Wednesday 30 March 2011

The Pros and Cons of Cats

Regular readers will know that my life is dominated by two black cats called Jasper and Poppy.

Jasper is a huge bucket of fat covered in black fur.

Poppy is a terrified moggy that I only occasionally see as a flash of black as she bursts out of the cat flap when something has frightened her (something like a fleck of dust drifting to the floor).

Mrs PM dotes on them.

I am bottom of the pecking order.

Recent episodes, mainly involving Jasper, have led me to question what is good about owning a cat. I don’t want to get rid of them (Mrs PM would surely throw me out before the cats) but for a bit of fun I thought I would list the pros and cons of cat ownership based on my experience with Jasper, Poppy and our dearly departed Spike, as well as my experience as a child with three other moggies, one in particular, Midge, who was without doubt the most vicious and violent cat I have ever experienced.


(1) Cats bring dead creatures into the house as gifts. Our house has in the past been a graveyard for dead mice, birds, frogs and paintbrushes. Yes – you read that correctly. As a kitten, Jasper went into next door’s shed and stole around ten paintbrushes, leaving them in our house. Mrs PM thought I was playing a joke on her until she saw him dragging a massive brush that was bigger than he was through the cat flap.

(2) Cats bring live creatures into the house. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to catch a frightened bird as it craps all over your furniture and carpet.

(3) Cats throw up in the house. In the summer, especially, when the cats moult, they deposit fur balls around the house. Why they think this is okay is beyond me.

(4) Cats scratch furniture. Our cats have their own little scratch posts and they choose to ignore them in favour of carpet, the wooden floor, the doors, the newspaper etc.

(5) Cats want to be fed in the middle of the night. Jasper in particular howls outside our bedroom door for food at dawn every day. If we let him in the bedroom he walks all over us and even scratches us in order to wake us up for food. I have considered testing to see how well a cat flies but I daren’t - Mrs PM would destroy me.

(6) Cats and vets and pills are a lethal and expensive combination. I have almost lost my hand trying to give cats any prescriptions from the vet. And I’ve had to pay an exorbitant amount of cash for the privilege. The last visit cost £70 and all I got was a quick prod from the vet (well the cat did – not me) , some pills and laxatives for the cat. I didn’t know that cat laxatives even existed.

(7) Cats fight each other. Jasper and Poppy fight with each other and with any cats who dare to invade their territory. Usually this involves scratching, screeching and a visit to the vet.

(8) Cats get killed. Sadly when I was a child, we lost three cats all of whom were run over by cars on the road outside our house. This doesn’t tend to happen with dogs.

(9) Cats embarrass me. Mrs PM told me that Poppy is scared of me because I have big hair, stomp around the house like an elephant and shout like a howling banshee. I made an effort to build bridges with her by speaking in a high pitched voice – “Hello little girl. How’s my little Poppy? Are you OK? Do you want some dinner?” I hear the neighbours think that I am a total fruitcake because of this.

(10) Cats are violent. Midge almost ripped my arm off several times just for fun. He would scratch and bite all the time; I’m sure he considered me to be a monster mouse and therefore a challenge. I lost every single encounter and my teachers thought I was an abused child. I was – by a mad moggy.


(1) Cats are loving creatures – this is not strictly speaking true. Cats are only affectionate when they want something. In the case of Jasper, it is when he wants food or warmth. Same for Poppy actually (as long as she is more hungry than scared).

(2) Cats are clean. Generally, cats go outside to go to the toilet. Ours certainly do. The only problem is that our garden is now full of cat shit.

(3) Cats can look after themselves. Generally, when we go on holiday, we invite a friend or neighbour to pop in and feed the cats once or twice a day.

(4) Cats are comforting. After a stressful day, it is nice to sit down watching TV with Jasper half on my lap purring as he sleeps. The fact I have had to bribe him with treats is irrelevant. Apparently it has been proven scientifically that a cat’s purr is relaxing and causes stress to evaporate.

(5) Cats are cute. I can have endless hours of fun with Jasper with either a pen or a piece of string. For some reason he goes completely wild when I gently slide a pen towards his paw. Great fun.

