‘SHAKESPIER U R GAY ROFL’ and other attempts to bring culture to teenagers

If youth is wasted on the young, taking them to watch Shakespeare at the theatre is like escorting a warthog to the opera.

Expecting teenagers to appreciate the glory of the Bard is misty-eyed lunacy which should only really be tolerated in freshly qualified English teachers who haven’t yet had every drop of enthusiasm wrung from their exhausted bodies (ones who haven’t actually taught yet, in other words).

Teenagers hate Shakespeare because he didn’t have a great deal to say about N-Dubz’ latest single or Justin Bieber’s asymmetrical fringe. The only good thing about Shakespeare when you’re doing GCSEs is that he’s not Chaucer.

Aware of the general apathy about one of our country’s greatest exports (second only to Marmite and horse brasses) teachers have apparently been besieging theatre companies and begging them to make Shakespeare more accessible to the youth of today.

Initial plans to hand out tenners after each act to anyone still awake stumbled at the first hurdle when the cast realised they stood to lose at least £30 per performance.

Theatre companies have tried the lot: they’ve incorporated mobile phones and Jeremy Kyle-style roving microphones into Much Ado About Nothing, they’ve used puppets instead of actors (I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: if I was a puppet, I’d do the decent thing and throw myself on the nearest fire) and they’ve even tried performing entire plays in text speak.

I never trust anyone that tries to update Shakespeare for the kids. Give them an inch and they’ll be setting Pride and Prejudice to some hard house beats or approaching Peppa Pig to present Milton’s Lost Paradise in a bubble wrap bikini.

That said, there is great comedic value in watching theatre companies valiantly try to make the Bard ‘relevant’ to the youth of today – especially when those attempts include interaction.

I remember hearing about one Shakespeare performance where the cast encouraged teenagers to text their questions about England’s literary treasure to a big screen that projected them to the rest of the room. The texts would, the programme promised, ‘affect the performance’.

Around five per cent of the audience sent pertinent questions about Shakespeare’s imagery and motivation, the other 95 per cent texted: ‘SHAKESPIER U R GAY ROFL’ or some similar permutation.

The texts did indeed ‘affect the performance’, halting the text facility within 10 minutes of the first act.

In the 1600s, the height of modernity was going to the toilet in a bucket rather than simply sticking your backside out of a window.

Anyone attempting to “interact” with the performers at the theatre would have been stoned to death in the interval. Suggesting that one day people might be able to send messages to each other through the air without strapping a scroll to a pigeon would have led to a witch hunt and a subsequent barbecuing on the village green.

When I was at school I attended an avant-garde (longhand for ‘crap’) production of Richard III which was set in the Second World War and had the eponymous Richard dressed as if he were Hitler.

The novelty value of seeing Richard III with a toothbrush moustache lasted for around four minutes. The play lasted for four-and-a-half hours – it was like watching Dad’s Army: The Needlessly Aggressive Years on a continual loop.

All the above is a lengthy preamble to the latest misfortune to strike the house of WIB: my daughter has been told that she faces Shakespeare in her English lessons soon and has reacted with the same enthusiasm I’d expect her to show for deep root canal work.

My fridge poetry is better than Chaucer. Fact.

My fridge poetry is better than Chaucer. Fact.

Of course, I’ve droned my way through the timeworn ‘Shakespeare is good, honest’ excuses, but none of them will wash if they throw her in at the deep end with something impenetrably dull like Julius Caesar.

Introducing children to Shakespeare with Julius Caesar is like introducing someone to rock music by playing them Marillion instead of the Beatles, the Stones and The Who.

You can promise them that things are going to get better, but by that stage, Caesar or Marillion will have put them off for life.

So I’m changing my tack and trying to present Shakespeare to my daughter in a modern way that won’t alienate her before she’s appreciated the joy of the Shakespeare plays that aren’t really dull. That 17th century version of Taggart, for example.

I’m going to channel the Inbetweeners and tell her that Shakespeare is a short cut to hundreds of Elizabethan slang words for reproductive organs and bodily functions and that pages of windbagging ‘thines’ and ‘wouldsts’ is compensated for by whole sections of ‘Gadzooks, M’Lady, canst I squint at thy chuff?’ comedy gold.

The great genius of Shakespeare, I will tell her, is his mastery of the English language, his artist’s eye for detail and his unfailing ability to slip a willy joke into absolutely any situation.

