Saturday 3 January 2015

What made me laugh in 2014?

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Looking back over a year that's just finished it's always easy to think of events that were sad, or lacked any form of positive element.

Those tend to be major international news happenings, such as the disappearance of two planes in Asia with the loss of all on board and the massacres of innocent civilians by the monstrous Islamic State fanatics.

Humour is therefore where you find it and tends to be personal and in the eye of the beholder.

Television depended on farting, illegal sex and bad language for its laughs in 2014, with very few exceptions. It's no wonder therefore that digital channels such as Bravo, Gold and Dave are getting great viewing figures by showing repeats of Fawlty Towers, Vicar of Dibley, Steptoe & Son, Porridge and Only Fools & Horses. Even the BBC made a new series of Open All Hours Still, realising the gap they'd created. The Bishop of Dibley, Back in Porridge, Steptoe & Grandson and probably Fawlty Hancock will all follow at some point. The trouble is they'll all star James Condon, because the BBC never really likes taking a risk!

So what made me laugh?

Walking through Southampton main street the number of people who bumped into me because they were texting on their mobile phones was amazing! Very few were talking which might have been acceptable, but just looking at a tiny screen while bouncing off people like a snooker ball is rude and hilarious, especially when they mumble an apology and then do it again seconds later.

Bankers who a year, or two ago were guilty of what amounted to fraud with PPI misselling, rigging LIBOR rates, forcing small business into bankruptcy so they could seize the assets at a profit etc etc are now back earning (?) million pound salaries and bonuses as though nothing has happened. TSB are advertising how trustworthy they are, just as they're in the process of paying a massive fine and facing the prospect of another. Co-op Bank is in freefall as the "ethical" bank whose Chairman resigned because he was a drug addict who liked rent boys. It also transpired that he knew absolutely nothing about banking and had no idea of the size of the assets his bank had! Lloyds continue to invite people to join them for "the journey".... over a cliff. They missold like all the others and also trapped mortgage customers into having endowments to pay off their mortgages "which would also give them a nice lump sum for their retirement". Now those endowments are way short of repaying the mortgages, let alone providing a nice nest egg, and Lloyds are actually asking people how they intend to make up the short-fall. CUSTOMERS HAVE TO MAKE UP THE SHORT-FALL FOR THE BANK'S INCOMPETENCE TO INVEST PROPERLY! People will be forced to sell their houses and live their retirements in poverty, just so the banks can show a healthy profit. Sod the poor customer.
Meanwhile the bankers drive Porches and party with our money!
You have to laugh!

I had so many calls from a company phoning "on behalf of Microsoft" it became routine to answer the calls. They wanted to remotely take over control of my computer because they had detected a virus that they could eliminate for me. So kind, although of course they actually would have downloaded a virus onto my computer and grabbed all my confidential data, such as bank details. I actually looked forward to the calls and answered them as follows:
   1. "This is a top secret government establishment and your location has been detected and has been transmitted to your country's secret service. They should be with you in  about 5 minutes. Do not hang up". Click
   2. On being asked if my computer is on, they ask if I could open a window. I reply that I have and they ask what I can see. I reply that I can see trees, people walking past and my neighbour mowing his grass. Click.
   3. Sometimes when they've asked me to go to my computer I agree to, put the phone down on the table and leave them to wonder where I am for the next 15 minutes. After all they're paying for the call. Click
   4. I've often pretended I can't understand them and start talking in Franglais with Germanic overtones. Click.
Word may have got round because I haven't had a call for some weeks now.... not even from Microsoft!

Watching quiz programmes on TV the words "that was before my time" are uttered so often as an excuse for knowing nothing, it makes me wonder whatever happened to History? Even so-called celebrities show their ignorance on anything that happened before they were born, which either shows a lack of education, or a totally massive ego! Laugh? I nearly started! Having said that I do love watching quizzes such as Pointless, Eggheads, Mastermind and University Challenge. Monday night is bliss night when they follow one after the other!

Since smoking in pubs was banned and restaurants, I (as a reformed smoker of many years standing) find that if someone lights up an eCigarette I actually bristle with indignation. A very few years ago I would have been smoking with the best of them, so it just goes to show that government legislation has the power to manipulate people and change their mindsets. Laughable really after what we say about politicians!

Publicising things like books on social network sites is seen as being the Holy Grail of marketing by some authors. I have to admit I do it occasionally because that's what my publisher says to do. However I can't help thinking that bombarding Facebook friends, other Facebook Groups, Linkedin contacts and Twitter followers with a never-ending invite to read / buy / review my books is counter-productive and actually loses sales and (more importantly) friends.

Talking of my publisher and social networking. Most of their communication with their authors is via Facebook and occasionally by email... rarely if ever by phone. It's rather ironic therefore that the two owners both "unfriended" me in 2014 for having an opinion which I expressed in private. I explained to them later that the opinion was actually positive, but I remain a pariah on Facebook as far as they're concerned and I therefore can't see their posts, but of course they can't see mine.
I was actually also unfriended by two other authors belonging to my publisher. One who asked me to find out some information from a mutual friend, but when I got it she didn't like what she heard and unfriended me for knowing it! The other unfriended me when he accused me of being a Nazi for not having heard of Britain First.
Once again.... you have to laugh!

Here's to fun and games in 2015!

Blog on, Dudes!