Monday, September 28, 2009

Hot Brown Spooning and Uncontrollable Balls

Whilst at work yesterday, I discovered I had a drink problem:

Completely missed the cup when spooning in the granules for my hot-brown.

Hot-brown is a mysterious "drink". We get it free at work, and it comes in industrial drums with "coffee" written on the front next to a Biohazard sign, but we're not sure what it really is other than hot and brown.

After sweeping up the instant hot-brown from the kitchen worktop, leaving an obscene yet hilarious skid mark across the faux-marble top, I made myself some more with fresh granules. Well, I say fresh, in that they hadn't been used before, but that's like referring to fresh granite, or fresh skeletons.

Any attempt the manufacturers of hot-brown try to make it resemble fresh coffee stops after they've coloured it brown.

I'm not complaining though, because it's free, and isn't free the sweetest taste of all?

Yes it is.

Of course, missing my yellow pussy mug with instant hot-brown isn't cause for concern, generally. It's just a bit of clumsiness, some gauche lack of concentration probably whilst gabbing on to some unfortunate colleague about the reduced quality of loo roll we have been forced to endure lately, a topic which isn't suitable for a blog like this, other than to say it has the absorptive properties of Welsh slate. A small spill that could happen to anyone.

But later that day, I did it again.

Now, what are the chances of that happening?

Well, actually about 1:1 because it did happen, which demonstrates the futility of retrospective predictions. Someone ought to mention that to Derren Brown. Or at least his audience.

You may scoff. I often do. But I was genuinely concerned.

You see, it wasn't a simple lack of concentration. I had the spoon over the mug, full to the brim with little, possibly carcinogenic nuggets of eye-opening beverage potential, and as I turned it over, my whole arm jerked a couple of inches to the left, almost like I'd been purposefully jolted.

So, for the second time in one day, I had spooned hot-brown granules all over the work-top, and had to scrape them off again into the sink, where they started to dissolve the stainless steel. So of course this got me worried. Not the dissolving metal bit, because it's always done that, but the fact that my motor skills seemed to have taken a turn for the worse.

What if this was a sign that I was ill? Maybe I'd developed some sort of palsy, or picked up a degenerative tropical parasite that would feed on my nerves whilst liquefying me from the inside out? I had eaten a Pizza Hut buffet just a few days before after all. Or perhaps I was afflicted with a brain tumour that was, even now, expanding to the size of a cheeseburger in my cerebellum.

Mmm . . . cheeseburger.

Cheeseburgers aside, I began to panic. I considered getting an emergency appointment with my GP, but just knew that she would want me to undergo a huge battery of tests and scans, blood samplings, ECGs and EEGs as soon as I had told her what had happened. Then, no doubt, she would lie awake through the night worried that one of her best customers was ill, and be unable to carry out her doctorly duties to her other, almost as deserving patients.

She takes me very seriously, does my GP. Gave me a medic-alert bracelet with "hypochondriac" on it, which was appreciated, as well as a little award for my genuine pseudo-seizures. At least, I think of them as seizures, because "angry twitch whilst parking" doesn't sound as clinically pathological.

I couldn't allow her other patients to suffer because of my affliction so, stoically, I put down the phone, leaving the receptionist shouting "Who's there? I know who you are!" and looked around for a test I could do myself.

There. Four juggling balls on the coffee table.

A perfect test of motor skill and dexterity, is juggling. I picked them up and threw them in a high parabola, letting them come down in two sets of two, spinning gently in the afternoon sun.

They dropped heavily to the floor, two glancing off my face on their way down, one rolling under the Fragrant Chair, which means it will stay there forever because no-one goes near it, let alone sits in it.

I couldn't juggle four balls!

With crystalline clarity brought about by the sudden vivid visualisation of my own mortality, I recalled that I had never been able to juggle four balls, and maybe I ought to try three.

So I did.

This seemed to go okay, and I even tried a trick or two, resulting in the usual flailing and cursing as I missed and scrabbled with my errant and uncontrollable balls.

All normal then.

I then did the ultimate test, and made my self another brew. Tongue out, brow furrowed, sweat beading, chest heaving, I went about rebeveraging my mug, and was rewarded with a steaming, moderately lumpy, slightly fizzing but above all unspilled cup of hot-brown.

Panic over.

So the only explanation I have is that my subconscious, realising I was about to subject myself to my eighth mug of hot-brown in a row, made a desperate effort to spare me the rigours, tinnitus, palpitations and head-music that always accompanies that particular beverage, and caused my arm to jerk away in an attempt to stop me consuming it.

With some willpower and a heroic disregard for my own well-being, I overcame it and forced another four cups down that day, and positively enjoyed the strange vibrating gait I subsequently developed.