If that doesn’t do it, I’ll threaten her with Geoffrey Chaucer. Now he really was, in the words of Shakespeare, a total poperin pear.

* I have a new fridge since that picture was taken. It seemed more sensible than trying to clean it.


How I am single-handedly saving the planet with my (vast) collection of Bags for Life

According to Friends of the Earth, every household has around 80 plastic bags – including Bags For Life – in their possession.

By ‘in their possession’, I assume they mean ‘stuffed in a drawer’ or ‘rapidly filling the car boot’ rather than suggesting that people carry 80 plastic bags on their person at all times.

That would be ridiculous. I can only fit about 22 in my coat without looking like a terrorist.

Asking for a single-use plastic bag at a shop counter is now only marginally more socially acceptable than lighting up a fag in a pre-school and asking an asthmatic toddler to hold the packet while you open another can of lager.

This man has never, ever used a plastic bag. Or a bar of soap.

If you do forget to scale the Bag For Life mountain before you go shopping, you are duty bound to buy yet another BFL lest you are singled out as the kind of person that chokes birds on the seashore or fly-tips in beauty spots for larks.

Generally, the reason I forget to bring my shopping bags into shops is because I ‘only pop in for a loaf of bread’, only to be utterly hoodwinked by absolutely any offer being advertised in-store. One loaf of bread swiftly becomes a basket full of Buy One Get One Free offers that truly could feed the 5,000 and definitely couldn’t be carried to the car without a bag.

The new bag joins its plastic siblings until the mountain grows so high that even I can’t ignore it any longer. At that point, I take a bag full of bags to a charity shop so they can offer them to customers.

Yes: I use my own profligate bag buying to make me look good. I truly am the scum of the Earth.

The answer, of course, is to carry those jute bags, aka Bags That Smell For Life. I have about 50 of them, too, and the charity shop won’t take them on the grounds that since Mary Portas (ruthless reality TV show retail doyenne), they’ve moved away from selling unpleasant things that whiff and started charging £3.50 for Peter Andre’s autobiography even though you can get it on eBay for 99p.

But that’s another story, and one that makes me look miserly as opposed to selfish, so we’ll save it for another day.

NB: Britons believe that all Americans carry their shopping home in brown paper bags. Is this true? I’d like to see you try that trick with my weekly shopping.


Why ‘Girl Power!’ makes me want to climb into a microwave oven with a pocketful of spoons.

News that The Spice Girls are planning a West End musical is a bit like receiving notification in the post that you’re due for a smear test.

You’ve known it’s been on the cards for a while, you haven’t been looking forward to it, but if you just grit your teeth and get on with it, hopefully the pain will be short-lived.

After their disastrous reunion in 2007, Our Ladies of the Hideously Unsuccessful Solo Careers have announced they are ‘brainstorming’ with Mamma Mia! Producer Judy Craymer to create Viva Forever: The Story of the Spice Girls.

Brainstorming with the Spice Girls: there’s a concept.

On the plus side, the working title of the musical isn’t “Girl Power”, a phrase I loathe so completely that when I heard it on Britain’s Got Talent a month or two ago, I had to fight the urge to gouge out my ear canals with a pair of nail scissors so I would never hear it again.

For those of you who might have forgotten, Girl Power involves turning a blind eye to your husband’s infidelities, having eye-wateringly extreme eating disorders which include rooting around in George Michael’s bin for leftovers and hiring witch doctors to perform love spells involving Eddie Murphy’s pants and a pickle jar.

Victoria Beckham's figure is the envy of the world

The Spice Girls tirelessly fought for a woman’s right to wear microscopic hotpants and halter-neck tops – think Emmeline Pankhurst if she’d dolled herself up a bit and stopped banging on about politics.

They sang one feminist-lite song about telling men what they really, really wanted and then stuck to beige love songs and choreographed dance routines – all of which served to make the male svengalis behind the band hugely wealthy. Girl Power!

With the launch of a musical, we can look forward to lots of personal appearances, photo calls and endless interviews about ‘empowerment’ and ‘friendship’.

Of the Spice Girls, only Mel C – dubbed ‘the ugly one’ back in 1996 – and Emma Bunton – ‘the fat one’ – look as if they don’t earn their money hanging around on street corners offering sailors saucy cuddles for a handful of grubby small change.

Indeed Mel C looks positively radiant next to Victoria Beckham, who resembles a Versace-clad preying mantis wearing an Andy Warhol wig and the rictus grin of a cadaver.

