It’s all Greek to me…

This is a phrase that I have heard a lot in recent weeks.

I have a Greek friend and while her English is impeccable, she does struggle with a couple of bits. One day she received quite a complicated legal letter and she said, in Greek, “I don’t understand this.” She then followed it up with the phrase “Είναι όλα τα κινέζικα για μένα.”

The one word I could pick out of that was “κινέζικα” which in Roman characters would be written Kinezika. Kinezika is the Greek word for “Chinese”. Given that China or the Chinese had nothing to do with the letter she received I asked her. I said “Chinese, what has that got to do with anything?”. She replied “It is a phrase we have in Greece. We say “It’s all Chinese to me.” It means that it might as well be written in Chinese because I can’t understand it.”

Of course at this point I burst out laughing and she had no idea why. I of course explained it to her. It turns out that the phrase “It’s all Greek to me” is, ironically, of Greek origin, except there they say “It’s all Chinese to me”. So there you have it. The next time someone tells you that it’s all Greek to them, you can then say that the Greeks say the same of the Chinese.

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The most productive, and in my view the best, way to make an ex jealous

I have never had a relationship end well. There has always been some kind of drama. There are people out there who, upon ending a relationship say “Oh, it wasn’t working out so we decided to go our separate ways” and when I hear that it doesn’t seem to make sense to me. I suppose if they could let go of a relationship that easily then it probably wasn’t worth them being in it in the first place. In the aftermath of a bad break up, there is, at least in my experience, a desire by one or both of the partners to make the other one jealous. I would say that this is a completely normal reaction. The reason I say it is normal is because it is something that I have constantly found.

A long time ago now, maybe seven or eight years ago, I found the perfect way to make an ex-partner jealous.

Background

A couple of nights ago I went to the usual pub quiz with the boys. The night had ended but I still had a hankering for a pint. Plymouth being the way it is, I was still able to get a pint midweek at a bar. Allow me to explain. Plymouth has been a 24 hour city for a long time. If you want a pint at any time, night or day, there are always about four or five places open, any day of the week. I digress. I got chatting to a delightful young lady, and she, along with a couple of friends/colleagues of hers was discussing a choice of dress.

She asked me for my opinion of it. I didn’t know what to say. I don’t know what her frame looks like. I try not to visualise those things when speaking to a young lady. The dress was very revealing and highly sexualised. Anyone who knows me, knows that that sort of thing isn’t really my cup of tea. I passed thirty this year, I’m a Catholic, in some aspects I’m a feminist and while I have a specific opinion of what I would and wouldn’t find attractive on a woman, I wouldn’t dream of sharing that opinion. When a man makes any comment about what a woman is wearing, he really is playing Russian Roulette with five bullets in the cylinder. My mum always said “never make fun of a woman’s hair, clothes or menstrual cycle” and I would said that that is good advice but I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never been stupid enough to make fun of a woman’s hair, clothes or menstrual cycle.

When the girl in question showed me the dress. It looked hot. I could tell that someone like her, wearing a dress like that would draw the eye of all the men in the room. That goes without saying. I saw the photo’s of her wearing it and she did indeed look stunning.

Back to the point. She asked me a question, very frankly. She said “Do you think it will be enough to make my ex-boyfriend jealous?” I have to confess, I was a little shocked. My experience of this young lady was limited, granted, but I thought that her charm, demeanour and looks would be enough on their own to make any former partner of hers keenly aware of their loss. I resolved, but not before the day she wore it, to tell her how I always go about making my exes jealous without the need for such a dress.

Jealousy

Jealousy often drives us to do things that we regret, or moreover things that we will come to regret once the haze of jealousy and anger has subsided. I could indeed share many stories of ex-girlfriends whose actions, driven by jealousy, has caused the break-up of a relationship. Likewise one might think, “I will make my ex-jealous by kissing/flirting with/sleeping with this person.” This is a bad reason to make an emotional connection with someone as it is borne of hatred and not love. Because things done to instigate jealous feelings are usually exacerbated anger, they are almost universally negative. When an ex-partner has been violent with me because of their jealousy, when they have checked my phone or invaded my privacy or my past, I have always pitied them more than anything.

The reason why I haven’t judged them though is that I too have been guilty of those same offences. It’s not for me or anyone else for that matter to judge those who feel jealous. It happens. Don’t get me wrong, I have never raised my hand to a woman in anger, nor would I ever invade a partner’s privacy, but I have been jealous in the past and it has led my mind down those dark path’s but I wouldn’t begrudge another for feeling like that and acting accordingly.

I needed to find a way to channel that though, to focus on it, and soon I found a positive way to make an ex-girlfriend jealous.

The productive way to make an ex-girlfriend jealous

This came about around a decade ago. I was in a relationship with a young lady. By all accounts she was a nice girl but she certainly wasn’t the one for me. We were together for five years. We had a semi-detached three bedroom house in suburban Nottingham, all mod cons, she was a hairdresser, I was a local government administrator, life was good, or if not good, certainly not unpleasant. We even had a couple of cats. I did, however, grow frustrated. Frustrated with how things were. Frustrated and depressed. I constantly felt like I was playing a part in someone else’s life. The relationship, as one might expect, broke down. I’m not in the habit of berating people online, not least because the lawyer in me says they don’t have the opportunity to defend themselves, so let’s focus on where I was at the end of the relationship.

After a while in a relationship, things can get a little stale. I don’t use that as justification for my apathy, but it is difficult to inject passion and excitement into your life if you don’t get that from your relationship. I would idly spend my weekends on the sofa playing PlayStation games, occasionally switching it off for Simpsons or to go to the pub. The week had become a Monday to Friday nine to five affair that offered me no excitement. I had lost all the things I once desired in life. I no longer had any clue as to what I wanted. I’d built my entire life around my girlfriend to the point where I didn’t have any friends, at least not in Nottingham, no interests of my own, no life of my own and my life with my girlfriend has just become a painful laborious slog that I used to fill the time in between trips to Plymouth and an endless plethora of staycations that I used to glean a lot from but that a girl in her early twenties would have found mind numbing and boring to say the least. We were horribly mismatched and by the time I finished with her, I have to admit, I wasn’t much of a catch.

I tried the usual ways to make her jealous afterwards. The destructive ways. Going about with other ladies. Partying. Then about four months after the relationship finished I realised how I was going to handle things. It was a breakthrough, at least for me.

You see, she’d fallen in love with a unique, driven individual who enjoyed a modicum of success. Why not take that to a whole other level while at the same time living out my life as I want to? I knew the information would eventually filter back to her, as these things do.

Part one was to get myself a new job. I had been thinking about this for some time and I needed something that would challenge me and make me successful. Surely if my ex-girlfriend heard that I was doing an important new job, she’d be really jealous and I’d be happy. That’s precisely what I did. I got a job at a business data agency. I got my drive back. Soon the money was rolling in and I was off.

This was me in 2008, a few months after the break up, in my new job. I'd just been given a bottle of moderately priced, non-domestic champagne as a thank you for some recent work I'd done.

This was me in 2008, a few months after the break up, in my new job. I’d just been given a bottle of moderately priced, non-domestic champagne as a thank you for some recent work I’d done.

Of course that is only one part of it. The other is that when a relationship breaks up, the inevitable factionalisation happens. I have noticed this wherever I have been. When someone is in a couple, they both begin to isolate themselves from people they were great friends with when they were single. In addition when have couples friends. Friends that are also in a couple to do couples things with. My only friends independent from my girlfriend at the time were couples friends and without them, I had very little going on. So, I started to massively socialise. A far cry from the no hopers and hairdressers (my ex-girlfriend was a (very good) hairdresser, I grew to loathe them and to this day I will only get my hair cut in a men only barbers) that my ex-girlfriend used to knock about with. I used to do Capoeira, and constantly socialise with old friends of mine that I hadn’t spoken to for years. I consistently found myself in completely different surroundings with completely different people. My new partner lived in Bethnal Green and opened up my eyes to new worlds, new ideas, upcycling me from the rut I had once fallen into.

The constant travelling. The constant moving from place to place. My own home fell into a state of disrepair and I had to move on from that. I ended up in a posh flat. Soon it was Athens, Brussels, Luxemburg, the Runton’s, here there and every.

By the end of all of this, I wondered what the application of my jealousy and revenge was. I’d become a new person, a different person, with a hugely better life and one day, not long after, I was pondering about what her life must be like and how things must be now. I then realised that part way along my journey I had lost the desire to attempt to make her jealous. The changes that I’d made and the life that I’d led since those days in 2008 where I was was stagnant and complacent, those are things that I should’ve done. I shouldn’t have done them with a view to making her jealous, I should’ve done them for me.

This, therefore, is my advice: when you are thinking of making an ex-partner jealous, one way to do that is to give yourself away, show how sexually desirable you are, spread gossip about them and rumours about yourself, but all of that is completely unnecessary and usually negative. The best way to make an ex-partner jealous is to go out there and succeed in the world. Get the good job. Get the travelling under your belt. Meet the right people. To play the short game of jealousy boiling it down to attraction is one thing. To play the long game, to fully realise your potential and live your life the way that you want to live it is a a complete other. To have your ex-partners looking at you six months later or six years later and think “I backed the wrong horse” is not only a better feeling but a lot more productive, not least because you have the fruits of your labours to show for it.

I have a slight confession to make. While I broke off all contact with my ex-girlfriend shortly after the end of the relationship, I can’t really see her being jealous. The reason for this is that she had, at least in her view, moved on to better things, or so I am led to believe. It’s not a life I would have chosen, the settled down, married and kids one, at least not at my age, but she chose that and I believe, if I know her as well as I think I do was that that was what she wanted in her early twenties. Not my thing, but yeah. This is the piece of advice I will leave you on. That is the best way to make your ex-partner jealous. Even when I realised that I needn’t do these things for her, I saw that I needed every bit of self improvement, every bit of personal development, every minor victory and major accomplishment, not to make her jealous but for myself.

The betting shop, the supermarket and perceived child negligence

Today, I found a betting slip. I looked up the result and apparently it was a winner. I went to the shop and it was £1.60 so I put a couple of 50p bets on. Bizarrely, they all won and I’d won about a tenner so I put another slip on for a couple of quid and left it at that.

I then played a joke. I was chatting to the girl in the betting shop shop saying how it had been my lucky day and she agreed. I then said “excuse me, I’ve got to make a call.”

I then stepped away from the counter and pretended to be on the phone. I said “Baby, you’re not going to believe what happened, you don’t need to pick mould of the bread tonight… Yes I am in a bookies, but listen… Hold on, just listen to me… I was on my way back from the pub and I popped into the bookies for a cheeky 50p… No, wait, wait, wait, hear me out. I won a few quid so I can afford get some baby formula on the way home…”

It was at this point that one clerk said to the other “Google the number for social services”

I turned to the cashier and was like “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! It was just a joke. I’m don’t have kids, I’m not even on the phone.”

I’d love to claim this joke as my own but I got the inspiration from a friend of mine.

A friend was having a party about a decade ago. He went around the supermarket and first put a load of things in a trolley. Baby things. He put dummies, nappies, baby formula, wipes and so on in the trolley, family foods, General toiletries, about £40 worth. Then he went to the alcohol section. and put about £40 worth of booze in the trolley. At the check out he said he didn’t have enough money and he said to put the baby stuff back. The look on their faces was priceless. The difference between my joke and his? I told them mine was a joke.

Schrödinger’s Lottery Ticket

My Dad is a sociologist. The world doesn’t make sense to sociologists. I’m a sociologist, or at least I’ve studied sociology.

My Dad once asked me a question. He was actually using it as a metaphor for career choices. He asked me what I would do if I won the lottery. Of course all the usual answers came about, house, car, holidays, seeing my friends alright. I then asked him what he’d do.

He said “I’ll never win the lottery.” I said you never know and he said “No, I do know, I’m never going to win.”
“How can you be so sure?” I enquired.
“Because I don’t play. I’m never going to. It’s a poor tax. It taxes the poor. People don’t play the lottery if they’re already millionaires.” I couldn’t fault his logic. Like most sociologists he can waffle on and talk rubbish until the cows come home, but ultimately he makes sense, at least to other sociologists.

He was actually talking to me about it in the context of career choices and how in life you have to participate with a chance of winning.

An unexpected consequence of what he said is that I now play the lottery.

The reason I play

I don’t play the lottery to win. I play the lottery to dream. I don’t expect to win. I think anyone who does play the lottery expecting to win is a fool. Lotto has odds of 14 million to one. Imagine a raffle with 14 million tickets in it. What are the chances that yours is going to be the one picked? With Euromillions, the chances are 77 million to one.

When I buy a ticket though, I know there is that chance. There is a chance, however small, that I could win and that affords me the opportunity to dream. I like those dreams. I like that hope. I like that belief.

Checking the ticket

I rarely check the tickets. I usually wait a few weeks and check them all in bulk.

Once the draw has taken place, if I don’t know the result, the ticket in my wallet is both a winner and a loser. I know that it is almost certainly a loser but I refuse to stop dreaming that it could be a winner. As soon as I know for sure that it isn’t a winner, then I no longer have the right to dream until I buy another one.

A lottery ticket costs £2 but a dream is something you can’t put a price on.

