Dawn of the Blaggers

Chris Huhne. Remember him?  Former energy secretary?  Once claimed five grand in taxpayer money to have his garden fence painted?  Had his ex-wife take his speeding points, then got sent to prison for it?  That guy?  Well, he had a question on his mind this week, which he voiced via a column in the Guardian.  “Why do people hate politicians?” he pondered.  He ventured his own answer to the question:  “I know!  It’s because of Rupert Murdoch.  Everyone hates him.”

According to Huhne, Rupert Murdoch is the puppet master, and must bear responsibility for some proportion of Huhne’s woes.  Perhaps there’s something in that.  Perhaps Murdoch does spend his days sitting in his lair, controlling all the world via some unimaginable web of intrigue, smearing his genitals in peanut butter and cackling at the mounted heads of all the errant politicians whose downfall he’s ensured.  He’s the Joker, Moriarty and that bespectacled guy from ‘Pointless’ all rolled into one.  And he certainly did have it in for Huhne, after that whole Leveson thing.  Perhaps this was another engineered downfall.

Even if that were the case (and I think it’s quite plausible), it must be said that Chris didn’t exactly make things difficult.  If you do bad, stupid, or criminal things, it’s easy for someone who owns a massive newspaper empire to make you look bad and stupid and a criminal.  It’s not like anyone was fucking framed, is it?  Is it?

Advice:  Yo, Huhne!  Maybe next time you decide to wage war against an immensely powerful media tyrant, you should ensure that you haven’t broken several of the laws of the land you’re supposed to be helping to govern.  Maybe you shouldn’t repeatedly lie about it afterwards.  That way you won’t look like a dick when it’s revealed that you’re an absolute thundering spastiphlange.

Today’s newspapers will undoubtedly be festooned with editorials debunking this person’s asinine dribbling, so I don’t really want to spend too much time doing the same thing (but not as well) here.  I simply want to acknowledge the bullshit and state my opinion:  It’s bullshit.

But it’s not wholly unfamiliar bullshit.  In fact, it brings me more or less to what I had originally intended to talk about, which is blagging.  I suspect Chris Huhne is suffering from a sort of hyper-optimism, where he thinks that people might read his thingy in the Guardian and forget all the stuff about lying and perverting the cause of justice and being a Liberal Democrat.  You might be thinking that this sort of brazen idiocy is particular to this one bloke.  I’m here to tell you, it isn’t.  It’s an ongoing fucking epidemic, and I’ve got front-line experience of it.  He’s only one of many, wilfully steamrollering their way through life, oblivious to the obstacles presented to them.

“Does this rule apply to me?  I’d rather it didn’t.”

“Are you sure this is my fault?  Is it not more likely to be the fault of…someone else?”

“I know I’m dragged up, high and covered in vomit, and I know my name isn’t on the guest list, but this club seems nice and I’d like very much to come in.”

I suppose this is a form of reality denial.  I suppose I’m guilty of it myself; to an extent we all are.

Perhaps you’d like some vaguely humorous examples.  At my work, behind the till, lie an assortment of strange plastic boxes, all computers of varying sorts and purposes.  Now, last weekend one of them decided to die.  In sympathy, another turned on a number of red lights.  A third began to emit an unfamiliar mournful bleeping sound.  As a consequence of this premature death, the tills stopped accepting debit or credit cards. A setback, certainly.  But one that can’t be cured by blagging.  You’d probably think no-one would attempt to do so.  You’d be wrong!

Having placed signs above every pump saying ‘CASH ONLY SORRY’, we thought that this might be enough to get the message across.  While most people were able to read and comprehend the words ‘Cash Only’ (if not the ‘Sorry’ part), a minority still lumbered toward the shop, propelled by some crazy optimism.

“You’re not accepting debit cards?” says one such customer.

“No, sorry” the cashier replies, politely.  “It’s cash only.”

“Aha!” the customer says, a mischievous glint in his eye.  “But do you accept…my debit card?”

Now, if you’re going to ask such a question, I’d expect certain things of your alleged magical credit card:

  1. The card should glow.  To achieve this it could be made of solid gold, or some other gold-like substance
  2. You should not hold the card, neither should the card simply rest on your hand; rather it should float a few inches above your hand and rotate regularly
  3. Some sort of triumphant musical accompaniment would be nice.  Something on brass;  Do do do dooooooo!!!

The card he produced had no such magical properties.  It was not a magic credit card.  Neither was it the boss key to the forest temple.  It was just some battered old Visa.  This happened more than once.

Here’s another example.  A traffic cone (forgive me, but there are people out there that don’t get this, trust me) is a great invention.  It’s there to prevent people driving where they really ought not to.    The traffic cone, in and of itself, is not the fucking problem; rather, it is there to indicate a hazard.  Removing it will achieve nothing.

