Friday, 15 August 2014

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics

Women. We love nothing more than a good old gossip don’t we?

No, that is not a crass generalisation; it’s a fact.

It is. A study has gone and proved it.

Well, I say study. It was more of an amateurish internet survey by a wine retailer, for soulless marketing purposes, that was riddled with data input errors; but, whatever, statistics don’t lie.

(Spoiler alert: They do)

The results revealed that us ladies are officially addicted to tittle-tattle, and are unable to keep a secret in our silly female brains for more than a measly 47 hours and 15 minutes, at the absolute maximum.

I was quite disappointed when I read that I have to say. What a terrible bunch of harpies we must be.

But then I remembered that I took part in the survey at which point I was thoroughly relieved to be able to dismiss the conclusions out of hand. Phew!

The survey was hosted by a website which I’m registered to that offers cash and prizes for questions. Just like in politics, right guys? Satire, zing!

This website is the banal source of all those pointless Metro newspaper mini articles which say stuff like “The celebrity people would most like to have afternoon tea with is Sharon Osborne, and the celebrity most people would least like to have afternoon tea with is Katie Price”

Yep, if you’ve ever wondered where this arbitrary information originates from, it’s this survey website.

And by the way, the celebrity people would most like to have afternoon tea with is not Sharon Osborne per se; ditto the inverse scenario for Katie Price.

Nobody actually gets to volunteer their choice you see.

You get a list of about ten people that you can choose from for each question.

Sharon Osborne is not in the ‘wouldn’t like to’ list and Katie Price is not in the ‘would like to’ list. They have already helpfully categorised the celebrities according to how popular they are perceived to be in the first place.

All very leading...

It doesn’t really matter for the most part. Skewing the results of an inconsequential celebrity afternoon tea survey is fairly low level stuff. But when they start spewing out casual misogyny left and right, you tend to sit up and take notice.

It’s not only leading and limited questions that are the problem on this website. It’s that, even when they’re not incessantly trying to get you to say exactly what they want, they’re just generally sloppy.

For example sometimes they just forget to give you a ‘not applicable’ option.

For instance, say they’re doing a survey about punching the Queen. And the first question is "Have you ever punched the Queen?"

They will give you a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ option for the first question.

You select ‘no’ (hopefully – that’s treason guys!) and then move on to question two which is…

“How hard did you punch the queen? – Very hard, Hard, Normal, Normal but with a hammer, Gently…”

No ‘not applicable’ option. But you can’t continue without picking an answer, so you have to check anything just to move on. And you tend to, because there’s cash to be had.

It’s sloppy and the results that their sponsors are paying to gather are really not worth the paper they’re written on.

Which brings me back to the survey about bloody awful sneaky lying women.

The question was, “How long is it before you tell a secret?”

The options were, “One minute, ten minutes, thirty minutes, one hour, three hours, six hours, twelve hours, twenty four hours, one week, one month”


So, once the (inevitable) results were in Michael Cox, UK Director of Wines of Chile, who commissioned the research, sent out a press release saying: "It's official – women can't keep secrets”

And that quote got used in the news. The real news! Where factual things get relayed and people take them to be…fact. Thanks Michael, you’re my hero.

He then went on to say that “juicy gossip can really flow after a couple of glasses of wine” (Don’t know about you but I’m picturing him holding up his product with a dead eyed smile as he said that) Fancy propping up misogyny to sell wine Michael, that’s not very nice.

But it’s not all Michael’s fault. Leave him alone, he’s had enough.

Gender stereotypes – however untrue – are vigorously maintained throughout the media all the time. So often in fact that we don’t even notice anymore; they are just part of the everyday landscape. Oh yes readers, I have seen the Matrix (not the film, the idea from the film) (I have also seen the film)

Rom coms, sitcoms, adverts. Mostly those bloody adverts, full of boring killjoy women rolling their eyes at silly men, whilst the men are all trying to avoid their wives and girlfriends so they can eat some Pringles (?) and actually have fun. Something women kill dead, right lads? Yeah, it’s cool, I’m not like other women. I speak your language.

Oh yes and then there’s that, the thing I just did there. The worst result of all this nonsense. Women who have bought into the lies about their own gender so much that they go around trying to ingratiate themselves with men by saying stuff like “I don’t get on with other women, they’re all so bitchy and girly” The fuck? Don’t do that. That’s the kind of thing Michael Cox would do. Sorry Michael, I’ll leave you alone now I promise.

This bullshit battle of the sexes, which I don’t actually recognise from real life at all, is accepted as being a true and tangible thing. Usually to shift gender specific products. Or fun Pringles for fun man time….yeah, I still don’t see it.

Sometimes, just sometimes, people recognise half of the problem (their own half usually)

Men will write into the Metro saying “why do adverts make us all look oafish and stupid and women look smart and sensible” Then they’ll get a rant on about bloody women. Like all women wrote the advert.

