Friday, November 06, 2015

Floor Sweepings

Time Travel Exists!

Something happened in 2013 that no longer exists... No, that's not right. Something that happened in 2013 no longer exists... Nope, that's the same sentence. There is nothing mysterious about saying that something that was no longer is - farts are a perfect example of this - but the point I'm trying to make simply isn't that simple. In the 21st century it's difficult to lose things. If something existed there would be, somewhere, evidence that it existed and the same applies to information, knowledge, language and, naturally, history. We live in a world where something is logging everything everywhere, whether in a Big Brother way or because of webcams, anally-retentive web sites or simply through a medium such as this - a blog. You want to know something, you can pretty much find it on the Internet now and considering 20 years ago you'd still think of a library as your first port of call for information and that was limited to the amount of reference book the library had and whether it was easy to access, you realise how far we've come in a small space of time.

Two years ago, the wife had this great idea. Grow beetroot in the borders, between flowers, bushes and perennials. That is what we did and we grew so many we gave some away. Six weeks or so after planting them I noticed the leaves on some of them were all green and not flushed with red and it soon became clear these plants were not your normal beetroot. Come the first harvest and two of them were completely white. We treated them exactly the same, figuring as they'd grown with the usual Boltardy variety, they must be another, albino, variety.

They were quite awful, but they were definitely beetroot, not some rogue turnip or sugar beet, because they looked just like their red counterpart in every way apart from colour. But they had an earthy yet oddly bland flavour. It suddenly dawned on me to look on the Internet and see what it had to say for mutant white beetroot.

Now, I imagine some of you are thinking - WTF has this beetroot story got to do with the first paragraph and if you are I can understand. The thing is what I'm about to tell you even sounds stupid just thinking about it, if it wasn't for the fact that I obviously reported everything back to the wife, who clearly remembered standing in the office while I explained about white beetroot.

It also wasn't like some isolated website that might have been erased in the last two years - I found several references to what I'm about to tell you, so it wasn't like I'd gone to the first website I found and believed everything it said, not that I'd imagine educational and information web pages would specifically create something just to remove it and fuck with my head.

I typed "white beetroot" into the Google search engine and saw several references to "chobli", which on further investigation weren't mutant white beetroot but an entire species of white beetroot. I kind of even have a vague memory of finding something on Wikipedia. From that point on if, for whatever reason, the subject of white beetroot cropped up, I'd tell people about chobli.

Then back in August, I was sorting through some papers that had accumulated on top of the microwave and among them was a note pad and at the bottom of one of the pages was the word CHOBLI and I'd underlined it. I remembered writing this because it was such a weird word and I got this idea in my head it was African of origin and chobli was grown in South Africa and this was bugging me all day, so I finally went up to the office, opened Bing (I boycotted Google ages ago) and just typed in chobli and ... you know how rare it is when you rarely get any results on a search? You know, when you type something like 'Wanglespank' or 'Flangedangler' into Google and there were no matching results; well chobli got results, but only one that matched the word 100% and that belongs to a chap on LinkedIn; everything else is either CHOBI or CHOLI. I scratched my head, asked the wife what chobli was and she looked at me slightly bemused, but I rolled my hands at her, as if it was important for her to go through this little charade for me and she said, "white beetroot, why?"
"Did you see the website I got the information from?"
"I was in the room when you were telling me what it was. Why?"
"It doesn't exist any more."
"Huh?"
"If I type chobli into Bing or google it doesn't exist. If I type white beetroot into a search engine it gives me lots of white beetroot varieties and doesn't, once, ever, mention the name chobli. A white beetroot isn't called chobli, a white beetroot is called a white beetroot." I was getting quite irate.

Later that evening she said she'd done a search on the laptop for all kinds of different spellings and had found nothing at all. Thinking I'd gone mad - which, in all fairness I probably have, but this was something that happened 2 years ago when I wasn't - I scoured beetroot websites (I know it sounds funny, it is funny) for the pictures and words I could remember reading and I found nothing at all; not even remotely familiar. In the end I concluded that someone had gone back in time and accidentally done something that wiped the chobli from the existence of man, but for some reason they'd overlooked me and the wife...

***

The Cold Call

Why is it that whenever the Tories get into power the amount of cold calls increases exponentially (as does the number of loans companies offering great 5000% APR deals)? Why is it that only when the Tories are in we ever hear about people wanting to regulate things that have suddenly exploded into becoming a nuisance?

If it isn't PPI calls, it's the accident their records suggest you might have had, or the delayed flight you had, or the mobile phone contract that is now in the public domain rather than being with a provider... Yesterday, I had six calls inside three hours and four of them were those fucking awful recorded message calls - these cunts can't even phone you themselves, they have to employ a machine!

I've always been of the inclination that I buy things when I need them or I see a better deal. Or I claim for something when it goes wrong; or I NEVER sign for Payment Protection Insurance or anything else. I also don't have a valid passport and haven't had for nearly 10 years. I haven't had a - non-fatal - accident in the last 20 odd years, but I'm presuming the call is to plant a seed in your mind so that when you eventually worry too much about the accident you probably didn't have but might have but forgot you end up having an accident and have this company now in your phone's memory...

