Office Politics in the Ask Ben & Clare Age.

Hongkers asks…

To make use of your expertise, how should I deal with office snake? Any tips to beat the office bitch?

Clare answers…

Phew, I’m glad you clarified that, Hongkers love. For a fleeting second, I thought there really was a snake in your office. Like Snakes On A Plane (one of the most accomplished movies of recent years, I think we’ll all agree), but without the flying. I was all geared up to suggest you might like to get in touch posthaste with the Animal Quarantine Unit or the Department Of Fish And Game or the We Round Up Exotic Pets Agency or some such, but now I can rest easy in the knowledge that you’re not in immediate physical peril.

But then again, perhaps you are. After all, you state your intention to “beat the office bitch”, so perhaps she’s been smacking you around in the stationery cupboard and you’ve finally decided to wreak your revenge. I can merely speculate. However, I would advise that I’d be wary of inflicting grievous bodily harm on this person, simply because employment tribunals tend to be rather messy and time-consuming affairs and you probably just want to get through that stack of papers in your in-tray and go home for a large glass of white.

So I have a couple of suggestions for dealing with this pest. First up: The Ignoring Tactic. My mum told me about it when I complained about the boys nicking my textbooks and trying to throw them on the school roof. If you ignore them, she said, they’ll soon get bored and stop. This was last week. If that doesn’t help, try The Killing With Kindness Tactic, passed on to me by my friend and former colleague Helen. We worked with a woman who was really rude and confrontational, but Helen always smiled brightly and was really really really nice back. As well as totally flummoxing old bullypants, it made Helen look great, so it’s a win-win solution.

Ben answers…

You will need.

1 metal pencil sharpener
1 cordless drill (with wood and metal drill bits)
A small sheet of steel
Glue
A welding torch
A Smoke machine
2 long pieces of plastic tubing
Red food colouring
1 pigs kidney

Hello Hongkers. Claire has her ‘ideas’, and they are all very nice and that, but do they get results? Allow me to show you how to stop the office pests forever.

Step 1. You will need to stay late or get into work early. Drill a hole in the steel sheet. Then drill a hole through the desk of the  snake/bitch. Now glue the steel sheet underneath the desk so that the holes line up. Underneath the desk set up a blow torch. Cover the top of the hole with a metal pencil sharpener.

Step 2. Set up a smoke machine under the desk of snake/bitch.

Step 3. Run the plastic tubes up your trouser legs, up your blouse/shirt and out through the sleeves of your suit jacket.

Step 4. Wait until snake/bitch says something unacceptable. Walk up to their desk. As you approach the desk pretend to stumble and fall over in front of their desk. At this point the whole office will be watching you, and snake/bitch will be feeling very smug and superior.

Step 5. While you are on the floor, attach the smoke machine to the tubes in your trousers and turn on the welding torch and the smoke machine. Stand up and stare at snake/bitch with a look of pain and concentration on your face. Whatever they say just stare at them.

Scientific interlude: Most people don’t realise that metal pencil sharpeners are made of magnesium. When magnesium burns it does this:

Step 6. The pencil sharpener will start to glow like in the video. Quickly turn the blow torch off with your foot so you don’t set the office on fire. By now smoke will be starting to pour out of your sleeves. Continue to stare at snake/bitch, and rise your arms to the ceiling.

Step 7. This will set the fire alarm and sprinkler system off. Remember the red food colouring? Well, you will have placed that in the sprinkler system.

Step 8. The sprinkler system is filling the office with what looks like blood spraying from a dozen torn arteries. This is the moment you spit the raw pigs kidney onto bitch/snake’s desk and say “Leave! Me! Alone!”

Step 9. While the building is being evacuated, clear up all your equipment.

Does my patented technique work? A friend of mine tried my method when he was working in the warehouse at Ikea. He is now king of Sweden. I rest my case.

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Daily Mail and Faily Fail Fail

What? Who? Where? When?

What?

What?

Gone for months?

Who? What? When?

Oh. Us. Well we’re back now. So stop it. No, stop it. Shush! We’ll sort your problems. One at a time please.

OK.

Here we go…

Socialist Sue asks…

 

Advice please. It’s simply ages since I had a good political debate (or slanging match). Most of my friends are Daily Mail readers so there should be lots of opportunity for friendly discussion but no, they are so indoctrinated with the gospel according to the DM that any comment from me causes them such discomfort that I am in danger of being banished from their company altogether. Apart from shouting at Newsnight and Question Time, what do you suggest I do?

