Friday, 24 March 2017

Scotland Takes A Drink

“You know who likes a drink…?  Scotland.”

That was supposed to be my opener in Bristol on Sunday night.  Ironically, having enjoyed a drink over three nights in Scotland, I wasn’t fit to remember a fake improvisation for a set to which I would not have agreed, had I realised it was the same weekend as the Scotland trip
Thursday started in simple fashion with a journey to Glasgow.  Both England and Scotland look pretty cool from the sky, like anywhere you could fly over.  Enclosures is what I am reminded of, with our aerial view of the hedgerows and fences that turned the sin of property into the birth right of the people who now own the whole world, who also tell us that God created it.  That’s what I thought, anyway.  I can’t speak for anyone else.  And if I could, I wouldn’t.
The family meet at Auntie’s hoose and it’s a good wee catch up with everyone.  Uncle G makes the trip across town, despite illness.  Our hosts are as warm and welcoming as ever, and no one even makes fun of our accents.  “Is it a lager you take?”  It is, aye.  ‘Hanks.
I am likened to a cat made of biscuit and it is a nice comparison, as well as a thoughtful gift.  I will later eat that iced biscuit effigy, despite any likeness it may portray. 
The welcome is as good as ever, and much appreciated. 
On Friday, we get the train through to Edinburgh and meet the Law at the station.  He shows us the sights of the city briefly, as we head out to his place in Leith.  Leith is the port which was its own town centuries ago before it was swallowed up into Edinburgh, the way our ancient cities eventually swallow everything around them.  Just be grateful if you don’t get chewed up and spat out by them, I say.  Well, I don’t really say it, I just think it.  The flats are new-build, but nice anyway, unlike every other flat block ever built in Britain.  There is a helpful scheme to allow the people who live in the city to buy a house in the city, which would be helpful/stupid/novel/communist/impossible/illegal/revolutionary in the south of England (delete as appropriate), where we live.
We discuss the Scottish dialect, including the idiosyncratic uses of the words “but”, “mind” and “take” – and even an abortive, yet spirited debate about the use of “the”.  This is always entertaining.  Well, it is for me, anyway.  I can’t speak for anyone else.  And even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.  I’m having a good time.  After taking it easy with a few tins of Scottish lager last night, a couple of pints this afternoon seems in order, as we meet old friends down the road. 
Back at the ranch, it’s haggis in the Scottish household with no Scottish-born people in it.  These are my mountains, right enough.  I post something on facebook and instantly forget having done so, before we head into the town (there it is, see, that’s not how people would use it in England, is it?  Well, not in the south, anyway – would they?  Oh well, I don’t think so, but I can only speak for myself.  Can I?  Thanks). 
We are heading to the theatre to see Stewart Lee.  I’m really looking forward to it; I’m a pretty big fan, I don’t know about anyone else.  I’d already be a stand-up comedian if I didn’t think I’d be hopelessly derivative of his act.
I enjoy the show, although the day drinking isn’t entirely conducive to full enjoyment of it.  (Well for me, anyway – I can’t speak etc.)
We don’t all enjoy it that much – I told you I couldn’t speak for anyone else; if I could, I’d maybe just shut up and listen and try to let people have their own feelings and reactions instead of disagreeing with a subjective, emotional response.  If I really could speak for others, I’d say they might benefit from me being a better listener.  But it would be better, I suspect, if I tried to listen instead of speaking for anyone else.
The above isn’t meant to be quite so esoteric, but I will now go on to explain it, and tell you that’s what I’m doing before and as I do it.  While actually not really explaining it specifically, more just vainly talking about it incessantly about one small aspect of it that will be implied as emblematic of The Whole.  Which is like no one at all.
