Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The State of Us

Here are my predictions for my 2014 social media status updates. I was going to give it a clever title that was a homophonic pun on media that included the words 'me' and 'year' but I decided that looked silly.


Is hanging
Can't get this banging out of my head
Will definitely be staying in bed today
Definitely not drinking for 
the rest of the month (except for
Jen's birthday...
And Maria's birthday...
And weekends don't count...
Nor do Wednesdays)


Thanks for all those birthday messages
Younger People:
      You are right!
      I am looking/acting/feeling very old
Older People:
      You are right!
      I don't know how lucky I am 
      To look/act/feel so young


Is willing winter over now
Is certain it was warmer this time last year
Has had it pointed out by fifty pedants that last spring was the coldest spring since records began


Some thoughts on Easter:
      Too concerned about cavities for chocolate eggs
      Too incredulous for church


Is venturing outside for fun not necessity 
Is ankle-deep in bluebells
Has dipped a toe in the grey North Sea
(will give it a couple of months before
offering any further body parts)


Is off on holiday :)
Is back to work today :(


Is barbecuing
And drinking beer
With friends on sunny Sunday

Is skipping work
Due to dodgy tum
And hangover and sunburn


Some thoughts on festivals:
      Three days no sleep was more appealing once
      Three sleeps a day is more appealing now


Still feel Back-to-School
Although I haven't been to school
for years, I still get stage-fright dreams
and homework anxiety in September


Is all partied and pumpkined out


Photographs of moustaches


Xmas I expect
It all seems very distant and harder to predict 


Monday, 23 December 2013

An Xmas Parable

The sub-militant atheist in me vividly recalls a school assembly being given by Mr Baker - a zealot through and through, he was a Christian and a PE teacher - wherein he expounded on a few reasons why one should never, ever use the term Xmas for Christmas. 

If I recall correctly, and nobody can check, these all boiled down to the same couple of points: - Christmas was about Christ, not about X and it was offensive to Christians to use X to represent the name of the anointed one. 

The assembly sticks in my mind however as it was one of the first times that I heard (and dismissed as stupid) a Straw Man argument. I didn't know then that the fallacy had a name. I just sensed something not quite right. A Straw Man is a rhetorical technique whereby one presents a version of an opponent's argument that is easily refuted (i.e. 'knocked down' geddit?)and uses that refutation to bolster ones own position. 

Or, as Mr Baker put it (obviously, I paraphrase):

"It has been argued that it is fine to use Xmas for Christmas because the X represents the Cross on which Jesus was crucified. But look closely at the shape of the X and compare it to the cross on which the Romans crucified Christ. They are different. And anyway Jesus was executed at Easter and Christmas is about celebrating his birth. So you would be wrong to write Xmas in your Christmas cards!"

I vowed that day never to write the word Christmas when Xmas would do instead (i.e. in every single context apart from this one). In my more militant days, I used to cross out Christ and replace it with an X in cards with a pre-printed message.

St Peter getting crucified on an X shaped cross.
That's my Xmas anecdote for this year. Have a very merry Xmas everyone!

Friday, 15 November 2013

On Chess

It's world championship season in my favourite game. Chess. It's quite an unsexy word - Chess - heavy on the sibilants. I like the opening sneeze of a consonant cluster, the burp of a central voiced vowel and the challenging hiss at its close. Chess is one of the few nouns that is truly noncount - it can't be pluralised in any circumstances. To me, this property reflects the game's universality and something of the paradox that although there are incalculably many possible games, there is only one chess.

My ambition for this week is to get a tweet read out by the commentators on the official FIDE live stream. I may have started too boldly, asking, "does this championship represent the death of combination chess?" My point being that in the hypermodern game the Grandmasters spend the whole time adopting positions that prevent their opponents making combinations (ie imaginative sequences of moves that lead to an advantage).

Back in the nineties, I fell in love with televised chess when nerdy English Grandmaster Nigel Short challenged surly Russian polymath Garry Kasparov. Kasparov thrashed him with brilliantly inspired combinations that inspired me to play the Sicilian defense as black for over a decade (these days I prefer Alekhine's). Kasparov went on to become a sort of enfant terrible in Russian politics - standing up to the billionaire oligarchs that have feasted on the rich spoils of the collapse of Sovietism. Short became an olive farmer.

Magnus Carlsen vs Viswanathan Anand has been billed as the 22 year old Norwegian Wunderkind taking on the old guard of the Indian academies. But there haven't been the predicted fireworks. The first four games in the current championship have all been draws. I nipped out to get a haircut during the middlegame today and nobody made a move whilst I was gone.

