Saturday, 26 November 2011

Blog Time Challenge - Fatty

Issued by Ruth Watson.  What can Sparks come up with in one hour?

Fat people.  The oft persecuted and ridiculed section of society.  Let me chip in on this... mmmmm chips.  If you look on a pie chart of how many fat people there are in the UK, most of them will eat it.  Chubby checkers around the nation should slim down.  They are a massive burden on the NHS, primarily on the stretchers and the paramedics who have to lift them into the ambulance.

No I'm just teasing.  Fat is being demonised as the evil of our world.  Last time I checked, it wasn't a Big Mac that bombed London or slaughtered protesters in Libya.  You look at the evil people of the world and they aren't fatties, are they?  Hitler, thin.  Stalin, in pretty good shape.  Ghengis Khan... I assume that there wasn't an ounce of fat on him with all the fighting.  Point is, fat dictators and terrorists are in short supply.  There is an argument that is because they could be easily caught but I'd like to think that we can eliminate the notion that fat is instantly wicked.

Fat makes food taste good.  I hear about people who live on rabbit food and sushi all day long to keep in prime physical condition.  For what?  So you look good?  How much of your day do you spend looking in a mirror?!  I'd venture too long.  Get over yourself.  If it is just looks you have to offer, then Google Image Search has more to offer the world than you ever will.  Unless you're Christina Hendricks.... mmmmm Christina Hendricks (even better than chips).

Maybe you want a healthy lifestyle and that is why you hate fat.  Yeah you want to live long for what exactly?  The joys of having to start wearing nappies again?  Trying to see how exciting daytime TV is?  See how long it takes to wear out the phrase "It's not like the good old days"?  We all want to live longer but I don't know why.  Our best years are not found in retirement.  The days of retirement are just a race to see who dies first and contrary to popular belief, you do not want to be last man standing.  Sure you attend more parties but they tend to be a wake and not a rave.

Or maybe you just don't want to be picked on.  You know, fat people may not be good in a sprint but they tend to be decent in a fight.  Why?  Because they bring bulk to that particular party.  Let me shatter the delusions of those who think they are great in a fight.  You are not Jason Bourne.  You do not know kung fu and even if you do, fat people can take the blows better than most.  However, Kingpin from the Marvel Comics was a fatty and he could mix it with superheroes.  Don't pick a fight with a chubster.  They can hand out beat downs like you can't imagine.

Sure, no one wants to be fat.  There is a better and easier life in being skinny and we shouldn't accept people becoming morbidly obese.  People should be responsible enough to know when the scales are no longer telling the person their weight but the number of weeks they are going to live.  Yet we find it all too easy to make a villain out of the fat guy.  As long as people are happy and not being a burden on the world around them, let them eat and have a bit of chunk on them.

Until science figures out a way to make us all thin and beautiful.  Then we'll all look good!  The difference is that the fat people will feel great and the skinny, beautiful people will feel ordinary, boring, even insignificant and that will be the real change.  Fat may kill people slowly but it kills personalities quickly.  Fat people all too often worry about what people think about them and then slip into a self-imposed depression, that is destructive and defining throughout their chubby days.  Fat is the not the enemy of society.  It is the enemy of self worth, of confidence, of self belief, of everything good in a person because it is trapped under layers of superficial judgement and paranoia.

So fat people of the nation, shed those pounds and become beautiful.  Those skinny, beautiful people won't know what hit them and the world will be your oyster... mmmmm oysters.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

21 Problems With Christmas

Scrooge. Humbug. These are titles I get around the festive season. The fact is I am grumpy and cynical most of the time but even the insults I get because of this consistent state still manage to get a Christmas twist. Yet this craving to make everything relate to Christmas is not one of the major problems with Christmas.  However, these are the 21 major problems associated with this time of year.

1. Coca-Cola get to announce when Christmas has started. Everyone looks out for the lorry advert, with the jingle "Holidays are coming! Holidays are coming!" Who put them in charge? They are starting Christmas earlier and earlier because of that advert. It is rapidly becoming 2 months build up, hype and preparation for what is now only a day of an event.

2. Gift vouchers. The ideal Christmas present or at least, that is how they are marketed. I would list them as one of the more insulting presents. I mean why give me one of those £10 notes, produced by the Royal Mint and able to be used in any shop, when you can give me a plastic card worth the same value but only in one shop. Why do you feel the need to dictate where to spend the money you are giving me? Do you think I'm a junkie and was going to spend it on my drug habit? If that's the case, then instead of giving me the money to buy some, you have given me a handy card to cut my next line of cocaine!

