I’m Learning a New Language. AREN’T I BETTER THAN YOU?!

Despite life being meaningless and the overwhelming fact that we’re living on a dying planet, I’ve recently found myself in one of those periods in which for some random reason, I’ve been trying to self improve. This has mainly taken the form of me embracing the challenge of learning a new language. Well, I say, ‘learning a new language’, but all I’ve really done is download the Duolingo app and spent my breaks in work weirdly mouthing such completely necessary sentences as, “the dog eats rice” and “the rhinoceros has a horn.” Undoubtedly, these are sexual euphemisms that are only spoken in foreign climates by bored business men. In fact, if I’m ever abroad and hear someone utter a sentence about a ‘rhinoceros having a horn’, I’m sprinting to the nearest airport. Pronto.

Admittedly, I am still at the really early stages of using Duolingo so I don’t want to judge it too harshly, but the lessons are full of similar bizarre impractical sentences about ‘giraffes reading newspapers’ and ‘socks not speaking English’. I did initially wonder if I had accidentally chosen a setting in the app that was specifically for people with brain injuries. But no, that’s just how they do things in crazy old Duolingo world.

Now you might be thinking, “which language have you taken upon yourself to master, Paul?” Perhaps it’s a language of a country that you one day hope to live in? Maybe a country that you visit on a regular basis? On both of these assumptions you’d be incorrect. I simply went to my old friend Google and asked, “what is the easiest language for an English speaker to learn?” A couple of articles later and I am now a student of Dutch. My inherent laziness not stretching to the next five hundred articles explaining that it’s pretty much a waste of time because almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks English.

Brilliant.

Upon receiving this knowledge you would assume that I stopped learning Dutch and found a more practical language to learn? Again, you’d be painfully incorrect. You see, whoever designed the Duolingo app ingeniously designed a streak system which once started makes it incredibly difficult to abandon. In fact, I’m currently on an impressive forty one day streak and now spend most of my days worrying about losing it. I can only imagine what my streak anxiety will look like if I one day make it to a significant three or even four digit number.

As I mentioned earlier though, I have been forced to sneak off on a number of occasions to a quiet area in work in order to fit my practice in. A couple of weeks back now, I found myself alone in the changing rooms with my headphones in and repeating back in English the sentences that were flashing in front of me. In hindsight, I was definitely doing that thing people do when they have headphones in and began shouting back the sentences at a volume that was inappropriate even at a football match, nevermind a workplace. Anyway, there I was screaming back in a mixture of English and Dutch when this sentence appeared, “Ik ben een vrouw. ” I confidently highered my speaking voice and bellowed repeatedly the English translation, “I AM A WOMAN, I AM A WOMAN, I AM A WOMAN.” Then out of nowhere, I felt a presence watching over me. Out the corner of my eye I could now see the shining bald head of the security guard slowly making its way around a corner. As our eyes met he dashed away, clearly thinking he had discovered a bearded employee who was in the courageous first steps of a gender transition.

I’m trying to better myself and there I was becoming a talking point at that man’s evening meal with his family.

Anyway, I must admit, I’m now five weeks down the line and my motivation is beginning to seriously wane. In the first week I downloaded the app I was averaging about thirty five minutes per day testing my new skills out and reading over Dutch newspapers. However, like most of my fads I’m decreasingly spending less and less time on it and before I know it I’ll be back to being a little Englander who slowly open mouths sentences to far superior people when ordering beers on a city break.

Does anyone know the Dutch for, ‘stop being an ignorant lazy fuck?’

Prince Phillip Is Dead And The Country Has Gone Mad.

The magic of the internet means that for some crazy reason, people as far away as India have decided to read my blog. It’s insane to me that some bloke in Mumbai now knows about my pathetic hair line and my recent bout of diarrhea. But that often means I avoid talking about topical news stories in the fear that my writing won’t be accessible to them. However, I’m going to break that habit this week and talk about something that happened in my country that is historically quite significant – the death of Prince Phillip.

Now, I have to be honest from the start and admit to not being a royalist. It’s such a backward, archaic institution. Nobody should be given a palace or deemed important enough that other human beings have to bow down to them because of some sort of weird concept of hierarchical vaginas. The very idea of hereditary privilege props up and justifies a whole class system that keeps people trapped in poverty. It’s disgusting. But this isn’t a blog about my objection to the monarchy.

And on a human level, it’s incredibly sad. I can’t imagine being in love with someone for seventy plus years and then that being taken away from you.

When me and my girlfriend initially got together, she stupidly ended things with me after about three weeks and I consequently cried directly into a pillow in my mother’s box room for 48 hours straight. If it wasn’t for my charisma and her fear of being a single woman in her thirties with a biological clock incessantly whispering in her ear, we might never have flourished into the absolute power couple we are now.

Point is. I can’t fathom the amount of sorrow and grief that The Queen must be experiencing right now. However, the response of the British public, as with all major royal occasions, is absolutely baffling to me. And that is what I shall focus on.

Take the media coverage on television. Now television is my usual place of salvation. I find it incredibly soothing. It’s my comfort blanket. However, my comfort blanket has now been violently ripped away from me and is being used as a shit rag by distraught subjects devastated by the death of a man they never knew. It is literally wall to wall coverage. And don’t get me wrong, I understand why it needs to be reported on. I get the historical significance. But the vast amount of coverage means that most of what we are being tortured by is nothing but filler. The news stations are currently finding a conveyor belt of village idiots to relive their boring dinner party tales of that fleeting three minutes they were in the same company as him.

TV currently looks a lot like this…

“So yeah. I said this incredibly bland and inane thing to him and then he said some incredibly bland and inane thing back to me. And then, to my absolute surprise he then moved on to my colleague who managed to say something even more incredibly bland and inane. But no, despite not knowing him at all and him not knowing my existence, he was a really nice chap.”

A lot of these loyal subjects are also getting incredibly offended by other people’s indifference or jokes that are in bad taste. I have an elderly family friend who I saw on Facebook replying in disgust to a mocked up picture of Queen Elizabeth on ‘Tinder’. “THIS IS DISGUSTING. UNFOLLOWED.” A poor, arguably unfunny meme, I agree. But this was the same person who sent me a meme last week with the caption, ‘When you visit the book store and can’t find your books…” Where’s the joke you might ask? Oh. The book store in question was a chinese store apparently called, ‘No Fuk In Books.”

And why are people mourning him? He was a NINETY NINE year old man who lived in absolute privilege for the entirety of his life. He won. He hit the life experience jackpot. If you’re royally inclined you should be celebrating his life. You should be in the streets popping champagne. If statistics are to be believed and my dreams are never actualised, I’ll likely perish is my seventies after working in call centre/office environments for almost half a century. Mourn me. A man who spends most of his waking hours sat at a desk with his hand in a sharer bag of processed crisp.

In fact, I’m going to get in touch with the BBC right now and request that in the event of my death, they contact my colleagues so they can repeatedly tell that hilarious story about the time I sent something to the printer without realising the printer was *actually* turned off.

It’s about time there was enthralling content that could challenge the incredible tales we are currently being entertained by.