(6) Cats rid the house of vermin. If you ignore the fact that they probably brought the vermin in the house in the first place, they are remarkably good at removing any adventurous mice from the premises, sadly with fatal consequences usually. Even better, they eat insects and spiders too. The most impressive thing I have seen is Poppy leaping in the air and catching a fly between her front paws, before eating it.

(7) Cats generally don’t stink. If you ignore the crap buried in the garden, cats are generally clean creatures and do not stink the house out, like some dogs can do.

(8) Cats make me laugh. Every single cat I have ever owned has had enough behavioural weirdness to make me laugh. For example, when I was a child, Midge used to rampage through the house like a Tasmanian Devil high on a cocktail of Red Bull and speed for a period of about 30 minutes for no reason at all. Woe betides the idiot who got in his way (like I did once). My mum used to call it “a mad half hour”. The best cat related moment was when Poppy dropped a live mouse on Mrs PM while she was asleep. I still laugh about that every time I think about it.

(9) Cats can come and go as they please. If you have a cat flap then your cat can come and go as it pleases, so you don’t have to take it for several walks a day. Though having said that, Jasper is so fat that perhaps I ought to consider putting a collar on him and taking him out for a walk to give him some exercise. Mind you, that might result in my losing a hand.

(10) Cats make people happy. This is probably the most important reason of all. I don’t know any person who has owned a cat who isn’t delighted by their presence. Mrs PM certainly is and that is all that matters.

There you have it – an equal number of pros and cons. I am sure there are more (cat lovers will no doubt have more pros and cat haters more cons).

Overall I’m delighted with my two moggies.

The only problem is that they are black so they frequently cross my path (usually in the middle of the night at the top of the stairs).

Perhaps this explains why I have never won the lottery.

Sunday 27 March 2011

We're All Going To Die

The end is nigh, dear reader.

If you believe the hype, then the world will end on December 21st, 2012. I will have just turned 50 so at least I will have made it to the half century.

Personally I think it is a load of old codswallop.

Nobody can predict the future, even when there is evidence that may support a claim that the world is about to end in a painfully horrible fashion.

Let’s take the millennium as an example. As we entered 1999, we were about to fall foul of two potential global catastrophes as well as many other miraculous occurrences.

One of the driving forces was the supposed second coming of Jesus, which would signal the end for all of us. Many thought that there would a war of Armageddon, started by the Antichrist, and we all suffer horrible and extremely painful deaths with born again Christians rising to heaven.

What was the evidence for this nonsense? There was none; none whatsoever. It was utter, utter bunkum. The only good thing that came from predictions of Satan rising to claim the Earth was the movie End of Days where Arnie took on the Devil himself and saved the world – a cracking but flawed movie.

Did the world end? Of course it didn’t. I wouldn’t be typing this if it had – and you wouldn’t be reading it.

And the other catastrophe predicted for the millennium was none other than The Millennium Bug.

I’ve worked in IT since 1984 and even then I, like a few other programmers, were aware that perhaps we ought to take account of the turn of the century and we started to do it. What’s more as the millennium approached this awareness spread and most if not all software producers modified their software, a few years in advance. To cap it all, almost everybody involved in IT performed stringent tests, probably from 1998 onwards to make sure that the Millennium Bug was not present.

Yet the media, doom mongers and large numbers of people who know little or nothing about computers, software and technology, decided that the Millennium Bug would wipe out civilisation.

We were warned of aircraft dropping out of the sky, people being eaten alive by their own toasters and washing machines rising up and murdering entire families.

Some idiots were so convinced that Hell would be unleashed on Earth that they actually packed up, left the cities and moved into the wilderness where they dug a big hole and buried themselves underground to avoid the nuclear war that would be unleashed when the Millennium Bug hit the world’s nuclear arsenal.

In their view, the war of Armageddon would be triggered by the Millennium bug and we would all be wiped out. What’s worse is that they were absolutely convinced that they were right.

The Millennium Bug was arguably the biggest anti-climax ever. I laughed so much because I knew it would be several years beforehand.

Now we are approaching another Armageddon moment, with the evidence coming from the fact that the Mayan calendar ends on 21st December 2012. What doom mongers fail to notice is that the Mayan calendar is cyclic – one ends and a new one begins.