Thursday, 31 October 2013


There are a lot of festivals associated with this time of year. But in the fantasy Westcountry of my childhood, the 31st of October was always celebrated as Allantide (or Nos Kalan Gwav in Cornwall but the Cornish always insist on being so Cornish). Every Allantide, every child would be given a large Allan apple to shine and put under their pillow (and possibly eat, I never ate mine, I can't stand apples). 

I suspect that Allantide is just not a very marketable concept. With Allantide, the rules were as strict as if they had been designed by the Chinese Communist Party: one Allan apple per child. No more, no less. No room for market expansion. Allan apples are in season just before Allantide - so parents could literally just pick them off a tree. So when the big supermarkets were picking an Autumn festival to push, Guy Fawkes and Halloween had a distinct advantage. 

Guy Fawkes' Night is good for a market economy. Think of all those dad's old suits that have been stuffed with newspaper and ignited. And fireworks cost a bomb. Fortunately, there are now laws in place to prevent the current generation of British thirteen-year-olds indulging in the time-honoured tradition of letting fireworks off in park bins in memory of the man who tried to blow up the monarchy in 1605. But, what do they do instead? They buy a red plastic trident and demand Haribo from such neighbours as aren't too scared or elderly to open the door at night.

The marketing of Halloween (especially Halloween decorations) is a triumph of the free market so great as to make every anarcho-syndicalist (even the pommophobic ones) want to crawl under the covers and polish an Allan apple. Supermarkets literally sell the unsellable at Halloween.  There must have been a marketing meeting once where the question was asked: What are we going to do with all these giant orange squashes that don't taste of anything?

Pumpkin carving with the NRA
Halloween tat of terrible quality is manufactured in third world factories and then shipped in vast quantities to England where it is brought by parents responding to pester power from children responding to weeks of hype on television. Unlike Xmas decorations (which are usually just about of sufficient quality or expense to be kept in a box in the attic until next year) Halloween decorations are cheap bits of ugly plastic vaguely formed into a bat or spider or ghoulish mask all festooned with fake cobwebs and the only thing that can be done with them once November comes is to throw them all away and start the whole ghastly process again the following year.

I'm approaching what I imagine to be the limit of your patience, so I'll save 'Fancy Dress' until next year.

Oh and... Happy Sauin to my sole reader on the Isle of Man! (Probably Jamie).

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Ranting about work (part 2)

This is my fiftieth post! Hard to believe, isn't it? Thanks everyone who takes the time to read me. I know from the blogger stats that my most popular posts are the ones where I bang on about things that annoy me at work. So, here you go... 

Everybody should be familiar by now with my views on ice (see earlier posts Ranting about work (part one)and On ice (and ice cream) if you are in need of a refresher) but it turns out there are other things that piss me off about working behind a bar. I made a mental note of some of them so that I could share them with you and you can stop doing them. Here are three:

1)Your average barkeep is on his feet for eight hours a day, walks upwards of six miles a shift, sells his labour power for little more than minimum wage and spends a lot of time sober around drunk people. If you notice he is not smiling - why not tell him to cheer up?

2)It may occur to you while you are at the bar that your friends may want a drink also. A good idea in this situation is to wait until your footsore bartender has poured your drink and then (and only then) shout across the room to find out what Fred wants. Once Fred's drink is standing next to your own - that is the best time to ask Deirdre what she wants. Repeat for each subsequent round. Try to make sure your barman has tilled the order before adding to it. Before paying, wander off to double-check you remembered everybody and get sidetracked into a conversation about Norwich City football club.

3)If you have played a game of pool in the last fortnight you will probably want to share a shot-by-shot account of how the frame was won. Your friends may wander off but - don't worry! - your limping underpaid sober bartender is being paid to stand there and listen. Don't forget to include lots of confusing counterfactuals in your story. "If he'd gone for the red by the top corner then he would've freed my yeller, so he took the long red along the cushion - missed it - and snookered himself!"

All this sarcasm's given me a headache.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Relatively Speaking

Sometimes I think insufficient love is given to Galilean Relativity. Ever since the Special and General Relativities became so fashionable in the early 20th Century, I don't think simple old Galilean Relativity has been getting its due. And I intend to remedy that today.  