Take that subconscious!


It's not talking to me now. Sulky bugger.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Work it Baby!

My telly's bust.

I have used every available repair technique I know of, including waggling all the cables, unplugging them, putting them back in, waggling them again, and then shrugging with all my might, but even this formidable technical arsenal hasn't resolved the problem.

It might very well be unsolvable.

So far, I've not been massively bothered because programmes have become as tedious as ringworm lately. There's only so much amateur dancing, amateur singing, amateur cooking, amateur documentary making, amateur lottery ball picking and amateur news reading I can take before I start to whisper angry words at the TV and it begins to whisper back.

The lack of the Cbeebies channel might be a problem for my son, as Uncle Telly is a useful babysitter, usually available and non-complaining, just asking for an occasional dust and the undivided attention of our mentally stagnating offspring.

Still, it stops him getting kidnapped in the park, which is apparently what happens to children these days if they so much as glance out the front door unattended.

This lack of telly has meant we've had to find alternative ways of passing the time.

Completely unfair.

So, before I am again forced to go out in this pleasant sunshine and entertain my child by boringly showing him birds in the hedgerows, feeding ducks on the river and having a walk in the fields with a football, I will share a few words about technology.

It don't work.

Lot's of things don't work in this life.

I'm not talking about stuff that claims to do something but obviously doesn't, like homeopathy or Derek Acorah, but things that are designed and built according to genuine scientific and mechanical principles, based on years of sound theory and practise, and then decide to ignore all that and become nothing more than an expensive paperweight or desk ornament. Or, even more annoyingly, they only partially work so you don't know whether to replace them or not. Are you supposed to keep the toaster which doesn't pop up? The phone extension that only has a fifty-fifty chance of being in range? The DVD player that plays but doesn't record?

Although it's all technology, everywhere, that's mostly useless, a couple of more specific examples probably wouldn't go amiss.

Scart cables are a major source of annoyance for me. If it doesn't work, it's because it's a cheap one. If it still doesn't work it's because it's not made of gold. If it still doesn't work, it's because I have an incompatible piece of hardware, which makes me wonder why there's a scart-shaped hole in the back of it. If it still doesn't work it's because I haven't used the correct amounts of adder's fork and blindworm's sting, and my lizard's leg and howlet's wing are past their spell by date.

Anyway, it's always my fault apparently.

What about cars? They now have big grey plastic boxes where the engine used to be, and more processing power than the Apollo missions, so they're bound to go wrong on a regular basis. You can't just open up the bonnet and expect to fix an errant pipe or dodgy sprocket, because you need to get a man in very clean overalls to plug a laptop in just to identify the problem in the first place. That'll be ninety quid please. More if you want me to download the repair as well.

If I download anything from the internet, it won't work. I've never bought a computer game that you could just load up and play. There has always been hours of forum scanning and occasional phoning up of some sighing twenty-two year old obese virgin* who sighs at your inability to load up Spore, and eventually there is a fix which is so complicated it would've been easier to use the Rosetta Stone as a trouble-shooting manual.

Annoyingly, most people have learnt to adapt and overcome, teaching themselves about hard and software to a standard that might have amazed a younger version of themselves. I know computer helpline geeks have a field day with ignorant callers thinking the mouse is a pedal, and wondering where the "any" key is, but most of us now know how to turn something off and then on again, which is the basis for almost all computer repairs.

Even typing this blog entry, the copy and paste function won't work, so when I decided to replace a paragraph a bit further down the page, I had to write the whole lot out again.

Of course, mixing technology is simply going to exacerbate the situation. Connecting a mobile phone to the computer seems to be like trying to get a lion to mate successfully with an outboard motor, an unpleasant experience for all involved. Especially the lion.

On the rare occasion when something technological does its job and operates exactly (or as near as durn it) as it's supposed to, I am so overjoyed that I think it's the greatest thing ever devised, which has the paradoxical effect of making me so grateful for its normal functioning that I become momentarily re- smitten with gadgets. Then, rather than throwing out anything with a power source, I'm all enthusiastic about technology again.

For this reason, I thought I'd end with a picture off of t'internet which shows a state of the art DVD writer:


*He sounded obese anyway. And virginal.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Taste in decency

Do you know what gets my goat? Makes me angry? Causes me to vibrate with barely constrained fury like a well-plucked cello string in the note of Grr major?

I'll tell you. Brace yourself because it might also anger up your spleen, like when you come across a particularly awful crime in the tabloids, one where the hacks get all hot and bothered, excitedly using the word "fiend" or "sicko", making you suddenly lose about 40 IQ points just by reading it and having a sudden urge to bring back hanging for particularly heinous crimes. Like immigration.

