UNPLUG

What will your Facebook memory be of today, in one year’s time?
A loved one? cat picture? crazy meme? your lunch?

What if you unplug, unlearn and become reality native for the day.
Imagine having an extra “free hour every weekend”

How would that work? Switch your smartphone off for an hour and see.

So, this weekend how about spending time with your loved ones,
your friends, family, stroke your cat, no selfie, no hashtag, no filter.

Less tapping, scrolling and more dialling, talking, listening.
Tell them in person not over the world wide web.

Write a haiku not a tweet, paint a picture, cook something new.
Get out there, live the moment, jump in the puddles, kick the leaves,
hold hands, laugh, cry, dream.

Because it’s not often we get a chance to put the clock back.

Peace

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Pulp Faction

How systems theory and modern entertainment works: Don’t know much about history? Don’t know much biology? Me neither. Or so I thought. I bet you know more than you realise about a lot of things, maybe you just had a bad teacher. I bet you know more about music you like than I do, or football or geography or even the french I took. Because your passions often become the knowledge of a closed system. Building a rocket or laying a brick, as Einstein might have said down his local “It’s all relative”. The End

fbf3198bba50127588bc0f2657a2c2b0Now, if I can sit through half an hour of post match analysis as to why Chelsea beat Man Utd, then I don’t feel so bad about thinking deeply about something else I enjoy. I like to call it learning something you didn’t know or think about before or studying. Studying is simply looking at something in detail. Or re-looking at something over and over, from a different perspective. If we are institutionalised to see this as a task we naturally reject it. If we regard it as an activity we enjoy, well then we embrace it. It can be as complex as forensics or as simple as enjoying your favourite film, far too many times.

If you have no interest in Pulp Fiction or Tarantino I recommend you switch off now.

A mate of mine, when I was very tired one night, told me a total bullshit story of his mate sitting next to Quentin Tarantino on a ‘plane and as you’d expect it – spent the flight explaining what his film Pulp Fiction was all about. Now, I’m assuming you’ve seen the film – he reckoned it was returning Marsellus Wallis’s soul back to him. Now, if I recommend you google the fan theory because this was doing the rounds on the web, mainly reddit, a long long time ago. The interesting thing is that a lot of the theories
make sense. The story of rock and roll is a good one. I don’t believe that someone like Tarantino is going to be so obvious with his references, allegories, analogies, pastiches
or metaphors.

Tarantino, like Kubrick is a brilliant artist. He paints the layers and lets you work out what you think is an answer, as the paint is still wet. Every time you watch his films you may
see something or change your view. Tarantino incidentally has gone on record to say that what is in the suitcase is “What the viewer wants it to be” – it’s as austere or vast as your imagination. Awesome.

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I have a different theory. There are obvious undertones of music and genres in the film. There is gratuitous violence in the film. As I said, Tarantino is not about the obvious. This is a distraction to pull you into the popular. I think there are so many interwoven tapestries of the classics that it becomes a mirror to the viewer in the way Rorschach’s inkblot tests are merely a reflective state of your mindset. The film’s title is never explained in the dialogue. It’s a story (fiction) of rebirth (pulp).
Pulp being not just the nucleus of paper or a blank page but the essence of something,
a new pure form. The quest in this film becomes the viewer’s.

Now, as any great DJ can mashup any two records, you can draw a parallel with any two films (or stories) you like. Sometimes the beats match better and sometimes there’s more to match. Disney’s the Jungle book versus Prometheus for example.
Pulp Fiction is a self mashing mesh of abundant signification.
That’s why it’s so damn quotable.
It’s probably the most popular cult film of my generation.

It’s not my favourite film, but it’s in the top ten. That’s because I love film. Ever since I was a kid and I realised they weren’t taking the piss when the teachers told me Animal Farm was actually about the Russian Revolution I had my mind opened to why we tell stories. Why we learn about history. Why it’s not always great to like jelly and ice-cream and have the favourite colour of red.

If you spotted Steve Buscemi’s cameo as the Buddy Holly server taking the order for the $5.00 shake then I wonder if you just put that down to him being Tarantino’s mate. Or if you thought that it was a inter-universal switch between Reservoir Dogs and his character Mr. Pink. Which time frame are we in though, not including the disrupted chronology of Pulp Fiction itself? What if that was the zero point of chronology in the film?

