PROTOCOL: Bob's Guide to Modern Living

Part One: How to Throw a Wobbler

The WOBBLER (from the Latin "wobbelus") is a warning from you to everyone. It says loud and clear: "This is me. And I'm out of control." It is not an instrument of aggression; it is a deterrent. But practised properly, the fully-fledged wobbler is guaranteed to make you feared and respected by your workmates and peers.

For best results your mood swings need to be entirely unpredictable. Not to yourself, of course (your apparently arbitrary outburst will have been meticulously planned for hours, even days), but to all others.

You will be all the more fearsome if it is uncertain whether you'll just smile spookily at a monstrous slight to your self-esteem, or lob your new 2000 computer out of the nearest window because the sugar level of your coffee varies from the norm.

Remember, cannons do not come any looser than you. You are the emotional equivalent of an Iraqi nuclear scientist with a US dollar account and a pen-pal in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence. Any infringement, however minor, may be met with massive force. You are best not trifled with.

As well as choosing your moment you should also savour it. In the slow build up to "losing it", indulge in the rich possibilities of the preliminaries; the starters before you're OFF. A passing sarcastic comment here or there; the deliberate repitition of a stupid question you've been posed; or nodding knowingly in agreement with those who are about to witness you unleashed and deranged.

Having decided that today is the day for the wobbler you've been promising yourself - and, let's be frank, there is nothing to match the sheer exhilarating satisfaction of the deferred wobbler - there remain three important choices to make: location, audience and victim. Although the wobbler is first and foremost about you - your moment in the spotlight - it does nonetheless require an audience. In fact, a captive audience. There is little point in magnificently blowing a gasket in a public space. The object of your scorn will simply walk away bemused. Enclosed areas have their advantages. Consider express trains, long distance flights and snowbound cabins (pace: Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Now THERE was a wobbler). A big crowd is useful. The wobbleree will suffer more in front of large numbers. Certain occasions provide maximum dramatic appeal - Christmas at your partner's parents' house, a workmate's retirement do, your birthday party.

There are, naturally, many genres of wobbler which are worth considering for your own uses. The fashion designer wobbler: I am barking therefore I am creative. Picture it - the hothouse atmosphere of the show mingling explosively with the nagging suspicion that spending your life finding new ways to present the colour black may not really be a worthwhile activity. The great political wobblers: I am powerful therefore extremely dangerous. Thatcher's "drool and drivel" outburst during a David Dimbleby TV interview. Heseltine - the wobbler as a career. The wobblers of the silver screen. Get a video of Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? for essential tips on working yourself into a frenzy.

Chosen your role-wobble? OK, finally note the three catagories of wobbleree to avoid: superiors at work; people crazier or with heavier weaponry than yourself; the police.

You are now all set to wobble.

Try to be imaginative with large objects which shatter in a theatrical way. Vases, water-filled, china, televisions, are obvious tools. But if your outbursts are to have lasting resonance, originality is all. Video players are the modern technophobic equivalent of a chair. But have you considered animals, hot food, some of the larger Sunday papers or even small people?

What do you say? Anything. You must impose no limit on your behaviour. Express yourself fully and foully. Maintain full control while appearing to lose it. Take a deep breath. Think big, think epic, think only about yourself. Action!


[the end]

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