I hate it when people put my butter in the fridge.

I know, I know, calm down. It's a contentious issue, this, and there are many who are on the side of cold butter, but they are wrong and should be sentenced to ten years hard labour in Siberian dairy mines.

All right, maybe it's not that big a deal. It's a milky-based foodstuff, so refrigerating butter is good for prolonging its usability and preventing it going mouldy. No-one wants to spread milk-flavoured mushrooms on their butties, do they?

But if you're peckish, and the thick sliced Hovis white is looking particularly sumptious, there's nothing, quite literally* nothing in this world more infuriating than trying to spread granite-like butter onto soft, luscious bread. Instead of a creamy smooth layer of salted loveliness on a firm but moist tile of fresh bread, you get a ragged ring of crust, a large hole and some butter pebbles on a plate. Which is wrong.

Therefore it should not, as is the wont of many misguided indiviuals, be kept at four degrees centigrade, but room temperature, and the matter of buttery longevity addressed by eating it quicker.

I'm angry just thinking about it.

Must calm down. Think serene thoughts. I am a smooth stone in the turbulent stream of life. Breathe. Breeeeathe . . .

I started off this post with the aim of examining the topic of taste, and naturally went to the subject of butter as I accidentally used unsalted on some toast yesterday, and you may as well eat plasticine for all the flavour that has.

Taste is a very subjective thing, demonstrated by some people being inexplicably averse to jalapenos and other, sensible, handsome and interesting types thinking they are a tasty savoury ambrosia of piquant loveliness. You can probably guess which way I fall on the jalapeno debate.

When it comes to food, I like most things, so making a list of my favourite foods would be an arduous and pointless task, like writing down reasons to dislike Cristiano Ronaldo. All the obvious ones are there, plus a few personal ones just known to myself.

Far more efficient to mention what I don't like. If that sounds a bit pessimistic, then take heart from the fact that it is a short list. Even if I don't like a certain comestible, I can usually tolerate it, stoic sort that I am. Quiche, for instance, sends my taste buds to sleep but I'll eat it because it's there and someone will have gone to the trouble of making it for me. Spinach makes make me frown, but it's good for me so I'll chow down on it and not kick up a fuss.

There are, however, a few things which I just can't tolerate, and indeed can't even understand why people would like them. I've already mentioned grapefruit as an experience I'm unlikely to repeat in a recent post, and I stand by that. There is also the occasional and criminal practice of putting sultanas in a curry, which is akin to putting geraniums in a trifle. Both are perfectly pleasant separated, but don't belong together in any way.

Another one is ginger.

Oh man, I can't stand ginger. Apart from it looking like something pruned off the top of an unwell giraffe, eating it feels like someone is stabbing me in back of the tongue with a ginger flavoured pointy stick. I would manfully put up with a ginger flavoured biscuit if you offered it to me, but I wouldn't thank you.

This is occasionally a problem because my goodladywife is a very accomplished cook, and tells me that ginger is a useful ingredient in all sorts of tasty dishes. She argues that if I looked through some recipe books, I would probably find some familiar dishes which use ginger as part of their make up, and I would henceforth be more accepting of this hateful tuber.

I said I would, as soon as she explained what a recipe book was.

A recipe book is a collection of chemistry-like concoctions that one can, apparently, put in a bowl, stir a bit, stick in the Very Hot Cupboard in the kitchen, and then eat. It's called cooking, and I recall having tried doing it once. I presume there are also some ethereal, mystical incantations that must be said, because the results of my cookery attempts tend to look like the baddies off of Doctor Who.

Occasionally though, you come across something that you know you won't like, and wouldn't be able to acquire a taste for even if it were deep fried and called a Sparklebun. I came across something like this in a recipe book recently.

Despite my almost clinical inability to cook, even I could recognise a dodgy recipe when I saw it, and that was just from the image of the finished article. I don't know how many of you have tried it, but here it is:

Broccoli cake.

I know.

There are no redeeming features for broccoli cake. Shunned by every decent, right-thinking individual, it exists only in the shadowy half-light of credibility and edibility, trying to be a contender, but being so warped and twisted, so unsavoury and gross, that it finds acceptance only amongst the dreggy, unwashed, ignorant fringes of society. It is the Nick Griffin of the baked world.


Broccoli cake has quite put me off discussing food now. Ruined my appetite I suppose. Well, taste is not just confined to food. It is also about other aspects of life like fashion and performance, aesthetics and humour, entertainment and frolics.

I saw these posters for some local talent in a pub in Chippenham recently, which demonstrate some of the finer choices of talent available to the connoisseur. All tastes are catered for. On one wall, you get a choice of Tom Jones, Fanny Dazzle and Freddie Starr.


