At the End of the Day

Today has not been the best of days. For only the second time in its brief historical niche, The Slog was forced to remove a post on the basis of legal and journalistic advice. I can’t comment further – and Sloggers mustn’t either – but suffice to say that the ban is for the best of reasons, rather than something malign.

The first frustration came this morning when I tried to open the vacuum-pack in which a staple gun was imprisoned. I needed the staple gun because escapologist terrier Tiggy had discovered various ways to make for Switzerland via our trellis fence. Before anyone calls the RSPCA, let me make it clear that the objective was to attach some chicken-wire firmly to the trellis, not staple Tiggy to the kitchen table.

The ingenuity of thieving hands is so advanced nowadays, the aim of manufacturers is to make access to their products possible only via gelignite or – in extreme cases – thermo-nuclear tipped knives. Most people damage their fingers while using staple guns. I may be the first man in history to have sliced his finger opening the bloody pack.

Why is it that the First Aid box is always on the top cupboard shelf? Something in the human psyche says “Let’s put it out of the way because we’ll never need it anyway”. Something in the human psyche is very obviously awry: you set out to put some chicken wire up – the work of no more than an hour, surely – and half an hour later, you are balancing on a wobbly Victorian cafe chair trying to grab some Tupperware – in order to repair damage caused by razor-sharp plastic packaging.

And why is it that the new Elastoplast easy-open packaging is harder to open than a bank vault when, instead of the combination, you have only a small twig? A person could bleed to death trying to break the code required stop these plasters becoming a tangle of string and clingfilm.

Why oh why oh why oh why. Why when you confirm the fit between staple pack and stapler with the retailer do they turn out – when you get home – to have as good a fit as a Soyuz capsule with a skunk’s bottom? Why, when you try to figure out how to make the gun functional, does it fire a staple at you that pierces a second finger? Why is the next f**king Elastoplast just as difficult to extricate from its Venus fly-trap as the first one? What is the point of the gun telling us it has noise emission values in accordance with ISO 4871 when it can render you paraplegic in less than an hour?

All these questions went unanswered, and so I resorted to a hammer and nails as the best method of keeping Tiggy inside the garden. In early trials, the chicken wire was seen to have 0% efficacy. Tomorrow is another day.

My other key task of the day was to get back in touch with an old chum. I’ve tried every which way – but his home telephone, mobile number, email address and website are all dead. My chief concern is that he might be too. So I went To Skype in order to reach some friends we have in common. Except that Skype has redesigned its Home Page. I tried – and this is no exaggeration – for fifty minutes to try and access my contacts.

The site told me I could facilitate usage of my account. It just didn’t tell me how. On going into My Account, I was told how to get discounts, how to phone Australian numbers at virtually no cost, how to make savings by joining a group, how to make conference calls…in fact, how to do anything in a three-dimensional Universe except make a Skype to Skype free call by using my contacts list.

The braindeath of people who design these pages has held me in awed dismay for nearly a decade now. I suspect that the utter impenetrability of them is the result of marketing tits colliding with techie dweebs in order to create a hellish cacophony of selling and complexity. Designed to maximise income, they serve only to maximise frustration bordering on hatred. And worst of all, there is still – after seven years of campaigning to make this compulsory – no way of making direct contact with companies like these who are (let’s get real here) selling communications. The whole situation is completely ridiculous – but will any Government rein them in? Not on your life.

So no, it has not been the best of days. But the HMRC was given the bums-rush by a Southwark Judge, and Newscorp suffered another two drubbings at the hands of British justice: we must therefore be thankful for such mercies.

The folks in Athens, meanwhile, have little to be cheerful about. I had always had my money on capitulation by the Greeks. It’s a terrible shame; but the capitulation of the geeks at some point in the near future would more than make up for it.