P&J Column 9.11.17

Taxing times with Apple and sushi

J Fergus Lamont, Arts critic 
I’m just back from a whistlestop trip to Londinium, as I insist on calling it, where I stumbled across the kind of public-space art installation for which the Capital is rightly famed, and which we in the provinces can only view with thinly disguised envy. Outside the Apple Store in Regent Street I found a snaking line of human flotsam all waiting for the chance to buy something called an iPhone X. Well, I was intrigued. The name itself a chimera of conflicting ideas – ‘I phone’ distilling 21st century technological isolation and the sublimation of self to a punchy two syllables, while the ‘X’, redolent of mystery, and, of course of the doomed tyranny of the Roman Empire – expensive, luxurious, faintly ludicrous and possibly fated to destruction from barbarian attacks.

Thanks to my engaging in some improvisational dialogue with the assembled throng, I found my self perfectly placed to enter the store as soon as the doors opened, accompanied by some ‘in-character’ screams of invective and abuse from the performers. And so it was that I found myself the proud owner of one of these miraculous devices. Of course the reason for my excitement is the stunning ‘Animoji’ feature, where by users can animate a cartoon animal’s features with their own facial expressions. In short, it gives to the man in the street the capacity to emulate such cinematic masterworks as ‘Babe’, ‘Alvin & The Chipmunks’ or the seminal ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua’. Incredibly, one can also use it to make telephone calls. Indeed, I spent a happy 2 minutes on the phone to my mother asking how her hip replacement operation had gone, but a much happier 2 hours making a cartoon chicken sing Bohemian Rhapsody.

Of course, all of this is possible thanks to the device’s facial recognition technology, which allows users to unlock the device with a scan of their features. Though this ‘Face ID’ has inherent dangers, as I discovered after my purchase. As I left the store I observed one heavily tattooed gentlemen gathering up his sleeping bag after being turned away as stocks had run out. ‘Bad luck old bea’ I commiserated, “I gotone, look how marvellous it is!’, and he was so moved by my words that, midway through my Animoji demonstration, he cried “Laters, bruv!” and gave me what was clearly intended to be a friendly punch on the arm of approval and camaraderie. Sadly he misjudged the playful force required, and also his aim, breaking my nose quite conclusively, and altering my physiognomy sufficiently that Face ID couldn’t recognise me and I was unable to switch the phone on again to call the emergency services. However, someone may have received a 3 hour video of an animated panda requesting an ambulance!

I wept.

Cosmo Ludovik Fawkes-Hunte, 13th Earl of Kinmuck

So the press and public have got themselves into a lather about the shocking revelations that rich people with access to high-quality professional advice take steps to minimise their tax.  Well, slice me finely and flambé me in brandy, whoever would have thought it?  We Fawkes-Huntes appear prominently in the Paradise Papers, and I am damned proud of the fact.  We have have long cleaved to the view that tax is only for the little people.  The only dissenter from this view was my great-grandfather, the 10th Earl, but then of course he was only 5’2″.  It is our proud boast that over the years we have paid out more to the Croupier of the Monte Carlo casino than we have to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.  Of course, what the shrill voices shrieking about inequity overlook is that it is not just legal but right that we should make extensive use of overseas tax havens in the Caribbean.  After all, the great majority of the family fortune was made in the slave trade in these vary same dependencies during the heady days of Empire; it is only right that we give a little back.  Just as little as possible.

Tanya Soutar, local lifestyle guru

I dinna ken about yous, but I jist canna stand fussy eaters. Ye ken the type: “Can I hae nae ingin in my burger?” or “No thanks, I have a nut allergy and that fun-size snickers might send me into anaphylactic shock’.

Fan it comes tae food, my twa best pals, Megan and Big Sonya are so different, they’re like chalk an’ cheese. Megan’s vegan fit means she winna touch ony meat or animal by-products, like cheese; files Big Sonya will eat absolutely onything, including chalk.

Fit a pest Megan is. The one time she came roon tae mine for her tea I didna ken fit tae dae.  I couldna cook up my usual signature dish, Lidl’s lasagne, so I very thoughtfully went richt oot o’ my comfort zone and microwaved her a prawn curry. As soon as she started eating it she looks at me funny kind and says she says “is this shellfish?” So I telt her. “No Megan, it’s fine, your’e my freen so I dinna mind a bittie extra work.’

But I wis a bit miffed fan I seen that Donald Trump was getting pulledup for being a fussy eater in Japan this wik fan he turned down sushi in favour o a burger earlier. Let’s get this straight, there’s plenty good reasons tae gie Trump pelters, but turning doon a bowl o’ raw fish isnae een o’ them. That’s nae rude, tak it fae a veteran o’ Commercial Quay, raw fish is gadsy! Fit’s rude is serving food that’s nae cooked. That’s like going into the Ashvale and them giving ye an uncooked… fitiver it is they mak chips oot o’!

See the best of the Flying Pigs live in ‘Now That’s What I Call Methlick!’ At HMT June 2018. Tickets available now. A rare Christmas present for onyb’dy ye like. Or even onyb’dy ye dinna like.