So What is Facebook Like?

Facebook is like a hyperactive child pulling you this way and that, wanting your attention in a hundred different directions.  Facebook is like the nutter in the pub muttering about everything that’s wrong with the world and how it makes him feel. Or it’s like a friend who starts off being nice and saying how much she likes you and then gets all creepy when you have to leave and says if you care you’ll stay with her and share her life- or it’s a bunch of chuggers who grab your arm and say this is important! Your freedoms are threatened! Please sign and share!
Facebook is a pub where arguments get out of hand and people hit each other with words that hurt more than blows. I am sick of seeing abuse every time I log on. It hurts me to see the venom that lies so near to the surface.

True, there is a lot of inspirational stuff on there. A lot of exhortation to ignore the crowd and just be myself (whoever they think that is), plus pictures of amazing natural objects, freakish good deeds, astounding achievements.  But there’s too much of it, all the time. No one needs a hundred inspirational stories every day, you just can’t summon up the enthusiasm. It all ends by being wearing. You feel slightly guilty all the time because you have no energy left to care. So you can be tempted to post a status saying that you’ve had enough of inspirational memes but you don’t. Because you know it’ll just set off a whole nother debate about inspirational memes which will quickly degenerate into likes and dislikes and probably into yet more abuse.

Why did I stay so long? Because of the things I will miss: Chris Conway’s manic, leaf-catching selfies; chatting to my daughter; and above all feeling a sense of connection with people. I have tried to monitor my use to get the good stuff and ignore the worst. But it’s like cutting down on smoking.  In the end you’re just going to have to give up.
Kirk out


Filed under friends and family

Why I am off Facebook

I am depressed and dismayed by the amount of venom and hostility which abounds on Facebook, of how any debate is fast reduced to boo! and hurrah! words, how I am besieged by requests to pray for sick children or hunt for lost cats, how I am flooded with stories of pain and destruction or evidence of how the Bad Guys are screwing us over, and endless stories about Jeremy Corbyn, what he said or did or didn’t do or should have done, what the Sun said and what Angelina Jolie said about the Sun: satirical items on the above. Cartoons. Debates on whether satirical items or cartoons are the way to go: and, post-Paris, people changing their profile pictures to the tricolor and others saying they won’t change theirs because it’s not the way to go and the whole crazy spin-off about Islam and hatred of Islam and hatred of Islamophobia and on and on until you can’t hear yourself think.
I have kept going because of these:
Encouragement in times of loneliness. A touch from a friend. A smile. A joke. A shared experience. A conversation. The pleasure of helping someone.
But these are drowned out, overwhelmed by the rest as the traffic drowns out a sidewalk conversation.  And what is the effect on my life?
I find myself logging on to Facebook five or six times a day.  Maybe more: I haven’t checked. I become obsessed with whether people have commented on my posts or replied to my messages.  I get sucked into debates and click on things I don’t need to see.  And above all a particular world-view emerges, depressing, fearful, mistrustful, dismaying.
So I’m off now. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone – as long as I need to.   So if you want to comment make sure you do it on here and not on Facebook, otherwise I won’t see what you’ve written.
I’m going out now.  I may be some time…
Kirk out


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Je Suis Parisienne

Je ne sais pas quoi dire.  Il n’ya pas de mots.  Comme aurait dit le president Kennedy, ‘je suis parisien.’  Il y a un mot en anglais pour ces choses.  Le mot enormity signifie un evenement comme celui d’hier soir, un evenement qu’on ne peut pas comprendre, quelque-chose qui est difficile que l’on y meme pense.  L’evenement est trop grand, trop enorme pour se faire voir.

Ainsi sont les attaques a Paris.  Pourquoi?  Pourquoi?  Mais pourquoi?  Le question resonne, mais personne ne peut y repondre.

Parisiens, je vous salue.  Terroristes, vous ne gagnez jamais.  Et comme aurait dit de Gaulle, vive le Paris.

Vive le Paris libre.

Kirk out

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Howling at the Storm: King Lear on Honeymoon in Wales

There seems to be a fair bit of what you might call autobiographical sitcom around at the moment.  Hot on the heels of Danny Baker’s ‘Cradle to Grave’ we have Emma Kennedy’s memoir-inspired series, ‘The Kennedys’.  I’ve only seen a couple of Danny Baker’s: set in the ‘sixties, they centre on his father, a sort of larger-than-life Del-boy figure who never seems to stop talking and who at the end of the series talks himself out of a good marriage and then back into it again.

The Kennedys moves on a decade, which resonates strongly with me, since I grew up in the seventies.  I had ridiculous flares, slinkies, gonks, Jacko roller-skates and a traditional suitcase (very small and without wheels.)  I remember all the lyrics of all the songs they play, so it’s a nostalgia-fest for me.  It’s also a bit of a downer in bringing back memories of just how traditional male and female roles were in those days and how everyone was telling me I’d be quite nice looking ‘if I only made the most of myself’.  Still, Emma, as a proto-feminist, keeps the side up and her mother is certainly no doormat.  Their friends, on the other hand, are a different story.

Flash forward to a wet campsite in Wales.  As it’s the ’70’s, the men put the tent up while the women sit on a bench: then they crowd inside as the rain starts to lash down.  The storm gets worse and worse; finally Jenny, who is seven months pregnant, wails to her husband: ‘Do something!’  And looking very much like King Lear might if he was on honeymoon in a tent in Wales, Tony leans out of the door, looks at the storm and yells: ‘Salagadoola!  Mechicka boola! Bibbidi! bobbidi!  Boo!’

