up. It’s unlikely that your best friends, when you were five, are still your best friends when you’re 25!

I’ve never really been a part of the “gay community” or, as we used to call it, possibly before you were born, “on the scene”. I have been on a couple of Gay Pride marches through London – but long after there was any real need to have these marches (to my shame). I have great admiration for those activists within the gay community who have helped to make it easier for gay people to live completely openly. They deserve our praise and support. Sadly, I wasn’t with them in their struggle for, unfortunately, I didn’t (and still don’t) identify with them.

I am, in the end, an individual. I have blue eyes and am of average height. I have brown hair that’s going grey. I work in the engineering industry (not particularly by choice). I am, apparently, reasonably attractive. I have the right number of friends (for me). Oh, yes, and I do happen to be gay. But my gayness does not, in any way, define me as a person. It remains with me every day just as my need to sleep. It won’t go away and nor do I want it to. I like being gay. I like the fact that I find men attractive. It makes me feel luckier than straight men. I like the fact that I have a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend or wife. I like the gay friends I have and some of the gay people that I know (but who I wouldn’t call friends). I like my straight friends too but the fact that they aren’t gay certainly doesn’t make them second-class friends. My best friend is straight – and my best friends have always been straight – sometimes male and sometimes female. They become my best friends because we have similar characters and not because of our sexual orientation.

For me, the author is very confused. He’s confusing the gay community with life. He’s assuming that, to be happy, he has to be part of the community of like-sexually-oriented people rather than a group of like-minded people. He needs to get out more (and by this I don’t mean going to gay clubs and bars) and find some friends that are loyal, have the same moral values as he does, etc., etc. He will have to look outside the gay community and he will be surprised. There are all sorts of very nice people in this world. A lot may be very superficial – but then, he’s used to that. These nice people exist. I can assure him. Some of them could turn out to be gay but, given the percentage of gay people within a population, most of them will probably NOT be gay. Don’t be afraid. They won’t bite.

And, for fuck’s sake, don’t push your gayness on to these friends that you might find – they’re about as interested in your being gay as you are in them being straight.

It doesn’t define you, it’s just a small part of who you are. And you will always “be” gay because it’s not as simple as changing your style of clothes.

Dear Blackberry people

It’s coming up to two years now since I craved for and got the new Blackberry Q10.

I was so happy. My old Blackberry had become a little beaten and, actually, started to break up but I’d had it for over 4 years and it had been through the mill a bit.

But now you had a shiny new black object, still with the keyboard (because I’m old-fashioned like that) so it seemed perfect.

I was so happy with it. OK, so I couldn’t play Ruzzle with F (us Blackberry users were charged for it whereas he got it free) but it had the keyboard AND a touch screen, was brilliant at the emails stuff and now had almost all I wanted in terms of the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Then, just as the guarantee ran out at the end of the first year, the keyboard started playing up. Keys were sticking. I would press an “i” and on the screen would come “oooOOiooo”. This was a little annoying. It got worse. I googled it and learnt, to my horror that this was a common problem. As mine was just out of warranty, I was fucked …… for another couple of years, to be precise, as I have it on contract!

I looked at videos on how to replace the keyboard but could see that the problem would continue. So I found how to partially clean under the keyboard and I get by. In fact, I’m almost used to it now.

Every so often you gave me software updates which gave me new features and things. It was OK. I realised that, given that the keyboard was crap and you were in the shit as a company, my next phone would, probably, be something else, like a Samsung or whatever is popular in another 18 months time.

Still, you had a chance that I would consider another Blackberry.

That is, until a few days ago.

A few days ago, you gave me another software update. Obligingly I updated and, suddenly, some things started to go horribly wrong. My main problem was that my appointments in my calendar, although still there, stopped giving me reminders. Before, you would set an “reminder” and, up to 2 weeks before, you would get a sound (as you set) to inform you and you could then edit and change this at will. I rely on those reminders.

With my busy schedule, this was, probably, the most used thing for my phone, after the email.

But now, after the software update, although everything “appeared” to be the same, there was no sound or flashing screen with the reminder. Oh, yes, when you “opened” the phone, there was the reminder with the chance to modify – but if you didn’t look at the phone, I would never know.

I googled the problem and found that it was a “known” problem in that a lot of other people had found the same and it wasn’t that I needed to change any settings – it just didn’t work as it should any more.

But, not one to sit back, I had a look around and found that I could now set multiple alarms. Well, that would be good, except that you can only set alarms up to 24 hours in advance!

So, now, I have to keep checking my calendar entries, setting up alarms for that particular day.

I’ve looked but am unable to find anything from Blackberry that says “sorry” or, “we’re going to fix it real soon”. Or, preferably both!

So thank you, Blackberry, for ensuring that a once loyal customer will be looking for an alternative for the next phone. Fucking useless piece of shit.

Update May 2015: The last update partially fixed the problem. Now, however, the long “sound” I have for texts cuts short. Your update to fix the reminders came far too late and with no apology for the considerable inconvenience. Congratulations on royally pissing me off.

Mistakes and Risks

Of course, I don’t know it’s a mistake but it might be.

But, sometimes, you must take the risk. And, contrary to someone’s thought that I hate them all, I only despise a few of them (hate being too big a word – they aren’t worthy of my hate.) The others are unknown and, me being me, I have to take a chance that, maybe they shouldn’t be despised? Maybe, they aren’t, as I see it, corrupted by “that man”.

So, now I’m in this place that makes me feel uncomfortable. I have the feeling (and, in some sense the reality) of being “watched”, of being “under surveillance”. And, in some way this is true since, even if the source is hidden, the visits are there. And I’m not quite THAT stupid.

