- Tell them to get a room at a hotel (one that allows children!)
- Tut loudly
- Do nothing (and plug my earphones in)… far too sensible, that one!
- Hit them. Lots.
- Start singing. Perhaps a song such as "it started with a kiss…" by Hot Chocolate. I wonder, is there a song called "f*** off and do that somewhere else before I strangle you with my scarf and bury you both in a plant pot!!"
- Find the nearest supermarket, buy a can of beans, scoff the lot and… well, you can probably guess the rest…
- Take photographs, threaten to tell their parents and then blackmail them for everything they've got (£2.43 in pocket money and half a packet of Chewits)
I visited London today to meet up with a friend of mine, Marcus Oakey (Marcus - you owe me a tea for the shameless plug!).
On the train journey home, I was checking my work emails and, as usual, sifting my way through the spam that had somehow fooled my spam filter (possibly with some kind of cloaking device or tomfoolery) and made it to my Inbox. For some reason, one particular email tickled my funny bone and I felt obliged to respond in the most stupid way I could think of. Here is the email, together with the message that I sent back in response…
Spam email (from ‘Wooden sticks for ice cream’):
Wooden sticks for ice cream, medical sticks and sticks for coffee.. (Birch, alder) Origin- Ukraine
94x10x2, 114x10x2, 150x16x2
Dear Mr Wooden Sticks For Ice Cream,
Thank you for your email informing me that you sell wooden sticks for ice cream, coffee and medicinal purposes (presumably for jabbing into people’s mouths, ears and up people’s bottoms - although, one hopes, not at the same time). I’m delighted to tell you that your email couldn’t be better timed. I have an urgent requirement for a wooden stick for soup - do you do those? Do you? I hope you do. Do tell me you do do do do do those?
No, seriously, do you?
Before you respond, please allow me to explain a little more about my enquiry. I am, very shortly, due to undertake a world record attempt for charity that involves swimming in a gigantic bowl of soup and I will be needing a robust, unyielding stick to stir said (tomato and basil) soup. The stick will need to be approximately 20 feet long and strong enough to take my weight as I lower myself in (I will be dressed as a crouton for added flamboyance).
The aim of my world record attempt is to raise money and awareness for the WWF (it’s an animal charity, I believe… I can’t say I’ve ever heard of it… I’m only really doing the challenge because I love soup). With that in mind, I am therefore wondering whether it would be possible for you to make the stick fatter at one end and sculpt the end of it for me? I know what you’re thinking - this could all too easily end up becoming a spoon - but ‘stick’ with me on this! Anyway, I was thinking about making the end of the stick resemble the shape of an extinct animal - a Dodo, Tyrannosaurus Rex or Goldfish would be perfect! Is it possible to construct, carve and fudge together such an amazing masterpiece?
Moving on to available budget, I have worked hard to put together as much money as I can for this
spoonstick. I’ve emptied every savings account (including those of my elderly neighbours), sold my mother-in-law and scavenged the backs of every sofa in every Costa coffee shop south of Birmingham. I hope you’ll therefore appreciate it when I tell you that I have raised… and I think this deserves a drum roll… £1.42. Yes, THAT MUCH!! :-)
Please give time to think over my proposal. I look forward to hearing your response, oh kind and honourable stick man.
I stared blankly at the shopkeeper, with a confused smile; I was experiencing a moment of sheer perplexity. My conversation at the till in a local card and gift wrap shop had been very interesting and going well until it came to a sudden and abrupt halt. I was asked a question to which I was struggling to find an answer. The question was this…
“would you like your wrapping paper rolled or folded?"
I’m sorry, what? Can you not start me off with something a bit easier, like… ‘what causes gravity?’ or ‘if a one-legged hen laid an egg and a half in a day and a half, how long would it take a monkey with a wooden leg to eat a packet of Maltesers?'
I felt unprepared for such a demonic attack on my grey matter. When you’re on a quiz show, such as ‘Who Wants To Be a Millionaire’, they at least start you off with a simple question, such as “how do you spell ‘moron’?”, before moving on to questions of higher complexity.
After a long pause of bewilderment, and with a fleeting evil grin, I turned the question back onto her: “well, I really don’t know. What would you recommend?” I could see her brain short circuit as she stood there with a blank, confused look. It appeared that no-one had ever turned the question back onto her. After a spell of silence, she replied, “do you know what, I never can decide that myself!” Suddenly, I felt less alone in the world… :)
So, what should one answer? Well, let’s look at the options available in the world of gift-wrap carriage (that’s ‘carriage’ and not ‘carnage’). I could choose to have the wrapping paper rolled. I could then carry it home, wielding it like a weapon, tripping people over as I walk by and hitting old ladies over the head. I have discovered on previous occasions that there’s something special about carrying it like a baton that gives one an incredible sense of power. I suddenly transform into a superhero; ready for a bank robber to run out of the local Natwest so that I can bludgeon him to death with my flowery, pink wrapping paper roll. “I can take anyone on… oh, shit, it’s started to rain…”
The alternative option is for the shopkeeper to fold the wrapping paper. That’s much more sensible, allowing me to easily fit it into my bag. However, when I go to wrap the gift, it’s going to end up with great big folds in it. Still, if I have it rolled then it’ll end up battered anyway. So, maybe it’s the best of a bad bunch.
Do you know what? The real reason I can’t ever come with an answer to the question “would you like your wrapping paper rolled or folded?” is because I don’t care. That’s right, I don’t give a shit whether they fold the paper, roll it or make it into a giant paper hat so that I can wear it home. I mean, sod it, come up with something creative: “Would you like your wrapping paper rolled, folded or crafted into an origami swan? If you like, I can set fire to it or blu-tack it to the neighbour’s cat.”
Creativity is what is required here. Now, where did that pesky moggy go… ;)
I was using a supermarket self-checkout today, processing my items to the repetitive drone of “please place your item in the bagging area.” Next to me, an older couple were battling to put through their items of shopping, some (most) of which included bottles of alcohol. Most of you will be aware that when you buy alcohol at a self-checkout the attendant has to check your age. So, in this instance, their checkout light went red and a message popped up on their screen. Here is a transcript of the conversation that followed:
Lady: “Why is it telling us that we have to wait for assistance?” Attendant: “We have to check your age to ensure you aren’t underage” Lady: “Ah, ok. I suppose I should take it as a compliment, really? Ha ha ha…”
For some reason, I took umbrage at her stupid remark. I just about managed to hold back from vociferating in response:
“So, you think this piece of electronic equipment has a brain, do you? That’s mistake number one. Mistake number two is thinking that if it did have a brain, it would be stupid enough to think that you, a haggard old alcoholic woman who smells of musky piss and morning fresh, are actually a voluptuous 17-year-old woman with the face of an angel.”
“Oh, and, by the way, you should assume that the card payment machine thinks you’re trustworthy, that the supermarket’s automatic door likes you and that your trolley knows where your car is parked. Good luck!”
Rapport can be described as a state of harmony achieved when the people involved appreciate and understand each other’s feelings and ideas and communicate on the same wavelength. Here is a story of how I established rapport with a room maid during my stay in Cancun. I was feeling a little cut off and lonely at the time, so it meant a lot to me.
During my two-week hotel stay, I occupied a twin room all to myself. This meant that I received two of everything, or in the case of bath towels, four of everything. It seemed a little extreme.