 

Clare answers…

 

Sue, Sue, Sue. You say, and I quote: “I am in danger of being banished from their company.” And why is that perilous, pray tell? Why do you even entertain these so-called friends with their redtop-reading ways? I know some fans of the aforementioned publication, but I’m related to them so have no choice but to endure their skewed take on the world with teeth gritted. I am not related to them by blood (my lot read the Graudian and Indie, thankfully), but it would nonetheless be somewhat difficult for me to extract myself from the situation and ex-communicate the culprits. You, however, have the ability to pick the people with whom you hang out; maybe if your selection process were more stringent, you wouldn’t have found yourself in this lack-of-political-debate pickle in the first place. Can I suggest therefore you henceforth pipe up when you spot someone in your vicinity with more appropriate reading matter. Some may call it harassment; others might say it’s sociopathy; more still could use the word stalking. Whatever: you need to exercise your right not to lose your mind through constant bombardment with unfounded “facts” and biased twaddle.

 

Ben answers…

 

I am going to suggest something that at first will sound odd. I want you to buy the Daily Mail. I want you to buy it every day, and I want you to read it.

Don’t worry. I have not lost my marbles. This will is merely phase one of our plan.

Phase two will be to cut out every article that claims something is a cause of cancer.

Phase three will be to arrange these clippings in a scrapbook (make sure you buy a really thick one.)

Phase four (and this is where it starts to become fun) is to carry the scrap book around with you, and use it to ruin your friends lives.

For example: You arrange to meet your friends in the pub. You offer to buy the first round. Five minutes later you return to the table with five bottles of pre-mixed Snowball.

“I bought these,” you will smile, “because they are the only thing that the pub sells that doesn’t cause cancer.”

You will then refer them to the scrap book.

At Christmas you will buy them all Acker Bilk records and apologise because although you know they hate Acker Bilk, it was the only thing you could buy for them that you were sure didn’t cause cancer.

You will then refer them to the scrap book.

At dinner parties you will offer to bring a dessert and turn up with slices of wholegrain bread spread with mashed swede and molten Caramac. You will patiently explain that this is the only pudding in the world that doesn’t cause cancer.

You will then refer them to the scrap book.

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A ‘Favourite’ Question.

Screen150 asks… 

Hi Clare. Hi Ben. (ladies first)

Is it really possible to have a favourite film? Is it really possible to choose one film out of every film ever seen and made, and declare it the best? Why do we pick favourites if it’s not? Your thoughts, please. 

That should give you something to ponder on.

 Your mysterious film-based blogfriend, Screen150

 Clare answers…

Hmmmmmmm. (I am pondering.)

 I assume it must be possible to have a favourite film as I am, right here right now, using the powers bestowed upon me by the magic of screen-switching, in the process of writing a review of my favourite film for a website called Screen150. Oh, that’s you. Imagine that.

 I did, however, have a different favourite film once or twice in the past. Maybe three times. I don’t recall. These old favourite films are still on my top-however-many-favourite-films-plural list. Perhaps influenced by a different mood or maybe had I seen one of these other favourite films more recently, I would have picked one of them to be my ultimate favourite film. Happen if someone had already picked to write about this film as their favourite, I might have made a different selection. A further problem is encountered when one takes into account that, unless we find ourselves in some dystopian future in which movies are no longer made, new offerings may well appear in years to come that are even better and loveable than the favourite film I currently cite.It’s a tricky one, but I do know that we pick a favourite (or indeed favourites) of films, books, songs, colours, trees and birds because we need a point of reference with which to compare ourselves to others. And because Blogspot and Facebook make us do it.

Ben Answers…

We are genetically disposed to make comparissons. Imagine a time before time, when cavemen and dinosaurs skipped hand in hand to the watering hole, inventing fire, and wheels and the like. In those times if a caveman saw two mammoths, or two bushes full of berries, or two coelacanths, he had to pick which of them was the best to hunt and/or gather. If he picked the stronger mammoth, or the more poisonous berries, or more elusive coelacanth, then he would die.

Nowadays we don’t need to make choices about what to hunt and/or gather because we can just pop to Waitrose. Things only start to get tricky when we get to the cheese aisle. The ubiquity of things like hummous, and foccacia, and manuka honey means that we, as a species, can spend time comparing other things, things like films.

And compare we do. Person A will say “I think The Next Karate Kid is the finest piece of cinema ever made,” while Person B will say “Uh-uh, Space Jam is the bestest,” and then Person C will say “Have you dicks never even seen Spies Like Us? Chevy Chase and Dan Ackroyd in one movie. Come on. Come on! That is the best thing that ever happened in the history of history.” 