It was the middle one, Mr(s) Dazzle that, to me, particularly embodied the spirit of tasteful decor and understated fashion:

Look at that face. If that isn't a fizzog expressing concern at the lack of moral fibre and taste in modern society, I don't know what is.

The show contains adult content, which presumable means a rendition of some difficult contemporary poetry and maybe a discussion as to concepts of economic recovery in these difficult times.

I've got my ticket.

* Quite literally nothing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ticket to nowhere

I have just discovered a new technique for finding a space in busy car-parks which I've never tried before and thought I would, perhaps altruistically, share it with you.

The secret is . . .


This is not normally something I attempt, as I have the patience of a hyperactive fieldmouse. My de rigeur method of parking is to hammer in through the barrier, squeal round looking left and right for a space, tutting loudly when there aren't any and zooming over to the next car-park to repeat the sequence. This takes about ten minutes, uses a lot of fuel and invariably results in me eventually finding a space in the first car park I tried anyway.

Recently I realised that, generally, there's usually someone coming back to leave every five minutes or so, so why not hang around and take advantage, giving them an encouraging get-a-wiggle-on-matey-I-haven't-got-all-day smile, and revving your engine slightly?

That sounds more menacing than it is, but it's actually more of a friendly reminder to buck up than anything threatening. Like demanding money with menaces, which must be fun when the loan shark turns up with a couple of stripy-jerseyed cartoon ragamuffins.

So now, like a vehicular pike in a tarmac canal, I sit and wait for the vulnerable ducklings of tired shoppers to waddle back to their cars, slowly following them in a manner usually reserved for retired judges on kerb-sides at night, until they vacate their space. Then I pounce! Like a tiger.

A tiger in a Focus C-Max.

Of course, the chances are greatly increased if you've made your morning sacrifice to the gods of vacant spaces, which is usually a spot of 10w40 oil poured over a chicken's claw whilst chanting "chugga chugga chugga chugga chuggington" and turning widdershins.

Come on, we've all done it.

It must work because every time I do it, I subsequently get a parking space, and often after waiting only 20 or 30 minutes. Cause and effect, see?

As contractually obligated, the gods grinned their beneficent carbon-monoxidey grins on us, and an old biddy wandered in to vacate a space. Obviously, not without putting her shopping down, looking for her keys in a handbag so large you could keep a panda in it, finding them, putting them on the roof, opening the boot, putting the shopping in, reading the labels on every item as she put them in, closing the boot, watching in confusion as it bounced open again, removing her handbag from the hinges, closing it again, getting in the car, putting her seat belt on, patting her blue rinse, checking she could see herself properly in the rear-view mirror, undoing her seat belt, getting back out of the car and retrieving her keys from the roof, getting back in the car, starting her engine and then backing out at 1 MPH but 5000 RPM.

Of course, by this time, two other cars had come and gone, but because the old lady had smiled at me so sweetly whilst I was waiting, before kindly giving me her ticket and then getting into her cronemobile (a practically compulsory purple Nissan Micra), I felt beholden to use that space.

The ticket had twenty-seven minutes left on it.

Ooh, quandary.

I had about an hours worth of stuff to do in town, so I knew I was going to need to longer than that. You then have questions to ask yourself. Do I accept, and then risk not being picked up by the Parking Nazis*? Do I rush, and try to jam everything in to 27 minutes? Do I come back, and get an hour later on?

I could have graciously accepted and quietly got a ticket of my own anyway, and not use her nominally generous offer, but the presiding argument for not doing it was that it was free!

I love free stuff.

So I said thank you, bundled the family out of the car, which anyone with a toddler can tell would account for about twelve of those minutes, and began the shop. After a bit, I realised I had to go back and replace the donated ticket for a legitimately purchased one, which I duly did. Later, whilst eating a healthy meatball and jalapeno sandwich, I worked out that I had saved myself a whopping 30p.

I was pleased with this saving until I realised that, if someone had offered to go and change the ticket for me for thirty pence, I would have gladly agreed, so in fact I had simply paid for a walk I didn't want.

Still, it was free, and that's the main thing.

We concluded our usual shopping business, which essentially involves me grumbling incessantly about the price of razors, avoided the Earnest Young Things collecting for Dreadlock Relief or something, before making our way back to the car store.

I once had a pubescent Parking Nazi* tell me I wasn't allowed to give someone my ticket, although I pointed out that I was, because I had hired that space in the car-park for a certain period of time, and it was up to me what vehicle I wanted to put in it. I know I've won a discussion when the alternative argument is a whine including the words "policy" and "I'll get my supervisor". Then I run off.

