Tag Archives: Facebook

No.53: Go Slightly Mental

You know, like that time where you’re sobbing so hard, spittle is dripping out of the sides of your mouth simply because you opened the cupboard above the sink a little too quickly and it bumped you on the head…. and that act of gross clumsiness reminded you that your life is worthless and that you have no talent or else why would you be sat here drooling onto your dressing gown rather than sat at your keyboard tapping out something for the Times, eh?  This prompts you to email all the people you’ve never really liked and tell them exactly why. And all the feature editors that never bothered (the BASTARDS) to even email you back a ‘thanks but eff off’ after you’d repeatedly sent them your best pitches.  Then you change your mind and don’t send them which makes you bitter AND spineless.  Then you go on Facebook and delete all the smug employed/married/”still-good-looking-despite-now-being thirty-and-ooh-don’t-they-know-it-from-their-posed-FB-picture”  people you know and maybe even go through your mobile phone and bin everyone who you haven’t spoken to in a month. And then you have another cry as your mobile phone book is now empty.  And perhaps you’ll even tackle the bank, who decided to shave a chunk off your overdraft without telling you and now you have to pay £69 in charges. I’ll teach them, etc…until they tell you that, no, they sent you a letter to inform you that they were going to shaft you for nigh-on seventy quid’s worth of spurious fees and promptly charge you another tenner for the administration cost of dealing with your phone call. Then, you eat everything you can find, whilst playing The Prodigy really, really loudly. And you wonder what would happen if you  just, you know, sacked it all off and buggered off to America – no, wait – INDIA, where you could find yourself and NatWest couldn’t. Then you might even contract Malaria *take a small moment to imagine your funeral and spend at least quarter of an hour choosing the playlist* and everyone that never called me or hired me will be sorry….then go and get in your car to drive somewhere ANYWHERE away from here and then give up on that plan and sit crying again with your head on the wheel because at the moment you are virtually a character from a Mike Leigh play and because your needle has been on red for the last week and a half and besides you’ll probably only drive to Tesco and bulk-purchase cream horns…perhaps then you go and stare at yourself in the mirror and decide that you’re getting old as well and who would ever want you…then wash-up and tidy-up and vacuum-up like a maniac, at which point you will catch yourself on the ankle with the vacuum cleaner and collapse into a pile of honking self-pity…then eat some more toast, try on everything in your wardrobe and decide you’re also getting a bit chubby (as well as old) before wanting a nap but feeling guilty about it (see post no. 49)

And then you look at the clock and see that it’s only 09.12 am.*

This might all just be me.


*Today’s post was sponsored by James Joyce.

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Facebook is a truly terrifying*, time-bending, Faerie land-like phenomenon.

No, it is.

Back in Medieval times if a hapless knight wandered into the realm of Faerie (stick with me, readers) he would have a jolly-old time, surrounded by laughing, smiling faces he vaguely recognised, dancing in a circle to Pentangle, drinking mead from a hollowed out hogshead or similarly Medieval recepticle … and believe that he had only been dallying in this bountiful realm for a day or so.   Then he would find the way out and realise that he had been gone for twenty-five years.

 I think you know where I am going with this analogy.

But it’s ok. FB presents a number of pluses for the meaningless existence of the flancer, benefits quite willingly paid for with foetid breath and chairseat induced arse-canker. And  – oh my! – even appears to make their lot a happier one than that of the working drone.

Let us investigate.

Number 1: Wasting twenty-five years without realising it is excellent progress on the flancer wasting time front.  Leading to a sense of  job satisfaction that presently eludes a massive percentage of the office- residing masses who doubtless regularly wish they were dead. 

Number 2: Taking an age to sum up your current mood in one, hilariously expressed super-sentence (aka: ‘CURRENT STATUS’) is something wordy flancers in particular deeply relish.. And it’s far more likely to establish you as a true skipful of wit when doing it alone with plenty of time and a delete button.  As opposed to being in a real-life office, where it is traditional – when someone enquires as to your well-being –  that you answer as immediately and as blandly as possible.   Making them stand there for forty five minutes whilst you try and construct a devastatingly impressive and mind-blowing comeback can mark you out as marginally eccentric. Even if you provide coffee and biscuits.  People actively avoid people like you, preferring conversations that are over almost instantly, from which they can emerge swiftly and the same age as when they went in.

