Pill-Popping and Apoplexy

Prone as I am to venting my spleen to friends, family and via my blogs, I’m not generally the sort to make formal complaints to companies. Having spent a number of years dealing with customer complaints in a corporate / financial environment, I’m all too aware that complaining is pretty much futile, and moreover, if I’m enraged enough to complain about something, then the response I’m likely to get will only increase that anger tenfold. Yes, despite being a placid individual in person, and not the sort to become embroiled in heated discussion on-line either, I’m an angry fucker. As a rule, however, I focus that anger constructively, into my writing.

Sometimes, though, I get grumpier and angrier than usual, and those times often occur when I’m not feeling well. And, not feeling well last week while under the cosh of a heavy cold, I decided to use my lunch break to pick up a few off-the-shelf pharmaceuticals to alleviate my suffering when purchasing some foodstuffs including a jar of organic strawberry jam, and a couple of beers for the evening (it would have been rude to pass on bottles of Shepherd Neame’s Spitfire and Marston’s Pedigree at £1 a bottle, after all).

Suffering from blocked sinuses, a headache and uncomfortable back, and aware that restrictions exist regarding the sale of paracetamol, I thought better of filling my basket with enough drugs to anaesthetize an elephant and only went for the essentials. Even that proved to be a problem, though, prompting me to fire off a stern email to the supermarket concerned….

In the York Monks Cross store today during my lunch hour I attempted to purchase 1 x 16 Ibuprofen, 1 x 16 Paracetamol and 1 x Max Strength Congestion relief but was told by the cashier, Tina, I could only purchase 2 units and had to nominate one of the products to leave. This is absurd.

I understand the law limits the sale of paracetamol to 32, but I should therefore still be able to purchase 32 Paracetamol and up to 32 Ibuprofen as these are not of the same ‘family’ of drugs.

Even assuming the limit of 32 tablets of ANY painkillers is justifiable, given that the decongestants I wanted to purchase contain neither ibuprofen nor paracatamol, but phenylephrine hydrochloride, this product should not have counted toward the 32 tablet / 2 unit limit. These 3 different products would clearly not constitute an overdose hazard.

The NHS website states: “GSL medicines can be sold by a wide range of shops, such as newsagents, supermarkets and petrol stations. Often, only a small pack size or low strength of the medicine may be sold. For example: the largest pack size of paracetamol that shops can sell is 16 tablets but pharmacies can sell packs of 32 tablets. the highest strength of ibuprofen tablets that shops can sell is 200mg but pharmacies can sell tablets at 400mg strength.”

Because the 3 products were required for different purposes, it was then necessary for me to extend my lunch break in order to purchase the third product – a box of 16 200mg ibuprofen – elsewhere. Not only was this extremely frustrating and inconvenient, but also wholly unnecessary, and all due to a complete misapplication of the law. I would strongly recommend you ensure all your staff are given clear training on the sale of certain products.

The reply I received a couple of days later proved to be kind of dismissive bollocks I should have expected, penned in a style that veered between the informal and the businesslike, but maintained a suitably patronising tone throughout:

Thanks for your email. I’m sorry you were unable to buy all the over the counter medication you recently wanted to while in our Monks Cross store. I can understand this would have been disappointing as you then had to extend your lunch break to ensure you could purchase all three.

As a reputable retailer, we take our responsibilities very seriously. There is a limit on the number of paracetamol based products our colleagues can sell through the checkouts. There is a limit in place of 32 tablets in total, this can consist of 16 paracetamol and 16 ibuprofen for example.

We train all our colleagues to take this responsible selling approach very seriously. I can appreciate this may have seemed slightly over zealous on this occasion, however my colleague was following their training.

There are pharmacies available in our stores were customers can purchase larger quantities of medications should the need arise. Please don’t ever hesitate to speak with the local pharmacist should you need to.

We’re grateful you’ve taken the time to contact us with this feedback and we look forward to seeing you in store again soon.

Kind regards

So, while acknowledging the limit for paracetamol tablets is 32, it would appear that Sainsbury’s have decided rather than risk breaking the law on medications, to dumb it down to the dumbest point imaginable and then take it a step further by reinterpreting the limit of 32 tablets of paracetamol at a non-pharmacy counter as 32 tablets of anything… unless – as this email could also be taken to mean – they believe ibuprofen is a paracetamol-based product. Which it clearly isn’t.

