Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nobody loves a tourist

I've been reading A Corkscrew is Most Useful, a book about travel writers in the nineteenth century.  I've learnt several things from this:
  • Thomas Cook, possible inventor of the package holiday, started off with outings for members of temperance societies.  And 150 years later, we had Club 18-30.  I think that's known as 'emergent behaviour'
  • Even in the 1850s, people were already complaining that tourists had got to all the best places and were ruining them for proper travellers
  • Richard Burton (the writer, not the husband of Elisabeth Taylor) was tutored by a man whose chief pedagogical device was a horsewhip.
My own father never paid for me to be tutored by anyone who employed any form of flagelation as a classroom aid.  More's the pity. I'd have lost the skin from my back and gained some useful experience for later life.

I'm not saying that you have to be whipped by 'an awkward-looking John Bull article', but it might help.  After all, I haven't been whipped by one, and I'm not a famous travel writer who gets written about a hundred and fifty years from now.


Travel today was by tram, but after Monday's saga I wasn't going to bring my laptop with me and risk being laughed at by old men.  Instead, I played Solitaire on my iPod, because I know all the best ways to maximise the productivity of my journey to and from work.  I was gutted that I'd left A Corkscrew at home, but I distracted myself by listening to Slayer at high volume.

One of my earphones has died, though, or else I've gone deaf in my right ear.  Maybe the latter.  I've tried everything: I've been banging my head on the desk, squirting red hot olive oil into it, even getting a toothpick and jamming it down there, but it doesn't seem to make any difference.  Or perhaps it is the earphone that's failed.

Before I left the office today, I watched a version of Scarface, put on by seven-year-olds.  Perhaps it's charming to see small children saying 'fudge' a lot, but I found it slightly arch.  A bit creepy too, perhaps.  Apparently half the internet is now Very Bloody Angry Indeed at the destruction of children's innocence, but if the worst they're doing is reprising an ancient Brian de Palma film that really isn't very good, then some people are getting rather too cross.  See here:

And then I went home.  In a grumpy mood today - woke up feeling groggy, never really improved, and work seemed to be an unceasing cavalcade of grind without any excitement, until about 7pm when I found something that I thought was very interesting that seemed to bore everyone left in the office.  But by then we'd all been at our desks for at least eleven hours, so it was probably time to leave.

Got home, water bill had arrived.  $15.40 ??? Do they think I'm made of money?


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