3. Charades... Worst. Game. Ever. I dare you to film yourself playing the game. Watch it back and you will institutionalise yourself and then pray that it never shows up on Youtube.

4. Sometimes the message a present sends doesn't evoke a "thank you" but more a degradation of self esteem. Like the Christmas a lot of people get you aftershave/perfume. You can be grateful or you can think "OK does everyone think that I smell bad?"

5. There is a good reason why we don't eat turkey for the rest of the year. It is one of the most bland meats we could ever have. This is not me being humane and pleading for the lives of turkeys. Frankly they are ugly looking creatures and only increase in worth when dead. Yet we go to extraordinary lengths to make it taste better and it never works.

6. The Christmas No.1. People have competed for the Christmas No.1 slot like rabid dogs in a cage. Yet I can't see why. Christmas No.1 is not a prestigious title. You look back at the songs that have occupied top spot in the Singles Chart at that time for the past 20 years and you'll find 3, maybe 4 good songs. Ironically, the best ones are not even Christmassy!

7. And then there is the songs that get wheeled out every year. They are meant to make you feel all warm and fuzzy. I prefer to see the true meaning of those songs. Like Mariah Carey singing "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is clearly about whichever rapper she hasn't slept with yet. "Last Christmas" George Michael gave you his heart and considering the amount of cocaine he does, that is a present that is beyond pre-owned! And of course, Wizzard wished it could be Christmas everyday... so they could actually make some more pennies on their one hit wonder.

8. "Glooooooooooooooooooooooooooria, in Excelsis Deo". Hymn or not, that's lazy lyric writing.

9. Christmas comes with some plant problems too. Mistletoe may be considered romantic. Then you realise the ugly, creepy people linger near it until someone they find attractive (namely anyone with a pulse) walks underneath it and then they swoop. They then cite the legal precedent of the Christmas Act 1AD that two people under the mistletoe must kiss. Somehow I don't think the spirit of Christmas is to offer a jovial method of sexual assault.

10. The Christmas tree. Build this massive ornament that will stay standing for 2 - 3 weeks, decorate it as camp as possible, let it generally get in the way and then take it down again. You wouldn't decorate your bedroom to a different theme every few weeks. If you do, you need a life, not decoration design plans.

11. A Christmas Carol. Scrooge always appears to be over 70 years old but changes his ways ultimately because of the threat of death. What? Did he think he was immortal? Does he think that if he helps Tiny Tim and his family that suddenly he will be granted an extra 30 years of life? Personally I wouldn't have been around the Cratchits, I would have been planning how to party the last part of my life away, since the last Ghost told me I was about to kick the bucket.

12. Carollers who knock on your door and sing for you. In a world with radio, Youtube and iTunes, at what point do you think I want songs door to door? We hate getting double glazing, driveways and religion being offered at our doors. If carolling was enjoyable, that double glazing salesman would sing his sales pitch next time.

13. TV Specials. Now there is nothing wrong with doing a Christmas Special of a show if it is good. TV has seen some of its best moments in a Christmas special. However, it also shows how TV clings on to its old tricks because it doesn't have many new ones. Old classic shows are shown again or are rehashed. Just to prove the point, the UK TV show "Heartbeat" has had 18 Christmas shows, yet it started in the 60's and never left that decade in it's setting at any time.

14. Christmas movies. Everyone has their opinion and it tends to hover somewhere between "It's A Wonderful Life" and "The Great Escape". Let me end this debate right now. The best Christmas movie ever is "Die Hard". The coming together of an estranged husband and wife during Christmas Eve and it is done over guns, blood, explosions and Alan Rickman delivering tour de force villain performance. What is not to like?

15. Christmas cards are sent around by the truckload. Why? Christmas isn't like Easter, which bounces around the calendar. It has been the agreed 25th December for long enough now for everyone to have figured it out. We don't need notification from 30 friends that Christmas is here!

16. The Office Christmas Party. The party itself is not bad. Office parties come with their own multitude of sins, whether they be amusing or depraved. Yet it the fact that all of management show up. That is like holding a house party and then inviting your parents!

17. Charity collectors, using Christmas as the reason to collect. It makes me want to ask "So I don't need to listen to your begging from January from November?"

