- 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.
- A big, hairy man with tattoos on his knuckles; spelling out the words 'bad ass muva'.
- A tourettes sufferer.
- An Abba tribute band. It might consist of them walking up and down my back for an hour singing the greatest hits of Abba. Painful - too painful!
- A time machine. Your bread will disappear for twenty minutes, only to re-appear looking exactly the same as it went in.
- A cremation furnace. You pop your bread in and, 10 seconds later, a pile of ash falls out onto the tray (the ash may or may not resemble the face of someone famous from history... possibly someone who was cremated)
- 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)
- mis-spelled words
- txt speak... E.G: "b4 u go out l8r dont 4get 2 put ur shoes on"
- words that have been changed by the 'predictive text' on the sender's phone
- I forgot my Columbo jacket and cigar.
- I drew a highly accurate portrait of the body and took very neat notes of the letter that was held in the victim's hand (more on that in a minute).
- I spotted a lady scribbling at speed next to me (to the point where she almost burnt through the paper and set off the fire alarms). She had, throughout the evening, written a WHOLE PAD of notes. So, it seemed foolhardy for me to resist the temptation to snatch the pad off her and read her clue list. That was a BIG mistake, as I almost became the third murder victim of the evening. Little did I realise that Little Miss Scribble had arms like Mr Tickle, as she wrapped them around my neck several times and began a long, slow, painful asphyxiation. I reached half way down the first page before things started to go slightly blurry, as she exclaimed "give it back.... GIVE IT BACK!!!!!"
- Which womble would you be?
- What is your favourite allergy?
- Do you believe in hate at first sight?
- Have you ever pollenated a tomato plant using an electric toothbrush?
- What's in your freezer? (an exciting variation on the 'what's in your fridge' question from last time and an opportunity to catch out the psychopaths)
- Do you like my electronic tag - it's even got pretty, flashing lights on it…?
- So, what is your stance on cannibalism?
- Would you date a guy who lived in a tent?
- Why don't sheep shrink in the rain?
- Has anyone ever told you that you look like Bill Cosby? (no, I obviously wasn't intending to use that one)
- 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).
- 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.
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…
Having had fun with origami money boats two days ago, today I took the opportunity to jump into a boat of my own. Thankfully this particular boat was not crafted out of paper, which I think is a fairly good thing when you’re cruising across a crocodile-infested lagoon. I haven’t studied crocodiles a lot (I can’t bloody find one for a start - they’re clearly afraid of cameras), but I suspect that if I stood in front of Mr Croc whilst holding a beautifully crafted paper swan, he wouldn’t be admiring the quality of my paper folding.
We had booked in for a one hour Jungle Tour as a group of four people; Christian, Sarah, Christine and myself. Arriving at dockside in the late afternoon, our first task was to read and sign their disclaimer form. It was the usual arrangement; in the event of death as a result of turning the boat over, hitting a tree or being eaten by a crocodile they lay claim to your house, children and priceless collection of Justin Bieber memorabilia.
I must point out that it was only after initially signing their disclaimer form that we were given our safety equipment. There appeared to be good reason for this, as having donned my life jacket I felt about as safe as a man walking into a cage of hungry lions dressed as a pork chop. I can only presume that the purpose of our life jackets was to make us slightly more chewy when being masticated by a crocodile. The safety equipment in our boats wasn’t much better, consisting mostly of four inflatable plastic tampons attached to the boat sides as buoyancy, two of which had more holes than a colander.
Having inspected the ‘safety equipment,’ we were introduced to our guide Martinez. Now, its very important I get his name right as he did say to us that if we enjoyed ourselves we should make sure “not to forget” him. I realise that in some parts of the world this can be a hint to leave a big tip. But I got the impression that on this occasion he just felt unloved, the poor guy.
So let me introduce our guide Manuel to you - approximately 5ft 6 tall, 41 years old, Mexican, dark hair, fat, with a medium-sized moustache, Gemini with a hairy back and mild halitosis.
Before we jumped in our speed boats, we were taken through the in-depth safety briefing and important safety signals. Being in Mexico, we were unsurprised by the amount of thought and effort they’d put into their set of safety signals; one arm in the air moving up and down for ‘slow down’, a lasso motion for ‘speed up’, two arms waving in the air for us to signal “help!!!!” and one arm in the air with ‘v for victory’ sign for “I’ve just successfully thrown my passenger out of the boat and she’s currently having her leg chewed off by a large croc.”
After our 10 second safety briefing, we clambered into our boats. I was with Christine - approximately 5ft 3, American, brown and purple hair, slim, slight moustache and with a mild kamikaze attitude. She didn’t ask me “not to forget” her - God, I only wish I could - I’m just getting into the swing of describing people.
We set off at speed - our guide Mauricio in the lead boat, Christine and I in the second boat and Christian and Sarah in the third. And when I say “set off at speed,” I mean just that. Our guide Malcolm sped off into the distance like he was late for his appointment at the local whore house. Perhaps if I’d seen more of him during the trip, rather than just as a speck in the distance, remembering him wouldn’t be such a problem. We stuck the throttle fully down and set off after him. I tried my very best to be as unsafe as possible with some kamikaze steering in order to cut the distance to our guide and generally increase the risk of Christine losing her Justin Bieber collection.
Now, at the very beginning of this story you may remember that I said that we were on the ‘Jungle Tour.’ In all honesty they might as well have called it the Tour De France, such was the amount of actual jungle in the ‘Jungle Tour.’ It was only after about 25 minutes of wave jumping, salt-water-in-the-face, mental driving that we actually reached anything that could be described as ‘jungle.’ A row of trees on either side of a winding strip of water and a single stork bird standing to attention like a guard at the entrance. The stork - approximately 2.7ft tall, slim, thin legs, Capricorn, bipolar - seemed quite happy to stand in the crocodile-infested water and watch us sail on by. I suspect there was a reason why there was only one stork - his friends had been eaten by crocodiles, with their legs used as post-meal cocktail sticks.
