This Post Will Self-Destruct in Ten Seconds

When I was a child one of my favourite TV series was ‘Mission: Impossible’ (not the films – those came later.)

At the beginning of each programme a disembodied voice would say: ‘Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is…’ and I would be on tenterhooks lest they choose not to accept it and there would be no programme.  In fact one week they did choose not to accept it, though thankfully they changed their minds a moment later.  Phew!  The music was thrilling and there was a fuse burning down across the screen – very exciting:

I must have had a deep attachment to programmes back then (I know my life was ruined if I didn’t get to watch ‘Batman’) but somehow as you grow up the attachment wanes: and one programme I have never been tempted to watch is anything with Matey Popkins on it.  In fact I think as a media troll Matey should get as little publicity as possible, which is why I’ve given her a pseudonym, and why this post will self-destruct once it has been read.

The trouble with trolls is that they feed on attention, which is why it may have been a mistake for Theatr Clwyd to put on a play entitled ‘The Assassination of Matey Popkins’:

Of course Matey, impulsive little scamp that she is, didn’t trouble to find out what the play was actually about and turned up out of nowhere with a giant billboard saying something about free speech or whatever (yeah, yeah).  But the trouble with satire is that unless you know it’s satire, it can look exactly like the thing you’re satirising: so that if all you know is the title, ‘The Ass of Matey Popkins’, rather than coming across as an examination of social media, seems like something much more sinister and intolerant.

Which brings us back to the world of dear old Matey – who has had enough publicity for one day and needs to go back to bed.  Night, night Matey!

Please click the ‘like’ button, after which this post will self-destruct in ten seconds.  Please stand clear of your computer. 

Ten… nine… eight…

Kirk out

Never Forget, Never Forgive

There’s plenty of stuff to criticise in our current culture; and the latest series of ‘Black Mirror’, broadcast on Netflix, doesn’t shrink from the task.  Previous series have generally taken place in worlds similar to our own but different; worlds where certain tendencies, in the manner of ‘1984’, have taken on their own momentum.  But in this series the worlds are closer to our own: and in episode three, ‘Shut up and Dance’, the nastiness you often find on social media is writ large.

**************************SPOILER ALERT********************************

The main character finds that his sister has accidentally downloaded some malware onto his laptop.  He tries to get rid of it but only succeeds in allowing it to film him as he masturbates.  He then gets a text threatening to broadcast the video all over social media; as a punishment the modern version of witch-burning.  With the tendency of society to judge and to mock, you will never get over it.

This episode is peopled by frantic men and women who want to help each other but can’t because they are terrified of their own secret being revealed.  They are all victims, slaves to messages coming from an unknown source on their phone.  The pleasant, inoffensive young man from the first scene is told first to deliver a cake to a man then joins forces with him to rob a bank.  In the final scene the young man and another guy fight ‘to the death’ to win the money, filmed by a drone they have been instructed to set loose.

It’s all horribly plausible, and of course the only answer to the blackmailers is to say ‘publish and be damned’.  But the stakes are too high for these guys in a world where images can be shared globally in seconds and may never disappear.  It’s our world writ large and in it there is neither compassion nor understanding, much less forgiveness.

Black Mirror may not show us where we are now -but it sure as hell shows us where we’re heading – if we don’t watch out.

Here’s another review.  Can’t link to the series as you have to be on Netflix:

Kirk out



OMG!  WTF?  There are just TMA nowadays.  What am I on about?  Too many acronyms, that’s what: and there are more of them all the time.  Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your local evangelical church you find yourself wondering why the hell they are so keen on Kentucky Fried Chicken – only to discover that, well duh! KFC obviously stands for Knighton Free Church.  Only it used to be written out in full…

Facebook is one of the worst places for this, and if you don’t know the lingo it can drive you insane.  What is the MSM and why does nobody trust it?  What is BDSM and is it rude?  I know what L’s and G’s are but now they’ve been joined by B’s and T’s and sometimes Q’s as well.  If you go to see a film it can be CGI; if you watch a TV programme it can be ICYMI.  If you have a facebook conversation as well as the obligatory LOLs and OMGs it can be peppered with CBA’s, IKWYM’S and ISWYM’S.  SWIM?

Enough is enough.  I’m suffering from acronysm.  Or acronicism.  Or acronyism.  Or maybe even anachronism.  My head is close to exploding: it’s all TMI baby and I can’t even say TGIF because it’s Monday so I am going to sod off PDQ and go live in a hut for a while until it all blows over.