You and I both know that Persons A, B, and C are all wrong. They are wrong because they are still alive. As Clare points out a better film might be about to be released on Friday. There is an old Greek saying: Call no man happy until he is dead. The thinking behind it is simple; you may be happy today but tomorrow your legs might fall off. Will you be happy then? No. So are you really happy now? Well, yes? … Hold on… Call no man happy until he is dead? Is that right? What? That makes no sense at all? Wait… Is it happy? Happy? Dead? What?

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Hey, Ben and Clare, are you coming out to play?

Hey guys, sorry about the radio silence – yes, we’re coming out to play, and we’re gonna up our game with this computer-based conundrum. Prepare to be consoled… 

Jon asks…

I am in my forties and the last time I played computer games was in the era of Space Invaders, Vic 20s and ZX Spectrums. Should I try and re-enter the word of contemporary computer gaming and find out what I’ve been missing or stick to my other leisure interests?

Ben answers…

I think a lot of this is dependent on what those ‘other leisure interests’ are. If you spend your spare time helping out at a soup kitchen or running marathons for charity then I would say stick with it, you are doing good work there, well done. If, on the other hand, you count badger baiting and happy slapping amongst your hobbies then allow me to recommend Sonic & Mario at the Olympic Games as a more socially constructive use of your time.

I am going to assume you are cruel to badgers on a weekly basis and that your question is a cry for help of some kind. Taking this libelous and unfounded assumption as a starting point, my advice is this. You must give up all your other interests and dedicate the rest of your life to gaming alone.

You have a lot of catching up to do. To help you I have compiled a top 4 games that you absolutely must buy right this minute, now, Now, NOW!!!

4. Exactly What I Did At Work Today (But With Guns)

A simple concept but beautifully executed (if you will forgive the pun) this game uses the X-Box’s ‘hand-held-recording-wand-thing’ to great effect. The player takes the wand to work and it records their entire day. The player can then plug the wand into their X-Box at home and re-live their day, only this time with an enormous gun in their hand.

“What did you say about my filing abilities? Would you like to retract that statement?”

3. Spanky Handbag’s Massive World of Tigers and That.

When Spanky Handbag first arrived on consoles she was seen as little more than a poor rival to the then ubiquitous Ms Pacman. How times have changed. When Massive World of Tigers and That was released in Japan last year, the queues to buy it were so big they could be seen from space!

 The game is a second generation, four player, first person narrative in three dimensions in which you have to guide Spanky through a maze filled with really big tigers. But there is a twist! The tigers are even bigger than you imagine they might be.

2. Mario & Sonic Go to the 2012 Olympic Games

A sequel to the successful simulation of the Beijing games. This time instead of taking part in athletic events, the various characters from the Mario and Sonic franchises walk around East London tutting at the lack of ambition in the architecture and mumbling about missed opportunities to engage with local communities.

In my particular favourite level you control Yoshi, the loveable dinosaur, and your job is to convince the Olympic bid committee to come up with a logo that doesn’t look like a three-year-old drew it with wax crayons. Good luck!

1. Red Screen

Red Screen is famous for being banned from sale before it was even developed. The idea behind the game is simple: to take ultra-violence to its ultimate conclusion.

The game opens in a shopping mall. You are surrounded by people. You fire your grenade-gun. There is so much blood the screen turns red. It then stays red as you continually fire your grenade-gun.

A red screen and the sound of screaming being drowned out in the din of explosions and tumbling masonry. That is all there is. There is nothing else. This is your future.

So what are you waiting for? All this joy could be yours. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the badgers.

Clare answers…

Contrary to what the young folk might perhaps believe, given my slight technophobe attitude towards certain aspects of 21st-century living like, say, central heating (put an extra layer on), motorised transport (walking and cycling will save you money, save the planet and save your figure), music downloads (nothing beats the persistent crackle of a proper record) and plasma tellies (nowhere for the cat to sit), I was the first person in my gang to get a modern-day games console.

I’d been partial to a bit of racetrack action courtesy Grand Prix Circuit on the ZX (when it finally booted up), so it was love at first play when I got a crack at Wipeout on fifth gen PlayStation. I was crap at everything else, mind, and inevitably got crapper as my housemates started skiving off work to improve their times and unlock new levels. In the 15 or so years since, I’ve endured beatings on PlayStations 2 and 3, Dreamcast, Xbox and every Nintendo from the N64 to the Wii, and have pretty much retired from the sport.