Having made our way through the (3.4) trees, we were now approaching half way. There was just time to drive slowly past an area with adults and children swimming (which we nicknamed the crocodile ‘cafeteria’) and a bridge with people on it, all staring down at us wondering what we were doing. I’m pretty sure that some of them had never seen a boat before, such was their reaction. Perhaps the bridge wasn’t connected to any land. They certainly looked miserable, so I stood up and gave them a big two-handed wave to try to cheer them up. Just as I did so, our guide Matthew screeched to a halt, executed a very swift 180 degree turn and began speeding back towards us. It became apparent that, in my over-exuberance to wave at the miserable bastards on the bridge, I had inadvertently given the ‘SOS, emergency, holy shit! Help!!’ signal. Oops!
After apologising for the ‘SOS’ incident, we sped on to the half way point. It was now time to turn around and head home, traveling back past the ‘cafeteria’, underneath the bridge (remembering not to wave), past the pile of stork bones and back across the second section of the lagoon. We did so with no more incidents, mostly thanks to some more sensible piloting by Captain Christine.
Arriving back at the dock we clambered off the boats. It had been a really fun trip - one that would live long in the memory, along with our guide… errr… Bill. No, shit… what was it?
Having finished our Jungle Tour, I felt it timely that I re-assured our guide Margaret that I would remember him for eternity (someone needed to boost his self-esteem, the poor bloke). I took his photo and told him that I would frame it and hang it on my lounge wall. As he stood with his hands out, palms facing the heavens, and staring at me with sad looking eyes, I felt for him. I ran towards him and embraced him with a big squeezy hug - one that would provide him with enough love to last a very long time. As I stood back and stared into his (now rather shocked looking) eyes, I could tell he appreciated the gesture. In fact, he continued standing there in the same position with the same expression for a very long time as we strolled away…
The morning of my hot stone massage arrived. Having awoken late, and with the massage due to start at 11am, I thought it best not to go overboard with breakfast. One full English breakfast, a mound of toast and fifteen pastries later, I was questioning whether I’d overdone it, as the waiter wheeled me out of the restaurant in a wheelbarrow. I was soon to find out - my massage was due to begin in 30 minutes.
Arriving in the massage suite, I was greeted by a cheerful lady receptionist - a change from the man that was managing the place two days earlier. The lady handed me a disclaimer form - exactly the same one as I had filled out two days previous. I was able to re-assure her that my name was exactly as it was then and that my gender was also the same - I hadn’t had a sex change during those two days in between. Perhaps she had though - maybe this lady had been a man two days ago. I didn’t feel it was fitting to ask. I signed the form and placed it back into her hands - her big, hairy hands…
After completing the paperwork, I was led into the massage room and was, as last time, instructed to remove my outer layers and lay on the couch, covering myself over with the large brown towel. I did so, placing my suit of armour, sword and helmet on the appropriate wall hooks, and waiting for my masseuse to re-enter. She crept back into the room quietly, as if she was the tooth fairy coming in to remove a small pearly white from under my pillow and replace it with a large, silver coin.
As I was laying face down on the couch, with my head looking through the headrest at the floor, I could hear the sound of my masseuse heating up water in the background. I wondered whether she was making herself a Pot Noodle.
Now, thinking about food was probably not the best idea at that particular moment, laying on my full stomach. My regret for consuming that extra piece of toast (the one with the face resembling Lady Gaga) was growing by the minute. I checked out the masseuse’s shoes to decide whether they were expensive and would be ruined if I lost control and covered them in a full English breakfast (and fifteen pastries). I felt relieved - they looked cheap. Cheap and tacky, in fact. She clearly hadn’t made an effort…
And, then, suddenly, my back was on fire…
Wow, that’s hot. No wonder it’s called the ‘hot stone massage.'
My masseuse rubbed the oily, hot stones up and down my back in sweeping motions, before placing a stone near the bottom of my back. In the back of my mind, I feared that the stone might actually burn its way through my stomach. I had visions that I might be walking back to my room resembling a Polo mint.
The massage was relaxing - very relaxing - and I began to drift off, listening to the sound of Enya’s voice. Then, abruptly, the music stopped - mid-song. Enya had been cut off in her prime. She wouldn’t be too happy about that, I’m sure. The sound of silence remained for a few seconds, only to be broken by the noise of a frustrated man giving the music machine a good kicking out in the reception area. The guy clearly needed to chill and relax - perhaps a hot stone massage might help him? A minute or so later, the music resumed.
After my masseuse had finished on my back, I turned over. We were half way through and I was feeling very relaxed. So relaxed that even the sound of someone dragging a vacuum cleaner around in reception (perhaps vacuuming up pieces of music machine) hardly affected me much at all.
As she worked on my stiff legs, I could feel my leg muscles loosen. I can wholeheartedly recommend that if you’ve had a hard day playing sport, you place a couple of rocks into the microwave and massage them over your legs with some oil. Obviously, I’m joking about that - it’s dangerous to put rocks in the microwave. Put them in the toaster instead…
With the leg work over, my masseuse glided smoothly around the massage table and began working on my fingers; pulling each one. My mischievous side thought about letting out an enormous fart as she pulled my index finger. But, I just didn’t have it in me. Well, I did have it in me - eggs and sausages saw to that - I just didn’t want to spoil the atmosphere, so to speak.
After finishing with my arms and hands, my masseuse began prodding my stomach. Now, I don’t quite know what the point of it was, but I think she managed to find two sausages and two rashes of bacon. She was clearly a keen breakfast detective and was sniffing the scent of a major food crime. After the stomach prod, she moved on to my face. She added two small, warm stones onto my eyes. As she did this, a feeling of contentment washed over me. I was half way to achieving my life-long ambition to be a snowman. All I needed now was the carrot nose…
Fifteen minutes passed and we were in the latter stages of the massage. Throughout, she had been placing strategic pebbles on various points of my body (no, not on that one, before you ask. Cheeky!), By the end of my 80 minutes, I was beginning to resemble a pebbly beach. An oily, pebbly beach. I didn’t get the chance to dwell on how it felt to be a beach for too long before she began removing the stones. It was obviously time to start wrapping things up. Quite literally, in fact, as she wrapped a towel around my head.
