Have you ever noticed how all laptop manufacturers put the brand name upside-down in relation to the right way to open the pc? One can’t help thinking that this reflects their arse over tit view of life in general. The thing is, my instinct is to get the word ‘Acer’ the right way round, and then open the laptop. But the aberrent instinct of those inside the Acer bubble (and HP, and Toshiba) is to do the opposite.

There is very obviously something about the wiring of geeks that sets them apart from the rest of us. Perhaps the chasm between us and them could be bridged if they stopped using Chinese circuit boards.

Beware of geeks displaying rifts, that’s what I say.


The same possibility does not apply to the folks who market flame-producing apparatus, and the refills without which they would have no business model.

We’ve been persuaded in recent years that gas-powered oven/fire lighting equipment is the superior hip-hop-happening successor to good old fashioned matches. 99% of them are of course made in China, but I have to say, on the whole, I am a fan. What I’m rather less enthusiastic about is the means to refill the gas reservoir of the flame producers.

They come in spray cans, which claim the nozzle under the cap will fit “all known makes of­ gas lighter”. The cap itself has – moulded into it – seven variations of connection nozzle. This of course means that (unless you’re very lucky) it could be some time before you stumble onto the right one. And while you are stumbling around, an awful lot of gas goes out, not in. I suspect you may already be onto the neoliberal repurchase rationale here.

The Italian cooker/oven having given up the ghost on automatic lighting soon after purchase, I bought a new manual lighter in a local market, and then (when the flame died after two days of usage) went through the refill nozzle-choosing ritual. The first two connections I tried backfired liquid fuel with enough volume to enable pain-free amputation of my right arm. The next one emptied the refill but didn’t refill the lighter.

I bought more refill canisters. A fourth connection attempt sent me into cryogenically suspended animation, but when I awoke 7,000 years later, the flame producer was still in an ongoing no flame situation going forward.


Today, I rang my French bank and asked if they wouldn’t mind explaining why one of my standing orders for service bill payment had been refused. Being a Premier Card holder, I get to talk to someone civilised as opposed to a Jihadist in Algeria. The conversation went like this.

Bank person: Well, there were no funds in your account.

Me: Yes there were. A very large sum was transferred last week.

BP: But you didn’t tell us that.

Me: It’s not my job to tell you, it’s your job to pay attention.

BP: Well, as a matter of fact, we did. We tried to ring you, but your phone was out of order.

Me: No it wasn’t.

BP: Yes it was. I have the record noted here.

Me: No, it wasn’t out of order, I was cut off.

BP: Why?

Me: Because you refused payment of the standing order.

BP: Of course we did – you didn’t have sufficient funds.

Me: But it says in my Premier Card contract that you will give me prior warning if funds are too low.

BP: How can we do that if your phone has been cut off?

Me: There’s a new thing in town. It’s called email.

BP: But you ticked the box saying you’d prefer to be reached by phone.

Me: Yes I would, when it’s working. But you knew it wasn’t.

BP: No we didn’t, we just didn’t get any answer.

Me: But if you’d looked at my standing orders and seen you had refused the one for the phone bill, you should have concluded that my phone had been cut off.

BP: Monsieur, that is an unreasonable expectation.

Me: That’s the first accurate thing you’ve said so far.

Throughout this exchange, the young lady talked over me nonstop, and it seemed to me that she saw it as her job to prove me wrong and unreasonable. Mademoiselle’s final words were priceless:

BP: Well Monsieur Ward – is there anything else I can help you with today?

Earlier at The Slog: The politics of the privileged are never for us