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:
- 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…?
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:
- 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)
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.
Do you find yourself feeling bored, frustrated and disillusioned when you undertake your regular supermarket shopping expedition? It’s time to change all that!
Here’s a few challenges and ideas to make it more interesting for you and your fellow shoppers…
Challenge 1 - Don’t Shop From The Shelves
Pick yourself a trolley (try to get one that doesn’t have a wonky wheel) and enter the store. Now, before you grab for that 2-for-1 cake offer, stop. For this challenge, you’re only allowed to shop from other people’s trolleys. That’s right - you’re not allowed to put anything in your trolley that comes directly off the supermarket shelf.
I know what you’re thinking - that’s surely a bit cruel to the person you’re taking from? To help you get over the guilt, you’re allowed to replace the item you take with another similar-sized item from a supermarket shelf. Here’s an example:
You see an 85 year-old lady walking around and you spot that she has a jar of your favourite jam in her trolley. Whilst she is inspecting the tubes of Denture Cream, you creep up, take the jam and replace it with a box of PleasureMax Condoms. Problem solved - no guilt for you.
Challenge 2 - Fancy Dress
When you go shopping for a specific item, you should dress as the item you are going to buy. Be careful - it could be slightly embarrassing if you’re going in to buy tampons….
Need multiple items? Great - take your family along with you!
Challenge 3 - The Supermarket Dash
This challenge is simple - you have to get from one end of the supermarket to the other in the shortest time, whilst shouting the words “I forgot the cornflakes!!!” and frantically waving your arms in the air. Bonus points are given for shoving people head-first into the freezers…
On festive occasions, the word “cornflakes” can be substituted for items such as mince pies, cranberry sauce, hot-cross-buns, etc.
If you get bored with this one, an alternative version is to dress as an alcoholic tramp and crawl slowly along the floor towards the beer section whilst slurring the words “must have a…l…c…o…h…o…l.” If you can make it without being grabbed by security, you win.
Challenge 4 - Persuasion
Are you a good salesperson? Now’s the time to find out. You have to act like you work in sales and sell a product to someone that you wouldn’t usually expect to purchase that item. You can choose to make this as difficult as you want to, depending on how you’re feeling. For example, if you want an easy challenge you could try persuading an obese lady to purchase a packet of Jamie Dodgers. Slightly more difficult, you could try to sell shampoo to a bald man. Just don’t try to sell a pack of sausages to a vegetarian muslim….
All of these challenges should help ensure that your shopping trip remains interesting and entertaining. Just make sure that you shop at different supermarkets, to avoid being banned for bad behaviour….
No-one ever wants to come shopping with me anymore - I can’t understand why!?
Sitting in the corner of my lounge are a set of three small tables. These could be referred to as ‘occasional tables.’
My question is this: If they’re occasional tables, what are they the rest of the time? Furthermore, if I have a set of three occasional tables, should I be using them for different occasions or should I be tremendously extravagant and use them all for one big event?
I almost feel that my occasional tables are not achieving their full potential; ensconced in the corner of my lounge. Perhaps, with these furniture items being a part-time rest place for discarded items and drinks, on special occasions, they could engage in more exciting activities the rest of the time? The smallest occasional table, for example, could be a part time shelter for a homeless mongoose. The largest occasional table could be a life-raft for a very small colony of dwarf rabbits (incase they get stuck in a boat in rough weather).
The definition for an ‘occasional table’ is “a table that is small enough that it does not have a very practical use. It is used mostly for decoration or display.”
So, an occasional table is a bit like Katie Price (albeit with no bust…. unless someone has placed their priceless Winston Churchill sculpture on it)…
I think the definition should be changed to:
an occasional table is an extraordinary piece of furniture that, when not used as a rest place for items during significant occasions, can be used to save the lives of dwarf rabbits all over the world from certain peril on the high seas.
So, next time you see an occasional table sitting somewhere, looking unused, just remember that it’s only having a rest from its regular, important jobs. It’s waiting for the moment to fulfil its potential…
The guy (or woman - this isn’t a gender-specific annoyance) who walks into a cafe on a cold day and leaves the door open. It only takes 2 seconds to close the door and save everyone from a chilling blast of arctic cold up their jacksey.
Yet this idiot, wearing his super-thick winter coat, doesn’t think about that, does he?
So, what happens next?