After removing all of the pebbles from the various parts of my anatomy, my masseuse whispered to me that my massage was over and that I should take my time in getting up and getting dressed. I did just that - slowly sitting up and putting my suit of armour back on. I then checked under the pillow to find no large shiny coin. She wasn’t the tooth fairy after all. Damn her for lulling me into a false sense of security on that one. Still, I felt slightly contented that it could have been worse - whilst I was laying with the towel around my head, she could have stolen the money from my wallet and replaced it with a load of teeth…
With my clothes back on, and feeling suitably relaxed, I took one final glance around the room and spotted the equipment she had been using to heat the rocks. Silly me, she hadn’t been using a microwave at all, or a toaster… it was a Tefal Steamer!
Yabba dabba doo…
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 have been on holiday in Mexico for over a week now, and the rigorous sessions of ping pong have been taking their toll. When you’re representing your country against Americans, Mexicans, Koreans and a short, Spanish kid with big teeth and over-hairy eyebrows, you have to work through the pain barrier. That doesn’t mean to say that you don’t suffer the next day. And, wow, was I suffering. I felt stiffer than a corpse’s pencil. I don’t know why a corpse would have a pencil, but let’s just go with it. Perhaps he was a writer?
Yesterday morning, I decided that some relaxation was in order. I booked myself in for a Swedish massage…
Now, I will be honest. Leading up to the massage, I had my fears - the main one being that my relaxing massage would be given by one of the following:
I’m pleased to say that two of my fears were immediately allayed when I arrived at the massage suite. A quick look around re-assured me that there were no hairy masseuses and no people dressed in blonde wigs and 1970s retro gear.
I paid the receptionist some money and was handed a disclaimer form. I had to confirm that my death as a result of excess pain, suffocation with a towel or drowning in oil was at my choosing. After signing my name on the death sentence, I was taken into a little room by a small Mexican lady with smooth hands and a softly spoken voice. I felt like I would be taken care of - and not in a James Bond evil villain kind-of-way. I didn’t feel the need to check to see if she had a venom-laced blade in her shoe, or a knife-wielding dwarf in the cupboard. I felt safe.
After a short chat about oils, my masseuse advised me that she would leave the room for a minute to give me time to take off my clothes, do a little naked dance around the room (she didn’t actually mention that bit, I added it in for my own pleasure) and settle myself on to the couch, covering myself up with the towel. I hid myself well under that large towel. My inner child was hoping that she would walk back in, look around the room in a confused manner and say “Mr Hazell…? Where have you gone?”
She found me. Drat!
With everything in place, it was time to begin. The relaxing music started playing - it was Enya. I have to say that when it comes to background music, Enya is to massage what smooth jazz is to soft core pornography. It just sets the mood. It helps you drift off into another world; a better world where Abba doesn’t exist and death from towel suffocation is impossible.
The masseuse started on my feet. Now, I feel the need, at this point, to confess that I am slightly ticklish. So, I’m sure you can imagine the problem here. To stop myself from bursting out in fits of giggles, I desperately tried to take my mind off the sensations occurring in my tootsies…
‘Think of something non-ticklish, think of something non-ticklish…. feathers…. Bastard, I really hate my mind sometimes…'
Mercifully, the work on my feet lasted only a minute or so, and she began to work her way up my body. After massaging my back for a while, she whispered softly in my ear to turn over. We were half-way through already. I slowly wiped the dribble off my chin and turned myself over, like a beached whale trying to roll back towards the sea (but with less blubber). She moved some towels around a bit, and then placed one around my head. I reassured myself that although I had moved one step closer to suffocation, it was still fairly unlikely.
I settled onto my back, started to relax and was gently drifting off and then… ‘Oooooh no, not the feet again. Think of something non-ticklish, think of something non-ticklish…. feather duster… for Christ’s sake!!'
Again, thankfully, the torture was short-lived, as she put my feet down and moved on to my legs.
I must confess that from there onwards, I don’t remember an enormous amount. My mind drifted and my body relaxed, as Enya warbled gently in my ear.
And then that moment came. It was over, and it was time for me to depart. “Mr Hazell,” she said, “it’s time for me to finish now. If you would just like to take some time for yourself before dressing and meeting me outside.”
I wondered to myself, ‘how much time can I legitimately take? Would 7 hours seem excessive?’ I then raised myself from the couch, with a towel still wrapped roughly around my head, and prepared to get myself dressed. Now was definitely not the time to do another silly, naked dance around the room. It would be inappropriate. Oh, sod it…
I strolled out to meet my masseuse - walking a little bit like a spaceman who had just landed on the moon. She offered me some cold tea (it was supposed to be cold, they weren’t just lazy with their tea making) and I accepted. I then turned to her and said… “thank you for the massage… the words I’m singing. Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing. Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty?”
I have to say that I really enjoyed my massage. So much so, that, after looking through the list of other massages available, I’ve been tempted into trying another. My next massage is booked for tomorrow. The 80 minute Hot Stones Massage. Just leave my bloody feet alone!!
The hotel breakfast experience can be an uncomfortable, tense affair - especially if you’re in a foreign country. Does this story ring true with you?
Bleary eyed, wearing your shirt back to front, and with your hair looking like you were assaulted by a troop of wig-stealing monkeys on your way in, you fumble your way through the door of the hotel’s breakfast room. It’s a buffet breakfast; all you can bloat. You chuckle to yourself as you imagine the fat American man you bumped into yesterday (the one with the enormous boobs) jumping up and down with joy at the potential calories on offer. Let’s hope he’s wearing his sports bra…
As the Maitre d' greets you by the door, it becomes obvious that he speaks no English. So, you try to hint that you want a table for one without inadvertently giving him ‘the bird.’
Following a period of mis-communication, during which you seriously considered punching the Maitre d' in the face, as he stood between your hungry stomach and the eggs and bacon, he sits you down at a table of his choice. Frustratingly, he’s chosen the table furthest away from the buffet, meaning that you have to undertake a small marathon to reach the food. The realisation passes through your mind that you will probably burn off more calories getting to and from the buffet area than are actually contained within the food. Oh, why can’t they supply golf carts?
The waiter walks over. He, at least, speaks a little more English…
Waiter: “Tea? Coffeeeee?” You: “What… err, tea… yes, I’ll have tea. Thank you”
Then comes the list…
Waiter: “What tea you like? Engresh breekfast, caamomile, greeen tea, mint tea, eeerl grey…?” You: “Err, I don’t know. Tea. Just tea. I don’t want help sleeping, I don’t have prostate issues… ordinary tea!” Waiter: “Ah, ok………… juice, what juice you like?”
