Information Overload

Today is a day of doing things. So far I have managed to do somethings and not others but other have to get done and then I will go all the way to Anglia Ruskin University which is the Cambridge Uni for students who aren’t as clever/stuck up their own rich arse. I have to do stuff today because nothing went to plan yesterday. It started off not going to plan from the second I woke up. This is mostly because I procrastinated too much on Sunday night. Oddly my procrastination involved doing a survey about procrastinating for my friend Vik, which I did instead of doing other stuff I should do. There is part of me that hears that irony and does a dance about how brilliant it is. Sadly the other part of me is still angry I didn’t do the stuff I was meant to do on Sunday night.

One of the main things I was meant to do was to make a banner for a demo with Mark Thomas at the Home Office to demonstrate against Jacqui Smith’s inability to be trusted with the rent. Not only is she claiming her sister’s house in London is her second residence and claiming expenses for that, but the Home Office itself is owned by HSBC infrastructure who are based offshore. Which means the Home Office pays rent to tax dodgers. I couldn’t for the life of me think of a witty slogan to put on a banner and I had a slight fear of turning up with a sub-standard ‘Jacqui Smith Can’t Be Trusted With Sorting Out The Rent’ and for the other protesters to frown on my lack of slogan ability. I knew there had to be something there, but neither Jacqui or Smith really rhymes with anything relevant. Its a fairly pun proof name. Damn her tax and pun dodging ways. There were moments when I couldn’t work out what aspect made me more angry. I also debated whether or not to take custard. I was quite up for taking some but I didn’t really know if anywhere near me sold custard anymore, and had they done it would probably only be instant custard, which would only have been be good if it had rained. I’d like to think that if I had thrown instant custard at Smith she would have thought nothing of it and then hours later she’d have got caught in rain and suddenly be custardated. That’s a new word I just made. Along with ‘custardy’ which is what I eventually put on my banner made of black felt tip and two bits of A3. Its’ minimalist activist art if nothing else. And it was nothing else.

The demo was good fun but I needn’t have worried about my banner as other’s efforts were good but not amazing and there were only about 8 of us there. Chris Coltrane’s banner just listed all the bad things that Jacqui Smith had ever done. It wasn’t very punchy but nicely accurate and consequently was a rather large piece of paper. Jacqui Smith didn’t show in the end which was a shame, and someone assumed she had possibly put her lunch break offshore. Mark did a nice little speech about why we were there and then Richard Brooks from The Guardian and Private Eye told us all of the many many properties including HMRC, lots of schools and hospitals which are all owned by tax dodging off shore companies. Its so disturbing to think that part of this whole financial crisis is caused by fat cats selling off government buildings to people who then don’t pay any tax back. And we wonder why we are in a financial crisis.

I met another virtual friend in the real face which was nice. Especially as on her Twitter picture she doesn’t appear to have a face and this was something that worried me for a while. I can confirm for other Twitterer’s that @kateweb does indeed have a face. Don’t panic at the lack of faceness. It was nice to see Chris too as I haven’t seen him for ages since he became all sensible, quit stand-up for a while and paid off all his debt. He is now not in debt and is returning to stand-up. Such an incredibly sensible thing to do and I was worried that as a result he would have become all dull and only wore suits and discussed gardening. None of these things have happened, and instead it meant that he insisted on buying me coffee all afternoon as we caught up on life, stand-up and a website called 4Chan that contains both some of the most disturbing and hilarious pictures I’ve ever seen. Like this:

This coffee session went on far too long. In a lovely nice way but also in a way that meant I got nothing done. Instead of going home and doing many things we stayed and drank. Chris drank booze and I drank coffee. Strangely I think the coffee affected me more than the booze affected Chris and there were moments that I found it hard to sit still from caffeine overload. Eventually we managed to head towards Camden where I had to interview Mark for I’m not sure how they will edit it down as Mark talked to us about so many ace stories, from the Tobin Tax to people squatting on the M40. I felt rather proud at understanding nearly all of it, and at bits where I didn’t I nodded and just said ‘yep’. I also confessed that I had had Coca-Cola once or twice since reading his book. It was like a moral church confessions booth without all the choir boy mishaps. We finished the interview and then snuck into Mark’s ‘It’s the Stupid Economy’ show. The gig was completely sold out so not wanting to steal a paying customers seat I sat on a stool by the fire exit, while Chris sat with his back to the fire extinguisher. Had there been a fire Chris would have been too drunk to get the extinguisher and I would have been too fidgety to open the door and everyone would have died. This hadn’t been thought through. Luckily there was no fire and instead there was some ace stand up from Mark followed by interviews with three very clever people on the mining industry, carbon trading and currency tax. I managed to understand a lot more of it than I thought I would, and got particularly distressed with the idea of carbon trading. I now understand but still can’t quite grasp how companies are giving credits to pollute the Earth for free and then sell those credits to other companies so they can pollute more if they need to. After all of that I felt both elated at being at the gig, angry at the crapness of our government and brain melted with all the information.

Do you think that if you leave a show like that with your brain feeling like it needs to fall out that that means I’m not that clever? I always leave these sort of shows wishing I had a better ability to grasp it all. It was quite reassuring finding out during the interview that Mark started these nights because he had no idea about it all. Thing is, I have since listened to all his podcasts have read lots of stuff about it and I’m still baffled by what a FTSE is. And I’m pretty sure now that its not a sexual hint or a football trick. I’m getting there though and soon I will know all of it and then feel even more depressed about the credit crunch.That’s the issue though isn’t it? Ignorance is bliss as they say and will I get more sad by knowing all this stuff? I mean look at really stupid people they are often happy aren’t they? Except maybe Jade Goody.

I left the gig last night with a book called ‘The Risks We Run: Mining, Communities and Political Risk Insurance’. I have all intentions of attempting to read it, but I got home put it on the table, covered it with the post and played Street Fighter. I need at least two days of stupidity before I can even begin to start on mining.