Thursday, 5 November 2009

Adventures in Greendale

I've teased you with this, and despite wanting to give it a few days, I can't resist it any longer. My fingers are literally itching, although that may just be a fungal infection. So, without any more babble, let us look at a letter into Monday's Shropshire Star, penned by the splendid Alwyn Cox from Oswestry. For any new readers (Hannah) - Alwyn's letter will be in a bold font, my responses in this normal font. Let's do this thing.

So now the shopkeepers in Ellesmere are complaining that the arrival of Tesco has damaged their businesses and caused job losses.

This is unfortunate, and is a sign of the times. Whether you like it or not though, it is true.

This is not true.

Oh, okay.

The workers at Tesco do not stand in the high street and kidnap customers and force them to buy Tesco products.

Not true Alwyn! I was once walking past Tesco when an employee rugby tackled me to the ground and demanded that I went in and bought some bananas, a Tweenies DVD and a pack of large condoms. I did what I was told.

The free choice of the public allows them to shop where they want to shop.

I didn't have the heart to tell him I only need small ones.

They obviously choose to shop in Tesco. So it is the public that are damaging the small businesses because they do not want or need them. We live in a world of free markets. The consumer is king, and if they choose to shop in the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury then so be it.

This is not news, Alwyn. Nor is it particularly interesting. I'm going to need you to spice up this letter with something stupid - about anything. Cheese. Paul O'Grady. Post Offices. Whatever!

They have decided that they no longer want to tramp from the greengrocer to the butcher, then onto the grocer and newsagent hauling more and more packages with them as they go from warm to cold to warm moving from one shop to the next.

Get on with it.

They want the convenience of everything in one place, so they go to a supermarket.

I've just suddenly twigged what Alwyn is doing here. Yes, kids, he's read my blog about how to write/bullshit your way through an essay, and now he's practising with this letter! This is precisely what is happening here - there can be no other reason to just type a load of stuff that we all know and is completely unnecessary.

Alwyn, get crazy, and get crazy quick.

Same with the post office.

At last!

Who cares if they are closing? I don't.

Might just be the most egotistical sentence I have ever read, ever. And considering I sometimes read back my old blog entries, that takes some doing Alwyn.

I buy my car tax online. I do not need postal orders - you know, those funny things the post office sells that cost more than the object that they are used to pay for.

It gets worse kids.

If I need other currency I get it from a hole in the wall in the country that I am visiting, it is cheaper and I get it as I need it.

Enjoy being mugged.

I do not write letters on bits of paper, then shove them into other bits of paper, and then stick other bits of paper, that I would have to purchase, on to them only to have to tramp to a red box on the street corner, shove all these bits of paper into this box and hope that a man in uniform will come and collect my bits of paper and deliver them to the address that I have written on the front.

There is so much shit there I wouldn't know where to start. And I'm at university, pretending to be studying John Milton. Currently, I'm not sure who I hate more - Alwyn or Milton. It's a toughie. I particularly enjoy Alwyn taking 5 lines to describe writing a letter and posting it. He really has been reading my essay guide, clearly.

I'm just going to move on, because re-reading that just makes me even more annoyed. Also, I don't want Sue to take too long imagining a man in uniform. Have a sit down Sue!

He will not come, of course, because he has decided not to work as a way of protesting against progress, just like those whingers complaining about Tesco.

I'm tired of this nonsense. I'll leave that sentence for Vole to foam at the mouth about.

I send e-mails like this letter to the Star. I pay all my bills by direct debit or online banking. I buy all my clothes in online shops.

My grandmother is a 70 year old woman who lives on her own, and wouldn't know the internet if www.dutchgirlswithbigboobies.orgy slapped her round the face. For her, her local post office is crucial. And I'm 22, so I'm not one to hark back to "the good old days" but I'd be gutted if all post offices closed down. For many elderly people, they are important, and give them just a little feeling of community, as they go and socialise to the same people every week as they collect their pension. Not everyone has the internet.

If my shopping habits cause the demise of small over-expensive shops, then so be it. Turn them all into bistros, restaurants, pubs and housing.

Alwyn Cox's priorities in life, in order - Food. More food. Drink. Somewhere to live.

Turn the high streets into pedestrian zones with tables and chairs,

Could you not just move to Paris, please?

trees, and roundabouts for the kids to play on. Move with the times and enjoy life, stop harking on about how things used to be and look to how they will be.

I'm starting to get tired of this, and I do really need to do some actual work. I think the main problem here is that I'm not 100% sure who you are attacking, considering you've taken a scatter gun to a few different people and things.

That is what Tesco did. When I did a Saturday job in Tesco as a schoolboy over 40 years ago it was a little corner shop with all its goods still in boxes stacked on the floor. Look at it now. I would say it is doing something right, probably giving the public what it wants.

End of letter. I am dazed and confused.

I know this has been a really long entry, so if you couldn't be bothered to read all of that, I'm now going to provide you with a summary of Alwyn's letter:

I don't
I buy
I do not need
If I need
I get it from
I am visiting
I get it as I need it
I do not write letters
I would have to
I have written
I send e-mails
I pay all my bills
I buy all my clothes
If my shopping habits
I did a Saturday job
I would say
Me me me me me me me me FUCKING ME

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


First of all, thanks for all the nice feedback about my last entry, the essay one. Many of you found it amusing, and thought I was joking. You've never read any of my essays, clearly.

