Archive | 5:21 pm

Where’s the beef?

24 May

I can’t motivate myself to write anything political at the moment. What with Blair’s futile attempt to enjoy a self-aggrandising exit, there is little to write about as we move closer and closer to the summer silly season (then at least we can point and laugh at Ming at the conference).

There is political news of course. But reports that the Home Office is in crisis again, hardly register on the scale anymore. The Home Office is crippled, and if it were a horse, we’d have taken it out back and shot it. “It’s for the best,” we’d shrug as the vacancy of death clouds its eyes.

Quite why any politician would accept the Home Office brief is beyond me. Imagine it. Brown invites you to Number 10 the day after he becomes PM, and explains why exactly he thinks you have the capabilities to manage one of the most difficult offices in the land. What the dour Scot is actually saying is: “swallow this pill, and tomorrow you’ll wake up to see your picture on the front page of The Sun, only you’ll have a
turnip for a head. Oh, and the whole country will hate you.” It’s professional suicide.

So, to be honest, I haven’t really had the inclination to write anything particularly political this week. Maybe next week’s crisis at the Home Office will be more inspirational?

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On catching flies

24 May

We all have strange talents that are pretty useless for the most part, and one of mine is an uncanny flair for catching flies. Whether you think that is pointless or just gross is immaterial, the point is, at this particular task, I’m probably better than you. So there.

When I was a teenager and I was courting some youthful girl, there was always some given moment when this talent would come in useful. A pesky fly would be hanging around her window, or pitter-pattering across to a tasty pastry my young associate had her eye on. Swooosh! And I had caught the fly. I’m not sure what primeval role I was fulfilling, but we both knew I had satisfied some sort of archaic need on her part to be protected from a quarter-inch winged shit-muncher. Now it was her opportunity to satisfy my need, my need to put my hand up her shirt. It’s anthropology, I guess.

But first I would be faced with a predicament. Either I let the fly escape out of the window, or I could destroy it. For a few seconds I am God. I have life in my hands, and I can decide in a heartbeat whether this small life is extinguished or not. Usually, with the amazed girlfriend watching, I will display a modicum of clemency and throw the fly out of the window, yet on other, more darker days, I may send the poor captive down the sink in a gush of tap water (well, I have to wash my hands anyway).

You may be wondering how I came to have this talent.

It’s not about speed or necessarily reflexes; although 20-years of Nintendo probably mean I’m pretty sharp in this regard. No, the real key to catching flies is in the technique.

I have watched these annoying bastards for hours. They’re predictable and nowhere near as clever as they like to think they are. But remember, the skilled flycatcher is cunning and bides his time.

You need to assess your environment. If the fly is on the curtains, then it’s game, set, and match to the flycatcher. Quickly move your open hand, horizontally across the surface of the fabric, and catch the fly from behind. You can, if you’re remarkably skilful, just lightly push at the fabric with your hand, which at speed leaves the fly suspended in the air before it can open its wings (you have sort of removed the ‘ground’ from under it). When you feel the fly’s wings against your palm, in an instant close your hand.

I’m not sure if catching the fly from behind helps because of some limitation in their peripheral vision, or whether it’s to do with the way they take off, but trust me, it’s much more successful.

The correct technique for the closing of the hands is equally essential to the adept flycatcher. Smacking the fingers and palm together, or having the target miss the palm, is likely to result in ‘wetness.’ No one, especially when showing off to a nubile young netball player, wants to have green entrails smeared across their hand (especially when you have rather improper intentions for the said hand later).

One must close the hand swiftly but leaving a tight channel inside for the fly to be caught. Don’t worry about it being airtight. That’s not important. It’s likely that the fly will be nipped and caught anyway – alive, but unable to escape.

If the fly is on the wall, one must use the same technique of moving the hand – horizontal to the wall’s surface, and catching the fly from behind. It’s less reliable than curtain hunting, but easy nonetheless.

When you have mastered these styles of hunting, you may feel confident to try mid-air fly catching. This is a skilled art, and one that certainly impresses an audience. Mid air fly catching requires patience, speed, and vision. You are not catching the fly where it is, but where it is going. Watch it fly. Learn its path and style. And quickly, moving the hand from the shoulder outwards (straightening the arm) to the point of connection. The same hand-closing techniques as above should be employed.

You need to anticipate the fly’s direction and velocity, and meet the fly a few inches from where it was when you first began your attack. The ideal distance for closure is just before the arm straightens, so any follow-through doesn’t affect accuracy. Practice is required, but it shouldn’t take long to master.

Once you have become an accomplished flycatcher, you will feel calmer with the world around you. You will exist in a Zen-like state. No longer can these annoying diminutive air-born vermin get the better of you. You can command your environment without resorting to chemicals or the captivating alchemy of ultraviolet fluorescent fly killers. No, you belong to a more noble tradition with roots in a better, more honest age.

You are the flycatcher.