Monthly Archives: December 2009

No.39: Have a Short Holiday

…which is what theweemo is currently doing, hence a slight halt in postings. Blogging will begin again in a week with:

No. 40: Watch ‘Murder, She Wrote’

… around about the same time I start getting bored again.

Regards,
twm

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No.38: Make Your Own Christmas Presents

‘Waste time and save money? Show me the Sellotape!’ enthuses the flancer unfortunately for everyone they are considering giving a gift to this year. It was a flancer whom clearly invented the phrase ‘it’s the thought that counts’, stealthily insinuating it into the common belief system so that it would be the disappointed recipient of the shit, home-knitted doily who is the bad person – not the tight-arse that didn’t just buy them a £2 bottle of wine.

Like the Millennium Dome, hand-made christmas presents take ages to construct and tend to have no real purpose.   Aside from cluttering up the home of the recipient, who keeps the ‘frightening sculpture made of wood and covered with cut-out holly*’  fearing a deep and enduring guilt that plagues anyone who dares put a hand-made gift in the bin. 

Unfortunately, crafty presents made by anybody except really talented, arty types tend to be ugly and glittery and often sport inexplicable bobbles or tassels, like  something scraped from the bottom of an ageing transvestite’s make up bag.

However, from the flancer’s point of view, this present making lark is joy.  They are in their element, glueing and crocheting and weaving something from Santa’s reject bin of tat, listening to carols and swigging energetically from an £8 bottle of Lidl sherry.

They may – if you’re really unlucky –   decide to make their own cards as well. If a flancer gives you a Christmas card, best play it safe. Do not say, for instance:  ‘oooh! how public-spirited you are buying those charity cards by disabled people who paint with their feet!  I love groups of nuns – how christmassy!’ as the flancer probably spent five hours at it and meant it to be a group of penguins.

However, any hand-made thingy is better than a body lotion/shower gel/bathsalts and shower poouf set**  because nothing says: ‘You’re irrelevant to me’  like one of them.

TODAYS FOOTNOTES

*Or ‘Festive Wine Rack’ as the flancer would have it.

**These sets always  smell exactly the same –  like a scented candle from a pound-shop.  And every woman has at least three shower pooufs hanging over a tap somewhere in their home, which never seem to dry out and probably take four hundred years to biodegrade.

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No. 37:Cook Something Complicated

When flancers are busy with writing work, everything else in their lives goes to shit – particularly their diet. They don’t eat anything between paragraphs, other than food items prepared so that the only pre-consumption necessity is ripping off the packaging.  Anything goes – even meat peppered with blue hairy spots.

However, when the work dries up, flancers will spend their day at the other end of the comestible scale and fill their day with culinary complexity.  Think: making choux pastry (from scratch), venison souffles, pasta stuffed with soaked truffles, battered tongue, soda bread and their own cheeses.

Curries are massively popular with bored flancers because some of the more epic recipes take DAYS to prep, and come furnished with the added bonus that in order to collect every single obscure indian spice required, one must either  (a) visit the Indian supermarket (doubtless  situated on an industrial estate halfway to the moon.  Affording yet more delicious time-wasting). Or (b) visit India itself, to which the flight alone will waste an average of 22 hours.

Bread-making is another favourite, despite the fact that anyone who tries to make homemade bread ALWAYS ends up with something textually reminiscent of an over-sized, wheat-based Satanic Ferrero Rocher: ie crusty and hard on the outside, goopy in the middle and another mysterious, rock-hard lump in the centre that tastes of earth.

Yet the flancer will persevere with and attend to the loaf at every stage of its development like a first-time mum in her late thirties that’s been trying to conceive for the last eight years.  No-one will be allowed to touch the loaf or get involved with caring for it. The flancer may tearfully ring their mother for tips, at their wits end trying to work out what they should be doing to make the loaf a success (‘it looks so easy before you start!’).  Their partner will feel sidelined, possibly seeking relationship solace elsewhere. Any loaf deformities uncovered in the baking process will only cause the flancer to love the loaf more.