Coming up on my blog over the next week or so will be an awesome video that I can't stop watching, and my analysis of possibly the most offensive, arrogant and ridiculous letter into The Shropshire Star I have ever read. Don't miss that one.

But now folks, it's time for some admin. Long-term readers, all two of you, will know that here at TRAROFTL, I adhere to one very simple rule. That if someone follows my blog, I'll link to their blog and give them a shout-out and a bit of free publicity here. Always have done that, always will.

I've thought for a little while about what to say here. In that time I've cleaned my nails, drank a whole bottle of Buxton water, listened to Alanis (I heart her, tbf. And her rendition of the US National Anthem last night at the baseball was awesome) and ate a bowl of cheese savouries.

And I still don't know what to say. So, just go and follow hltoffy over at:

Even though most of you reading this already do. I'd like to conclude this blog entry with a video for you. It's my favourite Tindersticks record:

Monday, 2 November 2009

How to Write an Essay

Alright, alright, settle down! Get that gum out of your mouth Sue, the bin is at the front.

Hello folks. For my sins, I've not been able to get to many lectures this academic year, so I thought I'd take the interesting step of taking a lecture myself. As the title shows, I am going to tell you how to write an essay, in the Ewar-style. Are you ready?

Ben and Aidan, stop whispering. If you have something to share, please share it with the class.

Okay, here we go. First of all, you've been slapped with a 2,000 word count. "Impossible!" you cry. "How am I going to write 2,000 words on a book that I don't like/half-read/don't care about Ewar?!"

Thanks for asking! Well A) I did it for "Wise Children", so it can be done, and B) Fuck the 2,000 words thing. Seriously. I'll explain how in due course.

Firstly, create a "header" and put your name and student number. It looks like you actually know what you're doing. You don't, of course, but perception is important.

Next, you're going to copy and paste the essay question you have chosen. You pretend this is so the marker knows easily what question it is you are doing. But of course that's bollocks - it's actually because we'll sneakily add it to the word count at the end. So the question is 83 words, word count is now down to 1,917 words. Lovely.

Daniel, if you don't remove those earphones and that iPod, I'll remove them myself and put them up somewhere you wouldn't like.

We now come to an introduction. You pretend the intro is there to make it clear what you'll be doing later on in the essay. Nah. It's actually just a paragraph of repeating the question in a slightly different way and not actually saying anything. Don't make it more than one paragraph - that will arouse suspicion. You need to keep the marker on your side for as long as you can.

Next. If you have a question that has technical terms in it - define them! Even if everyone knows what they are, define them, and ramble about them for a bit. Again, don't go overboard, but make sure you waste a good few words. That word count is ticking down, and you haven't said anything yet!

Mitchell, I believe that girl has a boyfriend. Please refrain from chatting her up in my time, thankyou.

Now we come to the tricky bit - actually writing about the book. There is no way we can get out of this, sadly. But what we can do is this. Have a maximum of 5 points. Tackle them one by one, and ramble. Not read the book? That's okay. Flick through it, you can find relevant quotes. If you can't, find any quote, and twist it as much as you can to make it relevant. Remember, we're adding those lovely quotes to our word count! Make sure you include academic words, and if desperate, put a quote and then basically just explain what it means, even though it's obvious what it means. Even more desperate? Phone a friend.

We're now going to have a 10 minute break, so if you do need to urinate/eat/masturbate/smoke/drink, now is the time. In appropriate places, obviously, not at your desk. Mitchell, you dirty git.

Welcome back class! Not long left now, don't worry.

So, you've battled your way through the main part of the essay. Congratulations - you've broken the back of it, and you're near the end. One final push okay? And our final push is known as the Conclusion!

For a conclusion, take two paragraphs, and point out what you already mentioned in the introduction, and then re-hash the best points you made. Don't worry about over-egging the pudding, by this time you've lost the marker. He either A) hates you or B) wishes for you to shut up or C) both!

Hoorah! You've almost finished. But, time to do some quick maths. Most lecturers allow you to be either 10% over/under the word limit. 10% of 2,000 is, by my reckoning, 200 words. Take that away from your 1,917, and that makes it 1,717 words. Splendid.

Still under? Go through the text - alter sentences so that you take 3 words instead of 1. Add unnecessary stuff. Maybe drop in another quote to "back up your argument" (add more words). Flesh out your introduction and conclusion. If all else fails - lie. Hell, they don't check.

That's it folks! I want you to all clear off, apart from you. Yes, you, the blonde with the low-cut top. I need you to come back to my office, so I can give you one. *pause* An essay question that is!

Folks, if you've enjoyed this lecture, I've been Ewarwoowar. If you haven't, I've been The Plashing Vole!

EDIT - I've just read that last bit again. That last sentence was a joke I've nicked off a lecturer, and is absolutely no way meaning that Voley would give a lecture like that, or indeed be inappropriate with a student. Don't take it the wrong way please folks!