Frisk #174

Jingle your bells, it’s Frisk #174! Back in the 1990s, 174 was the number you’d dial from your landline to test that it was working: dial 174, hang up, and then your phone would start ringing. This, to pre-internet teenagers, was an excellent prank to play on siblings and parents.
I’ve no idea if it still works. When was the last time you even used your landline…?

Your Timeline
Living in the future can be unsettling. All of those improbable spying techniques that seemed so barmy in old James Bond movies are starting to come true – although, to be fair, we have sleepwalked quasi-willingly right into it. Your phone is watching you, you know this, but you still insist on taking it everywhere with you. You pays your money, you takes your choice…
Google’s latest hair-raiser is ‘Your Timeline’, a thing within Google Maps that allows users to see everywhere they’ve been, at what time, and how they got there. Interesting to reminisce over recent adventures, handy if you can’t remember which shop you bought your new shoes in last week, useful if you get accused of some heinous crime and need an alibi – but how do you feel about constantly being monitored and having the data stored somewhere mysterious? Are you worried about this, or is it just a normal part of 21st-century living?

Lads, reloaded
The evolution of ‘lad’ has reached peak mutation in recent times. In the ’90s it was all about Britpop, Lock, Stock and Men Behaving Badly; FHM and Loaded in polar opposition to ‘girl power’. Lad culture, however, gradually dropped any semblance of self-awareness or irony into the era of Nuts and Zoo, before finding fresh impetus online in a swirling maelstrom of laddish Facebook pages – old-school misogyny, spun into memes.
Sitting atop this wobbly culture is The LADBible, a brand that’s working hard to reframe the perception of the lad. Whereas their roots lay in the ‘like and share if you like this bird’s jugs’ technique, they’ve morphed into a media colossus with 127m readers; they’re acknowledging the shortcomings of their origins and say they’re forging a fresh new path. ‘Lad’, they reckon, can still be about sport, drinking, gambling and the lols, but also political awareness, cultural sensitivity and a social conscience. Hmm. Let’s just see how that works out.

Come for the balls, stay for Billy
Shopping at Ikea is dangerous. This is just a fact. You go to buy one or two things, and accidentally end up rolling out a trolley-load of sodding great furniture that may or may not fit in your car.
However, there’s an interesting trend that’s bucking this, er, trend – balls.
You see, back in the 1950s when the first Ikea opened, they stuck a small food court in there so as not to lose hungry customers: feed ’em up and they’ll stay longer, and while they’re eating they’ll probably have a good long chat about the merits of that Billy bookcase they’ve been eyeing up.
Nowadays, the global Ikea catering colossus feeds 650m mouths a year – and, interestingly, 30% of today’s customers go to Ikea solely to eat the meatballs. Those greasy little nuggets of loveliness have become so iconic, they’ve transcended the sofas and tables they were intended to flog. People are treating this furniture shop as a restaurant. Aren’t we strange?

Daniel Bevis, Senior Knowledge Editor

26th April 2017