Continuing my week of audio-only Dollops. This evening we were in the pub celebrating The Young’uns very own Michael Hughes’ birthday. It got to about 11pm, and still today’s Dollop had not been recorded, and so here is an emergency drunken Dollop recorded from the pub. But don’t worry, because despite this being an emergency, drunken Dollop, my natural wit and creative flair will obviously more than adequately carry us through.
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This week, I am releasing audio only Dollops. download it here although be warned, as the title suggests, it does get rather intimate.
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This week is a crazily busy week for me, and so, rather than sitting at a laptop and writing today’s Dollop, I thought I’d unwind by going on a walk. And I thought it would be nice to bring you along with me. And so we walk together through rural Suffolk, and along the way on this audio adventure, we come across some unusual things taking place in the shrubbery. To find out what’s lerking in the bushes, as well as hearing a story about something that happened to me today concerning nipples, Download today’s audio Dollop here
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Today’s Dollop is very much brought to you buy the word Alcohol, and was recorded in the pub after our Springwatch recording.
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Tomorrow I will be doing a recording for the BBC TV programme Springwatch. When I first heard from the BBC about this, I assumed I’d been asked onto Springwatch because they’d heard my walking audio Dollops, and perhaps wanted me to recreate the magic of those walks, only for a wider television audience.
Unfortunately, my big presenter break hasn’t happened quite yet, because it turns out that the other two Young’uns have been asked to be on the show as well.
Originally, we had been asked to be on the One Show, as part of BBC Music Day, which is Friday 3 June, but unfortunately we aren’t available that day, so we had to turn the One Show down. But they were still quite keen to do something with us for BBC Music Day, and so we ended up being asked to do a recorded appearance for Springwatch, and tomorrow is the day we record.
Obviously, because it’s a nature programme, there has to be some link between our presence on the show and the subject of nature. They asked us whether we had anything that might fit the show’s remit, and obviously we said yes. I mean, we don’t, but we were hardly going to turn down the opportunity to be on the telly, just because of such a trifling little matter as being clueless about nature. We’d have said anything just to get on the telly. We’d have happily pretended to be devout Christians if Songs Of Praise was in the offing. We’d have told them that we were passionate Josiah Wedgwood aficionados if someone from the Antiques Road show asked us to come on. As long as we’ve got enough time before the show to have a cursory read of Wikipedia, we should be fine.
So, tomorrow we shall be recording our appearance on Springwatch, singing a song, and chatting about our music and how nature plays a part in our music and how it inspires us creatively. I mean, it doesn’t really particularly inspire us creatively or factor in our music at all, but we want to be on the telly, and so we’ll happily make some lies up in order to get on. To be honest, the biggest link we have to the remit of the programme is the fact that I am named after a bird. Yes, my uncle had a much-loved parrot called David, and they named me after him. Hahaha, you see what I did there?
We are recording the programme at 6pm, and so there is still time for us to swat up on some facts about nature. If anyone has any little nuggets of nature information or jargon that we can maybe throw in, to help us seem like as if we’re more knowledgable about wildlife, then feel free to leave a comment.
The programme is the spin-off show from Springwatch, called Springwatch Unsprung, and will be broadcast on BBC Two at 630 pm on Friday 3 June. So that’s two things you’ve got to look forward to in June now: The Young’uns on telly, and even more excitingly, my audio Dollop visiting the Co-op shop. Yes, the month of June is really hotting up.
Obviously, if anyone from the BBC is reading this, I am of course only joking about our lack of nature knowledge and our general irrelevance to your programme. I am pretending to be ignorant for mildly comic effect. Don’t worry, on the night, you will see that I am fully clued-up about wildlife, and it won’t be a case of us coming across as clueless, bumbling idiots, making tits out of ourselves. Of course, on the subject of tits, I could regale you for days. Whether it be the Blue Tit, Willow Tit, Marsh tit, or my particular favourite, the European Crested tit. Although we’ll be lucky to see a European Crested Tit where we’re recording, as it chiefly resides in the ancient pinewoods of Inverness and Strathspey in Scotland. It is uncommon for the Crested tit to stray from these locations, although, there have been some rare sightings in England, so you never know. But anyway, I don’t want to bore you with my vast bird-based knowledge. The point is, as you can tell, BBC, you have nothing to worry about.
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Regular Dollop listeners and readers (I feel as if you should be given a collective name, maybe Dollopees – suggestions welcome) will be aware that there are a number of recurring elements in these Dollops. Obviously each Dollop is unique, innovative and different (especially Dollop 140 – am I right Clair?), but within the Dollop framework there are a number of themes and characters that keep cropping up, so much so that it might be worth putting a glossary section on my website so that newbes can look things up if ever they think there might be a reference or in-joke that they don’t get. Then, if I ever make reference to kettles or teenage pregnancy league tables, they’ll be able to understand what the heck is going on.
As well as the many recurring themes, and of course the classic catchphrases – “I wouldn’t imagine it would taste very nice” – There’s all the regular characters who pop up: the aforementioned Clair, Chastity Payne and her tattooed nipple, Mavis Crumble (inventor of Mavis Crumble’s Fart Game), pedantic Jools, and sex obsessed Chloe.
Among the reoccurring themes and characters, is Michael Wackington’s passionate extolments of the co-op. Ever since I mentioned shopping at Sainsbury’s (my nearest supermarket) Michael has been trying to promote the virtues of the Co-op. Since I have been, albeit fictionally, banned from Sainsbury’s, this gave Michael the perfect opportunity to once again sell the Co-op to me (not literally, I’m not making that much money from folk; I might have to up my fee a bit, maybe ask for more money, and tell them that I’m happy to lose the standard sacrificial goat in return). But anyway, he’s not suggesting that I buy the Co-op, only that I buy from the Co-op. Here is Michael’s latest comment.
“I have just returned from the Co-ops agm in Manchester where it was revealed that in the autumn Co-op Members will get 5% of all own branded goods plus an additional one percent for a local community project. It will be worth your walk to the co-op now plus it will be great opportunity for you to conduct your social, good morning /good afternoon / good evening experiment.”
Well, Michael, even though my ban from Sainsbury’s is really just a fabrication, done for mildly comedic purposes, I think that I shall nevertheless reward your persistence and thus venture to the Co-op the next time I need to shop. And fear not people, for I know you are all interested in gcand excited by this development, I will record my Co-op-based adventure for the Dollop. So it looks like we’ll be going on another walk together soon, and I’ll once again be playing the “good morning” game, perhaps with the extra drama of doing the game at 4pm as opposed to 3pm (I’m always evolving, always innovating). I might also introduce my idea about asking people for the time, once they have said good morning, and then, once the time is given, say “good morning” to them again and see whether they still respond with “good morning.” But that will only be one element of that day’s Dollop, because there is even more excitement.
One of my reasons for shopping at Sainsbury’s, other than it being the nearest supermarket to me, is because it is a big store and they have staff on hand to help me around the shop. So, another element of the Dollop will be to record my time in the Co-op, meaning that you get to experience the drama unfold live, as I ask the Co-op staff for assistance. But the question is, will they live up to their name, and be cooperative? There’s only one way to find out: you’ll have to listen to the Dollop!
Unfortunately, you’ll have to be a little patient, because I’m away from home until the 5th June, so it’ll probably be the Monday after next when this special Dollop happens. If you’re a particularly busy person and you’re not a Dollop regular, make sure to mark the date in your diaries so that you don’t miss it. Monday, 6 June, Dollop 157.
Well done Michael, unlike the salesman who came to my door today, you know that to sell something to someone you need to have commitment, fortitude and be passionate about the product. And that my friends, is me linking very neatly and effectively to the next thing I planned on talking about today. This is the kind of slick writing that comes with the sort of experience you get when you write 146 consecutive daily blogs.
This morning, the doorbell rang. That’s right Dollop nerds, the weird haunted doorbell, as talked about in Dollop 33. In fact, the doorbell also sounds a bit haunted now, because the batteries are dying, meaning that the pitch of the tune drifts up and down in a strange spooky sort of way. It’s quite a long doorbell ring, about fifteen seconds, and it’s rather loud too. Often we’ll answer the door, long before the doorbell has finished its deafening, spooky tune, meaning that, for the first ten seconds after answering the door, we can’t actually hear what the person on the other side of the door is saying.
“Today, I answered the door just after the door bell had finished, to find that the man who’d pressed the doorbell was walking back up the drive. He saw me open the door, and turned back around, saying that he’d assumed there was no one in. But he’d waited less than fifteen seconds, which seems like a very short amount of time to stand there before deciding that it’s a lost cause.
The man explained that he was a salesman from Ringtons tea, and that they were visiting people’s houses to see if anyone would be interested in the Ringtons tea delivery service. Then, before I could say anything, he added, “I’m really sorry to bother you, and I understand it’s not for everyone, so I’ll leave you be,” and began to turn away.
I was so shocked by his diffidence and lack of confidence, that I nearly called him back to tell him that I did want to avail myself of the Ringtons tea delivery service. But then I considered that maybe this was his clever tactic. He was being an anti-salesman, pretending to be all shy and nervous, in the hope that it would blindside people into signing up to the scheme. So I let him walk off, and closed the door.
But a part of me was interested to know why he’d been so sure that I wouldn’t want his tea. Did he take one look at me and assume that I couldn’t afford it, possibly like the shop assistant in Sainsbury’s with the Muesley did, as mentioned in Dollop 9 (remember that Dollop nerds?)?
Or does this man think that he’s got a special power that allows him to deduce whether a person likes tea or not, just by looking at them? But he was wrong, because I do like tea. If only he knew that I am a big fan of tea, and have even written a song about it. If only he knew that one of the recurring themes of my daily blog/podcast has been kettles. Unless maybe he was aware of my Dollops, and assumed that it was pointless trying to promote his tea to me, thinking that, regardless of his sales pitch, I’d still just imagine that it wouldn’t taste very nice. So he decided not to bother trying to convince me.
Of course, there is another potential reason why he wasn’t particularly pushy about selling tea to me, which immediately sprung to my mind. You might have instantly thought of this yourself already. Maybe he’d seen the recent anti-rape video published by Thames Valley police, which uses a cup of tea as a metaphor for sex. In order to illustrate the point about sexual consent, it uses the analogy of giving someone a cup of tea. For instance, it explains that, if you offer someone a cup of tea and they accept then that is fine. But if you offer them a cup of tea and they don’t accept, then you shouldn’t force them to drink the cup of tea. There are a number of other scenarios outlined in the video. If you offer someone a cup of tea, and they accept, but then, once the kettle is boiled and the tea has been poured, they suddenly decide that, actually, they don’t want a cup of tea after all, then it is not fine to force them to have the cup of tea. Or, if you offer someone a cup of tea, they accept, but then once the kettle has been boiled and you’ve poured them the tea, they have fallen asleep, it is not acceptable to wake them up and force them to drink the tea, or try to force the tea down them while they are sleeping. The moral of that story is get a better kettle that boils faster, rather than relying on a stupid kettle which is controlled by a pointless phone app and takes ages to boil because it keeps getting disconnected from the WIFI network (which, as Dollop nerds will recall, we discussed in Dollop 38).
Maybe the Ringtons salesman saw this video, but for whatever reason never made it to the end, and so didn’t realise that the cup of tea element was just an analogy for sex. Maybe he wasn’t aware that it was an anti-rape video, and thought that the police were cracking down on anyone who tries to thrust tea on people. Given that this is the nature of his job – to persuade people to buy tea, using a variety of sales tactics – maybe he freaked out and lost his bottle, and so is now terrified to pedal his tea in fear that the police will arrest him. I guess we’ll never know the real truth.
Well, we’ve covered a lot today, haven’t we? I’m exhausted. I think I need a cup of tea.
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I was in my usual Sainsbury’s again today – I know, it’s been far too long, and I’m sorry, as I’m aware that many of you listen and read these Dollops mainly in the hope that there’ll be another anecdote from Sainsbury’s just around the corner, but instead you have to put up with me blabbering on about revenge porn and eccentric martial arts practitioners. The lady helping me around the shop was someone new. We got chatting a bit, and she asked me if I had any plans later this evening.
It’s only now when writing about this, that I’ve realised that this might have been her propositioning me. At the time, I just took it as trivial small talk, but perhaps I’ve just inadvertently rejected the woman who would have been the love of my life. Perhaps by unconsciously spurning this woman, I am responsible for the death of one of more people. For all I know, me and this girl might have had children, but now, because of my inability to read her subtle come-on, I have destined them to never being born. And what if one of those children would have grown up to discover a cure for all the world’s diseases, or find a solution for world peace, or a way to eradicate the effects of climate change? Oh dear, what have I done? Hang on, I think I best pop back to Sainsbury’s, and make sure that she wasn’t asking me on a date. I don’t want to be haunted by the notion that I might be in some way responsible for future global disease, warfare and ecological disaster. I’ll be back.
OK, I’m back. It turns out that she was just making trivial small talk. Still, it’s a weight off my mind. At least the world’s problems don’t lie at my door any more, if anything, it’s down to her, as now she’s rejecting me, potentially dooming the world to all sorts of untold horrors. I tried pointing this out to her, but she freaked out and called security who escorted me out of the shop. So, I might have to walk those extra couple of miles to shop at the co-op after all, Michael.