Mel B, once a terrifying harpy who looked as if she was only one misjudged comment away from glassing you in the face, now looks about as scary as a bowl of blancmange being gently agitated by Dickens’ Tiny Tim.

Mel B at the height of her sexual allure

One’s ability to terrify mankind diminishes somewhat when your public learn that you’ve tearfully demanded a DNA test from the Donkey in Shrek in order to prove he’s your daughter’s father and taken part in a ballroom dancing competition.

Geri Halliwell, meanwhile, remains the haunted shop mannequin we have grown to know and ignore, a talent vacuum who has completely refused to let a lack of any discernible ability prevent her from describing herself as ‘an entertainer’.

It’s this kind of plucky attitude which would have netted her the consolation prize for village idiots at school prize day for learning to put her clothes on the right way round after PE.

The Spice Girls’ ill-fated reunion was believed to be the result of Take That’s triumphant return to the charts some months beforehand.

What Victoria and clan conveniently ignored was that the secret behind the incredible success of Take That’s reunion and subsequent follow-up singles was due to the fact that the public were genuinely interested to see some old faces again.

Bar the odd appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, or news from my cousin in Manchester that Jason had joined her pilates class (apparently, he was hung like a donkey), we’d heard nothing of Gary, Howard, Mark and Mr Orange for years.

Since the Spice Girls went their separate ways, barely a day went by without at least one of them appearing on a reality show, judging a reality show, writing an autobiography, having a baby, failing to chart or being involved in a love triangle involving a footballer, a Hollywood actor and a woman who pleasures pigs on farms.

The Spice Girls didn’t so much split up, they dispersed.

Scary, Ginger, Baby, Sporty and Posh were what happened when you base your music career on an image and not talent, Take That were what happens when you let the fat one stay in the group because he can write good songs.

We can but hope that the musical is as successful as the world tour – not that that stopped them last time.


Baguette eating surrender bird threatens humanity. Well, France and Switzerland.

A bird has pulled off a clever parody of Dan Brown’s interminable yawn-fest Angels and Demons by disabling Cern’s Large Hadron Collider with “a bit of baguette”.

The LHC, for the unenlightened, is a huge particle accelerator housed on the French/Swiss border which scientists hope will unlock the so-called ‘God particle’ and recreate the birth of the universe in miniature.

Astro-physics explained brilliantly, for free. Don’t say I don’t spoil you.

While I don’t know much about unlocking the secrets of the universe (I dropped physics when I was 14), I am fairly sure that the key to the lock isn’t a baguette dropped by a bird.

According to Cern, a bird – still on the wing from authorities – dropped a piece of baguette into the atom-smasher’s outdoor machinery last week and caused a short circuit and untold financial damage.

A spokesman confirmed the bread was “naked and unfilled”, ruling out customers from Subway, and that scientists believed the culprit to be a bird which “had been spotted beforehand near the substation carrying bread.”

This incredible machine will unlock mysteries that have perplexed the human race for centuries. Oh, hang on, there's a bit of baguette. Forget I said anything.

Behold! The key to the universe! Oh hang on, there's a bit of baguette in the hard drive. Forget I said anything.

In its bid to twist time and prevent scientists from answering the big questions that have plagued mankind since we stopped believing we’d fall off the edge of the world if we sailed for long enough and that the Earth was the centre of the universe, the bird had made a textbook error.

Everyone is going to notice a bird carrying a baguette. I’d be surprised if grainy footage from a mobile phone doesn’t turn up on You’ve Been Framed – why take the risk when a well-aimed spot of defecation could have done the job just as well, if not better?

Because the machine wasn’t switched on, the baguette damage was collateral rather than cataclysmic. It would be adding insult to injury if in addition to giving us avian flu, birds also created black holes large enough to swallow entire tracts of Europe.

Lunatics and straw-clutching fatalists who believe the world will end in 2012 (when my mortgage is still outstanding? I should be so lucky) have claimed that ‘baguette bird’ is an example of the LHC sabotaging itself from the future.

A bit like smoking when you’ve got a history of heart problems in your family, or drinking 12 cocktails and then telling your best friend’s husband that you’ve always wondered what it might be like if he took you from behind.

They believe the frequency of Cern’s accidents is more than a coincidence and that the Higgs Boson, which sounds like the double-barrelled surname of a posh boy at boarding school but is, in fact the particle physicists hope to produce with the LHC might be ‘abhorrent to nature’.