Asked by a journalist in 1919 whether it was true that only three people in the world understood Albert Einstein's theory of General Relativity, Mathematician and all-round smug git, Arthur Eddington is reputed to have replied, "Who's the third?" I like to imagine that the next question the journalist asked was: "How did you manage to wangle a two year trip to New Zealand to study an eclipse at a time when all of Europe is engaged in bloody war and can I come with you?" 

To understand General Relativity you need to wrap your skull around ideas such as four-dimensional curved spacetime and the equivalence of gravity and acceleration. Even its predecessor, Special Relativity, requires you to suspend intuition so far as to imagine that the Speed of Light is the same for all observers no matter how fast they are travelling. But Galilean Relativity is so simple and intuitive that I invented it when I was Fourteen.

I mean, I didn't get credited with it or anything. It's not called Finnginnian Relativity because obviously Galileo Galilei got there first in 1632 (at the age of 68!).  

Late developer Galileo Galilei
I had never heard of Galilean Relativity, when, travelling on an escalator on a school trip in the mid-1990s, I felt compelled to remark to my companion: "How do we know we are moving? We might just be staying still and everything else is moving past us." "Finn," my companion replied, "That sort of comment is precisely why you are never going to get off with any girl ever."

I saw immediately that he was right and resolved to keep all my relativistic thoughts firmly on the inside of my head from that moment on. 

Years later, I read about Galilean Relativity and how early modern scientists had realised that the question, "Are we moving?" has no meaning unless a reference frame is specified. "Is everything moving relative to my static position on this escalator?" is equally as valid a question as "Is this escalator moving?"

These days, I'm not so self conscious, I'll just go ahead and talk about Galilean Relativity and if nobody wants to listen... well... that's what this blog is for!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Lord Finnginn

My girlfriend needs more space. Literally. She's working from home today so I have been banished from my usual blogging spot at the dining table, so she can have room for all the notes, coasterless cups of tea and banana skins that are essential in a hard day's working-from-home. 

I'm more productive when Charlie's around, because I'm terrified that she thinks I spend all day napping and watching Millionaire Matchmaker on ITV2 plus one. Whereas everyone knows that I get up early to go for a jog around the park to clear my head ready to add a thousand words to that day's project. Alright, that's not strictly true. But I am limiting myself to one nap per day (two if I rise before 10am) and I only watch daytime television if I'm ill (and hangovers count as ill).

Most of my time is split between reading and staring out the window thinking about stuff. Uppermost in the chamber of my mind this week has been House of Lords reform. I've long been an advocate of a second chamber filled by lottery. I call the idea democracy from a Greek root meaning rule of the people. The current system of appointments is absurd - the House of Lords is filling up with party donors. Buy yourself a peerage. But did you know that two appointments per year are put before the Prime Minister by the House of Lords Appointments Commission? And any UK citizen can apply! Seriously here's the link! 

It gets better - last year only 400 people were nominated or put themselves forward. Four hundred applicants - two peerages. 200-1 odds of becoming a Lord! I intend to put myself forward forthwith. The pay is £300 a day! - On a good day I earn, what, thirty quid?

This evening, when Charlie asks just what the hell I've been doing all day? Instead of saying: "I read 200 pages of Barber's Myths and Legends of the British Isles" or "I spent two hours playing online chess and decreased my Elo rating by 78 points"; I will be able to say: "I applied for a peerage." 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Conjectures and Refutations

Karl Popper taught David Miller who taught John Collins who taught me. It's like Papal succession. So I'm sure Karl would have been pleased to hear how I recently applied the Principle of Falsification to an area of frustration in my own life.

The Principle of Falsification is a much misunderstood solution to the Problem of Induction. So we're going to need some background here but, please, bear with me, I promise I'll be brief.

The problem of Induction asks, 'how the hell can we know anything for certain?' and everybody since David Hume, who first articulated the problem, has basically come to the conclusion that we can't. Popper, too, is in the 'we can't' camp but he points out that what we can do is rule things out.

Regular readers of this space will know that Charlie, Spike and I recently moved into a new flat. It was not long before we noticed a melancholic melody emanating from the back wall of the kitchen. A sort of high pitched 'brrng whrrrlllrrrng brrrng' Spike didn't seem too bothered by it, but it was seriously annoying the human occupants. What the hell kind of weird music were the neighbours listening to? It was a musical sound but it wasn't music. There was no way that anybody would listen to that noise for pleasure. So, like good Popperians, we abandoned our initial conjecture and decided that it must be the neighbours' kids playing some repetitive computer game. However the noise continued at intervals all through the night. So that seemed unlikely too.