Then women will write in and say “why do adverts make us all look like such awful nags?” Then they’ll get a rant on about bloody men. Like all men wrote the advert.

Nobody joins forces and says “wait a minute, we’re both being painted to look bad in our own way…hmm, it must be because this is how advertisers use their very limited screen time to sell us stuff. By being really basic and simplistic and therefore using stereotypes that weirdly appeal to us after years of being whacked over the head with them so hard that we’ve ended up with some form of Stockholm Syndrome where we actually cling on to them a bit and carry them on ourselves. Oh yeah, this isn’t something we should be taking into our lives and applying there. Sod you Mr Pringles, I can eat your crisps with my wife and still have fun”

What I’m saying, in a really cack handed way is, people are people, with very individual experiences, characteristics and ideas. Gender sometimes informs certain things about people, like whether they wear a bra or not for example, although…no, that’s another topic.

So ignore adverts (that’s just good advice in general), don’t believe rom coms (not just for the gender stuff, they also give people a truly warped vision of how relationships work) and the next time you read a headline that claims some study or other has proven a stereotypical behaviour exists, remember Michael Cox and his bloody awful wine survey. Ok, leave Michael alone now.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Derek Acorah & his Wacky Rape Theory

Last year I saw Derek Acorah's book 'Haunted' in a bargain bin.

Well, I say 'bargain' bin, it was a staggering 50p, which I think we can all agree, is too much.

But I’m a big fan of the crap autobiography. They can produce some real gems such as this moving story of redemption by cheeseburger from Jim Bowen’s ‘Right Place, Right Time’

Or pretty much everything Paul Daniels wrote in his autobiography.

So I reluctantly paid my 50p and took home what I thought would be at worst an amusing read.

For the most part I was right. The first chapter for example, offered up musings such as: " times I come across spirit beings who are behaving in an anti-social manner"

Honestly, spirits today!

But then a few chapters later this paragraph popped up:

"I explained to Terry that, difficult though it might be to come to terms with, it is my belief that before we enter our physical lives we choose the way in which we will live those lives. We choose the burdens we will have to carry, the things we will have to endure and also the manner of our passing"

How naive of him, I thought. He clearly hasn't considered all sorts of stuff like death in childhood, brutal murder, wrongful execution or rape.

Actually, it turned out that he had.

In the next chapter he talked to a woman whose father raped her throughout her childhood. There’s no way he could think anyone would agree to that before they were born right?

"As Nancy related this story to me I realised that unfortunately this was a case where people have to undergo certain harsh experiences in their lifetime in order to achieve soul growth. In other words, they had agreed to these experiences before they had incarnated into their physical bodies"


If his theory is true (it isn’t) but if it is (it isn’t) then it would explain why he recently refused to do a breathalyser when caught driving drunk.

This obviously was not one of the things he contractually agreed to before he was born. His hands were tied.

This is a probably a good juncture to insert the screen shot I took late one night of Mr A mistaking the ‘tweet’ function for the direct message option

Sure you haven’t Derek, sure you haven’t.

So the book went from the bargain bin, to the recycling bin and as I put it out with the paper recycling I hoped that Acorah’s book would come back as something more useful.

The same goes for Acorah, when he passes in the manner of his own choosing.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Wit & Wisdom of Paul Daniels

If you were to say to me “so, read any good books lately?” the answer would be a definite “no”

But who wants to read a good book when you have Under No Illusion, the life story of magician Paul Daniels, at your disposal?

It is better than good. It is bad. So bad it is bad and therefore good. But mostly bad. Very bad.

I would like to share with you some of the highlights. Brace yourselves.

We start with his dramatic entrance:

We experience the cold, budgie-killing reality of war:

Something that really gets up his nose by the way, bloody war:

The Holocaust didn’t bother him that much though, until he saw a film:

He finds fat ladies far more traumatic:

Not as traumatic as he finds homosexuals though:

Thankfully nobody has ever thought he was gay, no sir:

He has urges:

And casual sex (a whole chapter thereof):

And rages with lust:

Although his erotic nightmares do point to some sort of issue with women:

As well as his treatment of prostitutes:

And his description of their lady bits:

Oh and his attitude to women in comedy:

And the fact he thinks they are all filthy:

Oh and by the way, as a grown man, he bites toddlers:

He has an interesting name for his penis:

Has an even more interesting take on racism:

Has a yet even more interesting take on the teachings of Gandhi:

He hates cheese, not like you, you idiot:

He once got covered in poo from a faulty boat toilet. One for the memoirs:

He’s not dead, obviously:

He abused his position in local government to spy on his first wife’s lover:

And then presented the lover and wife with a dossier whilst they were in bed:

But things turned around when he met Debbie McGee and they had sex in a rowing boat:

And finally, his most valuable life lesson. Take note: