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Ockhamite Diary: Stick This eMoji Somewhere!

Published on: 20 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 22 Jan, 2023

A sidelong glance at the world from Tony Edwards

Sending all the wrong signals

Let’s get one thing straight – I don’t play ‘air guitar’. Never have.

It’s always seemed to me to be a bit of a naff thing to do, especially after Tony Blair was pictured miming a guitar solo on an invisible instrument when he was meant to be pretending to run the country.

And I guess that’s a bit like saying your artificial flowers died because you forgot to pretend to water them. Daft or what?

So I wasn’t surprised when playing air guitar topped a list of the most uncool hand gestures revealed in a survey of 12 to 26-year-olds – known as Generation Z or Zoomers.

And the Gen Z know-alls involved in this particular survey also reckoned a double thumbs-up was a bit cringeworthy too – a gesture strictly reserved for semi-senile old codgers like me. It came second on their list although, once again, I can’t say it’s a gesture I ever use.

But apparently, I’m showing my age and being about as uncool as a pair of hand-knitted, woollen mittens if I call for a bill in a restaurant by writing an imaginary cheque in the air. So – guilty as charged on that one.

Not many of this smug bunch of Gen Z smarty pants have ever used cheques so the gesture means nothing to them, according to the survey report.

The skull emoji, meaning dying of laughter.

And we’ve got to stop using smiley-faced, happy emojis to personalise online jokes and funnies too, I’m told. The new way to indicate laughter is to post a skull, which means “dying of laughter”. Yeah, right.

So, entering into the spirit of things, I’ve come up with a new emoji to post whenever the Gen Z lot annoy me. It’s got the usual happy yellow face but with a finger stuck up one of its nostrils. I call it the “You’re getting right up my nose mate” emoji.

The “You’re getting right up my nose mate” emoji.

Time for a Harry-free day?

Prince Harry’s headline revelations of drug taking, family feuds, fights with his brother and sexual exploits with older women seem to have been about as welcome as a hat pin in a condom factory.

Is Harry off-key?

Even the BBC TV drama Happy Valley attracted a million more viewers than Unhappy Harry’s ITV interview with Tom Bradby, which went head-to-head with the popular crime series for prime-time Sunday evening viewing just over a week ago.

Someone once said that common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by the age of 18 but Harry seems to have acquired rather more than most. He has monopolised the media with his ‘poor me’ ramblings for far too long so a special Harry-free day is long overdue.

January 31st seems to be available in the ‘special days’ charts – apart from already being National Backward Day in which we are encouraged to do everything backwards. (Honest – check it out.)

So I’m going to take a step backwards, away from any mention of Harry and his weirdly off-key world on the 31st. It may not halt his ceaseless hatchet job on the royals but I’ll feel better ignoring him and the dubious content of his best-selling book for a dedicated 24 hours.

‘Second thoughts’ Starmer

Second thoughts seem to have become something of a speciality for Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer.

Sir Kier ponders his opinion

His policy U-turns are executed with all the drama of a Formula 1 racing driver. One minute he’s speeding, full throttle, towards banning the NHS from ever using private sector capacity. Next, he’s insisting that private medicine has always had a role to play in the health service.

And it’s the same with his 2020 pledge to defend free movement within the EU. This was reversed with a screeching hand-brake turn in November last year when he described free movement as a “red line” he refused to cross.

A Tory spokesman said Sir Kier’s changing position “proves he’ll say anything if the politics suit him”, while even Labour activist and Guardian columnist Owen Jones said; “This is shameless stuff.”

And anyone who saw Sir Kier on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kueunsberg show last weekend might be forgiven for thinking his suggestion that we should all by-pass our GPs and refer ourselves directly to specialists if, for example, we have “internal bleeding”, is a little bit worrying.

But let’s spare a thought for the village somewhere which may be missing an idiot.

Honestly speaking

If I’m completely honest, I’m a bit concerned about the way so many people now use the phrase “if I’m completely honest” when they begin a conversation. It seems to suggest precisely the opposite – that they’re not being completely honest.

Someone who knows about these things agrees. Dr Lillian Glass, author of The Body Language of Liars, says; “Phrases such as ‘I want to be honest with you’ or ‘Let me tell you the truth’ can be a sign that someone is trying too hard to convince you of their honesty.”

So, in all honesty, you’d be better off deleting the “if I’m completely honest” phrase from your vocabulary because, quite honestly, it doesn’t ring true. As Groucho Marks put it; “The secret of life is honesty – and if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

[May I suggest we add, “I want to be clear…” to your list? Ed]

Keeping count of Arithmomania

I’ve noticed lately that I count the steps when walking up or down stairs.