18. There are some streets that have a few lights to accentuate the Christmas feel. Then there are some streets that decide that they should become the new Las Vegas! When your house is lit up so well that it can be seen from space, you have gone too far!

19. The Queen's Speech. No one cares.

20. Reliving the last 15 Christmases. The reality is that very little interesting happens on Christmas Day because the world has ground to a halt. Basically it is a conversation held by people who are 50 or over and it drains the life out of you as you listen. The only thing that is more worrying is that eventually, you will become like them.

21. And finally, there is always one person who thinks that you have to get up at stupid o'clock on Christmas Day to open your presents. There is no good reason to wake up at 5am. We are not going down the mines.  Santa Claus will not come back for the goodies he left. It is a holiday. It is a day of rest. So for crying out loud, let me sleep!

Other than that, joy to the world and Merry Christmas.

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Respect Of No

I have had numerous conversations about dating in my time and it amazes me at how little people understand human nature and emotions when it comes to this topic.  I find myself talking to a lot of girls about this who openly admit that they say yes to almost anyone who asks for a date.  Now, they may say yes for the sole legitimate reason, that being that they like the person asking and want to see if there is anything more there.  Yet some say that they say yes because the person was brave enough to ask.  Others say they don't want to say no and hurt someone's feelings.  A small group give me the utterly moronic answer of "well, you never know."  I want to address this because it is time we exposed this mindless compliance to always saying yes to a date as the plain stupidity that it is.

If you are going out with someone because they are brave enough to ask, you are actually disrespecting his bravery by saying yes.  You think it is fragile.  You think he is fragile.  Never mind the inflated opinion of yourself that if you say no, his world will crumble and he'll never ask anyone else out ever again.  Get over yourself!  He will be gutted and so he should be.  If he asked you out, it is because he likes you.  If he wasn't gutted about you declining the offer, you were instantly expendable.  Do you want to date someone like that?  No, take it as a bullet dodged.  The point is that you think it will break his heart.  Climb down your imaginary tower and show him a bit of respect.  This relationship is already a dead end deal if it is starting with deceit, no matter how well intentioned.

The fact is that you think you are being nice, when you are actually being ruder by just saying yes, rather than telling the truth from the off.  If you politely turn them down, you are not only telling them you are not interested but that you think they are big enough to take it.  You know, you think they are an adult who has had their share of ups and downs.  The kind of person who can take the knocks and deal with life.  Those who just say yes will have not thought that deeply about it or just not thought at all.  They don't want to hurt anyone.

So what do they do?  They go on one date with this person, with little to no intention of there ever being date two.  Contemplate this.  You say no to a date and what does the guy think?  I'm not her type?  That is a fact of life we can all accept because attraction is not a choice.  Now you say yes to one date and then no to the second date.  What does the guy think now?  Does he think "Well, she gave me a chance"?  Or does he think "Well, she got to spend some time with me one-to-one and now she isn't interested"?  If the guy thinks the first one, he would have taken the answer "no" in his stride.  If the guy thinks the second one, he has gone from hopeful before the date to thinking that there is something wrong with him after the date.  Both situations could have been avoided with a little honesty.

The unwillingness to say no also shows little respect to the very concept of dating.  You go on a date because you like the person and you want to see if there is something more there.  It is about developing a friendship into something more.  A simple concept that has been polluted by idiots.  By saying yes to everyone, it trivialises the entire process.  Dating shouldn't be simply entertainment or a distraction.  It should be more than that and don't tell me that puts too much pressure on things.  If you can't handle pressure, get yourself back into Primary School.  The rest of us grew up.

However, thinking that something will change in one date does put an inordinate amount of pressure on it.  If you go in with that mentality, it is actually unpleasantly arrogant.  It says "You have one chance to impress me."  You may not go in with this sinister mentality but there is no nice attitude behind the "one date chance" method.

One person I know said that she said yes to a date because she didn't want a confrontation (not that the guy in question was aggressive, she was just being a sissy).  So she said that she went on the date but made it clear that she wasn't interested, with her body language and lack of conversation.  I told her that she was a despicable human being, that showed him no respect.  He could have done 101 other things that night, including go out with someone who would have been interested.  She hid behind the idea that she was being nice and respectful but she was being anything but that.