How you’d fare coming in as an older newbie at this stage is hard to say. It’s pretty competitive out there these days and you’ll need plenty of stamina to stay the distance. Perhaps you should join me doing Brain Training on the Nintendo DS. Give me a sudoku over a shoot ’em up any day.

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On a wing and a prayer

Given the depths of winter in which we find ourselves, we thought it was safe to finally get round to answering this question, which we were sent back in the heady days of summer. Any wasp-bothering replies will therefore hopefully not result in an angry swarm making a beeline our way. (Sorry, that was terrible, it really was.)

Lionel asks…

What do wasps aspire to? Do any go to heaven?

(He’s a man spare with words, this Lionel. That is not his real name, by the way, and, unfortunately, he can’t tap dance, particularly not on ceilings. Nonetheless, he does exist under another moniker and Clare felt that a question from him would be worth plying him with alcohol for. The result, perhaps not surprisingly under the booze-induced circumstances, is a little on the strange side.)

Clare answers…

Wasps get a pretty tough time of it, really; a lot of bad press. I’m not best pleased with the way they are incrementally destroying my back fence; year on year, you can hear the blighters munching away at the wood and it really is looking in a sorry state. Every summer, my lodger takes great delight in taking a badminton racquet to the tinkers, so many times has he been stung defending our territory. But on the plus side, they do keep our tomatoes aphid free, so you have to weigh up the cost of replacement panels against the cost of some new Money Makers or Tiny Tims. Oh, erm. Anyway, moving swiftly on…

In terms of aspiration, I can deduce that wasps are keen to get on the property ladder and don’t shirk their duties when putting down roots and creating a community. This is very commendable. In fact, wasps think big, and seem collectively to be hardwired with something of an empire-building gene; quite an impressive aspiration. Unfortunately for the individual, once the civilisation has been founded and great care has been employed to maintain it, there seems to be no happy downtime in which to enjoy it, no retirement period for Mr & Mrs Wasp to sit and gaze on the splendour of their hard work and creativity. Weaker, tired-out specimens immediately keel over and shuffle off this mortal coil while the more-brawn-less-brain types carry on a little longer, but concentrate merely on seeking solace in alcohol-induced violence until they too meet their sticky ends some time autumnal.

As such, wasps’ motivations are as reasonable and straightforward as any other species, so why shouldn’t they have a place on the other side? Mum always told me that our pet pooches went to doggy heaven replete with biscuits and bones, so I can only assume that the waspy world has its equivalent. Probably with half-empty cider bottles as far as the eye can see.

Ben answers…

The short answers to your questions are: acceptance, and yes, sometimes. The long answers? Well, they are pretty long. Almost too long. And boring too. So I shall give you the middle-sized answers. The answers that Goldilocks would find ‘just right’ and promptly steal.

So what do wasps aspire to? Acceptance. But what sort of acceptance? Acceptance in the world of musical theatre.

Every day, countless wasps queue up outside the offices of theatre agents practising their lines, but they see little return for their efforts. Many is the time a wasp will hear an agent laughing that they ‘certainly have a good buzz about them’ before a door is slammed in their tiny, tearful, wasp face.

Wasp tears are sweet, like honey, and a few unscrupulous souls are now hanging about theatrical agencies hoping to collect them so they can sell the sugary eye-nectar to the rich and powerful.

In fact, to date only seven wasps have ever managed to get their little pads on an Equity card, and only two of them have played on the West End. Most find themselves doing voiceovers on advertisements for cleaning products or in amateur-dramatic versions of Cats.

Do any go to heaven? Yes, sometimes. But which ones? Well, the ones that are good.

The failure to realise the dream of starring on Broadway can leave many a wasp a bitter and spiteful creature. The wasps we see, frightening young children and drunkenly staggering around the litter bins at the Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens are wasps that have faced hardship and adversity their whole lives. They are at the bottom of a slippery slope. Most will stab. Most will go off the rails and stab someone. Most will stab and stab again.

The gates of heaven are forever locked to them. They are forced to spend eternity humming a refrain from Oklahoma while demons push their faces in boiling jam and crease their signed photos of Annie Ross and Ethel Merman. Damned for ever is the wasp that stabs. Damned forever is the wasp that turns to crime.

But can we blame them for stabbing us? It is us, the humans, that are truly to blame. We are the ones who deny them their dreams. We let John Barrowman on the stage, why not them?

It is time to end this prejudice. Before heaven becomes a very quiet place indeed.

