Posts Tagged ‘texting


Competition: Give me your tips on how to be utterly and completely miserable and win a prize!

Today is officially the most depressing day of the year – you probably haven’t noticed, because as far as all of us who don’t have birthdays in January are concerned, the entire month is packed with a grim succession of unrelentingly depressing, bleak days during which our only entertainment is limited to wringing out our shirts when they become overly-sodden with bitter tears.

I have long thought that there is a compelling argument for us all to go into hibernation on January 1 and not come out until Pancake Day. And, incidentally, that Pancake Day should be moved to June.

I see no way that today can be my most depressing day of the year – for a start, I’m not at work, secondly I’m not planning to leave the house all day, thirdly I just found £5 in a coat I haven’t worn for months. In fact the most depressing thing about today might well be the realisation that my worst day of the year is yet to come.

It might be tomorrow. It might be the next day. Considering my company is downsizing in March, it might be backdated until Spring.

If only misery could be scheduled into your diary for when you’ve got enough spare time to wallow in self-pity, rather than it biting you on the arse when you’ve got a million and one other things to do. Just what is our preoccupation with being happy all the time, anyway? Surely one cannot truly appreciate the sun without having experienced the rain?

With this cheery, positive thought in mind, I’m thinking of planning a truly terrible day so that when genuinely miserable things do happen, they’ll seem like a walk in the park by comparison.

If you’re keen to follow suit (and why wouldn’t you be? Who doesn’t enjoy a hell of their own making? What do you mean you didn’t spend half your teenage years in a darkened bedroom listening to The Cure and writing poetry?) I’ve compiled a handy, cut-out-and-keep fast-track guide to guaranteed desolation. I know: I spoil you lot.

1) Go into a mobile phone shop and ask for something really simple, like a mobile phone. Set the timer on your watch and observe as an hour of your life drains away while a teenager called Glenn drones on about contracts, talk-time, ‘free’ text messages which you pay through the nose for and then, inexplicably, gives you £15 of your own money back as ‘cashback’ when he could have just deducted £15 off the bill in the first place. Leave with a phone which cost you three times more than you intended to pay.

2) Take your children shopping to the supermarket. Enter into as many pointless rows about what you will and won’t buy as possible.
Try and include the phrase: “I don’t care what (insert name of child’s friend) x’s mother lets them eat” regularly. Leave in a cloud of shame as your offspring sob pitifully – and loudly – at the lack of Dairylea Lunchables and/or 2ft Lindt chocolate Easter bunnies in your trolley.

3) Decide that today is the day that you will get on top of your finances and sort out all that paperwork you’ve been avoiding for months. Read through all your old bank statements, circling all the purchases you made which were an utter waste of money and which brought you only spiritual hollowness and financial penury. Realise that you have spent £514 at Thresher in six weeks. Realise that your car insurance direct debit has mysteriously disappeared and that you have been driving illegally for the past nine months. Realise that your financial future involves queuing up at soup kitchens and carrying your bed in an Asda carrier bag. Spill tea over several vital documents. Go back to Thresher.

4) Clean the oven. Make sure you start less than 30 minutes before you have to go out and that you wear something white.

5) Try and get a cat in a cat basket. You may want to pick your day to be truly miserable on the basis of when you next need to take your cat to the vet. If you don’t have a cat, borrow the least friendly one you can find. For full effect, ensure that you forget to lock the cat flap and that you are wearing something flimsy and sleeveless as you attempt to force a formidably large cat into a formidably small basket.

6) Google all the hobbies, pastimes and vices which make your life worth living and realise that everything you do is killing you, in a really horrific way. Do not allow yourself the luxury of marvelling that you’ve made it to your grand old age without succumbing to heart disease/cancer or a whole host of stress-related illnesses – they’re in the post.

All together now, stop being so bloody chirpy and join me in a mission to reclaim misery for ourselves. And there’s a prize* for whoever comes up with their own top tips for being utterly desolate – put the meths down, wipe away the tears and leave me your comments.

* Terms and conditions apply and will be made up on the spot by me when I find a winner.