I think I’d have to re-read Stephen Hawking’s book (in his voice, obvs) again to work out the relativity of time and light that those guys with that rather scary collider as so desperate to disprove Einstein with. I reckon there’s a distinct conceptual parallel between our perception of light and our romanticised view of time – i.e. the sands of time, or the silicon, or the pulp of matter. The story of time.

light-cone

hourglass

Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick were prophetic in their fact and science fiction. (Clarke worked out geostationary orbit for a laugh and wrote 2001 A Space Odyssey). I wonder if Tarantino is seeding the idea of time and light being interwoven as the ultimate source?

Or that time is light. If light is time then Marsellus is retrieving a case of light, or a case of regret. He is buying back time. It’s probably just a spot on his neck and he needed a plaster. Or Tarantino is making a blatant juxtaposition of the bandaid and back of his head for cinematic effect.  It could be his 6th chakra that was opened or maybe its a worm hole in his neck.

Incidentally, I’m typing this from memory as I only re-watched the bit with Steve Buscemi to validate my theory. I also think the film is about defining love. Then I’m a hapless romantic, unless it’s the Texas Chainsaw Massacre I tend to think most films are.

The original intention of writing this piece was to demonstrate how something as simple as a popular film is vastly open to interpretation. We’ve all seen it. Some of us enjoyed it, some us indifferent, some of us felt the need to write a thousand word mini essay totally over thinking it on the web. And that’s the great thing about where we are now in century 21. The moral here is don’t just believe what you see or hear, research it if you want. You don’t have to agree or believe what anyone else thinks either.

I don’t think Kubrick faked the moon landings and hid messages in the Shining.
Anymore than Tarantino has worked out time travel and is working for the illuminati.
All they’re saying is think for yourself, if you want to.

The “Suspension of disbelief” is the craft of the cinematographer from the zoetrope to Spielberg. “Based on a true story” makes it scarier. “Unseen footage” makes it believable.

We, the machiavellian media manipulating marketing mafia learn at Art school the power of what happens if you place the footer “HERO” or “MURDERER” under the exact same photograph. Ever notice he got those funny eyes?

What we once believed to be true on TV or in the papers, we now get suckered into submission on Facebook or Wikipedia. We win arguments with google.
We can all be experts at the touch of a button or a voice activated thingy

You can only be manipulated if you want to believe in magic.

Maybe that’s the trick to living happily ever after.

By the way, yes, the Ezekiel quotation is a misquote from the bible. But I will tell you where else it appears. In the most fundamental spiritual song learnt as a child, “Dem Bones” – all about connectivity on one level and resurrection on another level.

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We all have the ability to make connections. Art is derivative of an experience and
never void of significance. Like anything, it can be used for bad or good intention. Education, TV, rock and roll, film, art, the media, the internet, literature.

Which is why you ought never judge a book by its cover

And don’t judge Lethal Weapon by Danny Glover.

Peace.

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SUBTLE AS A BRICK

How much do you think a standard house brick is worth?
A solitary brick, not the rights to it, no intellectual property,
concrete and assorted materials fired in a kiln, a brick.
In this international currency existence, let’s say $1

Then we give 100 of these to our mate Damien Hirst and he creates
a masterpiece of momento mori called “Dust to Dust” in the shape of one
huge brick made of the 100 bricks. Yes, people will scoff, ever since Duchamp
apparently took the piss with his signed urinal, there’s a huge demand
for post modern-modernist art. Exhibited in the Saatchi Gallery,
it is now for sale at how much? let’s pretend a modest $1,000,000

What if I take one of those same bricks and throw it through the
window of Buckingham Palace with #DustyShowbiz tied to it?
It nearly bops the Queen on the head. The next day the Sun runs
with “Liz bricks it after mortar attack” or something funnier.
Now how much is the one standard brick worth?
It’s priceless. Because it’s in the papers and even on the BBC News,
media placement that you can’t buy, not with money.

No more stupid than the Sex Pistols saying “bollocks”, all of a sudden
you’ve a much bigger audience.

