30 Day Writing Challenge: Day Two

Ten Likes and Dislikes

Oh cruel, cruel challenge. I should have looked ahead at the questions because last time I posted, I already covered some likes. Therefore, let us begin with the dislikes, like the negative ninnys we are.


1. Camping
I can stomach camping in a caravan, but it’s camping in a tent that I not only dislike, but actively detest. My worst experience was in Scotland in an over-subscribed camp site where I must have been the last person to arrive with my pathetic one-man dome tent. The only pitch left was under power lines and on top of a drain cover, so I was treated to the scent of Scottish effluence (which is surely the very worst kind of effluence), the sound of arching electricity and the inevitable, damnable, pissing down rain.

Once taut and fixed to the ground, the two flexible support poles were designed to hold the tent in place, except that they operate much more effectively as high powered catapults. I was genuinely concerned that my sleeping quarters would be propelled into the branches of a tree and left looking like a child’s tawdry kite. Each time I reached skyward in an attempt to grab the dripping wet canvas womb flung in an arc above my head, slowed-down it must have looked like a pathetic homage to the famous scene in Free Willy.
But it’s the waking up, too. Staring out from the protective flaps of my tent all bleary-eyed the following morning, are all the seasoned campers. They’re the ones who are completely unabashed about standing naked in a stream washing their genitals. It’s like they’re French, or something.

2. Immigration Antipathy
This is more of a British phenomenon, where “immigrant” is a dirty word. Currently, Bulgarians are facing a backlash and a few years back it was the Polish. When I was growing up it was Pakistanis and in the 1960s in industrial towns it was blacks (“If you want a n****r for a neighbour, vote labour”) and earlier that century it was Jews.

They come here to claim benefits and they can’t even speak the language. Yet somehow, they’re also stealing all of the jobs. If your job is being stolen by an illiterate benefit claimant unable to speak English, then you need to look closer to home. The real problems are employers who provide zero-hour contracts and make excessive use of employment agencies. Your islander hatred is just enabling politicians to use anti-immigration policy as a legitimate platform for governance. I hope the Conservative-Liberal Coalition government looks back as proudly on their current non-EU Spousal restrictions (which is preventing me from returning to England, but that’s another story) as they undoubtedly do on their 1960’s anti-Labour slogan.

Yeah, sorry this wasn’t very funny.

3. Piers Morgan
How can a man who has a face like it was reconstructed from the disposed ankle joints of old women behave in such an entitled manner and be courted with any seriousness in The USA? I’d love to know what “the sell” was for CNN. It couldn’t be his hairstyle, because it resembles an explosion in a pubic wig factory. The guy has been disgraced in The UK for publishing fake stories and for his association with the phone hacking scandal.

Regarding Morgan’s interview technique during an interview at the Leverson Enquiry
Panel Interviewer: Did you find the interview was unfair or intrusive, Mr Coogan?
Steve Coogan: Err, a little. But it’s Piers Morgan, so it’s what you expect when he interviews you. So, a little, yes.
Panel Interviewer: Well that might mean a number of things. One thing might be that he’s a charming man and he’s able to bring the best out of his interviewee or it might mean something else, I mean….
Steve Coogan: It’s the “something else”.

4. Bad Grammar
I hate when people use an idiom incorrectly. “I could care less” is just stupid.
I hate words that are made up because the person doesn’t know better (unlike, say, Shakespeare). “Addicting” isn’t a word. It doesn’t fill a hole in the language that isn’t already filled by the word “addictive”.
Apple can sod off with “Think Different”. I’m aware that it is almost certainly intentional, but any time that I see that slogan, I want to get a black marker pen and add “L, Y” to the end to make “Think Differently”.
I’m positive that the majority of these wrongologisms originate in The USA, but Americans always found English difficult 😉

5. The word “Oftentimes”
Which brings us nicely to this word, deserving of its own heading. As far as I know “oftentimes” is archaic in British English, but I occasionally hear American speakers use it – especially sport broadcasters and nincompoop news anchors. This word should be banned, and here is my rationale:
We say “sometimes” because the word “some” can describe “some bags”, “some horses” or “some bad hat, Harry”. “Times” is superfluous because “often” is only used in the context of time.

6. “Those” TTC Commuters
Whatever failings the TTC has, they are less frustrating than the failings of the people that use the service, especially in Scarborough. There used to be posters in the style of 1970s Public Information adverts offering slightly patronising advice, like the one telling shoppers (inevitably women) to stay off transport during rush hour. I hereby propose the following posters for 2014:
Poster informing standing passengers that there are not dragons at the rear of the bus, and that it is perfectly safe to stand beyond the rear doors.
Poster telling seated passengers that the seat nearest the window is not booby-trapped. Moving across to that seat means nobody else has to defy the laws of physics to get to it.
Until your rucksack starts paying a fare, it doesn’t get to sit beside you. I propose a fare of $50.
You don’t win a prize for standing still and blocking the way while staring dispassionately out of the window when people are trying to board the bus in the freezing cold. For six months of the year, the windows are smothered in road salt and you can’t see anything, anyway. Come back to reality and your miserable existence like the rest of us.
Finally, LEARN TO QUEUE, not form a huddle. The queue starts at the stop, not necessarily at the shelter. If you decided to take shelter from the weather, you relinquished your position in line. Get to the back, unless you are in some way frail (physically, we know you are mentally).

