Sick, Innit

April 17, 2014

Picture the scene. A darkened bedroom. It’s not too hard to picture because, well, it’s dark. Imagine a dark room in which you have an awareness of where all the major pieces of furniture are so you don’t, say, walk into the end of the bed like an idiot but will stub your toe on any boxes that are poking out from underneath.

That’s kind of the scene you need to picture.

For completeness, imagine it’s 11.30 at night and you’re on your way to bed clutching your mobile phone and – for some reason – your Kindle (even though you’re going to a dark room to sleep).

Imagine that you’re walking around your side of the bed when your foot – the left, if you want to be specific about these things – comes into contact with something on the floor. Something cold on the floor.

Now, as this is our bedroom all bets are off as to what this may or may not be on the floor. There are often, for reasons I will never understand, random coins scattered about the place. A foot, the left, on a coin could recreate the sensation of cold that was felt.

It wasn’t a coin, though.

It was a pile of cat sick with a monumental hair ball in it.

And I had walked through it in a moment which was quite reminiscent of when Victor Meldrew goes to put his slippers on and slips his foot into a decomposing hedgehog which has somehow found its way into the bedroom.

One of the curious things about cat sick – and one Carole enjoyed pointing out to me this morning – is that even though it’s sick, it doesn’t really smell. And it doesn’t. It also doesn’t coat the underside of your foot either. Which is nice, but it doesn’t mean that I’m going to want to splash through puddles of the stuff like a child kicking through a pile of leaves.

There was also a massive pile of sick on the bed – which was lovely. Absolutely lovely. I had to ferry it from the bedroom to the bathroom, gipping all the way, while Carole sat up in bed, offered to help and then fell immediately back to sleep again. I mean, I suppose I have to count my blessings that I trod in the sick that I did tread in, otherwise we would have gone to bed completely oblivious to the fact that there was the majority of the inside of a cat bouncing around at the bottom of the duvet.

Having said all that, I can’t deny that it did add an element of tension to proceedings when Peppa climbed under the duvet to go to sleep…



The Circle Of Life

April 16, 2014

The garden section of the B&Q in Huddersfield has a lovely sort of circle of life motif going on at the moment. That’s one of the things I noticed as we called in there tonight for some soil – two bags – and some assorted things that we didn’t really go for. And, if I hadn’t managed to dissuade Carole from looking, we’d have probably been coming back with some wood. Nothing specific. Just some wood.

But yes, the circle of life. Birth, life, death. That’s all happening right there in the garden section of B&Q Huddersfield.

In the plants section, there’s a sign which urges you not to disturb the area as there is a bird nesting in there. Which gives you some indication of how long the plants sit around in B&Q. The next time you think, “Well, this one looks a bit on the dead side” just remember that it would appear that they actually hang around long enough for a bird to build a nest in.

Obviously, when you see a sign that says “Do not disturb – a bird is nesting” the first thing you do is go and have a look. Not a disturbing look. Just a look. As though you’re a hidden camera on Springwatch but are actually a human. I didn’t see anything. I didn’t hear anything. I saw what could have been a nest or might have just been a B&Q plant that was so far gone it was beyond all salvation.

But what I did see was the opposite end of the spectrum. Because above the sheds, there is some netting. Quite high up. I’m not sure what it is there to do. Whether it’s to catch things that ne’er-do-wells and rapscallions might throw over the fence or something, I’m not sure. But in that netting was a bird. Tangled up. And dead.

So in one corner there’s a nest and the promise of new life, and on the opposite side there’s death and the promise of bits of rotting bird dripping onto people browsing the sheds.

Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t think that maybe – just maybe – the bird in the net is actually the bird that is nesting. After all the nest site was very quiet and the bird in the net is trapped in the underside. But nature wouldn’t be that cruel. It wouldn’t do that after a B&Q employee, in their best handwriting, has written that lovely note about not disturbing it.

Which possibly disturbed it and caused it to fly into a net where it became entangled and died….

The circle of life is a cruel thing.


Meowsical Statues

April 15, 2014

My other grandma – as opposed to the one who is currently sucking all the joy out of my parents – was really into cats. She loved cats. She had cats. Lots of cats. Siamese cats. As in the breed, rather than they being joined together awkwardly. And, of course, when you have a lot of cats you inevitably find yourself in possession of things that are cat-shaped, have cats on or are, in fact, cats.

When she died, there were a lot of cat-shaped things to remove from the house. I don’t really know where they all went but we are in possession of a couple of them. One, in particular, terrifies Carole so much it has to live in a cupboard. It’s a pottery cat. A Siamese with insanely bright blue eyes and a really fierce stare.

A stare which gives her the willies, in much the same way as one particular doll in the Childhood Museum in Edinburgh freaks the bejesus out of me to the extent that I cannot be alone in the room of dolls for fear they are going to come to life and kill me.

So this cat has lived on various shelves. It’s spent some time looking out of the kitchen window. Some time sitting by the radio. It’s had paint dripped on it from when we painted the kitchen. And it still continues to stare. When it was out, it would be turned round to face the wall or any direction where it wouldn’t be staring with its cold, dead, painted-on eyes into Carole’s very soul.

And then she decided we should maybe put it in a cupboard.

You know, as you do. All the best ornaments should be put in a cupboard.

So we put it in the pan cupboard. And there it sat, in and amongst the pans. Until a freak gravity related incident caused it to fall from the cupboard a good couple of feet onto the concrete floor of the kitchen. Now this kitchen floor has claimed many an item. Almost anything that falls onto it will break – glasses, mugs, and most recently Carole’s unpainted gnome. So, as we watched the cat fall in the slow motion that things seem to happen in when you can sense tragedy, we were basically planning what we’d do with the pieces and how we’d come to terms with our loss and/or go about explaining the loss of the cat to my mum who wouldn’t really remember that we had the bloody thing in the first place.

But then it bounced.

It bloody bounced on a concrete floor. It remained unscathed. No chips. No cracks. Nothing. Still the same evil painted on eyes as before. It’s back in the cupboard now. Sitting in the top bowl in a bowl tower in the plate cupboard, which is a couple of feet higher than the pan cupboard.

So if, heaven forbid, there happened to be another gravity-related incident…



Milking It

April 14, 2014

I was faced with a terrible, terrible choice today.

Do I do the walk of shame home from the supermarket, proudly displaying a large pack of loo rolls, or do I buy the Tesco value pack which is smaller but, one would suspect, thinner than Kate Moss standing sideways?

I mean, really there’s no contest. There’s no way I’d risk subjecting anyone to the inherent dangers of a value pack of bog roll. It’s just not worth it.  You know what they say – buy cheap, buy twice. Or, in the case of the loo roll,  buy cheap, have to wash your hands a lot.

So instead I chose to walk from the shop to home with a large pack of loo roll swinging away by the handily pre-installed handles. Because there’s a taboo about loo roll. Everyone has it, everyone uses it, but everyone also hides it. Whether it’s under a knitted flamenco dancer or in a cupboard where no-one can see it, loo roll is one of those things that is really useful but no-one wants to see. Like Katie Hopkins. But useful. And there’s nothing worse than walking along carrying it, knowing that everyone who sees me is going to know that I go to the toilet. The shame. How would I live with the shame of it all. How?

I’ll tell you how. I bought four pints of milk, which I put in a carrier bag and used that to hide the loo rolls as I carried them. Yeah, you can’t see the loo rolls now can you? Not when I have a big four pinter of milk in front of them. Not when they’re mainly just obscured down the middle, totally taking away the obviousness of what I’m carrying. Like putting sticking plasters on your nipples and going topless.

Cunning huh?

On an entirely unrelated note, though, would anyone like quite a large drink of milk?

What’s Flat At The Back Of The Shed? Is It A Monster…

April 13, 2014

We finally cleaned the shed out today. After however many months of not being able to get into it, we now still can’t get into it but in a much neater and more organised way. And that’s only because we couldn’t face the prospect of queuing up at the tip to throw away the collection of random things that we had put into the shed to get them out of the house (and, probably, because putting them in the loft was too much effort).

But, as expected, we did come across something dead in the shed. A mouse. Or what used to be a mouse, but was now just a flat, three-limbed, furry bookmark of a mouse. It had clearly died some time ago and had, somehow, been mummified in the sealed air of the leaning, damp and hole-ridden shed. And flattened, as thought it had been collected by someone who was really into pressing rodents and had placed it between the pages of a heavy book and placed further heavy volumes on top. And, of course, Carole found it and exited the shed post-haste, calling on me to sweep it up and remove the corpse to a place where it would not trouble her again.

I’ll tell you what, though, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation where you’re trying to sweep up an entirely flat, three-limbed mouse, but if you have you’ll know just how hard they are to get onto a dustpan. I mean, when you’re sweeping up you expect there to be a certain amount of stuff which will resist your first attempt to get it into aq dustpan, slipping under the lip or just simply not moving at all no matter how much you go at it with a brush. You don’t really expect a flat, limb-deficient rodent to be one of those things, though. But there I was, in the shed, struggling to get the bloody thing swept up.