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A post on James “rhymes with” Blunt

Matthew Bionic asks…

Dear Ask Ben & Clare

I find James Blunt depressing. For every four bars of his music I hear, I have to punch a kitten, rub my ears on a cheese grater or leave the toilet seat up. It’s unreasonable behaviour, I know, but I desperately need anything – ANYTHING – to distract me from the whiney noisefart of his singing voice.

Why is it, then, when I see him on interviews, he comes across as intelligent, witty and likeable? On the morning of writing this email, he made buggery and porn jokes on Sunday morning telly. The man’s a raconteur and I think I love him. Is there some inverse-proportional relation between the awfulness of someone’s music and their ability to be Actually Quite Nice In Real Life? (I call this the Jon Bon Jovi rule, which Usher also qualifies for.)

Well? Is there?

x Matthew Bionic

Ben answers…

You raise an interesting idea, Mr Bionic. A tantalising theory that may shed new light on the very nature of reality. But can it ever be more than an idea? Can it match up to the might of science?

What we have at the moment is what is known in the trade as ‘anecdotal evidence’: we have noticed something but it does not follow that it is part of a larger pattern. I will give you two examples of ‘anecdotal evidence’ so you can see what I mean.

Example One.

You might see an old lady eating a curry, and then another old lady eating a curry, and then two more, and then decide that this shows all old ladies like curry. However, if you conducted a thorough survey of old ladies asking them if they liked curry or not, you would probably find that some old ladies do like curry but many do not. You would also find that a fair proportion of old ladies won’t eat it because they consider it ‘foreign muck’ and that their opinions on immigration (which they will give you as a Pavlovian reaction to the word curry) will make you wonder if they have, without anyone noticing, had a stroke or some other attack that left their brain short of oxygen for a considerable time.

Example Two.

You might see an old lady and notice she is old, and then notice that another old lady is old, and then two more, and then decide all old women are old. This time, a simple survey with the question ‘Are you old?’ and a simple yes/no tick box set-up, would back up your theory nicely.

So, as you can see, we need some sort of scientific, in depth, painstakingly researched, statistical analysis before we can really answer your question. Luckily, I have been off work this week so I could spend twenty minutes making this:

I’m afraid the evidence is inconclusive.

Clare answers…

Gosh, you came back for more, Mr Bionic. How delightful. Hello again.

Before I answer this, your second question to Ask Ben & Clare (for which we are most genuinely grateful), I just need to officially distance myself from Ben’s chart. Firstly, I do the graphs round here, dammit. Secondly, I can’t extend my support to anything which might suggest that Pete Doherty is good in any way, shape or form. Plus, I hear that quite a few people like those Belle and Sebastian dour Scottish folk.

Right, let’s get down to business.

“Actually Quite Nice In Real Life”, you say? Oh. Oh dear. Seeing someone on the tellybox isn’t the same as knowing them in real life, Mr B, jokes on a Sunday or no. I’m sorry, I know you’re a big famous superhero what does public appearances and all, but when people are talking to you out of that big ole 32in screen (ach, I know, I’m a bit behind with the tech stuff), they’re not really talking to just you. I don’t think you actually hang with any of the homies you name above, do you?

Or maybe you do…

Look! There’s you and James Blunt swigging shandies in the back room at the Britons Protection. See! Here’s Jon Bon Jovi ringing you up to ask your advice on how long a pavlova needs in the oven. Watch! This is that moment when you get Usher to do his Sir Alan Sugar impression for that nice Dan bloke on the desk in the Cornerhouse.

In which case, yes, you’re quite right. They are nice in real life, these godawful singers. So, perhaps you’re onto something with your hypothesis. Ever thought of doing a PhD?

Matthew Bionic is less of an international man of mystery since last he corresponded. In fact, you can now read all kinds of weird and wonderful witterings by the man behind the mask at this here weblog: www.bionicmatthew.wordpress.com

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Social ranking (or socially rank?)

In order to mix it up a bit and keep this gig fresh-out-da-kitchen, Ben got first dibs at this latest instalment (to be honest, he’d been getting a tad crabby at always playing second fiddle to me, always having to take on the bad cop role to my initial good, always being the bridesmaid, etc; and I thought it was safer to just let him have pole position before he really started kicking off and, y’know, going off and answering questions about porn under his own steam…).

Anyway, the problem we have here may be anonymous, but I can assure you all that it was totally authentically genuinely sent in to askbenandclare@gmail.com (God, what do you take us for? This isn’t Just Seventeen…). And it’s quite an appropriate conundrum as the party season rumbles ever onwards. Enjoy.

