Sunday 30 June 2013

Tabloid Newspapers Are Rubbish

Tabloid newspapers are one of my favourite topics to rant about for many reasons, the main one being that they do not contain any real news.

How can a tabloid newspaper actually call itself a newspaper if it doesn't actually contain any real news? The editors of these rags claim that they really do.

I disagree and that makes the following statement absolutely true:

Tabloid newspapers are rubbish.

In the UK we have a few of these tabloids who seem to focus more and more on the cult of celebrity with virtually nothing about what is really happening in the world today – unless it is something of ground shattering importance like a war breaking out.

There are many reasons I really do not want to be famous but chief among them is the fear I have of having my face splashed all over the tabloids because I had an argument with a man in a pub or because a sick minded member of the paparazzi felt a desperate urge to follow me to the Caribbean just so that he could take long distance photos of my arse as I changed into my swim trunks for a dip in the ocean, or worse, my man boobs.

Can you imagine the headline?

Fat Mancunian shows the world his pimply arse.

The problem is that I simply wouldn’t want the world to see my arse. I wouldn’t inflict that sight on anybody. And this would be the prime reason for hiding away on a reclusive beach in Barbados miles away from anybody – except that dickhead with the zoom lens of course.

I realise that some people buy these rags because they enjoy the witty puns and comedic stories about people nobody cares about. The saddest thing of all, to me at least, is the fact that there are thousands of thick people who actually believe what they read in these.

What surprises me more is the fact that these people can actually read in the first place.

Do people want to know that a famous golfer might split up with his girlfriend? Are they really interested in a picture of a Premiership footballer’s wife wearing torn denim hot pants and a very revealing bikini? Does anybody care that Prince Harry might pop to Glastonbury or that David Bowie’s new outfit makes him look like an old man (hardly surprising really since he genuinely is 66 years old)?

Personally I don’t give a shit about any of these stories and seeing a news headline about a female celebrity having a nervous breakdown because of her cellulite is not going to make me hand over my hard earned cash to the publishers so that they can spend it on yet more sordid photos of other celebrities getting their kits off on a beach somewhere.

How these rags can claim that they are “number one for news” is beyond me because they simply do not contain any news of note.

What’s worse is that sometimes the so-called news they write about is in fact totally false or simply speculation that is written in such a way that gullible readers actually believe it.

How can they get away with it?

Imagine again, if I were famous and went to a restaurant for a coffee with an old female friend.

The headline might read:

You Dirty Rat: Love rat Plastic Mancunian romances blonde beauty in high class London night spot

Plastic Mancunian, the world famous blogger who loves to call readers of this newspaper “thick arses”, has been spotted wining and dining a mysterious blonde beauty in Coffers restaurant, leading to speculation that his fifteen year relationship with Mrs PM is on the rocks. Meals at Coffers cost as much as £250 and Plastic Mancunian wasted no time in spending a fortune on the new woman in his life. Friends and acquaintances fear the worst having seen our exclusive pictures of the dirty low down scheming womanizer kissing her on the cheek with a gentle hug.

And this is why such rags are utter rubbish.

How they manage to get away with it is beyond me. If I had the power, I would ban them all.

They are the reason why people seem to be obsessed with trashy television, trashy music and trashy celebrities some of whom are simply famous for being famous and nothing more.

I feel sorry for genuine people whose names are dragged through these tabloids in sensationalised stories based on photographs taken by paparazzi, stooping to new depths to get that exclusive long range shot of cellulite on the arse of an actress as she sunbathes with her husband on a yacht in the Bahamas.

Don’t just take my word for it. Judge for yourself. Here are today’s headlines from some of the British press:

From The Guardian – a real newspaper:

NSA spying claims threaten key EU-US trade pact.

General Practitioners told to charge non-Britons for NHS services.

Cameron and army divided over Afghanistan role after 2014.

From The Telegraph – another real newspaper:

EU demands explanation over US spying claim.

David Cameron: Pakistan must act tough on extremists.

Police launch manhunt after brutal slaying of mother of two.

Now these from The Sun – a tabloid:

Dog tired: Kim snapped for first time since having her baby – and she’s asleep.
([Ed]-The Kim in question is Kim Kardashian apparently)

Everton star in sex texting pics shame 
([Ed] – Another footballer who few people care about)

Apprentice girl ex was pimp
([Ed] One of the contestants on this year's series of The Apprentice)

And another tabloid – The Mirror:

Cheryl Cole turns 30! Style disasters and glamour in pics.
([Ed] Why are people obsessed with Cheryl Cole?)