The doomsday hoax is the result of pessimism from a bunch of idiots, just like the Millennium Bug and the predicted war of Armageddon in the year 2000. These people see things that just aren’t there. They interpret flimsy evidence as fact and end up in a flap about it, forcing their opinions on people. Even when proved wrong they refuse to accept how ridiculous their arguments were.

Before I stop, I would like to just mention Nostradamus. He apparently has predicted everything from the Great Fire of London to World War 2. And of course, he has predicted the end of the world.

Nonsense – of course he hasn’t.

Nostradamus wrote a bunch of cryptic quatrains, which could be interpreted as anything. Here’s one that is supposed to predict the attack on New York City on September 11th 2001:

Volcanic fire from the center of the earth
will cause trembling around the new city:
Two great rocks will make war for a long time.
Then Arethusa will redden a new river.

Those who chose to believe that Nostradamus had a gift have actually translated the original French line:

au tour de cité neufue

as “around New York” rather than “around the new city”.

All of this means, to me at least, that the quatrains of Nostradamus are open to interpretation by those who believe that he could actually see the future.

I suggest to you, dear reader, that he could not and that he either had a vivid imagination or sold himself as some kind of seer for personal reasons.

I mean I could write some utterly ridiculous cryptic crap and state that I can predict future events and I could state that I know for a fact that such events will occur within the next thousand years because I have seen them in my dreams or somehow interpreted current events and projected their meaning into the future using a combination of my prophetic gift, astrology, my horoscope and imaginative elucidation of the global trends.

In short – it would be a load of old codswallop written with one hundred per cent horseshit.

I could write something like this:

When the colon of Ura meets the turn of Sa
And the line of force penetrates the centre of Terra and Sol
Then the four horses of the Armageddon will rise
And bestow words of fire on the kingdom of unity.

What does that mean? Absolutely nothing!!!

I’ll tell you what Nostradamus means to me, dear reader - this

Enjoy and come to Manchester for a party on 22nd December, 2012.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Packing It In

If you are not a regular reader of this blog, there are two things I want to tell you about myself.

First, I love to travel.

Second, I am almost desperately seeking a way out of the rollercoaster ride that it is my chosen career.

I don’t like to write about my job, because if I were to do so, I would let rip and almost certainly write an extreme post about everything that is wrong with it – and it might get me into trouble.

As a result, I bury my feelings in a box inside my head and get on with my life. However, just for this post, I am going to open that box, slightly, and let a little bit of information about my career escape into cyberspace.

Actually, thinking about it, the information I am going to impart to you is one of the good things that keeps me going in my chosen profession: my job requires me to travel.

Thanks to my job, I have worked in some fabulous places: Holland, Singapore, Switzerland, Trinidad, America, Canada, Hong Kong, Russia, China and South Africa to name but a few.

I have had some very interesting experiences in those places and the prospect for further travel is always there. It is by far the best part of the job for me.

So I stay – at least until I can figure out another way to achieve the same ends without the pain. Sadly, the pain still exists, and two recent events have sliced open the wound and poured vast quantities of salt into it – along with some acid.

Both events are similar and involve friends of mine.

The first of those friends is a guy I used to work with who we call Chopper.

Why do we call him Chopper?

Those of you whose mind, like mine, tends to edge towards disgusting reasons are wrong. We call him Chopper because within his first few weeks at work, he managed to be involved in several incidents where innocent people were injured. To be fair to Chopper, only one of them was his fault – and it was the first incident.

Chopper was playing five a side football with another colleague who had only been working at the company for just two days. Chopper, a very competitive guy, took a swing at the ball but instead of making contact with it, he hit the guy’s leg and took a chunk out of it.

Chopper was, obviously, mortified. The poor victim had to be taken to hospital and was off work for a week or so. The seed was sown.

A couple of weeks later, he was playing table tennis with another colleague when his opponent’s Achilles tendon snapped with an audible ping. Chopper was wholly innocent this time and once again a sporting opponent found himself in hospital. This time the poor guy was off work for weeks with his foot and ankle in plaster.