Assuming it’s simply the case that they’re enforcing a strict limit of 32 tablets of any type at regular checkouts (and while I could have got to the pharmacy counter, it seems needlessly obtuse to make customers queue at two separate counters to purchase items they can, by law, purchase at just the one), then I’ll concede that it wasn’t the cashier being (apparently) ‘overzealous’, but the store itself.

And this really the crux of my issue: the laws concerning the sale of paracetamol products are not being applied with any common sense. Am I to take it from the email that I couldn’t buy, say, ibuprofen for my headache, antihistamine for my hayfever and fibre tabs for my blocked-up bowel in one transaction if the 3 products in combination exceeded 32 tablets despite the fact that none of them contains paracetamol and there are no laws concerning the sale of either?

Anyway, a couple of days later I found myself back in the same store (working in an office on the edge of an out of town shopping park doesn’t give much scope for a diverse range of activities and if I don’t get out of the office I’m likely to crack up). I had no pharmaceuticals in my basket this time, but was once again short on time and short on patience.

There’s a reason I dislike supermarkets – and shops in general, and most public places for that matter, and that’s because Sartre was right: hell is other people. I was reminded of this as I waited for what felt like an eternity to buy my booze and bananas and cheese, thanks to the two overweight, mutton-dressed as lamb middle-aged hags in front of me who were too busy gassing and cackling to pack their shopping into bags as it came through the checkout. Although they were together, they were shopping separately, and the one who had been served was busy clucking and tearing open a bag of mints she’d bought. Offering one to her lard-arsed mate, she proclaimed enthusiastically, “Ooh, they’re really minty!”. Of course they are : they’re fucking mints.

On the final item being rung through, the minty binty dropped her card and flapped a coupon around before realising her shop was 23p short of qualifying for the extra Nectar points offered on the coupon, prompting a call of “Sweets! Do you have any sweets on the end? No, wait, I need new potatoes!” and proceeded to wobble off to pick up some spuds to take her shop over £50 so she’d get her 200 extra Nectar points. The cashier then failed to scan said spuds, and the drippy tart bunged them in her bag. On realising the error, the cashier asked for the potatoes back. “Oooh, you’d better scan ‘em, I don’t want to be settin’ off the beepers!” the chubby dumbass clucked – as if they put alarm tags on £1 bags of fucking new potatoes!

As I seethed in silence, I had ample time to read and reread a new notice which had been tacked beside the checkout regarding the sale of 12 certificate games and films, notifying customers that. to purchase these products, they’ll need to provide proof of age. Acceptable forms of ID are a current passport or driving licence. Ok. But if the age limit is 12, then a 13-year old could legally purchase said items… but what 13 year old carries their passport or has a driving licence?

A lot of people just tell me to chill out and let it all go, but I can’t. It’s years of people doing precisely that which have brought us to this ridiculous situation. The trouble is, I don’t know what’s worse: retailers, local governments, etc., and the countless others who consider themselves to have a ‘social responsibility’ taking it upon themselves to dictate what we can buy, do, say, etc., etc., by effectively rewriting the law under the guise of ‘responsibility’ and ‘protection’, or a population stupid enough to believe potatoes might be security tagged and actually need those decisions making for them…

 

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Stock photo of sheep in a supermarket, happy to provide ID in order to purchase a bar of soap (limited to 1 per customer in case someone eats it).

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The Worker pt 5: Friday I’m in Love

Bollocks! He awoke with a start. He had been deep in sleep, in the middle of some long and winding epic dream. There had been some crazy alarms and sirens, fires everywhere and bombs dropping…. but in a jolting instant he realised that the alarm of his dream had been the alarm clock by the bed. How long ha it been going? He checks the time: 8:02. Fuck, shit, bollocks, bugger fuck cunt, he’s going to have to get a move on. He hauls his arse out of bed and throws on yesterday’s clothes that are strewn at the foot of the bed. No time for breakfast – he’s still out of milk, and bread, too – he brushes his hair, cleans his teeth. He’s running late, so no time for a shave today. 8:27 and he’s having to run to make the 8:30 bus: the bus-stop is an eight and a half minute walk but he can make it in half that at a run. He hates running, because he’s not fit – too much beer, too many cigarettes – and he hates arriving at work an exhausted ball of sweat. But he can’t be late. He’s in luck: the bus is running a couple of minutes late, and he arrives, panting and thoroughly fagged out just as it pulls up.

