Blanking, Blocking & Bitching

Posted by Dan | Posted in Blog, Misanthropy, Rants | Posted on 01-08-2014

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blanking

verb

The act of intentionally (and often obviously) not acknowledging a person’s existence. Similar to ignoring and not speaking to, but without providing the recipient with a preface or explanation.

The Tautological Mantra of the Blanker:

“I’m not talking to you, but I’m not telling you why I’m not talking to you because I’m not talking to you.”

Her name was Kayleigh, and we shared a carton of Ribena at playtime. {Can we skip the anecdote? I’m in a rush.}

Blanking in Popular Culture

Blanking in Popular Culture

One day she wasn’t at our meeting spot. I waited patiently as I finished my half of the carton, then decided to look for her. I found her huddled amid a group of girls. Upon noticing me, her eyes widened and she quickly turned away. I found this behaviour rather baffling so I approached and asked the back of her head why she hadn’t been at our usual spot (to no avail). Then I offered her Ribena.

Perhaps it was the temptation of a sugary fruit drink that did it, but she turned her head a little bit and replied: “I can’t; I’m not talking to you.”

“You can’t TELL him you’re not talking to him,” snapped another member of the group.

“Oh, sorry.”

I felt confused and uncomfortable, feelings which stayed with me the whole afternoon. The grief of losing a close friend  compounded by absolute bafflement as to why  made it impossible to concentrate on my finger painting. Had I done something wrong? I racked my brains but couldn’t remember being bad; I certainly hadn’t been told off recently. How long would this last? Was it one of those things people forget about after lunch (like the time Cherry pulled Vicky’s hair because she wouldn’t get off the swing) or one of those BIG mistakes that ends a friendship for a whole week (like when Ben ate James’s Wagon Wheel)? I needed to understand. When the bell rang for hometime I ran up to her and bluntly asked: “Hi Kayleigh, why aren’t you talking to me?”

She bit her lip, unsure whether answering this question was also forbidden. She eyed the cloakroom for an answer but there was no sign of her posse. She caved:

“I can’t talk to you because you’re gay.”

I asked what gay was. She said it’s when other people aren’t supposed to talk to you, and explained that yesterday Morgan had been the first back in after lunch and had proclaimed “Last person who sits down is gay!” Unfortunately I’d been in the little boys’ room at the time of the announcement, which meant I was now gay and we were no longer friends. Before we parted ways I apologised for being gay.

The following day I knew what I had to do: I shoved lunch into my face as fast as possible, ensured I peed particularly early, then spent the rest of lunchtime hanging around the door to the classroom. I clocked Morgan and a few others doing the same as the bell neared, but enough of the class were busy playing to provide me with a winning chance. As I waited, I wondered whether I also had the authority to announce a contest determining someone’s social status. Fortunately it didn’t matter, as at that moment the bell rang and Morgan & Co stormed through the door screaming “LAST ONE TO SIT DOWN’S GAAAAAY!”

I raced inside and hurled myself painfully into my chair. I knew the pained bottom was worth it as I looked around the room, triumphant: there were empty seats galore. I gave a knowing smile to Kayleigh as she walked in, which she returned. Some other poor kid became ostracised that day (because only one person can be gay at a time) and my friendships and social status were restored. I ensured I wasn’t late after lunch each day until the game was forgotten, and I had my Ribena buddy back for the rest of term.

I’d love to be able to look back on that encounter as one of those silly things kids do because they don’t understand the world yet. Yet I see it as the maturest instance of blanking I’ve ever experienced.

While initially painful and confusing, through honest communication the issue affecting our friendship was identified, enabling me to take the necessary action to resolve it and give the story a happy ending.

Adult blankers don’t allow that to happen. They know that even brief communication is anathema to their plans and would never go so far as to give a reason for their behaviour. They are masters of illusion, putting waiting staff to shame with their skills at avoiding eye contact and pretending not to hear you.