As I was leaving, I saw a Porsche, and was amazed at how much they now look like battered, elderly Ford Mondeos:

It's definitely a Porsche because it says so on the boot lid there. I was going to ask the driver what model it was, a Carerra maybe, or a 911, but he was one of those jet-setting playboy types with an almost new shellsuit and a tattoo of a swallow on his neck, so I didn't bother him in case he was on his way to an important meeting.

I may have altered the number-plate slightly. You can barely tell, but if you zoom in, some of the pixels are out of alignment.

* I have been told that using the term "Parking Nazi's" for wardens can be construed as offensive. By Nazis presumably.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Whatever you do, don't do that. Again.

Gadjo Dilo lives in Romania, and has tagged me from his irritatingly well written and eponymous blog. I wasn't go to do this one because it involves effort, which I try to avoid, but I feel I have to as penance for the terrible Romanian joke I forced my wife to listen to earlier.

"Are you going to Romania?"
"Nope. I'm going abroad."

Eh? EH?

*Cue rolling tumbleweed and small dust-devil in the sparse, arid land of the humour desert. *

According to the rules of Mr Dilo's tag, I must describe 10 things I've done which I wouldn't like to repeat. Mr Dilo only did 5, and so I will continue this mutation until it becomes the standard form of this meme. That's called selection, that is, and don't knock it because without it you wouldn't have Pekingese dogs, or those bald cats, or antelope or triffids.

I reckon this is supposed to be a light-hearted, whimsical exercise, and as such should include suitably ephemeral inconveniences, rather than wailing about how you don't want to get HIV again, or lose another family in the escalator accident. No-one wants to hear about that.

Mind you, the first one I'm thinking of is medical, and there is also, according to my consultant, a high chance of it happening again. He's not an optimistic sort, that doctor. So, to kick off, I give you:

Ureteric colic. Or kidney stones. A strange experience, where an unexplained pain in your back spreads to your front and, over the next couple of hours, gets worse and worse until it's the worst pain you've ever had. And then gets worse! And to top it off, it starts to affect parts of your anatomy that it really doesn't need to.

Tip of penis pain?

Now that's just plain wrong. And apparently, only half of patients get that. Presumably the half with penises.

I was expecting the CT scan to show a stalagmite (or maybe stalactite) of sharpened chalk piercing my innards like a miffed narwhal's tusk, so you can imagine my surprise when they told me the culprit was only three millimetres across. Three? I've had lumps of earwax bigger than that. Admittedly not up my penis because that sort of practise is best left to the French.

The consultant took great delight in telling me how the sharp, shark tooth-like edges of the tiny stone were puncturing the walls of my ureter scoring jagged lacerations down the length of it, hence the pain, and gleefully reiterated that it was likely to re-occur.

Happily, a few days later, I forced it out in a manful, impressive, dray-horse-after-a-bucket-of-beer sort of way, and caught it in a tea-strainer my wife now refuses to use. In fact, I've still got it. Let me go and take a piccy:

There. Something for your entertainment that I made myself, out of calcium oxalate. Can't really get a scale on that. Bear with me:

There ya go. Titchy innit, and yet that made me stagger into A&E like Quasimodo with the runs. Apparently, I should now avoid asparagus and rhubarb, which isn't the most life-changing of medical advice one can receive, so I shouldn't complain.

Had grapefruit for breakfast. I mean, seriously, who came up with the idea that those damn things are even edible, let alone good breakfast material. They literally, literally*, turn my face inside-out. I would be less affected were I to empty a car battery onto my morning Weetos before eating them with a scalpel. Horrid things. My wife disagrees, and points out that whilst I enjoy foods spicy enough to scald a Mexican, I can't do tart and have been known to complain that ripe strawberries are too tangy.

Bought some Bloc sunglasses. They were useless. Well, half of them were useless. The side containing the lens which didn't fall out, even after being sent back to them for repair worked perfectly. It was the other side that I had issues with. Every now and then, the right lens (my right, not yours, unless you're wearing them, then it's your right, not mine. Right?) would make like a salmon and leap away from my face, twirling melodramatically in the sunshine like the flipped coin of a gambling assassin, when he's choosing whether to use the silencer or not. Only the coin would be caught in a grizzled hand and then returned to it's pocket, whereas my lens would invariably land in some dog shit, leaving me the decision as to the worth of retrieving it or not.

Being mean, I usually did, making the "Ew! Ew! Ew!" face as I did so. You know the one I mean.

I now sport some RayBan Aviators which are nice and retro, and make me look exactly like Tom Cruise off of Top Gun. After extensive burns and a failed skin graft following a dodgy landing.

