What’s In a Name?

August 22, 2014

The new series starts tomorrow night
With Capaldi in the lead.
So by ten to eight tomorrow night
I’ll be settled, fed and wee’d,

Eight long months of waiting
Since the Eleventh said goodbye.
It’s like starting at the beginning again
As we watch the TARDIS fly.

Clara’s still his travelling mate,
But she’ll be leaving soon.
Will she live or will she die,
On the Earth or on the Moon?

I’ve been a fan a long, long time
Since before the resurrection.
I could name the companions all
From now back to conception.

There’s Nyssa, Leela, Romana (both).
Turlough, Peri, and Sarah Jane.
There was Dodo, Polly, Jamie, Rose
And Adric – what a pain.

And screaming Jo, the Brigadeer,
Mike Yates and Sergeant Benton.
There’s plenty more, like Susan and Ace
But no-one else I’ll mention.

But before the series starts,
There’s something must be said.
If you can’t be bother with Doctor
Please don’t put “Dr” instead.

It’s not the shorted job title
Doctor is the proper name.
So please use all six letters
Don’t put yourself to shame.


The One With The Lousy Bread Joke

August 21, 2014

My dad is one of nature’s Grumpy Old Men. He’d happily (well, probably not happily) admit that himself, as well. It’s a wonder, to be honest, that I have grown up to be the cheery ray of bloody sunshine that I am. The reason I mention this is because one of the things my father is very much against is the concept of the self-checkout in Supermarkets. How long, he often rants, will it be before we have to stock the shelves ourselves or get the stuff from the stock room?

Today, I actually thought his prophecy was coming true.

I meandered over to Tesco’s this morning to get something for lunch. I grabbed a basket, really pushed the boat out with a meal deal and headed for the checkout. 

The woman that always talks to you, usually complaining about something, was working today. So I headed for the self-checkout. Because, unlike my father, I seek sanctuary in the electronic arms of these devices because I don’t have to interact with other people.

“Are you alright there?” she asks me. The woman, not the checkout. We don’t have that sort of relationship.
“Yeah, I’m fine thanks.”
“Are you sure?”

Am I sure? I have a pasta salad, a bottle of water and a bagged of air-popped crisps to scan through. Apart from being slightly phased by the words “air-popped” I am fairly sure I can manage this one.

“Yeah, I’m grand,” I said.Thinking this would be the end of it.
“Ok, well I’ll just get on with doing this then. We’re just running around trying to get things done this morning. The area manager is coming tomorrow and there’s only two of us on this morning so… and a delivery has just come so poor Lynn has had to go out and do that on her own. You know what I mean?”

I wish I didn’t have one of those faces that just sends out a signal for people to talk to it. Not just any people. Weird people. It’s always the odd ones. I didn’t know what to say. I just made one of those noises that you make when you’re agreeing that the situation someone is in really is a predicament but don’t want to get involved. The one that also includes a kind of shrug with your eyebrows. That one.

She carried on, though, telling me about this delivery and how it was too much for one person.

I started to wonder if she wanted me to say that I’d give them a hand – maybe just hop on the tills for ten minutes while they got this delivery shifted or something. I could see they needed some time to sort everything out anyway, I noticed that as I passed the fresh bakery and thought that they might have done one or two croissants too many as every tray was filled with plain croissants. Nothing else was available. Just croissants as fair as the eye could see.

Clearly having only two staff caused a lot of pain.

 

 


Night Time Shouting

August 20, 2014

The other night I think I was at my absolute bravest. Probably the bravest I have ever been. 

I was woken by a shout, and there was a light on somewhere – I couldn’t tell if it was in the house, or belonged to the security light on the house behind ours. But there was definitely a light. And there was definitely shouting. 

Carole had taken herself downstairs because she was completely unable to sleep and when she can’t sleep she tosses and turns like a crazy person, so she headed off with her Kindle, a drink and whatever else to try and get some sleep on the couch. So when I heard the shout, I immediately thought it was Carole – she has a habit of calling out if she’s had a nightmare, say, about three witches and some ribbon (true fact). 

So I called out to her to ask if she was ok.

I was presented with no response.

But I knew that I’d heard shouting. And there was that light….

But then the shouting had stopped. And the light went off.

And everything sounded quiet.

So I just sort of lay in bed for a bit, listening. And when there was nothing else I kind of went back to sleep.

When I told Carole about this in the morning, asking if she had called out or if she had put the TV on in the night – which would have explained both the voices and the light, she said that none of it was her. Which added to the mystery a litte. But then she asked if I had, on hearing the shouts, immediately run downstairs to make sure she was alright.

