Saturday, 7 September 2013

Hotch Potch

Up until now my previous posts have tended to follow a theme of sorts, but after much deliberation I've decided I can't be arsed working to one subject on this post, so instead it will be a veritable Smorgasbord of the ramblings that have recently fallen out of my head.

Points of reference

During a recent monthly poker game my compatriots and I had a discussion about handling the subject of impending puberty in their children.  When I say discussion what I really mean is, the subject was raised, I made a drunken comment that fell flat on its ass, (probably spraying crisps as I did so) and which resulted in bemused looks from everyone in the room. Fortunately I now have the opportunity to explain myself with a touch of sobriety.
The drunken point I was trying unsuccessfully to make was my scepticism that a father can fully explain the ups and downs of menstruation to his daughter.  Now I appreciate that this is a very sensitive and potentially divisive subject, but bear with me.
I will accede that it is perfectly possible for a father to discuss the process with their child however it is impossible to describe how it feels, as a man clearly has no point of reference with which to make comparisons.  For all we know it could be as gruesome as attempting to pass a bowling ball wrapped in barbed wire or conversely as insignificant as leaves falling from a tree in Autumn.  Incidentally these were the two analogies I gave on the night which is probably why I got some strange looks.
Right about now I can hear all the female readers out there screaming, 'It's one of the worst experiences a human being can suffer, and it doesn't just happen once it happens every month for 40 years.  What the f@#k are you on about falling leaves from a tree?  You don't know what you're talking about'.  And they would be absolutely right and that's my point. When it comes to the experience we can sympathise but not empathise.
In much the same way no woman will ever be able to describe the gut wrenching pain a man experiences when he takes a blow to the scrotum (and when I say blow I obviously mean an impact not the other kind which is a different discussion altogether).  They may think they can compare but again there is no point of reference.  You may as well ask a blind anosmiac to describe what the colour blue smells like.
Similarly I also take issue at phrases such as 'I suffer from bad hangovers' or 'I suffer with bad PMT'. To be accurate the individual experiences the hangover or PMT, it's the partner who suffers.

Cooking up a storm

One of my many failings in life is my lack of culinary expertise.  Fortunately I have a wife who is a very accomplished cook so I have a good diet, but I am wholly reliant on her abilities to ensure I that don't just exist on ready meals or fast food.  It's not that I don't think I could manage it, given the correct supervision and time, it really boils down to my inflexibility when it comes to following instructions.
The trouble is I have a very digital mind.  If I have to make flat pack furniture, with the right instructions and a full kit of parts it can be quite diverting and one of my favourite hobbies as a child was constructing Airfix model aircraft by following the instructions to the letter (I even painted the pilot first).
Based on this you would have thought I'd have no trouble following a recipe but this is my issue.  When I look at the average recipe it has all the main ingredients and the required quantities spelt out, so if it says 1/2 a pint of milk I will measure exactly 1/2 a pint of milk.  If it needs 18lbs of butter I will weigh out, to within a gnats testicle, 18lbs of butter.  This process will continue until I have all the ingredients measured, mixed and prepared as described in the recipe.  The item will then spend the specified time in the oven at the precise temperature as instructed.
Once this has all been done I will open the door expecting to find a perfect example of 5 star cuisine only to find that I have created, what would probably be best described as, hot arse gravy.
At this stage I will exclaim "What the f@#k happened there?", my children will look at me pityingly, and concerned that they'll have to eat it, and my wife will say "Yeah that recipe isn't quite right, you need 1/2 pint of butter and 18lbs of milk", then we'll go to McDonalds.
And how the hell is anyone meant to work with quantities like a 'pinch' or a 'splash', a 'dash' or a 'sprinkle' or even a 'knob'.  These aren't proper measures, they're extra services offered by high-class hookers (or so I've been told).
Perhaps I'm setting my sights too high.  Perhaps I shouldn't be aiming for Master Chef but be content with blue plaster chef.  The trouble is that I look at the dishes they produce on Master Chef and think to myself, "I could make a much better job of that", knowing deep down that I couldn't.  Half the time I don't even know what they are attempting to create and have never heard of half the ingredients.  When the voice-over lady describes the dishes, in her dulcet tones, she may as well be saying "Today, Rupert will be serving roast turds, on a bed of door knobs, served with flash fried fallopian tubes and topped with a liposuction jus."
Cooking would appear to me to be an exclusive club that I can't get into because I'm wearing trainers.

