Thursday, November 27, 2003

Sometimes, you just want to scream, don't you? You don't? Okay, I shall ignore you and concentrate on those readers with a pulse.

As I sit here writing this, not a foot away from my left hand there stands a can of Zippo lighter fluid. On its reverse is written, admittedly in small letters...

Highly flammable. No! You don't say! Flammable lighter fluid...whatever next.

Harmful if swallowed. Phew! That was a close run thing, I was just considering whether or not it might make a novel mixer for the Bols Vodka someone so very kindly gave me today.

Do not use near fire or flame. This for those of us who don't understand flammable, I suppose.

Anyway, that's an aside. What really switched me to rant mode today was a little item on Hungarian radio this wet and dingy morning. They aired a warning for anyone with coronary complications that there was a warm front on its way and that the subsequent change in pressure could bring on all sorts of pulmonary problems.

Now, just take the trouble to read that again. Please.

The facts are indisputable. Cases of cardiac arrest, coronary infarct and the like do indeed rise on such occasions but to broadcast that? I mean, what!

Maybe I'm missing something here. Perhaps it was a reminder not to fail to take advantage of one of the many ambulances provided on such occasions to run the front as it were, pedal to the metal in an attempt to outrun or outflank the thing.

Or perhaps it was an alarm. Sorry guys, weather control satellite just got bumped by a massive dose of solar radiation and instead of diverting warm fronts to plague the cardiacally chronic of Romania, is ushering them your way at warp speed.

Just what was the point of it? Other than to alarm those who may be affected? What are they going to do? Or maybe everybody has a decompression chamber these days. My guess is that the government has run out of things to slap a health warning on and would quite like it if our paranoia were extended to a fear of the weather.

We can't be trusted you know. Not even with our own kids. We have to be told on the quite transparent packaging that something contains small parts and is not suitable for children under three. Four year olds apparently, can go hang.

The leaflet I received along with a toaster I purchased recently warned me against trying to prise loose any recalcitrant slices with a knife or other metal object without first disconnecting it from the mains.

And my chainsaw. Do not operate when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Oh, right. As one who was once stopped by the police at four in the morning on a deserted highway riding my motorbike home with a three quarters empty bottle of vodka stuffed inside my leathers, I can vouch for the fact that drunks don't think, never mind read labels.

I'm also really grateful to all the food processing companies for including the phrase 'serving suggestion' alongside pictures of their foodstuffs. I was always intensely disappointed when after adding the requisite amount of boiling water, a place mat, three slices of wholemeal bread, a generous garnish of fresh parsley and a glass of red wine would quite inexplicably fail to materialise alongside my mulligatawny.

So, have we really become so stultifyingly stupid as to need all this? Or is it that we have become so used to nothing ever being our fault that the companies have to treat us this way to avoid being sued? Either way, it still makes me want to scream, projectile vomit or at the very least aim several kicks at the nearest inanimate object.

Which reminds me of a story I read somewhere. A woman had run out of petrol on a motorway and ended up trying to sue the police for being late in arriving to assist her and being impolite when they eventually arrived.

Now, on the phone to the police in the first place she had admitted that the petrol guage in her car was in the red and showing empty. But you see, it was a new car and in her old car that always meant she had a few gallons left....

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but would not a more honest reaction be "I fucked up. If I had a brain, I'd be dangerous. If the police demonstrate some slight resentment at being dragged out to help such a complete tit as myself, then it is no more than I deserve."? But no, somebody else is to blame. It's never my fault.

I forget exactly who it was who said, "I know exactly what's wrong with the world today. It's me."

He was quite right, you know.

Anyway, if you have been, my solicitors will be in touch.

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