It doesn’t take long before the tedium sets in. He usually enjoys Fridays – the vibe tended to be more upbeat, and everyone felt the tension lift as they coasted toward the weekend. But the morning dragged, and he could feel his boss’ eyes on him, boring into the back of his head. He was keeping his nose clean and his head down. Same as ever, really. He couldn’t fathom why this authoritarian jumpstart little prick had it in for him. Probably for no other reason than because he seemed like an easy target for the power-tripping jobsworth cunt. He tried to convince himself of this, but was certain that the fat bitch at the next desk was shooting him suspicious glances. She was a conniving manipulative cow at the best of times, and while he thought their run-in from a few weeks ago had blown over, perhaps she’d been biding her time before deciding to make him pay by using underhanded tactics. So the truth hurt, and if she couldn’t take being told that she was a lazy, ass-climbing selfish lump of lard who couldn’t get a shag because she was such a miserable, self-seeking boot, it was her tough shit.

 

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An office, predictably enough

The calls keep on coming, but, less frequent, he finds his concentration drifting and his time between calls clock-watching. It’s payday: there are beers with his name on, and he can’t wait to get stuck in!

Midday and he was close to the turtle’s head so decided rushed the closing of the call he was on and go and bab one out. The humid fug of body-temperature merde hung heavy in the air, and he was dismayed to find the seat still warm. But he wasn’t in a position to be picky. He laid his cable swiftly and was back at his desk within 4 minutes.

The afternoon drags, but 5:30 eventually rolls round and he’s down the pub inside 5 minutes. Steve arrives, then Andy, then Simon, with Joe and Garry in tow. They’re all buoyed up because it’s Friday and they’re raring to go. The first round is pulled and they get stuck in, it’s onto round two in under 10 minutes. Ok, Varsity’s not everyone’s first choice, but it’s close to work and it’s a place to go to meet people. And, as Andy points out, there are some tidy birds in there, especially on a Friday night. The dollybirds from the offices nearby would be tottering in wearing their high heels, short skirts and low cut tops before long. He felt like trying his hand for some action tonight. He’d not had his end away in months now, and he was getting tired of the hand-shandies. He was feeling lucky, but needed to build his courage first. The totty began rolling up, right on cue and before long it was wall-to-wall minge, there for the taking. Andy got the next round in, and as the beers really start to flow, he’s on his way….

 

 

The Kindle – and paperback – edition of Postmodern Fragments is available via Amazon in the UK …and in the US.

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

The Worker Part 1: I Don’t Like Mondays

A few years ago I blogged a story in 7 parts entitled ‘The Worker’, and each day’s post was written and posted on that day. The story subsequently appeared in the collection Postmodern Fragments: Writings on Work, Technology and Contemporary Living. To mark the publication of Postmodern Fragments on Kindle, I’m reposting ‘The Worker’ as originally conceived – only the first time around it began on Sunday, but the effect should be pretty much the same. Original typos have been maintained to preserve the integrity of the project.

 

The Worker pt. 1: I Don’t Like Mondays

The harsh buzz of the alarm sliced through the darkness and penetrated his dark place, his sleeping brain. He woke and was momentarily groggy before the realisation hits: Monday morning. 7:30. He hit the snooze button and buried his head in the pillow once more. Under the duvet, it was warm and comfortable and life was good. But the alarm persisted and he forced himself to vacate his haven.

He dressed, ate breakfast, brushed his hair, cleaned his teeth. He was running late, so no time for a shave today. 8:25 and he’s having to run to make the 8:30 bus: the bus-stop is an eight and a half minute walk but he can make it in half that at a run. He hates running, because he’s not fit – too much beer, too many cigarettes – and he hates arriving at work an exhausted ball of sweat. But he can’t be late, he’s been late too many times recently and his timekeeping has become an issue. He’s already on a first warning.

8:59 and he’s in the office, firing up his workstation, positioning his chair, the usual routine. The phone rang. He took the call, went through the scripted schpiel, dispensed some pointless information to the frustrated old goat at the other end of the line, updated the systems, shunted some papers around. Rinse and repeat. The phone rang. He took the call. Etc. Such is the daily grind of the 9-5. Why did he put up with it? Because there was nothing else. He needed to eat, to keep a roof over his head, pay the bills. It’s the white man’s burden alright.