Written in the stars

All horoscopes are meaningless tosh.  There, I've said it and won't be persuaded otherwise. There is less likelihood of a horoscope being true than witnessing a wedding anniversary on Eastenders - for the benefit of my dear readers of a foreign persuasion, Eastenders is a thoroughly depressing British soap opera where nothing good happens to anyone ever.
In researching the subject of horoscopes I came across the following guff on-line.
According to the fact that I was born in March this makes my star sign Pisces and this was what I was to expect on 7th September:-

Your domestic life might appear like a war-zone: perhaps because you've been too busy to keep on top of things.
Perhaps all that's needed is a good tidy-up.
Relations with a younger person could reach boiling point however, you might not understand their game-plan (if there is one).
There's potential problems with 'a set of wheels' or transport arrangements too.
Your patience could be tested in many ways. Under this pressure though you could arrive at an important decision.

Now I could link some of that to elements of my life right now - I have been busy lately but my domestic life is not a war-zone.  I do need a good tidy-up.  I have no 'younger person' issues over and above having two lively young children.  My car needs a service and my patience is constantly tested. I have decided to keep breathing, and that's quite important.
But there are some key words here that make it impossible to challenge its accuracy with the author of the horoscope.  Key words such as 'might', 'perhaps', 'could' and 'potential'.  So with this in mind, and for all Pisceans out there, here is my horoscope for you all:-

Your spaniel will display signs of pregnancy, unless it's a male, or not pregnant or you don't have a spaniel.
Someone called Gary will deliver Aubergines to the next door neighbour of a friends aunt.
You will suffer woodworm in your artificial leg, if you have one.
You will have relations in relation to a relation.
Nobody will ever find out your big secret, so stop worrying.
You are going to die - one day.

That's it

So I now reach the end of another blog post but remember, horoscopes are fake, there's no such unit of measure as a splash and never get drunk whilst playing poker.
See you next time, love you all.

Friday, 23 August 2013

The French Connection

What I learned/confirmed on me 'olidays

I've just returned from a lovely family holiday in Brittany, France (hence the gap since my last post) and I'd like to share with you the things I learned and/or confirmed in that week.
I've been to France many times in the past, as a child and into adulthood and I've always loved it there. This post delves into comparisons between the French and British way of life, confirmation of my prejudices and the explosion of at least one myth.

Them and us
There are any number of differences between the French and British, most of which have been documented ad nauseum but, due to the amount of driving I did, the biggest difference I noticed was the road travel.
The French manage to suffer the inconvenience of free flowing dual carriageways as opposed to the grid-locked three carriages made popular in the UK. The price of diesel is markedly cheaper than petrol - which is how it should be (I drive a diesel), and in the entire week I only had to pay to park my car on one occasion. But most noticeable of all was the huge number of road signs the French don't seem to need.
In the UK you need signs to warn you of road works, signs to warn you of wildlife, signs to warn you of low-flying aircraft (although what you're meant to do in the event of an aircraft descending towards you I'm not sure), signs to warn you of crossroads, signs to warn you of happy roads and signs to warn you of impending road signs. This isn't to say that the French don't have road signs they just don't have them every 5 yards, on every post, stacked in threes, one above the other. But even with this distinct lack of signage, I didn't once end up in a ditch, round a tree or impaled on an airplane which would suggest that the UK has gone over the top with its signs (which probably needs a sign of some sort). What the French do have that the UK don't are signs to tell you when you're leaving a town so not only do they tell you where you're going they also let you know where you've been, which is nice.

Life's a beach
I've never been keen on going to the beach and French beaches are no exception. Apart from the fact that the sea is a place that, millions of years ago, our very distant ancestors were desperate to leave and therefore we should take the hint and stay out of, every beach I've ever been to clearly isn't happy where it is and will always try to follow you home. This it will do either internally, by hiding in your sandwiches for you to consume, or externally, by secreting itself in any available crevice - between toes, in ears, up noses, behind scrotums etc. This leads me to believe that if the beach is trying to escape why should we be so keen to go there.
The other frustration I have with going to the beach is the view. Whenever I go to a resort where the female sunbathing population have the decency to go topless I never seem to reap the benefits. Any number of topless beauties can be camped out along the beach, just out of my range of focus, but the ones in my direct eyeline unfailingly have the strangest shaped breasts in the world. These range from the dried out raisin variety to tits that perfectly resemble roof tiler's nail bags (or, if you prefer, a cowboy's saddle bags). I will say however that this tends to be the only true entertainment I get on the beach, finding similes for the full range of boob shapes on display.

Explosion d'un mythe
As previously mentioned I have visited France many times over the years and I'd built up the opinion that you will never see a fat French person. I'd arrived at this conclusion based on their diet and their discipline over meal times but mainly because I don't ever remember seeing one. On this year's holiday however this myth was completely exploded.
I saw my first portly Frenchman in a supermarket but, as the area we were staying in was popular with tourists, I naturally assumed he was British. It wasn't until he spoke to the fishmonger and I couldn't understand a word he said that I realised he was French (although he could have been Glaswegian and I still wouldn't have understood him).
The sight of this large gentleman was quite a shock but I let it pass as a freak anomaly. It wasn't until I went to the beach that it became obvious that this was not a one off. The place was full of French people who, to be generous, were edging towards the rotund.
This display of corpulence gave me another reason to dislike the beach and also reflect on how unfair it is when large people sunbathe. Those who know me will attest to the fact that I am built like a match with a toast rack chest and could hide behind the leg of a flamingo. With a physique of this nature I struggle to get a suntan, as I tend to fall between the sun rays, so it is doubly frustrating when halfway down the beach there is a butterball getting more than their fair share. The only consolation I get in this instance is the knowledge that, due to the fact that they have to apply it by the acre, they spend far more than me on sun cream.

