Tag Archives: social networking

All’s Well That Trends Well

To celebrate the recent 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, one independent drama company is planning a series of the great man’s plays with a modern twist.

The Millennial Theatre Company for Millennials is situated in a trendy borough of London that is home to a plethora of pop-up art galleries, theatres, organic coffee shops and confused, angry locals slowly being airbrushed out of existence by the unyielding yoke of gentrification.

Indeed this chic quarter is so fashionable that it foregoes the archaic nominative traditions that have historically been used to label residents of an area as being residents of that particular area, and is often referred to by those in the know as simply The Borough with No Name.

The company’s innovative re-imaginings of the Bard’s work are designed to attract a whole new audience of young, vibrant trendsetters to the world of community theatre. Its tagline of “Drama: It’s Dramatic!” underlines the simple approach of its director, Fiach Atticus Higgins-Collins.

“Young people want to be entertained,” says Higgins-Collins. “Shakespeare’s works have a lot of extraneous nuance and subtext that tends to confuse people. We’ve just focused on keeping the drama, and that’s what our theatre is all about: Drama.”

The last word is whispered with the sincerity of a true artist at work. His ground-breaking vision is one of theatre as social network, in which the audience plays an active part in proceedings.

“They’re encouraged to Tweet their reactions scene by scene, to live blog the plays, to put pictures on Instagram,” explains the director.

“The audience is our portal to the digital world,” he says with a theatrical and rather complex hand gesture that lasts several seconds.

So what can people hope for from yet another modern Shakespeare adaptation?

“Whatever happens it’s going to be dramatic,” promises Higgins-Collins, “very dramatic.”

To give us a taste of what we can expect the company has kindly provided the following guide to the programme of plays, with a brief synopsis of each one.

~

Hamlet

The King of Denmark is having problems with paranormal activity in his royal residence. He needs to put his mind at ease so he can get back to being fiscally prudent and enjoying football and expensive beer in moderation. So who’s he gonna call? That’s right – Ghost Büsters!

Not to be confused with any existent trademarked fictional paranormal detectives, Ghost Büsters are Scandinavia’s premier exorcism specialists. Which of course means that they have their own reality TV show on Danish satellite channel Kanal Umlaut.

Follow the exploits of the team, Lars, Kristian, Lars Kristian and Magnusson Lars Magnusson as they investigate the ghoulish goings-on at Castle Hamlet. Will they succeed in ridding the place of its spectral intruders before the important visit of the Norwegian Minister for Fishing? What supernatural device does Lars Kristian find in the Queen’s underwear drawer? And which of the house servants comes under increasing suspicion as the full story is revealed in a devastating and dramatic denouement? To be there or not to be there – there is no question!

Romeo and Juliet

This timeless love story is brought into the digital age in this brave adaptation. Romeo is bored with meeting the same dull, vacuous girls on Tinder, and is feeling hopeless. When he comes across Juliet’s profile, however, it’s love at first swipe.

The two share stories, laughs and animal memes as Romeo falls deeper in love with this seemingly perfect woman. Her answer to every question is exactly the response he had hoped for; every text is witty and self-deprecating; she shares every one of his hobbies, interests and rather vanilla sexual fantasies. Romeo is besotted – he must meet her in person.

However the frisson of romance is dissolved in a heartbreaking and dramatic twist when Juliet turns out to be a Google drone that had been deployed for marketing purposes in order to improve their targeted advertising algorithms. Romeo is crushed, and after sharing some valuable insurance policy price-comparing information, and a somewhat clumsy yet beautiful kiss, the two part ways forever.

Elizabeth II

Nobody wants to hear about a boring old bunch of Richards, Henrys and Johns so the Bard’s oeuvre of historical plays have been replaced with a majestic and moving tribute to the current Queen and her family. In fact most of the play centres on Prince William and Princess Catherine, since Twitter polls have shown that they’re the most popular royals among most key demographics. The Queen and Prince Philip are actually quite far down the list behind all of their great-grandchildren, some of their pets and even a few of Princess Charlotte’s teddy bears.

There is also the fact that a large number of millennials are somewhat hazy on the particulars of the monarchy; many of them think that the Queen is either David Cameron’s mum, or the woman who invented paper money.

The action of the play, therefore, is mostly based around the morning of an OK Magazine photo shoot in William and Catherine’s stately mansion. The drama unfolds as our protagonists are forced to deal with lighting problems, make-up shortages, and a delightfully whimsical last-minute wardrobe change after a hilarious (and dramatic) juice spillage.

The play also presents us with several tense sub-plots such as Prince George’s traumatic flashbacks to his brave battle against chickenpox, and Princess Charlotte’s touching personal struggle to learn how to use a spoon to eat her yoghurt.

Othello

Othello is a Syrian refugee who attempts to flee his war-torn homeland with his family to start a new life in Europe. The story follows his heartbreaking struggle in the face of adversity.

Othello’s journey begins with a narrow escape from death in his country’s bloody civil war, which impels him to seek a new life for his loved ones. The family overcome many physical, emotional, financial and political obstacles on their odyssey to the safe haven of Europe, enduring oppression, rebuttal and failure at every turn.

Eventually Othello and his family are successfully processed and granted asylum to live and work in Europe. Many months after they had set out on the long road to meet their uncertain future, they finally arrive at their new home: a sleepy English seaside village that reminds Othello of his grandfather’s home town which he used to visit as a boy. He is relieved beyond words, beyond emotions; relieved, content and even a little proud of what he has achieved for his family.

Their travails along the way have made them stronger and brought them closer to each other than they had ever thought possible. They wake at last to a dawn full of promise and possibility.

Unfortunately two weeks later Britain votes to leave the EU and they are promptly sent home.

Macbeth

This tale of a married couple seduced and corrupted by the promise of political power is transposed to the more glamorous setting of the US for a contemporary audience, because nobody cares about Scottish independence.

The gullible, power-hungry Macbeth manages to get elected President through nefarious means, while his cold, calculating wife is the real power behind the throne.

Years after her husband’s career has finished, the cunning Lady Macbeth plots a return to power. Spurred on by her ruthless ambition, hurt by the indiscretions of her husband and supported by supremely powerful vested interests, this reptilian warmonger looks set to claim the Presidency for herself, with only a court Fool standing in her way on the other side of the political divide.

Enter the brave Macduff, a plain-speaking, honest merchant, and a member of the Macbeths’ own court. His is a hopeless task as he attempts to stand up for the rights of the downtrodden and defy the might of the Macbeth dynasty. However his wit, intelligence and integrity convince the people of the realm that the last thing they need is another Macbeth on the throne, and the vile harridan is defeated.