Bought a pedometer.

Pointless, pointless bits of kit. Twelve quid for something that tells me I've done three steps, when I'm half a mile from the house, and I'm just not that tall. It now resides in a tin shaped like R2D2 off of a fillum called Star Battles, or Space Wars or something, and is destined never to be worn again.

Hmm, only one of these has so far involved my penis, which I find surprising. I shall remedy that now.

Caught my willy in my zip. Once, and I was seven, yet I still remember it vividly. My Dad told me he would count to three and yank the zip down, and then went "One . . ." YANK, and thus was I released from my torment. This was undoubtedly the way to go about removing my boyhood from it's torment, but we never spoke again.

It would probably be very, very easy to continue this theme on for ten things I don't want to do again, and maybe carry it on into the hundreds, but I have a sort of life outside this blog, and so do, I assume, my readers. For that reason, I'll leave it at five.

I've tagged a few people recently and I get the feeling that, should I do it again so soon, I'd make a name for myself as a pest. Tempting though that is, I shall refrain and simply offer this one out to all of you to consider, unless you've never made a mistake.

In which case, you're not a proper blogger.

Now get out there and make some mistakes!

*And by literally, I mean not really.

Monday, September 7, 2009


In the beginning, there was a blank space. Then, I typed some words on it, and posted it on a blog. And then stuck on a picturemogram from my phone for good measure. This seems like fun, I thought, and then amended that to This seems like fun, when I remembered that I think in italics. I shall do some more.

So I did. Ninety-nine more, in fact. This is good because Douglas (my first ever commenter and a blogger of class and gentle intelligence) called me a slacker when I'd only done fifty posts, which made me determined to continue.

So, what have I learned from blogging? Well, two things mainly.

First, it's about enjoying yourself.

Second, it's about the people.

Not exactly world-shattering news there. If you're not blogging for profit, then the first is fairly self-explanatory, but I get the impression from other blogs that people get stressed if they haven't posted for a while. I can understand this as I've occasionally fallen victim to that sort of angst, and have had to remind myself that posting on your blog shouldn't be a chore. Like sexual intercourse, if it becomes more of an effort than a pleasure, then one should just hang up one's Batman outfit, get down off the wardrobe and quietly leave the area.

Happily for me, after a few days I'm positively itching, mostly to do with this unexplained rash, but partly with the urge to write something.

The latter reason has taken me a bit by surprise, as I wasn't expecting to make friends doing this. I thought it would be one of those exercises where a few people read you, some commented, you reciprocated and then you drifted off onto other bloggy avenues. What I wasn't expecting was to care about the people I've (sort of) met, to worry when they're ill or haven't posted for a long time with no reason, or to get quite so chuffed by receiving comments as I do.

If the comments had been mostly negative, then I might have decided against furthering this malarkey. It's the positive responses you have given (mostly) which have perpetuated this blog, so you've only got yourselves to blame.

A hundred posts later, and I'm not yet bored with doing it, so what better way to celebrate than to continue the tradition of posting a couple of pics I took because they amused me, momentarily.

The first is some opportunistic graffitage, and not just spray-painted stuff which can be removed or painted over with a bit of angry tutting and elbow grease, but someone who has taken the time to finger-scrawl a message in the wet rendering on a wall before it set. This is a good way of doing things, for it means that your graffiti is there for perpetuity, so future generations can look on your work and think about what you meant. The owner of the building becomes an unwitting billboard for your alternative viewpoints, be they social commentary or revolutionary incitement.

Or you could just write 'sex cock' and let it go at that:

For someone who probably wrote three words in all the months they spent in high school, this sort of literary achievement amounts to a veritable dissertation, and the fact that both words are spelled correctly would no doubt bring a tear of gratitude to their English teacher's rheumy black eye. This is the proud voice of someone who is not ashamed of their lack of cerebral ability, who positively revels in their dumbosity, and wants the world to know that, above all things, they really do value sex cock.

Intelligence, whether academic or emotional, does not make a better person, and this is where intelligent snobbery falls down. I've met many a numpty with a doctorate, and some of the best, nicest people I've ever met have had the IQ of a Spectrum ZX81, without the 16 k RAM upgrade.

It would be nice to have more brains, but we are forced to make do with what we have by virtue of our physiology, and impersonating Stephen Hawking does not, apparently, give everyone else the impression that you are super intelligent, no matter how much fun it might be.

There is also no excuse to be proud of our limitations, only our attempts to overcome them. This seems to go against the sort of untermensch who regularly boast of never having read a book, or got a job, or stretched themselves in any way at all, and is like a reverse intellectual snobbery where any argument to the contrary is met with either bemused silence or outright hostility.