My first few evenings in Cancun were spent outside of the hotel. However, on my fifth night at the hotel, I was enjoying a rest before dinner when there was a knock at the door. I opened the door to a maid, who presented me with a towel before wishing me a good evening (in Spanish). “This is ridiculous,” I thought, “what the bloody hell do I need ANOTHER towel for?” Despite this, deep down inside me I felt a tingling sense of increased security: if I should need to have 10 showers a day, I could! Furthermore, if I ran out of money, I could start my own laundry shop… ;)
Opportunities can appear when you least expect them to. As I stood there, towel in hand, a childish idea came into my head - ‘towel origami.’ I could have some fun with this towel and put it to good use. So, this is what I made…
Say “hello” to my towel man, Enrique; made from one bath towel and one hand towel (together with a few bits and pieces from the complimentary bathroom pack). I left Enrique sitting at the top of the second bed; to greet the maid the next day. Next morning, I went out for the day, returning in the evening. As I walked back into the room I spotted that Enrique had disappeared… to be replaced by Mariana (complete with flirty eyes)…
Mariana was to become a fixed guest in my hotel room - she stayed there for the rest of my holiday, accompanied by varying arrangements of flowers and adornments. After a few days, I concluded she might be lonely. So, I gave her a friend…
Meet Simon the swan, made from a single bath towel, together with a rose (made from a tissue). Ok, I admit it, my skills at origami towel creations are no match for the maid’s. However, I didn’t have all the elastic bands, stickers, flowers, etc, that she had.
Simon lasted only one morning. The room maid created her towel arrangements out of old towels, so they were allowed to remain. But, mine were made from in-use towels and were taken away to be washed. Hence, by the time I returned from breakfast, he had disappeared and Mariana was on her own again (albeit, accompanied by a mini bouquet of flowers).
The maid’s towel origami was in evidence elsewhere in the hotel too. Later that morning, as I went to get the lift down to the swimming pool, a new towel creation had appeared. Sitting on the table opposite the lift was a rather phallic work of art…
Is it supposed to be a snail? Answers on a postcard on that (and on what the flower is supposed to represent).
On my final morning, as a thank you to the maid for providing the towel entertainment and Mariana, my towel friend, I left her a tip. Not to be boring, I made her one final towel creation - Cyril and Celia, the cygnets, forming a heart…
I didn’t ever properly converse with the maid, as she didn’t speak more than a couple of words of English and I didn’t speak more than a few words of Spanish. However, it does go to show that communication is not all about words - it can take so many other forms. We had both shown parts of our personalities by way of a simple, everyday piece of cloth. The result - smiles, entertainment and a warm feeling of understanding.
Note: I would just like to add that despite all of the towel origami shenanigans, at no point was anyone in the hotel deprived of a towel… (so, there’s no excuse for that man in the lift to smell the way he did…)
Today, I have decided to work from Costa; as a break from being at home. I’ve got my coffee, I’ve got my sandwich and I’ve got my berry muffin. Unfortunately for me, I’ve also “got” a teenage couple sitting on the table next to me. These two teenagers have clearly just discovered the delights of kissing (they’re sitting there sucking each other’s faces off). Now, anyone normal would find a corner somewhere to engage in this private and newly-exciting activity. But, no, they’re literally sitting right in the middle of Costa.
I could move all my stuff (laptop, jacket, bag, coffee, sandwich) onto another table nearby. But, instead, I’m going to sit here, moan lots and think up some mischievous ideas for what to do next. I could:
Maybe I’m just jealous. Do you think I’m jealous? When I was a teenager, I was just happy for a girl to notice me (usually followed by a face of disgust or a comment of “why are you standing outside the girls' changing rooms?"). I’m not bitter… ;)
Oh crap. I’ve just noticed. I’m looking around at the other tables in here and EVERYONE is a teenager. I’ve accidentally walked into the local puberty asylum. There’s only one thing for it, I’m going to have to put on some tracksuit bottoms, spray myself with 13 cans of Lynx deodorant and don a baseball cap.
You know what, I’m going to be a bit nicer to this couple. I mean, we were all young once. I haven’t eaten my muffin yet, so I could give them that… in small pieces… projected with velocity at their faces!! No, you know what, I’ll go and buy them a present… do they sell Chlamydia Test gift tokens in Boots? ;-)