The final incident occurred at work, when Chopper was walking up the stairs. Coming down was a member of the HR department. Our story is that she realised that she was about to bump into the thug who liked to injure people and hurled herself down the stairs. What really happened was that she slipped and fell headfirst towards Chopper. If he hadn’t been there, she would have surely injured herself quite badly. Thankfully, Chopper caught her and saved the day.

The legend was born out of these events – the victims were “chopped” by the Chopper. The name stuck.

Anyway, back to the point of the post. Chopper and his partner have decided to take a leave of absence from the rat race and move to Greece for at least six months. The reason? They love Greece and want a break from the absurdity and stress of corporate existence.

And I am insanely jealous. It is a risk for them but Chopper is adamant that he wants to do this. He leaves next week.

And he isn’t the only one doing this.

We live two doors away from a young married gay couple, Luke and James, who have opted to do something similar but even more adventurous. These guys are in their late twenties and have decided, while they are still young enough, to go on a massive adventure. They are heading to New Zealand via India and the Far East. Their journey will take a year and they plan to settle in New Zealand for a few months, working to keep themselves going.

They left a couple of weeks ago.

I am even more jealous of Luke and James because they are embarking on a wonderful journey, a journey that I would dearly love to make myself.

The problem is that I just can’t make that final step to do something like that. Part of me tells me that I should just say “To HELL with it” and escape for a year or two. Sadly, there are many reasons not to do it, not least of all my two lads who are about to reach a landmark period in their lives. My eldest is about to go to university and my youngest will be doing so in a couple of years. I need to be there for them and give them all the help I can – which means working and saving and struggling on.

Besides, their happiness is more important than my dreams.

Mrs PM shares my love of travel and would also willingly travel the world with me but she too has reasons not to. And of course, I simply couldn’t go without her, even if I were free to do so.

Consequently, I have to drudge on – at least for now.

Maybe one day I will do the same and just pack it all in to jet off to a land of adventure.

Bon voyage, Chopper, Mrs Chopper, Luke and James – I am deeply envious and I hope you have a really good time on your travels.

And of course, my own dream is still alive – and I shall travel in short bursts with work and on holiday.

One day, dear reader, one day.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Fatal Traction

I had a memorable journey home last night. 

After another deeply frustrating day at work, I left the building and climbed into my old banger of a car, a car that has been reliable but is not long for this world. 

I cranked up my mp3 jukebox and set off on a journey home that normally takes around fifteen minutes (up to half an hour if the traffic is bad). 

I felt the stress and frustration dissipating to the dulcet tones of rock music and soon afterwards I was in the zone. 

What is the zone? 

The zone is the place where I drift when I am relaxed. I am still alert and can function normally but I my mind has opened the door to my imagination and I have willingly tumbled in to allow myself to flirt with my bizarre thoughts.
When I am in the zone I am on autopilot, still able to drive, still able to concentrate, but at the same time in a world of my own where reality is warped and weirdness rules. 

I was driving along and I turned onto a main road where I pulled up behind a double decker bus at a traffic light. 

I found myself staring at the back of the bus, still in my weird reverie, when I noticed the advert on the back of it. Suddenly I was intrigued. 

The words I read were:

I used to hate my bust but now I LOVE it.

The words were accompanied by a picture of a rather attractive young lady called Sophie who was singing the praises of a plastic surgeon specialising in breast implants and all manner of cosmetic enhancements.
Sophie was very nice – so nice that I became entranced. She was very pretty and was thrusting her ample bosom out to me as if to say:

My breasts aren’t just for me, Dave. They are for you as well. Would you like to cop a feel?

At this point, I can imagine any female readers looking for the mouse to close the window and shouting YOU SEXIST PIG at the computer. Before you do, please understand that I can’t help this disgusting train of thought. I am a man governed by rampant hormones that take over my normal rational mind and cause me to say words like:


It’s something I can barely control. Normally I find myself saying things like STOP IT DAVE - JUST  STOP IT!!!! and then can regain control. 

Oh – and before you say it – yes I do still have rampant hormones even at my age. I may be approaching fifty faster than the speed of light but I am still a man with feelings and desires, even if the sensible part of my mind allows me to subdue them. 