Obviously I hadn’t done that. I’d remained in bed. Safe under a duvet which, as anyone knows, can protect you from all manner of things. So I got into trouble, because I hadn’t come to make sure that Carole was ok. She could have been murdered or anything, she said. I tried to explain that I’d done the listening thing, and that I didn’t hear any of the sounds I would associate with murder. I imagine being killed on the couch makes a very distinctive sound. 

It wasn’t good enough. I was chastised for not running downstairs. But, even if I had run downstairs and found Carole being murdered, what could I have really done? We are not blessed with many weapons. I mean, I once took Carole out by throwing a Bagpuss down the stairs, but that was a very specific set of circumstances. I am not sure that you can fight off a potential shouty murderer with a soft toy – even if it is a spectacular throw.

Anyway, I shouted. No-one shouted back. The light had gone off. The noise had gone down.

And I realised I had the whole bed to myself.

I was busy.

Being a starfish.


I Am Not Phoning To Sell You Anything

August 19, 2014

We got a sales call yesterday. 

Nothing unusual in that, I suppose. Well, it was unusual in that it wasn’t a recording offering us some sort of discount in a Government funded boiler scheme or something to do with fixing electricity prices – the ones that fill up the answer machine every day, as the calls come through three or four times in a 24-hour period.

No, this time it was a woman.

I should say that I tend not to answer the phone – at all, if I can help it – but particularly during the day because it’s invariably a sales call, but I was expecting the Sainsbury’s delivery about thirty minutes after this call and they do like to phone and ask if it’s alright for them to deliver early. So, on the off-chance that was the reason, I answered. 

And so it was a woman, named Anna. Although I very much doubt that Anna was her actual name, more one she’d picked of a list because it was easy for her to say.

She asked for Carole.

I explained that Carole wasn’t there. And I asked what it was regarding. She didn’t tell me what it was regarding, which immediately ruled out any chance of it being Sainsbury’s. Bugger.

“Are you her son?” she asked me. Her bloody son. Am I my girlfriend’s son? Wow. I have never been asked that before. It’s not even a conclusion I would immediately jump to. I mean, I’m not sure I sound like some sort of child on the phone – maybe I do. After all, I don’t answer it very often so probably don’t get a lot of practice at sounding like an adult.

I more-or-less said all that to “Anna”.

Ok, I didn’t, I just went, “Sorry? Her son?!?”

To which she provided further clarity as to what she meant by asking if I was Carole’s son by saying, “Yes. Are you her son?”

In case I’d misunderstood what she meant by asking me if I was her son.

I explained that I was not her son, and managed to actually get to the part where she started the script.

She’d rung to not sell me anything, she said. She’s rung, instead, to ask a series of lifestyle questions which would only take a minute to go through and could be answered with yes/no responses.

Sounded easy enough, I though.

So I said, “No.”

And hung up.

 

 


Curiosity Carried The Cat Away In A Supermarket Van

August 18, 2014

A Sainsbury’s order came today. Just a normal order. Nothing special. Nothing massive like a sofa or a squillion-inch TV. Just some salad stuff, a bag of cat litter, some kitchen roll and various other nick-nacks. Certainly nothing which required two people to turn up and carry my groceries to the door. Slower than one person could have done it, which was nice. In a really frustrating way. And then they dropped one of the boxes and crushed one of the cereal boxes with their massive meat-hands.

But for me, the best thing with having the shopping delivered was Peppa. Peppa had taken the opportunity, as she often does, to explore the front of the house when the front door is open. She ran up and down the path a little, running for cover when the two shopping goons approached the house. But then I saw her sniffing round the van. Showing a massive interest, in fact, in the inside of the van. 

Which was fine, up to a point, but then I lost track of her. And all my shopping had been delivered. And the shopping goons were leaving.

And I started wondering… what exactly happens if, when they get to their next drop off, there’s a small black and white cat in the back of their van. 

Do they have to retrace the route, asking if anyone has lost a cat?

Would I have to phone the Customer Helpline and say that I had a delivery and that I think that my cat has wormed her way into the van, at which point they’d ask if I could describe her as though they get an awful lot of cats in the back of vans, being dropped off with startling regularity back at the depot?

I was genuinely worried – after all, if Peppa is going to get anywhere (I’m looking at you, space behind the cupboards above the boiler) she will do. She’s far to nosey for her own good. When they say curiosity killed the cat, they were probably talking about Peppa as she sticks her nose into something that she shouldn’t be doing. 

I wondered how long I should give it before I phoned to report my suspicions….