Bad language
Despite enjoying France I am the stereotypical Brit who believes that if you speak slowly, shout loudly or affect the right facial mannerisms you can carry on speaking English and still make yourself understood in any country around the world (with the exception of America, where they still struggle with basic English - it's colour not color etc.) With an expert fluency I have also learnt to say 'Je suis désolé, je ne comprends pas. Je suis Anglais et ne parle pas Français'. Even though this is the only French I know and translates as 'I'm sorry, I don't understand. I am English and don't speak French' I deliver it with such confidence and perfection that it displays a willingness to attempt their language and usually achieves the desired result of a pitying look and a keenness to help me out, more often than not pointing me in the direction of the nearest public convenience*
The above having been said, my wife and I did stumble across a very useful new phrase this year which allows me to be able to use my favourite English expression in a foreign land and 'Tete de bouton' (knobhead) was freely delivered every time a maniac driver deserved a mouthful of abuse.

*Author's note - I should point out here that anyone wishing to find a public toilet in France, but with no-one to ask, should look for the building where everyone coming out is shaking their hands and flicking their fingers due to the lack hand driers.

In brief
As stated at the beginning this post is based around what I learned or confirmed during my holiday so to conclude and in brief here are few other things I would like to impart.

1) I have confirmed - The French are quite happily a law unto themselves. I have often said "F@#k this for a lark, I've had enough, I'm going home" then I've sighed, sucked it up and got on with whatever I'm meant to be doing. Had I been born French I would have f@#ked that for a lark and gone home. This was made evident when the local supermarket, with opening hours of 8am till 8pm, was shut at 6:45pm - it's even called '8 a Huit' (8 till 8).

2) I have learned - No matter how much silage a French farmer puts on his field it's never enough (I can only assume this is something to do with EU subsidise)

3) I have confirmed - My legs should not be permitted to be displayed in shorts and in public.

4) I have confirmed - No matter how good your holiday, there's nothing like your own toilet.

5) I have confirmed - France is a wonderful holiday destination and if you haven't already been, you should go.*

*Author's note - Contrary to appearances this post is in no way sponsored by the French Tourist Board (I am open to offers though).

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Right About What I Know

I always try to be careful when writing about work but there are certain generic work situations that warrant a closer look.  After all, it's well known that you should write about what you know and the following post is what I know about work.  I also happen to be right about what I know, which is handy.