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Recap: The Jesus and Mo Fiasco

Posted by Dan | Posted in Censorship, Rants, Religion | Posted on 10-02-2014

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Long before Adam Ant copyrighted his face, there lived this dude called Muhammad…

In case you haven’t been following the latest Jesus and Mo circus, here’s the run-down:

In October last year, two students at the London School of Economics — Chris Moos and Abhishek Phadnis — were harassed by security at their Freshers’ Fair because of their t-shirts. Their shirts had Jesus and Mo cartoons which security considered too offensive. The cartoons are below:

2008-02-152008-02-15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Open Letter To Christians (From A Baffled Nonbeliever)

Posted by Dan | Posted in Rants, Religion | Posted on 29-03-2013

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For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

— John 3:16 (KJV)

I would say this verse is pretty much the crux of Christianity: that our souls might have salvation in the afterlife because God made the difficult decision to send His only son to earth to die for our sins. We should be eternally thankful for His sacrifice.

I have tried for years to understand and believe in Christ’s sacrifice. It’s a core belief of millions across the world, and if it’s true then the fate of my eternal soul rests on understanding it (I’m not big on blind faith), but to this day I still can’t get my head around it. As it’s Easter I’m posting this as an open letter to Christians everywhere, asking you to help me understand the core belief of your religion. To understand God.

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Communicating with the Welsh

Posted by Dan | Posted in Pedantry, Rants, Writing | Posted on 08-01-2012

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Something I wrote back in uni to annoy my patriotic classmates.

When asked recently about the size of my stewed-end lawn I was a little baffled, but replied it was adequate given the accommodation, although my hydrangeas were a bit off-colour and the border was having a dampening effect on the overall ‘feel’ of the garden. The speed at which the conversation ended – followed by numerous odd glares, and an eventual discovery that I had actually been asked about my student loan – reminded me that the Welsh are a very unique people: and not just for their love of rugby and inexplicable pride about living above some very old coal. Quite why you’re expected to pay to enter Wales, but not to leave the place, has got to be one of the great wonders of the world. I mean, only a die-hard ‘Where’s Wally?’ enthusiast could see the appeal of paying to embark on a game of ‘Where’s Llanedeyrn?’ (with bonus points if you can work out how to pronounce it).

In their native tongue, it seems the Welsh have no words for anything less than 10,000 years old. Listen closely and you’ll distinctly hear, “Mae hi’n flich llach iawn in-ter-net ac hoffi hydd achy recording stiwdio…” Some would go as far as to say the Welsh don’t actually have a modern language: it’s just English with an abundance of y’s, w’s and salivating noises thrown in to disguise it (I firmly believe the leading cause of Welsh weather to be the amount of saliva in the atmosphere).

But the Welsh language I can handle (not understand; just handle) – my problem lies with something far worse: the Welsh accent. The Welsh accent can be divided into 3 major segments: “Yur”, “butt” and “izzeh” – but venture around the country and you’ll encounter a wide array of regional greetings, ranging from the formal – “a’iite spaaa” – to the more casual “owz bruv – gor’ any weed?

“Izzeh” tends to follow factual statements, such as:

“The Eiffel Tower is in Paris.”

“Izzeh?

“Yes… it is.”

Ah, izzeh?

I can only assume this is derived from the English terms “is it?” and “it is” – the meaning of the latter dominating the definition of the former: a prime example of an English phrase being reversed to make it seem more Welsh, and transforming it into an unnecessarily elongated version of “OK” rather than an actual question. Oh, and after nearly decking a guy for comparing me to a stubbed-out cigarette end, I learnt that “butt” is a popular Welsh greeting among people of the Valleys.

I’ll stop moaning in a minute, but not before I get to “yur”…

This is the epitome of Welsh-endorsed confusion. Within this one word is contained every vowel and single-syllable word conceivable. ‘Ear’ becomes “yur”; ‘year’ pronounced “yur”; ‘here’ – “yur” ; ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ – “yur” ; Yup, yes and maybe – all become “yur”. Keep in mind continuity in dialogue is maintained through a constant use of ‘I’, ‘by’, ‘like’ and ‘yur’ and you see how the Welsh are the only race in the world capable of quite credibly saying:

            “A’iite butt.  I yurd yur movin’ down by yur next yur?”

