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Woo-hoo! I won Question of the week! And I didn't have to lie, write shit puns or give a stupid meta-joke to do it! :O)

Frankspencer, if you're reading this, please come back! B3ta is full of cunts at the moment!

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» Overheard secrets

No-one gets away clean...
Apologies the length of this story. In fact, apologies for the story full stop. It may not be, strictly speaking, an overheard secret, but it does involve secrets being found out...

When I was 7 I was somewhat of a goody-two shoes. I was diligent, hardworking and strived to get the best marks I could. One day, at school, my teacher set a test we had to do. I can't remember what the topic was but it was in a area I was weak in. Suddenly, panic set in! "Don Draper getting bad marks?! I wouldn't live it down!" What was I going to do?! Fate offered me a life-line. The girl sitting next to me WAS very strong on this subject. So strong in fact, I copied her answers. To the letter!

When the teacher handed out our results she compliments the girl on her high marks and also compliments me, too for "my" high marks. She even commented on how we both stumbled on the same question. Was I in any danger of being caught? Nope. I was such good boy I was above suspicion. But not above the suspicion of someone else.

After class was over, someone (let's call him "David") came over to me and said "I saw you copying the answers! I'm going to tell the teacher!"

"Don't do that!"

"What's it worth?"

I put my hand in my pocket and offered him a shiny £1 coin. I'd sunk to a new low in the same day. And it didn't end there. For the next 6 weeks, I had to hand over all manner of crisps, chocolate, drinks and money in order to prevent him from telling anyone (let alone the teacher). And for 6 weeks, I went home and either did one (or more) of the following):

1. Sobbed my eyes out.
2. Sit on the stairs in a catatonic state.
3. Vomit due to the stress of the situation.
4. Lie in bed with my stomach in knots.

The torture I went through those 6 weeks was akin something out of Guantanamo Bay. One day, I went home and nearly had a nervous breakdown. This was noticed by my mother.

"What's wrong, Don?"

I couldn't hold the secret in any longer and confessed to the lot. The cheating, the lying and the blackmail by David. Mum's face turned from sympathy to outright anger. I was scared I was going to be punished for my misdeeds. But she wasn't angry at me. As she put it "Those 6 weeks were punishment enough for you. You've learn your lesson." No, she was angry at David. So angry in fact, she phoned David's parents. I never heard the other side of the conversation, but I did hear raised voices. After my mum hung up, she comforted me and said "Don't worry about David. He's taken care of." She sounded like a mafia boss. "But don't you ever cheat again!" Trust me, I learnt my lesson! So did David, apparently. I'd heard that David's parents were a little less liberal than my mother. I'd heard through the grapevine that David got a beating of such epic proportions, he didn't speak about it for two days!

Now let's fast forward 20 years. I'm now 27 and working at a sweet little gig for a chemical company. I was a chemical engineer and got to do what I like doing the most (OK, what I like doing SECOND most. Possibly third...) I got to play around with chemicals. The pay was good, too. And the people I worked with were great. Well, all except for two people. The first was one of the managers. Actually, he wasn't that bad, but I didn't like him. The second was, by far, the worst. Lisa (not her real name, obviously). A simpering, stuck-up, prissy motherfucker whom I despised with a passion. My main reason for hating her was mainly how she looked down on me like I was a guest on "The Jeremy Kyle Show". Another thing I hated about her was the way she used to shoe-horn the subject of her boyfriend into every conversation (I once overheard someone talking about drinking Lucozade and she STILL managed to convert that into talking about her boyfriend! That took some skill, I grant her!).

Anyway, I generally stayed out of their way as, I've pointed out before, I don't really like confrontation. Fate had other ideas.

One day, I received a phonecall from my boss. We were on the verge of securing a contract with a new company and that could I whip up a test batch of a particular product so they had something for the customer when they came around next week. Simples enough. After 15 minutes, I'd written down the ingredients I needed to make this product. I'd managed to secure all of them except one. Potassium Dichromate. We didn't really have any knocking around. Until I remembered the Shed! The shed was an old building which kept chemicals from products which had long since been made obsolete and were awaiting disposal. There was bound to be some Potassium Dichromate there!. So, I set off towards the shed. The shed was on the other side of the plant and took a while to get there. When I arrived at the shed, I put the (supposed only) key in the lock and opened the door. I turned on the light and there standing before me was the manager I didn't and, more importanly Mrs Simpering I've-got-the-IQ-of-a-roof-slate! They both looked at me like deer in headlights. Deer in headlights with their arms around each other. Turns out, the manager had made a copy of the key to the shed and was using it with Mrs Simpering-idiot to conduct a bit of clandestine affair! I was stunned, but nowhere near as stunned as they were. I'd got them bang to rights. God (if he exists) had gifted me an opportunity to not only take down 1 but 2 of the people I really didn't like!

Suddenly, I had a very vivid flashback. I went back to when I was 7 years old. The time I was being blackmailed. This was a memory I hadn't given a second's thought since I was 7. It was now coming back to haunt me in spectacular fashion. Why now? Because my brain wanted me to remember one aspect of that incident. The utter torture I went through when I was being blackmailed. The knotted stomach. The vomiting. The anguish. The lot! It was terrifying to relive that memory again. Especially when it was compressed into a few seconds. Like a short sharp shock. I came back to the present with the philanderers firmly in my view. I now had a decision to make.

Looking at it from the manager and Lisa's point of view, one second they getting up to all sorts and the next, their marriage and relationship, respectively, was on the verge of being destroyed. It's amazing how things can change in a second. But what they didn't expect was the guy who hated them (and who caught them inflagrante) walking straight up to them, walking straight past them, picking up a tin of Potassium Dichromate, walking past them again and closing the door. But before closing the door he muttered "I didn't see anything..."

I remembered what it was like to be blackmailed. There was no way I was going to inflict that on someone else. Even those two. I don't know how long they carried on their affair, but I wasn't going to stoop to the level David stooped when I was 7. I was determined to get away clean...
(Thu 25th Aug 2011, 15:19, More)

» Performance

The day I became a book-thumping evangelist...
I'm not one for confrontation. I hate it. I prefer to be left alone. It's much nicer. But sometimes people say things which are so monumentally stupid, one HAS to stand up and be counted. This was one of those days...

I was walking through my town centre just going from shop to shop seeing whether there was anything worth buying. There wasn't. But as I criss-crossed through the town centre I kept walking past a crowd of people who were intently listening to a family (a rather extended one) spouting off about the Bible. Although I eschew religion, I've no right to impose my views on anyone else, so I just carried on. Anyway, as I walked away from them I heard the head of the family shout out these words:

"People. Do not let others brainwash you. Evolution is a myth! There is no scientific evidence behind it. It is a plot to discredit the one, true God!"

I stopped in my tracks and stared at the crowd. They'd hit my button. If you believe in an invisible man in the sky, fair play to you. If you try to discredit evolution with your creationist nonsense. Then we have a problem. A major one.

I burrowed my way into the crowd to listen further. I didn't like what I heard. Then, I reached my breaking point.

"Even the heretic, Charles Darwin, didn't believe in his theory. He said 'To suppose that the eye could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree..'"

"Bollocks!" came a squeaky voice from the crowd (my voice is rather squeaky) "You lying sack of shits!" That was probably not the best thing to say. I stormed up onto the stage.

"Are you calling us liars?"
"Yes, I bloody am! Charles Darwin DID say that, but what did he say right after that sentence...?"
"We don't know but the Bible says..."
"Well I'll tell you, shall I?! Charles Darwin did say 'To suppose that the eye could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree' but, and I'm paraphrasing here, he went on to say that 'when it was first proposed that the Earth went around the sun, common sense dictated that the theory couldn't be true because we could see the sun moving. We now know that is not the case.'. So, in essence, he's saying that although I can't fathom how the human eye evolved, that's not to say that it didn't. It could be counter-intuitive."

