- You react impulsively by swinging your arm. Lashing out blindly, and with the co-ordination of a stoned chimp, you slap yourself around the face, knocking out two teeth. If you weren't awake 5 seconds ago, you bloody well are now!
- You reach around for the light switch, only to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock. A jet of cold cat piss shoots into your face. F*cking alarm clock!
- After wiping your eyes on your pillow case, you fumble around some more and finally locate the light switch. The room lights up, blinding you like a rabbit caught in headlights. With blurry eyes you glance around, as if expecting Dracula to be standing by your bed with a big smirk on his face and a small trickle of blood running down his chin. He's not there. Shit... this is going to be more difficult than you thought.
- You engage in a game of insect hide and seek. However, you're at a disadvantage because mosquitos are masters of disguise - they are the chameleon ninjas of the insect world. You try to hunt him out, but he's craftily transformed into a lamp, a sock or the March 2012 issue of Playboy. As a result you can't find him. Feeling wearier by the minute, you slump into a chair and wait for him to make the next move.
- An hour passes and he hasn't made an appearance. In a desperate attempt to resume your slumber, you stumble around the room randomly hitting and moving things, hoping for some movement. He, in the meantime, is having a good old giggle at your pathetic attempt to find him. It's a complete mismatch in size terms, but the little bastard is beating you.
- After a further hour of searching, and having enlisted the help of binoculars, you spot him clinging to a cupboard by the far wall. Grabbing something substantial (the February 2012 issue of Playboy), you tiptoe slowly towards him. As you reach striking range you take a big swing and... bang!!!! A colossal chunk of plaster falls to the floor. Sadly for you, the mosquito isn't under it - he flew off a millisecond before Miss February's ample cleavage had a chance to make contact with his tiny head. You're now faced with a new challenge - focussing your eyes on where he goes next. You go cross-eyed as he does three circuits of the lampshade before heading towards the dark bookcase and then... he's vanished again.
- You repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 endlessly until you collapse onto the floor with exhaustion. Beaten.
- You pick up the first card, open it and find it has the perfect message:
I bought this Valentine's card at the store, in hope that, later, you'd be my whore.
Through all the things that came to pass, our love has grown... but so's your ass.
Our love will never become cold and hollow, unless, one day, you refuse to swallow!
Thinking, “wow, that was easy,” you make your way to pay.
- You pick up card after card, but can't find one that looks right or conveys the right message. What's more, every card seems to read like a miniature novel on how your love life should be, but isn't. If you plump for a card at random, you know fully well that she'll be thinking "he didn't really make an effort with this one, did he?" After two and a half hours of looking, with legs wobbling and brain rotting, you opt for the best one that you can find - a £20 gold-patterned card with a pig on it (let's hope she doesn't think you're calling her one).
- What is your dream job?
- Do you have any interesting collections?
- If you could wake up tomorrow with any ability, what would you choose?
- If you throw a cat out of a car window, does it become kitty litter?
- If a cow laughed, would milk come out of its nose?
- If someone with multiple personality disorder threatens suicide, is that considered a hostage situation?
- That's a lovely outfit… have you always been colour blind?
- You have a really interesting haircut… how much sponsorship money have you raised?
- So, how long have you been in the witness relocation programme?
- Are you a nun? Do you have any bad habits? (ok, that was a terrible joke)
- Have you given names to all of your head lice or just the special ones?
- Have you ever been on a date, but found that there was no spark? Well, you won't get that problem with me - I'm an arsonist!
- Is that piercing supposed to be there or has someone attacked you with a staple gun?
- So, how long have you owned your womble costume?
- I highly recommend colonic irrigation - have you ever tried it?
- Have you always had a moustache… I'm not sure it goes with that blouse?
- Why are you staring at me like that - haven't you ever seen a naked man before?
- Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched? No, good… (quickly change subject)
- Has anyone ever told you that when you laugh, you sound like the woman from the Krankies? Come to think of it, you don't look too dissimilar either…
- I've been trying to figure it out all night… are those breasts real?
- So, what do you think of my "I Shag On The First Date" t-shirt?
- Has anyone ever told you that you have very big hands for a lady… and is that an adams apple?
- Did I mention that I'm Gillian McKeith's younger brother? If you'd like to take a crap into this plastic box, I'll tell you what's wrong with your diet...
- Have you ever considered plastic surgery? I mean, they can do wonders with noses these days!
- Have you met my imaginary friend Phillip? Say hello, Phillip…
- Where would you like to go for our honeymoon - I was thinking Morocco…?
- "I'm like Gillette - the best a man can get"
- "I'm a bit like your MasterCard - I'm your flexible friend"
- "I'm a bit like Kelloggs Frosties… I'm grrrrrreat!"
- You get dressed quickly, grab a piece of toast and scamper to the bus stop, with your shoes on the wrong feet and your underwear sticking out of your trousers.
- You log straight on to Facebook to check your messages and your poker balance (hey, they give you $10 worth of chips just for logging on, reducing your balance to -$8,456,937). You then post a message onto your boss's wall to say that you're going to be late for work (he'll forgive you because you can get him into trouble with his wife by tagging him in those 'Christmas office party' photos from last year, where he was caught in a compromising position with Angela from Accounts)
- Make a resolution to make changes, find a local club to join and start a gym membership (a good way to meet new people).
- Start a Facebook group called "If I get 1,000,000 followers I will get a tattoo of Barack Obama on my bottom" and wait for lots of people to join (which, inevitably, they will).
- You relax and watch the film, enjoying the great plot, dialogue and scenery.
- You sit in your chair, posting the plot twists onto Facebook every 5 minutes, thinking you're great. However, in actual fact, you're just ruining it for anyone wanting to see the movie themselves and pissing off the people sitting around you, who think you're a moron.
- Visit the shops to buy her a present and a big bunch of flowers, taking time to choose a present that she'll really love.
- Send her a 'virtual gift' bunch of flowers, costing $1, and then post "hpapy brithdy" on her wall (mis-spelled because you get distracted by an incoming chat request from a Russian hooker).
- "why can't I paint you?"
- "I'll stick it onto my 'super wall.'"
- Give him a call, check he's ok, have a long chat and invite him over for a meal.
- 'Poke' him.
- You visit the hospital to congratulate him and see the baby (you'll have to get a taxi, as there is no bus today and the rat has eaten through your only pair of shoes)
- You sit there shocked - you didn't even know his wife was pregnant… in fact, you can't even remember him being married. You then do him the biggest favour that any best friend could. You go onto the Facebook website and set his day-old daughter, Dorkis Clapsaddle, up with a new account.
- You rush towards him and help put the fire out (using your coat, bag or the little old lady standing next to you)
- You rush towards him, retrieve your phone from your pocket, take a photo (making sure to include the tattoo) and share it with your Facebook followers (ensuring you caption it with "look, a man on fire!") Then, not wanting to waste the opportunity, you take a quick video and upload it to Facebook and YouTube.
- Go out to the local shopping centre and look for a nice outfit that will give a good impression to guests.
- Take photos of your current wardrobe and then set up a poll, inviting the current 999,956 followers of your 'Barack Obama tattoo' Facebook group to vote for their favourite outfit.
- Agree to it - it can't do you any harm and it'll prove that you can live without social networking. Hey, you might even enjoy it!
- Shout at him "I'M NOT ADDICTED," before bludgeoning him over the head with the only thing you can reach - a fire extinguisher.
Now, you’ll probably appreciate it when I tell you that I’m no expert on kitchen utensils. Until recently I believed that Pestle and Mortar was a U.S. crime drama tv series from the 1980s.
