Friday, November 16


I recently got into Scrabulous the online Scrabble game. I’m into it in a big way and at the moment I’m having to pull myself away from 13 games and the refresh button.

I started playing Scrabulous mainly because I had wanted to play against Tom from Derby, but he declined or ignored my invitation and so my first games were against Zoe and Sarah from Hitchin. I’m now over 10 games in and have 13 active games waiting to be finished some of them with random strangers.

Scrabulous is a lot of fun, it has a social element in that you can type messages to your opponent and have a little bit of a natter whilst playing. It’s also really easy going, it’s turned based so and you can walk away, make some tea and the game will be waiting there when you get back, and its self refereeing so you don’t have to worry about whether that word is a proper-noun or not, the game will tell you (although Rob Burman snuck dawen past me earlier, and that doesn’t exists in any dictionary).
fast players, beginners, people who don’t cheat, well hung men and big breasted ladies.

However, as much as I love this game, I have to admit that it worries me too. Putting aside the cheating, the addiction and the procrastination, there is something quite sinister going on beneath the surface of Scrabulous… something perverse. It seems that for many players, Scrabulous is a foreplay for cybersex.

Since finding that I just can’t get enough Scrabble action from my friends I decided to branch out and use Scrabulous’ game-matching system to play some strangers. You get to search for available games in three speed categories, fast, moderate and slow and then the games are displayed with the players profile picture too. But here’s where it gets odd, some people put messages requesting that only certain types of players reply, fast players, beginners, people who don’t cheat, well hung men and big breasted ladies.
harmless fun,  in the world of Scrabble, probably the least sexy game ever invented.

Who replies to these requests I just don’t know, and what the appeal of a scrabble playing sex deviant is I couldn’t tell you, but they’re out there and not just a few either.

I was playing with a lady from Canada on Sunday and the game was a lot of fun, we chatted about our jobs and travelling and normal light hearted stuff, and when I had won the game I sent her a message to let her know that if she ever wanted a rematch I would happily oblige. To which she replied “You want to play again? What sort of play? And how old are you?” Still think that she was talking about Scrabulous I replied that we should play with the same dictionary and play a regular game. She told me that ‘that’ wasn’t the type of play she was thinking about and put it frankly… ‘do you want to cyber?’… I have to admit, I was half tempted, but the pull of the other 7 games I had going at the time was much greater.

I guess it’s harmless fun, a bit of role-play between two consenting adults, it just seems odd that it would be going on in the world of Scrabble, probably the least sexy game ever invented.

Thursday, November 15

Where There's Smoke, There's Apathy it Seems

When I wrote this the U.K. had just put into affect a smoking ban in all public spaces, I decided to not post this because it was seemed too angry. Now viewed months later it seems just as angry but I'm not sure that that makes it any less honest.

Before Japan and when I was living with my mother I had come home one morning after a heavy night on the tiles and on the precipices of a ecstasy come down, to find my mum awake and suffering from shortness of breath and chest pains. I had never become so sober so quickly and as soon as I did I called an ambulance, called my mum’s boyfriend and waited by her side and attended to her. I wasn’t scared at the time, that was not the overwhelming emotion, I was angry.

In front of me was a woman who has had health scare after health scare but still ate in excess. In front of me was a woman who would smoke cigarette after cigarette in front of her son and long after a friend of hers, a 40 a day friend, suffered from a stroke and was crippled by it. Despite the health warnings, my constant nagging and pleading and common sense and she never stopped smoking.

I sat in front of her and was angry because what I foresaw, as clearly as I can see my hand before of my face, what I foresaw was day upon day of me attending to her as she slowly faded away. Both of us too young to lose our lives but both of us losing our lives anyway. And it occurred to me how selfish her addiction was, how careless and unthinking she was to poison her self slowly and neglect herself totally leaving me to pick up the pieces.

My Mum is ‘healthy’ now, well, as healthy as she has ever been because despite the hospital scare she hasn’t stopped smoking and despite working a high-demand job she never exercises. It’s only a matter of time before I walk in on her again and she’s clutching her chest in pain.

So, why am I thinking about this now? Well recently in the UK a smoking ban was put in place. No smoking in public places is the basic rule, so that means bus shelters, nightclubs, pubs. And I’m delighted!

Smokers seem to have no semblance of social etiquette, they will happily pollute a persons space, air and lungs for their fix without as much as a ‘do you mind’ or an apology. And if they can’t be trusted to employ the social graces their selves then why shouldn’t the law step in and tell them “no, poisoning people with second hand smoke isn’t on. Making other people smell with your pollution is thoughtless and inconsiderate don’t do it”. Only an addict can be told not to be thoughtless and inconsiderate and then find a way to justify doing just that.

And the latest justification: The U.K. is becoming a nanny-state and our freedoms (like the freedom to be unmindful and insensitive) are being stripped from us.

Wrong! We have always had the choice of whether we would poison ourselves costing the NHS millions of pounds for extra care for those who have senselessly inflicted their selves with diseases or otherwise irrevocably affected their health. And we have the same choice when it comes to other people and whether we choose to poison them as well.

Let’s not worry about the U.K. becoming a nanny state, let’s worry about the type of culture where we expect to be able to be able to harm ourselves, to damage our own bodies despite warning and advice and then when we need fixing we put our hand out to the welfare state and cough meekly, ‘please make me well enough to smoke 40 a day again’. Fuck you! Die! It was no accident that got you in this condition, no momentary lapse in concentration, it was the constant and slow attrition of carcinogenic materials that you happily ingested everyday.

And what makes me angrier about the sudden call to arms against our oppressors, those that choose to turn our ‘liberal’ U.K. into George Orwells dystopia by removing one freedom at a time, starting with the small victory of cigarettes; what angers me is that these, our liberators of such oppression were nowhere to be seen when our real freedoms were being impinged upon. Trident, new anti-terrorist laws, Brazilians being gunned down in the street, all of these things were accepted with a sharp intake of breath and a long smoking sigh.

Thursday, November 1

Not my Decision

Dodged a bullet
Ducked a noose
The cat was amongst the pigeons
Held it’s tail
Let it loose
My mouth quickly found religion
Held my breath
Pulled out my hair
Worried it wasn’t my decision
Out of luck
The future haunts my vision

Stroke my ego
Touch my leg
Your laughter is infectious
Hold my hand
Lick my beard
You’re wicked and you’re wretched
Lead me bad
Astray and lay
I’ll let you choose positions
Take me in
And hold me down
If you’re taking I am giving

Ignore my retreat
Bat my eyes
Notice me without looking
Row right past
To drum’s beat
Sodden wet, not sinking
Taunt me
Snub me
Stretch me
Text me
I’m yours if you are givingLead me astray
A bad lay
Worried it wasn’t my decision

I hope that you read this as a narrative and not just a collection of words that sound nice together, because that's what it is. Ok, now read the poem from red, to amber to green instead, it's a whole different 'story'.
Have I created a groundbreaking new type of poetry? Or did those guys with the fridge magnets get there first, don't know, don't care.

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