Tricks of the mind

TV. I spend a lot of time giving out about it. That soul-eating suckbox sitting in the corner, dominating all your senses. Slowly eating your life. Hours where you could be making, creating, living, loving. Or even depleting the long list of depressing chores, to live a more clutter-free life. Not just ridding the pile of unironed clothes but the cobwebs in your head. A night on the sofa, wasted life-hours, ending with a fat gut, laden with guilt, like the soiled sock hidden under the bed of a teenage boy.

Woah. I’d just intended to post that I read Derren Brown’s book recently and I’m looking foward to his Trick or Treat show again tonight and all that bile just spilled out. What I’d intended to say is that while I do loath the tellybox at times and would love to see it in the bin, I do love good TV, rarity that it is. I’ve a few heroes I love to watch on the box; David Attenborough, Roy Mears, Richard Dawkins, Armandi Ianucci, Charlie Brooker, Stephen Fry. And I love a good film, or a good quiz (not to be confused with a gameshow).

I just hate when we end up sitting in front of the stupid thing watching crap as if its some kind of domestically social event. And I hate that late night plastic soap plaguing the screens; neither serious nor funny. Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Plastic Polly, Fucking Funty. They’re all the same shallow numbeties. And I despise the kind of TV programming designed to reel you in and suck on your very soul, either for the rest of the night (Top 100s) or the rest of your robotic life week after week (soaps). And Fridays are the worst, just when you’re too tired to do anything else, they lay on the thickest excrement from the bottom of the barrel.

Woah. Let’s try again. Derren Brown’s Trick or Treat is on tonight. I like Derren Brown and I find his work intriguing. He could so easily be dismissed as an annoying magician, and he often is. But he doesn’t do magic. Psychological tricks, amazing memory feats, and general head fucking but no magic. And he’ll be the first to admit, nay shout from the rooftops, that anyone who claims to read your mind or predict the future is nothing but a shyster.


I read his book, Tricks of the Mind recently and it’s highly entertaining. Actually it starts off a little bit puerile, with the kind of bad jokes and puns, that people new to writing haven’t learned to resist yet. Like people dabbling with electronic music using too much reverb, or budding design enthusiasts using too much drop-shadow. Resist! But the silly puns are gone by the end, as are the silly tricks, from the start of the book. There are fascinating insights into lie detection, cold reading, hypnosis, NLP and memory. Not that showing you the tricks of his trade makes it easy, or possible, to do likewise. Could you fly a plane after reading the manual? The second half of the book is a scathing attack on all forms of mumbo jumbo, from fortune tellers and psychics to healers and religion, which puts him into hero ranks for me.

I’m suddenly reminded of an otherwise clever young guy who constantly regurgitates a line that I reckon some lecturer told him and he thought it was clever. He reckons that Irish Atheist are just rebelling against the Irish Church and it doesn’t reach any further than that, which is the biggest load of cock I’ve ever heard repeated. Like most Atheists, I despise all forms of superstition: fortune tellers, mind readers, lucky black cats, unlucky magpies, psychics, mediums, the number 13, prayer, heaven, hell, god, afterlife, auras, amber beads, luck, souls, ghosts. It’s all the same mumbo jumbo to me. Catholic or Muslim, Jew or Gentile.

Woah. Let’s try again. Derren Brown’s Trick or Treat is on tonight. It’s an entertaining little show. Last week was a ‘Treat’, a guy was shown how to add facts from hundreds of books to his short-term memory and kicked ass in one of the biggest pub quizzes in the UK. In tonight’s episode, a girl picks the ‘Trick’ card and has to wrestle with her conscience over the torture of a cat. I’m guessing that it’s Brown’s version of that famous obedience to authority experiment carried out by psychologist Stanley Milgram.

Trick or Treat

10.00pm. Channel 4.