And that’s how hype works.

There are many types of media. Mediums. We believe in spaghetti trees. We believe in aliens. We believe that Spurs will win the league. The illuminati is another spook story. It exists no more than those that are enlightened. There will always be someone at the top of the pyramid, there will always be the illusion of choice. Figureheads merely provide smoke and mirrors and a mouthpiece. Do you really believe that when you were elected as “Milk Monitor” you had any further power than redistributing a commodity that had already been decided upon by many levels above you?

Which is why I’m bemused by Trump more than scared by him. I’m concerned by the stupidity of how he came to be in the final furlongs of a two horse race. Then I thought about what he has to gain either way and the priceless exposure that he has generated.

After Oxygen (which Trump uses far too much of) Silicone is the most abundant
resource on our planet. It is used to make everything from composite microchips to
yep, you guessed it, bricks.

You see you can build a big wall for Mexicans or you can build schools for Africans.
You could make sure everyone had a home and every child had a computer. You can split society or you can seek to Unite the States of your country. You can go for the extreme vote and stand out against the populist, to become the alternative. Or you could ask the people not just tell them what they want. You could have some fresh real policies or you could just jump about and wave banners.

By creating controversy, by elevating himself into altercation with Clinton, Trump hyped himself into the most hallowed space of all – our heads. In a click based currency of popularity, he can’t lose.

For if he isn’t the next President, he has far more media rights to his story than if he is.

Don’t even get me started on Honey G

Peace

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THE ROAD TO HULL

I was in Yorkshire recently staying with some mates from that neck of the woods or dales.

They are a funny lot, I mean hilarious, intelligent and talented. Prior to my virgin visit, they thought it would be a great idea to task me with getting to the bottom of a longstanding subject: “What time is teatime?”

I researched, I googled and yahoo’d and wiki’d. I asked about in London and got all manner of irrelevant southern classist and off-topic suggestions and answers. I phoned and spoke to mates living in Yorkshire and they couldn’t agree. The most popular answer was “well, it’s teatime!”

Within 5 minutes of me getting to the first local pub, outside, complete strangers that were loosely involving me (they’re much friendlier up north) were talking about, yep, teatime.

I sniggered. “Say summit funny lad?” No, I replied. Then explained about my ongoing theory of  A brief history of Teatime.

I concluded that it was in fact a vague time after work and before going out. Or going straight out after work. Frequently between 5pm and 6pm. Teatime works for cliques or groups of mates.

It’s shorthand for what they know in a certain area and certain group. It’s a concept.

It’s a concept that I could research, google and try and guess at. One I had no idea about and hadn’t really concerned myself with. Until someone asked me to. Until a mate mentioned it. Until it could affect my understanding of something else, a subculture, a friend or enjoying a night out.

Not exactly life or death. Not a taboo. I can’t imagine MIT are funding research into it.

The only possible way to understand was to listen, enquire, listen again and then learn.

It’s frustrating isn’t it, when you have no direct experiential reference on something, not being able to understand things, however simple. Anyone who is a parent or has siblings knows it is very hard to do the right thing if you assume the role of guardian or advisor. Even if you have had a very similar experience or think you know the answer, it’s OK to realise you don’t have all the answers. Researching certain things won’t always help. The most powerful thing you can do is listen.

Men and women tend to have different approaches to things. I speak for men when I say that a lot of us think our role in life is to know how to fix everything. We are the teachers to our children, the mothers are the empathisers. That’s tradition.

That’s what our parents were taught. Maybe that’s why the sayings “Man up” and “like a girl” mean opposing things, psychologically not just physiologically.

I can only speak for myself as a human when I say we may all be similar, but we are never the same. We may not all be unique and beautiful snowflakes, but we are a highly individual product of our environment multiplied by our nature. The ability to think for ourselves is the greatest educational gift we can open. An open mind is not an empty mind, as long as we know our self.

If there can be a vagueness and enigma surrounding “teatime”, imagine how scary it is for a young person to be inept to why they feel “Depressed”. Depression, particularly amongst younger people is a massive problem. I wager there are an awful lot of parents that don’t understand it, think it’s a phase or think it’s about “pull yourself together”. Judging by the increasing number of my friends talking about it, some whom I never ever guessed suffered from it – it’s rife.