Finally, the waiter leaves… he’s gone to get your strawberry tea and asparagus and wheatgrass juice (you won’t have a problem with constipation today, that’s for sure!). As you sit at your table, staring blankly into the distance, your eyes focus for a brief second on a woman struggling back to her table, supporting an enormous mound of breakfast goodies with both arms. Her head is tilted to the side of her plate to see where she is going. Forget the golf carts, how about a forklift truck?
Now slumped over your table, struggling to wake yourself, you glance at your watch. It’s 10.29am. Breakfast finishes at 10.30am, so there’s little time to loose. You’re going to have to act like a contestant on the television gameshow, Supermarket Sweep - without the bright, very gay clothing and without the over-exaggerated enthusiasm. It’s too early for that. You jump up from your table, like a startled deer. Well, ok, more like a wounded wildebeest…
As you reach the food area, panting from your exhaustive journey, you notice several groups of people wandering around with their heads down and arms out, reminiscent of extras from an episode of the Walking Dead. It’s the hangover crowd. You decide it’s best to stay away from them incase they walk into you or, worse, projectile vomit over your shoulder as you inspect the pastries and cakes.
It’s time to make your first big decision: how to begin the breakfast debauchery? Being that it’s the morning, you really don’t want to have a guilt trip for the rest of the day about what you’ve eaten at breakfast. So, the best option is to start with something healthy; fruit. You pick up a piece of melon with your spoon and carefully place it on your plate… that’ll do. It’s amazing how this one piece of fruit, measuring approximately a square centimetre, can change your perspective and make you feel so much better about the mound of unhealthy eggs, bacon, sausages, toast, pastries and cakes that will inevitably follow. Afterall, your breakfast won’t have been all unhealthy, right?
And, let’s be honest, you are “health conscious.” Yesterday, you walked all the way up the hotel stairs to your room on the ninth floor… having taken the lift to the eighth floor first.
After devouring your fruit in three seconds, it’s time to move on to the cooked breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes and a mountain of toast. That brings us to one of the trickiest parts of the buffet breakfast…
Arriving at the toaster section, you’re confronted by a crowd of people with very perplexed faces, clutching pieces of bread. And they have every right to feel perplexed, for hotel toasters are always so incredibly over-complicated, with their vast array of buttons, dials and knobs (where-ever there’s a toaster, there’s always knobs). Moreover, the toasters always resemble torture devices with their mish-mash of metal spokes, prongs and cages. And why is there always one piece of ‘forgotten toast’ sitting on the exit tray; cold, getting in the way, but still optimistic of achieving fulfilment underneath a blanket of warm honey. It’s always perfectly toasted too - a miracle, in toasting terms. You can guarantee that your toast won’t turn out looking that good. ‘Hmm, you could just… no, it’s cold. Urgh.'
Having fought through the crowd, claiming to be the biggest toaster expert in the world, the torture device is finally revealed to you. Now, there’s an inevitability that the toaster will be one of two things:
Arriving back at your table with your mound of food, the waiter kindly presents you with a teapot of strawberry tea and a glass of asparagus and wheatgrass juice. Now, getting the tea from the little teapot into your cup should be easy. But, no, he’s given you the one teapot in the world with the dodgy lid and leaky spout. Consequently, when you go to pour it, the tea goes everywhere… everywhere except the cup, which remains as dry as an Arab’s flip flop. Seeing you in some distress, but clearly not understanding the gravitas of the situation, the waiter brings you a napkin. A single bloody napkin!
Although frustrated, part of you remains grateful that you’re not on board a boat with him. For, if it was to start taking on water he’d probably hand you a thimble to bail with…
At exactly 10.30am, events suddenly liven up. The lights in the buffet area are switched off, one by one. Breakfast is over… but the fight has only just begun. A mad scramble ensues, reminiscent of feeding time at the zoo. It’s a battle of wits between staff (starting to take things away) and people trying to desperately grab extra food for their breakfast. Everywhere you look, there’s chaos. Well, I say ‘everywhere’ - the fruit section remains incredibly peaceful.
You finish your breakfast and leave the restaurant. It’s all over. Behind you is a scene of carnage; bits of half-eaten food everywhere and tea-soaked table cloths as far as the eye can see. Although you arrived late, you feel contented that you aren’t the last to leave. That prize goes to a plump, married couple. There’s something not quite right though… the man has a strange muffin-shaped mound in his t-shirt and his wife is dragging a heavy handbag along the floor behind her. Forget the forklift truck - how about an articulated lorry?
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… ;)
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? ;-)
I realise that I normally write humorous articles. But, for once, I’m going to go against the grain and write a personal story - an account of my long journey home for Christmas. Unless you’ve had your head stuck up Rudolph’s bottom, you’ll know all about the severe cold weather that has hit Europe over the last week.
On Tuesday morning, I arrived back from a week-long trip to Sofia, Bulgaria. I had originally booked to fly back last Saturday. However, on Saturday morning the skies over the UK airports opened and dropped what can only be described as a “shit load of the white stuff”. The whole of the South East of England looked like a scene from the movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. Airport chaos followed, with runways closed and flights cancelled on a mass scale. I spent the next two days wondering whether I’d be home in time for Christmas. Thankfully, I found and booked a flight back to a different London airport, and so began 15 hours of travelling in an experience that contained both frustration and exhilaration.
So, why exhilaration? Well, the trip truly made me realise that when people face a common goal or a common enemy, they really can come together to face it as one. My 15 hour trip took in 1 taxi, 1 plane, 2 trains, 2 coaches and an automobile. But, more importantly than those statistics, it allowed me to meet and talk to other people, all of whom had the same goal - to get back to their families in time for Christmas.
First was Frank, who I met on the Bulgarian Airways flight to London Heathrow and who was, coincidentally, scheduled to fly home to London Gatwick on the same two flights as me that were previously cancelled. Throughout the four hour flight, we chatted non-stop, almost in relief at being with someone in a similar predicament. It turned a frustrating, slow flight into an interesting one as we chatted about our time spent in Bulgaria and our funny experiences of Bulgarian people (more on that in my next blog post). Our mini-friendship continued once we arrived at the airport, as we collected our luggage together and found our way onto the train network. It was at that point that I bid him goodbye and we set off separately on the next stage of our journeys.
