COLUMN: June 14, 2018

the-fly-2
Jeff Goldblum from the film The Fly. I suppose you could say he is pretty fly for a white guy, as long as you have seen the film and/or understand the premise of the film. The point is, I didn’t want to use a picture of an actual fly because who likes flies, apart from entomologists, who now hate me?

I AM not what you would call an animal lover. Some people say that those who aren’t keen on animals are probably psychopaths, but they’re usually the sort who post rainbow bridge memes on Facebook when somebody’s goldfish dies, so we can safely ignore them.

I am not saying I hate animals. Only that there is a line that should not be crossed. For example, I don’t want your dog in my face even if he is “just being friendly”. You wouldn’t want me in your face “just being friendly”, and I don’t even eat Pedigree Chum and lick places you can’t mention on CBBC. Nor do I bite, even if provoked.

Now some of you are punching the air and saying, “Yes, Gary! You are absolutely right! It’s about time somebody took on the “he’s just being friendly” lobby.” The rest of you have already started writing angry emails and tweets, but stay with me. Unless you’re an extreme Buddhist or Morrissey, you have a line that should not be crossed too. Mine just happens to be a bit further along than yours.

For instance, if a fly flew into your face, you would not generally welcome it on the grounds that it was “just being friendly”. You would wave your hands around and feel slightly queasy that it had been on your face.

Now there are several reasons why you wouldn’t want a fly on your face – they have disgusting eating practices, you don’t know what they’ve been standing on, they carry diseases, they make rats look attractive. But the main reason we are repelled by them is because they are so stupid.

It is that time of year again. I have to have my windows open in the hope that a mild breeze might find its way through my flat. But the problem with having windows open is that flies think it is perfectly acceptable to enter without an invitation.

And once they are in, the fun just doesn’t stop. I have vertical blinds, so when a fly enters the room, the chance that it will leave again without assistance is about as slim as that of a four-year-old boy with his head between railings.

So I was disappointed when I was tidying my bedroom and a fly buzzed by my face. I waved my hands around in an attempt either a) to knock the insect away; or b) to win the National Speed Semaphore Championships. You decide.

There is only one thing worse than unsuccessfully hitting a fly with your hand and that is succeeding. It skittered across the room towards the window as I recoiled in disgust. Good, I thought. I had made it clear that this was a hostile environment for flies and that it would receive short shrift if it tried to move in with me.

But, as I pointed out, flies are incredibly stupid. It loitered near the blinds, then came back into the room, buzzing around my head. No more Mr Not Especially Nice Guy, I thought. I picked up a piece of paper and closed my bedroom door. At least I could contain the problem.

I waved the piece of paper, like an MP at Prime Minister’s Questions, and somehow the fly ended up on one of the blind slats. I edged closer and knocked it towards the open window. Game over, I thought, as I closed the window.

Game on, said the fly, which had somehow missed the opening, and resumed its annoyingly random buzzing flight pattern.

I pulled back the blinds and opened the window wide. The fly needed a much bigger target and I was happy to help. It flew at speed towards the window, and bounced off the closed pane, glass still being news to the fly community.

It made another few attempts to fly through the glass, bouncing off, but each time closer to the open half of the window. Come on, I thought, no longer an enemy of the fly and now rooting for it, you can do it.

It hit the frame. One more heave…

The trouble with opening a window wide to give a stupid fly a better chance of leaving your bedroom unswatted is that windows are a double-edged sword. The fly flew out of the window and, before I could let out a victory cry, it thought better of it, made a U-turn, and came back indoors…

Accompanied by another fly, this one bigger, heavier, and, if anything, more stupid.

Advertisements

COLUMN: June 7, 2018

skydive-2717507_1920
One of the things I would rather do, because there was no way I’d be able to get the rights to a picture of Love Island

“HAVE you been watching Love Island?” somebody I previously thought was a friend asked me.

“No, I have not been watching Love Island,” I said. “For one thing, I am usually at work when it is on, and for another thing, literally everything else.”

“Oh, you big misery guts. It’s escapism.”

But it is not escapism for me. It is the opposite of escapism. Love Island is everything I have spent most of my life avoiding: Lynx-soused banter-lads on stag dos aiming themselves at shellac-taloned wine-o’clockers on hen dos in a clash of the worst tattoos in the world. And all on Instagram.

It is superficial and shallow and I don’t care if you call me a snob. I’ll wear that label proudly if it means I don’t have to have an opinion on the sexual conduct of the daughter of a man in EastEnders.

And so, I have decided to compile a list of things I would rather do than watch an episode of Love Island…

Negotiate Brexit.

Ride on a Northern Rail train at rush-hour in June, when the previous train had been cancelled.

Ride on a Northern Rail train at any time of day and any time of year.

Eat some slightly out-of-date chicken at room temperature.

Read a Mr Men book to a child with enthusiasm. And I mean one of the later ones.

Have a picnic, in which jam sandwiches feature heavily, near a wasps’ nest, while wearing a floral T-shirt.

Wear flip-flops.

Sit on a bus opposite a man wearing flip-flops.

Watch the film Grown-Ups 2, without any sort of break, in the company of the cast of Grown-Ups 2.

Be Donald Trump’s press secretary.

Be Donald Trump’s secretary.

Not watch an episode of Love Island.

Explain how to set up a wireless printer to Iain Duncan Smith and Nadine Dorries.

Baby-sit for Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Formulate Labour’s Brexit policy in such a way that it satisfies, on one side, Jeremy Corbyn, Dennis Skinner, and Kate Hoey, and, on the other side, everybody else in the Labour Party.

Mention Jeremy Corbyn or Nigel Farage in anything less than glowing terms on Twitter.

Give Facebook my telephone number in order to “make my account more secure”.

Give Twitter access to my contacts list.

Play a game that somebody has invited me to play on Facebook.

Use that snap I accidentally took of myself last Thursday while my phone camera was on front-facing mode as my profile picture on social media.

Be tagged on a photograph which was taken when I did not know it was being taken on Facebook.

Drink a half-can of Coke Zero that I have forgotten about and left on a wooden dining table outdoors in the sun for two hours.

Rip off a plaster on my shin.

Listen to your podcast.

Do a tandem parachute jump with a wind-up merchant who says things like, “Oh, no, I forgot to pack the parachute,” and “I was joking before, but it’s not working! It’s not working!”

Go to a pre-Christmas showing of the worst Christmas film ever made, Elf, in a novelty Christmas jumper.

Go to A&E on a Saturday night with a very minor, low-priority injury.

Have a haircut from a barber who is not my usual barber and consequently have to explain my hair to a stranger in a way that does not make me sound clinically insane.

Be a judge at the British Scraping Fingernails Down Blackboards And Knives On Dinner Plates Awards.

Listen to poets at a political event.

Listen to a ukulele orchestra at a political event.

Go to a political event.

Go to a church service which has a cool name like #JC4eva, has a poster with its own cool graffiti-style font, and in which guitars feature prominently.

Go to a political event which has a cool name etc, etc.

Be taught how to ride a unicycle by a hipster with one of those handlebar moustaches, which in this case would be ironic for several reasons.

Attempt to ride on a so-called hoverboard after watching a 12-year-old son of friends do it. Again.

Give a bouncer a Chinese burn.

Subscribe to your YouTube channel.

Compile a list of things I would rather do than watch an episode of Love Island.