If you want to be intelligent, consider the source of your intelligence.
Think, enquire, listen and learn.

Even the experts aren’t necessarily experts, I mean it’s a big ask for the NHS and its a big ask for anyone. The mind is a brilliant but fragile thing. Would you know the difference between asking a Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Consultant, Pharmacologist, Cognitive therapist, Humanist forensic Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist, Behavioural Psychologist, Therapist or Counsellor?

Even glued to the internet for 7 years solid do you think you could learn, unlearn and rewrite a theory on neurolinguistics and its impact on behavioural system psychoanalytic theory?

Writing something funny on twitter is more than enough struggle for me.

What concerns me is the taboos perpetuated by silence.

The silence of the people that are unwell.
So, encourage those in need to talk, by listening.

If you are worried about your children or family,
arrange a time for you all to go to see a GP, together.

And try to listen. They are best placed to give next steps.

Be as supportive to the person as possible. It’s not your job to fix things or over advise.You can help them most by understanding and listening.

There are many group therapies and counsellors they can see.

If you want to do your own research, great. The internet is good, but its vast.
The best thing to do is to go and talk to people already affected.

It can’t help to get a broader picture.

Read books not just the web.

Share you experiences with those you trust. Listen and support those who share.

I hope you don’t have to experience something first hand to finally understand. Meanwhile, advice can come from the most unlikely of sources. So stay calm and be open.

As we say down south, put the kettle on and let’s have a chat about it.

You may have the best of intentions to help someone .
Until you master the skill of using two ears over one mouth, you’re not learning and they’re not listening.

You can practice this by just watching something on TV without commenting. If you’re parents, listen to one of you talk for a period without interrupting. At home, in the car, in the park, wherever. Listen with a view to understanding someone, don’t just wait for your turn to speak. You’re not in a business meeting, you’re helping your loved ones. For once it’s not all about you.

Take time to listen.

Peace.

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Neva assume nuffink

“If you hold your hand to a hot stove just for a second it feels like a minute. An hour spent with a beautiful girl feels like a second.” Or to paraphrase E=mc². Two of Einstein’s expressions of his theory of relativity.

Unless you’re a monk, hermit or live in Barnes, life is often about communication. Communicating with others is a life skill. In a social real life environment, social media unreal environment or business environment.

It’s more important to get out of any given situation what you want, than necessarily having to be right or in the right, right? We adapt. We seek parity, understanding, an exchange, a result.

The world is full of concepts and theories, there are specific fields of study in mainly the sciences, mathematics, psychologies of what perpetuates our cosmos, our universe, solar system, planet. We study things at a sub atomic level to the theoretical meta dimensions beyond our perception.

We also still can’t assemble Ikea furniture and no matter how much money you pay someone they will find it hard to kick a ball into a rectangle more times than the opposing overpaid cockwombles.

From goal hanging box diving Drogba to DaVinci golden section scribing Galileo. From the first crawling fish on land to the offside orbs of Ozil. We are united in our thirst for life, our universal humanity.

People are not born geniuses. They are a product of their environment. Yes, there is some nature involved in this nurture. It is our own circles, inner and wide that propagate and determine us.

I believe it is natural to seek enlightenment, however we define it. What I really mean is,
it is important to me. Therefore I’m arrogant enough to see that as a natural drive in others. I mean not to judge, alas being pedantic it is an assumption. As we know, assumption is the mother of all fuck ups. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, which is why I use a dictionary more often than Wikipedia.

I have always been fascinated in the patterns of behaviours or psychology of situations.

The older I get and the more friends I have in (shock horror) beyond the media world I find this is what they have been doing for years. Mathematicians, scientists, writers, traders, brokers, bakers.

Even though I went to an amazing art school and university I always felt I was just getting into bigger and bigger ponds with more and more talented people. I graduated, my real teaching began when I went to work. I’ve been doing it for 20 years now and I’m still learning.

Which is why I am reluctant to consider or call myself an expert. I’d be flattered if someone thought I was a polymath but I’m no genius.