Number 3: You get to create your own highly-polished, far more attractive version of ‘Who You Are’ on FB**.  And as a flancer, this version is much more easily manipulated and maintained than when you are working with other humans, which is when messy, unpredictable old reality can continually stick it’s bloody oar in.  Thus flancing+FB  renders your carefully constructed super-identity far more immune to discovery.  People in offices can blow their ID construct spectacularly easily at any time – after a bad morning meeting/a tequila riddled work party/ punching their line manager after a photocopying fracas.  FACT: being outside your home with others means you can never pretend you are a stone lighter than that profile photo makes you look.

Number 4: losing track of time at a computer is what people with real jobs in offices do all the time.  So don’t feel bad, flancer comrade – in this you are actually doing exactly the same thing you would be doing if you had a real job anyway… but you get to do it in your softest clothes, eating left over yorkshire pudding with Nutella on it. Ha!

                                                                   Flancers: 4       Working masses: 0


*Hence the title is written in caps. *shudder*

**Which, lets be honest is what it’s really for, right?

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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.


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


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No.30: Consider Organising Your Accounts

Every flancer has a brown A4 envelope under their bed. This envelope contains precisely 34,583 receipts. And its name is Depression.

Every year at around about April-ish, the flancer panics and considers running away to Aruba because the envelope calls (just before the accountant does. For the ninth time). Every year around about June-ish there is Olympic-Standard Procrastination. And every year around about September-ish there is lots of sobbing and entire boxes of wine drunk to try and stamp out the treacherous brain cells that insist on reminding you of what could happen if you do not sort your shit out.

Sometimes though, after a head-blow or some seriously A-Grade boredom, the flancer thinks, ‘ooh, I might just give next year’s accounts a preliminary tickle…’  A gallon of stomach-chewing coffee will be brewed and some Kendal Mint Cake eaten in order to fortify the flancer against the contents of The Envelope. ‘Rather start now and reduce the horror come May,’ thinks the flancer smugly, buffered by the escape-hatch-thought* that they can sack off this madness whenever they want because it’s only November.** Flancers, incidentally have and use so many escape-hatch-thoughts throughout the course of the working day that the thought-escape-hatch hinges are wafer-thin through constant deployment.

But the gaping flaw in this ‘plan’ is that flancers are  the most disorganised creatures ever to spring forth from the hands of the Lord.

Flancers are just not programmed to get things done in good time. In good time means: ‘before I suffer serious comeback for repeatedly putting this off.’ And so, whilst truly intending to begin ordering their accounts, the following scenario will occur: A Facebook status of ‘Am starting my accounts!’ will be posted in order to crow to other flancers that you are indeed a paragon of organisation.  This will then be Tweeted. The search for The Envelope will commence (cue small internal fanfare – or if like me you spend quite a lot of the day alone and thus talking to yourself – external fanfare)  but first you happen to unearth your cuts book. You will read your cuts book with a nostalgic half-smile, realise an hour has gone by and re-commence the search. You will then find a photo album of your student days and then a copy of Vogue from 1997, both of which will distract you for a further two hours.

You are now up to your nipples in dust bunnies and decide, hey – you may as well clean your room. Then, why stop there? Clean the house. Stop for a coffee. Hem some curtains. FB and Tweet something spitefully witty about H M Revenue & Customs.  Answer some emails. Maybe start knitting a bag to keep The Envelope in when you find it.

You then remember The Envelope and why you started looking for it.  You will also remember that The Envelope means sitting there, head in hands for hours thinking: ‘what the chuff did I spend £15.46 on in Argos on the fifteenth?’ Cue the silent workings of the extremely well-oiled escape-hatch-thought hinges.

And then the phone rings and interrupts you. It is your accountant on your case. Because it’s now actually April. 