The trouble is, in a trivial small talk situation with a stranger, it’s difficult for me to know the kind of answer to give when someone asks me a question about my life. If I was to give a truthful answer to the shop assistant’s question, “do you have any plans this evening?” then the answer would be so unconventional and odd that it kind of transcends the general parameters of the small talk framework. We are merely passing a tiny amount of time, a few seconds in between walking to find the next item. It’s difficult to truthfully answer her question in the few seconds we’ve got. The purpose of this small talk is merely superfluous, requiring basic, general kind of chat.
If I was a normal person, then my answer might be something like, “I might just watch a bit of TV and chill.” But my life is a bit weird, and so if I was to give an honest answer to her question then it would be: “I’ll spend an hour or so writing up the conversation I’m having with you right now, over-analysing it in immense detail in the hope that it will be funny and entertaining for the few hundred readers of my daily blog and listeners of my daily podcast. I’ll then do some work for a DJ set that I’ll be doing a folk festival in August. Currently I’m mixing Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars with Northumbrian pipe music. How about you?”
“Er, I just thought I might watch a bit of TV and chill.”
I found this kind of odd conversational exchange would happen quite a lot when I had an office job. I was so out of touch with the subjects that everyone else was chatting about. “Did you see X-Factor over the weekend?” “what about the football?” And I’d completely draw a blank. Everyone in the office would say what they’d been doing over the weekend: watching x-Factor or strictly, going to the football, shopping, taking the children out … Then it would come to me and I’d say: “I got drunk with loads of Dutch, German and Polish sea shanty singers in Holland.” And oddly, even though I think that all that is pretty interesting, it would kind of put the kibosh on the conversation, because it wasn’t relatable.
So when the shop assistant asked me what I was doing this evening, I just told her that I’d probably watch a bit of TV and chill. It’s just a lot easier, especially when you’re just talking in brief statements, in between walking to the next isle to get the next thing on my shopping list. But maybe if I’d been honest with her and told her about mixing Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars with Northumbrian pipe music, she would have found me more interesting and might have been more amenable to the idea of a date. Hmm, maybe I should pop back to Sainsbury’s again and tell her. I mean, it would be a shame if the only thing stopping us from having our planet-saving children is that I lied about my evening plans. What if it turns out that her three favourite things in the whole world are Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars and Northumbrian Pipe music? I might be her perfect man, and she’ll never know. Maybe the world might be saved from ecological disaster, disease and warfare after all. Hang on, I’ll be back.
OK, I’m back. Yes, it looks like I’ll definitely have to make that two mile walk to the co-op now. She told me that I was a weird stalker and called security again. As I was being dragged out, I tried to explain to her that I wasn’t a stalker, and shouted to her that she’d understand everything if she went to my website, where I’ve written all about her and our meeting. To be honest, I’m not sure that this statement really did anything to put her mind at ease, in fact it probably just corroborated her opinion of me as a weird stalker.
Well, it’s true what they say: careless talk costs lives. For if I had chosen my words more carefully, then I might have got married to this shop assistant, and went onto have children who may have been responsible for saving our planet. But more importantly, in this instance, careless talk also costs nectar points, as now I’m unable to cash them in, given that I’ve been banned from shopping at Sainsbury’s. I hope you heed the moral of this story my friends.
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Today’s Dollop is an audio Dollop
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On Friday I wrote about the neurosis caused by trying to think of something creative, interesting and funny to publish on the Internet on a daily basis, which is the purpose of this daily blogging project. I mentioned that it was often difficult to know what will go down well with people, and sometimes I am surprised to find that a blog I’m not so sure about gets a really positive reaction, and other times I create something which I think is amazing and it garners very little attention. Often there is just no knowing how your audience will receive you and how much of an audience your work will gain. I have hundreds of people who listen to and read these Dollops, and overall, I think this project is going reasonably well.
But yesterday, something happened to bring out my neurosis once again, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt it particularly acutely yesterday. I’m sure that, just like me, millions of writers, broadcasters, comedians, artists, musicians, PR people and countless people working in the media, spent yesterday scratching their heads, feeling lost and confused. The cause of this head scratching and confusion? It’s a viral infection. A Viral infection that has its roots in Texas, but has rapidly engulfed the planet.
Perhaps you’ve been infected by it too. At the very least, you’ll likely know about it. On Thursday, a Texan woman called Candace Payne, posted a video on her Facebook page. She had just bought a Star Wars Chewbacca mask, she put it on, and began to laugh hysterically at the sounds the mask was making, and the way the mask looked. That was the crooks of the video. She posted it on her Facebook page purely to amuse her friends. Two days later, that video smashed Facebook’s record for most viewed video, having been watched by over 91 million people.
