Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Goodness Of Chocolate


A delicacy of countless combinations.  Instantly satisfying in the short term and inevitably sickness inducing if consumed in high quantities. A pleaser of all sweet tooths in the world.  A mythical calmer of women at certain times of the month and a fattener of all people.

I am a milk chocolate fan.  It is sweet, creamy and just divine.  Dark chocolate on the other hand is evil.  Bitter and unpleasant, I am convinced they make it for old people, whose taste buds have long died and to cater for their slow speeds at pillaging the chocolate tins at Christmas.

Yet there seems to be a great debate as to what chocolate is the best.  I am not here to profess to know.  I am a man and therefore automatically do not qualify to be master of all things chocolatey.  However, I do want to share these insights about chocolate.

Buying tins of Roses or Quality Street makes you look old.  Celebrations or Cadbury's Heroes are the tins of the youthful generation. Granted, the Bounty bars and Bournevilles get left behind but then think how many get left behind in Roses or Quality Street.  Everyone goes after the purple ones, in both tins!  One they have been ransacked, it is a slow slog through the remaining options.

Then there are the chocolate bars you can get.  Yorkies make you a sexist.  Galaxy bars make you think you can shop at Marks & Spencers, when in all likelihood you still shop at ASDA.  Malteasers are for who kid themselves that they can lose weight whilst eating chocolate.  I could go on and on but we all know, I am kidding.  The kind of chocolate you eat says very little about because so many of us love it.

Chocolate is a wonderful thing.  It is a great get out present.  You buy someone chocolate and they never think "Oh they've put no thought into this."  They are instantly grateful.  You can share chocolate around and it will keep a family in one room, chatting for ages as they wait for the tin to be passed to us.  It can be a prize in a game or the snack in a great party.  Chocolate is the great unifier, the one thing that everyone wants but that no one will go to war about.  Chocolate tins, chocolate bars, hot chocolate and chocolate milk... we salute the joy you bring, the satisfaction you give and we forgive you for making us feel sick when we eat too much.  You are wonderful.

Now if you could emancipate your evil twin, dark chocolate, that would be great...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Referral System

The Referral System is when someone turns to you and says "Why don't you ask XYZ out?"  Why someone feels the urge to chip in and try to aid your dating life, I don't know. It is the side of life that is the least codified and rightly so. It should be magical, not scientific or based on a law of averages. And you can almost guarantee that the match maker is taken already (if not, they really should be sorting themselves out, not someone else). So this must be them trying to cling on to the whole thrill of the chase thing. The idiots have forgotten how crappy single life can be, especially when someone takes it on themselves to matchmake you!

Matchmaking is wrong. Despite what people think their motivations are, it ultimately comes down to the idea that you know what is better for someone than they do. Ever remember how you used to get annoyed by such suggestions by your parents? Yet that doesn't stop people doing it and they always seem to think they are right, when they're not!

So one of your friends makes a suggestion of this person they think would be good for you. Fine. Nothing wrong with a harmless suggestion. With Facebook ready to provide a profile pic in an instant, you get to make a quick assessment of whether that person is your type. 9 times out of 10, that person isn't your type. Why? Because if the person is being referred, that usually means they can't get someone themselves. If they could, why is someone touting them about? (If they do have a good answer to that, it will be a lie).

Then you turn down the option, because unless you think very little of yourself, you can do your own dirty work. It doesn't matter how much diplomacy you do it with, it will go from a matchmaking exchange to a "what's wrong with you" examination. Suddenly, you're too picky, too concerned with looks, unwilling to give someone a chance. This is why you're single. In fact, they imagine you're miserable and accuse you of having this non-existent emotion because you didn't immediately jump at their suggestion. Why? Because you have told them something that they should have known anyway. That they don't know you as well as they think.

It's an even bigger kick in the teeth when you're actually attracted to the person making the referral. That means your chances with them went from a "no" to "oh hell no!" So in the entire process of The Referral System, one person feels belittled, judged and rejected. The other person, well, they feel like they have been disrespected and had their judgement questioned. The only difference is the person giving the referral should feel like crap!

So the next time you think "He should ask her out"... DON'T DO IT!

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Wish List

My mobile phone is old, I mean Pyramids of Egypt old.  6 years old to be precise.  Bought for decent sum of £99, it has been in my pocket most of 2000 plus days I have owned it.  It is now on the way out.  The ear piece speaker is dying, so hearing phone calls isn't that easy unless the person is on speaker.  The internet connection is sluggish as websites get bigger and slicker.  The battery is broke from being dropped too many times and is now attached by a piece of Sellotape.  So I decided to go into a mobile phone shop and buy a new one.  I got in there, glanced over all the options available and came to realise that I didn't want any of them.  I was happy with my phone.  It texts fine, I only check the internet for football scores, the alarm and clock work fine on it and it even presents a convenient excuse to discontinue calls ("Sorry, I can't hear you..."). I don't want a new phone.