Then she came through the cat flap.

 


Firestarter

August 17, 2014

Before we went away we used the last of the kitchen matches to light the oven. To cook a meal, not just to leave the oven on while we were gone. This fact completely eluded us until last night when we wanted to cook something for tea and, well, couldn’t because we didn’t have the means to make fire.

There were two options open to us at this time. Well, three – but one of those was to get a takeaway. We could walk to the shop – a trip of some five minutes – to get a fresh box of matches, or go next door and ask to borrow a lighter. Neither of these were particularly appealing, to the point that I actually spent several minutes pondering how I could make fire without having to do either of those two things.

We used to have one of those piezo-electric lighters sitting in the back of a drawer. But, apparently, we threw it out because it was so crap at igniting gas we weren’t sure if it was actually the lighter that caused the oven to light or just a random spark somewhere in the house exploding the gas that had built up as we frantically pumped at the handle.

I reasoned that we wouldn’t have thrown it out completely. That we would merely have moved it to a new place where it would live out its days – unwanted, but not discarded. This, it turns out, is not the case. Or, if it is, then we have put it somewhere that no-one has any hope of finding it. Although as I type this now, part of my wonders if it might be in one of the drawers in the shed for some reason best known to someone else. It probably isn’t, but I might have to go and have a look tomorrow anyway to satisfy my curiosity. 

So failing that, how could I make fire. A lot of my solutions to lighting the oven involved something already being on fire at that time. We could use a skewer, I thought. As a means of transporting the flame, sure, but not as a means of acquiring said flame. I suppose I could have focused the rays of the sun using my glasses – if it’s good enough for Lord Of The Flies it’s good enough for us – but it was cloudy, so that one was out.

I figured I could start a small fire by shorting out two 9V batteries by fastening them together, but then I realised that no-one has spare 9V batteries kicking around. Most people have one 9V battery in their house, and it’s in the smoke alarm. No-one ever has a spare, except maybe my parents, but they have enough spares of everything to survive an apocalypse.

In the end, I put on my trainers and resigned myself to going to the shop.

Luckily though I’d managed to fanny about enough, looking for some other mythical source of fire, that Carole had gone next door and got us a lighter. Albeit getting next-door out of bed in the process (it was just after 6pm). So it turns out there was something else in the house I could use to make fire.

Carole.


Walking Woes

August 16, 2014

There’s something about the streets of Edinburgh which stop people from just walking normally. It’s as if the whole city has been taken, by their parents, for new shoes and have to walk in them to see if they fit before the shoe shop person does that pushing thing with the toes. And they just can’t walk properly. No matter how hard they try, it’s next to impossible to walk normally.

The most muttered phrase of the entire Fringe is probably, “Oh for fuck’s sake…” as yet another person or group of persons stops for no discernible reason in the middle of a busy street. And, while doing so manage to piss off not only the people who have just walked up your arse, but also the people coming the other way because we’ve all found ourselves mashed together in a gaggle of arms and legs.

Factor in some rain and some umbrellas and it’s bloody carnage.

It was happening all over the place. There were people just stopping at the top of the escalators at the station. People just stopping halfway across North Bridge. Just stopping in the middle of the Royal Mile. Just everywhere. Stopping. Or walking very slowly as if they were about to stop. But never stopping. You just couldn’t tell what was going to happen. And weaving. Lots of weaving, as though they sense you’re trying to get round them. 

There must be something about Edinburgh which encourages people not to move. Something which stops people slipping into a herd mentality and moving as a pack, and instead just forces random individuals to stop in the middle of the street regardless of the number of people around them. Quiet streets, busy streets, it made no difference. If people needed to stop they would just stop, often accompanied by the aforementioned muttering or a very British tut.

The only time people didn’t seem to want to stop was when it came to crossing roads. Edinburgh has – I think – unique crossings. They remain displaying a red man to the point where you’ve stood there for five minutes and nothing has gone past. You start to think that the crossing might, in some way, be broken. The red man should be a green man. It stands to reason. It just simply must be the case. You set foot on the carriageway, and a car will approach you at speed even though you are 99.99% sure all the lights in any direction are currently displaying red. They’re all like that. Try crossing Princes Street at the crossing just down the road from McDonalds and you could actually die while you wait for the man to go green while there is NO TRAFFIC MOVING in any direction.

We probably saw more people nearly run over in the last five days, than we have for the rest of the year. People were diving out into traffic with startling regularity, glaring at any driver who had the temerity to hoot their horn or gesticulate wildly in what is universally known as the symbol for “careless chap”. 

 


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