Tag Archives: vic suckerbag

Little Squirt

20130730 Fire hydrant face 150x150 Little SquirtSal sent in another picture, or more accurately, she tagged me in one on Facebook.  The caption read, “Vic, [I] went to Southend on sea and this little squirt was in the arcades!!! It’s a fire hydrant!!!!”

That’s the most colourful and high tech fire hydrant I have ever seen.  It’s a very good spot.  Many thanks Sal!

Vic Suckerbag

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Built to last

20110321 Jacket chewing 150x150 Built to last

Today is my parents’ 36th wedding anniversary and a quick Google search reveals that the customary anniversary gift is bone china.  Congratulations Mr and Mrs Suckerbag!  It’s one heck of an achievement and a demonstration of commitment and loyalty.  In this age of “me, me, me!”, mañana and marital breakdown, this is becoming less and less common.  Did you like the alliteration?  Incidentally 1975 is also the year Hosni Mubarak became Vice President of Egypt.  Factoid of the day.

 Today is also the first day of spring though the vernal equinox was yesterday, apparently.  I for one have been looking forward to this day for a long, long time.  Still, it’s early days yet and cold snaps can still pounce on us, but the daffodils are out, the trees are blossoming and the weekend has been beautifully sunny.  Best not put my winter coat away just yet.  More on this later…

I grew up surrounded by an array of household equipment from the mid to late 1970s, which my parents had either received as wedding presents or bought in that period: a chunky orange coloured electric citrus press, a heavy duty toasty maker, an electric mixer the weight of a small boy, a steam iron made out of a brittle metal (iron of some sort) and many others.  Some of these items are still in working order and others, such as the toasty maker, have apparently given up the ghost recently.  Still, that’s a pretty impressive lifespan for a piece of man-made equipment.  How often have you heard people say, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to…”?  I am beginning to find myself saying that.  When I was a child I remember several occasions when a television repair man came to fix the television.  Nowadays if an appliance breaks it is often cheaper to go out and buy a new one.  Alternatively you simply return it to Argos without your receipt and get gift vouchers.  I worked there many years ago when I was a student and their returns policy used to be shockingly relaxed.

So is replacing old with new good or bad?  The jury is out.  It is tempting to say it is a bad thing – it is bad for the environment, as it generates waste.  Superficially it is: physical waste is indeed generated, but what about energy consumption?  In the last few years there has been a trend towards energy efficiency with the introduction of the energy label as per EU Directive 92/75/EC.  I do pay attention to these labels and tend to replace broken items with more energy efficient ones, such as a single cup kettle that allows a lower minimum volume of water than a traditional one.  Energy is one of the pressing issues and last year Ofgem warned that the UK is at risk of electricity shortages and unaffordable gas prices as a result of our energy policy not being fit for purpose.  An estimated £200bn will need to be invested by 2020 in order to avoid a shortfall.

But enough of this doom and gloom…  Where was I…? Yes, remember the coat?  I was looking for a haberdashery – a great word, the etymology of which warrants a separate article – last week because as I stated in my post entitled A Mixed Bag I had bought a winter coat in the sale and one of the poppers came off in less than 24 hours.  Since it was the last one available in my size I figured I would fix it myself and buy myself a set of poppers and a little gizmo for attaching them.  My colleague thought this was “very resourceful” but quickly undid his compliment by quipping that my jacket was probably last season’s fashion.  This beautifully illustrates how things are no longer built to last but very much for the here and now.  This is by no means a new phenomenon, as fashion has come and gone for decades.  I am old enough to notice new items of clothing coming out and remembering the first time (or at least a previous time) they were in fashion!  But that aside, I swear objects are less durable than they once were.

Last season’s fashion or not, I have repaired my jacket and it has a face in it if you turn your head sideways.  It seems to be chewing on my glove.  For goodness sake, Jack – how many times have I told you to chew with your mouth closed…  Jack Anorak seems like a good name for a jacket.  After all, I am Vic Suckerbag.

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Bananas, baked beans and crème brûlée

20110319 Bananas Baked Bean Cans 150x150 Bananas, baked beans and crème brûlée

Regular readers will no doubt have spotted that I usually post an update on Thursdays.  Unfortunately (for you, fortunately for me) I was at a lovely Mexican restaurant on Thursday.  Speaking of food, this photograph is one I took a fairly long time ago now and despite first appearances this is not a contrived face but genuinely the product of randomly unpacking my rucksack after an apparently unproductive trip to the supermarket…  Rest assured I do eat more nutritious meals than just baked beans and bananas.  These items have one thing in common: they have all been eaten and no longer exist in their current form yet they have, in a profound way, become a part of me.  Vic Suckerbag is two cans of baked beans and a pair of bananas… half a crème brûlée a whole lot more.

Back in January when it was snowing, I stood on the platform at the station waiting for my train and saw my breath condense into a yellow cloud against the street lighting in the cold air.  A significant percentage of the human body is water and with every breath you take you lose a part of you.  But you are still nonetheless you.  You replace the water lost with new water in the form of tea, coffee, water (you don’t say), cola, orange juice and sangria to name but a few.  This sounds like a drinks menu in a fancy Mexican restaurant!  The point is that cells in your body keep dying and being replenished.  Are you the same person you were five years ago?  In more ways than one: no.