I can’t help it.

I am a man. 

I am also trying my best NOT to be a dirty old man. And as I type this an image of Megan Fox stretched out over a Harley Davidson wearing hot pants has just entered my head. 

See what I mean? 

I can’t help it. 


There – that’s better. 

Anyway, back to the tale. 

I found myself staring at Sophie and I was in the zone, and my autopilot also became obsessed with her. Before I knew it, the bus had set off and I was driving right behind it. The rear of the bus filled my vision and I had a Cosmos Smallpiece style grin on my face.  And the bloody thing kept stopping to let people on and off (selfish bloody passengers; selfish bloody driver) causing me to almost plough into the back of it on several occasions. 

In my imagination, I saw myself talking to a policeman:

POLICEMAN: How on EARTH did you manage to crash into the back of a double decker bus?

PLASTIC MANCUNIAN: It was her. It was Sophie, thrusting her bust at me. I couldn’t help it.

POLICEMAN: Come with me sir.

Before long I was driving along, refusing to let anybody in between me and the bus and staring at Sophie. The hormone soaked beast had taken full control and was irrationally following this advert on the back of a bloody bus. 

After a while, something happened. Somewhere deep inside, I realised what was happening and I had an internal conversation: 

PLASTIC MANCUNIAN: What the bloody hell are you doing?

HORMONE SOAKED BEAST: Shut up – I’m concentrating.


The beast was gone and I was able to regain some form of sensible normality. It was then that I realised what had happened. 

Where the bloody hell was I? 

I had stupidly and blindly followed the bus all the way into the city centre, miles out of my way. And of course, being the city centre, the traffic was horrendous. 

I turned around and battled for around half an hour to get back home. A journey that normally took fifteen minutes had taken an hour and a half. 

I walked in and saw Mrs PM and as usual I was completely honesty with her. The conversation went something like this:

MRS PM: You’re late.

PLASTIC MANCUNIAN: Yes – I ended up in Manchester . I saw this lovely woman on a bus and kind of got a little hypnotised and ended up following her into the city centre. She had a magnificent bust. You know how I feel about woman’s breasts. She – hang on dear. Why are you holding that frying pan like a club?

And now I am in hospital in traction having been savagely beaten by the woman I love. Please excuse any typing mistakes because all of my fingers are broken.

P.S. Not all of the above post is true. No Plastic Mancunians were harmed in the writing of this post.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Feel The Force