The Comedian Stewart Lee does some stuff about recent political events which is upsetting to those directly affected by them.  I find these things difficult, but would rather laugh about them than not – although not much, recently, I admit in our discussion about it after the show.  I opine that I like art that sometimes makes me uncomfortable – as long as it’s saying something interesting/questioning my discomfort and/or using it to make a point.  But I can only speak for half of myself.  I say speak, I don’t know if I actually said it loud (I can only speak to half of myself).
I definitely say out loud that I still enjoyed the show, but, as I say, I’m speaking only for myself.  Or am I?  Yes, I am, but I remain conflicted, so when I speak for myself, I’m not sure I a reliable spokesperson.  That’s like The Unreliable Narrator from postmodern novels, isn’t it?  He says, aping absolutely no famous comedians at all.
In the end, even though alcohol is not conducive either to listening to each other, or making salient, considered points, I think we all do OK.  And we make it back to the digs for a fairly sensible time, given the circumstances and the necessary stops for the ever-elusive “one last” drink.  (There’s never a “last” one, is there?  Well, not for me – but I can only roll out formal exercises in repetition for myself – and if I could do them for someone else, I wouldn’t (because it would be weakly derivative of no one with a distinctive style. (Also, I don’t know if I’d have the gumption for it anyway))).
Saturday, as is the way of these things, begins slowly.  But we make it to a local caff for brunch – although I’m calling it breakfast, because it’s breakfast if one has only just got up and if it is the first meal of the day.  But I can only speak for “my” “self”, even though I feel ok and others do not and might like it, just this once, if I could speak for them.  I don’t though, because no one actually refers to it as brunch.
Next, we make the strange decision to go on a long walk.  I say strange, I can only speak for – oh, forget it.  It’s just what we need, I say – out loud, and everything.  On the way to start the climb up the big hill, I get a look at the wee palace.  Fuck all that noise (the palace, not the big hill.  Hills are cool, palaces are vulgar), I think but don’t say.  No one asks for an opinion, so I don’t offer one; look at me, I’m learning…but, as I say, I can only speak oh forget it.
We go up to Arthur’s Seat from where Law shows us the sights of the whole city and we get bashed about by the wind.  Edinburgh is very nice, and we’re getting the full tourist information about the old town and the new town and the general layout and architecture of the place from our gracious host.  The wind seems vicious, like it doesn’t want us up here, like it’s trying to keep the view and the hill to itself.  I don’t say this, even though I briefly entertain a fantasy that I’d say it to the people in front of me but the wind would steal it from my mouth and throw it behind me to others, still climbing, for whom it would be thrust, like The Disembodied Voice Of God, passing whimsical comment for no one in particular.  I’m a wee bit tired, to be honest.
A coffee and a disco nap gets us ready for another night out, and we hit a restaurant in town, where we run up an obscene bill between a table full of people (with only one Scot – who isn’t from Edinburgh….have you seen that film that the guy out of Belle & Sebastian made?  It’s set in Glasgow, but there’s no Glaswegians, or Scots, in it.  Even though he’s from Glasgow.  Weird.  Anyway, Edinburgh seems a wee bit like that tonight (not that I say that to anyone; or do I?), especially as the people we meet are from England, Canada, Sweden and Finland.  My narration is becoming unreliable, but I’m still having a very good time.
We stay in the restaurant for a long time, because we are having a good time and we are old – well, I am, but I can only speak for thischaracterIstillcallmeevenashetellsastorybasedlooselyonhowIwillrecallallthislaterwhilesimultaneouslyembellishinginaknowingfashionanddescribingfeelingsbarelyrememberedandnotarticulatedatthetime, can’t I?  Yes, I can.