You get up from your chair and walk across to ‘ferme la porte’, ensuring that you slam it hard enough that the noise resonates around the room and shakes all the pictures off the walls. Everyone looks up at you, except for the ignorant ‘merde’ who left it ajar in the first place. You then trudge back to your seat (although in your mind you’re walking up to the man, grabbing his head and bashing it onto the counter infront of him).
You sit down, feeling irritated, and continue with what you were doing (the crossword in the newspaper, in which, coincidentally, the answer to 4 across is ‘tosspot’ - well, it’s not really, but it does fit, so f*ck it!)
Just as your mood begins to return to somewhere near normality, the inevitable happens. The guy has ordered take-away and, having paid for his sandwich and coffee by emptying the entire collection of loose change from his wallet, bag and coat pockets into a heap on to the counter, he opens the door and goes to walk out. You’re waiting for him to either shut the door behind him or give you the motive for murder.
Instead, he taunts you by doing neither and begins a long goodbye speech to the cafe owner (with the door wide open). Well, that’s enough for you - you get up off your chair, spilling the unfinished crossword to the floor, and sprint across the room, slamming the door in his face and knocking him and his coffee half way down the street. That’ll teach the little ‘4 across!’
Update: To my delight, I've just found out that there's a 'Close The Door' campaign in the UK. Find out more about it here.
One wonders who hates Valentine’s Day more - the man trying to find something suitably romantic for his partner or the guy who receives nothing and ends the day unloved… and locked up for stalking.
So, for a man, how does a typical Valentine’s Day shopping trip turn out…
It’s February the 13th and you’ve left it late. It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and you’ve put the dreaded shopping trip off as long as you can. Your prayers for a nuclear holocaust have gone unanswered. What’s more, your clever scheme to coat the 2010 calendar in dog food didn’t work either. Your hungry dog, Charlie, ignored it and chewed through your favourite pair of slippers instead. There’s only one thing for it, you’re going to have to go out shopping.
So, what should you buy? You’re going to need one hell of a romantic gesture to beat last year’s effort. Spelling “I love you Catharine Elizabeth Alexandra Mackenzie” in your own blood, whilst bungee jumping from a crane, resulted in a month in the Intensive Care ward. You can only blame yourself… for choosing a partner with such a long name. On the plus side, the effort did win you immense respect (from other men).
Not only do you have to contend with bettering last year, but you also have to out-romance your partner’s best friend. A week hardly goes by without your partner’s friend bragging about the romantic gestures that her husband makes, and your partner thinks nothing of mentioning them to you in conversation. The cow (that’s aimed at the friend, obviously, not your partner!).
The Card Shop(the easiest part of the shopping expedition… supposedly)
So, what message should you look for in a Valentine’s Day card? If you’re in a relationship, you’re looking for a card that gives the message “I love you more than life itself," without going over the top. If you’re playing the field a bit, you’re looking for the card that says “you are the one and only," in a ‘buy one, get one free’ offer…
You walk into the card shop and are immediately greeted by a sea of red Valentine’s Cards, going on as far as the eye can see. The last time you saw this amount of red concentrated in one place was when you drunkenly knocked a bottle of Merlot on to your friend’s carpet (and proceeded to try and lick it up). Standing in front of the abundant rows of cards are lines of confused-looking men, scratching their heads, leaning to one side and dribbling from one side of the mouth. You walk over to join them. At this point one of two things happen:
- 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).
Choosing a Present
Right, so, you’ve bought the card. Now you have to think about a present…
Flowers are a good option for your loved one for Valentine’s Day (and they represent your relationship well - after a while they wither and die). Now then, would she prefer red, yellow, white or pink and how much should you spend?
Ordinarily, chocolates would make a good present. But you know fully well that she’ll only scoff the lot and then ask you the question “do you think I look fat?” two days later.
A romantic idea. However, you’ll only get the wrong size and, besides, the last time you tried to buy lingerie you were thrown out for ogling the breasts of the sales girls.
You could take her out for dinner. But you’ve left it late and all the decent restaurants have been booked up already. So, it’s either a meal at the local greasy spoon or a take-away kebab.
There’s always the romantic thought of cooking her dinner. But last time you cooked beans on toast you accidentally destroyed her favourite saucepan and set fire to Charlie. She’d never forgive you if you did that again, and neither would Charlie (what’s left of him).
It looks pretty hopeless - you’d better find yourself a bungee cord and a crane (I suggest you just draw a heart this year and forget about her name!).