Necessity is the mother of surrendering one’s dreams to grim reality. He was looking for a job and then he found a job, with prospects and benefits, so his interviewer, smug in his navy pinstripe suit and tan shoes had informed him. But it soon became apparent that the corporate ladder was all a con, and worse, a trap. A stop-gap job becomes a career.

The calls kept on coming and the papers kept on piling up, and while he was on the rota for taking his lunch hour from 12:30 to 13:30, he was stuck on a call with some irate customer and wasn’t able to get away until 12:50. But then, the phones were supposed to be manned by a certain number of staff – 10, equating to 50% of the team – at any given time, and the workshy heifer at the next desk was late back from her lunch.

He was getting hungry and struggled to contain his frustration. It was the same pretty much every day and the days had a tendency to run together, like watercolours on saturated paper. Another cup of rancid instant coffee as stagnant as his life, another plastic spoon, another whinging tosser, the hours passed into days passed into weeks passed into months passed into years, a wasted life, an accidental career. All the other jobs advertised locally were much of a muchness. No, the only way out was redundancy or retirement. Or death. He found it hard to rouse any sense of optimism. Too long in the rut, his spirit had been ground down and eventually crushed, all sense of hope extinguished. They owned him and he knew it.

Lunch: he nipped out to the sandwich shop at the top of the street, bought a nutritionally vapid chicken salad sandwich on flaccid white bread. The chicken was dry, anaemic, the salad wilted to fuck. Sluiced it down with a can of Coke. He could ill afford to dine this way as he was well in the red and pay-day was still a fortnight off, but he simply couldn’t find the motivation to prepare a packed lunch.

His truncated lunch hour – he had to be back by 13:00, and while some of his colleagues were capable of getting away with pulling epic skives and late sign-ins, he was neither comfortable with nor in a position to do the same – was over all too soon and he returned to his desk, signed back into his terminal and the onslaught, the grind continued. The influx of work – phone calls, emails, paper correspondence – demanding his attention was ceaseless. 5:30 seemed a long way off.

An hour later and his bladder was growing taught. He desperately needed to piss, but there was simply no respite. He was also tired, so tired. More cups of gut-rotting instant coffee was the only means available of fending off this terminal fatigue.

5:30 rolled around eventually, he switched off his workstation, clocked off, took a long, long piss that felt like heaven, and left the building. He didn’t have log to wait for a bus home. On arrival, he cracked open a can of beer. It didn’t last long. What to eat? There wasn’t much in. His funds were low and he’d not had the cash or motivation to make the trip to the supermarket at the weekend. A sad, salt-heavy microwave meal for one sat brooding in the back of the cupboard, so he nuked the plastic tray and chowed down the stodgy collation without enthusiasm, washed it down with a second can of lager. It was piss, but it was cold and alcoholic.

He flicked on the TV and vegetated in front of a series of mundane lifestyle and ‘talent’ shows with a couple more tins. Midnight rolled around and he decided it was time to hit the sack. He needed to sleep: there was work tomorrow.

 

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An office, today.

 

The Kindle – and paperback – edition of Postmodern Fragments is available via Amazon in the UK …and in the US.

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Christopher Nosnibor Banned from Social Network.. for Networking

Back in the MySpace days, when I was refusing to sign up to Facebook before peer pressure and a mass exodus meant I had to move in order to maintain my virtual profile and contact with many of the people who I’d met but who had since migrated, there used to be a running joke about Facebook that centred around the absurd premise of only networking with people you already know.

Having accumulated over 1,300 ‘friends’ (who probably are electric) since setting up my account, it’s probably fairly obvious that I’ve exchanged friend requests with a lot of people I’ve never met, never heard of and know nothing about. I do, however, tend to share a number of mutual friends with these ‘strangers’, more often than not on account of common interests and publishing.

Sometimes, I may not be actively seeking friends to add, but will fire off the odd friend request because, well, because Facebook tells me to. Granted, I’m entirely responsible for my own actions, but the feature whereby Facebook suggests friends is undeniably a less than subtle form of suggestion. Now, I’ll concede that it does list these suggestions under ‘people you may know’, but when you’ve got a significant number of mutual friends who move in the same circles, then you’re into ‘friend of a friend’ territory in a rapidly diminishing virtual world.

