Monthly Archives: January 2010

No.44:Read Magazines

If you have ever flanced, the act of reading magazines for pleasure is cruelly snatched away and replaced with bitter misery.

You’re slightly sickened by the sight of what’s in front of you, but cannot tear your eyes away – like seeing really badly applied highlights. Reading a magazine to which you have not contributed is a curious, horribly addictive and depressive practice that makes the flancer feel subhuman and guilty.  In this sense it is very similar to stuffing thick slices of discount Cheddar cheese smothered with Ezysqueeze mayonnaise into your face before you collapse in a weeping heap of dairy.

First; the feverish scanning of the gutter, terrified that you might discover that the sniffy, bone-idle workie who used to make you coffee that tasted as if it had been filtered through a roadie’s sock,  is now, apparently features editor.

Then comes the absolute conviction that the magazine has seemingly ‘stolen’ an idea that you sent them (in 1986) and got someone else cheaper and (obviously less skilled) to write it. Just to spite you, the flancer. You seethe. Perhaps you swear at the saucepan rack. Perhaps you write an email pulsing with vitriol and hate – smearing the keys with cheesy mayonnaise as you go.

 And then you delete it when your reason returns from its short holiday, leaving you vibrating with an unexpressed frustration that shrivels your very kidneys. You seek out more cheese.

Then!! Betrayal above all betrayals!! You spot a byline… and it’s one of your flancer friends, who swore she was as jobless as you! And she has two – TWO! – pieces in said magazine.

The betrayal bites deep and you will hold onto it for at least 7 months. She may as well have murdered your mother.  You don’t – of course – avail her of your feelings but simply but make all future interactions slightly chilly. You will meet her for coffee, but she is essentially dead to you.

At least this sort of extensive emotional session can waste many beautiful hours. Arguably, those hours would have been better spent coming up with new ideas to send to said magazine.

But anyway, their content has really gone downhill lately.  And Murder She Wrote has just started.

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No.43: Consider Drinking Before 11am

Flancers have a nervous relationship with alcohol because flancers know that all their friends assume they are a closet boozer anyway.

Of course they do.   Loved-ones look at this person they know, who never has any money, with filthy hair, who eats odd things in sandwiches, who has sod all to do during the daylight hours and often shouts at strangers in the supermarket.

 And thus, putting two and two together they  get ‘raging alcoholic.’

People other than us cannot understand that we flancers generally operate on ‘Flancer Time’,  which, as pointed out in previous posts does not correlate with normal life. And associated hazards can, it’s true, result in alcoholic beverages being knocked back at hours that at best seem anti-social and at worse seem depraved.

 Living in Flancer-Time leads one to do any number of anti-social things, like clean floor tiles at midnight, drink coffee at 2am, maybe even carry out an interview in the kitchen at a birthday party at 11.35pm.  Because it’s an interview with someone in America and you couldn’t turn it down because it’s the first job you’ve had in five months.

As such,  the old internal clock gets somewhat dysfunctional.

And besides, we flancers quite enjoy shouting questions at a relationship experts at 11.35pm from atop a washing machine, with a finger in one ear to block out the carousing, trying not to put the notepad in a puddle of Tequila.

In conclusion, it is unavoidable that at some point, a flancer feels like a glass of wine or perhaps a half pint of Malibu at a time deemed socially unacceptable. 

 Oh, there will be guilt. But it all depends how you look at it, see? If you were up at 4am wondering if you’d ever work again before you die, you, the flancer,  have effectively been up for 8 hours. Which, if you’d risen at nine am would make the time 4pm.

Which a perfectly acceptable, non-alcoholic abuser  time to have a drink.

No.42: Cut your Own Hair

Cutting your own hair is an act of supreme risk, rivalling that of poking an angry tiger with a stick after being smeared in antelope meat or showering with a toaster. In this last instance, the coiffeurial result may often be the same.

For flancers of the male persuasion, the risk is somewhat less, as most ‘trendy’ gentleman these days like to wear their hair as if it has been cut with a knife and fork by a blind, thumbless imbecile anyway.

For the ladies however, very bad things can happen to their head, when, in the midst of Murder She Wrote (see post.40) they  decide that they can no longer stare at Jessica Fletcher’s nasty brooches and decide to distract themselves by investigating their split ends.  

The search for a cutting implement begins with a poke about for some very sharp scissors.  And often ends with the scissors being liberated from the sewing kit out of christmas cracker.

