100 reasons I'm better than you

A catalogue of the 100 reasons that I'm better than the readers of this. Maybe I won't be better than each of you for every reason, but I'm sure there'll be at least one reason why I'm specifically better than YOU

25 October, 2010

29. Immunity to embarrassment

In 2008, I went to a cockroach-infested basement in Hong Kong, to watch a succession of stand-up comedians.  Blessed as I am with the justified confidence of a person with a hundred reasons for being superior to the rest of humanity, I quickly realised that I would be at least as proficient as the people performing before me.

If, gentle reader, you live in the UK and have been to a comedy club, bear in mind that the environment in Hong Kong is different.  Whereas for the British 'live comedy' means 'an opportunity to get drunk and shout at drunk people who are shouting back at you', in Hong Kong people think it is a social event where one sits in silence while a man or, occasionally, a woman, or a teenage boy, or a particularly well-trained poodle) recounts his or her character flaws.

For several years now, I have stood in the company of people who are unlikely to have views very far opposed from my own, stating various 'shocking truths' that are things people probably agree with but don't want to expose their cognitive biases to all and sundry, and other things that the audience is unshocked by, but like to think that these are the sort of things that more shockable persons than themselves would be shocked by.  So they're not shocked by something they think somebody else might be shocked by.  Which is shocking in itself.

Or, if I feel it is appropriate for the evening, I quote verbatim from British case law, with respect to clauses pertaining to sexual interference with animals by consenting adults.

A lesser person might be troubled to expose their twin peccadilloes, of the legality of bestiality and the unshocking nature of most shocking things, but I am not.  Even if I thought that peccadilloes were a breed of dog, I would still not be unduly concerned by this.  Because I AM SUPERIOR TO MY AUDIENCE, and they will QUAIL BEFORE ME.1

At no point during my seemingly endless diatribes upon the aforementioned Shocking Things (or indeed the novel approaches to animal husbandry that I recite) have I ever doubted my purpose up there.  I have never considered that this is not perhaps the path that would make my dear benighted parents most proud.  Never has anyone suggested to me that there might be something better to do with the combined corpus of knowledge produced by humankind, than a cheap play-on-words about flatfish and hackneyed chat-up lines. Never have I blushed or felt I've overstepped the mark, and if I sometimes consult handwritten notes inside my palm, rather than memorise my lines, it is only because of the utmost contempt I hold for the people in front of me, rather than because I'm nervous or worried.

In short, I am vastly capable of standing in front of a nominally hostile crowd and declaiming matters of great crassness, and this has never caused me to feel the smallest iota of embarrassment.

1 Unless they happened to be an audience of quail, in which case, although I would still be superior to them, the inability of a small bird to understand English as she is spoke would probably prevent the quails from quailing. Unless I made a particularly loud noise, or waggled a shotgun suggestively.  These things are unlikely, given (a) Hong Kong's gun laws, (b) the difficulty of importing an audience of game birds to Hong Kong solely for a drawn-out pun on their name's homophony with a word suggesting terror, and (c) the difficulty of keeping thirty or forty relations of the noble pheasant in their seats long enough for me to get on stage.

02 February, 2010

28. Indomitable kidneys

In Hong Kong, the water from our pipes often runs a cheery brown colour, as rust or sediment or something awful flakes from inside the pipes and into our sinks, our showers and (for the very richest amongst us) our baths.  Then there's the carcinogenic paint that some cold water tanks are painted with, to keep them from corroding (corroding because the water has some special ingredient, perhaps, that's being adulterated into the reservoirs to improve our productivity / tamp down nascent desires for democracy / make us more susceptible to buying 2 for 1 offers at Park N Shop International).  I'm not even going to mention the fact that countless cockroaches, both German and American, are at this very moment falling dead into water somewhere, festering at the bottom of the tank, slowly decaying and becoming part of our water supply.  Why harp on about all the reasons that the water in Hong Kong is possibly (and I'll whisper it, for those of you who are easily shocked) not very good for you?

Why indeed?  Only to point out that this is not a worry for me.  I am blessed with a mighty pair of kidneys, more than capable of taking whatever H2O shenanigans the government, my landlord, or the entire genus of crustacea may try to throw at me.