And I couldn’t ask Carole for help because she was as far away from the mouse as she could be without leaving our property. All the time shouting that I couldn’t put it in one of the buckets for the tip because she didn’t want a dead, flat mouse in the car with her.

I’m not sure why.

I’ve seen a lot of episodes of Most Haunted, never once has Derek Accorah been plagued by visions of a malevolent spirit mouse.

But having said that, I have seen most episodes of Tom & Jerry, and a flat mouse only needs to blow into its own thumb to regain its previous mouse shape… so maybe she has a point.

Hold Please, Callee

April 12, 2014

Hello. This is a marketing call. Unfortunately none of our agents are available to speak to you at the moment so you might like to hold until someone is available…

Sorry, but what?

You’ve phoned me and I have to wait on hold until someone is available to talk to me about something that I don’t want, have never wanted or would never want in a million years? Why would anyone want to wait on hold until an agent in a call centre on the other side of the globe, claiming his name is Steve, tries to outline the benefits of loft insulation, a hitherto undiscovered clause in something or other that allows anyone with two legs to claim a new boiler, or whether or not someone should make a PPI claim against their bank or building society?

Does anyone actually hold?

The recorded message goes on to say … or if you hang up, we will call you back at a later date so that you don’t miss out.

Oh wait, I could be missing out? I should totally probably wait on the line then. I wouldn’t want to miss out on whatever it is that you have there at the end of this mystery phone call that I have to now wait for as part of my role as the customer. And after all, if you do call me back there might not be anyone available to take my – no, sorry, make my – call and I’ll have to go through the same faff all over again.

Don’t get me wrong, there would be a certain undeniable pleasure in waiting until an operator is available, just to say “no thanks” and hanging up, but there’s no indication how long you would actually be waiting. And it will probably turn out, in a story in the Daily Mail or something, that these marketing phone calls are actually costing people a small fortune thanks to some loophole in the telephone system which – I suppose – another cold caller could ring up to warn you about later. Like those ones who totally work for “the internet” and ring up when your computer has been infected by viruses that they can see from their massive control room which displays every item connected to the internet in the entire world.

I realise that this message has come about because these poor battery callers, held in cages grouped so tightly together there is little or no room for movement, are targeted to make so many calls that a computer makes all the calls automatically whether anyone is free or not. And that it’s just a cunning way to keep your attention in a better way than listening to the background noise of a New Delhi call centre while you wait for someone to realise that there is an open line before telling them to never call again.

Although don’t think that the fun of actually holding, and then putting them on hold until I’m available hasn’t crossed my mind…

Pigeon Street

April 11, 2014

I’d love to know what it is about pigeons that terrify people. I mean, I suppose I get the thing where they suddenly take off when you get near to them – that could be a little bit startling I suppose. But in general pigeons aren’t that frightening. They don’t hang around in gangs and attack you with flick knives. Occasionally you see one with a manky foot. That’s about as scary as pigeons get.

This morning, as I walked between the train station and my office, I had the pleasure of following a man who was terrified of pigeons. Well, I say pigeons plural, it was actually just the same pigeon approaching at different stages of his journey (it genuinely was – I chose to observe the pigeon and ended up thinking it was just having a bit of fun).

Each time the pigeon took to the air the man would duck and weave as though the pigeon were heading straight for him. As the man was one of those balding-but-insists-on-growing-a-pony-tail types, I started to imagine that the pigeon had earmarked his hair for some nesting material and was trying to get close enough to pluck a few long, silver locks from his scalp.

Sadly, though, the man’s expert jinking and weaving meant that the pigeon was unable to secure any prime building products, but it still had a good go and scaring the crap out him at least three times – so much so that at one point he audibly went “gah!” but that was as nothing compared to the pigeon’s final attack – a master plan that you wouldn’t believe a pigeon was capable of hatching.

Because, our long-haired friend was so preoccupied with the location and attack plan of the circling pigeon that he wasn’t entirely watching where he was going. And while it would have been – and believe me, it really would – hilarious to see him walk into a piece of street furniture be it bus shelter, lamp-post or bin, the pigeon had far grander ideas.

Because the pigeon, scourge of the streets that it is, almost had this man run over. Actually mown down by a car. It was only by virtue of the fact that he happened to glance to his right, one he’d stopped watching the pigeon’s every move, that he noticed an approaching car and stopped dead, possibly brown-trousering himself in the process, in the gutter and narrowly avoiding death.



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