The thing that really pisses me off is the fact these thunderous wankspanners have my number and my name, but don't know that if ANYONE calls me and asks for Phillip - I know you're either trying to sell me something or you're my mother and my mother is dead so you can just FUCK OFF!

***

I wrote about 500 words about Street View, read it back, wondered why the hell I'd written it and replaced it with this.

***

I had this piece of paper that I was jotting down ideas on so I wouldn't forget them, but my handwriting is so bad the last thing on the list was unintelligible. "Velghisoply" it appeared to say. I looked at it from various angles; with glasses, without; in direct sunlight and by lamp. I couldn't work out what I'd written and I'm betting if I typed 'Velghisoply' into Bing or Google it would be as common as Chobli, but I decided not to.

After several attempts at deciphering it, I was sitting here, at my desk, when I remembered what I'd written. Now all I have to do is remember why I scribbled the word 'Neighbourhood' down so badly in the first place...

Actually, if I was so inclined, I could probably write a book about sitting here watching my bit of the world go by. I have been privy to snatches of bizarre conversations, felt like a voyeur at times and have seen everything from the nefarious to the downright weird and fucked up. The weird thing is since Fishwife has gone I've kind of lost touch with what is going on in the street. I didn't know that just down the street, too far away for nicknames, there's a boundary fence argument going on that makes you wonder why some people just insist on being complete and utter arseholes.

I'd stick my neck out and say that one of my neighbours opposite could be a) on the verge of a break up b) suffering from financial problems or c) both - but it might just be my over-active imagination. Two of our neighbours have their houses up for sale but neither have signs outside. Another neighbour has been ill for a while and her neighbour has lost so much weight in the last few months you can't help but wonder the worst. Fuckwit's mother died recently and that alone is a scary idea because I reckon he's well into his 60s which means he could be knocking around for longer than me.

I see a lot of neighbourly behaviour through my window, a surprising amount of unintentional nudity (male as well as female) and less happiness. People are smiling less; I'm seeing cold callers despatched with short shrift. No one seems reluctant to complain any more - now let me quantify that; everyone moans and around here when you chat with the neighbours there are some who will use that conversation to air all their grievances about the street - from the amount of immigrants to the state of the paths; others are less inclined and just want to know how you are and what's been happening. Some people never seem bothered by anything, but now... now they will share their unhappiness with you and it's like 'if everything is getting better why do I feel so bloody unhappy?'

Just recently I've seen this guy who looks like a younger but well worn cross between Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman walking down to the shops. He doesn't look cool though and almost always looks as miserable as fuck; like his family were wiped out in a tragedy and someone rings him up every day to remind him. He just walked past the house with a massive spliff on the go and I wouldn't have ever thought he was that kind of bloke.

That said, one of my neighbour's - someone I've made a fair bit of reference to in the past - is doing something I think looks as dodgy as Del Boy. At least six times a day, a car will pull up outside the house, usually a man or two men will go to the front door - which now has a CCTV camera trained on the front door - the men will disappear inside the house and re-emerge a few minutes later, sometimes with a carrier bag, other times with nothing visible. I have seen people walking to the front door counting tenners; I have seen the owner of the house berating someone for trying to pay him money in the open, which as someone who has given people tenners in the street before is only dodgy looking if you think it looks dodgy. Most people aren't even taking any notice of you and they only will if you act out of the ordinary - handing money over in the street in 95% of cases isn't nefarious. The irony is the owner is in a profession where people hand him cash, in the open, all the time.

Young Sam (Fishwife's replacement) reckons he's selling meat; I toyed with the idea he is selling drugs but that tends to be my sole experience of anything nefarious so it's my only point of reference, but if he's selling meat, he's not selling it in any quantity. I mentioned this to someone I know a few weeks ago and they asked me why I hadn't called the police and told them about my suspicions and I realised what we'd become as a country and it slightly sickened me...

***

It's well into November and like 1997 I'm still walking around without having to wear a coat. The reason I remember '97 so well is that it was possibly the last year I can remember when very little went wrong - when everything was on the up.

I remember playing football (I was only 35) over near Wilbye Grange in Wellingborough in November, in T-shirts and shorts and being ever so slightly freaked out by it. The winter of 97/98 was one of the mildest of all time with less frost and snow than previously recorded. There were eight days in November that exceeded 17 degrees and despite a chilly December, January arrived so mild my dad decided to fix the fence in the back garden of the house and had the heart attack that would eventually kill my mother.

When my mum was in hospital the weather was cold and sunny, when she died it stayed sunny but the area of high pressure that was sitting over the country moved towards Scandinavia and the Azores high build in from the west. For at least half of the February that followed her dying the UK was just fed a southerly air stream from the Sahara. I remember walking through Irchester Country Park with my dad and both of us being ever-so freaked out by the fact it was mid-February and neither had jackets on.

You'd be surprised at the number of people who have forgotten that October 31st 2014 was 24.4 degrees and broke the previous record for that day by nearly 5 degrees. You'd be less surprised at the people who don't give a shit.

***

As we hurtle towards that time of year again, my life is full of job applications (I passed 200 applications since September 2014 a couple of weeks ago - and 7 interviews), Doug-sitting, because he is a vandal and stupid. Attempting to prevent myself from procrastinating, especially when it comes to editing my book. And then there's having my constant battle with our old friend depression. The future is utterly terrifying.

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