That's right.  I don't need to drink distilled water, expensively purchased in a plastic bottle from the local supermarket or convenience store.  I don't need to sip on mineral water flown in at great expense from Fiji and packaged in a nominally environmentally friendly container.  I don't even need to avoid the risk of cholera (but that's because I don't live in the nineteenth century, I think, more than anything else).

Why am I so blithely unconcerned?

Because (and I don't like to boast) I am blessed with a mighty pair of kidneys, able to process whatever disgusting and noxious chemicals might be sent my way.  Brown water!  Ha!  I piss on you!

27. I'm very, very sure of myself

Some people that you will encounter will prefix and suffix their remarks with words like 'like' and 'perhaps' and 'kind of' and 'maybe'.  I am not likeable.  I am not kind.  I suffer not from mishaps, carrying burlaps or saying perhaps.  And as far as I am concerned, 'maybe' is an insect that produces honey, found only during the fifth month of each year.

And what I'm saying is that it does not matter one whit to me what you might think of me, and therefore I don't need to defend myself in advance.  I have the luxury, or indeed the necessity, of being correct, and of being confident in this.  I have yet to find a person who could convince me of being erroneous, because, let's face it, there's very little I say where there could be any possibility of error.

Thus them demonstrates that I do not suffer from any of the crises of confidence that may beset a lesser mortal.  Because I'm quite sure of who and what I am.  This can be most clearly evinced by my decision to live for two years in Hong Kong and not feel the need to learn any more Cantonese than the instructions for my taxi driver to proceed straight on.  Because that's the kind of straightforward, no-nonsense person I am.

Let me reiterate.  Learning languages is for losers, for those people too scared to tell other people that they are wrong, obstinate or just plain pigheaded to not speak the same language as I do.  It's at best nothing more than a simple faux pas to not be able to express oneself clearly in English, and at worst it just shows weakness of character.

03 October, 2007

26. I have defended the honour of my country via the pugilistic arts (at 45 rpm)

As a well-travelled young man, it was unsurprising that I found myself in Munich last night, drinking a stein or two in the company of several thousand lederhosen or dirndl wearing Germans. After many hours of this, the attraction of more buckets of booze paled. Seeking excitement, I strode outside the beer hall, and soon found myself outside the Teufelsrad. For those of you without a smattering of German, that particular compound noun is the 'Devil's Wheel'; inside the tent is a large spinning wooden disc. At intervals, the cry for new victims goes up, and a bundle of lederhosen-clad drunks will dive onto the disc, and try to hang on until the wonders of centrifugal force send them flying off into the barriers around the wheel.
Anybody lucky enough to stay on for more than a minute or two is bounced off by a red and green medicine ball, or lassooed by a couple of carnival lads.
So much, so civilised. However, when I strode onto the wheel to have a go, I was presented with a pair of boxing gloves instead, and when the wheel was set going, I found that instead of being at the base of a pile of sweaty Germans, I was up against a drunk bloke with a lived-in face, who was trying to punch my head off. "Is fun fight" yelled one of the carnies. Well, as much fun as it can be with a belly full of beer, the room spinning even more than normal, and some bloke smacking you in the chops. After being floored three times (and taking him down once) I figured enough was enough, and retired from the conflict. However, it remains an indisputable truth that I have been to a different country, stood on a spinning floor, and traded blows with Johnny Foreigner. Have you done the same? I doubt it.

23 June, 2007

25. The water I drink is better than the water you drink

I live in London, and as a result, I get my water after it's already been drunk by at least 6 other people. Whereas some of you will have to put up with water that's only been through the odd sewage works, or (if you're either particularly poor or particularly flush with cash) if you've been reduced to drinking water from a mountain spring, it will only have been filtered through a few thousand metres of rock. Well, natural aquifers are nothing special, and neither is a few mechanical devices used to reclaim waste water. I'm substantially better off than you, because my water has been filtered through at least 6 other people's kidneys. These are things that have evolved over millenia (ok, at least decades if you're that into Intelligent Design) to filter out muck and filth. I really don't think that either relying on a few tonnes of rock, or some Victorian engineer's idea of sanitation, can really compare with the glory of human-kidney-filtered-water.