Still, to cut a short story shorter, it would seem that one of my requestees decided they didn’t know me and didn’t want to and told Facebook as much. Consequently, I received a notice informing me I was banned from sending any friend requests for a week, and furthermore, I was required to revisit the terms and conditions and tick a box on a declaration stating that I wouldn’t send friend requests to anyone I didn’t know, ever again. I was given the option to cancel all of my outstanding friend requests, or just those sent to users with whom I have ‘few’ friends in common, which was generous, but note the use of the word ‘few’ – not ‘no’. What qualifies as ‘few’? it’s all relative, surely. If a person only has 10 friends and five are mutual, it’s relatively many, but few in real terms. I know, I’m intentionally missing the point to an extent.

Moreover, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the irritation and antagonism serial spammers cause, or the threat to personal security the scamming spammers represent, but I nevertheless find this suspension approach absurd, because it’s not hard to distinguish between a human who’s a heavy user and a spambot.

Can you imagine the same scenario playing out in the real world: for example, delegates milling around at a conference not speaking to one another or introducing themselves to others? Shuffling up to the buffet and not speaking to someone because they don’t already know one another is hardly networking, is it? Or imagine a freshers’ week at university where no-one strikes up a conversation with someone just because they look interesting or they’re wearing a particular band T-shirt or whatever, because they don’t share an arbitrary number of common friends already. It’s unfeasible, and life simply isn’t like that. Social networking isn’t like inviting random strangers into your house just because they knock at your door: the clue’s in the name.

So is this an indicator that despite what Facebook claims to be, and despite the fact we’re supposedly living in a shrinking world with a wider society, what we’re actually doing is growing more insular, more fearful of ‘strangers’ and spending our time indoors not meeting new people, preferring instead to only associate in virtual life with people we know in real life? This would also suggest that social networking is, in fact, the precise opposite of what its name implies, and it would be more accurate to describe it as anti-social not-networking. Staying may well be the new going out, but forgive me for wanting to get out more while I’m staying in.

 

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Farcebook: absurd ‘guidelines’

 

And if you’re loving my work, This Books is Fucking Stupid is published on April 1st.

They were cunts in school and are still cunts now….

Job-hopping was, historically, considered to be a bad thing. A job was for life, and anyone who had a CV that consisted of an endless catalogue of short-term contracts was perceived as either being unable to stick at anything, or incapable of obtaining anything more than seasonal or temporary work – usually menial, low-grade employment that was undemanding and required minimal intellect or, worse still, the kind of person who made a habit of getting themselves sacked. Times have changed. Some people actually choose to flit between jobs and call it ‘freelancing’. Others have short-term work forced upon them, and it’s no longer simply the blue-collar types. Offices and ‘contact centres’ (call centres to those who live outside of the corporate environment) are bursting at the seams with temporary staff and staff on fixed-term contracts – to the extent that many large companies actually employ very few staff directly. While the hourly rate for a temp may be higher on paper, subtracting the cost of benefits such as staff pension and sick pay and it’s easy to see why companies do it, although the benefits are immeasurably in their favour over those of the employee. Many of these temporary staff are educated to degree level, yet are still unable to secure permanent contracts. Even in positions that require higher qualifications and levels of experience, the situation is the same: universities are employing teaching fellows on a basis of a semester at a time, for one or two hours of teaching a week.

Again, there is an immense disparity between the idea of job-hopping as a lifestyle choice and the common reality for those who find themselves forced into a life of what Ivor Southwood refers to in his book Non-Stop Inertia as ‘job precarity’. It isn’t fun. And yet recruitment agencies and those who enjoy the ‘freelancing’ lifestyle (usually the kind of people who get head-hunted and land a short-term contract of a year or two in highly-paid executive roles) all emphasise the empowering nature of the ‘freedom’ this approach to employment affords the individual. For those who lack the comfort of a financial buffer and the capacity to earn large sums in short periods of time, the uncertainty and lack of stability that arises from short-term employment contracts is is anything but liberating, and every bit as depressing as being stuck in the same dead-end job for a decade or more.

The endless quest for a new contract and the endless stream of rejections the endless applications elicit is just as soul-crushing as knowing that your life is slowly slipping by while you sit in the same office churning out the same meaningless shit each dull day. At least that unfulfilling rut pays the bills, ensures the rent gets paid and affords the kind of security that comes will a pension, sick pay and all the rest. As a job-hopping freelancer, you are not your own boss: you’re a slave to the quest for the next thing and the search for a new boss to fuck you and discard you along with all the short-term contract trash not worthy of a permanent contract.