He stares at the howling storm and says, ‘It doesn’t seem to have worked.’

I howled at that one…

Here’s the episode – it’s about 19 mins in:

And here’s the Danny Baker one:

Kirk out

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Bake Off and Die

I am very proud to say that among other mega-popular programmes which I have never watched is The Great British Bake-off.  Now, before you ask how do I know I wouldn’t like it? I may add that I have seen fairly long snippets of it when my daughter lived at home and was watching it on her lap-top, so I have an idea.  In any case I don’t like the premise that everything must be a competition: you can’t just have a show where people sing or dance or cook or fish or dive or – well, anything at all, it seems, without it has to be competitive.  Baking, as far as I’m concerned, is something you do for pleasure; the pleasure of cooking and the pleasure of eating.  It’s not eye-candy or concept-heavy, it’s food, for god’s sake.  But on ‘Bake-off’ people come up with more and more outlandish ways of doing basic things (what the hell is a ganache, for example?) just to catch the attention of the judges – and while this year’s winner appears to be self-effacing and engaging, I am heartily sick of the sight of Sue Perkins.  I used to find her funny, but now all she ever seems to do is pop up everywhere wearing a blazer and grinning cheekily at the camera.

But sometimes a little voice nags at me.  What if I’m wrong in not giving all these other mega-popular programmes a go?  Should I give the One Show a go?  (here’s a clue: the answer is no.)  But other things are so popular there must be something in them?  I won’t watch stuff like The Apprentice because it’s basically bullying dressed up as entertainment – and if I have to see one more image of Alan Sugar’s seamed, deeply unattractive and grumpy-looking visage I’ll puke.  But should I continue to avoid Strictly?  Maybe not.  So last night I bit the bullet and put it on.  And then turned it off again.  I mean, there’s only so much spangly-jangly, smiley-sparkly, twisty-tangoiness I can take – and after two minutes I was over the limit.

So I turned instead to a film; and it proved a wise move.  ‘A Song for Marion’ starring Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp (he of the high collars in the 1960’s, now reinvented as the guru in ‘Yes Man’ and, here, a grumpy old man) tells the story of a woman dying of cancer whose passion is singing in an amateur choir.  More Mike Leigh than Hollywood, this is a charming and moving story of how a woman dies and her husband eventually performs the solo she was going to do.  There’s a nice cameo too from Christopher Ecclestone.  So give the relentless baking and dancing a miss and watch this instead:

Kirk out


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No Woman

As I have previously pointed out, it’s useful having a blog, because unlike a diary you can search for things and they pop up.  So today daughter was asking me which Don de Lillo book I’d read and I searched my blog, and hey presto! I found it.  I would not have had a hope in hell of remembering the title, even though it was last year.  Because, you know, last year is just so – well, so last year.

This year I’ve been reading – well, lots of stuff, but most recently ‘Yes Man’.  Danny Wallace is an engaging, hilarious and completely off-the-wall writer; a bloke whose idea of a campaign is to stick ‘join me’ on a placard and see who comes and joins him – for no other purpose than to stand together and see who joins them.  Another idea he has is to place posters everywhere saying ‘call me’ and asking people to phone him for a polite conversation.

But by far the most interesting project is his year of living dangerously by saying Yes to everything that comes along.  Yes to adverts, yes to chuggers, yes to spam emails, yes to special offers, credit cards and – most significantly, yes to having a pint with his mates.

You see, Danny, just like the guy in the film that was made from the book, had gotten to be a bit of a ‘no-man.’  He inhabited, if you will, a no-man’s land*; a place of sitting alone at home and refusing offers of drinks, meals, bowling games, cinema, you name it.  He had gotten to be a bore – and when he got into a conversation on a bus with a man who ended it with the words ‘say yes more,’ he took it as a sign.  For a whole year he said yes to everything, and ended up going to Barcelona, Stonehenge and Australia as well as having some pretty hairy experiences.

He also ended up marrying the woman he had previously given up.

So that’s all good – but as I read it I was struck, not only by his experiences, but also by how impossible it would be to do this as a woman.  I don’t know, if you’re a bloke, how many offers of unsolicited sex you get in a week – but if you’re a woman of his age, you’re likely to get a lot.  Plus, there’s the fact that women tend to say yes to things they’d rather say no to.  So maybe as well as Yes Man somebody ought to do No Woman?  Like, someone who’s really stuck in life, doing things they don’t want to do?


I’m not sure that would be altogether great either.  It’s a bit of a minefield, this gender thing, ain’t it?

I’ll have to go away and do some more thinking about this.  Meanwhile, here is some light music….

Kirk out

*see what I did there?

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Sleeping at Bus Stops

Yesterday I was waiting for the bus and there were two homeless guys. One was trying to help the other settle to sleep on a wall. They did not look at me or ask for money. After a few minutes I asked if they were all right.

One guy told me they were from Latvia. He said he’d lost his job and been thrown out of his accommodation.

I tried desperately to think of somewhere to send them. The guy was nearly in tears. I wanted to give him a bug but instead I gave him a quid, which was all I had.

I don’t know what else to say

Kirk out


Filed under politics