After leaving the train, I made my way to the coach terminal. It was there that I began chatting to a young lady who was waiting for a coach to Reading. She was very calm about all the delays and the horrendous weather outside, choosing to sit quietly on the freezing cold seats and read her book. A pair of pink and white socks adorned the handle of her suitcase. I sat there with my coffee and sandwich and stared up at the departures board. The words “Delayed - wait in lounge” were splashed all over the television screens. At one point, there were 7 coaches due to arrive to take people to my next destination, Gatwick Airport, all of which were delayed.
Eventually, 3 coaches arrived (typical of the phrase about waiting for buses and three coming along at once). After a session of ‘musical buses’ in which we were moved between several different coaches, we finally left. During the journey, I got talking to a Scottish man named Simon. He had flown back from Kazakhstan and was 17 hours into his trip - that easily beat my 12 hours. His final destination was Aberdeen and he was hoping to stay overnight at Gatwick Airport before flying up to Scotland the next day. He was perfectly calm about it all - refreshingly different from a few other people who had lost their temper during the boarding process.
As we set off down the motorway, it began to snow very heavily. Quite how the young coach driver stayed on the road was beyond me, but all the passengers on the coach were hushed and you could cut the tension with a knife. In all honesty, our coach driver deserved a medal for getting us to our destination, and I duly thanked him afterwards and gave him some money to buy himself a pint when he got home. He certainly was a hero in a crisis.
Once at Gatwick Airport, it was time to run for the train, as I said goodbye to Simon. Well, I say that. I said goodbye to him, ran off the coach, grabbed my luggage and then sprinted for the lift. I then ran through several corridors, following the signs for the trains. After about 3 minutes, I was running along another corridor and the door from the stairs opened… it was Simon. He had calmly made his way from the coach and yet had managed to get ahead of me, despite my desperate running. Bloody typical. I ran past him, half tempted to call out the words “you bastard…”
Out of breath from running and dragging my suitcase, I made it to the platform in time for the train and I began to feel more confident about getting home. I sat down on the train, opposite a Spanish girl. During the next 15 minutes, I noticed her repeatedly look at her phone to read her text messages, before letting off a sigh or giggle. I felt obliged to converse with her. It turned out that she was on the other end of the travelling experience to me. Where-as I was on the last leg of my journey, she was making her way back from the airport after her flight was cancelled. Clearly disappointed, it was dawning on her that she was now destined to spend Christmas with friends in Eastbourne rather than back home with her family in Madrid. Despite that, she seemed cheerful enough in talking to me.
The train continued on its merry way and I began to feel so confident of getting home that I started tweeting that my journey was coming to an end. Big mistake. After 14 hours of travelling, the train ground to a halt 10 minutes from home. And so began the frantic running from one end of the train to the other by the driver, as he sought to fix the issue. The conductor, Derek, kept us entertained, throughout, by chatting to us - he was in a cheerful mood.
An hour later, and we were moving again… however, the driver decided that if he stopped for any more stations, he would most likely end up getting stuck again. So, he drove straight through the remaining stops to the end of the line, with the conductor promising us that a bus would take us back to our required stations. Now, if you felt sorry for me, spare a thought for the male cabin crew attendant who hadn’t slept for 57 hours. He looked absolutely dead on his feet, and yet remained chirpy about it. “I’m used to long hours,” he said, before giving me the itinerary of his work, involving 4 long haul flights; one after the other. I was amazed that he was still standing, let alone cheerful.
After alighting at the station, there was no bus waiting for us. Instead, only a bitterly cold wind was there to greet us outside the station. I wondered how I was going to get home - taxi, perhaps. Just at that moment, a man shouted out that he was going to my destination and generously offered a lift. I jumped at the opportunity and crammed into the back of the car, with his teenage daughter on my right and a railway employee with halitosis on my left. We chatted all the way home and it made for the perfect end to my journey.
I had made it home. But, more importantly to me, I’d experienced human kindness again and found faith that people really can be friendly and help each other through when the chips are down.
So, that is my journey of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. One I’ll never forget.
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’…
Whether you love it or hate it, texting has become a major part of our daily lives. From keeping in touch with our friends to competitions and promotional offers on television and radio, these days we struggle to be away from our mobile phones for any length of time.
I saw a classic example of the promotional use of texting today whilst watching daytime television. A quiz was sponsored by a de-congestant and they were enticing people to find out more information by texting the word “mucus” to them. Lovely! What next?…
Latest offer: Win a pair of underpants. Simply text the words "I've soiled myself and my spare pair are in the washing machine" to 63352
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had numerous discussions with friends about frustrating text message conversations. Based upon those stories, I thought I’d write a post listing some typically frustrating types of text chat. You’ve probably been involved in some of the following types of conversation before:
Textual HarassmentThis label applies to those people who bombard us with text messages. I'm sure you've been in the situation before where you finish writing a text message, hit send and a reply arrives back on your phone before you've even had the chance to put it down and take a sip of your tea. By replying, you're signing a mini-contract to waste the best part of your day engaging the other person in pointless chatter. What a waste of bloody time!
Textual harrassers will, invariably, end up becoming stalkers and/or participants in late-night radio phone-ins.
Textual DysfunctionTexts arrive on your phone but don't make sense. Why? Because they are full of:
Beware of number 3. A casual phrase, such as this one describing your dinner preparations:
“I have topped off the plate with some peas”
can easily become:
“I have tossed off the slave with some pear”
Now, you’d think that people would read a message through before sending it. But, no. People suffering with textual dysfunction are busy using their single brain cell for another use (breathing, probably) and so have no available capacity do this. As a consequence, you spend half an hour deciphering the message. Text conversations with textual dysfunction sufferers are a constant frustration.
Premature Text EjaculationThis occurs when someone gets half way through writing a message and then accidentally pushes the send butt…
Textual FrustrationYou send an important text message requiring a quick response and stare longingly at your mobile phone - waiting for a reply to come back - for days on end. Nothing. Has the message arrived on the recipient's phone? Should you send it again? Perhaps they have replied, but it didn't send properly. One thing's for sure, you can't possibly pick up the phone and call them (that's far too sensible) so you'll have to just sit there and get frustrated until you end up throwing your phone at the wall (and missing, with your prized iPhone smashing straight through your 54 inch plasma television). Now you're even more cross...