When not hyper-parenting their organic  kibbled rye plait, they will be lording it over their employed less-domestically inclined colleagues and forcing Tupperware filled with oat muffins, lentil dhal and beetroot and apple soup upon them.

If you happen to live with a flancer (you poor bastard), at least their workless weeks promise regular gastronomic experiences of Heston Blumenthal proportions. It may even result in your coming home to find a medieval banquet-style supper awaiting you – complete with stuffed swan – to say sorry for walking in on you in the bath to turn over the gorgonzola  ‘resting’ on the shelf above the medicine cabinet.

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No.36: Alphabetise Stuff

Putting things in alphabetical order has been popular with the epically bored and  anally-retentive since the beginning of time – not that I’m for one instant obliquely suggesting that flancers are job-shy and of questionable mental stability.

Alright,  I am.  But the premise that ordering ‘stuff’ is a symbolic microcosm of a person – unable to control the bigger, more important aspects of their own existence – attempting to access some kind of temporary spiritual relief via the control of pointless minutiae, isn’t just a psychologically relevant point. Oh, no. It is also  a wanky-sounding, convoluted sentence as well.

It is a little known fact that LP records, books and DVDs were invented simply to occupy the unsatisfied glut of bored flancers itching to arrange some tawdry possessions.  

It is also interesting to note that any flancer that has spent the best part of a month ordering their crap will always put it down to a much more inflated, less embarrassing reason than ‘because I had no work’. 

Instead, they’ll casually claim to be doing it because  it bore the sort of pressing urgency usually reserved for needing a poo half-way though a lengthy work presentation or an emergency kidney transplant.  As opposed to the real reason, which is: needing to feel back in the saddle of a life that had bucked them off into the  muddy puddle of jobless, pointless doom.

Best not voice this though – it may break the flancer emotionally.

Flancers, given enough lee-way, will end up alphabetising anything. Including the letters of the word ‘lee-way’ if physical objects are scarce.  Flancers will un-self consciously order their own shoes, the herb rack, the drinks cabinet and members of their own family in a sweating, twitchy fashion.  Often whilst rubbing at their own forehead like a Hollywood depiction of somebody autistic.

Rabid flancer: ‘No BOB!!! You CANNOT sit next to Keith! You have to sit between Anna and CLIVE!!

Unsuspecting family member: ‘Why?’

Rabid flancer: ‘BECAUSE!!!!!!!!!’ * [spirals off into a vexing fit of rocking and forehead rubbing]

Alphabetising after a strong cup of coffee is known as ‘Extreme Alphabetising’ and should only be attempted by experienced flancers. This dangerous practice consists of placing one’s chosen objects  in alphabetical order at tremendous velocity under the influence of caffeine whilst wearing a crash helmet. Anyone who gets in the way of the flancer deep  in the midst of extreme alphabetising risks suffering the same mangled fate as a finger placed in a  high-speed electric  blender.

If you know a bored flancer, never invite them over to eat Alphabetti Spaghetti as things can get quite tomatoey quite quickly.

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No.35: Try and See The Good Side of Everything for a Bit

When you’re jobless, bored and glum, attempting to see the deeper meaning in your money/sex/work/point-less  existence can provide the necessary buffer between you and suicide – or worse: going for a job as a telesales person.

Getting existential allows the flancer mind (exhausted from thinking up reasons why you – the flancer – are fundamentally a waste of good amino acid chains) to take a well-earned sabbatical  from the sort of self-pity that would have a Samaritan frantically  mouthing – ‘TELL. HER. I’M. OUT.’ across the desk to their colleague who picked up your call without thinking.   Now, it can direct its flagging energies into forming esoteric reasons as to why you haven’t been commissioned since the invention of the telephone.

‘I have no work,’ smiles the flancer from his/her place of spiritual connection (the armchair in front of CSI:NY) ‘because the universe is preparing me for something more significant.’

What this ‘significant’ thing  might be, tends to remain unspecified, as God hates to spoil one’s roll by appearing in a dream pointing his large finger at a dole queue.  He will generally refrain from getting too involved, preferring to graciously leave such things to the flancer’s happy imaginings, in order to retain his position as the all-loving, all-giving Holy Spirit. A sort of Barak Obama of the heavens, if you will.