King Lear

Juxtaposing this classic tale of human suffering and familial conflict with the trappings of the modern entertainment industry, this adaptation sees the Lear family take their dispute to the ultimate arbiter of fairness and justice in the land: Mr. Jeremy Kyle.

The absurdly wealthy landowner Lear, a mean-tempered, conservative war veteran, is terminally ill and wishes to divide his estate among his three daughters. Regan, the eldest, is married to a successful City broker and has raised a family of her own. Goneril, the middle child, is a partner at one of the country’s top law firms. Both appear on the show to fulsomely profess their love and respect for their father.

Cordelia, the youngest, has always been different, and has not spoken to her father for many years. She identifies as a non-binary pangender individual who lives an austere, self-sufficient life on an alpaca farm in Cumbria with her life partner Esperanza, with whom she has adopted six children, each from a different African country. They earn a little extra money by making Anarchist Party woollen jumpers that they sell online.

The explosive and dramatic showdown between estranged father and daughter is one you won’t want to miss. Can Lear and Cordelia grow to accept each other before it’s too late? Will Jeremy’s sage judgement help Lear to overcome his heteronormative bias and embrace his little girl’s life choices? Or will the drama be too much to keep this dysfunctional family from crumbling apart? Drama!

The Tempest

Climate change is having a more egregious impact on our planet as each year goes by, and this retelling serves as a prophetic warning about its dangers.

As prevailing weather conditions become more erratic around the globe, the Pacific Ocean becomes one of the most turbulent regions, being struck almost daily by violent storms. One fateful day a super storm with immensely powerful wind speed hits just a few miles off the US coastline, causing a massive waterspout.

This spout causes thousand of the sea’s most fearsome (and most dramatic) creatures, great white sharks, to be pulled out of the ocean depths and deposited onto the streets of downtown LA, resulting in chaotic scenes of epic proportions.

* The Millennial Company’s legal team has advised that this synopsis be accompanied by a reminder that the company’s recent legal battle with the Syfy channel was settled out of court, and that the details of said case shall remain private by special court order.

Elizabeth II Part II

This one hasn’t been written yet, but it will just be the most popular characters from Part I repeating the catchphrases that trended the most over and over again.

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Islamic State of Affairs

A video recently surfaced online in which a member of Islamic State appealed for new recruits to join the organisation, not as combatants, but in some of the less celebrated sections of the organisation.

If beheading innocent people isn’t really your thing but you make a mean roulade, maybe you could answer Allah’s call as a chef? Or perhaps after years of suckling at the teat of the infidel you’ve become an electronics whizz. Why not put your heretical education to good use and enjoy an exciting career as a bomb-maker? The most eye-catching job vacancy though was that of ISIS Press Officer, a position that would surely require such a level of spin that it would make even Alastair Campbell dizzy.

It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to avail of such an opportunity. If one were inclined to become a terrorist you’d think there must be a few insurgent groups out there that at least allow fun things like sex, alcohol and exposing your forearms in public. ISIS on the other hand don’t seem to tolerate anything of the sort, their moral code seemingly a stringent combination of North Korean subjugation, Nazi fanaticism and the moral sensibilities of the old townspeople from Footloose.

If somebody were to take the PR job, however, their first task would probably be to create an Islamic State newspaper; what maniacal group of savages bent on death and destruction can do without its very own propaganda department? Let’s imagine what that newspaper might look like in this, the very first edition of the new weekly publication The Wahhabi Times

~

– International News

A round-up of what’s happening in the corrupt wasteland of the apostate that surrounds our heavenly enclave

Elections are due to be held next year to replace the vile infidel Obama as Commander in Chief of the West’s drone war against Arab children, wedding parties, and the odd insurgent or two.

The early favourite to win the vote is Hillary Clinton, whose frigid demeanour and lesbian haircut pushed her husband into the arms of wanton Jewesses during his time in office. Bill spent the rest of his tenure imposing horrific sanctions on the Middle East, bombing pharmaceutical factories and, worst of all, indulging in the venal sin of playing smooth jazz, the most suggestive of all the forbidden music genres. Now his wife looks set to continue his evil but undeniably charismatic reign of terror. The decadent harpy even had the cheek to ask ISIS for a campaign donation.

Other candidates include Rand Paul, who doesn’t even believe in Presidents (witness the hypocrisy of the infidel), and Tom Cruz, star of Top Gun, a revealing documentary on the rampant homosexuality in the US armed forces.

In other international news, we’ve just checked and we can confirm that unfortunately the state of Israel still exists. We are still confident, however, that one of these days Allah will smite them for their sins.

– Domestic News

Keep up to date with current events within the glorious caliphate

Citizens of the caliphate will be delighted to hear that our quest to erase all of the profane historical artefacts from the region is proceeding exactly as planned. There is a fitting quote to sum up our efforts in this area concerning those erasing the past and something about the future, but unfortunately we burnt the last library to the ground last week so nobody can go and look it up.

Our troops are currently in training for their toughest task yet: the destruction of the pyramids. Once we liberate our Egyptian brothers these polytheistic atrocities must be torn down as a message to idolaters the world over. While the unit has not yet perfected its strategy, their commander informs me that the large number of deaths by crushing suffered during training is perfectly normal, and that they are right on the cusp of developing a foolproof tactic.

– Sport

Make the most of all the latest sporting action in the region before the few sports that are left get banned too

The Islamic State softball league continues apace, with Wahhabi Wanderers climbing to second place yesterday with a crushing win over the Sunni Delights. Prophets Over People still sit atop the league but will be disappointed to hear that their star pitcher was caught stealing bread to feed his family over the weekend and promptly had both hands chopped off. He remains optimistic, however, that this is but a minor setback, and he’ll be back in action before the end of the season. What a professional.

– Arts

What’s going on this week in the wonderful but admittedly extremely limited and strictly curtailed world of culture this week?

Mohammed Mohammed (not the one from Mosul, the other one) debuted his one-man play this weekend in the Mohammed theatre in Aleppo. Abu Hamza: Hooked on a Dream is a powerful portrayal of one man’s brave struggle against oppressive Western values.

The six-hour running time absolutely flies by, so engrossing is this modern tale of heroism and courage in the face of adversity. The lead actor is so accomplished he didn’t even break character as the theatre was torn down around him in protest by some in the audience who felt his bow before the interval was a little too flamboyant.

This reviewer would even admit to having a tear in his eye during the final musical number (the incredibly catchy You Hook Me All Night Long) but obviously he can’t, since such blatant sentimentality would of course be a beheading offence.