Tosser... I'll never speak to him ag... ah, what's that bleeping sound coming from inside the television?
Those who engage in textual harassment tend to regularly suffer from textual frustration… usually within about 5 seconds of sending their message.
Rebound TextThis occurs when you dump your existing phone, after becoming bored with the features, and get a new model, with a new number. You must immediately send out the obligatory message to your entire contact list (3 people) to make them aware of your new number.
Textual DepravityThis label can be given to those people who regularly indulge in sending rude and tasteless jokes.
We all like a funny joke or two. However, there are some people who not only text jokes around to their entire address book, but also consider themselves to be the King/Queen of party entertainment. They pull their phone out of their pocket at gatherings and recite their entire list of jokes to everyone in the room. They chortle loudly at their own jokes, thinking they’re funny. However, everyone just thinks they’re a tosser.
Textual TensionThis label is for a text conversation where, due to the fact that text lacks emotion, something is misread and interpreted the wrong way, leading to a fight. Your sarcastic message to your other half telling him/her "thanks for cooking me dinner tonight, I wish I could say it was delicious..." may well receive the reply of "well, f*ck off then, you can cook next time..." This mistake is an expensive one, usually requiring flowers, chocolates and plenty of grovelling (in person and in text)...
To Conclude:Far from being joyous, texting can be an inconvenient and frustrating pain in the arse. It's time to take a good look at yourself. Do you fall into one of these categories? If so, keep it to your bloody self!!! ;)
Last Saturday evening, I attended a Murder Mystery Evening with a group of friends at Leeford Place in Battle. I had never attended this type of event before, so I didn’t quite know what to expect.
Before the evening had begun, the mischievous side of me was pondering about joining in with the scenes of impending death. I had an idea in mind - I would stand up during dinner, shout “You BASTARD!!!” at the person next to me, then clutch my chest, make some “urrgghhhhhh” sounds and fall down dead, face first, into my bowl of vegetable soup (watching out for any sharp-looking croutons).
Mercifully for the person seated next to me (and around the table, bearing in mind the potential splash-impact of the soup), I decided not to follow through with my plan.
The evening started off well - we had arrived early and were well into our third bottle of Sauvignon Blanc before any of the actors appeared. Once they arrived, they quickly made themselves known. I’ve never heard so many raised voices in one room since the get together of the local Society Of Deaf Town Criers.
The murder story began in the bar area, with the theme being loosely based around an X-Factor crossed with Strictly Come Dancing theme. Characters such as Anton De Berk, Simon Coward… you get the idea. Thoughout the evening, the two contestants (who were supposed to be dancing for a million pounds) dropped dead in two separate incidents. That left us with four suspects - the three judges and the host (who was doing a very good impression of Bruce Forsyth). At various points during the meal, each actor would join us at our table and allow us to ask questions. One member of our table took it upon himself to question Sharon, the lady judge (wearing a very nice, tight outfit), in great depth… as he sat her down on his knee and pumped her for answers. He continued this method of interrogation with two other ladies during the evening - concluding that they definitely weren’t actors. His research and insight proved invaluable… ;)
To summarise the events: the first contestant died of poisoning on the dance floor. The second contestant died outside in the lobby, where gunshots were heard. Following the second murder, Brucie announced that one member of our table would be allowed outside to view the body and take notes. They were attempting to keep up a level of privacy… which didn’t quite work as the body was lying right outside the men’s and women’s toilets. So, as people went out to ‘spend a penny’, they were told to cover their eyes and clamber over the body. Thankfully, the women and men all ended up in the correct toilets… though Mr Incontinent from table 4 clearly received an advantage from the situation.
When the opportunity arose for our table to inspect the body, I put on my Columbo face and strode out into the lobby. Two things happened at this point:
After surrendering and handing the notepad back to her, I staggered back to the table with my own pad in hand, on which was this cleverly constructed drawing of the murder scene - an invaluable clue summary for my detective colleagues…
One last questioning session followed dessert and it was then time for us to choose some sensible answers for the murder method, the motive and the murderer. Writing “Colonel Mustard, in the bathroom with the loofa” felt tempting but inappropriate (I didn’t want to make our team look any more foolish than they already did).
After a mix-up with our answer sheet (someone had spilled water on it), we were left with about 15 seconds to write down our answers. So, I scribbled down that the murderer was Piers, the motive was an Indian betting syndicate and the method was poison and gun. Simple.
To my surprise, we were absolutely spot on, and finished second. Why second? Well, another team had written more detail than us (the poison came from a frog, the gun was made from digestive biscuits and the murderer was wearing Superman boxer shorts… or something like that).
Anyway, the important thing is that we finished second and we won two boxes of chocolates…. which my team mates promptly wolfed down, forgetting to leave me one. Talk about shared bloody glory - I could have killed them!!
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!
On Friday evening I attended my second speed dating event. For those who haven’t read about the first action-packed speed dating adventure, you can read it here.
Now, I believe that it’s very important to make the right impression at these events. You should walk in with enthusiasm and a positive and happy attitude. First impressions are important - you need to demonstrate that you’re fun, confident and have a passion for life. Seemingly, no-one had mentioned all of that to the man who walked in, plonked himself on the sofa in the corner, fell asleep and started dribbling on his own shoulder. I felt very tempted to walk over and draw a Poirot moustache on him…
Friday’s speed dating event took place at the Oceana club in Brighton in one of their many themed rooms. We were in the ‘Parisian Boudoir.’ It is described as “intimate and plush” with velvet cushions and a seating area in the middle that resembles a four poster bed. In short, an ideal location for a detective murder mystery or a 19th century swingers party.
Before beginning the speed dating, I think it’s always important to have a quick scan of the competition (not just to check for electronic tags). Scanning the room, the other men looked as nervous and scared as a guide dog in a Korean takeaway. The two lovely hosts (bonus points for me when they read this), Emma and Casey, signed everyone in with the words “here’s your date sheet and your pen” - they should then have continued with “and here’s a complimentary . The emergency exits are here, here and here and we encourage you to relax, not to look like you’re about to shit yourself - this isn’t the bloody dentist!”