Later, we head for the unreachable star of “one more”, which is always aspired to, however unnecessary.  In the last bar at kicking out time, we meet a couple of young (it’s all relative) women, who I think are from Poland.  Or possibly Russia – no, Poland, surely?  (People of Poland and Russia, please accept an apology for my ignorance, I mean no disrespect.)  Anyway, they invite us to their flat so obviously we go there for a wine and then it all seems a bit weird suddenly.  Later I will find several blurry photos of the view from the flat window, which time this encounter, but do not make it any clearer for that.  The long roll of blurry pictures also include a picture of a strange painting of a clown, leaning against, not hung on, a wall (the painting, not the clown). 
We leave, quickly, not so much under a cloud as in a daze, and attempt to walk home, before accosting a taxi driver in an all-night petrol station.  Later I will find some mystery cash in my wallet and find the time it was withdrawn was around forty minutes later than that photo of the painting of the clown and thirty minutes after several pictures of a church in the rain.
Good times (but I can only – oh, shut up, will you?  No.  No, probably not.)
On Sunday, we awake to an entirely appropriate level of hangover.  If anything, I’ve got off lightly again.  But, naturally, I don’t feel great.  There is some surprise/consternation at the idea that I have to perform tonight.  Fortunately, it’s a talkie gig: I’ll just be saying poems at people which won’t require any manual dexterity, making me feel better about the slightly shaky hands.  (If I had to sing, rap, play guitar and talk to people altogether, like I used to, it would be a real struggle…)
We bid Law a fond goodbye; he’s been a great host and it was good to see him.  We get on the train at Waverley station and sit still for six and a half hours.  On trains, especially on trains travelling to gigs, I usually like to read, write, look at the scenery, listen to music and think of clever things to say to an audience later that day.  I don’t do much of these things: we’re sat at one of those seats where the window is off to the side, so we can’t see much of the scenery.  My head is a bit fuzzy and tired to think of Clever Things, so that’s the writing and Thinking Of Clever Things To Say Later scuppered, a wee bit.  Never completely, mind.  Never completely.
I head straight from Temple Meads to The Louisiana at quick march (as fast as my legs and a taxi can convey me).  I arrive with just enough time to get a hug from a local celebrity and a pint of Guinness from the touring act.  Both of these things help, but it takes me a minute to get my head round all this.
But, hey, I’m a professional (sort of).  So, I steel myself, and let the blood of inspiration run through my veins once again, and I perform.  This evening, to be specific, I perform the role of someone who has had a great weekend and is recovering from it slowly and tentatively, but also has a lot of writing to fall back on.  I forget all the things I had to say about Scotland.  Or maybe I just don’t feel like saying them.  I’m not sure, and will be even less sure about it later.
And, to be fair, there is also some comedian-style ad lib, including a really enjoyable bit where I mention that I can’t see the people there because the room is in darkness and someone starts to speak to me and I refer to the voice as The Disembodied Voice Of God.  And God’s disembodied voice has a Scouse accent.  And if I was really a comedian, that would be a “call-back” to something I said earlier.  But, of course, I’m not, so it isn’t.  Repeated phrases are purely coincidence.
I enjoy all the bands and there’s some punky, yet still somewhat gentle, thrashing about, which is just what I need.  Everyone is really nice and there’s a lovely atmosphere about the whole thing.  It’s like a big hug and it is a perfect way to round off a great weekend.  I think that, but don’t say it.
I mind the till for five minutes, and predictably cause havoc with the accounting.  I think I manage to sort it out in the end.  Well, I can only account for my own accounting, but, y’know.
I get a Glasgow Salad (chips) on the walk home and wolf them down with a beer. 
Great times, great country.
Please don’t leave me. 
Well, I say “me”….

