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What a day this has been...

We're coming up to the first anniversary of backlash... it started last year with an article about this time of year, what I call the silly season. Though the site has gone through a number of changes and articles in the last twelve months, the world hasn't really changed at all. This time of year still has the power to get right on my nerves. Since backlash is all about that very subject, here's a little insight into today.

The day started badly with an early morning. Admittedly all days start with early mornings, whether I'm awake or not. Unfortunately, today I was awake. Stopping between the bed and the front door only to perform the necessary bathroom trip, laying on of clothes, and to raid the fridge for my lunch (prepared the night before), I cursed the god of morning blindness when I had to return and waste five minutes searching for the keypad to my car stereo, which had been under my nose!

The morning dose of Radio 2 was not at full strength, since Mr Wogan was not broadcasting this morning. Luckily the replacement DJ is also a favourite and so there was no harm done. Sadly, the same could not be said for my dose of morning antibiotics. I remembered that I'd forgotten to take them a short time into my journey, by which time it was too late. Morning irritation, coupled with my complete lack of organisation meant that it was a dangerous thing to cross my path as I scooted along the roads towards work. Unfortunately, one particular child was not sensible enough to realise that I was not planning on stopping; his mate realised and stayed at the far side of the road. The first child, however, a young lad of around 12, found that he would need to make good time across the road for his own health. He made it (of course, I'd never intentionally mow someone down - not even in the morning, not even with my road rage). He looked back at me and I gestured the "wanker" sign at him. I could tell that he was really interested, he kept staring at me as I left him behind. Perhaps he was not accustomed to being branded a tosser by motorists, or perhaps he was noting down the precise action of my hand for future reference (being close to the age of puberty).

I nearly got a little flustered by the traffic to work, which is usually mild, but seems to know when you're making an effort to be early and get itself suitably congested to prove a point. The point is that you don't want to go to work early. I already know that!

The working day itself was pretty good. A slight irritation when I discovered that a part I intended to fit into a cabinet was 8 inches too short. Even more irritating when I discovered that the so-called adjustable mountings in the cabinet, which could be moved to accommodate this part, would require the entire cabinet to be taken to pieces (I'd estimate a couple of hundred pieces) before adjusting. I discovered this too late into my attempt to disassemble the cabinet. I put it back together ok - I think!

Being hallowe'en, I wasn't surprised when a bunch of kids appeared at my door, heavily disguised. I assumed that they were there for the usual seasonal begging, but it turned out that they just wanted to rob me blind and leave no identification... (joke). They asked what I would give them for hallowe'en, I said I'd give them ten. "Ten what?" said one. "Ten out of ten for looking like bloody idiots.", I retorted. In fact, this incident with the kids didn't quite happen. What really happened was that a small group of kids was making its way around the street and I pretended not to be in when they rang my doorbell.

It makes me wonder, as I sit in my front room, worried about my pretense of absence being rumbled by the group of infants on my doorstep. I wonder why a grown man is too ashamed to go to his own front door and tell the rabble on the doorstep to shove off. I wonder why there are kids around the streets at nine thirty at night, when they should be in bed. But most of all, I wonder what these kids are doing it for. Surely there's more to hallowe'en than begging on my doorstep? And of the forthcoming bonfire night, the mnemonic is "Remember, remember the 5th of November"... so why are they begging and throwing bangers in the street in September? Perhaps they have trouble hearing (or listening, more like!).

The bottom line, the kids who put on a bin-bag and a fifty pence fright mask are only in it for two things, they want sweets and money for fireworks. Frankly, if I wanted to see fat person lighting up, I'd simply wander into a greasy spoon cafe... I'm not going to put my money into funding these delinquents. However, I'm not going to have a go at them either. As much as I'd love to fling open the door, wielding a dripping, blooded meat cleaver and letting out a hellish gargling scream, I know for a fact that the kids that run away will soon return with some meaty tattooed man with no body hair and a baseball bat. Therefore, I'll lie low in my front room and listen to the young voices saying "They're in, you know. Ring the bell again!".

The perfect end to the perfect day was the call centre call. I think that there's something wrong with our call centre culture. The automatons who work at these places are not what I call helpful. Today we received a call, which I reluctantly went to the phone and answered - nothing... a dead line, which ultimately terminated itself. Dialing 1471 for the caller ID told me it was a number withheld. Imagining a prank call to be responsible, I answered the phone again a few minutes later to a ringing tone - as though I was placing the call. The call centre person wanted my partner - "It's the bank" she said. "Which bank?" I asked; my partner banks with more than one. My simple question seemed to phase Miss Scripted, but eventually I got an answer from her and the "courtesy call" between call centre and bank customer got underway. In my opinion, call centres should be banned from withholding their numbers, since the errors causing blank lines can seem like harassment.

Amazing that a bank's branch that's one hundred and fifty miles away from our house thinks that my partner might like to pop in for a chat, regarding an account that is barely used... I said it was a funny time of the year!

30 October 2001
Ashley Frieze