However, I think that if I use this Tesco ‘ladle’ to serve [cream of hedgehog] soup at my upcoming dinner party (which is entirely fabricated to make the joke, so please don’t expect an invite) you’ll all be going rather hungry…
Still… “every little helps”…
Let me ask you a question: Why don’t they make alarm clocks with a mosquito sound? I can’t think of anything guaranteed to get you out of bed swifter than that irritating, high-pitched whine… with the possible exception of your cat peeing on your head. However, I would speculate that alarm clock sales might decline with a cat urine spray as the featured wake-up call. One can only speculate on the consequences of hitting ‘snooze’ - perhaps you might be awakened 10 minutes later with a vomit-soaked fur ball.
Following on from that bizarre introduction, let me tell you a story about how one clever little mosquito’s big appetite ended up costing him dearly. If I was a super-villain then this would be a most timely moment to include an evil laugh. Oh what the hell… MUHAHAHAAAAAA!!!
For the purposes of this tale I have taken the decision to name the mosquito Colin, if only to add personality and dramatic effect when I kill him off at the end. I agree that ‘Colin’ doesn’t seem like a very ferocious name for a supremely despised, blood-sucking creature. But then you haven’t met my bank manager.
On the right is a picture of Colin - to add additional persona to his character. Obviously the picture isn’t actually of Colin. I didn’t have time to ask him to pose for a series of candid portrait drawings before sending him on his way to mosquito heaven. With forethought I’d have perhaps considered taking ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs to publish on billboards as a warning to other mosquitos not to mess with me. Kind-of like the ‘Don’t Drink And Drive’ campaigns. A possible slogan off the top of my head: ‘Don’t Whine And Dine!’ I think it’s got legs… which is more than can be said for Colin - one of his legs is still dangling limply from my curtain. I’m leaving it there as a trophy.
Allow me to set the scene a little. It was a warm Wednesday night and I had just returned from a night of drinking, singing and merriment in a local Cancun bar… with the added entertainment of watching one particular young lady (Christine) chase cockroaches around the room with a mop, in a mild state of hysteria. Cockroaches are said to be the only creatures capable of surviving a nuclear holocaust - they’re “hard bastards” - so I can’t think that being chased by a stick with a wig (poor Christine needs to put on some weight) would have them particularly quaking in their little boots.
At the end of the evening, and having had rather enough of insects, I made my way home and into bed. All was peaceful. And then a few minutes later it happened… a whining sound coming from behind my ear. Being that I’m not married, I immediately twigged that I had a mosquito problem.
What happened next? Well I’m sure you’ve all been in this position yourselves, so I will quickly summarise the principles involved with solving a nighttime mosquito situation…
Back to my story now and, after waking to the sound of Colin’s dulcet tones, I discovered that he had cheekily tucked into an appetiser. He’d bitten me on my chin. Of all the delicious parts of me that he could have chosen to start with, he chose my chin. I deduced from this fact that he was either incredibly bright or incredibly stupid. Here’s the logic behind my thinking:
Incredibly bright - he lands on my chin, I go to hit him and knock myself out. He then continues to invite all his friends over for an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Incredibly stupid - of all the places to chow down into, the chin is surely the least appetising. It’s a bit like me killing a cow and then chomping on his buttocks. I’ve never eaten cow buttock, so I really don’t know how it tastes. However, I suspect that if it was truly delicious then cow buttock would feature prominently on steak restaurant menus. I feel I should point out that I’m not comparing my face to a cow’s arse and any resemblance is purely coincidental (and a little cruel if you ask me).
So what did I do next? Well I was tired, half-drunk and I couldn’t be bothered to start searching around for the little sod. Instead I sprayed myself with insect repellent and hid under the covers. I didn’t hear from Colin for the rest of the night. But, if I thought that that would be the last I heard of him then I was wrong…
Colin re-appeared the next evening. I can only think that he got a bad case of the munchies (having only sampled my chin the previous night) because he attacked me when the light was on. I saw his approach from a mile off, moving off the bed and goading him with a confident demeanour of someone who knew the game had changed in his favour. I waited for him to land on the curtain next to me and then, as he settled, I was all over him like a fat kid on a cupcake. Revenge was mine… MUHAHAHAAAAAA!!! (I’m beginning to enjoy these evil laughs!)
So it transpires that Colin wasn’t particularly bright after all. He certainly won’t be renewing his Mensa membership next year, let alone his Playboy subscription…
This afternoon, I had an online chat with a customer service representative from a well-known software company. Often chats like this can be dull, so I was determined to make it a little more interesting. However, he partially managed to do that himself with his incompetence at clicking wrong buttons for set phrases. Here’s the script of the chat…
You are now chatting with William from Customer Services.
William: Is there anything else I can help you with? William: Hello! Welcome to Customer Services. William: Sorry for the first statement.
Robert: No worries, you must have clicked the wrong button. These things happen.
William: Hi Robert.
William: May I please have your email address registered with your account while I review your request?
Robert: Yes, it’s …@…. (but only on weekends)
William: Thank you. William: I understand that you have ordered the software and did not receive the download link to your account. Am I right?
Robert: I’ve received the link to the login page but, I don’t know what to log in with…
William: I am sorry to hear that.
Robert: Thank you, that means a lot.
William: Welcome, Let me see how best I can help you with this issue. May I place you on hold for 2-3 minutes while I check for the information.
Robert: Sure, please go ahead. Am I allowed to hum the theme to Two And A Half Men whilst I wait? Robert: “men men men, menmen menmen men, men men men…”
William: Thank you for waiting. One moment please.
Robert: You’re welcome. I hope you don’t mind, but whilst I have been waiting I’ve been vacuuming and dusting (this office needs a damn good clean, I tell you! Are any of your friends cleaners, by any chance?)
William: Thank you for the patience.
Robert: That’s what my Doctor said yesterday when I took some of my ill friends in for their flu inoculations…
William: Sorry for the wait. Please do stay online.
Robert: I’m quite happy to do that, so long as I don’t have an urgent need to pee, bake a cake or polish my wok…
William: Not to worry, I will send you the reset password link to your email address. please login to this email and click on the password link to reset the password. Is that fine with you?
Robert: Yes, please do. Thank you. How long is the email likely to take? Is it going to be instant or should I get a sleeping bag?
William: Thank you for the patience.
Robert: That’s what my Doctor said this morning when I took some of my ill family members in for their flu inoculations…
William: I have sent you the password link. Please login to this email and click on the password link to reset the password.
Robert: Ok. I’m waiting for the email - do you know how long it might take? (I’m just wondering if I have time to hang the washing out?)
William: Let me check information for you.
Robert: Thank you.
William: Here’s the link: please click on the link to reset the password.
Robert: Perfect - that’s worked.
William: That’s great! Is there anything else I can help you with?
Robert: No, that’s all. Thanks William. If only everyone in the world was as helpful and efficient as you. May you be blessed with happiness, good fortune and a large tub of cottage cheese…
William: You may receive an email survey in reference to this interaction. Your feedback is very much appreciated.
Robert: Sure. I’ll suggest they give you a big, gold star and promote you to management. I think I’ve asked this before, but are any of your friends cleaners?
William: It’s my pleasure serving you. William: Since we have not heard from you for some time, we will now end this chat. Please click to chat with us again if we can be of further assistance. William: Sorry for the last statement. William: Thank you for contacting us. We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Goodbye!
Robert: The pleasure has been all mine. Robert: What have you done with my cat!? Robert: Sorry for the last statement (clicked the wrong button!).
I thought I was being clever when I visited my local supermarket at midnight on Friday. With snowy weather forecast, everyone in the entire country was hitting the supermarket during the daylight hours to pack their house, garage and garden shed full of bread, milk and carpet shampoo. So, to compensate for this, and to ensure that I didn’t go without clean carpets, I decided to make a quick stop to my local Tesco on my way back from a night out on Friday. It was shrewd thinking - the supermarket would be empty and I could get in and out of the store really quickly. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, tiredness and hunger meant my decisions were slightly skewed. I managed to buy Easter eggs for the entire street, enough cereal to feed a small African village, 24 bags of of cat litter (I have no cat) and 15 boxes of tampons thanks to a special offer that I just couldn’t find the energy to turn down. So, ladies, if it’s that time of the month, you’ve got a cat with mild bladder weakness and you like cereal, mine’s the place to be…
Note: Please let me vacate my flat before you arrive, as I can’t bear to argue with you over which Easter egg you want most…
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… ;)
As someone who runs my own business, I’m used to making difficult decisions. However, today I found myself facing one of the most challenging decisions I’ve made in a while. That’s right - I went to buy a new toothbrush.