Not out loud, you understand, but quietly in my head. And no, I haven’t got a clue why I do it either.

But I’m not alone. Apparently, lots of us count their steps. And not just on the stairs either but when they walk anywhere at all. Some of us even count road signs and traffic lights which, experts say, is a minor form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) called Arithmomania.

But others, like Ludwig Beethoven, prefer to call it an important ritual.

One cup or 50 – and how many beans?

The great composer counted coffee beans – carefully selecting exactly 60 beans for his one “perfect” coffee a day. French novelist Balzac didn’t bother to count the beans but poured himself precisely 50 cups of coffee a day – then probably counted sheep all night to counter the caffeine rush.

I know someone who likes to sniff books, which makes him a Bibliophile – one who likes the slightly vanilla aroma of books. It’s the combination of the paper, inks and adhesives which create the bibliosmia in the nostrils, say the experts.

So if I were to regularly keep a tally of the number of best-smelling, best-selling books on my bookshelves I could probably call myself a Bibliophilic Arithmomaniac. Either that or a
nutter.

[Yeah… no prizes… Ed]

Cashing in on Friday 13th

Still on the subject of long words to describe weird phobias, lots of people had a particularly tough time last Friday because they suffer from Paraskevidekatriaphobia. And that, put simply, is a fear of Friday 13th.

Friday 13th – frightening for many.

It seems to be a worldwide problem with many hotels deleting their room number 13 and pretending there is no 13th floor – jumping from 12 to 14 on the lift buttons.

Quite a few airlines, including Ryanair, Iberia, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates and Lufthansa, have no 13th row on their aircraft either; although I have never heard of a crash where only row 13 got taken out.

And there are cost implications. Last Friday, January 13th, saw European flights an average 39 per cent cheaper with UK flights down by 19 per cent, according to the travel search engine Kayak – despite the fact that pre-weekend Friday flights are usually in high demand.

So the dreaded Friday 13th can be very good news for travellers.

But it’s Friday 17th that sends shivers down the spine in Italy. The date in Roman numerals is XVII which, when re-arranged, is VIXI which translates to “my life is over”.

I’m not superstitious so I’m not bothered by the prospects of a second Friday 13th this year in October. That said, I’m slightly stitious so I’ll be taking some of the traditional Friday 13th precautions, like avoiding black cats and wearing my clothes inside out.

I won’t bother trying to avoid cracks in the pavement as Ockham is a bit short on pavement space. But I’ll try to swerve the potholes instead.

A flooding fiasco

If you’ve been wondering whether to switch from petrol or diesel to an electric car, you might like to consider a motor boat as a third option – especially if you live anywhere near Ockham.

And if you’ve ever seen the movie Waterworld, you’ll understand why.

Grotesque vandalism of felled trees near the A3.

The 1995 film, which stars Kevin Costner, is a post-apocalyptic epic about a future world after global warming has melted the ice caps leaving most of the land covered by water. It already looks that way this week at Ockham Road North (B2039) where flooding has made the road impassable for motorists – along with three or four other roads in the area which have also been closed.

A supremely inactive Surrey County Council Highways says it’s on the case but the casual observer may, perhaps, look towards the grotesque piles of recently felled trees along the nearby stretches of the A3 and ponder the disastrous effects of deforestation on water tables and local flooding.

This looks suspiciously like the shape of things to come but the problem would be massively compounded if plans to build a so-called “New Town” on farmland at Three Farms Meadows, the former Wisley airfield, were ever approved.

“Waterworld 2” at Ockham this week.

The farmland – previously used as a backdrop for the film War Horse – would quickly become an ideal location for shooting Waterworld 2.

But that would assume the area wasn’t already gridlocked by the extra 5,000 cars, and accompanying exhaust emissions, a new town of nearly 2,000 houses would also bring to Ockham and neighbouring villages.

Our very own disaster movie in the making.

Meanwhile, the Affinity water company e-mailed this week – asking me to conserve water to avoid potential drought restrictions this summer.

It’s a funny old world…

Ockham in the news

Following on from a recent Mail on Line news story, the battle to defeat Taylor Wimpey’s “new town” proposals is expected to make a headline or two in the Daily Express today (Friday) or tomorrow.

As always, any coverage will depend on the volume of other news of the day but it seems clear the national press is taking an active interest in the campaign by the Wisley Action Group – WAG – and its supporters.

Thought for the day

Before you enter into any kind of partnership with anyone remember to first make them use a computer with a slow internet connection to check who they really are.

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