Sunday, 20 November 2011

An Open Letter To Northern Ireland Water

Dear Northern Ireland Water,

I noticed that you seem to be running a radio advert at the moment, in which you take the opportunity to tell us how bad it is to not have water, and to have burst pipes, and all manner of other Water-Related Bad Things which can happen when it gets cold outside.  I assume this is costing you a tidy sum, so I'm sure you will appreciate some feedback on how it's going.

Here's the thing.

We KNOW all about having no water, because last year you fecking left most of us without it for the best part of a week (and in many cases, you allowed the demonstration to go on for even longer).  We therefore KNOW that having no water is a Bad Thing, and that it means you can't flush the toilet or make a cup of tea, because we practiced having no water last year, and we practiced really really hard.

So, I have an idea.  Rather than spending lots of money telling us how bad it is to have no water, how about you spend the money in ensuring that this year we actually do have water?

Just a suggestion.

Thank you kindly,
(who admittedly did not go without water at all last year, due to staying with the parents, who had water throughout, but who nonetheless heard one or two people mentioning the inconvenience on Facebook, and the news, and on the phone and things)

Young Apprentice 2011: Weeks 3 & 4

I didn't say anything about Week 3, because, to be honest, it mostly went disappointingly quite well.  Apart from Lewis leaving his mobile phone on in a meeting, being told to turn it off, and then still leaving it on and getting hysterical because he didn't know how to turn it off.  And also Sir Harry of Posh being generally very posh indeed.  They had to sell flowers, a task which James was terrified off, since flowers are for girls and he's a proper man and therefore couldn't be expected to touch them.  But apart from one of the arrangements for a wedding or some other important function Lord Sugar had laid on (he needs to stop going round lying on things, heh heh) being a bit on the small side, they generally did fairly well for a bunch of 16 year olds who've never done flower arranging before.

So that was disappointing.

A girl called Hannah got fired.  It is possible she had been specially drafted in for the firing, as I'm pretty sure she hadn't appeared up till then.

Onto week 4, and they were summonsed to a museum because (wait for it) the task is all about old people (specifically, the over-50s), and museums are full of old things, like people over 50.  Glorious.  A few weeks ago we had casual racism; now we're targetting the elderly (and not even elderly, since they're only over 50).

It's the one where they see some naff inventions and then flog them at a trade show; in this case, a trade show for people who are over 50.  Which is weird.  I didn't know those existed.  Did you know those existed?

Haya gets put in charge of her team (Sir Harry of Posh, Lewis and a blonde girl) because she spends lots o' time wiv 'er gran; James gets put in charge of the other lot (the other Harry, Gbemi, girl with red hair and the other blonde girl) because he says so.

As ever, the inventions are a heap of toot: an electric pie maker, a posh shopping trolley, a bird box camera, a really really sucky vacuum cleaner, a cushion which you can sit on AND put behind your head, and an inflatable thing you can bath your dog in.  Like a paddling pool, but smaller and therefore less useful.

James' strategy is to be really really really enthusiastic about everything they're shown, even if it's a device to recycle human bones into a handy drinks dispenser.  Lewis, on the other hand, goes down the route of burbling incoherently at the shopping trolley guy while Haya tries to figure out if she can bump him off before Nick's eyebrows entirely leave his face and go into orbit.

So Haya and co end up flogging the pie maker and the bird box camera, and James' lot have the shopping trolley and the vacuum cleaner.

Their sales techniques leave a bit to be desired - Haya nabs an old woman and starts yelling "Let me introduce you to our pie maker!" (what?  "Old woman - meet Pie Maker; Pie Maker, meet old woman"?) while Lewis hollers "Don't be shy, come and try some pie!".  So the old people spend the morning eating the pies and not buying the pie maker, because why would you bother making yourself a pie when Lewis is going to stand there all day making them for you?  Their pricing is insane - they upped the price of the pie maker, because Haya thinks people should pay more for it.  Also, old people have a serious sense of entitlement when it comes to a discount, and that is exactly what Haya is not offering.

James, meanwhile, tries to talk another old woman into buying a shopping trolley for £125; when she politely mutters that she'll "come back later", James screams "You better not be lying!".  Poor not-posh Harry gets a lecture from an old lady on his sales technique, who thinks, basically, that he'd sell more if they were a bit cheaper, which you can't really argue with.

Sir Harry of Posh and the other blonde girl, meanwhile, are just randomly making up prices, and not even the same ones.  Sir Harry threatens customers that he'll put the price up later in the day; meanwhile blonde girl next to him is practically paying people to take them.

What senior citizens do not seem interested in, at all, is what the birds in their bird boxes are up to, so Sir Harry and blonde girl decide that instead of selling the bird box cameras directly, they'll flog them to the other traders and let them worry about getting money for them.  It's genius.  And it works.  Mainly because he lies like mad about how well they sold in the first place.

Back in the boardroom, James' lot win, and they get to go and see a guy doing magic on the London Eye.  Haya and co go off to Cafe Losers, where they drink tea and look miserable.  Especially Posh Harry, who has probably never been anywhere so working class in his life.  Back to the boardroom, where they argue a bit about the relative merits of cushions and bird box cameras, and Haya brings back Lewis and the blonde girl.