The bible bashers looked very rattled at this stage. More accurately, the LEAD bible basher looked rattled, but I'll come to that later. I carried on my diatribe.

"So, these people tried to mislead you with that quote. If they tried to be disingenuous with that, what else have they said which could be a half-truth? Also, you lot have broken one of the ten commandments. 'Thou shall not bear false witness'."

The leader hit back, "But shouldn't people be given both sides of the debate???" They hit another button with me

"Other side of the debate? OTHER SIDE OF THE DEBATE??? There IS no 'other side of the debate'! Creationism is not a equally balanced but opposing view. It's a bunch of half-baked, logic skewing hypotheses with no evidence to back it up! And furthermore, where did you get the impression that science is a democratic process? If you mix hydrochloric acid with sodium hyroxide you end up with sodium chloride (salt) and water. But if we had a referendum and 100% of the vote said 'we believe if you mix hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide you'll end up with sliver nitrate and hydrofluoric acid', does that mean if you mix hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide again, you'll get different end products?! NO! You don't change the laws of the chemistry by a vote! Likewise, all the evidence we have, and we have a lot of it, points towards evolution, and until someone has enough evidence to point to another theory, then, AND ONLY THEN, will we entertain the theory. We need evidence, not a vote!"

I, then, walked off the stage. I tried to resist the urge to stage dive. Misrepresenting science by a bunch of ill-educated religiosos in a bid to add credence to "the one, true God", was something I was not permitting while I was around.

As I walked away from the crowd, I felt a rush of adrenaline. I normally avoid public speaking as I don't like being the centre of attention, it makes me uncomfortable. I suppose that's why I like the internet and the anonymity it brings. But I learnt that day, if it's something you feel passionately about, you won't worry about the fear.

I looked back at the crowd and saw that the lead bible thumper was trying to rally his troops after being exposed as a bunch of half-truth tellers. But what was really interesting was the rest of his flock starting to doubt their leader. After all, if he was equivocating about science and evolution, what else has he been equivocating about? I never saw them again, but I hope they didn't lose their faith but were a bit more respectful toward science. I hope they heed the words a famous person:

"Don't take my word for it. Think for yourself..."
(Fri 19th Aug 2011, 13:28, More)

» First rude thing I ever saw

Astra 19.2 degrees East.
The first rude thing I ever saw would have to be the soft-core German porn films on a Saturday night on satellite TV. Yep, we got Sky fitted when I was 12 and enjoyed watching DJ Kat (remember him?) on Sky 1. However, what I didn't anticipate was going downstairs at about 10pm turning on the satellite and flicking over to Sat 1 and watch a German lassie "flicking over" her hairy triangle (off screen, it was soft-core, remember?). As a 12 year old, I'd wondered what in the world I'd just tuned into. I'd tuned into my first porn film. Watching hairy German fellas humping equally hairy German women in rhythm to the oompah music played over the film was quite an eye-opener for a 12 year old, especially one who wanted to watch "Match of the Day".

After I accepted I'd seen it all, I changed channel and moved to RTL plus (does anyone remember these channels? Or did I make them all up?). There I saw "Tutti Frutti". It was a German game show. But in this show, you didn't win a washing machine, you had to perform a strip tease! By now, I'm sure my brain was leaking out of my ears and just had an assault on my senses. I, eventually, meandered upstairs and went to bed. But I couldn't go to sleep. I was too busy thinking about what I'd seen. Only three things ran through my mind:

1. Is that what passes for evening entertainment in Munich?
2. Have German women heard of a razor?
3. If fat blokes with big moustaches can attract tail like that, what was wrong with me?!

But there was a fourth thing running through my mind.

"I wonder what's on next Saturday night....?"
(Sun 14th Aug 2011, 21:13, More)

» Churches, temples and holy places

Mahatma Ganges.
Warning: This story contains a rather girly ending. So if you want Hellfire and damnation, look elsewhere. Right, you ready? Let's begin...