A few days passed and the noise started to invade our every waking moment, it was cyclical and would increase in volume and then suddenly stop. But even when unheard we found ourselves listening for it. Can you hear it, yet? Even Spike, who is usually the most laid back, was starting to feel agitated.

Sometimes you don't know where a hypothesis comes from. Hypothesis creation is the imaginative part of science that doesn't get the credit that is heaped on the logical part. However, suddenly it came to me, the noise wasn't from the neighbours at all. Our new freezer was singing to us. We had a singing freezer. 

When I first mentioned this idea, it was met with some scepticism. But I was taught by a man who was taught by a man who was taught by Karl Popper, so I know how to react when confronted by a sceptical girlfriend and cactus. 'What would Popper do in this instance?' I asked myself. 'He would try his best to refute his conjecture,' I answered myself.

I waited until the sound was in crescendo then reached for the switch and turned the freezer off. If the sound continued then, by the principle of falsification, I would have to abandon my singing freezer hypothesis. If the sound stopped then my theory was corroborated (but crucially not proven.)

The sound stopped. The freezer's 'on' cycle was causing the pipes at the back to vibrate and that in turn seemed to create a feedback loop which caused the sound to increase in intensity until the freezer went into its 'off' cycle (or I pulled the plug).

Now we've filled it up a bit, it doesn't seem so bad, I think the empty box was acting as an amplifier as well.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


I have recently finished my annual fortnight of real work. For two weeks every August, the Boss disappears on an exotic foreign holiday and I get left in charge of the pub. Obviously, the very nature of management is anathema to my anarcho-syndicalist soul and I spend a lot of time worrying about having to ask the staff to do something and have to precede every request with 'Would you mind terribly...' I generally let them finish ten minutes early just so I can wipe down the tables myself rather than ask them to do it. 

The timing of this autocratic interlude was particularly inconvenient as I have just moved into a new flat and I would much rather have been spending my time fussily arranging books into a classification system of my own devising. 

Every time I move, I convince myself that this will be the house in which I fulfill some of my unfulfilled ambitions: reading Being and Nothingness, listening to more classical music and writing a novel. If I had actually started the thousand-words-a-day regime at the time I started this blog I could have written about six novels by now.

Sorry there's no overarching theme to today's entry. Here is a picture of Spike relaxing in the new flat:

Spike and his new friend Lily settling in to their new abode.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

On ice (and ice cream)

It's hot in England. By English standards anyway. Has been for weeks. A heat wave. And with a wave of heat comes a tsunami of ignorance about ice. If I have a purpose in life it is to educate people about ice. We have touched previously on reasons why ice preferences should not be linked to the temperature outside.(see Ranting about work (part one)) Now it's time to examine the dual properties of ice.

Ice can serve two purposes: it can cool and it can dilute. The more ice you have the longer your drink stays cool, the less ice you have the faster it dilutes. (Got that? Good. I was worried you were going to ask me to draw a graph or something and I've never learnt to use Excel.) These are the two factors that should be considered when your hot, overworked, underpaid bartender asks if you want ice. How cold do I want my drink and how much do I want my drink diluted? HINT: It's pretty much only neat spirits that need diluting, your cider doesn't. So when your hot, tired, overworked, underpaid bartender, who would rather not be in the darkest pub in Norwich on the hottest day of the year, asks if you would like ice in your cider and you say 'a little bit', he may not be in the mood for giving you a quick lecture on basic physics, he might just give you what you ask for and smirk while you drink your watery cider.

Now, What is the weather like outside? It's hot in England. The sort of weather where you might fancy a White Chocolate Magnum. Well if you do, don't go to my local shop because they have sold out. And if you do go to my local shop and see that they have sold out and think, 'Well, I don't want a Double Caramel Magnum because I don't like caramel ruining my ice-cream and filling up the cavities in my teeth and I don't want a Caramel Magnum because that's the same price as a Double Caramel Magnum and I don't want to feel I'm being ripped off even though I don't like caramel in my ice cream for the aforementioned reasons and I don't want a Magnum Infinity because that's a flavour that's not a flavour (like 'blue' or 'tropical') and I have an aversion to flavours that aren't flavours, I'd better go for mint.' If you do go for mint you'll probably regret it and wish you'd just got a Feast instead.

Apologies to my international readers for the rant about local ice-cream brands. It's hot in England. We're not used to it.