Ring The Changes

Highly intelligent people, practically minded co-workers, colleagues with qualifications coming out of their ears.  We all know them and possibly work with a few.  These individuals are responsible for designing the most complicated technology, ensuring the wheels of the economy keep turning and leading us mere mortals to greater things, however in my experience not one of them can replace a used toilet roll.
How many times have you gone into a trap, taken a weight off your mind and reached up only to find an empty cardboard tube hanging forlornly from the holder?  Sometimes it can be worse in that there may still be a single sheet attached.  It's as if the last user has deliberately left one sheet to justify their decision not to change the roll - "Ah but it's not down to me, there's still some left on the tube look".  The problem is you can do absolutely nothing with a single sheet of toilet paper, unless you are trying to dry the tears of a grieving mayfly.
It's not just the inconvenience of it all, it's also the sense of panic it induces when you realise you've completed the necessary evacuation but are faced with the horror of having no 3 ply ultra-soft toilet tissue to send you merrily on your way.
This said however there is one similar situation even worse than not changing the roll and that is nearly changing the roll.  This is where the last user helpfully balances a full roll on top of the empty roll - a full roll that you reach up to use only to knock off and watch roll along the floor, just out of your reach and out under the door.
Now I know the aforementioned professionals are probably paid huge sums of money for their abilities to change the world but surely it's not so far beneath them to change the roll and, if dear reader you are one such person who has left an empty, you should hang your head in shame.  And don't think it's up to the next person to check, after all they have more pressing concerns whereas you have just relieved the pressure of distracting thought.
Work Language
We all have certain language we use in our work places.  This could be a series of acronyms meaning little to those not in the know - and in some cases meaning little to the person delivering said acronyms.
Some language could be aimed at specific individuals, depending on their capabilities - "She's so far up herself she's virtually inside out" or "He's a fu@#ing moron".
But there are particular professions that use completely unnecessary terminology and which make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, namely emergency services and estate agents.  Not similar professions I grant you but they have one thing in common.
Ask a policeman to describe a car or a bus or a truck or van or any other road transport as anything other than a "vehicle" he (or she) will self-combust.  And ask an estate agent to describe a house or bungalow or flat or apartment or any other type of residence as anything other than a "property" they would slap you in the face with a flat iron (or "property iron" as they know them).
Why do these people insist on doing this?  I can only hope for the sake of their families that they don't continue this at home.
Imagine - "Darling, have you seen the vehicle keys?  I suspended them on the vehicle key retaining device when I entered the property last evening - the evening of the 26th of October at approximately twenty hundred hours - and now I can't ascertain their whereabouts.  For the benefit of the tape my wife has just stabbed me in the groin with a toasting fork".
Out Of Hours
Social situations with work colleagues can be awkward, depending on the kind of working relationship you have with particular individuals but I've found that there is one situation that tops them all.  Bumping into a work colleague in a supermarket has the potential to be incredibly cringe worthy.
There you are, wandering the aisles looking for bargains when a work colleague comes toward you.  Nothing particularly worrying so far until you realise that you only have one item in your basket, a tube of haemorrhoid cream, and they have clocked it straight away. You have a brief conversation about the weather or your child's latest ailment or similar, all the while trying to hide your basket from view whilst at the same time checking out their trolley, which you notice is filled with top of the range luxury items.  This leads you to believe that their partner must be a high earner because there's no way you can afford what they have and they are at least three pay grades below you.
You hide your jealousy and finish the conversation with a quick "well must get on, see you in the morning" and move to the next aisle to find your 'own brand' biscuits.  You find your biscuits, add them to your pile cream and go to move on only to find your colleague approaching from the other end of the aisle.  You can't turn round because they've already seen you so you pass them with a chuckle and little witticism, "We must stop meeting like this, people will talk" and move to the next aisle.
In the next aisle you select some sand paper (or 'value' toilet tissue as it's otherwise known) and look up to find your colleague again coming towards you.  Again there is no escape but you've used your only comedy line so now all you can do is smile, raise your eyebrows and walk on (noticing the fact that they have the ultimate in ultra-soft toilet tissue).
It then dawns on you that you are only three aisles into the shop and there is a strong chance that your entire shopping trip will involve bumping into your colleague all the way round the store so there is now only one option left.  You're going to have to spend the next half an hour hanging around in the spices aisle, waiting for them to leave.
Nobody ever buys spices so if you find yourself in this aisle and there are other people there you can bet your bottom dollar they are avoiding their work colleagues too.
Of course if you find your work colleagues loitering in the spices aisle there's a strong possibility that they are avoiding you.
Continual Improvement
Everyone can find work hard but then again that's why it's called work and sometimes these things are out of our control but for those things that we can control we should make every effort to improve for everyone's sake.
So come on people, if you see an empty toilet roll holder put a new roll on, use language that everyone can understand (including you) and avoid having to loiter in the spices aisle by doing your shopping on-line or alternatively go shopping at midnight when the only people you'll need to avoid are the 'onesie' wearing weirdos.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