To help you, I’ve come up with a handy list of questions that you can ask your date, to get the conversation moving again.
Here's some good ones:
- What is your dream job?
- Do you have any interesting collections?
- If you could wake up tomorrow with any ability, what would you choose?
- If you throw a cat out of a car window, does it become kitty litter?
- If a cow laughed, would milk come out of its nose?
- If someone with multiple personality disorder threatens suicide, is that considered a hostage situation?
And here's some alternative ones:
- That's a lovely outfit… have you always been colour blind?
- You have a really interesting haircut… how much sponsorship money have you raised?
- So, how long have you been in the witness relocation programme?
- Are you a nun? Do you have any bad habits? (ok, that was a terrible joke)
- Have you given names to all of your head lice or just the special ones?
- Have you ever been on a date, but found that there was no spark? Well, you won't get that problem with me - I'm an arsonist!
- Is that piercing supposed to be there or has someone attacked you with a staple gun?
- So, how long have you owned your womble costume?
- I highly recommend colonic irrigation - have you ever tried it?
- Have you always had a moustache… I'm not sure it goes with that blouse?
- Why are you staring at me like that - haven't you ever seen a naked man before?
- Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched? No, good… (quickly change subject)
- Has anyone ever told you that when you laugh, you sound like the woman from the Krankies? Come to think of it, you don't look too dissimilar either…
- I've been trying to figure it out all night… are those breasts real?
- So, what do you think of my "I Shag On The First Date" t-shirt?
- Has anyone ever told you that you have very big hands for a lady… and is that an adams apple?
- Did I mention that I'm Gillian McKeith's younger brother? If you'd like to take a crap into this plastic box, I'll tell you what's wrong with your diet...
- Have you ever considered plastic surgery? I mean, they can do wonders with noses these days!
- Have you met my imaginary friend Phillip? Say hello, Phillip…
- Where would you like to go for our honeymoon - I was thinking Morocco…?
This blog post features in the onlinedating.org 45 articles on questions to ask before the first date article.
Ok, I admit it, I’ve been dabbling in the world of online dating. It’s been an interesting and, occasionally, eye-opening experience.
Earlier today, I was looking through a few online dating profiles and the following irritating phrase came up several times:
“I’m a lil like marmite - you either love me or hate me."
Ah, ok, so you’re not a “lil like marmite” because you’re thick, pasty and smell like shit? Why include such an inappropriate and over-used slogan in your profile? If you do include one, at least use something interesting, like:
- "I'm like Gillette - the best a man can get"
- "I'm a bit like your MasterCard - I'm your flexible friend"
- "I'm a bit like Kelloggs Frosties… I'm grrrrrreat!"
Anyway, this observation got me wondering what company slogan comparisons I could use in my own online dating profile. I think I’ll include some of the following:
I am like:
Sony: like.no.other Stella Artois: Reassuringly expensive Britvic: Simply the best there is Greggs Bakers: Ready when you are Burger King: The home of the Whopper KFC: Finger lickin' good Milky Way: I’m the sweet you can eat between meals (without ruining your appetite) Energizer Batteries: I keep going, and going, and going Martini: Any time, any place, any where Sainsbury’s: Try something new today Peperami: I’m a bit of an animal Nintendo DS: Touching is good Pringles: Once I pop, the fun don’t stop Rennie: Powerful relief in just two minutes Burger King (2): It takes two hands to hold a Whopper Rowntrees Fruit Gums: There’s juice loose aboot this hoose Opal Fruits: Made to make your mouth water Smarties: Wot a lot I got Hewlett Packard: Expanding possibilities Shredded Wheat: Bet you can’t eat three
and finally, my favourite: Wagon Wheels: It’s so big, you’ve gotta grin to get it in
Are you addicted to Facebook - the social media website? Do you find yourself logging on whilst at work, at home in bed, on the toilet and in the bath?
Following on from my popular article, The Self-Importance of Facebook & Twitter, I aim to find out just how addicted to social media you are, using this simple story test.
Select the options that best apply to you…
1. It is 8am on Monday morning and you wake up feeling weary, having ended a late-night Facebook Poker game at 5am. You lost $8,456,947 to a guy named ‘Billy J’, who you’ve never met (it’s a good job the money isn’t real). You stare are your alarm clock in disbelief - in 10 minutes the bus leaves for work. Which of these best applies to you?
- 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)
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:
- 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).
3. You go to the cinema with your friend (the bus driver, not the rat). Which of these applies to you?
- 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.