            “Yur. Bu’ you yurd my mewsic like, yur’ll yurt yur yurs like inneh.” *

 

To which the only response I can muster is… “izzeh?”

 

 

 

* English translation of above conversation:

“Hello my good sir, how are you this fine day? A little bird told me you might be moving down to the vicinity of our humble abode next year. Might there be any truth in this rumour?”

“Why yes indeed, old chap. But I might hasten to add that you’re already familiar with my musical prowess – perhaps my moving down might be somewhat painful on your ears at times?”

The Ex Factor

Posted by Dan | Posted in Blog, Rants, Writing | Posted on 14-02-2011

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If there’s one rule in the dating game I think we all agree should be abolished, it would have to be the concept of ‘the ex’.

Be it your high school sweetheart, the ‘someone’ you met at a club and grabbed a few drinks with, or just that obligatory best friend who at some point became ‘more than that’ – the one common ground in all romantic romps is the swift and unpleasant outcome of their conclusion: an ex.  Someone who, this rule commands, you must spend anything from a month to eternity cursing, berating and avoiding; all in the name of love.  This former romantic interest is stripped of any essence of humanity, and referred to evermore as ‘my ex’.  Contact, when unavoidable, is limited to brief, awkward conversations about work, the weather – anything but their current relationship status (in case it looks like you care which, strangely, you do).  It’s probably just as well, because residual jealousy will forever rule your judgement of an ex: branding them a ‘slut’ the minute you catch them smiling at someone new; and twisting your perspective of them until you utter those oh-so-predictable words, ‘I can’t believe I ever went out with…’

I think it was Jesus who said, ‘It is better to have loved then lost, than never to have loved at all’ but, given my track record, I’m not too sure I agree with Him.  I’m all for making someone happy for a few months, but if it’s followed by a potential lifetime of belittling every detail about their post-you lives, and diving under tables whenever they enter the room, I’m just not convinced it’s worth it.  And all you need do is mutter ‘my ex’ from under the table and everyone understands – so I can’t be the only one.

Personally, I’m a firm believer in the ‘love is a roller coaster’ analogy: it has its ups and it has its downs, but ultimately the whole experience leaves you terrified, nauseated and clinging desperately to anything in reach for survival.  But it has always fascinated me how a couple can go, almost overnight, from sharing their most intimate thoughts and moments to downright vilifying one another.  I suppose that intimacy is the reason: they know too much about you, and if you don’t seek to demolish their credibility – at least among your friends – there is no telling what power they could wield with that information.

Of course, you do occasionally hear rumours of exes becoming the best of friends after the initial apartheid, and obviously there are exceptions to the ‘you will hate each other’ rule: some people orchestrate the break-up with such an air of decorum that all it amounts to is a few awkward feelings for a week.  But let’s be fair – these friendships are forever marred with whispers of ‘Are they getting back together?’, because exes are never ‘just friends’.  If you don’t believe me, try telling your current partner you’re meeting your ex for a drink and a movie (be sure to note their reaction, as you may not see them again).

I always used to see the line ‘I value our friendship too much’ as a clichéd excuse, but looking back, I’d call them the wizened words of romance veterans.  I’d say it’s the fear of ‘the ex’ – more than the waiting for ‘the one’ – that makes people cautious in making that fatal jump into a relationship.  We all crave; it’s natural.  But an ex serves as a constant, lurking reminder that it’s not a good idea to date every person you feel a slight attraction to, as chances are all you’ll reduce the friendship to is an eventual state of avoidance, glares and drunk confusion in those brief moments of ‘I miss you’.

Not meaning to put a damper on anyone’s relationships or anything – I’m sure they’re all breathtaking – but for now I’m staying single, until I find someone I’m at least fairly sure I’ll marry.  Not because I’m afraid of commitment or rejection; but because I’m petrified of my future ex-girlfriend.