 

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Lost Art Of Letter-Writing Vol. XXLI (Dear Virgin Media Pt. II)


From: Currys <reviewsupport+currys@reevoo.com>
Sent: 09 January 2017 21:10
To:
blizxxxx@xmail.com

Subject: About your SEIKI SE32HD07UK 32" LED TV purchase
 
 
Currys
 
 
 
 
in partnership with
Reevoo
 
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Would you recommend this product?
 
 
 
We invite you to write a review on the SEIKI SE32HD07UK 32" LED TV you purchased from Currys on 19 November 2016, because other shoppers can benefit from your experience. If you have ever used customer reviews yourself, you know how valuable they can be. Currently the average score is 8.7 out of 10, based on 73 reviews.
 
 
 
SEIKI  SE32HD07UK 32
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Would you recommend this product?
 
 
 
 
 
 

By completing our quick and easy questionnaire, you'll be helping other shoppers make better buying decisions.

Your feedback will be displayed on Currys's website and on other websites that value 100% real customer reviews like yours.

Thank you for your time and thoughts!

Reevoo
On behalf of Currys
 
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From: Blizzard 1 <blizxxxx@xmail.com>
Sent: 10 January 2017 13:18
To: Currys
Subject: Re: About your SEIKI SE32HD07UK 32" LED TV purchase
Dear Reevoo/Currys,
Thank you for the offer of work.  I am interested. 
The time has come to discuss the ugly matter of money; alas, like everyone else, I cannot work for free.  This is the world in which we live.
As a self-employed musician and performer, I usually ask for around £200 per hour, with 1 hour being the minimum charge.  However, for a writing/research assignment such as this, I would consider a flat fee, if that is more appropriate.  I have undertaken many writing assignments, but as you will appreciate, charges vary greatly based on time and other particulars.
Taking into account the thorough research and writing time required for this brief, I suggest £500, based on the above pricing structure. 
So, let’s negotiate.  I look forward to working with you.
Yours in anticipation,
Clayton Blizzard
From: Review Support <reviewsupport@reevoo.com>
Sent: 10 January 2017 13:18
To: bli
blizxxxx@xmail.com

Subject: Automatic reply: Re: About your SEIKI SE32HD07UK 32" LED TV purchase
 
Dear Customer,
Thank you for your email.
You have reached Reevoo, we collect reviews on behalf of retailers.
 
Questions about your order or booking
If you would like discuss your purchase or booking, or update your details,you will need to speak to the retailer directly. You may have their contact details on your delivery or order confirmation.
 
Writing or changing your review
If you would like to write a review, please follow the link in the first email you received in order to complete  and submit the questionnaire. The link in the first email will take you to your questionnaire page where you can add and submit your comments . If, and only if, you follow that link and choose to submit your review, it will be published.
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I hope this helps and feel free to let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

Kind Regards,
Reevoo Support Team
 


From: Blizzard 1 < blizxxxx@xmail.com >
Sent: 10 January 2017 13:30
To: Review Support; feedback@reevoo.com
Subject: Re: Automatic reply: Re: About your SEIKI SE32HD07UK 32" LED TV purchase
Dear Reevoo Support team,
 
Thank you for your e-mail.  As this appears to be an automatic reply, I am copying my original e-mail below. 
 
However, having followed the link to Terms & Conditions in your e-mail below, there appears to be no information on invoicing.  Naturally, I cannot recommend a product without conducting all the necessary research; therefore, I am reluctant to click Yes or No.
Also, as you will appreciate, there is no question of undertaking work without first establishing the necessary contractual arrangements.  As professional people representing a reputable company, I feel sure you will understand.
 
I am sure this is a mere oversight on your part.  We are all busy people these days, aren’t we?  It happens to the best of us!
 
Below is the e-mail I sent earlier today.
 
Warm Regards,
 
Clayton Blizzard
 
 
Dear Reevoo/Currys,
Thank you for the offer of work.  I am interested. 
The time has come to discuss the ugly matter of money; alas, like everyone else, I cannot work for free.  This is the world in which we live.
As a self-employed musician and performer, I usually ask for around £200 per hour, with 1 hour being the minimum charge.  However, for a writing/research assignment such as this, I would consider a flat fee, if that is more appropriate.  I have undertaken many writing assignments, but as you will appreciate, charges vary greatly based on time and other particulars.
Taking into account the thorough research and writing time required for this brief, I suggest £500, based on the above pricing structure. 
So, let’s negotiate.  I look forward to working with you.
Yours in anticipation,
Clayton Blizzard
 
 


From: Currys <reviewsupport+currys@reevoo.com>
Sent: 13 January 2017 11:03
To:
blizxxxx@xmail.com

Subject: About your SEIKI SE32HD07UK 32" LED TV purchase
 
Currys
 
 
 
 
in partnership with
Reevoo
 
http://cdn.maxemail.emailcenteruk.com/c1706/c8661e447fd39f3a09c6813efb3a99e8.png
 
 
 
Would you recommend this product?
 
