Saturday, March 26, 2005

Hemingway: A Farewell to ArmsEversocunning.

Yesterday, in mid-rant, I mentioned the M&S website's sheer patheticness. Being fairly bored I filled in their feedback form (cunningly they have two: one for shopping, one for the website, but don't mention this when one clicks "Tell us what you think" link). Two points: one, that their main index ignores the food section, for which they currently have an television advertising campaign, and the second, in Firefox (with a screen size of 1152 X 864) their graphics are all over the place, which renders large chunks of their site unusable.

I get back two emails.

The first is an automated thing, which thanks me for my email (um, I didn't email them, but never mind).

The next I reproduce below:
Dear [Name],

Thanks for your email.

I'm sorry to hear you are experiencing problems when using our website. I have passed your comments to our technical team to rectify as soon as they can.

Please click on the link below,

This will enable you to view all our food products as requested. If we can be of any further help, please feel free to email us or call 0845 609 0200.

Kind Regards

[Other Name]
Customer Services
Marks & Spencer
The reply I would never dare send:

Dear [Other name],

Thank you for rectifying my comments.

I did not request a link to your food magazine. I wrote to tell you their was no link to a major part of your site from the front page the company's website. This section of your site is one which you are currently advertising widely. The lack of direct link struck me as rather short sighted, given the amount of money the company is pouring into a national cross-media campaign. But then such an idea fits with the ethos of the company, so it was wrong of me to complain.

The second part of my message mentioned the display faults encountered on the company website, including the food section. I had previously accessed the food magazine, as linked, otherwise I would not have been aware of the problems with it. So while I thank you for sending me a link I did not request, regrettably the page accessed through it is still unusable.

Less than kind regards,

Mr Being Arsey.

PS. This is an email.

And while I have my arse hat on (I may need to rephrase that), what is it with the endless Mcfly searches? I've even had someone searching this site for the dreaded McFly.

Who the hell wants to know vital stats for tom mcfly? BTW, if you really want to know, they are as follows:
Ego: ∞ m3
Facial Radius: 24 cm
Facial Circumference: 151 cm
Airhead Pressure: 32 bar
Density: 19.8x103 kg m-3

It's bad enough having people wanting guitar tabs for their so songs [Click for tabs: 5 colours in her hair, All about you, Obviously].

Drat, and here I realise that by mentioning the McFly [may they go the way of the Delorean] name all I'm doing is increasing the likelihood Google shunts the muppets here. But inventing a code name for them would suggest I care a bit too much. So how a about misspelling. MacFly perhaps, or maybe the preferable McFlay. How about really taking the piss and calling them MC Fly? Well, they're a boyband, so it can't be long before they start on the comedy raps. And they are pretty fly for a white guy x4 (in the real meaning of the Offspring song).
Seriously, if you want McFly, look elsewhere.

Of course, I only do it because, very occasionally I unwittingly hear part of a song of theirs and like it, which of course no self-respecting indie kid should ever do.

But then there's that The Faders thing [overblown glitchy website]. So shouldn't. Except it's still early enough in their careers that they run out of publicist written junk after a minute of speaking, and then suddenly sound much nicer, and start making more sense. I strongly suspect the band member called Toy, and is the token goth one (um, yeah), may well have ditched the "r" from her name (and I'm not implying she's name after a Greek cited, which in turn was named in honour of a film. Think: not Vicky).

And so, in an effort to drag this post out of the cultural hinterland, I'll move on to discussing what it was which kept me from posting earlier in the week: books.

I've recently finished three, and here they are, in order of what I would like to admit to reading (and typed as it appears on the cover):
Ernest Hemingway - A Farewell to Arms.
christopher brookmyre - be my enemy.

I think the use of capitals tell us all we need to know about these books. The Hemingway was less readable than To Have and Have Not. The story is odd, and the characters frequently infuriating, with much rapid chatter, which they don't mean, and then do. Imagine a book made from the worst parts of A Brief Encounter, and you'll get the same feeling. First World War Italy is odd too, but I suspect that is part of the point. None of the characters exist outside the war: money comes to the hero from somewhere via his sight drafts, but very little mention is made of why it does, and there is money to come. Thinking of the plot as a whole, things happen, but other than slight injury, the hero is, in some aspects at least, unchanged. The plot may as well never have happened.