After this epiphany, the flancer will start (irritatingly) seeing every event as an indicator that popular recognition and financial abundance awaits them around every letter from the bank demanding they come in for a serious talking to.

In some ways this is good: the flancer will stop moping about and maybe even wash their tracksuit bottoms. And in some ways it is very bad: they will give the nice lady at Natwest bank the finger, safe in the assumption that – overdraft be hanged! – the Universe is on their side (and looks a bit  like Liam Neeson in Batman Begins) and it’s all going to turn out perfectly within 48-hours.

Fortunately, this breed of uncharacteristic rampant positivity generally only lasts about 48 hours anyway and so when Natwest send a really nasty letter threatening court action, the flancer doesn’t feel let down by anyone in any way whatsoever – be it the Universe or Liam Neeson.

However, if this is happening to a flancer you know and their positivity lasts longer than 48-hours, seek medical help. Because when  they suddenly start seeing the face of Mary Magdalene in their Marmite on toast, they are generally only a phone call away from becoming a Mormon.

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No.34: Try and Find A Bank Card That’ll be Accepted at The Supermarket

Flancers have two life dreams: (1) to be published. And (2) that the first card they pull out to pay for anything will actually work. Not especially in that order.

Non-flancer-writey people seem to have this gargantuan misconception that people who freelance make enormous mountains of money.  So mountainous in fact, that they probably also believe that the flancer regularly empties it onto the bed and rolls around in it in a gold bikini drinking Champagne from a unicorn’s hoof.

This may in part be due to Carrie (Bradshaw, the cake-deficient designer-draped mammal. Not the blood-soaked, telekinetic Stephen King one) or any other Hollywood cinematic flancer character  flouncing out of C. Dior with an elbow full of designer truck, jumping in a cab to go home and poke at a brand new ibook for five minutes.

In reality?  Carrie would be a potty-mouthed cynic, sweating out Nescafe, dropping crumbs from a Nutella and bacon sandwich all over a vintage Dell that takes forty-five minutes to fire up (see post.27).   Her biggest daily concern would be whether to bother washing her filthy hair as she’s unlikely to go out for at least another two days.* She would only wear Jimmy Choo footwear if he did slippers.

When I bemoan the echoing chasm of doom that is my monetary fund, my friends make this sort of ‘pffft!’ noise adding, ‘but you’re a writer!  You lot are loaded!’ Granted, most days I resemble the millionaire, Sir B. Geldof.   But I am willing to bet that he doesn’t stand at the cash point on the verge of tears every other day or get that vomity feeling when he hands over his card in Tescos for a shop of tampons and milk  totaling a mere £3.75.

Warning: A distressing reconstruction follows.

If you have never stood behind a flancer in a supermarket who is suffering from a nasty case of skint, here’s what usually happens: the nice till lady will look at the flancer with motherly pity** and convey the news with funeral directorly regret that the card hasn’t been accepted. The flancer will look aghast and, shaking their head, will say something like ‘oh! That’s funny, there’s plenty of money in there.***’ 

(As if the other customers care. They just want the poor person in the pyjama bottoms and Primark Ugg boots to get a frikkin’ move on as they have casseroles to get home and put on.)

There will be lots of sighing and huffing from the flancer, who will pull out another card and hand it over in desperation like an under-qualified magician fluffing valiantly though a failing trick.  To which the nice till lady will shake her head like a surgeon conveying news of a death to a family waiting anxiously in A&E.

Having only a Blockbuster Membership card left (which is only to be handed over in the event of full-mental breakdown) the Emergency Credit Card comes out.  It was signed up  for  in order to deal with serious emergencies – i.e. needing to fly out of Columbia if a war starts or something when you’re travelling.  But it is regularly used for other emergencies like, buying milk or Christmas party shoes.  

The Emergency Credit Card works, their gut relaxes and the flancer slinks away, red-faced clutching their booty of Nutella and smoked back. Which has ironically just cost them £126.78 after bank charges.