Before you laugh, just consider what a complicated decision it has become to choose a new toothbrush. I spent several minutes pondering, bemused, in the supermarket aisle because I couldn’t decide between green and blue, soft and firm, springy head or non-springy head, tongue cleaning or non-tongue cleaning…
What I found particularly funny, other than imagining the sight of me scratching my head infront of the toothbrushes, was some of the marketing on the toothbrush boxes themselves. For example, the toothbrush that I ended up buying (because it was on special offer) was labelled as ‘professional’. Now, what exactly does that mean - can I call myself a professional tooth brusher? There seems little justification for being awarded this title. Surely I should have attended a training course, passed an exam and been presented with a certificate before achieving such an important honour?
Having graciously accepted this title (by agreeing to pay £2.50), I wonder whether it’s time for me to update my CV to include “professional tooth brusher?” Perhaps I could also include the fact that I do a ‘professional’ job of wiping my own backside too? (though I do say so myself!)
Onto another point now, regarding product marketing. I bought some toilet rolls today and on the packaging was a big star containing the text “Voted product of the year - consumer survey of product innovation 2009”. Have I been transported back in time several centuries? According to Wikipedia, “the first documented use of toilet paper in human history dates back to the 6th century AD, in early medieval China.” So, they seem a little late in recognising this fantastic “innovation” (and, lets be honest, our bottoms wouldn’t be the same without it). One wonders what other products of ingenuity received awards at the same time - the wheel, the cocktail stick and the hairpiece, perhaps?
I can imagine that the 2010 awards will see another ‘hard fought’ competition, with the innovation of the year being something like… ah, yes, that new concept called the ‘bar of soap’…
Last night, I visited my local store on a late-evening mission of some urgency. I’m sure that most of you reading this have been in a similar situation before.
As I strolled through the front door of the store, it became all too obvious that it was nearing closing time. Why? Well, the shopkeeper looked positively suicidal and the only items left on the shelves were a salad labelled with yesterday’s date and a half-eaten doughnut. If I hadn’t known better, I could have easily assumed that the townsfolk had entered into Emergency British Panic Buying Mode - an event that normally occurs when weather forecasters predict a flake of snow to fall somewhere within 100 miles.
So, why was I venturing out in the middle of the night? Well, I had experienced the ultimate nightmare. No, I’m not talking about waking up in bed, with a heavy hangover, lying naked next to your best friend’s grandmother (don’t pretend you’ve never had that dream!!). I was running low on toilet paper.
Cutting straight to the chase, I managed to find the aisle with the toilet paper. Good news awaited me - the brand of toilet roll that I normally buy was on special offer - hooray! Cue a quick dance and spin on the spot to celebrate. My glee didn’t last long, however, as there was a sting in the tail. They had sold out of every colour… except “Blossom Pink.” So, standing there, perplexed, scratching my head in deliberation and feeling increasingly desperate for the toilet, I had to mull over the following two options in my mind. Should I:
a) Buy the blossom pink toilet paper and risk the jibes of friends when they come over. So, what would my mates think about my very feminine, pink toilet roll - surely it’s a given that they’ll take the piss (pun intended)? More importantly; as a single man, what impression would the blossom pink toilet roll give to any ladies when I invite them over for dinner and they visit the bathroom?
b) Opt for the more expensive, alternative brand of super-quilted, quadruple velvet, gold-lined ‘bog roll’ (available in manly colours such as ‘duck tape grey’, ‘camouflage green’ or ‘gun barrel beige’).
Which option did I choose? Option a). No wonder the shopkeeper had a big smile on his face as I walked back out of the door…
I spent Saturday evening in the company of friends (plus others) at their house, which they share with their two children of ages three and five years. Alcohol was present (that’s not the name of one of the children) and, inevitably when people get slightly tipsy, one person had a rather childish moment…. and it was me who had that moment (why aren’t you surprised?). Well, life’s too miserable to be short… or something like that.
Having consumed a couple of drinks, I spotted a collection of plastic magnetic letters stuck to the fridge. I felt sorry for them - all jumbled up in no particular order (or possibly spelling something out in Greek) and longing, with unfulfilled ambition, to become part of a glorious word from our wonderful English language. I felt their pain (though that could have been indigestion from the sausage rolls and sandwiches). So, to appease them, I strolled over and spelled out the first word that came into my head from my extensive and colossal vocabulary…
Walking slowly back to my chair, I felt happier. But I still believed, inside, that I could do better…
There were a lot of letters remaining on the fridge; sulking and hoping against hope for a second chance. So, I pulled myself together for one last mission; to construct a phrase that would live long in the memory of the children… a message that they would one day pass on to their children…
I strode back to my seat feeling very happy and proud of myself. Mind due, the fridge was pointing out that some of that sentiment could have been due to the alcohol…
I’m sure that the faces of the children next morning would truly have been a sight to behold!
I recently wrote a blog article called Make Your Supermarket Trip Fun. Since then, life has gone a bit mad with work and a flat move. However, today I’m back and I’m…. writing about supermarkets again. I don’t live in a supermarket, believe me (but, if I did, I’d pitch my tent in the bakery aisle).
I was queueing at a supermarket checkout yesterday. Everyone was being so polite - standing in a straight line, not saying what they were thinking (“what the hell is he buying shampoo for - he’s bald?"). It got me thinking: I wonder if there are any articles on supermarket etiquette. It turns out that there are. Here’s one written for WikiHow.
However, it’s very boring, so here’s:
Robert's Alternative Supermarket Checkout Etiquette
1. Fill up a basket with as many individual items as you possibly can - stack them high and make sure you include a watermelon and a baguette (more on that in a minute). Then, making it obvious that you’re struggling to carry the heavy weight, head to the ‘basket only’ aisle. Whilst standing in the queue attracting everyone’s attention, keep muttering the words “I’m sure I’ve forgotten something….” Next, start counting your items loudly, but keep forgetting what number you got to and start again.
2. As you stand in the queue, comment on the shopping of the person behind you. Draw particular attention to anything that could possibly be embarrassing and talk in a loud voice. “Ah, I see you’re buying a cucumber…. so, you don’t have a fella in your life at the moment then….”
3. When you get to the stage where there is one person infront of you, grab the watermelon from your basket and hurl it down the conveyor belt towards the other end. As it hits the customer’s shopping pile, and scatters their items in all directions, yell out the word “STRIKE!” and do a little celebration dance.
4. Once the person infront has collected their goods (from the conveyor belt, the floor and the trolleys of various passers-by) and the conveyor belt is completely empty, seize your opportunity. Lay down on the conveyor belt (front first) and belly-surf your way down to the far end with your arms out (tip: ensure you haven’t put any shopping on the conveyor belt first).
5. As you talk to the cashier, change accents frequently and see if they notice. Start British, then move to American, Italian, Australian, French and finish with Welsh (as they always come last ;-) ).
6. When asked if you require assistance with packing your shopping, say “yes.” When the assistant arrives and begins to help you pack, repeatedly beat them over the head with the baguette and shout “come on - FASTER!!”
7. Help the cashier out. As they are scanning your items, lean over and start tapping the keys on their keypad. When asked what you are doing, tell them that you’re trying to solve a complex logarithmic equation that will safeguard the future of humanity. To help them further, make the beeping sound yourself as they scan items in (and vary the pitch).
8. When it comes to paying, pull a huge bag of pennies out of your pocket and begin to count them out, one by one. As you’re counting, forget where you got to and start again. Attempt to enlist the help of passers by, and the employee helping you pack, in counting your money and offer to pay them 10 pence each for their trouble. Increase the offer in 1 pence amounts until they agree, then pull out a contract form for them to fill in and sign.