*Escape-Hatch Thoughts: ‘I have plenty of time for this and will do it later.’ ‘This is totally good enough.’ ‘They will never know I made that up.’ ‘I deserve a break – hey, I might burn out if I’m not careful.’ ‘A long walk and a coffee is good to recharge creativity.’ ‘I think I’m ill.’

**Unless of course you decided to sack off this year’s dealings with your pushy accountant for online self assessment and are now seriously considering how ‘doable’ prison is rather than going anywhere near The Envelope.
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No.24: Fill In OnLine Questionnaires

‘Not-knowing’ causes the Homosapien brain massive problems. Bipedal primates loathe and fear the absence of answers.  This is why the losing team on University Challenge always says ‘Goodbye’ (when aggressively chided by the Paxman) as if they are going to their execution.  Answers are king. Not-knowing is the Anti-Christ.  Not-knowing is worry, misery and a condescending look from Jeremy from behind his big desk of ANSWERS. For example: think now about all the things you don’t know.  Scary shit, eh? 

Flancers in particular hate not-knowing, and – even worse – not knowing something another flancer does know.  This means  dropping a valuable point on the Fantasy Scoreboard of Gloat and One-UpManship. After Paxman’s U.C. desk, the internet is the ultimate great big answer machine, and so flancers love it and use it to gather pointless facts with which to win pub quizzes and to commandeer conversations so that no-one gets a chance to ask them if they’ve got much work on at the moment. 

As well as providing answers, the internet also presents the flancer with countless more things they don’t know. Specifically, things they don’t know about themselves – which it then politely offers to help them discover the answers to via the form of an Online Questionnaire. All flancers adore Online Questionnaires because (a) flancers are action-packed with ego and (b) it’s blatant time-wasting tarted-up as ‘Internet Research*’

I have, in the last 24-hours discovered: How Old I Am Really (43. Disappointingly.) How Old I Will Be When I Become a Millionaire (84. Not taking into account inflation.) What Sex My Brain Is (Female, I am told. But I don’t know what this means. I will have to research it online.) Am I Tone Deaf? (pardon?) Am I Funny? (No. See previous answer) Would I Make a Good Dad? (No. Having bombed after Question 1: ‘are you male?’) And finally, my personal favourite: Which Level of Dante’s Hell am I Due For? (Level 8, apparently. I can look forward to being eternally whipped by horned demons. Questions to uncover this essential piece of information included: ‘Is a pimp is a good thing to be?’ And  ‘Some people just deserve to die: True or False?’  I spent the next thirty minutes after filing my responses waiting for  MI6 to come crashing through my windows.

Arguably, a better sort of Online Questionnaire would be: ‘Where is Your Next PayCheck Coming From?   but I have distracted myself from this by the Which Muppet Are You? quiz.  To which, doubtless, most people I know think they possess the answer already.


*Internet Research can also include: finding exes’ wedding photos/crafting an hilarious status update on FB, Googling ‘dogs in hats’, downloading River Cottage Autumn, looking for recipes that include instant coffee and Weetabix, organising your coffee schedule for the week by email and filling up shopping carts at an array of online stores but not taking them to checkout.

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No. 16: Twitter

Oddly addictive, bizarrely pointless – no, not Jedward – but Twitter AKA: ‘Inescapable sentences from my dull life.’  It is the mysterious site upon which not just bored, ego-fuelled flancers can inflict the aforementioned upon the eye-owning world at large but any old boring git in possession of hands and a keyboard.  Social Networking has plucked many a flancer away from the precipice of alcoholism and depression (and arguably has driven many to it, if they have erroneously FBe-friended someone from a murky past that insists on constantly informing them ‘What Sort of Fluffy Toy They Are’  and relentlessly demanding that they do the same.  SOD. OFF.) 

We get it, of course: Social Networking is a reality that we can  merrily hack and slash like some kind of virtual plastic surgery of our lives so that we look prettier and sound wittier (or have more work) than we actually do in good old (real) life.  Everyone spends at least 20 minutes of their day editing and re-editing their ‘status update’ with more care and attention to detail that a sub with OCD, so that its hilarity and adroitness will make people fancy them*. 20 minutes.  That’s longer than most of us spend on personal hygiene.