 
 
We invite you to write a review on the SEIKI SE32HD07UK 32" LED TV you purchased from Currys on 19 November 2016, because other shoppers can benefit from your experience. If you have ever used customer reviews yourself, you know how valuable they can be. Currently the average score is 8.7 out of 10, based on 73 reviews.
 
 
 
SEIKI  SE32HD07UK 32
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Would you recommend this product?
 
 
 
 
 
 

By completing our quick and easy questionnaire, you'll be helping other shoppers make better buying decisions.

Your feedback will be displayed on Currys's website and on other websites that value 100% real customer reviews like yours.

Thank you for your time and thoughts!

Reevoo
On behalf of Currys

PS. We won't ever ask you to review this purchase again.
 
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From: Blizzard 1 < blizxxxx@xmail.com >
Sent: 18 January 2017 13:59
To: Currys
Subject: Re: About your SEIKI SE32HD07UK 32" LED TV purchase
 
Dear Reevoo/Currys,
Thank you for your latest e-mail.
I am happy to discuss working with you, but it seems that we’re going in circles on this.
To clarify:  I have replied to your kind offer of a contract for my services to affirm my interest and begin negotiations on rates and terms.  I await your response. 
I confess that your PS confuses me, as it sounds like an ultimatum.  However, you are yet to issue a contract or any offer of remuneration; at the risk of being repetitive, we must first establish at least the general terms of a contract before I can undertake the work you require. 
I had assumed good faith on your part, since you took the time to contact me directly; I hope I am not labouring under a misapprehension.
If, however, I have misunderstood your intentions, I apologise for the confusion and wish you well with your project/s.  If I may make so bold as to offer some unsolicited, unpaid feedback, you may wish to consider amending such communications in the future.  Perhaps you could include somewhere in the body text of your e-mail a note that while you do value the opinions or writing of “customers” like me (which, please let me assure you, is beyond doubt), you do not value their time or thoughts enough to pay for them, and that you are recruiting voluntary labour, despite being a major retailer with pre-tax profits of over £400,000,000, according to some media reports.  (Or a “user-generated content platform” worth around £1,500,000, with assets of over £5,000,000 – I realise, as I write, that I am no longer sure whom I am addressing, since your latest e-mail is signed by you both.  Perhaps you have the kind of friendly arrangement between yourselves that transcends the necessity for any vulgar discussion of money.  Perhaps you even find such considerations gauche, given that your relationship is so close you can sign off on emails using your names interchangeably.  If so, I can only admire your close friendship and the trust it has engendered – and envy your disregard for monetary gain.  I myself have a philosophical approach to financial matters:  like all real artists, I simply don’t care about money; sadly, however, my landlord, the council, HMRC, utility companies, phone and broadband providers, supermarkets, rail and bus companies, clothes retailers, insurance providers, my local food shops and publicans take a markedly different view.  The bastards.  If only everyone was as progressive as Currys [sic] PC World.  What a wonderful world that would be.)
With the hope of building a world based on the values you have modelled, I remain:
Yours,
​Clayton Blizzard
 
From: Review Support <reviewsupport@reevoo.com>
Sent: 18 January 2017 13:59
To:
blizxxxx@xmail.com

Subject: Automatic reply: Re: About your SEIKI SE32HD07UK 32" LED TV purchase
 
Dear Customer,
Thank you for your email.
You have reached Reevoo, we collect reviews on behalf of retailers.
 
Questions about your order or booking
If you would like discuss your purchase or booking, or update your details,you will need to speak to the retailer directly. You may have their contact details on your delivery or order confirmation.
 
Writing or changing your review
If you would like to write a review, please follow the link in the first email you received in order to complete  and submit the questionnaire. The link in the first email will take you to your questionnaire page where you can add and submit your comments . If, and only if, you follow that link and choose to submit your review, it will be published.
Technical difficulties or unsubscribe
Should you wish to unsubscribe from our services, or to report a Reevoo related technical issue or if you have other questions, please feel free to contact us at feedback@reevoo.com, one of our team members will follow this up.
 
I hope this helps and feel free to let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

Kind Regards,
Reevoo Support Team