Only in RL! [Archive]

Strange days indeed…

As John Lennon once remarked. Real life can be every bit as bizarre as Second Life – in some ways, more so, since when weirdness occurs, it seems even weirder because it’s, erm… real! Although, it does have to be said that an awful lot of the bizarreness and weirdness that does occur in real life is usually down to the stupidity and weirdness of real people.

Here then is an archive of the bizarre, odd and utterly stupid, preserved for posterity, so that when our descendants stumble upon this blog, sometime in the distant future, they’ll wonder how on earth humanity managed to survive even this far.

14th March 2014

internetThe internet and technology are wonderful things, or at least, they would be if they weren’t so stupid – artificial intelligence can’t come soon enough for me, because the rather lame excuse we have for ‘smart’ technology at the moment simply doesn’t make the grade.

Most of us have suffered at the hands of a misinformed, or downright useless satnav but what that little box stuck to the windscreen of your car can do, the internet can also do, only far, far better. Let me give you an example i came across recently: you know how the internet tries to be all friendly and cosy by making ‘suggestions’ and giving handy hints to give you the illusion that it’s a friendly auntie trying to help out, rather than the ravening, flesh-eating monster that wants to rend you from here to kingdom come? Well, sometimes those friendly missives are so far off the radar of sensibility that you can’t help wondering how anyone can possibly make any money off the .net at all.

It was a recipe that i’d looked up, having seen it somewhere on a cookery programme – all good, so far. Helpfully, the site i was visiting thought i’d like to know where i could buy all the ingredients:


“Ooh, smashing!”, i thought, “A new store, i’ve never heard of.” The address wasn’t ringing any bells, so i thought i’d best look it up, before jumping in the car and popping along to see what they had…coles2

Oh… that’s stretching the definition of ‘near’ just a little too far, if you ask me – best make sure i have plenty of fuel.

It could have been far worse, as i was to discover on my further travels around t’internet, which it seems has a far wider reach than ever i previously realised:allworlds

Crikey… orders from all worlds – i imagine the shipping costs to Neptune might be a little on the high side though!

Let’s stick with the web for a moment – it’s always puzzled me that something that is so fundamentally about communication is so fundamentally borked when it comes to communicating? This is particularly blatantly obvious when it comes to errors, for instance the utterly hopeless sl homepage error:

errorHelpful, huh? Then again, some sites go overboard when it comes to being helpful. Take friendly old Youtube:

aCapturei gave up after the first page – can you imagine reading that lot out to tech support?

Sometimes the communication is perfectly clear, it’s just the message has lost a little something in translation:

teapotPerhaps that’s not all that surprising – we know web developers tend towards the bonkers end of the spectrum; but there are some institutions that you expect to get it right, first time, every time. Sadly, that no longer seems to be the case  – the following list of headlines, which all appeared on the same day, do give me cause to wonder whether the work experience lad had been given free run of the place, whilst everyone else went down the pub – have you not heard of grammar, reason or proofreading, dear Auntie Beeb?

unnamedAt least the three Billy Goats Gruff will know who not to befriend on FB, if nothing else! Whilst we’re on the subject of the English Language, the Beeb seem determined to re-invent the language to suit their own needs. Take this story on buried Spitfires, for example:electoral

Electoral conductivity? Well, they’ve got my vote.

To be fair to the BBC, they’re not the only institution that should know better, but doesn’t; the venerable newshounds at ITN seem to be lacking in the old grey matter department too – still, it was an easy mistake to make…


That’s one for the family album!

And that’s me done until next time – let’s be careful out there!

s. x


7th February 2012

When it comes to sampling different foods from across the globe, i’m a complete sucker – i’ll try everything and anything apart from sprouts, (although i’m tempted by chocolate-coated ones!), and i’ll frequently try to recreate – with varying degrees of success – my particular favourites from the far-flung corners of the globe.

There’s always a problem when trying to make something that originates from several thousand miles away – some of the ingredients are pretty much impossible to get hold of, (i’ve been trying, it seems forever, to find a local supply of salak, one of my favourite fruits of all time), and although some ingredients are available in dried form, nothing beats fresh, in my opinion.

One of my big favourites is Thai Tom Ka Gai – chicken in coconut milk soup, so when i came across an authentic Thai packet mix, i just had to give it a go. Unfortunately, i hit a bit of a stumbling block when trying to follow the instructions… i simply had no idea where to get one of the ingredients…

…Do not use hot or cold water? What other type is there? This one has me stumped i’m afraid; so until i can find a supplier of this special Thai, non-hot, non-cold water, i’m going to fall back on my own home-made recipe. If you fancy trying it yourself, here it is. i should warn you before we start, it’s quite involved but well worth the effort:

Seren’s Tom Ka Gai
Ok, you’ll need all this – if you haven’t got it all, just use what you have but it works best with everything! Please don’t ask me for measures or quantities – i just make it up as i go along!

Chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized chunks;
A tin or carton of coconut milk;

Poach the chicken gently in half the milk until it’s a bit cooked, now comes the fun bit!

Dig out that mortar and pestle that someone once gave you as a present and you’ve never used it since and get grinding:

Black peppercorns;
Fresh green peppercorns – if you can get them;
A star anise or two;
A chopped stem of fresh lemon grass, or some dried bits if you can’t get fresh;
A chunk of finely chopped fresh galangal, or dried will do;
A squirt of fresh lime juice;
Some coriander seeds;
A couple of kaffir lime leaves;
Some dried , flaked chillies, if you fancy them;
A squirt of fish sauce;
A squirt of lemon or lime juice;
A dollup of palm sugar, (brown sugar will do, at a pinch)

Now, get grinding – really grinding – until your wrist aches and your shoulder is calling you names. When you have a nice paste, you can stop. Then pop it into a dry pan, (the paste, not your shoulder!), and gently heat it through to release the flavours – please don’t burn it! Whilst you’re doing that, get chopping –

Spring onions;
Mushrooms – big beefy shiitake, if you can;
Fresh coriander leaves (cilantro for you Americans);
Fresh chillies – lots of them – go on… leave the seeds in, i dare you!

Now, chuck everything in with the chicken, including the warmed spices, and top up the coconut milk – stir and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, then you really must taste it.

Too salty/sour? – Add more palm sugar; Too sweet? – A dash more fish sauce; So hot it makes your eyes water? – It’s just right! (Ok – i’ll let you add some more coconut milk). Bland? – Good grief, how many ingredients did you skip? Try a few more fresh chillies.

Now serve with chopped Thai basil (or holy basil), generously sprinkled on top, sticky rice with sweet chilli sauce and a glass of iced jasmine tea. Heavenly! Let me know what you think. 🙂


12th December 2011 – It’s been a while since i last posted here, which either means that the world is gradually becoming saner, (unlikely), or i’m not getting out much, (sympathy please!).

Am i the only who thinks the world is getting somewhat fish-obsessed lately? Back in the day, it was strictly goldfish in a bag from the local funfair and cod in batter with chips in a newspaper. Nowadays, any supermarket fish counter offers everything from Anchovy to Zebra Shark, (no doubt hunted by Lion Fish!). Sashimi has replaced the humble sandwich as packed lunch and ‘treated’ shrimp skin is used in just about every cosmetic from hand creams to lipsticks… but you probably didn’t want to know that!

Perhaps one of the more interesting ways of exploiting fish – well, why not… they work for free – that we’ve started to see more and more frequently in the West is fish pedicures and even fish spas… but i’ve never seen anything quite like this before:

Yes, you read it correctly… Tuna massage!

The trouble with this type of advertising is that there’s simply not enough information given for a brain like mine to process properly what it is that my eyes are seeing…

Are we talking about a massage being administered to the hapless victims by a six-foot, humourless, Scandinavian Bluefin, in a bad mood because he’s only recently been dredged from the bottom of the north sea and pressed into service as a masseur. If so, then maybe it should come with a government health warning: ‘Being slapped by a cold, wet fish is angling for trouble’.

Perhaps it’s slightly more prosaic than that… maybe it’s your standard non-pisciform masseur, only heavily armed with a loaded tuna. Somehow, being slapped by a large fish, wielded by a qualified masseur also doesn’t inspire me with much confidence either, (especially if they forget to take it out the tin first!)

Maybe i’m completely wrong… oh goodness, this is where we enter the realms of ‘very bizarre indeed’ – could they possibly be inviting passers-by to part with a fiver for the pleasure of pummelling a large fish? The mind boggles! Of course, it could be quite therapeutic to thump the living daylights out of a wet tuna, although i’m not sure the fish would agree – but seriously, have we really come to this?

Whatever next… snake massages?

S. x


5th September 2011 – People really ought to take a bit more care when they’re preparing notices that are going to be seen by the world in general. It baffles me how little thought people can put into things that are going to be the forward-facing parts of their business and i’m equally puzzled by the way in which signwriters are quite content to blithely reproduce exactly what they’ve been asked to by the customer – nobody ever seems to do a sanity check, (or even a spell check, at times), before producing an end product.

The end result can often be unintentionally humorous or can raise questions about exactly what you’re going to be getting from the business… Like the sign i spotted, walking through town at the weekend – ‘Personalised funeral Orders of Service’: Perhaps it’s just me but can it be that there are people out there who’d be perfectly happy with a completely impersonal funeral service?

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of a recently departed dead person, the much-loved relative/friend of those of you here today. They were born at a young age, following which they grew up and did many things, some of which will be fondly remembered by many of you. Now, they are sadly departed.”