7. Parking Lot Stalkers
Whenever I leave a building such as a movie theatre or shopping mall, I exit via a doorway that is distant from my eventual destination. Why? Because I’m tired of cars skulking along behind me to claim “dibs” on my parking spot like it is some kind of valuable real-estate. Would it kill these people to walk an extra 20 yards? The nearer to the perimeter of a building you are, the more desperately these drivers behave. I have taken to intentionally ducking and diving behind obstacles like I’m in a frantic game of the pedal-basing arcade classic Time Crisis. The hilarious thing is that I don’t even have a car, unless I rent one, but people like me are followed anyway. RELOAD!!

8. Hard-Push Sales
I will, and have, walked out of places that I feel are being pushy. A couple of years ago, I was in a men’s clothing store that I quite like (whose name is startlingly similar to “xxeM)”. In the space of 4 minutes, a sales girl had asked if I needed help 5 times and been told “no” the same number of times. I do understand that some people are too stupid to ask for help. I work in a store, and I have lost count of the number of times where one person in a group is looking for something and all of the others repeat “just ask”, “just ask”, “just ask”. Usually a whisper is a whisper, but in this case the loud whisper of “just ask” is a deafening plea for your relief from their friend’s feckless wandering.
But there has to be a middle-ground.
Stores where the sales people walk around with ear-pieces that you assume are for security purposes but are actually used to say things like “HEY SHARON, THERE’S A CUSTOMER LOOKING AT CANDLES. WHY HAVEN’T YOU SPOKEN TO THEM YET?” will not get my cash unless there is no alternative. I don’t suppose I can maintain my policy much longer, as that kind of thing is becoming common practice.

9.This quiz

10. People who say they will do this quiz, then miss a day.
Oh, hi.


1. Stationery
My handwriting is atrocious. If you read any of my school reports, it’s almost as if they were all written by the same teacher. They are mostly positive, but all made reference to the improvement required (but never forthcoming) in my handwriting. The reports could be carbon-copies with just the name of the subject changed. When I was at school, we were made to use fountain pens and write in cursive whether it was an English class or a Science class. This usually led to massive blobs of ink in my notebooks which I would try to suck back up the pen, without success.
I wish I could write more attractive text because I have a weakness for attractive journals, notebooks, agendas, pens, cards and so on. I tend to desecrate them, which is bad news for me, but great news for the Chapters store across the street.

2. Formal Attire
I like dressing up in my glad rags. I don’t have the opportunity to do so very often. Now I don’t mean to say I would like to see more funerals happening, but….

3. Comedy
I like alternative and post-alternative comedians. I plan to write more about this at some point. My favourites, those that have had an influence on my character and so forth.

4. Cake
Thrust it in my gob. Any cake, the more cream or custard or glaze or icing, the better. I am almost certainly going to have blood sugar problems when I am older. Might as well get what I can in the meantime. Logic.

5. Roadtrips
I don’t get to drive as often as I used to, but I love to just go for a drive (out of the city). I like visiting new places and the open road. It gives me a satisfying sense of freedom. I would love to drive the Trans-Canada to Vancouver, stopping off at anything that seems interesting.One of my favourite roadtrips were driving around the coast of Ireland from Giant’s Causeway to Limerick over a week or so, staying in different B&Bs each night. Another was travelling from Toronto to PEI, via Cape Breton and Nova Scotia, then back again, in about 10 days. Canada is a lot of fun to drive in. You can almost see more from the vantage point of a vehicle.

6. Enjoying a Book
There is nothing like finding a book that I find enthralling. I’m not a massive, massive reader like some of the people in the book industry that I work with, or even as much as some of my friends. But I really love it when I manage to find a book that pulls me in.

7. Hacking
Getting a piece of technology to do something that it wasn’t necessarily designed to do, or unlocking a feature that was hidden or not meant to be functional. Most phones I have ever had, I have unlocked for use with any SIM card. My Galaxy S4 is rooted, by iPhone before it was jail-broken. I bounce off foreign computers to stream content unavailable in Canada. I like getting things to work.

8. Birds
I like a lot of animals, but there is something about birds that I find fun. They’re not like insects, where there are billions of the things that are indistinguishable from one another. There’s a few hundred different birds in North America, which makes it a challenge to identify them and “collect” them. By collect, I just mean tick them off, add them to the “life list”. I’m not a Victorian who literally keeps preserved bird carcasses in a series of boxes locked in a drawer. The thing with most birds is that they congregate in places where it’s delightful to walk, which is another enjoyable pursuit.

9. Science
The discoveries of science, science as a way of thinking and any natural history. I love the science of space and the science of evolution.

10. Writing about the things I dislike. It’s funnier.

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