I think it’s important to be confident not arrogant.

Treat others with the way you would like to be treated, give the benefit over the doubt.

It’s natural to be skeptical but don’t be a cynic for the sake of it.

The patterns and systems of our own experience are what form our own psychological universe. So, worlds can collide or the planets can align.

Someone always knows something you don’t and vice versa. You often have an ability someone wishes they had or doesn’t realise they have. As well as the Alberts, I’m still learning from the Daves, Neils and the Jennies.

My favourite piece of advice was “Don’t buy a dog and call it Fuck Off”

Or as someone said to Neil “Nevva assume nuffink”

Sometimes we need the dark to appreciate the light. Symbiosis, parallel universes, systems. If we learn order in any system from design to martial arts. Once we see beyond the learnt practicalities and meditatively become the system, we have tools to create our own freestyle expression.

Or to put it another way, I’m good with a pencil, if you want a bigger logo, do it yourself.

Peace.

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Car before horse

Change is remorseless. Without change there’s no progression.

“If I’d asked people what they wanted they’d have said faster horses” Henry Ford famously said when unveiling his Model T. He could well have been talking about modern research techniques. Whether white board spider charts or quantitive clicks applied. But that was in 1919.

Everybody that can read this online has an opinion on the motor car. So does your Nan or your toddler and of course that bloke down the pub. Which is why the automotive sector is a veritable smorgasbord of styles and substance. There are many variables of design at play. Multiple forms of creativity and innovation. Many channels of media and mediums to sell the product, accessories and merchandise. You can even buy yourself a lovely shiny Porsche pipe should you choose. Yes, women buy and smoke pipes too you know. Many of them are actually better smokers. To ignore 50% of the world’s population that want to buy your product would be a bit barking or even Dagenham.

Teslas are developed in the Norfolk hangers owned by the Malaysians and bought by the Californians designing for the Germans and built by the Romanians. One time niche manufacturers outperform big businesses, buying and selling brands and owning groups like your annoying nephew playing Christmas evening Monopoly. The Japanese have managed to not only catch up the Germans in terms of engineering but surpass them in product placement and brand experience. There have been galleries in Ginza for years now. The same programmers that visualised the game Gran Turismo designed the digital dash on the Nissan GT-R. Art imitates life and life propagates the desires of the next generation.

Unlike Apple, the big car brands are not beholden to one designer.
With the exception of Chris Bangle and his chisel period at BMW, the products evolve, curve, respond and progress. From the Aston Martin emulating Fiesta, the funky Fiat 500 or the bedroom wall Lamborghinis, affluent city streets are filled with art. It’s no wonder those cheeky chaps in California are eying up Woking for their denied secret projects.

In this dog eat horsepower dash for the line, the role of the brand is to allow progressive coherency. Attitude and flexibility. A way to achieve this is to stick to the plan and then allow fluid expression that is relevant to the specific product whilst not negatively contradicting the master brand. I don’t just mean sticking the logo on a cloudy sky image. Automotive is an experience led business. Luxury cars are semi self selecting for the most part. You can’t stop Foxtons fucking the image of your new city car though, yet.

In 2K16, design and the art of communication is not static, so why are the marketing models? If you consider the elements as living, moving parts to find their harmony – we respond in kind to progress. For me, it’s a great example of why obsess with the logo? if your holistic brand is fluid – then your marque is your constant signature. If it’s cool don’t fuck with it. End of. That’s how grown up branding works.

Some things change but some stay the same. The balance between leading innovation and responding to the wants of a broader culture is complex. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A great idea is born of a specific need and will have wider appeal by default. You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

That’s why it’s called marketing, not everything.

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Do you sell wasps?

No? Do you sell Fridges?

To teach yourself about marketing, walk down a street. You’ll learn business in Sloane Street or any straat in Amsterdam. Being street smart, it helps to be on the street. The best place to understand eclectic market forces is the high street. Locating a shop is all about the communication of promise. Staying there and buying something is about the experience. Wanting to return or telling your friends is about behaviour and gut feeling. As any restauranteur will tell you more people talk about you if things go wrong, positive word of mouth means you need to be exceptionally good. To be remarkable requires buying into your particular offer not just buying commodities.