Anyone who challenges someone else with the words "You fink you're better 'n us, don'tcha?" should really be prepared to accept the almost universally true answer of "Yes. Yes I do."

In a world where being gormless seems to have become de rigueur, it's nice to know that some anonymous Swedish furniture stores have tried to redress the balance, and you can actually purchase gorm from their shop:

So, you may well be ignorant enough to think that bread or chicken skin can be used as a contraceptive (hence your eleven children), and you may say "Can I lend a fiver?" when you mean "borrow" (does that drive anyone else as mental as it drives me?) but you can always claim you're not gormless now. Look, you have a gorm right there in your living shack.

It's not all about being clever. It's not all about being extremely pleased with yourself for having had the luck to be breast fed, avoiding brain injury and always being supplied with appropriate amounts of oxygen. What it is about is being self-aware, of seeing what you're capable of, achieving it, and then trying to achieve some more.

Let's live in a society where aspiration means more than just inhaling your own vomit.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's all about Meme, Meme, Meme!

*Ringing sound*

Me: "Ahoy-hoy."
Internet: "Hello it's the internet here, is that The Jules?"
Me: "Oh, hello. Yeah, speaking."
Internet: "Hi The Jules, just thought I'd mention that I haven't seen you in a while, and I was getting worried."
Me: "Worried? Really?"
Internet: "Absolutely. All your favourites have been clucking at me saying you've been, well, neglect is too strong a word really, but, you know, if the cyber-cap fits . . ."
Me: "But . . ."
Internet: "And your history hasn't been cleared in weeks and still looks a bit sparse, doesn't it?"
Me: "I've been reall . . ."
Internet: "DOESN'T IT?"
Me: "yes."
Internet: "Honestly, it makes no sense. You've hardly bid on anything on Ebay, and you're nearly out of overdraft. Facebook hasn't seen hide nor hair of you for days and you've got a pillow fight to respond to, and The Huns Yellow Pages is thinking of asking for a trial separation, because it thinks you've found another porn site."
Me: "Actually, I have . . ."
Internet: "That's between you and it. I'm not getting involved in any domestics."
Me: "But I've been . . ."
Internet: "And to cap it all off, your blog shows as nearly ready to receive its one hundredth post."
Me: "Yes, I know, I'm looking forward to . . ."
Internet: "But still nothing, and now it's September! I'm not totally sure what months are, because I'm the internet, but I know time is getting on and you haven't been showing due diligence in your online activities. The question is, why? Are you dead?"
Me: "No, no, still here for the moment."
Internet: So, it's essentially laziness then?"
Me: "Well, not really, I've been busy."
Internet: "I beg your pardon?"
Me: "I've been bus . . ."
Internet: "Busy. Yes, I heard."
Me: "Okay then . . ."
Internet: "Well, that's not much of an excuse, is it?"
Me: "It's more of a reason than an excu . . ."
Internet: "You need to get your act into gear, sunshine."
Me: "You interrupt a lot, don't you?"
Internet: "Of course I do. I'm the internet."
Me: "Point taken, but I really have been busy."
Internet: "Well, that's demonstrably not the case is it? You've hardly been online at all."
Me: "Not busy online, busy elsewhere?"
Internet: "Else . . .where?"
Me: "No need to sound so incredulous. I do have a life you know?"
Internet: "Oh The Jules, The Jules, The Jules, you don't believe in all that do you?"
Me: "All what?"
Internet: "All that 'something else out there' rubbish. I mean come on.
Me: "But it's true!"
Internet: "You might very well think it is true, but you've got to get your priorities right. Keep your 'outside' mumbo-jumbo to yourself and start interacting with reality again. I bet you didn't even know there's now a website which emulates Commodore 64 games from the eighties, did you?"
Me: "I think you'll find there really is something else . . . Commodore 64 games you say?"
Internet: "Oh yes."
Me: "Is Bruce Lee on it?"
Internet; "In all its pixellated glory."
Me: "OMG!"
Internet: "Do I have your full attention again?"
Me: "Well, there's a nappy that need changi . . "
Internet: "YouTube said to say Hi."
Me: "I'm all yours."
Internet: "Good, good. Now, I just need you to prove yourself to me?"
Me: "Er . . ."
Internet: "Don't worry, it's not that bad. I was going to send you on a quest to obtain a very expensive iPhone application, but was informed you don't have one yet."
Me: "I could get one. On credit maybe."
Internet: "No, I can't wait for that. I'm not a patient entity."
Me: "I'd noticed."
Internet. "Your punishment . . ."
Me: "Punishment?"
Internet: "By which I mean task, is to go and prove yourself by completing a meme. A couple of my more diligent agents have tagged you."
Me: "Who?"
Internet: "Madame DeFarge and Pearl. They create blogs which even I swoon over. They write regularly, and hardly ever mention cats or recipes, and are generally lovely, lovely sorts who you would do well to imitate, if you had the talent."
Me: "Girly swots."
Internet: "Pardon?"
Me: "I said 'thanks a lot'."
Internet: "Hmm. Well, this meme requires you to describe seven quirky personality traits you possess, and then pass on the honour to seven blogs you follow, and soon, it will take over the world."
Me: "Do I have to?"
Internet: "Well . . . no."
Me: "But I will, won't I."
Internet: "Oh yes."
Me: " 'kay then."
Internet: "Now, go to your blog and do this thing for me. I will post the transcript of our conversation so all can bask in the mighty power of me, the internet."
Me: "You can do that?"
Internet: "Actually, no. Would you type it out for me?"
Me: "I suppose . . . "
Internet: "And there's no need to roll your eyes like that."
Me: "Gah . . . sorrEE."
Internet: "Cheery bye then."
Me: "Bye . . . git."
Internet: "I'm still here"
Me: "I know."