12 June, 2007

24. I've never competed in a triathlon

There are several reasons why this makes me better than you, but I'm generous enough to see them as one overarching reason - that my parents loved and cared for me during my impressionable early years.
Firstly, it shows that my parents were capable of demonstrating their love for me as a child, at least from time to time, by giving me some toys to play with. Not so many that I became spoilt and grew up to be some kind of arrogant, overbearing and selfish nitwit, but enough that I didn't need to compensate later in life for an impoverished childhood by buying as much sporting equipment as possible. Let's face it, the only people that compete in triathlons are ones that get excited by the thought of owning wetsuits, and aerodynamic triathlon bicycles with stupid handlebars, and shoes with velcro instead of laces. It's a shame that you weren't given a small wooden fire engine to play with at the age of 5, but I suppose those are the breaks.
Secondly, when I was a small child, my parents realised the values of personal responsibility and manual dexterity and taught me how to tie my shoes. No need for velcro for me - I've got laces on my footwear, and I'm quite capable of tightening or loosening it depending on the situation. That's me, not some shoe-butler that has to be called whenever it's time to put on a pair of brogues. If you need velcro to get your shoes on and off then since velcro was only invented/given to us by aliens * in the 1950s, a century ago you would probably have been the kind of dimwit that wore clogs and thought that was a lifestyle choice. Or you were Dutch. I'll get on to that later.
Thirdly, when I was a child my parents didn't allow me to eat too many foods that were laced with E-numbers and additives. As a result I have the ability to concentrate for more than ten minutes on any particular thing. If I read a book, I don't have to stop every two minutes because I want to watch a moth flying round the room. If I want to go for a run, I'll go for a run. If I want to go cycling, I'll get on my bike. I don't have the gadfly attention span that means that after half an hour of swimming, I think "bored now!" and have to get on a bike. Or go riding for a couple of miles, and then think "well, I'm not very good at this. Maybe I'll try running for a change instead." Maybe if you could take a Game Boy with you to the swimming pool, you never would have had the kind of brain-addled idiocy come over you that made you think it was time to do a triathlon.
Oh, and fourth, if you were any good at all at any one of those sports, why didn't you stick to it? Ah. That's right, because you're rubbish at all three. Quantity doesn't always imply quality, you know.
* delete according to your prejudices

23 October, 2006

23. I've beaten Paula Radcliffe in a race

... and not simply by remembering to go to the toilet beforehand either, in case any of you naysayers start suggesting that the poor woman was doubled up with stomach pains and therefore couldn't go quicker than me.

No, by the simple expedient of running the Nike 10k in London this October in 43:44, while St Paula took over 46 minutes to finish it, I've beaten a woman who's been the fastest female marathon runner in the world. When did you last do that?

(Now, I know some people may suggest that I had the advantage of not being 6 months pregnant, but that's hardly a proper counter. That would be akin to me saying I could have won the Tour De France last year, if only I'd been faster than everyone else. Winning is winning, and losing is losing.)

29 August, 2006

22. Customs Officials quail before me

Either I have terrifying psychic abilities to occlude the minds of border and immigration staff, or they're just scared when they see the picture of my mighty beard and moustache.

But either way, I've never been refused access to another country. And yet, compare the picture in my passport, with a recent picture of me. It looks nothing like me, does it? (Occasionally a Swedish border guard will point that out "you have shaved off - your beard?") Somehow, I've resisted saying "of course, it was making me look like a terrorist", but you think they might pick up on the fact that my passport shows my eyes are a warm brown, rather than the cold, dead grey they are in real life.
There's also things that could be said about the effectiveness of biometric passports, national identity cards, profiling and other such wastes of money, but I think my protean eye colour, plus the fact that some of my chums have accidentally boarded planes in the last month while carrying Stanley knives, effortlessly displays superiority over those charged with guarding the edges of our countries. Simply put, I am mightier than the state's sphincters.