Avid watchers of Doctor Who take note: this means that the creation of the Higgs Boson at some point in the future would ripple backwards through time to put a stop to whatever it was that had created it in the first place.

Let me give you a moment while your brain stops spinning.

Given this science fiction style scenario, you’d hope that the £10 billion LHC would have come up with something better than a baguette carrying bird.

An invisible cyborg teleported into the heart of the machine to wage war against time, perhaps, or a tiny alien robot ant hidden in the mail; anything, in short, than a cack-handed French bird on its way to a picnic.

In addition to our feathered friend, the LHC has been hit by other mishaps, ranging from an explosion during its construction to a malfunction during its first use.

The devout believe it’s God’s way of calling a halt to humans messing with the fabric of time, much in the same way He stopped me from making a circuit in an IT lesson at school because He knew I should never be afforded that kind of power.

Today a circuit that illuminates a fairy light bulb: tomorrow a particle accelerator that can be derailed by a bird and single-handedly wipe out the world’s supply of Lindt chocolate and Camembert.

Baguettes not withstanding, scientists are planning to fire up the LHC in the near future to see if it can produce the Higgs Boson particle which will open the door to all kinds of other mysteries, such as the origins and nature of dark matter, extra dimensions in space and why Richard Hammond thought that advertisement for Morrisson’s was a good idea.

Frankly, if it can be short-circuited by a bird flying overhead, I’m not holding out too much hope that it’ll give us an answer to the meaning of life any time in the near future.

But if it does, I will refer you all to my post wholeheartedly and enthusiastically supporting the LHC that I wrote in 2036.

*** Apologies if you thought I had fallen into a black hole created by the Hadron Collider. I haven’t. I’ve just been working myself into an early grave, which is far less exciting ***


Women allowed to box at the Olympics? Next thing you know, they’ll allow us to vote

For years, women were denied the right to box in the Olympics on the grounds that pre-menstrual tension made us all ‘unstable’.

Now, the Olympic Committee has announced that women can compete in 2012 and have the same right as men to willingly open themselves up to brain injury, flat noses and black eyes: hooray for equality!

Personally, I’d have to be suffering from PMT 365 days of the year to even contemplate getting into a ring and punching the bejasus out of an opponent. And the opponent would have to be someone who I felt had wronged me: a snippy shop assistant, maybe, or someone who cut me up on a roundabout without raising a hand to say sorry.

I’d have thought that PMT would be an absolute bonus when you’re in a boxing ring, offering you the opportunity to channel all those ‘why is everyone getting at me? Why is life SO UNFAIR? Why is everything so totally and utterly SHIT?’ feelings into a series of mindlessly violent lobs and lunges.

In fact the only issues I can see being a problem are making sure your boxing matches are carefully timed to happen at the right moment during a 28-day window (my fights, bearing this in mind, would be on the first of every month. I could take down a rhino).

OK, I want a good, clean fight. No punching below the belt, no holding, no Kylie, you havent got time to have a kebab first

OK, I want a good, clean fight. No punching below the belt, no holding, no Kylie, you haven't got time to have a kebab first

Only 40 years ago, women were banned from taking part in marathons because the powers-that-be thought their wombs would fall out (no, really) because “of constant jarring”.

When it was proven that wombs didn’t fall out – although I’m fairly sure that if I ran a marathon mine would, along with my liver, lungs, heart and toenails – women were given the green light to compete, although it took until 1984 until they could participate in the marathon at the Olympics.

In 1896, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, described the concept of women participating in the games as: “impractical, uninteresting, ungainly and improper” (I wonder if he had access to a time machine and had watched me taking part in PE lessons at high school).

To this day, women are still barred from a whole range of Olympic sports – of seven track disciplines, women are only allowed to compete in three – so I suppose it’s a step forward that we’re now allowed to box. Even though boxing is really, really horrible and reminds me why I am a lover and not a fighter.

It’s because I’m a coward. And I paid good money for these teeth (please note, US readers – some Brits do have nice teeth. Sometimes they’re even our own).


Do not stand at my grave and weep – I’ve emailed you. There is no escape.

A new messaging service from beyond the grave has been launched, allowing personal notes written prior to death to be sent to loved ones in the future.

The Last Messages Club offers busybodies and those who insist on having the last word – even when they’re dead – the opportunity to keep poking their noses into other people’s business for days, months and years after they’ve breathed their last.

For a small fee, members can write up to 100 emails that can be released once they have died at times of their choosing, such as when a loved one marries, has a child or needs prompting to put the bins out on a Thursday.

