Category Archives: Rants

dil rants – they’re always right – you know you love that

The Problem With Christmas, Or Why I Become A Grumpy Old Man At (The Mention Of) Christmas

Inspired by a couple of recent conversations, and the less than subtle appearance of Christmas paraphernalia in shops, in September even, I figured I should explain why I become a somewhat less than pleasant person at the mention of Christmas.

Depending on who you talk to, the origin of Christmas is either the birth of Jesus (which I am well-known to discredit and disagree with) or a jealous Christian copy of an ancient pagan festival of dubious nature. The origin of Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with the modern equivalent. Christmas is about greed; It’s one huge celebration of self-gratification during which you force obligations on others.

It’s all for the children though, right? Well, not really. If you never mentioned Christmas to a kid, never celebrated it, never showed it on TV, or advertised it in shops, a child wouldn’t know of the existence of Christmas and, therefore, wouldn’t miss out. They also wouldn’t get any gifts though. Or would they?

Most people’s concept of gift giving is a funny thing. A gift is something given to someone else, in thought of them, without any expectation of compensation. The act of giving is a personal act that you do because you want someone to have something they need, or maybe just want. Giving a gift at Christmas (or a birthday, for that matter) has turned into a selfish act of self-gratification. With kids, for example, people expect a thank you letter or call. For adults, there’s the expectation of a return gift of equal or higher value with the risk of hard feelings existing if it doesn’t happen. Real gifts do not come with expectations of compensation attached. Expecting something back is called a transaction.

But a thank you note from a kid isn’t much to ask, is it? Well, it is because that’s you expecting something in return for a gift. You’re wanting your self-gratification. You want to be proud of yourself for buying that cheap Christmas tat for someone, who probably didn’t even want it, and revel in the glow of a hollow token of gratitude that someone feels obligated (or is forced) to write.

The way I prefer to do gifts is to buy them for my loved ones whenever I feel I want to. I don’t feel the need to have a special occasion, nor do I appreciate being forced to. Nor do I feel any desire towards wanting an equivalent token returned to me. A gift is a gift, not a request for praise.

This is why, when I’m asked what I’d like for Christmas or birthday etc., I ask for nothing. Everything  I need or want I’ll get myself using my own means. Expecting someone to buy the expensive things I want would just be selfish, and any cheap token thing I’m given to put in my bottom draw to throw out next year is just another request for praise because “it’s the thought that counts” (which, I’ll add, is a thoughtless phrase that disregards the thoughts of the receiving party if they have specifically requested that nothing is given to them).

Besides all of this is the whole family visiting deal. People who know me know that I’ve never been a big family person. My immediate family is my priority, and always has been. When, then, I’m forced to travel about to meet people to celebrate something that I see as a needless event, I become what I consider to be understandably upset.

I understand that most people are very family oriented, and that’s fine. People are social creatures by nature, but part of my nature is to avoid a great deal of contact with people. It comes with the introverted territory. Unfortunately, extroverted people tend to ignore this, or entirely misunderstand it. Either way, it’s disregarded. Having part of your nature and identity being disregarded is somewhat irking; It doesn’t feel very nice.

At the end of it all, basically being forced to comply to a role of cheerfulness and obligated generosity for an event I don’t believe in and disagree with on a fundamental level for longer than I can remember somewhat grates on my nerves.

This is why I am a grumpy old man at (the mention of) Christmas.

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Operation stack

New solution to the Calais immigrant crisis

The problem arising in Calais due to the immigrants camping around the docks and train stations is reaching new highs. Not only are there nightly raids, causing the local security to be stretched thin, but also problems in scheduling of arrivals and departures because of the trespassing on the lines and in the tunnels. It’s a hugely dangerous situation that has already resulted in the death of one of the immigrants.

The repercussions of these events have caused havoc and chaos on the roads, not only of Calais, but also the UK. Operation stack has turned the M20 into one giant truck park, and brought half of Kent to a standstill. It doesn’t stop there, however. These trucks contain the trade and merchandise going in and out of the country. The impact on the economy could be devastating. Something must be done.

