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A haven for pedants
Dull men are visiting a new website in their thousands.
Judith Woods reports from London.
The news that the American-run Dull Men's Club website has been inundated with foreign visitors will come as little surprise to the many women who have long suspected an international conspiracy of male dreariness. Created by, and for, dull men, www.dullmen.com offers a haven where the pedantic and petty-minded can be themselves, free from the pressure to say something interesting.
The current topic of lukewarm debate on the site is airport carousels - which conveyor belts move in a clockwise and which in an anti-clockwise direction. Boston is clockwise, as are Istanbul and Manchester terminal three. Guam and Manchester two, on the other hand, are anti-clockwise - as you will already know if you are one of the 100,000 daily visitors to dullmen.com.
Other web pages include a month-by-month guide to dull activities; April is dedicated to folding maps properly, checking household batteries and Egg Salad Week. Like many men-only internet sites, there is the inevitable provision of smut - in this case, graphic pictures of smut, the parasitic fungus that attacks flowering plants.
Unlike boring men who believe they are interesting, truly dull men are introverts, who harbour no illusions about themselves and their dismally circumscribed lives. Women who are unsure if their man is genuinely dull, rather than merely reliable, can consult a useful checklist. Clues that there could be less to him than meets the eye, might be books bearing titles such as Vegetables of Byzantium, a certain fastidiousness about wiping surfaces clean, or a tendency to catalogue mobile phone tariffs on computer.
But while some men are born dull, others have dullness thrust upon them, usually at dinner parties.
John Morgan, author of Debrett's New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners, hopes that cyberspace and the advent of sites such as dullmen.com will ride to the rescue of hostesses.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with kindred spirits meeting on the internet," he says. "At least these people know they are a social liability. This gives them the opportunity to communicate with each other."
Rumours that Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, wanted to advertise its anti-impotence drug on the site have proved untrue. Big business, however, has already recognised Dull spending power.
The Nineties saw a lucrative Easy Listening revival, when the banal syncopations of muzak somehow became the dernier cri of post-modern chic. On television, watching paint dry has been elevated to prime time, thanks to the vogueish makeover of what was once the acknowledged refuge of dull men everywhere, home improvements.
The American leisure industry has also been cashing in, with the introduction of computing cruises. Thanks to Geekcruises.com, dull men can now combine computers with Caribbean sunshine. Once aboard, they can attend seminars such as Making File Conversions Fun.
Here in Britain, a marketing watershed was reached recently with the unapologetic launch of the coffee table book Boring Postcards. Featuring panoramas such as The M1 motorway Service Area at Newport Pagnell and A Bend on Porlock Hill, the book sold out within three weeks and is now in its third print run. Even its publisher admits to being perplexed.
"We expected it to do well, but for it to sell out in such a short space of time surprised us all," says Fiona Smith of Phaidon. "I think the grey cover and the one-line captions gave it a simplicity that really appealed to people. You could look at it as an exercise in sublime minimalism."
Back at dullmen.com, consumerism has also taken hold. Women wanting to buy a present for that special dull man in their lives can click on to a gift list. Timetables of any sort always hit the spot, the site says reassuringly, but a video of corn growing or a moulded plastic desk tidy will also add the perfect drab note to any celebration.
With the coming of the internet, the dull have been afforded a window on the world more alluring, even, than loitering on breezy railway platforms with spiral notebooks to collect locomotive numbers. Moreover, their numbers are multiplying, as on-line shopping, banking and share-dealing keep us all glued to our screens. Can it be really be long before Dull becomes the new Interesting?
- The Daily Telegraph
As an expert iceberg watcher at Maggity Point I think you could look at this dull tale as an exercise in sublime minimalism, but it's too much.
Regards from OZ
-- Pieter (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 05, 2000
-- Pieter (email@example.com), April 05, 2000.
-- CD (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 05, 2000.
And what position does Al Gore hold in this council?
-- george (email@example.com), April 05, 2000.