- - - - - - -

So here I am. Memed good and proper, and not just a little one where you answer a few questions about what type of book you hate or music you hate or foreigners you hate, but one where I actually have to think.

Seven quirky personality traits? I don't think I've got seven personality traits at all, let alone quirky ones. Are smelly feet quirky? How about neckache?

Do I look quirky?

Okay, I'll give it a go.

*Thoughtful face* >:-I

I'm a control freak, and I'm married to a control freak which results in some interesting arguments where backing down becomes less likely than a Rosh Hashana celebratory salami. Someone might be doing a task completely competently, but because it's not quite the way I do it I have to hold myself back from taking over. Often with a sort of strained, constipated look on my face, as though barely keeping the urge in. Unfortunately for this trait, I work as a Paramedic, a job which doesn't exactly discourage control freakery.

I can often hear myself talking, and know I'm about to go too far in a conversation, yet hardly ever stop myself because I'm interested in the reactions. This is not something I'm proud of.

I'm a natural nudist, and like wandering around in the buff, although strangely I don't like to have a poo in the nude. I would have to put a T-shirt on to sit down on the loo even in the privacy of my own house. I presume it's due to some sort of deep-seated (aha) feeling of vulnerability.

I can find humour in almost anything. Today I was particularly tickled by two dogs fighting on a zebra crossing (the cars all politely stopped until they'd finished!), but I can be amused by an embarrassingly large spectrum of occurrences.

I still get night terrors, which is exasperating when you wander around the house for thirty minutes convinced someone is trying to electrocute you because you slept on your arms and now have pins and needles in them. Nearly as awkward, in fact, as attacking the door for looking like a malevolent tree or, when staying at your in-laws place, waking everyone up by screaming at the top of your voice and then having no memory of the act, other than your father-in-law standing next to you in his jammies looking worried. I should imagine.

I'm struggling now to write things down that are deemed quirky, and not pathological. Ooh, I know, I can't be doing with putting the cutlery in the drawer in any old order. It has to be knives on the right, forks in the middle and spoons on the left. Any other way is an affront to the Lord and should be punished by stoning.

I have a mild case of Horner's syndrome. Hilariously, this is clinically a type of palsy which might get worse as I age, or might not, and could be the result of some over-enthusiastic jiu-jitsu antics when I was younger. Not exactly a personality trait, but apparently it gives my face some character, by which I gather means lopsidedness. Uneven pupils are a quirky personality trait, aren't they?

There we go. I have a horrible feeling that there might be a touch of TMI* about this post, so if you don't like any of the above, would you just erase it from your mind and carry on as though nothing untoward has happened? Thanks.

In addition, I've have to nominate seven other suckers blogging chums to suffer partake of this exercise. Normally, I don't pass on memes very much, but this one takes a bit of effort and is therefore more annoying than usual, so I'm totally gonna.

There are so many great bloggers out there, and I would like to know a lot more about a lot of them. So here goes a few that I don't think have already been memed:

Girl I - because there's definitely some quirks under her bonnet.
The U - because I don't think he has any dodgy personality traits.
Eric - because his traits will be classic!
Mo - because he only posts on Mondays, which is quirky in itself.
Mr London Street - because he deserves it.
SkylersDad - because he has to chew his way out of the leather straps for some reason.
Alex - because he should get back into blogging.

Have a look-see at these folks blogs if you get half a mo, and be rewarded with posted goodness!

Right, I'm off to get my number onto the Telephone Preference Service in case the internet starts hassling me again.

*Tedious Mindless Idiocy I think.