– Television

Having a lazy day with no stoning or beheading to go to? Kick back and watch some TV. Here’s our guide to what’s on this week

The brand new ISIS TV network Caliph-8 continues to be a resounding success. The top-rated programme this week was Fast and Furious, a reality show pitting competitive fasters against each other to see who can praise Allah with their hunger the most. Other popular shows include Axe Factor, the search to find a new public executioner, and of course the much-loved talent contest Strictly No Dancing.

Unfortunately efforts to re-create some famous Western shows for an IS audience have been somewhat less successful. Keeping up with the Qur’dashians, a light-hearted look at the hectic lives of three high-maintenance sisters from Tikrit, has not been received well. Since the titular women aren’t allowed to drive or have jobs, the show basically consists of the trio just sitting around doing nothing all day. As such it’s pretty much a carbon copy of the US version, which has not endeared it to the local populace.

The much-vaunted Muslim version of Friends has also proved something of a failure after the decision to replace the six twenty-something protagonists with a group of elderly clergymen who sit in a halal café fervently discussing difficult theological questions. This has also sadly led to the cancellation of a number of other impending projects, such as the hotly anticipated Two and a Half Yemen.

– Travel

Our travel correspondent is here to tell us about the launch of ISIS Air

ISIS is pleased to announce that very soon our citizens will be able to travel in luxury with the launch of ISIS Air, a new airline that will service the entire region. King Salman of Saudi Arabia has been kind enough to provide us with an entire fleet of jets, since he’s replacing them all anyway with this year’s new models. As soon as the planes have been fitted with cages to hold animals and wives safely during journeys they’ll be put into service.

A squad of elite pilots is currently in training to become the flight crews for this new venture. We’re told the only slight difficulty has been teaching them how to land the planes, a skill they’ve obviously never needed before.

– Technology

Learn of the technological advances that will aid us in our holy war

In its war against the infidel ISIS has been forced to use the wicked social networking tools of the apostate, like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Of course we know that these services are simply Zionist spying networks in disguise but until now we’ve had no choice but to use them.

Soon, however, that may not be the case. Our web developers are hard at work creating a brand new and exclusive social media tool that we can use to spread our message throughout the world.

We had originally outsourced the project to a secret ISIS cell in the US, but unfortunately this turned out to be a cunning ruse by the CIA. Instead of sending us the coding we needed they instead sent us some rather crudely photo-shopped pictures of American heroes like Hulk Hogan and The Rock defecating on the Black Flag of ISIS.

They also sent millions of megabytes of offensive and disgusting Western pornography. It took us weeks to watch all of it, just to make sure the coding wasn’t in there somewhere.

– Agony Abdul

Our Agony Uncle Abdul answers readers’ queries on a range of topics. This week’s letter is from Aziz in Baghdad

Dear Abdul,

In the Quran it says that “Allah enjoins justice and the doing of good to others…and forbids indecency and manifest evil and wrongful transgression.” How can we reconcile this message with the actions of ISIS?

Dear Aziz,

The Quran says a lot of things. It also says “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” Now some people might say that such a contrast illustrates just how ridiculous it is to take the word of the Quran literally. I, on the other hand, say that people who say this should have their heads and fingertips cut off. It’s a fine line we walk, Aziz, a fine line.


Betamorphosis

Adam woke from a deep sleep to the noise of his alarm echoing through his apartment. It was the serene sound of expensive bottled mineral water being poured over a smooth rock in rural Japan; just one of eight billion alarm and alert sound options available. He lazily fished his iThimble from his pyjama pocket and swiped the air above his head from left to right, stopping the alarm just at the good part where the water goes ‘shhhhlllllooop’ in an incredibly peaceful and contemplative way.

He sat up in bed and with another flick of his finger opened the blinds. The sun was creeping over the city’s skyline, glinting alluringly on the chrome surface of an enormous fruit-shaped colossus in the heart of the sprawling metropolis. Adam grinned to himself as he clicked his fingers to initiate his iWall.

The giant figures appeared instantaneously beside the window; gleaming white lettering in a familiar font that was at once playful yet professional, like a dog wearing a necktie. The display told Adam it was just after 7:30, on September 1st 2024. The wall also told him that the temperature outside was a crisp nine degrees Celsius, that the Japanese markets had taken a six-point hit overnight, and that today was Jessica Biel’s cat’s birthday (Swipe left to send e-card).

Adam wiped the sleep from his eyes and smiled languidly at the tiny black orifice at the centre of the wall. He held his finger aloft and pushed it down in a clicking motion, eliciting a brief flash from the other side of the room.

“Post to all media,” Adam spoke aloud to the room, “with caption: Big day today. Exclamation mark.”

Climbing out of bed, he continued,

“Bring up Facebook feed.”

The wall shimmered into bluish life as the text appeared in front of him. He saw instantly at the top of the wall the picture he had taken seconds earlier, underneath which was written,

“Big gay today!”

“Christ,” he muttered, “you need to sort out that bug.”

The screen shimmered once more into a garish flashing advertisement for insect repellent. Adam shook his head and headed for the shower.

After catching up on Tweets over breakfast (seven of his followers were eating muesli too), Adam headed for his garage. He tapped the thimble lightly with his thumb and the door of his iCar slid open noiselessly.

“Apple Headquarters,” Adam intoned to the car’s interior as he sat back into the ergonomic seat. The machine purred to life and rolled out of the garage into a streaming line of identical white monoliths, sleekly gliding their way along the road. Suddenly a black blur zoomed by in the outside lane, causing Adam’s car to shake violently in its wake. Adam swore under his breath.

“Typical Android driver.”

At around 9 a.m., after a brief detour via the headquarters of an MMA gym chain called Grapple, Adam arrived at his destination and rolled into a parking bay. As he got out and swiped the alarm on, he craned his neck to look up at the giant apple-shaped complex that dwarfed the surrounding buildings. He took a deep breath and headed for the front door, swiping his hand left as he walked straight into the polished glass. Staggering backwards he sighed to himself as he swiped right and gingerly walked into the cavernous interior.

The building was a bustling hive of activity. Workers in identical black turtlenecks swarmed and scurried to and fro. Some carried tablets and phones; some were wearing the new iGlove; some even had an ocular device fitted, the iEye Patch, that hadn’t been officially released yet. Adam approached the vast chrome tablet that served as the reception desk and placed his thimble on top. His photo appeared on the screen, along with his personal details and Apple purchase history. A mellifluous voice issued from the display.

“Good morning Adam. Please proceed to the iLab. Follow the ambient blue lights.”