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:
- 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).
5. Musical Interlude…
“If a picture paints a thousand words, then:"
- "why can't I paint you?"
- "I'll stick it onto my 'super wall.'"
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:
- Give him a call, check he's ok, have a long chat and invite him over for a meal.
- 'Poke' him.
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?
- 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.
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?
- 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.
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:
- 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.
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:
- 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.
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.
Having read the Timewaster Letters, by Robin Cooper (a brilliant book - do buy a copy), I have been inspired to write and send a few humorous letters of my own. These letters will form the Pointless Letters section of my website.
Before Christmas, I sent this letter to the Executive Director of WAZA - the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums - to ask for some help with an event that I was planning. As yet, no correspondance has been received from them (why not, for goodness sake?).
You know what? Snow reminds me of a distant Auntie’s visit on Christmas Day. Everything seems very pleasant and enjoyable for the first 5 minutes and the children enjoy playing with her. But then you realise that she hasn’t really brought anything nice with her. She then overstays her welcome, irritates you to the point of hatred and gives you a frosty reception when you attempt to reshape her into a man.
Still, at least you can rely on teenagers to provide a smile in the snowy weather. I don’t know about you, but I feel positive that the future of our country will be safe in the hands of our young folk; particularly the ‘sensible ones’ who walk around in the bitter cold wearing t-shirts (or hoodies) and writing “amusing” messages on the front of parked cars. I watch them walk down the road, hoping that at some point they might slip over and impale themselves on a fence post. Should it happen, I intend to nip out and transcribe the word “twat!” in the pool of blood lying next to them. Hey, I may even draw a little picture.
Worried by what you’ve heard, you switch on the weather forecast and, within seconds, it comes up with a no-nonsense summary of what is to come: Severe Weather Warning: Heavy Snow. You go into a momentary state of shock and, for a split second, the weather forecaster transforms into the Grim Reaper and points his scythe at you. Sensing the need for urgency, you make a quick decision: It’s time to panic in a way that only British people can… begin Benny Hill music
The Supermarket Trip
Worried that other people might buy up everything that would help you survive being snowed in by the anticipated 20ft of snow, you jump straight into your car and speed to the local supermarket. After fighting your way into the car park you squeeze into a small space; parking half on the grass verge and half on the man collecting the trolleys. You grab a trolley and sprint through the supermarket doors, spinning a little old lady to the ground as she stands perusing the Easter hot cross bun offer. There’s no time for checking she’s ok - you’re panic buying, for goodness sake…
You dash through the store, heading straight for the bread and milk. Afterall, there are no better survival foods during two weeks of violent snow storms, and 20ft snow drifts, than bread and milk. Tins of food are not going to help and, therefore, should not be given consideration - what a stupid idea!
As you approach the bread aisle, you are greeted by a scene from a nuclear holocaust - the shelves have been decimated. A gust of wind from the stock room sends a bread bag rolling along the aisle towards you, like tumbleweed. Just as you’re about to give up, you spot a wounded survivor in the distance - a baguette; broken in two with a piece missing from the end (and a suspicious child-sized bite mark). This is no time to be fussy. You rescue the stricken bread stick and lift it gently into your trolley, as if you were lifting an elderly lady out of a chair (or off the floor, together with her hot cross buns). Great, your emergency survival kit is underway.
Next stop, milk. As you reach aisle 435, having fought your way through the crowds of 75 year olds scrapping over the last few boxes of Ritz crackers, it becomes obvious that you’ve once again arrived too late. The fridges are empty and there are puddles of milk lying stagnant on the floor. The scene bears the hallmarks of a battlefield after the biggest milk fight in history. You feel like crying, but can’t, for obvious reasons - it’s spilt milk and crying over it would make for a terrible pun.
So, what are you going to do - an emergency survival kit is no good without milk? I mean, you’ve got the baguette, surely you can’t be defeated at this late stage? And, besides, it’s a known religious ‘fact’ that “man cannot live by bread alone”… You have two choices:
1) Choose different milk. UHT, for example, has a much longer shelf life.