Andy Carroll lets hair down in Las Vegas night club
([Ed] Yet another Premiership footballer).

Prince Harry parties till 4am at Glastonbury after rocking out to Rolling Stones.
([Ed] So what?)

See what I mean?

What annoys me further (and yes there really is more) are the names that these tabloids have invented for people.

For example, Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United footballer, has become ROO so that the writers can concoct hilarious headlines with a maximum cringe factor such as:

What a Heroo!

I only have eyes for Roo.

We’re Throo!

Some of the headlines can be quite clever (although I still cringe and struggle to stop myself throwing up briefly in my mouth) – like this one from The Sun:

How do you solve a problem like Korea?

Gord help us now.
([Ed]- When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister).

And this one when a small Scottish football team called Inverness Caledonian Thistle (known as Cally) beat the best team in Scotland – Celtic:

Super Cally go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious
([Ed] For all his ranting – PM actually smiled at that one)

Finally, for your enjoyment after having read my ranting post, here are a few clever puns (not from newspapers) that may make you smile:

I know a guy addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.

When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

I went to a seafood disco last week and pulled a mussel.

I’m reading a book about anti gravity. It’s impossible to put down.

And then there was the cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control his pupils.

I used to be addicted to soap but I’m clean now.

The dead batteries were given out free of charge.

It was an emotional wedding. Even the cake was in tiers.

A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.

The frustrated cannibal threw up his hands.

Yes – I know some of them are terrible.

And I apologise.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

The Oxymoron

Many years ago, I had an appraisal at work. I liked the guy who was giving me my appraisal and he liked me so I regarded this little interview as a formality that would tick the right boxes and satisfy the corporate powers that be.

Usually with such interviews, the appraiser has to ask people who work with you what they think of your ability to do the job. Again, nobody had ever told me that I was useless and at the time I thought that I was good enough at my job not to attract negative vibes from my co-workers, so again I was happy that the boat would not be rocked.

It wasn’t – but there was a little wobble.

If you read my post called Mr Motivator Strikes Again, written earlier this month, you will no doubt remember Dirk, my former colleague who climbed the corporate ladder then promptly fell down again.

He had something to say about me at my appraisal.

He told my appraiser that when it came to estimating software effort I was absolutely rubbish.

My appraiser brought this up and I laughed.

“Why are you laughing?” he asked.

“Is Dirk suggesting that I can’t estimate?”

“Yes,” he said. “He says your estimates aren’t accurate enough.”

I laughed again.

“Listen to what you are saying,” I said. “How can you have an accurate estimate? An estimate by its very nature is a guess and you cannot accurately guess every single time. It’s an oxymoron.”

He agreed, particularly when I reminded him that many people struggle to estimate.

“How long will this take?” is a very difficult question to answer. You can guess and sometimes the guess is reasonable. The problem is that there are so many factors that will affect your guess. That’s why major projects overrun, such as the construction of Wembley Stadium a few years ago. Sometimes they are earlier than expected but ultimately the most you can hope for is an educated guess based on previous experience.

How can it be accurate?

This got me thinking about other oxymorons. Here are a few I found while surfing the web:

A fine mess
Found missing
Civil war
Plastic glasses
Accurate horoscope
Act naturally
Crash landing
Alone together
Holy war
Student teacher
Same difference
Man child
Simple calculus
Poor rich kid
Bug fix
Pretty ugly
Religious tolerance
Free gift
Organised chaos
Hell’s angel
Alone in a crowd
Silent scream
Alcohol free beer
Ill health
Rap music
Christian soldiers
Live recording
Amicable divorce
Bad luck
Boxing ring
Genuine imitation
Decaffeinated coffee
Open secret
Peace force
Half full
Working holiday
Virtual reality

The world of politics throws up some good ones:

Political promise
Political trust
Political ethics

And my favourite:

Politically correct

The favourite one I have actually heard was during a discussion about religion was a menace to society and the cause of a lot of trouble in the world. One of the protagonists actually said the following sentence without blinking or considering the words he had said:

“I think people who follow religion are just deluded. Thank God I am an atheist.

You are now immortalised on this blog, my friend.

And that’s terribly good.

Now over to you, dear reader. 

Have you got any good oxymorons to share? 

Or bad ones? 