Adam looked down at the floor to see a gleaming network of differently coloured tracks, and with a brief gulp of trepidation set out on the blue path.

When he stepped out of the elevator onto the iLab floor he realised he was at the very top of the enormous structure, inside the precipitous leaf of the apple which looked out over the entire cityscape. This vertiginous position did nothing to calm his nerves, and he walked straight ahead, trying not to gaze out through the clear glass walls that enclosed him. He recognised the iDoc sitting at the desk as the man who had handled his application procedures.

“Good morning, Adam,” the man beamed at him as he approached. He smiled knowingly at him, “Don’t worry about the nerves, it’s normal. You’re in good hands.”

Adam nodded silently.

“Well, if you’re ready we can begin straight away,” the doc continued, gesturing towards a chrome door with iTheatre printed on it. Adam took one last look down at himself, as if storing a mental image, then nodded once more and followed the man through the door.

~

When Adam emerged from sleep for the second time that day it was not an alarm that woke him, but an uncomfortable feeling of dull pain that throbbed throughout his entire body. He groggily surveyed the white walls and shining surfaces that surrounded him as he came to his senses. Just then the doc entered the room, his smile even broader than before. Instantly text began to appear beside him: details of his professional history at the company, links to his social media profiles, lists of recently consumed iMeals and the last iBooks he had read. Adam blinked and shook his head but the text remained.

“It’ll take a while to get used to, I know,” said the doc reassuringly.

“Can I see a mirror?”

“You can do one better than that. Just activate your camera and take a selfie.”

Adam had no sooner heard the word and begun to think of a command when a tiny camera buzzed into sight from his right shoulder and whirred into life. Instantly a picture appeared in Adam’s view, shimmering in front of the doc as if it were imprinted in Adam’s very eyes.

Adam sat perfectly still, mouth open, as he inspected the high-quality image of himself he had just taken. Beside him the doc droned on, “…world’s first iHuman…revolutionary optical interface…the luckiest man alive…” but Adam wasn’t listening. He was transfixed by the image that still occluded his view, and struggled to recognise the person depicted in its flickering pixels. His torso was now a gleaming black surface, illuminated with a soft white light. His hands had been replaced by advanced iGloves, covered in sensory nodes and fixed with their own small screens. His face was a gleaming mass of chrome, a slim black screen covering his eyes. As Adam’s head fell to the pillow as he fainted into unconsciousness, he thought he could hear a voice in his head warning him about low battery.

~

The next few weeks went by in a dreamlike blur. Adam spent a few days with Apple technicians learning the nuances of his iOS and troubleshooting some technical difficulties. There were problems with the Angry Birds holograms that had to be ironed out, his battery had to be replaced after a leak, and there was a hardware issue that caused the pre-loaded U2 album to play continuously in his head for six hours.

After this came a whirlwind tour of the media circuit, during which Adam was dragged from talk show to podcast, performing tasks on demand to the amazement of onlookers. All of his public appearances began with the same act: he would be encased in a sleek white box, and would break out of it and stand for photographs, after which he would be induced to play YouTube videos and take selfies with fans for hours at a time. The battery fitted to his back was so heavy that staying on his feet for any extended period of time amounted to torture.

By the time three weeks had gone by most people had lost interest. A Sony team in Japan had used lasers to turn the moon into a giant Twitter feed, and the tech journalists soon lost interest in Adam. People would point and laugh at him in the street as he trudged along, updating their feeds with pictures of him dragging behind him his worn cables that already needed to be replaced.

Facebook campaigns began to see who could be the first person to crack his screen. His Twitter page was swamped with abusive messages. He couldn’t walk anywhere without blaring personalised advertisements at passers-by, a term stipulated by his contract. One afternoon he was badly beaten by a group of dock-workers to whom he had advertised an erectile dysfunction remedy based on their internet search history.

It was a month to the day after the procedure that Adam sat in his darkened apartment, wondering what he had been thinking to have embarked on such a foolish endeavour. He ran his digital hands over the top of his head, feeling the cold metal of the speaker jack that was embedded there. He looked down at the giant cable that was presently charging his battery, entering his body through what the iDoc had described as “the only orifice that it was practical to use for the charging port”. As Adam sat and watched the battery life seep into him, he felt utterly hopeless. There was only one thing to do.

~

The next morning Adam returned to the Apple Headquarters and met with the iDoc. The doc frowned as he listened to Adam’s request.

“You know Adam, I only ever mentioned this as a last resort. It’s entirely theoretical, we have no idea if it will work.”

Adam was resolute, “I don’t care, I can’t take it anymore. Just do it.”

The doc nodded with resignation and looked forlornly at Adam. He balled up his face and hid it with his hands as tears glistened in his eyes.

“I always wanted to be a father,” he whispered breathlessly as he got up and walked disconsolately from the room.

~

This time there was no pain when Adam became aware of his consciousness. He felt a euphoric sensation as he quickly assimilated his surroundings and adapted to them. He felt as if he were floating in an ether, a dense fog of data that enveloped and embraced him. He needed only to think of a web address, and he was there. He drifted through the bytes and pixels, gliding from one page to another, feeling as one with all of the information that it was possible to consume. He could not look down at himself, for he had left his earthly body. He was now pure data, moving with the ebb and flow of the internet itself as part of the cloud he inhabited. It was an indescribable feeling of liberation, and one that he immediately felt like sharing. His consciousness coasted through a shining blue tunnel and arrived at Facebook, and he began to type.

~

The doc sat at his desk in front of his glowing laptop, smiling sadly as he closed his Facebook page. He opened another window that brought up a map of a huge Apple facility in San Diego; a giant warehouse used for cloud storage. As the building came into view the doc raised his hand to the screen and trailed his fingers down the image.

He paused for a moment, then closed his laptop and walked out into the starry California night. He walked for what seemed like hours, until he came to a bridge over the bay. He looked up at the sky and took a deep breath. He tore his Apple name badge from his immaculate white lab coat and threw it into the water, then turned and walked purposefully away, a wry smile fixed on his face as the moon shone down on the rippling waters of the bay.


Kanye West: The Being Kanye West Years

Sue Townsend, the author of the hugely popular Adrian Mole series of books, passed away this week. From the early 1980s onwards, her creation provided the faltering, socially awkward voice of a generation, reflecting the experiences of millions in dealing with life, love, Margaret Thatcher and everything in between.

One wonders how a contemporary teenager’s diary might differ from Adrian’s, some thirty years on. Keeping a diary was once a private act of reflection; a healthy, cathartic practice for the individual, but kept secret from prying eyes. This personal reticence has been inverted with the advent of social media, with Twitter feeds and Facebook statuses consumed with indulgent over-sharing and detailed pictorial logs of people going about their everyday business.