If someone asks you out, be big enough to tell the truth.  Think enough of the person asking to think "They can take the truth."  Do it nicely.  Do it gently. Do it honestly.  There is plenty of respect in saying no.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Poppy

One weekend, I found myself in a park in London on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday.  Sat on this park bench was an old man, sat there with a smile on his face and a poppy adorning his lapel.  I said hello to the old man, who also noticed the poppy on the lapel of my suit.  He thanked me for buying one and remembering him and his friends for the sacrifice they made.

I sat next to this man and asked him what he was smiling at, since I figured that this weekend would be a painful reminder of the hardships he had faced.  He pointed over at his two granddaughters and his daughter, who were taking turns throwing a ball for their dog to collect.  "This is what Remembrance Day is about" he told me.  I enquired as to what he meant.

He then taught me something that has stuck with me and I am reminded of it every Remembrance Sunday.  He said  "People think we went out there to fight for Harry, England and St. George but I didn't.  None of my friends did.  We had no illusion that we were freedom fighters.  We fought for what was important to us.  I fought for my wife, for the children we wanted and their children.  And look" he said, pointing at his family again.  "I won" he said with a triumphant smile.

He then concluded by pointing at his poppy and saying "This is a symbol that there are some things worth dying for.  And you know what those things are?"  He got up and as he headed over to his family, he answered "The things worth living every day for."

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Rationally Emotional

Emotions tend to be anything but rational.  Why though?  There is nothing wrong with having perfectly good reasons for caring about, loving or missing a person.  However, I have come to believe that a lot of people's emotions are irrational, which makes me question the validity of them.  This puts me in a minority of probably one but it makes sense to me, so I am putting it to you who is reading this.

This all stemmed from a conversation with a lady at work.  She explained how she missed her brother sometimes, even though she doesn't like him or even get on with him.  My question was "Why do you miss him then?"  The extent of her rationale was "He's my brother."  To me, blood alone is not a good enough reason.  I hear and read about people who were abused by their parents or spouse.  They then insist "but I love them."  To me, that is utter nonsense.  Someone who is consistently, even persistently mean, disrespectful or just makes me miserable is not someone I feel any positive emotional attachment to.  Yet it appears that the world subscribes to this notion that 'Love conquers all.'

There is no rhyme, reason or rationale to that notion.  None whatsoever.  It is a Hollywood-based idea that is as false as any science fiction movie or chick flick.  However, a majority of people subscribe to it.  There is no magic that you find and then overcomes any struggle.  It is made in the days, weeks, months and years of building relationships.  For example, I love my Mum.  If she took a rolling pin and gave me a daily thrashing, I wouldn't say that.  I'd want her in a cell or a coffin.  The fact is my Mum is a caring woman, who is friendly, considerate, compassion and a damn good cook.  These and many other factors mean that I love her and I try to reciprocate the things she does and the person she is by doing my best for her.

Now, let me throw a paradox into the mix.  When I am away from my Mum, I don't miss her.  People will tell me that if I love her, I will automatically miss her.  If that was true, then I'd go and see her.  I'd call her.  I'd write her a letter.  I'd do something about it but I don't.  So the reality is that I don't miss her that much, if at all. It doesn't change the fact that I love her.  There are very few people I miss.  I miss them because their company enhances how I feel about them.  Being in their very presence changes how I am, within myself and towards the person in question and as a consequence, I miss that feeling and I miss them.  That to me makes perfect sense.

When I try to explain this to people, they tell me that I don't have a heart, no feeling, no emotion.  I know that isn't the case because when they say that, it is incredibly hurtful.  It is dismissive of the fact that when I have feelings towards someone, in any shape or form, they are genuine and founded on good reason.  They are not whims.  They are not fuelled by any illogical idea that somehow I must be connected to that person.  It is a relationship built on consistency, trust and that it is reciprocal in every way.

People think that because every emotion has to come with good reason, I am a cold person.  I'm not.  I'm just cold towards people who think I am because that is how they treat me.  I am actually a very reflective person.  What I get from someone is what they tend to get in return.

The irrationality of emotion is rooted in the belief that they are such things as truly altruistic acts and there aren't.  Every act comes with a reason, a motive, some kind of an agenda.  There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is perfectly normal.  Yet people think having feelings about someone without good reason is normal too.  It's not, it's just common and doing something because everyone else is doing it is not a good reason.  Don't agree?  Ask the victims of the riots in London and then get back to me.  As for me, I'll stick with being rationally emotive about my feelings.  It not only makes sense; it feels right too.