2) Slowly prowl around the store, like a stalker with squeaky shoes, and try to locate a trolley with milk in it. Then, using your ninja skills, sneak up and extract the milk from the owner’s trolley without them noticing. I mean, it’s not stealing, is it…
Any thought about trying option one leaves your head straight away - you’re in panic mode, this is no time for sensible thinking. So, temporarily abandoning your trolley, you walk around from one aisle to the next, taking cover behind other shoppers and large boxes of shredded wheat, and casually inspect the trolleys of unsuspecting shoppers. After a few minutes, you spot a young Mother and her trolley, which contains a big two pint bottle of milk - perfect. The milk starts calling you from the back of the trolley - you can clearly hear it (but, strangely, no-one else can!). It’s in a tricky position though - perched directly underneath the Mother’s four children, who sit squashed into the trolley’s single child seat. You convince yourself that your cause is greater than that of her four kids and so, whilst she is building up her emergency supply of Pampers nappies in a second trolley, you sneak up, distract the kids with lollipops taken from the end shelf, extract the bottle of milk and escape quickly, like a fart in a jockstrap.
Feeling elated, you stroll casually back to your trolley with a big grin on your face. However, a shock greets you as you return to your trolley… someone’s nicked your half-eaten baguette. The little shit!!
You feel desolate and bereft of ideas. In desperation, you do what any insane, panic-buying person would do… you head back to aisle 433 to fight over the Ritz crackers…
Some time later, you emerge from the carnage of aisle 433 (The Battle of The Ritz) - battered, bloodied, with a sore ankle where a ninety year old man bashed you with his zimmer frame (prior to you stamping on his toe and poking him in the eye with your remaining lollipop). Before you hobble to the checkout, you must get toilet rolls. However, another battle lies ahead for you. You push your trolley to the correct aisle, only to spot four children having a fight with the toilet rolls. It seems that their Mother left them there whilst she went off looking for some missing milk…
Exhausted from your shopping trip, you check out and leave the supermarket. One final challenge awaits you as you stand there surveying the car park. Where is your car? Three feet of snow fell during your 10 minute shopping expedition, so it’s not obvious. Thankfully, you spot the legs of the trolley collection man…
2009 will be remembered for a lot of events. The inauguration of the first black American President, the death of a pop icon; Michael Jackson, and the worldwide spread of an infectious contagion that originated from a porker… no, not swine flu. SuBo (Susan Boyle).
Not only is it the end of the year, it’s the end of the decade - a period in which the phrase “I’m going to play with my wee (Wii)” became a normal thing to say, rather than something to be immediately sectioned for.
It’s now time to look forward to the new decade and that means the usual new year rituals. So, are you going out with friends, staying in with family, hosting a party, joining a party or burgling the houses of those people who are out celebrating? Here are the options, laid out:
1) Going out with friends
One of the most fun and eventful ways of seeing in the New Year is to go out with friends to a local pub / club / strip bar and have a drink / dance / young, naked woman / man / could be either (depends on how much you pay) dance and sit on your lap. You drink lots, party hard and see the new year in in style. Whoohoo!
For extra fun, have a bet with your friends, at the start of the evening, on which one of you will be the first to pass out with your head over the toilet bowl, with the smell of alcoholic wee wafting up your nose.
2) Staying in with family
As you get older, this becomes the preferred method of seeing in the New Year. Sitting in your lounge with a drink whilst people on the television do the wild partying and celebrating for you. It’s always such a long build-up to midnight, as you sit there sucking on a Werther’s Original or chomping on some of the sweets, mince pies and rotting fruit that are still left over from Christmas Day. Finally, midnight arrives. You hum a rendition of ‘Auld Langsyne’ to yourself, wish your family a happy new year and then, as the fireworks go off around the neighbourhood, you go to bed. New Year celebrations over for another year.
Unfortunately, you forget to switch off your mobile phone and are woken up at 3am by a message from your drunk brother… “Heppy Nu Yar”
3) Hosting a party
So, you’re hosting a party. That means a lot of preparation - you need to ensure there are enough snacks, that you have entertainment and that you move everything that is precious to you… from the house and the surrounding neighbourhood. In fact, it’s probably best to be completely safe and move it all into storage… in the Netherlands.
You purchase a LOT of alcohol and the usual selection of party snacks - crisps, biscuits, sweets, chocolates and those horrid cheesy footballs that no-one ever eats (leaving you to feed them to the foxes the next day… who also reject them). Once the guests have arrived, you spend the entire evening running around making sure everyone is ok. This means that by midnight, you lie exhausted in the corner of the room, asleep, and miss the celebrations. Next morning, you wake up to find your lounge is a mess. The carpet is covered with cheesy footballs and red wine and, as you survey the devastation, you spot Wayne lying slumped over the arm of the sofa with a cocktail straw sticking out of his ear.