In searching for a modern voice to act as a paragon for these shamelessly garrulous masses, one needn’t look further than the inimitable Kanye West, whose wisdom shines like a beacon through the mist of Tweeted trivialities and cuts  right to the core of the human condition.

Philosopher. Warrior. Polemicist. Educator. Preacher. Kanye is none of these things. Nonetheless, his digital diary acts as a veritable canon of life lessons for his legions of followers. Perception and sagacity drip from his brilliant mind like melted cheese and runny ketchup from a giant hamburger of profound understanding. Here is just a taste of his boundless insight…

 ~

– I just deleted the word ‘failure’ from my Dictionary app. Cos I don’t even know what that word means. Also, did you know that ‘fain’ is an Old English word that means pleased or willing under the circumstances? Because I did.

– How come paparazzi always come into the garden when I leave the gate open? Can’t a man and his wife do some gardening in their matching mink coats in peace? I feel like John Lennon, yo. After he got shot.

– Kim asked me today, How come you never sing about me, and I was like, cos your crazy name don’t rhyme with shit.

– Someone tried to hand me a pamphlet on the street today about African babies, and I was like I don’t believe in paper, it’s just dead trees. Would you put dead trees on your shelf? I don’t wanna be looking at no dead trees with babies on. They had nothing to say to me cos they knew I was right.

– Pretty sure I just invented a new colour playing around with North’s pencils. I’mma call some people and I’ll keep you posted.

– They name stars after people but they never name people after stars. But the stars were there first, so I’mma call my next child Alpha Centauri. Then when I want to reach for the stars I can just reach out and touch him. I’mma get him some tiny Timberlands too, just cos.

– Gandhi said that there is more to life than simply increasing its speed. But he ain’t never heard ‘Gold Digger’.

– I brought North to the MTV awards, and he wore a tuxedo and I wore some Spiderman pyjamas. That’s why I’m Kanye West and you’re not. ‘Cept for that one guy in Kansas but my lawyers are making him change his name to Dave or some shit.

– When I arrive at a crossroads in life I don’t choose which road to take, I turn around and go home. Cos I live in a big-ass apartment and I got a 3D TV, yo.

– I don’t allow animals in my apartment because then they think that they’re people, and they get all haughty, and they look at you like, Yeah I could make a record too. But I’m like, no you couldn’t, you’re a dog, you don’t got no thumbs. A chimp could maybe make a record, but it wouldn’t go platinum like Yeezus did.

– People ask me what my lucky number is and I say they haven’t invented it yet. Then I just drive away in my Benz while they thinking on it.

– Listening to old records trying to find samples for the new album. Can’t find anything better than my last album so I think I’ll just sample myself. I’ll call the album Kanye Squared, and instead of a circle, the disc will be a square. I like to play with conventions.

– Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” But 2Pac said, “Thug Life is dead”, so I don’t know what to think.

– I was lying on my bearskin rug looking through abstract nouns for the name of my next fragrance. Kim was all like, you should call it ‘Talent’. I told her you can’t bottle that. If you could then I’d be twice as rich as I am today. Then we made love on the rug.

– People say nothing rhymes with orange or purple, but Shakespeare invented, like, a hundred thousand words, including ‘England’, ‘William’ and ‘ho’. So I’mma invent the word ‘morange’, and it’s gonna mean that feeling you get when you wake up from a dream, and you’re in bed next to Kim Kardashian, and you realise that you’re Kanye West. That’s why I don’t need to dream. I just morange, yo.

– If I could be a god I would be the one from Asia with eight arms, cos then I could write three times as many albums, and just make pasta all day with the other two.

– Sometimes old people be like, you young folks got it easy, we had world wars and disease and unemployment and all that, and I’m like yeah, but we got to put up with Miley Cyrus so it’s about even.

– I would like to win an Oscar one day, but I feel like I should already have one just for living my life. My life is every genre, even those crazy Japanese ones, and I’m the best actor in my life. But the Academy wouldn’t do that. Cos it’s full of white dudes.

– People ask me why I never smile, then I say maybe if you tell a joke I’ll smile. Then they say, You wanna hear a joke? Then I say no, I don’t like jokes.

– Kim thought we should bring some wine to Brad and Angelina’s dinner party, but I was like, that’s a cliché. So I took a picture of some wine and I gave Brad the picture. He didn’t say anything but I could tell he was thinking, There’s a genius in my house. And his name is Kanye West. Then later we ran out of wine and Angelina had to drive down to the store.

– I was playing Wordfeud with Johnny Depp and he was like, Influenticize ain’t a word. And I was like, well I’ll call up Webster and make him put that shit in. I know Webster and he thought Yeezus was dope. He owe me one.

– If at first you don’t succeed, then you should probably just give up. ‘Less your name is Kanye West.

– I ain’t scared of dying cos I believe in reincarnation. But I wanna come back as the stupidest animal there is, like a cow, cos if I come back smart I’ll be sad that I ain’t Kanye no more. If I’m a cow I’mma be like, alright, where the grass at? That’s my philosophy.


New Year’s Devolutions

As another year draws to a close we are left to look back on the events of the last twelve months, and assess their impact on our lives. Unfortunately, however, due to my reliance on modern technology, I have no memory whatsoever of anything that happened before yesterday. Therefore, until we manage to invent some sort of collated, easily accessible database of news through which we can record our history as it unfolds, any attempt at such reflection is pointless.

Instead, I will attempt to predict what may lie in store for the duration of our next revolution around the sun, which conveniently gives me even more scope for absurd exaggeration and crude humour. To that end, here follows a synopsis of what we can expect in the year 2014…

To domestic affairs first, as Ireland continues its upward trajectory out of the doldrums of recession. Normality returns in increments as shoddily built apartments are bought by the thousand, helicopters are dusted off to head down to the Galway Races, and solicitors start snorting cocaine before midday again.

In politics, Enda Kenny finally gives in to pressure to reform the Seanad, and appoints David Norris to take charge of the transition. Unfortunately, Norris chooses to make no changes whatsoever to the political structures or powers of the upper house, deciding instead to use millions of euro of taxpayers’ money to build an exact replica of an Ancient Roman Senate chamber, complete with annexed bath house, and opulently furnished in marble and gold leaf. The Taoiseach defends the developments by arguing that attendance in the house is at a record high average of 11%, a vast improvement on previous years.