You see, I like two things in particular. Films and books. For me those two things are, more or less, interchangeable in as much as, reading a book plays out in my brain in exactly the same way as watching a film. The printed words become images in my brain, the things people say in the books become spoken words in my head. Film is just an easier version of the movies in my head.

So, as a result, I have helped to fund several films. We’re not talking thousands here, just some money. As a result, I will have some DVDs coming (next year, I hope) with these films. It does two things; it makes me feel good that I have, in a very small way, helped the creation of something new and it gives me a new film. The one that has been completed and is currently being touted around film festivals is She, a horror film that made me squirm. I would say, for a male, this is more horrific than horror. But it’s very, very good and I’m happy to have been a part of it; to have helped it come to fruition.

So, having seen some stuff a while ago which I thought were all rather good, it seemed quite normal and natural to me to help someone else out. It’s just another one. And, of course, it’s NOT just another one. I probably wouldn’t have known about it had it not been for a set of circumstances. And then, as I write this, I wonder if, in fact, those circumstances were really random or planned or “supposed to be”.

The problem is that the irregular contact that has been made has never turned out to be entirely pleasant. Or, rather, have, so far, turned out to be rather unpleasant. But, you know, surely one of the times has got to turn out better? Hasn’t it? And I go from not wanting to go further to saying “Oh fuck it” and letting it continue (or, in this case, reluctantly pursuing it, sort of), to retreating back as if I’m some sort of hermit crab, to the safety and security of the life and situation that I have brought myself to.

And, it’s a good life and a good situation. Do I really want to taint this with something that, so far, has only brought anguish and bad memories back? Pain and a feeling of being kicked in the balls?

Oh, fuck it!

In the past, these “mistakes” have always been made when my good nature got the better of my desire to leave the past in the past. When I’ve tried to help someone out. Each time, at the end, I say “never again” until, of course, the next time. Even as I start to help, I get these moments (sometimes a lot longer than just moments) where I question myself as to what sort of shit I think I’m doing, as it always ends in tears!

The last time, I tried to be so careful and then, at one point, even if my concerns were still there, I let it run away with itself, not realising that I was being played for a fool. But, at least, in the end, I realised what an absolute c*** that person was/is.

But that was then and this is now. And now I find myself in the “same ole shit”, you could say. So, in helping someone realise a dream of theirs, because I think the dream is worth it, I am opening myself up to be kicked in the balls again. Partly, of course, I’m doing it because of who they are but mostly because I actually think their dream is worth pursuing. And, after all, the sins of the grandfather cannot (surely) be held against them?

So, the question is: Have I made a mistake again? Will I never learn?

And the answer to those questions are maybe and no. Every time I have to have faith that THIS time it will be different. After all, we’re now talking about people who don’t actually know me and to whom I have been, until recently at least, a rather mysterious and broadly unspoken-of person.

So, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and wish them luck and hope they make it, in the process of which, I see some results which I think are more than worth it.

And, still, hope to God that this time it isn’t a mistake on my part.

p.s. I was partly prompted to write this as a result of reading this.

The adolescents have taken over the Internet

It seems as if we’ve lost the art of “discussion.”

Words like misogyny, troll, anti-Semitic, sexist are banded around, it seems, for every occasion that there is some disagreement.

The latest I saw was for something called #gamergate. And, on that point, how come, after Watergate, does everything have to have “gate” tagged on? They aren’t the same thing, you know?

It seems (and please mind that I said “seems”) as if it all started when some unhappy person spouted off about their former partner and their breakup but has developed into something else. I choose my words well. I did not say “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” because, actually, that’s not important (although it seems to have become so.)

So, this person called their former partner a liar and accused them of having several affairs.

This is very sad. Made more so by the decision to publish the details online, in a blog post. This was, apparently, to “make people aware” of what their partner was really like. So that others would be able to decide whether to trust them or not. But it strikes me as more of a “washing your dirty laundry in public” and it certainly didn’t make this person look good.

The partner was a “big shot” in the the world of computer games, having developed at least one themselves. Apparently, to get good reviews, this person slept with a journalist (who, I have read, didn’t actually do a review of the game!)

This partner also, it would seem, somehow managed to scupper some other thing, set up in direct competition to the partner’s own business.

So, there we have it. A person (the partner) is, apparently, a) a shitty person to have a relationship with (according to their ex-partner) and b) runs a business; trying to get favourable press and destroy the competition. That’s all it was or, rather, all it started out as.

The problem is that the original post is not a happy post. It reminds me of something one does when one is 20. A relationship breaks up and one side is more hurt than the other (which is normal as it’s rare that both sides “decide” to split) and being more hurt, they want to make the partner hurt too. It’s a normal reaction. But, unfortunately, adding a post to the Internet is a little like whispering it to everyone in the world. It becomes “public property” and, at that moment, because it’s the written word, a little like Chinese whispers, it takes on a life of its own.

It morphs into something different.

And, from what I’ve read, what could have been a discussion on how the gaming industry (let’s not forget that this is BIG business, now, not some nice little community of like-minded people) works and how it should work and what’s wrong with it, it developed into a fight between two camps and, at worst, an attack on women which it never started out to be. It started as an attack on one person who happened to be a woman but could have equally been a man.

So, what started as a rather sad individual trying to get some retribution for the break up, ended as something completely different – a fight between people with the minds of adolescents.

I mean, “death threats”? “Attacks on women”? It’s not normal, fair-minded people who do that, surely? And, yet, hidden behind the anonymity that IS the Internet, it seems we can ignore “discussion” and go straight to hate-filled rhetoric.