“We’ll conclude our service with a random collection of possible favourite hymns and songs that should appeal to a wide and varied audience”

It doesn’t really work for me, i’m afraid.

Moving on to a distinctly more happy occasion and, quite possibly the best bargain you’re likely to ever see…

Yes, indeed! What a fantastic package, not only do you get to keep the wedding dress but they’ll throw in the 3 bridesmaids as well! What a great start to married life – you could recoup the cost of the wedding by auctioning off the bridesmaids on eBay, or you could just keep them on for odd jobs around the house.

Finally, there’s nothing that says more about a business than the care with which they publicise themselves. You’d think that the cost of signwriting on your fleet of vans would be incentive enough to make the effort to get it right? More importantly, you’d imagine that you’d know how to spell the locations that you traded from? i guess this particular firm thought they’d just trust the signwriter – Mr Gump – to get it right:

(For those of you not au fait with the area, ‘Forest of Dean‘ doesn’t normally come with extra R’s!). The company in question happens to be a blind fitter – i’m tempted to think that they employed a blind signwriter in this particular instance.


18th August 2011 – Only in good old Blighty would it rain so much in the middle of the summer holidays that flash floods would result; no doubt, blizzards are just around the corner! In the midst of all this meteorological mayhem it’s nice to be able to find a little ray of sunshine to brighten the day in what is turning out to be a pretty rotten summer.

i spotted this on the BBC website… nothing funny about Bournemouth, even a flooded Bournemouth, you might think and you’d be right, (i have distinctly unpleasant memories of a night spent under canvas in Bournemouth, without a sleeping bag and inhaling paraffin fumes from a lamp somebody had thoughtfully left next to my face, without screwing the cap on – happy days!). It wasn’t so much the video that caught my eye, rather the name of the person who filmed it… couldn’t be more apt!

Moving on from from flash floods to a rather intriguing notice i spotted in my doctor’s surgery. Whilst we’re on the subject, why is it that noticeboards in doctor’s surgeries are always so shabby and covered with handwritten notices, apparently scrawled by 3-year olds? Anyway, the particular notice in question was a somewhat alarming revelation to me:

Yes folks, if you’ve got wax in your ears, you might well be pregnant! Don’t imagine for one minute that Q-tips are going to help either!

S. x


16th July 2011 – i’ve been hanging on to the image on the left for absolutely ages, hoping that one day i might find a fitting post for it, but knowing, deep down inside, the chances were pretty slim. Well, whaddya know?… today’s the day my foresight has been rewarded!

Cutlery is one of those strange Western ideas that’s never really caught on anywhere else – in the greater part of civilisation, the only utensils required for the consumption of food are those with which nature has seen fit to endow us – our fingers, (on a slight tangent, does anybody else find the expression ‘finger buffet’ slightly disturbing?). Moving up the scale, a large proportion of the world’s population resort to the most basic of tools – effectively a couple of sticks – to aid the tricky business of transferring food to the mouth.

Such simplicity is not enough for those enlightened foodies of the Western hemisphere – we have developed a fiendish complexity of eating implements and, to go with them, a vast array of cutlinarian etiquette and foolishness designed, it seems, to defeat the whole purpose of sitting down to gorge upon a decent repast. The Brits even have their own cutlery police – you’ll find them in any restaurant, dressed in their smart tuxedos, with tea-cloth draped over forearm, they sneer disapprovingly at you as you fumble with pretty much an entire cutlery drawer spread before you. Woe betide, if you select the wrong knife to go with the wrong dish – the wrath of the entire kitchen staff will be wrought swiftly and without warning, as you find your insalata caprese served with a flourish and a goodly dressing of phlegm, hawked up by everyone from the sous chef to Sommelier in due retribution for your crime. For goodness sake, never commit the cardinal sin of confusing the soup spoon for the dessert spoon – who knows what unmentionables might end up on your plate?

Negotiating this nickle-plated nightmare is tricky enough at the best of times, but it seems that it’s simply not enough for my local homewares store.

All these years, it seems, i’ve been stirring my tea with completely the wrong implement! i dread to think what i’ve been carving my steaks with – oh, the shame! Then there’s the rather ominous little advertising slogan in small print… ‘Get stuck in!’ – is that some sort of a threat? Yikes!

All this cuttleried confusion brings to mind a short ditty by Ogden Nash

‘I eat my peas with honey, I’ve done it all my life;
It makes the peas taste funny; but it keeps them on the knife!’

I’m off to the police station now – they’re having a spoon amnesty and i have a few i need to turn in!

S. x


14th June 2011 – Hi! i’m guessing you found your way here from the daft post over on the ‘other side’, (y’know the sl page – don’t let on, they think that rl is an illusion over there!).  If not, then how the heck did you find your way here? Actually, that’s a question i’m often asking myself!