“Some careless person has left a traffic cone here!  I shall just move it and continue about my business.  What a joyous day this is.  Oh my fucking golly gosh, I’ve fallen into an enormous hole in the world!”

Should you encounter a row of traffic cones blocking access to a petrol station forecourt, your first thought should not be to get out of your vehicle, move the traffic cone aside and drive onto the forecourt as normal.  It should be to go drive someplace else.  If you see one in front of a petrol pump:  don’t be moving that cone and using that pump!  You are liable to be covered head-to-toe in spewing diesel.    The traffic cones are not litter.  They’ve been put there for a reason beyond our personal amusement.

God damn my eyes.  These people – these blaggers – they must be aware of the laws of physics.  It must be that they don’t trust us.  They think these things are done out of malice, or stupidity.  Perhaps they think we were mistaken in putting a traffic cone in front of that non-functioning, lethal petrol pump.

The very best illustration of this phenomenon occurs when the toilets are out of order.  People will wander up to the toilet door, suddenly notice the massive ‘Out of Order’ sign plastered over the door, and stare at it for a few moments before approaching the counter and asking whether the toilet is really out of order.  Again they think we’ve put the sign there for fun?  Are we the world’s shittiest practical jokers?

Well okay, yes.  You got me.  All that follows is my confession.  But bear with me, for my crime is one of such dastardly subtlety that I will have to transcribe the dastardly conversation that preceded it, so you can all fully understand:

“How now, Fiona!”  I ask, having just entered, ready to commence another day’s mischief.  “What madness shall we concoct today?”

Fiona, my co-conspirator, shakes her head.  “I fear we shall never be able to top the scheme of the intentionally-not-accepting-credit-cards-because-we-don’t-like-money.”

“Ah yes,” I reply, wistfully.  “Yes, that plan was really something.”

At the memory, I guffaw maniacally, all the while stuffing my face with stolen pick-n-mix, until Fiona snaps her fingers, silencing me.  I recognise the expression on her face.  She’s had an idea, of the sort that only an evil genius is capable.

“What is it?”  I ask.  By this point, the sense of anticipation is scarcely containable.  I’m forced to hop giddily from foot-to-foot like a demented goblin.

“We shall put a sign on the toilet door!” she announces.

“Oh!” I gasp.  “What shall the sign say?”

“It shall say… ‘Out of Order’!

I frown, momentarily confused.  “But…but Fiona, the toilet isn’t out of order!”

“I know!” she squeaks, beaming from ear to ear.

It’s then that I realise the magnitude of what’s being the suggested.  “Ah!  A lie!”

“Brilliant, isn’t it!”

“Oh, how perfectly wicked!  What a dastardly scheme you have concocted!”

We perform an insane goblin-dance for a good half hour, laughing uncontrollably at one another like the evil geniuses that we are.

After a while, however, I hesitate, and raise a finger of doubt.  “I can see one possible flaw.”

Fiona frowns.  She narrows her eyes at me.  “Yes?”

“What if…”

“Yes?”

“What if some clever person were to see the sign saying ‘out of order’…”

“Yes?”

“…and then ask whether the toilet is out of order anyway?”

“Why would anyone do such a thing?”

“Well, they’d have to be extremely clever to ask such a question.  But it is a possibility.”

“Ah, well that is a slight flaw in the plan, I’ll grant you.  In such a case, we shall have to admit to our deception.  As good petrol station attendants, we may lie in writing, but never in speech.”

“No,” I reply, suddenly solemn as I recall the petrol station equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath. “No, that would be unconscionable.”

“Only the enterprising man who sees through our ruse may use this toilet!”

“Surely such a man does not exist!”  I reply.  The thought is very cheering, and we spend some more time laughing:

“Mwahahahaahahaahaha!!!” she laughs.  “These foolish people who will have to wait until the next available petrol station, which will cause them avoidable consternation!”

“Mwahahahahaahahahaha!!!!”  I agree.

“Silence!” she says sharply.  “A customer approaches!”

The customer wanders through the shop before noticing the sign.  He frowns, and then continues to the counter.  He jerks a thumb over his shoulder, indicating the sign.  “Is this toilet out of order mate?”

“No!”  I tell him, aghast.  “The sign is a lie!  A lie!”

The customer gives a slow, wary nod, and then disappears into the toilet, leaving us sitting behind the counter in silent rage.

“BAH!” Fiona shrieks. “FOILED AGAIN BY THE INGENUITY OF HUMANKIND!  WRITE THE ‘OUT OF ORDER’ SIGN MORE FORCEFULLY!  WRITE IT IN BLOOD!  IN BLOOD!”

So, yeah, that’s how it goes down.  Sorry about that, everyone.  Except you, Chris Huhne.

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