Do you find yourself feeling bored, frustrated and disillusioned when you undertake your regular supermarket shopping expedition? It’s time to change all that!
Here’s a few challenges and ideas to make it more interesting for you and your fellow shoppers…
Challenge 1 - Don’t Shop From The Shelves
Pick yourself a trolley (try to get one that doesn’t have a wonky wheel) and enter the store. Now, before you grab for that 2-for-1 cake offer, stop. For this challenge, you’re only allowed to shop from other people’s trolleys. That’s right - you’re not allowed to put anything in your trolley that comes directly off the supermarket shelf.
I know what you’re thinking - that’s surely a bit cruel to the person you’re taking from? To help you get over the guilt, you’re allowed to replace the item you take with another similar-sized item from a supermarket shelf. Here’s an example:
You see an 85 year-old lady walking around and you spot that she has a jar of your favourite jam in her trolley. Whilst she is inspecting the tubes of Denture Cream, you creep up, take the jam and replace it with a box of PleasureMax Condoms. Problem solved - no guilt for you.
Challenge 2 - Fancy Dress
When you go shopping for a specific item, you should dress as the item you are going to buy. Be careful - it could be slightly embarrassing if you’re going in to buy tampons….
Need multiple items? Great - take your family along with you!
Challenge 3 - The Supermarket Dash
This challenge is simple - you have to get from one end of the supermarket to the other in the shortest time, whilst shouting the words “I forgot the cornflakes!!!” and frantically waving your arms in the air. Bonus points are given for shoving people head-first into the freezers…
On festive occasions, the word “cornflakes” can be substituted for items such as mince pies, cranberry sauce, hot-cross-buns, etc.
If you get bored with this one, an alternative version is to dress as an alcoholic tramp and crawl slowly along the floor towards the beer section whilst slurring the words “must have a…l…c…o…h…o…l.” If you can make it without being grabbed by security, you win.
Challenge 4 - Persuasion
Are you a good salesperson? Now’s the time to find out. You have to act like you work in sales and sell a product to someone that you wouldn’t usually expect to purchase that item. You can choose to make this as difficult as you want to, depending on how you’re feeling. For example, if you want an easy challenge you could try persuading an obese lady to purchase a packet of Jamie Dodgers. Slightly more difficult, you could try to sell shampoo to a bald man. Just don’t try to sell a pack of sausages to a vegetarian muslim….
All of these challenges should help ensure that your shopping trip remains interesting and entertaining. Just make sure that you shop at different supermarkets, to avoid being banned for bad behaviour….
No-one ever wants to come shopping with me anymore - I can’t understand why!?
Sitting in the corner of my lounge are a set of three small tables. These could be referred to as ‘occasional tables.’
My question is this: If they’re occasional tables, what are they the rest of the time? Furthermore, if I have a set of three occasional tables, should I be using them for different occasions or should I be tremendously extravagant and use them all for one big event?
I almost feel that my occasional tables are not achieving their full potential; ensconced in the corner of my lounge. Perhaps, with these furniture items being a part-time rest place for discarded items and drinks, on special occasions, they could engage in more exciting activities the rest of the time? The smallest occasional table, for example, could be a part time shelter for a homeless mongoose. The largest occasional table could be a life-raft for a very small colony of dwarf rabbits (incase they get stuck in a boat in rough weather).
The definition for an ‘occasional table’ is “a table that is small enough that it does not have a very practical use. It is used mostly for decoration or display.”
So, an occasional table is a bit like Katie Price (albeit with no bust…. unless someone has placed their priceless Winston Churchill sculpture on it)…
I think the definition should be changed to:
an occasional table is an extraordinary piece of furniture that, when not used as a rest place for items during significant occasions, can be used to save the lives of dwarf rabbits all over the world from certain peril on the high seas.
So, next time you see an occasional table sitting somewhere, looking unused, just remember that it’s only having a rest from its regular, important jobs. It’s waiting for the moment to fulfil its potential…
The guy (or woman - this isn’t a gender-specific annoyance) who walks into a cafe on a cold day and leaves the door open. It only takes 2 seconds to close the door and save everyone from a chilling blast of arctic cold up their jacksey.
Yet this idiot, wearing his super-thick winter coat, doesn’t think about that, does he?
So, what happens next?
You get up from your chair and walk across to ‘ferme la porte’, ensuring that you slam it hard enough that the noise resonates around the room and shakes all the pictures off the walls. Everyone looks up at you, except for the ignorant ‘merde’ who left it ajar in the first place. You then trudge back to your seat (although in your mind you’re walking up to the man, grabbing his head and bashing it onto the counter infront of him).
You sit down, feeling irritated, and continue with what you were doing (the crossword in the newspaper, in which, coincidentally, the answer to 4 across is ‘tosspot’ - well, it’s not really, but it does fit, so f*ck it!)
Just as your mood begins to return to somewhere near normality, the inevitable happens. The guy has ordered take-away and, having paid for his sandwich and coffee by emptying the entire collection of loose change from his wallet, bag and coat pockets into a heap on to the counter, he opens the door and goes to walk out. You’re waiting for him to either shut the door behind him or give you the motive for murder.
Instead, he taunts you by doing neither and begins a long goodbye speech to the cafe owner (with the door wide open). Well, that’s enough for you - you get up off your chair, spilling the unfinished crossword to the floor, and sprint across the room, slamming the door in his face and knocking him and his coffee half way down the street. That’ll teach the little ‘4 across!’
Update: To my delight, I've just found out that there's a 'Close The Door' campaign in the UK. Find out more about it here.
One wonders who hates Valentine’s Day more - the man trying to find something suitably romantic for his partner or the guy who receives nothing and ends the day unloved… and locked up for stalking.
So, for a man, how does a typical Valentine’s Day shopping trip turn out…
It’s February the 13th and you’ve left it late. It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and you’ve put the dreaded shopping trip off as long as you can. Your prayers for a nuclear holocaust have gone unanswered. What’s more, your clever scheme to coat the 2010 calendar in dog food didn’t work either. Your hungry dog, Charlie, ignored it and chewed through your favourite pair of slippers instead. There’s only one thing for it, you’re going to have to go out shopping.
So, what should you buy? You’re going to need one hell of a romantic gesture to beat last year’s effort. Spelling “I love you Catharine Elizabeth Alexandra Mackenzie” in your own blood, whilst bungee jumping from a crane, resulted in a month in the Intensive Care ward. You can only blame yourself… for choosing a partner with such a long name. On the plus side, the effort did win you immense respect (from other men).
Not only do you have to contend with bettering last year, but you also have to out-romance your partner’s best friend. A week hardly goes by without your partner’s friend bragging about the romantic gestures that her husband makes, and your partner thinks nothing of mentioning them to you in conversation. The cow (that’s aimed at the friend, obviously, not your partner!).
The Card Shop(the easiest part of the shopping expedition… supposedly)
So, what message should you look for in a Valentine’s Day card? If you’re in a relationship, you’re looking for a card that gives the message “I love you more than life itself," without going over the top. If you’re playing the field a bit, you’re looking for the card that says “you are the one and only," in a ‘buy one, get one free’ offer…
You walk into the card shop and are immediately greeted by a sea of red Valentine’s Cards, going on as far as the eye can see. The last time you saw this amount of red concentrated in one place was when you drunkenly knocked a bottle of Merlot on to your friend’s carpet (and proceeded to try and lick it up). Standing in front of the abundant rows of cards are lines of confused-looking men, scratching their heads, leaning to one side and dribbling from one side of the mouth. You walk over to join them. At this point one of two things happen:
Choosing a Present
Right, so, you’ve bought the card. Now you have to think about a present…
Flowers are a good option for your loved one for Valentine’s Day (and they represent your relationship well - after a while they wither and die). Now then, would she prefer red, yellow, white or pink and how much should you spend?
Ordinarily, chocolates would make a good present. But you know fully well that she’ll only scoff the lot and then ask you the question “do you think I look fat?” two days later.
A romantic idea. However, you’ll only get the wrong size and, besides, the last time you tried to buy lingerie you were thrown out for ogling the breasts of the sales girls.
You could take her out for dinner. But you’ve left it late and all the decent restaurants have been booked up already. So, it’s either a meal at the local greasy spoon or a take-away kebab.
There’s always the romantic thought of cooking her dinner. But last time you cooked beans on toast you accidentally destroyed her favourite saucepan and set fire to Charlie. She’d never forgive you if you did that again, and neither would Charlie (what’s left of him).
It looks pretty hopeless - you’d better find yourself a bungee cord and a crane (I suggest you just draw a heart this year and forget about her name!).
To help you, I’ve come up with a handy list of questions that you can ask your date, to get the conversation moving again.
Here's some good ones:
And here's some alternative ones:
This blog post features in the onlinedating.org 45 articles on questions to ask before the first date article.
Ok, I admit it, I’ve been dabbling in the world of online dating. It’s been an interesting and, occasionally, eye-opening experience.
Earlier today, I was looking through a few online dating profiles and the following irritating phrase came up several times:
“I’m a lil like marmite - you either love me or hate me."
Ah, ok, so you’re not a “lil like marmite” because you’re thick, pasty and smell like shit? Why include such an inappropriate and over-used slogan in your profile? If you do include one, at least use something interesting, like:
Anyway, this observation got me wondering what company slogan comparisons I could use in my own online dating profile. I think I’ll include some of the following:
I am like:
Sony: like.no.other Stella Artois: Reassuringly expensive Britvic: Simply the best there is Greggs Bakers: Ready when you are Burger King: The home of the Whopper KFC: Finger lickin' good Milky Way: I’m the sweet you can eat between meals (without ruining your appetite) Energizer Batteries: I keep going, and going, and going Martini: Any time, any place, any where Sainsbury’s: Try something new today Peperami: I’m a bit of an animal Nintendo DS: Touching is good Pringles: Once I pop, the fun don’t stop Rennie: Powerful relief in just two minutes Burger King (2): It takes two hands to hold a Whopper Rowntrees Fruit Gums: There’s juice loose aboot this hoose Opal Fruits: Made to make your mouth water Smarties: Wot a lot I got Hewlett Packard: Expanding possibilities Shredded Wheat: Bet you can’t eat three
and finally, my favourite: Wagon Wheels: It’s so big, you’ve gotta grin to get it in
Are you addicted to Facebook - the social media website? Do you find yourself logging on whilst at work, at home in bed, on the toilet and in the bath?
Following on from my popular article, The Self-Importance of Facebook & Twitter, I aim to find out just how addicted to social media you are, using this simple story test.
Select the options that best apply to you…
1. It is 8am on Monday morning and you wake up feeling weary, having ended a late-night Facebook Poker game at 5am. You lost $8,456,947 to a guy named ‘Billy J’, who you’ve never met (it’s a good job the money isn’t real). You stare are your alarm clock in disbelief - in 10 minutes the bus leaves for work. Which of these best applies to you?
2. You feel unpopular, and it’s not surprising. Other than work, your only regular trip into the outside world is when you take the bin out for the dustmen. Your only offline friends are the bus driver (who you’ve known for ten years) and the rat that lives under your kitchen floorboards (who you’ve known for three months). It’s time to think seriously about changing your life to increase your social circle. Do you:
3. You go to the cinema with your friend (the bus driver, not the rat). Which of these applies to you?
During the movie, a drunk guy, sitting two seats to your left, passes across a beer label with the following words scribbled on the back: “You have received a friend request from Billy Johnson. Accept / Decline.”
4. It’s your Mum’s birthday tomorrow (a handy message came up on your Facebook sidebar to remind you). Do you:
5. Musical Interlude…
“If a picture paints a thousand words, then:"
6. You haven’t heard from your brother in a couple of weeks. He has been going through a terrible time recently. He lost his job, his girlfriend dumped him and his goldfish died (of neglect, but that’s not the point!). Do you:
7. Your best friend, the bus driver, has just called. His wife has just given birth to a little baby girl. Which of these applies to you?
8. You hobble into town, to buy a rat trap and a new pair of shoes, and you spot a man on fire. His drunken attempt to juggle fire has clearly backfired, and now he is well alight. His trousers have burnt away, revealing a tattoo of Barack Obama on his bottom. Which of these applies to you?
The fire is finally extinguished. Lying on the ground with second degree burns, the guy hands you a beer label… on it is scribbled “Billy Johnson has invited you to join the Facebook group ‘Learn How To Juggle Fire Without Getting Burned.’ Accept / Decline.”
9. You have decided to throw a party at the weekend. You’ve invited lots of people from work, including your boss and Angela from Accounts (you’re hoping to get some new blackmail material). The bus driver will be laying on transport and Billy Johnson and friends from your fire juggling Facebook group will be providing entertainment (you’ve ensured you have a ready supply of fire extinguishers). However, you don’t know what to wear. It needs to be something nice, but also something that allows you to hide in corners and take embarrassing photographs. Do you:
10. A week after the party, you’re cooking in the kitchen with your brother (the good news is that he is still alive… unlike his poor goldfish!). He makes the suggestion that you might be addicted to Facebook and suggests a ‘Social Media Detox’. Do you:
So, are you a Facebook addict?
Right, it’s a simple calculation. If you have answered with mostly b’s then you have a Facebook addiction, which can probably be sorted out. If you have answered with ALL b’s, then you should proceed directly to the lunatic asylum (that’s not a Facebook group, by the way) for a ‘digital cleanse’ (similar to colonic irrigation, but the other end). Oh, and before you go, don’t forget to update your status to let all your friends know where you’re going…
If you have answered with mostly, or all, a’s then congratulations, you’re not addicted. Send yourself a ‘glass of champagne’ Facebook gift, in celebration.
You know what? Snow reminds me of a distant Auntie’s visit on Christmas Day. Everything seems very pleasant and enjoyable for the first 5 minutes and the children enjoy playing with her. But then you realise that she hasn’t really brought anything nice with her. She then overstays her welcome, irritates you to the point of hatred and gives you a frosty reception when you attempt to reshape her into a man.
Still, at least you can rely on teenagers to provide a smile in the snowy weather. I don’t know about you, but I feel positive that the future of our country will be safe in the hands of our young folk; particularly the ‘sensible ones’ who walk around in the bitter cold wearing t-shirts (or hoodies) and writing “amusing” messages on the front of parked cars. I watch them walk down the road, hoping that at some point they might slip over and impale themselves on a fence post. Should it happen, I intend to nip out and transcribe the word “twat!” in the pool of blood lying next to them. Hey, I may even draw a little picture.
Worried by what you’ve heard, you switch on the weather forecast and, within seconds, it comes up with a no-nonsense summary of what is to come: Severe Weather Warning: Heavy Snow. You go into a momentary state of shock and, for a split second, the weather forecaster transforms into the Grim Reaper and points his scythe at you. Sensing the need for urgency, you make a quick decision: It’s time to panic in a way that only British people can… begin Benny Hill music
The Supermarket Trip
Worried that other people might buy up everything that would help you survive being snowed in by the anticipated 20ft of snow, you jump straight into your car and speed to the local supermarket. After fighting your way into the car park you squeeze into a small space; parking half on the grass verge and half on the man collecting the trolleys. You grab a trolley and sprint through the supermarket doors, spinning a little old lady to the ground as she stands perusing the Easter hot cross bun offer. There’s no time for checking she’s ok - you’re panic buying, for goodness sake…
You dash through the store, heading straight for the bread and milk. Afterall, there are no better survival foods during two weeks of violent snow storms, and 20ft snow drifts, than bread and milk. Tins of food are not going to help and, therefore, should not be given consideration - what a stupid idea!