Here you go, then – i’ve never really paid much attention to those clothing care instructions but, very occasionally, when i have something i don’t particularly want to shrink, turn pink or consign to the land of Persil for ever and a day, i’ll have a quick squint at the label and attempt to do as i’m told… i do wonder sometimes though whether it’s worth the effort – take this label, for example:

Erm… what exactly am i expected to do here? Am i machine washing or hand washing; or perhaps i have to hand wash, immediately following the machine wash? Maybe i’ve got it completely wrong and i’m being told to wash my hands after washing the clothes?

That’s the easy bit… what the heck does ‘Cold Wash Sepersiely’ mean?

So, we’ll skip that one, which brings us to… bugger, after all that machine and hand washing, now it’s telling me i should have gone to the drycleaners!

That leaves me with a wet – probably ruined – garment, which now needs drying. Helpfully, the label sternly tells me ‘Do not tumble dry’, then promptly changes its mind… tumble dry on a low temperature should be just fine… what the hell, throw caution to the wind and turn it up high – why stop there? How about gas mark 6 for 40 minutes, or until well browned?

Well, there you have it, one machine-hand-dry-cleaned-non-tumble-tumble-fried-cold-washed-sepersiely garment! What’s that last symbol; ‘Do not wring’? – what are we talking here, the manufacturer’s neck? My hands in grief?

i give up, i really do? Why can’t clothes in rl be as simple to care for as those in sl?


21-May-2011: i spotted this in the supermarket a while back. i did toy with the idea of whipping out my ‘phone and grabbing a quick snap, in situ – but it was rather crowded and i would have felt a bit of a dork taking photo’s of cat food, i have to admit. So i’ve cheated a little and nicked a pic off the web.

What sort of sick world do we live in, when you can buy ‘Kitten Meat – in gravy’… the poor little cuties – just look at the plaintive plea in his kitten eyes: “Pwease don’t eat me, I’m only liddle!”. Somehow, knowing he’s preservative free doesn’t help and ‘no artificial flavourings’ just makes it all the worse, (you get kitten, whole kitten and nothing but genuine kitten goodness). So, if you fancy a change for tea tonight, how about a nice helping of kitten meat with duck in gravy, perhaps with a side helping of green vegetables? Nommy!


20-03-11: A couple of eating-establishment themed pictures from my travels for the gourmands amongst you. The first caught my eye as a half-glimpsed sign that caused me to do a double-take and almost fall off the pavement. A second look was a little more re-assuring but i admit to being too scared to pop in and sample their wares. i had visions of scantily clad waitresses in bondage gear, offering to handcuff me to the table and whip me with sausages – if i wanted S&M for lunch, i wouldn’t be choosing a pavement table either… call me a prude if you want but that’s just creepy!

Whilst on the subject of dodgy eateries, from a completely different perspective, would you really want to take a risk on a meal from the ‘Good Luck Takeaway’? i’ll have a number 58, with side dish of botulism please, along with a bag a prawn crackers!


06-03-11: Occasionally i get one of those terribly interesting publications through my door that the local authority seems to think i really should make the effort to read. You know the kind of thing.. news about bin collections, fancy projects to spend taxpayer’s cash and information about community events that nobody will ever support.

These hold a strange fascination for me – i find it very hard to put them straight into the bin and find myself avidly reading them from cover to cover. The latest one was no exception, however, this time it was almost worthwhile…

There, in the middle of some ‘hints and tips’ about how not to turn up at casualty unless you’re on the brink of death, was this handy advice:

Now, i know times are hard, but it’s sad thing when the NHS advises you that the best self-help for minor injuries is to dig your own grave!  Presumably they’ll expect you to build your own coffin in the process? i can just imagine the scene at A&E…

Me: Can i see someone about this cut, please?
Receptionist: Is it serious?
Me: Well, it is bleeding quite a lot.
Receptionist: I’m afraid you’ll have to go back home; dig yourself a grave and wait until gangrene sets in. Once the poison spreads to your heart, simply fall into the open grave. A man from the council will come and cover you over when they empty the bins.

You can see the logic behind it – no waiting lists, it’s cheap and no extra burden on the NHS!

i quite literally did a double-take when i saw this van… are these guys for real?


27-02-11: We’ll kick off with something i stumbled across on the Wonderful Weird Web just today. It was one of those things you have to enter letters into to prove you’re a real person and not a bot…

Now, all seems in order doesn’t it? Take another look at the line that begins, “If you’re visually impaired…” – surely, if you’re visually impaired to the extent you can’t read the security code in the large font, you sure as hell won’t be able to read the titchy small print that tells you what to do if you can’t read it… or am i expecting too much here? Not so much a case of the blind leading the blind, rather the terminally stupid leading the blind, if you ask me.


1 Response to Only in RL! [Archive]

  1. err as ive recently entered the world of the visually impaired, got to agree with you on that one 🙂

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