Game of Thrones and why I can’t watch it

I have tried to be one of the popular kids. I have tried to get into game of thrones. I have tried and I have tragically failed. Every time I have watched a snippet (I have never been able to watch a full episode without falling asleep or screaming at the television in frustration) I have always been able to disseminate what the story and twist will be as it is usually ripped exactly from Shakespeare. The Sun Newspaper, that bastion, benchmark and guardian of all that is culturally important to England, and in particular English literature, points out, time and again, that Game of Thrones is basically Richard II. Later plot lines have been ripped from Henry IV Part 2 and Richard III. It is pointless watching something when you know how the story will finish. It is no longer thrilling. The fact that I stayed awake during GCSE English basically means that this holds no truc with me. How nobody else seems to be able to see this I don’t know.

On social media, people keep coming on my timeline saying “No Game of Thrones spoilers”. I say this, if you don’t want Game of Thrones spoilers, don’t Google “the Wars of the Roses” because that will give the whole thing away.

I imagine when they were brainstorming for Game of Thrones, that it went something like this:

“Right, I’ve got an idea. Of all the Shakespeare plays, the ones that people have read the least are the ones about historical Kings of England and the Wars of the Roses. Why don’t we rip them off and pass them off as an original creation? I mean, we’ll have to juggle a few things, like instead of saying “Now is the winter of our discontent” we’ll change the metaphor to “Winter is coming” or something like that, but essentially, if we take those books and just change all the proper nouns, we’ll have ourselves a winner. Of course we’ll throw in the exciting things that Shakespeare left out like sex and gore, because you know, we’re selling this to the lowest common denominator and they need stuff like that to stay interested and let’s throw in a dragon or two to thicken out the story a little bit but I think that should work. We just need a title, something like “Game of Thrones” only, y’know, not so lame…”

EDIT: On June 5th, responding to criticism about how a lot of the characters get killed off, George R. R. Martin wrote an open letter in which he said that Game of Thrones is a toned down version of Shakespeare. It’s very interesting. Click here to see it.

Why is it so difficult for women to maintain normal composure in photographs?

Aah, the selfie. There was a time when having your photo taken was an exceedingly rare and special event. I think photo’s  are very special. Philosophically, when that shutter opens, when that photo is taken, we can do what man has dreamed of doing ever since he could first conceptualise it, we have stopped time. For that brief click, for that split second, for the fraction of a second that that shutter is open, we have taken that time and frozen it.

I suppose it used to, when it was a bit more rare, it made us feel special. It made us feel like someone loved us that much to want to take a photo of us. The last relationship I started with a girl before the advent of the camera phone (which I put at 2005) was in 2004. I went absolutely crazy with buying camera’s and taking photo’s because I wanted to immortalise that time of my life, and looking back, even though the situation didn’t turn out to be everything that I wanted it to be, I’m so glad that I captured that moment in my life.

Then we fast forward to the age of the smart phone. The photograph is disposable. If I don’t like a photograph I can take it again. I take photos of things I don’t care about. I take weird and wonderful snaps. This has led to, in my opinion, the most meaningless of all photographs, the selfie.

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Before I go any further, let me explain what a selfie is. A selfie is an exercise in narcissism. It is when someone takes a photo of themselves, not for themselves but because they want others to see it. They share it on Facebook, or Twitter, or snapchat, or instagram, all for the vain purpose of seeking validation.

One would think that as a Catholic, I have a massive problem with this. To a certain extent I do. It is vanity and I think it secretly belies a latent insecurity. People post it because they want the likes, the shares, the comments. My opinion isn’t going to change that. It is deep seeded in human nature. One key to human evolution is that humans gathered together in packs for support and protection. I also think in an increasingly isolated and individualist world, it’s only natural to want to seek out people to enter a “pack” with and the sole remaining vehicle in which we can communicate with each other, social media, we find a useful medium. Even though I level this criticism at the selfie, I don’t say in blanket terms that that is the main objective. I think it is all about context. I think that if someone is looking unusually smart, or on a night out with friends, or in a situation they want to capture, fair enough.

There is however one thing that I don’t understand about selfies. Why do women find it impossible to maintain a normal composure when taking a selfie? I have never understood it.

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Bank Holiday Sunday in Plymouth is a “thing”. It’s a tradition where everyone goes to the Barbican, which is the quay area of Plymouth, and goes around the pubs. I had a friend from Northern Ireland who’d come over to Plymouth to study and I suggested taking them out on Bank Holiday Sunday. We’d had this discussion before on St Patrick’s Day about girls and selfies and such. A few friends and my mum turned up so I asked her to take a photo of me. My phone not only has two cameras, but also a specific “selfie” function on it. It’s a HTC Desire 610 if that is something that appeals to you. Nonetheless, after she took the photo of me and my mum she took a selfie doing the “pout”.