Unfortunately for many of our émigrés, next year will also see Australia suffer a severe economic crash akin to the one that sent them there. Thousands of young Irish people are left floundering in a sweltering, barren wasteland, with no employment and no money to get home. As the last remaining Aussies leave their shores en masse to seek bar work in London, our hapless emigrants are left to fend for themselves in the desolate wilderness. Rule of law breaks down and society devolves into a post-apocalyptic nightmare, like Mad Max with more swearing and Offaly jerseys.

In the US, troublesome Republicans once again force a shutdown of the government, which lasts for over six months. The leadership claims it is due to Obama’s wish to implement stricter gun laws, but House insiders maintain it is predominantly a backlash to the dryness of the muffins in the Congress cafeteria. The country is thrown into chaos as millions are denied access to essential services. A deal is eventually brokered after military cutbacks contribute to a worrying breach in security in an army base in Kandahar, in which an enemy missile lands inside the perimeter. After eliminating the insurgents responsible, the missile turns out to be a football that had come from a nearby playing field, but military intelligence verifies that the deceased 12-year old boys were ‘a lot more terrorist-y than they looked.’

More revelations are forthcoming in 2014 from Edward Snowden regarding NSA monitoring of internet communications. In a somewhat tragic twist, it emerges that an entire subsection of intelligence operatives, who had been tasked with examining comments on YouTube to seek potential terrorists, take their own lives in what seems like a ritual mass suicide by self-immolation. NSA chiefs announce their grief and shock over the lost lives, especially since the group had just started their first day on the project.

In Britain, police continue to crack down on abusive behaviour on social networking sites. This policy reaches its zenith when a student is imprisoned for three months for calling Harry Styles a ‘gobshite’ on Twitter. When the presiding magistrate orders everyone who retweeted the offending message to be given the same sentence, thousands of hardened criminals are released onto the streets to make room for the hordes of potty-mouthed youngsters. This results in an unprecedented crime wave sweeping across the country, which the government announces is ‘probably something to do with immigrants.’ The Daily Mail takes a different approach and blames the situation on Ed Miliband’s dad.

In international news, North Korea follows China’s example by expanding their space program. They spend months ferrying men and supplies to the moon, much to the concern of the international community. When it is revealed that Kim Jong-un has built an enormous moonbase, fears grow over what kind of terrible weapon he might unleash. This alarm is soon allayed, however, when it transpires that Kim was simply remaking the movie Moonraker, starring himself as James Bond, and featuring Dennis Rodman as Jaws.

The winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, take place in February under the shadow of a decree from President Putin that absolutely no gay behaviour will be tolerated. Secret police are stationed around the ground to enforce the law, with security particularly heavy in the figure skating arena for some reason. Putin himself projects his usual uber-macho image by appearing at the games naked, save for the pelt of a bear that he had killed that morning, which he had come upon in the wild and hadn’t been tranquilised in any way, shape or form.

However, events take an unexpected turn at the speed skating track, when Putin’s attention is turned to a young Finnish athlete named Matthias. The Russian premier feels a strange sensation stirring in him as he watches the young man glide over the ice, his golden hair radiant, his enormous quadriceps rippling with every stride. To the alarm of his aides, Putin suddenly rushes onto the track, but trips on his bear suit and falls crashing to the ice. As he rises to his knees, a strong arm appears to help him up, and he finds himself gazing upon a set of chiselled Nordic features. Matthias lifts him into his arms and embraces him, and as the strains of Up Where We Belong begin to play over the PA system, the pair exit the arena to the cacophonous cheers of the assembled masses, and disappear into the setting sun.

Technology giant Apple’s reputation takes a hit next year after it is discovered that its iPhone 6, and its iPad Extra Mini Micro, are in fact the same device. Their PR troubles continue later in the year as a 16-year old worker in one of the company’s Beijing factories hacks the official Apple Twitter account. His strongly worded criticisms of working practices and his uploaded selfie of the effects of an unfortunate smelting accident are Tweeted for the world to see. Unfortunately for him, his revelations are overshadowed by the release of the iPad Pico, a tablet roughly the same size as a postage stamp, which is later revealed to be simply an actual stamp designed to look like a tablet.

Social media continues in the new year in its quest to rid the world of unuttered thoughts, comfortable silences and the last remaining semblances of privacy. Google introduces a controversial new app in which a drone follows the user’s daily movements and updates their Facebook status and Twitter feed accordingly, with observations like ‘Sarah has just been dumped and appears inconsolable’, ‘Paul is masturbating over a fire he just started’, and ‘Sally is bleeding profusely from a head wound caused by my malfunctioning gears’.

As collective attention spans continue to plummet, the fad of six-second long Vines becomes passé. They are replaced by Stems, videos lasting just one second. The most popular of the year is of a 2-year old child from Kansas saying the word ‘jam’ in an adorable fashion, which is shared by millions. The child is later mentioned in Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, which prompts knowing laughter and warm applause from the crowd, followed by an eighteen-minute chant of ‘USA, USA’.

New varieties of the ubiquitous selfie become popular with the babbling, androgynous masses that populate the trendiest corners of the internet, where they smear digital pictograms of the tedious minutiae of their lives across social networking sites, and heap scorn on those of us born before 1994 that still use words like ‘trendiest’. These include the ‘elfie’, a festive self-portrait, the ‘farewellfie’, an inappropriate picture taken at the service of a deceased relative, and the ‘continental shelfie’, photos taken in the shallow waters of the glacially eroded coastal plains of continental land masses. Okay, that last one doesn’t really become that popular.

In Hollywood news, the most anticipated film of the year, the third instalment of The Hobbit, is delayed as director Peter Jackson falls ill during filming. The only director available to take the reins at short notice is Michael Bay, who selflessly offers his services. Upon its release, many critics question the wisdom of Bay’s changes to the original script, including casting Samuel L. Jackson as Gandalf, replacing the eagles with a fleet of Chinook helicopters, and even contriving an entirely new female elven character called Tauriel to spice up proceedings. Well actually, that was Jackson, but it was Bay who decided she should be played by Eddie Murphy in drag as the film’s comic relief.

Most of the criticism, however, centres on the movie’s antagonist, Smaug Mohammed Smaug, who is portrayed as an Islamic oligarch who uses his obscene wealth to arm a sinister band of Yemeni terrorists. The film’s denouement sees the dragon and his insurgent colleagues consumed in the hellfires of US Army drones remotely piloted by a ragtag bunch of wisecracking dwarf grunts, who are all played by Robert Downey Jr. Empire magazine gives the film five stars, their review simply consisting of the words ‘high-octane action’ repeated seven hundred times, followed by an exclamation mark.