Do you remember those magic eye posters? The ones where you had to stare for ages before you saw the hidden picture? I do. And I was terrible at them. Never got one for as long as the fad lasted. And that just summed me up beautifully. I always missed the hidden picture of things. Until one day in India.

Recently, I spent some time in India for personal reasons. Now that trip in itself had more than enough stories for a thousand QOTW's! But for this week, I'm going to tell you about my experiences by the Ganges. Now the Ganges, as I'm sure you're aware, is the holy land for all Hindus. People are burned by the side of the river, gathered up and scattered in the river in the name of their religion. But there was another side to these funeral rituals that I wasn't aware of. And learnt in a rather freaky manner.

I decided to take a boat ride across the Ganges. Our guide then rowed us across various areas showing us what was happening and why. These included, why women weren't allowed near the funeral pyre (answer: Because the women have a tendency to throw themselves on there whilst their husband is burning! Hence, it's for their safety. At least that's what he told us!). Whilst our guide was babbling on about some buildings, I could see something out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see. I freaked out.

"What the buggery bollocking arseholes is that?!"

Calm as bloke who's just smoked half a pound of grass, the guide replies "That's a body."

A rotting body, to be precise.

"Erm...why?" I asked.

The guide explained that in Hindu culture bodies are burned in order to purify them. However, certain people and certain deaths maintain a body's purity. These include:

1. Pregnant women.
2. Children under 5 years of age.
3. Holy men.
4. People who died of a snake bite.

There were others, but these were the only ones I could remember. Now if someone falls into one of those categories, you don't get cremated. You merely get tied up, weighed down, and thrown into the Ganges! Which means that the bottom of the Ganges is littered with bodies who fall into those categories stated above. Slightly unnerved, I then started to look around and saw something else which I couldn't believe.

I could see people washing themselves in the river. I mean a full-on bath/shower! Children playing and drinking the water. The same water which is full of rotting bodies! Only one thought sprang to mind:

"How fucking strong are these peoples' immune systems?!"

We starting rowing towards the hotel. On the way we saw bones of bodies freshly cremated and birds pecking away at the bodies which floated to the surface. It was like something out of a horror film. But only to me. It was amazing to see how, even at an early age, these Hindus were comfortable around death. In Western societies, parents wonder how to introduce the concept of death to their children without freaking them out. Not here! You grow up around it.

The closer I looked the more filth and squalor I could see. The bits holiday brochures "leave out". I couldn't believe people still lived like this. I though India was getting richer? Yet people still lived like this?! This is appalling! Anyway, next day, I was due to fly out. The hotel staff had got our suitcases ready but I decided to go outside on the Ghat (a sort of jetty) for one final look. Now I don't know whether it was because of the sun or I had a good night's sleep, but I saw something completely different.

I looked around and saw children playing in the river, men brushing their teeth with the water and women washing their clothes in the Ganges. But everyone seemed happy.

"Water" a voice said in my ear. It was the guide.


"Water. It's the sustainer of life. At least, that's how I see it..."

Suudenly, I could see the hidden picture in this magic eye poster that was the Ganges. The filth and dirt didn't matter to them. They had a community. They were happy. And for ten seconds I just soaked in that beautiful picture. People who weren't rich and didn't live in an affluent environment, but were happier than I ever could be!

"Yeah. I suppose you're right!" And it was then, I knew what I had to do.

Eventually, our trip came to a close and we flew back to the UK. After a week, I went to my solicitor's and changed my will. I explicitly asked that when died, I wanted my ashes scattered over the Ganges. Not because I'd found religion! I think I've made my feelings perfectly clear about that*! No, it was because that whoever scatters my ashes (hopefully, my children) it will give them a chance to experience what I experienced at the Ganges. Seeing people living together as a community despite the poor living conditions was a testament to the human spirit. It was beautiful...

* = www.b3ta.com/questions/performance/post1326583
(Thu 1st Sep 2011, 21:11, More)