Then turn it off and play some scrabble, or bake a cake, or see what fun you can have with some facepaint and a sleeping child. Or… maybe… just watch Peep show on straight after Derren Brown. Then if you’ve had a few cans, Balls of Steel might seem like a good idea. And then before you know it, it’s 2AM and you’re woken by the stale beer spilling onto your lap in a cloud of self-loathing on another wasted night.

Noisey f*ckers

I don’t usually blog about me or my general day-to-day stuff but I need to let off some steam. I can’t sleep now, again, because I’m still trembling with hostility. I’ve just gone in next door barefoot in the rain and nearly broke the door down with my fist. A crowd of people spilled out from the packed hallway confused and gurning to see me shouting at them to shut the fuck up. I usually wouldn’t say boo to a duck, but press the right buttons at the right time and I go off like a fucking rocket.

I don’t mind the odd party but you should hear these funts*. Three or four nights a week sometimes. Saturdays, Sunday’s Wednesdays, any days. They don’t care. They don’t care that this is a residential road. They don’t care that we have a kid or are just about to have another. They don’t care that we’ve banged on that door thirty times already. Thing is they can’t just listen to music; they have to whoop and holler all the time, and play bongos, badly.

The missus has tried talking to them during the day when they’re not chewing their own faces off and this week she gave them one more chance before we take legal action, and they were very apologetic. So you’d think they’d pipe down this weekend. But nope. They’ve fired the bongo player but they’ve hired more whoopers. And there’s not much you can do these days. The cops don’t care. And the legal route doesn’t look worthwhile. Me? I’m finding it very hard to resist fucking with them in my special own way. I could get very creative with the clothes on their washing line. Or you can have all kinds of fun with ketchup and letterboxes. Some nights I have to try very hard not to carry out some of the shit that goes through my head when I’m lying there listening to their fucking whooping. Inconsiderate wankbags.

*If anything good has come out of this night it’s the creation of the word funt.

You scumbag, you maggot!

Time is rife for something that’s been rambling around my head for a very long time. I don’t really do topical posts – but I do like a good rant and this one happens to be topical. So here it is; I’ve had a problem with the word scumbag for quite a while. To me a scumbag is the lowest of the low, scum of the earth, like someone who’d stab someone in the head with a screwdriver! But in the last few years people all around me have been using scumbag (or Knacker) for anyone with a thick Dublin accent or who dresses in a certain way.

Ever since I stopped working in factories, got myself a (very late) third level education and a decent job I’ve felt like some kind of spy. I’m constantly shocked by people around me referring to people they know nothing about as scumbags or knackers. “Did they they really just say that in front of me!? they must think I’m one of them! I’m not! I’ve been in groups of people, smugly referring to some group of scumbags and I’m there thinking “I know lots of the people you’re talking about and they’re more honest, clever, and witty than you’ll ever be“.

Quite often people who I really wouldn’t expect it from really surprise me with the stuff they come out with. “I wouldn’t go near that shop/pub/park/beach. Full of scumbags!” You mean people who weren’t as privileged to get as good an education as you? You snobby fuck?! I once heard a friend of a friend of a friend telling some story in a pub which was interjected with “Who’s that knacker comedian again? Brendan O’Carroll! Yeah that’s him….” No one batted an eye lid. I winced.

And let’s be clear here. I do despise actual scum. I’ve absolutely no time for hard men, or people smoking on buses, or bullying, or vandalism, or violence, or racism or anything like that. But I’ve also little time for people who judge people they know nothing about other than their accent or clothes.

And another thing – I’ve often found when I’m in trouble and relying on the kindness of strangers, these are the folk that couldn’t be more helpful. Like the time I broke down at traffic lights. While several respectable members of society sat there beeping at me, it was a gang of lads in tracksuits that suggested pushing me across the road out of the way, and then did so.

There. Done. Said. Chest cleared. Ignore at will. Normal service resumed. I guess this post will be just as popular as that time I mentioned being thouroughly bored by the constant anti-englishness over here. But that was a public forum, so I suppose I was being a bit preachy. At least this is my own soapbox, which I’ll now get down from.