How many components can you take away from an object before the object ceases to be?  Take a wheel off a car and most people would agree it is still a car.  If you proceed to remove the aerial, is it still a car?  Yes, I would say so.  The question is at what point does the car stop being a car?  When’s a door not a door?  (Why can’t a match box?  Because a tin can…)

One thought is that an object stops being an object when it no longer accurately conforms to its dictionary definition.  A knife is an object that has a sharp edge designed for cutting.  If this cutting edge gets dulled it no longer does its job, so is it still a knife?  I would say it was.  Perhaps it is a case of design intent.  The cutting edge is intended to be sharp therefore it is a knife whether the edge is sharp or not.  But an axe has a sharp cutting edge and it is definitely not a knife.

Another possible answer is when there is no single word to describe the new object.  There is no single word for a car with a wheel and an aerial missing (Skoda?  Sorry, couldn’t resist…) but it is still “substantially” a car.  However, if you continue to strip the interior and exterior away until you are left with a steel frame you no longer have a car but a chassis, for which a word does exist in English albeit on loan from France.  Alternatively, if you stripped away every single component except the aerial, you would be left not with a car but with an aerial.  So far, so good, but what if you stripped away everything except the aerial and the exterior panel to which it is attached?  Then what do you have?  There is not a single word in the English language to describe such an assembly.  But language is arbitrary and some words in one language have no equal counterparts in other tongues.  The Dutch word “gezellig” has no accurate English translation, for example.  With this in mind, there is nothing to stop you inventing a descriptor for the above assembly – a runcible aerial, perhaps – like a runcible spoon.

On analysis there seems to be no clearly defined point at which an object ceases to be and it is subjective.  The real world is a continuum with shades of grey that isn’t captured entirely by language, which by contrast is discrete.  This is part of the human psyche and society has identified people by tags and labels, probably for as long as humans have been in existence: northerner, Whigs, chav… and so on.

If you were to cut the big toe off your left foot, would you still be you?  Your quality of life would certainly change, but the essence of you would be changed no more than it would if you had a haircut, though this depends on what you mean by the essence of something or someone.

What is that object?  What am I?  Who am I?  In the words of a now defunct mobile telephone operator: you’re every one-to-one you’ve ever had.  Profound words – for an advertising slogan…

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An attitude to life

20110314 Pink bin 150x150 An attitude to life

Not too long ago I was introduced to a teacher, we got chatting and I told her about my website.  She promised to take a picture of her pink bin; she likes the colour pink and that’s an understatement.  I, in turn, said I would write something about it.  True to her word, I got the picture and strictly speaking this isn’t the kind of face I normally write about, but it still deserves an honourable mention; It’s kind of cute and I’m a sucker(bag) for a smile. 🙂

 Promises are great when kept.  They inspire confidence and demonstrate reliability and trustworthiness.  Promises are easily made, yet easily broken (by some).  This is true for both explicit and implied promises.  There is the old adage which says that it takes years to build trust but it is broken in an instant, or words to that effect. This is particularly true in this day and age of fast “this” and instant “that”, greatly exacerbated by digital media, where people are living more self-centred lives (the Facebook Generation) and living more for the here, the now and the “me” than ever before.  Put your hands up if you know who your neighbours are.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist that teacher’s reference!)  Even living in Bristol, which is one of the friendliest places I have lived, I have no idea who my current neighbours are and they have no idea Vic Suckerbag lives next door.

When I moved back to Bristol in 2008, having been away for some time, I found a flat in the city centre.  One day I met a nice couple in the stair well, we had a chat and they ended up becoming familiar faces.  We greeted each other whenever we bumped into each other.  Bristol is a bit of a big village in that respect – despite its large population I often see familiar faces – even old colleagues I met whilst working during the summer as a student all those years ago, some of them unaware that I had even left the city at all.

Increasingly it seems there is less of a need to know your neighbours, which is a shame.  If you’re out of sugar you can nip out to a 24-hour supermarket or convenience store and get some.  If you need a ladder, you can buy one because they are cheap – or better still, you can pay someone else to do the job that requires a ladder, for you.

It seems people are becoming less willing to give up their time for other and are losing their willingness to help each other out.  In some way that’s understandable, considering the hours some people work.  Or people make promises and renege on them on a whim or in a pre-meditated move because they didn’t dare say “no”.  Everyone has been let down by others and, in turn, let others down – even if not intentionally.  We are all human after all – even me, despite my red plastic exterior and that gormless open-mouthed look on my face… You may think I’m just a vacuum cleaner… 😉

Was it really better in the past?  It’s probably a case of rose-tinted spectacles…  The bin sums it up nicely: it represents the past and has a nice rosy pink hue.  It’s smiling on the outside, but it is a façade masking the conveniently forgotten reality contained within.

Or perhaps more positively, it shows that it’s good to be alive and sometimes those things that bother or hurt are best forgotten: smile and let the world turn a pinker shade of pink.  To quote the photographer, “Pink… is an attitude to life!!”

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