May the fourth (post) be with you

After my last entry I put out a request to my Facebook friends asking them to decide on the subject of this post.  The choice was between stupid inventions or the debate on Republic versus Monarchy for Great Britain.  The result was very close but eventually came down on the side of Republic versus Monarchy, so here goes......
Republic or Monarchy
George Bush or an expensive tourist attraction, you decide.
So now that's out of the way let’s discuss stupid inventions shall we?
Before I get complaints I would just like to define what I mean by 'invention'. In this instance an invention would be anything that didn't exist at one point in history but now does.  This could have been invented, created, evolved, appeared by magic or supplied by aliens and I'll leave you, dear reader to categorise the following 'inventions' for yourselves.
There are any number of stupid inventions in this world, ranging from potpourri to The X Factor, from war to Michael Gove (he was definitely supplied by aliens) but I have chosen to describe all those inventions that aren't stupid in the conventional sense but do need highlighting.
The end of Bell (or Bellend)
Stupidity is not a modern phenomenon, as proved by the invention of the first telephone. “Are you mad? The telephone was an invention of pure genius” I hear you say. But the key to this is the word 'first'.  Now I imagine Alexander Graham Bell was overjoyed at creating the first telephone and I can also imagine his exclamation, 'Look, I've invented the telephone, I must phone mother to tell her the good news'.  Then the realisation dawning that no one else had a phone.
So based on this I consider the 'first' telephone to be a stupid invention. The invention of the second telephone however.......that was genius.
As a slight aside I've always been uncomfortable with the history of the telephone and in particular the introduction of STD calls.  This raises the question - did the invention of the telephone result in an increase in the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases?
Toilets uncovered
More modern inventions have also contributed to the stupidity list.
As is well publicised, the western world is blighted by the curse of obesity and it would be easy to lay blame at the swollen ankles of the suffering individuals. Of course there is some justification in this but you could also argue - and I will - that a number of modern inventions are not helping to reverse the tide of flab.  One such creation is the slow closing toilet seat. If you are not aware of this device it looks like a standard toilet seat but can be closed with a flick of the wrist and you can happily walk away as it gently floats down to the bowl.
Why?  Why would anyone consider this a necessity other than to avoid moving your arm a whole 1 1/2 feet from cistern to bowl.  And this is where these kind of inventions do nothing to help the obese.  If you're not even getting exercise by closing a toilet seat what hope have you got.
Risk assessment
If you read my first Blog post, 'Health, Safety and Hedge Porn', you could be forgiven for thinking that I am opposed to all things categorised as 'Health and Safety', however this is not the case.  I do dislike the 'sledge-hammer to crack a nut' approach to most risks but there are some hazards that are a clear and present danger and should have suitable mitigation.
One such risk is the fire hazard generated by the invention of polyester leggings and in particular the leggings worn by extremely large women.  As these particular females waddle down the road - often supporting themselves on the back of a Poundland shopping bag laden buggy, affording them the ability to waddle and chain smoke as they go - the heat generated by their fat thighs rubbing together must be immense.  That, coupled with the flammability of polyester, surely increases the risk of bush fires.  As a health risk, fat women in leggings also don't help by inducing sudden and violent vomiting.
To add a little balance to this argument it is not just the large ladies who provide a health risk in their leggings.  It is equally dangerous for perfectly formed buttocks and shapely legs to be displayed in leggings in a public place for risk of passing motorists being distracted and crashing into the car in front.   So please ladies, think on.
Not fit for purpose
All of the above must be classed as particularly stupid inventions, however one of the highest accolades must go to the modern gymnasium.  These places, full of torture machines and sweaty, testosterone pumped bodies are proof that, if you market a stupid invention well enough, there are plenty of gullible fools out there willing to part with their hard earned cash for the privilege of participating.
Consider the evidence.  Gyms contain running machines, cycling machines, rowing machines and a variety of weights, the use of which can be subscribed to for an exorbitant fee.
This stupidity can be counteracted by carrying out the following actions.
1) Find a river and go for a row in the fresh air - that's the rowing machine sorted.
2) Instead of getting in your comfortable car and driving, try running to the gym - the running machine is now redundant.
3) Buy yourself a push bike and ride to the gym - the cycling machine is now no longer needed.
4) Once at the gym, lie down in the reception area, pull out your wallet making sure the staff can see how much money it contains - due to the savings made by not subscribing to their gym - and bench press it at your leisure.
By following this advice you will have maintained your fitness levels and highlighted the pointlessness of these establishments - there is nothing you can do in a gym that you can't do outside.
Some will argue that there is a social element to attending a gym but - if you'll excuse me - this is bollocks.  For the well buffed, six-pack displaying, hard-core members it is a chance to show off their efforts - usually to themselves in the mirror.  For the newcomers their time is spent worrying that they are either so scrawny they don't so much have a six pack as a toast rack or alternatively so flabby that they can't see all of themselves in the mirror.  To me this is not a relaxing social situation but hell at a high price.
And the winner is
Regardless of the above no invention can be criticised more than testicles on the outside. Whoever decided that the most sensitive area of the male anatomy should be exposed to even the slightest of touches should be drawn through with rusty barbed wire, and if you're reading this I hope your next shit is a hedgehog.
The end is nigh
So in conclusion, we need to wise up and challenge the perceived wisdom of genius, ban polyester leggings for public health reasons and stop subscribing to unnecessary memberships (and this includes the magazines where you can collect parts to build a scale model of the Titanic in 400 monthly instalments priced at £4.99 - another crap invention)
Authors note: If you are offended by any of the points made in this post ask yourself the question "Why do I think he's talking about me?" and relax, it's only my opinion after all (I just happen to be right).

Thursday, 11 July 2013

There's Nothing Worse

I've always had a fascination with sayings and expressions because, to be honest, most of them are bloody ridiculous.

More Truth Than You Can Shake A Stick At.

One of my favourite expressions is 'More [insert word] than you can shake a stick at'.  Now I've experimented with this and I haven't yet found anything that is in such large quantities that you couldn't shake a stick at it.  More importantly, why would you want to shake a stick at something to gauge it's size?  Surely counting them or using a standard form of measurement would suffice in determining volume.

And this is made even more ridiculous when used in an attempt to quantify the unquantifiable.  'Fun' for example.  There is no unit of measure for fun, nor will there ever be, and it certainly isn't possible to shake a stick at it.

'Fun' is comparable however.  Playing a game of Twister is much more fun than a swift kick in the soft and danglies for example, and giving birth is much less fun - so I have been informed - than the conception (although this may vary from one relationship to another).  So to make the statement "We had more fun than you can shake a stick at" is wrong on so many levels. Oh, and nobody has ever stated how big the stick should be either.