Haya says she brought Lewis back in because he talked bubbles; Lewis then chips in to disagree, not with being brought back in, but with her reason for bringing him back.  As he points out, he didn't sell anything, so he should have been brought back in for that.  Eventually, though, they talk him round and he agrees that the talking bubbles thing was also true, so he talks about that for a while.  Unsurprisingly, he gets fired.  I think the nation agrees that it's for the best.

We love Lewis, though.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Some Things I Found On The Internet

Here are some things I found on the internet this week.

kimjongillookingatthings is a blog which shows Kim Jong-Il looking at things.  Actual genius.

Hyperbole and a Half is a blog you should all subscribe to.  NOW.  Go on.  I'll wait.  This particular post is all about depression, and is way better than anything else you will ever read on the subject.  Way better.  Also, on a vaguely similar note, this is very good.

I've recently discovered Relevant Magazine, which is a Christian magazine, but actually, like, quite good.  This week I liked this article, which is all about being a member of the local church, and sticking it out, and how people inevitably suck.  You should read it.

And I think that is all the things I found on the internet this week.

Young Apprentice 2011: Week 2

The Apprentice is starting to stretch our credulity to breaking point.  First, we're all pretending that Lewis is not just Rhys Rosser one year on, that Gbemi isn't Edna without gloves, and that James is not, in fact, the result of throwing Ben-who-didnt-go-to-Sandhurst, Stuart Baggs and Jedi Jim into a blender and then accidentally reanimating the whole darned mess.  And second, we're meant to believe that when the two teams come up with completely, entirely new, never-before-thought-of inventions, that Lord Sugar has a Big Machine out back that can make them overnight.

Anyway, this week's task was babies; specifically, passing them round the group and looking terrified (apart fromm Gbemi, who has a 9 year old sister and therefore is, like, a baby expert), and then inventing something to do with them that hasn't been done before and that people might buy.  Then it's the usual design it - make it - make a box to put it in - pitch it to retailers thing.

Lewis ends up in charge of the boys, if such a thing as being 'in charge' of this lot is really possible.  James and Sir Harry of Posh immediately start sniping and yelling and taking credit for every invention known to man.  Somehow, in the middle of this, someone (James or Sir Harry of Posh, according to each of them respectively, or someone else entirely, according to the rest of the planet) decides that what the world needs is a hippo-bottle-storage-insulaty-standy-upy thing.  It's basically a softish hippo, which the baby can play with, and then you rip its head off (the hippo's, not the baby's) and there's a bottle of milk in there, staying warm or cold or whatever temperature you put it in at, and the baby is all happy because even though its hippo is dead, it has a bottle.

Surprisingly, the boys have trouble settling on a unique selling point for this... unique... device, with Sir Harry of Posh thinking it's all about the hippo being familiar to the baby, and the rest of them thinking that maybe it's quite handy that it keeps the milk warm.  Not that it matters, because when they get to the pitches, wee Lewis is so nervous he can hardly get a word out, but then reliable Harry steps up for the final one and does very well.

Chez girls, Gbemi is in charge because of having a sister and all, and one of the generic blonde girls is all "Ooooh, design, how innovative that would be", and eventually they come up with a sort of sling thing that you put on your arm when you're holding a baby, and it supports the baby's head.  Which is not totally awful, but sounds a wee bit like a cushion.

Anyway, their big drama comes when they have to take photos for the box, and one of the generic blonde girls (possibly the same one as earlier, possibly not) casts a black mother and a white baby.  Chaos and hysterics ensue.  Because we all know that NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO PICK UP A BABY THAT'S NOT THE SAME EXACT COLOUR AS THEM.

At the pitches (which Gbemi insists on doing, thus adding further fuel to the "Edna in non-disguise (apart from not wearing gloves)" fire), the retailers' concerns are more basic.  "What does it do?" asks one of them, after several minutes of Gbemi telling them it's both washable AND handable, oh yes.  Mercifully, Gbemi lets the previously-unseen Haya do the final pitch, and she does it well.

In the boardroom, Nick and Karrrrren do that thing where they read out the results in the order that makes you think the team that has lost has actually won, and LO! the girls are victorious, and go off to Dance with Diversity, which they would have been a good tag line for their box image.

In Cafe Sombre, the boys are disconsolate, and I feel sorry for wee Lewis, because I quite like him.  They all blame each other, of course, so we needn't dwell on that, and then it's back to the boardroom to bicker there, and now Lewis has to choose his 2 fall guys.

He opts for Sir Harry of Posh, and Ben-who-seems-nice-but-hasn't-been-seen-much-but-is-now-wearing-a-bright-pink-shirt-presumably-in-a-bid-for-attention.  Unfortunately for Ben, this is the moment he chooses to open his mouth, and even more unfortunately, what he says when accused of not doing a lot is "I have a relaxed approach to working".  The nation facepalms.

So Ben gets fired, for not doing much, which seems unfair as he seems quite pleasant and possibly reasonably competent.  On the other hand, he wouldn't be great viewing, and basically that's our only requirement.