Friday 21 June 2013

Night Noises

Certain things invade my subconscious mind and return to bite me on my arse, usually in the middle of the night.

The other night, I was laughing at a documentary on TV about people who were convinced that they are constantly being abducted by aliens. As my conscious mind mocked these poor unfortunate wretches, their words somehow bypassed my mental firewall and occupied a deeper subconscious level of my brain.

It was like a time bomb waiting to detonate.

I am a light sleeper and can be woken up very easily (too easily!) by noises in the night. With three cats lurking around, I am often dragged from my slumber if they decide to scratch the carpet, fight with each other or simply turn over and start snoring downstairs. Suffice it to say, any other noises such as passing cars, people chatting as they walk past my house  and, in fact, my house itself, when it decides to creak or squeak, are enough to wake me up.

And, of course, when I am asleep, my imagination runs amok within my head, leading to bizarre and sometimes disturbing dreams, which unlock doors in mind full of seemingly inane drivel that has been registered there during my waking hours.

On the night I watched the documentary about alien abductees I was having a particularly vivid dream and the words spoken in the documentary suddenly exploded within my mind:

“I woke up and saw a grey alien standing at the foot of my bed; and then I was taken.”

Something woke me up. It was probably Jasper, my fat cat, snoring downstairs. It could have been anything.

All I remember is waking up with the words “grey aliens at the foot of my bed” ringing in my ears. I sat up and stared towards the end of the bed.

One more thing you need to know about me – I am as blind as a bat without my glasses.

Another thing you need to know about me – I do not sleep in my glasses.

What does this mean? It means that whenever I wake up, particularly when it is still dark, I am confronted by weird shadows of black and grey, together with other shapes that my eyes simply cannot recognize. Sadly, my imagination steps in where my flawed eyes have failed.

The weirdness of my dreams has allowed my imagination to run riot and invade reality. Suddenly, each shadow is menacing; each shape is an unspeakable horror.

What IS that thing at the bottom of the bed?


When I switched on the light, the anguished cry still echoing around the room, I groped for my glasses and discovered that “the alien” was a wardrobe that I have had for ten years and the only unspeakable horror was the anger of a very irate and very tired Mrs PM who was about to beat me back into unconsciousness for waking her up.

Night noises, for me, are a royal pain in the arse – sometimes literally when Mrs PM kicks me after I have woken her up thinking monsters are invading the bedroom.

It’s not always slavering beasts that I imagine are in my bedroom intent on devouring me. Such incidents are rare. My problem is that when I am woken up by a creak in the house I immediately think that there is something wrong and, since Mrs PM is in deep sleep and completely oblivious to my trauma, I am alone in my disturbed little world.

I lie there wondering whether the noise downstairs is a cat sharpening its claws on its scratch post or whether an axe murder is creeping up the stairs to dismember me.

There have been occasions when a night noise has been significantly loud enough to wake both of us up. Each time we have had a problem. Both my imagination and Mrs PM’s imagination collide resulting in us both scaring each other half to death.

PM: “Wassat?” 

Mrs PM: “It’s an axe murderer creeping up the stairs.”

PM: “An axe murderer? No it’s not – we’re being invaded by aliens that want to stick things in my nether regions.”

Mrs PM: “Oh – it’s the bloody cat scratching at the door for food.”

Believe it or not, we have been woken up by earthquakes. Yes that’s right – earthquakes in Manchester. The tremors were tiny but just powerful enough to scare me shitless each time.

The first time was just after we had moved into our current house. We were in the middle of redecorating and as a temporary measure, Mrs PM had propped a mirror against the window while the walls were being prepared for plastering.

When the earthquake struck, the mirror rattled against the glass and promptly fell onto the floor. I woke up imagining that scene from ‘Salem’s Lot where the vampire was hovering outside the window scratching to come in. I was halfway out of the bedroom, squealing like a little girl before I heard Mrs PM say:

“Bloody hell – that was an earthquake. It’s knocked the mirror over.”

The second time, the tremor was a little more powerful and this time I was woken up by the door rattling in its frame. To me it sounded like somebody (a mad axe murderer?) was trying to open the bedroom door. This time, I must have been dreaming about being a super hero because I leapt out of bed and, with the dream still present in my head, I pulled open the door and ran out onto the landing screaming like banshee, ready to annihilate whatever was trying to get in.