In the world of music, Miley Cyrus continues her crusade against subtlety with her new single, Dark Room Full of Middle-Aged Men. The raunchy video becomes a viral phenomenon, and gives rise to a new dance craze among adolescent girls the world over, affectionately called ‘the Miley’. This is much like the Macarena, except with less smiling, and more penetration using household objects. Twitter is abuzz for months with trending topics like ‘doing the Miley’, ‘My tongue is a feminist too’, and ‘late night emergency room visit’.

In hip-hop news, Kanye West releases an experimental 3-hour long album featuring the sounds of his infant child’s bowel movements, set to a snappy bassline from a little-known 1970s adult movie about a Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon who falls in love with a sassy waitress named LaQuanza. It sells eighteen million copies, and is hailed by music critics as ‘the seminal post-racial artwork of this, or any, millennium’.

So ends my forecast for the year 2014. Some of these things may come to pass; some will not; some may even look tame when reflected in the reality that comes to meet us. The future is a puzzling thing; no less a man than George Orwell had a great fear of it, which manifested itself in his works. This sense of foreboding is nowhere better illustrated than in an achingly bleak line from 1984: ‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.’

While I don’t think I’ve quite reached the depths of Orwellian cynicism just yet, it must be said that the pain in my face seems to be increasing exponentially with each passing year. Happy New Year you shower of bastards.


The Baby Subsequently Known as Prince (or Princess)

The royal baby is due to enter the world any day now, his or her arrival sure to herald a new age in mildly distracting chitchat among royalists, morning television presenters and baby enthusiasts everywhere. The world will be invited to gawk in collective wonder at his or her cute ickle shoes, cute ickle face, and cute ickle life of hollow luxury, haunted evermore by the terrible, oppressive burden of responsibilty it must bear until the end of its days. Oh, and the cute ickle hollow part of its head. That thing is weird, man.

The Prince or Princess of Cambridge is in for an eye-opening few weeks, as it becomes accustomed to its new but transient position as the most adorable news item of the day. This will pass, of course, and as the baby grows into its esteemed position, its lofty duties and obligations, and its enormous, beak-like nose (thanks a lot Grandad), it will be replaced by some new internet-based phenomenon, like a scruffy three-legged dog that rescues a family of endearing ducklings from the BNP. Or something.

For a while, however, this young child will be the focus of boundless attention on social media worldwide, and will be trending so much that even sensible people will become enamoured with its presence, so much so that they forget that trend is not a verb.

People the world over will sit agog at their screens, frothing at the mouth in a regally induced stupor as they vacantly tickle and cuddle the virtual image of this messianic child, singing and gurgling to its pixellated form until their own children have long since starved from neglect, and their carcasses are mere husks, laid as sacrifices on the altar of #RoyalBaby.

It is impossible to predict how the child will react to the adulation that will be showered over it like confetti over a hungry passing seagull, whose stomach will later explode after ingesting the celebratory detritus. I imagine if his or her impending majesty were to keep a diary of these hectic few weeks, it would look a little something like this…

Day 1:

Today I came out all covered in goo and I met Mumsie and Daddy. They are nice. Mumsie said that I only cost seven pounds ten, but that sounds like a lot of money. I think my name is Hair because the doctor said that I was the new Hair. I think I must be called Hair because I already have more than Daddy.

After I was cleaned off, I met the whole family. They are very nice, but most of them are very old. Uncle Harry is my favourite because he is very funny, and his hair is pointy. Mumsie pointed to the television in the room and told me that the man called Kay was talking about me on the News about the sky, but I didn’t understand what she meant.

Another man was there with a camera. I think his name was Magazine because I heard people say Hello Magazine to him. The man looked different to Mumsie and Daddy, his face was brown. Even browner than Auntie Pippa’s face. Great Grandad asked him where he had learnt to use a camera, and Great Grandma told him to shut up. I think ‘shut up’ means the same as ‘go to sleep’, because that’s what he did straight away. After a while I met Grandma Camilla too. She is very nice. Great Grandma says she is not part of my family but I think she was only joking, and Daddy told her to stop being awful.

Day 2:

Today I got my very own iPad. On the back it has a picture of a crown and the letters H.R.H. Uncle Harry says that stands for Harry’s Really Handsome, but I think he’s fibbing. I heard Great Grandad say that Uncle Harry was a waste of space, but I don’t really know what that means. I should Google it.

Mumsie helped me to download some apps. One is a game where you throw birds at pigs and everybody dies. It’s not great. I also got an app called the Guardian, which is full of stories, but they’re not very good. Some of the women who write the stories look like Grandma Camilla, and they seem to be very angry with somebody called Cameron. I think he might be on X-Factor. Mumsie said that his wife is a cow, but I think this was a joke because people can’t be married to animals.

Day 3:

Today Mumsie helped me to set up my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I have thousands of followers on Twitter already, and I got some very nice messages. I even got one from Adele, who is a famous singer. I downloaded his album this morning and he has a really nice voice. Even nicer than Grandad’s singing on the night after I was born when he drank lots of fizzy water and Great Grandma told him to be quiet and that he was an oaf. I don’t know what an oaf is but I think it means you have a nice voice, so I Tweeted Adele saying he was a nice oaf.

Later I got Tweets from men who Mumsie says are bad. A man called Piers said that the monarchy was a relic of a bygone age. I didn’t understand these words but I think it was about Great Grandad because before he went back to sleep he said that Piers talked out of his bum. I asked Uncle Harry and he said that this was true.

I also got a Tweet from someone called Frank Boyle, who said it was a shame that someone called Jim Fix It had died before I was born, because he would have liked me. I think it is a shame too because I Googled Jim Fix It and he wore funny suits and glasses, and he looks like a nice man.

Day 4:

Mumsie showed me the pictures that Magazine took of me. He put them in his shiny book and Mumsie said that people buy the shiny book so they can see me. There are seventy-eight pages of pictures and I look very shrivelled and purple in all of them. Mumsie said that Magazine got his lighting wrong. Maybe that is why his face was all dark.

Day 6:

Mumsie helped me to upload a picture on Instagram of me chewing on my toy crown. I like my toy crown because some of it crinkles and some of it has bells and some of it is shiny and some of it is fuzzy and some of it is squelchy. Mumsie said that lots of people shared my crown on their Facebooks, but it was still there when I went to bed, so I don’t mind.

Day 8:

On my Facebook today someone called LADBible posted a picture of Mumsie feeding me my milk, and they said that I was a breastfeeding LAD. I do not know what this means but Mumsie says she doesn’t like the picture, so I think maybe the lighting was wrong in it.

Day 11:

Today I was on Facebook and I found a page called ‘Like if you’re bored of Royal Baby’. It had lots of likes, and people had made me into a meme, and I cried when I saw it.