Simon Gilligan, 63, from Cambridgeshire, has signed up to the service and has written messages that will be sent to his wife, children and friends after his death.

“The messages are personal, but most of them are humorous,” he said.

“It also makes you think about smaller details, like making sure you remind someone to cancel your bus pass.”

In other words, the new service is like really low-level haunting.

Rather than all that pointless banging on the pipes at night, or moving objects or causing people to feel a chill down their spine, you can just email them and cut out the hassle-factor.

Thanks for the funeral, although I did think I might have warranted a slightly more expensive coffin. The fixed rate on the mortgage ends next month, make sure you shop around. Off to see Michael Jackson tonight - Elvis is the support act. Love, WIB

Thanks for the funeral, although I did think I might have warranted a slightly more expensive coffin. The fixed rate on the mortgage ends next month, make sure you shop around. Off to see Michael Jackson tonight - Elvis is the support act. Love, WIB

I only hope that the messages are sent under a comforting pseudonym, rather than the name of the deceased: I can see how it might be a bit disconcerting to see that the person you buried six months ago has clogged up your inbox with messages about shopping around for an insurance quote on the Mondeo or remembering to have the boiler serviced.

Otherwise, the messages might serve one purpose early – to reunite the loved one with the deceased by virtue of a catastrophic heart attack caused by sheer fright in front of the computer.

Personally, I’d find it incredibly frustrating to be limited to just 100 emails after the grave – I bang out that many in a day, and I’d hate to be constrained in the afterlife, especially as I’d have eternity to be frustrated about it.

No, if I’ve got the option, I’d like to send an email for every conceivable eventuality.

I sincerely think that my reassuring voice from beyond the grave would be a huge comfort to all, especially if it was regarding a matter of great importance, such as whether or not my daughter should get her belly button pierced (no) or if my son should be stopped from leaving the house if he insisted on gelling his fringe (yes).

And then there are other equally pressing issues I need to advise my children about.

They need to know that it’s socially unacceptable to call themselves ‘Dr’ on their chequebook and in non-academic situations after post-graduate studies UNLESS they become a proper doctor, in other words one that can write a prescription and remove in-growing toenails.

They must also be stopped from pronouncing ‘clique’ as ‘click’, dating men who wear patent shoes (or women who wear t-shirts with ‘Pornstar’ written across them or talk in ‘little girl’ voices to get their own way), thinking Peter Kay or Lee Evans are hilarious or wearing any form of yellow gold jewellery.

In fact, come to think of it, there are so many issues that I have an opinion on that I’m minded to dedicating the rest of my life to writing emails about them just in case I drop dead without any notice.

After I’ve dealt with the really important stuff – the patent shoes, the show-off ‘Dr’ titles and so forth – there are practical matters to contend with.

Who, other than me, for example, understands the complexities of the family tumble drier and realises that if you run the tap in the kitchen during the final spin it will render the entire drying process pointless?

Explaining the tumble drier alone would take 100 emails. And that’s before I’ve even started on how you make back right-hand oven ring work by twiddling a knob in several directions while giving the whole apparatus a sharp shove.

And finally, I don’t think I’d be able to pass up the opportunity to send a few unsettling emails to people who have wronged me and who deserve a damn good haunting.

You know, a few titbits about the afterlife to give them food for thought: eternal burning lakes of fire, demonic servitors of Belial, hell’s uncanny resemblance to an Ikea warehouse on a Bank Holiday Monday, that kind of thing.

It’s important to me to know I won’t be forgotten when I’m gone. My only fear is that the WiFi connection in the afterlife will be as ropey as the one I have in the land of the living.

PS I promise not to send ‘hilarious’ jokes titled ‘ You HAVE to see this!’ or links to YouTube clips or terrifying, but false, pieces of ‘health information’ that suggest wearing a bra gives you a brain tumour. Unless you’ve really pissed me off. In which case, that inbox of yours is going to need some extra memory.


Mix tapes – the lost art of trying to pull someone at school with a Memorex C90

It’s a terrifying 30 years since the Sony Walkman was introduced and music became portable in a way that didn’t alienate everyone within a 500m radius.

I didn’t have a Walkman 30 years ago, obviously, because they were ruinously expensive and I was only little – I simply didn’t have the strength to carry one.

They started to creep into my consciousness when I was at high school and a fellow student, one of the ones who always had the right coat, bag, shoes and highlights, brought a giant yellow Walkman on a school trip.