The Swinging Pussycat Club

Another classic is "Not enough room to swing a cat".  Obviously this must have derived from an extremely sadistic animal hater but when considered logically it misses some fundamental points.  For example, how is this form of measurement calibrated, what are the standards employed and what methods should be used?

Now I know that you can achieve a pretty tight turning circle with a cat so these things need more consideration, as follows:-

To start with, is a standard sized cat required and within what level of tolerance? (e.g. 4kg+\- 10%)

Do you hold the cat by its head, its tail or its feet?

Do you employ a full arm swing from the shoulder or a small pivot from the elbow?

What is the standard length of arm needed to conduct the swing - do you employ a child or
Lennox Lewis? (reach of 84")

Does there need to be complete clearance of walls and ceiling or does a slight brush of the whiskers count as making the room adequate size?

There are other questions too, recently raised on BBCs excellent programme QI, which add weight to my concerns.

So I implore you, if you need to know the exact dimensions of your room, a standard tape measure will be perfectly adequate until such time as these questions are answered.

Old Is Best (apparently)

One saying, "Keep Calm and Carry On", first introduced by the UK government in 1939 as a motivational poster, has recently reared its head as retro chic.  At the time of its inception there was an ever present threat of invasion, rationing was in place and life was pretty grim.  These days we're told to "Keep Calm and Drink Coffee", "Keep Calm and Eat a Banana", "Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake", "Keep Calm and Go Shopping" and I can't help but see the irony in this as all of these activities were virtually impossible in wartime Britain.

There is nothing that gets under my skin more - with the exception of Michael Gove - than a 'witty' "Keep Calm" poster, or mug, or t-shirt, or apron, or iPhone cover, or Blackberry cover, or key ring, or rucksack, or wallpaper, or mouse mat, or cushion, or notebook, or shortbread (that's right people, shortbread), or tea-towel, or coasters, or book mark, or (well you get the point).  If anything, these parodies keep me less than calm. And the thing that really winds me up - I can't think of a suitable "Keep Calm" saying of my own that I could ironically use to counteract this.


And there are other sayings that are just simply pointless.  "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs" is one.  Why would you even attempt to make an omelette without first breaking the egg?  Now I'm no culinary expert but surely that omelet would be pretty hard to swallow and probably result in Gordon F*@king Ramsey calling you "a f*@king useless f*@king moron who has the f*@king audacity to f*@king call himself a f*@king chef." Not worth the risk in my book.

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" is another pointless saying.  I don't know about you but I don't want a bird in my hand, as they carry all sorts of diseases and surely the bush is their natural habitat where they are much more likely to thrive. And if I really wanted two birds I'd nip to the frozen meat cabinets at Tesco (other supermarkets are available) and pick up a couple of frozen chickens.

The Last Place

Talking of pointless, how many times has someone said to you "oh isn't it always the way when you've lost something? It's always in the last place you look".  Of course it is, you plank.  Why would you even consider carrying on with your search once you've found what you're looking for? Can you imagine the conversation?

"Did you find your keys?"

"Yes they were in my penultimate pocket."

But my favourite ridiculous expression of all time has to be "Ooh there's nothing worse is there?". Apparently, and usually according to post menopausal women of a certain age, nothing is worse than the event they are currently describing.

Day 1

Post menopausal woman 1 - "I slipped on the ice and banged my knee".

Post menopausal woman 2 - "Ooh there's nothing worse is there?"

Day 2

Post menopausal woman 1 - "I made a cup of tea this morning and the milk was off"

Post menopausal woman 2 - "Ooh there's nothing worse is there?"

And the biggest killer of all on Day 3

Post menopausal woman 1 - "I gave myself a paper-cut today, look"

Post menopausal woman 2 - "Ooh there's nothing worse is there?"

Now, I'll admit that paper-cuts are not high on my list of things to inflict upon myself but there are plenty of worse things in this world.  I would start another rambling list to back this up but I'll leave it to you, dear reader to come up with your own thoughts on that one.

So remember people, before you use a phrase, give it some thought because - "at the end of the day" gets dark, and the shops shut.

Note: The author of this Blog does not hold copyright on the link used herein.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Binge Fringe Whinge

Alcohol is a wonderful thing right up until the point where it becomes horrendous.  From my experience there are 5 stages from wonderful to horrendous and there is a fine tipping point.

Stage 1: The first stage isn’t really a stage but a baseline of sobriety of which there are three states which can be summed up as follows:- “I love the world”, “I’m ambivalent towards the world” and “I hate the world”.