4) Joining a party
The New Year house party, without all the cleaning up. Fantastic. You make your way around to your friend’s house to join the party, only to discover that all of the fun people have changed their minds and absconded to the local pub. This leaves you to have a party with all the boring, unsociable people who sit there staring at the carpet all night, unable to decide whether the colour is light brown or beige. Still, at least Alan is there to chat to - the guy who spends every weekend adding to his impressive collection of jam jar labels.
Hey, it’s a party, you need to look at the positives - there’s food and wine. You pick up a wine bottle to fill up a glass and discover that it’s Tesco Value red wine, which tastes of squirrel piss (you should know, you accidentally drank some whilst out camping last year). You reach for a handful of snacks and… it’s those bloody cheesy footballs. Pissed off, you sling them onto the floor, spilling your wine in the process.
Luckily for you, your cheeky idea to post details of the party onto Facebook pays off, and the house quickly fills up with strange people that you don’t know. Things quickly liven up and before you know it, it’s midnight. So, you take another sip of squirrel’s piss, give a snog to the two woman hanging off either arm and then pass out across the arm of the sofa, with a cocktail straw sticking out of your ear.
Getting The Message Out
Whichever choice you make for your New Year celebrations, one thing is for certain. At midnight, you’ll try to wish all your friends and family a “Happy New Year”. You decide that you’re not one of those spoil sports who sends a text message BEFORE midnight, to try and beat the mad midnight rush (is there anything quite so pointless and disappointing as being wished a happy new year before it’s even happened?).
You’re also not someone who actually likes to talk to your friends and family. So, that leaves you with two options:
1) Wish all your friends and family a Happy New Year on Facebook… you miserable sod. Where’s the effort in that?
2) Join the fight for mobile phone network space and attempt to send a standard ‘Happy New Year’ text message to the 443 people in your contact list (no time for personalised text messages). Based on past experience, you have come up with an ingenious plan. You prepare the text message a couple of minutes before midnight, put your finger on the ‘send’ button and hold the phone by your side. Then, at the very second of midnight, you hit send and… “message sending failed.” You then spend the next hour hitting the ‘retry’ button until, at 1.13am, the message goes through. Ok, so that plan didn’t work very well.
Maybe next year you could try sending carrier pigeons instead? That’ll work… as long as everyone else in the world doesn’t send carrier pigeons too. It could get very messy!
However you celebrate the New Year, I wish you a happy one…
“Heppy Nu Yar”
Some people do it in January. Others leave it until much later in the year. No, I’m not talking about the shameful breaking of New Year’s Resolutions. It’s Christmas shopping. You can certainly tell it’s Christmas. The women featured on the covers of men’s magazines are all wearing red thongs… ;)
What is it with Christmas shopping that makes it become such excruciating torture? Never mind about jail sentences for convicts, send them out with a difficult Christmas shopping list on December 24 instead. That’ll sort them out.
Perhaps those traumatic feelings are caused by the way in which the festive season has been taken over by retailers; continually pushing their Christmas offers in our faces from as early in the year as possible. “There are only 242 days of our Christmas sale remaining…”
Your Christmas shopping story…
After beginning your Christmas shopping ordeal expedition, you invariably end up in a shopping centre full of chain stores. You enter a shop and walk around, hoping that something will pop out and hit you in the face, saying “I think I’ll be an ideal present for Auntie Mabel. Buy me!” Whilst browsing the tat on offer, the shop offends your ears with a horrendous selection of cheesy Christmas music to get you in the ‘spirit of things’. However, all it seems to do is irritate you to the point where you want to grab a piece of tinsel and hang the shop manager from the end of it…. “Chipmunks roasting on an open fire…” Bah humbug! You walk out and into another shop, where you encounter a refreshing change: this store is playing non-festive music… “why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?” (that probably has something to do with the box of Trill that I emptied into your back pocket this morning)
1 hour later
Having left it to the last minute (a month before Christmas) to shop for Christmas presents, you find yourself buying items at twice the price that they were three months ago. Sure, the shops have “SALE” plastered all over their windows, but it’s certain that the stuff that you’re interested in isn’t reduced.