I had a similar dilemma when looking to buy a games console.  Should I get a PS3 or a Xbox 360?  The answer was neither because I didn't want them.  They brought me no joy or satisfaction, just a distraction.  It left me asking myself what do I really want.  After all, the timing of this contemplation landing in the festive period (which appears to get earlier every year) made it all the more poignant.  So this is my Wish List:-

  • An apology.
It sounds a daft thing to ask for but people are not quick to apologise to me.  The last person who was, well, I fell in love with her.  Not because of the apology I might add but the fact that she had no issue saying "Sorry" when she realised she was wrong was an amazing and rare quality.  We don't do that.  We have to be right and we'd rather run ourselves to ruin before making the concession of an apology.  I am no saint.  I need people to apologise to be able to let go of the antagonism I hold towards them.  People tell me to let it go but that makes me feel worse.  I don't feel unburdened doing that, I feel weak and pathetic.  So someone who just says "I was wrong and I'm sorry" and means it would be great.

  • A listening ear.
Too many people think a listening ear is their heroic opportunity to solve the problems of the world.  That is fine if you are willing but 9 times out of 10, you're not willing and sometimes you're not able either.  I have had concerns, doubts and issues that I have wanted to share on numerous occasions.  Yet that has diminished rapidly because such things have been dismissed for whatever arbitrary reason.  My opinions are never irrational.  I can explain the root for every single one of them and if someone is willing to listen to what I believe and why, then that is all I ask.  If they want to tell me that I am wrong and it because of sound arguments I have not considered, then that is fine.  However, to just not listen because engaging with what I'm saying would incur a great burden, in spite of its potential necessity is soul destroying.  If the ear won't listen, there is no point for the mouth to speak.

  • Thinking before speaking.
People are quick to judge or crack a joke.  I am a man who likes to laugh.  I am not a man who enjoys wind ups, banter or taking the mick, contrary to what some believe.  I use them as verbal weapons to get people to back off when they use them on me.  People who don't wind me up get reflected treatment from me.  Yet there are some who have branded me as such and think they can openly poke fun at me.  It is not true.  One time, when hosting a large event, during which I was not well and drugged up on aspirin, I introduced the keynote speaker of the evening.  I did it in a manner that was taught to me and I did it to the best of my ability.  The speaker got up and cracked a joke at my expense.  It hadn't been the first time he had done it and having near enough a thousand of my peers laugh at me, well, it compounded how awful I felt.  If I had had any energy in my legs, I'd have walked off the stage but I was so ill, I would have only collapsed and made a bigger scene of myself.  So someone with eloquence to know how to say things and the intelligence to not say them would be great.

  • Simplicity.
You know, it is the simple things in life that make us happy.  Seeing my little niece smile and laugh makes me happy.  Hugging someone I care about and feeling them hug me back makes me happy.  A good old fashioned simple meal makes me happy.  Complexity doesn't make me happy.  "I've got issues" is a line that doesn't make me happy.  Telling me I have to do more work for the same pay as someone who does less work doesn't make me happy.  Having a laugh with my friends makes me happy because it is simple.  Those who crave the complex, desire nothing but depression.

  • A rational explanation.
Last on my wish list, it is a bigger ask than you think.  Let me give you an example.  I take some time off work and people ask "Where are you going for your holiday?" and I answer "To bed."  They then ask me why I am not travelling away to some far flung clime to enjoy sunny weather, vast sights or a new adventure. When I answer "They don't interest me, it costs too much and I come back more tired than when I left" they look at me like I am crazy.  When I ask them the same and they say "Oh I am off to Turkey for a week", I don't question how they want to use their holiday time.  I just go "Oh that's nice."  I assume that their reason for travelling there is that they want to go there.  They need no better reason than that.  So why can't I use the reason "There is nowhere I want to go"?  The reason they give is... "You're weird."  Of course, because I don't want to do what they want, that must be bonkers, even though I view holiday time as rest time and I do that best in my own bed.  I'd just like the arguments of "It just is", "Because!" and "You're weird" to be taken away and replaced with rational explanations.  Surprisingly, very few people can manage this.

That is my Wish List.  I won't get it, no matter if I am naughty or nice.  Asking people to put their brains in gear, their pride to one side, throw their issues out of the window and make some sense is just unrealistic.  Dreams do come true but wishes rarely do.