Given this, Twitter (which is effectively  ‘status updates’ without the Facebook) still doesn’t make sense and I must be the only flancer in living, workless memory that doesn’t get why**. I experimented with it, thinking that perhaps, like The Wire, you had to persevere with it for a while before it all became clear and you wet yourself on numerous occasions, so engrossed you were that your body permanently gave up trying to alert you to its fundamental processes.  Six months on: blank drawn. 

As previously pointed out on TTDIFWYB***, flancers try not to reveal the extent of their social networking for fear that everyone will find out that they don’t do anything all day. Twitter makes discovery even more inevitable yet astonishingly, they still embrace it with open, er…fingers.  Arguably, the inherent vanity of the flancer (or any human being actually) means that they can’t help wanting to announce every single pointless thing they do, textually parading  everything from the ego-fuelled perceived impressive (‘did telephone interview with Stacey from X Factor!’ ) to the actually definitely un-impressive (‘best breakfast ever’****) to the obliquely unnerving (‘Fanny caught Potsy by surprise. BIG DEATH APPROACHES!’)

For me, FB still romps home with Gold in the great Big Procrastination Olympics.  But I make sure there’s at least 3 hours between every entry so I don’t look utterly sad and workless.


*Go on, deny it. Surely this is the point of Social Networking?

**shamelessly promoting a blog, aside.

***The ultimate anti-acronym: ie. it takes as long to type as the actual title in full. 

****Actual Tweet. From Stephen Fry, from whom we expect bigger things than this.

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No.13: Google your Illnesses

Irrational fear over new and unusual lumps/rashes/coughs/tongue patterning is a common affliction for the work-from-home flancer. And what a stroke of luck it is that the World Wide Web is sitting there in front of us, 24/7 so that we may enjoy full, unlimited access to the sort of information that can turn gentle puzzlement into paranoia and terror of epic proportions within seconds*. Combine that with a caffeine to blood ratio of 78-22 and only a <Gray’s Anatomy> box set for company and voila! it’s highly likely you have 13 days to live.

Googling one’s ailments is a double-edged sword. One massive plus is that it saves you from having to do any work  – but it ALSO omits the need for a visit to a GP.  Now, to all of you that have inhaled sharply at the notion that anyone in their right mind would choose www.haveyougotlurg.com over a bona fide health consultant, it is suggested that you go and hang out with some student doctors quite soon.  If you had ever had this dubious pleasure you would realise that placing yourself in any GP’s  hands is an almighty gamble – especially if you’re having your appendix popped out by the doctor who – the night before his Appendix Removal Class at college – likely sunk fifteen pints of gin at All Bar One.  Indeed, those very hands which are taking your temperature today were, only a few years ago, shaky, DT-ridden mitts, trying desperately to clutch at a scalpel and dreaming of a lunchtime pint.

Food for thought indeed.

 Saying that, online health info is about a million times more scaremongeringly evil than a GP who, despite possibly having spent a lot of his university life trying to climb onto the roof  of the Ents office whilst dressed in a sequinned mini-dress and wig would rarely – if ever – hoike out technicolour photographs of a gigantic weeping sore, explaining in a cold detatched manner that this is how your unidentifiable spot could look within weeks.  Online doctoring also loves a bit of worst-case-scenario. Google ‘Headache’ and you will find out everything you need to know about brain stem tumours. Google ‘Rash’ and ringworm will haunt your dreams. Google ‘Dizziness’ and The Brain and Spine Organisation of Hull will present you with a questionnaire to discover whether or not you will lose the use of your limbs within the next 48 hours. (Probably)

And so if you happen to stumble across a flancer gazing in dread at a laptop screen you can make an educated guess that they have  just Googled ‘Mole’** and are now looking at a page full of words like : ‘spread’, ‘malignant’ and ‘nodular’ and other unpronounceable horrors that look like the Countdown Conundrum before it’s solved***.

But at least it stops you worrying about your overdraft for a bit.


*depending on whether or not you have Broadband.

**NEVER google this word.

**Either that or they’ve just FB-ed an old boy/girlfriend and  are looking at their wedding photos.

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