I started off with a jokey rant about PC World. Not, as our noble readers might have assumed, against the Politically Correct thought police, kill joys and Quislings who would prescribe we all eat only muesli and abstain from fine ale, wear sandals, and would gladly make Christmas unlawful on the grounds that it might offend illegal immigrants and ex members of the Mujahedeen who are currently claiming asylum whilst living in 7 bedroom mansions in Kensington. Pish and tosh! No, a rant about the real enemy within, PC bloody World. Who seem to have merged with that other spawn of Satan in the world of electricals, Currys. A truly unholy and unnatural union.
It is my own fault. I have had bad experiences before. These stores are invariably staffed by either spotty little geeks who canât communicate or aggressive sales types. I am not very computer literate and I find the whole thing a bit of a bore and a mystery and quite stressful. I just want to get in, buy something and get home so I can find out that (inevitably) I canât make it work anyway and have âclosureâ. I have never had any sensible advice from any of the staff, and I have never forgiven them for the salesman who told me the laptop I was buying had Wi-Fi (or something) when it didnât. And then the bloody thing overheated anyway and broke. So I have always made it my determined policy to keep out of the places. I have stuck to it for a long time.
But this week I had an emergency. You see I was writing away, doing some urgent sermons or some such (freelance sermon writing makes me a few bob on the side) when *phut!* my battered old monitor abruptly passed on to the Other Side! A quick, clean death, but highly inconvenient.
So I needed a new monitor. In a state of high dudgeon I decided not to do my usual and rely on the hugely dependable and efficient Amazon. I could access that via my laptop but I would have had to wait a day or two and I wanted my main PC back up and running straight away. So I decided to take decisive action and toddled toute de suite in the monkmobile down to the nearest PC outlet, which happened to be PC Word/Currys at a joyless retail park.
I entered into the vast, soulless outlet, and to be fair at first it didnât go too badly. OK, so what if the entire place is like some giant celebratory Damien Hirst tribute to the underclass who just sit drinking lager and watching their relatives and mates on Jeremy Kyle all day and Sky Sports all night on these huge âsurround soundâ things? I could live with that.
It actually had a half decent array of monitors, and I could buy one for less than Â£90.00 including VAT, provided I didnât want one with high resolution for âgamingâ or something. I didnât. I just want to type stuff. Even the sales bloke was Ok and offered to go and get me one out of storage. So far, so good. Then the fun and games began. Was I using it for a business or for home use? Yes, was the accurate answer. I use it for business at home. Ah well, then I had to go to the business centre to pay to get a VAT receipt. So off he goes to get one from the store and there I am standing in this big hanger which at 10 oâclock in the morning is pounding out a cacophony of various noises (films, different media all blasting out) and I am getting a headache even remembering it. And then the bloke in the âbusiness centreâ starts interrogating me!
âAre you registered with us?â says he.
âNo,â says I.
âSo what is your post code?â he asks, firing up his computer, and expecting me to give it like all the other customers do.
âNone of your businessâ says I, in that polite but menacing way I can always feel before a serious pub fight starts, and you reach for a bottle or a snooker cue.
I am not being that funny. I am not that fussed or conspiracy minded, but I just donât like or want to be on peopleâs data bases. I donât have a reward card from Tesco or Sainsburyâs for example. I just prefer anonymity. I donât want spam emails or junk mail either. So here is this bloke telling me that he canât give me a VAT invoice unless I give him my name address and email and date of birth. At which point we had a bit of an altercation because I didnât want to give any information. It got very irritating with me having to explain to this Muppet that I didnât want to share my intimate details with his bosses, and that I didnât want to.
To be fair, it wasnât his fault, he will be just have been obeying orders from on high, doing his pretty s**t job as told. In fact, because I was in a hurry and not particularly in the mood for an argument or a fight so I decided to compromise and gave them all the information they wanted. So I now have an invoice with the name of Mr. S. Holmes of 221B Baker Street, and they will be merrily sending spam emails to email@example.com. But on the other hand I now probably have a duff VAT invoice.
I am sure they canât demand information with menaces like this, unless I have got something wrong. I find it quite unacceptable and just bloody hard work and I have vowed never to go back EVER. Down with PC World!
And that was supposed to be the rant for the day, until out of the corner of my eye this tweet from Professor Richard Dawkins popped up on my time line.
âPakistani girl, child of Christian parents, charged with victimless crime, threatened by vile, sanctimonious barbariansâ
This is the story of Rimsha Masih. She is in prison in Pakistan, facing charges that she burned pages of the Noorani Qaida, a religious book used to teach the Koran to children.
In the chaotic, corrupt and calamitous world that is Pakistan a great deal is uncertain. It is not clear exactly how old she is. She could be in mid or late teens. It is not clear what her mental state is. There are claims that she has Downs Syndrome and other mental health issues. Others deny it. She faces potentially a death penalty. Some deny that.
The link above is to an article in the New York Times describing the rabble rousing antics of the âclericâ Mohammad Khalid Chisti, the man (I use the word in its loosest possible sense) who denounced Rimsha Masih and who is cheer leading for the harshest possible sentence. Leaving aside the basic observation that any teenage girl who goes round burning pages of the Kiddies Koran in a Pakistani slum is probably mad as a box of frogs and needs a hug and care, or deserving of a clip round the ear for utter stupidity because there are ignorant zealots like Chisti about, that is about it. According to the article Mr Chisti had the following to say whilst winding up a crowd. I quote with respect to the Times:
âI can be chopped into pieces, but I will not bow,â Mr. Chisti said in a strong, emotional voice to a gathering of like-minded local residents. âMy self-respect and my life is for the Koran. I will fight for it till my last breath.â
As an occasional writer on matters spiritual, this is both depressing and frightening. How can I understand the logical complaints of those who oppose organised religions when there are morons like Chisti about! These people have no more concept of the truths which are â I happen to think â taught by great spiritual leaders and speakers than a fish in the North Sea has about a sunset. They are devoid of wit, thought, love, compassion or insight. They are the antithesis of what Christ or Buddha or Krishna taught.
For these people, religion is no more than an exercise in tribal superiority. It touches on the essence of all totalitarian and fascist dogma, because at its heart is the premise that those not toeing the sectarian line are fair game, worthless, sub âhuman. Welcome to the hell pits of Belsen! On this topic, the Politically Correct World that bows to all things âethnicâ is pernicious, and a threat to freedom, democracy, justice, love, goodness and humanity.
Gildas the Monk