Forget sat nav: my primary school promised me I’d have a hover car by the year 2000. The liars.

I fear for future generations, I really do.

They’ll already be hampered with giant thumbs thanks to the genetic legacy handed down to them by forefathers who spent 23 out of every 24 hours texting and now they’re destined to drive aimlessly over cliffs because no one in the world will be able to read a map thanks to in-car satellite navigation systems.

A recent report revealed that UK drivers trust their sat-nav systems more than they trust their own eyes; just allow a few seconds for that sentence to sink into your brain before you take to your bed and weep for a week over the lost innocence of maps.

In the past, sat-nav owners have driven into the River Avon and to the edge of a 100-foot drop because their tracking gizmos told them to. An ambulance crew transferring a patient 12 miles from Ilford to Brentwood drove 200 miles in the wrong direction because they were following directions from their sat-nav system.

At some point, surely, you’d think they might have noticed that the half hour journey was taking around four hours longer than usual. But no – it’s this kind of blind obedience that helped Hitler get a foothold in Germany.

The real irony is that the youth of today (my descent into the world of the bitter old goat continues apace – next I’ll be berating the charts for not having any songs with lyrics) absolutely hate being told what to do, yet they’re all queuing up like lemmings to buy a box which tells them what to do ALL THE TIME.

It doesn’t even convert into a TV when it’s not barking orders at you.

If it’s not telling you what to do, it’s telling you just how depressing the road ahead will be; roadworks, traffic jams, accidents, hairpin bends, hurricanes, plagues of locusts – they all lie ahead.

Frankly, I’d rather not know. Being stuck in a motionless line of traffic is the only chance I get to have some of this “me” time I’m always being told about in glossy magazines.

This week, while out and about in my car, two drivers allowed their vehicles to roll backwards into mine while fiddling with their sat-nav.

One had the good grace to wave at me apologetically, the other simply drove away, probably because his sat-nav told him to.

Personally, I like living on the razor’s edge and relying only on a road atlas bought from a Jet garage in 1988 as a means to convey me from one location to another. Isn’t part of the joy of a family day trip the prospect of spending at least a quarter of the journey aimlessly winging it and lying to the children about knowing precisely where you are?

Admittedly, this policy has led to some spectacular “short cuts” through Wales on the way from Norwich to King’s Lynn, but at least I was the master of my own destiny and to my credit, I didn’t end up in a river or dangling from the edge of a cliff.

By the time my children have cars (which, by the way, will be never unless they arrange a police and paramedic escort for every journey they undertake) they won’t need to drive at all, they’ll just get in a car, telepathically relate where they want to go to some kind of gigantic brain on the dashboard and then sit back while the on-board robot serves them moon pills and space juice and drives them straight into the nearest reservoir.

Showing my kids a map and asking them if they could use it to get from a to b will be like giving you or I a mangle, a bar of soap and a tin bucket and asking us to spend the entire day scrubbing the family’s smalls.

They’ll have braying computers built into their toilets to remind them to wipe their bums and wash their hands and a microchip in their forehead telling them when to breathe.

Before sat-nav salesmen grab their green biros to point out to me that their systems are marvellous and I’m the kind of technophobe who makes the sign of a cross if anyone uses so much as a microwave oven in my eyeshot, let me point out that new research proves that I’m right.

Computer Which? a magazine for fearsomely clever boffins who don’t fly into a panic if people start talking to them about jpegs and motherboards commissioned a survey to see just how reliable sat-nav systems are.

The research revealed that an £8 road atlas beat a high-tech satellite navigation system on a simple 70 mile journey, despite the latter costing more than 28 times the price of the book.

Granted, the AA book didn’t look quite as good mounted on the dashboard, but it worked, although to be fair, the survey did note “you need a level-headed passenger with map-reading skills” which cancels out a great deal of hollow-skulled halfwits to whom maps are like flat pack instruction manuals written in Sanskrit.

In a manner of speaking, sat-nav systems are a perfect example of Darwinism – if you blindly drive your car into a ford or to the edge of a cliff because a jumped-up calculator tells you to then you’re proving the theory that only the fittest deserve to survive.

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