91 million people! That is more people than live in the UK. The most popular UK radio show is the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show with Chris Evans, which gets 10 million listeners. The most followed person on Twitter is Katy Perry, who has 88 million followers. This woman (a stay at home mom from Texis) has had her video watched by more people than the number of people who follow Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Barack Obama, and countless other celebrities onTwitter.
These major pop stars which I’ve just cited have had millions of dollars thrown at them in order to create their music and their videos. They have legions of people responsible for things like branding and marketing. They have people working with them to write and produce their songs and videos, to style them and think about their image. Their PR team does all it can to create a buzz around them. They are given media training, often told what to say and how to act. Because that is what you have to do to be massively popular. Yet here is an ordinary woman, a complete unknown person as of three days ago, who makes a four minute video of herself in her car, two minutes of which simply consists of her laughing hysterically, and she’s suddenly the biggest thing on the planet right now. She is doing interviews with major media,. She makes it onto news networks all over the world, including the BBC.
It is believed that the biggest selling album of all time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, sold 66 million copies. More people have watched this ordinary woman’s Chewbacca mask video than the number of people who bought the world’s biggest selling album.
A part of me is horrified by this. There are so many talented people agonising over their creations, who are creating the most wonderful things: radio and TV shows, theatre productions, songs, podcasts, blogs … There are so many amazing comedians and musicians and artists out there who will never get anywhere near the recognition or audience that they deserve. So many people struggle to get noticed above the tumultuous noise of everything. Yet, somehow, a loan woman in Texas, without any forethought, sits in her car, presses record on her phone, pulls out a Chewbacca mask and begins to laugh hysterically, and the world goes mad for it. No marketing, no branding, no script, no artistic direction, no PR, no years of honing her talent, no real disearnable talent, skill or ability … Nothing!
I suppose there is a part of me that is a bit aggrieved that I’ve spent everyday this year trying to think of interesting and entertaining things to put on the Internet, and yet I have an average of about 3 to 400 people reading and listening to each episode. The Young’uns Podcast gets about 2000 listeners per episode. And somehow, this woman puts on a mask, laughs, and gets over 91 million people watching. However, as well as being baffled and a bit aggrieved by the amount of people who’ve watched the Chewbacca mask video, I am also excited and joyous that this kind of thing can somehow happen. The weird capriciousness of it all is wonderful. There must be so many PR and marketing people utterly bamboozled about this. And these are the top dogs of the PR world, who know all the buzzwords and blabber on about brand awareness and the importance of running a campaign that is synergistic. Yet even they are left completely flustered about how an ordinary woman with no profile or brand equity, or any of those PR and marketing props, has managed to gain such notoriety overnight. And that is crazily and hilariously beautiful. It is so uncynical and pure; unless of course the whole thing was very cleverly engineered by a PR team, in which case it is terrifying and depressing. But it’s lack of any external influence, and complete absence of any formula, rime or reason, makes this whole thing so incredible and exciting.
all this woman wanted to do was share her happiness and laughter with her friends, and the world wanted to join in. The word is crying out for authentic, unpretentious, none-branded, unfiltered, unbridled fun, that exists purely in and of itself, with no strategy or marketing/PR formula. Because life is full of people trying to sell us products, trying to market things at us, wanting to ram their agendas down our throats. Maybe this could be the planet’s great moment of awakening. The end of capitalism! Yet, alas, this woman will no doubt be snapped up by some advertising company to sell products, be paraded on TV chat shows and be the next big thing. Her laugh will be sold as a novelty ring tone, they’ll release a novely pop record that features sampes of from her video, with the sound of her laughing to a dance beat. She will be the biggest thing on the planet. Until, eventually, inevitably, the tabloids will start writing scandalous stories about her – “Candace Payne, the real woman behind the mask.” She will be slandered and defiled, meaning that she becomes unmarketable, gets unceremoniously dropped by everyone, and consequently falls into a life-long depression, while everyone forgets about her and moves on.
Meanwhile, the same writers, musicians, artists and comedians will still be doing their thing, completely unknown by the majority, but loved and valued by a precious few, and if I can still be one of those people, all those years later, then I will be very happy.
Thanks for reading. I know this has been a bit of an unfunny, uncoordinated jumble of thoughts. In fact, I think this might have been the first Dollop without any jokes. Feel free to leave a comment if any of you did manage to spot a joke or anything funny in today’s Dollop. I tell you what, as a reward for persevering with this boring drivel, why not treat yourself to watching a hilarious video of a woman wearing a Chewbacca mask and laughing.