It's an odd book; one spends so long not connecting that one almost forgets to when it matters.

Onto Kit B. As always, funny, ruthless, cruel, with equal doses of cynicism and innovative sadism. Acutely observed, wryly written. If only I knew what a bampot was. I know how it's used, I just don't know what it means. Read it, and any others you can find.

And so to The Iron Man, whose title makes me think of petrifying cartoon which was somehow connected to Ted Hughes. It's not though. It's a book about a Russian ship, which was at the apex of a previous generation of naval technology. And somewhere along the way piracy creeps in. Nowhere near as a well written as the other two, the thing visibly rusts in comparison to the Brookmyre. Not as bad as some books, but still not great. It's not helped the author being rather narrow-minded. He writes disparagingly of some naval commander being sexist, and then mentions that female (who I think he describes as attractive) in charge of looking at the radar hasn't got it turned on because she's having lustful thoughts about another member of crew. The other member of crew does not turn up, so we cannot tell if lustful thoughts are as equally distracting to him.

Oh, and guess what, the main plot isn't quite the main plot: there's a twist. The pirates are really after nuclear warheads. There's a murky contact, with a bushy black beard (hey don't forget the camouflage, aviator sunglasses and keffiyeh round the neck), who Allah-akbar's his way through the book (even though insh'Allah might be more appropriate), and who only meets people in dimly lit streets. The man represents a Middle Eastern state. Really? I never would have guessed. I thought the beard was an ironic thing, and the guy can from Hemel Hempstead, and Tariq could be a code name. So who is this man representing? None other than Saddam Hussien. Because as well all know, there has only ever been one baddy.

Having a criminal mastermind wiped out by events after the book was written does is at best inconvenient. It doesn't help that at the time it was set, some of the details the author labours so much were already out of date.

Other than the central plot, which is pretty formulaic if one filters out the clutter. Actually make that including the central plot, the book is horrendously unimaginative, and grinds from stereotype to stereotype. The author has a fetish for war-machines, preferably old-fashioned ones, and the book is written solely to maximise his pleasure. And that's all.

It is probably one of the few books which no one would care enough about to bother burning.

I am having a rather vitriolic couple of days, aren't I? Oh well. Blame it on pent up fury (ok, so it was more fatalist resignation at the time) over getting feet wet. In the sea, in March, in shoes, which weren't designed for it, and are the only pair I have under two hours away. That's what happens when one helps people. The guy was apparently an RYA sailing instructor, who was having problems launching, in rough seas and a force 7 (he should have known better). As I was the only person on the beach, I found myself taking hold of his trolley, as he tried to launch. He, in an effort to push the boat out to sea, into the wind, pushed the trolley hard as well. I was holding the other end. Quite why he decided that he had to keep hold of both I'm not sure, as the trolley is too heavy to drift off, and the boat is being blown onto the beach, so it can't really go anywhere either.

Um, yeah, so bare feet, in March, with a strong wind, and sun disappearing behind a bank of clouds, is less than fun, especially over several hours. My feet had just enough feeling that all I got was pain, interrupted by the pain of winter feet on a beach. Really perversely, the scotch-guarded exterior was fine, it was just the gaps around the tongues which weren't, so the outside was dry whilst inside the shoe had pebbles and bits of seaweed.

And as for the man who went sailing: he capsized onto the old pier, bent his mast, lost bits of kit, snagged the sail on the posts, then got the boat upright, then let himself off the pier, from where he drifted until he hit the newer pier, where he was wedged until a couple of committee members went to rescue him (getting their non-sailing clothes wet as well).

The nice man didn't seem to notice the number of people he had made cold and wet, nor the hinting comments about how fortunate it was that the engine used to rescue him had only just been taken out of winter storage and serviced. The sailing club (unlike many others) has rule which allows people to sail without safety cover at their own risk. It assumes the members are capable of gauging the risk, and acting accordingly (not trying to kill themselves is the general theme, which includes not going out in stupid conditions). I have a hunch that there may be a "quiet word" or two.

So, um, trying think of something positive to say, well, at least I've been in the sea this year, and had a chance to work on my suntan (even if I'm not convinced toes tan all that well).


Anyhoo, the links to the McFly guitars tabs aren't working! Can you check the links and repost them for me, I want to learn how play Obviously so much!
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