Anonymous asks…

When making decisions about attendance at conflicting social gatherings (and yes, yes – would that we all had the luxury of such decisions; I’m not taking it for granted), how do you determine priority between:

– Lovely wonderful old friends?
– Exciting new friends?
– Person whose brain you’d potentially like to shag out?

Ben answers…

Shall I assume that you have decided against combining all three by joining the exciting (if a bit scary) world of swinging? I have no knowledge in this area to advise you but I did recently look for the website of a bespoke jelly mould manufacturers while visiting my mom and I accidently typed in jellymongers.com instead of jellymongers.co.uk. Well. Let’s just say that my mother’s days of boasting about how she never receives any spam emails of a sexual bent may be drawing to an end. If you are tempted by the idea of sex with strangers in the Mid Western states of the US – look no further! However, if you are slightly more picky about where you put your bits, read on.

It is a difficult question that you ask, but one easily circumnavigated by the asking of another question. A question which is perhaps more important than any other. A kind of Is There a God? to the power of What Is The Meaning of Life? multiplied by How Can I Shed Six Stone in a Fortnight? It is a question that will guarantee you making the right decision every time. It is a question that I am prepared to pass on to you. The question is this:

Will there be food, and, if so, what?

It is all very well saying that old friends will always be there for you, that they have seen you at your worst and your best and still love you and all that malarkey, but if your exciting new friends are meeting in a place that does edamame splashed with glistening crystals of the finest sea salt* you should be embracing the new. Equally, if the best a hot young thing can offer is a Burger King, and your oldest friends are offering a simple, but perfectly prepared, supper of Janssen’s Temptation with cold ham, then perhaps you should leave the Whopper for another time.

(That was a frightfully clever reference to big penises by the way. In case anyone missed it. Don’t panic if you did miss it. It was very subtle.)

So there you are. Think with your stomach. You will end up with old friends who can cook, new friends who meet at cool bars and restaurants, and a boyfriend who does both.

Problem solved. You are very welcome.

(*Maldon. Just in case they are reading and would like to send me any free salt.)

Clare answers…

Right, at first glance, this looks complicated, but really all it demands is a GCSE in math and the production of a simple Venn Diagram*. What you’ve got here are three sub-sets with a bit of crossover. On the one hand, you have “Lovely wonderful old friends” (Set A). On t’other, there’s “Exciting new friends” (consider them as Set B; I’m sure they won’t mind, they’re new round here).

Set A will be sympathetic to you blowing them out in favour of hooking up with a potential playmate (how long is it now that they’ve been having to put up with all that crying into your pint and sobbing “woe is me, everyone’s getting hitched and I’m still on the shelf and I haven’t had any downstairs action for so long, I doubt things even work any more or I’ll remember what to do”). They also haven’t presented you with a suitably compatible companion yet, so they owe it to you to cut you some slack. It’s the least they can do.

Set B presumably includes “Person whose brain you’d potentially like to shag out”, hereafter known as PWBYPLTSO, as presumably PWBYPLTSO is also an exciting new friend, and I can only assume you met the whole lot of them together or they somehow share a common link. Set B will therefore also be sympathetic to your, er, womanly/manly needs (sorry – you weren’t specific in your anonymity), as they will equally be sympathetic to the natural urges of PWBYPLTSO. They also therefore won’t mind if you successfully manage to engineer going off with PWBYPLTSO to get in his/her pants.

Hence, this is the point where Set B crosses over with Set A. This, ergo, is Set Both A & B.

See here: When Set A is “Lovely wonderful old friends” and Set B is “Exciting new Friends”, Set Both A & B is “Person whose brain you’d potentially like to shag out”.

Easy. Now what I don’t actually get is: “Person whose brain you’d potentially like to shag out”. Potentially? POTENTIALLY? Either you do or you don’t want to shag their brains out. It’s not a wording that’s a bit wishy-washy; a bit take-it-or-leave-it, now is it? Happen you want to be thinking on that point before you put those arrangements in your diary in pen.

(*I nicked this one off the interweb. It’s by Natalie Dee: http://www.nataliedee.com. She and her mate Drew make comics and tees and stuff what you can buy. Check em out at Sharing Machine: http://www.sharingmachine.com; they will make fine gifts for Xmas, and I’m sure your father – or indeed, your mother – like myself, would be quite partial to the hipflask adorned with the edict: “It’s mother-fucking booze time”. Incidentally, I hope Natalie lets me off nicking her picture because I gave her all these ace plugs.)

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