In the car park, the flancer resolves to go and give the bank a piece of their mind for this gross mistake and their subsequent embarrassment. They storm to Natwest, print out a mini statement and suddenly  realise that their complaint is as valid as Ratner shares.

They decide to go and buy themselves a coffee with their Blockbuster Membership card as consolation.

 TODAY’S FOOTNOTES:

*This could just be me. Apologies to any hygienic flancers reading.

**regional supermarkets only. If you live in a big city they just look at you with scorn. They may even laugh in your face like a panto baddy.

***IE. twenty pounds left of the overdraft.

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No.33: Wonder, ‘Am I Actually Any Good?’

Herein madness lies.

For normal people, whether or not you are any good at what you do for a living is evaluated via sensible and appropriate indicators: your boss calling you an incompetent twit, being handed your P45 with one hand and receiving ‘The Bird’ with the other, coming in to find your stuff in a burning pile and another person at your desk.  These all generally point at ‘no, you are not very good’. 

Whereas, pats on the back, standing ovations when you use a stapler, pay rises and having tasteful rosettes that say ‘Most Good Employee of The Month*’ bestowed upon you are deemed a definite positive.

In short, workplace -based experiences lead to workplace-based judgements as to one’s skill. This makes sense and tends to encourage a certain level of mental balance within an employee.

Alas, when you are a work-alone flancer, your ability to judge your personal  level of  talent becomes enmeshed with an array of oddities.

These include: blood sugar, the weather, not being able to fit a hooverbag, running out of salt, pulling a hole in your tights as you put them on, snagging your sleeve on a door handle as you rush from one room to another, etc.  All of these things can crush the flancer spirit, and – because flancers are emotionally wired like a radio that has been dropped and put back together by a laboratory beagle – this will result in them fully believing that they contain less talent than a Norfolk beauty contest.  This is compounded by the fact that there are generally no other human beings around to stop them careering off down the lane to Paranoidsville (via the picturesque hamlet of Self-Hate-on-the-Wold)

 Indeed, a flancer’s confidence – if plotted upon a graph – would look like the heart rate monitor of somebody negotiating a minefield on a pogo stick.

Flancers  regularly experience what is known as CABS: Crash and Burn Syndrome. It can happen in minutes. And this is how it happens:

Flancer feels confident first thing in the morning (I am very good at what I do!), starts writing something (I’m still quite good at what I do!), reads something by a respected writer on their coffee break (I am not as good at what I do as this person…) re-reads their own work  (This doesn’t convince anyone that I’m good at what I do), the coffee kicks in (I’MGOODI’MGOODI’MGOODISHOUDLREALLYCLEANTHEBATHROOMAGAIN) they send the work to someone, (I wish I hadn’t. Clearly I am not very good at what I do) and receive no reply (confirmed: I suck hole.)

Thus, for a flancer to believe that they are a fantastic writer is to do absolutely no writing at all.

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES:

*If this regularly happens, you either work in a playgroup, cutting-edge advertising agency or Rosette and Trophy manufacturing company filled with bored Flancers.

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No.32: ‘Improvise’ A Cup of Tea

There comes a time in a flancer’s life when they will be called upon to make a cup of tea for someone who has dropped by unexpectedly.

This person will be a telephone technician/plumber/meter reader – i.e. a professional tea drinker.  A person for whom drinking tea is such a massive adjunct to their day job that they sure as shit know a crap cup of tea when it’s served to them by a flancer in sweatpants who looks like they have only just got up. Because they have only just got up.

The flancer – due to sustained lack of company – will lavish disturbing levels of attention on the visitor until they leave the house feeling quite soiled.  As part of this effusive attention, the flancer will eagerly proffer a cup of tea. Before realising with sinking horror en route to the kettle, that they haven’t been to Tesco for nigh-on a fortnight. As the visitor wanders off in search of the internet/plumbing/dry-rot problem in another room, the flancer stands vexed as the kettle boils realising that some serious tea-ingredient improvising is in order.

The hunt begins.