I couldn’t understand why girls always pull this face when they are taking selfies. My mind boggles whenever I see a girl do it. I can understand when they take a photo at a weird angle, or deliberately try to get cleavage into it, or their figure or whatever. That I can get. You never know, today might be the day that that footballer/millionaire/famous actor might drift on to your instagram page and it will of course help him to fall madly in love with you if you are accentuating the parts of your body that he may like. I get it. I don’t like it. I’ve seen those body parts before on other women. They’re generally all the same and it unsettles me as to why a woman would take a photo like that (as if her body, rather than her core, her identity is what she’d want to “sell” herself on) but I get the theory behind it. What I don’t get is the pout face.

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I don’t see men pulling the pout on the rare occasion that they take a selfie. It doesn’t happen. I realised that men in photos maintain a normal, natural composure. Using my powers of deductive reasoning I turned to my mother. I noticed that it is only women that do this and also that my mother is a woman. She also has Facebook, the internet and a smart(ish) phone so I figured she’d know what I was talking about.

I asked her and she said “I know. Why do they do that? I can’t understand it either. Do you ever see X’s Facebook? Or Y’s Facebook? It is absolutely packed with selfies. Not only do all the photos look exactly the same but also they are starting to get wrinkles from doing the pout that much. I’ve got two and a half decades on them and my face doesn’t look like that.”

This is why I ask the question. I don’t understand why girls pull that pose because there is never a situation where they would generally look like that. It baffles me as to why they do it. I have asked girls why they do it, why they pull that face and the answer I keep getting is “Just because…” I never have a coherent, contingent or comprehensive answer to that question. Why is it impossible for girls to maintain normal composure when taking a selfie? If we rationalise it for a second, it actually seems kind of weird. If a woman had that sort of composure in any given normal setting, I would think there was something wrong with her. I would probably think she had a medical condition of some sort.

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I suppose that if I know I’m not going to get a straight answer to the question, then why ask it? It is nary more than an exercise in futility. I suppose the reason why I am so desperate for an answer to the question is because I want to change the mindset.

I admire, adore and worship the female form. I think it is a beautiful thing. I have not yet found a woman that I don’t find attractive in some way or another. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not a letch. I’m a practising Catholic, so while I find girls attractive (and in many cases it is reciprocated) I don’t chase after them. In my celibacy, (well, not quite celibate, but still to most women I am) I have a whole new appreciation for women and how they look. I like natural, I don’t like make up. A nude woman is a beautiful thing, and that is what I like. I like to take photos when a woman looks natural. This is why I don’t understand why a woman would scrunch up her face, into a pout and take a photo with her camera raised so people can see down her top. I wish they wouldn’t.

Here’s a tip for women. You’re beautiful as you are. You don’t need to cake on the make up, make silly poses and take photos at weird angles. I don’t know why women can’t maintain normal composure in selfies and photo’s but my guess is that if they did, and the real them shone through like it is supposed to do in a photo, that would attract more likes than taking silly selfies.

So what really happens when you drink milk and orange juice at the same time?

This morning I woke up with hangover.

I’m not the sharpest of characters and can be quite dumb at times. I usually shoot a litre of orange juice to be a hangover, but today, I felt like drinking milk. I know this sounds stupid but I genuinely thought chasing a pint of milk with a pint of orange juice would kick it. Now, in fact, thirty seconds after I realised how stupid I’d been.

At the time, it seemed like a completely reasonable thing to do. Obviously now, I realise it was stupid.

What to do

I googled what to do in such a situation and there is no answer other than orange juice curdles milk.

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The offending article.

The problem is that there are a wide variety of opinions of what is going to happen and what to do ranging from a slow and painful death due to gas build up or nothing at all. I went to seek medical attention.

I can tell you exactly what will happen and what to do because I was stupid enough to do it myself. Take heed.

What will happen is you will get a really bad stomach ache. This is because the orange juice curdles the milk when it is in the stomach. A terrible stomach ache. You will pass loose, pale stools and feel waves of nausea like you have never felt before. You will feel it pass through you, terribly. It comes out thoroughly acidic and it hurts, but all of this pain only lasts about four to six hours and afterwards everything is ok again.

You don’t need to see a Doctor but you need to rest. Try and drink plenty of water. Stick to toast/bread after that until things become better. There should be no lasting effects.

If you Google milk and orange juice, don’t trust what you see. You can trust me because I did the genius thing of actually doing this. Don’t do it, but if you do, don’t worry. It’ll be a rollercoaster ride but it is just temporary. There’s no need to panic, by I suppose the best thing I could advise you to do is not to be as stupid as I was making the mistake in the first place

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