It was passed around the coach with the kind of reverence you might expect if you whipped out the Turin Shroud at a convent.

Despite being the size of the Yellow Pages and boasting the kind of sound quality that made listening to music underwater seem crystal clear, it represented an exciting, high-tech future.

Cliff Richard could make anything look cool (nb: leotard-wearing models did not come with standard Sony Walkmans)

Cliff Richard could make anything look cool (nb: leotard-wearing models did not come with standard Sony Walkmans)

Having only just persuaded my parents to buy one of those tinny made-for-teenagers ‘ghetto blasters’, I knew it would be a while before I could tap them up for a Walkman, or rather a Walkman equivalent available from my Mum’s home catalogue.

As archaic as it was, my own tape player had released me from the tyranny of my father, who was somewhat of a stereo Nazi, owning a set of hugely expensive ‘separates’ which made me the only person I knew who had to master a tuner and graphic equalisers before being able to put Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ on the turntable.

Everyone else’s Mum and Dad had a nice, simple Hinari or a Binatone stereo that could have been operated by an earthworm. Mine required tutorials from What Stereo? magazine before you felt confident enough to even switch it on.

On the plus side, my Dad’s technical fascism did mean that I made the most professional mix-tapes this side of the Western hemisphere.

He even taught me how to produce ‘quality silence’, a lost art these days, especially in cinema or theatre audiences when I’m in the auditorium.

In the good old days, if you made someone a mix-tape, it represented a fair chunk of your entire Sunday given over to faffing around with the record player and hovering over the pause button on the tape deck.

(I think, by the way, that that’s a contender for the most biddified, grey-haired, mobility-scooter riding sentence I’ve ever written.)

I would spend hour-upon-hour carefully working out an intricate play list that would fit on each side of a Memorex C90 without cutting Morrissey off midway through ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ or, more likely, Aha off during ‘Take On Me’.

Helped me to seduce older boys with cars and jobs. Although ye Gods, look at this picture. How many shades of wrong? And lets face it, teenage boys are pretty simple to seduce - I doubt I needed Aha: a pulse was enough.

Helped me to seduce older boys with cars and jobs. Although ye Gods, look at this picture. How many shades of wrong? And let's face it, teenage boys are pretty simple to seduce - I doubt I needed Aha: a pulse was enough.

It could easily take eight hours to make one 90-minute tape. An hour of which would be spent making ‘quality silence’ (also known as ‘sulking’ if my Dad was still lurking around trying to be ‘helpful’).

Each tape was compiled with the recipient in mind or, less nobly, as a blatant attempt to persuade the recipient to want to get off with me – those tapes cost good money, and I was keen to see some form of return. Teenage boys being teenage boys, I wasn’t often disappointed.

Hours would evaporate as you tried to cut out the recording ‘click’ between songs, struggled not to put two songs by the same artist in a row, resisted the urge to kill any parent unwittingly walking into the front room and jogging the needle on the record player and then struggled to fit all the track names on the tape insert in felt-tip pen.

After all that effort, keen to get the mix-tape to the recipient, I’d then bike it round, by which I mean I got on my bicycle and pedalled to their house rather than called on an in-house courier (even though I lived in a Grade  II listed house with a balcony AND window boxes, I wasn’t that posh).

These days, I can burn a CD in about three minutes (is it illegal? If it is, when I say that I burn CDs, I refer to music made by my family. On, er, spoons) and email it to someone immediately. It’s taken some of the magic away, frankly.

Equally, I can now have up to 10,000 songs on my iPod and if I shake it, it randomly chooses a new track for me to listen to.

Try that with the Walkman and you’d have been listening to a decidedly old record: your parents giving you the ‘you never look after anything properly’ speech for the gazillionth time before grounding you indefinitely.

NB: I still have some of my Dad’s stereo equipment, even though he went to the big hi-fi shop in the world back in 1992. And it still works, which kind of annoyingly proves his point about quality. Any of you fancy a mix-tape?

**** It’s been many a long week since last I graced WordPress. Lots of work, a lovely dose of swine flu (I didn’t throw a party for others to catch it), the odd weekend away (empahsis on ‘odd’), general apathy and ennui have kept me from posting. I will be visiting you all later to see what you’ve been up to. You’d better have been good while I’ve been away or I’ll know not to leave you home alone again. And don’t think I won’t be checking the phone bill. And the liquor cabinet ****

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