Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Trigger Warning

I always worry about murders and violent crimes that have more than one perpetrator. How does anybody invite somebody to join them without fearing that they’ll just ring the police instead? "What do you fancy doing tonight?" "Oh I was going to beat a prostitute to death, want to come with?" It's hard enough to find out whether your closest friends would condone very minor law breaking, yet I find myself in a tiny underground that does something that is completely unacceptable to the public at large. You'd probably call it "Un-PC Chicken".

I grew up in a golden age of language when "spastic" "homo" and "joey" were workable and useful insults. Since then the education establishment, the media and all public discourse has been filled with talk of inclusivity, tolerance, egalitarianism, individuality, antiracism, antisexism, and the horrors of offence-taking. To put it another way, I have barely read, heard, or seen anything that doesn't strongly imply that I'm just a stone's throw away from being a violent, sexist, racist monster.

The game, which contains no malice and is played in private, just involves using proscribed words and idioms, generally as a source of comedy. Most of it would probably be illegal if I wrote it down here. As a mild example I was recently on a flight to Spain with one of my co-conspirators. We were flown by a lady captain and that was the first thing we told the chap who picked us up. "Was she able to park it up at the stand?" he asked. Not because he thinks women are any worse at parking cars and aeroplanes than men, but because we've all been told so many times that they aren't.

A few weeks ago I though Un-PC Chicken was going a bit far, but I had misunderstood what was being said. I was in the kitchen, my friend was watching TV in the lounge. "My god look at his hair, he looks like a monkey". "That actually is a bit racist". "No. A Monkee" "eh?" "Davey Jones, Mickey Dolenz, The Monkees".

Richard "PC" B

Tuesday, 22 May 2018


Apparently I am sometimes an entertaining storyteller, but usually I'm precise and concise in my speech. A couple of weeks ago I was at a wedding in Spain, but the bride and groom and most of the guests were from Seattle. I knew some of them from the many times that I've visited Seattle (there was a girl involved). One of the guests had been primed to ask me about all my previous visits and had been told to expect "a wonderful romantic story full of tension and texture and local colour". He was disappointed when he got talking to me, asked me about it, and I told him "Yeah, so I used to date a shop assistant from Fremont".

When I got home my mum asked me all about the wedding and apparently "a white dress" wasn't a detailed enough answer to the question "what did the bride wear?"

Richard "quite the raconteur" B

Thursday, 10 May 2018


At the weekend I have to give a short speech at a wedding so I have been talking about speeches at weddings. One of my friends was embarrassed by her cousin's lesbian wedding because there were readings with childish and poorly disguised sexual overtones. One of my friends got married on Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you) to make it easier to remember his wedding anniversary. His best man's speech was brilliant - funny, personal, mildly insulting, and all tied together with a really positive message. I'm still not sure if it contained the best camouflaged dirty joke I've ever heard or if I've just got a dirty mind. The best man talked about how much time the groom spent playing "Football Manager" on his computer, he'd played so many seasons that his computer was simulating the premier league in the year 2083. The best man said, therefor, he was very pleased when the groom met his bride because he could spend less time alone, locked in his bedroom with his laptop.

My "invitation" to speak included the exact length of the speech, a whole range of topics that I'm not allowed to cover, what the general message should be, and how the speech should end. I believe I can give a speech that they'll like, but I was sorely tempted to write a more traditional speech and then bleep out (or mumble) the vast majority of it.

Richard "This time I won't wrestle the bride to the floor" B

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Man from Delmonte

I'm going to a wedding in Spain in a couple of weeks, so one of the little jobs I did this weekend was to try on my summer suit. Men of my age who don't wear suits in their job generally have a handful of them in their wardrobe ready for occasions like this. We often don't wear them for years at a time. I've been caught out by a suit that no longer fits me – I'm sure the suit got thinner rather than I got fatter. My friend was completely let down by his beautiful, all wool, designer suit in the infamous "Moth Balls" incident. When it came out of storage the suit had been severely eaten by moths, but only in the trousers, and only around the plums – we don't know what attracted them to that area.

A few people actually tried to work out all my eponymous nouns from a few weeks ago. Here are the answers:

Abigail's Party - An old Mike Leigh play on the BBC that everybody in the country saw but me.
Archimedes' Principle - Physical law about buoyancy
Avogadro's Number – The number of atoms in 12g of Carbon12.
Buffon's Needle - A difficult bit of maths about the probability of a dropped needle across a gap in a planked floor.
Chesterton's Fence - A principle in policy-making about not tearing things down until you understand why they were put up.
Sword of Damocles - Imminent and ever-present peril
Dekker's Algorithm - First proven solution to the mutual exclusion problem.
Drake's Equation - Seems to show that the galaxy should be overrun with intelligent life
Duff's Device - A truly devious hack in C used in loop-unrolling. From back when we didn't have optimising compilers.
Sieve of Eratosthenes - Ancient way of finding prime numbers
Euler's Line - Complicated bit of geometry to do with the centres(!) of a triangle.
Faraday's Constant - Something to do with how much charge an electron has.
Fermi's Paradox - Just about the same thing as Drake's Equation.
Frankenstein's Monster - Famous fictional monster.
Grey Friar's Bobby - Famously faithful dog.
Halley's Comet - Comet identified by Edmund Halley.
Pillars of Hercules - Mountains either side of the entrance to the Mediterranean.
Hobson’s Choice - No choice at all.
Hubbert's Peak - Something about the productivity of oil fields and us all being doomed. Doomed I tell you!
John Brown’s Body - Song. https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/fzhbe/could_someone_please_explain_the_funny_in_this/
Kundt's Dust Tube - Funny sounding physics experiment about standing waves in air.
Lord Clyde's Shovel - The freedom to keep some of your money away from the taxman.
Lord Kelvin's Thunderstorm - Baffling demonstration of static electricity.
Lou Gehrig's Disease - motor neurone disease.
Marley's Ghost - The first visitation in A Christmas Carol
Maxwell's Demon - Thought experiment to make the second law of thermodynamics even more confusing.
Michelangelo's David - An old sculpture.
Murphy's Law - Adage that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
Newton's Cradle - 80s executive desk toy that demonstrates conservation of momentum.
Occam's Razor - Lazy philosophical heuristic.
Orion's Belt - Three stars
Pascal's Wager - "Proof" that it's worth believing in God.
Pavlov's Dog - The original discoverer of classical conditioning.
Pythagoras' Theorem - To do with the length of sides of right angle triangles.
Russell's Teapot - Thought experiment to make arguing about god even more tiresome. https://xkcd.com/1866/
Schrodinger's Cat - Thought experiment to make quantum theory even more baffling.
Shanks' Pony - Walking
Simpson's Rule - Approximation of the area under a curve.
Epitaph of Stevinus - To do with forces on inclined planes.
Ship of Theseus - Trigger's Broom for the upper classes.
Trigger's Broom - A 20 year-old broom that's had 17 new heads and 14 new handles.

Richard "I forgot Death's Door" B