Supermarkets are a good example of what’s called a Value Proposition.

A proposition is an exchange of goods or services for money, I give you this and you
give me that.

A value proposition is just an elaborate way of combining other variables into the equation. The experience and other features and benefits. Supermarkets use their over all brand offer and reputation to capitalise on real estate. Here the economies of scale are apparently in your favour and so things like convenience change. If I live in town and want to go to a small supermarket, I get maximum convenience and minimum range. It will be more local and tailored to the old fashioned concept of a ‘convenience store’. There will be less available staff and more unexpected items in the bagging area. Great for a lunch time sushi roll or a loaf of bread. The same chain will have a larger store, slightly more out of town or inconvenient to the metrosexual dweller.

Because they know I will have to drive there, there’s a huge carpark. They have home items and clothing and there’s more to browse and buy. I didn’t just pop there, maybe I went there to take advantage of that offer on big brand jeans or the latest curved screen TV. These are known as loss leaders, companies make less profit on the mark up of these select items. The implication is you are incentivised to bargain hunt around the store. The amount of people that will visit any given location is known as footfall. Customer journeys are how marketing people coercively plan your activity of navigating the store. Items are periodically relocated and certain things are placed together for your apparent convenience. Limes are put next to smoked salmon. Shelf-barkers bark bargains and wobblers wobble with added value, hanging off the isles, directing you to rewarding exclusive offers – it’s a neurolinguistic field of dreams. You thought you just walked around.

When you look at the shelves of any supermarket the matrix of items is called
a Planogram.

A lot of thought goes into where basic or luxury items or branded items are placed. What is put next to each other and what sections meet each section. Colours and vessels are also tested, researched to persuade, seduce or stand out. Packaging is big business. Own brand packaging has to compete with branded items that have their own extensive campaigns. Think about everything from butter, milk, cheese, toilet paper, toothpaste, deodorant, dish washer tablets, beer, oven cleaner, pasta sauce and so on. There’s a micro market on every shelf, in every isle.

MUJI lead the way the for no-label anti brand sophisticate. The department stores take all this to another level. Many levels in fact. If you’re a bloke you instinctively dive downstairs in Selfridges then have to go all the way back up far too many floors to find your other half in the shoes bit.
It’s like waiting in the toy dept. while your mum buys half the shop when she “only popped out for a loaf of bread” all over again. The windows of Selfridges are in a different league. Such a vast quadrant of real estate they entice and intrigue. There are your hard core shoppers allover the world. The big London department stores have their tribes. There’s a distinctiveness in the clientele of the yellow bags, the 5th floorers and the tourists disappointed there’s no private zoo on the roof.

Even the shopping bags are so desirable they often replace the need for gift wrapping.

With the exception of a few concessions that offer more of a statement, the plethora
of bags around town provide a nice niche associative advertising campaign for what’s in store.

Merchandisers track sales and trends and place items accordingly. There’s no loss leaders in these environments. The cosmetics parts often more aggressive than a trading floor. The red jackets replaced by white coats to look more expert. More marketing led support and more market forces at work. The principle is the same whether its pub toilets at the back or fish out of the way in the pet shop.

What you learn about walking around a street, store or shopping centre is we are all there with different needs, with different budgets, desires and reasons. We are all secret shoppers. There is no such thing as the consumer anymore. To refer to people outside marketing as “civilians” is self important and deluded. Assuming a role is often required to satisfy professional expectations by clients. However I believe this to be outmoded. An understanding of people is more important. We achieve this by understanding ourselves, first. In designing anything, when we set out to create what we would like, a great experience, a big, simple, true product and environment. Then we can achieve brilliant things. Understanding the difference between the exchange, not just supplying a demand is powerful. In a world where everything is a brand, unbranded or not, creating a demand by wishful thinking is unsustainable.

There is no formula to amazing business. You can’t trick people more than once. You can’t afford social media to be your Achilles heel. An Ivory tower doesn’t have to be a fancy HQ, it can be the one you’ve built in your own head. Step out, step the other side of the street once in a while.

You don’t sell wasps? There was one in your window. That’s OK I’m just browsing.

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