As you approach the bread aisle, you are greeted by a scene from a nuclear holocaust - the shelves have been decimated. A gust of wind from the stock room sends a bread bag rolling along the aisle towards you, like tumbleweed. Just as you’re about to give up, you spot a wounded survivor in the distance - a baguette; broken in two with a piece missing from the end (and a suspicious child-sized bite mark). This is no time to be fussy. You rescue the stricken bread stick and lift it gently into your trolley, as if you were lifting an elderly lady out of a chair (or off the floor, together with her hot cross buns). Great, your emergency survival kit is underway.
Next stop, milk. As you reach aisle 435, having fought your way through the crowds of 75 year olds scrapping over the last few boxes of Ritz crackers, it becomes obvious that you’ve once again arrived too late. The fridges are empty and there are puddles of milk lying stagnant on the floor. The scene bears the hallmarks of a battlefield after the biggest milk fight in history. You feel like crying, but can’t, for obvious reasons - it’s spilt milk and crying over it would make for a terrible pun.
So, what are you going to do - an emergency survival kit is no good without milk? I mean, you’ve got the baguette, surely you can’t be defeated at this late stage? And, besides, it’s a known religious ‘fact’ that “man cannot live by bread alone”… You have two choices:
1) Choose different milk. UHT, for example, has a much longer shelf life.
2) Slowly prowl around the store, like a stalker with squeaky shoes, and try to locate a trolley with milk in it. Then, using your ninja skills, sneak up and extract the milk from the owner’s trolley without them noticing. I mean, it’s not stealing, is it…
Any thought about trying option one leaves your head straight away - you’re in panic mode, this is no time for sensible thinking. So, temporarily abandoning your trolley, you walk around from one aisle to the next, taking cover behind other shoppers and large boxes of shredded wheat, and casually inspect the trolleys of unsuspecting shoppers. After a few minutes, you spot a young Mother and her trolley, which contains a big two pint bottle of milk - perfect. The milk starts calling you from the back of the trolley - you can clearly hear it (but, strangely, no-one else can!). It’s in a tricky position though - perched directly underneath the Mother’s four children, who sit squashed into the trolley’s single child seat. You convince yourself that your cause is greater than that of her four kids and so, whilst she is building up her emergency supply of Pampers nappies in a second trolley, you sneak up, distract the kids with lollipops taken from the end shelf, extract the bottle of milk and escape quickly, like a fart in a jockstrap.
Feeling elated, you stroll casually back to your trolley with a big grin on your face. However, a shock greets you as you return to your trolley… someone’s nicked your half-eaten baguette. The little shit!!
You feel desolate and bereft of ideas. In desperation, you do what any insane, panic-buying person would do… you head back to aisle 433 to fight over the Ritz crackers…
Some time later, you emerge from the carnage of aisle 433 (The Battle of The Ritz) - battered, bloodied, with a sore ankle where a ninety year old man bashed you with his zimmer frame (prior to you stamping on his toe and poking him in the eye with your remaining lollipop). Before you hobble to the checkout, you must get toilet rolls. However, another battle lies ahead for you. You push your trolley to the correct aisle, only to spot four children having a fight with the toilet rolls. It seems that their Mother left them there whilst she went off looking for some missing milk…
Exhausted from your shopping trip, you check out and leave the supermarket. One final challenge awaits you as you stand there surveying the car park. Where is your car? Three feet of snow fell during your 10 minute shopping expedition, so it’s not obvious. Thankfully, you spot the legs of the trolley collection man…
2009 will be remembered for a lot of events. The inauguration of the first black American President, the death of a pop icon; Michael Jackson, and the worldwide spread of an infectious contagion that originated from a porker… no, not swine flu. SuBo (Susan Boyle).
Not only is it the end of the year, it’s the end of the decade - a period in which the phrase “I’m going to play with my wee (Wii)” became a normal thing to say, rather than something to be immediately sectioned for.
It’s now time to look forward to the new decade and that means the usual new year rituals. So, are you going out with friends, staying in with family, hosting a party, joining a party or burgling the houses of those people who are out celebrating? Here are the options, laid out:
1) Going out with friends
One of the most fun and eventful ways of seeing in the New Year is to go out with friends to a local pub / club / strip bar and have a drink / dance / young, naked woman / man / could be either (depends on how much you pay) dance and sit on your lap. You drink lots, party hard and see the new year in in style. Whoohoo!
For extra fun, have a bet with your friends, at the start of the evening, on which one of you will be the first to pass out with your head over the toilet bowl, with the smell of alcoholic wee wafting up your nose.
2) Staying in with family
As you get older, this becomes the preferred method of seeing in the New Year. Sitting in your lounge with a drink whilst people on the television do the wild partying and celebrating for you. It’s always such a long build-up to midnight, as you sit there sucking on a Werther’s Original or chomping on some of the sweets, mince pies and rotting fruit that are still left over from Christmas Day. Finally, midnight arrives. You hum a rendition of ‘Auld Langsyne’ to yourself, wish your family a happy new year and then, as the fireworks go off around the neighbourhood, you go to bed. New Year celebrations over for another year.
Unfortunately, you forget to switch off your mobile phone and are woken up at 3am by a message from your drunk brother… “Heppy Nu Yar”
3) Hosting a party
So, you’re hosting a party. That means a lot of preparation - you need to ensure there are enough snacks, that you have entertainment and that you move everything that is precious to you… from the house and the surrounding neighbourhood. In fact, it’s probably best to be completely safe and move it all into storage… in the Netherlands.
You purchase a LOT of alcohol and the usual selection of party snacks - crisps, biscuits, sweets, chocolates and those horrid cheesy footballs that no-one ever eats (leaving you to feed them to the foxes the next day… who also reject them). Once the guests have arrived, you spend the entire evening running around making sure everyone is ok. This means that by midnight, you lie exhausted in the corner of the room, asleep, and miss the celebrations. Next morning, you wake up to find your lounge is a mess. The carpet is covered with cheesy footballs and red wine and, as you survey the devastation, you spot Wayne lying slumped over the arm of the sofa with a cocktail straw sticking out of his ear.
4) Joining a party
The New Year house party, without all the cleaning up. Fantastic. You make your way around to your friend’s house to join the party, only to discover that all of the fun people have changed their minds and absconded to the local pub. This leaves you to have a party with all the boring, unsociable people who sit there staring at the carpet all night, unable to decide whether the colour is light brown or beige. Still, at least Alan is there to chat to - the guy who spends every weekend adding to his impressive collection of jam jar labels.
Hey, it’s a party, you need to look at the positives - there’s food and wine. You pick up a wine bottle to fill up a glass and discover that it’s Tesco Value red wine, which tastes of squirrel piss (you should know, you accidentally drank some whilst out camping last year). You reach for a handful of snacks and… it’s those bloody cheesy footballs. Pissed off, you sling them onto the floor, spilling your wine in the process.
Luckily for you, your cheeky idea to post details of the party onto Facebook pays off, and the house quickly fills up with strange people that you don’t know. Things quickly liven up and before you know it, it’s midnight. So, you take another sip of squirrel’s piss, give a snog to the two woman hanging off either arm and then pass out across the arm of the sofa, with a cocktail straw sticking out of your ear.
Getting The Message Out
Whichever choice you make for your New Year celebrations, one thing is for certain. At midnight, you’ll try to wish all your friends and family a “Happy New Year”. You decide that you’re not one of those spoil sports who sends a text message BEFORE midnight, to try and beat the mad midnight rush (is there anything quite so pointless and disappointing as being wished a happy new year before it’s even happened?).
You’re also not someone who actually likes to talk to your friends and family. So, that leaves you with two options:
1) Wish all your friends and family a Happy New Year on Facebook… you miserable sod. Where’s the effort in that?