 At the back of the cupboard they unearth a chicken and noodle Cup-a-Soup which will never make a convincing brew – even if  they pick the noodles out. More hunting and a packet of loose-leaf Earl Grey is secured (because everyone has a box of loose-leaf Earl Grey knocking about, because no bugger drinks it.) Unfortunately, they have nothing in which to put the leaves and so they improvise with a coffee filter and paper. The tea duly arrives in the cup thinner than a super model with a wired jaw  so the flancer has to either (a) filter more hot water though another eighteen tablespoons of the stuff. Which will take up to four hours.  Or (b) stir in some Marmite to make the colour look right.

After this fiasco comes the milk episode. Flancers never have milk and if they do, there will only about half a centimetre left in the carton* and if there is more than that, it will be ‘off’. This is Universal Milk Law. The flancer seeks out powdered milk. They have none because no one has bought powdered milk since the war. They have soya milk but daren’t add it because it tastes of filtered laminate flooring.  More scrabbling reveals a can of condensed milk. Saved!

There will be no sugar either (of course) and after a failed attempt to grind up the contents of a jar of silver ball cake decorations in a pestle and mortar, the flancer remembers that there is something far preferable available. In goes  two teaspoons of icing sugar which floats on the top like unattractive pond scum.

The Cocktail of Satan is served. But being a professional tea drinker, the visitor will hand back an empty mug with hearty thanks.

A week  later, your favourite pot plant will die horribly, a strange-looking icing-sugar-esque residue covering its topsoil.

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES: 

*Why anyone ever leaves this ineffectual amount in the carton  is a mystery to even the greatest minds of the Twenty First century.
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No.31: Pitch To Someone Totally Random

You’ve run out of money. You have just received a final written warning from the local swimming baths for yet again attempting to pass off a car-wash token as a pound in their coffee vending machine.  Your confidence is so low, you believe that a piece of over-ripe fruit could write a better piece of editorial than you ever could. Plus, your inability to generate gainful employment obviously comes with the associated assumptions of the paranoid, out-of-work-creative, namely: your parents never wanted you, the sexually active world-at-large has placed an international  embargo your under-organs, your hair never lays flat and you daren’t search Facebook because you know that there will be a group entitled: ‘HateThis Flancer’ [accompanied by your picture].  All your exes/employers/family members will have joined it, as will the woman from downstairs whom you’ve only met once.

And so, you pitch to the Magazine You Have no Business pitching to.

This blog post, I might add, is NOT in any way borne of a belief that one publication is better than another. The point is this: flancers sometimes get so desperate to work/earn they will step out of their area of expertise and brazenly venture into the publicational Hinterland of the niche magazine: Quantum Physics Bulletin, Neuro-Surgeon’s World or  Miniature China Animals Gazette.

IE into magazine-flavoured waters they know precisely jack shat about.

‘Well, I’ve seen a miniature china animal,’ protests the delusionally desperate flancer, as they eat all that there is left in the house  (a packet of biscuits as old as Terry Wogan) to maintain energy levels, thanks to the bastards at the swimming baths having curtailed the illicit coffee supply.  And decide that they will simply re-market their total and utter  inexperience of animals, small, china or otherwise as ‘a new spin from an outsider!’ 

They will then plough all of their creative frustration into eight or maybe nine of the worst ideas ever come up with by anybody in the history of the planet (including the people who make air-freshener adverts) and send them off, rubbing their hands together at their cunning. ‘No other flancers will be doing this and I will have the monopoly!’ they cackle, like an inmate of a rubber-walled hospital for the utterly idiotic. 

Unsurprisingly, their genius feature idea for ‘clever verbal negotiating tactics for securing a knock-down bargain price from a wiley miniature pottery animal vendor!’ (cunning re titled: ‘Bull in a China Shop’) is just not the MCAG features desk’s sort of thing. Having now been rejected by MCAG, the flancer momentarily considers The Official Gazette of the Slovenian Society for Sautéed Potatoes and Onions* before getting a grip and taking a week off.

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES:

*An actual real-life publication. If you have submitted to this magazine I would be delighted to hear from you.

 

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