Friday, 26 April 2013

William of Ockham

Following on from yesterday's crowdpleasing rant (a record 7 'likes' on my alter ego's facebook page) I've decided to abuse my new found popularity to shoehorn in some philosophy and hopefully lose some of the late-to-the-game hangers-on that have started lurking around the site and go back to the days when it was just me and ubilol harping on about Bertrand Russell.

Regular readers have heard all about the origins of Finnginn, but few will know that it was this fiction of my pre-school self that first led me to encounter Ockham's Razor.

About 25 years before I was to name a blog about procrastination after him, I was convinced of Fiengins's existence (Fiengins was his real name, I just couldn't pronounce it, so adults thought I was saying Finnginn). At that age I was unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy. On a good day, I still can't.

I expect the two of you who have bothered to read this far are wondering, 'But where does William of Ockham fit into all of this?' Whenever I would blame Fiengins for some minor misdemeanour, my Father would say, "Avoid the needless multiplication of entities," and, upon observing the look of puzzlement on my cherubic face, would add, mystifyingly: "Ockham's Razor."  

Nearly three decades and a philosophy degree later I finally understand what this means. Ockham was the first person to point out that when looking for an explanation the simplest is most likely to be the correct one.

For instance, if an Easter Egg that I had been specifically told was to be saved for after dinner got eaten while I was in the house and everyone else was in the garden, there are two possible explanations:

1: I ate it.

2: A friend of mine that nobody else can see ate it.

Ockham sports the tonsured look.

On a good day, I recently found myself speculating whether an Orangutan had broken into my bathroom and deposited lots of two inch long ginger hairs into the plughole filter. But, remembering Ockham, I stopped myself invoking plurality and had a look in the  mirror. Maybe Ockham and I have something other than philosophy in common... 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Ranting about work (part one)

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I have altered my header so that it no longer reads 'hungover and debt-ridden'. It had been annoying me for some time. Nobody's permanently hungover, you have to be drunk at least as often as you are hungover. Being drunk is great as long as you haven't got anything productive to do tomorrow. Hangovers taste like soda-water. Sobriety, despite tasting like a cup of  lukewarm tea you didn't ask for but are drinking to be polite, isn't too bad for short periods and is great for productivity.

Of course, most of my readers know me as a Finnginn the philosopher/poet. But that is just my dayjob. By night, I am translated into a bartender at one of Norwich's many taverns. It occurs to me that there has been far too much poetry and philosophy on this blog and insufficient ranting about things that annoy me at work. Glancing around the rest of the blogosphere, most people don't spend months carefully constructing a poem then tenderly offer it up for criticism with an amusing anecdote that involves Steven Hawking and a girl they failed to get off with by starting a band despite a complete lack of musical ability (see The Choral Variation (part one)). No, be they postmanpolice officer or prostitute, most bloggers just seem to rant about work.

Now, there are two issues that bother every bartender. Music and ice.

Next time you are in a pub and a song you don't like comes on, here's a tip: If you wait three minutes, the track will change. If you decide to interrupt the bartender's battle with the Guardian cryptic crossword and ask him to change the track manually, you are entering dangerous ground. You may do this once per evening. He will, begrudgingly, leave his arch-nemesis Araucaria and skip the track. Never ask him to put something 'upbeat' or 'less depressing' on. You may get your one upbeat track, but listen out for an hour of Nick Cave later in your evening.

Don't imagine for a moment that you understand ice. When you are asked if you would like ice in that, don't reply 'a little bit' as if I'm going to listen to your preferences. I'm in charge of the ice. You are permitted only one preference, with or without. I begrudge you even this, but must comply. As for you who link your ice preferences to the temperature outside, I despise you.

When I ask you: 'would you like ice in your gin and tonic?' I am just fulfilling a social custom to which there is only one answer. How are you? I'm fine. Would you like ice in your gin and tonic? Yes. Essentially, I am asking you the opposite of, 'Would you like your gin and tonic to get gradually warmer and flatter over the next twenty minutes?' Only an insane person would answer 'yes' to this question. But that is the same as answering 'no' to ice in your gin and tonic.

There is a lot more to be said on the whole music/ice issue. I have added a 'part one' in parenthesis to the title of this blogpost. Be warned.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Rhyme Time

I got the bulk of this poem written in a single night and then took a month editing and tinkering. I even altered it a bit whilst typing it up here. But I think I'm happy with its basic shape now. It's about my Grandfather and the rowing boat he used to take my brother and I out in when we were children. The title refers to the boat which was called Pickle Pickle for reasons that remain obscure.