Have you ever been speed dating? Here’s a quick re-cap for those who haven’t. Ten women sit at numbered tables (or laying on plush beds), 10 men rotate around them and chat awkwardly for 5 minutes about nothing in particular whilst trying not to yawn, spit out bits of their dinner or discuss the current state of the economy. At the end of the allotted time, there’s a shake of hands, a tick of a box (‘date,’ ‘friend’ or ‘no thanks’) and a quick memo of “reminds me of Hercule Poirot and seems to have a strange stain on his shoulder” in the ‘notes’ section. Then it’s on to the next victim…
To aid my own conversations on Friday, I came up with another useful list of questions to ask. These included:
The event was fun and much hilarity was had. By the time we got to the end, even ‘Poirot’ looked like he was enjoying himself.
Following the event, a few of us got together to chat with a drink. One guy recounted the story of a previous speed date involving a disabled man who was speaking using a computer and voice synthesiser. That brought into my head the very humorous vision of Professor Stephen Hawking on a speed date…
A day or so after the speed dating, I was sitting in a cafe and received the email containing my results. Just as I was opening the email, a message which informed me that no-one had ticked my ‘date’ box (though 6 ticked ‘friend’), a Bee Gees song began playing in the background. The irony was not lost on me… “Tragedy… when the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on it’s a tragedy… it’s hard to bear, with no-one to love you you’re going nowhere…”
For those who haven’t read my last speed dating article, it is available here.
Do you have any funny speed dating experiences?
In preparation for the event, I scoured the Internet for some advice and tips and also some suggestions for questions that I could ask. The advice was useful, but the question suggestions were either boring or ones that I’d rather smash a pint glass over my head than ask. For example, “So, which character in friends do you most identify with?" Uh!
On the evening of the event, I arrived at the pub and was presented with a card on which there were a series of boxes. I was told to write the number and name of each lady in the left hand column boxes after I had sat down and made my introduction. Next to those were 3 smaller tick boxes - “date,” “friend” and “no thanks.” Notable by their absence were the options for “quick shag outside by the back wall,” “restraining order” and “call the police, I’ve seen this guy on Crimewatch.”
There was also a column on the sheet marked “notes”, in which we could write facts about the person in order to aid our memory in the time that followed the event. Such scribbles could include “psychopath,” “reminds me of Margaret Thatcher” and “DO NOT GIVE YOUR PHONE NUMBER TO THIS LADY EVEN IF YOU ARE COMPLETELY PISSED!” Obviously, we were told not to write the notes infront of the person whilst talking to them. E.G: “I notice you have a glass eye, spit when you talk and look like my best friend’s ugly aunt, I’ll just make a quick note of that on my sheet…”
Helpfully, on the reverse of the card there were some ideas listed for questions that we could ask if we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of an awkward silence (so, no need for me to use my emergency ‘Friends character’ question). Bizarrely, one of those questions was “what’s in your fridge?" It was so ridiculously random that I used it several times throughout the evening (phrased in a jokey manner). It did, however, backfire on me on one occasion, where the lady spent the following minute and a half listing everything in her fridge… I actually tried interrupting her in the middle, but she refused to stop until she had named everything. Perhaps a sign of OCD? (I used the time to jot that down on my ‘notes’ sheet whilst she was finishing her fridge items list). Definite traits of a Monica there (albeit a bit older).
We had a mammoth 7 minutes to talk to each lady, with 10 ladies in total. They stayed on the same sofa/chair/bar stool/hammock (no, not really) whilst the men rotated around the room looking like cows being led to the slaughter house. The 7 minutes seemed like a long time at first, but actually flew by on every occasion… with the exception of one. During that particular episode, the lady repeatedly answered my questions with one-word, nondescript answers - she was definitely a Phoebe!
There was a real mixture of women at the event and I got along well with all of them. Some were being very serious about the whole thing. E.G:
Lady: “I come to these regularly to find dates… what’s your star sign please?” Me: “I’m not sure, but I think it’s in the constellation with Uranus…” Lady: ………
Other ladies were taking things less seriously. With that being said, I was disappointed not to get an opportunity at any point to ask a question from my list of unusual questions, such as:
After all the 7 minute torture sessions where over, everyone headed to the bar to relax, and, in the case of a few people, get completely shit-faced. The results weren’t pretty - at one point one of the ladies pulled down the top of her trousers to show me her ‘Mr Tickle’…
Anyway, enough about tattoos of Mr Men characters (well, what else did you think I was talking about?). This speed dating event was fun. However, due to the fact that I had chosen an “over 30s” event, everyone there was older than me and most were over 40 (hey, I still got 3 phone numbers). It’ll be interesting to compare it with a speed dating event for a 26-39 age group (which I hope to attend in a couple of weeks time). I suspect they will be less fun, more serious and won’t be arriving by way of their free bus passes…
…I wonder what they’ll have in their fridge? Hey, come to think of it, what have you got in yours?
Why not read my latest speed dating article, speed dating in the boudoir?
A list of the most stressful experiences that anyone can go through in their lifetime will include events such as the death of a family member, divorce and moving house. I think that supermarket self-checkouts should be added to that list…
When approaching the checkouts with your three items of shopping, there are usually two choices open to you. You can queue up behind the hoards of families putting their monthly food shop through the tills of the spotty trainees or you can risk your mental health by using the self-service checkout systems. The world of personal shopping really has gone out of the window, to be replaced by a form of torture only previously seen on bad Japanese game shows. Still, it can’t really be that bad…. can it?
A few days ago, I gave the self-checkout a try. My first challenge came with deciding where to queue. There were three rows of checkouts and other customers seemed as perplexed as me about choosing which queue to join. They were all milling around looking like they were mentally building complicated mathematical algorithms to decide where to go. I found myself joining in with this pointless exercise…
“Should I opt for the queue with the fewest people or should I also take into consideration the number of items in the basket of each shopper in each queue? In addition, should I factor in the likely intelligence of the people in the queues?”