What made matters worse was the cacophony of car and burglar alarms, caused by the tremor, blaring out in the street in perfect chaotic harmony. As I stood at the top of the stairs in pitch blackness with the remnants of the dream vanishing I was filled with a sudden dread that this time, finally, there really was an axe murderer in the house.

I ran back into the bedroom, slammed the door and was about to dial 999 when Mrs PM, once again the voice of reason, said “Blimey – was that an earthquake?”

We also had a problem with Liquorice, the hellcat, when she first arrived. Our other two cats are either too lazy (Jasper) or too scared (Poppy) to climb higher than the settee. Liquorice on the other hand is small, slim and very agile and set about exploring her new home, usually at three o’clock in the morning, by leaping to the top of the bookshelf, kitchen units or anything that was above head height, just to see what the view was like.

The result? Yes – that’s right. The burglar alarm went off repeatedly, causing me to either squeal or thunder downstairs with a blunt instrument and racing heart to confront the alien or axe murderer that had invaded our home, only to find a hellcat laughing at me from the top of the bookshelf.

At least we have solved that problem and adjusted the alarm sensors to cope with Liquorice’s lofty territory.

Now, all I have to worry about are those little noises. I wish I was like Mrs PM, a woman who could really sleep through an alien invasion.

A deeply disturbed part of me hopes to see a real grey extra-terrestrial with a ray gun and an anal probe standing at the foot of the bed pointing at me.

At least then I’ll get the last laugh when I wake up Mrs PM.

Saturday 15 June 2013

The Extremist

I have made a definite effort to put away my soapbox so far this year. I realise that in the past I have said that ranting is good for the soul  - and it is. The only problem is that people begin to regard you as a moaning old git – well in my case anyway.

While I may be quite amusing, I fear that the image I want to portray isn’t the one I intended. As a result I have popped my soapbox into storage for a while.

Now, however, I want to dust it off and have a good rant, inspired by recent news items over the last few years.

The target of my rant is nutters and extremists.

I have views and beliefs and regular readers will know exactly what pushes my buttons. For example, on this very blog I urge people to listen to hard rock and heavy metal because, in my opinion, it is absolutely worth it.

But I draw a line and stand firmly behind it.

I do not force people to listen to my music or threaten to inflict physical harm on those who disagree with my tastes. I do not kidnap people, tie them up and blast them with Judas Priest songs in an attempt to brainwash them into accepting and embracing my musical taste.

Mrs PM might disagree with this because I do tend to put my music on quite loudly sometimes. Nevertheless she has the power to:

(a) Go into another room.

(b) Go out.

(c) Punch me repeatedly until I turn off my music or put on something more tasteful.

(d) Set Liquorice the hellcat on me.

(e) Put on her dreadful music and drive me into submission.

I would not walk up to a lover of boy band music, a personal hatred of mine, and physically assault them – or worse - because of their taste in music.

The reason is obvious.

I am not an extremist.

I am not a nutter.

When I see crimes committed in the name of religion, skin colour, political beliefs, your choice of football team, the colour of the shirt you're wearing or the location of your home, I am filled with anger and sadness.

What right have these people to try to inflict their views on normal everyday people like you and I?

In Britain today our society is being slowly poisoned by extreme views from all sides and each time I see people trying to justify their beliefs and force others into the same beliefs it makes me so mad.

The majority of people in the world are passive folks who just want to live their lives in peace and harmony. Despite this, nutters the world over explode bombs, commit murder or attack people just because their appearance, beliefs and general outlook on life simply do not match the extremists' warped ideals.

Why should I listen to a bunch of nutters who want to reinforce their views with violence? Will a gathering of psychopaths in London who invariably end up clashing violently with nutters from the other side of the fence with the police in between make me change my opinions to match extremist views?

In a word – NO!

So why should we all have to put up with it?

A comedian once suggested that we should round up all these extremist nutters, ship them to an island and let them fight it out among themselves, leaving the rest of us to live our lives in peace. And while it was a bit of a joke, I personally would love something like that to happen.

Just imagine for a second a bunch of football hooligans. Most football fans, myself included, enjoy a decent football match and all of the banter between fans of opposing clubs. Many years ago, I went to see my favourite team, Walsall, play Portsmouth. There were so many Portsmouth fans that a few of them had to mingle with the Walsall fans and I found myself standing next to a young Portsmouth fan about my age. I thoroughly enjoyed the game (it finished 1-1) because throughout the 90 minutes, we exchanged witty banter about the game and our respective teams. There was no malice and no threats of violence and we parted with a handshake and a jovial pat on the back.

That’s the way it should be.

You may have seen documentaries about football hooligans on TV where so-called “firms” arrange to meet and kick seven colours of shit out of each other simply because one side supports Chelsea and the other side supports Millwall.

The football fan analogy is fairly accurate. Most football fans are, like myself, peaceful lovers of the game who want to watch a good match and have a bit of fun at the expense of the opposition. I live and work in Manchester and the rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United is legendary. Yet at work, fans of Manchester United and Manchester City exchange witty banter without the need to beat each other up. That's because they are normal and not extreme in any way.

Yet there is small minority of people who feel the need to attack fans of other teams and totally spoil it for the rest of us.

Why? What will it achieve?

These guys are extremist nutters and it is the same no matter which sections of society they belong to and they seem to thrive on violence even when it leads to war, which in some cases it does.

They spoil it for everybody else, inflicting violence on innocent people who just want to exist in peace and harmony and put lives at risk.

We can never have world peace and the passive lives most normal people crave with these idiots and psychopaths trying to destroy everything.

It is said that many a true word is spoken in jest and maybe the comedian’s idea of extracting extremists from our society and exiling them all on a large uninhabited island with the hope that they ruin each other’s lives isn’t such a bad one after all.

I shall now step down from my soapbox and pop it back in the cupboard to gather dust again.

In the meantime, while I may joke about not forcing my musical taste on you, dear reader, I suggest you have a listen to this little beautiful mellow piece of progressive rock from Steven Wilson. The video is very poignant and it is a lovely song – called The Raven That Refused To Sing:

Don’t worry – listening and watching is optional and I won’t come around your house with a large blunt instrument if you choose not to listen to it or, for reasons beyond my comprehension, actually don’t like it.

All it means is that I have better musical taste than you do.

Of course – I’m only kidding.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Mr Motivation Strikes Again

A while ago, I posted about the Art of Underachievement, where I introduced a character called Mr Motivation, a conglomeration of a few people I have met in many years of suffering the ups and downs of corporate life in the seemingly inexorable rat race.

Mr Motivation is an arrogant man (or woman) who is so driven by the lust for money, achievement, material goods and power that he sacrifices everything, including his soul, and thinks that every other person should do the same. To him, I am an underperforming imbecile who simply must be unhappy, bored and depressed in my pointless dreary underachieving life even though I have found a niche in my career that I am relatively happy with. In other words I have found, for me, an almost perfect balance between work and life with benefits that make me comfortable and happy.

Mr Motivation considers me to be a loser and himself a winner.

And now Mr Motivation has struck again – and he has made me annoyed.

I have a thick skin and can deal with people like this. I give as good as I get and remain totally and utterly unimpressed with their so-called achievements. I don’t care whether they have a huge house and top of the range cars. The fact that their salary is bigger than mine is irrelevant.

In short, the only person who cares about Mr Motivation and his life is Mr Motivation.

However, this time he has gone too far and raised doubts in the mind of Mrs PM.

Mrs PM and I both do a similar kind of job (it’s how we met). We are both good at our jobs and Mrs PM is particularly happy in her chosen career – certainly happier than I am in mine. She is at a level where she can cope with the demands of the job and takes pleasure in her achievements.

She is not a high flyer who wants to dominate her chosen career, working relentlessly to climb up the ladder, achieve goal after goal, winning the rat race as a high flying manager in charge of hundreds of people; she just wants contentment and enough to be comfortable – just like me.

Last year, Mrs PM went to a university reunion and ended up in conversation with an acolyte of Mr Motivation. He simply said to her:

“What happened?” 

In other words, why are you stuck in a rut with no ambition to better yourself?

In other words, she was subjected to a typical quotation from the bible of Mr Motivation.

I have had discussions with people like this before; Mrs PM rarely considers this and these ill-chosen words pushed several buttons - mostly the button labelled SELF DOUBT.

Mrs PM is a very clever woman – far more intelligent than I am. She excelled at university and so far had been successful at whatever she has turned her hand to in her career.

Mr Motivation’s acolyte is a typical example of the kind of person who thinks:

“If you’re not earning megabucks or haven’t climbed high up on the corporate ladder then you are an abject failure. If you don’t work really hard to achieve world domination then you may as well be an amoeba.”

Mrs PM opened her heart to me and we had a chat about it. I had to stop myself from saying:

“He’s a complete arsehole”

I didn’t want to make her think that she really is a failure. She isn’t. She is far from it.

I just tried to give her some perspective.

First of all, Mrs PM earns a pretty good salary. Like me, the demands on her time can be quite high at times but mostly her position gives her an opportunity to balance life and work evenly. Her work, while it can sometimes be demanding does not take over her life.

Furthermore, unlike the motivational acolyte, she is in a happy relationship and has enough time to pursue other goals in life. I tried to emphasise the differences between the motivational acolyte and herself and made her realise that she is fact happier than he is.

I’ve met this guy before and I will again. And when I do, I will have a chat with him. I will point out to him that while money and career power are the most important driving for motivational acolytes, not everybody wants to reach the top of the tree. Some of us are happy where we are. I’ve had this conversation many times before.

I have to tell you the story of one person in particular I used to work with. I’ll call him Dirk (not his real name).

I met Dirk at a company social event. At the time I didn’t work with him but we actually got on well enough to become friends. A year later, fate intervened and we ended up in the same department and as I started working with him, I realised that he was a highly intelligent guy – but also very ambitious.

At first, it wasn’t too bad. However, his desire to climb the corporate ladder soon began to take over. He was more driven by promotions than his enjoyment of the job. And it worked. He was promoted.

Before I go on, let me just reinforce the fact that I don’t mind ambitious people. There are people I work with who have climbed up and up yet remained friendly decent people who I am proud to call friends and still get on really well with.

Dirk was different. Dirk relished his responsibility and began to work longer and longer hours, pushing his team to do the same, unnecessarily so in my opinion. As he climbed, he changed. He started looking down on people like me and often came out with quips, in meetings, like:

“This is exactly why you won’t be a manager, Dave.”

However, it was soon evident that his ambition did not match his ability. He was a classic example of the Peter Principle – a person who is promoted beyond his level of competence.

He had no clue how to manage people.

And it got worse. He rose to be a pretty powerful manager – but not a good manager.

One Christmas, on my last day of the year, we were all out on the annual pub crawl. He marched up to me and said in front of others, “I was so close to cancelling your holiday and sending you to Singapore.”

“Merry pharking Christmas, Dirk,” I said before walking away.

In the end, he was found out. Redundancy struck and he ended up on the list.

A couple of years later, he reappeared at the company as a mere project manager – a significant step down. Sadly for him, the Peter Principle still applied – he ended up being made redundant a second time.

I haven’t seen him since.

One thing I know is that I feel sorry for Dirk. I would still buy him a beer but I would chat to him about how his career fluctuated and failed. I would ask him whether he should have stayed at the level he was good at. I think I might still be working with him today if he had.

Yet somehow I imagine he will still be clinging onto the dream of ruling the world and working his fingers to the bone to do so – while looking at people like me and calling me a failure.

Thankfully, Mrs PM is happier now, content in the knowledge that she is brilliant at a job she really loves.

That, to me, is an achievement. I'm proud of her.

Thursday 6 June 2013

Romantic Comedies Are Rubbish

I can predict the future.

At least I can predict what will happen when Mrs PM makes me sit down and watch a romantic comedy film with her.

Here’s what will happen – and I can guarantee it.

First, I will be able to predict the plot of the entire movie.

Second, the romantic comedy will not be funny.

Third, I will spend the entire two hours of the film, tutting, moaning and whingeing about how predictably unfunny the movie is.

My final prediction is that I will have wasted two hours of my life.

How can I be so bold in my prophecies?

It’s easy:

Romantic comedies are rubbish.

There are hundreds of them and each time I watch them, I fool myself into thinking:

“Come on, Dave – they can’t all be bad.”

But they are – almost without exception.

And just how predictable is the plot? It’s so easy that even the world’s worst astrologer could actually forecast with a probability of 95% exactly how the story will develop, resolve and conclude.

Shall I demonstrate my predictive talents?

Here goes:

Boy meets girl. Boy fancies girl. Boy plucks up the courage to ask girl out with an outrageous gesture. Boy messes up. Girl feels sorry for boy. Girl goes out with boy. Boy and girl getting along fine. Boy and girl declare love for each other. Boy does something stupid. Boy and girl split up. Boy realises he has made a huge mistake. Boy offers a grand, outrageous and totally unbelievable gesture to win back girl. Boy thinks he has failed and walks off in shame. Girl chases boy. Girl declares undying love for boy. Boy declares undying love for girl. Boy and girl live happily ever after.

How did I do? I’ll bet you’re impressed, aren’t you? You could also substitute “boy” for “girl” in the first paragraph for the sequel.

I can also predict what will happen to me during the film:

Plastic Mancunian vomits. Mrs PM thumps Plastic Mancunian and declares that he “hasn’t got a romantic bone in his body”. Plastic Mancunian declares that the movie didn’t have one funny moment apart from the unintentionally funny bit when the boy cried. Mrs PM thumps Plastic Mancunian again. Plastic Mancunian makes a cup of coffee for Mrs PM, buys some flowers and chocolates and Mrs PM reluctantly forgives him because he does really know how to be romantic.

I’ve been dragged to the cinema to see some absolutely dreadful romantic comedies in my life so I can regard myself as something of an expert in the field.

The first one I really remember seeing was Pretty Woman one of the most overrated wastes of celluloid ever to grace the silver screen. A wealthy businessman hires a prostitute for a week as an escort and falls in love with her?

Do me a favour.

And what about Four Weddings and a Funeral? a movie where Hugh Grant plays the same character as he does in every other film he’s ever been in?


I nearly did at one point. Hugh Grant must be laughing all the way to the bank, playing the bumbling handsome Englishman with the ability to woo a woman in any romantic comedy.

Why Four Weddings and a Funeral was such a massive hit is beyond me.

In a similar vein, I had to endure Love, Actually, again starring Hugh Grant, which is full of numerous mini-romantic comedy storylines all running in parallel and all making me feel like a dog’s dinner.

This scene in particular, while to some it may seem like perfect romance, makes me wonder how anyone can believe that any man would get away with behaviour like this on Christmas Eve by coming on to another man’s wife at their own doorstep – and why those who live the romance would actually say “AWWWWWW!! Isn’t that sweet?”.

Maybe the reason is that the guy in question is Andrew Lincoln and the girl is Keira Knightly. I actually laughed aloud in the cinema at that scene but not because I thought it was funny; I thought it was so absurd that it pushed the boundaries of credibility to the limit.

“Yes Keira – I think you’re perfect and I will love you forever. But I won’t interfere with your marriage and enough is enough. Oh – and thanks for the massive snog!!”

The scene is utterly ridiculous and covered in gallons and gallons of syrup.

I would never voluntarily go to a cinema to watch a romcom. That said, I have suffered the ignominy of being present at a screening of a vomit inducing sugary mess. I sat there with Mrs PM like an hopeless wretch, watching a movie that made my brain slowly shut down.

I didn’t plan it that way. Mrs PM and I went to the cinema to see a film we both wanted to see. Alas, fate conspired against me and that particular film was sold out. I can’t remember what the film was because I have tried to cast the memory of those hours from my mind.

“What about Serendipity?” said Mrs PM.

“What’s that about?” I asked.

“I don’t know but I think its something to do with fate and destiny. John Cusack’s in it. And Kate Beckinsale.”

My male side took over. I have a soft spot for Kate Beckinsale and I know that Mrs PM likes John Cusack.

“OK,” I said. “We’ll give it a go.”

Those words came back to haunt me. I endured the most humourless romantic load of tripe I had ever been subjected to. The plot was totally unbelievable. I didn’t laugh once (apart from maybe maniacally at the absurdity of the storyline).

I wasted my money and a couple of hours of my life.

As I left the cinema, I walked up to the box office and said “Has anybody found a will to live? I’ve just lost mine.”

As far as I am concerned, romance is fine in a movie. Comedy can be brilliant.

Problems arise when the two genres are combined.

A bit of romance in a comedy film is acceptable but when the romance takes over the movie becomes rubbish. Take A Fish Called Wanda – that is a wonderfully funny film with a hint of romance but the emphasis is definitely on the comedy.

It works and it works marvellously.

Pretty Woman, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Serendipity and Love, Actually are pathetic films, immersed and saturated in gratuitous glucose and about as funny as kick up the arse.

Before you call me a cold-hearted heathen, I actually rate some pure romance films as the best I have seen – films like Casablanca, Brief Encounter, It’s A Wonderful Life and even dodgier films like Ghost and Titanic.

It seems like somebody thought When Harry Met Sally was a success so we should flood the market with films that follow the same formula/

I’m sure quite a few people will disagree with me and, as usual, I am willing to change my stance slightly if you can persuade me, dear reader.

Over to you, dear reader.

Do you think romcoms are rubbish? If not – why not?