The census is upon us here in the UK. That means we get to fill in a questionnaire that ultimately will inform the government just how peculiar the population of our islands really are.
We have to do this every ten years and, for those of you who are no good at maths (for any American readers -  that’s MATHS as opposed to MATH) we did the last one in 2001.
Of course, we made a mockery of the last census in a small way thanks to a campaign to persuade us to record our religion as “Jedi” – and it worked – well sort of. Apparently around 400,000 people in England and Wales stated that their religion was born out of Star Wars (that’s 0.8% of the population).
How crazy is that?
I wonder whether we will do the same this year; perhaps more of us will commit to following the path of Yoda.
Strong with this country the force is.
For 2011, filling in the census is mandatory with the threat of a fine or imprisonment for those who choose to rebel.
This threat awakens the anarchist within me.
On the whole I kind of agree with the census because it provides useful information for future generations as well as interesting statistics for the current generation (not necessarily including those who follow the path of the light sabre that is). Nevertheless when your government resorts to threats and scare tactics to force people to do something, the ranting, raving revolutionary within me grabs his sword and urges me to leap on my horse and storm the Houses of Parliament demanding the head of David Cameron on a spike.
Of course, I can subdue this warrior – but it still annoys me.
Furthermore, it makes me think to myself – what would I do if the men in black came for me?
Would I stand up and fight them?
Would I scream defiantly as they dragged me into a van to cart me off to the magistrate?
No – of course not. I would almost certainly run away, filling in the census as I fled, screaming “I didn’t mean it!!”
Mrs PM informed me that this will probably be the last census in the UK, for various reasons. The most likely reason is that it will save the government money (chasing down census-avoiding criminals no doubt), but it is possible that in ten years’ time, the government will be able to extract as much information about people as they want from the internet or their very own databases.
And this prompts me to ask another rhetorical question: how easy would it be to get myself off the grid?
Could I disappear easily, leaving no trace?
To answer, that I need to consider how much information there is about me in cyberspace or on national and international databases. And I imagine it is quite a lot.
First of all, I have voluntarily inserted data about myself onto the internet, not least this very blog. I don’t think it would be very difficult for you, dear reader, if you had an insane moment, to try to track me down from The Plastic Mancunian, The Plastic Mancunian’s Eye or The China Chronicles. And of course, I have a Facebook account, a Twitter account and bits and pieces are scattered over other social network sites, no doubt.
Moreover, I have been to quite a few countries, having had to show my passport on every single occasion. I have had visas for Russia, China and Thailand as well as entering countries like Canada, Australia, most of Europe, Thailand, Hong Kong , South Africa etc. Each time, my whereabouts have been recorded.
America is possibly the worst of all. On my two recent trips across the pond, my fingerprints have been taken, so I am probably in the FBI and CIA databases.
I’ve have stayed in hotels that have a record of how long I was a resident for, what I ate when I was there and how much I spent in the bar.
Lots of institutions, councils and government departments have my details on record in the UK.
That means that my life could be tracked probably from a very early age, including most of my movements, my finances, my trips abroad, my jobs, my education etc., enabling any determined researcher to possibly produce a fairly accurate plan of my life so far.
Scary isn’t it?
So is it really possible to become invisible to the authorities? After all, Lord Lucan managed it didn’t he?
I think it’s too late and probably impossible to remove any information about me that currently exists. But I do speculate about how difficult it would be to vanish from this point onwards.
First of all, I would change my Twitter and Facebook statuses to “Buggering off!” and, of course, I would have to ditch the blogs (stop cheering!!!).
Next I would have to sell the house and withdraw all of my cash from the bank and carry it around in a suitcase – a dangerous thing to do. And then I would simply pay cash to escape my wonderful island and disappear into the vast world, as a ghost – a kind of stunted, ugly Jason Bourne!
It wouldn’t be easy, would it? And it also wouldn’t be pleasant.
I don’t think I’ll bother, which unfortunately, dear reader, means that you are stuck with me and the drivel that pours forth from my weird mind.
I can’t possibly imagine anybody wanting to use the vast quantities of useless information out there about me, to stalk me or hunt me down. I’m not likely to ever do anything that would bring the authorities crashing through my door – unless they read this blog and want to imprison me for crimes against blogging.
If that does happen, they had better watch out. I am considering becoming a Jedi and I may have Yoda here to protect me with his light sabre when the governmental forces come to get me.
Sense you know it makes

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Just Because

Just because you shout at me to reinforce your point, doesn’t mean that you are right.

Just because I am paranoid, doesn’t mean that everybody isn’t out to get me.

Just because I am hiding under the duvet, doesn’t mean that I am safe from the chainsaw-wielding maniac in my bedroom.

Just because I am a lapsed Catholic, doesn’t mean I am a bad person.

Just because people eat rhubarb, doesn’t mean that if I try it, I will suddenly love the hellish alien foodstuff.

Just because I am shy, doesn’t mean that I am antisocial.

Just because a piece of modern art is hanging up in a museum, doesn’t mean that it is worth paying a ridiculous amount of money for – nor that it is anything other than shit.

Just because I cried at Ghost, doesn’t mean that I am not a real man.

Just because I like heavy metal, doesn’t mean that I am a Satanist.

Just because I work for you, doesn’t mean that you own my soul.

Just because I am a celebrity, doesn’t mean that I can get away with anything.

Just because I refuse to give to your charity, doesn’t mean that I won’t give to any charity.

Just because I am ugly, doesn’t mean I am not nice a person.

Just because I cried at Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan doesn’t mean that I am a sad geek.

Just because wasps are supposed to be good for the garden, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t eliminate as many of the little buggers as I can.

Just because a person appears on a reality TV show, doesn’t mean that they have any talent.

Just because a lot of people like “Strictly Come Dancing”, doesn’t mean that it is worth watching.