Still, surely no employment can be as depressing as Friends Reunited, arguably the first social networking site – if re-establishing contact with people you already know qualifies as ‘networking’. More often than not, people lose contact for a reason: the friends who are worth keeping, you make the effort to maintain contact with, and the effort is mutual. If you want to feel old, look up your old schoolmates. Check out their photos and see how their youthful looks have faded as they’ve grown fat,old, bald and saggy. Read their profiles and see how happy they are with their pathetic lots as they plough through life unquestioningly, aspiring to nothing more than a fortnight in Spain to provide a change of scenery from the 9-5 which, though monotonous, is the pinnacle of their capabilities, and as they like their colleagues and are able to leave their 2.4 children with their parents or grandparents while they go for a few drinks down the pub on a Friday night, it’s no cause for complaint. The ‘successful’ ones are no better really: leaving behind their small-town roots and making for the big smoke after graduation, they’re rich, jet-setting and love their Autumn skiing trips, mini-breaks to Paris and Rome and will have seen the world long before they retire at 50, but none of this changes the fact that they were cunts in school and are still cunts now.

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Friends Reunited: keeping track of a bunch of cunts you never liked in the first place

The desire to rebuild bridges with people you were never friends with in the first place is simply a manifestation of the anxiety of ageing, the fear of losing one’s youth and all ties with it. Never mind that you hated school and were bullied mercilessly: you were young and had your whole life ahead of you. Rather than face the fact that you’re halfway through your time on the planet, it’s infinitely preferable to delude yourself that on reflection, school wasn’t that bad, in fact it was good fun. But however hard you work on kidding yourself, however much you force yourself and everyone to swallow the lie that you were cool in school, the bullying was just banter and that you didn’t spend those years lonely, depressed and yearning for something, anything, that would take you out of that hateful environment, every once in a while something will trigger a rush of recollection and it will all come screaming back at you. Sometimes, you can’t help but yield to those pangs of curiosity, when something random makes you remember a name, a face, an occasion and it drags you back like an undertow and you wonder what that person, those people are doing now. And before you know it, you’re trawling Friends Reunited or Facebook. You can’t help yourself, it’s a morbid fascination that makes you recoil in horror at that ageing face, that flabby beer gut, those sagging tits you lusted over when they were pert and teenage and hadn’t been ravaged by three screaming brats by three different fathers, none of whom is the current husband, hanging off them but you still go on through those family snaps, the pictures of the works nights out, the hen night for that slapper who laughed at you when you said ‘crotches’ when you meant ‘groynes’ in geography class. You can still hear that honking sound that ended with a snort and your blood boils with repressed anger even though it was almost a full fifteen years ago now. And that’s why you try not to think about it, because when the recollections resurface, the old wounds open up and you find yourself staring into the gaping gash straight into your fear-filled soul that’s been shrivelled by a decade of corporate dehumanisation. You need to snap out of it, now.

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Liberator! Part 5

Tim rose at 6:30am and was at his laptop, set up on the rarely-used dining table, working, by 6:45. Still in his dressing gown, with a strong coffee, he sat blearily in front of the screen. He rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. His skin felt rough and dry, his eyes sensitive and watery. He was exhausted, and this was reflected in his sallow appearance. The text was beginning to drift before his eyes as he read it again and again. The text was beginning to drift before his eyes as he read it again and again.

It was after 11pm when he finally called it a night. He felt exhausted, yet his mind would not cease in its cogitations. Around midnight, after a large glass of wine, Tim retired to the bedroom and snuggled up beside his recumbent partner. He closed his eyes but behind his eyelids images flickered like a cut-up reel of cine film. He turned over and over as his mind turned his list of tasks for the next few days over and over. His heart rate began to increase, until it almost reached the point of fibrillation and sweat was running in rivers from every pore. It was no use. Tim simply could not sleep. Gingerly, he slipped from under the duvet and stealthily made his way back downstairs. Amy continued to sleep soundly.

Arriving in the living room, Tim did not turn on any lights and instead made his way silently to the window and stood behind the crack in the curtains. The street outside was dark and silent, yet unexpectedly bright, illuminated by the bright orange sodium haze of the street lights, one of which was in front of the house directly opposite. The curtains of the house were open, and there was a light in the upstairs window. He watched as a figure entered and exited the room. In shadow, he was unable to observe their features. It felt strange to be alone in darkness and at this time of night: Tim usually remained in bed, lying stock still so as not to disturb Amy, while him mind raced. Here and now, alone in the darkness and silence, with only the breathing of the house for company, his mind wandered. He projected himself outside into the long, anonymous, rectilinear street lined with almost identical red-brick terraced houses. He traversed the street like a ghost. His mind played in a flash a world in foment, in tumult, as rabid dogs and vigilantes prowled the alleyways. His heart raced with a heady blend of fear and excitement, the likes of which he hadn’t felt in years.

Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Tim retreated into the darkness and brought himself back to the reality of the here and now, his interior world. Pouring himself a shot of rum, he spotted the rather dubious pamphlet he had pickled up the other day lying on the coffee table. He didn’t recall placing it there, but nevertheless, he switched on the standard lamp and read as he sipped at his drink and waited for its soporific effects to take hold.

A recent survey found that people working from home work the equivalent of an extra 20 days a year, which almost counters their holiday entitlement. The technology that has facilitated what would first appear to be the perfect working solution and the best way to obtain a more comfortable work/life balance is thus a double-edged sword. Small wonder people don’t all want to rush home and check their inbox.

Be honest: how many times have you been gripped by fear at the prospect of logging in and checking your email, because of the idea of dealing with hassling correspondence from the bank and a slew of messages from people you can’t face replying to is simply too much? Email and mobile communications technology was hailed as a great means of keeping people in touch with one another. But how many proper emails do you send or receive?

Tim shook his head. He hated to acknowledge the fact, but this tract resonated with him. The way he spent – and wasted – hours trying to keep in contact with old friends and former colleagues, even more peripheral family members. He had the niggling feeling that life was too short to expend time and energy on people who couldn’t be bothered, but then, all too often he failed to respond to messages and emails from his friends. He felt like a cunt for doing so, but what could he do? He was busy – busy chasing his tail as he raced like a hamster on a wheel on the treadmill of life.

Tim was exhausted, but read on, slowly. He rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. His skin felt rough and dry, his eyes sensitive and watery. He was exhausted, and this was reflected in his sallow appearance.

To reclaim your life and liberate yourself from the tyranny of technology, and at the same time, take the following simple steps.

1: Do not log into Facebook for a week.

2: Stop sending emails, especially forwards and links.

3: Do not send any text messages.

4: Do not make any non-essential phone calls.

It seemed a bit extreme. On the other hand, Tim reflected for a moment just how much time he spent checking into Facebook and reading endless reams of status updates that were ultimately pointless. He didn’t need to know that Neil was tired after going to the gym, or how sick Jonathan had been after his brother’s stag night. More to the point, he simply didn’t have the time to become mired in the vapid empty existences of others. He had his own empty, vapid yet insufferably hectic life to live. What could he possibly learn from a pamphlet that he hadn’t already read and discarded from countless self-help manuals, forums and television programmes?

 

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk 

Arse

I really can’t be arsed. I know there was stuff that needed doing, washing up and stuff, but I just can’t be arsed. I’ve had a real arse of a day at work. This couple of arses on my team had been arsing about for hours, and it just pissed me off. I couldn’t help it, I just ended up having a go and being really arsey with them about the way they were dicking about. But instead of seeing that they were in the wrong, the main culprit just saw his arse and got really arsey back, which just proves what a fucking arsehole he is. He needs a fucking good kick up the arse from the manager. I won’t happen though, because he’s completely up the manager’s arse, and the manager’s fucking useless anyway, he doesn’t know his arse from his elbow. Still, I did get some pleasure from seeing this irritating prick leg himself up on a pile of stuff he’d left by his desk. He went completely arse over tit and I laughed my fucking arse off.

I finished work early but missed the first bus because some fat-arsed bitch was walking really slowly in front of me and wouldn’t shift her arse out of the way so I could get past. So when I got home, I was really riled up and fucking knackered and just wanted to get a few drinks down and get completely arseholed and forget about it. I couldn’t be arsed to cook a proper meal and got a takeaway instead. It was really bad, and I’d only just done eating it when I started shitting myself silly. After an hour’s bogtrotting, my arse was as sore as, but after than I started to get myself together, although I did slip on a wet patch on the kitchen floor and landed on my arse. Then I just spent the evening arseing about on Facebook and shit. It kept fucking up, because Facebook’s a bunch of arse and I don’t know how much longer I can be arsed with it. Besides, all of the arseholes on there are completely up their own arses. I don’t know why I bother: it’s all a load of arse.

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk.