Classic Sentences

And Always Return Your Shopping Trolley

Currently doing the rounds and worth saving for posterity

Continue to practice social distancing by wearing a mask and by keeping a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people who are not part of your household.

What to do when a thermonuclear device has been detonated nearby.

And because a cake needs icing:

Many people may already feel fear and anxiety about the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The threat of a nuclear explosion can add additional stress. 

Consider this an open thread.

Reheated (63)

For newcomers and the nostalgic, more items from the archives:

The Sound Of Wringing (2).

The Guardian’s Theo Hobson sticks pins into his eyes, rhetorically.

Despite Mr Hobson’s claims, rejecting “liberal guilt,” as manifest all but daily in the pages of the Guardian, doesn’t require an indifference to, or denial of, real injustice, merely a dislike of pretension and dishonesty. As, for instance, when Mr Hobson’s colleague Guy Dammann looked at the stars and howled, “Am I fit to breed?” Or when Alex Renton told us, “Fewer British babies would mean a fairer planet.” Some Guardian regulars declared their plans to make us “better people” by making us poorer and freeing us from the “dispensable accoutrements of middle-class life,” including “cars, holidays, electronic equipment and multiple items of clothing.” While others chose to agonise over peanut butter residue.

And then there’s Decca Aitkenhead’s classic piece, Their Homophobia is Our Fault, in which she insisted that the “precarious, over-exaggerated masculinity” and murderous homophobia of some Jamaican reggae stars are products of the “sodomy of male slaves by their white owners.” And that the “vilification of Jamaican homophobia implies… a failure to accept post-colonial politics.” Thus, readers could feel guilty not only for “vilifying” the homicidal sentiments of some Jamaican musicians, but also for the culpability of their own collective ancestors. One wonders how those gripped by this fiendish dilemma could even begin to resolve their twofold feelings of shame.

Apocalypse Averted With Collective Juddering.

Just another day at the Guardian.

The paper’s leader writer, Susanna Rustin, is very much troubled by thoughts of impending catastrophe and is keen for your routine shopping - for groceries and maybe a pair of shoes - to be replaced, “painlessly,” with forms of “artistic expression and creativity.” Like dance lessons. It would, of course, be “a reordering of society.”

Passionate Attachments

The strange, tearful world of “water-bottle separation anxiety.”

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The Woes Of Womenfolk, An Infinite Series

In general, the King’s College report observed, British people were “much less likely to pick out inequality between men and women as a serious problem compared with other countries”… The link between Britain’s perception of itself in this regard and reality is seemingly as broken as it is in Saudi Arabia. We are much closer than we would like to think to countries where until recently women couldn’t drive

I’m reading the Guardian. Somebody stop me

Ours, says Nesrine Malik, is “a country that is heading into a post-pandemic gender inequality crisis.” Feel free to tremble with foreboding.

Oh, and consider this an open thread. Share ye links and bicker.

Now Wash Your Hands

It’s with an almost nascent nostalgia that I recall the coining of the Gen Z “sexual recession”: a patronising concern that our youngest generation would be rendered psychosexually stunted, unable or unwilling to fornicate due to over-exposure to smartphones, social media and porn.

Yes, it’s the Guardian, where almost nascent nostalgia is a thing that exists.

Ciara Gaffney, a resident of Los Angeles and a “brand strategist,” is very excited – all but rendered incoherent – by a “cybersexual revolution” that, during the pandemic, is apparently occurring.

Flinging the Gregorian calendar into irrelevance, humanity will be bisected into pre-Covid-19 and post-Covid-19, and although many will ruminate on how we have changed, one thing is indisputable: the rose-coloured epoch before the coronavirus bitterly shamed the sending of nudes.

There’s more of that, a lot, in fact. You’d better used to it.

They were perceived as gauche, even pathetic. In the lockdown era, however, thirst traps and nudes are not only making a glorious, unrepentant comeback, but are now a form of emboldened agency in Gen Z’s blossoming sexual liberation.

For affirmation, Ms Gaffney links to Buzzfeed, where we’re told of an unattached lady named Alicia who sent nude photos to a female friend because she “wanted some validation.” Said friend was expected to “say nice things” and, as Alicia puts it, “hype me up.” Neurotic neediness, it turns out, is the new empowerment. What’s more, the coronavirus lockdown is “galvanising” this new “sexual revolution,” in which seemingly unhappy people share photos of their genitals, often far and wide, in the hope of being validated. It’s all terribly exciting, and radical, and brings our narrator to a state of agitation:

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Solid Foundations

Dan Butler, 29, a radio journalist, and his husband, Hugh O’Connor, 31, a theatre production designer, are also in a relationship with Charles Davis, 28, another theatre production designer.

Heh. Sorry, mustn’t laugh. I denounce myself. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the above is from the Guardian’s ‘Lifestyle’ section, where polyamory – or glorified slutting by emotional inadequates – is still the latest thing and breathlessly endorsed. It starts off quite romantically: 

[Dan and Hugh] met as students at a party… And then the night was over, and Dan was one of the last people there. He said: ‘Goodbye, Hugh.’ And I thought: ‘Oh my God. I have no idea what this guy’s name is. I really like him.’”

Ah, bless.

They moved in with each other after about two months, and held an unofficial wedding in 2014, before same-sex marriage in Australia was legal. They legalised their marriage in 2018… “I remember feeling the happiest I’d ever felt with Dan,” says Hugh.  

So far, so rosy. Readers should note, however, that, despite all this professed happiness, Dan and Hugh’s marriage was an “open” one “from the start,” which is to say, not really a marriage at all. The misuse of terms, in attempts to repackage dissatisfaction, inadequacy and commonplace grubbiness, may crop up again.

“And then when we met Charlie. It was like this extension of a really positive energy.”

For instance.

Charles also had a boyfriend, but that, too, was an open relationship,

Why, it’s almost as if there were a pattern, a trajectory. 

I remember one morning, the three of us had just gone to the beach and Hugh had a meeting, so Dan and I drove Hugh back to the studio. And then Dan drove me back to my suburb and dropped me off. I think he leaned in and kissed me. We were parked outside my apartment block and I looked across the street and saw my boyfriend.

Those golden romantic moments, to treasure forever.

Continue reading "Solid Foundations" »

Apocalypse Averted With Collective Juddering

The vast majority of people worldwide, as well as millions in the UK, do not have their needs met – let alone live lives of luxury from which air travel and weekly shopping sprees could be painlessly stripped out and replaced for example with dance lessons. 

Why, yes, I am reading the Guardian. How could you tell?

The paper’s leader writer, Susanna Rustin, is very much troubled by thoughts of impending catastrophe and is keen for your routine shopping - for groceries and maybe a pair of shoes - to be replaced, “painlessly,” with forms of “artistic expression and creativity.” Like dance lessons. It would, of course, be “a reordering of society.”

When so many of the pleasures that we take for granted in the west, and that are desired by billions of people who do not yet have them, are so carbon-intensive, it is surely incumbent upon us to think very hard about the things in which we take joy and meaning that are less demanding of energy and resources.

Because “dancing and singing could be part of the solution to the climate emergency.” It says so here.

If capitalists, politicians and scientists have so far not found the answers – and the global mass movement of people called for by Greta Thunberg and others is, despite recent progress, still proving elusive – could the creative arts possibly provide one means to break the impasse? If the climate emergency is seen as the consequence of a failure of imagination, then this would seem to make sense.

We will save the planet with our expertise in jive, quickstep and Viennese waltz.

this would seem to make sense.

Though presumably we may have to gyrate without shoes.

The Pulse Of The Nation

We’re nearly all vegan now.

Yes, you guessed, it’s a Guardian headline. For an article in which an oddly confident Barbara Ellen asks,

Who isn’t vegan in some way these days?

Ms Ellen describes herself as a “dairy-dabbling vegetarian.”


In the comments, Rafi reminds us that, even according to the Vegan Society, vegans make up barely 1% of the UK population.

Which is practically all of us, if you’re using Guardian maths.

Saddle Monkeys

Should we stop using the word ‘cyclist’?

So asks Laura Laker in the pages of the Guardian, thereby adding to our collection of classic sentences from said newspaper. This is promptly followed by another contender: 

As the repair man rummaged around in my gas oven, I tried to explain something to him about cyclists.

Which perhaps conveys a flavour of what follows.

Stopping using the term “cyclist” has been up for debate since an Australian study last week found 31% of respondents viewed cyclists as less than human. 

Specifically, a minority of motorists have been known to indulge in “humorous references to violence against cyclists,” which is entirely unwarranted, apparently, and must not be allowed to continue.

It is easy to dehumanise people who cycle… because they often dress differently and move in a mechanical way, and drivers cannot see their faces… Public references to violence against cyclists are not uncommon, and rarely given the same condemnation as, for example, violence towards women or bullying.

It occurs to me that cyclists are more likely to be the subject of unkind humour if their behaviour, not their chosen outfit, is causing a problem, or is perceived as such. And note the bold conflation of actual violence with merely joking about it.

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Her Womanly Woes

Author Lynn Enright is an empowered feminist - and is therefore crushed and rendered tearful by a commonplace word

I realised that by not using the word vulva, I was doing myself and my genitals a disservice… Using the words vulva and vagina interchangeably isn’t a harmless linguistic quirk: it’s actually a technique for diminishing a woman’s sexual agency.

Ms Enright invokes fellow feminist Harriet Lerner, who claims that the common usage of vagina is an act of “psychic genital mutilation.”

Fantasy World

The Wizard of Oz is a grotesque predictor of Trump’s America.

It says so here, in the Guardian. Specifically,

Oz is first wondrous and revelatory, then sinister and suspect, a good trip that goes wrong… It’s this lurking inner wrongness, the darkness at its edges and the emptiness at its core, that speaks to me now. 

The author of the above is Bidisha, a mono-named entity who may be familiar to long-term readers, and who describes herself, unironically, as a “non-white angry political female.” One who seems determined to find yet another staple of Christmas both ghastly and problematic:

It’s impossible to watch the newly crowned ‘most influential film ever’ without seeing the parallels to the sickly US of today.

Oh, ye doubters. Madame Bidisha has her reasons.

We can read the catastrophic effects of climate change into the tornado that sets the narrative off,

I didn’t say they would be convincing.

see the opioid crisis in the characters’ drugged sleep in Oz’s Powell and Pressburger-esque poppy field, and empathise with the mangy Lion, rusty Tin Man and under-stuffed Scarecrow’s search for organ donors and reliable medical support in an Oz without a solid welfare state.

If you think our Guardian columnist is perhaps overreaching a tad, I feel I should point out nothing that follows is likely to disabuse you.

Continue reading "Fantasy World" »

Burning Question

“Can pot make you a better parent?”

Asks the Guardian, in a classic-sentence-kind-of-way. It has to be said, even for the Guardian, it isn’t the most promising start:

An Oregon mother posted a photo last year of herself breastfeeding her baby while she took a bong hit.

This photo here, in case you’re curious. 

Naturally, the image went viral…. Jenn Lauder, an Oregon cannabis activist… chided the breastfeeder for exposing the baby to smoke and for the “optics” of the image. “That mom could have made better choices,” Lauder told me recently.

Happily, things soon mellow out a bit:

Yes, it’s jarring to see a woman in a quintessential act of motherhood with her face in a bong. But the reality is some parents believe cannabis improves their child rearing… Marijuana, as cannamoms and cannadads see it, relieves the tedium of parenting while helping them engage with their children. With marijuana, “I’m able to sit and play Legos for an extensive period of time… and make it more fun rather than something functional,” said April Pride, founder of Van der Pop, a line of stylish cannabis accessories for women. She said it also helped break up the monotony of spending more time at home. 

You see, they’re doing it for the kids. How terribly selfless and high-minded. Another imbibing parent adds, “There’s too much taboo about it. It’s the equivalent of having a couple of glasses of wine in my life.” Though I suspect that a parent knocking back several glasses of wine during the day, every day, to make playing with their child more fun, might raise a few eyebrows.

And then,

When a parent is an open cannabis user it can also change the tenor of conversations with kids about drug use. “Cannabis has strengthened the bond I have with my daughter because I’m honest about something that’s important to me,” Lauder said. “At age 10, she’s incredibly social justice minded.”

Oh dear. And it was going so well.

Update, via the comments:

For what it’s worth, I’m not disapproving of recreational cannabis use, though it’s not my thing. I find it incapacitating. But the Guardian article does feature a tangle of messages that aren’t entirely consonant and seem rather self-serving. We’re told that getting stoned while supposedly being responsible for small children, and talking with 10-year-olds about the joys of getting high, is “the equivalent of having a couple of glasses of wine.” As if parents getting pissed while looking after the kids, and as if 10-year-olds talking about mummy’s drug use, were in no way contentious. We’re also told that getting stoned while on duty, as it were, is a bonding exercise. Specifically,

Cannabis has strengthened the bond I have with my daughter because I’m honest about something that’s important to me.

But imagine someone saying my drinking is important to me. What would that suggest?

Via Julia