Stage 2: When you’re a couple of drinks in you’ve reached the perfect state.  You’re suddenly the wittiest person in the room with the comic timing of Eric Morecambe.  You exude self-confidence and your attractiveness to the opposite sex - or same sex depending on your inclination - is plain for all to see.  You sparkle in conversation and people hang on your every word. You consume your drink with an air of sophistication and the light catches your glass in such a way as to perfectly illuminate your beautiful features.  When you have arrived at stage 2 the world loves you.


Stage 3: This is the tipping point.  You’re now at the stage where your wit has turned to shit and you have the comic timing of Erich Honecker (look him up).  You now have so much self-confidence you’re happy to stand on a table and bellow out a tuneless rendition of ‘My Way’.  Your conversation is now mindless as you grab your best mate around the neck and bellow “I f*@king love you mate. It’s me and you against the world.”  You fire Jaeger Bombs down your throat at will and spill more of your pint – or whatever you’re attempting to drink - than you consume.  At stage 3 you want to either fight or shag the world.

Stage 4: At stage 4 inanimate objects move at will.  When you go to steady yourself hand-rails are suddenly not where they were and pavements come up to meet your face.  You turn your head and it takes a few seconds before your eyes catch up.  The self-confident Frank Sinatra impersonator from stage 3 is now a dribbling mess in the corner.  The quiet nightclub that you have magically found yourself in looks full to the brim as your eyes fill the gaps with blurry people.  You make an attempt at walking to the lavatory and even though you can see it, straight in front of you, your legs decide that they want to go sideways and take you through a table full of drinks.  You’re about to go home – stopping to buy and spill a kebab on the way – when you are approached by the largest ‘fugly’ you’ve ever seen.  This ‘fugly’ drags you onto the dance floor and grinds against you like an amorous hippo.  Tonight you will be shagging the world.  At stage 4 the bottom falls out of your world - or in some instances the world falls out of your bottom.  After loving you at stage 2 the world now hates you and you just want to throw up on it to teach it a lesson.

Stage 5: If you’re lucky (and probably under 30) you don’t suffer from hangovers.  If like me you are unlucky there can be times when the hangover kicks in before you’ve even stopped drinking.  And when I say hangover I don’t mean feeling a little tired with a delicate head and grumbly tummy, I mean full-on living death.  Moving is not an option, if you don’t want to turn yourself inside out and every sound reverberates through your head like someone dragging a concrete table across a marble floor.  If you manage to survive this the world then chucks in little memories of the night before, just to make you cringe with embarrassment.  This instils panic and the cold sweats kick in when you log in to Facebook to see a friend request from the major ‘fugly’ you hooked up with during Stage 4. You immediately ‘unfriend’ everyone, just in case they track you down through your friends list. You then sit yourself in the darkest corner you can find and suck your thumb, whimpering all the while.

But then the world teases you.  It gives you a bacon sandwich and suddenly a form of normality returns.  You may have made the decision to never, ever drink again but you can be comforted by the fact that you will always have bacon – I can’t comment on what vegetarians or other non-bacon eating persons use as a substitute but I can’t imagine it’s half as good.

The older you get the longer Stage 5 lasts but it never quite lasts so long as to stop you repeating the performance at the next available opportunity.

“But where is the ‘Binge’ in all this” I hear you scream. Well the ‘Binge’ drinker has a tendency of skipping Stage 2 and moves straight to Stage 3.  Armies of Jaeger Maestros stalk the pubs picking up stragglers on the way until the town centre is a mass of staggering men – stopping in the odd doorway to relieve themselves – and cackling women flashing their under-crackers to the bemused, spotty faced patrolling police officer, who joined the force to crack major drug cartels and investigate murders like on CSI.  And although ‘Binge’ drinkers tend to operate in large groups they never appear to look after their own.

When I was in my early twenties I had very long hair, as did all my ‘Rock God’  friends, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to assist one another by pulling their fringe out of the way while they barked into the big, white porcelain telephone.  Not only was this considered a kindly act for the poorly friend but it also meant that the taxi ride home wasn’t overpowered by the drifting aroma of vomit.

These acts of thoughtfulness never seem to enter the ‘Binge’ drinkers mind. If someone goes down it is considered collateral damage and they will forever be taunted as a ‘lightweight’ because they’ve only managed half a bottle of Vodka, six glasses of Blue Nun, eight Jaeger Bombs and a sneaky spliff.

Now, I am an ale drinker, the kind of drink that the ‘Binger’ wouldn’t even look at, and one of the joys of drinking ale is the names they give them – Pigswill, Fursty Ferret, Locky's Liquor Locker Liquor, to name but three – so what would be the ultimate way to curb binge drinking? Give a Real Ale the name ‘Binge’.  None of the Saturday night twatterati would ever want to be labelled a ‘Binge’ drinker if it meant they’d be mistakenly considered as a Real Ale enthusiast.

So let all good minded people out there join me in returning to the days where we get battered over a number of hours, not minutes and where it’s perfectly acceptable to go to the bar and order half a pint of coke and a packet of nuts (“For the missus, as she’s driving”).