In a Pickle

Your strong arms
Steer long oars
Through calm seas.
Your arms seem so strong to me.

On wet sands,
Your deft hands
Unweave knots.
With strong arms,
You heave your boat down the beach.

My sea legs
Are feeling
I'm queasy,
You teach me
To fix my
Young eyes on
The distant
Horizon where sky greets sea.

My young eyes
Look up to
Your strong arms
And deft hands
And kenning of sea and breeze.

I think you
Would not be
To tall ship
Or longboat
And I hope
That one day
My arms will
Have strength like
The strength when your arms lift me.

I have noticed, in my recent notebooks, that my attitude to rhyme has been evolving. I'm moving away from formal rhyming structures and employing more internal and half rhymes. I really don't know why, I much prefer to read poems that rhyme. 

This previous is typical of my more recent notes in this trend of not formally rhyming but atypical in that it is complete.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A week of writing

Every Spring without fail I have an idea for a novel. 

On the first day of writing, I will bang out thousands of words in notes and sections of prose and conversations where I will fill in the names and details afterwards. 

On the second day of writing, I will sit in the garden with my notebook, watching the bees sniff lazily at the rosebush I should probably be pruning. Then I scrawl furiously for an hour and a half. 

On the third day of writing, I will transfer notebook notes to laptop and feel smug about wordcount.

On the fourth day, I won't write much but will try and fill in the names and details I omitted during the rush of creativity on day one.

On the fifth day, I worry that I'm not progressing as fast as I was earlier. I re-read the earlier stuff and start to hate it.

On the sixth day, I wonder if there is anything in my archive that I can crowbar in to get the wordcount up.

On the seventh day, I wake up and see that autumn has come and I go back to bed and wait for Spring and a new idea.

Monday, 28 January 2013

New Year's Revolutions

In Norfolk they call New Year's Eve, "Old Year's Night". I like that. It suggests a time for reflecting on the past year, not making ill-conceived plans for abstinence in the coming one. Not that I'd let a mere semantic twist get in the way of a good list of resolutions. This year I have resolved to: 

Give up drinking for January (New Year's Day doesn't count.) Failed on the 5th.

Take more exercise (and, apparently, learn to spell exercise, I thought it had a 'c' after the 'x' like in 'except')
Jury's out on this one as it has been snowing. You can't expect people to exercise in the snow.

Read more novels (I mostly read non-fiction.)
But then Charlie did get me that thousand page history of human violence by Steven Pinker for Xmas.

And, of course, give up smoking. I love smoking. It has been pointed out to me that it is a drug that kills you that doesn't even get you high. But I still love it. Here's why:

Because you're having one.
Because, in school, 
I wanted to impress Julia and Jamie and Leann.
Because it was banned
Because I wasn't old enough.
Because I was old enough.

Because you're having one.
Because of Vonnegut and Stephen Fry and Che Guevara.
Because my father does.
Because my mother doesn't.

Because you're having one.
Because dinner's nearly ready.
Because of tea.
Because of after-dinner coffee.

Because you're having one.
Because I'm stressed.
Because I passed.
Because I think I failed that test.
Because of night.
Because of morning.
Out of sheer delight
Or when I'm dressed in black and mourning.

Because you're having one.
Because I'm drunk.
Because I'm hungover.
Because I've got 400 duty-frees
And we've just arrived in Dover.
Because I'm angry.
Because I'm cloaked in post-coital bliss.
Because when I'm pissed
I've got no self restraint.

Because you're having one.
Because of chess.
Because of poker.
Because the evening's nearly over
Or the day barely begun.
Because the sun is shining.
Because the thaw is due.
Because of who I am
Because of you.

Because you're having one.
Because today is here 
And who cares about tomorrow.
Because of the duality of human joy and sorrow.
Because you've got the only lighter 
And you're leaving.
Because the afternoon has darkened
Into evening.
Because we're out.
Because we're home.
Because the loneliness is unbearable.
Because my new tobacco pouch is full.
Because I'm hungry.
Because I'm running out.
Because you offered.
Because I can't be bothered 
To get up
And anyway 
We're set up 
For the day
And you are having one.

Not that I blame you...
You're probably only smoking
Because I am smoking, too. 

Smoking like a boss. 

Smoking like an addict. I should lend this photograph to the government department responsible for the anti-smoking adverts.

I've just noticed that I am wearing the same T-shirt in both these pictures. Maybe next year, I will make a resolution to sort out my wardrobe.