We’re in a recession, so you’re looking for a bargain (defined as something no-one really needs at a price you can’t possibly resist) and the shops are quite happy to push all sorts of stuff at you. Being under pressure, you’re considering everything, including the sort of crap that ends up down the charity shops two days after Christmas, or the female pampering packs that are left to rot in the receiver’s bathroom cupboard before being passed back to you three Christmasses later. You can bet your bottom dollar that eBay will be full of that stuff on Boxing Day (so, a great opportunity to shop early for shit presents for next Christmas!).
3 hours later
You’re beginning to lose the will to live - you’ve bought presents for so many people. But you still have to find something for that difficult person who seems to be impossible to buy for. Auntie Mabel - a woman who doesn’t eat chocolate, has a hayfever allergy, changes waist size like a puffer fish watching a horror film and doesn’t have any hobbies, favourite foods… or a bath! To frustrate you further, whilst scouring the shops for a gift for Auntie Mabel, you spot brilliant ideas for those people that you have already bought for!
5 hours later
You enter Poundland for the fifteenth time. Whilst walking around with a bewildered look on your face, a member of staff, wearing a silly Christmas hat, approaches you to try to assist you. “Are you ok, sir? Can I help you at all?”. The guy acts so jolly that you instantly hate him. So, you turn to him and say, “Yes, I’m looking for a present for a 3 foot tall midget with webbed feet and eyes that look in different directions. Can you suggest anything?….. hello?”
6 hours later
After another hour of looking, you’re now dribbling profusely and leaning to one side with only one eye left open. Then - miracle - you spot that there’s £10 off a George Foreman grill. Perfect. Afterall, it’s been a while since Auntie Mabel had a Lean Mean Machine in her house…
You snatch the box off the shelf with both hands, causing a stack of other grill boxes to avalanche down onto the elderly couple standing to your left. Your focus remains intact as you turn around to search for the checkout. You spot the checkout far away in the distance and, inevitably, there is a queue. It’s not a small queue either - the line of people snakes around every aisle, from one end of the store to the other. So much so that whilst your eyes follow the line, your head rotates 360 degrees around your neck.
After three months of walking, you locate the end of the queue and join it. Infront of you is a little old lady and, after joining the line, a group of teenagers join the queue behind you. Standing there, promising yourself that you won’t leave it so late to do your shopping next year, you get battered from all sides by wafts of pungent smells. First, the little old lady’s perfume, ‘Musty Barn’, enters your nostrils, hammering on your sinuses like a woodpecker on a tree. Then, as your headache builds, you get hit from the back by the stench of teenage deodorant. The so-called ‘Lynx effect’, presumably because it sinks its teeth into your neck area and suffocates the life out of you. Why is it that teenagers feel that spraying an entire can of deodorant on to themselves makes them extra attractive to young ladies? Yes, they probably do seem attractive; if the girl in question is wearing a gas mask or has a heavy cold.
Thankfully for you, standing in the line, all that practice in your bath at home has paid dividends. Not only are you the world record holder for holding your breath underwater, but it means that you are able to survive the nasal bombardment.
7 hours later
Having bought your item, you stagger out of the store, navigating your way through the Christmas clowns, stilt walkers, jugglers, thieves, murderers and men in tight shorts (yes, there’s always one, even in winter). Then you spot one of those ‘wrap for charity’ stalls, where, for a small donation to charity, a little kid will wrap your present for you. You decide that it’s worth a pound of your money to get them to wrap the present that you bought for your Great Grandmother earlier. So over you trundle. “Hello, can you wrap a present for me, please?” you ask. “Yes, sure, where is it?” he replies, with a polite smile. He isn’t smiling for long, as you open your shopping bag and reveal a giant cactus…
8 hours later
Exhausted, you head off home and find yourself summing things up with a Churchillian line: “Never, in the world of shopping, has so much effort been given by someone, for so little!”
Christmas shopping can be horrendous. It should come with a public health warning and a free shot of valium. Perhaps the answer is to get pissed on mulled wine beforehand? Just don’t throw up in Poundland… (would it cost you a pound if you did?)
Google’s Autocomplete service has provided some fun and quirky suggestions since Google fully launched the service back in 2008. For those who don’t know what Google Autocomplete is: when you start typing words into the Google search engine, Google provides a list of possible suggestions to complete your query. I tried a few searches today, using google.co.uk, and here are some screenshots of the funny results…
Today’s health and safety tip…
I’ve been wondering a lot about this lately…
Well, it’s a good question. There’s something else I really need to know…
Whilst I’m on the subject…
I’m desperate for the toilet, but my friend’s flat has triple velvet toilet paper…
I know 3 people called Paul… now, that’s what I call choice!