Just because I look like the back end of a baboon, doesn’t mean that you have to confirm the fact.

Just because you are a pop star, doesn’t mean that your message about the world is correct.

Just because I live in Manchester, doesn’t mean that I support Manchester United.

Just because I have a job, doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

Just because you like cigarettes, doesn’t mean that I have to inhale your second hand smoke.

Just because a film won an Oscar, doesn’t mean that it is any good.

Just because you fancy me, doesn’t mean you can have me.

Just because you are American, doesn’t mean that you live in the greatest country in the world.

Just because you speak business bullshit, doesn’t mean that you are making any sense to anybody.

Just because I think Ashley Cole is a good footballer, doesn’t mean that I have to like him.

Just because something seems impossible, doesn’t mean that it actually is.

Just because they are a member of the royal family, doesn’t mean that they deserve my respect.

Just because I support Walsall football club, doesn’t mean that I know nothing about football.

Just because it offends one person, doesn’t mean it should be removed.

Just because politicians say it, doesn’t mean it is true.

Just because I don’t like opera, doesn’t mean that I have the musical taste of a retarded slug.

Just because I disagree with you, doesn’t mean that I hate you.

Just because I am smiling, doesn’t mean that I am happy.

Just because I think tattoos are a bad idea, doesn’t mean that I am totally uncool.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.

Just because you think you are perfect, doesn’t mean that you are.

Just because I am old, doesn’t mean I am stupid.

Just because I don’t like Shakespeare, doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate good literature.

Just because Jordan is all over the tabloid newspapers, doesn’t mean that she has any talent to speak of.

Just because somebody gets angry over global warming, doesn’t mean that it actually exists.

Just because you are popular, doesn’t mean that I have to like you.

Just because I have a problem, doesn’t mean that I have to go on the Jeremy Kyle show to discuss it in front of a screaming crowd.

Just because I’m a Libran, doesn’t mean that I am indecisive (or does it?).

Just because I want to dress in scruffy clothes, doesn’t mean I am a slob.

Just because somebody wins X Factor, doesn’t mean that they deserve to be number one at Christmas.

Just because I’m old, doesn’t mean that I can’t act like an immature arsehole when I feel the need to.

Just because Piers Morgan has a show in America, doesn’t mean that he is any good at interviewing.

Just because are a politician, doesn’t mean that you are above the law.

Just because I am fascinated by vampires, doesn’t mean that I am some kind of nocturnal weirdo.

Just because I rant, doesn’t mean that I am unhappy.

Just because I’m feeling down, doesn’t mean that you can make me suddenly “snap out of it” by saying “pull yourself together”.

Just because I call myself the Plastic Mancunian, doesn’t mean that I am a weirdo.

Well maybe it does!

Sunday 6 March 2011

Senses Working Overtime

I wonder about stuff; weird stuff.

Today’s weirdness has been spawned by nothing more than eating a spicy Chinese dish in Kunming last week. Kunming is in the Yunnan province of South Western China and some of the food there can leave a lasting impression on your tongue, even on those that relish a decent curry.

One night, we were in a restaurant, poised in front of a plethora of dishes when, without thinking, I thrust my chopsticks into a dish full of meat and vegetables, managed to capture enough food to give the impression that I could in fact use chopsticks, and then piled the food into my mouth, proud that I had managed to do so without dropping it all over the table or onto my shirt.

I started chewing and then, after a few seconds, realised that I had molten lava in my mouth.

My immediate thought was this:


My second thought was this: I wonder what it would be like to lose my sense of taste.

I then started thinking about all of my five senses and how much they mean to me.

As my weird imagination started to mull this over, I pictured myself in the dock in a courtroom, having just been found guilty of a heinous crime – like being caught watching “The Jeremy Kyle Show” with a huge grin of enjoyment painted on your face. Now this was a weird court handing out weird punishments; my punishment for my crime was extremely weird:

You shall be taken from this place and have one of your senses removed for a period of twelve months. 

Which sense shall it be?

And that, dear reader, is a difficult choice. Which of you five senses would you least mind losing for a period of a year?