I have carefully considered the options myself, and I believe I have come up with a solution that will solve all the issues at one fell swoop.

We should invade France.

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It’s a beautiful solution to the whole problem. We invade France, take over their government, and fix things. Looking at the facts and figures it shouldn’t take more than an afternoon’s work for the British Army. History tells us that France would more likely run away than fight, or just plain give up. Easy. That’s one job done. After spending another afternoon noticing that we’d have a few more borders that we actually should do something about, we would set about paying attention to them (and the people traveling over them), promptly turning away anyone who shouldn’t be wandering over them. Somewhat like we do on our island right now. The majority of the work has been done by now.

A further advantage to taking over France is that we could rename it. I suggest.. England. Old England would be the original island where the desirables live, leaving England to house the undesirables such as benefit scroungers, big issue sellers, Piers Morgan, Little Chef, soap operas, and reality shows. Not only that but we could finally abolish the French language, saving countless generations of our children from the horror of learning the three phrases “How are you?”, “How old are you?”, and “What is the time?” in order to attain their GCSE that no one will ever ask for.

We could also finally rid the world of Peugeot, Citroen, and Renault. That would be nice.

Being that France would become England, the immigrants camped in Calais, or meandering their way through the country, would find themselves slap-bang in the middle of their goal – England. They’d have lost their need to travel over the channel as they would have already arrived exactly where they were trying to go, thus removing the problem of delays on the M20 instantly. It’s win-win, people.

* This blog post is satire and my own humour, if you hadn't guessed. If you're offended by it, you may want to consider stopping being such a big jessie.

Car Drivers – I Hate You. A Rant.

TL;DR – Learn to drive, you inconsiderate pricks.

Long version:

To people who know me there’s no secret in what I do for a living. I’m a truck driver. I drive a Very Large Vehicle. Being that it’s my day job to drive around the roads of England for 7+ hours a day I see a lot. A lot of what I see makes me facepalm. Then shake my head. Then maybe have a little sigh. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to get angry at idiocy I see as I’m supposed to set a good example, being a “Professional driver”. Besides which, I like the idea of improving people’s generally very low opinions on truck drivers. We’re not all evil, arrogant, bullish, Etc. Some of us are nice. Honest.

The problem is this: the more I see, the more I wonder how people actually got their licence. Most of the time I figure that the examiner was just having an off day, or was sleeping. Or maybe it was a fluke. Or they managed to pass with 14 minor errors (out of 15 allowed) on their 9th attempt. Or maybe Kellogg’s was doing a give-away on the back of Corn Flakes boxes or something. Now I’m not one to pay attention to statistics (as we all know 83.54% of them are made up) or independently researched surveys or polls Etc. (as most of them decide on a result and fit the research to suit the answer they’re looking for). As a result I can honestly say that when people say that independent research shows that statistically women are better drivers than men I can laugh in their face and ask them if they actually pay attention to the roads, or if they drive with their eyes closed.

The worst people on the road, from my experience and observations of my 7+ hours a day, are Old People, and School Run Mums. Just down from them are the people with Very Big Cars, followed shortly by Very Important People. Let me explain.

Old people have been driving for years. Captain Obvious rears his head again, but it’s true. There is a problem with this, however – when they learned to drive cars were different, the roads were different, the rules of the road were different, there were less cars on the road, and they were, well, young. Cars have improved. They’re now faster. Old people haven’t figured this out yet, it would seem, and are quite content in pootling down a 60mph road at 25mph while being entirely oblivious to the danger they’re causing. Yeah I said it, going too slow is dangerous. Of course, this penchant for achieving a less-than-satisfactory speed is also down to one simple thing: Old People no longer retain the mental capacity or reflex speed to be safe on the road. Be it that they get confused and mix up which pedal does what, or they don’t react to a car braking in front of them quick enough, Etc. They’re dangerous. I am strongly of the opinion that a retest, or “evaluation” if you want to make it sound nicer, should be established for older people. Reach 65 and have a retest every 5 years from there. And yes I’d be perfectly happy to do it when I’m 65. As a truck driver I’m already going to be expected to have a medical test every 5 years from when I’m 45 onwards. It would be simple – test the old people. As far as I’m concerned ALL drivers should be able to show the same ability expected of driving examinees at ANY point in their driving life. The tests got harder for a reason.

School Run Mums are late. Always late. They needed to get their kids to school 5 minutes ago. Who cares that you’re doing a job and that you’re also running to schedule? Move out of the way because School Run Mum left the house late and the road belongs to her! Why didn’t she leave 5 minutes earlier? Because she always leaves at that time, and there’s never this traffic here, or this truck is never here. School Run Mum also has no idea how big her vehicle is. Either it’s a small car that can’t get through a gap big enough for a bus, and will complain about you being in the way, or it’s a big car trying to get through a gap far too small, and complaining about you being in the way. Also, the parking. Jebus Kristov the parking! Why, WHY, do you need a foot of space between the car and the curb? Or why do you need to park on awkward corners? Why do you need to turn up to the school 45 minutes (!) before kicking out time and proceed to park in the most in the way place possible, then refuse to move when you’re obviously blocking someone? Why do you need to park your car with the driver side door against the curb, and then unload your kids from the roadside? Seriously, how the hell is that teaching kids to be safe? Your door is in the road, blocking cars. Your kids are in the road, which go under cars quite nicely. Your ass is sticking out into the road, which I am constantly tempted to kick with the front end of my truck.

People with Very Big Vehicles. School Run Mums are often guilty of this, but there are a lot of other people who fit this category too. The kind of person who buys a big car, for no good real reason, and has no idea how big it really is once they’re sitting in it. Why do these people have such massive cars? Is it compensation for something? Do they feel more protected by it? Because they have a kid or two (which, for the record, can fit perfectly fine into pretty much any car so long as it’s not a 2 seater sports etc)? To be fair I only have one real problem with people with Very Big Cars – Everything. Ok, so not everyone with a Very Big Car lacks the ability to drive them; just most of them. If you lack spatial perception DO NOT GET A VERY BIG CAR! You end up doing the School Run Mum thing of trying for gaps too small, or not trying for gaps twice the width of the vehicle. This is dangerous, as if you cannot perceive the width of your vehicle in a slow maneuver then I dread to think what you’re like overtaking vehicles, or driving past parked cars at speed. Of course, Very Big Car drivers also have the idea that the bigger the vehicle the more right they have to the road. Wrong. Something I often like to teach them.

Very Important People aren’t very important at all, really. They just think they are. You know the type, big management job, or expensive car, or just arrogant people who think they own the road. All of them thinking they have the right to be where everyone else is at the exact moment they’re there, and how dare someone get in their way. The types that have to be somewhere right now, and you’re holding them up. The people who get angry at you for using your right of way instead of letting them invade it. The hand wavers. The shouters. The inconsiderate bastards who will block a junction just because they can’t stand the idea of that extra car in front of them. Oddly they’re mostly BMW and Audi drivers. Strange that, huh.

This post is going in a completely different direction to how I originally intended it, so allow me to get back on track.

I was triggered into writing this because of a particularly frustrating day trying to maneuver a 45 foot vehicle around a housing estate designed for cars (To whichever moron architect who designed Elvetham Heath: I hate you too) while idiot drivers had parked their cars in the most awkward places. I mean, the most stupid places. The places that caused all the obstructions that they could. People, please, listen. Just because you could get your car (small hatchback?) through that gap it doesn’t mean a 26ton truck can. You know what? That 26ton truck is doing you a service. Don’t block it.

All in all I just wish that there was more consideration on the roads. We all use it, and none of us like people being assholes to us while doing so. Why do it to other people? Think about what you’re doing, and how you’re acting. Look at how you’ve parked your vehicle and wonder if all vehicle types can get past. Worst case scenario, you just blocked access to a road (which is illegal, by the way) that an emergency vehicle is trying to get down. So you just caused a death, or a house to burn down, or both, all because of your lack of comprehension of space needed or allowed for larger vehicle types. Or was it just that you really are that arrogant? Probably.

I really wish there was less paperwork for damage caused to vehicles by industrial vehicles. Some people need their cars destroyed to learn a lesson.

Rant: General Language Idiocy – I’m looking at you, Facebook.

TL;DR version: You’re all idiots. Learn English.

Full version:

Some of you may or may not know me as a bit of a grammar nazi (or Grammar Nazi, if you really want to be anal about it). It’s true, to a certain extent. I enjoy being able to read things that people have said without having to first decode/decrypt from whatever language they’ve mangled English into. You know what I mean, right? Those ‘sentences’ people use with substituted letters for words, or numbers for words, or mixes of both. Those times you have to mentally add punctuation because whoever wrote what you’re reading was too lazy to do it themselves. Those times that words are so horribly misspelled that you have to read them phonetically, then think of the accent that person uses, then their peculiar speech pattern, before finally figuring out what the hell they were trying to say.

Let me say it: Come on people, it’s really not hard. In fact, it’s so simple, school kids can do it. Why can’t you?

I’ll come back to that ridiculous text speak and punctuation in a bit. Let me first have a word about spelling. You have no excuse – not a single one.

“I’m dyslexic.” – Spell check:

In this day and age you have zero excuse for spelling errors while using a computer to type things. Nor, for that matter, do you have any excuse while using a phone to type things. Nor a PDA. Nor a tablet. Get the idea? For example, typing in a browser. How many of you use Firefox, or Chrome? Have you ever noticed while you’re typing that some of your words have squiggly little red lines under them? Do you want to know a secret? IT MEANS YOU GOT IT WRONG! Want to know another secret? Right-click the word and there’ll be a list of suggestions. The correct spelling will be there somewhere, unless you got it so horribly wrong that even guesswork couldn’t get it. If that happens, Google it. Google will suggest the right word. Do it! Phones have predictive text, and have had since T9 was invented. Again, no excuse.

“You know what I mean, what does it matter?” – Lazy:

Wait, you’re telling me that I should make up for your lazy ass by using extra brain cycles to figure out what you meant? Why? I make an effort to be sure I’m using the right words so that people can understand what it is I’m saying with as little confusion or misunderstanding as possible. Why can’t you extend that same courtesy to me?

“I always get confused between these words.” – Look it up:

Did you know that languages are fairly well documented? There are wonderful books, called dictionaries, stuffed full of lovely words – all in alphabetical order! Failing that, there’s the internet. The internet has online dictionaries. Are they so hard to use? If you get confused between words it’s because you haven’t used them correctly enough times to remember them. Look them up, use them correctly, and you’ll find you won’t be so confused after the next three times.

And just in case you don’t get this bit, I’m talking about words like ‘they’re’, ‘their’, and ‘there’. Along with such classics as “you’re” and “your”. Actually, you know what? I’m going to teach you right now.

They’re, their, and there:

“Hey look, they’re over there with their thing!” – This sentence should be enough for you to figure out exactly the uses of each of the words.

They’re: This is a contraction of “they are”. Look at it real close now. They are. They re. They’re. See? Isn’t that easy?

There: That there is the word there. It’s right there, see it? There, where I’m pointing. No not there, THERE! Yes, there. Got it?

Their: Now seriously, if you can understand the other two by now then this one defaults to the only other meaning. “Their” denotes ownership of something. That’s their car. They live in their house. Why is that strange person wangling around their… You get the idea.

You’re and your:

These are simple. “You’re” is another contraction. You are. You re. You’re. See? “Your” is the possessive form of you. Hopefully your brain can hold all this in. You can do it! Do your best!

And while we’re on the subject of “your” and “you’re”…

“heya m8 wot u up 2? goin out 2nite or stayin in at urs???”

Christ on a bike I hated writing that ‘sentence’. This is the kind of thing I see all the time, and it’s painful. I die a little inside when I read such things. I weep for the English language. I feel the need to slap someone in the face when I read this kind of thing, with a cluebat, or a clue-by-four, or a L.A.R.T – preferably the person who wrote it. Hard.

Firstly, uppercase letters – use them, please. Please? Upper case letters are used at the beginning of every sentence, at least. Even if that’s the only place you use them, is it really so hard? The shift key on your keyboard isn’t there just to look pretty, or take up space. It has a real purpose and use. Don’t let it get too lonely or it’ll cry, and so will I. Do you really want to see a grown man cry? Do you?!

Let’s now look at the horribly misspelled words. “m8” is not a word. I see what you did there, it’s very clever. You put an m for the ‘muh’ sound, and followed it with an 8, resulting in meight. Oh wait, that wasn’t clever after all, was it? It doesn’t end up spelled correctly that way either. “wot” is not a word (although technically it is, but not the one you’re thinking of). Add an extra letter, and change the other for the correct letter and you have the word you’re looking for. Don’t know what I mean? Watch – wot > whot > what. It’s one extra character longer than wot, but that takes you all of 0.2 seconds longer to type? Quit being lazy. “goin” is not a word. Dropping the g from the end of words is not cool. It’s not street. It’s not urban. It’s just stupid. Just because your particular dialect drops the g from the end of words when you pronounce them it doesn’t mean you drop them from the written version of the language. “2” is not the same as “too”, or “to”. “2nite” is not a word. You’re looking for “tonight”, which is only 2 extra letters. Don’t be lazy. “urs” is not a word. “Ur”, does not equate to “your”, or “you’re”. It’s plain wrong. Quit it.

Back in the days where text messages were expensive, and due to the 160 character limit per message, people came up with this ridiculous way of typing out messages. Text speak. *shudder* I’ll admit, I used to use it myself. I grew out of it as technology moved on, and texts became cheaper, and even bundled into value packages and sold in the thousands that you people somehow manage to use up and get charged for going over quota… But I digress. I certainly never felt the need to use this text speak when I wasn’t limited to a small number of characters, for example: on a computer. I have a full keyboard in front of me, I have unlimited space in which to type, and therefore have no need at all to shorten my words while simultaneously mutilating my language. You have no excuse for doing it. You’re just lazy.

And finally…

Punctuation:

We all learned this in school. All of us. Unless you were under a rock throughout your entire childhood you should have at least a basic understanding of punctuation. Full-stops (periods for you merkin-type) come at the end of a sentence. A comma (, in case you didn’t know) is, basically, used as a kind of pause in a sentence (oversimplification I know, but if you don’t know by now you really should go and look it up). An apostrophe (‘) is used in a contraction. Think of it as a substitute for a letter and a space (“they’re”, for example, has an apostrophe instead of the space and the a). A question mark, interestingly enough, comes after a question. Exclamation marks/points come after you exclaim something. Obvious!

(As a side note let me quickly say something about question marks and exclamation marks. Use only one of them. Just one. That’s all you need. Using more than one doesn’t make your question or exclamation more important, it just makes you look stupid. Where do you think the !!!!!!11!!!1!oneone meme came from?)

Using just these five punctuation marks would make many of your status updates/notes/blog entries/tweets much more readable and friendly on the brain. They’re designed to help with sentence structure. They’re not difficult to use either. Save the English language from yourself. Stop murdering it. ‘kay?

I don’t expect perfection from anyone. I’m not perfect in the slightest myself, but I do put the effort in. If I don’t know how to spell a word I’ll look it up. If I’m unsure of a punctuation mark I’ll look it up. It’s how we learn. Question it if you’re unsure, read up on it, digest it, use it. The more you do it the more natural it becomes. The more natural it becomes, the less you think about it, the easier it becomes. The easier it becomes the less you get it wrong, and the less I have to complain at you for it.

Right. Rant over. 😀

(Anyone who feels like correcting me on this post, go ahead. Let’s see who wins. 😉