2) Join the fight for mobile phone network space and attempt to send a standard ‘Happy New Year’ text message to the 443 people in your contact list (no time for personalised text messages). Based on past experience, you have come up with an ingenious plan. You prepare the text message a couple of minutes before midnight, put your finger on the ‘send’ button and hold the phone by your side. Then, at the very second of midnight, you hit send and… “message sending failed.” You then spend the next hour hitting the ‘retry’ button until, at 1.13am, the message goes through. Ok, so that plan didn’t work very well.
Maybe next year you could try sending carrier pigeons instead? That’ll work… as long as everyone else in the world doesn’t send carrier pigeons too. It could get very messy!
However you celebrate the New Year, I wish you a happy one…
“Heppy Nu Yar”
Some people do it in January. Others leave it until much later in the year. No, I’m not talking about the shameful breaking of New Year’s Resolutions. It’s Christmas shopping. You can certainly tell it’s Christmas. The women featured on the covers of men’s magazines are all wearing red thongs… ;)
What is it with Christmas shopping that makes it become such excruciating torture? Never mind about jail sentences for convicts, send them out with a difficult Christmas shopping list on December 24 instead. That’ll sort them out.
Perhaps those traumatic feelings are caused by the way in which the festive season has been taken over by retailers; continually pushing their Christmas offers in our faces from as early in the year as possible. “There are only 242 days of our Christmas sale remaining…”
Your Christmas shopping story…
After beginning your Christmas shopping ordeal expedition, you invariably end up in a shopping centre full of chain stores. You enter a shop and walk around, hoping that something will pop out and hit you in the face, saying “I think I’ll be an ideal present for Auntie Mabel. Buy me!” Whilst browsing the tat on offer, the shop offends your ears with a horrendous selection of cheesy Christmas music to get you in the ‘spirit of things’. However, all it seems to do is irritate you to the point where you want to grab a piece of tinsel and hang the shop manager from the end of it…. “Chipmunks roasting on an open fire…” Bah humbug! You walk out and into another shop, where you encounter a refreshing change: this store is playing non-festive music… “why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?” (that probably has something to do with the box of Trill that I emptied into your back pocket this morning)
1 hour later
Having left it to the last minute (a month before Christmas) to shop for Christmas presents, you find yourself buying items at twice the price that they were three months ago. Sure, the shops have “SALE” plastered all over their windows, but it’s certain that the stuff that you’re interested in isn’t reduced.
We’re in a recession, so you’re looking for a bargain (defined as something no-one really needs at a price you can’t possibly resist) and the shops are quite happy to push all sorts of stuff at you. Being under pressure, you’re considering everything, including the sort of crap that ends up down the charity shops two days after Christmas, or the female pampering packs that are left to rot in the receiver’s bathroom cupboard before being passed back to you three Christmasses later. You can bet your bottom dollar that eBay will be full of that stuff on Boxing Day (so, a great opportunity to shop early for shit presents for next Christmas!).
3 hours later
You’re beginning to lose the will to live - you’ve bought presents for so many people. But you still have to find something for that difficult person who seems to be impossible to buy for. Auntie Mabel - a woman who doesn’t eat chocolate, has a hayfever allergy, changes waist size like a puffer fish watching a horror film and doesn’t have any hobbies, favourite foods… or a bath! To frustrate you further, whilst scouring the shops for a gift for Auntie Mabel, you spot brilliant ideas for those people that you have already bought for!
5 hours later
You enter Poundland for the fifteenth time. Whilst walking around with a bewildered look on your face, a member of staff, wearing a silly Christmas hat, approaches you to try to assist you. “Are you ok, sir? Can I help you at all?”. The guy acts so jolly that you instantly hate him. So, you turn to him and say, “Yes, I’m looking for a present for a 3 foot tall midget with webbed feet and eyes that look in different directions. Can you suggest anything?….. hello?”
6 hours later
After another hour of looking, you’re now dribbling profusely and leaning to one side with only one eye left open. Then - miracle - you spot that there’s £10 off a George Foreman grill. Perfect. Afterall, it’s been a while since Auntie Mabel had a Lean Mean Machine in her house…
You snatch the box off the shelf with both hands, causing a stack of other grill boxes to avalanche down onto the elderly couple standing to your left. Your focus remains intact as you turn around to search for the checkout. You spot the checkout far away in the distance and, inevitably, there is a queue. It’s not a small queue either - the line of people snakes around every aisle, from one end of the store to the other. So much so that whilst your eyes follow the line, your head rotates 360 degrees around your neck.
After three months of walking, you locate the end of the queue and join it. Infront of you is a little old lady and, after joining the line, a group of teenagers join the queue behind you. Standing there, promising yourself that you won’t leave it so late to do your shopping next year, you get battered from all sides by wafts of pungent smells. First, the little old lady’s perfume, ‘Musty Barn’, enters your nostrils, hammering on your sinuses like a woodpecker on a tree. Then, as your headache builds, you get hit from the back by the stench of teenage deodorant. The so-called ‘Lynx effect’, presumably because it sinks its teeth into your neck area and suffocates the life out of you. Why is it that teenagers feel that spraying an entire can of deodorant on to themselves makes them extra attractive to young ladies? Yes, they probably do seem attractive; if the girl in question is wearing a gas mask or has a heavy cold.
Thankfully for you, standing in the line, all that practice in your bath at home has paid dividends. Not only are you the world record holder for holding your breath underwater, but it means that you are able to survive the nasal bombardment.
7 hours later
Having bought your item, you stagger out of the store, navigating your way through the Christmas clowns, stilt walkers, jugglers, thieves, murderers and men in tight shorts (yes, there’s always one, even in winter). Then you spot one of those ‘wrap for charity’ stalls, where, for a small donation to charity, a little kid will wrap your present for you. You decide that it’s worth a pound of your money to get them to wrap the present that you bought for your Great Grandmother earlier. So over you trundle. “Hello, can you wrap a present for me, please?” you ask. “Yes, sure, where is it?” he replies, with a polite smile. He isn’t smiling for long, as you open your shopping bag and reveal a giant cactus…
8 hours later
Exhausted, you head off home and find yourself summing things up with a Churchillian line: “Never, in the world of shopping, has so much effort been given by someone, for so little!”
Christmas shopping can be horrendous. It should come with a public health warning and a free shot of valium. Perhaps the answer is to get pissed on mulled wine beforehand? Just don’t throw up in Poundland… (would it cost you a pound if you did?)
Google’s Autocomplete service has provided some fun and quirky suggestions since Google fully launched the service back in 2008. For those who don’t know what Google Autocomplete is: when you start typing words into the Google search engine, Google provides a list of possible suggestions to complete your query. I tried a few searches today, using google.co.uk, and here are some screenshots of the funny results…
Today’s health and safety tip…
I’ve been wondering a lot about this lately…
Well, it’s a good question. There’s something else I really need to know…
Whilst I’m on the subject…
I’m desperate for the toilet, but my friend’s flat has triple velvet toilet paper…
I know 3 people called Paul… now, that’s what I call choice!
Hang on, what’s this little round sweet I’ve just found? There’s a note with it…
I really love my cat. But he has a very unusual appearance…
Listen, I’ve got a friend who is vertically challenged. We are planning a late night burglery, so I really want to know…
Enough of this nonsense. It’s time we asked some important questions. As someone who uses Facebook, I feel I must find out…
That seems rather harsh! I’m also a fan of Twitter…
Well, I’m not sure which of those applies to me… ah, yes, all of them.
Let’s finish off with a comparison. I know a lot of American and British people. So, Google…
So, what causes these spurious suggestions to appear when you type a search into Google? Well, it’s all down to their algorithms finding these phrases in pages throughout the Internet. That’s right, somewhere on the Internet the phrase “I want to do a poo at Paul’s” has been mentioned a large number of times.
What I am now wondering is whether a new phrase could be added to Google Autocomplete if it is mentioned enough times. Shall I start a campaign for people to add the phrase “I want to lick Barack Obama’s armpit” into their blogs and web pages?