It starts with an innocent fringe trim. After an initially promising start the flancer will attempt to emulate the professional finger motions seen used by the likes of professional hair-changers and end up looking like Dave Hill from Slade:

Or Mr. Spock:

Alternatively, the flancer will start on the back. And after a few minutes trying to work out the angles, taking into the account that they are working backwards in a mirror with scissors from a christmas cracker sewing-kit, they will eventually resemble a young Paul Weller:

In real boredom-filled moments, the flancer will attempt something more ‘creative’ and end up with the exact same head furniture as that seen perched upon an Eighties teenager in their passport photo:

A colleague will enquire: ‘um…did you cut your own hair?’ and a hat will promptly be bought and worn for sixteen weeks.

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No.41: Read Junk Mail

Junk mail was invented for people to move from their doormat, to the place where the phone lives, to their coffee table/kitchen table where it will still be found two years later.

For some bizarre reason it never makes it into the recycling. Perhaps only God knows the answer to this.  But even he might have to ask Jeremy Paxman.

People just tend to keep hold of it, despite a professed loathing for its unimaginative content, inanity, and desire to sell you large plastic items you might find useful in the bedroom. It is much like the young gentleman’s publication Nuts in this respect.

Perhaps an unsettling fear exists that the instant they throw it away they will need to urgently discover how much a Y-Shaped, microfibre banister duster is. Or where they can get a leather and fabric corner sofa ‘at super-crazy-knock down prices.’

Of course, the answer to this second concern is DFS, as their sale began in the Late Elizabethan period and has been on ever since.

Flancers, though, end up reading junk mail, as it acts (the parallels with Nuts magazine now positively piling up) as a mildly distracting, brain-numbing agent.  Such literature is marvelously suitable for short periods of waiting accompanied by mild nerves ie: dentists waiting rooms, in the company of people you don’t wish to make eye contact with but it would be rude to outright ignore, and putting off something that you know you have to do but could result in deeper misery. Like pitching an idea or waiting to hear if you have work this week, say.

There is something innately comforting perhaps about staring at ugly items that you didn’t know were so cheap (at a risk of stretching the Nuts analogy to it’s limit).  Key junk mail topics tend to be: stationary/office items, furniture, revolutionary kitchenware (like insulated gravy boats and things that cut a cucumber to look like the Eiffel tower), different sorts of chairs for old people and fashion lines no one has heard of. All with an easily detachable strip or pre-addressed envelope for some reason or other.

There are however, joyfully kitsch junk mail moments that truly break the monotony for the flancer. For example, those Faux Faberge eggs on a 22-carat faux gold stand, that rotate, open and play All Things Bright and Beautiful upon which you can have the name of your ‘dead loved one’ etched on a faux silver plaque on the front.

Or a plate with a Weimaraner painted on it (‘a limited number of 200,000 ever produced.  Only fifteen payments of £35.99!’)

Junk mail’s one plus is that it gives flancers something other than their old portfolios to flick though and feel depressed about.

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No.40: Watch Murder, She Wrote

Bored Flancers LOVE Murder, She Wrote, despite the fact that finding yourself watching it has the same emotional resonances as  coming to your senses after bludgeoning someone irritating to death, blinded by red mist.  You never thought you were capable of sinking to such depths, but here you are, doing it without even realising, scarily looking forward to doing it again.

Even though MSW is a pedestrian, light-hearted series about a nice lady who catches nasty killers whist wearing a variety of large and unattractive brooches, as a TV programme it symbolises the very lowest levels of flancer self-loathing and worklessness. It’s jaunty theme tune is the clarion call to a life without purpose, Jessica Fletcher’s cheery busy-bodying a symbol of the mindlessness and frontal lobe deterioration brought on by this, the televisual equivalent of damp carpet. 

MSW has a strangely addictively quality, not unlike that of say, coffee, for example. Or smack. Except that MSW is harder to give up.

Perhaps it is because it is about writing that it appeals to highly so the flancer.

However, this is an overly- optimistic and unconvincing reason and the real truth is that watching MSW is a ritual of the elderly and the drop-out, reefer-sucking student, with whom flancers seem to share an alarming amount of common ground.

This love/hate realtionship is summed up most pertinently by the  perky theme tune, which both warms the cockles, inviting us to guiltily sink into the sofa with some hot, buttered toast and at the same time makes you feel like  throwing a puppy under an on-coming car.

Perhaps most upsetting is that Jessica Fletcher would never watch MSW, because unlike the flancer,  she’s too busy working on a novel that will actually *get* published.

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