Let’s take them one at a time:


Without my sense of taste, I would have easily survived the mouthful of molten steel that I threw into my mouth without a care in the world. I would have been able to chew it over and over again without feeling my taste buds being incinerated by the chilli peppers in the dish.

Surely that is a plus point in favour of the other four senses.

The problem is that while I would undoubtedly find myself able to eat odious foodstuffs like liver or rhubarb, I would find myself pining for the food that I enjoyed – like steak, cheese, beer, bacon, chicken etc.

I’ve had a taste of tastelessness (if you will pardon the pun) when I have had a particularly nasty cold that has resulted in my whole head feeling like it was being stuffed with vast quantities of cotton wool. I found it rather unpleasant to be honest. Eating a bacon sandwich in that state is about as enjoyable as eating a couple of pieces of cardboard between two pieces of tofu; bland and awkward.

Could I stand that for a whole year?


If you have ever trodden barefoot in a steaming pile of cat shit or cat vomit then you might immediately think that without you sense of touch, you would not suffer the unpleasantness of slimy cat excreta between your toes.

But there is a downside, dear reader. If you were to tread in an enormous pile of poo while staggering to the loo in the middle of the night, you would be unaware of it, walk it through your house and get back into bed smearing the foul substance all over the sheets.

That’s not nice.

Also, without your sense of touch, you would also not feel pain. That may not be a bad thing but the whole point of pain is to warn you that something nasty is happening to your body. As undesirable as pain may be, it is there for a reason.

Again I have had exposure to losing my sense of touch. I had two fillings and the tooth butcher (aka the dentist) stabbed the left side of my face with a needle full of anaesthetic before applying a drill to my tooth and then filling it with molten metal. I couldn’t feel my face for hours and as I drove home, I dribbled like an imbecile. I reached up and touched my face and it felt really odd – so odd in fact that I almost crashed the car. I was planning to go back to work, but I couldn’t actually speak properly.

And to be honest I couldn’t stand the thought of being ridiculed by my mates, who would undoubtedly have leapt on the opportunity to point out the similarity between me and a drooling Homer Simpson.

I doubt that I could live without my sense of touch after that incident.


There are some truly obnoxious smells in the world, like cat shit for example (I apologise dear reader for yet another reference to cat shit but if you had plunged your hand or your foot into a great steaming pile of it, you would know what I mean – I’m not obsessed – honestly). The truth is I would not miss certain odours – particularly nasty farts, the smell of fresh vomit, Chinese toilets or other putrid stenches.

Of course, there are many lovely smells out there like freshly mown grass, a field full of flowers, sizzling bacon to name but a few.

Nevertheless, your sense of smell is there to protect you so that you can avoid noxious gases for example.

Furthermore, when you have a nasty cold with a head full of cotton wool, your sense of smell is cast asunder as well your sense of taste. And to be honest, I haven’t missed it in the past.

Smell might just be a contender.


Without my glasses I am as blind as a bat. I walk around and see woolly blurred shapes and can barely distinguish a bus from a building.

With my specs, however, I have perfect vision and to be perfectly honest I love that. The world is a beautiful place, full of beautiful people and beautiful things and I simply could not bear to part with that – even for a day.

How would I cope not being able to see Mrs PM?


Like sight, hearing is a major sense that I simply do not think I could do without. I love listening to noises and conversation and, most importantly, my vast collection of music.

Losing my hearing for an entire year would be like not listening to a single song during that period or exchanging words with friends, strangers and, of course, Mrs PM.

That would be unacceptable.


I have come to a decision – finally. If I found myself standing in a dock having been sentenced to lose a sense of my choosing for being caught surreptitiously enjoying watching nutters being verbally assaulted by Jeremy Kyle, I would say:

Your honour, I shall relinquish my sense of smell for a period of twelve months – just as long as you don’t make me wander through a mine filled with chlorine.

Over to you, dear reader. Which sense do you value above all others?

And more importantly, because I am weird, what would you regard as a crime worthy of sensory deprivation for a whole year in my weird courtroom?

I would suggest that a large percentage of Americans might find themselves in that court in the near future – for being caught enjoying watching Piers Morgan on CNN – and actually enjoying it.

That is an almost unforgiveable crime.