Kirk out

Big Sister is Watching You…

How tempus doth fugit!  Already it’s been three days since my last post, and if I don’t do one now it’ll be four.  Incidentally the first time I came across the phrase tempus fugit was when I read the ‘Catweazle’ books as a child.  Catweazle is a rather inept wizard from the 11th century who finds himself unexpectedly in the 20th – a sort of Dr-Who-meets-Harry-Potter – and spends the entire book (or TV series) trying to get back.  Spell after spell fails, though he does succeed in teaching the pre-teen boy he meets a little Latin, until one day he manages to send himself back to fight the Normans again.  It’s full of amusing misunderstandings as Catweazle attempts to get to grips with modern technology: the ‘sun in a bottle’ (a bulb) worked by ‘electrickery’; and the ‘telling-bone’ which is probably a better name for the device than the one we’ve got.

It was 1970 when this was first broadcast on LWT, the weekend incarnation of ITV in London and the home of some quality programmes.  Good job it wasn’t a few years later though because by then my parents would have got evangelism and turned agin it, I suspect.  As it was my Dad quite enjoyed the series.

But I digress.  I ramble greatly, because what I was going to write about today was the feeling that all of us are being watched- not only by the ubiquitous CCTV but by others; people we meet, people we pass in the street or who sit at the next cafe table or opposite us on the bus.  People are watching us; meaning that we are now more self-conscious than ever before, because we know that others are poised to satirise what we do.  Anyone with odd clothes, weird bodies, strange accents or inexplicable hair, can expect to be vilified on social media; anyone who fails horribly at karaoke will see themselves trashed forever on youtube, and god help you if you’re a public figure and you trip up.  These days you can’t even get drunk without it being recorded and splashed all over the internet.  Even in private conversation we can feel more self-conscious about whether we’re sounding too middle-class or too feminist or too Christian or using the wrong words.  We censor ourselves – because someone is watching.  Someone is listening.  And that someone will report you.

This, it seems to me, is what has replaced the old forms of social control.  When I was growing up the entire adult world was watching and ready to report us to parents or teachers if we stepped out of line.  Hence when I was sexually active and hiding the fact from my parents, I felt the need to go to a family planning clinic in Ealing, miles from home.  I certainly couldn’t risk telling our family doctor who, since I was under 18, would have had no compunction in informing my parents.  And all hell would have broken loose.

Still at least I could get drunk without it being videoed.

Kirk out



Oh, No! It’s More Serious Than We Thought!

Yes, folks – the weather is so serious that it has necessitated a Topical Insert on the Archers!  You can’t get more serious than that… seriously, though, I am trying to spare thoughts for those who are flooded out.  I can’t begin to imagine how miserable that is, especially with little hope of improvement in the immediate future.  It has also brought out some vitriol on social media about the pros and cons of climate change.  Yes, there are still some deniers out there, although most people now accept that man-made climate change is a reality – or at the very least, a strong and serious probability.  My own view is this: though we may never be able to be 100% certain as to the causes, while we are continuing to do things that could contribute to it – and logically ought to contribute to it, such as deforestation, burning fossil fuels etc – we ought to take it seriously and stop doing those things as far as possible.  That’s a fairly moderate view, I’d have thought, but you wouldn’t believe the vitriol some people are capable of when ‘discussing’ the issue.  So I’ve reached a decision.  Lent’s coming up – and since I don’t overindulge in many things, I’ve decided to leave the chocolates and alcohol to take care of themselves; and for this year, I’m giving up Bad News.

Yep, that’s right: bad news.  There’s far too much of it out there.  It’s not only Facebook, it’s the mainstream media as well who focus on the negative whilst giving any positive news short shrift.  I don’t know why this should be, but it gives us a very skewed version of the world.  Every Third-World country is overrun by corruption and famine; every housing estate is sunk in crime and unemployment; every marriage is on the verge of break-up; every film-star is dysfunctional – and so on.

Not true!

So for the duration of Lent, which starts on March 5th, I will be swearing off mainstream news, de-activating my Facebook account and using the radio only for music.

You have been warned!

Oh, and I almost forgot – yesterday my review of the short story collection ‘Ideas Above our Station’ was published by Thresholds;

Now back to the weather…

Kirk out