Glossary of terms

‘Fugly’ –               Fat and Ugly or simply F*@king Ugly

‘Twatterati’ –     The thoroughly annoying gangs of Saturday night socialites (who magically morph into my friends once I’ve had a few)

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Health, Safety and Hedge Porn

Introducing me and my opinions

I found recently that Facebook just wasn't capable of coping with the full ramblings of my mind and the opinions that I have developed over the years so I've decided to put fingers to keys and spew forth in a blog.  This blog.  My blog.  So here goes with the first of many.

Health and Safety

If you were to believe everything spouted in various media it would seem that we are living in an age where the potential for sickness stalks the land more freely than Bubonic plague and where danger lurks at ever turn.  "Don't go outside, it's like the Blitz out there."  Through injury lawyer advertisements the viewing public watching daytime television are discouraged from going to work in case they have an accident.  Even going outside is frowned upon driven by the risk of tripping over a loose paving slab.
Think of the effect this is having on the economy.  People scared to work or deterred from going out and spending their hard earned benefits.  Rather than cutting public spending perhaps the government should consider banning injury lawyers to give these poor souls their freedom to contribute.


There also seems to be a predilection for hi-vis jackets everywhere you go these days.  In the good old days of proper rock gigs, where the lead singer would jump from the stage and possibly get involved in a fight with a member of the audience, 'Security' would be hard arsed, bearded giants dressed in tour t-shirts. They wouldn't be fat student morons wearing hi-vis jackets, who can't step in to help because their PowerPoint training didn't equip them to deal with that specific eventuality.  And when I go to a gig I wear shades to look cool not to protect my eyes from the intensity of hi-vis clothing.
I recently went to a festival where I was confronted with a wall of yellow and orange as far as the eye could see.  This ruined every photo I tried to take of the bands and the pissed girl flashing her unusually shaped norks to the stage cameras.  However when I needed medical help for a chap who had collapsed in front of me could I find a hi-vis jacketed medic?  Could I bollocks.
And the modern human being is unique in the natural kingdom in protecting itself from danger by standing out like a blistered thumb.  How often have you heard a field mouse say to her young "right kids, there's an owl out there just waiting for you pop your head out of the nest, (or whatever field mice live in) and that is what we call a 'dangerous' situation. What I need you to do now is go and paint yourself fluorescent yellow"?

'Yout' of today

And I despair for this generation of children.  They are forced by their parents to be so risk averse that I fear for the future of the British Armed Forces.
Now I will admit that the level of traffic has increased over the last thirty years but this is generally not the major concern of the average parent.  No, what worries most parents is the massed armies of child molesters roaming the country ready to snatch their little darlings with gay abandon.  As is becoming more and more evident the true fact of the matter is there are no more weirdos out there now than there were when I was a child, although luckily for us ours were all TV celebrities so if you didn't run in those circles you were safe.
Children just don't seem to be allowed play outside like they used to.  I remember being gone for hours at a time, all the while exposed to huge risks.  We would climb giant trees, create makeshift ramps to fly over on our bikes (without first donning elbow and knee pads or a helmet that resembled the head of an alien).  We would think nothing of putting a match (non-safety match obviously) to old sofas dumped on waste ground and risk food poisoning by partially cooking food stolen from our home cupboards on the ensuing fire. And we would build dens.

Hedge Porn

You never see dens being built nowadays.  Many a happy hour of my childhood was spent building a den and furnishing it with as much discarded junk as we could find. And it was whilst building these dens that we invariably discovered hedge porn.
For some unknown reason it was once a popular exercise for people to throw away individual pages from 'tug mags' into hedges or long grass where they could be conveniently found by foraging youngsters.  If you were really lucky you'd find a whole magazine (the Holy Grail of den constructors) but more often than not it was simply a single page. This would amuse us for hours and provided colourful decoration to the interior of the den when used as wallpaper.
But the youth of today are being deprived of this adventure now and not just because they are no longer building dens but also because Internet porn is so freely available hedge porn must surely be dying out.  It would be a very fortunate ten year old that discovered an abandoned iPad in a bush, which wasn't keypad locked and had either 3G or Wi-FI access and bookmarks to 'XXX' websites.

In conclusion

So we may be safer these days what with risk assessments, warning signs, hi-vis bloody jackets, hard hats and steel toe caps but are we happier?  You may well be content with the wonders of modern life and technology and our shiny bright existence but at least in the 70s and early 80s we knew where we were.  Everything was brown.  The clothes, the carpets, the walls, the curtains, the furniture, all brown.  And this summed up life.  It was crap.  But we knew it was crap and we were happy with it that way because we had hedge porn.  These days it's crap but we think it's better because it's all shiny and safe.  Give me brown crap any day of the week (oh and while you're at it, bring back white dog shit).