Hang on, what’s this little round sweet I’ve just found? There’s a note with it…
I really love my cat. But he has a very unusual appearance…
Listen, I’ve got a friend who is vertically challenged. We are planning a late night burglery, so I really want to know…
Enough of this nonsense. It’s time we asked some important questions. As someone who uses Facebook, I feel I must find out…
That seems rather harsh! I’m also a fan of Twitter…
Well, I’m not sure which of those applies to me… ah, yes, all of them.
Let’s finish off with a comparison. I know a lot of American and British people. So, Google…
So, what causes these spurious suggestions to appear when you type a search into Google? Well, it’s all down to their algorithms finding these phrases in pages throughout the Internet. That’s right, somewhere on the Internet the phrase “I want to do a poo at Paul’s” has been mentioned a large number of times.
What I am now wondering is whether a new phrase could be added to Google Autocomplete if it is mentioned enough times. Shall I start a campaign for people to add the phrase “I want to lick Barack Obama’s armpit” into their blogs and web pages?
Is Social Networking Breeding a New Culture Of Self-importance?
So, you’ve got 200 Facebook friends and 20 Twitter followers. You feel important - right up there, in celebrity status, alongside Tom Cruise, Pope Benedict XVI and… Susan Boyle. People seem to want to follow your every move - and you oblige by telling them when you eat breakfast, visit the toilet and wash your best pair of pants.
Then, one day, you go through your friends list and it hits you - 195 of your 200 Facebook friends are actually made up of the following:
1) Former classmates from school (who you didn’t really know because you were busy studying in the library or hiding in the janitor’s cupboard whilst they were fighting, smoking and having teenage sex behind the lockers)
2) Old work colleagues (who regularly taunted you for your unusual dress sense and over-large nose).
3) People you met once at a social occasion, but never really spoke to. You just remember their name and the fact that they like bird watching.
4) People who mistake you for someone else (well, you did put a picture of Scooby Doo as your profile photo) and then can’t be bothered to remove you when they realise you’re not who they thought you were.
Despite discovering all this, you still find yourself needing to log on to Facebook and Twitter at every available opportunity to check whether someone has written on your wall (technically, graffiti), posted a follow-up to your comment, or to see if someone has re-tweeted your earlier 140 character creation of genius. Later that day, your only real friend goes through your Twitter followers list and breaks some extra bad news to you: 18 of your 20 Twitter followers are actually just porn pedlars.
The Lives Of The Self-Important
So, why do social networking websites make people think that they must share everything with the world? Perhaps it is down to the questions that they ask: “what are you doing?” or “what’s happening?” (Twitter) or “what’s on your mind?” (Facebook). It’s a dream come true for people with over-inflated egos.
I’m amazed when people tweet that they’re sitting in traffic on the motorway, washing their hair or about to go out and buy a new pair of knickers. Now, if they were about to meet Pope Benedict XVI (or Susan Boyle, I don’t mind which) and present him (or her) with the fore-mentioned pair of knickers, I would be interested (and would probably even re-tweet it to my own tens of ‘interested’ followers). For me, these people put the “twit” into Twitter.
When out in public, the behaviour of the self-important is extraordinary to watch. I observed one such person on Friday night. I was in a busy cocktail bar and as it got towards the end of the night, I glanced to the side of the room to observe a rather inebriated man sit down at a computer screen and log in to Facebook. You could tell he was drunk - it was a real struggle for him to locate and type each letter of his username and password. If that wasn’t a complete giveaway to his drunken state, his next action certainly was, as he got up shouted out “I’ve got my lasagne” and then proceeded to pull a small plastic bag out of his pocket (containing said lasagne) and whirl it round and round his head in celebration…
Now then, at that point I could have considered it to be a monumental moment worth sharing with the Internet world, taken out my iPhone and tweeted ‘just stood in a cocktail bar and watched a man whirl lasagne around his head". Did I? No… damn, why didn’t I?
To conclude this rant, an idea: Perhaps Twitter should change its initial question to say: “so, what makes you think you’re so bloody interesting today?”
Maybe someone should also start a list of ‘self-important people’ (not to be confused with ‘self impotent’ people - that’s a different blog post altogether), gather them all in the same place, with their computers and mobile phones, and see what happens. Forget the Hadron Collider and the Maya 2012 predictions - this idea could really cause the destruction of mankind!