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Saturday, 9 August 2014

Face it, pal

So I'm walking across the grassy square, headed from the Kelvin Building to the James Watt Building, where we're set up to interview research engineers for our Three Minute Learning project, and I'm thinking they've got some unimaginative names around the Uni, because basically it's just guys who worked here and done good.

I wouldn't complain, mind you, if there was a Blane Building. Or a Blane Wing. The Blane Flowerbed. The Blane Corner of the Quadrangle Where The Sun Never Shines. Actually I'd be quite pleased with the Blane Toilets.

At least you'd be remembered. I can see two guys in the distant future, reading the news off the inside of their eyelids, while a matter transporter effortlessly extracts their urine.

"Who was this Blane then?" 

"Guy who invented the toilet."

"Thought that was Thomas Crapper."

"Urban myth. It was Bogger Blane."

So anyway, this middle-aged couple gets in front of me on the square, with that mixed air of ingratiation and "they shall not pass" that tells you strangers want directions.

"Could you point us to the Hunterian Museum please?" the man asks, with a smile that lulls me out of the wary alertness that's been my constant companion since the old days in special ops with the SAS.

"Of course," I say, then start to doubt myself. "Uh ... go to the corner there and turn right. Then take the .. ah .. second entrance on the right and you'll see a lift ..."

"Do I look like I need a lift?" the female tartly interrupts me.

"Yes you do, not to mention a lesson in good manners," I say to myself but not to her, contenting myself with amending my directions so she ends up in the anatomy museum, with the other well-preserved penises.

"See you annoy everybody, even strangers," Susan tells me on the phone later, when I'm looking for sympathy in all the wrong places. "You've just got an annoying face, I guess." 

"That's faceism," I say.

"You mean fascism?" she says.

"No, faceism. The belief that you can tell all you need to know about a person from his face."

"Surely that would be facism," she says.

"Technically yes. I inserted the 'e' to reduce the chance of confusion with fascism."

"Didnae work," she says. "You should try harder."

"At what?"

"Making your face less annoying. You could shave, for instance."

"Then it would annoy me," I say. "I'd look in the mirror and go 'who the hell is that?'"

"Smile more often then," she says. "People respond to smiles even if they're fake. They can make you feel better too." 

"Tried it," I say. "Folk usually ask where I'm feeling the pain."

"I give up," she says. "No, hang on. I've thought of a foolproof way to make your whole head look less annoying."

"Good stuff," I say. "What is it?"

"Put a paper bag over it," she says and hangs up the phone.

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