Is Social Networking Breeding a New Culture Of Self-importance?
So, you’ve got 200 Facebook friends and 20 Twitter followers. You feel important - right up there, in celebrity status, alongside Tom Cruise, Pope Benedict XVI and… Susan Boyle. People seem to want to follow your every move - and you oblige by telling them when you eat breakfast, visit the toilet and wash your best pair of pants.
Then, one day, you go through your friends list and it hits you - 195 of your 200 Facebook friends are actually made up of the following:
1) Former classmates from school (who you didn’t really know because you were busy studying in the library or hiding in the janitor’s cupboard whilst they were fighting, smoking and having teenage sex behind the lockers)
2) Old work colleagues (who regularly taunted you for your unusual dress sense and over-large nose).
3) People you met once at a social occasion, but never really spoke to. You just remember their name and the fact that they like bird watching.
4) People who mistake you for someone else (well, you did put a picture of Scooby Doo as your profile photo) and then can’t be bothered to remove you when they realise you’re not who they thought you were.
Despite discovering all this, you still find yourself needing to log on to Facebook and Twitter at every available opportunity to check whether someone has written on your wall (technically, graffiti), posted a follow-up to your comment, or to see if someone has re-tweeted your earlier 140 character creation of genius. Later that day, your only real friend goes through your Twitter followers list and breaks some extra bad news to you: 18 of your 20 Twitter followers are actually just porn pedlars.
The Lives Of The Self-Important
So, why do social networking websites make people think that they must share everything with the world? Perhaps it is down to the questions that they ask: “what are you doing?” or “what’s happening?” (Twitter) or “what’s on your mind?” (Facebook). It’s a dream come true for people with over-inflated egos.
I’m amazed when people tweet that they’re sitting in traffic on the motorway, washing their hair or about to go out and buy a new pair of knickers. Now, if they were about to meet Pope Benedict XVI (or Susan Boyle, I don’t mind which) and present him (or her) with the fore-mentioned pair of knickers, I would be interested (and would probably even re-tweet it to my own tens of ‘interested’ followers). For me, these people put the “twit” into Twitter.
When out in public, the behaviour of the self-important is extraordinary to watch. I observed one such person on Friday night. I was in a busy cocktail bar and as it got towards the end of the night, I glanced to the side of the room to observe a rather inebriated man sit down at a computer screen and log in to Facebook. You could tell he was drunk - it was a real struggle for him to locate and type each letter of his username and password. If that wasn’t a complete giveaway to his drunken state, his next action certainly was, as he got up shouted out “I’ve got my lasagne” and then proceeded to pull a small plastic bag out of his pocket (containing said lasagne) and whirl it round and round his head in celebration…
Now then, at that point I could have considered it to be a monumental moment worth sharing with the Internet world, taken out my iPhone and tweeted ‘just stood in a cocktail bar and watched a man whirl lasagne around his head". Did I? No… damn, why didn’t I?
To conclude this rant, an idea: Perhaps Twitter should change its initial question to say: “so, what makes you think you’re so bloody interesting today?”
Maybe someone should also start a list of ‘self-important people’ (not to be confused with ‘self impotent’ people - that’s a different blog post altogether), gather them all in the same place, with their computers and mobile phones, and see what happens. Forget the Hadron Collider and the Maya 2012 predictions - this idea could really cause the destruction of mankind!
Can I have a ‘p’ please Bob? No, you bloody can’t, Bill, you’ll just have to wait for the interval. Monday night wasn’t Blockbusters for the over 70s, it was Quiz night at a traditional old pub in Hastings Old Town.
I joined a team of regulars to do brainiac battle, in what turned out to be a rather competitive and controversial contest of knowledge and wisdom. Just to clarify the difference between the two - knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting one in a fruit salad. Got it? Good.
After sitting down with my new team mates, I was handed a piece of paper and a pencil. This, I was told, was not for me to draw funny caricatures of my team mates, but to use to write down my answer to each question, before showing it to the team captain. The idea was that it stopped us from all shouting, at the same time, "I know the answer, it’s errrrr, what’s his name, you know, the guy with the funny limp and the glass eye" or blurting out the answer in earshot of the other teams. I did attempt to use the ‘accidental blurting out of the answer’ as a tactic to put off the other teams, but they saw straight through my “it’s a seagull” answer to the question “what bird is traditionally used by Asian fisherman to help catch fish?”
The quiz lasted eight rounds, each consisting of six questions. Eight multiplied by six, that’s…. err…. nearly a thousand questions. Wow, it went fast. The rounds ranged from the usual ‘general knowledge’, ‘sport’ and ‘geography’ to ‘murder’ and ‘initials’. I had hoped that the ‘murder’ round might have been the perfect opportunity to bump off some of the other teams, but, alas, they spoiled my fun by reading out questions instead. I have to say that none of the rounds were really in my specialist field of knowledge. But then I guess I shouldn’t expect quizzes to have rounds like ‘famous tiddlywinks champions of the 90s’, ‘fruits beginning with the letter q’ and ‘indoor decorating for eskimos’.
A short way into the quiz, it become apparent that I was about as much use (to our team) as chopsticks in a soup kitchen. The other team members - serial quiz buffs - were doing very well without me. It didn’t help that all the questions seemed to be about the two billion years leading UP to the 1980s. It’s not that I didn’t know some of the answers. For example, I knew that the acronym NATO stands for the ‘National Association of Transexual Organists.’ It’s just that the other team members knew the answers already - damn them to hell!
To give you an idea of my quiz prowess - the last time I took part in a pub quiz was about five years ago and we relied heavily on a great new tool called WAP (Internet on your phone). Some of our team members sat drinking beer and looking down under the table. Others sat drinking beer and then took regular toilet breaks. We must have seemed like a load of depressed alcoholics with bladder problems. The reason for the ‘depressed look’ was that our ‘WAP’ members were madly typing into their mobile phones under the table, trying to get answers from Yahoo! The pub owners were gobsmacked at how a bunch of drunk twenty-somethings managed to win the contest several weeks in a row. In this week’s quiz, however, we had a much more useful tool than WAP - his name was John (his surname may well have been ‘Wap’ - I didn’t ask!)
Going back further in time, like Doctor Who on an episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?'… in the first pub quiz I ever attended, we didn’t take things very seriously at all. If we didn’t know the answer, we simply entered something ridiculous. In fact, I recall one quiz night where we entered nearly every answer as Danny La Rue (the drag act). This got a few murmurs of hilarity from the other teams throughout the evening, so it was worth the little effort involved.
So, how did we get on last night?
Well, there was a moment of controversy that lost us the contest. The question “name the longest river in England?” had our team wondering which of two answers to go with. Without boring you too much, there is the River Severn, which is the longest river, but it flows partly through Wales. On the other hand, the longest river to flow entirely through England is the Thames. So, we went with Thames (but also added that if it included Wales, it was the Severn)… and the answer given was Severn. Now then, try a Google search and it leads you to several pages that tell you that Thames is the correct answer. In actual fact, we were 100% correct with the answer we wrote, as this article proves.
Despite much protest from our team, and much more protest (leading to hatred and utterances of an unpleasant nature) from one particular team member, the Quiz Master stood his ground, like a fat man at the dessert trolley, and wouldn’t give us the point. We ended up losing by that single point. If only we were able to obtain proof that we were correct. This got me thinking, in my own mischievous way…
With the power of Wikipedia being all about human editing, how easy would it be to look something up on your mobile phone, change the information for that entry, then present it to the Quiz Master and say, with an honest face, “look, look… this says that I’m right?” I found a good example of that just the other day, in fact. Someone had altered Wikipedia’s entry for Lumber to include the words genitalia and penis (see screenshot below). To be honest, I can’t see a question about that coming up in a quiz contest anytime soon.
Anyway, to sum up: We lost by a point and by the end of the night my piece of paper was as blank as a Blankety Blank cheque book (and pen)…