There was one certainty with all this - whichever queue I chose would be the wrong one. Sure enough, I got stuck behind a lady who couldn’t find the barcode on her packet of Ryvita, a teenager who needed to individually select 15 different flavours of muffin using the on-screen interactions, an old lady who spent 5 minutes sorting through her over-large collection of plastic loyalty cards and, finally, an elderly man who delayed one-second too long in putting an item into his ‘bag for life,’ setting all the alarm bells off. At that moment I was so filled with rage that I wanted to strangle him (rendering his ‘bag for life’ useless forever after)
When I finally arrived at the self-checkout machine, frustration turned to stress. I suddenly felt all self-conscious that it was my turn and realised that everyone in the queue behind me was watching me, waiting for me to do something stupid and forming opinions based upon the combination of items in my basket. I really should have given it more thought before proceeding through the self-checkouts with condoms, lube and an extra-large cucumber…
It was then that I wished I’d taken my items and hidden them under a loaf of bread on one of the conveyor belt checkouts. I tried to scan the items quickly and, inevitably, set the flashing lights and alarms off. In my mind, I could hear an announcement being made over the supermarket tannoy system:
Security announcement: unexpected contraception has been found in the bagging area… and he's got an extra-large cucumber too, what's he going to do with that?
Locked out from the system, I felt completely helpless. I looked around desperately for assistance and a lady in uniform came to help me (no, not the police). She scanned her card through the system, gave me a look as if to say “can’t you do anything right?” and then told me to carry on. In the meantime, I could hear the people queueing behind me tutting, huffing and whistling to themselves (it could well have been to the tune of ‘Right Here Waiting For You,’ I was too busy panicking to be able to tell). Sweating profusely, I paid, grabbed my bags and beat a hasty retreat.
What an ordeal! If I’d wanted to spend my precious time scanning shopping, I’d have applied for a job as a (non-spotty) checkout operator. It’s not service, it’s not quick and it’s certainly not personal - I don’t even get the benefit of having a pointless conversation with a miserable checkout operator. Quite simply, it’s me working for the supermarket and not being paid for it. There’s no fun or benefit to me in that.
Well, it was inevitable. Your partner bought you cake and chocolates for your birthday and now they’re showing on your waist. You looked in the mirror today and your self-esteem dropped through the floor. Thank goodness your home was built well, otherwise you might have plummeted through the floor with it. With the weather being so cold outside, the idea of a run seems about as enviable as a night in doing your tax return. There’s only one thing for it - you’re going to have to make a visit to the gym…
Prising yourself out of the warmth of your home, and wearing your most fashionable leotard, you head along to the local fitness centre - Waist Management.
After paying your entrance fee, you squeeze through the turnstiles and are greeted with a plethora of torture devices. It’s decision time; should you try the rowing machine, the cross-trainer or the treadmill?
As if things aren’t already uncomfortable enough for you, in your over-tight leotard, you’ve just spotted someone that you know and, inevitably, hate. It’s your work colleague, Hal (surname: Itosis), a man with a mouth so gargantuan that he could use a broom to brush his teeth. He enjoys winding you up with his sarcastic comments (whilst wafting a mixture of marmite and espresso breath past your nostrils). The annoying shit is leaning on the water machine trying to pretend he’s Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’ll no doubt take pleasure in watching you prance up and down on a cross-trainer looking like the back half of a pantomime cow.
Whilst thoughts of dread echo through your mind, one of the cross-trainers becomes free, as the man drags himself off and crawls away towards the water machine. He’s left behind a present for you - his sweat; all over the machine.
After dragging the entire contents of the paper towel dispenser across the room, tripping up several people in the process, you dry the cross-trainer, clamber on and start your exercising. You set the machine to level 1 difficulty so that you can move really fast and look far more impressively fit than you are. Instead of looking at you, everyone will be looking at the guy to your left, Jim, who is struggling on level 10 (whilst listening to ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ from the Rocky film). You’ve nicknamed him Jim because of his uncanny resemblance to Jimmy Saville.
A few minutes later…
After three minutes on the cross-trainer, you’re beginning to feel bored. No-one is sharing conversation (so much for the gym being a social thing). Instead, everyone around you is wearing earphones; plugged into their music mix of Lady GaGa, Bon Jovi and the Village People. In need of something to break the tedium, you stare at the television that sits bolted to the wall at the front of the room. It’s showing music videos. Well, they’re supposed to be music videos. They actually seem to be a mixture of nudity, sadomasochism and debauchery… with lyrics that you can’t actually hear.
Ten minutes more hard work go by…
You’re kicking up quite a sweat. The realisation then hits you that you’ve been in a trance for the last five minutes - unable to drag your eyes from the hypnotic movement of the female walrus on the running machine in front. Determined not to focus on her repetitive buttock movement (RBM), you look back up at the television screen. The music channel has taken a commercial break and the television is now taunting you with an advert for fish and chips. Wow, that looks good…
There must be some consolation for this continued torture - the exercise must be doing you good. You’ve probably burned off enough calories for…. fish and chips. You look down at your screen for some statistics and it’s only too willing to show you - you’ve been exercising for 15 minutes, you’ve burned off 100 calories and your heart rate is…. it’s not showing. It was showing a minute ago, but now it’s not. That’s it then - you’re dead. You decide to warn Jim on the machine next to you that he may need to call an ambulance. He’s still got his headphones in, so you’ll need to scribble it down…. “Dear Jim, please can you fix it for me to have an ambulance, as I think my heart has stopped?”
Life and death
Ten minutes further on and you’re still alive and kicking - it looks as if you won’t need that ambulance after all. The same can’t be said for poor Jim, who is laying face down on the floor. A brief, cruel smirk rises across your face as you remember that he was, ironically, listening to a song by Survivor ten minutes ago.
Looking around at the other people in the room, the walrus has finished on her running machine and is now fiddling with her briefs to try and extract them from her bottom. The gym instructor is looking frustrated at the immense pile of paper towel sitting on the floor next to your cross-trainer… you decide not to acknowledge him and hope that he doesn’t realise you were responsible. Wondering where Hal’s gone, you look behind you and realise that he’s been on the weight machines staring hypnotically at your bottom for the last 20 minutes. The shit - he’s going to have a field day with this one.
After finishing your workout, you stagger to the water machine. As you stand there, feeling tired but good, the paramedics carry Jim past you on a stretcher. The poor bugger.
Gym session over. Tomorrow you’re going to feel stiffer than a w*nker’s hanky. The question is: which will hurt more - the aching from your gym session or the sarcastic comments from Hal?
Right, time for fish and chips….
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.
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…
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!).
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.
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”