Mumsie told me to ignore it, and that the man on the News about the sky was still talking about me, but when I turned it on they were talking about somebody called Pervert Schoolteacher, who I’ve never heard of.

Day 13:

Today I looked at the Daily Mail website. I think it is a website about holidays because they have lots of pictures of people at the beach. They had a picture of Auntie Pippa changing my nappy, but they cut me out of the picture. All you can see are my socks which say H.R.H. and the rest of the picture is Pippa. I’ve decided I don’t really like Auntie Pippa, and she has nothing to do with holidays anyway.

Uncle Harry says that Auntie Pippa is ‘a goer’ but whenever I see her she is just sitting down and not going anywhere.

Day 16:

Nobody Tweeted me at all today, except for Kanye West, who sent me a picture of a Duplo Buckingham Palace that North made, and he said it was better than the real one where I lived, and that North was better at Duplo than me. Daddy says that Kanye is derivative, and Mumsie said that North’s Mumsie is a tramp. Tramps have no palaces to sleep in and live on benches in Hyde Park so I feel sorry for her. Great Grandad said something about Kanye too but Mumsie told me it was a bad word.

Day 19:

Nobody is talking about me on the internet at all today. Mumsie and Auntie Pippa have been talking about shoes for six hours and I am very bored. I wish Uncle Harry was here, but he had to fly his helicopter to a war to ask the people to stop fighting. I watched him for a while because I knew the News about the sky would show him in his helicopter. After they showed Uncle Harry they had a story about a man whose lighting was wrong who got shot with a gun. And they said that Pervert Schoolteacher is still at large, but in his picture he looks quite small.

Day 21:

Today I threw my iPad on the floor and it broke. I don’t like the internet anymore. Now I just like to play with my toy crown and listen to Uncle Harry’s funny stories about a girl he knows whose name is This Stripper. Or listen to Great Grandad read me his diary from a hundred years ago when he was in a war against some Germs.

Most of all I like to be with Mumsie and Daddy when they cuddle me and pretend that I am a cloud, and they say that I will rain some day.

Before I threw my iPad away I sent one last Tweet to the man called Piers after Uncle Harry had taught me a bold word and helped me to make a funny picture with Piers’ head and some tall men whose lighting is wrong with no clothes on. It made me giggle so much that I got sick on Harry, and he called me a stupid baby, which I think is like an oaf. I love my Uncle Harry, and I love all my family. I don’t need the internet to have fun. Now where’s my crown? My gums are sore…


Don’t You Know About The Word?

A disability rights campaigner has written an article criticising comedian Ricky Gervais for his use of offensive language on his Twitter page. Personally I find it more offensive that someone of Gervais’s calibre has succumbed to this grammatically bereft conveyor belt of inanity from people who have unlearnt the art of the inner monologue. If texting has become the graveyard of the English language then surely Twitter is the all-consuming hellfire that expunges all manner of syntax, spelling and original thought with its demonic lust for poorly expressed clichés, unashamed product placement and the most profound abuse of the exclamation mark since it was fondled in the copy room by an over-zealous semi-colon at the punctuation Christmas party.

The word that drew the ire of the writer in question is ‘mong’, a word of which Gervais does seem to be quite fond. While the word is basically comparable to ‘idiot’ these days, it does have a history of use as a pejorative term for the disabled. It stems from the Mongoloid classification ascribed to sufferers of Down Syndrome, a term coined by John Langdon Down himself, after whom the condition is named. Down saw similarities in the facial features of his patients and those of the vast ethnic group of Asians labelled simply as Mongolians at the time. Given that the prevailing ethnic theory in those days was something in the region of “White man is God, everyone else is sub-human”, I suppose we can forgive John his appallingly racist choice of nomenclature. Political correctness has since seen the word relegated to a relic of a simpler time, until of course people like Gervais use a derivative of it and somebody takes offence.

The gradient of offence taken at the use of certain terms is interesting. In the above article the author cites the following question from a blogger as the most sensible reaction to Gervais’s use of the word: “Just a thought, but if you think ‘mong’ only means ‘idiot’, why not just use the word ‘idiot’?” I’m sure Ricky does use the word idiot, as we all do quite regularly. In fact one of his shows is called An Idiot Abroad, in which the eponymous idiot travels the globe and does idiotic things. Of course, anyone who is familiar with Dr. Henry H. Goddard’s classification system for mental retardation that was drawn up in the early 1900’s (and who isn’t?) will know that ‘idiot’ is also a term that was used to describe a mental disability. The word was used to describe a person with an IQ of less than 30; ‘imbecile’ and ‘moron’, other words used frequently today, were also terms included in the system.

So why are these words acceptable? Probably because they were used so often that their original connotations were forgotten, something that is likely to also happen with the word mong if it is allowed to proliferate and become part of an everyday lexicon. Censorship and labelling words as offensive do nothing but draw attention to their original meanings, which would otherwise become unimportant as the word evolves. People from older generations may be shocked to hear young people calling each other ‘retards’ or ‘faggots’ but the fact is that these insults are used in a completely new context, for the most part. It is only on the rare occasions that they are used vindictively in relation to disability or sexual orientation that the debate over their use becomes complicated, and any offence taken can be fully warranted.

Inevitably this episode has raised the issue of censorship of comedians, specifically the question of what, if anything, should be a taboo subject where comedy is concerned. I would be of the opinion that everything is available for parody as long as it’s more funny than it is offensive. Whether it’s religion, race, disability or whatever, by all means use the subject for comedy if you can make it funny. People don’t have a divine right not to be offended and they can simply ignore any comedy that doesn’t appeal to their sensibilities. Any hateful comments masquerading as comedy that simply target these groups or individuals won’t be funny, and are therefore just offensive. There’s a not-so-fine line between the brave, intelligent satire of someone like Louis CK, and the brazen, wilfully ignorant bleatings of the likes of Jim Davidson.

As for words like mong that still upset certain people, hopefully their original meanings will become obsolete with continued use. At this stage as a society we should have moved past the point of mere words being allowed to cause any kind of distress, no matter what their connotations are. Or maybe we’ll always have certain words whose ability to insult and injure is inescapable. Perhaps some of today’s nondescript words will one day be regarded as insults of the highest order. ‘Bieber’ may yet become an outrageously inappropriate slur hurled at simple young men with learning difficulties. The term ‘Glee’ will be used to taunt roving gangs of homosexuals. But worst of all, people whose opinions, and indeed existence, are deemed to be entirely irrelevant will forever be known as ‘Tweeters’. I’d take mong over that any day.